Capital suggestion - Dr Farrukh Saleem - Sunday, February 20, 2011

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Seventy-eight years ago, Standard Oil of California paid King Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, the first monarch of Al Mamlakah al Arabiyah as Suudiyah, ?35,000 in return for a concession to explore for oil. Within five years, Dammam Number 7, the 7th well drilled, promised that there was more oil than Standard Oil of California’s wildest dream.

By 1943, President Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the US, had concluded that for the US to be the world’s premier hegemonic power the US would have to seize control over oil reserves. Roosevelt declared that “the defence of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defence of the United States”. On 14 February 1945, Roosevelt invited King Ibn Saud for a meeting aboard USS Quincy, a Baltimore class heavy cruiser (USS Murphy, a Benson-class destroyer, was sent to Jeddah to get the King along with ten of his men and sheep).

Since that fateful day in February, sixty-six years ago, Saudi Arabia has been an absolute monarchy; no political parties, no elections and the “7th most authoritarian regime” on the face of the planet (The Economist’s Democracy Index). Saudi Arabia has also been severely criticised by the UN Committee Against Torture and the House of Saud, with 7,000 members, controls almost all of national wealth.

Since that fateful day in February, sixty-six years ago, Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama have all defended Kings Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd and Abdullah as if they were defending the United States. Air Marshal Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak ruled Egypt, the largest Arab country, for thirty years – thirty years of repressive governance with frequent, brutal crackdowns by the Central Security Forces. Egypt’s press freedom is rated at 143rd out of 167 and criticising the president inevitably invites harassment. On January 28, Joseph Bidden, 47th Vice President of the US, told PBS News Hour, “I would not refer to Mubarak as a dictator.”

Since 1979, when the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty was signed, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W and Barack Obama, pumping a colossal $60 billion, have all defended Mubarak as if they were defending the United States.

Thirty-three years ago Lieutenant Colonel Ali Abdullah Saleh forcefully assumed the presidency of al-Jumhuuriyya al-Yamaniyya, or the Republic of Yemen. President Saleh’s security forces, according to Derechos Human Rights, have been “responsible for torture, inhuman treatment and even extrajudicial executions. There are arbitrary arrests of citizens as well as arbitrary searches of homes. Prolonged pre-trial detention is a serious problem, and judicial corruption, inefficiency, and executive interference undermines due process.” Yemen ranks 136th out of 167 nations and the president has a monopoly over all television and radio stations.

Corruption under President Saleh has been rampant and Yemen remains one of the poorest of countries. President Saleh, however, is America’s anti-al Qaeda ally in the region.

On Thursday, King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa’s military killed at least five unarmed protestors. America’s Fifth Fleet is in Bahrain. Vice Admiral Mark Fox commands a Carrier Strike Group, Expeditionary Strike Group, submarine force, Reconnaissance Force and Maritime Surveillance Force.

Wherever there is oil there is America. Iraq has 112 billion barrels of proven reserves. America has a dozen active duty combat brigades in Iraq. Kuwait produces 1.9 million barrels a day and sits on 96 billion barrels of proven reserves. US Army’s V Corps is in Kuwait. The 3rd Infantry Division, with 230 M-1 main battle tanks, 280 M-2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 50 M-109 self-propelled artillery pieces, 27 Multiple Rocket Launch System and some 60 helicopters, is in Kuwait. The UAE has 98 billion barrels. The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, with three reconnaissance squadrons, is in the UAE. Qatar has 15 billion barrels. CENTCOM, the theatre-level Unified Combatant Command, has its forward HQ in Qatar.

O America, you support and sustain unpopular leaders, especially in the Muslim world! O America, your foreign policy is based on arrogance and jingoism! O America, you assist, comfort and protect corrupt, repressive and dictatorial regimes, especially in the Muslim world! And then you ask, “Why do they hate us?”

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad. Email:

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