Richard H. Black

The U.S. allied itself with vicious dictators to overthrow Syria’s govt: Senator

Senator Richard H. Black is a republican member of the Virgina state Senate​ whom made headlines in 2016 for his trip to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad. He is a former Marines' pilot that at one time held a Top Secret security clearance. He received his education at the University of Florida (B.S.B.A., accounting; J.D.); postgraduate legal studies, TJAGSA, University of Virginia Campus, Army War College. Prior to accepting a commission as a Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) he was a practitioner of law in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Formerly, Black was a Member of the Virginia House of Delegates: 1998-2006; he was elected to the Virginia state Senate in 2012, where he continues his service today. In an exclusive interview with, conducted by Catherine Shakdam*, Mr. Black answers questions on the issue of Syria, JCPOA and more:


Senator, Washington recently announced this December that it would extend all sanctions against Iran for another decade. How do you understand this development?      

First I would like to express my condolences on the passing of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; as he is being remembered for bringing great hope to the people of Iran. I know his loss is heartfelt by all Iranians.

President Obama expended enormous political capital to execute the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).   Once approved, that became the basis for a UN Security Council Resolution that lifted the UN’s nuclear-based sanctions against Iran. That has freed all members of the UN to resume trading with Iran.


As a consequence, several major corporations entered into massive contracts with Iranian companies. Multibillion-dollar contracts were signed with Boeing and Airbus for passenger airliners; with the French oil company, TOTAL, for major oil field development; and with Schlumberger, for heavy oilfield equipment.  None of these contracts will be directly affected by the recent U.S. congressional action.  Consequently, unless the incoming Trump administration takes some unexpected action, Iran should benefit considerably from the JCOPA.


This December, the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for an additional 10-year period.   The Obama Administration  said it  didn’t believe the extension violates the JCPOA, although President Obama clearly did not want Congress to extend the ISA.   However, he could not block the action because the vote in Congress was so overwhelming against him.


Although the President has great flexibility in implementing the U.S. sanctions, the ISA extension will make it more difficult for U.S. companies to trade with Iran. Also, because of America’s control of the global banking system, the U.S. could potentially discourage other countries from trading with Iran even though the JCPOA has lifted legal restrictions on them.  


 Senator, you have come out as the foremost defender of Syria’s right to political determination, pointing to the nefarious nature of the Syrian war narrative – such as it is peddled by mainstream media. What prompted you to speak up against the Syrian war? And do you believe that perpetual war has become an end in itself?


When foreign nations took covert actions that started the war in Syria, Syria was one of the five safest counties on earth; it was financially strong and had no debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank;  its literacy rate was high and rising rapidly; it had impressive women’s rights and an exceptional degree of religious freedom.  In 2009, 51 per cent of Syrian university graduates were women. Many people saw President and Mrs. Assad as youthful, idealistic reformers, who dreamt of modernizing Syria and eliminating corruption.   Syria was a model for Arabic advancement into the modern world.  President Assad said that his greatest challenge was defending sectarianism against extremism, and that proved to be the case.


 The war against Syria was a war of aggression , instigated by foreigners attacking a neutral, nonbelligerent country.  What was especially galling to me, is that the U.S. and Great Britain were training terrorists in Jordan,  Qatar,  Turkey  and Saudi Arabia,  and that we were arming  and funding al Qaeda—the  same force that attacked the Twin Towers and Pentagon on 9-11.  Our covert assistance to al Qaeda, which had murdered 3,000 Americans, was treason of breathtaking dimensions.


If we succeeded in installing a Wahhabi government in Damascus, I knew that Christians, Alawites, Shiites and many Sunnis faced execution or enslavement.  Saudi Arabia and Turkey were determined to dictate Syria’s form of government, and that government would be severe and brutal.  Syrians would have no voice in their government; after six years of foreign intervention, not one “rebel” was ever popular with the Syrian people who voted overwhelmingly to re elect President Assad in 2014.  Syrians remain intensely loyal to their president.


If the (Persian) Gulf States, the U.S., U.K., France, and NATO forced Syrians to submit to a vicious puppet regime,  millions would have been murdered or enslaved in a bloodbath similar to Turkey’s Armenian Genocide, which murdered 1.5 million Christians. 


The United States allied itself with vicious dictators to overthrow Syria’s government. To accomplish the overthrow, the US, Great Britain, and France, together with Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, armed, trained and gave diplomatic support to al Qaeda and a host of related terror groups.   Saudi Arabia and Qatar funded ISIS, and Turkey was the principal ally and trading partner of ISIS for years.  Even then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton secretly discussed Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s pivotal role in global terrorism. 


In summary, the war on Syria was designed to unleash a bloodbath to empower terrorists.  It was waged to advance sinister goals of tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.  It was deeply immoral and U.S. participation in the war against Syria was unjust.  I believed it must be stopped, and I have tried to do that.


What needs to be done in Washington to convince decision-makers that war in Syria threatens not only the immediate region, but beyond that the world itself since it would allow for Wahhabism to become the norm?


Wahhabism presents a profound threat to world peace. Saudi Arabia, with its vast oil wealth, has spread that viral theology across the globe.  Wahhabism accounts for almost all of the world’s terrorist activity, and it is funded and exported by Saudi Arabia.


In the United States, neocons  act as a “deep state” that dominates U.S. foreign policy.  They acquire vast power by tapping Saudi wealth and making fortunes on war profiteering. Neocons are embedded in our institutions and limit the president’s room to maneuver.  Their actions badly hurt the American people, who have not benefited in the slightest from the neocons’ interventionist foreign policy. 


Neocons do not intend to end their wars for regime change at any foreseeable time.  General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, described how, in 2001,  the Secretary of Defense ordered the General Staff to plan to overthrow seven Mideast nation within five years.  These included Libya, Syria and Iran.   Unfortunately, the effort is ongoing.  


I believe the neocons planned a vast neo-colonial oil empire stretching from Iran to Sudan and North Africa.  The election of Donald Trump to become our next president was a devastating blow to neocons.  His victory was unexpected.  There are many neocons in both the Republican and Democrat political parties.  Their first allegiance is not to the United States; it is to globalism and war. Hillary Clinton represented the face of war profiteering, corruption and terrorist-led wars.  Hillary’s unexpected defeat has infuriated neocons, whose future rested with her. They are already planning their resistance to Donald Trump.


Trump intends to reinvigorate the American economy, which cannot be done without bringing the wars to an end.   There will be an intense struggle for control of American foreign policy. Certain members of the Senate  are  fighting Trump’s efforts to cooperate with Russia and to shift away from our slavish devotion to Saudi Arabia.   But Trump will be difficult for neocons to control. Unlike President Obama, Trump will not delegate foreign policy to others.  He will play a direct major role in decision making.


How do you understand the liberation of Aleppo and calls by Damascus for powers to unite against the threat of radicalism? Do you believe Aleppo to be an opportunity for change in that we could use this change in dynamics to promote peace and end military interventionism as a default setting?


The Battle for Aleppo was the greatest single victory of the war.  It devastated and demoralized the terrorists.  Simultaneously, rebel forces have significantly collapsed around Damascus.  At the same time, the election of Donald Trump is likely to diminish the flow of support to the terrorists.  I believe the environment for peace is improving rapidly.  However, the peace will largely be won on the battlefield, and terrorists must be driven from Syria by force.


Iranian involvement was critical to the victory at Aleppo. Ultimately, their blood sacrifice in Syria makes a future invasion of Iran much less likely.  This is good thing for the world, which does not need more war and suffering.


 President-elect Donald Trump made rather clear he does not view Russia as a threat but rather a tactical partner. Would you say that Washington has reached a stage of political dissonance where it entertains all the wrong friendships?


American foreign policy is terribly outdated.  It needs dramatic revision if America is to thrive.


Our Mideast policy is grounded on the outdated belief that the U.S. must support vicious Arab despots because we need their oil.  We do not need their oil.  The U.S. has been the world’s top oil producer since 2013 and has been the top producer of natural gas since 2011.  The United States produced more than twice the petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons as Saudi Arabia produced in 2015. We do not need Saudi Arabia anymore. 


NATO is an anachronism.  It was once an excellent alliance, designed to defend against the Soviet Union.  When the Soviet Union dissolved, it should have been dissolved, but it was not.  Consequently, it seeks a raison d'être, always conjuring up an enemy that no longer exists.   This has made it a dangerously reckless alliance.   Its  aggressive military advance toward the Russian border has all the hallmarks of preparation for possible nuclear war with Russia.  Unconfirmed rumors say that some U.S. nuclear weapons were recently moved from Turkey to Romania.     I do not know if the reports are credible, but if true, this would directly threaten Russia and greatly increase the likelihood of a nuclear war.   In either event, provocative actions taken by NATO have certainly increased the threat of all-out war with Russia.   NATO has become a threat to mankind.  It should be abolished.


A basic failure of American foreign policy is its failure to distinguish friend and foe.  For several years, Saudi Arabia waged an unsuccessful hostile price war  against American oil production.  Saudi Arabia was certainly complicit in the 9-11 attacks on the U.S. at some level, and most of the aircraft hijackers were Saudi citizens.   The federal government has been extremely opaque in disclosing Saudi involvement but indications are that there was some high-level involvement.   Saudi Arabia has dragged the U.S. into wars over oil supplies and wars to extinguish [independent] governments  that force people to submit to savage Wahhabism.  They are not our friends. 



Why is Washington allowing for Wahhabism to grab hold of Yemen keeping in mind that it would give Riyadh a grand monopoly over the World Oil Route?


Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen is commonly understood by the community of nations to be a steady stream of unconstrained war crimes.   The Saudi’s are determined to install a puppet regime against the will of the Yemenis.


Because the Saudis bribe and otherwise financially influence western officials, their barbaric misconduct is always reported in a matter-of-fact way.  The press will say, “The Saudis beheaded 47 people this week, including a prominent dissident Shiite cleric.   And now on to other news . . .” The reports are matter-of-fact and seldom reflect an attitude of harsh criticism.


We take this approach because weapons sales to Saudi Arabia are huge, and the profits shield Saudi Arabia from much criticism.   I don’t believe Washington is sensitive to the threat to oil flows from the conflict in Yemen.  Indeed, a clear-eyed assessment demonstrates that the U.S. no longer requires oil from any nation.  America recently began exporting liquefied natural gas and has begun to export oil products too.   U.S. light oil is of excellent quality.  


Nevertheless, the massive 3.8 million barrel-per-day oil disruption that could occur at the narrow (18 mile-wide) Strait of Mandeb, connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, could disrupt the world economy, which is reliant on Mideast oil flows through that strategic waterway.  


I would hope that the U.S. withdraws its support for Saudi Arabia’s criminal war against Yemen.    Peace in Yemen will diminish tensions over naval traffic and reduce the influence of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. 




* Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements. The Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting.