Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Letter to Obama

Someone is  gonna get a nice, big,  fat gold chain as a Thank You gift from the Saudis or  from the oil companies profiting from Saudi oil.  Bruce Riedel, the "letter writer"  is trying to paint Saudi Arabia as the main source of oil for the USA, China, India and others and wants us to shiver with fright because according to him the world economy will collapse if Saudi Arabia's present govt. falls and how Obama must do everything in his power to keep that nation safe and secure from a revolution.
Anyway, it's worth a read.  I have posted only a few paragraphs from the long article.

From BrookingsInstitute:
TO: President Obama
FROM: Bruce Riedel

Saudi Arabia is the world’s last absolute monarchy. Like Louis XIV, King Abdallah has complete authority. A revolution in Saudi Arabia remains unlikely but, for the first time, due to the Arab Awakenings, it has become possible. The Saudi royal family has unique strengths and legitimacy; the Kingdom was founded in the 18th century as an alliance between the royal family and an austere Islamic preacher whose followers still partner with the House of Saud to govern the state. Almost alone in the Islamic world it was never conquered by European imperialism. The King is the Custodian of Islam’s two holiest cities. And it has the world’s largest oil company and the world’s largest oil reserves. This combination of religious piety and vast revenues has so far been sufficient to stave off the kind of unrest that has shaken much of the Arab world in recent years.
Nevertheless, revolutionary change in the Kingdom would be a disaster for American interests across the board.  As the world’s swing oil producer, prolonged instability in Saudi Arabia would cause havoc in global oil markets, setting back economic recovery in the West and disrupting economic growth in the East. Saudi Arabia is also America’s oldest ally in the Middle East, a partnership that dates back to 1945; the overthrow of the monarchy would represent a severe setback to America’s position in the region and provide a dramatic strategic windfall for Iran. The small oilrich monarchies of the Gulf would be endangered, as would the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.


Unfortunately, notwithstanding the stakes, the United States has no serious option for heading off a revolution in the Kingdom if it is coming. Since American interests are so intimately tied to the House of Saud, the U.S. does not have the choice of distancing the United States from it in an effort to get on the right side of history. Nevertheless, you should try to reestablish trust with the King and urge him to move more rapidly on his ......

.......Today, the Arab Awakenings pose the most severe test for the Kingdom since its creation. The same demographic challenges that prompted revolution in Egypt and Yemen apply in Saudi Arabia: a very young population and very high underemployment. Extreme gender discrimination, highly restricted freedom of expression, longstanding regional rivalry with revolutionary Iran across the Gulf, and a restive Shia minority add to the explosive potential. In recognition of their vulnerability the Saudi royals have spent over $130 billion since the Arab Awakenings began to try to buy off dissenters at home. Abroad they have sent troops across the King Fahd Causeway to stifle revolution in Bahrain, brokered a political deal in Yemen replacing Ali Abdallah Salih with his deputy, and sought closer unity among the six Gulf Cooperation Council sheikhdoms. They have also invited Jordan and Morocco to join the “kings club.” But they are also pragmatists and have backed revolutions in Libya and Syria that undermine longstanding enemies of the Kingdom, especially Iran..........

.......f an Awakening takes place in Saudi Arabia it will probably look a lot like the revolutions in the other Arab states. Already demonstrations, peaceful and violent, have wracked the oil-rich Eastern Province for over a year. These are Shia protests and thus atypical of the rest of the Kingdom because Shias represent only 10 percent of the population. Shia dissidents in ARAMCO, the Saudi oil company, have also used cyber warfare to attack its computer systems, crashing over 30,000 work-stations this past August. They probably received Iranian help.........

......The United States has no serious options for effecting gradual reform in the Kingdom. The King fears, probably rightly, that power sharing is impossible in an absolutist state. In Bahrain, the Saudis showed clearly their view that opening the door to political pluralism will doom a monarchy. And the King will be distrustful of your counsel on this matter because of the stance that you took against his friend and fellow authoritarian, Hosni Mubarak.

Nevertheless, it is important to try to reestablish trust with the King, who continues to need the United States to counter the external threat he perceives from Iran, and to encourage him quietly to accelerate reforms that he has already indicated a willingness to undertake. But, at the same time, you should plan for the worst. The intelligence community should be directed to make internal developments, not just counter-terrorism, its top priority in the Kingdom now. The U.S. cannot afford a surprise like 1978 and you need to know the players in the opposition, especially the Wahhabi clerics, in depth. You should also take steps to help shore up Saudi Arabia’s smaller neighbors who are staunch allies of the United States and to limit the impact of a disruption of Saudi oil supplies. This will be a formidable challenge but it is essential to preparing for what could be a very black swan......

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