Saturday, September 21, 2013

Syria: the nun who exposed the stage-management of public opinion

Mother Agnes Mariam el-Salib is a Melkite Catholic nun who has lived and worked in Syria for 20 years. She is Mother Superior of St James' Monastery in Qara, and has compiled a comprehensive, compelling and persuasive report (download HERE) into the photographs and videos coming out of Syria being used by President Obama, David Cameron and François Hollande to justify punitive action against President Assad and his forces for the alleged use of chemical weapons.

Read the report for yourself, and make up your own mind: what follows here is mere summary. She evidences photographs and video footage which are being circulated as proof that the Syrian President used sarin gas on his own people. No one doubts that a lot of children died, yet only Mother Agnes appears to have asked why there are only piles of dead children. Where are all their parents? And why do the same bodies in the same clothes keep on cropping up in different locations?

Mother Agnes has been consistently outspoken about the atrocities committed by Western-backed Syrian 'rebels' against Christians and other minorities. Her reputation is considered impeccable, though she is routinely slandered in Western media. She said of the events of the morning of August 21st:
"I am not saying that no chemical agent was used in the area – it certainly was. But I insist that the footage that is now being peddled as evidence had been fabricated in advance. I have studied it meticulously, and I will submit my report to the UN Human Rights Commission based in Geneva."
And so she is doing, and some news outlets - notably Russian state broadcaster RT - are assisting in the dissemination. They say the dedication and determination of this lone nun is putting to shame the US intelligence community. Well, as the propaganda mouthpiece of President Putin, they would say that, wouldn't they?

But leave aside the politicking and powerplay, and listen to the nun, for she is concerned only with the truth. As Assad continues to deny - quite vehemently - that his regime was responsible for the gas attack, Mother Agnes highlights the hypocrisy, deception and double standards among Western governments and the Western media. On August 5th, for example, Western-backed insurgents went on a murderous rampage in several Alawite villages, killing more than 500 innocent civilians. Western governments pretended it did not happen, and the MSM obliged their governments in a conspiracy of silence. Mother Agnes told RT:
What I want to ask first of all is how the international community can ignore the brutal killing spree in Latakia on Laylat al-Qadr early in the morning of August 5, an attack that affected more than 500 people, including children, women and the elderly. They were all slaughtered. The atrocities committed exceed any scale. But there was close to nothing about it in the international mass media. There was only one small article in “The Independent”, I believe.

We sent our delegation to these villages, and our people had a look at the situation on-site, talked to the locals, and most importantly – talked to the survivors of the massacre.

I don’t understand why the Western media apply double standards in this case – they talk about mass murder that the use of chemical weapons resulted in non-stop, but they keep quiet about the Latakia massacre...

A total of twelve Alawite villages were subjected to this horrendous attack. That was a true slaughterhouse. People were mutilated and beheaded. There is even a video that shows a girl being dismembered alive – alive! – by a frame saw. The final death toll exceeded 400, with 150 to 200 people taken hostage. Later some of the hostages were killed, their deaths filmed.
Asked about the persecution of Christians in Syria, Mother Agnes was quick to point out that not only Christians, but also many Muslims are being murdered by the Western-supported insurgents in Syria. She said that the insurgents are emboldened to commit even more gruesome atrocities because they feel they have the backing of Western powers:
I would like to say that if these butchers didn’t have international support, no one would have dared to cross the line. But today, unfortunately, the violation of human rights and genocide in Syria is covered up on the international level. I demand the international community stops assessing the situation in Syria in accordance with the interests of a certain group of great powers. The Syrian people are being killed. They fall victim to contractors, who are provided with weapons and sent to Syria to kill as many people as possible. The truth is, everywhere in Syria people are being kidnapped, tortured, raped and robbed.
So while Dave, Barack and François are obsessed with a few YouTube videos that purport to show a few hundred killed in some sort of chemical attack, there is a cover-up - not to mention a wall of silence - about the thousands who have died in atrocities committed by their 'rebel' allies. At the very least, questions need asking about the 'intelligence' being presented US Secretary of State John Kerry. As part of a scripted speech against Assad, he referred to these photographs (and accompanying videos) and constantly uses the words “our own eyes” and “seeing.” He even asked that the videos be watched by the general public. Mother Agnes has ably assisted:

In the top picture, note the little boy in the red shirt. In the second picture, at least nine children have been transported from Kafarbatna (left) to the Al Marj Region and carefully positioned "without any medical or humanitarian explanation", Mother Agnes claims. These same children are being carted around to different locations in order to exaggerate and distort truth. The report also highlights the fact that there have been no public funerals or announcements about all these dead children. In the footage of one of the few recorded burials, three bodies are not covered in white shrouds, which is a mandatory funeral ritual. "Were these people murdered by the insurgents and disrespectfully buried without the proper rituals as a sign of disdain?"

