In the flurry of activity that surrounded the build-up to World War I, it’s easy to overlook the importance of the steps Britain had taken to safeguard its energy needs. It’s not surprising that within weeks of the start of the total war, a British division was dispatched from Bombay to secure Abadan, the pipelines and the oilfields. Aware that their hold over the Gulf region was tenuous, the British made overtures to leading figures in the Arab world, including Husayn, Sharif of Mecca, who was offered a tempting deal: if Husayn and Arabs in general were to provide support against the Turks, then Britain will guarantee the independence, rights and privileges of the Sharifate against all external foreign aggression, in particular that of the Ottomans. Decades passed. The United States superseded the Britain as new super power since World War II. But the British security guarantees remained intact throughout the second half of the twentieth century but this time on behest of Americans. And even now, the USA is the so-called security guarantor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
On October 2, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi was disappeared in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. On October 3, Trump said: “We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they are rich? And I love the King…King Salman but I said “King we are protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military.” On Oct.16, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia to speak to the monarch of the world’s top oil exporter over Khashoggi’s disappearance. Later on, Saudis officially recognized that Khashoggi was murdered by its officials due to quarrel and they would definitely be brought to book. Erdogan’s increasingly aggressive behavior against the House of Saud on the barbaric killing put the entire monarchy on the hook. In sum, the entire world pooh-poohs the despotic Saudi regime over such savagery.
The multitude of articles recently publishing in Western press whispers how the new Arab uprising is unraveling to pave the way for outright collapse of authoritarianism in the Middle East. For the record, the old Arab Spring since 2011, which was supposed to usher in a new era of democracy in the Middle East, ended in chaos, tumult and deadly civil wars. Now again the shady shadows of discord are hanging over the UAE and the KSA which are growing more deepened in the backdrop of Khashoggi’s episode. As the world increasingly shapes multipolar and despite Saudi proclivity to America is not-so-subtle-dig, China and Russia have their natural penchant for the KSA’s black gold apropos of oil largesse. Therefore, it’s not long before that Russia intimated the kingdom about the American-engineered wave of strife which has every potential to dethrone monarchies with the enchanting gimmicks of democracy. So as a natural consequence, the Kingdom, for now, weighs every US move with the grain of salt.
The key question is if Khashoggi’s manslaughter is the worst blooper committed by callow Muhammad Bin Salman, why does the United States portray to be worried-sick while the issue virtually lies between the KSA and Turkey. Erdogan’s anxiety to untwine Khashoggi’s murder puzzle in rear of plummeting lira is understandable for he wants some breathing space for economy to use typical human right card in Western perspective. As a pure authoritarian with shabby human right dynamics at home, Erdogan is mindful how to guard the national interest in the wake of Khashoggi’s massacre. But the question is why the US is abruptly at odds with the Saudi regime especially when Saudi Arabia is American No.1 weapon buyer. Why Trump is hurling veiled threats in the blanket of security to blackmail the kingdom? Isn’t it in line with Erdogan’s apprehension in the background of the US-instigated July 15, 2016 abortive coup in Turkey? Erdogan then vehemently pressed that ISIS, as an infelicitous upshot of Arab Spring, was impregnating with the only vicious object to mutate the whole Middle East into graveyard so that Israel might be roamed free.
Therefore, the omens are very clear. The US can no longer remain the panacea for all Saudi security needs. Houthis in the neighboring Yemen are gaining momentum. Reportedly they are armed with Israeli drones and the US rockets. Not only Saudis but also the UAE is on the whims of Houthis. The alleged drone attack by Houthis at Dubai airport few weeks back, though Dubai authorities denied such an incident, was just the tip of iceberg. In depth, the seeds of conflict are continuously sowing with finesse. Maybe, to some extent, sense is prevailing in rigid minds of Saudis that it’s only nuclear Pakistan that can guard their delicate borders. For Pakistan, it’s debilitating economy that might be augmented with petrodollar. For the kingdom, all but security—Khashoggi’s trap as a new security dilemma—as an immediate cup of coffee. Nay, a perfect quid pro quo for both. Isn’t it? At bottom, if the 19th century was of the Britain to craft such a policy in Middle East which was in sync with their energy needs. 20th was American century marked with myriad interventions majority of which revolved around oil wells. Then why not 21st is to be deemed as Asian one particularly when to preserve holy land is part and parcel of the faith? After all, there is no harm with dreaming.