Cheap Bandar-Bush Trick/ Victor Mikhin
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, as we know, is a big fan of secret and behind-the-scenes machinations and intrigues; he usually likes to remain in shadow. It is always possible to do your shady dealings hiding from the public eye. But sometimes circumstances make such lovers of suspicious dealings come out into the light. So it happened with Prince Bandar, who suddenly came to the fore under the bright dazzling spotlights of international media and diplomacy. This «glory» was brought to him by open speech in front of a number of diplomats with a new policy of Saudi Arabia in respect of his benefactor, the United States. It happened the following way.
Accepting a number of representatives of the European embassies at house in Jeddah, the head of the Saudi State Security Committee told them, according to the American Wall Street Journal, about rage which swept the country after the emerging Iranian-American rapprochement and the termination of American military participation in Syria. He told taken by surprise guests that in retaliation the kingdom will return their dollar investments from America.
Reuters, which more fully informed about the improvised press-conference, reported about the Riyadh decision to «significantly change the political course» revising its relations with the US. According to Prince Bandar this decision is due to the fact that Washington refuses to take into account the interests of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. In particular, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the omission of the USA in Syria, the inability of Americans to achieve progress in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the lack of support for Riyadh actions, suppressed Shia uprising in neighboring Bahrain. In addition, the Saudi authorities are extremely annoyed by the intensified process of normalization of relations between Western countries and Iran — the main rival of the kingdom in the Persian Gulf.
Prince Bandar emphasized that a turn from the United States will be «really significant» because Riyadh no longer wants to find itself in situations of dependence from actions or omissions of Americans. In connection with the development of the new situation, he emphasized, Saudi diplomats will receive instruction to sharply limit its contacts with American colleagues reducing them to the necessary minimum. Besides, the kingdom will seek an alternative to the USA as the main partner in the oil sector and the main supplier of weapons for the army.
Certainly, there is no wish to talk scandal, but for some reason the morals of one of great I.Krylov’s fables instantly come to mind: «Ouch, Pug! Apparently it is strong that barks at the Elephant! » As speak in Odessa — where is America and where is Saudi Arabia. Well, isn’t it ridiculous?
It is interesting how officials of Washington reacted to all these threats. And almost in no way. The statement of State department said that a political policy of Saudi Arabia is inwardly the Saudi Arabian business and Washington is not going to interfere with it. Directly, as a tub of cold water on the hot Saudi heads or if to cite animals as an example, like a pellet for an elephant. But a little later the Barack Obama’s administration corrected the statement and reported that it hopes to smooth contradictions with Riyadh in future. «We understand: Saudi Arabia is disappointed that military operation in Syria wasn’t performed, but we hope for continuation of cooperation — US Secretary of State John Kerri declared. — I am sure that the USA and Saudi Arabia will remain friends and allies».
Really, as events show, the Saudi king and his company are deeply disappointed with withdrawal of Washington from that strategic course which connects both countries for 70 years and Riyadh always was the American errand boy. It is possible to remind that on February 14, 1945, at the end of World War II, onboard the ship of the American fleet of USS Quincy in the Suez Canal the historical meeting took place. The U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt signed the contract with the king of Saudi Arabia Abdoul Aziz ibn Abd Rahman ibn Feysal Al Saod (Ibn Saod). Under the agreement America guaranteed invariable support to the Saudi royal family and the Aramco oil company while those provide uninterrupted supply of black gold. These relations remained almost till last day, despite take-off and falling in connection with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But now Washington gradually began to depart from unconditional support of Riyadh and there are several reasons.
First of all, it concerns oil that is very and very seriously. Once present gurus of the American foreign policy Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Zbignev Bzhezinsky declared that if the 3rd world war will begin, it will occur in the Persian Gulf because of oil. And it was true. After the adjustment of the fine relations with Riyadh Americans almost completely preserved the wells, preferring to receive «black gold» for nothing from abroad.
But times changed and there were new technologies which allowed to do away with former power dependence of America. So the import of energy carriers fell in the country almost twice in ten years. Reduction of dependence of the USA from supply of oil generally is explained by the growth of internal production by means of development of slate oil fields and gas. For example, at the beginning of 2013 volumes of the American production exceeded a mark of 7 million barrels a day at an annual gain in 20%. Soon in 2017-2020 the USA will come out on top in the world on oil production leaving Saudi Arabia behind. Besides, some time later they can begin the export of hydrocarbons. The new deal means that Washington will consider oil monarchy of the Persian Gulf not as major suppliers who have the key role in satisfaction of its energy needs but as potential competitors, as «fat cats» who can buy lots of weapons for huge sums of money.
As a result, the global demand for oil from Saudi Arabia constantly decreases. It spoken about in the open letter of the Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal addressed to the minister of oil and mineral resources of the kingdom Ali al-Naimi. In the letter the nephew of the king prince Al-Waleed expressed anxiety on the fact that 92% of the state budget depend on the oil income. «Dependence of the world on OPEC oil, especially productions of Saudi Arabia obviously and continuously decreases» — it is noted in the letter. The prince added that the threat from slate gas «definitely increases», and pointed to the recent progress made in this area in North America and Australia. «Diversification of the income is an indispensable condition and it demands the accurate vision which has to be realized immediately» — said Al-Waleed. He also urged the authorities of Saudi Arabia to prepare plans on development of nuclear power and creation of renewables in order «to reduce the local consumption of oil as soon as possible».
As the result, the United States don’t aspire any more actively and without looking at someone else, including the UN, to interfere with new Middle Eastern military campaigns as the long-term conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan managed very expensively, and didn’t bring the dividends in connection with the changed concept. The displacement of plans for reformatting of the Middle East will inevitably lead to the full destabilization of the region. And it is perfectly understood in Washington, so said the White House counselor for national security Tom Donilon. He noted that Washington has certain constant interests of national security in this region, hinting at fight against terrorism, safety of Israel and «historically stabilizing role as the defender of partners and allies in the Middle East».
Secondly, concerning the Syrian conflict Washington rather accurately let know to Riyadh that it doesn’t intend «to put» actively in the Syrian opposition. Moreover, according to semi-official information, Barack Obama notified Moscow that no massive arms supplies of the Syrian opposition will exist. The official American representatives also notified the «friendly» Syrian national coalition in the same way. Being informed on such decision of Washington the European capitals quite reasonably decided that they don’t have any reason for active and defiant interference in the Syrian affairs. For example, France already refused to «rebels» MANPAD «Mistral» and Great Britain gets off with foggy promises.
Bandar Ben Sultan’s visits to these countries and his direct negotiations with heads of the European powers didn’t change a situation, despite all his financial promises and even threats to worsen trade relations. The Europeans assured prince that they will certainly welcome a military victory of opposition, will recognize the new power in Damascus, won’t deny the assistance at the last stages — but now they simply don’t want to participate actively in the Syrian conflict, to incur the new financial expenses and especially to deliver the modern weapon to opposition. Bandar’s arguments that the western weapon won’t fall into hands of «extremists», for example to members of the terrorist organization «Dzhabkhat An-Nusra», didn’t convince Europe after all.
Thirdly, after September 11, 2011 Americans realized that the civilization conflict menacing to them is connected with a special form of Islam, namely Wahhabism and Salafis. It is necessary to pay attention to Saudi Arabia and Qatar: these versions of Islam are widely spread there. All terrorists in September 11 were radical Sunnites and 15 of them were natives of Saudi Arabia. Americans can’t but see that the vast majority of the terrorist acts in the Western world for the last quarter of the century were made by the followers of these Islamic sects. Bloody events in Nairobi became the recent example of it. It is not a secret for Washington that the Afghan Talibs, Islamists from Syrian «Dzhabkhat an-Nusra» and other radical Sunni movements receive the financial help and weapons from Saudi Arabia.
This understanding became quite obvious when perfectly understanding these questions John Brennan was appointed to a post of the head of CIA in 2013. Within a year he visited the American university of Cairo where he learned Arab and the general bases of Islam. Then he worked in the National CIA center for fighting against terrorism, specialized on the Middle East, he participated in the operation «Desert Storm». In 1995 he became the head of mission of CIA in Riyadh and improved the fine relations with Turki Ben Feysal, the long-term head of the Saudi intelligence. These close connections with Saudis became very valuable for John Brennan and he says that he became the expert in Saudi Arabia.
He even shared the ideological purpose directed against terrorism with Wahhabites at court of Riyadh. «Islam made a contribution to formation of my vision of the world» — the new head of CIA repeatedly claimed. As well as Saudi, he denies that terrorists belong to Islam and calls them the ordinary criminals and goes into discouraging reasoning: «We can’t define our enemy as „jihadist“ or „Islamist“ because jihad — is a sacred war, the lawful principle of Islam which calls for self-cleaning and for clarification of the community, but there is nothing sacred, lawful, anything from Islam in killing innocent people, women and children. We have to call criminals „extremists“, instead of „jihadists“ because this term defines the one who combats in the sacred purposes. The term „jihadist“ gives a raid of religious legality to actions of murderers that they passionately trying to get and hints that the United States allegedly wage war against the Muslim religion».
Fourthly, the Barack Obama’s administration at least orally decided to adjust a normal dialogue with Tehran which is now is the Saudis enemy No. 1. It is necessary to pay attention to the return of Iran to the world politics after election of the moderate and pragmatic president Hasan Rukhani. Iran takes the second place in the world on stocks of gas and the third on oil reserves, in this connection Iran can change a balance in power game in the Middle East. The education level of the 80-million population of the country equals western, and its return to world economic system becomes the major event since occurrence of the Soviet bloc.
Besides, Iran will be able to slow down the approach of Beijing and become a powerful regional counterbalance for influence of China and Pakistan (this state rolls down in dependence on Arabians and Chinese more and more strongly), that is very important for Washington in the present situation. Washington starts perceiving Tehran not only as potential ally in strategy on control of Beijing but also as possible alternative of the Saudi oil. No wonder that intensity in the relations of two countries reached the apogee after the telephone conversation of the president Barack Obama with the Iranian colleague (Riyadh steadily perceives Tehran as the worst enemy). It is obvious that rapprochement of the USA with Iran is in direct proportion to their distance from Saudi Arabia that simply causes a panic in the royal family.
All these above-mentioned reasons, a gradual estrangement of Washington (as it seemed at first sight) from Riyadh moved the prince Bandar Ben Sultan on the unprecedented statement with the hidden threats to Barack Obama’s administration. Let’s emphasize that only to the present American administration, but not to establishment of America. Most likely that these and the subsequent «anti-American» statements of prince Bandar are also sent to the management of conservative party and American «hawks» who aren’t going to change anything in Middle Eastern policy and of course to renounce something on the world scene. As they say, Pax Americana for ever.
And prince Bandar perfectly realizes that no matter how rich is Saudi Arabia, it has no power to impose the opinion to Washington. In this union the Americans always played the leading role. Do you remember ingenious A.S. Pushkin: «Everything is mine» — said gold; «Everything is mine» — said damask steel. «Everything I will buy» — said gold; «Everything I will take» — said damask steel«? There is a number of the largest American bases in the Saudi territory. For example, the «Prince Sultan» base on which the Control center of Space Operations of the USA in the Middle East is situated, Eskan Village Air Base where 811 houses and 44 skyscrapers are built, in which lives more than 2.000 Americans, recently opened confidential base for the American UAVs.
If we add to this that only in 2012 Riyadh bought the American weapon for the sum of 34 billion dollars. During forty years since 1973, the year of petrodollar boom, the American military system sold weapons to Saudi Arabia for more than 600 billion dollars in present calculation. It is quite natural that all these modern arms are transfered and Saudi are trained by numerous American advisers and the experts which number was never officially published. And if the affairs in Saudi Arabia will suddenly go contrary to plans of Washington, all these advisers will get into the Saudi planes, others into tanks, the planes will fly up from the American bases in the Saudi territory and they will precisely execute Pentagon orders.
And besides, prince Bandar didn’t forget the sad destiny of king Feysal yet, who gave a dare to the USA and was killed by the nephew. It is possible to remind these events. On October 6, 1973 the Arab-Israeli war flashed with a new force. King Feysal immediately declared embargo on supply of oil to the countries supporting Israel. All Arab states responded to an appeal of the king and the Western countries began to experience crisis. Ruling circles of the West were stunned, first of all the United States as the king obviously played not by their rules. Intense negotiations between heads of the USA and Saudi Arabia began but king Feysal was inexorable. Then Riyadh won a tactical victory over the West but in two years the king’s nephew Feysal ibn Musaid who has come back after study from the USA shot the Saudi monarch. Even the western newspapers wrote that there was a revenge of the West to the East.
Proceeding from our analysis the last actions of Riyadh and its officialdom prince Bandar represent the barefaced and cheap blackmail of the Washington administration and of the president Barack Obama first of all. If we apply the eastern manners and customs in this case, the Saudis behave like a first and old wife at the sight of the second, beautiful and young. But once the American «husband» buys her new jewelry the old offenses will be forgotten. This is life!