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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

The Lie Of The Century

By Jafar M. Ramini | Counter Currents | June 29, 2019

Well, it’s happened. It’s real. Mr. Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and Senior Advisor of President Trump has delivered 136 pages of lies, suppositions and conjuring tricks to seduce or compel us Palestinians to accept our fate and surrender our rights. What rights? As far as this document is concerned, Palestinians have no rights whatsoever, and, as for a Palestinian perspective, what is that?

The Palestinians were not even invited to Manama, let alone considered. What about the Israelis? Were they there? Were they invited? On the face of it, no. But, in reality, they were amply represented. What is Jared Kushner if not the team captain for the Greater Israel Project? After all, he is Jewish, an ardent Zionist, an investor in the illegal settlements in Palestine and an advocate, par excellence, for Israeli survival and supremacy.

The Lie Of The Century, as I call it, is just that. A lie. From beginning to end, every word, every supposition of this long-winded deception is to ensure that the Greater Israel Project will advance unhindered, and we, the Palestinians, are to accept the crumbs off the table of our land-lords. Or perish.

But, hang on a minute. How could an occupier who seized our land by brute force be made a legitimate land-lord over us? The answer is simple. In the Trumpian universe, all that matters are power and Mammon. Isn’t this what the ‘Deal of The Century’ is all about? American/Israeli power exercised over us Palestinians without mercy? And, what about the money? Oh, yes. There is money, but it is not American nor Israeli money. It’s Arab money — to be extorted from despotic, Arabic regimes in the Gulf, as per usual. Trump demands and the Arab Regimes of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia oblige. If they don’t, as Mr. Trump intimated, their shaky thrones wouldn’t last a week without US protection.

Mr. Kushner promised $50 billion in Arab money to be divided between Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. Nowhere in the document was there any mention of Palestinian political rights, the right of return of the Palestinian refugees or even the Israeli occupation of Palestine. All was conveniently kicked into touch because it doesn’t matter, you see. What matters is Israeli survival and supremacy and the continued, rapid march of the Greater Israel Project.

I say ‘rapid march’ because who is to stop it? The Palestinians do not have an army, an air force, a navy or even a coalition to stop this march. Jordan has already succumbed to American threats and promises of prosperity. The same goes for Egypt, especially under the hand-picked President Abdul Fatah Alsisi, whose sole purpose is to neuter Egypt and serve as a facilitator for American and Israeli hegemony in our area.

Syria? Western powers, Israel and despotic Arab/Muslim states have made sure that Syria is taken out of the equation by embroiling it in a 7-year long devastating war.

The Gulf States? Saudi Arabia? Instead of stopping this advance of Greater Israel they are facilitating it by making a frantic rush towards normalization with Israel and to form a coalition of the willing to combat a perceived threat from another Muslim country, Iran. The honorable exception is the State of Kuwait, who refused to attend this farce and reaffirmed their total support of Palestinian rights and aspirations.

Let’s look closely at the word, ‘surrender’. Many of you might remember an article I wrote recently, entitled, ‘Surrender Or Die’. It didn’t take too long for the Israelis to prove me right. There it is. From the Grand weasel’s mouth, none other than Danny Danon, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN. In an article entitled, ‘What’s Wrong With Palestinian Surrender”, published in the New York Times on June 24th, one day before the Manama ‘Workshop’. “Surrender”, he wrote,” is the recognition that in a contest, staying the course will prove costlier than submission.”

There you have it. To the victor the spoils.

And, then, comes the other Grand Weasel, Mr. Jared Kushner, to deliver the message of surrender to a room full of weasels. All of these aforementioned weasels, who have been gnawing at our heels for over a century, omitted to consider one vital point: The Palestinian character and pride.

Surrender is not in our character. We’d rather die standing up, defending our rights than exist, kneeling at the feet of our self-appointed land-lords and benefactors.

Just in case any of those weasels calling for our surrender might have any interest in what we Palestinians want, here is how Executive Member of the PLO, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, put it:

Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs. Justice for the people of Palestine is a life-long commitment.

June 30, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 5 Comments

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

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

Kuwait Files Cases Against Web Users Criticizing Qatar Blockade

Sputnik – 23.08.2017

The Kuwaiti Attorney General’s office filed criminal cases against several social media users who have been criticizing Arab states and their leadership for the decision to cut ties with Qatar and impose a blockade, Kuwaiti Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al Sabah said Tuesday.

“We do not tolerate offensive remarks regarding any friendly Arab country, made by both licensed Kuwaiti media and social media users. The Attorney General’s office will deal with all those who offended Persian Gulf states,” Al Sabah said in an interview to Saudi Arabian Okaz newspaper.

He also noted that the names of those users had been already submitted to the Attorney General’s office.

In early June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and a number of other countries broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar in early June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs. The move has been strongly condemned by a number of Kuwaiti journalists and analysts, who have a large number of followers on social media.

Kuwait, acting as a mediator in the crisis, handed over the four Arab states’ ultimatum containing several demands to Doha. The list included requests to sever relations with Iran, close Turkey’s military base on Qatar’s territory, shut down Al Jazeera TV channel and end support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization banned in Russia. Doha has refused to comply with the demands.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

The Price of Defiance: Why US, Saudi Arabia Turning Kuwait Against Iran

Sputnik – 22.07.2017

Commenting on the latest twist in the diplomatic row in the Persian Gulf, this time between Kuwait and Iran, Iranian political analysts spoke to Sputnik Iran, revealing who’s really behind this new development and which of the two countries will suffer the most from the consequences.

On Thursday, Kuwait sent a diplomatic note to Iran’s embassy stating that the office of military and cultural attaches would be closed down. The note also said that 15 Iranian diplomats, including Ambassador Alireza Enayati, would have to leave the country within 45 days, leaving only four Iranian diplomats in Kuwait.

Kuwait’s acting information minister, Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah, said in a statement that the move was taken in “accordance with diplomatic norms and in abidance with the Vienna conventions with regards to its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

According to mass media reports, the moves were made following the conviction of the members of Al Abdali terror cell, whose Kuwaiti members were accused of alleged intelligence contacts with Iran and Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite militant group.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran has responded by summoning the Kuwaiti charge d’affaires. While rejecting the accusations, Iran has said that the measures taken by Kuwaiti officials are regrettable, given that the existing tensions in the region are now in a critical condition.

“We expect Kuwait to act rationally instead of responding to pressures and worsening the tensions,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

In an interview with Sputnik Iran, Sabbah Zanganeh, a political commentator, Iranian envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and former adviser to the Iranian foreign minister, said that the moves of the Kuwaiti authorities have been evidently fuelled by pressure from Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian authorities have not been informed of any details of the ongoing investigation in Kuwait and any charges which have been put forward. Neither the Iranian legal representative, nor any independent Iranian experts have been allowed to study the case in more detail.

The Iranian political analyst recalled that there have already been groundless and unsubstantiated accusations made against Iran, alleging that it played a major role in liberating the territories of Kuwait from the occupation of Saddam Hussein by supporting and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Kuwaiti residents, similar to the current accusations against Tehran.

“In due course, Saddam Hussein made a very ambitious offer to Iran to capture not only Kuwait, but the territories of other countries of the Persian Gulf. However Iran had never had a goal of the occupation of the territories of sovereign states and the destruction of the system of government of these countries,” Sabbah Zanganeh told Sputnik.

“Hence this demarche of Kuwait is baseless and is fuelled purely by the pressure of Saudi Arabia, which does not want to put up with the idea that the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, such as Kuwait and Qatar, have good relations with Iran. Saudi Arabia is exerting strong pressure on the Kuwaiti authorities and its mass media,” he added.

The political commentator further explained that until recently, Kuwait has been pursuing a very reasonable and moderate foreign policy; however it has come under strong pressure from the Saudis. Where Qatar was the first target of the Saudis, now it is Kuwait’s turn. The Saudis cannot tolerate Kuwait’s key positions in the settlement of the Qatari crisis, in the negotiations of the Yemeni issue and in the issue of diplomatic correspondence with Iran on behalf of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. Kuwait, unlike Qatar, is to a far lesser extent an independent state.

In a separate comment on the issue, Iranian political analyst and expert on Middle East and Iranian-Arab relations, former editor-in-chief of the Iranian news agency Mehr News, Hassan Hanizadeh told Sputnik that Kuwait will be the country to suffer from its demarche, while it will have no impact on the economic environment of Iran.

“These actions of Kuwait, aimed at decreasing diplomatic relationship with Iran, have been evidently dictated by Saudi Arabia and the US. As we remember, during his trip to the Middle East, Donald Trump had an important meeting with the leaders of six Arab states of the Persian Gulf in Riyadh. Trump demanded that these states cut their diplomatic relations with Iran or at least lower the level of their ties. Qatar is the first to be punished for disobeying this order,” he told Sputnik.

However, he further elaborated, Qatar held firm and defied pressure from Saudi Arabia and the US. Kuwait, in turn, is a sparsely populated country, compared to its neighbors, and prefers not to oppose the pressure of the US and the Saudis. The danger is that this demarche could spark tensions in the region between the Arab states and Iran even further.

For the last 30 years Iran has been maintaining good and friendly relations with Kuwait, avoiding any hostilities. Moreover, in 1990, during the attack of Saddam Hussein on Kuwait, the Iranian embassy in Kuwait sheltered over a hundred women and young ladies, wives and daughters of Kuwaiti emir and his brothers, on its territory from Hussein’s troops and then safely sent them to Iran for temporary relocation.

Unfortunately, the current Kuwaiti authorities have forgotten this and are putting forward baseless accusations against Iran under pressure from Saudi Arabia, the political analyst said.

“Kuwait will be the only one to suffer from this demarche. Iran is a large and strong country, which will easily overcome this crisis. Kuwait is not a high priority in the Iranian foreign policy and the lowering of the level of diplomatic relations between the two countries won’t have any impact on Iran,” Hassan Hanizadeh told Sputnik.

He explained that there are no deep trade-economic relations between the two states, only political and cultural. Hence the demarche won’t have any impact on the economy of Iran.

Commenting on the conviction of the members of the Al Abdali terror cell, and the accusation of the members in espionage on behalf of Iran, Hassan Hanizadeh noted that Iran would not spend any resources attempting to glean intelligence from Kuwait, hence all the accusations are illogical and unreasonable.

“Kuwait is not the type of country for Iran to spend its intelligence resources on. It has neither a strong army nor any objects of infrastructure, such as a nuclear power plant, for example. It is not of any particular value to Iranian intelligence services. Hence, any accusations of espionage are absurd and unreasonable,” he told Sputnik.

The political analyst said that scenario, which has got the name of “Al Abdali process” had been planned beforehand by the Americans and the Saudis. One of its aims is to clear the way for the breakup of ties between Iran and the member states of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.

Among other possible reasons of the Kuwaiti demarche, Hassan Hanizadeh suggested that it could be the discontent of the fast growing Shia Muslim population of the country. The Shia Muslim community makes over 40% of the total population of the country. And the Kuwaiti authorities don’t want them to set their eyes on Iran. Thus they are trying to lessen Iran’s influence on their country, he concluded.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Qatar emir to visit Kuwait amid regional tensions

Press TV – May 30, 2017

Qatar’s emir is to travel to Kuwait in a visit aimed at enhancing bilateral ties amid a rift emerging between Qatar on the one side and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other.

The monarch, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, will enter Kuwait City on Wednesday, Qatar’s al-Sharq paper reported on Tuesday.

Last Friday, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Saba visited Doha.

Qatar drops a bombshell

Last Thursday, an article appeared on Qatar’s state-run news agency, quoting the emir as criticizing the United States, Saudi Arabia, and their client states for attempting to stir up tensions with “Islamic power” Iran.

A post also appeared on the agency’s Twitter page, quoting the Qatari foreign minister as saying that his country was withdrawing its ambassadors from Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE amid tensions.

The Qatari government soon said that the state agency had been hacked and that the remarks attributed to the emir and the foreign minister had never been made.

The official denial, which was offered several more times, nevertheless failed to stop the rift between the Persian Gulf Arab countries from widening. Saudi media viciously attacked Qatar, accusing it of having “betrayed” the other Arab countries particularly at a time when they had attempted to stage a show of “unity” against Iran in a much-publicized and extravagant series of events in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also blocked Qatari websites and broadcasters.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (seen below) later said the country was being targeted in a “hostile media campaign, which we will confront.” He was referring to the media blackout.

Demonstrating a more moderate stance however, Kuwait did not join the blackout. Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Jarallah called the ban “regrettable” and expressed Kuwait’s readiness to converge its views with those of Qatar.

Some analysts say Riyadh fears that the Arab Persian Gulf countries it has long sought to co-opt may be gravitating toward Iran, which Saudi Arabia perceives as a regional adversary.

Tehran has said time and again that it does not seek tensions with any of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran offers dialog with Arabs on ‘anxieties’, violence

Press TV – February 19, 2017

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has proposed the formation of a forum with the participation of Persian Gulf Arab states in order to build a common goal toward overcoming problems.

“Countries in the Persian Gulf region need to surmount the current state of division and tension and instead move in the direction of erecting realistic regional arrangements. It can perhaps start with a modest regional dialog forum,” he said on Sunday.

Zarif addressed the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering of top diplomats and defense officials, urging Arab states to work with Iran to address “anxieties” and violence across the region.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week traveled to Oman and Kuwait to try improve ties, his first visit to the Persian Gulf states since taking power in 2013.

“On regional dialog, I’m modest and I’m focusing on the Persian Gulf. We have enough problems in this region so we want to start a dialog with countries we call brothers in Islam,” Zarif said.

“We need to address common problems and perceptions that have given rise to anxieties and the level of violence in the region,” he added, when asked whether Tehran would also consider a region-wide dialog.

Zarif earlier criticized four-decades of well financed “Takfiri” ideology which has its roots in Saudi Arabia and is followed by extremist groups such as Daesh, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front.

Saudi Arabia unilaterally severed ties with Iran last January after protesters in Tehran and Mashhad attacked its diplomatic premises following the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Some of Riyadh’s allies followed suit and cut or downgraded their ties with Iran.

It was choosing regional enmity, Zarif said, that had in part spawned such extremist outfits such as Daesh and al-Nusra Front.

“For nearly four decades, a well-financed global proliferation of Takfiri ideology based on division, hatred and rejection, which everybody would agree has nothing to do with Islam, has been sold as promoting a so-called ‘moderate Islam’ to confront an erroneously-framed ‘radical Iran,” he noted.

The other contributors to the rise of such groups were “the endemic problem of foreign occupation and invasion,” and their arming and financing by some states in the region, Zarif added.

‘War not the answer’

Addressing other crises in the Middle East, the top Iranian diplomat said conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain “do not have military solutions,” adding “each requires a political solution, where no genuine actor is excluded.”

As a case in point testifying to “the success of diplomacy over coercion” is the 2015 conclusion of a nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, he said.

The accord, he said, held “an important political lesson: All parties concerned defined the problem in a mutually acceptable way so that they could find a solution in a mutually acceptable way.”

US threats

Zarif brushed aside new pressure from the United States, declaring that his country is “unmoved by threats” but responds well to respect.

President Donald Trump has adopted a harsh language towards Iran, threatening to “tear up” the nuclear deal, calling Iran “terrorist state number one,” and imposing new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Zarif said, “Iran doesn’t respond well to threats. We don’t respond well to coercion. We don’t respond well to sanctions, but we respond very well to mutual respect. We respond very well to arrangements to reach mutually acceptable scenarios.”

“Iran is unmoved by threats. Everybody tested us for many years — all threats and coercions were imposed on us,” Zarif added.

The minister once again dismissed any suggestions Iran would ever seek to develop nuclear weapons. He mocked “the concept of crippling sanctions,” which he said merely ended with Iran having acquired thousands more centrifuges, used for enriching uranium.

Iran has always said it has no interest in nuclear weapons. Asked how long it would take to make one if it did decide it wanted such weapons, Zarif replied: “We are not going to produce nuclear weapons, period. So it will take forever for Iran to produce nuclear weapons.”

The Munich event discusses such issues as the future of the US-led military alliance of NATO, world order and security, terrorism, extremism, and various regional matters.

February 19, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK in panic over Johnson’s remarks against Saudi regime

Press TV – December 11, 2016

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s recent criticism of Saudi Arabia has worried British officials, with various government figures trying to gloss them over as Johnson’s own personal views.

During a conference in Rome last week, Johnson blasted the Riyadh regime over its “proxy wars” in the Middle East and its unprovoked military aggression against Yemen, which has killed over 11,000 Yemenis since March 2015.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman immediately rebuked the remarks back then, saying the comments did not reflect “the government’s views on Saudi and its role in the region.”

Johnson’s statements divided the UK Parliament, with many of the lawmakers saying that he was stating the truth and should not face public chastisement.

UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon lashed out at the media on Sunday, for blowing the story out of proportions and confecting an artificial row between Johnson and the Downing Street.

“Let’s be very clear about this. The way some of his remarks were reported seemed to imply that we didn’t support the right of Saudi Arabia to defend itself… and didn’t support what Saudi Arabia is doing in leading the campaign to restore the legitimate government of Yemen,” Fallon said during a BBC interview.

“Some of the reporting led people to think that,” he added. “The way it was interpreted left people with the impression that we didn’t support Saudi Arabia and we do.”

Fallon said the months-long Saudi invasion against its impoverished southern neighbor was in self-defense, a right that London thought Riyadh was entitled to.

“The government’s view is absolutely clear – that what Saudi Arabia is entitled to do is defend itself from these attacks across its own border,” he said.

Johnson’s remarks came at a time when May was in the Middle East, trying to cement military and economic ties with [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council nations – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.

Besides helping Bahrain with a heavy-handed crackdown on its popular uprising, Britain has also been providing weapons and intelligence to Saudis in the attacks against civilian targets in Yemen.

December 11, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10 years in jail for Kuwaiti activist for “spreading false news” on Twitter

By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | December 4, 2016

Another shot fired in the war against “fake news”.

This repressive monarchy in Kuwait is using the pretense of “fake news” (thank you liberal left media) to punish citizens and critics of the emir.

The Middle East Eye is reporting that a Kuwaiti online activist was sentenced to 10 years in prison, an appeals court has ruled, for posting messages on Twitter that “insulted the emir” and “spreading false news” that endangered the country.

The AFP reported that “the court on Thursday confirmed the jail term against Waleed Fares handed down by a lower court in May.”

More from The Middle East Eye

Fares was arrested in September 2015 for comments under the name “Gibrit Seyassi” about Kuwait’s emir and ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah, “offending the judiciary” and “accusing the attorney general and public prosecution of being biased”.

Fares said at his trial he had been beaten and threatened into a confession, according to a statement by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

He was briefly released in October, when the appeals court suspended his jail sentence until its review.

Dozens of opposition politicians and activists have in recent years been arrested by the Kuwait authorities and sentenced to prison, mostly on charges of insulting the emir or undermining his authority.

The crackdown came after the emir dissolved an opposition-dominated parliament in 2012 sparking two years of mass street protests.

December 4, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 2 Comments

US not arming Nusra, but our allies might – State Dept

RT | September 26, 2016

Al-Nusra Front is a terrorist group and the US will never provide it with any aid, said the State Department, reacting to revelations in a German newspaper – while admitting that unnamed US allies might be backing the jihadist militants in Syria.

On Monday, the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger published an interview with an Al-Nusra commander in Syria, identified only as “Abu Al-Ezz.” In the interview, conducted 10 days ago outside of Aleppo, Al-Ezz said that US allies were providing Al-Nusra with tanks and artillery.

“The Americans are on our side,” Al-Ezz reportedly said.

The US government has categorically denied providing any aid to Al-Nusra, while admitting awareness that its allies in the region may be arming the militants.

“That’s complete poppycock,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at the press briefing Monday. “Whatever he’s saying, no.”

“We would never provide Nusra with any kind of assistance at all,” Toner continued, explaining that the group is a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Asked why the US has been unable to persuade the “moderate opposition” in Syria from separating itself from Al-Nusra, Toner replied it was the rebels’ responsibility, and that they would need a seven-day ceasefire to do so.

He blamed the Syrian government offensive against East Aleppo, which he said would drive “some of those forces, not all of them” into the arms of Al-Nusra. If the Syrian government continues to insist on the military solution, “there are those – not the US – who back various opposition groups in Syria, who might also seek to arm them,” and that would lead to escalation, Toner said.

Asked to clarify if that meant that US allies might be arming Al-Nusra, Toner replied that “countries that support the opposition may want to supply them with assistance.”

Al-Nusra has been receiving funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, and has obtained tanks and artillery from Libya via Turkey, according to what the commander, Al-Ezz, told the German newspaper. The group especially appreciated the US-supplied TOW anti-tank missiles.

“The missiles were given directly to us,” he said. “They were delivered to a certain group.”

The issue of Al-Nusra receiving outside aid was brought up by Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, at the special session of the Security Council on Sunday.

“They are armed by tanks, APCs, field artillery, multiple rocket launchers… All of this has been received by them and is still being shipped to them by generous Western backers, with the US, presumably, turning a blind eye,” Churkin said.

“We have to see proof that there is a genuine desire to separate US-allied rebel groups from the Al-Nusra Front, then destroy the Al-Nusra Front and bring the opposition into a political process. Otherwise our suspicions that this was only meant to shield the Al-Nusra Front would only grow stronger,” the Russian envoy added, referring to the ceasefire agreed between Moscow and Washington that collapsed last week.

On Monday, however, the State Department talked about expecting “significant gestures” from Russia or the Syrian government to “restore their credibility” so the talks might continue, suggesting that the Syrian government should stand down its air force and cease the offensive on East Aleppo.

“The ball is somewhat in Russia’s court right now,” said Toner. However, he said the US was not ready to walk away from the talks. “If you’re asking about the legendary Plan B, we’re not there yet.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shrugged off the US rhetoric about Aleppo, however, pointing out that it was the US airstrike against the Syrian Army position besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) that ended the ceasefire.

“I would like to emphasize that the Americans and their Western allies, for one thing, want to distract public attention from what had happened in Deir ez-Zor,” Lavrov told NTV on Monday.

Read more:

West still arming Al-Nusra in Syria, peace almost impossible – Russia’s UN envoy

September 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment