THE ROVING EYE The Pentagon-Arab Spring love story
By Pepe Escobar
Anyone who hoped the Arab Spring might eventually take over the Persian Gulf
and those lands once known as Arabia Felix has enough reason to drown in
The Arab counter-revolution is stronger than ever - led by the House of Saud
and its monarchy minions at the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), officially
known as Gulf Cooperation Council. And their most precious ally is the
The New York Times made it official by relaying related White House/Pentagon
spin. Considering the NYT can hardly pose as an icon of credibility since those
months in 2002/2003 when its front page peddled outright lies about Iraq's
nukes and/or its
carnal ties with al-Qaeda, the spin must be translated.
The further militarization of the counter-revolutionary Persian Gulf -
especially via more boots on the ground in Kuwait, and more warships - is being
sold as a response to "a collapse of security in Iraq or a military
confrontation with Iran".
Note that both are pure wishful thinking. The NYT's martial sources insist,
"the withdrawal [from Iraq] could leave instability". The fact is the Nuri
al-Maliki government in Baghdad effectively booted the Americans out (the
Pentagon wanted at least 20,000 US boots on the ground after late 2011).
Thus the necessity of revamped Pentagon Central Command (Centcom) newspeak, as
well as a Plan B, a grand new "security architecture" for the Persian Gulf
crammed with air and naval hardware and even missile defense sold as a bland
"post-Iraq footprint in the region".
As for "the threat of a belligerent Iran", very precise interests - sections of
the industrial-military complex, the Republican party as a whole, the Israel
lobby, the majority of corporate media - have been cheerleading for a strike on
Iran for years.
Major General Karl R Horst, Centcom's chief of staff, is a big fan of
"commitment in building partner capability and partner capacity" (translation;
what we say, goes). He sold the firepower increase in the Persian Gulf to the
NYT as a bland, Hollywoodish "back to the future" strategy, focused on "smaller
but highly capable deployments and training partnerships with regional
Translation: lots of special forces, lots of weaponized drones and an inflation
of those "partnerships" the Pentagon and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) are so fond of. This is spun as "more efficient ways to deploy forces
and maximize cooperation with regional partners"; or the best way to "expand
security relationships", especially when there will be a "steep decrease in the
number of intelligence analysts assigned to the region" (translation; let the
towel heads do the footwork).
It also helps that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) proved their
unlimited love for NATO in the Libya war (while Bahrain and the UAE have boots
on the ground in Afghanistan). That Arab willingness to please the masters goes
a step further than the standard mantra, "the United States will not abandon
its commitments in the Persian Gulf."
To sum it all up; think of all this as the GCC as a de facto annex to NATO.
Behind the 'security architecture'
Out there in Tajikistan - where she was examining the non-proliferation of the
Arab Spring in Central Asia - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged
what was later leaked to the NYT as "a robust continuing presence" throughout a
region that "should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway
So this means the further militarization of the Persian Gulf comes as a
response for US/Saudi interference preventing democracy? That can't possibly
be; somebody's got to rewrite the script.
This whole scenario was predictable ever since Washington struck a deal with
Riyadh for the consolidation of the Arab counter-revolution; you get us an Arab
League vote so we take Muammar Gaddafi out, and we leave you alone to do what
you want in the Persian Gulf (see
Exposed: The US-Saudi deal Asia Times Online, April 2, 2011).
This led to the House of Saud invading Bahrain; Qatar training Libyan NATO
rebels in their own territory while also sending Qatari special forces to
Libya; and now a "stronger, multilateral security alliance" between the GCC and
Lost in space US senators spinning that the US withdrawal from Iraq will be
interpreted as a "strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East", is
business as usual. But it's another thing to see the NYT being gullible enough
- or basically treating its readers as idiots - as it swallows the Saudi
propaganda line that Iran is "the most worrisome threat" to all GCC members "as
well as to Iraq itself". It's as if the paper was edited in Riyadh.
As a matter of fact, the Barack Obama administration's foreign policy in the
Middle East seems to be edited in Riyadh. One just had to follow the US
corporate media falling over themselves to kiss the hem of the gown of the new
crown prince (the next in line for the throne) at the House of Saud, Prince
Nayef bin Abdul Aziz.
Nayef, 78, supported by the nec plus ultra of medievalism and
counter-revolutionary, damn-this-Arab Spring forces, is essentially the House
of Saud's inquisitor-in-chief. Since 1975 he has presided over the security
apparatus at the Ministry of Interior, which along with the US-trained National
Guard, faithful to frail King Abdullah, 87, are the best weaponized bodies in
Nayef is the Darth Vader of a 130,000-strong paramilitary force, all the
national and local police, customs, immigration, the coast guard, the border
guard and the dreaded religious police. His ministry's response to the Arab
Spring has been a non-stop crackdown. Anyone who's even suspected of trying to
start a political demonstration, not to mention a movement, is arrested; that
includes young people uploading YouTube videos.
There are at least 20,000 political prisoners in Saudi jails. Since April, it's
illegal to "threaten national security" or "insult Islam"; Nayef was
responsible for the vagueness of the new law and all that implies. Anyone
trying an Occupy Riyadh or Occupy Jeddah would be beheaded.
Yet for his countless Washington fans, who beam at this 36-year counter-terror
CV, Nayef is a "conservative pragmatist". This is his official denomination
since revealed by a WikiLeaks 2009 State Department cable.
No wonder they love Nayef in Washington. His Holy Trinity is Washington-Riyadh
joined at the hip; his hatred of Iran and Shi'ites in general (even Saudi
Shi'ites); and his war on terror commitment against al-Qaeda.
No one talks about his visceral hatred of women's rights, and his visceral
hatred of all things democratic; that's when the label "social conservative"
comes handy. At the start of the Arab Spring, Nayef dismissed Tunisians as
"basically French", and Cairo residents as "louche urbanites". The only true
Arabs were Saudis; democracy, as they see it (or as the House of Saud sees for
them) is for sissies.
In internal House of Saud politics, that palace intrigue realm of desert macho
men who love to dye their moustaches black, Nayef's top opponents are not his
brothers, the powerful Sudayri seven, who are now five (after the death of King
Fahd and recently Prince Sultan), named after the tribe of their mother Hassa,
Ibn Saud's favorite wife.
Still gerontocracy is the name of the game; brothers Bandar, Musaid and
Mishaal's health conditions are appalling. As for brother Salman, the governor
of Riyadh, he likes to pose as a journalist, as owner of the Asharq al-Awsat
Nayef's top opponents are the nephews of Ibn Saud, starting with wily former
Washington ambassador Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush; Prince Talal, father
of billionaire prince al-Waleed; Vice Minister of Defense Khaled bin Sultan;
and Prince Turki al-Faisal, former head of intelligence in the 1980s and former
Osama bin Laden pal.
None of these will threaten Nayef; what matters for the House of Saud is the
dynasty's survival. As King Abdullah prepares to meet his maker, the Pentagon
could not find a more reliable regional partner: Grand Inquisitor Nayef.
NATO will soon rule over the whole Mediterranean as a NATO lake. Africom is
implanting itself deeper and deeper in Africa. Centcom rules the Persian Gulf
with the GCC in tow. Democracy is for sissies; there's no business like the
"security architecture" business.