An absolute smasher here. Surfeit, vigorously meticulous & painstakingly crammed, this is a resoundingly impressive repository on these two somewhat exceptional countries & their historic rivalry. I was hitherto unacquainted with the author Dilip Hiro, who turns out to be somewhat of a savant, having written over thirty books, mostly examining Central Asia, the Middle East & India, oil & colonialism. At a little under 400 pages & recently published in 2018 (& therefore largely up to date with Saudi Arabia’s growing inferno), the book is a brilliant compendium & resource on this long-running conflict.
Similarities & dramatic polarities. Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the West has largely been one of appeasement, deference & lots & lots of cash. The Kingdom continues to be one of the world’s largest & weightiest paradoxes… an extremely austere & ultra conservative Salafist theocracy pertaining ultimate Islamic authority & preeminence, run by an absolute monarchy of Western/Anglophile-obsessed dissolute epicure mega-oligarchs, renowned the world over for their record profligacy & overt & grossly-excessive material vulgarity. It’s difficult to square the latter, by any stretch of the imagination, against the association or adherence with the pious muslim, or any of the tenets & prohibitions of the Koran. Anyway, whether this is the proverbial cherry on top of the shit-heap of world powers making a miracle-mockery of the proclamations they ceremony or not is another contest altogether, with formidable opposition from a whole gaggle of international offenders. Inescapable though, is the monumental hypocrisy, pretense, fallibility & self-confutation at the core of The Kingdoms constitutional assertion.
Iran is an entirely different creature. Post the Iranian Revolution, it’s mostly “officially” been given the pariah treatment & had to deal with varying degrees of political isolation, demonization & extraordinarily unfair & erroneous hypocrisy, emanating mostly from the US, Israel & Saudi Arabia (the real “axis of evil”). Saudi Arabia & Israel’s “blatant breaches” & frequent (if not baseline) flagrant violations of international law, state extremism & harsh authoritarian abuses that supposedly defy the founding pillars of the western moral code, are constantly overlooked, defended, excused or tacitly tolerated, whilst Iran’s manouevres are fanatically condemned. Iran’s prolonged maltreatment & ostracization has effectively lead it to become more & more self-sufficient, durable & sagacious for its survival. Despite massive & sustained interference, trammeling, sanctions, scurrility, exclusion, misinformation & even the brutal eight-year war with Saddam Hussein’s neighboring Iraq (very much facilitated & obliged by the West) Iran continues to outperform it’s many detractors. There are many problems, some by the Republics own decisions & others from the immensely difficult circumstances that are foisted on them by their bellicocious & sanctimonious adversaries. It’s difficult (perhaps even for their opposition?) to not hugely admire the countries resilience, ingenuity, temerity & multi-dimensional acumen that flies-in-the-face of the malign, unilateral & supremely unjust intentions of their committed enemies.
Dilip really trawls the full length of both countries recent histories (which is very recent for Saudi Arabia, as it’s only been in existence since 1932 compared with Iran/Persian lineage that predates many thousands of years) with incredible scope & detail. The two recent events that most engrossed me was the Princes very recent Ritz coup & Chumps initial hostility & certainty of the Saudi’s masterminding the terrorist attacks of 911, a staunch conviction that he is now clearly happy to forget for his personal gain from the new relationship that has successfully been fomented.
Expectantly, in November 2017, under the auspice of an anti-corruption purge, 381 individuals, including some of the country’s most rich & powerful, were secured & then detained at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz Carlton hotel under the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. They were ‘coerced’ into signing over huge quantities of their personnel fortune to the state under duress. so strenuous was some of the ‘duress’ that one died (Major General Ali al Qahtani, battered, bearing burns from electrical torture & with his neck broken) & “at least seventeen were hospitalized”. The total of the requisitioned haul was estimated at $106.6 billon. “while it was refreshing to see the state at last holding the elites to the rule of law, it was counterproductive to use coercive, potentially illegal methods to apply the hurriedly enacted law”. A heist amongst thieves.
Second is Chumps initial judgement & hostility towards Saudi Arabia. The infinite garbage, faecal blurting & ceaseless high-pressure-rectal-spraying, inextricable from the president elect – leaves an ever expanding trail of piling super-contradiction that multiplies every time he makes a statement or tweet. Despite his continually plummeting standards & permanent exodus from not just infant-level-human-morality, but reality itself, we must never fail to slay this knave with his own immeasurable oxymoron’s & game-changing double-standards & hyper-hypocrisy. Dilip has included, now extraordinarily important documentation in the books script form Chumps campaign trail. In February 2016 at a rally in Bluffton Ohio, Chump spoke the following – “ It wasn’t the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Centre. It wasn’t the Iraqis. You will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Centre,’ cuz they have papers in there that are very secret. You may find it’s the Saudis, ok? But you will find out.” The following morning he quotes Chump on Fox News stating this – “Who blew up the World Trade Centre? It wasn’t the Iraqis – it was Saudi – take a look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents.”
One prime character that was surprisingly absent from Dilips book is the horrendous psychosexual Saudi sodomite Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Nasir al Saud, who murdered his homosexual partner/serf/manservant Bandar Abdulaziz at the Landmark Hotel, Marylebone, London in 2010 in some kind of bizarre & malicious homo-erotic attack. the pair had been jet-setting around Europe, as is so common for Saudi royalty. In London, in a binge of ritz, rent-boys & clubbing, the Prince was caught on an elevator CCTV camera callously battering his ‘manservant’. He tried to plead ‘diplomatic immunity’, but in a rare ray of western decency was denied, tried, & sentenced to 20 years for murder. He was repatriated to Saudi Arabia in 2013 to serve out the rest of his time in The Kingdom, which is funny, as homosexuality is a capital offense there, punishable by death. Obviously not if you’re in the House of Saud.
That important omission aside, this is an incredible piece of work, replete with very important information & analysis on this unnecessary crisis that is burning out of control.
Dilip Hiro, Hurst & Company, 389 pages.