Saudi Arabia's Tantrum

Submitted by admin on Thu, 11/16/2017 - 22:35
The Fist, Jeddah


Dear Friends,

The picture above is from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The city is full of remarkable sculptures. This one is by the French sculptor César Baldaccini and it is called The Fist. Where it sits in Jeddah is known as the Fist Roundabout.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia - Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) - has put his fist down on his country, arresting his fellow princes and other businessmen, throwing a tantrum to collect revenues not only for a faltering Saudi economy but for his grand plans to build a new city on the northern edge of Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia faces defeat in Syria - where it has been unable to overthrow the Assad government and so weaken the hand of the Iranians. It continues - with North American and British help - to prosecute the barbarous war in Yemen (the UN now says that about 50,000 Yemeni children could die of extreme hunger and disease by the end of this calendar year). Pressure on Qatar from Riyadh continues and MBS has begun to try and destabilize Lebanon. A region that does not need more chaos is now on the threshold of a far more dangerous spiral.

My column this week at Alternet is on the economy of Saudi Arabia and on the maneuvers of MBS. You can read it here.


The Hiroshima Panels -  II. Fire (1950) painted by Iri Maruki and Toshi Maruki


Many years ago I was lucky to see The Hiroshima Panels - painted by Iri Maruki and Toshi Maruki - in Saitama (Japan). The panel above is II. Fire (1950). The entire series is a remarkable documentary of the US bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasake. The first panel - I. Ghosts - was done in 1950. The last panel - XV Nagasaki - was done in 1982 (it can be seen at the Nagasaki International Cultural Hall - I have not seen it yet).

When Code Pink invited me to speak at the start of their campaign to Divest from the War Machine, I returned - as I often do - to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These are war crimes for which there has never been accountability. The impunity over these crimes has emboldened the people in power to conduct more such atrocities.

My talk, which runs for about twenty minutes, is here.


Manju and her colleagues


It will surprise you to learn that last week, two hundred thousand workers gathered in front of the Indian parliament - holding aloft the Red Flag - to demonstrate against the anti-worker policies of the government of India. The corporate media almost entirely ignored these workers.

Amongst these workers is Manju and her colleagues (see above). They are anganwadi (childcare) workers from Nagore (Rajasthan). Manju says that her salary (Rs. 4700) is far too low (she has not been paid in four months - to add insult to injury), that her job is precarious and that she has few rights in the workplace. Manju came to the Mahapadav - the protest - to demand that all anganwadi workers be made permanent.

Here is a wonderful video, from Newsclick (one of many), on the protests.

India faces many such protests, a million mutinies. On November 20, farmers - organised by the All-India Kisan Sabha will carry the Red Flag to the Indian parliament. I'll have more on that rally.

Meanwhile, in the small state of Tripura, in north-eastern India, the Communist government has moved an agenda for the people. In The Hindu, VK Ramachandran and Madhura Swaminathan have an excellent story on The Tripura Model. I highly recommend it.


Weya art - Elephant Invasion by Pam Rinomhota


In Zimbabwe's National Art Gallery in Harare, you will find the image above - a Weya picture of elephants destroying a village.

I thought about this when news came of the military entry into the political arena in Zimbabwe, with Robert Mugabe in custody and uncertainty about the future of this country. Facts are hard to come by, so is analysis. I miss Sam Moyo, who would have had an interesting take on these events, but he left us in 2015.

At my website, there is a statement from various Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisations. You can read it here. There is a also a useful report by Mikaela Nhondo Erksog at Newsclick, which you can read here. It is also a good time to go back and read Mahmood Mamdani's 2008 essay on Mugabe from the London Review of Books, which you can find here.

Hope the way ahead for the people of Zimbabwe is towards full liberation and not neo-colonialism.

Warmly, Vijay.