Saudi Arabia humiliated as Houthis fight on

Abqaiq oil plant

On 14 September the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were attacked with drones and missiles, temporarily halving the country’s oil production and halting more than 5% of global oil supplies. The attack was claimed by the Houthi resistance to the Saudi-led war in Yemen, although Saudi Arabia and its supporters quickly blamed Iran. For Saudi Arabia, as well as its allies in the US, Britain and Israel, it was a humiliation. With some of the biggest military budgets in the world and the most extensive ‘intelligence’ networks, they failed to prevent a hugely disruptive attack carried out with equipment which cost just tens of thousands of dollars. TOBY HARBERTSON reports.


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Saudi Arabia: Malevolent and dangerous

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Human rights campaigners protest against arms sales to Saudi Arabia used in human rights abuses in Yemen

With US President Trump’s agreement to sell Saudi Arabia $110bn worth of weapons, the US ruling class is showing that it intends to forge a coalition of allies in the Middle East, including Israel, in an attempt to preserve US domination over the region. As US imperialism’s relative economic and ideological strength weakens, so it resorts to its unrivalled military superiority to compensate and maintain its global hegemonic position. The US is determined to prevent the unity of Iran with Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon and is supported in this by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, Turkey and Egypt. The US fuels sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims to help it keep control of the Middle East’s strategic fuel resources; control vital to limit potential rivals China, Russia, India and Europe. Trevor Rayne reports.


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Iran and Saudi Arabia: regional rivalry

With the failure of the US and western imperialism to secure their rule and dominance in the Middle East by waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, regional powers have competed for influence. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran have all been vying for positions. Their competition has stoked sectarianism between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and they have used it to promote their influence.

The distinction between Sunni and Shia Muslims derives from a dispute over who should lead Muslims after the death of the Prophet Mohammed in 632AD. Shia constitutes between 10% and 15% of the world’s Muslims, but Shia form a majority of the populations in Iran and Iraq. In the Middle East there are substantial Shia minorities in Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia wants to be the world’s leading Sunni nation. Arguments between Saudi Arabia and Iran may cite seventh century battles, but it is not theological or historical disputes that are driving sectarian fights in the Middle East. They are being driven by the pursuit of money and the desperation of ruling classes to cling to and increase their power, at each other’s and the masses’ expense. Imperialism seeks, as ever, to profit from sectarian divisions and fosters them when it needs to.  


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Saudi Arabia: a malign force

The war on Islamic State (IS) will not confront one of its major sources of support and inspiration because Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest exporter of crude oil, selling over one in every ten barrels traded. Saudi and Gulf capital are pivotal to the imperialist financial system. The wealth and power of the Saudi monarchy poisons the Middle East with sectarian hatred and buys compliance in Britain, Europe and the US. Trevor Rayne reports.

Saudi capital is integral to the City of London and Wall Street; the giant banks and multinational corporations are interwoven with Saudi and Gulf corporations. For forty years Saudi money has funded counter-revolution and reaction in the service of imperialism. The Saudi government supported NATO’s attack on Libya in 2011 with money and weapons. Saudi Arabia funded and armed jihadi groups fighting the government in Syria. Successive British governments are deferential to the barbaric Medieval dynasty that rules Saudi Arabia, cherishing its arms orders and grateful for Saudi collusion in maintaining imperialist domination of the Middle East.


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Saudi Arabia: imperialist attack dog

In May 2013 it was revealed that British arms deals with Saudi Arabia have reached £4bn over the last four years. In 2012 this included £112m worth of ammunition grenades for crowd control, components for military aircraft and combat vehicles, and components for electronic warfare. British ruling class figures visit the kingdom with minimal press coverage. Any visit recorded is always presented as promoting 'human rights'. Meanwhile, Saudi residents are decapitated, flogged and raped. The Saudi ruling elite provides arms to reactionaries in Syria and Libya and exports savage repression to the working classes of Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s loyalty to US and British imperialism is astounding.


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Cameron in Saudi Arabia – November 2012

'We have a history of supporting human rights around the world,' David Cameron, 5 November 2012, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi

While British newspapers and TV news channels showed smiling images of the Obama family and told us about the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Prime Minister David Cameron has been on an apparently low-key trip to sell weapons of mass murder to kings and princes in the Persian Gulf. Cameron visited Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, to secure lucrative deals for BAE Systems to provide £6bn in war machinery, 'to help Britain compete and thrive in the global race.' In the next year Britain will sell around 100 Typhoon jets to the region, worth £126mn each. Saudi Arabia bought 72 in the last year and is keen to acquire more. British exports to the region are worth £17bn pounds a year, as much as to China and India combined.


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