Saudi largesse is throwing money again – in a bid to cover up its bloodstained hands in violence hitting the Middle East and beyond.
The latest public relations gimmick is the “donation” of $3 billion to the Lebanese army made by Saudi King Abdullah at the weekend.
The Saudi cash – twice the national military budget of Lebanon – is being regaled in the Western media as a noble offer to secure Lebanon from recent terror attacks.
The announcement was made during a visit to Riyadh by French President Francois Hollande, who met the Saudi king and the latter’s Lebanese proxy, Saad Hariri.
The new Saudi military aid to Lebanon is tied to the condition that it must be spent on purchasing French weaponry.
Already, the outlines of a sleazy deal are emerging. The above political actors have done much to destabilize Lebanon with violence, which is now being blamed on the wrong people – Shia Hezbollah – thanks to the deft finger work of billionaire Paris-exile Hariri.
One of the main protagonists of terrorism – Saudi Arabia – now steps in with a military aid “gift” that will allow it to influence the Lebanese army to go after Saudi enemy Hezbollah.
Such an insidious interference by Saudi Arabia in the internal affairs of Lebanon can only but incite further sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia in that country, which is still recovering from a 15-year civil war.
On top of this, the other main advocate of regional subversion and terrorism – France – stands to receive a handsome payback in weapons sales to the tune of $3 billion.
And all the while, the Western media give this despicable charade a veneer of respectability. It really is astounding how Western media can get away with such distortion.
Saudi blood money and sponsorship of terrorism are carrying out demonic work in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Pakistan and even it could be added in Iran’s peripheral southeast region.
Moreover, the Saudi terror connection can also be traced to the weekend double bombing in the southern Russian city of Volgograd where more than 30 people were killed.
In October, a suicide bomber killed six also in a bus attack in Volgograd. Other cities have also been hit with deadly attacks in Russia’s Dagestan in recent months.
The likely Chechen perpetrators behind those attacks – led by Saudi-linked Doku Umarov – are also involved in waging the Saudi-financed terror war in Syria.
Recall, too, that Saudi spymaster Prince Bandar only a few months ago made veiled threats to Russian leader Vladimir Putin that the Sochi Winter Olympic Games were at risk to acts of sabotage. The Games are set to open on 7 February 2014.
Nevertheless, against this appalling background of provable Saudi-sponsored mayhem – stretching from the Mediterranean to the Russian Caucasus – we have this latest ridiculous Saudi public relations stunt.
Saudi King Abdullah, we are told, is to “grant” $3 billion to “help” the Lebanese army to “beef up its security”. France 24, among others, reported that the military boost “would help the Lebanese army fight … groups like Hezbollah, which has caused a wave of violence in the country.”
The latter claim by France 24 is a risible distortion of the facts. Lebanon has indeed witnessed a wave of violence in recent months, but the main victims of the attacks have been Hezbollah and Shia communities in southern Beirut and Baalbek in the east of the country.
The primary source of this bloodshed in Lebanon is groups linked to Saudi, Israeli and Western intelligence.
For example, the double suicide bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut on 19 November, which killed at least 23 including Iranian cultural attaché [to Beirut Hojjatoleslam] Ebrahim Ansari, was claimed by the Saudi-backed al-Qaeda group known as Abdullah Azzam Brigade.
The Saudi king’s act of generosity to “improve security” in Lebanon should therefore be scoffed at by media instead of praised. But this is the Western media performing its dutiful function of inverting reality.
King Abdullah’s show of magnanimity came two days after a prominent Lebanese Sunni politician, Mohamad Shatah, was assassinated in a massive bomb blast that targeted his car in the capital Beirut on Friday morning.
Western media were quick to highlight claims by Saudi-backed Lebanese political leader Saad Hariri that the perpetrators of Shatah’s murder were Hezbollah. The Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad was also implicated for the killing.
There is no evidence to attribute Shatah’s murder to Hezbollah, other than politicized conjecture. Hezbollah and its Syrian and Iranian allies all categorically condemned the killing.
However, there is strong circumstantial evidence that Shatah may have been liquidated by his geopolitical allies as a nefarious means of triggering further sectarian violence inside Lebanon.
The execution of his murder would have required split-second timing and confidential information of his itinerary. He was on his way to meet members of the Hariri-led March 14 group.
This pattern of fomenting sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia, as well as Christian, has been a staple of Saudi, Israeli and Western intelligence operating to destabilize Syria and Iraq over the past three years.
The splurging of $3 billion by Saudi Arabia to “increase Lebanon’s security” is merely cynical public relations to cover up the real source of violence in that country, as well as providing Riyadh military leverage to go after Hezbollah within Lebanon.
It follows the much bigger precedent of $100 million that Saudi Arabia doled out to the United Nations Anti-Terrorism Center last August.
That donation was made at the end of the Holy Muslim Month of Ramadan as “a gift from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques of Islam”.
In the previous four weeks before that “gift”, some 1,000 Iraqis were killed in terror attacks mainly committed by the Saudi-bankrolled al-Qaeda franchise known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
This same group has been engaging in similar atrocities in neighboring Syria, along with [so-called] al-Nusra Front, [so-called] Liwa al-Tawhid and [so-called] Ahrar al-Sham – all of them Saudi-sponsored.
The simple fact is that the sectarian bloodshed inundating Syria and Iraq, and increasingly now in Lebanon, as well as in countries as far apart as Yemen and Russia, would not be happening if it were not for the blood money flowing from Saudi Arabia.
Beirut murder: Dirty tricks get dirtier
The latest deadly attack in Lebanon’s capital Beirut is yet another desperate attempt to destabilize not only that country, but the entire Middle East to precipitate all-out sectarian war.
The murder of senior Lebanese Sunni political figure, Mohamad Shatah, on Friday in a massive bomb blast that hit his motorcade as it drove through downtown Beirut was aimed at implicating the Shia Hezbollah and closely allied Syrian and Iranian governments.
Syria’s government of President Bashar al-Assad, along with Hezbollah and Iran, swiftly condemned the assassination of Shatah, who was formerly Lebanon’s finance minister between 2008 and 2011.
But the condemnations didn’t stop anti-Syria politicians within Lebanon and various Western media outlets from pointing the finger.
“Anti-Assad ex-minister killed in Beirut bomb,” was the headline carried by Reuters and Britain’s Daily Telegraph, among others.
This contrived innuendo betrays who the real perpetrators are.
Mohamad Shatah, a senior political adviser to Lebanese opposition leader Saad Hariri, was indeed a strident critic of Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad, accusing them of fuelling bloodshed in Syria and also sectarian tensions inside Lebanon. His political views were consistent with the narrative of the pro-Zionist Western media, as well as Saudi Arabia.
Shatah could therefore be considered an ally of the West, Saudi Arabia and the Zionist Israeli regime. But that very profile may have been what made him a prime target, not for Hezbollah or Syria, but for his so-called allies.
The day before his killing, Shatah had reiterated criticism of Hezbollah, claiming that the group was using Syria to consolidate its military strength in Lebanon.
Within minutes of Shatah’s murder, the Saudi-backed Lebanese opposition leader Saad Hariri implicated Hezbollah for the attack. “Shatah’s murderers are the same ones who assassinated former premier Rafik Hariri.” This was a reference to the bomb-blast killing of his father, Rafik, also a former prime minister, in 2005.
A United Nations-backed Lebanese tribunal has indicted five members of Hezbollah for that 2005 murder. The trial is set to open in the coming weeks in a Hague court. For the past eight years Hariri’s group have accused Hezbollah as well as Syrian intelligence over that assassination, without the accusations gaining much credibility.
Both Hezbollah and Syria have strenuously denied any involvement, saying that there is no evidence, and that the tribunal is politically driven. Hence, they have refused to cooperate with the forthcoming trial.
That is why Saad Hariri said of the latest killing: “The accused… are the same ones who are running away from international justice.”
Shatah’s assassination this week comes at a sensitive time, which strongly suggests who the real perpetrators might be.
First, the atrocity serves to re-ignite the accusations against Hezbollah, and its regional allies, in the murder of Rafik Hariri just when the case is being re-opened in an international court.
Secondly, there is the forthcoming Geneva II political talks organized to find a peaceful solution to the nearly three-year Syrian crisis. If Hezbollah, and by extension Syria and Iran, can be linked by sensational media claims of involvement in the murder of high-profile Lebanese politicians, then that would have a damaging impact on the Assad government during the Geneva negotiations.
Thirdly, and this is more to the point of who are the likely perpetrators, the murder of Mohamad Shatah comes at a time of mounting sectarian tensions and violence across the region. Lebanon has witnessed a wave of deadly bomb attacks and assassinations in recent months, which have mainly targeted Shia areas of Beirut.
Earlier this month, a senior Hezbollah commander was shot dead. And at the end of last month, a twin suicide bomb attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed 29, including Iran’s cultural attaché, Ebrahim Ansari. Back in August, a bomb outside a Sunni mosque in Sidon reportedly butchered 40 people.
This violence replicates the pattern of sectarian bloodshed unleashed in neighboring Syria and Iraq. There is ample evidence to show that that violence is being systematically fuelled by Saudi Arabia, working in collusion with Israeli and Western intelligence.
Israel in particular has a long track record of sabotaging Lebanon from within, having invaded that country in 1978, 2000 and 2006. There is also evidence that its agents were the real authors of the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Lebanon is particularly vulnerable to sectarian strife. The country’s communal wounds are still raw from the 15-year-old civil war between its Sunni, Shia, Christian and Druze communities, which ended in 1990. There have been renewed sectarian clashes between Sunni and Shia/Alawite groups in Sidon, Tripoli and several other towns over the past year. Saudi-backed Sunni clerics have been prominent in agitating sharper tensions in Lebanon.
This pattern of sectarian destabilization within Lebanon and across the Middle East by external forces is consistent with the latest murder of Mohamad Shatah in Beirut. The massive blast is believed to have come from a 50-60 kg bomb wired in a booby-trapped car. Wreckage was scattered 100 meters away and some 40 other cars were damaged, some of them upended. This was a professional hit with a devastating message.
In the grand nefarious scheme of geopolitics it matters little that Shatah was a prominent Sunni figure who was an ardent critic of Hezbollah and Syria. Indeed, from the viewpoint of the agents of subversion and destabilization, Shatah’s political and religious affiliation would have made him a prime target for their purpose of trying to explode sectarian war.
The heinous role played by Saudi, Israeli and Western intelligence in inflicting untold suffering on civilians across the Middle East, whether Shia, Sunni or Christian, means that their capability of using the dirtiest tricks knows no limits. The murder of Mohamad Shatah would be viewed by these dark forces as merely an expendable sacrifice if that means achieving the bigger aim of inciting all-out sectarian war in Lebanon; and engulfing the entire region in internecine flames.
The powers that gain from this atrocity are those that sow division and thrive on conflict in order to shore up their illegitimate hegemony over the region and over the mass of its ordinary, decent people.