The Coming Arab Crash
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The Coming Arab Crash

October 19, 2001

If the Saudi and other pro-western regimes are lined up against Bin Laden, they will fall

The popularity of the pro-west [Arab] leaders is so thin that any material move to hitch their fate to the anti- Bin Laden coalition will create an irreversible march towards disaster.

By Said Aburish*
[Thursday October 18, 2001 - The Guardian, London]: The west's most important friends in the Arab Middle East - Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah of Jordan, Mubarak of Egypt and the PLO's Yasser Arafat - are probably the world's most vulnerable political quartet. It is likely that endemic problems and the Islamic fundamentalist tide gripping their countries will bring an end to their regimes within the next five years. Though Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority have many problems in common, the likelihood is that Saudi Arabia will be the Middle East's next trouble spot among the pro-western countries. This is because King Fahd, 79, is ailing and his death is likely to produce several contenders for the kingship at a time of mounting economic problems and growing Islamic opposition.

For now, all might seem outwardly quiet in Saudi Arabia. But a closer look reveals serious problems. Since Fahd bin Abdel Aziz, fifth king of modern Saudi Arabia, succeeded to the throne in 1982, the economy has shrunk drastically. Even by historical standards corruption is completely out of control. With oil income down to $40bn, most of the country's people are suffering. In 1993, annual per capita income was $5,000, barely one third of what it was in the early 1980s. By some estimates, it has since fallen still further. And politically, all this has aided Islamic fundamentalism, which has grown at an alarming rate because it is the only popular movement which the government cannot outlaw. Widespread anti-western feeling means there is a danger of internal unrest and more violence against western interests.

Corruption and the suffering of the average Saudi provide a fertile background for the emergence of a popular Islamic opposition and the coming of age of a generation of educated Saudis who reject the absolute ways of the monarchy. Fahd and his family are identified with the west. The misdeeds of the royals, including allowing the stationing of American forces on holy Muslim soil, is doing the west more harm than good. These elements combined are driving more and more Saudis to join militant Islamic movements and reducing the monarchy's already small popular base.

A fight over the succession could produce an alliance between Muslim fundamentalists and the army against the royals - or some dissident royals forging an alliance with the army or security forces against their relations. This is a difficult time for the House of Saud to join the west against fellow Muslims: there is no direct threat to Saudi Arabia and Bin Laden's criminal actions appeal to many Muslims.

In Jordan, the situation is no better. Young and untried King Abdullah is in serious trouble. More than two thirds of his country's population is Palestinian and sympathise with any anti-American action because of America's support for Israel. King Abdullah's open support for action against Bin Laden and his militant supporters has done nothing but diminish his popularity. At present the opposition to Abdullah is unorganised and no groups are openly asking for his overthrow. But there is a strong and vocal Islamic fundamentalist opposition, which at one point controlled a quarter of the seats in the Jordanian parliament. As in Saudi Arabia, there are very few who favour supporting the west against fellow Muslims. Even those who do blame Abdullah for maintaining the peace treaty with Israel and attempting to please the west at the expense of local feeling.

Jordan's troubles have a regional component in them. Syria, traditionally anti-west, has considerable influence with the Jordanians. Jordanians approve of Syria's hard line against Israel and are full of admiration for the semi-socialist politics of their northern neighbour. Moreover, Saddam Hussein is extremely popular in Jordan. Seen as a modern day Saladin who stood up to the west, his popularity is widespread.

Overall, the anti-western feeling of the Jordanian people, be they secular or Islamist, is extremely strong. Any Jordanian help for the west, even if strictly diplomatic, is likely to backfire and exacerbate King Abdullah's chronic problems. Yet, Jordan's dependence upon America's economic aid has already forced its government to adopt this unpopular stance.

In Egypt, economic conditions are much worse than in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The damage to tourism brought about by the September 11 disaster is likely to be severe. Tourism is the country's major industry and top foreign currency earner. Moreover, lower oil tanker traffic through the Suez canal will make the situation worse. This comes at a time when the fever of opposition to President Mubarak is catching.

Until recently, opposition to Mubarak's army-backed regime was confined to Islamic fundamentalism. This is no longer the case. The press reacted angrily to laws aimed at restricting its freedom. The bourgeoisie accused Mubarak of spending too much on foreign and regional affairs and not enough on Egypt's internal problems. Stories about corruption and nepotism abound. The growing impatience with Israel and the US has meant Mubarak's popularity is at an all time low. Egypt's economic decline - interrupted by the cancellation of billions of dollars of debt during the Gulf war in return for an anti-Saddam stand - has resurfaced as the country's major problem. Egypt owes more than $30bn, its population is increasing by more than a million a year and money sent back from workers in oil-producing countries issharply reduced as countries need fewer guest workers. And Egypt cannot expect a debt-cancellation bonus this time.

Meanwhile the calm surface concealing Islamist activity is deceptive - infiltration of the army is at an all time high. Because Mubarak has failed to create a popular base for his government, there are no political movements to oppose the Islamists. Joining the west in an alliance against fellow Muslims is so unacceptable to Egyptians that it could well lead to upheaval and Mubarak's eventual departure.

Arafat, the west's newest friend, confronts the same political and economic problems as Fahd, Abdullah and Mubarak. His Islamic opposition is armed and willing to wage a guerrilla war against both him and Israel. He has failed to create a political entity acceptable to his people. Because the Oslo peace accord and the subsidiary agreements which followed it have failed to satisfy Palestinian aspirations, the people of the occupied territories are turning to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and smaller Islamic groups. Totally opposed to the west and disparaging of Arafat's subservient behaviour, these groups have made no secret of their tacit approval of Bin Laden's actions.

With nothing to show after years of depending on the US to play honest broker, Arafat has never been this unpopular and his use of the secret police has already inflamed the Palestinians. Along with press censorship, it has eroded his credentials. He no longer speaks for the Palestinians and the Islamists are likely to add to his problems.

It is difficult to see what could save Arafat. The standard of living among Palestinians is at an all time low. Unemployment is over 30% and higher among university graduates. Arafat's inner circle has been tainted with corruption and nepotism. Given that the Sharon government is unlikely to be generous enough to save Arafat, the prospects for a Palestinian civil war are growing by the day. The unthinkable may come to pass, an Arafat-Israel alliance against Hamas and other Palestinian Islamic groups.

The threats to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Arafat are real. What makes the present situation worse than ever before is America's determination to involve Arab leaders in an alliance against fellow Muslims. The popularity of the pro-west leaders is so thin that any material move to hitch their fate to the anti-Bin Laden coalition will create an irreversible march towards disaster.

* Said K Aburish, is a well-known and respected Arab political analysis living in London. He is author of The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud (Bloomsbury); and A Brutal Friendship, The West and the Arab Elite (St. Martin's Press).


BAGHDAD, Oct 19 (AFP) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called today in a letter to his Iraqi counterpart for a united Arab front to counter Israel's "barbaric war" against the Palestinians, a newspaper reported Friday.

"In these dangerous circumstances endured by our nation and in light of the Zionist aggression against our Palestinian people ... we need a solid and united Arab front to face this barbaric war launched by Israel," he said.

"These aggressions aim at Judaizing the Christian and Muslim holy sites (in Jerusalem) and destroying the aspirations of the Palestinian people," said Arafat's letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein published in Ath-Thawra.

The Iraqi president said at the end of September that the Palestinians had "honored" the Arabs by launching their intifada, or uprising against Israel, in September 2000.

Iraq, which has been under UN embargo since invading Kuwait in 1990, says it has mobilised 6.5 million volunteers to "liberate Palestine" and fight a jihad, or Muslim holy war, against Israel.

Comment on these article(s)

October 2001


Bio and Nuclear Threats Escalate As Purposeful Leaks Proliferate to Mass Media
(October 26, 2001)
The timing of newsstories like this in the major Western media should be suspect now more than ever. For more than ever in fact governments and intelligence agencies are using the mass media by leaking things at times of convenience and more importantly with their own twists and turns.

"Stop Israel!" Pleads Israeli Professor
(October 26, 2001)
One Israeli, not invited by the naive and misguided American Jewish "liberals" to the USA, speaks up from Israel with tremendous courage and conviction. Her name is Tanya Reinhart and she deserves to be taken very seriously -- though far too many don't even know about her.

"Palestinian Statehood" - Another Grotesque Deception Unfolds
(October 25, 2001)
The political smokescreens are lifting a bit as the pressures build to go beyond mere words, yet at the same time a purposeful distorting haze is taking over. Bottom line: the kind of "Palestinian State" Yasser Arafat has maneuvered his people toward and is being cornered into implementing is a grotesque distortion of their aspirations and of what use to be meant by the term "Palestinian State."

"A Pen Bought And Sold" - A Saudi Poem Revisited - MER FlashBack
(October 21, 2001)
Change comes in the Middle East, as elsewhere, in complex ways. There is the regular daily news of course; and in the region especially it is inextricably intertwined with an ever-more-sophisticated and propagandistic journalistic establishment.

(October 24, 2001)
Both of the Georges are oh so full of themselves cocky -- just the personality type so many American's truly love. One is (to the amazement of many who wonder how in the world the U.S. chooses such persons to lead it) the President of the United States.

Massacres and Devastation Escalate Further In Palestine
(October 24, 2001)
The Palestinians are essentially defenseless with their backs up against the wall, the firing wall. Their "leadership" has been so corrupted and infiltrated that the Arafat regime has hardly any credibility with its own, not to mention anyone else.

Torture Now Coming to USA?
(October 22, 2001)
Adopting the tactics (as well as the goals) of the Israelis, and the methods long taught by the CIA in Latin America as well as the Middle East, the brave new world post 11 September is changing the face of the American homeland in ways nearly all Americans would have seriously resisted just a few long weeks ago.

Millions Likely To Die in Afghanistan U.N. Warns
(October 21, 2001)
As for Afghanistan, the American CIA worked behind the scenes to bring on the Soviet invasion of 1979, then engaged the Soviet Empire in a way that brought about the near-total devastation of Afghanistan and a huge uncounted death toll.

It's "New Imperialism" says leading British MP
(October 21, 2001)
Much pressure is building at the United Nations to not open itself to still more charges of being complicitous in "genocide", not to mention to do something to stop being seen as "an extension of the American State Department" (the actual private words of a senior U.N. official).

"Comply! Resistance Is Futile!"
(October 20, 2001)
British MP (Member of Parliament) George Galloway calls it the "new imperialism" (his article coming later today). On the whole the Anglo-British press is working up quite a frenzy (with notable exceptions like The Guardian and The Independent in the UK, sometimes The Nation in the U.S.).

The "Arafat Era" Collapsing or About To Be Reborn?
(October 20, 2001)
Yasser Arafat is losing both his grip on power (extended to him by the Israelis and the Americans for the past decade since the Gulf War) and his credibility (with his own people) at the same time.

The Coming Arab Crash
(October 19, 2001)
The west's most important friends in the Arab Middle East - Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah of Jordan, Mubarak of Egypt and the PLO's Yasser Arafat - are probably the world's most vulnerable political quartet.

Saudi Amb Bandar Badly Fails, Saudi Royals in Paralysis, US Relations in Doubt
(October 19, 2001)
Prince Bandar bin Sultan's 20+ year strategy has now substantially failed. Years ago, very much behind-the-scenes of course, the very controversial and in some circles much despised Saudi Ambassador in Washington began a relationship with the some of the most conservative and militant circles in Washington, very much including those associated with the powerful Israeli/Jewish lobby.

Worse Than Worthless Wartime "Promises"
(October 18, 2001)
The list of broken and disingenuous "promises" made to the Arabs by Western political leaders is something befitting a "Saturday Night Live" parody skit -- if only they would dare!

"New Era" Says Sharon Reacting In Character to "Gandhi" Assassination
(October 17, 2001)
He had called the Palestinians "lice" and "vermin" and "cancer", and he had urged their "transfer" or "extermination". Just Monday he has tendered his resignation as Minister of Tourism, insisting that Ariel Sharon was being too moderate and too compromising.

(October 17, 2001)
As for the British, what's going on in both Palestine and Kashmir, the two most likely potential nuclear flashpoints in our world today, can be traced back directly to what the British did in these areas when they were the "Empire"

(October 17, 2001)
For some time now Palestinians have been warning that because of Israel's assassination of Palestinian leaders, "crossing the red line" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they would respond.

Red Cross Bombed in Kabul Before Presidential Red Cross Visit in Washington
(October 16, 2001)
You gotta love the chutzpa of the Americans. Today the President went a few blocks from the White House to the Headquarters of the American Red Cross -- a little photo op designed to further enlist "the children of America" in his recently announced effort to help the children of Afghanistan. But just as President Bush was getting ready to do his Red Cross pictures reports came in from Afghanistan that the major Red Cross center in Kabul, complete with large Red Cross emblem on its roof, was destroyed by American bombs.

Saudi/U.S. "Meltdown"? And Neutralizing Al Jazeera With A Firm Embrace
(October 16, 2001)
While American and British officials rush to make one TV appearance after another with continual reassurances everything is going "as planned", that's not quite the reality of the situation as this article in today's Guardian makes quite evident.

What Can We Do About Terrorism? by Lt. Col Robert M. Bowman (ret)
(October 15, 2001)
"Mr. President, you did not tell the American people the truth about why we are the targets of terrorism. You said that we are the target because we stand for democracy, freedom, and human rights in the world. Baloney! We are the target of terrorists because we stand for dictatorship, bondage, and human exploitation in the world."

Pentagon Far More Confused and Uncertain Than Americans Realize
(October 15, 2001)
The Bush administration is growing increasingly alarmed by the direction of the military campaign in Afghanistan after a week of almost continuous bombing has failed to dislodge either Osama bin Laden or the Taliban leadership.

Al-Qaeda Weekend Statement
(October 15, 2001)
This isn't really about "secret messages". Anyone with a $300 satellite dish can watch the statements in full, in Arabic, on al Jazeera; and the text is widely available on the Internet, in this case from London and the BBC!

Hundreds Dead in Nigeria
(October 14, 2001)
Hundreds of people have been killed in religious clashes after anti-U.S. protests turned violent, sources have told CNN. The demonstrations against the U.S.-led missile strikes on Afghanistan began peacefully on Friday but spiralled into a killing spree during Saturday, CNN's Lagos bureau chief Jeff Koinange said.

akistan's Benazir Opens Campaign in Washington as Pakistan Trembles Anarchy
(October 14, 2001)
Benazir Bhutto came to Washington this week to open her campaign for a third term as Prime Minister of the world's second largest, and only nuclear armed, Muslim State -- her first two terms she was overthrown, political and financial corruption was rampant, and her arranged husband remains in a Karachi prison.

Iraq Likely To Be Next "Phase"
(October 14, 2001)
A powerful coalition of "hawkish" government officials, lobbyists (especially those connected with the Israelis and the arms corporations), conservative press publications and columnists, many of the national Jewish organizations, as well as millions of Christian fundamentalists associated with Pat Robertson and his daily TV "700 Club" program, is mobilized to make sure that "America's new war" does not end with Afghanistan and al-Qaeda.

Saudi Royals Bugged, Embarrassed, Unstable
(October 13, 2001)
The following information is about to come out in THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE on Monday and is being leaked in Washington this weekend to stir up interest and try to get publicity for the magazine and author on the Sunday talk shows tomorrow.

Attacks and Demonstrations Escalating in Arab and Muslim Countries
(October 13, 2001)
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in various cities in the Middle East to protest the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan. Many more thronged to mosques for Friday prayers throughout the region and heard anti-American sermons.

Western Commando Forces Getting Ready
(October 13, 2001)
This article in The Telegraph today is a good outline of what now seems likely to be immediately ahead in Afghanistan, pushed forward by weather considerations as well as by current expectations that American-sponsored key governments in Pakistan, Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, as well as the Arafat Regime, will all be able to weather the political storms with much expanded and mostly covert continual help from the western governments and intelligence services.

"War of the Worlds" by Mark Bruzonsky
(October 11, 2001)
In the case of America's new war, the full might of the USA is being mobilized not against the armies of other nation states, but against the fanatical descendants of a puritanical militant Islam whose calling has become relentless opposition to American hegemony and passionate assertion of their own quaintly medieval religious constructs.

Arafat Begs Israelis To Save Him
(October 10, 2001)
It's a most complicated political dance than ever at this historical crossroads. But bottom line Yasser Arafat and his regime have now, even more than before, thrown their future to the Israelis and the now omnipresent CIA...

Uri Avneri - Fronting for Arafat and for a Castrated "Palestinian State"
(October 10, 2001)
The Israeli writer and activist Uri Avneri is "on tour" in the USA on his way to Washington. It shouldn't come as a surprise that a few naive or on- the-take "peace groups" -- Jewish and otherwise -- have invited him to speak.

After Afghanistan, U.S. has Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine in its Sights
(October 10, 2001)
In this case there should be no one saying down the road that they didn't know what was being planned. The Americans have said publicly and in many different ways right from the start of this "new war" that it wasn't going to end with Osama bin Laden, with the Taliban government, or with Afghanistan.

The "Palestinian State" Charade
(October 9, 2001)
Most of the Arab regimes, including that of Yasser Arafat, have proved themselves so co-opted and so gullible over the years that you can't blame the Americans for continuing to try their little tricks and deceptions -- just look how well, at least from their point-of-view, such things have worked in the past..

Anthrax Terrorism Now Likely
(October 9, 2001)
Federal officials suspect foul play rather than an environmental source is at the root of two Florida anthrax cases that have left one man dead and hundreds of co-workers lining up for medical tests.

Biological Attack? Inept or Demonstration?
(October 9, 2001)
Is someone sending a message that they can do it, a kind of primative, and deadly, deterrence attempt to try to protect themselves? Might this be an "inept attack" as today's TIMES in London suggests in its headline? As the third case of Anthrax in Florida is reported this morning, something seems to be up as the following reports indicate.

Bush versus bin Laden - Syria Elected to Security Council
(October 8, 2001)
It's all quite amazing really, President George W. Bush versus Osama bin Laden. On the one hand you have the most powerful man in the world commanding the full might of not only the world's only superpower but a whole entourage of Western European allies, the new Russia, and to a considerable extent at least behind-the-scenes many Arab and Muslim "client regimes".

Arafat's Army Opens Fire On Its Own - More Anthrax in Florida?
(October 8, 2001)
The Palestinian leadership rushed to distance itself Monday from Osama bin Laden while its police forces opened fire on university students protesting the U.S.-led military strikes on Afghanistan.

FBI Knocked...He's Not Home But You Can Find Him at the White House
(October 8, 2001)
Now the world will become much more confusing and dangerous, and the opponents of the American Empire will obviously be forced even deeper underground -- both literally and figuratively -- becoming even more insular and isolated among themselves leading to who knows what kind of future blowback.

US Journalist Warns: "Do not try to change the government in Afghanistan!"
(October 7, 2001)
Late friday evening one of the leading American journalists who is an expert on the Middle East and Islamic affairs was asked a question on CNN to which she immediately briefly answered...and that was more was asked or answered.

"Our Friends are Killers, Crooks and Torturers"
(October 7, 2001)
Surely the British Prime Minister should know better than to try to simplify such a complex world we live in to that understandable by a third-grader. If not we have a little weekend reading Mr. Blair should be doing, starting in one of his own newspapers which we surely hope, especially now, he can find a few moments to read on a regular basis, The Independent.

History Corrected - U.S. Wanted Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
(October 6, 2001)
The world believes that there was an invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union on 24 December 1979 and then, in response, the U.S. and Muslim countries rallied to help Afghanistan repel the invaders. Wrong...just as so much of the widely accepted history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the actual realities of U.S. involvements in the Middle East are wrong because of the manipulation of history by various governments and intelligence agencies -- most especially the U.S. and Israel, the CIA and the Mossad.

(October 6, 2001)
"Could it be that the stygian anger that led to the attacks has its taproot not in American freedom and democracy, but in the US government's record of commitment and support to exactly the opposite things - to military and economic terrorism, insurgency, military dictatorship, religious bigotry and unimaginable genocide (outside America)?"

(October 5, 2001)
The government in Afghanistan, popularly known as The Taliban, has finally taken what could be a significant step. Just hours ago through its official representative in Pakistan the Afghan government has publicly offered to turn Osama bin Laden over...not to the United States, but to another Islamic country.

(October 5, 2001)
"The women in the audience -- academics, union members, mental health workers and advocates for female inmates, embraced her anti-American rhetoric, repeatedly interrupting her with cheers and standing ovations."

(October 5, 2001)
Now we know that a few years ago, when President Bill Clinton was meeting privately one-on-one with the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, the U.S. "hired" the agents of the infamous Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) to assassinate Osama bin Laden.

(October 3, 2001)
The United States and Britain yesterday called off military strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan at the last minute. Washington officials say today that a severe attack of last-minute cold feet by some key Arab members of the coalition caused President Bush to postpone the operation.

(October 3, 2001)
Osama bin Laden, arch nemesis of America today, is blowback from recent history -- the Gulf war, the permanent stationing of American forces in Arabia, and other American policies in the region, including the deceptive "peace process" fronting for Israel's brutal subjugation of the Palestinians.

(October 3, 2001)
The American Secretary of Defense is rushing to the Middle East, goal #1 to try one more time to "convince" the Saudis that Prince Sultan Airbase and its super-modern regional control center -- just completed in fact during the summer at a cost of many billions -- is needed for the new war.

(October 2, 2001)
"Drafted with a small coterie of loyal aides, mainly civilian political appointees at the Pentagon, the plans argue for open-ended war without constraint either of time or geography and potentially engulfing the entire Middle East and central Asia... The plans put before the President during the past few days involve expanding the war beyond Afghanistan to include similar incursions by special ops forces - followed by air strikes by the bombers they would guide - into Iraq, Syria and the Beqaa Valley area of Lebanon, where the Syrian-backed Hizbollah (Party of God) fighters that harass Israel are based."

(October 2, 2001)
Anyone with an ear tuned to Washington's politicians, lobbyists, and opinion molders can hear it quite loudly and clearly at this point. After taking down Osama bin Laden's al Queda network (said to be in some 50+ countries), after changing the government in Afghanistan, the American-led crusade (now more politely known by Colin Powell's term "campaign") will attempt to march on through the Middle East, next stop Baghdad.

(October 2, 2001)
It took them who intially talked of "crusade" nearly three weeks to figure out that all the "coalition building" wasn't going nearly as well as they keep saying in public and that doing something about all the Israeli oppression and "terrorism" against the essentially imprisoned Palestinian population would be a good idea in the post 11 September world and before the bombs start falling on Muslims here and there.

(October 1, 2001)
The situation is now so tense in Israel in dealing with the "Palestinian Authority" -- which it should be remembered the Israelis themselves created just a few years ago -- that Shimon Peres is getting more and more desperate.

(October 1, 2001)
The Palestinian opposition is usually very weak and confused. Had that not been the case for some time now Yasser Arafat would never have been able to do the things he has done for so long now, especially since the Gulf War; nor would Arafat have have been able to retain power these past few traumatic years, however weakened himself at this point.

(October 1, 2001)
Yes, it will be very interesting to see if and how Noam Chomsky answers the at first blush surprising attacks from Christopher Hitchens, who has now not only endorsed the new war but also at least parts of the "New World Order" that underpins it.

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