Sunday, February 16, 2014

BANDAR'S LAST STAND By Ghassan Kadi 24 December 2013

By Ghassan Kadi
24 December 2013

Indications are that the USA is intent about fighting real fundamentalist terrorism at its grass root levels. After two failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, America was fooled By Saudi Arabia to believe that it can use those same terrorist elements to topple the government in Syria, and thus giving Hezbollah and Iran a very painful blow from which they cannot recover. The USA was led to believe that it can easily later on turn around to cull out the Islamists in Syria.

The plot did not work. Assad remains standing and the terrorists are becoming more powerful and more radicalized and out of control.

Under pressure from Russia and the turn of events, the USA had to make a U-turn realizing that Iran can play a big role in stabilizing the region, rather than destabilizing it. This angered both the Israelis and the Saudis. The Americans will have an uphill battle with their Israeli friends no doubt. They may even finally come to the understanding that supporting Israel is creating enemies and insecurity for America. But the question herein is what will they do with their Saudi friends?

America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is based, or should we say was based on two foundations; the former’s need for oil, and the common political enemy; ie the Iran/Syria/Hezbollah triangle.

This is at best a loveless marriage of convenience that has perhaps run its course. Even with all of its hypocrisies and double standards, America must find in its friendship with Saudi Arabia a major embarrassment. Among other things, this is the state where democracy is all but non -existent, a state that does not allow women basic rights including driving, and a state that does not allow churches to be built on its sand.

More importantly, this is the state that fosters, trains and finances Islamic terrorism. This has become more prominent after the fall of Bin Laden, a foe of the Saudi royal family, and Bandar Bin Sultan appointing himself as a Al-Qaeda surrogate financier. In doing so, Bandar was not only thus far able to use the group to fight for his agenda in Syria, but he managed to stifle their terrorism within Saudi Arabia itself and which threatened and crippled the kingdom with a series of explosions and attacks that spanned for nearly quite a few years that followed Operation Desert Storm on Iraq in 1991.

As the political alliance between the USA and Saudi Arabia is waning and coming to an abrupt and unsavoury end, the future of the economic alliance does not seem much rosier, at least not on the long run.

On one hand, the Saudis are tight-lipped about the amount of their oil reserves. The Americans have always expressed great dis-ease about this. On the other hand, the huge shale oil American deposits are tipped to eventually render America needless of importing Saudi oil and may in fact enable it to become a net exporter.

As far as the Saudi/American relationship is concerned, it is not exactly the time for the Saudis to play hard ball.

Saudi Arabia now seems to be isolated in its stand on Syria. The master mind of Saudi foreign politics, Bandar Bin Sultan dreamt of toppling the Assad government and to have it replaced by a fundamentalist Islamic regime and thereby isolating Iran and weakening Hezbollah. His dreams did not come to fruition and instead ended with America easing off sanctions against Iran and seemingly resolute on reaching a deal with Iran to stamp out fundamentalists.

Domestically, Bandar’s gamble with the USA and playing the game of the big boys is highly likely to shatter his dream to become the first grandson of the founding king Abdul-Aziz to assume the throne. All Saudi monarchs have thus far been the direct children of the founding father, but they are all getting very old and the squabble over the lineage cannot be age-based any longer. Bandar wanted to achieve victory over Iran in Syria and become the unrivaled successor of the throne.

All of this has vanished and the Saudi royal family will soon have to find itself having to choose between Bandar and perhaps the very survival of the royal family and the kingdom’s status quo.

More than two years into the war in Syria, after many temptations given to Russia and two humiliating visits to Putin, a series of false flags attacks in Syria which neither resulted in any UNSC resolutions let alone a unilateral American intervention, anguish is growing within Saudi Arabia resulting from his gambles, Bandar now realizes that he has painted himself into a corner.

Turkey has almost totally abandoned him, and Jordan is growing more concerned about its own interests in this fast-changing world. Qatar wiped its hands clean and gave him the captaincy of the Titanic. Israel cannot support him more overtly than it already does.

The only supporters he has left are the Islamist fighters in Syria and his cohorts in Lebanon (the so-called March 14th Coalition). The formers are losing ground under the Syrian Army on daily basis despite some setbacks. The latters do not stand a chance against the might of Hezbollah should they opt to rekindle the fire of civil war in Lebanon.

It must be said that the March 14th Coalition has been beating up the drums of civil war for a long time. They are bracing for orders from Bandar to light up the fire.

After all of his abysmal failures, what new tricks will Bandar try to, or effectively can pull out of his sleeve? To answer this question one has to be able to answer how far will a filthy rich psychopath go? His hinchmen in Syria are already at war. Will he give the go ahead to their Lebanese counter-part? The recent developments in Lebanon make this scenario look likely, but what achievements will Bandar receive as a result? Those groups cannot be put in the ally basket. Mercenaries would be a better description.

Bandar is highly unlikely to sit quietly in a corner and behave himself. But if he keeps causing more havoc, the next question may not be what will he do, but rather how will he be dealt with? If it comes to this, his peers and who is left of his allies may see him as a liability. In war games, assets deemed as liabilities get tagged as being disposable. The avenues of disposal are countless.

Bandar has already taken his last stand when the USA was forced to abort its attack on Syria.

(Sharmine Narwani wrote a very elaborate and balanced article about the seismic shift that is happening currently in the Middle East. The article is a highly recommended read. link below).

Originally published here:

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