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.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is n1586075909.jpg

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.

 

As Yemen Starves, Billions in Donor Funds Fill the Coffers of International Aid Agencies

By Ahmed AbdulKareem

Source

Of the billions of dollars pouring into Yemen from international donors, only a trickle is actually reaching the people who need it the most reports Ahmed AbdulKareem.

SANA’A, YEMEN — The phenomenon of mercenarism in the impoverished Arab country of Yemen is not limited to the foreign fighters joining the Saudi-led coalition for money, but also includes UN relief organizations, international agencies, and their local partners who are ultimately denying Yemenis the food, healthcare, money and other aid they urgently need. Regardless of their goodwill.

According to a recent report, every ten minutes a child under the age of five dies from extreme hunger in Yemen, while six newborn babies lose their lives every two hours as a result of the continued deterioration of the health situation in the country. This, at a time when the country is riddled with aid agencies.

There are 22 million Yemenis in need of relief, including seven million at risk of starvation, and nearly two million children on the verge of dying from malnutrition according to UN reports, despite the massive sums of money allocated to Yemen from both the international community and regional organizations.


Moreover, 100,00 people die every year in the country as a result of diseases and epidemics, most of them children. Now, four years after the flow of donor funds into the war-torn country, these diseases and epidemics are increasingly emerging where aid, particularly medical assistance, was supposed to prevent their expansion.

According to United Nations Development Program (UNDP), poverty in Yemen has jumped from 47 percent of the population in 2014, before the war began, to a projected 75 percent by the end of 2019. That figure betrays the reality on the ground and suggests that donor money is simply not reaching Yemenis in need.

In 2018, the UN praised international donors for raising large amounts of money to tackle Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Almost all of the $3 billion pledged has been either received by the UN or formally committed. In 2017, when the first pledging conference for Yemen was held, 94 percent of the pledges, $1.1 billion, was fulfilled, according to the UN.

However, this year, the United Nations announced that humanitarian needs in Yemen for this year amount to $2.96 billion, $2.1 billion of which has already been collected, while other countries pledged the remaining amount.

Where does the aid money go?

The United Nations annually declares and approves a public response plan involving local authorities including Yemen’s National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Recovery (NAMCHA).

By investigating official documents of the annual public response and its actual outcomes, as well as tracking the flow of millions of dollars of supplies and funds from aid programs, it becomes apparent that most donor funds go to the coffers of UN relief organizations and international and local NGOs. In other words, more than seventy percent of the aid is stolen off the top.

That money is distributed to dozens of UN agencies, international organizations and local NGOs. The largest recipients include the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

According to budget lists in the UN’s annual public response, 15-20 percent of grants are taken in the form of dues before they reach Yemenis. Then, an additional 45-60 percent of the grants go to relief organizations to cover operating and support expenses.

Yemen Food Aid

he scant food supplies of a displaced family hangs on the wall of a home in Lahj, Yemen, Feb. 11, 2018. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

Moreover, a review of the UN budget shows that grant money allocated to Yemen has been wasted on projects that are not a part of the UN’s annual public response plan. That money is supposed to go towards serving the needs of Yemenis based on research by civil society organizations and local authorities.

At a time when hundreds of residents, mostly women and children, die every day due to shortages of food and medicine, millions of dollars are being funneled into reproductive health projects such as the International Child Welfare Organization’s reproductive health project with a budget of $4,592,632 to distribute contraceptives and educational sex dolls.

The Yemeni minister of public health and population, Taha al-Mutawakel called on the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to clarify the fate of funds allocated to Yemen. Al-Mutawakel bemoaned how aid money has been squandered on cars and services instead of alleviating the sufferings of Yemenis. “Stop shedding tears for our children who get killed, whilst there is no credibility whatsoever in your international reports and they do not help assuage this tragic situation, he said from inside the Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the capital Sana’a.

 We are not demanding toys and video game consoles, but we are calling for incubators and other related devices to give children the right to life.”

 

Relief agency corruption trickles down to Yemen’s locals

Further analysis of public documents shows that a portion of aid money goes to the accounts of UN relief organizations via its procurement policy. Those organizations often allot excessive amounts of money to buy imported products, yet often end up buying those products from local markets or from abroad at lower prices than specified in their detailed humanitarian plan.

For example, in 2019, the World Food Program (WFP) budget included money to purchase 70 million liters of diesel at 92 cents per liter, for a total cost of $64.5 million. However, the domestic market price for diesel in just 75 cents per liter and the organization buys the diesel from Yemen Oil Company at the local price according to official agreements which have been reviewed by MintPress. That disparity means that a staggering $21,700,000 will end up in WFP coffers.

Relief organizations that have diverted donated food, medicine, fuel and money from desperate Yemenis amid their country’s five-year war also receive significant financial benefits by leveraging currency exchange rates. The procurement process and projects carried out by many of these organizations are paid for in local currency, not in U.S. dollars. In this way, organizations save substantial sums of money by engaging in a sort of currency speculation.

In addition, organizations workers have been caught selling relief items to local merchants who then trade them on the black market. Two merchants, as well as eyewitnesses, confirmed to MintPress that they were sold relief items bearing the WFP’s logo by the organization’s workers. Some residents engage in the sale of these items out of desperation and the need for money for medical treatment or to pay rent according to residents who spoke to MintPress.

