By Jeremy Salt
After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, many are asking ‘But what about Yemen?’ Yes, indeed, what about Yemen, but what about Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Somalia? What about Egypt in 1956, what about Iran in 1953 and what about Palestine from 1917 to the present day?
There is a string of ‘what abouts?’ going all the way back to the French occupation of Algeria in 1830. The ‘western’ presence in North Africa and the Middle East is an unbroken record of criminality, invasion, occupation, massacre, assassination and overthrow stretching back over two hundred years.
The ‘west’ is always killing someone somewhere, or helping someone else to kill them. Nothing has ever stopped it. Not 9/11 and certainly not the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Even now Britain is ramping up its arms sales to Saudi Arabia, consolidating its position as a partner in the slaughter of Yemenis.
This is the template for what we now see around us. In the Middle East, the ‘west’ has been a curse. But what is ‘the west’?
No more than a useful cover, basically for three countries, Britain, France, and the US. Their outriders, Australia, Canada, other European states, in it for the money, or bullied and intimidated into joining the ‘coalition of the willing’ or whatever propaganda phase is cooked up to conceal the massacre of millions, are no more than useful bit players masquerading as independent countries.
From 1798 when French warships arrived off the coast of Egypt until 1956 when Britain and France were humiliated at Suez it these two countries that brought havoc to the Middle East, wave after wave and country after country. If the Palestinians lost Palestine it was because the British gave it to the Zionists. If the Zionists have nuclear weapons it is because France gave them their nuclear reactor.
These two powers have a disgusting record wherever you want to look. Their ‘peace conference’ after the end of the First World War was a ‘more war’ conference. Wars on the people of Palestine and Iraq, along with the wars already running, on the people of Egypt and Algeria, where the French butchered Algerians in the streets of Paris in the 1960s, having butchering them in their occupied home country. They massacred them and asphyxiated them with smoke in the caves where they were hiding. So much for la mission civilisatrice.
By the 1960s, finally, exhausted, militarily and financially, no longer able to hang on to their empires, the two governments had to let go and hand power over to the third pillar of the ‘western’ imperium, the US. Eisenhower stopped the Suez war in 1956 but only because it was an opportunity to let France and Britain know who was boss in the Middle East from now on.
It is scarcely remembered that at the time, the US, having overthrown the Iranian government in 1953, and the Guatemalan government in 1954, was planning to overthrow the Syrian government at the very moment the British, French and the Zionist colony in Palestine attacked Egypt.
France and Britain are no longer able to start wars of their own. They themselves are now bit players. They follow the US wherever it wants to go, into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, running in to grab whatever they can from the chaos.
The consequences for the people of the Middle East are deaths on a massive scale and refugees pouring out of their ruptured countries, drowning in the Aegean or the Mediterranean while the killing continues somewhere else. No ‘western’ country takes any responsibility for any of this. When they jump ashore from their rubber boats or press against border fences, the collective ‘west’ is affronted as if this humanitarian crisis had nothing to do with it, as if these people were the cause of the problem rather than the symptom.
Morality, justice, law, human rights, civilization, democracy are all irrelevant, an insult when coming from the mouths of the politicians responsible for this devastation. The clichés are uttered and the caravan of death moves on. Witness Khashoggi. They want him forgotten as soon as possible so they can get on with business as usual, i.e. selling weapons so the Saudis can bomb more buses and wedding parties in Yemen and starve more children to death.
Has it escaped anyone’s attention that all the countries or territories they or their colonial implant in the Middle East, Israel, invade, bomb or occupy, with the single exception of the attack on Serbia in the 1990s, are almost wholly or predominantly Muslim?
The Syrians and Yemenis this year, Iraqis, Libyans and Afghans, Somalis often, the Palestinians all the time and just about everyone in the Muslim world at some point, going back to 1798.
Did Fouad Zakaria really have to ask, after 9/11, ‘why do they hate us?’ If there is a ‘clash of civilization,’ who does anyone think has created it and whose blood was really shed along ‘Islam’s bloody borders,’ as described by Samuel Huntington?
Have a look at a map of the Middle East and North Africa. At some point, virtually all of it has come under ‘western’ attack. The exceptions happen to be those pandering countries that give the ‘west’ what it wants and keep on giving, the Gulf states for example.
Money trumps morality every time. What is the shocking murder of one man compared to the hundreds of billions to be made from arms sales and other deals with Saudi Arabia? They armed Saddam and then they hanged him. They devastated Libya and then Hillary Clinton guffawed when told of Qadhafi’s murder.
Now the world has Trump but he is no worse than Bush junior or Bush senior. Certainly, he has not killed as many people. Behind the orange hair, the baggy suits and the crude locker room talk he is certainly no worse than the well-dressed, well-spoken Obama, who made ringing speeches while firing missiles into Yemen and Somalia while starting the war on Syria and while giving more money to Israel.
The pseudo-liberals, from the babbling talk show hosts to the editors of their house journals, the Washington Post and the New Yorker, hate Trump because he is not one of them. He offends them by his presence. Neither do they have any affinity with the people he represents, including the soldiers from impoverished regions and decaying cities who fight the wars they support.
They are no more interested in how many Palestinians, Syrians or Yemenis died last week than Trump is. They just want him gone, by whatever means, by whatever misrepresentation, deception or provocation it takes.
They like Hillary. She is a woman, after all, a feminist icon who crashed through the glass ceiling by being as bad as the men and worse than most. This is what is called a victory for women everywhere. She is no more outraged by the murder of the women and children of Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, and Yemen than they are but she is still a woman.
Apparently, the biological fact of gender trumps everything and would have trumped Trump had not the scheming, diabolically cunning Vladimir Putin corrupted the elections from somewhere in the heart of the Kremlin. The man with the orange hair was his Manchurian candidate.
This is the nonsense these frauds prefer to believe. What they blindly refuse to accept is that a woman who looks like them and talks like them was a warmongering, arrogant, lying psychopath who lost because the American people had enough common sense to reject her.
Is Trump worse than Hillary would have been? Who knows? Who cares? Outside the serried rank of the pseudo-liberals baying for Trump’s blood, who gives a rat’s arse? Let the Americans fight their civil war. The more damage they do to each other the less the damage they might be able to do to other countries.
– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.