The West and Saudi Arabia - a match made in murder
The biblical injunction reminding us that ‘a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand can be a harbinger of great storms to come’ is one that could so obviously have been written with the foul slaughter of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in mind. For as the days pass it becomes evermore apparent that this is a crisis with significant road to run, ending who knows where but quite possibly — as the net closes in on the kingdom’s current potentate-in-chief, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS to his friends) — in a changing of the guard in Riyadh on the back of a palace coup.
With the brute clear-eyed logic of which only dictators are capable, Stalin reminds us that while ‘the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic’. Khashoggi’s death, the brutal and barbaric manner of it, along with the brazenness of his killers in carrying it out in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, has produced more revulsion in the West towards the Saudi kleptocracy than three years of brutal war in Yemen across its southern border.
One of the poorest countries in the world, millions of Yemeni civilians have had their lives literally and grievously upended as a consequence. Over 16,000 have thus far perished, most of those civilians, including children, with 2 million displaced and 22.2 million in need of assistance — i.e. on the brink of starvation and at risk of disease.
While, indeed, ineffably and stunningly egregious that the French, US and British governments have been lending this barbarism political and diplomatic support; egregious morphs into monstrous when we factor in the material and military support that said Western governments have also been providing.
The banner of human rights which the West waves relentlessly in the face of a world it believes it is divinely ordained to rule now lies in tatters. The perverse boast of standing on the side of democracy and human rights while counting a ghastly medieval tyranny as a close ally can no longer be allowed to obtain. Saudi Arabia is to all intents the Nazi Germany of the Middle East, underpinned by a cancerous ideology, Wahhabism, which is every bit as cancerous the fascist ideology that pitched Europe into the abyss in the mid-twentieth century.
Wahhabism is murder and murder is Wahhabism, twas ever thus and ever thus shall be, and it is the apotheosis of murder which this Saudi gang of kleptocrats has used to inject the poison of sectarianism into the Muslim world, feeding the beast of terrorism that has scarred the region and beyond in recent years, all while buying the silence and acquiescence of Western governments with its oil money.
Such a toxic cocktail would be impossible to concoct in the laboratory of Dr Frankenstein himself.
There has indeed been no more an unedifying sight in our world than the sight of regular Western political and business delegations flocking to the kingdom to genuflect at the feet of this monster, soliciting gargantuan arms deals in lavish gilded palaces which sit just a stone’s throw from the location of the unending and regular public beheadings, not to mention various other other sordid deeds which are conducted and carried out in this forsaken land, as if nothing more than sport.
Who will ever forget the crass sight of Prince Charles performing a sword dance for the delectation of his Saudi hosts back in 2014 around the same time as BAE clinched a deal to supply Riyadh with 72 Typhoon fighter jets, worth £4.4billion (just over $7billion)?
That Western governments cosy up to the Saudis in the full knowledge of the living hell this barbarous tyranny presides over at home, where minorities are regarded as a subhuman species and women are prisoners within their own lives, and in the full knowledge that they are responsible for engineering famine in Yemen as well the slaughter of children, has to count as the pristine moral and ethical disgrace of our time.
The only country in the world named after a family, Saudi Arabia is the world’s petrol station and has been since the 1930s, when the country came into being. In fact US oil companies were present in the country even before a US embassy was established in Riyadh in 1944, located in the headquarters of the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO).
The close relationship that was established between US oil interests and the Saudis from the country’s inception has dictated US government policy in the region to a large extent ever since. In particular the relationship between the Bush family and the Saudis has attracted controversy. In his bestselling book House of Bush, House of Saud (2004), American journalist Craig Unger asks who gave permission for prominent Saudi nationals to fly out of the United States immediately after 9/11, when all passenger and civilian aircraft were meant to be grounded. Given that 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 were also Saudi nationals, the fact that those individuals were allowed to leave the US came as a startling revelation.
In more recent years the Clintons have also done their share of sucking at the Saudi teat, soliciting and receiving lucrative donations to their sordid Clinton Foundation in return for which they have, in the accustomed manner, attempted to put lipstick on the House of Saud pig. The same goes for that serial money grubbing sanctimonious war criminal at large, Tony Blair, whose institute has likewise benefited in return for polishing the Saudi turd.
If accounts are to be believed, Jamal Khashoggi met an end the like of which our most base nightmares are made, dismembered while alive by a team of butchers flown in specially for the task. The resulting crisis has left Washington and London no choice but to demand answers, what with the evidence produced by Turkish authoroties building to the point of being unassailability.
MBS, whose thus far brief tenure at the helm in the kingdom has been characterised by the kind of maneouvres that would have made Al Capone blush, now finds himself under the kind of pressure the Emperor Caligula felt prior to being assassinated by one of his own bodyguards. He has become a problem that can longer be ignored, an itch that must needs be scratched, what with Khashoggi’s murder shining a light of revulsion on the kingdom that makes the job of defending it in Western capitals more difficult than it has been in decades.
Thus what odds on a palace coup in Riyadh sooner rather than later?
One thing that will remain as certain as night follows day is that those arms sales and oil deals will carry on regardless of who occupies the kingdom’s blood splattered throne. It’s about money and money neither sleeps nor has a conscience.
Don’t believe me, ask the children of Yemen, one of whom dies of malnutrition every ten minutes — now, today, in 2018 as I pen these words — as a direct result of the war that is raining down on their heads with the connivance of our own governments.
‘Hell is empty’, Shakespeare so deftly writes, ‘and all the devils are here’.