How the US tricked KSA in establishing military bases inside the kingdom

How the US established military bases in Saudi Arabia by fooling King Fahad

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and China met in Riyadh on 21 July 1990 and established diplomatic relations for the first time through the efforts of Pakistan.

The emerging Saudi-Pakistan-China alliance gave serious anxiety to the US since they could never afford the next superpower to make inroads into the oil rich region. Saudis had already bought a small number of missiles from China in mid-1980s.

When the missiles had reached KSA, the then US President Ronald Reagen threatened the Saudis and gave three options: “ Ship the missiles back to China, dismantle them temporarily and negotiate terms for the use, or allow US monitors to be stationed at the launching site”.

To the surprise of the US, King Fahad refused all three demands.

In less than two weeks after the establishment of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and China, Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Saddam’s rationale of invading Kuwait was that it was originally part of Iraq during the Ottoman Empire. Kuwait was carved out of Iraq after the British defeated the Ottomans.

Saddam was correct in his assertions as this wasn’t the first time imperialist forces carved out new territories in their geopolitical interests. For instance, Hong Kong and Taiwan were parts of China before they became independent protectorates of Britain and the US respectively.

But Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was inadvertently providing the United States an opportunity to finally fulfill the dreams of Churchill, Roosevelt and Harold Ickes who always aspired to control the Middle East oil.

Just days after the invasion, Dick Cheney (defense secretary) and Paul Wolfowitz (under secretary of defense for policy) made plans to evict Iraqi forces. As per the plan, the US forces would assemble in Saudi Arabia for the protection of KSA followed by a plan to liberate Kuwait.

Once Dick Cheney and his team arrived in Jeddah, they shared satellite photographs with King Fahad as per which the Iraqi tanks deployed on the Saudi border were ready to invade Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis despite being the largest producer of oil did not have the military power to fight the Iraqi military. King Fahad allowed the Americans to establish bases in Saudi Arabia who did not leave for the next 13 years.

To everyone’s surprise, The Chinese Science Monitor revealed in 2002 that the satellite photographs that showed Iraqi tanks on the border of Saudi Arabia were either doctored or taken from places other than the Iraqi-Saudi border by the US.

According to Jean Heller of the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, her news organization acquired two commercial Soviet satellite images of the same area that showed the deployment of Iraqi forces. Pentagon had claimed that up-to 250,00 Iraqi troops were ready to invade Saudi Arabia.

The images the St. Petersburg Times had acquired were shown to a former analyst of Defense Intelligence Agency who specialized in desert warfare. He pointed out the US build up – jet fighters standing wing-tip to wing-tip at Saudi bases – but was surprised to see almost no signs of Iraqi forces. According to Heller:

“That [Iraqi build-up] was the whole justification for Bush sending troops in there, and it just didn’t exist….To this day, the Pentagon photographs of the Iraqi troop build-up remain classified”.

It can be concluded that the only goal of US administration in 1990-91 was to put permanent military boots on Saudi soil so they could control the energy resources of the Middle East and could counter the emerging Saudi-Pak-China alliance.

On 11 March 1992, The Washington Post covered a leak story about the new US military policy that called for military action against any nation that would attempt to challenge the leadership of the US particularly in the Middle East.

The draft called for the US to maintain a military dominance that would be capable of “deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role”.

Research by Fidato

Reference: The End of The Great Game by Hasan Sadiq


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