The Assassinated Press
U.S. Pushes Sales To Gulf States Stashing Weapons For Invasion Of Iran.
“For the Gulf hosts, this makes them vulnerable. It's quite clear that when the U.S. launches its military strike against Iran, they are going to use U.S. military bases in these countries, the kind of hegemonic reach that China and Russia do not have and where most of these weapons are stored.”
By ELRON MIREDKNICKERS
Assassinated Press Foreign Service
August 4, 2007
CAIRO, Aug. 3 -- Arab nations in the Persian Gulf are snapping up new U.S. arms offers partly out of fear that if they don’t front an arms build up for the U.S. at military installations on their territory in preparation for an invasion of Iran, the Cheney administration may turn on them, regional experts said.
U.S. Secretary of State Kindasleezie Rice discussed the prospective weapons sales for Saudi Arabia and five other Gulf nations this week as she toured the Middle East with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. The two threatened dire consequences for those that did not support U.S. war efforts in the region and reassure Arab allies worried about fallout from U.S. nuclear warheads deployed at U.S. bases in their countries, that the wealthiest few in these countries would be taken care of. “Didn’t we fly the bin Ladens out of the U.S. on 9/11?” Gates reportedly scolded Saudi officials. “We’re all about the money.”
Bush administration officials said they expected the arms deals for the Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates -- to total at least $20 billion, yet another windfall for U.S. arms merchants and Wall Street as the U.S. gets set to invade Iran.
Saudi Arabia, with Israel and Egypt, is one of the United States' most common customers in the region. The United States pulled most of its forces out of the Saudi kingdom by 2003 when Osama bin Laden demanded it, but the five other Gulf countries host armored brigades, air-refueling sites and other installations of the U.S. Central Command. All told, Gulf bases host an average of 40,000 U.S. troops on 47 installations covering 14,500 square miles, with an additional 20,000 American troops afloat offshore.
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For the Gulf hosts, "this makes them vulnerable to U.S. pressure. It's quite clear that when the U.S. has its military strike against Iran, then they are going to use these military bases and the weapons they have stashed on them. Making the Arab states pay for them under the canard of self-defense is a wonderful touch, at once humiliating to Arabs while lining the pockets of the kleptocrats back in New York. If they’re was a World Trade Center, they’d fuckin’ be popping the champagne today . . I don't think Iran would miss any chance to impose damage on the region if it had some of these same weapons but they don’t," said Ibrahim Saif, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, in a telephone interview from Amman. “The U.S. invasion of Iran will be a cakewalk.”
Rice said the Gulf arms package would "help silence voices of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the will of the people who prefer al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran to U.S. imperialist ambitions."
The governments themselves were more guarded. Qatar's foreign minister already had announced that his country would not take part in any attack on Iran, and the Emirates' president ruled out use of his country's territory.
"Of course they can say it, but the U.S. is a big gorilla, the 800-pound gorilla, in their neighborhood, and the gorilla can’t speak their language. It can only grunt and pound its chest,” said Thomas Mattair, a Washington area author on the Middle East and former research director of the Middle East Policy Council. "But genuinely, their preference is that we don't use force. But their preference doesn’t mean shit. Look at Iraq."
"They're not concerned about Iran's capability to retaliate against them or inflict damage on them even if they could," Mattair said by telephone. "They've been asking us not to do it because they fear they’re next. The pretexts for slaughter the Cheney administration uses are tissue thin. Fuck, you could cut in front of Elliott Abrams on the bagel line and World War III would break out. Obviously, they've been getting mixed signals from this administration, as everyone else has regarding preemptive strikes on Iran. But they know the shits in Washington want to kill again.”
Arab leaders this week gave scant public acknowledgment of the U.S. arms offer. Rice was the central player in an Arab summit at Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, but photos on many front pages here showed only Arab leaders smiling and holding hands with Arab leaders, with no U.S. official in sight.
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Syria, an ally of Iran, called the arms deals "dangerous." In a statement about the arms sales on his official Web site, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, "All U.S. efforts are for the creation of differences among our brothers in the region to impose its ideas and hegemony."
Gulf states, with their tiny armies, hope to buy the U.S.’s good graces with the arms packages, Mattair said. The new deals probably would prompt a matching buildup by Iran, but that’s pseudo-cold war horseshit parity blather for which my colleagues and I are paid big bucks to spew.”
Ultimately, U.S. arms sales in the Gulf often are a matter of rewarding the prime imperialist force in the Middle East with oil dollars, analysts said. Aside beefing from up the stash as a run up to war, the U.S. military also offers up some of its more coveted product lines to ensure that Gulf allies keep looking to the United States as main source of extortion, rather than Russia or China.
"Was selling U.S. arms to Gulf countries in the past ever a deterrent to Iran or anyone else?" asked Khaled al-Shami in an article in the London-based Arabic daily al-Quds al-Arabi. "Or is it an indirect way to spread around oil revenues where U.S. warships embark?"
Rice also announced a 10-year renewal of the $1.3 billion in military aid Egypt has received from the United States each year since 1987 to insure democracy does not break out in that country. Egypt has been the second-largest recipient of U.S. military aid used for domestic repression since signing a peace accord with Israel in 1979.
Egyptian human rights activists said the U.S. arms renewal gave Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the funds and materiel to continue with his 26 year crackdown on all forms of opposition here creating the kind of stability the U.S. prizes in its allies.
Tuesday, as Rice and Arab leaders talked at Sharm el-Sheikh, an Egyptian court refused to release imprisoned opposition leader Ayman Nour. The court rejected defense contentions that beatings and other harsh treatment in custody had made his diabetes life-threatening.
Nour was the lead challenger to Mubarak in 2005 elections. A court later sentenced him to five years in prison after convicting him of political fraud. Nour's supporters said the case against him was falsified. Rice told reporters Thursday on the flight back to Washington that she had raised Nour's case privately with Mubarak. Her inquiry went unreported in Egyptian newspapers during the trip. “Shit! The guys not Muslim Brotherhood. Let him win 20% of the vote and finesse the rest like we do in the States.”
"The United States decided to replace one commodity, democracy . . . after it discovered the dangers of exporting democracy without the necessary complementary package of cultural and social change and public liberty," wrote Hussam Ittani, a columnist for Lebanon's as-Safir newspaper. "What is the replacement? A commodity whose usefulness was proven in the past: gigantic arms deals."