Whatever position one takes on Syria, it is the responsibility of us all to seek the truth as far as we are able. Mother Agnes Mariam is a humble nun, but her intelligence report is illuminating. It is not, however, really surprising. The shocking thing is that the bodies of dead children are being prostituted to justify military intervention. Sorry, but we are sick of dodgy dossiers.


Blogger Conchúr said...

She's not a Roman Catholic, she's a Melkite.

21 September 2013 at 10:30  
Blogger Peter D said...

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church and is in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church.

21 September 2013 at 10:45  
Blogger Irene's Daughter said...

Peter D and Conchur,

I am appalled. HG's article is about the possible (no! likely) dissemination of lies about the true perpetrators of brutal acts. And all you are concerned about is whether this nun is a 'true' Roman Catholic. You disgust me.

21 September 2013 at 10:52  
Blogger David B said...

Sick of dodgy dossiers indeed.

Something that should unite all of us, regardless of the colour of our politics, or what religion we hold or none.


21 September 2013 at 10:57  
Blogger Julia Gasper said...

The nun is a wonderful woman and the work she is doing in invaluable. Documents from Turkey have already indicated that the Syrian rebels are getting supplies of chemical weapons from there. The photographs are indeed faked, and another sign that should arouse our suspicion is that the children in all of them are so clean and tidy. If really killed by sarin gas they would be in a terrible state." As the victim continues to lose control of bodily functions, the victim vomits, defecates and urinates." (Wikipedia). There would be blood dribbling out of their mouths and distraught facial expressions.
These children are just recruited from a drama class and told to lie on the floor while someone takes pictures.

21 September 2013 at 11:03  
Blogger Peter D said...

Irene's Daughter
I was correcting what appeared to me a slur on this Christian Nun - not claiming her as Catholic. For all that it matters, she could be a Muslim and her account would still need to be heard.

So save your disgust for those behind this atrocity and the manipulation of dead children.

21 September 2013 at 11:20  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

I have just read in the Telegraph that Turkish rebels have fired rockets at the police in Ankara. If rebels in a fairly stable country can get hold of rockets, I can see no reason why rebels in Syria can't do the same. If they can capture rockets, why can't they also capture chemical weapons? As for "Why would rebels want to kill their own", it is quite clear that extremist Al-Quaeda supporters are moving in and fighting both the the original rebels and Assad, and my instinct suggests that it is these extremists who used the gas.

21 September 2013 at 11:38  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Anyone one familiar with the 'evidence' against Israeli forces brutality on civilians supplied by the propaganda outfit known as Palliwood, will not be surprised that the modus operandi is being deployed to dupe gullible westerners in Syria.

Most famous of course is the scene where a father OP is protecting his son from bullets from and Israeli OP. Footage shot from a wider angle reveals how blatantly false this event was. And who can forget 'Rage-Boy' and the fake shots of dead children under rubble only to be likewise arranged then replaced and partially re-interred in other damaged locations.

If anyone heard the report on Today this morning, will have heard a British reporter for once telling the truth about the depth of the AQ incursion in Syria and their intent on using it, as a staging position for incursion in to Jordan and then throughout the ME. They are in it for the long haul and via the Saudi oil wells. Meanwhile hobby-jihadis trot back and fort from the UK to the battle grounds of their choice while we all focus on whether we should ban the niqab and reporters stress out accusingly over the absence of minority faces on a UKIP programme cover.

21 September 2013 at 12:11  
Blogger David B said...

I've posted a link to this on Secular Cafe, as I think it needs to be better known. In a thread entitled 'Syrian rebels split' in our politics section, if anyone apart from me is is interested in seeing reactions to it, if any.


21 September 2013 at 12:17  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

An excellent but truly disturbing piece, but somehow I am not surprised...lies and subterfuge, secret agendas and deals with the devil seem embedded in world politics these days... the nun is brave to speak out and deserves to be why isn't the media listening?

21 September 2013 at 12:29  
Blogger Nick said...

The report is compelling reading and raises very serious questions about the authenticity of the images.

It also raises a point which I have often contemplated: is the West's gullibility to such propaganda actually encouraging groups like the FSA to rise up and commit atrocities, knowing the Western media and governments will fall for it hook line and sinker, and call for military intervention on their side? Are people like the FSA simply getting too good at manipulating the West.

My conclusion is that whatever we see or read in our media; treat it as propaganda until proved otherwise.

21 September 2013 at 12:30  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I request the site owner permission to display link exposing the propaganda.

21 September 2013 at 12:52  
Blogger bluedog said...

Disgust, dismay, frustration and powerlessness are the emotions that come to mind when one reads about Syria. It seems that the civil authority (if Assad can be called that) has lost control and that the country is descending into bloody anarchy. As Dreadnaught infers and as this communicant believes, Saudi Arabia is the root of all evil in the Middle East. The West needs to recognise this and devise a plan to effect regime change. All hell will break loose when the Saudi monarchy falls, but it will be preferably to the current boiling frog situation. Dominoes, anyone?

21 September 2013 at 13:04  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

Thank God for this brave woman - and perhaps we should all add to our prayers tonight the heartflet request that she does not end up with a nasty "accident" herself for speaking the truth at a time when nobody seems to want the truth.

According to Medecins Sans Frontiers who have to be as close to a neutral party as it is possible to get, there is very little doubt that sarin or a similar neurotoxic agent was used.

But it is clear that there is something seriously wrong with these terrible photographs, and please God the truth comes out before worse follows.

21 September 2013 at 13:32  
Blogger LEN said...

Mother Agnes Mariam is a humble nun and she seems to be more concerned about uncovering the truth about what is actually happening than some of the so called 'intelligence gatherers 'who are either pursuing their own agendas or just plain incompetent.
'The West' need to be extremely clear about the real situation in Syria and other similar situations before it even considers intervention.

21 September 2013 at 13:40  
Blogger Peter D said...

Nick said ...
"It also raises a point which I have often contemplated: is the West's gullibility to such propaganda actually encouraging groups like the FSA to rise up and commit atrocities ..."

Be careful if you're laying this at the door of the Free Syria Army - its more likely to be Jihadists. The opposition forces in Syria are many and have complex relationships. Currently, the Islamist factions appear to be at war with one another and with the FSA.

Whilst most of the FSA's members are Sunni Arabs - they may or may not be Jihadists. From what one can work out (can anyone figure any of this out?) the Al-Nusra Front is an Al Qaeda associate group. They are Sunni Islamist Mujahedeen, with the sole goal of overthrowing Assad and creating a Pan-Islamic state under Sharia to reinstate the Caliphate. Al-Qaeda, as we know, instigates sectarian violence among Muslims and denounce all groups other than Sunni Muslims. It goes without saying they hate Christians - and Jews!

21 September 2013 at 13:56  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Thank you, Your Grace. Historian Tom Holland talks of ‘the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace’, something that seems to be of little concern to Dave, Barack and François. With their enthusiastic support for the rebels, most recently manifested in the plan to bomb President Assad’s forces on the flimsiest of excuses, one could even surmise that the extinction must be proceeding a little too indecisively for London, Washington and Paris.

The extinction of Christianity in the Middle East and the expansion of Islam in Europe. How our leaders do dance to Saudi Arabia’s tune.

@ bluedog (13:04)—If Juhayman al-Otaibi had had his way, the Saudi monarchy would have fallen in 1979.

21 September 2013 at 14:23  
Blogger Peter D said...

"Saudi Arabia is the root of all evil in the Middle East"

Agreed .... and not just in that region. Its tentacles have spread.
It spends billions exporting its virulent form of Islam in the West.

"The West needs to recognise this and devise a plan to effect regime change. All hell will break loose when the Saudi monarchy falls ...."

Which is widely recognised and why the West is paralysed.

21 September 2013 at 14:24  
Blogger Anglican said...

Why does the West support Saudi Arabia? Oil.

21 September 2013 at 15:40  
Blogger non mouse said...

I once had a brief conversation with one of those ruling arabian types. Can't remember the overall gist of it, only his sneer as he ended: "But the British are so weak." He shrugged off my request for explanation: "They are just weak."


One really wonders how long all this has been going on. I know Huxley (1932) told us it was going to happen; what I don't know is (apart from the Fabian Society) how he knew. ...

His lordship Mustapha Mond! the eyes of the saluting students almost popped out of their heads. Mustapha Mond! The Resident Controller for Western Europe. One of the ten World Controllers ... [he spoke to them] straight from the mouth of Ford himself. (Brave New World 33. )
[[New York: Harper Perennial ed; 1969]]

21 September 2013 at 16:42  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Non Mouse

I quite agree with your Arabian friend.

Britain refuses time and time again to do what is necessary and be what it needs to be, for its own long term best interest.

Soon it will not be possible for Britain to do these things for ourselves.

Then step forward "His lordship Mustapha" or someone similar.

How long have we got left to change ourselves? Depends if we start down the road soon. No sign of that happening yet. Anyway we don't have to our current leaders are doing so well...

End of an era? But we have a plan right? No the current plan seems to be let’s carry on with bread and circuses while we can and keep everyone happy for as long as we can and rubbish and despise truth, virtue, honour, family and anything conneced with Christian principles.

Bygone age mate. So leaders like Clegg and Cameron tell us with every action and example.


21 September 2013 at 17:56  
Blogger Conchúr said...

Peter D:

I'm well aware that Melkites are in communion with Rome. My point was she is not a Roman (i.e. Latin) Catholic.

21 September 2013 at 17:58  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Phil. You're right - doesn't look as if we can turn things around at the present rate! I reckon we don't even have any leaders - the people who set themselves up as "elect" are really anything but.

PS: The personage and I were not friends - it was just a passing conversation. This was way back in the late '60s, and I don't even remember a name or place (it was somewhere in the Middle East).

21 September 2013 at 18:41  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

@Non mouse

So the UK is weak, is it? Compared with what other countries? Was your Arabian friend thinking of his own country? What is his excuse, then, for the Saudis—and, come to that, the Sunni-controlled states as a whole—having done nothing to resist Iranian expansionism? Why do they sit back and wait for the “weak” West to do their dirty work for them, rather than take matters into their own hands?

Part of the answer, at least, is here. It’s over ten years old now, but I believe still fully relevant.

21 September 2013 at 18:55  
Blogger non mouse said...

Uncle Brian -

In those days, certainly, it was unusual to have such an insult paid to one's British face. That's why it has been so memorable. However, as a female guest among other Brits in his desert dry heaven (not Persia/Iran), I would not have ventured into further conversation even had I wished. I expect he was expressing his true opinion though - it wouldn't matter if he said such a thing to an inconsequential girl with an expressive face!

In those days I knew nothing about their 'jarring sects' - though I had memorised old Omar's "Rubaiyat" in earlier years. I thought we were all Abrahamic and believed in the same God! How differently one sees things as devolution unfolds before us ....

21 September 2013 at 19:46  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Uncle Brian,

I read your "Why Arabs lose wars" links. All very interesting and well explained by the experienced western military personnel, but not that surprising really. Was it Nelson who said, " It's not the ships it's the men in them" , and I have always found that to be very true in all aspects of life. Culture is the biggest determinant of success, whether it is a family, a firm or an entire country. But that's not PC is it ? Must be true then !

21 September 2013 at 20:15  
Blogger non mouse said...

I read it too, Uncle Brian. What I find interesting (and horrifying) is the parallel that system has with the Marxist/Authoritarian one ... the one that I see gaining ground in Western education.

How long before our own military culture follows suit?

21 September 2013 at 21:01  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

non mouse

I certainly agree that the Middle East looked very different back in the sixties. I had no particular interest in what was going on there then, because it seemed to be nothing more than a subplot to the Cold War, with the main action taking place in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and, of course, Vietnam.

I read recently that Eisenhower eventually changed his mind about Suez. He had opposed the British-French-Israeli attack at the time, only because his advisers were telling him it would drive Nasser into the arms of the Soviet Union. But when it became apparent that Nasser’s reaction to Ike’s helping hand was simply to become ever more insistently anti-West and anti-US, he came to regret that his action had prevented Britain and France from playing a constructive role in the region. Perhaps that was what people in the Arab countries were talking about at the time of your trip.

Non mouse, now that you've read the De Atkine article, let me ask you this: Does your own experience from your Middle East travels point in the same direction?

21 September 2013 at 21:07  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

David Hussell

But that's not PC is it ? Must be true then !

Have you copyrighted that? If not, be warned: I intend to plagiarize it mercilessly on other blogs.

21 September 2013 at 21:13  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Uncle Brian,

As a fellow anti-PC enthusiast, not only do you NOT have to pay me my copyright fee, but you have my total encouragement to use it !

21 September 2013 at 21:40  
Blogger Liss Nup said...

Many thanks to your Grace for publishing this important information and the unmistakable evidence of falsified videos alleged to show victims of the reported 21 August attack. These videos were aired on US TV on the night of Secretary Kerry's statement, and I recall how I felt at the time, that there was something very disquieting, and vaguely hypnotic, about the way the news anchor delivered the segment.

The key issue for me is, what happened to these innocent children? Were they drugged to stage the videos, then resuscitated? Are they being held somewhere, or were they murdered by the evil group who masterminded this outrage?
We also need to focus on what this discovery reveals - that only a group which was planning to conduct a chemical weapon attack (whether real or false), would also plan and create these fake videos to support its claims. The reported time of the attack, and the times at which the videos were published, when considered in light of the same children appearing in multiple videos, is evidence that they had to be planned and created in advance.

21 September 2013 at 21:46  
Blogger bluedog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

21 September 2013 at 21:48  
Blogger bluedog said...

JR @ 14.23, Juhayman al-Otaibi looks as nutty as a fruit-cake. Anyway, another one bites the dust.

It is possible with the efflux of time that the 2003 attack on Iraq will be recognised for the mistake that it was, Carl Jacobs notwithstanding. It seems essential to recall that the vast majority of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi citizens and that Osama bin-Laden was a product of the Saudi establishment. While there is no suggestion that the Saudi state had direct involvement in the 9/11 attacks, there is little doubt that a broad cross-section of Saudi society, from the top to the bottom, was in sympathy with the motives of the attackers.

Nothing has changed in that regard and we can see the extent of Saudi duplicity in Prince Bandar's recent trip to Moscow where he tried to draft Russia into an expanded OPEC. The Russians seem to have refused. So here we have a senior member of the Saudi royal family actively conspiring to damage Western interests, only a month ago.

Exactly why do we tolerate this behaviour? Saudi Arabia is rotten to the core. One push and the whole rotten structure will collapse in a cloud of desert dust. Rather than bombing Syria, the West should unite to bomb Riyadh, which should have been done in 2003. Let's not fret that the end of the Saudi regime will lead to an Iranian takeover, it won't.

Only by eliminating the Al Saud regime will we stop the subversion of the West by Wahabism funded by the Saudi royal family.

21 September 2013 at 21:51  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Under the title “When Western political correctness meets Arab democracy”, Haaretz has an interesting take on the thinking behind the Western countries’ reasons for supporting the rebels in Syria. An excerpt:

“What preserved the status of Iraq’s Christians was actually Saddam's tyrannical regime, while in Syria, President Bashar Assad argues - quite rightly - that his regime was what protected the Christians, and to some extent the Druze, from oppression by the Sunni majority. It is also no coincidence that Saddam’s foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, was a Christian, as is Walid Muallem, the foreign minister of the Assad regime; these were not merely token appointments, but reflect a much deeper reality.”

21 September 2013 at 22:40  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ bluedog (21:51)—Among the young Saudis I knew, Juhayman was something of a folk hero for his opposition to the ruling dynasty. Whether those Saudis would have welcomed Juhayman’s unforgivingly strict interpretation of Islam is another matter.

I imagine the West tolerates the dynasty out of fear that any successor regime would be even worse. The House of Saud is undeniably rotten but its hold over the country, springing from a cunning combination of fear of Allah and fear of the secret police, seems as secure as ever.

21 September 2013 at 23:22  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Johnny Rottenborough

"Any successor regime", Johnny? The only analyses I've seen (only two or three of them, over a space of several years) suggest that Saudi Arabia wouldn't survive as a unified country. They disagree, hwoever, on how many independent states would arise to replace the desert kingdom: only two or three, some say, while others seem to expect a much larger number.

22 September 2013 at 00:16  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

This is just wild speculation on my part, but as a result of thinking about Western intervention in Syria in terms of ideas about imperialism and empire, I did start to wonder if Saudi Arabia represents an aspiring empire of its own.

We tend to be alert to the Russians and the Chinese, though the latter's increasing in-roads in Africa don't seem to have had quite as wide a circulation as I might have expected. As someone who is largely, if not completely, ignorant on Saudi Arabia I wondered if its present manoeuvring might be considered to be loosely analogous to German expansion at the end of the 19th Century. Even if that's a pretty crass comparison, I wonder if other better-informed commentators might be able to shed some light.

22 September 2013 at 02:54  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Bluedog:"Only by eliminating the Al Saud regime will we stop the subversion of the West by Wahabism funded by the Saudi royal family."

We should certainly be challenging Wahhabism at every opportunity. I wish commentators, documentary writers, politicians and so on would pick this up and run with it.

22 September 2013 at 04:55  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Uncle Brian,

The end of The House of Saud, fascinating . So what sources have you read conjecturing the end of the Saudi regime, may I inquire ?

22 September 2013 at 08:39  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

David Hussell

I'm afraid I can't name exact sources. Web sites, not books, but I never downloaded anything. Possibly just newspapers and magazines. As I said, it was only a handful of articles, two or three spaced out over a period of several years.

There was a book called The House of Saud, by a Financial Times journalist. It came out in about 1980, I think, but nobody (as far as I know) was speculating about the disintegration of the desert kingdom as long ago as that.

22 September 2013 at 09:45  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

"Only by eliminating the Al Saud regime will we stop the subversion of the West by Wahabism funded by the Saudi royal family."

No. Subversion, terrorism, infiltration and demographic jihad are intrinsic to Islam. If you cut off this particular head of the Hydra, several more will sprout to replace it.

22 September 2013 at 10:04  
Blogger IanCad said...

bluedog, @ 21:51

Thanks for posting that.
It saves me the effort.

22 September 2013 at 10:15  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

"Only by eliminating the Al Saud regime will we stop the subversion of the West by Wahabism funded by the Saudi royal family."

Sorry, but the Genie is out of the bottle for the forseeable future as far as Wahabism is concerned. And it's not only the Saudi RF; similar regemes exist in Qtar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Abu Dahbi. We will not see any improvement in our own affairs until we no longer need Gulf oil to lubricate our economic machine.

Oil in vast quantities has recently
been discovered in deep water off Brazil. The West has to find new fields in the oceans and limit trading weapons technology for oil with the Arabs - as things stand, they have us over the proverbial barell.

22 September 2013 at 11:22  
Blogger bluedog said...

Mr DanJO @ 04.55, if you go to Daily Telegraph/blogs/Charles Crawford and see his post dated 13th September, in the comments section, best rating, this communicant rode the coat tails of another post to throw a hand grenade at the House of Saud.

Scroll down and you will see a further post on the same topic by Mr Rottenborough.

Aggregate 'likes' are considerable.

22 September 2013 at 11:54  
Blogger bluedog said...

An excellent question, Mr AIB @ 02.54

Perhaps we should refine your question to ask, is Saudi Arabia the new Caliphate? Without being better informed than the average citizen, one can hold the Saudis against a number of yardsticks and ask, do they qualify as a superpower?

Conventional military – no, very weak and technically dependent on the West, but they allegedly brag that they can get nukes in an afternoon (from Pakistan).
Cultural – yes. In a sense they own Arabic, the global lingua franca of Islam.
Religion – yes. As keepers of the holy places they own the critical infrastructure of Islam. As a major Sunni nation with their own Wahabi sect, the Saudis are able to leverage off their legacy position as keepers of the holy places, thus increasing their influence within Islam.
Resources – yes, 25% of global oil supplies.
Financial – yes, huge USD reserves and other offshore investments
Diplomatic – yes, based on immense wealth and cultural/religious influence.
Political – yes, as Hashemite monarchs the Al-Saud family enjoy a certain legitimacy. Note that Arab monarchies rarely fail but Arab dictatorships tend to be relatively short-lived.
Tourism – yes, the annual Haj dominates global aviation in the relevant period and provides the House of Saud with an unrivalled opportunity to network with the rest of the Islamic world.

Summarising the above, one can say that from a military perspective, Saudi Arabia remains a US protectorate as it has been since the deal was struck between Abdul-aziz and Aramco in the 1920s. There seems little doubt that Saudi Arabia is a most important and effective agent of influence. Communicants do not need to be told that the Saudi client in this agency relationship is the misnamed religion of peace.

The recent trip by Saudi Prince Bandar to Moscow appears to have been something of a watershed, he badly overplayed his hand. Significantly the Russians do not seem to feel any inhibitions about being indiscreet about Prince Bandar’s comments. What would have astounded the Russians was Bandar’s boast that he could turn the Chechens on and off. Given the blood spilt by Russia in the Caucasus and suffered in terrorist attacks elsewhere within Russia, Moscow was possibly not the right place to make this boast. The offer to Russia of joining OPEC so as to jack up energy prices seems to have fallen flat too. The Russians would be well aware that a great deal of the trouble in the Middle East arises from the proxy war between Sunni Saudi and Shia Iran. With a large Islamic population in southern Russia and the Caucasus, the Russians may be extremely nervous about potential developments in this dispute. A gung-ho stream of conscious from a Saudi prince appears to have inspired Russia to seek a peaceful resolution of matters in Syria with the West on surprisingly equitable terms.

In short, we may conclude that the Russians now appear to share the concerns of His Grace’s communicants with regard to Saudi Arabia.

Of course if you are a Western politician (or third world anthropologist, take your pick) brought up as a Sunni Muslim in Indonesia, you may see Saudi Arabia in a very different light. The US-Saudi relationship undoubtedly entails huge institutional inertia, just as the US-Iranian antipathy enjoys similar inertia. Fortunately the US is no longer dependent on Saudi oil. Will this lead to a re-appraisal of the US relationship with the House of Saud?

22 September 2013 at 11:57  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Uncle Brian (00:16)—If the oil were still flowing, a post-Saud regime based in Riyadh would definitely want to keep the Eastern Province, and I think the other provinces would continue to owe their allegiance to whoever controlled the purse strings, much as at present. When the oil and the barrowloads of money dry up, it’s anybody’s guess. The Eastern Province is majority Shi’a, the area around Ha’il had some difference of opinion with the Al-Saud that still rankles on both sides, the Hijaz is more easy-going than the interior and the south-west around Abha is a different country, cooler and wetter. On top of all that are the tribal affiliations.

@ AnonymousInBelfast (02:54)—To add to bluedog’s comprehensive summary, your analogy is accurate save that the Arabian Sunni monarchies’ empire building is motivated by the demands of their faith to a far greater extent than the European empires were motivated by spreading Christianity.

22 September 2013 at 12:01  
Blogger non mouse said...

Thank you Mr. bluedog and Mr. Rottenborough for some excellent and informative posts.

Uncle Brian 21 Sep. @ 21:07 - Clearly the gentlemen above know the area in question as I neither could nor would! Suez (in 1956) was already an old memory by the time of my transits through the ME - but I do think you raise a good point. The crisis had highlighted Britain's lowered - and falling - status in world affairs.

And yes ... the present situation awakens echoes of that one. The differences (in allegiances, e.g) are perhaps signicant.

22 September 2013 at 15:54  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Rejoice, the children are risen !

Well actually, they were of course, never dead. So don’t be surprised if they pop up again in “Sarin – The Story Continues”

Decomposition of a human body occurs somewhat rapidly in hot climes. Manifested for example by flies congregating around the mouth, hoping to enter and lay eggs in the carcass. You see, flies can actually smell the early gasses of rot leaving the body, and from a distance too, long before it is detectable to human senses. Hence the Arabic need to get the thing underground, post haste.

And the lighting, can you appreciate it ? As professional photographers will tell you, “any fool can click a camera, but the lighting - now that’s where the skill lies”

22 September 2013 at 16:29  
Blogger John Thomas said...

"why isn't the media listening?" - now use some sense, Mrs. Proudie, the MSM is controlled by the Western establishment which has Obama at its head, who is well known for his only-slightly-covert support for the jihadist cause. That's why "the media isn't listening"; so now you - we all - know. Sorted.

22 September 2013 at 17:47  
Blogger Brian Gould said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

22 September 2013 at 19:01  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

non mouse and Johnny Rottenborough

Thank you both for your helpful replies to my queries.

22 September 2013 at 19:06  
Blogger Janestree said...

What does it matter if she is one form of Catholic or another form...Does it matter that a person wears white and another wears black. If we continue to get trapped and hung up on the little things in life that do not matter then we forget about what it is all about for the things that matter.

The bottom line is that it is not about being Catholic, Jew, or Christian, it is about what is happening to the people of Syria within Syria and that the Western World knows nothing about...

Don't allow trivial things, foxes, to spoil the vines of life of what truly matters...

23 September 2013 at 13:56  

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