Yemen By-Elections: Indication of Stability, Steadfastness

 

By Staff

Sana’a – Yemen’s Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendums’ [SCER] senior official has called upon Lebanon to play its full effective role in the global efforts to solve “the crisis” in Yemen and to participate in monitoring the upcoming electoral process.

Mohammad Al Salemi, Judge, head of the [SCER] has expressed the importance of the Parliamentary By-elections due to be held in April, amid the ongoing war that Yemenis are expected to marks its 4th anniversary of steadfastness in the face of the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen.

“The importance of this elections lies in the fact that it will enable a citizen to exercise his/her constitutional and legal rights to choose [his/her] representative,” Al Salemi told al-Ahed News in an exclusively interview at his office in capital Sanaa on Sunday.

The commission has been receiving applications of nominees since last Thursday. It will end on March 23.

Al Salemi said this elections will send messages to the international community at a moment while Yemen is going through a particularly trying period.

“In spite of what the country is going through of difficult circumstances, but they [countries of the Saudi-led coalition] can’t deprive a citizen of [his/her] democratic right to choose their representative,” he noted.

Yemen Calls on Lebanon for an Effective Role during the Upcoming By-Elections

Mohammed Al Salemi, judge, Head of Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendums at his office March 17, 2019 (Al-Ahed News)

Invitation for Participation in Monitoring

After Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, failed in August 2017 to convene a lot of members of the House of Representatives, because majority of the members stand against his war on Yemen and there was no quorum. Therefore, to increase its legitimacy, Sana’a authorities have decided to run its first elections since 2003 to fill the vacant seats.

Yemeni parliament has decided to run for an electoral process to fill 34 vacant seats for representatives who died, but not the seats of those members who left Sana’a and joined the Saudi-led war on Yemen, as some local media revealed.

In response to the Parliament statement to the elections commission, the [SCER] has called on Tuesday on international bodies, organizations, representatives of embassies, political parties, political organizations and local civil society organizations to participate in monitoring the elections to fill vacant parliamentary seats in 2019, according to a statement released by state-run news agency “SABA”.

It has also called on voters at the 34 vacant constituencies’ districts to go to the polls at 8:00 am on Saturday, 13 April 2019, to cast their votes for the election of their representatives to the House of Representatives. [http://www.sabanews.net/ar/news529163.htm]

This elections comes at a time that Sana’a has been under an all-out sea, land and air blockade, let alone the financial crunch after rebasing Yemen’s Central Bank by Saudi backed resigned president Abdrabu Mansour Hadi.

Ali Al Samet, president of the legal sector at [SCER], stressed that this elections is mainly funded by Sana’a’s Central Bank. “There is no foreign fund for this election,” Al Samet told al-Ahed News, noting that this should be considered “an advantage”.

Calls for monitoring Elections

Al Samet has confirmed to the al-Ahed News that the commission has addressed the United Nations and the Arab League on its plan to run for this elections.

“We have briefed UN Secretary-General about the electoral process that’s is ongoing currently, which is to fill vacancies [parliamentary seats].”

“We have addressed the Secretary- General of the League of Arab States, Arabic and international organizations, and the UN representative in Yemen as well,” Al Samet told al-Ahed News.

Al Samet, however, explained that no response yet has reached him back. Responses may have reached Yemen’s Foreign Ministry in Sana’a, Al Samet say, through which the [SCER] sent messages to these sides.

“I should like, through you, to call on international and local organizations and political parties to participate in monitoring the electoral process which will take place in the Republic of Yemen,” Al Samet said.

He stressing that this is to ensure that the elections will be free and fair in accordance with “international and national standards to run any electoral process”.

Calls for Lebanon to bring Yemen’s warring sides

Lebanon still stands with the people of Yemen who have been fighting the Saudi aggression since March26, 2015.

With the great support of Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, at least in his great speeches that have been hailing the Yemenis’ wounds at hard times.

Furthermore, Al Samet has called upon Lebanon to play a key role in solving what he called “Yemeni crisis,” without the US- Saudi interferences.

“We call upon our brothers in Lebanon to call all Yemeni warring sides to solve the Yemeni crisis and put an end to it [the crisis], considering Lebanon one member of the Arab League,” Al Samet said.

“We call upon organizations in Lebanon to participate in monitoring the electoral process, and this is a special invitation, hoping they will participate,” stressed Al Samet.

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Hyper-Hypocrisy of The West about ISIS

Hyper-Hypocrisy of The West about ISIS

ERIC ZUESSE | 19.03.2019 | WORLD / MIDDLE EAST

Hyper-Hypocrisy of The West about ISIS

During the period of 17 September to 11 December of 2016, the United States and its allies carried out a massive operation to move ISIS’s surviving jihadists who were in the oil-producing Iraqi region of Mosul, into the Syrian oil-producing region of Deir Ezzor and Palmyra. This was done so that those oil-stealing-and-selling jihadists in Iraq would now be stealing Syria’s oil and would thereby increase the likelihood of overthrowing Syria’s long-existing non-sectarian Government. The US and its allies would then replace that Government by one which would be controlled by the fundamentalist Sunni Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, the long-time leading oil-power, and which family are America’s main foreign ally. The Sauds are crucial to maintaining the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The US aristocracy rely upon them.

Now that ISIS is being defeated by Syria’s Government (and by its allies Russia and Iran) in Syria, the United States and its allies are trying to find other governments that will take them in as refugees. It’s part of a deal the US regime reached with ISIS.

