The Middle East Daily Brief

To my readers, I will be publishing an update as many times as possible on major regional and international events, focusing on the Middle East in particular.

Iran:

American legislators, and the US Treasury Department and the State Department, have extended an olive branch to countries such as Singapore and China who continue to trade with Iran and continue to purchase Iranian oil. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that such countries were not incuded in the fresh new wave of sanctions as they had reduced their importation of Iranian oil. Countries such as Pakistan were not exempted from these sanctions however, and Pakistani financial institutions face potential legal issues in engaging in financial transactions with American bodies.

This could be another shot across the bow by the United States against Pakistan, as relations between the two countries are at an all time low after many in the US accused Pakistan of being complicit in hiding Osama Bin Laden for years in Pakistan. The Pakistanis accuse the US of spying in the country, and also bad blood exists after the blue on blue bomb strike on Pakistani forces by US aircraft last year. The US is wary however, of issuing sanctions against China, given the growing economic power of the Asian giant, and the dependance on the Chinese market.

With discussions over Iran’s nuclear program intensifying, hawkish elements in the American government and press, such as the Foreign Policy Initiative thinktank, are pressuring for a military option against Iran to be put on the table. While this option, with Israeli support, has been floated for months, it is unlikely that such a strike will occur. Iran is no Iraq, and is far more unified and stronger than Iraq was. To fully eliminate the nuclear threat, the US and allies would have to commit to another ground war, something which the American people would be very unlikely to support at this time, especially after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, conflict in the region would vastly reduce shipping through the Strait of Homuz, and could spark regional conflicts between China, Pakistan, and Russia. A limited air campaign against Iran is a lower scale possibility, however the use of such attacks are limited, as the Iranians have specifically designed their suspect installations to resist such attacks. Any hostile action against Iran would also give the hardliners in government all the evidence necessary to demand an acceleration in the nuclear program.

Syria:

The tensions in Syria remain at a high level at the end of June. Following the downing of the Turkish F111 by supposed Syrian forces, tensions between the two countries remain at a high level. Turkey has positioned anti aircraft batteries along the border and has issued shoot on sight orders on any Syrian forces approaching the border. Syria has moved several tank divisions close to the border and is continuing to shell insurgent positions inside the country. The Free Syrian Army has changed both their tactics and their operations in recent months. Before it was primarily a people’s army, strong in spirit but weak in military training and equipment. This has changed, however, with the rebels carrying out a number of bombings in Damascas, targeting the Justice Ministry. These attacks indicate both an increase in sophistication of the rebels, but also a potential merger between Islamic insurgent groups such as Al Qaeda and parts of the rebel forces.

Questions remain about the amount of Syrian chemical and biological weapons which are unsecured and which could be acquired by radicals operating in the country.

Russia and Iran remain staunch allies of Syria, with Russia and China blocking any attempt by the UN Security Council to use force in Syria. Russia is also selling helicopters and missiles to Syria, in the face of international opposition, which Iran is supporting Assad with special forces units on the ground.

Tomorrow, the article will look at recent events in Egypt and Iraq.

 

The Saudi Royal Family

To understand the Saudi Royal family, who has ruled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since its inception, is to attempt to understand a family torn by internal power struggles, beset on all sides by enemies and rivals, and who have also been cursed with all the disadvantages of extreme wealth. The House of Saud can be traced back to Muhammad ibn Saud, with the ruling party fathered by King Abdul Aziz.

Unlike most Western style monarchies, the line of succession is not passed down from Father to Son, but rather to brothers of the sons of King Abdul Aziz. While all close members of the family, including grandchildren, have received important government posts, the surviving sons of King Abdul Aziz are seen as being in the line of succession. With the incapatation of King Fahd due to a stroke in 1995, Crown Prince Abdullah took over the governing of the affairs of the kingdom until the death in 2005 of King Fahd, when Abdullah was crowned king.

Next in line to the throne was Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz. However, on June 16, 2012, the Crown Prince passed away at the age of 80, leaving the title to Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz. Salman is now the last significant member of Abdul Aziz’s direct sons, and the last major member of the so called “Sudeiri Seven”.

Prince Naif had been no friend of the West, and especially not of America. After the September 11 attacks, Naif did everything possible to prevent American investigations into Saudi Arabian suspects, and openly attacked the American government as being an enemy of Muslims everywhere.

Crown Prince Na’if

However, while Na’if may have paid lip service to the radicals, and personally hated America, even he was concerned about the activities of radical groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2003 Na’if stated that he believed that Saudi Arabia had given too much support to radical elements, and that these elements themselves could become an enemy to Saudi Arabia.

With the election of Salman to the position of Crown Prince now, the Saudis face a dilemma. All the full blooded sons of Abdul Aziz are now over 60 years old, with King Abdullah 90 years old and in poor health. Salman was born in 1936, and is also in poor health. Indeed, the youngest son, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, was born in 1945.

Even the grandsons of Abdulaziz, who would be potentially eligible for consideration with appropriate support, are all over 50 years old.

Thus, a third generation of princes will begin to slowly fill important civil ranks in the government, and will move upwards to replace the First and Second generations as they pass away. The Third generation, however, are far less experienced than their grandfathers and even their fathers.

Saudi Arabia is entering one of the most important milestones in its history at the moment, with the rise of Iran to the east, the Arab Spring surrounding the country, insurgencies in Yemen, a hostile Israel to the north, and internal discord and division both against the Saudi Royal family and between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

However, the younger generations especially have shown themselves poor leadership material. It can be said that the House of Saud was blessed with power, but cursed with wealth. The extreme wealth into which the second and third generation princes were born into has corrupted the family to the point at which the old Roman aristocracy comes to mind.

The family of al Saud now numbers almost 15,000 members. While only a few possess political power, a majority of the family members receive allowances, which become more and more substantial the closer to the direct bloodline one gets. In a cable to Washington in 1996, the US Ambassador stated that monthly stipends ranged from $800 a month for the most distant princes up to a sum of $270,000 a month USD for the sons of Abdul Aziz.

In addition, payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars are handed out upon completion of tasks such as getting married or building a new palace.

The princes, particularly those with power, have found new and innovative ways to raise money above that which they received from a stipend. These include defrauding businesses, theft of state property, arms sales, oil deals, bribes, and outright theft. Saudi Royals will borrow money from banks without paying it back, seize land and businesses from their owners, and demand substantial bribes from foreign companies doing business in Saudi Arabia.

The billions of dollars controlled by these princes helps to fund an extremely lavish lifestyle, the decadence and debauchery of which is legendary. King Fahd’s youngest son, Abd al Aziz, built himself a massive theme park in Mecca, costing $4.6 billion, after seizing the land to build the park on. Abd al has also built lavish personal estates for himself and his mother.

The entire house of Saud spends along these lines however. When the family goes shopping in Marbella, they spend on average $5 million a day. In the 1970s, Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East, and almost exclusively catered to Rich Saudi royals, with brothels, nightclubs, and high class restaurants. The Lebanese underworld also saw an opportunity inside Saudi Arabia and began a brisk slave trade into the Kingdom, bringing in women to work as prostitutes for the Royal family. When Saudis wish to leave the Kingdom, the more lowly princes head for London, France, or Monte Carlo, and enjoy the pleasures and sins of the West including women, gambling, alcohol, and lots and lots of money. For the higher born Saudis, each prince has a private estate along the Mediterranean coast, which are exclusively for entertaining women and for holding lavish events. The new playground for the Saudis is Morocco, where the Saudi princes can retreat to secluded palaces in the Tangier mountains and hold even more wild and debauched parties than in Europe or Saudi Arabia. In return, Saudi Arabia has funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars into Morocco in exchange for their silence on their activities.

 

Saudi Royal Yacht

The Saudi Royal attitude towards these decadent pursuits is strictly hypocritical. While the royal family may engage in any activity they see fit to, the common people live in one of the most repressive countries in the world. Especially to women, Saudi Arabia is a closed society, with women only recently receiving the right to drive, vote, and even shop by themselves (only in exclusively women staffed shops).

The Saudi society is a three tiered layer, with the Royals on top, a business class underneath who owe their patronage to the Royals, and the common class on the bottom.

However, while the Saudi Royal family has spent billions whoring, drinking, spending, and stealing for decades, they have become extremely out of touch with their own people. Radical elements in Saudi Arabia have found eager recruits from the oppressed population, who hate their ruling family and their ways. Iran is seeking to create Sectarian strife in the country, and the winds of the Arab Spring have even ruffled the feathers of the Royals.

Now, more than ever, Saudi Arabia must make a decision to either acknowledge the challenges it faces, or to accept the fact that it will fall. It is unknown yet what Crown Prince Salman will do, or even how long he will hold this position.

In our next instalment, we will analyse the future direction of the monarchy and detail the coming fall of the Royal family, if they refuse to act now.

 

 

Looking Forward – Saudi Arabia

The story of Saudi Arabia is the story of both great success and failure. A century ago, Arabia, as it was then known, was controlled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, as was much of the Middle East. Following the defeat of Turkey in the First World War, their empire was divided up amoung the conquering armies. Arabia was controlled by the Turks only nominally, but the inhabitants belonged to any number of roaming desert Bedouin tribes who fought among themselves for power and influence. One of the strongest of these tribes, lead by Abdul Aziz bin Saud, siezed the critical city of Mecca in 1902 and embarked on a series of conquests over the next 30 years which established the modern state of Saudi Arabia (named after bin Saud)

In 1938, the relatively unknown state of Saudi Arabia was thrust into prominance with the discovery of vast oil resources in the country. Almost immediately the family of Saud, previously a desert nomadic clan, became fantastically wealthy as foreign investment and money flowed into the region. The new status of Saudi Arabia brought it new and powerful friends, who had previously ignored developments in the region. The Middle East had previously been a British domain, who fought over it with the Turks and later the Germans. However, the United States saw the value of the new wealth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and thus began to court the new rulers. At the close of the Second World War, President Roosevelt and King Abdul Aziz bin Saud met secretly to develop an alliance between the two countries. In response for American investment, support, and military protection, bin Saud agreed to provide America with a cheap and reliable source of fossil fuel to support the expanding industrial power of America.

The relationship between the two countries was thus formed, and some say that this has led to an almost Faustian agreement between the two, with the Saudi oil dictating a large amount of Washington foreign policy in the region.

As any new kingdom, Saudi Arabia experienced several leadership crisis points from the late 1950s, with the death of King Abdul Aziz, until the rise of King Fahd in 1982. During this period, the Kingdom began to explore the dark path of Islamic extremism which it as so readily embraced in later years. The rise of an fundamentalist Islamic rival in Iran in 1979, and the Mecca siege of 1980, brought great pressure against Saudi Arabia from the entire Muslim World.

Muslims around the world were incensed at what they considered to be a secular, corrupt, and profigate (all true) ruling party in Riyadh. With the defeat of Arab armies in the Six Days War by Israel, Arabs began to question the legitimacy of the Saud family, who were supposed to be the protectors of Islam, with the two most sacred spots of Islam, Mecca and Medina, under their control.

In an attempt to stem the growing tide of Islamic wrath, the Bin Saud family began to fund and support radical elements globally, including groups in Indonesia, Chechnya, Iran, Iraq, Asia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The approach by the Royal Family was to keep the “crazies” out of Saudi Arabia and busy elsewhere in an attempt to stave off disaster.

The Saud family has another reason to be sympathetic to extremist movements. The origins of the Saud clan were in a strict Islamic sect known as the Wahhabis. Wahhabism was a uniting factor in the desert tribes in the early 1920s, and followed a strict understanding of Islam, one which was conservative, political, and intolerant. The Wahhabis had supported the Saud family, and now were incensed at their betrayal of fundamentalist Islam. In an effort to appease these powerful elements, the Saudi policy has been to establish a strict fundamentalist government upon the Saudi people, and to spread the doctrine of Wahhabist Islam worldwide, where it has taken root and been championed by leaders such as Osama Bin Laden. Indeed, the concept of modern terrorism in the form of Al Qaeda is a branch of the Wahhabist faith promoted by Saudi Arabia.

In part two, we will explore the status of the Royal family, the power struggles and complexities of their government, and also the internal decay, decadence, and depravity which characterizes the Saudi Royals.

In part three, we will seek to look ahead and predict a future for Saudi Arabia, as it now enters a period of transition following the death of the Crown Prince

Respect and Political Fear

The father of modern political thought, Thomas Hobbs, who wrote in the early 1600s, believed strongly in the power of the state, as the overreaching “Leviathan”, which kept watch over the citizens below. To Hobbs, power rested with the state through the introduction of what he termed the “Social Contract”. In simple terms, the social contract states that the people of a nation will give up certain rights and freedoms in exchange for the rule of law and security by the state. One of the greatest “rights” given up was that of violence, which only the state then had the right to use. Only the state could resort to violence, and violence, according to Hobbs, was an instrument of the state to maintain law and order. Agents of the state, such as the police, military, and intelligence services could be given the right to use violence if necessary in order to maintain order.

Hobbs believed that there were two alternatives to the Human race. Either a population would give up part of their power to a central government, which Hobbs believed to be unaccountable for their actions, or anarchy and chaos would result. This anarchy and chaos was what Hobbs termed the “natural state” of man, and was driven by what he saw as the relentless pursuit of man for power.

Hobbs saw civilization, and the power of a central government, as integral to preventing this violent anarchical struggle which mankind would fall into by default.

This view is not new with Hobbs, however. Machiavelli before him wrote on power, and the use of such by a state. Thousands of years before, the Bible itself wrote of the early formation of the Jewish state as being in such a state of anarchy. The story is told in the book of Judges, for example, of the tribe of Dan who came across a household with precious goods and idols which they promptly took by force and threats. The story goes that they tribe then proceeded to seize territory by massacring the inhabitants of a peaceful city as they were stronger and of greater numbers. Further in the book, the story is told of a full breakdown of law and order in a city with travellers being accosted and killed, leading to a civil war in Israel. All through the book of Judges, there is story after story of acts of violence taking place just because one party was stronger than the other.

The book of Judges ends with the quote that “In those days, there was no King in Israel, so every man did what was right in his own eyes”.

Indeed, this is the very definition of anarchy, and would seem to support Hobbs belief that a central order was necessary to keep this natural state from developing.

Going on in history, we find that any society or civilization goes through this stage of the strong overpowering the weak, and then creating a ruling order to centralize their power over the nation. Warfare then became the instrument of the state, and was used against other weaker nations. If we fast-forward in history, we can see the results of a collapsed state which is experiencing anarchy in such failed states as Somalia, where the natural order can be seen. Indeed, whenever there is a breakdown in the power of the state, chaos and anarchy seem to follow.

During the last 60-70 years, politics and political thought has experienced another revolution. With the formation of the United Nations was established a principle of Human Rights. For much of history, up until the Treaty of Westphalia, warfare was a legitimate tool of statecraft. Leading up to the end of the First World War, there was a desire among many European nations to never again see such a war take place. Thus, treaties such as the Treaty of Paris were signed, which forbade wars of aggression. Interestingly enough, both Japan and Germany were signatories to this treaty, which was flagrantly broken during the Second World War.

With the Second World War, the concept of genocide came into popular focus. While genocide was not a new concept by any means, the extermination campaigns of the Nazi party against Jews shocked the world like never before.

With the establishment of the United Nations, Human Rights were introduced. Political thought recognized that states do not always fulfil their side of the Social Contract which was introduced by Hobbes, and misuse their power against their own citizens. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations laid out 30 rights that citizens have, including freedom from persecution, protection of women and children, right of religion, and right of free expression in Government.

However, the UN upheld by social contract theory of Hobbs by stating that

“In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.  (UN Charter Article 29)

Thus, these freedoms are limited by the expression of the rights and freedoms of others, social morality, and public order and general welfare.

However, where does the line exist between the establishment of order and the will of the population? If the natural order exists in the absence of a centralized government, as Hobbes predicted, where do current protest movements ranging from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement sit?

Last year, at the start of the Libyan civil war, I wrote on this blog that Libya faced an uncertain future if Gadhafi was removed. The danger of a power vacuum being created existed then, and exists even more so now. Egypt has experienced a similar crisis, with the Mubarak regime being removed, but with an uncertain political future now existing.

In the opinion of Australia’s foremost expert on Libya and perhaps on the Arab Spring, Dr Sally Totman, the Arab Spring has accomplished very little actual good to the general population. In both Libya and Egypt, the ruling elites now are the same as before the rebellion. In Egypt it is the military who supported Mubarak, but who threw him to the wolves when international tide turned against him. In Libya, it is the old supporters of Gadhafi who once again turned against him with the general tide.  Syria has been in a state of anarchy and civil war for almost a year, with extremist influences such as Al Qaeda becoming more and more active in the country.

The mood of the Arab Spring has turned from one of optimism and change to one of cynicism and discontent. In Libya, the united tribes are beginning to turn on each other, with violent encounters occurring, and little attempt to create a stable state. In Egypt, there have been protests after protests against the current ruling body, to no avail. A general malevolent atmosphere has settled over the Middle East, setting in motion attempts by regional power brokers to seize greater support for themselves.

In short, the Arab Spring has turned into an Arab Winter, with few of the goals of the revolution being achieved, and only the figureheads of a regime being taken away.

But why are such movements gaining traction? Why are people, especially in the West, dissatisfied with their life, and are willing to take up action against the Government that they elected into power?

Hobbes, in his theory, considered greatly the idea of fear in politics. To Hobbes, mankind was driven by fear, and the greatest fear according to Hobbes was the fear of death. As the state was the only entity with the legitimate use of violence through the justice system against its own people, Hobbes held that fear was a necessary part of a stable society – fear of the sovereign and the consequences of acting against him. Machiavelli stated this also by posing the theoretical question “Should a Prince strive to be feared or loved?” His answer was very diplomatic:

Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.   

To both Hobbes and Machiavelli, a certain fear of the sovereign powers should always be present in the citizenship. Not hatred, but a certain fear of acting against them. The responsibility of the state, under the social contract, was not to move against their people unjustly or to attempt to use unjust force against them.

It may be argued that such revolutions as in Syria are a response to attempts by the Government to use unjust force against those protesting. It may also be argued that such force by the population is not unjust, even under a Hobbesian model, as Hobbes always held that citizens should have the right of self-preservation, even through use of violence.

My argument, however, is far more pragmatic. In countries experiencing the Arab Spring, the Government did incite a culture of fear surrounding them. The general citizens were afraid of their governments, and with good reason. However, attempts to attack the government were not in response to actions by the Government. In Libya, Syria, and Egypt, there were no attempts by the state to engage in hostile action against the general population. Dissenters may have been treated harshly, however in the political climate these states existed in, such actions often were seen as necessary to keep order. In Libya, for example, harsh measures defeated the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, pushing them to the table to negotiate peace. In Egypt, they kept an undercurrent of fanaticism and terrorism controlled for decades.

It is said that desperate situations call for desperate measures, and this is what we have seen in Syria, Egypt, and Libya. Were they democracies? No. Were they necessarily a kind and welcoming regime? No. Did human rights abuses occur? Most probably yes. However, these were no worse than others in the region, and may be argued were a strategy by the government to ensure a stable society. The validity of such a revolution can be argued either way.

But what about Australia, Europe, and the US? Is there any reason for protest and revolt in these countries? I would say, absolutely not. I can speak from an Australian perspective, as that is what I am most familiar with. In Australia, there is a country which is one of the richest in the world. The economy has continued to be strong, and the recession did not nearly hit Australia as hard as other parts of the world. Australia as a social system which is large and generous, with public health cover, myriads of  government grants, and a unemployment system which enables one to effectively live without working productively. In short, life in Australia is mostly prosperous. Even counting in people’s bad decisions, it is not hard to survive in this country. And yet, we see violent protests in capital cities across Australia. We see a mob like attack on Australia’s elected Prime Minister. We see groups representing a large number of interests all attacking the government.

Here is where the concept of fear must be introduced. People must respect and fear their elected government, while at the moment, this lack of fear emboldens the protesters. With the attack on the Prime Minister in Canberra, no arrests were made, no person was charged, and very little attempt was made to disperse the rioters. With the Occupy protests, clashes in Melbourne resulted in attacks on serving Police Officers by protesters who flatly refused to obey direct orders by the state.

With the previous Melbourne G20 riots in 2006, Australian protesters assaulted police, destroyed property, attacked police vans, and generally engaged in public rioting.

Why do riots occur? They occur because there is no respect or fear left of the government. And this is partly the government’s fault. As with a child, the child must have a certain respect and sometimes even fear of the consequence of their actions in order to be brought up properly. If this respect for authority, and fear of consequences of bad behaviour is not present, the natural order of things will take place.

This natural order of things, this anarchy which is dreamed about by the left is a lie. It is a utopian concept which will result in public disorder and chaos. One can say that the most free society on earth is Somalia, or similar states with a breakdown of law and order. But my question is: “Is that what we want to live in?”

The Picture of Anarcy.

A Nuclear House of Saud?

The power structure in the Middle East has changed radically during the last two years. During this time, political leaders in numerous countries; Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen fell from power or fled to avoid the fate of their comrades in Egypt or Libya. President Assad in Syria, rather than face trial by his people for human rights abuses has determined to fight for his position, leading to what can be only described as a de facto state of civil war in the country. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran, even Israel have seen their own protests and uprisings, however leaders in all countries have managed to hold onto power.

While Neo Conservatives in America may have first painted a rosy picture of democracy springing into the Middle East, the actual fact is that the current political systems, and even the future ones, will be very unlike the commonly accepted Western view of democracy. Only a small percentage of Libyan opposition groups have openly accepted democracy as a future political view, with the majority of Libyans rejecting democracy as a political system.

In Egypt, the most popular political party is the Muslim Brotherhood, who is steadfastly anti democratic. Indeed, the Brotherhood has come a long way from its past, when it was the umbrella group for the majority of extremist and terrorist groups, including many of the earlier members of Al Qaeda. While the Brotherhood may have technically forsaken violent action for political process, it does not mean for a moment that the group has become pro American and pro Democratic.

 

The Arab Spring

While the Middle East was once composed of many pro American governments, including those of Mubarak, it now has taken a strongly anti American turn. Even anti American governments such as Libya were a known entity. America knew how to handle Kaddafi. But the old known systems have now been replaced with an uncertain system which has not yet shown its true colours. The lines between friend and enemy are now broken, and American interests in the Middle East are now threatened.

With the American withdrawal from Iraq, American attention is now focused further upon Asia and Iran, while the Middle East (with the exclusion of the straits of Hormuz) have become less crucial to American interests.

American allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, have expressed concern regarding this recent shift of focus of American might. With the fall of Mubarak in Egypt, another American ally, the Saudi royals have expressed concern about the future security of their country. The belief is that American forces will not prevent a similar takeover in Saudi Arabia as what occurred in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia at the moment is extremely concerned regarding possible Iranian involvement in creating disturbance in the country through the minority Shiite population. There have already been several attacks against Saudi interests by Shiite terrorists. As the most significant source of oil in the region, and the most reliable as Iranian supply is becoming increasingly unstable, Saudi Arabia  is the major supplier of global oil at the moment. Surrounded by a hostile and an increasingly ambitious Turkey to the north, an uncertain Egypt to the West, a chaotic Yemen to the South, and an openly hostile Iran to the East, Saudi Arabia has found itself in an increasingly bad neighbourhood.

To add to the problems that Saudi Arabia faces, it is widely seen in the Arab world as an American puppet and as a corrupt and secular government, who is more interested in oil profits from the Americans than in assisting Muslims in the region. The Muslim world sees Saudi Arabia as a traitor who has taken American money in exchange for allowing American troops to desecrate the Holy Land by building military bases in the country. In addition, Saudi Arabia is seen as doing nothing to prevent the regional power of Israel from growing. Thus, the Saudi royal family is a top target for groups such as Al Qaeda.

 

With the withdrawal of American troops from the region, and the increasing belief that American protection will not cover the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia has begun to seek defensive capacities from other sources.

While traditionally the House of Saud sought weapons and defensive capacities from the United States, it is recently begun to approach other countries such as China for defensive and offensive weapons.

The deal which alarmed Washington the most was that of the Saudi purchase of Chinese CSS-5 missiles to replace the CSS-2 missiles purchased from China in the 1980s. While these reports are not officially confirmed, they do align with the Saudi intent to develop nuclear capacity in response to Iranian developments. The deal maker for this, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, has been the Saudi go to man for any business of this nature for the last 20 years.

The CSS-5 missile is a 2 stage solid propellant type, launcher based rocket, with a range of over 2,000 km. The missile can carry a HE warhead, or a more lethal chemical payload or a 250 – 500 kT nuclear tipped payload.

With the map below, you can see the radius of the new missiles sought by Saudi Arabia. Once launched, the missile can hit any target with a great degree of accuracy in almost the entire Middle East. Iran is almost totally covered by this radius, as is Israel, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and a good part of Turkey.

 

Range of the CSS V

 

The damage potentially caused by a 250 kT nuclear warhead on either Tehran or Tel Aviv is shown below.

Tehran

Tel Aviv

 

As seen, a large portion of the city would be destroyed, leading to potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties. By contrast, the atomic weapon dropped on Hiroshima was only 16 kT.

Saudi Arabia knows that the deciding factor in the Iran Iraq War was a massive Scud strike upon Tehran by Iraq, which effectively stopped the Iranians from progressing into Iraq. Such a similar strategy of missile war would therefore be attractive in the event that Iran threatened Saudi Arabia with a missile attack.

Iran does have the capacity to strike at Saudi Arabia with it’s Shahab 3 missile with a range of up to 1,800 km. While the Shahab 3 does not have the accuracy or range of the CSS-5, it can hold a nuclear payload of up to 800 kT, far greater than the CSS-5. There are rumours of either a Satellite Launch Weapon or the disputed Shahab 4, with a purported range of up to 3000 km being developed by Iran.

The status of Iran’s nuclear enrichment process is unknown, but wildly speculated. Even if Iran did develop the “bomb”, Saudi Arabia would feel the necessity to develop a nuclear deterrent of its own. To the House of Saud, having both its rivals in the region, Israel and Iran, with nuclear weapons, it would be unacceptable to not have the same capacity.

The most likely source of weapons grade fissionable material by the Saudis would be either a locally produced version or through direct purchase. Saudi Arabia has committed to building over 10 new nuclear reactors in the country in the coming years, which may be for civilian power, but which may easily be turned into military use.

A cheaper and easier alternative may be direct purchase of either nuclear materials or nuclear know how. The Pakistani government and Saudi Arabia have held long ties together, and with the nuclear network of former scientist Dr Khan from Pakistan, it is possible that Saudi Arabia has either already acquired nuclear material from Pakistan or is in the process of doing so. Khan is known to have had dealings with the Kingdom before his arrest. Even if the Saudi’s have not already purchased material, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Islamabad would provide such materials to their ally in the region.

The development of a nuclear armed Saudi Arabia is not a prospect which will generate further peace in the Middle East. The impact of such an action, along with a possible scenario if this occurred will be discussed in a further post.

 

World Missile Fleet

When Robin Hood Turns Evil

You all remember Robin Hood right? Fictional English character who was maligned by Mel Brooks and recently played by Russell Crowe?

Yes, This One.

Mythical or not, Robin Hood represented to many the quintessential struggle between the weak and powerful, between the rich and the poor. In reality, far from being a dashing figure supporting the poor by stealing from the rich with a smile, Robin Hood, if he even existed, was nothing more than a thieving ruffian, not too dissimilar from a guy rolling a 7-11 for loose change.

And yet, the legend of Robin Hood has come down as a man fighting against evil, Robin Hood, the criminal, is now Robin Hood the hero. With a growing tide of welfare funded and bored teenagers trying to find an identity in protesting against whatever power structure they can see, the ghost of Robin Hood is returning. From completely insane attempts to blatantly steal from banks through the so called “Robin Hood Tax” to the spirit of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, a concept of stealing from the rich to give to the poor is one which appeals to the anarchist supporters who criticize society from the air conditioned lecture halls of liberal arts degrees and Starbucks cafes.

I have no idea of how the banking system works!

But the Robin Hood Tax and Wall Street have to wait for another day.

The topic for today’s article is that of the new breed of vigilantism, aka “blatant theft and destruction of property”.

And, not surprisingly, this concept of anarchism against all power and authority began with an attempted terrorist attack and a Hollywood Movie.

In 1605, the so called Gunpowder Plot, an attempt by Guy Fawkes and supporters to blow up the English House of Lords, was thwarted by English authorities. This terrorist attack was planned by Guy Fawkes in the name of the Catholic Church and the Pope, as revenge against Protestant England. Guy Fawkes hoped that the blow would trigger a major uprising of English Catholics against the Protestant government, bringing down the political structure.

While the attack was apprehended, and Guy Fawkes was hung as a traitor, his spirit lived on, and now, the Bin Laden of his day is now lauded as a hero by those who share his spirit of anarchist rebellion.

The revival of the Guy Fawkes plot into modern society began with the comic book series “V for Vendetta”, which was later unfortunately made into a major motion picture. The motion picture, which seems to have inspired much of the stupidity surrounding protests in recent years, tells the story of a criminal and terrorist err freedom fighter “V” who wears a “Guy Fawkes” mask, commits acts of terror, murder, and insurrection, and then finally dies a hero fighting against a corrupt government which crumbles through popular resistance and protest.

The persona of this character has been taken on by both the Occupy Wall Street protesters

and by another, more mysterious, but equally menacing entity: The apply named Anonymous (Anon). Anon is a misunderstood entity, like a virus or bacteria, it is constantly moving, spreading, and growing, without a central nervous system, goal, or even strategy. Anonymous is the name of a band of internet activists or vigilantes. With the World Wide Web being the new Wild Wild West, Anonymous fills the role of the new modern day outlaw or bandit.

And we are all worse off because of it.

We are also retarded

Anonymous members are a secretive bunch, always hiding behind, you guessed it, a Guy Fawkes mask, engaging in hit and run attacks on their targets, and then bragging about doing so on Twitter, Youtube, and Internet message boards.

Loosely associated with the infamous message board 4chan (seriously, don’t go there unless you like making friends with Federal Agents), Anonymous have engaged in a variety of high profile raids and attacks upon websites and servers belonging to companies or governments they decide are oppressive.

A partial list of their exploits:

  • Organising protests and attacks against the Church of Scientology
  • Invasion and Attacks on the Epilepsy Foundation message boards (for reasons best known only to Anon)
  • Iranian election protests in 2009
  • Attacks upon the Australian government websites including the webpage of PM Rudd, the Parliamentary Homepage, and others in response to the Australian resolution to censor ISP content to block illegal materials

  • Operation Payback : In response to the backlash against Julian Assange, Anonymous launched a fullscale assault upon companies they saw as opposing Wikileaks, including VISA, Amazon, Paypal, and Sony which included Denial of Service Attacks upon corporate websites.
  • Operation Arab Spring: In this attack, Anonymous took down the website of the Syrian Ministry of Defence as a token of support for the insurrection by the Syrian people.

In all of these attacks, Anonymous is little more than a cross between a high school bully and a vandal who spraypaints graffiti on the wall of a building. They look upon themselves as the modern day Robin Hoods, fighting against oppression, but they come off looking more like a screaming chimpanzee flinging mud and sticks.

One of the largest, and possibly the most far reaching attacks by Anonymous, however, has been the recent attack on Stratfor.

Stratfor has been called the “Shadow CIA”, and is a global open source intelligence firm which both provides free intelligence updates, intelligence reports and briefings on a daily basis, along with research articles for their paid subscribers, and finally intelligence services for a number of government agencies and corporate bodies.

The site has been in existence for a number of years, and is highly regarded both in and out of government for their intelligence analysis and reports on economic, military, law enforcement, and counter terrorist topics.

In December 2011, Anonymous, in association with other cyber criminal units attacked Stratfor, claiming that the website was part of the oppressing elite by supporting the US intelligence bodies. At the end of the attack, up to 200 GB of data was stolen, along with the credit card numbers and personal information of 860,000 subscribers, including my own.

It was a rude shock the day after Christmas to learn about the attack. I am a paid subscriber to Stratfor, as I find their research and analysis extremely useful in my studies. To then find that the site had been compromised by Anonymous, a group I have long held in derision and contempt, and that my personal data had been stolen by this gang of thieves, was most galling.

By the way, the mental state of these monkeys can be see at the following, where they have uploaded to the internet the entire contents of their theft.

http://pastebin.com/f7jYf5Wd

Take a moment to read through their post, I urge you, and then ask yourself if this is the rantings of a rational and intelligent mind?

After the theft of this information, Anonymous proceeded to drain as many credit cards as they could, donating the money to charities such as the Red Cross. Little did these modern day Robin Hoods think, but receiving stolen funds isn’t really in the Red Cross’s bag of tricks. The end result were increased charges for the Red Cross, as every single donation had to be returned and the Red Cross was charged individually for every one. Along with the associated time and expense required to track down every donation and return it, Anonymous may just as well looted the Red Cross.

To this date, Stratfor remains closed, with all subscribing members given a year’s free subscription to an online identity protection program.

However, hopefully anonymous has finally stepped on enough toes to justify a swift response against these idiots. Along with people such as myself who lost personal information, other subscribers include Malcolm Turnbull, David Smorgon, former US Vice President Daniel Quayle, Henry Kissinger, and former CIA director Jim Woolsey.

Stealing the credit card details of the man who ordered the bombing of Cambodia and a director of the Central Intelligence Agency? If Anonymous are lucky they will find themselves on an express trip to a certain US Navel Base in Cuba.

But what is the real result of such internet theft? How many of the 860,000 people who had their credit card details stolen were evil people bent on world domination and suppression? These would include academics, law enforcement officials, think tanks, students, and journalists. What is the justification for attacking them? What is the justification of costing banks millions of dollars as they cancel and replace credit cards, as my bank as done to mine (so don’t go looking for my card information!).

If the truth be told, Anonymous is little different than a shadow criminal organisation. Theft and extortion is just that. It is not couched in the romantic notion of good vs evil. It is not a struggle of the rich against the poor. It is the struggle of the criminal against the rest of society. And unfortunately, the rest of society has to pay the price for this.

Anonymous can bleat as long as they can that they are only attempting to protect people’s identities by exposing security holes. But at the end of the day, let us call a spade a spade.

I think that Michael Lee said it best:

I like hearing when companies pay the price for lax security, but in the case of Stratfor, proving that someone’s security is weak by spilling everyone’s details is like peeing your pants to prove your parents aren’t supervising you. It might feel good and warm at first, but you ultimately end up being the loser.

http://www.zdnet.com.au/why-we-all-lost-in-the-stratfor-hack-339328821.htm

 

 

New Years Resolutions To Increase your IQ

Dear Citizens of the World.

This is Human Civilization and Decency, and after 2011, I am unhappy to inform you that I am most unhappy and displeased with both your attitude towards me and your general behaviour in regards to our relationship.

Now, I understand that as a society, your average IQ has been decreasing drastically over the years, and will continue to do so, thanks to day time TV, Jersey Shore, Google, and MTV.

So, I shouldn’t be too hard on you I guess. With IQ falling exponentially with a rising population, this means that more and more people are falling into the below average category. So, like a special needs individual, a lot of leeway should be granted.

But, people! At least try to be intelligent! I realize that being intelligent, and making choices which aren’t dictated by Lil Wayne or the Simpsons may be difficult, but let’s work together on this. I really really really want to see a better society, and a more intelligent world population in 2012. To accomplish this I have suggested a few New Years Resolutions which you can make. Just try some. Believe me, I will be happy if you even take one on board, as that will limit the assault on the existence of sense and decency.

Resolution 1 – I Will Get My News from Different Sources

While the news was once the highlight of an evening, with families crowding around at 6pm to hear about the goings on in the world, news today has been replaced with a mindless ballyhoo of shoddy reporting of issues which can be broken down into four categories:

1. Sports
2. celebrities and Entertainment
3. Shock and Awe Reporting
4. Filler Stories

Instead of getting the news straight from whatever usual outlet you use, why not actually subscribe to some feeds from other news agencies? Take Al Jazeera, Russia Today, CNN along with your Australian news. It is easy to subscribe to feeds from these, and the top stories can be emailed directly to your inbox every day. It won’t take more than 10 minutes a day to skim the top stories, and you will have a much better understanding of current events and world stories.

Cut down on the sports news, and if you can, cut down completely on gossip, celebrity, and entertainment news. We are trying to raise your IQ here, remember?

Pro Tip: Following This Will Not Raise Your IQ

Also, keep in mind that reading political blogs (such as this one!), statements by special interest groups, and so called “grassroots news” outlets may be fascinating and will most likely provide your mind with stimulating fare, however they are most often biased and there to report only one side for whatever point the author is trying to score.

Which brings me onto my next point:

Resolution 2 – “There Is No Free Lunch and I will stop expecting one”

You would think after thousands of years of civilization, humanity would realize that nothing is free in the world, nothing is what it seems, and things “too good to be true” are prefaced with this prefix for a reason.

And yet, day by day, we are offered fantastic prizes, opportunities, and wins that we have done nothing whatsoever to deserve, but which have fallen into our lap by a stroke of fortune. Spend 1/2 an hour on the internet, and you will most likely be offered free iPads, free money, free phones, free horoscopes, or free job offers.

A quick look through my email spam inbox gives me offers for the following:

1. Discount Canadian Medication
2. “Opportunities to Win Huge Payouts” at Club VIP Gambling
3. A “Well Paid Job” of $51,000 a year from a guy with a .yahoo.com email address
4. A Free Dell Laptop
5. A Free Subway Sandwich

Now, with the exception of possibly the free sandwich, I highly doubt that any of the above offers are going to come true for me. Even the free sandwich would require me to sign up for spam email, possibly download 6 viruses onto my computer, fill out 20 forms about insane topics, and then in the fine print inform me that the free sandwich is 6 inches, has no toppings, and has been on the floor for most of the day.

In 2012, remember that there is no Prince wanting to give you piles of money, no company willing to give you free stuff when you download their favourite spyware, no handsome partner who will fly into your arms if you send him or her $20,000 in cash, and no start up company willing to offer you a job sight unseen for big money.

Point is, scammers play on people’s emotions, their greed, their fear of missing out, their natural trust of other human beings. Don’t keep falling for these society!

Also on the topic of a free lunch, don’t expect one from life either. Our friends at Occupy Wall Street may make as much noise as possible, but the fact still remains that if you want something : money, skills, popularity, even a higher IQ, you have to work at it. Life won’t hand it to you for free.

This New Year, your resolution should include a clause where you promise to stop expecting a free ride and also a promise to refrain from complaining when you do not get one.

Resolution 3 – “I Will Ignore Idiots”

Remember when idiot behaviour used to be politely ignored and the idiot was either quietly reprimanded or publicly condemned, depending on the scale of the idiocy? Lately, it appears as if the idiot is the new “Homo Novus”, the next stage of human development. Now, the idiot can get massive public interest in his actions. He or she can get a book deal, TV show, prime time TV, and even public support for their stupidity. Even if most of society points at the idiot and loudly condemns them, they keep coming back for more of the same.

The idiot doesn’t care about being condemned. He knows that enough people will support him, and that this support will generate enough public debate that his name will be famous, even for a short time. Thus, his objective has been achieved. The idiot has been noticed, and all the rest of the world is a little bit stupider from paying attention.

From Charlie Sheen to Corey Worthington, idiots get the limelight. Our entertainment is becoming idiotic, our advertisements are idiotic, our politicians are idiotic, and why not? As a society, this is the new “X Factor”.

Forget about a time when the guy who invented electricity was revered. Forget about a time when a woman who devoted her life to helping the poor and the sick was seen as a national treasure. Now, the true champions of our society are different. It is the young rebellious teenager who throws a house party that ends in riot police intervention. It is the retarded individual who goes on national TV with a reality show that follows their life of insanity. It is the celebrity who experiences a drug fueled meltdown and captivates an entire world while thousands are dying on the other side of it in Japan.

This publicity seeking display of idiotic behaviour has gone viral, with everybody seeking a piece of it. From YouTube “stars” to Occupy Wall Street Protesters, idiotic behaviour has never had a better audience.

Here is a hint. Maybe the real idiots are us? Maybe they are the people who watch idiotic behaviour, either condemn or condone it, but keep on coming eagerly back to see more. And like a good capitalist producer, society keeps on handing us what we crave.

Stop this. Stop paying attention to retarded anything. Don’t follow idiots, don’t talk about them with friends, don’t hang out to see what level of insanity they will reach. Ignore them. If idiots were ignored, pretty soon they will wake up and realise that nobody cares.

Resolution 4 – “I Will Think Before I Vote”

If you hear people complaining bitterly about those in power, ask them two questions.

1. “Did you vote in the last election?” If not, please don’t talk about this, you don’t have the right to have an opinion on something you decided to have no say in when you could have.

2. “Second, if you did vote, can you tell me in less than a minute why you voted the way you did”? If you can’t, again, you don’t have a right to talk here.

While the idea of democracy may be tarnished, the fact remains that people, at least in Australia, vote in and tolerate a leader. It is the people’s choice, when they go to the polling booth, to vote a certain way. Forget about those who didn’t vote, they didn’t have a say in the election of a leader, and thus don’t have a real say in criticizing the sitting government.

Selecting a leader should be a process of intelligent thought and decision. Leaders should be elected on the basis of past performance and the integrity of their current policies, rather than the will of stupid people. However, we don’t live in such a world. We live in a world where a debate between opposing political leaders, one of whom will guide the country through some of the most turbulent times in history, must be rescheduled so that people can watch a celebrity cooking show. Enough said.

I Mean More to You Than Your Political Future!

Here is a crazy idea. Maybe you should put some thought into who you vote for? I am not telling you who to vote for, or even who the best political leader is. However, your decision in this regard should be one made intelligently. Think about it…

Resolution 5 – “I Will Watch Less TV”

TV Will not make you intelligent. TV is not intelligent, and is not likely to be soon. Television is interested in ratings and getting you parked in front of it for the longest amount of time. And surprisingly, the thing which gets people parked in front of the TV the longest is also the most retarded.

What were the most popular ratings in Australia for 2011?

1. The Block – 3.4 million
2. Australia’s Got Talent – 2.98 million
3. Underbelly Razor – 2.79 million
4. Masterchef – 2.75 million
5. 2011 Melbourne Cup – 2.67 million
6. 2011 AFL Grand Final – 2.64 million
7. Two and a Half Men – 2.52 million
8. State of Origin – 2.49 million
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_television_ratings_for_2011

Now, I will not comment on any of the above, but I ask those who have watched them, which of these are increasing your intelligence and providing new information to improve your mind? Out of the whole list, the majority of Australians were watching reality TV shows, gameshows, sports, and badly made sitcoms.

TV is made for stupid people. Like a baby’s rattle, it is a simple combination of light and noise to steal people’s attention and prevent them crying.

The baby is the one actually learning here.

Now, I am not saying to throw away the TV, or that sitting in front of it decreases your IQ exponentially. It’s a question of what you are watching and how long you spend there. In 2012, why don’t you watching something intelligent? Maybe the news? (Remembering Resolution 1). Or the Discovery Channel? Something that will teach you something.If you watch TV, watch TV intelligently

And if you get your entertainment predominantly from the Simpsons, Jersey Shore, MTV, Two and a Half Men, or any style of retarded reality TV show, please stop reading. Sorry to say, you’re too far gone – I think that Gordon Ramsey is about to swear at some water, you had better go and watch…

Now, I apologise if I have come across as being sarcastic in my rant. But I beg of you, please think about your actions in 2012. Try and act intelligently, or failing that, please stop acting stupidly. It will make me, society and decency, and all your fellow humanity breathe easier.

That is all…..Happy New Year……oh what? New Year? Great! Ok, you get a pass for the first 6 hours of 2012, as I know you are all going to do stupid things anyway. But from January 2nd, please think about this!

Regards,

Society