06 March 2011

Regime Alteration: Obama's Emerging Response to the Arab Revolt

The Obama administration could end up in a very dicey situation if/when the Arab Revolt spreads to Saudi Arabia.  The House of Saud is likely to crack down on demonstrators with a very heavy hand.  Oil prices could explode, and Israel would go bonkers.  The Wall Street Journal just published a detailed report describing how the Obama Administration is wavering in its support for democracy demonstrators, urging patience, and hoping the protesters will work within existing monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, etc.) as well as Yemen for gradual reforms (Libya excepted, of course).  The curious euphemism for the emerging desperation to stiffen the three pillars* of our crumbling Middle East policy is "regime alteration."

The attached essay by veteran middle east correspondent Robert Fisk puts the theory of regime alteration into a moral and economic perspective.
* The three pillars of our ME foreign policy are - 
  1. Uncritical support, protection and subsidy of Israel, including providing aid/defense money to buy Jordanian and Egyptian cooperation in the Israeli suppression of Palestinians.
  2. Manipulating oil flows and rigging prices, by [a] protecting Saudi Arabia (and the Persian Gulf Arab states) in return for Saudi adjustments (up and down) of oil production to assure a high and stable world oil prices, and by [b] limiting oil exports from--and/or preventing sales of oil drilling/producing/refining/pipeline equipment to--countries that don't cooperate in US control policies, most notably Iraq and post-Shah Iran. (Note: the failure of the U.S. occupation of Iraq has destroyed our 20 years of successful restriction of Iraqi oil exports and, even worse for U.S. control of oil prices, resulted in leasing of huge Iraqi oil reserves to Russia, China and others.)
  3. Recycling of petrodollars via weapons sales to oil-exporting countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, etc. (i.e. countries that cooperate in assuring high world oil prices) and via petrodollar flow to U.S. banking/investment houses and  into U.S. Treasury paper.
Additional point: Since the end of WWII, these pillars have been supported and masked by efforts to limit Soviet and Iranian influence in the Middle East and N. Africa.

Chuck Spinney & Pierre Sprey

Saudis mobilise thousands of troops to quell growing revolt

By Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent
Independent, Saturday, 5 March 2011
Saudi Arabia was yesterday drafting up to 10,000 security personnel into its north-eastern Shia Muslim provinces, clogging the highways into Dammam and other cities with busloads of troops in fear of next week's "day of rage" by what is now called the "Hunayn Revolution".
Saudi Arabia's worst nightmare – the arrival of the new Arab awakening of rebellion and insurrection in the kingdom – is now casting its long shadow over the House of Saud. Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.
The opposition is expecting at least 20,000 Saudis to gather in Riyadh and in the Shia Muslim provinces of the north-east of the country in six days, to demand an end to corruption and, if necessary, the overthrow of the House of Saud. ... continued