How Saudi/Gulf Money Fuels Terror
November 14, 2015
One would think that this would set off alarm bells in Washington, yet the result has been a collective shrug. The Obama administration continues to back Saudi Arabia in its assault on the Middle East’s poorest nation, providing it with technical back-up and naval support, while France, eager to supplant the U.S. as the kingdom’s chief weapons supplier, backs it as well.
French President Francois Hollande thus backs the kingdom that backs the forces that backed those who carried out the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He also backs a kingdom that allows donations to flow to ISIS, which he now identifies as responsible for the latest atrocities.
Hollande prefers to beat his breast and issue ringing calls for “compassion and solidarity” rather than actually doing something about the relationships that generate such attacks in the first place.
At its most basic level, this is a problem of oil, money and an American empire that stands paralyzed before the disaster it has created in the Middle East. When Obama issued his famous August 2011 call for regime change in Damascus – “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside” – it seemed to be a no-brainer.
The insurgency was growing, the Ba’athists were hanging on by a thread, and it seemed only a matter of time before Assad met the same fate as Muammar Gaddafi. “We came, we saw, he died,” Hillary Clinton would crow a few months later about Gaddafi, and so it seemed that Assad would soon meet his end at hands of a rebel mob, too.
But Assad proved more durable, mainly because he had the backing of a mass party that, despite corruption and ossification, still enjoyed a significant measure of popular support. The longer he has been able to stay in power, therefore, the more the U.S. has found itself caught up in an increasingly sectarian war by gulf-funded Sunni extremists.
Faced with a choice between Assad on one hand and ISIS and Al Qaeda on the other, Obama has dithered and delayed, refusing to commit himself wholeheartedly to the rebel cause but failing to object when his closest friends channel funds to groups that the U.S. officially regards as anathema.
Instead of defeating ISIS, this policy of neither-nor has allowed it fester and grow. The group is richer than ever, its troops travel about in shiny new Toyota pickups, and its technical prowess is also on the upswing. Two weeks ago, it apparently brought down a Russian airliner in the Sinai. On Thursday, it sent a pair of suicide bombers into a Shi‘ite neighborhood in Beirut, killing 43 people and wounding more than two hundred.
Now, according to French authorities, ISIS has sent a team of at least eight militants to shoot up various sites in Paris. In an apparent reference to Western bombing raids against ISIS targets in Syria, one gunman reportedly shouted during the assault on the Bataclan music hall, “What you are doing in Syria, you are going to pay for it now.”
This is a horror show made in Washington, Riyadh and the Élysée.
Paris Attack: Isis Has Created a New Kind of Warfare
PATRICK COCKBURN • NOVEMBER 14, 2015
Isis has claimed the Paris attacks, saying that France was targeted because of its air strikes in Syria. The use of eight suicide bombers and gunmen in a national capital, guaranteeing maximum coverage by the media, has all the hallmarks of an Isis operation. One ominous difference from the killings earlier in the year at Charlie Hebdo magazine and in a Jewish supermarket, is that attacks, presumably because of Isis involvement, are getting more sophisticated and better planned. Recruiting, arming, coordinating and keeping hidden the Paris killers until the last moment implies good organisation. The same was true of the smuggling of a bomb on to the Russian plane before it left the ground at Sharm al-Sheikh on 30 October.