Could Turkish involvement in Yemen free Saudi Arabia?

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


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Fehim Tastekin

April 2, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

الكاتب: فهيم تستكين

المصدر: المونيتور 6 نيسان 14:54

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

تنمّر بن زايد على بن سلمان: قضيّة خاشقجي نموذجاً!

الأخبار

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ابراهيم الأمين 

الخميس 4 شباط 2021

يحرص الجانبان الإماراتي والسعودي على إخفاء التباينات بينهما حول أمور كثيرة. لكن الأمر لا يكون على هذا النحو لدى الجهات المتابعة، سواء في محيط قادة البلدين، أو لدى الدبلوماسية العربية والغربية النشطة في العاصمتين. والبارز في أن وثائق سرية تثبت ما ينقله دبلوماسيون عملوا في الجزيرة العربية عن أن في أبو ظبي من يشكو ضيق هامش المناورة بسبب طبيعة وليّ العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان. لكن هؤلاء الدبلوماسيين قلّما تحدّثوا عن الجانب الأكثر تعقيداً في العلاقة، وهو المتصل بسعي الإمارات الدائم للقيام بدور “الوصي الرقيب” على سلوك الإدارة السعودية الجديدة. ولذلك، تهتم قيادة الإمارات بأن يعمل دبلوماسيوها في الرياض، وبعض الباحثين المتعاقدين مع وزارة الخارجية وأجهزة الأمن، على إعداد تقارير تخص الوضع السعودي.

دبلوماسي فرنسي عمل في أبو ظبي، قال لزميله اللبناني إن مشكلة أبو ظبي مع الرياض مثل مشكلة لبنان مع سوريا قبل عام 2005. حينذاك، لم يكن بمقدور القيادة اللبنانية القيام بأي خطوة ذات بعد استراتيجي من دون الحصول على موافقة دمشق. وها هي الإمارات تنتظر موافقة الرياض على أي مبادرة. ومتى تصرفت من تلقاء نفسها ارتفع الصوت في قصر اليمامة… لكن في الإمارات يتجنّبون رفع الصوت. وأكثر المتضررين هو محمد بن راشد، الذي يشعر بضيق الأمور على دبي، فهو من جهة يبدو مكبل اليدين، ويرى بأن بن سلمان يريد منافسة إمارته على وجه التحديد، وأن محمد بن زايد لا يفعل له شيئاً.

واضح أن قيادة الإمارات كانت تأمل بعلاقة مختلفة مع الرياض بعد تولّي محمد بن سلمان أمور البلاد، تصرف محمد بن زايد على أن ولي العهد السعودي سيكون شريكاً كبيراً في مشروع توسيع نفوذ دول الخليج في المنطقة والعالم. وتعامل معه على أساس أنهما يمثّلان العقل الجديد للجزيرة العربية. تحالفهما يتجاوز الإضرار بخصمهما الأول تميم بن حمد في قطر، بل يشمل تركيا أيضاً. ولذلك وضع بن زايد ثقله في تطوير العلاقة الشخصية مع بن سلمان، الى أن حصل فجأة ما غيّر الأمور.

يقول الدبلوماسي الغربي: فجأة، تغيرت الأحوال. صار بن سلمان يتصرف بطريقة مختلفة. وما إن أنجز عملية استيلائه على كامل السلطات في بلاده، ونجح في إطاحة خصومه من العائلة وخارجها، حتى صار يتصرف مع بن زايد بطريقة مختلفة.

ولفت الدبلوماسي نفسه الى أن الرياض استاءت من أداء الجانبين الإماراتي والمصري في قضية قتل جمال خاشقجي لأنها كانت تتوقع أن يقفا الى جانبها بقوة. وهو أمر تظهره وثائق سرية حصلت عليها «الأخبار». واللافت أن سلوك الدبلوماسية الإماراتية تجاوز موقع المتابع، ليركّز على تفاصيل تظهر الرغبة الدفينة بتغييرات داخل المملكة من شأنها إضعاف محمد بن سلمان وعودته الى “بيت الطاعة” كما كان عليه الأمر يوم تولّيه المسؤولية. وما تظهره الوثائق، يكشف حجم التوغل الإماراتي داخل الأوساط الحاكمة في السعودية، وقدرة فريقها على استخلاص المعلومات، ما يشير الى القدرة على بناء شبكة علاقات قوية، أو رغبة المعارضين لبن سلمان في إيصال صوتهم الى خارج أسوار الرياض، ولو عن طريق أبو ظبي. بل يظهر بوضوح “حالة التشفي” التي توازي فعل “التنمّر” من جانب فريق بن زايد على فريق بن سلمان.
في هذه الحلقة، تنشر “الأخبار” بعض الوثائق الصادرة عن جهات إماراتية رفيعة المستوى، تعرض لجوانب من هذه الأزمة، وكيفية قراءتها لانعكاسات ما يجري على وليّ العهد السعودي وحكمه داخل المملكة وعلى صورته وموقعه ودوره خارج السعودية.

مقالات ذات صلة

Video: Israeli Military Asks $1.2 Billion to Prepare for Strike on Iran

By South Front

Global Research, January 29, 2021

South Front 28 January 2021

All Global Research articles including the E-Book can be read in 27 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

The Israeli military needs over $1 billion to fund its widely promoted strike on Iran, which Tel Aviv has threatened to carry out if the US should rejoin the nuclear deal. According to Israeli sources, the military would need these additional funds to deal with the challenges that it faces including ‘threats’ from the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance.

The interesting fact is that even the IDF Chief of Staff admits that Israel is the initiator of the escalation. However, the Israeli leadership continues to insist that the Iranian threat is growing.

“In general, none of [our enemies] want to initiate anything against us. All of their actions — almost without exception — are retaliatory to our actions, not actions that they’ve initiated. And when they decide to carry out [an attack], they experience difficulties and decide to abandon their ways of acting,” IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said adding that military spending must be increased, despite the coronavirus crisis.

“The missiles don’t get sick, but they can be fired the moment the other side decides that’s what it wants to do,” Kohavi stated referring to the missile arsenal of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

It is interesting to know: Would the new US administration fund Israeli preparations for a strike against Iran beforehand or it would prefer to compensate it after the event.Israeli Officials Consider Attacking Iran, Believing Trump Won’t Oppose It

In any case, as of now there are no conditions to test Israeli readiness to really attack Tehran. Whether the Biden administration will rejoin the nuclear deal is still in question. Iran argues that it would reject any preconditions and the deal could only be considered to be restored after the lifting of all the imposed sanctions.

Meanwhile, the main side suffering are the Gulf allies of the Israeli-US bloc. The new Iranian-backed group, which claimed responsibility for the recent attack on the Saudi capital, issued a threat to the United Arab Emirates. On January 27, the Righteous Promise Brigades released a poster showing a drone attacking Burj Khalifa in the Emirate of Dubai. Rising to 829.8 meters in height, Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest structure and building.

“The second blow will be on the dens of evil in Dubai, with the help of the Almighty, if the crimes of Bin Salman and Bin Zayed are repeated,” the statement reads. The RPB said its attack on Riyadh was a response to the January 21 bombings in the Iraqi capital. ISIS claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack. However, the Righteous Promise Brigades blamed Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“The second blow will be on the dens of evil in Dubai, with the help of the Almighty, if the crimes of Bin Salman and Bin Zayed are repeated,” the statement reads. The RPB said its attack on Riyadh was a response to the January 21 bombings in the Iraqi capital. ISIS claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack. However, the Righteous Promise Brigades blamed Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

*

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The dark motives behind Saudi Arabia’s push for Gulf unity

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David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

David Hearst

6 January 2021 17:22 UTC 

Mohammed bin Salman could use the detente with Qatar to achieve two objectives: to announce his own recognition of Israel, and to persuade his father to abdicate the throne

It took Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman three years and six months to come to the same conclusion that some of us reached days into the blockade of Qatar: that it was doomed to failure.

The project to silence the voice of an independent neighbour was doomed the moment that then-US defence secretary James Mattis and then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson, a former oilman with extensive links to Qatar, learned of plans to invade the peninsula and stopped them.

As the weeks passed, Qatar’s hand was only strengthened. Turkish troops arrived in Doha to form a physical buffer. Iran gave Qatar the use of its airspace. The blockade could never work with an air bridge established around Saudi Arabia.

If anything, this unpleasant shock has strengthened Qatar. The same goes for Turkish and Iranian foreign policy

It took only months for Qatar to assemble a major lobbying operation in Washington, undoing or rolling back the influence of the principal lobbyist for the Saudis, the Emirati ambassador Youssef al-Otaiba, and establishing solid support of its own. US President Donald Trump did not even acknowledge that Qatar hosted the Pentagon’s most important airbase in the region, Al Udeid, when he tweeted his approval of the blockade in 2017. 

In the end, the Saudi prince overestimated Trump’s influence and underestimated the residual power of the US military. Both Tillerson and Mattis are long gone, but the pressure to reverse this mad act of recklessness never receded; it only grew with time.

With the imminent arrival of a hostile US president in Joe Biden, bin Salman sensed the time had come to put an end to his folly. Today, none of the 13 demands originally placed on Qatar by the blockading states have been met. Neither its hosting of members of the Muslim Brotherhood nor its foreign policy have changed. Al Jazeera has not been closed down. Qatar’s alliance with Iran and Turkey has, if anything, strengthened.

Domestically, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is held in higher esteem for his defence of the state than he was before, as Qatari nationalism has mounted. Qatar is more self-sufficient and confident than it was before the blockade. 

‘Qatar has won’

If anything, this unpleasant shock has strengthened Qatar. The same goes for Turkish and Iranian foreign policy.

“You could say Qatar has won,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a professor of politics in Dubai who was one of the foremost defenders of the blockade three years ago, told the Financial Times. “The cost of fighting was too high – there is a realisation now that this is the black sheep of the family and we just have to put up with it. These have been the worst three-and-a-half years in the history of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council].”This GCC show of unity can’t hide its weakness

But these conclusions are, for the moment, bin Salman’s alone. It is interesting to note who was absent from the display of brotherly love at the GCC summit on Tuesday. The no-show by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed came alongside the absence of Bahrain’s King Hamad and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Bahrain is in the midst of an increasingly bitter border dispute with Qatar, and Egypt remains sceptical about the whole enterprise. Mada Masr quoted Egyptian government sources as saying that Cairo does not see a sufficiently strong foundation to open a new page in relations with Doha. Qatar, they claimed, was still mounting a “methodological campaign aimed at the Egyptian regime”. 

The sources noted that none of the basic demands made of Qatar – closing down Al Jazeera, shuttering a Turkish military base, severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and reducing ties with Iran – had been met. It is too early to say whether this signals a fracturing of the counter-revolutionary forces that have held together since they paid for and installed Sisi as president of Egypt after a military coup in 2013.

Tensions over Yemen and Israel

Certainly, there are grounds for a bust-up between mentor bin Zayed and his protege, bin Salman. One is Yemen: who is really in charge of the Saudi-led intervention that bin Salman launched in March 2015 – the Saudis or the Emiratis? Militias funded by and loyal to the UAE have taken control of the south, leaving the Saudis with an unresolved war with the Houthis in the north.

A second source of tension is Israel. In spearheading normalisation with Israel, the Emiratis clearly pitched themselves as Tel Aviv’s principal Gulf partner. Otaiba’s boast that the UAE and Israel had the two most capable military forces in the region raised eyebrows in Riyadh and Cairo. 

The Israeli prime minster and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain participate in a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords in Washington on 15 September (AFP)
The Israeli prime minster and the foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain participate in a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords in Washington on 15 September 2020 (AFP)

Writing the first-ever op-ed by a Gulf diplomat for an Israeli newspaper, Otaiba boasted before normalisation took place last year: “With the region’s two most capable militaries, common concerns about terrorism and aggression, and a deep and long relationship with the United States, the UAE and Israel could form closer and more effective security cooperation. As the two most advanced and diversified economies in the region, expanded business and financial ties could accelerate growth and stability across the Middle East.”

The Emirati claim to be the principal partner of Israel could cause problems for the future king of Saudi Arabia. Another notable absentee from the GCC summit was the country’s current king, Salman.

Kingdom split

Al Jazeera’s coverage of the tumultuous events shaking the Arab world has waxed and waned. Even before the blockade, it did not, for instance, devote the same attention to the murderous bombardment of Yemen by Saudi warplanes as it did to the Egyptian revolution in 2011. 

While producers and reporters are freer to report than most of their contemporaries in the Saudi-, Emirati- and Egyptian-controlled media, the state of Qatar still has its hands on volume control. There are many examples, including the decision to downplay coverage of the trial of Loujain al-Hathloul, the prominent Saudi activist recently sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

To deliver Saudi Arabia into the hands of Israel would represent a real prize to the alliance being built over and around the heads of Palestinians

Bin Salman could use this detente with Qatar to achieve two objectives: to announce his own recognition of Israel, and to persuade his father to abdicate and pass the crown to him.

There is no doubt that bin Salman thinks it is time to do both. From the very start of his campaign to become king, establishing close clandestine relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been key to bin Salman’s relationship with US presidential adviser Jared Kushner and his father-in-law, Trump. 

The kingdom is split from top to bottom on the issue of normalisation with Israel. Foreign-policy heavyweights in the family still publicly voice opposition, notably the former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. The king himself, to whom Prince Turki remains close, is also opposed, and the issue will have a strong impact on the Saudi people.

Future turmoil

One first step towards resolving this is to neutralise or turn down the volume of the Arab media that could run against bin Salman. This mainly comes from Qatar, which might explain why Kushner himself was present at the GCC summit.

For all the pain involved, the prize is great – and Biden, a committed Zionist, would welcome it. To deliver Saudi Arabia into the hands of Israel would represent a real prize to the alliance being built over and around the heads of Palestinians. Saudi Arabia remains, by dint of its size and wealth, a “real” Arab nation.

While the resolution of the crisis with Qatar is to be welcomed, the motives for doing so could lead to yet more turmoil in Arab world.

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

This GCC show of unity can’t hide its weakness

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

واشنطن تحت وطأة الانقلاب الفاشل وأميركا تتآكل من الداخل..!

محمد صادق الحسيني

لم يعُد هناك أي مجال للشك والترديد أو الارتياب بأنّ ما كان يدّعيه الأميركيون بأنّ ديمقراطيتهم هي نهاية التاريخ كما ادّعى وزعم منظّرهم فوكوياما، باتت اليوم على شفير الهاوية وذاهبة لتأخذ أميركا الى الخراب الشامل..!

وما جرى في واشنطن قبل أيام من أحداث عنف دامية دليل وبرهان قاطع لا يقبل الدحض أو النقض..!

والذي أكد في ما أكد اشتراك شخص الرئيس الأميركي المنتهية ولايته في كلّ ما جرى من خراب…!

وفي هذا السياق فقد أكدت مصادر واسعة الاطلاع من مراكز صنع القرار الأميركي بأنّ الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب قاد كلّ عمليات التظاهر والتمرّد الأخيرة في واشنطن من خلال غرفة عمليات مخصصة لهذا الغرض كانت تضمّه مع بعض من افراد عائلته وعدد من رهطه (الأمن الخاص لديه تقارير مصوّرة عن ذلك) والذي يثبت أنّ ترامب هو شخصياً كان متورّطاً بعملية قيادة الجموع المقتحمة لمجمع الكاپيتول هيل في إطار عملية انقلابية كانت تهدف الى ما يلي:

1

ـ منع الكونغرس من التصديق على انتخاب بايدن.

2

ـ حرق الكونغرس بعد العبث بكلّ محتوياته.

3

ـ أخذ رهائن من مجلسي النواب والشيوخ وتعطيل الكونغرس لفترة طويلة بهدف ضمان بقائه في البيت الأبيض. إن جهاز الشرطة التابع للكونغرس متورط بإدخال المقتحمين.

هذا وقد ثبت من خلال التحقيقات الاولية بأنّ كلاً من ابن سلمان وابن زايد متورّطين بضخ أموال لترامب وأنصاره لعمل هذه الفوضى في الكونغرس وفي الشارع الأميركي لجرّ الشعب الأميركي إلى مربع الصراع ومربع العنف.

ويبدو أنّ هذه المعلومات كانت متوفرة لدى قيادة الحزب الديمقراطي والسيدة نانسي بيلوسي بشكل خاص والتي تعتبر من الرموز المخابراتية من الوزن الثقيل.

وهذا الأمر بالذات هو الذي دفع رئيسة المجلس الى اتخاذ إجراءات سريعة كانت مأخوذة بعين الاعتبار سلفاً، حيث تمّ أخذ كافة الأعضاء في المجلسين الى قاعات آمنة ومن ثم قامت بالاتصال العاجل بالخدمة السريّة للبيت الأبيض وهي قوة تعتبر تابعة للقوة الخفيّة التي تحمي أميركا الدولة القوية وكذلك بالـ وسائر القوى المعنية فقامت بتطويق كل المربع الخاص بالكونغرس والبالغة مساحته نحو 13 هكتاراً واقتحامه وإخلاء القاعات من الرعاع والمتمردين من جماعة ترامب بمهنيّة عالية جداً وإعادة الأوضاع الى ما قبل الاقتحام في مدة لم تتجاوز 4 ساعات..!

تصاعد التوتر داخل مباني الكاپيتول وخوف الدولة العميقة من انفلات الوضع وانتقاله الى سائر الولايات، وهو ما كان يتمناه ترامب هو الذي دفع بالدولة العميقة بالعمل سريعاً لإنقاذ العاصمة واشنطن من خلال الدفع بقوات دعم أمنية وصلت إليها من فرجينيا ونيوجيرسي وميريلاند.. ولما اشتدّ الوطيس وصار الخطر اكبر دخلت قوات «الخدمة السرية» الخاصة على الخط فوراً وهي القوة التي تشكلت في العام 1865 بعد انتهاء الحرب الأهلية الأميركية والتابعة لوزارة الامن الداخلي، والمكلفة بحماية كبار الشخصيات والرؤساء، وذات المهمات الخاصة في الملمات لتطلب من ترامب التوقف فوراً عن مغامرته والقيام بتسجيل صوتي – وليس الظهور الحر على التلفزيون – لسحب جماعاته فوراً تحت طائلة التهديد بالعقاب الصارم، مجبرة إياه على القيام بالمهمة فور انتهاء خطاب الرئيس المنتخب جو بايدن من دون تأخير (والذي طلب منه ايضاً للخروج بخطابه الى الرأي العام للغرض نفسه)…!

وهكذا رضخ ترامب للأمر وقرّر التراجع مكرهاً، ففشل الانقلاب..!

هذا السيناريو الترامبي والسيناريو المضاد الذي قضى على التمرّد وأحبط الانقلاب في واشنطن العاصمة لن يمرّ بشكل عادي على الحياة السياسية الأميركية، بل انّ تداعياته خطيرة جداً وهي التي ربما ستجعل أميركا توضع على جادة إما الحرب الأهلية وإما التآكل من الداخل والانهيار رويداً رويداً…!

ما حصل ليلة الانقلاب الفاشل لم يكن ابن ليلته، بل هو تراكم فعل وفعل مضاد لفساد النظام السياسي الحاكم في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية …!

أميركا بانت على حقيقتها ديمقراطية فاشلة وهشة وكاذبة!

انها إعجاز نخل خاوية وهشيم تذروه الرياح.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

Why Israel is now delighted about the Arab Spring

تسريبات هيلاري كلينتون تفضح تطبيع إخوان ليبيا بأوامر من محمد بديع مع  إسرائيل... #محمد المقريف - YouTube
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The self-styled ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ was never comfortable with pro-democracy protests. But the autocratic counter-revolution that followed gave it new friends

A Palestinian boy walks past a section of Israel’s separation wall and a billboard that reads in Arabic “The Arab Spring Coffee Shop” in the West Bank village of Al-Ram in 2012 (AFP)By 

Lily Galili in Tel Aviv, IsraelPublished date: 1 January 2021 09:10 UTC | Last update: 

“Unintended consequences” is the best way to describe the impact the Arab Spring has had on Israel.

Ten years after the pro-democracy protests that swept the Arab world, Israeli analysts agree that December 2020 is the unexpected outcome of December 2010’s events.

They may differ in the interpretation of recent developments and assessment of their future impact – but all look back at the beginning of the decade as the starting point of a process that has led to a growing list of Arab and Muslim countries normalising relations with Israel. 

All agree that the Arab Spring (a term coined by the West) is not a fait accompli; that the undercurrents are still very much there and can still change the landscape of the future.

Israeli political and public reaction to these historic uprisings was confused right from the start.

Public opinion was divided between those who believed that Israel’s situation worsened in face of the developments and those who saw the Arab Spring as a positive change for the country. As Israel heads to elections, nothing is different but everything has changed

Even the term “Arab Spring” was up for debate, sometimes replaced by “Arab Winter” or a term officially coined by Israeli Military Intelligence, “Taltala”, a Hebrew word for “shake-up”. “Egyptian Plague” was one of many terms reflecting the profound confusion and derision.

If the Israeli discourse reflected public bewilderment, contradictory statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reflections of confused policy.

The premier, who had preached in his own books that the lack of democracy in Arab states was the main obstacle to peace, openly avoided any reference to the democratic aspect of the Arab Spring.

“The Middle East is no place for the naive,” he stated in a speech delivered at the Israeli parliament on 23 November 2011, referring sarcastically to those who saw something positive in the unfolding events.

Yet, on the international arena, he adopted a more lenient approach, making statements like: “Israel is a democracy that encourages the promotion of free and democratic values in the Middle East and the promotion of such values will benefit peace.”

In a paper published in January 2013 by Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, analyst Lior Lehrs quotes “government sources in Jerusalem” as explaining that “Netanyahu felt he had to narrow the gap between him and the international community”.

“The PM, as the leader of the only democracy in the Middle East, understood he cannot ignore international criticism of [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak and therefore this time addressed the issue of promoting democracy in the region,” Lehr wrote.

In the years following this statement, the leader of a country that wrongly describes itself and prides itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East” befriended a long series of authoritarian regimes in the region.

From spring to normalisation

The “linkage” between the Arab Spring and the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and likely more countries to come, was one of main themes of a conference dedicated to the decade by BESA, the right-wing-orientated Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

“The Arab Spring is the death certificate of Arab nationalism as we knew it in the Levant, and the rise of more dictatorship-like regimes,” Ehud Yaari, Israeli political commentator and analyst, told Middle East Eye.

“The collapse of central capitals like Cairo and Damascus spurred Arab peripheral countries to re-arrange the arena. The capital moved to the UAE, a more modern one, despite its modest size. This is a given of historical dimension not bound to change in the visible future. A whole new nation ball game in the Middle East.”

At the Begin-Sadat Centre conference on 23 December, Yaari briefly told attendees what he believed would be the “nightmare scenario” for Israel – the collapse “inwards” of Egypt.

Yaari later told MEE that while Iran and Turkey compete with each other over dominance in Levantine Arab states, the peripheral countries reached a conclusion that the answer to their growing threat is to establish a new partnership, supported by the US.

Yaari said Netanyahu’s “bragging” about annexation gave Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed an opportunity for normalisation. The September deal was inked with the promise that Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank had been shelved.Meet the man Netanyahu has picked to lead Israel’s Mossad

“They wouldn’t do it for a supply of F-35 aircrafts; they aim at a kind of military-security covenant. Others will follow. Even Qatar will not stay behind long after Saudi Arabia joins. Then Muslim states like Niger, Mali and more will follow,” he said.

“The Arab Spring was a cry of those my Arab friend calls the ‘helpless, hopeless and jobless’, and not a vehicle for regime change. Yet many of the countries involved remained on a map only.”

According to his scenario, Israel becomes an integral part of the region by joining regional alliances like “the Red Sea forum”, a new Saudi initiative being discussed.

Menachem Klein, political scientist and adviser to Israeli negotiation teams in 2000 and 2003, believes that all normalisation agreements come as a result of the Arab Spring and the “dissolution” of the Arab League.

Once, the Arab League united states against Israel. When governments began attacking their people in 2011, those countries began turning on one another.

In this new constellation, Israel has become another factor in the fine fabric of alliances and rivalries in the Arab world. Donald Trump in the Middle East: A story of big winners and bigger losers

“Israel integrated into the Arab fabric not just via those normalisation agreements but as an active player in the intricate labyrinth of contradictory interests of countries of the Middle East,” he told MEE.

“A long time ago, the late Shimon Peres dreamt of Israel as member of the Arab League; what he did not dream of is a broken region with a practically non-existent League.”

Klein is very much aware of the complexity of the new reality.

The upside, he believes, is Israel is accepted as a fact, even if the circumstances of its establishment are still illegitimate in the eyes of many. The downside, according to Klein, is that in the eyes of many in Arab societies, Israel is still perceived as the long arm of the United States, one that can be used for protection and arms, as well as a pipeline to Washington.

Israel, Palestine and domestic policy

Though Yaari and Klein both agree that the Arab Spring and normalisation deals have impacted the Palestinian cause, they do not reach the same conclusion as to how.

“I believe that the normalisation that stemmed from the Arab Spring will impose more restraint on any Israeli government, be it even ultra-right wing. No more annexation, no more Israeli construction plans in the controversial E1 area. Israel has too much to lose,” said Yaari.

“The Palestinians, on the other hand, finally realised they have no one to lean on, they are bound to change direction.”

Since Palestinian nationalism ceased to be an all-Arab issue, and now the Palestinians have been abandoned by Arab countries and in the reality subject to de-facto annexation, it has in fact become an Israeli internal domestic issue

According to this plan carefully crafted over a few years, Israel will take over control of the West Bank and divide it into segments like ‘greater Nablus’, ‘greater Jenin’, and so on

Klein does not agree with that conclusion nor with that scenario. The most dangerous repercussion of the decade that changed the Middle East is, according to him, the Palestinian issue.

“Since Palestinian nationalism ceased to be an all-Arab issue, and now the Palestinians have been abandoned by Arab countries and in the reality subject to de-facto annexation, it has in fact become an Israeli internal domestic issue,” Klein said.

“It is now more a question of domestic policy than of foreign policy. That twist just makes the situation more acute in the absence of external enforcement leading to a solution. Any explosion in the occupied territories can now easily lead to chaos.”

Klein knows of an Israeli military plan to deal with such an explosion. According to this plan carefully crafted over a few years, Israel will take over control of the West Bank and divide it into segments like “greater Nablus”, “greater Jenin”, and so on.

Each divided region will be under the control of a military governor. The Israeli military’s central command, Klein tells MEE, has already practiced the plan.

It is more than about controlling riots: this is the plan to dismantle one ruling authority – the Palestinian Authority – and thus smash the political entity of Palestinian nationality.

Unlike Yaari, Klein believes that the “shake-up” that skipped the occupied territories ten years ago is about to arrive.

Read more

‘Thinking Machiavelli, Acting Mussolini’

By Alastair Crooke
Source: Strategic Culture

Earlier this month, the Lebanese al-Manar TV aired footage of Israeli bases in Upper Galilee, which were filmed by a Hizbullah drone. An Israeli base in Brannite and a command centre in Rowaysat al-Alam in northern Israel can be seen in the footage. According to Southfront, whose military expertise is highly regarded, Hizbullah now operates a variety of drones, some with combat capabilities. Reports suggest that Hizbullah has established a formidable stealth drone and smart cruise missile force (with support from Iran). The Russia-linked, military site, Southfront, concludes that today, the movement is better trained and equipped than many armies around the world.

Israel is convinced that, for the first time, that the ‘next war’ will not be limited to Lebanese territory; that its own borders will be violated; and that offensive combat forces will enter settlements and homes and clash with Israeli troops.

This is giant ‘chess’ – where a combination of armed drones, suicide drones and ‘smart’ missiles likely will predominate (rather than tanks, as in the 2006 war). In its evolving thesis of a new war with Hizbullah, Israel believes that all its airfields will be bombed with precision missiles. (And is therefore trying to get from the U.S., a few squadrons of the new generation F-35B jets that do not need long runways, so as to try to secure its air superiority in the face of a possible swarm drone or missile attack on its air defences).

This represents just one component to Iran’s transmutation of any Israeli or American ‘military’ option against Iran into a suicide ‘Red Pill’ for whomsoever might launch it. Quietly, while all the world was focussed on the ‘Big One’ (putative nuclear weapons), over the last four years, Iran has built a conventional ‘swarm’ and ‘smart’ (and virtually undetectable by radar) ‘ant’s hive’ of ‘micro’ weapons circling across the region – from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq to Yemen.

Although it is still to sink-in to European and American thinking (obsessed with the possibly now passé framework of the ‘Big One’ – the JCPOA), Iran quietly has inverted the calculus. It possesses the leverage now. And it has other trade options (through looking East) opening to it. Israel and its Gulf State ‘allies’, by contrast are on the defensive.

So what is next? An Iranian law has come into force setting a 60-day deadline for the U.S. to lift sanctions. If the U.S. doesn’t do so, the law states that Iran must raise uranium enrichment levels to 20% and limit UN inspectors’ access to its nuclear sites. The bottom line for Israel is that this new paradigm demands swift, confidential talks with America.

Some in Israel clearly ‘get it’: In one of the split-screen realities, it is all about nukes (on which U.S. politics is focused), but featuring on another screen is Iran’s Red Pill deterrence against the U.S. putting the military option back on the table.

However, as Professor Michael Brenner has observed, “foreign policy has got short shrift over the last two years” in the U.S. (Iran and the JCPOA being the one exception): “Even on that [latter] issue, there is scant dissent from the twin propositions that Iran is a hostile state that threatens our vital interests and that the Islamic state’s disappearance would remove a serious anathema. So pervasive is this consensus that the foreign affairs community has developed something that approximates herd immunity to critical thinking. Political élites, think tankers, and consultancy gurus all sing in chorus from the same hymnal. Such differences as exist are barely noticeable variations on the fundamentally same threat assessments or on tactics for countering those alleged threats. Strategy is nowhere to be seen”.

Today, we are all too highly susceptible, to “techno-chauvinist” perspectives. Because we are incessantly told technology – whether military, or via algorithmic control – is the irresistible driver of change. Consequently, we now simply cannot imagine a future in which the solution to our problems is not more and more technology (or more and better weapons). Clearly, step-evolutions in weaponry can become a strategic game-changer (it just has); yet the best lesson history can offer is that the future is determined by cultural and social dynamics, as much as it is shaped by technology alone

And just as America experiences its cultural Blue versus Red ‘war’, so the Middle East has its’ own cultural wars, which are being exacerbated and made more intractable by that Washington ‘tin ear’ to critical thought, and which insists to define the world around it as a Manichean struggle between the forces of light and of darkness; of freedom versus despotism; of justice versus oppression and cruelty.

Washington truly stares at its own image in the mirror, and throws this wide shawl across the rest of the world. Its’ own Presidential election is no longer purely political, but it too now is configured more as a ‘crusade’ against cosmic evil – a devil, or demiurge (Trump). The salience of this for the Middle East is that, what America defines as ‘evil and malign’, may be no more other societies’ cultural wars (little different to America’s own), playing out.

Here is the point: technology – whether military or financial – is often not the determinant. The Iranian nation has been placed under huge stresses, yet it has found the inner resources to build a solution (its smart weapon deterrence). It has demonstrated societal and cultural energy. This matters.

Jacques Barzun, the philosopher of history, asks the question: “What makes a nation?” He answers his own question. “A large part of the answer to that question is: common historical memories. When the nation’s history is poorly taught in schools; ignored by the young, and proudly rejected by qualified elders, awareness of tradition consists only in wanting to destroy it”.

The December issue of The Atlantic magazine has an interview with Professor Peter Turchin, who is actually a zoologist. He spent his early career analyzing population dynamics. Why does a particular species of beetle inhabit a certain forest, or why does it disappear from that same forest? He developed some general principles for such things, and wondered if they apply to humans, too.

One recurring pattern, Turchin noticed is something he calls ‘élite overproduction’. This happens when a society’s ruling class grows faster than the number of rulers it needs. (For Turchin, “élite” seems to mean not just political leaders, but all those managing companies, universities, and other large social institutions, as well as those at the top of the economic food chain.) As The Atlantic describes it:

“One way for a ruling class to grow is biologically—think of Saudi Arabia, where princes and princesses are born faster than royal roles can be created for them. In the United States, élites overproduce themselves through economic and educational upward mobility: More and more people get rich, and more and more get educated. Neither of these sounds bad on its own. Don’t we want everyone to be rich and educated? The problems begin when money and Harvard degrees become like royal titles in Saudi Arabia. If lots of people have them, but only some have real power, the ones who don’t have power eventually turn on the ones who do …”.

The final trigger of impending collapse, Turchin says, tends to be state insolvency. At some point rising insecurity becomes expensive. The élites have to pacify unhappy citizens with handouts and freebies—and when these run out, they have to police dissent and oppress people. Eventually the state exhausts all short-term solutions, and what was heretofore a coherent civilization disintegrates.

Turchin’s article was intended – and did – resonate as a description of the U.S. in its current state. Yet it describes much of the Middle East to a ‘T’ – particularly in the context of weak oil prices. The region is an economic disaster. And no, Turchin’s observations apply not just to the region’s autocrats, but in certain important respects – i.e. in social poverty and inequality – they apply to Israel, as much as to anyone else.

Cultural ‘war’ is as much about whether a civilisational ‘life’ is ebbing, or is both vital and fertile.

In the wake of the Iranian Revolution; 9/11, and the ‘Arab Spring’, Robert Worth notes in a long essay in the NYT Magazine, key Gulf leaders such as Mohammad bin Zayed (MbZ), shifted from an initial openness to political Islam, to a recognition that the path of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that of his own path to feudal power, simply “were incompatible”.

MbZ incrementally turned implacably hostile to the MB, to Iran, and was wary, even, of the Wahhabi establishment in Saudi Arabia. By 2013, MbZ was deeply worried about the future. The Arab Spring uprisings had toppled several autocrats, and political Islamists were rising to fill the vacuum. Worth expands:

“It was a recipe for apocalyptic violence; and regional powers were doing little to stop it. Turkey was vehemently cheering its own favoured Islamists on and backing some of them with weapons. So was Qatar, the U.A.E.’s oil-rich neighbour in the Persian Gulf. The Saudis were ambivalent, hampered by an elderly and ailing monarch.”

“He would soon enlist as an ally Mohammed bin Salman, the young Saudi crown prince known as MbS, who in many ways is MbZ’s protégé. Together, they helped the Egyptian military depose that country’s elected Islamist president in 2013. In Libya in 2015, MbZ stepped into the civil war, defying a United Nations embargo and American diplomats. He fought the Shabab militia in Somalia, leveraging his country’s commercial ports to become a power broker in the Horn of Africa. He joined the Saudi war in Yemen to battle the Iran-backed Houthi militia. In 2017, he broke an old tradition by orchestrating an aggressive embargo against his Persian Gulf neighbour Qatar. All of this was aimed at thwarting what he saw as a looming Islamist menace.”

Of course, all this, and the Sandhurst-trained monarch’s model ‘Spartan’ army, made him a star in Washington (although he subsequently fell-out with Obama, over the latter’s support for Morsi – and later, over Obama’s JCPOA, which MbZ opposed).

What then was the Gulf and Sunni riposte to this impending cultural war catastrophe? MbZ actualised an ambitious dream: that of “building a state that would show up the entire Islamist movement by succeeding where it had failed. Instead of an illiberal democracy — like Turkey’s — he would build its opposite, a socially liberal autocracy, much as Lee Kuan Yew did in Singapore in the 1960s and 1970s.” The future was a binary choice: repression or catastrophe. He chose repression: “It is ‘culture war’” he said.

This was a coherent, if tiny, civilisation disintegrating. A Gulf cultural tradition was being eviscerated in order to shield it against the Islamist and Iranian ‘virus’’. Even Worth, who visited the region often, described the inhabitants as ‘rootless individuals’, wandering the caverns beneath the hyper-capitalist, glass towers. Energy fades, civilisation gently dies.

But for the Israeli commentator, Zvi Barel, MbZ’s normalisation with Israel is simply the inevitable continuation – a further weave into the fabric of MbZ’s worldview: “His hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood equals only to his fear of Iran, in which he sees a clear and immediate threat to the Emirates in particular – and to Sunni Islam in general”.

In the Middle East, the Shi’a – widely – are enjoying a renaissance, just at the moment when the Sunni ‘old’ establishment is convulsed with fear at being overwhelmed by the region’s Shi’a. Cultural virility can trump repression, as Iran is showing. And the correct response to a cultural resurgence is almost never a ‘military option’. Iran’s readiness to face-off over the JCPOA makes a western course-correction urgent. Will that happen? In Washington, almost certainly not: We shall just have to shuffle unsteadily and nervously along the cliff edge of Israeli and U.S. demands for ‘forever-containment’ – awaiting events.

Turkey Making Ties With Israel

ERD3211

12.12.2020 

Author: Vladimir Odintsov

In recent years, one can more and more often find articles in various media about Turkey’s apparent desire to develop and strengthen its diverse ties with Israel. New Eastern Outlook has also repeatedly addressed the issue of assessing the current state of relations between the two countries, dealing with one issue in particular: Turkey and Israel: Enemies or Allies?

Relations between the two countries have developed in waves over the past decades, most notably sparking a crisis in 2010 after the Israelis shot and killed 10 Turkish activists who were trying to reach the shore on the Mavi Marmara in besieged Gaza in support of the Palestinians. Ultimately, in May 2018, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and recalled its own because of Israeli attacks on Gaza and the United States’ decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. At the same time, it is no secret that economic ties have been maintained, and among the construction companies engaged in building Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory since the 1990s, there are also Turkish companies, such as the Yılmazlar Construction Group, which renewed its relationship with Israel in 2002.

As for Israel, it sees Turkey as a country with important financial flows for it and as one of the centers of world trade, a key and strategically important place for its domination in the Middle East. This explains Tel Aviv’s moves to agree to secret contacts with Turkey, one of which was the recent communication between the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Service, Hakan Fidan, and Israeli officials as part of Turkey’s efforts to normalize relations. These latest contacts, according to sources, have involved, among other things, restoring ties between Turkey and Israel back to the envoy level.

As The Jerusalem Post notes in this regard, Turkey expects not only to show its friendly attitude towards Israel and the Jews, but also to get dividends in the eyes of Joe Biden’s administration. At the same time, the publication stresses that “this is a model that has been used before… However, it is still unclear whether Israel will pander to Turkey and ignore its support for Hamas.”

The other day there was another offer from Ankara to reconcile with Israel and end the lingering bilateral conflict. Cihat Yaycı, a retired admiral and political science professor who is close to Erdoğan, has published an article in the December issue of Turkeyscope, a monthly magazine of the Moshe Dayan Center of Tel Aviv University, proposing a solution to the maritime economic border between Israel and Turkey. He sees this, in particular, at the expense of reducing the interests of Cyprus, with which Ankara’s relations have recently seriously deteriorated against the background of Turkish expansion in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is true that in the comments to this article, the editor-in-chief of Turkeyscope, Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, PhD in Oriental Studies, noted: “In order to raise the level of Israel’s relations with Turkey, in order to achieve a real normalization, it is necessary to restore mutual trust, for which, above all, it is necessary to return the envoys and consuls.”

The essence of the Turkish proposals is to establish a sea economic zone border between Turkey and Israel at the expense of Cyprus and, by redrawing the sea economic zones, to transfer a number of Cypriot blocks to Israel. In announcing these proposals, Ankara is trying to play on the fact that the border zones between Israel and Cyprus are still disputed, despite all the signed agreements. And since economic waters are concerned, where on the Cypriot side there is the Aphrodite gas field with 100 billion cubic meters of gas worth $9 billion, the new demarcation of the sea border is presented by Ankara as a very expensive gift to Tel Aviv, but only on one condition: Israel will only have business with Turkey and absolutely nothing with Cyprus, whose opinion does not interest Erdoğan in the slightest. At the same time, Ankara makes no secret of the fact that it, too, has “claims” to Cyprus, thus suggesting that Israel should conduct an “exchange of interests” by signing an agreement.

Admiral Cihat Yaycı also advises Israel not to build the expensive EastMed gas pipeline to Greece through Cyprus, but to connect to the Turkish pipeline for gas supplies to Europe, which is more practical and cheaper, clearly referring to the “Southern Gas Corridor” from Azerbaijan, which passes through Turkey.

It is worth noting that Turkey had already signed earlier a very similar agreement, only at the expense of Greece, with the Libyan government in Tripoli, which angered not only Athens, but also Brussels, Cairo and Tel Aviv. Moreover, it was the former Turkish admiral Cihat Yaycı, who suggested the idea of this agreement with Libya.

As the Israeli media commented on Yaycı’s proposal, this is the second time in the last four months that Ankara has used the energy sector in an attempt to negotiate a truce with Israel. The clearly targeted rapprochement on Turkey’s part is evidenced not only by the increasing frequency of contacts between representatives of the secret services of the two states, but also by the fact that Erdoğan himself has stopped his openly insulting attacks against Israel in recent months.

Regarding Israel’s proposed sea border agreement with Turkey, Israeli observers have already called it a “Turkish gambit,” in which Erdoğan intends to sacrifice another piece instead of a pawn… That piece being Cyprus, with which Israel has not yet agreed on a sea border.

Ankara’s proposed agreement on the mutually beneficial delimitation of the sea economic zone has so far been received rather negatively in Israeli expert circles. In particular, there is a clear warning that, if agreed on, it could pit Israel not only against Cyprus and Greece, but also against its new peace partner, the United Arab Emirates, whose formal ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed, recently signed a defense treaty with Greece. At the same time, it is not ruled out that tensions between the UAE and Erdoğan with his partners in Qatar could also lead to a serious conflict between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

Under these conditions, experts believe that Israel certainly will not accept Ankara’s proposed agreement and betrayal of its ally Cyprus, which, in turn, casts doubt on the “Turkish gambit’s” success. As for Turkey, Tel Aviv insists that it must first change its public attitude towards Israel, stop delegitimizing it in the eyes of the Turkish population, and end its relations with Hamas. In doing so, Israel shows that if Erdoğan follows through, the Jewish state will find ways to restore the formal, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries that it had in the past.

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Israel’s Honeymoon with the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque

By Belén Fernández

Global Research,

December 10, 2020Jacobin 7 December 2020

Since normalizing relations in September, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have teamed up to do what both do best: trample on democratic freedoms, commit atrocities, and whitewash occupation.

***

Back in 2010, the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman issued the following complaint: “Destructive critics dismiss Gaza as an Israeli prison, without ever mentioning that had Hamas decided — after Israel unilaterally left Gaza — to turn it into Dubai rather than Tehran, Israel would have behaved differently, too.”

Never mind that Israel never “left” Gaza — or that even if Hamas had managed to transform the diminutive Palestinian coastal enclave into the capital of Iran, international law would not have authorized the Israelis to then convert it into the “world’s largest open-air prison.” It’s also unclear how any territory could be turned into Dubai while under siege and frequent bombardment, or how Gazans would go about building malls with ski slopes — or building anything, for that matter — when Israel intermittently blocks construction materials from coming into the narrow strip of land.

Now, courtesy of the September normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates — the culmination of a long-standing clandestine love affair — it seems the Palestinians will finally get to experience a taste of Dubai. (And Emirati alcohol consumers will get a taste of Israeli-made wine from the illegally occupied Golan Heights.)

In a recent CNN dispatch titled “The UAE and Israel’s whirlwind honeymoon has gone beyond normalization,” correspondent Ben Wedeman writes of the “mutual enthusiasm” infecting the Israeli government and the federation of Arab sheikhdoms, so much so that the UAE “appears to have dropped, in practical terms, any objections to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands.” That’s no accident. Disappearing the occupation is a primary function of normalization, fitting right in with the Friedmanite approach to Middle East peace, which posits that, if the Palestinians would just stop bitching about being occupied and massacred and get on with their lives, they, too, could be Dubai — the equivalent of telling a person in a burning house to simply ignore the flames.A Special Relationship Born in Hell: The US Should Cut all Ties with War Criminal Israel

Wedeman catalogues the perks of the overzealous Emirati-Israeli honeymoon: mutual visa exemption, the aforementioned wine, an excursion to the UAE by Israeli settler leaders from the West Bank, direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi scheduled to start early next year, and an arrangement where the UAE will “finance with the US and Israel a project to ‘modernize’ Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank used to control and monitor the movement of Palestinians.”

Presumably, “modernization” does not mean that Israeli soldiers will stop beatingkilling, detaining, and otherwise abusing Palestinians at checkpoints. But perhaps the Emiratis can help install state-of-the-art mobile maternity wards to deal with the Palestinian women forced to give birth there.

To be sure, it’s not like the checkpoints aren’t “modern” enough already. As NBC News reported last year, Microsoft has “invested in a startup that uses facial recognition to surveil Palestinians throughout the West Bank, in spite of the tech giant’s public pledge to avoid using the technology if it encroaches on democratic freedoms.”

That’s no turnoff for the UAE, where democratic freedoms are entirely absent and the slightest criticism of the government is grounds for detentiontorture, or disappearance. And what do you know: Emirati-Israeli collaboration regarding surveillance far predated the official unveiling of amorous bilateral relations. In 2015, a Middle East Eye article quoted a description of Abu Dhabi’s Israeli-installed mass civil spying system: “Every person is monitored from the moment they leave their doorstep to the moment they return to it. Their work, social and behavioral patterns are recorded, analyzed and archived.”

Call it modern barbarism — a right-wing neoliberal dream where basic rights are supplanted by skyscrapers, artificial islands, the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, and other distracting obscenities built on the backs of a migrant work force toiling in “virtual slavery.”

For their normalization efforts, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Perverse, unless you recall that former US president Barack Obama, the man who ordered the dropping of at least 26,171 bombs on seven Muslim-majority countries in 2016 alone, also received the prize. “Peace,” meanwhile, is not currently an option for Palestinians, Yemenis, and other regional inhabitants whose lives are sacrificed in the interest of arms industry profits and similar fixtures of “modernity” — all with US backing, and an imperial narrative that insists Iran is the one causing all the trouble.

So the honeymooners are getting off scot-free, whether for killing 2,251 people in Gaza in a matter of fifty days or for helping oversee the sexual torture of Yemeni detainees and mass starvation of Yemeni children as part of the Saudi-led coalition. And as normalization forges ahead, it’s nothing short of terrifying that anyone finds this normal.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Belén Fernández is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at WorkMarytrs Never Die: Travels through South Lebanon, and, most recently, Exile: Rejecting America and Finding the World. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin.

Featured image is from DesertpeaceThe original source of this article is JacobinCopyright © Belén FernándezJacobin, 2020

For Trump’s Middle East allies, Joe Biden is a new nightmare

 Source

David Hearst
17 November 2020 14:19 UTC | Last update: 17 hours 25 mins ago

David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.


The president-elect’s actions in the Middle East will be dictated by events. But the loss of Trump represents a body check for the ambitions and aspirations of Gulf hegemons
Then Vice President Joe Biden during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2011 (Reuters)

You can detect the shadow of Donald Trump fading from the Middle East in the nervous twitches of his closest allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accelerating settlements before the inevitable freeze or pause in construction in January when President-Elect Joe Biden takes over. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is releasing just a fraction of the estimated 60,000 political prisoners he has stashed in his jails.

Trump’s Middle East triumphs will soon turn to disaster

Read More »

Sisi’s television anchors are, from one day to the next, given different scripts to read out. Take the sad case of Nashaat al-Deehy. When Biden was a candidate, al-Deehy trashed him: “Joseph Biden will become the oldest US president in the history of the United States of America. On 20 November he will be 78 years old. This will impact his mental situation and he suffers from Alzheimer’s and therefore is not fit to be president of the United States of America.”

But once the US media had called Biden president-elect, al-Deehy became respectful. “We have just learned that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi sent a congratulations cable to US President-elect Joe Biden. This man has great respect for Egypt and is known to be wise and he listens well. He does not take decisions frantically. He does not take decisions when he’s angry. All of this was missing in the case of Donald Trump, who was violent and stubborn and arrogant. All of this we’re seeing it.”

Small gestures

The Saudi ambassador in London is in an equal turmoil. One day he hints to the Guardian that jailed women activists could be freed during the G20 summit next week.

“The G20, does it offer an opportunity for clemency? Possibly. That is a judgment for someone other than me,” said Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. “People ask: is it worth the damage it is causing you, whatever they did? That is a fair argument to make and it is a discussion we have back at home within our political system and within our ministry.”

The next day he calls in the BBC to deny what he has just said.

Poor ambassador.

The king himself is by no means immune from wild policy swings. He has started being nice to Turkey.

A week after the earthquake in Izmir, Salman ordered the dispatch of “urgent aid” to the city. Then we learn that the king of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were in talks. The occasion was to present condolences for the death of the Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. But direct contact with a satellite of Riyadh would have been impossible without a green light from the diwan, the Saudi royal court.

Ever since Erdogan refused to let the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul drop, he has become a hate figure in Riyadh. Turkey has been declared – repeatedly –  a regional threat by Saudi social media and Turkish goods subject to a growing boycott. Now it has all changed.

These are small gestures, but telling ones, as Trump leaves office.

CIA bites back

Top of the list of nervous allies is the man who used Trump to fashion his rise to power.

Biden has every incentive to encourage MBS’ many enemies in the Royal family to step forward to prevent the over ambitious prince from becoming King

To become crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had to get rid of, and trash the reputation of his elder cousin Mohammed bin Nayef, who was at the time the CIA’s prime asset in the country and the Gulf region. Before he did this, bin Salman phoned Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and Middle East adviser, to ask permission. It was given, sources with knowledge of the call told Middle East Eye.

Biden knows bin Nayef personally. Bin Nayef’s chief of staff and former interior minister Saad al-Jabri has fled to Toronto. A few days after Khashoggi’s assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, MBS despatched another crew from the Tiger Squad to kill al-Jabri, according to a lawsuit filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act in the US District of Columbia.

Al-Jabri was lucky. Border agents at Toronto International Airport detected the operation and sent it back home. All this is active evidence. None of this has been dealt with. The CIA’s own assessment that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s killing has never been published.

It is not just Biden himself the crown prince has to fear – although the presidential candidate reserved his sharpest words for the killing of Khashoggi – but the return of the CIA to the top table of decision making in the White House.

Overnight MBS goes from having a president in the White House who “saved his ass”, as Trump put it, to a successor who is not remotely interested in doing the same. Biden has every incentive to encourage MBS’s many enemies in the royal family to step forward to prevent the over-ambitious prince from becoming king. There are enough of them, by now.

Get out of jail card

An Oval Office under new management leaves MBS with relatively few options.

He could use Israel as his get-out-of-jail card, by pushing for recognition and normalisation. There is bipartisan support in Congress for the Abraham Accords signed between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel.

How Mohammed bin Salman is quietly enabling an Israeli axis in the Arab world

Read More »

Although the incoming Biden administration will put more emphasis on restarting direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, it would not stop another major Arab state like Saudi Arabia from joining the party.

The opposition to Saudi normalisation with Israel would be at home, not abroad. Recognising Israel would be perilous domestically. However much Saud alQahtani’s social media trolls bully Saudi public opinion, it is ferociously pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist.

Never more so than today, Palestine remains the key source of instability in the Middle East, the conflict that defines it, the conflict that endures as a symbol of European colonisation and Arab humiliation.

The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques recognising Israel? Not over many Muslims’ dead bodies.

Each time MBS has had to walk back on his wish to recognise Israel (and he was very near to flying to Washington and playing the role of smiling sponsor at the signing ceremony in the White House, before cancelling at the last minute) he has turned to his father, the king, to say that nothing has changed and reaffirm official state policy.

This is the Arab Peace Initiative published by his predecessor King Abdullah in 2002 and it only allows  recognition of Israel after a negotiated solution has been found based on 1967 borders.

US President Donald Trump waves to supporters on 15 November (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump waves to supporters on 15 November (Reuters)

The loss of Trump’s “крыша” – or protective roof – and the arrival of a hostile president in Biden will mean that MBS will need his father in the post as king even more than he has done in the past. We know from Saudi sources that at one point MBS was toying with the idea of forcing his father’s premature abdication on health grounds and seizing the crown himself.

The loss of Trump’s protective roof and the arrival of a hostile president in Biden will mean that MBS will need his father in the post as king even more than he has done in the past

In his latest round of purges, MBS targeted leading members of Hay’at al-Bayaa (the Allegiance Council) whose role is to approve a royal succession and the appointment of a new crown prince.

The latest arrests to purge the Allegiance Council of his critics would only have made sense if MBS himself was intending to becoming king. But that was in good times, when bin Salman’s star was rising and he could still visit London and Washington without creating flashmobs of human rights protesters.

In bad times, the king remains the tribal chief, who commands the loyalty of the royal family and the kingdom. Regardless of Salman’s actual mental condition, he is still the head of the family and there will be no rebellion against him. The same would not apply to his son if he pushed his father aside and seized the crown. He would be fair game for a palace coup. This is probably the main reason why the father is still king.

Regional alliance

The fate of the regional alliance that a future King Mohammed was attempting to build around himself also hangs in the balance. The real fight going on in the Sunni Arab world is about who would take over as leader and Western proxy.

Biden must end Trump’s alliance with Mohammed bin Salman

Read More »

The purpose of the alliance with Israel – in Emirati eyes – is not to increase wealth but power, power to become, with Saudi Arabia under King Mohammed, the regional hegemon.

That ambition still exists.

But the role that an “Arab Nato” alliance was intended to play to combat and curb Iran will now be diminished by Biden’s attempt to restore the nuclear agreement with Tehran. Iran’s rulers stared Trump in the eyes and did not blink first. They outlasted this US president as they have done to Jimmy Carter and every president who followed him.

The nuclear agreement (known as JCPOA) was Barack Obama’s crowning foreign policy achievement – although it was the fruition of years of negotiation involving many countries and past foreign ministers – the so-called P5 plus one, the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, and Turkey and Brazil before them.

However, each side’s moves are sequenced and whatever difficulties that lie on that path, Biden will pivot once more to restoring this nuclear agreement. Even if some sanctions continue, the policy of using them to exert “maximum pressure” will be over.

Detente will inevitably create a new reality in the Gulf region.

It will also create a new reality for members of the opposing alliance, Turkey and Qatar. Biden is no admirer of Erdogan, with whom he has spent many hours talking. He has apologised to Erdogan once for remarks suggesting that Turkey helped facilitate the rise of the Islamic State group. He is not about to do that again soon.

In a meeting with the New York Times’ editorial board filmed in December, Biden described Erdogan as an autocrat. Asked about how comfortable he felt with the US still basing 50 nuclear weapons in Turkey, Biden said his comfort level had “diminished a great deal” and that he would be making it clear to the Turkish leader that the US supports the opposition.

A volatile world

Once in power, Biden may find it more difficult to express this personal hostility. Whether he likes it or not, Turkey is a more confident regional military power than it was in Obama’s time.

Its military has proved itself as a counterweight to Russian military power in Syria and Libya, and it has just achieved a major breakthrough in Nagorno Karabakh, establishing for the first time access by road from the Turkish border to the Caspian Sea.

This is a strategic win for the Turkish state.

If he is going to partially lift sanctions on Iran, Biden will find that he needs Turkey as a regional counterbalance. There are today too many arenas, from Syria and Iraq to Libya, where Turkey has become a player. Biden has to deal with these “facts on the ground” whether he likes it or not.

Similarly, pressure will also now grow on Saudi Arabia to end its siege on Qatar. Their immediate neighbour, the UAE, will always regard Qatar’s pro-Islamist foreign policy as an existential threat. But the same does not apply to Riyadh, and quiet negotiations in Oman and Kuwait have already taken place.

Biden’s actions in the Middle East will be dictated by events. But the loss of Trump represents a body check for the ambitions and aspirations of Gulf hegemons.

It’s a more uncertain, volatile world.

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

تحرير كامل فلسطين يقترب بسرعة والأوهام لن تحمي كيان العدو!

محمد صادق الحسيني

إنّ كلّ ما يحكم سلوك وتصرفات قادة العدو، السياسيين والعسكريين هو الأوهام والذعر من المستقبل القاتم، الذي ينتظرهم.

فها هو نتن ياهو يحاول ان يبيع جمهوره أوهام انتصاراته الفارغة بتوقيع اتفاقيات مع الإمارات المتحدة والبحرين والسودان. لكن هذا الجمهور يواصل التظاهر ضدّه يومياً مطالباً باستقالته ومحاكمته بتهم الفساد وتلقي الرشى. أما وزير حربه، الجنرال بني غانتس، الأكثر قدرة من نتن ياهو على قراءة موازين القوى العسكرية في المنطقة، فقد هرع الى واشنطن، ليس لتأمين التفوق العسكري «الإسرائيلي» الشامل كما ادّعى أمام وسائل الإعلام في واشنطن، وإنما لاستجداء الإدارة الأميركية لحماية كيانه من المرحلة الاخيرة، من الهجوم الاستراتيجي لقوات حلف المقاومة، والذي يتوقعه هو وأركان حربه بعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية.

وهو الأمر الذي اضطر، رئيس أركان الجيش الصهيوني، الجنرال أڤيڤ كوخافي، قبل أيام قليلة، الى تنفيذ المناورة التشبيهية على الحدود الشمالية، والتي ستستمرّ حتى ‪يوم الخميس المقبل، حيث كانت قد تأجلت مرتين قبل ذلك بحجة وباء كورونا، على حدّ زعم كوخافي، بينما حقيقة الأمر تقول بغير ذلك. اذ انّ سبب التأجيل الحقيقي هو خوف الأركان الصهيونية من استفزاز قوات المقاومة في لبنان ويجعلها تردّ على تلك الاستفزازات.

وهذا ما يؤكده البروفيسور افرايم إنبار، رئيس معهد القدس للاستراتيجيا والأمن، في تصريح له نشره موقع «جيروساليم بوست» الالكتروني، بتاريخ 26/10/2020، حيث قال انّ «عمليات التطبيع ربما تدفع حزب الله لشنّ حرب على إسرائيل»، أيّ انّ مناورات جيش الاحتلال ليست روتينية وإنما هي انعكاس للهلع، الذي يسود أوساط القيادتين السياسية والعسكرية، من اقتراب موعد تنفيذ قوات حلف المقاومة للمرحلة الأخيرة من هجومها الاستراتيجي، والذي سينتهي بتحرير كامل فلسطين وعاصمتها القدس.

وهذا ما يعترف به، بشكل غير مباشر، الناطق العسكري للشؤون الدولية (الإعلام الخارجي) في الجيش الصهيوني، العقيد جوناثان كونريكوسنقصد الاعتراف بالهلع والذعر، الذي يعتري القيادات العسكرية الصهيونية، حيث قال في تصريح له نشره موقع «جيروساليم بوست» الالكتروني، بتاريخ 26/10/2020، «إنّ حزب الله يشكل الخطر الداهم على المدنيين الاسرائيليين»…!

وهذا بالضبط ما يترجم خوفاً وهلعاً، لن ينفعهم في مواجهته لا محمد بن زايد ولا محمد بن سلمان، المدمنين على تعاطي المخدرات واللذين خضعا للعلاج من هذه الآفة، في بلد غير عدو للعرب، من دون تحقيق نتائج إيجابية…!

وعلى من يشك في هذه الحقيقة أن يتابع حركة أنف كلّ منهما، عند ظهورهما على شاشات التلفزة، وهي الحركة التي لا يمكن للمدمن التحكم بها والمتمثلة في تحريك الأنف يميناً ويساراً من دون لمسه…!

ورغم ذلك كله فإنّ تقارير مستعجلة وردت الى دوائر صنع القرار في عدد من عواصم محور المقاومة الذي يتسع رغم انبطاح هؤلاء الأتباع والأذناب، تفيد بانّ احتمالات إقدام العدو الصهيوني وبدعم من بعض أجنحة الدولة العميقة في أميركا على القيام بعمليات انتقامية او ردعية بهدف او ذريعة منع إيران من التموضع في سورية او منع حزب الله من الصعود الى الجليل، او ايّ ذريعة أخرى، على وقع تصاعد حدة الانتخابات الأميركية وتسابق الحزبين في خدمة العدو الصهيوني…!

لهؤلاء ولكلّ من تبقى من أمراء حرب صغار في تل أبيب بعد انقراض ملوك «اسرائيل» نقول:

«إسرائيل» سقطت ليس فقط عندنا، في قلوبنا وأنفسنا وأذهاننا وعقولنا نحن جيل العرب والمسلمين المتحررين من نظام التبعية والانقياد للهيمنة الأميركية والرجعية العربية، بل وسقطت أيضاً في الجبهة الداخلية لبيت العنكبوت الذي بدأ يحيط بكم من كلّ جانب أيها الصهاينة الجبناء. وهذا وصف صحافتكم ونخبكم التي بدأت تتحدث علناً عن الخراب الثالث…!

ايّ حماقة سترتكبونها ستحمل في طياتها نهايتكم، فنحن في جهوزية شاملة وكاملة، وسنردّ لكم الصاع بعشرة مما تعدّون…!

وسيكون مصيركم يشبه مصير أسيادكم الذين فروا من العراق في العام 2011 بكفالة الجنرال الحاج قاسم سليماني الذي استقبل يومها مبعوثاً أميركياً خاصاً من داخل العراق، يتوسّل اليه الاستفادة من موقعه المعنوي لدى قوات المقاومة العراقية ليوقفوا عملياتهم ليخرجوا بسلام من داخل العراق (وتوسلاتكم موجودة بالصوت والصورة لدى قيادة المحور لمن قد يشكك بذلك من الكتبة المأجورين وأبواق المتزلفين لكم لا سيما الجدد منهم)!

فحذار حذار أيها الصهاينة من اللعب بالنار في سورية او لبنان، ولا يغرّنكم تشجيع بعض الدوائر الاميركية لكم، فقد تكون تخبّئ إرادة التضحية بكم بعد أن أصبحتم ثقلاً كبيراً على كاهلهم (كما تفيد تقارير مؤكدة لدينا)!

لقد أعذر من أنذر، احجزوا تذاكر العودة الى مواطنكم الأصلية، أو تعلموا السباحة سريعاً قبل فوات الأوان!

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

The Failed Saudi War

The Failed Saudi War

By Ahmed Fouad

Throughout history – from the ancient empires and the priests of the pharaohs, to modern times, via pictures and screens – countries and regimes worldwide have been striving to justify the wars they wage and give various reasons for resorting to arms, as well as, trying to mark every single fault of their enemy, giving their soldiers and officials the grounds for heroism.

Inside and outside Yemen, the hopeless Saudi-American war is marching towards its sixth year, with an unprecedented intention to a bloody failure and complete fall. Saudi Arabia and its allies are increasing their craziness, trying to divert attention from the crimes against humanity by committing more horrible crimes. The pretext here is: national security, the concept that Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Cairo are always hanging on to. They are all fighting Yemenis to protect their national security while they are groveling to Netanyahu! The war against Yemen is the same as any war that happened in history; not more than leaders seeking a “monumental” and peerless military achievement that would legitimize their victory. During a historical crisis that all Arabic regimes are experiencing, the Zionist entity became their friend, ally and brother, in the face of people who are materially the poorest in the Arab Region and Arabian Peninsula.

Starting with the western media, the American primarily and the European secondly, Gulf regimes fought the first battle, led by bin Zayed and bin Salman, to buy consciences and stances, succeeding to make the war against Yemen tenable through the world. It wasn’t harder in the Arab World as Qatar joined them with its channels at the beginning of the war, then it encouraged other countries such as Egypt and Sudan to join the alliance.

At the beginning of the war, more than 5 years ago, all stances were ready to be sold, and the money of Al Saud and Al Zayed was ready to buy them. They succeeded to mark their missiles, tanks and warships by “morality” and direct them towards a defenseless nation.

The leadership of the aggression alliance achieved what appeared to be the media victory, in the inauguration of its military campaign against Yemen. All voices that had been opposing the war were silent, or silenced.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates tried so hard to conceal their intervention in Yemen using the moral cover in a region which, looking at everyone and everything in it, seems like a slaughterhouse. No matter how much they might try to beautify themselves, they will never seem peaceful. As it proceeded, the war continued to exhaust the capacity of the two states, which everyone thought endless.

As the years went by, Saudi Arabia squandered its affluent treasury, including the wealth and capacities, for the sake of the alliance and the Arab fascist regimes, and it didn’t stop squandering in the fear of a remarkable Yemeni victory that would firstly deprive it from the opportunity of enthroning the heir presumptive; secondly give Yemen the opportunity of looking at historical demands concerning regions that the Yemenis consider to be unfairly taken from them in earlier stages; and most significantly, grant Yemen the ability to demonstrate its powerful model that just beat all the Gulf states.

The Saudi treasury, that today seems to be in miserable conditions, is deepening the woes of Al Saud. Just before the war against Yemen, at the end of 2014, all the external debts owed by the SA were around $12 billion, worth nothing for the world’s richest state.

Only 5 years later, these debts increased by 1400%, according to data from the World Bank, which unmasked a record high in the debts owed by Saudi Arabia that reached $150 billion in 2018, then $183 billion at the end of 2019, and it goes on and on. It is the Yemeni victory, not the defeat of Saudi Arabia that would haunt rulers in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

As the war progressed, the Gulf media failed, in parallel with the military failure, to continue marshalling opinions that convict Yemenis and their armed forces. The available pictures of mass destruction in Yemen shows the scale of the Arab crime, whether by contributing or staying silent. International actors finally started to draw attention by sharing chilling reports about the humanitarian situation in all Yemeni regions. Nothing could be more evident than the UNICEF’s report concerning the disaster, as it says that “Every single hour, a mother and 6 children are killed throughout Yemen, and because of the maritime and airborne barbaric blockades of Yemen by the alliance, health services have completely collapsed, and it is difficult to obtain medical supplies or buy and import medicine and equipment!”

Since the war has been prolonged, it is obviously an end in itself. It uses the importation of arms, in a region that doesn’t fear any external or internal threats, as a large door for commissions and enormous profits. And with the drain of the war, all Gulf people’s properties became under the control of Western arms furnishers. The treason is now completed. On the economic side: the war caused the waste of enormous opportunities in an era where petroleum is missing its decisive influence and its incomes are declining, and on the social side: the abundant arms like a sword hanging over the heads of those who refuse to be loyal to furnishers, or think outside the box to which they are supposed to stick.

Only now, all imaginations that anyone could control Yemen over have become a well-established fact, more than being a future expectation. Today, everyone knows and conceives that the end will not be in Sanaa or Aden; but the beginning of the end will be in Jizan and Najran, and the absolute end will be in Riyadh.

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Bahrainis Rally Against Normalization Despite Crackdown

Bahrainis Rally Against Normalization Despite Crackdown

By Staff, Agencies

Bahraini protesters staged rallies across the tiny Gulf kingdom to denounce the recent agreement between the ruling Al Khalifah regime and the Zionist entity to establish full diplomatic ties.

Waving Palestinian flags and wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the northern villages of Abu Saiba and Shakhura on Friday, walking over the name of Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah in an apparent show of outrage over the normalization deal.

Protests were also held in the villages of Barbar, Karzakan, Nuwaidrat and Sehla, Salmabad town as well as Sar residential area west of the capital, Manama.

Protesters trampled ‘Israeli’ flags before they were burned along with pictures of the Bahraini king, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Banners were carried reading “Death to America, Death to ‘Israel’”, “The Bahraini Nation Rejects Normalization,” and “Bahrain is Enraged over al-Quds.”

Pictures and witness testimony indicated that regime forces were heavily present on the streets during the marches.

The rallies came as the head of the Zionist entity spy agency Mossad met Thursday with Bahraini officials to discuss topics of mutual interest and strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Bahrain’s National Intelligence Agency President Adel bin Khalifah Al Fadhel and Strategic Security Bureau Chairman Shaikh Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Khalifah welcomed Yossi Cohen upon his arrival in Manama, the official Bahrain News Agency reported.

The two sides stressed the importance of the agreement recently signed between Bahrain and the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity, saying it would pave the way for future cooperation in various fields.

Zionist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani in a US-brokered event hosted by US President Donald Trump at the White House on September 15.

The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

By Staff

The father and son relationship between Saudi King Salman and his son the Crown Prince – Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] – is at crossroads regarding the methods in which normalization with the apartheid “Israeli” entity would occur; though the sand kingdom is over its head regarding the consequences of the brutal war it waged on Yemen.

MBS is interested in a normalization with the entity, while King Salman likes the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, but the war in Yemen and threats to the Crown Prince at home are keeping them busy.

In a rare speech this week, Salman said Saudi Arabia still adheres to the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, which conditions normalization on an “Israeli” withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state. But MBS wants to speed up normalization as part of his strategic and, above all, economic vision.

In his speech, King Salman focused on regional affairs: Iran and the “Israeli”-Palestinian so-called “peace” process – though he never mentioned the “Israeli’ entity’s normalization with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Was he trying to prove that he’s still in control of his kingdom and that he still sets foreign policy? Is this an intergenerational dispute, pitting the son’s project against the father’s traditional attitudes?

Saudi Arabia’s decision-making processes are enigmatic, as are relationships among members of the royal family and the kingdom’s domestic and foreign-policy considerations.

Yet, Saudi-“Israeli” normalization – which Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser announced will be happening very soon – seemed to be delayed.

Moreover, it’s not clear whether the delay is a matter of principle – that is, until a Palestinian state arises, or at least until “Israeli”-Palestinian negotiations resume – as King Salman said, or only a temporary one, until MBS manages to persuade him.

The difference in the two royals’ positions also raises another question. Saudi Arabia has provided an umbrella for the latest “peace” deals. Not only did it not condemn them, it praised the UAE and Bahrain for taking this step, which was coordinated with MBS, and opened its airspace to flights to and from the “Israeli” entity.

Not to mention, the public opinion in Saudi Arabia for a historic turnabout in the sand kingdom’s relationship with the “Israeli” entity is being paved.

Though, one issue stays unresolved.

It’s clear that Riyadh need to make peace with Washington, either before or as part of a deal with the “Israeli” entity. The main dispute between them is the war in Yemen, which began after King Salman was crowned in 2015.

In this war, the Saudi and UAE armies have treated Yemen’s civilian population brutally and used American weapons to do so. More than 125,000 people have been martyred, including 14,000 who were killed in deliberate attacks on civilian targets.

Hence, the Saudis’ aggression on Yemen has reappeared on the Washington agenda due to a partially classified report on US involvement in the conflict written by the State Department’s inspector general. The document’s unclassified sections, which were reported in the American media, reveal the magnitude of war crimes by Saudi and Emirati forces and their mercenaries, to the point that the US faces a risk of prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

Oona Hathaway, a former Department of Defense lawyer and now a Yale professor, told The New York Times: “If I were in the State Department, I would be freaking out about my potential for liability. I think anyone who’s involved in this program should get themselves a lawyer.”

Public and international pressure led Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, to freeze an arms deal with Riyadh in 2016 as a way of pressuring the Saudis to change their tactics in Yemen. One year later, Trump reversed that decision and opened the floodgates of US arms sales to the Saudis.

To Trump, Saudi Arabia, he said, has “nothing but cash,” which it uses to buy American services, protection and other goods. Regarding the slaughter of civilians in Yemen, he said the Saudis “don’t know how to use” American weapons.

Congress didn’t believe Trump’s explanations, and in April 2019, it passed a bipartisan resolution calling for an end to US military involvement in Yemen. Trump vetoed the resolution and circumvented the ban on arms sales to Riyadh by declaring a state of emergency over Iran, which allowed him to continue complying with Saudi requests.

The US government did budget $750 million to train Saudi soldiers and pilots on fighting in populated areas, with the goal of reducing harm to civilians. It also gave the Saudis a list of 33,000 targets they shouldn’t strike. But the Saudis don’t seem to have been overly impressed, and violations continue to this day.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE understood the dangers of its involvement in the war in Yemen and withdrew its forces, overcoming the ban on selling it F-35 fighter jets and other arms. It then overcame the “Israeli” obstacle by signing this month’s so-called “peace” deal.

MBS, who started the war in Yemen along with his father, is still wallowing in the Yemeni swamp that has complicated his relationship with the US. And that’s on top of his resounding failures in managing the Kingdom’s foreign policy, like forcing then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, imposing a blockade on Qatar, waging an unsuccessful oil war with Russia that sent prices plummeting and abandoning the Palestinian issue.

Domestic issues haven’t gone that well for MBS either. His Vision 2030 is stumbling. The Kingdom’s treasury has had problems funding megalomaniac projects like his city of the future, which is supposed to involve three countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan), diversify Saudi Arabia’s sources of income and reduce its dependence on oil. So far, it remains on paper.

He did boast an impressive achievement in the war on corruption when he detained dozens of billionaires at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and shook them down, but this was more about squeezing his political rivals’ windpipes than fighting corruption.

Accordingly, MBS can only envy his friend, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed [MBZ], the UAE’s de facto ruler who extricated his country from the war in Yemen and became Washington’s darling – not only because he normalized ties with the “Israeli” entity. And above all, he isn’t surrounded by hostile relatives.

So the question arises: Did all this happen in defiance of Salman’s wishes?

MBS who according to US intelligence didn’t hesitate to put his own mother under house arrest and keep her away from his father for fear she would work against him – may also prove to be someone who doesn’t see obeying his parents as a cardinal virtue. King Salman may be able to give speeches in support of the Palestinians, but his son, as defense minister, has the power to stage a coup against his father if he thinks this will serve him or his agenda, which might yet include normalizing ties with “Israeli” entity.

متخفّيان داخل طائرة مساعدات..

دحلان وطحنون بن زايد زارا تل أبيب سرّاً.. ومعارض إماراتيّ يؤكد ذلك

كشفت صحيفة «يديعوت احرونوت» الصهيونية، أمس، عن زيارة إلى الكيان الصهيوني قام بها القيادي المفصول من حركة فتح محمد دحلان، ورئيس الاستخبارات الإماراتيّة طحنون بن زايد.

وأوضحت الصحيفة في تقرير مطوّل، أن الطائرة الإماراتية التي هبطت في مطار اللد قبل أشهر وتحمل مساعدات طبية إلى الضفة الغربية، لم تكن محملة بالمساعدات فقط بل اختبأ فيها شخصان هما محمد دحلان وطحنون بن زايد حيث أجريا محادثات مطولة جداً ولم يغادرا الطائرة.

وذكرت الكاتبة سمدار بيري، أن تلك الطائرة أحدثت توتراً كبيراً بين السلطة وبين الإمارات، حيث رفضت السلطة تسلّم الطائرة، احتجاجاً على الطريقة التي وصلت فيها الطائرة من دون تنسيق مع السلطة.

وأشارت الكاتبة الصهيونية إلى أن محمد دحلان كان له دور واضح وملموس في هندسة الاتفاق الإماراتي الصهيوني المُسمى «اتفاق إبراهيم»، منوهة إلى أنه لم يكفّ عن منافسته وانتظاره خلافة رئيس السلطة محمود عباس.

من جانبه قال المعارض الإماراتي البارز عبدالله الطويل، إن طحنون بن زايد برفقة محمد دحلان قد زارا الكيان الصهيوني سراً لوضع اللمسات الأخيرة على بنود الاتفاق الثلاثي.

وأوضح المعارض الإماراتي أن هذه الزيارة تمّت بغطاء المساعدات الإنسانية التي بعثتها الإمارات عبر تل أبيب بسبب جائحة كورونا ورفضت السلطة الفلسطينية تسلمها.

ووصفت الصحف العبرية محمد دحلان، القيادي المفصول من حركة فتح والمستشار الخاص لولي عهد أبوظبي، بـ»مستشار بن زايد السري» عشية إعلان اتفاق التطبيع، معتبرة أن «الصفقة تمّت بتعاون من دحلان، للرجل الذي يهمس في أذن حاكم الإمارات، والذي قد يتوج كخليفة لمحمود عباس رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية».

ويبدو أن كلاً من الصهاينة والأميركيين يودون مكافأة دحلان على جهوده هذه، بتحضيره لزعامة السلطة الفلسطينية بعد عباس، إذ تنقل الصحافة الصهيونيّة عن مصادر أميركية مطلعة أن الاتفاقية الثلاثية بين الولايات المتحدة وكيان الاحتلال والإمارات تتضمن عودة محمد دحلان للسلطة الفلسطينية، وأن اتفاق أبوظبي – تل أبيب يحسّن فرص محمد دحلان في «معركة الميراث»، كما أنه يحظى بدعم من مصر والأردن والإمارات والسعودية.

ويتحدث موقع i24 الصهيوني عن أن عودة دحلان «ستزيد الصراع في قيادة حركة فتح على قيادة السلطة الفلسطينية»، إذ كان دحلان منافساً لحليفه السابق في حركة فتح محمود عباس قبل أن يفرّ إلى المنفى.

وكانت تقارير سابقة قد تحدثت عن تنظيم دحلان للقاءات سرية عديدة خلال السنوات الأخيرة، بين مسؤولين إماراتيين وصهاينة، ساهمت في تطوير العلاقة بين الطرفين بشكل كبير.

ويتهم دحلان بلعب أدوار في دول عدة لصالح الإمارات، كما تتهم تركيا دحلان بالتورط في الانقلاب الفاشل لعام 2016، ولعب دور في اغتيال الصحافي السعودي جمال خاشقجي في القنصليّة السعوديّة في اسطنبول العام الماضي.

ويتهم القضاء التركي دحلان بالضلوع في محاولة الانقلاب الفاشلة، ومحاولة تغيير النظام الدستوري بالقوة، و»الكشف عن معلومات سرية حول أمن الدولة لغرض التجسس»، و»قيامه بالتجسس الدولي».

كما رصدت أنقرة مكافأة قدرها 4 ملايين ليرة تركية، لمن يدلي بمعلومات تقود إلى إلقاء القبض عليه.

Iran’s response to any move by Mossad in region will include UAE, says aide to parliament speaker

Source

September 7, 2020 – 21:50

TEHRAN – In a clear warning to the United Arab Emirates, Hussein Amir-Abdollahian, the special aide to the speaker of the Iranian Parliament on international affairs, said Iran’s response to any provocative move by the Israeli intelligence services would include the UAE.

“Since the UAE disclosed the normalization of its relations with the fake regime of Israel, Iran’s response to any overt or covert move by Israel’s Mossad spy agency or their agents in the Islamic Republic or the region will not be directed at the Zionist entity only, but the UAE will also be part of the response,” Amir-Abdollahian told al-Alam news network.

The special aide was referring to a recent U.S.-brokered normalization deal between the UAE and Israel, which was announced on August 13 during a ceremony at the White House attended by senior U.S. officials including President Donald Trump.

Under the deal, officially known as the Abraham Accords, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” according to a joint statement issued by the U.S., Israel and the UAE.

The two leaders have also “committed to the exchange of embassies and ambassadors, and to begin cooperation in a broad range of fields including education, healthcare, trade, and security,” the White House said in a statement on August 13.

Amir-Abdollahian said the UAE has not only endangered its security by cooperating with Israel, but it also has put the security of the whole region in danger, including the security of both energy supply routes and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Netanyahu has treated the leaders of the Emirates so derogatorily that he felt the entire Emirates was like a Zionist settlement that he was going to unveil. This is a humiliation that was brought about by Mohammad bin Zayed to the people of the Emirates and the people of the entire region. We strongly deplore this. And we really hope that the sages of the Emirates change tack,” Amir-Abdollahian said.
 
He also warned Saudi Arabia against cooperation with Israel, saying his warning to the UAE also applies to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis have committed a “big betrayal” to the cause of Palestine by opening their airspace to an Israeli airline to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to the UAE, Amir-Abdollahian noted, referring to the first direct commercial flight operated by the Israeli airline El Al between Israel and the UAE on August 31.


‘disintegration plot’

The special aide warned that the Israelis sought to normalize relations with Arab countries to gain broad access to Arab and Muslim countries to disintegrate the region’s countries including the UAE itself.
 
The Israelis want to carry out their “big Zionists plot,” which aims to disintegrate the region as soon as possible, said Amir-Abdollahian, adding that Israel plans to partition even a small country like the UAE.

“Saudi Arabia will conclude from its relationship with the Zionist entity that the U.S.-Zionist plots to disintegrate Saudi Arabia will be implemented faster, and there is a similar view about the UAE as well. You might say that the UAE is not a big country, but the Zionists want, through their secret plots, to divide the UAE into seven separate states or regions, and this is what they have sought to achieve in recent years against Iran, Iraq, Syria, and even Egypt and Turkey,” the Iranian official warned.

Iran has strongly criticized the UAE for deciding to sign the normalization deal with Israel to normalize ties with Tel Aviv, calling it a “strategic stupidity” and a “treason” against the Palestinians.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers this ‘shameful’ action of Abu Dhabi in normalizing ties with the fake, anti-human and illegitimate Zionist regime a dangerous action and warns about any interference of the Zionist regime in equations of the Persian Gulf region and announces that the government of the Emirates and other accompanying governments must admit responsibility for consequences of this action,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on August 14.

Iranian high-ranking officials including President Hassan Rouhani has warned the UAE against giving Israel a stronghold on Iran’s doorstep, a move that could further ratchet up tensions between Iran and the UAE.

“They thought that if they approach the Zionist regime, their security and economy would be ensured, while this is wrong and 100% condemned, and it is a clear betrayal to the Palestinian people, the cause of al-Quds and Muslims,” the presidential website quoted President Rouhani as saying, days after the UAE announced the normalization deal with Israel.

“The rulers of the United Arab Emirates should know that they have gone in the wrong direction if they think that they can buy security for themselves by getting closer to the enemies of Islam and Iran,” the president said, warning that “unfortunately, the United Arab Emirates has made a big mistake and we hope it would change its wrong tack. We warn them against giving Israel a foothold in the region, then they will be treated differently.”

In a separate warning to the UAE, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hussein Bagheri also warned that the UAE would bear the responsibility for any harm to the national interest of Iran. He said that Iran will fundamentally change its approach toward the UAE.

“Definitely, the Iranian nation’s approach towards this neighboring state [the UAE] will change fundamentally, and the Islamic Republic’s Armed Forces will also deal with that country according to different calculations,” the top general warned.

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Analyst expects Hezbollah to play a constructive role in Gov. formation

By Mohammad Mazhari

September 5, 2020 – 23:16

TEHRAN – Ghassan Javad, a Lebanese analyst, expects Hezbollah to contribute constructively information of a new government in Lebanon based on “the resistance’s understanding of the Lebanese reality and necessity of Lebanese consensus.”

On the role of Hezbollah in the next Lebanese government, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Hezbollah is a political group that has the right to be in power.

Contrary to all comments that say Hezbollah should be eliminated from the Lebanese decision-making process, the French think that the party has a meaningful social base in Lebanon.

The French push for a systematic involvement of Hezbollah in Lebanese institutions, believing that it will be in the interest of the country and other groups.

The Lebanese analyst tells the Tehran Times that Hezbollah will be a participant in the next government and will help prepare the conditions to form a national unity government.

“Of course, Hezbollah will have a constructive role in the process of forming a new government in Lebanon, based on the resistance’s understanding of the Lebanese reality and necessity of Lebanese consensus,” Javad points out.

After naming the Lebanese prime minister on August 31, Macron said in Beirut that the Lebanese political groups had pledged to form a new government headed by Mustafa Adib within 15 days.

He warned about the consequences of a failure by the Lebanese parties to fulfill what they had pledged by the end of October.

Javad underlines that it was clear that there was a great French effort to form a national unity government or national consensus government.

“This government is a salvation government, and its mission is to unify the Lebanese to contain the economic, social, financial, and political crises that we are living in,” Javad remarks.

Macron added in a press conference that he had contacted his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and international leaders to discuss ways of helping Lebanon, explaining that he felt these leaders had a will to allow Lebanon to follow its path.

In fact, Macron’s domain of activities has been very wide, starting from Iran, which was flexible in response to efforts to form a new government, and Hezbollah, which responded positively to what the French president has proposed and its willingness to cooperate based on a set of considerations.

On the other hand, some Lebanese observers believe that the French try to exploit the shock caused by the Beirut blast and take the initiative when the Americans are busy with their elections.

Javad confirms that there was a French pressure on the Lebanese factions to form a government of national unity, or at the very least, a government supported by a vast majority of political groups.

 According to Lebanese media outlets, there was a meeting between the Lebanese political blocs to reach a consensus about the next prime minister, and this matter was evident

during the visit of the French leader to Lebanon.

“In his meetings with the Lebanese politicians and officials, Macron insisted on French interests and concerns in Lebanon, pointing to French-Iranian and French-American convergence there,” the Lebanese analyst says.

Javad notes that “apparently there is no objection by the United States and regional countries to the French role on the basis of consensus at this difficult historical phase.”

Responding to a question about the possibility of a fundamental change in Lebanon’s political structure, the Lebanese analyst believes that “we need a completely new political structure, but there will be a transitional phase and preparation for the parliamentary elections.”

 “Afterwards, it is possible to talk about a move towards a new political system and a new political formula. Currently, we are in a transitional phase, and of course, Lebanon needs an internal and external consensus in order to move towards political stability,” according to Javad.

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The Collaborator’s Reward: the UAE, from Syria to Israel

By Tim Anderson

Source

Mohamad Bin Zayed Bashar Assad 9062b

What do Panama’s Manuel Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the UAE’s Mohamad Bin Zayed (MBZ) all have in common? They dreamed that their collaboration with the imperial power would allow them the freedom to pursue their own ambitions.

Very wrong. Once Noriega was employed by the CIA to betray compatriot nationalists and to be used as a tool against independent Cuba and Nicaragua, imperialism owned him. Once Saddam was armed (including with poison gas) by NATO countries to attack Revolutionary Iran and slaughter dissident Iraqis, imperialism owned him. And once MBZ collaborated with Mossad against the Palestinian resistance and armed terrorist groups against Syria, imperialism owned him.

After Noriega sought to play a more independent role in Central America the US, under Bush the First, invaded Panama killing thousands (see ‘The Panama Deception’), just to kidnap Noriega and jail him on drug trafficking charges. Saddam was not allowed to pursue his own interests in Kuwait. Instead his ambitions were used as a pretext to starve and then destroy Iraq. Saddam himself was eventually lynched, under US military occupation. MBZ, for his supposed crime of resuming relations with Syria in 2018, was forced to recognise Israel, thus becoming the new disgrace of the Arab and Muslim world. Once a collaborator is owned he is owned.

The UAE gained nothing by openly recognising the zionist regime. There was no political or economic benefit. The UAE was already collaborating deeply with Israel, as evidenced by the open access enjoyed by the Mossad team which murdered Palestinian militant Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in February 2010 (Lewis, Borger and McCarthy 2010), and later kidnapped Australian-Israeli whistle-blower Ben Zygier, after he had provided Dubai authorities with “names and pictures and accurate details” of the team, supposedly in exchange for UAE protection. However Israel kidnapped Zygier in the UAE and he later died from ‘suicide’ in an Israeli jail (Rudoran 2013).

There was no independent motive behind the disgraceful UAE move, other than fear and obedience. The Trump regime pressured and threatened MBZ into recognising Israel, just to help with its 2020 election campaign.

How do we know this? Two months before the UAE officially recognised Israel, Trump envoy James Jeffrey threatened the UAE regime for its renewed relations with Syria, which went against Trump’s subsequent ‘Caesar Act’ (MEMO 2020), a piece of legislation primarily aimed at imposing discipline on third party ‘allies’ which sought to normalise relations with Damascus.

Washington’s ‘Caesar’ law (part of an omnibus NDAA Act) pretends to authorise the US President to impose fines and confiscate the assets of those, anywhere in the world, who “support or engage in a significant transaction” with the Syrian government (SJAC 2020). It aimed at Persian Gulf allies, principally the UAE, and perhaps some Europeans who were considering renewed relations with Damascus (Anderson 2020)

As it happened, in late December 2018, the UAE resumed relations with the Syrian Government and resumed investment in the besieged country. This was despite the anti-Syrian role of the UAE in the early days of the conflict and, in particular, their backing of ISIS terrorism. That role was acknowledged by senior US officials in late 2014.

Head of the US Army General Martin Dempsey in September 2014 admitted that “major Arab allies” of the US funded ISIS (Rothman 2014). The following month US Vice President Joe Biden specified that US allies “Turkey, Qatar and the UAE had extended “billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” to all manner of fanatical Islamist fighters, including ISIS, in efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al Assad (Maskanian 2014). Biden later offered a hollow apology to the UAE for his remarks (Al Jazeera 2014). A sanitised Atlantic Council version of this history was that the UAE had backed “armed opposition groups – such as the Free Syrian Army” (Santucci 2020).

In any case, with Washington’s regime change war lost – certainly after the expanded role of Russia in Syria from September 2015 onwards – the UAE began to change tack. In November 2015 UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Anwar Gargash expressed cautious support for Russia’s role and in April 2018 he characterised the conflict as one between the Syrian Government and Islamic extremism. On 27 December the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus (Ramani 2020). Bahrain followed suit the next day. The MBZ regime claims to have provided over $530 million “to alleviate the suffering” of Syria since 2012 (Santucci 2020), though how much of this went into armed Islamist groups is unclear.

But there certainly have been some UAE-funded construction projects in Syria in recent times. No doubt wealthy UAE investors saw some opportunities in post-war reconstruction. The Emirates hosted a Syrian trade delegation in January 2019 and in August 2019 some private Emirati companies participated in the Damascus International Trade Fair (Cafiero 2020).

But in early 2020 the Trump regime passed its Caesar law, aimed at reining in its wandering ‘allies’. In June envoy James Jeffrey pointed his finger at the UAE, saying: “the UAE knows that we absolutely refuse that countries take such steps [in Syria] … we have clearly stressed that we consider this a bad idea … anyone who engages in economic activities … may be targeted by these sanctions” (MEMO 2020).

That could mean big trouble for the UAE. The Obama regime (through the US Treasury’s ‘Office of Foreign Assets Control’) had already ‘fined’ European banks more than 12 billion dollars for their business with Iran and Cuba, in breach of Washington’s unilateral coercive measures (Anderson 2019: 42).

Two months later in August the UAE’s open recognition of Israel presented the semblance of some sort of change in the region. An Atlantic Council paper hoped that might be to derail the UAE’s ‘normalization policy with Syria’ (Santucci 2020). That indeed was one part of the project: tighten the siege on the independent region: from Palestine through Lebanon, Syria and Iraq to Iran. In the process 80% of the besieged Syrian population was living in poverty, and on the brink of starvation (Cafiero 2020). This was a determined if failing strategy, set in place by Bush the Second and carried through faithfully by Obama and Trump, despite the latter’s pragmatic misgivings.

The other part of the project was to strong-arm the little petro-monarchy into boosting the Trump election campaign. The UAE’s recognition of Israel did nothing to help MBZ, but was well received in Tel Aviv (though it did not change the constellation of Resistance forces) and was skilfully presented in the USA as some sort of concession to Palestine. Yet Trump’s flimsy pretext (a ‘freeze’ on further annexations) was quickly discredited. Israeli Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said that a ‘freeze’ was in place before the UAE deal (Khalil 2020). Netanyahu maintained that further annexations were still ‘on the table’ (Al Jazeera 2020). Indeed he had announced such ‘freezes’ before (Ravid 2009).

In any case, Trump was clearly no advocate for Palestinian or Arab rights. He had broken with previous US regimes by giving his blessing to Tel Aviv’s annexation of both East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan, disregarding international law (BBC 2019). Disgraced in the region, the UAE was simply acting as Washington’s puppet. That is the collaborator’s reward.

———

References

Al Jazeera (2014) ‘Biden ‘apologises’ to UAE for ISIL remarks’, 6 October, online: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/uae-says-amazed-joe-biden-syria-remarks-20141058153239733.html

Al Jazeera (2020) ‘Netanyahu says West Bank annexation plans still ‘on the table’’, 13 August, online: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/netanyahu-west-bank-annexation-plans-table-200813183431066.html

Anderson, Tim (2019) Axis of Resistance: towards an independent Middle East, Clarity Press, Atlanta GA

Anderson, Tim (2020) ‘Trump’s ‘Caesar’ Style Siege on Syria, A Sign of Impending Regional Failure’, American Herald Tribune, 12 June, online: https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/syria-crisis/4218-trump-caesar-style-siege.html

BBC (2019) ‘Golan Heights: Trump signs order recognising occupied area as Israeli’, 25 March, online: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47697717

Cafiero, Giorgio (2020) ‘The Caesar Act and the United Arab Emirates’, TRT World, 29 June, online: https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/the-caesar-act-and-the-united-arab-emirates-37702

Khalil, Zein (2020) ‘Annexation frozen before UAE deal: Israeli minister’, 16 August, online: https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/annexation-frozen-before-uae-deal-israeli-minister/1943528

Lewis, Paul; Julian Borger and Rory McCarthy (2010) ‘Dubai murder: fake identities, disguised faces and a clinical assassination’, The Guardian, 16 February, online: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/feb/16/dubai-murder-fake-identities-hamas

Maskanian, Bahram (2014) ‘Vice President Joe Biden stated that US key allies in the Middle East were behind nurturing ISIS’, YouTube, 2 December, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25aDP7io30U

MEMO (2020) ‘US threatens UAE with Caesar Act, due to support for Assad regime’, 19 June, online: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200619-us-threatens-uae-with-caesar-act-due-to-support-for-assad-regime/

Ramani, Samuel (2020) ‘Foreign policy and commercial interests drive closer UAE-Syria ties’, Middle East Institute, 21 January online: https://www.mei.edu/publications/foreign-policy-and-commercial-interests-drive-closer-uae-syria-ties

Ravid, Barak (2009) ‘Netanyahu Declares 10-month Settlement Freeze ‘To Restart Peace Talks’’, Haaretz, 25 November, online: https://www.haaretz.com/1.5122924

Rothman, Noah (2014) ‘Dempsey: I know of Arab allies who fund ISIS’, YouTube, 16 September, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA39iVSo7XE

Rudoran, Jodi (2013) ‘Israel’s Prisoner X Is Linked to Dubai Assassination in a New Report’, New York Times, 14 February, online: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/world/middleeast/israels-prisoner-x-linked-to-dubai-assassination-in-new-report.html

Santucci, Emily (2020) ‘The Caesar Act might alter the UAE’s normalization policy with Syria’ Atlantic Council, online: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-caesar-act-might-alter-the-uaes-normalization-policy-with-syria/

SJAC (2020) ‘The Caesar Act: Impacts and Implementation’, Syria Justice and Accountability Centre’, 20 February, online: https://syriaaccountability.org/updates/2020/02/20/the-caesar-act-impacts-and-implementation/

Wolf, Albert B. (2020) ‘The UAE-Israel Agreement Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be’, Foreign Policy, 15 August, online: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/08/15/the-uae-israel-agreement-isnt-all-its-cracked-up-to-be/

UAE’s New Betrayal: “Israeli” Spy Base in Yemen’s Socotra Island

UAE’s New Betrayal: “Israeli” Spy Base in Yemen’s Socotra Island

By Staff

A Yemeni tribal leader has accused the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia of letting “Israel” onto its island of Socotra.

The revelation came in a statement by Issa Salem bin Yaqut, the chief of tribes in Socotra, who warned against undermining Yemeni sovereignty on the island and called for expelling Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Bin Yaqut also accused Riyadh and Abu Dhabi of “destroying the charming and rare environmental landmarks on Socotra Island and establishing camps amid terrible international silence.”

On Friday, South Front, an American website specialized in military and strategic research, reported on the arrival of an Emirati-“Israeli” delegation to the island, located in the Indian Ocean.

The website unveiled that the UAE and “Israel” intend to establish military and intelligence facilities there.

The creation of an “Israeli”-Emirati intelligence-gathering base on Socotra aims to monitor Iran, China and Pakistan, according to political and strategic experts.

JForum, the official site of the French-speaking Jewish community in Paris, revealed earlier that the UAE and “Israel” are working to establish a spy base there.

Socotra overlooks the strategic Bab al Mandab Strait, a main shipping route that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

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Al-Quds Mufti Quits UAE Forum Over Normalization With ‘Israel’

Al-Quds Mufti Quits UAE Forum Over Normalization With ‘Israel’

By Staff, Agencies

Grand Mufti of occupied al-Quds Sheikh Muhammad Hussein resigned from the so-called Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies [FPPMS] after the UAE-based organization issued a statement endorsing a recent normalization agreement between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.

“Normalization is a stab in the back of Palestinians and Muslims, and a betrayal for Muslim and Christian holy sites in al-Quds,” Sheikh Hussein said on Wednesday, as he announced his resignation.

It was the second such resignation in recent days. Muslim-American activist Aisha al-Adawiya also quit the FPPMS on Sunday over the organization’s statement.

Al-Adawiya stressed that the topic of normalization was never brought up at a recent board meeting and that “there was no agreement on any kind of support for the UAE’s deal with ‘Israel’.”

“As a result of this breach of trust and consistent with my values, I’m announcing my resignation,” she said in a Facebook post.

Earlier this month, the FPPMS claimed that the normalization deal “stopped ‘Israel’ from extending its sovereignty over Palestinian lands” and was a means to “promote peace and stability across the world.”

It, however, faced criticisms over the controversial statement and was forced to remove it from its platforms.

The ‘Israel’-UAE unashamed deal was announced by the White House on August 13, sparking anger among Palestinians and supporters of their cause against the ‘Israeli’ occupation.

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