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Three Arab-language media interview Russia’s President Putin

RT | October 13, 2019

Excerpts:

Moscow is supporting Damascus to ensure that extremists never reach Russia’s borders

Damascus has to take responsibility for the country’s political and social problems, but these internal issues would not be resolved by allowing Syria to be overrun by extremists, Putin told RT Arabic, explaining Russia’s rationale for entering the conflict there in September 2015.

“We came to Syria to support the legitimate government… It does not mean that they do not have internal problems… It does not mean that the current leadership is not responsible for what is going on there. They are, but it does not mean that we were to allow terrorist organisations to capture Syria and to establish a terrorist pseudo-state there.”

“We still remember what happened in Russia’s North Caucasus region not that long ago,” Putin said, referring to the bloody conflicts in Chechnya and making the case for protecting Russian borders from terrorism spill-over.

“We could not allow militants to move to former Soviet republics. We do not have hard borders or a visa regime with them. We could not allow militants to infiltrate Russia from there.”

Supporting “rebels” in the Middle East and North Africa, like Washington and its Gulf and European allies has routinely done, has had disastrous effects for global security, Putin pointed out. The invasion of Iraq led to an insurgency that later created Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS), he said, and NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in Libya created a “chaos and confusion” that is still seen today.

‘Syria must be free of foreign military presence’

Russia will be least affected if US exit from INF treaty brings back arms race, Putin says

A renewed arms race between the US and Russia would be bad for the world but Moscow won’t be dragged into excessive military spending, as it has already developed next gen weapons of “unmatched” capabilities, Vladimir Putin said.

The Russian president discussed Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a joint interview with RT Arabic, UAE-based Sky News Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya broadcasters.

“I do understand the US concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defenses, Russia and the US have tied their own hands with this treaty.”

However, Putin pointed out that “it was not worth ruining the deal,” which helped the US and Russia by precluding the fielding in Europe of ground-based missiles with a range of between 500km and 5,500km, and which remained the cornerstone of security on that continent since 1987. “I believe there were other ways out of the situation,” he added.
Also on rt.com Russia offers NATO a moratorium on missile deployment, but won’t sacrifice its own security to prove its goodwill

The New START Treaty, which came into effect in 1994 and limits the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers possessed by the two countries, is the final element that could “prevent us from falling back into a full-scale arms race,” Putin warned.

That deal expires in 2021 and, “to make sure it is extended, we need to be working on it right now,” he said.

But if an arms race couldn’t ultimately be avoided, the President assured interviewers that “Russia will be the least affected party because… we already have the next generation of weapons, and these are unprecedented, with unmatched capabilities. We have done our homework. We do not need to rush now and can calmly think of what can be done next.”

An arms race is a bad thing, and it will not be good for the world. However, we will not be dragged into exorbitant budget-spending games.

The reason for Russia obtaining those state-of-the-art weapons, despite being only sixth globally in terms of military spending – behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia, UK, France and Japan, is “focused research on priority areas,” he explained.

Read/watch the full interview here.

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The World Turned Upside Down

By Martin Sieff | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 13, 2019

When a still-bewildered General Earl Charles Cornwallis surrendered his entire army to George Washington and to the Comte de Rochambeau at Yorktown in 1781, according to legend, a British military band heightened the humiliation by playing a ballad called, “The World Turned Upside Down.” The composer Lin Manuel Miranda later reimagined the song as a hit number in his acclaimed modern musical “Hamilton.”

In a time without speed of light communications, telegraph wires, radio or Internet, the fall of the British Empire in America still rocked the entire world. It was celebrated and welcomed from the Emir of Kuwait to the Tsarina Catherine in St. Petersburg.

Yet when the Houthi rebel movement that controls much of Yemen wiped out three Saudi Brigades and inflicted at least 2,500 casualties at the end of September, the Western media ignored it.

The outstanding analysis of Frederico Pierracini on this web site still stands virtually alone in offering unparalleled assessment of that event.

It is out of fashion among Western commentators to admit that any “decisive battles” can happen anywhere unless they are safely in the past and the United States has won them. But when the Nazi Wehrmacht overthrew the legendary French Army in six weeks of operations in 1940 and when the Red Army wiped out the elite combat forces of the Nazis at Stalingrad in the fall of 1942, those battles were indeed decisive and the clock could never be turned back from them.

The humiliating defeat that the Houthis have just inflicted on the Saudis is of comparable epochal significance. It does far, far more than confirm the victory of the Houthis in the long, needlessly prolonged civil war in Yemen that has killed at least 100,000 civilians over the past four years. The Houthis are now poised to bring the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself crashing down.

There is dark poetic justice to this development. The House of Saud will fall as it rose, by a clash of arms in which a young, harsh but dedicated revolutionary movement challenged a worthless old reactionary regime supported by the great imperial power of the day and then destroyed it.

Saudi Arabia’s founding father King Abdulaziz ibn Saud was a dashing, charismatic young tribal leader whose conquest of Arabia from the previously dominant but lethargic, petty, and corrupt Hashemite Dynasty eerily foreshadows the rise of the Houthis today.

The Hashemites enjoyed the religious leadership of the Holy Cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina. They had previously served the Ottoman Turkish Empire but during World War I, they eagerly embraced the British Empire whom the family correctly judged to be on the rise and certain to supplant the Turks as the dominant empire of the Middle East.

This Hashemite reading of global strategy was correct. But there was one insurmountable problem. Sherif Hussein of Mecca was such a uniformly despised, unjust and unsympathetic loser that he was capable of leading no one, and most of his family was no better.

The British led by Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill embraced the Hashemites in the 1920s and put one of Sherif Hussein’s sons, King Feisal I on the throne of Iraq. Even with British military support, the family was hated there too. In 1958, the entire Hashemite Royal Family of Iraq was machine gunned to death in Baghdad in a massacre that shocked the world.

Back in the mid-1920s, Sherif Hussein himself had already been driven out of Arabia by Abdelaziz and the House of Saud. Not all the might of the British Empire and not all the efforts of Winston Churchill could save him.

So when the time came to explore the oil resources of Arabia, Abdelaziz spurned the British and gave the vital concessions to American oil companies instead. In May 1933, the Saudi Arabian government granted a concession to SoCal – the Standard Oil Company of California – in preference to a rival bid from the British-controlled Iraq Petroleum Company. It was the forerunner of today’s giant Saudi Aramco oil corporation.

However, all the fabled Saudi oil wealth of the past 80 years was based on their previous conquest of the Arabian Peninsula. The core military lesson was clear: Brave, passionate troops with dynamic, energetic leaders will always beat wealthier, larger and better equipped forces led by tired, corrupt and worthless rulers.

Now history is repeating itself, except this time the Saudis are going to be its losers not its winners.

The Houthi victory serves notice that the Saudis have met their nemesis. Arrogant, reckless young Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has had ample time over the past few years ago to call off his ferocious, cruel and bloody air campaign against the people of Yemen. He did not do so and it is too late now.

Payback is coming. And it will not stop at the borders of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The world is about to turn upside down again.

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

Yemen’s Ansarullah offers new prisoner swap deal to Saudi-backed ex-govt

Press TV – October 11, 2019

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has offered the Saudi-backed former government a new deal for exchange of prisoners over a week after the popular movement unilaterally released hundreds of detainees.

Head of Yemen’s National Committee for Prisoners Affairs (NCPA), Abdulqader al-Mortada, said Friday the group had told “local mediators” that it was ready to implement a prison exchange within one week.

“We are waiting for the other side to respond,” he noted, according to a report by Al Masirah TV.

The Ansarullah official said the deal offered to the other side would cover 2,000 prisoners in the “first phase”.

The offer came days after the Houthi movement released hundreds prisoners, including three Saudi nationals, in its latest goodwill gesture.

Through the release, the Ansarullah movement and its allies in the Yemeni army said they sought to underline their commitment to peace negotiations held in Sweden last December.

The talks with Yemen’s Saudi-backed former government resulted in an agreement, which calls for a ceasefire in Hudaydah, a prisoner exchange and a statement of understanding on the southern city of Ta’izz.

The unilateral release of prisoners proved Ansarullah’s “credibility in implementing the Sweden agreement and we call on the other party to take a comparable step,” the NCPA head said at the time.

The released detainees were “included in the prisoner lists of the Sweden deal,” Mortada said in a press conference.

Mortada noted that the Ansarullah movement launched the initiative due to the big delay in the implementation of the prisoner swap deal.

It is the latest goodwill gesture from the Ansarullah movement which called for a cessation of strikes in September.

President of the Supreme Political Council in the Yemeni capital, Mahdi al-Mashat, on September 20 said the Ansarullah movement would stop targeting Saudi territories with drones and ballistic missiles, hoping Riyadh would reciprocate the gesture.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the former regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 over the past four and a half years.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Iranian oil tanker hit by two blasts in Red Sea

Press TV – October 11, 2019

Two separate explosions, possibly caused by missile attacks, have hit an Iranian oil tanker operated by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) near the Saudi port city of Jeddah, in what Tehran calls a “dangerous adventure”.

The incident took place some 60 miles from Jeddah early Friday, according to a statement by the NITC.

The explosions have hit the vessel’s hull, causing heavy damages to the vessel’s two main tanks, which has resulted in an oil spill in the Red Sea. The spill is currently stopped, according to officials.

Technical experts are currently investigating the cause of the explosion. They believe it was a “terrorist attack”, unnamed sourced told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).

The statement by NITC said the SABITI tanker was hit by two separate explosions at 5:00 and 5:20 am Friday, probably after being struck by missiles.

It said the crew members are currently safe and none of them has been harmed in the explosions. The tanker is currently in a stable condition, the statement added.

The NITC later dismissed the reports that the vessel had caught fire, according to the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum’s official news agency SHANA.

‘Dangerous adventure’

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman later described the attack as “a dangerous adventure”, warning that all the responsibilities fall on those behind it.

“The investigations conducted by the National Iranian Tanker Company indicate the Iranian tanker has sustained damages after being targeted twice, at half-hourly intervals, from a place near its shipping route in the east of the Red Sea,” Abbas Mousavi said Friday.

He expressed concern about the maritime pollution caused by the massive oil spill in the region after damages inflicted on the vessel’s tanks, and said, “All the responsibilities for the act, including the extensive environmental pollution in the region, fall on those behind the dangerous adventure.”

He also noted that a probe is being conducted on the details of the attack and those behind it, and the results will be announced once it’s done.

Earlier in the day, the US Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet announced it is aware of media reports about the blast but had no further information.

“We are aware of the reports but we don’t have any further information,” a spokesman said.

The blasts have caused oil prices to jump by over 2 percent, media reports said.

The explosions came a few months after Iranian oil tanker Happiness-1 faced “engine failure” and lost its control with 26 on board off the Red Sea port of Jeddah, and was later transferred to the port city for maintenance.

According to Iranian officials, the incident had occurred on April 30 while Happiness I was on its way to the Suez Canal, and that water had leaked into the tanker’s engine room.

The Saudis refused to let the vessel leave and demanded that Iran pay $200,000 a day for maintaining the vessel in the port, some $10 million in total. It was finally released on July 20 and returned home.

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Iraq says all evidence points to ‘malicious hands’ in protests

Press TV – October 7, 2019

Iraqi officials say there are “malicious hands” behind the killing of both protesters and security forces during the recent spate of unrest in Baghdad and some other cities.

Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan confirmed for the first time on Sunday that 104 people had been killed, including eight security officers, and more than 6,000 wounded in the protests.

Maan said the ministry was working with other government institutions to find out who was behind the killings. According to medical sources, the majority of protesters killed were struck by bullets.

The protests began last Tuesday, with demonstrators calling for better living conditions. The rallies soon turned into riots as some protesters started vandalizing public properties and attempted to enter the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad — which houses government offices and foreign diplomatic missions.

On Saturday night, armed elements and violent rioters attempted to take over local TV stations in Baghdad after the government removed a days-long curfew.

Maan said protesters burned 51 public buildings and eight political party headquarters but Iraqi security forces did not confront them.

According to the spokesman, most of those killed on Friday had been shot in the head or heart, a sign that skilled snipers had carried out the killings.

Officials say there are attempts at “sedition” from “unidentified snipers” who shot police and protesters indiscriminately.

“We can’t accept the continuation of the situation like this,” Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told his Cabinet late Saturday. “We hear of snipers, firebombs, burning a policeman, a citizen.”

Parliament speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi echoed the premier’s remarks, saying that “infiltrators” were wreaking havoc. He said the parliament had formed a committee to investigate the matter.

Iraqi security officials have made it clear that their forces would not use lethal force against protesters unless their lives were in danger.

On Sunday night, at least 13 people were killed in clashes with security forces in a district of capital, where the military admitted some forces had violated the rules of engagement.

“Excessive force outside the rules of engagement was used and we have begun to hold accountable those commanding officers who carried out these wrong acts,” the military said in a statement.

There are unconfirmed reports that some foreign diplomatic missions are trying to keep the flames of the unrest alive by sending mercenaries into the ranks of protesters to cause more violence.

Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported Saturday that Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Baghdad had been hiring paid snipers to take out people and guards alike. The report made similar allegations against the US Embassy staff.

There were no immediate official reactions to the claims.

On Sunday, the Iraqi government announced a series of reforms after an “extraordinary” session overnight in response to the sweeping unrest.

The governor of the province of Baghdad, Fallah al-Jazairi, also stepped down and members of the provincial council accepted his resignation.

Confronted by its biggest challenge since coming to power just under a year ago, Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet issued a decree including 17 planned reforms, such as land distributions and increased welfare stipends for needy families.

Authorities have asked protesters to give them time to implement reform. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shia cleric of Iraq, on Friday urged security forces and protesters to avoid violence.

Iraq declared victory over the Daesh terrorist group at the end of 2017 — after nearly four years of conflict.

The violence comes as millions of Shia pilgrims are preparing to travel to the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to attend Arba’een ceremonies, marking the fortieth day after the martyrdom anniversary of their third Imam, Hussein ibn Ali (AS).

Iraq recently reopened its al-Qa’im border crossing with Syria and accused the occupying regime of Israel of orchestrating a string of recent drone strikes on Iraqi popular mobilization forces.

Tehran-based political analyst Hussein Sheikholeslam said Saturday the unrest is a product of US efforts to weaken “the resistance axis,” which is the key pillar of rising opposition to American and Israeli plans in the Middle East.

Hashd ready protect government, punish saboteurs

Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), or Hashd al-Sha’abi, announced Monday that it is ready to help prevent “a coup d’etat or a rebellion” in the wake of the violence.

Faleh al-Fayyad, the PMU head and Iraq’s national security Adviser, told reporters that he wanted to see “the fall of corruption, not the fall of the government.”

He was referring to demands by some protesters for Abdul-Mahdi to step down in order to perform a complete overhaul of the country’s political system.

“We tell the enemies and the conspirators that their efforts have failed,” he said in a press conference. “We will defend the constitution and the government that we have established with our blood and our lives.”

Fayyad said eradicating corruption and achieving economic prosperity is only possible if the government stays in office.

“The government and on top of it the prime minister do their best to complete the transition,” Fayyad said. “In the absence of government security is lost and it is only within this framework that a solution can be reached.”

He also pledged a crushing response to those who perpetrated violence and killed and injured people.

“We know who is behind letting some saboteurs infiltrate the demonstrations,” he said, adding “we have footage and intelligence that we will present when time is appropriate.”

Iraqi PM discusses situation with Pompeo

Abdul-Mahdi’s office issued a statement on Monday, saying the prime minister had discussed the situation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

According to the statement, Abdul-Mahdi told the US top diplomat that the government was in full control and planning to continue taking practical steps to meet people’s demands.

Later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Baghdad on what Moscow said was a two-day working trip.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 1 Comment

Yemen Is Now Saudi Arabia’s “Vietnam War”

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 1, 2019

Something does not appear right in Saudi Arabia. Although the Wahhabi Kingdom has a technological, demographical and economical advantage over Yemen, it has completely failed to break the Yemeni resistance, headed by the Houthi-led Ansarullah Movement. The Ansarullah Movement has not just been on the defensive against Saudi Arabia’s advancements, but has also taken the fight directly to them despite the Kingdom controlling the seas and the high skies.

On September 14, the Yemeni Resistance attacked a Saudi Aramco oil facility, causing billions of dollars in damage that will take months to completely fix. However, it is the capture of thousands of Saudi soldiers, including high-ranking officers, and mercenaries that has consolidated the idea that Saudi Arabia is experiencing its own so-called “Vietnam War.”

Although Saudi Arabia has the fifth biggest military budget in the world, ahead of even Russia, France and the United Kingdom, it has not been able to dislodge the Ansarullah Movement from power. With Saudi Arabia dropping bombs indiscriminately in Yemen, including on mosques, markets, schools, hospitals, wedding parties and funeral processions, the country has become the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. Even Ansarullah leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi has visibly lost a significant amount of weight over the course of the war as over 10 million Yemenis are starving or on the verge of starvation.

Saudi Arabia’s state budget is fuelled by oil and the Aramco company is in the six largest corporations globally, with annual revenue of around $350 billion recently, about the GDP of Denmark. Yemen is far off from Saudi Arabia in every developmental metric, but yet, they have not been able to dislodge the Ansarullah Movement from the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

Saudi Arabia has mobilized about 150,000 of its soldiers and mostly Sudanese mercenaries, and has used hundreds of jets with U.S.-provided weapons to attack Yemen and its infrastructure because of their defiance in not being subjugated to Riyadh’s demands. Saudi officials also went on a diplomatic mission to include Morocco, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sudan in their war against Yemen. This was all in an effort to remove what Riyadh believes to be an Iranian proxy on its border, an allegation both the Ansarullah Movement and Tehran deny.

Ansarullah have not just remained passive as the Saudi-led coalition began its aggression, and have utilized rockets and drones to attack directly into Saudi Arabia’s southern regions, despite the Kingdom possessing the U.S.-made Patriot Missile Defense System. Although Saudi Arabia has air and naval superiority, it cannot convert this control into successes on the ground, and rather has relied on mercenaries, to fight its war against the Ansarullah Movement.

One is not motivated to unnecessarily die for the sake of money, but are willing to take the risk of dying, two very different things. It is for this reason, on Saturday, the Ansarullah Movement captured over a thousand soldiers from the Saudi Coalition, mostly low-ranking soldiers and Sudanese mercenaries, but also some high-ranking officers, when they were surrounded and ambushed. The mercenaries are willing to fight for money, but not die in vain, which is why they surrendered en masse when flanked by the Ansarullah fighters.

Well, comparisons with Vietnam can certainly begin to be drawn now. It is much deeper than the analogy of David and Goliath, as by all means, the odds should be further into Riyadh’s favor rather than Goliath’s was against David.

Saudi Arabia has used all their political leverage in the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council, invested billions into a costly war that it had no reason to intervene in and suffered a dramatic defeat. How could the Ansarullah Movement with limited resources and on the verge of starvation do this? It was concluded by Riyadh that the only explanation for this embarrassment is that Iran orchestrated the attack against Aramco and captured the thousands of soldiers. This bares resemblance to when the U.S. refused to recognize that the Vietnamese were defeating them, and credited the Vietnamese victory directly to the Soviet Union and China, rather than the Vietnamese people.

Riyadh diverting attention away from the Ansarullah movement helps them save face as they can accredit the victories to a rival anti-U.S. and anti-Israel regional power, Iran. Therefore, this can help legitimize a U.S. intervention in Yemen as Saudi-Iranian relations are traditionally poor over theocratical, geopolitical and economic reasons.

More importantly, it could bait Washington to justify military aggression against Iran. However, for the U.S. and Israel, the possibility of waging a “proxy conflict” between Saudi Arabia and Iran would be preferable with their limited intervention. This is a risky gambit as Saudi Arabia produces about 15% of crude oil globally, and can significantly influence the world economy.

Although it would be in Saudi Arabia’s interest to avoid being bogged down in an endless war that drains its resources and manpower, as the U.S. had experienced in their invasion of Vietnam, there is little suggestion that it will disengage from what is the Arab world’s poorest country.

Simply comparing the military budgets of Saudi Arabia and/or the U.S.’ with Yemen or Iran, is not enough to predict a final outcome of this conflict, as Saudi Arabia is learning the hard way with the continued setbacks. With over a thousand soldiers and mercenaries captured, it shows Riyadh has a fighting force lacking motivation and willingness. This is completely opposite to the Ansarullah Movement that believes its engaged in an anti-imperialist struggle.

If Saudi Arabia is to avoid further economic risk and military embarrassments, it would be in the primary interest of Saudi Arabia to disengage in Yemen and accept its losses on this front in the wider Saudi-Iranian geopolitical rivalry. Just as the U.S. finally found the sense to withdraw from Vietnam after a long 18 year involvement that resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths, Riyadh now must find its sense, much quicker than Washington’s policy towards Vietnam, and accept the situation in Yemen is untenable and unwinnable.

Paul Antonopoulos is the director of the Multipolarity research centre.

October 1, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Three Saudi Brigades Annihilated in Devastating Houthi Offensive in Saudi Arabia

By Federico Pieraccini | Strategic Culture Foundation | September 30, 2019

Many may have hitherto been led to believe that the Houthis were a ragtag armed force lacking in sophistication. Many, seeing the drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil plants, may have declared it to be a false-flag attack carried out by Riyadh to boost Aramco’s market value; either that or it was an operation carried out by Iran or even Israel. On Saturday September 28, the Houthis put paid to such speculation by confirming what many, like myself, have been writing for months; that is, that the asymmetrical tactics of the Houthis, combined with the conventional capabilities of the Yemeni army, are capable of bringing the Saudi kingdom of Mohammed Bin Salman to its knees.

The Yemeni army’s missile forces are able to carry out highly complex attacks, no doubt as a result of reconnaissance provided by the local Shia population within the Kingdom that is against the House of Saud’s dictatorship. These Houthi sympathisers within Saudi Arabia helped in target identification, carried out reconnaissance within the plants, found the most vulnerable and impactful points, and passed this intelligence on to the Houthis and Yemeni army. These Yemeni forces employed locally produced means to severely degrade Saudi Arabia’s crude-oil-extraction and processing plants. The deadly strikes halved oil production and threatened to continue with other targets if the Saudi-conducted genocide in Yemen did not stop.

On Saturday 29 the Houthis and the Yemeni army conducted an incredible conventional attack lasting three days that began from within Yemen’s borders. The operation would have involved months of intelligence gathering and operational planning. It was a far more complex attack than that conducted against Aramco’s oil facilities. Initial reports indicate that the forces of the Saudi-led coalition were lured into vulnerable positions and then, through a pincer movement conducted quickly within Saudi territory, the Houthis surrounded the town of Najran and its outskirts and got the better of three Saudi brigades numbering in the thousands and including dozens of senior officers as well as numerous combat vehicles. This event is a game changer, leaving the US, Mike Pompeo and the Israelis and Saudis unable to lay the blame on Iran as all this took place a long way from Iran.

The large-scale operation was preceded by Yemeni rocket artillery targeting Jizan airport, with 10 missiles paralyzing any movements to and from the airport, including denying the possibility of air support for the encircled troops. The Houthis also hit the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh in a key operation that targeted Apache helicopters, forcing them to leave the area. Nearby military bases were also targeted so as to cut off any reinforcements and disrupt the chain of command. This led to the Saudi forces fleeing in disorganization. Images shown by the Houthis show a road in the middle of a valley on the outskirts of Najran with dozens of Saudi armored vehicles trying to flee while being attacked from both sides by Houthi RPGs together with heavy and light weapons. Visual confirmation of the debacle can be seen in the number of casualties as well as in the number of prisoners taken. Images show lines of Saudi prisoners walking under Yemeni guard towards prison camps. This is something extraordinary to behold: the Saudi army, the third largest purchaser of weapons in the world, getting comprehensively walloped by one of the poorest countries in the world. The numbers say it all: the Houthis were able to control more than 350 kilometers of Saudi territory. Given that the Saudi military budget is almost 90 billion dollars a year, this achievement is made all the more extraordinary.

Houthi forces employed drones, missiles, anti-aircraft systems, as well as electronic warfare to prevent the Saudis from supporting their troops with aviation or other means to assist their trapped men. Testimony from Saudi soldiers suggest that efforts to rescue them were half-hearted and of little effect. Saudi prisoners of war accuse their military leaders of having left them prey to their opponents.

The Yemeni army and the Houthis were within less than 10 days able to inflict a devastating blow to both the credibility of US defense systems and the Saudi military. They did this by employing creative methods suitable for the objective at hand.

They initially revealed the internal vulnerability of the Kingdom through such a level of penetration into Saudi Arabia that they were able to conduct internal reconnaissance through the assistance of infiltrators or local collaborators so as to know exactly where to hit the oil installations for maximum effect and damage.

They subsequently demonstrated their technical and cyber capabilities through an asymmetrical operation employing drones of various types as well as electronic warfare to blind the US Patriot system’s radars, in the process halving Saudi Arabia’s oil production for a period of time Aramco is yet to determine.

Finally, the most surprising and astounding aspect of these recent events is this most recent Yemeni ground operation that was carried out in hostile territory and succeeded in surrounding three brigades consisting of thousands of men and their equipment. Thousands of Yemeni soldiers loyal to Ansarullah (Houthis) took part in this successful operation, supported by drones, ground-attack aircraft and air-defense batteries. Such capabilities are ordinarily better associated with well-trained and well-equipped militaries rather than militaries coming from the Third World.

The Houthis issued a clear message to Riyadh when they hit its oil installations. They effectively let it be known that they had the means and capability to damage the Kingdom irreparably, leading ultimately to the overthrow of the House of Saud.

The Yemeni army spokesman announced, after hitting the Saudi oil facilities, that they would stop all offensive actions using drones and missiles, leaving it up to Riyadh to decide whether things stopped there and they sat down at the negotiating table to end the conflict, or whether Saudi Arabia was in the mood for more of the same treatment.

Mohammed bin Salman would no doubt have received manifold reassurances from the Americans, explaining away the failure of the Patriot systems and assuring him that more American assistance was on the way; and that it would, moreover, be impossible to come to an agreement with the Houthis, especially given that they are considered to be a proxy of the Iranians (a debunked lie); not to mention, of course, the huge loss of prestige that would befall the Saudis, Israelis and Americans were such a capitulation to occur.

There is already talk in Riyadh of receiving new supplies of the THAAD system (similarly useless against Houthi asymmetrical warfare) and other very expensive American air-defense systems. It is too bad for the Saudis that the US has nothing like the Pantsir and the Russian BUK systems, which allow for a multi-layered air defense, ideal for defending against small, low-flying drones and missiles that are difficult to intercept with such systems as the Patriot and THAAD.

Instead of starting peace talks to stop the ongoing genocide in Yemen and being hit again by the Houthis in response, Mohammed bin Salman and his advisors seem to have seen it fit to commit further war crimes in Yemen.

Faced with such intransigence, the Houthis went ahead with a new attack even more devastating for Saudi morale and discombobulating for Western policy-makers. Thousands of men and their equipment were either killed, wounded, or taken captive in a pincer movement reminiscent of the DPR and LNR’s actions in Ukraine in 2015 where Kiev’s forces was similarly surrounded and destroyed.

Usually such pincer movements require thorough reconnaissance to determine where best to surround the enemy. Furthermore, air support and air-defense systems would be necessary to ward off American and Saudi responses. In addition to all this, troops and their equipment are needed together with the necessary training for such assaults that require coordination as well as quick and effective execution of orders. All these requirements were met as a result of the excellent preparation and knowledge of the terrain by the Yemeni army and the Houthis.

If the attack on Saudi oil facilities had such an impact, then the even more dramatic attack of this last Saturday will have forced Mohammed bin Salman and his American allies to face a very harsh reality. Saudi Arabia, it will now need to be recognized, does not have the capacity to defend its borders from Yemen, leaving the Houthis and the Yemeni army free to enter Saudi territory at will while showing little regard for the opinion and feelings of the Saudis and Americans.

This is a triple checkmate for the Houthis against Riyadh. Firstly, they showed that they had enough local support within Saudi Arabia to have ready internal saboteurs in the event of an all-out war with Iran or Yemen. Then they showed they have the capacity to cripple Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Ultimately, Yemen’s conventional forces could redraw the boundaries between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in the latter’s favor should Yemeni leaders decide to invade and occupy a strip of Saudi territory to secure a buffer zone, given that Saudi forces have been violating Yemen’s sovereignty and massacring civilians willy nilly for the last five years.

It bears reflecting on the significance of these events. The third-biggest arms spender in the world is incapable of defeating the poorest Arab country in the world. It is, moreover, incapable of protecting its national interest and borders from this impoverished Arab country. The Houthis are showing to the world what a poor but organized and motivated armed force can do using asymmetrical methods to bring one of the best-equipped militaries in the world to its knees. This conflict will be studied all over the world as an example of how a new means of warfare is possible when technological and cyber capabilities are democratized and available to those who know how to use them appropriately, as the Houthis have shown with their use of drones and electronic warfare.

With the Houthis enjoying a high level of leverage, through a combination of missile capabilities, the holding of many prisoners of war, and saboteurs spread throughout Saudi Arabia (apropos, a strange fire occurred in Jeddah on Sunday at the Al-Haramain railway station), it may be time for Riyadh to accept the tragic consequences of this useless war and sit down at the negotiating table with Ansarullah.

Washington and Tel Aviv will try in every way to prevent such negotiations. But if Mohammed bin Salman and his family wish to save their kingdom, it is better to start talking to the Houthis immediately. Otherwise it is only a matter of time before another attack by Ansarullah leads to the complete collapse and ruin of the House of Saud and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear issue at inflection point

French President Emmanuel Macron met Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani at UN Hqs, New York, Sept 24, 2019
By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 30, 2019

The unexpected move by the Pentagon to shift the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar to the Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina 7,000 miles away from the Middle East took place against the backdrop of the gathering storms in the regional environment. It injects a crisis atmosphere into regional politics.

To put the Pentagon move in perspective, in addition to hosting Qatari forces, the base also hosts the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the US Air Force. Other US military has been active in the country as well including the US Navy SEALS. The facility is also used by the British Royal Airforce. The al-Udeid Air Base is one of the few US airbases overseas where B-52 bombers, America’s largest warplane can land due to the long runways.

This is not the first time that the US temporarily relocated the CAOC. The last time it happened was 13 years ago. When tensions erupted between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, there was even talk of relocating the Central Command out of Qatar.

However, in the current scenario, the Pentagon move is undoubtedly related to the US’ mounting tensions with Iran. If push came to shove and a full blown US-Iran conflict erupts, the CAOC would be one of Iran’s priority targets. The CAOC is so critical to providing fire power for the US forces operating in the region that the Pentagon cannot take risks. The US commander of the 609th Air and Space Operations Center has been quoted as saying, “Iran has indicated multiple times through multiple sources their intent to attack US forces.”

How serious are the prospects of a US-Iran military conflict? Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani disclosed after his return to Tehran from New York that the two sides came breathtakingly close to a summit meeting on the sidelines of the UN GA in New York last week. Rouhani said,

“They (Americans) had sent messages to almost all European and no-European leaders that they wanted one-to-one negotiations between the two Presidents, but we had rejected it, saying that negotiations had to be done in the framework of P5+1, and they accepted.”

“Of course, 3 out of the 6 countries, that is the Chancellor of Germany, Prime Minister of Britain, and President of France all insisted for the meeting to be held, saying that the US would lift all sanctions. But the problem here is that under sanctions and maximum pressure, even if we want to negotiate with the Americans within the framework of P5+1, nobody can predict about the end and upshot of the negotiation.”

Significantly, last Tuesday, during the UNGA in New York, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) also spoke with noticeable restraint in a rare interview with CBS’ ’60 Minutes’. MbS warned, “If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests. Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.” And he went on to stay that a “political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one.”

Importantly, he was categorical that there should be a US-Iranian summit meeting, and added, “this is what we all ask for.” Conventional wisdom is that Saudi Arabia is petrified that the US may engage with Iran directly. But that is apparently not the case.

No doubt, the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October will be keenly watched. Prior to the Saudi visit, Putin will be meeting Rouhani on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in Yerevan on October 1 when the regional situation and the Iran nuclear deal will certainly be on the agenda of discussion.

This is a defining moment in Russian-Iranian relations too, as Iran is about to sign the formal agreement to join a free trade zone with the EAEU, which of course is a prestigious Kremlin project.

Moscow is cautiously optimistic that “Possibly we will achieve some positive solution (on the 2015 nuclear deal) over several months to come, or else the situation will continue to get worse,” to quote Russia’s representative at international organisations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov during a press conference on Friday to highlight that the Iran nuclear issue is approaching an inflection point.

But Iran is potentially inching its way back [?] in the nuclear weapons business, with a fourth step it is expected to take in early November to reduce its commitments under the 2015 deal. A report in the Guardian last week said the European Union has “privately warned Iran that it will be forced to start withdrawing from the nuclear deal in November if Tehran goes ahead with its threat to take new steps away from the deal… The EU told Iran that it would put the issue of Iranian non-compliance into the agreement’s formal dispute mechanism if the next Iranian move away from the deal is significant… Once the deal’s dispute mechanism is triggered, both sides have 30 days to prove significant non-compliance, and if necessary a world-wide sanctions snap-back occurs.”

The Guardian report put across the European dilemma on the following lines: “The difficulty is that Iran says the steps are reversible, but if they learn about building a nuclear bomb, that is irreversible.”

Iran is no longer finding the support it hoped for in Europe and could be susceptible to broad censure. Conversely, the US is getting the opportunity to restore a modicum of credibility with its allies and the international community, which would broaden the pressure on Iran.

On the other hand, a climb-down by Trump is becoming more difficult in the rising tumult of impeachment proceedings. But while he may appear to have boxed himself in, it is still up to him to offer to Iran that resuming compliance with the 2015 agreement would be met with concrete benefits, like the $15 billion bailout package France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has proposed.

Such a turn to events between now and November cannot be ruled out. After the UNGA, Trump hinted at willingness to negotiate. He said on Friday, “I don’t want military conflict. We’ve offered to talk, we’ve offered to discuss things… I’ve shown great restraint and hope that Iran likewise chooses peace.”

It is within these broad parameters that events may unfold in the coming months. Meanwhile, Pentagon is doing advance planning by shifting the CAOC away from the zone of conflict.

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Modi-Rouhani meeting is a morality play

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 27, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his 6-day long visit to the US with a bang — a stunning stage appearance with President Trump at the Howdy Modi in Houston last Sunday.

But on Thursday, he ended up with a hastily arranged meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in New York just before the latter’s departure for Tehran. The symbolism is at once obvious.

Only 4 days earlier, in a famous remark at the Howdy Modi, Trump thrilled the Sangh Parivar audience with a stirring call that the US and India should jointly fight “radical Islamic terrorism.” Modi and the audience cheered in the mistaken belief that Trump was condemning Pakistan, but only to be told the next day by POTUS himself that he was only referring to Iran.

However, if photo journalism is any indicator, Modi looked subdued at the meeting with Rouhani. It must have been a difficult meeting. The Iranian report was rather taciturn. The primary purpose seems to have been to break the ice.

The India-Iran relations have been on a roller-coaster under Modi’s watch. He gave high hopes to Rouhani when they met for the first time on the sidelines of the historic Ufa summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June 2015 by proposing multi-billion dollar investment plans in Iran’s economy spanning the industrial and infrastructural fields.

Rouhani took the idea seriously and fast-tracked the contract for India to develop and operate one of the container terminals in the strategic Chabahar Port in the Sistan-Baluchistan province, ignoring Pakistan’s disquiet over such an Indian presence hardly 80 kms from its restive border regions.

Rouhani upset the Pakistanis further by accepting the Indian offer to build a railway line connecting Chabahar with Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border further north.

Indians were jubilant that in geopolitical terms, India’s cooperation in regional connectivity with Iran matched China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

All that is history, of course. Iran’s ambassador to India Ali Chegeni regretted recently that India not only buckled under American pressure to stop its oil imports from Iran but also slowed down its project work at Chabahar. The tensions are showing. Iran has taken a critical position on the situation in J&K.

Yet, it was Iran which in 1994 had helped India to prevent an OIC resolution on the human rights situation in J&K from being tabled at the UN forum, breaking the IOC consensus and demanding that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Yes, Iran played a helpful role in ensuring that the Shia-dominated Kargil region of J&K stayed out of the Pakistan-sponsored insurgency in the early nineties. The Narasimha Rao government allowed the then Iranian Ambassador to India Sheikh Attar to visit Kargil when the region was closed to the international community and foreign media.

Yes, it was the same Iran with which India also had cooperation at the level of intelligence agencies in the early nineties.

What explains the present crisis? Succinctly put, India’s policies in the Persian Gulf have come under the influence of the Israel-Saudi-UAE axis. Indian diplomacy is quite adept at balancing the relations with Iran on one side and the Israel-Saudi-UAE troika on the other. But the present ruling elite abandoned that policy and began identifying with the troika.

Conceivably, the US encouraged this shift. But the main factor has been the bonhomie that has come to exist at the leadership with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. If a marker is to be put on the downhill slide of India-Iran relations, it must be Modi’s extended 5-day visit to Israel in July 2017.

India-Iran relations suffered as a result of Delhi’s gravitation toward the the orbit of what Iran calls the “B Team” of the US. Iran never stood in the way of India keeping diversified relationships in West Asia, including with its adversaries such as the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia, but the plain truth is Delhi simply cooled down on the relationship with Iran.

How the B Team worked on the Indian leadership remains a mystery, but the Israelis, Saudis and Emiratis played their cards well, knowing exactly which strings to be pulled among the movers and shakers of the present ruling dispensation in Delhi.

Suffice to say, Modi’s meeting with Rouhani on Thursday was an act of atonement. India is in a chastened mood today. Delhi dumped Iran as a major supplier of oil (on concessional terms) and instead opted to buy from the US and Saudi Arabia and the UAE (at market price), but there has been no quid pro quo.

Trump is deepening the US-Pakistan relations and has waded into the Kashmir issue. As for the Sheikhs, they probably had no intentions to make big investments in India. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, one of Modi’s closest friends in the world circuit, lost the election and if he fails to form the next government, may lose his immunity from prosecution and end up in jail.     

Without doubt, Modi has done the right thing by calling on Rouhani. India does not have many friends today. The Modi government’s image is very poor in the Muslim world. India’s march toward Hindu Rashtra and the lock down in J&K have generated negative opinion internationally.

Even “time-tested friends” like Russia are getting disillusioned with our “Chanakyan” diplomacy. How long can India remain ambivalent? Our credibility as a dependable partner is plunging.

It may seem an uphill task to repair the damage to India’s relationship with Iran. But on the contrary, it is easily undertaken if only there is political will. Tehran attaches high importance to India and Delhi needs to reciprocate that goodwill. The prospects are simply seamless to build a relationship of mutual benefit.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

US and EU Gang up to Demonize Iran Over Saudi Airstrikes

Strategic Culture Foundation | September 27, 2019

The European Union’s statement this week condemning Iran over the recent airstrikes on Saudi Arabia’s key oil industry sites was a tawdry piece of political cowardice. Not only tawdry, but dangerous as well.

For the EU is giving credence to Washington’s intensified attempts to demonize Iran, imposing ever-harsher economic sanctions and escalating tensions that could explode into an all-out war. Ironically, this is in spite of the EU claiming to be facilitating diplomacy to promote peace and security in the Middle East.

To be more precise, it wasn’t an EU joint statement issued at the United Nations general assembly this week. It was a statement formulated by only three members of the bloc: Britain, France and Germany. In practice, however, the biggest members of the EU were speaking on behalf of the others. (Full statement here.)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated the following:

“We condemn in the strongest terms the attacks on oil facilities on Saudi territory on September 14, 2019 in Abqaiq and Khurais, and reaffirm in this context our full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its population. It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation. We support ongoing investigations to establish further details.”

Thus, the Europeans are repeating assertions made by the United States and Saudi Arabia by which they accuse Iran of being responsible for firing drones and cruise missiles at the vital Saudi oil installations. No credible proof has so far been presented to support such an assertion.

The European powers are engaging in a reprehensible blame game which will only embolden further Washington’s reckless aggression against Iran.

Tehran has categorically rejected all accusations that it was in some way involved in the airstrikes against Saudi Arabia. The Yemeni Houthi rebels have from the outset following the attacks claimed full responsibility.

Iran may support the Yemeni rebels and have at some time provided weapon technology, but the Houthis are capable of developing and deploying their own fire power.

By blaming Iran, the US and Europeans are giving political cover to Saudi Arabia and its nefarious role in starting and waging a genocidal war against Yemen for the past four years. It is arguably the right of the Yemenis to retaliate against Saudi Arabia in acts of self-defense. And it is in Iran’s right to support the Yemenis, just as the US, British and French support Saudi Arabia. Why should there be a double standard?

What is even more despicable is that the European trio (the so-called E3) have been massive weapons suppliers to Saudi Arabia, in particular Britain and France. The British and French (and Americans, of course) have made hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years from weaponizing the Saudi war on Yemen, even though that has led to nearly 100,000 civilian deaths. Why doesn’t the E3 issue condemnation, rather than “solidarity” to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, over this genocidal slaughter?

A further aspect to the joint statement issued by Britain, France and Germany is that these powers are signaling their support for US President Donald Trump’s efforts at sabotaging the international nuclear accord with Iran. That landmark deal was co-signed by the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China back in July 2015.

Trump reneged on the UN-endorsed treaty when he unilaterally walked away from it in May 2018. It was typical American bad faith and backsliding whenever international agreements don’t suit their selfish interests.

Russia and China continue to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is known formally as). Iran has recently begun to suspend certain commitments, such as increasing stocks of enriched uranium. The Iranian position of partial non-compliance is understandable. The US has trashed its obligations to the deal, and the Europeans have barely stepped up to the plate to implement sanctions relief for Iran, which is mandated by the JCPOA. Four years after the deal was done!

Britain, France and Germany claim to be still committed to the nuclear deal, according to a press statement by EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Federica Mogherini at the UN this week.

But it is evident that, on the contrary, the E3 troika is instead moving to undermine the JCPOA. Blaming Iran with groundless accusations of attacking Saudi Arabia is part of the sinister shift by stealth. The day before the E3 issued their joint statement, Britain’s Boris Johnson was disparaging the nuclear as a “bad deal” and urged a renegotiation for what he sycophantically called a “Trump deal”.

Here is another weasel-worded section from the EU joint statement:

“Conscious of the importance of collective efforts to guarantee regional stability and security, we reiterate our conviction that the time has come for Iran to accept negotiation [sic] on a long-term framework for its nuclear program as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles program and other means of delivery… We urge Iran to engage in such a dialogue and refrain from further provocation and escalation.”

That is a clear – albeit with backhanded verbosity – attempt to pressure Iran into accepting Trump’s demand for the JCPOA to be replaced by further restrictions on Iran’s rights to pursue self-defense and normal regional and international relations. In weak-kneed fashion, the EU is augmenting Trump’s agenda of demonizing and criminalizing Iran so that it might succumb to subjugation.

Why the Europeans are acting with such cynicism is to conceal the glaring fact of their own weakness vis-a-vis Washington’s dictates and imperialist bullying. They should be admonishing the Americans for bad faith and reckless aggression; they should be condemning Saudi Arabia for a merciless slaughter in Yemen; they should be with-holding lucrative weapons sales to Saudi Arabia if they were really interested in peace; and if the Europeans really were genuine about non-proliferation and Middle Eastern stability, they should be whole-heartedly implementing the nuclear accord with Iran and providing the country the normalized economic trade that it is entitled to – just as Russia and China have done.

But no. And so to cover up their spinelessness, the Europeans are obliged to gang up with Washington to blame the victim of imperialist abuse – Iran. Such European cowardice is leading to more conflict.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudis Blame Iran for Aramco Strikes But Retaliate by Bombing Yemeni Civilians

By Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News | September 24, 2019

AMRAN, YEMEN — Unlike the burning fields of neighboring Saudi Arabia, in Yemen scenes of massive fires have become commonplace, a reality that civilians do not accept but have come to expect. For nearly five years, since the Saudi-led Coalition began its bombing campaign in Yemen, Yemeni residents have watched as their neighbors’ homes have burned to the ground, often with whole families still inside, and as schools, factories, hospitals, mosques, and markets are rendered into piles of soot and ash following massive infernos sparked by near-constant Saudi airstrikes. Yet, unlike the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, rarely do the attacks on Yemen garner international media coverage or condemnation.

Thirty-two-year-old Yemeni Bedouin Saleh Masoud Jarwan did not expect that he and his family would be the next victims of the Saudi airstrikes, but on Monday Saleh was killed along with six family members in an airstrike by Coalition jets in Yemen’s Amran province. Saleh had hoped that Yemen would be safe after the attack on the Saudi Aramco facility, assuming that the attack would be enough to encourage the Kingdom to halt its drone and missile attacks against Yemen.

The scene of the attack was illuminated in red from the massive fires that followed the airstrikes, and this fire was not fueled by oil but by the bodies of more than ten civilians, including women and children. The screaming and crying of two children who survived the initial onslaught provided a backdrop to the shouts of rescuers who frantically worked their shovels and called out to victims as they worked to free Saleh and his family from the rubble of the mosque that collapsed on them in the airstrike.  

A sustained Saudi barrage

The Coalition is estimated to have carried out at least 42 airstrikes in just a 24-hour period alone. By 2 a.m. on Sunday, local residents in the al-Sawad district of North Amran were living in horror as they sheltered in schools and mosques hoping to escape death from above as at least 12 Coalition airstrikes leveled their neighborhood. Thekra, Moamer, and Kubra — three young girls between the ages of three and eight — were among those who took refuge in a local mosque, only to be killed after Saudi warplanes brought it down over their heads.

In the village of al-Addi in the Harf Sufyan district, the air was suffused with the smell of charred bodies after a Saudi airstrike hit a car, instantly killing the two civilians inside. That attack was followed hours later by airstrikes targeting the nearby home of Ahmed Jimaie.

On Tuesday, 16 civilians, including four women and seven children, were killed when Saudi airstrikes hit the home of Abbas al-Halmi in Qataba, Al-Dali governorate, according to a local resident who spoke to MintPress but was unable to provide further details on the attack. The bodies of three children were later recovered from the rubble of that attack, adding to the already staggering death toll.

Saudis blame Iran, punish Yemen

The Grand Mufti of Yemen, Shams al-Din Sharaf al-Din, the highest religious authority in Yemen, laid blame on those who declared solidarity with Saudi Arabia following last week’s Aramco attacks but remain silent in the face of atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen.

These latest Saudi-led Coalition attacks came days after Yemen’s Houthis announced responsibility for a spate of retaliatory attacks against positions inside Saudi Arabia. It is unclear why the Coalition launched the ostensibly retaliatory attacks on Yemen, as they claim that it was Iran, not the Houthis, that carried out the oil-field attacks.

Mahdi al-Mashat, Ansarullah’s (the Houthis’ political bloc) president of the Supreme Political Council in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, warned that Yemenis would not hesitate to “launch a period of great pain if their calls for peace were ignored.” Al-Mashat made the comments following an announcement that the Houthis would temporarily cease all retaliatory missile and drone attacks against the Saudi monarchy as part of a Yemeni peace initiative. Al-Mashat said:

We announce the cessation of the targeting of Saudi Arabia’s territory by airborne missiles, ballistic missiles, drones and all forms of targeting, and we await a response to this initiative with a similar or a better one to halt all forms of attack.”

That announcement came just three days before the Coalition launched its deadly attacks in Amran.

The United Nations welcomed Ansarullah’s proposal, saying in a statement issued on Saturday by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, that it marked an important opportunity to move forward with all necessary steps to reduce violence, military escalation, and unhelpful rhetoric.

Griffiths emphasized that the implementation of the proposal by the Houthis was in good faith and could send a powerful message of their will to end the war. Saudi Arabia has so far refused to accept the offer and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir dismissed it, saying, “We judge other parties by their deeds [and] actions and not by their words, so we will see.”

The peace initiative follows Houthi airstrikes on two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, which led to a suspension of about 50 percent of the Arab kingdom’s crude and gas production. That attack on a vital economic interest of the Kingdom garnered widespread support among many in Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a. On September 14, the day of that attack, hundreds of thousands of residents from Sana’a and its neighboring provinces took to the streets carrying Yemeni flags and holding banners emblazoned with messages of steadfastness and support for Houthi drone and missile forces.

Many Yemenis see Aramco attack as justified last line of self-defense

For many, the Houthis’ setting fire to the Kingdom’s Aramco oil fields represented the last hope to quell Saudi attacks on Yemen. In a staggering show of solidarity on Sunday, an estimated 1,200 cars filled the streets of 70th Area, a neighborhood in southern Sana’a, to drop off food donations for families of victims of Saudi airstrikes. According to many of the families, the attack on Aramco is revenge for the blood of the estimated 100,000 people killed in the Saudi-led Coalition’s war in Yemen.

Indeed, the Coalition has used systematic economic strangulation as a weapon of war — targeting jobs, infrastructure, the agricultural sector, fuel and water pumping stations, factories, and the provision of basic services, as well as imposing a land, sea and air embargo impacting the country’s imports, causing the spread of famine throughout the country. This, to the many in Yemen who celebrated the Aramco attack, is sufficient justification for targeting the heart of Saudi Arabia’s economy.

However, many still doubt that the Houthis were capable of carrying out an attack of the scale and range of the one that struck Saudi Arabia — instead accusing Iran of orchestrating the attacks. Others await the results of an international investigation, but the Houthis, who comprise a major component of Yemen’s resistance to Saudi interference in their country, say the evidence that they carried out the attacks exists and that they will share it with the media.

The Houthis over the past two years have launched a series of sophisticated attacks on Saudi coalition targets deep inside the Kingdom, establishing a precedent for the most recent attacks. Houthi officials say the attacks on the Aramco facilities were launched from three different locations, based on their flight endurance and designated targets, and that various types of combat drones were used in the attack, some capable of carrying four precision-guided bombs and of striking their targets from several angles.

Moreover, the Houthis’ third-generation Qasef (Striker) combat drones and long-endurance Sammad-3 (Invincible-3) drones have an operational range of 1,500 kilometers to 1,700 kilometers.

The attack on Aramco came at a time when the de facto leader of the Kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was attempting to refloat the much-delayed public offering of Aramco shares, and that attack would not likely not have succeeded without the cooperation of members of Saudi royalty and former Saudi officers, according to some Houthi sources.

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

September 24, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 20 Comments

Beware False Flag Drone Attacks

Opinion by Walrus | Sic Semper Tyrannis | September 21, 2019

The corollary to the Houthis brilliant use of do – it – yourself drones and perhaps cruise missiles, is that anyone else can do the same. This makes the possibility of false flag attacks using such weapons more likely in my opinion. Such attacks would not even necessarily require the resources of a State actor to execute, all the materials, bar perhaps the explosive, are freely available around the globe.

I will not explain the mechanics of manufacturing such weapons. Take it from me that a group of determined hobbyists could do so, provided they have sufficient security and money. Such weapons could be labeled for example “made in Iran” in such depth that it would be impossible to refute their origin, no matter how good ones forensics are.

A State actor, perhaps bent on mischief, could do this rather quickly. While this is just a guess, I would be surprised if various Western countries security services did not already have an operation underway to replicate the Houthi achievements, if only to answer the politicians question: “How did they do that??” and to start thinking about countermeasures.

My reason for being concerned enough to raise this topic is that President Trump has committed troops to Saudi Arabia and we already have other troops and assets in the region. If they were subject to attack and we took casualties, I don’t see how the President could avoid war assuming Iran was blamed.

What triggered me was this article in the WSJ (paywalled) whose opening sentence is:

Yemeni Rebels Warn Iran Plans Another Strike Soon

“BEIRUT—Houthi militants in Yemen have warned foreign diplomats that Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that crippled Saudi Arabia’s oil industry a week ago, people familiar with the matter said.

Leaders of the group said they were raising the alarm about the possible new attack after they were pressed by Iran to play a role in it…”

Once technology is out of the box, as the Houthis have demonstrated, it can’t be returned. How do we avoid false flag attacks?

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments