SHAFAQNA – Unless you have been living under a rock, buried deep under-ground, somewhere on another planet I imagine you heard about JASTA – the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act! So what did just happen? Because believe me something did … something pretty significant too. So significant I would venture that it could change the face of US policy for decades to come.
How you may ask? Well, to answer that question I need to take you back in time … not too far back, only about a year, to summer 2015, and one historical diplomatic breakthrough in between the US and Iran.
Following months of tense negotiations, and let’s say it a good amount of bad will on the part of Washington’s neocons, reason managed to silence war, and a nuclear agreement was brokered – heralding a shift in policies and attitude towards Tehran – America’s once-sworn enemy.
I need here to very quickly summarize America’s ire vis a vis Iran and cut through decades of thick, and often irrational propaganda against the Islamic Republic. Washington’s real problem with Iran has always been about control – or rather Iran’s decision to extract itself from under Western control.
Let us remember that back when Iran was ruled by a kingly tyrant, the US was quite content, and satisfied. And why not … the Shah after all was a generous man sitting atop billions of dollars’ worth of natural resources. It is when Iranians clamoured for their freedom, and right to political self-determination that love turned into hate, and benevolence into rage.
The root of America’s hatred towards Iran very much resembles a lover’s spat. Washington saw the object of its affection [natural resources] melt into the arm of another [Iranians] and it took offense … the rest is pretty much history.
Understand here that I am not assigning blame, I am merely uncovering realpolitik. Interest has always driven politics. Interest is what has kept friendships alive and interests will determine future hatreds.
Remember that word interest. Why? Because interest sits at very heart of US politics and in this particular case the 9/11 Law veto.
Why mention Iran if I’m writing about Saudi Arabia and the implications of the 9//11 Law veto overturn? Why would anyone even bring up Iran when dealing with US-Saudi relations – whatever is left of it anyway?
One word: Geopolitics!
However strong and independent you may think the US to be, America cannot exist without the cooperation of other powers. There is a great degree of co-dependency involved when it comes to foreign relations. No nation can be its own island and still exude power. In other words, Washington’s ability to project political traction very much depends on its political alliances, economic accords and access to key natural resources.
Since 1979, when Iran left Washington’s gravitational pull, Saudi Arabia became a key strategic ally: not just for the oil and gas its wells promised, but for its geography. With Riyadh neatly tucked away in its pocket, the US had not only de facto control over the Greater Middle East, but an opening onto both Asia and Africa.
Do I have your attention? I imagine that by now you are starting to get the picture.
If Washington and Riyadh made sense on paper for a very long time … so much sense in fact that US officials have been willing to brush Saudi Arabia’s appalling human rights practices, and genocidal streak, moving realities and shifting dynamics meant such friendship had to be reassessed.
A bloody, violent, reactionary theocracy, Saudi Arabia stands the very antithesis of American values. Where America was born in a grand declaration of independence against imperialism, the kingdom has anchored its legitimacy in the profession of a faith so radical and abominable that it only exists in the negation of all others. I’m talking of course about Wahhabism.
What you have learnt to call Islamic radicalism is in fact Wahhabism. For well over a decade you have hated, and feared, the very powers Washington and many other Western capitals have called “friends.” Obviously the penny had to drop at some point.
Let’s not pretend that Riyadh was ever a worthy partner … not against Terror, not ever.
Allow me for a second to deviate from the matters at hand and tell you a bit more Saudi Arabia and the regime it houses.
Since its inception the kingdom has committed atrocities so grave, and so absolutely unforgivable, that full knowledge would terrify you. I would go as far as argue that Saudi Arabia stands the greatest tyrant of our age. From their seat of power al-Saud Royals have overseen genocides, planned religious cleansings and taken a sledgehammer to the world religious heritage … those are but samples of Saudi Arabia’s crimes. A full picture would be much too gruesome for you to withstand.
Need I remind you what intolerance Wahhabism has preached against other faiths, including Islam? Only this September, a member of the Wahhabi clergy called for the annihilation of all Shia Muslims, Christians and Jews on account their belief systems differ from that of Wahhabism.
Interestingly enough it appears only Muslims have grasped the sheer extent of Saudi Arabia’s madness. I recall this summer how vocal the Baqee Organization was when it took to Washington to denounce the radicalism of Wahhabism and warned against the disappearing of the world Islamic heritage. Countless groups like the Baqee Organization have stood alone in their refusal of injustice, tyranny and religious tolerance.
JASTA changed that. JASTA literally exploded the manipulation built around Saudi Arabia to lay bare a reality which is as disturbing as it is sinister.
If JASTA will allow for some important truths to be aired, it does not mean however that its purpose was purely so that justice could be served. Let’s not be foolish! Justice is a luxury governments seldom hand over …
JASTA was always meant as a political tool against a now-out-of-control Saudi Arabia.
If you consider that the United States has always viewed any contention to its power as a threat to be immediately dealt with – Russia, Iran, China … the list goes on, then the kingdom’s turn was only really a matter of time.
How many times did you expect Washington to be threatened before it fought back? Did you imagine Washington to be so star-struck by al-Saud’s billions that it would forever bow, and allow for the knife to go further in?
Of course not! That being said governments do not simply break up geopolitical partnerships – not without a solid contingency plan. If Saudi Arabia was to be thrown to the hounds, then America would have to find a suitable suitor to fill the vacuum.
Now look at JASTA again but this time compute geopolitical interests.
Like Iran nuclear deal, JASTA tells a story of politicking and shifting interests. The real story is not that the families of the victims of the 9/11 will be allowed closure through a fair trial, but that Washington already named its next sworn enemy.
Have you noticed just how critical the world has become of Saudi Arabia? Don’t get me wrong, Saudi Arabia needs to answer to the many aggravated war crimes and crimes against humanity it committed. But like I said, governments care little for Justice; interests however they understand.
Today Saudi Arabia has become too much of a liability, too much of a loose cannon for the US to tolerate it within its centre of political gravity. And so a narrative had to be set in place … one which would, quite rightly so mind you, reveal the kingdom to be the initiator, perpetrator and grand financier of terrorism.
Not a moment too soon if you ask me!
“Overriding a presidential veto is something we don’t take lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who co-authored the bill with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), said in a statement.
So there you have it, the end of America’s love affair with Saudi Arabia.
By Catherine Shakdam – Director of Programs for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies
This article appeared first in the Huffington Post