In 1981 Democratic President Jimmy Carter left the White House leaving for his Republican successor Ronald Reagan three hot issues: the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, a herd of American hostages in Tehran – including diplomats and spies- and the US backed “Contra” bands fighting the victorious Sandinista revolution. To tackle, not necessarily, solving these three crises, the new US President turned to Saudi money. Reagan inaugurated his presidency by helping organize the “Jihad” against the “atheist” Soviets in Kabul whereby Saudi religious figures-with full State support – used the annual Muslim pilgrimage to encourage young Muslims to heed the call for Jihad. Saudi secret service would make sure that the recruits reach Peshawar in Pakistan where they would be trained and supplied with arms by American-Pakistani intelligence agents and sent into neighbouring Afghanistan. Saudi money would also finance the Contras in Nicaragua in what became famously known as the Iran gate or Iran-Contra; an arms deal in which Iran got arms to help its war effort against Iraq in return for releasing the hostages in Tehran.
Within a short while, in the mountains of Tora Bora and the valleys of Waziristan, Al-Qaida was born after its own founding father, Saudi billionaire, Osama bin Laden, himself a Jihadi recruit for the cause in Afghanistan, received the necessary finances, training, and arms – all courtesy of his Saudi government and its American ally. The US and its allies spent much of the decade dreaming the wonderful world they were creating in which Afghanistan was peaceful and Soviet-free just as the American hostages were free from their Iranian student captors. No one imagined what Al-Qaida will be and where its cadres will end up a few years later until 2001 when America woke up to a “jihadist incursion” on its own soil carried out on 9/11 by the same monster it had helped to create from not too long ago. Did the US and allies learn anything from that? Not really!
The same old pattern was about to be repeated with little deviation from the standards of things when Republican President George W. Bush left the White House in 2008. He left behind, to his clever successor Barak Obama, two hot files and a steaming one. The first two hot potatoes were: the meaningless “war on terror” and the remnants of his foreign policy doctrine “creative chaos”. However, the less hot file appeared to be the most complex and dangerous of all. By then the “phenomena” of Afghani Jihad, which has been spreading westwards ever since the 1980s threatening Saudi Arabia itself, has made huge strides in as faraway places as Libya, Tunis, and Egypt in North Africa. When it invaded Iraq, the Bush administration provided the best regional hub for Al-Qaida to be close to its next “theater of operations”, and by destroying all means of that country to be as such again, the US created the kind of favorable environment the terror organization can only dream of.
“Creative chaos” was first tried in Iraq, after its occupation, but the trial produced far more creative results than the likes of Rumsfeld & Co. ever predicted possible by making the country something of a new entity in which wars never end and national sovereignty never exists let alone practiced. A country where the “social contract” is no longer between the State and its citizens but between the State and ethnicities, religious factions, and warlords making the “citizen” a pawn for his/her religion or tribe rather than a citizen of the country where he has rights and obligations determined by law.
However, it’s the Afghan model that will dominate the politics of the region from Rabat to Damascus. And by earlier 2011 the call for jihad was so intense that hundreds of EU citizens had to heed it along their Muslim brothers all over the world. However; the “land of jihad” moved from Kabul to Tripoli, Damascus, Yemen, and even Tunis.
Again the US President had to call upon his Saudi friends to help solve matters and once again the Saudis did not hesitate. The Kingdom provided the religious justification along with the finances to reproduce the same model applied to Afghanistan decades earlier with very little changes in tactics and manuals. This time tiny Qatar, aspiring to dislodge the bigger sister, and the huge media machine controlled by Saudi money played vital role in driving the jihad message home to millions of unsuspecting Arabs and Muslims across the globe from America to Indonesia and the influx of “Mujahedeen” started to stream not to Kabul but to the Middle East and beyond. Damascus, Mosul, and even Sirte on the Libyan coast, became the hot flash points of Saudi “religiously legitimized”, financed, and American initiated and encouraged hotspots of jihad.
The U.S., and, indeed, the entire world woke up to the call from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a graduate of Baghdad university, and a veteran of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, not only calling himself a Calipha of poor Muslims at Syria’s Raqqa but calling on them to join him there or carry out jihad in his name wherever they might be, and whenever they could, and by whatever means available to them.
While we are only days away from the next US President, and whoever that person might be, he/she will have to receive from outgoing White House incumbent, Barak Obama, some unfinished business. Needless to say, this left over tasks will certainly include remnants of Daesh, the Sunni-Shiite conflict, and whatever pieces of the so called “Arab Spring.” Daesh has but exhausted its course and Al-Qaida is likely to take its place as the public enemy number one if only in theory. And again the next US commander- in-chief will turn to his Saudi allies for help and again they will be willing to re-play some of their old tricks to help.
However, this time the Kingdom is far more threatened than it used to be in 1980s; jihad in Kabul will prove to be a piece of cake compared to what the Kingdom helped unleash over the last three decades of sustainable brainwashing of millions of poor Muslims. But the House of Saud today is stretched to its limits by entangling itself in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria with potential conflict with regional super power Shiite Iran which the Kingdom have been demonizing and misrepresenting as a Shiite monster and an enemy of Islam and the Arabs contrary to what they have been saying all along that Israel is their enemy. The next US President, (if as I believe is Donald Trump) will call on the Saudis but this time he comes armed with long term and inexhaustible weapon: JASTA law.
Justice against Sponsors of Terrorism Act was passed by huge majority that overrode the President’s veto with one aim: to blackmail the Kingdom for a long time to come. Donald Trump as a greedy capitalist will only love to have JASTA ready for him to enforce.
While the world awaits the next day, after the US election and the Mosul battle, it can be certain that much of what is coming is only a replay of something old that has already been seen many times but, as usual, few will actually notice!
(The above represents the personal views of the Author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the CAAPR)