Archive | Saudi Arabia

Five Civilians Killed in Yemen Raid

NOVANEWS
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Reprieve 

Reprieve has learned that five civilians were killed in the raid by US Navy SEALs overnight. It is thought that at least two al-Qaeda fighters were also killed.

This contradicts the version of events put forward by the US military, which claimed seven militants were killed.

Reprieve has spoken to sources from the village of Al-Jubah in Marib province, Yemen who witnessed the raid. They confirmed the names of the five dead as:

  • Nasser Ali Mahdi Al-Adhal
  • Al-Ghader Saleh Salem Al-Adhal
  • Saleh Al-Taffaf
  • Yasser Al-Taffaf Al-Adhel
  • Shebreen Saeed Salem Al-Adhal

None of them were fighting for al-Qaeda. One of those killed, Nasser al-Adhal, was around 70 years of age and partially blind. According to witnesses, he was shot when he tried to greet the Navy Seals, mistaking them for guests arriving in the village.

The four other villagers were killed when they started to argue with the Navy Seals after the shooting of Nasser al-Adhal. Six villagers were seriously injured, including another elderly man who was around 69-years-old.

Al-Qaeda fighters gathering nearby, who are thought to have been the original target of the raid, were alerted by the gunshots in the village and firefight ensued in which at least two of them were killed. The Navy SEALs then left with the help of air support from a helicopter.

Commenting, Kate Higham, Head of the Assassinations Programme at Reprieve said:

“This new flawed raid by President Trump shows the US is not capable of distinguishing a terrorist from an innocent civilian. When even a 70-year-old is shot dead, it is clear these attacks are not targeted or precise. President Trump must order an immediate investigation into what went wrong and halt all raids and drone strikes before more innocent Yeminis are killed.”

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The Riyadh Declaration of Escalated Regional War

NOVANEWS
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By Stephen Lendman 

On the phony pretext of combating ISIS, the scourge America and its rogue regional allies support, a so-called Riyadh Declaration was agreed to by 55 Muslim countries in the Saudi capital on Sunday.

Claiming it’s “to combat terrorism in all its forms, address its intellectual roots, dry up its sources of funding, and take all necessary measures to prevent and combat terrorist crimes in close cooperation among their states” is a statement of mass deception.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and America’s regional presence constitute the epicenter of regional and global state terrorism – supporting its scourge, not combating it.

The Saudi Press Agency, saying “a global center for countering extremist thought… combating intellectual, media and digital extremism, and promoting coexistence and tolerance among peoples” based in Riyadh would be laughable if the threat posed by Washington, the Saudis and other regional rogue states wasn’t so grave.

Riyadh Declaration signatory countries committed to provide “a reserve force of 34,000 troops” – not “to support operations against terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria when needed,” as claimed.

They’ll partner with Washington’s destructive imperial agenda, a plot to eliminate Syrian and Iranian sovereignty, assuring endless Middle East wars.

Iran was especially singled out, the document saying signatories “confirmed their absolute rejection of the practices of the Iranian regime designed to destabilize the security and stability of the region and the world at large and for its continuing support for terrorism and extremism” – polar opposite Tehran’s agenda.

It’s targeted for its sovereign independence, a nation America doesn’t control, a Saudi rival. Imperial plans call for regime change.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted “Iran – fresh from real elections – attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation (Saudi Arabia). Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480 billion?”

Separately in a London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed news network op-ed, Zarif said Trump “must enter into dialogue with (the Saudis) about ways to prevent terrorists and Takfiris from continuing to fuel the fire in the region and repeating the likes of the September 11 incident by their sponsors in Western countries.”

“(T)he Iranophobia project (was) initiated and promoted by the Zionist regime for years… Iran (seeks) stability in the entire region because it knows that achieving security at home at the expense of insecurity among neighbors is basically impossible.”

Sadly as Zarif knows, US and Saudi policies foster terrorism, using ISIS and likeminded groups to further their imperial agendas.

Trump’s Sunday Muslim world address was an exercise in deception – exposed by longstanding US policies, its endless wars of aggression, and announced deal to sell Riyadh hundreds of billions of dollars worth of powerful weapons over the next decade, entirely for offense, not defense.

Washington’s goal isn’t “stamping out (terrorist) extremism,” as Trump claimed, it’s supporting and encouraging it to further US aims for unchallenged global dominance.

The Riyadh Declaration is part of the scheme to pursue this objective, polar opposite what its signatories claim.

Stephen Lendman can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

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Trump’s Saudi visit wasn’t about Islam or Iran. It’s about America First.

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By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

The Saudi Arabian government didn’t do well to schedule US President Donald Trump’s speech at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit at Riyadh for May 21. Just a day earlier, the headlines in the world media were all about a unique event in the Muslim Middle East – free and fair elections in Iran which enabled the moderate-reformist President Hassan Rouhani to secure a second term by beating an opponent who was widely seen as representing the religious establishment.

Trump would have understood the awkwardness of his position. He was obliged to show gratitude to his Saudi hosts who propose to spend $350 billion in the US economy that would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for the American people. On the other hand, he was expected to condemn and pillory what is, arguably, the one and only democratic country in the Persian Gulf – Iran.

Trump ended up saying the irreducible minimum regarding Iran:

  • But no discussion of stamping out this (terrorism) threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three-safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
  • It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes…The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.
  • Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve. (Transcript)

At the end of the day, Trump settled for a policy to “isolate” Iran and to “pray for the day” when Iran will be an agreeable partner. There was no itch to confront Iran or attack Iran. If a benchmark is needed, go back to George W. Bush’s famous ‘axis of evil’ speech regarding Iran in January 2002. (Watch the YouTube here.)

Indeed, the so-called Riyadh Declaration issued after the Arab-Islamic-American summit of 50 countries on Sunday contained much harsher language regarding Iran, but then, it is essentially a Saudi document, which the regime drafted exercising its prerogative as the host country. By no means is it a statement reflecting the Iran policy of the US or of the other 48 statesmen who gathered in Riyadh, including from Egypt, Pakistan, Oman and so on.

Equally, it was also apparent from the noticeably restrained moderate remarks regarding Iran by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the two joint press conferences with Saudi FM Adel Al Jubeir that the Trump administration took care not to exacerbate tensions with Iran. Jubeir spewed venom, but Tillerson simply listened. In his prepared statements regarding terrorism, interestingly, Tillerson did not even mention Iran. The ‘operative’ part of Tillerson’s remarks during the Q&A can be reproduced as follows:

  • We are closely coordinating our efforts in terms of how to counter Iran’s extremism… in particular its support for foreign fighters… its support of militia not just in Yemen but in Iraq and in Syria.
  • We are coordinating carefully around how we view the nuclear agreement.
  • What I would hope – is that Rouhani now has a new term, and that he use that term to begin a process of dismantling Iran’s network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of that terrorist network, dismantling the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region. That’s what we hope he does. We also hope that he puts an end to [Iran’s] ballistic missile testing. We also hope that he restores the rights of Iranians to freedom… That’s what we hope this election will bring. I’m not going to comment on my expectation. But we hope that if Rouhani wanted to change Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do.
  • So it is our hope that – and we have a new leadership or a renewed leadership beginning another term in Iran – that they will begin to examine what this behavior is gaining for them, and rather, they will find their way back to a place that Iran historically enjoyed: good relations with its neighbors. And that’s what we hope they find their way back to as well. In the meantime, we will continue to take action to make it clear to Iran when their behavior is unacceptable… we will continue to take action through sanctions and we will continue to encourage others in the global community to take action as well so that Iran understands this is not acceptable. So we will be dealing with Iran in the economic sanction front and we will be dealing with Iran in these countries where they have decided to put their presence militarily.

In sum, Tillerson recapitulated the Obama administration’s policies toward Iran. No threat of war – ‘all-options-are-on-the-table’, etc. – no threat of regime change, no containment strategy.  On the contrary, the subtle emphasis has been on the terms of engagement with Iran someday in a conceivable future.

Thereupon, Tillerson dropped a bombshell. The following was his answer when he was asked by a journalist, “Will you ever pick up the phone and call Iran’s foreign minister? Have you ruled out diplomacy with Iran?” :

  • Well, in terms of whether I’d ever pick the phone up, I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation. At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although, in all likelihood, we will talk at the right time.

Tillerson said effectively that the US hopes to engage with Iran “in all likelihood”. It is no small matter that he said this from Riyadh, while summing up what has been an extraordinarily successful visit by Trump in pursuit of his ‘America First’ doctrine.

Of course, the US-Iranian relations will remain highly problematic. But then four years is a long time in politics – and both Trump and Rouhani have that much time in hand. One can anticipate that Tehran will be savvy enough to sense the vibes from Riyadh and accordingly plot the road map ahead in its dealings with the Trump administration.

Do not forget that Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech in 2002 notwithstanding, Washington and Tehran had already got into a waltz in Iraq circa 2005 in a coordinated enterprise to advance Shi’ite empowerment in that country. Both the US and Iran knew the ground rules and the ‘red lines’ in Iraq, and they largely respected them in a co-habitation in mutual interests that was truly exceptional in contemporary world politics.

The bottom line today is that without Iran’s cooperation, the US cannot get very far in the war against the ISIS, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. To be sure, there will be a lot of jostling for space and influence but a US-Iran confrontation is not on cards. Neither side is seeking it.

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Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance

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By Rannie Amiri | CounterPunch 

As the United States prepared to sign a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, royal forces laid siege to al-Awamiya, a restive town of approximately 30,000 in the Qatif district of the country’s Eastern Province. Bulldozers, backed by armored tanks and helicopter gunships, systemically leveled homes and put entire families on the street in the historic Mosawara neighborhood. This came under the guise of a development and “renovation” project for the long-neglected and impoverished city although the regime saw fit to post doctored images of allegedly captured weapons to imply that it was also a security operation.

Last month, anticipating such a move, United Nations experts on poverty, culture and housing rights, “ … called on the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of a 400-year-old walled neighborhood in the village of Awamia. The UN experts warned the development plan for the Al-Masora quarter threatens the historical and cultural heritage of the town with irreparable harm, and may result in the forced eviction of numerous people from their businesses and residences.

“The area is of importance not only to local people and the entire cultural landscape of Awamia, but also has national significance for the history and cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia,” said the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune. “The planned demolition would erase this unique regional heritage in an irreversible manner.” As the report makes clear, the project did not provide for the construction of residential buildings in place of those destroyed.

Awamiya was home to the late Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the fiery cleric who nonetheless peacefully demanded equal rights for the marginalized, oppressed Saudi Shia community. He was ultimately executed by the government in January 2016 after his capture in July 2012. Awamiya is no stranger to aggression, but this past week’s attack and ongoing siege is a new escalation by those yet to be satiated by the killing of Sheikh al-Nimr.

The city’s planned “development” was marked by blocking ambulance access, cordoning off the entrance to Mosawara with concrete barriers, cutting power and shooting at residents. As one said, “It is really painful to demolish a historic and archaeological city like Almosara whose lifespan extends for hundreds of years. Some people who want to close their eyes to the truth and are not affected by the demolition will believe in the lie of development.”

The action comes on the heels of an interview by deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s interview on state television in which he vowed to take the country’s standoff with Tehran inside of Iran’s borders. The offensive was still against Shia Muslims but instead within Saudi borders and the victims his fellow citizens.

It is erroneous and somewhat simplistic to frame the assault strictly in sectarian terms or as a move to appease the religious establishment’s anti-Shia proclivities. Rather, it was meant to send a message to all in the Kingdom of the fate of those who would oppose the authority and the legitimacy of the monarchy. It was to widen the narrow streets of Mosawara to allow tanks easy passage for future operations. It was a reminder to those in the Qatif who might still be emboldened by Sheikh Nimr’s famous declaration, “A century of oppression … enough, we will not be silent and we will not fear. We will call for separation even from this country and let be what will be. Our dignity is dearer than the unity of this land.”

Most importantly, it was to demonstrate that even when the President of the United States visits Saudi Arabia to speak about combating extremism, the regime itself can be extremist without consequence or reproach.

Qana, Lebanon has been the subject of two vicious Israeli attacks and massacres. Gaza withstood untold suffering from a suffocating blockade followed by attack from land, sea and air. The poor villages outside of Manama, Bahrain, have withered under the pervasive repression of the al-Khalifa dynasty. Now another has joined their ranks.

Al-Awamiya: city under siege, city of resistance.

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Trump’s Saudi visit wasn’t about Islam or Iran. It’s about America First.

NOVANEWS

Image result

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline 

The Saudi Arabian government didn’t do well to schedule US President Donald Trump’s speech at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit at Riyadh for May 21. Just a day earlier, the headlines in the world media were all about a unique event in the Muslim Middle East – free and fair elections in Iran which enabled the moderate-reformist President Hassan Rouhani to secure a second term by beating an opponent who was widely seen as representing the religious establishment.

Trump would have understood the awkwardness of his position. He was obliged to show gratitude to his Saudi hosts who propose to spend $350 billion in the US economy that would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for the American people. On the other hand, he was expected to condemn and pillory what is, arguably, the one and only democratic country in the Persian Gulf – Iran.

Trump ended up saying the irreducible minimum regarding Iran:

  • But no discussion of stamping out this (terrorism) threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three-safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran. From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
  • It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room. Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes…The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.
  • Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve. (Transcript)

At the end of the day, Trump settled for a policy to “isolate” Iran and to “pray for the day” when Iran will be an agreeable partner. There was no itch to confront Iran or attack Iran. If a benchmark is needed, go back to George W. Bush’s famous ‘axis of evil’ speech regarding Iran in January 2002. (Watch the YouTube here.)

Indeed, the so-called Riyadh Declaration issued after the Arab-Islamic-American summit of 50 countries on Sunday contained much harsher language regarding Iran, but then, it is essentially a Saudi document, which the regime drafted exercising its prerogative as the host country. By no means is it a statement reflecting the Iran policy of the US or of the other 48 statesmen who gathered in Riyadh, including from Egypt, Pakistan, Oman and so on.

Equally, it was also apparent from the noticeably restrained moderate remarks regarding Iran by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the two joint press conferences with Saudi FM Adel Al Jubeir that the Trump administration took care not to exacerbate tensions with Iran. Jubeir spewed venom, but Tillerson simply listened. In his prepared statements regarding terrorism, interestingly, Tillerson did not even mention Iran. The ‘operative’ part of Tillerson’s remarks during the Q&A can be reproduced as follows:

  • We are closely coordinating our efforts in terms of how to counter Iran’s extremism… in particular its support for foreign fighters… its support of militia not just in Yemen but in Iraq and in Syria.
  • We are coordinating carefully around how we view the nuclear agreement.
  • What I would hope – is that Rouhani now has a new term, and that he use that term to begin a process of dismantling Iran’s network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of that terrorist network, dismantling the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region. That’s what we hope he does. We also hope that he puts an end to [Iran’s] ballistic missile testing. We also hope that he restores the rights of Iranians to freedom… That’s what we hope this election will bring. I’m not going to comment on my expectation. But we hope that if Rouhani wanted to change Iran’s relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do.
  • So it is our hope that – and we have a new leadership or a renewed leadership beginning another term in Iran – that they will begin to examine what this behavior is gaining for them, and rather, they will find their way back to a place that Iran historically enjoyed: good relations with its neighbors. And that’s what we hope they find their way back to as well. In the meantime, we will continue to take action to make it clear to Iran when their behavior is unacceptable… we will continue to take action through sanctions and we will continue to encourage others in the global community to take action as well so that Iran understands this is not acceptable. So we will be dealing with Iran in the economic sanction front and we will be dealing with Iran in these countries where they have decided to put their presence militarily.

In sum, Tillerson recapitulated the Obama administration’s policies toward Iran. No threat of war – ‘all-options-are-on-the-table’, etc. – no threat of regime change, no containment strategy.  On the contrary, the subtle emphasis has been on the terms of engagement with Iran someday in a conceivable future.

Thereupon, Tillerson dropped a bombshell. The following was his answer when he was asked by a journalist, “Will you ever pick up the phone and call Iran’s foreign minister? Have you ruled out diplomacy with Iran?” :

  • Well, in terms of whether I’d ever pick the phone up, I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation. At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although, in all likelihood, we will talk at the right time.

Tillerson said effectively that the US hopes to engage with Iran “in all likelihood”. It is no small matter that he said this from Riyadh, while summing up what has been an extraordinarily successful visit by Trump in pursuit of his ‘America First’ doctrine.

Of course, the US-Iranian relations will remain highly problematic. But then four years is a long time in politics – and both Trump and Rouhani have that much time in hand. One can anticipate that Tehran will be savvy enough to sense the vibes from Riyadh and accordingly plot the road map ahead in its dealings with the Trump administration.

Do not forget that Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech in 2002 notwithstanding, Washington and Tehran had already got into a waltz in Iraq circa 2005 in a coordinated enterprise to advance Shi’ite empowerment in that country. Both the US and Iran knew the ground rules and the ‘red lines’ in Iraq, and they largely respected them in a co-habitation in mutual interests that was truly exceptional in contemporary world politics.

The bottom line today is that without Iran’s cooperation, the US cannot get very far in the war against the ISIS, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. To be sure, there will be a lot of jostling for space and influence but a US-Iran confrontation is not on cards. Neither side is seeking it.

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Senator censures $110Bn arms sale to Saudis, citing atrocities in Yemen

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Yemeni protesters take part in an anti-US rally in the capital Sana
Yemeni protesters take part in an anti-US rally in the capital Sana’a on May 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

A US senator has censured the whopping $110 billion weapons deal President Donald Trump signed with the Saudi kingdom, insisting that Washington is trusting a regime with “the worst human rights record” in the region to bring peace to the Middle East.

Press TV – “It appears the Trump administration is counting on the country with the worst human rights record in the region to enforce peace and security in the Middle East,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote in an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post on Saturday, describing the arms sale as “a terrible idea.”

Murphy, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, further pointed to the fact that the monarchy has persistently used US-supplied weaponry against civilians in the region and specifically in neighboring Yemen.

“[Former President Barack] Obama withheld precision-guided munitions because the Saudis were using US-provided munitions to repeatedly target civilian and humanitarian sites in their bombing campaign inside Yemen, despite regular protests from the United States,” he wrote.

“By selling the Saudis these precision-guided weapons more — not fewer — civilians will be killed because it is Saudi Arabia’s strategy to starve Yemenis to death to increase their own leverage at the negotiating table. They couldn’t do this without the weapons we are selling them,” the senator emphasized.

Murphy went on to insist that more Yemenis have since been radicalized and blamed the US for Saudi Arabia’s military aggression against their country. He further argued that the advanced armaments supplied to the despotic regime would not be used against intended targets such as the Daesh (ISIS) and al-Qaeda terrorist group.

“The Saudis’ obsession with Iran, and the proxy wars (like Yemen) that flow from this obsession, mean that they have little bandwidth to go after extremist groups,” wrote the US lawmaker, arguing that even if Trump tries to exert pressure on the Saudis, they will likely not concede since “they are already getting everything they could ever want militarily from the United States.”

The Democratic senator also pointed out that the weapons deal “was negotiated by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who has zero experience in foreign relations generally, or Saudi arms sales specifically.”

This is while Trump praised the unprecedented arms deal with the Saudis on Saturday, boasting that it will generate job growth for Americans.

“Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs,” Trump stated referring to the massive weapons sale.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has claimed that the arms package aims to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defense capabilities by enhancing their military hardware and relevant services while also allowing the US to reduce its military commitment in the region.

“This package of defense equipment and services support the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the (Persian) Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats, while also bolstering the Kingdom’s ability to contribute to counter terrorism operations across the region, reducing the burden on the US military to conduct those operations,” the White House said in a statement.

Murphy, however, underlined that the arms deal would escalate the proxy war in the region, adding that this is not “our fight.” He then argued that the $110 billion in funds could instead be applied to a strategy aimed at attaining global security, such as providing primary education in Africa.

“Yes, this is the Saudi’s money, but we shouldn’t just assume that the path to global security is through the spread of more and more weapons,” he reasoned, noting that terrorist groups “thrive on economic destitution” that more education could combat.

Murphy concluded that while the Saudi regime remains an American ally and cooperates with the US in what he referred to as the battle against extremist groups, it is “a deeply imperfect friend” to trust with these highly calibrated weaponry.

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Trump in Riyadh – A Gulf NATO to Gang Up Against Iran and Syria

NOVANEWS
 

The role – again – of marketing companies in selling wars

Few wars have been so thoroughly media-managed and marketing-loaded as that on Syria. No wonder arms deals are too – otherwise citizens around the world would protest loudly that their tax money is spent on destruction and more destruction and all the promises of the past that this – or that – arms deal will increase security and peace in the world have turned out to be fake information – disinformation – and an integral part of what can only be termed “fearology” by governments against their own people.

One must therefore welcome Russia Today’s excellent research by Alexey Yaroshevsky also on this dimension.

This report is high-speed but listen carefully to it as it points out two US companies associated with this deal and US-Saudi relations with questionable image – a report that also highlight to some extent the roles of both Bill and Hillary Clinton in all this: the Qorvis MSLGroup and Burson-Marsteller.

In passing one cannot but deplore that it is Russia Today, not its Western peers, that does the research on the role of PR and marketing firms.

NATO in Gulf with Denmark as a liaison?

Back to NATO in Kuwait and what it may mean.

Here is what the United Arab Emirates’ daily The National reported on January 24, 2017. Interestingly, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE are members of ICI – the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative – while Saudi Arabia and Oman plan to join. This is exactly the coalition we have mentioned above.

Three days later the same sources quotes the Danish ambassador in the UAE:

Image result for Merete Juhl

Merete Juhl (Source: ADIPEC)

“Nato officials are expected to visit in coming months after the Danish embassy in Abu Dhabi becomes the country’s go-between with the bloc, said Merete Juhl, the Danish ambassador.

“Nato and Europeans really need a reliable and capable partner in the Middle East, like the UAE, to better understand how to deal effectively with challenges internationally but also at home, with refugees and newcomers that represent a new security threat,” she said.

“So these types of partnerships are something we are prioritising because it’s what we need in today’s world.”

So NATO member Denmark is appointed as the go-between – the UAE being the second largest military spender after Saudi Arabia. The article also explains how the UAE has contributed to NATO operations in Afghanistan and Libya.

In spring 2016, then US Secretary of State, John Kerry had talked about a much closer cooperation:

“Ahead of last year’s Camp David summit, Gulf officials had hoped for a Nato-like binding security pact with Washington, but such an agreement was always highly unlikely. Now, the US is willing to discuss increasing cooperation between Nato and the GCC, though officials gave no further details on what was being considered.

Mr Kerry said Washington had agreed with GCC foreign ministers to “begin the process of evaluating whether or not the concept of a GCC-Nato partnership in specific terms is something that would contribute significantly to the security and stability of the region”. [GCC = Gulf Cooperation Council].

It’s worth noting the term GCC-NATO partnership and what is then stated in the report:

“Much of Mr Kerry’s meetings in Bahrain centred on Iran’s role in the region. Most GCC countries consider Tehran to be their gravest security threat, and are concerned about US intentions towards Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal and as Iran appears to be increasing its involvement in the Middle East.

Despite the Obama administration’s hope that the nuclear deal will empower moderates within Iran, Tehran has provocatively carried out a number of ballistic missile launches and continued or increased its involvement in the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Recent remarks by Mr Obama have only reinforced fears that the US intends to play a more neutral role in the region and do less to contain Iran. Gulf countries and Iran must “find an effective way to share the neighbourhood”, the US president said in a recent interview with The Atlantic magazine.”

One must assume that President Trump is eager, during his meetings with high-level people from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, to emphasize how much he loathes Iran and the nuclear deal.

US foreign policy aims, or so one must conclude, at deepening the Sunni-Shia divide – a divide that does have historic roots but has taken on a “hardness” since the catastrophic US post-occupation misadministration of Iraq that lead directly to the creation of ISIS.

Another dimension – a macro perspective

Of course there can be other interpretations of Saudi Arabia’s militarization than the one advanced here. But none of this could possibly lead to a new, wiser Western relationship to the Middle East than we’ve seen the last good 100 years. There is not a shred of evidence that the US has learned any lesson from those 100 years or, in particular, since 10/7 – the commencement of the war on Afghanistan and the wars that followed.

And for Syria and Iran, there can be nothing positive in any of the above – while there certainly is for both ISIS and Israel – the latter supporting terrorism in various ways and places and being allied with Sunni rather than Shia.

If you are in doubt, read the statement by a Israeli minister about the desirability to kill Bashar al-Assad and continue with the destruction of Iran. Since this minister has not been fired by Netanyahu it must be perceived as official Israeli policy.

So for genuine peace, the post-Obama rapproachment between the US and Saudi Arabia/Gulf States is a bad omen in that it still builds on divide-et-impera, confrontation and military dominance rather than diplomacy and mutually beneficial cooperation in the long term.

US/NATO and their allies in the region have learned no lessons from failed wars, destroyed countries and cultures, millions upon millions of dead and suffering people, the growth of terrorism thanks to Western policies and the now 16 year old War on Terror – and therefore there is nothing new, constructive or hope-inducing in any of this.

Future generations in the Middle East and in the West will pay a huge prize.

And even though much of what has been described above may seem to signal strength, every bit of it points in one direction: the dissolution of the US Empire and in its wake, the more slow disintegration of NATO and the EU.

The West works vertically on short-sighted and continued destruction and therefore employs military means above all others – permanent confrontation and exceptionalism.

The Rest works horizontally with constructive visions – such as the Silk Road and Silk Belt that sends much more attractive, inclusive signal also to the Middle East – with civilian means such as infrastructure, education, cultural exchange and mutual economic benefits.

In future history books, the Middle East could well turn out to have been a major crossroads in more than one sense of the emerging, much better, cooperative world order that will come when the last Empire has finished itself.

Until that happens: How many more tragedies and how much more human suffering shall the world witness and endure?

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Trump Accuses Iran of Supporting Terrorists and Spreading Instability

NOVANEWS
Speech in Saudi Arabia

US President Donald Trump has directly accused Iran in supporting terrorists and spreading instability in the Middle East during his speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia.

But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime—launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.

Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region. The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve. 

Some people see a controversy in Trump’s claims.

Trump support of Saudi Arabia-a brutal theocracy & biggest sponsor of terrorism & the Wahhabi Salafi ideology fueling it-is a HUGE betrayal.

Pics from a Saudi “counter-terrorism” center could be seen below. One of the center’s tasks is to combat the so-called online extremism. Considering that a big monitor behind Trump allows to see a video and a pic with Syrian government forces operating in the Palmyra countryside (most likely) and in a desert area east of Suweida, it’s easy to suggest what kind of “counter-terrorism” actions the Saudi center conducts.

Trump Accuses Iran In Supporting Terrorists And Spreading Instability During Speech In Saudi Arabia

Trump Accuses Iran In Supporting Terrorists And Spreading Instability During Speech In Saudi Arabia

 

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U.S. $350 Billion Arms-Sale to Sauds Cements U.S.-Jihadist Alliance

NOVANEWS
 

On Saturday, May 20th, U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saud family inked an all-time record-high $350 billion ten-year arms-deal that not only will cement-in the Saud family’s position as the world’s largest foreign purchasers of U.S.-produced weaponry, but will make the Saud family, and America’s ruling families, become, in effect, one aristocracy over both nations, because neither side will be able to violate the will of the other. As the years roll on, their mutual dependency will deepen, each and every year.

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Source: Zero Hedge

Sixteen years after the Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud (who was nicknamed “Bandar Bush” for his intimacy with the Bush family) served in Washington as Saudi Arabia’s U.S. Ambassador and he and his wife personally paid tens of thousands of dollars to the Sauds’ minders who paid for the apartments and for the pilot-training of 9/11 jihadists, and the U.S. government hid this fact from the U.S. public for fifteen years until it was made public but suppressed by the U.S. press so that Americans still don’t know about it, the U.S. and Saudi aristocracies are now becoming bound together even more strongly than before, because of this record-shattering deal that Trump’s team negotiated with the Sauds.

The U.S. government officially blames Iran for the 9/11 attacks and has fined Iran $10.5 billion for those attacks. The Sauds hate Iran and claim that Iran poses an “existential threat” to them. These new weapons will, the Sauds claim, “protect” them from Iran. Right after Trump won the 2016 election, he staffed the top level of his incoming Administration with people who consider Iran to be the main source of terrorism. In a 5 February 2017 Super Bowl television interview, Trump was asked what his policies would be regarding Iran, and he answered (video here, transcript here):

“They have total disregard for our country. They are the number one terrorist state.”

But he provided no specifics. This ‘defense’ deal is a big specific part of the answer, to that question. The U.S. will now be even more tightly allied with the Sauds (the world’s wealthiest family) than was previously the case.

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Source: Lockheed Martin

According to a report in the New York Times on May 18th, President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner participated importantly in these negotiations, when he spoke by phone with the CEO of the biggest American weapons-maker, Lockheed Martin, to request her to discount a crucial radar-system, so that the deal could be accepted by Saudi Prince Muhammed bin Salman al-Saud, and she said yes, which was necessary in order for the entire $350 billion package to be accepted. Unreported, however, about this matter, was whether any concession was made by the Trump Administration to Lockheed Martin, in order to be able to win from them this crucial discount. Whether any such verbal commitments were made, might never become publicly known, but this is the way that deals are made.

The intensifying U.S.-jihadist alliance will be bad news for the governments that have been fighting consistently against jihadists (who are supported by the Sauds), such as Russia in Chechnya and Syria. The Saudi regime will now be able to stand behind the U.S.-backed Al-Qaeda-led forces in Syria that are fighting to overthrow and replace Syria’s existing government, which is backed by Russia.

As I had headlined on May 16th about this gargantuan trade-deal that had already been negotiated but was to be withheld from official announcement until President Trump would meet with Prince Salman on May 20th to sign it, “Trump’s Plan Finally Becomes Clear”, and this plan really is the center-piece for fulfilling Trump’s campaign-promise to restore American manufacturing. Thousands of new American workers will need to be hired in order to make the weapons that will be used to further destroy Syria, Yemen, and other countries where the public resist becoming ruled by fundamentalist Sunnis and Sharia law, such as the Saud family prefers. Russian Television (RT) has reported extensively about this, and on May 19th even reported bombings by the Sauds’ regime against a Shia town inside Saudi Arabia itself, headlining “‘You might get shot any time’: Saudi forces raid Shia town as Riyadh welcomes Trump”. Video was shown there of buildings that had been wrecked by the Sauds’ bombings and mortars. ‘News’media in U.S. and allied countries are not reporting anything of this. The Washington Post (in line with U.S. ’news’media generally) says that Russian Television is not to be trusted because RT provides ‘fake news’. As regards those bombings, perhaps the U.S. government’s view is that no news is good news. Reporting on this would certainly not be good for business — not in the United States, anyway.

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Trump’s Speech in Riyadh Signals US Escalation Against Iran

Riddled with hypocrisy, clichés and absurdities, President Donald Trump’s speech Sunday before an assembly of monarchs and despots in Saudi Arabia spelled out an agenda of escalating US militarism throughout the Middle East and a buildup in particular toward war with Iran.

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Stephen Miller (Source: ChicagoNow)

Hailed by a fawning American media as “presidential”–supposedly eclipsing for the moment the crises and factional struggles engulfing the administration–the speech was reportedly drafted by Stephen Miller, the extreme right-wing ideologue credited with being the chief architect of Trump’s abortive executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the US.

Much in Trump’s half-hour address echoed the speech delivered by Barack Obama in Cairo eight years earlier. Both presidents declared their desire to reset US relations with the Middle East, while absurdly posturing as leaders of a pacifist nation seeking only good for the region and offering to head up a united struggle against “violent extremism.”

In what was meant as a rhetorical invocation to action against terrorism, Trump told his audience,

“Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth.”

Like Obama before him, Trump had no interest in dealing with who brought Al Qaeda and similar forces in, as the historical trail leads directly to the CIA in Afghanistan and US imperialism’s longstanding support for right-wing Islamist organizations and terrorist groups as a counterweight to left nationalist and socialist influence in the Arab and Islamic world. Jointly, the US and Saudi Arabia continue to fund and arm such forces in their drive for regime-change in Syria.

Both speeches were laced with flowery tributes to Islamic culture. Trump noted in particular how impressed he was with the “splendor” of Saudi Arabia and the “grandeur” of the palace in which the so-called Arab Islamic American Summit had been convened.

What separated the two addresses were the different shifts in strategy by Washington. While Obama sought to repair the damage done by the Bush administration’s criminal war in Iraq by offering a new face for US imperialism, Trump traveled to Saudi Arabia to make clear his administration’s break with his predecessor’s policy of seeking a rapprochement with Iran based on the 2015 nuclear deal. He adopted an openly confrontational stance toward Tehran.

“Above all, America seeks peace–not war,” Trump proclaimed, in what stood out as the most blatant of the many lies in his brief address.

US Navy

The reality is that US wars in the region have killed millions over the past decade-and-a-half. And the thrust of the US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop in a nine-day foreign tour, is the preparation for new and even bloodier conflicts.

This was made plain by the principal agreements forged between Trump and the Saudi monarchy, which included a $110 billion arms deal that incorporates the option to purchase $350 billion worth of weapons over the next 10 years.

The arms agreement “supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, told reporters in Riyadh, “in particular in the face of the malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Saudi Arabia’s borders on all sides.”

In his speech, Trump painted Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism, accusing Tehran of providing terrorists with “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment,” and fueling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” all charges that could be leveled, with justification, against his Saudi hosts.

He portrayed the US cruise missile attack on Syria last month–followed just last week by the US bombing of a pro-government militia in the southeastern part of the country–as part of a wider struggle against Iranian influence. He went on to call upon “all nations of conscience” to “isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.” That he was speaking in Saudi Arabia, a brutally repressive absolute monarchy, just two days after more than 70 percent of Iranian voters participated in a sharply contested election, did nothing to blunt Trump’s call for regime-change.

He specifically praised Saudi Arabia and its allies for having “taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen.” The near-genocidal Saudi war has killed some 12,000 Yemenis, while destroying basic infrastructure in the Arab world’s poorest country, leaving over 7 million people on the brink of starvation and unleashing a cholera epidemic that threatens a massive death toll.

In March, US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis issued a memo calling for stepped-up US support for this criminal war, in which the Pentagon is already supplying intelligence and logistical backing to the Saudi bombing campaign.

Part of the weapons deal signed by Trump involves the shipment of precision-guided munitions that had been cut off in a highly limited gesture of disapproval of Saudi tactics in Yemen by the Obama administration, which itself concluded over $100 billion worth of weapons deals with Riyadh. Also included in the new deal are tanks, artillery, helicopters and other weaponry that can be directly funneled into the slaughter in Yemen.

In addition to his speech and the signing of arms and investment deals, Trump participated in a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudi-led coalition of Gulf oil sheikdoms. Trump administration officials have raised the objective of using the GCC as the foundation of a Sunni Arab version of NATO directed at military confrontation with Iran.

Beyond the drive to militarily confront Iran, a principal regional rival of US imperialism in the Middle East, and the huge profits that Saudi arms purchases reap for the US military industrial complex, there are broader strategic considerations in the US turn toward a closer alliance with Riyadh.

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Anthony Cordesman (Source: CSIS)

Some of these issues were outlined on the eve of Trump’s trip in a piece published by the influential Washington think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies and authored by Anthony Cordesman, a longtime Pentagon adviser. First among them is, according to Cordesman, “the continued level of US dependence on Saudi help in securing the stable flow of Gulf oil.”

While US imports from the Gulf have fallen sharply over the past quarter-century, Cordesman cites “indirect dependence” in terms of the impact a disruption in oil exports would have on global energy prices and the world capitalist economy. In particular, he points to the dependence of Asian economies on Gulf petroleum exports.

If the United States failed in “providing power projection forces and arms” to the region, he writes, its principal global rival, China, might fill the void.

“China may not yet be ready to try to assume the role, but the entire South China Sea crisis would pale to near insignificance if China became the de facto guarantor of Gulf stability.”

Cordesman continues:

“The real-world nature of US influence and power in the Pacific would be cut massively, China’s leverage over other major Asian economies like Japan and South Korea would be sharply increased, and the potential rise in tension between China and India–and cut in India’s relative position–would have a massive impact on the balance of power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.”

In other words, the turn toward closer relations with Saudi Arabia and the related Gulf oil sheikdoms is bound up with US imperialism’s mounting conflict with China, which it has identified as the principal challenge to the drive for American global hegemony. Washington is determined to dominate Asia, including China, by maintaining the military power to choke off the region’s energy imports.

The fact that the sclerotic House of Saud, one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, has become a lynchpin of Washington’s imperialist strategy, not only in the Middle East but globally, is a measure of the crisis of American and world capitalism.

Oil revenues, which account for fully 90 percent of the kingdom’s export earnings, have been cut nearly in half since 2014. Last month, the government was forced to reverse itself on austerity measures that hit the military and public employees over fear that declining living standards and rising unemployment are creating the conditions for social revolt.

In the predominantly Shia Eastern Province, the center of the kingdom’s oil production, security forces laid siege to the town of Awamiyah, a center of resistance to the regime, during the week preceding Trump’s visit. Combined with the failure of the Saudi bid to topple the Assad regime in Syria by supporting Al Qaeda-linked militias and the regime’s inability to retake Yemen from the Houthi rebels, the deepening domestic crisis is creating the conditions for revolutionary upheavals against Washington’s principal ally in the Arab world.

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