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The U.S. Backs the Mideast's Most Reactionary Nation
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Saudi Arabia has been shaken to its core by the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkish intelligence has leaked that the Saudi journalist, who wrote op-ed pieces for the Washington Post newspaper, was strangled in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, then cut up into pieces for disposal or dissolved in acid. His remains have not yet been found.

Khashoggi’s brazen murder has caused a crisis in US-Saudi relations, an angry confrontation with Turkey, and serious questions about the Saudi war in wretched Yemen, which so far had caused 60,000 deaths and left this remote land facing starvation.

Trump and his allies initially supported the Saudi-Emirati war against Yemen, having fallen for the false claim that great Satan Iran was backing the Yemeni Houthi forces. Britain and Israel strongly supported the Saudi war.

In reality, Saudi Arabia’s headstrong Crown Prince Mohammed, got his nation embroiled in a no-win war against tough Yemeni tribes who refused to accept a Saudi-imposed figurehead ruler. The United Arab Emirates, a Saudi ally, also got involved to expand its little country-big ambitions around the Red Sea littoral.

But the Saudis lacked a real army to wage war in Yemen. They feared an army might mount a coup against the royal family as happened in Egypt, Iraq and Libya. In the past, the Saudis had rented crack Pakistani troops to protect their palaces and oil. But Pakistan refused Saudi requests to send troops to subdue Yemen.

As Libya’s late leader, Col. Muammar Khadaffi told me, ‘the Saudis are a small bunch of rich people living behind high walls in terror of their poorer neighbors.’ The Saudis hated Khadaffi because he kept calling them ‘traitors to the Arab cause, prostitutes, whore-mongers and crooks.’

Instead, the Saudis relied on their US and British-supplied air force to prosecute the war in Yemen by indiscriminate terror bombing and trying to starve the Yemenis into submission. Villages and schools were flattened, wedding parties rocketed, school buses attacked. US and British technicians and military experts kept the Saudi warplanes flying and provided bombs and targeting data from satellites. Western mercenaries fly and service the Saudi and Emirati air force.

No one in the West cared about this massacre until the unfortunate Khashoggi was murdered in Istanbul. This crime allowed disgust with Saudi Arabia over its Yemen war, beheadings and crucifixions to finally take precedence over arms sales and tawdry geopolitics.

The United States and Britain finally questioned their billions of arms sales to the Saudis who use these mammoth purchases to buy subservience from the western democracies. France and Germany recoiled from major arms sales. Self-righteous Canada prevaricated, trying to get the Saudi cash while ducking opprobrium for arming a cruel, murderous regime.


Washington’s most ardent Israel supporters – Security chief Bolton, and Secretary Pompeo – rushed to support the Saudis. They repeated the ludicrous claim that Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood member and thus worthy of execution. In truth, the Muslim Brotherhood is a venerable, moderate organization composed of Arab professionals that calls for democracy.

But the most interesting development may have been the flight from London to Riyadh by exiled Saudi Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz. This 70-something younger brother of King Salman was reportedly given security guarantees by the US and Britain that he would not be arrested by Crown Prince Mohammed when he returned to Riyadh from a golden exile in London.

You could almost hear them yelling ‘bad puppets, bad puppets’ at the Saudi royals. Only two weeks earlier an unusually frank President Trump had even observed that the Saudi 7,000-member royal family would not last ‘more than a week’ without US support.

He was quite right. Since the 1930’s, the Saudi dynasty has been defended and supported by first Britain, then the United States. Few questioned the support of the world’s leading democracy for a cruel medieval monarchy. There was too much oil money involved. The British government even quashed criminal charges when huge kickbacks to Saudi royals on aircraft orders were revealed. Washington covered up the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks and financing of anti-US groups.

Back to Prince Ahmad. Has he been chosen by Washington and London to replace the rash, violent Crown Prince Mohammed? How worried is the US that the Khashoggi murder could set off a rebellion in Saudi Arabia? Or civil war in the royal family? The aged current king, Salman, is reported to have cognitive problems.

The clumsy, ham-handed meddling of President Trump in Saudi dynastic affairs propelled the bull in a china shop Crown Prince into power. The machinations of Trump’s son-in- law, Jared Kushner, and his Israeli allies have ignited the current crisis. Trump & Co have very much to learn about the Mideast. So far, their attempt to play colonial viceroys has been a fiasco.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen 
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  1. Alistair says:

    There are too many cooks in the kitchen, yet the Near East needs a credible leadership.

    Saudis Arabia is a young state with no significant statehood background; since 16th century, the Near East has always been under “Custody or Protectora” of a major power, be it the Ottoman Empire, British, or American – like Israel, Saudis Arabia is an immature state that recklessly being enabled by the western powers for their own selfish interests, as such, today, the Saudi Government is a mirror image of its Young Prince (MBS) – i.e. a spoiled young brad, overly ambitious beyond his intellectual capacity who needs direct supervision in the running of the state’s affairs.

    Ironically, so do the United States; because there’s no competent leadership in the Oval Office either; a 72 years old “Playboy President” with his spoiled children, surrendered by a bunch of old advisors from 1970’s who believe in brute military force as opposed to intelligent diplomacy; these guys are leading the U.S into a New Cold War with Russia while crushing any middle eastern nation who dare to defy the U.S. policy in the region.

    There are simply too many incompetent cooks in the kitchen, yet, the Near East needs a regional leadership; too many new states and too many novice figures at the helms; Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait – all these new states are the product of British and French colonial interference which had led to the broken Near East today and the U.S. follow suit. Perhaps regional powers should be left to assume their own responsibilities – perhaps an alliance between Turkey and Iran could bring some stability to the region, just as it did in Syria. Ironically, President Erdogan’s plan for the “New Ottoman Empire” doesn’t seem to be such bad idea after all.

    • Replies: @Fidelios Automata
  2. Isramerica will continue to support the blood-spattered Riyadh mob no matter what:

    because it sells oil for Jewbucks and Jewbucks only, and

    because it provides convenient bases for the upcoming ZOG war on Iran.

    • Agree: Moi
  3. @Alistair

    Except that Erdogan himself is a total douche.

  4. MEexpert says:

    The article states the obvious but does not offer any solution. That MBS’ hands have blood on them is a fact. Trump should think what he would do if it were Iran accused of this shameful murder and act on it. He should demand, as a minimum, the removal of MBS. No War support unless that is done. War on Yemen will automatically scale down and eventually end. Saudis will always be under US control, no matter what. I know, I have been there. It is not Saudi Arabia that Trump is afraid of, it is Israel. Israel needs Saudi Arabia and MBS is doing Israel’s bidding. Hence Netanyahu bragging that he told Trump to give MBS pass on this murder. Time for talk is long over. It is time for US, President and the Congress to act. Where is Lindsay Graham? All of a sudden there is total silence.

  5. Renoman says:

    Time for the US to bring democracy to Saudi Arabia. 80% of the Saudi population will be happy, the rest of the World will cheer and America will have all the oil. Everyone hates the Saudi’s why has no one figured that out? NO FRIENDS! They are complete douche bags, go get em.

    • Replies: @Moi
    , @Dan Hayes
  6. Yee says:

    The MiddleEast would not be allowed to have a dominate and unifying power, just like Europe hasn’t been allowed to have one. The Brit has been a master in this game, and the Yankees are just their students.

    It doesn’t really matter which one to back, as long as you can get the MiddleEast fighting among themselves.

    The British has been playing this shit-stirring game for centuries.

  7. jimbim says:

    To describe the House of Saud ” Reactionary” is to mild a description. It is a barbaric, medieval, gruesome, racist, brutal, radical islamist, dictatorship.

  8. Moi says:

    It’s not the business of the US to bring democracy/freedom anywhere. But it should end its support for this medieval, head-chopping “royal” family of former bandits and thugs.

  9. MEexpert says:

    To describe the House of Saud ” Reactionary” is to mild a description. It is a barbaric, medieval, gruesome, racist, brutal, radical islamist, dictatorship.

    Calling House of Saud Islamic is an insult to Islam. They lie, cheat, kill, gamble, and drink alcohol. How could they be Islamic?

    • Replies: @anon
  10. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    It’s more like the most reactionary nation in the Middle East backs the US that backs Israel, the most imperialist nation in the Middle East.

    PS. All this stuff about Kashoggi Murder was ridiculous. Israel targeted and assassinated Iranian scientists by using terror, but was there an outcry from NYT and Wapo? Who/Whom always. No, NYT reported on the assassinations with quotes around ‘terror’.

  11. anon[355] • Disclaimer says:

    So what is your solution to the dysfunctionality – at every aspect of life – of the Arab world Mr., Margolis?

  12. “The U.S. Backs the Mideast’s Most Reactionary Nation.”

    It also backs Saudi Arabia.

  13. Dan Hayes says:


    Where have I heard that exclusionary tale before about democracy and oil? How about Iraq for one!

    • Replies: @Pat Kittle
  14. @Dan Hayes

    They called it “Operation Iraqi Liberation” — the acronym of which is obvious.

    What isn’t so obvious is the truth — the acronym more accurately denotes “Operation Israeli Land-grab.”

  15. anon[355] • Disclaimer says:

    How could they not? Sounds just like the “prophet”.

    • Replies: @MEexpert
  16. MEexpert says:

    How could they not? Sounds just like the “prophet”.

    I don’t know which prophet you mean. You are either totally ignorant or totally dumb. Read about the Prophet first.

  17. Anon[307] • Disclaimer says:

    “The Democrats have the more dynamic young White candidates. See O’Rourke, Conor Lamb, Abigail Spanberger.”

    They’ve also got guys like Andrew Gillum who beat all the democrat’s young White candidates despite being under multiple FBI investigations. Does this portend the future, perhaps? Let me know when a guy like O’Rourke beats a guy like Gillum in a one-on-one primary in a noncompetitive, heavily non-white blue area. But I think we’ve seen that already in the Alexandra Oscario Cortez race.

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