Saudi Arabia to Grant the Zionist Enemy Ultimate Freedom of Navigation

July 1, 2022

By Staff

The United States, “Israel”, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are reportedly close to clinching a deal over two strategic islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir. That’s according to Barak Ravid, a political affairs commentator for “Israel’s” Walla! website.

Ravid quotes three senior “Israeli” officials who claim that the parties are inching towards finalizing a set of agreements, understandings, and guarantees ahead of an upcoming visit to the region by US President Joe Biden.

Ravid argues that the deal “will constitute an important achievement for the Biden administration in the Middle East.” He also thinks that it may pave the way for a gradual process of normalization between Saudi Arabia and “Israel.”

Ravid points out the obvious: “Israel” and the Saudis don’t have official diplomatic relations, and therefore, cannot directly sign a formal agreement regarding the two islands.

As such, the participating sides are trying to come up with creative legal and diplomatic solutions to close the agreement through indirect contacts. Ravid adds that in recent months, the Biden administration mediated quiet negotiations between Saudi Arabia, “Israel” and Egypt over a deal that would complete the transfer of the two islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

According to Ravid, the question was raised at the heart of the negotiations about how to respond to Saudi Arabia’s request to remove international observers from the two islands while at the same time maintaining the security arrangements and political guarantees requested by “Israel.”

For their part, the “Israelis” wants to ensure that Egyptian guarantees in the context of the so-called “peace” agreement bind the Saudis as well, especially with regard to an agreement allowing “Israeli” ships to freely sail through the Strait of Tiran to and from the port of Eilat.

Two senior “Israeli” officials told Walla! that Saudi Arabia agreed to take upon itself all Egyptian guarantees, including the obligation to preserve freedom of navigation.

“Israeli” officials said that the outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the new Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and War Minister Benny Gantz were briefed in recent days about the details of the plan to complete the agreement and agreed on its principles.

According to the plan, Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement with Egypt regarding the two islands, and in return, it will send a memorandum to the United States detailing its commitment to freedom of navigation and security arrangements.

The Biden administration will then transfer to “Israel” a memorandum detailing the Saudi commitment to freedom of navigation and will provide American guarantees to monitor the level of compliance.

An “Israeli” official said that Gantz and relevant parties within the security establishment believe that the plan preserves “Israel’s” security interests in the Red Sea and support the move.

“Parallel to finalizing the agreement on the two islands, it is expected that Saudi Arabia will announce that it will allow planes belonging to “Israeli” shipping companies to use Saudi airspace on their way to the east, especially to India and China,” the source adds.

But Ravid clarifies that while the negotiating parties are close to inking a deal, the plan has not been finalized and the agreement and guarantees are still being worked out.

Biden Says His Visit Is Meant to Integrate The ‘Israeli’ Entity In the Region

July 1 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The goal behind US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to the Middle East is to further integrate the Zionist occupation regime into the region.

“I am, as I said, going to ‘Israel’ to meet with ‘Israeli’ leaders to affirm the unbreakable bond ‘Israel’ and the United States have,” Biden said when asked about the trip during a news conference in Madrid.

“And part of the purpose is — the trip to the Middle East — is to deepen ‘Israel’s’ integration in the region, which I think we’re going to be able to do and which is good — good for ‘Israeli’ security,” he added.

That goal of integration is “why ‘Israel’ leaders have come out so strongly for my going to Saudi,” Biden stated.

The Zionist occupation leaders encouraged Biden to visit Saudi Arabia, despite the president’s past call for it to be a “pariah” because of the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden is set to visit the ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian territories on July 13-14, and continue from there to Jeddah for a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council the following day.

‘Israel’ and the Gulf States “have real concerns about what’s going on in Iran and other places in terms of their security,” he went on to claim.

Biden pushed back against an assertion that the trip was about asking Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, in light of the rising price of gas in the US.

He said that he does not have a planned meeting specifically with the Saudi king or crown prince, but that they will be part of the larger GCC meeting. Biden said he plans to ask all Gulf States to increase oil production, not just the Saudis.

The Little Prince and the Saudi Blower

Sabahi: ‘Israel’ is hated in Egypt, resistance noblest thing in nation

June 28, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current tells Al Mayadeen that “Every nation that does not resist is a nation that is in danger of defeat.

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabahi

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabahi, affirmed Monday that every Arab is eager to restore Egypt to its role in the Arab nation and in defending the resistance.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, Sabahi considered that the opposition in Egypt has been exhausted for years as a result of the restrictions imposed on it.

Sabahi acknowledged that a number of political prisoners were released in Egypt, but with a smaller number than what was expected.

The Egyptian politician called for the release of every political prisoner who was not a partner or instigator of violence, considering that if the Muslim Brotherhood movement wants to participate in a dialogue, they must initiate and request that, which means that they recognize the existing authority.

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current pointed out that one of the things that threaten Egyptian national security is terrorism, in addition to depriving Egypt of its rights to the waters of the Nile.

Sabahi stressed that “Israel” is hated in Egypt as it was before the Camp David accords, affirming that every nation that does not resist is a nation that is subject to defeat, and resistance is the noblest thing in the Arab nation.

He added that when the Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah takes up arms against the Israeli occupation, he raises the banner of late Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.

He also pointed out that when the popular demands in Syria turned into confrontations that endanger the unity of Syria, the decision was to stand with the unity of this country.

Sabahi indicated that if Saudi Arabia had spent money on Arab development projects rather than spending it on weapons, the life of the Arabs would have been better.

Raisi: Normalization of Relations Will Not Bring Security to Zionist Regime

June 28, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi says normalization of relations with a number of regional Arab countries will not bring security to the Zionist regime of the “Israeli” entity.

Raisi made the remarks in a joint presser with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran on Sunday.

“During this meeting, we discussed trade and political and economic relations [between the two countries], and decided to boost economic ties. We discussed the rail connection between Shalamcheh [in Iran] and [Iraq’s] Basra [port], which can play a great role in facilitating trade between the two countries. We also discussed facilitation of monetary and banking relations between Iran and Iraq,” he said.

Reflecting on the efforts made by the Zionist regime’s official during past years to normalize relations with some Arab states in the region, Iran’s chief executive said, “The efforts made by the Zionist regime to normalize relations with regional countries will by no means bring security to this regime.

“We and Iraq believe that peace and tranquility in the region depends on all regional officials doing their parts, and normalization [of relations] with the [Zionist] regime and the presence of foreigners in the region will solve none of the regional people’s problems,” Raisi said.

Highlighting the importance of relations between Iran and Iraq and the role played by the two countries in regional developments, Raisi said, “We stood by people of Iraq when the country was going through dire straits and will continue to stick together. This friendship and relations will never go cold and will further develop on a daily basis. There is no doubt that the visit by Mr. Kadhimi and his accompanying delegation can be a turning point in development of relations between the two countries.

He said that during his meeting with Kadhimi they discussed the existing relations among regional countries, adding, “We believe that dialog among regional countries can solve regional problems, [but] the presence of foreigners in the region only creates more problems and does not help solve those problems.”

Back in 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed United States-brokered agreements with the entity to normalize their ties with the regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

Spearheaded by the UAE, the move has sparked widespread condemnations from the Palestinians as well as nations and human rights advocates across the globe, especially within the Muslim world.

Other regional countries have also been fraternizing with the entity, including Saudi Arabia, which received a visit by the regime’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2020.

Earlier this month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said the Arab governments that chose to normalize relations with the “Israeli” entity against the will of their people will end up being exploited by the occupying regime.

Elsewhere in the presser, the Iranian president said the two sides have underlined the need for establishing a durable ceasefire in Yemen, lifting the economic blockade, and facilitating intra-Yemeni talks as the solutions to the existing problem in the impoverished country.

“Undoubtedly, we consider the continuation of this [Saudi-led] war fruitless and believe that this war has no outcome but the suffering of the people,” Raisi said, emphasizing that ceasefire can be a “step towards resolving issues in Yemen.”

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Kadhimi, for his part, said that during his talks with Iranian officials, the two sides discussed bilateral historical, cultural, and religious relations.

The Iraqi premier added that Baghdad attaches great importance to its relations with Tehran on the basis of common interests.

He noted that Iran and Iraq agreed to make further efforts to serve their nations’ interests and boost trade ties.

Kadhimi said Iran and Iraq also agreed to set a timetable to facilitate the huge annual Arbaeen procession.

He added that while Iranian pilgrims have already been able to receive visas at Iraqi airports, it is now possible for a specific number of Arbaeen pilgrims to obtain visas through border crossings.

The Iraqi prime minister said, “We also discussed major regional challenges and agreed to make a joint effort to help establish stability and calm in the region. We also talked about fateful issues facing the regional nations. We decided to support the Yemen ceasefire and agreed to support dialogue in Yemen in order to put an end to a war that has brought a lot of suffering to Yemeni people.”

Inside MBS’ Torture Cells: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault, Sheer Brutality and Murder

June 26, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A study, carried out by Grant Liberty, a human rights charity Prisoners revealed that prisoners held for opposing the government in Saudi Arabia are being murdered, “sexually” assaulted and inflicted with “sheer” brutality.

The study identified 311 known prisoners of conscience in the era of Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud [MBS]–the kingdom’s leader who is the current crown prince, deputy prime minister, and minister of defense.

Researchers, who shared the report exclusively with The Independent, claimed that 53 prisoners have been tortured, while six were sexually assaulted, and 14 were pushed into undergoing hunger strikes.

The report looked at the plight of 23 women’s rights activists, 11 of whom were still behind bars, as well as also identifying 54 journalists.

Some 22 of the prisoners were arrested for crimes that they carried out when they were still children – five of them were put to death. An additional 13 were facing the death penalty, while four had died in custody.

Lucy Rae, of Grant Liberty, told The Independent: “Sadly the abuse of the prisoners of conscience continues as the world watches on, women are subjected to sustained and brutal violations with no basic human rights.

“We call upon the kingdom to back up its statement of being a ‘modern and progressive country’ with actions and release innocent individuals who were disappeared, were arrested and subjected to sham trials.

“Imprisoning, torturing and abusing an elderly mother such as Aida Al Ghamdi because her son has sought asylum surely is abhorrent and wrong in any nation.”

Abdullah al-Ghamdi, a political and human rights activist who is the son of Al-Ghamdi, said he escaped Saudi Arabia after being threatened for campaigning against authoritarian policies in the middle eastern country.

His mother, Aida, and two of his brothers were arrested after he left, he added.

“They were arrested not because they had committed a crime, but because of my activism,” Al-Ghamdi, whose situation is explored in the report, said.

Al-Ghamdi, who lives in the UK, added: “For over three years, my dear ageing 65-year-old mother and my younger brother have been held by the Saudi royal family. They have been held in solitary confinement and subjected to physical torture by cigarette burning, beating and lashing.

“It’s very hard to contact my family as this will put them in danger as the Saudi government told them not to contact me and give me any updates on my mother and brother’s case, so as of yet I am unsure of my mother’s charges.”

He said his mother was held for over a year in Dhahban Central Prison in Jeddha before being moved to Dammam Mabahith Prison. He wishes she was “safe, free and be able to rejoice with her loved ones”.

“There is not a time where she is not on my mind and it pains me that all my hard work hasn’t led to a definite answer for her freedom,” he added.

Al-Ghamdi said he had been “fighting to bring justice and freedom to the Saudi nation” since 2004 and secure a “democracy where there is an independent justice system”.

He said his mother had been tortured in front of her son Adil, who was also beaten and tortured.

“Due to her old age she has diabetes, high blood pressure and she suffers from regular abdomen pains; due to the unjust treatment and torture within prison her mental health has worsened,” he said of his mother.

“MBS and the Saudi royal family are holding her hostage demanding that I return to Saudi Arabia to face torture and imminent death so that people like me who stand for justice, equality and a fair society are silenced like those before me.”

He urged the “world, the UN and every single person with a voice” to speak out against “this outrageous behavior”.

Rae also cited the case of Loujain Al Hathloul, who was subjected to a travel ban and jailed for campaigning for women’s rights.

Human rights organizations say Al Hathloul has been forced to endure abuse including electric shocks, flogging and sexual harassment while in jail. Loujain, who successfully campaigned to win Saudi women the right to drive, was arrested alongside 10 other women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia in May 2018 – weeks before the country reversed the driving ban.

Rae warned it was imperative to “make people aware of the sheer brutality, murders and sexual assault happening to prisoners of conscience” in the country, adding it is “our duty as a human race” to protect the innocent.

“And we can start by demanding the release of these prisoners. Grant Liberty will not stop until every prisoner of conscience is freed and that Saudi Arabia is recognized for what it really is – a pariah to democracy and human rights,” she said.

Ansarullah Leader: Saudis Did All They Could to Occupy Yemeni Capital before Realizing It Is Out of Question

 June 23, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah resistance movement Sayyed Abdul Malik Badreddine al-Houthi said nothing takes priority over resisting the Saudi-led aggression against his country, stressing that Riyadh and its allies had been mulling over the bombardment of the capital Sanaa.

In a speech broadcast live from the Yemeni capital on Wednesday evening, Sayyed al-Houthi said the capital city was “much stronger than before.”

“The Saudi-led coalition of aggression sought to subject the Yemeni capital to heavy aerial bombardment and perpetrated the most heinous crimes to wrest control over it. The alliance made use of internationally banned weapons, and tried to occupy it through launching large-scale offensives,” he said.

“Enemies had devised vicious military attacks aimed at Sanaa occupation and had earmarked billions of dollars to achieve their ambitious plans. They did everything they could to occupy Sanaa, but eventually came to realize it is out of the question.”

The Ansarullah leader further said that enemies sought to illegally seize power in Sanaa last December, but their seditious plot was thwarted.

Sayyed al-Houthi said enemies had also planned to stoke chaos and internal strife in Yemen through economic pressure and impoverishment, but the level of public awareness and steadfastness, especially in Sanaa, shocked them.

“Enemies even tried to undermine the Yemeni nation’s ethics and spiritual values through the promotion of organized crimes,” the Ansarullah leader said, emphasizing that Yemenis have exercised great patience in the face of hardships imposed by the Riyadh regime and its allies.

He affirmed that the Yemeni nation will “never give in to pressures” and will “never be enslaved by enemies,” as their resistance is rooted in faith.

“Enemies try to use social media platforms to undermine the Yemeni nation’s morale and ethics. Enemies promote various crimes in their occupied Yemeni territories,” he declared.

The Ansarullah leader said the West and its Arab allies have failed to subdue the Yemeni people through years of blockade and sanctions.

Sayyed al-Houthi also stressed the need for unity and alertness to counter acts of hostility from the enemies.

The Saudi Captagon problem is not a Lebanese one

While Lebanon is indeed one source of the Captagon drug trade to Saudi Arabia, Riyadh entirely ignores the basic economics that have made it a hub for this nasty narcotic.

June 22 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle
Radwan Murtada is a Beirut-based journalist who has written for Al Akhbar since 2007 and has contributed to many foreign media outlets on political, criminal, social and judiciary affairs in Lebanon and the wider region. Radwan is a specialist on Islamic jihadist groups, and honed his connections and craft during the Syrian conflict, interviewing both Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders for various outlets. He is the founder of Blue House Film, a Beirut production company specializing in documentaries, and is the author of the book “How the Syrian Revolution Grew its Beard.” In 2020, he founded “The Hub” with a group of regional journalists and producers that provides news and media services to foreign journalists covering West Asia.

By Radwan Mortada

Captagon is an amphetamine-type stimulant widely consumed across parts of West Asia its production, trafficking and usage have grown exponentially over the past decade with the illicit industry said to be worth $5 billion per year.

Dubbed “the poor man’s cocaine,” these narcotics are particularly prevalent among combatants fighting in the region’s conflict zones, purportedly to keep fighters alert and enhance their aggressiveness.

The Levant-Gulf drug trade

The highly addictive drug, however, is mostly consumed in Arab states of the Persian Gulf, with Saudi Arabia reportedly the number one destination where it is sought after by young party-goers.

Syria has emerged as a leading source for cheaply-manufactured Captagon while neighbouring Lebanon has also become a key transit hub for the pills, leading some to describe the two countries as “narco-states,” driven by both conflict and corruption.

Indeed, some Lebanese and Syrian villages have become the headquarters of clandestine factories, forming a corridor through which tens of millions of pills are smuggled to the lucrative Gulf market.

It is worth pointing out that the two Levant neighbors are not new to the illicit drug trade – in 1997 the US removed both countries from its list of Narcotics List, owing to their perceived successful eradication of poppy and cannabis cultivation in the then-Syrian controlled Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon.

To this day, Lebanon is the fourth-biggest producer of hashish after Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Amid the burgeoning economic crisis in 2020, it became the first Arab country to legalize cannabis farming for medical and industrial purposes.

Captagon and the conflict in Syria

The Captagon phenomenon in the Levant, however, can arguably be traced to the Syrian battlefield, as foreign fighters began pouring into the country in 2012.

In one notable incident that year, machines used to manufacture Captagon pills were seized in a religious seminary in the Bekaa, belonging to the brother of Hussein Al-Moussawi, an MP and member of the Hezbollah-led Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc. Moussawi’s relationship to the culprit prompted Hezbollah’s opponents to link the movement to the Captagon trade.

As the political and humanitarian situation in Syria deteriorated, Captagon smuggling networks soon developed in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Its trade flourished, and Lebanon eventually became a primary source of the product, with the Gulf market proving to be its main consumer market.

The Saudi ‘Prince of Captagon’

Saudi Prince Caught With 2 Tons Of ISIS’s Favourite Drugs In Lebanon

The voluminous Captagon trade linking Saudi Arabia to Lebanon gained wider attention in October 2015 when a Saudi prince was caught red-handed with two tons of Captagon pills and some cocaine in a private jet at Beirut International Airport.

Prince Abdel Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdulaziz, dubbed by the media as the ‘Prince of Captagon,’ was arrested, along with four companions, standing accused of drug trafficking, promotion, and smuggling.

It was by no means an isolated case: according to a source cited by Saudi Leaks last year, princes from the royal family are involved in communicating with drug networks in Lebanon.

Blaming Hezbollah

In conjunction with the millions of Captagon pills that were being smuggled into the high-demand Saudi market, a media campaign raged on multiple fronts. Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV channel broke the story of the Saudi prince’s arrest on drug smuggling charges, so Riyadh employed its region-wide media networks to finger Lebanon, and particularly Hezbollah, for drugs flooding the Gulf.

In the information warfare that followed, Saudi-owned TV channel Al-Arabiya broadcast several news reports focusing on Hezbollah’s role in manufacturing Captagon pills.

In line with US and Israeli accusations that Hezbollah is involved in drug trafficking and organized crime to finance its “terrorist activities,” Saudi Arabia insists on highlighting a Hezbollah role every time a drug smuggling operation is discovered in its territory, and uses this to tighten the economic siege on Lebanon.

While the Saudis may be embarrassed over the Captagon scandals linked to their country, royals and nationals, their intensive media efforts to divert blame to Lebanon has become part of Riyadh’s economic war against Beirut, which has extended to an all-imports ban of Lebanese goods.

Supply and demand

As with any other trade, the Captagon market is based on supply and demand, which is a reciprocal relationship: an increase in supply in the country of origin is based on an increase in demand in the importing country.

However, it is a one-sided dynamic, because while the operations in, for example, Lebanon are thwarted and those involved are arrested, this is rarely the case on the other side due to the royal connection.

On 29 May, Lebanese security arrested a Saudi citizen at Beirut airport with 18 kilograms of Captagon pills, the man was attempting to smuggle them to Kuwait.

Al-Manar TV

Identified as Adel Al-Shammari, he was carrying a Kuwaiti security card when he was arrested, but initial news broadcasts mistakenly identified him as a Saudi security employee.

In a statement, Lebanon’s Minister of Interior Bassam al-Mawlawi hastened to deny the news that the Saudi detainee had a Saudi police card.

Further investigations led to the arrest of two Iraqis and a Jordanian woman. A security source revealed to The Cradle that an officer in the Kuwaiti army and a Sudanese and Lebanese national were linked to the smuggling operation.

It was also revealed that, based on the fact that his Saudi nationality grants him immunity and quick passage through the security services, Al-Shammari’s bags were not professionally packed, and the Captagon pills were casually placed in bags between the clothes.

Worth the risk?

The estimated cost of producing one Captagon pill, along with the cost of smuggling it, is about 85 cents, and it is sold in the Saudi market for between 10 and 20 dollars. Thus, a wide margin of profit explains the insistence of smugglers on delivering these pills to where the demand for them is the highest.

Even if five smuggled shipments are thwarted by authorities, it is enough for a merchant to succeed in delivering one Captagon shipment to reap millions of dollars in profit.

The consideration here is purely financial, unlike the politically-motivated narrative the Saudis and their allies promote to settle political scores against Lebanon and Hezbollah.

These charges are in line with Israeli and western accusations that the party is involved in drug smuggling and other forms of organized crime, used to fund “terrorist activities.”

The region’s drug capital

report published last year by Foreign Policy magazine noted that Saudi Arabia is West Asia’s “drug capital,” highlighting that the seizures of Captagon have become a regular occurrence in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The increasing number of drug smuggling busts in Saudi Arabia in recent years suggests that there are Saudi and Gulf suppliers on the other side who receive the goods and handle their distribution.

It is interesting to note, however, that the Saudi government – which likes to blame Lebanon for every smuggling operation – has never revealed the identities of any of the major local traders, with the exception of those from the Indian, Filipino and other expat communities.

Instead, Riyadh prefers to exploit the matter and shift the blame entirely to Lebanon’s Hezbollah as part of its global propaganda campaign against the resistance movement. With these kinds of blinkers on, Captagon use in Saudi Arabia will just keep expanding.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

حراس الهيكل يقاتلون القهقرى وبحرنا يرسم قوس النصر…


الخميس 16 حزيران 2022

 محمد صادق الحسيني

«لن نقاتل عنكم بعد اليوم ولدينا الكثير ما نفعله لإعادة تأهيل خزائن مجمع الصناعات الحربية وبيوت المال النفطية والغازية لشركاتنا.»

هذا ما سيقوله بايدن الشهر المقبل حين يزور الكيانين المتهالكين «الإسرائيلي» والسعودي.

لن تكون المنظومة التي سيطلق ورشتها اليانكي الأميركي هجوميّة أبداً، بل دفاعية بكلّ معنى الكلمة.

هي محاولة سدّ المنافذ والمسارب التي بدأت تتسلل الى البيت «الإسرائيلي» الغارق في التيه، والبيت السعودي الأعمى!

وكيسنجر في حديثه الصحافي الأخير لم يتحدث عن الحرب أبداً مثلما فسّر البعض، بل إنّ ما قصده من عبارة تحوّلات كبرى تنتظر منطقتنا ليست سوى خرائط النفط والغاز الجديدة التي ستكون نحن من يحدّد شكلها وهي التي سترسم حدود البلدان من الآن فصاعداً وليست الجيوش التقليدية.

إنها معركة إرادات ومقاومات ومعارك من نوع جديد يمكن وصفها بالضربات بين المعارك والحروب وليست حروب جيوش جرارة تفرز حرباً عالمية، كما يهوّل البعض!

وما قرأه كيسنجر كان بعين الخبير المخضرم للنظام العالمي الجديد الذي سيقلب النظام العالمي الحالي على عقبيه من قلب تضاريس بلاد العرب بعد كلّ الهزائم التي تلقاها خلال عقد من الزمان في الكرّ والفرّ عندنا ويتوّج اليوم بالهزيمة الكبرى المرتقبة له في أوكرانيا.

نعم من بحر عكا وبحر صور لبحر بانياس وبحر اللاذقية سيتمّ تظهير الفشل الأميركي وسيتبيّن للعالم أنّ ساكن البيت الأبيض لم يعد شرطيّ العالم، بعد أن تهشمت صورته في أكثر من معركة على بوابات عواصم محورنا المقاوم وسواحل مدننا وبلداتنا من بوابات الشام الى أسوار بغداد وتخوم صنعاء، ومن هرمز الى باب المندب ومن البصرة الى الناقورة…

لا يخطئنّ أحد التقدير بأنّ المعركة الحالية سواء تلك التي ستدار في المضائق والأحواض النفطية والغازية عندنا او تلك التي تدار حالياً في أعالي البحار عند أصدقائنا الروس والصينيين أنها معركة هجومية أميركية…

أبداً ليست كذلك، إنها معركتهم الدفاعية الأخيرة وهم يتجهون بتسارع شديد نحو قعر جهنّم كما يصفهم الصينيون في ردهات مطابخ قرارهم.

 انها المعركة التي نحن من يمسك بتلابيبها ونحن الذين فيها في حالة هجوم استراتيجي حتى وانْ كنا نعيش أعلى درجات الضغوط وشظف الحصارات الاقتصادية!

صدقوني انهم يقاتلون القهقرى رغم كلّ استعراضات القوة والضربات الإيذائية هنا وهناك…

 انهم يقاتلون بشراسة تكتيكية لتقليل أثمان الانسحاب الاستراتيجي، وتقسيط تكاليف خسائر حروبهم الإقليمية الفاشلة وآخرها تلك التي خاضوها عند بوابات الشام والعالميّة ضدّ أصدقائنا وآخرها تلك التي يخوضونها حالياً في أوكرانيا.

لو كانوا في حالة موازين قوى تصبّ لصالحهم لم يتردّدوا لحظة واحدة لإرسال جيوشهم الجرارة الى بلادنا وقاموا بقصف وتدمير واحتلال مدننا وبلداتنا وجعلوا الموازين عاليها سافلها، لكنهم عاجزون ولا يملكون إلا التسليم بموازين القوى التي باتت لغير صالحهم بكلّ الحسابات.

إنها حسابات إقطاعيّات أوروبا وأميركا التي ترسم ذلك بدقة متناهية للحكومات الحارسة للهيكل العام للشركات المتعددة الجنسية وهي التي توجّههم بهذا الاتجاه او ذاك.

وليست الحكومات في واشنطن وباريس ولندن وغيرها من عواصم المتروبول الا أدوات تنفيذية عند آلهة السلاح والنفط والغاز والمال الحرام!

 للأسف طبعاً فإنّ الأغلب الأعمّ من الناس في العالم، انما يظنّ أنّ أميركا، وبالتالي ألمانيا واليابان، وبقية الدول الأوروبية، هي دول كبيرة راسخة، ولديها مؤسساتها الدستورية والقانونية، وجيشها وشرطتها وما الى ذلك،

وانّ فيها حكومات تحافظ على مصالح شعوبها، وأمن أوطانها ومستقبلها، وبقية الأسطوانة المعتادة التي نسمعها من كبار المحللين والكتاب العاملين لديهم…

وهو غش واحتيال وخداع بات مكشوفاً، لمن ألقى السمع وهو بصير، بعد المواجهة الروسية الأطلسية الأميركية في أوكرانيا، خصوصاً مع اشتعال حروب الطاقة ومجمعات الصناعات الحربية.

بنظرة واقعية إجمالية ثبت بالدليل والبرهان إنّ هذه الجغرافية الحكومية الغربية ما هي إلا إقطاعيات من العصور الوسطى، تعود للملك، وحاشيته من الأرستقراطيين والنبلاء، والناس عبيد مملوكة لهم، تعمل باليوميّة، لصالح بضعة أوليغارشيات، في تلك المصانع والمزارع والمناجم والمحاجر والشركات وآبار البترول إلخ…

بينما صار واضحاً لدينا الآن أنّ الشركات العالمية التي ظهرت على سطوح جغرافيا القتال أمثال بوينغ ولوكهيد ورايثون وجنرال اليكتريك وأمازون ومايكروسوفت وبنك إنجلترا وبنك الاحتياطي الفيدرالي ووول استريت ليست شركات حكومية تعود لهذه الدول الكبيرة…

أبداً ليس كذلك، إنها في الحقيقة ليست سوى شركات متعددة الجنسية تعود لبضعة أفراد من بيوت المال العالمية، وهذه الحكومات «الجبارة» مثل حكومة ماكرون وبوريس جونسون وترامب بالأمس وبايدن اليوم ليست سوى حارس يحرس هذه الأموال لأصحابها الأوليغارش.

وإذا كنا نظنّ انّ المنظمات العالمية مثل مجلس الأمن ومنظمة الصحة العالمية والبنك الدولي وصندوق النقد الدولي ومنظمة العدل ومنظمة التجارة الحرة وما يسمّى بالمجتمع الدولي، انما هي منظمات دولية تعمل لأجل شعوب العالم ورفاهيته وأمنه وصحته فنحن مخطئون ايضاً…

لقد اتضح للقاصي والداني الآن بأنها هي الأخرى ليست سوى مجرد حارس مصالح تلك الشركات العالمية المتعددة الجنسيات، ايّ انها مثلها مثل «بلاك واتر» وأمثالها، كلّ ما هنالك أنها تتمظهر بملابس مدنية وياقات بيضاء ويلبس مدراؤها قفازات ناعمة تخفي عن الرأي العام قبضاتها الحديدية وأسلحتها الرشاشة المغطاة بشكل جيد تحت معاطفها ومجملة بربطات عنق ملونة.

هيكلهم يتلاشى رويداً رويداً والعالم يتغيّر بسرعة لصالحنا.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

MBS-Kushner investments could complicate vital Saudi regional diplomacy

June 05 2022

Saudi Crown Prince MbS wants Israel onside but has yet to figure out how to move forward without rocking the Saudi boat.

Source

By Agha Hussein

The Saudis need to choose: Will it be regional stability with Tehran or regional confrontation with Tel Aviv? Riyadh cannot have both.

Saudi Arabia is slated for a complete socioeconomic overhaul under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) ambitious Vision2030, which aims to steer the kingdom towards a post-oil economy. For this to be realized, peace and political stability with Saudi’s neighbors is essential.

In this context, Riyadh sees diplomatic engagement with rival Iran as crucial to addressing the security dilemmas the kingdom faces from neighboring Yemen, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, which have the potential to derail progress on Saudi’s reform program.

However, MbS’ recent signals toward Israel could hinder the kingdom’s efforts to formalize the Iran-Saudi diplomatic ‘framework‘ aimed at bringing stability to its borders.

MbS and Israel

On 7 May, The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – of which MbS is chairman – committed $2 billion to a private equity fund for Israeli tech startups. This represents the first known case of the PIF investing in Israeli businesses.

The fund belongs to Jared Kushner, former US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and informal advisor who worked with MbS to draw Saudi foreign policy closer to Israeli interests.

During the Trump administration, Kushner and MbS formed a close interpersonal relationship. Kushner bypassed the US State and Defense Departments and dealt directly with the crown prince, helping him to consolidate power in return for closer alignment with Israel on Iran.

However, MbS eventually decided that the kingdom needed de-escalation with Iran as a means of addressing its growing security dilemmas in Yemen and the Persian Gulf. Citing the tensions it was causing with Iran, MbS took a step back from his partnership with Kushner by declining to join the August 2020 Abraham Accords struck between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, which Kushner played a lead role in facilitating.

This was followed by an Iraqi-mediated dialogue initiated between Tehran and Riyadh in October 2021, which has continued with a few intervals up to the present.

What about Iran?

Now, the investment in Kushner’s fund says two things about MbS’ current priorities. One, that the crown prince retains interest in finding niches of Israeli-Saudi cooperation, and two, that he intends to do so via the old, familiar approach with Kushner as a key broker and interlocutor.

But this challenges an important element of Iranian-Saudi diplomacy: namely, that both states’ compartmentalize their many differences across West Asia for the sake of detente and stability in their immediate, shared Persian Gulf region.

The Islamic Republic for its part has a very regionalized national security doctrine, which emphasizes keeping Israeli influence away from its own borders. Tehran may interpret MbS’ overtures to Israel as a sign that the Saudi talks are not promising outcomes consistent with its national security objectives.

If this is the case, Iran could decide to withdraw from the talks altogether. Indeed, Iran temporarily halted the Iraqi-brokered dialogue with Saudi Arabia in March when it launched missile strikes at purported Israeli Mossad sites in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Additionally, since economic diversification is a key pillar of Vision2030, Iran may view the investment in Kushner’s fund as MbS integrating Israel into his own bigger-picture. From Tehran’s perspective, this is counterproductive to Iran’s desired scenario of an Israel-free Persian Gulf and therefore does not bode well for the continuity of Iranian-Saudi diplomacy.

Ties with Turkey

Saudi Arabia’s relations with Turkey, another West Asian powerhouse, have recently thawed under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to mend fences with the kingdom.

While Turkey’s angle has more to do with building economic and security ties, for Riyadh this entente has special importance for its overall regional diplomacy. This is because the tension in Turkish-Saudi ties is associated heavily with the 2018 state-sanctioned murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, reportedly at the personal behest of MbS.

The fallout from the murder made MbS persona non grata for many in the international community, and he remained a pariah until only relatively recently amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis.

This proved especially inconvenient when MbS began his urgent tilt to a more diplomatic foreign policy. Riyadh’s access to various diplomatic channels was suddenly very limited because of MbS’ personal, unilateral control over Saudi decision-making. Indeed, even Saudi Arabia’s (partial) rapprochement with Qatar, ending a three-and-a-half year blockade, required Kushner’s mediation.

Two weeks before Erdogan’s 28 April visit to Riyadh, a Turkish court transferred the trial of Khashoggi’s Saudi assassins to the kingdom. Thus, since Erdogan sees shoring up MbS’ international standing as necessary for their entente, the latter has reason to ensure that Ankara gets a degree of geopolitical value out of it too.

Critically, this is where the risk that MbS’ Israel outreach poses to Iranian-Saudi diplomacy, could spill over to the budding Turkish-Saudi normalization.

Turkey’s overtures to MbS have occurred in parallel with its rapprochement with Israel. If Turkish-Saudi dialogue covers regional agendas instead of just bilateral ones, Iran may well suspect the two of eyeing a bloc and drawing Israel toward it as a mutual ally.

Keeping Israel out

Iran would overplay its hand and damage its diplomatic credibility by raking up Turkey in dialogue with Saudi Arabia, as the latter could interpret this as Iranian heavy-handedness and drop the idea that Iran is able or willing to help it de-escalate matters in Yemen and the Persian Gulf.

Tehran does not want this to happen, as it has tactically benefited from playing the Yemen/Gulf de-escalation card: both to bring Riyadh to the negotiating table, and to show it that avoiding Israel is a worthy trade-off to cool tensions with Iran’s allies in Yemen and even Iraq.

Conversely, if Iran accepts that it cannot force the Turkish factor into its talks with Saudi Arabia, its diplomatic strategy toward Riyadh provides no recourse against the possibility of MbS asking Ankara to help connect him to Tel Aviv.

In this scenario, continuing the Saudi talks presents Iran with a credibility crisis – that of its ability to enforce its national security red-lines by pressuring or incentivizing its neighbors to avoid Israel. This could lead to Tehran abandoning the dialogue with Riyadh, or putting it on ice.

Vision or Mirage?

Saudi Arabia needs harmony, not contradictions and conflicts, between its various diplomatic processes and dialogues, both to properly restore MbS’ international reputation and to provide the stability the kingdom needs for Vision2030’s implementation.

The diplomatic cadre in Riyadh seems aware of this, going by the Saudi Foreign Minister’s statement on 24 May that the kingdom’s hands are ‘stretched out to Iran’.

Currently, Riyadh’s most obvious and potentially impactful option to de-escalate tensions across the region is to continue its dialogue with Tehran. Shelving ties with Israel is a small price to pay for the stability-dividends it offers Saudi Arabia.

Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, “Israel” postponed: NBC News

June 4, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia – whom he deems a ‘pariah’ – and Washington’s spoiled child, “Israel”, has been postponed, according to officials.

Joe Biden, feeling happy. 

US President Joe Biden’s visits to Saudi Arabia and “Israel” have been postponed till July, NBC News reported. The postponed trip will see an expansion, a “broader trip to the Middle East,” according to the sources.

“We are working on a trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia for a GCC+3 Summit,” a senior administration official told NBC News. “We are working to confirm dates. When we have something to announce, we will.”

One foreign diplomat, in addition to two US officials, revealed that the visit to Saudi Arabia will no longer be carried out in June. Two other US officials said that the “Israel” visit was being postponed, although both visits were scheduled along with visits to Germany and Spain this month.

The motive behind the postponement was not clear, however. The dates, furthermore, could even change again. The White House declined to comment, and the Israeli and the Saudi embassies in the US did not respond to any questions. 

Biden is about to set all his ‘moral’ reasonings aside as he makes his visit to Saudi Arabia, despite dubbing the country a ‘pariah’ state for killing Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The US will be setting its positions aside for the energy and oil crisis which has risen as a result of the NATO-fueled war on Russian oil and exports

Read more: US-Saudi relations reach ‘breaking point’ – WSJ

The US president is expected to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -the man behind Khashoggi’s assassination- once he lands in Riyadh, despite his assertions that his meetings would exclusively be with King Salman bin Abdulaziz as he is his proper counterpart.

He will also meet with the heads of several Arab nations, including Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan.

The visit will see Biden abandoning many of the “morals” he has been trying to uphold before the public, and it all goes back to the Ukraine war, as Washington deems it necessary to have other energy producers on its side after it sanctioned Russia out of the global oil market.

Reports about the visit – ironically – come the same day as White House Spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre said Biden’s “pariah” remarks about Saudi Arabia still stood.

Jean-Pierre was asked how after US intelligence assessed that MBS was behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to which she replied that a visit to Saudi Arabia would be consistent with Biden’s remarks last year that Saudi Arabia would “pay the price, and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.”

Biden To Visit Saudi Arabia, To Meet ‘Pariah’ MBS 

By Staff, Agencies

US President Joe Biden has decided to travel to Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks and is expected to meet with the kingdom’s crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman [MBS], whom he once shunned for his brutality. It’s a visit that is coming together as OPEC+, which is led by Riyadh, announced Thursday it will pump more oil amid skyrocketing energy costs around the globe.

Biden’s first trip to the Saudi kingdom as president is likely to occur later this month but details have not been finalized. Biden is also expected to visit “Israel” during the trip.

The White House on Thursday praised Saudi Arabia for its role securing an OPEC+ pledge to pump more oil and the president himself lauded the Saudis for agreeing to a cease-fire extension in its eight-year old aggression on Yemen that was also announced Thursday.

“Saudi Arabia demonstrated courageous leadership by taking initiatives early on to endorse and implement terms of the UN-led truce,” Biden said in a statement after the 60-day extension of the cease fire was announced.

The kingdom’s leadership also had a close relationship with former US president Donald Trump, who largely shielded Saudi Arabia from repercussions after Khashoggi’s killing.

Biden administration officials have been working behind the scenes to repair relations, discussing shared strategic interests in security and oil with their Saudi counterparts. 

The White House is weighing a Biden visit that would also include a meeting of the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates — as well as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan, according to the person familiar with White House planning, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the yet-to-be finalized trip.

Biden would be expected to meet with MBS during the visit, according to the person.

Such a meeting could ease a tense and uncertain period in the partnership between Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, and the United States, the world’s top economic and military power, that has stood for more than three-quarters of a century.

But it also risks a public humbling for the US leader, who in 2019 pledged to make a “pariah” of the Saudi royal family over the killing of Khashoggi.

Neom: MBS’ personal dystopia

June 1, 2022 

Source: The Wall Street Journal

By Al Mayadeen English 

“I drive everybody like a slave…When they drop down dead, I celebrate. That’s how I do my projects” – Neom CEO, Nadhmi al-Nasr.

Nadhmi A-Nasr, the Neom project’s CEO, who was handpicked by Mohammad bin Salman (Bloomberg)

“If you don’t tell me who’s responsible, I’m going to take a gun from under my desk and shoot you.”

This is how Neom’s Chief Executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr conducted an emergency meeting, asking his communications team why they didn’t warn him that some companies may cut their ties with the project following complaints against Saudi Arabia’s human rights records.

Most of the people involved with the meeting later left the project, forming a small sample of an exodus of foreign staff from Neom, who are leaving the project due to the abuse they suffer.

Neom is the most ambitious project sought out by the country’s Crown Prince and de facto ruler, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). According to WSJ, the project is “a group of futuristic technology-driven communities with its own laws across an area the size of Massachusetts that the 36-year-old leader hopes will one day feature flying cars, robot dinosaurs and a giant artificial moon.”

However, what bin Salman thinks is his utopia is proving to be closer to a dystopia, where employees and executives are made to feel that they’re worthless because they are not able to meet the unrealistic expectations and demands being imposed on them by the project’s CEO. Some even left $500,000 a year jobs in Neom rather than work under Nasr, according to former employees.

In a resignation letter, one chief executive who resigned in the summer of 2020 at a planned mountain resort at Neom said that Nasr’s leadership was “consistently inclusive of disparagement and inappropriately dismissive and demeaning outburst.”

“When they drop down dead, I celebrate”

Current and former employees say that the staff turnover has slowed the $500 billion project down, as Neom has only now begun breaking ground after more than “five years of planning and multiple master plans.”

Moreover, there is a certain culture of fear among some of the executives delivering the projects, brought on by the jailing of Saudi businessmen and royals on trumped-up corruption charges as part of bin Salman’s power grab. MBS also makes unrealistic demands for Neom, and often changes his mind, which further slows down the work pace.

“Nadhmi takes his cue from his boss and everyone else at Neom takes their cue from Nadhmi,” said Anthony Harris, former director of innovation in Neom’s education team, who said that as part of the project.

“You are made to feel like you’re absolutely worthless, notwithstanding the large amount of money they are paying.”

In one meeting, Mr. Nasr told one executive to “walk into the desert to die, so he could urinate on his grave,” WSJ reported.

Neom’s CEO also said in a recording “I drive everybody like a slave…When they drop down dead, I celebrate. That’s how I do my projects.”

A satellite photo shows palaces near Neom (AP)

Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun

One senior Saudi official said that bin Salman and the royal court know Nasr’s management style, and are also aware of the high employee turnover at Neom, but apparently, they are under the impression that this style works.

After the Covid pandemic hit and lockdowns began in 2020, the CEO told employees stuck abroad that they were replaceable if they didn’t come back to Saudi Arabia. Some never made it back.

Furthermore, employees were criticized at a town-hall meeting with Neom staff that took place in the summer of 2020 for allowing Neom to fall behind schedule. Staff were also ordered to tattle on employees’ slowing progress.

Nasr, during a conference in Las Vegas in 2019 (Bloomberg)

One running joke in the project involved executives sharing images of a book they joked Nasr must have read “Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun”, the successful business management book inspired by the exploits of the feared 5th-century leader.

Sexual misconduct

Neom, according to WSJ, aims to create a more liberal society than the rest of Saudi Arabia, following MBS’ Vision 2030. However, current and former employees are saying that sexual harassment was frequent.

One female expatriate left Neom after complaining of inappropriate behavior by her boss, a Western executive who is close to Nasr and remains in his position.

Another British-American former employee told Nasr in an e-mail that she believed she was fired by her boss because she refused to continue a sexual relationship with him. Human resources haven’t taken any action against the said boss.

“Misogyny, racism and abusive behaviors aren’t just tolerated by leadership, these abhorrent behaviors are in fact consistently demonstrated by leadership,” Andrew Wirth, the former chief executive of Neom’s mountain resort, said in a written statement.

Interestingly, instead of attempting to tackle these issues, Neom has opted to create a paranoid ambiance within its perimeters by installing cameras where employees live. Former IT employee who was part of the monitoring with the camp Joseph Wright revealed that the cameras watch “everything you do,” frightening the many residents.

Israel’ Publicly Announces It’s Working with US, Gulf States on Normalization with Saudi Arabia

May 31, 202

By Staff, Agencies

The Tel Aviv occupation regime is coordinating with the United States and Gulf nations on a process to normalize its ties with Saudi Arabia, Zionist Foreign Minister Yair Lapid confessed Monday.

“We believe that it is possible to have a normalization process with Saudi Arabia. It’s in our interest,” Lapid boasted in remarks to ‘Israeli’ Army Radio.

“We’ve already said that this is the next step after the ‘Abraham Accords,’ to talk about a long and careful process,” he added, referring to the 2020 US-backed normalization deals the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity reached with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

“We’re working with the US and the Gulf states on this.”

Despite the fact the Saudi Arabia didn’t announce having official diplomatic ties with the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity yet, covert ties have warmed in recent years. Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman reportedly sees the Tel Aviv regime as a strategic partner in the fight against Iranian influence in the region.

Lapid warned that the process of normalization with Saudi Arabia would be a lengthy one with progress coming in small steps, stressing that both sides have security interests at stake.

“This won’t happen the same way it did last time,” Lapid said in reference to the surprising and rapid nature in which the 2020 normalization deals were announced. “We won’t wake up one morning suddenly and it will be a surprise.”

“It could be that three foreign ministers after me, someone will be standing on the podium and will celebrate this,” Lapid explained the scenario.

His comments came as Saudi Arabia hosted dozens of ‘Israeli’ tech entrepreneurs and businesspeople recently for advanced talks on Saudi investments in ‘Israeli’ companies and ‘Israeli’ investment funds, according to a Sunday report in the Globes business daily.

Last week, a pair of senior US officials were reportedly in Saudi Arabia for covert talks on an agreement that could boost Washington’s ties with Riyadh while also bringing the kingdom closer to normalizing relations with the Tel Aviv regime.

According to the Axios news site, the trip was part of efforts to finalize an agreement on the transfer of Egypt’s Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, Riyadh hosted a senior Zionist official recently for talks on various aspects of security and other coordination, Channel 12 news reported Friday, without citing a source.

The Yedioth Ahronoth daily also reported meetings between figures from both sides, without providing any further information.

The reports come ahead of US President Joe Biden’s expected visit to the Middle East, which will include stops in both the ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia.

Inside the Secret Meeting Between the CIA Director and Saudi Crown Prince

May 28, 2022

Source

By Ken Klippenstein

In an unusual foray into diplomacy, William Burns pressed Mohammed bin Salman on oil production, prominent detainees, and the kingdom’s relationship with China

Last month, as part of a regional tour, CIA Director William Burns quietly met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, a port city in western Saudi Arabia. The unusual meeting, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the first known encounter between the United States’ top spy and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler — and, according to three sources familiar with the matter, the latest attempt by high-ranking U.S. officials to appeal to Saudi Arabia on oil amid rising U.S. gas prices. Also on the table, two of the sources told The Intercept, were Saudi weapons purchases from China.

President Joe Biden has so far refused to meet with MBS, as he is known, owing to the crown prince’s role in ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But in February, Biden made an effort to begin repairing the relationship with the kingdom, asking King Salman to increase the country’s oil production in return for U.S. military support for its “defense” against Yemen’s Houthis. According to a Saudi readout of the call, Biden was denied. Though Burns again asked for an oil production increase last month, Saudi Arabia announced last week that it would be sticking to its production plan, once more denying the U.S.’s request.

A spokesperson for the CIA declined to comment on Burns’s travels. The Intercept’s sources — a U.S. intelligence official, two sources with ties to the U.S. intelligence community, a source close to members of the Saudi royal family, and a think tank official — interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The meeting was also an opportunity to broach a subject of intense concern to Washington: Riyadh’s growing relationship with China. In addition to Burns’s ask on oil, the CIA director also requested that Saudi Arabia not pursue a purchase of arms from China, according to the two sources close to U.S. intelligence.

Saudi Arabia’s very public overtures to Beijing — most notably, exploring the possibility of selling its oil in the Chinese currency, yuan — have caused consternation in Washington. This week, in Senate testimony, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned of efforts by China and Russia to “to try to make inroads with partners of ours across the world,” mentioning Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as examples.

What is not publicly known, however, is that the Saudi government is planning to import ballistic missiles later this month from China under a secret program code-named “Crocodile,” the source close to U.S. intelligence said. (The other source with ties to U.S. intelligence confirmed that the discussion pertained to arms sales with China.)

Burns also requested the release of numerous high-profile Saudi royals whom MBS has detained, including MBS’s cousin, former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the sources said. MBN, as he is known, was heir to the throne before his ouster by Crown Prince Mohammed in 2017. Because MBN is a close partner to U.S. intelligence, the Biden administration has reportedly pressured for his release amid allegations of torture.

Relying on a CIA director to conduct high-level diplomatic engagement of this sort is extremely unusual, although it does offer at least one big advantage: discretion. Burns’s presence also served as a means of attempting to mend the fraught relationship between MBS and other top Biden administration officials, the source close to U.S. intelligence said. Last year, when Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan brought up the Khashoggi murder, MBS shouted at him, remarking that the U.S. could forget about its request to increase oil production, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

Burns’s meeting with MBS was one of several with leaders in the region, including in Qatar, the UAE, and Oman, the source also said. (A prominent think tank official close to the Biden administration confirmed that Burns had been traveling throughout the Middle East.) Burns’s meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed echoed the theme of his meeting with MBS, urging him to stop warming up to China, specifically referring to the construction of a Chinese military base in the UAE. Last year, the Biden administration reportedly warned the UAE that China had been building a military facility at an Emirati port and that its construction could imperil their relations. In the case of Saudi Arabia, U.S. intelligence has assessed that the country has been working with China to manufacture its own ballistic missiles domestically — raising concerns about touching off a regional arms race.

“What’s different about this is the Saudis are now looking to import completed missiles,” the source close to U.S. intelligence said.

Burns has come under criticism for conducting diplomacy for the administration, which is supposed to be handled by diplomats at the State Department. Last year, as Kabul fell to the Taliban, Burns was reportedly in the Middle East, meeting with top Israeli and Palestinian government officials. Shortly thereafter, Burns secretly met in Kabul with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar. Just last week, Burns met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, urging him not to interfere with his country’s elections.

“Burns has been doing a lot of the diplomatic heavy lifting, which is terrible,” a U.S. intelligence official close to the administration told The Intercept, decrying what he called the “further castration of the Department of State.” This has rankled diplomats at Foggy Bottom, who had hoped that Biden would make good on his campaign pledge to empower diplomacy after years of neglect by the Trump administration.

Concerns about Burns’s role in diplomacy and sidelining the State Department have even come from figures like Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Intelligence professionals can coerce and threaten unencumbered by the restraints of diplomacy,” Rubin wrote in a recent article for the Washington Examiner. “They are not there to debate and formulate foreign policy.” The Biden administration is currently without an ambassador to Saudi Arabia, having only last month announced its intent to nominate diplomat Michael Ratney for the position.

‘Tortured to death’: Saudi Army kills seven Yemeni migrants trying to cross border amid UN silence

27 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Naseh Shaker 

Families of the seven Yemeni migrants reveal to Al Mayadeen English who killed their sons as Ansar Allah, Saudi coalition trade blames.

‘Tortured to death’: Saudi Army kills seven Yemeni migrants trying to cross border amid UN silence

Yemeni migrant Abdullah Hasan Saeed left his village in Al-Hudaydah on May 9 toward the Yemeni crossing-border of Al-Raqo to find a job in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On May 12, his father Hasan received a call from the Republican Hospital in Saada telling him the Saudi Army has tortured and killed his son.

“A Saudi bullet in his back killed him,” Hasan, father of Abdullah, told Al Mayadeen English in a phone call. He added, “There are also signs of torture on his body.” 

Abdullah, 28, is one of seven Yemeni citizens tortured and killed by the Saudi Army while on their way to the Kingdom seeking job opportunities to make a living.

Saudi Arabia launched a military aggression against Yemen in 2015 following the success of Ansar Allah popular revolution to topple the US-Saudi-backed corrupt government of Abed-Rabu Mansour Hadi.

On May 12, Al-Masirah TV, citing its reporter in Saada, reported that seven corpses of Yemeni migrants tortured and killed by the Saudi Army in the bordering area of Al-Raqo have arrived at the Republican Hospital in Saada.

Insan Organization condemned this crime and published the names and images of four out of the seven citizens tortured and killed:

– Abdullah Hasan Said, from Al-Hudaydah Province 

– Abdullah Darweesh, from Al-Hudaydah Province

– Khaleel Darweesh, from Al-Hudaydah Province 

– Mohammed Al-Badani, from Ibb Province.

“The Saudi soldiers have tortured several Yemeni civilians along the border area of ​​Al-Raqo until they died, as seven bodies of civilians arrived in the Republican Hospital in Saada, bearing signs of torture by beating and electrocution,” Yemeni Eye of Humanity Center For Rights and Freedoms said in a statement, pointing that the number of victims will most likely increase.

“This crime revealed the true face of this takfiri Wahhabi regime that rules Saudi Arabia and does not accept coexistence with others,” the statement added. 

Ahmed Abu Hamra, Director of Eye of Humanity Center For Rights and Freedoms, condemned this Saudi crime, saying, “The Saudi regime’s record is full of daily crimes in the border areas.”

“We have contacted all UN organizations regarding these crimes, but organizations do not take any action,” he noted.

Full-fledged crime

On May 13, the Saudi-led coalition in a statement published by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), said, “Ansar Allah’s allegations that there are deaths in the border area of Al-​​Raqo, with the Saudi forces dealing with them, are untrue.”

“Dozens of migrants were killed in the process of forced displacement and armed clashes launched by the Houthis,” SPA reported, citing the US-backed Saudi coalition allegations in the statement. 

Hasan, father of Abdullah, from Al-Marawi`ah District of the port city of Al-Hudaydah, denied the Saudi allegations and accused the Saudi Army of killing his son Abdullah. “He was killed by a Saudi bullet over a Saudi territory off Al-Raqo area.”

Asked what job Abdullah was seeking in the Kingdom, he replied, “He used to work in restaurants.”

Yemeni Ministry of Health said on May 12 in a statement that the torture and killing of the seven Yemeni citizens is “a full-fledged crime and a grave violation of international and humanitarian law…”

“The coalition continues to shed Yemeni blood by various means, whether by airstrikes, rocket-propelled grenades and artillery, or torture till death,” it added.

The Ministry also called on the United Nations to hold the Saudi-led coalition accountable for war crimes and to refer these crimes to the International Criminal Court.

Mourning

Hasan Saeed said his son Abdullah was married and the father of a 3-year-old boy and a 40-day-old baby girl.

“The whole family is mourning his death,” Hasan told Al Mayadeen English. “He was working to feed his sons and five other brothers and sisters.”

Mohammed Ali, a neighbor of Abdullah, said the entire village is mourning the death of Abdullah.

“He was very kind to all who knew him,” Ali told Al Mayadeen English.

“The UN has been covering the Saudi atrocities against Yemenis and the international community should put an end to this discrimination against Yemenis,” Ali cried out.

Tortured to death

Khaleel Darweesh had spent two years in the Saudi Kingdom gathering money to get married. In 2021, he returned home to Yemen to get married. Now his wife is pregnant in the second month, his brother Hamed said.

Khaleel Darwish while in Saudi Arabia (Exclusive)

After Eid Al-Fitr, Khaleel Darweesh, his brother Hamed, and cousin Abdullah Darweesh left Al Marawi`ah District of Al-Hudaydah toward Al-Raqo crossing border aiming to return to the Kingdom.

However, Khaleel and his cousin Abdullah decided to cross the border on May 11, leaving behind Hamed in Al-Raqo market, and they were captured and tortured to death by the Saudi Army using water and electricity.

Khaleel Darweesh left along with brother Hamed right (Exclusive)

“They weren’t killed in clashes with Ansar Allah, as the Saudi coalition claimed,” Hamed told Al Mayadeen English.

“They were peaceful migrants carrying nothing other than food and water,” the 32-year-old Hamed explained.

Hamed survived the torture because he said he didn’t travel with Khaleel and Abdullah on the night of May 11 and remained at Al-Raqo market until the second day.

Hamed received the news of migrants being tortured to death on May 12 and went to look, but found his brother Khaleel and cousin Abdullah amongst the tortured migrants.

Khaleel during his wedding party wearing Yemeni uniform (Exclusive)

“I found their frozen bodies,” Hamed told Al Mayadeen English of his brother and cousin. “I wish they were killed by bullets rather than being tortured to death.”

“I will never try again entering the kingdom of torture and terrorism,” Hamed told Al Mayadeen English when asked if he plan to return to the Kingdom as a survivor. “It is the Kingdom of barbarism, and the UN is silent about Saudi crimes against Yemeni migrants.”

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Tortured Death Row Bahraini Prisoners at Risk of Execution by Saudi Regime

May 23, 2022

By Sondos al-Assad

Lebanon – Two Bahraini nationals Sadeq Thamer [33] and Jaafar Sultan [30], who have exhausted all their appeals, are at imminent risk of execution by Saudi regime, on the basis of his torture-tainted “confessions”. The young men have been arrested, without a warrant, on May 8, 2015, while crossing King Fahd Causeway.

They have been subjected to enforced disappearance [for 115 days], severely tortured and accused of “transporting explosive materials”. According to rights groups, 25 days after their arrest, they were supposed to be transferred to Bahrain. However, while they were on the bus, a Bahraini officer received a call and began to insult and threaten them with reprisal. Then, they were returned to the Saudi territories.

On the same day, their houses in Bahrain were violently stormed by individuals belonging to the Bahraini Criminal Investigations Directorate in civilian clothes. The policemen confiscated a laptop, computer, and phones, and their families were not informed about their whereabouts.

Sadeq and Jaafar were then taken to the Saudi General Investigation Prison in Dammam, where they were placed in solitary confinement for nearly 115 days [4 months].

After their families reached out to various Bahraini and Saudi governmental bodies, Sadeq and Jaafar were allowed to call but mentioned nothing about the condition of their detention and investigations.

During the first family visit, on 13 October 2015, Sadeq and Jaafar informed their parents that they were forcibly pressured to confess under severe and inhumane physical and psychological torture. In court, Jaafar told the lawyer that he was transferred to the hospital for 10 days because of torture and that he was threatened too with torturing his family members. Likewise, Sadeq was mal-treated, beaten, and threatened to be tortured and held incommunicado when refusing to sign the fabricated charges.

The Saudi Public Prosecution charged Sadeq and Jaafar with allegedly joining a terrorist cell, smuggling explosive materials, and misleading the Saudi investigation authorities. Then a Saudi Specialized Criminal Court sentenced them to death on 7 October 2021. Noting that also Bahrain’s 4th High Criminal Court sentenced them on 31 May 2016 to life imprisonment and a fine of 200000 BHD dinars for the same charges.

Sadeq and Jaafar are prominent religious and social activists and apparently, their arbitrary conviction is politically-motivated.

The use of the death penalty has dramatically escalated over the past decade in Bahrain, specifically rising by more than 600%, with at least 5 citizens being executed for political reasons. Despite pledges for human rights reform, some 26 men in Bahrain are currently facing imminent execution, 12 of whose convictions were based on false torture and were convicted of “terrorism” charges.

For its part, the Saudi authorities executed last March 81 individuals, marking a sharp rise in the number of recorded executions. This appalling death toll is likely to be an underestimate, as Saudi authorities do not publish statistics on executions or the number of prisoners on death row; nor do they inform families or lawyers in advance of executions.

Torture is rampant in Saudi Arabia, and courts regularly admit torture-tainted “confessions” as evidence. Thus, sentencing torture survivors to death for their peaceful activism is a heinous crime. While Sadeq and Jaafar’s helpless families await the news in anguish, the uncertainty of knowing that they could be murdered at any moment is an unspeakable strain!

Riyadh Court Upholds Death Sentence of Two Bahraini Youths

May 21, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A top Saudi court upheld death sentences of two young Bahraini nationals over trumped-up terror charges.

The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia issues a final ruling to execute Bahraini prisoners of conscience, Sadiq Thamer and Jaafar Sultan

The Riyadh-based supreme court of appeals sentenced Sadiq Majid Thamer and Jaafar Mohammed Sultan to death after alleging that they have been found guilty of “smuggling explosives” into the kingdom and “involved in terrorist activities.”

Human rights organizations and an opposition protest movement described the rulings as “unfair and arbitrary,” saying they were issued based on confessions extracted under torture.

This come as social media activists have launched campaigns in solidarity with the two Bahraini youths, with human rights organizations and campaigners calling for an end to the “unjust” ruling and their immediate release.

Bahrain’s February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition held the Saudi regime fully responsible for the youths’ safety, calling on the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take on his duties and intervene urgently to stop the crime.

The Bahraini opposition movement also called on the international community to stand up against Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and prevent the death sentences from being carried out.

The Coalition demanded swift action to save the lives of the two young Bahraini nationals before it gets too late, considering Bahrain’s ruling Khalifah regime as a partner in any criminal action against the Arab nation.

Sultan and Thamer were arrested in May 2015 along the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

They were held incommunicado for months after their arrest. The Bahraini youths were subjected to systematic and fatal torture with the aim of extracting false confessions from them.

Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Bahrain’s most prominent cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim has said that drawing up a new constitution is the only way out of the political crisis in the protest-hit tiny Gulf kingdom, urging the regime in Manama to pursue an agreement with the Bahraini opposition instead of increasingly suppressing dissent.

Demonstrations have been held in Bahrain on a regular basis ever since a popular uprising began in mid-February 2011.

The participants demand that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama, however, has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent.

Hezbollah Warns Opponents in Lebanese Parliament: We Won’t Let You Be Shields for ‘Israel’

 May 16, 2022

Head of Loyalty to Resistance bloc, Hajj Mohammad Raad, warned on Monday Hezbollah opponents against rejecting the national unity, stressing that the civil peace is a red line.

After the official announcement of the results of the parliamentary elections in which Hezbollah-Amal Movement alliance swept all the Shiite seats, MP Raad stressed that the vote has proved lofty position of the Resistance in the nation.

On May 15, Lebanon witnessed a parliamentary elections which synchronized with an unprecedented crisis caused by the US-backed siege and corruption. Despite the US scheme, the Resistance alliance manage to emerge victorious.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Lebanon Elections Preliminary Results: Hezbollah, Amal Sweep Shiite Seats in Parliament 

May 16, 2022

Hezbollah and Amal Movement swept Shiite seats in the Lebanese Parliament in Sunday’s vote, despite heavy efforts by rivals, especially the Lebanese Forces, to set a blow to the Shiite duo’s popular base.

According to preliminary results obtained by the electoral machines of both the Shiite duo and their rivals, Hezbollah and Amal gained 27 seats out of 27 Shiite seats, compared to 26 seats in the last elections in 2018.

Head of Hezbollah’s Loyalty to Resistance MP Mohammad Raad earned the highest number of preferential votes in Lebanon with nearly 50,000 Lebanese citizens gave him their votes in South III district.

Hezbollah’s candidate in Mount Lebanon I district (Keserwan, Jbeil) Raed Berro has reportedly gained the Shiite seat which was lost by Hezbollah in 2018.

If confirmed by the Lebanese Interior Ministry’s official results, Hezbollah and Amal are seen as firm and strong powers in the country due to unprecedented campaigns by the Lebanese Forces Party which has raised ‘disarming Hezbollah’ as one of its main electoral topics.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s allies suffered several setbacks, with several seats were lost in favor of independent hopefuls and Saudi-backed Lebanese Forces candidates.

Free Patriotic Movement gained nearly 16 sets in the Parliament compared to 29 seats (FPM with its Christian allies) in 2018.

Hezbollah’s allies Wiam Wahhab and Talal Arslan lost their seats in Mount Lebanon IV district.

In north Lebanon Faisal Karami also lost his seat, according to preliminary results.

For its part, Saudi-backed Lebanese Forces Party has reportedly won nearly 19 seats, compared to 15 seats in 2018.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Kingdom of Blood: Saudi Regime Beheads Two Activists from Qatif Province

May 15, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Saudi kingdom of blood has yet another time committed a heinous crime against the peaceful activists of the Shia-populated Qatif province.

As part of a heavy-handed crackdown led by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] against political dissidents and pro-democracy campaigners, the Riyadh regime executed two young men from the Qatif over trumped-up allegations of involvement in terrorist activities.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior alleged in a statement on Saturday that the death sentences were carried out against Hussein Ali Al Abu Abdullah and Mohammad Khodr al-Awami.

The ministry further claimed that the Saudi nationals “collaborated with terrorist groups, fomented unrest and insecurity in the country, possessed weapons, ammunition as well as rocket-propelled grenades and attempted to disrupt national security.”

Last month, two human rights organizations filed a complaint at the United Nations against arbitrary executions in Saudi Arabia, especially after the execution of dozens of prisoners in a single day in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights [ESOHR] and Reprieve, a UK-based non-profit organization of international lawyers and investigators, said the Riyadh regime openly declared its disregard for international principles as well as its commitments and obligations through the executions of 81 men, 41 of whom were Shia Muslims, in March.

Social media users have reported heavy deployment of Saudi security forces in the city of Qatif to crush any protest against the recent execution of scores of dissidents.

State news agency Saudi Press Agency said on March 12 that the authorities had executed 81 people in one day on a variety of offences.

The 2022 executions exceeded the total number of Saudi Arabia’s punishments by death throughout last year.

Back in early January 2016, Saudi authorities also executed 47 people, including prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who had vociferously called for democracy in the kingdom and advocated anti-regime protests. Nimr had been arrested in Qatif, Eastern Province, in 2012.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has reportedly executed more than 900 prisoners in an increasing rate. In 2019 alone, Saudi Arabia set a record number of executions after authorities executed 184 people, despite a general decrease in the number of executions around the world.

Ever since MBS became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Human rights activists warn that Saudi officials are planning to execute over 40 teenagers over their participation in anti-regime protests in the Shia-majority Qatif region.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Lebanese Elections 2022: Purchasing Votes vs. Coordinated, Clear Program to Handle Lebanon’s Crises

May 12, 2022

By Mohammad Youssef

The electoral process for Lebanon’s parliamentary election has already started for the Lebanese expatriates. This has put an end for all the rumors, speculations and skepticism that it is not going to take place. Meanwhile, the preparations for the elections inside Lebanon on May 15 are lively and vibrant.

The event, of course is very important and comes at a very sensitive juncture of the country’s history. Many international and regional parties, namely the United States and Saudi Arabia, along with their local agents pin hopes that the result of the elections will pave the way for a major transformation in the political scene which could usher in a new era for a new chapter of heightened and more intense presence in the Lebanese politics.

Those countries have given a signal and directives for their local agents to open fire on Hezbollah arms and to raise slogans about disarming the resistance as the only goal of their electoral campaigns.

However, the turnout of the first and preliminary elections outside the country was not up to their expectations.

First, the proportions of those who participated didn’t match their anticipations. The ‘Lebanese Forces’ party and its allies expected 80 percent participation, especially in Saudi Arabia, Australia and other countries where they play their ground. They openly and vulgarly threatened those who do not vote for their electoral list to be kicked out of those countries. Moreover, they used every possible tool to propagate their electoral advertisement.

In Lebanon, the Saudi ambassador and in a very vulgar breach of the diplomatic norms has visited some candidates in different parts of the country and lobbied for their support.

News about bribes and votes purchase are upcoming from every area where the pro-American and pro-Saudi camp is active.

It is noteworthy that regardless of all of this, this front has not been able so far to yield any success in its efforts to present a unified image about its campaigns and goals.

On the other hand, the counter front represented by Hezbollah and its allies, has shown a very coordinated performance and sent images and messages of strength to the public.

The coordinated efforts and organized campaigns, along with the crowded rallies of their supporters have greatly added to Hezbollah and its allies’ already very positive public image.

The electoral program of the party and its domestic priorities in reform, fighting corruption, and remedying economy and financial crisis is doable and promises salvation.

If the results of what happened in the election front so far are to be taken as an indicator to the final results, one can simply predict that Hezbollah and its allies are going to win the elections and the majority again.

Hopefully, this will happen. If so, the Lebanese people will be surely experiencing a new way of approaching and solving their different problems in democratic and peaceful ways, yet with more bold and sovereign decision to discard all foreign pressures and blackmail. Such a handling will prioritize the Lebanese interest and work accordingly.

It is a long way to go, maybe, but it is the method and venue to salvation and rescue that has no replacement.

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Report: Saudi Arabia Plans to Annex Several Yemeni Provinces

May 9, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A Yemeni media report has revealed that Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a devastating war on Yemen for over seven years, is planning to annex a number of key Yemeni provinces.

According to a recent report by the Crater Sky, a Saudi official held a meeting with a committee consisting of a number of people from the Yemeni provinces of Hadhramaut, Shabwah, al-Mahrah, and Abyan to announce that the kingdom has decided to grant the people of those provinces the right to self-determination so that they would be able to join Saudi Arabia.

During the meeting, the Saudi official also announced that the decision would not be overturned, the Aden-based website reported.

The official also referred to the Yemeni provinces, which are rich in natural resources, as “Saudi Arabia’s Arab South.”

According to the report, the kingdom’s decision comes as part of its plans to have access to the Indian Ocean.

Saudi Arabia launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi plan to annex the Yemeni provinces comes while Saudi-backed forces have been consistently losing ground in recent months, especially in the key Ma’rib province, as the Yemeni armed forces continue their advances to free their country.

Under another plot attributed to Riyadh, Hadi announced last month that he had delegated his self-proclaimed powers to the “presidential leadership” council and dismissed vice president Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.

The Wall Street Journal later reported that the former Yemeni president had been forced by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] to step down.

Rai al-Youm, an Arabic language digital news and opinion website, confirmed the WSJ report, adding that Hadi’s private meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, which took place during the latter’s recent visit to Riyadh without the attendance of any Saudi official, was behind MBS’s decision.

Hadi had once resigned from the presidency in early 2015 and fled to Riyadh following a popular uprising led by the Ansarullah movement. He later rescinded his resignation after arriving in Saudi Arabia.

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