And the winner is … the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), also known as Gulf Cooperation Council.
Their collective celebration party is this weekend’s Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix – complete with buckets of Moet and Ferraris oozing by. See it as a coterie of Sunni sheikhs telling the “international community” – we won; it’s our way or the (boiling hot) desert highway.
How could they not gloat? The unruly waves of that noxious Arab Spring never had a chance of disturbing the placid waters of the Gulf. The arrival of the Fast White Man Formula 1 circus – a spectacular public relations operation – proves that the GCC is as “normal” as an Arab prince swinging through Monte Carlo with a blonde babe in a Ferrari 458.
Who cares that Bahrain activists sent a letter to Formula 1 emperor Bernie Ecclestone denouncing the state of siege in the placid al-Khalifa dynasty realm, the killing and torture of pro-democracy protesters, the thousands still in jail and the lack of the most basic human rights? This does not concern The Fast White Man.
Strategically, the GCC was invented – with essential American input – to defend those poor Gulf petromonarchies from the evils of Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Khomeinists, with its members comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. But when the 2011 Arab revolt exploded in Northern Africa – and then reached the Gulf, in Bahrain, and even generated protests in Oman and Saudi Arabia – the petromonarchies faced a larger evil that simply petrified them: democracy. The status quo had to be protected at all costs.
King Hamad al-Khalifa, technically, asked the GCC for “help” into smashing the Bahrain pro-democracy movement. The fact is the House of Saud already had masterminded an invasion across the causeway linking the capital Manama with Saudi Arabia. The Pearl roundabout in Manama – Bahrain’s Tahrir Square – had to be literally razed to the ground by the al-Khalifa dictatorship to erase any physical memory of the protests.
For the GCC and its top dog the House of Saud, not only Bahrain was “contained”, Saudi subjects were placated with billionaire bribes. Ample possibilities of profiting from the geopolitical black hole in northern Africa were also opened.
Ever since the House of Saud and the emir of Qatar, Hamad al-Thani, got their act together, they have been on a roll – recent rumors of a military coup against the emir notwithstanding. The “humanitarian” bombing of Libya represented the apex of the NATOGCC embrace – with Qatar in the forefront and the House of Saud sort of leading from behind.
Fabulous dividends ensued. Abdel Hakim Belhaj is now Tripoli’s military commander; he’s not only a former al-Qaeda-linked jihadi, but he’s also very close to Qatari intelligence.
Now Qatar and Saudi Arabia replicate their geopolitical acumen in Syria: in the absence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), they weaponize mercenaries – including jihadis and transplanted Libyan NATO rebels – forcing a civil war. Both the House of Saud and Qatar know that betting on inflaming sectarian Sunni-Shi’ite divisions always goes down well in Washington.
And there’s also the extra bonus of further Wahhabi penetration in northern Africa – via the funding of Islamists in both Tunisia and Egypt. Qatar has offered $10 billion of investment in Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood. And Qatar is now in fact controlling a great deal of Libya’s energy resources – which means it will profit handsomely from gas exports to Europe.
Doha can be seen as a vastly more palatable version of Medieval Riyadh – complete with cutting-edge architecture and the Qatar Foundation imprinted on FC Barcelona’s jerseys. The cunning emir is more than happy to play to the Anglo-French-American gallery and use all manner of Western trappings in the larger plot of a Gulf cover story for the Western redesign of Middle East geopolitics.
Essentially, call it the Fast and Furious Sunni Revenge. As the sheikhs see it, they are winning a sectarian war against Shi’ites in Iran; Shi’ites in Bahrain; Hezbollah in Lebanon; the Alawites in Syria; and they are on the offensive against the Shi’ite majority government in Baghdad.
For The Fast White Man, these are only distant rumblings in barbarous lands. What if anybody who buys a ticket to the Bahrain Grand Prix is supporting a murderous, regressive and locally unpopular Sunni dynasty? The sheikhs themselves couldn’t care less either. So let’s all have fun with the drenched-in-blood-and-champagne Arab Spring Grand Prix.