January 8, 2016

Have The Saudis Lost America's Patience?

Photo: President Obama and King Salman sharing a laugh about the mess they've made of Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, and the region in general.

“Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” ― Mario Puzo, The Godfather.

The execution of a relatively obscure and toothless Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia sent shock waves across the Middle East, and was instantly framed as a sectarian act in the world media. Even U.S. officials were set aback by the Saudi decision to get rid of this cleric. What got lost in the news was that many more Sunni extremists were executed so sectarianism had nothing to do with this latest round of royal executions.

Saudi Arabia was just doing what it felt needed to be done to ensure its security and cohesion as a state. The fact that it has to execute at all to create fear in the populace and reinforce the illusion of strength shows that Saudi Arabia is indeed headed for a momentous collapse in the near future. And the Saudis themselves know better than anyone else that Uncle Sam won't be present at the deathbed of their kingdom.

Did the Saudis purposely execute this particular cleric at this particular time in order to further inflame tensions in the region and invite a response from the Islamic Republic, whether calculated or not? Of course. Could he have been locked away in a dungeon instead of making him a martyr? Sure. That would've been smart. But this was a card that the Saudis were going to play sooner or later. They knew they had a hot hand, and it had to be played.

But, it's too simplistic to see this execution as purely a move to antagonize the Shia clerics in Iran and disrupt the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal that could see Washington and Tehran amplify their relations. These executions were also a show of muscle by the Saudi prison state to the Saudi population who are seeing ISIS being wiped out in Syria and Saudi forces losing ground to the Houthis in Yemen.

Also, it's just a fact of political life that prison states and unwise rulers who rely excessively on force have to execute from time to time to keep the population in line and remind everyone who is in charge. Iran and China, also prison states, have executed as many dissidents, activists, and rebels as Saudi Arabia has, if not more, so it shouldn't be singled out. The only difference is that China and Iran are better run prison states, with more thoughtful executioners, while Saudi Arabia is an unstable fiefdom ready to explode and has grown too passionate for its own good in its hate for Shiites.

Another thing to keep in mind is the political manipulation of this cleric's death by the Islamic Republic who changed street names after him and hailed him as a martyr. This was not the responsible response, because, at the end of the day, the executions were an internal Saudi issue. They can kill whoever they want. It's their problem alone to deal with.

And the idea that this cleric was some kind of oppressed victim or a secular champion who would bring positive change to Saudi Arabia is baloney. He wanted to create an Islamic Republic lite in his part of the woods, which can't be done peacefully, so, please, save the tears, or in the case of the President, the one single tear. Not everyone who is killed by a tyrant is a martyr.


In a column published on January 4th in The New York Times, the official paper of lies and half-truths, Toby Craig Jones wrote; "As is clear in Syria, Iraq and even further afield, sectarian hostility has taken on a life beyond what the kingdom’s architects are able to manage," and added, "That the kingdom’s leaders have embraced sectarianism so recklessly suggests that they have little other choice."

Saudi Arabia has made its bed. But the problem is that it wants everyone else to lie on it, too. And no doubt there is a lot of room, for two, or three, or even four. But that doesn't mean you go jumping on it like mad animals. The Islamic Republic, for whatever stupid reason, decided not only to jump on the bed but also got under the sheets and wrestled with the Saudi royals in a silly, pillow-fighting tussle.

Changing street names, burning embassies, and recalling ambassadors is petty shit. Why are they so angry for? Saudi Arabia won't even be around in a decade so why does it need an embassy anyways? The burned embassy should be converted to a children's school or something useful like that.

It's good to laugh at this madness. And madness is what it is. After the Saudi embassy was burned in Tehran in response to the execution of this Shia cleric, it became clear to everyone that the monkeys are running the joint. The question is will Washington continue to play the role of the two-faced prison guard, sit back, relax, and watch as these two Muslim gangs fight each other to the point of destruction, or step in as a real global leader would and stop the march off the cliff? After what we've seen come to pass as a result of its destructive policies in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, and across the region, the answer is probably the former.