When it comes to reporting on the Middle East, mass media shouts down anyone who dares to contradict their lies. In The Syrian I used fiction to uncover the machinations surrounding a political assassination and backed up my assumptions with some pretty solid evidence, thus turning the book into a face-paced political thriller. Of course I don’t presume to know all the region’s intrigues but I lived in Beirut for fifteen years and continue to spend a few months a year there so my ear is keenly tuned into what happens on the ground. And my addiction to news which began when my family and I were under the bombs trying to survive the Lebanese civil war hasn’t abated one bit. I am confident, therefore, that I know and understand better than many what goes on across the region, who initiates the skullduggery and why.

The US government has two allies in the Middle East—Israel and Saudi Arabia. Between the just-released Human Rights Watch’s 162 page report urging international businesses to stop operating in, financing, servicing, or trading with Israeli illegal settlements and the vastly successful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign being carried out against them, Israel has its hands full at the moment.

Saudi Arabia, with little condemnation and using its vast oil wealth, is, on the other hand, quietly spreading its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world and secretly undermining secular regimes in the region. It financed and fueled the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, gave financial support to the Saudi citizens who carried out the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, with no repercussions, and is currently bankrolling ISIS and other Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucuses to Hindu Kush to Syria.

So long as the Saudi royal family keeps the oil flowing, the US overlooks these ‘indiscretions.’ According to Pepe Escobar in his article Fear and Loathing in the House of Saud, it works like this: “US ‘protection’ is structured in a Mafia-style ‘offer you can’t refuse’ arrangement. The US guarantees safe passage for the oil export flow through their naval patrols and the Saudis buy from them, non-stop, a festival of weapons and plays host to US naval bases.”

In keeping with the US’s ‘arrangement’ with Saudi Arabia, and against the backdrop of the execution of the Shiite leader Sheik Nimr Bafq’ al-Nimr, followed by the formal breaking of diplomatic relations with Iran in retaliation for the attack on the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran, U.S. neoconservatives, the same fearless defenders of Western values and democratic governance who brought us the weapons of mass destruction lies and predicted our ‘Shock and Awe’ invasion of Iraq would be a cake-walk, are now rallying in defense of an absolute monarchy and undisputed deep-pocketed financier of ISIS and its ilk.

The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer and The National Review, to name but a few, were quick to attack Iran for allowing the kingdom’s embassy to be ransacked while claiming that Sheik Nimr’s execution was justified because he was essentially an Iranian agent and not a leading non-violent civil rights advocate.

Lee Smith in Kristol’s Weekly Standard said it best: “Saudi Arabia is a difficult ally in many ways.  However, it is part of the American order of the Middle East and has been for 70 years. Therefore, an attack on Saudi diplomatic facilities is an attack on our side, our order, us. We see Israel in the same way.”     

So, when it comes to reading and learning about events in the Middle East, choose who you read and learn to decipher the lies.

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