Al Saud, Al Khalifa Buying US, UK Arms to Cover Up Crimes in Region: Pundit

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior Irish political commentator said the oppressive regimes of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain continue to purchase arms built by the US and UK to whitewash their ongoing crimes against humanity in their own countries as well as Yemen and Syria.

Al Saud, Al Khalifa Buying US, UK Arms to Cover Up Crimes in Region: Pundit

“The Saudis and their despotic cronies in Bahrain buy massive arms exports, and Washington and London turn a complete blind eye to the violations inside these regimes and towards their regional depredations in Yemen and Syria,” Finian Cunningham told the Tasnim News Agency.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, and Strategic Culture Foundation.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: On May 23, Bahraini forces raided the village of Diraz, which has been under a military siege for almost a year, and stormed into the home of Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of Bahrain's Shiite majority. Regime forces killed at least five demonstrators, wounded dozens and arrested over 280 people during the crackdown. What’s your take on the assault?

Cunningham: This is an intensification of the vicious repression by the Al Khalifa regime against the unarmed, pro-democracy population of Bahrain, in particular the Shiite majority, who are historically the main source of opposition to the Western-backed regime. There can be no doubt that the US and British are giving at least a tacit green light to this surge in state violence. This repression has been going on for decades to shore up the unelected Khalifa self-appointed “royal” rulers in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf where absolute monarchs are backed to the hilt by Washington and London. In Bahrain since February 2011, the latest phase of repression has been unremitting and with impunity. This is because the Bahraini regime, like the other Persian Gulf monarchies, is shielded from international legal accountability by their Western backers, in particular the United States and Britain. This exposes the heinous lies from Washington and London that they somehow promote democracy and human rights. Both the US and Britain have military bases in Bahrain, so they are well aware of the horrendous violations being committed against the civilian population. What is heightening concerns is that these Western powers are now giving the Bahraini regime even more license to repress the population under the Trump administration and the British Conservative government of Theresa May. The recent regime attack on the Bahraini village of Diraz is a sign that the regime feels even more emboldened to violate international law and commit murder against the pro-democracy movement. Both Trump and May have advertised brazenly that their top priority is to support the Bahraini and other Persian Gulf regimes, primarily to boost their lucrative weapons industries. The US and Britain are thus giving their client regimes in the Persian Gulf an even greater license to kill like never before.

Tasnim: The deadliest raid in years occurred two days after US President Donald Trump publicly assured Bahrain's king that their relationship would be free of 'strain’ during his first official overseas trip. Following the visit, the Saudi regime also began a clampdown on its own people in the Shiite-populated Qatif region. Do you believe that Trump has given green light to Wahhabist regimes in the region to start a fresh crackdown on Shiites? Please explain.

Cunningham: Yes, Trump and his British counterpart Theresa May, are stooping lower than any other previous administrations, in their brazenness to indulge the tyrannical regimes in the Persian Gulf, in particular the Saudi regime. It’s a blatant license to kill because these regimes are stepping up the purchase of weapons from both the US and Britain. It is a total quid quo pro and it is criminal. The Saudis and their despotic cronies in Bahrain buy massive arms exports, and Washington and London turn a complete blind eye to the violations inside these regimes and towards their regional depredations in Yemen and Syria. There is no longer even a pretense at lip service about “concerns” over human rights from Washington or London. The latter are giving a license to kill with blatant impunity.

Tasnim: We know that the Middle East region has been suffering from years of insecurity, bloodshed, clashes and unrest. During his visit to Riyadh, Trump, however, signed an arms deal worth $110 billion with the Saudis, despite warnings he could be accused of being complicit in the regime’s war crimes in neighboring Yemen. What do you think about the deal and the ongoing aggression against the impoverished Arab country in the holy month of Ramadan?

Cunningham: The cynicism and recklessness of the Trump administration is staggering. It’s money profit and murder working hand-in-hand without even the slightest pretense to cover-up. The Saudi regime and its cronies are well documented as the source for regional violence and sectarian conflict through their sponsorship of Wahhabi extremists. And here we see Trump fueling that source of mayhem with $110 billion of weapons. We should not be surprised, however. American and Western hegemony in the oil-rich region depends on its support for despotic regimes and their extremist surrogates. This has always been so going back over the past century. But what is shocking is just how brazen and reckless this destructive client relationship has become. Even during the Holy Month of Ramadan, when the Saudi regime is massacring innocent women and children in Yemen, the Western powers show no restraint, even for superficial public relations sake. It all gets down to the sordid business of selling as much weaponry as possible to regimes and their dynamic for terrorism, without the slightest care for the horrendous repercussions. We are truly witnessing a monstrous expansion of US and British-backed violence in the Middle East.

The worrying bigger picture is that the Trump administration is fully supporting the Saudi and Israeli narrative of demonizing Iran and its allies in Syria and Hezbollah. The US, Saudis and the Israeli regime are openly agitating for war with Iran. It is a stupendous inversion of reality to blame Iran for regional instability – instability that is incontrovertibly the result of systematic Saudi state-sponsorship of terrorism and sectarianism across the region. As well as incorrigible Israeli violation of Arab rights with impunity. Trump has bought into this arrant nonsense for the cynical objective of selling more American weapons. One cannot discount either the sheer colossal stupidity of this US president. In so doing, the US is fueling the fires of regional conflict and pushing towards an all-out war with Iran, or even with Russia over Syria. It’s as insane as running truckloads of gasoline to a gang of arsonists. The US and Britain are complicit in huge crimes against peace and they must be prosecuted in an international court of law. Despite their conceited self-righteous rhetoric, the US, Britain and their Saudi clients are in actual fact culpable of Nuremberg-standard crimes. Other countries must ally together and bring about legal action, for example, through a class action initiated by the Non-Aligned Movement or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United Nations must also be outed and shamed as the ineffectual paper tiger that it is for failing to hold these rogue regimes to account. The UN is complicit in the breakdown in international law – a breakdown that has unerring parallels with the 1930s, the impotent League of Nations, the rise of fascism, state-sponsored gangsterism and the specter of world war. 

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