According to a statement published on the U.S. Department of State website, Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State, had a fairly long conversation with Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The website noted that both sides discussed ‘bilateral and regional developments, including countering the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activity and human rights’.
There are several noteworthy points in relation to this. The first is that all the high-level U.S. officials, including Donald Trump himself, have been increasingly communicating with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, instead of his father, the King of Saudi Arabia, and resolving any current issues with his help, which clearly demonstrates who is in charge in Riyadh. And this is not surprising considering the fact that the Crown Prince has taken advantage of his father’s old age and ill health by concentrating more and more power in his hands with each passing day. The few responsibilities that the elderly Saudi King still has are purely ceremonial in nature and include making public appearances on occasion.
Secondly, the two sides intend to ‘promote freedom of navigation’ in the Persian Gulf and not in the Gulf of Mexico or the English Channel. Even now U.S.-British military vessels are already there, away from their home shores, and it is anyone’s guess who they are posing a threat to. In reality, Iran has, on numerous occasions, proposed to its neighboring Arab nations to sign a pact on freedom of navigation and on protection of tankers in the Persian Gulf, but Riyadh has categorically refused to become involved in this initiative. Other Arab nations that are under Saudi Arabia’s powerful influence also refused to back this plan to promote freedom of navigation in this region of global significance. Perhaps only Qatar, which has a good relationship with Iran, supported the conclusion of such a treaty. But other Arab countries did not heed this view, and instead chose protection from the USA and Britain just as before in the colonial era.
A fabricated reason used to justify the presence of American and U.K. military ships in this region to supposedly promote freedom of navigation was chosen to be the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (NEDAJA) happened to have intercepted tanker vessels in the Gulf on three occasions. And these vessels were then directed to Iranian ports, where they and their crew were thoroughly searched, and illegal oil cargo was subsequently found. Afterwards warrants were issued by Iranian courts to detain such tankers and to confiscate their cargo, in accordance with international law relating to contraband. Hence, it appears as if by sending their naval ships on request from Riyadh to the Persian Gulf, both Americans and the Brits will end up protecting not only and not so much lawful vessels, but instead tankers smuggling oil.
In other words, Washington will, as always, promote illegal transportation of not only oil but other goods too. And there is nothing surprising about this. We only need remember a striking example of all the drugs smuggled from Afghanistan by Americans. When almost 20 years ago, the United States began its occupation of the independent nation of Afghanistan on a trumped-up pretext, they were able to increase the number of poppies planted almost 40-fold (these plants are used to produce powerful drugs). CIA staff created a reliable route to transport cheap drugs from Afghanistan to the United States and Europe that relied on the use of military cargo aircraft, which were not subject to any customs control or other searches. It came as no surprise that serving in Afghanistan became an extremely popular option at the Pentagon, as American servicemen were able to quickly become millionaires during their tours and to then leave the army.
Thirdly, the issue of ‘increased tensions’, advocated by both participants of the telephone conversation, arose because of actions taken without any grounds by the Saudi Crown Prince, who chose to unceremoniously interfere in Yemen’s internal affairs. We would like to remind our readers that residents of Yemen rebelled in January 2015, as foreign leaders ruled this nation for dozens of years and were appointed by its neighbor Saudi Arabia. Yemenis forced Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the President at that time, to retire.
It was then that the Saudi Crown Prince decided to interfere in the affairs of a neighboring country, and to try and reinstall the puppet regime. Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi escaped to Riyadh from Yemen, and Saudi bombs began dropping on Yemeni people, killing more than 70,000 of them over the past four years. In an attempt to re-establish its hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia has denied the existence of any legitimate claims that Yemenis might have. Instead, it wants the rest of the world to believe that these people are being mobilized and instigated by Iran, supposedly. With tens of thousands dead, Yemeni’s infrastructure destroyed, Saudi Arabia’s financial expenditure of more than $100 billion and its rapidly faltering reputation on the global arena, this nation, under the leadership of the Crown Prince, has found itself stuck in a quagmire, which it will find very difficult to escape from. In the opinion of many professional politicians, all of this, in the end, will put into question the very existence of this kingdom.
The more intelligent rulers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have already understood the futility of the war in Yemen, and are planning to withdraw their forces from this Arab nation in stages, according to available data. Incidentally, Qatari forces had long left the territory of Yemen. In addition, the Associated Press agency reported that the UAE and Iran had confirmed the completion of a successful round of bilateral negotiations. According to the statement issued by the two sides, the negotiations in Tehran between the representatives of the two nations focused on freedom of navigation. If they succeed, and their success is practically guaranteed, what will American and British naval ships defend then? It appears that they will end up protecting the increasing number of tankers transporting oil and other related products to China.
And while Riyadh is directing only its bombs and missiles towards its neighbor, Iran is preparing to send humanitarian aid to Yemen because of the current situation in this nation, as stated by Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister, during negotiations with Muhammad Abdul Salam, the official spokesman of the Houthi movement, Ansar Allah.
Hence, the telephone conversation between Mike Pompeo and Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud could not have had a positive outcome. Nevertheless, Washington and personally Donald Trump actively support the Crown Prince even after the international scandal in relation to the murder of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. So one might ask: “What is the crux of the matter and why does the American President continue such an amicable relationship with the Saudi Prince, at the expense of his own reputation?”. The answer to this puzzle is actually fairly simple, Donald Trump has honestly admitted that ‘Saudi Arabia has been a great friend to the United States and is a great purchaser’ of U.S. military equipment and many other goods. Hence Donald Trump’s moral principles are based on whether American industries are profitable or not, despite the fact that some of them manufacture products which have led to unprecedented destruction and death. Such a moral compass reflects a 180 degree shift in relation to the moral values espoused by the Quran, the Bible, the Torah or any other religious texts and philosophical teachings. It is the moral foundation of capitalism, an economic system that remains a dominant force in certain parts of the world, and that is being managed by the United States in a centralized manner.
It is thus not surprising that, at present and in the future, American military ships are to be and will be sent to the Persian Gulf to protect its Saudi ‘golden chicken’; increasing quantities of weapons for killing Yemeni and other civilian populations will be delivered, and unlawful sanctions against Iran and any other countries that oppose the hegemony of the United States and other Western nations will be imposed. After all, this aim is the quintessence of the imperialism exhibited by the West, which is still firmly stuck in the depths of the 20th century.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”