January 8, 2016

U.S. Expert Hillary Mann Leverett On Saudi Arabia-Iran Tensions, And What Washington Should Do About It

"And now, a word from the President!
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Gettin voted into the White House
Everything lookin good to the people of the world
But the Mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin' down
like lettin' a big drug shipment through
And send 'em to the poor community
So we can bust you know who
So voters of the world keep supportin' me
And I promise to take you very far
Other leaders better not upset me
Or I'll send a million troops to die at war"
- Geto Boys, "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta"

"Drug money laundering in support of Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a strict interpretation of the Koran in the future governance of Saudi Arabia, the return of the feared religious police, the «mutaween», and a crackdown on legitimate internal dissent in Saudi Arabia: this is the legacy and governance style that King Salman brings to Saudi Arabia." - Wayne Madsen, "New Saudi King Was Major Supporter of Al Qaeda" Strategic Culture Foundation, January 25, 2015.

Video Title: The Heat: Rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia pt2. Source: CCTV America. Date Published: January 7, 2016. Description: 
Saudi Arabia executed a high profile Shia cleric Jan. 2, sparking New Saudi King Was Major Supporter of Al Qaeda outrage and inflaming long-simmering tensions with Iran. Iran protested outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and in response Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties. Is this a sectarian divide between regional powers, or a fight for dominance? The Heat interviewed three experts about the severed diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia: Hillary Mann-Leverett, CEO of Stratega, a political risk firm, and co-author of “Going To Tehran.”
"Q: So now we have a situation where Saudi Arabia has expressed its displeasure at the improvement in relations between Iran and the United States. It's not very happy with that. Does its action now, and the resulting differences it has with Iran, now force the United States to take sides?

Hillary Mann Leverett: Well, the problem for the United States is that we're so heavily invested and dependent on Saudi Arabia in so many ways. For example, we have sold the Saudis probably a hundred billion dollars in weapons over the past seven years, which not only enriches various defense contractors here in Washington, but subsidizes the U.S. military posture worldwide. We wouldn't be able to produce the military systems that we do today without that kind of subsidy. So there is a tremendous built-in bias for Saudi Arabia, a built-in dependency on Saudi Arabia.

So, as we're trying to slowly have a more constructive relationship with Iran. . . It's not that the United States can stay neutral here. It would mean that the United States would have to take a stand against Saudi Arabia. Some in Washington in unprecedented fashion are saying that we should. That we should actually take a stand against Saudi Arabia. We should condemn them for these mass executions, not just the execution of the Shia cleric, but forty-seven of them at the same time. And we should be more opposed to their war in Yemen which is opening up another battlefield for Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to feed on. That we should take a stand against that. But I think you'll see the U.S. administration very reluctant to go down that road because there is still a deep mutual dependency between Saudi Arabia and the United States." [3:33 - 5:11].