Is Everyone In Washington Owned By the Saudis or the Jews?

Stop Taking Saudi Money, Washington

new york observer

Petro-dollars from superrich Gulf States infect think tanks, lobbyists, academics—and basic American principles

Former senator Norm Coleman, head of an influential super-PAC, is now lobbying for Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

It’s becoming increasingly apparent some new Koch Brothers are on the loose in Washington, lavishing money on liberals and conservatives alike. Like the Brothers K, they got rich on filthy fossil fuel revenues, and are using their booty to buy up think tanks, lobbyists and the best law firms. For good measure, they’re tossing some of the nation’s top liberal institutions into their shopping carts, too.

I refer here to our nominal allies, the medieval, superrich Gulf States. Thanks to investigative journalists at The New York Times and the Nation, who recently combed through reams of public disclosure documents, we now know that the Saudis, UAE and Qatar have been flooding the nation’s capital with greenbacks.

The Nation’s Lee Fang reported last week that one of the takers is Minnesota’s ex-senator Norm Coleman, who has signed on as a lobbyist for the Saudis. This is ominous because Mr. Coleman chairs two Republican super PACs in D.C., the American Action Network and Congressional Leadership Fund, which funnel millions to Republican candidates. In 2012, Roll Call put him “at the center of GOP fundraising, campaign strategy and policy from the top of the ticket on down” and this year AAN is doling out millions to a new crop of aspiring pols.

The former senator is now taking money from a nation that arguably has done more than any other to foment fundamentalist Islam and whose religious leaders and deep-pocketed sheiks continue to give moral and financial support to jihadis as they drag us into another Middle Eastern war.


It took Wikileaks to reveal the depth of official American concern over the amount of dough the Saudis spend on fomenting terrorists.


Mr. Coleman is not alone. The Times reported that some of the major think tanks are practically partially owned subsidiaries of the petro-states. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a respected policy and security think tank, took more than $1 million to help build new headquarters near the White House. Brookings accepted a four-year, $14.8 million donation from that bastion of liberal thought and tolerance, Qatar. There’s a Brookings affiliate in Doha and a project in the works “on United States relations with the Islamic world.”

Qatar, home to Arab media giant Al Jazeera, was the first Gulf nation to take the giant leap forward in 1999 of allowing women to vote, but it treats hundreds of thousands of migrant workers like forced labor, according to Human Rights Watch. Worse, it is home to some of the big private fund-raisers for Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, and Qatar itself “has provided at least some form of assistance—whether sanctuary, media, money or weapons—to the Taliban of Afghanistan, Hamas of Gaza, rebels from Syria, militias in Libya and allies of the Muslim Brotherhood across the region,” according to the Times.

Three of the Western world’s premier cultural institutions—New York University, the Guggenheim and the Louvre—are in various stages of setting up shop in Abu Dhabi. When I wrote about this last year, hundreds of NYU faculty members had volunteered to work in Abu Dhabi. Why not? What pedagogue could resist the lure of fat bonuses—in some cases the equivalent of two-thirds of a year’s salary—along with first-class airfare for the family and free private school for the kids?

***

These think tanks and liberal establishments have a plausible excuse at the ready. The idea is that a Brookings or a NYU planted in the heart of these regressive societies is a kind of good virus, infecting them with enlightenment and tolerance.

But the influence works both ways. When liberal institutions hook up with regressive rich petro-states, they can start kissing their enlightened ideals good bye. Saleem Ali, a former visiting fellow at Brookings Doha, said he’d been told explicitly during his job interview that he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government in his papers.

“If a member of Congress is using the Brookings reports, they should be aware—they are not getting the full story. They may not be getting a false story, but they are not getting the full story,” Mr. Ali told the Times.

And which of Mr. Coleman’s Republican candidates and PAC beneficiaries, if elected to Congress, will ask questions about Saudi Arabia’s dark side after getting a ride to D.C. on the magic carpet of its petro-dollars?

It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia has in the past seen fit to blow billions exporting the fundamentalist Islam that committed 9-11 and created ISIS and which promises to be the civilized world’s bête noir for decades to come. Staggering amounts have been spent on one of the greatest global PR campaigns in history. Between 1975 and 1987, the Saudis spent $48 billion—$4 billion per year—on “overseas development aid.” By the end of 2002, that number had hit over $70 billion. In comparison, Moscow spent $1 billion per year during the peak of its power in the Cold War.


The sleek D.C. offices where the Saudis buy their influence is a world away from the gore and beheadings. Their often blonde representatives speak with British accents and wear discreet gold jewelry, status bags and bespoke suits.


What they bought with that money was control of Islam. One example should suffice: in Nigeria, in 1999, the Saudis provided the governor of the first state to institute sharia law with hundreds of motorbikes, to be used by men to sexually segregate taxis. The Saudi sheiks were “delighted” at how sharia was spreading in Nigeria. How much of a leap is it to imagine that some of these influencers would give more than extremist moral instruction and financial encouragement to Boko Haram, whose murderous members now roar into towns they plan to burn down—on motorbikes?

Among American progressives, it is more politically acceptable to call out the Koch brothers for spewing their petro-dollars around to buy influence in American politics than it is to analyze how the Gulf petro-powers that finance regressive and even murderous movements around the world, can buy influence in D.C.

It took Wikileaks to reveal the depth of official American concern over the amount of dough the Saudis spend on fomenting terrorists, or to learn that the American consulate in Pakistan reported that the Gulf states had spent $100 million a year on extremist madrassas. In 2010, according to Wikileaked cables, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Such is the power of the ties that bind us to these regressive nations that you didn’t hear Madame Secretary utter those fightin’ words in public. They had to be leaked by Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

The sleek D.C. offices where the Saudis buy their influence is a world away from the gore and beheadings. Their often blonde representatives speak with British accents and wear discreet gold jewelry, status bags and bespoke suits. But Nation writer Mr. Fang wrote that Mr. Coleman “appears to be the first leader of a significant super PAC to simultaneously lobby for a foreign government.”

By taking on Saudia Arabia, Mr. Coleman, and the other D.C. entities on the petro-payroll exhibit the same short-term-gains mentality that motivates politicians who take Koch money. Mr. Coleman, a leading Jewish Republican, apparently believes Saudi Arabia is a powerful ally against Iran, and perhaps he imagines he is “helping Israel.” In the long-term, he is opening doors in D.C. to the very entity that promotes the most virulent, lethal belief system in the world, one arguably even more dangerous to the interests of the Unites states than Iran ever was.

Are some of us so in love with ease and luxury that we will trade off principles for a first-class ticket on Emirates Air and a high-six or seven figure salary and all that it buys for families in Washington these days? What are we fighting for when our liberal institutions and policy-influencers will overlook medieval traditions regarding women, free speech and human rights for a paycheck?

These are countries in which foreign embassy basements are packed with stateless female domestics—slaves who have escaped their masters and who have no legal rights; where women are legally children their entire lives; where mullahs preach hatred of “infidels” and Jews every Friday and nobody within 1,000 miles dares reject it because if they do they are clapped in jail, without trial, tortured or gruesomely silenced forever by fanatics.

As a nation, we may be strapped for cash, the good times may indeed have come to an end, but some things we believe in should not have a price. To take their money is as wrong as the billions Saudi Arabia spent on “aid” to madrassas—not to educate but to infect generations of poor Muslim boys with an abiding love for dead martyrs.

Nusra’s Golani Claims Still Fighting ISIS, Despite Media Lies Otherwise

[SEE:  ISIS+Al-Nusra Front? Islamists reportedly join forces, new threat against West issued ]

Al-Nusra Leader Warns Syria Rebels Against Siding With West

lseLogo14
Mon, 29th Sep 2014 06:37
Cairo (Alliance News) – The leader of an al-Qaeda affiliate targeted in US airstrikes in Syria Sunday warned other rebel groups not to side with Western countries.

“I advise and warn the sincere fighting groups on the ground: do not allow the West and America to exploit the injustice that the Islamic State has done to you,” Abu Mohammed al-Jaulani, head of the al-Nusra Front, said in an audio message released on jihadist websites.

“Do not let that injustice lead any of you to follow the West or participate in its alliance of evil,” al-Jaulani said, saying that the goal of the US was to enlist Syrian rebels in a “secularist project” or bring about a settlement with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Nusra was hit by US airstrikes Tuesday, the same day the US and allies launched raids against the Islamic State group which split from al-Qaeda last year and has seized swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

The US Congress has also authorized the equipping and training of moderate Syrian rebel groups who are to fight Islamic State militants on the ground.

But even some moderate rebel groups have reacted angrily to the strikes against al-Nusra, asking why they are not receiving more military aid and arguing that regime forces should also be targeted.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said al-Jaulani’s group lost 57 fighters in the raids. The US said it was targeting a network of al-Qaeda veterans who were preparing overseas attacks.

Al-Jaulani said al-Nusra’s fight against the Syrian regime would be weakened by the strikes but it would not give up.

But his message gave no hint of any reconciliation with the Islamic State, which has battled other rebels since the beginning of the year as it seeks to impose its sole authority in areas outside government control.

Instead, he described it as having given the West a “justification” for intervention in Syria.

US President Barack Obama acknowledged in an interview with US broadcaster CBS that the US had underestimated the rise of the Islamic State group.

Obama blamed instability in Syria for giving extremists space to thrive. In an interview with the CBS programme 60 Minutes, he said his director of national intelligence already had acknowledged that US intelligence underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.

He also said the US had overestimated the ability of the Iraqi military to fend off Islamic State militants.

“During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you had huge swathes of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said.

The group has been able to attract foreign fighters from Europe, the US, Australia and parts of the Muslim world, converging on Syria, he said.

“And so this became ground zero for jihadists around the world,” he said, adding that recruitment efforts have been aided by a “very savvy” social media campaign.

He also blamed remnants of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s military for lending some “traditional military capacity” to the terrorist group.

“That’s why it’s so important for us to recognize part of our solution here is gonna be military,” he said.

The US is assisting Iraq in “a very real battle on their soil,” Obama said.

“This is not America against ISIL,” he said, describing it instead as America “assisting” to make sure that the Iraqis can “take care of their business.”

He again described the Islamic State as a “cancer” in the Muslim world.

“The Iraqis have to be willing to fight,” he said. “Shia, Sunnis and Kurds, alongside each other against this cancer.”

Politically, Iraq, Syria and other countries have to learn tolerance. They must “think about what political accommodation means,” he said, adding it’s “not something that will happen overnight.”

The current effort to fight the Islamic State group is focused on destroying their command and control, weapons and fuel and cutting off their financing the flow of foreign fighters.

But the president said a political solution is necessary for lasting peace.

Copyright dpa
Alliance News

Iran As New Policeman for World Hegemon–Council On Foreign Relations CFR

Security in the Persian Gulf

foreign affairs  COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS , CFR

Who should maintain the future security of the Persian Gulf? This question looms large in the minds of policymakers in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and, of course, the Persian Gulf states. The fact that this question is raised with a deep sense of urgency in numerous capitals of the world indicates the extent to which Iran was perceived as having ensured Gulf security before the outbreak of its recent revolution. Although American rhetoric spoke of pursuing a “twin-pillar policy,” the United States itself actually relied primarily on Iran to perform the role of the “policeman” for the Gulf region.

Prior to the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, the perception of Iran as the main protector of Gulf security was reinforced by the American reluctance to fill the power vacuum left by Britain as a result of its historic decision to withdraw forces in 1971 from the area “east of Suez,” including the Persian Gulf. As the most populous and the strongest military power in the area and as the main country straddling the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which some 57 percent of world oil trade must pass to world markets, Iran was willing to undertake the burden of responsibility for Gulf security-the immediate problem then being the creation of a federation of the Trucial and other small states near the entrance to the Gulf.

When Saudi Arabia emerged as a world financial power after the 1973 war, it seemed for a time to be regarded as the “linchpin” of American policy in the Persian Gulf. The Carter Administration in particular seemed to have some preference for the financial power of Saudi Arabia as contrasted with the military power of Iran. In fact, however, the idea died on the vine. Saudi Arabia lacked the population and military power necessary for playing a major security role in the Gulf region, and in any case Riyadh was unwilling to undertake such a role.

But Saudi Arabia was willing, especially after the assassination of King Faisal in 1975, to use its monetary prowess in support of a more active diplomacy, as a means of neutralizing the influence of such “radical” states as South Yemen and Iraq and bolstering the governments of such “moderate” states as Oman, North Yemen and Egypt. Although Saudi dollar diplomacy was extended to states located outside as well as within the Persian Gulf, it complemented the Iranian security role in the Gulf area. Saudi Arabia’s increasingly active diplomacy, added to Iran’s security policy, poured concrete meaning into the hitherto empty rhetoric of an American “twin-pillar policy.”

Plainly, Iran will no longer act in any sense as a pillar of American policy in the Persian Gulf. Even before the short-lived government of Dr. Bakhtiar was formed, he told the United States that a future government in Iran would abandon Iran’s “policeman” role and would confine its security concerns to the defense of the country’s national boundaries. Now, with the Khomeini forces precariously allied with the Bazargan government, this policy seems nailed down. In response, Washington circles appeared to be weighing two possible alternatives. One was to search for a new “second pillar,” on the assumption that Saudi Arabia would now be willing to play some Gulf-wide security role, but could not do so alone even if it were willing, because of its small population and still low levels of military and underlying economic strength. On this view, despite its geographic distance from the Persian Gulf proper, Egypt loomed as a desirable candidate partly because it shares the Saudi concerns with the perceived Soviet and communist threats to the region around the Red Sea.

The other initial idea about Gulf security was a spin-off from a larger conception of American security which called for reliance on “regional influentials,” to borrow the phrase of the National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. India would presumably qualify as such a regional power center in the Indian Ocean with its twin arms of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.

Most recently, however, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown’s visit to the Middle East in February 1979 has suggested a new American security formula in the Middle East that may be broader than either of these. Clearly, it is a formula for a more forward American policy, overturning the previous more distant approach of the Carter as well as Nixon and Ford Administrations toward the Persian Gulf. His pronouncements were intended particularly to assuage Saudi anxieties that had been intensified largely by the perceived American failure to support the Shah’s regime, in the context of a background of perceived Soviet and communist gains in Afghanistan and especially in the Horn of Africa. But they also went further than ever before in warning the Soviet Union that the United States would not tolerate any future threat to vital American interests in the region either as a result of overt Soviet incursions or Soviet-supported communist coups in the Gulf states, and in signaling to Moscow that the United States is committed to a growing military and economic relationship with “pro-Western” governments of the Middle East toward the same end.

Apparently, what is now envisaged would include a sharp increase of American military supplies and economic aid to “pro-Western” governments outside the Gulf as well as within it, including Saudi Arabia, North Yemen, the Sudan, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Saudi Arabia would be expected under the new formula to play a more prominent military and economic role in the small states of the lower Persian Gulf. Significantly, the new formula would also include the expansion of a “quick-strike force” of American paratroopers and marines (an idea first broached by Secretary Brown a year earlier) to be used in case of a request for help by Saudi Arabia or other oil-producing Gulf states threatened with the turmoil of a Soviet-supported coup. Moreover, it would possibly involve the construction of more port facilities for major American ships in the Indian Ocean naval base of Diego Garcia. However, President Carter stated at the end of February that American bases in the Middle East itself are not envisioned.

II

This new American commitment to the future security of the Persian Gulf has clear advantages and disadvantages. If in fact it clarifies the intention and resolve to defend vital American interests in the Persian Gulf, it may well reduce the chances of Soviet miscalculation and simultaneously assure American friends and allies of the U.S. commitment to their independence.

One need not be a doctrinaire student of geopolitics to realize, in the light of actual Soviet behavior, that ever since the end of World War II Moscow has sought to expand its power and influence-at the expense of the West in general and the United States in particular-in a widening circle of regional states lying south of Soviet borders. The Soviet thrust, first into the Northern Tier, and then into the Eastern Mediterranean, has since 1968 been extended into the Indian Ocean-Persian Gulf area. Its principal instruments have included the encouragement of nationalization of Western oil companies and the acquisition of oil and gas privileges for the Soviet Union, propaganda attacks on the CENTO alliance and American military sales, transfer of Soviet arms, support for national liberation movements, massive infusion of Soviet and Cuban arms supplies and military personnel, encouragement of communist participation in national-front governments and support for communist coups. Now the potential for Soviet and communist pressure on the states located in and around the Persian Gulf has increased substantially as a consequence of the Iranian revolution. Anti-American sentiments have been fomented by Soviet propaganda, and there are emerging signs of Soviet influence on militant leftist elements in Iran.

The other great advantage of the emerging American security posture is the apparent reversal of the decade-old reliance of the United States on one or two local powers to maintain regional security. The indiscriminate sale of billions of dollars worth of arms to the Shah’s regime had been justified as a way to avoid the commitment of American troops to the defense of the strategic Persian Gulf. To be sure, the Shah’s own preoccupation with military strength underpinned his enormous purchases of sophisticated military equipment, but U.S. eagerness to comply with Iranian requests during the Nixon Administration paved the way for the massive transfer of arms once the explosion of oil revenues made this financially possible for Iran and economically profitable for the United States. However one evaluates the diverse causes of the Iranian revolution, there is little doubt that these unrestrained arms transactions contributed to its outbreak. They not only diverted badly needed funds from social and economic projects, but also placed unprecedented burdens on Iranian skilled manpower resources and economic and communication infrastructures.

And the new American commitment to the economic and military strength of half a dozen states (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and secondarily North Yemen and the Sudan) seems a healthy corrective to the previous temptation to treat Saudi Arabia as the “linchpin” of American policy in the whole Gulf area.

There are, however, several disadvantages in the nascent American security posture. One is the potential polarization of the Middle East into camps of “pro-Western” and other nations. Secretary Brown’s new prescription would seem to suffer potentially from all the previous shortcomings of American security policy in the Middle East, especially since the creation of the Baghdad Pact (subsequently the Central Treaty Organization or CENTO). His commitment to the security of the “pro-Western” regimes in the Middle East, like Secretary Dulles’ commitment to the Northern Tier states in the 1950s, may be portrayed as a new American effort for the “enslavement” of Middle Eastern governments. And his planned American “quick-strike force” that would come, on request, to the aid of any government threatened by a Soviet-supported coup smacks of the ill-fated Eisenhower Doctrine that allowed the United States to go to the aid, also on request, of any pro-Western government threatened by “international communism.” That doctrine was invoked by a Middle Eastern government only in one instance, the Lebanese crisis of 1958, and in hindsight the cost of its invocation far exceeded the actual benefit. Neither the Eisenhower Administration nor the Chamoun government gained in the long or even the medium term from American intervention in that earlier Lebanese civil war. It simultaneously increased popular resentment against the United States and deepened ancient communal divisions within Lebanese society.

A second potential disadvantage is the intensification of arms transfers to the Middle East. No aspect of past American security policy in the Middle East has been subjected to greater criticism. Whatever the short-term financial benefits of unrestrained arms sales, on balance indiscriminate arms supplies can contribute more to destabilization than stabilization of the region. This apparent new American commitment to a sharp increase in arms supplies also raises serious questions about President Carter’s often repeated, but still unfulfilled, goal of limiting the sale of arms worldwide.

A third shortcoming of the new American security formula is the possibility that it may hobble efforts to achieve security in the Persian Gulf, by linking them to the extremely difficult Arab-Israeli peacemaking process. These efforts aim at two quite different objectives: to align the “pro-Western” Gulf regimes with the United States; and to break the deadlock on peace negotiations. The increased American security commitment to Israel as well as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia is intended to attain both objectives. However, as a result of this coupling, the more easily attainable objective of future security in the Persian Gulf will almost certainly be obstructed by the intractable Arab-Israeli conflict.

However, the greatest shortcoming of the new American security scheme is that it addresses threats to Gulf security that may be more hypothetical than potential. The United States has made it emphatically clear, and rightly so, that the American commitment is intended for defense against “external threats.” This appears to exclude threats emanating from within the region as well as internal coups-unless either is supported by the Soviet Union. As a consequence, two of the more likely sources of instability and conflict in the Persian Gulf are not covered.

First, let us take domestic crises. If the Iranian revolution has taught us nothing else, it should have made clear that the sources of domestic conflict and upheaval in the Persian Gulf societies are more pressing than hitherto anticipated. Unlike the Dhofari rebellion in Oman that received ample Soviet and communist support both directly and indirectly, the Iranian opposition was transformed into a full-scale and bloody revolution within a year primarily as a result of misguided and disastrously executed economic, social and political decisions of the indigenous elite. As early as 1972, and repeatedly thereafter, I warned that international capability was no true substitute for internal political stability in Iran no matter how actively it tried to project its power abroad in the pursuit of its national objectives.1 Without any significant outside aid, thousands of strikers and millions of street demonstrators finally brought down with their bare hands one of the world’s best-equipped military forces. It is not likely that Saudi Arabia, for example, will face the challenge of internal communism; it hardly has a native proletariat. But there is ample reason to envisage the outbreak of a genuine indigenous internal convulsion to which the present American security scheme would be irrelevant.

Second, this scheme would not bear directly on the containment of regional conflicts. The Persian Gulf region is as rich in potential conflicts as in oil, although, as we shall see, the Gulf states have had a remarkable record of peaceful settlement of their disputes. The spillover of conflicts from the more conflict-prone adjacent areas into the Gulf region proper is also a major problem. The Arab-Israeli war of October 1973, the Arab oil embargo and the explosion of oil prices have been followed by the growth of unprecedented social and economic ties between the Gulf states proper and other Middle East societies on the one hand and South Asian nations on the other. It is difficult to envisage a future Arab-Israeli war that would not quickly spread to the Gulf area as a result of Saudi Arabian arms transfers to the Arab confrontation states, or an Israeli preventive or preemptive attack on Saudi Arabia. It would also seem more likely today than, for example, in 1971, that a conflict in South Asia would swiftly spread to the Gulf area-probably not as a result of another Indo-Pakistani war but of an armed conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan or Afghanistan and Iran. Again, a political upheaval in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or a separatist movement in Baluchistan or Pushtunistan, would be likely to spill over into the Gulf.

On balance, therefore, the new American security formula could at best aid the objective of security in the Persian Gulf only indirectly, peripherally and partially. The American commitment to the security of Saudi Arabia against “external threat” and internal Soviet-supported coups seems to address, in the last analysis, two hypothetical threats emanating from the Soviet Union, and the increased U.S. security commitment to Egypt, Israel and Jordan can hardly contribute to the solution of the urgent problem of security in the Persian Gulf proper.

The uninterrupted flow of oil supplies to the world is the pivotal problem, and the bulk of the Gulf oil, including Saudi oil, must pass through the strategic Strait of Hormuz, whose security must be our paramount concern. Furthermore, the Iranian revolution has shown for the first time that the disruption of oil supplies can be used as an instrument of domestic political coercion by a noncommunist opposition and that it can have as adverse an effect on oil exports as an oil embargo. Without necessarily implying that oil workers in other Gulf states are susceptible to the same kind of call for strikes as in Iran, the main point is that Secretary Brown’s emerging security formula would be clearly inadequate as a deterrent against potential threats to oil supplies arising from both domestic crises and regional conflicts in the heart of the oilfields and in the main artery of oil transportation.

III

The most effective way to cope with domestically and regionally based threats would be for the Persian Gulf states themselves to continue their own search for indigenous security arrangements. This search is all the more appropriate at this particular time when the sense of a common security concern has heightened to an unprecedented degree in the wake of the Iranian revolution. Any indigenous security arrangements made at the initiative of the Gulf states themselves could have the full support of the United States if the local states should so desire. Such arrangements could prove more effective not only against domestic and regional threats, but also against Soviet threats if the local states should choose to seek American and other Western support.

The problem with Secretary Brown’s security formula for the Persian Gulf is not merely the shortcomings discussed above. Equally important, its existence might cause the United States to overlook the great potential for indigenous regional security arrangements in the area. A wide variety of considerations now seem conducive to the definition of common security problems in the Gulf, the adoption of common security strategies, and ultimately the creation of common procedures and institutions for the collective attainment of common objectives.

First of all, the Persian Gulf is a distinct and compact region. Geographically it is an “arm” of the Indian Ocean and a “finger” of the Middle East. These two larger regions are relatively undefinable, but the Gulf area is physically set apart as a shallow and narrow semi-enclosed sea. It is connected to the high seas only by the strategic Strait of Hormuz, squeezed between the Iranian shore and the Omani tip of the Musandum Peninsula.

Second, all Persian Gulf states have a vital stake in freedom of navigation and the control of pollution. The Gulf’s special geographic features have been acknowledged repeatedly at international conferences on the law of the sea as a justification for the adoption of special regional regulations. Because of its limited access to the Gulf waters, Iraq has been the greatest advocate of the concept of “transit passage” through the Strait of Hormuz, while Iran as one of the straits states has favored a kind of “regulated transit passage,” and Oman as the other straits state has insisted on the application of the traditional concept of “innocent passage” to the strait. Despite such divergencies regarding the details, however, all eight Gulf states share a deep sense of obligation with respect to the maintenance of secure and unimpeded navigation. The Gulf waters constitute not only their main trade artery and the vital route for their oil exports, but also an increasingly important source of their food supplies. Because they share the shallow and narrow waters and navigable channels of the Gulf, the littoral states also share a deep sense of common concern with the problem of pollution.

Third, all the Gulf states have a heightened interest in social and economic development projects. The revolutionary rise in oil revenues has financed ambitious economic development projects particularly in the large oil-producing states of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait and Iraq. The Iranian revenues increased from $194 million in 1972 to $22 billion in 1974, and their massive infusion into the economy lay at the heart of the social and economic dislocations that in combination with political repression and unprecedented corruption led to revolution. Saudi Arabia has also launched an extremely ambitious economic development plan (1976-1980) that calls for a spectacular $140-billion expenditure. Saudi society is now having to grapple with the side effects of swift modernization. The signs of rapid inflation, corruption and waste are already visible and their adverse political consequences cannot be ruled out. The Gulf states in general have in common the blight as well as the blessing of sudden wealth.

Fourth, all the Gulf states are prone to internal political upheaval, but the larger oil producers, particularly Saudi Arabia, are more susceptible to political convulsion.

It would, however, be a mistake to predict the rise of a religious opposition against the Saudi royal family on the model of that in Iran. The danger of this kind of analogy is increased by talk about the phenomenon of the so-called “resurgence of Islam.” To be sure, the signs of religiously based political opposition are everywhere to be seen in the Muslim world, from Mauritania to Malaysia, but two points should be borne in mind in order to avoid drawing false analogies. First, the relationship of the religious leaders (the ulama) and the wielders of political power has been generally different in the Sunni, as contrasted with the Shi’i, communities. For example, the ulama in Egypt and Saudi Arabia have not been so completely kept out of the political process as they were in Iran. Second, the Iranian revolution probably owes much of its fervor and zeal to the character of Shi’ism as a historically revolutionary, messianic and legitimistic movement. The anti-establishmentarian thrust of Shi’i Islam is also marked by a perpetual drive for social justice and equality hallowed by an ethos of martyrdom that is unparalleled in the larger world of Sunni Islam.

The doctrinal-political differences between Shi’i and Sunni Islam do not of course preclude the rise of religiously based opposition in the Sunni communities, whether secularized as in Turkey or traditional as in Saudi Arabia. What will make the real difference, however, are the basic human conditions, as one learns from the Iranian experience. All Gulf regimes would face potential internal political explosions if their peoples felt dissatisfied, hopeless and resentful of great disparities in wealth and power.

Fifth, the Gulf states share not only a common aspiration for economic modernization, and an uncertain political future, but also an urge for the control of their own destiny in world politics. Political awakening is the hallmark of every Gulf society at a crucial time when the outside world increasingly covets their oil, their most precious and finite natural resource. Many of them have enjoyed the status of independent states for less than a decade, and all of them share the desire to maintain their territorial integrity and political independence in the future. The West in general, they know, is committed to the maintenance of their political independence. For this fundamental reason none of them is likely to become permanently “anti-Western.” Just as the Iranians have risen to challenge their excessive dependence on the West in general and the United States in particular, Iraq has begun to question its heavy dependence on the Soviet Union. On balance, suspicion of the Soviet Union is prevalent in the Gulf societies and the perception of a common threat from Moscow is yet another potential element of commonality among them.

IV

Despite all these factors of commonality, would it be realistically possible for the Gulf rulers and governments to develop a sense of common security responsibility? Since all the peoples of the Gulf are Muslim, would it be possible to develop such a sense out of their common faith? The commonality of faith in general is counterbalanced by the division between the Sunni and the Shi’i communities in the Gulf area. Most Iranians and more than half of the Arab population of Iraq are the followers of Shi’i Islam. Given the fact that these are the two most populous nations of the Gulf, the Shi’i believers numerically predominate in the Gulf.

However, Saudi Arabia, though with a much smaller population, is the site of two of the most holy places in Islam (Mecca and Medina), the birthplace of Islam and the home of a distinctively puritanical branch of Islam (Wahhabism). Furthermore, this sectarian division is compounded by the cultural disparity between Arabs and Iranians. For these reasons, therefore, Islam is unlikely to play a unifying role in the Gulf and might at times exacerbate regional differences.

Yet, as noted in the previous section, there are cohesive factors that do counterbalance these ancient sectarian and cultural divisions. Those elements of cohesion are more “modern,” in the sense that they largely represent the ethos of the “world culture,” one that knows no boundaries of religion, culture and race. It is a culture in the process of worldwide diffusion and is based on “advanced technology, and the spirit of science, on a rational view of life, a secular approach to social relations, a feeling for justice in public affairs, and, above all else, on the acceptance in the political realm of the belief that the prime unit of the polity should be the nation-state.”2 Will these states that are in the process of becoming modern nations in this age of rampant nationalism be able to develop in practice extensive ties translatable over time into an obligation to maintain their security collectively?

This important question should be addressed on the basis of the experience of the Persian Gulf states themselves. Most of these have attained the status of independent and sovereign political entities only recently. Nevertheless, their past interrelationships contain an important clue to their future ability to cooperate with each other.

Fortunately, the Gulf states, as contrasted with the Arab confrontation states and Israel, have not been plagued with the kind of intractable conflict that has plunged those countries into four wars in 30 years. The most remarkable fact about the experience of the Gulf states, on the contrary, is their demonstrated ability to settle peacefully numerous multifaceted, overlapping and interlocking disputes in a short span of time. These include the Bahrain settlement (1970), the historic Iraq-Iran conflict resolution (1975), and a series of other agreements between Iran and every Arab state of the Gulf and between the Arab states themselves, like the important agreement between Iraq and Saudi Arabia over the land boundary in the Neutral Zone, and between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi over the Buraimi oasis.

Why should there be this predilection for peaceful settlement of disputes in the Persian Gulf? My own examination of the record suggests that the impressive web of agreements that the Gulf states have developed over the years has been rooted in the imperative of practical necessity. Given the universal urge for social and economic development in the area, on the basis of uninterrupted income from oil and in the face of the nightmare of oil depletion, the Gulf states have accorded regional security the highest priority because they are, in the last analysis, hostages of each other.

Armed conflict diverts scarce resources from economic development in any society, but in the Gulf area it would destroy the very foundation of economic betterment and political survival. The dramatic settlement of the conflict between Iraq and Iran is the best illustration of the influence of this all-important mutual vulnerability on the security behavior of the Gulf states. After decades of smoldering hostility, Iran and Iraq decided to resolve their ancient and festering conflict as soon as it became clear that armed skirmishes might finally lead to an all-out war that would result in the mutual destruction of their oil facilities and the disruption of their oil exports.

The experience of the Gulf states also reveals that they have in fact gone beyond the avoidance of armed conflict and the peaceful settlement of disputes in their search for regional security. Ever since the settlement of the Shatt al-Arab dispute between Iraq and Iran in 1975, the Gulf leaders have pressed forward for mutual defense cooperation despite a number of setbacks. In that year their foreign ministers first discussed in Jiddah the possibility of plans for mutual defense against external threats, and also, significantly, mutual aid in case of internal coups. Subsequent developments in the Horn of Africa and the coup in Afghanistan intensified their common concern with the advance of Soviet power and influence around the Persian Gulf. This concern reached a new peak by the middle of 1978 when Iraq began to share the Saudi and Iranian perceptions of the threat to their security. The Shah and the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, even held “security consultations.”

Has the Iranian revolution increased or decreased the chances for further development of a security consensus in the Persian Gulf area? The answer will, of course, partly depend on the outcome of the revolution, but, assuming that an Islamic republic in some form is established, a best-case and a worst-case scenario may be envisaged.

The best case would be an Iran turned inward but still clearly anti-communist, which confined its security perimeter to the defense of Iranian national boundaries, pursued a hands-off policy in the Gulf, and concentrated its energies on badly needed domestic economic reconstruction and political consolidation. Such a regime would presumably pull the remaining Iranian troups out of Oman (if it has not already done so). It would perhaps try to settle the Iranian disputes with the Sheikh of Sharjah over the Gulf island of Abu Musa and with the Sheikh of Ra’s al-Khaymeh over the two Tunbs.

If so, the atmosphere for regional cooperation in the Gulf area would certainly improve. The Shah’s overbearing manner often alienated Iran’s neighbors, and the decline in Iranian assertiveness (as well as military power) could contribute to better relations and a fully shared perception of the external threat. The dramatic change already evident in Iran’s policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict would also ease past tensions between the Arab states of the Gulf and Iran over the Shah’s favorable policy toward Israel. The new regime’s embrace of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), however, would not necessarily endear it to all Arab states, including some in the Gulf area. In fact, if the new regime should push its association with the PLO too far it might indeed alienate several leading Arab states, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as long as they have “moderate” regimes.

At worst, the new regime could turn outward virulently. If the Shah’s Gulf policy was inspired by the glories of ancient Persia, the new regime’s might be influenced by the golden age of Islam. Pan-Shi’ism would embitter Iran’s relations with not only the anti-Shi’i Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, but also the Sunni Baathist minority of Iraq who dominate the Iraqi Shi’i majority. Any outward thrust by a new Iranian regime would surely sour Iran’s relations with its major Gulf neighbors.

In either case the importance of Iran for the future security of the Persian Gulf would continue. Under the best-case scenario, the Gulf states and Iran might finally be able to develop a sense of common obligation to maintain their security against external threats and internal subversion and coups, and Iran’s cooperation would be of critical importance. However, should Iran prefer to stay out of any collective security arrangement, there would be no reason for the Arab states of the Gulf to abandon past efforts toward the adoption of common security arrangements that would stand them in good stead even if Iran’s security concerns were confined to the defense of its own territory and maritime interests.

V

The United States should not only encourage local initiatives toward security arrangements and be prepared to assist the regional states to achieve their own common security goals, but should also try to persuade other advanced industrial countries in OECD to join in common efforts to develop both economic and security ties with a prospective group of Gulf states if they choose to invite Western support. The United States, as contrasted with its NATO allies, is much less dependent on Persian Gulf oil. The Strait of Hormuz is potentially a global chokepoint largely because of the great dependence of Western Europe and Japan on Persian Gulf oil. (The socialist world’s dependence on Gulf oil is relatively minimal at the present time, although it may well increase in the near future.) There is no convincing reason why the United States should try to go it alone in forging economic and security ties with a prospective group of regional states in the Persian Gulf. But there are all sorts of good reasons for doing so in cooperation with some other oil-consuming nations of the Western world.

Existing economic and military ties with the Gulf states, of course, already involve the OECD governments and corporations. This is partly due to the common interest of the Gulf states in diversifying the sources of their technology imports despite a general preference for American know-how. The European Community as a whole is a significant market for the Gulf states because of geographic proximity and the lesser cost of transportation, as well as traditional patterns of trade. As has been revealed in Euro-Arab and European-Iranian dialogues, this market would be of the greatest interest to Iran and Saudi Arabia for the future export of their petrochemicals. Western Europe has also been an important source of military equipment for the Gulf states. This is again the result of their determination to diversify their sources of arms, despite a general preference for American military equipment, especially sophisticated weapons.

Second, although an American near-monopoly of arms supplies to the Gulf states would help our balance-of-payments deficit, the long-term cost is too great. Our excessive military sales to Iran became a major target of religious and political opposition to the Shah’s regime not only because of the perceived economic and social harm involved, but also because they symbolized the military and political commitment of the United States to the survival of an unpopular regime. A prudent future arms sales policy would have a better chance of success if the Gulf states understood that despite their preference for American arms, the United States and its allies were committed to spreading the sale of military equipment among themselves. Such a common Western arms policy might reduce the pressure on Washington from the Gulf states for excessive amounts of American arms.

Third, and finally, increased bilateral partnerships between the United States and individual Gulf states that seem bound to result under Secretary Brown’s new security formula would tend to entail even greater American omnipresence in the Gulf region, whereas the Iranian revolution has shown that this should be all the more avoided. Excessive presence of nationals from any one nation would inevitably become unpalatable to indigenous populations, not only as a perceived infringement on their political independence, but also an imagined affront to their cultural and religious values.

VI

In sum, a comprehensive economic and security partnership between a group of Gulf and OECD countries along the lines suggested in this essay would in the long run better contribute to the processes of regional order as well as peacemaking in the Middle East than would the security formula of Secretary Brown. Since the chances of regional cooperation are far greater in the Persian Gulf sub-area than in the Arab-Israeli zone of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf model of indigenous security arrangements could be expanded subsequently to include the other interested states, including Israel, when the Arab-Israeli conflict is satisfactorily resolved.3

Moreover, comprehensive security cooperation among a group of Gulf and OECD states would place the United States in a better position to pursue the larger long-term goal of establishing “rules of the game” between the superpowers in the Middle East. Without the threat of the Soviet hand on the economic throat of the Western industrial democracies and Japan at the Strait of Hormuz, the United States would eventually be able to enter into negotiations with Moscow from a position of strength. These would be aimed at the threefold objective of mutual reduction of arms supplies to the Middle East, mutual limitations on naval deployment and use of base facilities in areas adjacent to the Gulf, and mutual acceptance of restraints on direct and indirect intervention in local conflicts in and around the Persian Gulf.

In the foreseeable future, however, the vital interests of the industrial democracies and those of the Gulf states, which are basically compatible, must be protected by means of any combination of skillful multilateral and alliance diplomacy that the realities of the situation permit. The challenge to American leadership is unmistakably clear. The courage and resourcefulness with which it is met today will make a significant difference to world peace and prosperity to the end of the century.

Footnotes

3 I argued before the Iranian revolution that American policymakers should not compartmentalize the Middle Eastern problems into those of the Arab-Israeli and Persian Gulf sub-areas as if they are separable, since the problem of order-building is universal in the entire Middle East. See R. K. Ramazani, Beyond the Arab-Israeli Settlement: New Directions for U.S. Policy in the Middle East, Cambridge, Mass: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, 1977.

State Dept. “Democracy” Dominoes Begin Tipping Over In Hong Kong

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Hong Kong and tear gas

CY voices opposition to ‘illegal’ pressure tactics

the standard
Eddie Luk and Hilary Wong

The SAR government is opposed to Occupy Central for resorting to illegal acts to pressure Beijing and the administration on political reform, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said.

He said Beijing’s decision on the matter is legally binding and the local government will soon launch the second round of public consultation on reform.

“The SAR government is strongly opposed to Occupy Central organizers and participants for resorting to illegal means to occupy public areas and police will handle it based on the laws,” Leung said.

He also said Occupy aims to paralyze the core districts to pressure Beijing and the SAR government and that is not the way for Hong Kong citizens to express their opinions.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who appeared in the government briefing at the Central Government Offices with Leung, said she believes the upcoming chief executive election will still be competitive.

 

She was referring to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruling on August 31 that potential candidates must have the support of more than half the nominating committee to run.

Lam said she joined social campaigns as a university student and that it is good for students to have their own views on social issues, but their actions should necessarily be legal, peaceful and rational.

That came as Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said: “Apart from the fact that the protesters are by and large unarmed, it is also important to consider the fact that many others were injured as a result of their actions, including more than 10 security guards and a number of officers as well as a number of protesters themselves.

“I believe trying to tie acts of violence to whether or not one is armed is a rather unwise proposition.”

Executive Council non-official members in a statement appealed to the public to cherish the safety and stability of Hong Kong and not to take part in any illegal activities of Occupy Central.

In Beijing, Vice President Li Yuanchao voiced hope that Hong Kong people can gain a deeper understanding of the ruling on reform.

 

Eyes on ISIS should be on US–Prague Post

[This article disabled the Prague Post website when it came out three days ago.  There was zero way to retrieve the article from anywhere on the Internet until today.  I congratulate Monroe Luther, the operator of the Czech site for his tenacity in retrieving the fine piece.]

Eyes on ISIS should be on US

prague post

Written by Bill Cohn

More fighting the symptoms, not the causes, of terror

CodePink anti-war activists gather at the White House in Washington on September 25, 2014 to protest US-led military intervention in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State group and call on President Barack Obama to return his Nobel Peace Prize. Activists remembered those affected by war and called for nonviolent solutions to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM

Last Fall, we were told that the United States had to wage war against the Assad regime in Syria. This Fall, we are told the US must wage war against Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad regime. How can this be logically explained? Has the world changed so dramatically in one year?

In fact, despite dramatic changes things remain very much the same. The world today, just as a year ago and a decade ago, is marked by: a growing gap between the haves and have-nots; a reflex for military solutions to political problems; a flagrant disregard for law; and, hypocritical policy which reacts to the symptoms of terror rather than addressing its causes.

Yes, the Islamic States’ actions are barbaric and there is great volatility in the Mid-East, but the policy of the West has enabled these developments. Just as Al-Qaeda was born from US support of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, ISIS comes from the US war in Iraq. We can also look to the intervention of the West in Libya and Syria, and its overall regional policy, to explain the spread of Islamic extremism.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly on September 25, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani criticized Western nations for sowing extremism in the Middle East, saying, “Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of mad men who now spare no one. All those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups must now acknowledge their errors.” Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Sadly, the West is again repeating its erroneous ways.

Despite Obama’s bombastic rhetoric at the UN this week, there is no military solution to terrorism. A comprehensive study on How Terrorist Groups End by the Rand Corporation underscores the need for political, not military, solutions. Iraq may need to be a confederation. Iran and other disfavored groups will need to be part of a grand-negotiation. Bombs cannot bring peace in the region.

Robert McNamara set forth guidelines for the wise use of military force in The Fog of War:  “If we can’t persuade nations with comparable values of the merits of our cause, we’d better re-examine our reasoning.” Europe, stung by the Iraq experience, has not yet signed onto the bombing of ISIL in Syria. America’s coalition for that bombing is five brutal Arab autocracies (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, and Bahrain).

Former Bush legal advisor John Bellinger III recently said, “Many European governments really are sticklers on international law rules on the use of force, particularly after the Iraq war. This may look a lot more justifiable, but they nonetheless feel the obligation to have a legal basis.” Think about that. The Bush lawyer is saying that the US doesn’t need a legal basis to bomb Syria. The legal justification given by the Obama team has mutated from the absurd (Syrian extremists were plotting an imminent attack against the US) to the creative (If Iraq so requests the US can chase its enemies across land borders).

A sane approach to ending terrorism would address its economic as well as its political roots. It would recognize that the rise of the rest will enhance the security of the West, and seek to redress some of the failings of globalization to deliver on its promise. And, it would recognize that democracy must begin at home, not in Baghdad or Damascus.

Policies that extend security must be the aim. Terror sowed will be terror reaped. The bombing campaign against ISIS was announced the day before the UN climate change conference. What could extend security more than the double win of finding clean renewable sources to meet our energy needs and reversing global warming and its catastrophic consequences? Perpetual war can bring neither peace nor security.


The author, a member of the California Bar, lectures on law, ethics and critical thinking at New York University and the University of New York in Prague. He studied international relations at Stanford University and will be participating in a panel discussion on ISIS at the American Center in Prague on November 19.

ISIS Blitzkriegs Accomplished By Few Men With Lots of Money

From Najaf to Tahrir Souri: “ISIS fighters are few, but the tribes are those who are supporting ISIS…”

tahrirSy

A source close to Tahrir Souri from Najaf, nicknamed Ali for the purposes of this article, spoke of the ongoing ISIS offensive, saying: “ISIS fighters are few, but the tribes are those who are supporting ISIS, because as you know, they’re against Nouri Al-Maliki. They’re going off of ‘I’ll work with the devil when it suits me’”.

     Ali’s three friends in the Iraqi military recently returned to Najaf after surrendering in Mosul. He said they had surrendered to ISIS fighters, who after disarming them, let them go.

     Ali added: “ISIS, so far, is treating the families of Mosul generally well. However, in Tal ‘Afar where I have family, they told me ISIS fighters entered homes and took them somewhere unknown. Either to be detained, executed, or outfitted and put into the ranks of ISIS. Could be that they are hostages, that’s my own opinion. I’ll know more tomorrow, and get you the names of the tribes.”

Jarba Calls Mujahideen e-Khalq (a.k.a., “Jundullah”) Brothers

“MKO has been training some militant groups fighting the Syrian government, including the FSA, on bomb manufacturing, planting and detonation methods, assassination and street war.”  [Hillary Clinton recently had the MKO unbranded as "terrorists" on State's wanted sheet.]

Ahmad Jarba brands Mojahedin Khalq terrorists as Brothers in Syrian Opposition

Nejat

Head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SCO) Ahmad Jarba called the members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as MEK, NCRI or PMOI) as brothers of the Syrian opposition.Ahman Jarba brands Mojahedin Khalq terrorists as Brothers in Syrian Opposition

“The MKO and the Syrian Opposition Coalition are brothers,” Jarba said in a meeting with MKO ringleader Maryam Rajavi in Paris a couple of days ago.

During the meeting, Jarba also hailed MKO’s terrorist operations against Iran.

In January, a defected MKO member disclosed that the MKO has been providing military training to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other militant groups in Syria.

Speaking to Ashraf news website, former MKO member Mohammad Razzaqi said the MKO has been training some militant groups fighting the Syrian government, including the FSA, on bomb manufacturing, planting and detonation methods, assassination and street war.

He noted that some MKO leaders have had a series of meetings with the Syrian opposition leaders in France and Jordan and discussed help and assistance to the FSA and a number of other extremist Salafi groups in Syria.

Following similar reports in the last two years, Iranian officials stated that the collaboration between the ringleaders and members of the MKO and the FSA “displays the real face and goals of insurgents in Syria”.

“The invitation of the deputy commander of the FSA, the armed forces who are opposed to the Damascus government, to the MKO shows that they themselves are terrorists,” member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Ebrahim Aqa-Mohammadi said.

He added that the invitation of the Syrian group to the MKO to visit Damascus displays that the terrorist MKO is a role model for the Syrian insurgents.

In late 2012, an FSA commander said the MKO played as a role model for Syrian insurgents.

“Mojahedin-e Khalq is our role model, and we inform them that all doors of our houses are open to them,” Malek al-Kurdi, a deputy commander of the so-called Free Syrian Army, said, addressing a joint meeting of the MKO and the ringleaders of the anti-Assad armed rebel groups.

The last group of MKO terrorists at Camp Ashraf, now called Camp New Iraq, was evicted by the Iraqi government on September 11 to join other members of the terrorist group in the former US-held Camp Liberty, now called Camp Hurriya, near Baghdad International Airport where they are awaiting relocation to other countries.

The MKO, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and western targets.

The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly-established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by the MKO members in 1981.

The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.

The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.

Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who eventually took the MKO off the US terror list.

The US formally removed the MKO from its list of terror organizations in early September 2012, one week after the then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, sent the US Congress a classified communication about the move. The decision made by Clinton enabled the group to have its assets under the US jurisdiction unfrozen and do business with the American entities, the State Department said in a statement at the time.