Growing volatility in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) does not augur well for the planet’s future. If current levels of entropy persist, the result would be a fossil-fuel induced global pandemonium. The mainstream and alternative media are of little help in making sense of the larger regional issues at stake, and one would have to resort to a risk foresight methodology—as the author did—to game out possible denouements. The following narrative represents one such end-scenario.
End of the US-Gulf Arab alliance
The US military umbrella for the Gulf Arab world may soon come to an end. There are sound economic reasons for this: Washington had spent close to $10 trillion in protecting Persian Gulf Arab tyrannies and their oil infrastructure since the promulgation of the Carter Doctrine in 1980. This mind-boggling figure, topping $300 billion per annum, was largely based on a 2010 analysis by Roger Stern, an economic geographer at Princeton University. Since then, one can safely add another trillion or two to the $10 trillion tab, in keeping with the deficit ballooning penchant of the Obama administration.
The human cost of this four-decade protection racket has been equally disastrous in terms of native civilian and US military casualties, not to mention global public perception. The rise of global jihadi terrorist networks, co-created by the United States and its Gulf Arab protégés, has inevitably equated America with ISIS. News-savvy global consumers may even pause to wonder if American products or services purchased may end up funding ISIS and a galaxy of Islamic terror stalwarts. This is bad for US business. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump may therefore be allowed to prevail in a rigged bipartisan electoral circus; one where the exercise of American democracy is conducted in full liberty at a ballot boot between Scylla and Charybdis!
The US has lost credibility on all fronts. Even its vacuous boast of being a “Christian nation” is belied by omnipresent national symbols such as the Eye of Horus on the dollar note, Ishtar masquerading as the Statue of Liberty and Hillary Clinton appropriating the mantle of Jezebel. The global proselytes of “American Christianity”—a bizarre militaristic gospel—persist in driving up sales of American bibles and subscriptions to “prophetic” cable TV channels which end up enriching the Saudis and the global jihad enterprise. Here is where American schizophrenia is at its incurable best; one where the Evangelical becomes the effective funder and tormentor of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere, even while the itinerant American “prophet” seeks tithes and “love offerings” from overseas congregations made ever more vulnerable by the Evangelical-Wahhabi-Military complex he represents.
Many are however taking belated note of this devil’s pact between the United States and the Saudi-led Gulf Arab world. Winning hearts and minds and attempting geostrategic pacts like the “Asian pivot” is impossible under current status quo. The Wahhabi and his ilk stand in the way of a reinvigorated US global outreach. The obscurantists need to go. Redacted portions of the official 9/11 report must be released to implicate the Saudis; legislation allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia must be allowed to gain momentum; and former ally Pakistan needs to be declared as a terrorist state. Obstacles and presidential vetoes notwithstanding!
The economics of betrayal
US taxpayers can no longer support Gulf Arab security or fight its wars. The stated “isolationist” foreign policy of Trump reflects this changing economic reality.
The Gulf Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia are now caught in a triple-whammy. Their depleting fossil fuel revenues can no longer support heavily-subsidized social programs at home, radical Islamist proselytization and terror activities abroad, and challenge the rise of the US shale oil industry. Saudi attempts to bankrupt the shale oil sector have only backfired. Instead, the US has emerged as the largest producer of petroleum products in the world. The Saudis are not only superfluous to US interests; they are now akin to an explosive-rigged monkey on Uncle Sam’s back.
A sudden collapse of the Saudi-led Gulf Arab monarchies is however undesirable as the resultant oil shortages may lead to global turmoil. A new Islamic champion would be needed to gradually take over those innumerable charities, madrassas, mosques and even militant groups that were traditionally funded by Riyadh and Doha, under guidance from Washington and London. Even now, calls are rising from Iran to Turkey to Pakistan for a new stewardship over Islam’s holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Wahhabism is being conveniently scapegoated for all the ills afflicting the Islamic world even though its forms, practises and manifestations were a recurring theme that long predated the sect.
The new plan kicked off with the Aug 25–27 Grozny conference themed “Who are the Ahlu-s-Sunnah” (People of Sunnah) in which the Saudis were noticeably absent. The event brought together close to 200 Sunni and Shia prelates from all over the world. Among them was Egypt’s Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb from Al-Azhar University—the paramount theological authority in the Sunni Islamic world. El-Tayeb effectively called for “a return to the schools of great knowledge” beyond Saudi control. Even the official OIC website, which would have never dared cross their Saudi and Gulf Arab benefactors before, were enthusiastic about the event.
The message seems clear: Islam needs a new quasi-Caliphate that can unite Sunnis and Shias outside Saudi control, along with a collective leadership having full jurisdiction over Mecca and Medina.
The diversionary role of Pakistan
Any attempt to wrest control over Mecca and Madinah—the traditional imprimatur of leadership in the Islamic world—will be costly, prolonged and bloody. The inevitable chaos may involve Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals and there is no way the current crop of globalists will allow the Middle East’s valuable oil fields to be reduced into a radioactive sea of glass.
Something needs to be done to keep Pakistan’s vast military and nuclear arsenals busy in another direction. Here is where heightened geopolitical tensions with India may come in handy. Perhaps, Pakistani generals may be incentivised to spark an all-out war with India over Kashmir while the Gulf Arab world disintegrates. Considering the famed pecuniary sleaze of the Pakistani general staff, any proposition that offers Kashmir in return for Islamabad’s military non-participation to save Mecca and Medina should be a clincher. After all, nationalistic Pakistani cries against the spectral “Yahood Aur Hanood” (Jews and Hindus) have perennially been half-empty and half bogus. But it does fill the pockets of its generals to the brim. It has never stopped Pakistan from attempting to establish quasi-diplomatic/military ties with Israel. Yes, you read that right! The self-styled Khorasan army of Islam is perennially knocking on Jerusalem’s door as a supplicant and not as a conqueror, despite popular delusions to the contrary!
The ‘Qibla of Control’
Whoever controls Mecca controls the Islamic world. Mecca is not only the focal direction (qibla) of Muslim prayers worldwide; it brings untold wealth to its guardians in terms of Hajj revenues. Iran naturally has been tinkering with age-old plans to break this monopoly and replace Mecca with Karbala as the centre of (Shia) Muslim pilgrimage. Either way, once the Middle East turns into an inferno, the Sunni world may not have the WMD and military backing of a Pakistan preoccupied with battling India. This scenario is not a chimera, for there is no shortage of spoilers and usurpers in the region. Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had notably warned of ISIS’ designs on Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. While Jerusalem poses an almost insurmountable obstacle, ISIS may yet be able to level the Saudi cities under the patronage of a new, non-Wahhabi master.
The ruination of Mecca and Medina however poses two principal fallouts. The first would be the ensuing social backlash among 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. There are many imponderables here, but Pakistan may have been used as a test bed to simulate the effects of mass Islamist-led pandemonium during the Day of Love for the Prophet on Sept 21, 2012. The event was ostensibly held to protest an amateurish YouTube video that mocked Islam. Simultaneously-choreographed frenzied protests elsewhere now suspiciously appear like a pilot test designed to measure social fragility in Muslim-majority enclaves and nations.
Ironically, there were far more provocative anti-Islamic videos, write-ups and photos available on the Internet, not to mention a publicly accessible US Army solution to nuke Mecca and Medina as part of a “total war on Islam.” This solution was unveiled before senior US Army officers at the Department of Defence’s Joint Staff Forces College from 2011 onwards. The Pakistani authorities and military brass who organized the “Day of Love” carnage voiced no outrage at this horrific solution. Instead, they begged the United States for more military aid. Kashmir and the Indian bogey, after all, are more important than any American plan to nuke Islam’s holiest sites. The United States is not the only nation eyeing this end game. The Syrian Army recently discovered a Turkish instructional manual on the use of nukes during a recent terrorist-combing operation. Why would terrorists be given nuclear weapon manuals unless such a device may magically appear for a yet unknown reason and target? Did the recent farcical siege of Incirlik yield a few nuclear weapons to Turkey? Did Pakistan deliver a few nukes to ISIS-backer Saudi Arabia?
Any social fallout from the destruction of Mecca and Medina may yet be contained as Pakistan showed on its “Day of Love.” NATO members have also instituted a variety of emergency laws between the Sept 11 attacks and the ongoing urban jihadi phenomenon across the Western world. Immigrant backlash provides the pretext and blueprint to introduce regional martial law when the time is right.
The second major fallout from Mecca’s obliteration poses a bigger dilemma. Which direction should one-fifth of humanity now turn to in prayer? The majority Sunnis will not accept Karbala as a focal point of Islam but there yet remains another city that once directed the original qibla. It is none other than Jerusalem which houses the Jewish Temple Mount on which the Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock are situated.
If Mecca is ever blighted, Israel will face intense pressure from the Western-led “international community” to cede joint custody of the Temple Mount to Turkey, which may emerge unscathed as the new caliphate. Pressuring Israel may not be too difficult. After all, Western societies have constantly pontificated against annual US military aid to Israel, which averaged $3 billion since 2007. The ratio of Western moral proprietary in this context is indeed inverted by a factor of 100. The average Westerner rarely, if ever, takes notice of the $300 billion spent by the US per annum over the past 40-odd years to securitize Gulf Arab regimes which, in turn, frees up native petrodollar profits for global jihad. According to a 2003 testimony provided at a US Senate committee on terrorism, Saudi Arabia had allegedly spent $87 billion between 1980 and 2000 on promoting “Wahhabism” worldwide. This included the financing of 210 Islamic centres, 1,500 mosques, 202 colleges and 2,000 Madrassas.
In other words, the United States had actively subsidized global jihad to the tune of trillions over decades. One wonders if the recent pilferage of $6.5 trillion from US Army accounts was a rainy-day slush fund intended for global jihad and other nefarious activities in a post-Wahhabi world.
The end game
Israel may have gamed out some aspects of the end-scenario outlined by this analysis. Yet, the hastily concluded $38 billion arms deal with United States may have come too little, too late. Will Jerusalem still persist with its recidivist criminal hostility towards a secular Syrian state that buffers it from ISIS and other jihadi groups? Is it any wonder that New World Order advocate Henry Kissinger—and not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as claimed by delirious American evangelicals—had predicted Israel’s imminent demise in 2012? (The Western media later went on a damage control frenzy to spin this “misquote”)
At the end of the day, one trend remains certain: The MENA’s self-destruction will accelerate. How this process morphs is open to question. The terminal phase may begin with an externally-engineered Indo-Pakistani war and end either in a bloody denouement in Jerusalem or an Israeli “peace treaty” with a Turkish-led quasi-caliphate. However, India and Israel can yet avoid those innumerable traps strewn across the vast geographic swath between their borders. The sequel to this analysis will explore such options.
© 2016 Mathew Maavak
Mathew Maavak is a doctoral researcher in security foresight at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).