It’s certainly fitting that the odious U.S. regime pals around with the odious Saudi regime. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
The White House has officially confirmed reports that President Biden will indeed be visiting Saudi Arabia in contradiction of his campaign vows to make the nation a “pariah” for its human rights violations, and everyone’s acting like visiting a murderous tyrant is somehow beneath the dignity of a US president.
“The President will then travel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which is the current chair of the GCC and the venue for this gathering of nine leaders from across the region, at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud,” the White House statement reads. “The President appreciates King Salman’s leadership and his invitation. He looks forward to this important visit to Saudi Arabia, which has been a strategic partner of the United States for nearly eight decades.”
The president will meet with the nation’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to discuss what the White House calls “means for expanding regional economic and security cooperation, including new and promising infrastructure and climate initiatives, as well as deterring threats from Iran, advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security.”
Iran’s government is a “regime”; Saudi Arabia’s is a government or state, never a “regime.” As an aside, at least half of us living in the U.S. think we’re living under a “regime.” From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre came very close to committing the cardinal sin of referring to a US-aligned nation as a “regime” on Monday.
In the official White House transcript of Jean-Pierre’s interaction with a reporter inquiring about Biden’s upcoming meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the press secretary’s comment reads as follows:
“Of course, he will be — they will discuss energy with the Saudi government.”
However, if you watch a video clip highlighted on Twitter by Kawsachun News’ Camila Escalante, you’ll notice Jean-Pierre gets tripped up before the word “government”, with a more accurate transcribing reading something like, “Of course, he will be — they will discuss energy with the Saudi re— uhh, err, government.”
As long as Saudi Arabia sits atop one of the world’s largest pools of oil and as long as they insist on payment in dollars for that oil the U.S. will continue to sell massive amounts of armaments to Saudi regime and nobody is going to pay much attention to the Saudi’s atrocious human rights record. From Glen Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:
Biden’s immediate abandonment of his 2020 vow to turn the Saudis into “pariahs,” and his increasing support for the regime, shows the core deceit of U.S. propaganda.
In 2018, President Trump issued a statement reaffirming the U.S.’s long-standing relationship with the Saudi royal family on the ground that this partnership serves America’s “national interests.” Trump specifically cited the fact that “Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world” and has purchased hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons from U.S. arms manufacturers. Trump’s statement was issued in the wake of widespread demands in Washington that Trump reduce or even sever ties with the Saudi regime due to the likely role played by its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
What made these Trump-era demands somewhat odd was that the Khashoggi murder was not exactly the first time the Saudi regime violated human rights and committed atrocities of virtually every type. For decades, the arbitrary imprisonment and murder of Saudi dissidents, journalists, and activists have been commonplace, to say nothing of the U.S./UK-supported devastation of Yemen which began during the Obama years. All of that took place as American presidents in the post-World War II order made the deep and close partnership between Washington and the tyrants of Riyadh a staple of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Whatever the U.S. currently stands for, it’s current foreign policy certainly isn’t about freedom and human rights. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
In a major walkback from his campaign pledge to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” for human rights abuses like the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, President Biden will reportedly visit Riyadh with the goal of persuading Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to help the US alliance win its economic war against Russia.
The Guardian tells us the trip “suggests Biden has prioritized his need to bring oil prices down and thereby punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, over his stand on human rights.”
So in order to punish Vladimir Putin for his war crimes and his assault on freedom and democracy, Biden will be courting a tyrannical war criminal whose country has no freedom or democracy.
Washington will be ending its brief diplomatic dry spell with a government that has been waging a horrific war against Yemen while suppressing any semblance of human rights at home in order to more effectively punish Putin for waging a horrific war against Ukraine which we’re told threatens freedom and democracy throughout the western world.
I am not the first to note the risible irony of this development.
The Middle East is playing the U.S. off against China and the dollar against the yuan. From Judith Bergman at gatestoneinstitute.org:
If Saudi Arabia were to break the tradition of pricing its oil in US dollars, as it is contemplating doing, others could well start to price oil in Chinese yuan or other currencies — negatively affecting the US dollar’s status and potentially the entire US economy.
“China must brace for a full-blown escalation of the struggle with the United States and prepare to gradually decouple the Chinese yuan from the US dollar.” — Zhou Li, former deputy director of the Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, South China Morning Post, July 5, 2020.
That Saudi Arabia now seems to be seriously considering selling its oil in yuan signifies the extent to which the Biden administration’s Middle East policies have left countries such as Saudi Arabia hedging their bets on China, as the ascendant power in the Middle East. China, on the other hand, is simply taking advantage of the current US administration’s deprioritization of the region and its alienation of strategic US allies such as Saudi Arabia.
If the petrodollar standard falls, so goes the American empire. From Nick Giambruno at internationalman.com:
It’s been rightly said that “he who holds the gold makes the rules.”
After World War 2, the US had the largest gold reserves in the world, by far. Along with winning the war, this let the US reconstruct the global monetary system around the dollar.
The new system, created at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, tied the currencies of virtually every country in the world to the US dollar through a fixed exchange rate. It also tied the US dollar to gold at a fixed rate of $35 per ounce.
The dollar was said to be “as good as gold.”
The Bretton Woods system made the US dollar the world’s premier reserve currency. It forced other countries to store dollars for international trade or to exchange with the US government for gold.
Everything that the U.S. is criticizing Russia for and more is being done by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia to Yemen with nary a peep from the U.S. In fact, the U.S. sells Saudi Arabia weapons and provides operational assistance. Unlike Ukraine and Russia, Yemen does not pose an arguably existential or much of any kind of threat to the Saudi Arabia. From Walt Zlotow at antiwar.com:
While the U.S. government and mainstream media rightly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, neither offer one iota of protest against US enabling of Saudi Arabia’s horrific war against neighboring Yemen that has killed over 400,000 and puts millions at risk of starvation.
The Saudis started the war 7 years ago today by intervening in Yemen’s civil war to prevent an Iranian aligned faction from becoming their neighbor. For America it represents a proxy war against the hated Iranian regime.
America has been all in helping the Saudis with US made planes and bombs; refueling and maintenance help, and logistical support. Without US support the incompetent Saudi war effort would collapse, making America instrumental in the carnage and humanitarian catastrophe called the ‘worst in the world’.
The plight of the Yemenis gets almost zero press, but they are under attack from Saudi Arabia, a regime far more repressive and brutal than Russia’s (I don’t recall reading anything about mass executions, dozens at a time, in Russia). Oh, that’s right, Saudi Arabia is an U.S. ally, and is thus a beneficiary of the U.S.’s yawning double standard. From Daniel Larison at antiwar.com:
The US-backed war on Yemen started seven years ago this week, and after all this time US policy is practically unchanged. The coalition bombing campaign has picked up again in recent months with 700 airstrikes in February alone, and according to the Yemen Data Project the bombing has been more intense during this period than at any point since 2018. 1,500 civilians have been killed or wounded in these attacks. Despite being far more destructive and killing many more people, including 91 people in a migrant detention center, these airstrikes have received no criticism from the US.
Instead of withholding military assistance from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as it should have done, the Biden administration has been rushing more jets, ships, and air defense interceptors to the governments that have been brutalizing the people of Yemen directly and through their armed proxies. The US also backed a one-sided UN Security Council resolution that named the Houthis as a terrorist group while ignoring the many atrocities committed by the coalition governments and their proxies. While the US condemns aggression in Ukraine, it continues to support it in Yemen.
The U.S. dollar’s days as the reserve currency are numbered. From QTR Fringe Finance at zerohedge.com:
It was just a couple of weeks ago that I wrote an article arguing that the economic sanctions we have cast upon in Russia, due to its invasion of Ukraine, likely mark the beginning of a period where China and Russia would bifurcate the global monetary system, leading them to eventually challenge the U.S. dollar’s reserve status.
Now, Saudi Arabia is joining the fray, further threatening to tip the balance of the global monetary scales that have kept the U.S. dollar afloat for decades.
The fact that predictions of a “new economy” and “new monetary system” only exist on fringe blogs like mine and haven’t gone mainstream given the current economic situation with Russia (even amidst our abuses of printing the dollar over the last several decades) is baffling to me.
As I noted to Andy Schectman in a recent podcast, our quality of life in the United States and our nation’s entire economy is an elephant balancing, on one leg, on the toothpick of the U.S. dollar’s reserve status.
The Saudi Arabian government is just as nasty, if not nastier, than Iran’s, but it gets a free pass from the U.S. government. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
No matter the many crimes committed by the House of Saud, defenders rush to take up their cause. The Wall Street Journal’sKaren Elliott House was the latest. Readers can imagine tears cascading across her keyboard as she wrote about the plight of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which “is begging the U.S. for Patriot interceptors to defend itself against drone and missile attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.”
House complained that this is bad for America for three reasons. “First, it endangers the Saudi people, who look to the US for protection.” Actually, what endangers the Saudi people is their reckless crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and especially his continuing war of aggression against the KSA’s much poorer neighbor.
Nearly seven years ago Riyadh attacked Yemen to reinstate the latter’s pliable president, who had been ousted by a coalition of his predecessor and the armed Ansar Allah movement, known as the Houthis. The Saudi and Emirati air forces hit hundreds of civilian targets and killed thousands of civilians. The impact of the war – malnutrition and starvation, disease, poverty – killed hundreds of thousands more. Surprising the Saudis, Ansar Allah shot back. (Apparently, they believed winning wars without loss was just another royal prerogative.) The KSA should acknowledge that it has lost, halt its attacks, and seek a realistic negotiated settlement.
Next, House contended that administration policy “endangers an ally and benefits Iran.” In fact, Saudi Arabia has no treaty commitment. Its value to American security is much overstated. The Saudi military performed miserably in Yemen. With the Abrahamic Accords Riyadh should look to Israel rather than the US as its chief security partner. As for economics, the oil market has changed dramatically, Riyadh’s importance is much diminished, and the royals recently made clear that they will pump oil to suit their, not America’s, interest.
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