By Jan Oberg
The role – again – of marketing companies in selling wars
Few wars have been so thoroughly media-managed and marketing-loaded as that on Syria. No wonder arms deals are too – otherwise citizens around the world would protest loudly that their tax money is spent on destruction and more destruction and all the promises of the past that this – or that – arms deal will increase security and peace in the world have turned out to be fake information – disinformation – and an integral part of what can only be termed “fearology” by governments against their own people.
One must therefore welcome Russia Today’s excellent research by Alexey Yaroshevsky also on this dimension.
This report is high-speed but listen carefully to it as it points out two US companies associated with this deal and US-Saudi relations with questionable image – a report that also highlight to some extent the roles of both Bill and Hillary Clinton in all this: the Qorvis MSLGroup and Burson-Marsteller.
In passing one cannot but deplore that it is Russia Today, not its Western peers, that does the research on the role of PR and marketing firms.
NATO in Gulf with Denmark as a liaison?
Back to NATO in Kuwait and what it may mean.
Here is what the United Arab Emirates’ daily The National reported on January 24, 2017. Interestingly, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE are members of ICI – the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – while Saudi Arabia and Oman plan to join. This is exactly the coalition we have mentioned above.
Three days later the same sources quotes the Danish ambassador in the UAE: “Nato officials are expected to visit in coming months after the Danish embassy in Abu Dhabi becomes the country’s go-between with the bloc, said Merete Juhl, the Danish ambassador.
“Nato and Europeans really need a reliable and capable partner in the Middle East, like the UAE, to better understand how to deal effectively with challenges internationally but also at home, with refugees and newcomers that represent a new security threat,” she said.
“So these types of partnerships are something we are prioritising because it’s what we need in today’s world.”
So NATO member Denmark is appointed as the go-between – the UAE being the second largest military spender after Saudi Arabia. The article also explains how the UAE has contributed to NATO operations in Afghanistan and Libya.
In spring 2016, then US Secretary of State, John Kerry had talked about a much closer cooperation:
“Ahead of last year’s Camp David summit, Gulf officials had hoped for a Nato-like binding security pact with Washington, but such an agreement was always highly unlikely. Now, the US is willing to discuss increasing cooperation between Nato and the GCC, though officials gave no further details on what was being considered.
Mr Kerry said Washington had agreed with GCC foreign ministers to “begin the process of evaluating whether or not the concept of a GCC-Nato partnership in specific terms is something that would contribute significantly to the security and stability of the region”. [GCC = Gulf Cooperation Council].
It’s worth noting the term GCC-NATO partnership and what is then stated in the report:
“Much of Mr Kerry’s meetings in Bahrain centred on Iran’s role in the region. Most GCC countries consider Tehran to be their gravest security threat, and are concerned about US intentions towards Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal and as Iran appears to be increasing its involvement in the Middle East.
Despite the Obama administration’s hope that the nuclear deal will empower moderates within Iran, Tehran has provocatively carried out a number of ballistic missile launches and continued or increased its involvement in the wars in Syria and Yemen.
Recent remarks by Mr Obama have only reinforced fears that the US intends to play a more neutral role in the region and do less to contain Iran. Gulf countries and Iran must “find an effective way to share the neighbourhood”, the US president said in a recent interview with The Atlantic magazine.”
One must assume that President Trump is eager, during his meetings with high-level people from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, to emphasize how much he loathes Iran and the nuclear deal.
US foreign policy aims, or so one must conclude, at deepening the Sunni-Shia divide – a divide that does have historic roots but has taken on a “hardness” since the catastrophic US post-occupation misadministration of Iraq that lead directly to the creation of ISIS.
Another dimension – a macro perspective
Of course there can be other interpretations of Saudi Arabia’s militarization than the one advanced here. But none of this could possibly lead to a new, wiser Western relationship to the Middle East than we’ve seen the last good 100 years. There is not a shred of evidence that the US has learned any lesson from those 100 years or, in particular, since 10/7 – the commencement of the war on Afghanistan and the wars that followed.
And for Syria and Iran, there can be nothing positive in any of the above – while there certainly is for both ISIS and Israel – the latter supporting terrorism in various ways and places and being allied with Sunni rather than Shia.
If you are in doubt, read the statement by a Israeli minister about the desirability to kill Bashar al-Assad and continue with the destruction of Iran. Since this minister has not been fired by Netanyahu it must be perceived as official Israeli policy.
So for genuine peace, the post-Obama rapproachment between the US and Saudi Arabia/Gulf States is a bad omen in that it still builds on divide-et-impera, confrontation and military dominance rather than diplomacy and mutually beneficial cooperation in the long term.
US/NATO and their allies in the region have learned no lessons from failed wars, destroyed countries and cultures, millions upon millions of dead and suffering people, the growth of terrorism thanks to Western policies and the now 16 year old War on Terror – and therefore there is nothing new, constructive or hope-inducing in any of this.
Future generations in the Middle East and in the West will pay a huge prize.
And even though much of what has been described above may seem to signal strength, every bit of it points in one direction: the dissolution of the US Empire and in its wake, the more slow disintegration of NATO and the EU.
The West works vertically on short-sighted and continued destruction and therefore employs military means above all others – permanent confrontation and exceptionalism.
The Rest works horizontally with constructive visions – such as the Silk Road and Silk Belt that sends much more attractive, inclusive signal also to the Middle East – with civilian means such as infrastructure, education, cultural exchange and mutual economic benefits.
In future history books, the Middle East could well turn out to have been a major crossroads in more than one sense of the emerging, much better, cooperative world order that will come when the last Empire has finished itself.
Until that happens: How many more tragedies and how much more human suffering shall the world witness and endure?