Manipulating Dollar-Riyal Exchange Rate, Saudis and US Double Cost of Yemen’s Staple Goods

August 13th, 2021

Yemen Dollar Feature photo

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

Thousands of Yemenis held rallies in cities across the country demanding hunger not be used as a weapon by Saudi Arabia and the United States in order to bring locals to their knees.

ADEN, YEMEN — “The prices are skyrocketing. We can’t feed our children. They are starving,” Saher Abdu Salem, a government employee and a mother of five, said as she participated in a protest in Aden against Saudi Arabia and the government of ousted Yemeni President Abdul-Mansour al-Hadi. The protests took place at the Aden port this week in the wake of a recent decision by the Saudi-backed government in Aden to raise the U.S. dollar exchange rate for major life-saving goods. Now Saher and her husband are struggling to feed their family in the coastal city where the price of the staple ‘rooti’ loaf of bread has soared 250% in a month, its portion halved in size. “When the U.S. State Department expresses its concern over us, this means that it will deal a new blow to our hungry stomachs,” she said.

In this recent development, the oil-rich kingdom has raised the U.S. dollar exchange rate used to calculate customs duties on essential goods that enter Yemen, a country grappling with what the United Nations says is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with millions facing famine. The decision, which has been adopted by the ousted president’s government, has quickly been put into effect and has doubled customs tariffs for major goods and products that enter from the ports controlled by the Saudi-led Coalition.

In the wake of the Saudi decision, the price of essential goods has been doubled, particularly in Aden, Hadramout, al-Mahrah and all southern provinces occupied by the Saudi-led Coalition. In Aden, prices of oil, sauces, vegetables and fruits have more than tripled. The hike in duties from 250 to 110 Yemeni Riyals to the dollar applies to basic commodities such as flour, sugar, cooking oil, rice, milk, fuel and medicine.

According to the United Nations and local humanitarian bodies working on the ground, the move has already aggravated the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country where more than 80% of the population is reliant on imports. On Wednesday, a report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Yemen said that the Yemeni riyal in “the areas of the internationally recognized Yemeni government” (referring to the Saudi-backed government of al-Hadi) has lost more than 36% of its value within a year, causing prices to rise. Moreover, the move has spread fear among Yemeni families who are struggling against floods, COVID-19 and other diseases.

The World Bank has said that about 70% of Yemenis are at risk of starvation at a time when the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has been halved since 2015, when the war began. The World Bank added, in the report published on its website, that “food prices have also risen due to the suspension of commercial imports and the resulting shortage of supplies, and the depreciation of the Yemeni riyal, which currently barely exceeds a third of its 2015 value.”

Refusing to acquiesce

Thousands of Yemenis held rallies in cities across the country demanding hunger not be used as a weapon by Saudi Arabia and the United States in order to bring locals to their knees. In the Saudi-controlled south and east of Yemen — where separate protests have broken out recently over frequent power cuts and the deterioration of health services, in light of the spread of COVID-19 and non-payment of wages — hundreds took the street in Aden, Abyan and Taiz, and al-Shehr ports located in al-Mahrah.

Meanwhile, many traders, importers, and related workers refused to acquiesce in the Saudi decision and instead went on strike. “This decision is a disaster for all Yemenis, and we have been on strike since Eid al-Adha,” Wael Gabr, a merchant who went on strike along with dozens of his peers at the al-Shahr port in al-Mahra, said. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry, based in Aden, also rejected the decision and warned of its repercussions.

Food prices have spiked sharply in the southern governorates since June 2020 thanks to Saudi mismanagement, according to the World Bank, which reported that the national average cost of a Minimum Food Basket (MFB) rose to YR 41,950 (about $63) in June, 4% above the MFB in May, driven by the large depreciation of the rial. The MFB cost increased, month to month, by 18% in Aden, 13% in Lahji and 11% in Dhalee, impacting southern households. In sharp contrast, the MFB cost declined markedly by 7% in Sana`a and remained stable in most other northern governorates, despite acute fuel shortages.

“We hold America responsible”

In Sana`a, where the Ansar Allah-led government has been able to maintain a stable exchange rate, thousands of people took the street on Sunday in Bab al-Yemen southeast of the city. There, protesters voiced slogans and chants against both Riyadh and Washington, expressing deep dissent over the recent rising rate of customs tariffs imposed by Saudi Arabia. “Nothing happens without the knowledge or consent of the United States,” Gabriel Ahmed said, as he joined with others chanting the slogan “Who is behind the decision…? America! America!”

A statement read by protest organizers proclaimed:

We consider raising the price of the customs dollar a pre-planned American decision by President Biden`s administration itself and implemented by the puppet tools in Aden. And we hold America responsible for exposing civilians in all Yemeni governorates to starvation, and we hold it responsible for using the siege of starvation as a weapon of war against the Yemeni people.”

In a speech to the protesters, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a high-ranking leader in the movement, said that the U.S. is constantly trying to depreciate Yemen’s rial against the American dollar in a move similar to its efforts in Syria, Palestinians and Lebanon: “It is the U.S. that has put a blockade against our country and killed our people. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are nothing more than tools for implementing U.S. schemes and agendas.”

This step — which came as part of the maximum pressure campaign exercised by Saudi Arabia and supported by the Biden administration, to bring the Yemenis to their knees — coincides with another step no less dangerous than rising tariffs. In July, Saudi Arabia began a new campaign to purge the kingdom — particularly its southern governorates of Asir, Jizan, and Najran — of Yemeni nationals, including workers and academics, in a move that will not only exacerbate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, social instability and armed conflict for years to come, but also undermine whatever possibility remains of the Yemeni Republic emerging from this war intact, according to a recent report from Sana`a Center for Studies.

However, Yemenis are not giving up. Ansar Allah, which has led the resistance against the Saudi-led war, announced that they will continue to fight the Saudi Coalition, despite the economic pressures, until Saudi Arabia and its allies end the war, lift the blockade, and leave the country. Abdulmalik al-Houthi, the leader of Ansar Allah, said on Monday, “When Washington and its allies speak of peace, they mean others must surrender to their demands.” He concluded, “We are ready for peace, not surrender, and we will resist by all available means.”

Yemen: Biden Shrugs Off Campaign Promise as US Backs New Saudi Offensive and AQAP Support

July 13th, 2021

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

The US has refused calls to stop arming Saudi Arabia amid its devastating war in Yemen and is now doubling down on a military solution, falling back on its reliance of armed militant groups that it used to devastating effect in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

AL-BAYDA, YEMEN — President Joe Biden gave a lot of people a sense of cautious optimism when he took to the campaign trail and promised to bring a swift end to the Saudi-led war on Yemen. The oil-rich monarchy, supported heavily by the United States, has been waging arguably the deadliest military campaign of the past decade on the forgotten country for over six years, exacting a brutal humanitarian toll on its civilian population.

To his credit, Biden sent Tim Lenderking to lead a team of negotiators in an attempt to broker reconciliation between the conflict’s many belligerents. But without the political will to stand up to the Saudi monarchy and the varied American interests that profit handsomely from its wars, Lenderking had little chance of success. Now it seems the Kingdom — once again emboldened, armed, and covered by the United States — has all but abandoned any pretense of reconciliation and doubled down on its brutal war.

A Piercing Star falls to earth

Last week, the Saudi-led Coalition began a massive military operation they’re calling al-Najm al-Thaqib, which translates from Arabic into The Piercing Star. The operation ostensibly aims to recapture large swaths of territory in central Yemen’s al-Bayda province, which was captured by Ansar Allah after a series of long and grueling battles with militants from al-Qaeda on the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP) last fall. AQAP had been entrenched in the province for decades, somehow persevering through concerted military efforts by both the Saudi-led Coalition and at least four consecutive U.S. administrations to dislodge it — including Barack Obama’s infamous drone war.

On August 28, 2020, local tribal partisans backed by Ansar Allah defeated AQAP and myriad extremist allies, including elements of IS, in a week-long operation. This victory came just as AQAP was preparing to sweep the Yemeni provinces of al-Bayda, Dhamar, and Sana’a in an operation that aimed to repeat the scenarios seen in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria, where ISIS was able to take and hold a so-called caliphate extending from western Iraq to into eastern Syria.

Al-Bayda and the surrounding provinces saw a state of relative calm in the wake of the operation, as residents experienced life without the yoke of al-Qaeda, some for the first time in their lives. Now, some of those residents fear that Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States, is attempting to resettle those groups in al-Bayda as a hedge against Ansar Allah.

Saudi jets have carried out scores of airstrikes in al-Bayda in recent weeks, flying in from the north to unleash tons of bombs made and supplied by the United States and giving AQAP a potential avenue to retake the province, as the airstrikes have targeted Ansar Allah and their local tribal allies almost exclusively.

According to the nonprofit Yemeni Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC), American-made cluster bombs — which even the U.S. military has pledged not to use, due to their high rate of collateral damage — including the CBU-58, CBU-105, CBU-87, M26, and DPICM M77, have all been used in the offensive.

In a press conference, YEMAC displayed unexploded American bombs used in the operation, including the same GBU-39 and GBU-31 that were used with deadly effect in Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza. YEMAC held the press conference after an unexploded U.S.-made GBU-24 was recovered from a civil-defense building in Sana’a.

While there is not yet conclusive evidence of direct coordination between the Saudi Coalition and AQAP in the offensive, AQAP militants began pushing into al-Bayda from the south almost as soon as the Saudi airstrikes began. The southern villages of al-Zaher and al-Sma’h — including the areas of Jumaima, Wafaa, Sharadeh, al-Sous, Shabakat Dhi Madahi, Akrama, Shawkan and others — have already been recaptured by al-Qaeda according to a number of Saudi state-funded media outlets, which celebrated the putsch as a victory for the Saudi-led Coalition.

No “Certain Victory”

However, the celebrations were short-lived, as Ansar Allah has already begun to recapture areas it gained last August in a military operation it has dubbed al-Nasr al-Mubin, an Arabic phrase meaning “Certain Victory.” That operation has already seen the defeat of AQAP and militants allied with Saudi Arabia in the al-Zahir Directorate as well as dozens of military sites in the al-Dahaki and Al-Soma`h districts, and even areas that Ansar Allah failed to capture from AQAP during its August offensive, according to a statement it issued on Tuesday.

Yemen Marib
An armored vehicle belonging to Saudi-backed militants shows a poster that reads, “martyr commander brigadier general Self Abd al-Rab al-Shadady.” Al-Shadady” was recently killed in clashes in Marib, Yemen, June 19, 2021. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

On Friday, the media bureau of the Houthis’ Operations Command Center published a video showing some of its victories in al-Bayda. Several senior AQAP commanders were killed or captured in the battles, including the infamous Abu Dharr al-Tayabi, Tawfiq al-Farawi and Othman Ahmad Abdullah al-Mushdali. A spokesman for Ansar Allah said:

Despite having mobilized members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Daesh (IS) Takfiri terrorist groups, Saudi [Arabia] failed and has so far reaped nothing other than defeat on every front. The coalition has received severe blows in al-Bayda, even though it has hired al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorists.”

But Ansar Allah is far from a decisive victory. Fierce clashes continue near Lahj province and coalition warplanes continue to pound al-Bayda.

US cooperation with a Jihadi recruiter

According to members of the Houthi negotiating delegation, who spoke to MintPress on condition of anonymity, the escalation in al-Bayda is being used to pressure Ansar Allah to halt its advance on the oil-rich Marib province and to force it to accept conditions that Saudi Arabia and Lenderking’s envoy have imposed on Ansar Allah as a precondition for a peace deal.

For their part, the Houthis have promised to retaliate by resuming drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi oil and military targets in the Kingdom’s southern provinces, according to Brigadier General Abed Al-Thor and General Aziz Rashid, who told MintPress that military pressure on the Kingdom will only be increased in the wake of the recent Saudi escalation.

The attacks on al-Bayda come in the wake of meetings between the Saudi-backed vice president of Yemen, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, and Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces. Cooper pushed for intelligence sharing and support for armed militant groups under the banner of curbing the arming of the Houthis by the Iranian government.

Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar
Al-Ahmar speaks to journalists during a 2011 press conference in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | AP

Al-Ahmar has been tied to various extremist groups in Yemen and, according to Reuters, “The Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunni Islamists gained strength, particularly under … al-Ahmar, who built a power base in the army. Jihadist fugitives formed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” According to a 2000 New York Times report, al-Ahmar even “traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s to meet Osama bin Laden, and assisted in recruiting militants from across the Muslim world for the Afghan struggle.”

The U.S. has long been involved in the training and arming of militants in Yemen, whom it saw as a hedge against Ansar Allah. Al-Ahmar has publicly praised the U.S. for cooperating with him to combat what he called “the Iranian project.”

Grim prospects for peace

On July 1, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the United States was “beyond fed up” with the Houthis’ advance in Marib and laid the blame for the humanitarian situation in Yemen squarely at the feet of the Houthis, claiming it was they who failed to work with the “other parties … who are actively working towards peace,” a reference to Saudi Arabia and its allies in the country.

Price’s statements and the Biden administration’s about-face on Yemen has raised questions among activists struggling to stop the war, especially as the U.S. has largely refused calls to stop arming Saudi Arabia amid a devastating civilian death toll, and now seems to be doubling down on its commitment to a military solution to the conflict, falling back on its habit of supporting armed militant groups that it used to devastating effect in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The Biden administration should have stopped providing weapons and training to the warring parties to ensure that the war would not continue, and not support one at the expense of the other, so logic and reality say,” Dala al-Matari, an activist from the Stop the Bombing of Yemen campaign said. Like many Yemenis, al-Matari believes that President Biden used his seeming opposition to the highly controversial war as a trump card to boost his chances in last year’s presidential election.

For its part, Ansar Allah has outright accused the Biden administration of giving a green light to Saudi forces to attack al-Bayda so that it can more easily provide al-Qaeda and IS with weapons and intelligence information. Officials in Sana’a say the Biden administration is playing with fire by not only destroying peace efforts but also resettling and supporting al-Qaeda, especially amid a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan.

Dhaif Allah al-Shami — the spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni government run jointly by Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress, the largest political party in the country — said that the United States had “run the recent military escalation in al-Bayda.” He accused the Biden administration of being behind the plan, stating: “The United States, which falsely and wrongly claims to be concerned with peace in Yemen, is [the one] fueling the bitter clashes in the al-Zahir district of the province.”

Major General Nasser Al-Atif, minister of defense in the Ansar Allah-led government, said in a statement on Monday:

We have a new strategy to face the new Saudi escalation that will cost the coalition a heavy price if they continue to support terrorist elements, and this is something they should understand well. Saudi Arabia and the United States claim that they are keen on peace, stopping the war, and addressing the inhumane issues, but in fact they are talking all this just for media consumption and the exploitation of international and regional positions.

What Just Happened In Jordan?

By Andrew Korybko

Source

What Just Happened In Jordan?

Last weekend’s arrest of several prominent people in Jordan, including the unofficial house arrest of former Crown Prince Hamzah, on suspicion of conspiring to destabilize the country in possible coordination with foreign intelligence agencies is more than likely a preemptive security operation aimed at thwarting a latent threat and not an urgent response to what some have feared was an imminent regime change attempt.

An Unexpected Conspiracy In The Heshemite Kingdom

Jordan is one of those few countries that’s friends with everyone and enemies with no one, which is why the world paid attention last weekend after the arrest of several prominent people on suspicion of conspiring to destabilize the country in possible coordination with foreign intelligence agencies. This included the unofficial house arrest of former Crown Prince Hamzah, who subsequently released footage of himself condemning alleged corruption in the monarchy that he claimed was responsible for worsening his citizens’ living standards, after which he pledged loyalty to King Abdullah II to de-escalate the crisis (presumably while under pressure). Former Crown Prince Hamzah had also reportedly met with some tribal leaders who’ve purportedly been unhappy with the stagnant – if not, according to some accounts, gradually deteriorating – socio-economic situation in the Kingdom. Amman has since banned all coverage of this palace scandal on traditional and social media in an attempt to quell the uncertainty that it provoked in this so-called “oasis of regional stability”.

A Saudi, “Israeli”, Or Joint Saudi-”Israeli” Coup Attempt?

These fast-moving developments prompted a lot of speculation about what might really be going on behind the scenes, especially concerning the possible role of foreign intelligence agencies. It can’t be known for sure, but it doesn’t seem like there was any imminent regime change attempt that was thwarted at the last possible minute by the security services. Rather, it appears to be the case that the government staged a preemptive security operation after finally obtaining enough indisputable evidence that something foul was afoot, hoping to nip this latent threat in the bud long before it blooms. Some have suggested that the connections that two of the detained individuals have with Saudi Arabia hints at Riyadh’s covert involvement in recent events. Others, meanwhile, saw a hidden “Israeli” hand behind everything due to the Mossad ties that the businessman who reportedly offered to fly former Crown Prince Hamzah out of the country is alleged to have. It’s unlikely, however, that those secretly allied governments played any significant role in what just happened in Jordan.

Interpreting The Reported Foreign Intelligence Connections

It’s an open secret that foreign intelligence agencies, especially those based and/or active in the Mideast, cultivate a broad network of agents, informants, and “useful idiots”. Neither Saudi Arabia nor “Israel” have any serious problems with Jordan that can’t be amicably resolved, and therefore wouldn’t benefit from a destabilizing regime change in the neighboring kingdom between them. It’s therefore likely the case that while both of their intelligence agencies probably at least have some indirect presence close to the Jordanian royal family, they each lack the strategic motivation whether unilaterally or jointly with one another to overthrow King Abdullah II. In all likelihood, they might have been aware of former Crown Prince Hamzah’s recent meetings with increasingly unhappy tribal leaders and perhaps even his speculative resentment at being passed over for the throne by the current King in favor of the latter’s son in 2004, but it’s doubtful that they sought to operationalize this in any way. They likely only observed and monitored it, that’s all.

A Possible Disruption To The “Phased Leadership Transition”?

This brings the analysis around to discussing the domestic situation in Jordan. Many people are reportedly unhappy with everything there, and have allegedly been so for quite a while already, but the majority of the population is also loyal to the royal family and doesn’t seem to harbor any serious aspirations of replacing it with a republican form of government or any other. Like all monarchies, Jordan will inevitably undergo a “phased leadership transition” one way or another when power is transferred from the current King to his successor at some point in the future, but it’s here where the security services might have feared that a speculatively resentful former Crown Prince Hamzah might try to make a last-ditch move in an attempt to reassert what he and his unclear network of supporters (likely a combination of civil society elements, tribal leaders, and perhaps even some members of the royal family) believe is his rightful claim to the throne. They therefore probably acted preemptively in order to thwart that scenario before it had a chance to materialize.

Concluding Thoughts

As it stands, Jordan’s stability doesn’t seem threatened. Palace intrigue is normal in any monarchy, just like intrigue between members of a democracy’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) is too, but it was nevertheless unexpected that something so dramatic took place in Jordan last weekend since few thought that such intrigue had became so intense to warrant such a high-profile security response. At the very least, former Crown Prince Hamzah’s reported closeness with increasingly frustrated but also supposedly influential tribal leaders was a cause of serious concern for the Kingdom’s security services since they feared that it represented a latent regime change threat which might materialize in the midst of the inevitable “phased leadership transition” from King Abdullah II to his son sometime in the future. There might even be a bit more to it than just that, but it’s extremely unlikely that any such speculation will ever be confirmed. For now, King Abdullah II doesn’t seem to have anything to worry about except for the economy.

Analyzing Saudi Arabia’s Changing Attitude Towards Former Allies & Enemies

By Denis Korkodinov

Source

Analyzing Saudi Arabia

There is a huge possibility that the kingdom will nevertheless reconsider some of the directions of its foreign policy, given that the new US President Joe Biden and the head of the American State Department Antony Blinken began to exert tremendous pressure on Riyadh, demanding, in particular, to complete the war in Yemen.

A key feature of the development of the Middle East, from the mid-1970s to the present, is its direct dependence on the global hydrocarbon market. Nevertheless, based on the new geopolitical reality and the existing uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MENA states are forced to significantly reduce their costs and abandon projects related to ensuring regional interests. Saudi Arabia, which for a long time positioned itself as the leading donor for the overwhelming majority of states, is also forced to experience economic difficulties. Such a picture can negatively affect the kingdom’s ability to ensure the realization of its own regional interests and forces it to reconsider its relations with former enemies and allies. First of all, this concerns Iran and Syria.

The main stumbling block between the countries is the draft political settlement of the Syrian crisis. Official power in Damascus, are loyal to the Iranian Ayatollah regime. Riyadh, especially since the beginning of the period of the so-called “Arab Spring”, has been pursuing the goal of reducing Tehran’s influence in the region, but it no longer regards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an ideological adversary. Differences in views with Iran are the main source of existing problems on the path to normalizing Syrian-Saudi relations. However, there is a huge possibility that the kingdom will nevertheless reconsider some of the directions of its foreign policy, given that the new US President Joe Biden and the head of the American State Department Antony Blinken began to exert tremendous pressure on Riyadh, demanding, in particular, to complete the war in Yemen. It is quite clear that such a requirement is deliberately impracticable, primarily for political reasons. Thus, the withdrawal of Saudi troops from Yemen may cause another escalation of the conflict, which, in principle, is already clearly visible in the situation in the province of Marib. Of course, this development of events does not meet the interests of the Saudi monarchy, which is especially sensitive to attacks carried out by the Ansar Allah movement both inside and outside Yemen. It should also be noted that the withdrawal from Yemen risks undermining the position of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In addition, Washington is seeking to re-establish a nuclear deal with Iran, thereby placing the kingdom at a real threat. In such conditions, Riyadh needs to urgently transform its foreign policy, including towards Syria.

On March 1, 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov became the first “extra-regional” high-ranking diplomat to make an official visit to Riyadh and meet in person with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the United States announced a series of anti-Saudi sanctions. Moscow is highly counting on the kingdom’s assistance in recognizing the new Libyan government and resolving the Syrian crisis. According to Russia, this would serve as an international guarantee that the region can soon return to a peaceful life and forget about the time of the protracted Arab Spring. In turn, Riyadh is interested in using Moscow as a mediator in negotiations with Damascus. In addition, the kingdom pursues the goal of determining the direction of its further path in the international arena and finding a “spare ally” in the person of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Initially taking an irreconcilable position in relation to official Damascus, Saudi Arabia is gradually beginning to change its mind and is ready for a dialogue with Bashar al-Assad, including within the framework of the League of Arab States, from which Syria was excluded in 2011. Now Riyadh is considering the possibility of resuming Damascus’s membership in the “Arab family”, but the timeframe for the implementation of this plan is still unclear. So, according to a former employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, retired Colonel Abdullah Mohsen Lafi al-Shammari, this may not happen before the presidential elections in Syria to be held in December 2021. In addition, the question of whether Damascus will want to return to the Arab League raises great doubts. In any case, now Russia and Iran are almost completely compensating Syria for all the costs that could be borne by the member countries of the international Arab organization.

One can, of course, consider that the starting point of such a sharp turn in Saudi diplomacy is the “destructive” policy of US President Joe Biden, who, having attacked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with harsh criticism, called this approach a “recalibration.” However, a former member of the General Staff of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad al-Harbi, said there is an understanding in the Saudi court that the American “condemnation strategy” is part of a larger geopolitical game. Kuwaiti expert Abdul Mohsen al-Shammari is of the same opinion. At least no one in Riyadh views the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as a serious reason for breaking off relations with Washington. Based on the principle of “real politics,” the Saudi court will not revise the format of cooperation with the White House in the next 30-50 years, even if force majeure circumstances arise in the form of a global conflict.

By putting pressure on Mohammad bin Salman, Washington, apparently, hopes for his categoricality, primarily in issues related to Iran and Russia. Joe Biden dislikes that Riyadh has questioned the US plan to reopen the nuclear deal with Tehran. In addition, the royal family’s interest in developing a constructive dialogue with Moscow also raises concerns in the White House administration. At the same time, Washington’s anti-Saudi rhetoric can be viewed as a kind of manifestation of jealousy.

Recently, US President Joe Biden sanctioned strikes against Iranian targets in Syria. This was a kind of signal for Saudi Arabia, which the US administration thus asked to join its military campaign. And, apparently, in Riyadh they are in no hurry to welcome this “invitation”, preferring to renew good relations with Damascus, but at the same time not to offend Washington. This opinion was confirmed by the Saudi expert Mohammed al-Harbi and his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdul Mohsen al-Shammari.

It is also worth noting that Russia and Saudi Arabia are trying to put pressure on the United States to ease sanctions on Syria in accordance with the “Caesar’s Law.” Our countries agree that Caesar’s Law is generally toxic to regional security and stability. In particular, due to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria, the parties to the conflict may attempt another escalation and shift the field of armed struggle to other states. Recent negotiations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, touched upon, among other things, this problem.

Saudi Arabia is ready to reconsider its relations not only with Syria, but also with Turkey, the political tension with which has become especially aggravated after the events of October 2018. Ankara and Riyadh actually took diametrically opposed positions in the international arena. In just two years, more than 20 Turkish schools have been closed in Mecca and Medina, and imports of Turkish goods into the kingdom in December 2020 reached an all-time low of $13.5 million, about 9 percent of imports in the same period in 2019. However, the situation began to change. Paradoxically, the reason for this was the results of the Second Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At least Riyadh positively assessed the use of Turkish drones during the conflict as a tool for enforcing peace and in March 2021 expressed its intention to purchase 8 Bayraktar TB2 complexes from Ankara, which was officially confirmed by Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

Saudi expert Mohammad al-Harbi, speaking about the transformation of foreign policy approaches in the Middle East, noted that Riyadh is ready to forget about grievances and start building friendly relations with many regional and non-regional players. According to the Saudi general, under the influence of the global economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, the kingdom’s foreign policy has undergone dramatic changes. Ideological differences with many states are a thing of the past. There is a huge need for the development of a regional anti-crisis communication system. As a first step on this path, Riyadh is pursuing the goal of normalizing relations with Syria, as well as trying to neutralize the “sharp corners” in the dialogue with Turkey with the obligatory mediation of Russia.

The increased Saudi interest in the peace process in Syria certainly plays a defining role in bilateral contacts. Riyadh intends to contribute to the achievement of peace in the Syrian Arab Republic and agrees to a leading position in the country of Bashar al-Assad. Nevertheless, according to Muhammad al-Harbi, the process of revising the Saudi policy towards official Damascus is still at a starting level, and therefore, it is not yet clear what such a policy can lead to. Nevertheless, Riyadh intends to clearly and consistently implement the Syrian-Saudi “warming” project. It is noteworthy that the regime of Bashar al-Assad quite adequately responds to the good aspirations of the kingdom. At the very least, Damascus is showing international sympathy for the Saudis to become guarantors of security in the MENA region, while maintaining Moscow’s mediating role. However, now the main obstacle is the pro-Iranian and pro-Turkish armed formations that have occupied a significant part of Syrian territory. These “unwanted forces” act as a trigger in regional politics and significantly complicate the implementation of the peacekeeping project under the auspices of Saudi Arabia.

It is possible that following the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Riyadh, direct talks may be organized between the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad already directly in Moscow. In any case, the Saudi court feels a great need for such a negotiation process to take place. The Russian Kremlin, apparently, is working out the details of this plan, hoping, thereby, to strengthen its own positions in the region. After all, if Bashar al-Assad and Mohammed bin Salman really meet directly and can shake hands, then this will generate a global resonance, and this act in terms of its geopolitical impact can be comparable to the conclusion of the Versailles Peace Treaty. At the very least, Riyadh and Damascus, through the resumption of bilateral relations, will be able to end the protracted armed conflict that has led to the deaths of more than 2 million ordinary Syrians.

As Tide Turns, Houthis Reject US, Saudi “Peace” Deals for the Recycled Trash They Are

The Houthis — empowered by six years of perseverance amid one of the most violent wars against some of the world’s most powerful military forces, not to mention the ability to reject the proposals set forth by those same powers — have little incentive to accept Riyadh or Washington’s “peace” offers.

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

SANA’A, YEMEN — March 26 marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign in the war-torn country of Yemen and massive demonstrations took place across the country on Friday in commemoration.

Hundreds of thousands of people took the streets in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a near the besieged Sana’a International Airport, and in Hodeida, home of the country’s largest and most important seaport. In fact, thousands of Yemenis gathered in more than twenty city squares across the northern provinces, carrying Yemeni flags and holding banners emblazoned with messages of steadfastness and promises to liberate the entire country from Saudi control. Images of the demonstrations show a sea of Yemeni flags, posters bearing pictures of Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, and the slogan “Six years of aggression — We are ready for the seventh year — We will win.”

“We are here to send a message to both the United States and Saudi Arabia that we are ready to make more sacrifices against the Saudi-led Coalition,” Nayef Haydan, a leader of the Yemeni Socialist Party and member of the Yemeni Shura Council, said. “Any peace initiative must contain a permanent end to the war, lift the blockade completely, include a detailed reconstruction program, and compensate Yemenis,” he added.

Having bombed for six years, Saudis now talk peace

For six years, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the richest countries on the planet, have relentlessly bombed the poorest nation in the Middle East, with crucial assistance from three consecutive U.S. administrations. For 2,160 days — six years straight — the Royal Saudi Air Force and the UAE Air Force have, with American assistance, launched nearly 600,000 airstrikes in Yemen. The bombing has targeted civilian homes, schools, hospitals, roads, funerals, food facilities, factories, mosques, water, pumps and sewage, markets, refugee camps, historical cities, fishing boats, fuel stations, a school bus full of children, and Bedouin camps, making any potential reconstruction very long and costly.

The bombing continues even as talks of new peace initiatives begin to surface. Just last Sunday, March 21, consecutive Saudi airstrikes destroyed a poultry farm in Amran province. The attack was especially egregious as Yemen is suffering from one of the most severe famines in recent history. In fact, the country faces a humanitarian, economic, and political crisis of a magnitude not seen in decades. According to the United Nations, almost 16 million Yemenis live under famine, with 2.5 million children suffering from malnutrition. And thousands of Yemeni state workers now face hunger as their salaries have gone unpaid for years after the Saudi Coalition seized control of the country’s central bank.

Relentless destruction

As the war enters its seventh year, the country’s war-weary masses face grim new milestones. The fastest growing outbreak of cholera ever recorded and outbreaks of swine flu, rabies, diphtheria and measles are among the man-made biological threats facing Yemen. Meanwhile, hundreds of Yemenis are dying of Covid-19 every day amid a collapsed and destroyed health system. Many of these diseases and crises are not natural but have been created, artificially and intentionally, by Saudi Arabia. The U.S.-backed Saudi Coalition has completely or partially destroyed at least 523 healthcare facilities and bombed at least 100 ambulances, according to a report from the Sana’a-based Ministry of Health issued last Tuesday.

Years after Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Yemeni ports, halting life-saving supplies, Yemenis are still suffering from a lack of food, fuel and medicine. Hodeida Port, which is the primary entry point for most of Yemen’s food imports, is still under a strict Saudi blockade; even humanitarian aid is prevented from reaching the port. Sana’a International Airport, which has been bombed heavily by the Saudi Air Force in the past two weeks, has been blocked almost since the war began, leaving thousands of medical patients to die prematurely because they were unable to travel abroad for treatment.

Yemenis for their part, have resorted to targeting the Saudi Coalition in its own backyard. Hoping that taking the battle to the Kingdom will exact enough of a toll on the Saudi monarchy to cause it to rethink its quagmire in Yemen, Houthi missiles and drones have had increasing success in striking Saudi oil infrastructure, airports and military bases, leaving Saudi soil exposed to daily bombardment for the first time since the Al Saud family established their state.

In a recent statement, the spokesman for the Ansar Allah-backed Yemen Army claimed that its Air Force had carried out more than 12,623 drone strikes and reconnaissance operations during the past six years and that, in the past two months alone, 54 high-precision ballistic missiles have been fired at vital Saudi targets, some of them deep inside Saudi Arabia.

Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Abha Airport was attacked by a number of drones, and on Friday, a facility belonging to Saudi state-owned oil giant Aramco in the Saudi capital of Riyadh was hit with six drones, causing damage to the facility, according to Yemen military sources.

Saudi futility

Despite its enormous onslaught, lethal Western weapons, and hundreds of billions of dollars wasted on this war, Saudi Arabia has been unable to crush the will of the Yemeni people, who continue to fight for independence and sovereignty. At the end of March 2015, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman promised confidently that it would all be over within a few weeks and that Ansar Allah would quickly surrender. Now, after six years of war, Bin Salman has not only been unable to defeat The Houthis. Instead, it is The Houthis remain steadfast in their resistance and have grown even more powerful, leading to much consternation in Saudi Arabia and a half-hearted attempt by Bin Salman to ask The Houthis to accept his country’s version of peace and free the Kingdom from the quagmire it has created for itself in Yemen.

As Yemenis make their final push to recapture the strategic city of Marib, amid failed U.S. efforts to protect their Saudi ally from Houthi ballistic missiles and drones, both Washington and Riyadh have presented peace initiatives in an effort to stem the tide of Saudi Coalition military defeats. Those initiatives, however, fail to address or alleviate the humanitarian plight of Yemenis, end the war, or even lift the blockade.

Sour wine in new bottles

On March 12, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking announced an initiative to end the war during a webinar with the Atlantic Council. The plan is essentially a recycled version of a previous proposal presented by Mohammed Bin Salman and the Trump administration one year ago in Oman, dubbed “The Joint Declaration.” It contains a matrix of Saudi principles and conditions aimed at the surrender of the Yemen Army, the Houthis, and their allies, in exchange for an end to the war. Lenderking’s initiative gives no guarantee that the Coalition will take any measures to lift its blockade and end the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On March 22, Saudi Arabia announced its own “ceasefire initiative” to end the war it announced from Washington D.C. six years ago. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan revealed the initiative, which would include a nationwide ceasefire under the supervision of the UN and a partial re-opening of the Sana’a International Airport to certain destinations. It also included a revenue-sharing plan that would guarantee the Saudi government access to a portion of the wealth generated by Yemen’s oil and gas deposits in Marib.

Come back when you’re serious

Both initiatives were rejected by Sana’a. “We reject the American and Saudi peace initiatives because they do not meet the demands of the Yemeni people,” Khaled Al-Sharif, chairman of the Supreme Elections Committee, said of the proposals during a meeting held in Sana’a on Monday. According to many Yemenis, including decision-makers in Sana’a, the U.S. and Saudi plans are not intended to achieve peace, but to advance their political goals in the face of an imminent military failure following six costly years of war. The measures, according to officials in Sana’a, are also about saving face and presenting an untenable plan, so that when it is inevitably rejected the tide of public opinion will turn in favor of the Saudi-led Coalition.

In a live televised speech commemorating the sixth anniversary of the war on Thursday afternoon, ِAbdulMalik al Houthi, the leader of the Houthis, refused Washington and Riyadh’s initiatives, explaining:

The Americans, the Saudis, and some countries have tried to persuade us to barter the humanitarian file for military and political agreements. We refuse that.

Access to oil products, food, medical and basic materials is a human and legal right that cannot be bartered in return for military and political extortion.

We are, [however], ready for an honorable peace in which there is no trade-off for our people’s right to freedom and independence or to Yemen’s legitimate entitlements.”

The Houthi leadership views the policies of the Biden administration as not far removed from those of his predecessor, Donald Trump. “Biden’s administration is following the same policies as those of former President Donald Trump. [They] have not offered a new plan for peace in Yemen. Washington has rather presented an old plan for the resolution of the conflict,” Ansar Allah spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam said, adding that the U.S. plan does not offer anything new. ”The plan has placed conditions for the opening of the Hodeida port and Sana’a International Airport, which are unacceptable,” he concluded.

No retreat, no surrender

The Houthis — empowered by six years of perseverance amid one of the most violent wars against some of the world’s most powerful military forces, not to mention the ability to reject the proposals set forth by those same powers — have little incentive to accept Riyadh’s offer. They see the end to the conflict coming from Washington in the form of an announcement of an immediate ceasefire, a departure of all foreign forces from the country, and lifting of the air and sea blockade as a pre-condition for any deal. “They should have demonstrated their seriousness for the establishment of peace by allowing food and fuel to dock at the port of Hodeida rather than put forth proposals,” Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said.

Over two thousand consecutive days of war have proven that Saudi Arabia is not ready to bring peace to war-torn Yemen. With the exception of a fragile ceasefire in Hodeida and a small number of prisoner releases, negotiations between the two sides generally reach a dead end, as Bin Salman looks for total surrender and nothing else. Numerous negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Yemen have failed, including UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland in 2018. The Yemenis, who are now on the offensive, are unlikely to retreat or surrender. The offensive to recapture oil-rich Marib and sweep the shrinking areas that remain in Saudi control shows no signs of slowing down and, according to high-ranking military officials, the Saudi-controlled gas-rich province of Shabwa will be the next to be liberated. Moreover, retaliatory ballistic missiles and drone attacks against Saudi targets will continue.

Despite recent peace initiatives, the Saudi-led Coalition has only intensified military maneuvers in Yemen this week. Saudi warplanes are seen regularly above highly populated urban areas in the north of the country, dropping hundreds of tons of ordnance, most supplied by the United States. There is a near-consensus among the leadership of the Yemeni army and Ansar Allah that the current U.S. administration is participating in the battles taking place in the oil-rich Marib province. However, the Houthis have not directly accused the Biden administration of being involved in the fighting and are waiting for more evidence to do so. They may not have to wait long. On Tuesday, a sophisticated, U.S.-made MQ-9 Reaper drone was downed with a surface-to-air missile as it was flying over the Sirwah district in Marib.

A Manufactured Crisis: How Saudi Arabia Uses Oil to Bring Yemen to its Knees

By Ahmed AbdulKareem

Source

By manufacturing an oil crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is able to foment political chaos in the country and stir up popular discontent against domestic oil companies, many of which are run by the Houthi-led resistance.

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Yemen’s oil is in thrall to a complex, intertwined network of elites that control the smuggling of fuel imports and new, thriving black markets. Starving Yemen of petroleum products has always been a conspicuous feature of Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on the country, however, the most recent blockade is significantly more extensive than previous ones and comes at a time when a pandemic, diseases, and hunger are spreading rapidly across the country. The most recent byproducts of that blockade: the spread of schistosomiasis, a faltering economy in areas outside of Saudi control, and a dangerous new black market.

Known colloquially as snail fever, schistosomiasis is a rare disease caused by flatworms that thrive in untreated water, something now abundant in Yemen as the diesel fuel needed to power many of the country’s water treatment facilities, especially those in rural areas far removed from any electric grid, has dried up amid the blockade.

In a remote village in the Al-Marawa’ah district, Khalid Abdu looks at his thin daughter, 12-year-old Jamilah, with heartbreak as she lies still in the family’s hut. Jamilah is suffering from abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in her stool. Khalid said she has worms in her stomach, now distended and bloated in stark contrast to her otherwise meager frame. Jamilah was later diagnosed with schistosomiasis according to her family, leaving her with just three to ten more years of life if she doesn’t receive proper medical care, a luxury in her war-torn country.

Yemen Famine
Hammadi Issa | AP

Near the family’s hut, hobbled together from a hodgepodge of mud, bamboo sticks, thatch, and reed, sits an old Toyota Hilux, its low tires and thin coating of dust a testament to the fact that it hasn’t moved for weeks. Khalid blames the lack of fuel for the family’s endless problems. “I can’t drive my daughter to the hospital in Aden or bring water to my family, even the treatment plant that I used to go to is closed because there is no diesel,” he said. “Now, we drink, wash our clothes and cooking utensils, and do everything using that old well.” You see the result,” he said, pointing to Jamilah.

Another grim milestone

As the war in Yemen closes in on yet another grim milestone, the end of its sixth year in March, oil-rich U.S. ally Saudi Arabia continues to prevent oil tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to hospitals, water pumping stations, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging the entire nation into an unending fuel crisis.

The CEO of Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC), Ammar Al-Adrai, told MintPress that at least nine tankers have been trapped in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Port, which sits on the Kingdom’s western seaboard painfully close to the Yemeni border. The tankers, Al-Adrai says, have been held despite being checked and issued permits by both the Saudi-led Coalition and the United Nations. He confirmed that the vessels are loaded with oil derivatives and that some of them have been detained for over nine months, leading to the suspension of more than 50% of the operational capabilities in the service, health, industrial and commercial sectors. 

That lack of fuel has caused an acute shortage of even the most basic goods. Khalid told MintPress that “the price of fruits, vegetables, and medicine is skyrocketing and my farm is defenseless against desertification.” Like many farmers, Khalid, who like his daughter Jamilah shows symptoms of malnutrition, is unable to power the pumps needed to irrigate his fields, leaving him unable to grow his own food with which to feed his family and the desert sands encroaching on his now derelict fields. At least 80% of Yemen’s 28 million-strong population is reliant on food aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the decimation of the remaining agricultural sector is likely to increase that figure.

“The [Yemeni] government is indifferent and apathetic to the suffering of citizens, even in areas under their control,” Khalid said, accusing the Saudi-backed government of Aden of deliberately compounding the suffering through the proliferation of the black market. “Fuel shortages in the northern provinces are caused by the blockade, but in Aden, we don’t understand what’s going on.”

A manufactured oil crisis

By manufacturing an oil crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is able to foment political chaos in the country and stir up popular discontent against domestic oil companies, many of which are run by the Houthi-led resistance. As a sort of grim bonus, the manufactured oil shortages also to incapacitate the Houthi-run port of Hodeida, increasing poverty and unemployment rates and siphoning cash out of the market, according to the Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC). 

YPC released a statement placing the estimated economic damage caused by Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow tankers to unload their cargo at billions of U.S. dollars. The company also said that demurrage fees are now at an unprecedented level of nearly $107 million and that Saudi forces have illegally impounded 72 Yemen-bound oil tankers last year, resulting in an approximately 45% drop in the amount of desperately-needed fuel shipments arriving at Yemeni ports. 

The fuel blockade has not only forced thousands of Yemenis to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see, but it has also left water pumps and treatment plants, and hospital generators without fuel. Most drinking water, particularly in rural areas, is extracted using diesel-powered pumps, while the country’s sizable refugee population survives on water brought in by diesel-powered trucks.

Yemen Fuel Feature photo
Hani Mohammed | AP

Food imports which generally arrive via one of the country’s ports are processed and packaged at diesel-fuel-powered facilities, factories in Hodeida or Aden before being transported across the country or sold locally.

Outside of the country’s coastal cities where more than 60% of the population resides, freight is transported by road leaving remote communities at the mercy of trucks that must traverse roads pockmarked and damaged by airstrikes. The few who are willing to undertake the dangerous journey must contend with the high price and scant availability of fuel, pushing the price and availability of even the most basic commodities – food, water, and medicines – through the roof.

A thriving black market is born

The oil crisis in Yemen certainly isn’t new, but it has been growing worse recently amid a black market boom which is adding to the already miserable quality of life for Yemenis. The Saudi government is flooding southern areas of Yemen under its control with cheap fuel, exacerbating regional tensions and creating an ideal environment for black market petroleum products to boom. The stark disparity between the availability of fuel in Saudi-controlled areas versus areas under Houthi control is also causing predictable economic damage to the ladder, which is unable to compete amid the Saudi-imposed blockade. 

Despite the suffocating siege on the country, petrol products are sold illegally on roadsides, streets, and isolated areas in the south and north of the country alike, often at double the official price with prices in some areas reach 11,000 riyals for 20 liters. These black market petrol products are mixed with water and other materials and enter from Saudi-controlled ports in Aden port and border crossings such as Al-Wadiah outlet, Al-Shahr, and the rich-oil Marib province.

Yemen’s oil is now in large part controlled by a complex network of corrupt officials that control smuggling routes, imports, and black market sales. Many members of these elite groups are also key allies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They not only plunder wealth and destroy the economy, but they put people’s lives and property in danger. People are now forced to seek their fuel from shady black market dealers and store fuel in their homes to get them through tough times. Smuggled petroleum products are sold in residential areas and unlicensed storefronts that do not meet security and safety standards and exacerbate the human cost of the crisis.

The crisis is set amid a backdrop of theft of Yemen’s own of crude oil by the Coalition and Saudi-backed militants, a daily occurrence in the Mari and Shabwa Blocks. Recently, Saudi Arabia brought in heavy drilling equipment made to deepen existing oil wells in Hadramout aimed at increasing the rate of oil extraction there.

The effect of the blockade on Yemen is acute, even when compared to countries that are reeling from U.S. sanctions such as Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, where fuel somehow manages to find its way to citizens. Yemen, though, is completely at the mercy of Saudi Arabia, forcing the  Houthi-backed Yemeni Army to step up their oil war against the Kingdom in the Red Sea and putting sensitive oil facilities deep inside Saudi territory at risk of being targeted as they have been in recent years according to the prominent field commander, Major General Yusef al-Madani, the Commander of the Fifth Military Region, the region responsible for Yemeni coasts and territorial waters.

Mass Starvation Looms as Yemen’s Currency Nears Historic Freefall

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

“Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades,” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres

TAIZ, YEMEN- – Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent an end to the suffering in Yemen. Even those living in areas under the total control of the wealthy Gulf monarchies are facing levels of devastation that harken back to the total destruction of European cities during World War II.

With no functioning government to provide residents with even basic assistance and facing a collapsed economy amid a famine that could soon beset all of Yemen according to the United Nations, the collapse of Yemen’s rial, particularly in Saudi-coalition-controlled areas, is proving to be the coup de grâce that will assure the country faces an apocalyptic level of destruction for years to come.

Her black eyes virtually absent and speaking in a muted voice that is difficult to pick up, Umm Abdu does her best to recount her story to MintPress. She was hiding a bony face and emaciated body in a voluminous black abaya robe and hijab. “I am starving myself to feed my children. It is very difficult to reach for this piece,” the Illiterate mother of six muttered as she held a piece of Roti bread. Umm Abdu lives in a poor neighborhood in Taiz, a city in western Yemen under the control of some of the richest countries in the world.

Yemen famine
Severely malnourished infant Zahra is bathed by her mother in a washtub. Hammadi Issa | AP

After nearly six years of war, Yemen remains home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Millions are hungry and destitute and at least 80% of the population requires humanitarian assistance or protection. Some 13.5 million people face severe food shortages and that number could rise to 16.2 million in 2021, according to International Relief Bodies.

The economy has already collapsed for virtually every Yemeni living in the south, except for the few who managed to profit by working with Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Savings accounts have long been exhausted and by end of November, the rial depreciated to an all-time low of 850 YR to a single U.S. dollar, leaving most of the population unable to afford even the most basic essentials. Like Umm Abdu, people are reducing portion sizes and skipping meals as a kind of “coping strategy index,” one of many tools used to measure food insecurity. Fruit, fish, and meat have become a rare commodity that most can only dream of.

“Even though there is food in the markets, I can’t afford it. Not because we don’t have money, but because of the crazy prices. So we decide to reduce food to keep our children alive,” one shopper told MintPress. However, that strategy may not be enough as food prices are near double where they were in the wake of the recent currency collapse.

According to International organizations, Yemen, particularly areas under the control of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, will return to alarming levels of food insecurity by mid-2020, and a catastrophic food security crisis is looming. They reported that by December 2020, the population facing high levels of acute food insecurity (what they termed IPC Phase 3 and above) would increase from 2 million to 3.2 million people.

An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report from October 2020 covering southern Yemen highlighted how acute malnutrition rates among children under five are now the highest ever recorded in some districts. The analysis reveals a near 10 percent increase in cases of acute malnutrition this year. The greatest increase is in cases of young children suffering from severe acute malnutrition which has increased by 15.5 percent, leaving at least 98,000 children under age five at high risk of dying without urgent treatment.

Situation Report Yemen 11 Nov 2020 pdf edited
Source: IPC Acute malnutrition analysis (Oct 2020)

A stream of statements from leading aid organization officials reflects how dire the situation has become, including a warning from UN Secretary-General António Guterres that “Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades. ”We’ve been warning since July that Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food security crisis. If the war doesn’t end now, we are nearing an irreversible situation and risk losing an entire generation of Yemen’s young children,” said Lisa Grande last month,” the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “The data we are releasing today confirms that acute malnutrition among children is hitting the highest levels we have seen since the war started,” she added.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) raised the alarm about millions of Yemenis risking falling into worsening levels of hunger by mid-2021. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also described the crisis in Yemen as “the world’s worst.” The WFP said in a tweet that millions are trapped in a cycle of conflict and hunger. “Everyday life in Yemen gets harder for millions as the window to prevent famine narrows. We must act now.”

Although a mass famine event may be unlikely in the immediate future, officials in Taiz warned that many areas could soon start to see deaths from famine. Many children already have signs of severe acute malnutrition, the most dire stage of hunger where legs and feet begin to swell. “We all sleep hungry, there is not enough food even for our children,“ Umm Abdu told us.

For Umm Abdu and her husband, 37-year-old Saeed, the rial’s collapse has meant skipping meals. Saeed was educated as an English teacher and had a job as a tour guide at a local travel agency before the war. Since he lost his job after the war began, he’s been making money selling qat – a mild stimulant that many Yemenis chew in the afternoon. However, that money is not nearly enough to cover rent, let alone basic needs. Now, their situation is getting worse as the availability of Qat has decreased dramatically after the weather turned cold three months ago when winter began. After the recent collapse of the rial, the ability to bring home food has become nearly impossible.

Umm Abdu and Saeed are now considering extreme options. Over the past six years, they have seen Yemen’s steady dissolution from a nation hoping to transition to democracy post-Arab Spring, to a nation fragmented and a land of warring statelets, mass suffering, and despair.  Many of their neighbors have resorted to stealing, human trafficking, and selling their organs to make ends meet, or even marrying off their daughters because they are unable to feed them.

A tale of two cities

Officials in Aden, the de facto center of Saudi-Coalition power in Yemen, blame the collapse of currency on the fact that foreign reserves have dried up. According to them, remittances from Yemenis abroad, the largest source of foreign exchange, dropped by up to 70% as a result of the Covid-induced global downturn. But to Omer, a former fighter in “al-Muqawamah” in Aden who was wounded while fighting with Coalition Forces against the Houthis in 2016, these arguments are grossly inaccurate.

Omer believes that Saudi Arabia has a plan to destroy the national currency in order to intentionally accelerate famine.  “Why is there no collapse of the currency in Houthi areas even though they live in conditions worse than us?” The exchange rate divergence between Houthi-controlled Sana’a and coalition-controlled Aden is indeed stark, with the Yemeni rial worth 35% less in Aden than it is in Sana’a.

Omer was one of the thousands of Yemenis that took the streets in Taiz and other areas this week in a mass protest against the continuing deterioration of the economic situation, denouncing the Saudi-led coalition states and demanding they leave the country. The demonstrators accused coalition countries and ousted Yemeni president Abdul Mansour al-Hadi of practicing a policy of starvation to achieve their personal objectives. They chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia and UAE with phrases like “our revolution is a hungry revolution,” “take your aid, and leave us our oil,” “take your donations, and leave us our ports,” and “take your trust fund and leave us our wealth.”

A gloomy future

According to local economists who spoke to MintPress, the reasons behind the collapse of Yemen’s economy and its currency are many and varied but the expansionary monetary policy that has been taken by Saudi Arabia is one of the key drivers of the Yemeni rial’s devaluation.

Local authorities supported by Saudi Arabia have regularly printed new banknotes in order to meet expenses compounded by the purchase of foreign currencies flowing into markets by foreign organizations.

By the end of 2019, the total rial liquidity in circulation in the country was more than three trillion, according to a source in the Aden-based central bank. As of the beginning of 2020, the bank has printed around 300 billion rials in order to address the budget deficit. The government of ousted president Hadi has largely relied on the central bank’s overdraft financing instrument to cover his spending abroad, including rent, travel, and entertainment.

Recently, Saudi’s proxies in southern Yemen have been selling large quantities of newly-printed banknotes in order to purchase foreign currency from the market and replenish their own foreign currency holdings. This has increased downward pressure on the rial’s value and helped drive inflation.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on countries to provide financial assistance to resolve the severe economic crisis in Yemen, saying in a statement issued via his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on the second anniversary of the Stockholm Agreement, “I call on all member states to help address the severe economic crisis in the country.”

Umm Abdu has a gloomy future. She has no faith in the UN or the Saudi proxies in the south, who she described as “drenched in treason.” Nonetheless, she places hope in God and in her fellow Yemenis that her country will be freed. “Where else on Earth can you find a nation that has gone through what has happened in Yemen, occupied by foreigners, destroyed, with famine and epidemics, and yet somehow, we still managed to survive.”

We Are The Terrorists

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source

Yemeni children 49c1e

The Trump administration is reportedly close to moving the Houthi rebels in Yemen onto its official list of designated terrorist organizations with the goal of choking them off from money and resources. The head of the UN’s World Food Program along with many other experts caution that this designation will prolong the horrific war which has claimed over a quarter million lives and create an impenetrable barrier of red tape stopping humanitarian aid from getting to the Yemeni people.

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism.

We are the terrorists. Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and every other nation which has facilitated the horrific mass atrocity in Yemen–this tight globe-spanning power alliance is a terrorist organization the likes of which the world has never seen before. The unfathomably savage and bloodthirsty US empire designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization is the least funny joke that has ever been told.

We are the terrorists. I say “we” instead of our governments because if we are honest with ourselves, we as a civilian population are complicit in this slaughter. The horrors in Yemen are without question the worst thing that is happening in the world right now, yet they comprise barely a blip in our social consciousness. The overwhelming majority of us have seen the pictures and videos of starving Yemeni children, thought something along the lines of “Oh a famine, that’s so sad” and gone back to thinking about sports or whatever other insipid nonsense occupies most of our attention.

We are the terrorists. Yes it is true that we have been propagandized into our complicity with this terrorism and if the news media were doing its purported job Yemen would be front and center in our attention, but we are still complicit. We are still participating in it, still living in a society that is woven of the fabric of slaughter and brutality without rising up and using the power of our numbers to force a change. Just because you are unaware that you sleep on a bed of butchered children doesn’t mean you’re not lying in it.

We are the terrorists. But we don’t need to be.

We can begin waking up together. Waking up our friends and neighbors, spreading consciousness of what’s going on, raising awareness of the horrors our governments are perpetrating in Yemen and in other nations in the name of imperialist domination, helping each other see through the veils of propaganda to how much life and how many resources are being spent on inflicting unspeakable acts of terror upon our world instead of benefiting humanity.

The US government could force an end to the horrors in Yemen almost immediately if it really wanted to. If maintaining unipolar hegemony were suddenly advanced by giving the Houthis victory in Yemen instead of fighting to ensure Washington-aligned rule, the Saudis would withdraw and the war would be over within days. We could make this happen if we could spread enough awareness of the reality of what’s happening in Yemen.

Break the silence on Yemen. Pressure Biden to fulfil his campaign pledge to end the war which was initiated under the Obama-Biden administration. Oppose US imperialism. Weaken public trust in the mass media which refuse to give us a clear picture of what’s going on in the world. Help people realize that their perception of reality is being continually warped and distorted by the powerful.

We end our role in the terrorism of the empire by awakening the citizens of that empire to its acts of terror.

Biden Signals a Desire To End the Yemen War. Here’s Why Yemenis Aren’t Buying It

Joe Biden Foreign Policy

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

As news broke that Joe Biden almost certainly won the U.S. presidential election, some Americans became hopeful that the new administration could hearken in an era of calm in the Middle East. In Yemen, however, that sentiment was not shared.

Most Yemenis have little hope that the new White House will end the blockade and the devastating war in their country, which is now nearing the end of its sixth year. Nor are they hopeful that the announcement that U.S. support for the Saudi military intervention in Yemen could end during Biden’s presidential term will materialize into action after he is sworn into office on January 20, 2021.

Ibrahim Abdulkareem, who lost his 11-month-old daughter, Zainab when a Saudi warplane dropped an American-made bomb on his home in Sana`a in 2015, told MintPress that Biden’s statement is not good news to him, ”I am not optimistic that Biden will stop supplying Bin Salman with bombs like the ones that killed my daughter,” he said. Like Ibrahim, Yemeni civilians are losing their loved ones, homes, and infrastructure to American weapons supplied to the Saudi Coalition in droves, and there is little hope that president-elect Biden will end support, including the supply of weapons and military equipment, to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Iranian boogeyman

In fact, officials in both Sana’a and Aden – the respective seats of power for the opposing sides in Yemen’s war – see little chance that Biden will take action to end the conflict given the current geopolitical reality in the Middle East. That reality includes the fever of normalization with Israel sweeping across Arab governments, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are no exception. Closely related is the ongoing obsession from concurrent U.S. administrations with trying to contain so-called “Iranian influence” in the Middle East and linking the war in Yemen with that effort.

Yemeni politicians have called on Biden to change how the White House views the conflict and to stop treating it as a proxy war with Iran over influence. Unfortunately, it has been reduced down to that binary argument, with U.S. officials on both sides of the aisle blaming the entire affair on Iran, reductively claiming that the Houthis are an Iranian proxy, and framing the entire conflict in an Iran-centric geopolitical context – and not the true context of foreign aggression and a battle to control the strategic areas and some of the region’s most lucrative untapped oil and gas reserves.

American support

Most Yemenis view American support for the Saudi-led coalition not only as fueling the fighting but also view the American government as a party to serious war crimes in their country, directly at fault for the devastating humanitarian crisis they now face. Yemen is on the verge of yet another countdown to catastrophe as it faces a devastating famine within a few short months according to a recent report by the UN issued on Wednesday. That famine, in large part, stems not only from the Saud-led war and blockade, but from drastic cuts to humanitarian food and aid programs implemented by President Trump.

Since March 2015, when the war began, rather than halting weapons sales or pressuring Saudi Arabia diplomatically, the White House instead opted to ignore calls from the international community to address the suffering of Yemeni civilians. Worse yet, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been given carte blanche to carry out the most brazen and egregious violations of international law and collective murder in modern history without so much as a scolding from the United States.

he Saudi-led war has killed more than 100,000 people since January 2016, according to a report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED). That figure does not include those who have died in the humanitarian disasters sparked by the conflict, particularly famine and the thousands of tons of weapons, most often supplied by the United States, that have been dropped on hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants.

Thirsty for peace

If Biden is serious about reaching a diplomatic end to the war, he has a real chance to add ending one of the twenty-first century’s most violent conflicts to his presidential legacy. Yemen is thirsty for peace. Both the resistance forces led by Ansar Allah and the Saudi-backed militant groups’ that oppose them have signaled a desire to reach a political settlement, a sentiment, of course, not readily reflected by the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Those governments, however, do face increasingly dwindling support among the same forces in Yemen that allegedly invited them to intervene in their country under the auspices of returning ousted president Abdul Mansour Hadi to power. Now, even among the coalition’s staunchest allies, Saudi Arabia’s actions are increasingly seen as little more than an effort to balkanize the nation into regions and factions that can more easily be managed.

Among the Houthis (Ansar Allah), the most stalwart of forces opposed to a foreign presence in Yemen, an attitude of reconciliation pervades. Throughout the conflict, the group has proven its propensity for diplomatic rapprochement and a desire to work within the structures of international mediators to negotiate an end to the war. According to high-ranking officials in Sana’a, preparations for negotiations are being made in case the Biden administration is serious about ending the war.

However, the group’s leadership is taking Biden’s statement with a grain of salt. A wait and see approach persists among decision-makers in Sana’a, and rumors are flying that Biden may work with Yemen’s Brotherhood, a Saudi Arabia ally.

Untangling the quagmire

Trump’s own legacy in the Middle East is another factor that Biden will have to maneuver if he wishes to untangle the complex quagmire that is Yemen. The Trump administration recently notified Congress that it approved the sale of more than $23bn in advanced weapons systems, including F-35 fighter jets and armed drones, to the UAE, Saudi Arabia’s most prominent partner in its war on Yemen.  The Houthis have played down the announcement, saying that consent is one thing, but delivery is another entirely and if the Biden administration does go through with the sale, they will consider it a crime against Yemen.

High-ranking Houthi officials told MintPress that while they do not expect the president-elect to recognize their right to sovereignty, they are hopeful that the situation in Yemen will be re-assessed by the incoming administration and that the Houthis will no longer be seen as a threat to Washington or their allies in the region, and there is some evidence to substantiate that idea.

Every Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia and the UAE has been retaliatory, not preemptive, in nature. Even the attack on the Saudi Aramco facility on September 14,  2019, came in response to ongoing Saudi Coalition military maneuvers inside Yemen. Prior to the 2015 Saudi-led Coalition war on their country, the Houthis did not show animus towards the Kingdom, nor a desire to target it militarily. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia a major exporter of the same kind of jihadist ideology that drives groups like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, groups that the Kingdom has used to try to undermine Houthi power, making the Houthis a natural ally to any force working to contain those organizations.

Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen in March of 2015 under the leadership of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman. Salman claimed his objective in launching the war was to roll back the Houthis and reinstate ousted former Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled the country to Saudi Arabia following popular protests during the Arab Spring. From the moment the highly unpopular war began, Saudi officials have worked hard to frame it as a necessary step in liberating the Arab country from Iran, repeating the still unfounded claim that the Houthis are an Iranian proxy.

Continued pressure on Yemen will inevitably force the Houthis to lean more heavily into their relationships with Iran, Russia, and China, all perceived enemies of the United States, as they indeed have done under the Trump presidency. Iran’s newly appointed ambassador to Yemen arrived in Sana’a last month, and prior to that, the Houthis sent an ambassador to Tehran. Syria and Qatar are expected to follow and reopen their embassies in Sana’a according to Houthi officials, and if the staggering human cost of the war is not enough, that should give Biden an incentive not to allow the protracted conflict to carry on.

War-Weary Yemenis See Threat in Israel’s Increasingly Public Role in Their Country

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

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Yemen feature photo
Many in Yemen fear that Israel’s ambitions in their country don’t end at the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and rumors are circulating that land grabs reminiscent of those in Palestine could soon hit Yemen’s shores.

Israeli battleships now sit side by side with Emirati corvettes ominously docked in Hodeida’s territorial waters in a blatant sign of Israel’s increasingly visibly role in the Saudi-led Coalition’s half a decade long war in Yemen. The ships also represent something else to residents in Western Yemen, where a Houthi-led commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on Thursday turned into railed a demonstration against what many see as an imminent threat to the very identity and soul of Islam, their autonomy, security, and to their brethren in Palestine.

Despite an ongoing fuel crisis, the threat of COVID-19, and one of the bloodiest wars currently raging anywhere on the planet, massive rallies took place across most of Yemen’s provinces. Protesters shouted slogans against French President Emmanuel Macron, whose public defense of cartoons mocking Islam’s holiest figure, Prophet Muhammad, under the guise of free speech is seen as hypocritical coming from a country where questioning details of the Holocaust can land someone in jail. Demonstrators, and indeed many Muslims across the region, see the events in France as hiding a more nefarious goal of dehumanizing Muslims and gutting the identity of its adherents from within.

Demonstrators carried green flags, a symbol of the Prophet Muhammad, and banners emblazoned with slogans against Macron, the Saudi coalition, and its new Israeli partners. In Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a, where the largest demonstrations took place, hundreds of thousands gathered in the southern district of Al-Sabaean. Expats from 20 countries, including Sudan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Bangladesh took part in the protest. A delegation from the southern Saudi province of Najran even joined.

The events were organized primarily by the Houthis and Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al-Houthi took to the podium to give a televised address to a massive audience in which he warned that western intelligence agencies in both the United States and France were involved in supporting the same extremist Salafi interpretation of Islam that is the widely practiced in Saudi Arabia, in part to tarnish the image of the religion and to justify wars in Muslim countries.

Al-Houthi also warned that distortion and misinterpretation of Islamic teachings had created a deep rift among Muslims. “Western [countries] have used such deviation to insult the Holy Qur’an and Islam. There is no mercy or sympathy whatsoever in Western civilization. They trample on human societies, deprive people of their freedom, plunder their wealth and occupy their lands, and then lecture others on human rights,” he said.

The massive demonstrations came despite threats of violence from the very same elements that Al-Houthi warned of. In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s rallies, police implemented special measures to ensure security during proceedings, including the banning of large trucks from central Sana’a and the establishment of additional checkpoints in the Yemeni capital and other provinces.

An aerial shot shows supporters of Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, stand around large banners with Arabic writing that reads, “Muhammad messenger of Allah” during a celebration of moulid al-nabi, the birth of Islam’s prophet Muhammad in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Despite the additional security measures, Hassan Zaid, the Houthi Minister for Youth and Sports, was assassinated on Tuesday as he drove his car through Sana’a. His 11-year-old daughter was seriously injured in the attack. Zaid was one of the most influential political opponents to Saudi Arabia and was wanted by the Kingdom, which offered a $10 million bounty for information leading to his capture. Houthi security forces said that they had also thwarted dozens of other planned attacks on Thursday’s demonstration.

Israeli settlements in Yemen?

The sheer scale of this week’s demonstrations dwarfed similar rallies that have taken place in previous years, not only due to Macron’s comments in France but because of fierce opposition to Israel’s new partnership with the UAE and other wealthy Gulf states, and its increasingly active presence in Yemen.

Yemenis fear that Israel not only seeks control of the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait, efforts that MintPress has covered in previous months, but also that it seeks a permanent footprint inside of Yemen and hopes to replace the original inhabitants of the islands and other coastal cities with Israeli settlers in a move reminiscent of the land grabs that led to the eventual annexation of land in what is now Israel.

In October, Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree warned that Israel was planning to naturalize tens of thousands of Yemeni-born Jews, emphasizing that such a scenario posed a grave threat to Yemen’s national security. Saree presented a number of National Security Agency documents that were seized when the Houthis took control from the government of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled Yemen for 33 years.

Those documents detailed visits by Israeli officials to Yemen, facilitated by the UAE, in which a number of economic, cultural, and agricultural agreements were brokered alongside an agreement to open Yemeni airspace to Israeli aircraft. The most dangerous documents, according to Saree, relate to “the modernization of the Yemeni military forces.”

According to the documents, Israeli diplomat Bruce Kashdan arrived in Sana’a on an unannounced visit on July 14 of 2007, which lasted 48 hours. During that trip, Kashdan met with Yemeni military and security top brass who are relatives of Saleh. The Israeli official left Sana’a International Airport on July 16, 2007. The visit had been arranged by Yemeni officials in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates. Kashdan, who was also serving as a coordinator of relations between Tel Aviv and Dubai at that time, had also visited Yemen on February 2, 2005.

A delegation from the Israeli Knesset also visited Sana’a in March 1996 and received remarkable hospitality given the Yemeni government’s official stance towards Israel at the time. Knesset members met with several senior security and civilian officials headed by former president Saleh. Many Israeli delegations visited Yemen between 1995 and 2000 under the cover of tourism, commerce, and investment, according to the National Security Agency documents.

Saree accused the UAE and Israel of reviving a project that granted Israeli citizenship to more than 60,000 Yemenis. According to a memorandum to the UAE’s foreign minister in 2004 by Hamad Saeed Al-Zaabi, the Emirati ambassador in Sana’a, an Israeli delegation visited the Yemeni capital as part of normalization efforts and presented demands to build a museum celebrating Yemeni Jews in Sana’a among other moves that included naturalizing 45,000 Yemeni Jews as Israeli citizens. The Emirati ambassador described the move as part of a broader effort being pushed by the United States.

Western Anger as China, Russia Elected to UN Human Rights Council and Saudi Arabia Rejected

By Alan Macleod

Source

The rejection of Saudi Arabia, the only country that did not receive the required number of votes from UN member states, has been seen as a repudiation of the Kingdom’s decreasing international support.

In a secret ballot at the United Nations yesterday, Saudi Arabia was rejected for a position on the body’s 47-country Human Rights Council (HRC). The only country that did not receive the required number of votes from member states, the failure has been seen as a repudiation of the Kingdom’s abysmal human rights record and its decreasing international support.

15 positions were filled yesterday, although most of them were pre-selected. Only the Asia-Pacific region faced an open vote from UN member states. Pakistan received 169 “yes” votes out of a possible 193, Uzbekistan 164, Nepal 150, and China 139. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, received just 90.

Saudi Arabia’s allies in the West had actually been campaigning to halt the election of states that draw Washington’s ire, including China, Russia, and Cuba, trying to organize opposition against those nations, but were ultimately unsuccessful. China received 41 fewer votes than it did in 2016, amid increased global concern over the alleged treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, but ultimately comfortably surpassed the 50 percent threshold for admission.

U.N. Watch, a western NGO that has a history of attacking Washington’s enemies and has condemned the UN for its supposed antisemitic bias over its criticism of Israeli human rights abuses, claimed that “electing these dictatorships as UN judges on human rights is like making a gang of arsonists into the fire brigade.”

The reaction from the U.S. government, which left the HRC in 2018 over its perceived bias against Israel, was similarly angry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement claiming that the election of countries like China, Russia, Cuba (and Venezuela in 2019) has shown that the institution is now broken beyond repair.https://cdn.iframe.ly/qY2oDPd?iframe=card-small&v=1&app=1

“The United States’ commitment to human rights consists of far more than just words,” Pompeo said, as he boasted of employing sanctions against all those nations. “Our commitments are spelled out clearly in the UN’s Declaration, and in our record of action. The United States is a force for good in the world, and always will be,” he added. Yet earlier this year Pompeo himself said that the U.S. should abandon most of the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration and focus only on property rights and religious freedoms.

The spin war

Much of the media today has been in a furor that the “world’s worst abusers” (The Times) like China, Russia, and Cuba are set to join or rejoin the council. The Guardian suggested that the institution’s credibility is at stake. Yet in the talk of human rights violators joining the council, the election of other states with questionable records was never discussed. Bolivia, whose murderous far-right government came to power in a U.S.-backed military coup in November, was also elected, but with no fanfare or condemnation. As was Cameroon, whose dictatorial head of state Paul Biya has been in charge of the country since Gerald Ford was president of the United States. Other states with contentious records included were Narendra Modi’s India, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, and the Qatari dictatorship.

Both the Guardian, left, and the Times, right, failed to report on other human rights violators being elected to the council

Saudi Arabia was elected twice to the HRC between 2014-2016 and 2017-2019. Its new failure to secure more than 90 votes is a sign of increasing discontent with its policies in Yemen, declared the world’s worst humanitarian disaster by the United Nations, where 24 million people (80 percent of the country) need some form of humanitarian assistance. Yet under pressure from the U.S. government, aid has been cut to just 25 cents per person, per day. The kingdom has played a key role in stymying any international action to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe, using its position at the HRC to block UN inquiries into its own abuses in Yemen.

Internally, the country is often described as the most repressive regime on the planet, with millions of people suffering under slave-like conditions, according to Human Rights Watch. While on the council, it attempted to block a resolution that condemned the use of torture by law enforcement and reaffirms the human rights of LGBT people. Inside Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty.

Ultimately, while yesterday’s election is the sign of a slightly more multipolar world, the results are unlikely to seriously change the direction of the organization, with the United Nations constantly blocked from taking action unless all of the world’s superpowers allow it.

With an Eye on Balkanization, Israel throws Support Behind Separatist Militants in Southern Yemen

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

ADEN, YEMEN — As the war in Yemen nears its sixth year, the situation in the war-torn nation is escalating as Israel enters the fray, throwing its support behind the Emirati-backed separatist militant group, the Southern Transitional Council (STC). The STC has already effectively captured Aden and more recently seized Socotra Island. Israel’s entrance into the already convoluted and crowded theater is likely to open the door for further escalation, particularly in the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait.

Amid the ever-growing normalization of relations between Tel Aviv and wealthy Gulf Aab states, the Emirati-backed STC, now the de facto authorities in the south of the country, have already established a secret relationship with Israel encouraged by the United Arabic Emirates (UAE) according to informed sources in Aden. Despite strong opposition from leaders inside the STC and from Southern Yemen’s public, the UAE-backed group receives various forms of support from Israel, including weapons and training facilitated by the UAE following secret talks between STC officials and Tel Aviv sponsored by the UAE.

Prior to that, the Deputy Head of the STC Hani bin Breik announced that the group has a willingness to establish relations with Israel, saying “the peace with Israel is “coveted and aspiring” for them. However, he claimed that any relationship with Israel should be within the framework of the Arab peace initiative made by the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, but he stressed their willingness to establish relations with any country that helps them to “restore their state.”

The development comes after the Warsaw Conference held in February 2019 that ostensibly focused on security in the Middle East. There, Khaled al-Yamani, Yemen’s former foreign minister, executed a very public warming of relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In its wake, U.S. peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who also served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and advisor on Israel, remarked that the friendly incident could be the first step in establishing cooperation between Yemen and Israel.

In a related development, Israel’s most widely-read newspaper, Israel Today, claimed that Tel Aviv has been conducting secret meetings with the Emirati-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), reporting that the STC are “secret friends” to Israel. In fact, that positive attitude towards Israel has been confirmed by the Deputy Head of the STC himself in a video posted on YouTube.

Superficially, Tel Aviv’s support aims to help the STC against the local forces that oppose them, but the fact is that Israel is trying to establish a foothold on the Yemeni Islands in the Bab-El-Mandeb Strait. The Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab are vital interests to Tel Aviv. For their part, the STC needs not only to tighten its control over Yemen’s southern districts and pursue its long-time goal of declaring secession from the north of the country, but they need a gateway to the United States and to the world. Like many Gulf Arab states, the STC has long believed the road to American validation runs through Israel.

STC Yemen Israel HQ

However, southern political leaders who spoke to MintPress realize that relations with Israel will not bring about “an independent state” and that that relationship will be an obstacle in getting public support. Moreover, southerners consider the Palestinian cause to be the cause for all, a situation that STC will not succeed in changing. They say that the Palestine issue is one that concerns Muslims as a whole, something that any local force could never hope to change.

Houthi resistance

Of all Yemen’s myriad political forces, tribes, and military powers, the Ansar Allah-led military, is best prepared, and likely the most willing, to take retaliatory action against both the STC and Israel. Ansar Allah, the political wing of Yemen’s Houthis, are committed to the territorial integrity of Yemen and announced that that they would not hesitate to “deal a stinging blow” to Israel in the case that Tel Aviv decides to involve itself in Yemen.

A high-ranking official quoted the words of Ansar Allah leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi when he threatened Israel in November 2011.” Our people will not hesitate to declare jihad (holy war) against the Israeli enemy, and to launch the most severe strikes against sensitive targets in the occupied territories if the enemy engages in any folly against our people.” In 1956, 1967, and 1973 war with Israel, Yemen successfully closed off the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and prevented Israeli ships from crossing through it.

The National Salvation Government in Houthi-controlled Sana’a accused the United Arab Emirates of providing cover for Israel’s efforts in southern Yemen. “The Israeli enemy sees Yemen as a threat to it,” said Information Minister Dhaifalla Al-Shami, “especially in its strategic location, so it has worked to find a foothold in Yemen through the UAE’s role.” Recently, UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, said in an article for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot that his country “pushed for initiatives that would have granted Israel privileges.”

Given the fact that the fragmentation of the Middle East is consistent with Israel’s strategy in Yemen, the STC’s, and by extension the UAE’s, relationship with Israel not only violates the Yemeni religious and national constants held firm by nearly all Yemenis, but it is also a threat to the prospect of a unified Yemen. Yemeni political forces, including Ansar Allah, see Israel’s efforts to back the emergence of a break-away separation state in the south as a dangerous game.

In fact, unconfirmed reports allege that Israel participated in the war against Yemen on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition as a part of a series of covert interventions involving mercenary forces, the reported launching of dozens of airstrikes in the country and even the dropping of a neutron bomb on Nuqm Mountain in the middle of the capital city of Sana’a in May of 2015. But any Israeli presence in the south will lead to an inevitable clash with Israel, according to decision-makers in Yemen.

قدرات إيران الدفاعيّة تجاوزت مستوى التهديدات

ظريف يؤكد استعداد بلاده لتطوير العلاقات مع السعوديّة والإمارات

أكد وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف، استعداد بلاده إلى «تطوير العلاقات مع السعودية والإمارات على قاعدة الاحترام المتبادل».

ورأى ظريف أن «السعودية تريد الاعتماد على قوى أجنبية عدة بدلاً من الاعتماد على جار واحد سيبقى دائماً هنا»، مشيراً إلى أن إيران «دائماً على استعداد لإجراء محادثات بناءة مع السعودية ولا توجد لديها أي مشكلة».

ظريف قال إنه «تمّ التوصل إلى اتفاقات جيدة جداً بين إيران والعراق خلال زيارة رئيس الوزراء العراقي إلى طهران».

ووصف ظريف خلال مؤتمر صحافي مع نظيره الروسي سيرغي لافروف، في موسكو أول أمس الثلاثاء، العلاقات الإيرانية مع روسيا بـ»الاستراتيجية»، منوهاً إلى أن «الحوار المستمر مع الدول الصديقة في الوضع الراهن أمر ضروري».

وعقب مغادرة موسكو، كتب وزير الخارجية الإيراني تغريدة، قال فيها إنه «سلم رسالة مهمة إلى الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين واتفق مع وزير الخارجية الروسي أيضاً على وضع اللمسات الأخيرة على اتفاق التعاون طويل الأمد مع روسيا».

وأضاف ظريف «لدينا وجهات نظر واحدة بشأن الاتفاق النووي وضرورة الالتزام بالقانون الدولي. واتفقنا على وضع اللمسات الأخيرة على اتفاق التعاون الشامل الاستراتيجي طويل الأمد».

​كما، أجرى وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف، أول أمس محادثات مع نظيره الروسي سيرغي لافروف حول الاتفاق النووي والمستجدات الإقليمية والدولية وذلك بعد تقديم رسالة من الرئيس حسن روحاني إلى الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين.

على صعيد آخر، قال القائد العام للجيش الإيراني، اللواء سيد عبد الرحيم موسوي: «إننا تمكنا من تطوير قدراتنا الدفاعية في مجال تعبئة القوى البشرية وتطوير الأجهزة المتقدمة، بما يتناسب ومستوى التهديدات، بل اجتيازه».

ونقلت وكالة «إرنا»، مساء أمس، عن موسوي أن «قوة الدفاع الجوي الإيرانية تضطلع بمهام رئيسية، لكونها تقف في الخط الأمامي لساحات الدفاع عن البلاد»، مشيراً إلى أن «قدرات إيران الدفاعية تخطت مستوى التهديدات في شتى المجالات التعبوية، وامتلاك الأجهزة والمعدات العسكرية الحديثة».

وأفادت الوكالة بأن «تصريحات موسوي جاءت خلال الزيارة التفقدية التي قام بها اليوم، مرافقاً بقائد قوة الدفاع الجوي في الجيش الإيراني، العميد صباحي فرد، للأقسام المختلفة بوحدة الرد السريع التابعة لهذه القوة المسلحة في طهران».

وبدوره، قدم العميد صباحي فرد، قائد قوة الدفاع الجوي للجيش الإيراني، تقريراً حول الإجراءات المتخذة من أجل الارتقاء بالمستويين، الدفاعي والقتالي، وإعادة تأهيل الأجهزة والمعدات لدى هذه القوة.

Towards a “New Cold War” in the Middle East: Geopolitics of the Persian Gulf and the Battle for Oil and Gas

By Germán Gorraiz López

Global Research, July 21, 2020

The foundations of the great Near East were established in the Pact of Quincey (1945) following the doctrine of the Franco-British Sykes-Picot agreements of 1916 that favored the regional division of power in areas of influence and sustained on the tripod US-Egypt- Saudi Arabia. This doctrine consisted in the endemic survival in Egypt of pro-western autocratic military governments, which ensured the survival of the State of Israel (1948) and provided the US Navy with privileged access to the Suez Canal, a crucial shortcut for access direct to the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Afghanistan, remaining as a firm bastion of US geopolitical interests in the area, especially after the fall of the Shah of Persia in 1980.

The other pillar of the agreement consisted of the privileged access of the United States to Saudi Arabian oil in exchange for preserving its autocratic regime and favoring the spread of Wahhabism (doctrine founded by Mohamed Abdel Wahab in the mid-eighteenth century with the aim of becoming a vision attractive to Islam and exportable to the rest of the Arab countries), with which the Saudi theocracy became a regional power that provided the US with the key to energy dominance while serving as a retaining wall for socialist and pan-Arab currents. Finally, after the Six Day War (1967), the geostrategic puzzle of the Middle East and the Near East was completed with the establishment of autocratic and pro-Western regimes in the countries surrounding Israel (Libya, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran), leaving the Palestinians confined in the ghettos of the West Bank and Gaza.

Iraq and the Biden Plan

The Biden-Gelb Plan, approved by the US Senate in 2007 and rejected by Condolezza Rice, Secretary of State with George W. Bush, provided for the establishment in Iraq of a federal system in order to prevent the collapse in the country after the withdrawal of US troops and proposed separating Iraq into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni entities, under a federal government in Baghdad charged with the care of the borders and the administration of oil revenues.

Thus, we will attend the appearance of Free Kurdistan presided over by Masoud Barzani with capital in Kirkust and that would include annexed areas taking advantage of the power vacuum left by the Iraqi Army such as Sinkar or Rabia in the province of Ninive, Kirkuk and Diyala as well as all the cities of Syrian Kurdish ethnicity (except Hasaka and Qamishli) occupied by the Kurdish insurgency of the BDP.

The new Kurdistan will have the blessings of the United States and will have financial autonomy by owning 20% of the farms of all Iraqi crude oil with the “sine qua non condition” to supply Turkey, Israel and Eastern Europe with Kurdish oil through the Kirkust pipeline that empties into the Turkish port of Ceyhan. On the other hand, the Sunistan with capital in Mosul and that would cover the Sunni cities of Ramadi, Falluja, Mosul, Tal Afar and Baquba (Sunni triangle), with strong connections with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and that would later lead to a radical pan-Islamist movement that it will use the oil weapon to strangle the western economies in the horizon of the next five-year period.

Finally, as the third leg of the tripod, we would have Iraqi Chi with capital in Baghdad that will counterbalance Saudi Wahhabism and that will gravitate in the orbit of influence of Iran, which will make Iran a great regional power in clear conflict with Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iran, guardian of the Gulf and energy power

Iran acquired a regional power dimension thanks to the erratic policy of the United States in Iraq, (fruit of the political administration myopia obsessed with the Axis of Evil) by eliminating its ideological rivals, the Sunni Taliban radicals and Saddam Hussein with the subsequent power vacuum in the area. He also proposed a global negotiation with the contact group to deal with all the aspects that have confronted Western countries for thirty years, both the suffocating embargo that has plagued the Islamic Republic and the Iranian assets blocked in the United States, the role Iran regional cooperation and security cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan.The Middle East: A Review of Geopolitical Structures, Vectors of Power Dynamic

President Mahmoud Ajmadinejad stretched the rope to the limit in the security that the United States would not attack and would limit any individual action by Israel (a discarded project of bombarding the Natanz plant with commercial jets), as a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz through which it passes A third of the world’s energy traffic could exacerbate the global economic recession and profoundly weaken the entire international political system. Thus, in an interview with Brzezinski conducted by Gerald Posner in The Daily Beast (September 18, 2009), he stated that “an American-Iranian collision would have disastrous effects for the United States and China, while Russia would emerge as the great winner, as the foreseeable closure of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf where oil transportation destined for Northeast Asia (China, Japan and South Korea), Europe and the United States passes, would raise the price of black gold to stratospheric levels and would have severe repercussions on the economy global, becoming the totally crude EU dependent on Russia.

According to experts, Iran would possess the world’s third largest proven reserves of oil and gas, but it would not have enough technology to extract the gas from the deepest fields and would require an urgent multimillion-dollar investment to avoid irreversible deterioration of its facilities, which in practice it translates into a huge pie for Russian, Chinese and Western multinationals and an increase in the supply of Iranian crude oil to 1.5 million barrels / day within a year, with the consequent drop in prices. of the Brent and Texas reference crudes.

Furthermore, the revitalization of the 2010 energy cooperation agreement between Iraq, Iran and Syria for the construction of the South Pars-Homms gas pipeline that would connect the Persian Gulf with the Mediterranean Sea would relativize the strategic importance of the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline Project (TAP) , (a substitute for the failed Nabucco gas pipeline designed by the US to transport Azerbaijani gas to Europe through Turkey), as well as the relevant role of the United Arab Emirates as suppliers of crude oil to the West, which would explain the eagerness of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for torpedoing him.

America’s “Project of the New Middle East”

Ralph Peters Map: The Project for the New Middle East. Used for teaching purposes at the military academies. (“Unofficial”)  

Are Iraq and Iran the bait for the US to involve Russia and China in a new war?

Former President Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in a speech to the Iranian-American National Council (NIAC) stated that “I believe that the US has the right to decide its own national security policy and not follow like a stupid mule what the Israelis do. ” In addition, Brzezinski, would be faced with the neocon republican and Jewish lobbies of the USA and with his habitual biting he would have discredited the geostrategic myopia of both pressure groups when affirming that “they are so obsessed with Israel, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Iran that they have lost from the global picture: the true power in the world is Russia and China, the only countries with a true capacity to resist the United States and England and on which they would have to focus their attention ”.

We would thus be at a crucial moment to define the mediate future of the Middle East and Middle East (PROME East), since after the arrival of Donald Trump from the White House the pressure of the pro-Israeli lobby of the USA (AIPAC) would be increasing to proceed the destabilization of Iran by expeditious methods, a moment that will be used by the United States, Great Britain and Israel to proceed to redesign the cartography of the unrelated puzzle formed by these countries and thus achieve strategically advantageous borders for Israel, following the plan orchestrated 60 years ago. jointly by the governments of Great Britain, the United States and Israel and which would have the backing of the main western allies. Thus, after the approval by the Congress and the US Senate of a declaration prepared by the Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and the Democrat Robert Menéndez, who clearly states that “if Israel is forced to defend itself and take action (against Iran), the US will be at your side to support it militarily and diplomatically”, with the Trump Administration we will assist the increase in pressure from the pro-Israeli lobby of the USA (AIPAC) to proceed with the destabilization of Iran by expeditious methods.

In a first phase of said plan, the US Senate unanimously renewed the Sanctions Against Iran Act (ISA) until 2026 and after the launch of a new ballistic missile by Iran, Trump expanded the sanctions against several Iranian companies related to ballistic missiles without violating the Nuclear Agreement signed between the G + 5 and Iran in 2015, known as the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan (JCPOA) and which would only be fireworks to distract attention from the Machiavellian Plan outlined by the Anglo-Jewish Alliance in 1960 that would include the Balkanization of Iran and whose turning point would be the recent assassination of the charismatic General Qasem Soleimani.

This war could lead to a new local episode that would be involve a return to a “recurrent endemism” of the US-Russia Cold War involving both superpowers having as necessary collaborations the major regional powers namely Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

This Cold War scenario would cover the geographic space that extends from the Mediterranean arc (Libya, Syria and Lebanon) to Yemen and Somalia and having Iraq as its epicenter (recalling the Vietnam War with Lindon B. Johnson (1963-1.969).

Thus, Syria, Iraq and Iran would be the bait to attract both Russia and China and after triggering a concatenation of local conflicts (Syria, Iraq and Lebanon), this potentially could evolve towards a major regional conflict that could mark the future of the area in the coming years.

*

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Featured image is from Silent Crow NewsThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Germán Gorraiz López, Global Research, 2020

Iran Prepares Retaliation for Israeli Acts of Sabotage

By Elijah J. Magnier

Source

Iranian Syrian meeting in Damascus 0a629

Iran has postponed the announcement of those it has concluded were responsible for the sabotage at the Natanz nuclear centrifuge facility and probably other sites. However, high ranking personnel in Tehran say that “investigations have concluded and the latest explosions may well have been related; indications are that Israel, plus another Middle Eastern country, are involved. Iran is studying its suitable and inevitable retaliation”.

According to the source, “this has been confirmed beyond any doubt as an act of sabotage. The explosion at Natanz was destructive but security forces managed to thwart further attacks before the planned actions could succeed. We have carried out several arrests”.

The spokesperson of Iran’s parliamentary national security committee Abul’FazlAmoudi said Iran was investigating all possible scenarios related to the Natanz explosion. Security and intelligence officers are looking carefully into the matter and will release the results of the investigation in due course.

“More advanced centrifuges with maximum performance will be built. The Islamic Republic will retaliate against those responsible, wherever they are in the Middle East so that they learn not to repeat similar attacks in the future. The nuclear deal with the US and Europe proved useless because the Americans revoked it and the Europeans did nothing to honor their commitment “for fear of Washington’s retaliation”. The West can no longer be considered a viable partner. Iran has decided a strategic way forward, looking East rather than West”, said the source.

The facts: in recent weeks, several explosions occurred in different locations in Iran. An explosion took place at a medical center north of Tehran causing 19 deaths and 14 wounded. Iran arrested those involved in the explosion that killed mainly medical personnel. A power plant in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz’s al-Zirqan district caught fire last Saturday following an explosion. A chlorine gas leak occurred at a unit of the Karoom petrochemicals plant near the port of Bandar Imam Khomeini in the Persian Gulf injuring dozens. Also, an explosion occurred east of Tehran near the Parchin military and weapons development base caused by a leak in gas storage, as initially reported. “Not all explosions are related to the saboteurs”, said the source.

“We shall not remain silent, because the Rule of Engagement has been violated. That gives Iran the right to retaliation with similar or greater strikes. The sabotage actions were carried out by the Israelis with US approval and the help of a Gulf country. This is a direct threat to Iran’s national security—but we are not in a hurry to retaliate immediately. All options are on the table and we certainly don’t want to support (US President Donald) Trump by giving him the pretext for any retaliation he could benefit from, or by diverting attention from his multiple domestic crises”, said the source.

Iran is present in more than one country and one Middle Eastern platform. It has many options for retaliation against those Tehran considers responsible for one, or for several, acts of sabotage. Iran believes these actions were intended to divert attention from the Natanz explosion that was the main target. Iran will take the case to the International Atomic Energy Agency that has access to Natanz in order to prove that it was an act of sabotage against an officially recognized nuclear site.

According to the high-ranking official, the Iranian-Syrian meeting in Damascus between Major General Mohammad Bagheri and his counterpart General Ali Ayyoub and the agreement signed to strengthen the Syrian air defense system is also a message to Israel for its action in Natanz.

According to officials in Iran, Israel – whose responsibility for the Natanz sabotage Avigdor Lieberman has already avowed – has “directly overseen the attack to slow down Iran’s unchanged path towards peaceful nuclear capability. Moreover, Israel – according to officials – wants Iran to end its support to its allies in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. These unlawful sabotage acts are not new to Iran. Therefore, the road towards nuclear capability will not cease, and support for Iranian allies will obviously increase.”

Israel seems to be trying hard to drag the US into a war situation with Iran because it can’t accept Iran’s growing strength in the Middle East, notwithstanding endless attempts to block Iran’s development during 40 years of sanctions. Israel carried out multiple assassinations against Iranian scientists and high-ranking figures to no avail. Iran has indeed been forced to rely upon itself, build a chain of powerful allies, and find ways to grow independently from the support of the Western countries due to their unfriendly attitude and disregard for signed agreements.

 

Israel is trying to stimulate the many Gulf countries who are anxious to run into Israel’s arms and establish overt relationships with Israel. These Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, want Israeli support “to break Iran’s back”. That is nothing new; the Israeli-Saudi relationship dates back to the 80s. Bahrein, Qatar, and the Emirates all have established relations with Israel. However, Israel and Saudi Arabia cannot predict the Iranian reaction. Retaliation will come from the Axis of the Resistance. And it will come in an unexpected way.

دكاكين المخابرات المتنوّعة تسيطر على لبنان!

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يأس أميركي من السيطرة على الدولة اليمنيّة! – جريدة البناء | Al ...

تهيمن عشرات أجهزة المخابرات الدولية والاقليمية على لبنان من خلال التنافس الطوائفي بين ابنائه، وضعف دولته الوطنية.

بذلك يصبح الميدان اللبناني جغرافيات متصارعة تديرها مجموعات تحت الطلب ترتبط بشبكات استخبارية تعمل حسب تطور الأحداث ومتطلبات بلدانها في لبنان والإقليم.

للإشارة فإن أجهزة المخابرات تعمل في كل انحاء العالم فتراقب الأحداث وتستجلب معلومات، لكنها هي التي تسيطر على الأحداث وتروج لمعلومات في لبنان فيصبح دورها فيه تأجيجاً للصراعات الداخلية حسب حاجات بلدانها الأصلية وادوارها وصولاً الى حدود فبركتها ودفعها نحو مناحٍ ترتبط بصراعات الإقليم.

هنا تختلف وظائفها عن الدور الاستخباري التقليدي بشكل يبدو فيه لبنان تحت رحمة ممارسات تنبثق فجأة وتتوقف فجأة لتعاود بعد مدة سيرتها الاولى، وهكذا دواليك.

ما هي هذه الأجهزة العاملة بقوة في لبنان؟

تنتشر هذه الوكالات على مدى الساحة اللبنانية. قسم منها يعمل بشكل احترافي على مستوى كامل الجغرافيا اللبنانية حسب قدرته على اختراقها، وعلى رأسها المخابرات الأميركية والإسرائيلية التي تهتم بجميع المعلومات عن حزب الله في الجنوب والبقاع وبيروت وفي مختلف المناطق الأخرى التي يمتلك الحزب فيها تحالفات واصدقاء.

كما تجمع معلومات عن الحركة السياسية والإرهابية على مستوى البلاد بأسرها.

هناك نمط تقليدي آخر لأجهزة مخابرات تنشط بشكل روتيني لتجميع معلومات هامة لسياسات بلدانها كفرنسا وروسيا ودول اوروبية اخرى، لكن هذه الفئة لا تلعب على مستوى التأجيج الميداني للأحداث كحال المخابرات الأميركية القادرة بشكل استراتيجي على الطلب من الأحزاب الداخلية الموالية لها التحرك في يوم معين بشعارات محددة للتأثير على هدف مطلوب.

هذه المخابرات الأميركية هي المهيمن الفعلي على مسار الاضطرابات التي تنتاب لبنان بين الفينة والأخرى، فيكفي ان السفارة الاميركية هي المركز الفعلي للقاءات الأمنيين الأميركيين بالاحزاب المحلية الموالية، وهي كثيرة تبدأ بأحزاب القوات والكتائب والاشتراكي وكثير من جمعيات تدّعي انها من «الانتفاضة».

الى جانب هذه الادوار الواضحة، هناك ثلاثة أجهزة استخبارية تتبع للسعودية والإمارات وتركيا تؤدي الادوار الميدانية الأكثر خطورة على الاستقرار اللبناني السياسي والوطني.

فالسعودية والإمارات تنسجان علاقة مذهبية الأبعاد مع شلل طائفية في أنحاء من بيروت والشمال والبقاع الغربي.

فتستعملها للتوتير والتأجيج في مفاصل مهمة.

يكفي أن تنظم في هذه المناطق بضع مئات من المراهقين والشبان الذين توفر لهم التمويل المغري ووسائل الانتقال والأهداف المطلوبة لجهة التخريب وإضفاء التوتير المذهبي على اي تحرك، كما تتعاون الأجهزة السعودية والإماراتية مع رجال دين واحزاب وجمعيات مذهبية لشد العصب الطائفي في وجه عصبيات أخرى.

إن لهذين البلدين العربيين صلات كبيرة مع احزاب الكتائب والقوات والتقدمي لإقناع جمهورها المذهبي وتأمين تغطية سياسية له.

هناك اضافات على هذا المشهد المخابراتي التاريخي يتعلق باقتحام المخابرات التركية للمشهد اللبناني واستيطانها فيه بشكل فاعل.

فتركيا التي تسعى لتعميق دورها الإقليمي من خلال احتلال قواتها المباشر أنحاء في سورية والعراق وليبيا وعبر الدور الارهابي للاخوان المسلمين في اليمن والسودان والجزائر.

تركيا هذه جاءت الى لبنان من خلال حركة الاخوان، ووضعت في مناطقه الشمالية أجهزة استخبارات استطاعت جذب قيادات طرابلسية على شاكلة الريفي ونظمت عشرات الشبان وقبضايات الاحياء لاستعمالهم في تأجيج الصراعات المذهبية، فتبدو تركيا وكأنها تنافس السعودية على قيادة العالم الإسلامي وتناهض سورية وتحارب ايران، وتفرض نفسها على الأميركيين ليعترفوا بها صاحبة الدور الاساسي في التأثير على الاحداث والدليل ان كل عمليات الفوضى والتحطيم والتكسير التي حدثت في وسط بيروت يوم السبت الماضي، انما كانت من صناعة مجموعات مرتبطة بمخابرات تركية وأخرى إماراتية – سعودية.

ما تجب إضافته على هذا المشهد يرتبط بصراعات داخل الاجهزة الامنية اللبنانية نتيجة للتنافس بين تغطياتها السياسية داخل الدولة وخارجها ما يجعلها ضعيفة لا تأثير لديها على التعامل مع الاحداث الطارئة.

وهذا لا ينطبق على الجيش اللبناني الذي يأتمر في مراحل نشوب أحداث بقيادته المتنبّهة.

بالمقابل يعتقد البعض ان هناك مخابرات سورية وإيرانية، ويقتضي المنطق الاعتراف بوجودها إنما كجزء تقليدي تحتويه كل السفارات في العالم، وهذا سببه قوة حزب الله الذي يشكل نقطة الاستهداف الرئيسية لكل أنواع الفوضى وإثارة القلاقل والفتن.

لذلك يعمل الحزب استخبارياً وبشكل وازن وعميق لإجهاض عشرات أجهزة المخابرات العاملة ضده في ميادين لبنان، ولا يبدو بحاجة لدعم من تحالفاته الإقليمية الحاضرة بكل تأكيد لهذه الادوار.

لبنان اذاً ساحة لأجهزة مخابرات تريد استعماله للتأثير على حزب الله وسورية وإضعاف ادوارهما في مجابهة «اسرائيل» والسياسات الاميركية في المنطقة.

فهل تنتفض الدولة اللبنانية لوقف هذه الاستباحة المخابراتية غير التقليدية لأراضيها؟ يبدو ان التسعير الطائفي والمذهبي يمنع الدولة من أداء دور وطني فاعلن والمطلوب من حزب الله الاستمرار في العمل الجهادي والأمني حرصاً على لبنان واهله ومقومات استمراره.

As Saudi Forces Flee Northern Yemen, Evidence of an Unholy Alliance with Al-Qaeda is Left Behind

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

The journey from Sana’a to the far northeastern stretches of al-Jawf through the Empty Quarter is an arduous affair. A veritable no man’s land, the region has long-enjoyed the dubious distinction of hosting strongholds of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a group that evolved and blossomed under the sponsorship of nearby Saudi Arabia. The journey crisscrosses what seems like endless valleys of identical dunes with little more than the blazing sun to provide a semblance of direction.

In perfect weather under the flecks of golden sunshine that mingled with the few clouds in the early morning sky, we set off northeast from the capital Sana’a, passing through the Nihm district, the gateway to al-Jawf. After crossing the Fardhah Nihm checkpoint, dozens of burned-out armored vehicles of American and Canadian origin could be seen on both sides of the road.

Life is gradually returning to the area’s villages and shops and restaurants have opened their doors again.

In January 2020, Yemen’s Houthi-allied army, supported by local tribes, launched a retaliatory military operation to recapture Nihm from Saudi Coalition forces. Nihm lies east of Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a, one of the most strategically important battlefields in Yemen. Two thousand Saudi fighters, including members of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other armed groups under the patronage of the Saudi Monarchy, met their end or were captured in the operation. By March, the Yemeni army had successfully subdued Nihm and advanced all the way to al-Jawf and Marib. Now, for the first time in nearly 55 years, al-Jawf and most of Marib Province is under Yemeni control following decades of de facto rule by Riyadh through its various Yemeni proxies.

In their haste to escape the coming onslaught, Saudi forces left behind a slew of both medium and heavy weapons as well as the ammunition required to make them come to life. Whole stores of weapons, unexploded ordnance, and mines were abandoned, often amidst the tattered flags of Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda and in huge tunnels reminiscent of those left behind in the wake of the wars in Syria and Iraq. It wasn’t just weapons that were left behind, the scent of corpses still lingers in the region’s reefs, valleys and rugged mountains.

The residents of Nihm’s sleepy desert towns are beginning to return to their villages. A wary feeling of safety and relative stability accompanies the slow trickle of life as it returns, interrupted by everpresent reminders that the war is far from over, reminders that come in the form of the wild dogs feeding on abandoned corpses, Saudi warplanes that make the occasional visit, and most acutely, a significant number of unexploded ordnances, the remnants of cluster bombs and other munitions still embedded in the ground. Those, according to Adel, a grocery store owner in the roadside village of Khalgah in Nihm, pose the most immediate danger.

Yemen Jawf

Nihm, like most cities in Yemen, has been hit by a barrage of indiscriminate airstrikes, over 250,000 since 2015 when the war began. According to the Yemeni Army, 70 percent of those airstrikes have hit civilian targets. Thousands of tons of weapons, most often supplied by the United States, have been dropped on hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants and have left unexploded ordnances scattered across densely populated areas.

A kidnapping in al-Hazm

After a six-hour drive beneath the watchful eye of the Coalition warplanes that seemed to be constantly buzzing overhead, we were met with horrific scenes in al-Hazm. A simple desert city notorious for its connections to Al-Qaeda, al-Hazm is one of the largest cities in al-Jawf and was home to some of the fiercest fighting in the battle to route Coalition ground fighters. The effects of airstrikes in the city appeared everywhere; digging into the asphalt roads, destroying homes, schools and government complexes. Smoke was still lingering from an airstrike that hit less than a kilometer away from us as we arrived.

It was in al-Hazm that a broken-hearted mother told us of how she allowed herself a renewed sense of hope that the defeat of the Coalition would lead to information about her loved ones. “Two years have passed since they kidnapped my daughter,” she told MintPress, a black niqab covering her face and tears flowing as she recounted one of the worst crimes carried out by the Saudi coalition in al-Jawf. In a case that managed to gain local notoriety for its sheer brutality, her daughter, Samirah Hezam Maharesh, a mother of three young girls, was kidnapped from her home in al-Hazam on July 5, 2018, by armed militants loyal to Saudi Arabia.

Yemen al-Qaeda Jawf

First, Samirah was taken to a secret prison in the provincial capital and then transferred to another prison. Her whereabouts are still unknown and the only tidbits of hope come from unconfirmed local news stories and occasional rumors.

The kidnapping of Samirah crossed a red line in Yemen’s conservative society, which is heavily steeped in tribal tradition, and sparked dozens of demonstrations throughout the country’s northern provinces. In addition to other atrocities carried out by AQAP, the kidnapping ultimately helped push local residents to risk it all and join the resistance led by the Houthis against the Saudi Coalition and its militant allies.

Residents told us that Samirah was just one of the hundreds of Yemenis who were snatched from their homes or cars at checkpoints in al-Jawf and Marib. During their reign in al-Jawf, Saudi-backed militants, including al-Qaeda, committed horrendous abuses against those it saw as an obstacle to their occupation.

An unholy union

Since 2015, when Saudi Arabia announced from Washington D.C. that it had launched a military campaign against the poorest country in the Middle East, it has been an open secret that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had formed an unholy union with al-Qaeda’s branch in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, known colloquially as AQAP, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In al-Jawf, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and AQAP was well underway by 2016 when the Kingdom launched a military campaign to take the province. Saudi and AQAP forces fought side by side, sharing the same weapons, trenches, operations command centers, resting places, and extremist ideals. The only thing they didn’t share was a desire to destroy the United States, a trait exclusive to al-Qaeda according to documents left behind by fallen fighters and the confessions of Saudi soldiers captured in the battle for al-Jawf.

Saudi Arabia ISIS in Yemen

AQAP has hobbled by in Yemen for years, feeding off the relentless cycle of poverty and hunger and only occasionally emerging from the shadows to claim credit for an attack or seek new recruits. It was not until 2015 when the group began to receive support from Saudi Arabia that it become brazen enough to emerge from its hiding places into the streets of al-Jawf’s towns. Generous Saudi backing meant that AQAP could boost recruitment, build new training camps and promote the organization’s ideology, an offshoot of the official Saudi state religion of Wahhabism. By early 2020, AQAP had a sizable real estate portfolio in al-Jawf and Marib and ran most of the provinces’ large businesses. Sprawling villages in al-Jawf, the second largest governorate in Yemen, turned into strongholds of the organization after residents were forced to flee to other areas. AQAP turned some of the abandoned homes into factories used to manufacture explosive belts, IEDs and car bombs. Others were used to  stock weapons, train fighters and prepare for their “global Jihad.”

The secret prison’s of Khazaf and al-Marwan

Finally, we reached two of al-Qaeda’s main strongholds in the far northeastern Khab and al-Shaf districts, near the edge of the expansive Rub’ al Khali Desert (the Empty Quarter). The villages of Khazaf and al-Marwan are little more than dried up oases scattered in the remote desert like the remains of some ancient colony. It was here that humble houses made from dried mud bricks were turned into factories, secret prisons, and centers for the dissemination of extremist Wahhabi propaganda.

Villagers here described bottle dungeons dug into the dirt floors of local houses. Accessible only via small overhead hatches, they were used by militants to keep prisoners, including captured female slaves, as well as dead bodies. Deep below two houses, we were shown complex tunnels systems ostensibly used to hold and torture prisoners. The stench of human death lingered in the dark tunnels mingling with the smell of dust and concrete. The tunnels were also used as corridors to move weapons and supplies from house to house undetected.

Inside one home that turned it into a makeshift AQAP prison, we saw four three-square-meter windowless cells with heavy steel doors. As we made our way from cell to cell, I was struck by the sight of a pile of woman’s clothing, a prayer outfit, and a baby’s diapers, all piled into a morbid testament of the crimes committed here. I also found a note, a scrap of paper with the following scribbled onto it: ” I am Um Assamah, Why did you imprison me and my three daughters?” Samira is rumored to have been held in these same cells.

Residents who participated in the fight against the Saudi-backed militants told us that the place was a women’s prison that “from outside it looked like simple houses but when we entered, we found cells, tunnels, and implements of torture,” a 60-year-old man with a white beard recounted, barely holding back his tears and gripping the rifle slung over his shoulder. In Yemen, a woman’s incarceration is considered a great disgrace.

Other homes in Khazaf were used to make booby traps and explosives. In a small meeting room adorned with AQAP flags, 12 bags of high-explosive TNT lay piled against a wall. A hundred meters away, another home was turned into a makeshift workshop to produce vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. In the yard, a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser lay abandoned, laden with a barrel of TNT in its last stages of preparation. The truck was most likely intended to be used against large gatherings according to local resistance fighters.

An attempt to coverup war crimes

There is little doubt that untold war crimes occurred in the forgotten desert villages and in a brazen effort to conceal their involvement, Saudi warplanes hit them hard last week. Khazaf and al-Marwan were pounded by barrages of Coalition airstrikes, it appears, however, that their hail mary may have come too late. Video filmed by local fighters and shared MintPress as well as with Houthi media document many of the crimes that took place as well as the forces behind them.

Local fighters told us that they weren’t even aware of the existence of some of the bunkers, laboratories and tunnels until after they were exposed beneath the rubble of the Saudi airstrikes which targeted specific homes.

Now, in a last-ditch effort to revive what’s left of their AQAP allies in al-Jawf, Saudi Arabia has renewed its battlefield campaign in the province of al-Bayda after over a year of relative quiet there. Al-Bayda lies close to Marib, where some of the most extremist militants allied with the Coalition reside. Backed by Saudi warplanes, AQAP carried out two operations in Nate’a and Qaniyah on Wednesday, lasting over 10 hours according to the Yemeni army.

العرب في زمن الكورونا غافلون داخل الكهف

د. وفيق إبراهيم

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تكشف جائحة الكورونا مدى ابتعاد العرب عن هذا العصر والتصاقهم بفكر توكّليّ يتبين بعد المعاينة الدقيقة ان علاقته بالدين الفعلي سطحية لا يريد منها، الا فرض الانصياع على الناس لصالح ما يسميه زوراً «ولي الأمر» الى ان يتبين ان هذا «الولي» هو السلطات الحاكمة الفاسدة في الملكيّات والجمهوريّات.

وهذا واضح من خلال تطور الجائحة المميتة، ففيما تتسارع المختبرات الطبية في العالم لإنتاج علاجات ولقاحات مضادة له على مستوى الانتشار والاصابة، لا تتحرك عشرات المختبرات في الدول العربية لفعل أي شيء سوى اطلاق إرشادات إعلامية مقتبسة عن الاعلام الدولي علماً ان كلفة انشاء هذه المختبرات ترقى الى مليارات الدولارات ذهب معظمها الى جيوب الفاسدين وهي غير صالحة حتى لأداء مهام طبية، لأن ظروف تشكيلها استجابت فقط لحاجات الانظمة. إلى التوظيف وانتحال صفات الدول المؤيدة للعلم على مستوى تشكلات والا كيف يصدق المتابعون ان واحداً وعشرين بلداً عربياً ينتشرون في الشرق الاوسط وشمال افريقيا منفصلون عن هذا العصر على مستوى الحضارة والرقي والعلم، لكنهم يشكلون جزءاً منه في الانتساب الزمني الى القرن الحادي والعشرين انما بعقليات من القرون الوسطى وسلطات تعتقد أن البلاد ملك صرف لها بالأرض والنفط والسياسة والناس.

الآن ايضاً في زمن الكورونا لم يتبين لمجلس التعاون الخليجي اي ضرورة للقاء لربما يعتقد ان رعاته الدوليين في الولايات المتحدة الاميركية يعملون بكدّ واصلين الليل بالنهار لاكتشاف اللقاءاحات المناسبة.

وعندما ينتجونها تسارع الدول الخليجية لشرائها بأثمان عالية كما يجري دائماً.

هذه هي العقلية الريعية التي تحكم انظمة عربية تعرف ان انتقال دولها الى نظام إنتاجي يتطلب نشراً علمياً فعلياً يؤدي الى نشر الوعي، وهذا ما تخشاه هذه الانظمة لانها تدرك انه المنطلق الى إسقاط بنى سياسية وتأييد انظمة ديموقراطية على حساب انهيار الفكر القرون أوسطي.

هذا هو الكهف المتخلف الذي تضع فيه انظمة العرب شعوبها وتسجنها بعيداً من التنور والتطور والحداثة. فأين يمكن ايجاد بلد في العالم يرفع انتاجه النفطي بمعدل 40 في المئة دافعاً البلدان الأخرى الى منافسته برفع الإنتاج ما ادى الى انهيار أسعار البرميل من 45 دولاراً الى 23 فقط؟

هذا ما فعلته السعودية منذ اشهر عدة وتبين انه لخدمة مساعي الرئيس الاميركي ترامب في التجديد له في الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة، فأراد تقديم مشتقات نفطية رخيصة السعر للطبقات الشعبية الاميركية فتنتخبه كما انه أراد مضايقة الروس بإجبارهم على خفض أسعار نفطهم.

لكن الكورونا فاجأت كل الأطراف واصبح من مصلحة ترامب ان يعاود رفع اسعار البترول في محاولة لكسب شركات النفط الصخري الاميركي التي تؤثر في القرار السياسي العام الاميركي، وهناك محاولات لإرجاء الانتخابات الاميركية على اساس ابقاء ترامب رئيساً لمرحلة جديدة ومن دون انتخابات. فعادت السعودية لخدمته بالموافقة على خفض الانتاج.

بذلك تخسر السعودية في شهرين فقط نحو خمسة مليارات دولار تكفي لتأسيس عشرات المختبرات الصحية للتعامل مع كل انواع الأوبئة وذلك في اطار من التنسيق بين الامكانات الطبية العربية.

بما يدل على ان الانظمة السياسية هي التي تضع العرب في سبات أهل الكهف، وتسجنهم، لكنهم لن يمكثوا طويلاً في هذا الوضع ويتهيأوا لتفجير الكهف على اصحابه من الأنظمة وحماتها الأميركيين.

البناء

Already Faced with Famine and War, Yemenis Fear Saudi Arabia is Weaponizing COVID-19

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

SANA’A, YEMEN — The war in Yemen began in earnest on Mar. 26, 2015, but it is about to take on another complex dimension as that country grapples with a collapsed healthcare system and a new Saudi military escalation amid the looming threat of a coronavirus outbreak. That outbreak threatens a population already struggling against an unprecedented explosion of famine, epidemics and disease.

On Monday, the Saudi-led coalition announced a new military operation targeting three major Yemeni cities, including Sana’a, Hodeida, and Sadaa. In Sana’a, More than ten airstrikes struck a farm that bred Arabian horses in southeast Sana’a, killing 70 horses and injuring many more. A number of horse breeders were also killed or wounded in the attack. Saudi airstrikes also targeted the populated Attan neighborhood and the Sana’a International Airport.

In Hodeida, Saudi warplanes bombed a quarantine center that had been prepared to treat coronavirus patients. Saudi airstrikes also destroyed water wells on Kamran Island, which was reportedly struck with three U.S.-made bombs. The wells provided clean water to more than 10,000 people. The airstrikes also targeted civilian facilities in the al-Jah and al-Saleif districts. Those attacks claimed a yet confirmed number of casualties and destroyed civilian infrastructure that had been rebuilt following prior Saudi attacks.

Ansar Allah, the political wing of Yemen’s Houthis, the primary force fighting to repel Saudi forces from Yemen, vowed a “painful response” and said that the Saudi raids are a dangerous escalation that would be met with the bombing of vital facilities deep inside Saudi Arabia, including sensitive economic targets. On Sunday, Yemen’s Houthi-allied Army targeted what they called strategic and sensitive sites in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Najran, and Jizan using a squadron of domestically-manufactured combat drones and ballistic missiles in retaliation for Saudi airstrikes that targeted al-Jawf, Marib, and Sadaa last week.

In addition to the ongoing Saudi airstrikes and blockade on the country, epidemics such as diphtheria, cholera, dengue fever, swine flu, and malaria are still sweeping the nation, making it nearly impossible for Yemenis to effectively face the coming novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which is sweeping the world. To Yemenis, who have little to no access to healthcare, a pandemic like this is an added worry to their already troubled lives.

To tackle COVID-19, the Houthis welcomed a call by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a ceasefire in the war-ridden country. “We welcome the UN Secretary-General’s call for ceasefire… we reaffirmed our readiness to deal with all peace initiatives to achieve a comprehensive political solution,” said Mahdi al-Mashat, the president of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council said. Al-Mashat went to say, “We are ready to cooperate to move from war stage to peace.”

On Wednesday, Guterres urged Yemen’s rival parties to work with his Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to achieve a nationwide de-escalation, saying, “a political solution is the only way to a comprehensive and sustainable resolution of the conflict in Yemen.”

Although Turki al-Maliki, spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition, stated that the coalition supported Griffiths’ efforts in Yemen, Saudi warplanes launched over 100 airstrikes since Guterres’ statement was made. The airstrikes targeted populated areas in al-Jawf, Marib, and Yemeni border districts.

Weaponizing COVID-19

Moreover, authorities in the Sana’a Health Ministry accused Saudi Arabia of trying to spread the coronavirus intentionally. On Monday, Saudi warplanes dropped boxes containing face masks in the al-Ahli district in Hodeida province and Bani Sa’ad and al-Taweilah in the al-Mahwit governorate as well as Nugom in Sana’a. The number of masks was insignificant and dropped into densely populated areas causing a predictably frenzied panic among desperate citizens who all stormed the locations to retrieve what protection they could. Authorities accuse the Saudi government of intentionally causing panic among Yemenis in order to encourage them to break social distancing guidelines and expedite the spread of COVID-19. If Saudi officials genuinely wanted to provide aid to Yemeni civilians, they say, they could do so through official UN channels. Some residents told MintPress that they also fear the masks could be contaminated with the coronavirus, and Yemeni officials have warned residents to be cautious of free equipment offered by the Saudi Coalition.

The Ministry of Health said Saudi Arabia is also trying to spread COVID-19 by deporting Yemenis from Saudi Arabia in large numbers, a practice they say began last month when the pandemic was already well underway.

In addition, the Saudi-led coalition allowed four passenger aircraft to land in Yemen last week with a total of 1,000 passengers on board; this at a time when most countries have suspended inbound flights in an effort to contain the pandemic. The coalition has near complete control of Yemen’s airspace.

Yemen coronavirus

Ansar Allah said that the Saudi-led coalition — which has imposed an all-out blockade on the country — will be responsible for a possible spread of the coronavirus to Yemen. Houthi leader Mohammed al-Houthi said on Twitter that “those who have been killing the Yemenis with their weapons would not hesitate to take their lives through less costly means.” Many Yemenis believe that the Saudi-led coalition would not hesitate to intentionally spread coronavirus in Yemen, especially after their bloody five-year-old military campaign has achieved so little.

The United States, for its part, is not making the dire situation facing Yemenis any easier. The country, a primary backer of Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, is decreasing aid to relief workers, according to Yemeni officials and political parties leaders who spoke to MintPress. Human rights activists say that if humanitarian and medical assistance does not reach Yemen soon, and in large quantities, the spread of COVID-19 in the country will be swift and deadly.

U.S. President Donald Trump recently slashed aid to Yemen, halting some $70 million used to fund healthcare programs in the country despite calls from NGOs, humanitarian groups, and even members of Congress, to delay the decision while the country prepares to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Is Yemen already infected?

Thus far, there are no officially confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in Yemen; however, Ansar Allah officials told MintPress that they have recorded cases near the Saudi border and in southern Yemen, however, MintPress was not able to verify those claims independently. According to Ansar Allah, at least ten Saudi-backed militants in the Medi front near Hajjah have been infected with coronavirus, but those numbers have yet to be officially confirmed by medical bodies.

Although Yemen’s authorities have already taken pre-emptive measures by closing the ports under their control and preventing public gatherings, they would likely quickly be overwhelmed should there be an outbreak of coronavirus as they are already struggling to maintain essential services amid the ongoing Saudi siege and relentless attacks over the past five years.

Sana’a, in particular, where four million people live, including 1.5 million internally displaced people, is particularly susceptible to an outbreak. The city is overcrowded, suffering from an acute lack of sanitation and civilian infrastructure that has been all but decimated from five years of war.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen since January 2016, according to a report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED). Yemeni doctors fear that if COVID-19 cannot be contained, that number could be dwarfed in a matter of days.

With the world preoccupied with the number of global cases and deaths that the virus has claimed, in Yemen, over 100,00 people die every year as a result of disease and epidemics like cholera and dengue fever, most of them children. If one is able to dodge death by war or disease, they now face the prospect of catching COVID-19 in a country where 19.7 million people are in need of the most basic health care, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

A healthcare system crippled by years of war

Countries with robust health care systems may be able to resist the virus, at least to some extent, but the ongoing blockade and bombing of civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals, have crippled Yemen’s health system, leaving it unable to deal with even the most basic public health needs. Furthermore, medical treatment and supplies, including respirators, medical sterilizers, and cleaning tools, have become difficult to come by since the Saudi-led coalition forced the closure of the Sana’a International Airport in August 2016.

The Saudi blockade on what is already one of the poorest countries on earth entails tight control over all aspects of life in Yemen. The blockade also restricts movement to the country, meaning that access to medical supplies and entry for emergency medical personnel are all determined by Saudi Arabia. In fact, the reality of life under siege means that for Yemen’s people, their fate lies almost entirely in the hands of Saudi Arabia.

While most of the health services around the world are being overwhelmed by the coronavirus, the deliberate targeting, and attacks on the country’s healthcare facilities over the past five years will make matters worse. The Saudi-led coalition has destroyed 385 hospitals and health facilities. Most of the country’s estimated 300 remaining facilities are either closed or barely functioning. International organizations, already overwhelmed with the pandemic, have done little to provide the necessary medicine and medical supplies to help Yemen face COVID-19.

coronavirus Yemen

More than 250,000 Saudi-led airstrikes have also destroyed 8,610 service facilities, including 15 airports, 6,404 transportation-related targets, 866 food stores, 387 fuel stations, 668 markets, and 736 food trucks, according to Yemen’s Eye of Humanity Center for Human Rights and Development. The report from the center, issued on the fifth anniversary of the war, also reported that 16 ports, 297 electrical stations and generators, 1,990 reservoirs and water networks, and 1,953 government facilities have been bombed. Moreover, at least 458,061 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

First famine, now a pandemic

According to the UN, those facing malnourishment are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and Yemen is in the midst of the world’s worst famine. The UN has said that 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million that are threatened immediately by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in over 100 years as a result of the Saudi-led war backed by the United States.

The Saudi-led coalition has targeted Yemen’s urban and rural livelihood alike, bombing farms, food systems, markets, water facilities, transportation infrastructure, and even agricultural extension offices. In coastal areas, fishing boats and food processing and storage facilities have been targeted, undermining livelihoods, disrupting local food production, and forcing residents to flee to the city.

Now, Yemen’s nationwide level of household food insecurity hovers at over 70 percent. Fifty percent of rural households and 20 percent of urban households are now food insecure. Almost one-third of Yemenis do not have enough food to satisfy basic nutritional needs. Underweight and stunted children have become a regular sight, especially amongst the holdouts in rural areas.

High precision U.S. bombs dropped by Saudi-led coalition warplanes have destroyed at least 1,834 irrigation pumps, 109 artesian and surface wells, 1,170 modern irrigation networks, 33 solar irrigation units, 12 diggers, 750 pieces of agricultural equipment, 940,400 farms, 7,531 agricultural reserves, 30 productive nurseries, 182 poultry farms, and 359,944 beehives.

Attacks have completely destroyed at least 45 water installations (dams, barriers, reservoirs) and partially destroyed at least 488, including the ancient Marib Dam. As of Mar. 20, 2020, every fish off-loading port in Yemen had been targeted by Saudi attacks. At least 220 fishing boats have been destroyed, 222 fishermen have been killed, and 40,000 fishermen have lost their only source of income. According to Yemen’s Ministry of Fishing Wealth, this affects the lives of more than two million people living in coastal cities and villages.

Moreover, the war, which has wreaked havoc on Yemen’s already fragile economy, has caused thousands in Yemen to lose their jobs. Many local and foreign companies have ceased operations in the country. According to Yemen’s Ministry of Social Affairs, over 5 million workers are without jobs. So far, Salaries for public-sector workers have not been paid regularly since the war began, and Saudi Arabia seized control of Yemen’s Central Bank, leaving vulnerable populations at risk of falling victim to epidemics.

It’s true that the United States and many other countries, including Britain and France, think of their own citizens first, their problems and their challenges. Yet these countries provide support to Saudi Arabia at all levels, allowing it to collapse Yemen’s health sector amid the worst pandemic in recent history.

The United States Is in Syria Illegally as a Proxy for Israel and Saudi Arabia

By Philip Giraldi

Source

James Jeffrey Netanyahu e1db3

The first week in February was memorable for the failed impeachment of President Donald Trump, the “re-elect me” State of the Union address and the marketing of a new line of underwear by Kim Kardashian. Given all of the excitement, it was easy to miss a special State Department press briefing by Ambassador James Jeffrey held on February 5th regarding the current situation in Syria.

Jeffrey is the United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL. Jeffrey has had a distinguished career in government service, attaining senior level State Department positions under both Democratic and Republican presidents. He has served as U.S. Ambassador to both Turkey and Iraq. He is, generally speaking, a hardliner politically, closely aligned with Israel and regarding Iran as a hostile destabilizing force in the Middle East region. He was between 2013 and 2018 Philip Solondz distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think tank that is a spin-off of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). He is currently a WINEP “Outside Author” and go-to “expert.”

Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, academic dean at Harvard University ‘s Kennedy School of Government, describe WINEP as “part of the core” of the Israel Lobby in the U.S. They examined the group on pages 175-6 in their groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy and concluded as follows:

“Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a ‘balanced and realistic’ perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda … Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP’s ranks.”

In early 2018 Jeffrey co-authored a WINEP special report on Syria which urged “…the Trump administration [to] couple a no-fly/no-drive zone and a small residual ground presence in the northeast with intensified sanctions against the Assad regime’s Iranian patron. In doing so, Washington can support local efforts to stabilize the area, encourage Gulf partners to ‘put skin in the game, drive a wedge between Moscow and Tehran, and help Israel avoid all-out war.”

Note the focus on Iran and Russia as threats and the referral to Assad and his government as a “regime.” And the U.S. presence is to “help Israel.” So we have Ambassador James Jeffrey leading the charge on Syria, from an Israeli perspective that is no doubt compatible with the White House view, which explains why he has become Special Representative for Syria Engagement.

Jeffrey  for his term of office shortly after being appointed by President Trump back in August 2018 when he argued that the Syrian terrorists were “. . . not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” Jeffrey, who must have somehow missed a lot of the head chopping and rape going on, subsequently traveled to the Middle East and stopped off in Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It has been suggested that Jeffrey received his marching orders during the visit.

Two months later James Jeffrey declared that he would like to see Russia maintain a “permissive approach” to allow the Israelis to attack Iranian targets inside Syria. Regarding Iran’s possible future role in Syria he observed that “Iranians are part of the problem not part of the solution.”

What Jeffrey meant was that because Israel had been “allowed” to carry out hundreds of air attacks in Syria ostensibly directed against Iran-linked targets, the practice should be permitted to continue. Israel had suspended nearly all of its airstrikes in the wake of the shoot down of a Russian aircraft in September 2018, an incident which was caused by a deliberate Israeli maneuver that brought down the plane even though the missile that struck the aircraft was fired by Syria. Fifteen Russian servicemen were killed. Israel reportedly was deliberately using the Russian plane to mask the presence of its own attacking aircraft.

Russia responded to the incident by deploying advanced S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria, which can cover most of the more heavily developed areas of the country. Jeffrey was unhappy with that decision, saying “We are concerned very much about the S-300 system being deployed to Syria. The issue is at the detail level. Who will control it? what role will it play?” And he defended his own patently absurd urging that Russia, Syria’s ally, permit Israel to continue its air attacks by saying “We understand the existential interest and we support Israel” because the Israeli government has an “existential interest in blocking Iran from deploying long-range power projection systems such as surface-to-surface missiles.”

Later in November 2018 James Jeffrey , declaring that U.S. troops will not leave Syria before guaranteeing the “enduring defeated” of ISIS, but he perversely put the onus on Syria and Iran, saying that “We also think that you cannot have an enduring defeat of ISIS until you have fundamental change in the Syrian regime and fundamental change in Iran’s role in Syria, which contributed greatly to the rise of ISIS in the first place in 2013, 2014.”

As virtually no one but Jeffrey and the Israeli government actually believes that Damascus and Tehran were responsible for creating ISIS, the ambassador elaborated, blaming President Bashar al-Assad for the cycle of violence in Syria that, he claimed, allowed the development of the terrorist group in both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

He said “The Syrian regime produced ISIS. The elements of ISIS in the hundreds, probably, saw an opportunity in the total breakdown of civil society and of the upsurge of violence as the population rose up against the Assad regime, and the Assad regime, rather than try to negotiate or try to find any kind of solution, unleashed massive violence against its own population.”

Jeffrey’s formula is just another recycling of the myth that the Syrian opposition consisted of good folks who wanted to establish democracy in the country. In reality, it incorporated terrorist elements right from the beginning and groups like ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliates rapidly assumed control of the violence. That Jeffrey should be so ignorant or blinded by his own presumptions to be unaware of that is astonishing. It is also interesting to note that he makes no mention of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, kneejerk support for Israel and the unrelenting pressure on Syria starting with the Syrian Accountability Act of 2003 and continuing with embrace of the so-called Arab Spring. Most observers believe that those actions were major contributors to the rise of ISIS.

Jeffrey’s unflinching embrace of the Israeli and hardline Washington assessment of the Syrian crisis comes as no surprise given his pedigree, but in the same interview where he pounded Iran and Syria, he asserted oddly that “We’re not about regime change. We’re about a change in the behavior of a government and of a state.”

Some of James Jeffrey’s comments at last week’s press conference are similarly illuminating. Much of what he said concerned the mechanics of relationships with the Russians and Turks, but he also discussed some core issues relating to Washington’s perspective on the conflict. Many of his comments were very similar to what he said when he was appointed in 2018.

Jeffrey expressed concern over the thousands of al-Nusra terrorists holed up in besieged Idlib province, saying “We’re very, very worried about this. First of all, the significance of Idlib – that’s where we’ve had chemical weapons attacks in the past… And we’re seeing not just the Russians but the Iranians and Hizballah actively involved in supporting the Syrian offensive… You see the problems right now in Idlib. This is a dangerous conflict. It needs to be brought to an end. Russia needs to change its policies.”

He elaborated, “We’re not asking for regime change per se, we’re not asking for the Russians to leave, we’re asking…Syria to behave as a normal, decent country that doesn’t force half its population to flee, doesn’t use chemical weapons dozens of times against its own civilians, doesn’t drop barrel bombs, doesn’t create a refugee crisis that almost toppled governments in Europe, does not allow terrorists such as HTS and particularly Daesh/ISIS emerge and flourish in much of Syria. Those are the things that that regime has done, and the international community cannot accept that.”

Well, one has to conclude that James Jeffrey is possibly completely delusional. The core issue that the United States is in Syria illegally as a proxy for Israel and Saudi Arabia is not touched on, nor the criminal role in “protecting the oil fields” and stealing their production, which he mentions but does not explain. Nor the issue of the legitimate Syrian government seeking to recover its territory against groups that almost everyone admits being terrorists.

Virtually every bit of “evidence” that Jeffrey cites is either false or inflated, to include the claim of use of chemical weapons and the responsibility for the refugees. As for who actually created the terrorists, that honor goes to the United States, which accomplished that when it invaded Iraq and destroyed its government before following up by undermining Syria. And, by the way, someone should point out to Jeffrey that Russia and Iran are in Syria as allies of its legitimate government.

Ambassador James Jeffrey maintains that “Russia needs to change its policies.” That is not correct. It is the United States that must change its policies by getting out of Syria and Iraq for starters while also stopping the deference to feckless “allies” Israel and Saudi Arabia that has produced a debilitating cold war against both Iran and Russia. Another good first step to make the U.S. a “normal, decent country” would be to get rid of the advice of people like James Jeffrey.

 

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