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Presence of Foreign Forces in Yemen Unjustifiable: Ansarullah

Al-Manar | December 12, 2018

Spokesman for Yemen’s revolutionary Ansarullah movement Mohammad Abdulsalam, who heads a delegation in the ongoing peace talks in Sweden, said the presence of foreign forces in the Arabian Peninsula country cannot be justified.

Speaking to the Arabic-language al-Masirah TV on Tuesday night, Abdulsalam said the foreign troops’ presence in Yemen is contrary to the country’s constitution and UN Security Council resolutions.

“The presence of foreign forces in Yemen is not justified as long as our approach is political settlement (of the crisis),” he said.

Yemen’s occupied areas are now controlled by foreigners such as British, Saudi and Emirati forces, not a group that calls itself “legitimate”, he added, referring to the Yemeni exiled government which claims legitimacy.

The Ansarullah spokesman went on to say that no party could demand the presence of foreign forces in Yemen.

Abdulsalam further said that in the UN-brokered peace talks in Stockholm, Sweden, the two sides have reached some agreements on ceasefire in some areas.

The talks opened Thursday on an upbeat note, with the warring sides agreeing to a broad prisoner swap, boosting hopes that the talks would not deteriorate into further violence as in the past.

Yemen has been since March 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led Coalition, in a bid to restore control to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is Riyadh’s ally.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and injured in the strikes launched by the coalition, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

The coalition, which includes in addition to Saudi Arabia and UAE: Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, has been also imposing a harsh blockade against Yemenis.

Some 8.4 million Yemenis are facing starvation as a result of the Saudi-led aggression, although the United Nations has warned that will probably rise to 14 million.

Three-quarters of impoverished Yemen’s population, or 22 million people, require aid.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

The gulf within GCC is only widening

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | December 10, 2018

The annual summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh on Sunday was particularly important for Saudi Arabia as a display of its regional leadership. But the short meeting of the GCC leaders behind closed doors, lasting for less than an hour, ended highlighting the huge erosion of Saudi prestige lately.

The litmus test was the participation by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. King Salman’s letter of invitation to the emir was perceived as some sort of an olive branch for reconciliation. But Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi represented the country at the summit.

The calculation by the hot headed crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE that Qatar would pack up is turning out to be a historic blunder. Qatar had some trying times but it has successfully weathered the harsh embargo by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the boycott is now hurting its enforcers. Qatar “celebrated” the anniversary of the boycott in June by banning the import of goods from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt (which had cut diplomatic and transport ties on June 5, 2017.) Ironically, Iran has been a beneficiary as Qatar established diplomatic relations with Tehran and began importing Iranian products.

Qatar also strengthened its alliance with Turkey, which stepped in as provider of security for Doha. And Turkey checkmated any plans that Saudis and Emiratis might have had to use force to bring the Qatari emir down on his knees.

The emir’s absence from the summit in Riyadh yesterday underscores that he is not in a mood to forget and forgive. Equally, Kuwait and Oman also have issues to settle with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There is tension between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over two oil fields – Khafji and Wafra – that are jointly owned by the two states, which have a capacity to produce more than half a million barrels per day, but have been closed since 2014 and 2015, respectively. The dispute is over the sovereignty over the so-called Neutral Zone on their border, which has been undefined for almost a century.

The Saudis are not relenting. “We’re trying to convince the Kuwaitis to talk about the sovereignty issues, while continuing to produce until we solve that issue,” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview in October. Similarly, Saudis and Emiratis have stationed troops in Yemen’s southern province of al-Mahra that borders Oman although the region has no presence of Houthi rebels. Oman considers the move an infringement on its national security. Interestingly, instead of the Sultan of Oman, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood Al Said represented the country at the GCC summit.

To be sure, like Banquo’s ghost at Macbeth’s banquet in Shakespeare’s play, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi provided the backdrop to the GCC summit. The GCC states (including Qatar) have not criticized the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) but they would know this is a developing story and it has dented Saudi prestige irreparably, especially with the US Senate is at loggerheads with the Trump administration. The big question for the Gulf region would be as to where Saudi Arabia is heading. (See the blog by Thomas Lippman What Now For U.S. Policy And The Crown Prince?)

Of course, if the GCC disintegrates due to these contradictions, Saudi Arabia will be the big loser, because it will be a reflection on its regional leadership. But do the Saudis understand it? The remarks by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir at the end of the GCC summit showed no sign of remorse.

He said, “The members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are keen that the crisis with Qatar will have no impact on the Council (GCC). But this does not mean relinquishing the conditions imposed on Qatar.” Doha should stop supporting terrorism and extremism and avoid interfering in other countries’ affairs and needed to fulfill the Arab countries’ conditions to open the way for its return to the full-fledged work in the GCC. “The stance towards Qatar came to push it to change its policies,” he added.

The leading Saudi establishment writer Abdulrehman al-Rashed fired away at Qatar on the day of the GCC summit. In a column entitled Is it Time to end the GCC? in the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat (owned by royal family members) he wrote:

“Qatar… has been putting obstacles in the GCC path and it has succeeded where Saddam and Iran have failed: It managed to destroy and rip it [GCC] apart… It organized an internal and external opposition against the United Arab Emirates. It is now the primary financier of the greatest attack against Saudi Arabia and it stands behind the politicization of Khashoggi’s murder… Today’s [GCC] summit could not conceal the dark political cloud hanging over its head. It also strongly poses a question over the future of the GCC as doubts rise over the value of this union… A wedge has been driven in the GCC.”

The disarray within the GCC undoubtedly calls attention to the decline of US influence in the Middle East region. At the end of the day, the Gulf states have not paid heed to repeated US entreaties for GCC unity. Ideally, GCC should have provided today for the US strategy a strong platform for launching the regime change project against Iran. On the contrary, GCC is split down the middle, with Qatar, Oman and Kuwait getting along just fine with Tehran. While addressing the summit in Riyadh on Sunday, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad hit the nail on the head when he said, “The most dangerous obstacle we face is the struggle within the GCC.”

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yemen: Houthis Urge Transitional Gov’t With All Parties

teleSUR | December 10, 2018

The Houthi’s main negotiator, Mohammed Abdusalam, said Saturday that any political solution to the Saudi-led war on Yemen should start with outlining a transitional period with an exact timeframe that should include all political parties.

Abdusalam also said the city of Hodeidah should be declared a “neutral zone” and that the United Nations could play a role in managing the Sanaa airport. His comments were made in the context of U.N.-sponsored peace talks that seek to put an end to almost four years of conflict.

The Houthis control major population centers in Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of people. The Saudi coalition’s siege on the port this year has caused food and medicine shortages, leading to widespread cases of starvation.

“It (Hodeidah) should be a neutral zone apart from the conflict, and the military brigades that came from outside Hodeidah province should leave,” Abdusalam told Reuters.

Asked if Houthi forces would then withdraw from Hodeidah, Abdusalam said: “There will be no need for military presence there if battles stop … Hodeidah is an economic hub and it should stay that way for the sake of all Yemenis.”

“We have proposed to the U.N. to oversee the port and supervise its logistics… inspections, revenues, and all the technical issues,” he said.

It is unclear who will control the city if both forces leave but Yemen’s internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is sticking to its position that Hodeidah should be under its control.

On the issue of reopening the Sanaa airport, Abdusalam said the Houthis were open to the possibility of a U.N. role at the airport to secure an agreement to reopen it. The Houthis hold control of the airport, but Saudi-led forces have secured control of the airspace and have bombed the facility several times.

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government has proposed reopening the Houthi-held airport in the capital Sanaa on condition planes are inspected in the airports of Aden or Sayun which are under its control, two government officials said Friday.

The Houthi delegation rejected the proposal but insist they are open to a U.N. role.

Many Yemeni factions are involved in the war that pits the Houthis against a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Yemen’s war and the ensuing economic collapse has left 15.9 million people, 53 percent of the population, facing “severe acute food insecurity.” According to a recently-published study by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the armed conflict has claimed the lives of over 50,000 people.

Humanitarian groups say peace is the only way of ending the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The areas hit with extreme hunger are also the areas where there is active fighting.

No peace talks have been held since 2016, and the last attempt in Geneva in September failed when the Houthis did not attend [*]. These peace talks are due to last until Dec. 13.


* Saudi-backed delegates leave Yemen peace talks

Press TV – September 8, 2018

A delegation from Yemen’s former government has left UN-brokered talks in Geneva after representatives of the Houthi movement were prevented by Saudi Arabia from attending the negotiations.

“The government delegation is leaving today,” said an official from the Saudi-backed team on Saturday, referring to the former Yemeni administration. “There are no expectations the Houthis are coming,” he added.

UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths told a news conference that the Houthis were “keen” to get to Geneva.

“They would have liked to get here. We didn’t make conditions sufficiently correct to get them here,” he said.

Ansarullah accused the Saudis of planning to strand the delegation in Djibouti, where their plane was to make a stop en route to Geneva.

The Saudis were “still refusing to give permission to an Omani plane” to land at the Yemeni capital Sana’a and take the delegation to Geneva, the movement said.

It posted a statement, saying the Houthis needed to “ensure the safety of the delegation” and require a guarantee that they would be allowed to return “smoothly” to Sana’a airport. … Full article

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Turkey’s Hour of Reckoning in Syria

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.11.2018

During a Pentagon briefing last weekend, Secretary of Defence James Mattis dropped a bombshell by innocuously slipping in that the US military intends to set up a string of observation posts on the Syrian-Turkish border. Mattis implied that Turkey was on board and that the idea was for the two militaries to jointly prevent any terrorist threats to the US’ NATO ally emanating out of Syrian territories.

Turkish officials immediately tore into Mattis’ project. Defence Minister Hulusi Akar disclosed that he had warned US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford only a week ago that the observation posts would have a “negative impact” and create the impression that “US soldiers are somehow protecting terrorist YPG (Syrian Kurdish) members and shielding them.”

The move would make an already complex situation “much more complex,” Akar added. He said, “Nobody should doubt that the Turkish armed forces and the Republic of Turkey will take the necessary steps against all kinds of risks and threats from across its borders.”

On Tuesday, President Recep Erdogan lashed out against the US troop presence in eastern Syria, charging that plans to establish observation posts along the Turkish border are meant to aid terrorist elements. “Those who say they are countering (ISIS) in Syria are in fact allowing a small group of terrorists to exist in the country to justify their presence in the war-torn country,” he said.

Erdogan alleged that the US is actually showing a preference to “live and breathe with the terrorists.” “The only target of this terror organization (YPG)… is our country,” he said. “It’s not possible for us to remain idle against this threat.”

Clearly, what is unfolding is a US game plan to block the Turkish military’s future operations in northern Syria against the Kurdish militia. Pentagon regards the YPG to be its most effective Syrian partner. Simply put, what we see here is the Syrian equivalent of what Washington did in 1991 in Iraq by imposing a “no-fly zone” over the Kurdistan region in the north.

The US is playing the long game. It is exactly three years since President Obama deployed 50 commandos to advise the Syrian Kurdish militia in their fight against the ISIS. Obama insisted it was “just an extension” of “special ops” that the US was running already. But the the numbers steadily kept increasing – from 50 to 250, from 250 to 500, and from 500 to 2000. The true figure today is around 5000 – and growing.

Seth Harp at the New Yorker magazine noted after a recent visit to the US bases in Syria, “the mission has morphed into something more like a conventional ground war. The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

According to reports, there are presently 17 military bases in northeastern Syria. Yet, the US Congress has not authorized military action in Syria, nor has UN mandated the use of force. The Pentagon’s so-called Operation Inherent Resolve comes under the authority of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, which means that “basic facts are kept classified, including the cost of the mission, the units involved, where they are located, and the number of wounded, which is believed to be substantial,” as Harp pointed out.

The intriguing part is about the US intentions. The stated purpose of the Operation Inherent Resolve is to defeat the ISIS, but lately it has shifted to countering Iranian presence in Syria. According to the US special representative for Syria engagement James F. Jeffrey, Trump has agreed to keep U.S. troops in Syria indefinitely. “We are not in a hurry,” he said.

Turkey’s worst fear may be coming true – a Syrian Kurdistan taking shape right along its border. Indeed, this becomes a template of the overall US strategy to encircle Turkey and Iran and to control Baghdad and Damascus – and eventually to make Russian presence in Syria untenable.

The US aims to put a knife into the heart of the Turkey-Russia-Iran axis in Syria by accentuating the contradictions in the region. The gloves have come off vis-à-vis Iran, Pentagon is now “defanging” Turkey and it remains to be seen how long the gloves will remain in place in the dealings with Russia.

In a candid interview with the Russia media on November 21, Special Representative for Syria Engagement Jeffrey sounded testy. He repeated that the deployment of S-300 missiles to Syria is a “dangerous escalation” – “we would urge the Russians to be very careful with this” – and assertively spoke of the new sanctions against Iran and Russia for oil shipments to Syria, while also rejecting offhand any talk of trade-offs with Russia over Iranian presence in Syria and debunking the Astana process. Jeffrey even reserved the US military’s right “to exercise our right of self-defense” if Russian forces on the ground came in the way. (Jeffrey disclosed that there have been military engagements with the Russians so far in “about a dozen times in one or another place in Syria.”)

Pentagon will press ahead with the establishment of observation posts on the Syrian-Turkish border despite Ankara’s objections. Turkey’s hour of reckoning is approaching. A few days ago, Turkish media reported that Saudi and UAE troops had deployed to northern Syria. In early November, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus.

The US and Israel are pressing Saudi Arabia and the UAE to fund the Syrian Kurdish militia and help create proximity between the Kurdish and Arab tribes inhabiting northeastern Syria with a view to create a unified Kurdish-Arab militia that becomes a Syrian bulwark against the two non-Arab regional powers Turkey and Iran.

To quote from a prominent Saudi commentator in the establishment daily Asharq Al-Awsat, “The Americans are now establishing Syrian Kurdish militias as a striking force against several parties and this revives the hopes of the Syrian opposition that it has an opportunity to resume its fighting activities after it has lost most of what it gained of villages and territories during the civil war.”

Both Saudis and Emiratis are once again at the US’s bidding in Syria. These Gulf States no longer hide their association with Israel. They are reciprocating the US-Israeli help to shove the Khashoggi affair under the rug.

November 29, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pro-Israel groups attack Rand Paul for blocking $38 billion to Israel

If Americans Knew | November 27, 2018

Free Beacon reports that “pro-Israel groups in America are mobilizing against Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) for blocking the continuation of U.S. aid to Israel.”

Paul has placed a “block” on legislation to give Israel $38 billion over the next 10 years – $23,000 per every Jewish Israeli family of four. This is the largest military aid package in U.S. history and amounts to $7,230 per minute to Israel, or $120 per second. A stack of $38 billion dollar bills would reach ten times beyond the international space station.

A block is a legislative procedure in which a senator calls on the floor leader not to move forward with a bill and indicates that the senator may filibuster against it.

Jewish News Syndicate reported last week that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) had sent an action alert to its members calling on them to pressure Paul to remove his block on the bill, ‘‘S. 2497 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018.’

Now, according to Free Beacon, a right-wing pro-Israel website, AIPAC has also been purchasing advertisements on Facebook attacking Paul “as the primary Senate force blocking the reauthorization of the U.S.-Israel security pact.”

AIPAC Facebook ad against Rand Paul

Another pro-Israel group, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has also reportedly organized an email blitz to pressure Paul to remove his hold, and has “invested heavily” in ads in Kentucky targeting Rand’s constituents.

According to Free Beacon, “Paul, a proponent of ending U.S. aid across the globe, has had multiple confrontations with the pro-Israel community over the years as result of his views. Paul has sought to hold up U.S. aid to Israel multiple times over the years, creating friction between him and top U.S. pro-Israel lobbying shops.”

Yesterday CUFI sent an email to supporters around the country saying: “Sen. Rand Paul is blocking the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act, S.2497. This bill is the cornerstone of U.S. support for Israel.”

In the message, CUFI calls Paul the “last obstacle to getting this bill signed into law.”

Free Beacon reports that Paul has also recently proposed suspending U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain over their attacks on what the Free Beacon calls “pro-Iran militants in Yemen.” Paul has long opposed U.S. support for the attacks on Yemen, which is on the brink of famine and has 50,000 dead.

Israel has long targeted Yemen as one of the countries that must be controlled in its quest for hegemony in the region.

November 27, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

U.S. Foreign Policy Has No Policy

Why can’t we just leave everyone alone?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 27, 2018

President Donald Trump’s recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.

Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister of Britain in the mid nineteenth century, famously said that “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” The United States currently has neither real friends nor any clearly defined interests. It is, however, infested with parasites that have convinced an at-drift America that their causes are identical to the interests of the United States. Leading the charge to reduce the U.S. to “bitch” status, as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has artfully put it, are Israel and Saudi Arabia, but there are many other countries, alliances and advocacy groups that have learned how to subvert and direct the “leader of the free world.”

Trump’s memo on the Saudis begins with the headline “The world is a very dangerous place!” Indeed, it is and behavior by the three occupants of the White House since 2000 is largely to blame. It is difficult to find a part of the world where an actual American interest is being served by Washington’s foreign and global security policies. Indeed, a national security policy that sees competitors and adversaries as enemies in a military sense has made nuclear war, unthinkable since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, thinkable once again. The fact that no one in the media or in political circles is even talking about that terrible danger suggests that war has again become mainstreamed, tacitly benefiting from bipartisan acceptance of it as a viable foreign policy tool by the media, in the U.S. Congress and also in the White House.

