You know, it is the most curious thing. I opened my newspaper earlier in the week (not in a web-browser, either – I am archaic like that); and saw the Saudi Foreign Minister boldly stating that his country’s recent declaration of economic war against Canada was motivated by opposition to “an unacceptable interference in our domestic affairs”.
Some might say that, as applies Saudi Arabia, anybody choosing to intervene in what goes in in that country is much akin to the man who sees a burning building and then rushes in to try to rescue survivors. Certainly, it is a dangerous prospect to ‘get involved’ (you are liable to get “burnt”) – and smokescreens and incendiary circumstances abound!
Yet what truly caught my eye was the breathtaking display evident in this Saudi hench-minister’s remarks of what psychologists would describe as “projection”.
If you are unfamiliar with the term in its psychiatric context, it refers to something of a “defence mechanism” – whereby a person will attempt to avoid having to deal with undesirable elements or conduct within themselves by “projecting” them out onto other people. It is not always the sure sign of an unsound mind, and one can argue that it’s inherent in just about everybody at some level. But in its more extreme – that is to say, pathological, if not outright delusional – instances, it appears to be especially common in those undergoing “personal” … and i note with some interest, “political” crisis.
Given the significant upheaval which accompanied Mohammed bin Salman’s arc of ascent into the ‘driving seat’ of Saudi politics (featuring the arrest of hundreds of otherwise strongly influential Saudis, and questionably accurate rhetoric about curbing “extremism” and the powers of the clericy), those causative features would appear to render it a pretty perspicacious diagnosis for the situation with Saudi Arabia at the moment.
Indeed, given his apparenet eagerness to “reform” his Kingdom, it is perhaps unsurprising for bin Salman’s mouthpiece to have found it far easier to attempt to decry the alleged excesses of others, than to acknowledge Saudi Arabia’s own severely morally dubious track-record when it comes to “unacceptable interference in [other countries’] domestic affairs”.
Not that I particularly care to keep track of them; but the sheer scale and frequency of Saudi pie-fingering going on in its geopolitical neighbourhood (to say nothing of various international forae) surely places it almost on a par with its allies in the American and Israeli espionage and military establishments.
Less than nine months ago, we were treated to the supremely unedifying spectacle of Saudi Arabia summonsing its pet Prime Minister of Lebanon – Saad Hariri – to Riyadh; whereupon he was arrested, assaulted, illicitly detained, and prodded into delivering an eventual forced resignation speech so transparently elicited under duress I’m surprised he wasn’t blinking hidden messages in morse code during the course of it.
But was this “unacceptable interference in Lebanon’s domestic affairs”? “Of course not,” say the Saudis.
After all, resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister did not happen in capital of Lebanon – but rather, in capital of Saudi Arabia. Following alleged beatings by Saudi operatives, and confinement in Saudi house. So this is prima facie not a ‘domestic affair’.
Instead, it is an international incident.
Although the Saudis will no doubt protest that what happened next was a *string* of stabs at “interference” in their domestic affairs. For not only did French President Emmanuel Macron personally fly to Saudi Arabia in order to extricate Hariri, but the Lebanese had the temerity not to simply accept Hariri’s resignation at face value (or at all) – thus placing *themselves* in the direct path of the ensuing implicit Saudi declaration of war against them. Even that arch meddler in the domestic affairs of other countries, America, got involved in the act – publicly chiding the Saudis, and privately castigating them for what had occurred.
It is a strange thing indeed, seeing the Americans and the French on the same side as Iran in a geopolitical skirmish; stranger still that France’s intervention – as the former Colonizing Power – along with American flexing of hegemonic muscles , may actually have (at least temporarily) *improved* the situation. But fortunately, some normality was restored to world affairs following Israel’s announcement of its support for the Saudi position.
What a loyal friend the Wahhabists have in the Zionist Entity.
Now if you were hopelessly uninformed – as well as heedlessly optimistic -, you might perhaps be forgiven for presuming that this above-mentioned farce was something of a ‘one-off’, rather than being simply one of the more recent data-points in a by now well-trodden pattern.
Yet it was a mere five months before the Saudis attempted their intriguing new spin upon the concept of ‘Palace Coup’ [insofar as the “palace” in question is customarily supposed to be located in the country [in question] whose leadership is being ‘transitioned’ – not a mansion somewhere in Saudi] , in June of 2017, that we saw a Saudi-led coalition endeavour to impose a blockade upon Qatar.
Why so? Well, you see, the Saudis appeared to believe that the Qataris were exerting an ‘improper influence’ upon the domestic affairs of other countries through Al Jazeerah, alongside other mechanisms of promulgating ‘extremist ideology’. And, more worryingly, that Qatar was apparently engaged in supporting a quite bewildering array of armed groups across the Middle East … including al-Nusra in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen as well as the Iranians more generally, extremist Sunni organizations in Saudi Arabia itself, al-Qaeda, ISIS all over the place, and vague unspecified forces apparently responsible for destabilizing Libya. Inter alia.
Now, to be blunt about it .. this is just bizarre. I understand why Al-Jazeerah may be looked upon with distaste by various powers, polities, and people who have a derogatory view on it. But even to somebody with only a vague understanding of the politics (and religious dynamics) of the modern Middle East, that ‘laundry list’ of organizations the Qataris are alleged to have been supporting and sympathizing with ought raise not so much ‘alarm bells’ as a full-on air raid siren. It not only heedlessly mixes Sunni and Shi’ite groups who are often *literally fighting each other* (which would suggest that, if true, the Qataris had no actual coherent foreign policy other than the incitement of general chaos all across that part of the world without any desire for serious advancement of any particular geopolitical aims in so doing) … but if you look a bit closer at it, you will see that almost everything on that list *not* involving support for Iran/Iranian-aligned groups – is actually something Saudi Arabia is or was *itself* doing, and doing quite vehemently.
What is that word for somebody seeing characteristics of themself in another, as a ‘defence mechanism’ against them being identified in one’s self?
Oh, that’s right!
I will not go into detail with the evidence and the precise ambits here; but suffice to say that the Saudi linkage to both the “spreading of extremist ideology”, and the altogether *too* comfortable relationship between its oil-wealth and the bank-accounts of quite a number of Sunni terrorist or militant organizations … is pretty well-known and well attested.
(Even if the Atlanticist powers don’t care to admit it – a UK governmental report into the financing of terrorism and extremist ideology in that country was prohibited from public release due to its identification of the UK ally Saudi Arabia as having a key role in these activities occurring on UK soil and elsewhere; while a similar pattern has played out with American intelligence documents detailing Saudi involvement in or at the very least permissive awareness of such conduct)
I would further point out that the main two states leaping to Saudi Arabia’s defence in this instance – Israel and the United States (the latter in the form of President Trump’s twitter account, at least) – are at the very least ‘complicit’, if not actively engaged in exactly these same aims. After all, the Israeli co-operation with al-Nusra is a matter of public record – reported on, of all places, in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz; while when ISIS accidentally shoots at Israelis, they are quick to issue formal apology to Israel (and it is the most curious thing, the IDF never *did* clarify just how they got the aforementioned cordial communique from ISIS … almost as if they’d already had a well-established back-channel of [liason] or something).
And as far as the Americans go – apart from John McCain’s beloved “moderate rebel” groups in Syria, I can only suggest that if they have suddenly decided that the destabilization of Libya is a problem, that perhaps they should take a long, hard look in the mirror if attempting to identify the culprits. I do not seem to recall ISIS [or its similar organizations] being in Libya prior to their ouster of Gaddafi (or, for that matter, radical religious extremists setting up armed states all across Northern Iraq and eastern Syria prior to the American ouster of Saddam Hussein, but I digress).
Trump’s statements on the issue appeared to suggest that he thought the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar was a direct result of his then-recent visit there to open the “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology” in Saudi Arabia.
Now, I shall say that last part again – because it’s very possible, if you’re reading swiftly, and are possessed of a rational mind and disposition, that you’ve misapprehended where the second quotation mark goes.
That’s the “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology” in Saudi Arabia. Not, much to my regret and chagrin, the “Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Saudi Arabia”. Although to be fair, one could quite sensibly argue that even despite its convenient location at the heart of the hornet’s nest in Riyadh … installing such an apparatus in Saudi Arabia itself would perhaps be akin to placing a few fire-extinguishers in Hell.
But I digress.
The long and the short of it is that the vast majority of the Saudi coalition’s claimed complaints against Qatar are things that Saudi Arabia, and its allies, have *themselves* been the primary guilty parties on.
Indeed, Trump’s statements in this direction (although it should be reiterated that these are not new elements of American policy in the area … simply the most brazen and forthright. And, due to the medium of communication they have been issued upon – the most public, as well as the most succinct. Truly, Trump on Twitter is a blunt instrument) are arguably evidence of *another* psychiatric diagnostic element – the ‘folie a deux’, a “madness shared by two”. Also known as “shared psychotic disorder”, it refers to the curious tendency of close associates to wind up sharing their delusions – creating a pervasive and mutually-reinforcing ‘alternate reality’ mindscape which can bear progressively less and less observable relationship to plainly obvious external reality.
This, of course, handily encapsulates & explains the American curious viewpoint on the modern Middle East – wherein stable, secular regimes are dastardly foes to be suppressed, while religious fundamentalist extremists are the ‘real’ “moderates” to be enthusiastically and militarily supported; and everybody agrees that ‘ISIS’ is a problem , yet all the co-deludees *also* maintain adamantly their position that the main warmakers *upon* ISIS , in the form of the heroes of the Iranian, Hezbollah, and Russian intervention forces are somehow the ‘real’ “antagonists” of the situation.
It also helps to describe the straight-up farcically bizarre situation occurring at present in Yemen – which for the last three years has been subjected to an ever-escalating Saudi-‘led’ and American-supported military ‘intervention’ characterized by indiscriminate bombing campaigns and blockades that have killed thousands. It is *also* characterized by what you might call “strange bedfellows” – for example, Qatar providing both air power and hundreds of troops to the Saudi coalition, yet being accused of being in league with the Houthis; and, more especially, the recent revelations that the Americans, considerably aided and abetted by their Saudi associates, are now *also* allying or otherwise supporting Al Qaeda in Yemen.
Or, to phrase it another way – the Houthis, along with many others in Yemen, can quite legitimately protest that the Saudis are engaged in an “unacceptable interference in our domestic affairs”. From thirty thousand feet, or ‘up close and personal’. Indeed, such opposition to Saudi interference in Yemeni affairs directly underpinned the Houthis’ opposition to the local Saudi Satrap, President Hadi, in the first place.
And it is not like the Saudi ‘interference’ as applies Yemen is limited only to Yemen itself, or the occasional illegal blockade of its supposed ‘allies’ in that confiict – as we have seen with Qatar.
Just under a year ago, Canada and the Netherlands put forward a motion at the UN to have this august body begin investigating allegations of war crimes carried out by the Saudis and their notional friends in Yemen.
This motion of inquiry ultimately went nowhere – as Saudi Arabia circulated a letter to various nations, threatening them with dire economic consequences derived from oil and other sanctions if they supported the proposal. Thus leading to the UK to pledge to veto the inquiry (previous rounds of Saudi pressure including statements from their Ambassador to London directly threatening the employment of “fifty thousand UK families”), and insist that only the Saudis could possibly investigate allegations that Saudis may have carried out atrocities.
Que ipse cucksodiet cucksodem, indeed.
Although I suppose that this means the Canadians cannot say they were not warned of what awaited them in seeking to state truths about Saudi Arabia in 2018.
It may very well be a proposition almost as hazardous to one’s health as “attempting to tell the truth about the Clintons”.
Need I go on?
It should be quite plainly apparent by now that when it comes to Saudi Arabia, “unacceptable interference in domestic affairs” is for them the pattern, the rule.
Provided it is the “domestic affairs” of others, of course. Hence why it is not possible to view the Saudi opposition to Western scrutiny in the context of the ongoing movements away from Anglosphere hegemony – as this is not a commitment to advancing the causes of Multipolarity. But a simple drive toward a Saudi regional hegemony – double-backed and double-buttressed with extremist-groups on various lengths of leash ‘in-country’ as well as massive and almost vaguely Mafia-esque (I say “almost” – I have no desire to insult the dons of organized crime via direct comparison to the foppish, effete, and literally criminally disorganized Saudi tools .. of state) ‘shakedowns’ of the West conducted via mechanisms that are less “oil diplomacy” than they are “oil fire” – that is in no way, shape, or form “multipolarity”. That is simply a more ambitious form of the archaic model of the Tributary-based Empire.
Yet to return to Saudi Arabia itself:
Once upon a time, the Saudis were not at all so ill-favourably disposed toward the notion of Western intervention in their domestic exigencies.
In 1990, American and other Western troops were sent en-masse to Saudi Arabia, in order to protect the Kingdom against the prospect of invasion by Saddam Hussein.
To be sure, not all Saudis were entirely welcoming of this development. If I recall correctly, Osama bin Laden, in the course of one of his interviews with Robert Fisk, directly singled out the apparent necessity of Mecca’s security being guaranteed by American troops as direct evidence of both the degeneracy of the House of Saud (leading to its inability to carry out the ‘sacred duty’ it had allegedly been charged with of custodianship over some of Islam’s holiest sites) – as well as the fundamental(ist) moral imperative of his ongoing struggle against the West.
But for the most part, the Saudi state was more than happy to welcome in the (other) ‘Imperialists’ – anything, after all, to keep them safe and secure from the righteous scourge of a more vital and independent Arab regime to their north.
Yet I have been thinking about this particular (American-led) interference a fair bit of late.
And in light of what we now know … what has since become overly and abundantly apparent about just exactly what Saudi Arabia is, who it supports, and which sorts of agenda it promulgates on the world stage …
I think I may be coming around to the Saudi point of view about non-interference – on that issue, and that issue alone.
That is to say, I can’t help but wonder whether the world might have been a better place had the Americans *not* interfered in Saudi affairs then – and just left the Kingdom to its own devices, its own fate.