Bankrupt Saudi Diplomacy
The American President Donald Trump’s charge that Iran supports terrorism does not square up with the reality. It was utterly laughable that Trump was leveling this charge while speaking to representatives of 50 Islamic countries from a podium in Saudi Arabia.
Not merely the venue, even the timing was grotesquely absurd. He was speaking after the millions of Iranian voters had given a second tenure to a liberal like Hassan Rouhani and rejected the hardliner Ibrahim Raisi. One would wonder whether the US President, the world’s most legally powerful man, is so out of sync with the times and reality or spoke what he did under the pressure of the arm manufacturers’ lobby that has a vice like grip over the US State Department.
The Saudi regime has been accused of the worst crimes against humanity, women and the civilized world It not only imprisons human rights activists, muzzles the media and suppresses voices for reform within but has also been engaged in a genocide in Yemen and was a partner in the destruction of Syria by funneling arms to Jabhat Al-Nusra militants. Curiously, Trump had accused the same Saudi kingdom of being the biggest financier of the world terrorism on his campaign trail. That all these accusations were forgotten so soon merely to clinch a $110 billion arms deal with the Kingdom is totally weird. It also speaks of who calls the shots in the US democracy and how the White House plays handmaiden to MNCs like Raytheon, McDonald Douglas and Lockheed Martin. How could the US forget that the 9/11 terrorists had their origin in Saudi Arabia, which is also home to Osama bin Laden, the most notorious fugitive designated by the CIA?
Apparently, the Saudis have been successful to rope in Mr. Trump into their campaign to isolate Iran in their race for regional supremacy. How far they will succeed in this venture is a matter of guess. It is apparent that the USA is arming Saudi Arabia, to the teeth and only boosting prospects of further instability in the region. Saudi involvement in killing of hapless Shia communities in Yemen has wrought havoc for the region and is all likely to diminish chances for peace.
Trump has begun pursuing a new agenda in the Middle East which was not on his radar prior to his election i.e., to stitch an alliance between Israel and the oil-rich Arab Sheikhdoms with twin objectives: distracting the world’s attention from Israeli expansionism and projecting Iran as the major bugbear. The Saudis are allowing themselves to be drawn into the vortex despite being deep into debt. Once a cash-rich state, the Kingdom will now be servicing its debts from the World Bank and will be pinching money from pilgrims as oil no longer brings it the required finances. The new arms from the US may embolden it to look into Iran’s eye, but they may well be used to save the King and the largest princely family from the people, who are restless due to ever-rising repression. Saudi Arabia is playing with fire by ratcheting up tensions with its eastern neighbor without any serious rationale for it. It is in no position to bear the fallout of the embers it is stoking. Having been behind bringing the US armed intervention in the region i.e., in Iraq, the Saudis do not know the price they will end up paying by trying to isolate Iran and befriending Israel.