When it is a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.
At the gates of Riyadh stands the massive silhouette of the research center dedicated to Wahhabism, a branch of Islam considered inflexible, intolerant and immutable. The architecture of the center reflects this rigor, the austerity of the imposing limestone blocks of the facades being broken only by glass footbridges. In this ultraconservative country, mixing is forbidden, the woman has no right to drive, cinemas and the consumption of alcohol are banned.
Full of hypocrisy, clichés and absurdities, President Donald Trump’s speech on Sunday at an assembly of monarchs and despots in Saudi Arabia set out a program of escalating American militarism throughout the Middle East and a march towards war in particular with Iran. Hailed by the servile American media as a “presidential” speech, which would overshadow the crises and fractional struggles that are bogging down the government for the time being, the speech must have been written by Stephen Miller, the right-wing ideologist attributing the Trump Executive Order prohibiting entry into the United States of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Much of Trump’s half-hour speech echoed Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo eight years before. The two presidents declared their desire to relaunch American relations with the Middle East while presenting themselves in an absurd manner as the leaders of a pacifist nation who would only seek to do good to the region and propose to lead a united movement to fight “violent extremism.”
Like Obama before him, Trump had no interest in examining exactly who introduced Al-Qaeda and similar forces because the historical path leads directly to the CIA in Afghanistan and the longstanding support of US imperialism to right-wing Islamist organizations and terrorist groups as a counterweight to socialist influence and left-wing nationalists in the Arab and Islamic world. In common, the United States and Saudi Arabia continue to finance and arm these forces in their struggle for regime change in Syria. In President Obama’s official statement regarding King Abdullah’s death, he alluded to this alliance, remarking that one of King Abdullah’s greatest beliefs was in “the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security.” Both speeches were enamelled with pompous tributes to Islamic culture. Trump noted in particular how impressed he was by the “splendor” of Saudi Arabia and the “grandeur” of the palace in which the so-called American Islamic Arab Summit was held. What distinguishes these two speeches are the different changes in Washington’s strategy. As Obama sought to repair the damage inflicted by the Bush administration’s criminal war in Iraq by showing a new face of US imperialism, Trump travelled to Saudi Arabia to highlight his government’s break with its policies predecessor of seeking a rapprochement with Iran based on the 2015 nuclear agreement.
“Above all, America is seeking peace– not war,” proclaimed Trump, which is the most blatant of the many lies in this brief speech. The reality is that the American wars in the region have killed millions of people over the last decade and a half.
This was made evident by the main agreements between Trump and the Saudi monarchy, which included a $110 billion arms market with an option for $350 billion in additional weapons over the next 10 years.
The arms agreement “supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ex-CEO of ExxonMobil, in Riyadh. In view of the harmful influence of Iran and the Iranian threats that exist on the borders of Saudi Arabia on all sides.”
In his speech, Trump described Iran as the main sponsoring state of terrorism, accusing Tehran of providing terrorists with “a safe haven, financial support and the social situation necessary for recruitment,” and feeding “the fires of Sectarianism conflict and terror,” accusations that could be rightly attributed to his Saudi hosts.
He went on to call “all nations of conscience” to “isolate Iran, deprive it of funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranians will have the right government they deserve”. The fact that he was speaking in Saudi Arabia, an absolute repressive monarchy, just two days after more than 70 per cent of Iranian voters participated in an eagerly debated election, did nothing to blunt the call from Trump for a regime change.
The nearly genocidal Saudi war has killed some 12,000 Yemenis while destroying basic infrastructure in the poorest country in the Arab world, pushing more than 7 million people to the brink of famine and causing a cholera epidemic that threatens a massive number of deaths. In March, US Defense Secretary James Mad Dog Mattis issued a memorandum calling for increased US support for this criminal war, in which the Pentagon is already providing intelligence and logistical support to the bombing campaign of the Saudis. Part of the sale of arms signed by Trump involves sending precision guided munitions that had been stopped in a very limited gesture of disapproval of Saudi Arabia’s tactics in Yemen by the Obama administration. Obama had also concluded arms deals for more than $100 billion with Riyadh. The new contract also includes tanks, artillery, helicopters and other weapons that can be directly used in the massacre in Yemen. In addition to his speech and the signing of the arms and investment market, Trump participated in a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the coalition of the Gulf oil monarchies led by Saudis.
America vocalizes the need to “combat radical ideology” while holding hands with one of the least secular countries, home to such radical ideology.