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.

Related Videos

Related News

Advertisements

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.

Related Videos

Is a War With Iran on the Horizon?

Source

ICH

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

 

The Heart of the US-Saudi Relationship Lies In the Kushner-Prince Friendship

By Mohamad Bazzi, The Guardian

The new Democratic majority in Congress is unraveling the many ways that Donald Trump’s administration has been beholden to Saudi Arabia since its earliest days. In a report last month that got lost in the crush of other news, House Democrats detailed how top Trump administration officials, including Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner, pushed to provide the Saudi government with technology to build nuclear power plants. That could put Saudi Arabia on the path to developing nuclear weapons, and further destabilize the Middle East.

Kushner’s role is particularly troubling because, as the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, he has cultivated and shored up the relationship between Trump and the ruthless Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The Kushner-Prince Mohammed friendship is at the heart of the US-Saudi relationship today, and it is one reason that Trump has tried to shield the crown prince from blame for the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump and Kushner, both used to shady real estate deals, adapted quickly to Saudi Arabia’s system of patronage and clientelism: unwavering support from the Trump administration for the promise of weapons sales and other business deals.

The project to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia began in late 2016, during the presidential transition, when a group of retired US generals and national security officials coalesced around Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. Even after Flynn was fired in February 2017, other White House officials revived the plan, despite objections from administration lawyers who worried that the proposal could violate US laws intended to stop nuclear proliferation. And the idea is still alive: Trump met last month with the CEOs of several private nuclear power companies who sought his help in building power plants in the Middle East.

While most attention has been focused on Flynn’s role, Kushner is entangled in several conflicts of interest around the Saudi project, according to the 24-page report from the House oversight and reform committee. One of the potential beneficiaries of a Saudi nuclear deal is Westinghouse Electric, which is owned by a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, a real estate company that recently bailed out Kushner and his family’s company in their ill-fated, $1.8bn purchase of a Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue.

The alliance between Kushner and Prince Mohammed has consequences for US policy: Trump ignored a deadline last month to submit a report to Congress on whether the crown prince was personally responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as US intelligence agencies concluded. But like Trump’s previous attempts to shield the prince from blame for Khashoggi’s killing, this one will backfire. By defending Prince Mohammed so strongly, Trump has made the crisis worse and has emboldened a tougher response in Congress.

Soon after Trump was elected, the Saudi crown prince and his advisers targeted Kushner as their gateway into Trump’s inner circle. They realized that Kushner was vulnerable because of his business dealings, lack of knowledge of the Middle East and eagerness to negotiate a peace agreement between ‘Israel’ and the Palestinians. Trump’s “inner circle is predominantly dealmakers who lack familiarity with political customs and deep institutions, and they support Jared Kushner”, a delegation of Saudi officials sent to the US by Prince Mohammed in November 2016 wrote in a presentation that was later published by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

The Saudis hooked Kushner on that visit, and by March 2017 he had arranged a formal lunch for Trump and Prince Mohammed at the White House, where the prince received a grand reception normally reserved for heads of state. Kushner then convinced Trump to make Saudi Arabia the first stop of his maiden foreign trip as president in May 2017. By that point, the Saudis realized that Trump craved flattery and respect, and they gave him an extravagant welcome with multiple banquets and displays of fealty. It’s no surprise that Prince Mohammed later boasted, according to the Intercept, that Kushner was “in his pocket” and had provided information about rivals in the Saudi royal family.

Kushner has been particularly vulnerable because of his family’s purchase of the tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007, at the height of the real estate market that crashed a year later. For the past two years, Kushner Companies has been negotiating for a bailout on the property with investors from China and Qatar, who had close ties to both governments. But those deals collapsed as investors worried about the extra scrutiny generated by Kushner’s role in the White House.

Last spring, Kushner Companies reached a tentative deal with Brookfield Asset Management, which is one of the world’s largest real estate companies, for a 99-year lease on the troubled office tower. At the same time as Brookfield’s property arm was making its deal with the Kushners, another Brookfield unit announced its $4.6bn purchase of Westinghouse Electric, a bankrupt nuclear services company that was part of the consortium vying to build power plants in Saudi Arabia.

That purchase needed the approval of the Trump administration: it was subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which includes senior officials from nine US government agencies. The deal required US approval because Canadian-based Brookfield is a foreign company that was seeking to buy an American firm in the nuclear industry. In the past, the committee required some foreign companies to abandon or make changes in their proposed deals. But Brookfield’s takeover of Westinghouse Electric was approved, and the deal closed on 1 August.

Saudi leaders conveyed to Trump – and Kushner – that they too value family loyalty and financial interests above all else.

On 3 August, Brookfield’s property unit announced it had closed its deal with Kushner Companies and that it would be paying the rent for the entire 99-year lease upfront: an infusion of about $1.1bn that would help the Kushners pay off a large portion of $1.4bn in mortgages due in February 2019. Without a deal, those looming mortgage payments could have forced the Kushners to sell the Fifth Avenue tower at a significant loss.

It’s unclear if Kushner’s business interests played a role in the US approval of Brookfield’s acquisition of a nuclear company. But these conflicts underline the Trump administration’s entire approach to Saudi Arabia and its allies. With his blind support for the reckless crown prince, Trump has dropped the pretense that the US-Saudi alliance is more than a transactional arrangement based on oil, weapons deals and some perceived security interests.

On 16 October, the same day that the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, arrived in Riyadh to meet with the Saudi king and crown prince over Khashoggi’s fate, Saudi officials deposited $100m in funds that had been pledged to the Trump administration in August to help stabilize parts of Syria liberated from Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group]. American diplomats were unsure when the money would arrive until it suddenly appeared in US accounts.

The timing of the funds was a signal to Trump in the deal-making language he understands: the kingdom would continue to honor its financial promises and business commitments to the United States if Trump cooperates in the crisis precipitated by Khashoggi’s murder. Saudi leaders conveyed to Trump – and Kushner – that they too value family loyalty and financial interests above all else.

Mujtahid: Saudi’s King Salman Mentally Dead, MBS Fooling Media

March 8, 2019

King Salman MBS

Saudi activist Mujtahid revealed on Thursday that King Salman is mentally dead and knows nothing about the latest decisions taken by Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).

Mujtahid said in several tweets on Thursday that King Salman has no idea that Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, and that Prince Khaled bin Salman was announced as the Kingdom’s deputy defense minister.

“King Salman cannot contribute to decision-making since he is mentally dead and cannot remember anything,” Mujtahid said on his Twitter account.

Meanwhile, the Saudi activists, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, noted that MBS wants to show that the king is conscious, pointing to the report published by The Gurdian British daily earlier this week.

“The report by The Gurdian on disagreements between King Salman and MBS is not but a trick by MBS to show that the King is mentally sound in a bid to defend himself from his local rivals.”

Source: Websites

Related Videos

Related Articles

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.

Why there?

And, Why Now?

Why Kashmir?

India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.

Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.

And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.

If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.

And at this point it looks like he’s still willing to give it a go as opposed to Trump who is simply revealing himself to be a thin-skinned version of Barack Obama, albeit with a distinctly orange hue.

But, still why right now?

Because Trump is distracted with his latest love affair with himself – taking credit for a Korean peace process that will proceed with or without him at this point. All he can do is slow it down, which is exactly what his Secretary of State has been doing since last year’s meeting in Singapore.

And that leaves people like John Bolton and the rest of the worst people in D.C. to go to work undermining an entire region of the world.

Last weekend’s terrorist attack was a planned provocation to produce the very outcome we have today. Jaish-e-Mohammed have too many direct and indirect links to Bush the Lesser era programs and Saudi Arabia to be ignored.

This attack happens just days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes rushing in to save Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves with promises of $10 billion to build a refinery of Saudi oil at the (now Chinese) port of Gwadar.

There are no coincidences in geopolitics. Timing is everything.

It reminds me of the flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2016. Then Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev on a Wednesday and by Sunday a nearly twenty-year peace was broken.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is desperate to keep Trump from pulling half of the troops out of Afghanistan. After a disastrous “Let Make War on Iran” conference in Warsaw two weeks ago, Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reeling from having obtained no support outside of those already committed to such a plan.

Europe roundly said no, other than willing satrap Poland, still hoping Daddy Trump will save them from the mean old Nordstream 2 pipeline.

As Alistair Crooke pointed out recently, Bolton is putting pressure on Pakistan to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban which somehow allows for the US to maintain all of its troop presence there.

Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

Bolton was also able to get Trump to agree to pull most of the troops out of Syria, leave just enough behind to call in airstrikes to protect what’s left of ISIS and relocate the rest to Iraq.

Trump gets to say he fulfilled a campaign promise, and everyone’s plans for War with Iran stays on schedule.

So, if I’m right (and there’s no guarantee that I am) what purpose does poking a fight between India and Pakistan serve?

Many, unfortunately.

1. One it sells the regional chaos angle about the need to continue the War on Terror.

2. ISIS is gone but we still have to fight Iran.

3. It punishes India for daring to get off the reservation.

4. It reminds Khan just how tenuous his hold on power is.

5. It is a warning to China that the US will risk everything to not lose the Heartland.

Add in the proximity to the Trump-Kim meeting as well as the fractious trade talks with China and you have an orgy of related news all at the same time to drive the point home.

Bolton, the Brits, France and Netanyahu were willing to risk World War III in Syria to create a false flag event in which Russia attacked a NATO target – the downing of the IL-20 ELINT aircraft last September.

Do you not think these insane animals wouldn’t risk a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India to blow up (literally) China’s plans to win the biggest prize in geopolitics?

If you don’t then you haven’t been paying attention.

Both Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to keep their heads here. Modi has an election coming up later this year. I’m sure the calculus was that he would jump at the opportunity to burnish his cred with voters by lobbing a few bombs inside Pakistan. For Khan, this is the first real test of his leadership and he has to resist the siren’s call of the Saudi’s money to balance all sides of the equation while de-escalating this situation as quickly as possible.

One thing is for certain, we haven’t seen the last of this.

Photo: Flickr

NYT: Trump «Ordered» Kushner Get Top-Secret Clearance

By Staff, Agencies

This report comes as Kushner travels throughout the Middle East touting the US peace plan.

Despite objections from a number of intelligence officials, US President Donald Trump ordered his former chief-of-staff to grant Jared Kushner – his son-in-law and top adviser – a top-secret security clearance, four people informed on the subject told The New York Times.

Several senior officials in the Trump administration were concerned with the president’s decision in May, including White House chief-of-staff at the time, John Kelly.

In an internally-circulated memo, Kelly griped that he had been “ordered” to pursue the high-level security clearance for Kushner.

Donald F. McGahn II, serving as White House counsel at the time, also penned an impassioned memo summarizing official concerns on Kushner – including from the CIA and other US security agencies.

McGahn personally recommended Kushner not receive a top-secret clearance.

In January, Trump told NYT that he was not personally involved in Kushner’s procurement of a top-secret clearance, a statement that stands in direct contradiction with the most recent report.

Kushner’s lawyer reportedly said the president’s son-in-law received the clearance last year according to standard processes. In early February, Ivanka Trump also said the way in which Kushner acquired the clearance was entirely standard.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday decline to comment on the recently revealed memos saying, “We don’t comment on security clearances.”

As Kushner travels throughout the Middle East working on the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” for peace in the region, concerns over his personal foreign contacts and other matters that first arose in May when he received a top-secret designation have resurfaced.

Kushner apparently met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, marking the first time the two meet since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in October last year.

Kushner has worked alongside Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt on the peace plan for nearly two years now.

On Monday, Kushner said that the US peace plan is “very detailed and will focus on drawing the border and resolving the core issues,” in an interview with Sky News Arabia.

Washington also hopes to see a reconciliation between the Palestinian leaderships in Gaza and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the al-Quds newspaper on Thursday reported that Washington’s long-awaited “deal of the century” will not include the establishment of a Palestinian state with al-Quds [Jerusalem] as its capital.

The Palestinians will get autonomy in the Gaza Strip with political and economic links to the West Bank, while “Israeli” settlements remain under “Israeli” control, according to the report.

However, the “Israeli” settlements in the West Bank will not be expanded.

Reuters cited anonymous sources in the Gulf, suggesting Kushner’s focus remains on economic initiatives to promote peace between the “Israeli” entity and the Palestinians.

The US peace plan, the source said, hopes to see a “substantial” financial contribution from Gulf states.

Earlier this month, Kushner told leaders from 60 countries at the Middle East summit in Warsaw that the peace plan will be presented after the Israeli elections on April 9.

%d bloggers like this: