How the US Supports Regimes That Support Terrorism

John Glaser, April 28, 2014
Obama meeting with the Kuwaiti Emir, Shaikh Sabah

Obama meeting with the Kuwaiti Emir, Shaikh Sabah

Washington has an advanced relationship with Kuwait, the small Persian Gulf country out of which the U.S. pushed invading Iraqi forces in the 1991 Gulf War. U.S. troops are stationed in Kuwait on a more or less permanent basis, Kuwait receives considerable military assistance and training from the U.S., and in return, Kuwait is “the leading source of funding for al-Qaeda-linked terrorists fighting in Syria’s civil war,” according to the Washington Post

Like most of Washington’s military and economic relationships with the Arab Gulf states, overriding geopolitical goals like maintaining U.S. hegemony and containing Iran outweigh concerns about Kuwait’s support for the kind of Islamic jihadists that have allegedly propelled the bulk of post-9/11 foreign policy. Al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups are the enemies of the U.S., Washington officials remind us constantly, and they are persistently plotting to kill Americans. Oh, and please ignore the fact that our Middle East allies send them money and weapons.

The U.S. relationship with Kuwait consists of “mutual discussions in the event of a crisis; joint military exercises; U.S. evaluation of, advice to, and training of Kuwaiti forces; U.S. arms sales; prepositioning of U.S. military equipment; and U.S. access to a range of Kuwaiti facilities,” according to a recent Congressional Research Service report (CRS). In 2004, “the Bush Administration designated Kuwait as a ‘major non-NATO ally (MNNA),'” a designation that “opens Kuwait to buy the same U.S. equipment that is sold to U.S. allies in NATO.”

“During 2003-2011,” according to CRS, “there were an average of 25,000 U.S. troops based in Kuwaiti facilities, not including those rotating into Iraq at a given time.” In 2012, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta noted, “that there were about 13,500 U.S. troops in Kuwait.”

One would think it would be implicit in the U.S.-Kuwaiti relationship that Kuwait, as the recipient of all kinds of U.S. aid, privileges, and benefits, would refrain from supporting terrorist groups characterized as America’s greatest enemies by the highest Washington officials. And one would be wrong.

The Washington Post:

The amount of money that has flowed from Kuwaiti individuals and through organized charities to Syrian rebel groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra totals in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to experts whose estimates are endorsed by the Treasury Department.

Last month, the [Obama] administration decided to go public with its concerns. In a remarkably undiplomatic statement that officials said had been cleared at senior levels, Treasury Undersecretary David S. Cohen called Kuwait “the epicenter of fundraising for terrorist groups in Syria.”

Kuwait is not unique. Saudi Arabia, the cornerstone of U.S. national security policy in the Middle East, has a long and duplicitous history of harboring Islamic extremists of the al-Qaeda, jihadist type. Most recently, the Saudis have led the charge in aiding terrorist groups fighting in Syria. It is a similar story for Qatar.

In Yemen, al-Qaeda groups have long been tolerated and even cultivated. There are “many Yemenis who have come to suspect that their government is not fighting, but helping cultivate, jihadi activity in their country,” Foreign Policy has reported. Abdulghani al-Iryani, a Yemeni political analyst, has said as much about the former Saleh regime and he told Foreign Policy that the collaboration between the new U.S.-supported Yemeni regime and al-Qaeda militants continues. “At all levels of Yemen’s political elite you have collusion and cooperation with militants and terrorists,” he said.

The Pakistani government has intricate ties to jihadist groups and even provided Osama bin Laden with safe haven for years after 9/11. Over the past six years though, U.S. taxpayers have sent them more than $10 billion dollars.

U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has always been about maintaining dominance over the region, keeping the governments relatively weak and dependent (and undemocratic), and ensuring access to and control over the vast oil and gas resources of the region. The terrorist backlash against this imperialistic and often violent foreign policy is mostly a distraction for U.S. strategists, despite the fact that it became the primary ideological justification for increased U.S. interventionism in the region.

At this point, U.S. policy is perpetuating a dangerous contradiction. Strategists would like to think that this imperialism can be implemented without the blowback of violent extremists and without certain U.S. “allies” directly supporting these terrorists. But it, apparently, cannot be done. Don’t hold your breath for a change in policy to relieve this cognitive dissonance.

12 Responses to “How the US Supports Regimes That Support Terrorism”

  1. The US own funding and arming of terrorist's war crimes remain legitimate.

  2. Aren't they running afoul of terrorism laws? The American people have been taken for a ride on the GWOT. We were exposed to bold language from US politicians regarding the threat of state sponsored terrorism for over a decade and then we find the US in bed with them. The establishment took their new Pearl Harbor and ran with it. It was a stroke of good fortune for them and misery for everyone else.

  3. The USG is the government chosen by the Americans war machinery, these illegitimate kingdoms have the oil, the ideal location for US military and money, they also give political support and economic to any president that supports them, which thus far every one of US president since 1970s when the British colonialism packed and left their military bases in Dubai, Abu Zabi, Sharjah, Qatar and Saudi Arabia was taken over by the Americans. You want to do some thing about it, don't fly emirate airlines or the air Berlin, or Kuwaiti airline or Saudis airline and others like Turkish airline, they all are owned by regimes that supports terrorism and Syrian war.

  4. You may be interested in my blog post King Solomon's Wisdom on Foreign Aid as an added perspective on US foreign aid.

    Regards and good will blogging.

  5. When one looks at the total picture it is not hard to imagine why AlQaida and 100s of like terrorist groups keep expanding , We are aiding them .

  6. La conclusión es que EEUU apoya al terrorismo que "dice combatir" de allí la repulsa mundial contra su doble moral. Regímenes autoritarios no democráticos que son apoyados y estos apoyan a extremistas,al-Qaeda,al Nusra .Quién entiende?

  7. […] John Glaser writes for Antiwar: […]

  8. […] Source: […]

  9. America's foreign policy is based on lies. and any lie has properties to accumulate, and contradict yourself.
    From Siberia with love.

  10. […] “Holocaust” principle: only Nazis can commit crimes; Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were lawful.  Supporting terrorist regimes such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is rational. Here we are seeing again and again that Yuri […]

  11. […] in Syria is equivalent to supporting “al Qaeda’s emirs.” The U.S.-backed Gulf states have proven some of the most effective international supporters of terrorism across several decades and […]

  12. The US own funding and arming of terrorist's war crimes remain legitimate.
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