Not much has been discussed about the plot of an Iranian-American businessman to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Perhaps because it was so outlandish and the person involved so stupid it seems the Justice Department is taking its own sweet time with the investigation or best yet, let sleeping dog lie. While there’s speculation in some quarters about Israeli involvement behind the plot to try and frame the Iranians and cause a U.S. attack, given how sloppy this whole mess is and given the Mossad’s reputation, one can raise questions about their potential involvement. But one intelligence service which does not enjoy such a reputation but has every reason to get the U.S. to attack Iran is not just Israel, but Saudi Arabia.
The Arab Spring protests may have seemed to pass by the Desert Kingdom but this is not entirely true. There have been revolts outside the eyes of the media and they’ve taken place in a very sensitive spot of the country, the eastern provinces closest to the Persian Gulf and Iran. These places are predominately Shiite and the House of Saud has worried for years they may rise up in revolt ever since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. With revolts and unrest all over the region, the Saudis have cracked down in these provinces and in nearby Bahrain, where an unpopular Sunni tribal family rules over a Shiite majority with the assent of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet which ports there.
Alexander Cockburn has written a very good article on Saudi worries for Chronicles. Saudi worries are also U.S. worries because the east is where Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure is located. Any serious unrest here threatens the kingdom, threatens oil prices and U.S. interests in relation to Iran, who already has increased its influence with the U.S.’s war in Iraq. A dynasty ruled by old men with seething populations of youngsters and repressed Shiites is not exactly a stable situation as Cockburn points out:
“Could the uprisings in Saudi Arabia spiral out of control? We’re talking here about two different challenges. The first are the long-oppressed Shiite, making up just under a quarter of the population. The second is from the younger generation in the Sunni majority—youth under 30 accounts for two-thirds of the Saudi population–living in one of the most thoroughgoing tyrannies in the world.
In February of this year, perturbed by the trend of events in Egypt and elsewhere, the 87-year-old King Abdullah announced his plan to dispense about $36 billion in welfare handouts—about $2,000 for every Saudi. He correctly identified one of the Kingdom’s big problems, which is that over 40 percent of people between 18 and 40 don’t have a job.
A few days ago, Abdullah offered Saudi women a privilege—to participate in certain entirely meaningless municipal elections (if approved by their husbands.) What municipal elections can be meaningful amid resolute repression under an absolutist monarchy?
The American Empire has effectively lost Iran and Iraq. What of Saudi Arabia? Suppose, fissures continue to open up in the Kingdom itself? I doubt, at such a juncture, that we would hear too much talk from Washington about “democracy” or orderly transitions. The Empire would send in the 101st Airborne.
The Saudis have every reason to try and goad the U.S. into war with Iran as much as the Israelis do and an amateurish plot to try and do so is not out of the realm of possibility for the Saudi GID (General Intelligence Directorate) to try an accomplish, however badly bungled.
It just goes to show how dangerous this region is when you have “allies” as dubious as Saudi Arabia, where most of a 9-11 hijackers came from, and Pakistan, who has supported the Taliban and Osama bin-Laden. The quicker we get out of there, the better.