While we all watched former FBI Director James Comey say a whole bunch of nothing during Senate testimony Thursday, much of the rest of the world caught on fire. And though Comey captivated the media cycle, there are plenty of far greater domestic problems than his spat with HR.
In answering lawmaker questions Thursday, Comey made one thing abundantly clear: At the time he was fired by President Donald Trump, there was no active FBI investigation into whether Trump worked with Russia to affect the election outcome.
In other words, it was a bad day for Democrats. That’s the opposite of what they were all looking to hear, and why every mainstream media outlet spent the entire day covering the Comey testimony.
But there was some other major news unfolding as the testimony dragged on. Big news. The situation throughout the Middle East continued to deteriorate at a more rapid pace than we’ve seen in awhile.
And if you don’t think that’s a big deal, remember that the president’s first international trip was to Saudi Arabia.
The barbaric and archaic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is still considered a prominent U.S. ally in the Middle East despite its atrocious human rights record, clear evidence that it funds terror and its outright rejection of the democratic western values that make this country great.
Thing is, almost nobody ever asks why.
If you want to know more about the current centerpiece of Middle Eastern turmoil , read Bob Livingston’s latest column on Qatar.
The short version is this: The small nation state is currently in the middle of a big proxy war among Middle Eastern power players. At the heart of the situation is the ongoing power struggle for dominance over natural resources in the region and, more importantly, control over supply lines.
The proverbial man behind the curtain is Saudi Arabia.
Here’s a brief explanation via Bloomberg:
Tiny Qatar is the world’s No. 1 exporter of liquefied natural gas. Its $335 billion sovereign wealth fund owns stakes in global companies from Volkswagen to Glencore and Barclays. Its influence goes beyond money. It’s also home to the forward headquarters of CENTCOM, the U.S. military’s central command in the region.
The worst crisis in decades among the Gulf’s Arab monarchies is underpinned in part by the regional rivalry between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s strongest Sunni power, and Shiite Iran, which has cordial relations with Qatar, known for its contradictory ties. Qatar says the Saudi charges against it are a ploy for regional dominance, but frictions have been mounting for years over Qatar’s backing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its Hamas offshoot in the Gaza Strip.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have both criticized each other for supporting Islamist groups fighting in Syria.
Qatar, in other words, has cordial relations with competing factions. And, that’s why the “why” of the U.S.’s alliance with Saudi Arabia is important.
As Livingston notes: “Qatar shares the largest natural gas reserves in the world with Iran. Antagonizing Iran will not serve Qatar’s interests. And when they declined to join the cabal they were put on the bad list. So Qatar is pivoting to Russia and sending its foreign minister to Moscow to talk about the situation.”
Pivoting to Russia means, unspoken or not, supporting Russia’s interest in keeping Syrian leader Bashar Assad in power.
Saudi Arabia isn’t going to let that fly, and neither can the U.S. military-industrial complex.
And that brings us to the “why” American power players are happy to do business with one of the most un-democratic nations in the world.
As I noted last year:
American financiers, military contractors and the government itself all stand to lose a massive amount of money and international power if Saudi Arabia ever steps away from its petrodollar agreement with the U.S. The petrodollar system stipulates that Saudi oil sales to other countries are handled exclusively in U.S. fiat currency.
Current global trends and plummeting oil prices last year threaten the House of Saud’s continued economic prosperity. And unless the country is able to kill off as much competition as possible, the Saudis are likely to look for other trade options. They really don’t want to do that. After all, we treat them like kings.
Russia quietly abandoned the petrodollar earlier this year. Syria did the same shortly before unrest bubbled up in the country. And a Syria/Russia alliance in the region is a nightmare for the Saudis.
That next useless war we all believed was inevitable under a Clinton presidency is probably right around the corner.
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