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Oman rejects claims it’s establishing diplomatic relations with Israel

Press TV – July 2, 2019

Oman has dismissed as “baseless” Israel’s claims that the Persian Gulf sultanate is establishing diplomatic ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

In a statement published on its official Twitter page on Tuesday, the Omani Foreign Ministry reacted to comments by the head of the Mossad intelligence service, who had said a day earlier Israel was renewing ties with Oman.

“The Sultanate is keen to exert all efforts to create favorable diplomatic conditions to restore contacts between all international and regional parties to work towards achieving peace between the Palestinian Authority and … Israel, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,” the Omani Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

The Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, had claimed at the Herzliya Conference on Monday that, “Just recently, renewal of formal relations with Oman was declared and the establishment of a representative office of the foreign ministry in that country.”

“That is only the visible tip of a much broader secret effort,” he added. “We do not yet have with them (Arab states) official peace treaties but there is already a communality of interests, broad cooperation and open channels of communication.”

Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states that have diplomatic ties with Israel. However, reports have indicated that several of them, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have had secret relations with Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late November last year visited Oman, where he met Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said at the Bait al-Barakah Royal Palace in the coastal city of Seeb near the capital Muscat.

The Jerusalem Post daily newspaper reported that the two men had discussed ways to advance the so-called Middle East peace process as well as other matters of mutual interest.

The Omani Foreign Ministry announced on June 26 that it will open an embassy in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The decision was made “in continuation of the sultanate’s support for the Palestinian people,” it said.

“A delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will travel to Ramallah to initiate the opening of the embassy,” the foreign ministry noted, without providing further details.

July 2, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Oman – Not Like the Rest of the Gulf

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By Andre Vltchek – New Eastern Outlook – 20.05.2019

Everyone who visits this once ‘hermit Sultanate’ could easily testify: Oman is ‘different’ from the other countries of the Gulf Region. Its people are warm, talkative and proud. Despite the fact that Oman is poorer than Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, it actually feels richer, because there is no extreme misery there; the citizens are clearly well taken care of.

While in Saudi Arabia, during Ramadhan, outrageous orgies of wasting food and vulgar wealth-flashing are performed on a daily basis; Oman is quietly trying to save children in neighboring Yemen instead.

An airport employee, Muhammad, explained to me:

“My country is habitually sending two flights per week to neighboring Yemen. During Ramadhan, the frequency increases. Our airplanes bring gravely injured and very sick men, women and children to Oman. Here, they get first rate and free medical treatment. Our doctors are trying to save their lives, as if they were our own people. Yemeni people are our brothers.”

This is quite shocking, considering that the militantly anti-Shia regime that is Saudi Arabia (KSA) is actually bombing big parts of Yemen back to the Stone Age, while an Omani neighbor – the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – is occupying the coastal area of Yemen, including its most important port of Aden.

The Syrians also have plenty of good things to say about Oman. I have heard praise all over the country.

In turn, the Syrian government is generally admired by Omani people; not by all, but definitely by the majority. Oman has always maintained diplomatic relations with Damascus, and never joined any coalition that has been trying to destabilize or to overthrow the legitimate Syrian administration. All this is in sharp contrast to Qatar and Saudi Arabia – countries that have been, for years, on behalf of the West and Israel, injecting and then supporting various terrorist organizations that have been brutalizing millions of Syrian citizens.

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Oman does not have any US or EU military bases on its territory. It does not need them. It is not at war with anybody, and it is not trying to overthrow any regional governments. Hosting strategic bombers, US Navy ships, and ‘Central Commands’ are not how Oman’s rulers want to guarantee their country’s prosperity.

Instead, there is a magnificent opera house near the coast in Muscat, and right next to it, a lavish public palace dedicated to the arts. Despite the proximity of some luxury 5-star hotels, the beach remains public. The Ruler of Oman apparently loves music and the arts. A shocking contrast to places such as Saudi Arabia, where the arts and music are discouraged, or out rightly banned; considered ‘haram’.

I spoke to Omani people, and they appear to be satisfied with their lives, and with the direction in which their country is evolving.

I stopped a group of men (Sunni Muslims), leaving a mosque, and asked them about the Sunni and Shia divide, as well as their feelings towards Iran, which is presently facing an imminent threat from the United States.

The Shia, they replied, “are our brothers”:

“Here, it is nothing like in Saudi Arabia where they kill Shia Muslims. Nothing like in Bahrain, where most of people are Shia, but are treated with horrible spite, often having to live in total misery. We don’t differentiate and do not discriminate against Shia. In Oman, we inter-marry, and it is not a big deal. Sometimes we break the fast together, and we bring gifts to each other. We help our neighbors, when they are in trouble, and it matters nothing whether they are Sunni or Shia.”

Almost everybody here feels great sympathy for Iran and its people.

My driver has travelled to Teheran and Shiraz on nine occasions. He admires Iran’s culture, as well as the kindness and determination of the Iranian people. He strongly believes that they have the full right to live their own lives, free from the illegal sanctions imposed on them by Washington.

A group of worshippers, also expressed great admiration for Syria and its government, and then of the two countries that are now, apparently, reshaping the world:

“Without Russia and China, the United States and its allies would have already swallowed us all.”

Their support for the Palestinians, and their outrage over the Israeli actions and apartheid, appears to be genuine, not hypocritical or ‘theoretical’, as it is in the rest of the Gulf.

I have always felt comfortable here, even during my previous visits, but this time, in the era of global madness that is being spread by the West, I felt greatly impressed by the wisdom, kindness and civility of this ‘forgotten Sultanate’, which possesses a big heart and an impressive understanding of the global situation.

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It is not that Oman has been always such a gentle and considerate nation. In the past, its Muslim warriors, colonized and plundered the east coast of Africa, from Somalia to what is now Kenya, and all the way down to Tanzania. Like the Europeans, Omanis practiced the slave trade.

But things changed, and eventually, Oman turned into an introverted nation, and stayed as such for many decades. Then, when it began “opening up to the world”, it did it on its own terms, without becoming subordinate to foreign interests.

While Oman’s Duqm Port is now theoretically “open” to British ships, Oman is not hosting any permanent US military bases, like those located all around Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Oman is maintaining a very close relationship with Iran, and no pressure from the West is managing to change this reality.

And while to ‘the world’ it is now opening up, it does not mean that “the world” is exclusively the West.

Sure, for my taste, there are still too many reports in the local newspapers, taken from the AFP and other Western press agencies and sources. Omani people are not immune to the ‘official narrative’ which is being injected into all the corners of the world by the West. But that is only a small part of the story. Interacting with Omani people, I realized that they are much more knowledgeable about the world than the rest of the Gulf.

What is especially significant is that China is becoming a close friend and an ally of Oman. This mutually beneficial relationship is here to stay.

My good acquaintance, a Chinese diplomat based in the Gulf, told me on condition of anonymity:

“China and Oman share a profound friendship of over 1,200 years. As early as 750 AD, a great Omani voyager Abu Obeid, made his journey to Guangzhou, China, and marked the beginning of the friendly exchanges between China and Oman, and also the exchanges between Chinese civilization and Arabic civilizations.”

Remarkably, that happened in the historic period when the West (Europe) was plundering and murdering its own people, as well as the populations of the ‘surrounding areas’.

On April 30, 2019, the Oman Observer, in an article, “Sultanate important partner in building Belt and Road”, interviewed Ms Li Lingbing, the Ambassador of China to Oman:

“Li Lingbing… stressed the Sultanate’s important role in the Belt and Road Initiative, pointing out the traditional friendly relations between the two countries, and the important role of the Sultanate on the belt and road since ancient times.

The Omani and Chinese sides announced last year the establishment of a strategic partnership and signed the Belt and Road cooperation document. Oman officially joined the circle of friends of “Belt and Road”, she said in a press conference held at the Chinese Embassy in Muscat. She noted that the Sultanate and China share a long historical heritage, adding that Oman enjoys an important geographical location and excellent ports, such as Duqm, Salalah and Sohar that have a natural advantage in participating in building the “Belt and Road”.”

It appears that Oman is one ‘sane’ nation in the middle of a region which has been colonized and usurped by the West. Oman’s rulers are more interested in the wellbeing of their people than in amassing tremendous wealth for the few, through shameless collaboration with Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.

According to Dr Hamed Alhamami, an Omani citizen and the regional director of a UN office, “Oman is a special place in the region with many divisions. We play a neutral, impartial role and mind our own business. We support countries and people in need when we can, like Yemen and Syria, on humanitarian grounds.”

Oman is no one’s colony. It is now close to China. It is close to Iran. It helps the devastated people of Yemen, and it does what it can for Syria. It keeps friendly relations with the West and with other countries in the Gulf, but it takes no dictates from anyone. It has managed to survive this way for decades.

As a result, it is liked and deeply respected by most of the people of the Middle East.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization.

May 19, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | 4 Comments

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

Manama Invites Israeli Economy Minister to Visit Bahrain

Al-Manar | November 26, 2018

The Israeli Minister of Economy, Eli Cohen received an official invitation to visit Bahrain in mid-April next year, the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation (Makan) reported Sunday evening.

Cohen will participate in the Startup Nations Ministerial conference, an international high-tech conference organized by the World Bank.

Makan said the 3-day conference will discuss ways to promote economic growth with the participation of decision makers, entrepreneurs and investors from 170 countries.

Last week, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Netanyahu will visit the Kingdom of Bahrain after having recently visited Oman.

Netanyahu and his wife Sarah visited in late October Oman and met Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Netanyahu said at the time that relations between Tel Aviv and a number of Arab countries are growing.

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Oman rejects mediating between Israelis, Palestinians

Press TV – October 27, 2018

Oman says it will not act as a “mediator” between Israelis and Palestinians, playing down an earlier visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The sultanate was only offering ideas to help Israel and Palestinians to come together, Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah told a security summit in Bahrain’s capital Manama on Saturday.

The remarks came a day after Netanyahu visited Oman in a rare visit, while accompanied by other senior Israeli officials, including the head of the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

“We are not saying road is now easy and paved with flowers, but our priority is to put an end to the conflict and move to a new world,” Reuters cited Abdullah as saying.

Despite apparently trying to sound impartial, Abdullah said Oman relied on the United States and efforts by US President Donald Trump in working towards the “deal of the century.”

The Trump administration has targeted the plan at the situation in the Palestinian territories.

Details are yet to emerge, but reports say it envisages a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty across about half of Israel-occupied West Bank and all the Gaza Strip. The deal also reportedly foresees potential disarming of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, and does not find Palestinians entitled to the eastern part of Jerusalem al-Quds as their capital.

This is while Abbas, who visited Oman before Netanyahu for three days, has renounced the plan, saying it has been devised without consulting the Palestinians. He also spurned any intermediary role by the US late last year after Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital.”

In June, however, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan assured the US of their support for the plan during visits to those countries by Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy to the region.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the Manama gathering on Saturday that the kingdom believed the key to “normalizing” relations with Israel was the “peace process.”

The Omani minister also claimed Israel was “present in the region, and we all understand this, the world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations.”

Observers say Muscat has come to accommodate the US plan under pressure from Washington and Riyadh, the strongest US ally in the Persian Gulf region, which has been inching towards Tel Aviv over the past years.

Palestinian groups, however, condemned the Israeli prime minister’s visit to Oman, urging Arab countries to support the oppressed people of Palestine, instead.

Hamas warned about the dangerous consequences of Netanyahu’s visit for the people of Palestine. The Islamic Jihad movement also censured the visit, saying Oman acquitted Netanyahu of the crimes committed against innocent Palestinians by welcoming him to the country.

Commenting on Netanyahu’s visit, Paul Larudee, with the Free Palestine Movement, told PressTV, “What in the world would Netanyahu know about peace and stability, when his objectives and objectives of Israel have always been war and instability?”

“The importance is what their objectives are not. They are not about Arab unity, not about solidarity with Arabs who are suffering namely the Palestinians,” he said.

“These other countries realize that sooner or later they are potential targets of Israel… that they can be in the same place that the Palestinians are now,” Larudee said.

October 27, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Has US-Iran conversation begun already?

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | July 29, 2018

About 4 months ago, when Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif travelled to Muscat to meet his Omani counterpart Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, I had written that something important might be brewing, since Oman was after all the intermediary that Barack Obama thoughtfully handpicked for opening a line to Tehran.

Oman handled the job with such rare aplomb that a couple of years later, later when US-Iran direct negotiations became public knowledge, the Saudis got furious with Muscat for keeping them in the dark. Oman is actually a very sophisticated practitioner of diplomacy, unlike the pompous petrodollar Gulf states that are so full of themselves, and has an independent foreign policy, although a close ally of the US.)

At any rate, news has just appeared that Alawi has paid a visit to the US where amongst others he met US Defence Secretary James Mattis. To my mind, all this probably began when Mattis visited Oman in March (in the backdrop of President Trump’s impending announcement on the US walkout from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.)

Thus, while the back-and-forth flow of rhetoric between Washington and Tehran in the recent weeks might have conveyed a sense of imminent confrontation, the reality could be very different. Indeed, when it comes to US-Iran tango, rhetoric can be deceptive – like cats in heat making strange growl.

It couldn’t have been coincidental that over the weekend, following the talks with the visiting Omani minister, Mattis made two very significant remarks regarding Iran during a Pentagon briefing for the media. In the first remark, Mattis said that beyond the stated agenda of curbing Iran’s “threatening behavior” in the Middle East, Washington is not seeking regime change in Tehran. He was specific: “We need them to change their behavior on a number of threats that they can pose with their military, with their secret services, with their surrogates and with their proxies.”

In the second remark, Mattis took on frontally any talk of the US preparing for a military strike against Iran. Pegging his remark on an Australian news report, Mattis said, “I have no idea where the Australian news people got that information. I’m confident that it’s not something that’s being considered right now, and I think it’s a complete, frankly, it’s fiction.”

Taken together, what Mattis said significantly waters down Trump’s recent threatening tweet where he challenged Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by name. Trump tweeted:

  • To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

But then, arguably, Rouhani’s earlier remark itself was misunderstood. Rouhani had said, “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” To my mind, Rouhani probably made an overture to Washington to the effect that making nice is still viable and a ‘win-win’ proposition.

Of course, Trump himself made amends the very next day, adjusting his rhetoric and suggesting that Washington is ready to go back to the negotiating table with Tehran for a new nuclear deal. Trump told a convention in Kansas City, “I withdrew the United States from the horrible one-sided Iran nuclear deal, and Iran is not the same country anymore. We’re ready to make a deal.”

Much will depend now on whether Allawi carried back from Washington some ‘talking points’ for transmission to Tehran.

July 30, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Iran official warns Europe against playing US-Israeli game

Press TV – March 17, 2018

A senior Iranian official has warned European countries against playing into the hands of the United States and the Israeli regime as European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal propose fresh sanctions against Tehran under the pressure of Washington.

“Defense capabilities, particularly the missile program, of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which have a deterrent nature, will firmly be continued based on national security necessities,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said in a meeting with Oman’s Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Tehran on Saturday.

“Political and media propaganda will have no impact on their development,” he added.

Britain, France and Germany have proposed new EU sanctions on Iran over its missile program and its regional role, a confidential document said on Friday.

The joint paper was sent to the EU capitals to sound out support for such sanctions as they would need the backing of all 28 member states of the bloc, Reuters quoted two people familiar with the matter as saying.

The proposal is allegedly part of an EU strategy to appease US President Donald Trump and preserve the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 amid constant US threats to withdraw from it.

Shamkhani said US failure to fulfill its obligations and its illegal approach to the JCPOA as well as Europe’s passivity with regard to Washington’s approaches clearly show that regional countries need to focus on finding a solution to the ongoing issues and crises in the region by themselves.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will give a proper and due response to the US constant violations of its commitments under the JCPOA and will accept no change, interpretation or new measure that would limit the JCPOA,” the SNSC secretary said.

His comments came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the US against the “painful mistake” of pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement.

“Considering what has been envisaged in the JCPOA in the field of research and development and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s continued measures to develop its peaceful nuclear capability, if the US makes the mistake of exiting the JCPOA, it will definitely be a painful mistake for the Americans,” Zarif told reporters.

Elsewhere in his comments, Shamkhani said growing deep relations between Iran and Oman had led to consensus on regional issues.

“The development of constructive and all-out relations with neighbors based on common interests is the top priority of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy,” he added.

The senior Iranian official lashed out at certain regional countries for adopting “a hasty and arrogant attitude and statements” which have posed serious challenges to the handling of regional crises.

He expressed his concern about the killing of Yemeni women and children in airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as the catastrophic conditions of the oppressed Yemeni people.

“The shared view of Iran and Oman on the Yemeni crisis is based on putting an immediate end to war, establishing ceasefire, lifting the blockade, dispatching humanitarian aid and holding Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue to form new political structures based on the Yemeni people’s demands and vote,” Shamkhani pointed out.

He emphasized that the Yemeni crisis cannot be settled through military approaches and urged a political initiative in this regard.

About 14,000 people have been killed since the onset of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen in March 2015. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

The United Nations says a record 22.2 million people are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

The UN Security Council on March 15 warned about the worsening humanitarian situation in war-battered Yemen, stating the status quo is having a “devastating” impact on the lives of civilians in the impoverished Arab country.

“The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and the devastating humanitarian impact of the conflict on civilians,” it said in a statement.

Oman urges dialogue instead of military approaches

The Omani foreign minister, for his part, criticized military approaches to regional issues and urged the path of dialogue and understanding instead.

He added that Oman regards Iran as a trustworthy neighboring country and commended the Islamic Republic’s role in establishing stability and security in the region.

Bin Alawi arrived in Tehran Friday night on a two-day visit to hold talks with senior Iranian officials about mutual and regional issues.

Iran rejects speculations about bin Alawi’s visit

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Saturday rejected speculation about a link between the Omani minister’s visit to Tehran and US Defense Secretary James Mattis’s recent travel to Muscat and said bin Alawi’s trip was taking place with the purpose of strengthening mutual relations.

“Although Oman has very good relations with many countries in the world, Mr. Yusuf bin Alawi’s trip to Tehran has nothing to do with Mattis’s visit to this country,” Qassemi said.

He strongly rejected any link between bin Alawi’s visit to Tehran and US policies on the JCPOA.

The Iranian spokesperson said, “Iran and Oman are cooperating with each other on a wide range of issues and the two sides seek to use the two countries’ existing capacities to further deepen economic, commercial, banking and financial cooperation.”

March 17, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Coalition Crumbles In Yemen: Sudanese Mercenaries On Front Lines, Foreign Officers, Proxies In Revolt

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | November 26, 2017

Most Americans might be forgiven for having no clue what the war in Yemen actually looks like, especially as Western media has spent at least the first two years of the conflict completely ignoring the mass atrocities taking place while white-washing the Saudi coalition’s crimes. Unlike wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, which received near daily coverage as they were at their most intense, and in which many Americans could at least visualize the battlefield and the actors involved through endless photographs and video from on the ground, Yemen’s war has largely been a faceless and nameless conflict as far as major media is concerned.

Aside from mainstream media endlessly demonstrating its collective ignorance of Middle East dynamics, it is also no secret that the oil and gas monarchies allied to the West are rarely subject to media scrutiny or criticism, something lately demonstrated on an obscene and frighteningly absurd level with Thomas Friedman’s fawning and hagiographic interview with Saudi crown prince MBS published in the New York Times.

Saudi Arabia’s hired help in Yemen: Sudanese fighters headed to the front lines. Image souce: al-Arabiya

But any level of meticulous review of how the Saudi coalition (which heavily involves US assistance) is executing the war in Yemen would reveal a military and strategic disaster in the making. As Middle East Eye editor-in-chief David Hearst puts it, “All in all, the first military venture to be launched by the 32-year-old Saudi prince as defense minister is a tactical and strategic shambles.”  

And if current battlefield trends continue, the likely outcome will be a protracted and humiliating Saudi coalition withdrawal with the spoils divided among Houthi and Saudi allied warlords, as well as others vying for power in Yemen’s tenuous political future. But what unsurprisingly unites most Yemenis at this point is shared hatred for the Saudi coalition bombs which rain down on civilian centers below. For this reason, Hearst concludes further of MBS’ war: “The prince, praised in Western circles as a young reformer who will spearhead the push back against Iran, has succeeded in uniting Yemenis against him, a rare feat in a polarized world. He has indeed shot himself, repeatedly, in the foot.

So how has this come about, and how is the war going from a military and strategic perspective?

First, to quickly review, Saudi airstrikes on already impoverished Yemen, which have killed and maimed tens of thousands of civilians (thousands among those are children according to the UN) and displaced hundreds of thousands, have been enabled by both US intelligence and military hardware. Cholera has recently exploded amidst the appalling war-time conditions, and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools have been bombed by the Saudis. After Shia Houthi rebels overran Yemen’s north in 2014, embattled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi vowed to “extract Yemen from the claws of Iran” something which he’s repeatedly affirmed, having been given international backing from allies in the West, and a major bombing campaign began on March 2015 under the name “Operation Decisive Storm” (in a cheap mirroring of prior US wars in Iraq, the first of which was “Desert Storm”).

Saudi Arabia and its backers fear what they perceive as growing Iranian influence in the region, something grossly exaggerated, and seek to defend at all costs Yemeni forces loyal to President Hadi. The coalition includes Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Sudan, and the US and UK, and the Saudi initiated war has also lately received behind the scenes political support from Israel, something recently confirmed by Israeli officials. Concerning the supposed Iran threat in Yemen, an emergency session of the Arab League recently doubled down on its shared commitment to wage war against Iranian interests after it blamed Tehran for a November 4 ballistic missile attack from Shia Houthi rebels against the Saudi capital, which Iran denies playing a role in.

But the Saudi coalition is now in shambles according to a new Middle East Eye investigation. The report highlights some surprising facts long ignored in mainstream media and which give insight into how the Saudi military campaign is likely to end in total failure as “more than two years into a disastrous war, the coalition of ground forces assembled by the Saudis is showing signs of crumbling.”

Below are 5 key takeaways from the full report.

1) Saudi coalition ground forces have a huge contingent of foreign fighters, namely Sudanese troops with UAE officers, suffering the brunt of the battle on the front lines.

Sudanese forces, which constitute the bulk of the 10,000 foreign fighters in the Saudi-led coalition, are suffering high casualty rates. A senior source close to the presidency in Khartoum told Middle East Eye that over 500 of their troops had now been killed in Yemen.

Only two months ago, the commander of the Sudanese Army’s rapid support force, Lieutenant General Mohammed Hamdan Hamidati, quoted a figure of 412 troops killed, including 14 officers to  the Sudanese newspaper Al Akhbar. “There is huge pressure to withdraw from this on-going fight,” the Sudanese source told MEE. A force of up to 8,000 Sudanese troops are partly led by Emirati officers. They are deployed in southern Yemen as well as to the south and west of Taiz in al Makha.

2) Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been dubbed “president of the mercenaries” for accepting over $2.2 billion from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in order to provide canon fodder for the Saudi ground war in Yemen in the form of thousands of young Sudanese troops, but he’s threatening revolt. To escape his untenable position, he is reportedly seeking help from Putin.

At home, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is also having second thoughts. He remembers the lifeline he got when Riyadh deposited $1bn in Sudan’s Central Bank two years ago, followed by Qatar’s $1.22bn. But he hardly enjoys being known as “president of the mercenaries,” and he has other relationships to consider.

On Thursday, Bashir became the latest of a procession of Arab leaders to beat a path to Vladimir Putin’s door. He told the Russian president he needed protection from the US, was against confrontation with Iran, and supported the policy of keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. This follows an incident at home, which was variously described as espionage and a coup attempt. Taha Osman Ahmed al-Hussein was dismissed as the director of the Office of the Sudanese President after he was discovered carrying a Saudi passport and a residency permit for the UAE. He was caught maintaining secret contact with both.

3) Saudi-backed Yemeni fighters are increasingly mutinying and fear local mass push back from Yemen’s civilian population due to the unpopular bombing campaign.

Mutiny is also stirring in the ranks of Yemenis who two and a half years ago cheered the Saudi pushback against the Houthis who were trying to take over the entire country.

The Saudi relationship with Islah, the largest group of Yemeni fighters in the ground force employed by the coalition, has at best been ambivalent. The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s closest partner in Yemen, Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is openly hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Yemeni party… They [Islahi leadership] are feeling the political price they are paying for supporting a campaign that turned in Yemeni eyes from liberation to occupation… Enough is enough. The regional Islahi leadership are now talking of starting direct negotiations with the Houthis, a senior Islah source told MEE.

4) Saudi proxy fighters are at war with each other: an Emirati-backed militia fighting under the Saudi coalition is assassinating other members of the Saudi coalition in what’s increasingly an internal coalition civil war. 

They are also paying a physical price. A number of Islahi sheikhs and scholars as well as Salafis who rejected Emirati leadership have been killed or targeted by assassination attempts. The list is growing: there have been assassinations of Khaled Ali al-Armani, a leader in the Islah Party, on 7 December 2016; Sheikh Abdullah Bin Amir Bin Ali Bin Abdaat al-Kathri, on 23 November 2017 in Hadhramaut; Abdelmajeed Batees (related to Saleh Batees) a leader in the Islah Party on 5 January 2017 in Hadhramaut; Mohammed Bin Lashgam, Deputy Director of Civil Status, on 17 January 2017; Khaled Ali al-Armani, a leader in the Islah Party, on 7 December 2016…

“The Emiratis do not conceal their hostility to Islah. Islahi sheikhs and scholars are being assassinated, and this is being co-ordinated by the pro-Emirati militia. In addition, the UAE is clearly enforcing the blockade of Taiz, and withholding support for our fighters in the city,” the source said.

5) Oman is entering the fray, which will further fragment the Saudi coalition as rivalries for territorial control develop.

As if the balance of competing outside forces  in Yemen is not complicated enough, enter Oman. Oman, too, regards southern Yemen as its backyard. It is particularly worried about the takeover of a series of strategic ports and islands off Yemen by the Emiratis. A Qatari diplomatic source described this as the Emiratis’ “seaborn empire,” but the Omanis are upset by this too.

The Omanis are understood to be quietly contacting local Yemeni tribal leaders in south Yemen, some of them separatist forces, to organize a more “orchestrated response” to the militias paid for and controlled by Abu Dhabi.

Like the proxy war in Syria, it appears that Gulf/US plans have backfired, and we are perhaps in for a long Saudi coalition death spiral fueled by delusion and denial. Sadly, it is primarily Yemeni civilians and common people in the region that will continue to bear the brunt of suffering wrought by such evil and delusional stupidity.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

UK Secures ‘Permanent’ Naval Base ‘East of Suez’ in Oman

Sputnik – August 30, 2017

In the UK, parliament may still be in summer recess, but government ministers aren’t resting. Defense Minister Michael Fallon jetted to Oman August 28 to cement a number of military agreements with the Sultanate’s leaders. The inking represents a continuation of a longstanding and rarely examined “special relationship” between the two countries.

During his two day visit, Fallon met with Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Harub Al Busaidi, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Defense Affairs, in Muscat. The pair signed a “Memorandum of Understanding and Services Agreement” that secures UK use of naval facilities at Duqm Port — a multi-million dollar joint venture between the two countries.

​An official statement issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said the “booming” Port complex would provide “significant opportunity” for the two countries’ “defense, security and prosperity agendas,” and serve as a home from home for the UK’s flagship aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“This agreement ensures British engineering expertise will be involved in developing Duqm as a strategic port for the Middle East, benefiting the Royal Navy and others. Oman is a longstanding British ally and we work closely across diplomatic, economic and security matters. Our commitment to the Duqm project highlights the strength of our relationship,” Fallon said.

The Defense Minister’s visit gained virtually no recognition in the UK media — while the traditional paucity of official government business to report on over the summer arguably makes the story a prime candidate for press coverage, radio silence on UK-Oman relations is a seemingly enduring mainstream editorial policy.

Declassified British government files reveal the oil-rich Gulf state’s leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said — one of the longest serving unelected rulers in the world — was brought to power in a 1970 palace coup planned by UK foreign intelligence service MI6, and sanctioned by then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The Sultan has absolute power in governance, and is also the country’s Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, with total authority over Oman’s judicial and legal systems.

Ever since the coup, Oman has proven a most faithful ally to the UK, hosting a number of major British intelligence and military operations.

For example, UK spying agency GCHQ has three separate bases in the country — codenamed Timpani Guitar and Clarinet — that feed off various undersea cables passing through the Strait of Hormuz to the Arabian Gulf. In the process, the bases intercept and process a vast volume of emails, telephone calls and web traffic generated in the region, which is then shared with the US’ National Security Agency.

Moreover, UK troops have long trained Omani armed forces, and in May 2016 it was announced the UK would increase its number of training teams in Oman from 34 to 45 in 2017.

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a 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

Kuwait expels 14 people for links with Hezbollah: Report

Press TV – March 21, 2016

The Kuwaiti government has deported 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis on charges of having links to Lebanon’s resistance movement, Hezbollah, a report says.

The Kuwaiti Arabic daily al-Qabas quoted a security source as saying on Monday that the 14 people had been expelled on the order of the state security service.

The move came nearly three weeks after the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), under the influence of the Saudi regime, declared Hezbollah a “terrorist” organization. Arab League foreign ministers, except those of Iraq and Lebanon, later followed suit.

The [P]GCC – comprising Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait – however, did not provide any evidence for its allegation. This comes as the first three monarchies themselves stand accused of supporting extremists and terrorists in the region.

Describing the [P]GCC decision as “reckless and hostile,” Hezbollah blamed it on Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere in its report, Qabas said that Kuwaiti security officials have prepared a list of “unwanted” Lebanese and Iraqi people, including advisers to big companies, to be expelled for “the public interest.”

The people will not be allowed to enter the [P]GCC member states after their deportation, the daily said.

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment