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UK’s arms sales to Riyadh three times higher than previously thought

Press TV – July 15, 2021

A new investigation has revealed that Britain has exported around three times as much weaponry and military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which is leading a devastating military aggression against Yemen, than previously believed.

According to a report published by British online newspaper The Independent, the British government’s official figures state that British ministers have signed off 6.7 billion pounds (9.28 US dollars) worth of arms, such as bombs, missiles, and aircraft, to the oil-rich kingdom ever since it started its bombardment campaign of neighboring Yemen back in March 2015.

However, researchers say the actual figure is likely to be close to £20 billion (over $27 billion) because the official numbers do not entail sales carried out under an obscure “open license” system.

The investigation further casts doubts on allegations of the British government about having “one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world.”

The probe emphasized that Britain’s operation of the parallel and less transparent “open license” system gives a more open-ended green light to arms manufacturers to sell specific armaments to a specific country without a monetary limit.

It further noted that the United Kingdom operated an open license for bombs and air-to-surface missiles to Saudi Arabia between 2014 and August 2019.

Moreover, an open license has covered Britain’s sales of equipment and components for use in the twin-engine and multi-role Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia. The warplanes have been used in Saudi airstrikes across Yemen.

The researchers also examined the accounts of companies known to be selling arms to Saudi Arabia, and discovered that the revenues of British multinational arms producer BAE Systems, for instance, totaled nearly 17 billion pounds (23.5 US dollars).

As a result, they estimate that the real value of exports is close to £20 billion ($27 billion).

“The use of open licenses also offers the government a convenient sleight of hand when it comes under pressure over arms sales to a particular country due to events such as wars, military coups, or well-publicized human rights abuses,” the report warns.

Katie Fallon of Campaign Against Arms Trade, which conducted the research, stated, “The use of Open Licenses covers up the real extent of the UK arms trade and makes it impossible to know what quantities of weapons are being sold around the world.”

“UK-made fighter jets, bombs and missiles have had a devastating impact in the ongoing bombardment of Yemen. The fact that the real total of these sales could be so much higher than previously reported emphasizes the central role that the UK government and UK-based companies have played in the war. There must be full transparency about what arms have gone over and in what quantity,” Fallon added.

“So much of the arms industry takes place in secret, and that’s how the arms dealers like it. As long as the widespread use of Open Licenses continues, the true nature and volume of the UK arms trade will remain hidden from scrutiny, and therefore from meaningful control,” Fallon pointed out.

Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and its regional allies, launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.

Yemeni armed forces and allied Popular Committees have, however, gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.

The Saudi war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. The war has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases across the Arab country.

July 16, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Documents reveal US pressure on ex-Yemeni regime to agree on normalizing ties with Israel

Press TV – July 12, 2021

The interior ministry of Yemen’s National Salvation Government has released a series of confidential documents detailing the United States pressure on the administration of former Yemeni dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to normalize relations with Israel and lift the blockade on products made in the Israeli occupied territories.

According to the documents, the US embassy in Sana’a had asked then-Yemeni authorities to end the economic embargo on Israeli goods, and not to participate in any activities deemed harmful to the Tel Aviv regime, the official Yemeni news agency Saba reported.

The papers expose the level of Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s discontent and frustration with the blockade, and how US officials left no stone unturned to force former Yemeni officials into opening the Arab country’s market to Israeli businesses and their products.

The former US ambassador to Yemen, Thomas C. Krajeski, called on Saleh’s regime to lift sanctions on companies with first-, second- or third-degree ties to Israel, which was not turned down by the Yemeni side.

Then-Yemeni foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, later told the US ambassador that the so-called embargo on US and Israeli goods was not actually being enforced.

The documents go on to reveal that the US embassy urged the Yemeni foreign ministry not to dispatch representatives to an anti-Israel event at the University of Damascus in Syria.

Moreover, the American diplomat described Yemen’s removal of boycott of Israeli products as the fundamental prerequisite for the Arab state’s membership in the World Trade Organization, and its access to free trade and international investment.

Last month, Spokesman for Yemen’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Yahya Saree announced that Yemeni security forces had arrested a man involved in espionage activities on behalf of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Saree said in a tweet at the time that more details on the matter will be provided in a documentary entitled “The Spy of Mossad in Yemen.”

The documentary will shed light on part of Israel’s intervention in the country and “the plan to target Yemen militarily, and other secrets revealed for the first time,” the senior Yemeni military figure pointed out.

The developments come as earlier reports said that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been working to establish a spy base on Yemen’s strategically-located island of Socotra.

The UAE has also been accused of constructing an air base on the Mayyun Island, situated off the Yemeni coast in the Bab el-Mandeb.

Both activities have drawn strong condemnation from the Yemeni government, which has described them as violation of Yemen’s sovereignty and international law, especially following the illegally-run tours to Socotra from Abu Dhabi, some of which included Israeli tourists.

“The transfer of tourists to the Socotra Island reveals the plans and programs of the occupying UAE, which are in line with the Zionist schemes to dominate Yemeni islands as well as the steps towards normalization with the regime,” a statement read back then.

Yemen’s popular Ansaullah resistance movement has previously threatened to attack Israel if it was “involved in any action against Yemeni people.”

The Israeli regime took the threats seriously, and deployed its Iron Dome and Patriot missile systems around the southern city of Eilat early this year.

July 12, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yemenis slam US seizure of resistance website domains

By Abdullatif Al-washali | Press TV | June 24, 2021

Sana’a – The US Justice Department committed a new flagrant violation of the freedom of the press and blocked several regional outlets’ websites including the Yemeni channel al-Masirah and Iran’s Press TV claiming they are linked to what it calls Iranian disinformation efforts.

Yemenis condemned this move saying it proves that the US calls for freedom of speech are lies. Yemen’s Ministry of Information said the US government seizure of a few websites confirmed the strength of the media of the resistance and proved that these websites revealed the true face of the US including its participation in the brutal Saudi war on Yemen.

Ali al-Share’e the manager of al-Masirah website said this move revealed the weakness of the US even though it owns thousands of media outlets.

Experts believe that this step is part of a media war of the US government against the media outlets of the resistance. They said these attacks will persist and the resistance axis should be ready for further violations.

Yemenis say the freedom of speech is a fundamental right for all free people of the world and the United States has no right to deny individuals or communities this right. They believe that such attacks will promote the free media outlets to continue exposing the US policies.

June 23, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Yemeni UAVs are changing course of Saudi war

A Yemeni TV report on the “game-changing effects” of low-cost attack drones on the course of the Saudi military campaign in Yemen

Al Masirah TV | May 2, 2021

Transcript:

Eight drone strikes have targeted King Khalid Air Base in Khamis Mushait since the start of the holy month (of Ramadan). Since the beginning of the US-Saudi aggression on Yemen, drone operations – in addition to other air operations – have been striking the (King Khalid) Air Base as a main target.

The series of intensive attacks against the most important military base in the southern region of the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) has shown the inability of modern US defense systems to intercept or destroy these drones. This turn of events has complicated the process of dealing with this type of weapon which is low-cost, but great in effect.

The impact that the (Yemeni) drone operations have had on the workflow of the largest air base in the south of the Kingdom can be clearly seen in the disruption each air operation brings about at most airports in the south of the Kingdom, especially since the operation of defense systems throughout the southern region requires stopping air traffic in order for the defense radars to efficiently monitor the airspace.

Riyadh realizes that the military capabilities that Sana’a possesses have greatly influenced the course of the battle. It also realizes that its military spending on additional weapons did not put an end to its military retreat, especially as US reports acknowledge the difficulty of dealing with this new generation of drones.

The (US-Saudi) aggression coalition’s reliance on its air and military superiority is dwindling in the face of the effectiveness of the Yemeni (military) capabilities, which the (Yemeni) armed forces assert are meant for deterrence and responding to the continuing aggression and siege.

(Please help MEO keep producing independent translations for you by contributing a sustainable monthly amount )

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Biden lied about Yemen

By Caitlin Johnstone | April 29, 2021

The Biden administration has finally admitted that the US is indeed providing offensive material support to Saudi Arabia’s genocidal assault on Yemen, directly contradicting Biden’s February claim that it would no longer be providing offensive support in that war. We are being lied to about yet another US war by yet another US president.

“The United States continues to provide maintenance support to Saudi Arabia’s Air Force given the critical role it plays in Saudi air defense and our longstanding security partnership,” Pentagon spokesperson Jessica McNulty has informed Vox reporter Alex Ward.

“Multiple US defense officials and experts acknowledged that, through a US government process, the Saudi government pays commercial contractors to maintain and service their aircraft, and those contractors keep Saudi warplanes in the air. What the Saudis do with those fighter jets, however, is up to them,” Ward reported, adding, “The US could cancel those contracts at any time, thus effectively grounding the Saudi Air Force, but doing so would risk losing Riyadh as a key regional partner.”

“The recent admission by the Department of Defense that US companies are still authorized to maintain Saudi warplanes … means that our government is still enabling the Saudi operations, including bombings and enforcing a blockade on Yemen’s ports,” Hassan El-Tayyab, the legislative manager for Middle East policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation lobbying group, told Ward.

El-Tayyab is on record speaking out after Biden’s deceitful February announcement, saying this administration needs to make it abundantly clear what it actually means by ending offensive support for the war on Yemen and actually stick to it.

“I’m not a full pessimist here. I welcome the news,” he told Al Jazeera at the time, adding, “But I’m just trying to stay vigilant and not take the foot off the gas on advocacy pressure. Because we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Well, now we do know. The US is maintaining and servicing the warplanes that are bombing Yemen and enforcing a blockade, which has killed hundreds of thousands and the United Nations warns could kill 400,000 more this year alone if conditions don’t change, proving Joe Biden a liar and vindicating the experts and activists who cautioned against accepting his announcement on blind faith.

Getting to this point where questions are finally answered about the reality of the Biden administration’s Yemen policy has been like pulling teeth, with officials giving questioners the runaround for months on this issue. Watch this clip of US Yemen Envoy Tim Lenderking dodging questions like George Bush dodges shoes as congressman Ted Lieu tries to get a straight answer as to whether the US has stopped supporting the war on Yemen:

Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp writes the following:

“The admission comes over two months since President Biden said he was ending support for Riyadh’s ‘offensive’ operations in Yemen. Vox reporter Alex Ward asked Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Monday if the planes that the US is servicing could be used for offensive operations in Yemen. Kirby admitted that the ‘maintenance support for systems could be used for both’ offensive and defensive operations. … Besides continuing to maintain the Saudi Air Force, the Biden administration has given Riyadh the political cover to continue enforcing the blockade on Yemen. Biden officials have claimed that Yemen is not under a blockade, even though Saudi warships are preventing fuel shipments from docking in the port of Hudaydah, which makes it impossible to deliver food to Yemen’s starving civilian population.”

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the [Saudi-led] war … mostly from what it calls “indirect causes.” Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades.”

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making those parts [of the country, which are] controlled by Yemen’s Ansarullah movement so weak and miserable that they break.

The United States lies about all its wars with the help of the mass media, but up until this year its lies about Yemen have largely consisted of lies by omission: simply not talking about Yemen (like when MSNBC went an entire year without mentioning it a single time during the height of Russiagate hysteria), reporting on the famine as though it’s the result of a tragic natural disaster, or omitting America’s role in the slaughter. This time, it was just a straightforward lie: Biden said the US was ending offensive support, and it wasn’t.

As we’ve discussed previously, when the people demand something of their government it’s a lot easier to simply tell them you’re on their side and redirect them than to tell them no. Democrats are especially good at this.

As awareness grows that Yemen is the single most horrifying atrocity taking place in our world today, pressure is mounting for the US government to use its tremendous amount of leverage over Saudi Arabia to cease the human butchery. Rather than increasing that pressure by saying no, the Biden administration defused it by falsely pretending to give in to the demands. Because the risk of “losing Riyadh as a key regional partner” was deemed too great.

And meanwhile the slaughter continues, unbroken from Obama to Trump and from Trump to Biden. The names change, the narratives change, but the murderous imperial war machine rolls on uninterrupted.

May 2, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Washington Institute Calls Yemeni Forces as New Hezbollah, Warns against Augmenting Military Capabilities of Ansarullah

Al-Manar | April 4, 2021

The augmenting military capabilities of the Yemeni Armed Forces have been increasingly worrying the United States of America and the Zionist entity, according to The Washington Institute for the Near East Policy.

The study, titled “Yemen’s ‘Southern Hezbollah’: Implications of Houthi Missile and Drone Improvements”, called on the US administration to deal with the “Houthis” as a challenge that will go beyond the war in Yemen.

In light of the recent Yemeni attacks on the Saudi home front, the study concentrated on the development of Yemen’s missile and drone industries, calling on U.S. diplomats and military planners to factor this threat complex into their future calculations beyond the current Yemen war.

The study also considered that the Yemeni armed forces can develop missile/drone assembly industry further range increases, adding that the Yemeni forces would be able to reach new targets if they so desire—perhaps ‘Israel’ given their known enmity toward that country, or even Egypt and Jordan as part of a wider effort to exert themselves in the Red Sea (e.g., hindering international shipping, targeting Suez Canal infrastructure).

The study warned against the possible victory of the Yemeni army and popular committees (Ansarullah) in Marib, considering that either a win or a draw would ensconce the Houthis as “a new ‘southern Hezbollah’ on the Red Sea—mirroring the position of Lebanese Hezbollah on the Mediterranean—with a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and drones capable of threatening the Suez Canal, the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the Gulf states, the Red Sea states, and perhaps even ‘Israel’”.

April 4, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Crashing Saudi Oil Economy Explains Urgent Yemeni Peace Offer

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | March 26, 2021

After six years of blowing up Yemen and blockading its southern neighbor, the Saudi rulers are now saying they are committed to finding peace. The move is less about genuine peace than economic survival for the oil kingdom.

The Saudi monarchy say they want “all guns to fall completely silent”. Washington, which has been a crucial enabler of the Saudi war on Yemen, has backed the latest “peace offer”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week endorsed the initiative from the Saudi rulers, saying he had spoken with them “on our work together to end the conflict in Yemen, facilitate humanitarian access and aid for the Yemeni people”.

The Saudi foreign ministry stated: “The initiative aims to end the human suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people, and affirms the kingdom’s support for efforts to reach a comprehensive political resolution.”

Can you believe this sickening duplicity from the Saudis and the Americans?

So, after six years of relentless aerial bombing in Yemen causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, the Saudis and their American military supplier, seem to have developed a conscience for peace and ending suffering.

The real reason for trying to end the conflict is the perilous state of the Saudi oil-dependent economy. Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil, gas and petroleum industry, recently announced that its profits have slumped by nearly half in 2020 compared with the year before. Down from $88 billion to $49 billion.

Given that its oil economy provides nearly 90 per cent of state budget that is a stupendous hit on the Saudi finances. The Saudi rulers rely on hefty state subsidies to keep its 34 million population content. With income from the oil industry nosediving that means state deficits will explode to maintain public spending, or else risk social unrest from dire cutbacks.

Saudi Arabia remains the biggest oil exporter, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and world economies going into recession crude oil prices have plummeted. At one point oil prices fell to around $20 a barrel. The Saudi economy needs an oil price of around $70 a barrel to reel in a profit.

The upshot is the Saudi war in Yemen has become a critical drain on state finances and potentially jeopardizing the superficial stability of the absolute monarchy.

Of further alarm is the increasing missile and drone attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen on key Saudi locations, including the capital Riyadh.

The Yemeni rebels are escalating airstrikes on Aramco installations at its headquarters in Dhahran and Dammam in Eastern Province, as well as in the cities of Abha, Azir, Jazan, and Ras Tanura. The targets include oil refineries and export terminals. The Saudis claim they have intercepted a lot of the missiles with U.S.-made Patriot defense systems. Nevertheless, the mere fact that the Yemenis can hit key parts of the Saudi oil economy over a distance of 1,000 kilometers is a grave security concern undermining investor confidence.

The first major strike was in September 2019 when Houthi drones hit the huge refinery complex at Abqaiq. That caused Saudi oil production to temporarily shut down by half. It also delayed an Initial Public Offering of Aramco shares on the stock market as investors took fright over political risk.

At a time when the Saudi oil economy is contracting severely due to worldwide circumstances, an additional debilitating threat is the intensifying campaign of Houthi airstrikes. They are taking the war into Saudi heartland.

The Biden administration has condemned the Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia as “unacceptable”. Such American concern is derisory given how Washington has been providing warplanes, missiles and logistics for the Saudis to indiscriminately bomb Yemen causing tens of thousands of deaths. The Americans also enable the Saudis to impose a blockade on Yemen’s sea and airports, which has prevented vital food and medicines from being supplied to the country. Nearly 80 per cent of Yemen’s 30 million population are dependent on foreign aid deliveries. The blockade is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and the Americans are fully complicit.

President Joe Biden has said he is ending U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. It was an election promise. However, it is not clear what military support the U.S. has actually stopped, if at all. The Saudi bombing of food depots continues and the blockade on the country could not be maintained without essential American logistics.

More cynically, the Biden administration realizes that the Saudis started a war back in March 2015, when Obama was president and Biden was vice-president, that has turned into an un-winnable quagmire whose horrendous human suffering has become a vile stain on America’s international image.

That’s why Biden and his diplomats have been urging the Saudi rulers to sue for peace. Now it seems the Saudi monarchy realizes that the reckless war launched by “defense minister” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come with a price that they can’t afford to sustain if they want to preserve their rickety house of cards, known as the House of Saud.

On the latest peace proposal, the Yemeni rebels have rejected it out of hand. They say it contains “nothing new”. The Houthis say the only way to end the war is for the Saudis and their American sponsors to end the aggression on their country. There is no “deal”. It is a case of the Saudis and the Americans just getting out.

Meantime, the airstrikes on Saudi oil infrastructure are going to continue with ever-increasing damage to the royal coffers. Thus, the Saudi rulers have no choice but to unconditionally surrender in this criminal war. They are facing a humiliating defeat as the Yemenis take revenge and Uncle Sam washes his hands of blood.

March 27, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

Rights group slams exclusion of Israel, Saudi-led coalition from UN’s children-in-conflict blacklist

Press TV – March 19, 2021

A group of child rights experts has strongly criticized the UN secretary-general for excluding eight parties, including the Israeli regime and the Saudi-led coalition, from a global blacklist of parties accountable for harming children during conflicts.

In a report, experts from Watchlist on Children, an international child rights group, said at least eight parties to conflicts were found responsible for killing and maiming more than 100 children in a single year but were excluded from the blacklist.

There were “numerous discrepancies and omissions in listing decisions, as well as unwarranted delisting decisions,” the report said, noting that the UN Security Council’s 2001 resolution establishing the list to protect children from the horrors of war “is being seriously undermined” and could result in “putting children at even greater risk.”

“The secretary-general’s 2015 annual report acknowledges that the number of children killed by Israel in 2014 was the third highest in the world and the number of schools damaged or destroyed was the highest anywhere in the world that year, and yet Israel has not been listed in the report’s annexes,” the report said.

It added that at the time the news media reported that Israel and the United States conducted intense lobbying to prevent the regime’s blacklisting.

The child rights experts also cited annual reports that have repeatedly found Israeli forces responsible for high levels of Palestinian child casualties, including over 1,525 killed and maimed in 2020 alone.

“Yet Israeli forces have yet to be included in the annexed list of violators,” they added.

According to the AP, co-author Yanghee Lee, former chair of the committee that monitors implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, said: “We are calling on the secretary-general to urgently address these problems and commit to hold all countries and groups responsible for violations against children accountable without fear or favor.”

In response to the report, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stands by the report’s conclusions, expressing willingness to engage with relevant partners in how to improve the system.

Benyam Dawit Mezmur, another co-author of the report urged the UN to ensure that the list of perpetrators it issues is “more credible, accurate, complete, and evidence-based, or risk pulling apart this unique tool for the protection of children caught in war.”

The report also said the Saudi-led war coalition against Yemen was delisted in 2020 for killing and maiming children in the Arab country, despite being responsible for a documented 222 child casualties during the reporting period.

“With this delisting, the Saudi-led coalition has been removed from the Secretary-General’s list altogether,” it noted.

Citing the Secretary-general’s reports that said the Saudi-led coalition was delisted due to a “sustained significant decrease” in the number of violations they committed, the rights experts said such argument runs counter to the established delisting criteria.

“This runs counter to the delisting criteria established in 2010 and the Security Council’s stated expectations that listing is based on whether or not grave violations against children took place in violation of international obligations,” they maintained.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Saudi war on Yemen has killed a quarter of a million people, including women and children, since it was launched in March 2015 with the aim of restoring the Riyadh-friendly government of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

March 19, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trade-Off ahead on Syria and Yemen

By Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog | March 16, 2021

In the past few weeks much has happened in the area of diplomacy on the part of Russia. Russia is forging ahead after stepping up its presence in the Middle East in the past decade, taking a strong pro-active political role. Moscow during this period has been intent on consolidating its efforts in re-establishing itself as the key player in any political settlements in the Middle East. Ever since Kissinger in the late 1970’s pulled the rug out from underneath the feet of the USSR, striking a deal between Israel and Egypt, excluding the USSR and the rest of the Arab World, the political influence of Russia in the Middle East significantly waned until it came back with deciding force when Russia responded to the Syrian Government’s request for help in September 2015.

Lately, the economic crisis has deepened in Syria following the drastic Western sanctions. And specifically after the implementation of the Caesar’s Act, the Syrian currency took a huge tumble and the cost of living has soared to unprecedented levels. This left many cynics wondering and pondering what was Russia going to do in the face of the collapsed Syrian economy after having achieved an impressive military victory, taking its troops outside its former USSR borders for the first time and heralding the end of the single super power status of the USA.

To this effect, and on the diplomatic side, Russian FM Lavrov has recently visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE for talks pertaining to an array of issues. The agenda issues that transpired to the media include trade, the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, as well as issues of global and regional security, albeit vague in details as what ‘security issues’ mean.

It appears that in these meetings, discussions included the return of Syria to the Arab League and the cost of reconstruction of Syria after ten years of war, a bill touted to exceed $Bn200. Expectations have existed for some time that the Arab Gulf states will fork out a huge chunk of this cost. As mentioned above, the bottom line here is that Russia’s military success in its operation in Syria needs to be followed by political success. Partly, this is achieved within the Astana talks which include Turkey and Iran. However, the very same Arab States instrumental in the ‘War on Syria’ are also instrumental in facilitating the return of Syria to the Arab League, the reconstruction efforts in Syria and the easing of sanctions. The Gulf states have always reiterated that there will be no return of Syria to the Arab League for as long as Iranian forces remain on the ground. The UAE seemed more open than Saudi Arabia to the prospects of Syria’s return to the Arab League and financing the reconstruction process.

But why would the Gulf States, the same states that spent tens of billions of dollars in order to destroy Syria, be suddenly now interested in the reversal of the process? This is a fair question to ask.

Quite unexpectedly, and almost immediately after the return of Lavrov to Moscow, a top delegation of Hezbollah, headed by Mohamad Raad, was invited to Moscow for talks. Apparently, the visit was cloaked in a veil of secrecy in Russia and was not at all covered in Western media, even though it made news in Arabic mainstream media. It would be politically naïve to imagine that Lavrov’s visit to the Gulf has no relation to this. All issues in the Middle East are related to each other, including the war in Yemen.

To put it succinctly, the UAE had already stepped away from the Yemen war. However, Saudi Arabia remains bogged down in this travesty and seven years on, must have come to the humiliating and painful realization that it is a war it cannot win. This is where Iran and Hezbollah can have leverage in any direct or indirect negotiations with the Saudis, and Russia is the only arbitrator who is able to communicate with all parties involved.

All parties in the Middle East are looking for face-saving tradeoffs; at least partial and interim ones. The Saudis in particular are tired and exhausted.

In an interview given to Sputnik Arabic, one not widely reported in other media, not even Sputnik English, Raad praised the cooperation between Hezbollah and Russia, stating that ‘the invitation we received aims to reopen the dialogue about the next phase after having reached the achievements that serve the interests of the people of the region in the recent past’ .

This is Raad’s first visit to Moscow since 2011. Of that visit, I am not trying to speculate in hindsight of the purpose of it and the achievements of it. Furthermore, Hezbollah has not ever been party to any international dis-engagement or peace negotiations in the past, except for ones relating to exchange of prisoners. The economic demise of Syria and Lebanon, as well as the Saudi-Yemeni impasse, may well have placed Hezbollah in a position of participating in peace-deals negotiations this time.

I am neither referring to peace deals with Israel here, nor any deal involving disarmament. Hezbollah will not be prepared to negotiate disarming itself under any political settlement either today or in the foreseeable future, and Moscow is totally aware of this.

According to my analysis, the deal that Moscow is most likely to suggest is a mutual withdrawal of Iran and Hezbollah from Syria on one hand, and an end of the Saudi war on Yemen. It is simple, Saudi Arabia to leave Yemen and Iran/Hezbollah to leave Syria. I believe that Lavrov has already secured the Saudi acceptance of those terms, terms that will not only end the war in Yemen, but also the return of Syria to the Arab League and a possible easing of the Western economic sanctions on Syria. Had Lavrov not secured the Saudi assurance, he would not have invited Hezbollah for talks.

A deal of this nature can potentially end the criminal human tragedy in Yemen in a manner that will portray the Saudis as the real losers in the war, and this is where they need a face-saving trade-off in Syria. In Syria, they will be perceived as winners by securing an Iranian/Hezbollah exit. But most importantly perhaps for the Saudis, this will put an end to a very costly and humiliating war in Yemen, one which is beginning to draw criticism from some quarters of the international community, including alleged talk of America considering placing arms deal embargos on Saudi Arabia.

On the other hand, if Iran and Hezbollah end their presence in Syria, many sanctions are likely to be lifted and the severe economic pressure in Syria will be eased. Such a deal will be a humanitarian win for Syria and Yemen, a strategic win for Saudi Arabia and Iran, and a diplomatic win for Russia.

What will be in it for Hezbollah will largely depend on what Lavrov has put on the table, and it seems obvious that it is Hezbollah that will need more convincing than Iran, and this is why the talks are now with Hezbollah; not with Iranian officials. Perhaps the deal already has the tacit approval of Iranian officials.

It goes without saying; Israel will be watching these developments with keen interest. Israel wants Iran and Hezbollah out of Syria. But the trade-off deal I am talking about is not one in which Israel is a direct party.

What is known at this stage is that a meeting has already taken place between the Hezbollah delegation and Russian officials. As I write this, I am not aware if other meetings are to follow and or whether or not the Hezbollah delegation is back in Lebanon.

Was the 2011 Moscow visit of Raad a prelude for Hezbollah to enter Syria? Will the 2021 visit be prelude for Hezbollah to leave Syria? We don’t know. We may never find out the actual detailed outcome of the mysterious-but-not-so-mysterious current Hezbollah visit. It may not even end up with a press release, but in the next coming days, we will find out if a Syria-Yemen trade-off is indeed looming.

March 16, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US ‘ceasefire plan’ meant to prolong Yemen’s descent into turmoil: Ansarullah

Press TV – March 13, 2021

The spokesman for Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement has dismissed the US proposal for a nationwide ceasefire in the war-torn country, saying the plan would plunge Yemen further into turmoil.

“The US plan doesn’t include breaking the siege or ceasing fire. It is actually a detour which would lead to a resumption of a (Saudi) blockade diplomatically,” Mohammed Abdul-Salam said in an interview with Yemen’s al-Masirah television Friday evening.

“One of the conditions presented in the initiative is to determine the destinations of flights departing Sana’a airport, and for the coalition of aggression to issue flight permits. This means they are not licensed here in Sana’a,” he said.

“If they were serious to stop the aggression and siege, they would have declared a complete end to hostilities and blockade. We would then welcome the measure. Aggression and siege against Yemen have not stopped even for a single day over the past six years, so what is the US concept of ceasing fire or breaking the siege?” Abdul-Salam added.

The Ansarullah spokesman said the US presentation of Saudi conditions as a so-called peace plan once again proved that Washington explicitly supports the Saudi war and blockade against Yemen.

He further noted that what the US special envoy on Yemen, Tim Lenderking, presented was a plot to plunge the Arab state further into turmoil.

“It is unacceptable for an American envoy to present a plan which is inferior to that of the United Nations special envoy for Yemen (Martin Griffiths),” Abdul-Salam said.

He said there is no real change towards ending the Saudi war and lifting the siege, stressing that such matters lie in the hands of the other side.

“They want us to respond through dialogue to what they have not achieved by means of war and siege. Everyone must realize such a fact,” the senior Ansarullah official added.

Abdul-Salam also rejected as “a big lie” the US envoy’s allegations that humanitarian aid deliveries have not been distributed among the needy Yemenis, stating that the coalition of aggression illegally impounds Yemen-bound oil vessels irrespective of the fact they all have acquired international permits beforehand.

“We have accepted all conditions proposed by other parties to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Having found no excuse to continue the blockade, they are alleging aid deliveries have not reached those in need,” the Ansarullah spokesman said.

Houthi: Trust in US comes from actions, not words

A member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council said Ansarullah is ready to return to the negotiating table with a serious goal of ending the conflict, but it must first see concrete steps from the administration of US President Joe Biden.

“Trust is built by actions, not words,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi told CNN on Friday.

“Trust must be achieved through decision-making. So far, we have not seen any concrete decisions being made,” he added.

He noted that President Biden was a member of former US president Barack Obama’s administration, which declared at the time that Washington was joining the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen.

“They also gave the green light to the coalition to continue massacre in our country and agreed to it,” Houthi added.

‘Washington must drop Saudi conditions’

Abdul-Malik al-Ajri, a member of Ansarullah’s political bureau, said on Friday that his movement views the US ceasefire proposal in favor of Saudi Arabia, and would not accept it.

“The US special envoy on Yemen [Tim] Lenderking has presented proposals to end the war and has called on Ansarullah to respond,” Ajri wrote in a post published on his Twitter page.

“The truth is what he has offered is the same as Saudi Arabia’s conditions for a ceasefire. Linderking should know in case such suggestions were acceptable, we would have directly received them from Saudi Arabia. There was then no need for the US envoy to repeat Saudis’ narrative.”

Lenderking: Ansarullah’s ability is undeniable fact

The top US diplomat for Yemen on Friday touched on the role of Ansarullah and said its ability is a straightforward fact.

Lenderking said during a webinar with the Atlantic Council think tank that the movement is a “significant player” in Yemen and it needs to be acknowledged.

“I don’t think you can operate by denying that reality,” he said, claiming that the US “never said the Houthis have no role in Yemen.”

Lenderking, who recently returned from a three-week trip to the region, added that Washington is looking for the Ansarullah’s response to its peace plan.

“I will return immediately when the Houthis are prepared to talk,” Lenderking noted.

March 13, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Red Cross: US adding Yemen’s Houthis to terrorist list will have ‘chilling effect’ on humanitarian aid

RT | January 14, 2021

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said it is worried that the US designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist group will severely hurt much-needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

“In particular, the ICRC is concerned about the possible ‘chilling effect’ the designation may have on humanitarian action, leading to it being impeded or delayed,” the agency’s director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, said in a statement.

“Increased operational risks and possible de-risking from the banking and private sectors in response to the designation ultimately may constrain the humanitarian response in Yemen.”

Stillhart urged the US government to consider “humanitarian carve-outs” from their designation in order to mitigate any negative impact on the “affected population.”

On January 10, the US added the Houthis, the Iranian-backed rebel force which seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa in 2014, to its list of foreign terrorist organizations. Three Houthi leaders were also separately designated as global terrorists.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move is intended to hold the Houthi movement accountable for “its terrorist acts, including cross-border attacks threatening civilian populations, infrastructure, and commercial shipping.”

A Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Gulf states launched an intervention against the Houthis in 2015, carrying out a devastating aerial bombing campaign. The Houthis responded by launching missiles into Saudi Arabia.

Three ICRC workers were among the dozens killed in an ambush on Aden International Airport on December 30, as the newly-formed cabinet for the government-controlled parts of the country landed back in Yemen from Riyadh. The Houthis have been blamed for the attack, but denied responsibility.

In early December, the UN reported that at least 233,000 people have perished during the five years of war, including 131,000 who died from the lack of food, health services, and infrastructure. The UN’s humanitarian office in Yemen projected that 24.3 million people there will need some form of humanitarian aid this year.

January 15, 2021 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | 3 Comments

Western animosity towards Iran due to its support for Palestinian cause, Yemeni PM says

Press TV | January 8, 2021

The prime minister of Yemen’s National Salvation Government has denounced attempts to form an anti-Iran front as part of a joint Israeli-Arab-US project, emphasizing that such bids aim to counter Tehran’s untrammelled support for the Palestinian cause and oppressed Palestinians.

“The normalization of relations between some regional rulers and the Zionist regime (Israel) is part of the Zionist-Arab-American scheme, and they are now seeking to form an alliance against Iran because it has stood with Palestine,” Abdulaziz bin Habtoor said on Thursday.

He added, “The project of partitioning Arab and Muslim world was drawn more than one hundred years ago in the service of the Zionist plan and the occupation of Palestine.”

Habtoor highlighted that any move that resists the Zionist project in the region will be met with fierce Western opposition.

He said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have a specific and shared goal to disintegrate Yemen, besides certain plots to cement their dominance and influence in Yemen.

“The UAE seeks to wrest control over a number of Yemeni cities, islands and bases, and Saudi Arabia wants to dominate other sectors,” Habtoor noted.

The Yemeni prime minister then dismissed attempts by the Saudi-led coalition member states to present a united front as “a big lie,” stating they will turn on each other and clash in the future due to profound differences existing among them.

‘Appointment of Iranian ambassador to Sana’a broke Saudi diplomatic siege’

Separately, a member of the Yemeni Supreme Political Council on Thursday welcomed the appointment of Iranian Ambassador to Sana’a, Hassan Irloo, stating that the step broke the diplomatic embargo that the Saudi-led coalition had imposed on the country.

Major General Sultan al-Samaei pointed to the deeply historical ties between Yemen and Iran, underlining that the Yemeni nation’s resistance embodies the axis of resistance that the Islamic Republic of Iran and Yemen are part of and their common stance against colonial powers, spearheaded by the Israeli regime and its allies.

Irloo, for his part, said Iran will not hesitate to support Yemeni people by transferring its capabilities in all fields.

The Iranian envoy stressed that relations between Tehran and Sana’a will witness broader cooperation in various spheres.

Irloo has recently been appointed as Iran’s ambassador to Yemen. In early November, he submitted his credentials to Mahdi al-Mashat, president of the Supreme Political Council of Yemen. Since then he was in the US and its regional allies’ crosshairs.

On December 8, the US slapped sanctions on the ambassador on allegations that Irloo was “linked” to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), without providing any proof.

January 8, 2021 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment