FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis

I’ve argued that the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia comprise an axis (a true “Axis of Evil”) united (for very different reasons) in opposition to Iran. The Saudi king has urged Washington to topple the Islamic Republic, which it considers heretical and the fountainhead of regional Shiite militancy. Robert Gates (Defense Secretary 2006-11) recalled meeting the late Saudi King Abdullah and recorded that “He wanted a full-scale attack on Iranian military targets, not just the nuclear sites.”

Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that it has engaged in discussions with Israel about coordinating strategy against Iran. The axis is dangerous, a source of war. But it is isolated in the world. Most leaders want normal relations with Iran, understand the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran Deal as a move towards war, and see Donald Trump, Binyamin Netanyahu and Prince Mohammad bin Salman alike as dangerously unhinged people. But the axis remains active for the time being.

Yet how can it survive the crown prince’s apparent vile crime in ordering the murder of a Saudi journalist in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, by a hit squad of 15 Saudi assassins who brought a bone-saw to cut up the body for discreet removal? A crime caught on surveillance audio and video. This is sheer evil, evident to all. As Patrick Cockburn has pointed out, it’s easier to get one’s mind around a specific atrocity like Jamal Khashoggi’s murder than to grasp the magnitude of, say, the Saudi war on Yemen that’s taken 10,000 lives. This specific atrocity cries out for reaction.

Warmongering Sen. Lindsey Graham, always a pro-Saudi stalwart, now says that if the allegation is true, “It’s a game-changer” and “There will be hell to pay.”

That could mean a change in the game dating back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s meeting with the Saudi king in 1945, cementing the ongoing cheap oil for arms arrangement. Sen. Rand Paul is calling for an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia; but Trump says this would be “a very, very hard pill to swallow for our country” due to all those Boeing and Lockheed jobs involved. Still, it may be hard to sustain the current (“excellent”) relationship.

The prince has been on the phone to his friend Jared Kushner, denying Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance. If Jared, Trump’s point man on the Middle East, stands up for his buddy, he will be more discredited than he already is. If he breaks with him, the capacity for axis cooperation against Iran may be diminished. That would be good.

Former assistant secretary of secretary of state for public affairs John Kirby, CNN’s “senior military and diplomatic analyst” says there has never been such a crisis in U.S.-Saudi relations. But he opines that it’s a necessary crisis. For once I agree with him. The Saudi royal court headed by this cruel and reckless young man is a far greater threat to world peace than either the North Korean or Iranian regimes. And now its fundamental moral quality is revealed by this evil incident.

Perhaps the Saudi king will be obliged to depose his son and choose another successor. (Recall how Kim Jong-il deposed his heir apparent Kim Jong-nam after he embarrassed the family by trying to visit Disneyland in Tokyo using a fake passport in 2001.) King Salman will have far more reason than the North Korean leader to consider another choice. But he is old and doddering. His son is young, vigorous, and has already killed or jailed a dozen relatives. One expects a simmering power struggle in Riyadh, difficulties in the Saudi-Turkish relationship, a glitch in Saudi-Israeli cooperation, and welcome more scrutiny as his intimate relationship with MBS (and with MBS’s relations with Israel and the Palestinians, and Saudi-Israeli cooperation on Iran, and on Syria where Israeli planes do not bomb Saudi-backed forces, etc.) becomes better revealed. Maybe even business ties will be investigated.

It is not looking good for the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel. But the rest of the world can rejoice that the prospect of war on Iran has probably lessened.

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 25, 2019
Jesse Jackson
Trump Plunges the US Deeper Into Forgotten Wars
George Wuerthner
BLM Grazing Decision Will Damage the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness
April 24, 2019
Susan Babbitt
Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story
Adam Jonas Horowitz
Letter to the Emperor
Lawrence Davidson
A Decisive Struggle For Our Future
John Steppling
The Mandate for Israel: Keep the Arabs Down
Victor Grossman
Many Feet
Cira Pascual Marquina
The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune
Binoy Kampmark
Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli
Dean Baker
Payments to Hospitals Aren’t Going to Hospital Buildings
Alvaro Huerta
Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA
Colin Todhunter
As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?
Charlie Gers
Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Just Another Spring in Progress?
Thomas Knapp
On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Bolton
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail