Macron, who flew in from a visit to the United Arab Emirates, had earlier declined to discuss a wave of high-level arrests for corruption in Saudi Arabia, but said it was vital to work with the kingdom for the stability of the region.
Iran has responded furiously to what it called “reckless” Saudi threats after the latter accused Iran of “an act of war” in carrying out a long-range ballistic strike near the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
Saudi rulers were quick to accuse Iran of supplying the Houthi militants with the ballistic weapon and thereby carrying out an act of war on Saudi Arabia. No evidence was presented in support of the Saudi claims.
Nevertheless, the Saudi position was immediately backed up by US President Donald Trump who, while on a tour of Asia, asserted: “Iran just took a shot at Saudi Arabia.”
All of this has to be put in a much bigger regional context in which there has been a dramatic shift in geopolitical power. Russia, Iran, Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have emerged as new dominant political forces in the strategically vital Middle East.
The defeat of the US-led axis, including Saudi Arabia and Israel, in the proxy war in Syria is a momentous setback. The newly established dominance of Russia and Iran is anathema to the US and its regional clients.
MbS, the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne, has emerged as a vitriolic enemy of Iran, promising earlier this year that he would “take the battle to Iranian territory”. Saudi rulers and their Wahhabi fundamentalist version of Islam have always viewed Shia Iran as an apostate nation. But MbS has taken this traditional sectarian hostility to a higher level. And with Trump’s dubious blessing.
Along with Iran, Russia has been vindicated as a power whose foreign policy is one of seeking genuine partnership and stability. A US-led war against Iran will be seen as a last desperate act of a decrepit American empire.
Sixteen years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria have drained $5.6 trillion from the United States economy, according to a new study entitled “Costs of War” released by the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University.
The “Costs of War” report does not include spending on US military operations elsewhere in the world, including the escalating intervention in Chad, Niger and throughout the African continent, US participation in the genocidal Saudi-led war against Yemen, and special operations interventions on virtually every continent.
The cost of the wars dealt with in the report is over and above the annual Pentagon budget of nearly $700 billion—a level of military spending that outstrips the world’s next 10 largest military powers combined.
The trillions of dollars’ worth of destruction wrought by US wars that have decimated entire societies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen are not the subject of the Brown University report. It does, however, provide a sober view of the vast social wealth of the United States itself that has literally gone up in smoke as a result of American militarism—resources that could have been invested in education, health care and raising the living standards of the working class.
The $5.6 trillion figure given by the Brown study as the cost of US wars is almost exactly the equivalent of the US national debt in 2001, on the eve Washington’s launching of its “global war on terror.” In the intervening 16 years, that debt has more than quadrupled, attributable in no small part to the ever-growing cascade of military spending.