Crappy Journalism about Saudi Arabia and ISIS

By Stanley Heller

king saudi (14K)

It's a two year old column by Patrick Cockburn and I only re-read it after it was referred to in a debate about Syria. The headline is dramatic, "Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country". Wow, as an activist against the Saudi tyranny I was very interested.

Yet the more I read the more unhappy I became. Most of the article is about the disgusting crimes of ISIS. No argument there, but Cockburn's evidence about Saudi help to ISIS comes down to just these two nuggets of information:

1) He says that some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan spoke to the the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."

2) [Dearlove] "He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: "Such things simply do not happen spontaneously." This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters"

And that's it. A vile veiled threat at Shia at least a dozen years earlier and an educated guess by the former head of MI6 in 2014. No bills of lading, no photographs, no documents, no statements by defectors, nothing.

Yes Dearlove was the head of MI6. Does that make his words golden? He was the head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004. Those years should ring a bell. MI6 dropped the ball and did not notice that Bin Laden's gang was preparing to launch a spectacular terrorist attack on 9/11/01. That year the British Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee criticized MI6 of failing to respond with sufficient urgency to warnings. There was also the matter of the weapons of mass destruction. Did MI6 inform Tony Blair that the "weapons of mass destruction" were gone from Iraq long long before 2003? It seems that Dearlove presided over two of the most spectacular failures of British intelligence.

That the Saudi government would aid ISIS seems counter-intuitive. ISIS declares the regime its enemy As Sam Charles Hamad writes, "Daesh consider Al-Saud to be tawagheet, unjust rulers who turn Muslims away from practicing Sharia to man-made laws. Daesh also consider the Saudi ulama, the Wahhabi religious establishment, to be then little more than agents of this anti-Islamic system and thus reject their religious rulings, despite the formal points of continuity that go back to their common historical roots." They've attacked the Saudis along the Iraq/Saudi border and within Saudi Arabia. This follows the pattern of al-Qaeda (whose ideas about the world are pretty close to ISIS) which launched several bloody attacks against the Saudi princes

Cockburn does know about this and claims, "In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo." It seems contradictory, playing with dynamite, but maybe it's true.

Let's see some evidence.

I went back and looked at the headline. The sub headline is: "A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade"

The whole alarming headline is based on a "hint" by the man who headed MI6 during its least auspicious era.

Least you see this as apologetics for the Saudi regime see the site of the Coalition to End the U.S.-Saudi alliance which I help edit. It's as anti-regime and as democratic as you can get. It's happy to publish evidence of regime wrongdoing, but not crappy journalism.

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