Syria back in the fold of the Arab League – it’s an image which the regime change gang in Washington never wanted world to see. More to the point: as the Kingdom begins to face east, the US empire is losing one of its greatest assets in maintaining its global empire.
21st Century Wire
It is hard to overstate the significance of Syria’s readmission to the Arab League and President Assad’s attendance at the Jeddah Arab summit. The significance goes way beyond Syria itself.
Let’s get straight to the point. It’s a massive blow for the US and its allies. No wonder the commentary from the Washington think tanks and publications like the Financial Times is so sour. It’s not just that the hated Assad is breaking out of US-imposed isolation, and that the world is being reminded of US policy failure in Syria.
More importantly, it’s absolutely gobsmacking that a previously fully aligned top US client, Saudi Arabia, should take the lead in flouting America’s wish to keep Syria isolated. For it was indeed Saudi Arabia, fresh from showing the US the finger by coming to a Chinese sponsored tension-reducing agreement with Iran, which followed up by corralling other Arab League members into accepting the return of Syria. This also came after Saudi Arabia refused to pump more oil to help Biden get lower gas prices in the US.
Some in Washington try to console themselves with the thought that more Saudi influence in Damascus will help diminish Iran’s presumed hold over Syria. They are missing the point. With the outbreak of peace between Saudi and Iran Saudi has no need to fear Iranian influence in Syria.
Saudi appears to have woken up to the fact that the only gainers from tension between itself and Iran were the US
The moment of awakening may actually have come in 2019 but went unnoticed at the time. This was when, according to reports, Iran directed massive drone attacks on the Abqaiq refinery in Saudi’s Eastern Province, and went unpunished. Iran was sending a message to the US : mess with our oil exports (which the US navy was indeed doing) and your local guy gets it in the neck. The US certainly got the message: it quietly pulled back. But the local guy, Saudi, got the message too. ‘Hey, I thought I was paying for
protection. Instead I take the hit for you!’
The aftermath of the Khashoggi assassination and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s resulting temporary weakness probably delayed the working out of the Gulf naval debacle. But MBS ‘s own isolation may have increased his fellow feeling for Bashar Al Assad, especially as Khashoggi had been an opponent of both.
At all events arrogant US politicians and diplomats failed to see what was brewing and piled humiliation on humiliation on Saudi. Now thanks to the US response to Ukraine, with all those sanctions driving up energy prices in the West while making oil producers’ day, the worm has turned.
They still don’t get it in Washington. They think it’s a temporary Saudi tantrum and still talk of bringing Saudi Arabia into the Abraham Accords with Israel. This is about as likely as the cow jumping over the moon. It’s cataclysmic, guys. You have lost your linch pin in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is off the reservation and starting to whoop it up with Russia and China and other leading lights of the big new act, the Global South.
Losing Syria could be shrugged off. But losing Saudi is disastrous, as will become more and more clear in the coming weeks and months.
Author Peter Ford is a global affairs analyst, and the former British Ambassador to Syria (2003-2006) and Bahrain (1999-2002).
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