The issue of what to do with the thousands of surviving but (temporarily) defeated ISIS members — and with their spouses and children — has raised hypocrisy to perhaps the highest level in all of history. Its background needs to be understood if one wants to understand the sources of that enormous hypocrisy. Here’s this background:

When Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, it greatly disturbed the US regime, which therefore started on 12 October 2015 to air-drop weapons into that area so as to help the jihadists to shoot down Russia’s jets, which were bombing ISIS. America’s Fox News Channel headlined “US military airdrops 50 tons of ammo for Syrian fighters, after training mission ends”. The US didn’t start bombing ISIS in Syria until 16 November 2015, and the US Government’s excuse for not having bombed them earlier was “This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike.” They pretended that it was done out of compassion — not in order to extend for as long as possible ISIS’s success in taking over territory in Syria.

And then on 26 February 2019, Syria’s government news-agency reported that the US had sent to the US Federal Reserve 40+ tons of gold that ISIS had accumulated from selling, on the international black markets, oil from Syria’s oil-producing region around Deir Ezzor — Syria’s oil stolen by ISIS and the proceeds now being stolen yet again by the US regime — and this gold now being sent to the US (On March 8th I reported the further background and context of that US theft from Syria.) The US regime had offered to ISIS-members who were in Syria’s oil-producing region a choice either to become captured and killed by Syria’s Government, or else for them to give to the US that gold, and the option which was selected by the jihadists was to give the gold to the US, which is therefore now trying to find other countries to send the jihadists to as ‘refugees’ (since Syria certainly doesn’t want them, and neither does the US regime). The US regime is honoring its commitments to those ‘former’ ISIS members and their families, to assist them to find countries which will accept those people as ‘refugees’. Sweden, being very liberal (meaning ideologically very confused), happens to be one of these countries, and is actually considering and debating whether to allow them in.

Zero Hedge is perhaps the keenest news-site for exposing The West’s rampant hypocrisies (and so all of The West’s propagandistic ’news’-sites hate it and call it ‘fake news’ even though it actually is more reliably accurate than the mainstream ones themselves are); and, on March 10th, it pointed out that Sweden was in a flurry over whether to accept, as refugees, ISIS jihadists who have escaped, and their spouses and children. Zero Hedge truthfully pointed out that,

Sweden’s new government, which was finally formed in January after months of delay, is introducing policies that will lead to more immigration into Sweden — despite the main governing party, the Social Democrats, having run for office on a promise to tighten immigration policies.
The right to family reunion for those people granted asylum in Sweden who do not have refugee status is being reintroduced — a measure that is estimated to bring at least 8,400 more immigrants to Sweden in the coming three years. According to the Minister of Migration, Morgan Johansson, this measure will “strengthen integration,” although he has not explained how.
“I think it is a very good humanitarian measure; 90 percent [of those expected to come] are women and children who have lived for a long time in refugee camps, [and] who can now be reunited with their father or husband in Sweden”, Johansson said.

This is supposed to be ‘democracy’?

However, that article, as noted at Zero Hedge, was written by Judith Bergman, of the Gatestone Institute. Sometimes, even such vicious propaganda-organizations, as that, produce authentic news, and here was such an instance. (It’s yet another reason why arguing ad-hominem, instead of strictly — that is, 100% — ad-rem, is essential to avoid, in order to determine truth and reject lies. That was a truthful article. Though Bergman wrote for a hate-mongering anti-Muslim site, the reporting in it was honest and factual. So, here’s some ad-hominem background to it, not as a part of the argument in this particular case — regarding Sweden’s debate over whether to accept former ISIS members as refugees — but instead as context explaining how this truth came to be published by the hate-mongering Gatestone:)

The Gatestone Institute is a rabidly pro-Israeli-Jews, and rabidly anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim operation, which was founded and is run by the heir and grand-daughter, Nina Rosenwald, of the biggest early (1895) investor in Sears Roebuck & Co., Julius Rosenwald. He died in 1932. His heir and son was Nina’s father, and in 1939 he“was one of three founding members of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA).[12] [Nina] Rosenwald’s mother, a professional violinist, was a refugee from both the Russian Revolution and Nazi Germany.[9].” Nina, being not very bright, was never able to rid herself of the prejudices her parents felt against Palestinians and generally against Muslims (since Israel’s main supremacism is against Muslims, because Israel’s ruling ethnicity, Jews, have been stealing land from Muslims). Nina identifies herself as “a human rights activist”. (As was said at the start here, this issue “has raised hypocrisy to perhaps the highest level in all of history.”) She had, in fact, hired John Bolton as Gatestone’s Chairman; and, for his service as that, during June 2017 to March 2018 (when he became hired as Trump’s National Security Advisor), Bolton received $310,000. So, Bill Berkowitz headlined on 27 September 2018 “Meet Nina Rosenwald, the Sears Heiress Seeding Islamophobia at Home and Abroad”, and he brought together and linked to the great reporting by Max Blumenthal and by Lee Fang, documenting the Gatestone Institute’s rabid global hate-mongering for Israel.

But, in this particular case (the article by Judith Bergman), there was no deceit, because nothing in her reporting violated Nina Rosenwald’s biggest hatred, hatred of Muslims — so, these truths were acceptable to Rosenwald. Bergman’s article happened to be truthful Israeli propaganda. (After all: some propaganda is truthful.)

The Israeli regime won’t have any credibility whatsoever unless it condemns Sweden’s compassion for jihadists and for the wives and children of jihadists. Israel’s Minister of Justice had endorsed exterminating all Palestinians, but that rationale — sheer bigotry — for opposing them, isn’t suitable for foreign consumption, and so it was almost immediately disappeared from its public posting (shown there at that link). If Israel can’t pretend to be against Muslims on account of jihadists, then Israel’s barbaric treatment of its Palestinians won’t make any sense at all to the many fools (mainly in America, Israel’s chief patron) who support Israel (such as the Rosenwalds do). The US regime hides the barbarous reality of Israel, but that reality isn’t blacked-out quite as much in the rest of the world; so, Israel can’t afford to be publicly silent regarding jihadists, even in cases where the US regime would prefer such silence. Obviously, the US regime wants Sweden to accept those ‘former’ ISIS members (because the US regime aims to conquer Russia and all nations — such as Syria — that are allied with Russia, and uses ISIS, Al Qaeda, and nazis, as “boots-on-the-ground” mercenaries, in order to do that), and so this ISIS-as-refugees issue is one on which the American regime and the Israeli regime happen to disagree.

Bergman closed her article by describing the Swedish Government’s efforts to be compassionate toward jihadists while the Swedish Government also provides an appearance of caring for the safety of non-jihadist (the vast majority of) Swedes:

On a positive note, however, at the end of February, the Swedish government presented plans to introduce legislation that would criminalize membership of a terrorist organization. This new law would enable the prosecuting of returning ISIS fighters who cannot be connected to a specific crime, but who were proven to have been part of a terrorist organization. Critics have pointed out that it has taken years for the government to take steps to criminalize membership of terror organizations.

Sweden is hypocritically ‘neutral’, but actually a vassal nation of the United States. Sweden is being pushed by its master, the US regime, to accept some of the people the US Government had been protecting in order for the US to become enabled to take over Syria and to deliver it to the US aristocracy’s chief ally the Sauds; and, so, the Swedish Government is now trying to square this circle, in order to satisfy everyone at least somewhat. This split loyalty (between the imperial master, and the domestic public) is what’s called ‘democracy’, nowadays. The master pulls one way, the public are confused or undecided, and the US regime’s other main Middle Eastern ally, Israel, is pulling in the exact opposite direction, on this particular matter. This is how international affairs actually are being decided. The various aristocracies come to an agreement on how to proceed. The respective publics are virtually ignored, except as fronts for their PR. That’s today’s international order, just as has been the case for thousands of years: it is agreements that are reached between aristocracies.

Back in September of 2018, the US regime was backed by the United Nations in opposing Russia’s and Syria’s plan simply to slaughter all of the tens of thousands of Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists (and their families), whom the Syrian Government had exiled to Idlib, Syria’s most pro-jihadist province, and who were being collected there with the intention to destroy them all at the very end of the war — finally to finish them off there. Both Syria’s Government and Russia’s Government wanted simply to destroy them en-masse, at the war’s end. However, because of the success of that US-based (and also U.N.-backed) international propaganda campaign arguing that bombing them would be ‘inhumane’, those jihadists survive, and will probably also be moved to other nations. Sweden could become one such nation, if they decide to take in not only ‘former’ ISIS but ‘former’ Al Qaeda, as ’refugees’. The US has protected both of those groups, against Syria’s Government.

Hypocrisy exists when people don’t care enough about their values so as to think carefully through to decide what values — if any — they actually hold, and what their actual priorities are. Fools like that are the meat upon which their aristocrats constantly feast, producing, as the aristocracy’s excrements, bigots (such as jihadists, and such as the majority of Israelis — and such as people who accept those bigots). Without those fools, aristocrats would need to actually earn a living, instead of merely to live off the fat (the fools) of the land and thereby producing this waste-matter, bigots, who make things difficult for everybody else, including for any decent people who might happen to exist in the given receiving nation (such as in Sweden).

The origin of The West’s hypocrisies that claim to be supporting “human rights” and “democracy” around the world, while actually invading or overthrowing target-governments, go back at least as far as Cecil Rhodes in the late 1800s, and the rationale that’s given of it is entirely fraudulent. It is the difference between, on the one hand, an authentic revolution, which can sometimes produce a democracy, versus, on the other hand, a coup or else an invasion, neither of which can, nor is actually designed to, produce a democracy. But the PR has to say the reason for an invasion or coup or sanctions (such as against Venezuela or Iran or Syria or Libya or Iraq or Ukraine) is to promote ‘human rights’ or ‘democracy’ or ‘oppose corruption’ in the given target-country that’s to be, basically, destroyed. Suckers are necessary, in order for this fraud — the actual aristocratic control of international relations — to succeed. And that’s how the system works. It works by that combination, of liars and fools.

CLASHES ERUPT IN EASTERN YEMEN AS LOCAL TRIBES BLOCK SAUDI INFLUX OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT

Written by Ahmed Abdulkareem; Originally appeared at Mint Press

The latest incident came amidst a precipitous rise in tensions in eastern Yemen, where local residents have been grappling with an increasingly brazen military buildup by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Clashes Erupt in Eastern Yemen as Local Tribes Block Saudi Influx of Military EquipmentMercenaries allied with the Saudi-led coalition are pictured at the port of Aden in Aden, Yemen, Dec. 12, 2018. Jon Gambrell | AP

Fierce clashes have erupted between local tribes and Saudi forces supported by local mercenary groups in the Haat district of Yemen’s eastern Mahrah province. The clashes were sparked when local tribal members prevented Saudi shipping containers containing military equipment and household appliances from entering the country via al-Shihan border crossings with Oman, where Saudi Arabia plans to build a new military base.

Witnesses told MintPress News that the tribal groups stopped the trucks and checked them, then forced them to return. In the wake of this incident, fierce clashes erupted leaving Saudi mercenaries injured. Saudi warplanes could also be seen circling the skies above the area.

The latest incident came amidst a precipitous rise in tensions in eastern Yemen, where local residents have been grappling with an increasingly brazen military buildup by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Just last week, Saudi troops, tanks, and artillery arrived at the coastal area of Eienah, east of al-Gaydah, without coordinating with local authorities, a Yemeni official who spoke on condition of anonymity, told MintPress.

The attack has dangerous connotations for the region and comes less than six months after three protesters were killed by Saudi forces during a sit-in opposing the Saudi Coalition’s military buildup in eastern Yemen. Following the attack on the peaceful protest, local tribes in al-Mahrah vowed to take up arms against Saudi-led forces in order to prevent the construction of more checkpoints and military bases in their country.Al-Mahrah residents see the build-up of Saudi troops in the district as part of a pattern of malign and colonial Saudi policies in their country. Riyadh has deployed its forces in al-Mahrah under the guise of reconstruction and counter-smuggling operations. But Saudi forces have taken control of an increasingly long list of local government facilities, including the al-Ghaydah Airport, the Nishtun port, Sarfit, and the Shehn border crossing, as well as a number of coastal areas.Last week, Ali bin Salem al-Huraizy, al-Mahrah’s former deputy governor said: “The Saudis are determined to militarize the sea and land. They [Saudis] try to build a Saudi camp [base] every ten kilos.” He called on the people of al-Mahrah province to prepare to defend their sovereignty against Saudi Arabia by force of arms if necessary.The Deputy Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the peaceful sit-in, Aboud Qamasit, said that Saudi Arabia and its local allies have not shown any goodwill — quite the contrary, they increasingly build military bases in the province. He promised that al-Mahrah’s residents will continue to hold sit-ins and protests.The sit-in committee, which was formed by al-Mahrah residents, said in a statement on March 12 that Saudi Arabian forces kidnapped two civilians, taking them to al-Ghaydah Airport prison, a Saudi secret prison in the region, where dozens of detainees are subjected to serious abuses and assaults according to the sit-in committee.Ahmed Belhaf, a leader in the protest movement, said in a statement on March 2, that “there are an estimated 24 Saudi camps in the Ghaydah Airport operating under the supervision of the airport commander and training hundreds of extremist and terrorist militias.”Saudi Arabia launched a brutal military campaign in late 2017 against al-Mahrah, which borders Oman and has remained largely immune to the broader war in Yemen, as both the Houthis and other armed groups have little presence in the province. Saudi Arabia claims that arms smuggling operations by the Houthis are being carried out from Oman into Yemen via the al-Mahrah border crossing, though the Saudis have provided no evidence to back their claim, which Oman has repeatedly denied.

Saudi meddling in Mahrah politics

Clashes Erupt in Eastern Yemen as Local Tribes Block Saudi Influx of Military EquipmentProtesters in al-Ghaydah demand the expulsion of Saudi forces from the province. Photo | Ahmed AbdulKareem

A local Yemeni official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that Saudi Arabia has begun implementing a plan to eliminate Oman’s allies in the province, including the Mahri General Council, the largest opposition party to Saudi policies and plans in al-Mahrah, which is comprised of political and tribal forces and led by Sultan Abdullah bin Isa Al Afar, a key ally of Oman.In an effort to undermine local opposition to its military expansion in the region, Saudi Arabia plans to establish a new tribal council, replacing the Mahri General Council, which is to be led by Rajeh Said Bakrit. Bakrit was appointed by the Coalition as a governor of al Mahrah on November 27, 2017, to replace Mohammed Abdullah Kuddah after Kuddah spoke out against Saudi Arabia’s presence. The first phase of that plan includes monthly payoffs of 30,000 Saudi riyals ($8000) to 60 tribal elders and influential figures.Many strategic analysts see the Saudi plan as a way to apply pressure on Oman, which enjoys long borders and solid relations with the residents of al-Mahrah. Much to the dismay of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Oman also enjoys cordial relations with Saudi rival Iran, a relationship that the Coalition is eager to undermine.In an effort to stem Saudi influence in the region, residents of al-Hawf, which lies east of al-Mahrah, announced the formation of a General Forum to bring area management back into the hands of local Mahrahi residents and organize civil projects in the area. The General Forum is being supported by the government of Oman and the effort is expected to spread to nearby districts.Saudi forces in eastern Yemen have recently been accused of planting monitoring devices into local communications networks — developed by a foreign engineering team and supported by Bakrit, according to a local official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said that the devices would allow Saudi forces to monitor and spy on residents and leaders who oppose the Saudi occupation and undermine the local opposition identifying and then assassinating or arresting its leaders.

Infiltration, assassination

Clashes Erupt in Eastern Yemen as Local Tribes Block Saudi Influx of Military Equipmental-Mahrah residents in the Hwaf district carry slogans rejecting the militarization of the province, the presence of militias, and Saudi intervention, Jan, 2019. Photo | Ahmed AbdulKareem

A Saudi military commander in al-Mahrah allegedly asked Bakrit to reveal the names of the most prominent leaders who oppose the Saudi presence in the province, threatening to ‘physically liquidate’ them. On Wednesday, members of a UAE assassination squad arrived in al-Ghaydah. The same squad is thought to be responsible for the assassination of 27 religious leaders in Yemen who opposed the Saudi-led occupation.Saudi Arabia has also launched a campaign to recruit hundreds of al-Mahrah’s young for a local security force, called the “Mahri Elite Forces” and modeled around other Coalition-backed mercenary forces operating in Yemen, including the Hadhrami Elite Forces in Hadhramaut province, the Shabwani Elite Forces in Shabwa, and the Pioneer Security Belt Forces (al-Hizam) brigades in Aden.The campaign has sparked dismay amongst al-Mahrah’s tribes, who held a meeting and issued a subsequent statement on Monday saying: “Trying to copy the bad experience of the security belts in Aden and transfer them to al-Mahrah would open the way for armed conflicts and undermine local authorities.” The tribes called on the young Mahrahis to refuse to join the Saudi forces, saying the creation of the paramilitary group would create a combustible environment that threatens to upset the local balance.Like many paramilitary forces created by the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen, the Mahri Elite Force was formed by recruiting members from specific tribes, not on the basis of one national army for the country as a whole. The predictable impact has been to exacerbate tribal differences, revive the desire for revenge among tribes, and create the desire for separate states.Al-Huraizy said in a statement:

The UAE seeks through its armed formations to create a new situation that will enable the UAE to dominate Yemen, control its ports and capabilities, and rob the national decision, violate its sovereignty and bring the country into chaos.”

Saudi Arabia’s policies in eastern Yemen lack a realistic reading of dangers and consequences, according to Abaad Studies and Research Center, a Yemeni research center closely aligned with Saudi Coalition allies in the country. As Saudi Arabia dismantles traditional social structures, ideological systems, and political parties, militia alternatives have predictably emerged.Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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“We Are Real Arabs”: Hezbollah MP tells Speaker of Saudi Shura Council

March 16, 2019

Hezbollah MP Ihab Hamade

Heated argument took place between a Hezbollah MP, Ihab Hamade, and Speaker of Saudi Shura Council, Abdullah Al Sheikh, earlier this week at the 14th Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States (PUIC) in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

Ihab Hamade, member of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc, was representing Lebanon, along with other MP, at the conference. The two Lebanese MPs confronted Saudi and UAE attempts to make changes on the final statement of the conference, Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar reported.

The UAE demanded that the final statement “condemn the Iranian occupation” of 3 disputed islands, while Saudi demanded that the statement condemn “Iranian interference in Syria and Arab World affairs,” according the daily.

Al-Akhbar added meanwhile, that both Saudi and UAE demanded that the final statement cancel the paragraph that calls for preserving the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, as well as the paragraph that condemns US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

According to the daily all the Saudi and UAE demands were not met, adding that Hezbollah MP Hamade voiced the Lebanese delegation’s opposition to such demands.

The discussion then devolved into heated argument when Speaker of Saudi Shura Council Abdullah Al Sheikh t addressed Hamade as saying: “Are you Lebanon’s representative or Iran’s?”

The Saudi speaker’s question prompted Hamade to respond as saying: “Why are you here? You have no elected parliament at your county. You are the imported one, while we are real Arabs who preserved the dignity of Muslims and Arabs.”

The Lebanese delegation then walked out of the session, Al-Akhbar reported.

Source: Al-Akhbar Newspaper

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Trump”s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other”s arms

Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms

MARTIN JAY | 15.03.2019 | FEATURED STORY

Trump’s Confused Middle East Foibles Are Actually Pushing Assad and Erdogan into each other’s arms

Trump’s foreign policy gambles in the Middle East just continue to shake the region up, causing confusion, betrayal and, more recently, a new arms race which is all heading towards more bloodshed there, as ISIS appears to be in decline and Russia, Iran and Turkey continue to look like stronger players.

Despite Iran sanctions, Tehran continues to show its strength in its sheer resilience and its brash cavalier attitude towards other countries in the region; barely days after if foreign minister resigns – but then withdraws it – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani takes a trip to Iraq, to remind the Americans that Tehran still wields considerable power and influence there, as well as Syria, Lebanon and also Qatar and Turkey.

The shake-up which is as a direct result of Trump’s erroneous decisions in the region has led though to an arms race starting, amid rumours of Trump wanting to sell nuclear arms to Saudi Arabia – despite Riyadh going rogue recently on arms procurement and looking more to Russia and China. In recent weeks we heard of reports of Hezbollah’s new missiles in Lebanon having updated heads fitted which makes them even more precise than previously thought, which is a chilling thought for the Israelis who have been mulling the timing of Hassan Nasrallah’s threat to use them if Israel continues to target Hezbollah fighters in Syria. More recently, American THAAD missiles were sent to Israel, as a direct consequence of the Nasrallah comment, as the Hezbollah leader never does empty threats; but it’s also about Iran’s missile capability which is making the Israelis a tad skittish.

And they’re right to be, but not exclusively because of the Iran sanctions and its missile capabilities.

It’s also about Turkey. In January, a secret document revealed that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE considered Turkey to be the real threat to their power in the region, which has changed the focus of their aggression and, in part, is responsible for a number of embassies reopening in the Syrian capital. The West believes that a softening of isolation might bring Assad farther away from Iran and Russia and align itself more with the Arab super powers in the region.

This idea, on its own, had some feasibility, until just very recently when it looked like Turkey’s firebrand leader had fired the starter’s pistol on a new level of difficult relations with Washington by making it clear that Ankara’s new accord with Russia over missiles – the revered S-400 system – is a done deal. President Erdogan has made it clear that nothing will stop this deal going ahead which means for Israel that he is edging closer to the Russia-Iran powerbase and, critically, towards a situation which the author has been arguing for months is inevitable: a thaw of relations with Assad.

Given that part of the Saudi-Israeli plan was to support the Kurds in Northern Syria in a new campaign to clear Turkish forces of their large enclave – perched in between Al Qaeda extremists on one side and Kurdish fighters on the other – it has pushed Erdogan to do what many would argue would be a no brainer, which is to consider cooperating with Assad, as both have a common objective of hitting the Kurds, Israelis and the Saudis at the same time. A triple whammy for both of them.

This scenario, if it pans out (as so far we have only heard reports of back channel talks between Ankara and Damascus) would be devastating for Israel, which is struggling presently with having Russia as an Assad ally to bypass before it hits Hezbollah targets; but for Turkey to be even a distant ally of Assad could spell disaster for Israel, which cannot afford to clash with Turkey – itself the premise of a completely new conflict which has been brewing for years, given the acrimonious and vociferous exchange of insults both leaders have flung at one another last year; Erdogan attacks Netanyahu over the latter’s appalling treatment of Palestinians, while the Israeli leader uses Erdogan’s unparalleled fondness of locking up journalists as return-fire ammo.

In reality, both of them are tarnished with an abysmal human rights record but both have used one another for political capital. That arrangement, until now a verbal one, might change if Assad were to actually let bygones be bygones and strike a deal with Erdogan.

If that were to happen, Trump would also completely slam the door on Turkey and make it also a target of hatred and ridicule – as no one but Trump will take it as personally as the US president, who has shown remarkable resilience towards the Turkish leader who has tested his patience on a number of occasions in the last two years. An Assad-Erdogan pact could spark a crisis within NATO and make Russia and Iran bolder than ever before in the region as Trump’s refusal to stop arming Kurdish factions in northern Syria – along with suspending the F-35 fighter jet program – is likely to reach a tipping point between Ankara and Washington. For Erdogan to play the ace card – Assad – would be a smart move to put Trump in his place, assert Turkey’s power in Syria and weaken the Kurds in one blow.

US Senate Passes Yemen War Resolution: No for Trump’s Support of Saudi War

By Staff, Agnecies

The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a resolution that would end US involvement in the Saudi-led coalition’s brutal war in Yemen, countering President Donald Trump’s support for the controversial conflict.

The Yemen War Powers resolution, which passed 54-46, blocks US forces from any involvement in the increasingly unpopular war without further authorization from Congress. Its backers have argued that US involvement in the conflict violates the constitutional requirement that Congress alone can authorize participation in war.

An earlier version of the resolution passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives but was rejected by the Senate; the resolution must now pass the House again before it is sent to the White House, where Trump has promised to veto it.

A small group of Republicans were willing to cross party lines to rebuke Trump over his support for a conflict the United Nations has declared a humanitarian disaster, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians and left half the population of Yemen on the brink of starvation.

US forces previously provided targeting support for coalition airstrikes and even mid-air refueling for coalition planes, until that practice was reportedly discontinued late last year.

The Yemen War Powers resolution also serves as a vehicle to pressure Trump to condemn the Saudi government over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence agencies have pinned on Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Meanwhile, revelations that interests connected with the Trump administration were in negotiations to sell the Saudis nuclear technology have shed new light on the president’s cozy relationship with the embattled kingdom.

Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have relentlessly bombed Yemen since 2015.

Half of Yemen’s population relies on food aid to survive, placing them in immediate danger of starving to death after coalition forces blockaded the port city of al-Hudaydah last year.

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Is a War With Iran on the Horizon?

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The Trump Administration Is Reckless Enough to Turn the Cold War With Iran Into a Hot One

By Bob Dreyfuss

March 12, 2019 “Information Clearing House” – Here’s the foreign policy question of questions in 2019: Are President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all severely weakened at home and with few allies abroad, reckless enough to set off a war with Iran? Could military actions designed to be limited — say, a heightening of the Israeli bombing of Iranian forces inside Syria, or possible U.S. cross-border attacks from Iraq, or a clash between American and Iranian naval ships in the Persian Gulf — trigger a wider war?

Worryingly, the answers are: yes and yes. Even though Western Europe has lined up in opposition to any future conflict with Iran, even though Russia and China would rail against it, even though most Washington foreign policy experts would be horrified by the outbreak of such a war, it could happen.

Despite growing Trump administration tensions with Venezuela and even with North Korea, Iran is the likeliest spot for Washington’s next shooting war. Years of politically charged anti-Iranian vituperation might blow up in the faces of President Trump and his two most hawkish aides, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, setting off a conflict with potentially catastrophic implications.

Such a war could quickly spread across much of the Middle East, not just to Saudi Arabia and Israel, the region’s two major anti-Iranian powers, but Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and the various Persian Gulf states. It might indeed be, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested last year (unconsciously echoing Iran’s former enemy, Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein) the “mother of all wars.”

With Bolton and Pompeo, both well-known Iranophobes, in the driver’s seat, few restraints remain on President Trump when it comes to that country. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, President Trump’s former favorite generals who had urged caution, are no longer around. And though the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution last month calling for the United States to return to the nuclear agreement that President Obama signed, there are still a significant number of congressional Democrats who believe that Iran is a major threat to U.S. interests in the region.

During the Obama years, it was de rigueur for Democrats to support the president’s conclusion that Iran was a prime state sponsor of terrorism and should be treated accordingly. And the congressional Democrats now leading the party on foreign policy — Eliot Engel, who currently chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Bob Menendez and Ben Cardin, the two ranking Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — were opponents of the 2015 nuclear accord (though all three now claim to havechanged their minds).

Deadly Flashpoints for a Future War

On the roller coaster ride that is Donald Trump’s foreign policy, it’s hard to discern what’s real and what isn’t, what’s rhetoric and what’s not. When it comes to Iran, it’s reasonable to assume that Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo aren’t planning an updated version of the unilateral invasion of Iraq that President George W. Bush launched in the spring of 2003.

Yet by openly calling for the toppling of the government in Tehran, by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and reimposing onerous sanctions to cripple that country’s economy, by encouraging Iranians to rise up in revolt, by overtly supporting various exile groups (and perhaps covertly even terrorists), and by joining with Israel and Saudi Arabia in an informal anti-Iranian alliance, the three of them are clearly attempting to force the collapse of the Iranian regime, which just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

There are three potential flashpoints where limited skirmishes, were they to break out, could quickly escalate into a major shooting war.

The first is in Syria and Lebanon. Iran is deeply involved in defending Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (who only recently returned from a visit to Tehran) and closely allied with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite political party with a potent paramilitary arm. Weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu openly boasted that his country’s air force had successfully taken out Iranian targets in Syria. In fact, little noticed here, dozens of such strikes have taken place for more than a year, with mounting Iranian casualties.

Until now, the Iranian leadership has avoided a direct response that would heighten the confrontation with Israel, just as it has avoided unleashing Hezbollah, a well-armed, battle-tested proxy force.  That could, however, change if the hardliners in Iran decided to retaliate. Should this simmering conflict explode, does anyone doubt that President Trump would soon join the fray on Israel’s side or that congressional Democrats would quickly succumb to the administration’s calls to back the Jewish state?

Next, consider Iraq as a possible flashpoint for conflict. In February, a blustery Trump told CBS’s Face the Nation that he intends to keep U.S. forces in Iraq “because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is the real problem.” His comments did not exactly go over well with the Iraqi political class, since many of that country’s parties and militias are backed by Iran.

Trump’s declaration followed a Wall Street Journal report late last year that Bolton had asked the Pentagon — over the opposition of various generals and then-Secretary of Defense Mattis — to prepare options for “retaliatory strikes” against Iran. This roughly coincided with a couple of small rocket attacks against Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and the airport in Basra, Iraq’s Persian Gulf port city, neither of which caused any casualties.  Writing in Foreign Affairs, however, Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks, which he called “life-threatening,” adding, “Iran did not stop these attacks, which were carried out by proxies it has supported with funding, training, and weapons.” No “retaliatory strikes” were launched, but plans do undoubtedly now exist for them and it’s not hard to imagine Bolton and Pompeo persuading Trump to go ahead and use them — with incalculable consequences.

Finally, there’s the Persian Gulf itself. Ever since the George W. Bush years, the U.S. Navy has worried about possible clashes with Iran’s naval forces in those waters and there have been a number of high-profile incidents. The Obama administration tried (but failed) to establish a hotline of sorts that would have linked U.S. and Iranian naval commanders and so made it easier to defuse any such incident, an initiative championed by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, a longtime opponent of war with Iran.

Under Trump, however, all bets are off. Last year, he requested that Mattis prepare plans to blow up Iran’s “fast boats,” small gunboats in the Gulf, reportedly asking, “Why don’t we sink them?” He’s already reinforced the U.S. naval presence there, getting Iran’s attention. Not surprisingly, the Iranian leadership has responded in kind. Earlier this year, President Hassan Rouhaniannounced that his country had developed submarines capable of launching cruise missiles against naval targets.  The Iranians also began a series of Persian Gulf war games and, in late February, test fired one of those sub-launched missiles.

Add in one more thing: in an eerie replay of a key argument George Bush and Dick Cheney used for going to war with Iraq in 2003, in mid-February the right-wing media outlet Washington Times ran an “exclusive” report with this headline: “Iran-Al Qaeda Alliance may provide legal rationale for U.S. military strikes.”

Back in 2002, the Office of Special Plans at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, under the supervision of neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, spent months trying to prove that al-Qaeda and Iraq were in league. The Washington Times piece, citing Trump administration sources, made a similar claim — that Iran is now aiding and abetting al-Qaeda with a “clandestine sanctuary to funnel fighters, money, and weapons across the Middle East.”  It added that the administration is seeking to use this information to establish “a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.” Needless to say, few are the terrorism experts or Iran specialists who would agree that Iran has anything like an active relationship with al-Qaeda.

Will the Hardliners Triumph in Iran as in Washington?

The Trump administration is, in fact, experiencing increasing difficulty finding allies ready to join a new Coalition of the Willing to confront Iran. The only two charter members so far, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are, however, enthusiastic indeed. Last month, Prime Minister Netanyahu was heard remarking that Israel and its Arab allies want war with Iran.

At a less-than-successful mid-February summit meeting Washington organized in Warsaw, Poland, to recruit world leaders for a future crusade against Iran, Netanyahu was heard to say in Hebrew: “This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.” (He later insisted that the correct translation should have been “combating Iran,” but the damage had already been done.)

That Warsaw summit was explicitly designed to build an anti-Iranian coalition, but many of America’s allies, staunchly opposing Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord, would have nothing to do with it. In an effort to mollify the Europeans, in particular, the United States and Poland awkwardly renamed it: “The Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East.”

The name change, however, fooled no one. As a result, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo were embarrassed by a series of no-shows: the French, the Germans, and the European Union, among others, flatly declined to send ministerial-level representatives, letting their ambassadors in Warsaw stand in for them.  The many Arab nations not in thrall to Saudi Arabia similarly sent only low-level delegations. Turkey and Russia boycotted altogether, convening a summit of their own in which Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iran’s Rouhani.

Never the smoothest diplomat, Pence condemned, insulted, and vilified the Europeans for refusing to go along with Washington’s wrecking-ball approach. He began his speech to the conference by saying: “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.” He then launched a direct attack on Europe’s efforts to preserve that accord by seeking a way around the sanctions Washington had re-imposed: “Sadly, some of our leading European partners… have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions. We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”

That blast at the European allies should certainly have brought to mind Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s disparaging comments in early 2003 about Germany and France, in particular, being leaders of the “old Europe.” Few allies then backed Washington’s invasion plans, which, of course, didn’t prevent war. Europe’s reluctance now isn’t likely to prove much of a deterrent either.

But Pence is right that the Europeans have taken steps to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In particular, they’ve created a “special purpose vehicle” known as INSTEX (Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges) designed “to support legitimate trade with Iran,” according to a statement from the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Great Britain. It’s potentially a big deal and, as Pence noted, explicitly designed to circumvent the sanctions Washington imposed on Iran after Trump’s break with the JCPOA.

INSTEX has a political purpose, too. The American withdrawal from the JCPOA was a body blow to President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and other centrists in Tehran who had taken credit for, and pride in, the deal between Iran and the six world powers (the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China) that signed the agreement. That deal had been welcomed in Iran in part because it seemed to ensure that country’s ability to expand its trade to the rest of the world, including its oil exports, free of sanctions.

Even before Trump abandoned the deal, however, Iran was already finding U.S. pressure overwhelming and, for the average Iranian, things hadn’t improved in any significant way. Worse yet, in the past year the economy had taken a nosedive, the currency hadplungedinflation was running rampant, and strikes and street demonstrations had broken out, challenging the government and its clerical leadership. Chants of “Death to the Dictator!” — not heard since the Green Movement’s revolt against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection in 2009 — once again resounded in street demonstrations.

At the end of February, it seemed as if Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo had scored a dangerous victory when Zarif, Iran’s well-known, Western-oriented foreign minister, announced his resignation. Moderates who supported the JCPOA, including Rouhani and Zarif, have been under attack from the country’s hardliners since Trump’s pullout.  As a result, Zarif’s decision was widely assumed to be a worrisome sign that those hardliners had claimed their first victim.

There was even unfounded speculation that, without Zarif, who had worked tirelessly with the Europeans to preserve what was left of the nuclear pact, Iran itself might abandon the accord and resume its nuclear program. And there’s no question that the actions and statements of Bolton, Pompeo, and crew have undermined Iran’s moderates, while emboldening its hardliners, who are making I-told-you-so arguments to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.

Despite the internal pressure on Zarif, however, his resignation proved short-lived indeed: Rouhani rejected it, and there was an upsurge of support for him in Iran’s parliament. Even General Qassem Soleimani, a major figure in that country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the commander of the Quds Force, backed him. As it happens, the Quds Force, an arm of the IRGC, is responsible for Iran’s paramilitary and foreign intelligence operations throughout the region, but especially in Iraq and Syria. That role has allowed Soleimani to assume responsibility for much of Iran’s foreign policy in the region, making him a formidable rival to Zarif — a tension that undoubtedly contributed to his brief resignation and it isn’t likely to dissipate anytime soon.

According to analysts and commentators, it appears to have been a ploy by Zarif (and perhaps Rouhani, too) to win a vote of political confidence and it appears to have strengthened their hand for the time being.

Still, the Zarif resignation crisis threw into stark relief the deep tensions within Iranian politics and raised a key question: As the Trump administration accelerates its efforts to seek a confrontation, will they find an echo among Iranian hardliners who’d like nothing more than a face-off with the United States?

Maybe that’s exactly what Bolton and Pompeo want.  If so, prepare yourself: another American war unlikely to work out the way anyone in Washington dreams is on the horizon.

Bob Dreyfuss, an investigative journalist and TomDispatch regular, is the founder of TheDreyfussReport.com. He is a contributing editor at the Nation, and he has written for Rolling StoneMother Jones, the American Prospect, the New Republic, and many other magazines. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2019 Bob Dreyfuss

 

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