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UK hiding Mideast arms sales with secret deals: Report

A Yemeni child looking out at buildings damaged in a Saudi airstrike in the southern Yemeni city of Ta’izz, March 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Press TV – March 25, 2018

A recent report has revealed that the United Kingdom is using secretive licenses to hide the scale of its arms exports to countries with dire human rights records in the Middle East.

The Middle East Eye online news portal said figures compiled by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) showed that the use of opaque “open licenses” to approve arms sales to states in the Middle East and North Africa by the UK government has increased by 22 percent.

According to the report, Britain has used the secretive export rules to avoid public scrutiny and hide the value of arms and their quantities.

Arms exports are worth $8.3 billion a year to the UK economy.

The MEE said defense firms have used standard open licenses to approve arms sales to the Middle East, valued at more than $4.2 billion since pledges were made by senior ministers to increase UK arms exports after the Brexit vote in June 2016.

The figures showed that the number of open arms export licenses increased from 189 to 230 from 2013 to 2017, while the number of individual items approved under these licensees rose to 4,315 from 1,201.

Saudi Arabia is by far the largest buyer of UK arms under the opaque open licensing system.

Last month, the online news portal revealed an increase of 75 percent in the use of approvals for arms exports, including vital parts for warplanes used in the Saudi aggression on Yemen.

About 14,000 people have been killed since the onset of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen in March 2015. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.

Campaigners further said Britain used open licenses to approve arms sales to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria and Iraq.

The report said the UK used the secretive open licenses to export assault rifles to Turkey in 2016 as Ankara intensified its crackdown, as well as acoustic riot control devices to Egypt in 2015.

CAAT voiced concerns over the rise in the use of open licenses, which are difficult to track and not subject to public scrutiny or parliamentary oversight.

“The increase in open licenses should concern everybody. It tells us that the government wants to make a shady industry even more closed and secretive,” said Andrew Smith, spokesperson for Campaign Against Arms Trade.

“UK arms are doing terrible damage in Yemen, so it’s more important than ever that parliament and civil society are given as much information as possible so that the government can be held to account,” he added.

Fabian Hamilton, Labor’s shadow minister for peace, said, “The increases in arms exports to countries with questionable human rights records in the Middle East and North Africa must be urgently reviewed. Britain must lead by example, and confront human rights abuses head on.”

“Current government policy on this is fundamentally contradictory,” Hamilton added.

March 25, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Al Qaeda “Mysteriously” Metastasizing in Northwest Syria

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 30.07.2017

The Washington Post in an article titled, “Al-Qaida in Syria snuffs out competition in northwest,” clumsily reveals what many following the Syrian conflict have known all along – that the so-called uprising never existed, and that the US and its allies are directly arming, aiding, and abetting Al Qaeda in Syria.

The article admits:

Syrian rebels and activists are warning that an al-Qaida-linked jihadi group is on the verge of snuffing out what remains of the country’s uprising in northwestern Syria, after the extremists seized control of the opposition-held regional capital, Idlib, last weekend.

However, the so-called “uprising” has been allegedly supported since 2011 by the US, Europe, and the West’s collective allies across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in weapons, training, logistics, and even vehicles, and now even direct military support.

This significant support has been reported on numerous times by Western papers, including the Washington Post itself. If such support was truly being given to a secular, pro-democratic opposition inside of Syria, who then has supplied “Al Qaeda-linked jihadi groups” with enough support to meet or exceed it on the battlefield? The answer is, there was never a secular, pro-democratic opposition in Syria.

The Washington Post fails to inform readers that Al Qaeda’s consolidation in the northwest of Syria is a logistical necessity, with the West unable to sustain token opposition groups any further if Damascus and its allies are to be prevented from exercising further control over its own territory before the conflict draws to a relative close.

The Washington Post – in a way – already admits this in its article. It states (emphasis added):

The Nusra Front is one of the many names for the al-Qaida-affiliate that now heads the mighty Hay’at Tahrir al Sham militant alliance — Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee — that seized the city of Idlib, as well as two border crossings with Turkey to feed its coffers. It is also known as HTS.

The Washington Post acknowledges that an Al Qaeda affiliate is sustaining its fighting capacity in Syria through supply lines leading out of Turkey – a NATO member since 1952. It is also a Western ally, with multiple Western nations still supplying the state with weapons, including 86 million British pounds sold to Ankara by the UK. Turkey, alongside Saudi Arabia, represent two state-sponsors of terror contradicting Western narratives revolving around a “War on Terror” allegedly being fought. In fact, it appears that instead of fighting terror, the West is propping up the largest nations on Earth driving it.

Worse than the West fueling terrorism by proxy, the Washington Post also obliquely mentions that militant groups in Syria supported directly by the US CIA are coordinating with the very Al Qaeda-affiliates it claims is “snuffing out” the opposition.

It claims:

Other factions, including many once financed and armed in part by the CIA, kept to the sidelines. They are hoping to win a share of the revenues from the lucrative Bab al-Hawa border crossing, said a Turkey-based opposition activist who liaises with Syrian rebels and their state sponsors. He asked for anonymity so as not to jeopardize his position.

In other words, Al Qaeda-controlled border crossings are being jointly used and exploited by groups “once” financed and armed by the CIA. More likely, this was the case before the conflict even began, with the US simply using Al Qaeda in Syria, just as it had in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, as the global mercenary army of choice to go and do where and what US troops cannot.

The Washington Post’s article appears to be a final attempt to salvage long-exposed disinformation, misinforming the public about the true nature of both the Syrian crisis and the alleged “opposition” fighting it on the West’s behalf. The article concludes, claiming that US programs to arm militants in Syria are drawing to a close, and that the US is “leaving Syria in Russia’s hands.”

In reality, the US will only leave Syria once its options have been fully confounded and exhausted by Syria and its allies. While it may not be able to continue funding terrorists in Syria’s northwest, it still maintains a military presence with US troops and proxies in the nation’s east. It openly plans to occupy these regions – and from them – incrementally expand them until eventually Syria is either dissolved as a unified state, or regime change can eventually be achieved.

Al Qaeda’s “emergence” in northwest Syria, and its dominance of “opposition” groups admittedly funded to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year, can only be explained if those hundreds of billions of dollars were actually being fed into Al Qaeda’s hands. Admitting that Al Qaeda now infests Syria’s northwest allows the “opposition” to use any and all tactics required to keep or even claw back territory from forces loyal to Damascus, with papers like the Washington Post tasked  now with obfuscating and ignoring the reality that Al Qaeda does this with logistical routes leading directly into NATO territory, and arms and supplies acquired with NATO complicity.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

If NATO Wants Peace and Stability it Should Stay Home

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 20.05.2017

A curious op-ed appeared in The National Interest, penned by Hans Binnendijk and David Gompert, adjunct senior fellows at the RAND Corporation. Titled, “NATO’s Role in post-Caliphate Stability Operations,” it attempts to make a case for NATO involvement everywhere from Libya to Syria and Iraq in fostering stability in the wake of a yet-to-be defeated Islamic State.

The authors propose that NATO step in to fill what it calls an impending “vacuum left as the caliphate collapses,” heading off alternatives including “chaos or Iran, backed by Russia, filling the void, with great harm to U.S. and allied interests in either case.” The op-ed never explains why Iran, neighboring Syria and Iraq, are less qualified to influence the region than the United States which exists literally oceans away and shares nothing in terms of history, culture, language or shared interests in stability and peace.

The op-ed would literally claim:

NATO is the only security organization with the skills and breadth to take on this task. The U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition of 68 partners is ill equipped to engage in this complex task. A more cohesive organization such as NATO should lead, but in ways that allow continued Arab participation. A creative version of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition could provide the answer.

It was an interesting choice by the authors to showcase one of NATO’s most stupendous and continuing failures in Afghanistan with mention of the ISAF, a force that not only has failed to bring stability to the Central Asia nation in over a decade and a half of occupation, but has presided over the emergence of the Islamic State there where previously it had no presence.

The reality of what NATO is versus what The National Interest op-ed attempts to pass it off as, resembles more of a sales pitch for a shoddy product than a genuine attempt at geopolitical analysis or problem solving. But the truth goes deeper still.

NATO is a Global Wrecking Ball, It Cannot Create Stability

The op-ed focuses primarily on proposing NATO roles for a post-Islamic State Libya, Iraq and Syria.

Libya is perhaps the most tragic of the three, with NATO having used direct military force in 2011 to topple the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in support of known extremists passed off at the time by both NATO spokespeople and the US-European media as “moderate rebels.”

The predictable fallout from this military campaign was the collapse of Libya as a relatively stable and unified nation-state into warring factions. The instability became fertile grounds for extremism, with many of the groups backed by NATO evolving into what is now the “Islamic State.”

The National Interest op-ed also makes mention of “Arab participation.” It should be remembered that the most extreme factions fighting in Libya were not only aided by direct NATO military intervention, but were armed and funded by Persian Gulf dictatorships as well, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

A similar pattern of sowing instability has unfolded in Syria, leading to, not averting the rise of the Islamic State.

And Iraq’s instability is a direct and lasting consequence of the US military invasion and occupation of 2003.

If nothing else, this exposes NATO and its members as a collective, global wrecking ball. Just as a wrecking ball cannot be used to construct a building on a vacant lot, NATO cannot be used to construct the conditions for stability across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Really Stopping the Islamic State Means Really Stopping Support for It 

Ultimately, what the op-ed calls for is the permanent occupation of the three nations by NATO forces ranging from special forces in Libya to the formal occupation of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.

Interestingly, the op-ed suggests that the NATO occupation force in Syria should not only be used to combat the Islamic State, but to also deter “Syrian military thrusts,” referring to the armed forces of the actual and only legitimate government in Syria.

This last point exposes fully what NATO is really interested in, and what this sales pitch is really advertising. NATO is not in MENA to defeat the Islamic State, it is merely using the Islamic State as a pretext to project Western hegemony across the region.

The closing paragraph states:

This NATO strategy cannot, and should not be expected to, settle the Syrian civil war, bring ethnic and sectarian harmony to Iraq, or create an effective Libyan state. What it could do is create conditions of stability in which lasting solutions at least have a chance. It can do so only if the U.S. is ready to call upon NATO to join it in filling the post-ISIS void and for the European allies to answer that call.

Certainly, NATO’s presence in Syria, Iraq or Libya will not bring any sort of stability. NATO has proven its absolute inability to achieve this in its 16 year occupation of Afghanistan. Claiming NATO occupation will “create conditions of stability in which lasting solutions at least have a chance” is merely NATO’s way of ensuring no matter the chaos it itself has created across MENA, it will hold a stake in the outcome if for no other reason because it has literally taken and occupies territory within the post-war region.

It is interesting that the Islamic State rose in the wake of US-led, NATO-backed violence stretching from North Africa to Central Asia and only began to suffer setbacks upon greater and more direct Russian and Iranian intervention.

The bombing of Islamic State and Jabhat Al Nusra logistical lines emanating from NATO-member Turkey’s borders by Russian warplanes, for example, inevitably led to huge gains by the Syrian Arab Army including the eventual liberation of Aleppo, the containment of Idlib and a significant retraction of Islamic State-held territory in eastern Syria.

The torrent of supplies feeding Islamic State and other fronts of extremist militancy flowing from Turkey is the admitted result of Persian Gulf sponsorship, which in turn, serves as an intermediary for US and NATO support for what the US Defense Intelligence Agency called in 2012 (.pdf) a “Salafist principality.”

The specific purpose of this “Salafist principality,” admittedly backed by Persian Gulf dictatorships, Turkey and what the US DIA refers to as “the West,” was to “isolate the Syrian regime.”  Clearly then, were NATO genuinely interested in defeating the Islamic State and undoing the damage it has done, it would begin by withdrawing it and its allies’ own support of the terrorist organization in the first place.

In short, if NATO truly wants to create stability across MENA, it merely needs to stop intentionally sowing instability.

Of course, a unilateral military bloc intentionally sowing chaos across an entire region of the planet is doing so for a very specific purpose. It is the same purpose all hegemons throughout human history have sought to divide and destroy regions they cannot outright conquer. A destroyed competitor may not be as favorable as a conquered, controlled and exploited competitor, but is certainly preferable to a free and independent competitor contributing to a greater multipolar world order. NATO, by embedding itself amid the chaos it itself has created, as it has proven in Afghanistan, only ensures further chaos.

Within this chaos, NATO can ensure if its own membership cannot derive benefit from the region, no one else will. A call like that featured in The National Interest for NATO to bring “stability” to the MENA region stands in stark contrast to the reality that everywhere NATO goes, chaos not only follows, it stays indefinitely until NATO leaves.

The best thing NATO can do for stability across MENA is to leave.

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

US, Israel two sides of same coin, trying to destroy Yemen: Houthi

Leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, speaks during a televised speech in Sa’ada, on April 23, 2017.
Press TV – April 23, 2017

Leader of Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, says the United States and the Israeli regime are two sides of the same coin and together they seek to destroy Yemen through a brutal military campaign launched by Saudi Arabia.

Addressing a group of Yemenis in Sa’ada, thorough a video conference, Houthi further said on Sunday that the US, Israel and their allies are trying to impose their values on regional nations, adding that enemies view Yemenis as a worthless tool to sustain their own interests in the region.

“Independent forces in the region from Yemen to Syria, Lebanon and Iraq are considered as rogue from the American perspective, and sympathy for the oppressed in these countries is viewed as a crime,” he said, adding that Washington is trying hard to turn regional players into its own puppets.

The Yemeni leader also noted that collusion in the atrocities committed against the Yemeni people is not an issue in the eyes of the American leaders, but when the oppressed and independent forces cooperate with each other, the US perceives it as a crime.

He called on all Yemenis to stand united against the aggressors and defend their country.

“[When] anyone says Israel is a threat to our nation, the United States and its allies say they are supporters of Iran, and with the help of this false justification, they (Washington and allies) target anyone that does not accept adopting a hostile attitude towards Iran,” he added.

He also said the only sin committed by Iran, from the perspective of the United States, was that it freed itself from being a puppet country in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

‘US, Israel main source of terrorism worldwide’

The Yemeni leader added that Washington considers regional or international threats all those countries that are not its ally, “but the reality is that the US and Israel are themselves the main source of terrorism worldwide.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Houthi said the Yemeni nation, from all walks of life, should boost their awareness of the realities of regional developments and use it as a tool to battle the US propaganda against the Arab country. Ignorance, he said, makes people an easy target for the US and the Zionists.

Houthi also stated that only Yemenis can decide about their future and the internal affairs of their country and that absolutely no other country or organization, even the United Nations and the Arab League, can impose their so-called solutions to the crisis in Yemen.

He described as utterly ridiculous Washington and Riyadh’s claim that they want to liberate Yemeni cities from “Yemeni occupation.”

“You are Yemenis, who have occupied the capital Sana’a? The US wants to liberate Sana’a from Yemenis?!” he asked.

Houthi reiterated that the Yemeni nation’s resistance against the Riyadh regime’s incessant attacks was deeply rooted in religious orders and was meant to safeguard national sovereignty and freedom.

Saudi Arabia launched its deadly campaign against Yemen in March 2015 to push back the Houthi Ansarullah fighters from Sana’a and to bring back to power Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen’s president who has resigned and is a staunch ally of Riyadh.

The campaign, which lacks any international mandate and has faced increasing criticism, has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.

Certain Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, are partners to the military aggression.

April 23, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kuwait expels 14 people for links with Hezbollah: Report

Press TV – March 21, 2016

The Kuwaiti government has deported 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis on charges of having links to Lebanon’s resistance movement, Hezbollah, a report says.

The Kuwaiti Arabic daily al-Qabas quoted a security source as saying on Monday that the 14 people had been expelled on the order of the state security service.

The move came nearly three weeks after the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), under the influence of the Saudi regime, declared Hezbollah a “terrorist” organization. Arab League foreign ministers, except those of Iraq and Lebanon, later followed suit.

The [P]GCC – comprising Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait – however, did not provide any evidence for its allegation. This comes as the first three monarchies themselves stand accused of supporting extremists and terrorists in the region.

Describing the [P]GCC decision as “reckless and hostile,” Hezbollah blamed it on Saudi Arabia.

Elsewhere in its report, Qabas said that Kuwaiti security officials have prepared a list of “unwanted” Lebanese and Iraqi people, including advisers to big companies, to be expelled for “the public interest.”

The people will not be allowed to enter the [P]GCC member states after their deportation, the daily said.

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Germany approves arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Press TV – March 14, 2016

According to disclosed data, the German government has approved several deals for the export of arms to countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia as the kingdom continues its deadly aggression against the impoverished nation of Yemen.

According to an Economy Ministry letter seen by Reuters on Monday, the EU powerhouse will deliver 23 Airbus military helicopters to Riyadh.

In the letter to lawmakers in the economy committee of the lower house of the parliament, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel explained that the government’s Federal Security Council had also approved a deal by Heckler & Koch to deliver 130 machine pistols and automatic rifles to the United Arab Emirates and allowed Rheinmetall to export 65,000 mortar cartridges to the country.

The United Arab Emirates is among Saudi Arabia’s allies in their invasion against Yemen.

It also gave the green light for Heckler & Koch’s delivery of 660 machine guns, 660 additional gun barrels and 550 sub-machine guns to Oman.

The government also approved the delivery of five military helicopters by Airbus to Thailand and the export of nearly 490 machine pistols and automatic rifles by Heckler & Koch to Indonesia.

In January, Gabriel had said Germany may look harder at its arms exports to Saudi Arabia after the Persian Gulf kingdom carried out a mass execution causing international outcry.

Saudi Arabia is also widely believed to be financing to Takfiri militants wreaking havoc in the Middle East.

Riyadh has also been engaged in military operations in Yemen since late March last year. At least 8,400 people, among them 2,236 children, have been killed so far in the aggression and 16,015 others sustained injuries. Tens of Saudi solders as well as mercenary forces have been killed in the aggression.

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DynCorp mercenaries to replace Blackwater in Yemen

Press TV – March 7, 2016

The first batch of mercenaries from the private US military firm DynCorp has arrived in the Yemeni city of Aden to replace paid militants from another American company.

Under a USD-3-billion contract between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and DynCorp, mercenaries from the company are to be deployed to Yemen, where UAE forces are fighting against the Yemeni army and Popular Committees on Saudi orders, Khabar News Agency quoted an official with Yemeni Defense Ministry as saying.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the first group of the mercenaries recently arrived in the port city of Aden to replace those of Blackwater, a notorious American group now renamed Academi.

He added that the new militants included special naval forces, who entered the port of Ras Omran southwest of Aden.

DynCorp is a rival of Blackwater, which hires mercenaries and sends them to fight in foreign countries on paid missions.

Blackwater had decided to withdraw from Bab-el-Mandeb region after the Yemeni forces inflicted heavy losses on them. The UAE was forced to bring in the new mercenaries from DynCorp for the same reason.

Yemen has been under military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March last year. At least 8,400 people have been killed so far in the aggression and 16,015 others sustained injuries. The strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Human rights abusers’ invited to ‘non-lethal’ weapons show, condemned by activists

RT | March 7, 2016

Activists have denounced a Home Office sponsored security fair, warning that Britain is selling tear gas and other crowd control tools to some of the world’s most oppressive regimes.

Among the governments invited to take part in the fair in Farnborough, Hampshire, 30 miles southwest of London, are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Turkey, the Guardian reported on Saturday.

Police and security officials from 79 countries are expected to participate in the fair later this week, according to the list, which was released under a Freedom of Information request.

Since Prime Minister David Cameron took office in 2010, the UK has approved 126 licenses connected with the sale of tear gas and other irritants, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).

Also approved were 75 licenses for crowd control ammunition such as rubber bullets, 79 for “acoustic” crowd control – known as sound grenades – and 259 licenses for riot shields.

CAAT spokesman Andrew Smith told the paper: “There are serious questions to be asked about the impact of the so-called ‘non-lethal’ arms industry. These risks become even more important when these weapons are being sold to human rights abusers and dictatorships.”

“A number of the countries in attendance routinely practice torture, arbitrary detention and other appalling acts of violence. The UK should not be arming these regimes and selling them the means to oppress and kill.”

“[The event] undermines the UK’s claims to be promoting human rights while strengthening the position of repressive regimes.”

Defending the trade show, the Home Office said: “A thriving security industry is vital to help cut crime and protect the public and so it is important these products and services can be showcased and expertise shared.”

Described by organizers as “the perfect place to see the latest security equipment and technology in a secure environment,” the Security and Policy fair will be held behind closed doors, with all visitors “pre vetted to strict Home Office criteria.”

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GCC declares Hezbollah ‘terrorist group’

Press TV – March 2, 2016

The Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf have declared Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, which has been fighting terrorist groups in Syria and Israeli occupation, a “terrorist group.”

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council officially added Hezbollah and all groups affiliated to its so-called list of “terrorist” organizations on Wednesday.

In a statement, GCC’s Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayan accused Hezbollah and associated groups of committing “acts of aggression”, recruiting “youth” inside the Persian Gulf littoral states, smuggling “weapons and explosives”, sowing “sedition” and instigating “chaos and violence.”

The bloc, however, did not provide any evidence for its allegations.

The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait.

The move by the six-member bloc is the latest measure against Hezbollah, which is fighting terrorists in Syria.

In 2000 and 2006, when Israel launched two wars on Lebanon, Hezbollah fighters gave befitting responses to the Tel Aviv regime’s acts of aggression, forcing Israeli military to retreat without achieving any of its objectives.

The GCC have taken a series of measures against Hezbollah since Saudi Arabia last month halted a $4- billion aid pledge to Lebanon’s security forces.

The aid suspension came after Beirut did not follow Riyadh’s lead and refused to endorse joint anti-Iran statements at separate meetings held in Cairo and Jeddah.

On February 26, Saudi Arabia blacklisted four Lebanese firms and three individuals over alleged affiliation to Hezbollah, and imposed sanctions on them. The kingdom also ordered its citizens not to travel to Lebanon, and is poised to expel the Lebanese citizens working on its territory.

On Tuesday, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah said Saudi propaganda against Hezbollah has led to a political conflict in Lebanon, and advised the Lebanese youth against playing into the hands of Saudi Arabia, which he said spreads lies about Hezbollah and wrongly accuses the resistance movement of sowing sectarian strife between Shias and Sunnis.

He also denounced the Arab world’s silence in the face of Riyadh’s aggression on Yemen, where over 8,000 people have lost their lives since the Saudi onslaught began in late March last year.

Nasrallah warned that there are some Lebanese groups hoping to see a war in Lebanon just like the one Riyadh has waged against Yemen.

This comes as the Persian Gulf monarchies themselves stand accused of supporting extremists and terrorists in the region.

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi invasion of Syria: The bluff that could ignite World War III

By Finian Cunningham | RT | February 7, 2016

The Saudi plan to send ground troops into Syria appears to be just a ruse. But this is precisely the kind of reckless saber-rattling that could ignite an all-out war, one that could embroil the United States and Russia.

Saudi rulers have reportedly amassed a 150,000-strong army to invade Syria on the alleged pretext “to fight against terrorism” and to defeat the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS/ISIL). Saudi officials told CNN that in addition to Saudi troops there are ground forces from Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem gave a categorical response, saying the move would be seen as an act of aggression and that any invasion force regardless of its stated reasons for entering Syria will be sent back in “wooden coffins”.

Nevertheless, US President Barack Obama has welcomed the Saudi plan to intervene in Syria.

Obama’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is this week due to meet in Brussels with counterparts from the US-led so-called “anti-terror” coalition to make a decision on the whether to activate the Saudi plan. A Saudi military spokesman has already said that if the US-led coalition gives its consent then his country will proceed with the intervention.

In recent weeks, Carter and other senior US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, have been calling for increased regional Arab military action against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Carter and Biden have also said the US is prepared to send in its own ground troops en masse if the Geneva peace talks collapse.

Now, those talks appear to be floundering. So, does that mean that a large-scale invasion of US-led foreign armies in Syria is on the way?

Let’s step back a moment and assess what is really going on. The Saudi warning – or more accurately “threat” – of military intervention in Syria is not the first time that this has been adverted to. Back in mid-December, when Riyadh announced the formation of a 34-Islamic nation alliance to “fight terrorism”, the Saudis said that the military alliance reserved the right to invade any country where there was deemed to be a terror threat – including Syria.

Another factor is that the House of Saud is not pleased with US-led diplomatic efforts on Syria. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s bustling to organize the Geneva negotiations – supposedly to find a peace settlement to the five-year conflict – is seen by the Saudis as giving too many concessions to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and his foreign allies, Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The Geneva talks – which came unstuck last week – can be arguably assessed as not a genuine internal Syria process to resolve the war – but rather they are a cynical political attempt by Washington and its allies to undermine the Syrian government for their long-held objective of regime change. The inclusion among the political opposition at Geneva of Al Qaeda-linked militants, Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, with Western backing, illustrates the ulterior purpose.

The Washington Post gave the game away when it reported at the weekend: “The Obama administration has found itself increasingly backed into a corner by Russian bombing in Syria that its diplomacy has so far appeared powerless to stop.”

In other words, the Geneva diplomacy, mounted in large part by Kerry, was really aimed at halting the blistering Russian aerial campaign. The four-month intervention ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned the tide of the entire Syrian war, allowing the Syrian Arab Army to win back strategically important terrain.

That the Russian military operations have not stopped, indeed have stepped up, has caused much consternation in Washington and its allies.

Russia and Syria can reasonably argue that the UN resolutions passed in November and December give them the prerogative to continue their campaign to defeat ISIS and all other Al Qaeda-linked terror groups. But it seems clear now that Kerry was counting on the Geneva talks as a way of stalling the Russian-Syrian assaults on the regime-change mercenaries.

Kerry told reporters over the weekend that he is making a last-gasp attempt to persuade Russia to call a ceasefire in Syria. Indicating the fraught nature of his discussions with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Kerry said: “The modalities of a ceasefire itself are also being discussed… But if it’s just talks for the sake of talks in order to continue the bombing, nobody is going to accept that, and we will know that in the course of the next days.”

Moscow last week was adamant that it would not stop its bombing operations until “all terrorists” in Syria have been defeated. Syria’s Foreign Minister al-Muallem reiterated this weekend that there would be no ceasefire while illegally armed groups remain in Syria.

What we can surmise is that because the US-led covert military means for regime change in Syria is being thwarted and at the same time the alternative political means for regime change are also not gaining any traction – due to Russia and Syria’s astuteness on the ulterior agenda – the Washington axis is now reacting out of frustration.

Part of this frustrated reaction are the threats from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other regional regimes – with US tacit approval – to go-ahead with a direct military intervention.

In short, it’s a bluff aimed at pressuring Syria and Russia to accommodate the ceasefire demands, which in reality are to serve as a breathing space for the foreign-backed terrorist proxies.

From a military point of view, the Saudi troop invasion cannot be taken remotely serious as an effective deployment. We only have to look at how the Saudi regime has been battered in Yemen over the past 10 months – in the Arab region’s poorest country – to appreciate that the Saudis have not the capability of carrying out a campaign in Syria.

As American professor Colin Cavell noted to this author: “Saudi intervention in Syria will have as much success as its intervention in Yemen. History has clearly shown that mercenary forces will never fight external wars with any success or elan, and no Saudi soldier in his right mind truly supports the Saudi monarchy. Everyone in Saudi Arabia knows that the House of Saud has no legitimacy, is based solely on force and manipulation, propped up by the US and the UK, and – if it did not have so much money – is a joke, run by fools.”

Thus, while a military gambit is decidedly unrealistic, the real danger is that the Saudi rulers and their American patrons have become so unhinged from reality that they could miscalculate and go into Syria. That would be like a spark in a powder keg. It will be seen as an act of war on Syria and its allies, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. The US would inevitably be drawn fully into the spiral of a world war.

History has illustrated that wars are often the result not of a single, willful decision – but instead as the result of an ever-quickening process of folly.

Syria is just one potential cataclysm.


Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bahrain ready for Syria deployment under Saudi lead: Diplomat

Press TV – February 6, 2016

The tiny Persian Gulf state of Bahrain says it is ready to deploy ground forces to Syria under the Saudi leadership as foreign-backed militants are losing ground in the face of the Syrian army advances.

The announcement by Bahraini Ambassador to Britain Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa on Friday came after Saudi Arabia said it was ready to send troops to Syria.

In a statement, Sheikh Fawaz said Manama would commit troops to operate “in concert with the Saudis” in Syria.

The Bahraini diplomat said the Saudi initiative was meant to combat both Daesh and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, the [Persian] Gulf states are determined to take positive action within the region and globally to combat terrorism and extremism, from whatever quarter they emanate,” he said.

Sheikh Fawaz said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was also ready to commit troops to Syria.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are members of the US coalition that has been conducting air raids inside Syria since September 2014 without the Syrian government’s permit or a UN mandate.

They are staunchly opposed to the Syrian government, providing Takfiri militants with arms and funds to topple President Assad.

The Syrian army and allied fighters have made significant advances in recent weeks, especially in the areas near the second city of Aleppo.

In a surprise statement broadcast on the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news network on Thursday, a spokesman for the Saudi defense ministry suggested that the kingdom could send troops to Syria.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is prepared to participate in any ground operations that the anti-Daesh coalition might agree to carry out in Syria if there is consensus among coalition leaders,” the spokesman, Ahmed Asiri, said.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter welcomed the offer, saying he looked forward to discussing it with the Saudi defense minister in Brussels next week.

February 6, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Why the US anti-terror coalition is failing

By Finian Cunningham | American Herald Tribune | January 21 ,2016

There was an underwhelming sense when Pentagon boss Ashton Carter met this week in Paris with other members of the US-led military coalition supposedly fighting the ISIL terror group.

The US-led coalition was set up at the end of 2014 and in theory comprises 60 nations. The main military operation of the alliance is an aerial bombing campaign against terrorist units of IS (also known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh).

At the Paris meeting this week, Secretary of Defense Carter was joined by counterparts from just six countries: France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Australia. Where were the other 54 nations of the coalition?

Carter and French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian patted themselves on the back about “momentum”in their campaign against the terrorist network. However, platitudes aside, there was a noticeable crestfallen atmosphere at the meeting of the shrunken US-led coalition.

One telling point was Carter exhorting Arab countries to contribute more. As a headline in the Financial Times put it: “US urges Arab nations to boost ISIS fight”.

Carter didn’t mention specific names but it was clear he was referring to Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states, including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

When the US initiated the anti-IS coalition in 2014, fighter jets from the Sunni Arab states participated in the aerial campaign. They quickly fell away from the operation and instead directed their military forces to Yemen, where the Saudi-led Arab coalition has been bombing that country non-stop since March 2015 to thwart an uprising by Houthi revolutionaries.

But there is an even deeper, more disturbing reason for the lack of Arab support for the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. That is because Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni monarchies are implicated in funding and arming the very terrorists that Washington’s coalition is supposedly combating.

Several senior US officials have at various times admitted this. Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton labelled Saudi Arabia as the main sponsor of “Sunni extremist groups”in diplomatic cables when she was Secretary of State back in 2009, as disclosed by Wikileaks.

Vice President Joe Biden, while addressing a Harvard University forum in late 2014, also spilled the beans on the Persian Gulf states and Turkey being behind the rise of terror groups in the Middle East.

So there is substantial reason why the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria has not delivered decisive results. It is the same reason why Carter was joined by only six other countries in Paris this week and why there was a glaring absence of Saudi Arabia and other Arab members. These despotic regimes –whom Washington claims as “allies”–are part of the terrorist problem.

Not that the US or its Western allies are blameless. Far from it. It was Washington after all that master-minded the regime-change operations in Iraq and Syria, which spawned the terror groups.

In fact, we can go further and point to evidence, such as the testimony of Lt General Michael Flynn of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which shows that the US enlisted the terror brigades as proxies to do its dirty work in Syria for regime change.

The US and its Western allies conceal this collusion by claiming that they are supporting “moderate rebels”–not extremists. But the so-called moderates have ended up joining the terrorists and sharing their US-supplied weapons. The distinction between these groups is thus meaningless, leaving the baleful conclusion that Washington, London and Paris are simply colluding with terrorism.

US Republican presidential contenders and media pundits berate the Obama administration for not doing enough militarily to defeat IS. Or as Donald Trump’s backer Sarah Palin would say to “kick ass”.

The unsettling truth is that the US cannot do more to defeat terrorism in the Middle East because Washington and its allies are the source of terrorism in the region. Through their meddling and machinations, Washington and its cohorts have created a veritable Frankenstein monster.

The “coalition”that is actually inflicting serious damage to IS and its various terror franchises is that of Russia working in strategic cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army of President Bashar al-Assad. Since Russia began its aerial bombing campaign nearly four months ago, we have seen a near collapse of the terror network’s oil and weapons smuggling rackets and hundreds of their bases destroyed.

Yet Ashton Carter this week accused Russia of impeding the fight against terrorism in Syria because of its support for the Assad government. Talk about double think!

If we strip away the false rhetoric and mainstream media misinformation, Washington’s “anti-terror”coalition can be seen as not merely incompetently leading from behind.

The US, its Western allies and regional client regimes are in the front ranks of the terror problem.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments