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Rulings against Palestinian inmates show Saudi desire to normalize relations with Israel: Yemen’s Ansarullah

Press TV – August 9, 2021

Yemen’s Ansarullah resistance movement has condemned Saudi Arabia for handing down harsh verdicts against dozens of Palestinian inmates in the kingdom, some of whom were given jail terms of up to 22 years, over alleged support for the Palestinian Hamas movement, saying the verdicts clearly reflect the Riyadh regime’s desire to normalize relations with Israel.

“We strongly condemn Saudi rulings against Palestinians living in the country. We consider such verdicts a poisonous stab in the back of the Palestinian cause, and a message of friendship and obedience to Israel,” Ansarullah’s political bureau said in a statement.

It added, “Given our knowledge about the Saudi regime’s nature and its eagerness to normalize ties with the Zionist enemy, we call upon Muslim nations to show solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners, and to press for their immediate release.”

“Sana’a is ready to release Saudi prisoners in exchange for the freedom of Palestinians being kept behind bars in the Riyadh regime’s detention,” Ansarullah said.

A Saudi court on Sunday issued various sentences against 69 Palestinians and Jordanians.

The group was detained in March 2018 during a wave of arrests by Saudi authorities on a group of long-term Palestinian and Jordanian residents in the kingdom on alleged links to Hamas.

Sources in the besieged Gaza Strip have previously said that they believed the crackdown was linked to warming ties between Israel and Riyadh.

An official Hamas source said last year that the majority of the detainees were Hamas members, who had resided in the Persian Gulf country for decades, accusing Saudi Arabia of “targeting everyone who is linked with resistance” against the Israeli occupation.

Several Palestinians have been detained since February 2019 and are facing trial before a Saudi terrorism court.

The Saudi court sentenced Hamas representative in Saudi Arabia Mohammed al-Khudairi to 15 years in prison. His son, Hani, was sentenced to three years, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported.

Khudairi’s brother, Abd al-Majeed, said the sentence includes “clemency for half the term.”

Khudairi, 82, was a veteran Hamas leader responsible for managing the relationship with Saudi Arabia for two decades.

Hamas, meanwhile, condemned the sentences handed out on Sunday, calling them “unjust” and saying those sentenced had done nothing to harm Saudi Arabia.

“We were shocked … by the rulings issued by the Saudi judiciary against a large number of Palestinians and Jordanians residing in the kingdom,” Hamas said in a statement.

“We deplore the harsh and undeserved sentences against most of them. All they did was support their cause and their people, to which they belong, without any offence to the kingdom and its people,” it added.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement also condemned the rulings.

Over the past three years, the Saudi authorities have also deported more than 100 Palestinians from the kingdom, mostly on charges of supporting Hamas financially, politically or through social networking sites.

The Riyadh regime has imposed strict control over Palestinian funds in Saudi Arabia since the end of 2017.

August 9, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Tunisia’s instability and coup are backed by the UAE, Saudi

By Robert Inlakesh | MEMO | July 30, 2021

With Tunisian President Kais Saied seizing power, in what has been called a coup by the country’s largest political party, it seems that the last stronghold of democracy in Northern Africa, having emerged from the Arab Spring, is falling. Celebrated by some, such a transition could have its consequences especially with the involvement of Gulf dictatorships.

Tunisia is often held up as the one standing success story of the 2011 Arab Spring. Having overthrown former President and dictator Ben Ali, during the Jasmine Revolution, the people of Tunisia have experienced a bumpy ride since, but have maintained a democracy. This could all be changing soon with Gulf despots looking to pick up the pieces of any shattering of the nation’s democratic model.

Fears are now emerging, of a repeat of the affairs which transpired in Egypt, destroying the democratic system set up in the country and installing a military dictator. However we aren’t quite seeing such a dramatic shift and there are key differences between the move to dissolve parliament, fire the prime minister and consolidate power, in Tunisia, and the all out military coup which occurred in Egypt in 2013.

But, as there are differences between Egypt’s coup and Tunisia’s, there are also some alarmingly similar forces at work. In Egypt the target was the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, he represented the Muslim Brotherhood and in order to remove him, we now know that the UAE and Saudi Arabia both worked to bankroll his overthrow. In Tunisia, for years the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been working to oust the ruling Ennahda Party, which is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The two Gulf regimes have historically bankrolled the opposition to Ennahda and Abu Dhabi was even accused of attempting to organise a coup in Tunisia. As President Kais Saied took control, the office of Al Jazeera came under attack by his security forces who stormed the Qatari funded outlet’s building and forced its journalists out. This has been interpreted as a clear attack on the channel, due to its political leanings towards the side of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Last year it was also reported that Turkish intelligence had foiled an attempted coup plot inside Tunisia, which was allegedly coordinated by the United Arab Emirates. Around that time, a group of demonstrators calling themselves the ‘Salvation Front’ took to the streets of the capital to condemn the Ennahda Movement and its alignment of the Qatari/Turkish axis, it was later discovered that the facebook group for the movement was run by two individuals based in the UAE.

