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A Peace Deal Like No Other

Much ado about nothing, but Act 2 is coming up

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 22, 2020

It is odd that the White House is gloating over its claimed peace agreement in the Middle East at the same time as one of the signatories is bombing Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. It all suggests that peace in the region will exclude designated enemies and the friends of those enemies, since the ties among the three parties – Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain – is transparently in part an offensive alliance directed against Iran and its friends, to include Syria and Lebanon. A significant amount of the horse trading that preceded the gala signing ceremony in the White House involved who would get what advanced American weapons down the road. The UAE wants F-35 fighter bombers while Israel is already asking for $8 billion for more top-level weapons from the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative edge” over its new found friends.

For the more sagacious readers who chose to ignore what took place, a short recap is in order. Last Tuesday President Trump hosted a White House signing ceremony during which Israel established formal ties with the two Arab states. The agreement was dubbed the Abraham Accord because it purports to build on the foundation provided by the fraternity, as one might put it, of the three Abrahamic religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. More specifically, it created the mechanism for diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties between Israel and the two Arab countries. It should be observed that both the UAE and Bahrain are close to being client states of the U.S. Bahrain is in fact the home port of the U.S. Fifth Fleet that operates in the region and it also hosts headquarters of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). Both countries have long had de facto semi-secret relations with Israel on security issues and Israelis have been able to travel to them as long as they do not do so on an Israeli passport. And they both also know that the road to improving already good relations with Washington passes through Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally attended the ceremony, together with the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain. Trump enthused “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history” and presented a replica gold key to the White House to Netanyahu. It is not known if the two Arab ministers received anything beyond a “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”

The president observed that the two Arab nations were the third and fourth to normalize relations with Israel, following on Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, and predicted that five more Arab countries might soon also recognize Israel. Oman and Qatar, which hosts the major U.S. airbase at Al-Udeid, are likely to be next in line as both have close ties to the United States and have never exhibited much hardline anti-Israeli fervor. The claim made before the signing, that Israel would stand down on its plan to annex much of the Palestinian West Bank as a quid pro quo for the agreement was not discussed at all, nor was it part of the document. It is generally believed that Israel will wait until after the U.S. election to make its move.

The Palestinians, who have been on the receiving end of Israeli nation-building were not invited. There were some demonstrations by Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah denouncing the signing as it took place, together with chanting that “Palestine isn’t for sale.” Indeed, Palestinians are more-or-less invisible in Washington, having had their representational office closed by Trump in 2018 after he had been shown a fabricated video by Netanyahu in which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appeared to be calling for the murder of children. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also viewed the video and informed the president that it was an obvious fabrication, but Trump was convinced by it.

The U.S. media, always inclined to applaud anything that advances Israeli interests, registered its approval of the agreement. And there were calls for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Trump for his miraculous achievement, not as ridiculous as it sounds as it is at least as well deserved as the one that was given to Barack Obama. Trump the peacemaker has a nice ring to it, and it quite possibly would pay off for the president in terms of votes and political contributions. Indeed, if one looks at the White House ceremony dyspeptically, it becomes clear that the whole event was staged for political purposes to advance GOP interests in the upcoming election. If it changes anything on the ground at all it actually worsens the chances for peace in the region. The UAE and Bahrain are now locked into a unified effort to oppose Iran by military force if necessary, with open support from Israel plus covert aid from Saudi Arabia as well as the full backing of the United States.

One might reasonably argue that the agreement was a win for Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, as they have succeeded in obliging the U.S. to support their own regional security interests for the foreseeable future. The media, defense contractors and politicians bought and paid for by Israel will be able to assert that the U.S. must retain significant forces in the region to defend Israel and friendly Arab states against the largely fictitious “Iranian menace.” It is unfortunately a major setback for United States efforts to limit its exposure to any and all political developments in an increasingly unstable Middle East. If the White House had really wanted to disengage from the quagmire that it has found itself in, it was an odd way to go about it.

And the Palestinians are left with nowhere to go, the presumption being that with lessening Arab support they will be reduced to begging Israel (and the U.S.) for a deal that will reduce them to the status of helots. That conclusion just might make them desperate and could trigger a new and even more bloody intifada.

The downside of the agreement is already beginning to play out as the United States is preparing to unilaterally impose sanctions on Iran that will include possible seizure of Iranian ships in international waters, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also warned Russia and China against trying to sell weapons to Tehran. One might well ask, how exactly does Pompeo propose to do that? Will he shoot down Russian transport planes or sink Chinese and Russian flagged ships? How does one go from being crazy to being batshit crazy, and what about all those Americans and others who would prefer not to be on the receiving end of a nuclear exchange?

Trita Parsi, who follows the situation in the Middle East closely, has suggested that Pompeo might even be planning an October Surprise, which might amount to some kind of provocation or even a false flag operation that would result in open conflict with Iran with the U.S. arguing that the fighting is both lawful and defensive in nature.

Such a suggestion might be considered insanity, but there are signs that the U.S. is heightening its delegitimization campaign against Iran. Unconfirmable allegations from anonymous U.S. government sources are surfacing about an alleged Iranian plot to kill the U.S. Ambassador in South Africa. And, as of Saturday, Washington is now implementing its new sanctions regime and there is a distinct possibility that an Iranian vessel in the Persian Gulf might be seized, forcing Iran to respond. The U.S. Navy has already intercepted four Greek flagged tankers in the Atlantic Ocean on their way to Venezuela, claiming they were carrying Iranian petroleum products, which were then confiscated. Given the demonstrated propensity to use armed force, anything is possible. The thinking in the White House might be that a containable war against a recognized enemy might be just the ticket to win in November. Of course, once the fighting starts it might not work out that way.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

PLO: Normalisation prepares for formation of military alliances led by Israel

MEMO | September 14, 2020

Secretary-General of the PLO’s Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, said yesterday that the UAE and Bahraini normalisation deals with Israel prepare for the formation of military alliances in the region led by Israel, Anadolu reported.

In a press conference held in Ramallah, Erekat said: “Israel will never be a tool to protect the security of Arabs, but a tool to undermine the security of the Arab states.”

“The Bahraini, Israeli, American agreement to normalise relations is now part of a bigger package in the region. It is not about peace, it is not about relations between countries. It is a military alliance being created in the region led by Israel.”

On Friday, Bahrain joined the UAE in normalising ties with Israel, a move that caused outrage among Palestinians.

“Normalisation does not serve the Palestinian or the Arab interests,” he said, “whoever depends on Israel commits a strategic mistake.”

He also noted that the normalisation deals did not include any indications to the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution for refugees.

“What happened was an implementation of the US deal of the century,” he said, stressing that these deals will not achieve peace if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved first.

 

September 14, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bahrain civil society groups reject normalisation agreement

MEMO | September 14, 2020

Civil society groups in Bahrain have rejected the government’s normalisation agreement with Israel which is expected to be signed formally in Washington DC on Tuesday. Seventeen organisations have issued a joint statement to this effect, with signatories including the General Federation of Workers’ Trade Unions in Bahrain, the Bahraini Bar Association and the Bahrain Women’s Association.

“We adhere to the constants of the Bahraini people regarding the just Palestinian cause and the provisions of the constitution that criminalise normalisation with the Zionist entity, in accordance with the official and popular Arab and Islamic consensus rejecting normalisation with this criminal entity,” said the groups. “All forms of normalisation with the Zionist entity initiated by some countries have neither produced peace nor restored the usurped rights of the Palestinian people, but have, rather, encouraged the enemy to commit more crimes against Palestine and the holy Arab and Muslim sites, foremost of which is Holy Jerusalem.”

The statement added that “what is known as a peace treaty between Bahrain and the Zionist enemy under the auspices of the US administration has brought about tremendous shock, resentment and widespread popular rejection among the Bahraini people, their political forces, civil society institutions, and all national actors and personalities.”

As a result, the signatories pointed out, nothing arising from the normalisation deal will have any popular legitimacy. “Generations of Bahrainis have believed in the just nature of the Palestinian cause,” they concluded.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Normalisation with Israel means RIP international law, it’s been nice knowing you

By Ibrahim Hewitt | MEMO | September 12, 2020

The news that Bahrain has followed the UAE, Jordan and Egypt into Israel’s criminal embrace was no surprise; nor will it be shocking to hear that Saudi Arabia is following suit, as it almost certainly will. The raising of the Israeli flag in Riyadh will happen sooner rather than later. The groundwork for this has already been prepared by what passes for a government in the Saudi capital, with Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, a state-controlled Imam in Makkah, doing a 180 degree U-turn on peace with Israel in a recent sermon.

These deals have been written in the blood of the people of occupied Palestine. Recognition of the colonial state of Israel is acceptance of the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians by the nascent state and its terrorist militias in and around 1948, and the subsequent death and destruction that the “Israel Defence Forces” have rained down on Palestinians ever since. It is also the acceptance of the death of international law, which surely has no place left to hide if the world accepts what is going on in the name of “peace” in the Middle East.

Once again, the Palestinians are the fall guys in all of this, but what should they do? What can they do? It is tempting to think that they have been backed into a corner and will now be expected to roll over and die, metaphorically or literally; or possibly both. The fact is, though, that they still have some cards to play, but it will require a major shift in the strategy that has dominated Palestinian politics for more than a quarter of a century.

The rot started when the Palestine Liberation Organisation under Yasser Arafat gave up on “liberation” as a goal and signed the Oslo Accords. Palestine and its people have paid a heavy price ever since, with their leaders making concession after concession while Israel has conceded nothing. On the contrary, the occupation has become even more entrenched during the farce of “negotiations” which have now been on hold for years.

Is there any other place in the world where the victims of criminal activity have been told to negotiate with the criminals in order for justice to be served? Or where justice has never actually been on the agenda of such talks because it would expose the criminals and their allies for what they really are?

Is there any other conflict in the world where the aggressors claim “self-defence” every time they bomb civilians “back to the stone age”, and where this is accepted by the international community even though an occupation state has no such legitimate claim under international law? Or where the legitimate right to resist military occupation by every means at your disposal is regarded as “terrorism”, as it is when you are a Palestinian resisting Israel’s brutal occupation of your land?

We can and should argue that the Palestinian Authority hasn’t got a leg to stand on with complaints about the UAE and now Bahrain doing a deal with Israel, for the simple reason that not only has it been happy to rely on support from Egypt and Jordan for decades, both of which have peace treaties with the Zionist state, but it has also continued to protect Israel and Israelis through its “security cooperation” with Tel Aviv. This cooperation — a euphemism for collaboration — has been described as “sacred” by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, probably because he knows that his Palestinian No Authority Whatsoever was created to serve Israel’s interests, not the interests of the people of occupied Palestine, and is funded accordingly. No collaboration, no funds.

Abbas and his PLO-Fatah-PA cronies can complain as much as they like about “normalisation”, but they know that their words can only ever serve as rhetoric unless and until real changes are made. As my colleague at MEMO Motasem Dalloul wrote this week, such complaints are all for media consumption.

It is surely time for the PA to call it a day and dissolve itself. Abbas should step aside; his “ministers” should clear their desks; and the “Palestinian security apparatus” should be disbanded. Annexation is going to happen no matter what the PA or anyone else says or does, so let Israel declare its sovereignty over the whole of the occupied Palestinian territories. Such a move will still be illegal, if international law has any meaning left at all, and the status quo won’t really change as far as those living under occupation are concerned. Oppression is still oppression whether your jailers wear Israeli or Palestinian uniforms.

With no PA as its lapdog, Israel will have sole responsibility for security and the civilian infrastructure for everyone living within its as yet undeclared borders (alone amongst all UN member states, Israel has never said where its borders lie), Jews and Arabs alike. That will place a huge financial and logistical burden on Netanyahu and his increasingly far-right government, a burden which it is unlikely to be able to cope with if it wants to retain the mirage that it is “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

Not that Israel has ever really cared what the rest of the world thinks as long as its lobbyists are able to make Western governments dance to their tune. This has allowed Israel to act with impunity and treat international laws and conventions with contempt for more than 70 years, and its leaders have been and remain war criminals and guilty of crimes against humanity. And yet those ostensibly democratic governments in the West, for reasons known only to themselves, continue to declare their undying loyalty to what is, by any measure, a rogue state.

The guardians of international law at the UN are toothless and have acquiesced with Israel’s occupation and presence in the Middle East simply by not acknowledging that it is a settler-colonial state which rides roughshod over Palestinian rights, including the refugees’ right of return. UN agencies provide essential services to the refugees but have to labour under the constraint which has turned Palestine into a humanitarian rather than a political issue.

Moreover, the absurdity of the Security Council veto afforded to the post-World War Two nuclear states means that nothing will happen at the UN if any one of the US, Britain, Russia, China or France disagrees. The rest of the world can have opinions and even majority opinions but that tiny exclusive club will always carry the vote and then apply undue pressure on other countries to do as they are told.

The normalisation of Arab states, therefore, doesn’t really mean “peace” as we are being led to believe; it simply means that they too are displaying contempt for international law; that they too condone the Nakba and the Naksa; that they too condone the ongoing colonisation of Palestine and the oppression of its people; and that they too are bowing to Zionist hegemony in the region, and perhaps the rest of the world as well. Normalisation with Israel actually means RIP international law, it’s been nice knowing you.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bahrain and Palestine: At the Heart and Front of the Struggle Against US and Zionist Occupation

By Julia Kassem | American Herald Tribune | February 18, 2020

Nine years ago, on February 14 of 2011 to the date, massive anti-government protests swept Bahrain.

Yet the common narrative of Bahrain’s uprising as on the backburner of the failed Egyptian movement downplayed the real significance of Bahrain in struggle. Rather than writing it off as a failed after effect of the 2010-2011 Arab Spring protests, Bahrain should be recognized as a struggle of liberation against Western imperialism and occupation on par with the Palestinian struggle.

With a long, established root in history, and as the Resistance Axis scales up the regional call to expel US occupation following the assassination of IRGC General Qassem Soleimani, Bahrain deserves increasing attention.

Bahrain is a Persian Gulf island under the monarchist rule of the Al-Khalifa clan that had ruled Bahrain over two centuries, soon receiving the support of Britain following an 1820 treaty with the Al-Khalifa monarchs.

Post-Cold War, the United States would eclipse Britain as the main imperialist backer of Bahrain’s monarchy in the Middle East. As Britain tightened its relationship with Bahrain in 1919, it had also carved out the blueprint for the occupation of Palestine in 1917 under the Balfour Declaration.

The movement in Bahrain was brutally suppressed not just because of its uprising against one monarchy, but because of the unrelenting popular consensus by demonstrators for a government that is anti-Zionist, anti-American, and democratic. These calls were met with a brutal crackdown by Saudi-backed authorities that intervened a month later to quell the popular revolt.

Western media narratives had cast Bahrain’s uprising in the shadow of Egypt’s failed ‘revolution,’ relegating it to the backburner of a co-opted Arab “Sting.”

Bahrain may not have the highest number of American troops occupying the tiny island, with just neighboring Kuwait and Qatar hosting up to 13,000 US occupying forces each. Yet the tiny island, packs over 7,000 US troops, stationed, as of January 2020, in a tiny 765 km2 area.

It also has been made home to a US naval base since 1947, the oldest of its kind in the Middle East, established one year before the 1948 Nakba, the year the illegal Zionist occupation was made legitimate in the eyes of the so-called “international community.”

The United States’ Navy 5th Fleet, established in Bahrain in 1944 as the largest combat fleet in the world was only reestablished in 1995 after being inactive for 48 years. Yet it has situated itself as the useful output of US regional hegemony in the Persian Gulf, where the “area of responsibility for American fleets shuttling aircraft carriers and destroyers include pretty much every West Asian nation along the Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, and some of the Indian Ocean.

Poised for the US to have an easier shot at a number of nations under its threat, occupation, or watch, from Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, or Yemen, to a station to safeguard its the regimes it backs, like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE, its positionality is becoming even more critical in light of the US’s assaults, sea and land alike, against Iran.

History: Previous uprisings

To understand the reason behind the Western/Gulf insecurity behind popular uprisings in Bahrain, historically, one must draw upon the history of resistance against the monarchist elite in Bahrain.

An approximately 5-year uprising that began in 1994, the “uprising of dignity” by a coalition of both Shia and leftist factions against the ruling regime.

In 2006, the Al Bandar report revealed Saudi plans of sowing the seeds of sectarian tension in Bahrain, where a nearly $3 million financing of secret cells in the Bahraini government and its intelligence apparatuses, government-operated cover-NGOs, and sectarian propaganda was aimed at an intentional targeting of Bahrain’s more than 70% Shia majority.

That same year, Sheikh Abdul Amir al-Jamiri, a main spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shia, passed away after decades of commitment and leadership to bringing justice to Bahrain. Al-Jamiri, the main leader of the mid-90s uprising, was credited for bringing secular leftist and Shia factions together in a unified call against a regime that, in its monarchy, was in service of capitalism, imperialism, and Zionism.

Yet al-Jamiri’s passing would later inspire the unified call for reform and revolt 17 years later. Unfortunately, Bahrain’s opposition coalition would accept the concessions put forth by the then-new emir Hamad al-Khalifa, enshrined in Bahrain’s 2001 National Action Charter.

Like the many agreements and negotiations handed to the Palestinians, this agreement, while bringing the country back to some provisions in the previous constitutional rule the monarchy clan stamped out in 1975, had the effect of doing little to curtail the economic and political supremacy of the monarchy and its systematic oppression of its majority population.

The Bahrain-Palestine connection

Both the oppressed of Bahrain and occupied Palestine have suffered for decades under the US’s ambitions to use their lands as military bases, supporting and backing neo-colonial regimes to help instill their political, economic, and military hegemony.

The illegitimate governments of both countries continue to US hegemony by, obviously, their military role as US-military bases but also for their benefits for US-dominated capitalism. For example, the Zionist entity’s tech sector has found its footing and high dependency on the U.S. economy. According to a December 2019 report by the ‘Israeli’ Ministry of Finance, US investments accounted for 35% of those in ‘Israeli’ tech in 2018, with the total amount of Israeli investors being lower at 30%. In Bahrain, the royal family has amassed at least $40 billion alone from 2000 to 2010 from land-grabbing schemes for development, both buying properties from the UK and brokering free-trade agreements with the US.

The result, in taking the lion’s share of land available for people’s commerce and trade, has caused a hike up in land and property prices, compounding the existing and intentional economic conditions of high native unemployment (at 35%) that afflicts the local youth. The Bahraini regime has accomplished essentially what the Israeli regime has in its occupation of Palestine: the weaponization of land grabbing as a regime-building tool as well as flooding the country with cheap, foreign labor effectively barring the native underclass from any economic agency or access.

More significant is the tactic and prevalence of arbitrary and forced detention endemic to the preservation of both US-backed regimes. Bahrain is the top country globally for political prisoners, with over 14,000 cases of arbitrary detention between 2011 and 2019 alone. This includes the detention of over 1,700 children. The Zionist entity, similarly, replicates this tactic and these projections: since 1967, the occupation has arrested over 800,000 Palestinians, including 50,000 children, with over 1,250 minors under arbitrary detention between 2011 and 2018 alone.

Characteristic of the Zionist and Bahraini regimes, in addition to their routine arbitrary detention of civilians and children, is their brutal imprisonment and torture of movement leaders and dissidents; especially those that have played vital roles in uniting the opposition.

This is exemplified by the detention of Marwan Barghouti or Khalida Jarrar in occupied Palestine or Ayatollah al-Qassem and Ebtisam el Sayegh in Bahrain. These are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of leaders and activists that have endured torture, repeated arrests, in order to quell the rich ideological leadership committed to resistance to occupation and oppression in both the Bahraini and Palestinian nations.

Both the Deal of the Century and the recent uptick in torture against Bahraini prisoners of conscience can give their thanks to the acceleration of support and reinforcement from the United States under the Trump administration.

The Obama administration did no more than offer a trickle of lip-service criticism against the Zionist and Bahraini regimes in his time in office, countered anyway by his first-term Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s warm embrace of both: Clinton has always considered herself a “strong supporter” of the Occupying Entity as she did commend Bahrain’s king.

While the US’s arms sales to Bahrain had somewhat halted under Obama’s term, which had otherwise undergone the steady increase of bombings and drone warfare in the Middle East, due to human rights concerns, the Trump administration had carried out $5 billion in sales of Lockheed’s F-35 fighter jets to the monarchy in 2017.

In 2009, the Bahraini government had planned to spend a billion on security and defense in the country, looking to several Saudi and American defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, for its purchases.

Just as Trump unveiled and greenlit his development-oriented “Deal” for Palestine, he had also, greenlit massive torture, along with arms sales, to the Zionist, Saudi, and Bahraini regimes.

As one torturer famously said to el Sayegh: “Do you know that we have a green light from Trump?”

Similar to how the Zionist entity employs its handsome security packages–a 2018 gift of $38 billion over 10 years–towards brutal neighborhood raids in the West Bank, its next site of total mass expulsion thanks in part to the Deal, Bahrain too has put Trump’s generous donations and pledges to mass raids.

Like the Zionist entity, the Bahraini regime regularly engages in mass-raids. Shortly after the 2011 uprising, over 430 members of the opposition Al-Wifaq party, also teachers, clinicians, and day-laborers were violently arrested in night raids.

The largest and most brutal case came shortly after Trump’s May 2017 “green light.” Bahrain’s security forces raided Sheikh al-Qassem’s home, shot and killing five demonstrators and arrested 286.

As Sondoss Al Assad, a Lebanese journalist who focuses especially on Bahrain wrote in a recent article for American Herald Tribune:

“Blessed by Trump’s Green Light, Manama has intensified its brutal measures, which also met out collective reprisal against scores of peaceful opposition figures and human rights advocates.”

Just last June, the convening to pass the Zionist-American “Deal of the Century” was hosted in Bahrain, signifying the tight-knit connection both the Zionist and Bahraini regimes have in extending their influence in the Levant and Persian Gulf fronts, transforming the lands they occupy into development enterprises as well as American military bases.

A Bahraini man Monday was sentenced three years for burning the flag of the illegal Zionist entity at an anti-’Israel’ demonstration last May. Bahrain, through history and in its present, is truly emblematic of, as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a February 16th speech, ‘a treachery platform conspiring against the Palestinian cause.”

For this reason, it is imperative that both Bahrain and occupied Palestine be at the heart of the Middle East’s liberation struggle. It is expected that the Deal will ignite an intifada and regional rejection that has been consistently brewing in occupied Palestine. At the same time, a regional consensus amongst the resistance axis to expel American presence and forces from all Arab and Muslim soil, particularly in Iraq, will be crucial in Bahrain, and draw the curtains of occupation on both these two birth-sites of US and British imperialism in the region.

February 22, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Will Iran’s ‘Total War’ on the US Look Like?

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 11.01.2020

There is a growing threat of Iran launching ‘total war’ on the US in the case of the US resorting to attacking Iran and targeting its cultural locations. While such an act will in itself amount to war crimes, this will most certainly produce the necessary conditions for Iran to start a war on the US in the region. Soleimani’s funeral and the emotions that have engulfed Iran show that the Iranians are looking to implement Khamenei’s vow of “severe revenge.” The questions, in this context, are: what will Iran’s execution of ‘severe revenge’ look like, what options does Iran have in the region and how this will happen? What appears most likely—and given the nature of asymmetry between the US and Iran—Iran’s preferred option would most likely be a calculated activation of the “Axis of resistance” against the US in Syria, Iraq and even Lebanon. This might also include targeting US military establishments in the region—Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar etc.

America’s scattered military options, whilst it gives the US a military advantage, also give Iran plenty of options for sidestepping US military advantage by striking at the weak points of its various infrastructures in the region. While such an act may also pit these regional states against Iran, these states, as of now, are more interested in preventing hostilities for obvious reason: an Iranian total war will consume the tiny Arab states.

In other words, by following this strategy, Iran will make sure that the war that Trump sees as a quick punitive strike spreads in the region, reaching well within the borders of US allies. What this means is that Iran’s position in the region is qualitatively different from that of Iraq. Iran’s political and military landscape is also altogether different from Iraq and even Syria, making it too complex a country for a punitive strike to cut to size.

On the other hand, by spreading the war in the region and by attacking US infrastructure, even though this will invite strong US reaction, Iran will be able to inflict enough damage on the US to turn the public opinion against Trump who is already facing impeachment in the final year of his first term as US president.

At the same time, however, the threat of Iran resorting to a ‘war in the region’ scenario has already led many Arab officials to coordinate with the US to prevent such a scenario. Whereas the Saudis have hurried to Washington, meeting US foreign and defence secretaries, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani (who belongs to the royal family) were in Tehran and were received by President Hassan Rouhani. The Gulf states are obviously seeking their own assurances from both Iran and the US to avoid a war that engulfs them in its wake. Imagining a straight Iran-US war is, however, difficult, given that the US military establishments are in these very states, and these states have no capacity on their own to defend against an Iranian onslaught.

Targeting US bases in the region also shows that Iran’s objective, at the most, will be to drive the US out of the region. As Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said in his recent speech, a fair response to Soleimani’s assassination will be “ending the American military presence in our region.” The message, in other words, is that all US military personnel in the region….in tiny Arab states…. will be on their toes, watching their backs, full time.

As of now, the US has 5,000 troops in the UAE; 7,000 in Bahrain; above 13,000 in Kuwait; 3,00o in Jordan; 3,000 in Saudi Arabia; 10,000 in Qatar; 5,000 in Iraq; around 1,000 in Syria—all of course well within the range of Iranian missiles, making them an extremely attractive targets for the Iranian forces.

Only in Iraq, about 5,000 US troops could very well be sitting ducks if the Popular Mobilisation Forces were to launch a war of attrition. If history is any guide to the future, it might be unrealistic to completely rule out a replay of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings — the attack on a Marine compound in Beirut on the night of October 23 in which 241 US personnel were killed, forcing Reagan to order the withdrawal of troops from Lebanon.

This strategy would work to Iran’s advantage. Notwithstanding the scale of damage that the US can inflict on Iran by targeting its naval and other military installations, Iran would make sure to spread chaos in the Middle East in ways that make the regional states, apart from the war-weary US public, impress upon the US to deescalate. What might add to this chaos will be a simple blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.

Salman Rafi Sheikh is a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Bahrain’s Top Opposition Leader: Six Years of Persecution for Adopting Democracy and Reconciliation

By Sondoss Al Asaad | American Herald tribune | December 28, 2019

Although freedom of expression is a ratified constitutional right; yet it constitutes a heinous crime and poses an existential threat to the Manama regime. For instance, Sheikh Ali Salman, Secretary-General of the now-outlawed Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, Bahrain’s top opposition political group, who has been held in custody since 2015, enters on Dec 28th his sixth year of arbitrary detention.

Indeed, the persecution of this peaceful leader is related to his commitment to peaceful protest and anti-corruption, marginalization and monopolization of power policies.

Al-Wefaq top leader had been initially serving a 4 years sentence on charges of ”insulting the interior ministry and inciting hatred.”

Prior to the current ongoing uprising, Sheikh Ali Salman had been severely tortured and arrested without trial, in 1994, before being exiled for more than 15 years.

The Bahraini High Court of First Tier acquitted Sheikh Salman on 21 June 2018; however, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal, on 4 November 2018, and handed him a life sentence after finding him guilty of spying for Qatar ”to transfer confidential information in exchange for financial compensation.”

Al-Wefaq slammed the verdict calling it a ”political revenge.” Sheikh Ali Salman’s co-defendants, former MP and Sheikh Hassan Sultan have also been sentenced to life in prison, while in absentia.

Seen as part of the diplomatic row with Qatar and following Saudi Arabia and other states’ boycott of what they call Doha’s ”extremist policies,” Sheikh Salman’s trial shifted to an intelligence-sharing case, relating to a clipped audio recording of a telephone call with Qatar’s former Prime Minister.

The incomplete clip was made in 2011, as part of mediation between Manama and the opposition, overseen and encouraged by the US, to deal with the political upheaval, i.e. it dates back to several years ago.

The edited clip was thus smeared by the Bahraini government to prolong the imprisonment of Sheikh Salman, merely because he long called for democratic reforms including a constitutional monarchy and elected prime minister.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt accused Qatar of ”supporting terrorist groups and of being too close to Iran,” allegations Doha has vigorously denied.

Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising had erupted in February 2011 but was violently suppressed by Saudi troops.

Ever since the tiny archipelago has been wracked by unrest as the government has stepped up its prosecution campaign against all forms of peaceful opposition demanding reforms, freedom of expression, release of political prisoners and to put an end to the politically-motivated discrimination against the Shiite majority population.

The government has curbed the rights to freedom of association and assembly, outlawed opposition groups, detained thousands of dissents, provoked the citizenship of hundreds and unfairly prosecuted citizens in military courts, accompanied with a wide range of physical, sexual and psychological torture and ill-treatment.

Bahrain hosts the US Navy’s 5th fleet and a UK permanent base. Those two powerful allies; however, have blatantly failed to speak out about the deteriorating human rights status-quo, ongoing crackdown on prisoners of conscience and the politically motivated conviction and unlawful imprisonment of Sheikh Ali Salman and the rest of opposition leaders.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Jordan seeks to restore diplomatic relations with Syria: Minister

Press TV – December 6, 2019

Jordan plans to restore full diplomatic relations with neighboring Syria in a further sign of Arab states embracing President Bashar al-Assad after a UAE diplomat praised him for “wise leadership” this week.

Jordanian Minister of State and Agriculture Samir Habashneh said Thursday he will travel to Syria later this month as part of a nearly 30-strong delegation, Arabic- language Ammon news website reported.

Former Prime Minister Taher al-Masri will head the delegation to restore Amman-Damascus bilateral relations to the level prior to the outbreak of foreign-sponsored Syrian conflict, it said.

Habashneh said Jordan and Syria actually have common areas of interest, stressing that the visit should have taken place much earlier in order to enhance communication between the two countries.

Commenting on a possible meeting with President Assad, he stated that the matter is in the hands of the Syrian side, and that the Jordanian delegates would like to sit for talks with the 54-year-old Syrian leader, senior officials and representatives of the Syrian people.

Jordan’s official Petra news agency, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Sufian Qudah, reported earlier this year that the Amman government had appointed a new chargé d’affaires to its embassy in Damascus.

“It was decided to appoint a Jordanian diplomat at the rank of charge d’affaires in the Jordanian embassy in Damascus,” the Jordanian official said.

He underlined that the “decision has been made in line with Jordan’s stance since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011 to keep the Jordanian embassy in Damascus open.”

Jordanian lawmakers first asked for the improvement of Jordan-Syria ties to the level before the start of the Syrian crisis last year, stressing that the relations are beneficial to both nations, Arabic-language Rai al-Youm newspaper reported last December.

Around the same time, Bahrain announced that work at the kingdom’s embassy “in the Syrian Arab Republic is going on whilst the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Kingdom of Bahrain is carrying out its duties and flights connecting the two countries are operational without interruption.”

It came a day after the United Arab Emirates officially reopened its embassy in Damascus.

Earlier this week, the UAE’s top diplomat in Syria praised President Assad for his “wise leadership”, in one of the strongest expressions of support yet from a country that once backed Damascus’ enemies in the war.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark UAE national day on Dec. 2, UAE charge d’affaires Abdul-Hakim Naimi said he hoped “security and stability prevails throughout the Syrian Arab Republic under the wise leadership of President Bashar Al-Assad.”

“Syria-UAE relations are solid, distinct and strong,” he added, according to a video posted by Russian broadcaster RT.

Arab countries’ restoration of diplomatic ties with Damascus takes place at a time when the Syrian army troops are finalizing their victory against foreign-backed terror groups and restoring peace and stability to the war-torn country.

Earlier this year, Reuters news agency cited sources as saying that Washington had lobbied Persian Gulf states including the UAE to hold off restoring ties with Syria.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

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