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US to pressure partners into enforcing anti-Russia sanctions

RT | January 28, 2023

The US Treasury Department’s top sanctions official will visit Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates next week to warn officials and businesses there that Washington will punish them if they dodge its sanctions on Russia, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Brian Nelson, the department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will travel to Oman, the UAE, and Türkiye between Sunday and Friday. Meeting with government officials, businesses and financial institutions, Nelson will caution them that they could lose access to US markets “on account of doing business with sanctioned entities,” a Treasury spokesperson told the news agency.

US officials have repeatedly highlighted Türkiye as a potential hub of sanctions evasion, and unnamed Western officials told the Financial Times in August that they were “deeply concerned” about allegations of trade between Turkish firms and sanctioned Russian entities.

Ankara responded that it “would not allow the breaching of sanctions by any institution or person,” following a phone call in which US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo seemingly threatened the “success of the Turkish economy” and “the integrity of its banking sector.”

The UAE has also received warnings from Washington, with Adeyemo urging the Emirates’ financial institutions last summer to be “exceedingly cautious” about doing business with other institutions connected to “the Russian financial system.” The Treasury spokesperson told Reuters that Nelson will condemn the UAE’s “poor sanctions compliance” during his visit.

In the last month, the US has sanctioned a prominent Turkish businessman over allegedly laundering money for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and a UAE-based aviation firm over alleged sales to Russia’s Wagner private military corporation. Multiple Emirati companies have also been penalized for evading US sanctions on Iran.

Both Türkiye and the UAE voted at the UN General Assembly last year to condemn Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, but neither has imposed sanctions of their own on Moscow. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has maintained close contact with his colleagues in both Kiev and Moscow, and said from the outset that his diplomatic handling of the conflict would be “balanced.”

With Türkiye and the US also at loggerheads over Ankara’s refusal to sign off on Finland’s and Sweden’s bids for NATO membership, Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week affirmed their intent to “develop comprehensive cooperation,” including by increasing the supply of Russian gas to Türkiye.

January 28, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Coalition forced to release detained Yemeni fuel ships

By Yusef Mawry – Press TV – December 25, 2022

Sana’a – Fuel prices have slightly dropped in Yemen after the release of two Yemeni fuel ships that were detained by the Saudi-led coalition earlier this week in the Red Sea.

The Yemeni army issued a stern warning to Saudi Arabia and the UAE that if the ships were not released soon, military action would follow.

Yemeni bus and motorbike drivers in the capital Sana’a who make a living from public transportation welcomed the lowering of fuel prices. They say this is going to help them cope with the fuel price hike caused by the blockade.

Yemeni political experts say the release of the fuel ships by the Saudi-led coalition isn’t enough, as Yemen will continue to struggle until Saudi Arabia and its allies completely lift the blockade and end their illegal involvement in Yemen.

Despite falling oil prices, tensions are rising on all active battlefronts in Yemen for what could soon be a resumption of war if a political solution is not reached soon, as Saudi Arabia and the UAE continue their militarization of strategic Yemeni Islands in the Red and Arabian sea.

The release of fuel ships detained by the Saudi-led coalition marks a big victory for the Yemeni government based in Sana’a and the people living in the areas controlled by Ansarullah. This also indicates that Saudi Arabia and the UAE simply cannot afford to have their oil industries targeted by Yemeni missiles and that’s why they decided to go with a safer option by releasing the fuel vessels.

December 25, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Reneging on Abraham Accords, Netanyahu authorises ‘soft annexation’ of West Bank

MEMO | November 24, 2022

Israel’s designate Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been accused of breaking his agreement with Arab countries that normalised relations with the Occupation State during the current coalition negotiations. The Likud leader is reported to have agreed to move the civil administration in the West Bank from Israeli Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Finance to appease far-right member of the Knesset, Bezalel Smotrich.

Religious Zionism will be handed the civil administration portfolio, according to Haaretz. The Ministry is hugely significant for Palestinians, as it oversees coordination of Israel’s activity in the Occupied West Bank. The agreement was reached as part of the ongoing coalition talks between Netanyahu’s Likud and Religious Zionism, which stalled once more after the parties failed to reach agreement on several other key issues.

Though details of the talks are yet to be disclosed, Likud is said to have acceded to Religious Zionism’s demand for some of the powers of the civil administration, which is under the Defence Ministry. The deal will mean that Smotrich, who is an advocate of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, will be handed power in approving Palestinian construction plans and settlement construction in Area C. Decisions around illegal outposts, illegal construction and work permits for Palestinians falls under the remit of the administration.

The biggest prize for Religious Zionism, which became the third largest party with 14 Knesset seats, is to seize control over affairs in the Occupied West Bank. Although past Israeli governments showed reluctance to annex the territory completely over concerns around backlash from the international community, Religious Zionism has no such fear.

Officials in Religious Zionism claimed, Wednesday, that the Party acceded to Netanyahu’s requests to forgo the defence portfolio in exchange for the Finance Ministry. The condition for the agreement is that the responsibility for settlements and the civil administration is transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Finance. Under International law, the West Bank is occupied, which means that the military of the occupying power oversees the territory.

Netanyahu has been accused of reneging on his deal with the Arab States by agreeing to the transfer of the civil administration. “Moving the civil administration in the West Bank from Israeli Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Finance will be a ‘soft annexation’ of the WB & violation of the commitment Netanyahu gave the US & UAE to suspend his annexation plan,” said Israeli journalist, Barak Ravid on Twitter. “It could harm the Israel-UAE peace treaty,” Ravid added, referring to 2020 normalisation deal.

Referred to as the “Abraham Accords,” the UAE hailed the deal as victory for the two-state solution. Abu Dhabi defended its decision to normalise relations with the Occupation State by insisting that it had prevented Israel from annexing the West Bank, a threat which Netanyahu, who was the Prime Minister at the time, had issued.

It is not clear what steps the UAE will take in response. UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (ABZ) raised his concerns over Religious Zionism becoming part of a coalition with Netanyahu, during a recent visit to Israel.

November 25, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments

Two potentates meet up at St. Petersburg

A 19th century painting of Konstantinovksy Palace, St. Petersburg
BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE |  OCTOBER 12, 2022

There was something profoundly meaningful that the President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan undertook a visit to Russia amidst the gathering storms in Ukraine. Conscious of the symbolism, Russian President Vladimir Putin received Sheikh Mohammed on Tuesday in a grand setting befitting a monarch — at the gorgeous Konstantinovksy Palace in St. Petersburg whose heritage dates back to Peter the Great, a symbol of the revival of Russia and its cultural heritage. 

The meeting of the two potentates couldn’t have been more timely. Sheikh Mohammed and his Saudi kinsperson, Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud had just handed down a strategic defeat to a superpower in the geopolitics of oil, as the world community witnessed disbelievingly and understood that the sun has set on the American Century in international politics. 

Putin too stands at the threshold of a historic victory over the combined might of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which is poised to redraw the contours of the new world order. Putin told Sheikh Mohammed that the relations between Russia and the UAE are “an important factor of regional and overall global stability.”

Putin said, “I know that you are concerned about the entire situation that is developing, and I know about your desire to make a contribution to resolving all contentious issues, including the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. I would like to note that, indeed, this substantial factor makes it possible to use your influence to help gradually resolve the situation.” 

The words were carefully chosen. Putin noted the UAE’s desire “to help gradually resolve the situation” in Ukraine, underscoring that a denouement is not in the cards in a near term. [Emphasis added.] However, the centrepiece of Putin’s remarks was something else — OPEC Plus where Saudi Arabia, UAE and Russia are virtually navigating the global energy markets.  

Putin signalled that Moscow is not at all viewing the OPEC+ decision in zero sum terms. Rather, its aim is “to stabilise global energy markets, so that consumers of energy resources and those supplying them to global markets would feel calm, stable and confident, and so that supply and demand would be balanced.” Of course, embedded within this polite submission is a tough message to the G7 that any further attempt on their part to extend their weaponisation of sanctions to the global energy market is unacceptable and will be resisted and defeated. 

These were Putin’s first remarks on the collective decision announced by the OPEC+ at its meeting in Vienna last Thursday to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day. Putin concluded firmly that Russia will “respond to market requirements all the time, and we try to do this in line with current developments.” 

Sheikh Mohammed unmistakably signalled that his visit focused on boosting its bilateral relations with Russia, especially in the economic sphere. As the western sanctions atrophy Russia’s flourishing economic ties with Europe, Moscow is turning to the non-Western world for partnerships, and reorienting its regional strategies. Putin has repeatedly stated that Russia will gladly engage with any country that stands up to western bullying. 

The UAE has been quick to grasp that Russia prioritises the Emirates as a favoured destination to conduct business. The uniqueness of the UAE for Moscow lies in its dynamic environment for doing business as well as for opening a window for Russian industry to the Western world. Moscow has been receiving strong feelers from European partners about resuming business ties albeit indirectly. After all, the Russian market is synonymous with high business returns. 

A crucial template here is Moscow’s appreciation of the growing emphasis by the UAE on preserving its strategic autonomy. The Russian elites admire Sheikh Mohammad for rapidly transforming the Emirates from an economy once reliant on fishing and pearls, to becoming a financial powerhouse and diverse economy, and providing a stable political system, strong capital flow, favourable taxation environment and liberal trade regimes. 

Indeed, the UAE is now an attractive investment hub with a ‘2021 Vision’ of becoming the economic, touristic and commercial capital for over two billion people. As the Russians see it, these ambitious goals will continue to facilitate a hospitable, well-regulated and secure business ecosystem in the UAE. The World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index ranks the UAE among the top dozen out of 160 countries in terms of trade logistics.

Equally, Moscow does not envisage that it could be “business as usual” with the Europeans anytime soon — if ever. The the resuscitation of the West’s Nazi heritage to spite Russia and the destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipelines to punish Russia are only the culmination of an excessively obnoxious behaviour by the US and its allies to humiliate Russia over the decades — pouring scorn over its cultural heritages of language, literature, music, etc.  out of sheer envy — in an appalling zest to “erase” Russia as a powerhouse. This has created deep wounds in the Russian psyche.   

With 4,000 Russian companies operating out of the UAE, there is a rapidly growing Russian community in the Gulf region and Sheikh Mohammed noted that the Emirates will provide a friendly ambience for the Russian expatriates by approving the opening of the first Russian school in the Emirates. Conceivably, this must be the first such Russian school in that part of the world.  

The Russian business community visualises the UAE as a prime launch-pad  to access markets around the world. Its geographical location and amicable time zone (GMT +4), give businesses wishing to access markets in Africa, Asia and Europe a regional and business-centric hub from which to operate. Russia has set its sights high for expanding its relations with African countries, where it enjoys tremendous “soft power” dating back to the Soviet era.

In geopolitical terms, Sheikh Mohammed’s decision to travel to Russia to meet with Putin comes in the backdrop of the temper tantrums of the American political elites threatening to “punish” Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Democrats have brashly called for the withdrawal of US troops in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and cutback on arms supplies. 

These Neanderthal men ought to have become museum pieces by now. They do not comprehend that the West Asian elites have a cosmopolitan mindset and know these hollow men well enough, having interacted with them in their pristine years and watched stoically more recently as they began ageing, showing signs of exhaustion and senility.

By this visit to St. Petersburg, Sheikh Mohammed may have in his own astute way shown that such crude American threats will only be counter-productive. Earlier once, the Biden Administration had bullied him to sever the UAE’s relations with China to qualify for F-35 jets, whereupon, in disgust, he turned to France’s Rafale. 

Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have the potential to form a troika where each of the members augmented the political power of the other two members and at the same time collectively impacted the actual distribution of power in a multipolar world. The OPEC Plus has shown the way. Sheikh Mohammed’s meeting with Putin comes within the week of the OPEC Plus meeting in Vienna.

October 12, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , | 3 Comments

UAE President to visit Russia for bilateral talks

The Cradle | October 10, 2022

The President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, will visit Russia on 11 October to discuss a series of national and international topics with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The bilateral talks were announced by the Russian Presidential Spokesman Dimitry Peskov on 10 October.

The visit comes less than a week after OPEC+ member and nonmember states decided to cut oil production output by 2 million barrels per day, defying the hopes and expectations of the Biden administration to curb rising energy prices.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused OPEC+ on 5 October of “aligning with Russia,” and claimed their decision “is shortsighted while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of [Russia’s] invasion of Ukraine,” in reference to the crisis caused by western sanctions imposed on Russia’s energy sector and attacks on Russian energy infrastructure.

Jean-Pierre added that President Joe Biden is consulting with congress “on additional tools and authorities to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices.”

In May of this year, the US Senate approved the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act, which could open OPEC member states and their partners to antitrust lawsuits for “orchestrating supply cuts that raise global crude prices.”

The bipartisan legislation would modify US antitrust law to revoke the sovereign immunity that protects sovereign states from lawsuits. This, in turn, would give the US attorney general the ability to sue OPEC+ members like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or Russia in federal court.

According to the New York Times, analysts have argued that Saudi Arabia is determined to bring the price back above the $90 benchmark.

However, the chief of Saudi Aramco’s operations, Amin Nasser, said that the move to lower output was a decision made based on the international energy markets and fears over a looming recession.

“Even if we decide we are going to increase investment, it is going to be difficult; it will take a number of years,” Nasser said as he warned that the world could experience a serious supply crisis in the energy sectors.

October 10, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

The geopolitical consequences of the OPEC+ agreement

By Hazem Ayyad | MEMO | October 7, 2022

Amir Hossein Zamani Nia, Iran’s OPEC governor, announced when he left a meeting with representatives of the 13 member states of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their ten allies – known as OPEC+ – the decision to reduce oil production by two million barrels per day for November.

The initial reactions to the large production cut were hysteria. One American journalist asked the Saudi Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, if he was worried about the American reaction to the production cut. He sarcastically told her to enjoy the sun in Vienna; a clear indication of the difficulties that Europeans will face next winter.

The American reactions to the decision of the OPEC+ countries were quick and distinct. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commented on the decision by saying it was clear that the OPEC+ alliance was “aligning with Russia” and was making a “short-sighted decision” to reduce oil production at the height of the conflict in Ukraine.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan noted that US President Joe Biden was feeling “disappointed” with the decision of the OPEC+ alliance to reduce its oil production.

The reactions confirm President Biden’s failure to manage the sanctions against Russia and the dismantling of the OPEC+ alliance, whose decisions ruined the ambitions of the US administration, the US Treasury, and the Federal Reserve to fight inflation and reduce interest rates.

The OPEC+ alliance has once again proven its strength and the unity of its countries, which include Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Russia. Despite the disparity, competition and conflict between its countries, the OPEC+ agreement exceeded the limits of technical performance confirmed by UAE Energy Minister, Suhail Al Mazrouei, when his country announced it was joining the efforts to reduce production. Its geopolitical reach extended from the Gulf and Yemen to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

The agreement that included regional opponents such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and international sponsors such as Russia, stressed the geopolitical dimensions as it coincided with a meeting held by the Russian President’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, on Wednesday evening with the Emirati Ambassador to Moscow, Mohammed Ahmed Al-Jaber, to discuss the situation in Yemen and the Gulf region after the expiry of the deadline for the truce agreement in Yemen on 2 October.

This meeting came at the request of the Emirati ambassador and coincided with threats made by a member of the Political Bureau of the Houthi movement, Muhammad Al-Bakhiti. He said: “We have the ability and the courage to strike the Saudi and Emirati oil facilities if our demands are not met.”

The meeting with the Emirati ambassador coincided with a press conference held by the US special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, during which he discussed his country’s position on renewing the truce in Yemen between the countries of the Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the Houthi group. The US official held the Houthis responsible for hindering the reaching of an agreement without providing practical solutions for resuming the truce or dealing with Houthi threats.

These actions and movements confirm the connection between the regional files and their connection to the international mediations led by both America and Russia in Yemeni. Saudi Arabia and the UAE view the OPEC+ agreement as a trump card and a comprehensive framework that allows activating mediations and truces in Yemen, with the positive and consensual atmosphere it provides, which the Biden administration was unable to provide. This is despite its frequent talk about security cooperation in the Red Sea and the Gulf and naval and air manoeuvres, but it quickly turned into a political and economic framework that serves Israel and its interests more than it serves the interests of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

OPEC+ has shifted from a technical framework to an emerging economic and geopolitical framework; fuelled by the Ukrainian war and Russian demands. The tense American reactions deepened the Arab Gulf states’ mistrust of the American partner, which repeatedly failed to deal with the Yemeni and Iranian file. It also failed to deal with the economic requirements of the Gulf states and their political and cultural specificity, which put them in conflict with the powers of the region and threatened their political and religious legitimacy.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arabi21 on 6 October 2022.

October 7, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

As truce ends, Yemen warns oil companies to leave Saudi Arabia, UAE

Press TV – October 2, 2022

Yemen’s Armed Forces have put oil companies operating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on notice, warning that they could be targeted as long as Riyadh and its allies fail to commit to a proper ceasefire.

Tweeting on Sunday, the Armed Forces’ spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree said Yemeni troops were providing the oil companies with a window of opportunity to leave the Saudi and Emirati soils “fast.”

The Saudi kingdom and its allies, most notably the United Arab Emirates, have been waging a war against Yemen since March 2015, trying, in vain, to restore Yemen’s power to its former Riyadh-friendly officials. The military campaign, which has been enjoying unstinting arms, logistical, and political support from the United States, has killed hundreds of thousands of people, and turned the entire Yemen into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

A temporary United Nations-mediated ceasefire took effect between the warring sides in April and has been renewed twice ever since. The truce, however, expired on Sunday amid the invading coalition’s constant violations of the agreement and its refusal to properly lift a siege that it has been enforcing against Yemen simultaneously with the war.

“The warning,” Saree said, “stands as long as the countries that make up the invading American-Saudi coalition refuse to adhere to a ceasefire that allows the Yemeni people to exploit their oil wealth….”

Also on Sunday, Hans Grundberg, the United Nations’ special envoy for Yemen, confirmed failure of efforts aimed at extending the truce.

“The UN special envoy regrets that an agreement has not been reached today, as an extended and expanded truce would provide additional critical benefits to the population,” a statement said.

“I urge [the warring parties] to fulfill their obligation to the Yemeni people to pursue every avenue for peace,” the Swedish diplomat was quoted as saying.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Germany secures just one tanker of LNG from UAE

Samizdat | September 27, 2022

German utility RWE has inked a deal with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) for delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the company announced on Sunday.

The deal so far covers only one tanker: a shipment amounting to 137,000 cubic meters of LNG to be delivered by Abu Dhabi National Oil company to RWE in late December or by early 2023, Bloomberg reported, citing the company’s announcement. Separately, RWE also announced it will partner with UAE-based company Masdar to explore offshore wind energy projects and supply 250,000 tons of diesel per month in 2023 to Germany’s fuel distributor Wilhelm Hoyer.

The deal also includes a memorandum of understanding for more LNG deliveries next year, but the document is non-binding and it is unclear how many more LNG deliveries Germany may expect.

The agreement was signed during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s trip to Abu Dhabi during a tour of the Gulf countries.

“We need to make sure that the production of LNG in the world is advanced to the point where the high demand that exists can be met without having to resort to the production capacity that exists in Russia,” Scholz told reporters prior to the deal’s announcement.

After the UAE, Scholz visited Qatar. However, according to Scholz’s statement issued after the meeting with the Qatari emir, no agreements on LNG supplies have been made there. The two countries have been in talks over LNG supplies for several months now, so far to no avail, as Berlin is reluctant to enter into long-term contracts with Doha.

September 27, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

The West is poised to throw Yemen under the bus again to fuel its economic war on Russia

By Robert Inlakesh | Samizdat | September 11, 2022

Strained by the consequences of the ongoing conflict between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, France may be destroying all prospects for peace in Yemen, in a bid to secure energy resource from the United Arab Emirates.

Considered to be home to the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history, according to the United Nations, earlier this year, its people saw glimmers of hope towards ending its seven-year long war. A ceasefire truce, which has largely held since April, has been viewed as the first step towards reaching a UN-mediated solution for peace between the Ansarallah government in Sanaa and the Saudi-led coalition forces which claim to represent the internationally backed Yemeni government in exile.

According to UN estimates, the total number of people killed in Yemen’s war already reached 377,000 by the beginning of 2022. The civilian death rate is said to have doubled, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), since the controversial withdrawal of UN human rights monitors last October.

Although Saudi coalition forces and Ansarallah, popularly referred to in Western media as the “Iran-backed Houthi rebels,” have managed to keep fighting to a minimum during the past months, another major player in the south of Yemen has recently decided to go on the offensive. The Southern Transitional Council (STC), often called Yemen’s southern separatists, are backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and declared the start of a new military operation in the Abyan province “to cleanse it of terrorist organisations.” This follows territorial gains by the STC, in neighboring Shawba province, against the Muslim Brotherhood aligned Islah Party and others. The offensives launched by the UAE-backed STC have been regarded as a major challenge to UN efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, as well as having imperiled the Saudi initiative, which it calls the ‘Yemen Presidential Council,’ aimed at solidifying the legitimacy of the alternative Yemeni leadership in exile.

Where France Comes In

Although its role is little known to the Western public, Paris is the third largest arms supplier to the UAE and Saudi Arabia for their war efforts in Yemen, ranking just behind the US and UK. In fact, Germany, Spain and Italy have also sold weapons that have been used in the devastating war. Despite criticism, from human rights groups, of French weapons being used by Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to commit war crimes, the sale of weapons has continued from France.

April 15, 2019, French investigative magazine, Disclosepublished an expose on Paris’s role in Yemen’s war. The information presented was based on a leaked French Military Intelligence (DRM) report dating back to September, 2018, clearly proving that the country had sold offensive weapons that were used in civilian areas, a charge that the French government has denied. As far back as June, 2018, credible reports began to emerge that French special forces units were operating on the ground in Yemen, alongside forces belonging to the UAE. Last December, Paris decided to further tighten its relationship with Abu Dhabi, signing its largest ever weapons sale to the UAE, worth 19.23 billion US dollars according to a report from Reuters.

France first turned to the US

France is now desperately in need of alternative energy suppliers to Russia, in order to meet its required needs, fearing that as the winter hits, Moscow may strategically cut off its natural gas completely. As part of NATO, Paris is backing a US-led initiative which seeks to make Russia pay an economic and military price for its offensive in Ukraine, however, this strategy has majorly backfired economically.

US President Joe Biden made two major foreign policy pledges when running for office in 2020, which are relevant to the current French predicament. The first being to revive the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and the second being to find a diplomatic solution to the war in Yemen. Due to the ongoing NATO-Russia conflict, seeking a revival of the Iran nuclear deal has re-emerged on the political agenda of his administration in a major way. Iran, free from sanctions, could become an alternative source to fill the energy needs of Europe in the future, yet it could take some time for this to actually happen.

On the issue of the war in Yemen, Joe Biden pledged as part of his first speech on his government’s foreign policy goals, that he would hold Saudi Arabia to account and seek to find a solution to the crisis in Yemen. However, the war in Ukraine clearly changed his approach to Riyadh, so much so that Washington signaled in the review a decision to not sell offensive weapons to the Saudi government. The US President was heavily criticized by Human Rights Watch for traveling to Saudi Arabia in July.

Despite US attempts to have Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states increase their oil production, none have yet complied in the manner that Washington had hoped for. Specifically in the cases of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it is clear that both are seeking to fast track their journey to diversify their economies. That has meant them hanging onto their strategic reserves of oil and gas, during a global energy crisis, which has made fiscal sense for them. In the cases of Venezuela and Iran, despite the US having seemingly reached out to both, neither seem to be a real replacement to Russia in the near future.

All Bets On Yemen

France is now looking for alternatives on its own. In June, the European Union announced that it had signed an agreement with Israel and Egypt. Under the deal, Israel will send gas through pipelines to Egypt, where it will then be transported to Europe. Although this may work, Tel Aviv does not have the capacity to replace Moscow as Europe’s main supplier of gas. Israel seeks to double its gas output, but in doing so is already running into potential problems over its maritime border dispute with Lebanon and its planned extraction of gas from the ‘Karish field’ in September, considered to be located in a disputed area. Lebanese Hezbollah has even threatened to strike all of Israel’s gas facilities in the event that Beirut is not given a fair deal to access its own resources.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, has attempted to persuade resource rich Algeria to become part of the EU’s solution, also going on a three-day trip to Algiers in order to mend ties. Algeria, which maintains close relations with Moscow, withdrew its ambassador from Paris for three months last year, during a diplomatic row. Macron had accused the Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s government of “exploiting memory” and “rewriting history” of the colonial era and even questioned the legitimacy of Algeria as a State prior to French settler-colonial rule there. Around 1.5 million Algerians were killed in the battle for independence from France, which its resistance eventually managed to win in 1962. The tone of the French president has now dramatically changed from that of last year, with Macron remarking that both nations “have a complex, painful common past. And it has at times prevented us from looking at the future.”

The other major alternative path that France seems to be now seeking, is through its close alliance with the UAE. As mentioned above, it has been clear for some time that Paris has been involved in supplying weapons, logistical support and even boots on the ground to its allies in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, aiding their fight in Yemen. However, it is also clear that the UAE has not been interested in cutting into its strategic oil reserves to meet the demands of Europe.

In July, as President Macron hosted the Emirati President, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in Paris, the French ministry of economy announced a new strategic energy agreement between the UAE and France. An aide to the French president noted that France was eager to secure diesel fuel from the UAE, hinting that the cooperation agreement involving France’s ‘Total Energies’ and the UAE’s ‘ADNOC’ may be linked. Although it is unknown as to what the specifics of the “strategic agreement” are, it has been speculated that the deal could potentially be worth billions.

Then, in August, the UAE-backed STC suddenly began new offensive operations in both the Shabwa and Abyan provinces. It just so happens that the STC forces decided to take over the energy sites in the Shabwa province too. Leading human rights NGOs had urged Paris to keep in mind Abu Dhabi’s human rights abuses in the advent of the signing of the strategic energy agreement, calls clearly not heeded. On August 21st, when UAE-backed forces seized the oil facilities in Yemen’s south, it may have been with the French deal in mind. Yemen’s former foreign minister, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi stated on Twitter that “preparations are being made to export gas from the Balhaf facility in light of increased international gas prices.” This was then followed by an announcement from the parliament of the Sana’a-based National Salvation Government, warning of suspicious movement from both US and French forces.

The key Balhaf facility, in Yemen’s Shabwa province, has reportedly been turned into a base for forces belonging to the UAE, with allegations suggesting that Paris could “provide protection for the facility through the French Foreign Legion.” There are also countless reports of the UAE looting resources from Yemen, which would seem to support the idea that they could be attempting to extract them to send to France. The latest reported looting of Yemen’s resources, from June, quotes Yemeni officials as having alleged that a Gulf Aetos tanker, carrying 400,000 barrels of Yemeni crude oil, had departed from Rudum port and was being operated by the UAE.

What these offensive moves by the STC also mean, is that the Saudi-backed forces in Yemen and Ansarallah will likely also get involved in the combat too. This could mean the dissolution of the ceasefire truce between the two sides, the renewal of the Ansarallah offensive to take the oil rich Marib province from the Saudi-backed forces and the death of any potential peace initiative to end the war.

It is unlikely that Ansarallah will stay silent, if the STC are aiding in the theft of Yemen’s resources for the sake of France. One of the major reasons behind the dramatic escalation of violence last year, was the Ansarallah offensive, launched with the aim of taking out the last northern stronghold of the Saudi-led coalition, Marib. The purpose of taking the resource rich area would be to stop the looting of Yemen’s resources, which according to reports is amounting to the theft of millions of barrels per year. Some sources claim that an unofficial agreement is in place between the US and Saudi governments, to purposefully keep the resources of Yemen away from its people and instead, divert the profits to Saudi banks.

Part of the reason why there was a Yemeni revolution in 2011, then a seizure of power in 2015 by Ansarallah in conjunction with the country’s military, was the popular belief that the past two Presidents of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh and Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, were corrupt. The people of Yemen were fed up with Saleh for a multitude of reasons, primarily that he mismanaged resources, had sold out to the United States and was corrupt. President Hadi was later to be seen as a stooge, controlled completely by the Saudis.

Perhaps the biggest problem here however, is not just that Yemen is a resource rich country, with a starving population, being torn apart by foreign powers, but also that nobody even knows what their governments are involved in. On August 25, then British prime minister, Boris Johnson, stated, about rising energy bills, that “While people are paying energy bills, people in Ukraine are paying with blood”. Yet, it may turn out that for Europe to keep the lights on, the people of Yemen will pay with their blood. Except in this case, the UK, US and France can’t blame that bloodshed on Moscow, this is their own doing.

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the occupied Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News.

September 11, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli naval delegation deployed to Yemen’s Socotra Island

The Cradle | September 2, 2022

Yemeni media reported on 2 September that a delegation of Israeli military experts has been deployed to the UAE-controlled Yemeni island of Socotra, located in the Gulf of Aden.

According to the report, the Israeli team has been on the island for the past few days, and is accompanied by several Emirati intelligence officers.

The report adds that the delegation, who belong to Tel Aviv’s navy, have been carrying out search operations and excavations across Socotra Island.

The island, inhabited by around 60,000 people, overlooks the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab, a major shipping corridor that links the Red Sea to both the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Over the past year, Israel has reportedly been working with its Gulf partner to establish a presence on Socotra.

According to a Yemeni media report from March, the UAE is involved in the development of a construction project to build facilities on the island for the purpose of hosting Israeli soldiers, officers, and other military experts and personnel.

This is allegedly part of a plan to turn the Yemeni island into a center for regional espionage, as well as to increase military control over maritime routes.

Last year, Israel signed an agreement with the UAE, allowing it to establish an intelligence center at the island’s Hadibu Airport.

Israel is also interested in the strategic Yemeni island because it serves as a potential flashpoint for a confrontation with Iran. In 2020, the Washington Institute published an analysis examining how Israeli submarines could potentially strike the Islamic Republic from positions near Yemen.

In January of this year, Socotra Island made headlines due to controversial photos of Israeli tourists who had visited the island under a UAE-issued visa.

In June of 2020, the UAE established control of the island by bribing its tribal authorities.

Former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi described the UAE’s takeover of the island as “a full-fledged coup,” however.

Since the start of the war on Yemen in 2015, the UAE has been an integral part of the Saudi-led coalition, backing mercenary groups across the country and taking part in indiscriminate bombing campaigns.

The Saudi-led coalition, which continues to violate the UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, receives logistical and military support from the US, the UK, France, and most notably Israel.

September 2, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 3 Comments

Katyusha rockets hit Emirati-owned gas complex in Iraqi Kurdistan

Press TV – July 26, 2022

A number of Katyusha rockets have struck a gas complex in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, in the latest attack to target the facility owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) energy firm Dana Gas.

“It is still not yet clear if there was any damage” in the Monday evening attack on the Khor Mor complex, said Ramak Ramadan, district chief of Chamchamal where the facility is located.

The gas complex lies between the northern Iraqi cities of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, in a region administered by Kurdish authorities.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sadiq Mohammed, an official from the adjacent Qadr Qaram district, said in a statement to the Kurdish-language Kurdistan 24 television news network that the attack was carried out using three Katyusha rockets, without causing any casualties.

Other reports said five rockets were used in the attack.

Earlier in June, the Emirati-owned facility was targeted three separate times by rockets that did not cause casualties or damage. No one claimed responsibility for those attacks either.

A Katyusha rocket on June 25 targeted the Khor Mor gas complex.

“The rocket hit around 500 meters outside the complex,” a local official said at the time. There was no immediate claim for the attack.

Katyusha rocket attacks hit the same facility on June 22 and June 17, also without causing casualties or damage.

Energy infrastructure elsewhere in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region has also come under attack in recent months.

Rockets struck the Kawergost refinery, northwest of the regional capital of Erbil, in April and May.

The assaults have come amid a simmering oil dispute between Kurdistan and the federal government in Baghdad.

The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have been in a long-standing dispute over Baghdad’s share of Kurdish petrol, with the Iraqi government demanding full control of the region’s crude for years.

Under a deal between the two sides, the Kurdish region delivers 250,000 of its more than 400,000 barrels of daily oil output to Baghdad, in return for its share of the federal budget.

Over the past years, multiple reports have revealed that Iraqi Kurdistan is secretly selling oil to Israel at heavily discounted prices and that more than two-thirds of the occupying regime’s oil has been imported from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper said in a report in March 2019 that Israel was buying significant amounts of Iraqi oil from certain parties and “mafias” in the Kurdistan region for prices as low as $16 or $17 dollars.

British daily the Financial Times had earlier reported that Israel had obtained 75 percent of its oil supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdistan’s secret dealings with Israel, which also include the region’s reported cooperation with the Israeli spy agency Mossad, come as Iraq’s parliament has recently passed a law making it illegal for the country to ever normalize its relations with the Tel Aviv regime.

The passage of the law cemented the Arab country’s invariable and age-old policy of refusing to recognize the occupying regime.

July 26, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Iran deal can survive if US opts for own interests rather than Israel’s: Foreign Ministry

Press TV – July 20, 2022

Tehran says multilateral negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran deal will be fruitful if the United States looks at the issue through the lens of its own national interests rather than those of the Israeli regime.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani told a press conference on Wednesday that the US seems to be weak when it comes to making “an independent political decision” about whether it is willing to return to the deal, four years after it unilaterally walked away.

“If the US administration [of Joe Biden] looks at this issue through the lens of American national interests and not through the lens of the interests of the occupying Zionist regime, the ground will be paved for an agreement in the near future,” Kan’ani said.

More than a year of negotiations – first in Vienna and now in Doha – have not yet led to an agreement on what steps each side needs to take in order to restore the ailing accord, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The US withdrew from the JCPOA back in 2018 as it unleashed a “maximum pressure” campaign targeting the Iranian economy, despite Tehran’s strict compliance with the terms of the accord.

The Vienna talks, which began in April last year, hit a deadlock in March owing to Washington’s insistence on retaining parts of its sanctions against Iran. The Doha talks, however, have led to different interpretations by the parties to the talks.

“Contrary to the claim of the American side that the Doha negotiations were a failure, they opened up a path for the continuation of talks between the different parties of the nuclear agreement,” Kan’ani said, assessing the negotiations as “good.”

He explained that there is no major obstacle to concluding an agreement, except that the American side has to make a serious political decision.

“On the one hand, the US administration expresses its desire to return to the agreement, and on the other hand, it does not want to pay the costs of returning to the agreement,” the Iranian spokesman added.

‘US, Israel failed to form anti-Iran coalition’

In his Wednesday press conference, Kan’ani also pointed to Biden’s recent trip to the region with the agenda of forming an anti-Iran coalition among other objectives, saying both the US and the Israeli regime failed to achieve that goal.

“The Zionist regime attempted to form a regional coalition during that trip to put pressure on Iran,” he said. “In this effort, this regime has failed and the American government has not succeeded either.”

Biden arrived in the Israeli-occupied territories last Wednesday, kicking off a much-anticipated four-day trip to the region. The regional tour also took the US president to Saudi Arabia, the country he once pledged to make “the pariah that they are.”

Since 2020, the US has brokered normalization agreements under the so-called Abraham Accords between the Israeli regime and some Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan – with Saudi Arabia expected to be the next.

In Saudi Arabia, Biden attended a summit of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, plus Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq – also known as GCC+3. The summit, which was ostensibly aimed to build an anti-Iran front, failed to garner much support.

A day before the summit, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stressed that Iraq will not be part of any camp or military alliance, and “will not be a base for threatening any neighboring countries.”

The UAE, a close ally of both Saudi Arabia and the US, also dismissed the idea of forming a NATO-like military alliance in the region.

“We are open to cooperation, but not cooperation targeting any other country in the region and I specifically mention Iran,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE president’s diplomatic adviser, said.

“The UAE is not going to be a party to any group of countries that sees confrontation as a direction,” Gargash added.

After the summit, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan claimed that his country extends a hand of friendship toward Iran.

He also expressed the kingdom’s willingness to reestablish normal relations with the Islamic Republic.

“The messages we received from Arab officials in the region, both directly and indirectly, show that fortunately, the countries of the region are not ready to act against Iran [and in line with] America’s regional policies,” Kan’ani said.

He then added that conditions are now ripe for Iran to organize and host talks to deepen regional cooperation.

He also urged the US to stop meddling in the internal affairs of regional countries, halt its plots of forming fictitious alliances, and refrain from imposing American values on the region.

Regional countries naturally have common interests and views, he said, adding, “They are capable of creating the best conditions for stability and security in the region in the light of regional meetings.”

July 20, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment