As Trump Backs Down, the Pips Squeak

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As Trump Backs Down, the Pips Squeak

Tom Luongo July 21, 2019

Last week it was all fire and brimstone. The US was threatening more sanctions on Iran, the Brits were seizing oil tankers and Iran was violating the JCPOA.

This week things look different all of a sudden. An oil tanker goes dark while passing through the Strait of Hormuz, the story fails to get any real traction and the US allows Iranian Foreign Minister, recently sanctioned, to do his job at the United Nations.

Trump then holds a cabinet meeting where he reiterates that

“We’re not looking for regime change. We want them out of Yemen.”

I thought National Security Advisor John Bolton said the US would apply pressure until “the pips squeak.”

Where the pips are squeaking is on the Arabian Peninsula, not across the Persian Gulf in Bandar Abbas. Specifically, I’m talking about the United Arab Emirates. The UAE sent a delegation to Tehran recently that coincided with its partial withdrawal of troops from Yemen.

That meeting, according to Elijah Magnier, focused on Emirates realizing they are in the middle of this conflict, up to their skyscrapers.

“The UAE would like to avoid seeing their country transformed into a battlefield between the US and Iran in case of war, particularly if Trump is re-elected. The Emirates officials noted that the US did not respond to Iran’s retaliation in the Gulf and in particularly when the US drone was downed. This indicates that Iran is prepared for confrontation and will implement its explicit menace, to hit any country from which the US carries out their attacks on Iran. We want to be out of all this”, an Emirates official told his Iranian counterpart in Tehran.

Iran promised to talk to the Yemeni officials to avoid hitting targets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as long as the UAE pulls out its forces from the Yemen and stops this useless war. Saudi Crown Prime Mohammad Bin Salman is finding himself without his main Emirates ally, caught in a war that is unwinnable for the Saudi regime. The Yemeni Houthis have taken the initiative, hitting several Saudi strategic targets. Saudi Arabia has no realistic objectives and seems to have lost the appetite to continue the war in Yemen.

So, with the Houthis successfully striking major targets inside Saudi Arabia and the UAE abruptly pulling forces out, the war in Yemen has reached a critical juncture. Remember, the Republican-controlled Senate approved a bill withdrawing support for the war back in March, which the White House had to veto in support of its fading hopes for its Israeli/Palestinian deal pushed by Jared Kushner.

But things have changed significantly since then as that deal has been indefinitely postponed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing a second election this fall after he failed to secure a stable coalition.

After that there was the failed economic conference in Bahrainin June where Kushner revealed the economic part of the plan to a half-empty room where only the backers of the plan showed any real support.

And that’s the important part of this story, because it was Kushner’s plan which was the impetus for all of this insane anti-Iran belligerence in the first place. Uniting the Gulf states around a security pact leveraging the U.S/Israeli/Saudi alliance was part of what was supposed to pressure the Palestinians to the bargaining table.

By placing maximum economic sanctions on both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran while continuing to foment chaos in Syria was supposed to force Israel’s enemies to fold under the pressure which would, in turn, see the Palestinians surrender to the will of Kushner and Bibi.

The problem is, it didn’t work. And now Trump is left holding the bag on this idiotic policy which culminated in an obvious provocation when Iran shot down a $220 million Global Hawk surveillance drone, nearly sparking a wider war.

But what it did was expose the US and not Iran as the cause of the current problems.

Since then Trump finally had to stand up and be the grown-up in the room, such as he is, and put an end to this madness.

The UAE understood the potential for Iran’s asymmetric response to US belligerence. The Saudis cannot win the war in Yemen that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began. The fallout from this war has been to push Qatar out of the orbit of the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council, cutting deals with Iran over developing the massive North Pars gas field and pipelines to Europe.

And now the UAE has realized it is facing an existential threat to its future in any confrontation between Iran and the US

What’s telling is that Trump is making Yemen the issue to negotiate down rather than Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Because it was never about the nuclear program. It was always about Iran’s ballistic missile program.

And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would have us believe that for the first time Iran’s missile program is on the negotiating table. I have no idea if that’s actually true, but it’s a dead giveaway that it’s what the US is after.

The main reason why Trump and Netanyahu are so angry about the JCPOA is the mutual outsourcing of the nuclear ballistic missile program by Iran and North Korea. North Korea was working on the warhead while Iran worked on the ballistic missile.

Trump tweeted about this nearly two years ago, confirming this link. I wrote about it when he did this.  Nearly everything I said about North Korea in the blog post is now applicable to Iran. This was why he hated the JCPOA, it didn’t actually stop the development of Iran and North Korea into nuclear states.

But tearing up the deal was the wrong approach to solving the problem. Stop pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons to the region, as Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pointed out recently, is the problem. By doing this he took both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping off his side of the table.

Now he stands isolated with only the provocateurs – Israel, the U.K., Saudi Arabia – trying to goad him forward into doing something he doesn’t want to do. And all of those provocations that have occurred in the past month have failed to move either Trump or the Iranians. They’ve learned patience, possibly from Putin. Call it geopolitical rope-a-dope, if you will.

I said last month that the key to solving Iran’s nuclear ambitions was solving the relationship with North Korea. Trump, smartly, went there, doing what only he could do, talk with DPRK Chairman Kim Jong-Un and reiterate his sincere desire to end proliferation of nuclear weapons.

He can get Iran to the table but he’s going to have to give up something. So, now framing the negotiations with Iran around their demands we stop arming the Saudis is politically feasible.

Trump can’t, at this point, back down directly with Iran. Yemen is deeply unpopular here and ending our support of it would be a boon to Trump politically. Trading that for some sanctions relief would be a good first step to solving the mess he’s in and build some trust.

Firing John Bolton, which looks more likely every day, would be another.

He’s already turning a blind eye to Iranian exports to China, and presumably, other places. I think the Brits are acting independently trying to create havoc and burnish Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s resume as Prime Minister against Boris Johnson. That’s why they hijacked the oil tanker.

But all the little distractions are nothing but poison pills to keep from discussing the real issues. Trump just cut through all that. So did Iran. Let’s hope they stay focused.

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The Saudi Coalition Continues to Falter in Yemen

President Donald Trump speaks with Mohammed bin Salman in 2017 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The Saudi Coalition Continues to Falter in Yemen

The UAE has been withdrawing some forces from the war on Yemen. That has not put an end to their interference in Yemen by any stretch of the imagination, but it represents another setback for the Saudi coalition. The failed Saudi-led war on Yemen continues to falter. The New York Times reports that Mohammed bin Salman wants the U.S. to increase its involvement in the war to fill the gap left by the UAE:

Four years later, the war is lodged in a stalemate and Prince Mohammed’s signature fight has become a quagmire, diplomats and analysts say. A steep pullout by his key ally, the United Arab Emirates, they say, raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s ability to lead the war on its own.

Emboldened by the hawkish comments of Trump administration officials, Prince Mohammed is now hoping Washington will help make up the difference with new American military support, according to diplomats with knowledge of the conversations.

Congress won’t support increasing U.S. involvement in a war that they have repeatedly voted to end, but the president has vetoed their resolutions and ignored their objections for more than two years. It remains to be seen whether he would try to escalate our government’s already illegal involvement in this war. To date, Trump has indulged the Saudi government on practically everything, and he has been echoing Saudi propaganda on Yemen for so many years that he may actually think that this has something to do with fighting Iran. It would be difficult to sell deeper U.S. involvement when even the UAE has decided that the war in northern Yemen isn’t worth fighting. If it isn’t important enough for the UAE, how could it possibly be important enough for the U.S.?

The war on Yemen wasn’t winnable for the Saudi coalition before, and now with the UAE’s pullback it is certain that the coalition can’t prevail:

“Saudi Arabia can prevent peace from breaking out and can bleed the Houthis on a never-ending northern front,” Michael Knights, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued in a report this week. “But only the U.A.E. had the military potency and local allied forces to credibly threaten defeat for the Houthis.”

The responsible thing for the U.S. to do is to take advantage of the Saudi coalition’s weakness and use our leverage with Saudi Arabia to get a general ceasefire and peace negotiations. We know the Trump administration won’t do that, but that is what would bring the biggest part of the war to a close. The war has a catastrophe for Yemen, but it has also been terrible for Saudi Arabia’s security. Halting their campaign is the best way for them to put an end to missile and drone attacks inside their country. The longer the Saudis take to extricate themselves from the mess they created, the worse it is going to be for them. The U.S. should do everything it can to urge and push them to get out at once.

Unfortunately, the administration has been sending Saudi Arabia the wrong signals. The article mentions that Pompeo was encouraging the Saudis to press on with the war just a few months ago:

At an American-sponsored conference in Warsaw in February, Mr. Pompeo bluntly told the Saudis and others that the coalition fighting in Yemen should kick the stuffing out of the Houthis, one diplomat present said, although he said Mr. Pompeo used an earthier noun than stuffing. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.

That certainly sounds like Pompeo: gruff, stupid, and bombastic. If that is representative of how the Trump administration sees the war, we have to assume that they will put no pressure on Saudi Arabia to end the war and they may even try to increase the U.S. role.

More than four years after the Saudi coalition intervened in Yemen, they have achieved none of their stated goals, and they have failed to compel the Houthis to cede the capital. Abandoning a failed war will be embarrassing for Mohammed bin Salman, but persisting in an unwinnable quagmire out of misguided pride is even more humiliating and destructive.

America’s Latest Mideast Crisis May Have No Escape

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN • 

In October 1950, as U.S. forces were reeling from hordes of Chinese troops who had intervened massively in the Korean War, a 5,000-man Turkish brigade arrived to halt an onslaught by six Chinese divisions.

Said supreme commander General Douglas MacArthur:

“The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.”

President Harry Truman awarded the brigade a Presidential Unit Citation.

In 1951, Turkey ended a neutrality dating back to the end of World War I and joined NATO. In the seven decades since, there has been no graver crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations than the one that erupted this week.

Turkey has just received the first components of a Russian S-400 air and missile defense system, despite U.S. warnings that this would require the cancelation of Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” said the White House.

The sale has been canceled. The Turkish pilots and instructors training in the U.S. are being sent home. Contracts with Turkish companies producing parts for the F-35 are being terminated. Under U.S. law, the administration is also required to impose sanctions on Turkey for buying Russian weaponry.

Wednesday, the Pentagon warned Turkey against military action in an area of Syria where U.S. troops are deployed. The Turks appear to be massing for an incursion against American-backed Syrian Kurdish forces that Ankara regards as terrorist allies of the Kurdish PKK inside Turkey.How America and Turkey avoid a collision that could wreck NATO, when the Turks field the second-largest army in the alliance, is not easy to see.

U.S. hawks are already calling for the expulsion of Turkey from NATO. And the withdrawal of American forces and nuclear weapons from the Incirlik air base in Turkey in retaliation is not out of the question.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sounds defiant:

“We have begun to receive our S-400s. …God willing, they will have been installed in their sites by April 2020. …The S-400s are the strongest defense system against those who want to attack our country. Now the aim is joint production with Russia. We will do that.”

While potentially the most crucial of recent developments in the Middle East, the U.S.-Turkish situation is not the only one.

The United Arab Emirates is pulling its forces out of Yemen as Congress seeks to restrict U.S. support for Saudi forces fighting Houthi rebels there and to sanction Riyadh for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

If the UAE pulls out, and the U.S. cuts its military aid, the Saudis cannot prevail in a war they have been unable to win with our help after four years of fighting. And if the Houthis win, the Saudis and Sunni Arabs lose, and Iran wins.

This week, to strengthen the U.S. presence for any confrontation with Iran, President Donald Trump is sending 500 additional American troops to Saudi Arabia.

While the U.S. and Iran have thus far avoided a military or naval clash that could ignite a major war, the “maximum pressure” sanctions Trump has imposed are choking Iran’s economy to death. How this ends in a negotiated resolution and not a shooting war remains difficult to see.

In Doha, Qatar, the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban over the conditions for a withdrawal of the 14,000 American troops still in Afghanistan. And with the Taliban controlling more of the countryside than they have since being ousted from power in 2001, and conducting regular suicide bombings in Afghan cities and towns, it is hard to see how this Kabul regime and its army prevail in a civil war when we are gone, when they could not while we were there.

In this new century, leaders of both parties have plunged our country into at least five wars in the Middle and Near East.

In 2001, after ousting the Taliban and driving al-Qaeda out, we decided to use our power and ideas to build a new democratic Afghanistan. In 2003, we invaded and occupied Iraq to create a pro-Western bastion in the heart of the Middle East.

In 2011, Barack Obama ordered U.S. planes to attack Colonel Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. We brought him down. Obama then backed Syrian rebels to overthrow the dictator Bashar al-Assad. In 2015, U.S. forces supported a Saudi war to roll back the Houthi rebels’ victory in Yemen’s civil war.

None of these conflicts has produced a victory or success for us.

But taken together, they did produce a multitrillion-dollar strategic and human rights disaster. Meanwhile, China gained much from having its great rival, the world’s last superpower, thrashing about ineffectually in the forever wars of the Middle East.

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” said Trump.

Yes, they do. As the British, French, Germans, Japanese, and Russians have shown during the last century, that is how they cease to be great nations.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at http://www.creators.com.

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Shaker Amin: S. Arabia, UAE Throw Stones into Neighboring Yemen Equipped with Ballistic Missiles, Explosive Drones

Fri Jul 19, 2019 10:4

Shaker Amin: S. Arabia, UAE Throw Stones into Neighboring Yemen Equipped with Ballistic Missiles, Explosive Drones

TEHRAN (FNA)– Shaker Amin, Yemeni journalist and activist, says Riyadh is dependent upon oil and Hajj income, and the UAE “is a mason empire of capitalism that depends on the attraction of foreign investments”, making them increasingly concerned about their fragile security which easily severely undermined by Yemeni missiles or drones strike.

https://youtu.be/LMzaONWbhqoSpeaking in an exclusive interview with FNA, Shaker Amin Shaker said “from the rubbles of our houses struck by the coalition’s jet fighters we could have stood up again on our feet with a faithful will to defeat the enemy and take a revenge for the shattered bodies of our women, children and elderly people.”

Commenting on importance of the drone strikes, he noted “That is the correct definition of effectiveness when you turn to be able to strike deep inside the enemy’s own territories after they announced full destruction of your military capabilities.”

Shaker Amin is a Yemeni journalist and commentator. He has been reporting from Sana’a, exposing the Saudi-led coalition atrocities in the impoverished Arab country.

Below is the full text of the interview.

Q: The bank of targets of Yemeni drone strikes is widening day by day. How effective do you find the Yemeni drone strikes?

A: They are enormously effective to the extent that the Saudi king called for the session of three summits, [Persian] Gulf, Arabs and Islamic. What they just saw is just the beginning, and there is a lot more to come. We say that with confidence because we trust our leaders who have surprised their own Yemeni people before the enemy and the whole world; by producing such high tech devices from the scratch not to mention being under total blockade. From the rubbles of our houses struck by the coalition’s jet fighters we could have stood up again on our feet with a faithful will to defeat the enemy and take a revenge for the shattered bodies of our women, children and elderly people. That is the correct definition of effectiveness when you turn to be able to strike deep inside the enemy’s own territories after they announced full destruction of your military capabilities and infrastructures. Another reason why the drone strikes are extremely effective is that we are fed up with fighting our own people “the mercenaries” in an endless battle that is exhausting our capabilities; human and materialistic. It has been always time from the beginning to make the enemy suffer, feel pain and get burnt by the fire it started in the first place; otherwise, the war’s ending could not be even imagined.

Q: Yemen said the capital of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are within the range. Do you think such drone and missile strikes change the game rules in this war?

A: The drones and missiles resemble an electric shock to the closed-minded closed-eyed hypocritical international community, and send a clear message that their efforts to make the Yemeni war look like a civil war is not acceptable any longer. The free Yemeni people, leaders and army will not tolerate watching the blood-shedding and souls-taking of Yemeni innocent people while the Saudi and Emirati warmongers live in peace. Moreover, our leaders and army will not bear up with the fact that they steal our petroleum resources and other tax and customs incomes while dozens of Yemeni people die of starvation and diseases on daily basis, not to mention victims of air raids and artillery shelling. I think the regional puppets and their super power masters have understood by now that our war is ascending and our capabilities are developing day after another, and that Yemen is not an easy digestible bite, and that the long centuries of Yemeni civilization cannot be erased or stolen by reckless clumsy monarchies.

Q: Why do Saudi Arabia and the UAE deny important places targeted by Yemeni armed drones?

A: Because they want to maintain their image of power before the oppressed people of Najd and Alhijaz. The fake power that allows al-Saud continue stealing petroleum resources and Hajj incomes to support Israel. That’s the absent reality not many people know. As for the UAE, it is a mason empire of capitalism that depends on the attraction of foreign investments. It is a fragile superficial structure of glass that requires ultimate security and stability. So, you can imagine the impact of a missile or drone strikes. This is not a prediction but rather a warning. Do not throw stones on your neighbor’s house if your house is made of glass and your neighbor has ballistic missiles and explosive drones. Saudi Arabia and the UAE deny Yemeni Strikes because they are weaker than spiders’ web, exactly as their cousins in Israel.

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Yemen War Now is MBS’ Quagmire: NYT

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

 Source
July 19, 2019
The war in Yemen is lodged in a stalemate and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s fight has become a quagmire, the New York Times reported.

“From the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, it was Prince Mohammed’s war,” David D. Kirkpatrick said in his article entitled: “Yemen Has Been a Saudi Prince’s War. Now It’s His Quagmire.”

“Four years later, the war is lodged in a stalemate and Prince Mohammed’s signature fight has become a quagmire, diplomats and analysts say. A steep pullout by his key ally, the United Arab Emirates, they say, raises questions about Saudi Arabia’s ability to lead the war on its own,” Kirkpatrick said in the article published on Thursday.

The Saudi crown prince, who is well known as MBS, is now hoping Washington will help make up the difference with new American military support, the writer said citing diplomats with knowledge of the conversations.

But congressional opposition to the war makes that highly unlikely, leaving the prince with some potentially humbling choices.

“It hurts him because it injures his credibility as a successful leader,” said Kristin Smith Diwan, an analyst at the Arab Gulf States Institute. His personal investment, she said, could motivate him to search for some partial accommodation he could label a victory.

“Not many people in Saudi Arabia feel this is a wise investment for the future,” she added.

While the Saudis have fought almost entirely from the air, the Emiratis, led virtually every successful ground advance, according to Kirkpatrick.

As a result, analysts said, the Emirati exit makes the prospect of a Saudi military victory even more remote.

“Saudi Arabia can prevent peace from breaking out and can bleed the Houthis on a never-ending northern front,” Michael Knights, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argued in a report this week. “But only the U.A.E. had the military potency and local allied forces to credibly threaten defeat for the Houthis.”

But the Saudis cannot easily withdraw either, partly because of the kingdom’s 1,100-mile border with Yemen, Kirkpatrick said.

“The Saudis don’t have the luxury of walking out of Yemen,” said Farea al-Muslimi, chairman of the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies, a research institute in the Yemeni capital. “There is no way to flee.”

Some Western and United Nations diplomats hope that the Emirati withdrawal will push Prince Mohammed to negotiate a deal with the Houthis, potentially trading an end to the Saudi-led air campaign for some measure of security on the long border. He already faces mounting criticism in Congress and across the West for over the war’s devastating impact on the civilians, according to Kirkpatrick.

Source: NYT

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Emirati Withdrawal from Yemen Frustrates ‘Israel’, Confirms Saudi Defeat: Yediot Ahronot

July 18, 2019

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported that the Emirati withdrawal from Yemen has frustrated the Zionist officials who viewed it as a complete defeat for their ally, Saudi.

The paper added that the Zionists can benefit from the Yemeni sample in preparation for the upcoming war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, considering that the air force alone is unable to settle any battle.

Ynet also mentioned that the Zionist entity will face Hezbollah alone just as Saudi was left to fight alone in Yemen, adding that the war must never last for a long time for this may cause much losses.

Yemen has been since March 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition, in a bid to restore control to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is Riyadh’s ally.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and injured in the strikes launched by the coalition, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

The coalition, which includes in addition to Saudi Arabia and UAE: Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, has been also imposing a harsh blockade against Yemenis.

Source: Ynet

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US Preparing To Send Hundreds of Troops to Saudi Arabia

By Staff, Agencies

Reports suggested that the administration of US President Donald Trump is preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid escalating tensions with Iran and despite growing criticism of Washington’s military ties with Riyadh over the Saudi regime’s gloomy human rights record.

Citing two US military officials, CNN reported that around five-hundred troops are expected to be dispatched to the Prince Sultan Air Base, located in a desert area east of the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

They said that a small number of troops and support personnel are already in the air base, with initial preparations being made for a US-made Patriot missile system as well as runway and airfield improvements.

The unnamed officials said that Washington is expected to fly stealth, fifth-generation F-22 jets and other fighters from the air base.

Relatively, commercial high-resolution satellites taken in mid-June by Planet Labs and obtained by CNN, showed an initial deployment of US forces and support personnel to the site, according to Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, who has studied the new images.

“A small encampment and construction equipment appeared at the end of a runway by June 27, suggesting that improvements are already underway. The encampment to the east of the runway is typical of Air Force engineering squadrons deployed overseas,” he told CNN.

So far, neither the Pentagon nor Saudi Arabia has made any comment on the issue.

However, the Pentagon last month announced it was sending 1,000 additional US forces and more military resources to the Middle East but did not specify which countries they were going to.

The forces going to Saudi Arabia are said to be part of this deployment.

Congress has not been formally notified of the deployment, although one official told CNN that they had been given an informal heads-up and an announcement is expected next week.

The US decision to boost military ties with Saudi Arabia comes despite Congressional outcry over the kingdom’s human rights records.

The White House said in May it was making an emergency provision within the country’s arms control law to enable billions of dollars of arms sales to the Saudi kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, the US’s main allies in the Gulf. The recourse helps the president bypass congressional review for the exports.

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