A former CIA agent says Saudi Arabia actions in Bahrain is to maintain the status quo, which serves the interests of international powers who are hostile towards Iran.
Press TV has conducted an interview with former CIA Agent, Glenn Carle, to further discuss the issue in the Middle East. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
The video also offers the opinions of two other guests: the founder and director of Institute for Gulf Affairs
(IGA), Ali al Ahmad and political analyst, Kamel Wazni. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
First of all, when we are speaking of Saudi Arabia playing or trying to play at least a leading role when it comes to regional developments, do you think that despite the fact that it's trying to do that it is facing a political crisis at home both because of the popular protests that it's been seeing for over a year now and also because of this debate over who is going to succeed the king?
Well, many of your viewers will be familiar with the American author Mark Twain who read a report one day in a newspaper about his death and then sent a telegram saying that reports about his death have been terribly exaggerated because he was reading about them himself.
That's taught me a lesson in humility and modesty and I wouldn't dare to predict intelligent services and foreign ministries and academics; all have an equally poor record in foreseeing the future.
I'm not a Saudi expert, but I don't know if there is a vacuum of power. People have been predicting for most of my career the implosion or explosion of the Saudi government, but it hasn't happened so I would anticipate that there might be changes but not fundamental change.
On the other point, Saudi Arabia tries to protect its power and advance its interests as it defines them. This is not unusual, all states do and they do so more successfully as a function of their competence and their power. So there is a great game in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia is a key player in it as is Iran really, so I don't find that remarkable or especially worthy of condemnation - it's the way international relations occur.
Speaking about the role that Saudi Arabia has been playing in the region, our guest there in Washington is saying that the international community has refused to call the situation in Bahrain as an invasion.
Why are we not seeing this international response to what Saudi Arabia is doing both supporting the regime cracking down on the revolution in Bahrain, at the same time we know creating a safe haven for Tunisia's Bin Ali refusing to extradite him.
and even some analysts are saying that in fact Saudi Arabia's what they call counter revolution strategy, is being supported by some ideologists in Washington who worry that Arab democratization would be detrimental to US policy.
Well, Saudi Arabia is a status quo power - most great powers are, and the thing that no one's mentioned really is the great game that's going on really between Iran and Saudi Arabia or between Shia and Sunni for shifting levels of influence in the Middle East. That's more fundamental than the role of the United States or the national interests here in Saudi Arabia.
So the actions by Saudi Arabia on Bahrain are to maintain the status quo and since that serves the interests of international powers who are generally hostile to Iranian efforts, the response has been inconsistent or different from the responses to other critical developments elsewhere in the Arab world.
So that is true, but it is a function of the very game and the dynamic between Shia, Sunni in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
I'd just like to bring the point to you of the issue of Wahabism so to speak or Salafism, I'd like to discuss that with you. It took, I'm hearing, Prince Nayef in Saudi Arabia months to acknowledge in 2001 that 15 of the 19 perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks come actually from Saudi Arabia.
So do you see any connection between the ideologies of Saudi Arabia's Salafism and Wahabism movements to for instance the 9/11 attacks and now to other instances of violence that we are seeing in the region?
Well, of course there is a relation to those things, but before I discuss that, let's go back just for a moment, I'd like to finish on a point that you asked about before.
We have to realize two things: one… it was stated here that the US apparently is influencing the Western media so that it's not covering in an objective way the events occurring in Bahrain and elsewhere and that simply is a silly thing to say. No one power controls all the media from all the countries in the West. Now, they may get things wrong and they may have a collective perspective that could air and be wrong itself, but that's not the same thing as government control.
The second thing is the statement made that essentially the US might designate and decide when to do so regarding the successor and how it will play out and that also wildly exaggerates America's power. America has tried to do these things in the past and almost invariable has failed to achieve the ends that it seeks to impose.
So, that overstates the influence of the US dramatically. It is certainly true that the US and Saudi Arabia are very close and the US has great interest in the stability of Saudi Arabia and has concern about it.
I'd just like to put this question to you before we move and that is - OK if we do agree that the US does not have that much power for instance to control the world media, but the fact that it is keeping silent on these issues that we've discussed isn't this complicity in what's happening?
I wouldn't say it's been complicit in silence at all; there's been widespread coverage about how Saudi Arabia intervened in Bahrain and the reasons why, so that hasn't been suppressed, not to my knowledge anyway and I just read the general media -so in the West that has come out.
But once again this is the great game between Iran and Saudi Arabia and between the Shia and the Sunni for influence in the Middle East and obviously that's why Saudi Arabia has acted. It may or may not be just, but it's power politics at play.