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Israel participation in Expo 2020 Dubai amounts to normalization: Hamas

Press TV – January 20, 2020

Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas has censured Israel’s presence in the Expo 2020, which is to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates’ city of Dubai, as a form of normalization between the Persian Gulf state and the Tel Aviv regime.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, in a written statement released on Monday, slammed attempts by a number of Arab countries, particularly Persian Gulf littoral states, to bring out in the open their clandestine relations with the Israeli regime, calling on them to put an end to such efforts.

“Such a behavior encourages the Occupation to increase the level of its crimes against Palestinian people, and to step up its violations against the sanctities of our nation,” the statement added.

“The Zionist regime must remain the principal enemy of the [Palestinian] nation. The campaign against the regime and its policies, which aim to dent all opportunities for the nation’s awakening and development, must continue,” Qassem pointed out.

Israeli authorities are hoping to reach out to Arab peoples through participation in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

“To us, the added value is in the Arab and Muslim visitor,” Elazar Cohen, the Israeli foreign ministry’s point man for the expo, which is organized by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), said on December 15 last year.

An auditorium below the pavilion will offer visitors an interactive multimedia experience, the ministry’s director general Yuval Rotem told AFP at the time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the Israeli expo pavilion as part of “the continued progress of normalization with the Arab states,” alleging that building relations with Arab countries will push the Palestinians toward a ‘peace deal’ with the Israeli regime.

Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on November 6 that the UAE is expected to allow tourists holding Israeli passports to take part in the expo.

“Israeli and the UAE’s authorities have been in talks for a while in order to allow those with Israeli passports to attend the expo in Dubai,” an unnamed source within the expo’s management team told the daily at the time, adding, “These talks are happening because both sides want to see the expo turn into the biggest exhibition in the world.”

Another source said the event in Dubai could be a great pilot run during which Israeli tourists would be allowed into the country, and it can be a signal that the UAE “might leave its doors open to Israeli tourists permanently.”

Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, told a ministerial meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 6 last year that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with a number of Arab Persian Gulf littoral states.

Arab countries — except for Jordan and Egypt — have no formal relations with the Israeli regime.

Israel’s trade with Persian Gulf states is estimated to stand at about $1 billion annually, according to a study published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in August 2018.

Jamal al-Suwaidi, founder of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, told the British newspaper The Guardian in an interview in March that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of the agenda among the Arab Persian Gulf states.

“The Palestinian cause is no longer at the forefront of Arabs’ interests, as it used to be for long decades,” he said. “It has sharply lost priority in light of the challenges, threats and problems that face countries of the region.”

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How an Israeli Spy-Linked Tech Firm Gained Access to the US Gov’t’s Most Classified Networks

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera
By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | January 14, 2020

If the networks of the U.S. military, the U.S. intelligence community and a slew of other U.S. federal agencies were running the software of a company with deep ties, not only to foreign companies with a history of espionage against the U.S. but also foreign military intelligence, it would — at the very least — garner substantial media attention. Yet, no media reports to date have noted that such a scenario exists on a massive scale and that the company making such software recently simulated the cancellation of the 2020 election and the declaration of martial law in the United States.

Earlier this month, MintPress News reported on the simulations for the U.S. 2020 election organized by the company Cybereason, a firm led by former members of Israel’s military intelligence Unit 8200 and advised by former top and current officials in both Israeli military intelligence and the CIA. Those simulations, attended by federal officials from the FBI, DHS and the U.S. Secret Service, ended in disaster, with the elections ultimately canceled and martial law declared due to the chaos created by a group of hackers led by Cybereason employees.

The first installment of this three part series delved deeply into Cybereason’s ties to the intelligence community of Israel and also other agencies, including the CIA, as well as the fact that Cybereason stood to gain little financially from the simulations given that their software could not have prevented the attacks waged against the U.S.’ electoral infrastructure in the exercise.

Also noted was the fact that Cybereason software could be potentially used as a backdoor by unauthorized actors, a possibility strengthened by the fact that the company’s co-founders all previously worked for firms that have a history of placing backdoors into U.S. telecommunications and electronic infrastructure as well as aggressive espionage targeting U.S. federal agencies.

The latter issue is crucial in the context of this installment of this exclusive MintPress series, as Cybereason’s main investors turned partners have integrated Cybereason’s software into their product offerings. This means that the clients of these Cybereason partner companies, the U.S. intelligence community and military among them, are now part of Cybereason’s network of more than 6 million endpoints that this private company constantly monitors using a combination of staff comprised largely of former intelligence operatives and an AI algorithm first developed by Israeli military intelligence.

Cybereason, thus far, has disclosed the following groups as lead investors in the company: Charles River Ventures (CRV), Spark Capital, Lockheed Martin and SoftBank. Charles River Ventures (CRV) was among the first to invest in Cybereason and has been frequently investing in other Israeli tech start-ups that were founded by former members of the elite Israeli military intelligence Unit 8200 over the last few years. Spark Capital, based in California, appears to have followed CRV’s interest in Cybereason since the venture capitalist who co-founded Spark and led its investment in Cybereason is a former CRV partner who still has close ties to the firm.

While CRV and Spark Capital seem like just the type of investors a company like Cybereason would attract given their clear interest in similar tech start-ups coming out of Israel’s cyber sector, Cybereason’s other lead investors — Lockheed Martin and SoftBank — deserve much more attention and scrutiny.

Cybereason widely used by US Government, thanks to Lockheed

“A match made in heaven,” trumpeted Forbes at the news of the Lockheed Martin-Cybereason partnership, first forged in 2015. The partnership involved not only Lockheed Martin becoming a major investor in the cybersecurity company but also in Lockheed Martin becoming the largest conduit providing Cybereason’s software to U.S. federal and military agencies.

Indeed, as Forbes noted at the time, not only did Lockheed invest in the company, it decided to integrate Cybereason’s software completely into its product portfolio, resulting in a “model of both using Cybereason internally, and selling it to both public and private customers.”

Cybereason CEO and former offensive hacker for Israeli military intelligence — Lior Div — said the following of the partnership:

Lockheed Martin invested in Cybereason’s protection system after they compared our solution against a dozen others from the top industry players. The US firm was so impressed with the results they got from Cybereason that they began offering it to their own customers – among them most of the top Fortune 100 companies, and the US federal government. Cybereason is now the security system recommended by LM to its customers for protection from a wide (sic) malware and hack attacks.”

Rich Mahler, then-director of Commercial Cyber Services at Lockheed Martin, told Defense Daily that the company’s decision to invest in Cybereason, internally use its software, and include the technology as part of Lockheed Martin’s cyber solutions portfolio were all “independent business decisions but were all coordinated and timed with the transaction.”

How independent each of those decisions actually was is unclear, especially given the timing of Lockheed Martin’s investment in Cybereason, whose close and troubling ties to Israeli intelligence as well as the CIA were noted in the previous installment of this investigative series. Indeed, about a year prior to their investment in the Israeli military intelligence-linked Cybereason, Lockheed Martin opened an office in Beersheba, Israel, where the IDF has its “cyberhub”. The office is focused not on the sales of armaments, but instead on technology.

Marilyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin’s CEO, said the following during her speech that inaugurated the company’s Beersheba office:

The consolidation of IDF Technical Units to new bases in the Negev Desert region is an important transformation of Israel’s information technology capability… We understand the challenges of this move. Which is why we are investing in the facilities and people that will ensure we are prepared to support for these critical projects. By locating our new office in the capital of the Negev we are well positioned to work closely with our Israeli partners and stand ready to: accelerate project execution, reduce program risk and share our technical expertise by training and developing in-country talent.”

Beersheba not only houses the IDF’s technology campus, but also the Israel National Cyber Directorate, which reports directly to Israel’s Prime Minister, as well as a high-tech corporate park that mostly houses tech companies with ties to Israel’s military intelligence apparatus. The area has been cited in several media reports as a visible indicator of the public-private merger between Israeli technology companies, many of them started by Unit 8200 alumni, and the Israeli government and its intelligence services. Lockheed Martin quickly became a key fixture in the Beersheba-based cyberhub.

Not long before Lockheed began exploring the possibility of opening an office in Beersheba, the company was hacked by individuals who used tokens tied to the company, RSA Security, whose founders have ties to Israel’s defense establishment and which is now owned by Dell, a company also deeply tied to the Israeli government and tech sector. The hack, perpetrated by still unknown actors, may have sparked Lockheed’s subsequent interest in Israel’s cybersecurity sector.

Soon after opening its Beersheba office, Lockheed Martin created its Israel subsidiary, Lockheed Martin Israel. Unlike many of the company’s other subsidiaries, this one is focused exclusively on “cybersecurity, enterprise information technology, data centers, mobile, analytics and cloud” as opposed to the manufacture and design of armaments.

Marillyn Hewson, center, poses with Israeli gov. officials at the opening of Lockheed Martin’s facility in Beersheba. Photo | Diego Mittleberg

Haden Land, then-vice president of research and technology for Lockheed Martin, told the Wall Street Journal that the creation of the subsidiary was largely aimed at securing contracts with the IDF and that the company’s Israel subsidiary would soon be seeking partnership and investments in pursuit of that end. Land oversaw the local roll-out of the company’s Israel subsidiary while concurrently meeting with Israeli government officials. According to the Journal, Land “oversees all of Lockheed Martin’s information-systems businesses, including defense and civilian commercial units” for the United States and elsewhere.

Just a few months later, Lockheed Martin partnered and invested in Cybereason, suggesting that Lockheed’s decision to do so was aimed at securing closer ties with the IDF. This further suggests that Cybereason still maintains close ties to Israeli military intelligence, a point expounded upon in great detail in the previous installment of this series.

Thus, it appears that not only does Lockheed Martin use Cybereason’s software on its own devices and on those it manages for its private and public sector clients, but it also decided to use the company’s software in this way out of a desire to more closely collaborate with the Israeli military in matters related to technology and cybersecurity.

The cozy ties between Lockheed Martin, one of the U.S. government’s largest private contractors, and the IDF set off alarm bells, then and now, for those concerned with U.S. national security. Such concern makes it important to look at the extent of Cybereason’s use by federal and military agencies in the United States through their contracting of Lockheed Martin’s Information Technology (IT) division. This is especially important considering Israeli military intelligence’s history of using espionage, blackmail and private tech companies against the U.S. government, as detailed here.

While the exact number of U.S. federal and military agencies using Cybereason’s software is unknown, it is widespread, with Lockheed Martin’s IT division as the conduit. Indeed, Lockheed Martin was the number one IT solutions provider to the U.S. federal government up until its IT division was spun off and merged with Leidos Holdings. As a consequence, Leidos is now the largest IT provider to the U.S. government and is also directly partnered with Cybereason in the same way Lockheed Martin was. Even after its IT division was spun off, Lockheed Martin continues to use Cybereason’s software in its cybersecurity work for the Pentagon and still maintains a stake in the company.

The Leidos-Lockheed Martin IT hybrid provides a litany of services to the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence. As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock noted for The Nation, the company does “everything from analyzing signals for the NSA to tracking down suspected enemy fighters for US Special Forces in the Middle East and Africa” and, following its merger with Lockheed and consequential partnership with Cybereason, became “the largest of five corporations that together employ nearly 80 percent of the private-sector employees contracted to work for US spy and surveillance agencies.” Shorrock also notes that these private-sector contractors now dominate the mammoth U.S. surveillance apparatus, many of them working for Leidos and — by extension — using Cybereason’s software.

Leidos’ exclusive use of Cybereason software for cybersecurity is also relevant for the U.S. military since Leidos runs a number of sensitive systems for the Pentagon, including its recently inked contract to manage the entire military telecommunications infrastructure for Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). In addition to maintaining the military telecom network, Cybereason is also directly partnered with World Wide Technologies (WWT) as of this past October. WWT manages cybersecurity for the U.S. Army, maintains DISA’s firewalls and data storage as well as the U.S. Air Force’s biometric identification system. WWT also manages contracts for NASA, itself a frequent target of Israeli government espionage, and the U.S. Navy. WWT’s partnership is similar to the Lockheed/Leidos partnership in that Cybereason’s software is now completely integrated into its portfolio, giving the company full access to the devices on all of these highly classified networks.

Many of these new partnerships with Cybereason, including its partnership with WWT, followed claims made by members of Israel’s Unit 8200 in 2017 that the popular antivirus software of Kaspersky Labs contained a backdoor for Russian intelligence, thereby compromising U.S. systems. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the alleged backdoor but did not mention the involvement of Unit 8200 in identifying it, a fact revealed by the New York Times a week later.

Notably, none of the evidence Unit 8200 used to blame Kaspersky has been made public and Kaspersky noted that it was actually Israeli hackers that had been discovered planting backdoors into its platform prior to the accusation levied against Kaspersky by Unit 8200. As the New York Times noted:

Investigators later discovered that the Israeli hackers had implanted multiple back doors into Kaspersky’s systems, employing sophisticated tools to steal passwords, take screenshots, and vacuum up emails and documents.”

Unit 8200’s claims ultimately led the U.S. government to abandon Kaspersky’s products entirely in 2018, allowing companies like Cybereason (with its own close ties to Unit 8200) to fill the void. Indeed, the very agencies that banned Kaspersky now use cybersecurity software that employs Cybereason’s EDR system. No flags have been raised about Cybereason’s own collaboration with the very foreign intelligence service that first pointed the finger at Kaspersky and that previously sold software with backdoors to sensitive U.S. facilities.

SoftBank, Cybereason and the Vision Fund

While its entry into the U.S. market and U.S. government networks is substantial, Cybereason’s software is also run throughout the world on a massive scale through partnerships that have seen it enter into Latin American and European markets in major ways in just the last few months. It has also seen its software become prominent in Asia following a partnership with the company Trustwave. Much of this rapid expansion followed a major injection of cash courtesy of one of the company’s biggest clients and now its largest investor, Japan’s SoftBank.

SoftBank first invested in Cybereason in 2015, the same year Lockheed Martin initially invested and partnered with the firm. It was also the year that SoftBank announced its intention to invest in Israeli tech start-ups. SoftBank first injected $50 million into Cybereason, followed by an additional $100 million in 2017 and $200 million last August. SoftBank’s investments account for most of the money raised by the company since it was founded in 2012 ($350 million out of $400 million total).

Cybereason CEO Lior Div speaks at a SoftBank event in Japan, July 21, 2017. Photo | Cybereason

Prior to investing, Softbank was a client of Cybereason, which Ken Miyauchi, president of SoftBank, noted when making the following statement after Softbank’s initial investment in Cybereason:

SoftBank works to obtain cutting edge technology and outstanding business models to lead the Information Revolution. Our deployment of the Cybereason platform internally gave us firsthand knowledge of the value it provides, and led to our decision to invest. I’m confident Cybereason and SoftBank’s new product offering will bring a new level of security to Japanese organizations.”

SoftBank — one of Japan’s largest telecommunications companies — not only began to deploy Cybereason internally but directly partnered with it after investing, much like Lockheed Martin had done around the same time. This partnership resulted in SoftBank and Cybereason creating a joint venture in Japan and Cybereason creating partnerships with other tech companies acquired by SoftBank, including the U.K.’s Arm, which specializes in making chips and management platforms for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

SoftBank’s interest in Cybereason is significant, particularly in light of Cybereason’s interest in the 2020 U.S. election, given that SoftBank has significant ties to key allies of President Trump and even the president himself.

Indeed, SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son was among the first wave of international business leaders who sought to woo then-president-elect Trump soon after the 2016 election. Son first visited Trump Tower in December 2016 and announced, with Trump by his side in the building’s lobby, that SoftBank would invest $50 billion in the U.S. and create 50,000 jobs. Trump subsequently claimed on Twitter that Son had only decided to make this investment because Trump had won the election.

Son told reporters at the time that the investment would come from a $100 billion fund that would be created in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund as well as other investors. “I just came to celebrate his new job. I said, ‘This is great. The US will become great again,’” Son said, according to reports.

Then, in March of 2017, Son sent top SoftBank executives to meet with senior members of Trump’s economic team and, according to the New York Times, “the SoftBank executives said that because of a lack of advanced digital investments, the competitiveness of the United States economy was at risk. And the executives made the case, quite strongly, that Mr. Son was committed to playing a major role in addressing this issue through a spate of job-creating investments.” Many of SoftBank’s investments and acquisitions in the U.S. since then have focused mainly on artificial intelligence and technology with military applications, such as “killer robot” firm Boston Dynamics, suggesting Son’s interest lies more in dominating futuristic military-industrial technologies than creating jobs for the average American.

After their initial meeting, Trump and Son met again a year later in June 2018, with Trump stating that “His [Son’s] $50 billion turned out to be $72 billion so far, he’s not finished yet.” Several media reports have claimed that Son’s moves since Trump’s election have sought to “curry favor” with the President.

Through the creation of this fund alongside the Saudis, SoftBank has since become increasingly intertwined with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), a key ally of President Trump in the Middle East known for his authoritarian crackdowns on Saudi elites and dissidents alike. The ties between Saudi Arabia and SoftBank became ever tighter when MBS took the reins in the oil kingdom and after SoftBank announced the launch of the Vision Fund in 2016. SoftBank’s Vision Fund is a vehicle for investing in hi-tech companies and start-ups and its largest shareholder is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Notably, Son decided to launch the Vision Fund in Riyadh during President Trump’s first official visit to the Gulf Kingdom.

Masayoshi Son, left, signs a deal related to the Vision Fund with Bin Salman in March 2018. Photo | SPA

In addition, the Mubadala Investment Company, a government fund of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), gave $15 billion to the Vision Fund. UAE leadership also share close ties to the Trump administration and MBS in Saudi Arabia.

As a consequence, SoftBank’s Vision Fund is majority funded by two Middle Eastern authoritarian governments with close ties to the U.S. government, specifically the Trump administration. In addition, both countries have enjoyed the rapid growth and normalization of ties with the state of Israel in recent years, particularly following the rise of current Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and Jared Kushner’s rise to prominence in his father-in-law’s administration. Other investments in the Vision Fund have come from Apple, Qualcomm and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, all tech companies with strong ties to Israel’s government.

The Saudi and Emirati governments’ links to the Vision Fund are so obvious that even mainstream outlets like the New York Times have described them as a “front for Saudi Arabia and perhaps other countries in the Middle East.”

SoftBank also enjoys close ties to Jared Kushner, with Fortress Investment Group lending $57 million to Kushner Companies in October 2017 while it was under contract to be acquired by SoftBank. As Barron’s noted at the time:

When SoftBank Group bought Fortress Investment Group last year, the Japanese company was buying access to a corps of seasoned investors. What SoftBank also got is a financial tie to the family of President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.”

According to The Real Deal, Kushner Companies obtained the financing from Fortress only after its attempts to obtain funding through the EB-5 visa program for a specific real estate venture were abandoned after the U.S. Attorney and the Securities and Exchange Commission began to investigate how Kushner Companies used the EB-5 investor visa program. A key factor in the opening of that investigation was Kushner Companies’ representatives touting Jared Kushner’s position at the White House when talking to prospective investors and lenders.

SoftBank also recently came to the aid of a friend of Jared Kushner, former CEO of WeWork Adam Neumann. Neumann made shocking claims about his ties to both Kushner and Saudi Arabia’s MBS, even asserting that he had worked with both in creating Kushner’s long-awaited and controversial Middle East “peace plan” and claimed that he, Kushner and MBS would together “save the world.” Neumann previously called Kushner his “mentor.” MBS has also discussed on several occasions his close ties with Kushner and U.S. media reports have noted the frequent correspondence between the two “princelings.”

Notably, SoftBank invested in Neumann’s WeWork using money from the Saudi-dominated Vision Fund and later went on to essentially bail the company out after its IPO collapse and Neumann was pushed out. SoftBank’s founder, Masayoshi Son, had an odd yet very close relationship with Neumann, perhaps explaining why Neumann was allowed to walk with $1.7 billion after bringing WeWork to the brink of collapse. Notably, nearly half of SoftBank’s approximately $47 billion investments in the U.S. economy since Trump’s election, went to acquiring and then bailing out WeWork. It is unlikely that such a disastrous investment resulted in the level of job creation that Son had promised Trump in 2016.

Given that it is Cybereason’s top investor and shareholder by a large margin, SoftBank’s ties to the Trump administration and key allies of that administration are significant in light of Cybereason’s odd interest in 2020 U.S. election scenarios that end with the cancellation of this year’s upcoming presidential election. It goes without saying that the cancellation of the election would mean a continuation of the Trump administration until new elections would take place.

Furthermore, with Cybereason’s close and enduring ties to Israeli military intelligence now well-documented, it is worth asking if Israeli military intelligence would consider intervening in 2020 if the still-to-be-decided Democratic contender was strongly opposed to Israeli government policy, particularly Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. This is especially worth considering given revelations that sexual blackmailer and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who targeted prominent U.S. politicians, mostly Democrats, was in the employ of Israeli military intelligence.

Notably, Cybereason’s doomsday election scenarios involved the weaponization of deep fakes, self-driving cars and the hacking Internet of Things devices, with all of those technologies being pioneered and perfected — not by Russia, China or Iran — but by companies directly tied to Israeli intelligence, much like Cybereason itself. These companies, their technology and Cybereason’s own work creating the narrative that U.S. rival states seek to undermine the U.S. election in this way, will all be discussed in the conclusion of MintPress’ series on Cybereason and its outsized interest in the U.S. democratic process.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tel Aviv calls for Gulf States to unite with Israel against Iran

MEMO | January 11, 2020

Former Israeli communication minister, Ayoob Kara, has called for the Gulf States to form a security and economic “union” with Israel, to stand against Iran at all levels, Shehab News Agency reported on Friday.

Kara, who is very close to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, posted on Twitter that the goal of this “union” is to be a “strong front in the face of Iranian evil.”

The tweet came after the Iranian declaration that Iran would turn its hostile arms against Haifa and Dubai. In his tweet, Kara announces: “It is time that the States of the Arab Gulf come together with Israel in a security and economic union to stand against Iran’s threats in the Middle East.”

 

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s time for the international community to stop ‘recognising’ Hadi’s ‘government’

By Omar Ahmed | MEMO | December 14, 2019

In spite of having no substantial physical political presence in Yemen, and no formal armed forces on the ground, the media is insistent on running with the same, tired expression of “the internationally recognised legitimate government” of the fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has apparently been running the country from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, since he fled Yemen in 2015.

It has now been over a month since the signing of the Riyadh Agreement, which was hailed as ushering in peace in the south, not only among the warring factions of Hadi’s forces, which largely consists of Islamist, Islah militia and Sudanese mercenaries against the Security Belt forces, who are aligned with southern separatists, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), but it was also hoped to simmer down the tension between the patrons of these two parties, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) respectively, both partners in the anti-Houthi coalition in the north, but backing opposing sides in the south.

No longer ‘Iranian proxies’

It was also a month ago that I argued that this agreement will fall flat in its objectives, namely due to the fact that Hadi doesn’t have any concrete authority in Yemen, and the real political legitimacy lies with the National Salvation Government (NSG), which has been ruling the capital Sanaa since 2014. Its power-base was formed from of an alliance between the Ansar Allah movement, the Yemeni military and remnants of the General People’s Congress political party – however the same news outlets who are trying to convince us of the “internationally recognised” government, are the same ones peddling the misleading narrative, that the NSG are merely “Houthi rebels” or “Iranian proxies”, following Tehran’s orders.

Essentially, this agreement stalled the inevitability that the Saudis, and the wider international community, will have to accept the reality that the NSG (“Houthis”) are the legitimate government in Yemen. I am using the past-tense here because the agreement is void and no longer exists – it was signed on 5 November and included a 30-day deadline in forming a new cabinet of 24 members, equally split from the north and south. I concluded with the revelation that the Saudis had acknowledged that they had opened channels of communication with the Houthis.

In fact, a few days following the signing of the accord, the UAE minister of state for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, conceded that the Houthis will have a role in post-war Yemen. In more recent developments, Saudi foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, has suggestively indicated that the Houthis are in fact, a legitimate entity, stating “all Yemenis, including the Houthis have a role in the future of Yemen.”

It would now appear that the Trump administration has also done an ‘about-face’ on its policy on Yemen, having once framed the conflict as being an Iranian proxy war, they are now trying to downplay Iran’s involvement. Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, went from declaring in September that Iran was “controlling and deploying” the Houthis as a “terror front”, to now stating that “Iran clearly does not speak for the Houthis.” I mentioned back in September how this Iranian connection has been exaggerated and misrepresented by the media. One needs only to refer to a 2015 article which stated that Iran, for example, had in fact warned the Zaydi movement against taking over Sanaa. Indeed, the Houthis, as with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, are actually acting independently, albeit with assistance from Tehran.

Who speaks for the south?

The Riyadh Agreement was always problematic from the outset, because although on paper it was plausible, the reality on the ground, in particular in the interim capital city of Aden, was another thing entirely. There are constant reports of violent clashes between Hadi’s mercenaries and the southern separatist forces. Additionally, there has been a steady increase in assassinations across the city, with the STC hinting liability with Hadi’s associates. Hampering conciliatory efforts, the STC are also refusing to vacate the presidential palace in the city. There are also reports that the former president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen, Ali Nasser Mohammed, has warned the STC against plans to seize his home in Aden province, captured by the separatists last July.

It is important to recognise that the STC does not speak for all southerners, nor for the Southern Movement. There is the Southern National Salvation Council (SSC) based in Mahrah, who not only oppose both Saudi and Emirati interference in Yemen, but had opposed the Riyadh Agreement from its inception, noting that “the agreement gives legitimacy to regional militias affiliated abroad,” with reference to the STC.

The director of Human Rights for Yemen, Kim Sharif, explained to MEMO that the SSC is composed of the “original secessionists” and that the STC are widely regarded as a “traitor entity” by most southerners, as they are a party formed by the UAE who are using and exploiting the memory of the South Yemen state.

Illegitimacy of Hadi vs legitimacy of the NSG

Sharif agrees that the Hadi government lacks legitimacy, because following the election where he stood as the sole candidate, he was appointed as president for a transitional period of two years as part of the Gulf Initiative back in February 2012, reluctantly accepted by many, to avoid further bloodshed. Under the initiative, elections were to be held within the transitional period.

However, this failed to materialise and according to Sharif, under Hadi assassinations and terrorist attacks began to increase “funded by the Saudis,” and with a reliance on the Islah Party militia, who have close ties with General Mohsen Al-Ahmar, the vice president whose links to Al-Qaeda are well-documented. Hadi formerly resigned from the presidency in 2015, but has held onto the position ever since, giving him “zero legitimacy”.

“There’s no such thing as an ‘internationally recognised government’ under international law. This is sheer abuse of the terms of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and is a totally unacceptable trespass on the sovereignty of the state of Yemen,” Sharif continued.

Meanwhile, with regards to the legitimacy of the National Salvation Government based in Sanaa, Sharif described the 2014 takeover within the context of the failure by Hadi to carry out elections as per his mandate. Additionally, under International Customary Law, whomever takes control of the capital of any country is considered the “de facto” government. In order for this to be ratified, the government has to become “de jure”. Sharif argues that such a government must first follow an “internal legislation process”, which the Sanaa government has done by preserving national institutions, creating the Supreme Council, which includes all political parties including southern secessionists and operates within the existing constitution.

Furthermore, it is the Yemeni armed forces who are subservient to the NSG, in addition to the “Popular Committee” (Houthi fighters), who are the ones defending the nation against foreign aggression enacted by the Saudi-led coalition. These points and the fact that the NSG entered into the “Tribal Honour Agreement 2015” with all tribes, given that tribal rule still plays a vital role in Yemeni politics, ensures that the NSG based in Sanaa are the legitimate government in Yemen.

Although a southerner, Sharif herself is supportive of the NSG and AnsarAllah, as they have a common goal in liberating Yemen from the foreign aggression and occupation. The ultimate aim being “uniting all factions in the south with a view of freeing Yemen from all foreign occupation.”  She is confident that this movement will succeed “in partnership with our brothers and sisters in the north.”

International recognition

The National Salvation Government is not only arguably the legitimate government of Yemen. The Yemeni armed forces and its alliance with AnsarAllah has proven that they are indeed the most powerful entity in the country, with an ever-developing arsenal, they have recently announced an improved air defence system, capable of “neutralising” coalition aircraft up to a projected 90 per cent in the year ahead, which is significant as according to Yemeni military expert, Brigadier General Aziz Rashid, the coalition depends on aircraft for 85 per cent of its operations. They have shot down several drones in the past two weeks, in addition to an Apache helicopter belonging to the Saudis. Just today, at the time of writing, the Yemeni armed forces downed a Saudi spy plane over the Jizan region.

As the Riyadh Agreement gradually fades into obscurity, and the Saudis and its allies begin to sue for peace and pay for the damage that they caused, in the realisation that it is the Houthi government which is the legitimate power and authority in the country, it is high time that the international community start recognising this too, at the expense of the puppet government based in Riyadh headed by Hadi, who effectively has been held in captivity there and does not speak for the Yemeni people nor has control of the armed forces. Peace, stability and an end to the man-made humanitarian crisis is achievable with the help of this international community, who have been delusional for far too long.

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December 14, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Jordan seeks to restore diplomatic relations with Syria: Minister

Press TV – December 6, 2019

Jordan plans to restore full diplomatic relations with neighboring Syria in a further sign of Arab states embracing President Bashar al-Assad after a UAE diplomat praised him for “wise leadership” this week.

Jordanian Minister of State and Agriculture Samir Habashneh said Thursday he will travel to Syria later this month as part of a nearly 30-strong delegation, Arabic- language Ammon news website reported.

Former Prime Minister Taher al-Masri will head the delegation to restore Amman-Damascus bilateral relations to the level prior to the outbreak of foreign-sponsored Syrian conflict, it said.

Habashneh said Jordan and Syria actually have common areas of interest, stressing that the visit should have taken place much earlier in order to enhance communication between the two countries.

Commenting on a possible meeting with President Assad, he stated that the matter is in the hands of the Syrian side, and that the Jordanian delegates would like to sit for talks with the 54-year-old Syrian leader, senior officials and representatives of the Syrian people.

Jordan’s official Petra news agency, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Sufian Qudah, reported earlier this year that the Amman government had appointed a new chargé d’affaires to its embassy in Damascus.

“It was decided to appoint a Jordanian diplomat at the rank of charge d’affaires in the Jordanian embassy in Damascus,” the Jordanian official said.

He underlined that the “decision has been made in line with Jordan’s stance since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011 to keep the Jordanian embassy in Damascus open.”

Jordanian lawmakers first asked for the improvement of Jordan-Syria ties to the level before the start of the Syrian crisis last year, stressing that the relations are beneficial to both nations, Arabic-language Rai al-Youm newspaper reported last December.

Around the same time, Bahrain announced that work at the kingdom’s embassy “in the Syrian Arab Republic is going on whilst the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Kingdom of Bahrain is carrying out its duties and flights connecting the two countries are operational without interruption.”

It came a day after the United Arab Emirates officially reopened its embassy in Damascus.

Earlier this week, the UAE’s top diplomat in Syria praised President Assad for his “wise leadership”, in one of the strongest expressions of support yet from a country that once backed Damascus’ enemies in the war.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark UAE national day on Dec. 2, UAE charge d’affaires Abdul-Hakim Naimi said he hoped “security and stability prevails throughout the Syrian Arab Republic under the wise leadership of President Bashar Al-Assad.”

“Syria-UAE relations are solid, distinct and strong,” he added, according to a video posted by Russian broadcaster RT.

Arab countries’ restoration of diplomatic ties with Damascus takes place at a time when the Syrian army troops are finalizing their victory against foreign-backed terror groups and restoring peace and stability to the war-torn country.

Earlier this year, Reuters news agency cited sources as saying that Washington had lobbied Persian Gulf states including the UAE to hold off restoring ties with Syria.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Report: US rejected UAE request to purchase F-35 fighter jets

MEMO | November 26, 2019

The United States has rejected a request by the United Arab Emirates to purchase the F-35 Stealth Fighters, Israeli Channel 13 reported.

According to the news station Pentagon officials said they would not allow the sale of F-35 Stealth Fighters to the UAE in order to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME).

According to the channel, the UAE has been seeking to purchase the stealth fighters for more than six years without success.

The US, Channel 13 continued, has a long held policy of upholding Israel’s qualitative military edge, whereby Israel maintains a technological advantage in the region when it comes to defence capabilities.

Israel has recently received two additional F-35 fighter jets amid escalating tensions with Iran in the region.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

UAE studies Russia proposals to de-escalate tension in Gulf

MEMO | November 21, 2019

The UAE has said it is interested in de-escalating the tension in the Gulf region and is studying Russian proposals in this regard, TASS reported.

In an interview the Russian Ambassador to the UAE Sergei Kuznetsov said: “Our Emirati friends are interested with us in easing the tensions in the Persian Gulf.”

He added: “They are carefully studying the corresponding Russian proposals as part of our strategy aimed at establishing a framework to launch equal dialogue between countries in order to ensure stability and security in this region of strategic importance.”

Kuznetsov stated that the main point is that Russia’s partners in the UAE “understand the dangers of artificially instigating tensions in the Persian Gulf fraught with unpredictable ramifications.”

Last month it was reported that the US was planning to send “thousands” of additional troops to bolster its military presence in Saudi in the wake of the Aramco attacks, which Washington and Riyadh blamed on Iran despite Yemen’s Houthi movement claiming responsibility.

November 21, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

The Houthis Are Preparing for a Planned Israeli Attack on Yemen

By Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News | November 11, 2019

SANA’A, YEMEN — As the war in Yemen nears the end of its fifth year, the situation in the country seems to be escalating. There are strong indications that Israel is planning to launch airstrikes against the country under the pretext of preventing an Iranian military presence from taking hold, a move that is likely to open the door for further escalation.

On Saturday, Ansar Allah, the political wing of Yemen’s Houthis, announced that Yemeni forces would not hesitate to “deal a stinging blow” to Israel in the case Tel Aviv decides to launch attacks in Yemen. The Houthis reaffirmed that their anti-Israel position is based on a principled, humanitarian, moral, and religious commitment. Historically, neither the Yemeni Army nor the Houthis themselves, have ever targeted Israel directly.

The threat from Israel is not without precedent. Israel has used claims of alleged Iranian military attachments in countries like Syria and Iraq as justification for airstrikes and bombings against those nations. Now, Israel appears to be using Iran’s alleged presence in Yemen, an allegation that both Tehran and the Houthis deny, as a pretext for military action in the country despite no evidence indicating that there are any Iranian forces present there. 

Ansar Allah leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in televised speech marking the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad, “Our people will not hesitate to declare jihad (holy war) against the Israeli enemy, and to launch the most severe strikes against sensitive targets in the occupied territories if the enemy engages in any folly against our people.” The occasion marks the largest festival held by the Houthis during which they reveal their domestic and foreign policies for the coming year.

The Houthis also called on the Saudi regime to stop the war and siege on Yemen, warning that there would be risks and consequences for the Kingdom should they continue their attacks. Al-Houthi also confirmed that Yemenis will continue to develop their military capability, adding that, “Anyone who uses the war and siege to control us and subjugate us is seeking the impossible, and the consequence is failure.”

Al-Houthi also pointed to the ongoing mass protest movements in Lebanon and Iraq, advising nations in the Middle East to resolve their issues vigilantly. He asked those nations to exercise vigilance in the face of what he called Israeli plots to gain a political, military, and cultural foothold in their respective countries.

On Saturday, massive demonstrations took place across Yemen’s major cities to commemorate the Prophet Mohammed’s birth, an occasion known to Muslims as Maulud Nabi. While the occasion is a religious one, it is a public holiday in Yemen and is marked with the singing of the national anthem and the waving of green flags. Many protesters told MintPress News that any attack by Israeli would not cause the Yemeni people any more suffering than they have already endured, but would push them to join a “holy war” against Israel.

According to three government officials in Sana’a that spoke to MintPress on the condition of anonymity, the Houthi’s warnings are both serious and well-placed. Those officials said that the government in Sana’a has already confirmed information that Israel is preparing to launch airstrikes on both military sites and civil targets in Yemen, especially on the country’s west coast and along the Saudi-Yemen border in coordination with the Saudi-led Coalition.

Ansar Allah’s announcement also comes in the wake of a number of recent statements made by a number of Israeli officials claiming that Yemen has become a threat to Israel. Speaking during a visit by U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin and White House aid Jared Kushner, Netanyahu claimed that Iran has supplied missiles to the Houthis that could hit Israel. The Houthis regard these statements as a justification and prelude to strikes on the country, similar to those that Israel unilaterally carried out against sites in Syria and Iraq.

In August, Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida released a report saying that Israel is planning on striking sensitive positions on the Bab al-Mandab strait which links the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, to target “Houthis” in the area. The newspaper, which cited an anonymous informed source, said Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has been monitoring activities in the Yemeni strait.

Israel’s entry into the Yemen war could indeed open the door for further escalation, a prospect made more likely by both the increased strength of Ansar Allah forces and by Israel’s increasingly cozy relationship with the Gulf Arab countries of the coalition. The fact that Saudi Arabia and the UAE recently sought negotiations with Houthis after they were unable to win the war militarily, despite their superior firepower and funding, only increases the likelihood of Israel’s entry into Yemen.

In fact, Israel is alleged to have already participated in the war against Yemen on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition as a part of a series of covert interventions involving mercenary forces, the reported launching of dozens of airstrikes in the country and even the dropping of a neutron bomb on Nuqm Mountain in the middle the capital Sana’a in May of 2015.

Kicking the hornet’s nest

Like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there is a problem with the Israeli assessment of the situation in Yemen, as the Houthis have never threatened to hit an Israeli target and Houthi attacks on Saudi-led Coalition countries have always been retaliatory, not preemptive. There are no vital targets to be bombed in Yemen as the Saudi-led coalition has already destroyed nearly every potential target, including civilian infrastructure. Moreover, any attack by Israel against Yemen will gain the Houthis even more popular support both inside of Yemen and across the Islamic and Arab world.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that Iran has any military sites or experts in Yemen, and Yemen’s Army, loyal to Ansar Allah, are not the “Iran proxy fighters” that international media so often claims them to be. Indeed, the U.S. State Department even admitted in leaked cables that the Houthis were not an Iran proxy and that they received neither funding nor weapons from Iran.

There are a convergence of interests between the Houthis and Iran, including opposition to Israel’s internationally-recognized theft of Palestinian land, but if Israel involves itself directly in the conflict in Yemen, it is likely that the Houthi alliance with Iran will grow and may actually spur Tehran into providing precise and sophisticated weapons to Ansar Allah, turning the fears of Israel into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Meanwhile, many Israeli activists and media pundits are expressing concerns over what they consider serious threats from Yemen, pointing out that these threats “should not be underestimated by the Israelis.” The Israeli security parliament said that Israeli intelligence must strictly monitor Yemen and take necessary steps to secure Israeli ships sailing in the Bab Al-Mandab area, describing the statements made by Abdulmalik al-Houthi as serious.

A well-stocked arsenal

Indeed the threats of Ansar Allah, a group known to strike sensitive targets without hesitation, are not without precedent. On September 14, Ansar Allah hit two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, an attack that led to a suspension of about 50 percent of the Arab Kingdom’s crude and gas production.

Prior to that, they targeted vital facilities deep inside of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, including the Barakah Nuclear Power Station in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, as well as the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, more than 800 km from Yemen’s northern border. Now, they have developed their arsenal of ballistic missiles and drones even further and experts say are likely capable of hitting vital targets inside of Israel. Yemen’s Army is ready to launch those missiles if Ansar Allah’s leader asks it to do, one high-ranking military officer told MintPress.

Yemen’s Army, loyal to the Houthis, is equipped with the Quds 1 winged missile which was used in an attack on the Barakah Nuclear Power Station in Abu Dhabi in December of 2017. This year, several generations of the Quds 1 were reworked to provide the “ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems,” according to Ansar Allah.

The Borkan 3 (Volcano 3), whose predecessors were used by the Houthis to strike targets inside of Saudi Arabia and the UAE,  is capable of traveling even further than the Borkan 1 and 2. The Borkan is a modified Scud missile and was used in a strike on the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, more than 800 km from Yemen’s northern border. The missile was able to evade U.S. Patriot missile air-defense systems.

Yemen’s Army also posses the Samad 3 reconnaissance drone and the Qasef 2K drone. Both were used in strikes against the Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports. The Samad 3 has an estimated range of 1,500 to 1,700 km. Moreover, the Yemen Army recently unveiled a new drone with a range exceeding 1,700 km and equipped with advanced technology that would render it difficult for air defense systems to detect.

One Ansar Allah military source told MintPress that mines would also be deployed against Israeli battleships and watercraft in the Red Sea if Israel decides to launch attacks against Yemen. Indeed, Yemen’s military recently revealed its domestically-manufactured marine mines dubbed the “Mersad,” and is reportedly “actively developing its naval forces and naval anti-ship missiles.”

Despite the well-established precedent, many still doubt that the Houthis are capable of carrying out attacks on the scale and range of the attack that struck an Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia earlier this year — instead, accusing Iran of orchestrating the attacks. Yet repeatedly underestimating the Houthis was one of the major mistakes made by the Saudi-led coalition, who has failed to defeat the group after nearly five years of fierce battles against them, despite being equipped with the latest U.S.-supplied weaponry — everything from M1A2 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley fighting vehicles to AH-64D Apache helicopters, as well as having an air force equipped with a high-tech arsenal.

However, it would be difficult for the Yemeni Army to prevent aerial attacks by Israel. Yemeni airspace has been open to the coalition and to American drones since the war broke out in 2015. Any attack by the Yemen army would likely come in retaliation to an Israeli attack and would hit Israeli military bases in Eritrea, Israeli ships in the Red Sea as well as hit vital targets deep inside of Israel, according to Yemeni military sources.

An already dire situation

The war, which began in March 2015, has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis resulting from the bombing and a blockade which has led to mass starvation and history’s largest cholera outbreak, among other dire consequences.

The coalition, backed by the United States, has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians since the war began. Moreover, the coalition’s blockade of food and medicine has plagued the country with an unprecedented famine and has triggered a deadly outbreak of preventable diseases that have cost thousands of people their lives.

Last week, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project revealed that Yemen’s death toll rose to a shocking 100,000 since 2015. The database shows approximately 20,000 people have been killed this year, already making 2019 the second-deadliest year on record after 2018, with 30,800 dead. Those numbers do not include those who have died in the humanitarian disasters caused by the war, particularly starvation.

Given the nature of  Israel’s recent wars against Gaza and Lebanon, it is unlikely that Israel would feel constrained by any moral dilemma should they chose to launch airstrikes against civilians in Yemen.

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

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran vs Saudi Arabia: it’s game-over

By Ghassan Kadi | The Saker Blog | September 19, 2019

Is the attack on ARAMCO the first of a long war or is it game-over already? It seems like the latter and in more ways than one, the war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has ended before it even started. One single solitary Houthi attack on Aramco has sent Saudi oil exports tumbling down by half; not to mention a 20% hike on the price of crude.

Now, even though the Houthis have declared responsibility for the ARAMCO attack, the Trump administration wants the world to buy the idea that it was Iran who launched the attack, not the Houthis. Thus far, at least Japan seems unconvinced, and so is France.

In reality however, the resolve of Saudi Arabia and its capability to stand up and fight has little to do with the identity of the attacker, and this is because Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that it didn’t take much for it to suffer what it suffered. This begs the question; how many such similar attacks can Saudi Arabia weather before it totally capitulates? Seemingly, not many.

In a previous article, I anticipated such scenarios because the Saudi economy and infrastructure are highly vulnerable. A country that has virtually one major wealth-producing base (ie oil) and just a few desalination plants that pump fresh water into its major cities, is a very soft target indeed. After all, if those handful of vital targets are hit, not only will oil exports stop, but water will stop running in households. But the water desalination plants do not have to suffer a direct hit for them to stop running. They need power to run, and the power comes from fuel, and if the fuel supplies stop, so will they, and so will electricity-generating plants in a nation that cannot survive without air-conditioning.

Up until recently, people of Arabia were used to drought, brackish water and searing heat. They lived in and around oases and adopted a lifestyle that used little water. But, the new generation of Saudis and millions of expats are used to daily showers, potable water and climate control in their households. During wars, people normally go to nature to find food and water. They hunt, they fish, they collect local berries and edible wild plants, they fill jars from running rivers and streams, they grow their own vegetables in their backyards, but in Saudi Arabia, in the kingdom of sand, such alternatives do not exist at all.

Furthermore, with a population that has swelled from a few million in the 1950’s, the current population of Saudi Arabia stands at 33 million, and this includes the millions of expats who work and live there.

The limited supply of brackish water is not enough to get by until any damaged infrastructure is fixed, and it’s not even piped to begin with.

As the nation with the third highest global defence budget, higher than Russia’s, Saudi Arabia continues to import everything from Patriot Missiles all the way down to bullets.

This is in sharp contrast with Iran’s geography, natural assets and demography. Iran is a nation of mountains, valleys and rivers, meadows, thriving agriculture and 70 million citizens who have been taught to be innovative and self-sufficient; courtesy of US-imposed sanctions.

And to say that the ARAMCO target was hit by surprise would be quite absurd and inexcusable given that Saudi Arabia is already in a state of war with Yemen, and especially given that the Yemeni aerial strikes have been escalating in recent months. To make the situation even more embarrassing for the Saudis; the spectre of war with Iran is currently hot on the agenda, so how could key Saudi installations be unprotected?

But here’s the other thing, had it been truly Iran that was responsible for the attack as the Trump administration alleges and wants us to believe, America would then be admitting that Iranian missiles flew from mainland Iran, across the Gulf, managed to dodge American defences and state-of-the-art detection hardware and software, and effectively reached their target on Saudi soil. If this is the scenario Trump wants us to believe, what does this say about the capability of America to engage militarily with Iran? This is a much bigger farce than that of Russia-gate; a claim that Russia can indeed affect the outcome of the presidential elections of the allegedly “greatest and strongest nation on earth”. Do such claims mean that America’s adversaries are extremely organised, smart and strong or that America is in disarray, stupid and weak; or both? Either way, when such claims are perpetrated by none but America itself, they certainly do not put America in a good light.

The weaknesses and vulnerabilities of Saudi Arabia and Big Brother are only matched by the other ally, the UAE. As a matter of fact Houthis spokesperson Yahia Saria gave the Emirates a stern warning if they want to protect their glass skyscrapers. In his address, Saria is perhaps giving a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Arabic proverb which says that if one’s house is made of glass, he should not cast rocks at others. After years of indiscriminate shelling under the watchful and indifferent eyes of the world, after years of ruthlessly trying to starve the Yemenis into submission, why would one expect the Houthis to exercise any mercy towards their aggressors?

But let us face it, Dubai and other thriving metropolises of the UAE are predestined to morph into ghost towns. It is only a question of time before they run out of their current charm and their fake onion skin deep glitter. After all, there is nothing in those fantasy cities that is real, substantial and self-sustaining. If anything, a war with Iran has the potential to fast-track the decay process and leave foreign investors and expats exiting in droves; if not running for their lives.

Ironically, the American/Saudi/UAE alliance, if it is indeed an alliance, accuses Iran of spreading its dominion over the region; and perhaps there is evidence to support this accusation. However, the alliance seems to conveniently forget that it was its own orchestrated invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam that created a power vacuum in Iraq that was soon filled by Iran. And even though the eight-year long and bitter Iran-Iraq war ended up with no winners or losers, the fall of Saddam at the hands of the American/Arab alliance has turned Iran into the virtual winner that the same alliance is now trying to curb. How more ironic can this farcical situation be?

America plays down the strength of Iran’s Army, and Iran does the opposite. This is normal and part-and-parcel of the psychological warfare. In reality however, no one knows for certain what is Iran’s military capability. For this reason, any all-out confrontation with Iran may at least initially sway America to move its vessels out of the Gulf and further away from the reach of short-range Iranian missiles until and if they feel confident to move closer at a later stage. However, Saudi key and vital ground targets cannot be moved, and for Iran to only be able to hit a few that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, can lead to a total Saudi/UAE capitulation.

Whilst no one knows Iran’s real strength, what we do know is that Saudi Arabia has failed abysmally in defeating the much weaker, poorer, underprivileged starving people of Yemen.

America will not commit boots on the ground and, to this effect, has little to lose apart from risking naval vessels. The soft targets will be Saudi and UAE key infrastructures and no Patriot defence systems will be able to intercept all missiles poised to hit them. If the Houthis could do it, it is a given that Iran also can.

I have recently watched the series “The Vietnam War” on Netflix, and I remembered how back then when the truth about that war was exposed, I believed that American hawks would never get away with lying to their people and the rest of the world again, or ever invade another country in the way that they did with Vietnam. In less than two decades however, they moved full throttle into Iraq, and the masses believed their story. Perhaps some things will never change, and after the losses in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, America seems still determined to fight Iran. This time around, the biggest loser may not end up to be America itself, but its Arab allies; namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the recent attack on ARAMCO is only a prelude to an inevitable outcome, because the writing is already on the wall and it clearly reads: GAME-OVER.

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 2 Comments

UAE Joins US-led Maritime Coalition in Middle East

Al-Manar | September 19, 2019

Following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates has joined a US-led naval mission purportedly aimed at protecting shipping lanes in Middle Eastern waterways.

The official Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported the UAE’s decision to become a member of the so-called International Maritime Security Construct on Thursday, a day after Riyadh said it was joining the alliance.

It quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as claiming that Abu Dhabi’s accession to the US-led coalition is meant to “to secure the flow of energy supplies to the global economy and contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The United States has been trying to persuade its allies to join the international coalition with the declared aim of providing “security” for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and other strategic shipping lanes in the Middle East.

Washington moved to set up the coalition after pinning the blame on Tehran for two attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in May and June. Tehran rejected the claims, saying the attacks seemed more to be false-flag operations meant to exert pressure on Iran.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi — key members of a coalition waging war on Yemen — decided to join the coalition in the wake of the Yemeni army’s massive retaliatory attacks on key Saudi oil facilities.

Saudi Arabia and the US pointed the finger at Tehran again, a claim rejected by Iran and Yemen.

On Wednesday, Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki claimed that the strikes were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

During a press briefing, Maliki showed off wreckage of drones and missiles, which he claimed proved “Iranian” involvement in weekend attacks on two oil facilities.

At another presser in Sana’a, Yemeni army spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree rejected the claims of Iranian role in the drone raids, which he described as “an outstanding example of the military prowess.”

Saree also sternly warned the UAE against keeping up its acts of aggression against the Yemeni nation.

“To the Emirati regime we say only one operation (of ours) would cost you dearly,” he said. “Today and for the first time we announce that we have dozens of targets within our range in the UAE, some are in Abu Dhabi and can be attacked at any time.”

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran condemns UAE, Israel’s ‘ridiculous’ claims at IAEA

Press TV – September 18, 2019

Iran has denounced “ridiculous” allegations raised at the recent general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by the UAE “nuclear newcomers” and the Israeli regime.

“It is quite ridiculous that a regime which has ignored all the non-proliferation and disarmament commitments and developed all kinds of weapons of mass destruction is preaching to a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) whose nuclear facilities and materials are under the IAEA’s safeguards,” Iran’s permanent representative to international organizations Kazem Gharibabadi said on Wednesday.

“The Zionist regime, with its long history of [adopting] opportunistic policies to deflect attentions from its brutal and inhumane measures against the people of Palestine and other countries in the Middle East, has been one of the main sources of crisis, instability, pain, and anger in the region’s recent history,” he noted on Wednesday.

He called on the international community not to be distracted from the Israeli regime’s atomic weapons program, and said that Tel Aviv must abandon its nukes and join the NPT immediately, putting all its nuclear facilities under the IAEA’s safeguards.

In an address to the 63rd IAEA general conference, the director general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission claimed that the IAEA needs to show “greater vigilance” considering what he called Iran’s “methods of deception and concealment in the nuclear realm.”

He also accused Iran of “concealing and removing nuclear materials and equipment from its clandestine sites” and undermining the IAEA’s “ability to conduct effective verification missions.”

The allegations come as Israel, the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, has a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear program.

In his Wednesday comments, Gharibabadi also downplayed the “irrelevant and groundless” accusations raised by the UAE envoy, and gave assurances that “Iran has utilized the highest standards in building and launching its nuclear facilities.”

He said adopting such safety standards requires domestic technical capacities, which “cannot be easily purchased and imported” along with certain equipment.

“While the peaceful use of nuclear energy is the undeniable right of all governments … we strongly advise that regional newcomers to the nuclear field, including the UAE, show maximum transparency and avoid any deviation in their peaceful nuclear program,” he added.

“Iran has transparently shown on many occasions, including in the fight against terrorism, that it is the main source of security and stability in the region,” Gharibabadi said.

He made the remarks in reaction to comments by Hamad Alkaabi, the permanent representative of the UAE to the IAEA, who called on “the international community to devise a new approach towards addressing concerns and threats of Iran’s nuclear and regional activities.”

“With regard to the JCPOA, my country calls on Iran to honor its obligations under the IAEA safeguards, the NPT and its commitments under the JCPOA and to fully cooperate with the IAEA to address all concerns related to its nuclear activities, as well as to refrain from actions that could undermine the nonproliferation regime,” he said, referring to the Iran nuclear agreement using its abbreviation.

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Yemen: Socotra suspends Emirates Airline flights to stop UAE mercenaries

MEMO | September 9, 2019

Amid allegations of UAE-backed foreign mercenaries arriving on the Yemeni island of Socotra, it was reported yesterday that the island’s main airport has temporarily suspended flights from UAE’s Emirates Airline for three days.

According to the Socotra Post, local intelligence suggests the UAE intends to deploy additional mercenaries from the Eritrean port city of Asseb in addition to militia stationed in the southern mainland.

It has been speculated that the UAE hopes to expand its trading routes by occupying the strategically located archipelago where a military base has already been established. The UAE has previously set up similar bases in the Horn of Africa, of which Eritrea is part.

Soqotri residents have held regular demonstrations against a perceived occupation by the Emiratis.

The Socotra Post reported other sources saying that the UAE previously smuggled arms onto the island by using sites used to store humanitarian aid and commercial goods belonging to the UAE branch of the Red Crescent and the Khalifah Foundation.

The Socotra islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Centre protected and recognised by the UN body for their unique flora and fauna.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment