US Reportedly Finds ‘Significant Cache’ of Iranian Missile Parts Being Smuggled to Houthis by Boat

An Iranian woman looks at Taer-2 missile during a street exhibition by Iran's army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard celebrating Defence Week marking the 39th anniversary of the start of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, at the Baharestan Square in Tehran, on September 26, 2019

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Anonymous US officials reported the seizure of a “significant cache” of missile parts by a US destroyer in the Gulf of Oman last week, with the weapons reportedly being linked to Iran and suspected of being smuggled to the Houthis in Yemen. The report comes amid backroom peace talks to end the war in Yemen.

The USS Forrest Sherman seized missile parts found onboard a boat in the Gulf of Oman last week, an anonymous US official told the Associated Press Wednesday. The official said the weapons were linked to Iran and believed to be bound for Yemen and the Shiite Houthi militant movement there.

The anonymous official did not say how many missiles or parts were found, only that a small wooden boat had aroused US suspicion by not flying a country flag, prompting the destroyer to stop and search it.

‘Fake and Fabricated’ Accusations

The US and its allies have accused Tehran of supporting the Houthi movement before, claiming Iran is fighting a proxy war against its regional rival Saudi Arabia, which has waged a bloody war in Yemen against the Houthis for nearly five years.

In December 2017, then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented what she called the “smoking gun” of Iranian support for the Houthis: pieces of a missile fired at Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport just outside the capital of Riyadh, which she claimed were of Iranian origin.

Iran’s envoy to the UN at the time, Gholamali Khoshroo, said the accusations were “fake and fabricated,” an attitude generally shared at the time even by US allies. Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, later explained the Houthis had overhauled older missiles themselves, turning them into more potent weapons.

Washington renewed the accusation in June 2019 following the downing of a US drone over Yemen by Houthi forces. The US said the anti-air missile that struck the drone had been provided to the Houthis by Iran, but as Sputnik reported, the old, Soviet-made weapon was sold to dozens of nations decades ago and could have been bought anywhere.

US allies split in September over the issue of who carried out the aerial attack on two Saudi Aramco petroleum sites in eastern Saudi Arabia: Washington claimed the missiles were fired from Iran, while Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz claimed the Houthis carried out the attack, as the group itself claimed, but at Tehran’s orders.

The Houthis have been fighting a war against the Saudi-led coalition since March 2015, when the group forced Yemeni President Adrabbuh Mansur Hadi out of office. The Zaidi Shiite group represented a diverse alliance of Yemenis disaffected by Hadi’s federalization plans and slashing of state welfare benefits, both of which hit the northern border areas the Houthis call home extremely hard. The Saudis claim to be defending the Yemeni government’s sovereignty, but they and their chief partners, the United Arab Emirates, have also found erstwhile allies in the radical Islamist militias active in Yemen, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which now controls much of the country’s southeast.

Via Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, US weapons have been found in the hands of these militias in large numbers, including American MRAP anti-mine vehicles, French LeClerc main battle tanks and Agrab Mk2s, a unique vehicle of South African design.

Peace Deal in the Works

Sputnik reported last week on peace talks between the Houthis and Saudis being quietly hosted by Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Muscat and accompanied by large prisoner exchanges.

Former Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told Foreign Policy that handling of the peace talks by Saudi Vice Minister of Defence Prince Khalid bin Salman, brother of de facto Saudi leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reflected “a commitment to a final comprehensive peace … and a realization that there is no military solution to the conflict. I believe Prince KBS hopefully has come with a new vision to put an end to a costly war which has created great regional stability.”

“The war has exhausted Saudi Arabia financially, and the worsening military situation in its south is not in its best interest,” Nabeel Khoury, the former deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Sana’a, told the US-based outlet Al-Monitor for an article published on November 26. “The fact that Prince Khalid has been assigned the Yemeni dossier is positive because it is a complicated issue and it needs a full-time decision-maker who Mohammed bin Salman trusts.”

An estimated 91,000 Yemenis have died as a result of the war, most of them civilians killed by the humanitarian catastrophe created by shortages of food, medicine and clean water. Despite the Saudi air campaign, the Houthis have gone on the offensive in the last year, conducting deeper strikes inside Saudi Arabia that targeted airfields, petroleum facilities and other sites.

الحريري: طلبات أميركا… أوامر!

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هل هو فعلاً مختطف، لكنه محتجز هذه المرة في بيته في بيروت؟ ام هو يحسن لعب الدور، فيتحول الى خاطف لرئاسة الحكومة، يحملها معه في تنقلاته بين الغرف والطوابق ويحضنها في سريره كأعز من ألف عشيقة؟

 

ابراهيم الأمين

الأربعاء 4 كانون الأول 2019

واجه سعد الحريري أصعب الاستحقاقات في حياته. فلا هو قادر على عدم تأليف حكومة جديدة. وفي الوقت نفسه يواجه ضغطاً كبيراً من الداخل والخارج للسير بتسوية ما. المسألة هنا تتعلق في كون الحريري لا يمكنه الخروج من السلطة الآن. واذا اجبر على هذه الخطوة، فهو سيبدأ بزرع الالغام على طول الطريق التي يفترض ان تسلكها من التكليف الى التأليف الى جلسة الثقة.

عدم رغبة الحريري بأن يشكل غيره الحكومة ترتبط بمصيره. الحديث، هنا، عن بطالة كاملة. عن تقاعد مبكر غير مضمون النتائج. عن اعتزال مبكر لكل أنواع الأعمال السياسية والتجارية. عن اعتكاف يقود صاحبه الى الابتعاد تدريجياً عن الأنظار حتى يصبح منسياً. عن مغادرة تعني الهروب الى أقاصي الارض بحثاً عن ملاذ آمن.

رئاسة الحكومة، بالنسبة إلى الحريري، تعني كل مستقبله. تعني مستقبله السياسي كواحد من زعماء لبنان، لا يمكنه، من دون السلطة والمال، قيادة تياره ولا كتلته النيابية في مواجهة صقور يريدون انتزاع الزعامة منه احتجاجاً على قلة دراية أو نقص في الوضوح أو تردّد في المواجهة. تعني مستقبل علاقته مع الناس في المناطق والقطاعات حيث انفرط عقد التيار ليعود الى جمعيات، النفوذ فيها لمن يملك القدرة على الدفع أو رفع الصوت. تعني فتح أفق الاعمال التجارية الجانبية بعد توقف المصدر الاول للرزق في السعودية والعالم. والعزوف عن الرئاسة يعني تعرضه لعزل من العائلة نفسها، في مواجهة زوجة والد لم تعد تطيق كل تصرفاته، وإخوة يتوزعون بين من يقاطعه ومن يحاربه مباشرة وعلناً، ومن لم يعودوا يرون في لبنان حتى مكاناً للعيش.

رئاسة الحكومة تعني لسعد الحريري الحصانة الفعلية في مواجهة مئات المعارك القانونية في لبنان والسعودية والامارات وغيرها. تعني حصانة تحول دون اعتقاله على باب طائرته الخاصة في عاصمة ما والتحقيق معه ومصادرة طائرته وما معه من حلي وثياب. تعني حصانة لا تزال تفتح له أبواب قادة وحكومات وأجهزة وشركات في العالم بصفته لا بشخصه.

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حصانة تقيه شر العزلة التامة التي تحوله الى رقم منسيّ إذا ما قرّر خصومه ذلك. حصانة تحول دون اعتقال وسجن أكيدين في ما لو زار السعودية كحامل لجنسيتها فقط. عندها، لن يقيه أحد في العالم شر «الدب الداشر».

رئاسة الحكومة تعني للحريري مركز نفوذ متنوع في لبنان وقابل للاستخدام في المحيط القريب والبعيد. تعني بقاءه في ظل حماية أمنية محلية وإقليمية ودولية، وهو هاجس صار يسكنه كما حال العائلات الحاكمة في بلادنا والعالم. تعني البقاء على التواصل مع جهات قوية في لبنان يمكنها أن تمحو رقم هاتفه من ذاكرة هواتفها لو استقال. وهي تحول دون سقوط ما تبقّى من هيبة له بين رجال أعمال وسماسرة وشركات تخشى قدرته على تعطيل أعمالها أو عرقلتها. وتعني، أيضاً، قدرة على استمالة ناس من هنا وهناك باسم الطائفة والموقع والبلاد.

كل ذلك يعني، ببساطة، أن الحريري لن يترك رئاسة الحكومة من دون قرار كبير يتخذه من يملك القدرة على تقرير مصيره السياسي. تجربة الاحتجاز في السعودية لم تمنحه قوة مقاومة لعدم تكرار التجربة، بل يبدو أن الايام القليلة التي أمضاها في معتقل مرفّه، أصابته بمتلازمة استوكهولم التي تجعل الرهينة أسير دونية غير مفسّرة أمام خاطفه. وهو الذي ضعف وارتبك وخاف من مصارحة الناس بحقيقة ما حصل معه، وتراجع عن محاسبة من خانه وتآمر عليه من أبناء بيته، وأبناء تياره، وأبناء جلدته ايضاً. وأصابته عوارض إطلاق السراح المشروط، فلا هو قادر على شكر من ساعده على الخروج من أزمته، ولا على الجهر بحقيقة من أعانه وأخرجه من سجنه بالقوة لا بالدبلوماسية. وهو الذي لم يقدر حتى على بقّ البحصة التي تحولت كتلاً خرسانية تعطل كامل جسده.

الذين يعرفون سعد الحريري جيداً يتحدثون عن مفاجآت في شخصه هذه الايام. عصبيّته وطريقة أكله للسيجار، لا تدخينه، وعلاقته مع طعامه أو نبيذه الفاخر، وطريقة جلوسه داخل الدار وخارجها، كل ذلك لا يعكس ارتياحاً، بل ضيقاً شديداً يرفع من منسوب توتره الشخصي.

واللافت أن الرجل الذي عُرف ببساطته السياسية وقلة حنكته في إدارة التحالفات والملفات، «أصيب» فجأة بنوبة من دهاء غير مسبوق. وما يقوم به في سياق ملف تشكيل الحكومة الجديدة، يعيد الى الأذهان حكايات بيروت عن مفاوضات صائب سلام ورشيد كرامي وآل الصلح. حتى والده لم يكن يهتم بالطرق الملتوية. وربما كان الحضور السوري في القرار النهائي مانعاً للمناورات. لكن، رغم ذلك، لم يكن رفيق الحريري يحتاج الى ألاعيب جانبية.

هل هو فعلاً محتجز هذه المرة لكن في بيروت، أم خاطف لرئاسة الحكومة، لا يريد تركها لحظة ويحضنها في سريره كأعزّ من ألف عشيقة؟

وحتى لا يبدو أن في الامر إهانة شخصية، لنقل إن سعد يحيط نفسه، أو إن هناك من يحيطه، بمن هم قادرون على التلاعب بالحقائق بطريقة افضل، وعلى درجة من الحنكة غير المسبوقة في بيت الوسط: من إبعاده المتعِبين من حوله، المعروفين بكثرة الكلام وقلة الافعال، الى إدارة شارعه الغاضب لألف سبب غير ملف رئاسة الحكومة، الى تعامله مع الازمات الهائلة التي تمر بها البلاد، الى طريقة إدارته مرحلة تصريف الاعمال، إذ يهمل ما يتعبه في الاقتصاد والادارة ويمسك بما يفيده في الامن والمال. والاهم طريقة إدارته النقاش مع المرشحين لخلافته في رئاسة الحكومة. فيظهر في غالب الاحيان كزاهد في الحكم، وغير مهتم بتفاصيل تشكيل الحكومة، وراغب في الابتعاد للاستراحة، لكن، سرعان ما يصبح شيخاً في السياسة، له باعه في النصح والمشورة. وما يخرج من فمه ليقع مباشرة في أذن من يطمح لخلافته، يتحول رصاصاً يجعل منافسه صريعاً فاقداً لأهلية الدور.

أما ملاحظاته، أو وصاياه، فهي، ببساطة شديدة، ليست سوى المطالب الواضحة لتحالف السعودية – أميركا الذي يدرج لبنان ساحة مركزية في معركته المفتوحة مع إيران ومحور المقاومة. وهي معركة لها أبعادها السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية. لذلك، يكون الحريري واضحاً في مطالبه:

أولاً: لا تراجع عن السياسات المالية والاقتصادية ولا خيارات سوى الإقرار ببرامج الخصخصة الكاملة، وضرورة تأبيد وجود رياض سلامة في حاكمية مصرف لبنان.

ثانيا: إضعاف التيار الوطني الحر من خلال منع رئيسه جبران باسيل من الدور الوزاري المباشر، وحرمانه من حقائب اساسية تجعله قليل القوة في مواجهة خصمه الرئيسي سمير جعجع.

ثالثاً: تعزيز استقلالية الجيش وقيادته عن سلطة رئيس الجمهورية ووزارة الدفاع، ومنع التعرض لقائد الجيش العماد جوزيف عون ومدير الاستخبارات العميد طوني منصور، والإقرار بهامش خاص لعمل الجيش على طول حدود لبنان الجنوبية والشرقية والشمالية والغربية.

رابعاً: إفساح المجال أمام بقاء حالة «غليان الشارع» لكن في وجهته ضد عون وحزب الله، والسعي الى انتخابات نيابية مبكرة تعدل ميزان القوى داخل المجلس، وتفتح الباب أمام طرح انتخابات رئاسية مبكرة.

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هنا، يصبح السؤال حول واقعه أمراً حتمياً: هل هو فعلاً مختطف، لكنه محتجز هذه المرة في بيته في بيروت؟ ام هو يحسن لعب الدور، فيتحول الى خاطف لرئاسة الحكومة، يحملها معه في تنقلاته بين الغرف والطوابق ويحضنها في سريره كأعز من ألف عشيقة؟

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The Empire strikes back – US incited unrest in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran is Washington’s revenge against the Islamic Republic

By Aram Mirzaei for The Saker Blog

The Empire strikes back – US incited unrest in Iraq, Lebanon and Iran is Washington’s revenge against the Islamic Republic

Since October,riots and unrest have wrecked havoc across Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. Iraq has suffered the worst as reports suggest over 300 people have been killed in the riots. In Lebanon, the US and its vassals have been busy hijacking the people’s grievances over the massive corruption among government officials. Followers of US puppets Samir Geagea and Saad Hariri have been blocking roads in an attempt to shut down the country, and to provoke a response from Hezbollah, thus setting the stage for a new civil war. In Iran, protests over gas price hikes have been hijacked by US backed MEK terrorists and Royalists loyal to the son of the late Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, with acts of violence and thuggery as they have burned down bank offices and government buildings. Luckily, in Iran these rioters and terrorists were dealt with swiftly and decisively, with over 1000 arrests being made within days after the so called “protests” began.

To some of us, these riots were expected as the Zionist axis have made these threats since several years back. Two years ago, the eccentric psychopath Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman threatened to incite riots and violence inside the Islamic Republic. “We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia,” he said, without elaborating on policies. “Instead, we will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.”

Another reason for expecting the current chaos can be found in Syria and Yemen. Only fools would believe that Washington really would just pack their bags and leave Syria without seeking revenge for the humiliation they suffered after their defeat. It’s never that easy with the Zionist Empire. So they pull out of Syria and strike back with force against the Islamic Republic’s allies across the entire region, in an attempt to break the alliance between these countries. In Yemen, Washington suffered humiliation after the Houthis destroyed half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production within hours, effectively proving that the US Patriot Missile Defence system is useless.

Washington’s hand can be found in all three of these countries who have been targeted. In Iran, the initial protests were genuine, this is a fact that even the government admitted immediately. Reducing petrol subsidies on the cheapest fuel in the region has been an issue on Iran’s political agenda for years, one that became more urgent after Washington exited the JCPOA last year and imposed sanctions on Iran again. This move was necessary, and the money saved will go to the poor and needy. Western commentators immediately spinned it into “anti-regime protests”. Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings institution declared that “Iranian protesters strike at the heart of the regime’s legitimacy,” France 24 asked if is this “a new Iranian revolution?” And multiple other western media outlets slammed Iran’s “brutal crackdown” against its people, with false reports ranging from 100 to 2000 “killed by security forces”. Even though the Internet was disabled for nearly a week, somehow videos and pictures made their way to Twitter accounts of notorious anti-Iran commentators and “analysts”. All over the cyber space, so called expat Iranians, supporters of the Washington backed MEK terrorists ran rampant with massive propaganda campaigns. Hundreds of thousands of anti-Iran tweets exploded on Twitter as so called analysts, “think tanks”, media personalities, “activists” and politicians spewed lies on top of lies. And they wonder why the Islamic Republic shut down the internet?

Washington overtly offered its support to the rioters with the ever more despicable Mike Pompeo even taking to Twitter where he asked “Iranian protestors” to send him pictures and videos of the “regime’s crimes”. A few days later, Washington sanctioned the Islamic Republic’s minister of information for the Internet blackout.

Seeing as they couldn’t intimidate Iran into submission through threats of imminent war, they placed their hopes on subversion and internal attacks. Yet again they failed because they have failed to understand the Islamic Republic for over 40 years now. This country is NOT like most other country, it is not like Bolivia where Army chiefs openly backed by Washington easily could just topple the government. It is exactly for this reason that the IRGC was created. If the Iranian Army would ever attempt a coup, the IRGC, who is much more powerful than the army would immediately crush them.
In Lebanon, Washington exposed itself and its complicity in the riots when former US ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltmann said that ‘the demonstrations and the reactions to them by Lebanese leaders and institutions, fortunately, coincide with US interests.’ Wherever Washington “supports” protests and riots, it can be concluded that they have a hand in it. The protests in Lebanon are a bit more complicated than the rather obvious ones in Iran and Iraq.

The closure of the main roads and the deliberate inaction of the Lebanese army forces due to US pressure is not surprising. The main roads being closed have been carefully selected. They have closed the roads linking southern Lebanon to Beirut and linking Baalbek and the road to Damascus with the capital Beirut. These areas are mainly inhabited and used by Shia. The roads are being blocked mainly in certain sectarian areas controlled by supporters of the caretaker Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Druze ally Walid Jumbblat. The closure of other roads in the Christian dominated Dbayeh and in Tripoli by followers of the Zionist and war criminal Samir Geagea, leader of the notorious “Lebanese Forces”, are to divert attention from the main aim: challenging Hezbollah.
The goal is to force Hezbollah into the streets to confront the culprits that are blocking roads. Hezbollah is aware of this and is trying to avoid responding to provocations.
The aim is not to see Hezbollah defeated by the initial clashes; the firepower, training and military organisation of Hezbollah cannot be defeated by enthusiastic mercenaries and locals. The aim is to deprive Hezbollah of its legitimacy and pay a heavy price for its “unforgivable” victories in Syria and Iraq and its support to the Palestinians and the Yemeni.
Despite what is being claimed about Lebanon’s economy, the country’s financial problems are not the primary issue. Their debt (around 35 billion dollars) is in line with what Saudi Arabia is bleeding every year in their tragic war of terror on Yemen.
Sectarian elements and foreign intervention are managing to divert attention from the real national demands that have been overwhelming the Lebanese since decades. The foreign intervention is not relying on the justified demands of protestors in its confrontation with Hezbollah. It is relying on sectarian Lebanese who want to contribute to the fall of Hezbollah from the inside. This is not surprising because Lebanon is a platform where the US, EU, and Saudis are strongly present and active against the Resistance Axis.

In Iraq, the Zionist Axis has continued on the same theme, grasping for a geopolitical angle: protests in neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq are being cast as a regional insurrection against Iranian influence. Zionist Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the hawkish think-tank “Foundation for Defense of Democracies” shamefully claimed that the people of not only Lebanon and Iraq, but also the people of Iran, are “actively demanding their countries back from the occupying Islamic Republic”. In other words, he claims that the Islamic Republic is occupying its own country. This is the level that they stoop to.

Yet some elements among the protestors in Iraq have been attacking and torching Iranian consulates. Why is that? How will torching the Iranian consulates in Najaf and Karbala save them from poverty and disenfranchisement? Who are these people, claiming that Iran is at fault for Iraq’s misery? Have they suffered from a memory loss over what has happened these past 16 years? Who sanctioned Iraq, resulting in the death of half a million Iraqi children? Who claimed that it was all worth it on national TV? Who invaded Iraq and humiliated the country, occupied it for 8 years and stole their resources? Who dropped depleted uranium on Iraqi cities, causing children even today to be born disfigured and mutated? Who unleashed Daesh on Iraq? And most importantly, who stepped in immediately to save Iraq when Washington’s dogs were at the gates of Baghdad in the summer of 2014? It is here that it becomes clear that the Saudis and Americans are directing these thugs to attack Iran inside Iraq. Fortunately, in Iraq they have been exposed as well. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the incident in strongest terms, saying the attack had been perpetrated “by strangers … distant from the reality of demonstrations taking place in a number of Iraqi cities.”

“We believe that its purpose is clear; to harm the historical relations between Iraq and Iran and countries of the world whose missions are in Iraq,” it said in a statement.

The ministry further warned against “the entry of persons who want to divert the demonstrations with the right demands from the seriousness of legal discipline and its proper course. The consulate in Najaf has been exposed to clear evidence of their agendas that are distant from the national demands; we stress the need to secure missions and not to expose those working in them.”
Iraq’s top cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has warned that enemies of Iraq and affiliated groups in the country are plotting to create internal strife and bring the country back to the “era of dictatorship”, an apparent reference to the former rule of Saddam Hussein.

Addressing worshippers during Friday prayers in the holy city of Karbala, the Grand Ayatollah urged protesters to prevent attacks on people and their property and distance themselves from those committing such acts.

“It is imperative on peaceful demonstrators that they separate their ranks from non-peaceful individuals and cooperate on shunning saboteurs – whoever they are – and not allow them to abuse peaceful protests to damage and attack the property of citizens,” a representative of Ayatollah Sistani said as he delivered the top cleric’s sermon.
“The enemies and their levers, in order to achieve their malicious goals, plan to spread chaos and plunge the country into internal strife and then return it to dictatorship, so everyone must work together to take away this opportunity from them,” he added.
A few months ago, the Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Akhbar reported that Iraqi security sources have uncovered a plan seeking to install a military strongman favoured by the US by creating a power vacuum in the country.

The clear pattern seen in both Lebanon and Iraq is that this major plot is targeting the Islamic Republic.
Iran defeated the mainstream international community when it helped prevent the fall of the government in Damascus after years of war. It has effectively supported Hezbollah and the Palestinians against Israel, it has stood by Iraq and prevented terrorism from fully taking control of the country. Iran has also supported the defence of Yemen against Saudi Arabia’s pathetic and criminal war. These moves have created a lot of enemies for Iran, and they are all hell-bent on revenge for years of humiliation and failure.

This is the most important hour for the Resistance Axis, it must survive this plot, otherwise the entire region will burn and fall into Zionist hands.

Joe Biden Says He Would Make Saudi Arabia a «Pariah»

Joe Biden Says He Would Make Saudi Arabia a «Pariah»

By Staff, The Intercept

Former US Vice President and Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential elections Joe Biden said he would not sell weapons to Saudi Arabia – marking a sharp contrast with the Obama administration – and stressing he would make the Saudis “pay the price” for their killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden made his remarks during the Democratic debate on Wednesday night.

“I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them,” Biden said. “We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.” Biden also said there is “very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia,” and, in reference to Yemen, said he would end “end the sale of material to the Saudis where they’re going in and murdering children.”

Biden’s admission is a significant departure from the Democratic Party position before Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia objected to the US’s posture during the so-called Arab Spring, as well as the Obama administration’s diplomatic overtures toward Iran, but that did not stop the US from supporting the Saudis’ intervention in Yemen and from selling Saudi Arabia more than $100 billion in weapons. In recent years, under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman [MBS], Saudi Arabia has launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent at home and abroad, and Khashoggi’s murder has led Democrats to call for fundamental changes to the US-Saudi alliance.

At the Atlanta debate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called Saudi Arabia a “brutal dictatorship” and said that “what we’ve got to know is that Saudi Arabia is not a reliable ally.” He added, “We need to be rethinking who our allies are around the world, work with the United Nations, and not continue to support brutal dictatorships.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said, “It’s a human rights violation, without coming to the United States Congress, for an authorization for the use of military force, for us to refuel Saudi jets to bomb Yemeni children.” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, “When the president did not stand up the way he should have to that killing and dismemberment of a journalist with an American newspaper, that sent a signal to all dictators across the world that that was OK.”

Indeed, many of the more captivating moments of the debate – the fifth in the monthly series – were focused on foreign policy, and on appealing to black voters. And the longstanding frontrunners – Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sanders – left ample room for the other seven to jump in. Warren had been at the center of a firestorm in last month’s Democratic debate, having pulled ahead in national and early-state polls. She has slipped in national polls, as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has climbed, and questions about topics in her wheelhouse – corruption, and Medicare for All – flew by without incident.

Saudi Arabia Recruits Twitter Employees Charged For Spying

Saudi Arabia Recruits Twitter Employees Charged For Spying

By Staff, Agencies

The Saudi government, frustrated by growing criticism of its leaders and policies on social media, recruited two Twitter employees to gather confidential personal information on thousands of accounts that included prominent opponents, prosecutors announced on Wednesday.

Twitter

The complaint unsealed in US District Court in San Francisco detailed a coordinated effort by Saudi government officials to recruit employees at the social media giant to look up the private data of Twitter accounts, including email addresses linked to the accounts and internet protocol addresses that can give up a user’s location.

The accounts included those of a popular critic of the government with more than one million followers and a news personality. Neither was named.

Two Saudi citizens and one US citizen worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the government in Riyadh and the royal family, the US justice department said.

According to a court filing, they were guided by an unnamed Saudi official who worked for someone prosecutors designated “Royal Family Member-1,” which The Washington Post reported was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or MBS as he is commonly known.

Those charged were Twitter employees Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, along with Ahmed Almutairi, a marketing official with ties to the royal family.

“The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” said US lawyer David Anderson.

“US law protects US companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion. We will not allow US companies or US technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of US law,” he said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes as US-Saudi relations continue to suffer strains over the brutal, Riyadh-sanctioned murder one year ago of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for, among others, The Washington Post newspaper

A critic of MBS, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

According to the Post, US intelligence has concluded that the prince himself was closely linked to the murder.

The criminal allegations reveal the extent the Saudi government went to control the flow of information on Twitter, said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher with Human Rights Watch.

Two Former Twitter Employees Accused of Spying for Saudi Arabia

Closer than Ever: US Preparing with ’Israel’ a Camp David-style Summit, Gulf Monarchies on Guests List

 

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By Staff, Agencies 

“Israeli” News channel 12 revealed that the United States and the Zionist occupation entity are advancing plans for an agreement with some Gulf Arab states to tackle their mutual enemy, Iran.

The initiative, championed by Zionist Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, will see Arab Gulf states sign a non-aggression treaty and economic cooperation agreement, a major step towards normalizing relations with the apartheid “Israeli” entity.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the initiative is “excellent”, News 12 reported.

Katz also said during talks with American officials that “the goal is to sign an agreement [with Gulf states] on the White House lawn, during Trump’s current administration”.

In November 2018, Katz announced the “Peace Rails” initiative that would connect some Gulf monarchies to the Mediterranean ports of Occupied Palestine.

Katz presented the “Israel”-Gulf initiative to the former US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, and according to News 12, the initiative aims at “developing friendships and cooperation ties”.

The initiative will oblige its parties to “take effective measures so that acts of wars, threats or hostility” or any incitement does not arise from signatories’ territories against any of the treaty’s parties.

The sides will be obliged to “refrain from joining, promoting or assisting a coalition, organization or an alliance of military or security nature, with a third party”, News 12 added.

In January, it was reported that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is “seriously considering” setting up a “game-changing” Camp David-style summit meeting with Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with US President Donald Trump playing host.

The ‘War’ for the Future of Middle East

Image result for The ‘War’ for the Future of Middle East

Alastair Crooke
November 4, 2019

Oh, oh, here we are again! In 1967, it was then the ‘threat’ of the standing Arab Armies (and the ensuing six-day war on Egypt and Syria); in 1980, it was Iran (and the ensuing Iraqi war on Iran); in 1996, it was David Wurmser with his Coping with Crumbling States (flowing on from the infamous Clean Break policy strategy paper) which at that time targeted secular-Arab nationalist states, excoriated both as “crumbling relics of the ‘evil’ USSR” and inherently hostile to Israel, too; and in the 2003 and 2006 wars, it was Saddam Hussein firstly; and then Hezbollah that threatened the safety of the West’s civilizational ‘outpost’ in the Middle East.

And here we are once more, Israel cannot safely ‘live’ in a region containing a militant Hezbollah.

Not surprisingly, the Russian Ambassador in Beirut, Alexander Zasypkin, quickly recognized this all too familiar pattern: Speaking with al-Akhbar on 9 October in Beirut (more than a week before the protests in Beirut erupted), the Ambassador dismissed the prospect of any easing of regional tensions; but rather identified the economic crisis that has been building for years in Lebanon as the ‘peg’ on which the US and its allies might sow chaos in Lebanon (and in Iraq’s parallel economic calamity), to strike at Hezbollah and the Hash’d A-Sha’abi — Israel’s and America’s adversaries in the region.

Why now? Because what happened to Aramco on 14 September has shocked both Israel and America: the former Commander of the Israeli Air Force wrote recently, “recent events are forcing Israel to recalculate its path as it navigates events. The technological abilities of Iran and its various proxies has reached a level at which they can now alter the balance of power around the world”. Not only could neither state identify the modus operando to the strikes (even now); but worse, neither had any answer to the technological feat the strikes plainly represented. In fact, the lack of any available ‘answer’ prompted one leading western defense analyst to suggest that Saudi should buy Russian Pantsir missiles rather than American air defenses.

And worse. For Israel, the Aramco shock arrived precisely at the moment that the US began its withdrawal of its ‘comfort security blanket’ from the region – leaving Israel (and Gulf States) on their own – and now vulnerable to technology they never expected their adversaries to possess. Israelis – and particularly its PM – though always conscious to the hypothetical possibility, never thought withdrawal actually would happen, and never during the term of the Trump Administration.

This has left Israel completely knocked, and at sixes-and sevens. It has turned strategy on its head, with the former Israeli Air Force Commander (mentioned above) speculating on Israel’s uncomfortable options – going forward – and even postulating whether Israel now needed to open a channel to Iran. This latter option, of course, would be culturally abhorrent to most Israelis. They would prefer a bold, out-of-the-blue, Israeli paradigm ‘game-changer’ (i.e. such as happened in 1967) to any outreach to Iran. This is the real danger.

It is unlikely that the stirring of protests in Lebanon and Iraq are somehow a direct response to the above: but rather, more likely, they lie with old plans (including the recently leaked strategy paper for countering Iran, presented by MbS to the White House), and with the regular strategic meetings held between Mossad and the US National Security Council, under the chairmanship of John Bolton.

Whatever the specific parentage, the ‘playbook’ is quite familiar: spark a popular ‘democratic’ dissent (based on genuine grievances); craft messaging and a press campaign that polarizes the population, and which turns their anger away from generalized discontent towards targeting specific enemies (in this case Hezbollah, President Aoun and FM Gebran Bassil (whose sympathies with Hezbollah and President Assad make him a prime target, especially as heir-apparent to the leadership of the majority of Christians). The aim – as always – is to drive a wedge between Hezbollah and the Army, and between Hezbollah and the Lebanese people.

It began when, during his meeting with President Aoun in March 2019, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo reportedly presented an ultimatum: Contain Hezbollah or expect unprecedented consequences, including sanctions and the loss of US aid. Leaked reports suggest that Pompeo subsequently brought ally, PM Hariri into the picture of the planned disturbances when Hariri and his wife hosted Secretary Pompeo and his wife for a lunch banquet at Hariri’s ranch near Washington at the end of the Lebanese premier’s August visit to the US.

As the Lebanese demonstrations began, reports of an ‘operations room’ in Beirut managing and analyzing the protests, and of large scale funding by Gulf states proliferated; but for reasons that are not clear, the protests faltered. The Army which originally stood curiously aloof, finally engaged in clearing the streets, and returning some semblance of normality – and the Central Bank governor’s strangely alarmist forecasts of imminent financial collapse were countered by other financial experts presenting a less frightening picture.

It seems that neither in Lebanon or in Iraq will US objectives finally be achieved (i.e. Hizbullah and Hash’d A-Sha’abi emasculated). In Iraq, this may be a less certain outcome however, and the potential risks the US is running in fomenting chaos much greater, should Iraq slip into anarchy. The loss of Iraq’s 5 million barrels/day of crude would crater the market for crude – and in these economically febrile times, this might be enough to tip the global economy into recession.

But that would be ‘small beer’ compared to the risk that the US is running in tempting ‘The Fates’ over a regional war that reaches Israel.

But is there a wider message connecting these Middle East protests with those erupting across Latin America? One analyst has coined the term for this era, as an Age of Anger disgorging from “serial geysers” of discontent across the globe from Equador to Chile to Egypt. His theme is that neoliberalism is everywhere – literally – burning.

We have noted before, how the US sought to leverage the unique consequences arising from two World Wars, and the debt burden that they bequeathed, to award itself dollar hegemony, as well the truly exceptional ability to issue fiat credit across the globe at no cost to the US (the US simply ‘printed’ its fiat credit). US financial institutions could splurge credit around the world, at virtually no cost – and live off the rent which those investments returned. But ultimately that came at a price: The limitation – to being the global rentier – has become evident through disparities of wealth, and through the incremental impoverishment of the American middle classes that the concomitant off-shoring brought about. Well-paid jobs evaporated, even as America’s financialised banking balance sheet ballooned across the globe.

But there was perhaps another aspect to this present Age of Anger. It is TINA: ‘There is no alternative’. Not because of an absence of potentiality – but because alternatives were crushed. At the end of two World Wars, there was an understanding of the need for a different way-of-being; an end to the earlier era of servitude; a new society; a new social contract. But it was short-lived.

And – long story, short – that post-war longing for ‘fairness’ (whatever that meant) has been squeezed dry; ‘other politics or economics’ of whatever colour, has been derided as ‘fake news’ – and in the wake of the 2008 great financial crisis, all sorts of safety-nets were sacrificed, and private wealth ‘appropriated’ for the purpose of the re-building of bank balance sheets, preserving the integrity of debt, and for keeping interest rates low. People became ‘individuals’ – on their own – to sort out their own austerity. Is it then, that people now are feeling both impoverished materially by that austerity, and impoverished humanly by their new era servitude?

The Middle East may pass through today’s present crises (or not), but be aware that, in their despair in Latin America, the ‘there is no alternative’ meme is becoming reason for protestors ‘to burn the system down’. That is what happens when alternatives are foreclosed (albeit in the interests of preserving ‘us’ from system collapse).

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