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The US Is Arming The Gulf. Against Whom? – OpEd


By Boris Volkhonsky

On Saturday, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her visit to Saudi Arabia, attended the first Strategic Cooperation Forum between the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The six countries comprising the GCC are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The most important outcome of the session on Saturday was the decision to establish a common missile defense shield against Iran.

Now, the issue is really worth looking deeper into.

At first sight, establishing a missile defense shield in the Gulf area seems at least a little bit more logical than establishing a similar shield in Poland, Czech Republic, Romania or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. That is, if the shield is really targeted at a possible threat coming from Iran.

On the other hand, a decision to launch such kind of a shield at this particular moment, when it is Iran’s turn to be scared of a possible attack – be it from the U.S. or from Israel – breaks the above logic. But the logic is restored when we look at the problem from another angle.

In fact, for any unbiased outside observer it became clear a long time ago that the real purpose of the whole U.S. activity around Iran is not aimed at diverting any kind of threat, either nuclear or missile. The real purpose is regime change. And this explains both the U.S.’ desire to overthrow Iran’s last remaining ally – the Assad regime in Syria, and the close relationship with the Gulf monarchies.

Against the background of the U.S. crackdown on Assad, Ms. Hillary’s references to democracy at the Saturday’s Forum seem ridiculous. She expressed “regret” about the UAE’s March 28 raid on the offices of several foreign pro-democracy groups, including a U.S. organization, the National Democratic Institute.

Also, if we remember the events of spring 2011 in Bahrain, when the ruling Sunni regime launched a bloody crackdown of Shiite protesters, the case went almost unnoticed in the U.S. The reason was that Bahrain serves as one of the most important bases for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Definitely, other Gulf monarchies can hardly be called exemplary democracies. But it’s OK with the U.S. when it comes to protecting them against Iran.

The question is who is to benefit? On the one hand, it gives the U.S. new opportunities for selling their weapons to the stalwarts of democracy in the Gulf region. But, on the other hand, one cannot get rid of the impression that the whole wave of the so called “revolutions” in the Middle East initiated in Tunisia in December 2010 and having Iran as its ultimate aim serves the interests of only one geopolitical player in the region – that is Saudi Arabia with its satellites.

This explains why the regime changes in several Arab countries where the revolutions succeeded have not led to a triumph of democracy, but rather to a triumph of Islamists. This explains why, stirred up by the radical Sunni regime in Saudi Arabia, the West is so preoccupied with picking on Shiite Iran and trying to overthrow the Alawi-dominated regime in Syria.

The only thing Ms. Hillary and the U.S. administration are not taking into account is the fact that playing with such willful players can backfire in an unpredictable way.

When the nationalities of the 9/11 hijackers were revealed, it turned out that 15 out of 19 were Saudi nationals, with four others coming from UAE (two), Egypt and Lebanon (one each). Yet the U.S. preferred to soft pedal the issue, choosing instead a mythical Al Qaeda and the unfortunate Taliban as the main culprits.

It should also be remembered that Al Qaeda was created by the U.S. as a tool against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the1980s. Now the U.S. seems to be going for the same mistake, arming a temporary ally that has all the prerequisites for turning the arms in an unpredicted direction.

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

5 thoughts on “The US Is Arming The Gulf. Against Whom? – OpEd

  • April 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    The USG courting tyrants and despots. What’s new? Maybe they can make a few dollars selling arms, reduce US debt levels…escalate the threat toward Iran then wonder why Iran becomes a little belligerent. US foreign policy is one sick and terminally ill puppy.

    Yankee go home.

  • April 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    The author of this article is correct: the goal of U.S. actions in the Gulf are regime change in Iran. But should we be surprised? I think not. One can look at the agenda of the so-called neocons in “The Project for a New American Century,” widely available on the net. Further back, the Cold War is a good example of the U.S. attempting, and succeeding, in thwarting a rival empire, the USSR, from extending its influence. One can view WW2 in the same light: a struggle for resources, wealth, and power, all couched in the rhetoric of national survival. And the machinations of American icons like Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt fit into the same pattern. Examples of grasping can be seen throughout history, and NONE of the world’s peoples are immune. Therefore the problem lies in human nature, especially when groups of people organize. The evidence shows that the standard operating procedure of our species is fairly grim and extremely bloody. But worse, nothing has worked: no philosophy or religion has made any appreciable difference in our march to destruction. If anyone has an answer I’d sure be glad to hear it.

  • April 4, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Aside from basic agro-supplies the USA imports most of its civilian goods. It is not competitive manufacturing such as electronic devices even when the prototypes are American.

    So aside from the Agro what is left but military or military related industries? Ergo, the making and sale of war materials is what the USA does best.

  • April 4, 2012 at 6:03 am

    I don’t understand your viewpoint, not even as anti-American venting. A few points:

    – Regime change in Iran would be good for (and desired) by Iranians, and good for the region.
    – Was the world a better place when the USSR was an empire?
    – Would the world have been a better place had the U.S. taken the loss at Pearl Harbor, withdrew from the Pacific and let the Japanese continue extending its empire?
    – You say WW2 was “…a struggle for resources, wealth, and power, all couched in the rhetoric of national survival”??? Rhetoric? National survival WAS very much at stake for Russia, the U.S. and the Allies. And at the end of the war, one nation, the U.S. had the nuclear bomb, a surplus of war planes and ships, a huge military, and an undamaged homeland, yet chose not to extend its reach, but to rebuild its former enemies.
    I don’t have the answer to your question but one thing is certain– an isolationist U.S. is not the answer.

  • April 4, 2012 at 6:14 am

    My comment above was a reply to Tom Jefferson. I thought I hit the Reply button.


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