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Morally Depraved Obama Fails in Response to Egyptian Massacre

The New York Times headline for its story summarizing Barack Obama’s statement yesterday on the violence in Egypt parrots the administration’s hapless plea that Obama has few options in dealing with Egypt: “His Options Few, Obama Rebukes Egypt’s Leaders“. Obama’s grand statement delivered the stinging blow of canceling joint military exercises with the Egyptians. We also are reminded later in the article that the US has delayed delivery of four F-16 fighter jets without also being informed that this delay was announced prior to the massacre of Egyptian civilians.

In his statement, Obama never addressed the huge piece of leverage that the US does have in relation to Egypt. The roughly $1.5 billion in US aid that flows to Egypt each year is primarily for the military and supports about a third of the military’s budget. The article in the Times goes to great lengths to explain to us just why Obama can’t cut off this aid. We are told first that if we cut off aid, “Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates” will rush into the void to provide the missing funding And if that isn’t scary enough, we are told a couple of paragraphs later that cutting off the aid would open the door for Russia and China to step in.

With the death toll from the crackdown now above 600 and likely to go much higer, and with grisly videos surfacing of civilians being gunned down in cold blood by the military, we see a quote from the standard anonymous “senior official” who says “There’s a basic threshold where we can’t give a tacit endorsement to them.”

Just wow. The Egyptian military has staged a coup in which they have removed a democratically elected (although dysfunctional and failed) government and massacred over 600 of its citizens in cold blood. None of that rises to the level of the “threshold where we can’t give a tacit endorsement to them”? What on earth do they have to do to get the US to cut them off?

One answer to that question is in the next paragraph:

And it could destabilize the region, particularly the security of Israel, whose 1979 peace treaty with Egypt is predicated on the aid.

It would appear that Egypt can kill all of its own civilians it wants with the weapons and money we provide as long as they don’t also kill any Israelis.

But there is another insidious tie in the US aid to Egypt. US defense contractors are making tons of money off of it. From a Bloomberg piece describing US support of the Egyptian military two years ago at the beginning of the uprising against Mubarak: Read more

Warrick Parrots US Documentation of Iran-al Qaeda Rift, Ignores Larger Iran-Saudi Arabia Context

Joby Warrick takes to the pages of the Washington Post again today in his primary function of regurgitating whatever points the US government wishes to make. In today’s installment, Warrick is repeating US statements on how Iran’s expulsion of Suleiman Abu Ghaith reveals a widening crack between Iran and al Qaeda, but by confining his report to the talking points he got from the government, he misses the larger context of how the Iran-al Qaeda issues fit into the overall propaganda battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Here is the beginning of Warrick’s report (which he begins, of course, by crediting “US officials”):

Iran’s expulsion of a senior al-Qaeda official appears to signal a crackdown on the terrorist group that has long been granted safe haven within its borders, U.S. officials say.

Iran’s ouster of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a former al-Qaeda spokesman and the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, marked at least the third time in the past year that a prominent al-Qaeda figure has left the country after living for years in a limbo between houseguest and home detainee.

U.S. officials and terrorism experts say the tougher stance appears to reflect growing tensions between Iran’s Shiite clerics and the Sunni Muslim terrorist group, particularly over the civil war in Syria, where they are backing opposing sides.

Despite the fact that the primary source of support for al Qaeda, as a “Sunni Muslim terrorist group” is Saudi Arabia, that country is never mentioned in Warrick’s report. Such an omission is especially glaring because Iran is producing much material right now in its ongoing propaganda battle against Saudi Arabia. The UN report on human rights in Iran released earlier this week provided much fodder for Iran’s propaganda machine. In the press release accompanying release of the report, the UN noted:

An independent United Nations expert today voiced serious concern about the general situation of human rights in Iran, pointing to “widespread and systemic” torture, as well as the harassment, arrest and attacks against human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.

“The prevailing situation of human rights in Iran continues to warrant serious concern, and will require a wide range of solutions that are both respectful of cultural perspectives and mindful of the universality of fundamental human rights promulgated by the treaties to which Iran is a party,” said the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed.

/snip/

At the same time, a “preponderance of reports” communicated to him this past year indicate that that the situation for individuals in Iran who advocate for the advancement of human rights, or those that document, report, or protest against human rights violations, is “grave and continues to deteriorate.”

People who defend the rights of women, religious and ethnic minorities, as well as those that work to advance protections for the environment, workers and children continue to be subjected to harassment, arrest, interrogation, and torture and are “frequently charged with vaguely-defined national security crimes, which is seemingly meant to erode the frontline of human rights defence in the country,” said the expert.

At Fars News, Iran is denouncing the report and Shaheed, blaming “terrorists” aligned with the West for fabrication. Remarkably, though, at Mehr News, Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of exactly the same offenses as the UN found against Iran, specifically the abuse and imprisonment of human rights activists: Read more

Are We Giving Saudi Arabia Nukes?

No no, not the bomb. Strictly a peaceful civil program, you understand, just like the Iranians say they’re developing.

As Bush flew into Riyadh, the White House said the United States, the world’s largest energy consumer, had agreed to help protect the resources of the world’s top oil exporter and help it in developing peaceful nuclear energy.

"The United States and Saudi Arabia have agreed to cooperate in safeguarding the kingdom’s energy resources by protecting key infrastructure, enhancing Saudi border security, and meeting (its) expanding energy needs," a White House statement said.

"The U.S. and Saudi Arabia will sign a memorandum of understanding in the area of peaceful civil nuclear energy cooperation."

The announcement came as Bush ended a three-day trip to Israel where he vowed to oppose Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Tehran says its program is peaceful but Bush said it would be "unforgivable" if Iran were allowed to get the bomb.

So we’re giving Saudi Arabia nukes while still refusing to allow Iran nukes.

And for all that, Saudi Arabia isn’t even willing (though I question whether, at this point, they are able) to lower gas prices?

While Bush is likely to find common ground on Iran when he meets King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch is expected to rebuff for the second time this year Bush’s face-to-face call to get OPEC pumping more oil to world markets.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Bush was decrying negotiations with evil dictators? Does giving them nuclear technology while getting nothing in exchange count as "appeasement"?

The Supplicant to Kings and “Entrepreneurs”

Via email, joejoejoe highlighted a line from Bush’s speech to Saudi "entrepreneurs" that Holden had highlighted.

And one of my concerns was after September the 11th that our visa policy, particularly for Saudis, was tightened to the point where we missed opportunity to show young and old alike what our country is really about.

As joejoejoe points out, we tightened a very permissive visa policy with the Saudis because 15 Saudis used that permissive visa policy to enter the US and kill 3000 Americans. Letting Khalid al-Midhar into the country to see "what our country is really about" apparently did little to persuade him not to get into a plane and kill lots of Americans.

But that wasn’t the only supplication that Bush offered these Saudi businessmen. Here’s the whole statement.

I’m George W. Bush, President of the United States. (Laughter.) Thank you all for joining us. Ambassador, thanks for setting this up. It’s important for the President to hear thoughts, hopes, dreams, aspirations, concerns from folks that are out making a living. And I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to come and visit with me. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

One thing that’s for certain: The United States benefits when people come to my country. And one of my concerns was after September the 11th that our visa policy, particularly for Saudis, was tightened to the point where we missed opportunity to show young and old alike what our country is really about. I love the fact that some of you were educated in America. I think you’ll find you got a good education there, but more importantly, Americans get to see you, and you get to see them. And the best way to achieve better understanding in the world is for folks just to get together, and get to understand that we share the same God, and we share the same aspirations for children and for our futures. Read more