The UAE may have well backed last year’s alleged coup attempt, after their anti-Muslim Brotherhood ally in Libya, Khalifa Haftar, was starting to suffer loses following the introduction of Turkish military aid to help the GNA forces of Fayez Al-Sarraj. Being involved in combating neighbouring Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, could be in part about securing a pro-Haftar dictator for the UAE. The UAE has a well known track record of anti-Muslim Brotherhood and anti-democracy action, having backed reactionary actors in countries like Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan and Yemen.

It’s also no secret whose side the UAE, Saudi Arabia and even their allies like Egypt are on, having celebrated the political turmoil in Tunisia as the “final fall” of the Muslim Brotherhood. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have also been using social media accounts to whip up anger online and drive the country further into chaos.

Prominent Saudi journalist, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, wrote a celebratory opinion piece in the kingdom’s Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper saying something quite rich for a supporter of Saudi Arabia’s regime: “It is not surprising that the “Brotherhood” has fallen in Tunisia now, but rather it is years later than was expected… they were associated with chaos, assassinations, and deliberate obstruction operations to thwart government action”.

The economic problems, government mismanagement, corruption and the anger over the mishandling of the current health crisis, are all real issues and Tunisia has risen up many times since 2011 to demand a change. None of these real issues should be undermined, nor should it be stated that there is no Muslim Brotherhood alliance. But when it comes to a domestically created group which engages in a democratic process and the power of foreign brutal dictatorships with some of the worst human rights records on earth, it’s clear which option is more detrimental.

It cannot be understated, the insidious role that the UAE and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia, have been playing to stir up civil unrest in Tunisia. If President Kais Saied crowns himself dictator, aligning himself with Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, this could have serious repercussions for the country. It is not as of now certain that we will see such a takeover, but regardless of what transpires, the UAE and the Saudi will not stop working to destabilise Tunisia in order to remove the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence.

Importantly, if the West, which claims to care so much about democracy, truly cared for it at all, it would quickly drop its alliances with the brutal regimes of Saudi’s Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Zayed. The destructive role of these Gulf actors and their strides towards crushing all Arab democracies, whilst remaining the best of friends with the self proclaimed “worldwide spreader of democracy” [the US] shows exactly which side the American government is truly on.

July 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 1 Comment

New Normal Newspeak #3: “Progressive”

OffGuardian | July 30, 2021

“New Normal Newspeak” is a series of short articles highlighting how our language has come under assault in the past eighteen months.

***

We have a backlog for these NNNS posts, but I saw this today on Twitter, and it made me laugh so it gets to jump the queue.

A few days ago, Saudi Arabia announced they would be introducing vaccine passes for, essentially, anyone that wanted to do anything.

And then Max Boot, the neo-liberal warmonger who’s paid to squat over his keyboard and squeeze out columns for the Washington Post, called it “progressive”:

There it is in black and white – an absolute monarchy that still practices public beheadings, has no religious freedom, democracy or equal rights, has decided to add to their delightful resume by introducing digital surveillance, enforced experimental vaccination and medical apartheid. Doesn’t that sound so progressive?

The Council of Foreign Relations fellow has since deleted the tweet. And it’s not hard to see why.

Maybe no other word has had its meaning as brutally violated as “progressive” in the last decade. It is used to stifle freedom of speech, to camouflage corruption of “liberal” candidates, as a casus belli for regime change and to bang the drum for new cold wars with both Russia and China.

But applying it to Saudi Arabia is a whole new level of stretched meaning.

It’s also a little preview of how the billionaire-owned MSM will be selling medical apartheid to their hypnotized “liberal” readers in coming weeks.

July 30, 2021 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

UK’s arms sales to Riyadh three times higher than previously thought

Press TV – July 15, 2021

A new investigation has revealed that Britain has exported around three times as much weaponry and military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which is leading a devastating military aggression against Yemen, than previously believed.

According to a report published by British online newspaper The Independent, the British government’s official figures state that British ministers have signed off 6.7 billion pounds (9.28 US dollars) worth of arms, such as bombs, missiles, and aircraft, to the oil-rich kingdom ever since it started its bombardment campaign of neighboring Yemen back in March 2015.

However, researchers say the actual figure is likely to be close to £20 billion (over $27 billion) because the official numbers do not entail sales carried out under an obscure “open license” system.

The investigation further casts doubts on allegations of the British government about having “one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world.”

The probe emphasized that Britain’s operation of the parallel and less transparent “open license” system gives a more open-ended green light to arms manufacturers to sell specific armaments to a specific country without a monetary limit.

It further noted that the United Kingdom operated an open license for bombs and air-to-surface missiles to Saudi Arabia between 2014 and August 2019.

Moreover, an open license has covered Britain’s sales of equipment and components for use in the twin-engine and multi-role Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia. The warplanes have been used in Saudi airstrikes across Yemen.

The researchers also examined the accounts of companies known to be selling arms to Saudi Arabia, and discovered that the revenues of British multinational arms producer BAE Systems, for instance, totaled nearly 17 billion pounds (23.5 US dollars).

As a result, they estimate that the real value of exports is close to £20 billion ($27 billion).

“The use of open licenses also offers the government a convenient sleight of hand when it comes under pressure over arms sales to a particular country due to events such as wars, military coups, or well-publicized human rights abuses,” the report warns.

Katie Fallon of Campaign Against Arms Trade, which conducted the research, stated, “The use of Open Licenses covers up the real extent of the UK arms trade and makes it impossible to know what quantities of weapons are being sold around the world.”

“UK-made fighter jets, bombs and missiles have had a devastating impact in the ongoing bombardment of Yemen. The fact that the real total of these sales could be so much higher than previously reported emphasizes the central role that the UK government and UK-based companies have played in the war. There must be full transparency about what arms have gone over and in what quantity,” Fallon added.

“So much of the arms industry takes place in secret, and that’s how the arms dealers like it. As long as the widespread use of Open Licenses continues, the true nature and volume of the UK arms trade will remain hidden from scrutiny, and therefore from meaningful control,” Fallon pointed out.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and its regional allies, launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

Yemeni armed forces and allied Popular Committees have, however, gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

The Saudi war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. The war has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases across the Arab country.

July 16, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Ex-Mossad chief becomes head of new Saudi-backed SoftBank office: Report

Press TV – July 10, 2021

Yossi Cohen, the former chief of Israeli spy agency Mossad, is becoming head of the new office of the Saudi-backed conglomerate SoftBank in Israel, a report says.

Citing unnamed sources, the Israeli business newspaper Globes reported on Friday that SoftBank, a Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company led by Masayoshi Son, was appointing Cohen to head its new office in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Back in May 2017, Tokyo-based SoftBank and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), which is the Arab kingdom’s main sovereign wealth fund, jointly created the Softbank Vision Fund. The joint venture is the world’s largest technology-focused private equity fund with a capital of $93 billion.

Having invested huge sums into companies such as Uber, Alibaba, and TikTok, SoftBank is seen as the world’s leading technology fund.

This is the second investment giant within three months to open a representative office in Israel, after Blackstone.

According to the daily, although Cohen does not have a background in investment, he is a well-known and popular figure in Israel, capable of connecting to Israeli entrepreneurs and opening doors for them in any company, government, or public authority in any territory.

His duties would include managing SoftBank’s activity in the occupied Palestinian territories and looking for investments.

Cohen has served as the head of Mossad since January 2016. He has reportedly served as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy for various tasks. Netanyahu reportedly sees him as his preferred successor.

Cohen played an important role in the Israeli regime’s normalization deals with a number of Arab states. He traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The ex-Mossad chief reportedly joined Netanyahu on a 2020 visit to Saudi Arabia for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Yemeni UAVs are changing course of Saudi war

A Yemeni TV report on the “game-changing effects” of low-cost attack drones on the course of the Saudi military campaign in Yemen

Al Masirah TV | May 2, 2021

Transcript:

Eight drone strikes have targeted King Khalid Air Base in Khamis Mushait since the start of the holy month (of Ramadan). Since the beginning of the US-Saudi aggression on Yemen, drone operations – in addition to other air operations – have been striking the (King Khalid) Air Base as a main target.

The series of intensive attacks against the most important military base in the southern region of the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) has shown the inability of modern US defense systems to intercept or destroy these drones. This turn of events has complicated the process of dealing with this type of weapon which is low-cost, but great in effect.

The impact that the (Yemeni) drone operations have had on the workflow of the largest air base in the south of the Kingdom can be clearly seen in the disruption each air operation brings about at most airports in the south of the Kingdom, especially since the operation of defense systems throughout the southern region requires stopping air traffic in order for the defense radars to efficiently monitor the airspace.

Riyadh realizes that the military capabilities that Sana’a possesses have greatly influenced the course of the battle. It also realizes that its military spending on additional weapons did not put an end to its military retreat, especially as US reports acknowledge the difficulty of dealing with this new generation of drones.

The (US-Saudi) aggression coalition’s reliance on its air and military superiority is dwindling in the face of the effectiveness of the Yemeni (military) capabilities, which the (Yemeni) armed forces assert are meant for deterrence and responding to the continuing aggression and siege.

(Please help MEO keep producing independent translations for you by contributing a sustainable monthly amount )

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Biden lied about Yemen

By Caitlin Johnstone | April 29, 2021

The Biden administration has finally admitted that the US is indeed providing offensive material support to Saudi Arabia’s genocidal assault on Yemen, directly contradicting Biden’s February claim that it would no longer be providing offensive support in that war. We are being lied to about yet another US war by yet another US president.

“The United States continues to provide maintenance support to Saudi Arabia’s Air Force given the critical role it plays in Saudi air defense and our longstanding security partnership,” Pentagon spokesperson Jessica McNulty has informed Vox reporter Alex Ward.

“Multiple US defense officials and experts acknowledged that, through a US government process, the Saudi government pays commercial contractors to maintain and service their aircraft, and those contractors keep Saudi warplanes in the air. What the Saudis do with those fighter jets, however, is up to them,” Ward reported, adding, “The US could cancel those contracts at any time, thus effectively grounding the Saudi Air Force, but doing so would risk losing Riyadh as a key regional partner.”

“The recent admission by the Department of Defense that US companies are still authorized to maintain Saudi warplanes … means that our government is still enabling the Saudi operations, including bombings and enforcing a blockade on Yemen’s ports,” Hassan El-Tayyab, the legislative manager for Middle East policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation lobbying group, told Ward.

El-Tayyab is on record speaking out after Biden’s deceitful February announcement, saying this administration needs to make it abundantly clear what it actually means by ending offensive support for the war on Yemen and actually stick to it.

“I’m not a full pessimist here. I welcome the news,” he told Al Jazeera at the time, adding, “But I’m just trying to stay vigilant and not take the foot off the gas on advocacy pressure. Because we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Well, now we do know. The US is maintaining and servicing the warplanes that are bombing Yemen and enforcing a blockade, which has killed hundreds of thousands and the United Nations warns could kill 400,000 more this year alone if conditions don’t change, proving Joe Biden a liar and vindicating the experts and activists who cautioned against accepting his announcement on blind faith.

Getting to this point where questions are finally answered about the reality of the Biden administration’s Yemen policy has been like pulling teeth, with officials giving questioners the runaround for months on this issue. Watch this clip of US Yemen Envoy Tim Lenderking dodging questions like George Bush dodges shoes as congressman Ted Lieu tries to get a straight answer as to whether the US has stopped supporting the war on Yemen:

Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp writes the following:

“The admission comes over two months since President Biden said he was ending support for Riyadh’s ‘offensive’ operations in Yemen. Vox reporter Alex Ward asked Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Monday if the planes that the US is servicing could be used for offensive operations in Yemen. Kirby admitted that the ‘maintenance support for systems could be used for both’ offensive and defensive operations. … Besides continuing to maintain the Saudi Air Force, the Biden administration has given Riyadh the political cover to continue enforcing the blockade on Yemen. Biden officials have claimed that Yemen is not under a blockade, even though Saudi warships are preventing fuel shipments from docking in the port of Hudaydah, which makes it impossible to deliver food to Yemen’s starving civilian population.”

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the [Saudi-led] war … mostly from what it calls “indirect causes.” Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades.”

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making those parts [of the country, which are] controlled by Yemen’s Ansarullah movement so weak and miserable that they break.

The United States lies about all its wars with the help of the mass media, but up until this year its lies about Yemen have largely consisted of lies by omission: simply not talking about Yemen (like when MSNBC went an entire year without mentioning it a single time during the height of Russiagate hysteria), reporting on the famine as though it’s the result of a tragic natural disaster, or omitting America’s role in the slaughter. This time, it was just a straightforward lie: Biden said the US was ending offensive support, and it wasn’t.

As we’ve discussed previously, when the people demand something of their government it’s a lot easier to simply tell them you’re on their side and redirect them than to tell them no. Democrats are especially good at this.

As awareness grows that Yemen is the single most horrifying atrocity taking place in our world today, pressure is mounting for the US government to use its tremendous amount of leverage over Saudi Arabia to cease the human butchery. Rather than increasing that pressure by saying no, the Biden administration defused it by falsely pretending to give in to the demands. Because the risk of “losing Riyadh as a key regional partner” was deemed too great.

And meanwhile the slaughter continues, unbroken from Obama to Trump and from Trump to Biden. The names change, the narratives change, but the murderous imperial war machine rolls on uninterrupted.

May 2, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Ten years on, Syria is almost destroyed. Who’s to blame?

Syria in ruins after ten years of conflict (File photo)
BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | MARCH 20, 2021 

In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, the ruling pigs led by Napoleon constantly rewrote history in order to justify and reinforce their own continuing power. The rewriting by the western powers of the history of the ongoing conflict in Syria leaps out of Orwell. 

The joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy last week to mark the tenth anniversary of the Syrian conflict begins with an outright falsehood by holding President Bashar al-Assad and “his backers” responsible for the horrific events in that country. It asserts that the five western powers “will not abandon” the Syrian people — till death do us part.

The historical reality is that Syria has been a theatre of the CIA’s activities ever since the inception of that agency in 1947. There is a whole history of CIA-sponsored “regime change” projects in Syria ranging from coup attempts and assassination plots to paramilitary strikes and funding and military training of anti-government forces.

It all began with the bloodless military coup in 1949 against then Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli which was engineered by the CIA. As per the memoirs of Miles Copeland Jr, the CIA station chief in Damascus at that time — who later actually went on to write a fine book of high literary quality on the subject — the coup aimed at safeguarding Syria from the communist party and other radicals!

However, the CIA-installed colonel in power, Adib Shaishakli, was a bad choice. As Copeland put it, he was a “likeable rogue” alright who had not “to my certain knowledge, ever bowed down to a graven image. He had, however, committed sacrilege, blasphemy, murder, adultery and theft” to earn American support. He lasted for four years before overthrown by the Ba’ath Party and military officers. By 1955, CIA estimated that Syria was ripe for another military coup. By April 1956, a joint CIA-SIS (British Secret Intelligence Service) plot was implemented to mobilise right-wing Syrian military officers. But then, the Suez fiasco interrupted the project.

The CIA revived the project and plotted a second coup in 1957 under the codename Operation Wappen — again, to save Syria from communism — and even spent $3 million to bribe Syrian military officers. Tim Weiner, in his masterly 2008 book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, writes:

“The president (Dwight Eisenhower) said he wanted to promote the idea of an Islamic jihad against godless communism. “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect,” he said at a 1957 White House meeting… (Secretary of state) Foster Dulles proposed a “secret task force,” under whose auspices the CIA would deliver American guns, money, and intelligence to King Saud of Saudi Arabia, King Hussein of Jordan, President Camille Chamoun of Lebanon, and President Nuri Said of Iraq.”

“These four mongrels were supposed to be our defence against communism and the extremes of Arab nationalism in the Middle East… If arms could not buy loyalty in the Middle East, the almighty dollar was still the CIA’s secret weapon. Cash for political warfare and power plays was always welcome. It could help an American imperium in Arab and Asian lands.”

But, as it happened, some of those “right-wing” officers instead turned in the bribe money and revealed the CIA plot to the Syrian intelligence. Whereupon, 3 CIA officers were kicked out of the American embassy in Damascus, forcing  Washington to withdraw its ambassador in Damascus. With egg on its face, Washington promptly branded Syria as a “Soviet satellite”, deployed a fleet to the Mediterranean and incited Turkey to amass troops on the Syrian border. Dulles even contemplated a military strike under the so-called “Eisenhower Doctrine” as retaliation against Syria’s “provocations”. By the way, Britain’s MI6 was also working with the CIA in the failed coup attempt; the details came to light accidentally in 2003 among the papers of British Defence Minister Duncan Sandys many years after his death.

Now, coming down to current history, suffice to say that according to the WikiLeaks, since 2006, the US had been funding London-based Syrian dissidents, and the CIA unit responsible for covert operations was deployed to Syria to mobilise rebel groups and ascertain potential supply routes. The US is known to have trained at least 10,000 rebel fighters at a cost of $1 billion annually since 2012. President Barack Obama reportedly admitted to a group of senators the operation to insert these CIA-trained rebel fighters into Syria.

The well-known American investigative journalist and political writer Seymour Hersh has written, based on inputs from intelligence officers, that the CIA was already transferring arms from its Benghazi station (Libya) to Syria around that time. Make no mistake, Obama was the first world leader to openly call for the removal of Assad. That was in August 2011. Then CIA chief David Petraeus paid two unannounced visits to Turkey (in March and September 2012) to persuade Erdogan to step in as the flag carrier of the US’ regime change project in Syria (under the rubric of “anti-terror fight”.)

In fact, the US’ key allies in the Persian Gulf — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE — took the cue from Obama to loosen their purse strings to recruit, finance and equip thousands of jihadi fighters to be deployed to Syria. Equally, from the early stages of the conflict in Syria, major western intelligence agencies provided political, military and logistic support to the Syrian opposition and its associated rebel groups in Syria.

Curiously, the Russian intervention in Syria in September 2015 was in response to an emergent imminent defeat of the Syrian government forces at the hands of the jihadi fighters backed by the US’ regional allies. Saudi Arabia withdrew from the arena only in 2017 after the tide of the war turned, thanks to the Russian intervention.

The joint statement issued last week by the US and its NATO allies belongs to the world of fiction. In reality, there is Syrian blood in the hands of these NATO countries (including Turkey) and the US’ Gulf allies. Look at the colossal destruction that the US has caused: in the World Bank’s estimation, a cumulative total of $226 billion in gross domestic product was lost to Syria due to the war from 2011 to 2016 alone.

The Syrian conflict has been among the most tragic and destructive conflicts of our time. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died, half a nation has been displaced, and millions have been forced into desperate poverty and hunger. In the UNHRC estimation, after ten years of conflict, half of the Syrian population has been forced to flee home, 70% are living in poverty, 6.7 million Syrians have been internally displaced, over 13 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection, 12.4 million people suffer from lack of food (or 60% of the entire population), 5.9 million people are experiencing a housing emergency and nearly nine in 10 Syrians are living below the poverty threshold.

And, come to think of it, Syria used to have one of the highest levels of social formation in the entire Muslim Middle East. It used to be a middle income country until the US decided to destabilise Syria. Ever since the late 1940s, the US’ successive regime change projects were driven by geopolitical considerations. The agenda is unmistakeable: the US has systematically destroyed the heart, soul and mind of “Arabism” — Iraq, Syria and Egypt — with a view to perpetuate the western [Zionist] domination of the Middle East.

Former President Donald Trump intended to withdraw the US troops from Syria and end the war. He tried twice, but Pentagon commanders sabotaged his plans. What Joe Biden proposes to do is anybody’s guess. Biden doesn’t seem to be in any rush to withdraw the US troops.

The most disturbing aspect is that the US is methodically facilitating a Balkanisation of Syria by helping the Kurdish groups aligned with it to carve out a semiautonomous enclave in the country’s northeast. In fact, the the Arab population in northeastern Syria resents being under the Kurds’ governance, and this may eventually turn into a new source of recruits for Islamic State. Meanwhile, Turkey seized the US-Kurdish axis as alibi to occupy vast territories in northern Syria.

The sad part of the joint statement by the US and its European allies is not only that it is rewriting history and spreading falsehood but conveys a sense of despair that there is no hope for light at the end of the tunnel in the Syrian conflict in a conceivable future. 

The US policy in Syria is opaque. It has oscillated between aiming to prevent a resurgence of IS, confronting Iran, pushing back against Russia, providing humanitarian aid, and even protecting Israel, while the crux of the matter is that successive US administrations have failed to articulate a clear strategy and rationale for the US military presence in Syria.

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Washington Institute Calls Yemeni Forces as New Hezbollah, Warns against Augmenting Military Capabilities of Ansarullah

Al-Manar | April 4, 2021

The augmenting military capabilities of the Yemeni Armed Forces have been increasingly worrying the United States of America and the Zionist entity, according to The Washington Institute for the Near East Policy.

The study, titled “Yemen’s ‘Southern Hezbollah’: Implications of Houthi Missile and Drone Improvements”, called on the US administration to deal with the “Houthis” as a challenge that will go beyond the war in Yemen.

In light of the recent Yemeni attacks on the Saudi home front, the study concentrated on the development of Yemen’s missile and drone industries, calling on U.S. diplomats and military planners to factor this threat complex into their future calculations beyond the current Yemen war.

The study also considered that the Yemeni armed forces can develop missile/drone assembly industry further range increases, adding that the Yemeni forces would be able to reach new targets if they so desire—perhaps ‘Israel’ given their known enmity toward that country, or even Egypt and Jordan as part of a wider effort to exert themselves in the Red Sea (e.g., hindering international shipping, targeting Suez Canal infrastructure).

The study warned against the possible victory of the Yemeni army and popular committees (Ansarullah) in Marib, considering that either a win or a draw would ensconce the Houthis as “a new ‘southern Hezbollah’ on the Red Sea—mirroring the position of Lebanese Hezbollah on the Mediterranean—with a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and drones capable of threatening the Suez Canal, the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the Gulf states, the Red Sea states, and perhaps even ‘Israel’”.

April 4, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

How China is Going to Reshape Asia

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 01.04.2021

With China and Iran signing a multi-billion dollar deal for the next 25 years, there remains little gainsaying that the former is going to increase its footprint in West Asia/Middle East in a way that once was thought to be unimaginable for reasons that included China’s own economic policies and West Asia’s too close ties with the West to allow for any players. Forces of economic change that China is unleashing will not only become a massive boost for Iran, but Iran will become a gateway for China’s further expansion into the Middle East, including countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that Iran rivals. For China, its presence and expansion in the Middle East is not merely about economic benefits; this presence is equally driven by the emerging US-China global rivalry and China’s desire to push back against erstwhile US hegemony and domination of the Middle East since the Second World War.

As such, when China’s foreign minister went on a tour to the Middle East last week, he was not merely looking to sign a deal with Iran; he was more interested in and largely focused on introducing new rules of the game that focus, first and foremost, on economic engagement and connectivity. Rather than traditional Gulf tensions. Therefore, while Wang Yi met Saudia’s Crown Prince, MBS, and supported Saudi stance to oppose any “interference” in the internal affairs by any external player, Wang also offered MBS, who is currently not on good terms with the Joe Biden administration, an opportunity to engage with China “to explore and find a path of development that fits its own conditions.” This path, as Wang emphasised in an interview with Saudia’s official news channel, Al Arabiya, can be found only when Gulf countries can “break free from the shadows of big-power geopolitical rivalry and [be able to] independently explore development paths suited to its regional realities.”

As it stands, China has offered Saudi Arabia the same path it has signed up with Iran. Therefore, China, while it does not want to get entangled in the cross-web of geo-political rivalries in the Persian Gulf, aims to chart a new course whereby countries in the region can stick to an agenda that maintains a strict separation between geo-economics and geo-political and/or ideological rivalries including those around Sunni & Shia faiths and organisations like Muslim Brotherhood.

Therefore, while China signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Iran that includes development projects and enhanced oil production and supplies, China’s growing ties with Saudi Arabia, too, include an increasing Saudi desire to enhance Saudi supply of oil to China and secure Chinese investment in fields ranging from petrochemical, nuclear energy and other energy fields, further expanding it into new fields such as 5G, telecommunication and digital technologies. Saudi Arabia, MBS affirmed, is also willing to make joint efforts with China to push forward the free trade negotiations between China and Gulf countries.

Therefore, by offering both rivals a somewhat similar paradigm of economic development that bypasses geo-political tensions and rivalries, China is building an economic landscape that would leave minimum room for external payers, like the US, to continue to manipulate the Gulf to its advantage as it has been doing for the past many decades.

As such, whereas Chinese investment in Iran offers the latter an opportunity to break economic shackles imposed by the US through economic sanctions, for Saudi Arabia, China offers an opportunity to reshape its ties with the US at a time when the Joe Biden administration appears unwilling to accept MBS as the future king.

By offering states in the Gulf an opportunity to diversify their external geo-economic ties and reduce dependence on the US, China is posing a serious challenge to the US position in West Asia, which has mostly relied on using the precarious geo-political scenario to keep itself militarily entrenched and maintain a relationship that served, first and foremost, the US military industrial complex. At the same time, for the Middle Eastern states, China’s economic path is a way out of their decades old reliance on oil as a primary source of national income.

For China itself, it is pivoting to the Middle East at a time when the Joe Biden administration is trying to assemble an anti-China coalition through the QUAD, a group of countries that includes the US, Japan, India and Australia. China, by simultaneously approaching rival countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and the UAE, is posing a counter-challenge to the US ambitions, making it more and more difficult for the US to realise its “containment” of China ambitions at the global level.

The fact that China’s multi-billion dollar deals have received a very warm reception speaks volumes about how the Gulf itself is keen to transform its geo-economic landscape. In this sense, China-Gulf ties become, unlike US-Gulf ties, a fruit of a path that converges to serve mutual interests.

China’s pact with Iran and its deepening ties with other Gulf countries, therefore, has the potential to completely upend the prevailing geo-economic scenario. With the Gulf countries’ ability to diversify their ties and radically reduce their over-dependence on the US, the region’s geo-political scenario could also undergo a dramatic change.

Therefore, it would be wrong to grasp China-Iran deal as an isolated event. The fact that Wang has toured Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, and the UAE shows how China is embracing the region as a whole through a single framework of policy that is very largely underpinned by economic development. The fact that Saudi Arabia, to China’s utter joy, even refused to back the US campaign against China’s alleged “genocide” of Uyghur shows how China, to the disappointment of the US, continues to earn more and more acceptability.

Salman Rafi Sheikh is a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.

April 1, 2021 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 2 Comments

Crashing Saudi Oil Economy Explains Urgent Yemeni Peace Offer

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 26, 2021

After six years of blowing up Yemen and blockading its southern neighbor, the Saudi rulers are now saying they are committed to finding peace. The move is less about genuine peace than economic survival for the oil kingdom.

The Saudi monarchy say they want “all guns to fall completely silent”. Washington, which has been a crucial enabler of the Saudi war on Yemen, has backed the latest “peace offer”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week endorsed the initiative from the Saudi rulers, saying he had spoken with them “on our work together to end the conflict in Yemen, facilitate humanitarian access and aid for the Yemeni people”.

The Saudi foreign ministry stated: “The initiative aims to end the human suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people, and affirms the kingdom’s support for efforts to reach a comprehensive political resolution.”

Can you believe this sickening duplicity from the Saudis and the Americans?

So, after six years of relentless aerial bombing in Yemen causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, the Saudis and their American military supplier, seem to have developed a conscience for peace and ending suffering.

The real reason for trying to end the conflict is the perilous state of the Saudi oil-dependent economy. Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil, gas and petroleum industry, recently announced that its profits have slumped by nearly half in 2020 compared with the year before. Down from $88 billion to $49 billion.

Given that its oil economy provides nearly 90 per cent of state budget that is a stupendous hit on the Saudi finances. The Saudi rulers rely on hefty state subsidies to keep its 34 million population content. With income from the oil industry nosediving that means state deficits will explode to maintain public spending, or else risk social unrest from dire cutbacks.

Saudi Arabia remains the biggest oil exporter, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and world economies going into recession crude oil prices have plummeted. At one point oil prices fell to around $20 a barrel. The Saudi economy needs an oil price of around $70 a barrel to reel in a profit.

The upshot is the Saudi war in Yemen has become a critical drain on state finances and potentially jeopardizing the superficial stability of the absolute monarchy.

Of further alarm is the increasing missile and drone attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen on key Saudi locations, including the capital Riyadh.

The Yemeni rebels are escalating airstrikes on Aramco installations at its headquarters in Dhahran and Dammam in Eastern Province, as well as in the cities of Abha, Azir, Jazan, and Ras Tanura. The targets include oil refineries and export terminals. The Saudis claim they have intercepted a lot of the missiles with U.S.-made Patriot defense systems. Nevertheless, the mere fact that the Yemenis can hit key parts of the Saudi oil economy over a distance of 1,000 kilometers is a grave security concern undermining investor confidence.

The first major strike was in September 2019 when Houthi drones hit the huge refinery complex at Abqaiq. That caused Saudi oil production to temporarily shut down by half. It also delayed an Initial Public Offering of Aramco shares on the stock market as investors took fright over political risk.

At a time when the Saudi oil economy is contracting severely due to worldwide circumstances, an additional debilitating threat is the intensifying campaign of Houthi airstrikes. They are taking the war into Saudi heartland.

The Biden administration has condemned the Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia as “unacceptable”. Such American concern is derisory given how Washington has been providing warplanes, missiles and logistics for the Saudis to indiscriminately bomb Yemen causing tens of thousands of deaths. The Americans also enable the Saudis to impose a blockade on Yemen’s sea and airports, which has prevented vital food and medicines from being supplied to the country. Nearly 80 per cent of Yemen’s 30 million population are dependent on foreign aid deliveries. The blockade is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and the Americans are fully complicit.

President Joe Biden has said he is ending U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. It was an election promise. However, it is not clear what military support the U.S. has actually stopped, if at all. The Saudi bombing of food depots continues and the blockade on the country could not be maintained without essential American logistics.

More cynically, the Biden administration realizes that the Saudis started a war back in March 2015, when Obama was president and Biden was vice-president, that has turned into an un-winnable quagmire whose horrendous human suffering has become a vile stain on America’s international image.

That’s why Biden and his diplomats have been urging the Saudi rulers to sue for peace. Now it seems the Saudi monarchy realizes that the reckless war launched by “defense minister” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come with a price that they can’t afford to sustain if they want to preserve their rickety house of cards, known as the House of Saud.

On the latest peace proposal, the Yemeni rebels have rejected it out of hand. They say it contains “nothing new”. The Houthis say the only way to end the war is for the Saudis and their American sponsors to end the aggression on their country. There is no “deal”. It is a case of the Saudis and the Americans just getting out.

Meantime, the airstrikes on Saudi oil infrastructure are going to continue with ever-increasing damage to the royal coffers. Thus, the Saudi rulers have no choice but to unconditionally surrender in this criminal war. They are facing a humiliating defeat as the Yemenis take revenge and Uncle Sam washes his hands of blood.

March 27, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

Rights group slams exclusion of Israel, Saudi-led coalition from UN’s children-in-conflict blacklist

Press TV – March 19, 2021

A group of child rights experts has strongly criticized the UN secretary-general for excluding eight parties, including the Israeli regime and the Saudi-led coalition, from a global blacklist of parties accountable for harming children during conflicts.

In a report, experts from Watchlist on Children, an international child rights group, said at least eight parties to conflicts were found responsible for killing and maiming more than 100 children in a single year but were excluded from the blacklist.

There were “numerous discrepancies and omissions in listing decisions, as well as unwarranted delisting decisions,” the report said, noting that the UN Security Council’s 2001 resolution establishing the list to protect children from the horrors of war “is being seriously undermined” and could result in “putting children at even greater risk.”

“The secretary-general’s 2015 annual report acknowledges that the number of children killed by Israel in 2014 was the third highest in the world and the number of schools damaged or destroyed was the highest anywhere in the world that year, and yet Israel has not been listed in the report’s annexes,” the report said.

It added that at the time the news media reported that Israel and the United States conducted intense lobbying to prevent the regime’s blacklisting.

The child rights experts also cited annual reports that have repeatedly found Israeli forces responsible for high levels of Palestinian child casualties, including over 1,525 killed and maimed in 2020 alone.

“Yet Israeli forces have yet to be included in the annexed list of violators,” they added.

According to the AP, co-author Yanghee Lee, former chair of the committee that monitors implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, said: “We are calling on the secretary-general to urgently address these problems and commit to hold all countries and groups responsible for violations against children accountable without fear or favor.”

In response to the report, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stands by the report’s conclusions, expressing willingness to engage with relevant partners in how to improve the system.

Benyam Dawit Mezmur, another co-author of the report urged the UN to ensure that the list of perpetrators it issues is “more credible, accurate, complete, and evidence-based, or risk pulling apart this unique tool for the protection of children caught in war.”

The report also said the Saudi-led war coalition against Yemen was delisted in 2020 for killing and maiming children in the Arab country, despite being responsible for a documented 222 child casualties during the reporting period.

“With this delisting, the Saudi-led coalition has been removed from the Secretary-General’s list altogether,” it noted.

Citing the Secretary-general’s reports that said the Saudi-led coalition was delisted due to a “sustained significant decrease” in the number of violations they committed, the rights experts said such argument runs counter to the established delisting criteria.

“This runs counter to the delisting criteria established in 2010 and the Security Council’s stated expectations that listing is based on whether or not grave violations against children took place in violation of international obligations,” they maintained.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Saudi war on Yemen has killed a quarter of a million people, including women and children, since it was launched in March 2015 with the aim of restoring the Riyadh-friendly government of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

March 19, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment