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Over 80 percent of Americans won’t back war over attack on Saudi oil sites: Poll

Press TV – September 19, 2019

Most Americans are opposed to the idea of a new US military conflict over the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, a new poll has found, amid reports that Washington is not ruling out a military response to the attack which slashed the close US ally’s oil output by more than half.

The survey by the Business Insider, released late Wednesday, found that only 13 percent of Americans would want to see a joint military response by the US and Saudi Arabia to the Saturday attack.

Asked what role they think the US should take on in case of a military response by Saudi Arabia, 25 percent of the participants in the survey said “the US should remove itself entirely from the affairs of the region and let Saudi Arabia handle the issue itself.”

Around 25 percent said the US should stay out of the conflict at any price and respond by condemning the attack and hit those responsible with sanctions or diplomatic criticism.

The poll found that 16 percent of Americans believe “the US should offer material support in the form of supplies and intelligence to Saudi Arabia for their military response, but no more,” while 22 percent said they “don’t know” what the US should do.

Only seven percent of those questioned said the US should support the Saudis with “a complete military assistance in whatever form may be required.”

And 6 percent said the US “should engage in air assaults or bombings as part of a Saudi military response but refrain from committing ground forces.”

The attack by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement forced the Saudi state oil company Aramco to halt operations at its al-Khurais and Buqayq facilities, some of the largest refineries in the world, disrupting the production of around 5.7 million barrels per day (5 percent of global demand).

According to data by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), that is more than half the kingdom’s overall output (9.3 million bpd), and more than the total production of most countries—aside from the US and Russia.

The surprise attack has already caused oil prices to jump, forcing both the US and Saudi Arabia to tap into their reserves to calm the market. The shortage is also expected to cause gas prices to jump across the US.

US President Donald Trump and senior officials from his administration have on several occasions accused Iran of having a role in the attack, but they have yet to directly pin it on Tehran.

Trump on Wednesday ordered sanctions against Iran to be “increased substantially,” in what observers argue is a response to such allegations.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has called the attack an “act of war” and alleged that the attacks might have originated from Iran, traveled to Riyadh later in the day to discuss a possible response with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Ahead of Pompeo’s arrival, Saudi officials put on display what they said were remains of the drones and the alleged missiles that were used in the attack, claiming they were Iranian-made. Both Iran and the Yemeni resistance forces have denied the allegations of Tehran’s involvement.

In an official note passed to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents American interests, the Iranian Foreign ministry condemned and rejected the claims and warned that any action taken against the country over the false accusations will be met with an immediate response.

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

UAE Joins US-led Maritime Coalition in Middle East

Al-Manar | September 19, 2019

Following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates has joined a US-led naval mission purportedly aimed at protecting shipping lanes in Middle Eastern waterways.

The official Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported the UAE’s decision to become a member of the so-called International Maritime Security Construct on Thursday, a day after Riyadh said it was joining the alliance.

It quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as claiming that Abu Dhabi’s accession to the US-led coalition is meant to “to secure the flow of energy supplies to the global economy and contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The United States has been trying to persuade its allies to join the international coalition with the declared aim of providing “security” for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic shipping lanes in the Middle East.

Washington moved to set up the coalition after pinning the blame on Tehran for two attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in May and June. Tehran rejected the claims, saying the attacks seemed more to be false-flag operations meant to exert pressure on Iran.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi — key members of a coalition waging war on Yemen — decided to join the coalition in the wake of the Yemeni army’s massive retaliatory attacks on key Saudi oil facilities.

Saudi Arabia and the US pointed the finger at Tehran again, a claim rejected by Iran and Yemen.

On Wednesday, Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki claimed that the strikes were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

During a press briefing, Maliki showed off wreckage of drones and missiles, which he claimed proved “Iranian” involvement in weekend attacks on two oil facilities.

At another presser in Sana’a, Yemeni army spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree rejected the claims of Iranian role in the drone raids, which he described as “an outstanding example of the military prowess.”

Saree also sternly warned the UAE against keeping up its acts of aggression against the Yemeni nation.

“To the Emirati regime we say only one operation (of ours) would cost you dearly,” he said. “Today and for the first time we announce that we have dozens of targets within our range in the UAE, some are in Abu Dhabi and can be attacked at any time.”

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Putin’s Multipolar Offer to Saudi Arabian Exceptionalism

By Tim Kirby | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 18, 2019

Global Islamic Terrorism is universally recognized as today’s big threat and has been the justification for all sorts of changes, especially to life in the West after 9/11. The Islamic terrorists whom we are supposed to fear on a daily basis more or less believe in some form of Wahhabism, which grew up in and is spread from Saudi Arabia. Surprisingly the US and the Saudis have been and still are staunch allies. This makes little sense on the surface but Saudi exceptionalism extends to Russia as well. Russia and former parts of its territory have been some of the biggest victims of Wahhabism and still fight it to this day and yet President Putin just vowed to protect them from air threats via Russia’s top of the line equipment. So this raises the question by what logic would Russia want work with the Saudis who prop up the ideas that murder their citizens? The short answer is Multipolarity.

During the Cold War we saw two great powers with massive spheres of influence dividing the planet between themselves. This Bipolar (in the literal sense) structure forced everyone on America’s side to be Capitalist / Western-style Democratic and everyone on the USSR’s side to be Communist. So for every Communist revolution that succeeded Moscow’s sphere of influence grew while Washington’s shrank.

Now in the 21st century this dynamic is much different as the sole Hyperpower is fighting against any upstarts who challenge its status, which means that every nation that succumbs to the Washington status quo is a victory for Monopolarity, while any nation that begins to act on its own or under the influence of anyone besides the US/NATO/The West is a victory for Multipolarity.

This is why today, unlike during the Cold War Russia has a policy of being open to working with anyone who is willing to work with them regardless of ideology. Of course during the Cold War the US and the Soviet Union would work with countries outside their political theory of preference to some degree, but now Russia is free from the burdens of Communist ideology and is thus free to associate with anyone and Moscow is willing to work with anyone because any nation that rises up to a high level of sovereignty creates another crack in the monolith of Monopolarity.

This is why Moscow has been cooperating with Turkey who at times has been very aggressive towards them, shooting down a Russian plane, forcing their way into Syria and working against Assad’s and Russia’s interests in the region, and opening Turkish Universities across parts of the Former USSR challenging Russian cultural influence. These all sound bad, but Moscow has bigger fish to fry and the upstart Turks, despite being in NATO are beginning to push for a more powerful sovereign pro-Turkish foreign policy, which is bad for Russia in doses, but on the whole is a huge stride towards a Multipolar World that Russia so desperately needs.

And this is the logic that applies to the Saudis. True the Saudi Wahhabism and loud inaction in terms of containing Wahhabism have lead to the deaths of many Russian-speaking people the world over, but the Multipolar mission takes precedence, thus Putin offered the Saudis to buy Russian S-400 systems because “Our (Russian) air defenses can protect you, like they do Turkey and Iran” and that “These kinds of systems are capable of defending any kind of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia from any kind of attack.”

Syria and Turkey are both major Multipolar victories so perhaps in Putin’s words there is a hint that Saudi Arabia could jump on the Other World Order’s boat by buying these defense systems. The S-400s in question could be used to defend against a local neighbor, but we could suppose that a massive surface-to-air set up would best be used to defend against NATO, who is the only serious missile launching threat.

To an extent it is very possible that this offer by President Putin to the parties indirectly responsible for a great deal of suffering in Russia could actually be an invitation to the Multipolar World.

Saudi Arabia has been very much the exceptional Arab nation in the Middle East when it comes to NATO’s actions, but nothing lasts forever. The Saudis have oil and little means to defend it, while at the same time maintaining an ideology that has been demonized by the Mainstream Media for almost 20 years, prepping the West with a casus belli when the time comes. The fear of Monopolar aggression could force the Saudis to buy into team Multipolarity.

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Yemeni Killer Blow to House of Saud

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 18, 2019

The Yemeni rebels’ drone blitz on the “nerve center” of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry was a devastating counter-offensive which potentially could end the four-year war in short order. What is even more catastrophic for the Saudi monarchy – especially the ambitious Crown Prince – is that the Houthi rebels have wielded the ultimate power to crash the kingdom’s oil economy.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) was the main architect of the disastrous Saudi war on Yemen. His military hard-man display was meant to consolidate his rise to power as heir to the Saudi throne. It was a calculation based on the blood of the Yemeni people. But now the war has gone from a callous game to a far-more dangerous threat to the House of Saud’s seat of power. If the Saudi oil economy is put at severe risk, then the lifeline for the monarchy is liable to be cut.

After last weekend’s spectacular air strike on the main oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia – northeast of the capital Riyadh, some 1,000 kms from Yemen – the Houthi military leadership is warning that more deeply-penetrating aerial attacks are on the way. The Yemeni rebels have demonstrated that nowhere in Saudi Arabia is safe.

Saudi air defenses and their multi-billion-dollar US Patriot anti-missile systems have been rendered useless against an-ever increasing arsenal of more sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated out of Yemen. UN experts reckon that the Houthis’ UAV-X drone has a range of up to 1,500 kms, which means that all of the Saudi oil infrastructure located in the Eastern Province near the Persian Gulf is a viable target.

Last weekend’s air strikes carried out with 10 drones, according to the Houthis, caused Saudi oil output to shut down by nearly half. The main target – the Abqaiq refinery – processes some 70 per cent of all Saudi crude destined for export. It is not clear when the processing plant can be restored to normal function. It may take weeks or even months. But if the Yemeni rebels can inflict that extent of damage in one air raid, it is not hard to foresee how the Saudi oil-dependent economy could conceivably be brought to a crippling standstill.

“The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us,” said a Houthi military spokesman following the drone strikes. The rebels also warned foreign workers in Saudi Arabia associated with the country’s oil industry to vacate.

The Yemenis have a gun to the House of Saud’s head. It must give the rebels great satisfaction to finally have the Saudi monarchy in their cross-hairs after four years of Yemen suffering relentless aerial bombardment and siege by the US-backed Saudi military. The Saudi-led war on its southern neighbor – the poorest country in the Arab region – was always an outrageous aggression under the guise of supporting the return of a corrupt crony who had been ousted by the Yemenis in early 2015. Up to 100,000 people have been killed – most of them from the indiscriminate bombing campaign by Saudi (and Emirati) warplanes supplied and armed by the US, Britain and France. Millions face starvation in what the UN calls the worst humanitarian crisis for many years.

The Saudi rulers, Western governments and media have tried to obscure the genocidal war on Yemen as a “proxy war” involving Iran, as if Tehran is the instigator of subverting Saudi Arabia from the south. Iran backs the Houthis politically, and perhaps also militarily more recently, but any involvement by Tehran is a reaction to the initial Western-backed Saudi aggression against Yemen.

Claims by US and Saudi officials that Iran is responsible for the latest air strikes on Saudi Arabia’s vital oil industry are more of the same obfuscation. Such muddying of the waters is an attempt to distract from the central point that the Houthis are retaliating with the legitimate right of self-defense after years of merciless slaughter inflicted on their people by the Western-backed Saudi coalition.

There’s another urgent reason for why the Saudi rulers and the US are trying to blame Iran for the latest drone attacks on the Saudi oil industry. If admitted that the air raids were carried out primarily by the Houthis – perhaps even with Iranian drone technology – then that admission points to the complete vulnerability of the Saudi oil economy and the very power structure of the monarchic rulers.

A hint of the trepidation being felt in Riyadh are reports that the latest air strikes have rattled stock markets for Saudi petrochemical companies. Worse, it is also reported that the attacks may delay the planned stock market listing of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company. Worse still, the valuation of the company may be slashed due to the perceived risk from further Yemeni air strikes.

The planned Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Aramco – whereby the Saudi state is selling a portion of the company to private investors – has been one of the most talked about events in recent years among international business. The IPO which is due to be launched next year has been called the “biggest-ever” stock market sell-off.

In an extensive interview with Bloomberg in October last year, the Saudi Crown Prince, MbS, boasted that it was the “biggest IPO in human history”. He claimed then that Aramco’s total valuation was worth $2 trillion. If the Saudis sell off a 5 per cent share in the company, they are expecting to raise $100 billion in cash. The Aramco IPO is central to MbS’ ambitious diversification master plan for the entire Saudi economy, known as Vision 2030. The capital raised from the Aramco sell-off is intended to catalyze private sector employment and technological innovation in the oil-dependent kingdom whose budget is unsustainably propping up government-sector jobs and welfare largesse to prevent the young population of Saudis rebelling against the sclerotic House of Saud.

After the Houthis’ devastating air attacks on the Saudi oil heartland – the crown jewels of the kingdom – potential investors are now reportedly looking warily at the future risk of Aramco. Valuation of the company in the aftermath of the Yemeni drone strikes has been slashed by some estimates to $300 billion – that’s down by 85 per cent from the previous aspired-for $2,000 billion. If that downgrade holds or worsens with future Houthi attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure, then the capital raised from an IPO could shrink from the $100 billion projected by the Crown Prince to $15 billion. In short, his Vision 2030 plan is down the pan.

It must be alarming to the young Saudi potentate that US President Donald Trump has begun to play down any retaliation against Iran, saying that he doesn’t want to be drawn into a war.

That means the Saudi monarchs are on their own and at the mercy of the Houthis and what they do next. The downfall of the scheming Crown Prince evokes a Shakespearian drama of treachery.

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 3 Comments

Why do so many spy agencies take so much interest in Gaza?

By Motasem A Dalloul | MEMO | September 16, 2019

The Gaza Strip is a part of Palestine with more than two million Palestinians living in around 365 square kilometres. It has been occupied by Israel since 1967, which has imposed a near-total 13-year land, air and sea blockade. It is regarded as one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

The coastal enclave has been subject to many Israeli military offensives, with three major attacks during the past decade alone. It has no natural resources and “less than four per cent of fresh water is drinkable and the surrounding sea is polluted by sewage.” Tragic humanitarian statistics — unemployment at 52 per cent; poverty 53 per cent; water pollution 95 per cent; and daily power outage 75 per cent — convey a bleak picture. A United Nations report warned in 2018 that it could soon become unfit for humans to live in by 2020.

However, Gaza has a presence in many corridors of power around the world, in both the East and the West. Last week, a security source in Gaza told me that they had so far discovered agents for 25 regional and international intelligence agencies operating in the territory.

Furthermore, every official or partisan Israeli election list has the issue of Gaza at the top of the agenda in their current campaigns. What are they promising to do with the Gaza Strip?

According to Ron Ben-Yishai, the military correspondent of Yedioth Ahronoth, for example, the Likud Party is planning a large-scale military ground operation in Gaza to deter the Palestinians’ “military power”, after which, he claimed, Israel will call for the world to disarm the security forces there and reconstruct the infrastructure and economy. The Blue and White party, said Ben-Yishai, is promising potential voters that it will do more or less the same thing as Likud.

The veteran journalist pointed out that the head of Israel’s Jewish Home party, Avigdor Lieberman, is promising its voters to carry out a similarly “strong” military operation in Gaza to “completely” remove its government before rebuilding the enclave “from zero”. Again, the intention is to have a disarmed population on Israel’s doorstep. The Yamina alliance led by the former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, meanwhile, is promising to carry out a massive air strike in Gaza and carry out assassinations (“targeted killings”) of Palestinian leaders.

It is no secret that Egypt is a major player in the situation in Gaza. It plays a role in the Israeli and internationally-backed blockade, and has a special unit in almost every security agency tasked with dealing with the Gaza Strip. In practice, Egypt, is the only state beside Israel which has a land border with the Gaza Strip, but regards it as a security issue and is dealing with it as such. As far as the Palestinians can see, though, since the time of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s deep state gives priority to Israel’s interests in Cairo’s relationship with Gaza.

End Gaza Siege! – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The UAE has imposed severe restrictions on Gaza since the victory of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in the 2006 elections. Hamas has been the de facto government in Gaza ever since. The government in Abu Dhabi has since deported or asked hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza to leave the Emirates, and has been running active intelligence agencies in the Gaza Strip with the help of Palestinian MP Mohammed Dahlan who lives in the UAE with his family.

During the 2014 Israeli military offensive against Gaza, the security services discovered that an ostensibly medical aid convoy which entered the territory included intelligence staff instead of doctors and medical staff. To avoid clashes with the UAE, the Gaza security officials immediately deported the UAE nationals.

Jordan also has a hidden agenda in Gaza. A security source told me that a Jordanian MP who visited the territory during the 2014 Israeli offensive was discovered collecting and reporting intelligence on behalf of a certain country. He was immediately deported with the threat that he would be exposed to the media if he did not leave his hotel in the enclave at once.

Other known agents active in Gaza include those working on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Western powers, the US and Russia. Prior to 2008/9, an American citizen in her 20s entered Gaza posing as a journalist and claimed to me that she was a CIA agent. Israel, of course, has many Palestinian collaborators in the territory.

Why are the countries of the world paying so much attention to the sliver of land known as the Gaza Strip? Could it be because Gaza is the only place in the whole Arab world which is being ruled by the people who were chosen by democratic elections declared to be free and fair by international monitoring bodies, including the NGO run by former US President Jimmy Carter? Or is it because the Gaza Strip is a “superpower” that the whole world is afraid of? May be the latter is true precisely because of that electoral accountability.

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Will Trump Take Neocon Bait and Attack Iran Over Saudi Strike?

By Ron Paul | September 16, 2019

The recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities by Yemeni Houthi forces demonstrate once again that an aggressive foreign policy often brings unintended consequences and can result in blowback. In 2015 Saudi Arabia attacked its neighbor, Yemen, because a coup in that country ousted the Saudi-backed dictator. Four years later Yemen is in ruins, with nearly 100,000 Yemenis killed and millions more facing death by starvation. It has been rightly called the worst humanitarian catastrophe on the planet.

But rich and powerful Saudi Arabia did not defeat Yemen. In fact, the Saudis last month asked the Trump Administration to help facilitate talks with the Houthis in hopes that the war, which has cost Saudi Arabia tens of billions of dollars, could finally end without Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman losing too much face. Washington admitted earlier this month that those talks had begun.

The surprise Houthi attack on Saturday disrupted half of Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas production and shocked Washington. Predictably, however, the neocons are using the attack to call for war with Iran!

Sen. Lindsay Graham, one of the few people in Washington who makes John Bolton look like a dove, Tweeted yesterday that, “It is now time for the US to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries…” Graham is the perfect embodiment of the saying, “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” No matter what the problem, for Graham the solution is war.

Likewise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who is supposed to represent US diplomacy – jumped to blame Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia, Tweeting that, “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” Of course, he provided no evidence even as the Houthis themselves took responsibility for the bombing.

What is remarkable is that all of Washington’s warmongers are ready for war over what is actually a retaliatory strike by a country that is the victim of Saudi aggression, not the aggressor itself. Yemen did not attack Saudi Arabia in 2015. It was the other way around. If you start a war and the other country fights back, you should not be entitled to complain about how unfair the whole thing is.

The establishment reaction to the Yemeni oilfield strike reminds me of a hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee just before the US launched the 2003 Iraq war. As I was arguing against the authorization for that war, I pointed out that Iraq had never attacked the United States. One of my colleagues stopped me in mid-sentence, saying, “let me remind the gentleman that the Iraqis have been shooting at our planes for years.” True, but those planes were bombing Iraq!

The neocons want a US war on Iran at any cost. They may feel temporarily at a disadvantage with the departure of their ally in the Trump Administration, John Bolton. However, the sad truth is that there are plenty more John Boltons in the Administration. And they have allies in the Lindsay Grahams in Congress.

Yemen has demonstrated that it can fight back against Saudi aggression. The only sensible way forward is for a rapid end to this four-year travesty, and the Saudis would be wise to wake up to the mess they’ve created for themselves. Whatever the case, US participation in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen must end immediately and neocon lies about Iran’s role in the war must be refuted and resisted.

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 4 Comments

Winners and losers from Saudi Aramco’s travails

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 16, 2019

The US President Donald Trump’s tweet Sunday regarding the attack on two Saudi Aramco plants says as follows:

“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

It’s a cleverly-worded tweet with multiple audiences in view. Trump took time to react. And he’s stopped short of blaming Iran. The US lacks hard evidence. Therefore, “verification” is needed and it is Riyadh’s call to estimate “the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed.”

Trump boasted that the US is “locked and loaded” to go to Saudi Arabia’s aid. Yet, only the previous day, when Trump telephoned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the latter had “underscored the Kingdom’s willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences.”

In fact, this has become the Saudi refrain — that it is within Saudi capability to handle the crisis. During a phone call from UAE Crown Prince condemning the drone attacks, MbS stressed that “the Kingdom has the ability to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression.” King Salman also told the Emir of Kuwait that “the Kingdom has the ability to confront such terrorist attack and deal with its fallout.”

None of the regional states — Egypt, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Turkey, etc. — or any foreign power has blamed Iran for staging the drone attacks on the Saudi Aramco plants. That leaves US states secretary Mike Pompeo as the solitary exception.

Interestingly, MbS received the Russian ambassador Sergei Kozlov for a one-on-one Sunday. No details have been divulged; the Saudi readout merely said, but highlighted that “a number of issues of mutual concern to the two friendly countries were discussed.”

Of course, the Russian interest lies in de-escalating regional tensions and Moscow and Tehran are in close touch. President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani later today on the sidelines of the trilateral summit in Turkey of the Astana troika. Putin is also due to visit Saudi Arabia in October.

However, it is improbable that Saudis would want US to get involved. The trust deficit is palpable. (The Trump administration has decided to reveal the identity of the Saudi official who allegedly helped the 9/11 terrorists.)

The Saudi confidence in the US’ grit and commitment to stand by Saudi Arabia’s defence when the crunch time comes is shaky. Riyadh’s clout in the Washington Beltway has significantly diminished, especially after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The mood in the US Congress is hostile.

Again, there are highly sensitive aspects, which Riyadh would want to handle by itself. The Houthis claim to have had “intelligence and cooperation” from within Saudi Arabia for staging the drone attacks. If so, Houthis have contacts inside Saudi Arabia’s eastern province where the Shi’ite majority is agitating for empowerment and autonomy.

Riyadh will want to dig deep, but by itself without the CIA holding searchlights — since this ultimately concerns the Kingdom’s internal security and unity and the destiny of the royal family.

Saturday’s attacks have shown that Saudi defence is highly vulnerable. Any escalation by the US may lead to military confrontation with Iran and is fraught with the grave danger of the destruction of the Kingdom.

The UAE (and other GCC states) would also be averse to any further escalation. In the recent weeks, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made overtures toward Iran aimed tamping down tensions.

Yet another wrinkle is that differences have appeared between the Saudis and Emiratis over Yemen, with the latter projecting power in southern Yemen through proxy militia groups, undercutting the government headed by Mansur Hadi (whom Riyadh mentors.)

Over and above, Aramco’s IPO now hangs by a thread — and the Saudi Crown Prince’s Vision 300 programme to restructure the country’s economy and initiate much-needed reforms loses traction.

Saturday’s events have shown that the roof will come down on the world economy if any regional conflagration erupts leading to destruction of the petrodollar states. Brent Crude jumped 20% higher Sunday night.

If the Saudi outage could last for months, as seems likely, expect the Brent onslaught to continue until the price hits $80, and keeps moving higher. Suffice to say, Iran’s threat that it won’t be the only loser in a military confrontation with the US must be taken very seriously. The IRGC has reiterated this on Sunday.

In sum, the US has run out of options on Iran. If the intention behind Trump’s tweet is to unnerve Tehran and compel it to agree to a meeting between him and Rouhani in New York, that is sheer naivety. Nonetheless, the chances are there that a Trump-Rouhani meeting is likely.

Tehran never misses an opportunity to highlight that: a) it can be a factor of stability in the Persian Gulf; and, b) regional security is best handled by the regional states exclusively, through dialogue.

Rouhani’s first detailed remarks Sunday on these lines are significant. Some sort of contacts between and amongst Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Iran cannot be ruled out.

The bottom line is that the Saudis and Emiratis egged on Trump to take to the path of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran, but as they look down the abyss today, they don’t like what they’re seeing.    

The Houthis have been behind a number of assaults on Saudi pipelines, vessels and other energy infrastructure. A Houthi spokesperson explained, “We promise the Saudi regime that our future operations will expand and be more painful as long as its aggression and siege continue.” The focus should be on winding down the war in Yemen, where it becomes crucial for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to engage with Tehran.

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran Was Ready to Attack US Bases in Case of Retaliation after US Drone Downing, Says IRGC General

By Nader Talebzadeh | American Herald Tribune | September 15, 2019

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the aerospace unit of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), says Iran was ready to attack US bases in the region if the country tried to retaliate after Iran downed its intruding spy drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

“As was mentioned in previous interviews, if they wanted to attack, we would have attacked US bases with missiles, and we were ready, and we would have targeted the US base in al-Udeid in Qatar or al-Dhafra in the Emirates or their ships in the Gulf of Oman or Arabian Sea, and if they had hit us, we would have hit them back,” General Hajizadeh said in an interview with the Nader’s Show, hosted by Nader Talebzadeh.

During the interview, General Hajizadeh answered some questions from former CIA officer Phillip Giraldi, journalist and author Pepe Escobar and former Pentagon officer and political analyst Michael Maloof.

“Of course, they knew and had intelligence and were aware of the consequences of that eventuality,” he said. “But if that incident had occurred, the conflict would have continued and intensified.”

US busy spying 12,000 kilometers away from own borders: Hajizadeh

He pointed out that the US presence in the Middle East is not justified.

“If we take a look at the map of the world, if free-thinking people around the world and in America take a look, they will see that the distance between Iran and the United States is around 12,000 kilometers. Twelve thousand kilometers between us and America, and America has covered this distance and has come close to our borders, it builds bases and is busy spying,” he remarked.

In other words, the general continued, the issue of America’s security is not necessarily relevant to this region, and if a nation wants to defend itself it can invest in its neighboring area, but “12,000 kilometers away” cannot be viewed seriously.

“Their numerous spy planes are busy flying around outside of Iran’s borders and everybody knows that their intelligence activities and collection with manned or unmanned planes is of a significant magnitude,” Hajizadeh said, adding, “In this recent incident, we actually defended ourselves. The MQ-4C, an advanced US spy plane, entered into Iranian airspace. Yes, it is correct, it only entered into [Iran] a few kilometers, but in any case, we don’t tolerate even a few meters.”

He emphasized that his forces warned the US drone four times before shooting it down “but they did not pay any attention.”

The top Iranian general noted that the IRGC forces could also shoot down an American P8 spy plane, which had a crew of approximately 35, but decided not to do that.

Hajizadeh said the US has no reason to build military bases in the Middle East and will be driven out of the region inevitably, because “we in the region witnessed nothing but insecurity and enmity so far.”

He stated that the US spends American taxpayers’ money in a “very destructive” way in the region. “We witness civil war in Afghanistan, mass killings occurred in Iraq in these years, insecurity in the region, disease, environmental destruction. With this money that has been spent by the Americans, militant groups like Daesh (ISIS) and al-Qaeda were created. People around the world have now realized that America has spent this money and is now supporting Saudi Arabia whose crown prince murdered [journalist Jamal] Khashoggi.”

‘Would Americans tolerate if we sent our drones to their coasts?’

The IRGC general asked the American people what their reactions would be if Iran sent its drones along the US coasts. “In other words, if we send our drones and began doing these things, would the US tolerate it? Naturally, they wouldn’t tolerate it.”

He also rejected US President Donald Trump’s claim that the US had been “cocked and loaded” to retaliate against Iran but he decided to call off the mission.

“Well, let me say that this is not true,” said General Hajizadeh, adding, “This is contrary to reality. Look, it’s possible that within the US military, among politicians’ discussions might have occurred, but they didn’t reach that decision. Why? Because we defended ourselves and downed the US spy drone. With what excuse did they want to attack?”

General Hajizadeh: Nobody wants war or conflict

The chief of the IRGC aerospace unit also said one of the things that “we and the Americans have in common is that nobody wants war or conflict, but if an unintentional conflict occurs, it is possible that it results in a war.”

“Because of the tensions and the sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg,” he cautioned. “When these contacts become too close, when forces come in contact with one another, it is possible that a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding.”

“In other words, it’s possible that the leaders in Iran and in the US do not want war, but the forces and troops that are in contact with one another in the region enter into an unintentional war. So, logic dictates that America keeps its distance.”

Asked by Mr. Maloof about the decision-making process of downing the American drone and whether it was ordered at the highest levels, General Hajizadeh said Iranian forces at any level have specific directives on how to act in different circumstances.

“Look, we have directives that we issue to our units,” he explained. “For example, we specify that if a plane in these circumstances, with these conditions, is closing in within a certain distance, you give a warning. But if it goes beyond certain conditions, you confront and shoot it down.”

Defensive units possess higher authority compared to offensive units, says Hajizadeh

“Naturally, we have sets of authorities at various levels of the Guards, some at the command level and some at the unit level at the borders. In other words, they have a set of authorities. For example, it could be that launching a missile requires higher level authority, which is the case everywhere around the world. If for example, an airplane wants to bomb a location, a decision has to be taken. However, on matters of defense and air defense, it could be that a junior officer manning his post, when he identifies a situation and discovers something and sees that it is not a friendly force, has the duty to confront. He has this directive.”

He further explained that offensive units require authority at higher levels compared to defensive units, in which authority is granted to lower levels.

Hajizadi continued, “For instance, I’m the commander of the Aerospace Force, and I was informed only after the drone was targeted and downed. It was not the case that I was informed previously and it wasn’t the case that I stayed up and was ready to give orders. No, those units are at the border and decide themselves and have authority.”

The general noted that a similar incident occurred a few years ago, when Iranian forces shot down an Israeli spy plane which was over Natanz in the central part of the country, emphasizing, “There as well, they had the authority because it had entered their area. Naturally, they confronted it and downed it.”

Asked whether his forces identified the intruding American drone before they shot it down, Hajizadeh said, “Yes. The units in the area identified the aircraft. The difference between the Global Hawk RQ4 and the MQ4 is very slight, and the units there identified it but the units that publicized it didn’t make that distinction, but after it was downed, the precise model was established. And after it was downed and they informed me, they informed me that it was a MQ-4 drone, a very large spy aircraft.”

‘Probability of a US retaliation was very low’

Hajizadeh argued that the probability of a US response was very low after the incident “because we had warned them four times, we didn’t do it over their base, we did it over our space.”

Considering the fact that Iran was capable of targeting the P-8 but refrained from doing so, the Americans understood that it was a warning to the US, the Iranian commander said.

“Yes, it is true that they lost a very large aircraft, but nobody was killed and this was a warning that Mr. Trump also acknowledged and thanked us for choosing to [only] strike the unmanned aircraft,” he added.

He reiterated that the incident could have easily turned into a war should the Americans decided to retaliate.

Asked by Mr. Escobar whether the 3rd Khordad air defense system and its parts were produced domestically, General Hajizadeh said “We have been under an arms embargo for the last 40 years, including the eight years of the war and the last 30 years as well. We haven’t been able to buy anything from the world to bring here.”

He said Iran is even banned from purchasing automotive spare parts, and that France and some other countries with which Iran has contracts, don’t deliver automotive spare parts to the Islamic Republic.

The same goes for aircraft parts and even in very trivial things we are sanctioned, he said.

“So naturally, the import sector for weapons is very limited and we didn’t have many options. Over these years we couldn’t even import simple things like radars which every country needs for its defense. We can’t attack anybody with that radar, but it can detect if an aircraft is passing or not, and even this they wouldn’t sell to us and this had dire consequences.”

Sanctions made Iran self-sufficient: IRGC aerospace unit chief

The general highlighted that Iran became self-sufficient as a result of the sanctions which inflicted heavy losses on Iran, especially during the eight-year war which was imposed by Iraq.

Noting that Iran’s military achievements are incredible, Hajizadeh said, “Our domestic systems are not just one or two examples. Thousands of weapons systems are manufactured domestically and this would be impossible with imports and bringing things from abroad. We are self-sufficient and our dynamism will continue.”

Asked by Mr. Maloof if a conflict between Iran and the US-backed terrorist groups such as ISIS is on the horizon, General Hajizadeh said “Look, we’ve been fighting them in the last seven-eight years now, in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even in Iran and now we are continuing to fight with their remnants and the vast majority of them have been destroyed and they scattered around the region.”

“We know that they are being supported by America and at various times during the conflicts they conducted airdrops for them, supplied them, transported their commanders and they supported them. They would smuggle Iraqi oil under US protection and they would sell the crude oil. They are being supported by America and in Afghanistan this is also the case.”

“But the fighting is not going to be larger than the fighting that happened in the past and the majority of them have been eradicated and destroyed,” he added.

‘U.S. leaders, commanders not having the will for a war’

Asked Mr. Giraldi about the possibility of an Iran-US conflict, the IRGC general said, “We do not see the American military or the American political leaders having the will for a war. But all of this comes down to a decision and ultimately, it’s possible that a decision will be taken in the future.”

He went on to say, “We do not see such situation in America, US bases, the state of the US military or the morale of American officers and soldiers being on that level. But we ourselves have a duty, and with the management of the Supreme Leader, we always view the future with skepticism and we say that a big war will occur. That is, in the military we are always preparing ourselves for a war.”

“In other words, if a rational nation wants to avoid war, it has no option but to prepare itself for war,” he argued. “Therefore, it’s on this basis that we are permanently preparing ourselves, developing our capabilities, and fulfilling our intelligence and operational duties.”

General Hajizadeh also stressed that the possibility of an incident or misunderstanding which could lead to a war is higher than a pre-planned war.

Mr. Escobar asked what is the key message that the IRGC wants to American officials and more importantly global public opinion to be aware of, to which Hajizadeh responded, “We don’t have much to say to American officials because American officials are not committed to anything nor do they have any firm beliefs, nor are they concerned about the American people nor do they care about the people of the region.”

Hajizadeh: Zionists determine U.S. policies, actions

“They care about the one percent rich people in America and we believe that the American people are captives of the politicians and rulers who constitute a tiny minority who themselves are captives of the Zionists,” he noted.

“It’s the Zionists that determine who the president of the United States will be and it’s them who determine his policies and actions,” the general added.

He said America’s power is declining because of the pervasive corruption of its rulers, who “support a murderer and because of the Saudi money they are supporting Daesh and al-Qaeda which developed with the support of this same Saudi Arabia. They have really fallen and declined morally.”

According to a new report, US Army soldiers are being exposed to a deck of playing cards depicting Iranian weaponry to get a better sense of Iran’s weapons stockpile. General Hajizadeh was asked to comment on the report. He said the American troops really know and understand and they are making fun of their own officials.

“We monitor their tweets, they curse their own officials, nasty curses,” he said.

“Just imagine a few thousand people have to bear the circumstances of being on the sea for months. For rest and recreation, they take them to a barren and dry place. They are really under pressure and the troops can’t really fight with this morale.”

“I also want to say something so that the whole world hears this,” the general continued. “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we can target all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 km and we are constantly monitoring them.”

Iran of today not comparable to Iran of 30 years ago: Hajizadeh

Hajizadeh noted that the Iran of today is not the Iran of 30 years ago, when an aircraft would fly to the center of the country like in the Tabas incident, and Iran didn’t have the equipment, the radar and the air defense systems to respond.

“They shot down our Airbus passenger plane with 290 people on board and we couldn’t respond, he said, adding, “But today it is very different. Today we are powerful and our response will be very powerful and crushing.”

Asked to comment on the impact of Iran on the defensive power of the region, General Hajizadeh said, “According to Islamic teachings, we must help Muslims around the world. If in Palestine, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Yemen they (Muslims) are being attacked by enemies that are being supported by America and European countries, it is our duty to support them to the best of our abilities and to stand with the Resistance Front.”

The general said Iran will definitely help Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, etc. in spite of the blockades and restrictions that exist.

While concluding his remarks, the Iranian commander said, “It’s not like in the past when they were alone… We are definitely interrelated and are standing beside each other and the era of hit-and-run is over. We will not allow them to oppress us and we stand united against America.”

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Houthis strike at Saudi Arabia’s throbbing heart

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 15, 2019

A terrible beauty is born on the Middle East’s strategic landscape with the massive drone attacks Saturday on two Saudi Aramco refineries. Saudi Arabia, which has a record of sponsoring terrorist groups to destabilise foreign lands — Afghanistan, Chechnya, United States, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, etc. —   has become a victim of terrorism, finally. There is natural justice here, one may say. Saturday’s attacks trigger geopolitical convulsions.

The Saudi defence ministry could not thwart the attacks despite the advanced weapon systems in its inventory costing hundreds of billions of dollars. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia was ranked third in military spending in 2018, below the US and China, with an expenditure of $67.6 billion (alongside India — $66.5 billion).

Evidently, the massive scale of defence expenditure did not ensure national defence, since the Kingdom’s main threat today is not one of external aggression but of blowback ensuing from flawed policies, internal or external. The Patriot missiles deployed in Saudi Arabia could not thwart Saturday’s attacks. Yemen’s Houthi movement who claimed responsibility disclosed that 10 drones were used to target the Aramco refineries at Abqaiq and Khurais.

The Houthi military spokesman said, “This was one of the largest operations which our forces have carried out deep inside Saudi Arabia. It came after careful intelligence and cooperation with honourable and free people inside Saudi Arabia.” The two oil facilities targeted are located in Saudi Arabia’s Shi’ite majority eastern province, which is a restive region.

Without doubt, the Houthis have messaged that Riyadh, having lost the war in Yemen, should cease its continuing interference and leave it to the Yemeni factions to sort out their civil war.

The ball is now in the Saudi-Emirati court. The Houthis claim to have over 200 major Saudi targets in its crosshairs. They have also separately warned the UAE that there’s going to be retribution.

US President Donald Trump spoke to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) on the phone. The Saudi readout said Trump “reasserted” Washington’s “readiness to cooperate” with Riyadh “by all means conducive to maintain its (Saudi) security and stability, reaffirming the negative effects of the attacks (on two Aramco’s facilities) on the US economy as well as the world economy”, while MbS “underscored” on his part the Saudi “willingness and strength to thwart such a terrorist aggression and deal with its consequences.”

Neither Trump nor MbS accused any party for staging the attacks. Similarly, a statement by the Official Spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said that “investigations are ongoing to determine the parties responsible for planning and executing these terrorist attacks.”

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tweeted —“Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” It must be taken as a personal opinion or a knee-jerk reaction. Clearly, utmost care is being taken in Riyadh and Washington not to create alarm in the oil market.

Saudi Arabia has promised to replace any shortfall from its existing stocks. Nonetheless, considering that the attacks have disrupted half of Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity or 5.7 million barrels a day of crude oil and gas production (equivalent to 5% of daily global oil supply), the oil market will remain jittery and the stock markets across the Gulf have plunged.

Saturday’s attack deals a heavy blow to MbS’ plans to go public on the Aramco IPO. Aramco’s debut international bond sale in April has been a big success. In a move to give transparency, Saudis also recently commissioned an independent audit of the country’s oil reserves and have started publishing earnings. Over the past two weeks, MbS took direct control of Aramco by appointing a hand-picked as chairman who is close to him. The energy minister also has been replaced.

In political terms, the war in Yemen and the Saudi Aramco’s ambitious restructuring are directly attributable to MbS and, therefore, any setback in these two arenas becomes a reflection on his decision-making and leadership. This has implications for MbS’s political standing as well as the trajectory of Saudi policies.

The Trump administration gets an opportunity to prevail upon the Saudis to end the war in Yemen, which is also what the US Congress has recommended. Washington has opened direct contacts with the Houthis. Therefore, the likelihood that Saturday’s attacks may prompt a Saudi rethink on the war in Yemen cannot be brushed aside.

Indeed, the tide in regional politics and the regional balance has turned against the Saudis lately, given the unraveling of the US-led maximum pressure approach toward Iran and Trump’s keenness to engage with the leadership in Tehran. The politico-military defeat in Syria and Yemen, the break-up with Qatar and the marginalisation in the US-Taliban talks have exposed that Saudi Arabia’s imperial overstretch is unsustainable and in turn put serious limits to Riyadh’s regional influence.

Over and above, the Kingdom is in historic transition at multiple levels — political, economic and social — and reforms cannot be postponed much longer. On the other hand, the steady US retrenchment in the region creates a backdrop of huge uncertainties for Saudi Arabia’s future. It’s at a tumultuous juncture that the Houthis have struck at Aramco, the throbbing heart of Saudi Arabia with a net income of $111.1 billion in 2018.

September 15, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi crown prince meets with Zionist Christian delegation in Jeddah

Press TV – September 13, 2019

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, otherwise known as MbS, has met with an influential pro-Israel delegation of American evangelical Christians in Jeddah.

Photos of the meeting, which was attended by leading American Christian Zionist leaders, including dual US-Israeli national Joel Rosenberg, were published by the Saudi government.

The nine-person delegation of the evangelical Christians also included the Rev. Johnnie Moore, a co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Council; Larry Ross, a former longtime spokesman for one of America’s most well-known evangelicals Billy Graham; and Pastor Skip Heitzig, whose Calvary Albuquerque church in New Mexico has more than 15,000 congregants.

A statement later released by the delegation said its members were grateful to have deepening relationships in Saudi Arabia “to talk openly, if sometimes privately, about what we believe must change in the kingdom even as we celebrate the kingdom’s progress in so many other areas.”

The talks are particularly significant since Riyadh is trying to forge closer ties with an influential electoral base in the US that could be crucial to the 2020 US presidential elections.

The meeting marked the second such visit by American evangelicals, known for their deep-rooted Islamophobia, to the kingdom. The same delegation had met with bin Salman in Riyadh back in November 2018 in line with Saudi Arabia’s growing ties with Tel Aviv.

Many evangelicals in the US support Israel as a core part of their faith.

Bin Salman’s Tuesday meeting with the Zionist delegation was held on the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people and caused about $10 billion worth of property and infrastructure damage.

US officials assert that the attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon, but many experts have raised questions about the official account.

They believe that rogue elements within the US government, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, orchestrated or at least encouraged the 9/11 attacks in order to accelerate the US war machine and advance the Zionist agenda.

On Thursday, US prosecutors announced that the US Justice Department will reveal the name of an individual believed to be connected to the Saudi government and accused of aiding two of the 9/11 hijackers, in response to a long-running lawsuit which seeks to link the Saudi Arabian government with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The person’s identity will remain a closely guarded secret for now, though it will be shared with attorneys representing the families of victims of the attacks who have alleged the government of Saudi Arabia helped to coordinate the terrorists in a lawsuit, CNN reported.

The long-standing lawsuit also revealed sensational details, accusing special Counsel Robert Mueller of helping the Saudis cover up their role in the 9/11 attacks.

Mueller, who was appointed FBI director by former President George W. Bush two months prior to the attack, is accused of obstructing and putting road-blocks in front of his own officers investigating the Saudi connection during the critical few months following the attack.

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel Directing Policy Through US Treasury: Sanctioning Hezbollah’s Political Allies in Lebanon

By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire | September 12, 2019

Nearly three years into the Trump administration, one thing is clear: as it struggles to wage any new direct shooting or proxy wars, Washington has instead relied on economic warfare against its perceived enemies, and largely on behalf of the state of Israel.

Through the U.S. Treasury Department and its own openly pro-Israel agents of influence, namely Secretary Steve Mnuchin, along with his Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal P. Mandelker, Israel has been able to attack and undermine all of its own geopolitical enemies and region rivals. The chief mechanism for achieving this is by directing the US government to label any person, politician or state agency – as a “terrorist,” or as a terrorist entity, thus allowing the US government to apply sanctions against any person or entity which Israel designates as its enemy, or even potential enemy. As a result of this runaway policy, the list of sanctioned persons and organisations by the Trump administration is the most in history.

Firmly in its crosshairs is Lebanon’s well-established political and military wings of the Hezbollah organisation. There is a fundamental flaw in the West’s framing of Hezbollah though, starting with its origins. It is a fact of history that Hezbollah was born out of Israel’s illegal occupation of southern Lebanon. Had Israel not invaded and occupied this region, or prosecuted its long and violent military campaign during and after the Lebanese Civil War, then it’s possible the Hezbollah movement may never had formed. It was born out of Israel’s occupation. Indeed, Iran has been traditional supporter of the group – which has drawn the ire of Washington and Tel Aviv who view both Iran and Hezbollah as a joint obstacle to US-Israeli strategic security objectives in the Middle East. In order to elevate Hezbollah to ‘most targeted status,’ US officials have had to repeatedly fabricate claims that Hezbollah is acting as major global terrorist organisation. In the same breath, US officials, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will enthusiastically drift out the well-worn fable that ‘Iran is the world’s number state-sponsor of terror’.

Earlier this year, the US also announced that henceforth, Iran’s leading military divisions, the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Quds Force – would now be designated as a “terrorist organisation.” The cold irony of course, is that Hezbollah militias are presently fighting (and defeating) actual terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda and ISIS (both of who have been created, as well as armed and financed by numerous western and gulf states, including the United States) in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Since 2013, Hezbollah militia have played a pivotal role in ejecting al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists from their enclaves in Syria, thus thwarting the regime change objectives of US, UK, France, NATO member states, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and also Israel too. Likewise for IRGC and Quds special military advisors deployed in Iraq and Syria to help subdue the invading terrorist brigades. The same is true for Iranian-backed militias in Iraq like the Hash’d Shaabi (People’s Mobilization Units), predominantly Shia, who were pivotal in Iraq’s ultimate victory over ISIS in 2017. Veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn summed it up when he concluded that the greatest threat to building peace in Iraq was not ISIS, but rather, Donald Trump determined to pick a fight with Iran. Documentation on the number of casualties is still difficult to determine, but on the aggregate, between Hezbollah, Hash’d, Iranian forces, the losses sustained in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda number in the tens of thousands – and likely far more than the combined US soldier death tolls in 18 year-long War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Regardless of general western ignorance of what has actually transpired in Syria since 2011, and in Iraq since 2014, the people who actually live in the Middle East know the severity of this largely foreign-backed terrorist usurpation.

Regardless of the facts on the ground, neconservatives and war hawks in the Beltway are still happily pressing ahead with their policies. With Tel Aviv carefully leading from behind, Washington has successfully pressured many of its allies to obey its geopolitical dictates, with the UK, Argentina and Paraguay all falling into line this year by designating Hezbollah – both its political and military wings – as a terrorist organisation, as well as pressuring Brazil to follow suit.

Of deeper concern for Washington though, is that Hezbollah is defending Lebanon’s borders from what is undoubtedly the region’s most prolific aggressor – Israel. In just the last few weeks, Israel has attacked no less than 4 of its neighbours, including unprovoked military strikes against Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and of against Palestinians living under illegal Israeli occupation in Gaza. Hezbollah also poses another threat to Israeli hegemony in the region because of its unflagging support for Palestinian resistance against Israel’s violent occupation and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people. Similarly, the Islamic Republic of Iran also supports the Palestinian resistance cause, which is also a predicate for Israel’s various and sundry fabricated claims about a ‘secret Iranian nuclear arsenal,’ and imagined conspiracy that ‘Iran is occupying Syria’ – all of which are designed to garner leverage in Washington whereby US officials can view Hezbollah an accomplice to “Iran’s threat world peace.” This is the sort of geopolitical gymnastics which Israel is attempting to perform on a daily basis in order to justify the longest-running, most brutal and inhumane apartheid regimes in modern history – being waged against Palestinians and Arabs in the Middle East.

Targeting Hezbollah’s Political Allies

Still, Washington insists on basing its international relations on these numerous fabricated claims about Iran and Hezbollah drafted by Israel’s J Street lobbyists and the Prime Minister’s office in Tel Aviv. Now the Trump administration is taking this method a step further by threatening to sanction any political allies of Hezbollah in Lebanon. With military options practically off the table, this is the only remaining option for Washington and Tel Aviv to try and undermine Hezbollah which is now a political force in Lebanese politics, forming a working majority in the Lebanese Parliament along with its allies, as well as holding key ministerial and cabinet positions. But will it work?

Future Sanctions Will ‘Absolutely’ Target Hezbollah Allies in Lebanon: US Envoy

Al-Manar – September 13, 2019

US envoy said on Thursday that future sanctions could target allies of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“In the future we will designate, because we have to, individuals in Lebanon who are aiding and assisting Hezbollah, regardless of their sect or religion,” the new US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, David Schenker, said in an interview with local LBCI television.

When asked by the interviewer if this means sanctions will target allies of Hezbollah, Schenker said “absolutely,” adding that the US is constantly reviewing its sanctions lists.

Earlier on Tuesday, US State Department announced it has issued sanctions against four alleged Hezbollah members, Ali Karakeh, Mohammad Haydar, Ibrahim Aqil and Fouad Shukr.

The administration of Presdient Donald Trump has ramped up sanctions on Hezbollah and other resistance groups since the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

Last month, the US Treasury slapped sanctions on the Lebanese Jammal Trust Bank, claiming the bank “brazenly enabling” Hezbollah’s financial activities. And in June, the Treasury took the unprecedented step of sanctioning two sitting Hezbollah MPs, Amin Sharri and Mohammad Raad, alongside security head Wafiq Safa.

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

UN slams US and allied forces for war crimes & civilian targeting in Syria

RT | September 13, 2019

The UN Commission of Inquiry slammed war crimes committed against civilians in Syria by US and allied forces, in a new report that describes how nine years of war has left some parts of the nation “near complete destruction.”

Civilians continue to “bear the brunt of hostilities” at the hands of all parties in the conflict, declares the report by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, published on Wednesday. However, it singles out the US-led international coalition for repeated and indiscriminate targeting of non-combatants.

“International coalition forces failed to employ the necessary precautions to discriminate adequately between military objectives and civilians,” the report states, warning that “launching indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amounts to a war crime in cases where such attacks are conducted recklessly.”

US and allied forces are blamed for “widespread destruction of towns and villages in [Deir ez-Zor] Governorate” and the resulting displacement of thousands, many of whom ended up in the notorious Al-Hol camp, where disease and abysmal conditions reign.

In addition to failing to take precautions to minimize harm to civilians, the report cites the “dire humanitarian conditions” suffered by populations caught between the “widespread corruption, extortion, lack of services and security, and abuse of power” by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the remnants of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group, as well as other groups like the Levant Liberation Organization (also known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an Al-Qaeda affiliate), which it accuses of deliberately terrorizing populations living under Syrian government control.

While Syrian government forces are also criticized for their choice of targets, accused of attacking medical facilities and other protected civilian infrastructure in Idlib, and failing to respect a demilitarized zone drawn up with Russia and Turkey, the US remains an uninvited guest in Syria, adding insult to the injuries inflicted by its military.

Another UN body, the Human Rights Commission, released a report last week eviscerating the US, UK, and France for their part in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where a Saudi Arabia-led coalition has been fighting local forces since 2015. The UN HRC declared that aiding and abetting a war crime – by selling weapons a nation knows will be used in the commission of atrocities – is also a war crime.

September 13, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments