Israel and Saudi Arabia – The Roots of a Special Relationship

Israel and Saudi Arabia – The Roots of a Special Relationship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

This is an important
and well-researched article.  It shows
beyond doubt how the Saudi regime, which ousted its rivals in Arabia in the
period 1921-1925, worked closely with British imperialism.  Ibn Saud was unleashed as a weapon of the British
against those Arab rulers who refused to accept the Zionist colonisation of Palestine.  In other words, the corrupt Ibn Saud clan
were quislings and traitors from the start. 
Their barbarous and medieval practices, which involved stoning, flogging
and mass executions, were justified by the Wahhabi faith in the same way that
religion justifies repression in many countries.  Just as today Phillip Hammond justifies the
47 executions by the Saudis as the inevitable consequence of Sharia Law, thus
demonstrating his own ignorance as well as the priorities and concerns of
present day British imperialism.

 Tony Greenstein
Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud with Sir Percy Cox

Israel and Saudi
Arabia have worked for years together. 
Another example is in Lebanon where the Saudis supported the Phalangists
against the leftist Lebanese National Movement. 
In this they also worked with the Israelis.  The instance of co-operation with Israel in
Yemen in the 1950’s when Nasser supported the Republicans is well known.

Today Israel and Saudi
Arabia work hand in glove in opposing Iran and supporting the ‘moderate’
terrorists in Syria.
Tony Greenstein
Churchill and Ibn Saud in Egypt 1945
The
covert alliance between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Zionist entity of
Israel should be no surprise to any student of British imperialism. The problem
is the study of British imperialism has very few students. Indeed, one can
peruse any undergraduate or post-graduate British university prospectus and
rarely find a module in a Politics degree on the British Empire let alone a
dedicated degree or Masters degree. Of course if the European led imperialist
carnage in the four years between 1914 – 1918 tickles your cerebral cells then
it’s not too difficult to find an
appropriate institution
 to teach this subject, but if you would like
to delve into how and why the British Empire waged war on mankind for almost
four hundred years you’re practically on your own in this endeavour. One must
admit, that from the British establishment’s perspective, this is a formidable
and remarkable achievement.
Ibn Saud
In
late 2014, according to the American journal, “Foreign
Affairs
”, the Saudi petroleum Minister, Ali al-Naimi is reported to have
said “His Majesty King Abdullah has
always been a model for good relations between Saudi Arabia and other states
and the Jewish state is no exception.”
Recently, Abdullah’s successor, King
Salman expressed similar concerns to those of Israel’s to the growing agreement
between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear programme. This
led some to report that Israel and KSA presented a “united
front
” in their opposition to the nuclear deal. This was not the first time
the Zionists and Saudis have found themselves in the same corner in dealing
with a perceived common foe. In North Yemen in the 1960’s, the Saudis were
financing a British imperialist led mercenary army campaign against
revolutionary republicans who had assumed authority after overthrowing the
authoritarian, Imam. Gamal Abdul-Nasser’s Egypt militarily backed the
republicans, while the British induced the Saudis to finance and arm the
remaining remnants of the Imam’s supporters. Furthermore, the British organised
the Israelis to drop arms for the British
proxies in North Yemen, 14 times
. The British, in effect, militarily but
covertly, brought the Zionists and Saudis together in 1960’s North Yemen
against their common foe.
However,
one must go back to the 1920’s to fully appreciate the origins of this informal
and indirect alliance between Saudi Arabia and the Zionist entity. The defeat
of the Ottoman Empire by British imperialism in World War One, left three
distinct authorities in the Arabian peninsula: Sharif of Hijaz: Hussain bin Ali
of Hijaz (in the west), Ibn Rashid of Ha’il (in the north) and Emir Ibn Saud of
Najd (in the east) and his religiously fanatical followers, the Wahhabis.
Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud & fellow tyrant
Ibn
Saud had entered the war early in January 1915 on the side of the British, but
was quickly defeated and his British handler, William Shakespear was killed by
the Ottoman Empire’s ally Ibn Rashid. This defeat greatly hampered Ibn Saud’s
utility to the Empire and left him militarily hamstrung for a year.[1] The
Sharif contributed the most to the Ottoman Empire’s defeat by switching
allegiances and leading the so-called ‘Arab Revolt’ in June 1916 which removed
the Turkish presence from Arabia. He was convinced to totally alter his
position because the British had strongly led him to believe, via
correspondence with Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, that
a unified Arab country from Gaza to the Persian Gulf will be established with
the defeat of the Turks. The letters exchanged between Sharif Hussain and Henry
McMahon are known as the McMahon-Hussain Correspondence.
The Saud clan circa 1911
Understandably,
the Sharif as soon as the war ended wanted to hold the British to their war
time promises, or what he perceived to be their war time promises, as expressed
in the aforementioned correspondence. The British, on the other hand, wanted
the Sharif to accept the Empire’s new reality which was a division of the Arab
world between them and the French (Sykes-Picot agreement) and the
implementation of the Balfour
Declaration
, which guaranteed ‘a national home for the Jewish people’ in
Palestine by colonisation with European Jews. This new reality was contained in
the British written, Anglo-Hijaz Treaty, which the Sharif was profoundly averse
to signing.[2] After all, the revolt of 1916 against the Turks was dubbed the
‘Arab Revolt’ not the ‘Hijazi Revolt’.
Ibn Saud with President Roosevelt
Actually,
the Sharif let it be known that he will never sell out Palestine to the
Empire’s Balfour Declaration; he will never acquiescence to the establishment
of Zionism in Palestine or accept the new random borders drawn across Arabia by
British and French imperialists. For their part the British began referring to
him as an ‘obstructionist’, a ‘nuisance’ and of having a ‘recalcitrant’
attitude.
The
British let it be known to the Sharif that they were prepared to take drastic
measures to bring about his approval of the new reality regardless of the
service that he had rendered them during the War. After the Cairo Conference in
March 1921, where the new Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill met with all the
British operatives in the Middle East, T.E. Lawrence (i.e. of Arabia) was
dispatched to meet the Sharif to bribe and bully him to accept Britain’s
Zionist colonial project in Palestine. Initially, Lawrence and the Empire
offered 80,000 rupees.[3] The Sharif rejected it outright. Lawrence then
offered him an annual payment of £100,000.[4] The Sharif refused to compromise
and sell Palestine to British Zionism.
TE Lawrence of Arabia – who helped implement a Zionist agenda with the Arab revolt
When
financial bribery failed to persuade the Sharif, Lawrence threatened him with
an Ibn Saud takeover. Lawrence claimed that “politically and militarily, the
survival of Hijaz as a viable independent Hashemite kingdom was wholly
dependent on the political will of Britain, who had the means to protect and
maintain his rule in the region.” [5] In between negotiating with the Sharif,
Lawrence made the time to visit other leaders in the Arabian peninsula and
informed them that they if they don’t tow the British line and avoid entering
into an alliance with the Sharif, the Empire will unleash Ibn Saud and his
Wahhabis who after all is at Britain’s ‘beck and call’.[6]
Simultaneously,
after the Conference, Churchill travelled to Jerusalem and met with the
Sharif’s son, Abdullah, who had been made the ruler, “Emir”, of a new territory
called “Transjordan.” Churchill informed Abdullah that he should persuade “his
father to accept the Palestine mandate and sign a treaty to such effect,” if
not “the British would unleash Ibn Saud against Hijaz.”[7] In the meantime the
British were planning to unleash Ibn Saud on the ruler of Ha’il, Ibn Rashid.
Ibn
Rashid had rejected all overtures from the British Empire made to him via Ibn
Saud, to be another of its puppets.[8] More so, Ibn Rashid expanded his
territory north to the new mandated Palestinian border as well as to the
borders of Iraq in the summer of 1920. The British became concerned that an
alliance maybe brewing between Ibn Rashid who controlled the northern part of
the peninsula and the Sharif who controlled the western part. More so, the
Empire wanted the land routes between the Palestinian ports on the
Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf under the rule of a friendly party. At
the Cairo Conference, Churchill agreed with an imperial officer, Sir Percy Cox
that “Ibn Saud should be ‘given the opportunity to occupy Hail.’”[9] By the end
of 1920, the British were showering Ibn Saud with “a monthly ‘grant’ of £10,000
in gold, on top of his monthly subsidy. He also received abundant arms
supplies, totalling more than 10,000 rifles, in addition to the critical siege
and four field guns” with British-Indian instructors.[10] Finally, in September
1921, the British unleashed Ibn Saud on Ha’il which officially surrendered in
November 1921. It was after this victory the British bestowed a new title on
Ibn Saud. He was no longer to be “Emir of Najd and Chief of its Tribes” but
“Sultan of Najd and its Dependencies”. Ha’il had dissolved into a dependency of
the Empire’s Sultan of Najd.
If
the Empire thought that the Sharif, with Ibn Saud now on his border and armed
to the teeth by the British, would finally become more amenable to the division
of Arabia and the British Zionist colonial project in Palestine they were short
lived. A new round of talks between Abdulla’s son, acting on behalf of his
father in Transjordan and the Empire resulted in a draft treaty accepting
Zionism. When it was delivered to the Sharif with an accompanying letter from
his son requesting that he “accept reality”, he didn’t even bother to read the
treaty and instead composed a draft treaty himself rejecting the new divisions
of Arabia as well as the Balfour Declaration and sent it to London to be
ratified![11]
Ever
since 1919 the British had gradually decreased Hussain’s subsidy to the extent
that by the early 1920’s they had suspended it, while at the same time
continued subsidising Ibn Saud right through the early 1920’s.[12] After a
further three rounds of negotiations in Amman and London, it dawned on the
Empire that Hussain will never relinquish Palestine to Great Britain’s Zionist
project or accept the new divisions in Arab lands.[13]In March 1923, the
British informed Ibn Saud that it will cease his subsidy but not without
awarding him an advance ‘grant’ of £50,000 upfront, which amounted to a year’s
subsidy.[14]
In
March 1924, a year after the British awarded the ‘grant’ to Ibn Saud, the
Empire announced that it had terminated all discussions with Sharif Hussain to
reach an agreement.[15] Within weeks the forces of Ibn Saud and his Wahhabi
followers began to administer what the British foreign secretary, Lord Curzon
called the “final kick” to Sharif Hussain and attacked Hijazi territory.[16] By
September 1924, Ibn Saud had overrun the summer capital of Sharif Hussain,
Ta’if. The Empire then wrote to Sharif’s sons, who had been awarded kingdoms in
Iraq and Transjordan not to provide any assistance to their besieged father or
in diplomatic terms they were informed “to give no countenance to interference
in the Hedjaz”.[17] In Ta’if, Ibn Saud’s Wahhabis committed their customary
massacres, slaughtering women and children as well as going into mosques and
killing traditional Islamic scholars.[18] They captured the holiest place in
Islam, Mecca, in mid-October 1924. Sharif Hussain was forced to abdicate and
went to exile to the Hijazi port of Akaba. He was replaced as monarch by his
son Ali who made Jeddah his governmental base. As Ibn Saud moved to lay siege
to the rest of Hijaz, the British found the time to begin incorporating the
northern Hijazi port of Akaba into Transjordan. Fearing that Sharif Hussain may
use Akaba as a base to rally Arabs against the Empire’s Ibn Saud, the Empire
let it be known that in no uncertain terms that he must leave Akaba or Ibn Saud
will attack the port. For his part, Sharif Hussain responded that he had,
“never
acknowledged the mandates on Arab countries and still protest against the
British Government which has made Palestine a national home for the Jews.”[19]
Sharif
Hussain was forced out of Akaba, a port he had liberated from the Ottoman
Empire during the ‘Arab Revolt’, on the 18th June 1925 on HMS Cornflower.
Ibn
Saud had begun his siege of Jeddah in January 1925 and the city finally
surrendered in December 1925 bringing to an end over 1000 years of rule by the
Prophet Muhammad’s descendants. The British officially recognised Ibn Saud as
the new King of Hijaz in February 1926 with other European powers following
suit within weeks. The new unified Wahhabi state was rebranded by the Empire in
1932 as the “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” (KSA). A certain George Rendel, an
officer working at the Middle East desk at the Foreign Office in London,
claimed credit for the new name.
On
the propaganda level, the British served the Wahhabi takeover of Hijaz on three
fronts. Firstly, they portrayed and argued that Ibn Saud’s invasion of Hijaz
was motivated by religious fanaticism rather than by British imperialism’s
geo-political considerations.[20] This deception is propounded to this day,
most recently in Adam Curtis’s acclaimed BBC “Bitter
Lake
” documentary, whereby he states that the “fierce intolerant vision of
wahhabism” drove the “Bedouins” to create Saudi Arabia.[21] Secondly, the
British portrayed Ibn Saud’s Wahhabi fanatics as a benign and misunderstood
force who only wanted to bring Islam back to its purest form.[22] To this day,
these Islamist jihadis are portrayed in the most benign manner when their armed
insurrections is supported by Britain and the West such as 1980’s Afghanistan
or in today’s Syria, where they are referred to in the western media as “moderate
rebels
.” Thirdly, British historians portray Ibn Saud as an independent
force and not as a British instrument used to horn away anyone perceived to be
surplus to imperial requirements. For example, Professor Eugene Rogan’s recent
study on the history on Arabs claims that “Ibn Saud had no interest in fighting”
the Ottoman Empire. This is far from accurate as Ibn Saud joined the war in
1915. He further disingenuously claims that Ibn Saud was only interested in
advancing “his own objectives” which fortuitously always dovetailed with those
of the British Empire.[23]
In
conclusion, one of the most overlooked aspects of the Balfour Declaration is
the British Empire’s commitment to “use their best endeavours to facilitate”
the creation of “a national home for the Jewish people”. Obviously, many
nations in the world today were created by the Empire but what makes Saudi
Arabia’s borders distinctive is that its northern and north-eastern borders are
the product of the Empire facilitating the creation of Israel. At the very
least the dissolution of the two Arab sheikhdoms of Ha’il and Hijaz by Ibn
Saud’s Wahhabis is based in their leaders’ rejection to facilitate the British
Empire’s Zionist project in Palestine.
Therefore,
it is very clear that the British Empire’s drive to impose Zionism in Palestine
is embedded in the geographical DNA of contemporary Saudi Arabia. There is
further irony in the fact that the two holiest sites in Islam are today
governed by the Saudi clan and Wahhabi teachings because the Empire was laying
the foundations for Zionism in Palestine in the 1920s. Contemporaneously, it is
no surprise that both Israel
and Saudi
Arabia
are keen in militarily intervening on the side of “moderate rebels”
i.e. jihadis, in the current war on Syria, a country which covertly and overtly
rejects the Zionist colonisation of Palestine.
As
the United States, the ‘successor’ to the British Empire in defending western
interests in the Middle East, is perceived to be growing more hesitant in
engaging militarily in the Middle East, there is an inevitability that the two
nations rooted in the Empire’s Balfour Declaration, Israel and Saudi Arabia,
would develop a more overt alliance to defend their common interests.

Notes
[1]
Gary Troeller, “The Birth of Saudi Arabia” (London: Frank Cass, 1976) pg.91.
[2]
Askar H. al-Enazy, “ The Creation of Saudi Arabia: Ibn Saud and British Imperial
Policy, 1914-1927” (London: Routledge, 2010), pg. 105-106.
[3]
ibid., pg. 109.
[4]
ibid., pg.111.
[5]
ibid.
[6]
ibid.
[7]
ibid., pg 107.
[8]
ibid., pg. 45-46 and pg.101-102.
[9]
ibid., pg.104.
[10]
ibid.
[11]
ibid., pg. 113.
[12]
ibid., pg.110 and Troeller, op. cit., pg.166.
[13]
al-Enazy op cit., pg.112-125.
[14]
al-Enazy, op. cit., pg.120.
[15]
ibid., pg.129.
[16]
ibid., pg. 106 and Troeller op. cit., 152.
[17]
al-Enazy, op. cit., pg. 136 and Troeller op. cit., pg.219.
[18]
David Howarth, “The Desert King: The Life of Ibn Saud” (London: Quartet Books,
1980), pg. 133 and Randall Baker, “King Husain and the Kingdom of Hejaz”
(Cambridge: The Oleander Press, 1979), pg.201-202.
[19]
Quoted in al-Enazy op. cit., pg. 144.
[20]
ibid., pg. 138 and Troeller op. cit., pg. 216.
[21]In
the original full length BBC iPlayer version this segment begins towards the
end at 2 hrs 12 minutes 24 seconds.
[22]
al-Enazy op. cit., pg. 153.
[23]
Eugene Rogan, “The Arabs: A History”, (London: Penguin Books, 2009), pg.220.

 

 

 

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