News Release Archive | Middle East | Accuracy.Org

Obama, Saudi Arabia and “Reactionary Violence”

President Obama begins his visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday.

TOBY C. JONES, tobycjones at yahoo.com, @tobycraigjones
Jones is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the book Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. He said today: “The U.S. must rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia. While many in Washington believe that our long-standing partners in Riyadh are the least worst option in the Middle East, the reality is that the kingdom is a dangerous and destabilizing actor. Saudi Arabia is a violent place, with an oppressive regime, that has doggedly pursued the path of counter-revolution since 2011. It seeks not stability nor security for residents across the Middle East. Rather, Saudi leaders seek domination and are supporting reactionary violence in places like Egypt, Bahrain and Syria to help them achieve it.”

ALI AL-AHMED, via Chidinma Zik-Ikeorha, externalaffairs at gulfinstitute.org, @AliAlAhmed_en
Director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, al-Ahmed said today: “Obama should end the current U.S. policy of ignoring the rights and aspirations of the Arab people in the Arabian Peninsula. The U.S. has no credibility on human rights without publicly confronting the Saudi monarchy on its dire human rights record and its destruction of the Arab people’s desire for freedom and progress.”

VIJAY PRASHAD, Vijay.Prashad at trincoll.edu, @vijayprashad
Edward Said chair at American University in Beirut, Prashad is co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring. He said today: “Obama is going to Saudi Arabia because the Sultans of Arabia have gone at each other’s throats. The Qatar-KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] feud has damaged the fragile unity built up since 1979 with the creation of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and the coordination of their policy over the past three decades. Qatari gas gives the little emirate independence, which allowed it to become the patron of the Muslim Brotherhood — a group that the KSA does not support. Disputes between these countries predates the war in Syria and the Arab Spring. Some of it has to do with KSA’s very strong position against Iran which is not shared on the peninsula. Will the U.S. be able to patch things up? Unlikely. The transition in Qatar did not solve the KSA’s grouse, and nor will Obama’s visit.”

Shutdown Government, Expand Military: * Afghan War After 12 years * Africa Attacks * U.S. Global Bases

MATTHEW HOH, mphoh1 at yahoo.com, @MatthewHoh
Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former director of the Afghanistan Study Group. A former Marine and State Department official, Hoh resigned in protest from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan over U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in 2009. He said today: “It is fitting that as we pass the 12-year mark of the U.S. and Western invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. government is shut down, our economy, education system and infrastructure continues their persistent degradation, and the American people, for the first time ever, now believe their children will not be better off than they. The failure of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, a failure that has been obvious for quite some time, like our own domestic failings, is a testament to a broken American political order and a $1 trillion a year national security Leviathan. Of course, the Afghan people are no closer to becoming a country at peace than at any time since the 1970s and the United States must and should understand its responsibility and culpability in the continuing death, loss and chaos. 

“Similarly, in Libya and Somalia, again violence and military force is proving not to be a solution to terrorism. We have to understand the root causes. And many times these root causes are local and regional issues we have a poor grasp of — and sometimes those root causes are grievances against U.S. policies. In Somalia, we keep losing sight of the fact that al-Shabab has not conducted operations anywhere that was not related to occupation of Somalia, this is true for their operations in Uganda and their recent attack in Kenya. So much of this is tied to the U.S. sponsored Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. In Libya, our support in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, to include the killing of the man that the U.S. State Department had defined as a reliable ally in the war on terror, has led to continued chaos and a vacuum in government. Two years later we find ourselves having to kidnap a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. How can we describe our operations in Libya to have been successful or a model for future operations as is so often described by administration officials or pundits?”

VIJAY PRASHAD, vp01 at aub.edu.lb, @vijayprashad
Edward Said chair at American University in Beirut, Prashad is co-editor of Dispatches from the Arab Spring and author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter. He said today: “The UN’s mission in Libya has attempted to create a law and order based governance system in the most difficult circumstances. On 22 September, the Libyan government, with help from the UN mission, passed a law on transitional justice with rules that include provisions on fact-finding, reparations for victims and accountability. The entire UN-authorized mission of 2011 run by NATO was legitimized by human rights questions. The current U.S. raid on Libya to capture a man (indicted in 2000 for the 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. targets in East Africa) from the upscale Noufleen neighborhood in Tripoli undermines the process driven by the Libyan government and the UN mission in Libya. The U.S. has no extradition treaty with Libya but there are other legal avenues to have used before the snatch and render method employed. There is no indication that the U.S. had ever asked the Libyans to extradite the suspect, nor that the U.S. informed the Libyans of this operation. It is a major setback to Libyan efforts to create transitional justice, and once more calls into question the U.S. commitment to a rules and regulations society.”

DAVID VINE, vine at american.edu
Vine is associate professor of anthropology at American University and is author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. He is currently completing a book about the effects of U.S. military bases located outside the United States.

He recently wrote the piece “The Italian Job: How the Pentagon Is Using Your Tax Dollars to Turn Italy into a Launching Pad for the Wars of Today and Tomorrow” for Tom Dispatch.

The piece states: “The Pentagon has spent the last two decades plowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars into military bases in Italy, turning the country into an increasingly important center for U.S. military power. Especially since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the military has been shifting its European center of gravity south from Germany, where the overwhelming majority of U.S. forces in the region have been stationed since the end of World War II. In the process, the Pentagon has turned the Italian peninsula into a launching pad for future wars in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond. …

“Our bases in Italy are making it easier to pursue new wars and military interventions in conflicts about which we know little, from Africa to the Middle East. Unless we question why we still have bases in Italy and dozens more countries like it worldwide — as, encouragingly, growing numbers of politicians, journalists, and others are doing — those bases will help lead us, in the name of American ‘security’, down a path of perpetual violence, perpetual war, and perpetual insecurity.”