Tension in Ukraine and the Turkish Straits Issue التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية

Tension in Ukraine and the Turkish Straits Issue

Ukraine tensions - Russia, USA, NATO, the Turkish Straits

 ARABI SOURI 

حسني محلي
International relations researcher and specialist in Turkish affairs

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

The Ukrainian interior, especially the border separating the west and east of the country, is witnessing a dangerous tension, which many expect will turn into hot confrontations between Ukraine backed by America and some European countries and Russia that support separatists in the east of the country, who in 2014 declared autonomy in the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

This tension acquires additional importance with the approaching date of the exercises scheduled to take place next month, with the participation of Ukrainian forces and NATO units, the largest of their kind since the fall of the Soviet Union. Moscow sees in these maneuvers, which bear the name ‘Defending Europe – 21’, as a direct threat, because they will include the Black Sea and the North Baltic Seas, which are potential hotbeds of confrontation between Russia and NATO.

All this comes as Washington continues its relentless efforts to include Ukraine and Georgia in the (NATO) alliance before the end of this year, after it included in 2004 both Bulgaria and Romania to it, in an attempt to tighten the blockade on Russia in the Black Sea, which Turkey also overlooks.

President Biden called his Ukrainian counterpart Zalinsky (a Jew and a friend of Netanyahu), and after that the contacts made by the defense and foreign ministers, the chief of staff, and the secretary-general of the US National Security Council with their Ukrainian counterparts this week, to prove the seriousness of the situation in the region, after Washington confirmed its absolute support for Ukraine in its crisis with Russia.

The Russian response to these US-Ukrainian provocations was not late, Moscow mobilized very large forces in the region, and large naval maneuvers began in the Crimea and the Krasnodar region in southeastern Ukraine and in the northern Black Sea.

The timing of the Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Shantop’s speech about President Erdogan’s powers to withdraw from the Montreux Convention gained additional importance, because it coincided with the escalation between Moscow and Washington, and sparked a new debate in the Turkish, Russian and Western streets, as 120 retired Turkish diplomats signed, and after them 103 admirals retirees, on two separate statements in which they denounced Shantop’s words, and said: ‘The withdrawal from the Montreux Agreement puts Turkey in front of new and dangerous challenges in its foreign policy, and forces it to align itself with one of the parties to the conflict in the region.

The response came quickly from Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu and Fakhruddin Altun, spokesman for President Erdogan, who accused the admirals of ‘seeking a new coup attempt. While the Public Prosecutor filed an urgent lawsuit against the signatories of the Military personnel’s statement, the leader of the National Movement Party, Devlet Bakhsali, Erdogan’s ally, demanded that they be tried and their pensions cut off. Some see this discussion as an introduction to what Erdogan is preparing for with regard to the straits and raising the level of bargaining with President Putin.

The ‘Montreux Convention’ of 1936 recognized Turkey’s ownership of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles straits while ensuring freedom of commercial navigation in them for all ships, and set strict conditions for the passage of warships owned by countries not bordering the Black Sea through these straits. Washington does not hide its dissatisfaction with this convention, and since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been planning to send the largest possible number of its warships to the Black Sea and the bases it is now seeking to establish in Bulgaria and Romania, and later Ukraine and Georgia.

With Turkey’s support for this American scheme, Russian warships will find themselves in a difficult situation en route to and from the Mediterranean. Russian diplomatic circles have considered the Istanbul channel that Erdogan seeks to split between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, parallel to the Bosphorus, as an attempt by Ankara to circumvent the ‘Montreux Convention’, so that American and (North) Atlantic warships can pass through this channel in the quantity and sizes they want, far from the conditions of the Montreux Convention.

All these facts make Turkey, directly or indirectly, an important party in the possible hot confrontations in Ukraine, given Ankara’s intertwined strategic relations with Kiev, especially in the field of war industries, especially the jet engines for drones and advanced missiles. In addition to this, the Turkish religious and national interest in the Crimea region, which Muslims make up about 15% of its population, with their bad memories during the communist Soviet rule, the ideological enemy of the Turkish state, which is the heir to the Ottoman Empire, which is the historical enemy of the Russian Empire.

Whatever the potential developments in the Ukrainian crisis and their implications for the Turkish role in the Black Sea region, with their complex calculations, Moscow and Washington (and their European allies) do not neglect their other regional and international accounts in the Mediterranean and Red Sea regions, especially with the continuation of the Syrian, Yemeni, Somali and Libyan crises, and their repercussions on the balance of power in the basins of the Straits of Hormuz, Bab el-Mandeb and the Eastern Mediterranean, where ‘Israel’ is present, which borders Jordan with its recent surprising events.

Erdogan Used 3000 Syrian Terrorists in the Nagorno Karabach Battles

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Here, the recent Russian-Iranian-Chinese moves with their various elements gain additional importance, because they disturbed and worried Western capitals, which found themselves forced, even in their last attempt, to distance Tehran from this alliance, by returning to the nuclear agreement as soon as possible.

Washington and Western capitals believe that this may help them to devote themselves to the Ukraine crisis, and then to similar issues in other regions, through which it aims to tighten the siege on Russia in its backyards in Central Asia and the Caucasus, where Georgia and Azerbaijan have direct links with Turkey.

It has become clear that, with all its geostrategic advantages, it will be the arena of competition, and perhaps direct and indirect future conflict between Washington and Moscow, as they race together to gain more positions in its arena, which supports President Erdogan’s position externally, because his accounts have become intertwined in Syria and Karabakh with Russia, and its ally Iran, it will also support his projects and plans internally to stay in power forever, thanks to US and European economic and financial support. Without this, he cannot achieve anything.

The bet remains on the content of the phone call that the Turkish president is waiting for from President Biden, for which many have written many different scenarios that will have their results reflected on the overall US-Russian competitions. This possibility will raise the bargaining ceiling between Erdogan and both Putin and Biden, whoever pays the most will win Turkey on his side or prevent it from allying with his enemy.

Intercontinental Wars – Part 3 The Open Confrontation

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Tsar Putin Brings the Sultan Wannabe Erdogan Half Way Down the Tree

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التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية

حسني محلي
باحث علاقات دولية ومختصص بالشأن التركي

حسني محلي

المصدر: الميادين نت

5 نيسان 12:08

مهما كانت التطورات المحتملة في الأزمة الأوكرانية وانعكاساتها على الدور التركي في منطقة البحر الأسود، بحساباتها المعقدة، لا تهمل موسكو وواشنطن حسابتهما الإقليمية والدولية الأخرى في منطقتي الأبيض المتوسط والأحمر.

التوتر في أوكرانيا وقضية المضائق التركية
تسعى واشنطن لضم أوكرانيا إلى حلف شمال الأطلسي

يشهد الداخل الأوكراني، وخصوصاً الحدود الفاصلة بين غرب البلاد وشرقها، توتراً خطيراً يتوقع الكثيرون أن يتحوّل إلى مواجهات ساخنة بين أوكرانيا المدعومة من أميركا وبعض الدول الأوروبية وروسيا التي تدعم الانفصاليين شرق البلاد، الذين أعلنوا في العام 2014 حكماً ذاتياً في جمهوريتي دونيتسك ولوغانسك.

يكتسب هذا التوتّر أهمية إضافية مع اقتراب موعد المناورات المقرر إجراؤها الشهر القادم، بمشاركة القوات الأوكرانية ووحدات الحلف الأطلسي، وهي الأكبر من نوعها منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي. ترى موسكو في هذه المناورات التي تحمل اسم “الدفاع عن أوروبا – 21” خطراً يستهدفها بشكلٍ مباشر، لأنّها ستشمل البحر الأسود وبحر البلطيق الشمالي، وهي ساحات المواجهة الساخنة المحتملة بين روسيا والحلف الأطلسي.

يأتي كلّ ذلك مع استمرار مساعي واشنطن الحثيثة لضم أوكرانيا وجورجيا إلى الحلف قبل نهاية العام الجاري، بعد أن ضمّت في العام 2004 كلاً من بلغاريا ورومانيا إليه، في محاولة منها لتضييق الحصار على روسيا في البحر الأسود الذي تطل تركيا أيضاً عليه.

وجاء اتصال الرئيس بايدن بنظيره الأوكراني زالينسكي (يهودي وصديق لنتنياهو)، وبعده الاتصالات التي أجراها وزراء الدفاع والخارجية ورئيس الأركان وسكرتير عام مجلس الأمن القومي الأميركي بنظرائهم الأوكرانيين خلال الأسبوع الجاري، لتثبت مدى جدية الوضع في المنطقة، بعد أن أكدت واشنطن دعمها المطلق لأوكرانيا في أزمتها مع روسيا.

لم يتأخّر الرد الروسي على هذه الاستفزازات الأميركية – الأوكرانية، فقامت موسكو بحشد قوات كبيرة جداً في المنطقة، وبدأت مناورات بحرية واسعة في شبه جزيرة القرم وإقليم كراسنودار جنوب شرق أوكرانيا وفي شمال البحر الأسود. 

وقد اكتسب التوقيت الزمني لحديث رئيس البرلمان التركي مصطفى شانتوب عن صلاحيات الرئيس إردوغان للانسحاب من اتفاقية “مونترو” أهمية إضافية، لأنه تزامن مع التصعيد بين موسكو وواشنطن، وأثار نقاشاً جديداً في الشارع التركي والروسي والغربي، إذ وقّع 120 دبلوماسياً تركياً متقاعداً، وبعدهم 103 أميرالات متقاعدين، على بيانين منفصلين استنكروا فيهما كلام شانتوب، وقالوا: “إن الانسحاب من اتفاقية “مونترو” يضع تركيا أمام تحديات جديدة وخطيرة في سياستها الخارجية، ويجبرها على الانحياز إلى أحد أطراف الصراع في المنطقة”.

جاء الرد سريعاً على لسان وزير الداخلية سليمان صويلو، وفخر الدين التون، المتحدث باسم الرئيس إردوغان، اللذين اتهما الأميرالات “بالسعي لمحاولة انقلاب جديدة”، فيما أقام وكيل النيابة العامة دعوى قضائية عاجلة ضد الموقعين على بيان العسكر، وطالب زعيم حزب الحركة القومية دولت باخشالي، حليف إردوغان، بمحاكمتهم وقطع المرتبات التقاعدية عنهم. ويرى البعض أن هذا النقاش مقدمة لما يحضّر له إردوغان في ما يتعلق بالمضائق ورفع مستوى المساومة مع الرئيس بوتين. 

وكانت اتفاقية “مونترو” للعام 1936 قد اعترفت بملكية تركيا لمضيقي البوسفور والدردنيل، مع ضمان حرية الملاحة التجارية فيهما لجميع السفن، وحددت شروطاً صارمة على مرور السفن الحربية التي تملكها الدول غير المطلة على البحر الأسود من هذه المضائق. لا تخفي واشنطن عدم ارتياحها إلى هذه الاتفاقية، وهي تخطط منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي لإرسال أكبر عدد ممكن من سفنها الحربية إلى البحر الأسود، وتسعى الآن إلى إنشاء قواعد في بلغاريا ورومانيا، ولاحقاً في أوكرانيا وجورجيا.

وبدعم تركيا لهذا المخطط الأميركي، ستجد السفن الحربية الروسية نفسها في وضع صعب في الطريق من البحر الأبيض المتوسط وإليه. وقد اعتبرت أوساط دبلوماسية روسية قناة إسطنبول التي يسعى إردوغان لشقّها بين بحر مرمرة والبحر الأسود، وبشكل موازٍ لمضيق البوسفور، محاولة من أنقرة للالتفاف على اتفاقية “مونترو”، حتى يتسنّى للسفن الحربية الأميركية والأطلسية المرور في هذه القناة بالكم والكيف اللذين تشاؤهما، بعيداً من شروط اتفاقية “مونترو”.

كل هذه المعطيات تجعل تركيا، بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر، طرفاً مهماً في المواجهات الساخنة المحتملة في أوكرانيا، نظراً إلى علاقات أنقرة الاستراتيجية المتشابكة مع كييف، وخصوصاً في مجال الصناعات الحربية، وفي مقدمتها المحركات النفاثة للطائرات المسيّرة والصواريخ المتطورة. يُضاف إلى ذلك الاهتمام التركي الديني والقومي بمنطقة القرم التي يشكل المسلمون حوالى 15% من سكّانها، مع ذكرياتهم السيّئة خلال الحكم السوفياتي الشيوعي، العدو العقائدي للدولة التركية، وهي وريثة الإمبراطورية العثمانية التي تعدّ العدو التاريخي للإمبراطورية الروسيّة.

مهما كانت التطورات المحتملة في الأزمة الأوكرانية وانعكاساتها على الدور التركي في منطقة البحر الأسود، بحساباتها المعقدة، لا تهمل موسكو وواشنطن (وحلفاؤهما الأوروبيون) حسابتهما الإقليمية والدولية الأخرى في منطقتي الأبيض المتوسط والأحمر، وخصوصاً مع استمرار الأزمات السورية واليمنية والصومالية والليبية، وانعكاساتها على موازين القوى في حوضي مضيقي هرمز وباب المندب وشرق الأبيض المتوسط، حيث تتواجد “إسرائيل” التي تحتل فلسطين المجاورة للأردن بأحداثه الأخيرة المفاجئة.

وهنا، تكتسب التحركات الروسية – الإيرانية – الصينية الأخيرة بعناصرها المختلفة أهمية إضافية، لأنها أزعجت وأقلقت العواصم الغربية التي وجدت نفسها مضطرة، ولو في محاولة أخيرة منها، إلى إبعاد طهران عن هذا التحالف، عبر العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي بأسرع ما يمكن. 

وتعتقد واشنطن والعواصم الغربية أن ذلك قد يساعدها للتفرغ لأزمة أوكرانيا، وبعدها لقضايا مماثلة في مناطق أخرى، تهدف من خلالها إلى تضييق الحصار على روسيا في حدائقها الخلفية في آسيا الوسطى والقوقاز، حيث جورجيا وأذربيجان ذات الصلة المباشرة مع تركيا. 

وقد بات واضحاً أنها، وبكل مزاياها الجيوستراتيجية، ستكون ساحة المنافسة، وربما الصراع المستقبلي المباشر وغير المباشر بين واشنطن وموسكو، وهما تتسابقان معاً لكسب المزيد من المواقع في ساحتها، وهو ما يدعم موقف الرئيس إردوغان خارجياً، لأن حساباته باتت متداخلة في سوريا وكاراباخ مع روسيا وحليفتها إيران، كما سيدعم مشاريعه ومخططاته داخلياً للبقاء في السلطة إلى الأبد، بفضل الدعم الاقتصادي والمالي الأميركي والأوروبي. ومن دون ذلك، لا يمكنه أن يحقق شيئاً.

يبقى الرهان على فحوى المكالمة الهاتفية التي ينتظرها الرئيس التركي من الرئيس بايدن، والتي كتب من أجلها الكثيرون العديد من السيناريوهات المختلفة التي ستنعكس بنتائجها على مجمل المنافسات الأميركية – الروسية. سيرفع هذا الاحتمال سقف المساومة بين إردوغان وكلٍّ من بوتين وبايدن. ومن يدفع منهم أكثر سوف يكسب تركيا إلى جانبه أو يمنعها من التحالف مع عدوه.

حتى تلك الساعة، يبدو واضحاً أن الجميع يراهن على مضمون الصفقة التي سيقترحها الرئيس بايدن على الرئيس إردوغان، وشروط الأخير للقبول بتفاصيلها أو رفضها، وهو يدري أن الرئيس بوتين يملك بدوره ما يكفيه من الأوراق لإبقاء تركيا خارج الحلبة الأميركية، حتى لا تعود، كما كانت في سنوات الحرب الباردة، سمكة عالقة في الصنارة الأميركية. 

The second coming of Ben-Gurion

Source

April 5, 2021 – 17:44

The reasons behind capsizing the Taiwanese cargo ship “Ever Given”, on the 24th of March, have become clear.

The cargo ship capsized in the Suez Canal for more than 6 days. Failing to float the ship is not the news, or that the reasons behind the accident were a human failure. But the real news behind it is the reviving of the old-new plans that were and are still alive in the dreams of the Zionist entity which is enlivening the “Ben-Gurion Canal” project. Yes, Ben-Gurion Canal has surfaced once more.

The project aims to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean through the Negev desert. The idea of digging a canal opposite the Suez Canal began in 1963. It is recommended in a memo submitted by Lawrence Livermore Patriot Laps in the United States of America. The memorandum was proposed as a response to the decision taken by President Gamal Abdel Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956. 

The memorandum suggested: In order to ensure the flow of navigation in the Red Sea, an alternative canal should be opened in the Gulf of Aqaba. It will be drilled through the Negev desert, which was described as an empty area that can be dug using nuclear bombs: Firstly, the project was halted due to the radiation that nuclear bombs could cause; and secondly due to the opposition that the project would face by the Arab countries, led by Nasser.

Today, political alliances have changed the face of the region, particularly after the implementation of the Abraham Accords by several Arab countries. Therefore, a political atmosphere is compatible. Hence, serious deliberations of the project, after the Ever-Given capsizing, provide the idea that the accident was contrived. It was intended as a new window for the return of the talks over finding an alternative to the Suez Canal. 

In principle, that the accident was premeditated is a fair assumption. In an article I previously published on the Al-Ahed website, I talked about Israel’s attempt to control and expand access to the gates of the water routes to the Mediterranean through the Abraham Accords. It was not a peace agreement. Rather, it was actually an economic treaty with Morocco, the Emirates, and Sudan. Once Oman signs it, Israel will be able to control the water routes from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Persian Gulf, and finally control the Red Sea through the upcoming Ben-Gurion Canal, which will provide enormous income for Israel.

Firstly, Israel and the United States are in dire need of the project to compensate for the severe economic contraction due to the Coronavirus pandemic and unstable conditions. The treaties were signed between Israel and the Arab countries so as to guarantee Israel’s political and economic stability, and to maintain its presence in the region.  

And secondly, the project is driven by the need to restrain the rise of the economic power of China, and to hold back its ongoing project known as “One Road, One Belt”. The Chinese project aims to build a train line that starts from the provinces of China in the west towards West Asia and secure water routes around the world. It is a multi-billion-dollar investment project. For example, before the Corona pandemic, several parties in Lebanon hosted the Chinese ambassador, who explained the benefits of the project, which will employ tens of thousands of workers, employees, and specialists along the train line, which will be used mainly to transport goods between China and Europe. Therefore, the U.S. is trying to hamper the Chinese trade route by creating an alternative route to compete with. So, the new stage of struggle will witness an economic war aiming to control seaports and global trade routes.

This American-Israeli project has overlapped with joining several agreements and draft agreements. For example, the United States and the United Arab Emirates have joined the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum as observers. And starting Monday, March 29th, the Military Cooperation Agreement between Jordan and the United States will take effect, which probably aims to find an alternative place for the American forces outside Iraq and Syria.

Thirdly, preparations are underway for the implementation of the New Levant Project, which extends from Iraq to Jordan to Palestine across the Arabian Peninsula to the Sinai Desert. The project aims to create a new trade route that does not pass through Syria and Lebanon, but rather through the New Levant lands extending from the Persian Gulf in the south to the Mediterranean in the north, and through it will pass new oil and gas pipelines from Iraq to Jordan, which will replace the Tab line.

The New Levant project might forfeit Syria’s geostrategic importance for the Americans as one of the most important global and historical trade lines between the north and the south throughout history. However, the project lost its momentum at this stage because of Israel’s drive to be part of it, which forced the Iraqi government to cease working on it.

The secrecy of the canal project’s memorandum was revealed in 1994. It was waiting in the drawers for new conditions to revive it. It seems that the capsizing of the ship was the perfect plan. The capsizing oddly coincided with the signing of the 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership between Iran and China. The current events are evidence that the need to change alliances has become inevitable in the region. This explains the economic pressure on Syria and Lebanon and the continued decline in the price of lira in the sister countries. The Americans hoped that through sanctions they would impose conditions for reconciliations with “Israel”, impose the demarcation of borders between the Palestinian and Lebanese borders to the best interest of Israel, and prevent Hezbollah and its allies from participating in the coming government. Eventually, the U.S. would have the upper hand to prevent the Chinese route from reaching its ultimate destination to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the reasons behind Biden’s escalating tone towards China and Syria were revealed once Iran and China signed the document for cooperation. The protocol also revealed the hidden options Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke of in his speech on the 18th of March.

The developments in the region may change the course of the Syrian crisis.  The “One Belt and One Road” project will not achieve its real success until it reaches the port of Latakia, or/and the port of Tripoli, if the Lebanese desire, in exchange for the ports of Haifa and Ashkelon in Palestine. However, this cannot be achieved as long as Syria is still fighting its new independence war against America and Turkey. Yet, the coming of the Chinese dragon to Iran may mark a new era. Syria constitutes one of the main disputes between China and the United States. It seems that the withdrawal of the latter to Jordan under the new military cooperation agreement has become imposed by the new coming reality. The Americans can manage from there any new conflicts in the region or prolong the life of the crisis and thus obstruct the Chinese project without any direct clashes.

The construction of the Ben-Gurion Canal may take several years. However, the project is now put into action. Thanks to “Ever Given” capsizing, the canal building is now scheduled around May 2021. It is clear now who is the main beneficiary of this calamity, which hit one of the most important global navigation points, namely the Suez Canal.

Normalization agreements were primarily aimed to expand Israeli influence over waterways. The disastrous consequences on the region are starting to be unwrapped.  The major target is going to be Egypt. Egypt’s revenue from the Suez Canal is estimated to be 8 billion dollars. Once Ben-Gurion is activated it will drop into 4 billion dollars. Egypt cannot economically tolerate the marginalization of the role of the Suez Canal as one of the most important sources of its national income, especially after the completion of the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. Confinement of the Nile water behind the water scarcity will cause the Egyptians to starve. It will have disastrous consequences on Egypt and Europe. Since the latter will receive most of the Egyptian immigrants; however, this is another story to be told.
 

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The past year began with the assassination of the Iranian military genius General Qasem Soleimani by the United States, and it ended with the murder of the prominent scholar Mohsen Fakhrizadeh by the Israelis.

Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh assassinated near Tehran -  YouTube

In early January, Iran, expecting another aggressive action from the West, accidently shot down a Ukrainian civil aircraft that had inexplicably altered its course over Tehran without request nor authorization. Around the same time, Turkey confirmed the deployment of its military in Libya, beginning a new phase of confrontation in the region, and Egypt responding with airstrikes and additional shows of force. The situation in Yemen developed rapidly: taking advantage of the Sunni coalition’s moral weakness, Ansar Allah achieved significant progress in forcing the Saudis out of the country in many regions. The state of warfare in northwestern Syria has significantly changed, transforming into the formal delineation of zones of influence of Turkey and the Russian-Iranian-Syrian coalition. This happened amid, and largely due to the weakening of U.S. influence in the region. Ankara is steadily increasing its military presence in the areas under its responsibility and along the contact line. It has taken measures to deter groups linked to Al-Qaeda and other radicals. As a result, the situation in the region is stabilizing, which has allowed Turkey to increasingly exert control over most of Greater Idlib.

ISIS cells remain active in the eastern and southern Syrian regions. Particular processes are taking place in Quneitra and Daraa provinces, where Russian peace initiatives were inconclusive by virtue of the direct destructive influence of Israel in these areas of Syria. In turn, the assassination of Qasem Soleimaniin resulted in a sharp increase in the targeting of American personnel, military and civil infrastructure in Iraq. The U.S. Army was forced to regroup its forces, effectively abandoning a number of its military installations and concentrating available forces at key bases. At the same time, Washington flatly rejected demands from Baghdad for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and promised to respond with full-fledged sanctions if Iraq continued to raise this issue. Afghanistan remains stable in its instability. Disturbing news comes from Latin America. Confrontation between China and India flared this year, resulting in sporadic border clashes. This situation seems far from over, as both countries have reinforced their military posture along the disputed border. The aggressive actions of the Trump administration against China deepen global crises, which has become obvious not only to specialists but also to the general public. The relationship between the collective West and the Russian Federation was re-enshrined in “the Cold War state”, which seems to have been resurrected once again.

The turbulence of the first quarter of 2020 was overshadowed by a new socio-political process – the corona-crisis, the framework of which integrates various phenomena from the Sars-Cov2 epidemic itself and the subsequent exacerbation of the global economic crisis.  The disclosure of substantial social differences that have accumulated in modern capitalist society, lead to a series of incessant protests across the globe. The year 2020 was accompanied by fierce clashes between protesters professing various causes and law enforcement forces in numerous countries. Although on the surface these societal clashes with the state appear disassociated, many share related root causes. A growing, immense wealth inequality, corruption of government at all levels, a lack of any meaningful input into political decision making, and the unmasking of massive censorship via big tech corporations and the main stream media all played a part in igniting societal unrest.

In late 2019 and early 2020 there was little reason for optimistic projections for the near future. However, hardly anyone could anticipate the number of crisis events and developments that had taken place during this year. These phenomena affected every region of the world to some extent.

Nevertheless, Middle East has remained the main source of instability, due to being an arena where global and regional power interests intertwine and clash. The most important line of confrontation is between US and Israel-led forces on the one hand, and Iran and its so called Axis of Resistance. The opposing sides have been locked in an endless spiral of mutual accusations, sanctions, military incidents, and proxy wars, and recently even crossed the threshold into a limited exchange of strikes due to the worsening state of regional confrontation. Russia and Turkey, the latter of which has been distancing itself from Washington due to growing disagreements with “NATO partners” and changes in global trends, also play an important role in the region without directly entering into the confrontation between pro-Israel forces and Iran.

As in the recent years, Syria and Iraq remain the greatest hot-spots. The destruction of ISIS as a terrorist state and the apparent killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not end its existence as a terror group. Many ISIS cells and supporting elements actively use regional instability as a chance to preserve the Khalifate’s legacy. They remain active mainly along the Syria-Iraq border, and along the eastern bank of the Euphrates in Syria. Camps for the temporary displaced and for the families and relatives of ISIS militants on the territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in north-eastern Syria are also breeding grounds for terrorist ideology. Remarkably, these regions are also where there is direct presence of US forces, or, as in the case of SDF camps, presence of forces supported by the US.

The fertile soil for radicalism also consists of the inability to reach a comprehensive diplomatic solution that would end the Syrian conflict in a way acceptable to all parties. Washington is not interesting in stabilizing Syria because even should Assad leave, it would strengthen the Damascus government that would naturally be allied to Russia and Iran. Opposing Iran and supporting Israel became the cornerstone of US policy during the Trump administration. Consequently, Washington is supporting separatist sentiments of the Kurdish SDF leadership and even allowed it to participate in the plunder of Syrian oil wells in US coalition zone of control in which US firms linked to the Pentagon and US intelligence services are participating. US intelligence also aids Israel in its information and psychological warfare operations, as well as military strikes aimed at undermining Syria and Iranian forces located in the country. In spite of propaganda victories, in practice Israeli efforts had limited success in 2020 as Iran continued to strengthen its positions and military capabilities on its ally’s territory. Iran’s success in establishing and supporting a land corridor linking Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iraq, plays an important role. Constant expansion of Iran’s military presence and infrastructure near the town of al-Bukamal, on the border of Iraq and Syria, demonstrates the importance of the project to Tehran. Tel-Aviv claims that Iran is using that corridor to equip pro-Iranian forces in southern Syria and Lebanon with modern weapons.

The Palestinian question is also an important one for Israel’s leadership and its lobby in Washington. The highly touted “deal of the century” turned out to be no more than an offer for the Palestinians to abandon their struggle for statehood. As expected, this initiative did not lead to a breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Rather the opposite, it gave an additional stimulus to Palestinian resistance to the demands that were being imposed. At the same time, Trump administration scored a diplomatic success by forcing the UAE and Bahrain to normalize their relations with Israel, and Saudi Arabia to make its collaboration with Israel public. That was a historic victory for US-Israel policy in the Middle East. Public rapprochement of Arab monarchies and Israel strengthened the positions of Iran as the only country which not only declares itself as Palestine’s and Islamic world’s defender, but actually puts words into practice. Saudi Arabia’s leadership will particularly suffer in terms of loss of popularity among its own population, already damaged by the failed war in Yemen and intensifying confrontation with UAE, both of which are already using their neighbor’s weakness to lay a claim to leadership on the Arabian Peninsula.

The list of actors strengthening their positions in the Red Sea includes Russia. In late 2020 it became known that Russia reached an agreement with Sudan on establishing a naval support facility which has every possibility to become a full-blown naval base. This foothold will enable the Russian Navy to increase its presence on key maritime energy supply routes on the Red Sea itself  and in the area between Aden and Oman straits. For Russia, which has not had naval infrastructure in that region since USSR’s break-up, it is a significant diplomatic breakthrough. For its part. Sudan’s leadership apparently views Russia’s military presence as a security factor allowing it to balance potential harmful measures by the West.

During all of 2020, Moscow and Beijing continued collaboration on projects in Africa, gradually pushing out traditional post-colonial powers in several key areas. The presence of Russian military specialists in the Central African Republic where they assist the central government in strengthening its forces, escalation of local conflicts, and ensuring the security of Russian economic sectors, is now a universally known fact. Russian diplomacy and specialists are also active in Libya, where UAE and Egypt which support Field Marshal Khaftar, and Turkey which supports the Tripoli government, are clashing. Under the cover of declarations calling for peace and stability, foreign actors are busily carving up Libya’s energy resources. For Egypt there’s also the crucial matter of fighting terrorism and the presence of groups affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood which Cairo sees as a direct threat to national security.

The Sahel and the vicinity of Lake Chad remain areas where terror groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS remain highly active. France’s limited military mission in the Sahara-Sahel region has been failure and could not ensure sufficient support for regional forces in order to stabilize the situation. ISIS and Boko-Haram continue to spread chaos in the border areas between Niger, Nigeria, Cameroun, and Chad. In spite of all the efforts by the region’s governments, terrorists continue to control sizable territories and represent a significant threat to regional security. The renewed conflict in Ethiopia is a separate problem, in which the federal government was drawn into a civil war against the National Front for the Liberation of Tigray controlling that province. The ethno-feudal conflict between federal and regional elites threatens to destabilize the entire country if it continues.

The explosive situation in Africa shows that post-colonial European powers and the “Global Policeman” which dominated that continent for decades were not interested in addressing the continent’s actual problem. Foreign actors were mainly focused on extracting resources and ensuring the interests of a narrow group of politicians and entities affiliated with foreign capitals. Now they are forced to compete with the informal China-Russia bloc which will use a different approach that may be a described as follows: Strengthening of regional stability to protect investments in economic projects. Thus it is no surprise that influential actors are gradually losing to new but more constructive forces.

Tensions within European countries have been on the rise during the past several years, due to both the crisis of the contemporary economic paradigm and to specific regional problems such as the migration crises and the failure of multiculturalism policies, with subsequent radicalization of society.

Unpleasant surprises included several countries’ health care and social protection networks’ inability to cope with the large number of COVID-19 patients. Entire systems of governance in a number of European countries proved incapable of coping with rapidly developing crises. This is true particularly for countries of southern Europe, such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Among eastern European countries, Hungary’s and Romania’s economies were particularly badly affected. At the same time, Poland’s state institutions and economy showed considerable resilience in the face of crisis. While the Federal Republic of Germany suffered considerable economic damage in the second quarter of 2020, Merkel’s government used the situation to inject huge sums of liquidity into the economy, enhanced Germany’s position within Europe, and moreover Germany’s health care and social protection institutions proved capable and sufficiently resilient.

Coronavirus and subsequent social developments led to the emergence of the so-called “Macron Doctrine” which amounts to an argument that EU must obtain strategic sovereignty. This is consistent with the aims of a significant portion of German national elites. Nevertheless, Berlin officially criticized Macron’s statements and has shown willingness to enter into a strategic partnership with Biden Administration’s United States as a junior partner. However, even FRG’s current leadership understands the dangers of lack of strategic sovereignty in an era of America’s decline as the world policeman. Against the backdrop of a global economic crisis, US-EU relations are ineluctably drifting from a state of partnership to one of competition or even rivalry. In general, the first half of 2020 demonstrated the vital necessity of further development of European institutions.

The second half of 2020 was marked by fierce mass protests in Germany, France, Great Britain, and other European countries. The level of violence employed by both the protesters and law enforcement was unprecedented and is not comparable to the level of violence seen during protests in Russia, Belarus, and even Kirgizstan. Mainstream media did their best to depreciate and conceal the scale of what was happening. If the situation continues to develop in the same vein, there is every chance that in the future, a reality that can be described as a digital concentration camp may form in Europe.

World media, for its part, paid particular attention to the situation in Belarus, where protests have entered their fourth month following the August 9, 2020 presidential elections. Belarusian protests have been characterized by their direction from outside the country and choreographed nature. The command center of protest activities is officially located in Poland. This fact is in and of itself unprecedented in Europe’s contemporary history. Even during Ukraine’s Euromaidan, external forces formally refused to act as puppetmasters.

Belarus’ genuinely existing socio-economic problems have led to a rift within society that is now divided into two irreconcilable camps: proponents of reforms vs. adherents of the current government. Law enforcement forces which are recruited from among President Lukashenko’s supporters, have acted forcefully and occasionally harshly. Still, the number of casualties is far lower than, for example, in protests in France or United States.

Ukraine itself, where Western-backed “democratic forces” have already won, remains the main point of instability in Eastern Europe. The Zelenskiy administration came to power under slogans about the need to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine and rebuild the country. In practice, the new government continued to pursue the policy aimed at maintaining military tension in the region in the interests of its external sponsors and personal enrichment.

For the United States, 2020 turned out to be a watershed year for both domestic and foreign policy. Events of this year were a reflection of Trump Administration’s protectionist foreign policy and a national-oriented approach in domestic and economic policy, which ensured an intense clash with the majority of Washington Establishment acting in the interests of global capital.

In addition to the unresolved traditional problems, America’s problems were made worse by two crises, COVID-19 spread and BLM movement protests. They ensured America’s problems reached a state of critical mass.

One can and should have a critical attitude toward President Trump’s actions, but one should not doubt the sincerity of his efforts to turn the slogan Make America Great Again into reality. One should likewise not doubt that his successor will adhere to other values. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter or Make Global Moneymen Even Stronger, or Russia Must Be Destroyed, or something even more exotic, it will not change the fact America we’ve known in the last half century died in 2020. A telling sign of its death throes is the use of “orange revolution” technologies developed against inconvenient political regimes. This demonstrated that currently the United States is ruled not by national elites but by global investors to whom the interests of ordinary Americans are alien.

This puts the terrifying consequences of COVID-19 in a new light. The disease has struck the most vulnerable layers of US society. According to official statistics, United States has had about 20 million cases and over 330,000 deaths. The vast majority are low-income inhabitants of mega-cities. At the same time, the wealthiest Americans have greatly increased their wealth by exploiting the unfolding crisis for their own personal benefit. The level of polarization of US society has assumed frightening proportions. Conservatives against liberals, blacks against whites, LGBT against traditionalists, everything that used to be within the realm of public debate and peaceful protest has devolved into direct, often violent, clashes. One can observe unprecedented levels of aggression and violence from all sides.

In foreign policy, United States continued to undermine the international security system based on international treaties. There are now signs that one of the last legal bastions of international security, the New START treaty, is under attack. US international behavior has prompted criticism from NATO allies. There are growing differences of opinion on political matters with France and economic ones with Germany. The dialogue with Eastern Mediterranean’s most powerful military actor Turkey periodically showed a sharp clash of interests.

Against that backdrop, United States spent 2020 continuously increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea basin. Additional US forces and assets were deployed in direct proximity to Russia’s borders. The number of offensive military exercises under US leadership or with US participation has considerably increased.

In the Arctic, the United States is acting as a spoiler, unhappy with the current state of affairs. It aims to extend its control over natural resources in the region, establish permanent presence in other countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ) through the use of the so-called “freedom of navigation operations” (FONOPs), and continue to encircle Russia with ballistic missile defense (BMD) sites and platforms.

In view of the urgent and evident US preparations to be able to fight and prevail in a war against a nuclear adversary, by defeating the adversary’s nuclear arsenal through the combination of precision non-nuclear strikes, Arctic becomes a key region in this military planning. The 2020 sortie by a force of US Navy BMD-capable AEGIS destroyers into the Barents Sea, the first such mission since the end of the Cold War over two decades ago, shows the interest United States has in projecting BMD capabilities into regions north of Russia’s coastline, where they might be able to effect boost-phase interceptions of Russian ballistic missiles that would be launched in retaliatory strikes against the United States. US operational planning for the Arctic in all likelihood resembles that for South China Sea, with only a few corrections for climate.

In Latin America, the year of 2020 was marked by the intensification of Washington efforts aimed at undermining the political regimes that it considered to be in the opposition to the existing world order.

Venezuela remained one of the main points of the US foreign policy agenda. During the entire year, the government of Nicolas Maduro was experiencing an increasing sanction, political and clandestine pressure. In May, Venezuelan security forces even neutralized a group of US mercenaries that sneaked into the country to stage the coup in the interests of the Washington-controlled opposition and its public leader Juan Guaido. However, despite the recognition of Guaido as the president of Venezuela by the US and its allies, regime-change attempts, and the deep economic crisis, the Maduro government survived.

This case demonstrated that the decisive leadership together having the support of a notable part of the population and working links with alternative global centers of power could allow any country to resist to globalists’ attacks. The US leadership itself claims that instead of surrendering, Venezuela turned itself into a foothold of its geopolitical opponents: China, Russia, Iran and even Hezbollah. While this evaluation of the current situation in Venezuela is at least partly a propaganda exaggeration to demonize the ‘anti-democratic regime’ of Maduro, it highlights parts of the really existing situation.

The turbulence in Bolivia ended in a similar manner, when the right wing government that gained power as a result of the coup in 2019 demonstrated its inability to rule the country and lost power in 2020. The expelled president, Evo Morales, returned to the country and the Movement for Socialism secured their dominant position in Bolivia thanks to the wide-scale support from the indigenous population. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that these developments in Venezuela and Bolivia would allow to reverse the general trend towards the destabilization in South America.

The regional economic and social turbulence is strengthened by the high level of organized crime and the developing global crisis that sharpened the existing contradictions among key global and regional players. This creates conditions for the intensification of existing conflicts. For example, the peace process between the FARC and the federal government is on the brink of the collapse in Colombia. Local sources and media accuse the government and affiliated militias of detentions and killings of leaders of local communities and former FARC members in violation of the existing peace agreement. This violence undermine the fragile peace process and sets conditions for the resumption of the armed struggle by FARC and its supporters. Mexico remains the hub for illegal migration, drug and weapon trafficking just on the border with the United States. Large parts of the country are in the state of chaos and are in fact controlled by violent drug cartels and their mercenaries. Brazil is in the permanent state of political and economic crisis amid the rise of street crime.

These negative tendencies affect almost all states of the region. The deepening global economic crisis and the coronavirus panic add oil to the flame of instability.

Countries of South America are not the only one suffering from the crisis. It also shapes relations between global powers. Outcomes of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and the global economic crisis contributed to the hardening of the standoff between the United States and China.

Washington and Beijing have insoluble contradictions. The main of them is that China has been slowly but steadily winning the race for the economic and technological dominance simultaneously boosting own military capabilities to defend the victory in the case of a military escalation. The sanction, tariff and diplomatic pressure campaign launched by the White House on China since the very start of the Trump Presidency is a result of the understanding of these contradictions by the Trump administration and its efforts to guarantee the leading US position in the face of the global economic recession. The US posture towards the South China Sea issues, the political situation in Hong Kong, human rights issues in Xinjiang, the unprecedented weapon sales to Taiwan, the support of the militarization of Japan and many other questions is a part of the ongoing standoff. Summing up, Washington has been seeking to isolate China through a network of local military alliances and contain its economic expansion through sanction, propaganda and clandestine operations.

The contradictions between Beijing and Washington regarding North Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs are a part of the same chain of events. Despite the public rhetoric, the United States is not interested in the full settlement of the Korea conflict. Such a scenario that may include the reunion of the North and South will remove the formal justification of the US military buildup. This is why the White House opted to not fulfill its part of the deal with the North once again assuring the North Korean leadership that its decision to develop its nuclear and missile programs and further.

Statements of Chinese diplomats and top official demonstrate that Beijing fully understands the position of Washington. At the same time, China has proven that it is not going to abandon its policies aimed at gaining the position of the main leading power in the post-unipolar world. Therefore, the conflict between the sides will continue escalating in the coming years regardless the administration in the White House and the composition of the Senate and Congress. Joe Biden and forces behind his rigged victory in the presidential election will likely turn back from Trump’s national-oriented economic policy and ‘normalize’ relations with China once again reconsidering Russia as Enemy #1. This will not help to remove the insoluble contradictions with China and reverse the trend towards the confrontation. However, the Biden administration with help from mainstream media will likely succeed in hiding this fact from the public by fueling the time-honored anti-Russian hysteria.

As to Russia itself, it ended the year of 2020 in its ordinary manner for the recent years: successful and relatively successful foreign policy actions amid the complicated economic, social and political situation inside the country. The sanction pressure, coronavirus-related restrictions and the global economic crisis slowed down the Russian economy and contributed to the dissatisfaction of the population with internal economic and social policies of the government. The crisis was also used by external actors that carried out a series of provocations and propaganda campaigns aimed at undermining the stability in the country ahead of the legislative election scheduled for September 2021. The trend on the increase of sanction pressure, including tapering large infrastructure projects like the Nord Stream 2, and expansion of public and clandestine destabilization efforts inside Russia was visible during the entire year and will likely increase in 2021. In the event of success, these efforts will not only reverse Russian foreign policy achievements of the previous years, but could also put in danger the existence of the Russian statehood in the current format.

Among the important foreign policy developments of 2020 underreported by mainstream media is the agreement on the creation of a Russian naval facility on the coast of the Red Sea in Sudan. If this project is fully implemented, this will contribute to the rapid growth of Russian influence in Africa. Russian naval forces will also be able to increase their presence in the Red Sea and in the area between the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. Both of these areas are the core of the current maritime energy supply routes. The new base will also serve as a foothold of Russia in the case of a standoff with naval forces of NATO member states that actively use their military infrastructure in Djibouti to project power in the region. It is expected that the United States (regardless of the administration in the White House) will try to prevent the Russian expansion in the region at any cost. For an active foreign policy of Russia, the creation of the naval facility in Sudan surpasses all public and clandestine actions in Libya in recent years. From the point of view of protecting Russian national interests in the Global Oceans, this step is even more important than the creation of the permanent air and naval bases in Syria.

As well as its counterparts in Washington and Beijing, Moscow contributes notable efforts to the modernization of its military capabilities, with special attention to the strategic nuclear forces and hypersonic weapons. The Russians see their ability to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential enemy among the key factors preventing a full-scale military aggression against them from NATO. The United Sates, China and Russia are in fact now involved in the hypersonic weapon race that also includes the development of means and measures to counter a potential strike with hypersonic weapons.

The new war in Nagorno-Karabakh became an important factor shaping the balance of power in the South Caucasus. The Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc achieved a sweeping victory over Armenian forces and only the involvement of the Russian diplomacy the further deployment of the peacekeepers allowed to put an end to the violence and rescue the vestiges of the self-proclaimed Armenian Republic of Artsakh. Russia successfully played a role of mediator and officially established a military presence on the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan for the next 5 years. The new Karabakh war also gave an additional impulse in the Turkish-Azerbaijani economic and military cooperation, while the pro-Western regime in Armenia that expectedly led the Armenian nation to the tragedy is balancing on the brink of collapse.

The Central Asia traditionally remained one of the areas of instability around the world with the permanent threat of militancy and humanitarian crisis. Nonetheless, despite forecasts of some analysis, the year of 2020 did not become the year of the creation of ISIS’ Caliphate 2.0 in the region. An important role in preventing this was played by the Taliban that additionally to securing its military victories over the US-led coalition and the US-backed Kabul government, was fiercely fighting ISIS cells appearing in Afghanistan. The Taliban, which controls a large part of Afghanistan, was also legalized on the international scene by direct talks with the United States. The role of the Taliban will grow and further with the reduction of the US military presence.

While some media already branded the year of 2020 as one of the worst in the modern history, there are no indications that the year of 2021 will be any brighter or the global crises and regional instability will magically disappear by themselves. Instead, most likely 2020 was just a prelude for the upcoming global shocks and the acute standoff for markets and resources in the environment of censorship, legalized total surveillance, violations of human rights under ‘democratic’ and ‘social’ slogans’ and proxy wars.

The instability in Europe will likely be fueled by the increasing cultural-civilizational conflict and the new wave of newcomers that have acute ideological and cultural differences with the European civilization. The influx of newcomers is expected due to demographic factors and the complicated security, social situation in the Middle East and Africa. Europe will likely try to deal with the influx of newcomers by introducing new movement and border restrictions under the brand of fighting coronavirus. Nonetheless, the expected growth of the migration pressure will likely contribute to the negative tendencies that could blow up Europe from inside.

The collapse of the international security system, including key treaties limiting the development and deployment of strategic weapons, indicates that the new detente on the global scene will remain an improbable scenario. Instead, the world will likely move further towards the escalation scenario as at least a part of the current global leadership considers a large war a useful tool to overcome the economic crisis and capture new markets. Russia, with its large territories, rich resources, a relatively low population, seems to be a worthwhile target. At the same time, China will likely exploit the escalating conflict between Moscow and the US-led bloc to even further increase its global positions. In these conditions, many will depend on the new global order and main alliances within it that are appearing from the collapsing unipolar system. The United States has already lost its unconditional dominant role on the international scene, but the so-called multipolar world order has not appeared yet. The format of this new multipolar world will likely have a critical impact on the further developments around the globe and positions of key players involved in the never-ending Big Game.

FM: Zionists’ Interests in the Red Sea will be Legitimate Targets to Yemeni Forces

FM: Zionists' Interests in the Red Sea will be Legitimate Targets to Yemeni Forces

News – Yemen: An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on what was stated by the spokesman of the Zionist army, in which he said that “the Zionists are monitoring the situation in Yemen.”

The source told the Yemen news agency, Saba, that “the Zionist entity should bother with monitoring its own situation in the occupied territory, Palestine, rather than threatening the Islamic region in the Middle East with a lightning war.”

The source added, “The Zionist entity has no business whit the situation in Yemen,” warning that “any reckless action of the Zionist entity in the region would spark a comprehensive war, and Israel would be the first to lose.”

He pointed out that the Israeli enemy seeks to fabricate excuses for hostile actions and movements through which it tries to cover up its continuous aggression against the Palestinian people.

The source added, “if the Zionist entity makes any reckless move or action that affects Yemen, then any interests of this entity or its partners in the Red Sea will be a legitimate target.”

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CURSE OF SAUDIS: TANKER EXPLOSIONS AND OTHER UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

South Front

A series of unfortunate events linked to the Saudi invasion in Yemen continues to pursue the Kingdom.

On December 14, an explosion hit the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine, a chemical tanker hauling gasoline, off the Saudi port city of Jeddah, which is also known as the distribution center for oil giant Saudi Aramco. The BW Group said that the explosion erupted after the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine was hit by “an external source”, but all 22 sailors on board received no injures. Later, Saudi media claimed that the explosion was caused by an attack with a water-born improvised explosive device. At the time of the attack, the ship was carrying more than 60,000 metric tons of gasoline from the Aramco refinery at Yanbu.

This is not the first attack in the Red Sea waters attributed to the Houthis. About three weeks ago, on November 25, a Greek-managed oil tanker was damaged in a WBIED attack on the Saudi petroleum terminal located near Jeddah. A few days earlier, on November 23, the Houthis struck the Jeddah distribution station with a Quds-2 cruise missile.

The developments in the Red Sea, one of the key areas of global maritime transportation of energy resources, come amid the increase in tensions between Iran and the US-Israeli bloc.

On November 27, the top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in an apparent US-Israeli plot outside of Tehran. This move contributed to the growth of tensions and Iran, expecting even more attacks before President Trump leaves office, even reinforced its defenses on the coast of the Persian Gulf. The Iranian leadership also promised to avenge the assassination. The increase of attacks on US-Israeli interests and their allies in the region is likely a part of this asymmetric response.

On December 14, Israeli media also reported a large-scale cyberattack on 40 Israeli firms working in the financial, technology and logistics sectors. On December 13, a “sophisticated hacking group backed by a foreign government” allegedly committed a cyber attack and stole information from the U.S. Treasury Department and a U.S. agency responsible for deciding policy reguarding the internet and telecommunications, according to reports in mainstream media. US “anonymous sources” expectedly accused the Russians, but there are more candidates.

In the coming weeks tensions will likely continue to grow in the Greater Middle East, as the United States and Israel are working to secure their recent diplomatic breakthroughs and are taking active steps to entrench the legacy of the 4 years of the Trump presidency.

SAUDI ARABIA FELLS VICTIM TO EXCHANGE OF ASYMMETRICAL STRIKES BETWEEN IRAN AND ISRAEL

South Front

In the Middle East the Houthi-Iranian alliance continues to harass forces of the Saudi-Israeli-US bloc with renewed vigour.

On November 25, a Greek-managed oil tanker was damaged in an attack on a Saudi petroleum terminal located near the Red Sea city of Jeddah. Col. Turki Al-Malki, a spokesman for the coalition, said the tanker was hit by shrapnel resulting from an attack by the Yemeni Houthis using a water-born improvised explosive device. The spokesman claimed that the WBIED was intercepted. Nevertheless, the tanker’s operator, the Athens-based TMS Tankers, said the Maltese-flagged Agrari received a direct hit.

“The Agrari was struck about one meter above the waterline and has suffered a breach,” the company said in a statement. “It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries. No pollution has been reported. The vessel is in ballast condition and stable.”

The Saudi Ministry of Energy said firefighters had extinguished a fire that had erupted after the attack. A spokesman for the ministry stressed that Aramco’s fuel supplies to its customers were not affected by the incident. At the same time, satellite images show a large oil spill off the shores of Jeddah’s terminal.

The Houthis (also known as Ansar Allah) have not claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the usage of WBIEDs by the movement was widely documented in the previous years of war.

Just a few days ago, on November 23, the Houthis struck a Saudi Aramco oil company distribution station near Jeddah with a Quds-2 cruise missile. According to the Yemeni movement, the missile was developed and produced by its Missile Forces. Nonetheless, the Houthi successes in missile and drone development during a total naval and air blockade would hardly be possible without Iranian help.

In these conditions, it is interesting to look at the timeframe of the Houthi strikes on Saudi Arabia. The movement says that its strikes on Saudi military and oil infrastructure are retaliatory actions to regular acts of Saudi aggression against Yemen, including airstrikes on civilian targets. Years after the ‘victorious’ Saudi intervention in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition has still not been able to even reach the country’s capital. So, the Kingdom uses its air dominance to punish the Yemenis for their own setbacks on the battleground. However, it seems that there is one more factor motivating the Houthis. Both recent attacks on Saudi Arabia took place after Israeli strikes on Iranian-affiliated targets in Syria.

Here is the timeframe: On November 18, the Israeli Air Force struck the countryside of Damascus and the south of Syria. On November 23, a cruise missile hit the Saudi Aramco distribution station near Jeddah. Early on November 25, the Israeli military once again launched missiles at Iranian targets near Damascus and in the south. Later on the same day, a WBIED targeted a Saudi terminal off the Red Sea. The slightly delayed response to the November 18 strike could be explained by the fact that the Houthi-Iranian alliance needed a few days to prepare for the resumption of actions against Saudi targets, which were on a relative decrease in the preceding months due to the Houthi focus on the ground offensive in the Yemeni province of Marib and nearby areas. As to Iranian sources, they  are as expected denying any links between Israeli strikes on Syria and missiles, drones and WBIEDs  targetting Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, the Kingdom’s role as lamb to the slaughter in the ongoing regional standoff between Iranian-led forces and the Israeli-US bloc is not news to independent observers. Saudi Arabia predetermined its current position with its own launching of the failed military intervention in Yemen and by actively aligning itself with Israel in both public and clandestine dimensions.

Rocking the boat – Sudan

Rocking the boat – Sudan

November 20, 2020

by Nat South for the Saker Blog

Not the trendiest of breaking news, swamped by the turmoil of the U.S. Elections, but the Russian government announced (1) work under progress on a draft agreement (2) for setting up of a naval logistics hub (in Russian – see map) in Port Sudan.

This announcement is bound to make Western Russia ‘watchers’ twitch, others laugh at the location, (not exactly Havana’s bustle of the Soviet era), and some pundits may have another severe bout of futile angst. This piece of news will not make waves and certainly will not make a difference to either the U.S. or NATO member countries, particularly as the U.S. has an overwhelming number of military bases dotted around the world. Essentially, the one Russian naval base will be a drop in the ocean. Having said that, it will be highly significant incremental increase in Russian naval power, to have a warm water base to call in, a bit closer to the Indian Ocean, which will free the Russian Navy of a number of constraints:

  1. limited scope and length of dedicated maritime missions (e.g. Horn of Africa anti-piracy, Indian Ocean);
  2. limited inter-fleet missions across the board, (Northern, Black and Baltic Fleets)
  3. need or wish to call into Cyprus, Malta or Ceuta if the political situation doesn’t allow it;
  4. making unnecessary transit passages across the Mediterranean Sea to home ports.

The issue of a Russian warm water naval base has been mooted both by the Russian government and also other governments many times before for two decades, from discussions in 2002 for a presence in Djibouti, to an offer by the Somaliland government earlier in 2020.

The quest for a presence in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden region has regularly featured in news articles. After many years of rumours, tentative discussions & clickbait type of articles suggesting that Russia was going to create a naval base in various countries, (Lebanon, Libya, Mozambique, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela) finally some preliminary confirmation that the first candidate is in fact set to be Sudan.

The need for naval bases overseas started in earnest with the arrival of coal powered ships, with the development of strategic coaling stations for navies such as the UK, Germany and France. This then transformed into oil depots, logistics and maintenance bases. All of which ensures a wider footprint of naval power.

The Soviet Union was no exception to this rule, with a whole host of overseas bases in which to call in: from Cienfuegos, (Cuba), Egypt, Libya, Tartus (Syria), and also took over Cam Ranh from the U.S., 1979 – 2002 (Vietnam), amongst others. Some historical insights are given in this RT article. In particular, the Soviet Navy had a presence, in the Red Sea region for several decades, under the remit of the 8th Squadron:

Logistics bases: Berbera:1964 -1977 (Somalia); Dahlak:1977-1991 (Ethiopia)

Port or mooring locations: Al Hudaydah & Socotra (Yemen).

Other than Tartus, the Russian Navy does not currently have dedicated overseas bases. The creation of the Sudanese bases will thus the first new Russian base situated in Africa after the fall of the Soviet Union. By re-establishing a presence regionally, Russia will nevertheless have a tiny footprint compared to that of the U.S. Navy or even the PLA(N).

So why the Red Sea, firstly it is an internationally important transit for commercial traffic, notably oil and gas shipments (to Europe & the U.S.). To put this into context, according to the U.S. EIA: “In 2018, an estimated 6.2 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil, condensate, and refined petroleum products flowed through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait toward Europe, the United States, and Asia”

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=41073

Although the Russian LNG exports to Asia mostly to go through the Northern Sea Route, there are certain shipments of Russian oil and LNG that also transits through the Red Sea, especially in winter. Secondly, a significant amount of international container volumes passes through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Similarly, the Russian Navy in 2020 has escorted several ships connected to the Nord Stream 2 project. Although the pipe-laying vessel Akademik Cherskiy went round the cape of Good Hope (due the height of the crane), a Baltic Fleet based the Neustrashimyy-class frigate, the ‘Yaroslav Mudry’ was tasked with escorting it. Later, the SCF supply vessels Ostap Sheremet and Ivan Osipenko sailed via the Red Sea from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad, with apparently a Russian Navy escort too.

Thirdly, the Red Sea is also important for the likes of the US Navy, as a vital transit route to the Indian Ocean, (every aircraft carrier transit takes the Suez Canal).

On the whole I am not going to dwell more on why the Yemen, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is of significance geopolitically, other to note that this has been extensively written about back in August.

Much in the same way as to why China stepped up their naval base footprint in Djibouti, this ensures that there is naval visibility close to the chokepoint of Bab el Mandeb, (given the significant Chinese maritime exports that also transit the Red Sea). Intriguingly, Djibouti is also home to the US Navy and French Navy.

With this global geopolitical tussle taking place, it is worth mentioning that at the end of October, the US Navy Secretary, Kenneth Braithwaite, suggested creating another “fleet closer to the border of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The proposed 1st Fleet could likely be based out of Singapore, to alleviate the operations of the 7th Fleet.

If the modest Russian naval base becomes operational, the Russian military will have better means of monitoring the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the as well enhance anti-piracy patrols in the north western part of the Indian Ocean. A military presence will somewhat also provide a potential counterbalance to Chinese military presence in the region. A Russian navy presence will potentially stymie further moves by Turkey to establish a presence in the Red Sea region. Turkey had signed an agreement in 2017 with Sudan to boost Turkish military and economic presence in Sudan, (principally in relation to Suakin island). The creation of a military base was subsequently rejected by the Sudanese government in 2019, largely due to positions taken in the Libyan conflict.

The base and ships

The plans for a naval base are still at a very initial stage and could go the same way as the 2017 Sudanese-Turkish military agreement, if the Sudanese government should scrap it. If the plans for the base do get achieved, it will need to be built from scratch and it will be capped to just 4 ships and 300 personnel. Of particular interest is that the likely base will be also capable of having nuclear-powered (surface?) vessels. Regardless of the eventual size of the port infrastructure, the importance rests with the fact that it is a first step in securing a logistics foothold in a busy sea route. The Port Sudan will be set up and operated in the same way as Tartus has been, with anti-sabotage boats (Raptors), air defence unit and repair workshops, (initially a floating ‘PM’ repair ship, but with time, better to have land-based workshops, given the limit of 4 ships).

Frequent visitors will be likely the auxiliary ships, in particular fleet tankers and ocean-going tugs that accompany the long-distance deployments. By having a resupply and logistics base in the Red Sea, the Russian Navy will be able to operate in the region and across the Indian Ocean more often. This latest move by Russia ties into a previous article written on Russian Navy presence in the Indian Ocean.

1.Enhance scope and length of dedicated maritime missions (e.g. Horn of Africa anti-piracy, Indian Ocean):

Crew exchanges can take place, routine maintenance can be done without having a ship returning to the Black or Baltic Sea for instance. Essentially, the Russian Navy will be able to do what the US Navy and Royal Navy have done for decades, but only to a limited extent.

2.Increase in inter-fleet missions across the board, (Northern, Black and Baltic Fleets) and thus the overall maturity of the Russian Navy:

Various units and ships will be able to operate jointly, without the need of having to call into Tartus or Sevastopol, thus breaking up the tempo of long-distance missions.

According to the agreement Russia will operate the base lease-free for an initial 25 years, however there will be infrastructure costs to pay. Additionally, Russia will undertake to provide military equipment at no cost and also provide training to the Sudanese military and help develop further the Sudanese navy. The Sudanese navy recently received a training ship from Russia, as part of 2019 bilateral defence agreements.

Likely infrequent visitors could be Moskva (Project 1164); anti-submarine destroyers, such as the Vice-Admiral Kulakov or Admiral Tributs, (Project 1155) as they have been the mainstay of anti-piracy & Indian Ocean missions in the recent past. Calling into a base for resupply would make Indian Ocean deployments much easier overall and also in a small measure extend the operational life of older ships. Nuclear powered missile cruisers such as ‘Pyotr Veliky’ and the ‘Admiral Nakhimov’ may also call in. Another aspect is that the latest Karakurt (or even at a push the Buyan class) ship could forward deploy from such a base, to potentially carry out anti-piracy missions, which is what they (the Karakurt class) were originally developed for. Naval commentors in the Wes have derided the transformation and modernisation of the Russian Navy into a small-ship fleet, yet the use of small bases such as Tartus and eventually port Sudan have amply demonstrated the wider and greater use of the smaller class of ships, especially the Kalibr carrying combat ships.

Deployment of such class of ships would not be as far-fetched as it seems, because this would enable the larger combat ships to go for longer periods farther away. Additionally, auxiliary ships such as intelligence gathering ships will be able to redeploy quickly and for longer in important areas such as the Arabian Sea or the Gulf for instance.

The development and active use of a base in the Red Sea is also a reflection of the growing maturity of the Russian Navy, still a tiny shadow of the Soviet Navy. The precedence has been set by the sustained activities of the 5th Mediterranean Squadron based out of Tartus. Although its remit and composition are actually quite small and localised in influence, the continued operations demonstrate quiet assertion of focused regional naval projection.

To summarise, the creation of a naval base in the Red Sea is another visible result from the re-establishment and operation of the 5th Squadron, as well as the trickle-down effect of long-distance missions that has been taking place in the last 5 years. The Russian Navy is modestly gaining confidence in increasing by a notch, single or double combat ship deployments further afield as well as their duration.

Expert explains Yemen’s global strategic value & why US/Saudis want it

Source

Description:

An expert on Yemen, Hassan Shaaban, explains the global strategic importance of Yemen and its Bab al-Mandeb waterway, and thus underlines the motives of the American-Saudi military campaign in the impoverished country.

Source: Al-Manar TV via Kalam Siyasi (YouTube Channel)

Date: Oct 25, 2020

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here)
https://www.youtube.com/embed/JtTiaZ73oqU?feature=oembed

Transcript:

Hassan Shaaban, Expert in Yemeni Affairs:

Ever since the bourgeoisie – which originated in Europe right after the fall of the feudal system – decided to colonize the (rest of the) world; extract its wealth; gain control over its (natural) resources; and turn its people into consuming animals; ever since that moment, the Western political psyche, which believes in power-based realism, has come to target every country that stands in its way, and every country that has any degree of influence.

Yemen is situated here, (next to) the Bab al-Mandeb (Strait). (This Strait) is located in a (strategically) vital region. 60% of Europe’s energy supply and one eighth of the global economy flows through (it). Millions of barrels of oil pass through (Bab al-Mandeb) every day.

You are talking about a country that has a grip over (the movement of trade) anywhere in the world, in any region of the world. (For that same reason), the British dug the Suez Canal to form a (direct shipping) route to India and Asia.

Well, Bab al-Mandab is naturally created by God. Britain paid a fortune to build the Suez Canal, and Egypt sacrificed the lives of thousands of its people who died during its construction. (Thus, imagine) how much (the West) is willing to sacrifice to (gain control over) Bab al-Mandeb?

Which (countries) are located near the Bab al-Mandab (Strait). What countries border this (connecting) canal and this line that links Bab al-Mandab to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea?

(First, there is) Saudi Arabia, the Arab Zionist entity that mirrors the Israeli Zionist entity and has a significant influence (in the region).

Host:

We will talk about the benefits that Saudi Arabia (would gain from controlling the Strait)…

Shaaban:

(Second), there is Egypt, historically the oldest and most powerful Arab state. Third, we have Sudan, the richest (in natural resources) and the largest country at some point in history.

Host:

The country that was split, they managed to partition it…

Shaaban:

And here (pointing to the location on the map) are Eritrea, Ethiopia – which used to border the Red Sea – Somalia and Djibouti..

Well, what is there in the Red Sea? Go back to what (Israeli) Zionists have written about the significance of this Sea. Did you know – I am  sure you do – that Eilat (a port city), known as “Umm Al-Rashrash” (in Arabic), is Israel’s only maritime outlet towards Asia? Linking (Israel) to the Red Sea – or as some Israeli strategists call it, “Lake David”, this outlet is vital for the survival of the (Israeli) Zionist entity.

———

Look at the incredible location of Yemen. The Yemeni coastline stretches for around 1,900 miles, equivalent to 2,400 or 2,500 km along the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.  

Host:

That is 2,500 km along the two seas.

Shaaban:

Yes, (equivalent to) around 1,900 miles.

Did you know that successive Yemeni governments did not form a naval military power despite the important and strategic location of Yemen along the sea?

Host:

What is the reason for that? Why?

Shaaban:

The reason goes back to Yemeni political decision-making…

 Host:

(Decision-making) controlled by the US?…

Shaaban:

(Nods his head) (The absence of a naval force) was an order. When the martyr Yemeni president Ibrahim al-Hamdi came to power in the 1970s, when he started planning and called a conference to discuss the security of the Red Sea, he was assassinated, he was murdered. And the party responsible for the assassination was Saudi Arabia.

The vital location (of Yemen) is significantly important for the colonially-created Gulf entities , and for the (Israeli) Zionist entity, which represents probably the West’s largest global investment. (Yemen) overlooks all of Asia all the way to China, and has this huge region (east Africa) within its reach. (In other words), (Yemen) is (in the region) where Asia and Africa meet. This is where Yemen is located.


Host
:

Do you mean that having control over the Bab al-Mandeb (Strait) is equivalent to having control over global trade (between) continents?

Shaaban:

Yes. It (also) means having control over the strait classified as the third most important worldwide.

Host:

What does the control over the Bab al-Mandeb Strait mean?

Shaaban:

As you have just mentioned in the report, having control over the Bab al-Mandab (Strait) means having control over the movement of the world’s economy, global oil transportation, and the route connecting Europe to India and China, and thereby to Asia. Even if we turn the opposite way, and focus on China and the port that it is trying to build in Pakistan in order to extend its maritime reach, (we will see that…)

Host:

(…that the route) will pass through Yemen and the (Bab al-Mandeb) Strait.

Shaaban:

It is a must. (China’s) “Belt and Road Initiative” passes through (the Strait).

Host:

China’s strategic project will only be completed if…

Shaaban:

(If) it goes through Bab al-Mandeb. Let me tell you something about Bab al-Mandeb. If you zoom in on it, you will see an island that divides it into…

Host:

(into) two channels…

Shaaban:

Exactly. The first (channel) is next to Djibouti, and is not suitable for deep-sea shipping. The other (channel) is about 12 km (in width) on the Yemeni (side). Yes, it is subject to international law, but it falls under Yemen’s sovereignty. (Not to mention that) it is the only channel (among the two) that is navigable. Therefore, what you called the bottleneck is the Yemeni (side of) Bab al-Mandeb.

Host:

The Yemeni (Bab al-Mandeb) not the Djiboutian for example..

Shaaban:

Exactly. Accordingly, if you also take into account (the importance of) Socotra and the group of islands. For example, look, roughly in this region, above Bab al-Mandab, there are groups of islands such as Zuqar, Perim and Hanish. In fact, the Hanish Islands have always been under dispute between Eritrea and Yemen. A confrontation (between the two countries) took place in the nineties because of this issue. The mountain in Zuqar Island rises to 600 meters, or approximately 624 meters. Do you know what this means?

Host:

It means that it overlooks the whole region..

Shaaban:

What if I told you that there are Israeli military bases in Eritrea? There are corvettes and naval vessels navigating in the Red Sea. They are docked at Eretria. What if I told you that there is a French military base in Djibouti, and an American military presence as well?

Host:

There is also a Chinese military base in Djibouti.

Shaaban:

I am going get to that (topic). Djibouti was established only to be rented like hotel. The US, Israel and other countries maintain (military) presences in Somalia. If you go up towards Sudan, you would notice that the Turks recently entered the sea area. The whole world is fighting over this area.

Then in 2014, the Yemenis, despite all that we have talked about, started a revolution, i.e. the revolution of September 21, 2014 under the leadership of Sayyed Abdulmalik Badr al-Din al-Houthi. Sayyed Abdulmalik, who forms (a strong) leadership, project and vision said: “Yemen will not be divided into regions”. Notice that after they (Saudi-led coalition) divided Mahra, Socotra, Abyan – I think – and Hadramout, (Ansarullah) brought them together as one region. In other words, Saudi Arabia wanted (to gain control over) some regions. However, this great Yemeni leader (Sayyed Abdulmalik) came and said: “we will not allow this”.  Saudi Arabia said…

Host:

The question we are seeking to answer is: “why did they wage a war (on Yemen)? Why did they start an aggression against Yemen?”

Shaaban:

Yes. Saudi Arabia said that it wants to (build) an oil pipeline that will pass through here. Furthermore, a Saudi magazine once wrote about (building) a marine channel that will also pass through Hadramout, thus connecting Saudi Arabia to the Arabian Sea. Here is the Indian Ocean and here is the Arabian Sea. What is the idea? Saudi Arabia, and others parties hiding behind it, want to avoid (the Strait of) Hormuz (controlled by) Iran, the great power that they cannot clash with. The solution for (Saudi Arabia) is to flee to the South (to Bab al-Mandeb).

Therefore, unlike what the (Saudis) say, their war in Yemen is not a war against Iran, it is a war to get away from Iran’s influence over the Strait of Hormuz. But unfortunately for them, there is a large force in Yemen called “Ansarullah”, a force with national vision unlike what they try to portray. (Ansarullah forces) have a Yemeni national project. They want to preserve the unity (in Yemen), the unity that the Emirates wants to destroy by dividing (the country). We can get into more details (about that) later. The Yemeni revolution led by Sayyed Abdulmalik gained influence and control over Ma’rib and the channels that we talked about, and thereby saying that “Yemen will not be any country’s backyard”. Yemen is not a territory that anyone can manipulate. It is an independent, sovereign state that has policies, that has the right to be present in this strategic region of the world.

How did (Saudi Arabia and its allies) perceive this issue? They believe that these Yemeni forces (Ansarullah), in one way or another, serve the interest of the Islamic Republic (of Iran) because they do not support America, they do not support Israel, nor are they tools like the (leaders who governed) before the (2014) revolution, before Sayyed Abdulmalik, before Sayyed Hussein’s project, the Quranic project based on the Quranic path.  They are not tools. They are not venal. They do not accept bribes as did many politicians who historically controlled Yemen’s political decision-making.

They will not be assassinated like they assassinated the martyr (President Ibrahim) al-Hamdi, even if they assassinated Sayyed Hussein (al-Houthi). The assassin of Sayyed Hussein got the order directly from these countries (Saudi Arabia and its allies), (who ordered the killing) of Sayyed Hussein because he chanted the slogan: “Death to America, Death to Israel”. What does “Death to America, Death to Israel “mean? (It means) death to the interests of those (who govern) this region of the world, death to their entities in this region of the world, death to their policy in this region of the world, and life to Yemen.

When Sayyed (Hussein al-Houthi) came up with the strategic slogan of Ansarullah, i.e. “Victory to Islam”, (he meant) the Islam that represents the identity and the independence of a nation. Yes, in this case, Yemen with its (strategic) geographical location and its rich history turned into a strategic political project. (Therefore,) it was necessary for (Saudi Arabia and its allies) to wage a war, to start this aggression. It was necessary for them to do what they are currently doing.

Host:

It was also a must for Ansarullah to fight them.

Shaaban:

(They fought) in defense (against the Saudi aggression)

Host:

We will show the outcomes of the (Saudi) aggression (on Yemen) in a quick report, then we will continue…

—-

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Arab analysts predict ‘action-packed’ & ‘dangerous’ end to Trump presidency

RUSSIA RETURNS TO POWER GAME IN RED AND ARABIAN SEAS

South Front

For the first time since the collapse of the USSR, Russia is establishing a naval base close to vital maritime supply lines.

The Russian government revealed on November 11 that Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved a draft agreement on creating a naval logistics base in Sudan and gave instructions to submit a proposal to the president on signing the document.  The draft deal was submitted by the Defense Ministry, approved by the Foreign Ministry, the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee of Russia and was preliminarily agreed to by the Sudanese side.

According to the agreement, the Russian Navy’s logistics facility in Sudan “meets the goals of maintaining peace and stability in the region, is defensive and is not aimed against other countries.” The base can be used for carrying out repairs and replenishing supplies and for the crewmembers of Russian naval ships to have a rest. The logistics base is expected to embrace the coastal, water and mooring areas.” The Sudanese side has the right to use the mooring area upon agreement with the authorized body of the Russian side,” the document reads.

The text says that a maximum of four warships may stay at the naval logistics base, including “naval ships with a nuclear propulsion system on condition of observing nuclear and environmental safety norms.” Also, Russia will reportedly deliver weapons and military hardware to Sudan in order maintain the air defense of the Port Sudan area, where the Russian naval facility would be located.

The military-technical and security cooperation between Russia and Sudan has significantly increased since 2017. The creation of the Russian naval base there is a logical step to develop this cooperation. It should be noted that the Russian base in Syria’s Tartus also had the name of a ‘logistical facility’ before it was transformed into a fully-fledged naval base.

If this project is fully implemented, this will contribute to the rapid growth of Russian influence in Africa. Russian naval forces will also be able to increase their presence in the Red Sea and in the area between the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Oman. Both of these areas are the core of the current maritime energy supply routes. The naval facility will allow Russians to resupply their naval group in the region more effectively and increase the strength of their forces. For example, at least one Russian naval group regularly operates as a part of the anti-piracy mission near Somalia and in the Indian Ocean in general.

The new base will also serve as a foothold of Russia in the case of a standoff with naval forces of NATO member states that actively use their military infrastructure in Djibouti to project power in the region. The increased presence of the Russians in the Red Sea is also a factor that could affect the Saudi-Houthi conflict. If the Russian side opts to indirectly support the Iranian-Houthi coalition, the situation for the Saudi Kingdom will become even more complicated. Its operations to block and pressure the Houthi-controlled port of al-Hudaydah would become much less effective.

It is expected that the United States (regardless of the administration in the White House) will try to prevent the Russian expansion in the region at any cost. For an active foreign policy of Russia, the creation of the naval facility in Sudan surpasses all public and clandestine actions in Libya in recent years. From the point of view of protecting Russian national interests in the Global Oceans, this step is even more important than the creation of the permanent air and naval bases in Syria.

Related News

Houthis Anticipate US Assassination Attempts, Warn US Troops Will Be Targeted in Retaliation

By Ahmed Abdulkareem

Source

As tensions in the Middle East continue to rise, there are indications that Donald Trump’s administration is planning to carry out assassination operations against high-ranking Houthi officials inside of Yemen similar to the U.S. assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General, Qassem Soleimani, a move likely to open the door for further escalation in the region.

On Thursday, a high ranking Houthi official in Sana’a told MintPress News on condition of anonymity that the Houthis would not hesitate to target U.S. troops in the region if the Trump administration targets its personnel inside Yemen.

The statement comes in the wake of an announcement by United States officials that the U.S. military tried, but failed, to kill another senior Iranian commander on the same day a U.S. drone strike killed Soleimani.

According to reports, a U.S. military air attack targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) while he was in Yemen, but the mission was not successful. The U.S. Department of the Treasury claimed that Shahlai was based in Yemen and accused him of having “a long history of targeting Americans and US allies globally.”

Meanwhile, Yemeni activists and media pundits are expressing concerns over what they consider serious threats from Trump administration, pointing out that news of the unsuccessful assassination in Yemen should not be underestimated. Others have called on U.S. Congress to prevent any attacks on Yemeni soil and to keep U.S. soldiers in the region out of harm’s way.

The pretexts for U.S. attacks in Yemen are not without precedent. On October 13, 2016, the U.S. military announced that it had struck three coastal radar sites in Hodeida, an area of Yemen controlled by Houthi forces, in retaliation for an alleged failed missile attack on the USS Mason, a U.S. Navy destroyer. The Houthis maintain that they were not involved in any missile attacks against the Mason.

For their part, the Houthis (Ansar Allah) were clear in their warning to U.S. leaders in the wake of U.S. assassinations in Iraq, promising that U.S. troops in the Arabian Gulf or the Red Sea would be targeted without hesitation if the Trump administration attempts to target Houthi leaders in Yemen.

Yemen Soleimani assassination

The Yemeni army, which is loyal to Ansar Allah, is already preparing for anticipated U.S. attacks. Ansar Allah’s leadership has reaffirmed that their anti-U.S. position is based on a principled and ideological commitment, but historically, Ansar Allah has not directly targeted the United States or its interests in the region.

During a televised speech broadcast live on January 8 during Yemen’s martyr’s week commemoration, Abdulmalik Badr al-Din al Houthi, the leader of Ansar Allah, said that “We will no longer acquiesce to Trump’s equation in killing us and interfering in our affairs and to do nothing is no longer acceptable.” He went on to say that the Houthis’ dealings with the “carelessness of the United States which targets the nation’s leaders will be different.”

The Ansar Allah leader pointed out that if there was no U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, the war against Yemen would not have occurred, adding that the role of the United States in the war against his country includes supervision, management, political protection, destruction, and the supply of weapons.

He also warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from continuing their military campaign in Yemen, saying that “developments in the region are not in their interests.” Implying that the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran could be used against both the United States and Saudi Arabia in some way.

The threats of Ansar Allah, a group known to strike sensitive targets without hesitation, should not be underestimated. On September 14, Yemen hit two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in a retaliatory attack that the United States blamed on Iran. Now, they have developed their arsenal of ballistic missiles and drones even further and experts say are likely capable of hitting U.S. troops in the region.

According to Houthi officials in Sana’a, the Trump administration appears to be using allegations of an Iranian troop presence in Yemen, an allegation that Houthis deny, as a pretext for further military action in the country, despite no evidence to back the claim.

Furthermore, the contrast between the Houthi reaction to that of Iran’s allies in the region after the U.S. assassinated Soleimani further suggests that Iran has no significant measure of influence over the Houthi’s decision-making process.

In fact, the Houthis fiercely rejected any and all foreign attempts to influence their decisions after the assassination of Soleimani. The group, thus far, has not promised to retaliate against U.S. troops as revenge for the murder of Soleimani as Iran’s allies in the region did in near unanimity. Moreover, they treated the incident with caution and decided not to be drawn into an escalation despite angry demonstrations that took place in many of Yemen’s cities over the assassination.

However, the Houthis have signed a military cooperation deal with Iran as a result of the continued war and blockade against their country and may work with Iran to take action against U.S. troops in the region should the U.S. target Houthi leaders in Yemen. According to some strategic decision-makers in Sana’a, retaliatory attacks could take place if even a single case of a U.S. attack in Yemen were to take place.

A legacy of targeted killings

In the wake of the U.S. killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi military leader Abu Majd al- Muhandis, many Yemeni politicians fear the Trump administration could carry out similar operations against high-ranking leaders in Yemen. The Saudi-backed assassinations of former presidents Saleh al- Sammad and Ibrahim al-Hamdi, both popular figures among Yemenis, are cemented in the country’s collective memory.

On November 6, 2017, Saudi Arabia released a list of 40 names of Houthis leaders and senior figures that the Kingdom wanted dead or alive. The list was issued by the Saudi Ministry of Interior, which offered rewards of between $5 to $30 million. On April 19, 2018, former president of the SPC, Saleh al-Samad, was assassinated by Saudi airstrikes in Hodeida while preparing for a protest to statements made by the American ambassador that the Houthi-controlled city of Hodeida will fall.

Almost two years after al-Sammad’s assassination, a criminal court in Hodeida has begun the trial of U.S. President Trump along with 61 Yemenis and foreigners, all believed to be involved in the assassination of the former head of the SPC. After finding ten suspects guilty, the court held its first hearing, trying Trump and the remaining 51 foreign and Yemeni defendants in absentia in late October.

The trial, which has drawn national media attention, may only be symbolic, but it sends a clear message to the U.S. that its operations in Yemen and its ongoing complicity in the worst man-made humanitarian crisis in the world is unacceptable and will undermine U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Before his assassination, Al-Sammad was attempting to carry out a plan to rebuild Yemen into a modern, stable and democratic state by 2030. He penned the National Vision, a manifesto of 175 goals focused on independence, freedom and non-submission to foreign influence.

Yemenis’ concerns about .U.S and Saudi intentions towards their national leaders were reinforced when the Yemeni Defense Ministry revealed that both U.S intelligence and Saudi princes’ were involved in the 1977 assassination of popular Yemeni president Ibrahim al-Hamdi after he refused Washington and Riyadh’s interference in Yemen’s internal affairs.

At a press conference, Brigadier Abdullah bin Amer, a senior official at the Yemeni Defense Ministry, released important documents related to the assassination of President al-Hamdi, including the names of those involved in his murder.

Before his death, al-Hamdi was attempting to pivot Yemen away from the Saudi kingdom and the United States and build Yemen’s independence by developing it’s oil reserves and its strategic location on the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Now, according to senior Houthi officials, Sana’a is in possession of evidence that confirms the role of President Carter’s administration and the Saudi regime in the assassination, including planning, supervising and covering up the crime, according to Brigadier bin Amer.

The Last Lunch

MintPress was shown documents allegedly exchanged between U.S. and Saudi intelligence that indicated the involvement of the United States and former Saudi Kings Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Fahd bin Abdulaziz and their brother Sultan in the assassination, but was unable to independently verify their authenticity.

According to the documents as well as witness testimony, al-Hamdi was invited to lunch at the residence of Ahmad al-Qashmi, who was the Army chief of staff under his command. During his stay there, Ali Abdullah Saleh, then a brigade commander, and one of his bodyguards entered the house. Moments after they entered, al-Hamdi was killed in a hail of bullets.

Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, according to the documents, was in direct contact with Saleh al-Hadyan, the Saudi military attaché in Northern Yemen’s capital Sana’a at the time of the targeted killing. Riyadh allegedly dispatched three Saudi intelligence operatives to Sana’a hours before the assassination who then left Yemen three hours after the operation concluded.

“Saudi Arabia killed al-Hamdi under the supervision of Saudi military attaché, Saleh al-Hadyan because he was an opponent of Saudi Arabia and did not comply with its instructions and interventions in Yemen,” The late Abdullah Saleh said in a 2016 interview with RT Arabic in which he claimed that he had “evidence of the involvement of Saudi Arabia.”

When al-Hamdi came to power in 1974, North Yemen lacked even the most basic services and infrastructure. Moreover, the country was on the brink of collapse and tribesmen held significant power and influence. Al-Hamdi, much like Al-Sammad, created a development plan supervised by a number of committees which encouraged local communities to contribute to road construction, school buildings, and water networks.

Under al-Hamdi’s direction, North Yemen underwent a period of rapid economic growth. The country’s GDP rose from 21.5 percent in 1974 to 56.1 percent in 1977 and per capita income rose by 300 percent. Al-Hamdi, according to WikiLeaks documents, was also working to “prepare the groundwork for eventual elections” in North Yemen.

Given the fate shared by those willing to risk charting a path free of foreign intervention in Yemen, it is unlikely that the Houthis, nor their fellow countrymen, will take attempts by foreign countries to assassinate Yemeni leaders lightly.

Nasrallah: Trump is on the verge of a stroke over Iran, Yemen is now a threat for Israel

Source

December 28, 2019

Nasrallah: Trump is on the verge of a stroke over Iran, Yemen is now a threat for Israel

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on November 11, 2019, on the occasion of Hezbollah’s Martyr Day, commemorating the operation against the headquarters of the Israeli forces in Tyre on November 11, 1982, which killed 75 occupying officers and soldiers.

With the translation of an extract from the last speech of Sayed Badr al-Dine al-Houthi, leader of the Ansar Allah, and a report by Al-Mayadeen on Yemen facing Israel.

source: https://resistancenews.org/2019/12/28/nasrallah-trump-at-a-loss-against-iran-yemen-is-now-a-threat-for-israel/

Translated by resistancenews.org

Transcript:

[…] After having talked of martyrdom and resistance, allow me to come to the second part of my speech, where I’ll just mention two points concerning the situation in the region in order to have time then to talk about the situation in Lebanon. I will only mention two points that are of paramount importance. It’s been quite a while that I have not addressed the situation in the region, and there would be a lot of important things to say, but not having much time today, I will only address these two points.

The first point concerns Yemen, namely the historical position which was announced from Yemen by the courageous and dignified leader Sayed Abd-al-Malik Badreddine al-Houthi during these last days, yesterday or the day before yesterday, on the occasion of the celebrations in Yemen commemorating the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him and his family, about the fight against the Israeli enemy. These statements have attracted the attention of the enemy’s leaders, and we also must mention them, as children of the Lebanese Resistance and peoples of Palestine and the region directly affected by the struggle against the Israeli enemy.

Two days ago, this noble jihadist leader announced in all clarity, in response to Israeli threats of strikes and aggression against Yemen, addressing a huge audience (millions of people), about which I will also say a word. He said that if Israel attacks Yemen, Yemen will retaliate by forceful strikes. Strikes of the utmost violence. Yemen will not abstain from retaliating, and will do so without hesitation. From where was this said? From Yemen. From San’aa. From Sa’ada. From the provinces of Yemen.

As well, he said that Yemen’s struggle against the Israeli enemy was based on their faith, religion, humanitarian values and ethical, moral and religious obligations. I say this because (our enemies) are always trying to present the struggle as a political struggle, a (mere) rivalry between states, etc.

What is the significance of these statements? More often than not do we hear speakers, Imams, Secretaries General of parties or groups of leaders from a particular location in the Arab-Muslim world, threatening the Zionists in their speeches. But with Yemen, it is much more than empty words because these threats come from the military leader of a front where the fighting has been raging for 5 years, who has been fighting (successfully) for 5 years against forces supported by the US, Britain and the West in general (France, etc.), against entire armies with their air force, enormous amounts of mercenaries, and very broad fronts.

This threat was issued by an officer commanding a front that now has weapons very modern and sophisticated, whether missiles, drones, etc., and who has the courage to use these missiles and these drones, and did use them on the ground, and challenged the whole world (by its devastating effects on the Saudi oil production). And while Yemen is abandoned, oppressed, and in self-defense.

This threat was issued by the leader of a front whose fighters are fighting on a great many fronts and achieve stunning victories in military terms, almost miraculous. The latest operation was the ‘Divine victory’ (which destroyed three entire brigades, with hundreds killed and thousands of prisoners from Saudi forces).

Therefore, we are talking about a leader who has high credibility, and has proven his ability to follow through on his threats. Because he always did what he said and what he promised.

The Israelis have been much attention to that. In the (history of the) Arab and Muslim world, there has been a lot of pompous but vain speeches, that have led to nothing, either in fact or even among Israeli leaders or media. But we have seen the profound effect this speech from Yemen two days ago had in the enemy entity. Why? Because it is issued by an extremely serious and credible force, which proved itself, earned its spurs (and stunned the world).

This is not something new from the Houthis, but it’s a very clear announcement, very frank and very strong, which greatly concerns Israel. This clearly announces the addition of a very important and very powerful element in the Axis of Resistance: Yemen. The Yemen of faith, wisdom, endurance, steadfastness, jihad and victories. This was announced in a clear and explicit way. And Yemen is quite capable of hitting Israel hard. The peoples of our region and the Resistance movements should be proud of this announcement, and welcome happily this new important and strategic element of strength. Because Yemen, the Yemeni position, the strategic importance of the Red Sea and Yemen’s ability to reach the enemy entity, as well as the secret al-Houthi kept regarding his intentions, and the targets and locations that would be hit with extreme strikes… All this is of great importance.

Also, the enemy must know that this is the new strategic environment he faces today, the every one he always feared and strived to prevent with the United States and the whole world (i.e. a military alliance of Arab-Muslim countries against Israel), so that our peoples would forget Palestine and hostility toward Israel, abandon this cause, be silent (against the oppression of the Palestinians) and reconsider (their relations with Israel). This is a new force that joins the ranks of the Resistance, a new country, in a new geographical area, with great credibility and great enthusiasm (for the Liberation of Palestine), battle-hardened, incredibly effective and with incommensurable courage, and this force now fully integrates the front of the struggle against Israel. It is a development of great importance. Some may not realize the importance of this event, but the Israeli enemy and the children of the Resistance are perfectly aware of it.

The other aspect of this point is the popular masses present at the event. It was not a simple press conference. I also want to stress in two minutes the importance of this popular massive presence. You may have seen these huge events, although most TV channels have ignored this these mass, millions-wide gatherings. Gigantic rallies, whether at San’aa, Jeddah … sorry, not in Jeddah (city of Saudi Arabia), maybe one day with God’s grace… At San’aa, Sa’da, Hajja, in different cities of Yemen, we could see these massive rallies that fill us with joy, without any camera manipulation transforming 1 000 people into 10 000 or 100 000. Hundreds of thousands of people attended, under the sun, in the middle of the day, for hours, standing or sitting on the bare floor and on the streets, not in a room, on chairs, in a place with air conditioning or anything like that, with the constant risk of an aerial bombardment, the country being at war (and with recurring massacres), but they sat for hours and listened to their leader, supporting his position and vision.

This huge rally, this spectacular scene, is a treat for me and amazed me: in the sun, a gathering so massive in conditions so difficult, demonstrates their boundless love for the Prophet Muhammad, God’s blessings be upon him and his family. This demonstrates the extent of their faith when we speak of the Yemen of faith.

Similarly, and I will conclude this point with that, this is a very strong political message: a whole people, after 5 years of (ruthless) war, tens of thousands of martyrs at least, between civilians and combatants, and hundreds of thousands of Yemenis threatened with death by cholera, disease, famine, etc., an economically and financially beleaguered country, and a government that has often not even enough to pay its civil servants, and is subject to the greatest difficulties, threats, intimidation, abandonment of all (with the exception of Iran and Hezbollah), but despite all this, they attend these commemorations so massively to affirm their commitment and determination, and directed this strong message to all the tyrants of the world: you strive to frighten & to despair our people, to send us backwards and see us sink into poverty, famine, poverty and blockade, to make us abandon our Prophet, our faith, our religion, our freedom, our dignity, our holy sites or our root cause (Palestine), but we will never do that, ever. The Yemeni people proves this, and addresses this message to the world.

And it’s the same for other peoples of the region. I say and repeat, this is where lies the secret of the strength of the Axis of Resistance to which we belong. An Axis whose real strength lies in his faith, his doctrine, his soul, his love for God and the Messenger of God, his belief in humanitarian causes, his belief in the importance of holy places (and the absolute need to liberate them), his high readiness for sacrifice.

All this does not depend at all on money or gains that we can secure, not any more than on achievements on a personal level, enjoyment or pleasure (the very things Trump wants to deprive us of through his maximum sanctions against Iran and Lebanon), even if they are legitimate quests in this world and the next, to which can legitimately aspire man and that he must achieve (for his comfort), but this does not weigh anything at all on our impulses, our principles and positions.

The other point (I want to mention) is the Islamic Republic of Iran. In recent months, the specter of a war (between the US and Iran) haunted the region. Everyone assumed it was inevitable, and some regional countries did all their calculations on the assumption of an American war against Iran. And I have already mentioned that unfortunately some Lebanese forces (Hezbollah opponents) also made their calculations based on this assumption.

I can say today that this possibility, even if I did not state categorically that it is 100% off the table, I can say that it strayed 99.99%. All countries, peoples and competitor Axes in the region must do their calculations on that basis. Whoever counted on such a war must forget this hypothesis. We see a change of rhetoric from several countries in the region and some Gulf countries that were hostile towards the Islamic Republic, but I will not give their names now.

Similarly, in this respect, Iran’s steadfastness became clear after all this time has passed since Trump left the nuclear deal and imposed severe sanctions on Tehran, but Iran stood firm and overcame this predicament. Of course, this does not mean that Iran does not face difficulties, but Iran managed to overcome them.

Today, strategic observers in the United States and the West, and even within the enemy (Zionist) entity, publish analyzes that argue that the strategy of Trump against Iran failed. For what was the Trump strategy? Exit the Iranian nuclear deal, impose sanctions on Iran, trying to make Iran collapse from within, put pressure on Iran and constantly threatening of imminent war to intimidate Iran and to make it come to the negotiating table. That was the Trump strategy.

The possibility of war is no more, Iran has held firm and overcame the difficulties (consecutive to the US withdrawal from the nuclear) Deal, and for a year, Trump has been holding the line, (waiting for Iran to call or pick up the phone), but he is deluded. It will never happen. This strategy has clearly failed. Today, Iran comes out powerful, strengthened, capable, dignified and ready to face (the challenges), to assume its leading role in the region and to support the causes and peoples of the region.

I recently read an amusing information, and I told myself that when Trump will learn about it, he will become enraged and have a heart attack. Because you know that all that matters for Trump, is oil and dollars, money, nothing else. We saw that in Syria, in the East of the Euphrates, he forsook his allies in the blink of an eye, while they had fought with him and alongside him, and he justified this move at length, saying that the Kurds had not fought at their side in Normandy (in 1944). This is a ridiculous argument.

But he eventually reconsidered his decision to withdraw US troops from the East of the Euphrates and maintained them. Why? For the Eastern oil fields of the Euphrates. For Trump, only oil matters. Do not believe that for him, oil is more valuable and more important than the rest, no: in his eyes, nothing else has any value at all. The human, even if he is an ally, a friend and a comrade, is worthless to him: Trump is ready to forsake him at any time.

I refer to the discovery of a huge oilfield in Iran: we all saw yesterday His Eminence the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sheikh Rouhani, who officially announced the discovery of a huge oil field, a priori containing 53 billion barrels of oil! 53 billion barrels of oil! It’s definitely a heart attack for Trump! I’ve done the math: if Iran extracts, when it begins to exploit these oilfileds with God’s grace, 1 million barrels per day, how long will it take for this deposit to be exhausted? How many generations will come to pass before it is exhausted? I will not give you the result in years because I’d be afraid to be mistaken in my calculations…

His Eminence (Rouhani) explained that the area of ​​the oil field is 2 400 square kilometers, is located in the Khuzestan region, south-west of the country, and that the width of underground oil layer is up to 80 meters. And most importantly, he stressed that the process of discovery of these oil deposits has been conducted by the National Iranian Oil Company, and extended from 2016 to last week. So it was made by an Iranian national company of experts and Iranian specialists (not foreign). I deliberately emphasized this aspect in view of what I will say then about the Lebanese situation [reference to a widely disseminated fake news according to which a Revolutionary Guard commander threatened to destroy Israel from Lebanon: Nasrallah stressed that Iran does everything by itself, and does not need to hide behind anyone)]

So, today, thank God, Iran comes out… Experts and economists believe that the value of the discovered deposit is estimated, based on the current price of oil, at more than 3 trillion dollars (3 billion billion dollars). For I must tell Trump about the number of barrels of oil and the dollar value, to make his heart attack complete…

In the Middle East, the core of the Axis of Resistance comes out of the risk of US war and overcomes the worst stage of its history more powerful and capable, and God Almighty bestows on this country these resources and this new horizon. […]

See also:

Nasrallah about the war in Yemen: Saudi Arabia & UAE will be annihilated

Yemeni Coastguards Seize Saudi Ship, Two Others in Yemen’s Regional Waters – Statement

Yemeni Coastguards Seize Saudi Ship, Two Others in Yemen’s Regional Waters – Statement

Yemen’s Coastguards issued a statement that explained the incident of detaining three ships off the Red Sea inside the country’s regional waters.

The statement read the following:

– Three ships were seized, one is Saudi ‘Rabegh 3” 3 miles away of the Yemeni ‘Uqban Island as they entered Yemen’s regional waters without an earlier notice

– The crews of the seized ships didn’t respond to the patrol after they were called via the international channel 16

– The non-response from the crews of the seized ships is a clear challenge to all international maritime laws and a violation of Yemeni sovereignty

– The seized ships were harbored at the Salif port, and legal measures were taken along with contacting the concerned parties

– The coastguards stress keenness on the safety of regional waters, as well as the necessity to abide by all followed regulations and respect Yemen’s sovereignty

– We won’t save any effort to take the measures related to protecting Yemeni waters

Earlier, before publishing the statement, a top official of the Yemeni Ansarullah revolutionary movement said that a ‘suspected vessel’ was seized off the western coast of the impoverished country in the Red Sea.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the President of Yemen’s Supreme Revolutionary Committee said: “Yemeni coast guards… are checking to see whether (the vessel) belongs to the countries of aggression or to South Korea, in which case it will be released after completing legal procedures. The crews are being well treated.”

 

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غيبوبة العرب تتفاقم؟

أغسطس 10, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تطلُّ الدول العربية على القسم الأكبر من بحار الخليج وعدن والأحمر ومقدّمات المحيط الهندي والبحر الأبيض المتوسط متفردة بالسيطرة على أهم مضيقين عالميين لهما اهميات استراتيجية واقتصادية على المستوى العالمي، وهما قناة السويس وباب المندب ومشاركة في «الإطلالة العاطفية البصرية» على مضيق هرمز.

هذه الاستراتيجية الشديدة التميّز يتجاهلها العرب متخلين عن ادوارها للغرب وكل عابر سبيل وصولاً الى سماحهم «لشقيقتهم» «إسرائيل» بالمشاركة في حماية أمن الملاحة في بحارهم كوسيلة لتحصين أنظمتهم ومحاربة إيران، فتبدو هذه البحار المنشودة عالمياً وكأنها أوزار ثقيلة على كواهل أصحابها العرب الذين يتمنّون لو لم تكن على سواحلهم متخلين عنها لرعاتهم الدوليين والإقليميين.

بالمقابل يصاب الأميركيون بابتهاج عميق لهذه الغيبوبة العربية السخية التي تسمح لهم بتجديد مشاريعهم المتعثرة في منطقة الشرق الاوسط، فما أن اندحر الإرهاب في سورية مُنكفئاً في العراق ومراوحاً في اليمن ومحاصراً في لبنان حتى اندفع الأميركيون نحو إيران فارضين عليها أفظع عقوبات معروفة في التاريخ مع محاولات لحصارها، ولم يكتفوا لأنها صمدت، مهرولين نحو خطة للسيطرة على البحار العربية الإيرانية في الخليج بشعار حماية أمن الملاحة وضمّ البحرين الأحمر والمتوسط إليها.

بهذه الطريقة يمسك الأميركيون بـ»خناق» المنطقة العربية ولا يحتاجون الى احتلال مناطق برية ما يؤمن لهم السيطرة على الدول العربية وتفجير إيران وإلغاء القضية الفلسطينية برعاية حلف إسرائيلي خليجي يجهض أي احتمال لتقارب سوري عراقي يمني، فمثل هذا التنسيق له تداعيات على النفوذ الأميركي في المنطقة ويعرقل الاستقرار الذي تنعمُ به العروش الملكية في الخليج.

أما الجهة الثالثة المصممة على المنافسة على أمن الخليج فهي التنسيق الروسي الإيراني الذي يدرك ان امن الملاحة في الخليج ليس إلا واجهة سطحية لاستعمار أميركي جديد يريد إعادة تشكيل المنطقة العربية على إيقاع يدعم نفوذه الأحادي في العالم او يمنع من تراجعه على الأقل.

إن هذه الجهة أصبحت مدعومة من جهات دولية كثيرة على رأسها الصين، لكن سورية هي عمقها العربي الذي يعتبر «مشروع أمن الملاحة» تجديداً للمشروع الإرهابي انما في البحار، لذلك تحمي سورية ساحلها المتوسطي بوسيلتين: قواتها البحرية والقواعد الروسية، فحجم التهديد أميركي أوروبي إسرائيلي غير قابل للجم إلا بنظام تحالفات قابل للتطوير باتجاهين الصين والعراق وهما ضرورتان لاستكمال حلف سورية مع روسيا وإيران.

هناك أيضاً طرف أوروبي لا يعرف حتى الآن أين يضع رأسه وهل باستطاعته تنظيم معادلة اوروبية خاصة به تحمي أمن الخليج بما يعنيه من مطامع اقتصادية وجيوبوليتيكية؟ أم يندمج في الحلف الأميركي فيبقى تحت إبط الأميركي لا يلوي على مكاسب وصفقات؟ أما اندفاعه باتجاه إيران وحليفتها روسيا والصين فلن يسمح الأميركيون به بوسائل مختلفة من بينها استعداد قوى أوروبية داخلية لإثارة اضطرابات شعبية على حكوماتها بطلب أميركي او بإقفال الأسواق الأميركية في وجه الشركات الاقتصادية الاوروبية وهذا يضع القطاع الاقتصادي الخاص في اوروبا في وجه حكوماته، وهو قادر على عرقلتها وربما إسقاطها من مشارق الأرض ومغاربها لادارة امن ملاحة في منطقة تبعد عنها عشرات آلاف الأميال يجوز التساؤل أين هم عرب منطقة أمن الملاحة ؟ واين هم العرب المجاورون؟

فالعالم بأسره منجذب الى البحار العربية وعربها فارون منها. والدليل أن هناك ثماني عشرة دولة عربية تطل على الخليج وعدن والاحمر والهندي والمتوسط، مقابل ثلاث دول هي موريتانيا والصومال وجزر القمر ليس لها إطلالات بحرية عليها.

أهناك دولة عربية واحدة على علاقة بأمن الخليج؟

فيكاد المرء يتفاجأ بصمت مصر الدولة البحرية التي يفترض أنها ممسكة ببحري الأحمر والمتوسط وقناة السويس وغيبة السودان في أزمته واليمن المحاصر الذي يجابه السعودية في أعالي صعدة وعينه على باب المندب، أما السعودية بإطلالتيها على الخليج والبحر الأحمر فتطلق اصواتاً تثيرُ فقط الاستعمار الأميركي والتحالف مع «إسرائيل» ومثلها الامارات والبحرين وقطر وعمان والكويت، أما العراق المنهمك بالتشظي الداخلي والاحتلال الأميركي وبالصراع الكردي على أراضيه فإطلالته خجولة.

أما لجهة شرقي المتوسط فسورية تجابه الأميركيين والأتراك والإسرائيليين والإرهاب والتمويل الخليجي، فيما لبنان منهمك بمتاعبه الداخلية وفلسطين اسيرة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي والتخلي العربي والأردن منجذب لوظائفه الأميركية وهذا حال السودان المأزوم داخلياً ومعها الجزائر فيما تقبع تونس في همومها الداخلية، والمغرب ضائع في أدواره الغربية ولن ننسى ليبيا التي يرعى الغرب حروبها الداخلية لتفتيتها الى امارات نفط.

هذه هي الغيبوبة التاريخيّة التي تغطي عودة القوى العالمية الى استعمار المنطقة العربية.

وهنا لا بدّ من التعويل على دور سورية التي تجابه الغرب الاستعماري والمطامع التركية وغيبوبة العرب في معادلة تحالف مع إيران وروسيا لإعادة انتاج منطقة عربية بحجم الانتصار السوري الذي يشكل مع الصمود الإيراني الوسيلة الحصرية لإيقاظ العرب من الغيبوبة التاريخية التي تسمح للاستعمار بالعودة مجدداً.

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The Oil Crisis Saudi Arabia Can’t Solve

27 June 2019

Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s CEO Amin Nasr’s message to the press that oil flows to the market are guaranteed, should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Looking at the current volatility in the Persian/Arabian Gulf and the possibility of a temporary closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the Aramco CEO’s message might be a bit overoptimistic. In reality, Aramco will not be able to keep the necessary crude oil and products volumes flowing to Asian and European markets in the case of a full Strait of Hormuz blockade. Even that Aramco owns and operates a crude oil pipeline with a capacity of 5 million bpd, carrying crude 1,200 kilometers between the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea, much more is needed to keep the oil market stable.

Nasr’s move to stabilize the market is praiseworthy but should be seen as an attempt to quell fears of traders and financial analysts, especially just before the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna next week. Nasr reiterated that Aramco (aka the Kingdom) is able to supply sufficient crude through the Red Sea, reiterating that the necessary pipeline and terminal infrastructure is there. However, what analysts tend to forget, Nasr’s statement is only linked to Saudi’s oil export volumes, which will likely be not higher this summer than around the level this pipeline can support. The real issue, if it comes to a full-blown conflict, is that not only Saudi oil is being threatened.

At present, between 20-21 million bpd of crude and petroleum products are transported via the Strait of Hormuz. Saudi exports are a vast part of it, but also the UAE, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran, will have to look at additional routes. A closure or military action in the region will cause a temporary disruption for all maritime traffic. Besides the options that are the already on the table, such as the Saudi onshore pipeline and the UAE’s Fujairah pipeline,  no other real alternatives are available, as overland trucking or rail transport is minimal. Transferring volumes via the Saudi and UAE’s pipelines is not an option at all, as the total capacity of the two is less than 10 million bpd, representing not even 50% of the current maritime flows through Hormuz. Another thing that should be noted is that pipelines can’t ship crude and crude products at the same time.Related: $4.5-Trillion: The Price Tag of A Fossil Fuel-Free U.S.

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Another consequence of a blockade would be that most available VLCCs and other tankers will either be in the Persian Gulf (and blocked) or will not be able to be rerouted. Before the market will have found a solution for this, days and probably weeks will have gone by, and a price spike for all products is to be expected.  This will likely also be the case for LNG and other commodity flows.

Few analysts are talking about oilfield security and pipeline availability. Any military advisor will put these options as part of his or her 1st phase military action plan. If Iran were to be attacked, or faces a surgical strike by an opponent, all Arab oil and gas infrastructure will become a legitimate offensive target (at least in the eyes of Tehran and its proxies). Geographically seen, Tehran has been dealt the best cards. Looking at the majority of oil and gas production assets and infrastructure in the Arab world, especially in Saudi Arabia, UAE or even Iraq, everything is in reach of short-distance missiles, fighter jets and even drones. Any move against Iran will result in a full-scale attack on Saudi’s Eastern Province (which produces 80% of all its oil and gas), Abu Dhabi’s offshore oil infrastructure and the regional pipelines. Looking at history, denying energy access and diminishing the opponents stability is a no-brainer in military strategy.Related: Shale Executive Sees “Another Round Of Bankruptcies” Looming

It can be taken for granted that Iran, the Houthis, Hezbollah and others, already have prepared their oil and gas infrastructure strategy. Washington, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and even Manama, will be frantically looking for answers, but the geographical situation is disastrous.

Quelling fears in the market is the right thing to do, but reality also needs to be addressed. Nasr’s message is that of an oil company CEO, taking all precautions to deal with a calamity. ADNOC’s Sultan will be doing the same. Still, the oil market is at present a victim of geopolitical power projections of emotional leaders superseding rationality. This confrontation is one of a possibly unprecedented order, not for oil (as sceptics again will state) but with oil as a weapon for defeat or survival. The continuing reference to the Iran-Iraq tanker war during 1980-1988 is out of touch with reality. At this time, it is not going to be Iran denying support or trade with Iraq, but a possible Arab-Iranian confrontation, led by the USA if no countermeasures are being implemented.

Asian consumers will need to prepare for severe price hikes in the most optimistic scenario, but also for a shutdown of vast parts of their economy. Hormuz will not be standing on its own, more is to be taken into account, especially proxy reactions in Yemen (Gulf of Aden) or East Med (Hezbollah).  Negative repercussions for Europeans are also in the picture. Saudi Arabia can do a lot, but saving the global economy if the Gulf explodes is not one of their capabilities.

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