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Saudi king suggested ground invasion of Qatar to Trump in June 2017: Report

Press TV – August 9, 2020

A new report has revealed that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud proposed a plan to US President Donald Trump to invade Qatar in the summer of 2017, as a bitter feud between Saudi Arabia and the Doha government escalated.

According to American news magazine Foreign Policy, the Saudi monarch put forward the proposal during a telephone conversation with Trump back on June 6, 2017, suggesting a ground invasion of Qatar.

Trump, however, roundly dismissed the idea, and requested Kuwait to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to resolve the conflict.

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

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry condemned the decision to cut diplomatic ties as unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

That year, Saudi Arabia and its allies issued a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of al-Jazeera television news network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the reconciliation.

The document also asked Qatar to cut all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah. Qatar rebuffed the demands as “unreasonable.”

Director of the Information Office at the Qatari Foreign Ministry, Ahmed bin Saeed bin Jabor al-Rumaihi, reacted to the report, stating that charges that Saudi Arabia and its allies have been trying to level against his country since June 2017 are meant “only to create justifications to achieve other targets that gamble with the future of the region and its people.”

“The military option, which was considered by the blockading countries, violates international law and all international conventions, which we have approved as a member country of the UN, to resolve disputes peacefully. It also clearly indicates a ‘gambling irresponsible policy’, similar to that which led the region to a state of instability in the beginning of the 1970s,” Rumaihi said in a series of Arabic posts published on his Twitter page.

He underlined that Saudi Arabia’s decision up until now not to deny the report of the US magazine “indicates the reality of what had happened.”

“The military option proposal, as revealed by the magazine, corroborates remarks made by Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump on September 7, 2017 at the White House, where he said the Kuwaiti mediation successfully stopped military invasion of Qatar,” he pointed out.

Back in May 2019, US daily The Wall Street Journal revealed that the Saudi army prepared in 2017 to invade Qatar.

The newspaper quoted American, Saudi and Qatari officials as saying that the Saudi plan included the seizure of the North Field, which is the largest single, non-associated gas reservoir in the world.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanon: The Beirut Blast, Destabilisation, Chaos, And An Attempt At Regime Change

By Feroze Mithiborwala | OneWorld | August 9, 2020

Interference By The US & France In The Immediate Aftermath Of The Terror Attack

Statements by US Ambassador Dorothy Shea & French President Macron are clear pointers to this nefarious design.

USA Ambassador Shea issued a statement supporting the rioters stating, “The Lebanese people deserve leadership that listens to their demands for transparency and accountability.”

In fact MK Moshe Feiglin, an extreme right-winger from Israeli PM Netanyahu’s Likud Party, could not hide his happiness at the tragedy that had befallen Beirut. Feiglin wrote that he was, “sending his thanks to G-d, and all the geniuses and heroes really (!) who organized for us this wonderful celebration in honour of the Day of Love.”

Feiglin surely seems to know the “geniuses & heroes who organised” this massive terror attack. Interesting indeed, should I say, “Elementary my dear Watson!”

President Macron of France, the old colonial power, immediately flew into Beirut on the 6th of August, two days after the terror attack on the 4th of August & went on to say, “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink. What is also needed here is political change. This explosion should be the start of a new era.”

This is the same Macron facing massive popular protests in France from hundreds of thousands of discontented & angry farmers, workers, students, and pensioners who are protesting against Macrons’ neo-liberal reforms and massive corruption. The Yellow Vest movement as it’s popularly called faces great repression and violence from the French police. Thus the pretentious & arrogant Macron is hardly qualified to preach to other nations. In fact, on a lighter note, the French are appealing to the Lebanese to keep Macron in Beirut as he’s a disaster for France.

Which country, which government, which army will permit an ambassador or a president of a foreign nation to make such provocative statements immediately in the aftermath of such a massive terror attack on their soil?

The entire Beirut port destroyed, more than a 150 dead and counting, more than 5,000 injured, with an unprecedented 300,000 people who have lost their homes. The population of Beirut itself is around a million, whilst the entire population on Lebanon is around 4 million. It will take between an estimated $10 to $15 billion to rebuild the port and the city. Beirut city itself has been declared a national disaster.

An online petition has been floated on Avaaz appealing to France to once again come & rule Lebanon under the French Colonial mandate for 10 years. This is truly pathetic & the collaborators will soon be exposed.
These are all clear signals for the collaborator forces to carry out a coup, ensuring US, French, Israeli & Saudi support.

Protesters Resort To Violence & Vandalism

Protesters have killed one policeman, even as many protesters have been injured in violent clashes with the police. A group of retired army officers too got into the act & took over the Foreign Ministry & announced that it was the HQ of the revolution & appealed to the protesters to take over other government buildings. Three hours later they were vacated by a contingent of the Lebanese Army.

The protesters are destroying, burning documents & files in key government ministries, namely Foreign Affairs, the Economic & the Environment Ministries. These are clear attempts to destroy the evidence & thus pre-empt the time-bound investigation being carried out by the government looking into the Beirut blast.

On their part, the Lebanese government, President Michel Aoun, PM Hassan Diab, and the Army have stated that the people have legitimate grievances and the right to protest. But the protests must be peaceful and the vandalisation of property, of government buildings, and destruction documents will not be allowed. PM Diab has also called for elections to be held within a period of 2 months.

Target: The Lebanese National Resistance

The target of this terror attack, contrived destabilisation & chaos is undoubtedly Hezbollah & all the constituents of Lebanese National Resistance that have all made great sacrifices whilst valiantly resisting the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. They have defended & successfully defeated Israel, when finally the Zionist military machine was forced to retreat in the year 2000, though yet they continue to occupy the Sheba farms.

This was followed by another Israeli invasion in 2006, where again the Lebanese National Resistance defeated Israel & ended their military domination of the region. Israeli terror, its military machine had finally been counter-balanced by the courage & resilience of the Resistance.

The Beirut Port Blast

In context of the Beirut blast, aspersions are being cast and anger mainly being directed against Hezbollah for storing weapons at the port, a charge that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has denied & scoffed at. Hezbollah is the primary target of the Israeli war machine and thus Hezbollah takes great precautions in hiding & securing its weaponry from being targeted by Israel. Thus a public place like the port is clearly out of the question. On his part, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has called for an open & transparent investigation into the Beirut blast.

Key Questions For The Investigation

The investigation will prove who were the real perpetrators & thus some of the key issues that they need to ascertain are the following:-

▪ Who controlled the port security?

▪ Was there a Hezbollah weapons depot?

▪ Who was responsible for the storage of the ammonium nitrate, since when was it present, why was it allowed to remain in the port?

▪ Was the destruction caused by an advanced potent weapon fired by a foreign nation?

▪ According to the Lebanese Army, there were 29 aerial incursions of Lebanese airspace by Israeli fighter-jets over the 1st & 2nd of August just 48 hours prior to the blast on the 4th of August.

▪Radar images of unusual patrols and reconnaissance operations of four US Navy spy planes on the Lebanon-Syria border are also part of the evidence. Was the US monitoring the operation leading to the massive attack on Beirut?

So Who Controls Access To The Port?

According to Steven Sahounie, a Damascus-based journalist & political analyst, “Hassan Koraytem is the General Manager of the Port Authority of Beirut, and a member of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ‘Future Party’, which controls access to the Port.”

Thus once again we have the Hariri factor, the pro-US-Saudi ally in control of the port. Another key part of the mounting evidence of internal sabotage and an external attack.

On the issue of the ammonium nitrate, that does require further investigation, as it was clearly present in the port. Yet the “white mushroom cloud” that we all have witnessed is evidence of another volatile material, a new weapon, a new advanced missile, that has been ominously plausibly unleashed in this terror attack.

Here Lebanese President General Michel Aoun has publicly stated that, “The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act.”

In fact, US President Trump clearly stated that it was a “terrible attack”, and went on to say that “American generals told him that it was likely caused by a bomb.”

Trump’s public statement is remarkable indeed, as his generals clearly told their President that it was an “attack”.

This later led to denials by Defence Secretary Mark Esper, who insisted that it was an “accident”. Yet the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows defended the President and stated that Trump only told reporters on Tuesday what military officials had told him. “The president shared with the American people what he was briefed on, with 100% certainty I can tell you that.”

Clearly an attack by an external force, namely Israel, with the full knowledge of the US, France & Saudi Arabia cannot be ruled out. In my estimation, they are the real perpetrators of this vile act of terror. They have a history of such bloody acts, as we all well know.

The Lebanese National Resistance

In this hour of great peril, we stand in solidarity with the Lebanese people & the Lebanese National Resistance and both are intertwined. This remarkable nation has survived despite all the plots to divide the society & engineer civil wars.

Lebanon has survived despite the economic sanctions imposed upon them by the US, France and Saudi Arabia. This has created a severe economic crisis, leading to hyper-inflation & record unemployment rates. That even as Lebanese oligarchs have swindled the banks, leaving Lebanon burdened with gargantuan debt of around $90 billion. This compounded with the fact that the war on Syria itself has led to a great degree of political, economic and social destabilisation within Lebanon.

Do note that effigies of President Michel Aoun & Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah are being selectively burnt by protesters. This is despite the well-known fact that it was the US-Saudi-backed Hariri clan, the Future Party, their allies that control the key sectors of the economy and have gained enormously by their corrupt misrule of the country. Thus if the current Michel Aoun government arrests certain powerful corrupt leaders & individuals, Lebanon will descend into civil war, protected as they are by foreign powers & private militias.

The Lebanese Confessional Political System

According to noted Syrian-Palestinian analyst & Beirut-based journalist Laith Marouf, it is in fact the French gift of the sectarian parliamentary system that has been the bane of Lebanon. The entire political edifice is based on a “confessional system” whereby the political representatives are elected on the basis of their narrow religious and sectarian identities. This has ensured that Lebanon remains internally divided and thus weak. The political system itself is designed to prevent a larger Lebanese national identity from emerging, strait-jacketed as they are in a narrow religio-sectarian system.

This compounded with the fact that there is a disproportionate amount of foreign interference in domestic Lebanese affairs, due to which the government remains divided, weak & indecisive. This in fact provides the space for the unbridled loot & corruption of the ruling classes.

The Lebanese National Resistance

Yet, despite all these seemingly insurmountable hurdles, Lebanese society has given birth to one of the most remarkable national resistance movements of our times. A resistance movement that has withstood and defeated the combined might of the US & Israel over nearly four decades. This in itself is a miracle.

Basically, Lebanon is paying the price of standing with the Axis of the Resistance in the region, namely Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran & Yemen. These nations refuse to surrender their sovereignty and their independence to the might of the imperial, Zionist, collaborator nexus & are thus facing an outright war on both the military, and economic fronts.

Despite all the odds, this nation with a population of only 4 million continues to resolutely stand with the Resistance. An overwhelming number of the Lebanese people remain committed to the liberation of Palestine, of the entire region – and it is due to this very reason that they are paying the ultimate price.

All these plots have failed, that even as the Lebanese National Resistance has grown stronger & has gained legitimacy & respect across the world, much to the chagrin of the imperial-collaborator nexus.

We Stand With Lebanon

This is also an appeal to the International solidarity movements against Imperialism & Zionism, the international Palestine solidarity movements, the anti-war movements, to come out and expose this nefarious plot against the Lebanese National Resistance and the liberation movements across the region & the world. An appeal to come and stand with Lebanon and defend the Resistance that today is the vanguard and stands at the front lines & defends the world.

Feroze Mithiborwala is an expert on West Asian affairs, he is also the Founder-National General Secretary of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum and was the organiser of the First Asian Convoy to Gaza (2010) & the Global March to Jerusalem (2012).

August 9, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Belgian court suspends issuing arms export licenses to companies dealing with Riyadh

Press TV – August 8, 2020

Belgium’s highest administrative court has suspended issuing arms export licenses for a number of Belgian companies in a bid to block the flow of arms to Saudi Arabia over its poor human rights record and the bloody campaign against Yemen.

On Friday, the Council of State decided on the move by an emergency ruling, which overturned the decision by the Wallonian minister-president, Elio di Rupo, who had granted licenses to two arms companies FN Herstal and CMI Defence.

Back in early July, Di Rupo had given authorization to the two Wallonia-based companies to sell weapons to the Saudi Arabia’s National Guard and Royal Guard. The licenses were meant to replace previous authorizations canceled by the same court.

“It cannot be excluded that there is a real risk for the weapons … to be used in the context of the conflict in Yemen or to contribute to internal repression,” the Friday ruling said.

The Saudi regime is the most important client of Wallonia’s arms industry. In 2018, Riyadh purchased weapons for $267 million from local arms companies, based in Belgium’s southern region, representing one-quarter of Wallonia’s total arms export.

Wallonian arms company John Cockerill, whose arms export license was suspended by a previous court ruling, gave military training to the Saudi army in eastern France two years ago, Amnesty International says.

Saudi Arabia has violated the very basics of human rights by killing tens of thousands of civilians in its war on Yemen, besides its other rights violations against its own citizens.

The Yemen conflict, which began in earnest in March 2015, has devastated large swathes of the country and triggered multiple humanitarian disasters, including famine and the internal displacement of millions of people into disease-infested camps and areas.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia seeking to partition Yemen since 2011: Secret documents

Press TV – August 7, 2020

Leaked Saudi secret documents have revealed that the kingdom has been pursuing a policy to partition Yemen through supporting various tribal leaders.

According to the Qatari Arabic-language al-Jazeera television news network, which leaked the documents, they indicate that several plots adopted by the Riyadh regime have plunged Yemen into its current situation.

Some of the 162 pages of documents disclosed that the Saudi regime has been constantly trying to consolidate the authority of tribes by providing material support to some sheikhs in exchange for assurances that they would advance Riyadh’s agendas and policies.

The amount of support for the tribal leaders is definite, given the importance of each tribe and the extent of its sheikhs’ commitment to implement the directives and instructions received away from the sovereignty and authority of the Yemeni state.

The documents included a letter classified as “top secret” and dated February 14, 2010, in which then King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz instructed Saudi officials to provide 50 million riyals (about $13 million) to support and arm Yemeni tribes loyal to the kingdom and living in areas adjacent to the Saudi border.

The documents revealed that Saudi Arabia was dealing with the separation of southern Yemen as one of the main options for resolving what it describes as the “southern issue.”

A document dated from September 2012 showed that some southern entities received significant Saudi support after 2011.

Meanwhile, the kingdom had employed spies to report on meetings between southern leaders, which were held under international sponsorship.

The kingdom’s initiative towards southern powers took place without the knowledge of the Yemeni government, according to the document.

Other documents showed Saudi Arabia hindered German and Qatari reconstruction efforts in the northern Yemeni city of Sa’ada, after a ceasefire had ended six years of conflicts between Houthi fighters and forces loyal to then president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2010.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a devastating war on Yemen with the declared aim of putting Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power, and eliminating the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Riyadh has not been alone in the bloody campaign, enjoying arms supplies from its Western backers and support from its regional allies, chief among them, the United Arab Emirates.

Over 100,000 people have been killed in the Saudi war on Yemen, according to some semi-official figures.

The Saudi regime has failed to fulfill the objective of its deadly campaign.

The war has also destroyed and shut down Yemen’s infrastructure. The Yemeni population has been subjected to large-scale hunger and diseases aggravated by the naval blockade imposed on the country by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Corruption | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia: Ambitious Plans and Facts on the Ground

By Viktor Mikhin – New Eastern Outlook – 20.07.2020

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to implement an ambitious $800 billion initiative aimed at increasing the size of Riyadh in the next decade, and at transforming the capital into an economic, social and cultural hub in the Persian Gulf region.

The ambitious strategy was presented by Fahd Al-Rasheed, the President of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, ahead of this year’s key high-level meetings between leaders of G20 and of the commission responsible for the urban, economic, social, and cultural development of the capital city of Saudi Arabia. “Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” Fahd Al-Rasheed told Arab News. “We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens,” he added. In the next few years, 7 million trees will be planted in Riyadh, despite its arid climate, and once completed, King Salman Park is expected to be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

All of these plans sound really promising and it would be easy to share in the enthusiasm of our Saudi partners in the oil industry. Unfortunately, the current reality is not as rosy and “plots of the folk tales One Thousand and One Nights” often change to reflect the stark facts on the ground. Although Fahd Al-Rasheed talked about Saudi Vision 2030, few in the Kingdom appear to concern themselves with the strategy. And it is not that the Saudi leadership does not wish to transform the Kingdom into a heavenly place, but that they simply lack money for even the nation’s basic necessities and have to save money in every sphere. Hence, it is far more sensible to forget the unrealistic plans for the time being. Of course, it is pure joy to live and not to worry about a thing, but to do so a country needs to have a robust economy and high earnings, as it did earlier.

The poorly thought through and formulated oil strategy, which Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud has been trying to implement, has had a strong negative impact on all the oil producing nations, and especially on Saudi Arabia. As a result, the Saudi leadership was forced to come back down to Earth and start saving money in every possible sphere. So for now, Saudi Vision 2030 appears all but forgotten.

To cope with the hardship, Saudi Arabia tripled its value-added tax (VAT) rate starting on July 1, and suspended a cost of living allowance from June as part of cost-cutting programs to counter the severe economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the sudden fall in oil prices. Approximately 1.5 million state employees are affected by the latter measure. The cost of living allowance was a monthly payment of 1,000 riyals ($267) introduced by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in 2018 “to help offset increased financial burdens, including VAT and a rise in the price of petrol”. The Kingdom’s “central bank foreign exchange reserves fell in March at their fastest rate in at least 20 years”, reaching their lowest levels since 2011, while Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit hit $9 billion in the first quarter of 2020 as oil revenues collapsed. The news outlet Middle East Eye reported that in January 2015, when Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became king, the country’s “foreign reserves totaled $732 billion”. According to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, these reserves had been diminished to $499 billion by December 2019, and they have since continued to decrease. The Kingdom has sustained considerable financial losses and damage to its reputation, because it was forced to temporarily suspend entry for foreigners for pilgrimage to the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan ruefully said that “the global economic crisis associated with the Coronavirus pandemic” had led to three major shocks to the Saudi economy. The first was the unprecedented fall in oil prices “leading to a sharp decline in” the kingdom’s revenues. The second stemmed from “the preventive measures taken to curb the spread of Covid-19, leading to the suspension of many economic activities”, which in turn took a toll on non-oil revenues. The third shock was caused “by the rising expenditure on the health sector to deal with the rising number of Covid-19 patients”. “The challenges combined have led to a decline in government revenues and pressure on public finance to levels that are hard to counter without harming the kingdom’s macroeconomics and public finances in the medium and long term,” Mohammed Al-Jadaan said. “Therefore, a further reduction in expenditures is a must, along with measures to stabilize non-oil revenues,” added the Minister of Finance.

Incidentally, Mohammed Al-Jadaan appears to have forgotten to mention the vast sums of money the power-hungry Crown Prince has wasted. Seemingly on autopilot, he spent enormous amounts to oust the democratically elected President of Syria Bashar al-Assad. Even nowadays, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud allegedly continues to provide financial support to militants occupying Syria’s Idlib Governorate, thus contributing to the delay in finding a resolution to the complex Syrian conflict. It was at the Crown Prince’s initiative that Saudi Arabia spearheaded a coalition that intervened in the civil war in the brotherly nation of Yemen, resulting in death and destruction in this impoverished nation. Such a military undertaking requires a considerable amount of money, something that the Kingdom’s budget is in dire need of. Even now, Riyadh continues to stoke tensions with Iran, seemingly failing to comprehend the simple fact that the West, while appearing to support Saudi Arabia, is actually following its favorite divide and conquer strategy and thus strengthening its position in this important region of the world. In addition, outdated US weapons are being sold for too high a price to the Kingdom. In fact, Saudi Arabia has accumulated more military equipment and arms than its army needs. And do Saudi “falcons” really expect to emerge victorious from a confrontation with Iran, while they continue to suffer defeats at the hands of poor Yemeni inhabitants, who are still mainly fighting with Soviet armaments? Plus another question arises: “Why did Saudi Arabia spoil its relationship with Qatar and impose tough sanctions (as Americans are prone to do) against this small nation?” It appears that the answer is “Just for the fun of it.”

Consequences of Crown Prince’s poorly thought through policies are being felt even today. In fact, there is still a risk of new tensions arising in the global oil market and further financial losses for everyone and especially the Kingdom. Media outlets and experts have been reporting about yet another rivalry on world markets. Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell its oil at a discount to undercut Nigeria and Angola for their non-compliance with production cuts, agreed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies. The tough stance taken by the Kingdom, with its world’s largest crude oil production capacity, may lead to yet another oil price war, which is bound to have serious consequences. “We know who your customers are,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy reportedly told the representatives of Nigeria and Angola, which count China and India as their biggest clients. However, India is still in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, hence its economy has not recovered as yet. Riyadh’s only hope is China, which receives unlimited supplies of cheap oil and gas from Russia via pipelines. It is quite clear that Moscow has no plans to reduce supplies of these fossil fuels in the current tough climate. The Saudi leadership, therefore, has no other choice but to stop and think long and hard before taking any rash decisions. The world has changed and Saudi Arabia is no longer the only leader on the global oil market.

Still, Riyadh’s officials are free to continue talking about their ambitious plans, but realizing them requires vast sums of money, which the Kingdom simply does not have in its budget at present. And without financial backing, all of these hopes and dreams are nothing more than a mirage in the Arabian Desert, which disappears as soon as one tries to take a closer look at it.

Victor Mikhin is a member-correspondent of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Britain’s Gentleman Posturing Comes Undone With Absurd Hypocrisy

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | July 13, 2020

It’s official Britain at its best, posing as the quintessential gentleman upholding morality while at the same time engaging in despicable double-dealing for grubby interests.

The British government announced sanctions against various nations last week, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, proclaiming the punitive measures were due to alleged human rights violations. Foreign minister Dominic Raab, summoning throaty British authority, declared to the House of Commons that it sent a “clear message” to the world of British rectitude.

The next day, however, London made a separate announcement that it was resuming arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite an international outcry over war crimes committed in Yemen. Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen by Saudi warplanes bombing that country over the past five years.

It is estimated by the United Nations that the majority of civilian casualties have been caused by air strikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.

Britain, as well as the United States and France, has been arming the Saudi military coalition in its war in Yemen. The British arms trade was halted last year as “unlawful” by a court ruling out of concern for civilian deaths. Now though the British government has decided that the arms dealing can resume because violations were deemed by ministers to be “isolated” incidents. How quaint is the self-serving subjectivity of British officialdom.

The UK-based Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) slammed the government’s decision, saying it was “morally bankrupt”.

“The Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the government itself admits that UK-made arms have played a central role in the bombing,” said CAAT, adding with wry irony: “The government claims that these are isolated incidents, but how many hundreds of isolated incidents would it take for the government to stop supplying the weaponry?”

What’s more, it turns out that the British posturing on human rights and sanctions was only meant for public appearance, not be taken seriously. That’s according to the British government itself.

The Independent newspaper reports that British defense minister Ben Wallace immediately phoned his counterpart in Riyadh to “apologize” for the latest imposition of sanctions. “The UK government privately showered Saudi Arabia’s government with praise,” it is reported.

The “discreet” phone call, which emphasized the importance of British arms sales to the oil-rich kingdom, was not publicly disclosed by London. Instead it was revealed by the Saudi state media which boasted about the lavish praise from the British government.

Between 2015 and 2019, it is estimated that Britain sold over £5.3 billion ($6.7 bn) worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, much of that boosted by the war in Yemen.

The war has led to the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis with millions of Yemenis facing starvation and death from disease. Images of skeletal children dying from cholera and other preventable diseases should make anyone with a heart tremble with indignation.

The UK’s arms trade is fueling that catastrophe. Evidently, British avarice for profits is too great to put a check on its lucrative weapons dealing regardless of the death and destruction it generates.

But that best of British baseness is only matched by its government’s rank hypocrisy in posing as a defender of human rights and wielding sanctions against other nations.

The sanctions it imposed on Russia were, according to London, related the death in a Moscow prison of tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky in 2009. Russia claims Magnitsky died from an existing medical condition while in detention on massive corruption charges. Washington has used the case as a political stick to beat Moscow with. London is doing Washington’s bidding with its latest sanctions. It also fits the lurid narrative of Russia allegedly running assassination plots in Western states against dissidents and former spies. Thereby stoking a Cold War-style stand-off between the West and Russia.

Britain has been doing similar kowtowing to Washington with its belated ban on China’s Huawei telecoms firm being involved in modernizing mobile phone and internet networks.

Moscow has dismissed the latest British sanctions as “pointless” and said it would reciprocate with its own punitive diplomatic measures against London. That’s something which the British government may come to rue as it seeks to drum up wider international business in the post-Brexit world. The price for serving as Washington’s Jeeves-the-butler flunkey could be high indeed.

How absurd and surreal for London to lecture others about violations when it is complicit in genocide in Yemen. We could also cite Iraq and Afghanistan among many other foreign aggressions. That feat of preposterousness is a reflection of the insidious efficacy of British state propaganda and “education”. Polls show Britons are more likely (compared with other former colonial powers) to think that the British Empire was a good thing, despite the tens of millions who were killed under British subjugation.

One can only hope for the day when the world will actually implement human rights justice and the government in London will be sanctioned to the hilt for the pariah that it truly is.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , | 4 Comments

Report finds UK enabled ‘unlawful’ Saudi-led naval blockade of Yemen, as London resumes arms sales to Riyadh

RT | July 8, 2020

The United Kingdom has been providing naval training to members of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, skills which may have been used to impose a widely condemned embargo on the war-torn country, according to a new report.

The Royal Navy is instructing naval personnel from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Declassified UK has uncovered, even as the Gulf states continue to impose a devastating sea blockade on Yemen, resulting in millions of civilians living on the brink of starvation.

In September 2015, a UAE naval officer attended a four-week training course in southern England – just months after the Saudi-led coalition began its embargo on Yemen and bombed the port of Hodeidah, destroying warehouses, cranes and other infrastructure used to unload and store badly needed humanitarian supplies. The British program included instruction in ‘counter-smuggling’ and ‘board and search’.

Six months later, according to Declassified UK, Royal Navy officers spent a week in Saudi Arabia drilling 15 sailors on how to “board and search” vessels in “international waters or territorial seas.” The Saudi personnel were taught “high-risk search techniques” as well as detention procedures. Between September 2016 and March 2017, the UK also provided Saudi and UAE forces with instruction on protecting an Exclusive Economic Zone – the area off the coast of a country containing its exclusive fishing and other resource-gathering rights. The course was followed by training exercises with the Saudi Navy.

The relationship between the Royal Navy and the Saudi-led coalition continued even as the situation in Yemen rapidly deteriorated, the investigative report revealed. In 2019, the UAE navy received instruction on how to “board and search” vessels. The same year, nine Saudis, as well as personnel from Bahrain and the UAE, attended the Royal Navy’s officer academy at Dartmouth. Meanwhile, a number of commandos from the UAE were given instruction in amphibious operations during a 60-week Royal Marines course.

The training reportedly continues to the present day. According to the UK military watchdog, the Royal Navy has five sailors, including a lieutenant commander, on loan to the Saudi Navy. Three of the individuals are listed as instructors, suggesting that they could possibly be providing regular training to Saudi personnel. Some instruction coming from the UK has been provided by the private sector; BAE Systems, Britain’s largest arms firm, has a contract to train the Saudi navy.

The Saudi-led blockade, part of the coalition’s campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, has been denounced by the international community as illegal. The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, warned that the embargo was “paralyzing a nation” and amounted to an “unlawful unilateral coercive measure under international law.” Millions of Yemenis now face starvation due in part to the sea blockade.

The humanitarian catastrophe has not deterred London from increasing its involvement in the conflict. On Tuesday, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss confirmed that the UK will resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The UK temporarily halted weapons deliveries to Riyadh after a court ruling in June 2019 found that the practice was unlawful. The British government now claims that, although there is cause for concern, “possible” war crimes carried out by the Saudi-led forces are only “isolated incidents.”

July 8, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s ambitions in south Yemen increase risk of conflict with Houthis

By Omar Ahmed | MEMO | June 29, 2020

Israel’s involvement in the Yemen war throughout its five year duration is an open secret. In 2015, when the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the capital Sanaa was seized by the Houthi forces in retaliation for the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression, a large cache of Israeli-made weapons and ammunition was discovered, in addition to documents detailing intentions by the US to establish a military base on Perim Island near the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, “to protect [America’s] interests and ensure the security of Israel”. The island has been under the coalition’s control since it was wrested from the Houthis in the same year. Foreign mercenaries fighting on behalf of coalition-partner the UAE were also said to have been trained by the Israeli military at camps in the Negev Desert.

Amid the ever-growing normalisation of relations between Israel and Gulf states, it should come as no surprise that it was reported last week that Israel and the Emirati-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) are “secret friends” with meetings facilitated by the UAE.

The STC’s vice-chairman, Hani Bin Briek, confirmed that relations with Israel are “very good” while Tel Aviv reacted positively to the prospects of a “new autonomous state in Yemen”. The fragmentation of Arab states is, of course, consistent with Zionist strategies in the region; support for separatism in the south of Yemen echoes Israel’s decades-old policy of backing Kurdish statehood.

Covert Israeli interventions in Yemen are not without precedent. During the 1962-1970 civil war Israel airlifted arms and money in support of the royalist Mutawakkilite dynasty — ironically the predecessors of the Houthis — against the Nasserite republicans. The Saudis also supported the Zaydi monarchs who ultimately lost out in the war.

Securing Israel’s southern port of Eilat and a shipping lane which grants access not only to the Suez Canal but also the Red Sea and through Bab Al-Mandab to the Indian Ocean and beyond is of vital interest to Tel Aviv, especially as a gateway to the Far East and China, which is a major trading partner. The wars with Arab neighbours in 1956, 1967 and 1973 all involved blocking Israeli shipping. In the latter, Yemen closed off the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and blockaded the Red Sea. Ever since, Israel has viewed any attempt to block access to the Red Sea as an act of war and has threatened to deploy all branches of its military in the event of Iran doing so.

As with every other party involved in the current conflict in Yemen, access to all seaways leading to the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean play a significant part in the underlying agendas. It is certainly one of the charges levied against the UAE over its involvement in the recent STC “coup” of Socotra Island.

However, the revelation of Israeli support for the STC is a worrying development for the prospects of maintaining a unified Yemen, however elusive that appears to be. Any attempts by Tel Aviv to back the emergence of a break-away “independent” state in the region should be treated with suspicion. The STC has made it clear that it intends to expand further beyond its current control of Aden and parts of the Dale and Lahj provinces. Clashes continue in the Abyan province with the Saudi-backed militia and there have been calls for solidarity with the STC in Hadhramout.

The Houthi-aligned government in Sanaa is committed to the territorial integrity of Yemen and is well-aware of Israel’s destructive ambitions. “The Israeli enemy sees Yemen as a threat to it, explained Information Minister Dhaifalla Al-Shami, “especially in its strategic location, so it has worked to find a foothold in Yemen through the UAE’s role.”

Earlier this month, the leader of the Houthi movement, Sayyid Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, criticised Saudi Arabia and the UAE for siding with “the chief enemy of the Muslim world,” Israel.

“The US and Israel seek to enslave Yemeni people,” Al-Houthi said in a televised speech. “Their plots target the entire Muslim community, and are meant to ‎disintegrate Islamic nations from within through sowing the seeds of discord and division.” He has stated previously that the Houthis are ready to support the resistance factions in Lebanon and Palestine against Israel.

Moreover, the Houthis, who are supported by most of the Yemeni armed forces, have threatened Israel once before with “revenge” over its known involvement in the Yemen war of aggression. The Defence Minister in the National Salvation Government (NSG), General Mohammed Al-Atefi, said late last year that a “bank of military and maritime targets” have already been identified and that they will not hesitate to attack them when the leadership decides to do so.

These are security challenges that Israel takes seriously, especially with the long-range ballistic missiles and armed drones in the Yemeni army’s arsenal, which cross-border offensives against Saudi have shown to be very accurate. Israel has also expressed a willingness to attack Houthi targets near Bab Al-Mandab.

The Houthis also have a consistent stance on supporting the Palestinian cause. Al-Houthi even went as far as to offer to exchange captured Saudi pilots for the release of prominent Hamas members imprisoned in the Kingdom.

Direct military confrontation between Israel and the Houthis is unlikely and unrealistic for the time being, although both sides have voiced a willingness to take action if necessary. However, Israel is playing a dangerous game; should it become more embedded in the war in Yemen it runs the risk of conflict with the Houthis. Just as Israel has securitised its access to the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, it should not be surprised if the Houthi authorities decide to react to Israeli attempts to sow further discord and break up the already fragile Yemeni state. The chief-backer of the STC, the UAE, has also been threatened by the Houthis. “Abu Dhabi can be attacked at any time,” claimed a pro-Houthi military spokesperson.

At the moment, the main focus of the Houthis is to take control of Marib city from the Saudi-backed militia fighting on behalf of the internationally-recognised government-in-exile, which is increasingly proving to be an irrelevant mouthpiece of Riyadh. The NSG, which controls most of Yemen in terms of population density, will turn its attention to the south once Marib has been secured. When the inevitable clash with the STC comes, we will see the indirect confrontation with Israel come out into the open.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US and its allies are leading an arms race in Middle East, not Iran: Scholar

US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook has said that lifting a UN arms embargo on Iran will trigger an arms race in the Middle East region.
Press TV – June 29, 2020

The United States and its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are leading an arms race in the Middle East region, not Iran, an American scholar has said.

Kevin Barrett, an author, journalist and radio host with a Ph.D. in Islamic and Arabic Studies, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday, after US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said that lifting the arms embargo on Iran will trigger an arms race in the Middle East.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh on Monday, Hook said lifting the ban would “only embolden” Iran and destabilize the region.

“This is not an outcome that the UN Security Council can accept. The council’s mandate is clear: to maintain international peace and security,” Hook added.

Barrett said that “Brian Hook is the US Special Representative to the United Nations and he’s trying to extend the UN weapons embargo on Iran, and he’s claimed to be doing so under provisions of the JCPOA, which the US has withdrawn from.”

“So, this is quite mind-boggling. Why he thinks the US has the right to invoke the JCPOA after it exited the JCPOA is a mystery. Likewise, it’s a mystery why he thinks that the lack of an arms embargo on Iran would lead to an arms race in the Middle East region,” he stated.

“Clearly, the regimes that are arming themselves and initiating an arms race in the region are the US allies, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and Iran is far from leading an arms race in the region. If we look at population, and so on, Iran is actually relatively under-armed, although it seems to be doing okay despite the fact that it’s essentially been embargoed and so it has to do everything itself, make its own rockets, and it’s managed to put satellites into space despite all of these sanctions, and opposition from other countries including sabotage,” he said.

“We just saw an explosion in Iran maybe some form of sabotage; certainly, we know that Iran’s enemies have been supporting terrorism in Iran, and elsewhere in the region. They’ve killed nearly 20,000 innocent civilians in Iran, through support for some of the world’s worst terrorist groups,” he noted.

“So, this is of course absurd, but it just goes to show that the US Empire is still in its arrogant phase. It has not yet been fully humbled although its reputation in the world has certainly taken a hit after the coronavirus pandemic, which many suspect is a US biological attack, or perhaps a biological attack by the Western international bankers who largely own the US and dictate policy in the US, that the US has had such a terrible response to it,” the analyst said.

“The US now has the worst coronavirus caseload in the world per capita, and it’s still growing here. And yet the US pretends that it’s going to be running around the world dictating policy and telling people what they can do in each region. And of course, if Brian hook really wants to end the arms race in the Middle East, the first thing he should do is stop selling the weapons that Saudi Arabia is using to commit genocide in Yemen and stop handing the Israelis billions of American taxpayer dollars to commit genocide in occupied Palestine,” he said.

“If the US did those two things there would be a much more peaceful Middle East or Muslim east as a result, but don’t hold your breath because decadent empires often become rabid before they die. And that seems to be what’s happening here in Washington,” he concluded.

Washington has stepped up calls for the extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran, which will expire in October under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Trump administration has threatened that it may seek to trigger a snapback of all sanctions on Iran if its attempts to extend the arms embargo fail.

Tehran, however, has firmly rejected Washington’s plans as the US is no longer a party to the nuclear deal ever since it withdrew from the multilateral agreement in 2018.

China and Russia, which are both signatories to the JCPOA, echoed Tehran’s position in their recent statements.

“US failed to meet its obligations under Resolution 2231 by withdrawing from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” China’s UN mission said.

Also noting that Washington is in gross violation of Resolution 2231, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stressed that “no one is allowed to implement UNSC Security Council resolutions selectively and extremely fragmentarily”.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

UN Warns Many Will “Starve to Death” in Yemen as Saudi Fuel Blockade Hinders COVID-19 Battle

By Ahmed AbdulKareem | MintPress News | June 26, 2020

SANA’A, YEMEN —  The streets of Sana’a have retained much of their character throughout the past six years of war. This, despite the ever-present threat of Saudi bombardment and the myriad viruses methodically working their way through the population, most recently COVID-19. The afternoon rush hour still brings out the buses, taxis and private vehicles that choke Haddah Street in northern Sana’a. Horns blare at junctions as drivers switch lanes, looking for any advantage they can find in a ritual that, until recently, brought a sense of welcome normalcy to a country faced with constant uncertainty. But six years of war have finally caught up with one of the last semblances of routine in Yemen.

In move undertaken by Saudi Arabia that is sure to exacerbate the country’s already-dire situation, the oil-rich U.S. ally is preventing oil tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to Yemen’s hospitals, water pumps, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging it, particularly its northern districts, into an acute fuel crisis.

According to a statement released by the Yemen Oil Company, at least 15 tankers carrying over 419,789 tons of fuel have been trapped at sea for over a month despite being checked and issued permits by both the Saudi-led Coalition and the United Nations. Now, the situation in the war-torn country is no longer tolerable.

The CEO of Yemen Oil said in a press conference held in the front of the United Nation office in Sana’a on Wednesday that the company’s remaining reserves won’t last for more than a few days. A statement issued by the company’s branch in Hodeida confirmed that its reserve stock had reached a critical stage and is no longer sufficient to supply the most important sectors in the country.

“One of the biggest threats in the past 100 years”

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has triggered a fuel crisis in Yemen, however, this blockade is significantly larger than previous ones and comes at a time when Yemen is battling COVID-19, which is spreading rapidly across the country. “It is the worse than what we expected to happen,” taxi driver Mohammed Abdullah Masoud said from beneath his mask, bags under his tired eyes. He had been waiting in line for two days for petrol. His older brother died last week from COVID-19 and he is now responsible for providing his brother’s wife and children with food and medicine as they stay quarantined at home. “My brother’s family needs bread and some vegetables. Nobody except me can provide them with essential necessities to stay alive. If I don’t have the fuel by the end of the day, something bad could happen to them.” he told MintPress.

The Saudi fuel blockade has not only forced thousands of Yemenis already struggling against an unprecedented explosion of famine, disease, and epidemics to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see, it has also left water pumps, hospital generators, and transport vehicles without fuel and that lack of fuel has accelerated the spread of the COVID-19 as empty generators shut down facilities including an oxygen factory, hospital, nurseries, and a kidney failure center, all which need uninterrupted and stable electricity 24 hours a day.

Cholera, dengue fever, and malaria rates have also spiked, particularly in Hodeida, Sadaa, and Hajjah where summer temperatures can reach 129 degrees and the lack of fuel has left residents unable to escape the heat as the generators used to power air conditioners sit idle.

The price of food and medicine is also skyrocketing and the already negligible crops in Yemen are at risk of dehydration as farmers are unable to power the wells and pumps needed o to irrigate their fields. At least 80 percent of Yemen’s 28 million-strong population is reliant on food aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the decimation of the remaining agricultural sector is likely to increase that figure.

On Wednesday, Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a closed UN Security Council meeting that many more people are likely to starve to death, succumb to COVID-19 and die of cholera, adding that the coronavirus was spreading rapidly across Yemen and about 25 percent of the country’s confirmed cases have died – “five times the global average.”

He added, “We have never before seen in Yemen a situation where such a severe acute domestic economic crisis overlaps with a sharp drop in remittances and major cuts to donor support for humanitarian aid – and this of course is all happening in the middle of a devastating pandemic.” For her part, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande described COVID-19 in Yemen as “one of the biggest threats in the past 100 years.”

The Saudi blockade comes amid sustained Saudi-coalition bombing runs. Warplanes have been hovering over Sana’a and other provinces and have targeted several areas in Bydha, al-Jawf, Marib, and Sana’a, killing and injuring dozens of people. On Thursday, at least five people were killed and dozens were injured when Saudi warplanes destroyed four cars traveling on public roads in Radman and Qaneih.

The only effective option

Despite the challenges, Yemenis have strong morale and a seemingly unbreakable will to continue to withstand the Saudi ambitions for their country. “We die silently but with glory. We will never give in to Saudi Arabia,” 37-years-old Hamid told MintPress as he stood in a fuel line at a gas station in Sana’a. It has become a weekly ritual for Hamid, who queues in line for hours to get 30 liters of fuel every seven days. Hamid and the others waiting in line were gleefully checking their social media feeds and celebrating news reports that explosions were taking place in the Saudi capital following attacks bu the Houthi-led Yemeni Army.

In retaliation for the fuel embargo and the continued airstrikes on their country, the Houthi-led Yemeni army carried out large-scale attacks on a number of strategic sites in Saudi Arabia using a barrage of ballistic and winged missiles and drones which targeted the headquarters of the Saudi Defense Ministry and the General Intelligence Agency as well as King Salman Air Base, among other military targets in the capital Riyadh and the southern regions of Najran and Jizan. For many, retaliation against the Kingdom represents the only effective option to quell the Saudi attacks and blockade on their country.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, the spokesman and chief negotiator for Ansar Allah, the political wing of the Houthis, emphasized that the operation was aimed at restoring stability to the country and securing an end to the Saudi-led blockade. He said that Yemenis have no option but to confront and resist Saudi Arabia and urged international bodies to pressure the Saudi regime into ending the offensive.

The Saudi-led coalition has acknowledged the attacks but claims that the missiles and drones were intercepted and destroyed but provided no evidence to back that claim. Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki called the strike a “deliberate and systematic operation to target civilians and civilian objects,” adding later that the coalition had “ intercepted” eight bomb-laden drones and three ballistic missiles. A high-ranking Houthi official told MintPress that the raids did indeed hit their intended targets, adding the army used a new weapon in the attack that will be soon be revealed.

The United States and other countries, including France and Britain, condemned the attack on their Saudi ally. They have thus far remained silent on the recent Saudi attacks and fuel blockade on Yemen which preceded the attacks on Saudi Arabia. Yemenis have accused Western countries of abandoning their much-touted commitment to human rights ​​in exchange for Saudi arms deals. “We are killed by weapons belong[ing] to these countries, and get nothing from them except dirty statements that offend their [own] people,” a Yemeni tribal leader who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, told MintPress in response to the U.S. condemnation.

For their part, Ansar Allah censured statements condemning their retaliatory attacks. Abdulsalam said that “condemnations of our operations are no longer effective. They come within the framework of political courtesies and are in part funded by Saudi Arabia.” He insisted that Western countries should instead pressure the kingdom to stop the war. “The American administration practices the most heinous looting of Saudi money,” he added, “The statement of the American mission in Saudi Arabia following our operation is a kind of blackmail, nothing else.”

The Yemeni attacks are the tip of the iceberg as multiple high-ranking officials in the Houthi-backed Yemeni Army revealed to MintPress that they are preparing more attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia, including on oil facilities, royal palaces, military bases, airports, Saudi oil carriers, and other “sensitive targets” that they declined to mention. The consequences for Saudi Arabia will be dire until the blockade is lifted and the offensive comes to an end, they promise. “We should not let Saudi Arabia starve us and carry on enjoying stability and wealth.”

The Saud-led Coalition is heavily backed by Western countries, especially the United States, Britain, and Frace, which have used systematic economic strangulation as a weapon of war — targeting jobs, infrastructure, the agricultural sector, fuel and water pumping stations, factories, and the provision of basic services, as well as imposing a land, sea, and air embargo.

Meanwhile, as a direct result of the oil blockade, many Yemeni officials say that they are already seeking assistance from Iran, hoping that the Iranian government will come to their aid as they did in Venezuela, where six Iranian vessels carried fuel, food, and medicine to Caracas in defiance of U.S. sanctions. They asked Ansar Allah to work with Iran to circumvent the blockade and supply the vital facilities in the country with fuel. If such a move is carried out, Tehran will no doubt win the hearts and minds of Yemenis wary of any foreign intervention, all thanks to the Saudi-led coalition and the United States which in large part are carrying out the war with hopes to limit “Iranian influence” in Yemen.

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

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Despite court ban, UK continues arms sales to Saudi Arabia: Report

Smoke billows following an airstrike by Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, June 16, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
Press TV – June 21, 2020

The British government has apparently turned a blind eye to a landmark court ruling that restricts the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia for use against Yemen.

According to a report published by the British daily Guardian on Sunday, the court of appeals declared last year that British arms sales to the kingdom were “unlawful,” and accused ministers of ignoring whether airstrikes that killed civilians in Yemen broke humanitarian law.

At the time, the court barred the UK government from approving any new license to Saudi Arabia and ordered then Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox to hold an immediate review of at least 4.7 billion pounds’ worth of arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

British international trade authorities said at the time that the process would take “up to several months.”

Nevertheless, arms exports continue without properly assessing the risk to civilians, a year after the verdict, and fighter jet components as well as aircraft maintenance services are being offered to the Riyadh regime.

British multinational defense, security, and aerospace company BAE Systems, which is recognized as the UK’s largest arms exporter to Saudi Arabia, confirmed in its 2019 report that it continues to provide the kingdom with support services for twin-engine and multirole Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes under a contract struck in 2018.

Lately, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Emily Anne Thornberry, together with members of other opposition parties, wrote a letter to Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss in protest at the arms licenses that continue to operate.

“We are left to assume that – despite being ordered to review these licenses by the courts, and having 12 months to do so – your department has simply chosen not to comply,” they argued.

They warn that the British government’s expected failure to comply “creates the illogical situation where a UK company that applies for a license today will have that application rejected, but another company that was granted its license prior to 20 June last year may export exactly the same arms without restriction.”

Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, said, “The UK government has consistently put arms company interests ahead of the rights and lives of people in Yemen. The government has proven that it cannot be trusted to implement its own rules.”

The United Kingdom has reportedly licensed the sale of arms worth over 5.3 billion pounds to Saudi Arabia ever since Riyadh and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Russia: UN chief report blaming Iran for attacks on Saudi oil facilities not based on convincing evidence

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
Press TV | June 17, 2020

The Russian Foreign Ministry says the UN chief’s report on Iran’s involvement in the last year attacks on Saudi oil facilities is biased and not substantiated by facts.

“What we surely won’t argue with is, unfortunately, that the report can hardly be called balanced and calibrated,” the ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

She added Russia will present a “detailed analysis” of the UN report during the relevant discussion at the Security Council later on June 30.

“We can also speak about a lack of impartiality and the absence of strong facts to support the accusations leveled at Iran,” she noted, stressing “Nobody has ever presented any convincing evidence of Iran’s violations to the Security Council members.”

The Russian official said that the report was not valid, arguing the “self-appointed inspectors” had claimed based on their “personal observations” that what they saw was “roughly reminiscent of what Iran had once demonstrated at arms exhibitions.”

Last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the Security Council that cruise missiles used in attacks on oil facilities and an airport in Saudi Arabia last year were of “Iranian origin.”

He also said the “items may have been transferred in a manner inconsistent” with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the international nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – signed between Iran and major world powers in 2015. The allegations were roundly rejected by Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

The ministry said in a statement that the claims appear to have been made under political pressure from the US and Saudi regimes.

“Preparing reports with political motivation will not change the facts and it is clear to all that the current circumstances in the region have directly resulted from the wrong policies of the United States and the child-killing Saudi regime,” the statement said.

The ministry highly recommended that the UN Secretariat not play into the hands of the US in its “pre-planned scenario to annul the cancellation of Iran’s arms embargo.” It also warned the UN against contributing to such a dangerous trend by preparing illegal reports.

Separately, Iran’s UN Mission also responded to the report on Friday, saying, “Iran categorically rejects the observations contained in the report concerning the Iranian connection to the export of weapons or their components that are used in attacks on Saudi Arabia and the Iranian origin of alleged US seizures of armaments.”

US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the JCPOA in 2018 and reinstated Washington’s unilateral sanctions against Tehran. His administration has also been piling up pressure on the United Nations to extend and strengthen the embargo on Iran, which is set to expire in October under the nuclear deal.

Washington seeks to restore all Security Council sanctions lifted against Iran if the 15-member body fails to preserve the UN ban on selling conventional arms to Iran.

June 17, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment