The humiliating reverse suffered by Anglo-American imperialism, as Obama’s earlier threats of direct military intervention against Syria were quietly dropped in favour of a diplomatic climb-down facilitated by Russian diplomacy, has provoked a scalded reaction from Washington’s lackeys in the region.
The sight of President Assad continuing to stand at the national helm in defence of Syrian sovereignty – made all the more galling to behold in light of the parallel propaganda coup for Tehran in securing international endorsement of Iran’s right to enrich its own uranium – is driving the most reactionary forces in the Middle East into harsh recriminations against Washington.
In the case of two of the foremost local actors in the region – Saudi Arabia and Israel – these recriminations are accompanied by concerted efforts both to intensify the patronage of jihadist terrorists and to expand the scope of the terror.
Gaza under the hammer
Some of the targets of zionism are sickeningly familiar. Gaza remains under permanent siege and threat of bombardment, made worse before Christmas by a natural disaster that was transformed into a man-made health emergency when flooding from heavy rainfall was exacerbated by Israel’s callous decision to open the Wadi Sofa Dam in the south of Gaza, flooding dozens of houses and leaving hundreds without shelter.
The failure of pumping equipment (starved of parts and hit by severe power shortages – both as a result of Israel’s siege of Gaza) further led to raw sewage swamping some areas, adding to all the other miseries inflicted by the blockade. Then the Israeli armed forces welcomed in the New Year with a series of air strikes targeting four sites in the central and northern Gaza Strip. Such is the murderous ‘business as usual’ for Israel.
But zionism, whose own aspirations to national statehood lack all historical legitimacy, is nothing if not international in its ambitions. Israel has never shirked its responsibilities as a loyal little upholder of world reaction, with Washington’s present apparent low profile if anything acting as a spur to Israel’s own wider ambitions. And Israel’s determination to cling to its role as regional policeman chimes well with the aspirations of another disgruntled middle-eastern US lackey – Saudi Arabia.
Lebanese writer Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, writing about a recent terrorist attack on Dayeh in Lebanon, pointed out that the target chosen by the Saudi-backed takfiri suicide bomber was a street named in honour of heroic anti-zionist resistance fighter Ahmad Kassir, who gave his life in 1982 in the first martyrdom operation against Israeli soldiers in Lebanon.
More striking still, the terrorist bomb “was detonated in front of the Kazma building, the first building Hizbollah’s reconstruction company, Waad, rebuilt after the zionists flattened Dahyeh in 2006,” prompting the conclusion that “these syncronicities epitomise the takfiri-Saudi-zionist nexus” that is “attempting to achieve what Israel failed to accomplish in 2006, only with new means”. Countering this, she notes, is the widening role of Hizbollah with “its expanded concept of resistance”. (‘Beirut bombings and the Saudi-takfiri-Israeli nexus’, syria360.wordpress.com, 2 January 2014)
The affinity between the war aims of Riyadh and Tel Aviv is so close that it is hard even for the axis of resistance to be certain which enemy is at the gate – those in pursuit of an ever-expanding ‘promised land’ or those yearning for a ‘universal caliphate’ (controlled by the Saudi ruling despots, of course). But such theological niceties melt away when it’s a question of trying to hold the imperialist line against the axis of resistance.
Take for example the recent bloody murder of Hizbollah member Hassan Lakkis. It was Mossad that long ago put Lakkis on a hit list of five members of the resistance whom the spy agency wished dead, and the preceding four were all killed between 2008 and 2011. The obvious inference is that it was Mossad agents who recently gunned him down in cold blood outside his apartment block – an inference made also by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Yet Iranian officials may not be mistaken in believing that the al-Qaeda affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades, led by a Saudi national until his capture in Lebanon, also had a hand in the deed.
Whether either, or indeed both, were responsible for this crime (or a hundred more like it) is impossible to say – precisely because the agendas and fates of Israel and the House of Saud are so inextricably bound up together, for better or worse. The fact is that Riyadh – the fitting representative of all that is rotten in the Gulf sheikhdoms – and Israel – imperialist gundog and occasional loose cannon – are trapped in the same corner and engaged in the same desperate rearguard action.
The common enemy rearing up to confront them is not the sanitised ‘Arab spring’ so beloved of the imperialist media, but rather the long-brewing revolt of the oppressed masses against imperialism and all its local stooges – a revolt for which Hassan Lakkis and courageous comrades like him stand as advanced guards.
Internationalism – on both sides
If the now-rudderless axis of oppression hopes to mend its fortunes by further internationalising itself, opening up terror franchises in Volgograd as well as Syria, Iran and Lebanon, it will find to its discomfiture that the axis of resistance is no less international in scope.
Nasrallah has been very clear on the reasons why Syria must be defended against imperialist subversion, saying that: “No amount of pressure can change our position on Syria because it is an existential battle for us. I don’t just mean for Hizbollah, but for Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and for the entire resistance project in the region.”
His second-in-command elaborated: “Our enemy fights us directly in some places and it fights us indirectly in others, with groups and proxies who either serve its agenda or are controlled without knowing it.”
Hizbollah’s standing within the axis of resistance was hard-earned in the bitter struggle to expel Israel from Lebanon, and is now further strengthened by the internationalist support the organisation gives to Syria. And if picking a fight with Syria or Lebanon means picking a fight with Hizbollah and Iran, the Saudis should perhaps have thought twice about the likely consequences of picking a fight with Russia before reportedly making a clumsy mafia-style attempt to coerce President Putin into abandoning Syria.
According to the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, House of Saud spy chief Prince Bandar (popularly known as ‘Bandar Bush’ on account of his long and intimate ties with the most reactionary circles of the US ruling class) met with the Russians last July and proposed a deal on Syria.
“Not only did Prince Bandar tell the Russians during their first July meeting that the regimes of the GCC [the Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council] would not threaten the Russian gas monopoly in Europe, but he made promises to the Russians that they could keep their naval facility on the Mediterranean coast of Syria and that he would give the House of Saud’s guarantee to protect the 2014 Winter Olympics being held in the north Caucasian resort city of Sochi, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, from the Chechen separatist militias under Saudi control.
“If Moscow cooperated with Riyadh and Washington against Damascus, the leak discloses that Bandar also stated that the same Chechen militants fighting inside Syria to topple the Syrian government would not be given a role in Syria’s political future.” (21 August 2013)
In plain English, if Putin agreed to ditch Syria, the House of Saud would instruct its protégé Chechen terror gangs (a) not to make an open grab for a slice of ‘Syria’s political future’ and (b) not to launch terrorist attacks on the Winter Games in Sochi in 2014.
Confronted with this effort to dress up a classic mafia protection racket (“You pay us for protection and our friends won’t burn down your club”) as the latest in high diplomacy, the Russians decided that this was an offer they could refuse. Prince Bandar then reportedly threatened to pull the plug on the long-awaited Geneva II peace conference and to cheer on the anticipated US attack (unaware last summer that Uncle Sam was about to step aside from the role of overt gang leader).
Evidence that Riyadh had decided to let its Chechen dogs off the leash to threaten the Winter Games in Sochi, due to open on 7 February, came with the horrific double bombings on Volgograd’s transport system, which killed 33 people on 29 and 30 December 2013.
Why Volgograd? Not only is Volgograd a key transport hub linking Moscow with Sochi, the city is also a potent symbol of Russia’s proud Soviet past.
Stalingrad, as the city was known until Khrushchev’s name-switch tried to pull its Bolshevik sting in 1961, had a heroic record of resistance against the Whites in the civil war period (1918-20) under the leadership of JV Stalin; in turn, it became the site of the bitterest struggle against the fascist hordes of the Great Patriotic War.
Last year, it was decided that the city should revert to its original name for six days each February, in memory of the victory over fascism. None of this will have been unknown to the fascist perpetrators of this present-day outrage.
President Putin has vowed to “destroy the terrorists” behind the bombings, and Prince Bandar’s ill-judged threats last summer are not likely to be forgotten. It is at their own peril that the mafiosi of the House of Saud underestimate Putin’s capacity for dealing with gangsters – having had to deal with plenty of the home-grown variety in his time.
An article by Finian Cunningham notes that the Volgograd outrage “is just the latest in a long series of terrorist acts connected to Saudi-sponsored radicals in the North Caucasus”, with six other people killed in Volgograd in a bus-bombing last October.
Cunningham suggests that: “The group believed to be behind these attacks is known as the Caucasus Caliphate, led by Doko Umarov. Saudi Arabia is a major source of funds for the Caucasus Caliphate, which espouses the same fundamentalist ideology as the Saudi-sponsored takfiris operating in Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq.
“Based in Chechnya and Dagestan, Umarov has publicly stated that ‘all means necessary would be used to derail’ the Sochi Olympics. Previously, the same network carried out suicide-bomb attacks on Moscow’s metro system in 2010 and 2011, which caused dozens of deaths. The Caucasus extremists are known to have close logistical connection with both American and Saudi military intelligence.”(‘Russia may hit back at Saudi Arabia for Volgograd attacks’, presstv.ir, 13 January 2014)
Both Riyadh and Tel Aviv are getting themselves into deep waters, as they wake up to a world in which Washington – its authority under increasing challenge – can no longer be counted upon to protect its lackeys from the consequences of their own rash actions. The present crop of zionist warmongers may come to envy the fate of Ariel Sharon, the architect of the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, who was allowed to die in his bed without ever being held to account for his many war crimes.