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The US-GCC Fatal Attraction

By       Message Pepe Escobar     Permalink
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There's no way to understand the larger-than-life United States-Iran psychodrama, the Western push for regime change in both Syria and Iran, and the trials and tribulations of the Arab Spring(s) -- now mired in perpetual winter -- without a close look at the fatal attraction between Washington and the GCC. [1]

GCC stands for Gulf Cooperation Council, the club of six wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates -- UAE), founded in 1981 and which in no time configured as the prime strategic US backyard for the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, for the long-drawn battle in the New Great Game in Eurasia, and also as the headquarters for "containing" Iran.

The US Fifth Fleet is stationed in Bahrain and Central Command's forward headquarters is based in Qatar; Centcom polices no less than 27 countries from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia -- what the Pentagon until recently defined as "the arc of instability." In sum: the GCC is like a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf magnified to Star Trek proportions.

I prefer to refer to the GCC as the Gulf Counter-revolution Club -- due to its sterling performance in suppressing democracy in the Arab world, even before Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia over a year ago.

Cueing to Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, the Rosebud inside the GCC is that the House of Saud sells its oil only in US dollars -- thus the pre-eminence of the petrodollar -- and in exchange benefits from massive, unconditional US military and political support. Moreover the Saudis prevent the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) -- after all they're the world's largest oil producer -- to price and sell oil in a basket of currencies. These rivers of petrodollars then flow into US equities and Treasury bonds.

For decades virtually the whole planet has been held hostage to this fatal attraction. Until now.

Gimme all your toys

The GCC, essentially, is the core of the empire in the Arab world. Yes, it's essentially about oil; the GCC will be responsible for over 25% of global oil production within the next few decades. Their tiny ruling classes -- from monarchies to business associates -- function as a crucial annex to the mighty projection of US power all across the Middle East and beyond.
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That explains, among other things, why in October last year Washington closed a juicy US$67 billion deal -- the largest bilateral deal in US history -- to supply the House of Saud with a prime collection of brand new F-15s, Black Hawks, Apaches, bunker-buster bombs, Patriot-2 missiles and warships.

It explains why Washington will shower the UAE with thousands of bunker-buster bombs, and Oman with Stinger missiles. Not to mention another juicy mega-deal -- worth $53 billion -- with Bahrain, which has not gone through yet because human-rights associations -- to their credit -- have fiercely denounced it.

And there's the redeployment -- or, in Pentagon speak, "repositioning" -- of 15,000 US troops from Iraq to Kuwait.

The rationale for all this weaponized orgy is provided by the usual suspect logic; the necessity of building a "coalition of the willing" to "counter Iran." Why Iran? Half-jokingly, because Iran is not part of the GCC -- that is, a pliable US satrapy, just like in those jolly good times under the shah.

Adam Hanieh, professor of development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and author of Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States has been one of very few global analysts trying to decode the centrality of the GCC in the imperial strategy. In a crucial interview, Hanieh outlines all one needs to know. And it's not pretty. [2]
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As Asia Times Online has extensively documented, the Arab Spring was virtually dead on arrival in the GCC. In Oman, Sultan Qaboos basically distributed loads of cash. In Saudi Arabia, there was fierce pre-emption and sustained hardcore repression in the Shi'ite majority Eastern province, close to Bahrain, where the oil is.

And in Bahrain itself, there was not only hardcore repression -- with documented detention and torture of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters -- but an outright invasion by Saudi and UAE troops.

The invasion may have given the GCC the sweet taste of an actual physical expansion. Morocco and Jordan -- although not exactly in the Gulf as basic geography rules -- were "invited" to be part of the wealthy club; after all they are duly reactionary Sunni monarchies, not "decadent" secular Arab republics like Libya and Syria.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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