Thursday, April 21, 2016

Gulf states and Obama's visit. The vultures plan ahead.

Sure, these guys will make the world a better place. They like flowers.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

With not a hint of humility but plenty of arrogance, Barack Obama, the top representative of US imperialism is in the Middle East to “broker” some sort of peaceful existence between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Yes, the spokesperson for US capitalism, the force that overthrew the secular, democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 and replaced it with a mass murderer and that committed the most heinous war crimes in destroying the country of Iraq, after decades stirring up animosity between the nations in this region, is over there singing Cumbaya.

Obama is meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council, a collection of US imperialism’s staunchest allies in the region outside of Israel. If ever there was a group of characters that make the gathering around the table in the movie “Airport” look like a Sesame Street party the GCC is it.  The GCC’s members are: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  They are all vicious undemocratic regimes, monarchies most of them including absolute monarchies.  They are basically nation states run by families of billionaires.  They survive with Washington’s blessing and armed to the teeth by the US taxpayer.  There have been huge protests in Bahrain for democratic rights, against religious and other forms of discrimination and the regime responded with brutality, even imprisoning doctors that tended the injured protestors. This all took place in the presence of 15,000 US troops there to protect the ruling elite from the people.

The Saudi’s with US support have been waging a violent war in Yemen and as is always the case these days, hospitals, civilians anything or anyone that gets in the way is fair game. As the war criminal Henry Kissinger said with regard to the US bombing of Cambodia, “Everything that flies on everything that moves”. And the Saudi’s have excellent hi tech US weaponry and planes.  But, we are told, Iran is the meddler in Yemen.

“Ultimately, this is a conflict between the GCC and Iran, in particular between Saudi Arabia and Iran…” says a “senior” Obama Administration official quoted in the Wall Street Journal. The same official goes on to say that this conflict between these two nations “…has been a driver of some of the chaos and instability and the sectarianism that we have seen in the region.”

People throughout the world, workers in the Middle East, victims of US and before them, British meddling in the region must choke when they hear stuff like that. Those parroting such rubbish don’t care of course, what matters to them is that the US population believes it. The rest of the world doesn’t matter.

“You need a different kind of relationship between the Gulf Countries and Iran----one that’s less prone to proxy conflicts----and that’s something that would be good for the region as a whole.”, the unnamed Administration official tells the WSJ.

What is good for US imperialism and its flunkies in the region is what this official is referring to. The Iranian Mullah’s, themselves a product of Western meddling in Iran’s affairs, particularly the overthrow of its democratically elected government in 1953 and installation of a dictator, would, if at all possible, make deals with Washington were Washington not so intransigent.  There is a long history of political struggle and a powerful labor movement in Iran, particularly the oil industry very similar to Iraq under Hussein.  The Gulf States are all despotic regimes that maintain their rule with US backing.  The Iranian working class is potentially too powerful, poses too much of a threat.

It is unlikely that Obama will meet with the Kuwaiti oil workers that returned to work this week after a three-day strike against privatization and pay cuts.  But in general most of these wealthy oil rich states rely on imported labor. Workers come from Nepal, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and also Palestine, often sold in to a slavery basically.  There have been numerous cases of Filipino maids working for wealthy Saudi’s who have been raped, brutally mutilated or killed by their employers.,

Obama also met with Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed, he’s the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. He’s worth about $20 billion.  Obama discussed how they can deal with their old friends in ISIS. I commented on this nasty character some time back
 The Emirates do not allow political parties or elections. There is no freedom of the press and of course the country is governed by Sharia law so flogging and stoning is acceptable punishment and many migrant workers, most from South Asia, places like Bangladesh and Pakistan, are the recipients of it. Eighty lashes is the standard, for alcohol consumption for example, but you can get up to 200. Kissing in public is illegal but, like most of the ruling classes in this part of the world, they can go to Europe or LA where expensive call girls and liquor are easily available.”

NYU professor Andrew Ross was barred from entering Abu Dhabi after he published research about the migrant worker abuse.  NYU was having a campus built there.  He talks about this here.

Nothing good for the masses of the population, for the workers and the middle class of the Middle East or the migrant laborers can come from a gathering of gangsters like this one, only more violence, more turmoil.  US foreign policy in the region has been a catastrophe for the millions of people in the region.  It has propped up or installed one murderous regime after another in defense of its interests there, oil on the one hand and its geo-political interests. 

The great benefactors of US foreign policy are obvious for all to see. Of the top ten buyers of US arms in 2015, six of them were despotic Middle East regimes, four of them members of the so-called Gulf Cooperation Council. (Source WSJ)

 (1) Saudi Arabia $1.7 billion
 (3) United Arab Emirates $903 million
 (4) Iraq $705 million
 (6) Egypt $585 million
 (7) Qatar $525 million
 (9) Kuwait $366 million

Obama boasted that in this visit, these nations promised to help Iraq. Don’t laugh please. I was in Iraq in the 1970’s. The CIA’s man Saddam Hussein was in power. It was perhaps one of the most secular of the states in the region. I never felt threatened.  I was never stopped or harassed, instead, I was treated with kindness and generosity.  It was more “Western” than any of these Gulf States in that women had more freedom unlike in Saudi Arabia where they can receive public lashings for getting themselves gang raped and Islamic extremism was non existent, or not open anyway. And yes, they had running water and electricity 24 hours a day and perhaps one million more people before the US decided to liberate them. A cost that Madeline Albright said was “worth it”.  What a hero she is, what sacrifice. Hussein was a  dictator, but if you stayed out of politics, life was much better than today.

I am obviously no supporter of the Theocracy that rules Iran. But Obama calling Iran a major destabilizing factor in the region is unreal.  Apart from the US itself, the most destabilizing factor in the region was not mentioned in the reports I read and that is Israel. This is the elephant in the room, Israel is off the table. Israel reportedly has a 200 nuclear weapon stockpile but refuses to allow inspectors to check its arsenal and refuses to even comment on it and is backed up by the US. Yet Israel and the US repeatedly threatens Iran with annihilation if it develops nuclear weapons, this has been a big selling point for Hillary Clinton. Israel is the only nuclear power in the region yet it is Iran we are supposed to fear.

And Israel was left off the list above but it receives some $3 billion a year in military aid from the US taxpayer (don’t complain about your services being cut if you support this). “Since it began in 1962, American military aid to Israel has amounted to nearly $100 billion. For the past decades the United States has been regularly transferring aid of about $3 billion annually. In recent years, the aid has been solely for defense purposes. Additionally, the U.S. has been giving Israel generous military aid for projects that are important both to it and to Israel.” Haaretz Aug 2014

The humanitarian crisis in the Middle East has no end in sight. We are not taught to think in terms of economic systems, of political systems but of individuals and our human frailties, greed and character flaws. This is especially so in the US where we have no working class, just the elite, the poor and a middle class of which I was accused of being a part despite being a laborer all my life basically. I was terribly insulted as I had no desire at all to be what I considered middle class.

But since my travels from Istanbul to Basra some 45 years ago a lot has changed. Capitalism speeds from crisis to crisis. Nuclear waste and fossil fuels are poured in to our oceans along with all sorts of pollutant and plastics making the destruction of life as we know it a probability if the working class does not change society. In the age of nuclear weapons regional wars break out throughout the globe as nation states begin to break down and in some parts of the former colonial world remnants of ancient feudal regimes resist imperial powers.  Hundreds of millions of workers are transported and sold each year. Women are traded like cattle and entire nations are bombed in to antiquity by the mightiest power of them all as it seeks to fashion a world after its own image as Marx said many years ago:

 The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere………….. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

Despite the shifting of the Industrial working class to the East the revolutionary overthrow of a decaying and violent system will not be possible without the US working class settling accounts with its own bourgeois. The hundreds of millions strong Chinese working class will play a huge role in the not so distant future in hastening this process along and ridding itself of the stifling bureaucracy that rules there. Since the slowdown of that economy there has been a massive increase in strikes and protests but like the US media, the Chinese media is extremely censored. The owners of the US media are just smarter at it.

Nothing is guaranteed in this world and it is not guaranteed this situation will not end in a destruction of both great classes, in the end of life as we know it. If we have children, we have grandchildren, it is our obligation to act, to learn from history, of the revolutions and attempts throughout history to change history and build a better future for humanity.  It is important to understand what democratic socialism is, not the Bernie Sanders type, capitalism with a nicer face, and for the working class internationally and especially here in the US, to fulfill the tasks history has set for us.

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