Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Iran can be Trump’s nemesis

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | June 15, 2019

What a coincidence that a leaked document from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) just exposed that the chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria in April, 2018 was most likely staged. In security parlance, it was a false flag operation — stage-managed cunningly to create the alibi for a ‘humanitarian intervention’ by the West in Syria.

As it happened, the US and France did stage a missile strike at Syrian government targets in July that year, alleging that Damascus was culpable for what happened in Douma, ignoring the protests by Russia.

False flag operations are not uncommon, but the US holds a PhD on that genre. The most famous one in modern history was the Gulf of Tonkin incident of August 1964 where the US government deliberately misrepresented facts to justify a war against Vietnam.

Prima facie, there is enough circumstantial evidence to estimate that the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13 has been a false flag operation. The attack on the two tankers with cargo heading for Japan took place just as the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe sat down for the meeting yesterday with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

The fact of the matter is that Abe was on a delicate mission to try to kickstart talks between the US and Iran. It is one of those delicate moments when a slight push can derail or even undermine the nascent move for dialogue. True, in the first round, Khamenei rejected talks with the US. But, as Abe said later, more efforts are needed for easing tensions between the US and Iran.

Therefore, as regards the incident yesterday in the Gulf of Oman, the question to be asked is: Who stands to gain? Most certainly, it cannot be Iran, which has just laid on the table in plain terms what it takes for negotiations to commence between the US and Iran — President Trump abandoning what Tehran calls the US’ ‘economic terrorism’ against it. Khamenei told Abe with great frankness that it is futile to negotiate with the US, which keeps resiling from international agreements. No doubt, Trump has been highly erratic by making overtures to Iran on the one hand and tightening the screw on the other hand. (See my blog Abe’s mediatory mission to Tehran hangs in the balance.)

Simply put, Iran has no axe to grind by undermining Abe’s mission, especially since Japan is the only western power, which, historically speaking, never ever acted against Iran but on the contrary consistently maintained friendly ties and showed goodwill. (Once in 1953, Japan even ignored the British-American embargo against Iran and went ahead to import Iranian oil.)

However, this much cannot be said about certain regional states  — which Iran has called the ‘B Team’ — that are bent on perpetuating the US-Iran standoff and incrementally degrade Iran to a point that a military confrontation ensues at some point in which American power dispatches that country to the “Stone Age”, as the present US National Security Advisor John Bolton once put it.

In this rogues’ gallery, apart from Israel, there is also Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Bolton, of course, is mentored by Israel and it is an established fact that he has received money for services rendered from the Mojahedin-e Khalq, the anti-Iran terrorist group based in France, which espouses the overthrow of the Islamic regime in Tehran.

Iran has sounded warnings in recent weeks, including at the level of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif,  that this ‘B Team’ would at some point stage false flag operations to ratchet up tensions and/ or precipitate a crisis situation, that would in turn prompt Trump to order some sort of military action against Iran.

To be sure, the stakes are very high for Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE if Abe’s mission advances further and the current tensions begin to ease. An added factor for the ‘B Team’ is that time is the essence of the matter. It increasingly seems that Bolton’s job as NSA is in danger. Trump has hinted more than once that he does not subscribe to Bolton’s warmongering. The well-known ex-CIA officer and commentator John Kiriakou wrote this week that the White House has “very quietly and discreetly begun informal meetings with a list of a half-dozen possible replacements for Bolton.” (See the commentary in Consortium News titled JOHN KIRIAKOU: Bolton’s Long Goodbye.) It is crucial for the ‘B Team’ that Bolton keeps his job in the White House. And there is no better way to hold back Trump from sacking his NSA when a crisis situation looms large in the Middle East.

Be that as it may, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that Iran is responsible for the incident in the Gulf of Oman. He claimed in a statement, “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”

Now, doesn’t Israel too have the intelligence capability, weapons and expertise to execute such a false flag operation? Read Pompeo’s statement carefully and its laboured tone gives away that the ex-CIA Director (who recently even bragged openly about the art of lying in diplomacy and politics) was  far from convincing.

So, where’s the beef? Pompeo has instructed that the UN Ambassador Jonathan Cohen raise the matter in the UN Security Council. There is an eerie similarity to what once one of Pompeo’s predecessors as state secretary, Colin Powell did — manufacturing evidence of WMD program by Saddam Hussein to pave the way for the US to invade Iraq.

What needs to be factored in is that the US anticipates that in another fortnight, Iran’s 60-day deadline for the European countries to come up with concrete steps to fulfil their commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal will expire. The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s visit to Tehran last week was a calculated attempt to persuade Iran to accept the stark reality that it must unilaterally fulfil its commitments under the nuclear deal while there is little the EU can do in practical terms to defy the US sanctions. Maas tried to persuade Iran to accept the US’ demand that non-nuclear issues (such as Iran’s missile programme, regional policies, etc.) also be negotiated under a new pact. Quite obviously, the European powers, despite their bravado (in words), are falling in line with Trump’s strategy of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran.

If Iran decides to reject the idea of unilaterally observing the 2015 deal (without any reciprocal acts by the international community), the US and its western allies will want to take the matter to the UNSC to revive the UN’s past (pre-2015) sanctions against Iran. The big question is whether Russia and China would allow such a turn of events. Tehran has categorically denied any involvement in yesterday’s incident. And Iran is playing it cool. President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif left Tehran for Bishkek on June 13, as scheduled previously, to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation summit.    

