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Tehran slams Bahrain for hosting ‘provocative’ conference on Gulf maritime security

RT | August 8, 2019

Tehran has hit out at Bahrain for hosting a “provocative” conference on Gulf maritime security and for its rhetoric accusing Iran of attacking tankers. Manama said the July 31 meeting was held to discuss the “current regional situation,” Lebanon’s Daily Star reported.

It was not announced who’d attended the event in Bahrain, but the Guardian reported the UK had called for the meeting with other European countries and Washington. The tiny Gulf monarchy hosts the US Fifth Fleet.

“Bahrain’s government should not become the facilitator of common enemies’ wishes and schemes in the region,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said on Thursday, in a statement published on his Telegram channel.

“The security of regional countries is inseparable and it is not possible for some to be secure at the cost of others’ insecurity.” he said. “It is expected that regional countries prevent foreigners’ escalatory interventions by exercising prudence and foresight.”

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

FCO Fails to Condemn Bahrain Embassy Incident

Press TV – July 30, 2019

Four days after Bahraini embassy staff in London allegedly tried to throw a protester off the embassy roof, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has yet to comment on the incident.

There were angry protests outside the Bahraini embassy in London on July 26, prompted by the imminent execution of two activists.

The event climaxed after a protester, one Moosa Abd-Ali, climbed onto the roof of the embassy and was intercepted there by embassy staff who allegedly tried to throw him off the roof.

The event was live streamed and prominently tweeted by British-Iranian journalist, Nargess Moballeghi.

Wider media coverage, notably by the online Independent, identified the protester as “Moosa Mohamed”, and reported that he had unfurled a banner reading: “I am risking my life to save two men about to be executed in the next few hours. Boris Johnson act now!”

Whilst the police eventually stormed the building to save Abd-Ali’s life, however instead of taking action against embassy staff they ended up arresting Abd-Ali for alleged trespass.

Abd-Ali’s dramatic protest proved fruitless as the two activists, Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali, were executed by the Bahraini authorities the following morning.

Hitherto, the dramatic events at the Bahraini embassy and the alleged attempted murder by embassy staff, has not elicited any reaction from the British government, let alone a condemnation.

This is not the first time that Bahraini embassy staff in London have tried to harm protesters and got away with it. In 2017, Bahraini embassy employees were accused of throwing hot water on demonstrators from a balcony.

The FCO’s failure to admonish Bahrain for this potentially criminal behavior on British soil is entirely in keeping with the British government’s policy of supporting the ruling Al-Khalifa dynasty.

The British government admits to training Bahraini security forces on “command and control” techniques designed to suppress demonstrations.

A 2017 report by the human rights organization “Reprieve” revealed that the FCO had paid for six Bahraini police officers to visit Belfast in August 2015 for “public order” training.

The Guardian reported in August 2016 that the UK’s College of Policing had a contract with Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior to train Bahrain’s police forces.

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

Hamas Condemns Bahrain Minister’s Comments on ‘Israel’

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa
Al-Manar | June 28, 2019

A senior member of the Hamas Political Bureau has condemned comments by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa that ‘Israel’ is a “country to stay” in the region which should be recognized.

Mousa Abu Marzook took to Twitter to say that the minister’s call for such recognition by Arab states proved that the goal of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Manama is to destroy Palestinian rights and normalize ties with the Israeli occupation. The Hamas official reiterated his rejection of the workshop.

According to the Bahraini Foreign Minister on Wednesday, the Manama conference could be a “game changer”. Speaking to an Israeli TV channel, Al-Khalifa added that the Manama summit could be like Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to occupied Jerusalem in 1977, which paved the way for the Camp David Accords and normalization of ties between Egypt and the Israeli occupation. He confirmed that his country recognizes the Israeli occupation state’s “right to exist” and that it wants “peace” with Tel Aviv.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Egypt, Jordan, Morocco to attend US-led Palestinian conference

MEMO | June 11, 2019

Egypt, Jordan and Morocco have informed the Trump administration they will attend a US-led conference in Bahrain this month on proposals for boosting the Palestinian economy as part of a coming US peace plan, US officials said on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

Egypt and Jordan’s participation is considered especially important since historically they have been key players in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and are also the only Arab states to have reached peace agreements with Israel.

However, Palestinian leaders’ decision to boycott the June 25-26 conference has raised doubts about its chances for success. They have shunned a broader diplomatic effort that US President Donald Trump has called the “deal of the century,” which they see as likely to be heavily tilted in favour of Israel and denying them a state of their own.

Despite that, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a chief architect of the long-delayed peace plan, is pressing ahead with arrangements for the Bahrain meeting, where the economic components are expected to be unveiled as the first step in the plan’s rollout.

Acceptance of the invitation to the conference by Jordan and Egypt will bring to the table two countries that border both Israel and Palestinian areas.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have previously confirmed their attendance, a White House official said.

The official declined to say what level of representation the countries would send. US officials have said they were inviting economic and finance ministers, as well as business leaders from the region and around the world.

Global financial bodies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank also plan to be present.

US officials have been vague about the timing for the second phase of their initiative, which would be the release of proposals for resolving the thorny political issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

With Israel heading for new elections in September after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet a deadline to form a government, uncertainty is expected to further delay the full release of the plan.

Most experts are skeptical the Trump administration can succeed where decades of US-backed efforts have failed.

 

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Defense Cooperation Agreement Between US, UAE Now in Effect – White House

Sputnik – May 29, 2019

The White House issued a press release Wednesday, revealing that US National Security Advisor John Bolton and United Arab Emirates National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA).

“The DCA will enhance military coordination between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, further advancing an already robust military, political, and economic partnership at a critical time,” reads the statement. “The United States and the United Arab Emirates share a deep interest in promoting prosperity and stability in the region.”

“The DCA will advance that interest by fostering closer collaboration on defense and security matters and supporting efforts by both nations to maintain security in the Gulf region,” it adds.

The US also has defense cooperation agreements with Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.

​The latest agreement comes days after the US Defense Department announced that officials from the US and Estonia signed a five-year document to continue a defense cooperation between the two countries through 2024. According to a release from the defense agency, Estonia joins fellow Baltic states Lithuania and Latvia in the move.

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bolton Alleges Iran Maritime Sabotage But Evidence Points Elsewhere

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician swims toward an MH-60S Sea Hawk Helicopter after performing mine response procedures in the Arabian Gulf during Artemis Trident 19, April 9, 2019. Samantha P. Montenegro | Dvids
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | May 29, 2019

On Wednesday, National Security Advisor John Bolton told a group of reporters in Abu Dhabi that “naval mines almost certainly from Iran” had been used to conduct the alleged “sabotage” attack on four commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates’ port of Fujairah earlier this month. “There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this and I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know,” Bolton continued, providing no evidence for his claim.

Bolton is currently in Abu Dhabi ahead of an “emergency” summit scheduled for Thursday in Saudi Arabia, where top U.S. and allied Arab officials will “discuss the implications of the tanker attacks, and drone strikes two days later, on oil pumping stations in the kingdom.”

The murkiness that still surrounds what caused this tanker “sabotage,” as well as the very limited extent of the alleged damage, suggests that this poorly executed incident either did not go as planned or that it was a freak accident that has now been manipulated for weeks by the U.S. and its regional allies for political gain. However, Iran is far from being the clear culprit, especially given that three foreign militaries — including the U.S. Navy — concluded a mine warfare naval drill just weeks before the “sabotage” incident occurred. 

MintPress previously reported on the tanker “sabotage” attacks soon after they occurred and noted that neither the UAE or the Saudis had cast blame for the incident on any country and that the damage caused was relatively minor with no casualties. In fact, the incident was so minor that the local government of Fujairah had initially denied that any “sabotage” had taken place and maintained that its port facilities were operating normally.

Only the U.S. had cast blame prior to Bolton’s statements, with the “initial assessment” of a group of U.S. military investigators rapidly concluding that Iran or “proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran” had used explosives to damage the four commercial vessels. Public evidence to support that claim has been minimal and, at times, counter to the official narrative. For instance, one of the Saudi vessels allegedly targeted, Al Marzoqah, was seen floating without any visible damage in post-attack footage taken by Sky News, even though the Saudis had claimed that the vessel had sustained “significant damage.” One U.S. official told the Associated Press that each of the four ships had sustained a 5- to 10-foot hole near or just below the water line, but only one such hole has been observed in just one of the targeted ships.

Iran has consistently denied any involvement in the incident, with Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warning against a “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” and “adventurism by foreigners.”

However, Bolton’s Wednesday statement echoes other recent statements made by U.S. officials that sea mines — either floating mines or limpet mines, which attach magnetically to the targeted ship’s hull — were likely responsible for the relatively minor hull damage allegedly experienced by the four ships. Top U.S. military officials — such as Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff — have attributed the mines to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the Trump administration designated a terrorist organization in early April. Yet, recent events in the Persian Gulf suggest that the sea mines likely responsible for the attack may not have been of Iranian origin.

Why it’s unlikely to be Iran

Before delving into the definite possibility that the mines in question were not of Iranian origin at all, it is worth considering that even if the mine(s) that were allegedly used in the tanker “sabotage” were Iranian, they had not been planted recently by Iranian forces.

First, in the event that these were floating mines, the preparation made for the deployment of mines is often detected well before the mines are even seabound. Placing mines at sea is a massive logistical undertaking involving multiple steps that allow adversaries to detect and disrupt their deployment well in advance.

As Bob O’Donnell, a retired Navy Captain and veteran minesweeper, told Breaking Defense in 2015, the first step involves removing mines from storage facilities, given that “countries will have their mines in ammo dumps somewhere, [but] without any sensors in them. The first step is they take them out of the dumps and take them someplace where they put the sensors in.” As Breaking Defense noted, “the more mines they move, the more people and trucks they need, which makes it more likely someone will let something slip or that U.S. spy satellites will notice suspicious activity.” Then, the mines must be placed in the water, which is usually performed by ships, or aircraft or submarines in the case of specialized mines.

Given this, the lack of satellite images, which would have shown Iran’s military engaged in these types of activities that precede mine deployment, is telling. This is because Iran’s military and its movements are under heavy scrutiny from foreign governments and satellite images of alleged Iranian military or nuclear assets have frequently accompanied official narratives that push for more aggressive policies towards Iran.

For instance, satellite images that purported to show Iran’s “land bridge” from Tehran to the Mediterranean were recently released by a private Israeli company and satellite images of Iran’s nuclear facilities have often accompanied past media reports claiming that such sites have been the site of increased activity or accidents. Furthermore, a considerable part of the basis for the alleged Iranian “threat” to U.S. troops in the region, which has been the foundation for the recent rise in tensions, has also been based on satellite imagery. Those images claimed to show Iran moving missiles onto boats within their own territory. If private companies, the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence often use satellite imagery to back up their claims regarding Iran — particularly its use of military assets — the fact that such images are not present to back these claims of mine deployment is telling.

In addition, a significant portion of the mines in the Persian Gulf that are of Iranian origin are holdovers from conflicts of decades past, such as the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. During that period, Iran mined large swathes of the Persian Gulf and, in April 1988, an American ship — the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts — struck an Iranian sea mine, creating a 15-foot hole in the ship’s hull and nearly sinking it. Notably, this mine — which was considered unsophisticated at the time of that conflict — caused damage much more significant than caused by the mines believed to have been involved in the recent sabotage incident. Furthermore, Iran is unlikely to have sought to lay new mines given that the U.S. has previously warned that attempts to deploy mines in the area would prompt a military response.

This context leaves the following possibility for Iranian involvement in laying the mines: that Iran used small, unmarked boats to covertly lay a small number of mines (between one and four) to target a handful of commercial vessels near the Strait of Hormuz. This claim of “unmarked boats” has been made by several U.S. officials in recent weeks and is notable for the fact that the use of “unmarked boats” in no way insinuates Iranian culpability. In fact, the use of such boats makes it plausible that anyone could have laid the mines. This may explain why claims have also been made that the party responsible was an alleged proxy “either sympathetic to or working for” Iran.

Yet, even then, Iran has little or nothing to gain from this “sabotage” event, especially considering the logistical undertaking it would require to lay just a handful of mines in a busy commercial shipping zone without causing major damage. The only actual consequence of this event — following the U.S. designation of the IRGC, and following Bolton’s subsequent press release that laid a clear foundation for provoking war with Iran — is an increase of U.S. troops in the region and a further increase in the tensions that have caused considerable damage to the Iranian economy and arguably weakened the political standing of the “moderates” who currently govern Iran.

Artemis Trident

Given the increasingly slim evidence for Iran’s involvement in the sabotage, the mines in question could have come from another country’s military. Though such claims would normally be highly speculative, the fact that the Persian Gulf was the site of a major foreign military mine warfare drill just a few weeks before the attack lends credibility to such a possibility.

On April 15, just a week after the U.S. labeled Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist organization, Bolton received intelligence on the “credible threat” by Iran from his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben Shabbat, when the two met in Washington to discuss their “shared commitment to countering Iranian malign activity & other destabilizing actors in the Middle East & around the world.” That same day, thousands of miles away in the Persian Gulf, a major naval drill known as “Artemis Trident” began among the navies of the U.S., the U.K. and France. The focus of that large naval drill, which ended on April 18, was sea mine warfare in the Persian Gulf.

An Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician is hoisted onto a helicopter after performing mine response procedures during Artemis Trident/ Photo | Dvids

“Laying [mines] poses a risk to naval ships as well as merchant shipping vessels,” the U.S. Fifth Fleet said in an announcement, which continued:

As mines threaten maritime traffic indiscriminately, the U.S., France, and United Kingdom are dedicated to conducting tactical training to counter the risk of mines in order to support the continued free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation in this critical region.”

Though the militaries involved described the drill as purely defensive in nature, the U.S. contingent included Naval Task Force 52, which — according to the U.S. Navy — “plans and executes mine warfare operations in support of U.S. 5th Fleet operational objectives.” In the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Fifth Fleet has bases both in Bahrain — where Artemis Trident took place — and in Fujairah, where the now infamous “sabotage” incident took place just a few weeks later.

Not long after the U.S., the U.K. and France had concluded Artemis Trident, the U.S. Maritime Administration — a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation — stated that “Iran or its proxies could respond by targeting commercial vessels, including oil tankers, or U.S. military vessels in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait or the Persian Gulf.” This warning came just days before the “sabotage” incident and just a few weeks after the U.S/U.K./France drill aimed at protecting “merchant shipping vessels” from mines had concluded.

As MintPress previously reported, the U.S. Department of Transportation is currently headed by Elaine Chao, a known Iran-hawk who was paid $50,000 for a five-minute speech to the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), known to actively seek regime change for Iran. Other top U.S. officials, such as Bolton, have also been paid hefty sums for appearances and speeches at MEK events, where they have openly advocated for the overthrow of the Iranian government.

The naval exercise was one of the first major naval exercises of the Fifth Fleet to take place after the sudden, mysterious death of the fleet’s commander, Admiral Scott Stearney, last December. Stearney was found dead in his home in Bahrain and the death has been labeled an “apparent suicide” and is still being jointly investigated by the Navy and Bahrain, with no new conclusions nearly six months after the fact. Stearney was known for opposing a major escalation with Iran even though he was routinely critical of what he called Iran’s “destabilizing” role in the region.

The presence of foreign, particularly U.S., mine-laying ships and divers in the region close to the same time frame as the “sabotage” incident makes it a definite possibility that the mines in question could have been American, British or French — not Iranian — in origin. In that case, the mines either could have been accidentally left over from that drill or intentionally set after the fact, given that the hardware and specialized naval vessels used in deploying mines were all present at the time of the “sabotage” incident.

While the evidence for this is circumstantial, it is worth pointing out that the same evidence being used to link Iran to the same mines is just as circumstantial and arguably less convincing, given the lack of any benefit derived from this “sabotage” attack from the Iranian point of view.

A poor man’s Gulf of Tonkin?

While it is far from certain where these mines originated or who placed them, it is clear that there is hardly any substantial evidence — based on what is publicly available — that would link the mines directly to Iran or an “Iran-backed proxy.” The small scale of the attack, the alleged use of “unmarked boats,” the timing, and the lack of any strategic or tactical benefit from the attack make the Iranian government and its military an unlikely culprit.

The fact that so much attention is being given to an incident that sunk no ship and caused no injuries or fatalities should make it clear to any thinking person that the fixation on the tanker sabotage is not driven by any real threat and is merely a pretext for Iran hawks in the U.S. and the region to ratchet up tensions — something like a poor man’s Gulf of Tonkin.

Bolton’s statements assigning direct blame for the incident — and the related and equally minor incident of a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline by Yemen’s resistance movement — to Iran a day prior to the Saudi-hosted “emergency” summit on this incident are clearly meant as a signal to governments in the area. Though Bolton claimed that his public statement was directed at the “leadership in Iran,” more likely targets were the governments of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other attendees of the summit who have still failed to follow the U.S.’ lead in blaming Iran for the incident.

It seems more than likely that a major effort will be made on Thursday to develop a consensus blaming Iran for these and potential future incidents in the region, as Bolton and his allies make the case for an even more aggressive Iran policy. Indeed, Bolton noted Wednesday that the goal of the upcoming summit was “to make it clear to Iran and its surrogates that these kind of activities risk a very strong response from the Americans.”

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

May 29, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , | 3 Comments

Palestinian cabinet not consulted on US-led Bahrain summit, PM says

Press TV – May 20, 2019

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh says his government has not been consulted about an economic conference that the United States will hold in Bahrain next month.

The White House announced on Sunday that the first part of President Donald Trump’s so-called “peace plan,” which is spearheaded by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, will be unveiled in Bahrain’s capital, Manama.

The US will host the economic conference on June 25 and 26 to purportedly encourage investment in the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

“The cabinet wasn’t consulted about the reported workshop, neither over the content, nor the outcome, nor timing,” Shtayyed told Palestinian ministers in the presence of reporters on Monday.

Relations between the Palestinian Authority and the US took an unprecedented dip in late 2017, when Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”

The Trump administration has said that its secret plan, which has been dismissed by Palestinian authorities even before being unveiled, would require compromise by both sides.

‘We don’t trade our political rights’

The Palestinian Authority is facing steep aid cuts. Since being shunned by Palestinians, Trump’s administration has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars to humanitarian organizations.

“The financial crisis the Palestinian Authority is living through today is a result of the financial war that is being launched against us in order to win political concessions,” Shtayyeh said.

“We do not submit to blackmail and we don’t trade our political rights for money,” he added.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. However, Israel insist on maintaining the occupation of Palestinian territories.

‘High treason’

Also reacting to news of the upcoming conference, Bahrain’s main opposition group, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, has described the US “deal of the century” as a plan to sell Jerusalem al-Quds and Palestine, slamming it as “high treason,” the Arabic-language Lualua television network reported.

The group criticized the ruling Al Khalifah regime for hosting the conference, saying that is a departure from all national, Islamic and humanitarian principles.

Al-Wefaq further said the Bahraini people are opposed to the “desecration” of their country and efforts for converting it into a “station” to sign a new version of the Balfour Declaration – the document that led to Israel’s creation.

The group noted that the Al Khalifah regime’s move to host the “disastrous project” is no surprise, adding Manama’s recent rapprochement with the Israeli regime comes as it “lacks popular legitimacy” and seeks international support in an attempt to sustain its legitimacy.

Al-Wefaq called on all Bahrains and “free governments” to reject the initiative and stop the “dangerous development” from proceeding.

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 1 Comment

Canada Gets Cozy with Repressive Middle East Monarchies

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | April 26, 2019

While Justin Trudeau’s government embraces repressive Middle East monarchies, they want us to believe their campaign to oust Venezuela’s government is motivated by support for democracy and human rights.

On a tour of the Middle East last week Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan met his United Arab Emirates counterpart Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi in Abu Dhabi. According to Emirates News Agency, Canadian and UAE officials discussed “cooperation in the military and defence sectors” at a time when the oil rich nation plays a key role in the horrendous violence in Yemen.

The Trudeau government is promoting arm sales to the UAE and other regional monarchies. With support from “15 trade commissioners and representatives from the Government of Ontario, National Defence, Global Affairs Canada, and the Canadian Commercial Corporation”, 50 Canadian arms companies flogged their wares at the Abu Dhabi-based International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in February. To help the arms companies move their wares, Commander of the Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Darren Garnier, led a Canadian military delegation to IDEX.

During his recent tour Sajjan met King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein in Jordan. He discussed military cooperation with a monarch known for prosecuting individuals for “extending one’s tongue” (having a big mouth) against the King. At the end of March, Trudeau phoned King Abdullah II.

On April 9 the Canadian and Jordanian armed forces broke ground on a road project along the Jordanian-Syrian border. During a ceremony for the Canadian-funded initiative Commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, Lieutenant General Michael Rouleau, said: “this important road rehabilitation project is a tangible example of the close relationship between Jordan and Canada. It will help keep the people of Jordan safe by allowing the Jordanian armed forces to deter, monitor and interdict incursions along the northern border with Syria, which will help to enhance security in Jordan and in the region.”

On his Middle East tour Sajjan also met Kuwait’s Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who is part of a family that has ruled for 250 years. According to the Kuwait News Agency, Canada’s defence minister “stressed deep relations between Kuwait and Canada and pointed out mutual willingness to bolster and consolidate bilateral ties.”

Earlier in the month finance minister Bill Morneau and Parliamentary Secretary Omar Alghabra participated in the inaugural Kuwait and Canada Investment Forum. At the time Alghabra wrote, “let’s celebrate and continue our efforts to grow the relationship between Canada and Kuwait in investments, trade and defence.”

Military ties with Kuwait are important because the Canadian forces have a small base there. In December the Canadian Navy took command of Combined Task Force 150 from their Saudi counterparts. Canada also has a small number of troops in the monarchies of Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar.

Last month Canada’s Ambassador to Qatar Stefanie McCollum boasted of growing relations between the countries, claiming “our values structures are very similar.” In an interview with Al Bawaba the Canadian diplomat also said Ottawa is seeking to deepen business ties with the natural gas rich monarchy and that the two countries are in the final stage of signing a defence cooperation agreement.

Notwithstanding the diplomatic spat last summer, the Trudeau government has mostly continued business as usual with the most powerful and repressive monarchy in the region. Recently foreign minister Chrystia Freeland looked the other way when Saudi student Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi fled Canada — presumably with help from the embassy — to avoid sexual assault charges in Cape Breton. While Freeland told reporters that Global Affairs was investigating the matter, Halifax Chronicle Herald journalist Aaron Beswick’s Access to Information request suggests they didn’t even bother contacting the Saudi embassy concerning the matter.

According to an access request by PhD researcher Anthony Fenton, Freeland phoned new Saudi foreign minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf in January. In briefing notes for the (unannounced) discussion Freeland was encouraged to tell her counterpart (under the headline “points to register” regarding Yemen): “Appreciate the hard work and heavy lifting by the Saudis and encourage ongoing efforts in this regard.”

Despite their devastating war in Yemen and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia continues to receive large shipments of Canadian weaponry. 2018 was a record year for Canadian rifle and armoured vehicle sales to the Saudis. $17.64 million in rifles were exported to the kingdom last year and another $1.896 million worth of guns were delivered in February. In the first month of this year Canada exported $367 million worth of “tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles” to the Saudis.

As Fenton has documented in detail on his highly informative Twitter handle, armoured vehicles made by Canadian company Streit Group in the UAE have been repeatedly videoed in Yemen. Equipment from three other Canadian armoured vehicle makers – Terradyne, IAG Guardian and General Dynamics – was found with Saudi-backed forces in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition used Canadian-made rifles as well.

On Tuesday the Saudis beheaded 37 mostly minority Shiites. Ottawa waited 48 hours — after many other countries criticized the mass execution — to release a “muted” statement. The Trudeau government has stayed mum on the Saudi’s recent effort to derail pro-democracy demonstrations in Sudan and Algeria as well as Riyadh’s funding for Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s bid to seize Tripoli by force.

The close and friendly relationships between the Trudeau government and repressive Middle East monarchies demonstrates how little the Liberals care about democracy abroad and illustrates the hypocrisy of Canada’s claims that its efforts to oust Venezuela’s government is all about supporting democracy.

Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.

April 27, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli businessmen, officials cancel Bahrain visit amid national outcry

Press TV – April 15, 2019

An Israeli delegation of merchants and officials has canceled its planned participation in a business conference in Bahrain amid growing national outcry over the Persian Gulf kingdom’s warming ties with the Tel Aviv regime following years of clandestine contacts.

A spokeswoman for Israel’s Economy Ministry said a planned visit to Bahrain this week by Israel’s Economy Minister Eli Cohen had been “delayed because of political issues.”

A group of around 30 Israeli business executives and regime officials was scheduled to participate in the event, which is organized by the US- based Global Entrepreneurship Network and will run in Manama from April 15 to 18.

At least three Israeli speakers, including the Israel Innovation Authority’s deputy chief, Anya Eldan, were scheduled to speak at the event.

“While we advised the Israeli delegation they would be welcome, they decided this morning not to come due to security concerns and a wish not to cause disruption for the other 180 nations participating,” the organization’s president Jonathan Ortmans told Reuters.

Earlier this month, Bahrain’s most prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim strongly denounced the Manama regime’s decision to host an Israeli delegation in the business conference.

“Hosting and greeting the Zionists at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, is a bold step on a dishonorable path; that of humiliation, capitulation and shamelessness,” he said in a statement carried by the Arabic-language Lua Lua television network.

Sheikh Qassim further underlined that the Israeli regime tops the list of Muslim world’s enemies, and that Manama’s plan to host Israeli delegates was in line with its attempts to compromise and normalize ties with the enemy.

This is a clear sign of the Manama regime’s disregard for Islam and the will of the nation, the top cleric pointed out.

Last month, members of the Bahrain parliament issued a statement, rejecting the visit.

“Parliament stresses its support for the just cause of the brotherly Palestinian people, and it will remain a priority for the Bahraini and Arab people,” the statement read.

It added, “The end of the Israeli occupation and the withdrawal from all Arab land is an absolute necessity for the stability and security of the region and for a fair and comprehensive peace.”

Some street protests were also held in Manama in condemnation of the planned visit.

Russia’s RT Arabic television news network reported on March 4 that Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh, the speaker of Saudi Arabia’s Consultative Assembly, together with his Emirati and Egyptian counterparts had opposed a paragraph in the final communiqué of the 29th Conference of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in the Jordanian capital city of Amman, which demanded an end to efforts aimed at normalizing ties with Israel and condemned all forms of rapprochement with the occupying regime.

The paragraph stated that “one of the most important steps to support Palestinian brethren requires the cessation of all forms of rapprochement and normalization with the Israeli occupiers. Therefore, we call for resilience and steadfastness by blocking all the doors of normalization with Israel.”

On February 17, a report published by Israeli Channel 13 television network said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had held a “secret meeting” with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita last September.

Additionally, the Warsaw conference, a US-sponsored gathering that was held in the Polish capital on February 13-14, brought together Netanyahu and representatives from a number of Arab states, including Oman, Morocco, Saudi Arabic, the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.

The Israeli regime also recently re-launched a “virtual embassy” in a bid to “promote dialogue” with the Persian Gulf Arab states.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sayyed Houthi: Arab Media Campaigns against Hezbollah Result of Normalization with ‘Israel’

Al-Manar | March 3, 2019

The leader of the Houthi Ansarullah revolutionary movement, Sayyed Abdul Malik al- Houthi, on Sunday stressed that the Warsaw conference was a mere announcement of normalizing ties between some Arab regimes and the Zionist entity at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

Sayyed Houthi stressed rejection of this normalization, considering that the Zionist occupation in any Arab area targets the entire Umma.

The Zion-American schemes aim at creating a new enemy for the Arabs he said, adding that media campaigns launched by some Arab regimes against Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance is the direct result of normalizing ties with the Israeli entity.

Stressing that the Zionist entity is directly involved in the aggression on Yemen, Sayyed Al-Houthi reiterated the Yemeni’s support to the major causes of the Umma.

Yemen has been since March 25, 2015 under aggression by the Saudi-led coalition, which also includes UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, in a bid to restore power to fugitive former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been injured and martyred in Saudi-led strikes, with the vast majority of them being civilians.

However, the allied forces of the Yemeni Army and popular committees established by Ansarullah revolutionaries have been heroically confronting the aggression with all means.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas: Warsaw summit serves Israel only

Hazem Qasem
Palestine Information Center | February 15, 2019

GAZA – Hamas’s spokesman Hazem Qasem on Thursday said that the US-led Warsaw conference serves the interests of Israel only.

Qasem said in a brief statement that the US administration seeks to integrate Israel into the regional community and liquidate the Palestinian cause.

“Warsaw conference portrays Iran as the most dangerous enemy instead of the Israeli occupation, which will lead to more divisions in the Middle East. All this is a free service offered by the US administration to Netanyahu,” he added.

Qasem pointed out that Warsaw conference is a thinly-veiled attempt by Israel and the US to pass the so-called Deal of the Century.

The conference will be attended by representatives from dozens of countries including Arab countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the UAE.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The gulf within GCC is only widening

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 10, 2018

The annual summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh on Sunday was particularly important for Saudi Arabia as a display of its regional leadership. But the short meeting of the GCC leaders behind closed doors, lasting for less than an hour, ended highlighting the huge erosion of Saudi prestige lately.

The litmus test was the participation by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. King Salman’s letter of invitation to the emir was perceived as some sort of an olive branch for reconciliation. But Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi represented the country at the summit.

The calculation by the hot headed crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE that Qatar would pack up is turning out to be a historic blunder. Qatar had some trying times but it has successfully weathered the harsh embargo by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the boycott is now hurting its enforcers. Qatar “celebrated” the anniversary of the boycott in June by banning the import of goods from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt (which had cut diplomatic and transport ties on June 5, 2017.) Ironically, Iran has been a beneficiary as Qatar established diplomatic relations with Tehran and began importing Iranian products.

Qatar also strengthened its alliance with Turkey, which stepped in as provider of security for Doha. And Turkey checkmated any plans that Saudis and Emiratis might have had to use force to bring the Qatari emir down on his knees.

The emir’s absence from the summit in Riyadh yesterday underscores that he is not in a mood to forget and forgive. Equally, Kuwait and Oman also have issues to settle with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There is tension between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over two oil fields – Khafji and Wafra – that are jointly owned by the two states, which have a capacity to produce more than half a million barrels per day, but have been closed since 2014 and 2015, respectively. The dispute is over the sovereignty over the so-called Neutral Zone on their border, which has been undefined for almost a century.

The Saudis are not relenting. “We’re trying to convince the Kuwaitis to talk about the sovereignty issues, while continuing to produce until we solve that issue,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview in October. Similarly, Saudis and Emiratis have stationed troops in Yemen’s southern province of al-Mahra that borders Oman although the region has no presence of Houthi rebels. Oman considers the move an infringement on its national security. Interestingly, instead of the Sultan of Oman, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood Al Said represented the country at the GCC summit.

To be sure, like Banquo’s ghost at Macbeth’s banquet in Shakespeare’s play, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi provided the backdrop to the GCC summit. The GCC states (including Qatar) have not criticized the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) but they would know this is a developing story and it has dented Saudi prestige irreparably, especially with the US Senate is at loggerheads with the Trump administration. The big question for the Gulf region would be as to where Saudi Arabia is heading. (See the blog by Thomas Lippman What Now For U.S. Policy And The Crown Prince?)

Of course, if the GCC disintegrates due to these contradictions, Saudi Arabia will be the big loser, because it will be a reflection on its regional leadership. But do the Saudis understand it? The remarks by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir at the end of the GCC summit showed no sign of remorse.

He said, “The members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are keen that the crisis with Qatar will have no impact on the Council (GCC). But this does not mean relinquishing the conditions imposed on Qatar.” Doha should stop supporting terrorism and extremism and avoid interfering in other countries’ affairs and needed to fulfill the Arab countries’ conditions to open the way for its return to the full-fledged work in the GCC. “The stance towards Qatar came to push it to change its policies,” he added.

The leading Saudi establishment writer Abdulrehman al-Rashed fired away at Qatar on the day of the GCC summit. In a column entitled Is it Time to end the GCC? in the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat (owned by royal family members) he wrote:

“Qatar… has been putting obstacles in the GCC path and it has succeeded where Saddam and Iran have failed: It managed to destroy and rip it [GCC] apart… It organized an internal and external opposition against the United Arab Emirates. It is now the primary financier of the greatest attack against Saudi Arabia and it stands behind the politicization of Khashoggi’s murder… Today’s [GCC] summit could not conceal the dark political cloud hanging over its head. It also strongly poses a question over the future of the GCC as doubts rise over the value of this union… A wedge has been driven in the GCC.”

The disarray within the GCC undoubtedly calls attention to the decline of US influence in the Middle East region. At the end of the day, the Gulf states have not paid heed to repeated US entreaties for GCC unity. Ideally, GCC should have provided today for the US strategy a strong platform for launching the regime change project against Iran. On the contrary, GCC is split down the middle, with Qatar, Oman and Kuwait getting along just fine with Tehran. While addressing the summit in Riyadh on Sunday, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad hit the nail on the head when he said, “The most dangerous obstacle we face is the struggle within the GCC.”

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment