China’s Peace in West Asia

May 18, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Janna Kadri 

The Chinese-brokered agreement emerged in retaliation to the US as the latter continues to wage a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing China’s domestic stability with regard to Taiwan.

Under the auspices of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations on March 10. At the time of the deal’s announcement, US President Joe Biden said better relations between “Israel” and their Arab neighbors are better for everybody rather than relations with Iran. Better for “everybody” depends on what is meant for everybody. If it means the US financial classes and their Arab and Zionist comprador in the region, then Biden is spot on. However, for the masses of the Arab World that experience declining living standards, whether by peace or war, the US-Israeli aggression against them will not stop. What must be understood is that the aggression is necessary for Western wealth-making because it extracts regional resources, which should otherwise better Arab social conditions, and ships them to US-European markets in order to feed exponential growth and profits.

Moreover, the aggression, whether military or ideological, is itself an industry in its own right, which fuels wealth accumulation. At a first-principle level, the policies that dominate the air-waves, all aim to foment wars. To extoll the virtues of the market, erect a cultural identity that aborts the potential of labor as a historical agent, and push down the throat of indebted states policies of privatization and private property, leaves little resources for the peoples of the region and delivers them into inter-communal strife. The case of Sudan is one such blatant example. The wars visited upon the Arabs drive away their resources and are therefore a must for the global financial class.

However, capital or the principal social relation governing the remaking of the global order is a two-pronged process. At first, capital is of the same class fabric, and it initially aims at oppressing workers everywhere. This capital against labor is a first contradiction. A second but not secondary contradiction is the inter-capitalist competition for power, which determines the shares of the various circles of capital. For instance, the US sits atop the capital pyramid and receives a fallout in rent depending on its power standing. It would not want lower suzerains to catch more of the rents. It sometimes sacrifices its bourgeois allies to grab their shares. Saudi Arabia was one such candidate readied to be sacrificed along with some sections of its ruling class.

With the rise of China, the global balance of forces shifted, and bourgeois classes disgruntled with the US’s avarice for rents saw a window of opportunity to save themselves. After years of war with Yemen at the behest of empire to secure the Mandeb straits, it was left weakened and alone. Sensing the danger of bourgeois fratricide, the Saudis intelligently decided to maneuver into a position backed by Chinese guarantees of security. China builds capacity and détente abroad, which are measures anathema to US imperialism whose goal is to destabilize in order to snatch resources.

For the US, War Masquerades as Peace

In efforts to normalize relations between “Israel” and the Arab world, the US brokered a series of agreements called The Abraham Accords. They propose a strategy of forging alliances with “Israel” to counterbalance the Axis of Resistance. They base the rationale for joining Arab and Israeli forces on an alleged Iranian threat. Already, these Arab ruling classes were extensions of and under the purview of the US-Israeli ruling classes. Their coming out is nothing less than a sign of weakness to reposition forces around a strengthening Axis of resistance.

These Abrahamic shenanigans provide new venues for class allies to enhance their own aggressive capabilities through the purchase of arms from “Israel”. “Israel”, by the way, is the largest exporter of arms per capita in the world. So far, “Israel” normalizes with Oman, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco and Sudan, in addition to the earlier trophies of peace, Jordan and Egypt. It shares an informal relation with Saudi Arabia and Doha. It for instance conducts diamond trade in Doha while Saudi Arabia has recently opened its airspace for Israeli commercial airplanes.

The so-called Abraham Accords are an unthinkable ‘promise’ for peace without Palestine and the right of return. They supposedly foster incremental developments with the GCC by precluding even the lowly option of a two-state solution which was endorsed by the Arab Peace Initiative (API). Saudi Arabia maintained that its position remains solely expressed through its commitment to the API, wherein normalization with “Israel” would only be conceivable once the conditions listed in the Arab-brokered initiative are fulfilled. But the fact that UAE, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain normalized their relations with “Israel” is indicative of consent by Saudi Arabia. As observed by Israeli writer Henrique Zimmerman, the signatories of the Accords “would not have signed the agreement without the approval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the most influential country in the Arab world.” So what would have really prevented an alliance between “Israel” and Saudi Arabia?

In a previous article, I showed how the US failed to fulfill its security commitments toward Saudi Arabia. Whereas Saudi Arabia has boosted the US status as a world hegemon by denominating its oil in dollars, the US has failed to stick to its side of the bargain by ensuring that the Saudi Kingdom has all its security needs, foremost its regime, or ruling class security answered. Fearing the tightening grip of the Axis of resistance around it, normalization with “Israel” went out of the window, while China provided the face-saving arrangement with Iran.  

An agreement “Made in China”

Unlike the US, China needs peace to expand. The Chinese-brokered agreement emerged in retaliation to the US as the latter continues to wage a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing China’s domestic stability with regard to Taiwan. It is retaliatory because it presents a strategic threat to US interests and its hegemonic influence across the Arab region. It is also retaliatory because it threatens to undermine the petrodollar system upon which the dollar supremacy is based on. Since the Saudi-Iran agreement went into effect, it is only fair to characterize the scale of the changes that ensued following its implementation as unprecedented. Very much like a drop of water falling into a puddle, the agreement rippled across the region, bearing fruits in Yemen and Syria.

First are the developments that ensued between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. For eight years Yemen endured a US-sponsored war that has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people. On April 9, Saudi officials met with high-ranking officials from the Sanaa government for peace negotiations, and on April 14, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced that a massive prisoner exchange operation had kicked off. On April 29, senior member of the Ansar Allah political bureau Ali Al-Qahoum admitted that China played a pivotal role in the negotiations for restoring regional peace and warding off Western hegemony. Some challenges however remain with regards to US and UK interference in pushing for another escalation. Yet a positive outlook persist as officials from both sides mobilize efforts for dialogue. 

Secondly, there has been the push to re-integrate Syria into the Arab League through the collective efforts of several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, which has in spearheaded the move. The US and the UK had on the other hand reaffirmed their commitment to remain opposed to the restoring of ties with Damascus but they would continue to work with Arab states that rekindle diplomatic relations.  

Thirdly, there has been news of Saudi Arabia expressing an interest in holding talks with Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia was largely a precursor for designating Hezbollah as a terror organization both at the GCC level as well as in the Arab League. With a shift in policy that appears to be more driven from the Saudi side than from Iran, prospects for political stability in Lebanon are also looming. But the fact remains that Lebanon is sickened with a sectarianism fueled by geopolitical rents that easily plays into the hand of “Israel” and the US.

Fourthly, prospects for normalization with Hamas are likewise on the horizon as talks were recently held between Hamas and Saudi officials. On April 16, the two parties had met in Riyadh to hold discussions on the release of Hamas-affiliated individuals detained in Saudi jails. There are also hopes for relations to improve between Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s movement for resistance, the Kataib Hezbollah.

Finally, whether the deal restores relations between Turkey and Syria is still up to discussion. However, chances are they might broach the issue considering that the project of restoring peace in Syria is part of the wider Iran-Saudi deal agenda. Yet the presence of US troops in Syria remains problematic for two reasons: the first, US troops are stationed in Syria for the sole purpose of toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad. To loot Syria’s oil resources in the north is simply means towards that end; and secondly, because Saudi Arabia’s institutions are closely tied to the US, while the latter holds much leverage inside the Kingdom. As a key regional player, Saudi Arabia could exert pressure to restore Ankara-Damascus relations, but it is unclear how able it is to do so. 

What now?                      

The US has been setback by the China-sponsored peace. Its “rules-based” world order hangs by a thread, while its dollar supremacy wanes. Doubtless, the blow was hard for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who just a month prior to the Iran-Saudi deal said that “Israel” and Saudi Arabia were planning to join forces on the basis of a common goal of stopping Iran. By more sober analysis, normalizing with “Israel” for any regime in the region is an act of suicide, unless the march of history eliminates the working classes as subject of history.

After all the Israeli-Arab war is a war of capital against labor. The principal lesson learnt so far is that regional peace is global-relations-derived peace. The saddest part of this is that Arab progressive forces still prioritize internal demands for higher working-class wages over struggles against imperialism. Without Arab national security, there is no working-class living security.  While the region’s future and much of the Third World will depend on how China unseats the US hegemon, the Arab vanguard is fast asleep.

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Iran-Saudi detente is a setback for Israel

May 17 2023


The China-brokered Iran-Saudi deal marked a significant shift toward establishing Persian Gulf and regional stability, but is a major setback for Israelis who have cultivated Arab-Iranian divisions for years.

By Stasa Salacanin

The recent rapprochement between regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran has added a new layer to the already complicated geopolitical landscape in West Asia, especially as the kingdom was once touted to be the next major Arab state to normalize relations with Israel.

Signed in March, the Chinese-brokered agreement, which reestablishes diplomatic relations and reopens embassies in Riyadh and Tehran after a seven-year hiatus, is seen by many as a watershed moment that could potentially reduce bilateral animosity and ease tensions throughout the region.

However, the deal has caused great dismay in Tel Aviv and caught Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off guard.

It is understandable why Israel is disappointed, as the prioritization of the Abraham Accords has been a cornerstone of Israeli foreign policy in recent years. The accords, initially involving Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain in 2021, was a major foreign policy victory for Netanyahu and part of a broader strategy to isolate Iran in the region.

And normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia, the most influential Arab state today, would have solidified Israel’s ambition to establish diplomatic ties with its Arab neighbors and further enhance its diplomatic influence in West Asia.

Regional stability: A setback for Israel

Consequently, the Saudi-Iran deal is viewed by many observers as a setback to Israel’s ambitions, with some analysts even perceiving it as a diplomatic victory for the Iranians. Importantly, Riyadh’s resumption of diplomatic ties with Tehran has shifted perceptions across the Arab region, creating conditions that make the Saudis joining the Abraham Accords less likely than ever.

Equally, the resetting of relations does not necessarily mean that Iran and Saudi Arabia are putting their differences aside. As Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh of the Middle East Studies Forum at Deakin University, explains to The Cradle, “It does mean that both countries realize that escalation of tensions and the prospects of all-out conflict would be detrimental for both.”

He emphasizes that “diplomatic ties ensure viable lines of communication to ensure the cold war between the two remains on ice.”

Matteo Colombo, a researcher at Clingendael’s Conflict Research Unit, concurs, saying that a major indirect consequence of the shift in the Saudi-Iranian relationship is that regional conflicts are likely to become less violent than in previous years.

Uncertain impact on Saudi-Israeli ties

The impact of the Saudi-Iran detente on Saudi-Israeli ties remains uncertain. Russell Lucas, a professor of international relations and domestic politics and culture of the Middle East at the University of Michigan, believes that while Iran-Saudi normalization does not directly impact Saudi-Israeli relations, one should not expect dramatic moves between Tel Aviv and Riyadh who will maintain mostly discreet ties.

Akbarzadeh argues that expecting a normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia was always going to be a challenging prospect. He highlights the deep sense of injury among Muslims and Arabs due to Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands:

“How could Saudi Arabia overlook this sense of injustice and join the so-called Abraham Accords? … such a move would have delivered a major setback to Saudi’s self-image projection as the global champion of Islam.”

Dr. Mehran Kamrava, a professor of government studies at Georgetown University in Qatar, views Israel’s friendship with certain Arab states as purely instrumentalist, driven by the need to contain threats such as Iran. “A simple review of Israeli policies clarifies that Israel is among the biggest contributing factors to regional insecurity and tensions,” he tells The Cradle.

Arab reluctance to normalize

In fact, any prospects of further rapprochement between Israel and other Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, are complicated under the current far-right Israeli government. This may lead countries that were previously considering normalizing their relations with Tel Aviv to reevaluate their decisions.

While countries that have already normalized relations with Israel are unlikely to reverse the process, they may “apply the brakes at any time” on their joint initiatives in certain sectors, such as military collaboration.

Both Lucas and Akbarzadeh agree that one of the key effects of the Saudi-Iran rapprochement is the reluctance of Riyadh and other Arab states to be drawn into a confrontation with Iran on behalf of Israel. According to Lucas:

“Public opinion in the [Persian] Gulf registering concern about Israel’s right-wing government’s treatment of the Palestinians and fear of escalation has reached leaders in states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Therefore, the current developments suggest that Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states now hold more leverage in their negotiations with Israel as a result of Riyadh’s deal with Tehran, giving them more license to shape their future dealings with Tel Aviv.

Saudi intent matters

Not all views are as rosy, however. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a CNBC interview that the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran has very “little to do with Israel,” claiming that Saudi Arabia, “has no illusions about who their adversaries are and who their friends are in [West Asia].”

Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, tells The Cradle that Netanyahu is actually right when he talks about Saudi Arabia’s orientation:

“Riyadh’s foreign policy is much more aligned with Israel while the recent reduction of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia are to be very temporary – rooted in trying to reduce tensions so that Saudi Arabia can invest in its long term plan of trying to enhance economic development, attract tourists, more foreign investment, and to expand its new policy of modernization under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS).”

Hashemi thinks that “behind the scenes, the Saudi crown prince and Netanyahu both have similar visions for the future of the Middle East [West Asia] rooted in blocking regional democratization, trying to contain Iran, and influence/expand the Abraham Accords between Israel and various Arab states.”

Furthermore, he predicts that “if Donald Trump or the Republicans take the White House, Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran will go back to the period of 2017 when Saudi Arabia was very much supportive of Trump’s hawkish policy towards Iran.”

Israel’s miscalculation

But Netanyahu’s understanding of the shifting sands in Persian Gulf states – and his claims that Israel is “an indispensable partner for the Arab world in achieving security, prosperity, and peace” – may be oversimplified.

Kamrava, for example, observes that for a long time, Arab and Israeli policies toward Tehran have been guided by the assumption that Iran can be effectively marginalized and excluded from regional security arrangements:

“But the actual experience has shown that such an assumption is indeed incorrect. In fact, efforts to marginalize or exclude Iran only lead to further reactions from Iran. It is for this reason that first the UAE, and now Saudi Arabia, have changed course and have decided to engage with Iran,” he notes.

Tehran, on the other hand, “has consistently shown that it responds positively not to threats but to constructive engagement,” says Kamrava. So, “if a change in Iranian foreign policy is what regional states are after, then talking to Tehran is the best way of achieving that, rather than working to overthrow the entire Islamic Republic system, which is what Israel is advocating,” he explains.

Others concur. Israel would be mistaken to assume that hostility towards Iran is the defining dynamic in the region, as it has been for a significant part of the last decade, argues Matteo Colombo. This, he adds, “makes it more challenging for Tel Aviv to advocate for normalizing diplomatic relations with other countries in the region to contain Iran.”

The China factor

Hashemi offers another hypothesis for Saudi Arabia’s overriding strategy in its rapprochement with Iran. He believes that Riyadh’s latest moves may be viewed as a message to Washington: “Give us what we want in terms of weapon sales and security guarantees and new strategic vision arrangement that Saudi Arabia is demanding from the US for long-term commitments.”

If the US does not provide these guarantees, says Hashemi, “then Saudi Arabia may symbolically break from the US policy and start to engage with some US adversaries, including China.”  He notes that these are very short calculations, as the Saudis are still closely engaged with the west.

But the Beijing-brokered Saudi-Iran detente has created great unease in Tel Aviv and Washington, where the deal is viewed as a loss of US diplomatic initiative and influence on the world stage.

While the agreement has received broad international support, generating optimism for its potential impact against the backdrop of rapidly developing multipolarity, uncertainties persist regarding its specific outcomes. There is a lack of information over of tangible incentives and guarantees from China in ensuring the deal’s success – even while there is confidence in the motivations and commitments of the parties involved.

In terms of impartial and honest mediation, China is regarded more favorably than the US due to its positive and established relationships with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and its vested interests in maintaining peace and stability in the Persian Gulf, from which it derives much of its energy supplies.

Yemen warns Saudi Arabia against ‘procrastinating’ ending war

May 15 2023

(Photo credit: AFP)

The Yemeni official also lauded the resistance’s recent victory against Israel, and warned the coalition that Tel Aviv cannot protect it

ByNews Desk

During a march of solidarity with the Palestinian people on 14 May, a member of the Sanaa government’s Supreme Political Council, Muhammad Ali al-Houthi, accused the Saudi-led coalition of “procrastinating” with its recent promises to end the war and lift the blockade against Yemen.

Houthi said during the march that the Yemeni people must remain “vigilant and constantly prepared.”

“The enemy has so far been procrastinating in stopping the aggression and lifting the siege on Yemen,” he said.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has been involved in Omani-mediated peace talks with the Ansarallah resistance movement, which have resulted in some progress, including a prisoner exchange, as well as agreements on an eventual lifting of the blockade against Hodeidah port and Sanaa International Airport.

Saudi Arabia has also agreed to pay the salaries of all government employees in the territories of the National Salvation Government (NSG) in Sanaa, among other things.

However, as obstruction of peace efforts by Washington and the UAE continue, Saudi Arabia’s newfound willingness to end the war has been overshadowed – and recently, the coalition has resumed its violations of efforts to solidify a truce by launching border attacks and shelling regions such as Saada province and other areas.

Meanwhile, Ansarallah has maintained its siege over the strategic southwestern province of Taiz.

“We see Saudi Arabia and the UAE today, broken in the face of Yemen … it sees the Iron Dome [in Israel] and how it failed to protect the Zionists. So how can they [the Zionists] protect the normalizing countries, now?” Houthi said, referencing the malfunctions in Israel’s Iron Dome defense system during recent rocket fire on the occupied territories in last week’s battle.

Ansarallah has repeatedly warned that if peace efforts fail, it is prepared for all out war against the coalition, and is ready to strike the depths of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE with missiles.

During the march, Houthi also renewed Ansarallah’s support for the Palestinian cause and resistance, and declared its readiness to confront Israel.

“We affirm, as the Yemeni people, our loyalty to Palestine …  we are present for actual and direct participation,” he added.

The Ansarallah movement is known to possess missiles that are capable of reaching Israel, including the Zulfiqar missile, which it has used against Saudi Arabia in the past.

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UAE welcomed Israeli military aid following 2022 Yemeni airstrikes: Report

May 10 2023

A partial view of Abu Dhabi’s Musaffah industrial district, the area that came under aerial attack by Yemeni missiles in April 2022. (Photo Credit: AFP)

ByNews Desk

Israel’s haste to aid its Arab partner came in stark contrast to the muted response of the US

The UAE received extensive security assistance from Israel in April 2022 following a series of missile and drone strikes deep inside Abu Dhabi launched by Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement.

According to an updated version of the book “Trump’s Peace” by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, Tel Aviv sent a delegation of Mossad and army intelligence officials and transferred a shipment of batteries from the SPYDER air defense system to the UAE following the daring attacks that also rocked Saudi Arabia.

“We really appreciated it,” an Emirati official is quoted as having said in the book.

Tel Aviv’s haste to help its Arab ally came in stark contrast to the muted response of the US. This situation caused great discontent in Abu Dhabi and fueled ongoing tensions with President Joe Biden.

Ravid goes on to claim that former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett proposed developing a so-called “Middle East Air Defense Alliance (MEAD)” to Emirati leader Mohamed bin Zayed (MBZ) just months before the Ansarallah strikes.

This system would reportedly entail “a network of radars around the region that would operate under the umbrella of the US Central Command (CENTCOM).”

Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv normalized ties in 2020 under US sponsorship. Since then, the two nations have significantly bolstered trade and defense cooperation.

The UAE has also helped shield Israel at the UN Security Council for its abuses against Palestinians and the illegal expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The two nations are also coordinating on the occupation of Yemen’s Socotra Archipelago in a bid to have joint military control of a strategic maritime area where at least 20,000 shipping vessels pass through this year.

‘Israel’ Anticipates “Black Days”: It’s About a Multi-Front War

 April 28, 2023

Illustrative photo displaying flags of movements within the Axis of Resistance.

Ali Haidar – Al-Akhbar Newspaper (April 21, 2023)

Translated by Al-Manar English Website staff

Day after another, the Israeli army becomes convinced by an old hypothesis that the Zionist entity will engage in a multi-front confrontation. The recent resistance operations extending from the north to the south, all the way to occupied Palestine interior- the latest of which could have rolled into a wide round of fighting- only weighed this hypothesis as well.

Meanwhile, the recent operations imposed a pressure on both the political and security institutions in the occupation regime, as it deepened the state of confusion within the Israeli leadership.

However, such Israeli estimations not only did begin with the outbreak of the last “rocketry round” in the third week of the holy month of Ramadan, but rather that the latter represented a modest translation of a scenario present by the occupation leadership years ago.

Perhaps the “Chariots of Fire” military exercise, which was scheduled for 2021 and was postponed till 2022 due to the “Seif Al-Quds” battle, indicated that this scenario had been on the table since before.

According to Israeli estimates, Iran has made significant strides in its plan to deploy missiles, drones and advanced weapons around the Zionist entity, turning the occupied territories from the north to the south into a real battlefield.

As a result, the enemy lives with an obsession that it will face a harsh confrontation that simultaneously includes Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, all the way to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, especially since it is expected, in this case, to be subjected to destruction on scales that it has not witnessed throughout its history.

These estimates raised the level of concerns in the Israeli regime living with a permanent state of fear over any conflict in the region.

And what makes the picture more bleak for ‘Israel’ is that the multi-front war scenario, with its military and strategic risks, comes at a time when the Zionist entity finds itself “drowned in the most serious internal crisis in its history, while its prime minister is Benjamin Netanyahu, who promised to put Iran at the top of his priorities, is busy trying to save himself from the court’s ruling, as the people are divided,” said Chuck Freilich, former deputy national security adviser, as reported by Yedioth Ahronoth (April 19,2023).

Freilich added, “Saudi Arabia and the UAE have restored their relations with Iran, and Egypt is on the way to do so, as the regional alliance that Israel sought to build is disintegrating, with Iran’s relations with China and Russia deepening, and the crisis in our relationship with the United States is deep,” to conclude that “all the strategy that Netanyahu built has collapsed.”

The battles on more than one front have ceased, but the messages behind Megiddo operation and the subsequent missile strikes from Lebanon, Syria and Gaza against ‘Israel’ are still echoed by assessment and decision-making bodies across the Zionist entity.

In depth, the enemy’s institutions view the security developments that have taken place in recent weeks as a new phase that is highly intertwined, complex, and completely different from what they are familiar with in the maneuvers that simulated such scenarios.

Perhaps what frightens ‘Israel’ in this stage is that if it decides to retaliate it will find itself engaged in a multi-front battle that it fears and has been trying to avoid, while if it refrains from doing so, it will have accepted the erosion of its deterrent power.

The Israeli Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, confirmed in a security assessment session (on April 20) that ‘Israel’ is “at the end of the era of limited confrontations,” and that it is thus entering “a new security era that poses a real threat in all arenas at the same time.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant

Gallant remarks reflect a shift in the conscious of the Israeli security institution and anticipate the Israeli decision makers’ cautious behavior towards its options in a bid to avoid a dangerous scenario that is seen by the Israelis as the “Day of Resurrection”.

The Israeli DM summed up this shift by the Israeli military establishment, and behind it the political establishment as well, by saying: “We have worked for years to assume that we can engage in limited conflicts, but this phenomenon is disappearing. Today there is a clear phenomenon, which is the united fronts.”

Gallant also expressed that Iran is the “driving force” for this phenomenon by providing “resources, ideology, knowledge and training for its proxies,” adding that the increasing dependence of all these powers on Iran prompts the Islamic Republic to “defy Israel.”

On the other hand, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah was clear in his recent speech on the occasion of “International Al-Quds Day” (April 14), where he warned the enemy against relying on a policy that aims at engaging in a single battle based on the assessment that the people of the region do not want a war.

“This is a dangerous game,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, warning that the occupation’s calculations may drag the region into an all-out war, which will necessarily be multi-fronts.

For its part, the Israeli cabinet held a session on the threat emanating from Lebanon and Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliberately coincided the session with the “Holocaust” anniversary, and “in the presence of all the security leadership in ‘Israel’, with the aim of sending a message of strength”, according to the Hebrew “Kan” channel.

Other reports stated that the session discussed the scenario of escalation on the northern front, as a result of a possible escalation in Gaza, according to the estimates of the Israeli security and military establishments.

As a result, the Israeli stances, as well as the political performance, reveal that the Zionist regime deals with all seriousness with the fact that the region has entered a new phase, with which the hypothesis of the multi-front battle has become more present on the table, prompting ‘Israel’ to discuss its possible options regarding it, especially in light of doubts over Tel Aviv’s readiness to wage such a battle.

Hence, the occupation’s limited response during the latest round is understood, as well as its focus on neutralizing “Hezbollah”, in a bid to avoid acts of reprisals.

Nevertheless, the realization of the multi-front scenario depends on a number of factors, including the possibility of the Israeli miscalculations, which will make it as if it is treading a regional mine that will explode and topple its internal front and the interests of its American sponsor in the region.

Axis of Resistance Benjamin Netanyahu Hezbollah Iran Israel Lebanon Palestine Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Yoav Gallant

Sudan crisis is extension of that in Yemen: Al-Bukhaiti to Al Mayadeen

25 Apr 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

Al-Bukhaiti says had the Sudanese army commanders not been involved in the war on Yemen, this wouldn’t have happened in Sudan.

Member of the political bureau of the Ansar Allah movement Mohammad Al-Bukhaiti

Member of the political bureau of the Ansar Allah movement, Mohammad Al-Bukhaiti, considered on Monday that the Sudan crisis is an extension of the Yemeni crisis.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, Al-Bukhaiti pointed out that “had the army commanders not been involved in the war on Yemen, this wouldn’t have happened in Sudan, especially since those fighting in Sudan now were involved in fighting in Yemen before.”

Al-Bukhaiti regretted the inability of the Sanaa government to provide aid to the Yemenis in Sudan due to the aggression, the blockade, and the situation forced onto the Sanaa government.

He also highlighted the Sudanese government’s relationship with the forces of aggression and not with the Sanaa government.

Read more: Era of guardianship over Yemen is over: Sanaa MoD

The Yemeni official indicated that recent visits of the Saudi delegation to Sanaa “broke many barriers that constituted an obstacle to any negotiations,” explaining that many achievements have been made, yet without reaching an agreement on a complete and comprehensive peace.

According to Al-Bukhaiti, many matters were agreed upon with the Saudi delegation, especially with regard to the humanitarian situation.

He said that Sanaa is waiting for the implementation of what was agreed upon, warning against procrastination, because the situation of the Yemeni people no longer allows any delay in the implementation of the agreed points.

He also noted that the negotiations with the Saudis were halted due to the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, affirming that these negotiations “will be resumed soon.”

Al-Bukhaiti mentioned that Sanaa and Riyadh are now in a stage of de-escalation, but he affirmed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE realize that any escalation will be met with escalation, and this will not be in their interest.

The Ansar Allah official specified that “negotiations with the Saudis at this stage are based on re-opening the airports and ports, set to be finalized in later stages to achieve a permanent and comprehensive peace.”

Al-Bukhaiti considered that the Yemeni internal dialogue should include all Yemeni political components and figures that have popular bases, noting that the individuals and militias directly linked to Saudi Arabia and the UAE will attempt to obstruct reaching any solution, which, if reached, will cause them to lose their jobs with whoever hired them.

Al-Bukhaiti revealed to Al Mayadeen that during the negotiations, emphasis was placed on the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Yemen and on Yemen’s restoration of its sovereignty over all of its lands.

“Peace means the exit of the American forces from the occupied Yemeni provinces… We do not accept any foreign presence in Yemen, and we will be in direct confrontation with any foreign military forces present on Yemeni soil,” he underlined.

Al-Bukhaiti warned that the United States does not want peace in Yemen, adding that Washington had a negative impact on the negotiations between Sanaa and Riyadh.

It is noteworthy that this month, Yemen witnessed three batches of prisoner exchange deals. Earlier, the Sanaa government revealed arrangements to hold a new round of negotiations to discuss the release of 1,400 Yemeni prisoners with the Saudi-backed government in May.

The government said a future deal that included 700 prisoners will be concluded.

Read more: Aggression countries will ‘inevitably’ lose if they escalate: Sanaa

Stand with Yemen

For the past seven years, Yemen has been enduring an aggression by the Saudi-led coalition that butchers civilians on a daily basis, destroys civilian infrastructure and residential areas, and starves innocent Yemenis – all amid international silence and complicity. It is time for this war to end… Yemen can’t wait any longer…

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The US balks at thriving UAE-Russia relations

April 21 2023

The leak of classified documents suggesting Emirati-Russian intel against the US has caused uncertainty about the future of US-UAE relations amid significant shifts in the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Stasa Salacanin

The leak of highly classified Pentagon documents, including reports of the UAE’s alleged intelligence collusion with Russia against the US and UK, has captured headlines both regionally and globally.

According to the US intel reports leaked to the Associated Press, a document implicating the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) entitled “Russia/UAE: Intelligence Relationship Deepening” states:

“FSB officials claimed UAE security service officials and Russia had agreed to work together against US and UK intelligence agencies, according to newly acquired signals intelligence.”

However, while US officials have declined to comment on the document, the Emirati government has vehemently denied any such accusation, calling it “categorically false.”

Although it is impossible to verify the authenticity of the leaked report, western officials and analysts have nonetheless been closely following increased cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Moscow, particularly since the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine.

Ties flourish between Russia and UAE

The claims are certainly credible, as close personal ties exist between the Kremlin and the Emirati ruling elite, and the two governments share similar views on several regional issues. The war in Ukraine has further boosted mutual commercial ties and cooperation between the Russia and the UAE, with non-oil trade increasing by 57 percent during the first nine months of the last year.

In early December 2022, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov estimated that mutual trade between Russia and the UAE will exceed $7.5 billion by the end of 2022 compared with $5.5 billion in 2021, reaching an all-time record in the history of their trade relations.

Additionally, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s (MbZ) decision to support the OPEC+ move to slash oil production by two million barrels a day (bpd) in October despite pressure from the US and other countries, has been greatly praised by Kremlin.

It’s worth noting that the emirate of Dubai has witnessed an uptick in investments from affluent Russians, as real estate purchases by Russian nationals in Dubai surged by 67 percent year-on-year. Furthermore, the UAE continues to rank high on the list of preferred travel destinations for Russians, with over a million Russians having visited or relocated to the Emirates in 2022 – an impressive 60 percent increase from the previous year.

In light of the UAE having emerged as a significant destination for wealthy Russians seeking to circumvent western-imposed sanctions, Andreas Krieg, an associate professor at King’s College in London, has labeled the UAE as “the most crucial strategic partner for Russia in both the Middle East [West Asia] and Africa.” 

A ‘country of focus’ for the US

This flourishing partnership between Moscow and Abu Dhabi has not gone unnoticed in the west, and there are concerns about how cozying up with Russia may affect the UAE’s relations with the west, especially in light of the recent leak of compromising Pentagon intel.

As evidence of this, US Treasury official Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Rosenberg has explicitly designated the UAE as a “country of focus,” noting Russia has been able to evade sanctions and “obtain more than $5 million in US semiconductors and other export-controlled parts, including components with battlefield uses.”

While the UAE has historically been aligned with the US, it has developed its own foreign policy in recent years, according to Dr. Giuseppe Dentice, an expert on International Relations of the Middle East from Centro Studi Internazionali Ce.S.I and a teaching assistant at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. As Dentine explains to The Cradle:

“The UAE has positioned itself as a free rider in the international arena, able to dialogue with the west and Russia and China. This has led the UAE to pursue its own agenda increasingly distant from the US and western interests, but in any case still extremely connected to many of Washington’s objectives in the large quadrant between the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia.”

For Joost Hiltermann, program director of the Middle East and North Africa section at the International Crisis Group think tank, Abu Dhabi is not likely to turn against the US in a major way. Despite pursuing closer ties with Beijing and Moscow, the UAE and other Persian Gulf states have emphasized that the US remains their primary external security partner.

Persian Gulf states pursue strategic balancing

In essence, “the UAE and other Gulf Arab states pursue a foreign policy of strategic balancing and hedging among both regional and global actors,” he tells The Cradle.

Yet, the UAE, along with other Persian Gulf countries, has refrained from aligning with the US in the new cold war, which has become evident in the case of US escalation over Taiwan and the war in Ukraine. In this context, the UAE does not want to miss out on the lucrative opportunity to engage with wealthy Russians, even if it means turning down the west and its preoccupation with the proxy war in Ukraine.

Dentice observes that many regional powers, especially those in the Persian Gulf have taken advantage of this new competitive environment to raise their own ambitions and develop their interests. The case of Russia and its businessmen is emblematic of this condition.

While the US does not necessarily oppose Russians visiting and residing elsewhere, Hiltermann notes that:

“They have an issue with the UAE becoming a hub for sanctions-busting and illicit economies, and they’ve had this concern for some time as US concerns relate to Russia sanctions violations and Iran and Syria sanctions violations.”

However, Hiltermann points out that the US has not always been clear on its sanctions policies and enforcement, which has confused and frustrated regional actors like the UAE. He says “Gulf Arab officials express significant dissatisfaction with US sanctions politics in the region, and often underline their lack of impact and how much they hurt local populations.”

Feeling the pressure

Additonally, Dentice emphasizes that the “UAE must be very careful to balance its own interests with the ambitions of the great powers.” Abu Dhabi should avoid any unnecessary confrontations or the risk of being labeled as a “pariah state” as this could harm its development and reputation as a commercial hub.

Irrespective of growing ties, the UAE has introduced some strict requirements for Russian businessmen and real estate investors who find it ever more difficult to purchase or rent space in Dubai. According to reports, financial and consultancy firms have are being closely observed by US financial regulators, so country business subjects have to be more cautious when dealing with Russia.

Also, despite its “free-rider” foreign policy approach, which requires a difficult balancing act, the UAE as well as other Persian Gulf states still heavily rely on US security arrangements, so many observers believe that sooner or later the UAE will have to agree on some compromise related to western sanctions issues.

Due to US pressure, the UAE has already canceled a license it had issued to Russia’s MTS Bank, and Russia’s largest bank Sberbank was also forced to close its office in Dubai.

Abu Dhabi’s diplomatic dilemma  

Despite efforts by Abu Dhabi and other Persian Gulf capitals to appeal to Washington about the importance of maintaining ties with Moscow by supporting de-escalation measures between Russia and the west – such as prisoner exchanges – it is becoming increasingly challenging to maintain good relations with a Russia so profoundly vilified in western capitals.

Hiltermann doubts whether this approach will be effective in the long run. He points out that while the “US claims that it does not push Gulf Arab states to choose sides, Russia has turned into an existential issue for the US and Europe in many ways, and sooner or later western pressures on the UAE will increase.”

It is clear that the UAE’s foreign policy approach is complex and involves a delicate balancing act between its own interests and the ambitions of great powers. Withstanding its efforts to maintain good relations with both Washington and Moscow, the UAE is increasingly feeling the western pressure to untangle from Russia, especially in the form of sanctions threats.

While Abu Dhabi’s strategic partnerships with a broad range of countries have reaped economic benefits, in the foreign policy realm, the same choices have caused acute diplomatic challenges.

But the UAE cannot merely focus on the great power contests unfolding abroad. Closer to home, Abu Dhabi has had to navigate the changing dynamics in West Asia, including peace talks to end the conflict in Yemen and the game-changing, Beijing-brokered rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The UAE’s success and stability in its own region will ultimately hinge on its proficiency in managing these local shifts. Meanwhile, the entry of China and Russia into West Asia offers Abu Dhabi some further leverage in managing Washington’s demands. Unless and until the US decides to draw a hard red line, the Emiratis will likely play all their cards in all arenas.

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

Russiatourismtrade and investmentUAE

Dozens killed, hundreds injured in ongoing armed confrontations: Sudan

April 16, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

The Sudan Armed Forces say clashes are ongoing, but the situation is heading toward stability.

Heavy smoke bellows above buildings in the vicinity of the Khartoum airport on April 15, 2023, amid clashes in the Sudanese capital. (AFP)

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors announced that the death toll from the armed clashes in the country has risen so far to 56 and the injuries to 595, while heavy bombing and intense gunfights are ongoing across the country, BBC reported on Sunday.

25 people, including 17 civilians, were killed in the country’s capital Khartoum, the organization said, further noting that the latest records do not include victims that are still unaccounted for due to the ongoing military confrontations, which disrupt rescue efforts.

The General Command of the Sudanese Army said warplanes will be sweeping areas in search of RFS members, calling on all citizens to remain indoors.

“The Sudanese Air Force will conduct a complete sweep of the rebel Rapid Support militia’s presence. The Air Force calling on all citizens to stay inside their houses and not to go out,” the statement said.

This comes a mere two weeks after Sudan’s political process parties decided to postpone the signing of a final agreement providing for the establishment of a transitional civil authority in the country. The final agreement was set to be signed on April 1, after which a transitional constitution was to be adopted on April 6.

A spokesperson for the Sudanese Armed Forces stated that the army had taken control of all the headquarters of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Omdurman and had seized all equipment and vehicles on site left behind by the retreating units.

The military is conducting ongoing air and land operations to force the RSF to surrender, the spokesperson added.

According to the report, three employees of the World Food Programme (WFP) were killed during an exchange of fire at a military base in Kabkabiya western Sudan.

Read more: Sudanese army chief orders disbanding of RSF: Khartoum

The Sudanese military is led by lieutenant general Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, who overthrew the government in a military coup in October 2021, declared a state of emergency, and established a transitional sovereign council under his guidance.

The Rapid Support Forces, on the other hand, are led by Al-Burhan’s deputy, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

The RSF on Thursday reportedly carried out a sudden redeployment of its forces near the airport in Merowe, northern Sudan, with the Sudanese army responding by issuing a statement saying the redeployment was illegal and was not coordinated with Khartoum.

Clashes broke out earlier on Friday, culminating with the RSF claiming control of the Republican Palace in Khartoum and the airports in Khartoum and Merowe. The national army denied the presidential palace’s takeover and said it was bombing RSF bases near Khartoum.

International organizations and various countries, including Russia, have called on the Sudanese adversaries to cease fire and kickstart talks. Two large airlines, EgyptAir and Saudia, have temporarily suspended flights to Sudan, citing insecurity.

Read more: Sudan close to officially joining normalization accords: Israeli media

De-escalation calls

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says hostilities in Sudan must end without pre-conditions, and the safety of civilians in the country must be ensured, a stance shared by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said following talks with the Saudi and UAE ambassadors that fighting parties in Sudan must immediately halt military actions “without pre-condition”.

“I welcomed the opportunity April 15 to consult with Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, about the dangerous fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Security Forces [RSF], which threatens the security and safety of Sudanese civilians and undermines efforts to restore Sudan’s democratic transition. We agreed it was essential for the parties to immediately end hostilities without pre-condition,” he said in a Saturday statement.

The top US diplomat also urged the commanders of both forces to work toward reducing tensions and “ensure the safety of all civilians,” stressing that negotiations are the only solution to end this crisis.

“We continue to remain in close touch with our Embassy in Khartoum and have full accountability of our personnel. We also have been communicating with American citizens who may be in the region about safety measures and other precautions.”

Sputnik reported on Saturday, citing a UN source, that the United Nations Security Council will convene behind doors on Monday to discuss the developments in Sudan.

The League of Arab States (LAS) Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit voiced his condemnation of arms use and urged for an immediate ceasefire.

In its statement, the LAS said that “Aboul Gheit condemns the use of arms in Sudan and calls for an immediate ceasefire,” adding that Aboul Gheit requested the stop of escalations and stressed that the organization is prepared to intervene and look into the situation. 

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the Council of the League of Arab States (LAS) was called to an urgent meeting on the level of permanent representatives on Sunday by Egypt and Saudi Arabia to discuss the situation in Sudan.

The African Union also urged in a statement “the political and military parties to find a fair political solution to the crisis.”

UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Twitter late on Saturday that UN chief Antonio Guterres held talks with Al-Burhan and Dagalo and demanded an “immediate stop to the violence and a return to dialogue.”

Guterres also discussed ways to “de-escalate the situation” with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the head of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki and urged regional states to push efforts to stabilize the situation.

On his part, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned on his Twitter account on Sunday the armed clashes between both forces and said that he is in contact with African leaders on the matter.

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The first China-UAE gas deal in yuan: A new blow to dollar dominance

April 06 2023

Chinese allies control 40 percent of OPEC+ oil reserves, and the GCC controls another 40 percent. With this China-UAE gas trade settled in yuan, the petrodollar today is under serious threat.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

ByA Cradle Correspondent

On 28 March, the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange (SHPGX) made history by announcing the first-ever deal on importing 65,000 tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the UAE, settled in the Chinese yuan currency. China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and French TotalEnergies finalized the transaction, and TotalEnergies confirmed that the LNG imported was from the Persian Gulf state.

China’s Global Times in a report the following day, cited the chairman of the SHPGX, Guo Xu as saying that the deal is:

“A meaningful attempt to promote multi-currency pricing, settlement and cross-border payment in international LNG trading. It also provides a new channel for international players to participate in the Chinese market, helping to build a new pattern of dual circulation in China.”

Beijing pushes yuan for energy trade

The yuan settlement of international LNG trading is a “major event in China’s market-oriented oil and gas reform, which will help promote the docking of international and domestic markets,” the report quoted experts as saying.

The development comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in December 2022, during a landmark visit to Riyadh, that his country should make “full use” of the SHPGX as a platform to carry out yuan settlement of oil and gas trade.

This deal represents a departure from the decades-long practice of conducting global oil sales exclusively in US dollars. A prominent economist, who spoke to The Cradle, speculated that “the French either resorted to the yuan due to the acute shortage of Russian gas supplies to the European continent, or they have reserves in the Chinese currency that they want to use.”

The deal came as a surprise, as French President Emmanuel Macron typically does not take such steps without the approval of the US. As for the UAE, the move is part of a larger trend of Persian Gulf countries opening up to China in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Biden administration’s shift in regional policies.

The yuan payment also follows the global polarization taking place over the Ukraine war and further demonstrates the reluctance of Persian Gulf states to align with western hostility toward Russia, China, and other US adversaries. According to the same economist, “The Emirati move cannot be separated from the changes taking place in the world. Abu Dhabi and Riyadh sense the global imbalance of power, and decided to expand the margins of their international relations.”

Yuan’s growing acceptance

Given the current global geopolitical shifts, the yuan is gaining increased acceptance as an international currency. Since President Xi Jinping assumed office, China has settled agreements with several countries in its local currency in an attempt to challenge the dominance of the US dollar in global trade.

As a result, the yuan has become the world’s fifth-largest payment currency, the third-largest currency in trade settlement, and the fifth-largest reserve currency. According to the Global Times, the yuan today accounts for 7 percent of all foreign exchange trades worldwide and has experienced the most significant expansion in currency market share over the past three years.

Experts have noted that “with the recovery of the momentum of China’s economic growth and the further opening of the financial market, the investment and hedging function of the yuan has gradually increased.”

In an article earlier this year for The Cradle, Pakistani analyst F. M. Shakil cited the Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves (COFER) report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which shows that:

“The percentage of US dollars in central bank reserves has decreased by 12 percent since 1999, while the percentage of other currencies, particularly the Chinese yuan, have shown an increasing trend with a 9 percent rise during this period.”

Shakil also noted that the “cumulative cross-border yuan settlement handled in Xinjiang (western China), the financial hub between China and Central Asia, exceeded 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) as early as 2013 and reached 260 billion yuan in 2018.”

He concluded that “dollar reserves are dwindling and the influence of the United States of America is receding in the global economy, which represents an opportunity for regional powers’ currencies and alternative payment systems.”

Rise of the petroyuan

Since 2009, Beijing has implemented a policy to reduce its reliance on the US dollar in commercial transactions. This policy includes settling the majority of its goods in foreign markets in its local currency, establishing mutual lines of credit with several central banks worldwide, and negotiating with West Asian and North African countries to conduct trade using the yuan. These efforts have started to show results recently, with a number of Asian governments partially adopting the Chinese currency.

Iraq is one of the countries that have partially adopted the yuan in trade. In February, the Iraqi Central Bank announced plans to allow direct settlement of trade from China in yuan to improve access to foreign currency and compensate for the dollar shortage in local markets, largely due to measures imposed by the Federal Reserve on money transfers leaving Iraq to prevent them from reaching Tehran and Damascus. Egypt also announced its intention to issue yuan bonds last August.

Russia has played a significant role in changing the course of the yuan by signing the Eastern Natural Gas Pipeline Agreement from Russia to China and converting the currencies of gas payments from the US dollar to the Chinese yuan and the Russian ruble.

According to the latest data from the Russian Central Bank, the yuan has become a major player in Russia’s foreign trade, with its share of import settlements increasing from just 4 percent in January 2022 to 23 percent by the end of the year. The yuan’s share of exports rose from 0.5 percent to 16 percent in the same period.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia, the Chinese president encouraged Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to use the SHPGX for yuan-based energy deals. The visit also saw China and Saudi Arabia sign over $30 billion in trade deals, which some analysts believe marks the rise of the petroyuan.

According to US-based Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela – all allies of China – account for 40 percent of OPEC+’s proven oil reserves, with the GCC making up another 40 percent. If these three states alone settle their energy exports in yuan, the petroyuan is here to stay.

A response to US policy 

In a January interview with Bloomberg, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said that “the kingdom is open to trading in currencies other than the US dollar in order to improve trade.”

Interestingly, despite being a stalwart US ally for decades, Riyadh is deepening its ties with key trading partners, including Beijing, as China imported over 500 million tons of crude oil and over 100 million tons of natural gas, including 63.44 million tons of LNG, in 2022.

Middle East Briefing suggests that this shift towards national currencies in global trade “is partly due to Washington’s sanctions policy against Russia.” Riyadh is now “following an increasing trend of hedging against US dollar use in trade” amid concerns that the US may use its currency as a weapon for trade and sanctions.

The trend towards using national currencies in global trade chains has continued to mature, with recent developments, including the announcement of two large-scale investment plans in China by Saudi oil giant Aramco.

The first plan involves building an integrated refining and chemicals plant in Liaoning Province, while the second plan involves Aramco’s acquisition of 10 percent of the shares of Rongsheng Petrochemical Company.

Meanwhile, the emirate of Dubai has opened its door to dealing in the Chinese currency in its global financial center, and Brazil and China have agreed to ditch the dollar and use their local currencies in their commercial dealings. In addition, Brazil and Argentina have announced the start of work on launching a common currency in their commercial dealings, dubbed “Sur.”

The petrodollar under threat

Petrodollars refer to US dollars used to purchase crude oil following a 1974 deal struck between Washington and Riyadh. The agreement not only ensured the military defense of the kingdom through US guarantees but also secured a steady stream of foreign purchases of US Treasury bonds and debt, which is a strategy of recycling the petrodollars back to Washington through Saudi Arabia’s reserves.

This transformed the ability of oil-rich Arab states to weaponize their vast energy resources against malign western policies – into a powerful economic weapon for the Americans, who, overnight, became the masters of the oil market. Today, however, with China’s rapid steps to challenge this entrenched system, there is a global spotlight on the rise of the Petroyuan versus the decline of the Petrodollar.

Asia Financial describes China’s deal with TotalEnergies as a “step forward in China’s long-term battle to reduce the power and reach of US dollar hegemony,” adding that “further such moves appear to be in the winds.” Importantly, according to Viktor Katona, lead crude analyst at Kpler:

“While the dollar will likely remain the dominant global currency in the near future, the rise of a so-called petroyuan will gain momentum as China leverages its status as the world’s largest oil importer.”

Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering accepting payment for its oil exports to China in yuan. However, any such shift is likely to be marginal, as most West Asian currencies are pegged to the US dollar, and accepting payments in other currencies increases foreign exchange risk.

Researcher P.S. Srinivas opined last year that oil deals with countries in West Asia “do not constitute a threat to the US dollar,” and the likelihood of the yuan replacing the US dollar as the benchmark currency for pricing is even more remote due to China’s capital controls and the yuan’s lack of convertibility.

While the possibility of the yuan gaining greater prominence in the global oil trade cannot be ruled out, it is unlikely to replace the US dollar as the primary currency for pricing in the oil and gas industry in the short term.

Most West Asian nations continue to maintain a vested interest in preserving the strength of the dollar, and any shift towards accepting payments in other currencies is likely to be minimal, at first. In the next few years, it will be important to keep an eye on China’s slow but steady ascent to global economic dominance and the growing usage of the yuan in international trade.

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

Yemen and Saudi Arabia Meet to End War


Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi, member of the Supreme Political Council in Yemen


Saudi delegation arrives in Sanaa to discuss details of the final peace plan with member of the Supreme Political Council Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi on Sunday.

A Saudi delegation traveled to Sanaa to meet with high-ranking officials from the Ansar Allah movement to discuss further details of the final ceasefire agreement and the end of the 8-year Saudi-led war on Yemen.

The delegation arrived on Saturday evening and held talks with Mohammad Ali Al-Houthi, a senior member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council and important figures of the National Salvation Government of Yemen.

Pictures were circulated in Yemeni media outlets today, showing a Saudi official shaking hands with Al-Houthi. The Saudis reportedly asked for their identities to remain secret in the meantime.

According to sources of Yemen’s Saba news agency, issues such as the “removal of the tight naval and air blockade on Yemen, an end to the eight-year-long aggression, the restoration of Yemeni national rights, the payment of civil servant salaries, and payments related to oil and gas revenues,” were discussed with Mahdi Al-Mashat, the Chairman of the Supreme Political Council.

The recent visit adds to the diplomatic efforts taken by both sides.

Omani Mediation

On April 8, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Saeed Al-Jaber met with members of the National Salvation Government and the Ansar Allah movement under Omani mediation.

Sources told Al Mayadeen on April 8 that the meeting is part of the effort to extend the armistice between the two parties and lift the blockade on Hudaydah port.

The Omani and Saudi team met with the head of the Sanaa delegation, negotiator Mohammad Abdul Salam, who said, “We hope that this will be achieved, that the damage will be remedied, and efforts will be crowned with a peace agreement that meets the demands of our dear Yemeni people, from Saada to Mahra.”

Informed Yemeni sources revealed on Friday that Saudi officials met with the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council to inform them of their decision to end the war and conclude the Yemeni file permanently.

The officials also detailed a two-year transitional period which includes a future form of the state and the ruling government. The sources added that the Saudi vision for a solution comes in accordance with its understanding of Sanaa which is still being discussed and is almost final.

The UAE is Unbothered

The UAE, which occupies strategic Yemeni territory including the Socotra island, has not made any diplomatic initiative yet.

Mohammad Al Bukhaiti told Al Mayadeen on Friday that Sanaa will “not allow the presence of any UAE forces on any inch of Yemeni territory.”

However, Al Bukhaiti also stated that Sanaa supports “proposals and efforts by Saudi Arabia or other parties to pacify the Yemeni crisis and reach a comprehensive political resolution to the conflict.”

This might indicate a possible rift between the Gulf countries’ approach to the Yemen war.

Improved Saudi Iranian Relations

Regional conflicts have begun to ease after China mediated diplomatic talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in early March.

Talks between the two countries produced the first meeting between the Foreign Ministers of both countries in 7 years.

China played a crucial role in the restoration of ties between the two countries. However, it is speculated that the success of Ansar Allah in Yemen has pushed Saudi Arabia to the negotiation table after 8 tormenting years of what was supposed to be a quick military victory for the country.

Al Mayadeen

Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Turkiye: Truces, not peace

April 04 2023

As reconciliation efforts sweep through West Asia to mend ties between old foes, the new China- and Russia-brokered deals will not usher in real peace until the US stops prolonging conflict.

By Hasan Illaik

The mid-March Moscow summit between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was notable for being publicized in advance. Since the outbreak of the Syrian war, Assad’s foreign visits have not been publicly revealed until after they have occurred. This small but significant detail suggests the Syrian president has a newfound confidence in the political and security conditions outside his national borders.

While the participants kept a tight lid on leaks, informed sources from both Moscow and Damascus disclosed to The Cradle that the Syrian and Russian presidents discussed the following issues:

Economic ties: With a focus on Syria’s energy sector, Putin expressed Russia’s readiness to invest in the production of electricity in the Levantine state, which post-conflict, suffers from a 75 percent deficit in production. Putin also expressed Moscow’s willingness to help Syria meet its vital grain needs.

Relations with Turkiye: While in Moscow, Assad reportedly refused to hold a four-way meeting between the deputy foreign ministers of Syria, Turkiye, Russia, and Iran. The Syrian president reiterated that Turkiye occupies Syrian lands, and negotiations between the two countries cannot advance from the security to the political level without a clear and public pledge from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to withdraw his military forces from the occupied territories, and open the main roads linking Syrian provinces – particularly the Latakia-Aleppo road, known as the M4 highway.

However, Moscow pressed its case, and reportedly reached an agreement between Damascus and Ankara stipulating that their negotiations would continue and move to the political level, with the main item on the table being Turkish withdrawal from Syrian lands. The basis for a much-awaited summit between Assad and Erdogan will be discussed at a later date.

The sources say that, for domestic political purposes, Erdogan needs to meet Assad before Turkiye’s May presidential elections, to convey to voters that he seeks to stop the war at his country’s southern borders, intends to repatriate the approximately three million Syrian refugees back home – a hot topic for voters – and to assure the Turkish Alevi electorate that he is not hostile to their sect, to which his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu belongs.

Relations with Saudi Arabia: Putin, who has been leading the mediation efforts to normalize Saudi-Syrian relations, briefed Assad on the results of his talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). According to official sources in Damascus and Moscow, Putin’s initiative has made progress in reactivating critical communication between Damascus and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s strategic shifts

On 23 March, 2023, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the start of talks with Syria to reactivate consular work, which is a prelude to the return of normal diplomatic relations between the two countries, as reported by Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Sources speaking to The Cradle have confirmed that any potential progress in Syrian-Saudi relations are the result of these Russian mediation efforts, and are unrelated to the game-changing Saudi-Iran agreement struck in Beijing on 10 March. The sources believe that a meeting between Riyadh and Damascus may occur after the end of the month of Ramadan.

While the success of Saudi-Iran negotiations under Chinese auspices, and the potential breakthrough in Saudi-Syria relations under Russian sponsorship, suggest a strategic eastward turn for the kingdom, sources close to Riyadh emphasize that there is no change in the Saudi-US relationship.

While Riyadh’s relations with Washington have experienced declines in the past, recent shifts in the global political, economic, and military landscapes have prompted MbS to diversify his country’s partnerships, while preserving the strategic alignment with Washington.

Yemen: Riyadh’s regional albatross

Today, the Saudi crown price is pursuing a “zero problems” policy with neighboring countries. After failing to “transfer the [regional] battle into Iran,” and after his war on Yemen transformed Yemeni Resistance movement Ansarallah from a small organization into a regional force, MbS has realized that his domestic economic, financial, and entertainment mega-projects are doomed without ensuring calm on the kingdom’s borders.

Therefore, since late 2022, he began earnest negotiations with Iran, responded assertively to Russian efforts to mediate with Syria, and began direct talks with Ansarallah in their Sanaa stronghold. The discussions reportedly made significant progress, then stalled in January over several key points, including Riyadh’s “inability” (or unwillingness) to lift the siege on Yemen, the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, and agreement over an internal political solution to the Yemeni crisis.

As things stand, Riyadh claims that it “cannot force its partners” in the aggression – the UAE and US, in particular – to withdraw their forces from Yemeni territory.

Several Ansarallah allies have assessed that the Saudis want to end the war, but have been prevented from doing so by the US, UK, UAE, and France. However, this estimate changed after Saudi Arabia retracted a number of the pledges it made in the negotiations.

After initially ceasing restrictions on the port of Hodeidah, the UN has returned to obstructing the arrival of some ships to the port. The siege renewal coincided with a visit by US Ambassador to Yemen Stephen Fagin to the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) personnel in Djibouti which is tasked with inspecting ships bound for Hodeidah.

In a renewed escalation of tensions, Ansarallah threatened to expel the UN mission in Sanaa within 72 hours if a container ship seized by inspectors in Djibouti was not released. Indeed, before the deadline expired, the UN released the ship.

Although the threat coincided with the US ambassador’s provocative visit, and while it appears that the Americans were trying to undermine the Saudi-Ansarallah understandings, Yemeni sources tell The Cradle that the obstruction of the ships was not exclusively a US decision, but also a Saudi one.

Furthermore, the UN explicitly informed the Sanaa government that the detention of ships proven to be weapons-free was carried out by a decision of the “coalition leadership” – that is, from the Saudis.

So what is Riyadh up to, and who is really obstructing a final solution to the war in Yemen? Is it the Saudis or the Americans?

Sources close to the Sanaa government say that “a comprehensive US-Saudi consensus” still exists over Yemen. The two allies may differ sometimes, but until now, they say:

“Washington and Riyadh still agree on calming things down in Yemen, while keeping the blockade in place. They also agree that Yemen should not be an independent and strong country, capable of controlling its resources or exploiting its geographical location, because that entails strategic risks for Saudi Arabia’s regional role, and for US and Israeli interests in West Asia, the Horn of Africa, and the Red Sea.”

The sources add: “Saudi Arabia and America cannot afford to grant Ansarallah conditions that would enable it to accumulate additional strength and a larger and more effective arsenal.” Simply put, the duo are not seeking an actual end to the war, but are instead pursuing a drawn-out truce.

MbS wants some calm to ensure that missiles and drones do not rain down on his ambitious entertainment and development projects, while the US and the UAE want to keep Yemen fragmented, persist in the theft of its vital oil resource, and at the same time, hold Ansarallah (in northern Yemen) responsible for managing a country that continues to buckle under siege.

Truces, not peace – yet

In short, from Yemen in the south, to Iran in the east, and Syria, Iraq and Turkey in the north, West Asia has entered the post-Arab Spring phase, where once-battling neighbors are seeking to reconnect.

This is a phase governed by ‘armistice agreements’ between countries that have fought each other, directly or via proxies, for more than a decade. Armistice agreements, it should be noted, are not peace treaties, and what this suggests is the continuation of the US-style legacy of “managing conflict,” and never actually ending it.

As multipolarism beckons the world around, it is yet to be seen if Chinese and Russian efforts to stabilize the region in order to advance sweeping connectivity, economic, and development projects will be able to overcome the old “conflict management” and “forever wars” paradigm of the declining unipolar order.

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

See Also

Syria: A State that Withstood a Global War and Emerged Victorious (Part II)

March 31, 2023

Illustrative photo prepared by Al-Manar Website on the 12th anniversary of the war in Syria.

Somaya Ali

Translated by Areej Fatima Husseini

“It is impossible to continue with Assad. How can we look forward with a Syrian president who has murdered over a million of the country’s citizens?”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a press conference in Tunisia in December 2017.

The Turkish president’s claims show that he did not consider the prospect of Bashar Al-Assad staying as Syria’s president. Undoubtedly, he has begun to notice the failure of his ambitions since 2018 when the battlefield track has shifted to a large extent in favor of the Syrian army. He was not the only one who had high expectations for the war, which erupted in Syria in the summer of 2011. Many Arabs, as well as the West and the USA, took part in this.

Throughout ten years, they all fantasized about a new Syria that “has no room” for Bashar Al-Assad and his government. Damascus was suspended from the Arab League. Instead, Moaz Al-Khatib, the leader of the so-called opposition alliance represented Syria at the summit conference in March 2013.

All diplomatic relations were severed. Moreover, the UN-sponsored sessions of negotiations were a formality, as they imposed unrealistic conditions on Damascus to force its surrender.

Syria was subject to the toughest sanctions, the last of which was the “Caesar Act”, as its entire territory faced death and bloodshed. However, the scale was tipped in favor of the Syrian state and its allies. Whoever wins eventually imposes his demands, and that exactly what happened.

‘Marathon’ of Restoring Ties

Twelve years after the start of the Syrian war, experts in Syrian affairs classify the countries’ relationship with the regime into two camps: those who are “enthusiastic about normalizing relations, such as Turkey and the UAE, and those who link the normalization with a political solution in Syria, such as the United States, the European Union, and Qatar.”

There is also a third camp which observes the situation, waiting for the image to clarify before determining its position. This camp is represented by Saudi Arabia, in addition to Egypt and Jordan, to a lesser extent.

Following the devastating earthquake that shook Turkey and northwest Syria, the latter group made a remarkable advance into Syria. Egypt offered aid to Syria, as President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi contacted his Syrian counterpart and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Damascus.

Further, Jordan’s relationship with the Syrian government improved by the end of 2021, after being for years one of the prominent backers of the terrorists and the role it played the “MOC” operations room. At the time (in late 2021), Jordanian King Abdullah II discussed measures to boost bilateral relations with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad during a phone call that coincided with a meeting between Syrian Minister of Defense General Ali Ayoub and Jordanian Chief of Staff Major General Yusef Al-Hunaiti. Moreover, the “Nassib-Jaber” border crossing, Jordan’s northern lung, was reopened.

Nassib crossing, main border post between Jordan and Syria (photo from archive).

As for the Saudi which was a major player in the war in terms of armaments and even the media war, Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan recently confirmed that “consensus is growing in the Arab world that isolating Syria is unlikely to work and that dialogue with Damascus is required.” The top Saudi diplomat also hinted at Syria rejoining the Arab League, which is set to convene in Riyadh in May.

Turkey Enthusiastic for Normalization with Syria

Back to the first camp, or the ‘enthusiasts,’ Turkey prevails. Despite its primary role and direct engagement in the war through its military presence in northern Syria, Turkey’s interests in Syria have shifted after the formation of the alliance between the US and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This gave the SDF power in the Syrian north, which Ankara deemed to be a threat to its national security, prompting it to work with Russia to prevent the emergence of a “Kurdish entity.” This was in return for relinquishing the objective of “toppling the regime” and forging a sort of a ceasefire in Idlib, where Turkey has direct control over the armed groups.

However, the February 6 earthquake in Kahramanmaraş had terrible consequences for Ankara, which was already in the grip of an economic crisis.

As a result, addressing the Syrian refugee issue became an urgent demand for Ankara, as well as a major key to increase Erdogan’s prospects of winning the coming presidential elections in May. It became obvious herein that the Turkish wooing towards Syria increased, as did the reiteration on the need for mending ties and demonstrating seriousness in this regard, as shown in communications through Iranian and Russian mediators.

This was not the first attempt of its kind, as Erdogan officially declared at the end of November 2022 that he had proposed to President Vladimir Putin a tripartite route to go forward with the normalization process. As a result, on December 28, a conference in Moscow was convened with the defense ministers of Russia, Turkey, and Syria, as well as intelligence officers from the three countries.

What About the United Arab Emirates?

The UAE regarded eliminating Assad in 2011 as a “blow to Iran,” but it also backtracked due to the scheme’s failure. It reopened its embassy in Damascus in December 2018. In early 2020, the first public phone contact between then-Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, and President Assad since the two nations severed diplomatic relations in 2012.

In November 2021, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed had his first visit to Damascus in ten years. Then, in March 2022, Al-Assad paid his first Arab visit to Abu Dhabi since the start of the conflict, followed by Abdullah bin Zayed’s visit to Damascus in December 2022. The Emirati openness was visible in the amount of aid offered to Syria in various forms following the earthquake, amid blatant Western and American intransigence and adherence to sanctions despite the enormity of the humanitarian catastrophe.

The Syrian president also paid another visit to the UAE earlier this month in another sign of thawing ties.

According to sources, “there is an Emirati interest in obtaining economic opportunities in Syria throughout the post-war and reconstruction phase.” Furthermore, Abu Dhabi aspires to join the line of communication between Turkey and the Syrian regime, which would strengthen its regional presence.

Stubborn US

Turning to the camp of the obstinate states, the USA is the most prominent of them, with a military presence in bases such as Al-Malikiyah, Rumailan, Himo, Qasrak, Al-Hasakah’s sports city, Al-Shaddadi, and Al-Tanf. In addition to the tough sanctions that led to unambiguous consequences following the earthquake, Washington also plays a role, albeit in secret, in training terrorists such as ISIL militants and pillaging Syria’s wealth.

Meanwhile, these sanctions are regarded as one of the major impediments to normalization with the Syrian government by many nations, particularly the European Union. Herein, the Union’s Foreign Relations High Representative, Joseph Borrell, stated that the EU “will remain against normalization with the Syrian regime until it effectively engages in a political solution to the conflict as stipulated by the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2254.”

Syria the Victor’s role: Settlement Has Conditions

On his recent visit to Russia, President Al-Assad set the records straight. In exchange for all the “messages of friendliness,” and despite the economic and human misery exacerbated by the earthquake, the latter promised: there are prerequisites for the comeback.

Al-Assad informed Erdogan that restoring communication and ties is related to establishing a clear timeline for the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from the Syrian territory. This resulted in the delay of an anticipated meeting between the two countries deputy foreign ministers with Russia and Iran to an undetermined date.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad (photo from archive).
Bashar Assad

In terms of the Arab world, despite his “positive” approach toward Saudi goodwill during his visit to Moscow, President Al-Assad has ruled out his country’s participation in the next Arab summit. “Syria’s membership in the Arab League is frozen, and to attend the summit, the suspension must be ended, and this requires an Arab summit,” he stated. “Returning to the Arab League is not an ambition in itself; the goal is the joint Arab action,” he added.

“As a result of its ambiguous regulations, the Arab League is frequently used to settle scores, therefore Syria cannot return while the AL is merely a label for division”, Al Assad added.

“Thousands of years may pass before the Arabs unite,” said Al-Assad in an interview on Russia TV. “So let us wait thousands of years,” he added, laughing.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Tyranny on the waters: The UAE-Israeli occupation of Yemen’s Socotra Island

March 24 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

The transformation of Yemen’s strategically-located Socotra Island into an Emirati-Israeli military intelligence hub has raised concerns for the Ansarallah movement and its allies, significantly increasing the geopolitical stakes of the Yemen war.

By Karim Shami

Located off the southern coast of Yemen in the Arabian Sea, the Socotra archipelago has become a focal point of regional and international interest because of its strategic proximity to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

On 21 June, 2020, the Yemeni island was militarily occupied by Saudi Arabia’s Emirati coalition partner, which has aggressively pursued a policy of establishing and controlling ports throughout West Asia and the Horn of Africa since 1999.

The archipelago consists of four large islands: Socotra (3,796km2), Abd al-Kuri (130.2km2), Samhah (39.6km2), and Darsah (7.5km2), as well as three small islets.

Socotra, the biggest of the islands, lies 350 km south of the Arabian Peninsula and 95 km from Somalia. It is surrounded by the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea, and faces the Horn of Africa from the west. Around 20,000 shipping vessels pass around Socotra each year, including 9 percent of the world’s annual global petroleum supply.

The War on Yemen

The assault on Yemen was launched on 26 March, 2015, in an announcement by Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir from Washington DC, in which he stated that a coalition of ten countries, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, would take military action to reinstate the government of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Hadi had been ousted in popular protests in 2014, after losing the capital city, Sanaa, to the joint forces of the Ansarallah movement and their allies in the country’s armed forces. Based in northern Yemen, the Ansarallah movement had been advocating for fair representation in the government for a long time.

With US-backing, Saudi Arabia launched “Operation Decisive Storm,” and the air strikes began. Initially expected to last only a few weeks or months – and according to MbS himself, just “a few days” – the Yemeni war has now entered its eighth year and taken on a markedly different shape than the coalition initially contended.

Two years into the war, the Emiratis began pursuing their own hidden agenda of establishing a “self-styled maritime empire” in Yemen, which veered sharply from Riyadh’s objectives. To achieve this goal, Abu Dhabi sought to control the country’s southern coastline and its ports and enlisted the help of a local Yemeni proxy called the Southern Movement.

The Southern Movement was formed by secessionist tribes and groups seeking to divide Yemen along the old partition lines of 1967–1990. However, the movement had to be restructured to match the UAE’s aspirations, and in 2017 it was transformed into the Southern Transitional Council (STC).

Map of the Emirati-controlled areas and ports in southern Yemen

The significance of Socotra

Socotra Island falls under the territorial jurisdiction of the exiled Hadi government, which to this day – despite his physical absence and the replacement of the “presidency” with an 8-member, Saudi-sponsored Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) – remains Yemen’s internationally-recognized government.

However, on 30 April, 2018, the UAE deployed hundreds of troops with artillery and armored vehicles on the island, which is located 350 km away from the mainland conflict, without any prior coordination with Yemeni authorities.

The Riyadh-backed Yemeni government condemned the Emirati aggression, backed by local islanders protesting against the occupation of their territory. The Saudis were forced to intervene by sending troops and training locals to deter the UAE from seizing the island.

But later that year, UAE General Khalfan al-Mazrouei arrived on Socotra Island and has since been considered its de facto ruler. Under his leadership, the Emiratis gained the loyalty of local tribes by using bribery under the guise of “humanitarian aid.” They offered Socotra residents UAE passports and promised them an improved quality of life.

UAE General Khalfan al-Mazrouei arrives in Socotra, 2018

The STC seizes Socotra

On the morning of 21 June, 2020, the UAE-backed STC separatists forcibly seized control of Socotra and ousted the Saudi-backed, pro-Hadi forces.

The UAE had been planning and preparing for this operation for two years, using its Yemeni proxies to gain full control over the Socotra archipelago. The Emirati flag was raised across the territory, and UAE telecommunication companies replaced Yemeni ones. Consequently, all phone calls from Socotra now register Emirati phone networks.

UAE-Israel normalization

Three months after the seizure of Socotra, the highly-controversial Abraham Accords was signed in Washington DC between Israel and the UAE, along with Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. On the Arab side, the normalization thrust was led by Abu Dhabi, which quickly moved to expand its diplomatic, military, and economic ties with Tel Aviv.

Shortly after the signing of the Abraham Accords, reports and images of Israeli “tourists” visiting Socotra began to emerge. According to an Al-Mayadeen reporthowever, the Israeli visitors were not tourists, but rather, military experts.

An Israeli “tourist” in Socotra Island; picture via Twitter

Abd al-Kuri Island

In February 2023, Ansarallah released a statement condemning the UAE’s eviction of residents from Abd al-Kuri, the archipelago’s second-largest island. The resistance movement accused Abu Dhabi of carrying out a long-planned operation to transform Socotra into an Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub.

These actions by the UAE are not isolated incidents. In another 2022 episode, Ansarallah accused Abu Dhabi of transferring fishermen from the small island of Perim (13 km2) to other parts of the Taiz Governorate. Several months later, satellite imagery revealed the construction of a military base runway on the volcanic Island. Perim is now empty of its original inhabitants, according to media reports.

An Emirati military base on Perim Island (Mayyun in Arabic) on the Bab al-Mandab Strait

Perim Island has historically divided the Bab al-Mandab Strait into two waterways – whoever controls the island holds strategic influence over the strait. While Ansarallah’s statement about Emirati designs on Socotra was not entirely new, it raised hackles throughout the Arab world by confirming Israel’s military and intelligence presence on this key Yemeni island.

The UAE’s maritime ambitions

Many have questioned Abu Dhabi’s motivation for seizing Socotra and risking its relationships with Saudi Arabia and neighboring Oman (virtually overnight surrounded by UAE ports and bases). The UAE’s actions may be entirely attributed to the strategic vision of its President Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) and his no-longer secret desire to establish an Emirati maritime empire –from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea – by controlling the region’s key waterways.

The UAE’s economic reliance on these waterways is a clear driver of MbZ’s plans: non-petroleum commodity re-exports make up almost half of Abu Dhabi’s total exports. As such, maritime security is a top priority in the country’s foreign policy calculations.

The UAE currently controls 12 ports off the coast of Yemen, including Aden, Makha, Mukalla, Al-Dabba, Bir Ali, Belhaf, Rudum, Zoubab, Al-Khawkhah, Al-Khouba, Qena, and Al-Nashima. The country is also building a new port in Al-Mahra that will cost an estimated $100 million.

By controlling these ports and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the UAE can dominate one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, elevating its position in global and regional trade to a strategic player.

In addition to its aggressive accumulation of Yemeni ports, the UAE also has a significant presence in the Horn of Africa, where it currently controls two ports in Eritrea and one in Somalia. It previously owned a port in Djibouti, but this became a point of territorial friction between the two countries. The UAE’s control over these ports and their strategic location in the region allow it to project its power and expand its influence in East Africa.

Why is Socotra important to Israel?

The UAE and Israel share mutual security concerns over Iran’s regional ascension over the past decade. The Islamic Republic’s naval presence is expanding into many new waterways, and its seaborne activities from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea alarm both nations. Given Washington’s growing reluctance to engage its armed forces in West Asia, MbZ turned to the region’s military behemoth and main Iranian rival to help him execute his vision. Unlike Israel, no other regional state has the ability to garner unconditional US support – nor the willingness to cavalierly defy international law and territorial integrity.

Abu Dhabi has calculated that it stands to benefit from Israel’s intelligence network and early warning systems, particularly after its cities were subject to unprecedented Ansarallah missile and drone strikes in January 2022.

For Tel Aviv, its physical presence in any Arab state is perceived as a victory, which aligns with its ambitions for regional expansion. By establishing a base on Abd al-Kuri Island, Israel can reinforce its maritime security – around 25 percent of its trade passes through the Bab al-Mandab Strait. Another objective of the Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub could be to gather data or engage in espionage activities in the southern Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Yemen – in partnership with Egypt – blocked the passage of Israeli ships and tankers from accessing the strategic strait, leading to disastrous consequences for Israel.

The tactic could be replicated under Ansarallah Chief Abdel Malak al-Houthi’s leadership, since the movement considers Israel one of its main regional adversaries. While it may seem like a distant possibility, if the war concludes under current Riyadh-Sanaa peace efforts and Ansarallah gains control of Yemen’s south, the movement will enjoy unusual leverage to obstruct Israeli shipments whenever Tel Aviv launches regional aggressions. It should be noted that Ansarallah has already publicly threatened, on several occasions, to strike sensitive Israeli sites with its new missile capabilities.

Moreover, there has been an ongoing “ghost ship war” between Israel and Iran for several years, with occasional reports of Iranian or Israeli ships being attacked in these waterways. Israel’s presence on Socotra Island could provide it with leverage over Iran in their waterway stand-off and enable Tel Aviv to counter Ansarallah inside Yemeni territory.

NATO’s Combined Maritime Forces

It is important to note that the involvement of the US in the Israeli-Emirati collaboration and actions in Yemeni waters is not confirmed. However, it is true that the US has been a maritime security provider for the Persian Gulf monarchies for decades, and its NATO-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have been present in West Asian waters since 1983 – including leading hostile actions against Iraq and Somalia.

The CMF alliance has assumed responsibility for the security of four bodies of water: The Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden.

But with China’s rapid rise as a global economic competitor, US policy pivoted further eastward, and Washington has sought to subcontract out its West Asian security policies to its regional allies.

As such, last December, the CMF assigned command of its Red Sea task force to the Egyptian Navy, who took over from US naval forces. In this regard, the UAE, backed by Israel, may be another candidate to lead a NATO-backed naval security operation in the region.

Map of the NATO-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) areas of operation in West Asian waterways

Implications for Iran and Saudi Arabia

Any Israeli expansion is likely to alarm Iran and vice versa, potentially leading direct or proxy clashes in various regional theaters. However, the presence of the UAE – Iran’s second-largest trading partner – in southern Yemen may limit Tehran’s options. Unless Iran perceives a serious security threat from the new “Arab-Israeli alliance,” it is unlikely to take any significant actions that could harm its trade relations with Abu Dhabi.

The war against Yemen has severely damaged Saudi Arabia’s image as a regional powerhouse. During the last few years, all major Saudi cities have been the subject of Ansarallah missile and drone strikes – including the country’s key oil infrastructure.

It has been humiliating for the Persian Gulf’s wealthiest and most heavily militarized state to have its vulnerabilities so completely exposed by West Asia’s poorest nation. In contrast, the UAE has thus far only benefited from the Yemen war and expanded its influence in the region.

Recently, there have been reports of a possible breakthrough in negotiations between Riyadh and Ansarallah, and observers are hoping for an early roadmap to end the conflict during the holy month of Ramadan. Obstacles are aplenty: The UAE is notably absent from the discussions, the Emirati-backed Yemeni separatists – the STC – reject any solution that doesn’t leave them in control of the south, and the US has sought to scuttle any final solution that undermines Washington’s regional leverage.

Liberating the island

Of all the stakeholders with interest in Socotra Island, none are ultimately as important as the Yemeni ones, primarily the UAE-backed STC, the Saudi-backed PLC, and Iran-backed Ansarallah.

In his most recent televised appearance, Ansarallah’s Abdel Malik al-Houthi stated: “We seek to defeat the aggression, whether on the islands, on land or at sea, and from anyone who violates our independence and the sovereignty of our country.” Unlike other leaders, al-Houthi’s threats are usually translated into action and Ansarallah will not hesitate to strike the Israeli-Emirati bases or seize their ships if the aggression continues.

Ansarallah is currently the strongest player in Yemen, controlling more than 80 percent of the country in terms of population density. On the other hand, the PLC is the most vulnerable of the three main Yemeni players, and Riyadh’s recent rapprochement agreement with Tehran has further weakened the group. If an agreement is reached between Riyadh and Sanaa, the PLC will have one of two options: to hand over their weapons or merge into Ansarallah’s armed forces.

On the other side of the spectrum, the UAE-backed STC is worried about ongoing peace talks and fears being left alone to fight head-to-head with Ansarallah-aligned armed forces.

The question now is whether there will be a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Ansarallah that excludes the UAE and its Yemeni proxies. If that happens, Sanaa’s armed forces will almost certainly turn their big guns on the Emiratis and their Yemeni interests. The Saudis will have already calculated this outcome as they seek to advance a deal with Ansarallah. In this event, it is unlikely that Riyadh will come to Abu Dhabi’s assistance. Their common goals in Yemen ended years ago.

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

العرب يُعبّدون الطرق مع “قلب العروبة”: هل ستسكت واشنطن؟

السبت 25 آذار 2023

جو غانم 

من المُنتظر أيضاً، بحسب مراقبين سوريين، أن يُعزف النشيد الوطنيّ السوريّ قريباً في مطارات عواصم عربيّة عديدة.

العرب يُعبّدون الطرق مع “قلب العروبة”: هل ستسكت واشنطن؟

“حان الوقت للانتقال إلى مرحلةٍ جديدة من الاستقرار والتنمية في سوريا، وأنْ تطوي الدول صفحة الخلاف لمعالجة الأزمة السوريّة، بعيداً عن الانقسامات التي يشهدها النظام الدولي”.

تلك كانت كلمات السفير محمد بو شهاب، نائب مندوب دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة في جلسة لمجلس الأمن الدوليّ حول سوريا، عُقدت مساء يوم الخميس 23 آذار/مارس. وقد أكّد بو شهاب في كلمته رفض بلاده التدخّلات الأجنبية في سوريا، وضرورة احترام سيادتها واستقلالها وسلامة أراضيها، مديناً بشدّة “الغارات الإسرائيلية التي خلّفت أضراراً في مطار حلب الدولي”، مجدّداً دعم بلاده الكامل لسوريا خلال هذه المرحلة الحرجة، ومواصلتها الاستجابة لمواجهة تداعيات زلزال شباط/فبراير المدمّر، متّهماً “الجماعات الإرهابية باستغلال كارثة الزلزال ومنع وصول المساعدات إلى المتضررين”. 

اللافت هنا، أنّها المرة الأولى منذ 12 عاماً، التي يستخدم فيها مندوب دولة عربية إلى الأمم المتحدة، هذه اللغة في الحديث عن الأزمة والحرب في سوريا. وقبل كلمة مندوب الإمارات بساعات قليلة، كانت وكالة “رويتر” قد صدّرت خبراً يتحدث عن اتّفاق سوريّ – سعوديّ على معاودة فتح سفارتيهما في البلدين بعد قطيعة دامت لأكثر من عقد من الزمان، هو عُمر الأزمة في سوريا. وبعد خبر رويتر بساعات، قرأ مذيع الأخبار في قناة “الإخبارية” السعودية، بياناً رسميّاً صادراً عن وزارة الخارجية السعودية، يتحدث عن “مباحثات سعودية–سورية لاستئناف الخدمات القنصلية بين البلدين”. 

وكان الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد، قد وصل يوم الأحد الفائت 19 آذار/مارس إلى العاصمة الإمارتية أبو ظبي، في زيارة لم يتم الإعلان عنها مسبقاً. وكما كانت زيارة الأسد إلى روسيا قبل ذلك بأيام قليلة، جديدة في الشكل والمضمون، لدرجة اعتبارها من قبل غالبية المحللين والمراقبين السياسيين، بداية حقبة سوريّة-دوليّة جديدة، جاءت زيارة الإمارات لافتة هي الأخرى في تفاصيلها وشكلها ومضمونها ودلالاتها، لدرجة اعتبارها منعطفاً حادّاً في طريقة التعاطي الإقليميّ والدوليّ مع سوريا المحاصرة. 

لقد جرى استقبال كبير بدأ منذ اللحظة الأولى لدخول طائرة الرئيس الأسد المجال الجوّي لدولة الإمارات، إذ رافقته طائرات حربيّة إماراتية إلى أنْ حطّ في مطار العاصمة أبو ظبي، لتجري مراسم الاستقبال الرسميّ، قبل أنْ ينتقل والوفد المرافق له إلى قصر “الوطن”، ويبدأ مباحثاته مع رئيس دولة الإمارات، الشيخ محمد بن زايد آل نهيان، الذي استهلّ حديثه بكلمات الترحيب والحرص على عودة سوريا إلى حضنها العربيّ، وعزم بلاده على السعي بقوّة لأجل هذا الهدف. 

وجاء لافتاً هنا أيضاً، حضور السيدة الأولى أسماء الأسد، في أول زيارة رسمية لها إلى جانب الرئيس منذ 12 عاماً، ولقاؤها مع السيدة فاطمة المبارك، والدة حاكم الإمارات، التي اضطلعت بدورٍ كبير على خطّ الإغاثة الإماراتية لمنكوبي الزلزال في سوريا. 

كذلك فإنّ حضور وفد اقتصادي كبير مع الرئيس السوريّ، أعطى انطباعاً عن طبيعة المباحثات بين الرئيسين، ومؤشّراً واضحاً على ماهيّة وشكل العلاقة بين البلدين في الفترة المقبلة. حيث يُشكّل موضوع النهوض بالاقتصاد السوريّ الذي أنهكته الحرب والحصار، بنداً أوليّاً وملحّاً لدى المسؤولين السوريين، يأتي مباشرةً بعد بند إعادة العلاقات الدبلوماسية مع الدول العربية ودول الإقليم خاصّة.

وفي موضوع إعادة العلاقات السياسية والدبلوماسية بين دمشق وعواصم المنطقة، يكمن التطوّر الأهم على الإطلاق، في ما يجري على طريق الرياض–دمشق. وإذا كانت موسكو قد سعت طويلاً خلال السنوات الأربع الماضية، لتحقيق تقدّم على هذا المسار، فإنّ الإمارات، كما تشير المعلومات، قد استطاعت تحقيق هذا الخرق في جدار الرفض الأميركيّ لأيّ تواصل سياسيّ مع دمشق. 

وقد جاء ذلك اتّكاءً على ظروف دولية مستجدّة ومتغيّرات عديدة وكبيرة حدثت منذ بدء الحرب الأوكرانية واستعار الصراع العالمي بين واشنطن والغرب من جهة، وموسكو وبكين وطهران من جهة مقابلة، ليأتي زلزال 6 شباط/فبراير ويُشرّع البوابة التي كانت مواربةً بانتظار هبّة ريح صغيرة لتفتح على عهد جديد يُنهي 12 عاماً من القطيعة والحصار. 

وصحيح أنّ التواصل الأمني بين دمشق والرياض، قد بدأ منذ العام 2019، لكنّ أيّ تواصل سياسيّ لم يحدث، حتى من خلال تصريحات دبلوماسية إيجابية من الطرف السعوديّ حتى شباط/فبراير الماضي، حين قال وزير الخارجية السعودي، الأمير فيصل بن فرحان آل سعود، خلال مشاركته في “منتدى ميونيخ للأمن”، إنّ “إجماعاً بدأ يتشكّل في العالم العربيّ على أنّه لا جدوى من عزل سوريا، وإنّ الحوار مع دمشق مطلوب كي تتسنّى، على الأقل، معالجة المسائل الإنسانية، بما في ذلك موضوع عودة اللاجئين السوريين إلى بلادهم”. 

واعتبر بن فرحان في حديث لاحق له في لندن، في الثامن من هذا الشهر آذار/مارس، أنّ طريقة التعاطي العربي والدولي مع الأزمة السورية، لم تعد مفيدة، وأنّ هناك شبه إجماعٍ خليجيّ وعربيّ ودوليّ، على أنّ الوضع الراهن “غير قابل للاستمرار”، وأنّ الحاجة باتت ملحّة لاتّباع نهج آخر على هذا المسار. ومثّلت تلك التصريحات مقاربةً سعودية جديدة للأزمة السورية، وتغيّراً في السياسة السعودية حيال دمشق والوضع السوريّ عموماً.

وإذ شكّل تأخّر السعودية في الاستجابة للإغاثة الإنسانية لمنكوبي الزلزال في سوريا، وتفضيلها، في الأيام الأولى للكارثة، إرسال مساعدات إنسانية إلى الشمال السوريّ، حيث تسيطر الجماعات المسلّحة، مؤشّراً على حذرٍ سعوديّ شديد من أيّ خطوة تقرّب الرياض من دمشق، فإنّ ما كان يجري خلف الكواليس في تلك المرحلة، كان يشير إلى أنّ المباحثات بين الطرفين قد بلغت مرحلة متقدّمة، خصوصاً أنّ مدير المخابرات العامة السورية، اللواء حسام لوقا، كان قد عاد للتوّ، قبل حدوث الزلزال مباشرةً، من زيارة للرياض، على متن طائرة سعودية خاصة، وسط معلومات عن إهداء السعودية لسوريا طائرتين مدنيتين.  

والمعلومات الآن، أنّ اللواء لوقا قد قام بدور كبير على خطّ التقارب بين العاصمتين، حيث عاد لزيارة الرياض بعد أسابيع من قرار الأخيرة إرسال مساعدات إغاثية إلى مطار حلب، ومكث لعدة أيام في العاصمة السعودية، ليعود بتفاهمات واسعة مع المسؤولين السعوديين، تدخل في تفاصيل إعادة العلاقات الدبلوماسية، وضبط الحدود، ومواجهة تهريب المخدّرات بين دول الإقليم، والشروع في التقدّم على خطّ التعاون الاقتصادي بين البلدين. 

لتتسرّب بعد ذلك مباشرة، معلومات عن قرب زيارة وزير الخارجية السعودي إلى دمشق، وهو الأمر لم يعلّق عليه الوزير فيصل بن فرحان لدى سؤاله عن الأمر في ميونيخ، لكنّ المعلومات تشير إلى أنّ تلك الزيارة قد تتزامن مع حدث إعادة فتح السفارتين، بعد عيد الفطر مباشرة. 

من المؤكّد أنّ الاتّفاق السعوديّ–الإيراني الذي أخرجته بكّين، قد سرّع من وتيرة الحركة على مسار الرياض–دمشق، إذ تسعى الرياض نحو إرساء تفاهمات إقليمية شاملة تُنهي مرحلة من الصراع والتنافس السلبيّ في المنطقة، وهي ترى في ذلك مصلحة كبيرة لها، خصوصاً أنّ تفاهمات كهذه من المفترض أن تساهم في إنهاء الحرب في اليمن، التي تحوّلت إلى عبء كبير يُثقل كاهل الرياض. 

ولا سيما أيضاً، أنّ المملكة تراقب عن كثب تقدّم النشاط الروسي – الصينيّ في الإقليم والعالم، وسعي الثنائي الدولي هذا، وقدرته، على تجاوز خطوات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، العاجزة عن كبح جماح قطار التفاهمات التي تصبّ في مصلحة محور طهران–دمشق، الخارج بقوّة من حرب طويلة على الأرض السوريّة ليضع شروطه على الطاولة التركية. 

فإذا كانت أنقرة ذاتها، العاصمة التي كان لها الدور الإقليميّ الأبرز في المشروع المعادي لسوريا، تسعى بقوة للتقارب مع دمشق، وتنسّق مع طهران وموسكو لأجل هذا، فمن غير المجدي أن تبقى الرياض في موقع المراقب، خصوصاً بعد أن التقطت أبو ظبي طرف اللحظة السياسية الدولية الراهنة، وانغمست في هذا النشاط السياسيّ بقوة، ولم تكن الرياض لتنتظر طويلاً قبل أن تُفعّل دورها في جميع هذه الملفات، وهو العنوان السعودي للمرحلة المقبلة بكل تأكيد. 

وإذ تفيد المعلومات بأنّ أجندة الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد، ستكون مزدحمة هذه الفترة، فمن المُنتظر أنّ يشهد طريق دمشق–الرياض حدثاً كبيراً خلال شهر رمضان وصولاً إلى ما بعد عيد الفطر مباشرةً، يتجاوز موضوع زيارة وزير الخارجية السعوديّ وإعادة افتتاح السفارات بين البلدين. 

ومن المُنتظر أيضاً، بحسب مراقبين سوريين، أن يُعزف النشيد الوطنيّ السوريّ قريباً في مطارات عواصم عربيّة عديدة، الأرجح أنّ بينها عمّان وبغداد والقاهرة والجزائر، إيذاناً بانتهاء مرحلة عصيبة من تاريخ المنطقة العربية، وبدء عودة سوريا إلى موقعها العربي والإقليميّ والدوليّ، الذي حازته وتحوزه الآن، بفضل تضحيات أبنائها وتحالفاتها الصحيحة، وإفشالها واحداً من أخطر المشاريع الاستعمارية التي استهدفتها واستهدفت القضية الفلسطينية والقضايا العربية العادلة وقوى المقاومة في المنطقة.

 لكنْ، هل ستسمح واشنطن بحدوث كل هذا وهي تتفرّج؟ الجواب أتى في وقت متأخر من ليل هذا الخميس 23 آذار/مارس، حيث تعرّضت قاعدة لجيش الاحتلال الأميركي شرقيّ مدينة الحسكة، لهجوم شنّته طائرة مسيّرة من نوع “شاهد”، أدى إلى مقتل جندي أميركيّ وجرح 6، بحسب بيان وزارة الدفاع الأميركيّة، وذلك في ردّ فوريّ على عدوان إسرائيليّ–أميركيّ على دير الزور، استهدف موقعين لقوات المقاومة الحليفة للجيش العربي السوريّ. 

وهذا الردّ الفوريّ القاتل بدوره، يؤشّر على بدء مرحلة جديدة من طريقة التعاطي بين قوى محور المقاومة وقوى الاحتلال في سوريا والمنطقة. وإنّ المعطيات على هذا الصعيد، تفيد بأن شهر رمضان المبارك سيكون ساخناً جدّاً على مستوى المواجهة العسكريّة، كما السياسيّة، ولا سيما في ظلّ التهديدات الإسرائيلية المتزايدة ضد إيران، وتصاعد الاعتداءات على الأراضي السورية، وتصعيد واشنطن لخطواتها المعادية في الميدان السوريّ لبثّ الفوضى وإفشال التفاهمات والتسويات الإقليمية. 

ويمكن الحديث هنا عن وجود قرار اتّخذته قوى المقاومة في المنطقة (روسيا ليست بعيدة عنه) برفع وتيرة المواجهة ضد المحتلين الأميركي والإسرائيليّ، ووضع جميع الاحتمالات العسكرية على الطاولة. وثمّة إشارات قوية هنا، تفيد بأنّ التسويات والتفاهمات التي تشهدها المنطقة، قد لا تترسّخ إلّا بمعركةٍ أقرب ما تكون إلى الحرب الخاطفة، لكنها حرب “تكسير عظام” ستضع حدّاً للقوة الأميركية– الإسرائيلية في المنطقة. ولا سيما أنّ الصراع الأميركيّ الغربيّ– الروسيّ في أوكرانيا، والتفاهمات الصينية–الروسية–الإيرانية الأخيرة، ستلقي بظلالها القوية والمؤثّرة على هذه الميدان، كما عموم ساحات الصراع. 

نحن إذاً، أمام تغيير إقليميّ وعالميّ جديد بكل المقاييس، بل على عتبة عالمٍ جديد سيُكرّس انتصار سوريا وحلفائها على مختلف الصّعد.

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

Iran’s Shamkhani in UAE: Regional Problems Mostly Down To US, ‘Israeli’ Mischief

March 17, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council [SNSC], Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani linked the majority of the region’s problems to acts of mischief committed by the United States and the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime.

Shamkhani made the remarks during an official visit to Abu Dhabi on Thursday, meeting with the President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Iran’s top security official again laid emphasis on the role that was being played by extra-regional countries in fomenting regional crises but did not rule out the prospect of enhancement of collective regional security as a result of joint endeavors among the region’s players.

“Endeavor towards the attainment of collective security based on indigenous capabilities can serve to end many of current crises,” he said.

“Formation of a stronger region is an achievable ideal, towards which all of us have to take [relevant] steps,” the Iranian official noted.

Today, the Muslim world and the Gulf region need regional amity, cooperation, and convergence more than anything else, he said, adding, “This imperative can lead to transcendence of all Muslim countries and bring along welfare and calm.”

Shamkhani has traveled to the Emirates at the head of a delegation featuring top economic, banking, and security officials, for high-level talks with Emirati officials.

He has already met with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The UAE reinstated its ambassador to Iran in September, more than six years after ties between the two sides were downgraded following the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran by protesters over Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Baqir al-Nimr.

The top Iranian security official’s visit to Abu Dhabi comes less than a week after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced the normalization of their ties following several days of intensive deliberations between Shamkhani and his Saudi Arabian counterpart in Beijing.

Observers have hailed the detente and the regional convergence that it is expected to bring about as a fatal blow to the US and the ‘Israeli’ regime’s regional schemes and sphere of influence.

Turning to the issue of the bilateral ties, Shamkhani laid emphasis on the need for furtherance and deepening of the countries’ relations in all fields in light of the long history of their relations as well as the instances of cultural and religious commonality between them.

He assessed the growing trend of political and economic interaction between Tehran and Abu Dhabi as “positive and important,” and acknowledged the “special role” that had been played in this regard by the Emirati president.

“Iran and the Emirates can take great strides down the path of development of bilateral cooperation and reinforcement of the diplomacy of neighborliness,” Shamkhani said.

Given the “decisive resolve” of the countries’ leaders for all-out expansion of the bilateral ties, the Iranian security chief urged expeditious identification and resolution of all standing impediments to the development of the relations, asserting that any delay in this process “is to everybody’s determent.”

For his part, the Emirati official expressed delight over Shamkhani’s visit to the UAE and congratulated Tehran on the occasion of its detente with Riyadh, which he praised as a “determining step” towards enhancement of synergy and convergence among regional countries.

Al Nahyan also hoped that Shamkhani’s visit would open “a new page in [furtherance of] the relations between Iran and the Emirates.”

“The Emirates is very much interested in and ready for resolution of some instances of misunderstanding between the countries towards enhancement of the bilateral relations to their highest level,” he noted.

الرياض مستعدّة للانسحاب… والعين على موقف واشنطن: لا ملحق يمنيّاً لـ«إعلان بكين»

 الأربعاء 15 آذار 2023

لقمان عبد الله  

كانت المفاوضات بين الجانبَين اليمني والسعودي قد قطعت أشواطاً كبيرة بالفعل (أ ف ب)

حفّز إعلان السعودية وإيران استعادة علاقتهما الثُنائية، تساؤلات كثيرة حول تفاصيل الاتفاق وما إنْ كان يحتوي ملحقات سرّية، خصوصاً في شأن الملفّ اليمني الذي انعقدت جولات تفاوض عديدة بشأنه بين الرياض وصنعاء في مسقط. الأكيد أن الاتّفاق ليس مثار قلق لدى حلفاء طهران، بقدْر ما هو كذلك من وجهة نظر أصدقاء الرياض الذين بنوا برامجهم واستراتيجيّاتهم على تأجيج الصراع بين الجانبَين الإيراني والسعودي. بالنسبة إلى دول «محور المقاومة» وقِواه، فإن الخلاف الرئيس مع المملكة يتمثّل في التصاقها بالمشروع الأميركي، وتماهيها معه، وتمويلها تطبيقاته الهدّامة في كلّ من سوريا واليمن والعراق ولبنان؛ وعليه، فكلّما ابتعدت الرياض عن واشنطن في أيّ ساحة من ساحات المنطقة، كلّما سنحت الفرصة لتكون أقرب إلى خصوم الولايات المتحدة.

ومن هنا، لا خشية مطلقاً لدى هؤلاء من أيّ ملحق سرّي أو غير معلَن للاتفاق الإيراني – السعودي، خصوصاً في شأن اليمن. فطوال السنوات الماضية، طُرح الملفّ اليمني على الجانب الإيراني من قِبَل أطراف وازنة مِن مِثل روسيا والاتحاد الأوروبي، ودول خليجية كقطر وسلطنة عُمان، وأخرى آسيوية على رأسها باكستان، وأيضاً من قِبَل الأمم المتحدة، لكن الجواب الإيراني كان واحداً في كلّ المرّات والفترات، ومفاده أن مناقشة هذا الملفّ مكانها في صنعاء وليس في أيّ مكان آخر. كذلك، حاول الجانب السعودي طرْح المسألة اليمنية في مفاوضات بغداد مع الوفد الإيراني، ولكن من دون جدوى، فيما لم تفوّت الرياض وسيلة لتفادي التواصل المباشر مع حركة «أنصار الله»، إلى أن اقتنعت العام الماضي بعقم خيارها تجاهُل صنعاء، وانسداد كلّ الأبواب لتجاوزها، فلجأت مرغمة إلى التفاوض المباشر معها.

يُضاف إلى ما تَقدّم، أن المفاوضات بين الجانبَين اليمني والسعودي كانت قد قطعت أشواطاً كبيرة بالفعل، ليس في ما يختصّ بوقف إطلاق النار وتوسعة الهدنة فقط، بل وصولاً إلى مناقشة صيَغ للحلّ النهائي. وبحسب معلومات «الأخبار»، فإن من جملة ما طُرح في تلك المفاوضات، مسألة خروج القوّات الأجنبية من اليمن تمهيداً للبدء بحوار يمني – يمني. وفي هذا المجال، لم تمانع الرياض تلبية مطالب صنعاء، بل وأبدت استعدادها للانسحاب خصوصاً أن كلّ ما تملكه من قوّات على الأرض لا يتجاوز الـ200 جندي وضابط، بالإمكان إجلاؤهم خلال دقائق، لكنها أوضحت أنه ليس في مقدورها دفْع واشنطن أو لندن أو أبو ظبي إلى اتّخاذ قرار مماثل، وهو ما مثّل إحدى الإشكاليات التي اعترت طريق التفاوض. إذ اعتبرت «أنصار الله» أن السعودية التي قدّمت نفسها بوصفها قائدة لـ«التحالف» الذي يضمّ الأميركيين والبريطانيين والإماراتيين، مسؤولة عن إيجاد الحلّ المناسب لإقناعهم بالخروج، مصرّةً على ضرورة انسحاب جميع «القوّات الأجنبية» بلا استثناء. وبالنتيجة، كاد الاتّفاق بين صنعاء والرياض يُعلَن لولا التدخّل الأميركي الخفيّ لعرقلته، بدافعٍ من سعي الولايات المتّحدة إلى إبقاء الوضع الراهن ورقة مزدوجة بيدها، تُستخدَم من جهة من أجل ابتزاز وليّ العهد السعودي، محمد بن سلمان؛ ومن جهة أخرى في الاستمرار في خنْق اليمن وشلّ قدراته ومنْعه من استخدام موقعه الاستراتيجي، أخذاً في الاعتبار خصوصاً مصالح إسرائيل.

جرت أخيراً نقاشات شاركت فيها موسكو وطهران وصنعاء بهدف إيجاد مخرج للرياض من المستنقع اليمني

في الفترة الأخيرة، جرت نقاشات شاركت فيها موسكو وطهران وصنعاء وعواصم أخرى، في محاولة لإيجاد مخرج للرياض من المستنقع اليمني، يحافظ في الوقت نفسه على المطالب اليمنية الأساسية. أريدَت، من خلال ذلك، خصوصاً من جانب روسيا، محاولة تكبير المسافة الفاصلة بين السعودية والولايات المتحدة، على رغم إدراك الجميع أن الخلاف متركّز حالياً مع الحزب «الديموقراطي»، فيما لا تزال علاقة المملكة بالدولة العميقة الأميركية قائمة، وفق ما يؤشّر إليه مثلاً وجود خمس مجموعات عمل أميركية في الرياض لتعزيز التعاون الأمني والعسكري والسياسي بين الجانبَين. لكن الإيرانيين والروس، وحتى الصينيين، يُجمعون على ضرورة السعي إلى الابتعاد بالسعودية عن أن تكون «أداة» بيد الولايات المتحدة في النزاعات الإقليمية، وهو ما يصبّ في خانته اتّفاق عودة العلاقات الديبلوماسية بين طهران والرياض، برعاية صينية.

على أن الأطراف كافّة، بمَن فيهم الأميركي، يدركون أن حجر الرحى في ما يتّصل باليمن قائم في صنعاء. صحيح أن «أنصار الله» لا تُنكر تلقّيها مساعدات عسكرية من طهران، لكنها تؤكّد أن هذه المساعدة ليست مشروطة، وأنها مستعدّة لتلقّي أيّ معونة من الدول الصديقة الراغبة في ذلك، على أساس احترام السيادة الوطنية للبلاد، فيما تتعاطى إيران، من جانبها، بواقعية سياسية مع حلفائها، مدرِكةً ضرورة مراعاة خصوصيّاتهم الوطنية. وفي هذا المجال، أكد السفير اليمني في طهران، إبراهيم الديلمي، أن «السعودية طلبت من إيران في الجلسات السرّية في بغداد ومسقط خلال الأعوام الماضية، الاتّفاق أوّلاً على الملفّ اليمني، فكان ردّ الإيرانيين صريحاً وواضحاً بأن القرار في ما خصّ هذا الملفّ موجود في صنعاء وليس في طهران». كما اقترح الجانب الإيراني على السعوديين وقْف العدوان ورفْع الحصار، وأبدى استعداده، بالاتّفاق مع اليمنيين، للعبِ دور الميسّر من خلال استضافة مفاوضات بين المملكة و«أنصار الله»، منبّهاً إلى أن إيران ليست وسيطاً في هذا النزاع، بل هي دائماً ما أعلنت انحيازها إلى جانبه اليمني. ومن هنا، انحصر النقاش في مسألة استعادة العلاقات الديبلوماسية، علماً أن إيران كانت تخضع حينها لعقوبات أميركية قصوى، مترافقة مع تهديد بشنّ حرب عليها، فيما كان اقتصادها يعاني أزمة كبرى. وإذا كانت تلك هي حالها في ذروة الحصار، فما الذي سيوجب عليها اليوم، بينما تعاظمت قدراتها العسكرية، وتعزَّز حضورها السياسي، وتَحسّن وضعها الاقتصادي، تقديم تنازلات سواءً ربطاً بملفّاتها الداخلية، أو الملفّات الإقليمية ذات الصلة بها؟

من ملف : اتفاق بكين: لا «ملحق» يمنياً

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UAE suspends Israeli arms deals until far-right govt ‘brought under control’: Report

 March 13 2023

Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi have developed deep economic and security ties since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020

(Photo Credit: EPA)

By News Desk

The UAE has temporarily suspended the purchase of Israeli defense systems due to the chaotic actions of Jewish supremacist officials belonging to the far-right coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Israel’s Channel 12.

“Until we can ascertain that Prime Minister Netanyahu has a government he can control, we can’t work together,” UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) reportedly told Israeli officials.

Channel 12 noted, however, that intelligence and security cooperation between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi is continuing.

Netanyahu’s office vehemently denied the report, calling it “baseless” and saying that Israel and the UAE are constantly holding “fruitful diplomatic contact … including today.”

Earlier this month, US news outlet Axios revealed that Netanyahu’s planned trip to the UAE – initially scheduled for January – was postponed due to “Emirati concerns” that the visit would exacerbate “regional tensions with Iran.”

No new date has yet been set for this visit.

Netanyahu said following his victory in last year’s elections, his first foreign trip as prime minister would be to the UAE.

According to Channel 12, Emirati leaders are particularly peeved over National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s recent raid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the statements made by Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, calling for Palestinian villages to be “wiped out.”

Smotrich’s comments were made after Israeli settlers carried out a pogrom in Huwara, killing one Palestinian, injuring nearly 400, and destroying dozens of homes and vehicles. This rampage also drew the ire of the UAE.

Last year, Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi inked their first arms deal since the signing of a normalization agreement in 2020. At the time, this was described as “one in a series of even bigger deals.”

In recent weeks, the two nations unveiled a jointly developed, unmanned naval vessel and coordinated to strike down a resolution at the UN Security Council for a “complete and immediate” cessation of Israeli settlement activity in Palestinian territory.

Israel and the UAE also maintain deep security cooperation in Yemen and have previously worked together in lobbying US officials to re-list the Ansarallah resistance movement as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).

Yemeni PM meets with Hamas officials to discuss latest developments

March 12 2023

(Photo Credit: AP)

Ansarallah’s official affirmed Yemen’s full support for the Palestinian cause during the meeting

ByNews Desk

The Prime Minister of Sanaa’s government, under the leadership of the Yemeni resistance group Ansarallah, Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, met with representatives of the Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas to discuss recent developments in Palestine.

Bin Habtoor confirmed that Hamas’s acting representative in Yemen, Moaz Abu Shamala, was present during the meeting, where he affirmed to the Palestinian representative that “the Palestinian cause was and will remain present in the conscience of the Arab and Islamic nations,” adding that one of the several moral positions of the Yemeni people is supporting the people of Palestine against Israeli suppression, as well as the sovereignty of a Palestinian state.

Bin Habtoor also praised the Palestinian faction’s resistance against the Israeli occupation and its mission to combat Tel Aviv to ensure regional security.

In response to Sanaa affirming its dedication to supporting Palestine, Abu Shamala expressed his appreciation for Yemen’s position.

Since the formation of Israel’s new far-right coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has increased its aggressive acts against the Palestinians in an attempt to wipe out the Palestinian resistance and acquire more control over Palestinian territories.

Last month, Yemen’s National Salvation Government (NSG) condemned the UAE’s eviction of residents from the Abd al-Kuri Island of the Socotra archipelago off the Yemeni coast, which Abu Dhabi has been carrying out as part of its long-active plan of transforming Socotra into an Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub.

This was confirmed by Yemeni journalist and activist Anis Mansour, who on 20 February strongly condemned the “bringing in of Israeli and Emirati forces to the island without the knowledge of the leadership or authorities, in a blatant challenge to Yemeni dignity and sovereignty.”

Mansour also claimed that the Saudi-led coalition plans to ‘secure housing’ in Hadhramaut for about 1,000 fishermen from the island to limit the island to the presence of Emirati-Israeli military and intelligence officials.

Israel is interested in the strategic archipelago because it serves as a potential flashpoint for a confrontation with Iran. In 2020, the Washington Institute published an analysis examining how Israeli submarines could potentially strike the Islamic Republic from positions near Yemen.


What did he say to the preachers..? The speech of Mr. Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi during the expanded meeting of preachers and guides of the governorates
Time may be running out, and Sanaa’s patience will not last

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100 Organizations Ask for Yemen Resolution

MARCH 13, 2023



We have seen much recently about the Ukraine war anniversary. But March also marks the eighth anniversary of the war on Yemen and the 20th on Iraq. Members of Congress should introduce a Yemen War Powers Resolution before this war enters a ninth year.

In the past few weeks, activists in 17 cities across the United States protested at congressional offices and beyond, calling on lawmakers to bring the harmful U.S. role in the Yemen war to an end.

During the demonstrations, activists called on Sen. Bernie Sanders and other federal lawmakers to introduce a new Yemen War Powers Resolution this month. If brought up for a vote, Congress could order the president to end U.S. participation in the catastrophic conflict, which the U.S. has enabled for eight years. Sen. Sanders sponsored last year’s bill, but when he moved to bring the resolution to a vote in December, the Biden administration shut him down.

Sen. Sanders pledged to return to the Senate floor with a new Yemen War Powers Resolution if he and the administration were unable to agree to “strong and effective” action that would achieve his goals.

In the absence of meaningful public action from Biden to this end, the time is now for Sen. Sanders to make good on his pledge. For more than 11 months, Saudi Arabia has not bombed Yemen. However, without a negotiated settlement, this could change anytime. If the United States continues to support the war, it will be implicated in Saudi aggression if, and likely when, the conflict reignites.

Approximately two–thirds of the Royal Saudi Air Force receive direct support from U.S. military contracts in the form of spare parts and maintenance. The Saudi-led coalition has relied on this support to carry out these offensive strikes in Yemen. The United States has no sufficient compelling interest in Yemen that justifies complicity in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Since March 2015, the Saudi Arabia and /UAE)-led bombing and blockade of Yemen have killed hundreds of thousands of people and wreaked havoc on the country, creating one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. 17 million people in Yemen are food insecure and 500,000 children are experiencing severe wasting.

For years Saudi Arabia –– and the Yemeni government it supports –– have prevented virtually any containerized goods from entering Hodeida, Yemen’s principal Red Sea port. Containerized goods include essentially everything other than food and fuel.

This has hurt the economy and prevented critical life-saving medicine and medical equipment from reaching people in need. With apparent never-ending U.S. military support, Saudi Arabia lacks an important incentive to completely lift the blockade and withdraw from Yemen.

In 2018 Saudi dictator Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi and then lied about it. Just last year Saudi Arabia manipulated global energy markets to raise fuel prices and empower Russia in its immoral and illegal invasion of Ukraine.

These are just two examples of Saudi Arabia conduct harmful to the United States and its allies. The Biden administration was correct in October when it called for a re-evaluation of the US-Saudi relationship, urging Congress to propose measures to hold Saudi Arabia accountable. Passing the Yemen War Powers Resolution is a chance to do exactly that.

More than 100 national organizations – humanitarian, veterans’, libertarian, and others – wrote to Congress as recently as December urging passage of the Yemen War Powers Resolution. Bernie Sanders should re-introduce his resolution.

Under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, the power to raise and support armies is reserved for Congress. No Congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) has been issued for Yemen. The War Powers Resolution empowers Congress to invoke its war powers authority to end unconstitutional U.S. participation in wars like the war in Yemen.

Saturday, March 25 will mark the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of Yemen. To mark the occasion, US and international groups will hold an online rally to inspire and enhance education and activism to end the war in Yemen. Join grassroots groups on March 25th at noon Eastern Time and please sign the petition at

Haylie Arocho is a Northeastern student and fellow with Action Corps, a grassroots humanitarian advocacy organization that co-leads a coalition to end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen. Isaac Evans-Frantz is the founding director of Action Corps.

Exclusive: The hidden security clauses of the Iran-Saudi deal

March 12 2023

The Cradle reveals confidential clauses of the agreement struck between Tehran and Riyadh, which was reached courtesy of Beijing.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Hasan Illaik

Under Chinese auspices, on 10 March in Beijing, longtime regional competitors Iran and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement to restore diplomatic relations, after a break of seven years.

In its most optimistic reading, the deal can be seen as a historic strategic agreement, reflecting major changes underway in West Asia and the world. At worst, it can be characterized as an “armistice agreement” between two important rivals, that will provide a valuable space for direct, regular communications.

The Sino-Saudi-Iranian joint statement on Friday carried strong implications beyond the announcement of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh, severed since 2016.

The statement is very clear:

  • The embassies of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic Iran will reopen in less than two months.
  • Respect for the sovereignty of States.
  • Activating the security cooperation agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran signed in 2001.
  • Activating the cooperation agreement in the economic, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth sectors signed between the parties in 1998.
  • Urging the three countries to exert all efforts to promote regional and international peace and security.

At first glance, the first four clauses suggest that the Chinese-brokered deal is essentially a mending of diplomatic relations between the two longtime adversaries. But in fact, the fifth clause is far from the standard text inserted into joint statements between states.

It appears to establish a new reference for conflicts in West Asia, in which China plays the role of “peacemaker” — in partnership with Iran and Saudi Arabia — in which Beijing assumes a role in various regional conflicts or influences the relevant parties.

Sources familiar with the negotiations have revealed to The Cradle that Chinese President Xi Jinping did not merely coat-tail a deal already underway between Tehran and Riyadh. Xi has, in fact, personally paved the way for this agreement to materialize. The Chinese head of state delved deep into its details since his visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2022, and then later, during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Beijing in mid-February 2023.

More than one round of negotiations was held under Chinese auspices, during which the Iranians and Saudis finalized details negotiated between them in Iraq and Oman, during earlier rounds of talks.

It was by no means a given that the two sides would arrive at an agreement in their last round of discussions (6-10 March, 2023). But the Chinese representative managed to overcome all obstacles between the two delegations, after which the parties obtained approval from their respective leaderships to announce the deal on Friday.

China as regional guarantor

In the past couple of days, much has been written about the strategic implications of a  Chinese-brokered Saudi-Iranian agreement and its impact on China’s global role vis-à-vis the United States. The Persian Gulf is a strategic region for both powers, and the main source of China’s energy supply. It is likely why Beijing intervened to stem tensions between its two strategic allies. It is also something Washington, long viewed as the region’s “security guarantor,” could never have achieved.

Undoubtedly, much will be said about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) “strategic adventurism” and his exploitation of  global changes to offset the decline of US regional influence. The rise of a multipolar, post-American order allows traditional US allies some space to explore their international options away from Washington, and in service of their immediate national interests.

Saudi Arabia’s current interests are related to the ambitious political, economic, financial, and cultural targets that MbS has set out for his country, and are based on two pillars:

  • Diversifying regional and global partnerships in order to adapt to global systemic changes that will help realize Riyadh’s grand plans.
  • Establishing security and political stability to allow Saudi Arabia to implement its major projects, especially those outlines in MbS’ “Vision 2030,” through which Riyadh envisions itself transforming into a regional incubator for finance, business, media, and the entertainment industry – similar to the role played by the UAE in decades past, or by Beirut before the Lebanese civil war in 1975.

In short, regional and domestic security and stability are vital for Riyadh to be able to implement its strategic goals. As such, confidential clauses were inserted into the Beijing Agreement to assure Iran and Saudi Arabia that their security imperatives would be met. Some of these details were provided to The Cradle, courtesy of a source involved in the negotiations:

  • Both Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran undertake not to engage in any activity that destabilizes either state, at the security, military or media levels.
  • Saudi Arabia pledges not to fund media outlets that seek to destabilize Iran, such as Iran International.
  • Saudi Arabia pledges not to fund organizations designated as terrorists by Iran, such as the People’s Mojahedin Organization (MEK), Kurdish groups based in Iraq, or militants operating out of Pakistan.
  • Iran pledges to ensure that its allied organizations do not violate Saudi territory from inside Iraqi territory. During negotiations, there were discussions about the targeting of Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia in September 2019, and Iran’s guarantee that an allied organization would not carry out a similar strike from Iraqi lands.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran will seek to exert all possible efforts to resolve conflicts in the region, particularly the conflict in Yemen, in order to secure a political solution that secures lasting peace in that country.

According to sources involved in the Beijing negotiations, no details on Yemen’s conflict were agreed upon as there has already been significant progress achieved in direct talks between Riyadh and Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement in January. These have led to major understandings between the two warring states, which the US and UAE have furiously sought to undermine in order to prevent a resolution of the Yemen war.

In Beijing however, the Iranian and Saudis agreed to help advance the decisions already reached between Riyadh and Sanaa, and build upon these to end the seven-year war.

Hence, although the Beijing statement primarily addresses issues related to diplomatic rapprochement, Iranian-Saudi understandings appear to have been brokered mainly around security imperatives. Supporters of each side will likely claim their country fared better in the agreement, but a deeper look shows a healthy balance in the deal terms, with each party receiving assurances that the other will not tamper with its security.

While Iran has never declared a desire to undermine Saudi Arabia’s security, some of its regional allies have made no secret of their intentions in this regard. In addition, MbS has publicly declared his intention to take the fight inside Iran, which Saudi intelligence services have been doing in recent years, specifically by supporting and financing armed dissident and separatist organizations that Iran classifies as terrorist groups.

The security priorities of this agreement should have been easy to spot in Beijing last week. After all, the deal was struck between the National Security Councils of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and included the participation of intelligence services from both countries. Present in the Iranian delegation were officers from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and from the intelligence arms of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

On a slightly separate note related to regional security — but not part of the Beijing Agreement — sources involved in negotiations confirmed to The Cradle that, during talks, the Saudi delegation stressed Riyadh’s commitment to the 2002 Arab peace initiative; refusing normalization with Tel Aviv before the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

What is perhaps most remarkable, and illustrates the determination by the parties to strike a deal without the influence of spoilers, is that Iranian and Saudi intelligence delegations met in the Chinese capital for five days without Israeli intel being aware of the fact. It is perhaps yet another testament that China — unlike the US — understands how to get a deal done in these shifting times.

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

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