For the past few years, The United States has been rewarding Saudi Arabia, and its underlings, the Gulf States of Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Kuwait with sophisticated and powerful state of the art armaments, allegedly, to defend against the impending threat from its neighbor, the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to recent reports in both Washington Post, and The New York Times, the U.S is in the process of finalizing a $ 10 billion arms package which as the Defense Secretary, Chuck Hegel has put it, is a signal to Iran. This move, despite being geo-politically strategic in terms of disciplining Iran and other U.S adversaries in and around this very volatile region, is not only shortsighted, but could also produce serious consequences and thus compromise the status of United States as a World power. Unlike in World War II, and the Gulf War I, the US and its Western allies could find themselves in an intractable lurch never evidenced before. Also, this sort of approach is, to say the least, insensitive to sufferings of the victims of 9/11 tragedy given that 15 out of 19 terrorists involved in that heinous act against humanity were of Saudi origin. In this vein, the deliberations of the retired Senators Robert Graham (D-Florida) and Robert Kerry (D-Nebraska) of the post 9/11 Commission, be ignored. This Commission found substantial evidence, well beyond reasonable degree of doubt, the stark nefarious involvement of Saudi Government in the slaughter of thousands of innocent people. Henceforth, this entire strategy of arming the Saudi kings and the Sheiks of Gulf states can backfire on the US and the Western world, unless all aspects impacted by this policy are examined in light of the overall international political environment.
Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian monarchy for the past 90 years as well as its Gulf State allies, despite their immense oil and gas wealth, happens to possess a rather small population base that has gotten even more accustomed to the pleasures of modern day luxuries since the discovery of these God given natural resources. Menial tasks such as driving and house- keeping chores are performed by manpower brought in from economically depressed countries such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh. Almost all professions relating to the fields of Engineering, Medicine, Finance and Accounting, Law as well as Information Technology are predominantly conducted by the foreign labor that in most of these states constitutes almost 80% of their respective population. Armed forces operating in these recipients of highly sophisticated U.S. armaments are not only rag-tag but are embarrassingly inept and incompetent, ultimately relying on mercenaries from other countries and possibility of evil elements from Al-Qaida, Jabhat al-Nusra, Taliban, and other extremist groups sneaking in this mix and creating the danger never seen before, is very high. This unfortunate and disastrous scenario has been repeatedly played in Afghanistan, Libya, and to some extent in Iraq, where U.S. and NATO forces were attacked by the allied troops belonging to those very nations that they were attempting to defend.
Moral perspective, although not very high on the agenda of the very pragmatic western policy makers, is another front where the Western powers are either quite poorly informed or are highly gullible to, in jumping to the conclusions that are not reviewed and researched because they are seen through rosy prisms and not ugly realities on the ground… These so-called Islamic nations namely Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt as well as the Gulf states have quite cunningly used the Iran bogey in influencing the psyche of the Western powers that ” Iran is a rogue state and is worse than a Pariahs nation”, so are its entire 80 million citizens, and so is the entire universe populated with the rest of 220 million Shia Muslims in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia uses these very western armaments to suppress its Shia minorities in its eastern provinces, tortures and imprisons them on a large scale on a daily basis, simply because they are Shia. And if that is not enough, joined by its allies in the Gulf States, it uses the same armaments and troops to enable the cruel and oppressive regime in Bahrain in annihilating the Shias, who hold a majority in that tiny state. According to the well documented reports, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other members of U.A.E have been systematically deporting workers who hail from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan just because they happen to belong to the Shia faith. The proverbial fix, however, is on and remains in full force as far as the defamation, discrimination and the persecution of Shia Muslims is concerned.
The fears pertaining to the dismemberment and disintegration of these banana Republics of the Arabian Peninsula are repeatedly expressed by the political pundits as well by the experts and scholars of the time, and these fears are quite real because that is how the law of nature works. Empires and civilizations, throughout the course of human history, much larger and wealthier, better equipped and more refined than the one identified in this paper, have, for one reason or another, ended in the dustbins of history. Western powers, in particular must be very cognizant of that impending reality and its foreign policies, its formulation as well as its execution, should not be based on a knee-jerk reaction that since China, another major power began chocking their throats or for that matter, Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea with their flirtations with nuclear technology can instantly torch this entire planet. If this happens to be the basis of appeasing the Arabs and justification for arming these notorious nomads, then we are in for bigger catastrophe than we had bargained for. The politics as well as the politics of policy making must be not only pragmatic but also noble and fair. The alternatives are numerous and the horizons are unlimited. Monarchies and Fiefs of the Middle East tend to have a finite shelf life, whereas modern democracies, such as the ones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (Already a nuclear power), even though in their infancy, have a much better chance of a sustained survival and more deserving of meaningful and productive empowerment by the West. These three nations have a better potential and promise to carry out a NATO like presence in a geography where true Pan-Islamism and not Pan Arabism is the order of the day. We cannot just empower a small contingent of a few sycophant nations because we think it is going to do us a whole lot of good in the short run. We have to be sure that these States, with their hardcore Wahhabi doctrine and Salafi mind-set, out to serve no one but their own interest, be really around when the chips of modern day warfare are down, and possibly a World War III looms around us? Would all the eggs in one basket then all crack at the same time?
By Agha (Shaukat) Jafri