White Elephants

Uri Avnery writes in Gush Shalom:

This week it became known that President Bush is about to supply Saudi Arabia with huge quantities of the most advanced weapons. The price tag is 20 billion (20,000,000,000) dollars.

Ostensibly, the arms are needed to strengthen Saudi Arabia against the Great Satan: Iran. In Saudi eyes, this is now the great danger.

How did this happen? For centuries, Iraq served as a wall between Shiite Persian Iran and the Sunni Arab Middle East. When President Bush toppled the Sunni regime in Iraq, the whole region was opened up to the Shiite power. In Iraq itself, a Shiite government was installed, and Shiite militias roam at will. The Shiite Hizbullah is growing in power in Lebanon, and Iran is extending its long arm to all the Shiites in the region.

Allah, in his infinite wisdom, has seen to it that almost all the huge Middle East oil reserves are located in Shiite areas: in Iran, in the South of Iraq and the Shiite areas of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf principalities. If these reserves slip away from US control, it will cause a drastic change in the balance of power, not only in the region but in the entire world.

Therefore, the strengthening of Saudi Arabia – ruled by conservative Sunnis – makes a lot of sense from the American point of view. However, the arms deal is quite irrelevant to this.

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