Mercenaries in Yemen: Nationalities, numbers & horrors

March 29 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Mona Issa 

American. French. Sudanese. German. Colombian. Yemeni. Eritrean. You name it.

Mercenaries in Yemen are a significant factor in what prolonged the war.

It’s the twenty-first century. Corporates have armies. With as little as a few ID papers and almost no governmental regulation, you can take up state-of-the-art arms and be sent to a war that’s not your war, not your battle, and kill people whose names you can barely pronounce. The trade offer? You receive some $10,000 a week. That’s $40,000 a month. That’s more than 30x the American minimum wage for some honest work. You need not read some Veronica Roth, because we’re already living in a dystopian novel. 

Let’s address the word “mercenaries.” In the very far away bureaucratic world of secret operations where sharp terms are smoothed down (recalling comedian George Carlin’s usage of post-traumatic stress disorder as a euphemism for shell-shock!), “mercenaries” is a taboo word. Instead, they’re called special forces to drive people away from the clandestine, underground nature of foreign soldier recruitment. An ancient ‘job’ dormant since the Middle Ages, the United States revived the mercenary industry with Bush’s War on Terror, and continued the venture into the UAE and Saudi-led war on Yemen, and now in Ukraine

Putting Saudi Arabia aside for now – UAE is the perfect orbit state for Washington. With a population of only 1 million with a total of 9 million expatriates, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan does not want to risk it all for a wealthy population that can barely manage a home without housemaids – the UAE is largely operated by foreigners rather than locals. So how was the UAE going to fight this war? An army operated by foreigners – namely US lieutenants and colonels and allies.

But why mercenaries? One reason is numbers. There was no way MBZ was going to send soldiers from his local population of 1 million to war. A foreign population, however, is cost-effective, could be bought in abundance, and will guarantee to prolong the war – especially if major terrorists like ISIS are on the ground.

Another reason is accountability. Because mercenaries operate outside the scope of direct military command – or, at least that’s what we know – Abu Dhabi benefits from zero accountability. Mercenaries can kill, maim and commit other war crimes with no investigation from a legitimate governmental body. They’re bought and sold like a commodity, where corporates, on the long run, can transform into superpowers like states in the new world.

A third reason would be, as an ex-Navy SEAL – Erik Prince – once said: Muslim soldiers could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims. Sending Muslim soldiers, Emirati or Saudi, to kill Yemenis will bear a conflict of interest. 

Read more: 7 years of aggression on Yemen, victims surpass 46,000

The Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees in Yemen can testify to witnessing American, Australian, Sudanese, Colombian, Eritrean, and even Yemeni mercenaries, working for Gulf and US interests in Yemen. Some were recruited out of ignorance and poverty, others were recruited out of coercion and deception, and many bear arms for major cash.

Kingfish

Erik Prince is a former US Navy SEAL who was behind the revival of the private security industry. 

He also calls himself ‘Kingfish.’ 

Notoriously known for Blackwater and his involvement in the Iraq War, he established another private military company called Reflex Responses – or R2 – after he sold Blackwater to investors as an escape from controversy. The UAE secretly hired both companies, Blackwater and R2, to go to Yemen. 

See more: Blackwater founder to charge $6,500 per seat on Afghanistan evacuation plane

Blackwater, which has massacred scores of Iraqis and is despised in Iraq more than the US soldiers themselves, has taken pride in employing Colombians and other Latin American military personnel, from soldiers to commanders. 

But, why did MBZ’s private army, a project originally launched by Blackwater, consist mostly of Colombians? 

As Professor of Strategy at the National Defense University Sean McFate put it, think of the private military industry as the t-shirt industry. In America, it costs 20$ to make, but in Bangladesh, it costs 1$ to make.

Colombian mercenaries are not only cheap, but they are also trained by Washington and are more violent and rigorous than others given they are hardened by guerrilla warfare in Latin America. 

The UAE hired 1,800 Colombians on the ground and tripled and quadrupled their salaries. 

“They’re pretty tough warriors in my experience,” McFate said. “They obey chain of command, and they have American training.

“When you take them out of Latin America and put them in the Middle East, they have no sort of political affiliation to any Middle Eastern action or country, so they’re just truly loyal to their paymaster. So they got a lot of Latin American ex-special soldiers in Abu Dhabi. Then, as the Emirates went to war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, that’s when the Emirates deployed these mercenaries into Yemen to kill Houthis. And they did. And now we have mercenary warfare in Yemen almost like it’s the Middle Ages again.”

Under the guise of construction workers, Colombian mercenaries became part of an American mercenary army, led by Erik Prince, who scored a $529 million budget from the UAE to create a monster. 

“That is to me a pretty crazy part of the evolution of the mercenary business model that was taken from Erik Prince developing it in the US then exporting it to Abu Dhabi – then, all of the sudden, there are Colombians dying in Yemen. It’s hard to track,” said McFate. 

Spear: A Delaware-based firm with an Israeli touch

“Give me your best man and I’ll beat him. Anyone,” said Abraham Golan, the Israeli-Hungarian owner of Spear Operations Group that has also operated in Yemen to commit targeted assassinations. 

Golan was able to convince, over spaghetti and maybe some wine, the security advisor to MBZ that hiring his security company would be more effective than his own army – and, it worked. 

On December 29, 2015, a group of mercenaries from the Delaware-based military firm planted a bomb in the Islah political party headquarters in Aden, Yemen. Escorted by UAE military vehicles front and back, one of Golan’s mercenaries, Isaac Gilmore (also an ex-Navy SEAL and Delta Force veteran), jumps from the vehicle, fires bullets at civilians around the block, as his comrade rushes to plant the explosive device just under the building. With an Emirati soldier behind the wheel, the SUV zooms off as soon as the deed is done. 

Assassination targets handed out to Spears Group Operations’ mercenaries who were sent to operate in Yemen. (BuzzFeed News)

The group that Golan and Gilmore pieced together was a 12-man army, mostly consisting of former French legion officers and ex-US soldiers. The French officers were paid half of what Golan intended to pay – around $10,000 a month – which was even less than half of their American counterparts, a testimony to the commodification of military personnel and ‘market’ value. 

The assassination plot to kill Anssaf Ali Mayo, a leader of the conservative Islah party in Yemen, was plotted out over spaghetti at a UAE military base with MBZ’s security advisor and ex-Fatah member, Mohammed Dahlan. 

Dahlan fell from grace when he was accused of collaborating with the CIA and “Israel” – and that’s exactly what he did as he sat with Gilmore and Golan. The MBZ security advisor has his hands in a lot of political mess.

Read more: “Israel’s” piggyback on the Saudi-Emirati war on Yemen

A report by Al-Khaleej Online in 2018 exposes Dahlan’s complicity in holding secret training camps in occupied Palestine. 

The secret training camps, which held hundreds of Nepalese and Colombian mercenaries, were situated in the Naqab desert in occupied Palestine, where the geological nature of the region looks synonymous with that of Yemen.

Dahlan personally supervised the training and made regular visits and check-ups.

“Mohammed Dahlan visited these camps on more than one occasion to be informed,” sources revealed to Al-Khaleej Online. Dahlan was filled in on the progress of the preparations, in addition to the mercenaries’ training.

And by the way, the Aden operation failed. 

The price of Washington lip service? The blood of young Sudanese men 

There were two ways through which young Sudanese – even minors under 18 – got recruited to Yemen. By force and deception, and by Omar Al Bashir’s thirst for power. 

Estimates and reports suggest that up to 15,000 Sudanese mercenaries were fighting in Yemen. 

By force and deception: Many Sudanese became victims of forced conscription into becoming mercenaries for a private US firm, Black Shield Security Services. 

Responding to online job posts as “security guards,” the UAE-based company would trick the job applicants into signing the contract, only to the surprise of the young men that, all of the sudden, they’re redirected to a military training camp in the UAE to be sent off to either Libya or Yemen. They were offered ‘large’ sums of money, more than they can ever get in an average job in their country which has been experiencing an ongoing political crisis. 

The contracts signed by young Sudanese men, which had an e-Visa to enter the UAE from Khartoum attached to it, had “profession: Security Guard” written on them. 

Up to 15,000 Sudanese mercenaries were reportedly deployed in Yemen, who, according to the current Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, were reduced to 5,000. Many of them were children.

Official recruitment is also the culprit. Omar Al Bashir, Sudan’s old ruler, whose throne was strangled by sanctions and international pressures, sold his pro-Iran alliance for financial help from the Gulf – which meant sending thousands of Sudanese men and children to kill in Yemen. 

To go through with the recruitment, a private company – Rapid Support Forces – or the Janjaweed, a die-hard Bashir-backing militia, scored major bags with Saudi and Emirati officials. Both groups face allegations of systematic rape, indiscriminate murder and other war crimes from the Darfur war in which 300,000 people were killed. 

Arriving by the thousands from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, the Sudanese mercenaries were handed US-made weapons and uniforms. Then, they were taken to Al-Hudaydah, Taiz and Aden. Paid in Saudi riyals, 14-year-old amateurs were paid some $480 a month, while experienced officers from the Janjaweed were paid $530 a month – both cheaper than any other mercenary, including Colombians.  

The RSF profited $350 million from its role in Yemen. 

Ahmed, who was 25-years-old at the time when he was sent to Al-Hudaydah, commented on this experience: “The Saudis would give us a phone call and then pull back.

“They treat the Sudanese like their firewood,” he told the New York Times.

Other than Sudan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have also been paying Eritrea to provide troops and assistance. In 2015, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea revealed that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi signed a deal with Eritrea which allowed the coalition to use Eritrean military bases to attack Yemen. Chad isn’t left from the equation either: RSF mercenaries include hundreds of Chadian men, whose alignment lies with Bashir, hence maintaining an interest to keep him in power. 

There are also some 1,000 Pakistani mercenaries fighting in Yemen, despite a majority no-vote in Islamabad’s parliament. 

Yemenis fighting Yemenis 

As poverty, war and uncertainty brought millions of Yemenis to prolonged angst, many contemplated turning their back on their own kind. 

For around $1,200 a month, Yemenis were compelled to join the Al-Fateh brigade, a mercenary-militia based in Najran, Saudi Arabia, which was formed in 2016. The brigade is an all-Yemeni mercenary hub.

The Saudis recruited over 1,000 mercenaries to the Saudi-Yemen border to defend it.

In a report by the Middle East Eye, one mercenary that goes by the name Anees narrates that some thousand Yemenis were forced to advance towards Jabara valley in Saada province, Yemen, knowing that the valley is under control of the Yemeni armed forces, and that they were positioned just behind them in Najran. 

The leaders of Al-Fateh forced the mercenaries to move forward, assuring that Salafi fighters would follow and protect them.

He narrates, “Suddenly, the Houthis started to attack us from the mountains. We tried to withdraw but there were no Salafi fighters backing us up and only the Houthis besieging us from all directions.”

The Yemenis were besieged for four days, abandoned by both the Saudis and the Salafis. 

“We were about to die from hunger. We had run out of food. The Saudis and the Salafis did not break the siege on us, so we fought and pushed towards Najran and only few were escaped including me,” Anees said.

Bundeswehr

Last year, former German soldiers and police officers lodged in an offering to Saudi Arabia to form a group of mercenaries – or, according to German prosecutors, a terrorist organisation – to be sent to Yemen.

Two Bundeswehr soldiers were charged with terrorism by state prosecutors for conspiring to recruit 150 men and former soldiers from the Bundeswehr armed forces. The mercenaries were to be paid $46,400 a month to conduct operations in the Arabian peninsula.

The goal of the mercenary force to be formed was to capture land held by the Yemeni Armed Forces – however, it does not stop there. The mercenary force was also to be sent to other protracted conflicts around the world, with the two convicted terrorists in full conscious awareness that the fighters will have to commit murder and kill civilians to achieve strategic goals. 

The future

If the Saudi and Emirati armies were to fight and bleed, the war would not have lasted long with a population of 30 million willing to resist barefoot. Mercenaries played a significant role in the war on Yemen by sustaining the violence on the ground, continuously causing grief. 

Many experts would say that the future of warfare is private. The effectiveness of state armies is diminishing, while private firms have proven to get more tasks done – however bloody and sinister. 

As corporations overshadow governmental authority, warlords and investors will be more keen on keeping ‘security firms’ going in so-called “conflict zones in the Middle East,” where the flow of weapons and the funding for violence come from Western neoliberal democracies. 

While the use of mercenaries was dishonorable in recent times, the West has been promoting its use. As the foreign fighters are used to carry out targeted assassinations and other forms of murder, states and governmental bodies take in less and less responsibility and accountability for the humanitarian disaster that comes with the recruitment. 

A UN Mercenary Convention in 2001 forbids the recruitment of mercenaries in conflict: Only 36 countries supported the convention. Some of the countries that did not ratify it are the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, India, Japan and Russia. 

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Would Syria Become the Main Gate for All Arabs?

March 26 2022

By Mohammad Sleem

Beirut – Last Friday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the United Arab Emirates [UAE] and met the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed [MBZ] Al Nhayan and the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

In terms of timing, Assad’s visit to an Arab country is the first since the crisis erupted in Syria11 years ago.

During the meeting, Sheikh Mohammed wished that “this visit would be the beginning of peace and stability for Syria and the entire region.”

Moreover, the two leaders discussed “issues of common concern”, such as Syria’s territorial integrity and the withdrawal of the foreign forces from the country.

The Assad-Al Maktoum meeting “dealt with the overall relations between the two countries and the prospects for expanding the circle of bilateral cooperation, especially at the economic, investment and commercial levels.”

MBZ, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince of and deputy commander-in-chief of the Emirati Armed Forces – summed up the Syrian President’s visit as “a good, peaceful and stable start for Syria and the entire region.”

Over the years, the UAE’s words had been put into action; starting with the reopening of its embassy in Damascus in December 2018, in the most significant Arab overture toward the Syrian government. However, relations remained cold.

Last fall, the Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs flew to Damascus for a meeting with Assad, the first visit by the country’s top diplomat since 2011. The United States, a close ally of the UAE, criticized the visit at the time, arguing that the US would not support any thawing in relations with the Assad government.

The visit also implies a remarkable dimension, namely that it coincides with the anniversary of the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in mid-March 2011, in an implicit message at this time that Syria is paving the way to consider solutions to its crisis, and that Assad is quite aware that the visit to the UAE will be a milestone in the road to resolving it.

Syria was expelled before from the 22-member Arab League and boycotted by its neighbors after the conflict broke out 11 years ago.

According to the aforementioned, the visit signals a clear message that some countries in the Arab World are willing to re-engage with Syria as several countries are reviving ties with the Syrian government, including Jordan and Lebanon.

US stance regarding Asaad’s visit

When asked about Assad’s UAE visit, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that Washington was “profoundly disappointed and troubled by this apparent attempt to legitimize Bashar al-Assad, who remains responsible and accountable for the death and suffering of countless Syrians, the displacement of more than half of the pre-war Syrian population, and the arbitrary detention and disappearance of over 150,000 Syrian men, women and children.”

Price downplayed the US-led wars over the past 20 years, which resulted in the death of millions of people and the devastation of several countries.

Long ago Syria has been called the heart of Arabism. At present, amid the new political developments taking place between Syria and the UAE, Damascus might become the main gate for all the Arab countries. This step was first of its kind in terms of diplomatic relations between countries of the Axis of Resistance and the so-called neutral countries, who are normalizing ties with the Zionist entity.

Bearing in mind the crisis it has been confronting since 2011, Syria must definitely be granted the Medal of Honor for standing in the forefront of countries refusing to normalize relations with the “Israeli” regime. And the coming days will prove Syria’s real position in the Arab World.

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Bennett, Sisi and MBZ Discuss Iran, ‘Mutual Security Interests’

23 Mar 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Zionist Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed [MBZ] held a joint meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on Tuesday to discuss a joint defense strategy in dealing with what they referred to as the ‘Iranian threat,’ as well as ‘common security interests.’

What are the ‘common security interests’ that would pool the ‘Israeli’ entity with Egypt and the UAE?

Although the so-called ‘Iranian threat’ would come to mind first, there would be several other concerns. A hint to that is the Emirati comments to ‘Israeli’ The Jerusalem Post newspaper, which mentioned that “Abu Dhabi is shocked by the US behavior,” and that “it is hard for the UAE to deal with the US administration of Joe Biden in security affairs,” also noting that ties in general have been deteriorating.

The JPost cited a source in Abu Dhabi as saying: “The United Arab Emirates is very unhappy with the US move toward removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.”

Some in Abu Dhabi “are in great shock,” and they view the possibility of the IRG’s designation being removed in the same way as ‘Israel’ does, the source added.

The meeting took place as the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran was nearing completion.

The US and Iran have been indirectly negotiating in Vienna to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal for the past 11 months. The deal placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions.

Most of those restrictions expire at the end of 2025. In addition, in recent years, Iran has far surpassed the deal’s 3.67% uranium enrichment limit, enriching to 60% – weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 90% – and has converted some of it to a format that is hard to dilute or transport.

The Tel Aviv regime and the United Arab Emirates expressed dissatisfaction with American concessions to the Islamic Republic.

“The leaders discussed the ties between the three countries on the background of recent developments in the world and the region, and the ways to strengthen [the ties] at all levels,” Bennett’s office stated.

Bennett’s visit to Egypt was supposed to be secret, but once the press caught wind of it, Sisi’s office did not oppose placing a Zionist regime’s flag at the meeting for the photo-op.

Sisi also accompanied Bennett to his plane when he departed Sharm El-Sheikh on Tuesday, after spending the night in the Sinai resort town.

Concern in Tel Aviv about Washington’s intention to respond to the demand to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guard from the list of terrorism

البخيتي لـ”كلوب هاوس” الميادين: عملياتنا ستستمر.. وقرار زيادة إنتاج النفط في يدنا أيضاً

2022 الاثنين 21 آذار

المصدر: الميادين نت

عضو المجلس السياسي لحركة “أنصار الله”، محمد البخيتي، يؤكد لـ”كلوب هاوس” الميادين، أنّ العمليات اليمنية في العمق السعودي “ستستمر وتتصاعد”، ويشدد على “أنّنا بتنا على مشارف مرحلة جديدة”.

كلوب هاوس

قال عضو المجلس السياسي في حركة “أنصار الله”، محمد البخيتي، اليوم الإثنين، إنّه “عندما يصبح النظامان السعودي والإماراتي في خطر، يصبح وقف الحرب على اليمن مصلحة للأميركي والبريطاني”.

وفي حديثٍ إلى “كلوب هاوس” الميادين، أكد البخيتي أنّ “هذه هي المرة الأولى التي يتمّ فيها وصف عملياتنا باسم عملية كسر الحصار”.

وأضاف البخيتي أنّ “اليمن يعتمد في الزراعة على مادة الديزل”، لافتاً إلى أنّ التحالف السعودي “يعرف أنّ منع دخول المشتقات النفطية يُعَدّ منعاً للحياة في اليمن”.

ورأى القيادي في “أنصار الله” أنه لم يكن أمام بلاده خيار غير “التصعيد وضرب منشآت النفطية السعودية في العمق السعودي”، موضحاً أنّ هذه العمليات “سوف تستمر على نحو تصاعدي”.

وتابع البخيتي: “نحن جادون في تصعيدنا العمليات ضد منشآتهم النفطية”، مؤكداً امتلاك اليمن “مخزوناً كبيراً من الصواريخ الباليستية والمجنَّحة والطائرات المسيّرة”.

وكان المتحدث باسم القوات المسلحة اليمنية، العميد يحيى سريع، أكد أمس استهداف شركة “أرامكو”في جدة، وأهداف حيوية أخرى في جيزان، خلال المرحلة الثالثة من عملية كسر الحصار الثانية.

البخيتي: استمرار العدوان على اليمن خطر على الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا

وبحسب البخيتي، فإنّ “العدوان على اليمن مرّ في عدة مراحل؛ الأولى عندما لم يكن اليمن يمتلك القدرات الجوية، وكانت السعودية في موقعٍ آمن وقتذاك. أمّا المرحلة الثانية، فتمثّلت بأنّ وقف الحرب أصبح مصلحة مشتركة للطرفين السعودي واليمني”، مضيفاً أنّ “المرحلة الجديدة هي أنّ استمرار العدوان على اليمن بات يشكل خطورة على الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا”.

وأكد القيادي في “أنصار الله” أنّ بلاده ستصل إلى هذه المرحلة “عندما تستشعر الولايات المتحدة أنّ نظامَي آل سعود وابن زايد لم يعودا آمنين”، لافتاً إلى أنّ “من اتخذ قرار الحرب هو شخص ليس لديه أي خبرة، مثل خبرة الملك عبد العزيز، حين دخلت السعودية حرباً لمدة 3 أشهر وانسحبت”.

وقال إنّ “قيادات، مثل محمد بن سلمان، لا تفكر وفق المنطق الأخلاقي”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “هذا تحدٍّ كبير واجهناه”. وأوضح البخيتي وجود “قرار إماراتي سابق للخروج من الورطة في الحرب على اليمن”، مؤكداً حدوث “ضغوطات عليها مؤخراً”.

وتابع “أننا بتنا على مشارف مرحلة جديدة، تتأكّد من خلالها الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا أنّ عدوانهما بات يشكل خطراً على سيطرتهما على المنطقة”.

البخيتي: نمتلك الإرادة والقدرة على التصعيد

وقال القيادي في “أنصار الله” إنّ “القيادتين السعودية والإماراتية تعرفان ماذا نقصد بالأهداف الحساسة والبعيدة”، لافتاً إلى أنه “ليس لدينا مصلحة في الإفصاح عن بنك أهدافنا الحساسة”.

وأكد البخيتي أنّ “زيادة عدد الضربات ستحدث”، مشدداً على أنّ بلاده تمتلك “الإرادة والقدرة على التصعيد وستكون الضربات موجعة للسعودية”.

ورأى أنّ “محمد بن سلمان ومحمد بن زايد لن يصحو ضميرهما. لذلك، نحن عازمون على التصعيد”، معتبراً أنّ “القوة العسكرية هي اللغة التي يفهمها التحالف السعودي”. 

وشدد البخيتي على أنّ “عملياتنا في العمق السعودي ستستمر وستتصاعد، وليست مرتبطة بما يحدث في أوكرانيا وأوروبا”، مؤكداً أنه “سيكون لها وقع كبير على السعودية وإسرائيل”.

وأضاف أنّ “الأحداث الأخيرة تشكّل عاملاً مساعداً من أجل زيادة تأثير ضرباتنا في العمق السعودي”، مضيفاً أنّ “زيادة ضرباتنا ستضاعف أزمة النفط العالميّة”.

وأكد القيادي في “أنصار الله” أنّ “الموقف الدولي تجاه العملية الروسية في أوكرانيا عرّى الصورة الإجرامية للمجتمع الدولي في العالم”، مشيراً إلى أنّ “ما يحدث في اليمن، بالمقارنة مع ما يجري في أوكرانيا، كافٍ ليعرّي الجميع”.

البخيتي: قرار زيادة إنتاج النفط أصبح في يد اليمن أيضاً

ورأى البخيتي أن “من الخطأ أن نقلّل ضرباتنا في هذه الظروف”، لافتاً إلى أنه “نتيجةً للظروف التي يمر فيها العالم، أصبح لليمن دور كبير “.

وتوقّع رضوخ السعودية للمطالب الأميركية بشأن زيادة إنتاج النفط، مؤكداً أنّ “قرار زيادة إنتاج النفط في السعودية والإمارات لم يعد في أيدي الولايات المتحدة والسعودية والإمارات فقط، بل أصبح في يد اليمن أيضاً”.

وأشار البخيتي إلى أنّ الإمارات “لا تزال في دائرة الاستهداف”، مضيفاً أنّ “من يقرر موعد العمليّة المقبلة هو القيادة”.

وأوضح القيادي في “أنصار الله” أنه لا يوجد لدى الحركة اليمنية حسابات بنكية، لا في داخل اليمن ولا خارجه، متابعاً: “قالوا إنهم جمدوا أرصدة لبعض الشخصيات من أنصار الله، لكن نحن لا نملك أيّ حسابات مصرفية”.

وأردف: “أي قرار من المنظمات الدولية في حق اليمن لم يعد لديه أي تأثير بعد أن أمعنت في الحصار علينا”، مؤكداً أنّ “القرارات الدوليّة لا تؤثر فينا، لا من قريب ولا من بعيد”.

البخيتي: لا يستفزّنا التقارب بين الدول العربية

وفيما يخص زيارة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد للإمارات، ولقاءَه وليَّ عهد أبو ظبي، محمد بن زايد، قال البخيتي إنّ “سياستنا تتماهى مع الأمتين العربية والإسلامية، وأي تقارب بين الدول العربية والإسلامية نعدّه أمراً إيجابياً”.

وأضاف: “كنت وجّهت دعوة إلى الحكومة السورية من أجل استعادة علاقتها بالمقاومة الفلسطينية (حركة “حماس”)”، مؤكداً أنه “لا يستفزنا التقارب بين الدول العربيّة”.

وتابع: “سبق أن عبّرت عن إيجابية استعادة العلاقات بين السعودية وإيران، لأنه يجب أن يكون هناك موقف موحد بين الدول العربية والإسلامية “، مؤكداً أنه “يجب أن تتوحَّد وجهتنا لنواجه “إسرائيل””.

المتوكل: فتح ميناء الحديدة سيخفّص أسعار النفط

وبشأن احتجاز السفينة النفطية، “سي أدور”، من جانب التحالف السعودي، أكد المتحدث الرسمي لشركة النفط اليمنيّة، عصام المتوكل، لـ “كلوب هاوس” الميادين، أنه “تمّ احتجاز سفن النفط، والتضييق على الشعب اليمني”.

وأضاف المتوكل أنه “لا يمكن استيراد النفط باسم الشركة النفطية اليمنية، لذا لجأنا إلى التجار ليقوموا بهذه المهمّة”، موضحاً “أنّنا مجبَرون على شراء النفط من الإمارات ودفع المستحقات مسبّقاً، وإيداعها في مصارف خارجيّة”.

وأشار إلى أنّ “سفن النفط تنطلق من الإمارات نحو جيبوتي لتلبث بضعة أيام، لتنطلق بعدها إلى بحر اليمن قبل أن تدخل المياه الإقليمية اليمنية، لتتمّ قرصنتها وسحبها إلى سواحل جيزان”.

ولفت المتوكل إلى أنّ “الحكومة اليمنية تسرق ما يقارب 165 مليون دولار شهرياً من العائدات النفطية”، موضحاً أنّ “قوات التحالف تأخذ رشوة من كل شحنة نفطية تقدَّر بنحو 8000$”، مضيفاً أنّ “ميناء الحديدة هو ميناء إنساني وفتحه سيخفّص الأسعار”.

يُشار إلى أنّ شركة النفط اليمنية أعلنت، اليوم الإثنين، أنَّ التحالف السعودي احتجز السفينة النفطية “سي أدور”، على الرغم من تفتيشها وحصولها على تصاريحَ أمميةٍ لدخول ميناء الحُدَيْدَة.

US “disappointed” by Assad’s visit to UAE

March 18, 2022 

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen net 

The US State Department has expressed feeling “troubled” and unsupportive of US allies’ efforts at restoring relations with Syria.

The Syrian leader with the UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan during Friday’s visit (AFP)

The US State Department Spokesman Ned Price has expressed that the US feels troubled and disappointed by the Syrian President’s visit to the United Arab Emirates since 2011.

In a statement on Friday, Price said “We are profoundly disappointed and troubled by this apparent attempt to legitimize Bashar al-Assad… As Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken has reiterated, we do not support efforts to rehabilitate Assad; and we do not support others normalizing relations,” adding that “We have been clear about this with our partners.”

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad met Dubai’s ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in Dubai on Friday, according to the Syrian presidency.

In his first visit to an Arab state since the war on Syria started in 2011, Assad also met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Emirati state news agency WAM reported.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince expressed his hope that this visit will pave the way for prosperity, peace, and stability in Syria and the region as a whole. 

Read more: Assad Discusses Syria-UAE relations with Bin Zayed 

The US occupation forces have long been in Syria, and the Syrian Arab tribes are strongly adamant about the rejection of the presence and practices of the US occupation forces, not to mention the theft of oil, gas, wheat, and resources.

On March 1, a Syrian military source said that a US occupation patrol, accompanied by a group of SDF militia members, tried to infiltrate the Syrian army checkpoints in the village of Ghozaliya in Tal Tamr countryside in Al-Hasakah Governorate.

According to the source, the Syrian army prevented the US patrol from entering and forced it back.

Read more: Syrians citizens kick US occupation convoy out of their village

The US claims its presence in Syria is to combat terrorists, when in reality it encompasses smuggling military equipment and transferring ISIS militants from prisons to military bases. 

Last year, the US threatened Arab states over restoring ties with Syria, following the Syrian presidential elections since the war. 

According to senior US officials, Assad’s election victory proved the US efforts to stage a coup in Syria were a failure.

The US sanctions and economic boycott have made it difficult for Arab leaders to normalize relations with Assad’s government, but Friday’s meeting might be a sign that things are changing.

Recently, reports surfaced of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammad bin Zayed have declined US requests to speak to the US President in recent weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal.

While the West and Europe look for alternative energy sources, MBS has reiterated Riyadh’s refusal to abandon the OPEC+ pact for the sake of greater oil output on Friday.

In snub to Washington, UAE reaches out to Russia

Washington’s geopolitical cards are dwindling rapidly. The high-level UAE visit to Moscow this week has consolidated OPEC+ support for Russia in the energy war now raging between east and west.

March 18 2022

The UAE is the fourth West Asian state to have travelled to Moscow in the past week to strike agreements unfavorable to Washington.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

Four top foreign minster level diplomats from Qatar, Iran, Turkey and the UAE travelled to Moscow this week, in as many days, in an impressive display of strategic realignment by regional states against the backdrop of the US-Russia conflict unfolding over Ukraine.

The arrival in Moscow of the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan on Thursday is the most striking. This is happening within a fortnight of the country’s inclusion on 4 March in the Grey List of the global financial crime watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), due to alleged financial crimes. The FATF recommendations for the UAE include:

  • Implementing a more robust system to collect case studies and statistics used in money laundering (ML) investigations;
  • Demonstrating a sustained increase in effective investigations and prosecutions of different types of ML cases;
  • Probing increase in the number and quality of suspicious transaction reports filed by financial institutions and other entities; and,
  • Monitoring high-risk ML threats, such as proceeds of foreign predicate offences, trade-based ML, and third-party laundering.

The FATF is one of those tools of torture that the west has finessed in the international system to humiliate and punish developing countries whom it wants to teach a lesson or two. A cursory look at the countries figuring in the 22-member Grey List would reveal that the UAE shouldn’t really belong there — Albania, Burkina Faso, Haiti, South Sudan, Uganda, Yemen and so on.

But the west’s calculation is that the economy of a country gets affected in a negative manner when it figures on the Grey List — with international financial institutions starting to look at it as a risky nation for investment, which in UAE’s case also renders a lethal blow to its flourishing tourism industry.

Indeed, this happened under the watch of an American, Vincent Schmoll, who is holding interim charge as the acting FATF executive secretary since January. Schmoll used to be a functionary at the US Treasury. Conceivably, Washington’s writ runs large in this episode.

US-UAE relations have been experiencing some tumult during the past year. The trouble began soon after President Donald Trump’s departure from the White House. In January 2021, on Trump’s last full day in office, Abu Dhabi had signed a $23 billion agreement to buy 50 F-35 fighter jets, 18 Reaper drones, and other advanced munitions, but incoming President Joe Biden froze the deal as soon as he entered the Oval Office.

A number of factors might have influenced the Biden administration’s calculations, apart from the fact that the lucrative F-35 deal was a Trump legacy. As it transpired, in a delaying tactic, Washington began voicing serious concerns about the UAE-China relationship and the particularly strong economic ties developing between Abu Dhabi and Beijing. Notably, Washington wanted the UAE to put an end to a 5G contract with Chinese tech giant Huawei, which is the undisputed global leader in next-generation 5G technology.

Meanwhile, in addition to the Huawei issue, US intelligence agencies claimed to have discovered that Beijing was building what they thought to be a secret military facility at the Khalifa port in the UAE.

Emirati officials denied the allegation, but under pressure from Washington, were forced to halt the project, although the Persian Gulf states in general, and the UAE in particular, do not like being pushed to take sides between Washington and Beijing. They consider that their best interest lies in maintaining neutrality and balancing relations.

The end result, as everyone knows, was that much to the annoyance of Washington, Abu Dhabi finally hit back by opting for 80 Rafale combat aircraft from France in a deal worth over $20 billion last December.

Then came the bombshell in February with the sensational disclosure that the UAE has plans to order 12 L-15 light attack planes from China, with the option of purchasing 36 more. A UAE defence ministry statement said the purchase is part of the country’s efforts to diversify weapon suppliers. As an aside, the UAE air force operates mainly American-made F-16 and French-made Mirage fighters.

Only a week later, all hell broke loose when the UAE resisted American pressure and abstained (twice) on US-led Ukraine-related UN Security Council resolutions condemning Russia. Subsequent reports said that the Biden administration conveyed its displeasure to Abu Dhabi.

Soon after that, according to a Wall Street Journal report last week, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan failed to take a call from Biden who apparently wanted to discuss the US expectation that the UAE would pump more oil into the market to bring down skyrocketing prices.

Yet another complicating factor is that the Biden administration blundered into the intra-Gulf rivalries by designating Qatar as a ‘Major Non-NATO Ally’ (MNNA). On 31 January, Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani became the first Persian Gulf leader to meet with Biden in the White House and media accounts of the visit highlighted a $20 billion deal for Boeing 777X freighter aircraft. Additionally, the emir met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and discussed weapons sales.

Given this backdrop, Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Nahyan’s arrival in Moscow couldn’t have been any less dramatic. The Russian side has divulged few details about the visit. The big question is whether any arms deal was been discussed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a statement that the talks covered “a wide range of issues related to our bilateral relations and international agenda. For obvious reasons, we paid a great deal of attention to the Ukrainian developments. We spoke in detail about the goals and objectives of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine to protect people from the Kiev regime, and to demilitarize and de-Nazify this country.”

The UAE foreign minister reportedly told Lavrov that his country aimed at further systematic development of relations with Russia and diversification of the areas of bilateral cooperation. In what was possibly an indirect swipe at the US sanctions aimed at isolating Russia from the world economy, Al-Nahyan said:

“It is always important for us to keep our finger on the pulse and make sure that relations between Russia and the UAE move forward. There is no doubt that we are aimed at the systematic development of these relations and the diversification of the areas of bilateral cooperation so that it meets the interests of both our citizens and state institutions and other structures.”

He stressed that the parties should strengthen cooperation on energy and food security. Clearly, the US cannot count on the support of the Persian Gulf region in its campaign to isolate Russia or to dismantle OPEC+ – an increasingly influential body consisting of the 13 OPEC members plus ten non-OPEC oil exporters, which is chaired by the largest producers Russia and Saudi Arabia. The Gulf countries are, one by one, seeking out Russia to signal their solidarity and register their own desire to shake off US hegemony.

Interestingly, last Tuesday, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa had called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss “topical issues of Russia‒Bahrain cooperation in politics, trade and the economy… (and) expressed the shared intention to further develop the friendly ties between Russia and Bahrain.” This, despite the fact that the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the US Naval Forces Central Command are based in Bahrain.

Such display of solidarity by the ‘non-western international community’ brings some vital nuance to the global geopolitical chessboard: for one, it makes a mockery of the western sanctions against Russia. The Gulf countries are avid ‘globalizers’ and trading nations — Dubai, in particular. As time passes, western companies are sure to find ingenious ways to trade with Russia via resourceful intermediaries in the Gulf region.

Abdullah Al-Nahyan’s trip to Moscow is a demonstrative act of defiance, both symbolically and strategically. It is a mark of the Persian Gulf region’s growing alienation from Washington. Reports suggest that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who travelled to both the UAE and Saudi Arabia this week to press for increased oil production to lower oil prices, also came back empty-handed.

Contrary to Washington’s hopes, there is every likelihood that the OPEC+ will continue to strengthen its strategic autonomy vis-a-vis the US. Previously, Russia used to be a voice of moderation within the group. This will have profound implications for the world oil market.

The high attention Russian diplomacy paid to the West Asian region in the recent decade is returning dividends, for sure. Russia offered its Persian Gulf interlocutors something they never experienced before with a great power – an equal partnership based on mutual respect.

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

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Saudi Arabia, UAE Leaders Not Returning Biden’s Calls, Disappointed With US – WSJ

March 9, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] have declined calls from US President Joe Biden for several weeks, the Wall Street Journal [WSJ] reported on Wednesday citing officials in the Middle East and the United States.

The messages of dissatisfaction sent by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emirati Shiekh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan come as the two leaders share concerns over the American response to recent counterattacks by the Yemeni resistance.

The two nations are also reportedly disappointed with the state of negotiations in the ever-nearing Iran nuclear deal, according to the WSJ.

The deal, which IAEA chief Rafael Grossi called “very complex,” does not account for Saudi and Emirati security interests, they claimed.

The US has been pushing to repair its relations with the two nations as it looks to stifle an oil crisis. Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports on Tuesday as gas prices reach all-time highs globally.

“There was some expectation of a phone call [between Biden and MBS], but it didn’t happen,” an American source told WSJ, adding that the call was intended to focus on “turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil].”

In addition, support from the Middle Eastern oil giants is increasingly important to the US in order to create a united front against Russia due to its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Saudi Arabia has long been disappointed with its reportedly deteriorating relationship with the US since Biden was sworn in, according to the report. Along with more support in Yemen, the Saudis are reportedly seeking assistance with their own nuclear program, in addition to clarification on MBS’ legal position in the US due to lawsuits filed over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

In an interview with The Atlantic earlier this month, the Saudi crown prince commented on his relationship with Biden, stating he “does not care whether Biden misunderstood things about him.”

Biden should be “focusing on America’s interests,” MBS said, adding that he “does not have the right to lecture America and the same goes the other way.”

However, MBS also reiterated that Riyadh’s objective was to maintain and strengthen its “long, historical” relationship with the US.

Why Israel is reluctant to give the UAE help against the Houthis

Israeli sources tell MEE that giving air defence systems to Abu Dhabi might compromise Israel’s technological edge – and even anger Washington

Published date: 9 February 2022

By Yossi Melman

Following the recent missile and drone attacks by Yemen’s Houthi movement on Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ rulers have turned to Israel for military assistance.

The most recent drone attack occurred during last week’s state visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

It wasn’t the first Houthi threat to Israel. In the past, the Iran-aligned Houthis have threatened to launch their missiles against Eilat, the southern Israel port city located 1,500km from Yemen.

In response, Israel two years ago increased its state of alert in the Eilat region and has occasionally deployed Iron Dome batteries there based on intelligence warnings. Simultaneously, Mossad and military intelligence stepped up their monitoring of Yemen and information-gathering there.

Recently, a high-ranking Israeli delegation consisting of defence ministry officials, Mossad operatives and executives of Israeli arms manufacturers visited the United Arab Emirates.

Emirati officials are especially interested in Israeli-made air defences, such as the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow, as well as their radar systems.

Until now, all Emirati and Saudi anti-missiles systems are US-made, such as the Patriot batteries.

Israeli sources told Middle East Eye that they are considering the UAE request, but added a caveat, arguing that it is a serious matter that must be dealt with using caution.

Israel will have to balance between its desire to sell weapons around the globe – it was officially announced this week that it granted military export licenses to 139 countries – and the need to protect its homemade sensitive equipment.

Technological edge

The Israeli dilemma is how to maintain its own technological edge while selling systems to strategic partners. In the past, it was reported that Saudi Arabia is also interested in Iron Dome systems.

So far, Israel has sold partial components for Iron Dome, such as radars and ground control, to Singapore and Azerbaijan, but not the intercepting missiles, manufactured by state-owned company Rafael. Washington purchased two Iron Dome systems to evaluate their effectiveness.

The Israeli dilemma is how to maintain its own technological edge while selling systems to strategic partners

Israel claims that during its wars in Gaza, Iron Dome has shown a 92 percent interception rate when downing Hamas’s missiles. In the past, South Korea has also expressed interest in the system, which is capable of intercepting rockets that have a range of around 80km.

However, there is also one more obstacle in the way of Israel delivering air defences to the Gulf, one that is perhaps even stronger: the United States.

The US perceives the region as its sphere of interest. It has a military presence and bases in Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE.

Washington sells them weapons of all sorts, from F-35 fighter jets, drones and intelligence tech, to naval equipment and anti-aircraft batteries.

American security and military corporations would not like seeing Israeli competition entering what they consider as their backyard.

Secret cooperation

For years, the Mossad facilitated secret ties between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which has resulted in close intelligence-sharing cooperation against Iran, as well as sales of intelligence equipment such as the infamous Pegasus spyware.

Israeli firms such as Logic, owned by Mati Kochavi, secretly operated for years in the UAE. Kochavi employed ex-Mossad and Shin Bet officials, as well former experts from Israel Aerospace Industries.

After Kochavi fell out of Abu Dhabi’s ruling Nahyan family’s graces, he was replaced by David Meidan, a former Mossad operative, as the mediator between Israel and the UAE.

All of these clandestine deals and contacts were approved and encouraged by the Israeli defence ministry.

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Since open normalisation began with the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, Israel has been able to open full diplomatic and commercial ties with the UAE, Bahrain and later Morocco, as well as enhance its intelligence relations.

Cooperation no longer needed to be kept a secret.

Last week, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz visited Bahrain, met with its rulers and signed with his counterpart a memorandum of understanding for security cooperation – the first agreed with an Arab country.

Only the special relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia remain secretive.

Despite the encouragement and lobbying by Donald Trump and his administration, Riyadh refused to take the public plunge.

Yet Israeli security and diplomatic sources told MEE that they have great expectations that once Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sits on the throne, after his old and ailing father King Salman dies, the kingdom will most probably bring the relations into the open.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states will continue and even accelerate their security collaboration with Israel and purchase more arms.

Abu Dhabi forewarned: More Israel, more missile strikes

The UAE thought it could protect its Yemeni interests with Israel’s help. Then the Israeli president visited Abu Dhabi and Yemen dropped missiles to welcome him.

January 31 2022

UAE Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed meets Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Abu Dhabi, hours before Ansarallah retaliatory strikes hit the city.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Abdel Bari Atwan

Hours after Israel’s president arrived in Abu Dhabi, marking the first ever visit of its kind, Yemeni resistance movement Ansarallah fired ballistic missiles at targeted sites in the UAE’s capital.

Any question as to how the Houthis will respond to Israel’s military and logistical role in the Saudi-UAE war on Yemen was answered by a few well-timed projectiles. The question now is, how will each side respond?

Israel’s highest officials have been flocking to Abu Dhabi in abundance these days. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit last month was followed, on Sunday, by the jarring spectacle of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s plane crossing Saudi airspace – a video of which was beamed to social media in a jiffy – before landing at Abu Dhabi’s airport.

There, Herzog was greeted by no less a personage than Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed (MbZ), Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces.

This visit, which Herzog described as “historic,” comes just days after the UAE was bombarded with ballistic missiles and drones by Yemen, in retaliatory strikes. The Emirati defense systems, ground and air, failed to confront most of the projectiles, which is why air navigation at Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports were briefly disrupted, and fuel tanks exploded at a refinery belonging to giant oil company ADNOC.

Since the signing of the September 2020 Abraham Accords under intense US pressure, Israelis have lined up in droves to visit the UAE, which has admitted more than two hundred thousand Israelis to date.

The Israeli visitors, it transpires, created more problems than the profits and gains made by the host country. Hebrew newspapers have extensively documented their shenanigans, which include theft, fraud, drugs, and money laundering in the Emirates.

But Herzog is on no ‘apology tour.’ Instead, what was remarkable were his remarks on the battle in Yemen, a brutal war co-launched by his Emirati hosts. The Israeli president seemed keen to “condemn the Houthi missile attacks that targeted the UAE, condemn any attack on its sovereignty by terrorist groups, and affirm their readiness to respond to its security requirements.”

We do not know what the Israeli occupation state thinks it can provide to protect the UAE, its security, and its stability – or how it believes it can succeed where the US and its NATO allies have failed.

When Ansarallah’s ballistic missiles on 24 January targeted the Al Dhafra base in Abu Dhabi, home to 3,500 American and British soldiers and tens of missile systems for US Patriot batteries and their more advanced THAAD systems, these soldiers fled to shelters for safety.

The Israeli army, whose government boasts that it cannot be defeated, was defeated and humiliated several times: the first in 2000 when it fled from southern Lebanon, unilaterally, without an agreement; the second, in the South Lebanon war of July 2006; the third, in May 2021’s Battle of the Sword of Jerusalem, when then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu begged US President Joe Biden to mediate with the Egyptian government to intervene to stop the war on its eleventh day.

Can this army, which is more than 1,500 kilometers away from Abu Dhabi, protect the Emirates and provide it with security and stability? Will it confront the imagined Iranian “aggression,” as Israeli officials claim and pledge?

Tel Aviv sells an illusion to the UAE and other Arab countries that have signed peace agreements with it. Under the facade of ‘peace,’ Israel engages with Arabs mockingly – focused on exploiting every advantage via blackmail, theft, threat and bluster.

In the UAE’s case, Israel works to dispel a double concern – the first for some Emiratis, and the second for most Israelis – which is the growing strength of the region’s Axis of Resistance and its massive and advanced military and missile capabilities.

On Sunday, Israeli military analyst Alon Ben David revealed in a Maariv article why the Israeli government rejected a $3.5 billion arms deal to the UAE – including the transfer of the “Iron Dome” and “David’s Sling.” Put simply, Tel Aviv feared the leaking of these sensitive systems technologies to Iran and Yemen’s Houthis. The UAE has since headed to South Korea in search of alternatives.

This refusal means, at first glance, that the Israeli “ally” does not trust his Emirati counterpart, or his ability to protect himself and preserve these systems and their secrets. It is not to say that Tel Aviv expects Abu Dhabi to hand over its secrets; rather, Israel doesn’t exclude the possibility of an invasion and occupation of the Emirates by a third party, which could then commandeer the Israeli military systems and decipher its technological secrets.

There is another reason for Tel Aviv’s block on the weapons transfer that should not be ignored: Israel’s leadership does not want to directly and publicly involve itself in the Yemen war. It is well aware that providing any notable military or security assistance to the Emirates could result in Ansarallah retaliatory missile responses in the depths of Israel or on its ships in the Red Sea, through which 80 percent of its exports pass.

The distance between Sanaa and Abu Dhabi (1500 km) is the same between Saada and Eilat, and whomever can hit one, will not hesitate to hit the other, if the situation demands.

On Monday, the Israeli president is supposed to inaugurate his country’s pavilion at the ‘Expo 2020’ in Dubai. This highly-hyped Emirati exhibition, according to some Ansarallah spokesmen, is one of the expected targets of missile strikes – if the UAE continues to intervene in two crucial battles in the Marib and Shabwah governorates.

The United Arab Emirates has committed two strategic mistakes. The first, is its involvement in the Yemen war seven years ago. The second, is in signing the Abraham Accords and normalizing relations with the Israeli occupation state.

If the first mistake drained it financially and morally, the second one has created an existential threat for its security and stability.

Simply put, the UAE has placed bad bets on worse allies – successive Israeli defeats, the imminent US withdrawal from West Asia after its humiliating exit from Afghanistan, and the approaching settlement of  the Vienna nuclear negotiations – which, negative or positive, will not hinder Iran’s regional trajectory one bit.

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

The UAE’s bitter choices: strikes in its cities or defeat in Yemen

January 19 2022

By Abdel Bari Atwan

There are two main choices for the UAE: escalate dramatically or exit quickly, both with considerable cost to Abu Dhabi

On 17 January, Yemeni resistance movement Ansarallah launched its first-ever retaliatory missile strikes into the UAE’s depth, hitting Abu Dhabi airport and a key petroleum facility. Within hours, the Saudi-led coalition struck Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, killing 23 civilians in the ensuing bombardments. Both sides have threatened to escalate, after seven years of a brutal war.

So, what are the options of the UAE and the Houthis after the recent and sudden military confrontations? Will Abu Dhabi withdraw again – as it claimed to have done in 2019 – or will it continue its expensive proxy war, via its Yemen-based mercenary armies? And how will the Houthis respond to each of these scenarios?

After the unprecedented drones and ballistic missile attack launched by Ansarallah, Yemen’s Houthi-dominated resistance movement, into the UAE’s territorial depth, there are two critical questions that arise. The first is about the real motives behind this new Ansarallah gambit, and the second, about the UAE’s reaction to this attack.

Importantly, will this escalation lead to a change in strategy in the long run: will Abu Dhabi return to this war after a semi-interruption of three years, or will it decide to withdraw completely this time – proxies included – in order to avoid potentially high costs?

The Houthis, who have targeted multiple strategic economic and military sites inside Saudi Arabia with ballistic and winged missiles over the past years, had thus far avoided targeting the UAE in its retaliatory strikes. The Emiratis are the second-lead and key partner in the Arab coalition’s “Decisive Storm” assault launched on Yemen by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March 2015, in which he pledged to enter Houthi-controlled Sanaa “as a conqueror.”

When asked about why they neglected to retaliate against the UAE until now, sources close to the Houthis provided several reasons for that decision:

First, Ansarallah was unwilling to open two battle fronts at the same time – with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both – in addition to their internal battlefronts with the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), and the Saudi-backed Islah party and al-Sharia army.

Second, the Houthis had reached an implicit, unwritten agreement with the UAE that can be summed up thus: “We left the south to you, so leave the north to us, and do not interfere in it politically or militarily… and you will be safe.”

Third, the desire of Iran, an Ansarallah ally, to maintain a cautious balance with the UAE – especially with the Emirate of Dubai, a critical commercial gateway for undermining the severity of US sanctions on Iran, estimated to account for more than $14 billion annually in Emirati-Iranian trade.

Fourth, the sudden decision of the UAE in 2019 to withdraw its official troops gradually from Yemen after a sharp increase in soldier losses, estimated at 150 dead and hundreds more wounded.

Among the most prominent of those injured was Zayed bin Hamdan, the son of former foreign minister and governor of the northern region Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, and also the son-in-law of the the de facto ruler of the Emirates, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ). Hamdan was paralyzed and is in a wheelchair.

The UAE’s strong return to the Yemeni theater in recent months, via its proxies, especially in the critical battles of Shabwah, Marib and Al-Bayda, has changed Ansarallah’s calculations. The UAE-backed Giant Brigades – headed by General Tariq Afash, nephew of the late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh – and other southern factions, upended all the equations on the ground when it stymied the advance of Ansarallah forces on these key frontlines.

Because of this Emirati escalation in recent weeks, Ansarallah lost partial control of the oil-rich Shabwah governorate, inflicting huge human losses in its ranks, tipping the scales toward the Saudi-backed Sharia army and easing the siege on them in Marib, which the Saudis were on the verge of losing.

After several days of hesitation, during which consultations took place with allies in Tehran, Beirut, and among Yemeni tribal leaders, Ansarallah decided to send a strong message to the UAE. It did so by bombing the Emirati depth, but in a reduced and deliberate way, to deliver a warning message to Abu Dhabi: “You breached the agreement.. If you go back, we will return, and he who warns have been excused (from explaining further),” say the Houthi sources mentioned above.

The Emirati military response came quickly, less than 24 hours later, with an aerial bombardment of the home of retired General Abdullah Qassem al-Junaid, head of the Yemeni Air College in the heart of Sanaa – where three families resided – killing about 23 civilians and wounding dozens for the first time in years.

There are two options for the UAE after these recent developments.

First, to revive the 2019 ‘truce agreement’ with the Houthis, which would entail ordering UAE proxies to immediately withdraw from the Shabwah, Marib and Al-Bayda fronts and return to their former bases on the western coast, south of Hodeidah and near Bab al-Mandab, as a first step.

Second, to advance its proxies into Ansarallah’s geographic red lines, and throw its full weight back into the Yemeni war  to strengthen the exhausted military position of its Saudi ally. These were decisions implemented by the UAE and Saudi Arabia in an agreement reached during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MbS) visit to Abu Dhabi before last December’s Gulf summit.

It is not known which of the two options the Emirati leadership will choose. The first will be difficult as it will require an exit from the Saudi-led war coalition, an increase in tension with Riyadh, and the abandonment of its allies’ military ambitions in southern Yemen – but it will lead to halting any new Houthi attacks in the Emirati depth.

The second option may be vastly more expensive, because the Houthis are likely to continue their bombing of the UAE with more powerful retaliatory strikes targeting the oil and tourism infrastructure, especially the airports and the facilities of the “ADNOC” company, an Emirati version of Saudi Aramco.

Ansarallah’s bombardment of the UAE with missiles and drones, although expected, constituted a dangerous new development. It changed all the rules of engagement and moved the Yemeni war to a new stage where developments are difficult to anticipate.

Israel is about 1,600 kilometers from Sanaa – approximately the same distance between Abu Dhabi and Yemen’s capital city. Tel Aviv’s assistance to the UAE to investigate the Ansarallah strike capabilities comes on the back of increasing Israeli fears that it could be the next destination for Houthi ballistic missiles and armed drones. So, how then could this new element influence the direction of the Arab coalition countries in this war, and the UAE, in particular?

This unprecedented bombing of the Emirati depth will either lead to accelerate the exploration of a solution to end the Yemeni war – or escalate it, expand its circle, and invite other regional parties into it. The new entrants could include the countries and arms of the resistance axis, jihadists from all over the world, Russia, China, and a more active presence by western NATO states – similar to what happened in Syria.

In all cases, the surprises of the new year have already arrived, faster than we could have imagined.

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

Macron, the Gulf, and Islam

January 6, 2022

French President, Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan prior to a working lunch at Fontainebleau castle on September 15, 2021 in Fontainebleau, France. Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images.

BY ALAIN GRESH


n December 3 and 4, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to the Gulf for a short visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. This is likely to be his last foreign trip outside of Europe, as France has entered election season. The presidential election will take place on April 10 and 24, 2022, and

Macron is preparing to run for re-election.

Macron’s trip highlights the importance of the Gulf countries on at least two levels. First, at a time of the United States’ disengagement from the region, France is trying to occupy its place economically, militarily, and politically.

Second, at a time when the issue of Islam and Muslims is at the center of the presidential campaign, Macron wants to seek support for the French position against “radicalism,” and especially so after the adoption of the “Law against Separatism,” renamed the “Law Reinforcing the Principles of the Republic,” which came into force in August 2021 and which has caused much misunderstanding in the Muslim world (and elsewhere) as it appears to be (and is in fact) a law against Islam and Muslims.

The most successful stopover was in Abu Dhabi, where President Macron has a close personal relationship with the Emirates’ strongman, Mohamed bin Zayed (MBZ). The signing of a record contract for the sale of 80 Rafale aircraft was accompanied by the sale of twelve Eurocopter EC725 Caracal helicopters, and the singing of various economic partnership agreements. “This is the biggest military contract with a French component in our history – worth some 17 billion euros,”  Macron said.

For Macron, this is proof of the close ties between Paris and Abu Dhabi. “I think that the Emirates and the Crown Prince saw that France was a solid partner in the fight against terrorism (…), that is to say that we kept our commitments in the region and that we were attached to its balance.” For it is not only a question of arms sales, but of a community of views and coordination between Abu Dhabi and Paris in the “war against terrorism” (notably in Libya), and in the fight against “political Islam,” as shown by the presence on the trip of Laurent Nuñez, the national coordinator of intelligence and the fight against terrorism. MBZ’s support for French laws against “separatism” is particularly appreciated.

We should notice that the French president said nothing about the authoritarian nature of the Abu Dhabi regime, which imprisons and tortures its opponents, about its involvement in the deadly war in Yemen, or about its use of Pegasus spy software. Yet, a few days later, a report by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) highlighted the dark side of the regime and Paris’s complicity in it.

The second stop was Doha. Although it did not call into question the very good relations between the two capitals (the visit was fruitful), the meeting was marked by an incident that was barely reported. The French delegation reported that Nuñez gave the local authorities a list of approximately fifteen entities (mosques, associations etc.)  whose funding by Qatari sources, private or public, France requested comes to an end. Anonymously, a Qatari official reacted quite strongly,

“This is a pure invention by Mr Nuñez – no such list has been given to our government and there would be no reason to create one. This is an attempt at political gain at the expense of Qatar. (…) Our government is working closely with its French counterparts on several bilateral and international initiatives to combat illicit financing from source to destination.”

Beyond the controversy, the incident illustrates Macron’s emphasis on controlling France’s Muslims and his willingness to assert that he is doing all he can to counter “political Islam”.

The last and most controversial stop of Macron’s trip to the Gulf, in France at least, was his visit to Saudi Arabia. For the first time since the horrific murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, a major head of state of the Western world agreed to meet Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Saudi crown prince, widely considered the mastermind of this crime.

Relations between MBS and Macron had not been rosy since the French president “rescued” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2018, when he was reportedly kidnapped in Saudi Arabia by MBS and forced to announce his resignation from Riyadh.

Relations between MBS and Macron had not been rosy since the French president “rescued” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2018.

While the aim of the meeting was also to give a boost to bilateral relations – and to take advantage of the rift between Washington and Riyadh, with President Joe Biden refusing any contact with MBS – one of the objectives was a new mediation with Lebanon, which the Saudis are subjecting to a trade embargo that is aggravating the economic crisis in the country. The result was modest: a conversation between Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and MBS on Macron’s phone. Nothing more came of the visit – no return of ambassadors and no lifting of the embargo.

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The UAE clock is ticking in Yemen

MbZ needed Yemen’s southern ports and waterways to underpin his ‘Maritime Empire’ and extend his security realm. But now the Yemeni resistance is set to blow a hole in those plans.

Jan 04 2022

UAE Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed bet on his Yemen war to consolidate his maritime and security ambitions. It may have backfired.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Karim Shami

On 3 January, a UAE-flagged vessel carrying ‘military supplies’ was seized by Yemeni resistance movement Ansarallah, which disseminated photos of the war contraband widely on social media.

One week earlier, Yemen’s Armed Forces launched a ballistic missile strike on Shabwah province, an area under the control of UAE-backed militias.

If a new strategy of targeting Emirati interests – instead of mainly Saudi ones – is taking shape in Yemen, these incidents are likely to have a ripple effect on the UAE’s role in both Yemen and the wider region.

Ambition and contest inside a house of glass

At the onset of the war on Yemen in 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates divided their military-strategic roles in Yemen in accordance with country’s former partition lines of 1967–1990.

Back then, Yemen was divided into two separate states, north and south. The oil-rich north was attached to Saudi Arabia, while the communist south received significant aid and other assistance from its alliance with the USSR.

After the dissolution of the USSR, the nation unified under Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of the former North Yemen since 1978, firmly consolidating the country under the influence of Saudi Arabia.

The UAE began its role as a regional player in West Asia after the death of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 2004.

The ambitious Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MbZ), subsequently took full control of the UAE. He overhauled his predecessor’s visions and prepared the UAE for a post-oil era, in which the country would transform from a traditional Gulf oil-dependent country to one with a diversified economy.

Briefly, the UAE’s diversified economy rested on the construction of mega projects funded by oil revenues, such as ports and airports that turned the UAE into a regional, free trade zone hub for importing and exporting oil, jewelry, electronics and other goods. The economy of the UAE would be further boosted by foreign investments in tourism, air transport, and real estate.

In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, foreign investments as well as real estate sectors depreciated, and the UAE struggled to achieve full recovery until 2019. Then, as others in the Arabian Peninsula, the Emirati economy took another bashing from the effects of COVID-19 on its tourism industry and the subsequent instability of the global oil market.

These downturns increased the importance of ports and airports in MbZ’s grand scheme. Today, re-exports (non-petroleum) account for almost 50 percent of total exports, making maritime security an ultimate priority for UAE foreign policy.

Ultimately, the success of MbZ has been in transforming the UAE from an absolute realm of sand to an absolute realm of glass, and his fortunes can remain intact as long as those glass towers stand.

A coalition of differing goals

When Ansarallah (the Houthis) – a northern Yemeni resistance movement against western and Gulf interventionism – took over the capital city of Sanaa, a coalition spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was formed to push back and destroy it.

UAE officials claim that their role in the coalition is to support the ‘legal’ government of Hadi, who was overthrown by the Yemeni people in a popular uprising, and who subsequently sought protection in Riyadh.

Generally speaking, the UAE adamantly opposes any popular Islamic or resistance movements across the region, from the Polisario on the Atlantic Ocean to the Islamic Brotherhood on the Persian Gulf. The UAE has also periodically employed the hollow excuse of ‘restraining Iran’s influence’ to justify their aggressions in Yemen and elsewhere in the region.

However, the real reason for the conflict waged on Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the UAE has little to do with politics – and much more to do with the geography of South Yemen.

It’s all about geography…and location

Along the coastlines of Yemen are ports and islands overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Horn of Africa, and the Bab al-Mandab strait.

Photo Credit: The Cradle
Division of labor: Saudi interests lie primarily in Yemen’s north; the UAE’s ambitions, in the south.

The foreign policy of the UAE today is determined mainly by maritime trading and security. Control of Yemen’s south will assist the UAE in maintaining its regional trading dominance and will secure the waterways and airports to avoid future vulnerabilities.

Maritime trading will be determined in the upcoming years by the Maritime Silk Road,  which is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Engineered to connect around 60 countries, the $4 trillion project will bolster the strategically-located Yemen as a vital hub of maritime trading, naturally diminishing the UAE’s location and role.

For the UAE, the three key sites in connection with maritime trading are the Aden governorate, Socotra Island, and Bab al-Mandab strait:

First is Aden province which includes Aden Port City, purported to be part of the Maritime Silk Road. It has the biggest container terminal in Yemen and is located on the Gulf of Aden near one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Aden also now hosts the country’s largest airport after the war coalition in 2015 destroyed the airport in Sanaa. Currently, Aden is under the control of the UAE.

Then there is Socotra, a unique natural and isolated wonder, a well-sized island surrounded by the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea. It faces the Horn of Africa from the west, and is also located on one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Currently, Socotra is controlled by the UAE.

Finally, there is the Bab al-Mandab strait, which will be an essential part of the Maritime Silk Road. The strait connects the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, and is shared by three countries: Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea. Around 20,000 ships pass through the strait each year, and the total petroleum flows through Bab al-Mandab account for nine percent of global supply.

The UAE is currently in control of the Bab al-Mandab strait.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

A colonial strategy that never tires

While the coalition may have ostensibly sought the unity of Yemen by re-establishing what they called the ‘legal’ Hadi government in Sanaa, the intent – at least by the UAE – was quite the opposite.

MbZ’s ambition within the coalition differs significantly from that of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS). Saudi Arabia sought mainly to dismantle Ansarallah, regain Yemen as its pawn, and eliminate any threats that might emerge from its southern border.

But the UAE saw in this war an opportunity to establish an oversized maritime role for itself by deploying the colonial principle of divide and conquer.

The Emiratis achieved their ‘self-styled maritime empire’ in Yemen with the aid of the Southern Movement, which came into existence in 2007. The Southern Movement was formed by tribes and groups seeking to divide Yemen along the old partition lines of 1967–1990.

The movement, however, would soon be restructured to match the aspirations of the UAE, and thus the formation of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) was announced in 2017.

Known for its brutality and ruthlessness, the STC was trained, equipped, and fully funded by the UAE. The council was established to provide the illusion of a governing authority, which could then bestow a semblance of “legitimacy” on the UAE’s unlawful actions in Yemen’s south. The STC even have their own ‘elected’ president in Aden, while Hadi has been holed up in Riyadh since 2015.

Through the STC, the UAE was able to seize both Aden and the island of Socotra. Without the formation of the STC, the UAE would have had absolutely no influence in Yemen.

The takeover of Bab Al Mandab strait, however, took a different route. The UAE established its dominance over the strait simply by building a military base on the tiny and uninhabited island of Perim (Mayyun).

Perim lies on the narrowest corridor of the strait at 26 km (16 miles) wide – and faces Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia to the west. Incidentally, the UAE has also built military bases and ports in both Eritrea (Assab port/base) and Somalia (Berbera port/base), whereas in Djibouti, the UAE established the port of Doraleh in a joint project with China.

With typical colonial-style flair, the UAE took on the ‘guardianship’ of the strait connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

The spoils of war

So how was all this achieved by a 50-year old emirate with a population of just over one million?

Certainly, none of this was possible without an American green light and the complete cluelessness of the Saudi crown prince.

Unlike his Saudi counterpart, MbZ is viewed in Washington (and London, for that matter) as a trustworthy ally who can achieve US foreign policy interests in the region without the public embarrassment associated with MbS.

Accordingly, the Bab al-Mandab strait fell neatly into a vital component of the Cold War 2.0 buildup between China and the US. The Arab ally that can control this essential strait will give the US leverage with which to jeopardize the Maritime Silk Road. Hence, its support for the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

MbZ also knew how to keep the UAE in the shadows by taking advantage – as he always does – of MbS’ inexperience and ignorance in matters related to geopolitics.

While the idea of a Saudi-led coalition and a regional show of force might have initially rung enticingly in the ears of MbS, today, after several costly years, many documented war crimes, and a shattered global reputation, the Saudi crown prince has essentially been cornered in defeat.

This, despite spending billions more than the UAE and taking on a barrage of targeted Yemeni ballistic missiles since 2019, when Ansarallah went on the offensive.

That same year, Ansarallah Leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi warned the UAE not to escalate its attacks on Yemen as the resistance movement’s retaliatory ‘options’ had expanded well beyond Yemen’s borders. The threat itself resulted in a partial withdrawal of Emirati troops, and later a full withdrawal in 2020.

Despite its military withdrawal, the UAE did not lose an inch of its dominance in the south due to the generous support and diplomatic protection it provided to the brutal STC.

Gains and losses 

Official reports indicate that by 2018 the UAE had recorded 112 military personnel deaths and injured soldiers in the thousands.

Further reports indicate that the UAE spends well over $16 billion a year to maintain its dominance in the war on Yemen. Billions of dollars have been spent just on logistics, propaganda, and the amassing of foreign mercenary militias.

Logistics are essential to maintaining the security of the maritime corridors and helping to puppeteer the UAE’s southern minions.

Propaganda is funded by both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, known for their ability and willingness to throw cash at such projects. Global and regional media has been well controlled: it is rare after seven years of war to hear details in mainstream media about Yemen that doesn’t focus primarily on the humanitarian dimension – often blamed on Ansarallah – and it is almost impossible to find analysis or data that highlights the monumental geopolitical and material losses encountered by the various coalition partners.

But the bulk of the UAE bill goes to STC ‘politicians’ who enjoy a life of luxury in a war-torn country in tandem with the 200,000 well-equipped and armed members who, as stated by an Emirati official, are the ‘biggest accomplishment’ of the UAE.

The gains made by the UAE since 2015 are utterly unmatched by its material losses.

The road ahead for the UAE

Both MbZ and MbS assumed the war on Yemen would be a blitz that would end rapidly and allow them to bask in the glory of victory. But for those who know Yemen well, the uncalculated consequences of that rosy, inexpert outlook would quickly emerge to flip the war’s course.

One of these consequences would be the growth of Ansarallah’s military sophistication and capabilities.

Ansarallah first started fighting with light arms, but was gradually able to manufacture its own accurate ballistic missiles and drones. And Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, unlike other leaders, did not hesitate to use these capabilities to strike at Saudi Arabia.

In 2021, Al-Houthi said in a broadcast: “We will liberate all of our country and take back all the areas that were occupied by the enemies. Our enemy’s aim is to subjugate our land to the US, the British and the Israelis.”

Currently, the ongoing battles are in areas surrounding Sanaa province, specifically in Marib. After the Saudi militias are defeated, the next confrontations are likely to be in areas under the control of the UAE.

MbZ will shortly face two choices: First, to withdraw completely from Yemen and cease his support for the STC, thereby losing control over the southern waterways and ports and scuttling his oversized regional ambitions.

His second choice is to take the risk and face Ansarallah’s retaliation, which may result in attacks on facilities and military bases inside and outside the UAE. In this event, tourism and foreign investment sectors in the UAE would be adversely affected, and a new kind of war will commence.

MbZ has prepared for the second option, both militarily and politically. This year alone, the UAE has attempted to conceal multiple military deals related to air defense systems with various countries that include Russia, the US, GreeceIsrael, and South Korea.

The UAE has also invested in manufacturing its own air defense system to counter the threat escalation triggered by its foreign policies.

On the political side, MbZ has recently managed to ease tensions with Iran and Turkey and has allowed China to build a port/base on the shores of the Persian Gulf. He has also struck unmatched cordial relations with Israel, and has – so far, unsuccessfully – tried to invest in an Israeli port that is, ironically, geared to be part of the Maritime Silk Road.

Perhaps, in his own mind, MbZ believes this may gain him more protection from the west and his neighbors, and bestow his maritime schemes with some legitimacy.

However, Mbz’s recent actions to strengthen the UAE’s defensive capabilities suggests that he expects his emirate to take direct hits from Ansarallah.

His friendly diplomatic overtures to neighboring countries is a tactical move on his part to ensure strong condemnation from the international community against any Ansarallah strikes on the UAE. How effective an international response might be as a result of a strike on the UAE remains to be seen. 

The stakes are high for all parties. A coalition loss in Yemen will shake the emirates and monarchies of West Asia and shift the course of the Maritime Silk Road away from the UAE and its allies.

An Ansarallah-ruled Yemen would reap huge material benefits and geopolitical clout from the nation’s strategic location and unexploited natural resources, and would likely seek to establish regional and international ventures with trusted partners in the new multipolar system emerging.

The Saudis are on their way out, leaving the UAE with little cover for their Yemeni project. The current US administration, despite continued arms injections into the war front, is publicly attempting to keep a careful distance.

An Emirati counter using western mercenaries and Israeli special forces, while possible, could delay an Ansarallah victory, but would also invite countless additional consequences. It may even, this time, entirely flip the Arab discourse – already highly critical of “normalization” with Israel – against Abu Dhabi and Gulf monarchies in general.

With Ansarallah attacks on Emirati interests in and around Yemen this past week, the spotlight is now suddenly – certainly uncomfortably – focused on a UAE that prefers its place in the shadows of conflict.

So will the UAE fully withdraw from Yemen, or will MbZ risk shattering the fragile glass towers of his realm?The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE: Two rival allies

Once staunch allies, MbS and MbZ can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on regional matters anymore, and so a competition for primacy is underway.

December 16 2021

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and his Emirati counterpart Mohammad bin Zayed are old allies whose rivalry for West Asian dominance is heating up as they search for new groundings in the post-oil eraPhoto Credit: The Cradle

By Mohammad Salami

Many years ago, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was respected among its neighbors, close and far, as a protector of Arab unity and of Islam’s holiest sites within the Arabian Peninsula.

But after the 1998 establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Saudi Arabia’s role began to assume the form of  a ‘superior power’ among its closest neighbors. Over time, and with growing fortunes of their own, other GCC states began to challenge the status quo of the Saudi superpower in order to forge their own geopolitical directions and relationships based on national interests.

While competition between the oil-rich states is rife, today, the often starkly differing visions of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Saudi kingdom are giving shape to the Persian Gulf’s most potent new rivalry.

Like Qatar, which opened its borders to the US Military Central Command’s (CENTCOM) headquarters as leverage against Saudi diktats and as means to attain its own regional aspirations, the UAE has also invested heavily in an American buffer, becoming arguably Washington’s closest Arab ally today.

Abu Dhabi has spent a reported $4 billion cultivating their relationship with Washington via lobby groups and other personal strategic investments. The Emiratis’ abundant wealth, its expansive military spending and development of mercenary armies currently at work in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Egypt’s North Sinai, have paid off: the UAE is well positioned to challenge Riyadh within the GCC and adopt regional policies independent of the kingdom.

Border, oil, and foreign hub rivalries

The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the UAE is not exactly new. In 1974, the two fledgling nations hammered out the Treaty of Jeddah to try and resolve border, land, and resource issues wedged between them.

Specifically, Riyadh laid claim to the oil-rich Buraimi Oasis and refused to recognize the Emirates until that area was ceded to the Saudis. Abu Dhabi capitulated and signed the treaty, but in 2004 decided to dispute its terms, claiming inconsistencies between the pre-treaty oral agreement and the actual text of said treaty. The issue remains unresolved to this day and is a clear example of residual tensions between the neighboring nations.

Another dispute surfaced in 2009 when the GCC agreed to create a joint bank to promote economic unity among member states. But when a decision was taken to establish the bank in Saudi territory, the UAE objected, pointing out that they had requested to host this joint venture for the previous five years.

Eventually the Emiratis withdrew from the plan and single currency negotiations within the GCC never took hold.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also embroiled in an economic war over oil sales at a time when the world is working to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons. In recent years, both the US and the European Union (EU) have announced ambitious plans to combat global warming by radically reducing carbon emissions.

The Europeans in particular are planning to end the sale of all gas and diesel-run vehicles by 2035 and to reach a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

This has placed both Abu Dhabi and Riyadh in a race to out-produce each other before global demand wanes and favorable prices drop below the level needed to fill government coffers. This race against time has led the Emiratis into a $122 billion spending spree to boost their production capacity to five million barrels a day by the end of this decade. The Saudis, in turn, have begun to expand their own production capacities with an eye to producing 13 million barrels a day.

Meanwhile, the net share of oil revenue (oil rents) in Saudi Arabia’s 2019 GDP was about 50 percent higher than that of the UAE.

A more recent public dispute between the Persian Gulf neighbors occurred in July 2021 at the OPEC+ Summit, during which the UAE expressed its vigorous opposition to a Saudi decision to keep oil production levels low until December 2022, claiming this was “unfair” to the UAE.

But competition between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh in non-oil trade is also abundant. In October, Saudi Arabia licensed 44 international companies to set up regional headquarters in Riyadh in a deal that will add 67 billion riyals ($18 billion) to the economy. The offer came with a proviso: companies that base their operations outside the kingdom will be shut out of the lucrative Saudi market

The move came as part of the kingdom’s push to become a regional commercial hub and to vie for foreign capital and talent, ignoring the fact that many of these firms already had head offices up and running in the UAE.

Riyadh has set a 2023 end-of-year deadline for firms to set up headquarters in the country or risk losing out on Saudi government contracts.

A disastrous partnership in war

The overly ambitious goals of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) to vie for leadership in the region, as well as their rivalry with older regional powers like Iran and Turkey, has unfolded over their disastrous war in Yemen.

The six-year old war was launched with conflicting interests and end goals from both the kingdom and the UAE, paving the way for its collective failure.

For its part, the UAE sought to gain control over Yemen’s ports and shipping lanes, as well as of its strategic advantages such as the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and its proximity to the Horn of Africa. The Saudis, meanwhile, were more concerned with protecting their southern border from the political ideologies of the Zaidi Shia and the Ansarallah resistance movement, ideologies that reject all foreign intervention in Yemen – a country which has been under the Saudi thumb for decades.

In yet another show of their conflicting interests, Saudi Arabia supports the Al-Islah Party, the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, while the UAE opposes it. But even more egregious, while Riyadh backs the parallel government of ousted Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in the south and north of the country, the UAE supports the Southern Transitional Council (STC), which holds deep differences with the Hadi government.

In 2019, this particular dispute unfolded when the STC gained control of the city of Aden, which was the seat of Hadi’s parallel administration. As clashes between the STC and Hadi loyalists unfolded, UAE troops were forced to join the battle to provide aid for the STC, in a battle that ended with over 300 dead and wounded.

With the STC strengthened and eventually able to declare autonomy in Aden in April 2020, the UAE withdrew its forces from the battlefield and headed south to secure Yemen’s ports for itself.

Beyond its role in Yemen, the UAE has also pursued diplomatic relations in the region in opposition to Saudi Arabia. Most recently the Emiratis have made efforts to improve their ties with Iran, Turkey, Syria, and even Israel, all of them countries Riyadh holds at a significant distance.

The safe train to Tehran

Last month, the diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, Anwar Gargash, spoke of conflict de-escalation with Iran, saying: “We have taken steps to de-escalate tensions [with Iran] as we have no interest in a confrontation.The whole region would pay the price of such a confrontation for decades to come,” he told audiences at the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate.

Saudi Arabia cannot so swiftly resolve its disputes with the Islamic Republic – exacerbated during the Yemen and Syria wars – with which it has a historic regional rivalry. The UAE’s advantage in such scenarios is that it enjoys the flexibility to resolve tensions without losing face – it is not perceived as ‘leading’ those conflicts, unlike the Saudis, and does not consider Iran a “menace,” also unlike the Saudis.

Moreover, Abu Dhabi has good reason to maintain functioning relations with Iran, a country with which it enjoys substantial trade relations, partly due to the large Iranian community living in the UAE and their local investments. Other reasons for the country’s focus on economic diplomacy instead of aggressive measures include the US administration’s desire to advance nuclear talks with Iran, and Tehran’s capacity to influence developments in Afghanistan and other key regional states.

By maintaining friendly relations with Iran, the UAE is looking to strike a balance of power with the Saudis, as Tehran could prove to be useful in the event of a serious dispute with Riyadh. Qatar did much the same, using Iranian aid to reduce the effects of sanctions during the 2017–2021 economic blockade imposed on Doha by the kingdom.

In regard to Israel, due to its central role in the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia cannot make peace with Israel openly. The UAE, however, has fewer restrictions, as evidenced by the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords in September 2020.

Well aware of its limited reach in the geopolitical arena, Abu Dhabi’s normalization of ties with Israel is an attempt to reduce their own vulnerability to regional threats, such as airstrikes on their infrastructure. The Abraham Accords also provide the Emiratis with direct US support, even against the dictatorial policies of Saudi Arabia.

The Turkish dilemma

The relationship between Ankara and Abu Dhabi has been improving over the past year. In late November, MbZ met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara after 10 years of tensions, in an attempt to resolve their rivalry as the UAE has become Turkey’s largest regional trading partner.

“From 2019 to 2020, UAE exports to Turkey increased by more than 110 percent and total trade increased by 21 percent,” Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, said on 25 November.

Abu Dhabi is also hoping to use Ankara’s significant influence in Azerbaijan, Palestine, Central Asia, and the Balkans to expand trade relations beyond West Asia. The UAE is also aware of the influence Turkey has in Afghanistan and is eager to face off against the Saudis in this arena as well.

Crucially, in preparation of the post-oil era, both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are not only vying to bolster their strategic influence over other regional players, but they need to gain an understanding of what life will look like in a carbon-neutral world.

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

Erdogan’s Reconciliations: ‘Israel’ is a Friend, Assad Remains an Enemy! مصالحات إردوغان.. “إسرائيل” صديق والأسد يبقى عدواً!

 ARABI SOURI 

Turkey Erdogan – Syria President Bashar Assad

Erdogan knows that reconciliation with Assad will not be easy for him as long as he believes that such reconciliation will mean the final defeat of his regional and international project.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

A week after the “Turkish reconciliation with the UAE”, which was achieved by Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to Ankara (11/24) at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the latter announced his “efforts to achieve similar reconciliations with Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain,” speaking about his upcoming visit to Abu Dhabi in the first half of next February after he called Bin Zayed and congratulated him on the UAE National Day (December 1).

Erdogan, who, along with his ministers, forgot everything he said about Mohammed bin Zayed politically, and the loyal Turkish media insulted him, describing him with the worst epithets, it seems that he also forgot everything he personally said about Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and “Israel” in whole and in detail, which proves the success of the Emirati mediation on the path of Trump’s “deal of the century”, Bin Zayed declared himself its godfather.

As the betting continues on the results of the seventh round (and subsequent rounds) of the Iranian nuclear file negotiations in Vienna, the information talks about the recent visits of Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu to Cairo, Riyadh, Manama, and “Tel Aviv”. The visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog (with Azerbaijani and Ukrainian mediation as well) to Ankara may soon follow, at a time when ambiguity persists about Cairo’s position, which seems to not rush reconciliation with Ankara until it secures a practical and final position from President Erdogan against the Egyptian and Arab Muslim Brotherhood, it is a request that he may agree to the Egyptian part (and indeed the Israeli one with regard to the “Hamas” movement), and postpone the Arab part, especially the Libyan and the Syrian, with the continuation of regional and international bargaining in these two files, including the visit that President Emmanuel Macron will pay (4-3). (December) Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, yesterday’s enemies and today’s allies in the American play which still have Syria as its main target, along with Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.

This explains the Saudi-Emirati escalation in Yemen, the continued Saudi conspiracy against Lebanon, the Moroccan persistence (the king and his entourage) in alliance with “Israel” against Algeria (to obstruct and thwart the Arab summit) and North Africa in general, and finally, the continuation of the Turkish and American position in Syria.

Washington prevents its Kurdish allies from any agreement with Damascus, to continue its covert and overt projects with various parties in Iraq, to ​​ensure its interests in the region in general, at a time when the Turkish position in Syria remains the most important and influential element in the overall developments of the latter, with its repercussions on all regional projects and plans. and international (the West’s provocations against Russia in Ukraine), which is the calculation that makes President Erdogan a key party in the “deal of the century” in its updated form, which Washington, along with Paris, London, and even Berlin, wants with its new government (the leader of the Green Party and Foreign Minister Annalina Birbock is a friend of “Israel” and an enemy of Russia and China), to succeed in arranging the affairs of the region, while guaranteeing the future of “Zionist” Israel forever.

This will require weakening the Arab position more than it is now, by blowing up the concept of resistance in all its forms and military, political, social, cultural, and humanitarian content, which has so far succeeded in obstructing all imperialist and colonial projects and schemes with its Arab and Islamist tools.

As usual, the bet remains on President Erdogan’s stance regarding all these facts and their future possibilities that he wants to support his position in Syria as long as the Arab and Western parties do not want a solution soon. Erdogan, who abandoned all his previous statements and policies, and reconciled with the Emirates, and declared his readiness to reconcile with the “archenemy” Egypt (Sisi) and “Israel”, everyone knows that he will not reconcile with President Assad as long as he knows that the Arab and Western regimes will never force him to do so.

He also knows that reconciliation with al-Assad will not be easy for him personally, as long as he believes that such reconciliation will mean the final defeat of his regional and international (Muslim) Brotherhood project, reconciliation with President al-Assad will require him to withdraw the Turkish forces and authorities from the areas they control (about 9% of the area of Syria) in northern Syria, and stop all kinds of military and financial support for tens of thousands of armed opposition factions (operating under the orders of the Turkish army) that are fighting the Syrian state, And to stop protecting Idlib and the “Al-Nusra” (Al Qaeda Levant) and its ilk in it, and finally to return the Syrian refugees from Turkey to their country, within the framework of a plan to be agreed upon with Damascus. This is, of course, with coordination and cooperation with it to address the situation east of the Euphrates, where the Kurdish militias that Ankara considers the Syrian branch of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party, which has been fighting the Turkish state for 40 years.

Such possibilities require more than a miracle for President Erdogan to call or meet with President Assad, who was his only friend when everyone was against him because of his former Brotherhood origins. The Turkish withdrawal from Syria, with all its secret and overt elements, would mean at the same time its withdrawal from Libya and Iraq, and its abandonment of its ideological projects, not only in the region but in the whole world as well.

This probability is very weak, at a ratio of 1 out of 10, if not 1 out of 100, given Ankara’s intertwined and complicated relationship externally and the most complex at home, especially after he became the absolute ruler of the country after the change of the constitution in April 2017. He sees in the details of his ideological and nationalist foreign policies important elements to influence his supporters and followers, to ensure the continuity of their support for him, despite the catastrophes of serious economic and financial crises, the most important of its causes are the costs of foreign policy. Otherwise, the issue does not need such tidal changes in Erdogan’s positions, who can return Turkey to pre-2011 with one phone call with President al-Assad, and without resorting to any Gulf, Russian or Iranian mediation. Who would reconcile with Sisi (he said that he is a criminal) And “Israel” (he described it more than once as a criminal gang), and seeking reconciliation with Ibn Salman after he said what he said about him (after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi), he can reconcile his former friend Assad simply, especially since Syria has not undertaken any hostile action against Turkey, despite all that Ankara has done to it over the past ten years.

This comes at a time when everyone knows that reconciliation with Syria will open the gates of the region to him again, as long as he will return to be a friend of “Israel” (to win the favor of the Jewish lobbies and to distance “Israel” from Cyprus, Greece, and France), and to ensure that the Gulf regimes support him financially, to help him achieve huge economic gains from development and reconstruction projects in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, and the rest of the countries in the region, and Turkey is the most fortunate in it, because of its capabilities and proximity to it, which requires a new stage of reconciliation and forgiveness between Erdogan and all the leaders of the region.

The return of coordination and cooperation between them will mean nothing unless it starts with President Assad. This is, of course, if the new coordination and cooperation are not aimed at another bloody spring targeting Syria, as was the case 10 years ago, otherwise, how can “Israel” turn into a friend of Erdogan, and Assad remains more than an enemy!

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مصالحات إردوغان.. “إسرائيل” صديق والأسد يبقى عدواً!

الخميس 2 كانون الأول 2021

حسني محلي

يعرف إردوغان أنَّ المصالحة مع الأسد لن تكون سهلة بالنسبة إليه ما دام يعتقد أن مثل هذه المصالحة ستعني هزيمة مشروعه الإقليمي والدولي نهائياً.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is turkey-erdogan-syria-president-bashar-assad.jpg
كيف تتحول “إسرائيل” إلى صديق لإردوغان، ويبقى الأسد أكثر من عدو!؟

بعد أسبوع من “المصالحة التركية مع الإمارات”، والتي تحققت بزيارة محمد بن زايد إلى أنقرة (24/11) بدعوة من الرئيس رجب طيب إردوغان، أعلن الأخير “مساعيه لتحقيق مصالحات مماثلة مع كل من مصر وإسرائيل والسعودية والبحرين”، متحدثاً عن زيارته القادمة لأبو ظبي في النصف الأول من شباط/فبراير المقبل بعد أن اتصل بابن زايد هاتفياً وهنأه بالعيد الوطني للإمارات (1 كانون الاول/ديسمبر).

فإردوغان الذي نسي، ومعه وزراؤه، كل ما قاله عن محمد بن زايد سياسياً، وأهانه الإعلام التركي الموالي، واصفاً إياه بأسوأ النعوت، يبدو أنه نسي أيضاً كل ما قاله شخصياً عن عبدالفتاح السيسي و”إسرائيل” جملةً وتفصيلاً، وهو ما يثبت نجاح الوساطة الإماراتية على طريق “صفقة القرن” التي أطلقها ترامب، وأعلن ابن زايد نفسه عراباً لها.

ومع استمرار الرهان على نتائج الجولة السابعة (والجولات اللاحقة) من مفاوضات الملف النووي الإيراني في فيينا، تتحدث المعلومات عن زيارات قريبة لوزير الخارجية مولود جاويش أوغلو إلى القاهرة والرياض والمنامة و”تل أبيب”. وقد تلحق بها زيارة الرئيس الإسرائيلي إسحاق هرتسوغ (بوساطة أذربيجانية وأوكرانية أيضاً) إلى أنقرة قريباً، في الوقت الذي يستمر الغموض حول موقف القاهرة، التي يبدو أنها لن تستعجل المصالحة مع أنقرة حتى تضمن موقفاً عملياً ونهائياً من الرئيس إردوغان ضد الإخوان المسلمين مصرياً وعربياً، وهو الطلب الذي قد يوافق على شقه المصري (بل والإسرائيلي في ما يتعلق بحركة “حماس”)، ويؤجل شقه العربي، وخصوصاً الليبي والسوري، وذلك مع استمرار المساومات الإقليمية والدولية في هذين الملفين، ومنها الزيارة التي سيقوم بها الرئيس إيمانويل ماكرون (3-4 كانون الأول/ديسمبر) لكلٍّ من قطر والإمارات والسعودية، أعداء الأمس وحلفاء اليوم في المسرحية الأميركية التي ما زالت سوريا هدفها الرئيسي، ومعها إيران والعراق ولبنان واليمن.

ويفسّر ذلك التّصعيد السّعودي – الإماراتي في اليمن، واستمرار التآمر السعودي ضد لبنان، والتمادي المغربي (الملك وحاشيته) في التحالف مع “إسرائيل” ضد الجزائر (لعرقلة القمة العربية وإفشالها) والشمال الأفريقي عموماً، وأخيراً استمرار الموقف التركي والأميركي في سوريا.

وتمنع واشنطن حلفاءها الكرد من أيّ اتفاق مع دمشق، لتستمر في مشاريعها السرية والعلنية مع أطراف مختلفة في العراق، لضمان مصالحها في المنطقة عموماً، في الوقت الذي يبقى الموقف التركي في سوريا العنصر الأهم والأكثر تأثيراً في مجمل تطورات الأخيرة، بانعكاساتها على مجمل المشاريع والمخططات الإقليمية والدولية (استفزازات الغرب ضد روسيا في أوكرانيا)، وهو الحساب الذي يجعل الرئيس إردوغان طرفاً أساسياً في “صفقة القرن” بصيغتها المحدثة، التي تريد لها واشنطن، ومعها باريس ولندن، وحتى برلين، بحكومتها الجديدة (زعيمة حزب الخضر ووزيرة الخارجية أنالينا بيربوك صديقة لـ”إسرائيل” وعدوة لروسيا والصين)، أن تنجح في ترتيب أمور المنطقة، مع ضمان مستقبل “إسرائيل” الصهيونية إلى الأبد. 

وسيتطلَّب ذلك إضعاف الموقف العربي أكثر مما هو عليه الآن، من خلال نسف مفهوم المقاومة بكلِّ أشكالها ومضامينها العسكرية والسياسية والاجتماعية والثقافية والإنسانية، وهي التي نجحت حتى الآن في عرقلة كل المشاريع والمخططات الإمبريالية والاستعمارية بأدواتها العربية والإسلامية. 

وكالعادة، يبقى الرهان على موقف الرئيس إردوغان حيال كلّ هذه المعطيات واحتمالاتها المستقبلية التي يريد لها أن تدعم موقفه في سوريا ما دامت الأطراف العربية والغربية لا تريد لها حلاً قريباً، فإردوغان الّذي تخلّى عن كل مقولاته وسياسته السابقة، وصالح الإمارات، وأعلن استعداده للمصالحة مع “العدوين اللدودين” مصر (السيسي) و”إسرائيل”، يعرف الجميع أنه لن يصالح الرئيس الأسد ما دام يعرف أن الأنظمة العربية والغربية لن تجبره على ذلك أبداً.

كما أنه يعرف أنَّ المصالحة مع الأسد لن تكون سهلة بالنسبة إليه شخصياً، ما دام يعتقد أن مثل هذه المصالحة ستعني هزيمة مشروعه الإخواني الإقليمي والدولي نهائياً، فالمصالحة مع الرئيس الأسد ستتطلَّب منه سحب القوات والسلطات التركية من المناطق التي تسيطر عليها (حوالى 9% من مساحة سوريا) في الشمال السوري، وإيقاف كل أنواع الدعم العسكري والمالي لعشرات الآلاف من مسلحي الفصائل المعارضة (تأتمر بأوامر الجيش التركي) التي تقاتل الدولة السورية، والكفّ عن حماية إدلب ومن فيها من “النصرة” وأمثالها، وأخيراً إعادة اللاجئين السوريين من تركيا إلى بلادهم، في إطار خطة يتم الاتفاق عليها مع دمشق. هذا بالطبع مع التنسيق والتعاون معها لمعالجة الوضع شرق الفرات، حيث الميليشيات الكردية التي تعتبرها أنقرة الفرع السوري لحزب العمال الكردستاني التركي الذي يقاتل الدولة التركية منذ 40 عاماً. 

وتتطلّب مثل هذه الاحتمالات أكثر من معجزة بالنسبة إلى الرئيس إردوغان حتى يتصل بالرئيس الأسد أو يلتقيه، وهو الذي كان صديقه الوحيد عندما كان الجميع ضده بسبب أصوله الإخوانية السابقة، فالانسحاب التركي من سوريا بكل عناصره السرية والعلنية سيعني في الوقت نفسه انسحابه من ليبيا والعراق، وتخليه عن مشاريعه العقائدية، ليس في المنطقة فحسب، بل في العالم أجمع أيضاً.

هذا الاحتمال ضعيف جداً بنسبة 1 على 10، إن لم نقل 1 على 100، نظراً إلى علاقة أنقرة المتشابكة والمعقدة خارجياً والأكثر تعقيداً في الداخل، وخصوصاً بعد أن أصبح الحاكم المطلق للبلاد بعد تغيير الدستور في نيسان/أبريل 2017، فهو يرى في تفاصيل سياساته العقائدية والقومية الخارجية عناصر مهمة للتأثير في أنصاره وأتباعه، لضمان استمرارية دعمهم له، على الرغم من كوارث الأزمات الاقتصادية والمالية الخطرة، وأهم أسبابها تكاليف السياسة الخارجية، وإلا فالموضوع لا يحتاج إلى مثل هذا المد والجزر في مواقف إردوغان الذي يستطيع أن يعود بتركيا إلى ما قبل العام 2011 باتصال هاتفي واحد مع الرئيس الأسد، ومن دون اللجوء إلى أي وساطة خليجية أو روسية أو إيرانية، فمن يصالح السيسي (قال عنه إنه مجرم)، و”إسرائيل” (وصفها أكثر من مرة بأنها عصابة إجرامية)، ويسعى للمصالحة مع ابن سلمان بعد أن قال عنه ما قال (بعد مقتل جمال خاشقجي)، يستطيع أن يصالح صديقه السابق الأسد بكل بساطة، وخصوصاً أنَّ سوريا لم تقم بأي عمل معادٍ ضد تركيا، على الرغم من كل ما فعلته أنقرة بها خلال السنوات العشر الماضية.

يأتي ذلك في الوقت الذي يعرف الجميع أن المصالحة مع سوريا ستفتح له أبواب المنطقة من جديد، ما دام سيعود صديقاً لـ”إسرائيل” (ليكسب ود اللوبيات اليهودية، ويبعد “إسرائيل” عن قبرص واليونان وفرنسا)، ويضمن دعم أنظمة الخليج له مادياً، ليساعده ذلك على تحقيق مكاسب اقتصادية ضخمة من مشاريع التنمية وإعادة الإعمار في سوريا والعراق وليبيا واليمن ولبنان وباقي دول المنطقة، وتركيا هي الأكثر حظاً فيها، بسبب إمكانياتها وقربها منها، وهو ما يحتاج إلى مرحلة جديدة من المصالحة والمسامحة بين إردوغان وكل زعماء المنطقة، وعودة التنسيق والتعاون في ما بينهم لن تعني أي شيء ما لم تبدأ بالرئيس الأسد. هذا بالطبع إن لم يكن التنسيق والتعاون الجديد لا يهدف إلى ربيع دموي آخر يستهدف سوريا، كما هو الحال منذ 10 سنوات، وإلا كيف تتحول “إسرائيل” إلى صديق لإردوغان، ويبقى الأسد أكثر من عدو!

Did French President Macron’s Gulf Tour Complicate US Regional Policy?

9 DECEMBER 2021

These three outcomes could complicate the US’ regional policy and possibly even be interpreted as an asymmetrical form of revenge for stealing France’s historically unprecedented nuclear sub deal with Australia.

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Gulf countries of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia last weekend during a two-day trip. His regional tour resulted in several significant outcomes. The first is that Paris and Abu Dhabi clinched a €16 billion deal for 80 upgraded Rafale warplanes and 12 Airbus combat helicopters, which is France’s largest arms agreement to date. It comes a few months after the US and UK poached France’s €31 billion nuclear sub deal with Australia.

Second, Macron announced while in Doha that some EU countries were considering opening up a joint diplomatic mission in Kabul to liaise with the de facto Taliban-ruled government there. He noted, however, that this wouldn’t imply formal recognition of their authority. It should be remembered that the Qatari capital was the scene of peace talks between the US and the Taliban. It’s also where many foreign diplomats informally interact with the Taliban since the group has a political office there.

And finally, the French President held a joint phone call while in Riyadh between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati aimed at soothing over their recent differences. Another crisis between the two unexpectedly exploded after the Lebanese Information Minister (who resigned on Friday) earlier criticized the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Macron therefore showed that France is still crucial to managing disputes in its former Levantine colony.

These three outcomes could complicate the US’ regional policy and possibly even be interpreted as an asymmetrical form of revenge for stealing France’s historically unprecedented nuclear sub deal with Australia. To explain, despite a recent improvement in Emirati-Iranian relations, the former still remains suspicious of the latter’s alleged nuclear intentions and is skeptical of the US-led efforts to renegotiate the nuclear deal. France’s arming of the UAE is meant to maintain a regional military-strategic balance.

Regarding the second outcome, the US has pressured his partners to keep their distance from the Taliban until it capitulates to America’s pressure to unilaterally make far-reaching socio-political reforms. Macron’s pragmatic defiance of this demand is aimed at managing that war-torn country’s impending humanitarian crisis. It shows that France is behaving in an increasingly independent way, almost intentionally doing the opposite of what the US says in order to show its anger at AUKUS.

As for the last of Macron’s achievements, he’s signaling that France will compete to fill the diplomatic-strategic void left in the Levantine-Gulf regions following the US’ gradual disengagement from there as it pivots towards attempting to “contain” China in the Asia-Pacific. The US’ traditional partners like Saudi Arabia increasingly distrust it for that reason as well as its ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. France therefore cleverly realized that it might be able to replace the US’ dwindling influence.

All of this complicates US policy. The declining unipolar hegemon no longer dominates the West Asian region in which it had previously exerted its dominance. Its flip-flopping policy there across the last three administrations (Obama-Trump-Biden) has concerned its traditional allies. America is no longer regarded as a reliable partner, but as a self-interested actor aiming solely to advance its short-term strategic interests. France is furious after AUKUS and actively competing to replace US influence there.

Its arming of the UAE is especially significant given the US’ prior claims of war crimes being committed by all sides of the Yemen War in which Abu Dhabi used to play a leading role. Washington has also recently criticized Riyadh for its alleged human rights violations, which would have been unthinkable under the prior administration. France, having recently been on the receiving end of the US’ selfish policies, is likely viewed as a sympathetic balancing force by the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

As French influence in West Asia rises in parallel with American influence’s decline there, Washington will have to learn to appreciate Paris and its traditional regional partners instead of taking them for granted. Its crazed quest to “contain” China at all costs has dealt enormous self-inflicted damage to US strategy in Europe (France) and West Asia (UAE, Saudi Arabia). The voids that it’s leaving in those parts of Eurasia are being filled by France and others, with unclear long-term strategic implications.

All that can be known for sure at this time is that American policy in those strategic spaces is being complicated by a combination of the self-inflicted damage that its “Pivot to Asia” has dealt and the geopolitical opportunism of France and others. New regional orders have a credible chance of emerging, with the end result being that multipolar processes there will accelerate. This will further erode America’s declining influence in Europe and West Asia, possibly opening up new opportunities for all.

Erdogan and Macron, between Competition and Hostility, there’s One Understanding! إردوغان وماكرون.. بين المنافسة والعداء تفاهم واحد!

ARABI SOURI 

Erdogan and Macron, between Competition and Hostility, there’s One Understanding!

France Macron and Turkey Erdogan

Macron’s visit to the region comes to obstruct what Erdogan is striving for regionally and internationally.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

A week after the visit of the “biggest enemy” Mohammed bin Zayed to Ankara and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s talk of his desire to achieve similar reconciliations with Egypt, “Israel”, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, French President Emmanuel Macron came to the region to obstruct what Erdogan is striving for, regionally and internationally.

Abu Dhabi was Macron’s main station, where he persuaded bin Zayed to buy 80 Rafale planes and 12 helicopters, and he agreed with him to coordinate and joint cooperation on all the issues discussed. This is what Macron reached during his talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after winning his affection, because he is the first Western president to visit Saudi Arabia after the crime that targeted Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, which everyone blamed bin Salman for it. The duo’s contact with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati was the first fruit of this coordination and cooperation, and it was translated into practice through Saudi-French projects and plans backed by the United States, which will target Hezb Allah and through it Syria and then Iran.

As for Qatar (Erdogan will visit it on Sunday), which is Macron’s third station, Prince Tamim welcomed him warmly, perhaps as a response to the hospitality with which his ally Erdogan received his enemy Mohammed bin Zayed in Ankara, especially since Macron’s visit came two days after the agreement signed by Cyprus with Qatar National Petroleum Company and the American ExxonMobil Company for gas exploration in the vicinity of the island, this was strongly denounced by Ankara and pushed Erdogan to visit Doha (Sunday), especially since this signing came on the day the Turkish Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee ratified an agreement with Doha under which Ankara would allow 36 Qatari warplanes to come and stay in Turkish bases and fly in the Turkish air, in conjunction with the visit of Pope Francis to Cyprus and Greece.

This is in the narrow context of the competition between Erdogan and Macron, and it seems clear that it has acquired the character of direct hostility over the past few years. This explains the violent attack which was launched and is being launched by President Erdogan from time to time on Macron personally, and the latter responds to him with two strikes, without preventing them from reconciliation and warm hugs on various occasions, the most recent of which was the G20 summit in Rome at the end of last October, at a time when Paris was confronting President Erdogan’s plans and projects in many arenas, the most important of which are Libya, Somalia, and Karabakh, and after Ankara mobilized all its capabilities to compete, if not confront, the traditional French role in its former African colonies that Erdogan visits from time to time, and hosts their leaders In Turkey constantly, and without Erdogan neglecting the interest in the Turkish community in France, which numbers about 600,000, in an attempt to incite it and incite the Arab Islamists (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) and those residing in France and Europe in general against Macron.

The latter had previously accused the Turkish intelligence of adopting sabotage acts in his country and Europe in general, at a time when many see the position of Paris, which recognized the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians in 1915 and President Macron (in February 2019) announced the 24th of April of each year a day of national mourning in remembrance of this genocide, as one of the main causes of hostility between the two sides. While recalling the other reason, which has historical roots, as France and Britain occupied the land of Anatolia after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. France and Britain were a major party to the Sèvres Agreement (August 1920) and its goal was to establish a Kurdish state in the region.

With Ataturk’s rejection of this agreement and its failure after the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, and Paris’s efforts to win Ankara’s friendship again, and through cooperation with it in the issue of the Alexandretta Strip (Liwa Iskandaron 1938 – 1939), the French interest in the Kurds remained one of the most important causes of apathy and tension between the two parties and still is. Paris has supported and continues to support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, directly or indirectly, which is what it is doing with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Syria. Macron (last July) and Hollande (February 2015) received some of its military and political leaders at the Elysee.

As for the traditional support of France (along with the UAE, Egypt, “Israel” and sometimes Saudi Arabia) for Greece and the Greek Cypriots, it was also and still is one of the most important causes of apathy and tension between Ankara and Paris which is in solidarity with Nicosia and Athens in their differences with Ankara on many issues, The most important of these are the problems of territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, and the search and exploration for gas in the vicinity of Cyprus, which Ankara, on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots, objects to, and refuses to talk about the Armenian genocide.

While awaiting the results of the eighth round of the Iranian nuclear talks (and the visit of Faisal Miqdad and Tahnoon bin Zayed to Tehran on Sunday and Monday) and most importantly, the meeting of Presidents Biden and Putin (December 7), President Macron will continue his regional moves that he wants to achieve for Paris political, military, and economic gains on the eve of the upcoming presidential elections, and after he lost the submarine deal with Australia, with Britain and America plotting against him. The timing of these elections acquires another meaning for Turkey because its second round will be on April 24, the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Macron seeks to get out of these elections victorious, after achieving his goals in Lebanon in coordination with Riyadh which Mohammed bin Salman wants to return to a major party in the region’s equations in the face of other parties who took advantage of Saudi Arabia’s isolation after the Khashoggi’s crime and wanted to convince Washington that they are the most important. This explains the alliance of the Emirates and Qatar separately with Egypt and Turkey, the two regionally important and historically competing countries and ideological enemies who indirectly agree to confront the Iranian role in the region in general.

It also explains the alliance of everyone against Damascus at the beginning of the crisis in 2012 when Paris, London, Berlin, and Washington were in constant contact with Ankara to get rid of President Assad, and Erdogan predicted his downfall within months, saying in September 2012 that he would pray soon in the Umayyad Mosque. The calculations of everyone, led by Turkey and France, met in Syria and through it in Lebanon as if they were and are still saying all, including Macron and Erdogan, “My brother and I are against my cousin, and my cousin and I are against the stranger,” but without it being clear who the brother is and who the cousin is, and why ‘Lebanon the Resistance’ is the strange thing in the play of the West, in which everyone has his role according to the place and time determined by the author of the saying “I” who does not want anyone else to say “Me too”!

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إردوغان وماكرون.. بين المنافسة والعداء تفاهم واحد!

كانون الأول 5 2021

في انتظار مكالمة بايدن.. كيف يستعدّ إردوغان؟ | الصحيفة السياسية

المصدر: الميادين نت

حسني محلي

زيارة ماكرون إلى المنطقة تأتي لعرقلة ما يسعى من أجله إردوغان إقليمياً ودولياً. 

سبق لماكرون أن اتهم الاستخبارات التركية بتبنّي أعمال تخريبية في بلاده.

بعد أسبوع من زيارة “العدو الأكبر” محمد بن زايد لأنقرة وحديث الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان عن رغبته في تحقيق مصالحات مماثلة مع مصر و”إسرائيل” والسعودية والبحرين، جاء الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون إلى المنطقة ليعرقل ما يسعى من أجله إردوغان إقليمياً ودولياً. 

كانت أبو ظبي محطة ماكرون الرئيسية، حيث أقنع ابن زايد بشراء 80 طائرة رافال و12 مروحية، واتفق وإياه على التنسيق والتعاون المشترك حول مجمل القضايا التي تمت مناقشتها. وهو ما توصّل إليه ماكرون خلال مباحثاته مع ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان، بعد أن كسب ودّه، لأنه أول رئيس غربي يزور السعودية بعد الجريمة التي استهدفت جمال خاشقجي في القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول في تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2018 وحمّل الجميع ابن سلمان مسؤوليتها. وكان اتصال الثنائي برئيس الوزراء اللبناني نجيب ميقاتي أولى ثمار هذا التنسيق والتعاون، وتمّت ترجمته عملياً عبر المشاريع والمخططات السعودية-الفرنسية المدعومة أميركياً، والتي ستستهدف حزب الله وعبرها سوريا ثم إيران.

وأما في قطر (يزورها إردوغان غداً الاثنين) وهي محطة ماكرون الثالثة، فقد رحّب الأمير تميم به ترحيباً حاراً، وربما كردّ على الحفاوة التي استقبل بها حليفه إردوغان عدوّه محمد بن زايد في أنقرة، وخاصة أن زيارة ماكرون جاءت بعد يومين من الاتفاقية التي وقّعتها قبرص مع الشركة الوطنية للبترول القطرية وشركة أكسون موبيل الأميركية للبحث والتنقيب عن الغاز في جوار الجزيرة، وهو ما استنكرته أنقرة بشدة ودفعت إردوغان إلى زيارة الدوحة (الأحد)، وخاصة أن هذا التوقيع جاء في اليوم الذي صادقت فيه لجنة العلاقات الخارجية في البرلمان التركي على اتفاقية مع الدوحة تسمح بموجبها أنقرة لـ 36 طائرة حربية قطرية بالمجيء والبقاء في القواعد التركية والتحليق في الأجواء التركية، بالتزامن مع زيارة بابا الفاتيكان فرنسيس لقبرص واليونان.

هذا في الإطار الضيّق من المنافسة بين إردوغان وماكرون، ويبدو واضحاً أنها قد اكتسبت طابع العداء المباشر خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية. ويفسّر ذلك الهجوم العنيف الذي شنّه ويشنّه الرئيس إردوغان بين الحين والحين على ماكرون شخصياً، فيردّ عليه الثاني الصاع صاعين، ومن دون أن يمنعهما ذلك من المصالحة والعناق الحار في المناسبات المختلفة، وآخرها قمة العشرين في روما نهاية تشرين الأول/أكتوبر الماضي، في الوقت الذي كانت فيه باريس تتصدى لمخططات الرئيس إردوغان ومشاريعه في العديد من الساحات، وأهمها ليبيا والصومال وكاراباخ، وبعد أن استنفرت أنقرة كل إمكانياتها لمنافسة، إن لم نقل مواجهة، الدور الفرنسي التقليدي في مستعمراتها الأفريقية السابقة التي يزورها إردوغان بين الحين والحين، ويستضيف زعماءها في تركيا باستمرار، ومن دون أن يهمل إردوغان الاهتمام بالجالية التركية في فرنسا وقوامها نحو 600 ألف، في محاولة منه لتحريضها وتحريض الإسلاميين العرب (المغرب والجزائر وتونس) والمقيمين في فرنسا وأوروبا عموماً ضد ماكرون.

 وسبق للأخير أن اتهم الاستخبارات التركية بتبنّي أعمال تخريبية في بلاده وأوروبا عموماً، في الوقت الذي يرى فيه الكثيرون في موقف باريس، التي اعترفت بالإبادة العثمانية ضد الأرمن عام  1915 وإعلان الرئيس ماكرون (في شباط/فبراير 2019) 24 نيسان/أبريل من كل عام، يوم حداد وطني إحياءً لذكرى هذه الإبادة، من أهم أسباب العداء بين الطرفين. مع التذكير بالسبب الآخر، وهو ذو جذور تاريخية، حيث كانت فرنسا ومعها بريطانيا تحتلان أرض الأناضول بعد سقوط الدولة العثمانية 1918. كما كانت فرنسا ومعها بريطانيا طرفاً أساسياً في اتفاقية سيفر (آب/أغسطس 1920) وهدفها إقامة دولة كردية في المنطقة. 

ومع تصدّي أتاتورك لهذه الاتفاقية وإفشالها بعد قيام الجمهورية التركية عام 1923 ومساعي باريس لكسب ودّ أنقرة من جديد، ومن خلال التعاون معها في قضية لواء اسكندرون (1938 – 1939) فقد بقي الاهتمام الفرنسي بالكرد من أهم أسباب الفتور والتوتر بين الطرفين وما زال. فقد دعمت باريس وما زالت تدعم حزب العمال الكردستاني بنحو مباشر أو غير مباشر، وهو ما تفعله مع وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية في سوريا، واستقبل ماكرون (تموز/يوليو الماضي) ومن قبله هولاند (شباط/فبراير 2015) البعض من قياداتها العسكرية والسياسية في الإليزيه. 

وأما دعم فرنسا (ومعها الإمارات ومصر و”إسرائيل” وأحيانا السعودية) التقليدي لليونان والقبارصة اليونانيين، فقد كان هو الآخر وما زال من أهم أسباب الفتور والتوتر بين أنقرة وباريس التي تتضامن مع نيقوسيا وأثينا في خلافاتهما مع أنقرة حول العديد من القضايا، وأهمها مشاكل المياه الإقليمية في بحر إيجة، والبحث والتنقيب عن الغاز في جوار قبرص، وهو ما تعترض عليه أنقرة، وباسم القبارصة الأتراك، كما ترفض الحديث عن إبادة الأرمن. 

ومع انتظار نتائج الجولة الثامنة من مباحثات النووي الإيراني (وزيارة فيصل المقداد وطحنون بن زايد لطهران الأحد والإثنين) والأهم من ذلك، لقاء الرئيسين بايدن وبوتين (7 كانون الأول/ديسمبر) سيستمر الرئيس ماكرون في تحركاته الإقليمية التي يريد لها أن تحقق لباريس مكاسب سياسية وعسكرية واقتصادية، عشيّة انتخابات الرئاسة المقبلة، وبعد أن خسر صفقة الغواصات مع أستراليا بتآمر من بريطانيا وأميركا ضده. ويكتسب التوقيت الزمني لهذه الانتخابات معنى آخر بالنسبة إلى تركيا، لأن جولتها الثانية ستكون في 24 نيسان/أبريل، ذكرى الإبادة الأرمنية.

ويسعى ماكرون للخروج من هذه الانتخابات منتصراً، بعد أن يحقق أهدافه في لبنان بالتنسيق مع الرياض، التي يريد لها محمد بن سلمان أن تعود طرفاً رئيسياً في معادلات المنطقة، في مواجهة الأطراف الآخرين الذين استغلوا عزلة السعودية بعد جريمة خاشقجي، وأرادوا أن يقنعوا واشنطن بأنهم الأهم. ويفسّر ذلك تحالف الإمارات وقطر على حدة مع مصر وتركيا الدولتين المهمتين إقليميا والمتنافستين تاريخياً والعدوتين عقائدياً والمتفقتين بنحو غير مباشر على مواجهة الدور الإيراني في المنطقة عموماً.

ويفسّر أيضاً تحالف الجميع ضد دمشق في بداية الأزمة عام 2012 عندما كانت باريس ولندن وبرلين وواشنطن على اتصال دائم مع أنقرة للتخلص من الرئيس الأسد، وتوقّع إردوغان سقوطه خلال أشهر، ليقول في أيلول/سبتمبر 2012 “إنه سيصلّي قريباً في الجامع الأموي”. فالتقت حسابات الجميع، وفي مقدمتهم تركيا وفرنسا، في سوريا وعبرها في لبنان، وكأنهم كانوا وما زالوا يقولون جميعاً، بمن فيهم ماكرون وإردوغان، “أنا وأخي على ابن عمي وأنا وابن عمي عالغريب”، ولكن من دون أن يكون واضحاً من هو الأخ ومن هو ابن العم، ولماذا لبنان المقاومة هو الغريب في مسرحية الغرب التي لكلٍ فيها دوره بحسب المكان والزمان اللذين يحدّدهما صاحب مقولة “أنا” ولا يريد لأحد غيره أن يقول “وأنا أيضاً”! 

Bin Zayed’s Adviser: Gaza’s Suffering Is Due to Hamas, not “Israel”!

August 12 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen

Senior Adviser to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi proclaims that Gazans suffer because of “Hamas” rather than “Israel,” expressing concern over Iran’s power.

Adviser to UAE Prince: Hamas Occupies Gaza, not
Ali Al Nuaimi, Senior Adviser to the prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammad Bin Zayed

In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, Ali Al-Nuaimi, senior adviser to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed, denounced the Palestinian resistance in Gaza.

During an interview with “Israel Today“, Nuaimi expressed that “One of the biggest errors in this narrative, which I saw repeated over and over in the media, was the way they speak about [the] Gaza [Strip] as if it’s occupied by the Israelis. It’s not: It’s controlled by Hamas.”

“It is time to liberate Gaza, which was hijacked by Hamas to serve Iranian goals,” Al-Nuaimi said in an interview marking the one-year anniversary of the normalization of Emirati-Israeli relations, adding that “the Palestinian people in Gaza are suffering because of Hamas, not because of the Israelis.”

He discussed the international sentiment surrounding the crimes of the Israeli occupation during  Seif Al Quds battle, which sparked worldwide outrage, with thousands demonstrating on the ground and using electronic campaigns on social media, stating that “We also have to fight the war of propaganda – one that the Israelis lost in this last round of fighting between Israel and Hamas. I saw narratives coming from not only the Middle East but the West too, which represented a shift.”

After questioning him on the harsh criticism directed at “Israel” on social media in the Emirates, Al-Nuaimi stressed that “many of us condemned Hamas”, justifying “in Israel, too, there were people who opposed the war, so that is not an indication, but rather says what some of the people in the Emirates think. It’s hard to overcome history, but we want to open people’s eyes and show them things they haven’t seen over the last 40 or 50 years.”

The Israeli publication expressed admiration for Al-Nuaimi’s responses, commenting that “these brave responses were given by a senior official in an Arab country.”

Ariel Kahana, the journalist who conducted the interview, divulged that he previously met Al-Nuaimi a year ago, as Kahana was one of the Israeli journalists accompanying the first Israeli delegations to the UAE on August 31, two weeks after former US President Donald Trump announced the UAE-“Israel” agreement to establish relations.

Al-Nuaimi: Iran wants to be a world power

Answering the question of how to treat Iran, the adviser responded by expressing concern that the international community does not speak in “one voice on Iran”, detailing that “when we speak with our European friends about the invasiveness and aggression of Iran in Arab states, we hear that they ‘understand our concerns.’ But we don’t need someone to understand our concerns, rather we need someone to act according to international law and respond to those violating other countries’ sovereignty.”

Concerning the UAE’S opinion of the US and Iran returning to a nuclear agreement, Al-Nuaimi expressed that returning to the nuclear agreement as it used to be would not solve the problems, accusing Iran that it “never honored the agreement or the commitments, in any respect.”

Al Nuaimi: There is no “going back” on UAE-Israeli relations

Bin Zayed’s adviser remarked of his country’s connection with the Israeli occupation, “the ties being forged between us are not political or just between governments. These are comprehensive ties in every respect. This is a normal relationship that is growing. “

“There is discussion and dialogue, and I know the media will paint it as a crisis. But it isn’t,” he said of the UAE’S position on Israel’s revision of the gas transfer arrangement from the Emirates to Europe via “Israel”. 

He reassured the journalist that “a disagreement on one issue will degrade ties. This is not the case.”

هُيام «الضعفاء» بالنموذج الإسرائيليّ

الجمعة 30 تموز 2021

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لا تقيم إسرائيل اعتباراً فعلياً للدول الأعضاء في «نادي معجبيها»، مثل فرنسا (أ ف ب )

تأتي زيارة وزير الأمن الصهيوني، بيني غانتس، واجتماعه مع نظيرته الفرنسية فلورانس بارلي، ضمن مساعي حكومة الاحتلال إلى احتواء التداعيات السلبية لفضيحة برنامج «بيغاسوس» الذي أنتجته شركة «إن إس أو» الإسرائيلية، والذي استُخدم من قِبَل المغرب للتجسّس على هاتف الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون، ورئيس وزرائه السابق إدوارد فيليب، و15 وزيراً ونائباً ومسؤولاً سياسيّاً. البيان الصادر عن وزارة الدفاع الفرنسية بعد الاجتماع، يشي برغبة في تجاوز التداعيات السلبية المذكورة، إذ يشدّد على ضرورة تقديم إسرائيل «التوضيحات التي تطلبها فرنسا، والأساسية بالنسبة إلى الثقة والاحترام المتبادل بين البلدين»، وإطلاع المسؤولين في هذا البلد «على مدى معرفة الحكومة الإسرائيلية بأنشطة زبائن إن إس أو». الارتباط العضوي بين الشركة المشار إليها والأجهزة الأمنية والعسكرية الصهيونية، لم يكن خافياً على العديد من الخبراء والصحافيين الفرنسيين، في السنوات الماضية، أي قبل «الفضيحة» الأخيرة. فهذا لوي إمبير في «لوموند»، يشير في مقالة بعنوان «برنامج بيغاسوس: مجموعة إن إس أو في قلب القوة الناعمة الإسرائيلية»، إلى أن «الشركة المنتِجة للبرنامج والحكومة الإسرائيلية تعملان يداً بيد لبناء تحالفات جديدة، وخدمة مصالحهما على المستوى الدولي». لم تكن الأجهزة الأمنية الفرنسية غافلة عن هذه الحقيقة، وطلب «توضيحات» من قِبَل رسميين فرنسيين يعكس حرصاً على الحفاظ على التعاون المتعاظم في الميادين التكنولوجية والأمنية مع الكيان الصهيوني، باعتباره مصدر إلهام في كيفية خوض «الحروب الجديدة»، الموجّهة أساساً ضدّ السكان والحركات الشعبية، نتيجة لخبراته المتراكمة في هذا المضمار في فلسطين المحتلّة ولبنان. هو «نموذج» يُحتذى بنظر قطاعات وازنة من النُّخب السياسية الفرنسية والغربية، وكذلك بالنسبة إلى زبائنه التقليديين من أنظمة فاسدة ومستبدّة في جنوب العالم، ومنه العالم العربي. لكن، وفي مقابل هذا الحرص على العلاقات مع «الدولة – النموذج»، فإن اللافت هو أن الأخيرة لا تقيم اعتباراً فعلياً للدول الأعضاء في «نادي معجبيها»، باستثناء الولايات المتحدة وروسيا والصين، كونها دولاً قادرة على ردّ الصاع صاعين في حال تجرّأت إسرائيل على استخدام منتجاتها التكنولوجية للتجسّس عليها.


حبٌّ من طرفٍ واحد


قيام إسرائيل ببيع برنامج «بيغاسوس» للمغرب لكي يستخدمه الأخير للتجسّس على المسؤولين الفرنسيين، يُعدّ تطوّراً يستحقّ التأمّل فيه، لأنه يكشف تحوّلاً في طبيعة التحالفات التي تنسجها تل أبيب وفي نظرتها الفعلية لِمَن تعتبرهم حلفاء من «الدرجة الثانية». محاولات إسرائيل للتجسّس حتى على أهمّ حلفائها، ليس بالأمر الجديد. جميعنا يذكر قضيّة الأميركي جوناثان بولارد الذي اعتُقل سنة 1985 بتهمة التجسّس على بلاده لحسابها. الجديد هو بيعها برامج تجسّس لدول أخرى تعمل على تطوير علاقاتها معها، كالمغرب مثلاً، دون التأكُّد من عدم استخدامها ضدّ حلفاء آخرين، كفرنسا مثلاً. يعزو فردريك مورو، الخبير الفرنسي في شؤون الدفاع، في مقابلة مع «لوموند»، عدم اكتراث إسرائيل لردّ الفعل الفرنسي أو الأوروبي تجاهها، إلى قناعتها بأنه سيكون في غاية الضعف. ولا شكّ في أن هذا الرأي يتضمّن الكثير من الوجاهة لأن التحوّلات البنيوية، السياسية والاجتماعية، التي شهدها الكيان الصهيوني في العقود الماضية، وطغيان التيارات الفاشية القومية والدينية على المشهد السياسي فيه، كان لها أيضاً أثر كبير على الفهم السائد للوضع الدولي وللتحالفات. العالم من منظور هذه القوى، بات غائباً أكثر من أيّ حقبة سابقة، وموازين القوى الفجّة هي التي تحكم تعامل أطرافه بعضها مع بعض، صراعاً وتقاطعاً وتحالفاً. إسرائيل لا تحترم إلّا الأقوياء، وهم في حالتنا الولايات المتحدة وروسيا والصين، وتتجنّب استفزازهم. أمّا الآخرون، فهي تتعاطى معهم، وكما أظهرت «الفضيحة»، وفقاً لأولوياتها الظرفيّة.

لم تَعُد قوّة إسرائيل «الناعمة» تستند إلى ادّعاءاتها بكونها «واحة ديمقراطية» في محيط من البرابرة

وما فعلته مع فرنسا، لن تتردّد في تكراره في المستقبل مع دول كالمغرب والإمارات والسعودية إذا اقتضت مصالحها المتغيّرة ذلك. لا تحالفات ثابتة، أو على الأقلّ تجنّباً للتأزيم، إلّا مع الأقوياء. هي لم تراعِ الاندفاعة الفرنسية غير المسبوقة حيالها في السنوات الماضية، والتي فصّلها الباحث والصحافي الفرنسي، جان ستيرن، في سلسلة مقالات على موقع «شرق 21» عن اللوبي الإسرائيلي في بلاده. فشركة «إلبيت» الإسرائيلية تساهم في إنتاج نظام «العقرب»، وهو في قلب استراتيجية القوات البرية الفرنسية في العقود القادمة، و»يسمح بتطوير قيادة رقمية واحدة تعتمد على وصلة مشتركة تسمح للجنود المنتشرين في الميدان وكذلك للأدوات العسكرية الجديدة، مثل الطائرات من دون طيار والروبوتات، بأن تكون متّصلة في وقت واحد لتستبق بالتالي ردود فعل العدو». أمّا الشركات الفرنسية العاملة في حقل التكنولوجيا الرقمية، فـ»جميعها تريد الموساد عندها»، بحسب العنوان الحرفي لإحدى مقالاته في السلسلة المشار إليها آنفاً، والتي يتحدّث فيها عن مدى إعجاب الشركات الخاصّة وصناعات الدفاع الفرنسية، بإنجازاته في المجالات التكنولوجية، خاصّة برنامج «بيغاسوس». وهذه المقالة نُشرت في 26 نيسان الماضي، أي قبل «الفضيحة»، ما يضعنا أمام هُيام من طرف واحد يقابله عدم اكتراث، إن لم يكن ازدراء من الطرف الآخر.



جاذبية نموذج السيطرة والتنكيل والقتل


لم تَعُد قوّة إسرائيل «الناعمة»، أي جاذبيتها، تستند إلى ادّعاءاتها بكونها «واحة ديمقراطية» في محيط من البرابرة و/أو الأنظمة المستبدة. فقدت هذه السردية الحدود الدنيا من الصدقيّة على نطاق الكوكب. جاذبيتها اليوم تستند إلى خبراتها ومعارفها في ميدان القوّة الخشنة، والتي اكتسبتها من خلال حربها المستمرّة على الشعب الفلسطيني وشعوب المنطقة وقواها المقاومة. وحتى كاتب صهيوني «معتدل» كيوفال هراري يعترف بذلك في مقالة كتبها بعنوان: «سنستطيع قرصنة البشر قريباً»، يعتبر فيها أن «الضفة المحتلّة هي حقل تجارب بالنسبة إلى الإسرائيليين حول كيفية بناء ديكتاتورية رقميّة. كيف نستطيع التحكُّم بـ2,5 مليون من السكان عبر استخدام الذكاء الاصطناعي والبيغ داتا والطائرات المسيّرة والكاميرات؟ إسرائيل رائدة في مجال الرقابة والسيطرة: تقوم باختبارات ميدانية، ومن ثم تصدّرها نحو بقية العالم». وعلى الغالب، فإن هذه الخبرات وما تتيحه من قدرات أمنية وعسكرية وتكنولوجية، لأطراف تعتبر الشعوب أو قطاعات معتبرة منها، مصدراً رئيساً للتهديد، هي بين أبرز الاعتبارات التي تُفسّر هيامها بالنموذج الإسرائيلي.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE: When crown princes fall out

Andreas Krieg

6 July 2021 

Dr. Andreas Krieg is an assistant professor at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London and a strategic risk consultant working for governmental and commercial clients in the Middle East. He recently published a book called ‘Socio-political order and security in the Arab World’.

The growing divergence of interests between the two neighbours has created serious cracks in the thin veneer of their once-hailed ‘strategic entente’

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah in 2018 (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)

They were the Gulf power couple of the Trump era: the two crown princes and de facto rulers of the UAE and Saudi Arabia shook up the region, imposing their will on their neighbours.

Ever since Abu Dhabi strongman Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) took Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) under his wing in 2015, the latter did not seem bothered at being framed as the former’s protege. The notion in Riyadh was that Abu Dhabi’s model of authoritarian liberalisation could be one to emulate, bringing the kingdom from the Middle Ages into the 21st century. 

As MBS now sits more firmly in the driver’s seat in Riyadh, the honeymoon period between the crown princes is certainly over

But over the past two years, it has dawned on MBS’s inner circle that the assumed ally next door was not interested in creating win-win situations for both states. Rather, the UAE’s assertive zero-sum mentality – emboldened by former US President Donald Trump’s laissez-faire Middle East policy – often came at the expense of Saudi interests.

The rise of the UAE as arguably the most powerful Arab state over the past decade has only been possible because Abu Dhabi ruthlessly pursues its own interests, with little regard for Riyadh’s reputational struggle in Washington, security concerns in Yemen, urgent need for economic diversification and existential dependence on stable oil prices. 

Since 2019, the growing divergence of interests between the two neighbours has created serious cracks in the thin veneer of their once-hailed “strategic entente”. The relationship between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in recent years has been underwritten by ideological synergies over the UAE’s grand strategic counterrevolutionary narratives, including securitising political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and civil society more widely.

While these synergies remain, the other factor that has traditionally sustained this bilateral relationship – the personal ties between MBZ and MBS – has suffered, as the leader-to-leader relationship has noticeably cooled since the election of US President Joe Biden

Buying political credit

While the two leaders previously cemented their “bromance” with joint hunting trips, official state visits and phone calls, according to press releases, MBS and MBZ have spoken only once since the Trump era came to an end. It became clear that under Biden, Washington would withdraw its carte blanche for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to do as they pleased in the region. Both needed to buy credit with the new administration and the Democrats in Washington.

Instead of featuring as the bullies in the region, both MBS and MBZ needed to reframe their image as more constructive players, eager to support the Biden administration’s soft-handed regional policy of leading from behind.  

When Trump got elected in 2016, MBZ personally visited the Trump team in New York, lobbying for his protege MBS as the next king. Four years later, with a Democrat elected president, the UAE is noticeably trying to create distance between itself and the Saudi leadership. Any affiliation with MBS is seen as potentially tainting Emirati efforts to turn the country’s image around.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with MBS at the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with MBS at the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan (Bandar al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)

Under pressure for its joint ventures with Moscow in Libya, its mercenary adventures in Yemen, and its rise as a force multiplier for China’s global information power, Abu Dhabi has demonstrated that its zero-sum mentality means it is willing to throw a “strategic ally” under the bus. 

The war in Yemen, which the UAE helped to frame as “Saudi-led”, was the first arena in which the Saudi leadership learned that Emirati policy was ruthless when it came to preserving the UAE’s interests, even at the expense of Saudi Arabia.

Some in MBS’s circles have, according to sources close to the palace, raised concerns that MBZ might have pushed Saudi Arabia into risky adventures in order to create a shield behind which the UAE could consolidate its gains in Yemen’s south.

While Saudi Arabia had to bear the operational and reputational burdens of the costly war against the Houthis, Abu Dhabi secured its foothold along Yemen’s strategically important coastline via its surrogate, the Southern Transitional Council.  

Left out in the cold

The UAE’s comet-like rise amid the regional power vacuum left by a disengaging US created the illusion in Abu Dhabi that, as the new middle power in the Gulf, it would not need to yield to anyone. The ongoing standoff between the UAE and Saudi Arabia within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) shows that Abu Dhabi is confident to stand its ground.

The UAE will not compromise on national interests, even if it comes to the detriment of Saudi Arabia, as with Abu Dhabi’s blatant ignoring of OPEC output quotas.

On the issue of the Qatar blockade, where MBZ led and MBS willingly followed, the UAE showed very little willingness to compromise. Although the reputational and political costs of the ongoing blockade continued to rise for both – especially in Washington – Abu Dhabi was willing to sustain it in the interests of its counterrevolutionary crusade.The Saudi-Emirati axis: United against Gulf unity

In the end, Saudi Arabia broke ranks and let pragmatism prevail. Ending the blockade was a first sign of Saudi leadership in the Gulf under MBS, which Riyadh viewed as a win-win opportunity for the blockading quartet and for Qatar. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, was deeply concerned about the pace and depth of normalisation, which not only pressured the Emiratis to fall in line, but allowed MBS to reap the positive messages.

This was just the beginning. Left out in the cold time and again by its neighbour, Saudi Arabia has since embarked on its own more assertive strategy for diversification. The kingdom’s new economic policies, aiming to attract investments from multinationals based in the UAE, directly target the success story of Dubai, which has been in economic limbo since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The unhealthy nature of this competition means that it becomes ever-more difficult to create win-win situations. And as MBS now sits more firmly in the driver’s seat in Riyadh, the honeymoon period between the crown princes is certainly over.

As the gloves come off, MBS is eager to show that Abu Dhabi has been punching above its weight, and that there are limits to smart power in compensating for lack of size. Nonetheless, their relations remain underwritten by ideological synergies over fears of political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and civil society. It remains to be seen whether this is enough to prevent another Gulf crisis.

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.

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.


Source
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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.

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