It was deep into the night, somewhere over Siberia, in a Moscow to Beijing flight (BRIC to BRIC?) when the thought, like a lightning bolt, began to take hold.
What the hell is wrong with those Arabs?
Maybe it was the narcotic effect of that perennially dreadful Terminal F at Sheremetyevo airport -- straight out of a Brejnev gulag. Maybe it was the anticipation of finding more about the Russia-China joint naval exercise scheduled for late April.
Or it was simply another case of "you can take the boy out of the Middle East, but you can't take the Middle East out of the boy."
With friends like these ... It all had to do with that Friends of Syria (fools for war?) meeting in Istanbul. Picture Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal -- who seems to have a knack for sending US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into rapture -- feverishly arguing that the House of Saud, those paragons of democracy, had "a duty" to weaponize the Syrian "revolutionary" opposition.
And picture al-Faisal ordering an immediate ceasefire by the Bashar al-Assad government, guilty -- according to the House of Saud -- not only of cruel repression but crimes against humanity.
No; this was not a Monty Python sketch.
To make sure he was milking the right cow, al-Faisal also said that the Gulf Counter-revolution Club (GCC), also known as Gulf Cooperation Council, wanted to get further into bed with the United States. Translation, if any was needed; the US-GCC tag team, as expressed by the weaponization of the Syrian "rebels," is meant to body slam Iran.
For both the House of Saud and Qatar (the other GCCs are just extras), what's goin' on in Syria is not about Syria; it's always been about Iran.
This especially applies to the Saudi pledge to flood the global oil market with a spare oil production capacity that any self-respecting oil analyst knows they don't have -- or rather wouldn't use; after all, the House of Saud badly needs high oil prices to bribe its restive eastern province population into not even thinking about that Arab Spring nonsense.
Clinton got the pledge from the House of Saud in person, before landing in Istanbul. Washington's return gift was of the Pentagon kind; the GCC soon will be protected from "evil" Iran by a US-supplied missile shield. That implies that an attack on Iran may have been discarded for 2012 -- but it's certainly "on the table" for 2013.
Asian nations -- especially BRICS members China and India -- will keep buying oil from Iran; the problem is what the European poodles will do. Other real problems are that the Kurds in northern Iraq are taking their oil off the market until Baghdad pays them the share they had agreed upon. And then there are Syria's 400,000 barrels a day, which have been dwindling over the past few months.
Still, the Saudis will keep playing the make-believe oil scenario as a gift to Washington -- as the US pressures compliant European Union poodle economies and extremely wary Asians they have no reason to keep buying Iranian oil.
But then into this mess in Istanbul Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki -- whose power is a direct consequence of Washington's invasion and destruction of Iraq -- steps in with quite a bang.
Here it is, in his own words:
"We reject any arming [of Syrian rebels] and the process to overthrow the [Assad] regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region ... The stance of these two states [Qatar and Saudi Arabia] is very strange ... They are calling for sending arms instead of working on putting out the fire, and they will hear our voice, that we are against arming and against foreign interference ... We are against the interference of some countries in Syria's internal affairs, and those countries that are interfering in Syria's internal affairs will interfere in the internal affairs of any country ... It has been one year and the regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?"Maliki knows very well that the ongoing and already escalating weaponizing of Sunni Syrians -- many of the Salafi and jihadi kind -- will inevitably spill over into Iraq itself, and threaten his Shi'ite-majority government. And that irrespective of the fact that his administration supports the close Iran-Syria relationship.