Meanwhile, the US has made an additional deployment to the region. But then, the US Central Command has also signalled to Tehran in a statement: “We have no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the international community.”

At this point, the logical thing to do will be to insist on an impartial investigation by the UNSC on the incident. But, curiously, no country is willing to bell the cat. Russia, which is usually quick on demanding facts before reaching any definitive opinion on such murky situations, is also not in a hurry to demand investigation. Can it be that everyone understands that this was a false flag operation and could only be Bolton’s last waltz with Netanyahu?

Trump is walking a fine line. He has blamed Iran, but refrained from saying what he proposed to do. The fact remains that a highly dangerous situation is developing in and around the Straits of Hormuz, which is a choke point for oil tankers.

An entanglement with Iran’s Pasdaran is the last thing Trump would want as he plans to announce shortly his candidacy for the 2020 election. The situation is fraught with grave political risks, if one recalls how the Iran crisis spelt doom for Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign in 1980.

Trump has bitten more than he could chew, as the strong rebuke Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei administered to him underscores. Iran may turn out to be Trump’s nemesis.

Read the CNN ‘analysis’ here taunting Trump to walk the talk on Iran.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Probe says ‘state actor’ likely behind attack on tankers off UAE, doesn’t mention Iran – report

RT | June 7, 2019

After the US put the blame squarely on Iran for sabotaging four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a preliminary probe concluded that a ‘state actor’ was likely behind the raid, but made no mention of Iran.

According to reports by Reuters and Bloomberg, preliminary findings from the investigation jointly conducted by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway and presented at an informal UN briefing on Thursday, describe the attack as a complex effort that required significant resources.

The investigators argue that the attackers, who inflicted damage on the tankers, but did not cause casualties or an oil spill, required “high degree sophistication”, precise intelligence and “expert navigation of fast boats” to pick the targets, get in and get out undetected. All of this, they claim, are signs a ‘state actor’ was likely responsible.

This wording allows the countries behind the report, two of which are among the US’ main allies and arms sales clients in the Middle East, to maintain a neutral image without actually contradicting Washington, which accused Iran out of hand.

US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton said last month that the attacks were “almost certainly” perpetrated by Iran, accusing it of planting “naval mines” under the ships. It’s unclear if Bolton’s assertion relied on any intelligence.

The UAE emirate of Fujairah, off the cost of which the attack took place, lies outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway that separates the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The strait is immensely important for oil transportation, with tankers carrying crude from the oil-rich Gulf countries must pass through it.

Previously, Iran threatened to block the oil shipments through the waterway in response to the US’ intent to bring Tehran’s oil exports to ‘zero.’

In a series of sharply escalating moves, the US recently declared Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization, then sent an aircraft carrier group to the Gulf, while signaling a possible massive boost to the number of American troops in the region.

The May 12 attack came at the height of the latest round of tension and targeted four commercial tankers, including two Saudi, one Emirati and one Norwegian ship. Iran has dismissed the accusations against it, calling the Bolton’s statement “ridiculous.”

June 6, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , , | 4 Comments

Defense Cooperation Agreement Between US, UAE Now in Effect – White House

Sputnik – May 29, 2019

The White House issued a press release Wednesday, revealing that US National Security Advisor John Bolton and United Arab Emirates National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA).

“The DCA will enhance military coordination between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, further advancing an already robust military, political, and economic partnership at a critical time,” reads the statement. “The United States and the United Arab Emirates share a deep interest in promoting prosperity and stability in the region.”

“The DCA will advance that interest by fostering closer collaboration on defense and security matters and supporting efforts by both nations to maintain security in the Gulf region,” it adds.

The US also has defense cooperation agreements with Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.

​The latest agreement comes days after the US Defense Department announced that officials from the US and Estonia signed a five-year document to continue a defense cooperation between the two countries through 2024. According to a release from the defense agency, Estonia joins fellow Baltic states Lithuania and Latvia in the move.

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas slams UAE for inviting Israel to Dubai Expo

Palestine Information Center – April 28, 2019

GAZA – The Hamas Movement has strongly denounced the participation of Israel in the 2020 World Expo in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai, describing it as a serious development.

In Twitter remarks, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri urged UAE to backtrack on its decision to invite Israel to participate in the event.

Abu Zuhri said that allowing Israel to participate in Arab events would encourage it to persist in committing more crimes against the Palestinians and usurping the Arab nation’s rights, describing the UAE’s step as “a violation of the decisions taken during the Tunis summit.”

UAE invited Israel to the event despite not recognizing Israel as a state, which comes as another omen of strengthening ties between Tel Aviv and Arab Gulf countries spearheaded by Saudi Arabia among fears that these countries seek to liquidate the Palestinian cause through backing the US deal of the century.

For its part, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu hailed UAE for inviting Israel to the event, describing the participation in the event as “another expression of Israel’s rising status in the world and the region.”

April 28, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments

Canada Gets Cozy with Repressive Middle East Monarchies

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | April 26, 2019

While Justin Trudeau’s government embraces repressive Middle East monarchies, they want us to believe their campaign to oust Venezuela’s government is motivated by support for democracy and human rights.

On a tour of the Middle East last week Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan met his United Arab Emirates counterpart Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi in Abu Dhabi. According to Emirates News Agency, Canadian and UAE officials discussed “cooperation in the military and defence sectors” at a time when the oil rich nation plays a key role in the horrendous violence in Yemen.

The Trudeau government is promoting arm sales to the UAE and other regional monarchies. With support from “15 trade commissioners and representatives from the Government of Ontario, National Defence, Global Affairs Canada, and the Canadian Commercial Corporation”, 50 Canadian arms companies flogged their wares at the Abu Dhabi-based International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in February. To help the arms companies move their wares, Commander of the Bahrain-based Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Darren Garnier, led a Canadian military delegation to IDEX.

During his recent tour Sajjan met King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein in Jordan. He discussed military cooperation with a monarch known for prosecuting individuals for “extending one’s tongue” (having a big mouth) against the King. At the end of March, Trudeau phoned King Abdullah II.

On April 9 the Canadian and Jordanian armed forces broke ground on a road project along the Jordanian-Syrian border. During a ceremony for the Canadian-funded initiative Commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, Lieutenant General Michael Rouleau, said: “this important road rehabilitation project is a tangible example of the close relationship between Jordan and Canada. It will help keep the people of Jordan safe by allowing the Jordanian armed forces to deter, monitor and interdict incursions along the northern border with Syria, which will help to enhance security in Jordan and in the region.”

On his Middle East tour Sajjan also met Kuwait’s Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who is part of a family that has ruled for 250 years. According to the Kuwait News Agency, Canada’s defence minister “stressed deep relations between Kuwait and Canada and pointed out mutual willingness to bolster and consolidate bilateral ties.”

Earlier in the month finance minister Bill Morneau and Parliamentary Secretary Omar Alghabra participated in the inaugural Kuwait and Canada Investment Forum. At the time Alghabra wrote, “let’s celebrate and continue our efforts to grow the relationship between Canada and Kuwait in investments, trade and defence.”

Military ties with Kuwait are important because the Canadian forces have a small base there. In December the Canadian Navy took command of Combined Task Force 150 from their Saudi counterparts. Canada also has a small number of troops in the monarchies of Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar.

Last month Canada’s Ambassador to Qatar Stefanie McCollum boasted of growing relations between the countries, claiming “our values structures are very similar.” In an interview with Al Bawaba the Canadian diplomat also said Ottawa is seeking to deepen business ties with the natural gas rich monarchy and that the two countries are in the final stage of signing a defence cooperation agreement.

Notwithstanding the diplomatic spat last summer, the Trudeau government has mostly continued business as usual with the most powerful and repressive monarchy in the region. Recently foreign minister Chrystia Freeland looked the other way when Saudi student Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi fled Canada — presumably with help from the embassy — to avoid sexual assault charges in Cape Breton. While Freeland told reporters that Global Affairs was investigating the matter, Halifax Chronicle Herald journalist Aaron Beswick’s Access to Information request suggests they didn’t even bother contacting the Saudi embassy concerning the matter.

According to an access request by PhD researcher Anthony Fenton, Freeland phoned new Saudi foreign minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf in January. In briefing notes for the (unannounced) discussion Freeland was encouraged to tell her counterpart (under the headline “points to register” regarding Yemen): “Appreciate the hard work and heavy lifting by the Saudis and encourage ongoing efforts in this regard.”

Despite their devastating war in Yemen and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia continues to receive large shipments of Canadian weaponry. 2018 was a record year for Canadian rifle and armoured vehicle sales to the Saudis. $17.64 million in rifles were exported to the kingdom last year and another $1.896 million worth of guns were delivered in February. In the first month of this year Canada exported $367 million worth of “tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles” to the Saudis.

As Fenton has documented in detail on his highly informative Twitter handle, armoured vehicles made by Canadian company Streit Group in the UAE have been repeatedly videoed in Yemen. Equipment from three other Canadian armoured vehicle makers – Terradyne, IAG Guardian and General Dynamics – was found with Saudi-backed forces in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition used Canadian-made rifles as well.

On Tuesday the Saudis beheaded 37 mostly minority Shiites. Ottawa waited 48 hours — after many other countries criticized the mass execution — to release a “muted” statement. The Trudeau government has stayed mum on the Saudi’s recent effort to derail pro-democracy demonstrations in Sudan and Algeria as well as Riyadh’s funding for Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s bid to seize Tripoli by force.

The close and friendly relationships between the Trudeau government and repressive Middle East monarchies demonstrates how little the Liberals care about democracy abroad and illustrates the hypocrisy of Canada’s claims that its efforts to oust Venezuela’s government is all about supporting democracy.

Yves Engler is the author of 10 books, including A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Exploitation.

April 27, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

France seeks source of damaging leak on Yemen war

Press TV – April 25, 2019

French authorities have been searching for a government employee who they believe has leaked damaging information about France’s role in the Saudi-led war on Yemen to the media, a report says.

In mid-April, the new investigative media outlet Disclose published a report that contained a classified 15-page note from the French military intelligence service (DRM) revealing that the two Arab countries had deployed French weaponry in their aggression against Yemeni.

The leaked note, which was provided to the government in October 2018, contained lists of French-manufactured tanks, armored vehicles, fighter jets, helicopters, howitzers, ammunition, and radar systems sold to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The use of French weapons in Yemen contradicts previous public statements from Paris, which has repeatedly asserted that these weapons are used only in a limited manner and in “defensive” operations only. Back in January, French Armed Forces Minister Francoise Parly said during an interview on the France Inter radio station that she was “not aware that any (French) arms are being used in this conflict.”

Citing unnamed informed sources on Wednesday, AFP reported that an investigation into the “compromise of national defense secrecy” had been opened by prosecutors on December 13 last year after a complaint by the ministry of the armed forces.

The AFP report did not say when the note was leaked.

The sources also said that France’s domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, was leading the probe, which concerned the compromise of information involving a government employee and a third party.

Disclose disagrees

Disclose argued that the note was “of major public interest.”

“The confidential documents revealed by Disclose and its partners are of major public interest, that bring to the attention of citizens and their representatives what the government wanted to conceal,” AFP quoted an editorial for Disclose and its partners as saying.

Additionally, Geoffrey Livolsi, the founder of Disclose, said at least three journalists who had taken part in the preparation of the website’s investigative report had been called in for a hearing to be conducted by the DGSI in May.

“This judicial investigation has only one objective: to know the sources that allowed us to do our job. It is an attack on the freedom of the press and the protection of the sources of journalists,” he said.

The French weapons in action

The report revealed that Leclerc tanks, a main battle tank built by the Nexter, and Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets sold in the 1990s to the UAE were being used in the war on Yemen.

Furthermore, 48 CAESAR artillery guns, manufactured by the Nexter group, were being used along the Saudi-Yemen border by the Saudi-led coalition.

Nexter Systems is a French state-owned manufacturer of weapons, based in Roanne, Loire.

According to the DRM document, French-made Cougar transport helicopters and the A330 MRTT refueling plane have been seen in action, and two French ships are serving in the crippling blockade of Yemeni ports which has led to unprecedented food and medical shortages in impoverished Yemen.

The classified note also contained a map estimating that over 430,000 Yemenis live within the range of French artillery weapons on the Saudi-Yemeni border. It further estimated that French weapons have resulted in civilian casualties.

France, the third-biggest arms exporter in the world, is a large provider of various kinds of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The French government has so far resisted pressure from rights groups to stop the lucrative arms trade with the two Persian Gulf countries, denying that the weapons were being used against the Yemenis.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies, most notably the UAE, launched the devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the war has so far claimed the lives of about 56,000 Yemenis.

Apart from France, the United States, Britain, and other Western countries have faced criticism over arms sales to the Saudi regime and its partners.

April 25, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , | 4 Comments

UAE minister says Israel boycott was wrong, time for Arab world to change strategy

Press TV – March 29, 2019

A senior official in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has called on Arab nations to change their decades-long strategy of having no diplomatic relations with Israel, which he brands as a mistake.

Anwar Gargash, the tiny Persian Gulf regime’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said that the Arab world needed a “strategic shift” in its ties with the regime in Tel Aviv.

“Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” he told the UAE-based news website The National.

“The strategic shift needs actually for us to progress on the peace front,” said Gargash, who also believed that the boycott of Israel has made finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more complicated.

“From the perspective of the UAE, we do need to resolve it, because this issue has this tendency of jumping out of the background when it’s quiet to suddenly becoming headline news.”

Among the Arab countries, the governments of Egypt and Jordan are the only ones having formal diplomatic ties with Israel.

The call for open ties with Israel comes after US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories.

Israel occupied the area during the Six-Day War with Arab armies in 1967 and went on to annex the East Jerusalem al-Quds. The international community has condemned both moves and repeatedly called on Israel to give back the territories.

Trump, however, recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital” in December 2017 and moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city in May last year, sparking global condemnations.

Israel lays claim to the whole city, but the Palestinians view it as the capital of their future sovereign state. The city has been designated as “occupied” under international law since it fell to Israel.

The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, are known to have secretly developed expansive ties with Tel Aviv over the past years.

Israeli media reported in late January that UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the country’s national security adviser had paid a not-so-secret visit to Israel with a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.

The trip came a few days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a tour of regional countries in a bid to unite Arab countries and the Israeli regime against Iran.

In an interview with Fox News on January 4, Pompeo was asked about an unofficial anti-Iran alliance between the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

“Undoubtedly. We have set the conditions in the Middle East where these countries are now working together across multiple fronts,” Pompeo said.

The outgoing chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, reportedly made two secret visits in November to the United Arab Emirates, where he met with senior officials.

In June, the New Yorker magazine reported that Israel had maintained a secret but extremely close relationship with the UAE for more than two decades, with a special focus on intelligence sharing and military cooperation, including potential weapons deals

.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Report: Egypt plan to lift siege requires disarmament of Gaza

MEMO | March 22, 2019

An Israeli report said that Egypt has put forward a plan for a settlement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Israel Hayom newspaper reported on Thursday that “according to security sources in Egypt and Palestinian officials in Gaza and Ramallah, Israel and Egypt have become convinced that Hamas’s control in Gaza is a self-evident fact.”

Israel Hayom quoted Egyptian security sources and Palestinian officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It explained that the Egyptian proposal stated that they would disarm the factions – except for light weapons – in exchange for lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip.

According to this plan, all internal affairs will remain in the hands of Palestinian organisations headed by Hamas or a unified political entity for all organisations in the Strip. The internal security of the Gaza Strip will be based on “Hamas National Security Forces, which are currently operating.” The arms that will be in possession of the Internal Security Forces will be light weapons, in small quantities and subject to a strict control system.

In turn, the Israeli and Egyptian siege on the Gaza Strip will be lifted, according to the newspaper. Also, projects in the areas of infrastructure, employment, economy, health and education, financed by the United Nations, the European Union and Arab countries, “led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE,” will be implemented. The plan calls for the opening of a maritime route to the Gaza port, which will allow in the first stage the export and import of goods directly to the Gaza Strip.

The newspaper asserted that “these parties have succumbed to the fact that the Palestinian Authority will have difficulty in regaining control in the Gaza Strip, whether after an internal Palestinian reconciliation, or because of the collapse of Hamas rule against the backdrop of the grave humanitarian situation, or because of the continued military confrontation with Israel.”

According to the newspaper, Egyptian sources stated that the Israeli policy towards the Strip is “soft,” and that this stems from Israel’s unwillingness to allow the “Hamas regime” to collapse and in anticipation that in the event of Hamas’s collapse, “extremist groups loyal to Iran or Salafist groups similar to Daesh will enter” to fill the vacuum.

The newspaper further said that estimates in Israel and Egypt indicate that “such a settlement can be implemented within three to five years, but the main obstacle is that Hamas and other Palestinian armed factions will oppose disarmament.”

Quoting sources it described as officials in Ramallah, the newspaper added that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO leadership would agree to “overthrow” Hamas and the factions in Gaza “only in case it led such a process when the control of Gaza is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.”

The newspaper asserted that US security bodies obtained a draft of the plan which was formulated by Israeli and Egyptian crews. It quoted an Egyptian security official saying: “We are currently waiting for the new government to be elected in Israel to speed up the process; while the goal after the Israeli elections is the entry of other influential Arab countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE.”

The Egyptian security official added that “if Abu Mazen and the leadership in Ramallah do not put obstacles, the plan can be put into effect with the full cooperation of all the regional actors and through providing guarantees and assistance by the international community. But, it is estimated that there will be strong opposition to the disarmament plan of the Gaza Strip by the PLO and mainly by the armed factions in Gaza.”

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sayyed Houthi: Arab Media Campaigns against Hezbollah Result of Normalization with ‘Israel’

Al-Manar | March 3, 2019

The leader of the Houthi Ansarullah revolutionary movement, Sayyed Abdul Malik al- Houthi, on Sunday stressed that the Warsaw conference was a mere announcement of normalizing ties between some Arab regimes and the Zionist entity at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

Sayyed Houthi stressed rejection of this normalization, considering that the Zionist occupation in any Arab area targets the entire Umma.

The Zion-American schemes aim at creating a new enemy for the Arabs he said, adding that media campaigns launched by some Arab regimes against Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance is the direct result of normalizing ties with the Israeli entity.

Stressing that the Zionist entity is directly involved in the aggression on Yemen, Sayyed Al-Houthi reiterated the Yemeni’s support to the major causes of the Umma.

Yemen has been since March 25, 2015 under aggression by the Saudi-led coalition, which also includes UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, in a bid to restore power to fugitive former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been injured and martyred in Saudi-led strikes, with the vast majority of them being civilians.

However, the allied forces of the Yemeni Army and popular committees established by Ansarullah revolutionaries have been heroically confronting the aggression with all means.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr Bolton’s Long Game Against Iran – Pakistan Becomes Saudi Arabia’s New Client State

By Alastair CROOKE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.02.2019

The Wall Street Journal has an article whose very title – Ambitions for an ‘Arab NATO’ Fade, Amid Discord – more or less, says it all. No surprise there at all. Even Antony Zinni, the retired Marine General who was to spearhead the project (but who has now resigned), said it was clear from early on that the idea of creating an “Arab NATO” was too ambitious. “There was no way that anybody was ready to jump into a NATO-type alliance,” he said. “One of the things I tried to do was kill that idea of a Gulf NATO or a Middle East NATO.” Instead, the planning has focused on ‘more realistic expectations’, the WSJ article concludes.

Apparently, “not all Middle Eastern nations working on the proposal, want to make Iran a central focus – a concern that has forced the US to frame the alliance as a broader coalition”, the WSJ recounts. No surprise there either: Gulf preoccupations have turned to a more direct anxiety – which is that Turkey intends to unloose (in association with Qatar) the Muslim Brotherhood – whose leadership is already gathering in Istanbul – against Turkey’s nemesis: Mohammad bin Zaid and the UAE (whom Turkish leadership believes, together with MbS, inspired the recent moves to surround the southern borders of Turkey with a cordon of hostile Kurdish statelets).

Even the Gulf leaders understand that if they want to ‘roll-back’ Turkish influence in the Levant, they cannot be explicitly anti-Iranian. It just not viable in the Levant.

So, Iran then is off the hook? Well, no. Absolutely not. MESA (Middle East Security Alliance) maybe the new bland vehicle for a seemingly gentler Arab NATO, but its covert sub-layer is, under Mr Bolton’s guidance, as fixated on Iran, as was ‘Arab NATO’ at the outset. How would it be otherwise (given Team Trump’s obsession with Iran)?

So, what do we see? Until just recently, Pakistan was ‘on the ropes’ economically. It seemed that it would have to resort to the IMF (yet again), and that it was clear that the proximate IMF experience – if approved – would be extremely painful (Secretary Pompeo, in mid-last year, was saying that the US probably would not support an IMF programme, as some of the IMF grant might be used to repay earlier Chinese loans to Pakistan). The US too had punished Pakistan by severely cutting US financial assistance to the Pakistani military for combatting terrorism. Pakistan, in short, was sliding inevitably towards debt default – with only the Chinese as a possible saviour.

And then, unexpectedly, up pops ‘goldilocks’ in the shape of a visiting MbS, promising a $20 billion investment plan as “first phase” of a profound programme to resuscitate the Pakistani economy. And that is on top of a $3 billion cash bailout, and another $3 billion deferred payment facility for supply of Saudi oil. Fairy godmothers don’t come much better than that. And this benevolence comes in the wake of the $6.2 billion, promised last month, by UAE, to address Pakistan’s balance of payments difficulties.

The US wants something badly – It wants Pakistan urgently to deliver a Taliban ‘peace agreement’ in Afghanistan with the US which allows for US troops to be permanently based there (something that the Taliban not only has consistently refused, but rather, has always put the withdrawal of foreign forces as its top priority).

But two telling events have occurred: The first was on 13 February when a suicide attacker drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a bus that was transporting IRGC troops in the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran. Iran’s parliamentary Speaker has said that the attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was “planned and carried out, from inside Pakistan”. Of course, such a provocative disruption into Iran’s most ethnically sensitive province may mean ‘nothing’, but perhaps the renewed inflow of Gulf money, fertilizing a new crop of Wahhabi madrasa in Pakistan’s Baluch province, may be connected – as IRCG Commander, General Sulemani’s stark warning to Pakistan suggests.

In any event, reports suggest that Pakistan, indeed, is placing now intense pressure on the Afghan Taliban leaders to accede to Washington’s demand for permanent military bases in Afghanistan.

The US, it seems, after earlier chastising Pakistan (for not doing enough to curb the Taliban) has done a major U-turn: Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

General Votel, the head of Centcom told the US Senate Armed forces Committee on 11 February, “If Pakistan plays a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the US will have opportunity and motive to help Pakistan fulfill that role, as peace in the region is the most important mutual priority for the US and Pakistan.” MESA is quietly proceeding, but under the table.

And what of that second, telling occurrence? It is that there are credible reports that ISIS fighters in the Deir a-Zoor area of Syria are being ‘facilitated’ to leave East Syria (reports suggest with significant qualities of gold and gemstones) in a move to Afghanistan.

Iran has long been vulnerable in its Sistan-Baluchistan province to ostensibly, secessionist factions (supported over the years by external states), but Iran is vulnerable, too, from neighbouring Afghanistan. Iran has relations with the Taliban, but it was Islamabad that firstly ‘invented’ (i.e. created) the Deobandi (an orientation of Wahhabism) Taliban, and which traditionally has exercised the primordial influence over this mainly Pashtoon grouping (whilst Iran’s influence rested more with the Tajiks of northern Afghanistan). Saudi Arabia of course, has had a decades long connection with the Pashtoon mujahidin of Afghanistan.

During the Afghan war of the 1980s and later, Afghanistan always was the path for Islamic fundamentalism to reach up into Central Asia. In other words, America’s anxiety to achieve a permanent presence in Afghanistan – plus the arrival of militants from Syria – may somehow link to suggest a second motive to US thinking: the potential to curb Russia and China’s evolution of a Central Asian trading sphere and supply corridor.

Putting this all together, what does this mean? Well, firstly, Mr Bolton was arguing for a US military ‘hub’ in Iraq – to put pressure on Iran – as early as 2003. Now, he has it. US Special Forces, (mostly) withdrawn from Syria, are deploying into this new Iraq military ‘hub’ in order, Trump said, to “watch Iran”. (Trump rather inadvertently ‘let the cat out of the bag’ with that comment).

The detail of the US ‘hub encirclement’ of Iran, however, rather gives the rest of Mr Bolton’s plan away: The ‘hubs’ are positioned precisely adjacent to Sunni, Kurdish, Baluch or other Iranian ethnic minorities (some with a history of insurgency). And why is it that US special forces are being assembled in the Iraqi hub? Well, these are the specialists of ‘train and assist’ programmes. These forces are attached to insurgent groups to ‘train and assist’ them to confront a sitting government. Eventually, such programmes end with safe-zone enclaves that protect American ‘companion forces’ (Bengahazi in Libya was one such example, al-Tanaf in Syria another).

The covert element to the MESA programme, targeting Iran, is ambitious, but it will be supplemented in the next months with new rounds of economic squeeze intended to sever Iran’s oil sales (as waivers expire), and with diplomatic action, aimed at disrupting Iran’s links in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

Will it succeed? It may not. The Taliban pointedly cancelled their last scheduled meeting with Pakistani officials at which renewed pressure was expected to be exerted on them to come to an agreement with Washington; the Taliban have a proud history of repulsing foreign occupiers; Iraq has no wish to become ‘pig-in-the middle’ of a new US-Iran struggle; the Iraqi government may withdraw ‘the invitation’ for American forces to remain in Iraq; and Russia (which has its own peace process with the Taliban), would not want to be forced into choosing sides in any escalating conflict between the US, Israel and Iran. Russia and China do not want to see this region disrupted.

More particularly, India will be disconcerted by the sight of the MESA ‘tipping’ toward Pakistan as its preferred ally – the more so as India, likely will view (rightly or wrongly), the 14 February, vehicle-borne, suicide attack in Jammu-Kashmir that resulted in the deaths of 40 Indian police, as signaling the Pakistan military recovering sufficient confidence to pursue their historic territorial dispute with India over Jammu-Kashmir (perhaps the world’s most militarised zone, and the locus of three earlier wars between India and Pakistan). It would make sense now, for India to join with Iran, to avoid its isolation.

But these real political constraints notwithstanding, this patterning of events does suggest a US ‘mood for confrontation’ with Iran is crystalizing in Washington.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Telling Only Part of the Story of Jihad

By Daniel LAZARE | Consortium News | February 21, 2019

A recent CNN report about U.S. military materiel finding its way into Al Qaeda hands in Yemen might have been a valuable addition to Americans’ knowledge of terrorism.

Entitled “Sold to an ally, lost to an enemy,” the 10-minute segment, broadcast on Feb. 4, featured rising CNN star Nima Elbagir cruising past sand-colored “Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected” armored vehicles, or MRAPs, lining a Yemeni highway.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” she says. “And this is not under the control of [Saudi-led] coalition forces. This is in the command of militias, which is expressly forbidden by the arms sales agreements with the U.S.”

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she adds. “CNN was told by coalition sources that a deadlier U.S. weapons system, the TOW missile, was airdropped in 2015 by Saudi Arabia to Yemeni fighters, an air drop that was proudly proclaimed across Saudi backed media channels.” The TOWs were dropped into Al Qaeda-controlled territory, according to CNN. But when Elbagir tries to find out more, the local coalition-backed government chases her and her crew out of town.

U.S.-made TOWs in the hands of Al Qaeda? Elbagir is an effective on-screen presence. But this is an old story, which the cable network has long soft-pedaled.

In the early days of the Syrian War, Western media was reluctant to acknowledge that the forces arrayed against the Assad regime included Al Qaeda. In those days, the opposition was widely portrayed as a belated ripple effect of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings elsewhere in the region.

However, in April-May 2015, right around the time that the Saudis were air-dropping TOWs into Yemen, they were also supplying the same optically-guided, high-tech missiles to pro-Al Qaeda forces in Syria’s northern Idlib province. Rebel leaders were exultant as they drove back Syrian government troops. TOWs “flipped the balance,” one said, while another declared: “I would put the advances down to one word – TOW.”

CNN reported that story very differently. From rebel-held territory, CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh described the missiles as a “possible game-changer … that may finally be wearing down the less popular side of the Shia-Sunni divide.” He conceded it wasn’t all good news: “A major downside for Washington at least, is that the often-victorious rebels, the Nusra Front, are Al Qaeda. But while the winners for now are America’s enemies, the fast-changing ground in Syria may cause to happen what the Obama administration has long sought and preached, and that’s changing the calculus of the Assad regime.”

Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and The New York Times all reacted the same way, furrowing their brows at the news that Al Qaeda was gaining, but expressing measured relief that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was at last on the ropes.

But now that Elbagir is sounding the alarm about TOWs in Yemen, CNN would do well to acknowledge that it has been distinctly more blasé in the past about TOWs in the hands of al Qaeda.

The network appears unwilling to go where Washington’s pro-war foreign-policy establishment doesn’t want it to go. Elbagir shouldn’t be shocked to learn that U.S. allies are consorting with Yemeni terrorists.

U.S. History with Holy Warriors

What CNN producers and correspondents either don’t know or fail to mention is that Washington has a long history of supporting jihad. As Ian Johnson notes in “A Mosque in Munich” (2010), the policy was mentioned by President Dwight Eisenhower, who was eager, according to White House memos, “to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect” in his talks with Muslim leaders about the Cold War Communist menace.” [See “How U.S. Allies Aid Al Qaeda in Syria,” Consortium News, Aug. 4, 2015.]

Britain had been involved with Islamists at least as far back as 1925 when it helped establish the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and both the U.S. and Britain worked with Islamists in the 1953 coup in Iran, according to Robert Dreyfus in “Devil’s Game” (2006).

By the 1980s a growing Islamist revolt against a left-leaning, pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan brought U.S. support. In mid-1979, President Jimmy Carter and his national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, armed the Afghan mujahideen — not at first to drive the Soviets out, but to lure them in. Brzezinski intended to deal Moscow a Vietnam-sized blow, as he put it in a 1998 interview.

Meanwhile, a few months after the U.S. armed the mujahideen, the Saudis were deeply shaken when Islamist extremists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca and called for the overthrow of the royal family. While Saudi Arabia has been keen to repress jihadism at home, it has been a major supporter of Sunni extremists in the region, particularly to battle the Shi‘ite regime that came to power in Tehran, also in 1979.

Since then, the U.S. has made use of jihad, either directly or indirectly, with the Gulf oil monarchies or Pakistan’s notoriously pro-Islamist Inter-Services Intelligence agency. U.S. backing for the Afghan mujahideen helped turn Osama bin Laden into a hero for some young Saudis and other Sunnis, while the training camp he established in the Afghan countryside drew jihadists from across the region.

U.S. backing for Alija Izetbegovic’s Islamist government in Bosnia-Herzegovina brought al-Qaeda to the Balkans, while U.S.-Saudi support for Islamist militants in the Second Chechen War of 1999-2000 enabled it to establish a base of operations there.

Downplaying Al Qaeda

Just six years after 9/11, according to investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, the U.S. downplayed the fight against Al Qaeda to rein in Iran  – a policy, Hersh wrote, that had the effect of “bolstering … Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, policy toward Al-Qaeda turned even more curious. In March 2011, she devoted nearly two weeks to persuading Qatar, the UAE and Jordan to join the air war against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, only to stand by and watch as Qatar then poured hundreds of millions of dollars of aid into the hands of Islamist militias that were spreading anarchy from one end of the country to the other.  The Obama administration thought of remonstrating with Qatar, but didn’t in the end.

Much the same happened in Syria where, by early 2012, Clinton was organizing a “Friends of Syria” group that soon began channeling military aid to Islamist forces waging war against Christians, Alawites, secularists and others backing Assad. By August 2012, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the [anti-Assad] insurgency”; that the West, Turkey, and the Gulf states supported it regardless; that the rebels’ goal was to establish “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria,” and that “this is exactly what the supporting powers want in order to isolate the Syrian regime….”

Biden Speaks Out

Two years after that, Vice President Joe Biden declared at Harvard’s Kennedy School:

“Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria… The Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” (Quote starts at 53:25.)

The fact that Obama ordered the vice president to apologize to the Saudis, the UAE and Turkey for his comments provided back-handed confirmation that they were true. When TOWs turned up in the hands of pro-Qaeda rebels in Syria the following spring, all a senior administration official would say was: “It’s not something we would refrain from raising with our partners.”

It was obvious that Al Qaeda would be a prime beneficiary of Saudi intervention in Yemen from the start. Tying down the Houthis — “Al Qaeda’s most determined foe,” according to the Times — gave it space to blossom and grow. Where the State Department said it had up to 4,000 members as of 2015, a UN report put its membership at between 6,000 and 7,000 three years later, an increase of 50 to 75 percent or more.

In early 2017, the International Crisis Group found that Al Qaeda was “thriving in an environment of state collapse, growing sectarianism, shifting alliances, security vacuums and a burgeoning war economy.”

In Yemen, Al Qaeda “has regularly fought alongside Saudi-led coalition forces in … Aden and other parts of the south, including Taiz, indirectly obtaining weapons from them,” the ICG added. “… In northern Yemen … the [Saudi-led] coalition has engaged in tacit alliances with AQAP fighters, or at least turned a blind eye to them, as long as they have assisted in attacking the common enemy.”

In May 2016, a PBS documentary showed Al Qaeda members fighting side by side with UAE forces near Taiz. (See “The Secret Behind the Yemen War,” Consortium News, May 7, 2016.)

Last August, an Associated Press investigative team found that the Saudi-led coalition had cut secret deals with Al Qaeda fighters, “paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment, and wads of looted cash.” Saudi-backed militias “actively recruit Al Qaeda militants,” the AP team added, “… because they’re considered exceptional fighters” and also supply them with armored trucks.

If it’s not news that U.S. allies are providing pro-Al Qaeda forces with U.S.-made equipment, why is CNN pretending that it is? One reason is that it feels free to criticize the war and all that goes with it now that the growing human catastrophe in Yemen is turning into a major embarrassment for the U.S. Another is that criticizing the U.S. for failing to rein in its allies earns it points with viewers by making it seem tough and independent, even though the opposite is the case.

Then there’s Trump, with whom CNN has been at war since the moment he was elected. Trump’s Dec. 19 decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria thus presented the network with a double win because it allowed it to rail against the pullout as “bizarre” and a “win for Moscow” while complaining at the same time about administration policy in Yemen. Trump is at fault, it seems, when he pulls out and when he stays in.

In either instance, CNN gets to ride the high horse as it blasts away at the chief executive that corporate outlets most love to hate. Maybe Elbagir should have given her exposé a different title: “Why arming homicidal maniacs is bad news in one country but OK in another.”

February 22, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas: Warsaw summit serves Israel only

Hazem Qasem
Palestine Information Center | February 15, 2019

GAZA – Hamas’s spokesman Hazem Qasem on Thursday said that the US-led Warsaw conference serves the interests of Israel only.

Qasem said in a brief statement that the US administration seeks to integrate Israel into the regional community and liquidate the Palestinian cause.

“Warsaw conference portrays Iran as the most dangerous enemy instead of the Israeli occupation, which will lead to more divisions in the Middle East. All this is a free service offered by the US administration to Netanyahu,” he added.

Qasem pointed out that Warsaw conference is a thinly-veiled attempt by Israel and the US to pass the so-called Deal of the Century.

The conference will be attended by representatives from dozens of countries including Arab countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the UAE.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment