من الخارج إلى الداخل وبالعكس: آل سلمان و«قدر» طهران ودمـشق

ابراهيم الأمين

الإثنين 10 أيار 2021

لن يكون بمقدور اللبنانيين تغيير عاداتهم بصورة جدية. لا في الكلام ولا في الأكل ولا في التصرف ولا حتى بالتفكير. إلى الآن، لا يزال كثيرون يكرّرون عبارات من نوع «لن يتركونا نغرق» أو «الجميع بحاجة إلى لبنان» أو «لبنان رسالة يحتاجها العالم» أو «كلفة انهيار لبنان على العالم أكبر من كلفة إنقاذه»، إلى آخره من النظريات التي تعكس فهماً بالمقلوب لما يجري في العالم من حولنا. ومن يتمسّك بهذا المنطق، يهدف عملياً إلى أمرين:

الأول، عدم رغبته بتعديل طريقة تفكيره أو التصرف وفق منطق حياة جديد.

الثاني، استمرار لعبة التعمية على الحقائق القوية التي قامت بفعل المعارك الكونية في منطقتنا طوال العقد الماضي.

يأتي وزير خارجية فرنسا إلى بيروت، ونشهد استنفاراً سياسياً وإعلامياً وخلافه، لكن أحداً من كلّ الذين تابعوا الزيارة أثناء التحضير لها وبعد حصولها، أو الذين شاركوا في الاجتماعات معه، لا يقدر على أن يعطينا عبارة وحيدة مفيدة. وبدل محاولة فهم خلفية الزيارة وواقع الرجل نفسه، وحجم نفوذ وقوة تأثير بلاده، ننشغل في التأويل والتحليل، الذي يُراد له أن ينتهي على شكل أن في لبنان كتلة تغيير قوية تمثل «الغالبية الصامتة» وهي جاهزة لتسلّم البلاد، بانتخابات أو من دونها…

هو نوع من الهزل. ولكن، من دون أن يبدو الكلام عن مشكلتنا استهتاراً بموقع اللبنانيين الحالي، من الضروري تكرار ما يجب أن يُقال حول حاجة البلاد إلى خارج يساعد على معالجة أزماتها السياسية والأمنية والاقتصادية. وهذا بحدّ ذاته أمر يعيدنا إلى المربع الأول، حيث الجد مكان المزاح، وحيث حقيقة أن ما يجري في الإقليم، له أثره الأول على الصنف الحالي من أزماتنا. وبالتالي، ينبغي السؤال عن طبيعة القوى الإقليمية والدولية الأكثر تأثيراً في لبنان.

خلال العقد الأخير، ثمة دول لم تعدل بوصة في آلات قياسها للأزمة اللبنانية. لم تغير لا في استراتيجيتها ولا في أهدافها ولا في تحالفاتها ولا في برامج عملها، وأبرز هذه الدول، هي سوريا وإيران وإسرائيل وتركيا. لكن الدول الأخرى باشرت بإدخال تعديلات على استراتيجياتها. هي دول تقودها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وتساعدها بريطانيا، وأبرز عناصرها السعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة وقطر. علماً أننا ما زلنا في مرحلة قياس الدور الجديد لدول انضمّت إلى ساحتنا ودورها الذي يزداد فعالية مع الوقت، مثل روسيا أولاً والصين ثانياً.

المحور الذي تقوده الولايات المتحدة دخل مرحلة إعادة النظر في أمور كثيرة، نتيجة المقاصة المنطقية التي أجرتها دوله في ضوء ما حصل في العقد الأخير. هذا لا يعني أن العالم سيتغير، لكن الأكيد أن تغييرات كبيرة ستطرأ على قواعد اللعبة، وأن بلداناً مثل لبنان، ستتأثر كثيراً بهذه التغييرات. وهنا يصبح السؤال مشروعاً: كيف سيتعامل اللبنانيون مع هذه التغييرات، هل سيصبحون أكثر واقعية ويتخلّون عن البهورات والبهلوانيات والادعاءات والتبجح، وهل بينهم من يبادر إلى تحمل مسؤولية أفعاله في السنوات الماضية، فيبادر إلى الانسحاب أو إعادة التموضع، أو أننا – وهذا هو الأرجح – سنكون أمام فصل جديد من المكابرة والإنكار، الذي يترك أثره على المناخ العام للبلاد، ويقلّل فرص استفادة لبنان من المتغيرات الحاصلة من حولنا.

يرغب الفريق الحاكم بجناحي السلطة والمعارضة باستئناف حياة الاستهلاك، وجلّ ما يريده تمويلاً وديوناً جديدة


يقول دبلوماسي مخضرم يشارك في وساطات دولية، إن مشكلة قسم غير قليل من اللبنانيين، أنه لم يفهم طبيعة التغيير الذي حصل في العقد الأخير حول دور الدول المتوسطة والدول الكبرى. ويشرح كيف أن خطط الإدارات الأميركية الأخيرة، وخصوصاً مع دونالد ترامب، دفعت نحو تعزيز دور الدول ذات الحضور الإقليمي الكبير، وعدم رهن الأمور بحسابات الدول الكبرى. ويشرح من جهة ثانية، أن النفوذ يمكن ممارسته من قِبل دول لا تملك بالضرورة وضعية اقتصادية كبيرة مثل الدول الكبرى، ويعطي على ذلك مثال الدور السوري التاريخي في لبنان، والذي لطالما كان أكثر فعالية وأكثر قوة حتى من الولايات المتحدة وأوروبا. وإن هذا الأمر يتكرّر في السنوات الأخيرة مع دول مثل تركيا وإيران، وإن السعودية نفسها، عدّلت في سياستها وتركت موقع «الحياد النسبي» لتقترب من «موقع المبادر» كونها شعرت بالقدرة على لعب دور أكبر، وهو دور جرّبت دول أقل قوة ممارسته في ساحات المنطقة مثل الإمارات العربية المتحدة وقطر، بينما ابتعدت عن المشهد دول ذات حجم كبير مثل مصر.

وإذا ما جرت مقاربة الوضع اللبناني الحالي، يمكن باختصار التثبت من عنصرَين، واحد يتعلّق بطبيعة المشكلة الاقتصادية القائمة، حيث يرغب الفريق الحاكم بجناحي السلطة والمعارضة باستئناف حياة الاستهلاك، وجلّ ما يريده تمويلاً وديوناً جديدة. وعنصر آخر يتصل بالتعقيدات السياسية والتوترات الأمنية والعسكرية، خصوصاً بعد الأزمة السورية وما يجري في العراق، وهذا يعني، أن القوى القادرة على ممارسة نفوذ، هي القوة المؤهلة لذلك بفعل حضورها ودورها. وكل ذلك، يقول لنا بأن اللبنانيين مجبرون على النظر من حولهم، والتدقيق في نوعية التغييرات القائمة، وأن يقوموا بالحسابات وفق معادلات رياضية سليمة، حتى ولو كانت النتائج غير مناسبة لبعضهم.

لا داعي لإهمال العناصر الداخلية للأزمة، لكن من الضروري محاولة معرفة ما يجري حولنا:

أين أصبحت المفاوضات الإيرانية – الأميركية؟ وما هي نتائج جولات الاتصالات الإيرانية – السعودية؟ وماذا جرى بين سوريا وكل من السعودية وقطر والإمارات ومصر؟ وماذا تخطّط تركيا بشأن سوريا أيضاً؟ وماذا عن التطورات داخل التيارات الإسلامية صاحبة الدور الأكبر خلال العقد الأخير في لبنان وسوريا والمنطقة؟

 آل سلمان و«قدر» طهران ودمـشق

من الخارج إلى الداخل وبالعكس    [2]: آل سلمان و«قدر» طهران ودمـشق

على غرار عمل العصابات التي يدعو بعضها بعضاً الى «التهدئة» في حالة وصول ضباط جدد الى مواقع المسؤولية في القوى الأمنية، سارع الفريق الخاص بوليّ العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان الى استراتيجية «خفض الرأس» بمجرد إقرار الرئيس الاميركي السابق دونالد ترامب بنتائج الانتخابات الرئاسية الاميركية. تصرّف «الدب الداشر» وفريقه على أن الجميع ملزم بمراقبة خطوات إدارة جو بايدن الجديدة تجاه المنطقة. وكل الكلام الذي سمعوه عن رغبة في تغيير طريقة التعامل مع السعودية، لم يجعله في موقع الخائف من تطورات كبيرة ونوعية. وبوشر الإعداد لفريق جديد يتولى إطلاق حملة علاقات عامة مع مفاصل الإدارة الجديدة، والتقصّي من الموظفين الدائمين في الإدارة عن المؤشرات المقلقة. وظل الجميع في حالة انتظار، الى أن تم إبلاغهم، مطلع شباط الماضي، نيّة ساكن البيت الأبيض الجديد، البعث برسالة عامة تصيب السعودية، لكنها تستهدف تقديم شعارات جديدة. وكما يبرع الديموقراطيون، قرروا إعلاء شأن صورة أميركا الحامية للقيم وحقوق الانسان. وهي حيلة لا تزال تنطلي على كثيرين في العالم. لكن محمد بن سلمان فهم أن الرسالة تتعلق بتصفية جمال خاشقجي. وكل ما قام به هو البعث برسالة «تنبيه» الى من يهمه الأمر في واشنطن، من أن الذهاب بعيداً في خطوات ضد حكمه، ينذر بانقلاب كبير في العلاقات السعودية – الاميركية، وأنه مستعد لهذه المغامرة.

كلّف وليّ العهد السعودي شقيقه خالد بمتابعة الملف، حتى تاريخ صدور التقرير الخاص بالاستخبارات الأميركية بشأن قتل خاشقجي، والذي فهمه آل سلمان على أنه «إدانة لولي العهد من دون إصدار حكم يوجب خطوات تنفيذية». لكن الملك دعا أولاده والمقربين من العائلة الى اجتماعات متفرقة، كان أبرزها بين محمد وخالد، حيث تم التفاهم على إعداد استراتيجية قصيرة المدى تستهدف «استرضاء الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة». هذه الوجهة كانت لها حساباتها الإضافية، وهو ما عاد خالد نفسه وأبلغه الى من يهمه الأمر داخل المملكة وخارجها، موجزاً الخطة السياسية الجديدة بعناصر محددة:

أولاً: إن العائلة الحاكمة ستتصدى بكل الأساليب لأي محاولة انقلابية تدعمها الولايات المتحدة أو أي طرف خارجي. واتخذت خطوات داخلية هدفت الى إفهام المعارضين أو الطامحين إلى أدوار جديدة أن الأمر لن يحصل ولو كانت كلفته كبيرة.

ثانياً: إن الرياض مستعدة لإعادة النظر في برامج سياساتها العامة في المنطقة، من دون تنازل يجعلها ضعيفة وينعكس على الحكم داخلياً. وفي حال كانت واشنطن قد اتخذت قراراها النهائي بالعودة الى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، وتهدئة الجبهات في الشرق الأوسط، فإن السعودية نفسها لا ترى مانعاً في القيام بالخطوات نفسها. وهي مستعدة للبدء فوراً بمحادثات مع إيران لتهدئة الأمور معها.

ثالثاً: إعداد استراتيجية لإنهاء الحرب في اليمن وفق تصور يمنح المملكة أثماناً كبيرة على صعيد تركيبة الوضع السياسي اللاحق، وإظهار الرغبة في التوصل الى اتفاق ولو كان على حساب بعض حلفائهم اليمنيين، وخصوصاً أتباع الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

رابعاً: عدم تنفيذ الخطوات التي كانت منتظرة في شأن التطبيع مع إسرائيل، والتفاهم مع تل أبيب على الأمر، من زاوية أن إقدام الرياض على خطوة من هذا النوع سيزيد من مستوى التوتر مع إيران ومع قوى أخرى، وسيعقّّد مهمة وقف حرب اليمن، عدا عن كون المناخ العام في العالم العربي لم يكن شديد الترحيب بالتطبيع، رغم كل الجهود التي مارستها الحكومات ووسائل إعلامها.

شرعت قطر في اتصالات مباشرة مع الرئيس الأسد وحكومته، كما هي حال تركيا التي بعثت بما يناسب من رسائل!


خامساً: الذهاب الى استراتيجية تعاون جديدة في العالم العربي تتطلب رفع مستوى التنسيق مع العراق، واستئناف التواصل مع سوريا، ودرس خيار التحالف الذي يجمع السعودية بمصر ودول عربية أخرى، وتطبيع العلاقات مع قطر وسلطنة عمان بما يخفف من التوتر داخل الجزيرة العربية.

استراتيجية فريق ابن سلمان راقت وسطاء كثراً في المنطقة، ولا سيما رئيس الحكومة العراقي مصطفى الكاظمي، الذي يحظى برعاية لدوره الإقليمي من قبل بريطانيا والولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وهو يملك أصلاً الصلات المناسبة مع إيران وقوى بارزة في محور المقاومة. ودور الكاظمي سمح للسعودية بحركة تعفيها من منح أي أوراق لخصومها الخليجيين، ولا سيما الدوحة ومسقط، ثم أنها لم تقرر تبدلاً جوهرياً في اتجاه بناء علاقة من نوع مختلف مع تركيا، وإنْ كانت تحدثت عن أنها ساعدت مصر والإمارات العربية المتحدة في معركتهما ضد تيار «الإخوان المسلمين». وهو ما عاد خالد بن سلمان وعرضه في اجتماع عمل تفصيلي عقد في الرياض مع أحد مساعدي مصطفى الكاظمي، تحضيراً للخطوات اللاحقة.

قال السعوديون إنهم مستعدون للاجتماع فوراً بالإيرانيين، وهم يفضّلون بغداد مكاناً للاجتماع، وليس لديهم جدول أعمال محدد، لأن الاجتماع الأول هدفه كسر الجليد، وإعادة التواصل المباشر، والإعداد لجولات جديدة تستهدف عرض كل نقاط الخلاف والتوتر بين الجانبين. وطلب ابن سلمان من الكاظمي أن يكون الاجتماع الأول على مستوى القيادات الأمنية، وإن حضره موظفون كبار في وزارة الخارجية، وهو ما وافقت عليه طهران. وعندما توجّه الوفدان الى بغداد، كان الكاظمي في استقبالهما، مرحِّباً ومُبدياً الاستعداد لكل ما يسهّل التحاور والتوصل الى تفاهم، قبل أن ينسحب من القاعة تاركاً مندوبه الرفيع المستوى يشارك في الاجتماع الذي شابه بعض التوتر إزاء مداخلات متبادلة، حمّل فيه كل طرف الجانب الآخر مسؤولية التدهور في العلاقات الثنائية وفي أوضاع المنطقة، قبل أن يعود الجميع الى الاستماع الى جدول أعمال إيراني تراوح بين استئناف العلاقات الدبلوماسية بالتدرّج وصولاً الى كيفية إدارة موسم الحج. لكن الجميع كان يعرف أن الأمر لا يتعلق بهذه البنود الآن، بل بملفّين رئيسّين: الأول، هو مستقبل علاقات دول الخليج مع إسرائيل، والثاني هو ملف حرب اليمن.

للمرة الأولى، كان السعوديون يتحدثون بلغة لا تنسجم مع كل سياساتهم المعلنة أو المطبّقة، إذ أكدوا أن «خادم الحرمين الشريفين لن يقيم علاقات مع إسرائيل من دون حلّ يؤمّن دولة للفلسطينيين تكون عاصمتها القدس». وأضافوا «أن السعودية لا تستهدف أمن الآخرين في أيّ خطوة تقوم بها»، ليطلبوا مباشرة تدخلاً إيرانياً مباشراً لأجل «ردع الحوثيين وإقناعهم بقبول مبادرة الرياض لوقف الحرب في اليمن».

لم يخرج الجميع من الاجتماع برضى كامل، لكنّ الكاظمي كان يتوقع الأسوأ لو أن التوتر تحكم في المفاوضين، وهو يعرف أن اللقاء سيكون تمهيداً لجولات جديدة بمستويات رفيعة أكثر، وخصوصا أنه كان قد أطلق مسارات عديدة للتفاوض مع إيران، بينها مع مصر والأردن وكذلك مع الإمارات العربية المتحدة، التي حاولت إظهار التمايز في ملفات عديدة، من بينها ملف سوريا، لجهة أنها قادرة على لعب دور كبير بمساعدة مصر في إقناع السعودية بالعودة الى العلاقات مع دمشق، والدفع نحو معالجة موقع سوريا في الجامعة العربية، والبدء بمشروع تفاوض مع الأميركيين والأوروبيين لأجل تأمين قرار يرفع الغطاء عن عملية إعادة إعمار سوريا.

مضمون الاجتماعات نقله كل طرف الى حلفائه. صحيح أن السعودية ليست مضطرة الى إبلاغ مصر أو الإمارات بكامل التفاصيل، لكنها حرصت على إبلاغ الأميركيين، علماً بأن مسؤولاً كبيراً في الرياض قال إن واشنطن ستكون قد اطّلعت من الكاظمي على كل ما يحصل. لكنّ إيران بادرت الى إبلاغ حلفائها من دول وقوى بارزة، في سوريا ولبنان والعراق واليمن، بمضمون المحادثات. كذلك جرى إطلاع قوى فلسطينية على الأمر. وكان واضحاً للجميع أن السعودية ترحّب بقوة بتخفيض مستوى التوتر، لكنها كانت تعرف مسبّقاً أن الخطوة السعودية لا تعكس مبادرة حقيقية بقدر ما تعكس «رغبة» في مواكبة التغييرات الجارية بسبب استئناف المفاوضات حول الاتفاق النووي مع الولايات المتحدة والغرب. ومع ذلك، فإن الإيرانيين الذين أبدوا استعداداً للمساعدة في معالجة أزمة اليمن، كانوا أكثر صراحة في إشارتهم الى أن الأمر يتطلب مفاوضات مباشرة مع أنصار الله، وكل تقدير بأن طهران تقدر أن تفرض على صنعاء خيارات هو مجرد وهم.

ومع ذلك، فإن الجانب السعودي عاد وكرر في اتصالات إضافية، كما فعلت دول أوروبية، ضرورة أن تبادر طهران الى الضغط على أنصار الله. وفي زيارة وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف لمسقط ضمن جولته الخليجية، عقد اجتماع عمل مطوّل مع ممثل أنصار الله في المفاوضات الخارجية، محمد عبد السلام، وبدا أن ظريف معني بشرح وجهات النظر التي تتطلب «لجوء أنصار الله الى تدوير الزوايا» في المفاوضات التي بدأت ثم تعطّلت مع الموفد الأميركي. ومع أن ظريف لم يكن يطلب مباشرة أو يحاول فرض وجهة نظر معينة، إلا أن عبد السلام كان شديد الوضوح في التعبير عن موقف «أنصار الله» لناحية أن وقف الحرب يعني وقفاً شاملاً لكل الحرب وليس لبعض العمليات العسكرية، وأن العودة إلى المفاوضات رهن بتجاوب الطرف الأميركي – السعودي مع المطالب الإنسانية الخاصة برفع الحصار عن المطار والموانئ والمعابر الحدودية لليمن مع جواره. حتى إن عبد السلام كان شديد الصراحة في قوله إن قوات الجيش واللجان الشعبية قادرة على حسم معركة مأرب سريعاً والدخول الى المدينة، لكن الأمر لا يتعلق بحسابات عسكرية، بل بحسابات الواقع الأهلي، وإن تجميد الهجوم الكبير يرتبط بالجانب الإنساني، وهو أكثر ما يمكن أن تقدمه صنعاء بانتظار جواب واشنطن والرياض على مقترح العلاجات الإنسانية.

«العائلة الحاكمة السعودية ستتصدى بكل الأساليب لأي محاولة انقلابية تدعمها الولايات المتحدة أو أي طرف خارجي»


هناك أمور كثيرة تتعلق بالمفاوضات السعودية – الإيرانية وما يجري من اتصالات بشأن اليمن، لكن الخطوة السعودية التالية كانت في توسيع دائرة «خفض التوتر»، وهنا دارت من جديد محركات الوسطاء العرب من أكثر من جهة، ترتيباً لأول تواصل نوعي مع القيادة السورية. وفي دمشق، لم يكن الرئيس بشار الأسد في غفلة عمّا يجري في العالم، وعمّا يجري من حول سوريا على وجه التحديد. وهو أوصى العاملين في فريقه بأن سوريا لم تبدأ الحرب ضد أحد، وهي ليست مستعدة لمراعاة أحد في أمور استراتيجية، لكنها مستعدة للانفتاح الذي يفيد سوريا أولاً، ويفيد العرب ثانياً. ولذلك كان الفريق السوري المكلف باستقبال وفد سعودي في دمشق مجهّزاً بأجوبة مُعدّة حول الأسئلة المتوقعة من الجانب السعودي، الذي بادر الى محاولة تبرئة نفسه من أصل الحرب على سوريا، وأن الأمر يتعلق بالأوضاع التي سادت المنطقة والعالم، وأن الرياض مستعدة لاستئناف العلاقات مع دمشق، ولكن لديها أسئلة مباشرة تحتاج الى إجابات عنها، وهي تتركز على مستقبل الوضع السياسي الداخلي في سوريا، وإمكان التوصّل الى اتفاق يتيح تأليف حكومة جديدة بمشاركة قوى بارزة في المعارضة، والإشارة الى وجود آليات عمل لدى السعودية ودول أخرى تتيح المشاركة في إعادة إعمار سوريا من دون انتظار أيّ قرار دولي بما خصّ العقوبات. لكنّ وجه الموفد السعودي صار مختلفاً عندما سأل نظيره السوري: هل تفكرون في ترك التحالف مع إيران وحزب الله وإخراج قواتهما من سوريا والذهاب نحو تحالف عربي يواجه تركيا؟

لم يكن السعوديون يتوقعون جواباً مختلفا عمّا سمعوه سابقاً، إذ كرر المسؤول السوري الترحيب بالحوار، لكنه شدّد على أن دمشق لا تحتاج الى حوارات سرية وعلاقات من تحت الطاولة، بل الى خطوات مباشرة وواضحة في شأن استئناف العلاقات الدبلوماسية والتجارية وغيره ذلك. أما بشأن العلاقة مع إيران وحزب الله، فكان الموقف السوري شديد البساطة والوضوح: «عندما جئتم جميعاً ودعمتم حرب تدمير سوريا وإسقاط الدولة والنظام، كانت إيران وحزب الله إلى جانبنا، وليس لهذين الطرفين أيّ تدخّل في ما نقرّره بشأن الوضع الداخلي أو استراتيجية علاقاتنا مع الخارج، لكنّهم ليسوا مجرّد أصدقاء أو حلفاء في معركة، بل هم أكثر من ذلك بكثير».
بالمناسبة، والى أن يقرّر أحد الطرفين الإعلان، فإن ما يحاول البعض التكتّم عليه هو شروع قطر في اتصالات مباشرة مع الرئيس الأسد وحكومته، كما هي حال تركيا التي بعثت بما يناسب من رسائل!

غداً: فيينا، وحيرة أميركا إزاء إيران

Syria comes in from the cold: Saudi-Syria relationship warms up

May 8, 2021

Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is embarking on a new beginning that could change the Middle East.   To enhance security and stability, a Saudi delegation headed by the head of the intelligence service, Lieutenant General Khaled Al-Humaidan, visited Damascus on Monday and met Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and the Vice President for Security Affairs, Major General Ali Mamlouk. The talks were aimed at restoring diplomatic relations after a ten-year pause, reported the private London-based Arabic daily, Rai Al-Youm

Saudi Arabia will reopen its embassy in Damascus following continuing talks planned in Damascus after the end of Ramadan, and the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The Syrian ambassador to Lebanon issued a positive statement on the topic. 

Lebanon remains at the core of Saudi interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and the assistance of Damascus in stabilizing Lebanon is crucial. A US State Department assessment in 2020 found evidence that Damascus was regaining its pre-eminent place in Lebanese politics. Following the collapse of Lebanese banks, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has worked towards making Riyadh a player in Lebanon again, and the Saudis need President Assad on their side to help shape the region.

Saudi Arabia is recalibrating its foreign policy and repairing relations with its neighbors as it works to stop the influence of global powers in the region. The visit to Damascus comes after the UAE and Bahrain have publically shown support for the Assad administration in recent years.

Giorgio Cafiero, CEO, and founder of Gulf State Analytics, a geopolitical risk consultancy based in Washington, said “The Saudis have to be pragmatic in how they deal with Syria. It’s very clear that Damascus isn’t on the verge of falling and I think the Saudis are coming to terms with the inevitable in moving toward some sort of rapprochement with Syria,” he said. “It’s important to realize that as Assad has proven triumphant on the ground and as the Saudis have deepened their relationship with Russia,” said Cafiero. “We need to keep in mind that Syria is very much in need of reconstruction and redevelopment and the Syrian government is going to want help from the wealthy Gulf countries, so this is certainly a card that the Saudis can play at some point – to support reconstruction with deep pockets,” said Cafiero.

Syria would also be able to lobby Washington indirectly through Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to lift sanctions, and thereby access the funds being offered by the Gulf states to rebuild Syria. The UAE has publicly called for the removal of US Caesar Act sanctions, and is delivering regular medical aid and helping to facilitate Syria’s regional rehabilitation. The Emirati foreign minister had declared that “the return of Syria to its environment is inevitable and is in the interest of Syria and the region as a whole, and the biggest challenge facing coordination and joint work with Syria is the Caesar Act.”

Algeria is insisting that Syria be readmitted to the Arab League, and the UAE has restored ties with Syria as it seeks to contain Turkish expansion. The UAE, a Saudi ally, reopened its embassy in Damascus in December 2019 in an attempt to re-engage with Syria. Oman and the UAE, have recently rekindled ties with the Syrian government.  Iraq, another Syrian ally, has also pushed for Damascus to rejoin the Arab League. 

Iraq is turning to Syria as a transit route for Egyptian gas imports. Iraqi oil minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail said on April 29 that discussions have opened with his Syrian counterpart Bassam Toumeh. “We have a common vision about the possibility of steering and moving Egyptian gas through Syria land,” a spokesman for the Iraqi oil ministry said.

The Arab Gas Pipeline runs from Egypt to Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, with the Syrian section having been completed in 2008. Gas exports from Egypt to Iraq would flow through an extension to the pipeline. 

The Akkas gas field is in western Al-Anbar province in Iraq, but the field development was put on hold while the area was occupied by ISIS.  However, both the Syrian and Iraqi governments control the areas on both sides of the border, and Iraq has planned to supply surplus gas to Syria.  US-based energy firm Schlumberger is to lead a consortium to develop Akkas, a project that also involves Saudi companies.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Saudi Arabia in March, sending signals to Washington that the Saudis are seeming to inch closer to the Russian position on Syria. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said in a joint press conference with Lavrov, “We are keen to coordinate with all parties, including Russia, to find a solution to the Syrian crisis.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz met with the Russian president’s special envoy for Syrian settlement affairs Alexander Lavrentiev, the day before meeting with Lavrov, and discussed the latest developments in Syria.

Sami Hamdi, the editor-in-chief at The International Interest, says that the Saudi displeasure with the Biden administration has something to do with the shift as well. “Bin Salman may also have eyes on deepening ties with Russia as Riyadh becomes increasingly disillusioned with Washington. Engaging with Syria is likely to increase Saudi-Russia ties and cooperation,” Hamdi said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Russia have coordinated well on the issue of oil within the OPEC framework and the pursuit of market equilibrium.

Iraq has played host recently to Saudi Arabia and Iran in last month’s direct talks that officials hope will defuse the tension between the two regional powers. Talks behind closed doors between the two were held in Baghdad as senior representatives from both worked to find common ground. The Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported that the discussions which started in Baghdad will continue.

Iran will also urge Saudi Arabia to recognize President Assad as the legitimate leader of Syria, paving the way for Syria’s re-entry into the Arab League. This may be timed to coincide with the outcome of the Syrian presidential election on May 26. 

The Saudi, Jordan, Syria highway for the movement of goods and people is now open.  Jordan held the key and has opened the border crossing with Saudi Arabia at Al-Omari post, while also opening the Jaber crossing into Syria, which is called Nassib on the Syrian side.

The Saudi-UAE reset with Syria sends a clear message to the Biden administration: you want to restart relations with Iran, and we want to restart relations with Syria.

 Saudi Arabia will push for a solution to the Syrian crisis and that will place the interests of the region above all else, even if they conflict with Washington.

The US-allied Gulf Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, were the main regional backers of armed groups opposed to the Syrian government, providing finance and weapons as part of a program of support for the armed opposition coordinated by Washington.

The Syrian battleground has provided fertile ground to feed extremism among the region’s youth, as radical groups can use social media. By pushing for a solution in Syria and the return of Damascus to the Arab fold, would end the use of Syria as a battlefield for conflicting regional and international agendas.

The US State Department responded to the Emirati foreign minister’s statements on Tuesday regarding the effects of the US “Caesar Act” on the lives of Syrians, by claiming the sanctions have nothing to do with the humanitarian crisis in Syria, even though medical supplies and equipment are forbidden by US-EU sanctions.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist

’Israel’ Worried About Possible Iranian-Saudi Rapprochement

7/5/2021

’Israel’ Worried About Possible Iranian-Saudi Rapprochement

By Staff

Zionist milieus voiced concerns regarding a possible rapprochement between Saudi Arabia on the one side and Iran and Syria on the other side; something that will make Tel Aviv’s hopes to form an axis with some Arabs against the Axis of Resistance go with the wind.

The increasing fears from a possible Saudi-Iranian and Saudi-Syrian approachment among the Zionists were reflected in remarks by ‘Israeli’ analysts and media outlets.

The diplomatic move between Riyadh-Tehran and Riyadh-Damascus was seen as a bothering indicator to Tel Aviv and a beginning to abort the Zionist bet on an ‘Israeli’-Gulf alliance against Iran.

In this regard, Zionist political analyst Moav Vardi asked: “Aren’t these bad news for ‘Israel’? ‘Israel’ and the United States formed an alliance with the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia in a united front against Iran. This is starting to collapse and the Saudis started recognizing that [US President Joe] Biden won’t be offensive [towards Iran].”

For his part, ‘Israeli’ Kan Arabic Affairs Correspondent Roi Kais said “I believe that such news are worrying for ‘Israel’. In case it tended to carry out any operation against Iran, it should know that it cannot ultimately rely on these countries that are moving between different axes. This doesn’t only apply to Saudi Arabia but also to other Gulf countries.”

The Zionist views to this diplomatic move come in the course of revising the regional scene amid the policy of confronting the Axis of Resistance and the transformations taking place within the US policy in handling regional and international issues.

Vardi added that “Saudi Arabia has been Iran and Syria’s bitterest enemy over the course of war in Syria, and we are now witnessing new winds between Tehran and Riyadh, and perhaps Damascus, and this is a major development in the region.”

Meanwhile, Kais said “There is no doubt that Trump’s loss in the US elections dealt a strong blow to Mohammad Bin Salman, while Biden is returning to the nuclear deal. I believe that bin Salman has now to change his direction and start getting used to the new reality, adding that he failed to end the Yemen war as he didn’t make any achievements on that front.”

The ‘Israeli’ enemy’s milieu reflected, likewise, complete desperation towards the Gulf-Syrian ties that are moving forward to normal after the gulf-backed efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad have proved futile.

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The forthcoming inevitable battle for Middle-East Peace

May 05, 2021

The forthcoming inevitable battle for Middle-East Peace

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The alleged stray ground-to-air Syrian missile that landed near the nuclear reactor in Dimona Israel carried many messages; both overt and covert.

And, as if the fact that this missile managed to penetrate Israel’s formidable ‘Iron Dome’ was not embarrassing enough for Israel, the official Israeli report alleged that the missile was actually Iranian-made; not Russian as initially perceived by the world.

In other words, the Israeli report is saying that its ‘Iron Dome’ has been easily penetrated by a missile that is 1) not meant to hit ground targets, 2) had already spent its fuel and maneuverability and was literally on a free fall trajectory by gravitation and not propulsion, 3) yet it penetrated the allegedly most advance air defense system in the world, and 4) above all, it was made in Iran; a nation ‘crippled by sanctions and governed by ‘fundamentalist Mullas’.

Seriously, Israel has never before admitted a defense failure that is even close to such similar proportions.

Ironically, almost simultaneously, Iran revealed photos of an American aircraft carrier taken by a drone; not to forget mentioning that Iran also revealed that it has developed kamikaze drones ready to attack any target within their range in the Gulf.

But the Dimona incident alone cannot be seen in isolation of the recent Russian ‘diplomacy’ initiatives in the Middle East. I have deliberately put the word diplomacy under inverted comas, because that Russian version of diplomacy has a side that proves its worth in both traditional diplomatic ways as well as ones that are unorthodox.

Russia has thus far been very tight-lipped about its objectives in the Middle East. My own analysis of it has landed me in hot water with Russian friends and media allies, and I accept their stand. Perhaps they do not want me to ‘spoil the hidden agenda’, but my role as an analyst is not going to stop, and their views, directives, and concerns will not make me feel guilty for expressing my analyses and predictions.

In this portrayal of recent regional political events in the Middle east, I am relying on bits of pieces of information from here and there, but the analysis of it all is based on my own understanding of what makes sense in combining all what is currently taking place. My analysis does not represent the views of any blog, news agency or government. I have expressed similar views earlier, but events keep progressing, and in every step of the way, it seems that my initial prediction about the Russian initiative in the Middle East was accurate. So here is an updated summary of it all with a bit repetition of earlier material for the benefit of first-time readers.

Ever since Russia responded to Syria’s request to offer military aid, Russia responded with accepting the request under certain conditions; conditions that stipulate a Syrian-Israeli peace settlement agreement.

But this wasn’t all. Putin’s Russia is trying to reverse what Kissinger did to Russia some forty years ago when he catapulted the USSR out of Middle East politics and conned Egypt into accepting a unilateral peace deal with Israel in the so-called Camp David Accords.

Ever since then, Russia has been deprived of a role to play in the Middle East, none at all, until Putin sent troops into Syria and thereby changing the status quo not only in the Middle East, but also heralding the end of the single global superpower status of the post USSR USA.

The post-USSR world has seen Russia suffering from huge American-based NATO encroachments in Eastern Europe, and the current impasse in Ukraine is only one aspect of it. Former Warsaw Pact nations have gone full dipole away from Russia and in cahoots with their new-found Western ‘allies’. The Stalin era might have left a bitter taste in the palate of some East European countries, but this was a long time ago, and nations like Poland and Ukraine surely must understand and know who are their historic regional and global allies. With the era of Nazism and Fascism in the dust bin of history that Europe would like to forget, even Germany and France ought to realize that today’s Russia cannot be associated with Stalin’s-USSR any more than today’s Germany and France can be associated with Hitler and Petain.

And, if Poland wants to remained mentally entrenched in the Stalin era and forget about who liberated it from Nazi occupation, it should look further back in history and remember that the partition of Poland in the 19th Century was not only orchestrated by the Russian Czars, but also in collaboration with Prussia and Austria.

As discussed in the previous article, the current animosity of Eastern European nations towards Russia is not something that can be rationally explained and justified.

Back to the Middle East.

Only Russia can broker a peace deal in the Middle East, a deal that includes not only Syria and Israel, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The main sticking elements in any such deal are Israel and Turkey, and to a lesser extent Iran.

In the same previous article mentioned above, I predicted a win-win scenario that Russia will broker between Iran and Saudi Arabia; one that guarantees the mutual withdrawal of Iran from Syria and Saudi Arabia from Yemen. As a matter of fact, a few days ago Saudi Crown Prince MBS announced that he wants to have a good relationship with Iran. Is this a sign that this deal is closer than we think? Perhaps not, but I cannot think of any other reason.

Turkey will undoubtedly want a bite of the cherry, and I not sure how will Russia be able to diplomatically appease Erdogan without giving him too much more than what he has taken already. However, his recent stand on Ukraine has put him in deep hot water with Russia and in any future bargains, he will find that his Ukraine venture will be used against him. He has deliberately introduced a bargaining chip that can be used only against himself.

This leaves Israel; how to bring Israel to the negotiating table for a deal that is unlike all previous American-brokered deals.

All American-brokered deals have thus far been based on providing Israel with the lion’s share and the Arab party with very little; especially when it came to making deals with the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, on top of the political and strategic gains that America delivered to Israel in all of those deals, America ensured that Israel continued to have military superiority and that Arabs would never be able to score a major military victory, even if united.

Despite the October 1973 (ie Yom Kippur War) and what followed it, all the way up to the July 2006 war with Hezbollah, and the humiliations that Israel suffered from all of those military engagements, Israel remains mentally entrenched in the euphoria of the huge Six-Day War win of June 1967 and what ensued afterwards, resulting in what can best be described as the invincible army complex.

Israel will not be prepared to sign a peace agreement with Syria while it believes that it continues to have this military superiority; the power to shape events in its favour. For Israel to change course and become more realistic, it needs either a new generation of political leaders who are more rational, or a reality check; a punishment if you wish.

This is why it is that, inasmuch as the corridors of negotiations are opening up and the tables are being prepared, so are the drums of war.

It is worthy to note here that major reconstructions have not begun in Syria yet. The underlying message here is that perhaps Syria is expecting more carnage, and that reconstruction will have to wait. Why reconstruct twice? In its current state of devastation, Syria has little to lose.

Israel, on the other hand, is in a very vulnerable situation, and the Dimona incident has exposed this gaping hole.

Syria has exercised great restraint in the face of the ongoing Israeli airstrikes. Even though an Israeli jet was downed a few years ago, by-and-large, Syria has remained non-respondent. We do not know exactly what is happening behind the scenes, but it seems that Israel is misreading Syria’s lack of response and seeing weakness, despite information from Russia that such is not the case. Israel will continue to act like the regional bully, refusing to sit at the negotiating table as an equal partner, unless it receives a significant hit.

This hit is not necessarily one that will cause much carnage in Israel such as civilian and military loss of life. Putin will not accept or allow such a level of devastation to be inflicted on Israel. After all, a significant fraction of Israel’s population is originally Russian. Putin, furthermore, is intent on convincing Israel that it is Russia, and not America, that can give Israel real peace with its Arab neighbours.

To this effect, Israel only needs to lose a few fighter-jets, ten, maybe twenty, finding itself unable to defend key military and strategic land targets in order for it to realize that the days of military superiority are gone.

The Dimona incident is a forewarning, but only if Israel wants to read in between the lines. Otherwise, there will be a war in the Middle East, a war that will be intended to be contained and limited to be a punch, a powerful punch, but not a knockout.

With this said, this is the Middle East, a very volatile region, with many volatile heads. A limited war aimed at showing who has muscle may end up spiraling out of control and into something very large. With experience of such unpredictability, Syria is presenting to Israel that a long war will bring more destruction upon Israel than it will on an already destroyed Syria.

What seems certain is that peace initiatives are on the table, but not all parties are yet convinced that they will attend such talks as equal partners before some arms are twisted and statures rattled.

SAUDI CROWN PRINCE CALLS ON HOUTHIS TO JOIN PEACE TALKS IN EXCHANGE FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT

South Front

28.04.2021

Saudi Crown Prince Calls On Houthis To Join Peace Talks In Exchange For Financial Support

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praised the “Arabian” and “Yemeni” qualities of the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in a recent interview.

The interview was aired on the Saudi state TV on April 28 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Crown Prince’s strategic development plan “Saudi Vision 2030”.

In the interview, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, criticizes the Houthis’ alliance with Iran and their rebellion against the legitimate authorities in Yemen in 2015. However, he voiced a rare praise of the Yemeni group.

“There is no doubt that the Houthis have strong relations with the Iranian regime, but in the end the Houthis are also Yemenis and have Arabian and Yemeni tendencies, which I wish would grow in them more and more so that they would follow their interests and the interests of their homeland before anything else,” the Crown Prince said.

Bin Salman went on to stress that Saudi Arabia would not accept the presence of “militias” along its border with Yemen. He went on to call on the Houthis to join peace talks in exchange for financial support from the Kingdom.

“The offer from Saudi Arabia is a ceasefire, economic support, and everything they want in exchange for a ceasefire signed by the Houthis and them sitting at the negotiating table,” Bin Salman explained.

The Crown Prince’s remarks show a dramatic shift in Saudi Arabia’s policy towards Yemen. For the first time in five years of war, the Kingdom appears to be willing to step back.

Earlier this year, the US ceased its support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen and suspended some arms sells to the Kingdom. The Houthis stepped up their strikes on Saudi Arabia and boosted their offensive against Saudi-backed forces in the central Yemeni province of Ma’rib.

The recent developments have apparently softened the tone of Saudi Arabia. The Houthis’ are yet to respond to Bin Salman’s offer.

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عمرو علان: موقع المحادثات السعودية الإيرانية المستجِدّة من الإعراب

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عمرو علان

يتسارع تتالي الأحداث في منطقتنا مؤخرا بعد ما دخلت أغلب مشاريع المحور الصهيوأميركي – العسكرية منها والسياسية – في مرحلة استعصاء أو وصلت إلى طريق مسدود، فباتت تعطي نتائج عكسية لما كانت تهدف إليه، ومن بين هذه الأحداث المتتالية توقيع اتفاقية إطار الشراكة الإستراتيجية الصينية الإيرانية، وسعي إدارة الرئيس بايدن الأمريكية إلى العودة إلى الاتفاقية النووية الإيرانية، ولعل آخر تلك الأحداث كان ما رشح عن لقاءات سعودية إيرانية في العراق من أجل تخفيض الاحتقان في المنطقة.

ليست هذه المرة الأولى التي تحصل فيها لقاءات سعودية إيرانية من هذا القبيل، لكن المختلف هذه المرة هو السياق الذي تأتي فيه هذه اللقاءات، فالسعودية اليوم تواجه استعصاء حقيقي في حربها على اليمن، إذا لم نقُل أنها على وشك خسارة الحرب، والحرب على سوريا باتت شبه محسومة لصالح الدولة السورية وحلفائها، والأميركي يتحضّر للتخفيف من أعباء منطقة غرب آسيا عموماً عبر إعادة تموضعه في الإقليم من أجل تركيز جهوده وموارده على مواجهة الصين وروسيا، وقد كان أشار لذلك صراحةً أنتوني بلينكن وزير خارجية الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في معرض حديثه عن قرار إدارة بايدن سحب القوات الأميركية من أفغانستان بحلول أيلول المقبل، ويمكن وضع رغبة الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة بالعودة إلى الالتزام بالاتفاقية النووية مع إيران ضمن هذه الفلسفة أيضا، ناهيكم عن فشل سياسة الضغط القصوى التي اتبعها دونالد ترامب في مواجهة إيران، ويضاف إلى كل هذا التراجع الملموس لكلِّ من القدرتين الأميركية والصهيونية على شن حروب عسكرية جديدة، حروب لم تعد مضمونة النتائج قياساً على نتائج الحروب الأخيرة التي خاضها هذان الطرفان بدءً من احتلال العراق 2003، مروراً بالهزيمة الإستراتيجية التي ألحقها حزب الله بالعدو الصهيوني في حرب تموز 2006. وصولاً إلى العدوان على غزة في 2014.

تأتي هذه المتغيرات الأساسية بعد كباش امتد لعقد ونصف من الزمن على أقل تقدير، وهي – أي المتغيرات – تعيد بالضرورة رسم خريطة موازين القوى في المنطقة لغير صالح المحور الصهيوأميركي، مما يفرض على حلفاء أميركا في المنطقة إعادة النظر في حساباتهم في محاولة منهم للخروج بأقل الخسائر، ويضع البعض القبول السعودي بفتح حوار جدي مع إيران – الذي طالما دعت إليه تلك الأخيرة – ضمن سياق المتغيرات آنفة الذكر، وهذا من شأنه منح هذه المحادثات فرصة أكبر للنجاح في تخفيف الاحتقان الإقليمي، لا سيما أنه من المرجح رضى الأميركي عنها بعكس المرات السابقة. ويبدو مما رشح لغاية الآن عن تلك المحادثات أنها حصلت في أجواء إيجابية رغم كون الطريق مازال في أوله، ورغم عدم خلوه من الأفخاخ الكثيرة بسبب تعقيد وتشابك الملفات الإقليمية، وبسبب طيش القرارات السعودية التي باتت سمة ولاية عهد محمد بن سلمان، لكن تفادي طرفي المحادثات تسريب أخبار عن هذه اللقاءات لغاية هذه اللحظة، وإنكارهما لحدوثها بدرجات متفاوتة يمكن عدّه مؤشرا على جديتهما في الوصول إلى نتائج ملموسة عوضاً عن مجرد تسجيل مواقف ونقاط إعلامية.

تقترب المنطقة مسرعة من لحظة الحقيقة، فإما أن تفضي المحادثات الإيرانية السعودية المستجدة في العراق، ومفاوضات جنيفا – الأهم – بين إيران وأميركا إلى توافقات تخفف من الاحتقان الإقليمي، وإلا فالإقليم متجه نحو جولات تصعيد خطيرة.

The Kingdom of Drug Trafficking Bans Lebanese Produce, Should Lebanon Have Banned Entry of Saudi Royals Since It Arrested ‘Captagon Prince’ in 2015?

24/4/2021

The Kingdom of Drug Trafficking Bans Lebanese Produce

By Staff, Agencies

Saudi Arabia announced on Friday a ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, blaming an increase in drug smuggling.

The Lebanese foreign ministry said it had been informed of the ban through the Saudi embassy and the foreign minister had relayed it to top officials.

The ban will take effect from 9:00 a.m. local time on Sunday.

According to Saudi Arabia’s SPA news agency, Saudi customs authorities at Jeddah had foiled an attempt to smuggle in more than 5.3 million Captagon pills, a type of amphetamine, hidden in pomegranate shipments from Lebanon, said Mohammed bin Ali al-Naim, undersecretary for security affairs at Saudi Customs.

It is a mere allegation which seems to contradict the fact that it was not autumn season, the time when Lebanon exports such produce.

Lebanese local media quoted the head of the country’s fruit and vegetable exporters, Naeem Khalil, as denying it was pomegranate season in Lebanon.

Khalil said the seized cargo could not have been Lebanese but had transited via Lebanon from Syria.

There is no doubt that “the Kingdom’s security is a red line”, as Saudi Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud said, commenting on the foiled smuggling attempt. However, the policy of banning imports of products should have been imposed after the seizure of 10 million and 10,000 Captagon pills at a border crossing with the United Arab Emirates [UAE] in December 2019.

However, at a time when those involved in drug trafficking, production or smuggling in Saudi Arabia are executed, their princes enjoy immunity, given that they are the widest route for the entrance of drugs into the Kingdom under the protection of the Riyadh regime.

Not long ago, Saudi princes had been involved in drug smuggling operations with a high level of professionalism.

In 1999, Saudi Prince Nayef bin Sultan smuggled two tons of cocaine from Venezuela to France. The French government accused him at the time of using his diplomatic status to smuggle drugs into a plane belonging to the Saudi royal family, but he managed to evade the verdict issued against him and he was convicted in absentia in 2007. The United States also accused him of conspiring to distribute cocaine, and it is now believed that Nayef bin Sultan is living in a legal shelter in Saudi Arabia.

Likewise, in 2015, Prince Abdul Mohsen, a member of the royal family, was arrested along with 4 other Saudis in Lebanon, after trying to smuggle two tons of drugs – Captagon pills and cocaine equivalent to 12 million pills – had been seized at Beirut International Airport in boxes with the phrase “Property of His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid Al Saud”.

Moreover, the “Captagon Prince” revealed that members of the ruling family were involved not only in drug abuse, but also in trafficking and smuggling them from Lebanon in a plane that enjoys royal immunity.

The most prominent drug addict according to news leaks from Saudi Arabia and what the famous Mujtahidd posts on his Twitter account is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS], who presents himself as the Kingdom’s reformist. In 2015, Mujtahidd confirmed that MBS consumes drugs and drinks alcohol and narcotics.

Nonetheless, the American investigative journalist, Michael Wolf, revealed in his 2019 book “Siege: Trump Under Fire” that MBS is addicted to cocaine and that the US administration is aware of his addiction; and that MBS disappears for days as a result of behaviors that affect his decisions due to his drug use.

This being said, Saudi Arabia claims that it is being targeted “by drug traffickers in Lebanon or by drugs that pass through Lebanese territories”. Accordingly, Riyadh, which has a reputation as the largest “hotspot” of drug and Captagon trade in the world, stopped importing more than 50,000 tons annually of Lebanese agricultural products.

Should Lebanon Have Banned Entry of Saudi Royals Since It Arrested ‘Captagon Prince’ in 2015?

Saudi prince Abdul Mohsen bin Waleed bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, aka Captagon Prince,

The Saudi authorities seized a pomegranate shipment in which captagon pills are hidden; consequently, KSA decided to ban the entry of all the Lebanese fruits and vegetables.

Head of Farmers Syndicate in Bekaa, Ibrahim Tarshishi, told Al-Manar that Lebanon has never exported pomegranate, adding the truck involved in the operation is not Lebanese.

Tarshishi added that Saudi is the biggest market which purchases the Lebanese agricultural products, hoping that the crisis gets resolved imminently.

It is worth noting that the Saudi authorities have never taken such punitive measures in dealing with similar cases, as upon seizing ten million captagon pills imported from UAE in 2019 and eight million captagon pills imported from Turkey in 2020.

In 2015, the Saudi prince Abdul Mohsen bin Waleed bin Abdul Mohsen bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, aka Captagon Prince, was arrested in Lebanon while attempting to smuggle two tone of captagon pills. Then, Saudi pressured the Lebanese authorities to release him.

Lebanon did not take punitive measures against the entire kingdom in 2015, yet KSA decided in 2021 to punish an entire nation over one marked pomegranate shipment. Finally, how will the Lebanese authorities deal with the Saudi decision?

Source: Al-Manar English Website

The plot against Jordan’s King Abdullah

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is pictured in Amman on 11 April 2021 (Yousef Allan/Jordanian Royal Palace/AFP)
David Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

David Hearst

14 April 2021 

Abdullah fell foul of the axis of Mohammed bin Salman and Benjamin Netanyahu after refusing to go along with the Trump plan to push West Bank Palestinians into Jordan

For once, just for once, US President Joe Biden got something right in the Middle East, and I say this conscious of his abysmal record in the region.

In accepting the intelligence he was passed by the Jordanians that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was up to his ears in a plot to destabilise the rule of King Abdullah, Biden brought the scheme to a premature halt. Biden did well to do so.

His statement that the US was behind Abdullah had immediate consequences for the other partner in this scheme, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.

While bin Salman was starving Jordan of funds (according to former Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, the Saudis have not provided any direct bilateral assistance since 2014), Netanyahu was starving the kingdom of water.

Without Washington’s overt support, King Abdullah would now be in serious trouble, the victim of a two-pronged offensive from Saudi Arabia and Israel

This is water that Israel siphons off the River Jordan. Under past agreements, Israel has supplied Jordan with water, and when Jordan asks for an additional amount, Israel normally agrees without delay. Not this year: Netanyahu refused, allegedly in retaliation for an incident in which his helicopter was refused Jordanian airspace. He quickly changed his mind after a call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to his counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi.

Had former US President Donald Trump still been in power, it is doubtful whether any of this would have happened.

Without Washington’s overt support, King Abdullah would now be in serious trouble: the victim of a two-pronged offensive from Saudi Arabia and Israel, his population seething with discontent, and his younger half-brother counting the days until he could take over.

The problem with Abdullah

But why were bin Salman and Netanyahu keen to put the skids under an ally like Abdullah?

Abdullah, a career soldier, is not exactly an opposition figure in the region. He of all people is not a Bashar al-Assad, Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

Abdullah was fully signed up to the counter-revolution against the Arab Spring. Jordan joined the Saudi-led anti-Islamic State coalition, deployed aircraft to target the Houthis in Yemen, and withdrew its ambassador from Iran after the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consul in Mashhad were sacked and Saudi Arabia consequently cut diplomatic relations.Jordan arrested senior suspect over contact with Saudi crown prince Read More »

He attended the informal summit on a yacht in the Red Sea, convened to organise the fight against the influence of Turkey and Iran in the Middle East. That was in late 2015.

In January 2016, Abdullah told US congressmen in a private briefing that Turkey was exporting terrorists to Syria, a statement he denied making afterwards. But the remarks were documented in a Jordanian foreign ministry readout passed to MEE.

Jordan’s special forces trained men that Libyan general Khalifa Haftar used in his failed attempt to take Tripoli. This was the pet project of the UAE.

Abdullah also agreed with the Saudis and Emiratis on a plan to replace Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Mohammed Dahlan, the Emirati- and Israeli-preferred choice of successor.

Why then, should this stalwart of the cause now be considered by his Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, an inconvenience that needs to be dealt with?

Insufficiently loyal

The answer partly lies in the psychology of bin Salman. It is not good enough to be partially signed up to his agenda. As far as he is concerned, you are either in or out. 

“But there is also a feeling [in Riyadh] that Jordan and others should be with us or against us. So we were not completely with them on Iran. We were not completely with them on Qatar. We were not completely with them on Syria. We did what we could and I don’t think we should have gone further, but to them, that was not enough.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomes Jordan's King Abdullah II to Riyadh on 8 March 2021 (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomes Jordan’s King Abdullah II to Riyadh on 8 March 2021 (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)

Abdullah’s equivocation certainly was not enough for the intended centrepiece of the new era, Saudi Arabia’s normalisation of relations with Israel.

Here, Jordan would have been directly involved and King Abdullah was having none of it. Had he gone along with the Trump plan, his kingdom – a careful balance between Jordanians and Palestinians – would have been in a state of insurrection.

In addition, Abdullah could not escape the fact that he was a Hashemite, whose legitimacy stems in part from Jordan’s role as custodian of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy sites in Jerusalem. This, too, was being threatened by the Al Sauds.

The importance of Aqaba

But the plan itself was regarded by both bin Salman and Netanyahu as too big to stop. I personalise this, because in both Saudi Arabia and Israel, there are experienced foreign policy and intelligence hands who appreciate how quickly this plan would have destabilised Jordan and Israel’s vulnerable eastern border.

The plan has been years in the preparation and the subject of clandestine meetings between the Saudi prince and the Israeli leader. At the centre of it lies Jordan’s sole access to the Red Sea, the strategic port of Aqaba.

The two cities of Aqaba and Ma’an were part of the kingdom of Hejaz from 1916 to 1925. In May 1925, Ibn Saud surrendered Aqaba and Ma’an and they became part of the British Emirate of Transjordan.

The price for turning on the tap of Saudi finance was too high for Abdullah to pay. It was total subservience to Riyadh

It would be another 40 years before the two independent countries would agree on a Jordan-Saudi border. Jordan got 19 kilometres of coastline on the Gulf of Aqaba and 6,000 square kilometres inland, while Saudi Arabia got 7,000 square kilometres of land.

For the new kid on the block, bin Salman, a prince who was always sensitive about his legitimacy, reclaiming Saudi influence over Aqaba in a big trade deal with Israel would be a big part of his claim to restoring Saudi dominance over its hinterland.

And the trade with Israel would be big. Bin Salman is spending $500bn constructing the city of Neom, which is eventually supposed to straddle Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Sitting at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, the Jordanian port would be firmly in Saudi sights.

This is where Bassem Awadallah, the former chief of Jordan’s royal court, comes in. Two years before he definitively broke with King Abdullah, and while he was still Jordan’s envoy to Riyadh, Awadallah negotiated the launch of something called the Saudi-Jordanian Coordination Council, a vehicle that Jordanian officials at the time said would “unblock billions of dollars” for the cash-starved Hashemite kingdom.

A giant Jordanian flag is raised during a celebration in the port of Aqaba in 2016 (AFP)
A giant Jordanian flag is raised during a celebration in the port of Aqaba in 2016 (AFP)

Awadallah promised that the council would invest billions of Saudi dollars in Jordan’s leading economic sectors, focusing on the Aqaba Special Economic Zone.

The money, of course, never materialised. Saudi support for the kingdom diminished to a trickle, and according to an informed source, Muasher, Saudi funds stopped almost completely after 2014.Jordan: Why King Abdullah’s troubles are not over Read More »

The price for turning on the tap of Saudi finance was too high for Abdullah to pay. It was total subservience to Riyadh. Under this plan, Jordan would have become a satellite of Riyadh, much as Bahrain has become.

Netanyahu had his own sub-agenda in the huge trade that would flow from Neom once Saudi Arabia had formally recognised Israel.

A confirmed enemy of the Oslo plan to set up a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, Netanyahu and the Israeli right have always eyed annexation of Area C and the Jordan Valley, which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank. Under this new Nakba, the Palestinians living there, denied Israeli citizenship, would be slowly forced to move to Jordan. This could only happen under a Saudi-oriented plan, in which Jordanian workers could travel freely and work in Saudi Arabia. As it is, remittances from the Jordanian workforce in Saudi Arabia are an economic lifeblood to the bankrupt kingdom. 

The money pouring into Jordan, accompanied by a  mobile workforce of Jordanians and  stateless Palestinians, would finally put to bed grandiose visions of a Palestinian state, and with it the two-state solution. On this, Netanyahu and bin Salman are as one: treat them as a mobile workforce, not citizens of a future state.

Hussein’s favoured son

That Prince Hamzah should be seen as the means by which Jordan is enlisted to this plan represents the final irony of this bizarre tale.

If the Hashemite blood runs deep in any veins, it is surely in his. He was King Hussein’s favoured son. In a letter sent to his brother Prince Hassan in 1999, King Hussein wrote: “Hamzeh, may God give him long life, has been envied since childhood because he was close to me, and because he wanted to know all matters large and small, and all details of the history of his family. He wanted to know about the struggle of his brothers and of his countrymen. I have been touched by his devotion to his country and by his integrity and magnanimity as he stayed beside me, not moving unless I forced him from time to time to carry out some duty on occasions that did not exceed the fingers on one hand.”

Abdullah broke the agreement he made with his father on his death bed when he replaced his half-brother with his son, Hussein, as crown prince in 2004.

The new foreign policy establishment in Washington should wean itself off the notion that US allies are its friends

But if Hashemite pride in and knowledge of Jordan’s history runs deep in Hamzah, he of all princes would have soon realised the cost to Jordan of accepting bin Salman’s billions and Netanyahu’s tacit encouragement, just as his father did.

Hamzah’s friends ardently dispute they are part of this plot and downplay connections with Awadallah. Hamzah only owns up to one thing: that he is immensely concerned at how low Jordan has fallen under years of misrule. In this, Hamzah is 100 percent right.

It is clear what has to happen now. King Abdullah should finally see that he must completely overhaul the Jordanian political system, by calling for free and fair elections and abiding by their result. Only that will unite the country around him.

This is what King Hussein did when he faced challenge and revolt by Jordanian tribes in the south of the kingdom; in 1989, Hussein overhauled the political system and held the freest elections in the history of the kingdom. 

The government that emerged from this process led the country safely out of one of the most difficult moments for Jordan: Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War.

The real villains

Biden, meanwhile, should realise that letting bin Salman get away with the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has a cost. 

Bin Salman did not learn anything from the episode and carried on in exactly the same way, reckless and swift, against an Arab neighbour and ally, with potentially disastrous consequences.

The new foreign policy establishment in Washington should wean itself off the notion that US allies are its friends. It should learn once and for all that the active destabilisers of the Middle East are not the cartoon villains of Iran and Turkey. 

Rather, they are the closest US allies, where US forces and military technology are either based, or as in the case of Israel, inextricably intertwined: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel.

Jordan, the classic buffer state, is a case in point.

معركة تحرير مأرب… أهميتها وتداعياتها The battle to liberate Marib … its significance and repercussions

** Please scroll down for the English Machine translation **

معركة تحرير مأرب… أهميتها وتداعياتها

حسن حردان

طرح البدء بمعركة تحرير مدينة مأرب، التساؤلات حول مدى أهميتها وتداعياتها على مسار الحرب والتسوية السياسية ومستقبل اليمن، لا سيما أنّ التقدّم الكبير الحاصل في الميدان الذي يحققه تحالف اللجان الشعبية والجيش اليمني قد أدّى إلى رفع منسوب درجة اهتمام الدول الغربية بمجرياتها.. لما لذلك من انعكاسات على موازين القوى على صعيدي الميدان والسياسة.

انّ الإجابة على هذه التساؤلات وأسباب هذا الاهتمام الغربي الذي عكس مستوى القلق من التطورات الميدانية في مأرب، إنما يكمن في العوامل التالية:

أولاً، انّ إنجاز تحرير مدينة مأرب يعني عملياً سقوط آخر وأهمّ معقل للسعودية وحكومة هادي التابعة للرياض، وحزب الإصلاح الإخواني في شمال اليمن، مما سيشكل هزيمة مدوية لقوى العدوان على اليمن، ويحسم سيطرة تحالف اللجان الشعبية والجيش اليمني على كلّ المحافظات الشمالية وصولاً إلى الحدود مع محافظات جنوب اليمن.. وإبعاد التهديد عن العاصمة صنعاء، وبالتالي انهيار أحلام الرياض وحكومة هادي في استعادة السيطرة على شمال اليمن انطلاقاً من مأرب…

ثانياً، إنّ مأرب تقع جغرافياً على الحدود مع المملكة السعودية لجهة مدينتي جيزان وشرورة السعوديتين من الجهة المقابلة لمأرب.. وهذا يجعل استمرار السعودية بالعدوان، في مواجهة احتمال انتقال المعركة البرية إلى قلب هاتين المدينتين، وهو ما تتخوّف منه الرياض، وتحاول القوى التابعة لها التهويل من خطورته بالقول انّ قوات صنعاء اذا سيطرت على مدينة مأرب سوف يؤدّي ذلك الى سقوط خطّ الدفاع الأوّل عن مدينتَي جيزان وشرورة، وسيفتح سقوطها الباب أمام حركة «أنصار الله» لتوسيع نفوذها إلى كامل الحدود السعودية المشتركة مع اليمن.. وقد ذهب مدير التوجيه المعنوي السابق لقوات هادي في مأرب، اللواء محسن خصروف، إلى حدّ القول: «إنّ سقوط مأرب مُقدّمة لسقوط الرياض».. وذلك في محاولة لدفع الحكومة السعودية للزجّ بكلّ قوّتها لمنع سقوط مأرب بأيدي قوات اللجان والحكومة الشرعية في صنعاء…

ثالثاً، إنّ تحرير مأرب سيؤدّي إلى تحرير الثروة النفطية والغازية الهامة الموجودة فيها، والتي كانت تستغلها السعودية والقوى التابعة لها، وتحرم أهل اليمن منها، مما سيمكن حكومة صنعاء من امتلاك موارد هامة تعزز صمود اليمنيين ومقاومتهم في مواجهة العدوان والحصار المفروض عليهم منذ بدء الحرب على اليمن.. الأمر الذي سيشكل تحوّلاً كبيراً لمصلحة تعزيز تحرر اليمن من الهيمنة والسيطرة الأميركية السعودية، إذا ما أخذنا في الاعتبار أنّ أحد أهداف الحرب على اليمن إنما هو منع اليمنيين من التحكم في استغلال ثروتهم، من الغاز والنفط، التي يُقال إنّ اليمن يحوز على كميات كبيرة منها، وخصوصاً في مأرب، وإذا أحسن استغلالها فإنها تمكّن اليمن من تنمية اقتصاده وتحسين حياة الشعب، وتحوّل اليمن إلى دولة قوية مستقلة..

كما يوجد في مأرب محطة صافر لتوليد الطاقة الكهربائية بالغاز التي تغذي العاصمة صنعاء وعدد من المحافظات الشمالية والوسطى.. فيما سدّ مأرب يوفر مياه الري لمساحات شاسعة من الاراضي الزراعية، ولهذا اختيرت مأرب، في القدم، عاصمة للدولة السبئية، خلال الألفية الأولى قبل الميلاد، وفيها عرش ومحرم بلقيس.. وكانت تشكل حصناً لصدّ الغزاة الذين سعوا إلى احتلال اليمن منذ أيام الإمبراطورية الرومانية التي عجزت جيوشها عن احتلالها.. وكذلك جيوش الدولة العثمانية.

رابعاً، إنّ تحرير مأرب سيؤدي إلى تعزيز الموقف السياسي لتحالف اللجان الشعبية والحكومة الشرعية في صنعاء، في أيّ مفاوضات مقبلة لتحقيق التسوية للأزمة اليمنية، ويحدّ كثيراً من قدرة واشنطن والسعودية وحكومة هادي على فرض شروطهم..

خامساً، انّ تحرير مأرب وما يعنيه من انهيار آخر وأهمّ معقل لحكومة هادي وحلفائها، سيؤدّي إلى خلق مناخ عام بالهزيمة، وانهيار معنويات مقاتليهم، الأمر الذي سيولد تداعيات سريعة في مناطق سيطرتهم في جنوب اليمن، تسعر من الصراعات، المحتدمة أصلاً في ما بينهم، حول المسؤولية عن الهزيمة من جهة، وحول السيطرة على الجنوب من جهة ثانية، مما سيؤدّي إلى نقمة شعبية واسعة تعزز موقف القوى المعارضة لوجود المجلس الانتقالي وقوات هادي المدعومة سعودياً، ويوفر ظروفاً مواتية كي يتحالف أبناء الجنوب مع اللجان الشعبية والجيش اليمني لاستكمال تحرير المحافظات الجنوبية، من سيطرة قوات هادي والمجلس الانتقالي.. المدعومين من تحالف قوى العدوان.

هذه النتائج والتداعيات المتوقعة من جراء تحرير مأرب، هي التي تقف وراء ارتفاع درجة اهتمام الدول الغربية بما يحصل في مأرب، وفي المقدمة الولايات المتحدة، والتي عبّر عنها بمسارعتها إلى إطلاق التصريحات التي تدعو إلى وقف هجوم أنصار الله والقوات المسلحة اليمنية في مأرب، لمنع حصول التحوّلات النوعية في موازين القوى، لمصلحة تحالف أنصار الله والقوى الوطنية، على حساب الموقف الأميركي السعودي الذي سيجد نفسه يجلس إلى طاولة المفاوضات المقترحة لحلّ الأزمة، وهو في حالة من الضعف بعد أن مُنيَ بهزيمة قاسية، الأمر الذي يجعل حركة أنصار الله وحلفاءها في موقع من يملك القدرة على فرض الشروط، قبل انطلاق المفاوضات بوقف العدوان والحصار، وخلال المفاوضات بفرض شروط للتسوية تعزز قدرة الشعب اليمني على تقرير مصيره بعيداً عن التدخلات الخارجية.

انطلاقاً مما تقدّم يمكن فهم لماذا يرفض تحالف اللجان والجيش اليمني وقف الهجوم لاستكمال إنجاز تحرير مدينة مأرب.. ولماذا يرتفع منسوب القلق السعودي الأميركي الغربي من ذلك..

فتحرير مدينة مأرب سيشكل انتصاراً نوعياً يتوّج الانتصارات التي تحققت على مدى سنوات الحرب، وهزيمة كبرى لدول العدوان والقوى التابعة لهم، وسقوط أهدافهم التي سعت إلى القضاء على انصار الله والقوى الوطنية وإعادة إخضاع اليمن ومنع خروجه من فلك التبعية، لما يمثله من موقع جغرافي هامّ على طريق التجارة الدولية وفي الخليج حيث تتركز السيطرة الاستعمارية الأميركية على ثروات النفط والغاز وطرق إمدادها في مياه الخليج وباب المندب… وهو ما جعل إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن تدعو إلى وقف هذه الحرب لاحتواء تداعياتها السلبية على النفوذ الاستعماري الأميركي، وتعرب عن القلق من سيطرة حركة أنصار الله على مأرب، الأمر الذي قد يسهم في تسريع خطوات واشنطن لوقف الحرب، ومحاولة الحدّ من تداعيات الهزيمة، وتدفيع ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان ثمن هذه الهزيمة، وهو ما ظهرت مؤشراته من خلال إعلان البيت الأبيض انّ الرئيس بايدن سيتواصل مباشرة مع الملك سلمان، وليس مع ولي العهد، ومن ثم الإفراج عن تقرير الاستخبارات المتعلق بجريمة قتل الصحافي السعودي جمال خاشقجي.. وذلك في سياق إعادة تقييم العلاقات الأميركية مع السعودية.. ما دفع المراقبين إلى التساؤل عما إذا كانت إدارة بايدن تسعى الى تقديم محمد بن سلمان كبش فداء بتحميله مسؤولية الكارثة في اليمن، والظهور في صورة من أوقف هذه الحرب لإعادة تلميع صورة أميركا في اليمن، وتمكين الدبلوماسية الأميركية من لعب الدور المنوط بها للحدّ من الخسائر واحتواء تداعيات الهزيمة… وإعادة ترميم وتعزيز نفوذ أميركا في اليمن من خلال التسوية السياسية.. لكن السؤال هل ستتمكن من ذلك، خصوصاً بعد أن اصبح هناك مقاومة تحرّرية يمنية تملك مشروعاً للتحرر، وتسعى إلى تحقيق استقلال اليمن بعيداً عن الهيمنة والتبعية للولايات المتحدة والحكومة السعودية.. ونجحت بداية في الصمود في مواجهة العدوان، واحتواء اندفاعته، ومن ثم الانتقال من الدفاع إلى الهجوم، وفرض معادلات الردع بعد أن تكمنت من نقل الحرب إلى الداخل السعودي، وتحرير المحافظات اليمنية الشمالية من سيطرة تحالف العدوان، الواحدة تلو الأخرى، حتى أصبحنا على مقربة من تحرير واستعادة آخر محافظة شمالية، وهي محافظة مأرب الاستراتيجية من جميع النواحي، الجغرافية، والاقتصادية، والعسكرية، والسياسية.

The battle to liberate Marib … its significance and repercussions

Hassan Hardan

The start of the battle for the liberation of Marib raised questions about its importance and its implications for the course of war, political settlement and the future of Yemen, especially since the great progress made in the field achieved by the Coalition of Popular Committees and the Yemeni army has raised the level of interest of Western countries in their conduct. This has implications for the balance of power in the field and politics.

The answer to these questions and the reasons for this Western interest, which reflected the level of concern about developments on the ground in Marib, lies in the following factors:

First, the achievement of the liberation of Marib city means practically the fall of the last and most important stronghold of Saudi Arabia and the government of Hadi of Riyadh, and the Brotherhood Reform Party in northern Yemen, which will constitute a resounding defeat for the forces of aggression against Yemen, and resolve the control of the coalition of popular committees and the Yemeni army on all the northern provinces down to the border with the provinces of southern Yemen. The threat was removed from the capital Sana’a, thus collapsing Riyadh and Hadi’s government’s dreams of regaining control of northern Yemen from Marib…

Secondly, Marib is geographically located on the border with Saudi Arabia to the Saudi cities of Jizan and Sharorah on the opposite side of Marib. This makes Saudi Arabia’s continued aggression, in the face of the possibility of a land battle moving to the heart of these two cities, which Riyadh fears, and its forces are trying to downplay its seriousness by saying that if Sana’a forces take control of Marib city will lead to the fall of the first line of defense for the cities of Jizan and Shororah, and its fall will open the door for Ansar Allah movement to expand its influence to the entire Saudi border with Yemen. The former director of Hadi’s moral guidance in Marib, Major General Mohsen Khasrouf, went so far as to say, “The fall of Marib is a prelude to the fall of Riyadh.” In an attempt to push the Saudi government to put all its power to prevent the fall of Marib by the forces of the committees and the legitimate government in Sana’a…

Thirdly, the liberation of Marib will lead to the liberalization of the important oil and gas wealth in it, which was exploited by Saudi Arabia and its forces, and deprives the people of Yemen of it, which will enable the Government of Sana’a to have important resources that strengthen the resilience and resistance of Yemenis in the face of aggression and siege imposed on them since the beginning of the war. This would be a major shift in favor of strengthening Yemen’s liberation from U.S.-Saudi hegemony and control, considering that one of the objectives of the war on Yemen is to prevent Yemenis from controlling the exploitation of their wealth, from gas and oil, of which Yemen is said to have large quantities, especially in Marib, and if it is best exploited, it enables Yemen to develop its economy and improve the lives of the people, and turn Yemen into a strong independent state.

There is also a gas-fired safir power plant in Marib that feeds the capital Sana’a and a number of northern and central provinces. The Marib Dam provides irrigation water for vast areas of agricultural land, which is why Marib was chosen, in the old days, as the capital of the Sabean state, during the first millennium BC, with a throne and the Sanctuary of Balqis. It was a bulwark to repel the invaders who had sought to occupy Yemen since the days of the Roman Empire, whose armies were unable to occupy it. So are the armies of the Ottoman Empire.

Fourthly, the liberation of Marib will strengthen the political position of the Coalition of Popular Committees and the Legitimate Government in Sana’a, in any future negotiations to achieve a settlement to the Yemeni crisis, and greatly limit the ability of Washington, Saudi Arabia and Hadi’s government to impose their conditions.

Fifthly, the liberation of Marib and the collapse of the last and most important stronghold of Hadi’s government and its allies will create a general atmosphere of defeat, and the collapse of the morale of their fighters, which lead to a rapid collapse in their areas of control in southern Yemen, exacerbating the conflicts, already raging between them, over responsibility for the defeat on the one hand, and over control of the south on the other hand, which will lead to a broad popular revulsion strengthening the position of forces opposed to the presence of the Transitional Council and Hadi forces backed by Saudi Arabia, and provides favorable conditions for the people of the south to ally with the popular committees and the Yemeni army to complete the liberation of the southern provinces, from the control of Hadi forces and the Transitional Council … supported by the coalition of aggression forces.

These results and the expected repercussions from the liberation of Marib are behind the high level of interest in Western countries, and in the forefront is the United States, which was expressed its hasten to launch statements calling for an end to the attack of Ansar Allah and the Yemeni armed forces in Marib, to prevent qualitative shifts in the balance of power, in favor of the Alliance of Ansar Allah and national forces, at the expense of the American-Saudi position, which will find itself sitting at the negotiating table proposed to solve the crisis, while it is in a state of weakness after suffering a severe defeat, which makes the Ansar Allah movement and its allies in a position to impose conditions, before the start of negotiations to stop the aggression and blockade, and during the negotiations to impose terms for a settlement that enhance the ability of the Yemeni people to determine their own destiny away from foreign interventions.

Based on the foregoing, it can be understood why the coalition of committees and the Yemeni army refuses to stop the attack in order to complete the achievement of liberating the city of Ma’rib … and why the level of Saudi-American-Western concern is high.

The liberation of the city of Ma’rib will constitute a qualitative victory that culminates in the victories achieved over the years of the war, a major defeat for the states of aggression and their forces, and the fall of their objectives, which sought to eliminate Ansar Allah and national forces, re-subjugate Yemen and prevent its exit from the orbit of dependency, because of the important geographical location it represents. The international trade route and in the Gulf, where the American colonial control is focused on oil and gas wealth and its supply routes in the Gulf waters and Bab al-Mandeb … President Joe Biden’s administration is calling for an end to the war to contain its negative repercussions on U.S. colonial influence, and expresses concern about Ansar Allah’s control of Marib, which could speed up Washington’s steps to stop the war, try to reduce the repercussions of the defeat, and pay for the defeat, which was highlighted by the White House’s announcement that President Biden would communicate directly with King Salman, not the crown prince, and then release the intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This is in the context of a reassessment of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. What led observers to question whether the Biden administration is seeking to cast Mohammed bin Salman as a scapegoat by blaming him for the disaster in Yemen, appearing in the form of those who stopped this war to re-polish America’s image in Yemen, and enable U.S. diplomacy to play its role in reducing losses and containing the repercussions of defeat… Restoring and strengthening America’s influence in Yemen through a political settlement. But the question is will it be able to do that, especially after there has become a Yemeni liberation resistance that has a project for liberation, and seeks to achieve Yemen’s independence away from the hegemony and subordination of the United States and the Saudi government … and it succeeded at the beginning. In steadfastness in the face of aggression, containing its impulsivity, and then moving from defense to attack, and imposing deterrence equations after it transcended the transfer of the war into the Saudi interior, and the liberation of the northern Yemeni provinces from the control of the aggression coalition, one after the other, until we became close to liberating and restoring The last northern governorate, which is the strategic Marib governorate, in all its geographical, economic, military and political aspects.

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

By Denis Korkodinov

Source

Analyzing Saudi Arabia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Turkish involvement in Yemen free Saudi Arabia?

2018 Istanbul protest against Saudi actions in Yemen
Could Turkey help out Saudi Arabia in Yemen? Just 28 months ago, as seen here on Nov. 11, 2018, Turks were chanting slogans and holding posters in protest of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen outside the Saudi Consulate. The October 2018 murder of journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the consulate had helped push attention to the war in Yemen.


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fehimtastekin.jpg

Fehim Tastekin

April 2, 2021

In part as a result of the Biden administration’s shifting policies toward Iran and Washington’s decision to temporarily freeze and review weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over the Yemeni war, Ankara is aiming to turn Saudi Arabia’s growing international isolation to Turkey’s advantage.

Some Syrian opposition sources claim Turkey might transfer Syrian fighters to Yemen to fight alongside the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels. The immediate interpretation of these claims might be that Turkey is extending an olive branch to Saudi Arabia following a yearslong frostiness in relations.

The second interpretation might be that Ankara is signaling to Tehran Turkey’s disgruntlement over Iranian military activities in Iraq and Syria. Iran believes Russia made too many concessions to Turkey on Syria and has overtly expressed its opposition against Turkish military operations in Iraq, prompting diplomatic bickering between Ankara and Tehran.

Possible Turkish involvement in the Yemeni war might provide Saudi Arabia the face-saving exit from the conflict that Riyadh has been looking for. Reportedly, Turkey’s support might also include Turkish armed drones that have been game changers in the Libyan and Azeri-Armenian conflicts.

The Yemeni Al-Islah Party — the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — has been asking Turkey to step into the fray. However, the United Arab Emirates has long opposed the Al-Islah Party’s cooperation in the conflict, while Saudi Arabia has only reluctantly accepted cooperation to date. 

Saudi officials have reportedly been advised to improve ties with Turkey after a chilliness with the Biden administration developed as a result of the administration’s positive messages on the Iranian nuclear deal, the release of a CIA report exposing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in the Jamal Khashoggi murder and the decision to lift the Houthis from the US list of foreign terrorist groups. The pro-government Turkish media has also trumpeted a narrative that Riyadh “desperately needs” Turkey.

While the idea of sending Syrian fighters to Yemen may be mere speculation, there have been a number of claims about the matter. Citing a source from the Syrian armed group Sultan Suleiman Shah, the North Press Agency reported that the Syrian National Army, a rebel group backed by Turkey, “has been working for weeks to prepare dozens of militants to send to Yemen.” According to the report, fighters have been offered salaries up to $2,500 a month and were told they were going to be positioned on the Yemeni-Saudi border and not participate in the clashes. It’s worth mentioning that Syrian fighters who were sent to Azerbaijan had also been told that they did not have to participate in the fighting, only to find themselves on the front lines.

Similarly, the Violations Documentation Center in Northern Syria said Turkey’s intelligence agency assigned an opposition commander to recruit fighters to be sent to Yemen. According to the report, the fighters were offered $2,500 monthly; $100 of this amount would be deducted for document expenses, fighters would receive $400 in cash initially and the remaining $2,000 would be paid to their families after the move to Yemen.

Journalist Lindsey Snell shared a voice recording that reportedly belongs to a Sultan Murad Brigades commander in which he seeks identification documents from his fighters who “wish to go to Yemen.” Snell said in a tweet accompanying the recording, “This happened in the couple weeks before Azerbaijan, too.” This was in reference to the transfer of Syrian fighters to the Azeri-Armenian conflict. Social media is abuzz with similar claims. 

Meanwhile, a Turkish armed drone was downed by Houthi rebels in al-Jawf region, further fanning claims about possible Turkish involvement in the conflict. Houthi military spokesman Col. Yahya Saree said the downed drone was a Turkish-built Vestel Karayel aircraft. 

Yet Saudi Arabia acquired these drones as part of a contract worth $200 million that Vestel Defense signed with Riyadh last year. According to the Saudi General Authority for Defense Industries, Riyadh is aiming to build up to 40 armed drones in five years, with six of them planned to be built in 2021.  

Despite rife speculation, there is no official confirmation that Baykar Makina, the manufacturer of the Bayraktar drones used in Libya and the northern Caucasus, will play a role in the Yemen conflict. 

According to Deutsche Welle Arabic, the Al-Islah party, might have played a mediator role in the recent Saudi Arabia-Turkey rapprochement. Citing former Yemeni Transportation Minister Saleh al Yemeni’s remarks to local Yemeni media, Deutsche Welle Arabic reported that an alliance between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Yemen was “imminent” after disagreements surfaced between UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Riyadh. The UAE media, meanwhile, paints these news reports as Muslim Brotherhood propaganda. 

According to the London-based Al Arab newspaper, Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood network are relying on increasing concerns of the Saudi side following the US policy shift on the Yemeni war and Houthi rebels’ advances toward the oil- and gas-rich Marib region. The newspaper said the first call for Saudi-Turkish cooperation in Yemen came from one of the Al-Islah Party leaders who lives in Istanbul. Hamid al-Ahmar told Al Jazeera that Saudi Arabia turned to Turkey for advanced weapons after the US weapons freeze.

The UAE, like Egypt, is insisting that Turkey should cut its support to the Muslim Brotherhood to mend relations with Abu Dhabi. However, the Emiratis’ diminishing support for Khalifa Hifter in Libya and its decision to pull back from a military base in Eritrea that was key to Yemeni operations could be a manifestation of a downgrade in the UAE’s regional ambitions.

Muslim Brotherhood groups’ desire to draw Turkey into the Yemeni conflict, meanwhile, seems quite clear. Al Jazeera commentator Faisal al Kasim trumpeted that the balance of power on the ground in Yemen would change as soon as “Turkey has started to step into the Yemeni file.” Turkish-based Egyptian journalist Jamal Sultan claimed that Turkish-built Bayrak drones were spotted in Yemeni skies.

Pro-government Turkish media outlets sing a similar tune. The Yeni Safak daily, a governmental mouthpiece, claimed that Saudi Arabia was left alone in the Yemeni conflict. “Saudi Arabia has lost its fear of Turkey,” the paper wrote, “Turkey is the only country that could save Saudi Arabia from the mess it is in.”

Burhanettin Duran — a member of a foreign policy board advising the president and head of the pro-government think-tank SETA — argued that Gulf policies to restrain Iran and Turkey have failed. The Saudis “now need Turkey to fight off Iran’s expansionist policies in the region including in Yemen,” according to Duran. 

The Iranian media also appears to take claims of Turkish involvement in the Yemen conflict seriously. Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported that Saudi authorities have decided to put aside differences with their Turkish counterparts to cooperate with Ankara on the Yemen file.

Although mutual Turkish Saudi interests could spell a new beginning in Ankara-Riyadh ties, the lack of any official acknowledgment is an indication of reluctance and caution on both sides. Defusing a confrontation of some seven years between Turkey and Arab countries requires comprehensive consideration as the “Arab skepticism” that was fanned by Turkey’s expansionist ambitions in the region still is in play and appears to shape Arab countries’ approach to Turkey.


“المونيتور”: هل تتدخل تركيا في اليمن لإنقاذ السعودية؟

الكاتب: فهيم تستكين

المصدر: المونيتور 6 نيسان 14:54

يجادل الإخوان المسلمون ومصادر مقربة من الحكومة التركية بأن السعودية يمكن أن تجد مخرجاً لحفظ ماء وجهها في الصراع اليمني من خلال التعاون مع تركيا.

أتراك يحتجون أمام القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول عام 2018.
أتراك يحتجون أمام القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول عام 2018
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كتب الصحافي التركي فهيم تستكين مقالة في موقع “المونيتور” الأميركي قال فيها إن تركيا تسعى إلى تحويل العزلة الدولية المتزايدة للسعودية لصالحها، وذلك في أعقاب سياسات إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن المتغيرة تجاه إيران وقرار واشنطن بتجميد ومراجعة مبيعات الأسلحة إلى السعودية مؤقتاً بسبب الحرب اليمنية.

وأضاف الكاتب أن بعض مصادر المعارضة السورية تزعم أن تركيا قد تنقل مقاتلين سوريين إلى اليمن للقتال إلى جانب التحالف الذي تقوده السعودية ضد الحوثيين. وقد يكون التفسير الفوري لهذه الادعاءات هو أن تركيا تمدّ غصن زيتون إلى السعودية بعد سنوات من الجمود في العلاقات.

أما التفسير الثاني فقد يكون أن أنقرة تشير إلى استياء تركيا من الأنشطة العسكرية الإيرانية في العراق وسوريا. وتعتقد إيران أن روسيا قدمت الكثير من التنازلات لتركيا بشأن سوريا وأعربت صراحةً عن معارضتها للعمليات العسكرية التركية في العراق، مما أثار مشاحنات دبلوماسية بين أنقرة وطهران.

ورأى الكاتب أن التورط التركي المحتمل في الحرب اليمنية للسعودية قد يوفر مخرجاً من الصراع كانت الرياض تبحث عنه ويحفظ لها ماء وجهها. وبحسب ما ورد، فقد يشمل دعم تركيا كذلك طائرات مسلحة تركية بدون طيار كانت بمثابة تغيير لقواعد اللعبة في النزاعين الليبي والأذري-الأرميني.

ويطالب حزب الإصلاح اليمني – الفرع اليمني للإخوان المسلمين – تركيا بالدخول في المعركة. ومع ذلك، لطالما عارضت الإمارات العربية المتحدة التعاون مع حزب الإصلاح في الحرب ضد “أنصار الله”، بينما قبلت السعودية على مضض التعاون معه حتى الآن.

وأضاف الكاتب أنه ورد أن المسؤولين السعوديين نُصحوا بتحسين العلاقات مع تركيا بعد أن تطورت حالة من النفور من إدارة بايدن نتيجة للرسائل الإيجابية للإدارة بشأن الاتفاق النووي الإيراني، وصدور تقرير لوكالة الاستخبارات المركزية الأميركية يفضح دور ولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان في جريمة قتل جمال خاشقجي وقرار رفع “انصار الله” الحوثيين من القائمة الأميركية للجماعات الإرهابية الأجنبية. كما روجت وسائل الإعلام التركية الموالية للحكومة لرواية مفادها أن الرياض “بحاجة ماسة” إلى تركيا.

وقال الكاتب إنه في حين أن فكرة إرسال مقاتلين سوريين إلى اليمن قد تكون مجرد تكهنات، إلا أن هناك عدداً من المزاعم حول الأمر. فقد نقلت وكالة “نورث برس” عن مصدر من الجماعة المسلحة السورية التي تدعى “سلطان سليمان شاه”، أن “الجيش الوطني السوري”، وهو جماعة معارضة تدعمها تركيا، “يعمل منذ أسابيع لإعداد عشرات المسلحين لإرسالهم إلى اليمن”. وبحسب التقرير، عُرض على المقاتلين رواتب تصل إلى 2500 دولار شهرياً وقيل لهم إنهم سيتمركزون على الحدود اليمنية السعودية ولن يشاركوا في الاشتباكات. ومن الجدير بالذكر أن المقاتلين السوريين الذين تم إرسالهم إلى أذربيجان تم إخبارهم أيضاً أنه ليس عليهم المشاركة في القتال، فقط ليجدوا أنفسهم في الخطوط الأمامية.

بدوره، قال مركز توثيق الانتهاكات في شمال سوريا إن وكالة الاستخبارات التركية كلفت أحد قادة المعارضة بتجنيد مقاتلين لإرسالهم إلى اليمن. وبحسب التقرير، عرض على المقاتلين 2500 دولار شهرياً حيث سيتم خصم 100 دولار من هذا المبلغ لتغطية نفقات المستندات، وسيحصل المقاتلون على 400 دولار نقداً في البداية، وسيتم دفع مبلغ 2000 دولار المتبقي لعائلاتهم بعد الانتقال إلى اليمن.

وشاركت الصحافية ليندسي سنيل تسجيلاً صوتياً يُقال إنه يعود إلى قائد في “كتائب السلطان مراد” السورية الموالية لتركيا يسعى فيه للحصول على وثائق هوية من مقاتليه الذين “يرغبون في الذهاب إلى اليمن”. وقالت سنيل في تغريدة مصاحبة للتسجيل، “حدث هذا في الأسبوعين السابقين لأذربيجان كذلك”. كان هذا في إشارة إلى نقل مقاتلين سوريين إلى الصراع الأذري الأرمني. كما أن وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي تعج بمزاعم مماثلة.

في هذه الأثناء، أسقط اليمنيون طائرة مسيّرة مسلحة تركية في منطقة الجوف، مما زاد من تصاعد المزاعم حول احتمال تورط تركيا في الصراع. وقال المتحدث باسم الجيش اليمني العقيد يحيى سريع إن الطائرة المسيّرة كانت من طراز “فيستل كرايل” تركية الصنع.

واستحوذت السعودية على هذه الطائرات بدون طيار كجزء من عقد بقيمة 200 مليون دولار وقعته شركة “فيستل” مع الرياض العام الماضي. ووفقاً للهيئة العامة للصناعات الدفاعية السعودية، تهدف الرياض إلى تصنيع ما يصل إلى 40 طائرة مسيّرة مسلحة في غضون خمس سنوات، ومن المقرر تصنيع ست طائرات منها في عام 2021.

وعلى الرغم من التكهنات المنتشرة، لا يوجد تأكيد رسمي بأن شركة “بايكار مكينا”، الشركة المصنعة للطائرات بدون طيار المستخدمة في ليبيا وشمال القوقاز، ستلعب دوراً في الصراع اليمني.

وبحسب قناة “دويتشه فيله” الألمانية، ربما لعب حزب الإصلاح اليمني دوراً وسيطاً في التقارب السعودي التركي الأخير. ونقلاً عن تصريحات وزير النقل اليمني السابق صالح اليمني لوسائل إعلام يمنية محلية، ذكرت “دويتشه فيله” بالعربية أن تحالفاً بين تركيا والسعودية في اليمن كان “وشيكاً” بعد ظهور خلافات بين ولي العهد الإماراتي محمد بن زايد آل نهيان والرياض. في غضون ذلك، يصور الإعلام الإماراتي هذه التقارير الإخبارية على أنها دعاية للإخوان المسلمين.

وبحسب صحيفة العرب، التي تتخذ من لندن مقراً لها، تعوّل تركيا وقطر وشبكة الإخوان المسلمين على مخاوف متزايدة للسعوديين في أعقاب التحول في السياسة الأميركية بشأن الحرب اليمنية وتقدم المتمردين الحوثيين نحو منطقة مأرب الغنية بالنفط والغاز. وقالت الصحيفة إن الدعوة الأولى للتعاون السعودي التركي في اليمن جاءت من حميد الأحمر، أحد قيادات حزب الإصلاح الذي يعيش في اسطنبول إذ قال إن السعودية لجأت إلى تركيا للحصول على أسلحة متطورة بعد تجميد الأسلحة الأميركية.

ورأى الكاتب أن رغبة جماعات الإخوان المسلمين في جر تركيا إلى الصراع اليمني تبدو واضحة تماماً. وادعى الصحافي المصري جمال سلطان المقيم في تركيا بأنه تم رصد طائرات بدون طيار تركية الصنع في سماء اليمن.

وسائل الإعلام التركية الموالية للحكومة تردد نغمة مماثلة. فقد زعمت صحيفة “يني شفق”، الناطقة باسم الحكومة، أن السعودية تُركت وحيدة في الصراع اليمني. وكتبت الصحيفة: “تخلت المملكة العربية السعودية عن خوفها من تركيا، فتركيا هي الدولة الوحيدة التي يمكن أن تنقذ السعودية من الفوضى التي تعيش فيها”.

وجادل برهان الدين دوران – عضو مجلس إدارة السياسة الخارجية الذي يقدم المشورة للرئيس ورئيس مركز الفكر “سيتا” الموالي للحكومة – بأن سياسات الخليج لكبح جماح إيران وتركيا قد فشلت. وقال دوران إن السعوديين “يحتاجون الآن إلى تركيا لمحاربة سياسات إيران التوسعية في المنطقة بما في ذلك اليمن”.

ويبدو أن وسائل الإعلام الإيرانية تأخذ بدورها مزاعم تورط تركيا في الصراع اليمني على محمل الجد. فقد ذكرت وكالة الأنباء الإيرانية الرسمية (إرنا) أن السلطات السعودية قررت وضع الخلافات مع الأتراك جانباً للتعاون مع أنقرة في ملف اليمن.

وخلص الكاتب إلى أنه على الرغم من أن المصالح السعودية التركية المتبادلة يمكن أن تشكل بداية جديدة في العلاقات بين أنقرة والرياض، فإن عدم وجود أي اعتراف رسمي بذلك هو مؤشر على التردد والحذر من كلا الجانبين. إذ يتطلب نزع فتيل مواجهة دامت نحو سبع سنوات بين تركيا والدول العربية دراسة شاملة لأن “الشكوك العربية” التي أذكتها طموحات تركيا التوسعية في المنطقة لا تزال قائمة ويبدو أنها تشكل مقاربة الدول العربية تجاه تركيا.

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

هل انتهى الأردن نموذج 1930؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

الانقلاب الذي أصاب الحكم الأردني منذ عدة أيام، ليس عملاً عادياً يُراد منه تغيير أمير بملك كما يحدث في معظم البلدان.

الاشارة الأولى الى ان الانقلاب كان ضخماً ولم ينجح، وسكتت عنه قوى مجاورة، لم يكن أحد يعتقد أنها قادرة على الصمت، يكفي ان المتورطين هم أصحاب أحجام كبيرة وارتباطات خارجية أكثر.

يبدو أن الملك عبدالله الثاني انتبه منذ مدة قياسية الى شيء ما يدور في الأجنحة العسكرية والسياسية لمملكته بهدف إقصائه فاحتاط بانياً شبكة امان من حوله لأسباب عديدة، اولها ان الغليان يضرب المنطقة من سورية الى فلسطين مروراً بلبنان ومصر، لقد شعر أن تغييراً كبيراً يستهدف الكيان الأردني السياسي بهدف إنهاء قضية فلسطين، وهذا غير ممكن إلا بإنهاء الاردن السياسي وإيجاد حلول نهائية لنحو مليون ونصف فلسطيني مقيمين ويرتبطون بأعداد مماثلة منهم في سورية ولبنان، ما يعني أن ثلاثة ملايين فلسطيني كانوا عرضة لقبض تعويضات محترمة من جهات إسرائيلية ودولية لينتقلوا الى بلدان آسيوية وغربية. وهذا أمر سهل ليس له ما يحول دونه. فالسيسي مثلاً مستعدّ بنخوة القادر على التلاعب بقناة السويس بدمج أكثر من مليون فلسطيني مقابل مبالغ معلومة وتأييد غربي سياسي.

وكذلك بعض بلدان شمال أفريقيا المتأهبة لدمج فلسطينيين مقابل تأييد غربي سياسي لها كحال المغرب وليبيا والجزائر.

الانقلاب الأخير إذاً ليس مجرد تغيير عادي في الحكم بقدر ما أراد الذهاب نحو إنهاء القضية الفلسطينية على أساس إبعاد ملايين الفلسطينيين من الأردن وإلغاء الدور السياسي للأردن المتأسس منذ 1930 كفاصل بين فلسطين المحتلة والاردن له وظائف استيعاب المهاجرين الفلسطينيين وإقفال طرق الخليج من جزيرة العرب وفلسطين المحتلة.

فهل أراد انقلاب الامير حمزة بين الحسين تحقيق إجراءات سياسية عديدة تجري دائماً عقب كل انقلاب عسكري ام ان الذين يقفون خلفه، نحوا منحى إلغاء الاردن السياسي وانهاء القضية الفلسطينية؟

خصوصاً أن الجهود المبذولة لإنجاح الانقلاب لم تكن عادية لأنها شملت مراكب قوى كبرى في دولة عادية كالأردن، ولا يمكن لأحد ان يصدق أن الاميركيين والاسرائيليين لم يكونوا على علم بذلك ويذهبون مذهب تشجيعه؟

أما لماذا التشجيع فلإنهاء القضية الفلسطينية بإنهاء دور الأردن لأنه لم يعد مطلوباً كما كان في الثلاثينيات.

هنا يقول المتورّطون الخارجيون إن ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان أراد بقوة تأييده لـ«إسرائيل» فنحا منحى تأييدها بإنهاء قضية فلسطين وهذا لا يكون الا بإنهاء قضية فلسطين المتمركزة سياسياً وايديولوجياً وبيولوجياً في الأردن، لذلك دعم محاولة انقلاب أوهم فيها حمزة بن الحسين أنه يريد الانفتاح على اسرائيل بانقلاب أردني، لا يؤدي الى تغييرات بيولوجية عميقة، بل ينتج تحالفاً أردنياً – إسرائيلياً سعودياً.

بدوره صدّق الحمزة خصوصاً بعد تلقيه كميات كبيرة من المال معتقداً أنها دليل تأييد سعودي وغربي وإسرائيلي في آن معاً.

الهدف اذاً كما يبدو هو تحويل الأردن الى لعبة لإنهاء قضية فلسطين بالتعاون بين ثلاثي رأسه محمد بن سلمان السعودي الذي يريد بقوة حلفاً إسرائيلياً سعودياً، والعرب و«إسرائيل» بأجنحتها اليمينية واليسارية والدينية المتطرفة.

هل هذا يعني انتهاء مرحلة الدلال الأردني مع الأميركيين والإسرائيليين بعد واقعة الانقلاب الأخير؟

يبدو أن هذا الانقلاب ذهب نحو تجديد ممر النظام الأردني من طريق غربي إسرائيلي وسعودي أردني من جهة ثانية، فأصبح صعباً إحداث تغييرات بيولوجية عميقة باستثناء بعض التحسينات السياسية وهذا شيء ممكن قد يدفع اليه الأميركيون والبريطانيون.

ويبدو أن المعونات المالية للأردن الآتية من الإنجليز والسعوديين والإسرائيليين قد تشهد تطوراً كبيراً له وظائف متعددة أهمها تأكيد استمرارية النظام السياسي الأردني كحال الأنظمة العربية المماثلة.

كما أن الأميركيين أخذوا على عاتقهم تأمين دعم خليجي كبير للأردن من السعودية والإمارات والكويت ودولة الإمارات. وهذا يعني العمر المديد لأصحاب الأعمار القصيرة.

هذا ما أكده أمين سر المملكة باسم عوض الله الذي كشف أن الاردن اجتاز مرحلة جديدة برعاية أميركية سعودية إسرائيلية وأمراء أردنيين.

سياسياً، يذهب الملك الأردني عبدالله ناحية بناء تحالفات مع مصر و«إسرائيل» والإمارات ومحمد بن سلمان والغرب الاميركي والأوروبي لتأمين استقرار قوي لمملكة الأردن التي لا تنتج شيئاً وتتلقى رواتبها من الدول الأجنبية كل شهر جديد، كالعمال تماماً. أهذه دولة؟

لم تنته اذاً خدمة الأردن التاريخية مع تأمين انضباط كبير لكامل أمراء العائلة المالكة، على ان يتولى الراعي الأميركي توفير الحماية للراعي الملكي واخواته والعاملين عنده من كافة الاتجاهات مع منع الفلسطينيين من أية اتجاهات مستقلة والبقاء تحت رايات الهاشميين يصِلون سعودية محمد بن سلمان وبن غوريون وجيش العدو بقوات فلسطينيّة.

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MBS Has Lost the War in Yemen. It’s Time to End the Humanitarian Disaster

MBS Has Lost the War in Yemen. It’s Time to End the Humanitarian Disaster

By Madawi al-Rasheed, MEE

This week, Saudi Arabia announced an initiative to end the Yemen war and implement a nationwide ceasefire. The move was met with rejection by the Ansarullah group, the main protagonists on the other side of this six-year-old conflict.

The proposal, according to the Ansarullah, didn’t promise the total lifting of the blockade imposed by the Saudis on Sanaa International Airport and Hudaydah port, which, with Saleef Port, handle about 80 percent of Yemen’s imports including staples and fuel.

The Ansarullah are now on the offensive and are unlikely to retreat or surrender. It is most likely that they will continue their offensive in Marib and sweep the shrinking territories and fragile authority of the Riyadh-based exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

On Wednesday, Jawad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, said Iran backed a peace plan that would end the blockade and violence.

A weak position

Saudi Arabia’s announcement is triggered by its weak position following the collapse of the Arab coalition that supported its campaign and the vanishing international consent over this treacherous war on its southern borders.

Internationally, since 2015, the US under the Obama administration gave the Saudis the green light to start air strikes against the Ansarullah who swept the capital in September 2014 and later extended their control over most of the Yemeni population. Under the pretext of confronting Iranian expansion in this strategic part of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia launched the Yemen war on 25 March 2015.

Later, former President Donald Trump continued to support the Saudis without encouraging them to seek a diplomatic solution to resolve the conflict. With the new Biden administration in office, the Saudis find themselves without this international cover as voices in Washington made it clear that one of the new administration’s Middle East policy pillars is to end the war in Yemen and relaunch negotiation with Iran, the Ansarullah’s main supporter, over its nuclear program.

Regionally, Saudi’s main ally, the UAE, pulled out of the war but still maintains a stronghold on the coast that guarantees its own maritime expansion all the way to the Horn of Africa. Its patronage over southern Yemenis had revived an old project to separate the southern coastal region from a unified Yemen.

The UAE’s intervention resulted in consolidating an independent canton, loyal to it. Saudi Arabia counted on Egypt and Pakistan but both hesitated to get involved on the ground, leaving the Saudis to fight a war without real capabilities despite its advanced airpower, thanks to a constant supply from Western governments, mainly the US and Britain.

This weak and lonely Saudi position contrasts with that of the empowered Ansarullah, no longer designated as a terrorist organization in Washington. The Ansarullah intensified their drone attacks at the heart of Saudi economic facilities over recent months, targeting oil installations and airports. They were quick to understand the weak Saudi position. The initial Saudi offensive strategy in the pursuit of securing its southern borders remains unfulfilled.

The Salman ‘doctrine’

The 2015 so-called Salman’s Doctrine, a flexing of muscles aimed at Saudi domestic audiences who are skeptical about the rise of King Salman’s son, Mohammad, to the highest positions in government, has stumbled in Yemen.

The then Saudi deputy crown prince and minister of defense needed a quick victory in Yemen that would grant him a new legitimacy as the savior and military commander.

MBS failed to achieve this. Instead, he is left alone to beg the Ansarullah to accept his ‘peace’ proposal, which falls short of alleviating the plight of the Yemenis and their aspiration to end the war.

This war was not inevitable but foreign military intervention by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE did not revive the project of a unified and democratic Yemen, nor affirmed the prospects for two stable Yemens – one in the north and one in the south – as historically has been the case…

A humanitarian catastrophe

Historically, Saudi Arabia favored maintaining patronage networks with the northern Yemeni tribes whose sheikhs regularly received subsidies and handouts to keep them loyal to the Saudi royal family. In Sanaa, the Saudis supported the late President Ali Abdullah Saleh but he turned against them and forged a new alliance with the Ansarullah, his previous arch enemies.

Mohammed bin Salman stopped the old patronage network and opted for outright war, believing that he would become the master of Yemen and its diverse population. Consequently, in addition to Saleh, most of the northern tribes shifted their allegiance to the Ansarullah.

Today, Yemen faces a humanitarian and economic crisis of a magnitude unseen in previous decades. According to the United Nations, almost 16 million Yemenis live under famine conditions, with 2.5 million children suffering from malnutrition. Yemen’s poor infrastructure is destroyed to the extent of making any potential reconstruction very long and costly.

King Salman and his son will go down in history as the destroyers of a country, people and resources. Without serious effort to contribute to the reconstruction of Yemen, the country will be drawn into several decades of upheaval and misery…

End the war

If the war stops without a detailed reconstruction program, there is a risk of many losing their livelihood and income. Local actors may not see an immediate benefit from a ceasefire in the absence of real alternatives that would allow them to survive in a destroyed country. 

The Saudi offer fails to detail how peace and economic reconstruction can resume once the air strikes stop. Today, the Yemen war has generated new forces that seem to be beyond the capacity of Saudi Arabia, which contributed to this destruction, to contain or reverse.

With the international community cutting its overseas aid and development programs – the British government is one of them – the prospect for peace in Yemen does not look imminent.

The United Nations should be given an international mandate to launch a fresh peace initiative whose main objectives should be political and economic. Politically, Yemenis should be encouraged to revive that historical moment in 2011 when all factions and groups sought democracy in the “Change Squares” of most Yemeni cities.

Economically, the international community, including above all Saudi Arabia, should pledge to contribute to a fund that starts the long and arduous journey towards recovery.

Dr Marwa Osman: Hands Off Yemen! Introduction to her program

THE SIX-YEAR EPIC FAILURE: RIYADH’S CRUSADE ON SANA’A

22.03.2021

South Front

Six years of the Saudi-led war have passed in Yemen, and it keeps going with no sign of a peaceful solution on the horizon.

The “occasion” was “commemorated” with a briefing by Ansar Allah, or as they are popularly known – the Houthis. Some impressive numbers were shared.

Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sari said that the Saudi-led coalition carried out more than 266,150 airstrikes throughout these 6 years. The predominant number of those strikes targeted Yemeni citizens, homes, cities and other infrastructure.

On the side of the Houthis, at least 1,348 separate missile operations were launched, with nearly 500 being behind enemy lines on key military facilities of the Kingdom and the UAE. In total, the Houthi Air Force carried out 12,623 raids with drones. In 2021 alone, Ansar Allah has carried out 1,464 operations, including 124 attack operations, and the rest reconnaissance.

The Ansar Allah ground forces carried out 12,366 combat operations throughout the years. When it comes to losses, the Houthis didn’t share theirs. They claimed that over the 6 years, the Saudi-led coalition had suffered some significant losses. In total, more than 240,000 fighters were either killed or injured.

This includes UAE forces, Sudanese mercenaries, Saudi armed forces, as well as the troops of the Yemen puppet government.

As expected, the update focuses more on what the Houthis achieved and what Saudi Arabia has lost, but it has been an open secret that Riyadh’s intervention in Yemen hasn’t been a glowing example of success.

In just the past few days, leading up to March 22nd, the Houthis carried out a significant attack on Aramco oil facilities. A refinery was struck by 6 suicide drones. The Saudi Ministry of Energy claimed that the attack caused a fire that was “quickly” controlled by the refinery’s staff. Satellite imagery, however, showed the damage to be much more extensive than Riyadh let on.

Saudi Arabia, on its part, released footage of its airstrikes on Ansar Allah in the Marib province. The videos presented 17 pinpoint airstrikes by Riyadh warplanes on vehicles and positions on several fronts of the province. The Saudi-led coalition also released a video showing precision airstrikes on a cave supposedly used by the Houthis to store suicide drones. It is purportedly located near Yemen’s capital Sana’a.

In spite of these videos, and the Saudi attempt to present the situation in a somewhat positive light, the Saudi-led coalition has been slowly retreating in Marib.

Six years of war have passed in Yemen, in which massive amounts of funds were “invested” by Riyadh to fight a war that it still can’t even go near winning.

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The Arab yacht summit plotters have fallen out

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is DYxJNIWWAAMxxsb.jpg
George Nader (fourth from left) organised a secret summit of Arab leaders on a yacht in the Red Sea in late 2015
David HearstDavid Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

David Hearst

15 March 2021 15:09 UTC 

An alliance of regional rulers that put so much effort into suppressing democracy is weakening now as its participants bear substantial grudges against each other

For the past decade, an alliance of rulers has bent every sinew to halt the onward, and irreversible, fight for human rights in the Arab world.

To preserve their own decaying regimes, this alliance has laid waste to once proud and civilised nations. It has waged wars in Yemen, Libya and Syria, reducing much of them to rubble. It has funded coups in Egypt, and attempted them in Tunisia and Turkey. The blood of hundreds of thousands has been shed in these interventions.

They were fought in the name of defending the region from Islamism and extremism. In this, they attracted the credulous, or cynical, support of former colonial powers France and Britain. But in reality their “jihad” had nothing to do with defending liberalism or secularism.

These regimes had no qualms about enlisting religious forces for political ends. Their quest was for hegemony, or how to transfer autocracy from one generation to another. For them, power was part of the family silver.

Late in 2015 – two years after their first major success, that being the military coup in Egypt, the leaders of this alliance – crown princes and rulers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan – met secretly on a yacht to plot their plans for the region. To summon the same cast of characters on a yacht in the Red Sea today, six years on, would, however, be more difficult. 

For one thing, the fixer of this secret summit is in prison. George Nader is serving ten years on child sex charges. For another, the participants today bear substantial grudges against each other.

Money like rice?

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt have cooled fastest. The Saudis no longer have “money like rice” as the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi once bragged to his chief of staff Abbas Kamel. And any way King Salman is not as generous as his late brother Abdullah was, even if he had the money, which he doesn’t.

Sisi has no interest in following Mohammed bin Salman into the camp of pariah dictators

Sisi tried to get a new line of funding from Riyadh by giving it two uninhabited but strategically placed Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to much protest at home. But the Saudis are no longer interested in such baubles like the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba.  

Their eyes light up when contemplating cheaper and faster ways to the Mediterranean – through Israel. Egypt is not saying it, but it is getting increasingly irritated by plans to bypass the Suez Canal, which it enlarged to the tune of $8.2bn.

Whether it is reversing a once-secret desert pipeline that ran from Iran to Israel during the time of the Shah, or the development of ports and free zones in Israel, or Blue Raman, a new fibre optic cable for the Middle East, it’s all pointing in one direction for Cairo – a huge loss of money and regional influence. 

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)

It is not as if there have not been past divergences between banker and client state. Egypt’s refusal to send troops to fight in Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war in Yemen was one. It has refused to be as hostile to Iran and its allies in Lebanon. But two new factors are persuading Egypt that its national interests are not always best served by its regional allies. 

The Biden factor

The first is the arrival of US President Joe Biden and his obvious antipathy to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – even though he refuses to sanction him. Sisi has no interest in following bin Salman into the camp of pariah dictators. Rather, he has a strong motive to distance himself from that clan.For Trump’s Middle East allies, Joe Biden is a new nightmareRead More »

Bin Salman’s international reputation has been tarnished by the release of the US intelligence report into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. When it was released, Mohammed bin Salman expected that every member of his club, and even those that were not, like Qatar, to send a message of support. 

Most did. King Abdullah II of Jordan; Sudan’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, flew to Riyadh. Others like Bahrain and the UAE issued statements. The only country to fall silent was Egypt.

The second factor was the military defeat of the Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, when his forces were repulsed from Tripoli and retreated to Sirte. The Turkish intervention, and the effectiveness of its drones, came as a shock to Egypt, whose agenda in Libya was driven by the Emirates. Egypt, however, invested considerably in training, arming and supplying Haftar’s forces.

When both the UAE and Egypt discovered that they were on the losing side – and this was sometime before Haftar pushed Sisi to invade – some in the Egyptian media began to question publicly why Egypt was in this position. Libya is important to its neighbour, not least because of the millions of Egyptians who – in times of peace – work there. When Libya prospers, so does Egypt. Haftar’s defeat opened the way for direct talks with the government in Tripoli, and covert talks with Turkish intelligence chiefs. 

As a result, the candidates of the list which lost the election to the post of prime minister had been agreed beforehand by both Turkey and Egypt. When the Libyans rejected those candidates, it did not disturb the tacit understanding between Ankara and Cairo. Nor are things as close between Cairo and Abu Dhabi. The froideur started over a question of money. But it rapidly went much further over Abu Dhabi’s recognition of Israel

The second wave

The second wave of normalisation with Israel displaced the first. Both Egypt and Jordan lost influence as the gatekeepers of the Arab world to Israel, in the same degree to which the UAE gained it.

It’s no coincidence that two of the nations that attended that yacht summit are in the process of softening their hostility to Ankara

When Abu Dhabi announced it would invest $10bn in Israeli energy, manufacturing, water, space, healthcare and agri-tech, it was no coincidence that Jordan at first refused permission for Benjamin Netanyahu’s jet to use its airspace, and he had to cancel his trip to pick up the prize money in person. Netanyahu’s office said the dispute with Amman stemmed from Israel’s decision to cancel the Jordanian crown prince’s plans to visit the Al-Aqsa mosque the day before.  

Much of the legitimacy of the Hashemite dynasty rests on its role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, a role that is now being overtly threatened by its Saudi cousin with Israel’s encouragement. Bin Salman is playing a zero-sum game. By advancing his own relationship with Israel, he is weakening the stability of Israel’s safest border. 

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends the closing session of an African summit meeting (AFP)
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (AFP)

The yacht summit was convened to counter Turkey and Iran’s resistance to their schemes. So it’s also no coincidence that two of the nations that attended that summit are in the process of softening their hostility to Ankara.

Enters Turkey

Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are being pushed into each other arms by a US president who is hostile to the Saudi crown prince and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mohammed bin Salman was told by his advisers that if Biden won, he would have to open relations with Turkey. 

Where foreign relations are based on secret pacts between leaders each of whom have good reason to fear their own people, they are built on sand

Bin Salman is not convinced, and can’t overcome the feeling that Erdogan was out to get him for having ordered Khashoggi’s murder. But the relationship between his father, King Salman, and Erdogan was never ruptured and so halting attempts are being made.

Qatar has offered to mediate, which is ironic, because when the boycott of the Gulf peninsula states started, the Turks offered to mediate. Turkey maintains strong relations with Oman and Kuwait and both Ankara and Riyadh have an interest in showing Washington they are regional players.

But is more going on under the table? Recently the Houthis claimed to have shot down a drone that “had proven its worth in Azerbaijan”, an oblique reference to Turkey. It was a Turkish drone, but not one used in Azerbaijan. Last year the Saudi government signed a deal with a local company to supply armed drones after getting a technology transfer from a Turkish defence firm, Vestel Karayel. Six drones were delivered. 

Turkey denies there was anything official about this technology transfer. A Turkish source familiar with the defence industry said Vestel did not seek government authorisation to make such a tech transfer to Riyadh. Still, the incident raised eyebrows. Janes defence news said the Karayel has not been previously known to be in service with the Saudi military.

In any case the Saudi boycott of Turkish goods still continues.

Repairing ties with Egypt

Last week’s flurry of statements from the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, chief counsellor to the president Ibrahim Kalin and the president himself about turning the page with Egypt have been downplayed by Cairo.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, confirming contacts with Cavusoglu, said that Turkey must “align with Egypt’s principles” before relations could return to normal. And the editor in chief of Egypt’s al Watan newspaper published ten conditions before relations could be restored.

This will have the same effect on Ankara as the 13 demands the blockading countries laid on Qatar.

The optimism in Ankara started when Egypt announced an oil and gas exploration bid in the Eastern Mediterranean which acknowledged the coordinates of the continental shelf declared by Ankara. The Greek foreign minister, Nikos Dendias, claims to have since “adjusted” those coordinates after a trip to Cairo.Turkey-Egypt relations: What’s behind their new diplomatic push?Read More »

Turkish intelligence chiefs have, however, met their Egyptian counterparts several times. Apart from Libya, Turkey is offering the Egyptians help in their dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. UAE is doing the opposite by offering help to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmet. 

Mohammed Dahlan, the Abu Dhabi-based former Fatah security chief, visited Addis in an announced visit. What was not announced was that his boss Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed went with him, according to one informed source. Egypt is baulking at the Turkish charm offensive and there has been no breakthrough.

“Egypt wants Ankara to take at least a symbolic step on the presence of Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey,” an official told MEE. 

If that is what is needed, it will not materialise. The Muslim Brotherhood does not have a physical presence like a regional office in Turkey. So there is nothing to close down. To go against individual members of the large expatriate Egyptian community in Istanbul would mean extraditing individuals, which Turkey is not going to do. Nor is there any discernible Turkish pressure on the Egyptian opposition media in Istanbul. Cairo would particularly like Al Sharq television off air.

“The Turkish authorities have nothing to offer nor withdraw when it comes to Al Sharq Channel because we are not funded by Turkey or Qatar,” its owner Dr Ayman Nour, the Egyptian opposition politician, told MEE. “We have not sensed any change on the Turkish side with regard to Al Sharq.”

But the axis itself is weakening and the lessons for everyone in the region are clear. Where foreign relations are based on secret pacts between leaders, each of whom have good reason to fear their own people, they are built on sand. Where they are based on the strategic interests of their peoples, they are more durable. The more national interests are based on the interests of their peoples rather than the rulers, the greater the stability of the region

Thus far it has been warm embraces one day, and stabs in the back the next.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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Congress May Have to Act to Punish Saudi Arabia

Congress May Have to Act to Punish Saudi Arabia

By David M. Wight, Washington Post

While President Biden enjoyed widespread praise for releasing an intelligence report concluding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he also received criticism for not sanctioning Mohammed. On March 1, Rep. Tom Malinowski [D-N.J.] introduced a bill denying the prince entry into the United States and conditioning any future US arms sales to Saudi Arabia upon the White House certifying that the kingdom was no longer intimidating its critics in the United States.

That fits with a recent trend: Both Biden and members of Congress have vocally supported curbing arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in part because of the killing of Khashoggi. Their willingness to follow through, however, will face the same challenges that confronted, and ultimately torpedoed, President Jimmy Carter’s resolve to reduce arms sales to the Saudis. In fact, several key developments in US-Saudi relations transformed Carter and members of Congress from advocates of arms-sales restrictions to promoters of expanding sales.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, the United States, Saudi Arabia’s primary arms provider, limited the size and scope of the weapons it sold to the Saudis so as to conserve its limited budget and restrain potential arms races in the Middle East.

During the 1970s, however, oil prices skyrocketed, and Saudi Arabia, at that point the largest oil exporter in the world, enjoyed a windfall. Suddenly, the kingdom had unparalleled influence over the global oil market and enormous revenue with which to buy imports, including weapons. Conversely, the United States experienced rapidly rising energy import costs and fuel shortages. These problems compounded when Saudi Arabia led an Arab oil embargo against the United States in retaliation for its massive arms resupply to “Israel” during the 1973 Arab-“Israeli” War.

The administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford worked strenuously to repair Washington’s tattered alliance with the Saudi monarchy and obtain its help in restraining oil prices, in large part by offering the sale of advanced US weapons. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger offered Saudi King Faisal the US government’s “cooperation in the military field … to strengthen our friendship on a long-term basis.” Faisal and his successors responded positively, ending the Arab oil embargo in 1974 and subduing demands within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for even higher oil prices. In exchange, US arms and military construction sales to Saudi Arabia soared from $300 million in 1972 to $7.1 billion in 1976.

Yet this provoked increasing opposition within the United States, including in Congress. An array of factors drove this opposition, including a desire to protect “Israel’s” military superiority, to curb costly arms races, to reduce the potential for war and to prevent powerful weapons technology from falling into hostile hands through theft or a coup. Accordingly, in 1974, Congress passed a law empowering itself to veto major arms sales approved by the president. In 1976, a bipartisan coalition used that new tool to compel Ford to reduce missile sales to Saudi Arabia.

That year, Carter, as a presidential candidate, declared that the rise in US arms sales to the Arab world constituted “a deviation from idealism … from a commitment to [‘Israel’]” and “a yielding to economic pressure … on the oil issue.” Once president, while seeking to preserve Saudi-US cooperation, Carter worked to steadily reduce weapons and military construction sales to Saudi Arabia. In 1977, during his first year in office, they dropped by more than two-thirds.

But Saudi leaders relentlessly pressed for more US weapons, saying they needed to defend themselves against Soviet-armed countries such as Iraq and what was then South Yemen. They especially desired to purchase advanced F-15 jet fighters. Saudi Crown Prince Fahd, for example, told the US ambassador that “the F-15 issue was a basic, crucial test of our relationship” and threatened to obtain comparable weapons from France, Britain or even the Soviet Union, countries that had ignored Carter’s entreaties for shared restraint in global arms transfers.

To preserve the Saudi-US relationship and obtain Saudi cooperation on oil and the Arab-“Israeli” ‘peace’ process, Carter shifted course and agreed to the F-15 sales in 1978. Activists and members of Congress mobilized to block the deal, however, including a young Sen. Joe Biden. Carter, along with Saudi-hired PR firms and corporations doing business in the kingdom, spent significant political and monetary capital in making the case to the American public and Congress that the sale served US interests. In a concession to Congress, Carter provided written assurance that the Saudis would not be given certain missile capabilities for their F-15s. Even then, Carter barely won — the House voted to block the sale, and the Senate fell short of a veto only by six votes after an acrimonious debate.

Two events the following year shook Saudi and US leaders. The 1979 Iranian revolution ousted the US-aligned Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and replaced him with the hostile Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran’s massive stockpile of US-made weapons now threatened Saudi Arabia. The Soviet Union subsequently invaded Afghanistan, further inflaming the fears of Saudi royals that the Soviets aimed to encircle and conquer them. These two events generated new urgent pleas from Saudi Arabia for additional US arms.

For Carter and many members of Congress, these events made the Saudi kingdom appear even more vital to US interests. In response, they approved $10.2 billion in arms and military construction sales to Saudi Arabia to reassure its leaders of Washington’s commitment to their security. This decision ended presidential efforts to meaningfully restrain Saudi arms purchases for four decades — until now-President Biden entered office.

In the first weeks of his presidency, Biden declared an end to US support for the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, where the use of US weapons has inflamed anti-American sentiment and exacerbated a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 Yemenis. He likewise ordered a halt and review of last-minute arms agreements for Saudi Arabia authorized by predecessor Donald Trump. This has raised the hopes of some activists and politicians that Biden might continue to restrict arms to Saudi Arabia so long as its rulers endanger US interests and human rights. But the experience of the Carter administration cautions against assuming this is inevitable, as does Biden’s refusal to sanction Mohammed.

Some of today’s circumstances are quite different from those of the 1970s. Saudi Arabia’s influence over US oil supplies and prices is significantly less now than it was during the Carter years, lessening the pressure on Washington to satisfy arms requests. Conversely, however, the contemporary alliance between “Israel” and Saudi Arabia against Iran means pro-“Israel” lobbyists, a major force against arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the 1970s, now present, at most, a diminished hurdle.

But the basic bargain established by Nixon and Faisal, and ultimately retained by Carter, remains on the table: The United States sells arms to Saudi Arabia in exchange for Saudi cooperation on issues prioritized by Washington. Whether this arrangement persists depends on the calculations of leaders in both countries.

Saudi Arabia will continue to argue that the threat from Iran necessitates increased weapons imports and threaten to acquire arms elsewhere if US offers are not forthcoming. That would be costly for the Saudis, because their armed forces are heavily reliant on US weapons technology and training, and it would inevitably weaken the Saudi-US relationship. Yet Saudi leaders may reluctantly attempt such an undertaking if they determine Washington has abandoned the alliance or attached too many strings to it.

The Biden administration seeks to maintain the Saudi-US partnership but expects greater Saudi cooperation on human rights and US strategic concerns in exchange for more US weapons. How demanding Biden will be on these points remains to be seen. But just as for Carter, the more Biden believes vital US interests in the Middle East are threatened by Iran or another power, the more likely he is to abandon other objectives and turn to arms sales to secure the Saudi-US alliance.

Congress could prove to be a wild card: It will weigh the same issues as the White House, but historically it has shown more appetite for restricting arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This raises the possibility that it could step in if the administration proves too acquiescent.

Khashoggi Murder: “He Knew Too Many Saudi Secrets on 9/11 Massacre”. US Intelligence Accused MBS but Forgot Motive

Washington Post journalist might be killed for his “invaluable inside information” after a meeting with an investigator of World Trade Center victims’ families

By Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio -March 11, 2021

by Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio 

Versione originale in Italiano

At the moment of his lightning-fast appointment the day after the inauguration of American President Joseph Biden in the White House, the Director of US National Intelligence, Avril Haines had announced the imminent declassification of the dossier on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Those anxiously awaiting this moment were a little disappointed because the report revealed by the ODNI (Office Director of National Intelligence), the command station for all intelligence agencies from the CIA to the NSA of the Pentagon, did nothing but reiterate – with the fragile official nature of a correspondence by a partisan intelligence – what is already partly known to all the media in relation to the alleged role of “instigator” of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the brutal killing of the famous Arab commentator of the Washington Post.

Khashoggi, a distant relative of the royal family, disappeared in October 2018 after entering the Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul. Riyadh initially denied knowing of his fate but later admitted that the journalist had been brutally murdered inside the diplomatic office, denying any involvement of members of the royal family in the murder that he called a “rogue operation. “.

Washington Post columnist Jamal Kashoggi murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

In fact, the journalist had entered the Consulate of his country in Istanbul on the morning of 2 October 2018 to obtain the documents to marry his Turkish girlfriend, Hatice Cengiz, who had remained outside waiting for him in vain. He was in fact killed and his body torn to pieces to make all traces disappear.

«We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – read on Intelligence paper – We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decisionmaking in the Kingdom since 2017, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi. Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization».

Almost three years later, in which those responsible were sentenced by the judges of the Saudi Kingdom first to death and then “pardoned” with enormous reductions in sentences, the documents declassified by the ODNI director, Avril Haines, former CIA deputy director in the administration Obama then became one of the suspected prophetesses of the Covid-19 pandemic together with Bill Gates by participating in the famous Event 201 exercise in October 2019 financed by the Microsoft Tycoon Foundation, they add few certain details and therefore assume the importance of a political move instead that of a contribution to international justice invoked by the UN and the victim’s girlfriend.

THE ROLE OF THE ROYAL GUARD RAPID INTERVENTION FORCE

«At the time of the Khashoggi murder, the Crown Prince probably fostered an environment in which aides were afraid that failure to complete assigned tasks might result in him firing or arresting them. This suggests that the aides were unlikely to question Muhammad bin Salman’s orders or undertake sensitive actions without his consent» adds the US intelligence report which navigates the sphere of assumptions before revealing any circumstantial elements.

«The IS-member Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 included officials who worked for, or were associated with, the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court. At the time of the operation, CSMARC was led by Saud al-Qahtani, a close adviser of Muhammad bin Salman, who claimed publicly in mid-2018 that he did not make decisions without the Crown Prince’s approval» the ODNI document reports.

«The team also included seven members of Muhammad bin Salman’s elite personal protective detail, known as the Rapid Intervention Force (RIF). The RIF-a subset of the Saudi Royal Guard-exists to defend the Crown Prince, answers only to him, and had directly participated in earlier dissident suppression operations in the Kingdom and abroad at the Crown Prince’s direction. We judge that members of the RIF would not have participated in the operation against Khashoggi without Muhammad bin Salman’s approval».

The document desecreated by US intelligence on Khasoggi’s assassination – click on image for pdf

The document concludes with a list of Saudis who would have had a role in this “pre-planned” action but it is not known “how far in advance” adds the office headed by Avril Haines before exposing another fundamental random element «We have high confidence that the following individuals participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi on behalf of Muhammad bin Salman. We do not know whether these individuals knew in advance that the operation would result in Khashoggi’s death».

NO SANCTIONS FOR THE CROWN PRINCE

The information gathered by the “NIO (National Intelligence Officer) for Near East” and by the powerful counter-espionage of the Central Intelligence Agency, however, did not know – or wanted – to reveal the probable motive for the murder, at the time hypothesized by two interesting journalistic investigations that did not they were highly regarded by the US secret services because they risked reopening a sore wound.

Both the Australian Herald Sun and the American Florida Bulldog, in fact, highlighted too many things Kashoggi knew about the role of the Saudis in the 9/11 attacks as the probable cause of the crime.

Before seeing why this track is at least likely and supported by significant clues, let’s analyze the immediate consequences of the ODNI dossier. The document expresses “a high conviction” about the responsibilities of the individuals involved in the journalist’s death.

US President Joe Biden on Friday said that “significant changes” to policies between the US and Saudi Arabia will be announced as early as Monday. “I spoke to the king yesterday, not the prince. I made it clear to him that the rules are changing and that we will announce significant changes,” Biden told Univision in an interview. “We will hold them accountable for human rights violations and make sure that […] if they want to deal with us, they will have to deal with it in a way that deals with human rights violations.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

In practice, however, Saudi prince Mohamed bin Salman will not be hit by US sanctions. Politico reports this, citing sources from the US administration. The US Treasury is preparing to impose sanctions on Saudi general Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy head of the intelligence services in Riyadh, for the Khashoggi assassination. Sanctions also for the Saudi Rapid Intervention Force involved in the murder.

The US State Department launches the so-called ‘Khashoggi policy’ or ‘Khashoggi ban’ to punish all people who, acting in the name of a government, are thought to have directly participated or participate in activities against “serious and extraterritorial” dissidents . The Bloomberg agency reports. The US administration has already identified 76 people who could be sanctioned with the withdrawal or restriction of visas.

“The government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment contained in the report concerning the kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit “expressed his support for the statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry refuting the conclusions of the US intelligence report, underlining that the latter is not a judicial or international body and that the related to human rights should not be politicized ”.

STOP OF AMERICAN WEAPONS FOR SAUDI ARABIA

In just a month since his inauguration, this is the second time that President Biden has targeted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Previously it had in fact suspended the sale of arms to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi (UAE capital) in relation to the embargo on Yemen, often violated by suppliers such as the American war coropration Raytheon through subcontracts such as the one to the German Rehinmetall which used the branch factory. Italian (in Sardinia) to honor supplies with various escamtoge recently blocked by the government of Rome right after the Biden provision.

However, it should be remembered that the “Abrahamic Agreements” on the normalization of relations between the Persian Gulf countries with Israel will allow Tel Aviv to become an intermediary in the arms business.

Israeli ministers approved $ 9 billion worth of arms purchases with the United States on Sunday, the New Arab reported. The sizeable deal includes the purchase of Chinook helicopters, F-35 warplanes and aerial refueling tankers, as well as a large amount of bombs and ammunition, ”Middle East Monitor wrote on 14 February.

A few days later Biden tweeted: “I spoke today with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and affirmed the firm commitment of the United States to the security of our ally Israel. Our teams are in constant contact to strengthen US-Israel strategic cooperation on all regional security issues, including Iran”. About a week later the POTUS (President of the United States) ordered the US Air Force F-35s to bomb Iranian militias in Syria that have been haunted by Israeli Defense Forces missiles for years.

It should also not be forgotten that Raytheon had an exceptional American consultant until a few weeks ago: General Lloyd Austin, former commander of various missions in the Middle East who discharged from the US army in 2016, appointed by Biden.

CIA TOP SECRET FILE: THE US WAR IN SYRIA PLANNED SINCE 1983

And it is important to remember that during the previous administration of President Barack Obama (of which Biden himself was deputy) the Pentagon and the CIA Mom project supplied Raytheon missiles to the Syrian jihadist factions, with the excuse that they were rebels against the Bashar Al Assad regime. in the attempt of regime change planned by the Central Intelligence Agency itself since his father Haziz ruled in 1983, as confirmed by a document declassified by the USA and published exclusively by Gospa News.

As revealed by the SETA dossier, another study unveiled in Europe by our web media, 21 groups suspected of being linked to Islamic terrorism were in fact given supplies of the deadly BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rockets (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided – launched from a tube, optically tracked, remote guided), designed by Hughes Aircraft in the 1960s, but currently manufactured by Raytheon.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that the precious sale of American bombs to Saudi Arabia will be able to continue through other channels: not only Israel but also the United Kingdom, already protagonist of a colossal business in the Arms Lobby with the Muslim Brotherhood, as we will see in others. reportage.

This is why the truth is always hidden behind a veil of diplomatic hypocrisy as in the case of the murder of the Muslim journalist of the Washington Post.

THE JOURNALIST OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERS

When I was looking for updated information on the September 11 2001 massacre to write a synthetic report aimed at highlighting the international complicity behind the attacks attributed to Al Qaeda, I came across some precious articles that correlated the attack on the Twin World Trade Center Towers with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

The question is so complex and obscured by misdirections that I do not claim to spread absolute certainties. But the reportages to which I will refer confirm each other and the reliability of one of them is indirectly confirmed by the authoritativeness of a journalist who made various scoops by interviewing some of the American senators who supported not only the thesis of an international intrigue behind the massacre plot but they blamed Saudi Arabia without any hesitation.

In the Australian newspaper Herald Sun, investigative reporter Andrew Bolt already on October 16, 2018 analyzed the complex figure of Kashoggi, suspected of being an Arab secret agent, before becoming a champion of human rights as a columnist for the Washington Post of Jeff Bezos, founder and owner of Amazon but also an exemplary figure of that financial Deep State transversal to Republicans and Democrats, supported by international Freemasonry and military intelligence.

AL BAGHDADI: ISIS CALIPH AND MOSSAD-CIA AGENT HIDDEN BY US

«In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post» Bolt adds perhaps forgetting those who argue that this Islamic political-religious organization would have been created by Western Freemasonry to more effectively control the Middle East through the historical allies of Turkey and Qatar where in fact the Muslim Brotherhood are more influential as highlighted in the reportage Weapons Lobby 4.

Herald Sun then recalls the murdered reporter’s connection with «Yasin Aktay — a former MP for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) — whom Khashoggi told his fiancée to call if he did not emerge from the consulate. The AKP is, in effect, the Turkish branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. His most trusted friend, then, was an adviser to President Erdogan, who is fast becoming known as the most vicious persecutor of journalists on earth. Khashoggi never meaningfully criticised Erdogan. So we ought not to see this as the assassination of a liberal reformer».

Heavy words especially because they refer to a man killed and then dismembered to hide his remains. But which are in perfect harmony with the theory reported in a serial dossier by Irina Tsukerman, a lawyer specializing in human rights and national security in New York, an analyst on geopolitics and on US foreign policy on American and Israeli publications such as Begin- Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (Besa).

«In the wake of Qassem Soleimani’s killing by the US, Iran’s significant role in 9/11 briefly gained currency. What remains completely obscured, however, are the Saudi Islamists hiding in plain sight, who are trading on their past associations with Western intelligence to pursue the same agenda they had pre-9/11. Saudi Islamists have both an ideological and a financial interest in seeing the kingdom’s modernizing Vision2030 fail».

The lawyer wrote on the Israeli website specializing in military intelligence and therefore exposing himself to the risk of having some connection with the Mossad, the notorious counterintelligence of Tel Aviv, suspected of having had an occult direction both in the training of ISIS leader Al Baghdadi as in the attacks of 11 September 2001 as repeatedly reported by Veterans Today, an information portal managed by the former CIA officer, Gordon Duff, and by Gospa News in our previous investigation.

Precisely for this reason we must first verify and carefully analyze the correlations on the World Trade Center massacre mentioned by Tsukerman who, by calling into question the Iranian Shiite Muslim confession, sworn enemy of the radical Sunni-Salafis such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi Wahhabis, already smell of obvious and gigantic misdirection. To confirm the bias of Tsukerman’s dossier, his three reports are no longer traceable on Besa (but we have screenshots).

KHASHOGGI, FRIEND OF BIN LADEN AND SPY IN RIYADH AND LONDON

But one sentence is instead interesting because it is linked to the Australian article: «Much of what everyone thinks they know about the reform efforts of King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) is actually disinformation produced by these “dissidents.” They include former Saudi intel and Muslim Brotherhood members like Jamal Khashoggi, who wanted Saudi Arabia to become more, not less, like the Islamic state envisioned by Khashoggi’s friend Osama bin Laden».

Let’s close this Israeli parenthesis and return to the Herald Sun which continues the analysis: «Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process… This matters because, although bin Salman has rejected Wahhabism — to the delight of the West — he continues to view the Muslim Brotherhood as the main threat most likely to derail his vision for a new Saudi Arabia. Most of the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia who have been imprisoned over the past two years — Khashoggi’s friends — have historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi had therefore emerged as a de facto leader of the Saudi branch. Due to his profile and influence, he was the biggest political threat to bin Salman’s rule outside of the royal family».

Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden

«He had befriended Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan and Sudan while championing his jihad against the Soviets in dispatches. At that same time, he was employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family. The result? Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi who had the beef on the royals’ intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. That would have been crucial if he had escalated his campaign to undermine the crown prince» .

«Like the Saudi royals, Khashoggi dissociated himself from bin Laden after 9/11 (which Khashoggi and I watched unfold together in the Arab News office in Jeddah). But he then teamed up as an adviser to the Saudi ambassador to London and then Washington, Prince Turki Al Faisal» adds Andrew Bolt.

Finally, the Australian journalist recalls that «The latter had been Saudi intelligence chief from 1977 until just ten days before the 9/11 attacks, when he inexplicably resigned. Once again, by working alongside Prince Turki during the latter’s ambassadorial stints, as he had while reporting on bin Laden, Khashoggi mixed with British, US and Saudi intelligence officials. In short, he was uniquely able to acquire invaluable inside information».

ELIMINATED THE WHISTLEBLOWER ON 11 SEPTEMBER

Following the thesis of the Australian reporter who demonstrates that he knew the murdered colleague well, one therefore wonders what he wanted to do with that privileged information … Let’s try to respond with an analysis of human psychology first and then a journalistic investigation. As it turns out, Jamal had really fallen in love with his Turkish girlfriend, Hatice Cengiz, so much so that he was willing to challenge the dangers of which he was well aware in order to go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to collect the documents necessary for the marriage.

It is therefore evident that in order to guarantee a peaceful future for himself and above all for his wife, he may have first made some attempts to mediate a sort of “immunity” from Riyadh and then instead tried to free his conscience about 9/11 by making the secrets public. in his possession in order to frustrate a possible attack against himself.

If I venture into this logical speculation it is only because I have carefully read the article published in the Florida Bulldog by the American investigative journalist Dan Christensen, who became famous for his interviews on the international conspiracy behind the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.

The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,996 people (including all 19 hijackers) and the injury of over 6,000 others. The death toll also included 265 on the four hijacked planes (of which there were no survivors), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and surrounding area, and 125 in the Pentagon.

«““Khashoggi was killed not because he was a dissident, but because of his contact with us,” said James Kreindler, a prominent New York attorney who represents thousands of 9/11 family members and survivors who are suing Saudi Arabia. A month after Saudi-born Khashoggi was allegedly killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit team on Oct. 2, 2018, the U.S. intelligence community disclosed intercepts of communications with Khashoggi’s phone to others. One exchange was with Khalid bin Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed’s younger brother who was then serving as the Saudi ambassador to the US» reported Florida Bulldog.

The Washington Post reported on the alleged conversation between KBS telling Kashoggi to go and collect documents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for his planned wedding assuring him that “it would be safe to do so.” The revelation was part of the CIA dossier that today accuses Mohamed Bin Salman but a few hours later the Saudi ambassador denied the call.

“As we told the Washington Post the last contact I had with Mr. Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the government to release any information regarding this claim,” Khalid wrote on Twitter on Nov. 16, 2018” Khalid wrote on Twitter on Nov. 16, 2018.

MYSTERIOUS MEETING BETWEEN KASHOGGI AND THE INVESTIGATOR

According to attorney Kreindler, October 26, 2017 was also the day Khashoggi met with a 9/11 family investigator in Washington.

«“Khashoggi was part of the intelligence community and we knew he knew a lot about the Saudi government’s involvement in 9/11. He was connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and to [former Saudi Crown Prince] Muhammad bin Nayef, and that’s the reason our investigator went to speak with him,” said Kreindler. “She said would you come to New York and talk to my boss? He said yes”» wrote Christensen. Then he reports the personal considerations of the lawyer of the World Trade Center victims.

“I’m sure that as soon as she left, he called KBS [Khalid bin Salman] and said, ‘Look, the 9/11 lawyers are on to me. They know that I know what you guys did and I didn’t give ‘em anything, but you’re holding my kid in Saudi Arabia and if you harm him I will.’ So my belief is that Khashoggi was killed not because he was a dissident, there are lots of dissidents, but because he was holding this ax over the Saudis’ heads.” told the lawyer.

According to Kreindler, however, it was a preliminary meeting in which Kashoggi, in voluntary exile from Saudi Arabia since September 2017 due to a “climate of fear and intimidation, did not provide any useful information.

The Florida Bulldog article ends by reminding that “there are still other reasons why the kingdom may have wanted Khashoggi’s death. In early 2018 Khashoggi would be involved in creating a defense group called Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) for a counter-narrative to the skeptics of the Arab Spring, initiated by the Obama-Biden administration.

REPORTER UNDER STOCK FOR THE WTC INVESTIGATION

Journalist Christensen had already highlighted the alleged responsibilities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by participating in a sensational interview by Matthew Ogden with former Senator Bob Graham in Naples, Florida, on November 11, 2014. Senator Graham was co-president of the joint Congressional 9/11 inquiry.

«The subject of the interview is the urgency of declassifying the redacted 28 pages of the Congressional Joint Inquiry’s report to expose the role of Saudi Arabia in financing not only the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, but also continuing to finance ISIS and related terrorist organizations today». This was also highlighted by Gospa News in relation to the bombing of the Churches of Sri Lanka in Easter 2019 and in reference to the use of death row inmates in the war in Yemen, witnessed by an exclusive document that proves the links of intelligence of Riyadh by sending militiamen to Al Qaeda even after the attacks on the Twin Towers.

«Investigative reporter Dan Christensen of the Broward Bulldog, as well as Miami-based first amendment attorney Tom Julin also participated in the interview. Christensen and Julin have been instrumental in combating persistent stonewalling by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in pursuing crucial leads pertaining to connections between a prominent Saudi family and a cell of 9/11 hijackers in Sarasota, Florida prior to the 9/11 attacks».

It was highlighted years ago by an article by LaRouchePAC, the communication project of the enterprising Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche Junior, a US politician and activist of the Democrats who passed away in 2019, who for years opposed the Deep State by proposing himself as a candidate in the presidential primary multiple times, even when he ended up in jail for some quirky tax violations uncovered by the FBI that he had accused of cover-ups for the World Trade Center tragedy.

AGGRESSIVE DECEPTION AT THE CONGRESS

In the same reportage was reported a public statement released by the same Senator Graham who launched heavy accusations for the international conspiracy and the consequent misdirection which he defined as an “aggressive deception” at the United States Congress and the public in relation to the attacks.

“The connection is a direct one. Not only has Saudi Arabia been promoting this extreme form of religion, but it also has been the principal financier, first of Al Qaeda, then of the various Al Qaeda franchises around the world—specifically the ones in Somalia and Yemen— and now the support of ISIS…I believe that had the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 been disclosed by the release of the 28 pages, and by the declassification of other information as to the Saudi role and support of the 9/11 hijackers, that it would have made it much more difficult for Saudi Arabia to have continued that pattern of behavior, and I think [we] would have had a good chance of reining in the activity that today Canada, the United States and other countries either are or are considering going to war with.” stated Graham on October,9,2014.

Bush, Cheney Bandar and Rice on the White House balcony on September 13, 2001 – source LaRouchePac

«It’s not a secret that the Saudi Royal family is very close to the Bushes. In fact, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., whose role in 9/11 is highly questionable, is known to many as “Bandar Bush.” Perhaps the Bush Administration blocked the release of the 28 pages to defend the KSA, whom they view as a close family friend, a business partner, and political ally» is the conclusion of LaRouchePAC who in another reportage shows the photo of former US President George W. Bush jr, Vice President Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and Saudi Prince Bandar on the balcony of the White House on September 13, 2001. Two days after the Holocaust of the Twin Towers.

The 28-page document was then declassified in the following years (we will soon make a summary report of the contents), demonstrating the close links between exponents financed by the Saudi government and the Al Qaeda terrorists who planned the attack by the kamikaze hijackers. But relations between the US and Saudi Arabia did not change one iota and the 9/11 investigation remained shrouded in the dust of the collapse of the two towers and building 6 imploded without ever having been reached as if there had been the reported explosion. by many experts. That dust forms a thicker and thicker blanket on the truth.

Today another US Intelligence dossier arrives, unveiled on the political indication of the new president Joe Biden who accuses Bin Mohamed Salman of the brutal murder of Jamal Kashoggi but, just like then, nothing happens between Washington and Riyadh … It is perhaps specious remember that former Republican President Bush junior made a fundamental endorsement for Biden’s victory in the hot 2020 election campaign that pitted him against outgoing President Donald Trump?

A small reaction to the horrendous execution of the Muslim Washington Post journalist took place in Europe. Reporters Without Borders announced that it had filed a complaint in Germany for crimes against humanity against the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed ben Salman, for his “responsibility” in the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and in the incarceration of a thirty of his colleagues. Presented on Monday to the Attorney General of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe “for his jurisdiction” on major international crimes “, the complaint” concerns the widespread and systematic persecution of journalists in Saudi Arabia “, reads an RSF statement.

Will something happen? We do not believe since the MK 80 bombs used by Saudi Arabia also against Yemeni hospitals were produced in Sardinia by RWM Italia Spa which is a subsidiary of the German Rheinmetall, subcontractor of a contract between the Arabs and the American Raytheon …

The Weapons Lobby is stronger than any massacre: even today’s one started with the Covid-19 pandemic, built in a laboratory according to virology and intelligence experts, and continued with Big Pharma vaccines in a single colossal project of the New World Order to control of the world population first in terms of health, then economic and finally military.

read more…

Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio
© COPYRIGHT GOSPA NEWS for VETERANS TODAY only
no reproduction without authorization – Versione originale in Italiano


MAIN SOURCES

GOSPA NEWS – WUHAN.GATES REPORTS

GOSPA NEWS – CORONA VIRUS DOSSIER

GOSPA NEWS – OSINT INVESTIGATIONS

GOSPA NEWS – WARZONES REPORTS

GOSPA NEWS – JIHADISTS REPORTS

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR – ISRAEL DEAL FOR US ARMS PURCHASES

HERALD SUN – DID SAUDIS KILL KHASHOGGI FOR HIS 9/11 SECRETS

FLORIDA BULLDOG  – KHASHOGGI MET 9/11 VICTIMS’ INVESTIGATOR

LAROUCHEPAC – 28PAGES HIDDEN ON 9/11 INQUIRY

AUTHOR DETAILSFabio Giuseppe Carlo CarisioDirector , Gospa NewsFabio is Director and Editor of Gospa News; a Christian Information Journal. Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio, born on 24/2/1967 in Borgosesia, started working as a reporter since he was only 19 years old in the alpine area of Valsesia, Piedmont, his birth region in Italy. After studying literature and history at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, he became deputy director of a local newspaper and specialized in judicial reporting. For about 15 years he is a correspondent from Northern Italy for the Italian newspapers Libero and Il Giornale, also writing important revelations on the Ustica massacre, a report on Freemasonry and organized crime. With independent investigations he collaborates with Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza in important investigations that conclude with the arrest of Camorra entrepreneurs or corrupt politicians. In July 2018 he found the counter-information webmedia Gospa News focused on geopolitics, terrorism, Middle East and military intelligence. He is a correspondent from Italy for the French news site Reseau International. He worked since many years for the magazine Art & Wine as art critic and curator http://www.art-wine.eu/https://www.gospanews.net/redazione@gospanews.net

الفرنسيّون استأنفوا اتّصالاتهم: باريس «مصدومة» و”بي السنة” الحريري يفقد صوابه!

ما أثاره الرئيس سعد الحريري في مؤتمره... - ♥ Saad Al-Hariri Lovers ♥ |  Facebook

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الفرنسيّون استأنفوا اتّصالاتهم: باريس «مصدومة» والحريري يفقد صوابه!

تقرير ميسم رزق

الجمعة 5 آذار 2021

الفرنسيّون استأنفوا اتّصالاتهم: باريس «مصدومة» والحريري يفقد صوابه!

فقد الرئيس سعد الحريري صوابَه بعدما انكشف أمام الجميع بأنه غير قادِر على تأليف حكومة من دون موافقة السعودية. فردّ ببيان اشتباك طاول حتى حزب الله، بينما لا تزال باريس مصدومة من رفضه مبادرة الرئيس ميشال عون

ساء الرئيسَ سعد الحريري انكشافُ «ملعوبه» في ملف تأليف الحكومة. خرج أمس للردّ على ما نشرته «الأخبار» عن رفضه مبادرة رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال عون التخلّي عن الثلث المعطّل، إذ أبلغ المدير العام للأمن العام اللواء عباس إبراهيم أنه سيكتفي بتسمية خمسة وزراء، إضافة إلى وزير لحزب الطاشناق، في حكومة من 18 وزيراً (راجع «الأخبار»، أمس). فهذا الخبر، بحدّ ذاتِه، يُشكّل إحراجاً كبيراً للرئيس المكلف الذي ظهر أخيراً بأنه غير مستعدّ للقبول بأي صيغة وزارية قبل أن تُعطيه المملكة العربية السعودية الضوء الأخضر لزيارتها، أو تومئ إليه بإشارة قبول بالتأليف. فحتى لو قبِل عون بكل شروطه المعروفة، سيخترِع الحريري شروطاً إضافية للعرقلة. هذا ما تؤكّده «كمالة» القصة التي بدأها اللواء إبراهيم منذ أسبوعين، ربطاً بالجهود التي يقوم بها على خط الحكومة، لتقريب وجهات النظر بين بعبدا ووادي أبو جميل. فقد علمت «الأخبار» أن الفرنسيين دخلوا بعدها على خط الوساطة، معتبرين أن إظهار الرئيس عون بعض الليونة في ملف الحكومة لاستعجال التأليف يُبنى عليه، وذلك بعدما تحدث اللواء إبراهيم معهم عن أن العقدة الوحيدة التي لا تزال تشكّل عائقاً أمام ولادة الحكومة هي وزارة «الداخلية» التي يُطالِب عون بأن تكون من حصته، بينما يرفض الحريري ذلك. حينها تولّى مستشار الرئيس الفرنسي باتريك دوريل الاتصال بالحريري في محاولة لإقناعه بالتراجع عن تمسكه بهذه الوزارة إلى جانب وزارة العدل. فقال المسؤول الفرنسي ما معناه: «حلّينا عقدة الثلث المعطّل، والآن لم يعُد هناك ذرائع»، لكن الحريري قال بأنه «لم يتبلّغ رسمياً من عون هذا الأمر»، مع أن اللواء إبراهيم زاره مرتين وأبلغه بذلك.

اتصال الفرنسيين أزعج الحريري، فتواصل مع إبراهيم معبّراً عن استياء شديد، إذ اعتبر بأن هناك من يتدخّل لدى الفرنسيين للضغط عليه. وليس ذلك وحسب، فمن بين «مواويل» الحريري لنسف أي جهود، أنه رداً على موقف الوزير باسيل عدم المشاركة في الحكومة أو إعطائها الثقة، قال الرئيس المكلّف إن «عدم مشاركة التيار الوطني الحر في الحكومة يعني أن رئيس الجمهورية لا يحقّ له الحصول على خمسة وزراء، إضافة إلى وزير الطاشناق، وأنه سبق أن وافق على هذا العدد على اعتبار أنهم وزراء يمثّلون الرئيس والتيار معاً، أما وقد رفض باسيل المشاركة في الحكومة، فهذا يعني أن حصة الرئيس عون ستكون أقل».

الفرنسيّون دخلوا على خطّ الوساطة بعدما أبدى عون استعداده للتخلّي عن الثلث المعطل


قبل فترة، أجاب أحد المقرّبين من الحريري عن سؤال عن قرب التأليف فأجاب: «انسَ… الآن ما في حكومة». ولعلّ كلامه لا يرتبِط بالعراقيل الداخلية من حصص وأسماء وحقائب، بقدر ما هو تعبير عن عجز الحريري الذي أقرّ سابقاً أمام من تحدثوا إليه «بصعوبة تجاوز السعوديين» (راجع «الأخبار»، 19 شباط 2021). وإلى أن تحدّد المملكة «الموعِد المنتظر» سيخترع الحريري المعضلة تلو الأخرى ويحتجِز التشكيل في جيبه، كما أشار مكتب باسيل في بيان له أمس.

وبينما جزمت مصادر قريبة من الجوّ السعودي منذُ أسابيع بأن «زيارة الحريري للمملكة أكيدة، وربما قريبة جداً»، غادر الرجل إلى الإمارات في زيارة هي الثالثة له منذ تكليفه، من دون أن يظهر بعد ما إذا كانت هناك نتيجة سياسية لهذه الزيارات، بما أنه يعوّل على الإماراتيين والفرنسيين لتمهيد الطريق له، فيما اقتصرت المكاسب منها على بعض اللقاحات ضدّ كورونا أعطيت للحريري على دفعتين، وجرى توزيعها على المقربين منه، ومشروع مستشفى ميداني وعدت الإمارات بتقديمه للمساعدة في مواجهة الجائحة ليس إلا.

إلا أن الكلام الذي صدر عن الحريري أمس رداً على ما كُتِب، كان لافتاً لجهة أنه للمرة الأولى منذُ تكليفه يفتح الهجوم باتجاه حزب الله، الذي «ينتظر قراره من إيران، فيما لا ننتظر رضى أيّ طرف خارجي لتشكيل الحكومة»، على حدّ قول الحريري.

هذا الكلام جاء تعليقاً على ما قاله نائب الأمين العام لحزب الله الشيخ نعيم قاسم في مقابلته على قناة «الميادين» أول من أمس بأن «المطلوب سعودياً لا يتحمّله الحريري وهو مواجهة حزب الله». وبينما رأى البعض موقف الحريري «طبيعياً» لأن عقدة الأسماء الشيعية في الحكومة لم تُحلّ بعد، إلا أن مشكلة الحريري ــــ باسيل طغت عليها، قال آخرون إنه بيان «مواجهة» قد يكون إما رسالة إلى المملكة أو استباقاً لزيارة قريبة جداً!

“بكامل حريته

لكن هل بإمكان السعوديين الذين يستولي عليهم شعور القلق من سياسة الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، وخاصة بعد الكشف عن تقرير جريمة قتل الصحافي جمال خاشقجي أن يُخصّصوا وقتاً للحريري ما داموا غير متأكدين من قدرته على تزعّم مشروع مواجهة حزب الله؟

بكل الأحوال، وضع الحريري نفسه في موقف محرج، ولا سيما مع طرف أساسي تمسّك بتكليفه، أي حزب الله. وإذا لم تأتِ زيارة الرياض، فقد يُصبِح الرئيس المكلف أضعف من أي وقت مضى. فلا هو قادر على زيارة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية التي تتجاهل إدارتها تحديد موعد له، ولا مستشاره للشؤون الروسية جورج شعبان أمّن له المواعيد لزيارة موسكو. وبين انشغال الخارج عنه والاستياء الداخلي منه، هل يُدفع الحريري الى الاعتذار؟ المعلومات المؤكدة إلى الآن هي أن الفرنسيين أجروا اتصالات يوم أمس بعدد من القوى، من بينهم عون وياسيل والحريري وجنبلاط، وعبّروا عن استغراب كبير وغضب من تعامل القوى السياسية مع ملف الحكومة، فيما البلد ذاهب الى الانفجار، بينما أكدت مصادر مطّلعة أن «باريس لم تُصدق ما فعله الحريري، وأنه هرب من التشكيل رغم تراجع الرئيس عون»!

The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

By Ali Abadi

The release of the US intelligence community’s declassified report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is more than two years overdue. Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The sanctions announced by the administration of US President Joe Biden did not include specific measures against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. This despite the fact that the report pins the murder on the royal. The report states that the hit team could have only gotten its marching orders from the Crown Prince, given the latter’s tight grip on the security apparatus.

The CIA report did not introduce any new information. But the intelligence assessment about what transpired and who is responsible are important. The substance of the report was toned down following several weeks of consultations between Biden and his team. The aim was to avoid pushing their Saudi ally into a corner and keeping an outlet for him to modify his behavior in line with the policies of the new US government.

The report asks correlative questions

Do the steps taken by the US administration regarding the assassination of Khashoggi indicate a turning point in the relations between the two states? Are they merely scoring political points in restoring American soft power by pretending to protect human rights? Or are these steps the end of the tolerance phase practiced by former US President Donald Trump and do they mark the start of a new relationship based on new-old foundations?

American review

First, let’s review the steps that have been taken to date by the Biden administration vis-à-vis the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

– Halting the supply of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and pushing for an exit from the US-sponsored Saudi predicament in Yemen

– Calling for the release of human rights activists in the Kingdom.

– Stopping US communication with the Saudi Crown Prince and limiting presidential communication with King Salman

– Announcing gradual steps, even if currently conditional, to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran

– Perhaps most importantly, the declaration of a break from the Trump era in several areas, including those related to dealing with Saudi Arabia leading up to the release of the Khashoggi report

It is clear that the new administration in Washington doesn’t enjoy a harmonious relationship with the current ruling team in Saudi Arabia, specifically with Mohammed bin Salman, who seized power by force, imprisoned his opponents [some of whom are in cahoots with officials in the deep state in America] or placed them under house arrest. Bin Salman is attempting to buy the support of the US government for all his reckless actions, while harming American soft power, especially with the open wound in Yemen.

There is a very important point that may be the main motive behind the new way America is dealing with Riyadh. Circles of the American elite, among the Democrats in general and even some Republicans, feel indignant and suspicious regarding the very special relationship between the Saudi Crown Prince and former US President Donald Trump and his entourage. The Democrats, in particular, want to break this relationship and expose it retroactively. There is a current within the Democratic Party that wants to go further than Biden in dealing with Riyadh. However, the US President preferred a traditional approach that separates the relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince from the one with the entire Saudi government, despite the fact that the two are indistinguishable. Even the Saudi King cannot break away from the authority of his favorite son, and this is another story.

How will Saudi Arabia respond?

Saudi Arabia’s official version about the trial of Khashoggi’s killers is irrelevant. The outcome of the trial was always a foregone conclusion, and it ended in limiting the charges to a number of people and removing the accusation not only from the Crown Prince but from his two closest associates, Saud Al-Qahtani and Ahmed Al-Asiri.

The death penalty against the killers was also abolished, while the family of the victim was compelled to waive their right to retribution in exchange for financial compensation [a typical Saudi procedure in such cases]. Of course, we are not interested now in recovering the contradictions of the official Saudi narrative, which involved disjointed narratives since the assassination saga began to unfold.

However, each of the above steps is sufficient to annoy the Saudis, who are very disappointed with the end of the Trump era, in which the Saudi Crown Prince invested hundreds of billions of dollars in order to cover his impulsive policies. Trump left, and the Saudi money went to the US treasury and American companies. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is once again in the dark about the American agenda that represents an extension of the Obama era. Faced with the American moment of truth, the Saudi government will have to deprecate this incomplete revelation through:

– Downplaying the importance of the US measures and the talk that the Saudi judiciary has spoken in the case

– Stirring up patriotism among the Saudis to give renewed legitimacy to the Crown Prince, whose image was tarnished by this crime

– Betting on time to overcome this saga

– Accelerating the relationship with “Israel” in order to use its influence in Washington to moderate the dealings with the Saudi Crown Prince. In this sense, normalization becomes a price [currently hidden] for legitimizing Bin Salman’s status in Washington

– Hinting to the Americans that Riyadh is looking for alternatives to American weapons with China and Russia, for example, in order to push Washington to reduce its criticism of the Saudi Crown Prince

Most of what the Biden administration wants is for Riyadh to return to the ranks of the passenger rather than Saudi Arabia leading the United States to where it wants in the region, especially after the Saudi Crown Prince proved unprecedented recklessness in managing internal affairs and a lack of efficiency in managing regional challenges.

The Biden administration also wants to preempt any Saudi or non-Saudi objection to returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran and to dispel any attempt by Riyadh and others to enlarge their role in a way that disturbs the new government managing this file from the perspective of various US priorities. We should pause here at an interesting point, which is that the Biden administration is adopting a triple containment strategy for objections to the nuclear deal that was reached in the era of the Democrats in 2015.

This strategy includes, in addition to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and “Israel”. In addition to stopping the US presidential communication with Bin Salman and halting offensive weapons supplies to Riyadh, Washington has also stopped arms deals with the UAE and has allowed, in a carefully studied time frame, to publish satellite images of construction operations at the “Israeli” Dimona reactor, at a time when Netanyahu waited weeks to receive a call from Biden.

In conclusion, the new US administration aims to get rid of Trump’s legacy on several levels and reset US-Saudi relations to a purely American rhythm, but the desired justice stopped with Mohammed Bin Salman.

Let’s remember:

– Jamal Khashoggi’s body was never found, and the Saudi side refuses to reveal its fate.

– We are facing a declassified US report, which means that the US administration preferred to keep secret facts under wraps in order to preserve relations with Saudi Arabia and maintain the loyalty of Riyadh.

– We are facing scanty measures against those involved in the crime. Not granting them entry visas to the United States is the weakest measure in the huge US sanctions arsenal, and Washington was satisfied with the weaker punishment.

– The bitter cup was removed from the Crown Prince, although the moral message was received.

– It is important to note the impact of this position on the way European countries and the international community view the Saudi Crown Prince, who will remain in his father’s shadow as long as the latter is alive.

The question remains: What is Mohammed Bin Salman’s fate after the current king? Will his past be overlooked and his position on the altar of American strategic interests be normalized, or is Washington thinking about reopening the path of the caliphate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is currently unavailable after Bin Salman smashed all possible alternatives?

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‘Don’t give murderers a free pass’: Outrage as Biden refuses to sanction MBS

Activists and lawmakers say Saudi crown prince must face consequences after US intelligence report confirmed he was responsible for Khashoggi murder

US intelligence assessment revealed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorised the assassination (AFP/File photo)

By Ali HarbUmar A Farooq in Washington

Published date: 27 February 2021 00:06 UTC |

The virtual ink on a US intelligence report blaming Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi had not dried when the Biden administration ruled out imposing sanctions on the crown prince – a move that rights groups say would be fundamental for ensuring justice for the slain journalist.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed on Friday that Washington will not take action against the crown prince himself. 

The US State and Treasury departments had announced sanctions against dozens of Saudi individuals over their involvement in the Khashoggi murder and other rights violations without identifying them.

“What we’ve done by the actions that we’ve taken is really not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate it to be more in line with our interests and our values,” Blinken told reporters.

Earlier on Friday, the State Department unveiled new visa restrictions dubbed the “Khashoggi Ban” that would allow Washington to target “individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities”.

For its part, the Treasury said it imposed sanctions on several Saudi officials, including Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy head of military intelligence at the time of Khashoggi’s assassination, and members of the hit team that carried out the murder, known as the “Tiger Squad” or Rapid Intervention Force.

However, without sanctions against MBS, who the US government now publicly acknowledges was responsible for the killing, some advocates and lawmakers are saying the mastermind of the assassination is getting away with murder.

‘Unconscionable’

Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, called failure to impose sanctions on MBS over the killing “unconscionable”.

“The fact that the US has sanctioned so many of MBS’s associates but not him sends a terrible message that the higher up in a government you are, the more likely it is you can commit crimes with impunity,” Prasow told MEE. 

“It also undermines US credibility. It’s hard to see what incentive MBS has to alter his conduct, whether inside Saudi Arabia, in his conduct in the war in Yemen, or in other extraterritorial attacks on dissidents, when he knows he can literally get away with murder.”

Khashoggi, a former Saudi government insider and journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and Middle East Eye, resided in the United States before his death.Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved Khashoggi murder, US report says

Saudi government agents murdered him and dismembered his body at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, while he was trying to retrieve personal paperwork, in October 2018. 

After initially insisting that Khashoggi left the building alive, Saudi officials acknowledged that the journalist was killed more than two weeks after the murder. But Riyadh insists that the assassination was a rogue operation that happened without the approval of top officials.

The murder sent shockwaves throughout Washington, amplifying criticism against the kingdom in Congress, but former President Donald Trump moved to shield Riyadh and particularly the crown prince from the fallout.

The Trump administration had refused a legally binding congressional request to release a report on the US intelligence community’s findings about the involvement of Saudi officials in the murder.

The administration of President Biden, who had called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” as a presidential candidate in 2019, made the report public on Friday, documenting what experts had been saying for years – that the murder, which involved the crown prince’s aides, could not have happened without his blessing.

Saudi Arabia was quick to reject the findings, calling the US assessment “negative, false and unacceptable”.

‘Free pass’

While rights groups hailed the release of the report as a step towards ensuring accountability for the murder, the administration’s failure to impose sanctions on the lead perpetrator left many disappointed.

“The Biden administration is trying to thread the needle. They want to continue to work with a partner that has committed a heinous act against a US resident, while taking some steps toward accountability,” Seth Binder, advocacy officer at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), told MEE.

“But if human rights is really going to be at the center of US foreign policy, as the administration has repeatedly stated, then it can’t give murderers a free pass.”

Before taking office, Biden vowed to “reassess” US-Saudi relations. Since his inauguration, he has paused some arms sales to Riyadh and announced an end to Washington’s support for the kingdom’s “offensive operations” in Yemen.

Still, many rights advocates and lawmakers are demanding a more forceful approach to Riyadh and MBS from Washington.

‘We’re calling on the Biden administration to move ahead with accountability measures to sanction MBS personally’

– Raed Jarrar, DAWN

“We’re calling on the Biden administration to move ahead with accountability measures to sanction MBS personally, along with everyone else who is implicated in that killing,” said Raed Jarrar, advocacy director at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

Established last year in Washington, DAWN, a rights group, was envisioned by Khashoggi before his murder.

Speaking at a news conference after the release of the report, Jarrar urged ending US weapons sales to the kingdom. “Transparency is meaningless without accountability,” he said.

Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA, said many rights advocates are “disappointed” in Washington’s decision against sanctioning MBS. 

He added that Congress and the Biden administration should halt offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia, not only over the murder of Khashoggi, but also for the mistreatment of dissidents at home and war crimes in Yemen.

“And this goes for France. And this

Congress members call for sanctions

Leading Congress members from Biden’s own Democratic Party said on Friday that the president should impose sanctions on MBS.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced on Friday that she will be introducing a bill to penalise the crown prince. She called the release of the report a “turning point” in US-Saudi relations.

“To this day, we continue to supply Saudi Arabia with US arms that are used to commit human rights abuses around the world,” the congresswoman said in a statement. 

“To this day, we still cooperate with the Saudi regime on defensive war efforts – including intelligence sharing. These must end. And there must be direct consequences for Mohamed bin Salman and his functionaries.”Will the CIA report cost Mohammed bin Salman his throne?

Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee who has been pushing for making the report public, hailed releasing the assessment but said the administration should do more to hold MBS accountable.

He decried going after those who carried out the assassination, but not the leader who ordered it.

“The report itself is pretty remarkable in saying in no uncertain terms that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia ordered the capture or killing of an American resident and journalist, that essentially the crown prince has blood on his hands,” Schiff told CNN. 

“I would like to see the administration go beyond what it is announced in terms of repercussions to make sure there are repercussions directly to the crown prince.”

Ron Wyden, a key Senate Democrat, also underscored the need to ensure that MBS is punished for the murder.

“By naming Mohammed bin Salman as the amoral murderer responsible for this heinous crime, the Biden-Harris administration is beginning to finally reassess America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and make clear that oil won’t wash away blood,” he said in a statement.

“There is still far more to do to ensure that the Saudi government follows international laws. There should be personal consequences for MBS – he should suffer sanctions, including financial, travel and legal – and the Saudi government should suffer grave consequences as long as he remains in the government.”

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