What Else Is Washington Not Telling Us About US Participation in Yemen?

What Else Is Washington Not Telling Us About US Participation in Yemen?

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 14.05.2018

What Else Is Washington Not Telling Us About US Participation in Yemen?

Randi NORD

For the past three years, the United States has attempted to disguise, manipulate, or outright deny its involvement in Yemen. Nonetheless, new facts come to light every so often that indicate Washington’s participation in the Saudi-led war is much more hands-on than officials let on.

The Covert Role of the US in Yemen

The recent news about Green Berets deployed along the Saudi border highlights the ever-growing U.S. role. So, what else is Washington not disclosing about the US in Yemen?

The United States regime has consistently downplayed its role in Yemen while news emerges that counters this narrative. Let’s take a look at everything the United States has done while insisting its role in Yemen is passive.

Green Berets Deployed Along the Saudi-Yemen Border

News emerged last week that Green Berets are stationed along the Saudi-Yemen border to assist Saudi troops. A report from the New York Times says 12 commandos arrived back in December. The NYT received this information from American officials and European diplomats who claim the Green Berets’ only mission is to destroy weapons caches belonging to Yemeni forces.

This timing coincides with a high-profile long-range missile launch by Yemeni forces targeting Riyadh in response to the ongoing airstrikes. The missile launch in question took place in early November. This is the same missile launch U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, used fragments from to suggest a U.S. war against Iran.

The NYT’s sources said that the Green Berets have not and will not participate in direct combat with Yemeni forces. Ansarullah (aka “the Houthis”) troops known as Yemen’s Army and Popular Committees have not shared any photos or reports indicating direct combat either. At this point, the “no direct combat” claim seems to stand.

It’s worth mentioning that the US deployed these Green Berets in December yet Yemen’s resistance forces have launched countless retaliatory missile attacks on Saudi targets since.

A U.S. Army Lieutenant Now Serves for the United Arab Emirates in Yemen — Seriously

This week, Buzzfeed reported that a former U.S. Army lieutenant now serves for the United Arab Emirates. Prior to joining the Emiratis, Stephen Toumajan served as a lieutenant colonel for the United States throughout most of his career.

But murdering Arabs in their own country isn’t Toumajan’s only passion — he also ran a breast enhancement company in Tennessee called “Breast Wishes.”

Although Buzzfeed broke the story, this information comes from Toumajan’s own admissions as well as an Emirati’s government website. The U.A.E. speaks highly of Toumajan as “his excellency” and promoted him from his previous U.S. Army lieutenant position. He now serves as a commander for the U.A.E. Joint Aviation Command manning helicopters.

Depending on who’s asking, Toumajan may deny his official status — it is, after all, a very gray area legality-wise. When it came to a recent child custody hearing, the American Emirati commander quickly back-peddled on his official involvement in the foreign military.

Speaking to Buzzfeed via WhatsApp, Toumajan called himself a “civilian contractor.”

This highlights the growing instances of using for-profit hires (bluntly: contract killers) to bypass standard military norms and international law. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates both utilize Blackwater mercenaries for boosting their military ranks.

These countries have flooded Yemen with foreign fighters to kill indigenous Yemenis on their own soil. Fighters often hail from Sudan and many Latin American countries like Columbia and Mexico.

The U.A.E. takes particular advantage of this market and it’s very common for foreigners to serve under the Emirati banner. Mike Hindmarsh, for example, is a retired Australian senior officer who now serves on the U.A.E. Presidential Guard.

This strategy allows the United States and western countries to station troops in Yemen without stationing troops in Yemen.

UAE and US in Yemen Establish 18 Black-site Torture Centers

Last year, reports emerged that the US in Yemen helped the United Arab Emirates establish a series of black-site detention centers throughout territory under their control.

Inmates at these 18 detention centers cited unspeakable torture. One device, known as “the grill,” roasted victims for interrogation. Guards smeared detainees with feces and crammed them into what looks like shipping containers in Yemen’s intense heat for indefinite amounts of time. Beatings and electrocutions are commonplace.

Conditions look similar — if not much worse — to the infamous Abu Graihb U.S.-run detention center in Iraq.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. and Emirati troops rounded up civilians without any justification as part of sweeps to flush out suspected al-Qaeda militants. It appears as though the prisons still function.

Low-key Raids by the US in Yemen

8-year old American-Yemeni Nawar al-Awlaki, killed by Navy Seal Team 6 during the botched raid in Yemen.

Eight-year-old Nawar Anwar Al-Awlaqi is said to have bled to death over two hours

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Yemen made headlines. But the war-torn nation didn’t break news because of the genocidal bombing campaign. No, Yemen made headlines because a Navy Seal died in a disastrous raid against suspected al-Qaeda militants — the Trump regime’s first official military action.

Not satisfied with the result, Washington ordered a similar raid just months later.

The first raid left 25 civilians dead while the second killed at least five. Many readers may not know that a very young girl died during one of these low-key raids — she was an eight-year-old American citizen named Nawar al-Awlaki. A 70-year-old partially blind man also died.

Again, Navy Seals did not leave the scene unscathed. In fact, conflicting reports cast doubt on Washington’s official story. According to local Yemeni sources, tribal fighters (not aligned to any group) killed or injured at least 30 U.S. and Gulf troops during the second raid which took place in May.

Yemeni sources also say that al-Qaeda fighters were not present in this particular area of Marib province during the attack.

So, why did the U.S. conduct the raid if al-Qaeda wasn’t even in the area? This particular blunder may be attributed to a number of factors including

  • Securing oil-rich land from rogue (anti-U.S. but not “terrorist”) indigenous tribal groups.
  • Bad intelligence — highly likely considering the U.S.-Saudi coalition’s general military failures in Yemen and on other battlefronts.
  • Something else that Washington hasn’t (and probably won’t) disclose.

Considering that Yemen is known as the “secret war,” whatever the true goal of the mission was is anyone’s guess.

Occupying Socotra

Yemen is isolated: the blockade restricts access to both foreign and domestic journalists. As a result, detailed reporting about U.S. involvement is hard to find — especially in regards to remote Yemeni islands like Socotra and the Bab el Mandeb.  Socotra is a small island between Yemen and Somalia and its territory belongs to Yemen.

Abu Dhabi has used their war in Yemen as a springboard to challenge regional Saudi hegemony — with remarkable success. For just about every Saudi failure in Yemen, you’ll find a success from the Emirates. The United Arab Emirates began occupying Yemen’s Socotra — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — early on during the war.

Residents aren’t fond of their presence and have no desire to participate in the mainland’s war. Emirati troops recently bribed Socotris during a private door-to-door census: future cash and benefits for a possible vote to secede and become part of the U.A.E. Abu Dhabi’s assertiveness in Yemen has certainly rubbed their allies in Riyadh the wrong way.

Considering Washington’s close relationship with the Emirates, it’s hard to imagine that the U.S. is sitting on the sidelines during this land grab. This activity would require extreme stealth to avoid angering Washington’s allies in Riyadh.

Selling Internationally Banned Weapons to the Saudi Coalition

Saudi Arabia and the US in Yemen have used the war as a testing grounds for military action and weapons. Despite the United States condemning Syria for suspected chemical weapons, the US has no problem selling chemical weapons like white phosphorous to the Saudi coalition to use in Yemen.

In the war’s early days, Yemeni forces detained a large number of trucks in Marib province. The trucks contained materials which militants could use to manufacture sarin gas. Yemeni sources believed the weapons came from Turkish planes under the cover of humanitarian aid.

The United States also sold cluster munitions to the Saudi coalition before coming under international pressure from rights groups. Cluster bombs — previously manufactured in the United States until very recently — are internationally banned.

Even recent reports suggest the Saudis still use cluster bombs in Yemen. It’s unclear whether the United States or the United Kingdom provide the supply or if Riyadh is working through an old stockpile.

Occupying Oil Fields

The United States isn’t supposed to have any troops stationed in Yemen. Washington maintains that its role in Yemen involves two key goals: supporting the Saudi coalition and countering al-Qaeda influence.

Last summer, Emirati troops greeted U.S. soldiers in Yemen at a remote airport in eastern Yemen. Together, they conducted a special mission to push AQAP militants out of key oil fields. Now, the Emiratis and U.S. occupy some of Yemen’s vital oil supplies.

Fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen poses a significant challenge for the United States because their Saudi-allied fighters consider the terror group an ally against Ansarullah. For one thing, AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi openly admits his men fight alongside U.S.-backed troops.

Terror attacks are common in territory controlled by U.S. allies. AQAP and ISIS militants frequently target Emirati-backed politicians and officials with car bombs or assassination attempts. When the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen visited the war-torn country, he could not visit specific areas controlled by the US-Saudi coalition due to the threat posed by terror groups. The UN Special Envoy did not have this same experience in Sana’a and territory under Ansarullah control.

What Else is Washington Not Telling Us About the US in Yemen?

U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign has produced over 36,000 casualties between killed and injured. The airstrikes typically target homes, schools, businesses, farms, fishing boats, water treatment facilities and just about anything else you can imagine.

Washington also helps enforce the Saudi-led blockade which restricts imports, exports, and the flow of movement. This has put roughly 22 million Yemenis into either food insecurity or direct famine. Medical supplies are scarce and thousands of patients suffer the consequences — cancer patients, those requiring kidney dialysis, and pregnant women are most at risk.

On top of this, the United States has carried out covert military actions in Yemen for over the past three years. From deploying Green Berets and occupying oil fields to running black-site torture centers, the US in Yemen has ignored all international laws and norms.

What else is Washington not telling the public about the US in Yemen?

mintpressnews.com

Photo: Middle East Monitor

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Who Is Muhammad bin Zayed?

Darko Lazar

02-12-2017 | 08:00

During a 2007 meeting with the US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates gave his two cents on the ‘appeal’ of extremist groups.

MBZ

“I am an Arab, I am a Muslim, and I pray. And in the 1970s and early 1980s I was one of them,” Muhammad bin Zayed [MBZ] said.

Leaked US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks later exposed the meeting’s disturbing exchanges.

All of the cables referring to MBZ were marked “secret” or “confidential”, and none left any doubt as to who the crown prince regards as his foes.

In the meeting that took place over 10 years ago – long before Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria – MBZ describes the Lebanese resistance group as being more dangerous than Al Qaeda.

He justified the claim by adding that Hezbollah “did a very tough job on “Israel” this summer”, in reference to the 2006 “Israeli” attack on Lebanon.

With all that in mind, it is hardly surprising that the UAE ended up playing a crucial role in bankrolling and aiding terrorist groups that attempted to overthrow the Damascus government – proving that MBZ was in fact “one of them”.

But this crown prince should not be confused for just another Daesh-supporting royal who desperately seeks the approval of Riyadh and Washington.

On the contrary, Muhammad bin Zayed wields enormous power, and his role in the Middle East is often understated.

The Seychelles meeting

Following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January of this year, the UAE’s Bin Zayed was among the first foreign leaders to be hosted at the White House.

This fact alone testifies to MBZ’s importance, not just in the Middle East, but on the world stage as well. And if one is to believe the Washington Post, his global reach is significant.

In April of this year, the paper reported that MBZ brokered a meeting between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian national close to Vladi¬mir Putin.

The encounter, which reportedly took place around January 11 in the Seychelles islands, was designed to establish a back-channel line of communication between the Kremlin and the Trump White House.

No, Muhammad bin Zayed wasn’t hoping to ease tensions between Washington and Moscow. He was exploring whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria.

The purported role of Erik Prince, who has close ties to the Trump administration, is also interesting.

Best known as the founder of a security firm that became a symbol of US abuses in Iraq, Prince has been building a private paramilitary empire across the Middle East in recent years.

In 2010, he was contracted by MBZ to put together a secret American-led mercenary army for the UAE.

Since then, foreign mercenaries operating under the umbrella of Prince’s Frontier Services Group [FSG] have popped-up in every country where the UAE is attempting to exert its influence, including Yemen, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan as well as Saudi Arabia.

In late November, a source cited by the UK’s Daily Mail revealed that American private security contractors were brought in to work for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman, and were “torturing” princes and billionaire businessmen arrested in MBS’s power grab.

“All the guards in charge are private security,” the source was quoted as saying. “They’ve transferred all the guys from Abu Dhabi. Now they are in charge of everything.”

If Erik Prince’s private little armies are indeed “in charge of everything”, then it is not too difficult to ascertain as to who is really calling the shots in Riyadh.

The mentee/mentor relationship

One of the region’s less talked about relationships is also one of its most important.

Earlier this year, the online portal Politico described the 56-year-old crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the 31-year-old crown prince of Saudi Arabia as the region’s “dynamic duo”, where the older MBZ tutors the younger MBS in the ways of the world.

“They appear to have a mentee/mentor relationship,” a Politico article reads.

As far back as 2015, MBZ’s man in Washington – the UAE’s ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba – began laying the groundwork for Salman’s rise to the top.

Otaiba’s recently hacked emails reveal that he was promoting MBS among Washington’s political elites for years. Salman is now the Saudi king in everything but name.

According to the Intercept, “MBS is a project of the UAE.”

The Intercept cites one of Otaiba’s leaked emails in which the diplomat sums up Abu Dhabi’s relationship with Riyadh as one “based on strategic depth, shared interests, and most importantly the hope that we could influence them. Not the other way around.”

Testifying to MBZ’s “influence” in Saudi Arabia is the sheer fact that all his opponents in Riyadh have been completely sidelined by the rise of his “mentee”.

Some of the more prominent names on that list include Mohammed bin Nayef – the ex-crown prince who was removed as next in line to the throne in June and who MBZ compared to a monkey.

Meanwhile, the ousted Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who escaped house arrest in his home country, is now a prisoner in Riyadh over his enmity with the UAE.

The UAE-led coalition

The grotesque war in Yemen has dragged on for nearly three years now.

So far, tens of thousands have been killed, and the country is being ravaged by an outbreak of cholera.

This calamity is credited to Saudi Arabia’s Bin Salman, who started the war as defense minister in 2015.

More than two years later and the Saudis clearly lack the recourses to bring the war to a successful conclusion.

Legitimate military targets have been exhausted, and the indiscriminant bombing of civilians is drawing increasingly harsher international condemnation.

From a military standpoint, the so-called blockade is utterly useless as Yemen’s vast coastline and land border with Oman can never be completely sealed-off.

Moreover, there is no plausible scenario that would allow the Saudis to mount a successful ground invasion of northern Yemen where the Ansarullah movement is still capable of very stiff resistance.

Meanwhile, MBZ, who is described as a junior partner in the coalition bombing Yemen, has had far greater successes than his protégé in Riyadh.

The UAE now enjoys a considerable presence in southern Yemen, especially in Aden where it recently deployed a military brigade, tanks and other heavy armaments.

With the help of Erik Prince’s mercenaries, the Emirati-backed Aidarous al-Zubaidi – the former governor of Aden and leader of the newly formed Southern Transitional Council – has completely suppressed Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s influence and is fuelling a growing secessionist movement.

This brings MBZ one-step closer to fulfilling his goal of South Yemeni secession, which would translate into the creation of an Emirati protectorate, antagonistic towards the north.

The Emiratis have also extended their influence in the region surrounding the highly strategic Bab Al-Mandab Strait – a busy oil and gas route leading to Europe and North America.

Aside from colonizing the islands of Socotra and Abd al-Kuri, the UAE completed the construction of a naval base in the Eritrean port of Assab and is already building a second base in the nearby Somaliland port of Berbera.

As such, the UAE is the only actor in the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in living memory to record very significant geopolitical gains.

There are no Berlin Wall moments in the Middle East

MBZ’s gains in Yemen come amid his catastrophic failures in Syria where the terrorist scourge was unsuccessful in undermining Iran, Hezbollah and its regional allies.

These developments have given rise to a highly erratic and unpredictable Riyadh, new frontlines, new alliances and the strengthening of some old ones.

But despite all the noise and commotion, don’t hold your breath waiting for something dramatic like the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the Middle East there are many walls.

The war against Daesh was only one theater in a much wider geopolitical struggle. New theaters are opening up, and many of the old actors are still around.

Source: Al-Ahed

The MBS – Blackwater marriage of convenience

November 23, 2017

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker blog

Mohamed Bin Salman’s (MBS) royal Saudi coup is still in the making and its stories of mystery and intrigue are unfolding.

Some recent articles written about this unprecedented Saudi development have focused on whether or not MBS was actually desirous of instigating reform within the kingdom of sand and capable of putting together the infrastructure that made such reform possible and how. Other more cynical articles have cast little doubt on his ability to create any change and classified him as yet another puppet of the legacy that his grandfather King Abdul Aziz, the founder of the Saudi dynasty, has forged with the West. In between the two extremes, many perhaps waited in anticipation to see what was to happen next in the now quick-changing kingdom that did not change at all in essence for nearly a hundred years.

To put recent developments into perspective, we must objectively look at MBS’s achievements and failures since his rise to prominence; with a special emphasis on the developments of the last few weeks.

MBS has failed to turn previous Saudi Government failed policy on Syria to his advantage by distancing his own legacy from it. If anything, the outcome of the Syrian opposition conference that was held in Riyadh was a farcical outcome of Saudi diplomacy. Not only did this conference coincide with the 20th of November 2017 Putin-Assad Sochi victory summit, but it is still “demanding” the removal of Syrian President Assad from power.

The arrogant and seemingly naive Saudis seem to be still under the illusion that they are able to dictate terms of settlement of the “War on Syria” despite the fact that they have put all of their efforts into winning it but have lost decisively. However, the more painful fact for them is that they lost without a single bargaining chip remaining for them to capitalize on.

Whilst MBS can be “excused” for not being able to find a face-saving way out of Syria, he has failed abysmally in the war that he orchestrated in Yemen, and as this war drags on, the international community is beginning to wake up to the atrocities and genocide that the Saudi-led coalition is inflicting upon Yemen, and no one can be held more accountable for this military failure and crime against humanity than MBS himself.

MBS also failed to contain the loss he “inherited” from the failures of previous Saudi policies in Lebanon and Iraq. If anything, his determination to remain steadfast with these has turned regional Saudi policies into a total joke.

So where did MBS score any success, if any at all?

In my previous related articles and herein, I have mentioned and reiterate that MBS is increasingly gaining popularity within the ranks of young and educated Saudi men and women of all ages and in general amongst the grass-roots of the population. Hence, in this venture, he is scoring two birds with a single stone. In rounding up more popular support, he is confiscating and freezing badly-needed cash under the pretext of corruption.

The estimates of the number of incarcerated Saudi princes and businessmen are not any less subject to a game of guess work than the funds involved in this kerfuffle. Ignoring how many men have been put under detention, the tally of funds confiscated and frozen is estimated at a minimum of USD 150 bn to a maximum of USD 800 bn.

Given that the total official Saudi savings reserve is in the tune of “only” USD 700 bn after decades of high financial times, even the low estimate of USD 150 bn is a huge sum by proportion and by any proportion of course. It is little surprise that MBS is trying to replenish into the coffers of the state such sums, and if he manages to do it, it would be to his credit.

Whilst on the subject of official Saudi savings, after many decades of huge petroleum exports and at elevated prices, the Saudi savings reserve figure should be in the vicinity of a few trillion dollars. But a huge proportion of Saudi petro-dollars has been squandered on royal funds, holidays yachts, prostitutes, drugs, bribes, theft, corruption at all levels, and on this account and this account only, MBS can be acknowledged for bringing corrupt individuals to account.

But whether or not MBS is able to stamp out corruption and/or whether or not he is guilty of the same charge, as his cousins and some others argue, how much command does he have over the affairs of the kingdom, and over the royal family he staged a coup against?

Inside, unconfirmed reports allege that whether or not MBS has any command on traditional local troops that he can rely on, he is not taking any second chances.

To elaborate, the reader ought to be reminded that the Al-Saud legacy built its reign of power (and terror) on Wahhabism and money. Wahhabism was used as the doctrine, and money was the catalyst for buying loyalty and support.

With MBS’s purge on the royals, no traditional royal supporter with known wealth is left feeling safe. How can they feel safe if they hear reports of news of princes like Al-Walid bin Talal not only being in custody, but also getting tortured and his assets frozen and sieged by the state?

In my previous article, The Second Saudi Dynasty: MBS’s Reset Button, http://thesaker.is/the-second-saudi-dynasty-mbss-reset-button/ , I wondered how can MBS count on any local supporters. Apparently, he is not.

Recent inside information that was later on published in various media, reports that MBS has been using Blackwater to do his dirty work.

If those reports are true, MBS has hired Blackwater to arrest, with orders to kill whoever resists arrest, Saudi princes and high-ranking businessmen, and to answer to no one but him. In retrospect, the fatal shooting of Prince Abdul Aziz, son of former King Fahed, was highly unlikely to have been done by a Saudi as this would attract a death sentence in the event of the coup failing.

It has even been reported that Blackwater personnel are driving around in tinted Saudi Police and security agency personnel vehicles in a manner that is totally unbeknown and hidden from the Saudi public. This cannot be corroborated any more than they can realistically be dismissed.

If true, such reports indicate that MBS’s coup is not over. They indicate that he is not taking any chances, but most practically, they indicate that he trusts no one; no one expect Blackwater.

Most importantly and significantly however, such news, if confirmed, indicates that MBS does not have a true hold on power. If such is the case, and seeing the ambition he has, there is more reason to believe that MBS is going to have no choice but to go with his cousins all the way to the wire and until he has destroyed them all and confiscated all of their assets.

After all, he needs their money to achieve his dreams and get his kingdom out of its financial mess. He needs to blame his failure on them. He needs to eliminate any possible claim they can make for the throne.

Almost overnight, MBS has changed Saudi Arabia from a kingdom of sand upon which Al Saud reigned with a solid foothold and strong base, to a kingdom of quick-sand upon which princes and power brokers no longer have a leg to stand on. They either have to pledge total and unconditional loyalty to MBS or fear persecution. On the other hand, if they do pledge that loyalty, and MBS’s coup fails as a result of a counter-coup, then they will risk being seen as enemies of the winners of the counter-coup. It is a damned if you do and a damned if you don’t situation.

Not any less perplexing than the dilemma of the princes is the dilemma of the lower tiers of power in Saudi Arabia; especially senior military officers and their subordinates. With its tribal mentality, Saudi Arabia has had several tiers of armed forces, some of whom are loyal to particular princes rather than to the state itself. Prince Mutaib for example, the son of former King Abdullah, was until the 4th of November, the Minister of the National Guard. The hierarchy within the National Guard are loyal to him personally, and now the big boss is in jail. MBS therefore has a few options; either to coerce those military officers to become loyal to him under the risk of them stabbing him in the back, or, to throw everyone in jail and bring his own people in. But, where would he bring his own people in from and who are they to begin with? After all, and despite all the great power he gave himself, he is Mr Johnny-come–lately and he hasn’t had the advantage of time to slowly build his own army. His practical alternative was based on pragmatism and securing his own safety, and to that effect, he cannot find a more faithful and better trained army than Blackwater. And even though Blackwater does not come cheap, but clearly to MBS the objectives he seeks justify the costs.

Some may argue that Blackwater can also be bought by counter coup leaders and even foreign governments. Whilst this is possible, MBS remains to have no better alternative. However, one would imagine that for a company like Blackwater, to guarantee its business success and continuity, it would have a strict code of conduct that stipulates that it will refrain from entering contractual agreements that can generate conflict of interest between its clients. After all, and irrespective of its criminal and underhanded mercenary modus operandi, who would hire it knowing beforehand that it is in the habit of breaking contracts and replacing them with ones with the adversaries? Whilst it is arguable as to whether or not any client of Blackwater can actually take legal action against it and win is another story because, without any doubt, Blackwater, inhumane and criminal as it is, cannot afford to see its reputation ruined.

To sum it up therefore, whilst MBS’s coup is still in the making and its final outcome remaining unclear, what is evident is that MBS does not have enough local Saudi power base that he can rely on in the upper echelons of power. Whilst his grass root popularity among the general population is on the rise, traditional power brokers can neither be supportive of him, seen to be supportive or seen to be against him. Either way, and even though some of them could potentially become strong and faithful proponents of MBS, at the moment any pledges of allegiance are highly risky for all involved.

In his reliance on Blackwater however, MBS is achieving a more guaranteed short term objective. However, this policy can backfire very violently; because it is allowing certain key Saudi power brokers to sit on the fence for a little longer until they see who is the final winner in all of this for them to eventually back.

Qatar Crisis And The War in Libya

South Front

Qatar Crisis And The War in Libya

Conflict Origins

The war in Libya was caused not so much by any internal dissent but rather by the West’s need for continued economic expansion, which Western elites view as part and parcel of the post-Cold War “end of history”, a still-potent messianic ideology which gives the West the license to attack anyone, anywhere, to achieve its mercantilist objectives, and which gives contains the necessary humanitarian “fig leaf” for the benefit of the politically correct faction of Western societies.

Naturally, politically correct Westerners have been unbothered by the  “humanitarian interventions” invariably making the situation far worse, and Libya has not been an exception. Since the fall of the regime of Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya has not experienced any political, financial or even social stability, as the country is witnessing a state of constant fighting between all parties despite the absence of any religious or sectarian differences between the population, where Libya turned from one of the richest countries in the world to a failed state.

Two Libyas

The current war in Libya began in 2014, with most of the fighting being between the internationally-recognized Tobruk-based Libyan Interim Government centered on the House of Representatives that was elected democratically in 2014 , an Islamist National Salvation Government government founded by the General National Congress based in Tripoli city, and the UN-backed Government of National Accord also based in Tripoli.

The Libyan Interim Government has the allegiance of the Libyan National Army under the leadership of General “Khalifa Haftar”  and enjoys the support of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates directly, with indirect support from both the United States and Britain and Russia, with the latter country’s affinity to Haftar clearly demonstrated when the Libyan general boarded the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in January 2017, as the ship was returning home from its combat mission at the coast of Syria. It is a secular entity and has the sole legitimate power in Libya. Since 2014, Egypt has supplied many light and heavy weapons to the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, which included several MiG-21 fighters. The United Arab Emirates also provides financial support to Haftar and has a small airbase in eastern Libya, including AT-802 turboprop light attack aircraft and WingLoong UAVs which appear to be operated by Erik Prince’s Academi (formerly Blackwater) Private Military Company.

The emergence of the Libyan Interim Government was made possible by the withdrawal of House of Representatives support for the Government of National Accord, whose power has since greatly decreased.

Instead, the chief opponent of the LIG is the Islamic government of the General National Congress, also called the “Salvation Government”,  which is led by the Muslim Brotherhood with support from a coalition of Islamic groups known as “Dawn of Libya”. It is believed that one of the combat groups of the General National Congress was involved in the assassination of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens in 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood are also accused of providing political cover to ISIS during its expansion in Libya before 2014, which is a plausible accusation considering Qatar’s tangible support to both ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood.

It too enjoys international support by Qatar, Turkey, and Sudan, with the former two countries playing roles identical to they played in the Syrian conflict.  Qatar’s considerable contribution included  financial support to the General National Congress and smuggling arms using C-130 military cargo planes in cooperation with Sudan, while Turkey has smuggled arms to the  “Dawn of Libya”  using ships. Turkey also benefits from illegal oil trade with the militia, according to unconfirmed reports.

Since 2014, ISIS has had strong influence in much of Libya, especially in Darnah east of Banghazi, but this influence of the terrorist organization has shrunk over time. However, Libya is one of the bases of recruitment and money laundering for ISIS, where ISIS is believed to has received indirect support from Turkey, Qatar and the General National Congress. Moreover, ISIS views Libya as an operating base from which to stage expansion into countries of the Sahel and to aid ISIS cells operating in Tunisia and Egypt.

Completing the list of warring parties, Tuareg forces control southwestern Libya, including Amazigh and Ghat area, and are considered indirect allies of the General National Congress.

The Qatar-Turkey “Axis”

Given the balance of forces outlined above, the conflict in Libya would have come to a close years ago had it not been for the direct involvement of the Qatar-Turkey alliance, whose aggressive acts against Syria had likewise escalated that conflict. To be sure, the Qatar-Turkey alliance was one of convenience, with the two parties pursuing different objectives which simply happened to be not mutually exclusive.

For Turkey, the aim of the game at the time was neo-Ottomanism. Both Syria and Libya are, after all, parts of the former Ottoman Empire, with the former being wrested from its grasp by the French and the British at the end of World War I, and the former falling to Italy in Italo-Turkish War of 1911-1912. For Qatar, the objective was establishing oneself as a regional power player not only independent of Saudi Arabia but also equivalent to it, a task that would have been greatly facilitated by establishing Qatar-friendly regimes in Libya and Syria, extending Qatar’s control over the region’s hydrocarbons, and gaining access to new markets in Europe. That final point of the Turkey-Qatar strategy was welcome by European factions favoring continued eastward expansion because the Qatari gas pipeline could be used as a political weapon against Russia.

The Turning Point?

However, that coalition proved too weak to overcome the resistance of legitimate government forces in Libya and Syria, particularly after the direct Russian military involvement in Syria spelled the end of the “Assad must go” campaign, and it never managed to secure the support of the United States for either of its objectives. The US, for its part, attempted to sponsor its own jihadists in Syria or favored the Saudi-led efforts. Therefore it was only a matter of time before either Turkey or Qatar realized its strategy was doomed and sought to pursue a different course of action. Turkey proved the weaker link in that coalition thanks to, ironically, US enlistment of the Kurds as its proxy army in Syria. Faced with an impossible to dislodge Russian presence in Syria, Turkey opted to change its aims to become an “energy gateway” to Europe by joining forces with Russia in the form of the Turkish Stream pipeline.

Worse, while initially the West was generally in favor of any and all forms of “Arab Spring”, including the Turkish-Qatari efforts in both Syria and Libya, by 2016 it was becoming clear the downsides were outweighing the positives. The refugee crisis, in particular, that became a potent political issue threatening the unchallenged liberal status quo had forced a re-evaluation of the policy, lest the likes of Front National or AfD come to power in Europe. Even the US, which did not receive a flood of Middle East refugees, was affected.  On April 11, 2016, Obama was forced to admit that Libya was the “worst mistake” he had committed during his presidency as the mistake was that the United States did not plan for the post-Gaddafi era. He was not doing it because of any sorrow for the citizens of countries he despoiled, but rather because the resulting chaos was now negatively affecting Hillary Clinton’s chances to win.

But it was Donald Trump who delivered what surely will be a fatal blow to Qatar’s international ambitions, first by giving a green light to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to pounce on Qatar, and then directly accusing it of sponsoring terrorists. The ensuing blockade of Qatar meant that the country’s leaders would have little time or money to continue financing militants in Libya or Syria. Indeed, shortly after the Qatar blockade was imposed, the Russian military stated the war in Syria, other than the fighting against ISIS, had practically ground to a standstill.

Considering that Turkey and Qatar have been the main obstacles to ending the war in Libya, Turkey’s defection followed by the US-authorized Saudi political and economic assault on Qatar have implications not only for Syria but also for Libya. Indeed, there are already many signs the political situation in Libya is evolving. Arguably the biggest development in recent months was the release of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi’s son, by a Tobruk-based militia upon a request from the House of Representatives. With Saif al-Islam Gaddafi being wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged atrocities committed by the Libyan government during the 2011 war, the fact of his release indicates the political fortunes are now favoring the House of Representatives and Marshal Haftar, a shift also suggested by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s statements in support of Haftar playing  an important role in Libyan politics and the new French President Macron’s admission the war in Libya was a major mistake.

But here the Western officials seem to be following the trends rather than making them, as the root cause of the shift appears to be the sudden weakening of Qatar’s positions in the region. Egypt is a clear beneficiary of that weakening and is intent on pressing its advantage, to the point of pro-Sisi Egyptian media actually advocating bombing of Qatar. The Qatari disarray is also made apparent by LNA’s recent announcement that the Qatari opposition has provided the LNA with a list of Libyan citizens who worked for Qatar’s intelligence services.

Honorable Peace or Humiliating Defeat?

Qatar’s situation is not an enviable one. For the time being Turkey’s military support and the US unwillingness to allow Saudi Arabia to utterly devastate Qatar are enough to allow it to maintain a brave face. But in the longer term it needs to find an accommodation with at least one of the key power players in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, US, or…Russia. The fact of growing Turkey-Russia cooperation on a variety of issues and Qatar’s outreach to Russia in the form of a foreign minister visit and the simplification of visa rules for Russian citizens, suggests that Qatar is at least contemplating realigning its alliance membership. However, considering that all of the three above-named powers are on the opposite side of the barricades as far as Libya is concerned, it seems unlikely Qatar can maintain its proxy war there even with Turkey’s support. Therefore, almost no matter what Qatar decides to do next, it will have no choice but to write off Libya as a total loss, an act that will hasten the end of this tragic six-year war.

U.S. Wants Control Over Anbar And Beyond – Iraq and Syria Will Prevent It

By Moon Of Alabama

“May 31, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The U.S. is casting its net over the desert between Iraq and Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to install military bases and power-structures that will guarantee major influence in the area for the foreseeable future. A part of that plan is to develop Sunni proxy forces that will keep the government forces of Damascus and Baghdad out of the area. Another part is to privatize important infrastructure to keep it under direct U.S. control.

To privatize the Iraqi Highway 1 between Baghdad and the Jordanian capital Amman, is a major point in these plans. According to the NYT:

As part of an American effort to promote economic development in Iraq and secure influence in the country after the fight against the Islamic State subsides, the American government has helped broker a deal between Iraq and Olive Group, a private security company, to establish and secure the country’s first toll highway.

The map shows Highway 1 from Baghdad to Amman. Notice the road junction east of the Jordan-Iraq border. There the road splits with one branch going north-west towards Damascus. The point where that road crosses from Iraq to Syria is the al-Tanf border station currently occupied by U.S. forces and their British and Norwegian auxiliaries as well some Syrian “rebels” under U.S. control. The U.S. recently bombed a convoy of Syrian and allied Iraqi forces which was moving towards that area.  The U.S. military dropped leaflets to Syrian troops to order them to stay away from their own border. Who the f*** do those U.S. troops think they are? What is there justification to be there in the first place? Large Iraq and Syrian government forces are now moving towards al-Tanf from the two sides of the border to evict the occupiers. Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia have agreed that no U.S. position will be tolerated there. U.S. and other foreign troops will either move out voluntary from al-Tanf or they will be removed by force.

Highway 1 and its branch to Damascus is the most important economic lifeline between Syria and Jordan in the west and Iraq and beyond in the east. Whoever controls it, controls major parts of commerce between those countries. Iraq is a country with rich resources. While it is under economic strains after decades of U.S. sanctions and war against it by the U.S. and Takfiri proxy forces it has no long-term need to rent out such major real estate.

Nevertheless the current Iraqi government under Prime Minister al-Abadi signed a preliminary agreement for a 25 year contract with the U.S. company:

Mr. Abadi has awarded the development project to Olive Group, although the final details are still being worked out. The project would include repairing bridges in western Anbar Province; refurbishing the road, known as Highway 1; and building service stations, rest areas and roadside cafes. It would also include mobile security by private contractors for convoys traveling the highway.

Al Abeidi is now under pressure from the Shia majority who elected him into office to renounce the deal. It is obviously that the deal is not in their interest nor that of the country. According to U.S. diplomats one purpose of the deal is:

pushing back on the influence of Shiite Iran, whose growing power in Iraq has alarmed important Sunni allies of the United States like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Iran has little to do with the road. It is the Shia majority of Iraq that would benefit most from free flowing traffic and commerce on it.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have enabled the Sunni insurgency in Iraq of which ISIS is just the latest incarnation. To allow the U.S. to control the road and thereby Anbar province in the name of Turkey and Saudi Arabia would guarantee that future Sunni insurgencies could threaten Baghdad whenever “needed”. Just remember how Obama said he used ISIS to throw then Prime Minster Maliki out of office:

The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

A U.S. controlled west-Iraq and south-eastern Syria would be a highway for Saudi Arabian miscreants from their country up towards Baghdad and Damascus. It would be an incarnation of the “Salafist principality” the U.S. and other early ISIS supporters have wished for since at least 2012.

The U.S. is willing to obfuscate and to lie to further its imperial plans. The NYT is, as usual, complicit in that:

Playing on painful memories and fears of Iraqis, news outlets have also run false reports that Blackwater — the private security firm that acted with impunity in the early days of the American occupation and gunned down innocent Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007 — had taken on the project.

“The politics of this country are challenging,” said Christian Ronnow, executive vice president of Constellis, the parent company of Olive Group, a private security firm that has worked for years in Iraq.

What the NYT claims are “false reports” are in fact reasonable conclusions:

The [Constellis] Group combines the specialized skills and operational excellence of ACADEMI, Edinburgh International, Strategic Social and Triple Canopy,

ACADEMI

is an American private military company founded in 1997 by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince as Blackwater, renamed as XE Services in 2009 and now known as Academi since 2011 after the company was acquired by a group of private investors.

Olive Group is Constellis Group is Academi is Blackwater – the “false reports” in Iraqi media are way more truthful on that than the NYT is.

The U.S. project in Anbar province and its potential control of Highway 1 through private U.S. forces threatens to put an economic stranglehold on Iraq, Syria and Jordan. I trust that nationalist forces in those countries as well as their allies will do their best to prevent it.

This article was first published by Moon Of Alabama

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Click for Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish, French, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

Blackwater Training Syria Terrorists

Local Editor

They wear the latest and most advanced body armor and helmets, camouflage gear and anti-ballistic sunglasses: the fashion statement favored by frontline private security companies across the world’s combat zones. Blackwater fighters are in Syria training terrorists who have found a new way of cashing in on the self-styled “caliphate”.

Blackwater Training Syria Terrorists

Blackwater became the most high-profile of Western ‘security’ contractors in Iraq, gaining notoriety as the most violent and aggressive of the corporate military firms that spotted a highly lucrative trade following the “liberation” of the country in 2003. Such firms were largely immune from scrutiny or prosecution: that changed after a particularly bloody day in Baghdad.

The small group, of about a dozen drawn mainly from Central Asia, has been an enthusiastic user of social media. At the end of 2016, it placed advertisements in Facebook looking for instructors who were prepared to “constantly engage, develop and learn”. The company’s YouTube pages provide free guides ranging from weapons maintenance and laying ambushes to battlefield first aid.

The leader and founder of the term Malhama, a private military contractor that means business and a firm which is “fun and friendly” according to its online brochures – is an Uzbek using the nom de guerre Abu Rofiq who claims to have served in the VDV, a Russian military airborne unit.

Although it was a commercial concern, Rofiq has stressed the religious aspect of its work meant helping “oppressed Sunni Muslims” militarily, beyond Syria.

Chechen and other Caucasian groups have been active in other fronts, carrying out attacks in Russia and states allied to the Kremlin in the region.

Blackwater’s training and arming of the militants had begun as a slow and often chaotic process in Syria.

As the uprising descended into a vicious bloodbath, the flow of arms into Syria went up massively in quantity and quality. Some “moderate” opposition fighters trained and armed by the Americans in Jordan and Turkey surrendered with their weapons to extremist groups on crossing the border.

Abu Rofiq is said to have seen the training opportunities for terrorists after first going to Syria in 2013. He began to bring in experienced fighters from the Caucasus before starting Malhama with a dozen others in the beginning of 2016. The company has been working with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the new name taken by al-Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, as well as Ahrar al-Sham, a terrorist group which had been backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

There has been a strong presence of extremists from the Caucasus in Syria for a while. They have built up a reputation as the fiercest and most dedicated of the foreign fighters. One of the most effective military chiefs of Daesh was Abu Omar al-Shishani – of Chechen and Georgian background. He was killed in July last year in a US airstrike in the town of Al-Shirkat in Iraq – a significant loss, the terrorists acknowledged, to their leadership.

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

14-03-2017 | 09:48

 

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4 Dead Russian Ambassadors in 3 Months ~ Foul play?

A farewell to Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Mr Churkin, for well over a decade, featuring Spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova. Following the Assassination of Andrei Karlov in Turkey earlier this year, was the death of Andrey Melanin in Athens of ‘natural causes’. Ambassador Alexander Kadakin to India had died of an apparent heart attack, even though no previous health issues were known. Together with Vitaly Churkin, this now brings the death total of Russian officials serving in foreign capacity to 4, all within a 3 month period. Coincidence? Or does the CIA have a long arm?

This episode features Mr Churkin dispelling allegations of Russia having dropped leaflets over Aleppo, urging civilians to leave the city or face death. Of course, it is only the senile or those with short memories, who would think that “evidence” presented in the UN Security Council, is anything more than fabricated Neocon garbage. See linked video at the end, with Colin Powell’s “weapons of mass destruction” a.k.a simple washing powder. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, based on this kind of “evidence” would take over half a million Iraqi lives…. To shame. US military deaths cannot be calculated due to contractors such as Blackwater not being included in official statistics. Military industrial company fat cat CEOs only rub their hands in glee.

(Translation thanks to Inessa Sinchougova)

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