by Eric Zuesse
As has been recently reported, many experts on international relations are saying that the danger of a nuclear war between NATO and Russia is greater now than it was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 — in other words: greater than ever before in history. But it has just ratcheted a bit higher still:
The owner of Saudi Arabia, King Salman al-Saud, speaking through his spokesperson and chosen Foreign Minister, in an interview that was published on February 19th in Germany’s magazine Spiegel, says that he demands the resignation or else the overthrow of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who is allied with both Iran and Russia. Polls of the Syrian public, by Western polling firms, consistently show Assad to be overwhelmingly approved by the Syrian people to be the leader of Syria, and show that Syrians blame the United States for causing ISIS, which is disapproved by 76% of Syrians. The other named jihadist groups, such as al-Nusra which is Al Qaeda in Syria, received similarly low approval-ratings from the Syrian public. In stark contrast, a poll of Saudi Arabians shows that 92% of them approve of ISIS. But the United States is allied with the fundamentalist-Islamic dictatorship Saudi Arabia, against the separation-of-church-and-state democracy of Russia. So too is America’s fellow-NATO-member Turkey allied with the fundamentalist Muslims, and they’re publicly threatening to invade Syria (another nation that has strict separation of church-and-state) with ground troops. They’re backed by planes that were supplied to the Sauds by the United States.
Robert Parry reported on February 18th, “A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.”
The Saudi Foreign Minister also says that his country is waiting for U.S. President Barack Obama to take the lead in forcing Assad to resign, because, he says, otherwise Assad will necessarily be overthrown in a war, and there is a possibility that World War III could result, though he also says, “I don’t think World War III is going to happen in Syria.” He even says that to talk about “the danger of World War III … is an over-dramatization,” because he expects America to lead in the overthrow of Assad. He’s waiting for Obama’s decision.
Spiegel’s interviewer asked some challenging follow-up questions, such as, “Is Saudi Arabia not financing extremist groups? Zarif speaks of attacks by al-Qaida.” To that one, he answered, “Yes, but that’s not us. We don’t tolerate terrorism.”
In the UAE, the TV network of Dubai telecast on 22 January 2016 an interview with the former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca Saudi Arabia, a high authority on the Sauds’ faith, which is likewise the faith of the six royal families of UAE, and this interview was telecast in Arabic, so the expectation was naturally to be speaking to the locals instead of to foreigners. However, a YouTube on January 27th included subscripts in English, and is headlined “Former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Adel Kalbani: Daesh ISIS have the same beliefs as we do.” He states there that the only difference between ISIS and their faith is that (1:55-) “We follow the same thought but apply it in a refined way,” because Saudis believe that (1:12-) “if we execute them [people] in a way that does not show us in a bad way, then that’s fine,” whereas ISIS’s way is so (1:09-) “brutal that it ruins our image in front of the world.” But that’s just the Saudi faith as it’s represented by the ‘holy men.’ What about the royals themselves?
Here is the evidence on this matter, which Spiegel’s interviewer failed even to bring up: The individual who had been the bookkeeper, accountant, and bagman for Al Qaeda, and who personally collected (in cash) each one of the million-dollar-plus donations to Al Qaeda, from which donations the “salaries” (as he referred to them) of each one of the terrorists and terrorists-in-training were being paid, testified under oath in an American court case, saying that almost all of that money came from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, from their Princes, including from the one — Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud — who was, at the very time of 9/11, serving in the United States, as the Saudi Ambassador. Bandar subsequently became the chief of Saudi intelligence. The Saudi King appointed a man like that — a big donor to Al Qaeda — to be his Kingdom’s chief of intelligence. The current King of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd al-Saud, was mentioned by that bagman as having been among the people to whom Osama bin Laden had him deliver letters to at the time when the Saud family were planning whom to select to become the next King; Al Qaeda’s bagman said that he had delivered Osama’s letters to “Abdullah, Fahd, okay, Salman, Waleed bin Talal, Bandar, Turki of course, and Shaykh — Shaykh Bin Baz, Shaykh Uthaimeen, Shaykh Shehri, and Shaykh Hammoud al-Uqlaa, but Shaykh Osama told me that the — the letter for the — for — for the ulema [the religious leaders] I could give it — give it to Turki.” (I.e.: Turki was the contact-man with the religious scholars.)
Here was a follow-up question from the transcript, and the bagman’s answer to it:
Q: Do you have any understanding why in that context Osama bin Laden would have been sending letters to both members of the royal family and the senior ulema [the scholars]?
A: My understanding from talking with people like Abu Basir al-Wahishi who become the — the head of al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, who I used to be close to, okay, or Halad or Shaykh Abu Hasan [but is that the same person?], Shayk Mujahideen, Shaykh Aman, and Shaykh Abul Sef — my understanding that they — they want to know who they should support.
The counsel or advice from Osama bin Laden was respected by the members of the Saudi royal family, in order to help them to determine which one of them should become the next King. Presumably, Osama’s advice was necessary in order for them to learn which ones of themselves could become appointed to lead as King without sparking attacks by Al Qaeda and by the clergy (whose faith they spread) against the Saud family, and which ones would be unacceptable to Al Qaeda and to the clergy. Al Qaeda were, in a sense, the clergy’s enforcers, and they could do this at home in Saudi Arabia. This was the implicit threat: that they had to appoint someone who was in-synch with the jihadist goals, spreading the faith, the goal of the Wahhabist (which is the Saudi branch of Salafism) clerics. (Salafism/Wahhabism is jihadist by its very founding, and is above all dedicated to exterminating Shiites in order to unify global Islam behind the jihadist cause, religious conquest for purified Sunni faith, the Caliphate.).
Furthermore: when Hillary Clinton was the U.S. Secretary of State, one of the first things she did was to send, to her Ambassadors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait, instructions for them to tell their royals to make sure that they would no longer allow those donations to continue; and she even said: “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” She didn’t name names, but they already knew the names. That was eight years after 9/11, in 2009, and there’s no reason to think that the situation has changed since, just as there indeed had been no change after the 9/11 attacks and the donations instead continued into at least 2009.
A truthful answer from the Saudi Foreign Minister, to the question, “Is Saudi Arabia not financing extremist groups? Zarif speaks of attacks by al-Qaida,” would have been: “We don’t support jihad that threatens our own regime, like ISIS does by saying that we Sauds aren’t descended from the Prophet [Mohammed] and that their leader al-Baghdadi is and so he should rule the world and we shouldn’t, and that we therefore aren’t qualified even to run Saudi Arabia, and to serve as custodians over Mecca and Medina, on that basis.” But, he didn’t give that honest answer.
The Saudi Foreign Minister went on to tell Spiegel, “We believe that introducing surface-to-air missiles in Syria [which the United States supplies to the Sauds] is going to change the balance of power on the ground.” He believes this because it will enable the overthrow-Assad forces on the ground to shoot down Russian jets. He supports jihadist groups, but only the ones that acknowledge the Sauds’ authority.
On February 20th, Almasdar News headlined “Turkey says Obama shares Syria concerns with Erdogan, affirms support,” and reported that, “Turkey’s presidency said U.S. President Barack Obama had shared his concerns over the Syrian conflict and promised his support on Friday, hours after a tense exchange between the two NATO allies over the role of Kurdish militants. In a phone conversation that lasted one hour and 20 minutes, Ankara said Obama had told his counterpart President Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey had a right to self-defense.” These “tensions” resulted from Obama’s urging Turkey to “show reciprocal restraint.”
In other words: Turkey is a member of NATO and it will therefore be backed by fellow-NATO-member U.S. in any war against Russia, but Turkey should use “restraint.” The issue there was the use by U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria, of U.S. weapons which those Kurds were firing against the jihadists who are trying to take over Syria. The pro-jihadist Erdogan wants to send his ground-forces into Syria to kill those Kurds, but those Kurds are allied now with both the United States and Russia, and so Erdogan has been holding off. The possibility exists that if the Syrian conflict can be ended without having sparked a nuclear war, then Syria will become a federal republic, and the Kurdish region in its easternmost corner will become a largely autonomous state within the Syrian federal union. That outcome is unacceptable to Erdogan, but U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has tentatively agreed with Russia that it needs to be and remain open.
The Saudi Foreign Minister told Spiegel, “It is important that Bashar leaves in the beginning, not at the end of the process.” In other words, King Saud agrees with Hillary Clinton that Assad must be forced out of power while, and not after, the battles to defeat ISIS are going on. They demand their own victory, before any political process can begin in Syria. (As the Sauds see Assad, he’s not only a secularist, but he’s a Shiite, and therefore should die and be replaced by a fundamentalist Sunni like themselves.)
Whether or not to continue America’s war against Russia, which has continued even after the Warsaw Pact ended in 1991 with a ceaseless expansion of NATO right up to Russia’s borders, is the biggest issue in the U.S. Presidential campaign, with Hillary Clinton and the Establishment Republicans demanding its continuation, and with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump saying that there’s no sound reason for continuing it.
On February 18th, Stephen Kinzer had an op-ed in the Boston Globe titled, “The media are misleading the public on Syria,” and he wrote:
Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but … we hear little about it.
The first reader-comment to it was:
Ozark02/18/16 02:08 PM
When did you join the payroll of the Kremlin and Teheran, Mr. Kinzer?
The first reply to that was:
tsynchronous02/18/16 02:13 PM
Sadly he is on the payroll of a foundation funded by IBM — even though he thinks capitalism and the USA is evil.
A subsequent response to it was:
Miker602/19/16 05:19 AM
And notice that Stephen Kinzer completely leaves out Barack Obama’s famous “RED LINE” proclamation for Bashir Assad, and why did he completely back out of it?
That alone is enough to Stephen Kinzer to be the one who is misleading the public on Syria.
Actually, the comment by Miker602 was further evidence that Kinzer’s op-ed is true. In fact, that sarin gas attack was carried out by al-Nusra, which had been supplied the sarin from the Benghazi Libya U.S. Consulate, which was actually a CIA operation and worked with the Sauds who own Saudi Arabia, plus the Thanis who own Qatar, plus Erdogan who aims to re-establish the Ottoman Empire, and it was definitely not done by the forces of Bashar al-Assad. In other words: Obama was behind it, but Assad was not, and Obama (and ‘our’ ‘allies’) were doing it in order to blame it on Assad so as to have an excuse for invading. But how much is this fact being reported in the U.S., or in the ‘news’ media of its allies? This is “samizdat,” and even Kinzer doesn’t touch upon it.
Or, how much is the fact being reported that, other than the United States leadership, many if not most of the other Western countries are saying that in the event of an invasion of Syria by Turkey, it won’t have their backing: According to Russia’s Sputnik News on February 20th, Luxembourg and Germany have already said no to participating in any such invasion. It seems that U.S. President Obama is trying to get other allies to support and participate in invading Syria, but hasn’t yet had any takers, except for the terrorist-supporting nations, only one of which (Turkey) is even in NATO. (Perhaps if he can get other NATO members to join, then he’ll call a halt to John Kerry’s negotiations with Russia. World War III could commence shortly after that.)
The big problem — which virtually no one in the West’s ’news’ media talks about — is that NATO didn’t end when the Warsaw Pact did, but instead became a U.S.-run military club against the post-Soviet, non-communist, democratic nation of Russia.
Ending the corruption that’s behind all this will take forever. But something else is behind it that can and should be done more immediately.
End NATO now. It has become urgent.