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Saudi Arabia, Iran And A Region In Flux

Saudi Arabia, Iran , and the new geo-political calculus of the Middle East, with America awkwardly in the middle.

In this Tuesday, June 25, 2013 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal upon arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. One day, Saudi Arabia looks to spend $6.8 billion in its latest buying spree of American weapons. Two days later, the kingdom vents its anger at the U.S. ‘s Mideast policy by snubbing a seat on the U.N. Security Council in a show of discontent. A mix of both customer and critic, Saudi Arabia is trying to carve out its own path to counter U.S. moves such as outreach to Iran, while knowing it still needs its longtime ally as a powerful big brother. (AP)

In this Tuesday, June 25, 2013 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greeted by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal upon arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. One day, Saudi Arabia looks to spend $6.8 billion in its latest buying spree of American weapons. Two days later, the kingdom vents its anger at the U.S. ‘s Mideast policy by snubbing a seat on the U.N. Security Council in a show of discontent. A mix of both customer and critic, Saudi Arabia is trying to carve out its own path to counter U.S. moves such as outreach to Iran, while knowing it still needs its longtime ally as a powerful big brother. (AP)

Ever since FDR famously sailed into the Suez Canal to meet with Saudi King Ibn Saud in 1945 on the American destroyer the USS Quincy, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been deep strategic partners in the Middle East.  Plenty of stresses, as the US allied with Israel and the Saudis flexed their massive oil power and exported Wahabi Islam.  But the Saudi monarchy had also been an American bedrock in the region.  Now the talk is of potential crackup in the partnership.  That’s big.  Up next On Point:  Saudi fury as the US charts a new course in the Middle East.

– Tom Ashbrook


David Ignatius, associate editor and columnist for The Washington Post. (@IgnatiusPost)

Stephen Kinzer, professor on International Relations at Boston University and a former New York Times correspondent. Author of “The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War” and “Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future.” (@StephenKinzer)

Dr. Abel Aziz Aluwaisheg, Assistant Secretary General for Negotiations and Strategic Dialogue at the Gulf Cooperation Council. (@abuhamad1)

Dan Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, columnist at Foreign Policy Magazine and senior editor at The National Interest. (@DanDrezner)

From Tom’s Reading List

Arab News: Saudi move highlights need for UN Security Council reforms — “The timing of the Saudi decision on Friday appeared to be related in particular to the failure of the UNSC to stop the carnage perpetrated by the Syria regime. Over the past 30 months, the Syrian regime has killed over (100,000) of its own people, while forcing seven million Syrians to be either refugees outside their country, or displaced inside it. UN human rights agencies and special commissions have documented crimes committed by the Syria regime, including mass killings, torture, rape, collective punishment and wholesale destruction of towns and neighborhoods. They have also named key officials who are believed to be behind crimes against humanity committed in Syria.”

Foreign Policy: On Syria, You Say Bureaucratic Politics, I Say Realism — Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off – “Clearly, a lack of consensus among Obama’s top foreign policymakers buttressed his own stated reluctance to get too deeply involved in Syria.  That said, the policymakers with the most influence over the president were articulating a rationale for why continued conflict might not be a bad thing.”

The Guardian: New President Hassan Rouhani make the unimaginable imaginable for Iran — “Finding a way to bring Iran back into the world’s mainstream will be Rouhani’s principal challenge. His power is limited, though in the fluid world of Iranian politics, he is likely to accumulate more. His adversaries, most notably supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and the United States, ridicule him as a puppet of repressive mullahs.”

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  • Geheran105

    The West has lost its fight to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. While now mostly academic, this is not a good reason to ease up on sanctions. Next up: what actions to take following Israel’s coming strike against Iran to contain the potential fall-out that could result in an all-out conflagration. France will almost certainly have its hands full.

  • http://freeourfreemarkets.org/ Steve Banicki

    Let’s see. We shut down our government, almost default on debt, listen in on the cell phone of one of our closest allies and now we are thinking of partnering up with one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest enemies.

    Yeah emerging countries are anxious to put their future in our hands.

    • Don_B1

      To call your statement, “… thinking of partnering up with one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest enemies” hyperbole would be the understatement of the month, or year.

      It will take a long path of negotiation to even begin to bring even a nod from the Iranians that their radical policies for gaining hegemony in the region are counterproductive. But a military adventure would almost certainly harden the attitudes of the leadership and the populace in their current path, which would delay any “rapprochement” indefinitely.

      • Ray in VT

        I don’t know about that, Don. There’s an awful lot of hyperbole contending for the top prize, and I’m not sure that that statement gets to enter the Hyperbole Premier League.

        • hennorama

          Ray in VT — good point. First to mind:

          “Obamacare is the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery…”

          • Ray in VT

            I was thinking of that particular example.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — “Candidates For Hyperbolic Statement Of The Year” would be an interesting parlor game.

          • TFRX

            A whole year? Who can remember what attention-getting hyperbole in January which simply is lost in the din of late autumn?

            That reminds me of Ragtime, wherein the Harry Thaw/Leland Stanford dustup, from 1906, is called “The Crime of the Century”, with 94 years to go.

          • hennorama

            TFRX — I guess it would be a bit like the Oscars, where more recent releases tend to get greater attention.

            Perhaps we can begin with a daily, weekly or monthly list.

          • TFRX

            Let’s start with the shorter timefram lists.

            The Oscars comparison is interesting, but gets caught in the branches, because

            movie studios know when to release Oscar Gold*, whereas hyperolic crazee apparently knows no season.

            (*h/t “American Dad”)

          • Ray in VT

            Speaking of which, has Fox started railing yet about how liberals are trying to ban Christmas?

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — that particular delusion is viable year-round on Fox News.

            I believe they are currently more worried about Halloween and Thanksgiving, but I won’t be spending time trying to confirm this belief.

          • hennorama

            TFRX — The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report have the short term market pretty well cornered, don’t you think?

          • hennorama

            TFRX — The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report have the short term market pretty well cornered, no?

          • Don_B1

            You have got me!

            I guess I tried too hard to come up with some way of discounting the “partnership” goal.

          • hennorama

            Don_B1 — the credit properly belongs to [Ray in VT]. I was simply riffing on his commentary.

        • Don_B1

          I see you saw hennorama’s response to my post and I will say that, if I remember correctly, I thought (or should have) I was responding to your post.

          At any rate, I see I set off a little diversion! But a good pickup on your part!

  • alsordi

    The Saudis are threatening to divorce the US because the US won’t do their bidding and attack Iran.
    This all started back in 1973 when the US went off the gold standard and cut a deal with the Saudis to instead back the US dollar with OPEC oil, by making the US the international petro-dollar in exchange for unquestioned protection of the Saudi kingdom.
    This would explain why some of the so-called 9-11 Saudi pilot terrorists are still alive and well and living in Saudi Arabia, and why Ali Alharbi, a key Boston Marathon bombing suspect, was immediately deported back to the kingdom, while the two Chechnyan kids, FBI patsies, were set up for reasons still not clear to most.

    • Don_B1

      I think you have been getting to close to the few “conspiracy theories” endorsed by a few on the “left.”

      The analysis provided by Stephen Kinzer should be taken seriously by anyone wishing to really understand the issues of the Middle East. He has been making cogent comments and full analyses for decades. Listen to NPR’s Fresh Air program:


      as well as some appearances on NPR’s All Things Considered.

      • alsordi

        I think YOU have been getting too close to the lies and deception of the mainstream media.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    From Wiki:

    “House of Saud”



    …“Over decades of oil revenue-generated expansion, estimates of royal net worth is at well over $1.4 trillion. This wealth distribution has allowed many senior princes and princesses to accumulate largely unauditable wealth and, in turn, pay out, in cash or kind, to lesser royals and commoners, and so gain political influence.”…

    • Don_B1

      The classic, and true, explanation of how countries with wealth from extractive industries are able to become plutocracies by buying off the populace to allow all kinds of repression and corruption.

      It will be interesting to see how the extractive industries currently growing to be the biggest industry in North Dakota by many multiples influences the voters there. The first attempt, the elimination of property taxes, was rejected, and maybe the large amounts of pollution from oil spills that is contaminating land and scarce fresh water in the state has created push back from farmer groups, but the end result is not predictable at this time.

  • rich4321

    What is this? Do the Saudis still stuck in the 18th century mentality?
    Com’on we are in 2013!

    • Don_B1

      They are stuck in 8th Century and desert tribal mentality.

      But there are forces trying to bring them into at least the 20th Century, e.g.. the women’s movement which staged a “women drivers revolt” over the weekend.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    I am very surprised that Saudi Arabia would turn down the opportunity to have a seat on the security council. Despite its shortcomings and limitations, the UN is still a deliberative body that would give the Saudis more of a voice in world affairs. They are ultimately hurting themselves by discarding this opportunity.

    • brettearle

      Nations deem protest, sometimes, to be politically more powerful [albeit n the short-term] than the alternative.

      The US and the 1980 Olympics might be a frame of reference, here.

      Doesn’t mean, of course, that it’s the right decision, in the long run.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    About a century ago, or was it well before that, Europe and the US started drawing and redrawing state boundaries in the Middle East diveying up natural resources like trading properties in a game of Monopoly.

    With the global market creating competition for natural resources, state sponsored industrial interests vying for beachheads and warlords vying for the hearts and minds of the growing population of disenfranchised and hopeless poor in the region, where lies the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East?

    Not in war. Not in terrorism. Not in bombastic rhetoric and not in neofudal capitalism.

    • Don_B1

      The effects of the Arab Spring are reverberating throughout the Middle East and are only marginally influenceable by Western Powers. The Arab social structure is possibly going through something analogous to the Enlightenment. Note that that process took a couple centuries (and some would say it is not over yet) for the West and included years of religious wars (the basis of the American Founding Fathers’ sense that government and religion should be separated).

      It would be nice if the Middle Eastern Arabs could resolve their problems more amicably than the West did, but anyone counting on that should have their heads examined.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        Indeed, we are only starting to see enlightenment on a larger scale as religious idiologs and racists die off at rates faster than they are being created. Ignorance still rules as our populace forgets our own religious and racial intolerance expressed as sectarian and racial violence from New England to California: genocide, murder, racism, prejudice… Many alive today remember the fevered racism of the 60′s. Too many fail to see the parallel in their expressions of hate and even religious intolerance with the violence and intolerance that they rail against abroad.

  • Ray in VT

    I have heard it suggested, such as here http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/davidblair/100242894/the-real-reason-saudi-arabia-and-america-have-fallen-out-the-us-is-talking-to-iran/, that the Saudis are not happy and feeling a bit betrayed because we are working diplomatically with Iran, rather than taking a more antagonistic/confrontational approach in our dealings with that nation.

    • brettearle


      See NYT, 10/26

    • northeaster17

      I remember after the cold war that the U.S. was to be the policeman of the world. Some how the Saudis and some other countries think they are precinct captains.

      • fun bobby

        because we buy them so many guns

    • thequietkid10

      Can’t we just dump the Saudi’s It’s one thing to be struggling because of our FUBAR economic structure. It’s another to be struggling because we decided to stand up and stop being Saudi Arabia’s oil bitch.

      • Ray in VT

        We could. Anything is possible. I suppose the question is will or would we? They do have something that we want, and we’ve generally preferred their friendly hardline state to other, less cooperative, hardline states in the region.

      • jimino

        Not easily because for decades, the domestic policies of the USA could not have been more favorable to the Saudis if they had directly planned them themselves. We are utterly reliant on petroleum for every aspect of our lifestyle, and do everything imaginable to promote its profligate use.

        Are you suggesting that change?

        • TFRX

          I’d like to believe there’s a better strategy to get off the petroteat* than Colbert suggested, maybe two years ago, of guzzling all the gasoline and heating oil as quickly as humanly possible, so we don’t have to be in thrall to those who sit atop it.

          I’d like history to remember that as the joke answer, not the actual plan.

          *Moderation word test–apparently that can be typed here.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I just caught myself daydreaming of a world where for whatever reason, petroleum was worthless. The Saudis were as signifigant as Somalis and Iran was similar to Bulgaria on the world stage. No armies could be purchased with oil money, and Israel was a stand alone nation without serious enemies. I gotta go. Gonna try to get that daydream back.

    • Ray in VT

      Yeah, if Saudi wasn’t sitting on huge stockpiles of the black blood of the Earth, then the only likely reason that it would be of interest or note to many would be due to the Hajj.

      • notafeminista

        But only for Muslims as non-Muslims are not permitted.

        • Ray in VT

          So non-Muslims cannot be interested in those sites?

        • anon

          It’s a religious rite for Muslims. Are you offended?

    • 65noname

      israel has enemies because it is a murderous occupying power both within and without the borders of “israel”.

      • Ray in VT

        I am no blanket defender of the policies of the state of Israel, but I think that it would continue to have enemies among actors and states regardless of its policies regarding the Palestinians and/or the occupied territories. There are people who are just opposed to its very existence.

        • 65noname

          every country has enemies. Israel has enemies because it stole the land where it sits, it is a brutual occupier of the west bank it intends to force out of israel any non-jewish peoples and brutualy attacks any population group, whether in or outside of israel, that supports the national asprations of the palestinean people

          • brettearle

            Well, now, that’s a pretty objective analysis, on your part–now, isn’t it, 65nonmae?

            I mean, just look:

            According to you, Israel is 100% at fault. And EVERYONE ELSE is innocent.

            How exquisite, the way current and past History lines up for 65noname, now isn’t it?

            I mean, Israel, never in the history of the Fertile Crescent, ever had a claim to that part of the world, now did it?

            No, NEVER!


            Don’t you think?.

          • 65noname


          • brettearle


        • brettearle

          And, it is an important distinction, as well, Ray.

          We are all justifiably able to criticize both sides.

          But, in the final analysis, you would see MANY people STILL oppose Israel’s existence–REGARDLESS of the entrenched stalemate.

          It is at THAT juncture, where the true anti-Semites ooze out…..those who justifiably criticize Israel for its policies vs those who SIMPLY don’t want Israel to exist.

          And let me tell ya, how convenient and terribly ironic it is, for those anti-Semitic detractors, to be able to HIDE behind the thinly–and in some cases sheer–veil of RealPolitik….

      • Shag_Wevera

        In my dream, we don’t have to prop them and their “murderous” policies up.

  • liminalx

    Hope that you and guests will discuss the export of radical Wahhabism and trust of the “west” as it relates to the 1953 toppling of the democratically elected government in Iran

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    There is at least 3 very important reasons why we need to stop burning oil:

    It forces us to have a tortured foreign policy.

    We have to spend untold trillions of dollars defending our oil supply.

    Burning fossil fuels is causing climate change.


    • Don_B1

      You are particularly on to it if you include the whole world in the need to stop burning oil (and all fossil fuels).

      The reason is that the price of oil is set globally because it is used for most energy production worldwide and is easily and cheaply (at least relatively) transported.

  • Coastghost

    Whether he likes it or no, Obama is overseeing a wholesale overhaul in US foreign relations, to hear just the past week’s news. Is this a matter of “Obama being Obama”, or do we see “the bureaucracy doing this to Obama”? (the intelligence/security apparatus, the military, the State Department and diplomatic corps) Obama gives the appearance of no longer leading but simply floating out in front of other parties. No motor, no oars, no rudder, useless lifejackets, zipping past signs reading: “WARNING: RAPIDS AHEAD” . . .

  • toc1234

    I think we can all agree Obama is not a statesman.

    • hennorama

      I think we can all agree you are not a political analyst.

      • toc1234

        correct. which goes to show how obvious Obama’s shortcomings are with respect to statesmanship.

        • Don_B1

          Actually it shows how the “meme of the day” spreads because of its surface attraction while it covers untold true facts beneath the surface which contradict it and which only a statesman can work with.

          • hennorama

            Don_B1 – surface attraction and surface tension are related to polarity and polarization, which are the current state of politic affairs in the US, and around the world.

            Physics can explain just about everything.

        • hennorama

          toc1234 — Thank you for the acknowledgment, which is so rare in this forum. Apologies for the snarkiness, which I attribute to still being on my first kuppa Kona.

          • brettearle

            Hail, Mary….

          • hennorama

            Dude .. I’m just a kwixotic Kona-konsuming kold-blooded kindness killing karmic kook today.

            Serenity now!

    • Shag_Wevera

      toc stands for “talking out of your crease”.

    • 65noname

      apparently not. so why don’t you stick to expressing your own opinions and “we … all” will be responsible for expressing our own opinons.

      • brettearle


  • toc1234

    The Obama administration has been naïve?? liberals being naïve? no way. that’s crazy talk.

  • Coastghost

    Has the US responded specifically to news of Sunni attacks on Iranian border positions? The (Shi’ite) Islamic Republic of Iran may be facing the beginning of concerted Sunni constriction in the region, esp. if (Sunni) al Qaeda types continue to help throttle Syria and Iraq.

  • toc1234

    Tom, with the banking sanctions on Iran how exactly does the Iranian gov’t send Stephen his paycheck each month?

  • hennorama

    To caller Sam — Americans are interested in these humanitarian concerns, but most Americans couldn’t find these countries on a map, so their interest rarely turns into action.

    As many have said, without war, Americans would never learn geography.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      The rest of the world is “out there”…

    • brettearle

      If there is one thing that gets to me, it’s the insular nature of the average American citizen.

      If it weren’t for 9/11 (unfortunately), to the American public, the ‘Hormuz’ in the Straits of Hormuz, would still be a phonetic alternative for the onomatopoetic sound of the sneeze, “Achoo”.

      • hennorama

        brettearle — when there is a national mindset of “We’re Number 1!” and “American exceptionalism,” it leads to thinking that the rest of the world is irrelevant.

        Also, for a nation that is so transient, with 10 to 15 percent of the population moving each year, we are usually ignorant of the world outside our immediate geographic area, much less the world at large.

        Of course, part of this is due to the wide geographic and cultural diversity we are so fortunate to have across the nation.

        Regardless, the public would be far better served to look outside once in a while.

        • Don_B1

          As recently as 2000, fewer than 1 in 6 Americans held a valid passport and most of those were on the coasts.

          With the response to 9/11 and the requirement for passports to visit (and return from) Canada and Mexico since 2007, the number of passport holders more than doubled, with a record number of passports issued in 2007.

          • hennorama

            Don_B1 — while the world has been made much smaller due to the Web, there’s nothing like international travel to expand your perspective and to enhance a greater understanding of the world, even if one simply goes to Mexico or Canada.

            For example, one gets a great understanding of poverty while driving through Tijuana, and seeing housing made of wooden pallets and rusty metal sheeting.

            One also gets a great appreciation of climate impacts in Canada, where entire “cities” are built underground to avoid harsh winter weather.

            To name just two examples.

            Travel to Europe can be a bit of a shock, as there is a greater sense of permanence coming from the architecture. And one gets a greater appreciation for food and drink, as Europeans tend to dine, while Americans simply eat.

            Just traveling to another area of the US can give one a broader perspective and a greater understanding of other ways of life.

            Firsthand experiences cannot be replaced.


          • Don_B1

            I so agree with you, from personal experience as well as just thinking about it!

            Clearly even travel within the country can be intellectually broadening, but so much of American ignorance of how things work abroad enables radical conservatives in their quest to derogate progressive solutions to the country’s problems.

          • hennorama

            Don_B1 — thank you for your response and your kind words.

            Such ignorance and lack of understanding is not limited to any particular political party or belief system, nor is the tactic of using the public’s ignorance for political advantage.

            Ignorance is not bliss.

            ‘Twas ever thus.

          • tbphkm33

            I could see cultural exchanges between the U.S. Tea Baggers and the Afghan Taliban… unfortunately, they would find that they have a lot in common.

          • Don_B1

            But they would act like other groups with only surface differences and emphasize those so that they could avoid the cognitive dissonance that their similarities which are politically impossible to acknowledge would induce.

        • tbphkm33

          Actually, the inability of American’s to perceive and interact with the larger world does have negative economic consequences. Especially for small- and medium-size companies that find themselves at a severe disadvantage when it comes to exporting products overseas. Largely attributable to the lack of availability of staff with international knowledge and/or experience.

          • hennorama

            tbphkm33 — Thank you for your response.

            In addition to your very good points, there’s a severe lack of workers with even basic foreign language skills, making easy and clear international communications difficult to impossible.

    • notafeminista

      To be fair, I wonder how many Somalians (for example) could find Idaho on a map. Or Taiwanese. Or Indonesians. Or Egyptians. Or Peruvians. Or Mauritanians.

      • hennorama

        notafeminista — wonder away.

        As an aside, is Idaho a country, and if so, when did this come to pass?

        • tbphkm33

          I have driven through Idaho a few times… it is somewhat like Texas, but I doubt the Canadian’s want Idaho any more than the Mexican’s are willing to take Texas off our hands.

          • hennorama

            tbphkm33 — I’ve been through Idaho as well.

            The most memorable parts were an insight into the brand name Ore-Ida, discovered while passing their original processing facility in Ontario, Oregon, practically on the border with Idaho, and the Craters Of The Moon National Monument, where Apollo astronauts did some training in volcanic geology.

            And of course, the Perrine Bridge at Twin Falls. Just as I was going to take my first photo of the span, someone jumped off.

            Thank goodness it was a BASE jumper, whose chute opened almost immediately.

            It’s an interesting state.

          • Don_B1

            Idaho is also known for its (red) lentil crop, which is 30% of the U.S. production. But 90% of the U.S. production occurs within a 90-mile radius of Moscow, idaho. Most of the U.S. production is exported.

          • hennorama

            Don_B1 — Reds near Moscow … seems appropriate.

            Thanks for the great information.

            Without realizing that they were from Idaho, I’ve purchased beans and soup mixes grown by the Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans people.

            I know them only as “Z best beans,” as that’s what the friend who introduced them to me had called them. Until just now I hadn’t realized they were from Idaho, despite the label.


            Thanks again.

        • notafeminista

          So your answer is zero?

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — thank you for your unresponsive response.

            As to your question — the comment to which I replied contained no questions, obviating any “answer.”

            Sorry that you misunderstood your own words.

          • notafeminista

            If there is a misunderstanding to be had, it is with the punctuation, not the words. Replacing the question mark with the period does make the statement a declarative rather than an interrogative.
            Perhaps you should be more concise in your comments.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — “If…”

            The writer must take responsibility for failed communication.

          • notafeminista

            No the writer mustn’t. Communication is, as they say, a two way street. A failure to comprehend is hardly the fault of the author.

          • hennorama

            Enjoy your delusion.

      • jimino

        Posted: December 15, 2008

        According to a Gallup/Harris poll released Monday, a full 37 percent of
        American citizens are incapable of identifying their home country on a
        map of the United States.

      • http://www.qlineorientalist.com/Evan QLineOrientalist

        Yeah, but how many Somalians are sending troops into the US to fight…?

    • tbphkm33

      Mark Twain — ‘God created war so that Americans would learn geography.’

  • lmmaloney

    Thanks to the caller who asked how many Saudis and Kuwaitis died in Desert Storm etc. I have never forgotten, in the run-up to Desert Storm hearing (on NPR) an interview with a member of the Saudi air force. He was asked whether he and his force would get involved in repelling the Iraqis from Kuwait, and he said: “No, certainly not. We have our American lackeys to do that for us.”

  • jimino

    So if our relation with the Saudis seriously deteriorates, what are they going to do? Provide the ideological foundation for and recruit a special force trained to attack us by flying airplanes into our major cities and seat of government?

    I think our policy toward the region should encourage as many militant Sunni’s to kill as many militant Shiites as possible, and vice versa. Or they can make peace with each other, which of course would be preferred by any sane person.

    Either way it should be accomplished without our involvement.

    • hennorama

      jimino — your cynicism is notable.

      FYI, there are those who consider Syria to be a trap for al Qaeda, set by the West to encourage al Qaeda members and supporters to self-identify, then voluntarily come into a conflict where they can be killed more easily. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said this in December, according to The Australian newspaper:

      “The Americans, Europeans and some governments in the Arab and Muslim world have set a trap for you in Syria,” the head of Lebanon’s most powerful military force said.

      “They have opened the entire country for you to congregate there from all corners of the world and kill one another,” he said, in a speech broadcast during an annual university graduation ceremony in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Sunday [Dec. 16, 2012].”


  • 65noname

    the usual center political spin that we get from government radio.
    for the announcer to let the p.r. spokesperson say with a straight face or without contridction that the saudi dictator is offended because a brutal egyptian dictator was allowed to be force out of office by the egyptian people in an “undignified” manner would be laughabbe if not for the fact that our tax $$ are being given to this program.
    At no time does the show step back and challenge the underlying assumptions that the saudi dictatorship is somehow a responsible player in the world because it supports the US. Of course, in actuality the US supports the saudi dictatorship which would not last 6 weeks without US military backing.
    Ask any saudi women what happens to a woman attempts to violate the government’s rules concerning the behavior of women. Check out the stories of the thousands of women who have been stoned to death because they attempted to have a relationship not approved by the religo-dictatrship that runs saudi arabia. Or sipmly attempted to go out alone. Or attempted to leave their physically abusive spouses.

    • AC

      i was excited about getting put on a Saudi proj, and then got mad because my old school boss tried to get me off of it – however, after being briefed about the can/can’t do’s as well as being told i would have to have a body gaurd, i backed down myself. i’m pretty sure it would take me less than 24hrs to accidentally offend someone. there’s no way i could adjust to the customs, i am too used to being allowed to think and move for myself….
      in the end, i only did boring, peripheral work for the project. no travel necessary at all ….

      • Don_B1

        I understand your apprehension on the difficulties that speaking up can bring. But it really does not have to be a black or white decision.

        As with meeting most people, getting to know them involves a lot of “small talk,” where their politics can be inferred and then asking for their thoughts on how some ways of dealing with issues might have “blowback” might lead to their increased understanding. Also, they might be induced to ask how the freedoms to discuss issues can lead to better understanding of an issue by both parties.

        Of course, just as here, there are those you would encounter who would reject your overtures and with whom you could easily provoke the problems you understandably fear.

    • http://www.qlineorientalist.com/Evan QLineOrientalist

      “for the announcer to let the saudi p.r. spokesperson say with a straight
      face or without contridiction that the saudi dictator is offended
      because a brutal egyptian dictator was allowed to be force out of office
      by the egyptian people in an “undignified” manner would be laughable if
      not for the fact that our tax $$ are being given to this program.”

      The Saudis are indeed offended. That’s a fact. The job of the host (announcer?!) is not to upbraid the participants for saying these things on the record but to let them speak. These are facts. Whether the Saudis are being a bunch of fatuous crybabies is left as a conclusion for us to draw. We don’t need to be spoonfed. Or at least, I don’t.

      • 65noname

        When using a supposed expert guest, actually, the job of the announcer is to discuss and/or question the opinion when there is a reason to do so. If an iranian academic claimed that he had searched the appropraite sites in iran and it had no nuclear materials, shouldn’t the announcer discuss that? And if a soviet “journalist” had claimed that the soviet union did not have any gulags in siberia shouldn’t the nnouncer discuss that?
        And why is government radio using a person who is an offical SA apologist as a guest expert?
        The saudi religous/military dictatorship might or might not be offended. They, like most governments use a disguise of being offended as part of their media spin. But the question is why. And shouldn’t govenrment radio reply as to the true nature of muburak as a murderous thug when the guest “expert” describes the US failure to prevent the generals from overthrowing him and trying him for his crimes vagainst humanity as not treating him with dignity?

        • http://www.qlineorientalist.com/Evan QLineOrientalist

          Fair ’nuff. But it’s not as if he just shut up. He asked him some tough questions. And he got the other speakers to lam into the pro-Saudi spokesman. No one could listen to that program and think that he was letting the Saudis off the hook.

  • liminalx

    Same old voices running the same tired story line about the beneficent Saudis and the villainous Iranians. Time to say bye-by to that dubious peninsula of Wahhabism and try to improve relationships on the eastern side of the Persian Gulf

    • http://www.qlineorientalist.com/Evan QLineOrientalist

      You must’ve been listening to a different program. Go back to 20 minutes.

  • hennorama

    TFRX — we have a nominee for Hyperbolic Statement Of The Month (HSOTM), from Newt Gingrich ‏@newtgingrich:

    “Sebelius dishonesty in testimony this morning exceeds anything president Nixon was accused of.”


  • marygrav

    Saudi Arabia is willing to sacrifice Syria to attack Iran. Iran is a Shiite nation while Saudi is dominated by the Sunni. As Americans we should not get involved in sectarian wars.

    The Saudis are notorious racists colorists, regardless of the fact that “everyone is equal in Islam.” They believe that “whiteness is rightness.” And they do not seem to want to understand what will happen if the Middle East catches on fire. The Saudis and the Israelis are in competition for “favorite son” status with the United States. Both want to attack Iran and want the US’s blessing.

    Both want to attack Syria to weaken Iran. Iran wants to survive and therefore wants peace with the US. I am for survival, not war so that the US can get back on track with its own internal affairs.

    The example of Mexico is a ruse. What about how Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen? The US has always used Mexico as a safety valve for its vicious policies in Latin America, just as the US has always used Israel to do its dirty work in the Middle East so that the Israelis always remains the villaneous nation, while the US remains the hero nation. The Mexican elite, like the Saudi royals are corrupt and both could use a social revolution so that the peasants can become citizens instead of Surfs. I know my spelling is bad, but I think you will understand my meaning.

    And finally, the Syrians have always been victims of the Saudis. It is a relatively poor nation and the major trade it did with Saudi Arabia is to supply light skinned light eyed women. The Saudi grandmothers don’t want dark skinned grandchildren, and after years of the slave trade, quite a few Saudis are dark because the closer the location of a country in the Middle East to Africa, the darker the people, the only solution is light skinned Syrian women.

    Once these women are taken into Saudi society they have no human rights. They have no one to rescue them because their families have sold them into modern slavery. If they are lucky, their husbands may love them, if not they are condemned to a life of hell.

    This my not be of political interests to most, but it is of human interests to me as a woman who has witnessed this.

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 19, 2014
Lara Russo, left, Cally Guasti, center, and Reese Werkhoven sit on a couch in their apartment in New Paltz, N.Y. on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  While their roommate story of $40,800 found in a couch made the news, other, weirder stories of unusual roommates are far more common. (AP)

From college dorms and summer camps to RVs and retirement hotels, what it’s like to share a room. True stories of roommates.

Aug 19, 2014
Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

“War zones” in America. Local police departments with military grade equipment – how much is too much, and what it would take to de-militarize America’s police force.

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