Friday, June 23, 2017

Hystery Repeats Itself?

In July 1914 - some three months after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo - the Austrian governent officially got around to making-up its mind about 'who dunnit' and what they wanted in return.  They announced the delivery of an 'ultimatum' to the Kingdom of Serbia - which was blamed for 'supporting terrorists' - and gave that country 48 hours to accede to a list of 13 demands.

The Austrian Ultimatum

We're seeing that same variety of phony affront repeating itself, to-day, in the Persian Gulf, with the Government of Qatar this week receiving an 'ultimatum' fom Saudi Arabia, and a 'coaltion' of  its Arab allies.  They have 10 days to  respond  to the 13 demands raised for 'solution' , no indication been made of the ultimate part of the ultimatum  - what happens if the 'solutions' aren't forthcoming.

We know what happened to the civilized world in August 1914,  after the Serbians agreed to comply with only 12 of the  points.  Could the same thing happen again over a squabble in the 'royal houses' of Arabia?

It  is said that, in 1914, the nations of Europe went to war as a result of political alliances and an over-reliance on the necessity of putting 'war plans'  into effect, frst, to attain a quick victory.  They also went to war over the superiority of 'stupid'.  We are 'celebrating'  the centennial of the third year of that 'great failure' this year in 2017. There's another anniversary year to go. They might not be as bloody - unless your'e a casualty - but  our recent wars have taken the cakes for longevity.

While the 'first' world nations may not  have formal 'alliances' and 'treaties' with the Arab World,  its interests are very much tied-up with theirs.   The 'civilized nations' of the world, often by mutual 'agreement'  have been engaged in active wars there for 17 years now - another one would hardly come as news.  But this one could be the 'doozie' that the others, so far, have failed to be.-  the one that gets us out of the Mall and away from Bushco the Second's  'shopping for the big win'.

Thus far we've told ourselves we've been fighting 'insurgents' and 'terrorists' and 'extremists'  and  their goats, but so far we haven't had 'the beauty of our weapons' blessed with 'vict'ry' and we've used most everything in the arsenal of 'democrazy' (save the ultimate thundermug) to beat them.  What we haven't really done, yet, is actually go to war - or a war that would affect us almost as much as we've affected millions. We're still looking for somebody 'beatable' to fight. We've found them (Russia, Iran, Turkey(?)) and now we may actually be 'on' to fighting  them.

Donald Trump recently visited Saudi Arabia. Along with signing the largest weapons deal in Saudi history, he also addressed a gathering of the allied 'Arab States'.  The keynote of his address was that America was finally fed up with ISIS and terror -  and the Arabs were going to have to stand up and do more about that.   Within days the Sauds were complaining that the Qataris  was 'dissing them' in official announcements. For a while it appeared that the ubiquitous 'Russian hackers' were involved, again, but the Sauds weren't mollified by merely blaming Putin's goons.

 The response came two weeks later when Saudi Arabia started fingering the Emir of Qatar as the latest version of Dr. Evil and the fountainhead of all that is terrible. It blamed Qatar for the spread of what America calls 'islamic terror' - the major supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas and Hezbolleh  terror networks in Gaza and Lebanon.  It didn't mention DAESH or ISIS because thery're sponsored, I guess , by Saudi Arabia and  other 'good'  members of the UAE.  Qatar was blockaded in a number of ways and a list of grievances was to be prepared.

That list was presented on June 22.

The Saudi Ultimatum

So far the reaction of states involved has been muted. Obviously the Sauds and the Qataris are exchanging negative views  and the infamous Al Jezeera - something the Sauds want shut-down - is cotinuing to broadcast, very cogently,  the Qatari side of the argument.  Qatar immediately found itself on the receiving end of some surprising support - the US State Deaprtment questioned Donald Trump's stated position on the opening salvo and since then, at least, he has piped-down.  To-day America announced it sees the situation as a 'family squabble' and is willing to send family therapy workers. The Turks, very suprisingly, announced their support for Qatar and even flew in some troops.  If the Sauds were expecting any votes of support from western nations that reponse has been highly muted. Nobody is calling for any humanitarian  bombings of Doha,  or volunterring the air forces to do it.

Another cypher, so far, is Iran - a nation with which Qatar shares an oil field, some trade relations - and incidentally - a non-antagonistic public policy.  One of the thirteen points objects to Qatar breaking-step with the Sauds on the 'evil that is Teheran'.  The Iranians announced that they were sending in food aid.  They also fired rockets across Iraq onto "ISIS targets' in Syria - missing to the chckling from Washington  - but perhaps a gentle reminder that Riyadh is closer? Theyalso didn't get huffed when the Sauds shoy up an iranian fishiung boat inthe Gilf - two days later announcing they had 'stopped' an armed incursion by Iranian Special forces aimed at seizing islets in the Gulf.

Iran Misses the Mark?

As a subset to all of this are recent developments in Saudi Arabia.  As most people don't know, every single one of the numerous Kings of Saudia Arabia - those Shriners in sunglasses we've all seen photos of since childhood,  have ALL been brothers.  Starting with King Saud who took over when the big daddy of them all,  King AbdulAziz, popped-off in 1953 the sons of Addul Aziz  in order of seniority, (at least one was passed-over due to obvious incompetence) have taken it, in turn, to sit on the throne. The current incumbent - Salman is the last of the brothers.  He has taken the unique step of changing the succession process - which after his death is 'up for grabs' - by  naming his son Prince Mohammed,  as the heir to the throne. In doing so he effectively eliminates all the other potential heirs - the sons of the other Saud Kings - as  candidates for the crown.  At last count that was about 25 000 Saudi Royals.

Mr. Everything

It could be that Mohammed - who as Saudi Foreign Minister would have overseen Saudi Arabia's latest 'interventions' in Syria and Libya and who 'owns' the intervention in Yemen, is now 'angling' for some kind of 'victory' to shake at his, possibly envious, cousins.  He needs some success to 'blood himself' as a  real warrior-king before his 82 year-old papa slips away and leaves him undefended.


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