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Former government lawyer ‘ashamed’ of defending UK over Saudi arms sales

MEMO | October 20, 2020

A former lawyer at Britain’s Foreign Office responsible for fighting lawsuits against the British government over its arms sales to Saudi Arabia has said that she is “ashamed” of having played a role in helping the government get away with allegedly breaking the law.

“When governments consider themselves above the law, the consequences can be horrifying,” said Molly Mulready in an article for the Independent detailing how she had helped “fight legal action against the government’s export of arms to Saudi Arabia.”

Mulready explained that she did not become a Foreign Office lawyer in order to justify this “moral depravity.” Her article provided details about how the British government managed to overcome legal hurdles to continue selling arms to Riyadh.

In the five years since de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman launched a military campaign in Yemen, there have been ongoing allegations of war crimes. With Britain supplying arms to the Saudi military, many of which are said to have been used against civilians, the Conservative government has been accused of complicity in serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Legal challenges were made by human rights groups in an attempt to block arms sales to Riyadh. Despite these challenges, in 2017 a High Court judge authorised the British government to continue licensing such exports.

Speaking of her role in mounting the government’s defence, Mulready said that as many as 318 cases of alleged violations of international humanitarian law — an average of just over two per week for almost three years — were recorded by December 2017. Despite these concerns, arms sales continued into 2019 when the court of appeal overturned the 2017 High Court judgement. At the time of the lawsuit, the government confirmed that there were now 516 cases on that list of violations.

In its defence, said Mulready “The British government insisted that there was definitely no clear risk that even one such incident might amount to a serious violation by the Saudi armed forces and happen again in the future. Exports resumed and are ongoing.”

Commenting on her part Mulready said: “I have acute shame about my role in all of this. I did not become a lawyer in order to justify the moral depravity that is the export of arms to Saudi Arabia.”

Earlier this month, a report discovered that Britain was issuing licences for arms sales to Saudi Arabia at an unprecedented rate of almost one a day, in what looked like a concerted effort to make up for months of lost time.

Read also:

UK ‘complicit’ in humanitarian disaster through $7.6bn arms sales to Saudi

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Arab support for PA budget falls by 82%

MEMO | October 19, 2020 

Arab support for the Palestinian Authority’s budget has fallen by 82 per cent during the first eight months of this year, Shehab news agency reported on Sunday.

According to data issued by the PA Ministry of Finance, the Arab countries have paid the PA $38.1 million in 2020 so far, compared to $198.33 million during the same period last year.

Over the past few months, US President Donald Trump revealed that he had asked the wealthy Arab states to stop paying money to the Palestinians. In July, the PA’s Minister of Finance Shukri Bsharah reported that a number of Arab states had suspended their financial aid for the authority.

The decline in Arab support coincides with a budget deficit in the normally supportive states due to the sharp decline in oil prices and reduced demand for crude oil.

Saudi assistance, Shehab reported, declined by 77.2 per cent, down from $130m in the same period in 2019 to just $30.8m this year. Algerian support fell to zero whereas it paid $26.1 million during the first eight months of 2019.

The PA said last week that Arab support for its budget has fallen by 55 per cent over the past five years from a high of around $1.1 billion. The authority is in the middle of its worst ever financial crisis since refusing to accept the tax revenues collected by Israel on its behalf since July. That is when PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced the suspension of all agreements with the occupation state.

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Hamas: the US has told Arab states to stop supporting the PA

MEMO | October 19, 2020

A senior Hamas official has claimed that the US has told a number of Arab states to stop giving financial support to the Palestinian Authority, Al-Aqsa TV reported on Sunday. According to Saleh Al-Arouri, a number of states have been asked to put pressure on Fatah, which controls the PA, in order to pull out of any reconciliation with Hamas.

The Deputy Head of the Hamas Political Bureau added that these countries are those which sponsored the US deal of the century. He stressed, however, that Hamas is committed to the Palestinian understandings reached in Istanbul and would never backtrack on them.

Al-Arouri also revealed that the US had offered to talk with Hamas over the so-called “deal”, but Hamas refused because Washington’s intention was to split the national Palestinian stance and threaten the PLO leadership.

In July, the former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said that the best way to undermine the Israeli annexation plans “is to change the function of the PA” from serving the Israeli occupation to confronting it. He stressed that if such a change was not made, the PA should be dissolved after discussions with the different Palestinian factions and reaching an agreement on a replacement in order not to end up in chaos.

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Britain selling arms to Saudi Arabia at unprecedented rate

Amnesty International activists march with homemade replica missiles bearing the message 'Made in Britain, destroying lives in Yemen' across Westminster Bridge towards Downing Street during a protest over UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in March

Activists march with replica missiles bearing the message ‘Made in Britain’ in London, UK on March 2016
MEMO | October 12, 2020

Britain is issuing arms licences to Saudi Arabia at an unprecedented rate of almost one a day, making up for months of lost time after the appeal court banned the sale of arms to the Kingdom over allegations that British made weapons are used to target civilian populations.

Official figures released last week revealed Britain’s growing role in the dangerous flow of arms across the globe. The UK is holding its position as the second highest exporter of arms, despite last year’s ruling. Now more details have been uncovered about the trade, prompting allegations of British “complicity” in the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Yemen.

“By arming the brutal Saudi dictatorship the UK is making itself complicit in the atrocities and abuses inflicted on Yemen,” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT). “A return to business as usual will only increase the suffering.” The war in Yemen is only possible because of military support provided by Britain and other governments, he added.

Eighty-seven export licences were granted between 20 June 2019 and last month. However, only 19 licences were issued in 11 of those months, for £15 million worth of “defensive” military equipment such as body armour and navigation systems. This means that most of the licences were issued in just 12 weeks.

Saudi Arabia tops the global table in terms of military expenditure as a proportion of GDP. The Kingdom reportedly has twice as many British-made warplanes as the Royal Air Force.

October 12, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi regime forces detain activist during raid against Shia-populated Qatif region

Press TV – October 8, 2020

Saudi regime forces have reportedly arrested a young man in the kingdom’s Shia-populated and oil-rich Eastern Province as the Riyadh regime presses ahead with its brutal clampdown against members of the religious community.

The London-based and Arabic-language Nabaa television news network, citing local sources, reported that Saudi troops arrested Ali al-Awami after they raided Deira neighborhood in the Umm al-Hamam village of Qatif region, located more than 420 kilometers (260 miles) east of the capital, Riyadh, on Thursday.

The report added that regime military vehicles rolled into Umm al-Hamam on Wednesday morning, and imposed a tight cordon on Deira neighborhood without any reasons.

Last month, security forces besieged Umm al-Hamam for three days, carried out raids and arrested a number of young men there.

Activists said at the time that trumped-up charges were leveled against those arrested as part of the Riyadh regime’s scenarios of abuse, marginalization and discrimination against the Eastern Province population.

Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime. Security forces have increased security measures across the province.

In January 2016, Saudi authorities executed Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who was an outspoken critic of the policies of the Riyadh regime. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif in 2012.

Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed, women’s rights campaigners – including Loujain al-Hathloul – have been put behind bars and tortured, and freedom of expression, association and belief continue to be denied.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , | Leave a comment

Iran rejects Saudi Arabia’s claim on terror cell, advises kingdom to embrace honesty

Press TV – September 29, 2020

Tehran has roundly dismissed Saudi Arabia’s claim of breaking up a “terrorist cell” trained by Iran, advising authorities in Riyadh to choose the path of honesty and wisdom instead of fabricating worthless scenarios.

“The recent Saudi officials’ allegations against the Islamic Republic of Iran are in line with the country’s worthless and repetitive positions over the past years,” the Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Saeed Khatibzaden said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia claimed to have taken down a “terrorist cell” that had received training from Iran.

A statement published on the state-run Saudi Press Agency on Monday said three of those arrested had been trained in Iran while the rest were “linked to the cell in various roles.”

“Having abandoned political rationality, Saudi rulers have chosen to fabricate fake cases against Iran, this time as part of a mediocre show, as a weapon to divert public opinion and a method to cover up their failures.”

The Iranian diplomat highlighted that repetitive, cliché and worthless accusations will lead nowhere, advising the kingdom’s officials to “choose the path of honesty and wisdom instead of [fabricating] worthless and commissioned scenarios.”

The allegations came days after Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz used his statement to the 75th UN General Assembly (UNGA) to deliver a blistering attack against Iran, blaming the Islamic Republic for much of the Middle East’s instability.

Iranian officials hit back at the Saudi monarch, saying the kingdom was the real source of instability in the region.

“By accusing others, Saudi Arabia is desperately trying to divert attention from its dark and long history of widely supporting terrorism, spreading extremist beliefs, sowing the seeds of discord and hatred, taking destabilizing actions in the region, and committing crimes during the aggression on Yemen over the past six years,” said Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi on September 24.

September 29, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Iran has no military presence in region, only supplies defense know-how: Armed Forces spokesman

Press TV – September 23, 2020

Iran has only provided Yemen with the know-how in the defense sector, says the spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, dismissing claims about the Islamic Republic’s military presence and ‘intervention’ in the region.

“We provided them (Yemenis) with the technical experiences in the defense sector. They have learned how to produce missiles, drones and weapons in Yemen on their own,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said in a televised program on Tuesday.

He emphasized that Iran has not supplied Yemen with missiles. “We have shared our experience and knowledge with the Yemeni people.”

Unlike what the enemy is trying to portray, Yemenis are a very cultured and smart people who have managed to manufacture missiles and the most advanced drones at the shortest possible time while they have also made great headway in the electronic warfare, the Iranian military official said.

Shekarchi once again reiterated that Iran has no plan to have military presence anywhere and added that the country merely has “spiritual and advisory presence” in the region.

“Countries of the resistance front have armies and forces themselves. We provide them with advisory help. In order to share our experience with the people of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, our skilled forces go there and assist them, but this is the people and armies of these countries who stand against the enemies in practice.”

He said Iran would provide whatever help it can for any country standing against the Israeli regime and the United States.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh earlier this month slammed as “baseless” a report published by the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) alleging that Tehran has been sending arms to war-torn Yemen.

“Placing Iran’s name next to those supplying weapons to the Saudi coalition against Yemen is completely wrong,” Khatibzadeh said.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen with the help of its regional allies and largely assisted by Western-supplied weapons which have been indiscriminately used against Yemeni civilians.

Despite numerous bids to stop arms sales, top Western arms suppliers such as the United States, Britain, Canada, France and Germany have pushed through with lethal weapons shipments to the oil-rich kingdom.

According to a CNN investigation released in October 2019, the American-made weapons, supplied to Washington’s allies involved in the war on Yemen, end up in the hands of US-backed militants fighting against each other in the impoverished state.

The report found that American military hardware has been distributed to militant groups in Yemen, including the southern separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), al-Qaeda-linked militants and hardline Salafi militias.

September 23, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Democrats not serious to stop US weapons sales to the Saudis: Former US diplomat

Press TV – September 18, 2020

The Democrats are not serious to put down the US sales of weapons to the Saudis and to Israel and other countries, says J. Michael Springmann, a former US diplomat in Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s top aides have been questioned by Congress over President Donald Trump’s dismissal of a top administration official while he was investigating billions of dollars of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Top aides to Pompeo went before a congressional panel on Wednesday to defend Trump’s decision to fire former Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick.

Springmann said, “There are two points to keep in mind when considering the House of Representatives’ investigation of the firing of Steve Linick, the former State Department Inspector General, back in May of this year.”

“The first, of course, is that Linick was probing the sale of huge amounts of weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, and other issues. Apparently, it was alleged that Secretary of State Pompeo and his wife used government officials to do personal things for them. I’m not sure what that is and there are no specifics. Linick claimed he had been bullied when he was asking questions, and wanted answers and not getting them. And I think there’s something to that,” he told Press TV in an interview on Friday.

“The other issue, of course, is that this is an election year. In a bit more than a month and a half, we have general elections for president and a third of the Senate and all of the House of Representatives. So Elliot Engel, the Democrat, who’s been doing most of the questioning of Pompeo, was also one of the Democrats who led the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives against Donald Trump. Eliot Engel of course has lost his seat in Congress. He lost in a primary, and he will be on his way out. And in the primary, the people running against him charged him with taking more money from defense contractors than 144 Republicans in the House of Representatives. So, I think that Engel is playing politics. He’s a strong supporter of Israel and he is trying to do his very best to get Donald Trump out of office,” said Springmann who is based in Washington.

“So I think it’s a nasty combination of events, with Trump trying to sell more weapons to the Saudis than they need, and also Engel playing politics for all he’s worth. The real issue is that the Democrats all have defense contractors in their districts, or most of them I guess, or they get money from defense contractors so that when push comes to shove, the Democrats don’t really fight against this. Yes, they passed a resolution in the House of Representatives and tried to get the same resolution through the Republican-controlled Senate, but they didn’t have the votes to overcome Donald Trump’s veto,” he added.

“So if the Democrats were really serious, they would reject the money from the defense contractors and unite to put down the sales of weapons to the Saudis and to Israel and other countries that don’t need them but use them to harm their neighbors. Unfortunately, the Democrats are not united enough because they’re too busy playing politics and too busy taking the money from defense contractors to produce results,” he stated.

“In sum, we need to look at all sides of the matter and not just listen to Elliot Engel,” he concluded.

In May, Trump abruptly fired Linick from his position as the State watchdog, while he was probing the administration’s last year’s decision to allow $8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Jordan despite congressional opposition.

Congress had objected to the transactions, warning that providing the Saudis with more weapons could contribute to the human catastrophe in war-torn Yemen, where the Kingdom has been waging a devastating war for more than five years.

An estimated 100,000 people have lost their lives in the Saudi war.

Congress had also expressed concern that the military transaction would possibly leave US officials vulnerable to war crimes charges.

“The news of Inspector General Linick’s firing did come as a surprise… Any time one is terminated, it naturally will raise some questions,” said Representative Michael McCaul, the committee’s top Republican.

Linick, who was responsible for preventing government waste, fraud and abuse, was also investigating allegations that Pompeo and his wife misused government resources by having department staff handle personal matters.

Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee asked if Linick was fired “because he was getting closer and closer to matters that were embarrassing for Mr Pompeo and his family.”

September 18, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

2,000 Days Since It Began, the War in Yemen Is Poised To Turn Even More Deadly

By Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News | September 18, 2020

Another grim milestone has just passed in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia’s war against the poorest country in the Middle East reached its two-thousandth day. Ostensibly, the war was launched to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to power after he was ousted following Houthi-led popular protests amid the Arab Spring.

Realistically, the war has become little more than a pretext to control Yemen’s strategic sites and natural wealth. Saudi Arabia and the UAE now occupy entire southern provinces from al-Mahara to the Bab al-Mandab Strait. Somehow, though, they have not yet allowed Haddi and his old guard to return.

Grim statistics

The numbers are astonishing. Since 2015, Saudi-led coalition warplanes have pounded the country with over 250,000 airstrikes. Seventy percent of those have hit civilian targets, killing more than 100,000 people since January 2016, according to a report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED). Those numbers do not include those who have died in the humanitarian disasters caused by the war, particularly starvation and thousands of tons of weapons, most often supplied by the United States, have been dropped on hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants.

Unexploded ordnance has been left scattered across populated areas, particularly in the urban areas of Sana’a, Sadaa, Hodeida, Hajjah, Marib, and al-Jawf, and have left the country one of the most heavily contaminated in the world.

As the war officially passes its two-thousandth day, the Eye of Humanity Center for Rights and Development, a Yemeni advocacy group, issued a report on where some of the estimated 600,000 bombs have landed. According to the non-governmental organization, those attacks have destroyed more than 21 economically-vital facilities like factories, food storage facilities, fishing boats, markets, and food, and fuel tankers and have damaged 9,000 pieces of critical infrastructure, including 15 airports, 16 seaports, 304 electrical stations, 2,098 tanks and water pumps, and 4,200 roads and bridges. At least 576,528 public service facilities, including more than 1,000 schools, 6,732 agricultural fields, and 1,375 mosques have been destroyed or damaged.

The blockade and bombing of civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals, have also crippled Yemen’s health system, leaving it unable to deal with even the basic public health needs. Eye of Humanity reports that the coalition has destroyed 389 hospitals and health centers while most of the country’s estimated 300 remaining facilities are either closed or barely functioning as COVID-19 spreads through the country like wildfire.

Household food insecurity now hovers at over 70 percent, with fifty percent of rural households and 20 percent of urban households now food insecure. Almost one-third of Yemenis do not have enough food to satisfy basic nutritional needs. Underweight and stunted children have become a regular sight, especially among holdouts in rural areas.

This is Yemen after 2,000 days of war. A dirty war and a brutal siege on a forgotten people subsisting in unlivable conditions. If one is able to dodge death from war, starvation, and COVID-19, they face unprecedented levels of disease. Yemen’s average life expectancy now hovers at around 66, one of the lowest in the world. The Saudi blockade has imposed tight control over all aspects of life, severely restricting not only the movement of aid and people but also of UN flights. Last week, both the Ministry of Transportation and the General Authority of Civil Aviation and Meteorology announced that Sana’a International Airport was no longer equipped to receive the official airplane of UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffith.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is still preventing fuel tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to Yemen’s hospitals, water pumps, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging it, particularly northern districts, into a fuel crisis. The blockade has not only forced thousands to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see but has forced many facilities to shut down altogether. All while Saudi Arabia and its local militias plunder crude oil in Marib, Shabwah, and Hadramout.

After normalization, the UAE steps up attacks

For many Yemenis, there is little reason for optimism entering what feels like the third phase of the war against their country, as Israel ostensibly enters the fray. They believe that the situation will escalate as a result of normalization between the UAE and Israel, and indeed, Tel Aviv’s entrance into the already convoluted theater appears to have already opened the door for further escalation.

Since normalization, UAE warplanes have intensified airstrikes against populated areas throughout the country’s northern provinces. In Sana’a, approximately 20 aerial attacks hit densely populated neighborhoods and brazenly targeted the Sana’a Airport, a military engineering camp, and a poultry farm, among other targets.

UAE warplanes are believed by locals to be receiving logistical support by Israel, although no evidence has yet surfaced yet to substantiate those fears. In a stark departure from the UAE’s more conciliatory tone in Yemen over the past year, UAE aircraft have carried out more than 100 airstrikes since August 13, when Trump announced the normalization between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. They also pounded the oil-rich province of Marib, located east the country, where UAE jets dropped more than 300 bombs targeting transport trucks, fuel stations, homes, and farms. Advanced military sites belonging to the Ansar Allah-led were also targeted.

Reinforcing the hopelessness is that the United States continues to neglect Yemen’s suffering, despite its designation by the United Nations calling it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Even with the 2020 election looming and President Donald Trump leaning heavily into his foreign policy accomplishments, the U.S. role in Yemen has been noticeably absent from the discussion. Biden has been no better, leaving little hope that the December elections could bring an end to the war.

Half-hearted attempts at peace

There are efforts underway to bring some semblance of peace to Yemen by parties in both Qatar and Oman. Secret negotiations have been held in Sana’a, but they seem aimed at stopping the Houthi advance in Marib and not the war in general.

In reality, international voices are loudest when the war begins to affect Saudi Arabia, as they were last September when Saudi oil facilities were attacked, or when a Houthi advance threatens the Saudi border as it did in August of 2019 when an operation captured 4,000 square kilometers of Saudi territory in Najran.

Qatari and Omani efforts are not the only ones on the ground. The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is leading other efforts aimed at stopping the Houthi advance in Marib. Griffiths said during a recent Security Council session that, “The situation in Marib is of concern. Military shifts in Marib have ripple effects on conflict dynamics. If Marib falls, it’d undermine prospects of convening an inclusive political process that brings about a transition based on partnership and plurality.”

Neither the efforts in Qatar nor those by the UN even purport to be focused on bringing an end to the war or mitigating the blockade, instead, they seem only concerned with assuring the Coalition retains its competitive advantage.

2,000 days of war, in fact, have proven an insufficient term to bring peace to the war-torn country. With the exception of a fragile ceasefire in Hodeida and a small number of prisoner releases, negotiations between the two sides, even on minor issues, often reach a dead end. Numerous negotiations between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia have failed, including UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland last year.

The Houthis grow stronger

When the war began over five years ago, Saudi leaders promised a decisive victory in a matter of weeks, one or two months at most. Yet the Houthis remain steadfast in their resistance and, in fact, have grown even more powerful leading to consternation in the Kingdom, with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz dismissing the leader of the Coalition forces Fahd bin Turki and a number of senior officers following a series of recent Saudi battlefield failures.

On Thursday, Houthi forces carried out drone strikes against the al-Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern province of Asir. The operation was the fifth against the airport and a sign that half of a decade of war has done little to bring security to the Kingdom.

In fact, the Houthis now seem intent on moving the frontline into Saudi Arabia and UAE territory and have even promised retaliatory action against Israel should they continue to escalate their involvement in the war. According to Houthi spokesman Mohammed AbdulSalam, “the Saudi-led war on Yemen the price the Arab nation is paying for taking a firm stance against Israel,”  adding “Israelis are involved in most of the conflicts plaguing the region, including the Riyadh-led aggression against Yemen.”

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

September 18, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in crisis

By Lucas Leiroz | September 17, 2020

In early August, the diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia increased considerably when Pakistani Chancellor Shah Mehmood Qureshi officially criticized the Arab country for its lack of support for Islamabad’s interests in the dispute with India over Kashmir. According to the Pakistani government, there should be greater cooperation between both countries due to the fact that they share religious ties, and this is not happening.

Qureshi recently said during an interview that Islamabad expects the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a meeting soon to discuss the issue of Kashmir. Furthermore, he said that if the OIC does not convene such a meeting, Pakistan itself will be obliged to organize a meeting of Islamic countries in order to obtain support in the dispute for Kashmir. Qureshi’s words were immediately received by the Saudis as a threat of conspiracy against the OIC for the creation of a new bloc, led by Islamabad.

There are three countries that unconditionally support Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir, which are Turkey, Iran and Malaysia. These countries, in December 2019, met at the Kuala Lumpur Summit, where they discussed various topics related to the entire Islamic world. Since then, Saudi Arabia sees the alliance of these countries as a threat to its interests and to the role of hegemony it exercises over the OIC. So, if Pakistan convenes a meeting with such countries, a major step will be taken towards the creation of a new group of Islamic nations.

Qureshi’s comment was made to warn the Saudis, but the consequences were disastrous. Riyadh immediately refused to give a third of the 3 billion dollars loan it had granted Pakistan in 2018, and the 3.2 billion dollars oil credit line that was also part of the 2018 deal has not been renewed.

Until now, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have shared close ties, forming an important alliance in Asian geopolitics. Both countries have shared strategic ties of mutual interest for decades and on several occasions have supported each other diplomatically, economically and militarily. Examples of this shared interest can be seen in events such as the placement of Pakistani troops in the Saudi territory, joint military exercises, oil supply by Saudi Arabia amid sanctions on Pakistan due to its nuclear tests and several other cases of economic aid and diplomatic support.

But, occasionally, the interests of both countries have collided. There were reprisals after Pakistan’s refusal to send troops within the Saudi-led coalition in the 2015 Yemen war, for example. Interestingly, in Yemen Iran and Saudi Arabia face each other in a proxy war. Iran supports Pakistan in Kashmir, while the Saudis hesitate on this issue. Certainly, the cases are related, but that is not enough to explain the current crisis.

The geopolitics of the Islamic world is changing completely. The Arab countries’ peace agreements with Israel, mediated by the US, are becoming a strong trend. Saudi Arabia has already denied the possibility of entering into such an agreement, but the precedent set by Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates is significant and it is very likely that, over time, pro-Western Arab nations will gradually join peace with Israel. Such Arab nations have not changed their views on Palestine, but the current situation in the region has become too dangerous for them. These countries fear the advance of the Muslim Brotherhood supported by Turkey, which grew a lot in the Syrian War. And, above all, the rivalry with Iran cannot be ignored, especially when Tehran and Ankara progressively tighten their ties.

With Pakistan trying to get closer to the Kuala Lumpur Group – which includes Iran and Turkey – the tendency is for the Saudis to not only distance themselves increasingly from Islamabad, but also to carefully consider the possibility of joining peace with Israel, which, indeed, is the only condition for the kingdom to continue to receive the Western support it currently receives.

This “schism” in the Islamic world will be costly for Pakistan, which has always received great economic support from the Saudis. Currently, Saudi Arabia is home to around 2.5 million Pakistani expatriates, whose remittances contribute highly to Islamabad’s economy. Remittances abroad represent about 86% of Islamabad’s foreign reserves. Of these, 30% are inflows from the Saudi kingdom. In addition, Pakistan imports about a quarter of its oil from Saudi Arabia. In 2019, 74% of their bilateral trade, totaling 1.7 billion dollars, was due to oil imports. In addition, there are latent cultural issues. Saudi Arabia has in its territory the sacred sites of Mecca and Medina, where about 500,000 Pakistanis travel each year on pilgrimage.

However, economic and cultural issues tend to be overlooked when topics involve national security, defense and risks of war. A new bloc of Islamic nations is likely to emerge, rivaling the OIC, opposing Iran, Turkey and Pakistan against the Saudis. Interestingly, such a split will lead to an ethnicization of the geopolitics of the Islamic world, considering that Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia are not Arab nations, and this may be another focus of tensions in the future.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Air Force Is Leveling Yemeni Capital To Ground In Response To Houthi Strikes On Riyadh

South Front | September 15, 2020

The Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen with a renewed energy following the recent missile and drone strikes on the Kingdom’s capital by the Ansar Allah movement (also known as the Houthis).

According to pro-Houthi sources, Saudi warplanes conducted over 60 airstrikes on different targets across the country during the past few days. They insist that most of the targets that were hit were objects of civilian infrastructure. At the same time, Riyadh claims that it has been precisely bombing Houthi military positions.

For example, on September 12, the Saudi-led coalition announced that it had carried out a series of airstrikes on the Military Engineering Complex in the Sa’wan Suburb, east of the Yemen capital of Sanaa. According to pro-Saudi sources, the Yemeni Armed Forces loyal to the Houthi government, which controls Sanaa, were “manufacturing and assembling” ballistic missiles and combat drones. The pro-Houthis al-Masirah TV confirmed that Saudi-led coalition warplanes had targeted the Military Engineering Complex with six airstrikes.

On the next day, the new wave of Saudi airstrikes hit the countryside of Sanaa. They allegedly targeted Four drones at Al Dailami Air Base, a military research facility in the Weapons Maintenance Camp, a number of barracks and military posts in the districts of Bani Harith and Arhab, and a headquarters in the al-Sawad Camp.

On September 14, additionally to the Yemeni capital, the Saudi Air Force also conducted raids against Houthi forces in the province of Marib, where the defense of pro-Saudi groups has been collapsing. Clashes between Saudi-led forces and the Houthis have been ongoing across the districts of al-Jubah and Rahbah. However, the main target of the Houthi advance is still the Maas base. Yemeni sources claim that as soon as the base falls, Houthi units will launch an advance on the provincial capital. The Saudi-led coalition captured it in April of 2015 and since then it has successfully kept it under its own control.

Nonetheless, in late 2019 and early 2020, the course of the conflict with no doubt turned to favor the Houthis and Saudi Arabia found itself in conflict even with the main formal ally in the intervention coalition, the UAE. So, the Houthi government now has a good chance to take back the city and the entire province.

This development will become a painful blow to the Saudi leadership and became yet another piece of smoking gun evidence showcasing the failure of its military campaign in Yemen. In response, the Saudi Air Force will likely continue its intense bombing campaign aiming to level Sanaa and other big cities in the hands of the Houthis. The problem with this approach is that this very campaign forces the Houthis to conduct more intense and regular missile and drone attacks on targets inside Saudi Arabia itself.

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Qatar, Pakistan rule out possibility of normalization with Israel

Press TV – September 15, 2020

A high-ranking Qatari official says Doha will not follow in the footsteps of neighboring Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to normalize relations with Israel, emphasizing that Doha will not take such a measure as long as the Palestinian issue is unresolved.

“We don’t think that normalization was the core of this conflict and hence it can’t be the answer,” Qatari Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah Rashid al-Khater, said in an exclusive interview with Bloomberg television news network on Monday.

She added, “The core of this conflict is about the drastic conditions that the Palestinians are living under” as “people without a country, living under occupation.”

Last week, Bahrain joined the UAE in striking an agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

In a joint statement, the United States, Bahrain and Israel said the agreement to establish ties was reached after US President Donald Trump spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah.

The deal came one month after the UAE and the Tel Aviv regime agreed to normalize ties under a US-brokered accord.

Bahrain will join Israel and the UAE for a signing ceremony at the White House hosted by Trump later on Tuesday. The ceremony will be attended by Netanyahu, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Elsewhere in her remarks, Khater pointed to the attempts, backed by Kuwait, to end the economic and diplomatic blockade Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies imposed on gas-rich Qatar in June 2017, noting that the efforts have not yet reached a tipping point.

“In the past couple of months, there have been messages and messengers going back and forth,” she said.

“It’s very early to talk about a real breakthrough,” but “the coming few weeks might reveal something new,” the top Qatari official pointed out.

“We’re beyond this point. The point we are at is engaging constructively in unconditional negotiations and discussions” that “do not necessarily need to include all parties at once,” Khater said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after the quartet officially accused Doha of meddling in regional affairs and supporting terrorism.

The quartet later issued a 13-point list of demands in return for the reconciliation, which was rejected as an attack on Qatar’s sovereignty.

‘Pakistan won’t compromise on Palestine cause’

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reacted to Bahrain’s normalization of ties with the Israeli regime following the UAE, saying, “Any recognition of Israel will face strong opposition from Palestinian people. We cannot make a decision which runs counter to the aspirations of the oppressed Palestinian nation. We will continue to support the fair resolution of the Palestinian issue.”

“If the whole world wants to recognize Israel, Islamabad would not do so and would never make a decision contrary to the wishes of the Palestinian people” Khan told Urdu-language 92 News television news network on Tuesday.

He underlined that the Pakistani government will never compromise on its fundamental principles of supporting Palestine and its liberation, as stated by the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

“Until a just solution to the Palestinian issue is produced, any recognition of the Zionist regime is ruled out. How can we accept to normalize with the Zionists when the main Palestinian parties do not accept it?” the Pakistani premier said.

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment