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  #51  
Old 09-20-2019, 08:23 PM
Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
But on a scale of one to ten, Saudi Arabia is a seven and Iran is a nine.
I honestly don't know that I agree. I think I've discussed this before, but I regard SA as being rather more socially retrograde than Iran in its treatment of women, foreigners and in terms of embryonic democratic institutions( which might be barely breathing in Iran, but at least there is a social tradition of them there ).

They're both horribly repressive places that have funded terrorism. I think Iran scores worse on the international scene on average( though SA bears A LOT of quiet responsibility for nurturing the intellectual milieu in which groups like the Taliban emerged ), but I'd regard SA as internally a little worse if you're not a very discreet royal. But it's a bit like discussing which is more vile, vegemite or marmite - you can make a reasonable argument either way .

The biggest thing SA has going for it is realpolitik. It has made its bed, that bed is the United States and though it has its own priorities it seems reasonably committed to sleeping in it. It's a semi-faithful ally if only because there are no better options for them. Unfortunately it just so happens to be a nasty, repellent ally.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 09-20-2019 at 08:24 PM.
  #52  
Old 09-20-2019, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Daylate View Post
P.J. O'Rourke wrote (in a book about the Gulf War) that the press corp had a standing bet of something like a case of champagne to anyone who saw a Saudi lift anything heavier than a 20 dollar bill.

To my knowledge, the bet was never collected.
Let's leave ethnic jokes, particularly jokes with no factual basis, out of this thread.

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  #53  
Old 09-20-2019, 08:56 PM
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The issue may have to do with the petrodollar.
  #54  
Old 09-20-2019, 09:02 PM
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Why is the Saleh/Houthi/Iran-affiliated seemingly doing much better than the Hadi/government/Saudi-affiliated faction? The desert doesn't seem like it would kind terrain to unconventional forces against a better equipped adversary with planes and possibly satellite intel.

If Iran keeps up its gunboat/missiledrone diplomacy, what could the other side do? It seems like SA or the US could target Iranian energy facilities and networks without needing an Iraq-like invasion.
  #55  
Old 09-20-2019, 09:12 PM
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If we're going to bomb something in Iran, I'd prefer it were IRGC facilities or components of their nuclear enrichment program.
  #56  
Old 09-20-2019, 10:33 PM
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It's a semi-faithful ally if only because there are no better options for them.
In what ways is Saudi Arabia a "semi-faithful ally", in your opinion?

In the way that they funded 9/11? In the way that they apparently don't actually fight their own wars? In the way that they murder journalists?
  #57  
Old 09-20-2019, 11:28 PM
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The desert doesn't seem like it would kind terrain to unconventional forces against a better equipped adversary with planes and possibly satellite intel.
You're visualizing the country wrong - Yemen geography. There is a indeed huge sand desert in Yemen, but almost nobody lives there. The areas worth fighting over and consequently the region in contention is rugged hill country, some of it on the western slopes actually temperate in climate. It is pretty suited to guerilla warfare and has been the graveyard of a lot of foreign armies over the centuries. Think of it as the Arabian penninsula's version of Afghanistan. The intractable civil war Egypt participated in in the 1960's is sometimes referred to as "Egypt's Vietnam."

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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
In what ways is Saudi Arabia a "semi-faithful ally", in your opinion?
In that they kow-tow( usually )to American regional geopolitical interests, however hegemonic those may be.

Don't get my wrong, I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing. I don't think we should be getting in the middle of this mess either and Saudi Arabia is every bit as shitty a player as certain other notable past developing world U.S. "allies" like the late Shah of Iran. It's an alliance of convenience only. Once Britain no longer played the role of power broker in the Gulf, the U.S. stepped in as a new patron.

So SA is going to allow the U.S. to base combat planes in its air bases, combat ships in its territorial waters and share at least smidgeons of intelligence data with U.S. agencies. Policy wonks in the State department are going to slot them in the ally category. Semi-faithful because they're not really strong enough to go it alone and they know it. The useful corollary to remember is that semi-faithful also implies semi-unfaithful.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 09-20-2019 at 11:31 PM.
  #58  
Old 09-21-2019, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
In what ways is Saudi Arabia a "semi-faithful ally", in your opinion?

In the way that they funded 9/11? In the way that they apparently don't actually fight their own wars? In the way that they murder journalists?
I doubt the Saudi government was supporting the Taliban. They're the kind of regime the Taliban has pledged to overthrow.

Basically, there are two centers of power in Saudi Arabia; the Saudi royal family and the Wahhabi religious movement. They don't really like each other but there's a division of power. The Saudis give money and support to the Wahhabis and in exchange the Wahhabis agree not to challenge the Saudis in their own country and direct their energies outside of the country.

A major test of this partnership occurred in 1979 when a group of Wahhabi extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Their goal was for this to spark a general uprising throughout the country that would overthrow the Saudis and give the country a Wahhabi religious regime. It didn't work out; there was some rioting but not general uprising. And when the Saudi government ordered its police and troops to break up the siege by force, they showed they were willing to follow Saudi orders and shoot Wahhabi rebels.

Both sides learned a lesson. The Wahhabis learned that the people with guns would side with the Saudis in a civil war. But the Saudis learned that the Wahhabis would prefer to get rid of the Saudis if they could make it happen.

Moving forward to 2011, people like bin Laden and other Arabs who formed the Taliban are from the Wahhabi side of Arab society. The Saudi side would have been happy if every Taliban member dropped dead overnight. But as long as the Taliban is around, they would prefer to keep it aimed away from themselves and towards regimes in other countries.
  #59  
Old 09-21-2019, 12:33 AM
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Any discussion of the relative goodness of the Saudis vs the Iranians should take into account what Saudi Arabia is currently doing in Yemen. The Saudis are trying to starve Yemen into compliance and have put hundreds of thousands of lives in peril.

Given this
A- I find it difficult to argue that they act more morally than Iran
B- I find it impossible to argue that the US is restraining Saudi Arabia from committing more atrocities than they do. If mass murder isn't too far, nothing is.

The defense for the US support of Saudi Arabia's war (and mass murder campaign) in Yemen is typically that we prevent civilian casualties. I don't think this is meaningfully true - it is more accurate to say we prevent direct civilian casualties. We can't actually prevent civilian casualties while supporting a deliberate attempt to kill civilians.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/w...-children.html
  #60  
Old 09-21-2019, 12:40 AM
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Americans are the last people on earth who should talk about “morals”, in the ME.
  #61  
Old 09-21-2019, 01:06 AM
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Saudi Arabia's "coalition" (not sure what that means) have apparently struck military targets in Yemen.
  #62  
Old 09-21-2019, 01:59 AM
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It means a bunch of countries the Saudis have financed to fight their war on their behalf.

Last edited by AK84; 09-21-2019 at 02:01 AM.
  #63  
Old 09-21-2019, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by str8cashhomie View Post
Any discussion of the relative goodness of the Saudis vs the Iranians should take into account what Saudi Arabia is currently doing in Yemen. The Saudis are trying to starve Yemen into compliance and have put hundreds of thousands of lives in peril.

Given this
A- I find it difficult to argue that they act more morally than Iran
B- I find it impossible to argue that the US is restraining Saudi Arabia from committing more atrocities than they do. If mass murder isn't too far, nothing is.

The defense for the US support of Saudi Arabia's war (and mass murder campaign) in Yemen is typically that we prevent civilian casualties. I don't think this is meaningfully true - it is more accurate to say we prevent direct civilian casualties. We can't actually prevent civilian casualties while supporting a deliberate attempt to kill civilians.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/w...-children.html
Both sides have proxies in Yemen. Iran is backing the Houthi regime. Saudi Arabia is backing the Hadi regime and various other anti-Houthi groups.
  #64  
Old 09-21-2019, 02:22 AM
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Americans are the last people on earth who should talk about “morals”, in the ME.
Nonsense. There are plenty of groups and governments in the Middle East that are far worse than the United States government.

That's not saying we're perfect. We've done some terrible things. And we should be trying to do better.

But we're hardly the worst thing that's ever happened to the Middle East.
  #65  
Old 09-21-2019, 02:36 AM
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Nonsense. There are plenty of groups and governments in the Middle East that are far worse than the United States government.
I am sincerely trying to think of one. ISIS maybe? I mean thats extremely faint praise.

Quote:
That's not saying we're perfect. We've done some terrible things. And we should be trying to do better.
Done **only** terrible things would be accurate. And admittedly some very stupid things. But I guess thats susbsumed under "terrible"

Quote:
But we're hardly the worst thing that's ever happened to the Middle East.
Last 20 years (ie the era which matters) you absolutley have.

Its like blowing up a dam and saying yeah we have done bad stuff, but why doesn't anyone blame the water, thats whats doing the damege, we only used a small charge once
  #66  
Old 09-21-2019, 08:00 AM
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“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” he said. And he warned that he was committed to withdrawing troops from foreign wars even when his administration’s experts object.

“The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world,” Mr Trump said.

“It’s not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States.”
He said that on 26 December 2018. Like everything else he says, it was a lie.

Troops and missile defense equipment heading to SA and UAE. I guess we're nothing more than their bitch now, just another dog to bark at (and maybe bite) anyone approaching the House of Saud.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 09-21-2019 at 08:04 AM.
  #67  
Old 09-21-2019, 08:37 AM
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Both sides have proxies in Yemen. Iran is backing the Houthi regime. Saudi Arabia is backing the Hadi regime and various other anti-Houthi groups.
I agree but only one is deliberately mass murdering people by starvation.
  #68  
Old 09-21-2019, 02:56 PM
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Both sides have proxies in Yemen. Iran is backing the Houthi regime. Saudi Arabia is backing the Hadi regime and various other anti-Houthi groups.
No. Saudi Arabia is directly involved besides its support for proxies. The Houthis are not Iranian proxies, though they have received some support.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/27...not-hezbollah/

“Until now, and apart from Tehran’s strong pro-Houthi rhetoric, very little hard evidence has turned up of Iranian support to the Houthis. There has been evidence of some small arms shipments and, likely, military advice from Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard officers, who may have helped the Houthis in firing missiles into Saudi territory and targeting Saudi vessels in the Red Sea. Meanwhile, U.S. and British military and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition exceeds by many factors any amount of support the Houthis have received from Tehran.”

“While the Houthis are tied to Iran, Iran does not control their decision-making; according to multiple interviews with U.S. officials and the Houthis themselves, Houthi leaders flatly ignored Tehran when the latter advised them not to take Sanaa. Until now, Iran appears to have done just enough to antagonize and frighten the Saudis — thus ensuring that they are bogged down in Yemen’s quicksand, spending billions of dollars on a war they are nowhere close to winning.”

https://www.researchgate.net/publica...est_investment

“Tehran's influence in Yemen is marginal. Iran's support for the Houthis has increased in recent years, but it remains low and is far from enough to significantly impact the balance of internal forces in Yemen. Looking ahead, it is unlikely that Iran will emerge as an important player in Yemeni affairs. Iran's interests in Yemen are limited, while the constraints on its ability to project power in the country are unlikely to be lifted. Tehran saw with the rise of the Houthis a low cost opportunity to gain some leverage in Yemen. It is unwilling, however, to invest larger amounts of resources. There is, as a result, only limited potential for Iran to further penetrate Yemen.”

Last edited by WillFarnaby; 09-21-2019 at 02:57 PM.
  #69  
Old 09-21-2019, 10:09 PM
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To take this another way, back here in the USA. Would you say you have known more Iranians or Saudis?

I'd say more Iranians.
  #70  
Old 09-21-2019, 11:12 PM
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To take this another way, back here in the USA. Would you say you have known more Iranians or Saudis?

I'd say more Iranians.
Once again, . I'm not sure the relevance of this. There are indeed more Iranians in the US than Saudis. A whole lot more, by a factor of considerably more than 100:1. But that's because there was a substantial diaspora after the 1979 Revolution. There has been no diaspora from SA because it has been relatively stable and is relatively prosperous.

And? There are also a lot more Iranians in the US than Belgians.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 09-21-2019 at 11:15 PM.
  #71  
Old 09-22-2019, 07:01 AM
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The US should generally stay out of conflicts for the next 20 years anywhere in the world. That includes stopping sponsoring color revolutions and trying to inch NATO towards the Russian border. 20 years of intense focus on the economy will enable the US maintain the lead over China for the foreseeable future. The Chinese can get involved in the ME shit if they want; I think they will soon realize they are trying to straighten a dog's tail.
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  #72  
Old 09-22-2019, 07:14 AM
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Nations don't prosper by looking inward and shutting off the rest of the world. You know who learned that the hard way? China. They tried it for 500 years and nearly got eaten alive as a result.

Now, I'm not saying the U.S. shouldn't apply its power in a prudent and thoughtful manner, including in the case at hand. Of course it should. But withdrawing completely isn't the answer.
  #73  
Old 09-22-2019, 07:38 AM
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Getting into expensive, optional and unnecessary foreign conflicts is the fastest way for great nations to collapse. See Rome. Ottomans. Spain, various iterations of China.
  #74  
Old 09-22-2019, 08:08 AM
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Which is why power should be applied wisely.
  #75  
Old 09-22-2019, 12:33 PM
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This should be dragged before the UN to certify Iran's role.

Once this is done I see no reason why Saudi Arabia can't fight it's own battles. We can provide intelligence support and sell them weapons.

As for the region, we should collectively prevent any more boarding of ships by Iran. Put drones and AWACs in the area and remove any targets that come within 1000 yards of a ship.
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