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Tehran open to dialog with all neighbors: Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (Photo by AFP)
Press TV – January 23, 2020

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has reaffirmed Iran’s readiness for talks with all its neighbors amid tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

“Iran remains open to dialogue with its neighbors, and we declare our readiness to participate in any complementary work that is in the interest of the region, and we welcome any step that restores hope to its people and brings them stability and prosperity,” Zarif said in a tweet in Thursday.

The tweet was in Arabic, which suggests it was addressed to the Persian Gulf littoral Arab countries. It came a day after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said Riyadh was ready for talks with Tehran “but it is really up to Iran.”

The top Saudi diplomat, however, repeated the baseless claims against Iran’s role in the region, adding that the precondition for dialog is for the Islamic Republic to accept it “cannot further its regional agenda through violence.”

Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, he said he was glad the region has “avoided any escalation” with Iran, and that “many countries” have offered to mediate talks with Tehran.

Meanwhile, the Iranian president’s chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, said Wednesday that Tehran and Riyadh should work together to overcome their problems.

“The relations between Iran and its neighbor Saudi Arabia should not become like the relationship between Tehran and the United States … Tehran and Riyadh should work together to resolve their problems,” Vaezi said.

At an event in the Indian city of Mumbai on Friday in coordination with All India Association of Industries (AIAI), Zarif also voiced Iran’s readiness to hold talks with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries to promote regional security.

He added that Iran has also presented proposals on ways to establish peace in the Strait of Hormuz.

In an address to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019, President Hassan Rouhani said as a steward of maritime security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, Iran invites all countries that are affected by developments in the strategic region to join the country’s new regional peace initiative, dubbed Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE).

Iran’s initiative comes as the US has been trying to persuade its allies into a maritime coalition purportedly seeking to boost security in the Persian Gulf, after it blamed Tehran for two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to back up the allegation, which Iran has categorically rejected.

Tehran has repeatedly said outsiders not only cannot safeguard the region, but will fuel tensions there. Iran believes it is the countries of the very region which can ensure regional peace.

Prior to the Hormuz initiative, Iran had offered to sign non-aggression agreements with all countries in the Persian Gulf region.

Zarif also said in late May 2019 that Iran sought the best of relations with the Persian Gulf littoral countries and would welcome any proposals for dialog and de-escalation toward that end.

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

How an Israeli Spy-Linked Tech Firm Gained Access to the US Gov’t’s Most Classified Networks

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | January 14, 2020

If the networks of the U.S. military, the U.S. intelligence community and a slew of other U.S. federal agencies were running the software of a company with deep ties, not only to foreign companies with a history of espionage against the U.S. but also foreign military intelligence, it would — at the very least — garner substantial media attention. Yet, no media reports to date have noted that such a scenario exists on a massive scale and that the company making such software recently simulated the cancellation of the 2020 election and the declaration of martial law in the United States.

Earlier this month, MintPress News reported on the simulations for the U.S. 2020 election organized by the company Cybereason, a firm led by former members of Israel’s military intelligence Unit 8200 and advised by former top and current officials in both Israeli military intelligence and the CIA. Those simulations, attended by federal officials from the FBI, DHS and the U.S. Secret Service, ended in disaster, with the elections ultimately canceled and martial law declared due to the chaos created by a group of hackers led by Cybereason employees.

The first installment of this three part series delved deeply into Cybereason’s ties to the intelligence community of Israel and also other agencies, including the CIA, as well as the fact that Cybereason stood to gain little financially from the simulations given that their software could not have prevented the attacks waged against the U.S.’ electoral infrastructure in the exercise.

Also noted was the fact that Cybereason software could be potentially used as a backdoor by unauthorized actors, a possibility strengthened by the fact that the company’s co-founders all previously worked for firms that have a history of placing backdoors into U.S. telecommunications and electronic infrastructure as well as aggressive espionage targeting U.S. federal agencies.

The latter issue is crucial in the context of this installment of this exclusive MintPress series, as Cybereason’s main investors turned partners have integrated Cybereason’s software into their product offerings. This means that the clients of these Cybereason partner companies, the U.S. intelligence community and military among them, are now part of Cybereason’s network of more than 6 million endpoints that this private company constantly monitors using a combination of staff comprised largely of former intelligence operatives and an AI algorithm first developed by Israeli military intelligence.

Cybereason, thus far, has disclosed the following groups as lead investors in the company: Charles River Ventures (CRV), Spark Capital, Lockheed Martin and SoftBank. Charles River Ventures (CRV) was among the first to invest in Cybereason and has been frequently investing in other Israeli tech start-ups that were founded by former members of the elite Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200 over the last few years. Spark Capital, based in California, appears to have followed CRV’s interest in Cybereason since the venture capitalist who co-founded Spark and led its investment in Cybereason is a former CRV partner who still has close ties to the firm.

While CRV and Spark Capital seem like just the type of investors a company like Cybereason would attract given their clear interest in similar tech start-ups coming out of Israel’s cyber sector, Cybereason’s other lead investors — Lockheed Martin and SoftBank — deserve much more attention and scrutiny.

Cybereason widely used by US Government, thanks to Lockheed

“A match made in heaven,” trumpeted Forbes at the news of the Lockheed Martin-Cybereason partnership, first forged in 2015. The partnership involved not only Lockheed Martin becoming a major investor in the cybersecurity company but also in Lockheed Martin becoming the largest conduit providing Cybereason’s software to U.S. federal and military agencies.

Indeed, as Forbes noted at the time, not only did Lockheed invest in the company, it decided to integrate Cybereason’s software completely into its product portfolio, resulting in a “model of both using Cybereason internally, and selling it to both public and private customers.”

Cybereason CEO and former offensive hacker for Israeli military intelligence — Lior Div — said the following of the partnership:

Lockheed Martin invested in Cybereason’s protection system after they compared our solution against a dozen others from the top industry players. The US firm was so impressed with the results they got from Cybereason that they began offering it to their own customers – among them most of the top Fortune 100 companies, and the US federal government. Cybereason is now the security system recommended by LM to its customers for protection from a wide (sic) malware and hack attacks.”

Rich Mahler, then-director of Commercial Cyber Services at Lockheed Martin, told Defense Daily that the company’s decision to invest in Cybereason, internally use its software, and include the technology as part of Lockheed Martin’s cyber solutions portfolio were all “independent business decisions but were all coordinated and timed with the transaction.”

How independent each of those decisions actually was is unclear, especially given the timing of Lockheed Martin’s investment in Cybereason, whose close and troubling ties to Israeli intelligence as well as the CIA were noted in the previous installment of this investigative series. Indeed, about a year prior to their investment in the Israeli military intelligence-linked Cybereason, Lockheed Martin opened an office in Beersheba, Israel, where the IDF has its “cyberhub”. The office is focused not on the sales of armaments, but instead on technology.

Marilyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin’s CEO, said the following during her speech that inaugurated the company’s Beersheba office:

The consolidation of IDF Technical Units to new bases in the Negev Desert region is an important transformation of Israel’s information technology capability… We understand the challenges of this move. Which is why we are investing in the facilities and people that will ensure we are prepared to support for these critical projects. By locating our new office in the capital of the Negev we are well positioned to work closely with our Israeli partners and stand ready to: accelerate project execution, reduce program risk and share our technical expertise by training and developing in-country talent.”

Beersheba not only houses the IDF’s technology campus, but also the Israel National Cyber Directorate, which reports directly to Israel’s Prime Minister, as well as a high-tech corporate park that mostly houses tech companies with ties to Israel’s military intelligence apparatus. The area has been cited in several media reports as a visible indicator of the public-private merger between Israeli technology companies, many of them started by Unit 8200 alumni, and the Israeli government and its intelligence services. Lockheed Martin quickly became a key fixture in the Beersheba-based cyberhub.

Not long before Lockheed began exploring the possibility of opening an office in Beersheba, the company was hacked by individuals who used tokens tied to the company, RSA Security, whose founders have ties to Israel’s defense establishment and which is now owned by Dell, a company also deeply tied to the Israeli government and tech sector. The hack, perpetrated by still unknown actors, may have sparked Lockheed’s subsequent interest in Israel’s cybersecurity sector.

Soon after opening its Beersheba office, Lockheed Martin created its Israel subsidiary, Lockheed Martin Israel. Unlike many of the company’s other subsidiaries, this one is focused exclusively on “cybersecurity, enterprise information technology, data centers, mobile, analytics and cloud” as opposed to the manufacture and design of armaments.

Marillyn Hewson, center, poses with Israeli gov. officials at the opening of Lockheed Martin’s facility in Beersheba. Photo | Diego Mittleberg

Haden Land, then-vice president of research and technology for Lockheed Martin, told the Wall Street Journal that the creation of the subsidiary was largely aimed at securing contracts with the IDF and that the company’s Israel subsidiary would soon be seeking partnership and investments in pursuit of that end. Land oversaw the local roll-out of the company’s Israel subsidiary while concurrently meeting with Israeli government officials. According to the Journal, Land “oversees all of Lockheed Martin’s information-systems businesses, including defense and civilian commercial units” for the United States and elsewhere.

Just a few months later, Lockheed Martin partnered and invested in Cybereason, suggesting that Lockheed’s decision to do so was aimed at securing closer ties with the IDF. This further suggests that Cybereason still maintains close ties to Israeli military intelligence, a point expounded upon in great detail in the previous installment of this series.

Thus, it appears that not only does Lockheed Martin use Cybereason’s software on its own devices and on those it manages for its private and public sector clients, but it also decided to use the company’s software in this way out of a desire to more closely collaborate with the Israeli military in matters related to technology and cybersecurity.

The cozy ties between Lockheed Martin, one of the U.S. government’s largest private contractors, and the IDF set off alarm bells, then and now, for those concerned with U.S. national security. Such concern makes it important to look at the extent of Cybereason’s use by federal and military agencies in the United States through their contracting of Lockheed Martin’s Information Technology (IT) division. This is especially important considering Israeli military intelligence’s history of using espionage, blackmail and private tech companies against the U.S. government, as detailed here.

While the exact number of U.S. federal and military agencies using Cybereason’s software is unknown, it is widespread, with Lockheed Martin’s IT division as the conduit. Indeed, Lockheed Martin was the number one IT solutions provider to the U.S. federal government up until its IT division was spun off and merged with Leidos Holdings. As a consequence, Leidos is now the largest IT provider to the U.S. government and is also directly partnered with Cybereason in the same way Lockheed Martin was. Even after its IT division was spun off, Lockheed Martin continues to use Cybereason’s software in its cybersecurity work for the Pentagon and still maintains a stake in the company.

The Leidos-Lockheed Martin IT hybrid provides a litany of services to the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence. As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock noted for The Nation, the company does “everything from analyzing signals for the NSA to tracking down suspected enemy fighters for US Special Forces in the Middle East and Africa” and, following its merger with Lockheed and consequential partnership with Cybereason, became “the largest of five corporations that together employ nearly 80 percent of the private-sector employees contracted to work for US spy and surveillance agencies.” Shorrock also notes that these private-sector contractors now dominate the mammoth U.S. surveillance apparatus, many of them working for Leidos and — by extension — using Cybereason’s software.

Leidos’ exclusive use of Cybereason software for cybersecurity is also relevant for the U.S. military since Leidos runs a number of sensitive systems for the Pentagon, including its recently inked contract to manage the entire military telecommunications infrastructure for Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). In addition to maintaining the military telecom network, Cybereason is also directly partnered with World Wide Technologies (WWT) as of this past October. WWT manages cybersecurity for the U.S. Army, maintains DISA’s firewalls and data storage as well as the U.S. Air Force’s biometric identification system. WWT also manages contracts for NASA, itself a frequent target of Israeli government espionage, and the U.S. Navy. WWT’s partnership is similar to the Lockheed/Leidos partnership in that Cybereason’s software is now completely integrated into its portfolio, giving the company full access to the devices on all of these highly classified networks.

Many of these new partnerships with Cybereason, including its partnership with WWT, followed claims made by members of Israel’s Unit 8200 in 2017 that the popular antivirus software of Kaspersky Labs contained a backdoor for Russian intelligence, thereby compromising U.S. systems. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the alleged backdoor but did not mention the involvement of Unit 8200 in identifying it, a fact revealed by the New York Times a week later.

Notably, none of the evidence Unit 8200 used to blame Kaspersky has been made public and Kaspersky noted that it was actually Israeli hackers that had been discovered planting backdoors into its platform prior to the accusation levied against Kaspersky by Unit 8200. As the New York Times noted:

Investigators later discovered that the Israeli hackers had implanted multiple back doors into Kaspersky’s systems, employing sophisticated tools to steal passwords, take screenshots, and vacuum up emails and documents.”

Unit 8200’s claims ultimately led the U.S. government to abandon Kaspersky’s products entirely in 2018, allowing companies like Cybereason (with its own close ties to Unit 8200) to fill the void. Indeed, the very agencies that banned Kaspersky now use cybersecurity software that employs Cybereason’s EDR system. No flags have been raised about Cybereason’s own collaboration with the very foreign intelligence service that first pointed the finger at Kaspersky and that previously sold software with backdoors to sensitive U.S. facilities.

SoftBank, Cybereason and the Vision Fund

While its entry into the U.S. market and U.S. government networks is substantial, Cybereason’s software is also run throughout the world on a massive scale through partnerships that have seen it enter into Latin American and European markets in major ways in just the last few months. It has also seen its software become prominent in Asia following a partnership with the company Trustwave. Much of this rapid expansion followed a major injection of cash courtesy of one of the company’s biggest clients and now its largest investor, Japan’s SoftBank.

SoftBank first invested in Cybereason in 2015, the same year Lockheed Martin initially invested and partnered with the firm. It was also the year that SoftBank announced its intention to invest in Israeli tech start-ups. SoftBank first injected $50 million into Cybereason, followed by an additional $100 million in 2017 and $200 million last August. SoftBank’s investments account for most of the money raised by the company since it was founded in 2012 ($350 million out of $400 million total).

Cybereason CEO Lior Div speaks at a SoftBank event in Japan, July 21, 2017. Photo | Cybereason

Prior to investing, Softbank was a client of Cybereason, which Ken Miyauchi, president of SoftBank, noted when making the following statement after Softbank’s initial investment in Cybereason:

SoftBank works to obtain cutting edge technology and outstanding business models to lead the Information Revolution. Our deployment of the Cybereason platform internally gave us firsthand knowledge of the value it provides, and led to our decision to invest. I’m confident Cybereason and SoftBank’s new product offering will bring a new level of security to Japanese organizations.”

SoftBank — one of Japan’s largest telecommunications companies — not only began to deploy Cybereason internally but directly partnered with it after investing, much like Lockheed Martin had done around the same time. This partnership resulted in SoftBank and Cybereason creating a joint venture in Japan and Cybereason creating partnerships with other tech companies acquired by SoftBank, including the U.K.’s Arm, which specializes in making chips and management platforms for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

SoftBank’s interest in Cybereason is significant, particularly in light of Cybereason’s interest in the 2020 U.S. election, given that SoftBank has significant ties to key allies of President Trump and even the president himself.

Indeed, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son was among the first wave of international business leaders who sought to woo then-president-elect Trump soon after the 2016 election. Son first visited Trump Tower in December 2016 and announced, with Trump by his side in the building’s lobby, that SoftBank would invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 jobs. Trump subsequently claimed on Twitter that Son had only decided to make this investment because Trump had won the election.

Son told reporters at the time that the investment would come from a $100 billion fund that would be created in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund as well as other investors. “I just came to celebrate his new job. I said, ‘This is great. The US will become great again,’” Son said, according to reports.

Then, in March of 2017, Son sent top SoftBank executives to meet with senior members of Trump’s economic team and, according to the New York Times, “the SoftBank executives said that because of a lack of advanced digital investments, the competitiveness of the United States economy was at risk. And the executives made the case, quite strongly, that Mr. Son was committed to playing a major role in addressing this issue through a spate of job-creating investments.” Many of SoftBank’s investments and acquisitions in the U.S. since then have focused mainly on artificial intelligence and technology with military applications, such as “killer robot” firm Boston Dynamics, suggesting Son’s interest lies more in dominating futuristic military-industrial technologies than creating jobs for the average American.

After their initial meeting, Trump and Son met again a year later in June 2018, with Trump stating that “His [Son’s] $50 billion turned out to be $72 billion so far, he’s not finished yet.” Several media reports have claimed that Son’s moves since Trump’s election have sought to “curry favor” with the President.

Through the creation of this fund alongside the Saudis, SoftBank has since become increasingly intertwined with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), a key ally of President Trump in the Middle East known for his authoritarian crackdowns on Saudi elites and dissidents alike. The ties between Saudi Arabia and SoftBank became ever tighter when MBS took the reins in the oil kingdom and after SoftBank announced the launch of the Vision Fund in 2016. SoftBank’s Vision Fund is a vehicle for investing in hi-tech companies and start-ups and its largest shareholder is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Notably, Son decided to launch the Vision Fund in Riyadh during President Trump’s first official visit to the Gulf Kingdom.

Masayoshi Son, left, signs a deal related to the Vision Fund with Bin Salman in March 2018. Photo | SPA

In addition, the Mubadala Investment Company, a government fund of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), gave $15 billion to the Vision Fund. UAE leadership also share close ties to the Trump administration and MBS in Saudi Arabia.

As a consequence, SoftBank’s Vision Fund is majority funded by two Middle Eastern authoritarian governments with close ties to the U.S. government, specifically the Trump administration. In addition, both countries have enjoyed the rapid growth and normalization of ties with the state of Israel in recent years, particularly following the rise of current Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and Jared Kushner’s rise to prominence in his father-in-law’s administration. Other investments in the Vision Fund have come from Apple, Qualcomm and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, all tech companies with strong ties to Israel’s government.

The Saudi and Emirati governments’ links to the Vision Fund are so obvious that even mainstream outlets like the New York Times have described them as a “front for Saudi Arabia and perhaps other countries in the Middle East.”

SoftBank also enjoys close ties to Jared Kushner, with Fortress Investment Group lending $57 million to Kushner Companies in October 2017 while it was under contract to be acquired by SoftBank. As Barron’s noted at the time:

When SoftBank Group bought Fortress Investment Group last year, the Japanese company was buying access to a corps of seasoned investors. What SoftBank also got is a financial tie to the family of President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.”

According to The Real Deal, Kushner Companies obtained the financing from Fortress only after its attempts to obtain funding through the EB-5 visa program for a specific real estate venture were abandoned after the U.S. Attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission began to investigate how Kushner Companies used the EB-5 investor visa program. A key factor in the opening of that investigation was Kushner Companies’ representatives touting Jared Kushner’s position at the White House when talking to prospective investors and lenders.

SoftBank also recently came to the aid of a friend of Jared Kushner, former CEO of WeWork Adam Neumann. Neumann made shocking claims about his ties to both Kushner and Saudi Arabia’s MBS, even asserting that he had worked with both in creating Kushner’s long-awaited and controversial Middle East “peace plan” and claimed that he, Kushner and MBS would together “save the world.” Neumann previously called Kushner his “mentor.” MBS has also discussed on several occasions his close ties with Kushner and U.S. media reports have noted the frequent correspondence between the two “princelings.”

Notably, SoftBank invested in Neumann’s WeWork using money from the Saudi-dominated Vision Fund and later went on to essentially bail the company out after its IPO collapse and Neumann was pushed out. SoftBank’s founder, Masayoshi Son, had an odd yet very close relationship with Neumann, perhaps explaining why Neumann was allowed to walk with $1.7 billion after bringing WeWork to the brink of collapse. Notably, nearly half of SoftBank’s approximately $47 billion investments in the U.S. economy since Trump’s election, went to acquiring and then bailing out WeWork. It is unlikely that such a disastrous investment resulted in the level of job creation that Son had promised Trump in 2016.

Given that it is Cybereason’s top investor and shareholder by a large margin, SoftBank’s ties to the Trump administration and key allies of that administration are significant in light of Cybereason’s odd interest in 2020 U.S. election scenarios that end with the cancellation of this year’s upcoming presidential election. It goes without saying that the cancellation of the election would mean a continuation of the Trump administration until new elections would take place.

Furthermore, with Cybereason’s close and enduring ties to Israeli military intelligence now well-documented, it is worth asking if Israeli military intelligence would consider intervening in 2020 if the still-to-be-decided Democratic contender was strongly opposed to Israeli government policy, particularly Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. This is especially worth considering given revelations that sexual blackmailer and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who targeted prominent U.S. politicians, mostly Democrats, was in the employ of Israeli military intelligence.

Notably, Cybereason’s doomsday election scenarios involved the weaponization of deep fakes, self-driving cars and the hacking Internet of Things devices, with all of those technologies being pioneered and perfected — not by Russia, China or Iran — but by companies directly tied to Israeli intelligence, much like Cybereason itself. These companies, their technology and Cybereason’s own work creating the narrative that U.S. rival states seek to undermine the U.S. election in this way, will all be discussed in the conclusion of MintPress’ series on Cybereason and its outsized interest in the U.S. democratic process.

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

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tel Aviv calls for Gulf States to unite with Israel against Iran

MEMO | January 11, 2020

Former Israeli communication minister, Ayoob Kara, has called for the Gulf States to form a security and economic “union” with Israel, to stand against Iran at all levels, Shehab News Agency reported on Friday.

Kara, who is very close to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, posted on Twitter that the goal of this “union” is to be a “strong front in the face of Iranian evil.”

The tweet came after the Iranian declaration that Iran would turn its hostile arms against Haifa and Dubai. In his tweet, Kara announces: “It is time that the States of the Arab Gulf come together with Israel in a security and economic union to stand against Iran’s threats in the Middle East.”

 

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | 4 Comments

Iran didn’t want to kill US troops with its strike, it wanted to make point to Trump about its missile tech & resolve. It did that.

By Scott Ritter | RT | January 8, 2020

Iran’s anticipated retaliation for the US assassination of Qassem Suleimani sent a clear signal to Donald Trump that while the current round of violence may be over, Iran stands ready to respond to any future US provocation.

Tehran warned Iraq to spare US soldiers

On Tuesday night, the Iranian nation buried the body of Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer assassinated by the US this past week. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, that task completed, Soleimani’s IRGC comrades, acting on the orders of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, launched some 22 ballistic missiles from Iranian territory into neighboring Iraq, targeting the huge US air base Al Asad, in western Iraq, and the US consulate in the city of Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In the hours following the announcement of these attacks, which were broadcast on Iranian television for the Iranian people, the world held its breath, waiting for the results. Shortly after the missiles were launched, Iran signaled its desire for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis through a tweet sent out by its Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, who described the attacks as “proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter.” Zarif concluded by noting that “We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.”

The ultimate decision to deescalate, however, was not Iran’s to make. War is not a one-way street, and the enemy always gets a vote. However, in launching its missile attack on US targets in Iraq, Iran appeared to go out of its way to signal that it considered the matter of retaliation for the assassination of Soleimani closed. First and foremost, Iran communicated its intent to strike US targets in Iraq directly to the Iraqi Prime Minister a full two hours prior to the missiles being launched; Iraq then shared this information with US military commanders, who were able to ensure all US troops were in hardened shelters at the time of the attack.

Showing off its new-gen ballistic missiles

But the most important aspect of Iran’s actions was the way its missiles were targeted. For years now, Iran has made significant strides in terms of the reliability, range and accuracy of its ballistic missile force. Gone are the days when Iran’s arsenal consisted solely of inaccurate Soviet-era SCUD missiles.

The missile attack on the US incorporated new, advanced missiles—the Qaim 1 and Fahad-110—possessing advanced guidance and control capable of pinpoint precision. Iran had used these weapons previously, striking targets inside Syria affiliated with the Islamic State. But this was the first time these weapons had been used against the US. From the US perspective, the results were sobering. The Iranian missile attacks resulted in no casualties among US, Iraqi or coalition forces stationed in either Al Asad or Erbil. But the lack of lethality, however, is actually Tehran’s way of proving the accuracy of its ballistic missiles.

Commercial satellite images of the Al Asad air base taken after the attack show that the Iranian missiles struck buildings containing equipment with a precision previously only thought possible by advanced powers such as the US, NATO, Russia and China. Iran fired 17 missiles at Al Asad, and 15 hit their targets (two missiles failed to detonate).

Iran also fired five additional missiles at the US consulate in Erbil; US commanders on the ground said that it appeared Iran deliberately avoided striking the consulate, but in doing so sent a clear signal that had it wanted, the consulate would have been destroyed.

Trump had to back down

This was the reality that President Trump had to wrestle with when addressing the American people regarding the state of hostilities between the US and Iran.

Trump had previously promised a massive retaliation should Iran attack any US personnel or facilities. Surrounded by his national security team, Trump had to back down from that threat, knowing full well that if he were to attack Iran, the Iranian response would be devastating for both the US and its regional allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The US might be able to inflict unimaginable devastation on Iran, but the cost paid would be unacceptably high.

Trump’s rhetoric was aggressive, however, and his message made it clear that the US still considered Iran to be a rogue state whose pursuit of nuclear technology, ballistic missiles, and regional dominance would be opposed by the US, with force if necessary. But the Iranian missile attack drove home the new reality that, when it came to Iran’s actions in the Persian Gulf, American Presidential rhetoric no longer held sway as it once did.

Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, drove this point home in a series of tweets claiming to have “slapped” the US in the face for its assassination of Soleimani, emphasizing that the policies pursued by Soleimani seeking the withdrawal of the US from the Persian Gulf region were becoming a reality, citing the recent vote by the Iraqi parliament to evict all foreign troops, including those of the US, from its soil.

President Trump, in his address to the American people, certainly talked the talk when it came to articulating a strong anti-Iranian policy. The real question is whether Trump and the American people are prepared to walk the walk, especially in a world where Iranian missiles are capable of dealing death and destruction on a scope and scale previously unimaginable.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 3 Comments

A Terrorist Attack Against Eurasian Integration

By Federico Pieraccini | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 6, 2020

The murder of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, in the early hours of January 3 by US forces, only highlights the extent to which US strategy in the Middle East has failed. It is likely to provoke reactions that do not benefit US interests in the region.

To understand the significance of this event, it is necessary to quickly reconstruct the developments in Iraq. The US has occupied Iraq for 17 years, following its invasion of the country in 2003. During this time, Baghdad and Tehran have re-established ties by sustaining an important dialogue on post-war reconstruction as well as by acknowledging the importance of the Shia population in Iraq.

Within two decades, Iraq and Iran have gone from declaring war with each other to cooperating on the so-called Shia Crescent, favoring cooperation and the commercial and military development of the quartet composed of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Such ties, following recent victories over international terrorism, have been further consolidated, leading to current and planned overland connections between this quartet.

Local movements and organizations have been calling for US troops to leave Iraqi territory with increasing vigor and force in recent months. Washington has accused Tehran of inciting associated protests.

At the same time, groups of dubious origin, that have sought to equate the Iranian presence with the American one, have been calling for the withdrawal of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) that are linked to Iran from Iraq. The protests from such groups appear to be sponsored and funded by Saudi Arabia.

With mutual accusations flying around, the US hit a pro-Iranian faction known as Kataib Hezbollah on December 29. This episode sparked a series of reactions in Iraq that ended up enveloping the US embassy in Baghdad, which was besieged for days by demonstrators angry about ongoing airstrikes by US forces.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, blamed this volatile situation on Iran, warning that Tehran would be held responsible for any escalation of the situation involving the embassy.

In the early hours of January 3, 2020, another tangle was added to the Gordian Knot that is the Middle East. Qasem Soleimani was assassinated when his convoy was attacked by a drone near Baghdad International Airport. The most effective opponents of ISIS and Wahabi jihadism in general was thus eliminated by the US in a terrorist act carried out in a foreign country in a civilian area (near Baghdad International Airport). The champagne would have no doubt been flowing immediately upon receiving this news in the US Congress, the Israeli Knesset, Riyadh royal palace and in Idlib among al Nusra and al Qaeda militants.

It remains to be seen what the reasons were behind Trump’s decision to okay the assassination of such an influential and important leader. Certainly the need to demonstrate to his base (and his Israeli and Saudi financiers) plays into his anti-Iranian crusade. But there are other reasons that better explain Trump’s actions that are more related to the influence of the US in the region; the geopolitical chess game in the Middle East transcends any single leader or any drone attack.

In Syria, for example, the situation is extremely favorable to the government in Damascus, with it only being a matter of time before the country is again under the control of the central government. General Soleimani and Iran have played a central role in ridding the country of the scourge of terrorism, a scourge directed and financed by the US and her regional allies.

In Iraq, the political situation is less favorable to the US now than it was back in 2006. Whatever progress in relations between Baghdad and Tehran has also been due to General Soleimani, who, together with the PMUs and the Iraqi army, freed the country from ISIS (which was created and nurtured by Western and Saudi intelligence, as revealed by Wikileaks).

It would seem that the US sanctions against Iran have not really had the intended effect, instead only serving to consolidate the country’s stance against imperialism. The US, as a result, is experiencing a crisis in the region, effectively being driven out of the Middle East, rather than leaving intentionally.

In this extraordinary and unprecedented situation, the Russians and Chinese are offering themselves variously as military, political and economic guarantors of the emerging Eurasian mega-project (the recent naval exercises between Beijing, Moscow and Tehran serving as a tangible example of this commitment). Naturally, it is in their interests to avoid any extended regional conflict that may only serve to throw a monkey wrench into their vast Eurasian mega-project.

Putin and Xi Jinping face tough days ahead, trying to council Iran in avoiding an excessive response that would give Washington the perfect excuse for a war against Iran.

The prospects of a region without terrorism, with a reinvigorated Shia Crescent, led by Iran at the regional level and accompanied by China and Russia at the economic (Belt and Road Initiative) and military level, offer little hope to Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Washington of being able to influence events in the region and this is likely going to be the top argument that Putin and Xi Jinping will use to try to deter any Iranian overt response.

Deciding to kill the leader of the Quds Force in Iraq proves only one thing: that the options available to Trump and his regional allies are rapidly shrinking, and that the regional trends over the next decade appear irreversible. Their only hope is for Tehran and her allies to lash out at the latest provocation, thereby justifying the regional war that would only serve to benefit Washington by slowing down regional unification under Iranian leadership.

We must remember that whenever the US finds itself in a situation where it cannot control a country or a region, its tendency is to create chaos and ultimately destroy it.

By killing General Soleimani, the US hopes to wreak havoc in the region so as to slow down or altogether scupper any prospect of integration. Fortunately, China, Russia and Iran are well aware that any conflict would not be in any of their own interests.

No drone-launched missiles will be enough to save the US from decades of foreign-policy errors and their associated horrors; nor will they be enough to extinguish the memory of a hero’s tireless struggle against imperialism and terrorism.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump’s Fatal Mistake in Iraq and Beginning of End for US Occupation

Iraqi PMU commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad following their defeat of ISIS in 2017 (Photo: Patrick Henningsen 2017©)
By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire | January 3, 2020

The United States may have just worn out its welcome in Iraq. Whatever comes next will be laid at the feet of the Trump Presidency.

As a result of a series of disastrous moves by US central command, the region now faces the very real prospect of another multinational conflagration in the Middle East, which could include a direct military confrontation between the US and Iran.

How It Began

This past Sunday December 29th, just before the New Year rang in, President Donald Trump gave the order to bomb an Iraqi military base, killing and wounding a number of Iraqi military personnel, including Iraqi Army officers, Iraqi police, as well as soldiers belonging to the People’s Mobilization Unit (PMUs). US Air Force F-15E fighters struck five targets located in Iraq and along the Syria-Iraq border, all said to be controlled by an ‘Iranian-backed paramilitary group,’ according to the Pentagon.

According to Washington defense spokespersons, Sunday’s US airstrike was supposedly in response to a rocket attack which struck the “K1” joint US-Iraqi military base located in Kirkuk in north Iraq, which happened just two days before on Friday December 27th, killing one U.S. defense contractor, and one Iraqi police officer, as well as wounding a further 4 US defense contractors, and 3 Iraqi Army officers. US officials claim they had intelligence which confirmed  that Friday’s rocket attack near Kirkuk was the work of “Iranian militia,” therefore holding the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible. However, no evidence was presented by the US in relation to the claim.

In response to the US bombing its facility on Sunday, Iraqi protesters, including friends and family of fallen soldiers killed in the US bombing raid, and led by Iraqi PMU members and their supporters, stormed the outer perimeter of the US embassy in Baghdad located inside the infamous US-controlled Green Zone. Many US embassy staff were evacuated or airlifted from the compound, and an additional detachment of 100 US Marines were called in as reinforcements, along with an additional 750 troops from fast battalion 82nd Airborne Division sent to Kuwait preparing to go into Iraq. US combat helicopters circled overhead, as well as around the entire Green Zone and over civilians neighborhoods in Baghdad. This move was not received well by the Iraqi government who forbid such US military patrols as part of their status of forces agreement for the country. The siege lasted until News Years Eve on December 31st, before the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Mukhabarat internal security eventually arrived to disperse the angry crowds.

Following the embarrassing scenes at the US embassy on New Years Eve, Washington promised retribution. What followed could very well be the trigger for a renewed war in Iraq, and which may likely result in US forces and personnel eventually being asked (or forced) to leave the country. On Wednesday January 2, 2020, the US launched another airstrike, targeting an access road leading to Baghdad International Airport, and reportedly killed Iranian Quds Force leader, General Qasem Soleimani, as well as senior Iraqi PMU commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, according to reports by Iraqi TV.

Both Soleimani and al-Muhandis are considered to be among Iran and Iraq’s most revered military figures, and their targeted assassinations by the US government will certainly be viewed as an act of war by a large portion of the Iraqi and Iranian populations, as well as their respective military and security apparatuses. In particular, al-Muhandis is regarded by many a hero in Iraqi’s hard-fought victory over ISIS in 2017.

Iraqi cabinet officials and parliamentarians have been meeting over the last 48 hours to discuss reviewing the status of their cooperation agreement with the United States which allows for intelligence sharing and US training and technical assistance for Iraqi military divisions. Whether this escalates into officials calling for the US military and its 20,000 troops and defense personnel to pack up and leave the country – remains to be seen.

It should go without saying that this provocative military action by the United States means that US troops and personnel may no longer be safe operating in Iraq.

Questioning US ‘Intelligence’

In order to grasp the full gravity of what the Trump Administration has just done, it’s essential to consider these events in historical context, as the latest reckless move in a long line of US failures in Iraq.

According to veteran Middle East correspondent Elijah Magnier, “The United States of America has fallen into the trap of its own disinformation policy, as exemplified by the work of one of its leading strategic study centres, a neocon think tank promoting war on Iran.”

Magnier adds, “Analysts’ wishful thinking overwhelmed their sense of reality, notably the possibility of realities invisible to them. They fell into the same trap of misinformation and ignorance that has shaped western opinion since the occupation of Iraq in 2003. The invasion of Iraq was justified by the presence of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ which never existed.”

According to Iraqi officials, at the time of the initial rocket attack on Dec 27th, it was not clear who had actually fired on the K1 joint base. Regardless, a number of data points strongly indicate that the US had already decided who it would be targeting.

According to the New York Times, “President Trump was briefed by Defense Department leaders on Saturday, and allowed the strikes to proceed. Senior officials including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Sunday for discussions with the president, American officials said.”

The US had already taken the decision to bomb Iraq before any joint investigation could be conducted between the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the US authorities. Soon after the Mar-a-lago meeting, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called acting Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to inform him the US was not interested in working with Baghdad to find out what happened and who had fired the rockets. Esper told the Iraqi PM that Washington had already received “intelligence” from its trusted sources which said the rocket attack was carried out by a branch of the Iraqi PMUs known as Katiab Hezbollah (no relation to Lebanon’s Hezbollah defense force). It should be noted that these PMU brigades are composed of Iraqi citizens who serve under the official Iraqi military command headquartered in Baghdad. Because this PMU division’s membership is composed of Shia Muslims, United States officials and the US mainstream media have taken the liberty of labeling them as “Iranian militia” – a blatant falsehood, but one which has been disseminated by US officials in order to infer these are somehow ‘Iranian proxies’ and proceeded to pin the alleged responsibility of the initial rocket attack on Iran, in effect, justifying the heavy-handed US retaliation on Sunday, and Washington’s targeted assassinations of Qasem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on January 2nd.

To date, US officials have provided no evidence to support their claim that the rocket attack on Dec 27th was carried out by Katiab Hezbollah PMUs, nor has the US given any specifics as to the provenance of its ‘intelligence’ which attributed blame to PMUs. If this was indeed a rush to judgement, it would not be the first time the US has perpetrated an act of war against a sovereign state based on faulty, and less than credible intelligence. The recent OPCW leaks have demonstrated beyond any doubt that the US-led airstrikes against Syria in April of 2018 were based on misinformation of a supposed ‘chemical attack’ just days earlier in Douma, Syria on April 7, 2018.

Upon closer review, it’s now clear that what the US claimed it was doing, does not actually match the actions which it had undertaken on Dec 29th. In addition, the US bombing raid on Dec 29th will also have aided ISIS. Magnier explains the obvious US disconnect here:

Mr Abdel Mahdi asked Esper if the US has “proof against Kataeb Hezbollah to share so Iraq can arrest those responsible for the attack on K1”. No response: Esper told Abdel Mahdi that the US was “well-informed” and that the attack would take place “in a few hours”.

In less than half an hour, US jets bombed five Iraqi security forces’ positions deployed along the Iraqi-Syrian borders, in the zone of Akashat, 538 kilometres from the K1 military base (that had been bombed by perpetrators still unknown). The US announced the attack but omitted the fact that in these positions there were not only Kataeb Hezbollah but also Iraqi Army and Federal Police officers. Most victims of the US attack were Iraqi army and police officers. Only 9 officers of Kataeb Hezbollah – who joined the Iraqi Security Forces in 2017 – were killed. These five positions had the task of intercepting and hunting down ISIS and preventing the group’s militants from crossing the borders from the Anbar desert. The closest city to these bombed positions is al-Qaem, 150 km away.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the US and allies have targeted an Iraqi PMU facility and tried to label it as “Iranian.” Back in September, 21WIRE reported how Israel and Saudi Arabia were reported to have launched supposed ‘retaliatory’ airstrikes against “pro-Iranian militias” stationed along the border between Syria and Iraq. This was reported by the Jerusalem Post at the time:

“Saudis, Israel attack pro-Iran militias on Syria-Iraq border,” and adding that,“Saudi fighter jets have been spotted along with other fighter jets that have attacked facilities and positions belonging to Iranian militias.”

21WIRE also noted how the Jerusalem Post had compiled their report citing multiple sources, including pieces of information from the Independent Arabia, Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They reported air strikes hitting targets over the course of that week, killing 31, after hitting what they called “Iranian-backed” Iraqi Hash’d Shaabi (PMUs) positions along the Iraqi-Syria border.

“On Wednesday, five people were killed and another nine were wounded in an airstrike carried out by unidentified aircraft that targeted positions of the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces militia in Albukamal, according to Sky News Arabia.”

Why this is crucial, is because it demonstrates previous form by Israel and Saudi Arabia – against near identical targets which the US bombed on Dec 29. It stands to reason then, that the ‘intelligence’ source for both attacks, on Sept 19th, and Dec 29th, seem to be related, deriving from either Israel or Saudi Arabia – both of which are heavily biased against Iran, and viewed it as an existential threat to their own regional geopolitical and military hegemony. In the case of Israel, it has played a visible role in directing US policy regarding Iran since the onset of the Trump Administration. It was Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu who boasted about his role in convincing the White House to unilaterally withdrawal from the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

It’s also important to note with the US bombing raid on Sunday Dec 29th, the Iraqi bases hit along the Syrian-Iraqi border are located approximately 540km from Kirkuk, far away from where the US claim that Kaitab Hezbollah PMUs had fired the initial rocket attack on Dec 27th – which means that those US targets played no role in Friday’s rocket attack on K1, and more likely had already been selected in advance of Dec 27th, and the US was simply waiting for the right ‘incident’ to green-light a military attack on what it claims to be “Iranian” military targets.

Again, the fact that the US insists on mislabeling its supposed enemy means that nothing productive can come out of the latest series of events – unless Washington considers another full-scale war in Iraq a productive endeavor – a proposition which many would not find that far-flung considering America’s tawdry record in the region.

Iraqi PMUs Defeated ISIS in 2017

In order to properly understand the Iraqi military and PMU’s reaction to this ham-fisted US attack on Iraqi soil, it is important to understand who are the Iraqi People’s Mobilization Units (PMUs), aka the Hash’d al-Shabbi, or ‘Hasheed’ for short. This is the new national militia of Iraq and are the very same soldiers who have fought and died against ISIS for ultimately defeating their terrorist occupation in late 2017. The PMUs were formed in response to the emergence of ISIS and the fall of Mosul in June 2014. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa in the summer of 2014, which called on all able-bodied men of fighting age to form a coalition of national militias, roughly 130,000 strong, to fight back against ISIS after it had routed the Iraq Army during ISIS’s summer blitzkrieg which saw several key cities taken by the terrorist army, as they headed dangerously close to the capital city Baghdad.

Based on the rhetoric and media coverage we are seeing this week, it’s painfully obvious that few, if any, within the ranks of American foreign policy ‘experts’ and national security journalists, are really aware of this reality on the ground in Iraq. It is widely acknowledged in Iraq, and in the region, that the PMUs played the decisive role in defeating ISIS and securing liberated communities in the latter stages of the country’s terrorist ordeal. It’s important to note also that tens of thousands of Iraqis, including Iraqi Army, Police, Iraqi civilians, and Iraqi PMUs – including these very same PMU units who the US has killed this week – have all died, sacrificing their lives for their country in the fight against the foreign-backed terrorist menace. For the United States political leadership and mainstream media to crassly label them as “Iranian militias,” is to rob Iraqis of an important national victory and strip them of their agency.

As we can now see from the incredible scenes at the US embassy on Tuesday, Washington’s ignorance of the reality on the ground in Iraq has come at a heavy price.

Since its opening in 2008, the new US embassy has not faced any serious challenge to its structural integrity. It is not just any embassy either – it is the world’s largest and most expensive embassy ever constructed, covering a total of 104 acres which is roughly the size of Vatican City, and houses 5,000 embassy staff, military and intelligence personnel. Iraqi protesters breached its outer security walls and main gate, and proceeded to lay waste the embassy’s periphery structures, before pinning down US Marines guarding the compound inside the foyer of one of the outer reception buildings. Now that this facility has been compromised, it can no longer be relied on as the ‘fortress America’ and forward operating station it has been for the past decade.

Trump and Washington’s Fundamental Error

Another important takeaway from all of this is for Americans to realize that Iran posed no national security threat to the United States, but Washington’s insistence on framing every incident in the region as “the work of the Iranian regime” means that forces in Washington desperately want war, and now they can’t hide their agenda. This drive is most certainly being spurred on by US allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. From an imperialist standpoint, the US and its allies do benefit geopolitically by keeping Iraq divided and weak – ensuring that it can never get back on its feet economically or politically to become influential in the region, and can never become close partners with its two most important neighbors Syria and Iran.

For Washington and Tel Aviv, the road to Tehran has always been through Baghdad, only we’re not in 2003 anymore, and the Middle East playing field has changed dramatically since that time, mostly as a direct consequence of US military and proxy aggression in the region.

Besides this, Iraqis are well aware by now that it is the United States and not Iran, who has already ruined their country for generations to come.

If Washington continues down this path, it could also lead to Trump’s downfall politically.

Unfortunately, Iraq is set again to become the pitch for another ugly geopolitical grudge match between the West and Iran. By showing its ugly hand, Washington has left its adversaries with little choice but to fight back this time.

***

Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq. See his archive here.

January 3, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pompeo Holds Talks with Netanyahu, MBS, MBZ on Iraq Strikes

Al-Manar | December 31, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he had discussions with the UN General Secretary, Israeli Prime Minister, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince over strikes that killed and injured dozens of Iraq’s Hashd Shaabi fighters.

Pompeo tweeted early on Tuesday (December 31) saying he had made clear to the UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres that the US airstrikes on Kata’ib Hezbollah facilities on Sunday were a “defensive action aimed at deterring Iran and protecting American lives”.

The United States launched a series of air attacks Sunday on targets both in Iraq and Syria killing at least 25 Kata’ib Hezbollah fighters and injuring 50 others. Washington claims that the strikes came after rocket attacks on facilities housing US military personnel in the Arab country.

Pompeo also discussed “the attacks on coalition forces” with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, later tweeting that the US “will continue to work together to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior”.

He told Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, “The US and Saudi Arabia will continue to work together to counter Iran’s malign behavior.”

Pompeo also had a “productive” call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, later tweeting, “We discussed US defensive strikes in Iraq and Syria to counter Iran’s threats. The U.S will take decisive action to defend its citizens and interests.”

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Nasrallah: Trump is on the verge of a stroke over Iran, Yemen is now a threat for Israel

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on November 11, 2019, on the occasion of Hezbollah’s Martyr Day, commemorating the operation against the headquarters of the Israeli forces in Tyre on November 11, 1982, which killed 75 occupying officers and soldiers.

With the translation of an extract from the last speech of Sayed Badr al-Dine al-Houthi, leader of the Ansar Allah, and a report by Al-Mayadeen on Yemen facing Israel.

Translated by resistancenews.org

Transcript:

[…] After having talked of martyrdom and resistance, allow me to come to the second part of my speech, where I’ll just mention two points concerning the situation in the region in order to have time then to talk about the situation in Lebanon. I will only mention two points that are of paramount importance. It’s been quite a while that I have not addressed the situation in the region, and there would be a lot of important things to say, but not having much time today, I will only address these two points.

The first point concerns Yemen, namely the historical stance which was announced from Yemen by the courageous and dignified leader Sayed Abd-al-Malik Badreddine al-Houthi during these last days, yesterday or the day before yesterday, on the occasion of the celebrations in Yemen commemorating the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, about the fight against the Israeli enemy. These statements have attracted the attention of the enemy’s leaders, and we also must mention them, as children of the Lebanese Resistance and peoples of Palestine and the region directly affected by the struggle against the Israeli enemy.

Two days ago, this noble jihadist leader announced in all clarity, in response to Israeli threats of strikes and aggression against Yemen, addressing a huge audience (millions of people), about which I will also say a word. He said that if Israel attacks Yemen, Yemen will retaliate by forceful strikes. Strikes of the utmost violence. Yemen will not abstain from retaliating, and will do so without hesitation.

From where was this said? From Yemen. From San’aa. From Sa’ada. From the provinces of Yemen.

As well, he said that Yemen’s struggle against the Israeli enemy was based on their faith, religion, humanitarian values and ethical, moral and religious obligations. I say this because (our enemies) are always trying to present the struggle as a political struggle, a (mere) rivalry between states, etc.

What is the significance of these statements? More often than not do we hear speakers, Imams, spokesmen of parties or groups of leaders from a particular location in the Arab-Muslim world, threatening the Zionists in their speeches. But with Yemen, it is much more than empty words because these threats come from the military leader of a front where the fighting has been raging for 5 years, who has been fighting (successfully) for 5 years against forces supported by the US, Britain and the West in general (France, etc.), against entire armies with their air force, enormous amounts of mercenaries, and very broad fronts.

This threat was issued by an officer commanding a front that now has very modern and sophisticated weapons, whether missiles, drones, etc., and who has the courage to use these missiles and these drones, and did use them on the ground, and challenged the whole world (by its devastating effects on the Saudi oil production). And all this happened while Yemen is abandoned, oppressed, and in self-defense (against Muslim countries, so imagine what could happen in other circumstances, if Yemen was to seriously attack Israel).

This threat was issued by the leader of a front whose fighters are fighting on a great many fronts and achieve stunning victories in military terms, almost miraculous. The latest operation was the ‘Divine victory’ (which destroyed three entire brigades, with hundreds killed and thousands of prisoners from Saudi forces).

Therefore, we are talking about a leader who has high credibility, and has proven his ability to follow through on his threats. Because he always did what he said and what he promised.

The Israelis have paid much attention to that. In the (history of the) Arab and Muslim world, there have been a lot of pompous but vain speeches, that have led to nothing, either in fact or even among Israeli leaders or media. But we have seen the profound effect that this recent speech from Yemen had within the enemy entity. Why? Because it is issued by an extremely serious and credible force, which proved itself, earned its spurs (and stunned the world).

This is not something new coming from the Houthis, but it’s a very clear announcement, very frank and very strong, which greatly concerns Israel. This clearly announces the addition of a very important and very powerful element in the Axis of Resistance: Yemen. The Yemen of faith, wisdom, endurance, steadfastness, jihad and victories. This was announced in a clear and explicit way. And Yemen is quite capable of hitting Israel hard. The peoples of our region and the Resistance movements should be proud of this announcement, and welcome happily this new important and strategic element of strength. Because Yemen, the Yemeni stance, the strategic importance of the Red Sea and Yemen’s ability to reach the enemy entity, as well as the secret al-Houthi kept regarding his intentions, and the targets and locations that would be hit with extreme strikes… All this is of great importance.

Also, the enemy must know that this is the new strategic environment he faces today, the very one he always feared and strove to prevent with the United States and the whole world (i.e. a military alliance of Arab-Muslim countries against Israel), so that our peoples would forget Palestine and hostility toward Israel, abandon this cause, be silent (against the oppression of the Palestinians) and reconsider (their relations with Israel). This is a new force that joins the ranks of the Resistance, a new country, in a new geographical area, with great credibility and great enthusiasm (for the Liberation of Palestine), battle-hardened, incredibly effective and with incommensurate courage, and this force now fully integrates the front of the struggle against Israel. It is a development of great importance. Some may not realize the importance of this event, but the Israeli enemy and the children of the Resistance are perfectly aware of it.

The other aspect of this point is the huge Yemeni popular masses who attended the event. It was not a simple press conference. I also want to stress in two minutes the importance of this popular massive presence. You may have seen these enormous events, although most TV channels have ignored them, millions-wide gatherings. Gigantic rallies, whether at San’aa, Jeddah … sorry, not in Jeddah (city of Saudi Arabia), maybe one day with God’s grace… At San’aa, Sa’da, Hajja, in different cities of Yemen, we could see these massive rallies that fill us with joy, without any camera manipulation transforming 1,000 people into 10,000 or 100,000. Hundreds of thousands of people attended, under the sun, in the middle of the day, for hours, standing or sitting on the bare floor and on the streets, not in a room, on chairs, in a place with air conditioning nor anything like that, with the constant risk of an aerial bombardment, the country being at war (and with recurring massacres), but they sat for hours and listened to their leader, supporting his stance and vision.

This huge rally, this spectacular scene, is a treat for me and amazed me: in the sun, a gathering so massive in conditions so difficult, demonstrates his boundless love for the Prophet Muhammad, God’s blessings be upon him and his family. This demonstrates the extent of their faith when we speak of the Yemen of faith.

Similarly, and I will conclude this point with that, this is a very strong political message: a whole people, after 5 years of (ruthless) war, tens of thousands of martyrs at least, between civilians and combatants, and hundreds of thousands of Yemenis threatened with death by cholera, disease, famine, etc., an economically and financially beleaguered country, and a government that has often not even enough to pay its civil servants, and is subject to the greatest difficulties, threats, intimidation, abandoned by all (with the exception of Iran and Hezbollah), but despite all this, they attend these commemorations so massively to affirm their commitment and determination, and they directed this strong message to all the tyrants of the world: you strive to frighten & to despair our people, to send us backwards and see us sink into poverty, famine, misery and blockade, to make us abandon our Prophet, our faith, our religion, our freedom, our dignity, our holy sites or our root cause (Palestine), but we will never do that, ever. The Yemeni people proves this, and addresses this message to the world.

And it’s the same for other peoples of the region. I say and repeat it, here lies the secret of the strength of the Axis of Resistance to which we belong. An Axis whose real strength lies in his faith, his doctrine, his soul, his love for God and the Messenger of God, his belief in humanitarian causes, his belief in the importance of holy places (and the absolute need to liberate them), his high readiness for sacrifice.

All this does not depend at all on money, prosperity or gains that we can secure, not any more than on achievements on a personal level, enjoyment or pleasure (the very things Trump wants to deprive us of through his maximum sanctions against Iran and Lebanon), even if they are legitimate quests in this world and the next, to which every man can and should legitimately aspire and achieve (for his comfort), but this does not weigh anything at all on our core impulses, principles and stances.

The other point (I want to mention) is the Islamic Republic of Iran. In recent months, the specter of a war (between the US and Iran) haunted the region. Everyone assumed it was inevitable, and some regional countries did all their calculations on the assumption of an American war against Iran. And I have already mentioned that unfortunately, some Lebanese forces (Hezbollah opponents) also made their calculations based on this assumption.

I can say today that this possibility, even if I cannot state categorically that it is 100% off the table, I can say that it strayed 99.99%. All countries, peoples and competitor Axes in the region must do their calculations on that basis. Whoever counted on such a war must forget this hypothesis. And actually, we can see a change of rhetoric from several countries in the region and some Gulf countries that were hostile and aggressive towards the Islamic Republic, but I will not give their names now.

Similarly, in this respect, Iran’s steadfastness became clear after all this time has passed since Trump left the nuclear deal and imposed severe sanctions on Tehran, but Iran stood firm and overcame this predicament. Of course, this does not mean that Iran does not face difficulties, but Iran managed to overcome them.

Today, strategic observers in the United States and the West, and even within the (Zionist) enemy entity, publish analyses that argue that the strategy of Trump against Iran failed. For what was the Trump strategy? Exiting the Iranian nuclear deal, imposing sanctions on Iran, trying to make Iran collapse from within, putting pressure on Iran and constantly threatening imminent war to intimidate Iran and to make it come to the negotiating table. That was the Trump strategy.

The possibility of war is no more, Iran has held firm and overcame the difficulties (consecutive to the US withdrawal from the nuclear) Deal, and for a year, Trump has been holding the line, (waiting for Iran to call or pick up the phone), but he is deluded. It will never happen. This strategy has clearly failed. Today, Iran comes out powerful, strengthened, capable, dignified and ready to face (the challenges), to assume its leading role in the region and to support the causes and peoples of the region.

I recently read an amusing information, and I told myself that when Trump will learn about it, he will become enraged and have a heart attack. Because you know that all that matters for Trump is oil and dollars, money, nothing else. We saw that in Syria, in the East of the Euphrates, he forsook his allies in the blink of an eye, while they had fought with him and alongside him, and he justified this move at length, saying that the Kurds had not fought at their side in Normandy (in 1944). This is a ridiculous argument.

But he eventually reconsidered his decision to withdraw US troops from the East of the Euphrates and maintained them. Why? To seize the Eastern oil fields of the Euphrates. For Trump, only oil matters. Do not believe that for him, oil is more valuable and more important than the rest, no: in his eyes, nothing else has any value at all. The human, even if he is an ally, a friend and a comrade, is worthless to him: Trump is ready to forsake him at any time.

I refer to the discovery of a huge oilfield in Iran: we all saw yesterday His Eminence the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sheikh Rouhani, who officially announced the discovery of a huge oil field, a priori containing 53 billion barrels of oil! 53 billion barrels of oil! It’s definitely a heart attack for Trump! I’ve done the math: if Iran extracts, when it begins to exploit these oil fileds with God’s grace, 1 million barrels per day, how long will it take for this deposit to be exhausted? How many generations will come to pass before it is exhausted? I will not give you the result in years because I’d be afraid to be mistaken in my calculations…

His Eminence (Rouhani) explained that the area of ​​the oil field is 2,400 square kilometers, is located in the Khuzestan region, south-west of the country, and that the width of underground oil layer is up to 80 meters. And most importantly, he stressed that the process of discovery of these oil deposits has been conducted by the National Iranian Oil Company, and lasted from 2016 to last week. So it was made by an Iranian national company of experts and Iranian specialists (not foreign). I deliberately emphasize this aspect in view of what I will say then about the Lebanese situation [reference to a widely disseminated fake news according to which a Revolutionary Guard commander threatened to destroy Israel from Lebanon: Nasrallah stressed that Iran does everything by itself, and does not need to hide behind anyone].

So, today, thank God, Iran comes out… Experts and economists believe that the value of the discovered deposit is estimated, based on the current price of oil, at more than 3 trillion dollars. I must tell Trump about both the number of barrels of oil and the dollar value, to make his heart attack complete…

In the Middle East, the heart of the Axis of Resistance (Iran) comes out of the risk of US war and overcomes the worst stage of its history more powerful and capable, and God Almighty bestows on this country these resources and this new horizon. […]

See also:

Nasrallah about the war in Yemen: Saudi Arabia & UAE will be annihilated

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December 28, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nobody Is Touching US-Occupied Syrian Oil With a 6 Foot Pole — Saudi Aramco Denies Sending Experts

By Marko Marjanović | Checkpoint Asia | December 26, 2019

Claims emerged last week that Saudi Aramco was looking to get US-occupied oil fields in eastern Syria back to capacity:

 

  

 

 

 

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , | 2 Comments

UN reiterates that it can’t verify US allegations against Iran in Aramco attacks

Press TV – December 20, 2019

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo has reiterated earlier remarks by the UN General Secretary that the body cannot verify US claims blaming Iran for attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities.

DiCarlo made remarks during a UN Security Council briefing on the eighth report of the Secretary General on the implementation of resolution 2231 which endorsed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

“At this time, we are unable to independently corroborate that the cruise missiles, or the recovered components we inspected, are of Iranian origin,” she said speaking of alleged missile debris related to the September 14 attack on the oil facilities.

“We have recently received confirmation that some of the cruise missile components were, in fact, not made by the identified manufacturers but could have been copies,” she added.

DiCarlo also said the Secretariat is “unable to independently corroborate” whether drones used in the operation were of “Iranian origin”.

The attacks, which successfully halved the Saudi kingdom’s oil production, were claimed by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and were in response to Riyadh’s nearly five-year onslaught against the country.

The operation displayed a significant advancement in Yemeni military capabilities, successfully striking one of Riyadh’s most important and also most heavily protected assets.

Washington, however, which has provided the bulk of Saudi Arabia’s air defense systems, was quick to blame Iran following the attack without providing any conclusive evidence to back up its claims.

Washington’s allegations against Tehran came at a time when Saudi officials had said that they lacked enough information to identify the perpetrator of the attack.

Washington’s jump to blame Tehran for the attack came as the operation, conducted by Yemen’s ragtag military forces, was widely seen to be undermining the efficiency of Washington’s much-prized Patriot surface-to-air missile systems deployed in Saudi Arabia.

Two days following the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed to the utter failure of the US defense systems, mockingly suggesting that Saudis may be better off buying Russian-made missile defense systems.

Washington insists on blaming Iran

On Thursday, Washington claimed that it had obtained new evidence blaming Iran for the attack.

A US report, cited by Reuters, said Washington “assessed that before hitting its targets, one of the drones traversed a location approximately 200 km to the northwest of the attack site”.

“This, in combination with the assessed 900 kilometer maximum range of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), indicates with high likelihood that the attack originated north of Abqaiq,” the report said, referring to the location of one of the oil facilities.

Speaking with Reuters, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said the newly-declassified information proved that Iran was behind the operation.

“As many nations have concluded, there are no plausible alternatives to Iranian responsibility,” he said.

Hook’s comments come despite the fact that Washington’s own report stopped short of claiming that Iran was the origin of the attack.

“At this time, the US Intelligence Community has not identified any information from the recovered weapon systems used in the 14 September attacks on Saudi Arabia that definitively reveals an attack origin,” Reuters quoted the report as saying.

Addressing the Security Council on Thursday, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi vehemently rejected Washington’s accusations regarding the Aramco operation.

He also described US sanctions on Iran as being “economic terrorism” targeting ordinary people as well as different sectors of the Iranian economy.

UN slams US JCPOA withdrawal

Speaking on Thursday, DiCarlo also urged for the full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to “secure tangible economic benefit to the Iranian people”.

“We therefore regret the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA in May 2018,” she added.

Washington reimposed economic sanctions which had been lifted under the deal after withdrawing from the deal last year.

“Certain actions taken by the United States, since its withdrawal from the Plan, are contrary to the goals of the Plan,” she said.

“The reimposition of its national sanctions lifted under the Plan, as well as its decision not to extend waivers for the trade in oil with Iran and certain non-proliferation projects, may also impede the ability of Iran and other Member States to implement the Plan and 2231,” she added.

The UN official said Iran has stated that the suspension of its JCPOA commitments in response to the failure of signatories of the JCPOA to uphold the agreement, “are reversible and that it intends to remain in the Plan”.

“In this regard, the recent decisions by Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway to also join the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) are positive developments,” she added.

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 20 Comments

Saudi Arabia reads the riot act to Imran Khan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 17, 2019

The Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 hosted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on December 18-21 was originally conceived as a landmark event in the politics of the Muslim world. It still is, albeit on a wet wicket struggling to tackle a nasty googly that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan threw at the event at the last minute.  

To recap, the idea of the KL Summit was born out of a trilateral pow-vow between Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed and Pakistan’s Imran Khan in September on the sidelines of the UN GA session in New York.

The common perception of the three countries was that the Muslim World failed to react forcefully enough to the emergent situation affecting the Kashmiri Muslims. Pakistan actively promoted the perception that the leadership of the ummah was not reacting forcefully enough over Muslim issues such as Kashmir.

On November 23, while announcing his decision to host the KL Summit, Mahathir said that the new platform hoped to bring together Islamic leaders, scholars and clerics who would propose solutions to the many problems facing the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims. He disclosed that dignitaries attending the KL Summit would include Erdogan, the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and Imran Khan.

The role of politics in development, food security, preserving national identity, and redistributing wealth were listed as other topics to be discussed, alongside the expulsion of Muslims from their homelands and the categorisation of Islam as the “religion of terrorism”.

In poignant remarks, Mahathir bemoaned that no Muslim country was fully developed, and that some Islamic nations were “failed states”. He said,

“Why is there this problem? There must be a reason behind this. We can only know the reason if we get the thinkers, the scholars, and the leaders to give their observations and viewpoints.

“Perhaps we can take that first step … to help Muslims recover their past glories, or at least to help them avoid the kind of humiliation and oppression that we see around the world today.”

Importantly, Mahathir described the summit as a meeting of minds that had the “same perception of Islam and the problems faced by the Muslims”.

From among the list of invitees, it now turns out that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be attending tomorrow’s summit, but King Salman of Saudi Arabia has regretted that the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) is being bypassed.

Mahathir disclosed that King Salman  conveyed to him in a phone conversation that it was better that the Muslim issues were discussed in a full-fledged OIC meeting. Mahathir said laconically,

“He (King Salman) wanted to tell me the reasons why he couldn’t make it. He’s afraid that something not good will happen to the Muslims. He has a different opinion from us. He feels that matters like these (Muslim issues) shouldn’t just be discussed by two or three countries, and there should be an OIC meeting and I agreed with him.”

The testy exchange signalled that the Saudi regime sees the KL Summit as a calculated challenge to its leadership of the ummah and as an initiative about laying the foundations for an Islamic alliance.

Mahathir is outspoken but what is less noticed is that his positions actually align closely with those of Turkey and Pakistan. These include the Palestinian question, the situation in Jammu & Kashmir and the persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar.

According to the Malaysian news agency Bernama, the KL Summit “aims to revive Islamic civilization, deliberate (over) and find new and workable solutions for problems afflicting the Muslim world, contribute (to) the improvement of the state of affairs among Muslims and Muslim nations, and form a global network between Islamic leaders, intellectuals, scholars, and thinkers.”

In sheer brain power, Saudi Arabia cannot match such an agenda. A sense of frustration has been building up over the past decade or so among the Muslim countries that the OIC is reduced to an appendage of the Saudi foreign policies. Saudi Arabia’s rift with Qatar, its rivalries with Iran, the brutal war in Yemen, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, etc.  also seriously dented Riyadh’s image in the most recent years.

Of course, Saudis hold a big purse and that still translates as influence but the new Islamic forum is poised to move in a direction that is progressive and far more inspiring, with plans to pursue joint projects, including, eventually, the introduction of a common currency.

Mahathir is on record that this mini-Islamic conference could turn into a much grander initiative down the road. Such optimism cannot be disregarded since a growing number of Muslim-majority countries harbour great unease over the near-term prospect of the ascendancy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the Saudi king and the next Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

Saudi Arabia, anticipating the gambit being thrown down by Mahathir has reacted viciously to undercut the KL Summit. It tore into the summit’s ‘soft underbelly’ by reading the riot act to Imran Khan,  which put the fear of god into Imran Khan and how it happened we do not know, but the great cricketer panicked and has since called Mahathir to regret that he cannot attend the KL Summit.

No doubt, it is a big insult to Mahathir’s personal prestige but as the old adage says, beggars cannot be choosers and Imran Khan is left with no choice but to obey the Saudi diktat like a vassal.

With Imran Khan staying away, Mahathir is left to host his counterparts from Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Indonesia. The fizz has gone out of the KL Summit. Nonetheless, Mahathir is not the type of person to forget and forgive. His initial reaction to Imran Khan’s cowardly behaviour shows studied indifference, betraying his sense of hurt.

Pakistan is ultimately the loser here, as its credibility has been seriously dented. Imran Khan was the original promoter of the idea of the three-way axis of Turkey-Pakistan-Malaysia. But to be fair, his modest agenda was to create an exclusive India-baiting regional forum that he can use at will, whereas Mahathir turned it into an unprecedented Islamic forum that is independent of Saudi influence. Perhaps, Mahathir can only blame himself for the overreach.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s time for the international community to stop ‘recognising’ Hadi’s ‘government’

By Omar Ahmed | MEMO | December 14, 2019

In spite of having no substantial physical political presence in Yemen, and no formal armed forces on the ground, the media is insistent on running with the same, tired expression of “the internationally recognised legitimate government” of the fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has apparently been running the country from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, since he fled Yemen in 2015.

It has now been over a month since the signing of the Riyadh Agreement, which was hailed as ushering in peace in the south, not only among the warring factions of Hadi’s forces, which largely consists of Islamist, Islah militia and Sudanese mercenaries against the Security Belt forces, who are aligned with southern separatists, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), but it was also hoped to simmer down the tension between the patrons of these two parties, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) respectively, both partners in the anti-Houthi coalition in the north, but backing opposing sides in the south.

No longer ‘Iranian proxies’

It was also a month ago that I argued that this agreement will fall flat in its objectives, namely due to the fact that Hadi doesn’t have any concrete authority in Yemen, and the real political legitimacy lies with the National Salvation Government (NSG), which has been ruling the capital Sanaa since 2014. Its power-base was formed from of an alliance between the Ansar Allah movement, the Yemeni military and remnants of the General People’s Congress political party – however the same news outlets who are trying to convince us of the “internationally recognised” government, are the same ones peddling the misleading narrative, that the NSG are merely “Houthi rebels” or “Iranian proxies”, following Tehran’s orders.

Essentially, this agreement stalled the inevitability that the Saudis, and the wider international community, will have to accept the reality that the NSG (“Houthis”) are the legitimate government in Yemen. I am using the past-tense here because the agreement is void and no longer exists – it was signed on 5 November and included a 30-day deadline in forming a new cabinet of 24 members, equally split from the north and south. I concluded with the revelation that the Saudis had acknowledged that they had opened channels of communication with the Houthis.

In fact, a few days following the signing of the accord, the UAE minister of state for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, conceded that the Houthis will have a role in post-war Yemen. In more recent developments, Saudi foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, has suggestively indicated that the Houthis are in fact, a legitimate entity, stating “all Yemenis, including the Houthis have a role in the future of Yemen.”

It would now appear that the Trump administration has also done an ‘about-face’ on its policy on Yemen, having once framed the conflict as being an Iranian proxy war, they are now trying to downplay Iran’s involvement. Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, went from declaring in September that Iran was “controlling and deploying” the Houthis as a “terror front”, to now stating that “Iran clearly does not speak for the Houthis.” I mentioned back in September how this Iranian connection has been exaggerated and misrepresented by the media. One needs only to refer to a 2015 article which stated that Iran, for example, had in fact warned the Zaydi movement against taking over Sanaa. Indeed, the Houthis, as with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, are actually acting independently, albeit with assistance from Tehran.

Who speaks for the south?

The Riyadh Agreement was always problematic from the outset, because although on paper it was plausible, the reality on the ground, in particular in the interim capital city of Aden, was another thing entirely. There are constant reports of violent clashes between Hadi’s mercenaries and the southern separatist forces. Additionally, there has been a steady increase in assassinations across the city, with the STC hinting liability with Hadi’s associates. Hampering conciliatory efforts, the STC are also refusing to vacate the presidential palace in the city. There are also reports that the former president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen, Ali Nasser Mohammed, has warned the STC against plans to seize his home in Aden province, captured by the separatists last July.

It is important to recognise that the STC does not speak for all southerners, nor for the Southern Movement. There is the Southern National Salvation Council (SSC) based in Mahrah, who not only oppose both Saudi and Emirati interference in Yemen, but had opposed the Riyadh Agreement from its inception, noting that “the agreement gives legitimacy to regional militias affiliated abroad,” with reference to the STC.

The director of Human Rights for Yemen, Kim Sharif, explained to MEMO that the SSC is composed of the “original secessionists” and that the STC are widely regarded as a “traitor entity” by most southerners, as they are a party formed by the UAE who are using and exploiting the memory of the South Yemen state.

Illegitimacy of Hadi vs legitimacy of the NSG

Sharif agrees that the Hadi government lacks legitimacy, because following the election where he stood as the sole candidate, he was appointed as president for a transitional period of two years as part of the Gulf Initiative back in February 2012, reluctantly accepted by many, to avoid further bloodshed. Under the initiative, elections were to be held within the transitional period.

However, this failed to materialise and according to Sharif, under Hadi assassinations and terrorist attacks began to increase “funded by the Saudis,” and with a reliance on the Islah Party militia, who have close ties with General Mohsen Al-Ahmar, the vice president whose links to Al-Qaeda are well-documented. Hadi formerly resigned from the presidency in 2015, but has held onto the position ever since, giving him “zero legitimacy”.

“There’s no such thing as an ‘internationally recognised government’ under international law. This is sheer abuse of the terms of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and is a totally unacceptable trespass on the sovereignty of the state of Yemen,” Sharif continued.

Meanwhile, with regards to the legitimacy of the National Salvation Government based in Sanaa, Sharif described the 2014 takeover within the context of the failure by Hadi to carry out elections as per his mandate. Additionally, under International Customary Law, whomever takes control of the capital of any country is considered the “de facto” government. In order for this to be ratified, the government has to become “de jure”. Sharif argues that such a government must first follow an “internal legislation process”, which the Sanaa government has done by preserving national institutions, creating the Supreme Council, which includes all political parties including southern secessionists and operates within the existing constitution.

Furthermore, it is the Yemeni armed forces who are subservient to the NSG, in addition to the “Popular Committee” (Houthi fighters), who are the ones defending the nation against foreign aggression enacted by the Saudi-led coalition. These points and the fact that the NSG entered into the “Tribal Honour Agreement 2015” with all tribes, given that tribal rule still plays a vital role in Yemeni politics, ensures that the NSG based in Sanaa are the legitimate government in Yemen.

Although a southerner, Sharif herself is supportive of the NSG and AnsarAllah, as they have a common goal in liberating Yemen from the foreign aggression and occupation. The ultimate aim being “uniting all factions in the south with a view of freeing Yemen from all foreign occupation.”  She is confident that this movement will succeed “in partnership with our brothers and sisters in the north.”

International recognition

The National Salvation Government is not only arguably the legitimate government of Yemen. The Yemeni armed forces and its alliance with AnsarAllah has proven that they are indeed the most powerful entity in the country, with an ever-developing arsenal, they have recently announced an improved air defence system, capable of “neutralising” coalition aircraft up to a projected 90 per cent in the year ahead, which is significant as according to Yemeni military expert, Brigadier General Aziz Rashid, the coalition depends on aircraft for 85 per cent of its operations. They have shot down several drones in the past two weeks, in addition to an Apache helicopter belonging to the Saudis. Just today, at the time of writing, the Yemeni armed forces downed a Saudi spy plane over the Jizan region.

As the Riyadh Agreement gradually fades into obscurity, and the Saudis and its allies begin to sue for peace and pay for the damage that they caused, in the realisation that it is the Houthi government which is the legitimate power and authority in the country, it is high time that the international community start recognising this too, at the expense of the puppet government based in Riyadh headed by Hadi, who effectively has been held in captivity there and does not speak for the Yemeni people nor has control of the armed forces. Peace, stability and an end to the man-made humanitarian crisis is achievable with the help of this international community, who have been delusional for far too long.

READ ALSO:

Houthis: 1,000 children die every day due to Saudi-led aggression

Saudi-backed Yemen government and separatists miss Riyadh Agreement deadline

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment