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1/15/16

Saudi Arabia: That Eerie Feeling About Saudi Arabia - by Stephan Richter

In 1979, when the Shah’s regime finally fell in Iran, official Washington was very perplexed. The U.S. government, with all its departments, including the intelligence apparatus, had steadfastly stood by its client.

The shock when it all came crashing down was palpable. So was the regional upheaval, with consequences visible to this day.

Why the surprise? Why the preceding ignorance? Because official Washington was far too invested in the continued presence of the Shah. He was the linchpin of U.S. strategy for the region.

Under those circumstances, the mere thought of him no longer being in power was too painful to bear.

That also made it basically impossible to give any proper consideration to alternative scenarios that could have helped to safeguard the strategic interests of the United States and the West in case the Shah’s regime failed.

The always precarious balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Middle East was twice altered by Washington, one time by inaction, the other time by ill-fated action.

The U.S. government’s decision not to act to stop the mounting abuses of its ally monarchy in Iran between 1953 and 1979 created the social and political conditions for massive radicalization – and religiosity – in Iranian politics.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Washington then added fuel to the fire when it decided to hasten the demise of Saddam Hussein’s floundering regime instead of letting an Iraqi compromise solution emerge from within to replace him.

The vacuum brought influence to Sunni radicals in western Iraq and power to Iranian-supported Shia politicians in the south and in Baghdad.

Once again, the net effect was to strengthen the Iranian factor in the Middle East, adding profoundly to Saudi worries about regional dynamics.

The trouble is that the accumulated evidence suggests that the United States, despite the many resources it devotes to the region and the vast size of its military and intelligence operations, has not shown itself capable of pacifying the situation.

Rather, its track record has been to make things notably worse and more radicalized on balance.

That does not bode well for stability in the region if and when the Saudi royals’ regime one day vanishes, as quickly and unexpectedly as the Shah did in his day.

The most astounding thing is that, then as now, the writing was on the wall for all to see clearly. But too many in Washington are paid not to see it.

Read more: That Eerie Feeling About Saudi Arabia - The Globalis

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