Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Friedman Tees Off on Saudi Arabia

Back when the revolution was percolating in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Thomas Friedman was there happy as a clam, breathlessly extolling the new age aborning in the Arab world. When the Arab Spring was subverted over the next two years, culminating in the Sisi coup in July of 2013, Friedman did an about-face, trumpeting the return to Mubarakism as the best outcome to be hoped for.

Friedman is a weather vane, going whichever way the wind blows. That's why his column this morning is so interesting. In "Our Radical Islamic BFF, Saudi Arabia," Friedman tees off on the House of Saud:
The Washington Post ran a story last week about some 200 retired generals and admirals who sent a letter to Congress “urging lawmakers to reject the Iran nuclear agreement, which they say threatens national security.” There are legitimate arguments for and against this deal, but there was one argument expressed in this story that was so dangerously wrongheaded about the real threats to America from the Middle East, it needs to be called out. 
That argument was from Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, the retired former vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, who said of the nuclear accord: “What I don’t like about this is, the number one leading radical Islamic group in the world is the Iranians. They are purveyors of radical Islam throughout the region and throughout the world. And we are going to enable them to get nuclear weapons.”

Sorry, General, but the title greatest “purveyors of radical Islam” does not belong to the Iranians. Not even close. That belongs to our putative ally Saudi Arabia.
This absurd line, that Iran is the greatest purveyor of radical Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, has become a talking point for GOP presidential candidates, Congressional opponents of the P5+1 accord with Iran on its nuclear program, heads of sundry Jewish groups and miscellaneous warmongers for hire. Crafted in a Tel Aviv corporate suite or a beltway think tank it has been repeated ad nauseam. The goal is to foist the big lie on the benighted U.S. voting populace, the same rubes who are flocking to The Donald.

The New York Times supports the Obama administration's deal with Iran. To that end, they are allowing columnists like Friedman and Rogen Cohen to mention that which was previously discretely avoided, that Saudi Arabia is the global exporter of radical Islam. Friedman continues:
But if you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s into wiping out the pluralism of Islam — the Sufi, moderate Sunni and Shiite versions — and imposing in its place the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment.
It is not an accident that several thousand Saudis have joined the Islamic State or that Arab Gulf charities have sent ISIS donations. It is because all these Sunni jihadist groups — ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Nusra Front — are the ideological offspring of the Wahhabism injected by Saudi Arabia into mosques and madrasas from Morocco to Pakistan to Indonesia.
And we, America, have never called them on that — because we’re addicted to their oil and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.
Whether because the Europe Union is suffering through a refugee crisis brought about by Saudi-instigated regime change via Salafist jihad, or because the Iran nuclear deal needs a push to get through Congress, the Gray Lady is more open of late to going directly after Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Her editorial positions on these two ally nations are basically in line with CounterPunch.

A report this morning has Obama sewing up the Congressional support he needs to pass the nuclear deal with Iran. This won't end the crisis in the Middle East. The war crimes in Yemen, for instance, largely remain below the radar. Saudi Arabia and Israel need to be contained, as does the United States, particularly now that planning is underway to militarize Great Power conflict with China.

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