The Iranian-Saudi Understanding: A Major Shift for the Region

March 17, 2023

By Mohammad Youssef

The Iranian-Saudi rapprochement under the Chinese flag was the event that made the headlines this week, and will continue to do so for a quite long time to come.

The understanding, or the agreement that was reached and pronounced in the statement, reflects a total new shift, a major one that would positively affect the region and its countries in the future.

What is so important about this agreement is that it reflects a major transformation in the perspective of the different parties in viewing and assessing the situation.

It comes after a long ordeal and bitter experiences that littered the history of the relation of the two countries.

Both capitals Tehran and Riyadh are fully convinced they needed this agreement.

For its part, Saudi Arabia is in need for this agreement in accordance with its new policy of zero problems.

Mohammad bin Salman [MBS], with his wide ambition to revive Riyadh and its role, is in need for stability to carry out his 2030 vision. Any escalation in the region would most likely put his dreams and plans of development into jeopardy. This in turn, would put his plans to assume power at risk also.

MBS understands very well the geopolitical influence Tehran has in the whole region. He also hopes this would open the path for a settlement for his Yemeni crisis, as he has been struggling to get out of the quagmire.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is in need for this agreement with Riyadh as well. Tehran has always longed for a mutual agreement with Saudi Arabia to settle all neighboring disputes so it can be fully free to combat the American-‘Israeli’ threats.

Riyadh plays a central role in the region and has an immense influence over the Gulf countries. It is not surprising at all to say it dictates most of the policies there.

Iran, for its part, needs Saudi Arabia to stop its animosity and to cease supporting Tehran’s enemies.

The agreement that was concluded in China would finally serve as a platform to all those necessities from both sides.

The agreement itself is very important because it comes under the Chinese mediation.

This would count more for China’s vitality and tell a lot about the mounting ascending Chinese rule in the world and more specifically in the region.

Both Washington and Tel Aviv were not happy at all to hear about the new agreement between the rival countries.

Their first reactions were distressed and reflected their disappointment and dismay.

The agreement should be monitored very well, and it does not mean that the two countries have become friends. Riyadh did not come out of the American cloak, neither departed its orbit. Tehran is also still fixed at its principles that enshrine its policies.

We have to give an opportunity and a window of time for this understanding to materialize well and see whether it is going to grow and succeed to become a full-fledged agreement.

The hopes are there now and hopes are pinned that this become a reality because it would bring huge benefits to the whole region and its people.

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.

اتفاق السعودية وايران ينظّم المنافسة المستمرة: ملف لبنان رهن تغيّر مقاربة الرياض

ملف الرئاسة رهن تغيّر سعودي لا إيراني

الإثنين 13 آذار 2023

 ابراهيم الأمين

فوجئ كثيرون، في المنطقة والعالم، بالبيان الختامي للمحادثات السعودية – الإيرانية برعاية صينية. البعض لم يكن على علم بأصل التفاوض الجاري منذ مدة غير قصيرة، وفوجئ باتفاق سيُعمل على تنفيذه خلال أسابيع. فيما يتصرف آخرون بشيء من الخشية من أن يحمل الاتفاق مفاجآت ليست في الحسبان، ومتناقضة مع السياسات التي كانت تعتمدها السعودية خصوصاً.

أهمية الاتفاق بين البلدين أنهما يمثلان مركز الصراع على ملفات المنطقة، وأن الطابع التنافسي طغى دائماً على علاقاتهما حتى عندما كانت في أفضل أحوالها. وهو امر تعزز بعد سقوط نظام صدام حسين، وتغييرات المشهد اللبناني بعد اغتيال رفيق الحريري، والتطورات التي عصفت بكثير من الدول بعد 2011. وقد تواجه الطرفان بشراسة في ساحات عدة، من العراق إلى سوريا والبحرين واليمن وصولاً إلى لبنان وفلسطين، وزاد الوضع تعقيداً بينهما إثر تولي محمد بن سلمان السلطة الفعلية في السعودية.

من الأفضل العودة إلى أهداف كل طرف كي تكون مراقبة الاتفاق أكثر واقعية، وحتى لا يذهب أحد بعيداً في التحليلات أو التمنيات، خصوصاً أن مسائل كثيرة عالقة في المنطقة يعتقد كثيرون أن حلها رهن اتفاق البلدين. وهذا تقدير خاطئ، ليس لعدم رغبة الطرفين في المساعدة على فضّ النزاعات، بل لكون الأطراف الأخرى، الإقليمية والدولية، تملك من القوة والنفوذ ما يمكّنها من عرقلة التفاهم، وتفجير ساحات كثيرة، وصولاً إلى تفجير الاتفاق نفسه.

منذ تولي آل سلمان الحكم في السعودية وإمساكهم بمفاصل القرار فيها، تصرّفت الرياض كطرف قادر على المبادرة إلى خطوات كبيرة تعزز نفوذها في المنطقة. وهي قبل أن تشن حربها المدمرة ضد اليمن، شاركت بفعالية في تعزيز الاختلال الأمني والسياسي والاقتصادي في العراق، وفعلت الأمر نفسه في سوريا عندما انخرطت في معركة إطاحة النظام، كما لعبت دوراً كبيراً في الانقلاب الذي قاده الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي في مصر. وكذلك الحال في فلسطين. فإلى البرودة التي سادت علاقتها بالأردن والسلطة الفلسطينية، قادت السعودية معركة قاسية ضد ابرز قوتين في المقاومة، معتبرة ان حماس تمثل امتداداً لحركة الإخوان المسلمين، وتصرفت مع الثانية على أنها ذراع إيرانية. وفي البيت الخليجي، قبضت الرياض على مركز القرار في البحرين مانعة أي مصالحة وطنية، وعاقبت قطر وحاصرتها، وكبّلت حكام الإمارات والكويت، وحاولت مراراً فرض ضغوط على سلطنة عمان. وتمثّلت ذروة هذه السياسة في حرب وحشية وعبثية ضد الشعب اليمني، قامت على حسابات خاطئة من كل النواحي، وأدركت السعودية بنتيجتها أن الولايات المتحدة والغرب الأوروبي لن يتوليا هذه المهمة عنها.

مطالب وهواجس سعودية

بعد كل ما حصل، تريد السعودية تحقيق الآتي:

أولاً، توازن فعلي مع الدور الإيراني في العالم العربي، وتوازن أكثر فعالية على صعيد إدارة ملف التدفق النفطي عبر الممرات البحرية.

ثانياً، الخروج بمكاسب من حرب اليمن، من خلال اعتبار إيران طرفاً يمكنه المساعدة على تحقيق تسوية تجعل السعودية طرفاً رابحاً أمام الحوثيين وبقية الأطراف اليمنية.

ثالثاً، تفاهم يعطي الرياض حق الفيتو في العراق، من خلال تفاهم مع السلطات العراقية، وليس عبر نفوذ المملكة على بعض القوى والشخصيات العراقية.

رابعاً، عقد مصالحة مع الدولة السورية، مع محاولة لجعل دمشق أقرب إلى السعودية، سواء في ملف اليمن، أوفي الموقف من حركات الإخوان المسلمين وقوى المقاومة، باعتبار أن ذلك سيؤدي حكماً إلى إضعاف نفوذ إيران في سوريا، وتالياً في لبنان وفلسطين.

خامساً، التوقف عن لعب دور الثري الذي تُفرض عليه خوات في لبنان وفلسطين ومناطق أخرى. السعوديون مستعدون لإنفاق الكثير، لكنهم يريدون مقابلاً واضحاً، وهم أعطوا من يسعى إلى التحالف معهم درساً من خلال طريقة تعاملهم مع ابنهم «المدلل» سعد الحريري.

سادساً، تريد السعودية أن تثبت للغرب، وللإدارة الأميركية الحالية خصوصاً، أنها لم تعد البلد الذي لا يحرك ساكناً من دون موافقة أميركية، وأنها تجيد قراءة المتغيرات العالمية، وتريد انتزاع هامش حقيقي في السياسة والأمن والاقتصاد، من خلال طريقة تعامل مختلفة مع الأطراف الدولية المؤثرة، وفي مقدمها الصين.
على هامش هذه المطالب الجوهرية، يمكن إيراد كثير من النقاط التي يجري تقديمها كمواد سجالية يومية، من نوع أن تكبح إيران جماح حكومات وقوى محور المقاومة، وأن تضغط لإسكات قوى بارزة من أنصار الله في اليمن إلى حزب الله في لبنان إلى قوى المقاومة في فلسطين. كما يمكن، أيضاً، طرح الكثير من العناوين التفصيلية، من بينها مثلاً ملف الانتخابات الرئاسية في لبنان.

الاسد وضع استراتيجية تمنع ابتزازه: علاقات ثنائية ومصالحات موضعية مع العرب

… ومطالب وهواجس إيرانية

أما من جهة طهران، فإن الأمور واضحة أيضاً، وتتمثل في الآتي:

أولاً، كسر العزلة المفروضة على إيران بسبب السياسات الأميركية التي تنصاع لها دول كثيرة في المنطقة من بينها السعودية، وألا يكون هذا الكسر سياسياً فقط، بل اقتصادياً أيضاً. وهي ترى في السعودية دولة كبيرة في الإقليم، لها قدراتها الكبيرة، بما يساعد طهران في تحقيق هذا الهدف.

ثانياً، احتواء الحملة التي تصوّر الجمهورية الإسلامية رأس حربة في معركة شيعية ضد السنة في العالم الإسلامي. وهي تدرك أن للسعودية دورها الكبير في هذا السياق، خصوصاً بعد الوهن الذي أصاب مصر من جهة، وتراجع قوة الإخوان المسلمين في المنطقة، وبعد تطبيع العلاقات بين دول وقوى عربية وإسلامية مع إسرائيل.

ثالثاً، تسعى إيران إلى عزل برنامجها النووي عن أي ملفات أخرى تتعلق بعلاقاتها مع دول الجوار. وهي أكّدت دائماً للسعودية وغيرها، واستعانت بأطراف عدة من بينها الصين، لتوضيح أن برنامجها النووي وبرامجها للصواريخ الباليستية لا تستهدف دول الجوار وفق الدعاية التي يروّجها الغرب.

رابعاً، تريد إيران تحقيق استقرار مستدام في منطقة الخليج، وهو أمر يحتاج إلى تسوية واقعية مع السعودية، تمكّنها من إشهار وتطوير علاقاتها الجدية مع بقية دول الخليج. كما تدرك طهران أن الرياض قادرة، بقوة، على المساعدة في تحقيق استقرار جدي في العراق وسوريا، وحتى في ساحات حليفة لها، كلبنان وفلسطين.

خامساً، تهتم إيران ايضا، بتطويق التدخل السعودي في شؤونها الداخلية. خلال جلسات التفاوض، عرض الإيرانيون على نظرائهم السعوديين الأدلة التي تثبت تورط السعودية استخباراتياً وتمويلياً وإعلامياً في الأحداث التي تشهدها إيران بين فترة وأخرى. علماً أن طهران تتفادى حمل هذا القميص علناً، كما تفعل الرياض بالحديث عن تدخل إيران في شؤون دول المنطقة، وهي لا تريد مساعدة السعودية أو غيرها في معالجة مشاكلها الداخلية، بقدر ما تريد من هذه الأطراف عدم التورط في مثل هذه الأحداث، لأنه سيكون لهذا التدخل ثمنه الكبير مع الوقت.

سادساً، تعتقد إيران أن لتطوير العلاقات مع السعودية تأثيراً كبيراً على النفوذ الأميركي في المنطقة، ويمكن أن يؤخر – أو ربما يعطل – المساعي لضم السعودية إلى برنامج التطبيع مع العدو، وهي تراهن على أن ابتعاد الرياض عن مشاريع التطبيع سيكون له أثره على الدول التي انخرطت في هذه المشاريع، وتشعر اليوم بأنها لم تجنِ أي مكاسب منها.

أي نتائج متوقعة؟

من خارج الدولتين، ثمة حسابات ورهانات وتوقعات تتعلق بتداعيات الاتفاق على ملفات المنطقة. وفي هذا المجال، يبدو واضحاً من معطيات وصلت الى جهات معنية، بأن ايران لم تدر ظهرها لمطلب المساعدة في معالجة ملف اليمن. لكن ما لا يعرفه كثيرون، هو انه خلال جولات التفاوض المباشر بين السعوديين وأنصار الله، سواء في صنعاء والرياض او تلك التي تحصل برعاية مسقط، باتت السعودية تدرك الهامش الضيق الذي يمكن لايران ان تتحرك فيه في اليمن، وأنه لا يمكنها ان تفرض على انصار الله خيارات تتناقض مع رؤيتهم. ولذلك سارعت الى عرض مشروع اتفاق يسمح لصنعاء السير قدما في مشروع حل. وفي هذا السياق، فقط، يصبح لايران دور جدي في تعجيل الامر.

أما في سوريا، فلم تبادر ايران أساساً الى حض دمشق أو منعها من اعادة التواصل مع أحد. لكن الرئيس بشار الاسد نفسه، وهو من له مصلحة باعادة الحرارة الى علاقات بلاده مع كل العالم، وضع استراتيجية تهدف، أولاً، إلى تعطيل اي محاولة لابتزازه. ولذلك، لا يبدي حماسة كبيرة للعودة الى جامعة الدول العربية، ولا يطرح الامر كحاجة ملحة. لا بل ان الاسد الذي يعرف تماماً محدودية تأثير الجامعة، يفضل السعي الى علاقات ثنائية ذات فعالية مع الدول العربية البارزة. وهو قادر على صياغة علاقات قوية مع السعودية ومصر والاردن والامارات، من دون ان يضطر الى علاقات مع قطر ودول اخرى تورطت بقوة في الحرب ضده. أضف إلى ذلك أنه يرغب في اعادة تنظيم العلاقات الثنائية، من دون رهن ذلك بطلبات منه في ملفات اخرى. فهو لا يجد نفسه معنياً بموقف يناسب السعودية في اليمن، ولن يقبل نقاشا حول حزب الله في لبنان. وحتى في ملف الاخوان المسلمين الذين خاض معهم حرباً شرسة، فإنه يميز أولوية الملف الفلسطيني. فهو لم يقبل مصالحة حماس ليحوّلها ورقة مساومة مع الاخرين. أما في العراق، فيرى الاسد نفسه طرفاً معنياً لا طرفا ثانوياً، وكذلك الأمر في لبنان، لكنه لا يجد نفسه مضطراً الآن لتحمل هذا العبء فيما اولويته اعادة اعمار سوريا وتنظيم موقعها في المنطقة.

وعليه، فان من ينتظر من اتفاق بكين نتيجة مباشرة على صعيد المعركة الرئاسية في لبنان، يكون قد قرأ بصورة خاطئة الاتفاق. لا السعودية ستغيّر موقفها الآن، ولا ايران تعتقد ان عليها الضغط على حلفائها في لبنان. وبالتالي، فان الخطوة المنتظرة تتعلق بمراجعة مرتقبة من الرياض لكل ما قامت به في لبنان طوال عقود عدة، وخصوصا في العقد الاخير.

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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.

In a US-China confrontation, West Asia will bow out

A significant increase in geopolitical and economic ties with China has offered West Asian states an alternative to the US, which has traditionally been the region’s security guarantor.

February 24 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle
F.M. Shakil is a Pakistani writer covering political, environmental, and economic issues, and is a regular contributor at Akhbar Al-Aan in Dubai and Asia Times in Hong Kong. He writes extensively about China-Pakistan strategic relations, particularly Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

By F.M. Shakil

The prospect of a US-China war has entered the realm of reality. Increased provocations from US military and political officials regarding the status of Taiwan – which China considers to be part of its historic territory – have heightened the possibility of confrontation in recent years.

With only 13 out of 193 UN member states recognizing the government in Taipei as a separate entity, the global community’s reaction to a Washington-led assault over Taiwan’s status remains highly uncertain.

Today, the reaction of strategic West Asia to a hypothetical conflict between the two superpowers is up for grabs. However, given the region’s reluctance to take sides in the Russian-US stand off, it is likely to be equally hesitant to do so in the event of a US-China conflict.

In a memo released on 27 January, US General Mike Minihan, chief of the Air Mobility Command, wrote: “My instinct tells me we will fight in 2025.” General Minihan’s views align with Taiwanese Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng’s statement in 2021 that China will be capable of launching a full-scale invasion of Taiwan by the same year.

In response to General Minihan’s remarks, Mike McCaul, chairman of the US House Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News: “I hope he is mistaken but I believe he is correct.” Adding fuel to the fire, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on 29 January, “The chances of conflict in the relationship with China over Taiwan are very high.”

A lot of hot air

Days after the US general issued a warning that Washington may engage in combat with Beijing in the next two years, tensions between the two countries were further exacerbated by the spoof-worthy Chinese spy balloon incident.

According to some senior Republicans and US military leaders, there is a growing concern that a full-scale conflict between the two superpowers is imminent, with the Asia-Pacific (AP) and South Asia (SA) regions likely to be the primary theaters of the conflict.

Jan Achakzai, a geopolitical analyst and former adviser to Pakistan’s Balochistan government, tells The Cradle that:

“The possibility of a war between the United States and China puts everyone on edge, especially the regions that are intricately linked with the US or China. Some nations will be compelled to choose between allying with the US in the case of war or keeping the status quo to lessen the possibility of hostilities.”

Russian involvement in West Asia

Despite nominal trade and geopolitical relations with Moscow, West Asian countries did not support Washington’s position in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, Russia’s veto power at the UN Security Council does have a positive impact on its relationship with regional states, particularly for its ability to prevent expansionist and anti-Arab policies by other permanent council members.

Security and trade remain the two primary pillars of the relationship between Moscow and West Asia, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image has played a significant role in shaping these ties.

The UAE serves as a major financial hub for Russia, and Moscow may attempt to leverage its influence in the region to urge the UAE to reconsider US-imposed banking restrictions, if it feels that its interests are being compromised.

In addition, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt are among the countries that purchase wheat from Russia, which further solidifies economic ties between Russia and the Arab world.

Moreover, since joining the expanded Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) in 2016, Russia and Saudi Arabia have worked closely to regulate oil output and price adjustments as part of OPEC+ agreements.

Putin’s public image has, in part, contributed to a surge in support for Russia in the kingdom. In 2018, when Riyadh faced international criticism over the Saudi-orchestrated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Russian president made headlines by high-fiving and grinning at the then-isolated Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) during the G20 summit in Argentina.

Likewise, his prominent role in thwarting the NATO proxy war in Syria – a geopolitical game changer that, arguably, ushered in global multipolarity – has gained Putin fans across a region that has long suffered from western imperialist designs.

Where will West Asia stand?

Although still a hypothetical scenario, it is worth considering how West Asia would respond to a direct US-China conflict. Many prominent geopolitical analysts have speculated that if West Asia, and particularly the traditionally pro-US Arab states of the Persian Gulf, did not toe the US line against Russia – a significantly smaller regional trading partner than China – its loyalties to Washington in a potential US-China confrontation could be further strained.

Compared to Russia, China has significantly larger investments throughout West Asia. In 2021, bilateral trade between Beijing and the region amounted to $330 billion, with approximately 50 percent of China’s energy supply coming from the energy-abundant Persian Gulf.

China has conducted over $200 billion in trade alone with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. From 2005 to 2021, Beijing invested $43.47 billion in Saudi Arabia, $36.16 billion in the UAE, $30.05 billion in Iraq, $11.75 billion in Kuwait, $7.8 billion in Qatar, $6.62 billion in Oman, and $1.4 billion in Bahrain.

In addition to its investments in trade and energy, China has also invested enormous sums of money in West Asian and North African infrastructure and high-tech development projects via its multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Beijing has entered into strategic cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, and Iran, and has enlisted a total of 21 Arab nations in its ambitious, decade-long effort to revive the historic Silk Road and export its goods to markets throughout Europe and Africa. Currently, infrastructure developed by Persian Gulf nations serves as a transit point for two-thirds of Chinese exports to these continents.

Egypt is a crucial hub for the BRI, with the Economic-Technological Development Area in Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone, near Ain Sokhna, representing one of the major projects for which the two nations signed contracts totaling $18 billion in 2018.

Iraq, the third-largest oil supplier to China after Saudi Arabia and Russia, has also received $10.5 billion from Beijing for BRI-related energy projects, and just this week, agreed to replace its dollar trade with Beijing for the Chinese yuan.

In West Asia, the US plays second fiddle to Beijing

Chinese collaboration with West Asia and North Africa is not confined to trade and economy; Beijing also provides defense equipment to several Arab nations. Since 2019, China and Saudi Arabia have reportedly collaborated on the production of ballistic missiles, and China also sells Saudi Arabia its HQ-17AE air defense system.

Chinese Wing Loong drones have been purchased by the UAE, and Iraq has placed an order for CH-4B drones. Jordan purchased CH-4Bs in 2016, while Algeria acquired CH-5s – the next generation of the CH-4B type – to expand its aviation capabilities in 2022. In addition, Saudi Advanced Communications and Electronics Systems Co. and China Electronics Technology Group are partnering to build a drone factory for local UAV production.

While US President Joe Biden’s administration’s relationship with Riyadh has been strained due to disagreements over human rights and energy policy, China is making significant strides in strengthening its ties with the country.

As Beijing draws closer to Saudi Arabia, the message to Washington from Riyadh is unambiguous: “The people in the Middle East [West Asia] are tired of other countries’ interference because they always come with troubles.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping received a royal welcome in Riyadh last December, marking a seismic shift in Sino-Arab relations and boosting China’s image throughout the Arab world. In contrast, US President Joe Biden’s visit to Jeddah in the summer of 2022 received a lukewarm reception. This may suggest that a recalibration of West Asian geopolitical alliances may be on the horizon.

Despite these trends, analyst Achakzai tells The Cradle that West Asia will behave similarly to the way it did during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict – even given China’s increasing business and military presence in the region. and the US’s declining control over the oil-rich Arab monarchies.

“Depending on the current situation, the motives of the various states in the region may change and divide into two distinct groups: those who would support the US and those who would support a neutral position.”

China values economy over war

In the Asia-Pacific region, the US and its allies are engaged in a contentious relationship with China regarding maritime boundaries, international trade, human rights, and strategic security issues. Despite signing numerous security pacts with regional players, China appears to prioritize building and strengthening economic ties over military cooperation with Asian-Pacific states.

Due to a history of hostile confrontations and divergent geopolitical objectives, both the US and China seek to increase their military presence in the region. In response to China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, the US has expanded its military footprint by signing commercial and defense agreements with the Asia-Pacific region.

The two nations have also been at odds over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which many viewed as an effort to contain China’s economic and strategic influence in its own backyard. Additionally, tensions have escalated between Beijing and its neighbors, particularly over territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.

These efforts have been emboldened by the 5-member Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which is an informal strategic dialogue between the US, India, Japan, and Australia that seeks “to promote a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.” According to Achakzai:

“Countries that have extensive defense agreements with the US, such as Japan, South Korea, and Australia, are most likely to help America. These nations, which have long benefited from their close connections to the US, must now contend with Chinese territorial ambitions in the region and the South China Sea. The nations having an informal security partnership with the US, such as the Philippines, are likely to back the United States in a confrontation.”

The analyst explained that Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia are expected to remain neutral during the conflict due to their strong business and investment ties with China.

“Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region may feel obligated to support the US if China initiates the conflict. This may apply to countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, which have recently been under Chinese pressure and may need to choose a side to protect their own security,” he noted.

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

Renewed request to Kushner: Hand over $2 billion Saudi investment docs

Feb 16, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Democrats look for records connected to a $2 billion investment by a Saudi fund in Jared Kushner’s private equity firm, which he founded as Donald Trump’s son-in-law and former advisor.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) was a close ally of Kushner’s when he worked at the White House (AFP)

Six months after leaving the White House, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner got a $2 billion investment from a fund managed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a key supporter throughout Trump’s presidency.

Previously undisclosed documents unmasked that a panel that reviews assets for the primary Saudi sovereign wealth fund had concerns about the proposed agreement with Kushner’s newly created private equity business, Affinity Partners.

In a related development, a senior Democrat renewed a request for documents outlining how Jared Kushner received $2 billion from a Saudi investment fund on Tuesday, acknowledging that Kushner had failed to respond to an earlier inquiry and raising new questions about whether he had “improperly traded” on his government work to benefit his financial interests.

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-MD), the House Oversight and Accountability Committee’s senior Democrat, referenced a Washington Post story published Saturday and other publications he said raised troubling questions about Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Unsurprisingly, MBS chaired a sovereign wealth fund that invested in Kushner’s private equity business, known as Affinity Partners, just after Kushner left a White House job that dealt often with Saudi matters.

“I am deeply troubled by your continued refusal to produce documents regarding the Saudi government’s $2 billion investment in your fund in light of recent prominent reporting that Saudi Arabia made that investment in Affinity just months after you left a senior White House position where you were responsible for shaping Middle East policy,” Raskin wrote to Kushner.

Raskin also asked Kushner to name all foreign investors in his company.

It is worth noting that Kushner did not reply quickly to a request for comment.

Raskin’s letter followed a request for the documents from the committee, which was controlled by Democrats at the time.

While Kushner’s firm provided roughly 2,000 pages in response, Raskin revealed in his letter on Tuesday that they primarily consisted of publicly available records that “do not substantively pertain to the Saudi government’s involvement in the firm.” When the committee followed up in October, the company’s legal officer did not answer, as per Raskin.

But, in a statement to The Washington Post on Tuesday, Comer said he would not sign Raskin’s letter, which might make it more difficult for House Democrats to seek information from Kushner.

“Ranking Member Raskin and Committee Democrats have a long way to go to prove they are interested in true oversight after having spent the past two years giving the Biden Administration a free pass,” Comer said.

“If Democrats want to join Committee Republicans in our ongoing efforts, including investigating Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s suspicious business schemes with foreign adversaries, then we can discuss joining together on future requests. Until then, Committee Republicans will continue seeking answers for the American people about the current Administration’s activities,” he added.

In further detail, Raskin’s appeal is expected to be taken up by the Senate Finance Committee and its chairman, Senator Ron Wyden (R-Ore.).

“The financial links between the Saudi royal family and the Trump family raise very serious issues, and when you factor in Jared Kushner’s financial interests, you are looking right at the cat’s cradle of financial entanglements,” The Post quoted Wyden as saying last week.

In an interview on Tuesday, Raskin said that, while he still hoped Comer would cooperate, “we will definitely work with our partners in the Senate to get all of the information we need in order to conduct a thorough and detailed investigation of all of the conflicts of interest that we need to learn about.”

Raskin added he was “not going to allow this to be some kind of lopsided partisan witch hunt. Let’s have a serious investigation into public policy and the profound ethical concerns that have been raised.”

Read next: Jared Kushner Eyes Middle East for Backers on New Fund

A symbiotic relationship: Kushner and MBS

As President Donald Trump’s senior advisor, Kushner worked closely with MBS, who rose to the position of the crown prince in part due to his ties to the Trump administration, which offered arms sales and other perks.

Trump also supplied key assistance by refusing to confirm the CIA’s conclusion that Mohammed ordered the execution or capture of Jamal Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post who had been critical of the crown prince’s policies. Trump has claimed to have “saved” MBS, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated in his recent memoir that Trump instructed him to meet the crown prince and “tell him he owes us.”

LIV Golf, which holds tournaments on Trump’s golf clubs, has also received funding from the Saudi Public Investment Fund. It’s unknown how much Trump made from the deal. A request for a response from a Trump official was not immediately returned, as per media reports.

Addressing Kushner in his letter, Raskin wrote, “Your efforts to protect the Crown Prince may have allowed him to maintain his position at the top of the Saudi government and, thus, his ability to deliver significant financial benefits to you and your father-in-law after the end of the Trump Administration.”

When the committee approached Kushner’s company in June, it answered that it had “nothing to hide” and was “committed to collaborating with the Committee to provide appropriate data, documents, and information to further inform your investigation.”

Raskin stated that while Affinity ultimately submitted some records, it “failed to disclose a single correspondence connected to the basis for your firm’s acceptance of $2 billion from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.”

The congressman requested that the papers be delivered by March 1.

Read next: Kushner “pleased” Riyadh allowed him to invest in “Israel”

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Jordan’s Game of Thrones: Power struggle of the Hashemite family

February 14 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

The Jordanian monarchy is facing an uncertain future due to internal conflicts over which Queen’s son will succeed to the throne. Amid ongoing public protests against corruption and economic decline, this royal power struggle could have regional geopolitical implications.

By Firas Al-Shoufi

Recent protests in Jordan have highlighted the country’s political and economic instability, fueled in part by rising prices and deteriorating living conditions. Once a vital regional mediator, the absence of a significant role for Jordan in its neighborhood – and its utter dependence on foreign handouts – has also contributed to this unrest.

This public unrest also conceals an ongoing struggle over power and wealth within the Hashemite royal family. The competition is not limited to King Abdullah II and his half brother, former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, but also includes Queen Rania, mother of current Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, and former Queen Noor Al-Hussein, mother of Prince Hamzah.

The failed coup

On 3 April, 2021, Jordanian authorities made the stunning announcement that they had foiled an attempted coup, and accused Prince Hamzah of conspiring against the kingdom, alongside a group of high-ranking figures. Among those implicated was Bassem Awadallah, a former chief of the royal court and finance minister who, until his arrest, was a close associate of King Abdullah II and one of the most prominent financial advisers to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

Awadallah – who has reportedly gone on a hunger strike this week – and Hassan bin Zaid, the king’s special envoy to Saudi Arabia, were subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison after being charged with “incitement against the ruling system” and “sedition.”

While the charge sheet acknowledged Prince Hamzah’s direct involvement in the plot, he himself was not on trial. Instead, King Abdullah chose to handle the matter within the confines of the royal family, placing his half-brother under house arrest and limiting his movements and communications.

The conflict between the two brothers is not new and has its roots in the appointment of Abdullah II as crown prince by their father King Hussein, who deposed his brother Hassan bin Talal while on his deathbed. The country’s 1951 constitution stipulates that a monarch’s sons should be the succeeding king and crown prince, with Abdullah expected to appoint his brother Hamzah as his successor.

Hamzah, the true heir

One former Jordanian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed to The Cradle that:

“Abdullah pledged to his late father in 1998 not only to appoint Hamzah as crown prince, but also to hand over power to him after five years, which Abdullah did not abide by. Instead, he relieved Hamzah of his duties on November 28, 2004, and the line of succession moved automatically to Abdullah’s eldest son, Prince Hussein. In July 2009, Abdullah affirmed this change by officially naming Hussein crown prince.”

According to the diplomat, King Hussein was grooming Hamzah for succession while Abdullah was not yet in a position of power and had difficulty speaking Arabic. The late king had appointed Samih al Batikhi, his national security advisor, to oversee the transfer of power, but Abdullah removed him from power and had him imprisoned on corruption charges in 2003.

A veteran journalist based in Amman suggests that Abdullah was simply not willing to hand over the kingship to Hamzah five years after their father’s death:

“Maybe King Hussein would have preferred Hamzah to succeed him, but Abdullah was not about to give up power at a delicate moment for Jordan and the region, after the occupation of Iraq and the death of Yasser Arafat, not to mention that he was receiving American support.”

Abdications and dispossessions

In his struggle against Hamzah, Abdullah has resorted to accusing him of insanity and of “conspiring with an external party,” without elaboration. Rumors have circulated in the country about MbS’s alleged support for Hamzah’s failed coup, but these allegations lack evidence and were countered by Saudi Arabia’s declaration of support for King Abdullah.

The Hashemite family has a history of conspiracies, deceptions, conflicts, and external interference during the transfer of the throne from Abdullah I to Al-Hussein, and then to Abdullah II. Prince Talal bin Abdullah I, the father of Hussein, faced the same charge of insanity and was overthrown in 1952 with the support of the British.

The strong man in the regime at that time, Sharif Nasser bin Jamil (brother of Queen Zain, Hussein’s mother) played a major role in King Hussein’s ascension to the throne. Later, Hussein sought to depose his brother Crown Prince Hassan in favor of Abdullah, using the constitutional right for a son to succeed the monarch, but Hassan bowed out gracefully and submitted his own resignation.

Although Hamzah has distanced himself from the public eye and relinquished his title of prince in the spring of 2022, King Abdullah II is still concerned about his brother’s strong influence among various Jordanian clans, such as Al-Huwaitat, Bani Sakhr, Bani Hassan, and others.

Rampant corruption

The former crown prince enjoys a good reputation among these groups, untainted by corruption, while the king’s image is being tarnished by the worsening economic crisis and the financial scandals surrounding his personal wealth – estimated at over $500 million as revealed in the “Pandora Papers.” As the aforementioned diplomatic source says:

“Corruption has always existed in Jordan. During the reign of King Hussein, commissions were deducted from foreign deals. Today, news has been circulating about huge deposits owned by the king abroad, and about transferring ownership of state lands to his personal account.”

The journalist in Amman highlights the scandal of the British Tornado planes, where the price of the planes and King Hussein’s commission were alleged to have been paid from the money of the Persian Gulf monarchies. But the deal was halted after the scandal was exposed. He notes that “today, in the absence of Gulf money and external support, any waste or corruption will be at the expense of the Jordanian treasury.”

According to The Observer on 19 March, 1989, the share of the king and the intermediaries in the £800 million deal for Jordan to acquire eight Tornado fighters was reportedly up to 30 percent.

The rivalry of Queens

The journalist believes that the main reason for the conflict between King Abdullah II and former Queen Noor – Hamzah’s mother – is her control of King Hussein’s estate outside Jordan: “We are talking here about $1.4 billion worth of funds and property around the world controlled by Queen Noor.”

A parallel power struggle between Queen Rania and former Queen Noor is playing out in tandem with the battle over the royal estate: Both are vying to secure the succession of their respective sons to the Jordanian throne.

Queen Rania is leveraging her position as the current queen to pave the way for her son, Hussein II, to ascend to power, while Noor is seeking to exploit her ties to the US Democratic Party as a counterweight to King Abdullah’s close relationship with the Pentagon.

The accession of either Prince Hussein or Prince Hamzah to the throne would have far-reaching implications for the structure of royal rule in Jordan. Since Queen Rania is of Palestinian origin, some east Jordanians fear that if Hussein bin Abdullah takes the throne, it could result in the end of Hashemite rule in favor of Palestinians, and the realization of the “alternative Palestinian homeland” project – a notion that has long been used by the Hashemite family to maintain the loyalty of Jordanian clans.

The 1987 disengagement between Jordan and the West Bank lacks legal validity since the Jordanian constitution still recognizes the West Bank as part of Jordanian territory. In a June 2022 article on Al-Arabiya, Saudi journalist Ali al-Shihabi proposed the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Jordan and the establishment of a kingdom for Palestinians and Jordanians.

The article which received strong online criticism, serves as an important indicator of Jordan’s potential future amid ongoing international and regional efforts to find a palatable “solution” to the Palestinian conflict and achieve full normalization with Israel – at the expense of both the Palestinians and Jordanians.

The future of Jordan’s monarchy

However, the question remains as to whether Hamzah was genuinely preparing to stage a royal coup. As the diplomat tells The Cradle:

“There is no strong evidence that Hamzah was preparing for a successful coup. Most likely, he wanted to shake the ground under Abdullah’s feet, so that the Americans would be convinced that the king could not achieve stability in Jordan, and they would start searching for alternatives that would ensure the regime would continue to play the roles required of it.”

Regardless of Hamzah’s intentions, the challenge for King Abdullah is significant. Hamzah’s strong popular support and ambition to rule, as well as the potential for Queen Rania to seek an early ascension to the throne for their son Hussein, add to his pressure. Additionally, there are concerns that the assimilation of Palestinians into the Jordanian state as an “alternative homeland” could lead to the demise of Hashemite rule.

Despite recent achievements by King Abdullah, such as the approval of increased US military aid to Jordan and the F-16 Block 70 fighter jet deal, corruption remains a root cause of danger for the country in the medium and long term.

Jordan’s government is still funding the corruption necessary to satisfy decision-making circles, and faces a debt estimated at $41 billion. Furthermore, it has not learned from the mistakes of the failed Egyptian administrative capital project, recently announcing a new capital project for Jordan at a cost of $11.5 billion. This only serves to increase corruption and popular anger, further strengthening the arguments of the king’s opponents.

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

هل يجرؤ العرب على كسر حصار سوريا؟

  الأربعاء 8 شباط 2023

ابراهيم الأمين

عند وقوع أزمات كبرى، يظهر الحجم الفعلي لبلد كلبنان. حتى لقاء باريس الخماسي، أول من أمس، الذي كان مخصصاً لمناقشة الملف اللبناني، تحوّل في جانب منه إلى البحث في التطورات العاجلة في المنطقة جرّاء الزلزال المدمّر الذي ضرب سوريا وتركيا فجر الاثنين، بعدما أظهرت عمليات الإنقاذ هول الكارثة. تركيا، الدولة التي يتعامل معها العالم كقوة إقليمية كبرى، تحتاج أمام هذه المأساة إلى المساعدات التي تتدفق عليها، فيما يعي العالم جيداً أن سوريا المنهكة والمحاصرة أكثر احتياجاً إلى دعم شامل ومستدام.

في لبنان، لم يكن متوقعاً من مسؤولين لا يهتمون لأحوال شعبهم أن يبادروا إلى خطوات نوعية تجاه الشعب السوري. فهؤلاء، كالعادة، يعملون تحت الضغط الخارجي، الأميركي تحديداً. وليس متوقعاً ممن لم يخض معركة الحصول على استثناء من العقوبات الأميركية لاستجرار الغاز المصري أو يجرؤ على قبول هبة إيرانية غير مشروطة، أن يبادر إلى خطوات واضحة لمساندة بلد شقيق، قدم الكثير لنا إنسانياً وسياسياً.

الجاحدون والفاشيون فقط هم من يسيّسون أي خطوة إزاء كارثة إنسانية كالتي أصابت الشعب السوري. هؤلاء، ممن يعيشون بيننا أو ينتشرون في العالم، لا يمكن إلا احتقار من يتحدث منهم عن نظام وشعب وعن موالاة ومعارضة، عندما يقارب مسألة الدعم الذي تحتاجه سوريا في هذه المحنة.
احتاجت حكومة الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي إلى صوت مرتفع حتى تقوّي «ركابها» وتقرر إرسال وفود أو مساعدات، علماً أن لهذا الأمر رمزيته. فيما القرار الذي يمكن أن يتخذه لبنان، ويشكّل فارقاً بالفعل، هو فتح المعابر اللبنانية أمام كل أشكال الدعم المتوجهة صوب سوريا، ورفض الإذعان لكل أنواع الضغط والترهيب والعقوبات التي يرفعها الغرب الأميركي – الأوروبي. مثل هذه الخطوة من شأنها المساعدة على تسهيل تقديم مساعدات كبيرة لسوريا، من قبل أشخاص أو جهات أو مؤسسات لا تريد الخضوع للعقوبات الأميركية، ومستعدة لتقديم الدعم عبر لبنان.

عربياً، يبدو أن تطوراً ما حصل، تمظهر في الحركة السياسية التي بدأها رئيس دولة الإمارات محمد بن زايد، بإبلاغه الجانب الأميركي قراره إرسال مساعدات مباشرة عبر مطار دمشق، قبل أن يتبعه قرار ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان إطلاق حملة تبرعات يذهب قسم منها إلى سوريا، إضافة إلى برنامج دعم من الحكومة السعودية نفسها.

وبحسب المعطيات، يناقش بن زايد مع الجانب الفرنسي المبادرة إلى استعادة التواصل مع سوريا من الباب الإنساني تمهيداً لما هو أكثر. وهو أثار ذلك في اتصال مع الرئيس إيمانويل ماكرون، ونُقل أن الأخير لم يرفض الفكرة من حيث المبدأ، وهو وإن حاول إعطاء الأمر بعده الأخلاقي والإنساني، إلا أن القرار النهائي يبقى رهن أمور كثيرة، تبدأ بالموقف الأميركي ولا تنتهي عند صقور الفاشيين في الإدارة الفرنسية. فيما المهم الآن مراقبة نشاط عواصم عربية كالجزائر والقاهرة وأبو ظبي والرياض، للبحث في إمكانية اختراق الجمود بما خص الملف السوري عبر مدخل المساعدات الإنسانية لمواجهة أعباء الكارثة، وفتح الباب أمام مراجعة تعيد ربط سوريا بالعالم العربي بشكل طبيعي، وإنهاء القطيعة التي قامت من قبل متآمرين دمروا سوريا وهجروا أهلها.

مساع عربية لإقناع فرنسا بتغيير موقفها وفتح الأبواب أمام مساعدة سوريا من دون شروط

طبعاً، لا يجب توقع الكثير من النتائج. لكن من المهم أن يتصرف العرب بقليل من الشهامة والأخلاق الإنسانية. ومن يعتقد أنه يمكن ترك سوريا تموت بعد كل ما أصابها، يقوم بفعل سياسي واضح ينم عن حقارة غير مسبوقة. فيما الأبواب مفتوحة اليوم أمام من دعموا مؤامرة تدمير سوريا للتصرف بمسؤولية ولو من الباب الإنساني. والتحدي نفسه يواجه دولاً قادرة مادياً مثل قطر، إضافة إلى عواصم غربية لا يمكنها الاختباء خلف مليون يورو قرّرت ألمانيا دفعها للمتضررين من الزلزال أو قدر هزيل من المساعدات قدمتها فرنسا عبر منظمة أطباء بلا حدود. بينما تشير معطيات واردة من العاصمة الفرنسية إلى أن عملاء الغرب من المعارضين السوريين يحذرون السلطات الأوروبية من تقديم الدعم إلى مناطق تقع تحت سيطرة النظام، ويطالبون بإحياء «الخوذات البيض» التي لا تعدو كونها مجموعة من المرتزقة تعمل لدى الاستخبارات الغربية وتمدها بمعطيات ذات طابع أمني، أو عبر منظمات غير حكومية أقامها أرباب المعارضة السورية ويعيشون على حسابها.

ولعل من «حسنات» الكارثة أنها كشفت المزيد من العنصرية التي تتحكّم بالغرب تجاه منطقتنا كلها، وليس سوريا فقط، وبما يتخطى كل الحدود، إلى درجة نشر صحيفة «شارلي إيبدو» الفرنسية رسماً كاريكاتورياً للدمار في تركيا، مع تعليق: «لسنا بحاجة حتى إلى إرسال دبابة»، ما يعبّر عما يتمناه هؤلاء لكل الدول العربية والإسلامية والفقيرة في العالم، وعن عقلية فاشية واستعمارية لا تفارق أذهان هؤلاء ومخيلاتهم.

وإذا كان أحد يتوهّم باستخدام الكارثة لابتزاز الدولة السورية من أجل تقديم تنازلات سياسية مقابل الدعم، فإن الأخبار الواردة من دمشق تؤكد أن على من ينتظرون من الرئيس بشار الأسد أن يخرج إلى المنابر مستجدياً أو ليتلو فعل الندامة، استعادة سنوات انتظار استسلام الأسد يوم وصل مرتزقتهم إلى مشارف دمشق!

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Rate of Executions in Saudi Arabia Almost Doubles Under MBS

February 02 2023

By Staff, Agencies

The rate of executions carried out by Saudi Arabia has almost doubled under the rule of the de facto leader, Mohammed bin Salman [MBS], with the past six years being among the bloodiest in the Kingdom’s modern history, a report has found.

Rates of capital punishment are at historically high levels, despite a push to modernize with widespread reforms and a semblance of individual liberties. Activist groups say the price of change has been high, with a total crackdown on the crown prince’s political opponents and zero tolerance for dissent.

Pledges by MBS – who has consolidated extraordinary powers across the Kingdom’s business spheres, industrialists and elite families – to curb executions have not been kept, the new data shows, with each of the six years that he has led the country resulting in more state-sanctioned deaths than any other year in recent history.

Between 2015 and 2022, an average of 129 executions were carried out each year. The figure represents an 82% increase on the period 2010-14. Last year, 147 people were executed – 90 of them for crimes that were considered to be nonviolent.

On 12 March last year, up to 81 men were put to death – an all-time high number of executions, in what activists believe was a pointed message from the Saudi leadership to dissenters, among them tribal groups in the country’s eastern provinces.

The report – prepared by two organizations, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights and Reprieve – says: “Saudi Arabia’s application of the death penalty is riddled with discrimination and injustice and the Saudi regime has been lying to the international community about its use.

“The death penalty is routinely used for non-lethal offences and to silence dissidents and protesters, despite promises by the crown prince that executions would only be used for murder,” it added. “Fair trial violations and torture are endemic in death penalty cases, including torture of child defendants.”

The kingdom is considered one of the leading exponents of capital punishment in the region, with only Iran thought to execute more people a year. In the last six years there have also been slight increases in numbers of executions of children, women and foreign nationals, as well as mass executions and executions for non-lethal offences. A moratorium on capital punishment for drug crimes was recently lifted.

Prince Mohammed has introduced extensive reforms across Saudi workplaces and society, giving women more access to gainful employment and changing social norms that had, for the four decades that followed the Islamic revolution in Iran, kept genders strictly segregated and enforced an ultra-hardline interpretation of Islam.

But while there was already little room for dissent under the Kingdom’s absolute monarchy, Prince Mohammed has taken intolerance to new levels, with political and business rivals subject to mass detention and financial shakedowns, and family members of officials that have fled the country being detained for use as leverage to get them back to the kingdom.

The death penalty is seen as one of the new regime’s more visceral tools.

“It’s literally a sword that hangs over all of us, anyone who dares to defy him,” said one Saudi royal in exile in Europe. “It’s either that, or being disappeared. Think Gaddafi. Think Saddam. That’s where we are now.”

Saudi insulting campaign to Palestine because of the Asian Cup

Saudi Crown Prince Defies the US Policy against Syria


In November 2022, Saudi Arabia formally changed its stance on Syria. Saudi Arabia is the political powerhouse of the Middle East, and often shares positions on foreign policy and international issues with the UAE, which has previously re-opened their embassy in Damascus.

“The kingdom is keen to maintain Syria’s security and stability and supports all efforts aimed at finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told the November Arab League summit in Algeria.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 following the outbreak of conflict instigated by the US, and portrayed in western media as a popular uprising of pro-democracy protesters.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said, “The developments in Syria still require a pioneering Arab effort. It is necessary to show flexibility from all parties so that the economic collapse and political blockage can be dispelled. Syria must engage in its natural Arab environment.”

The next Arab League summit will be held in Saudi Arabia, and there is a possibility of Syria once again taking its seat at the round table.

On January 16, the Syrian Foreign Ministry agreed to resume imports from Saudi Arabia after over a decade of strained relations, and Syria planned to import 10,000 tons of white sugar. This development signals a new beginning between the two countries.

Saudi and the Syrian tribes

The Arab tribes in the north east of Syria have traditionally had strong ties with Saudi Arabia, and have received support from the kingdom. The tribes have opposed the ethnic cleansing and forced displacement of Arab villages which the US-led YPG militia has conducted for years. Even though Saudi Arabia has been viewed as a US ally in the past, this has changed since the US military has supported the Marxist YPG who have oppressed Syrians who are not Kurdish.

The US occupied oil wells in north east Syria may come under attack by Arab tribes who are demanding their homes, farms and businesses back from the US-supported YPG.  Some analysts foresee the US troops pulling out of Syria after the Kurds find a political solution with Damascus.

Turkey and Syria repair relationship

Turkey and Syria have begun steps to repair their relationship, which ended after Turkey supported the US-NATO attack on Syria for regime change, and hosted the CIA operations room funneling weapons and terrorists into Syria, under the Obama administration.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad demanded recently the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria to begin to repair the relationship.

Russia is brokering the reconciliation between Erdogan and Assad, which began with the Moscow hosted meeting of the three defense ministers, and a meeting between the three foreign ministers is upcoming.

The developments between Turkey and Syria are being watched by Iran. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said his country was “happy with the dialogue taking place between Syria and Turkey.” Amirabdollahian will travel to Damascus on Saturday for talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Mekdad.

Iran is looking to establish a new role in the recovery process in Syria. President Ebrahim Raisi will visit both Turkey and Syria soon, his first visit to Turkey since taking office two years ago.  While analysts see Saudi Arabia and Iran as antagonists, some feel the kingdom will ultimately realize they have to work with Iran in Syria and Lebanon.  Iran is part of the region and can’t be excluded from the geo-political sphere.

Saudi Arabian reforms 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said on April 27, 2021 that the country was undergoing a sweeping reform which would restructure the role of religion in Saudi politics and society.  The process began a few years before he became crown prince, but under his leadership it has accelerated. Islamic institutions in the Kingdom have seen changes in procedure, personnel, and jurisdiction.  All of these reforms are in line with the future vision of the country.

Some analysts feel the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1960s eventually gave rise to support for domestic religious institutions, and eventually led to funding of religious activities abroad, while religious leaders at home wielded power over public policy.

Vision 2030

Saudi King Salman, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and his son, MBS have a plan for the country which is known as Vision 2030.  MBS is also Prime Minister and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.

The days of unlimited oil and markets are in the decline. Education, training, and employment opportunities are the stepping stones to building a thriving country and MBS is determined to plan for a long future of growth and innovation.


The Crown Prince is young and has new ideas.  He is instituting sweeping reforms to the society which have included more rights and freedoms for women. He has championed projects to place Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination, year round golf and soccer venue, and encouraged cultural arts such as musical productions. MBS is breaking the mold: no longer will Saudi Arabia be a breeding ground for Radical Islam.

Extremist preachers

Saudi Arabia had hosted many extremist preachers.  Some were featured on satellite TV channels located in Saudi Arabia, and others were local preachers, authors, or scholars.  Some had traveled abroad preaching in pulpits and exporting their hatred and sectarian bigotry.

One of the most famous preachers was Muhammed Al-Arifi, who has had an electronic surveillance device attached to him by Saudi intelligence agents, after they seized all of his social media accounts. His last tweet is said to be on May 6, 2019, when he had 20 million followers, and 24 million likes on Facebook, which ranked him as tenth in the Arab world and in the Middle East. The kingdom is shutting down clerics who are extreme.

In 2014, Great Britain banned Arifi from entering the UK following reports that was involved in radicalizing three young British citizens who went to Syria as terrorists.

A YouTube video in 2013 showed Arifi preaching in Egypt and prophesying the coming of the Islamic State.  Egyptian TV reported Arifi meeting with the former Muslim Brotherhood prime minister Hisham Qandil in his office.

Arifi is best remembered for his statement on the media Al Jazeera in which he called for jihad in Syria and supported Al Qaeda.

Adnan al-Arour is another extremist preacher who had appeared regularly on two Saudi-owned Salafist satellite channels. Arour was originally from Syria before settling in Saudi Arabia, and in the early days of the Syrian conflict he would stand up on camera, shake his finger, and called for his followers to ‘grind the flesh’ of an Islamic minority sect in Syria and ‘feed it to the dogs’.

These extremist preachers made it clear that the battles being waged in Syria had nothing to do with freedom or democracy, which the western media was pushing as the goal.  The truth was the conflict in Syria was a US-NATO attack for regime change and utilized terrorists following Radical Islam, who fought a sectarian war with the goal of establishing an Islamic State in Syria.

The previous Crown Prince

Muhammad bin Nayef Al Saud (MBN) served as the crown prince and first deputy prime minister of Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2017.  On June 21, 2017 King Salman appointed his own son, MBS, as crown prince and relieved MBN of all positions.

MBN met with British Prime Minister David Cameron in January 2013. He then met with President Obama in Washington, on 14 January 2013. The discussion focused on the US-NATO attack on Syria and its support from Saudi Arabia.

In February 2014, MBN replaced Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then intelligence chief of Saudi Arabia, and was placed in charge of Saudi intelligence in Syria. Bandar had been in charge of supporting the US attack on Syria. Bandar had been trying to convince the US in 2012 that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons.  However, research has shown that the terrorists used chemical weapons to push Obama into a military invasion, based on his speech of ‘The Red Line’.

In March 2016, MBN was awarded Légion d’honneur by French President François Hollande, another partner in the US-NATO attack on Syria.

On February 10, 2017, the CIA granted its highest Medal to MBN and was handed to him by CIA director Mike Pompeo during a reception ceremony in Riyadh. MBN and Pompeo discussed Syria with Turkish officials, and said Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the US was “historic and strategic”.  Just months later in June MBS would depose MBN and strip him of powers, in a move considered to be “upending decades of royal custom and profoundly reordering the kingdom’s inner power structure”.

US diplomats argued that MBN was “the most pro-American minister in the Saudi Cabinet”. That is what brought MBN down. The days of blindly following the US directives are over in Saudi Arabia.  MBS has refused to bow down to Biden when he demanded an increase in oil production.  The Vision 2030 that MBS developed does not include financing failed wars in the Middle East for the benefit of the Oval Office. MBS has a strained relationship with Biden, and he wears it as a badge of honor.

Saudi role in the Syrian war

Saudi Arabia played a huge role in the large-scale supply of weapons and ammunition to various terrorist groups in Syria during the Syrian conflict.  Weapons purchased in Croatia were funneled through Jordan to the border town of Deraa, the epi-center of the Syrian conflict.

At the height of Saudi involvement in Syria, the kingdom had their own militia in Syria under the command of Zahran Alloush. The Jaysh al-Islam are remembered for parading women in cages through the Damascus countryside prior to massacring them.

In summer 2017, US President Donald Trump shut down the CIA operation ‘Timber Sycamore’ which had been arming the terrorists fighting in Syria. About the same time, Saudi Arabia cut off support to the Syrian opposition, which was the political arm of the terrorists.

Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, expressed his view at the time that “Saudi Arabia is involved in the ISIS-led Sunni rebellion” in Syria.

Syria has been destroyed by the US and their allies who supported the attack beginning in 2011.  Now, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are looking to find a solution which will help the Syrian people to rebuild their lives.  Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have turned away from past policies which found them supporting the conflict in Syria at the behest of the US.  There is a new Middle East emerging which makes its own policies and is not subservient US interests.

Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist

What prompted the urgent, secretive summit in Abu Dhabi?

January 20 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Key Arab heads of state convened this week for an emergency meeting that excluded the Saudis and Kuwaitis. The likely hot topics under discussion were Egypt’s economic collapse and Israel’s aggressive escalations.

By Abdel Bari Atwan

On 18 January, the United Arab Emirates hastily arranged a consultative summit in Abu Dhabi, which included the leaders of four member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Heads of state of the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE attended the urgent summit, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The absence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and either Kuwaiti Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad or his Crown Prince Mishaal al-Ahmad was noted with some surprise. No official statements or press leaks have yet emerged to explain the omission of the two GCC leaders or their high-level representatives from the urgent consultations.

This surprise summit came on the heels of a tripartite meeting in Cairo on 17 January, which included President Sisi, King Abdullah, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Directly afterward, the Jordanian monarch flew to Abu Dhabi carrying a message for Emirati Emir Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) that prompted him to immediately convene a summit the next day.

What was so urgent to necessitate an emergency meeting of Arab leaders? Why did the top Saudi and Kuwait leaders give the  summit a miss? There are several possibilities behind this swift convening of key Arab leaders in Abu Dhabi.

First, is the rapid deterioration of Egypt’s economy after the decline of the Egyptian pound to its lowest levels in history (32 pounds to the US dollar). Spiraling inflation rates, harsh conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – most notably the floating of the national currency and a heavy reduction of private contracting and trade companies affiliated with the Egyptian army – have added sharply to the economy’s downward turn.

There are reports that the IMF has asked GCC countries to provide $40 billion in immediate aid to Egypt, otherwise the state’s collapse is imminent and inevitable.

Second, are the dangerous policies currently under consideration by the right-wing government of Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These include, most notably, threats to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the practical abolition of Jordan’s Hashemite Custodianship over Jerusalem, the illegal annexation of the West Bank, and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of its Palestinian residents to Jordan.

Third, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, warned his neighbors a few days ago on Twitter of an imminent US-Israeli aggression against Iran that could fundamentally shake the security and stability of the Gulf.

The risk of economic collapse facing Egypt was perhaps the most important and urgent factor on the summit agenda. Financial assistance from the Gulf – once a reliable source of emergency aid – has completely stopped. Even if it continues, funds will no longer arrive in the form of non-refundable grants and unconditional deposits, as in years past.

That approach to funding has changed as Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed bin Jadaan made clear in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 18 January. In previous statements, Egypt’s President Sisi has confirmed his country’s financial woes by revealing that Gulf states have stopped their aid completely.

The absence of the Emir of Kuwait from the consultative summit may be understandable in this context – if, in fact, Egypt’s economy was the top of the summit’s agenda. The Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament) has adopted a decision to prevent his government from providing a single dollar in aid to Egypt.

Gulf states have provided Egypt with $92 billion since the ‘Arab Uprisings’ began to tear through the region in January 2011.

Currently, Kuwait’s own internal governmental crisis, in addition to the deterioration of its relationship with Cairo over its deportation of Egyptian workers, can explain the emir’s absence. What is not understood so far, is why Saudi’s MbS was a no-show in Abu Dhabi.

While Emirati leader MbZ’s warm and friendly reception of his Qatari counterpart Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani raised hopes of easing bilateral tensions, news leaks suggested that Saudi-Emirati relations are in their own state of crisis – based on growing differences over the Yemeni war and other regional issues. Perhaps this crisis is what led to a thaw in Qatari-Emirati relations.

In addition, Egyptian-Saudi relations have collapsed to an state unprecedented for years. A report last month by US media outlet Axios revealed that Egyptian authorities have halted practical procedures in their transfer of the strategic Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi sovereignty. Egyptian official media has also launched a fierce attack on the Saudi-owned “MBC Egypt” channel and its presenter Amr Adib, accusing him of working for the Saudis amid fears the station will stop broadcasting from Egypt.

Besides the economic aspects, the differences, squabbles, and fluctuating relations between the countries of this axis, there are other issues of significant gravity that may have been addressed at the Abu Dhabi summit.

A key topic may have been the ambitions of Netanyahu’s unprecedentedly right-wing Israeli government – notably its prevention of Jordan’s ambassador from visiting Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a first step to abolish the Hashemite Custodianship over the ancient city.

While the failure to invite Palestinian President Abbas to the Abu Dhabi summit (there is an Emirati veto against it) may suggest otherwise, Jordan – currently under US and Israeli pressure to participate in the second Negev summit in Morocco – and its monarch may have pressed this issue in Abu Dhabi.

Gulf states that have normalized relations or opened communications with Israel would have been asked to use their influence to de-escalate these pressures. The ramifications of continued Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem and the West Bank are a direct threat to Jordan’s security and stability.

Interestingly, all the states represented at the Abu Dhabi summit – with the exception of the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar – have signed normalization agreements with Israel. The absent Saudis and Kuwaitis, have notably not yet joined that club.

Details of the Abu Dhabi emergency summit of heads of states have not yet emerged, but the days ahead could provide some answers. Will billions flow to Egypt to extract the country from its financial crisis? Or will the Arab House remain the same? We will have to wait to see.

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

رسائل «حازمة» من الحوثي… وجهوزية عـسكرية معلَنة | ابن سلمان لـ«أنصار الله»: خذوا اليمن وأعطونا ضمانات أمنية

الجمعة 6 كانون الثاني 2023

الكُرة الآن في الملعب السعودي؛ إذ تعتقد صنعاء أن بن سلمان، يمتلك الإجابة عن الكثير من التساؤلات (أ ف

حمزة الخنسا  

لا تزال الأوضاع في اليمن تُراوح في خانة اللاسلم واللاحرب، وهي الحالة التي أعلنت صنعاء أخيراً، وبشكل واضح ومكرَّر، عدم قبولها بأن تصبح أمراً واقعاً، متعهّدةً بوضع حدّ سريع لها، من شأنه أن يَحسم وجهة الأمور: إمّا إلى السلام الذي يلبّي شروطها، أو الحرب التي تُمكّنها من فرْض هذه الشروط. وفي ظلّ تلك المراوحة، تصاعدت نبرة «أنصار الله» المهدِّدة بإعادة إشعال الجبهات، وجاء تصريح رئيس «المجلس السياسي الأعلى»، مهدي المشاط، الذي قال من جبهة البرح في تعز: «نحن ننتظر عودة الحرب في أيّ وقت، وجاهزون لها»، كذروة الرسائل المندرجة في هذا السياق. وبالتوازي، لم تتوقّف سلطنة عُمان عن بذل الجهود في سبيل إيجاد حلّ يرضي جميع الأطراف.

وفيما لا يزال «الستاتيكو» يَحكم المشهد، حيث يسير خيارا التصعيد العسكري والتسوية السلمية بوتيرة متشابهة من السرعة وتشكُّل الظروف المناسبة لكلَيهما، تحرص قيادة «أنصار الله» على التأكيد أنها لن تَقبل بالمزيد من المرواغة وكسْب الوقت «على حساب حقوق الشعب اليمني ومعاناته». ولكي لا يتحوّل التهديد باستئناف القتال إلى «لازمة» متكرّرة من دون تطبيق عملي، بما يساعد واشنطن والرياض على ترتيب استنتاجات من قَبيل أن صنعاء غير قادرة على تنفيذ ما تتوعّد به، أتت رسائل قائد الحركة، السيّد عبد الملك الحوثي، خلال لقائه الوفد العُماني الذي زار صنعاء أخيراً، حاسمة وواضحة حيث قال لضيوفه: «لن يجوع الشعب اليمني بعد الآن»، مؤكداً«أننا سنستخدم كلّ ما لدينا من إمكانات لرفع الحصار عن الشعب اليمني، والاستفادة من موارده وثرواته».

وفي هذا الإطار، تقول مصادر معنيّة في صنعاء، في حديث إلى «الأخبار»، إنه بالتوازي مع رسائل الحوثي الواضحة المَرامي، أُعطيت القوى العسكرية المعنيّة الإشارة للجهوزية الكاملة، كاشفةً أن «بعض التحرّكات في سياق هذه الجهوزية، تمّ إظهارها عمداً حتى تُرصد من قِبَل العدو، ويَعرف الأخير أننا جدّيون، وأننا لا نطلق تهديدات جوفاء». وتؤكّد المصادر ذاتها أنه في هذه المرّة، إنْ لم تكن هناك استجابة مُرضية لـ«المطالب الإنسانية»، واتّجهت الأمور بنتيجة ذلك صوْب التصعيد، فإن المعركة ستكون نوعية وستشمل كلّ الساحات، بما فيها البحر الأحمر، وباب المندب، و«أرامكو» في العمق السعودي، فضلاً عن العمق الإماراتي. وبما أن الوقت بدأ ينفد، في ظلّ تأكيد «أنصار الله» أنها لن تنتظر الحلّ إلى ما لا نهاية، فقد سُجّلت أربع خطوات يمكن وضعها في إطار «الاستعدادات الأخيرة» قبل الضغط على الزناد، وهي:

– إتمام الجهوزية العسكرية اللازمة.
– الموقف السياسي الحاسم الذي أعلنته القيادة السياسية لـ«أنصار الله».
– زيارات القائد الأعلى للقوات المسلحة، رئيس «المجلس السياسي الأعلى» مهدي المشاط، إلى الجبهات العسكرية.
– الخروج الجماهيري الكبير في العاصمة صنعاء والمحافظات، المنتظَر اليوم الجمعة، في مسيرات أُطلق عليها شعار «الحصار حرب»، ما يعني إضفاء الشرعية الشعبية على أيّ تصعيد في المستقبل.

الكُرة الآن في الملعب السعودي؛ إذ تعتقد صنعاء أن ولي العهد، محمد بن سلمان، يمتلك الإجابة عن الكثير من التساؤلات. فالمملكة اليوم، وبعد نجاح جارتها الصغرى قطر في تنظيم «المونديال»، والذي ينضمّ إلى النموذج «الناجح» والمُنافس الذي تقدّمه جارتها الأخرى، وشريكتها في العدوان، الإمارات، على مستوى الاقتصاد والتجارة العالمية، تَعزّزت قناعتها بأن «حربها» هي «حرب موارد واقتصاد». وهو ما كان جلّاه مثلاً حديث وزير الطاقة، عبد العزيز بن سلمان، في تشرين الأوّل الماضي، على هامش إحدى فعاليات «الاستراتيجية الوطنية للصناعة» التي أطلقها ابن سلمان، عن «حسرة كبرى»، قائلاً: «لقد أضعنا 40 سنة كان باستطاعتنا أن نكون خلالها مثل الهند والصين في مجال الصناعة، ولكنّنا قرّرنا ألّا نُضيّع وقتاً آخر». على أن «يمن ما بعد العدوان» يقف عقبة كبيرة أمام تطوّر مشروع ابن سلمان لتحويل السعودية إلى مركز تجارة عالمي، فضلاً عن أن القيادات السعودية بأجمعها توصّلت إلى قناعة مفادها بأنه لم يَعُد بإمكانها تطويع اليمن، مُسلّمةً بأن هذا البلد أصبح خارج فلكها، خصوصاً في ظلّ خريطة القوى التي أنتجتها ثماني سنوات من الحرب.

وظهرت معالم تلك القناعة بوضوح أخيراً في المفاوضات الجارية بشأن تمديد الهدنة؛ إذ بحسب المصادر ذاتها، رفعت صنعاء أربعة عناوين أساسية في وجه الرياض، التي أعلنت الموافقة المبدئية عليها، على أن تخضع للتفاوض التفصيلي، وهي: رفع الحصار، وعدم التدخّل في الشؤون الداخلية اليمنية، ودفع التعويضات، والخروج من اليمن. وفي المقابل، طالبت السعودية بـ«ضمانات» بأن لا يشكّل اليمن تهديداً للسعودية وأمنها. وتَكشف المصادر أن المملكة طرحت مسألة الضمانات أمام إيران وسلطنة عُمان أيضاً، مشيرةً إلى أن «أنصار الله» أبدت الاستعداد لـ«تبديد مخاوف الرياض الأمنية إذا كان ذلك يساعدها في التوصّل إلى قرار حاسم بالالتزام بما يُتوصَّل إليه في المفاوضات حيال الحلّ الشامل والنهائي للملفّ اليمني».

يسير خيارا التصعيد العسكري والتسوية السلمية بوتيرة متشابهة من السرعة

على أنه هنا، يصبح العامل الأميركي أكثر تأثيراً على السعودية، حيث تسعى إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن بكلّ قوتها إلى إبقاء حالة اللاحرب واللاسلم هي السائدة، كونها مستفيدة من هذا الوضع أولاً، وراغبةً ثانياً في أن يبقى اليمن ورقة ابتزاز في التوتّر بينها وبين ابن سلمان. وعليه، سيكون على وليّ العهد إيجاد الحلول المناسبة لمشكلته مع إدارة بايدن، ومن ثمّ تأمين الظرف الأمثل لنجاح مخطّطاته الخاصة بمستقبل المملكة. وفي انتظار ذلك، تشي المعلومات الأخيرة الواردة من صنعاء بأن الأمور الآن قد وصلت إلى المراحل الأخيرة من التفاوض، حيث لا تفتأ الرياض تبعث بإشارات إيجابية حيال التزامها بتنفيذ الاتفاقات، خصوصاً ما يتعلّق منها بملفّ التعويضات، ولهذه الغاية منعت حكومة عدن من القيام بإجراءات اقتصادية في إطار اعتبار «أنصار الله» حركة إرهابية. وفي المقابل، تتواصل على الأرض، جنوباً وشرقاً، تحرّكات القوى والفصائل الموالية للسعودية، وتلك المدعومة من الإمارات، والتي انضمّت إليها أخيراً الجماعات المموَّلة من قطر، لتثبيت مواقعها وتقوية أوراقها وخلْق واقع جديد قد يُستفاد منه في حال وقْف الحرب أو استئنافها.

من ملف : ابن سلمان لـ«أنصار الله»: خذوا اليمن وأعطونا ضمانات أمنية

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Why BRI is back with a bang in 2023

January 06 2023

As Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative enters its 10th year, a strong Sino-Russian geostrategic partnership has revitalized the BRI across the Global South.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

The year 2022 ended with a Zoom call to end all Zoom calls: Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping discussing all aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership in an exclusive video call.

Putin told Xi how “Russia and China managed to ensure record high growth rates of mutual trade,” meaning “we will be able to reach our target of $200 billion by 2024 ahead of schedule.”

On their coordination to “form a just world order based on international law,” Putin emphasized how “we share the same views on the causes, course, and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape.”

Facing “unprecedented pressure and provocations from the west,” Putin noted how Russia-China are not only defending their own interests “but also all those who stand for a truly democratic world order and the right of countries to freely determine their own destiny.”

Earlier, Xi had announced that Beijing will hold the 3rd Belt and Road Forum in 2023. This has been confirmed, off the record, by diplomatic sources. The forum was initially designed to be bi-annual, first held in 2017 and then 2019. 2021 didn’t happen because of Covid-19.

The return of the forum signals not only a renewed drive but an extremely significant landmark as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in Astana and then Jakarta in 2013, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.

BRI version 2.0

That set the tone for 2023 across the whole geopolitical and geoeconomic spectrum. In parallel to its geoconomic breadth and reach, BRI has been conceived as China’s overarching foreign policy concept up to the mid-century. Now it’s time to tweak things. BRI 2.0 projects, along its several connectivity corridors, are bound to be re-dimensioned to adapt to the post-Covid environment, the reverberations of the war in Ukraine, and a deeply debt-distressed world.

Photo Credit: The Cradle
Map of BRI (Photo Credit: The Cradle)

And then there’s the interlocking of the connectivity drive via BRI with the connectivity drive via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC), whose main players are Russia, Iran and India.

Expanding on the geoeconomic drive of the Russia-China partnership as discussed by Putin and Xi, the fact that Russia, China, Iran and India are developing interlocking trade partnerships should establish that BRICS members Russia, India and China, plus Iran as one of the upcoming members of the expanded BRICS+, are the ‘Quad’ that really matter across Eurasia.

The new Politburo Standing Committee in Beijing, which are totally aligned with Xi’s priorities, will be keenly focused on solidifying concentric spheres of geoeconomic influence across the Global South.

How China plays ‘strategic ambiguity’

This has nothing to do with balance of power, which is a western concept that additionally does not connect with China’s five millennia of history. Neither is this another inflection of “unity of the center” – the geopolitical representation according to which no nation is able to threaten the center, China, as long as it is able to maintain order.

These cultural factors that in the past may have prevented China from accepting an alliance under the concept of parity have now vanished when it comes to the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Back in February 2022, days before the events that led to Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, Putin and Xi, in person, had announced that their partnership had “no limits” – even if they hold different approaches on how Moscow should deal with a Kiev lethally instrumentalized by the west to threaten Russia.

In a nutshell: Beijing will not “abandon” Moscow because of Ukraine – as much as it will not openly show support. The Chinese are playing their very own subtle interpretation of what Russians define as  “strategic ambiguity.”

Connectivity in West Asia

In West Asia, BRI projects will advance especially fast in Iran, as part of the 25-year deal signed between Beijing and Tehran and the definitive demise of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – or Iran nuclear deal – which will translate into no European investment in the Iranian economy.

Iran is not only a BRI partner but also a full-fledged Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member. It has clinched a free trade agreement with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), which consists of post-Soviet states Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

And Iran is, today, arguably the key interconnector of the INSTC, opening up the Indian Ocean and beyond, interconnecting not only with Russia and India but also China, Southeast Asia, and even, potentially, Europe – assuming the EU leadership will one day see which way the wind is blowing.

Map of INSTC (Photo Credit: The Cradle)

So here we have heavily US-sanctioned Iran profiting simultaneously from BRI, INSTC and the EAEU free trade deal. The three critical BRICS members – India, China, Russia – will be particularly interested in the development of the trans-Iranian transit corridor – which happens to be the shortest route between most of the EU and South and Southeast Asia, and will provide faster, cheaper transportation.

Add to this the groundbreaking planned Russia-Transcaucasia-Iran electric power corridor, which could become the definitive connectivity link capable of smashing the antagonism between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

In the Arab world, Xi has already rearranged the chessboard. Xi’s December trip to Saudi Arabia should be the diplomatic blueprint on how to rapidly establish a post-modern quid pro quo between two ancient, proud civilizations to facilitate a New Silk Road revival.

Rise of the Petro-yuan

Beijing may have lost huge export markets within the collective west – so a replacement was needed. The Arab leaders who lined up in Riyadh to meet Xi saw ten thousand sharpened (western) knives suddenly approaching and calculated it was time to strike a new balance.

That means, among other things, that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) has adopted a more multipolar agenda: no more weaponizing of Salafi-Jihadism across Eurasia, and a door wide open to the Russia-China strategic partnership. Hubris strikes hard at the heart of the Hegemon.

Credit Suisse strategist Zoltan Pozsar, in two striking successive newsletters, titled War and Commodity Encumbrance (December 27) and War and Currency Statecraft (December 29), pointed out the writing on the wall.

Pozsar fully understood what Xi meant when he said China is “ready to work with the GCC” to set up a “new paradigm of all-dimensional energy cooperation” within a timeline of “three to five years.”

China will continue to import a lot of crude, long-term, from GCC nations, and way more Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). Beijing will “strengthen our cooperation in the upstream sector, engineering services, as well as [downstream] storage, transportation, and refinery. The Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange platform will be fully utilized for RMB settlement in oil and gas trade…and we could start currency swap cooperation.”

Pozsar summed it all up, thus: “GCC oil flowing East + renminbi invoicing = the dawn of the petroyuan.”

And not only that. In parallel, the BRI gets a renewed drive, because the previous model – oil for weapons – will be replaced with oil for sustainable development (construction of factories, new job opportunities).

And that’s how BRI meets MbS’s Vision 2030.

Apart from Michael Hudson, Poszar may be the only western economic analyst who understands the global shift in power: “The multipolar world order,” he says,” is being built not by G7 heads of state but by the ‘G7 of the East’ (the BRICS heads of state), which is a G5 really.” Because of the move toward an expanded BRICS+, he took the liberty to round up the number.

And the rising global powers know how to balance their relations too. In West Asia, China is playing slightly different strands of the same BRI trade/connectivity strategy, one for Iran and another for the Persian Gulf monarchies.

China’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Iran is a 25-year deal under which China invests $400 billion into Iran’s economy in exchange for a steady supply of Iranian oil at a steep discount. While at his summit with the GCC, Xi emphasized “investments in downstream petrochemical projects, manufacturing, and infrastructure” in exchange for paying for energy in yuan.

How to play the New Great Game

BRI 2.0 was also already on a roll during a series of Southeast Asian summits in November. When Xi met with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in Bangkok, they pledged to finally connect the up-and-running China-Laos high-speed railway to the Thai railway system. This is a 600km-long project, linking Bangkok to Nong Khai on the border with Laos, to be completed by 2028.

And in an extra BRI push, Beijing and Bangkok agreed to coordinate the development of China’s Shenzhen-Zhuhai-Hong Kong Greater Bay Area and the Yangtze River Delta with Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

In the long run, China essentially aims to replicate in West Asia its strategy across Southeast Asia. Beijing trades more with the ASEAN than with either Europe or the US. The ongoing, painful slow motion crash of the collective west may ruffle a few feathers in a civilization that has seen, from afar, the rise and fall of Greeks, Romans, Parthians, Arabs, Ottomans, Spanish, Dutch, British. The Hegemon after all is just the latest in a long list.

In practical terms, BRI 2.0 projects will now be subjected to more scrutiny: This will be the end of impractical proposals and sunk costs, with lifelines extended to an array of debt-distressed nations. BRI will be placed at the heart of BRICS+ expansion – building on a consultation panel in May 2022 attended by foreign ministers and representatives from South America, Africa and Asia that showed, in practice, the global range of possible candidate countries.

Implications for the Global South

Xi’s fresh mandate from the 20th Communist Party Congress has signaled the irreversible institutionalization of BRI, which happens to be his signature policy. The Global South is fast drawing serious conclusions, especially in contrast with the glaring politicization of the G20 that was visible at its November summit in Bali.

So Poszar is a rare gem: a western analyst who understands that the BRICS are the new G5 that matter, and that they’re leading the road towards BRICS+. He also gets that the Quad that really matters is the three main BRICS-plus-Iran.

Acute supply chain decoupling, the crescendo of western hysteria over Beijing’s position on the war in Ukraine, and serious setbacks on Chinese investments in the west all play on the development of BRI 2.0. Beijing will be focusing simultaneously on several nodes of the Global South, especially neighbors in ASEAN and across Eurasia.

Think, for instance, the Beijing-funded Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, Southeast Asia’s first: a BRI project opening this year as Indonesia hosts the rotating ASEAN chairmanship. China is also building the East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia and has renewed negotiations with the Philippines for three railway projects.

Then there are the superposed interconnections. The EAEU will clinch a free trade zone deal with Thailand. On the sidelines of the epic return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to power in Brazil, this past Sunday, officials of Iran and Saudi Arabia met amid smiles to discuss – what else – BRICS+. Excellent choice of venue: Brazil is regarded by virtually every geopolitical player as prime neutral territory.

From Beijing’s point of view, the stakes could not be higher, as the drive behind BRI 2.0 across the Global South is not to allow China to be dependent on western markets. Evidence of this is in its combined approach towards Iran and the Arab world.

China losing both US and EU market demand, simultaneously, may end up being just a bump in the (multipolar) road, even as the crash of the collective west may seem suspiciously timed to take China down.

The year 2023 will proceed with China playing the New Great Game deep inside, crafting a globalization 2.0 that is institutionally supported by a network encompassing BRI, BRICS+, the SCO, and with the help of its Russian strategic partner, the EAEU and OPEC+ too. No wonder the usual suspects are dazed and confused.

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

Dictators welcomed and safe from prosecution in the US

Wednesday, 04 January 2023 10:47 AM  

[ Last Update: Wednesday, 04 January 2023 10:51 AM ]

Mohammad Bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister (File Image)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman being granted immunity from prosecution in US reassuring dictators around the world that they are safe in America.

In September, as a lawsuit was proceeding against him in a federal court in the United States, Mohammed bin Salman abruptly became Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister, a role with several rights that he had not enjoyed previously as the country’s Crown Prince.

That dubious move paid off on Thursday, November 17, when the US State Department said that bin Salman enjoyed head of state immunity in US courts effectively dooming the lawsuit filed against him for his role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

How bin Salman escaped punishment

Khashoggi was a loyalist turned dissident who lived in self exile in the United States and wrote articles critical of Bin Salman for The Washington Post.

In late 2018 he traveled to Turkey to obtain papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

On October 2, he entered the diplomatic building. He never left, not on his own feet. A hit squad flown in from Saudi Arabia had been waiting for him inside the consulate where they tortured him to death, and then dismembered his body, taking his limbs outside in suitcases.

Khashoggi’s fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, waited for hours outside the consulate for him to emerge, when he didn’t she alerted the Turkish police.

Soon, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a personal friend of the couple, joined the fray with full force and hardly a day went by without President Erdogan, or the Turkish Government, commenting publicly on the case, thus directing international attention to the Saudi government, or dropping hints that bin Salman, the Crown Prince, may have been personally involved.

Erdogan hosts MBS on his first visit to Turkey since Khashoggi murder

Saudi Arabia

Plenty of evidence, no prosecution

Turkish security agencies even released audio tapes from inside the consulate with people yelling and Khashoggi screaming, effectively detailing the grisly murder and keeping the international community focused.

And only a month and a half after the murder, The Washington Post, which had been Khashoggi’s publication of choice, dropped a bombshell. The CIA had concluded that Mohammed bin Salman had personally ordered Khashoggi murder. The CIA never spoke publicly about their findings on the matter.

Already the world had learned of an earlier princely gambit whereby Mohammed had become Crown Prince through what US media described as a coup d’etat, purging his rivals and holding the then Crown Prince in custody until he agreed to step down.

To learn that the prince had become so emboldened as to order the murder of his critics in a foreign country was seen to have been a step too far, and it seemed that the prince was finally going to be held to account.

There was reason to believe that since President Erdogan was unrelenting in his public admonishments of Saudi Arabia.

Years later, both before and after he assumed office, US President Joe Biden was openly critical of Saudi Arabia. At one point during a presidential debate when he was asked about the Khashoggi case, Biden said he would make the Saudis “pay the price and make them in fact the pariah that they are”.

All of that angry moral posturing went down the drain of history when the US State Department said that the Saudi Prince had legal immunity in the United States of America as Prime Minister, Saudi King Salman, MBS’s father, had already bent over backwards to make that possible, but even he himself couldn’t believe that the Americans would fall for his scheme that easily.

Legally the prime minister himself as King of the country, King Salman acted against Saudi law by delegating that position to his son in late September just as Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiance, was doing everything she could to have justice served in a court of law.

The US mulls lifting a ban on the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia; however, the final decision is expected to hinge on the KSA ending the war in neighboring Yemen.

President Biden’s rhetoric, and his anger over a move by OPEC+ to limit output at a time of energy difficulties for the US and Europe had given further hope even though the Turkish denunciations had already died down years ago.

Fraught as it is with behind the scenes jockeying, betrayals and other moral failures, world politics took away not just one woman’s hope for justice, but the entire world’s faith in the willingness of the US and other governments to stand up to tyranny, despite all the rhetoric to the opposite effect, killing Hatice Cengiz’s hope for justice and perhaps closure.

The US and others had one message for all murderous dictators in the world: You’re safe in America.

The prince and the spy, MBS vs al-Jabri

The prince and the spy, MBS vs al-Jabri

Barely five years since he came to prominence as the crown Prince, and the de facto leader of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, MBS has shocked the world with his callous disregard for human life.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

KSA sentences uni prof. to 30 years in prison over tweets

December 28, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Saudi Arabia sentences a university professor to 30 years in prison for tweets about the kingdom, its propaganda policies, and the security situation.

Muhammad Bin Muhsin Basurrah

Saudi journalist Turki Al-Shalhoub, who previously triggered a public outcry for exposing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s contentious plans against highly revered sites in Saudi Arabia, tweeted on Tuesday that the State Security Court had passed the ruling regarding the professor at the media faculty of Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, Muhammad bin Mohsin Basurrah.

Al-Shalhoub cited several connected Tweets by Basurrah and said he had commented on the disinformation campaign of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV, Saudi Arabia’s 3-year diplomatic dispute with Qatar and other Arab countries, in addition to the security situation in the country.

“Saudi security forces only intervene when the sovereignty of the House of Saud is threatened; otherwise they would not take any serious actions,” the journalist commented.

Last month, the independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, Prisoners of Conscience, reported that state officials had jailed pro-democracy campaigner Fadi Ibrahim Nasser over tweets that denounced the government and the policies of the Saudi regime.

A Saudi opposition activist, Abdul Hakim bin Abdul Aziz, revealed that the Saudi authorities had arrested his son, Yasser, from his university, as part of the Kingdom’s aggressive crackdown against activists that criticize the performance of the ruling regime on social media.

Bin Abdul Aziz considered that the arrest of his son exposes “the oppression and tyranny of the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia and is a desperate attempt to force me to remain silent about the violations that the country is witnessing.”

It is noteworthy that bin Abdul Aziz is one of the founders of the “Zawina” organization, which is concerned with supporting the families of prisoners of conscience and exposing human rights violations against detainees and their families.

Saudi authorities sentenced 15 prisoners of conscience to death in November

At the beginning of last month, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights revealed that the Saudi authorities had sentenced 15 prisoners of conscience to death, bringing the number of people at risk of death to 53, including at least eight minors.

In the same context, the Saudi Court of Appeal extended in October the sentence of Tunisian national Mahdia Al-Marzouki, from two years and eight months to 15 years, on charges of interacting with a tweet.

Similarly, the Saudi authorities sentenced an American citizen to 16 years in prison for criticizing the Saudi regime in a tweet.

Hundreds of bloggers, activists, intellectuals, and others have been arrested in Saudi Arabia ever since bin Salman became crown prince in 2017, an obvious sign of zero tolerance for dissent even against the international condemnation of repressive measures.

Over the past years, the country also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to persecute peaceful activists, repressing freedom of expression.

US Firm Receives $10 Mln to Help Whitewash Saudi Image

December 24, 2022

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A US public relations firm has reportedly received some $10 million for helping Saudi Arabia clean up its image. ​

Richard Edelman, CEO of the $1 billion firm Edelman, signed deals with the kingdom over the past four years to sanitize its image despite being a leading campaigner against doing business with autocratic regimes, according to the Guardian.

The Guardian report contrasted Edelman’s public image as a global campaigner against autocrats and the services he had provided to Saudi Arabia. Edelman did not reply to questions asked by the British daily about the alleged hypocrisy of his firm.

Writing in June a blogpost about the key geopolitical issue of our time, Edelman said that he was “more convinced than ever” that the global rift between democracy and autocracy is the defining issue and that around the world, “autocracy is making gains against democracy.”

Edelman’s image as a crusader against business with autocrats was further enhanced earlier this year during the gathering of the World Economic Forum. He published a “special report” on the trust barometer focused on geopolitics. The company said that 59 percent of survey respondents agreed that “punish[ing] countries that violate human rights and international law” is a “business responsibility.”

However, Edelman is failing to take his own advice because of his lucrative business ties to Saudi Arabia and with its Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman, according to the Guardian. Most of Edelman’s work for the Riyadh has focused on rehabilitating its reputation in the US.

The work of the PR firm directed at American audiences is projected to net Edelman more than $5.6 million in fees. This included sending regular press releases that celebrate topics such as “mainstreaming women in business” and “doubling down efforts to empower women and youth.” NEOM related projects are expected to earn Edelman more than $3 million.

The Guardian reported that on May 31, 2022, only days before Edelman published his blogpost warning of the growing divide between democracy and autocracy, he signed a $787,500 contract to provide the Saudi ministry of culture with “PR and communications services.”

Several other US firms doing PR work to clean Saudi Arabia’s image were also mentioned in the report including McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Hogan Lovells and Qorvis Communications.

Netanyahu Passes the Standard to Ben-Gvir Announcing the Fall of the Entity

December 20, 2022

by Nasser Kandil

Those talking day and night about a wave of normalization invading the Arab world, in the midst of whom voices for resistance have been a dissonant chord, should fall silent. Suffice it for them to read or listen well or view and consider the hundreds of reports swarming in all forms of Israeli media, written, broadcast, and telecast, about the shift of the interest in Qatar’s Mondial from a celebration of normalization to its obituary and burial, regardless of the Qatari authorities’ stance which had granted the Israeli media all necessary facilitation confirmed in Israeli media reports about the catastrophic surprise which awaited their crews who had been sent by their Israeli media headquarters carrying the background intention of holding a celebratory festival side by side with the Mondial entitled normalization, only to find in every corner and every street and with every Arab citizen from Morocco, to Saudi Arabia, to Lebanon, to Qatar, to the Emirates a rejection of normalization to the degree of dealing with an Israeli as a plague requiring handwashing after contact, from the taxi driver, to the restaurant waiter, to passerby Mondial supporters among whom the Israeli media crew utterly failed to find one Arab who agreed to a photo op with them, but instead, faced what one media crew member described, as panic and fear when a mobile phone was snatched and photos taken deleted, or the kicking out of a passenger and leaving him stranded in the middle of a deserted road, or forcibly removing a group of media crew from a restaurant and throwing them to the street. Such signals, the dimensions of which are important and analyzed by the Israelis, and ignored by promoters of normalization of the Arabs, say beyond a doubt, that the span of normalization is packing its luggage and leaving.

Benjamin Netanyahu who accompanied the Deal of the Century and normalization projects and frequently boasted that they were the most important compensation for the fears raised by the growth of the resistance in Palestine, and the growth of its strength on Palestine’s borders, knew fully well that the normalization phenomena in the Gulf were only appetizers awaiting the main dish of Saudi Arabia joining the normalization option, and on the outcome of such joinder, when it occurs, as the remaining hope to restore the entity’s regional role, in the shadow of its receding ability to seize it through omnipotent military superiority, with Netanyahu also knowing that such hope being dependent on American success in bringing Saudi Arabia into obedience, and trading conferring legitimacy on the Saudi Crown Prince Mohamad Bin Salman and bypassing the dossier of the killing of the journalist Jamal Kashoggi as a strong point to pressure him into an advanced step in normalization with the Occupation Entity. Following stumbles during U.S. President Joe Biden’s last visit to Saudi Arabia a few months ago, and in translating the invitation for Saudi Arabia to participate in merging “Israel” in both Gulf and Arab milieus, came the rising setbacks in American-Saudi relations, with Saudi positioning mid-road between Washington, Beijing, and Moscow. Enter the American announcement of judicial immunity to the Saudi Crown Prince, and Netanyahu’s burial of his last dreams and hopes.
The return to Palestine, no longer an option, became a fate for Netanyahu or any other leader in the Entity with the failure of the bet on a wave of normalization as a strategic shift after of Saudi Arabia’s joining. The wailing scenes of the Israeli media about the lie of normalization has fired the bullet of mercy on that delusion, and Netanyahu’s return to Palestine implies a return to the conflict considerations well known to Netanyahu, who knows that he lies when he talks the language of challenge with Al Mukawama (Resistance), being the one who, with deterrence power in the gutter, agreed to a cease fire after the Seif Al- Quds conflict. It was under his successive premierships that the transformation of the resistance in Gaza from a defensive force to one of offense occurred, and the resistance in Lebanon obtained its precision missiles despite his lavish rhetoric about targeting them through Syria, and his inability to respond convincingly to the Israeli interior about the secret regarding not targeting them in Lebanon since he was boasting about his power and knowledge about where they were stored, and displaying photos at the UN General Assembly which he said showed the missiles’ depot locations. For all those reasons, Netanyahu knows that he faces a dead end if he decides to return to classic rules of engagement, and knows well that the loss is certain and the erosion unquestionable. Because Netanyahu knows all of this, his last bet was on a wave of normalization in the hope of changing the rules of engagement, and particularly its Palestinian dynamics with Saudi Arabia’s joining, and what it promises the Israelis economically and in terms of expanding the horizon for their hope to remain in the entity, and reproducing a centrist power in the Israeli aggregate which historically had formed the base for a project of “statehood” and “politics,”, and in the absence of which the project of “statehood” gave in to the ideologues and settlers, and the project of “politics” to bloody civil confrontations on one side between the Palestinians as the authentic inhabitants, and on the other side the Settlers. Netanyahu, who is aware of the fall of the projects of “statehood” and “politics” knows the limits of his options, and in view of his retreat from his threat of withdrawing from the agreement of the division of the economic areas with Lebanon by stating that he would give it the same treatment as the Oslo Agreement, will not even dare to do that, i.e. not to comply, because he knows the consequences, and has been the first in avoiding them and seeking to deal with them realistically.

Netanyahu, returning after the elections, reads the fall of the entity with the rise of the Zionist ideology and Settlement bloc and its call to ethnic cleansing, deportation, and killing represented by its rising star Itamar Ben-Gvir, and despite his awareness of the American and European stance and the consequences of granting the internal security cabinet to Ben-Gvir on internal security itself, and on “Israel’s” image abroad and its positon among general opinion groups and Western rights organizations, undertakes such a step in acknowledgement that the era of the “State of Israel” has ended, and that handing over the standard to the tide of settlers and ideologues, either succeeds in creating a new formula inside Palestine which brings back the chance of uniting the entity under a power ceiling, and restoring its regional position through that gateway, similar to the Independence war of 1948, through the deportation of Palestinians and creating an open massacre against them in Jerusalem and the West Bank and the land occupied in 1948, or such risk results in to more disintegration and rehabilitates politics and the project of “statehood,” with Netanyahu being on the grabbing end in both cases.

In Palestine, a new stage dawns, entitled no voice above the battle’s clamor, and no sound above that of bullets, and with Ben-Gvir, no need for Mahmoud Abbas’ authority or his security forces and coordination with the occupation, but rather need Fateh and the Cyclone Forces and the Aqsa Brigades side by side with the resistance factions from Al Qassam to Saraya Al Quds to Areen Al Ousoud, and just like the Palestinian blood defeated the first wave of normalization and prevented the second, it will successfully undertake defeating its remnants at the sound of the horn of confrontation when Ben-Gvir takes over the Ministry of Internal Security, with the Axis of Resistance who is aware that the preservation of the national and nationalist interests of its forces cannot be secured outside the dialectic of confrontation with the occupying entity, standing as a referee in the same trench with the people of Palestine and its resistance forces.

نتنياهو يسلم الراية لبن غفير معلناً سقوط الكيان

نوفمبر 26, 2022

ناصر قنديل

ــ يجب أن يخرس الذين يتحدّثون صباح مساء عن موجة تطبيع تجتاح العالم العربي، ويشكل دعاة المقاومة الصوت النشاز فيها، فيكفي أن يتقن هؤلاء القراءة أو أن يجيدوا السمع والمشاهدة ويتوقفوا أمام مئات التقارير المكتوبة والمرئية والمسموعة التي تعجّ بها وسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية، حول انتقال الاهتمام بمونديال قطر من الاحتفال بالتطبيع إلى نعيه ودفنه، والأمر لا علاقة له بموقف السلطات القطرية التي منحت لكل وسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية كل التسهيلات اللازمة، كما تقول التقارير الإعلامية التي تتحدث عن مفاجأة كارثية كانت بانتظار المراسلين الذين أوفدتهم وسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية بخلفية إقامة مهرجان احتفالي إلى جانب المونديال عنوانه التطبيع؛ فإذا بها تجد في كل زاوية وكل شارع ومع كل مواطن عربي من المغرب والسعودية ولبنان وقطر والإمارات موقفاً يصل رفضه للتطبيع حد التعامل مع الإسرائيلي كأنه طاعون يجب غسل الأيدي بعد ملامسته، كما علّق أحد هؤلاء المراسلين، من سائق الأجرة الى نادل المطعم الى المشجعين الى العابرين في الشوارع عجزت فرق الإعلام الإسرائيلية عن إيجاد عربي واحد يقبل صورة ودّية مع أعضائها، بل إنها واجهت ما وصفه أحد المراسلين بالذعر والخوف مع مصادرة الهاتف النقال ومحو الصور منه، أو إنزال الراكب في منتصف طريق مهجور وطرده، أو إخراج الفريق من مطعم عنوة ورميه في الشارع. وهذه العلامات التي يهتم بها ويحلل أبعادها الإسرائيليون ويرغب بتجاهلها مروّجو التطبيع من العرب، تقول بما لا يقبل الشك إن زمن التطبيع يحزم حقائبه ويرحل.

ــ بنيامين نتنياهو الذي رافق صفقة القرن ومشاريع التطبيع وطالما تباهى بأنها التعويض الأهم عن المخاوف التي يسببها تنامي المقاومة في فلسطين وتنامي قوتها على حدود فلسطين، يعرف أن ما جرى من ظواهر تطبيع في الخليج كانت صحون المقبلات بانتظار الوجبة الرئيسية التي يمثلها انضمام السعودية إلى خيار التطبيع، ورهان نتنياهو على النتائج الناتجة عن مثل هذا الانضمام عند حدوثه كان الأمل المتبقي لرد الاعتبار لدور الكيان الإقليمي، في ظل تراجع قدرته على انتزاع مكانته الإقليمية بقوة تفوقه العسكري المطلق، ويعرف نتنياهو أن هذا الأمل كان رهن نجاح أميركي بجلب السعودية الى بيت الطاعة، ومقايضة منح الشرعية لولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان وتجاوز ملف قتل الصحافي جمال الخاشقجي كورقة قوة أميركية للضغط عليه، بقبول السعودية الذهاب الى خطوة متقدمة في مجال التطبيع مع كيان الاحتلال. وبعد التعثر خلال زيارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن الى السعودية قبل شهور، في ترجمة دعوته السعودية للمشاركة في دمج “اسرائيل” في البيئتين الخليجية والعربية، جاءت أزمة العلاقات الأميركية السعودية الآخذة في التصاعد مع تموضع سعودي في منتصف الطريق بين واشنطن وبكين وموسكو. وجاء الإعلان الأميركي عن منح الحصانة القضائية لولي العهد السعودي، ليدفن نتنياهو آخر أحلامه وآماله.

ــ العودة إلى فلسطين لم تعد خياراً بل صارت قدراً بالنسبة لنتنياهو او لسواه من قادة الكيان، مع سقوط الرهان على موجة تطبيع تشكل تغييراً استراتيجياً تنتج عن انضمام السعودية إلى هذه الموجة. والمشهد البكائي لوسائل الإعلام الإسرائيلية عن كذبة التطبيع يطلق رصاصة الرحمة على هذا الوهم، والعودة إلى فلسطين تعني العودة الى حسابات الصراع التي يعرفها نتنياهو جيداً، وهو من يعلم أنه يكذب عندما يتحدث عن لغة التحدي مع المقاومة، فهو من قبل وقف النار بعد معركة سيف القدس وقوة الردع في الحضيض. وفي ولاياته المتتابعة تحولت المقاومة في غزة من قوة دفاعية الى قوة هجومية تهدّد ثم تفتح النار في سيف القدس. وفي ولاياته المتتابعة امتلكت المقاومة في لبنان صواريخها الدقيقة رغم كثرة كلامه عن استهداف هذه الصواريخ عبر سورية، وعجزه عن تقديم جواب مقنع للداخل الإسرائيلي عن سر عدم استهدافها في لبنان طالما أنه يتفاخر بقوته ويعرف أماكن تخزينها، كما فعل بإظهار صور قال إنها تظهر أماكن مستودعات الصواريخ أمام الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة، ولذلك كله يعرف نتنياهو أن الكيان يواجه طريقاً مسدودة إذا قرر العودة الى قواعد الاشتباك التقليدية، ويعرف ان الخسارة محتومة وأن التآكل حتمي.

ــ لأن نتنياهو يعرف كل ذلك كان رهانه الأخير على موجة التطبيع أملا بتغيير قواعد الاشتباك، وخصوصا ديناميكيتها الفلسطينية بتأثير انضمام السعودية، وما تعد به الإسرائيليين اقتصادياً وتفتح أمامهم آفاق الأمل بالبقاء في الكيان، وتعيد إنتاج قوة وسطية في التجمع الصهيوني شكلت تاريخياً قاعدة مشروع “الدولة” و”السياسة”، وبغيابها غاب مشروع “الدولة” لحساب جماعة العقيدة والمستوطنين، وغابت السياسة لحساب مشروع المواجهات الدموية الأهلية، بين الفلسطينيين كسكان أصليين من جهة والمستوطنين من جهة مقابلة، ونتنياهو المدرك لسقوط مشروع “الدولة” وسقوط “السياسة” يعرف محدودية خياراته، فهو الذي تراجع عن التهديد بالانسحاب من اتفاق تقاسم المناطق الاقتصادية مع لبنان وقال إنه سيكتفي بالتعامل معه كما تعامل مع اتفاق أوسلو، لن يجرؤ حتى على فعل ذلك، أي عدم التطبيق، لأنه يعلم العواقب، وهو أكثر من تجنّبها وسعى للواقعية في التعامل معها.
ــ نتنياهو العائد بعد الانتخابات يقرأ سقوط الكيان بصعود كتلة العقيدة الصهيونية والاستيطان، ومعها دعوات التطهير العرقي والتهجير والقتل التي يمثل ايتمار بن غفير نجمها الصاعد، فيقرر رغم إدراكه المواقف الأميركية والأوروبية ومعرفته بتداعيات تسليمه حقيبة الأمن الداخلي، على الأمن الداخلي نفسه، وعلى صورة “إسرائيل” في الخارج ومكانتها بين تشكيلات الرأي العام والمنظمات الحقوقية الغربية، يقدم على الخطوة لأنه يعترف بأن زمن “دولة إسرائيل” قد انتهى، وأن تسليم الراية لتيار المستوطنين والعقائديين، إما أن ينجح بإنتاج معادلة جديدة داخل فلسطين تعيد الفرصة لتوحيد الكيان تحت سقف القوة، وتعيد إنتاج مكانته الإقليمية مجدداً عبر هذه البوابة، اسوة بما حدث في ما يسمونه حرب الاستقلال عام 48، عبر تهجير الفلسطينيين وإقامة مذبحة مفتوحة بحقهم في القدس والضفة الغربية والأراضي المحتلة عام 48، أو تؤدي المخاطرة الى مزيد من الانهيار فتعيد الاعتبار للسياسة ومشروع “الدولة”، وفي الحالتين يكون نتنياهو أول من ينتظر لتلقف النتيجة.

ــ في فلسطين تبدأ مرحلة عنوانها لا صوت يعلو فوق صوت المعركة، ولا صوت إلا للرصاص، ومع بن غفير لا حاجة للفلسطينيين لسلطة محمود عباس وأجهزة أمنه وتنسيقها مع الاحتلال، بل هم يحتاجون فتح وقوات العاصفة وكتائب الأقصى إلى جانب فصائل المقاومة من القسام الى سرايا القدس وعرين الأسود، وكما فعل الدم الفلسطيني فعله في إسقاط الموجة الأولى من التطبيع ومنع الموجة الثانية، سوف يتكفل بإسقاط ما تبقى منها مع نفير المواجهة الذي يبدأ مع تولي بن غفير وزارة الأمن الداخلي، ومحور المقاومة الذي يدرك أن الأمن الوطني والقومي لقواه ودوله لا يمكن تأمينه خارج منطق الصراع مع كيان الاحتلال، يقف حكماً في الخندق ذاته مع شعب فلسطين وقواه المقاومة.

US throws Khashoggi case under a bus after suit against MBS dismissed

7 Dec 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Prior to his electoral victory, US President Biden pledged he would make MBS a “pariah” and said he would bring justice to the dismembered victim. 

A US federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the lawsuit against the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman be lifted after it was announced by federal authorities that he was basically “immune” from jurisdiction. 

The reason for such entitlement was owed to his title as prime minister of Saudi Arabia which he was granted on September 27, just six days before the State Department’s court-imposed deadline to determine whether Mohammed was protected from legal action.

“The US has informed the court that he is immune, and Mohammed is therefore ‘entitled to head of state immunity … while he remains in office,’”  reads a filing by Judge John D. Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia who heeded the motion to protect the Crown Prince despite there being “credible allegations of his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.”

The filing also dismissed the claims filed against two senior Saudi officials due to a lack of evidence in pushing for a ruling over their case.

Read more: Amnesty: US immunity to MBS ‘deep betrayal’

Civil rights organization, DAWN, founded by the late Jamal Khashoggi condemned the move as a “last ditch effort to escape the jurisdiction of the court.”

“DAWN’s lawsuit against [Mohammed] bin Salman (MBS) for his ruthless murder of Jamal Khashoggi is only one part of our continued efforts for justice and accountability for this crime, and the many other crimes the Saudi government is perpetrating against its own citizens,” a statement reads by the organization’s executive director, Sarah Leah Whitson. “While we are disappointed in the decision, we will consider all options to continue our legal challenges to MBS’s criminal behavior.”

Bin Salman admitted he was responsible for the death of Khashoggi but denied any direct involvement in the assassination. 

Read more: US says MBS’ ‘legal immunity’ was unavoidable, albeit not so sure

Prior to his electoral victory, US President Biden pledged he would make MBS a “pariah” and said he would bring justice to the dismembered victim. 

But when Biden greeted MBS earlier this year with a fist bump, it was clear to the public that Biden broke his vow.

In response to the outrageous move, Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, urged the President to “uphold your promise to pursue justice for Jamal.”

“President Biden, imagine yourself in my position, trying to move on while knowing that the people who killed your loved one are still free,” Cengiz wrote. “Imagine the trauma of knowing that what happened to your loved one can and will happen to someone else because the perpetrators know there will be no consequences.”

Read more: 

Is NATO falling apart?

November 22, 2022

Something quite amazing has just happened.  Following the terrorist attack in Ankara which killed 34 people and injured another 125, Turkish authorities first declared that they will not accept US condolences.  Then the Turks launched a military operation against “Kurdish terrorists in northern Syria“.  Turkey then claimed to have neutralized 184 terrorists.

What is not mentioned in those articles is that the target of the Turkish strike was the US-run center for the training and education of PKK militants in Rojava.  There are rumors that the Turks gave the US enough warning time to evacuate most of its personnel.

Does that sound familiar?

If it does, it is because it is very similar to what the Iranians did when they hit US bases in Iraq following the murder of General Solemani in a US drone strike.

If the above is true, and rumors are very much “if” and cannot be considered as proven fact, then that means that a NATO member state (Turkey) just attacked a US base and, like Iran, got away with it: the “The Finest Fighting Force in the History of the World” just got whacked hard and humiliated for a second time and could do absolutely nothing to defend itself or even save face.

How big a slap in the face did Uncle Shmuel get this time?  According to the Turkish defense minister, Hulusi Akar,

Terrorists’ shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, and warehouses were successfully destroyed,” Akar said, adding that “the so-called headquarters of the terrorist organization were also hit and destroyed.” Overall, the Defense Ministry claimed that the strikes hit nearly 90 targets, which it said were connected to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG).

Even allowing for some “patriotic exaggeration”, it is pretty clear that Ergodan’s revenge strike was both quite substantial and, apparently, rather effective.

So, what do we have here?  A NATO member state all but accused the US of a major terrorist attack against its capital city, and then that NATO member state openly attacked a US-run facility (let’s not call it a base, that would be inaccurate).

Is Erdogan’s claim even credible?  Absolutely!  Not only has the US already attempted to overthrow and kill Erdogan, who was saved in extremis by Russian special forces (same with Ianukovich), but we also know that the US overthrew General de Gaulle in 1968-1969 and that NATO covert forces were used to stage false flag attacks against NATO allies (especially Italy) in the so-called GLADIO operation.

NATO is not a defensive alliance – it never was –  but it is a tool of US colonial domination.

This was always true, hence the famous words spoken  in the now faraway 1950s when the first NATO Secretary General, British General Hasting Ismay, bluntly admitted that real the purpose of NATO was to keep the “Russians out, Americans in, Germans down“.  Let’s take these elements one by one, starting with the last one:

  • “Keep the Germans down”: here the word “Germans” is a placeholder for any and all European leaders or countries who want true sovereignty and agency.  Translation: enslave the Europeans
  • “Keep the Americans in”: in order to crush any European liberation movement. Translation: place US overlords over all the EU nations.
  • “Keep the Russians out”: make sure that Russia does not liberate Europe.  Translation: demonize Russia and do anything and everything to prevent peace on the European continent.  If possible, break-up, subjugate or otherwise destroy Russia.

Need proof?  How about the undeniable act of war against Germany (and, I would argue, the entire EU) when the Anglos blew up NS1/NS2?  Is that not proof enough?

Against that background, we have to ask yourselves: what does it even mean to be a NATO member state in 2022?

The truth is that NATO was a pure creation of the Cold War and that in the real world of 2022 it is a total anachronism.  Being a NATO member state really means very little.  Not only are some “more equal than others” in NATO, but there are also non-NATO states which are far more “NATOized” than actual NATO members states (I think of Israel or, of course, the Nazi occupied Ukraine).  And being a member of NATO does not protect you from anything, not from external attacks and not against internal ones either.

According to Col (Ret) MacGregor, the war in the Ukraine might well bring about the collapse of both NATO and the EU.  I very much agree with him.  I would say that such a collapse will not so much be the result of embarrassing defeats as it will be due to the deep internal contradictions inside both organizations.

By the way, this is not our topic today, but I think that the CSTO has much of the same problems and contradictions as NATO.  So is what we observe a “NATO problem” or a problem of artificial and generally obsolete alliances?  I would argue for the latter.

But let’s leave a discussion of the CSTO for another day.

In the case of Turkey this problem is made even worse by a total incompatibility between Islam and the Woke ideology now openly promoted (and enforced) by the US and NATO.

Then there is geography.  Turkey has some pretty powerful regional neighbors, including not only Greece or Israel, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Syria and, course, Russia.  Can Turkey count on any type of US/NATO “protection” from such powerful neighbors?

Ask the Saudis how much the US/NATO helped them against the Houthis!

Ask the Israelis how much the US/NATO helped them against Hezbollah?

If anything, the Iranian strikes on CENTCOM bases have demonstrated that the US does not have the stomach to take on Iran.  In sharp contrast, the Russian and Iranian intervention in Syria defeated the US plans for a “New Middle East” or, shall we say, it did bring about a “new Middle-East”, but most definitely not the one the US Neocons were hoping for!

Add to this is major deterioration in the relationship between the US and MBS’ Saudi Arabia and we get an amazing picture: the USA and NATO (which the US dragged into the region) are gradually becoming irrelevant in the Middle-East.  Instead, new “big actors” are gradually filling the void, including Russia and Iran who are now even gradually allowing Saudi Arabia to participate in a much needed regional dialog about the future of the region.

The phenomenal weakness of the US/NATO/CENTCOM is best illustrated by the US reaction to the Turkish strikes: Uncle Shmuel endorsed (no kidding!!!) the Turkish strikes 🙂

How absolutely pathetic is that for a wannabe superpower?

Will this process have an impact on the NATO war against Russia?

Well, let’s imagine that Russia would really strike some target inside Poland (which is what the Ukies claimed, as did the Poles until Uncle Shmuel told them to cool it).  What would happen next?

Does anybody still remember what happened when Erdogan flew to Mons to beg for NATO protection against Russia (following the downing of a Russian Su-24 over northern Syria by a joint US-Turkish operation, possibly executed without Erdogan’s knowledge, at least that was his claim).  What did NATO promise or give the Turks?  Absolutely *nothing* (other than “consultations”).

Now the Poles might be delusional enough to think that a US President might order a retaliatory attack on Russia if Russia strikes Poland, but those of us who know the USA and its ruling elites know that this is nonsense.  Why?  Simply because a US/NATO counter-strike on Russian forces would result in an immediate Russian response.

And then what?

The truth is very stark in its simplicity:

  • The US/NATO do not have the manpower or firepower needed to take on Russia in a conventional combined arms war.
  • Any use of nuclear weapons will result in an immediate retaliation most likely resulting into a unwinnable full-scale nuclear war.

So here is the deal: whether western politicians understand that or not, military professionals all know the truth – NATO can’t defend ANY of its members against a truly modern military.   Why?

Let’s look at what capabilities the US/NATO truly have:

  • The USN has a superb submarine force (both SSNs and SSBNs) capable for firing large numbers of relatively obsolete cruise missiles (and plenty of SLBMs)
  • A still very capable, if rather old, nuclear triad
  • A quantitative (only!) conventional advantage over Russia
  • Superb (but very vulnerable!) C4ISR capabilities
  • A printing press allowing for the quasi infinite printing of dollars
  • comprador elite ruling over all the NATO/EU countries
  • The most formidable propaganda machine in history

So what does NATO lack to be a credible military force?

Obviously, “boots on the ground”.   And I don’t mean a few subunits from the 101st or 82AB or US special forces or even a so-called “armored brigade” which, in reality, lacks adequate TO&E to qualify as such.  I am talking about a “land warfare” force capable of fighting a modern and extremely determined enemy.

[Sidebar: if this is a topic of interest to you, may I recommend my article “Debunking popular clichés about modern warfare” written in 2016 but which is still mostly relevant]

The USA, Israel and the KSA all fell into the same trap: the delusion that by spending billions and billions of dollars on massively over-priced and massively under-performing military hardware will allow you to defeat an enemy assumed to be “less sophisticated”.  Hence the need to use:

  • Proxy forces
  • PMCs
  • Corruption

All of the above are a normal part of any modern war, but in the case of the US/NATO they are not just part of a bigger plan, they are central to any US/NATO operation, thereby dramatically decreasing the true capabilities of the US/NATO.  In sharp contrast, countries like Russia or Iran can deploy “boots on the ground”, and very capable ones at that (remember that the Iranians are those who trained Hezbollah!).

What does all this mean practically?

It means that even if the Russians decided to strike at a NATO country, the tensions would go through the roof, but it is highly UN-likely that any US President would allow any action which could result in a full-scale nuclear war!  Remember, for Russia, this is an existential war, no less than WWII, whereas no Anglo leader would ever dare launch a suicidal attack on Russian forces which would most likely result in the full obliteration of the US/UK and any other country participating (for example by hosting forward deployed standoff weapons) in such an attack.

Does that mean that we have to anticipate a Russian strike on Poland, Romania or the UK?

No, not at all.  In fact, it would be very dangerous for the Russians to only leave a stark choice to the Hegemony: admit defeat or commit suicide.  And since the Russians do have escalation dominance (that is to say that they have balanced capabilities from the small-arms fire level to a full intercontinental nuclear war, and with all the stages in between these two extremes) they, unlike the US/NATO. are not stuck between the choice of surrender or suicide.

That being said, it would also be misguided to assume that Russia “would never dare strike a NATO member state”.  The Poles might be willing to wager their future and even existence on such a invalid inference, but not the folks at the Pentagon or elsewhere in the decision centers of the Hegemony.


Douglas MacGregor is right, the NATO war against Russia might very well result in the collapse of both NATO and the EU which, in turn, will place an official “last nail”, into the coffin of an already long-deceased Hegemony which currently still exists only because of its momentum and its propaganda machine.

I would argue that NATO is already falling apart before our eyes, a process which the economic, social, political, economic and spiritual crises which are plaguing the entire EU will only accelerate.  And, of course, the most amazing thing about this is that this collapse is not the result of some Machiavellian plan cooked up by the Russians, the Chinese or the Iranian, but a direct consequence of decades of truly suicidal policies: they did it to themselves!

Now, the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians are mostly waiting, watching (probably smiling) and planning for the Hegemony-free multi-polar world they want to bring about, with or without the participation of the USA and Europe.


قائد عسكري إيراني: ضبط النفس في وجه الفتنة السعودية له حدود


2022 السبت 19 تشرين ثاني

المصدر: وكالة فارس للأنباء

رئيس مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية للجيش الإيراني العميد أحمد رضا بوردستان يصرّح بأنّ الأميركيين لم يكونوا قادرين على تنفيذ الخيارات العسكرية ضد إيران لذلك لجأوا إلى إشعال أحداث الشغب والفتنة.

رئيس مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية للجيش الإيراني العميد أحمد رضا بوردستان (أرشيف)

أشار رئيس مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية للجيش الإيراني، العميد أحمد رضا بوردستان إلى ضلوع السعودية في أحداث الشغب الأخيرة في البلاد.

وقال بوردستان في حوارٍ خاص أجرته معه وكالة أنباء “فارس” الإيرانية: “على النظام السعودي أن يعلم بأنّ إيران تُمارس ضبط النفس تجاهه إلا أنّ هنالك حدوداً لذلك”.

ولفت إلى أنّ “الولايات المتحدة غيّرت استراتيجيتها من الحرب الاستنزافية إلى حرب هجينة”، مضيفاً: “بعد أن جهّزت واشنطن أفراداً مُندسين وجندتهم في الميدان ووضعتهم قبالة القوات الأمنية، قامت بدعمهم لإشعال مواجهات وتنفيذ عمليات قتل”.

وأكّد أنّ الدول الداعمة للفوضى قررت إدخال العناصر الإرهابية لإشعال الفتن الإثنية والقبلية في كردستان وسيستان وبلوشستان، ثم في خوزستان، “إلّا أنّ يقظة الأجهزة الاستخبارية أفشلت مخططاتهم الخطيرة والمدمرة”، مشيراً إلى أنّ العمليات الميدانية للجماعات الإرهابية رافقها دعم إعلامي واسع ودبلوماسي معادٍ، لذلك قلت أنها حرب هجينة تمّ التخطيط لها في ثلاث طبقات استراتيجية وعملانية وتكتيكية.

وفي وقتٍ سابق، أكّد مدير مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والعلاقات الدولية في طهران، أمير موسوي، أنّ “السعودية أرسلت أموالاً لمثيري الشغب والأمن الإيراني اكتشفها”.

وشدد بوردستان على أنّ “إيران تحظى بالكثير من مكونات القدرة والصلابة العالية جداً ولا يمكن للحوادث أن تمسّ بها، وقد أدّى وجود هذه المكونات إلى صمود الشعب”.

وسائل إعلام معادية استخدمت “القصف الخبري”

ولفت بوردستان إلى أنه “في أعمال الشغب الأخيرة، استخدمت وسائل الإعلام المعادية، في عمل مشترك، جميع تقنيات وسائل الإعلام وجاذبيتها وبكميات ونطاق كبيرين للغاية نادراً ما شوهدت مثلها، وليس مبالغة أن نستخدم مصطلح القصف الخبري فيما يتعلق بحجم وكثرة الأخبار عن إيران، فالأخبار تتدفق مثل المدفع الرشاش بطريقة تسلب قوّة التفكير من الجمهور وتضع ما يريدونه في أذهانهم”.

وأضاف: “هناك مهمة أخرى غير مسؤولة ودنيئة لوسائل الإعلام المعادية، كانت تنسيق وتوجيه المشاغبين وتعليم أساليب التدمير والقتل وإبقاء ميدان الاشتباكات مشتعلاً، ويمكن القول بثقة أنّ وسائل الإعلام المعادية لعبت في أحداث الشغب الأخيرة دور القيادة والسيطرة، بتوجيه من أجهزة الاستخبارات والأمن الأجنبية”.

وصرّح بأنّ إيران واجهت حرباً معرفية عمل فيها العدو على خداع العديد من الشباب، موضحاً بأنّ عدداً ملحوظاً من الشباب الذين ألقي القبض عليهم خلال أحداث الشغب الأخيرة “أعربوا عن ندمهم وأيقنوا بأنّهم خُدعوا من قبل وسائل إعلام العدو، وأضروا بأنفسهم وأسرهم وبلادهم”.

وفي وقتٍ سابق، أحصت وكالة “فارس” الإيرانية أكثر من 38 ألف كذبة نشرتها وسائل الإعلام المعادية لإيران.

العدو لجأ إلى الفتنة لعدم قدرته على استخدام الخيار العسكري

وقال بوردستان: “المؤشرات الواضحة على قدرات البلاد العسكرية والقتالية أن الأميركيين لم يكونوا قادرين على تنفيذ الخيارات المطروحة على الطاولة، لذلك نرى أنهم بدافع اليأس والعجز لجأوا إلى إشعال أحداث الشغب والفتنة”.

ولفت إلى أنّ “لجوء نظام استكباري مثل النظام الأميركي، الذي يُعدّ بصورةٍ ما القوة العسكرية الأولى في العالم، إلى إثارة الفتنة والاستعراض في بيئة غير عسكرية، يبيّن ضعفه الشديد وعدم قدرته على القتال في حربٍ عسكرية”.

وأعلن بوردستان أنّه بالنظر إلى أنّ الأعداء غير موجودين على الساحة وأنّ وكلائهم يؤدون عنهم مهامهم في الميدان، فإن “ردّنا بالتأكيد لا يمكن أن يكون واضحاً وظاهرياً لأننا لا نرى العدو أمامنا لنقاتله. لهذا السبب، فإنّ أساليبنا لمواجهة الحرب الهجينة للعدو هي استخدام قدراتنا الهجينة”.

وتابع القائد العسكري: “يعرف الأميركيون وكذلك الأوروبيون وأيضاً النظام السعودي أنّ لدينا أدوات قوية جداً تحت تصرّفنا لنستخدمها بصورةٍ هجينة ضدهم، وبحسب خبرتي في القوات المسلحة لا بدّ لي من القول إنّ كل ممارسات الأعداء سيتم الرد عليها بالتأكيد وهذا الرد سيكون بالتأكيد للأعداء رداً باعثاً على الندم”.

وأشار إلى أنّ “العدو بعث أفراداً مندسين تحت غطاء سياح وزوار وعلماء، عملوا بعد دخولهم البلاد على تجنيد البعض من أصحاب السوابق والمشبوهين”، وأردف: “الأميركيون وظفوا في الفتنة الأخيرة خبراتهم التي حصلوا عليها من كل الفتن”.

وأضاف أنّ “هدف العدو من هذه الفتنة كان توريط البلاد في حربٍ أهلية إلا أنّه تمّ إجهاض هذه الفتنة في ظلّ توجيهات قائد الثورة وحنكته، وشجاعة القوات المتواجدة في الساحة”.

اقرأ أيضاً: إيران: “إسرائيل” ستتلقى الرد الأكبر إذا كانت تقود المؤامرة ضدنا

ابن سلمان عميل الموساد وأميركا

وتابع بوردستان: “علينا أن نقبل حقيقة أن محمد بن سلمان تدرّب على يد الأميركيين. لقد درس في أميركا وأساتذته كانوا من ضباط الموساد وهو أحد العملاء الرئيسيين للموساد وأميركا في المنطقة”.

ولفت إلى أنّ إبن سلمان “أظهر عداءه، بينما كان القادة السعوديون السابقون مهتمين بتخفيف التوترات إلى حدٍّ ما وهو ما رأيناه يحدث على مستويات عديدة. ومن الأمثلة على ذلك التسهيلات التي وفّروها لحجاجنا”.

وقال: “إيران وفقاً لقدراتها وإمكانياتها تمتلك القدرة التي يمكنها من خلالها أن تُنفّذ إرادتها في المنطقة، وباعتقادي أنّ إيران مارست ضبط النفس حقاً خلال الأحداث الأخيرة”.

وأردف: “شعرت أنا شخصياً أنّه كان من المناسب أن تتلقى السعودية صفعة قوية في هذه الفتن من خلال الطاقات الموجودة في المنطقة لكنني أرى بأنّ المسؤولين لدينا يمارسون ضبط النفس كما هو الحال دائماً. ومع ذلك، يجب أن تعلم السعودية بأنّ ضبط النفس له حدود، ولو أرادت تصعيد أعمالها العدائية، فإنّ ردّنا على هذه الأعمال سيكون رداً باعثاً على الندم بالتأكيد”.

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