The Mecca Massacre 1987 -- The Power/Influence of Saudi Arabia in the USA
Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools
A bloody event in Mecca on July 31, 1987, demonstrated the power or influence of Saudi Arabia in the United States, and over the communications media in particular. During the yearly Muslim haj pilgrimage to Mecca --occurring in July that year according to the Gregorian calendar-- Saudi police beat to death [or shot] a mass of Iranian pilgrims, estimated in numbers from 400 to 1500. Either the minimal or maximal number would be a shocking number of victims of police brutality. Now, police brutality had become a theme for outrage for many Americans, especially those considering themselves "liberals", "progressives", "leftists" and "radicals". If this shocking incident would end up by applying the label of "police brutality" to Saudi Arabia, that could cause difficulties for the Saudi-American relationship, a relationship which was profitable in money terms not only for the Saudi royal family but for their numerous American associates, followers, hangers on, hirelings, and so on. It should be added that the US-Saudi relationship provided military security/protection for the Wahhabite monarchy which would in any case be threatened by enemies within the Arab and Islamic worlds for all sorts of reasons.
What happened that day in Mecca? Other than the issue of just how many were killed, which I cannot pretend to answer with authority, there is the issue of who began the incident and how, the issue of how to describe the incident [massacre of civilians unprovoked by them, a riot by these Iranian pilgrims, a mere political demonstration by the Iranians in favor of Khomeini which the Saudi royals could not tolerate for various reasons, including the Sunni-Shi`ite split, etc], and the issues of who were killed [only Iranians or Saudi police too] and how [by shooting or beating]. From what I know, the Iranians were sent on pilgrimage by their government --by Khomeini's regime-- with the purpose of embarassing the Sunni Saudis by staging a pro-Khomeini demonstration during the pilgrimage. When they staged their demo, with prepared signs featuring political-religious slogans, the Saudi police reacted by beating them, perhaps on the orders of their commanders. And they beat them to death. At least 400 Iranian demonstrators, according to the low figure of which I am aware, were killed.
At that time, the Iran of the ayatollahs was winning its war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a war that began with an Iraqi attack on Iran in 1981, that is, Iraqi aggresssion. Since Israel was not involved, the UN security council was not much concerned, nor was the international press nor were the so-called pro-peace, pro-human rights, pro-civil rights NGOs excessively perturbed by the massive loss of life in the war. Now in the summer of 1987 the war had gone on for six years. Since Iran had come from behind to gain the upper hand, there was the danger that the Mecca massacre might provoke a retaliatory Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia. Many wars in history had begun with much less provocation. Of course, we bear in mind that the USA had supported both Saudi Arabia and Khomeini's regime [quite openly at its very beginning]. One difference between the two Muslim states was that many prominent Americans had a major financial interest in the continued generosity towards them of the House of Saud--we need only mention the House of Bush [two recent American presidents] and the "bright, analytic mind" and foul mouth of one Charles Freeman, a paid Saudi lobbyist who blamed criticism of his appointment to a high intelligence post on another lobby, the Israel lobby, whereas his critics were in the main not paid lobbyists for anyone.
The Freeman case reopens the question of whether Israel and its American supporters, or Saudi Arabia and its American supporters, hired hands or not, are more influential. The Mecca massacre can be instructive in settling the issue. The reaction in the American media shows that Saudi power/influence was much stronger than Israeli at that time and, it is reasonable to conclude, since then up till now. Curiously, although Freeman was a lobbyist for both Saudi Arabia and China, the Tien An Men Square massacre of 1989 in Peking was generally deemed bad and evil, in the USA, whereas the Mecca Massacre was JUSTIFIED by many high US officials and prominent journalists writing in the NYTimes and the Washington Post, Time and Newsweek, and so on. Newspaper readers were told that the Saudis just HAD TO DO IT!! Tien An Men was bad; Mecca was good.
Chaz Freeman stands on the common ground of two states that both massacre civilians when necessary. These are two states that he represents for cash compensation. Yet, Saudi massacres and other illiberal Saudi deeds or misdeeds are forgiven --even justified-- whereas American politicians and mass media often scold China for abusing human rights, although China does this much less than Saudi Arabia does. Freeman, to be sure, defended the Tien An Men massacre, complaining only that suppressive action should have been taken earlier. If nothing else, Freeman was consistent in supporting both governments over their massacres.
Clearly, Saudi Arabia, then, and since, has enjoyed a much more favorable approach than either Israel or China from the US mass media, often called the MSM, despite its vast social inequalities, medieval punishments of offenders, massacres of civilians, training and subsidizing of Islamic religious fanatics at home and abroad, prohibitions on non-Muslim religious worship, a ban on Jews entering the kingdom [sometimes waived for stars like Kissinger], the abuse of foreign workers, the fact that 15 out of 19 9/11 terrorist hijackers were Saudis, etc.
Let us note that whereas Israel is constantly scrutinized for the purpose of detecting offenses to liberal principles, civil rights, human rights and so on, and often found wanting, on the grounds of fact or imagination or invention, Saudi Arabia's offenses are overlooked, minimized, etc. Saudi inequalities include the much inferior status of women, the humiliating treatment of foreigners, especially non-Muslims, even Westerners, the abuse of Saudis who happen to be Shi`ites, the legal/judicial system where non-Muslims get Muslim justice, shari`ah justice, not the justice held to be part of 20th or 21st century civilization, etc. Heads, hands and feet are still chopped off in Saudi Arabia according to the offense under shari`ah. Yet Saudi Arabia is spared the opprobrium that other states would receive for the same kinds of actions and social practices. Israel is often charged with offenses against the palestinian Arabs, while the terrorist bodies that dominate palestinian Arab society are often funded in large part by -- Saudi Arabia. But Saudi offenses are overlooked and quite often, so are those of the Saudis' palestinian Arab proteges. Hence, we deduce that for the American mass media, the MSM, human rights and civil rights are out or perhaps simply a stick to beat Israel with.. The so-called "Left" follows the same line as the MSM, likewise the "civil rights" and "human rights" so-called "Non-governmental organizations" funded by governments. Saudi Arabia is over all, uber alles, beyond reproach no matter what. The Mecca Massacre of 1987 is hardly remembered today, unlike Tien An Men.
To close, isn't it insufferably arrogant of Chaz Freeman, a PAID lobbyist for the Saudi royals, to point the finger of blame at the so-called Israel Lobby, when most of those many who opposed him were not paid or professional lobbyists, albeit many were probably supporters of Israel, although not all?? Saudi influence is stronger in Washington but it must work in the shadows. It withers in the light of publicity.
Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools
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Researching the July 31, 1987, Mecca Massacre:
First of all, I recommend going back to the American and British press of the time. Check especially the accounts of the events in Mecca plus the editorial and op ed commentary in the New York Times, Washington Post, TimeMagazine, Newsweek, The International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, and Christian Science Monitor.
Martin Kramer [here]
Lastly, see the book by Gilles Kepel & Anthony F Roberts, Jihad: The Trial of Political Islam 
On how American, British and French oil policy helps enrich Saudi Arabia and other oil states.
[here & here with references].
On the Bush family's ties to the al-Sa`ud family, see
Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud (expanded edition; London: Gibson Square 2007).
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If there were ever any company closely connected to the US and its presence in Saudi Arabia, it's the Saudi Bin Ladin Group.
Charles Freeman, quoted in Craig Unger [book ref above], p 6; and Wall Street Journal, 9-27-2001.
Tony Blair claimed that a huge weapons sale by a British firm to Saudi Arabia was a "strategic interest" of the United Kingdom.
UPDATE 3-26-2009 Saudi Arabia's hired mouthpiece, Chaz Freeman, hits Israel again [here].
UPDATE 1-19-2010 Kuwait newspaper reports on recent Iran-Saudi hostility arising from Sunni-Shi`ite differences and also brings up the 1987 massacre:
"A week ago, Iran's conservative-dominated parliament slammed a Saudi Friday prayer leader, saying he insulted neighbouring Iraq's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini Al-Sistani. MPs urged the Saudi government to take legal action against prayer leader Mohammed Al-Areefi for allegedly calling Sistani an "atheist and debauched". The Muslim holy places and the annual pilgrimage there which is one of the pillars of Islam have been repeated bones of contention between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the past.
"In 1987, Saudi police attempts to stifle a protest by Iranian pilgrims chanting "death to America," and "death to Israel," in the streets of Makkah led to a riot in which 402 people died, 275 of them Iranians. When Saudi Arabia sided with Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its 1980-88 war with Iran, Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused the kingdom of being a lackey of the United States that was incapable of looking after the holy places. Riyadh cut relations between 1988 and 1991. - AFP" [see Kuwait Times, 18 January 2010, here]
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Coming: Obama's anti-peace peacemongering, dancing with the ayatollahs, adopting the Commie policy of a "Two State Final Solution," Jerusalem archeology, propaganda analysis, etc.