Tag: House of Saud

Yeah, That Would Be Great

It appears that the House of Saud has finally noticed that the majority of the citizens of Iraq are Shia, and they are determined to reestablish Sunni hegemony in the region, because, after all, it’s worked so f%$#ing well in Syria and Yemen:

Iraq and Saudi Arabia are negotiating a new alliance that would give Riyadh a leading role in rebuilding Iraq’s war-torn towns and cities, while bolstering Baghdad’s credentials across the region.

Meetings between senior officials on both sides over the past six months have focused on shepherding Iraq away from its powerful neighbour and Saudi Arabia’s long-time rival, Iran, whose influence over Iraqi affairs has grown sharply since the 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have long been considered opponents in the region, but a visit by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Riyadh last week and a follow-up trip to the UAE further thawed relations which had already been much improved by high-profile visits between the two countries.


“This visit was an important step in ensuring that Iraq returns to the Arab fold and is supported in doing so by friendly partners,” said the former Saudi minister of state Saad al-Jabri. “This necessitates limiting Tehran’s continued attempts to dominate Iraq and spread sectarianism. Broader engagement between Riyadh and Baghdad will lead the way for enhanced regional support for Iraq, especially from the Gulf states. This is essential after the capture of Mosul from Isis and as Iraq looks towards national reconstruction.” 

The House of Saud created ISIS, and now these arsonists want a piece of the action rebuilding after the conflagration.

A rapprochement between Sunni and Shia in Iraq is essential to the nation’s future as a unitary state.

Involving Riyadh in this process would be an unmitigated disaster.

There’s Stupid, and There’s Psychopathic, and Then There Is the House of Saud

Just 24 hours after Turkey sent troops to protect Qatar, Saudi officials announced their public support for the Kurds in Syria.

— Leith Abou Fadel (@leithfadel) June 12, 2017

The House of Saud, the Gift that Keeps Giving

I am referring to, of course, the latest kerfuffle between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, with the rest of the its toady petty monarchs around the Persian Gulf, have recalled diplomats, expelled Qatari citizens, and blockaded the land border to Qatar:

For years, the tiny, energy-rich country of Qatar has carved out a niche in the Arab world by trying to be everything to everyone. It housed an American military base and flooded the region’s airwaves with its influential media, all while keeping close ties to Iran and a wide selection of Islamist movements.

On Monday, five countries in the region announced that they were forcing Qatar to choose: Its powerful neighbor Saudi Arabia, Egypt and at least three other Arab nations severed all ties with the country, escalating their accusations that the Qatari monarchy supported Sunni Islamist terrorism and Iranian designs on the region.

Those Arab nations not only abruptly suspended diplomatic relations, as they have in the past, but also surprised many by cutting off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has 250,000 people working there, ordered their citizens to leave Qatar.

The move created an immediate crisis for Qatar, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia and which imports about 40 percent of its food from the Saudis. Residents said that people were stocking up on food and cash. And Qatari diplomats and citizens were scrambling to meet a 48-hour deadline to leave some Persian Gulf countries where they had been posted.

Qatar, which in the context of the Gulf monarchies I would describe as the best of a bad lot, has been ruffling feathers in the reason for a while.

It has been generally supportive of the Islamic Brotherhood and its related groups (most notably Hamas), and it has relatively friendly relations with Iran, but the thing that really upsets other regional governments, particularly the House of Saud, is that it operates the Al Jazeera which actually provides relatively impartial news coverage of the region (except, of course, in Qatar, funny how that works).

Further complicating the matter is the fact that Doha has been cultivating a relationship with Turkey, and will be allowing Ankara to construct a military base on the peninsula, which would put a Turkish military presence in the area for the first time since the fall of the Ottoman empire.

This, along with a mammoth air base operated by the US in Qatar means that their military influence is far greater than their (90% expat) population and the size of their military would imply.

In any case, a list of demands was presented to Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the other gulf states:

  • Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with U.S. and international sanctions will be permitted.
  • Sever all ties to “terrorist organizations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  • Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  • Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
  • Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.
  • Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States and other countries.
  • Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
  • End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  • Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  • Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  • Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  • Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid. The document doesn’t specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
  • Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

It’s a laundry list of demands, and I think that some of them were inserted do provide some obfuscation or wiggle room.

I’ve highlighted the items that I think are the the real causus belli, which reduces to Iran, Turkey, and a (relatively) free press being what really upsets Riyadh.

One theory about these demands is that they are not a serious set of demands, but rather they have been issued with the goal of justifying a Saudi invasion.  (Think about the Austrian demands to Serbia that precipitated World War I.)

In any case, the immediate response by Qatar has been to reach out to Turkey and Iran for needed supplies, which also is very clearly a f%$# you to the other members of the GCC:

Qatar is in talks with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water supplies amid concerns of possible shortages two days after its biggest suppliers, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, cut trade and diplomatic ties with the import-dependent country.

“We are in talks with Turkey and Iran and other countries,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, adding that the supplies would be brought in through Qatar Airways cargo flights.

So right now, it looks like Qatar is turning into yet another clusterf%$#, much like its aimless intervention in Yemen.

To quote Dean Vernon Wormer, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

But the House of Saud Must Be Protected

A sensitive report on terrorist funding is likely to be suppressed because it calls out the House of Saud’s role crucial in fomenting terrorism:

An investigation into the foreign funding and support of jihadi groups that was authorised by David Cameron may never be published, the Home Office has admitted.

The inquiry into revenue streams for extremist groups operating in the UK was commissioned by the former prime minister and is thought to focus on Saudi Arabia, which has repeatedly been highlighted by European leaders as a funding source for Islamist jihadis.

The investigation was launched as part of a deal with the Liberal Democrats in exchange for the party supporting the extension of British airstrikes against Islamic State into Syria in December 2015.

Tom Brake, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, has written to the prime minister asking her to confirm that the investigation will not be shelved.


The Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said he felt the government had not held up its side of the bargain made ahead of the vote on airstrikes. The report must be published when it was completed, he insisted, despite the Home Office caution that information in the document would be sensitive.

“That short-sighted approach needs to change. It is critical that these extreme, hardline views are confronted head on, and that those who fund them are called out publicly,” he said.

“If the Conservatives are serious about stopping terrorism on our shores, they must stop stalling and reopen investigation into foreign funding of violent extremism in the UK.”

We fight terrorism, and we cleave to the Persian Gulf potentiates who fund terrorism.

Seriously:  It’s time to fish or cut bait.

Eric Arthur Blair Rotational Momentum Exceeds Energy Released at Hiroshima

The CIA has just awarded Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud the George Tenet Medal for his efforts in fighting terrorism:

The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, received a medal on Friday from the CIA for his distinct intelligence-related counter-terrorism work and his contributions to ensure international peace and security.

The medal, named after George Tenet, was handed to him by CIA Director Micheal Pompeo after the Crown Prince received him in Riyadh on Friday in the presence of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

The Crown Prince said in a press statement after receiving the medal that he appreciated the CIA honor, stressing that his efforts were guided by the leaders of Saudi Arabia headed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, as well as the efforts of the Kingdom’s security forces.

I guess that someone at the CIA is glad for the self licking terror ice-cream cone that is the House of Saud.

They created ISIS, they sponsored bin Laden, and now one of their over-privileged Princes gets an award named for George “Slam Dunk” Tenet, arguably the worst* DCIA ever.

*There is a case to be made that Allen Dulles was far worse, particularly he shaped the organization that has been f%$#ing up the world since its founding.

A Lot is Going on in Syria

First, as I am sure most of you are aware, the evacuation of Aleppo is complete, and the Assad Regime has full control of the city:

The evacuation of civilians and fighters from the last rebel-held part of Aleppo concluded on Thursday after long delays because of frigid weather, putting all of Syria’s industrial capital back in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces for the first time since 2012.

The last buses carrying residents from eastern Aleppo left the city late Thursday night, according to the Syrian state news agency.

Tens of thousands of people have been removed from eastern Aleppo since Dec. 15. Before the last buses left on Thursday, the Red Cross said that 34,000 people had left the city, including 4,000 fighters who had left in their own vehicles the previous night.

A separate convoy was waiting to carry residents out of two pro-government villages in neighboring Idlib Province that have been surrounded by rebels for years. It was unclear late Thursday whether the convoy had completed its trip.

The seizure of all of Aleppo by Mr. Assad and his allies signals a turning point in the nearly six-year conflict.

Rather unsurprisingly, despite representation in western media, upon entering East Aleppo, evidence of mass torture and mass executions were found:

Russian military forces have discovered mass graves in eastern parts of the Syrian city of Aleppo, with many of the bodies reportedly showing signs of torture.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Russian defense ministry, announced the horrifying discovery on Monday. “Many of the corpses were found with missing body parts, and most had gunshot wounds to the head,” he said, according to RT, a Russian state-owned news network.

Until recently, the eastern portion of Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city and industrial and financial center, was under the control of so-called “moderate” rebels, many of whom have received both intelligence and material support from the United States and its allies in the Middle East.

Last week, Russian and Syrian military forces oversaw the evacuation of civilians from eastern Aleppo. Prior to that, the rebel-held portion of the city had been controlled by two main factions, Jabhat al-Nusra, a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaida also known as the Nusra Front, and Ahrar al-Sham, another extremist group that receives U.S. support despite being designated a terrorist organization.


Russian forces also found massive stockpiles of weaponry abandoned by fleeing rebel groups. “In one small area, three tanks, two cannons, two multiple rocket launchers and numerous homemade mortars were found,” reported RT.

In related news, a Syrian refugee was charged with war crimes in Sweden for his role in executing captured Syrian government soldiers:

A former Syrian opposition fighter has been charged with breaching international law over the execution in 2012 of seven soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, the Swedish prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

The 46-year-old man, who was arrested in March, appears in a video showing the killings, the prosecutor’s office said.

The man, who was not named, denies any crime.

“The soldiers were captured and defenseless when this happened,” prosecutor Kristina Lindhoff Carleson said in a statement.

While this was going on, Russia, Iran and Turkey met for cease fire negotiations.  Notably, the US, NATO, and the UN were not included, which is rather unsurprising, considering that those three entities have remained committed to replacing Assad.

What’s more, it appears that these negotiations have born fruit, with cease fire coming into effect across Syria, though it it’s success is still not certain:

A cease-fire announced by the Syrian government went into ­effect across the country early Friday as part of a broader deal that includes a return to peace talks to end more than five years of war.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reestablished control over the northern city of Aleppo earlier this month, forcing rebels to flee what was once their largest stronghold and handing the government a victory that appeared to bring the war’s endgame into view.

The Assad government, backed by Russia and Iran, is now in its strongest position since the start of the war, while rebel groups are mostly boxed into the northwestern province of Idlib and hold no strategically significant urban areas.

The Syrian military declared in a statement issued Thursday that the “comprehensive” cessation of hostilities follows “victories and advances” by the armed forces.

Russia and Turkey, which brokered the deal, said they could guarantee compliance from the government and its armed opposition, respectively, after weeks of negotiations.


The Syrian army said the cease-fire excluded “terrorist organizations,” notably the Islamic State but also the country’s al-Qaeda affiliate, an influential component of what remains of Syria’s armed opposition. The caveat suggested that the fighting could continue in Idlib, now the rebels’ final bastion.

ISIS and al Qaeda (al Nusra/al-Sham) aren’t just an “influential component” of Syrian opposition. They are the bulk of viable rebel military forces.

As I have stated before, there is no moderate opposition. They are all salafist Sunni extremists, sponsored by Turkey, the House of Saud, and the Persian Gulf Potentiates.

Turkish President Erdogan is claiming that he has evidence to prove that the US is supporting terrorist organizations, including al Nusra, Daesh, and the YPG:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said “it’s very clear” that the US-led coalition is supporting terrorist groups in Syria, Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) among them.

“They give support to terrorist groups including Daesh (Arabic for IS),” Erdogan said.

Saying that the US have accused Turkey of supporting IS, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday the Turkish leader blamed the US-led coalition for assisting terrorists themselves.

Apart from IS, he also mentioned Kurdish People’s Protection Units in northern Syria (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) as groups supported by the coalition.

“We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos,” he added.

Best evidence is that he is right on two of those three counts, our military haxs supported Kurdish fighters, and the CIA has been supporting (at least indirectly through its completely incompent grooming of “moderates”) al Nusra.

Our policy, which largely consists of incompetent CIA operations running at cross purposes to military and diplomatic efforts that are in large part intended to slavishly follow the dictates of the House of Saud.

Tru Dat

Juan Cole notes that much of the reason for the imminent defeat of the insurgents in Aleppo is because they are largely a foreign presence who is doing the bidding of there Sunni extremists supports, which runs counter to the cosmopolitan and non-sectarian nature of Syrian society:

Syria was in a better position to attain peace last spring, when a ceasefire had unexpected success. It would have been better if the rebels had been able to keep East Aleppo and the rest of their territory, and the regime had been forced to dicker with them in order to put the country back together again. Someday it might even have been possible for East Aleppo to elect representatives to the Syrian parliament who represented their point of view.

The fall of the East Aleppo pocket dooms such a negotiated outcome of the civil war. The regime of Bashar al-Assad will be emboldened, as it has pledged, to try to take back over all the territory militarily, and to re-institute its seedy one-party state replete with intensive domestic spying, arbitrary arrest and torture.

That said, the rebel forces in East Aleppo do bear some of the blame for their defeat. It seems a harsh thing to say at a time of heart-wrenching scenes of noncombatants waiting in the cold for an evacuation that only seems to come in fits and starts. But it is necessary for us to understand what is happening and not only to feel it. Because al-Assad is understandably hated in democratic societies, there is a tendency to see the reassertion of the regime there as purely an act of brutal force.


But this brutality cannot explain what happened. Revolutions and civil wars don’t work that way, however. You can think of lots of movements that couldn’t be quelled by massive brute force, including that of the Viet Cong in the 1960s and 1970s. If we want to understand why Russian aerial bombardment was so effective, we have to take politics into account.

Syria is a very diverse society. Here are some guesstimates for its ethnic and sectarian make-up.

  • Alawite Shiites: 14%
  • Christians: 7%
  • Druze: 3%
  • Ismailis: 1%
  • Twelver Shiites: 0.5% [The most common form of Shia]
  • Kurds: 10%
  • Secular Sunni Arabs: 30%
  • Religious Sunni Arabs: 34.5%

The Syrian youth revolution of 2011 appealed to virtually all these groups except maybe the Alawite Shiites, who depend on the al-Assad regime for their prominent position and prosperity in Syrian society. The early Syrian revolutionaries talked about a democratic society in which all these groups would have representation. I met with Syrian revolutionaries in Istanbul in 2012 and they were praising all of these religious and ethnic groups for having members standing up to the regime, even Alawite villagers and movie stars.


Many of the fighters in the rebel opposition were Muslim Brotherhood, a relatively moderate fundamentalist group in Syria which nevertheless does want to impose a medieval version of Islamic law on the whole country. But the best fighters and the best-funded fighters were Salafi Jihadis like Jaysh al-Islam, the Freemen of Syria, the Nusra Front, and Daesh (ISIS, ISIL).

It was the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front that in 2013 nearly succeeded in using Homs and Qusayr to cut off the southern capital of Damascus from re-supply via the northwestern Mediterranean port of Latakia. This plan by Salafi Jihadis was forestalled by the intervention of the Twelver Shiite Lebanese party-militia, Hizbullah on behalf of the regime.

It was a Nusra Front-led coalition that in spring of 2015 managed to take the city of Idlib and all of that province, and to begin an advance on Latakia to the west, with the same strategic goal in mind. Latakia is a heavily Alawite Shiite region, so for hard line Sunni fundamentalists to take it would have entailed massive massacres and ethnic cleansing. This plan by the Salafi Jihadis was forestalled by Russian intervention.

It is true that Russia has subjected the Sunni Arab rebels, many of them just Muslim Brotherhood, to intense aerial bombardment. But it has especially gone after al-Qaeda (the Nusra Front, now styling itself the Levantine Conquest Front).

Under the conditions of 2011, the other rebels would have rushed to the aid of a besieged anti-al-Assad group.

That did not happen during the past 3 years, for a simple reason. Most people in Syria don’t trust the Muslim Brotherhood and they really, really dislike the Salafi Jihadis.


And the fact is that the fundamentalist rebels have repeatedly denounced and threatened the leftist Kurds. (It is these fundamentalists that Western politicians often call “moderates.”)

The supposedly moderate Freemen of Syria put al-Qaeda in charge of the Druze villages of Idlib in 2015. Druze are an offshoot of Ismaili Shiism and are deeply hated by al-Qaeda. They were forcibly converted to Sunni Islam and nevertheless some of them were killed or their property confiscated by the Nusra Front.

So as the Syrian opposition ratcheted farther and farther to the Sunni religious right, and as the most effective fighters came to be drawn from that sector, they lost the good will and support of most Syrians.


So you get 70% of the people in the country who, having been given the unpalatable choice between the Baath regime of al-Assad and being ruled by Salafi Jihadis, reluctantly chose al-Assad.

That is why the Aleppo pocket fell. There had been 250,000 Sunni Arabs of a more religious mindset and from a working class background living there under rebel control since 2012. But next door in West Aleppo, which our television stations won’t talk about, were 800,000 to a million people who much preferred to be under the rule of the regime. This numerous and relatively well off population took occasional mortar fire from the slums of East Aleppo. They weren’t in the least interested in saving the rebels from the Russians or the Iraqi Shiite militias or from the regime itself.

The Kurdish forces likewise didn’t rush to the defense of the Sunni Arab fighters in the East Aleppo pocket.

By militarizing the revolution and by moving ideologically to the religious far right, the rebel fighters deprived themselves of support among most Syrians.


But they sometimes formed battlefield alliances of convenience with al-Qaeda or with Salafi jihadis, and as time went on they showed less and less no interest in human and civil rights for women and minorities.

Syria is much more diverse a country than it might seem from cold social statistics. Hard line Salafis never had any chance of attracting enough support to take over the whole country, and even just very conservative Sunnis did not, either. The strategic thinkers in Ankara and Riyadh completely misread the situation.

That is why the East Aleppo pocket is falling to the regime. Not because aerial bombardment or brute force work magic in and of themselves. But because the Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood were unable to cumulate resources from other groups and attract broad support.

We are on the wrong side:  The House of Saud and its ilk are a path to instability, sectarianism, and more terrorism.

The depressing thing about Syria is that there really is no frght side.

Both a Stopped Clock, and Boris Johnson, Are Right Twice a Day

Boris Johnson, breaking with a decades long policy of abject sycophancy to the House of Saud, has called out the oil rich nation for their antediluvian and violent legacy:

Boris Johnson accused Saudi Arabia of abusing Islam and acting as a puppeteer in proxy wars throughout the Middle East, in remarks that flout a longstanding Foreign Office convention not to criticise the UK’s allies in public.

The foreign secretary told a conference in Rome last week that the behaviour of Saudi Arabia, and also Iran, was a tragedy, adding that there was an absence of visionary leadership in the region that was willing to reach out across the Sunni-Shia divide.

At the event, Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region. And the tragedy for me – and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.”

The foreign secretary then identified Saudi Arabia and Iran specifically, saying: “That’s why you’ve got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in, and puppeteering and playing proxy wars.”

Needless to say, the usual suspects, industries dependent on Riyadh and old Middle East “experts”, have been squealing about this like stuck pigs.

In the words of Otto Maddox, “F%$# that.”

This Took Way Too Long

The US has finally expressed reservations about the indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets by Saudi Arabia in Yemen:

The US said its security cooperation with Saudi Arabia was not a “blank cheque” as Riyadh agreed to mount an investigation into a widely condemned air raid on funeral in Yemen that killed 140 people.

In one of the deadliest attacks of the country’s civil war, which Saudi Arabia entered in March 2015, airstrikes on Saturday hit a funeral hall packed with thousands of mourners in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sana’a. More than 525 people were wounded.

The Saudi-led coalition has not acknowledged responsibility for the attack, even as it announced an investigation, but is the only force with such air power in the conflict.

The White House issued a statement saying it had begun an “immediate review” of its support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The attack has been condemned by the UN, the European Union and the United States.

The issue is embarrassing for the US since it has decried the Russian failure to be more open about its role in the air attack on a UN aid convoy in Syria, and it will face allegations of double standards if it allows the Saudis to delay an inquiry.

So, now even the United States “has concerns.”

It only took months of bombing civilian targets and this particularly egregious example.

BTW, in case you were wondering if the House of Saud still had some some hooks in ISIS, get a load of this:

In an unexpected twist, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks even though it is thought the deaths were caused by an air raid, and Isis has no access to aircraft.’

How convenient of them!

Why the US chooses to defend the clusterf%$# or a war that is Yemen, and the clusterf%$# of a government that is the House of Saud is beyond me.

It serves no one but Riyadh.

Hell Yeah!

The House of Representatives and the US Senate just overrode Barack Obama’s veto of a bill allowing Saudi Arabia to be sued for its support of terrorism:

Barack Obama suffered a unique political blow on Wednesday, when the US Congress overturned his veto of a bill that would allow families of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.

The overwhelming bipartisan vote in both the Senate and House inflicted the first veto override of Obama’s presidency, less than four months before he leaves office. The White House issued an unusually scathing response.

“I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today.”

Not even close to the worst thing that the Senate has done since 1983.

Not contesting the 2000 election, the invasion or Iraq, NAFTA, the bankruptcy bill, etc. were all way worse.

It wasn’t even close:

The Senate voted 97-1, with the Democratic minority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, alone in supporting the veto. The House followed suit a short time later, voting 348-77 to override and putting Congress directly at odds with the White House and national security establishment.

BTW, I would note that one of the arguments:

In a letter sent to [Senate Minority Leader Harry] Reid this week, Obama warned the bill would erode sovereign immunity principles that prevent foreign litigants “from second-guessing our counter-terrorism operations and other actions that we take every day”.

Obama is now aggressively pushing the TPP and TTIP, which include an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) apparatus allow for just this sort of second guessing on environmental protections, regulation of speculation, labor protections, etc.

I really hope that Saudi Arabia retaliates over this, because any estrangement between the United States and the House of Saud is an unalloyed good.

Obama got a well deserved black eye over this.

Well, He Promised the Veto

Obama has vetoed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act”, which allows survivors of the 911 attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia:

President Obama vetoed legislation on Friday that would allow families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot, setting up an extraordinary confrontation with a Congress that unanimously backed the bill and has vowed to uphold it.

Mr. Obama’s long-anticipated veto of the measure, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, is the 12th of his presidency. But unless those who oppose the bill can persuade lawmakers to drop their support by next week, it will lead to the first congressional override of a veto during Mr. Obama’s presidency — a familiar experience for presidents in the waning months of their terms.

In his veto message to Congress, Mr. Obama said the legislation “undermines core U.S. interests,” upending the normal means by which the government singles out foreign nations as state sponsors of terrorism and opening American officials and military personnel to legal jeopardy. It would put United States assets at risk of seizure by private litigants overseas and “create complications” in diplomatic relations with other countries, he added.

“I have deep sympathy for the amilies of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously,” fMr. Obama wrote. But enacting the measure “would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.”

Not a surprise.

The DC consensus is that the House of Saud is an essential ally, and Obama is very much unable to see beyond the DC consensus.

What’s more, his DCIA, John Brennan, has been a big fan of Riyadh ever since his days as station chief in Saudi Arabia.

I think that this veto will be overridden, for 2 reasons:

  • Republicans want to give Obama a great big f%$# you.
  • Any member of Congress, of either party, who votes to support the veto will be literally be writing their opponent’s ads for the upcoming election.

Truth be told, Obama deserves to lose this one.

The House of Saud has spent decades creating the infrastructure of terrorism, and 911, or something like it, was a foreseeable result.