The part of the world where American meddling coupled with ignorance has produced the worst result is inevitably the Middle East. Washington has been led by the nose by Israel and Saudi Arabia, currently working in sync, to have the United States destroy Iran even though the Iranians represent no threat whatsoever to Americans or any serious U.S. interests. The wildly skewed view of what is taking place in that region is reflected in Trump’s memo in the first paragraph, which reads:

“The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, ‘Death to America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’ Iran is considered ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror.’”

Almost all of that is either patently untrue or grossly exaggerated, meaning that Trump’s profoundly ignorant statement is remarkable for the number of lies that it incorporates into 631 words which are wrapped around a central premise that the United States will always do whatever it wants wherever it wants just because it can. The war being waged by the Saudis against Yemen, which reportedly has killed as many as 80,000 children, is not a proxy struggle against Iran as Trump prefers to think. It is naked aggression bordering on genocide that is enabled by the United States under completely false pretenses. Iran did not start the war and plays almost no role in it apart from serving as a Saudi and Emirati excuse to justify the fighting. Other lies include that Bashar al-Assad of Syria has killed millions of his own citizens and that Saudi Arabia is fighting terrorism. Quite the contrary is true as the Saudis have been a major source of Islamic terrorism. And as for Iran being the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorism,” that honor currently belongs to the U.S., Israel and the Saudis.

The core of Trump’s thinking about Khashoggi and the Saudis comes down to Riyadh’s willingness to buy weapons to benefit America’s defense contractors and this one sentence: “The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.” Yes, once again it is Israel pulling Trump’s strings, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leading the charge to give Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a pass on the gruesome murder of a legal resident of the United States who, once upon a time, might have actually had the U.S. government on his side.

The reckless calibrations employed to set American policies in other parts of the world are also playing out badly. Russia has been hounded relentlessly since the 2016 election, wasting the opportunity to establish a modus vivendi that Trump appeared to be offering in his campaign. Russian and American soldiers confront each other in Syria, where the U.S. has absolutely no real interests beyond supporting feckless Israel and Saudi Arabia in an unnecessary armed conflict that has already been lost. There is now talk of war coming from both Moscow and Washington while NATO in the middle has turned aggressive in an attempt to justify its existence. The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Russia is now worse than it was towards the end of the Cold War while the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s doorstep has threatened the Kremlin’s vital interests without advancing any interest of the United States.

Afghanistan has become the longest war in U.S. history with no end in sight and China too has seen what began as a dispute over trade turned into something more vitriolic, a military rivalry over the South China Sea that could explode. And North Korea? A love fest between two leaders that is devoid of content.

One might also add Venezuela to the list, with the U.S. initiating sanctions over the state of the country’s internal politics and even considering, according to some in the media, a military intervention.

All of the White House’s actions have one thing in common and that is that they do not benefit Americans in any way unless one works for a weapons manufacturer, and that is not even taking into consideration the dead soldiers and civilians and the massive debt that has been incurred to intervene all over the world. One might also add that most of America’s interventions are built on deliberate lies by the government and its associated media, intended to increase tension and create a casus belli where none exists.

So what is to be done as it often seems that the best thing Trump has going for him is that he is not Hillary Clinton? First of all, a comprehensive rethink of what the real interests of the United States are in the world arena is past due. America is less safe now than it was in 2001 as it continues to make enemies with its blundering everywhere it goes. There are now four times as many designated terrorists as there were in 2001, active in 70 countries. One would quite plausibly soon arrive at George Washington’s dictum in his Farewell Address, counseling his countrymen to “observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.” And Washington might have somehow foreseen the poisonous relationships with Israel and the Saudis when he warned that “… a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.”

George Washington or any of the other Founders would be appalled to see an America with 800 military bases overseas, allegedly for self-defense. The transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the military industrial complex and related entities like Wall Street has been catastrophic. The United States does not need to protect Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that are armed to the teeth and well able to defend themselves. Nor does it have to be in Syria and Afghanistan. And, by the way, Russia is no longer the Soviet Union and NATO should be abolished.

If the United States were to withdraw its military from the Middle East and the rest of Asia tomorrow, it would be to nearly everyone’s benefit. If the armed forces were to be subsequently reduced to a level sufficient to defend the United States it would put money back in the pockets of Americans and end the continuous fearmongering through surfacing of “threats” by career militarists justifying the bloated budgets.

Will that produce the peaceable kingdom? Probably not, but there are signs that some in powerful positions are beginning to see the light. Senator Rand Paul’s courageous decision to place a “hold” on aid to Israel is long overdue as Israel is a liability to the United States and is also legally ineligible for aid due to its undeclared nuclear arsenal and its unwillingness to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The hysterical reactions of American Jews and Israel suggest that any redirection of U.S. Middle East policy will produce a hostile reaction from the Establishment, but even small steps in the right direction could initiate a gradual process of turning the United States into a more normal country in its relationships with the rest of the world rather than a universal predator and bully.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

November 27, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

What you won’t hear from US govt: Iran is open to working with Saudi Arabia

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | November 22, 2018

Washington’s rhetoric regarding Iran paints the picture of an evil nation hellbent on destroying the world. In reality, it appears that Tehran would prefer dialogue with its rivals, which is unacceptable to the US.

Tuesday’s White House Statement from President Trump on “Standing with Saudi Arabia” was an outright condemnation of Iran and a total free pass for Saudi Arabia.

Iran is to blame for almost every issue in the Middle East, including the war in Yemen, according to the statement. The US-made and supplied bombs raining down on Yemeni school buses, with some 85,000 children dying in the process, is simply because of Iran. Not only is Iran responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen, Tehran has further helped “dictator Bashar Assad” in Syria kill “millions of his own citizens.” The official death toll of the Syrian war is under one million, and certainly the various jihadist groups, including Islamic State (IS), share responsibility for that figure.

“The Iranians” have also killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran not only shouts “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” but it is also considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

It is curious enough that firstly, in a statement about Saudi Arabia, the term “world’s leading sponsor of terror” is not gifted to the prime sponsors of Al-Qaeda and IS. Secondly, the fact that Trump himself put that term in inverted commas seems to suggest that even he doesn’t quite believe that one to be true.

Remember, Saudi Arabia is the country that Trump, before becoming president, once accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks. I wasn’t aware of this until reading the statement, but according to the White House, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. That’s right, Iran’s non-presence in Yemen must be removed in order for Saudi Arabia to cease blowing up children, hospitals, factories, food trucks, schools, agricultural land, strategic ports, and relinquish its complete stranglehold over the country.

If you were naive enough to take the White House statement at face value, you would surely think that Iran has much to answer for. Iran is, after all, public enemy number one and has been for some time. Conversely, Saudi Arabia has been a longstanding ally of the United States, a faithfully serving client state, and it should be protected at all costs especially if there is to be any hope at pushing back against Iran as it yells “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

But what if Iran was, despite all of its flaws, not interested in fighting a war with Saudi Arabia? What if we dug a little bit deeper and asked ourselves: is there another way of dealing with the “threat” that Iran poses?

In January this year, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote an article that was published in the Financial Times which laid out the country’s proposed framework for bringing stability to the Middle East. The article was widely ignored by the rest of the world, even though its implications were potentially life-saving.

“The objective of a strong region — as opposed to a quest for hegemony and the exclusion of other actors — is rooted in recognising the need to respect the interest of all stakeholders,” Zarif wrote. “Any domineering effort by one country is not only inappropriate but essentially impossible: those who insist on following that path create instability. The arms race in our region is an instance of this kind of destructive rivalry: siphoning vital resources into the coffers of arms manufacturers has contributed nothing to achieving peace and security. Militarism has only served to fuel disastrous adventurism.”

Zarif states that the usual modes of forming alliances have become “obsolete” and suggests that security networking to address issues is a much better practice. He proposes that instead of ignoring conflicts of interests, the countries in the region should accept their differences.

“The rules of this new order are straightforward: common standards, most significantly the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, such as sovereign equality of states; refraining from the threat or use of force; peaceful resolution of conflicts; respect for the territorial integrity of states; non-intervention in the domestic affairs of states; and respect for self-determination within states,” Zarif adds.

Zarif recommends opening up dialogue and blames a “dialogue deficit” for instability throughout the region. Such a dialogue, he argues, could help other nations understand that all parties have “similar concerns, fears, aspirations and hopes.” His eventual vision is that these countries will eventually adopt a “non-aggression pact.”

Now, Zarif did not explicitly state who he was talking about in this proposed path to peace and stability. But what if his intention was to work with Saudi Arabia, is this not something that should be talked about, particularly by the US commander-in-chief when releasing statements stoking the fire of an already volatile region while pitting two major regional players against each other?

In October last year, Zarif was quoted as saying that Tehran is willing and ready for rapprochement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, adding that he does not believe the two countries should have the type of relationship they have right now.

In December last year, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani further intimated that Tehran is willing to resume ties with Saudi Arabia if it halted its military campaign in Yemen and severed its ties with Israel.

“We don’t have any problem with the country that is our neighbor and unfortunately speaks a lot and speaks irrationally. Saudi Arabia, as our neighbor, should stop bombing Yemen from tomorrow, stop bowing to Israel, stand straight and rely on its nation,” Rouhani said.

In March this year, Zarif then took his ambiguous article one step further and openly said that Iran is willing to resolve its differences with Saudi Arabia’s as part of Tehran’s desire for stability in the region. As Zarif notes, this is not the first time Iran has reached out to the kingdom, yet the Saudis continue to reject Iran’s proposed dialogue.

In August of this year, Zarif further stated that Iran wants to restore relations with Saudi Arabia as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia had just allowed the entry of an Iranian diplomat to head Iran’s interests in the Kingdom, a rare move since diplomatic ties had been cut almost two years prior.

Just last month, Zarif again called for Saudi Arabia’s cooperation to push back against the “repeated insults” made by the US president at the time.

“This is the reward of the illusion that security could be achieved through external support,” Zarif said. “We extend our hands to our neighbours, saying: let’s build a strong region to stop this arrogant pride.”

I could be wrong, but in its totality, it does appear that Iran is proposing a framework where Middle Eastern countries settle their disputes between themselves without outside interference, whereby the US would be left out completely. Such a suggestion is in itself a form of hubris so unacceptable to Washington that the proposal itself makes the country ripe for a targeted regime change operation. Despite this, Iran has been quite open about its blueprint for a new outlook to the Middle East.

“We don’t need foreigners to guarantee the security of our region,” Iran’s president said earlier this year.

“When it comes to regional security arrangements, we are ready to talk to our neighbours and friends, without the presence of foreigners,” he added. “We are, have been and always will be good neighbours.” Yes – even Saudi Arabia.

In August, UN experts went even further and said that Iran might be willing to play a “constructive role” in ending the war in Yemen, something Iran has said it has been wanting to do for years by working with Saudi Arabia.

Conversely, the Saudis and their US counterparts are not so willing to take the Iranians up on their offer.The Saudis always want to “fight the Iranians to the last American,” according to former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates. The Saudis have even openly abandoned the Palestinian cause in an attempt to cosy up to Israel and create a US-backed alliance that can confront Iran in the region. The Saudi Crown Prince also compared Iran’s supreme leader to Adolf Hitler, a brazen statement for a man who executes journalists and unarmed children with complete impunity. The kingdom continues to openly work with Al-Qaeda linked groups to prolong the fighting in Yemen, all because its anti-Iran hysteria cannot falter from its position.

A détente between Riyadh and Tehran appears to be a far cry away from happening any time soon, but we cannot continue to pretend we haven’t noticed the opportunity that continues to present itself, particularly from the Iranian side. Whether an Iran-Saudi relationship is a positive step or a disastrous one is an important question to ask; but we should at least consider it as an option if it can avoid a potential and unnecessary war between two regional powers, as well as its potential to diffuse an already devastating war which continues to kill thousands of people completely needlessly.  

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 2 Comments

Russian diplomacy is winning the New Cold War

By Stephen F. Cohen | The Nation | November 22, 2018

Washington’s attempt to “isolate Putin’s Russia” has failed and had the opposite effect.

On the fifth anniversary of the onset of the Ukrainian crisis, in November 2013, and of Washington “punishing” Russia by attempting to “isolate” it in world affairs — a policy first declared by President Barack Obama in 2014 and continued ever since, primarily through economic sanctions — Cohen discusses the following points:

1. During the preceding Cold War with the Soviet Union, no attempt was made to “isolate” Russia abroad; instead, the goal was to “contain” it within its “bloc” of Eastern European nations and compete with it in what was called the “Third World.”

2. The notion of “isolating” a country of Russia’s size, Eurasian location, resources, and long history as a great power is vainglorious folly. It reflects the paucity and poverty of foreign thinking in Washington in recent decades, not the least in the US Congress and mainstream media.

3. Consider the actual results. Russia is hardly isolated. Since 2014, Moscow has arguably been the most active diplomatic capital of all great powers today. It has forged expanding military, political, or economic partnerships with, for example, China, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, India, and several other East Asian nations, even, despite EU sanctions, with several European governments. Still more, Moscow is the architect and prime convener of three important peace negotiations under way today: those involving Syria, Serbia-Kosovo, and even Afghanistan. Put differently, can any other national leaders in the 21st century match the diplomatic records of Russian President Vladimir Putin or of his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov? Certainly not former US Presidents George W. Bush or Obama or soon-to-depart German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nor any British or French leader.

4. Much is made of Putin’s purportedly malign “nationalism” in this regard. But this is an uninformed or hypocritical explanation. Consider French President Emmanuel Macron, who recently reproached Trump for his declared nationalism. The same Macron who has sought to suggest (rather implausibly) that he is a second coming of Charles de Gaulle, who himself was a great and professed nationalist leader of the 20th century, from his resistance to the Nazi occupation and founding of the Fifth Republic to his refusal to put the French military under NATO command. Nationalism, that is, by whatever name, has long been a major political force in most countries, whether in liberal enlightened or reactionary right-wing forms. Russia and the United States are not exceptions.

5. Putin’s success in restoring Russia’s role in world affairs is usually ascribed to his “aggressive” policies, but it is better understood as a realization of what is characterized in Moscow as the “philosophy of Russian foreign policy” since Putin became leader in 2000. It has three professed tenets. The first goal of foreign policy is to protect Russia’s “sovereignty,” which is said to have been lost in the disastrous post-Soviet 1990s. The second is a kind of Russia-first nationalism or patriotism: to enhance the well-being of the citizens of the Russian Federation. The third is ecumenical: to partner with any government that wants to partner with Russia. This “philosophy” is, of course, non- or un-Soviet, which was heavily ideological, at least in its professed ideology and goals.

6. Considering Washington’s inability to “isolate Russia,” considering Russia’s diplomatic successes in recent years, and considering the bitter fruits of US militarized and regime-change foreign policies (which long pre-date President Trump), perhaps it’s time for Washington to learn from Moscow rather than demand that Moscow conform to Washington’s thinking about—and behavior in—world affairs. If not, Washington is more likely to continue to isolate itself.

John Bachelor Show

Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University and a contributing editor of The Nation.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Khashoggi: How US Media Is Losing Its Moral Compass by Feeding Off Conspiracy Theories

By Martin JAY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.11.2018

Trump’s relationship with Erdogan raises new questions about the credibility of US mainstream journalism. Was Khashoggi a victim of a Turkish ‘honey trap’?

The Washington Post continues its banal attack on the regime of Saudi Arabia, following the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate on October 2. In Turkey too there is much which the western media cannot understand or refuses to probe, as Ankara plays a game of blackmail with Riyadh in a bid to extract a deal from Mohammad bin Salman who is at the centre of its character assassination.

But what are we missing? What is at the heart of this story which isn’t getting picked up by journalists or even TV commentators in the region?

Much has been written about the ‘free license’ that Trump and his son in law, Jared Kushner gave the Saudi prince and that this murder is an inevitable consequence of such blinded dogma towards ones allies. There is some truth in this, but if you are to look at the coverage of, in particular, the US media over Khashoggi, you might be curious to understand why it is so extensive and prolonged. After all, Saudi Arabia has been kidnapping its own dissidents for years and there are many western journalists who are killed or go missing around the world which get minimal coverage. Why such an entrenched campaign for Khashoggi?

Guilty

Partly this is a guilt complex of the Wapo editors, who I have accused in earlier articles for more or less sending Khashoggi on a suicide mission when they chose to publish his articles in Arabic. This was recently confirmed when Khashoggi’s editor at the Post – Karen Attiah – admitted to The Independent that the traffic which the Arabic articles generated shocked bosses there. I have always argued that this was a final blow for MbS, humiliated now by his adversaries in Riyadh who can read about his failings on a regular basis.

And it’s also about the fact that the Post considered him part of the DC elite. One of their own, which explains why he has become so canonised and his personality enshrined in virtue.

Their trade is treachery

In truth, Khashoggi was no saint. He took the King’s shilling from the Saudi elite all his life and made a good lifestyle for himself. At the end of a thirty year relationship of working for them and learning all of their secrets, he used that privilege as a weapon to destroy MbS. In most cultures around the world, this is called treachery. We should remember that even in London in 1963, when British spy Kim Philby defected to Moscow, many wanted him to hang for selling out to the Russians and being a double agent for all his career. Khashoggi may well have been an amiable character. But he was also a traitor.

We are led to believe that he left Riyadh in 2017 because he feared being detained. But could it be that he was frustrated at not being promoted within the hierarchy?

A select number of journalists and academics, like Dr Nafeez Ahmed, support this theory, in part at least and go further to say that Khashoggi was murdered because he was about to distribute solid evidence of the Saudis using chemical weapons in Yemen. The British academic also underlines Khashoggi’s role for Saudi intelligence and, moreover, how he helped the Saudi royal family support Bin Laden, right up until 9-11.

Yet my own sources close to the Saudi elite tell me that MbS wanted to call him back to Riyadh because Khashoggi was at the centre of a coup in the making, which would have benefitted the former Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef, and still operated very much as though he was a Saudi intelligence asset. Not so much a treacherous journalist who didn’t know which side his bread was buttered, but more a double agent who was the gatekeeper of incendiary information. Something had to be done about Khashoggi.

Frustrated journalists are dangerous people. They lose sight of their loyalties and promises they made. And Khashoggi was an odd character struggling with an identity crisis. Is it the same case with Karen Attieh on the Oped desk of the Post which managed him? Did she connect with him as she too feels not taken seriously by her bosses at the Washington Post ?

Conspiracy theory extended? Unfortunately we are led to feral speculation when we are denied the facts, especially deliberately.

Western media has a lot to be ashamed of on both covering up the Khashoggi murder – by going along with the demonization of the kingdom – and in being part of it happening in the first place. How does all of the gory details about Khashoggi’s murder get reported as fact by the Post, when it has no proof from the Turkish police sources who supply them? There is gargantuan hypocrisy at play here as the Post is part of a conspiracy now. It played a role in Khashoggi getting murdered and it is now playing a role in diverting blame away from itself and blithely accusing Saudi Arabia’s leader of the murder with little or no solid evidence. This is sloppy journalism on a whole new scale and shows a dire lack of journalistic credibility and judgment (unless of course the Post is part of a murky campaign of disinformation which has been agreed between Ankara and Washington whose firebrand leaders are now on good terms once again). Is the Post part of a dirty deal which has been struck by Trump and Erdogan to rewrite this story?

Far fetched? Ludicrous? Maybe, but let’s look at the facts. Trump is standing back and letting Erdogan continue with his drip feeding of sensational detailed evidence, in a blackmail game with MbS – but what’s the price Americans pay for that? To place himself at the centre of that charade, Trump has indicated to the Saudis that they need to release women activists from jail (likely to happen soon) and to cancel the Qatar blockade (on the cards, but will take longer). But before that happens, what we are witnessing is Trump looking for a media distraction (sanctions against the Saudi ‘killers’) while he mulls the idea of letting Erdogan have the exiled cleric, Gulen, who the Turkish President accuses of being the architect of the July 2017 attempted coup.

But he has also allowed Erdogan to use the US media as a platform for his own moral tutelage. Yes, astonishingly, the Washington Post – which presents itself as an arbiter of free speech and a protector of journalists and their sanctity, following Khashoggi’s murder – chose to publish Erdogan’s Oped about the affair, giving the Turkish leader the edge in the power game by selling out the lives of all 170 journalists in Turkish prisons, which, presumably, Wapo editors just forgot about on that given day. One can only assume that Karen Attiah managed to hold back the tears for those who are rotting in Turkish prisons for merely writing an Oped which vexed the Turkish leader.

Presumably Erdogan paid the Post to publish the piece – otherwise, if it were gratis, then that would be like Wapo supporting him and his political leadership. But was this the same money that Saudi Arabia is reported to pay to regional media outlets to buy their loyalty? How can a Middle Eastern leader who has imprisoned a record number of journalists and who is now blackmailing the Saudis, get the support from the Washington Post ? Can this really be happening?

Erdogan must be laughing his head off in Turkey as he sees day after day that western media just report as facts, what his officials say about the details of the murder. And laughing even hysterically when all he needs to do is write an article taking the moral high ground – don’t laugh – on the rights of journalists in the region and give it to the Post to publish.

The dark side of Khashoggi murder

Good investigative journalists are cynical about everything which is presented to them. Is, for example, the relationship between Khashoggi and his fiancé entirely what it seemed, or was she directed by Erdogan to ‘honey trap’ the Saudi journalist as part of an elaborate plot to ensnare the Saudi crown prince? Sources from the intelligence community of one middle eastern country (I prefer not to name which one) are at least beginning to wonder about this. And almost certainly so are the Saudis. Yet western journalists who refuse to at least consider that the Khashoggi abduction was bungled (and ended up being a murder) are likely to call this a conspiracy theory. Even if it is, they should at least report on it and mull it. What about all the tools which the hit team brought, they might ask. Could they have been brought to be used to scare Khashoggi into handing over the information that MbS was seeking?

Khashoggi’s fiancé doesn’t seem distraught and the sheer speed in which the couple headed towards the marriage courts is questionable, as is, indeed her own personal relationship with Erdogan, which she even admitted to the BBC. Other questions should be the ‘evidence’ presented by Erdogan, which is looking ropy to say the least, which some journalists are identifying as such.

For the moment, the only certain thing about the Khashoggi affair is how standards of western media have plummeted to an all time low with the Post leading the pack with partisan judgment, check book journalism and an internal guilt trip fuelling their unremarkable reporting, not to mention their abysmal editorial judgment. American media has lost the moral compass and Khashoggi will be remembered for this above all – with many arguing that this, in itself, plays a role in the impunity of those carrying out the rendition and murder. When the Saudis fell into the Turkish trap, they probably believed that Turkey would be the last place in the world to care about one kidnapped journalist. But they could never have imagined how partisan, sloppy and hypocritical western media would be in covering the story. What Khashoggi has taught us is that the day that Americans read newspapers based on the editors’ judgment are well behind us. So why should we read them at all?

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 3 Comments

US will remain steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure Israel’s interests: Trump

Press TV – November 20, 2018

President Donald Trump has said Washington intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure interests of the United States, Israel and regional partners.

Trump said that it is possible that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had knowledge of the assassination of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a statement issued by the White House on Tuesday.

Trump said that “King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the US president insisted. “They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!” he added.

He mentioned that Saudi Arabia had “agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States.”

“Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!” he pointed out.

He acknowledged that the “crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone,” but implied that due to the murder of a journalist Washington cannot cancel such lucrative business deals with the kingdom.

Some US senators have called on Trump to cancel arms deals with Saudi Arabia as a punishment over the murder of Khashoggi — a US resident who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 after being lured into the mission for some standard paperwork.

While mounting evidence released by Turkey and even the CIA point to bin Salman’s role in the murder, Trump had resisted calls inside Washington to hold him responsible.

In an attempt to ease the criticism, the US Treasury Department imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudis involved in the murder on Thursday.

The sanctions came after the Saudi public prosecutor announced that five officials faced a possible death sentence in the case but exonerated bin Salman, also known as MBS.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Prospects for Syrian peace are looking up

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 20, 2018

After prolonged hibernation, the Astana Process on Syrian peace is kinetic, with the troika of ‘guarantor’ states – Russia, Turkey and Iran – set to hold a round of talks in the Kazakh capital on November 28-29. Delegations of the Syrian government and the opposition are also expected to attend. A renewed effort is commencing to create traction for the UN-sponsored negotiations in Geneva.

Much water has flown down the Euphrates since the 9th round of the Astana Process took place in May. Six months is a long time in politics – especially in Middle East politics. But, paradoxically, while Middle Eastern politics is in turmoil, the prospects for peace in Syria may have improved. The setting for tomorrow’s meet – it’s unclear at what level the event will take place – has become largely favorable. At least 10 major reasons can be attributed.

One, Syria is witnessing a period of relative calm. There has been no major fighting for months. Two, Syrian-Jordanian border had reopened and nothing of a feared flare-up happened in the Golan Heights. Three, the Russian-Turkish understanding on Idlib is holding. Four, Israel has been effectively ‘defanged’ (thanks to deployment of Russian S-300 ABM system to Syria). Five, Russia and Iran intend to retain their military footprints in Syria for a foreseeable future, while on the contrary, the US lacks the political will or the military capability to impact the strategic calculations of Moscow, Tehran, Damascus or Ankara.

Six, importantly, Turkey has become an implicit ally of Russia and Iran and is inching closer and closer to a political deal that leaves President Bashar Al-Assad in power. Seven, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are in the lead in shaping the Syria policy, with clear strategic goals and, even more so, the means to achieve them.

Eight, on the other hand, a growing determination on the part of Russia, Iran, and Turkey is discernible to freeze out the United States from any role in shaping Syria’s geo-strategic future. Although the three countries would have tactical differences between them, broadly, Turkey will accommodate Russia and Iran so long as it has a free hand to check the Kurdish forces threatening its security. Significantly, the announcement on the rebooting of the Astana Process comes after the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey on November 19.

Nine, the crisis in Turkish-American relations not only persists but may even deepen in the period ahead. Finally, the Trump administration’s calculations that its re-imposition of sanctions against Iran will either force Iran out of Syria or, better yet, produce a veritable collapse of the Iranian government are turning out to be a mere pipe dream. In fact, the opposite has happened.

Iran is intensifying its coordination with Russia and Turkey, and is creating firewalls to protect its strategic gains in Syria. Again, it is clear by now that the US cannot count on the new government in Baghdad to act against Iranian interests.

On the other hand, the dangerous situation that has arisen on Israel’s border with Gaza (which was precipitated entirely by Israeli hardliners) and the ensuing mayhem in Israel’s domestic politics will seriously delimit Benjamin Netanyahu’s energy and resources to act as ‘spoiler’ in Syria. Moscow has openly snubbed Netanyahu lately by refusing him to schedule his visit.

Similarly, the widening cracks in the US-Saudi alliance in the downstream of the Khashoggi murder all but means an overall Saudi disengagement from the Syrian conflict. The UAE has already begun mending fences with the Syrian government, which would only have been possible with Saudi approval. (See my blog UAE, Saudi sense convergence with Syria.)

Suffice to say, the so-called Syrian opposition is finding itself rudderless. Their erstwhile mentors – US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE – have either reached a dead end or have turned to new priorities in their self-interests accepting the defeat in the Syrian conflict.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Norwegian diplomat Geir Pederson as the UN Secretary-General’s new special envoy for Syria becomes a positive factor. Russia has warmly noted that “we know him as an experienced and unbiased diplomat.” Pederson’s predecessor Staffan de Mistura was widely perceived as a sidekick of the US. Clearly, the Astana Process is not wasting time by kickstarting the work on a Syrian settlement even as Perdersen moves in.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Yemeni Houthis halt missile strikes, offer wider ceasefire if Saudi-led coalition really wants peace

RT | November 18, 2018

After years of bloodshed, Yemen’s Houthi movement is urging the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to join a comprehensive ceasefire if it really “wants peace,” the leader of the rebel group Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said Sunday.

At the request of Martin Griffiths, the United Nations special envoy for Yemen, the group is stopping ballistic missile and drone attacks on the coalition countries.

Al-Houthi also stressed the rebels’ readiness to freeze military operations on all fronts in an effort to reach a “just and honorable” peace.

Earlier this week the UN official told the UN Security Council that Yemen’s warring parties had agreed to hold talks in Sweden “shortly.”

Yemen has been the scene of mass casualties and civilian suffering throughout the civil war, especially after the coalition intervention in 2015.

While much of the population remains on the brink of starvation, the nation has also endured a cholera outbreak and a severe lack of medical supplies.

According to recent estimates, around 56,000 people died in the conflict.

November 18, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment