As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan came to an end this year, Saudi King Abdullah marked the occasion of Eid al-Fitr with a “generous” donation.
The Saudi monarch revealed that the oil-rich kingdom was donating $100 million to the United Nations’ Center for Counter-Terrorism, based in New York.
With typical sycophancy, the Saudi state-backed Arab News said that the gift from the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques of Islam … underlined the prominent role that he and the kingdom have long played in the challenging campaign, not just against the hidden killers of Al-Qaeda, but also against the distortion of Islam that lure young and impressionable people into the ranks of terror groups”.
Among those congratulating the Saudi king was US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said:
“His majesty’s generous donation, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, demonstrates once again the kingdom’s commitment to supporting multilateral institutions and strengthening international cooperation on counterterrorism.”
It was quite a feat in doublethink and duplicity. Even a mainstream publication like the Business Standard had to admit that there was more than a hint of incongruity. “In announcing the donation, the Saudi ruler has further reaffirmed his nation’s position worldwide, belying some of the misperceptions about Saudi Arabia being a backer and funder of terrorism,” it wrote.
While King Abdullah was spilling Saudi coffers to ostensibly help fight terrorism, Ramadan was ending with thousands of Muslims having their blood spilled by terrorists funded by Saudi Arabia – terrorists of the state and non-state variety alike.
That would explain the generosity of Al Saud. A public relations exercise of enormous magnitude had to be wheeled out to cover up the appalling reality of Saudi-sponsored mayhem and bloodshed, and more, especially because that bloodshed was flowing from Muslims at the behest of the so-called Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
In Iraq, more than 1,000 people lost their lives in car bombs and gun attacks that targeted mainly Shia districts of the capital, Baghdad. It was the highest monthly death toll since 2007, according to UN figures. It is well-known that the House of Saud has been financing extremist Wahhabi groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq over many years – even when these terrorists were killing thousands of soldiers belonging to its American sponsor.
This Saudi role was confirmed recently with the release of classified US cables in which former American ambassador, Christopher Hill, acknowledged that Saudi Arabia was a major backer of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
But the Saudi sponsorship of terrorism is, of course, not confined to Iraq. During this Ramadan, there was a noticeable gear change in increased killings in Syria. Car bombs ripped through the capital, Damascus, and several neighboring districts. One of the deadliest bombings was in Jaramana, in which 18 people were killed on 7 August. It was the second such attack in two weeks on the same district. Then there was the sickening slaughter of more than 120, including women and children, in the village of Khan al-Assal on 27 July. Also, on what should have been the joyous occasion of Eid al-Fitr on 8 August, the holy Shia shrine of Sayyideh Zainab, near Damascus, was attacked with mortars injuring more than 20 pilgrims.
While Muslims were fasting and praying for Ramadan, the House of Saud and its associates were all the time gorging on the deaths of thousands. During the holy Muslim month, it was revealed that Saudi Arabia bought $50 million worth of weapons from Israel to send to its mercenaries – to kill Muslims in Syria. The historic assassination of Imam Ali by treacherous “Muslims” as he knelt saying his Ramadan prayers resonates disturbingly.
All these attacks in Syria were carried out by Takfiri groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and supported by Saudi Arabia. The escalation in terrorism came after Saudi Arabia took over the lead role in the Western-backed regime-change operation in Syria, after Qatar was sidelined in this duty two months ago. It was reported that Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan had earlier used his strong connections with American counterparts in order to oust the smaller Persian Gulf rival from the driving seat.
It was also reported that the Saudi spy chief set about his new task as terror paymaster with zeal, holding meetings with both US and Israeli military to plan the stepping up of attacks across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The method was to intensify sectarian strife through mass killings. The objective was to sow chaos in order to undermine the central governments of those states. That would not only further the regime change agenda in all three countries, it would, very desirably, serve to isolate the main Shia power, Iran.
On 5 August, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Army, General Martin Dempsey, met with Israeli minister for military affairs Moshe Ya’alon in Tel Aviv. Top of the agenda were discussions on Iran and how to undermine the so-called “Axis of Evil,” a defamatory accusation leveled by Ya’alon against Iran, Syria and Lebanon. It is very plausible that Saudi Prince Bandar would have been privy to those discussions given his new US-appointed role as the region’s terror paymaster.
This is the context for the deadly bombing in Beirut this week. More than 20 people, including women and children, were killed when a massive car bomb hit the Zahiyeh district on Wednesday during evening rush hour. Hundreds more were injured in the mainly Shia area, which is strongly supportive of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Two little-known groups reportedly claimed responsibility: The Ayesha Brigade released a video statement gloating that more such violence was to follow soon; another outfit calling itself the Special Forces 313 Brigade also claimed responsibility. They are probably just a front to hide the identity of the real authors of the terrorist act.
The day before the bombing – the second such attack in that area in four weeks – Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah made a defiant televised speech on the seventh anniversary marking the defeat of the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006. Nasrallah also revealed for the first time that Hezbollah carried out the explosion on August 7 that injured four Israeli soldiers after they had illegally entered south Lebanese territory.
Following the Beirut blast, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman voiced the conclusion of many observers when he said that it bore “the fingerprints of Israel.”
The precise identity of who carried out the atrocity in Beirut this week may never be known. But we can be sure that this latest terrorist act is just one part of a continuum of chaos and suffering across the entire region. It is integral with state and non-state terrorism, attempting to unleash sectarian bloodletting between Sunni and Shia and between Muslims and Christians.
The state terrorism that we see in Egypt where hundreds have been killed this week bears the hallmarks of the state terrorism in Bahrain. This is, in turn, is consistent with the terrorism running amok in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. We know this because the same protagonists are involved in all cases. The US, Israeli and Saudi-backed murderous regimes in Egypt and Bahrain are but the official incarnations of the US, Israeli and Saudi-backed terrorist mercenaries who are killing innocent people in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. To this Axis of Evil, we can also add the old colonial states, Britain and France.
Each of these terrorist sponsors has its own particular interests, some of which overlap, some of which may at times seem contradictory. But the bottom line that unites all of them is this: the defeat of democracy.
If democracy – that is, genuine people power and justice over the huge economic resources of the Middle East -were to prevail, then all the members of the nefarious imperialist, Zionist, Wahhabist Axis of Evil would be finished. That is why all of them are aligned to kill democracy using all means necessary, including mass murder of civilians.
And if we were to assign seniority in this axis of evil, it has to be the United States because its capitalist ruling elite has most to lose from democratic freedom, which is something of an irony, given that the phrase “Axis of Evil” was coined by one of its presidents, George W Bush, back in 2003.