Saudi king turns pro-reform activist, but only for Syria

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Tahir Mustafa

Shawwal 03, 1432 2011-09-01

Main Stories

by Tahir Mustafa (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 7, Shawwal, 1432)

Saudi king Abdullah may appear dour at the ripe old age of 87 and with one leg already in the grave, but he is not without sense of humor. On August 8, he broadcast a message on Saudi television calling on President Bashar al-Asad of Syria to implement “comprehensive and quick reforms” in his country.

Saudi king Abdullah may appear dour at the ripe old age of 87 and with one leg already in the grave, but he is not without sense of humor. On August 8, he broadcast a message on Saudi television calling on President Bashar al-Asad of Syria to implement “comprehensive and quick reforms” in his country. The call for reform was accompanied by the recall of Saudi ambassador from Damascus as well as a threat. The statement read out on Saudi television said: “Saudi Arabia announces the recall of its ambassador for consultations” and the king urges Damascus to “stop the killing machine and the bloodshed… before it is too late.”

What exactly the king meant by “too late” was not clarified unless he intended to tell Asad that in the manner of Bahrain, Saudi forces would invade Syria to implement a policy in reverse: regime change by force. Last March Saudi troops were sent to Bahrain to crush the people’s aspirations for reform and political freedom. The minority Khalifah regime was propped up in power by attacking and brutalizing the people. So why is the call for reforms worthy of support in Syria but not in Bahrain? Equally, why did the Saudi regime crackdown on demands for freedom and reform within its own borders last March? It even mobilized the court ‘ulama to issue a fatwa that demonstrations were haram (forbidden)! Peaceful protesters simply disappeared. Some reform, some freedom.

The Saudi call was preceded by condemnation of the “continuing bloodshed” in Syria by the Arab League. The Saudi-dominated league is little more than a grouping of Arabian potentates that have never found the courage to condemn, much less confront Zionist brutalities against hapless Palestinians. In fact, it periodically calls upon Israel to accept the ‘Abdullah Plan’ for recognition of Israel within 1967 borders. The Zionists have contemptuously dismissed such calls. Has the Saudi king issued any threats against the Zionists much less taking any action against them? Perish the thought.

The Syrian regime has accused the protesters of being “outlaws” and vowed not to surrender to their demands. On August 9, Bashar al-Asad made it clear to visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that while he will listen to friends and allies, he will not relinquish his responsibilities as head of state. “To deal with outlaws who cut off roads, seal towns and terrorize residents is a duty of the state which must defend security and protect the lives of civilians,” state news agency SANA quoted him as saying. Before embarking on his journey to Damascus, Davutoglu received a call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on August 7. During the telephone conversation, Clinton told Davutoglu to press Syria to “return its military to the barracks and release all prisoners,” according to State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

Such demands did not sit well with the Syrians especially in view of an arms smuggling ring intercepted by Lebanese intelligence, as reported by the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar on August 6. Quoting Lebanese army investigators, the paper said a covert shipment of 1,000 assault rifles destined for the Syrian city of Baniyas had been intercepted. The army had also uncovered ties between the smugglers and the political entourage of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is backed by the US and Saudi Arabia. On August 8 al-Safir newspaper quoted a security official: “The recently foiled operation is still under investigation, and there has been highly significant information gleaned from those involved who are affiliated with a prominent tendency in the March 14 alliance. This is not the only operation that they have carried out.” Baniyas is one of a number of cities hit by protests against the regime.

The Lebanese arms shipment was traced to two members of the Tripoli-based Tamim clan, according to al-Akhbar. One of the two suspects was the manager of the tourist seaport of Marina, which is administered by Solidere, a real-estate firm founded by the late billionaire and former premier Rafik Hariri (Saad Hariri’s father) who was assassinated in February 2005.

Lebanese intelligence eavesdropped on discussions between the suspects — two brothers Wassam and Samir Tamim, according to al-Manar television — and an arms dealer, in which the two sides agreed on a down payment of US$100,000 once buyers were shown high-quality Kalashnikov and M-16 rifle samples. The plan was to either ship the rifles in one batch by sea to Baniyas in Syria, or to divide it into smaller batches and smuggle it through Lebanon’s northern border. The suspects and the dealer were followed and arrested by army intelligence forces on July 30, after delivery of the arms in Ras Beirut.

They have reportedly confessed to running over 30 arms-smuggling operations from Marina to Baniyas with the assistance of Mohammad Kabbara, a member of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc tied to Saudi intelligence. Al-Manar stated that the center of operations was Kabbara’s farm in northern Lebanon, adding that this was also a transit point for foreign Salafi fighters traveling to the Syrian city of Homs. The Syrian army has said that in recent fighting near Homs it had detained hundreds of Salafi fighters, including some Afghans, with Lebanese documents, whose transfer to Syria was facilitated by Kabbara.

The March 14 alliance is a coalition of Lebanese political parties hostile to Syria, whose largest member is Saad Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal (“The Future”) movement. Its name comes from the date of the so-called Cedar Revolution of 2005, a series of US-backed and financed street demonstrations that led the Syrian army to evacuate Lebanon after the assassination of the former prime minister on February 14, 2005 in a car bomb explosion. His son Saad served as prime minister from 2009 to January 2011 but he has been closely tied to Saudi, US and Israeli intelligence. Saad receives financial and political support from them.

The Syrian crisis has also cast its shadow on Lebanon’s internal politics with the Hariri group actively involved in arms smuggling to back the Syrian rebels. Even before the Syrian uprising began last March, there were reports of a deep conspiracy being hatched by the US-Zionist-Saudi nexus to undermine and overthrow the Asad regime. A number of exiled Syrians were involved in a clandestine meeting in a Paris café to plot the smuggling of arms into Syria to stage the uprising.

Abdul Halim Khaddam, the former vice president of Syria, Abdul Razzaq Eid, chief of the Damascus Declaration National Council Abroad, former Syrian opposition MP Mamoun Homsi, Farid al-Ghaderi, leader of the self-styled “Reform Party”, Saad Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, his Saudi paymaster, Bandar bin Sultan and even an Emirati crown prince participated in that meeting of conspirators. Al-Ghaderi is an unabashed admirer of Israel and almost certainly on the Zionists’ payroll. Ghadry in his own words: “As a Syrian and a Muslim, I have always had this affinity for the State of Israel. While many Arabs view Israel as a sore implant, I view it as a blessing.” (For details of the US-Saudi-Zionist-Hariri nexus to destabilize Syria, see Crescent International, May 2011).

In light of the revelations about covert arms shipments to Syria by US-Saudi-Zionist-backed Lebanese politicians, something the corporate Western media as well as the tribal-owned al-Jazeera network have deliberately ignored, chances of the Asad regime showing leniency to the demonstrators are slim. In fact, this may be part of a deliberate plan to provoke the Syrian regime into taking more drastic measures against the demonstrators in order to use these as justification for foreign intervention.

Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria, has also been issuing provocative statements against the Syrian regime. These come on the heels of his unauthorized visit, together with his French counterpart, to Hama in July. The move was both undiplomatic as well as provocative. The Syrian government would have been justified in expelling him from the country, a step it did not take for reasons best known to it. Ford, however, has continued to issue threats and other undiplomatic statements against the government in Damascus.

The Saudi call for “reforms” must be viewed against the backdrop of a much larger conspiracy to undermine the Syrian regime in which the plight of the Syrian people is merely a ploy to advance a nefarious agenda of regime change. This in turn is part of the larger plan to undermine the resistance front against Israel. Everything in the Muslim East, it seems, revolves around protecting the Zionist State.

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