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US using Khashoggi’s assassination to lessen influence of Muhammad bin Salman: Analyst

Press TV – November 15, 2018

American writer and academic James Petras says the United States is using journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination to create an environment that can lessen the influence of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

James Petras, author and political commentator, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Thursday while commenting on a report which says the US Senate is expected to vote on legislation aimed at punishing Saudi Arabia over its brutal war on Yemen as well as the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist at its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday that the upper chamber could vote on the resolution within weeks prior to the end of the year.

Corker said that the legislation seeks to stop all assistance to the Kingdom, adding measures to end arms sales to Riyadh would also be discussed at the Senate.

Petras said that it’s “very clear that there is a great deal of indignation in the US about the behavior of the so-called crown prince in Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, who has been involved in a number of assassinations, including of someone very close to the US government, and a very prominent participant in the Washington Post.”

“Some observers think he was collaborating with the CIA on keeping them informed on the inside struggles inside Saudi Arabia, and that was one of the reasons that Prince Salman murdered him,” he added.

“Now the fact the US felt that the Saudis were undermining US operations in Saudi-underlined region. The Yemen invasion by the Saudis has been going on for three years. The US has supplied the Saudis with arms, advisors, and signing of a major agreement with the support of President Trump,” he noted.

“This is all part of the background. I think the feeling is with Khashoggi’s assassination that Washington can create an environment that can lessen the influence of Prince Salman,” he argued.

“And I think that his purge inside Saudi Arabia has caused too much instability. They think that the Yemen war can be used against him even though Washington has continued to support the Saudis in decimating the population,” the analyst said.

“So I think the Senate will be fighting the pro-Saudi element in the government, particularly President Trump. President Trump wants to punish the Saudis but not too much, maybe a slap in the wrist and perhaps creates countervailing powers,” he said.

“I don’t expect the US to force the Saudis to withdraw from Yemen. I think that that’s what they want, to open up some negotiations between the Saudis and the Houthis and the pro-Saudi Yemenites who have been operating on the periphery,” he observed.

Saudi Arabia has come under fierce criticism after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Khashoggi, a prominent commentator on Saudi affairs who wrote for The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, had lived in self-imposed exile in the US since September 2017, when he left Saudi Arabia over fears of the Riyadh regime’s crackdown on critical voices.

Crown Prince Salman is a prime suspect in the murder plot.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

President Trump’s Iran Policy – Is It ‘Normal’?

By Ron Paul | November 12, 2018

It’s not often that US Government officials are honest when they talk about our foreign policy. The unprovoked 2003 attack on Iraq was called a “liberation.” The 2011 US-led destruction of Libya was a “humanitarian intervention.” And so on.

So, in a way, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was refreshingly honest last week when, speaking about newly-imposed US sanctions, he told the BBC that the Iranian leadership “has to make a decision that they want their people to eat.” It was an honest admission that new US sanctions are designed to starve Iranians unless the Iranian leadership accepts US demands.

His statement also reveals the lengths to which the neocons are willing to go to get their “regime change” in Iran. Just like then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said it was “worth it” that half a million Iraqi children died because of our sanctions on that country, Pompeo is letting us know that a few million dead Iranians is also “worth it” if the government in Tehran can be overthrown.

The US Secretary of State has demanded that Iran “act like a normal country” or the US would continue its pressure until Iran’s economy crumbles. How twisted is US foreign policy that Washington considers it “normal” to impose sanctions specifically designed to make life miserable – or worse – for civilians!

Is it normal to threaten millions of people with starvation if their leaders refuse to bow down to US demands? Is the neoconservative obsession with regime change “normal” behavior? Is training and arming al-Qaeda in Syria to overthrow Assad “normal” behavior? If so, then perhaps Washington’s neocons have a point. As Iran is not imposing sanctions, is not invading its neighbors, is not threatening to starve millions of Americans unless Washington is “regime-changed,” perhaps Iran is not acting “normal.”

So what is normal?

The continued Saudi genocide in Yemen does not bother Washington a bit. In fact, Saudi aggression in Yemen is viewed as just another opportunity to strike out at Iran. By making phony claims that Yemen’s Houthis are “Iran-backed,” the US government justifies literally handing the Saudis the bombs to drop on Yemeni school busses while claiming it is fighting Iranian-backed terrorism! Is that “normal”?

Millions of Yemenis face starvation after three years of Saudi attacks have destroyed the economy and a Saudi blockade prohibits aid from reaching the suffering victims, but Secretary Pompeo recently blamed Yemeni starvation on, you guessed it: Iran!

And in a shocking display of cynicism, the US government is reportedly considering listing Yemen’s Houthis as a “terrorist” organization for the “crime” of fighting back against Saudi (and US) aggression. Labeling the Yemeni resistance a “terrorist” organization would effectively “legalize” the ongoing Saudi destruction of Yemen, as it could be justified as just another battle in the “war on terror.” It would also falsely identify the real culprits in the Yemen tragedy as Iran, which is repeatedly and falsely called the “number one sponsor of terrorism” by Pompeo and the rest of the Trump Administration neocons.

So yes, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told one wicked truth last week. But before he demands that countries like Iran start acting “normal” or face starvation, perhaps he should look in the mirror. Are Pompeo and the neocons “normal”? I don’t think so.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , | 9 Comments

Washington Post Publishes Article of Yemen’s Houthi Leader

Head of Yemen’s Revolutionary Committee, Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi
Al-Manar | November 10, 2018

The Washington Post has published on Friday the first article of the head of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee, Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi.

Houthi leader: We Want Peace for Yemen, But Saudi Airstrikes Must Stop

The continued escalation of attacks against the port city of Hodeida in Yemen by the U.S.-Saudi-Emirati coalition confirms that the American calls for a cease-fire are nothing but empty talk. The recent statements are trying to mislead the world. Saudi leaders are reckless and have no interest in diplomacy. The United States has the clout to bring an end to the conflict — but it has decided to protect a corrupt ally.

Any observer of the crimes committed in Yemen by Saudi Arabia — a campaign that has been accompanied by disinformation and a blockade of journalists trying to cover the war — can offer an account of the indiscriminate killing thousands of civilians, mostly through airstrikes. Their attacks have led to the greatest humanitarian crisis on earth.

The brutality of the Saudi regime was reflected in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And it can be seen in the military escalation and airstrikes in Hodeida and other cities, in defiance of all international warnings.

The blockade of the port city is meant to bring the Yemeni people to their knees. The coalition is using famine and cholera as weapons of war. It is also extorting the United Nations by threatening to cut their funds, as if it were a charity and not a responsibility required under international law and Security Council resolutions.

The United States wants to be viewed as an honest mediator — but it is in fact participating and sometimes leading the aggression on Yemen.

We are defending ourselves — but we don’t have warplanes like the ones that bomb Yemenis with banned ammunition. We can’t lift the blockade imposed on Yemeni imports and exports. We cannot cancel the air embargo and allow daily flights, or end the ban of importing basic commodities, medicines and medical equipment from any place other than the United Arab Emirates, as it is imposing on Yemeni business executives.

And the list goes on. These repressive practices are killing and destroying Yemen.

Yemen was not the one who declared the war in the first place. Even Jamal Benomar, the former United Nations envoy to Yemen, said we were close to a power-sharing deal in 2015 that was disrupted by the coalition airstrikes. We are ready to stop the missiles if the Saudi-led coalition stops its airstrikes.

But the United States’ calling to stop the war on Yemen is nothing but a way to save face after the humiliation caused by Saudi Arabia and its spoiled leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has ignored Washington’s pleas to clarify Khashoggi’s murder.

Moreover, Trump and his administration clearly prefer to continue this devastating war because of the economic returns it produces — they drool over those arms sales profits.

We love peace — the kind of honorable peace defended by our revolution’s leader, Abdulmalik al-Houthi. We are ready for peace, the peace of the brave. God willing, Yemenis will remain the callers of peace and lovers of peace.

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

UAE, Saudi sense convergence with Syria

The reported plan by the United Arab Emirates to reopen its embassy in Damascus shortly leads to a startlingly new alignment on the map of the Middle East.

At the most obvious level, it signals the realization among the Gulf States that the brutal war to overthrow the Syrian government has ended. But the pragmatism is stunning. There isn’t even going to be any ‘cooling-off’ period!

What explains the urgency? Analysts may say it is to counter Iran’s influence. After all, the Saudis with UAE backing tried a similar approach in Iraq through the past year – to counter Iran’s multi-vectored influence in Iraq.

But the UAE cannot but be unaware of the exceptionally strong bonding between Damascus and Tehran. Syria may have uses for ‘green money’ to advance its reconstruction agenda but Iran’s backing has existential dimensions.

The western analysts tend to view the Iran factor as the leitmotif of Middle Eastern developments. However, in this cacophony over Iran, we are largely overlooking that simmering differences among the major Sunni states have also surged to the centre stage lately.

Through the past 2-3 year period, a Turkish-Qatari alignment has crystallized. For Qatar, Turkey’s support is invaluable for resisting the pressures on its strategic autonomy from the regimes in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The establishment of a Turkish military base in Qatar underscores this new axis. Lately, Qatar has become a pillar of financial support for the Turkish economy.

Neither Qatar nor Turkey is flustered by Iran’s rise. Neither is seeking Iran’s isolation, either. Washington recently ‘granted’ a waiver to Turkey to continue to buy oil from Iran, but Ankara shot back saying it opposed US sanctions anyway, calling them ‘imperialistic’.

For Turkey too, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the principal regional adversaries today. Turkey viewed with disquiet the UAE’s support of terrorist groups in Libya, Yemen and Syria. In next-door Syria, the Saudi and Emirati openly supported ISIS groups and al-Qaeda affiliates. Circles close to Turkey’s ruling elite have alleged that UAE is targeting Erdogan in a concerted way.

However, the ‘red line’ was crossed when the two Gulf oligarchies lent support to the failed coup in 2016 in Turkey to assassinate President Recep Erdogan. (After the coup failed, it took 16 hours for Riyadh to even issue a statement!) Turkey estimated that the UAE provided a staging post for the coup plotters.

As Turkey sees it, the UAE is implementing a western project to weaken it. Meanwhile, reports also appeared that the two Gulf oligarchies have been funding the Kurdish militant groups (who are the US’ allies in Syria.)

No doubt, it is a combustible mix. But what makes it really explosive is the perception in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh that Turkey and Qatar are patronizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a potent vehicle for the democratic transformation of the Muslim Middle East.

Both regimes (Saudi Arabia and the UAE) regard the Brotherhood as existential threat. Their visceral hatred of Brothers is such that they bankrolled the coup d’état against elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 in a multi-billion dollar project.

Enter Syria. Given the above backdrop, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are inclined to sense a convergence with the Syrian regime on pushing back at Erdogan’s perceived aspirations of ‘neo-Ottomanism’ in general and his support of the Brotherhood as a vehicle of change in particular.

A tantalizing question will be: Where does the US stand apropos the Brotherhood? The Barack Obama administration with a sense of history saw in the Brotherhood much potential to finesse the Arab Spring toward establishment of ‘Islamic democracy’ in the Middle East. The US had dealings with the Brotherhood in Egypt based on estimation that it could do business with them and even influence them to democratize the Muslim Middle East. Of course, the premature end to the transition in Egypt in 2013 changed everything.

The Muslim Brotherhood lobbying US Congress, May 2017

Erdogan always hoped that the US (and the West as a whole) would appreciate that Turkey is uniquely placed to play the leadership role in the transition to a New Middle East. The Khashoggi affair has noticeably rekindled those hopes. (Interestingly, the spokesmen of the US intelligence establishment who have been very vocal about the Kahshoggi affair have also suddenly mellowed toward Erdogan.)

Now, this subtle shift on the part of the ‘Deep State’ in America toward Erdogan couldn’t have gone unnoticed in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. It has probably prompted them to open a line to Damascus as early as possible.

How this delicate tango will play out remains to be seen, since there are far too many variables. With the US midterm elections over, President Trump may come under pressure to ‘do something’ on the Khashoggi affair.

Meanwhile, the Saudi and Emirati presence in Syria will be a matter of concern for Turkey in the ‘post-truth’ politics after Khashoggi’s murder.

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ansarullah rejects US mediation in efforts to resolve Yemen conflict

Press TV – October 31, 2018

The Houthi Ansarullah movement has opposed a US proposal for mediation in efforts to resolve the conflict in Yemen, holding Washington responsible for the Saudi-led aggression against Yemen.

Mohammed al-Bakhiiti, a member of Ansarullah’s Political Council, told Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam news network on Wednesday that peace would be restored to Yemen if the US ended its war on the impoverished country.

He also expressed his objection to any solution to the Yemen crisis that ignores the country’s independence and sovereignty.

On Tuesday, American officials called for a ceasefire in Yemen and demanded that the sides to the conflict come to the negotiating table within a month.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the US had been watching the conflict “for long enough,” and that he believed Saudi Arabia and the UAE were ready for talks.

“We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can’t say we are going to do it sometime in the future,” he said. “We need to be doing this in the next 30 days.”

Mattis’ call was later echoed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who urged the coalition to stop airstrikes in Yemen’s populated areas, saying the “time is now for the cessation of hostilities.”

Bakhiti further stressed that Washington’s proposed solution for the Yemen conflict included dividing the country.

Mattis’ plan, supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is meant to achieve goals that have not been attained during the war on Yemen, he added.

The only solution to the crisis is intra-Yemeni talks and non-interference by foreign parties, the Houthi official said.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a brutal war against Yemen in an attempt to reinstall the country’s former Riyadh-allied regime and crush the Houthis.

The Western-backed war, however, has so far failed to achieve its stated goals, thanks to stiff resistance from Yemeni troops and allied Houthi fighters.

The offensive, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and led to famine as well as a cholera outbreak in the import-dependent state. Tens of thousands of people have also lost their lives in the conflict.

October 31, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Istanbul Summit on Syria Was a Success but Caveats Remain

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.10.2018

The four-nation Turkey-Russia-Germany-France summit on Syria on October 27 in Istanbul had an impressive outcome. All participants – each with own interests – has some ‘takeaway’ from the summit, which itself is a measure of the success of the event. This is also important because the participants now have a reason to work together.

Such an outcome can be interpreted in the following ways. First and foremost, a major regional conflict impacting international security was addressed without US participation. A sign of our times?

Second, participants didn’t quarrel over President Bashar Al-Assad’s “fate”. The debate becomes pedantic today in terms of ground realities. The Syrian nation should decide on its future. That’s also been Assad’s demand.

Third, some serious thought has been given to the journey towards a Syrian settlement – ceasefire, drafting of new constitution followed by elections under UN supervision.

Four, the participants snubbed the US-Israeli plan to balkanize Syria into “spheres of influence” and have also squashed the Israeli dreams of getting international legitimacy for its illegal occupation of Golan Heights as part of any settlement.

Five, Germany and France have become amenable to the Russian demand pressing the urgency for rendering humanitarian aid to Syria and help in reconstruction. (The US made this conditional on Assad’s removal.) We’ll have to see how it pans out, but the summit also stressed the importance of the return of Syrian refugees (which is a key issue for European countries.)

Six, the participants recognized that the remaining terrorists in Syria must be destroyed – although, significantly, they also supported the Idlib ceasefire deal brokered by Turkey and Russia.

The bottom line is that it is the post-war Syrian order that is under discussion now. However, it must be understood as well that the proxy war is not ending but is rather morphing into the diplomatic war that lies ahead, which of course will be keenly fought, given the divergent interests of the foreign protagonists.

Generally speaking, Russia and Turkey are in command as of now. Their own equations are good but there are grey areas, too. The importance of close coordination between Russia and Turkey cannot but be stressed.

Iran cannot be happy that it has been excluded from the Istanbul summit. But it may prove an underestimation that Iran is in no position to assert its legitimate interests. The close consultations between Russia and Iran – not only regarding Syria – are of course the mitigating factor here.

Similarly, a “post-Khashoggi” Saudi attitude to Syria remains the “known unknown”. The US is in a position to blackmail Saudi Arabia to continue to bankroll its military presence in Syria, but the Saudis cannot have their heart in the overreach to project power abroad. Something has fundamentally changed – Saudis are not used to their prestige being dragged in the mud as in this past month and the traumatic experience cannot but have a sobering effect.

Besides, Saudis dare not cross swords with Turkey on the latter’s Syrian playpen. Above all, Saudis would not want to undermine Russian efforts to stabilize Syria, since Moscow’s goodwill and cooperation is extremely vital for Riyadh in the coming period, now that the raison d’etre of Riyadh’s “Look East” is beyond doubt.

Basically, France and Germany are lightweights in Syria. They had a limited agenda at the Istanbul summit. Russia must know fully well that in the final analysis, US involvement is crucial. It is entirely conceivable that at the forthcoming Russian-American summit in Paris on November 11, Syria will be a major topic of discussion.

The US policy in Syria is at a crossroad and will hinge greatly on the standing of President Trump in the aftermath of the November 6 mid-term elections in the US.

Clearly, this was far from a situation of three major allies of the US staging a mutiny on the NATO ship. Germany and France would have consulted Washington most certainly ahead of the Istanbul summit (which has been in the making for months.)

The big question is how the Turkish-American relations evolve. The Khashoggi affair has brought about certain US-Turkey “proximity”. Ironically, the Deep State in America and Trump are on the same page here – rediscovering the vital importance of Turkey for US regional strategies.

The spokesmen of the Deep State used to defame Turkish President Recep Erdogan for being “Islamist” and “authoritarian” and so on and probably even tried to overthrow him in the failed coup of 2016, but today, they laud him for espousing Islamic democracy as the panacea for the region.

Erdogan, in turn – or at least a part of him – had always hankered for recognition by the West when he sought Turkey’s historic leadership role in the Middle East and uniqueness to act as a bridge between the West and the region. Equally, Trump is eternally grateful to Erdogan to refrain from spilling the beans on the Khashoggi affair and for helping him finesse a major crisis for his presidency on the foreign-policy front.

Suffice to say, this “transition” in the US-Turkey tough love can profoundly affect the geopolitics of the Middle East – provided of course Washington plays its cards carefully in regard of Erdogan’s wish list on a host of pending issues, including some of great sensitivity.

Syria is somewhere at the top of Erdogan’s priorities. Howsoever unpalatable it may appear, Erdogan will expect the Americans to throw their Syrian Kurdish allies under the bus. Yesterday, the Turkish army bombarded Kurdish positions east of Euphrates.

Now, how Turkish policies play out in Syria is difficult to predict, since the variables are too many. A US-Turkey rapprochement is hard to reach. But then, Turks and Americans are also old allies and they have a way of knocking their heads together and start working together again.

October 29, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oman rejects mediating between Israelis, Palestinians

Press TV – October 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turkey seeks to ‘blackmail’ Saudi over Khashoggi’s case: Analyst

Press TV – October 26, 2018

The United States and Turkey are seeking to manipulate the crisis over the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in an attempt to change the equilibrium in the Middle East, says a political analyst.

“I think the Turkish intelligence have so many information but they want to blackmail the Saudis and they push a little part after little part of the information that they have to press and blackmail the Saudi government,” Hadi Kobaysi told Press TV in an interview on Friday.

“I think that from the beginning why [did] Khashoggi go to Turkey, there is a Saudi consulate in Washington … I think that there is a game from the beginning to put the Saudi government under pressure … So from the beginning there is a game and the manipulation was from Turkey and the United States and the goal was to change the game in the Middle East,” he added.

Khashoggi – a US resident, Washington Post columnist, and a leading critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife, but he did not leave the building.

Saudi officials originally insisted that Khashoggi had left the diplomatic mission after his paperwork was finished, but they finally admitted several days later that he had in fact been killed inside the building during “an altercation.”

Several countries, including European ones, Turkey and the US, a major ally of Riyadh, have called for clarifications on the murder.

October 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Khashoggi: A danse macabre & the New RealityTM

By Catte Black | OffGuardian | October 20, 2018

The Khashoggi incident continues to roll out in screaming headlines. The “confession” that the journalist died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is the latest twist, an indicator of the struggle to control narrative.

The manufactured crisis is being used not solely to demonise NATO’s erstwhile best buds, the house of Saud, but also to further isolate and discredit Trump in nice time for the November elections. Trump is currently being bashed by the Dems for doing what they and everyone else was doing a few weeks ago – viz cozying up to the mass-murderers and selling them weapons.

With shameless opportunism the same people who ignored the slaughter in Yemen as recently as a week ago are now appalled by it. Aware that the speed of the change might make them look like the sold-out moral blanks they actually are, Jonathan Freedland and Max Fisher (amongst others) are inventing vomit-inducing excuses for why they just hadn’t got round to noticing the dead children until the deep state told them to care.

They asked me to write on why Khashoggi’s death provoked a backlash to Saudi Arabia, when so many past transgressions did not

Here’s my answer, citing psychology, social science, the oddities of alliance politics, the history of Saudi and, yes, Bill Cosby https://t.co/vWpIWAAmD0

— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) October 17, 2018

They would be better off not trying. Some bits of soul-selling are beyond even the most sophistic attempts at rehabilitation.

The hypocrisy and short term memory loss currently on display is astounding, even by normal establishment/MSM standards. It’s a danse macabre. A horror show of painted corpses feigning life and love, reeking with sickly decay, nicely timed for Halloween.

The Saudis, and Trump, want this whole Khashoggi thing buried asap, and possibly think a quick fess up is the best way to do it. Whether or not it succeeds depends on the motives for creating the crisis in the first place, and how much leg work the Saudis and MBS have done behind the scenes to rehabilitate themselves in the empire’s eyes.

But let’s remember, the “confession” is no more reality-driven than anything else. It may be true. Sure. It may be completely 100% true. Or it may be entirely made up of convenience and back-pedalling. Or it may be any combination of these two opposites. We will likely never know for sure.

The fact it’s being reported, confessed, debated, analysed is not connected in any way to the question of its veridical reality.

That’s the real point, and not just about this.

The New RealityTM is an unending advertising campaign, a permanent promo reel, a PR push that never stops. No one involved is even concerned with verification or even remembers what that is. The lights are too bright. The money too good. The story self-perpetuating. The show really MUST go on. The corpses need to keep dancing. Forever.

Hard lesson. Hard to live by. Some people get annoyed and upset by it. But it’s still true.

Catte Black, co-founding editor at OffGuardian. Writer. Occasional polemicist. Lives in UK. Email at blackcatte@off-guardian.org

October 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen

By Rannie Amiri | CounterPunch | October 19, 2018

Those in the Western media too busy to be bothered trying to understand the complexities, intricacies and nuances of the Middle East often resort to concluding nearly all conflicts there are some kind of “proxy war” between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

This is usually out of ignorance, reducing disputes to the lowest common dominator of Sunnis versus Shiites or to that between their two most prominent patron states. Often though there is deliberate obfuscation; there must be justification for a US ally to cause regional mayhem on the pretext of containing an enemy. The easiest and most convenient scapegoat has been Iran and efforts to contain its alleged expansionism by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and of course, Israel, go unchecked.

One of the most devastating and tragic episodes occurring in the Middle East today is in Yemen. But this is not a de facto proxy war its bankrollers hope we have all grown too weary of hearing to investigate further.

Despite the constant disclaimers by a lazy media, there is no proxy war in Yemen.

The war which has ravaged the Arab world’s poorest country since March 2015 is a Saudi-led, unilateral onslaught which has so devasted the nation, its economy, infrastructure and social services that malnutrition has become widespread and cholera epidemic.

Ostensibly, the Saudi-UAE military campaign was to oust Houthi-led rebels who unseated the deeply unpopular Saudi-backed puppet-president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in January 2015 (elected on a ballot in which he was the only candidate and who remained in power even after the expiration of a one-year mandate that had extended his term). The Houthis, a politico-religious group officially known as Ansarullah and named after their founder, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, initially formed in opposition to late Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Houthis generally belong to the Zaidi school in Islam, a branch of the larger Shiite sect. Branding the Houthis as “Iranian-backed Shiite rebels” as is now routine, makes for easy and convenient categorization of who the “bad guys” are in Western and Gulf media. But this is disingenuous. The inconvenient fact is Zaidis are generally closer to Sunni Islam than Shiite (and the longtime military, Saudi-backed dictator Saleh was Zaidi). More significantly, other than voicing solidarity with the Houthis, there has been no substantive evidence of Iranian military intervention or that of affiliated parties in Yemen. On the contrary, and starkly so, it has been the Saudi and Emirati governments’ inhumane bombing campaign which has been the most glaring example of foreign interference in the internal affairs of another country.

When a school-bus was struck during an air raid that killed 40 children, it was initially justified as a “legitimate military target” by the Saudi coalition before international outrage finally led to the conclusion it was otherwise. On the other hand, intermittent Houthi missiles launched at Saudi military installations and considered evidence of foreign military supply belie the Houthis as a legitimate, capable, battle-hardened fighting force. Apparently, the regime cannot fathom that despite daily attack, they have had the muster to retaliate and demonstrate offensive, rather than strictly defensive, capabilities.

Yemen is not a sectarian conflict or one of proxies, but a war stemming from the fallout of removing yet another Saudi-backed ruler from power.

Since 2015, at least 10,000 Yemenis have been killed, 22 million are now in need some form of relief (out of a total population of approximately 29 million) and eight million are malnourished. These numbers can only be expected to climb after evidence has shown Saudi Arabia is targeting food supplies.

The war waged in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its allies and their wanton use of US and UK-supplied arms is everything short of a formal invasion. It is a one-sided, vicious military adventure which has rendered millions destitute and to date, has proven completely unsuccessful in fulfilling its stated objectives. The only proxies in this struggle are the victims of its war crimes; innocent men, women and children starved or killed, stand-ins for an apparition of a foreign power waiting to be found.

October 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

CNN: “Twitter has suspended accounts” that “appear” to smear Khashoggi

By Catte | OffGuardian | October 19, 2018

Further indication of the alleged murder of Khashoggi being a narrative issued from high levels in the power structure is rolling out all the time. But this is a significant little pointer:

The Khashoggi murder narrative, true or false, is being protected and promoted aggressively by the mainstream media. I don’t think this is simply because the press are mad about the attack on “one of their own” or because the scandal is just too big to ignore. In fact I think these frequently-repeated claims are based on a fundamental and dangerous misapprehension about the relationship between the media and its masters and how narratives are currently produced.

Whatever happens with the Khashoggi story we need to keep talking about these misapprehensions because they fatally undermine people’s ability to grasp the reality of our current situation. I guess I’ll be returning to it in the future.

In the meantime, I note several articles in alt media outlets that ought to know better – all discussing what the murder of Khashoggi might mean for this or that foreign policy question, or this or that aspect of the western narrative. None, or shamefully few of them, pointing out that we have as yet seen no evidence the murder has actually happened.

This erosion of our requirement for verification is appalling. I don’t care what beneficial long term interests may be served by climbing on this bandwagon and screaming for vengeance on the Saudis, if we agree to live in a world where allegation becomes evidence simply by repetition, we are allowing the propagandists an easy victory.

Catte Co-founding editor at OffGuardian. Writer. Occasional polemicist. Lives in UK. Email at blackcatte@off-guardian.org

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

The reduction of Israel’s reliance on Bin Salman

MEMO | October 18, 2018

There have been remarks in Israel recently expressing disappointment at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s performance regarding the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This does not stem from his bloody repression of his opponents, but from the fact that this policy has reduced Israel’s ability to rely on him to draw a new map of the Middle East or to push US President Donald Trump’s plan for the Palestinian cause in a manner that serves the policies of the occupation. Reading between the lines, we can also see more of Israel’s hidden aspirations for Bin Salman.

A comment in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper yesterday is a case in point. An Israeli journalist specialising in Arab affairs noted that the regional strategy adopted by the Trump administration and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu for the Arab region depends on two things: a close alliance with Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s Egypt and the anti-Iran axis in the Gulf, led by Saudi Arabia. In the journalist’s opinion, the Israel-Saudi axis was supposed to completely change the status quo in the region regarding the anti-Tehran front by achieving comprehensive open normalisation with Israel. At the same time, she stressed that many Israelis and Jews who have met with Bin Salman said that he gave them a strong impression of being “the Arab leader” capable of bringing about such change. She noted that unlike many other Arab leaders who agree with the Israelis on everything behind closed doors and then attack it publically, Bin Salman’s discourse regarding Israel in the Saudi media and social media is very positive.

In this regard, we must note that Israeli research centres have warned in the past against relying on Arab states defined as moderate by Israel to force the Palestinians to accept Trump’s plan. One institute described this assumption as “a dangerous illusion.”

This is not due to the Israeli conviction that these Arab states are keen on the Palestinian cause, but because of the Arab leaders’ limited willingness to deviate from the prevailing positions held by the general public in their countries on this issue, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions. This has been noted by the same Israeli writers.

The current remarks about Bin Salman are reminiscent of those made about the Arabs by the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, in his novel Altneuland (The Old-New Land). Herzl’s character, Reschid Bey, was an intellectual educated in Germany who gladly agreed with the Jews coming to Palestine, believing that they would bring blessings and civilisation and save it from underdevelopment. The author described Bey’s father as “among the first to understand the beneficent character of the Jewish immigration, and enriched himself, because he kept pace with our economic progress. Reschid himself is a member of our New Society.” Herzl also put submissive words in the character’s mouth: “Our profits have grown considerably. Our orange transport has multiplied tenfold since we have had good transportation facilities to connect us with the whole world. Everything here has increased in value since your immigration.” Furthermore, “The Jews have enriched us. Why should we be angry with them? They dwell among us like brothers. Why should we not love them?”

While Herzl did not mention the Arab issue in his novel and deliberately chose to ignore it completely, along with the indigenous Arab people, he did portray the Jews as the masters and guardians who will bring civilisation and culture with them, while portraying the Arabs as the submissive and lowly side of the equation who promote the benefits of Jewish immigration.

It is no exaggeration to say that the general Zionist view of the Arabs is still attached to this vision. Moreover, it seems that some of the Arabs have internalised it about themselves.

This article first appeared in Arabic on Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 17 October 2018

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment