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The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia – 2: Targeting Iran, The Kissinger Deal, Doctrines – Obama and Trump

June 7, 2017

Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank demonstrated against the Trump visit and the U.S.-Israeli-Saudi effort to force a humiliating settlement agreement down their throats.

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Part One: The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia Milking the  Saudi Cash Camel-1

Part Three: The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia – 3 – US. Troops in Saudi? The “Arab NATO,” Why Trump to Saudi Now?

(Note: In Part Two of this interview – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues on May 23, 2017 – we discuss a number of things – the consequences of the Iran Nuclear Issue, the relevance of the Kissinger Deal of 1973 to current U.S.-Saudi relations and what might be called the Obama and Trump Doctrines for the Middle East.)

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Transcript: Part Two.  KGNU – Boulder – May 23, 2017. Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues

While Obama tried to focus on China and to curtail the expansionist plan that the Chinese have, with Trump – if it’s true to call it “the Trump Doctrine – I don’t know if he is intelligent enough to have a doctrine, but let’s say for the sake of argument it is a doctrine – his making a u-turn and focusing back onto the Middle East, particularly in the manner in which it is being done, this is a dead end.

Jim Nelson: In the last month China has announced a new “Silk Road Agenda.” How does it play into what you have described as this antiquated attack on Iran. It seems that the United States is missing the boat, both on the economic opportunities which opened up with the Iran Nuclear Deal and with the expansion of the Silk Road Agenda as well.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Concerning the nuclear issue, Rob and I have repeatedly talked about this during the past months. The nuclear deal opened Iran up to the international community. Europeans are going to Iran from the left, right and center as are Far Easterners and South Americans. They are going into Iran and making various economic deals.

The options for the United States in being able to isolate Iran again to the point where they were able to in the past since the revolution, unfortunately for Washington, doesn’t exist. The Iranians are well aware of this.

The Chinese approach, particularly the “Version Two of the Silk Road Agenda” that I briefly talked about last week (on another radio program) clearly includes a number of key players into the mix. Iran is one of them. We are no longer speaking uniquely of the Silk Road between East and West, going from China through Mongolia, northern Iran, across Turkey and so on. It now has “its arms,” extensions, tentacles that connect to various places – going into Bangladesh, through Kashmir to Pakistan to Iran into the warmer waters of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean giving the Chinese the opportunity to invest in the infrastructure and bringing all these countries in line with its own foreign policy. That is something that unfortunately Trump, in his rush to sing the Saudi tune, has failed to understand.

Jim Nelson: Just to back that up. It appears that the United States is missing the boat. Obama was trying to make an Asian pivot.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: The central point of at least the latter part of his presidency, particularly as a part of his doctrine, was that in the Middle East region, instead of the United States actively or directly getting involved militarily in a major way, it gave the opportunity to a few major players, again – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel – to work in a collaborative manner with a few other regional forces that they would implement policies that ultimately would support U.S. interests in the region.

While Obama tried to focus on China and to curtail the expansionist plan that the Chinese have, with Trump – if it’s true to call it “the Trump Doctrine – I don’t know if he is intelligent enough to have a doctrine, but let’s say for the sake of argument it is a doctrine – his making a u-turn and focusing back onto the Middle East, particularly in the manner in which it is being done, this is a dead-end. The man doesn’t understand that even Hillary (Clinton) in one of her emails to her campaign manager, John Podesta, noted that the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are providing clandestine financial and logistical support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups. They are supporting terrorism and ISIL in the region.

Rob Prince: I believe you referring to the 2009 communique released by Wikileaks

Jim Nelson: The enormous sums of money that the Saudis are shelling out in this deal appears to be a waste, a waste to the Saudi people and the people in the region who will be devastated by these bombs. It’s an antiquated approach. It’s looking backwards politically, not forward. It’s being used to foment dissension and sectarian violence.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: The Saudi and Wahhabi mindset and the money from Qatar and others, are the ones who are at the root of supporting extremism and Takfiri terrorism around the world and in the Middle East specifically. For those who might not have the statistics, some 70% of those who have blown themselves up in Iraq are Saudis. Then there are the Chechens, a few Chinese and Syrians coming in as well. But 70% are actually Saudi citizens that are coming into Iraq with the clear goal of blowing themselves up and killing more Shi’a. This is the kind of sectarian violence that the United States is getting itself involved in.

Jim Nelson: What is needed are jobs in the region. The China deal (discussed above) is more likley to create them.

Rob Prince: I don’t know that the Chinese deal (the Silk Road project) will result in jobs to the Middle East but one of the striking elements of this enormous Saudi arms purchase is how it will affect Saudi economic growth long-term. They are talking about half a trillion dollars, $500 billion to be spent between military arms sales over the next ten years, plus investments in American based equities. That money could be used much more constructively in Saudi Arabia to fuel development there.

The Saudi long-term struggle and crisis is very simple: some day – we don’t exactly know when because the size of their oil reserves is a state secret – but some day the Saudis will run out of oil. They are well aware of this. To take that amount of money and divert it into what amounts to non-productive parts of the American economy, mostly for political reasons, to tie the United States more closely to Saudi, is almost to derail, the necessary transformation of their own economic potential. In the long run, it weakens, not strengthens the Saudi position, their own economic progress and to keep them mired in the position where they have been for the last seventy years: a peripheral structural position in relation to an American (and European) core, in a position of economic dependency, – absolute dependency – nothing less.

When you examine what the Arab nationalist governments were trying to do – before they ran into their own economic complications – it was basically to free themselves from that kind of dependency.

The Saudi long-term struggle and crisis is very simple: some day – we don’t exactly know when because the size of their oil reserves is a state secret – but some day the Saudis will run out of oil. They are well aware of this. To take that amount of money and divert it into what amounts to non-productive parts of the American economy, mostly for political reasons, to tie the United States more closely to Saudi, is almost to derail, the necessary transformation of their own economic potential. In the long run, it weakens, not strengthens the Saudi position, their own economic progress and to keep them mired in the position where they have been for the last seventy years: a peripheral structural position in relation to an American (and European) core, in a position of economic dependency, – absolute dependency – nothing less

Ibrahim Kazerooni: I’m certain you are going to address this point but I have to briefly touch upon it. During the past couple of years, every time there was a court case against the Saudis, the Saudis threatening to take their financial investments out of American banks, to sell their sizable U.S. bond holdings, etc. triggering a default that would bankrupt the banking system resulting in the ruin of the American economy.

This kind of deal (the one crafted by Trump in Saudi), literally what it did, was to suck out any power that the Saudis may have had to utilize this kind of leverage.

Going back to 1973 (the Middle East War and the arrangements between the United States and the Saudis which resulted) as a result of the Arab oil embargo, (Henry) Kissinger came up with a formula and presented to the then Shah of Iran Pahlavi as well as the King of Saudi Arabia. The essence of it was that the United States would not object to any oil price hike so long as so long as one thing was guaranteed: that the profits resulting from increased oil prices would be divided into three parts. One third needs to be invested in American banks; a third needs to be invested in American military industry (which means the Saudis will by American military gadgets) and a third can be kept within the respective national economies – but again, that third has to be deposited in American and/or Western banks that can be accessed whenever the parties want to use it.

That is what is known as “the Kissinger deal.”

Over the decades, as a result of overproduction when the price of oil was over $110/barrel, the Saudis were able to save quite huge amounts of money. When the judicial decision was announced that the victims of the 9-11 attack could sue the Saudis for damages, the Saudis threatened to pull out their financial holding in the United States. Had they gone ahead and pulled out their money, a huge sum, it would have ruined not just the United States’ economy but the Western economy as well.

This deal (the current economic and military package Trump negotiated with the Saudis) literally ties them (the Saudis) down, ties down the money that they have at their disposal, and may have used it as a weapon against the United States and threatened the U.S. economy has been literally taken out of their hands and tied into useless projects from which they will not benefit.

Rob Prince: What is ironic about all this is the Saudis are doing this because they believe this deal will increase their political leverage when the deal will result in just the opposite.

Ibrahim, moving on a bit, something has gone on in the Middle East these past few days of significance. The Trump Administration is attempting to set up basically a security alliance; there is talk of the establishment of a kind of “Arab NATO” in Riyadh. It is reminiscent of what the British and the U.S. tried to do in the 1950s with the establishment of CENTO. CENTO targeted the former Soviet Union, this one is targeting Iran.

Can you talk a little bit about the goals and features of this “alliance and how you see it emerging? Does it look like it will be a successful alliance, will it fall apart.”

What I see happening here bears great similarities to the period prior to the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq: the vilification of Iran, the attempts to put together a coalition (to veil what is essentially U.S. aggression) – all of this kind of nonsense – and also, and this is what this entire weekend was about – the attempt to provoke Iran into taking their bait.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Which Iran has not done (taking the bait).

It is an apt comparison, Rob, with CENTO, but the CENTO proposal by the British and to a degree the Americans were involved as well. The project was conceived as a way to use local agents against nationalists and national movements in the region that threatened British interests, be it in Iran during Mossadegh’s time, but particularly, one of the places they focused on and tried to use CENTO was Syria.

The early post World War II governments in Syria were considered to be a threat to Western interests.

Isn’t that strange that after fifty, sixty years that we’re returning to the same old policy but this time under the auspices of the United States, the same old corrupt regimes are being called to come together to unite to overthrow the current government of Syria. These regime are the sources of terrorism, the financiers of terrorism. In most of these countries around Syria the training takes place for the terrorist organizations whether it is in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or somewhere else. The poachers are now becoming the game keepers as such, if that is possible, overnight.

Trump knows that the leadership of these countries are up to their neck in supporting terrorists.

But the whole issue is to try to curtail Iran.

Another difference with the Obama Doctrine is direct intervention.

Obama’s approach was essentially that the United States would provide the direction and the regional allies would get involved militarily directly. On the other hand, the Trump Administration wants to actually increase U.S. troop presence in the Middle East and get more American troops involved in the actual fighting. There are already some contingents in northern Syria, in the Jordanian Desert close to the Syrian border. But what is being proposed is much more: 35,000 American troops going into the region under various auspices as directors, advisers. But when we look at what is going on already on the ground we can realize that the plan hasn’t changed – to partition and divide Syria.

The goal of the plan hasn’t changed. There is just the following variation: Trump now says “we will send the soldiers, you (U.S. Arab allies) pay the bill. … Rather than “we will send you the logistical support, you fight for it” which was part of the Obama Doctrine. All of Trump’s comments about allies having to “shoulder responsibility” means “you pay.”

To Be Continued.

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