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Hassan Nasrallah: Resistance victorious in Gaza, Syria & Iraq, Hezbollah Ready to fight Saudi-US Coalition in Yemen

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on June 29, 2018

[…] Regarding the situation in the Middle East, I also have some issues to address, in a quick and synthetical way as well.

The first point is the Palestinian issue. It is clear that the developments, as we say in the Lebanese political language, the advances (meant to prepare the success) of the ‘Deal of the century’ began to be implemented with force. [Jared] Kushner has roamed the region for a long time, as well as Trump’s special envoy (in order) to (prepare) the peace initiative, what is known as the peace initiative. It is clear that serious US and Israeli efforts to ensure the success of the ‘Deal of the century’ are actively deployed. It is no longer empty words, mere expectations of journalists or such. We may be very close to the official US announcement on this agreement and on this really infamous step.

This is why at the stage where we are, all political leaders and all people who care about the Palestinian cause must of course follow these movements and developments to see what can be done (to neutralize them), and this, according to me, on several fronts.

Today, it is through this prism that we must consider what is happening in Palestine, as well as what is happening in the region, what has happened and is happening in Jordan, and also, as regards Lebanon, the disputes about the border, discussions on the Shebaa Farms (occupied Lebanese territory), on land and sea borders (with Israel): sometimes, these issues are not related to the ‘Deal of the century’, but sometimes they fit into what is known as the ‘Deal of the century’, and we must then be more careful and precise about it, of course with the strong commitment of all Lebanese to recover all their territories and get all their rights over our territorial waters.

Similarly, what is happening in Syria, when we will discuss it in the next step, we must consider it partly in this context, along with the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the continued pressure on Iran, whether political pressure, psychological warfare, economic pressure, threats of sanctions, the fact that Iran and Iranian oil (are embargoed) worldwide… All this, we must interpret it within one frame, the frame of the major US project in our region today, to which they will give (absolute) priority, ie the ‘Deal of the century’ which means the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

This project should be followed closely and with vigilance, and that’s why everyone concerned must think about what to do, how they will fight, face and resist, and we already talked about it in detail (it is important that no Palestinian sign this agreement).

Also on the Palestinian issue, we must pay tribute, especially now, during these hours (of Friday afternoon), to all the men, women, young and elderly who gather (massively) on Friday afternoon on the border strip which separates Gaza from the remainder of Palestine occupied in 1948. These demonstrations of the March of Return prove the determination and perseverance of the Palestinians, and the continuity of this determination and of this (Resistance) movement. Because during all the past weeks, as should know those who follow these events, Israel has made every possible effort in psychological warfare, security pressure, mobilizing all its military and security capabilities towards the Gaza Strip, up to striking the young throwing kites, in addition to various regional pressures on the Palestinians to get them to despair and make them give up the March of Return. The March of Return represents a great challenge which is one of the few remaining opportunities for the Palestinian people.

And the third point is that we must pay tribute to the courage and boldness of the leadership of the Resistance in Gaza, the leaders of the (different) factions of the Resistance, and to the audacity and courage of the Resistants who demonstrated, during these last days and in recent weeks, that the equation of retaliation against any aggression was well in place.

This Israel who thinks he can bomb and kill (with impunity), and in return, he will not suffer any retaliation whatsoever, the Palestinian Resistance, during the past few days, has passed that stage and demonstrated the reality of this equation. We can truly say that they have demonstrated it, and this is the result of their boldness, their courage and their wise and just planning.

Anyway, whether it be the confirmation of this equation, the support to the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, for the March of Return to continue, or a firm stand alongside the Palestinian people to deal with concrete measures being implemented today for the ‘Deal of the century’, everyone must assume his responsibility for everything that was said during the last weeks and months.

My second point about the regional situation is Syria. I have two points about it.

First point, the developments in southern Syria in recent days and today. I was in contact with the brothers (from Hezbollah) present there just a few moments ago, and (I can confirm that) the data that you hear in the media (on the dazzling success of the Syrian Arab Army) are true, and what is not public yet is even more important.

All data indicate a total collapse of the armed groups, which are completely abandoned by their (popular) base, in case they ever had one, with a strong impetus of the people to return to the State and to the bosom of the State, as has been expressed by a large number of towns and villages. And it may even be that data confirms that it is not only the western part of the Deraa region (whose liberation) must end today or tomorrow, but the entire southern region, whether in Deraa or Quneitra: all armed groups are in a state of collapse and defeat, and there are no prospects for more fighting (from them).

And anyway, the data also indicate that many of these (armed) groups have begun to review their calculations and to head towards the search for agreement and reconciliation. And in this region, only the darkest and the most obscurantist part controlled by ISIS will remain, whose fate (defeat) will in any way be clear and inescapable during the next step.

In a nutshell, in the south of Syria, we are facing a significant development and a great victory against all the armed organizations that were led and protected by the United States, and assisted and supported by Israel, those organizations who received all possible forms of support from some regional countries.

And what is happening in southern Syria, and happened in recent weeks in Manbij with the Kurdish-Turkish-American question, has many major and eloquent evidences of which we will talk (in detail) another time, because I do not have time today. And I believe it is in our interest that the battle in southern Syria comes to an end first before we talk about this evidence and these lessons of which we must all benefit in the light of this great decisive battle that is being waged in Syria for over 7 years.

The second point about Syria is that at the Syrian-Iraqi border, just a few days ago, enemy aircraft struck positions of factions of the Iraqi Resistance that operated there. The faction that was targeted is the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, which suffered many martyrs and wounded. Of course, this is an important and dangerous event, even if some may think (wrongly) that it is (already) in the past and that there will be no consequences.

First, I would like to extend to the families of those noble and dignified martyrs my congratulations (for the blessings and honor conferred by) this martyrdom and my condolences for the loss of loved and beloved ones, as well as to my brothers, dear and beloved leaders of the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq and all their mujahedeen (fighters). And we also have to extend our congratulations and condolences to all the factions of the Resistance in Iraq to honor their martyrs, because martyrs of each faction are the martyrs of all.

And I would also like to take this opportunity to thank them for all their assistance and support in Syria (to fight terrorists). In Iraq, there is no doubt that all these factions, gathered behind the Hachd al-Cha’bi (popular mobilization), have had a real and important role of auxiliary force in defeating ISIS, the obscurantism of ISIS, the darkness and barbarism of ISIS, and the international and regional powers that stand behind ISIS. But ultimately, in Iraq, they were defending themselves, their holy places, their people and their nation. We must remember the jihad (struggle) of these Iraqi brothers, their sacrifices, their martyrs, their wounded, their perseverance, determination and presence in Syria, which continue until today, especially those who are present at the border between Syria and Iraq, to eradicate the last throes of life in this monstrous body shaped by the United States and Israel in the region and called ISIS. And we thank them for the extent of their support, their help and their presence, because as we have said during these 7 years, the battle in Syria is not only the battle of Syria, but it is the battle of Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, the Middle East and the future of this region.

Also, our brothers in the Hezbollah Brigades and in the rest of the factions of the Iraqi Resistance announced that they are investigating to ascertain which part (USA? Israel?…) hit these positions and caused so many martyrs and wounded, and that when the identity of this part shall be established with certainty, the attackers will be punished. This is a wise and natural position, and we pledge our support for any decision that these Resistant factions of Mujahideen (fighters) will make.

Yes, dear and noble brothers, yes, I declare to all peoples of the region: to our brothers in Palestine, in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Yemen, across the whole region. Wherever the Resistance is struck and its blood is shed unjustly in acts of aggression, this aggression must not remain unanswered, without retaliation and without punishment. Because our enemies only understand this logic. This is what experience teaches us.

We can not count on either international law or on any moral principle, whether in Yemen, Palestine and in all that is happening in the region, and even in the United States. The image of immigrant children separated from their fathers and their mothers, their isolation clearly shows the monstrous reality of President Trump and his administration. Then they backed off because of pressure, but it does not change the truth of his being. If people could see the true face — in religious terms, we speak about the appearance of the (Divine) Kingdom (the reality of our soul, to be unveiled in the afterlife) —, the true appearance of Trump, they would see a ferocious beast (instead of a human being). Who can do such things?

Anyway, we are in a region and in a world where if we do not defend our people, if we do not avenge our martyrs, if we do not chastise our enemies, their aggression will never cease. If we remain inactive in front of this aggression, it will happen again and again, and we will suffer more attacks and lose many more martyrs and wounded.

I hope that by the grace of God, our brothers from the Hezbollah Brigades and other factions of the Iraqi Resistance will quickly manage to establish the identity of the aggressors and to take the (retaliation) measures they deem necessary. It is their decision that no one can impose on them.

Hezbollah is ready to fight Saudi-US coalition in Yemen

I will address my final point about the regional situation, (Yemen), through (what was reported by) the media in recent days.

A few days ago, what we used to refer to as the Arab alliance, and is now referred to as the Saudi-Emirati alliance, but for our part we refer to it as the Saudi-American aggression against Yemen, the forces of the Saudi-American aggression against Yemen… These forces announced two news items, broadcasted by (official Saudi) channel Al-Arabiya, some Arab satellite channels, [Western news agencies & mainstream media] and also some Lebanese media have followed suit, considering these news sources as very reliable.

The first is that because of the bombing in a specific region of Saada, Hezbollah would have lost 8 martyrs, including commanders of Hezbollah. At the same time, they announced another piece of information – do consider these two pieces of information (together) – according to which 8 Hezbollah members were captured. That is to say that the liar who disseminates these news items claimed at one point that 8 members of Hezbollah were killed, and at another time said they were taken prisoner. 

Anyway, after a few hours, they backtracked on the announcement of 8 prisoners, to which they preferred the announcement of 8 martyrs, because if there were prisoners, they should show them on television. And with certainty if there were prisoners, now or in the past…

You know that in recent years, in recent months, they have repeatedly claimed that they had captured a Hezbollah or Iran members (in Yemen), etc., good for them. Some time ago, they considered that they had got hold of a gem and made a fuss claiming they captured an Iranian in a region of Yemen. But it was later revealed that it was simply a Pakistani worker who had come to work in Yemen to earn his livelihood, and they got confused, being unable to distinguish Urdu from Persian.

Anyway, the information concerning prisoners died out of itself, and they stopped talking about it, but during 48 hours, they have not stopped talking about the martyrdom of eight Hezbollah members, including several commanders. I want to comment this information (to draw lessons) for both the past and the future, and I will also say a few words about the situation in Yemen.

First, throughout the past period, and until today, for various reasons and interests, we have not disclosed if we had a presence in Yemen or not. We have not addressed this issue. It is true that one day, I clearly said that we did not send fighters to Yemen, because our brothers in Yemen do not need fighters. Is there something else (counselors, military aid…)? We do not confirm it nor deny it, due to a number of interests. That’s the first point.

Second, whether we are present or not (in Yemen), I categorically deny this information that there would be martyrs of Hezbollah in Yemen, not during these last days nor during the past years.

Third, this is not the first time that the Saudi media evoke (falsely and without any evidence) Hezbollah martyrs or prisoners in Yemen.

Fourth, if we assume that one day this happens, and that members of Hezbollah are martyred in Yemen, I tell you frankly that we would not hide it, we would not be ashamed of it: on the contrary, we would be very proud and honored, and we would raise our head high because of these martyrs, if this was to happen one day. And on the contrary, we consider that we do not have to be ashamed if Hezbollah members fall martyrs in Yemen. We should rather be ashamed if we do not bring them the necessary assistance, if we do not provide what we hope or even dream of offering to the Yemeni mujahideen (fighters) and to the oppressed people of Yemen.

Therefore, let no one imagine that in Yemen or elsewhere (we hide our martyrs). If we have a martyr in Iraq, we acknowledge it. If we have a martyr in Syria, we acknowledge it. If a brother is arrested anywhere in Egypt or elsewhere, as has happened in the past, we are never ashamed of our actions, and we do not abandon our martyrs nor our prisoners. We are proud of them, proud of what they do, and we always declare it publicly. (I say this) as a basis for the future.

And so this question does not require that whenever news are spread about Hezbollah alleged martyrs or prisoners, the media contact us to get our denial. As long as we have not published a press release, that we have not talked ourselves of our martyrs to take pride in them, it means that there was nothing of the sort, and any such (propaganda) is fundamentally false and does not even need to be denied (as far as we are concerned). Let it be an established base for the future.

Fifth, about the situation in Yemen, anyway, they may have needed (false) information of this type that could go along the press campaign of Saudi media and of all those who are with them, whether the American media, the Gulf, etc, through recent weeks. Because what we have seen during the Battle of Hodeida, at the airport, around the town and in adjacent villages, and on the west coast of Yemen, is two scandals (humiliations). We witnessed two disgraces. A military disgrace in the field, and a media disgrace following military disgrace on the battlefield.

Regarding the military disgrace on the battlefield, for months, the United States and even, unfortunately, some European countries participating in this aggression – information evoke British, French and other Western countries’ participation – alongside the forces and states of the (Saudi) coalition, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the group of Abd Rabbo Mansour, mercenaries from all around the world, aviation, a huge number of military vehicles, tanks and armored vehicles (were preparing for an attack). Military vehicles seem even more numerous than the soldiers themselves, from what we see on television. The preparations took place for months, and a fierce psychological warfare, pressures, bribery, intimidation, terror…

And despite all that, when they went down to the battlefield, they suffered a humiliating defeat. A defeat in every sense. And what happened on the western coast of Yemen in recent weeks and so far is actually, even by military standards, truly miraculous. Because the fighting there takes place between on the one hand the most powerful aviation, extremely powerful intelligence agencies, leading-edge technical and technological equipment, experienced commanders, mercenaries, armies, forces, against a fighting people with modest abilities, but with enormous faith and considerable confidence in God the Almighty and Exalted.

These Resistants are, truly, from what we saw in this fight, an incarnation of (the recommendations of Imam Ali to his son before the Battle of the Camel): “Plant your feet firmly on the ground. Lend your head to God (be ready for the ultimate sacrifice). Mountains may move from their position (because of the multitude of enemies), but you should not move from yours.” They are a model (of courage and victorious Resistance).

And that is why I am one of those who can talk about this in full knowledge because me and my brothers have a similar experience. We know what war is, we know what it is to fight against a powerful aviation, violent, ferocious, having unlimited direct capabilities, we know what Resistance, endurance and perseverance are.

And that’s why when considering the war in Yemen, and especially this last experience on the west coast, in Hodeida Airport and everything around this region, me, all my brothers and any Resistant in the world and anyone who knows the military equations and has military experience, we must bow our heads with respect and humility before these fighters, these Resistants, these heroes and their wise, courageous, firm and steadfast leaders. This is the truth, this is not an exaggeration, I do not aim to cheer, no.

And I say to these fighters: myself, with others, I am embarrassed not to be at your side. In my heart, when I see videos (of the fighting) on ​​TV, these heroic acts, this legendary endurance, I keep telling myself: “If only I could be with you.” And I know that all my (Hezbollah) brothers feel exactly the same. And any dignified man in this world thinks the same thing: “If only we could fight alongside you. If only we could be with you. If only I could be one of your fighters, under the banner of your noble and courageous leader.” This is the truth. This faith and determination have inflicted this defeat (to the Saudi-US alliance).

And this is a great lesson that adds itself to the lessons of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Iraq. This is a lesson to all Arab and Muslim peoples: through faith, perseverance and determination, relying on the people and the brave, faithful and noble youth, we can face the most powerful tyrants, the most powerful armies and the most powerful arrogant bullies of this world, armies and security forces.

And there is also the media scandal: how many times have they said they took and occupied Hodeida Airport? But they could not provide any pictures, while we could see every day videos showing the presence of leaders of AnsarAllah (Houthis attacked by Saudi Arabia) in the airport. How many times have they said that they had arrived inside the city, inside the harbor before it was revealed that they did nothing of the sort?

Weeks of lies to the peoples of the region, the Saudi people, the people of the Gulf countries, the peoples of the world, before it was revealed that these victories had no reality outside the Al-Arabiya channel, nothing more, nothing less. And this is the yardstick with which we must measure the credibility of these media [Western press agencies & mainstream media included] that are completely detached from reality, both for Yemen and for everything else. [Such an AFP report was deleted but still appears in cache]

Along these lines, we must also add our voice and our thanks to the new Malaysian government, the new head of the Malaysian government, Mahathir Mohamad, and to the government and to the Malaysian Defense Minister who announced yesterday the withdrawal of Malaysia from this infamous alliance. And we hope that the rest of the Muslim and Arab countries, at least, will follow suit.

And I particularly call on the Sudanese President, the government of Sudan, the Parliament of Sudan and the people of Sudan. It is sad, really sad that the forces of the Sudanese army fight alongside those tyrants. It is truly appalling that the forces of the Sudanese army are engaged in a battle alongside the US, the West, the takfiris, Israel, allied to Saudi Arabia and others. It’s really disgraceful. Sudan, which had a significant presence and a strong commitment to the causes of the region, the Palestinian cause, many causes of the (Muslim) Community. I also insist on Sudan because of the spectacle of young Sudanese who are abandoned in the deserts, valleys and mountains of Yemen, without protection, without defense and without any support or assistance. Why are they killed? For what cause are they dying?

Anyway, we call for this and we hope that all (the countries of the Saudi coalition) will reconsider things (and withdraw). And we hope that the experience of the last battle on the western coast and all these open frontlines will allow Saudi Arabia, the UAE and those who stand by their side to learn the lesson, and understand that they face a people who will never surrender, who has a very high capacity of Resisting and shaping victories, that your battle has no horizon, and that you must answer all Yemeni, Arab, Muslim and international calls to end the war and aggression, to declare a cease-fire and direct you towards dialogue and national reconciliation, and to save Yemen and the Yemeni people, all the people of Yemen, all the tribes of Yemen and all Yemeni political forces of the consequences of this devastating and destructive war.

I’ll stop there, and as for the rest, if necessary, I will speak shortly.

May the peace of God be upon you, and His mercy and His blessings.

Translation: unz.com/sayedhasan (RSS)

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July 10, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia and UAE Return to Afghanistan

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.07.2018

The 17-year old Afghan war is entering a new phase, as the Pentagon co-opts as allies the two Gulf Arab states that used to be the Taliban regime’s friend, guide and philosopher in the 1990s – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It’s a double whammy for Pentagon – sheikhs usually carry moneybags, and secondly, the exasperating war is getting outsourced.

A conference of the ulema (religious scholars) drawn from 30 Muslim countries is taking place in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina on July 9-10. The host is notionally the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), who is not known to act except at the bidding of Saudi Arabia.

The agenda is to issue a fatwa effectively de-legitimizing the Taliban’s ‘jihad’, sowing seeds of ideological disarray amongst the insurgents and encouraging defection from their ranks. The tantalizing idea to hold such conferences in various Muslim countries was an American brainwave, which took shape during the visit by US Defence Secretary James Mattis to Riyadh in February when he sought a proactive Saudi role in Afghanistan after a prolonged period of absence since 2001.

Mattis reached an understanding with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the latter’s visit to the US in end-March. Alongside, Washington hosted a meeting in March of top security officials of the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Afghanistan to draw up a coordinated strategy whereby NATO will also be inducting Emirati military contingents to join the operations against the Taliban. Kabul has duly given formal approval.

Prima facie, all this is packaged as a new resolve on the part of the two Gulf Arab regimes to fight international terrorism. This is the first time that the Emiratis will be wading into the killing fields of the Hindu Kush. It is a poignant moment since Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the only two countries (other than Pakistan) to recognize the Taliban regime in the 1990s.

Curiously, this time around, their compass is reset to counter the Taliban’s expansion in Afghanistan. But appearances can be deceptive in the Hindu Kush. A deep American game plan could be unfolding with multiple objectives in view.

The US commanders cannot be unaware that if the stalemate in the war cannot be broken and sooner rather than later, a clamor will begin in Washington to disengage from the futile war and withdraw troops.

But then, they visualize open-ended military presence and preservation of the bases in Afghanistan as imperative for the US’ global strategies.

Hence the innovative approach to try to fragment the Taliban and buy off the reconcilable elements through the Saudis and Emiratis. The Saudi imprimatur is useful, given the prestige of the office of the Custodian of Holy Places. The UAE is already a battle-scarred veteran of hybrid wars.

Of course, there are sub-plots. It is a masterstroke that the OIC stamp is put to de-legitimize the Taliban’s ‘jihad’. This will put Pakistan in some quandary, but that is also the US intention. The Taliban has reacted strongly to the conference in Mecca and Medina, branding it as another “absolute anti-Islamic” plot by Washington, which has not only mooted this idea but also handled “logistical support and implementation”.

A Taliban statement on July 7 said, “The US wants through these conferences to find justification for their military occupation, legitimize their stooge Kabul Administration and thus weaken the Jihadic resistance of Afghan Muslim nation being put up against them. But, Americans and their allies should understand that as they have failed in fighting, political sphere and in the field of propaganda, likewise, Allah, the Almighty will stymie this scheme of invaders as well.”

It will be interesting to see how the Emirati special forces hunt down Taliban fighters under NATO supervision. On a broader plane, though, the Gulf regimes’ formal partnership with the NATO’s war carries much symbolism.

The disconcerting part of this new American enterprise is that the very same Gulf states, which have been responsible for fuelling the Syrian conflict, are being cast in a revamped role in a new theatre where the Islamic State of Khorasan is steadily expanding its presence. Ironically, Afghanistan is beckoning both the fighters who were defeated in Syria and their mentors for new adventures.

No doubt, Washington hopes to pit the two Gulf Arab regimes against Pakistan with a view to pressure the latter to cave in to the American demand to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Although the kinship between the Saudi regime and Pakistani ulema is deep-rooted, there is only scant representation from Pakistan at the conference in Saudi Arabia. On July 5, Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman rejected the US call that Pakistan should take “sustained and decisive action” to bring the Taliban to peace talks.

Equally, it is in US interest to trigger a vicious proxy war on Afghan soil between these two Sunni Arab states and Iran, which fits in perfectly with Washington’s containment strategy against Tehran. The Islamic State’s Afghan wilayat, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan, is an enigma wrapped in mystery. But that may not remain so for long if Iran enters the fray.

NATO has been notably passive toward the vanquished IS fighters from Syria regrouping in Afghanistan. There have been accusations that NATO’s remarkable passivity reflected a deliberate policy to justify its long-term occupation of Afghanistan. All in all, therefore, the return of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in a newfound role to weaken the Taliban looks an ominous development for regional security and stability.

July 10, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US-Backed Forces Claim to “Liberate” Yemenis, Instead Rape Detainees

By Randi Nord | Mint Press News | June 23, 2018

The so-called “liberators” in Yemen are sexually and physically torturing detainees at secret prisons. Survivors recall disturbing stories laden with gruesome interrogation tactics for extracting false confessions. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen attempts to portray themselves as the bearers of freedom and reason.

As an ally of the United States’ “counter-terrorism” operation in Yemen, the United Arab Emirates established 18 prisons throughout territory under their control. An ongoing investigation from the Associated Press has so far identified instances of deranged sexual torture at five of these facilities. The Emirati headquarters in Yemen houses one of such facilities where witnesses have seen American soldiers.

The United States provides the United Arab Emirates with billions in weapons, and military equipment through the Saudi-led coalition and counter-terror operations in Yemen. Washington also has ground troops in Yemen assisting and training Emirati forces.

Americans use Emiratis as gloves to do their dirty work,” at a prison in Mukallah told the Associated Press.

Two additional prison security officials said Americans were at all locations.

Witnesses say Emirati soldiers, mercenaries, and paid Blackwater mercenaries frequently raped detainees while others filmed the act. Other sexual torture includes electrocuting or hanging rocks from detainees’ testicles and sodomy with wooden or steel poles. The goal is to extract confessions.

They strip you naked, then tie your hands to a steel pole from the right and the left so you are spread open in front of them. Then the sodomizing starts,”  said one man, a father of four.

Survivors told reporters about a mass torture event on March 10 at the Beir Ahmed prison in UAE-occupied Aden. Soldiers pulled hundreds of prisoners out of their cells, ordered them to disrobe, and searched their anal cavity looking for cell phones or contraband. One witness proclaimed, “Do you believe this! How could anyone hide a phone in there?” If anyone did not follow through with orders, soldiers threatened them with vicious dogs.

The detainee who drew the photos in the Tweet below spent time in at least three different prison centers.

They tortured me without even accusing me of anything. Sometimes I wish they would give me a charge so I can confess and end this pain,” he said. “The worst thing about it is that I wish for death every day and I can’t find it,” he said.

Unbelievable Hypocrisy

The Saudi-led coalition includes about 34 different countries from around the world. Many people don’t realize the scope of the war against Yemen. Even nations that tend to stay out of other major conflicts like Morocco, Sudan, Eritrea, and Croatia provide the Saudi coalition with military or logistic support.

The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Canada provide the bulk of the Saudi-coalition’s military support.

Considering that the available evidence linking Iran to Yemen’s resistance, Ansarullah (the “Houthis”), remains inconclusive, this is clearly a world war against Yemenis. Saudi Arabia launched this war in March of 2015 to reinstate their puppet government of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi who had already resigned from protests.

Throughout the course of this war, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States have championed themselves as “liberators.” If anyone was fooled into believing a ragtag gang of head choppers and child killers were the “good guys” in this scenario, these torture prisons filled with rape should help change that perception.

Also throughout the course of this war, the Saudi coalition has peddled nonstop — and in most cases false — anti-Ansarullah (Houthi) propaganda about detaining journalists and activists. Of course, the stories about Ansarullah granting amnesty to political prisoners don’t fit the official Saudi narrative so they tend to not make headlines.

This story about rape at the secret prisons broke just as the United Arab Emirates launched their operation to take Hodeidah port from Ansarullah (indigenous Yemeni) forces. France sent special forces to assist the Saudi-UAE coalition. At this point, despite all the military might in the world behind them, coalition efforts to occupy Hodeidah remain unsuccessful.

The Saudi coalition that Ansarullah uses Hodeidah port to import Iranian weapons and military equipment under the front of aid. However, all ships entering the port must first dock at Djibouti or a neighboring port for inspection from the coalition themselves.

Experts say anywhere from 250,000 to 600,000 could die in operation “Golden Victory” to take Hodeidah port. Rough estimates put the casualty toll in Yemen at over 36,000 between killed and injured. Tens of thousands more have died from the Saudi-imposed and U.S.-enforced blockade which restricts land, sea, and air imports exports and the flow of movement.

The blockade has put between 18 and 22 million on the brink of famine and triggered a cholera epidemic completely unprecedented in modern times.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

UAE activist Mansoor given 10-year jail term for anti-government posts

Press TV – May 31, 2018

The United Arabs Emirates (UAE) has handed down a 10-year prison sentence to prominent rights activist Ahmed Mansoor on charges of using his social media accounts to criticize the ruling system.

Mansoor, who had no access to lawyers during his trial, was found guilty and sentenced to jail by an appeals court in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, local media reported.

The pro-democracy activist was also fined one million dirhams, about $272,000, and given three years post-release probation.

The court, however, cleared the campaigner of terrorist-related allegations.

Mansoor, an electrical engineer and poet was arrested on March 20 last year after authorities accused him of using social media platforms Twitter and Facebook to “publish false information and rumors, spread tendentious ideas that would sow sedition, sectarianism and hatred and harm national unity and social peace, as well as harming the state’s reputation and inciting disobedience.”

The activist, who was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, remained in solitary confinement for more than a year.

Since 2006, the blogger has campaigned for freedom of expression, civil and political rights in the UAE.

In 2011, he was convicted of “insulting officials” and sentenced to three years in jail, but he was released after serving eight months, but was stripped of his passport and not allowed to leave the country.

In 2016, it was also revealed that UAE authorities paid $1 million for Israeli software allowing them to hack Mansoor’s cellphone.

Rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, condemned the sentencing, saying it lays bare the UAE’s inability “to tolerate the mildest of criticisms from a genuine reformer.”

May 31, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | | 1 Comment

UAE Deploys Forces on Yemeni Socotra Island

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.05.2018

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has landed its forces on the Yemeni island of Socotra, situated some 240 km. (150 mi.) from the Horn of Africa and roughly 350 kilometres (220 mi) off the Arabian Peninsula.

The surprise operation was launched on May 2. The troops are accompanied by armored vehicles. This military presence is growing. The soldiers have taken control of key elements of the island’s infrastructure, including the sea and airports.

The landing was conducted without the approval of either the Yemeni government or the local authorities. The move is clearly an affront to Yemeni President Abed Hadi, who is officially a UAE ally in the ongoing war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Abu Dhabi is a key partner in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that has been fighting Houthi rebels since 2015. Hadi’s government, which officially controls Socotra, views the landing as an act of aggression. The deployment could mark the end of Yemen’s alliance with the Arab Emirates.

The UAE has established a zone of influence in southern Yemen, which includes the port of Aden, known as the southern gate of the Red Sea. There have been reports that Abu Dhabi is  building a military airstrip on Yemen’s Mayun (Perim) island, which is also located near the strait. It controls Aden’s airport as well. The UAE is forming militias that will operate under its control on Yemeni territory.

Uncorroborated reports have surfaced claiming that Abu Dhabi plans to force Socotra to secede from Yemen and join the UAE. Recently the federation has been investing heavily in southern Yemen in order to garner popular support.

No Houthi military units have ever been sighted on the island that would justify this deployment by the Emirates. One must surmise that expansion is the real goal of the operation. Once it has annexed Socotra and southern Yemen, the UAE will become much bigger and more important, thus boosting its regional and global clout. Yemen is rich in oil and gas reserves and the reason for Abu Dhabi’s interest is obvious. Previously the federation had made attempts to gain control of oil and gas fields in the provinces of Shabwah, Ma’rib, and Hadhramaut.

This military presence in Socotra will make it possible to establish control over the shipping lanes that connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. It brings to mind the famous phrase of Alfred Thayer Mahan “Whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene.” Socotra is crucial for controlling the shipping to and from Iran, the sworn enemy of Washington and Abu Dhabi. And war appears to be on the horizon.

A year ago, Washington and Abu Dhabi signed a landmark defense cooperation agreement to expand their military partnership. The deal includes provisions for moving US forces to Emirati territory and patrolling vital sea lanes in the Arabian Gulf and along the African coast. The UAE is the second-largest buyer of American weapons in the world and lately has been getting more frequent green lights to purchase the most sophisticated systems the US has to offer.

Both nations have a long history of participating in joint military operations. It will be no surprise if one day the news of a US military presence on Socotra were to hit the media’s headlines. In March 2017, the commander of the UAE navy visited the US to discuss a range of issues, including the creation of the Emirati shipbuilding industry. It’s hard to imagine that the impending landing operation on Socotra was not an issue on that agenda.

Evidently the deployment is part of a broader plan to force the rollback of Iran and reshape the region. And that’s not limited to Yemen. A military base is being constructed in Berbera, Somaliland by the UAE, to the chagrin of Somalia’s government in Mogadishu. Somaliland is a self-proclaimed state that has separated from Somalia. It is not recognized internationally, but the UAE provides training for its military. The federation has also been increasing its naval presence in Eritrea.

The Socotra operation coincides with other signs of a wider looming conflict. For instance, the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group commenced combat operations in Syria on May 3. Fighting the Islamic State? Not at all. It doesn’t take an aircraft carrier to get rid of the jihadists’ token presence that still remains in Syria. The military operations are being combined with diplomatic efforts to diminish Russia’s influence in Syria and the Middle East.

Hadi’s government in Yemen is recognized internationally. This deployment of military forces took place without Yemen’s approval, which means that the UAE has flagrantly violated international law. And the US will be flouting it too, if it sends troops. Yemen is going to complain to the United Nations about the occupation of Socotra. Washington has slammed Crimea’s unification with Russia despite the fact that a referendum was held there in which the people were allowed to express their own will. Will it likewise strongly condemn the UAE for occupying Yemeni territory and attempting to annex it to the Emirates without any legal grounds to do so? Hopefully it won’t be long before this issue makes it onto the agenda of the UN Security Council.

May 7, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Dubai firm commissioned Qatar-smearing film from American who made fake news for Iraq war

RT | April 28, 2018

When Gulf states cut ties with Doha in 2017 over its alleged support of terrorism, tensions were aided by a Dubai firm that hired a man to create an anti-Qatar video. That same man also led a US propaganda project in Iraq.

Charles Andreae is the owner of the firm Andreae & Associates, which was contracted in August 2017 to produce a six-part film linking Qatar with global terrorism, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed. The Dubai-based strategic communications firm Lapis Communications, which is owned by an Afghan-Australian entrepreneur, gave Andreae more than $500,000 to produce the video.

The brief given to Andreae’s firm was to produce “six multimedia products focused on an investigation into the role of the state of Qatar and the state’s connection to global terrorism.” It was commissioned as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were intensifying an international campaign against Qatar over its alleged links to terrorism.

News of the contract emerged in a recently filed lobbying declaration with the US Department of Justice. American companies such as Andreae & Associates are required by law to disclose information on lobbying and PR work for foreign clients.

The film, titled ‘Qatar: A Dangerous Alliance,’ included conservative pundits discussing Qatar’s links to Islamist groups, as well as bits of news and archive footage. Copies of the video were distributed at an event at the Hudson Institute think tank in October. Among the keynote speakers at that event were US President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, former defense secretary Leon Panetta, and former CIA director David Petraeus. So far, the documentary has been viewed more than 700,000 times on YouTube and is also available on Amazon.

In addition to Andreae’s involvement in making the film, he also registered as a lobbyist with the US Senate on Qatar-US relations on behalf of Lapis in January. But Andreae’s questionable actions didn’t begin with Qatar.

Andreae was also responsible for running the Washington end of a Pentagon propaganda contract in Iraq, which he did when he was working for the British public relations firm Bell Pottinger. Although the campaign details were known in 2016, Andreae’s involvement was only confirmed to the Bureau by Bell Pottinger co-founder Tim Bell last week.

That project, which has a $500 million contract with the Pentagon, consisted of running secret operations during the Iraq War. Bell Pottinger answered to the US commander in Iraq and created fake local news reports and smeared Iran. It also put together Al-Qaeda propaganda videos, planted them in people’s homes, and tracked who viewed them.

Neither Andreae & Associates nor Lapis Communications has responded to RT’s request for comment.

Read more:

Qatar govt. must send troops to Syria or lose US support and be toppled – Saudi FM

April 28, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The idea of replacing the US contingent in Syria with Saudi troops is doomed to failure

By Dmitry MININ | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.04.2018

The White House has had a hot new idea – to leave Syria but also stay there at the same time by deploying an Arab contingent to US military bases, primarily from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). So to Arabize one of the bloodiest wars of our time in keeping with the bitter memory of Vietnamization.

It seems that the plan was worked out during the almost month-long stay of Saudi Arabia’s defence minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in America. And the plan’s existence was announced on 17 April by Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, during a joint press conference with the UN secretary general, António Guterres. Following the missile attack on Syria, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, reiterated that President Donald Trump still wants an early withdrawal of US troops from the country. The introduction of a Saudi contingent in their place seems to Washington to be in the interests of the United States. And the US government has not just suggested to Saudi Arabia that it replace the American contingent, but to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as well. They would take a back seat to the Saudis, however. There is also talk of these regimes providing money to rebuild Syria’s destroyed north. It seems they wouldn’t just be counting on military force, but on “buying” the local population as well.

It does raise a question, of course: have the Americans asked the Syrian government or its own allies – the Kurds and, at the very least, Turkey, Russia and Iran – about the desirability of such a replacement? No, of course they haven’t. Even while withdrawing, the US is unable to forget about its “exclusivity”. For many reasons, however, the idea of replacing Americans with Arabs is doomed to failure.

That Damascus will resolutely resist the proposed reoccupation of its territory by the forces of a “fraternal country” is obvious. It can only lead to more fighting and a rise in regional tensions. Almost as well-equipped as the Americans, the Saudis will never be a worthy opponent of the battle-hardened Syrian army. They have already shown what they’re capable of in the endless war in Yemen, where barefoot Houthis are inflicting one embarrassing defeat after another. Riyadh’s intention to fight a “decisive battle” against Iran on foreign soil will not be realised, either. With its ally Iraq behind it, Tehran would soon have the advantage.

All in all, not a single one of Syria’s neighbours is in favour of the arrival of Saudi troops to replace the Americans except Israel. Iraq is categorically against the idea, since it wants to avoid having to deal with an upsurge in fighting between Sunnis and Shi’ites on its borders. Turkey has no need for the Saudis either, because they would undermine its influence in the Ankara-controlled area of northern Syria. Suffice it to say that the nearly 30,000 troops now under Turkey’s wing from Eastern Ghouta, which was recently liberated by government troops, have been on Riyadh’s payroll for the entire war. Turkey has every reason to fear that Saudi Arabia will use these and other groups to assert its dominance over the area. Libya is also against the appearance of Saudi Arabia on the Syrian stage, fearing that clashes between Sunnis and Shi’ites will move to within its own borders. Even Jordan, which is dependent on Washington and London, is weary of the initiative. As a pragmatic politician, King Abdullah II of Jordan has a good idea of all the possible negative repercussions of such an undertaking.

The proposals have also been criticised by Egypt, which has completely ruled out its involvement in their realisation. Mohammad Rashad, a senior official in Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, expressed himself in no uncertain terms: “The Egyptian Armed Forces are not mercenaries and cannot be leased or ordered by foreign states to deploy in a certain area.” Rashad continued: “This is not acceptable. No one should dare to direct or give orders to Egypt’s army.” The statement is an indirect response to an appeal by the US president’s new national security advisor, John Bolton, to the head of Egypt’s intelligence services, Abbas Mustafa Kamil, inviting Cairo to be involved in the project.

Just as many problems await the Saudis in and around the area of their proposed location. To begin with, the Kurds from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who control the area with the help of the US will certainly not welcome their arrival. It would mean the Kurds giving up control of the local Arab population in favour of the incoming contingent and losing most of the power they have won. It is quite possible that the Americans are secretly pushing for a scenario in which, as well as Arabization, there will also be a “dekurdization” of northern Syria, but at someone else’s hands. Then it would seem as if they are not betraying the Kurds, while calming Arab national feelings and ironing out differences with the Turks at the same time. Don’t think that the Kurds will remain passive bystanders in this situation, however. Chances are they will occupy the vacated US bases and refuse to let anyone in. It is even possible they will finally realise that, in the current situation, the most sensible course of action to resolve the Kurdish national question would be an alliance with Damascus. For the time being, Damascus is prepared to extend the rights of Kurds, but should they find themselves on the losing side later on, their window of opportunity will gradually close.

And for Saudi Arabia, a direct clash with the Islamic State (IS), which, according to the official version, is the terrorist group that the Saudis must go to Syria to fight, could prove fatal. The truth is that many of the IS militants still fighting in Syria are mujahideen from Saudi Arabia and their ability to indoctrinate their fellow countrymen should not be underestimated. It could happen that any direct contact between the Saudi contingent and IS militants will eventually extend the latter’s influence to the Kingdom, something that the Islamic State has long dreamed of. In the countries of the Persian Gulf, there are already some who think it would perhaps be better to hire Sudanese nationals, Pakistanis or some other poor souls for the operation.

The new plan for America to save face in the Middle East is just as chimerical as all of America’s previous attempts at a global reorganisation of the region. The outcome of Arabization will not be any better than the outcome of Vietnamization was all those decades ago. And this will continue to be the case until Washington starts taking into account the positions of all interested parties, including Damascus.

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yemen: Peace On The Horizon

By Andrew KORYBKO – Oriental Review – 02/03/2018

The Houthis and the former President of South Yemen introduced somewhat similar peace proposals for ending the War on Yemen.

The first move in this direction was made during last week’s Valdai Conference on Russia’s role in the Mideast, when Ali Naser Mohamad, who presided over the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen from 1980-1986, issued an 8-point plan for resolving the conflict in which his most unique suggestion was to “initiate a dialogue between all the political forces on the establishment of a two-region federal state.” This was clearly in reference to the Southern Transitional Council’s (STC) seizure of Aden, their former capital, from Hadi’s government at the end of January after the internationally recognized leader refused to reform his Cabinet and reportedly ordered that force be used against the protesting Southerners.

Federalization has long been thought of as a “compromise” between wartime allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the first of which began the war in order to reinstall Hadi as Yemen’s President while the latter is thought of having a favorable approach towards the Southern separatists.

As for the Houthis’ proposal, it interestingly mirrored most of what the former South Yemeni leader proposed, albeit with its own nuances. Both sides want an end to the war, new elections, and UNSC support, though they seem to differ over some technicalities. Whereas the South wants a federal solution, the Houthis importantly suggest that all contested issues be decided by a referendum, with the implication being that it would be a nationwide one where the more populous North would have the electoral power to reject any regional-centric proposal put forth by the South. The issues of South Yemen’s autonomy and the country’s corresponding constitutional reform to legalize this desired status seem to be the primary difference between each party’s peace proposals.

In the stalemated military situation that defines the present day, neither side is able to enforce their will on the other, but the most important observation is that the political will for peace invariably exists in the territories that used to comprise the independent countries of North and South Yemen.

Extrapolating from this, it can be deduced that each of their populations are completely exasperated by this war, especially the majority of the country that resides in the North and has been forced to endure the insufferable humanitarian consequences of the coalition’s war against the Houthis for over three years now. Likewise, presuming that the former South Yemeni President was speaking in a semi-official capacity and “testing the waters” at Valdai, the conclusion can be reached that the STC is “moderating” its independence aspirations and willing to settle for federalization, at least at this stage, which of course appeals to the Saudis and the Houthis for different reasons and makes it easier to begin a dialogue on ending the war.

In the coming future, all sides will likely readjust their positions somewhat as they politically jockey with one another in preparing for inevitable peace talks, and it’s here where Russia could play a strategic role in facilitating this by mediating or possibly even hosting this dialogue whenever it ultimately happens.

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Sweden complicit in Saudi war on Yemen?

Press TV – February 21, 2018

Last year, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström told a conference that the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Yemen was one that “has far too long been neglected and forgotten by the global community” and what Yemeni people were going through was “difficult to imagine.”

It is such statements that, besides leading various international peace efforts to help resolve major conflicts across the globe, including Saudi Arabia’s deadly war on Yemen, have helped Sweden establish the image of a peace-loving country that cares for others.

However, a steady rise in the Scandinavian country’s weapons business over the past years, including its major dealings with repressive Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf region, has cast doubt on Stockholm’s true intentions.

In fact the rise has been so fast that according to official data by the US government, Sweden is now the world’s third largest weapons producer per capita, closely following Russia and Switzerland while overtaking France, Britain and the US.

At the heart of Sweden’s weapons industry is Saab, a company that sold over $2.7 billion worth of weapons in 2016 alone, making its way into the world’s top 30 arms producing companies according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Over the recent years, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have become some of the main customers for Swedish-made weapons.

Svenska Freds, a 135-years-old Swedish anti-militarization group, charges that Stockholm has been providing Riyadh with weapons since 1998, with a brief suspension in 2015 following a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The larger chunk of the trade has taken over in the past eight years. According to Svenska Freds, the arms sales to Saudi Arabia reportedly approached six billion Swedish kronor ($741mn) between 2010 and 2016.

That means the arms deals between the two sides have continued throughout Saudi Arabia’s deadly war on Yemen, which began in March 2015 and has killed nearly 14,000 Yemeni civilians.

The UAE, another Saudi ally in the bloody war, was able to secure a larger deal in 2016, when the Swedish administrative authority, the National Inspectorate of Strategic Products, authorized 11 billion Swedish kronor ($1.3bn) in arms sales to the Arab country.

Before that, the country had sold 2.1 billion kronor ($272mn) in weapons sales to the UAE.

In a move that further proved Sweden’s desire to expand military ties with repressive Arab regimes, Saab opened a new office in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi in late 2017.

Lawmakers in the Swedish parliament have time and again criticized the government’s arms deals with the Saudi-led coalition.

While Foreign Minister Margot Walltröm has pledged to introduce measures that would limit the exports later this year, there are no signs that Stockholm is willing to end the profitable business anytime soon.

February 21, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Doha ‘diffused’ attempt by Riyadh, Abu Dhabi to invade Qatar: Defense minister

Press TV – February 3, 2018

Qatar’s defense minister says Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had planned a military invasion of his country at the beginning of a diplomatic crisis that erupted last year when several states cut off diplomatic relations with Doha.

In an interview with The Washington Post on Friday, Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah said Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had “tried everything” to destabilize Qatar, but “we have diffused this intention.”

“They have intentions to intervene militarily,” said Attiyah.

“They tried to provoke the tribes. They used mosques against us. Then they tried to get some puppets to bring in and replace our leaders,” he added.

Attiyah, who traveled to the United States last week and held talks with his US counterpart Jim Mattis, described the beginning of the crisis by the Saudi-led bloc as an “ambush” that was “miscalculated.”

Asked about Qatar’s relations with Iran, Attiyah said that Qatar maintained “friendly relations with everyone.”

The Qatari defense minister said that the Saudi-led bloc had “failed” in its attempt to replace Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani with a new leader.

“They put their puppet, [Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, a relative of a former Qatari emir], on TV,” he said.

“They can’t do anything. The Qatari people love their emir,” he noted.

Back in June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism, an allegation strongly denied by Doha.

The Saudi-led quartet presented Qatar with a list of demands and gave it an ultimatum to comply with them or face consequences.

The demands included closing the Al Jazeera broadcaster, removing Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, scaling back ties with Iran, and ending relations with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Doha, however, refused to meet the demands and denounced them as unreasonable.

Amid the diplomatic crisis, Abu Dhabi has taken an especially tough line towards Doha.

The Qatari former deputy prime minister, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, told Spanish daily ABC last October that the UAE had planned a military invasion of Qatar with thousands of US-trained mercenaries, but it failed to secure the support of Washington.

A series of leaked documents revealed in November 2017 that the UAE had a stunning detailed plot to launch an economic war on Qatar.

Dubai security chief Dhahi Khalfan also once called on the Saudi-led coalition involved in a deadly military campaign against Yemen to bomb Al Jazeera.

February 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 2 Comments

1,000 days of war: The starvation plan for Yemen

By Dan Glazebrook | Middle East Eye | December 19, 2017

Presenting themselves as shocked bystanders to the growing famine in Yemen, the US and UK are in fact prime movers in a new strategy that will massively escalate it.

The protagonists of the war on Yemen – the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have been beset by problems ever since they launched the operation in March 2015. But these problems seem to have reached breaking point in recent months.

First and foremost, is the total lack of military progress in the war. Originally conceived as a kind of blitzkrieg – or “decisive storm” as the initial bombing campaign was named – that would put a rapid end to the Houthi-led Ansarallah movement’s rebellion, almost three years later it has done nothing of the sort. The only significant territory recaptured has been the port city of Aden, and this was only by reliance on a secessionist movement largely hostile to ‘President’ Hadi, whose rule the war is supposedly being fought to restore. All attempts to recapture the capital Sanaa, meanwhile, have been exposed as futile pipe dreams.

Secondly, the belligerents have been increasingly at war with themselves. In February of this year, a fierce battle broke out between the Emiratis and Saudi-backed forces for control of Aden’s airport. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the struggle  “prevented an Emirati plan to move north to Taiz,” adding that “the risk of such confrontations remains… Lacking ground forces anywhere in Yemen, the Saudis worry that the UAE could be carving out strategic footholds for itself, undermining Saudi influence in the kingdom’s traditional backyard.” Notes intelligence analysts the Jamestown Foundation, “The fight over Aden’s airport is being played out against a much larger and far more complex fight for Aden and southern Yemen. The fighting between rival factions backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE clearly shows that Yemen’s already complicated civil war is being made more so by what is essentially a war within a war: the fight between Saudi Arabia and the UAE and their proxies.” This tension flared up again in October, with Emirati troops arresting 10 members of the Saudi-aligned Islah movement, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Yemeni faction.

And finally, the war is undergoing a serious crisis of legitimacy. Aid agencies are usually doggedly silent on the political causes of the disasters they are supposed to ameliorate. Yet on the issue of the blockade – and especially since it was made total on November 6th this year – they have been uncharacteristically vocal, placing the blame for the country’s famine – in which more than a quarter of the population are now starving – squarely on the blockade and its supporters. Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, put it starkly: “150,000 will die before the end of the year because of the impact of this blockade” he told ABC news last month. Save the Children had already stated back in March 2017 that “food and aid are being used as a weapon of war”, and called for an end to UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, whilst in November 2017, Oxfam’s Shane Stevenson said: “All those with influence over the Saudi-led coalition are complicit in Yemen’s suffering unless they do all they can to push them to lift the blockade.” Paolo Cernuschi, of the International Rescue Committee, added that: “We are far beyond the need to raise an alarm. What is happening now is a complete disgrace.” The governments of Donald Trump and Theresa May were being painted – by the most establishment-aligned of charities – as essentially mass murderers, accomplices to what Alex de Waal has called “the worst famine crime of this decade”. Even the Financial Times carried a headline that Britain “risks complicity in the use of starvation as a weapon of war”. “Is complicit” would be more accurate than “risks complicity”, but nevertheless: still a pretty damning indictment.

To confront these problems, a new strategy has clearly emerged. It appears to have been inaugurated by Theresa May and Boris Johnson on November 29th.  On that date, whilst the British Prime Minister met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Riyadh, the Foreign Secretary was hosting a London meeting of the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the US under-secretary of state, representing all four of the belligerent powers in Yemen.

The first element of this strategy was for Britain and the US to pacify the NGO fraternity by distancing themselves from the blockade, as if it were somehow separate from the war in which they were so deeply involved. This actually came about in the days preceding those meetings, when Theresa May told the press she would “demand” the “immediate” lifting of the blockade during her forthcoming visit to the king. That was disingenuous; after all, had she really wanted the blockade ended, she could have achieved this immediately simply by threatening to cut military support for the Saudis until they ended it. According to War Child UK, arms sales to Saudi Arabia have now topped £6billion, and Britain runs a major training programme for the Saudi military, with 166 personnel deployed within the Saudi military structure. Former US presidential advisor Bruce Riedel is entirely correct when he states that “the Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and  British support. If the United States and the United Kingdom, tonight, told King Salman [of Saudi Arabia] ‘this war has to end,’ it would end tomorrow.”

In fact, the meeting seems to have been more about reassuring the Saudis that her words were but rhetoric for domestic consumption, and not meant to be taken seriously. In the event, far from an “immediate” end, the UK government website reported that May and Salman merely “agreed that steps needed to be taken” and that “they would take forward more detailed discussions on how this could be achieved”. Just to make it absolutely clear that the UK’s support for the war was not in question in any way, the very next line of the statement was “They agreed the relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia was strong and would endure”. A deeply complicit press ensured that the actual contents of this meeting was barely reported; the last word on the matter, as far as they were concerned, was May’s pledge to “demand” an end to the blockade. Donald Trump followed suit last week, likewise calling on the Saudis to “completely allow food, fuel, water and medicine to reach the Yemeni people” whilst doing nothing to bring this about. Thus have the UK and US governments attempted to manipulate the media narrative such that the blockade they continue to facilitate no longer reflects badly on them.

The next aspect of the strategy became obvious before the Johnson and May meetings had even finished, as fighting broke out between the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh the same day. Saleh had made an alliance with his erstwhile enemies the Houthis in 2015 in a presumed attempt to seize back power from his former deputy Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, to whom he was forced to abdicate power in 2012. But he had never been fully trusted by the Houthis, and their suspicions were to be fully confirmed when on Saturday 2nd December he formally turned on them and offered himself up to the Saudis. Saleh had always been close to the Saudis whilst in power, positioning himself largely as a conduit for their influence; now he was returning to his traditional role. The swiftness and intensity of the Saudi airstrikes supporting his forces against the Houthis following his announcement suggests some degree of foreknowledge and collaboration had preceded it, as does the Saudi’s reported house arrest of their previous favourite Hadi the previous month. This restoration of the Saleh-Saudi alliance represents a victory for the UAE, who had been pushing the Saudis to rebuild its bridges with him for some time. Analyst Neil Partrick, for example, had written just weeks before the move that “The Emiratis are advising the Saudis to go back to the former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, believing his growing disputes with the Houthis, his tactical allies, can be encouraged to become a permanent breach.” Thus was the problem of the military stalemate supposed to be solved by splitting the Houthi’s alliance with Saleh, paving the way for a dramatic rebalancing of forces in favour of the belligerents. The execution of Saleh two days later has only partially scuppered this plan, with many of his forces either openly siding with the invaders or putting up no resistance to them.

At the same time as the Saudis have finally been brought round to the UAE’s preference for a reconciliation with Saleh’s forces, the UAE have now, it seems, accepted an alliance with the Saudi-backed Islah party. Despite the Saudi’s usual antipathy to the Muslim Brotherhood, it has backed their Yemeni offshoot in this war, a move hitherto firmly opposed by the Emirates. Yet, following earlier meetings between Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and Islah leader Abdullah al-Yidoumi, the two men met last Wednesday (13th December) with Emirati crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Maged Al Da’arri, editor of Yemen’s Hadramout newspaper, explained to The National that “the Gulf leaders are trying to combine the different sides in Yemen to work collaboratively in order to be able to liberate the provinces that are still held by the Houthis.”

It seems likely that Emirati support for Islah was a quid-pro-quo for Saudi support for Saleh, both moves suggesting perhaps that the two powers’ divisions were to some extent being overcome. But this rapprochement was formalised with the formal announcement of a new military alliance between them on December 5th, the day after Saleh’s death.

Thus, within a week of the London and Riyadh meetings, the coalition’s three seemingly intractable problems – the paralysing divisions between UAE and Saudi Arabia, the military stalemate, and the West’s legitimacy crisis over the blockade – had all apparently been turned around. This readjustment was and is intended to pave the way for a decisive new page in the war: an all-out attack on Hodeidah, as a prelude to the recapture of Sanaa itself.

This new strategy is now well under way. On December 6th – four days after Saleh switched sides, and one day after the new UAE-Saudi alliance was announced – the invaders’ Yemeni assets mounted “a major push… to purge Al Houthis from major coastal posts on the Red Sea including the strategic city of Hodeida.” The Emiratis had been advocating an attack on Hodeidah for at least a year, but, according to the Emirati newspaper The National, President Obama had vetoed it in 2016, whilst in March 2017, the Saudis got cold feet due to fears that the plan was “an indication of [the Emirates’] attempt to carve out strategic footholds in Yemen”. Now, it seems, it is finally under way.

The following day, the red sea town of Khokha, in Hodeidah province, was captured by Emirati forces and their Yemeni assets, backed by Saudi airstrikes. Gulf News reported that “Colonel Abdu Basit Al Baher, the deputy spokesperson of the Military Council in Taiz, told Gulf News that the liberation of Khokha would enable government forces and the Saudi-led coalition to circle Hodeida from land and sea”. The day after that, Houthi positions in Al Boqaa, between Khokha and Hodeidah, were taken by Emirati-backed forces.

The following Sunday, 10th December, Boris Johnson met with the Emirati crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, where he “underlined the depth of strategic relations between the two countries and his country’s keenness on enhancing bilateral cooperation”, before attending another “Quartet committee” meeting with his Emirati and Saudi counterparts and the US acting secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. The four of them “agreed to hold their meetings periodically, with the next meeting scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.”

This intensive activity in the space of just two weeks, bookended by high-level meetings of the ‘quartet’ on either side, is clearly coordinated. But what it heralds is truly horrifying. Presenting themselves as shocked bystanders to the growing famine in Yemen, the US and UK are in fact prime movers in a new strategy that will massively escalate it.

When an attack on Hodeidah was being contemplated back in March 2017, aid agencies and security analysts alike were crystal clear about its impact. A press release from Oxfam read: “Reacting to concern that Hodeidah port in Yemen is about to be attacked by the Saudi-led coalition, international aid agency Oxfam warns that this is likely to be the final straw that pushes the country into near certain famine…Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB Chief Executive said: “If this attack goes ahead, a country that is already on the brink of famine will be starved further as yet another food route is destroyed… An estimated 70 percent of Yemen’s food comes into Hodeidah port. If it is attacked, this will be a deliberate act that will disrupt vital supplies – the Saudi-led coalition will not only breach International Humanitarian Law, they will be complicit in near certain famine.” The point was reiterated by the UN’s World Food Programme, whilst the UN International Organisation for Migration warned that 400,000 people would be displaced were Hodeidah to be attacked.

“The potential humanitarian impact of a battle at Hodeidah feels unthinkable,” Suze Vanmeegen, protection and advocacy advisor at the Norwegian Refugee Council, told IRIN recently. “We are already using words like ‘catastrophic’ and ‘horrendous’ to describe the crisis in Yemen, but any attack on Hodeidah has the potential to blast an already alarming crisis into a complete horror show – and I’m not using hyperbole.”

In the Independent, Peter Salisbury  noted that “it is by no means certain that taking Hodeidah will be easy” as the (then) “Houthi-Saleh alliance is well aware of the plan” and preparing accordingly. He added that “While the Saudi-led coalition claims that taking the port would help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the medium term, aid agencies fret that the short-term effect of cutting off access to a major port could be a killing blow to some of Yemen’s starving millions.” The Jamestown foundation were even more wary, writing that the city’s capture would be impossible without major US involvement and that  “Even with U.S. assistance, the invasion will be costly and ineffective. The terrain to the east of Hodeidah is comprised of some of the most forbidding mountainous terrain in the world. The mountains, caves, and deep canyons are ideal for guerrilla warfare that would wear down even the finest and best disciplined military.” Yet the US’s current efforts to argue that Houthis are being supplied with Iranian missiles via Hodeidah may well be aimed at legitimising just such direct US involvement in an attack on the port. After all, continues Jamestown, “the Saudi effort in Yemen hinges on the invasion of Hodeidah. The reasoning behind the invasion is that without Hodeidah and its port — where supplies trickle through — the Houthis and their allies, along with millions of civilians, can be starved into submission.”

This, then – the ramping up of the ‘weapon of starvation’ – is the ultimate end of this new phase in the war. Basic humanity demands it be vigorously opposed.

Dan Glazebrook is currently crowdfunding to finance his second book; you can order an advance copy here: http://fundrazr.com/c1CSnd

December 22, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Coalition Crumbles In Yemen: Sudanese Mercenaries On Front Lines, Foreign Officers, Proxies In Revolt

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | November 26, 2017

Most Americans might be forgiven for having no clue what the war in Yemen actually looks like, especially as Western media has spent at least the first two years of the conflict completely ignoring the mass atrocities taking place while white-washing the Saudi coalition’s crimes. Unlike wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, which received near daily coverage as they were at their most intense, and in which many Americans could at least visualize the battlefield and the actors involved through endless photographs and video from on the ground, Yemen’s war has largely been a faceless and nameless conflict as far as major media is concerned.

Aside from mainstream media endlessly demonstrating its collective ignorance of Middle East dynamics, it is also no secret that the oil and gas monarchies allied to the West are rarely subject to media scrutiny or criticism, something lately demonstrated on an obscene and frighteningly absurd level with Thomas Friedman’s fawning and hagiographic interview with Saudi crown prince MBS published in the New York Times.

Saudi Arabia’s hired help in Yemen: Sudanese fighters headed to the front lines. Image souce: al-Arabiya

But any level of meticulous review of how the Saudi coalition (which heavily involves US assistance) is executing the war in Yemen would reveal a military and strategic disaster in the making. As Middle East Eye editor-in-chief David Hearst puts it, “All in all, the first military venture to be launched by the 32-year-old Saudi prince as defense minister is a tactical and strategic shambles.”  

And if current battlefield trends continue, the likely outcome will be a protracted and humiliating Saudi coalition withdrawal with the spoils divided among Houthi and Saudi allied warlords, as well as others vying for power in Yemen’s tenuous political future. But what unsurprisingly unites most Yemenis at this point is shared hatred for the Saudi coalition bombs which rain down on civilian centers below. For this reason, Hearst concludes further of MBS’ war: “The prince, praised in Western circles as a young reformer who will spearhead the push back against Iran, has succeeded in uniting Yemenis against him, a rare feat in a polarized world. He has indeed shot himself, repeatedly, in the foot.

So how has this come about, and how is the war going from a military and strategic perspective?

First, to quickly review, Saudi airstrikes on already impoverished Yemen, which have killed and maimed tens of thousands of civilians (thousands among those are children according to the UN) and displaced hundreds of thousands, have been enabled by both US intelligence and military hardware. Cholera has recently exploded amidst the appalling war-time conditions, and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and schools have been bombed by the Saudis. After Shia Houthi rebels overran Yemen’s north in 2014, embattled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi vowed to “extract Yemen from the claws of Iran” something which he’s repeatedly affirmed, having been given international backing from allies in the West, and a major bombing campaign began on March 2015 under the name “Operation Decisive Storm” (in a cheap mirroring of prior US wars in Iraq, the first of which was “Desert Storm”).

Saudi Arabia and its backers fear what they perceive as growing Iranian influence in the region, something grossly exaggerated, and seek to defend at all costs Yemeni forces loyal to President Hadi. The coalition includes Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Sudan, and the US and UK, and the Saudi initiated war has also lately received behind the scenes political support from Israel, something recently confirmed by Israeli officials. Concerning the supposed Iran threat in Yemen, an emergency session of the Arab League recently doubled down on its shared commitment to wage war against Iranian interests after it blamed Tehran for a November 4 ballistic missile attack from Shia Houthi rebels against the Saudi capital, which Iran denies playing a role in.

But the Saudi coalition is now in shambles according to a new Middle East Eye investigation. The report highlights some surprising facts long ignored in mainstream media and which give insight into how the Saudi military campaign is likely to end in total failure as “more than two years into a disastrous war, the coalition of ground forces assembled by the Saudis is showing signs of crumbling.”

Below are 5 key takeaways from the full report.

1) Saudi coalition ground forces have a huge contingent of foreign fighters, namely Sudanese troops with UAE officers, suffering the brunt of the battle on the front lines.

Sudanese forces, which constitute the bulk of the 10,000 foreign fighters in the Saudi-led coalition, are suffering high casualty rates. A senior source close to the presidency in Khartoum told Middle East Eye that over 500 of their troops had now been killed in Yemen.

Only two months ago, the commander of the Sudanese Army’s rapid support force, Lieutenant General Mohammed Hamdan Hamidati, quoted a figure of 412 troops killed, including 14 officers to  the Sudanese newspaper Al Akhbar. “There is huge pressure to withdraw from this on-going fight,” the Sudanese source told MEE. A force of up to 8,000 Sudanese troops are partly led by Emirati officers. They are deployed in southern Yemen as well as to the south and west of Taiz in al Makha.

2) Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been dubbed “president of the mercenaries” for accepting over $2.2 billion from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in order to provide canon fodder for the Saudi ground war in Yemen in the form of thousands of young Sudanese troops, but he’s threatening revolt. To escape his untenable position, he is reportedly seeking help from Putin.

At home, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is also having second thoughts. He remembers the lifeline he got when Riyadh deposited $1bn in Sudan’s Central Bank two years ago, followed by Qatar’s $1.22bn. But he hardly enjoys being known as “president of the mercenaries,” and he has other relationships to consider.

On Thursday, Bashir became the latest of a procession of Arab leaders to beat a path to Vladimir Putin’s door. He told the Russian president he needed protection from the US, was against confrontation with Iran, and supported the policy of keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. This follows an incident at home, which was variously described as espionage and a coup attempt. Taha Osman Ahmed al-Hussein was dismissed as the director of the Office of the Sudanese President after he was discovered carrying a Saudi passport and a residency permit for the UAE. He was caught maintaining secret contact with both.

3) Saudi-backed Yemeni fighters are increasingly mutinying and fear local mass push back from Yemen’s civilian population due to the unpopular bombing campaign.

Mutiny is also stirring in the ranks of Yemenis who two and a half years ago cheered the Saudi pushback against the Houthis who were trying to take over the entire country.

The Saudi relationship with Islah, the largest group of Yemeni fighters in the ground force employed by the coalition, has at best been ambivalent. The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s closest partner in Yemen, Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is openly hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Yemeni party… They [Islahi leadership] are feeling the political price they are paying for supporting a campaign that turned in Yemeni eyes from liberation to occupation… Enough is enough. The regional Islahi leadership are now talking of starting direct negotiations with the Houthis, a senior Islah source told MEE.

4) Saudi proxy fighters are at war with each other: an Emirati-backed militia fighting under the Saudi coalition is assassinating other members of the Saudi coalition in what’s increasingly an internal coalition civil war. 

They are also paying a physical price. A number of Islahi sheikhs and scholars as well as Salafis who rejected Emirati leadership have been killed or targeted by assassination attempts. The list is growing: there have been assassinations of Khaled Ali al-Armani, a leader in the Islah Party, on 7 December 2016; Sheikh Abdullah Bin Amir Bin Ali Bin Abdaat al-Kathri, on 23 November 2017 in Hadhramaut; Abdelmajeed Batees (related to Saleh Batees) a leader in the Islah Party on 5 January 2017 in Hadhramaut; Mohammed Bin Lashgam, Deputy Director of Civil Status, on 17 January 2017; Khaled Ali al-Armani, a leader in the Islah Party, on 7 December 2016…

“The Emiratis do not conceal their hostility to Islah. Islahi sheikhs and scholars are being assassinated, and this is being co-ordinated by the pro-Emirati militia. In addition, the UAE is clearly enforcing the blockade of Taiz, and withholding support for our fighters in the city,” the source said.

5) Oman is entering the fray, which will further fragment the Saudi coalition as rivalries for territorial control develop.

As if the balance of competing outside forces  in Yemen is not complicated enough, enter Oman. Oman, too, regards southern Yemen as its backyard. It is particularly worried about the takeover of a series of strategic ports and islands off Yemen by the Emiratis. A Qatari diplomatic source described this as the Emiratis’ “seaborn empire,” but the Omanis are upset by this too.

The Omanis are understood to be quietly contacting local Yemeni tribal leaders in south Yemen, some of them separatist forces, to organize a more “orchestrated response” to the militias paid for and controlled by Abu Dhabi.

Like the proxy war in Syria, it appears that Gulf/US plans have backfired, and we are perhaps in for a long Saudi coalition death spiral fueled by delusion and denial. Sadly, it is primarily Yemeni civilians and common people in the region that will continue to bear the brunt of suffering wrought by such evil and delusional stupidity.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments