The Misunderstood Role of the Saudis

Bashar-Assad-King-Abdulla-Saudi-arabia-2010 (24K)

A Facebook post by Michael Karadjis, September 19, 2016

[The question under discussion was the degree to which the Saudis are stoking sectarian hatred and wars and the common view on the Left that the Saudis are most to blame. Karadjis wrote:]

The Saudi monarchy is far too conservative to play that role. Most leftists and rightists merely make that accusation without a shred of evidence; it is an accusation made on the basis that it is "common sense." It may have been a long time ago, and in places far away (eg Afghanistan, Pakistan) but certainly not anywhere nearby in the Arab world and certainly not in the last 20 years or so. The monarchy knows very well that the Sunni extremists are its arch-enemies that want to overthrow the "apostate" regime (there was a jihadist-led insurgency against the regime in the mid-2000s). The Saudis even hate the softer Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood (there was an MB-linked insurgency against the regime in the mid-1990s); they hate all Islamists.

That is why they overthrew the democratically elected MB regime in Egypt and replaced it with the secular tyranny of al-Sisi, who, ironically perhaps for the Saudis, is a key backer of Assad's secular tyranny. The Saudis back secular Fatah against Hamas in Palestine; they back the secular Sunni Harriris in Lebanon in a long-time alliance with Christian rightists; in Libya they back the uprising of the right-wing secular strongman general Hifter against the Islamist forces; in Iraqi elections of 2010 they backed the candidacy of *Allawi*, a *Shiite*, who led a rightist anti-sectarian bloc that included Sunni and Shia, and won, but was prevented from taking power by the US-Iranian alliance that ensured that the Shiite sectarian destroyer, reactionary chaos-maker, Maliki, took power;

In Yemen, they backed the right-secular tyrant Saleh for decades, especially against the local MB, until the April Spring uprising, when they backed his deputy Hadi for the conservative "Yemeni solution"; Since Saleh then made an alliance with the Iran-backed Houthis to invade and subjugate the anti-Saleh/Houthi south, the Saudis have backed an alliance between the conservative secular Hadi forces and the former Marxist South Yemeni regime forces;

In Syria, the Saudis backed Assad for decades and continued to after the uprising began in February 2011 until the level of slaughter forced a change in August 2011. In July 2011 they gave Assad a $100 million loan! (see below - editor) Now they mainly back the most moderate secular FSA forces, such as the Southern Front, as against the simple untruth that everyone and their dog keeps repeating despite the total lack of evidence, that they "support Salafists" etc. Of course, on that - on Syria - it just happens that I think they do a good thing, even if for the wrong reasons (they think that only via the politically heterogenious and less ideological FSA can they mould an Abbas-figure on its right, same as with PLO/Fatah, to do the necessary compromises for a conservative solution; they know they can't get that with the Islamists of any stripe).

Karadjis wrote about this question at some length in 2014.

About the July 2011 Saudi loan to Assad, Michael Karadjis refers to this 8/2011 article which talks about the Saudi's surprising new public opposition to Assad. The article refers to the loan here: "The king, after all, had been silent since mid-March, even sending an opposite message in July when his country approved a long-term 375 million riyal (US100 million) loan to Damascus. "

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