Moreover, the scant food aid which millions of Yemenis rely on for their daily sustenance often doesn’t reach people until it is already expired, by that time often crawling with worms and cockroaches because of lack of proper storage facilities, constant power outages, or long hours in transport. Rotten food aid is sometimes burned as it is not fit for human consumption. To make matters worse, coalition forces have bombed bridges linking Yemen’s main port in Hodeida with Sana’a, the capital city, which has meant trucks loaded with vital supplies have to take other routes adding many hours to the journey.

Yemen Aid

The aftermath of a Saudi airstrike on a truck carrying UN World Food Program aid in Saada, February 11, 2019. Photo | Ali al- Shorgbi

Current conditions on the ground are seriously hindering the delivery and distribution of aid as the Saudi-led coalition is enforcing a commercial blockade on sea and air routes into the country, and placing restrictions on relief supplies where aid is subject to long inspection delays and in some cases, rejected altogether. The fate of the rejected aid is not known.

Inflated salaries and internal waste

Aid money isn’t just being squandered away on expired food and operating expenses. Some relief organizations, which often do not provide detailed financial reports on how aid money is spent, are riddled with financial mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. Donor money often goes to pay the inflated salaries of senior staff of international organizations, particularly to UN relief agency workers. The salary of just eight staff at the World Food Program in Yemen amounted to around $50 million.

According to the outcomes of a project for internally displaced people (IDPs) implemented by the UNHCR, the percentage of staff salaries, expenses and additional petty cash, which included the hiring of cars and houses for staff, makes up 64.3 percent of the project’s total budget. Just 35.7 actually went to IDPs. The salary of the manager for another UNHCR project implemented by the CARE organization reached $15,500 per month, although his contract stipulates a salary of $9,500 per month. Other documents showed his salary at $11,500 per month.

Yemen’s National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Recovery (NAMCHA) said there has been a deliberate waste of humanitarian aid funds allocated to the people of Yemen which amounts to a total of $4.2 billion, despite the humanitarian needs the Yemeni people not being met in 2019.

The United Nations has admitted to some incidents of corruption by aid workers, including a case in which a dozen of its aid workers enriched themselves from the billions of dollars in donated aid flowing into the country as well as from financial mismanagement.

In one particularly egregious case uncovered by the Associated Press, UN World Health Organization (WHO) employee Nevio Zagaria, an Italian doctor, arrived in Yemen in December 2016 after a four-year stint in the Philippines to lead the agency’s humanitarian efforts in Yemen. According to the AP’s investigation, the WHO’s Yemen office under Zagaria was riddled with corruption and nepotism.

Zagaria brought in junior staffers who worked with him in the Philippines and promoted them to high-salary posts that they were not qualified for. Two of them – a Filipino university student and a former intern, were given senior posts but their only role was to take care for Zagaria’s pet dog.

Even American organizations, whose work in Yemen carries an heir of exceptionalism since the United States in the largest single supplier of lethal weapons, information, and experts to the Saudi-led Coalition, has given Yemenis little more than crumbs. For example, in two projects implemented by American World Communities Organization, as well as a project from the American Mercy Corps, only 25 percent of aid went to people in need, while 75 percent went to the organizations and their workers.

The loss of donor funds by organizations is not without precedent. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) froze more than $239 million of funds intended for Syrian aid programs due to significant fraud after it investigated 25 reported cases, some two-thirds of which were directly related to outright theft and fraud. As in Yemen, most of the $5.5 billion in American aid was distributed through the United Nations and a host of partner organizations.

The simultaneous funding of war and aid

Areas along the frontline of Yemen’s ongoing war, such as the country’s western coast as well as border areas, are a priority for many relief organizations. Yet those organizations often provide little in the way of humanitarian support and instead have been found to be gathering intelligence or recruiting new fighters on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition, according to local residents. Many relief agencies have paid huge sums of money to the heads of local tribes. Two Yemeni tribal leaders, known locally as sheiks, told MintPress on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject, that they received payments from Mercy Core as an incentive to carry out secret tasks for the Coalition. The nature of those tasks was not revealed.

According to documents reviewed by MintPress and interviews with employees of relief organizations as well as eyewitnesses who spoke to MintPress, many organizations are working with groups classified by the United States as terrorists, including Ansar al-Sharia, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). For Example, the American Mercy Core allegedly contracted Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen’s Abyan province through an unauthorized Somali merchant to supply the group with foodstuffs and money.

Last week, authorities in Sana’a detained a number of U.N. humanitarian workers accused of spying, including two Jordanians who have since been released. Authorities accuse UN relief organizations of funding and conspiring with intelligence services to secretly target Yemenis, along with importing expired drugs and withholding fuel shipments.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two of its citizens conducting a humanitarian audit in Yemen were released and later flown home. The World Food Program, for its part, said that none of its workers were being held by authorities in Sana’a.

Amongst the largest donors and financiers of U.N relief organizations are the very same countries participating in the war on Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and supported by the United States.

Saudi Arabia United Nations Donation

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presents a donation to the UN’s Antonio Guterres during a meeting about Yemen, March 2018. Dennis Van Tine | IPx

Most of these organizations’ workers have political loyalty to ousted president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, or to the UAE or Saudi Arabi.

As a result of the lack of neutrality of a number of organizations, many Yemenis have not only been denied humanitarian aid, the risk to aid workers working in the country has grown. Last week, UN Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller warned the Security Council that attacks on aid workers have escalated in Yemen.

Corruption undermines the trust of civilians and donors

A number of Yemenis that spoke to MintPress said that they are not receiving any humanitarian assistance. Fatima, a 45-year-old mother of four, said she had not received food or medicine from aid organizations in four years. Fatima suffers from Inflammation of the spinal cord and relies on aid to get by. “No organization has helped us, where does the money go?” she asked.

Yemenis activists say that relief organizations, including UN organizations, are making a fortune in Yemen, asking the UN and international agencies to provide financial reports on how hundreds of millions of dollars that have been poured into Yemen since 2015 have been spent.

For its part, NAMCHA has called for the formation of an international committee to investigate the corruption of international organizations working in Yemen. However, the UN puts much of the blame on the Houthis, saying they have diverted donated food, medicine, fuel and money from desperate people over the course of the country’s five-year war.

The UN accuses the Houthis of corruption and stealing food and medicine for its own use. Yet most of the money squandered during humanitarian operations has been lost in the financing of marginal projects, procurement, transport and the distribution of medicines, food, and building materials, responsibilities which lie exclusively with relief organizations according to Transparency International.

The corruption of international relief organizations, as well as the bias they seem to harbor, undermines the trust of Yemen’s civilians on multiple levels. War-weary people don’t trust aid agencies to provide assistance and local authorities don’t trust the principled rhetoric around impartiality. Ultimately, this leads to donors not trusting that their money will reach the people who need it most.

Next? After Iraq, Saudi Social Media Bots Deployed to Influence Lebanon Protests

Next? After Iraq, Saudi Social Media Bots Deployed to Influence Lebanon Protests

By Staff

Less than a month after exposing the involvement of Saudi Arabian social media bots in the protests that engulfed Iraq, today’s analyses revealed the same electronic hands behind provoking hatred during Lebanon protests.

A study published by Tansikeyah News on Tuesday revealed that 78% of the accounts using hashtags to incite hatred in the Lebanese society were Saudi.

Additionally, Assistant Professor in Middle East Studies and Digital Humanities Marc Owen Jones studied the suspicious hashtags that were used during the still ongoing protests in Lebanon.

In a thread of tweets he published on his Twitter account, Owen said I looked at suspected influence campaigns criticizing Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

“I analyzed around 6,500 tweets from around 4,494 unique accounts. There were a few things I found quite striking. Firstly, the spike in accounts created in September 2019, which was obviously before the escalation of protests in Lebanon. Again this might not be unusual for suspicious accounts, which will become active when required and high suspension rates means usually they are ‘newer’,” Owen noted.

“The 180 accounts created in September 2019 compares to around the 31 per month average – a large difference. Although I assume it goes without saying (perhaps I shouldn’t) it is also common for dramatic events to drive people to creating Twitter events. Although I am not sure why September 2019 outstrips October 2019,” he added.

He went on to explain that “many of the new accounts have tell-tale signs of spam accounts – such as usernames that look like random strings. Much of the content on the hashtags are the type of crude cartoons you’d expect on influence campaigns.”

A brief locational analysis of the tweets also suggested that most of the accounts are based in Saudi Arabia, Owen stated.

“Around 35% of the 2,297 accounts with location data were from Saudi.”

While Saudi has the highest Twitter population in the world, Owen said he usually sees this kind of turnout on hashtags criticizing Iran and Hezbollah. Some of the almost brand-new accounts created in Sept/Oct 2019 are ‘very spammy.’

A couple of them, which RT a lot of Saudi loyalist accounts have as many as 10,000 + tweets, despite only being a month and a half old.

Owen concluded that there is certainly some sort of Twitter campaign afoot to demonize Nasrallah. 

“So yes, as has become the custom on Twitter, different forces are trying to inflame tensions in other countries, polluting organic discussions with inorganic content.”

Earlier in the month, analytics revealed that the trending hashtag that was most used regarding rallies in Iraq was used by only 6% users in the country, while 79% were from Saudi Arabia.

The hashtag was precisely used by 58000 Twitter users based in Saudi Arabia, who definitely caused more escalation in the already tense situation.

Relatively, 200 robots retweeted 13000 related tweets at the time.

Now the question is which country will be the next target of Saudi Arabia’s continued hatred-spreading propaganda? And the repeated question is why Saudi Arabia is deploying its social bots to do this dirty job?

Iran…..The World’s Biggest Exporter of Terrorism?

By Prof. Anthony Hall

Source

Reflections on Global Geopolitics, on an Iranian Conference in Beirut, and on a Canadian Federal Election

Tony and New Horizon in Black and White a8f76

I was out of the country for two weeks during the opening phase of the political contest that will culminate in a Canadian national election on October 21. In late September I took part in a controversial conference in Beirut Lebanon. Since ancient times Beirut has been a pivotal city in the strategic zone on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea where Asia, Africa and Europe converge. Beirut has been dramatically rebuilt in an atmosphere of relative stability over recent years, but especially since the turning back of the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 2006.

The conference was organized by the Iran-based New Horizon organization. My time with the distinguished members of the international group assembled in Lebanon has helped me to see more clearly some of the core issues in the rapidly changing configurations of global geopolitics. It has also helped me to appreciate better the nature of problems closer to my Canadian home.

Looking outward from the perspective of the Beirut conference I have garnered many new insights on a variety of issues. In particular, I gained fuller appreciation of the problems plaguing the vitality of public discourse in my own North American country. I have had to face a heightened appreciation of the stunted and parochial character of public discourse in Canada even during a national election campaign. It seems there is a dearth of thoughtful commentary emerging to address the possibility of new roles for Canada in rapidly changing configurations of global power. It seems there is little willingness to consider the possibility of a dramatic reshaping of the political, economic, cultural and military interactions that help define Canada’s place in the global community of communities.

I found Lebanon to be an environment much more conducive than Canada to the exercise of free speech. The discussions in which I took part in Lebanon helped confirm for me the tight censorship of permissible public discourse in Canadian institutions these days. The formal and informal censorship extends to harsh repression of thought, discussion and publication in, for instance, agencies of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian universities and the core institutions in our failing parliamentary democracy.

Tony and Lebanese Flag 3c4af

The pattern is not unique to Canada. The repression of public discourse is fast reaching crisis proportions throughout the Occident. The clampdown of free speech is manifest especially in the rush by powerful political lobbies to censor the Internet.

Much of the rush to control the Internet’s content and search mechanisms is going forward in the name of a seemingly benevolent opposition to “hate speech.” It is important to bring skeptical eyes to appreciate the true priorities of arbitrarily-appointed censors who claim the want to wrestle “hate speech” into insignificance. It seems the ill-conceived war on terror is giving rise to a similarly ill-conceived war on hate speech.

In far too many cases the zeal by elites to decide what people can read, watch and hear on the Internet is being carried out in the name of a censorious war on hate speech. In the final analysis, the zeal to filter, constrain and reconfigure the Internet’s content and motifs of digital interaction is tightly aligned with the self-serving agendas of some of society’s most ruthless power brokers.

The Yemeni Connection to the New Horizon Conference of 2019 in Beirut

As the New Horizon conference got going, one of the delegates shared with us early news about the startling events taking place inside the southern boundary of Saudi Arabia around the town of Narjan. Assan Al-Emad, a Yemeni leader, shared with the attendees at the Beirut conference insights and information that, to the best of my knowledge, has been sparse and misleading in the zealously policed content of the Occident’s mainstream media.

Even before the circulation of some international reports about the military breakthrough being executed by the Yemeni army together with the organized Houthi resistance, Mr. Al-Emad shared with the conference delegates a running commentary on the remarkable news emerging from his home region. The new developments had as their background the Saudi Arabian military assault beginning in 2015 on the civilian population of its Yemen in the southwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula. Part of that aggressive warfare has involved the Saudi attempt to blockade all Yemeni land, air, and seaports in order to starve the indigenous population into submission.

The Saudi war is directed at returning Yemen to the status of a subordinate satellite of the world’s wealthiest and notorious Petro tyranny. The Saudi attempt to obliterate the vital infrastructure supporting the lives of the Yemen civilian population is backed by a large coalition of Occidental and Arab powers. These powers include Canada, Israel, the United States, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.

In recent years the Saudi assault on Yemen has been widely recognized as the basis of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. The invasion has directly affected about 80% of Yemen’s 24 million people where starvation in running rife. As a high-level UNICEF official put it, “Yemen has become today a living hell for children…. with 400,000 children suffering acute malnutrition.”

Those engaged in the Yemeni resistance to Saudi Arabia’s assault on their country began in the summer of 2019 to demonstrate increasingly sophisticated forms of self-defense especially through the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles including drones. In mid-September this strategy of targeting Saudi installations in the cause of undermining the strength of the imperial predator extended to hitting oil-producing and oil-refining installations of the Saudi corporate giant, Aramco.

As the New Horizon delegates learned in Beirut, the Yemeni resistance forces followed up this action in late September by capturing about 2,000 Saudi officers and their mercenary soldiers who hail from many locations including Sudan, Pakistan, and Iraq. The Yemeni resistance also captured hundreds of Saudi military vehicles including some light armored vehicles made in Ontario by a Canadian-based unit of General Dynamics.

The turnaround in the military balance of power in the Arabian Peninsula in September of 2019 has many global implications. There is no doubt this turnaround is a game-changer with many far-reaching implications. The Yemeni resistance demonstrates that the world’s biggest importer of armaments emanating mostly from the United States cannot repel a concerted attack on the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces within Saudi territory. The attack comes from highly-skilled fighting units hailing mostly from one of the poorest and most aggressively assaulted countries in the world.

In 1945 Saudi Arabia was effectively taken over by the United States and its oil and gas sector. The USA claimed the lion’s share of Arabia’s fossil fuel wealth as one of the main fruits of victory for intervening to help shift the balance of power towards the allies in the Second World War. The family of Ibn Saud was entrusted to play the role of custodian of the massive Saudi oil fields largely on behalf of the emerging US superpower with its imperial headquarters in the Pentagon.

Now in 2019, the balance of world power is shifting again, this time to the disadvantage of the United States. The drone attacks on Aramco followed by the humiliation of the Saudi Armed Forces captured en masse in their own territory demonstrates once again that the Saudi royal dynasty is in dire trouble. The monarchical system of Saudi Arabia does not serve the largest majority of its own people. Nor is Saudi Arabia capable of carrying on the protection for the Zio-American empire of one of the world’s primary caches of the black gold that fuels this extended era of dirty industrialization.

The royal dynasty established by Ibn Saud with British and then US-backing is showing itself to have been outmaneuvered and outsmarted by poor but determined regional enemies. These enemies have been generated over several generations through the now-legendary ineptitude of corrupt Saudi leadership that is widely resented by millions both inside and outside the petrodollar’s heartland.

The absurd dependence of the Occident on the Wahabi Kingdom run by mentally-unstable billionaire princes is becoming increasingly obvious. The Kingdom’s vulnerability to the growing sophistication of the Yemeni resistance exposes many of the internal contradictions plaguing the corrupt constitution of the most zealous drivers of imperial globalization.

The logistical sophistication embodied in the victories of the Yemeni resistance should not be underestimated. The operation demonstrates that the Yemeni resistance has much support within Saudi Arabia. The resistance has agents and collaborators inside the Saudi Kingdom that are obviously ready, willing and able to supply vital intelligence of developments on the ground.

Among the many elements of the victory by the Yemeni resistance is the shutting down of Jizan airport and the targeting of nearby Saudi bases so that reinforcements could not be sent into battle. A particularly bold maneuver was aimed at sidelining Apache helicopters parked at King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh. The Yemeni resistance deployed missiles, drones and anti-aircraft systems to prevent Saudis from supporting their troops in the air. They used various electronic jamming devices to disrupt Saudi systems of command and control.  Yemeni resistance demonstrated its ability to blind the expensive Patriot radar system sold to the Saudis at great expense by US war profiteers.

Why are the startling developments in the Arabian Peninsula not generating significant political discussion here in Canada during our federal election? Can it even be said that there is sufficient objective reporting reaching the heavily censored airwaves and print reporting in the Occident to enable even a modicum of informed commentary on the recent developments? What obstructions are being put in the way of wider recognition that the balance of power in the Arabian Peninsula and in global geopolitics is being inalterably affected by dramatic turnarounds in a very significant theatre of military conflict?

In spite of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s war of words with the Saudi government, Canada maintains extremely close relations with the leadership and business sector of the Saudi Kingdom. This close relationship goes back at least to 1984 when the Saudi plutocrat, Adnan Kashoggi, met in Toronto with top officials of the then-ruling Ontario government of Bill Davis. In those days this Saudi “playboy” and “arm’s merchant” was often billed as the world’s richest man.

Until he was offered up as a fall guy in the Iran-Contra scandal based on the discovery of a covert supply line largely running largely through Canada, the late Jamal Khashoggi’s uncle, Adnan, was an ideal candidate for star coverage. Adnan Khashoggi’s ostentatious lifestyle perfectly fit the dominant plotline of the hit TV series, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

Khashoggi’s close partner was Peter Munk who some have described as an agent charged to advance the financial interests of Canada’s Bronfman family dynasty. Khashoggi and Munk teamed up in Toronto with the aim of preparing a public offering of Barrick Gold shares. The history of Barrick Gold in Canada is deeply intertwined with the rising importance of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. The Barrick Gold Company has been used as a primary commercial base for the Conservative and Republican parties of former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, and former US President, George H.W. Bush.

On the other side of Canada’s main electoral rivalry is the large international engineering firm, SNC-Lavalin. This corporate entity has been fashioned as one of the primary commercial platforms cultivated as a base of operations for the Liberal Party of Canada. The covert merger of public and private interests in the corporatocracy embodied by the international operations of SNC has been an important pillar in the rise of the Trudeau family dynasty.

The changing situation in Saudi Arabia is deeply integrated into the substance of the SNC-Lavalin fiasco, a complex scandal that has created a significant political problem menacing Justin Trudeau’s quest for re-election. Canada’s SNC scandal has some of its major roots in the company’s efforts to gain multiple engineering contracts in Libya through wholesale bribery of the Gaddafi family, but especially Muammar’s son, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi.

The scandal swirling around SNC is this election no doubt also involves Saudi Arabia where the company employs 9.000 individuals. This number is comparable to the number of people employed in the SNC’s Montreal headquarters. Justin Trudeau speaks often about the need to protect SNC jobs in his own Montreal riding. The current Prime Minister, however, never elaborates on the Libyan and Saudi Arabian background of the company’s effort to exploit its Liberal Party connections in order to evade multiple criminal charges including some emanating from the World Bank.

The failure to even notice the dramatic military turnaround being suffered by Canada’s Saudi ally during the height of our national election is reminiscent of a similar case in 2011. During the federal election of 2011 the Canadian Armed Forces began to play a large role in NATO’s bombing campaign aimed at an illegal and ill-considered regime change in Libya.

This military intervention culminated in the vigilante-style murder/sodomy of Muammar Gadaffi. The murder was executed by a well-armed mob left free by NATO and the UN to commit a ruthless act of lethal violence against a sitting head-of-state and against what remains of the degraded viability of anything resembling an international rule of law. “We came, we saw, he died” exclaimed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a now-notorious statement that succinctly sums up the nature of her strategic understanding of how power is exercised.

In 2011 the leaders of all the major political parties in Canada conspired with the mainstream media to make sure no significant opening was allowed for significant electoral debate on Canada’s role in the Occident’s treatment of the government and people of Libya. It seems that our political masters increasingly want to sideline the big issues of war and peace, life and death, as eligible subjects for formal debate in national elections. National elections in which corrupt media venues deny citizens the basic information we require to make informed decisions are of dubious legitimacy.

Navigating Relations Between USA, Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia

On September 29 when I was still in Beirut, the US TV network, CBS, broadcasted an interview with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin-Salman. The interview was recorded several days before the item was televised. It was the first English-language interview granted by the Crown Prince since reports emerged in October of 2018 that Saudi government officials had gruesomely murdered in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate a prominent Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The exchange between the hands-on ruler of the Saudi Kingdom and journalist Norah O’Donnell appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes. There might have been some real rhetorical fireworks generated in Canada by the 60 Minutes telecast if our electoral process was a genuinely open exercise in candid political interaction rather than a televised spectacle scripted to adhere to the narrow boundaries of permitted debate.

Generally speaking, national electorates are frequently discouraged by the experts in media spin from looking beyond a few well-marked subjects of domestic concern. In my view, this systemic sabotaging of democratic spontaneity in elections– this betrayal of the rights and responsibilities of free speech– is contributing significantly to Canada’s increasingly anemic role in the international arena.

Abdel Bari Atwan, the Editor-In-Chief of Rai al-Youmoffered up the following characterization of the televised performance of the man pulling most of the strings of Saudi monarchical rule. Mr. Atwan wrote that bin Salman was

unusually conciliatory towards Iran and its allies, completely abandoning the hawkish escalatory tone that has characterized most if not all his previous interviews…. The most plausible explanation for this sudden outbreak of dovishness is that the Saudi Crown prince feels betrayed and deceived by his Western allies, especially the US. They left him standing alone to face a succession of Iranian or Iranian-backed attacks and failed to retaliate after key Saudi oil facilities were targeted three times in succession — including the very nerve center of its petroleum industry in Abqeiq and Khreis, slashing its output by half.

Prince bin Salman conducted the taped interview with CBS prior to the circulation of news that the Saudi land forces had suffered a major defeat on Saudi territory at the hands of the Yemeni resistance. Nevertheless, the change in the military balance of power was already well advanced when the Saudi leader made his comments.

I am more skeptical than is Mr. Atwan about the sincerity of the Crown Prince’s sudden “dovishness.” Since the exchange on 60 Minutes was the first interview Prince bin Salman had granted since the murder by Saudi officials of Jamal Khashoggi, the prevailing mood of the Saudi leader was animated by his need to eat some humble pie on American TV. His tone of light contrition affected his way of talking about Iran. Under the circumstances, bin Salman pulled back from engaging in his usual sword rattling rhetoric highlighting the military dimension of Saudi Arabia’s conflict with its Iranian opponent.

By appointing itself as a harbinger of war, the CBS network afforded Crown Prince bin Salman considerable latitude to feign the role of a sensible friend of peace among nations. I for one did not find bin Salman at all credible in this personae. When seeking a response from the Crown Prince about drone strikes on Aramco, Norah O’Donnell declared sharply, “Iran struck Aramco.” Not surprisingly the journalist offered up no evidence or explanation to back CBS’s attempt to advance the interests of the war party that seeks to incite public support for a US-led invasion of Iran.

On behalf of his Liberal federal government, Justin Trudeau has aggravated the conditions that have rendered Canada a foe of Iran and a friend of Saudi Arabia including in its recent history of genocidal incursions into Yemen. Trudeau had promised in the last federal election of 2015 to re-establish with Iran formal diplomatic relations.

In 2012 Stephen Harper strongly took the side of the anti-Iranian war party. Harper implemented the Israel Lobby’s request that Canada should withdraw from diplomatic relations with Tehran. Not only did Trudeau fail in his first term to make good on this election promise to the Canadian people. Trudeau added insult to injury by adding to the weight of antagonisms with Iran. He carried through with Harper’s plan to appropriate Iranian property in Canada in order to redistribute it to “victims of terrorism.”

“The New Horizon conferences has been a platform where many of the world’s most formidable dissident intellectuals can meet in person”

I began attending New Horizon conferences in Tehran in 2014. Since then, the New Horizon conferences have given rise to a New Horizon movement. In partnership with our Iranian colleagues, the New Horizon group is made up largely of independent-minded skeptics based widely throughout the Occident. A common denominator informing many participants in the New Horizon movement is a significant loss of confidence in the capacity of Western governments, media cartels, universities, and political lobbies to operate within a framework of relative honesty, integrity and respect for the requirements of law and due process.

An example of the kind of understanding that animates many who have attended the New Horizon conferences is a willingness to engage in clear condemnation of the audacious misrepresentations of the events of September 11, 2001. The wrongheaded notions concerning who did what to whom on 9/11 and why have been followed up by the perpetration of subsequent acts of false flag terrorism. This Deep State engineering of Islamophobic responses to 9/11 has helped in the creation of public support for US invasions of Muslim-majority countries including Iraq and Iran.

An overriding preoccupation of the Israel Lobby and of many Israel First partisans is to persuade the leadership of the US government to invade Iran. This agenda has been promoted relentlessly since the 9/11 false-flag terror event of 2001. As President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton was one of the most obsessive promoters of a US-led war on Iran in order to serve Israel’s expansionistic agenda. Was Bolton fired because Donald Trump discovered that one of his key advisers on international and strategic affairs was first and foremost serving Benjamin Netanyahu as a White House spy?

It seems Trump has attempted to offer up some red meat to the hawks demanding an invasion of Iran. The US President has expanded the frontiers of so-called “sanctions” on Iran. The term, “sanctions,” that has become a kind of code for many-faced forms of economic warfare. The effort to expand the field of sanctions targeting Iran’s economy has had its base in the US Treasury branch and in particular in the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Created in the wake of 9/11, the keepers of this Office have consistently been zealous Israel First neoconservatives from Stuart Levy to David Cohen to Sigal Mandelker.

Mandelker, a current or past Israeli citizen, became part of the wave of Israel First partisans who flooded into high-ranking positions in the administration of US President George W. Bush after 9/11. She became an economic hit woman as the Global War on Terror coalesced to become the US government’s top strategic priority.

During her quick rise up the ladder of administrative power within the US government, Mandelker served as a clerk for ultraconservative Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas and as a lawyer representing Homeland Security czar, Michael Chertoff. Apparently Mandelker played a role on behalf of the federal Justice Department in arranging the sweetheart deal extended to Jeffrey Epstein in Florida in 2008 for various infractions including child sex trafficking. There is much literature suggesting that a big part of Epstein’s operation involved creating the conditions for Mossad and other related intelligence agencies to blackmail key politicians.

Like so many of her Israel First colleagues, Mandelker became obsessed with heaping recriminations on Iran. She was prominent among the Israel First partisans who were inducted en masse into the deep bowels of the international affairs branches of the US government after 9/11. In spite of much evidence to the contrary, she regularly charges Iran with trying to obtain nuclear weapons. At the same time, she remains completely mum on the reality of Israel’s still-unacknowledged possession of many nuclear weapons.

As Mandelker sees it, “Iran is “posing an incredibly destabilizing presence in the region.” She added, “They’re threatening our great ally in the region, Israel!”

Given even the partial information that has already emerged concerning Mandelker’s relationship to the USA and Israel, certain questions have been emerging. In her work as a US economic intelligence officer has Sigal Mandelker been working as a spy for the Israeli government, a polity well known over the years for conducting very concerted espionage operations in the United States?

Has Mandelker’s work figured at all into the spying allegations directed by one branch of the FBI at AIPAC and at the neocon’s very hawkish organization, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies? Was Mandelker’s recent resignation on October 2 an indication that the substance of her work in the US Treasury Branch could not withstand skeptical scrutiny concerning the substance of what she was really doing on behalf of her patrons and clients in Israel and the United States?

In her last weeks as the primary enforcer of the USA’s campaign of economic warfare targeting Iran, Sigal Mandelker went on a kind of sanctions blitzkrieg. As part of her economic warfare activities, Mandelker targeted the New Horizon conference as well as its top organizers. In particular, Mandelker pinned the new label of “Global Terrorist” on Iranian broadcaster, Nader Talebzadeh, and on his Lebanese wife, Zeinab Mehanna.

This effort to further isolate Iran and to throw up obstacles to any peace-making dialogue between US and Iranian citizens went further. FBI officers visited the 11 public intellectuals in the United States who had planned to attend the New Horizon conference in Beirut between September 20 and 26. All these individuals were threatened with heavy fines and jail time if they took part in an event whose aims include identifying means of avoiding disastrous bloody wars. What US interests would be served by a US-led invasion on 80 million Persian people whose government happens to be in a strong position to respond with a formidable national self-defense?

Among those pressured into staying home was Dr. Kevin Barrett, an outspoken Muslim critic of the dubious assumptions and outright lies animating the conduct of the Global War on Terror. Dr. Barrett summed up as follows his understanding of the reason for attempting to sanction and thus cripple an event dedicated to advancing the arts of sciences of dialogue and peace over the devastations of war. He wrote,

I think the Tehran-based New Horizon NGO has been targeted because its conferences are viewed as an ideological threat to powerful special interests here in the US. Mainstream Iranian intellectuals like New Horizon organizer and filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh, the most popular TV host in Iran, hold views of the US empire, Israel, and related issues that are very different from the views allowed expression in mainstream American media and politics. Yet a great many well-informed people, globally and here in the US, largely agree with some or most aspects of the mainstream Iranian view, and disagree with the mainstream American one. The New Horizon conferences have been a platform where many of the world’s most formidable dissident intellectuals can meet in person, get to know each other, and find ways to promote their interpretations of world events.

Michael Maloof was another member of the group of Americans who had planned to attend the New Horizon conference but who warned by federal police to stay away if they wanted to avoid harsh consequences. A 30-year veteran of the US Defense Department, Maloof retired as a senior security policy analyst with the Office of the Secretary of Defence. Of his reason for being drawn into the orbit of the New Horizon movement, Maloof said of himself and of his American colleagues, “We’re all still US patriots, but we believe there’s another way to go about things other than looking at everything in Iran through the prism of Israel.”

Because the US delegates did not attend, I found myself to be the only North American delegate included in the program. The contrast between my treatment by my own Canadian government and the treatment of my US colleagues by their government is significant. As I see it, there are good reasons for Canada and Iran to return to normal diplomatic and economic relations. I am of course pleased to be left free to advocate this position of normalization of relations in the developments of policies in both Ottawa and Tehran.

My presentation on the podium of the New Horizon conference on Sept. 23 dealt with my reflections on some of my recent research for a paper entitled “The Israel Lobby and University Governance.” I initiated this research following an episode that put me at the center of a crude and illegal assault mounted by the Israel Lobby in partnership with the administration of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada. This administration failed grossly to live up to its fiduciary responsibilities to adhere to the contractual protections for academic freedom in Canada.

Nader and Tony 4905b

My unilateral suspension from my professional duties in October of 2016 was pushed forward in a way that denied me pay, due process or the proferring of any coherent evidence to which I could respond. A court in Alberta court eventually condemned unequivocally this combination of administrative actions. The win for my faculty association and I, however, took place after the Israel Lobby in Canada had already mounted a specious media smear campaign with the aim of delegitimizing me professionally. The effort to try to outlaw as “anti-Semitic” any criticism of Israel and its treatment of Palestinian people is moving in the same direction in North America as the travesty of smear directed at Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in Great Britain.

Meanwhile, it is unlikely that most of the issues I raised in Beirut and in this essay will make their way into the gate-kept confines shaping the current parochial character of electioneering in Canada. The Israel Lobby as embodied in organizations like B’nai Brith Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is seeing to it that any debate on Israel/Palestinians affairs is held to a minimum. Moreover, I am not optimistic that any of the contenders for the job of Canadian prime minister have the capacity, courage, insight or independence to mount a thoughtful political debate on the need for Canada to reorient the dominant motifs of our interactions with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?

Like many Israel First mouthpieces in North America, Sigal Mandelker repeats often many of the slogans of the anti-Iran war party. Like John Bolton, she has tried to fan the flames of extreme Islamophobia and Iranophobia. She seeks to push the US government to lead a monumental war project that would target the Persian heartland. She labels Iran with the unsupported slogan that the Muslim-majority country is the “biggest exporter of terrorism in the world.” Seldom do those who constantly repeat this mantra ever attempt to explain the assertion.

One obvious way of calling into question the claims equating Iran with the international support of terrorism is to point out the relative peace and stability currently enjoyed by all the citizens of Lebanon. These citizens include Shia, Sunni and Christian groups. This stability is to some extent founded on Iran’s backing of forces that helped defend Lebanon’s territorial integrity against armed intervention by the Israeli Defence Force in 2006. Iran’s positive relation with the government of Lebanon helps to explain how it is that the most recent New Horizon conference took place in Beirut.

Iran’s relationship with the Yemeni resistance, which by and large emerges from deep within the Aboriginal cultures of the Indigenous peoples, also helps cast doubt on the Israel Lobby’s propagandistic condemnation of Iran. Any reasonable account of the Saudi invasion of the life support system of Yemeni citizens since 2015 reveals the obvious fact that the Saudis are the aggressors and that their victims are the targets of round after round of ruthless state terrorism.

If anyone is a leading exporter of terrorism, it is the Saudi Arabian monarchy. The Houthis and other Yemeni citizens are prominent among the victims of the Saudi government with its weird missionary preoccupations aimed at spreading its own Takfiri form of Wahabi fundamentalism.

Saudi Arabia, the USA and Israel have much to do with the creation and backing of the al-Qaeda and ISIL/Daesh, proxy armies that consistently fought the armed forces of the elected governments of Syria, Iran, and Russia. The forces of the so-called “Islamic state” fought with the backing of Israel, the USA and many NATO countries. Iran itself has had to defend its own citizens from the incursion of ISIL/Daesh.

Iran has had to absorb a cyberwar directed at it by the National Security apparatus of the USA and Israel. This attack included the goal of crippling Iran’s local system for generating electrical energy. Iran has had to absorb many ruthless assassinations of its nuclear scientists. Iran has to face the West’s growing political support of a former Marxist organization that is much despised by many indigenous Persians. The violent group, MeK, is being cast in much the same role as was Ahmed Chalabi prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. MeK is being groomed to take up the levers of power in Iran following the regime change war being persistently promoted even by the likes of the CBS television network.

How is it a promotion of terrorism for Iran to intervene in Lebanon in the process that has brought some peace and stability to benefit all the citizens of a very diverse and pluralistic country? How is it a promotion of terrorism to render some assistance to an indigenous fighting force whose aim is to protect Yemeni citizens from the genocidal incursions of the predatory Saudi royal dynasty? How is it an export of terrorism for Iran to support the elected government of Syria against those invaders seeking to balkanize and subjugate the country in order to advance a malevolent agenda involving, it seems, an endless series of US wars for Israel?

%d bloggers like this: