The Yemen Truce Is in Danger: The Aggressor’s Ships Are in the Crosshairs of the Yemeni Forces

Sep 30, 2022

By Mustapha Awada 

During negotiations for the extension of the armistice agreement for a fourth time in a row and before the current ceasefire expires, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement put forward three conditions.

The conditions are as follows:

“Paying salaries, ending the siege on Sana’a Airport, north of the capital, and the port of al-Hudaydah, west of the capital, and a halt to violations in order to achieve real stability.”

*Al-Hanash: If the aggressors do not abide by the terms of the armistice, we will end it.

Offering insight into the course of these negotiations, a member of the Yemeni national negotiating delegation, Abdul Majeed Al-Hanash, told Al-Ahed News that “if the aggressor does not abide by the terms of the armistice, we will end it ourselves. Sanaa would have no other choice because if the conditions are not implemented, the Yemeni people will demand their leadership resume the war.”

“The bank of objectives that the Yemeni leadership adopted before the truce is the same one that we are working on. But oil shipments will be added to that list. It is not possible for us to allow oil to cross into the Gulf to go to global markets while our people are besieged and their wealth is being stolen,” Al-Hanash added.  

“If we end the truce, we will use everything we have within the territorial waters to intercept oil tankers and stop the theft that is being conducted.”  

Abdul Majeed Al-Hanash applauded the resistance axis, stressing that “the Yemeni people are a qualitative addition to this axis and to the Palestinian cause, who pledged to always stand by its side and its resistant people.”

Anam: The forces of aggression not complying with the armistice will pave the way for an expansion of the circle of engagement.

For his part, the advisor of the Yemeni Supreme Political Council, Dr. Muhammad Taher Anam, told Al-Ahed that “the failure of the forces of aggression to abide by the armistice will not only push the leadership to resume military confrontations, but will expand the circle of engagement, especially after it was disturbed by the theft of oil resources and the conspiracy involving the United Arab Emirates, Total and the French government that are stealing Yemeni gas from Shabwa Governorate.”

“Clear statements were issued by the Yemeni army’s official spokesman, directed at foreign companies that steal Yemeni oil and gas. He called on them to take these statement seriously if an agreement on a new truce is not reached based on the conditions we set.”

He pointed out that “the adherence to the truce by the Saudi and Emirati regimes was in the 20% to 25% range, according to our estimates. They opened Sana’a Airport to Yemeni travelers to Amman and Cairo and allowed fuel ships to enter the port of al-Hudaydah. Other than that, there was no commitment neither to paying salaries of the employees from oil and gas revenues that are exported from Shabwa nor opening roads.

“There are some mediators, such as the UN envoy to Yemen, the Sultanate of Oman, and other countries, that are trying to press Saudi Arabia and the UAE to abide by their duties. We hope that these mediations will result in the implementation of the agreement that was signed because if this is not done, we will target companies and ships that steal Yemeni gas and oil unless salaries are paid before specifying the next truce.”

The adviser to the Yemeni Political Council stressed that “the military parade that the Sana’a government recently held on the occasion of the anniversary of September 21 was not random. Rather, it carried a message that we are still carrying the rifle and are ready for war again, and on a larger scale.”

According to Dr. Anam, “the parade is a warning to the Saudi and Emirati regimes. If both of them do not abide by the agreements that are in the interest of the Yemeni people, withdraw from their lands, and pay war compensation, the upgraded missiles and naval mines will be used to protect the interests of this nation.”

Muhammad Taher Anam affirmed that “both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are still violating these agreements and the commitments presented to the UN envoy and the mediating countries, as they are trying to position themselves between Russia and the West by stealing Yemeni gas and exporting it to Europe. This is after concluding agreements on this issue with some European states at a time when they are importing their oil from Qatar and others. However, we will follow through on the threat of the leader Sayyed Abdul-Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and we will not be patient to the continuous looting of our wealth.”

مأزق «إخوان اليمن»: مصالحة صنعاء «شرّ» لا بدّ منه؟

 السبت 24 أيلول 2022

 إسحاق المساوى

يحاول فرع «الإخوان» في اليمن إعادة إصلاح ما فَسد مع السعودية خصوصاً (أ ف ب)

صنعاء |

على رغم أن الحملة الأخيرة التي قادتْها الجماعات الموالية للإمارات في جنوب اليمن أخيراً، ضدّ الأذرع العسكرية لـ«الإصلاح»، جرى ضبطها سعودياً وأميركياً بحيث لا تَقطع «شعرة معاوية» مع الأخير، وتُبقي له منفذاً إلى المناطق الغنيّة بالنفط، إلّا أن الحزب لا يزال يستشعر «مؤامرة» ضدّه تستهدف إنهاء وجوده بالكامل. إزاء ذلك، يحاول فرع «الإخوان» في اليمن إعادة إصلاح ما فَسد مع السعودية خصوصاً، واضعاً تظلّماته أيضاً على طاولة الرُّعاة الدوليين لـ«التحالف»، مُحاوِلاً بهذا تجنُّب تجرُّع الكأس المرّة المتمثّلة في العودة إلى صنعاء، إلّا أن هذه الكأس قد لا يكون ثمّة مناصٌ منها في نهاية المطاف، بكامل الرغبة، أو بنصفها، أو حتى تحت وطأة الظروف القاهرة

في آذار 2015، أيّد حزب «التجمّع اليمني للإصلاح» (إخوان مسلمون)، في بيان رسمي، الحملة التي أطلقها «التحالف العربي» بقيادة السعودية، على اليمن. وبعد سبع سنوات من ذلك، وتحديداً في آب 2022، قاد «التحالف» نفسُه حملة لقصقصة أجنحة «الإصلاح» في محافظة شبوة الغنيّة بالنفط، وتهشيم وجوده في محافظتَي عدن وأبين. إثر هذا، تَجدّدت التساؤلات حول إمكانية حصول تبدُّل في التموضع الاستراتيجي للحزب، خصوصاً أن الأخير ترك، في بيانه الصادر في الحادي عشر من آب، الباب مفتوحاً أمام احتمال لجوئه إلى خيارات مغايِرة لِما انتهجه في السنوات الماضية، وأبْقاه تحت ظلّ «التحالف» الذي فرض الحرب والحصار على بلاده، إذ اعتبر «الإصلاح»، في البيان المذكور، أن تداعيات القضاء عليه «تحُول دون إنهاء الانقلاب واستعادة الدولة في اليمن، وتستهدف في الوقت نفسه مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربي، وفي مقدمته السعودية»، في ما قُرئ على أنه قَرْن شَرْطي واضح بين «أمن السعودية ومشروعها» و«أمن الإصلاح ومشروعه»، من شأن تزعزعه أن يجعل الأخير في حِلّ من أمْره.

إزاء ذلك، يرى القيادي الجنوبي المقرّب من «الإصلاح»، عادل الحسني، في حديث إلى «الأخبار»، أن «استهداف الحزب سيحلحل ملفّات شائكة بين قواعده وقواعد أنصار الله»، لكنه يَعتبر أن «الحديث عن تحالف قيادات الطرفَين مبكر»، مستدرِكاً بأن «الإصلاح لن يجد مخرجاً إلّا بتأجيل معاركه الداخلية، والاتّجاه مع الجميع لإخراج المحتل»، بالنظر إلى أن الحزب بات «يدرك يوماً بعد آخر أنه مستهدَف من قِبَل التحالف أكثر ممّا هو مستهدَف من قِبَل أنصار الله»، كما يقول الحسني. وانطلاقاً من المخاوف نفسها، وحتميّات تفاديها، يُعرب العضو السابق في شورى «الإصلاح»، عبدالله مصلح، في حديث إلى «الأخبار»، عن اعتقاده بأن «الحزب بات يستشعر ضرورة الوقوف في وجه التحالف، ليس فقط من أجل اليمن، وإنّما أيضاً من أجل الحزب نفسه»، الذي أصبح «مهدَّداً في وجوده ومُجبَراً على خوض معركة مصيرية صعبة».
لكن إقدام «الإصلاح» على خطوة «شجاعة»، مِن مِثل الخروج من عباءة السعودية والإمارات نحو مظلّة وطنية أوسع، ربّما لا يسعفه التوقيت، ولا المكان، ولا الشخوص أيضاً. فالحزب الذي تخلّى عن تنظيمه الدولي قد يجد نفسه وحيداً في المبارزة العسكرية أو السياسية، فضلاً عن أن معظم قياداته يقيمون في العاصمة السعودية الرياض، وهو الأمر الذي يجعل أيّ خطوة من هذا النوع، في نظر البعض، «مغامرة». لكن ذلك الواقع نفسه قد تكون نتيجته الحتمية، بحسب البعض الآخر، تقارب «الإصلاح» مع «أنصار الله» على قاعدة «مرغَم أخاك لا بطل». ومع أن مصلح لا يتوقّع حدوث هكذا تقارب، بالنظر إلى أن الطرفَين «تيّاران مؤدلجان عقائدياً، وكلّ منهما يمارس نهجاً عدائياً تجاه الآخر»، إلّا أنه يقول إن «السياسة لا تعرف الثبات في المواقف، فقد يحدث بعض التقارب التكتيكي المحدود والمؤقّت وغير المعلن»، أمّا التحالف أو التقارب الكامل فـ«يتطلّب من كلَيهما المبادرة إلى إثبات حسن النوايا، وهذا ما لم يحدث حتى الآن، وخاصة من قِبَل أنصار الله».

جهود استمالة «الأعداء»
إلى الآن، ينتهج «الإصلاح» سياسة استمالة حلفائه المفترَضين الذين باتوا أعداءً له، حتى لا يضطرّ للركون إلى خيارات أخرى تكون صنعاء أو تنظيمه الدولي وُجهتها، وهو ما يؤشّر إليه حرصه إلى اليوم، في بياناته ومواقفه الرسمية، على عدم قطْع حبل الودّ مع السعودية. لكنّ مصلح يؤكد أن «السعودية والإمارات متّفقتان على تنفيذ هذا المخطّط التمزيقي للبلاد والمكوّنات السياسية الفاعلة، وفي مقدّمتها الإصلاح، إلّا أن قيادة الحزب لا تزال تَنظر إلى السعودية كدولة حليفة»، منبّهاً إلى أن «الدور السعودي أخطر على الإصلاح من الدور الإماراتي الواضح في عداوته، فما لم تستطع الإمارات تحقيقه بالقوّة، تُحقّقه السعودية بأسلوب ناعم ظاهره الوساطة والرحمة وباطنه العذاب والدمار».

تُوثّق الذاكرة السياسية والعسكرية مراحل صدام عديدة بين «الإخوان المسلمين» والسعودية

وكان «الإصلاح» بالغ، على مرّ السنوات الماضية، في مساعيه لاسترضاء السعودية والإمارات، ومن ذلك مثلاً اختياره شهر أيلول 2016، الذي يصادف ذكرى تأسيسه، ليتبرّأ من جماعة «الإخوان المسلمين»، كما وزيارة رئيس هيئته العليا للإمارات في منتصف تشرين الثاني 2018. لكنّ هذه المساعي لم تؤتِ في أيّ مرّة أُكُلها، وهي على الأرجح ستظلّ تفشل مستقبلاً، حتى تتحقّق توصيات ضابط استخبارات سعودي في ختام مؤتمر نظّمته بلاده، وأهمّها «الحدّ من نفوذ الحزب في الجيش الوطني وفي الحكومة»، في مقابل احتواء الخصم الاستراتيجي له، وهو حزب «المؤتمر الشعبي العام». وكانت السعودية توعّدت، في أيلول 2017، على لسان وليّ عهدها محمد بن سلمان، بـ«تدمير الإخوان المسلمين الآن وفوراً»، الأمر الذي قوبل بموقف مماثل من قِبَل المكتب العام للجماعة في نيسان 2018، حيث وصف ما تقوم به القيادة السعودية بأنه «نكوث عن الواجب الديني والقومي»، محذّراً من أن «الدُّول تدقّ مسمار نعشها حين ترمي الناس بالباطل».
وتُوثّق الذاكرة السياسية والعسكرية مراحل صدام عديدة بين أذرع «الإخوان المسلمين» في اليمن، وبين السعودية، من ثورة عام 1962، إلى حرب الانفصال عام 1994، وصولاً إلى اليوم حيث يَرجح خيار تحالف الحزب مع صنعاء أكثر من أيّ وقت مضى، بكامل الرغبة، أو بنصفها، أو حتى تحت وطأة ظروف استهدافه القاهرة. ومع ذلك، لا يزال الحزب يحاول إصلاح الأمور، من خلال التظلُّم لدى الدول الراعية لـ«التحالف»، كما جرى في 12 أيلول الجاري، عندما التقى القائم بأعمال الأمين العام لـ«الإصلاح»، عبد الرزاق الهجري، بسفير المملكة المتحدة لدى اليمن، ريتشارد أوبنهايم. لكنّ اللقاء بدا أقرب إلى وقفة تضامنية بريطانية مع ما بقي من جسد الحزب في البلاد، أو إلى روتينِ «حكومةٍ تستخدم كلمات متشابهة وتعني بها أشياء مختلفة جدّاً».

موقف صنعاء
في مقابل احتماليّة عودة «الإصلاح» إلى التحالف مع صنعاء، فتحت الأخيرة باب العودة لِمَن يرغب، محارباً كان أم مسالماً، بقرار عفو عام صدر في أيلول 2016. وفي أيلول 2019، باشر «فريق المصالحة الوطنية والحلّ الشامل» أعماله، ومهمّته إعادة المنخرطين في صفوف «التحالف»، أفراداً وكيانات، إلى «الوطن». وعلى رغم أن هذه الخطوات نجحت في إعادة نحو 16 ألفاً – كما تشير التقديرات -، بِمَن فيهم أعضاء في «الإصلاح»، إلّا أن كثيرين يستبعدون اتّجاه الحزب، بشكل معلَن وفي الوقت الراهن تحديداً، إلى ذلك المخرج لأسباب إيديولوجية مرتبطة بنشأته، والتزاماته مع الأطراف الخارجية المُعادية لصنعاء. وفي هذا الصدد، يقول عضو وفد «أنصار الله» التفاوضي، عبد الملك العجري، إن «ضغائن الإصلاح الإيديولوجية على أنصار الله أصابتْه بعمًى سياسي، لا يبدو أنه قادر على التعافي منه». ويضيف، في تغريدة، أنه «لو مارس الإصلاح 10% من التعقّل الذي يمارسه مع دول العدوان لمَا وصلْنا إلى ما وصلْنا إليه منذ عام 2014، علماً أن ما حدث له في صنعاء لا يساوي 1% من الصفعات التي تلقّاها من دول العدوان».
ويشي الواقع بأنه كلّما بالغ «الإصلاح» في الصبر، بالغ «التحالف» في استهدافه، والسبب في ذلك، من وجهة نظر عضو المجلس السياسي لحركة «أنصار الله»، عضو فريق المصالحة محمد البخيتي، أن «دول العدوان متأكّدة من أن قيادة حزب الإصلاح لن تجرؤ على فضّ الشراكة معها، والانضمام إلى صفّ الوطن، ولذلك فإنها مستمرّة في تصفية الحزب في المحافظات الجنوبية والشرقية من دون أيّ قلق». وبشأن إمكانية تحالف «الإصلاح» مع «أنصار الله»، يقول البخيتي، في تغريدة، إن «مصالح دول العدوان تتعارض مع مصالح اليمن، وحتى مع مصالح الأطراف التي تَورّطت في استدعاء العدوان، وحزب الإصلاح نموذجاً»، مضيفاً «(أنّنا) لسنا بحاجة إلى تقديم تنازلات لبعضنا، وكلّ ما نحتاج إليه هو أن نتوحّد لتحرير اليمن من الاحتلال، وهذا مكسب كبير للجميع وليس فيه أيّ خسارة لأيّ طرف».

مقالات ذات صلة

Al-Houthi: US plans were paving way for controlling, occupying Yemen

September 20, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The leader of Ansar Allah movement asserts that the US was working to escalate chaos in Yemen, but the Yemeni people thwarted these plans.

The leader of the Yemeni Ansar Allah movement, Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi

The leader of the Yemeni Ansar Allah movement, Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, said on Tuesday that the US plans were aimed at dismantling Yemen internally, fueling divisions and fragmentation, and stirring internal differences.

On the occasion of the anniversary of the September 21 revolution, Al-Houthi explained that the United States adopted a destructive policy against Yemen and did not care about the interests of the Yemeni people, adding that the US plans were paving the way to completely control and occupy Yemen.

He indicated that Washington was working to escalate chaos in Yemen, underlining that the alertness and action of the Yemeni people are what foiled the schemes of the United States and its allies.

The Yemeni leader pointed out that Washington was working to strip the Yemeni army of its military capabilities, noting that the targeting of the state’s military, civil, and administrative facilities unravels the destructive policy of aggression that aims to force Yemen into total collapse.

Al-Houthi added that Washington has turned its embassy in Sanaa into a headquarters for managing all sabotage activities in Yemen, adding that all Yemeni parties were sure that what the US ambassador in Sanaa was doing represented a clear violation of the country’s sovereignty and independence.

He mentioned that some Yemeni political parties were responding to US demands, but the resistance of the Yemeni people confused the Americans.

The leader of the Ansar Allah movement emphasized that the slogans, goals, and popular momentum of the revolutionary movement were broad, stressing that the revolution was not restricted to one group without the other; rather, it belonged to all components of the Yemeni people.

The popular movement expressed the awareness and values ​​of the Yemeni people, as well as their rightful demands that are far from any factional and sectarian discourse.

Al-Houthi said the Yemeni people insisted on gaining freedom in its true sense in order to obtain their rightful independence on September 21.

He considered that the aggression against Yemen revealed the reality of those who wanted to continue the guardianship over the country and exposed their hostile policy, adding that the aggression confirms the hostile policy of the Americans and their allies against our people.

The Yemeni leader noted that the aggression targeted government and service facilities, which shows the true American intentions to destroy everything in the country.

He pointed out that the coalition of aggression destroyed all infrastructure and even targeted courts, prisons, cemeteries, and schools and sought to tighten the noose on Yemenis in their livelihood by means of a harsh inhuman siege and economic conspiracies.

Yemen stands against path of normalization

Al-Houthi indicated that Yemen is militarily doing what many Arab countries are unable to do and is currently moving to work on the civil industry sector.

Regarding normalization with the Israeli occupation, Al-Houthi said Washington and its allies are seeking to bring about change in the region under the title of normalization and the loyalty of Arab regimes to “Israel”, stressing that Yemen stands against the path of normalization and by the Palestinian cause and the free people of the nation against its enemies.

Al-Houthi mentioned that the coalition of aggression and traitors among the Yemeni people are plundering the Yemeni oil wealth and controlling the country’s resources and wealth.

Earlier, the Supreme Political Council in Yemen, headed by Mahdi Al-Mashat, affirmed the country’s geographical and social unity and sovereignty over its wealth.

Read more: Yemen: More than 300 killed, wounded since the start of the truce

Ansarullah Leader: Yemeni Security Apparatus Frustrated Saudi-Led Coalition’s Conspiracies

September 17, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The leader of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement has hailed efforts and sacrifices being made by the country’s Ministry of Interior and security forces to maintain nationwide peace and stability, stressing that they have foiled fiendish plots developed by the Saudi regime and its regional allies.

“Apart from waging an atrocious military campaign [against Yemen] and massacring civilians, the Saudi-led coalition of aggression is making blatant attempts to undermine Yemen’s national security and stability,” Sayyed Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said on Thursday afternoon as he addressed a massive military parade in the capital Sanaa via video link.

He added, “The Saudi-led coalition recruits Takfiri extremists and other terrorists in order to implement its criminal plots such as explosions. Brutal acts of violence and appalling massacre of ordinary people by Takfiri terrorists would be a common occurrence of the Yemeni nation’s lives if the enemy had managed to advance it plots.”

“Thanks to the grace of God and efforts being made by the Ministry of Interior and security forces, the Saudi-led alliance has failed to achieve any of its goals,” Sayyed al-Houthi pointed out.

He emphasized that “Security is our top priority, and the Yemeni Ministry of Interior is working within the framework of its duties to support the nation and maintain security and stability.”

The Ansarullah chief went on to say, “The Saudi-led coalition has spared no effort to target Yemeni security institutions, which serve the nation, guarantee its security and defend the country. The Saudi-led coalition has recurrently targeted Yemen’s infrastructure. This is while Yemeni security forces have withstood all these wicked bids, and are now more powerful and efficient.”

“It is of paramount significance for the Yemeni nation and the Ministry of Interior to have a strong relationship as it will help the latter to successfully perform its duties.

“Our message to the enemy in this military parade is that its efforts to infiltrate into Yemen’s security apparatus have dismally failed,” Sayyed al-Houthi highlighted.

“Security and stability are the legitimate rights of all Yemenis. Enemies’ plots against our nation’s security expose the extent of their hostile goals. We warn enemies about their conspiracies against the Yemeni nation and the country’s security and stability,” the Ansarullah leader said.

“Yemen’s security is highly beneficial to all its neighboring countries and Muslim nations. We are ready for security cooperation agreements for the benefit of our nations,” Sayyed al-Houthi concluded.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The US-backed Saudi-led aggression on Yemen has caused the martyrdom of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Al-Shami: Preparing the Yemeni Army to have a role in Palestine

September 8, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

Information Minister of the Yemeni National Salvation Government Daifallah Al-Shami stresses that any attack against Yemen will be met with a response.

Information Minister of the Yemeni National Salvation Government Daifallah Al-Shami 

In an interview with Al Mayadeen, Information Minister of the Yemeni National Salvation Government Daifallah Al-Shami confirmed that calling the military parade “The Promise of the Hereafter” confirms “Yemen’s connection with Palestine.”

Al-Shami said, “We are preparing our Yemeni army and people to have a role in the nation’s issues, especially in the liberation of Palestine,” adding that “Yemen is not a country that can be subject to normalization with Israel.”

The Yemeni Minister of Information indicated that “The Promise of the Hereafter military parade was an affirmation of the strength of the Yemeni army, despite the ongoing eight-year war.”

Regarding the selection of the city of Al-Hudaydah as a site for the military parade, Al-Shami said, “it is a message to the forces of aggression that the efforts to destroy Yemen have failed.”

Al-Shami stressed that Yemen will respond to any aggression, saying, “if any attack on Yemen from any side whatsoever occurs, it is our legitimate right to respond, and we have the ability to do so.”

It is worth noting that the Yemeni Armed Forces’ The Promise of the Hereafter military parade held in Al-Hudaydah saw the participation of various units of the Yemeni army, such as the coast guard, the navy, the air force, the air defense force, and several elite forces, sources told Al Mayadeen last Thursday.

Some 25,000 soldiers participated in the parade, spanning all of the aforementioned forces, the sources added, noting that the parade kicked off with the troop companies before large forces of armored vehicles, tanks, and ground and naval weapons exhibited their capabilities.

The Yemeni armed forces showcased their ground and air defenses, as well as homemade UAVs, the sources added.

They pointed out that the military parade “The Promise of the Hereafter”, in which the armed forces revealed “Yemeni-made marine missiles that have never been unveiled before, the Mandeb 2 and Mandeb 1 and Russian-made missiles Rubezh.”

Following the military parade, the head of the Supreme Political Council in Yemen, Mahdi Al-Mashat, said that “the Yemeni forces have developed their weapons, and they are able to hit their targets by land and sea.”

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

Yemen To Overwhelm Enemies If Saudi-led Coalition Fails to Hold on To Truce – Defense Minister

September 6, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Yemeni defense minister underlined that his country is fully prepared for an all-out war with the Saudi-led coalition, warning the invading countries that they would be bewildered by the advanced capabilities of the Yemeni armed forces if they continue the war.

Major General Mohammad al-Atifi made the remarks during a Monday meeting with the head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council Mahdi al-Mashat.

“Yemen’s armed forces are ready either to respond to the Saudi-coalition violation of the [UN-brokered] truce or to get into a full-scale confrontation with the coalition to free every inch of the country’s soil,” al-Atifi said.

He added that the Yemeni armed forces have reached such “advanced levels that will surprise the [Saudi-led] coalition if it does not take advantage of the temporary truce to end its aggression and siege.”

Al-Mashat, for his part, described the Yemeni armed forces as a “safety valve for the homeland,” capable of exposing all foreign conspiracies to split the country.

Warning that “no breach of the truce will be accepted,” he said it is necessary to reclaim the looted Yemeni oil and gas revenues.

He further assured the Yemeni people that “they are now able to take their legitimate rights” and the “crisis created by the coalition will soon end.”

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government said on Tuesday that coalition forces have violated a UN-brokered truce, which was enforced in the war-ravaged Yemen in April, nearly 150 times over the past 24 hours.

Citing an unnamed Yemeni military official, Saba news agency reported that the violations included 34 flight operations with spy drones and warplanes over the provinces of Marib, Taiz, Jawf, Saada, Hajjah, al-Hudaydah, Ad Dali’, al-Bayda and border areas.

The source added that the US-Saudi mercenaries have developed new military fortifications in al-Hudaydah.

The coalition also committed breaches by firing on the homes of citizens and the position of the Yemeni armed forces in the provinces of Marib, Taiz, Saada, Hajjah, al-Hudaydah, Ad Dali’, and the border areas, the source said.

An armed spy plane also targeted a garrison in Ibb province, killing one soldier and injuring four others, the source added.

The UN-brokered truce between the coalition and Yemen’s Ansarullah resistance movement has been extended twice since April.

According to the United Nations’ special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, the latest extension, from August 2 to October 2, included a commitment from the parties to intensify negotiations to reach a wider truce agreement as soon as possible.

Under the truce, the war coalition has agreed to end its attacks on Yemeni soil and end a simultaneous siege that it has been enforcing against Yemen. Yemen has, however, reported many violations since then.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — the closest allies of the US in the region after the Israeli regime — have been waging the war on Yemen since March 2015.

The invasion has been seeking to change Yemen’s ruling structure in favor of the impoverished country’s former Riyadh- and Washington-friendly rulers and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement. The coalition, however, has failed to meet any of its objectives.

The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and turned the entire country into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Israeli naval delegation deployed to Yemen’s Socotra Island: Report

Over the past year, Israel has been collaborating with the UAE to establish a military and intelligence presence on the Yemeni island

September 02 2022

A Soviet-era tank rusts on the coast of the Yemeni island of Socotra. (Photo credit: AFP)

ByNews Desk- 

Yemeni media reported on 2 September that a delegation of Israeli military experts has been deployed to the UAE-controlled Yemeni island of Socotra, located in the Gulf of Aden.

According to the report, the Israeli team has been on the island for the past few days, and is accompanied by several Emirati intelligence officers.

The report adds that the delegation, who belong to Tel Aviv’s navy, have been carrying out search operations and excavations across Socotra Island.

The island, inhabited by around 60,000 people, overlooks the Strait of Bab Al-Mandab, a major shipping corridor that links the Red Sea to both the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Over the past year, Israel has reportedly been working with its Gulf partner to establish a presence on Socotra.

According to a Yemeni media report from March, the UAE is involved in the development of a construction project to build facilities on the island for the purpose of hosting Israeli soldiers, officers, and other military experts and personnel.

This is allegedly part of a plan to turn the Yemeni island into a center for regional espionage, as well as to increase military control over maritime routes.

Last year, Israel signed an agreement with the UAE, allowing it to establish an intelligence center at the island’s Hadibu Airport.

Israel is also interested in the strategic Yemeni island because it serves as a potential flashpoint for a confrontation with Iran. In 2020, the Washington Institute published an analysis examining how Israeli submarines could potentially strike the Islamic Republic from positions near Yemen.

In January of this year, Socotra Island made headlines due to controversial photos of Israeli tourists who had visited the island under a UAE-issued visa.

In June of 2020, the UAE established control of the island by bribing its tribal authorities.

Former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi described the UAE’s takeover of the island as “a full-fledged coup,” however.

Since the start of the war on Yemen in 2015, the UAE has been an integral part of the Saudi-led coalition, backing mercenary groups across the country and taking part in indiscriminate bombing campaigns.

The Saudi-led coalition, which continues to violate the UN-brokered ceasefire agreement, receives logistical and military support from the US, the UK, France, and most notably Israel.

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The Siege of West Asia

TUESDAY 30 AUG 2022

Source

By Tim Anderson

The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world.

With multiple failed or failing wars, Washington and its NATO partners and hangers-on have imposed a genocidal economic siege on a contiguous bloc of seven West Asian countries, between the Mediterranean and the Himalayas.

The physical blockades on Palestine and Yemen are joined by coercive measures on Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Amongst other things, this brutal regional siege has led to 90% of the Syrian population living in poverty  and the blockaded people of Yemen suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The aim in all cases has been ‘to starve and cause desperation’ amongst entire populations – as was said about Washington’s blockades on Cuba and on Iran. The explicit aim is imposing ‘deliberate harm’, in the hope of coercing political change. A key associated aim is to help the zionist colony keep stealing Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese land, and so destabilise and cripple the development of the entire region.

While much of this siege is imposed in the name of ‘democracy’, ‘human rights’ and ‘anti-terrorism’, none of the NATO allied states of the region – like the Saudis, the UAE and Qatar, who actually finance and arm mass sectarian terrorism – face ‘sanctions’.

The pretexts for this siege are buried in pseudo-legal inventions. The US Treasury’s OFAC database has lists of dozens of ‘sanctioned’ entities and individuals in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen. There are not many ‘sanctions’ against Afghanistan, after 20 years of US and NATO military occupation. However it is notorious that Washington has seized several billion dollars belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank, simply because the U.S. is dissatisfied with the current Afghan government. That is certainly a big factor in the looming mass starvation of millions of people in that unfortunate West Asian country.

So what are sanctions and when can they be justified? In international law two principles are said to limit a state’s retaliation against others: that the response should be ‘in proportion’ to an alleged action by the other; and that any reprisal only comes after attempts at negotiation.

But retaliation is unlawful when (1) the aim is to damage the economy of another nation, or there is (2) an attempt at political coercion or (3) the measures imposed also damage the rights of third parties. All these illegal elements are at work in Washington’s current regional siege. Such unilateral ‘sanctions’ are now termed ‘unilateral coercive measures’ (UCMs) and subject to special scrutiny at the United Nations.

For some time international agencies have reported on the catastrophic impact of this siege, for example in Syria and Yemen. Despite the theoretical ‘humanitarian’ exemptions in both US and European coercive measures, the U.S. strangle hold on finance means there is severe impact on essentials such as food, medicine and energy.

The W.H.O. has reported that unilateral US-EU ‘sanctions’ damage children’s cancer treatment in Syria. Medical studies have condemned Europe’s coercive ‘sanctions’ for their damage to COVID-19 prevention and treatment in Syria, while the UN rapporteur on the impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures, Ms Alena Douhan, has called for an end to Washington’s UCMs which inhibit the rebuilding of Syria’s civilian infrastructure, destroyed by the conflict. “The sanctions violate the human rights of the Syrian people, whose country has been destroyed by almost 10 years of ongoing conflict,” said Ms Douhan.

Washington’s anti-Syrian ‘Caesar Law’ was also condemned as it attempts to block third party support for the Syrian population. “I am concerned that sanctions imposed under the Caesar Act may exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the course of COVID-19 pandemic, and put the Syrian people at even greater risk of human rights violations,” she said.

Siege measures on north African countries have come under similar criticism. In 2015 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the impact of ‘sanctions’ on human rights, Idriss Jazairy, urged States which have imposed UCMs on Sudan to review their policies. “Sudan has been under unilateral coercive measures for two decades without any adaptation .. The signal given by compulsory measures is in contradiction with their proclaimed objectives” he said, referring to the financial restrictions imposed on all business transactions with Sudan.

In Yemen, the rational is a little different. The US-EU ‘Sanctions’ which sustain the humanitarian crisis are carried out with direct approval by the UN Security Council, under the misguided idea that an interim president from 2014 (Mansour Hadi, in exile in Saudi Arabia for the last seven years) is still the legitimate President of the country. The actual revolutionary government (the only successful revolution of the so-called Arab Spring) led by Ansarallah (disparagingly referred to as ‘Houthi rebels’) is under UNSC sanctions. So the siege on Yemen is authorised under international law, unlike the UCMs against Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Nevertheless, a UN body has said that the western powers and their Persian Gulf allies (especially the Saudis and the U.A.E.) waging war on Yemen should be held responsible for war crimes. That 2019 report detailed a range of war crimes over the previous five years, including airstrikes, indiscriminate shelling, snipers, landmines, as well as arbitrary killings and detention, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and impeding access to humanitarian aid.

This writer has previously argued that the UN Security Council has betrayed the people of Yemen, exacerbating ‘the world’s ‘worst humanitarian crisis’ by demonising and sanctioning the revolutionary government while backing a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) puppet.

UCM regimes, now so popular with the USA and the European Union, have been condemned by independent UN experts for violating international law and for impeding the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While UCMs are “imposed mostly in the name of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”, Rapporteur Douhan concludes they actually “undermine those very principles, values and norms” while inflicting humanitarian damage.

The one redeeming feature of the US-EU siege of West Asia, one of the worst crimes of the 21st century, is that it is forcing a restructuring of international economic relations, away from a Washington-centred unipolar world. In future the BRICS bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and allied groups will play a much greater role.

Drinking Water in Yemen Contaminated with Radioactive Substances, Heavy Metals

August 29, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Yemeni Ministry of Water and Environment warned about the level of pollution in drinking water in the country’s strategic coastal province of al-Hudaydah, raising alarms about the serious health hazards derived from the repeated exposure to traces of heavy metals, including lead, mercury, and arsenic.

During a press conference held in the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa on Sunday afternoon, the ministry elaborated on the adverse consequences of the tight Saudi-led blockade on the water and environment sectors of Yemen.

Abdul Karim al-Safiani, deputy director of Yemen’s Water Resources Organization, stated the organization has discovered high levels of radioactive substances and toxic metals in a number of fresh water resources in al-Hudaydah province.

He also underlined that the Saudi-led military coalition has destroyed more than 2,995 water facilities, including dams, barriers, pumps, reservoirs, and irrigation systems and networks, since 2015.

Safiani also sounded the alarm that more than 20 million Yemenis, according to statistics provided by international organizations, do not have access to clean drinking water.

Abdulsalam al-Hakimi, deputy minister of Water and Environment, also said that the damage to Yemen’s water and environment sector as a result of the ongoing Saudi-led aggression and siege is estimated to stand at more than $1.7 billion.

Hakimi stressed that irregular diesel fuel distribution and its high price have forced water pumping systems to decrease their capacity.

He noted that Yemeni authorities have tried to import spare parts to expand national water and sewage treatment networks in light of a UN-sponsored ceasefire, and several water wells and treatment plants have come on stream as a result.

The Saudi-led aggression on Yemen has resulted in a lack of clean drinking water and sanitation services for nearly half of the country’s population.

According to the United Nations, Yemenis are in urgent need of water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance, while access to clean and safe drinking water remains crucial for the good health and survival of a whole nation.

The International Organization for Migration [IOM] has said that Yemen is suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, as nearly 15.4 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Saudi-Led Coalition Holding 3 Yemen-Bound Fuel Ships in Violation of UN-Brokered Ceasefire

August 27, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Saudi-led coalition forces are holding three Yemen-bound oil tankers carrying thousands of tons of fuel for the crisis-stricken country in flagrant breach of a UN-brokered ceasefire.

The coalition has impounded the tankers, including two laden with tens of thousands of liters of diesel fuel, and is not allowing them to sail towards Yemen, Essam al-Mutawakil, a spokesman for the Yemen Petroleum Company [YPC], told Arabic-language al-Masirah television network on Friday.

Mutawakil added that the ships, destined for Yemen’s western port of Hodeida, are being held despite being inspected and cleared for the port call by the United Nations staff.

The senior Yemeni energy official went on to highlight that a total of 54 fuel ships were expected to moor in Hudaydah port as a result of the UN-sponsored truce.

Only 33 vessels have arrived at the port since the ceasefire initially took effect on April 2 and was extended on June 2 for another two months.

The official argued that the United Nations and UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg have failed to pressure the Saudi-led military alliance into allowing Yemen-bound fuel ships.

“The truce agreement has not allowed for shipments of fuel to arrive in Hudaydah easily,” Mutawakil said.

He lambasted the United Nations for simply implementing an aid plan for war-torn Yemen, where millions face hunger, and dismally failing to lift the crippling siege imposed on the country.

Earlier this month, Grundberg said the extended UN-sponsored truce, running from August 2 to October 2, included a commitment from the parties to intensify negotiations to reach an expanded truce agreement as soon as possible.

Under the terms of the truce, commercial flights have resumed from the Yemeni capital of Sana’a to Jordan and Egypt, while oil tankers have been able to dock in the lifeline port city of Hodeida.

Moreover, in line with the agreement, the coalition agreed to end its attacks on Yemeni soil and end a simultaneous siege that it has been enforcing against Yemen.

Yemen has, however, reported many violations of the truce by the Saudi-led forces.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has martyred hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Israel troubled by Yemen’s booming military capabilities: Report

Israeli media has been trying to position Yemen as a new threat for Tel Aviv, just as its army readies for a possible conflict with Hezbollah

August 26 2022

(Photo credit: MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)

ByNews Desk- 

Sources close to Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement say Israel’s allegations that its jets attacked the Yemeni capital on 7 August are “evidence” of Tel Aviv’s growing concerns about Sanaa’s military capabilities.

Last week, Israeli chief of staff Aviv Kochavi said the Israeli army struck “a third country” during their bombardment of the Gaza Strip at the start of this month.

Kochavi did not name the third country, however, Israeli media later claimed the target of the attack was the Al-Hafa military base on the Naqam Mountain, west of Sanaa, adding that the blast killed several Lebanese and Iranian operatives.

Speaking to Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, the Yemeni sources called Tel Aviv’s claim “incorrect speculation,” and alleged that the explosion in Sanaa that day was the result of “the detonation of the remains of mines in the Al-Hafa area.”

The sources go on to say the allegations stem from Israel’s “terror over the development of Sanaa’s military capabilities.”

“Israel realizes that Yemen possesses great defensive and offensive capabilities that are capable of striking it,” Al-Akhbar’s sources say, adding: “Israeli fears of Yemeni drones and missiles have escalated since the beginning of the year.”

Ansarallah officials have often regarded Israel as the most prominent threat to Arab national security, and acknowledge that Tel Aviv has been participating in the Saudi-led aggression against Yemen.

“All Israeli movements in the region are being monitored,” the Yemeni sources claim.

As Israel prepares for a possible conflict with Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah over control of a gas field in the Mediterranean, Hebrew media outlets have begun planting the seeds of the “danger” posed by Yemen.

According to a “high-ranking security source” that spoke with Israel’s i24NEWS, Israel is considering the possibility of opening a front in the south of the occupied territories to confront Ansarallah missiles.

The security source goes on to claim that “the real danger facing Israel lies in Yemen,” and that the possibility of Ansarallah targeting Israel “is now a reality.”

Earlier this year, the Sanaa-based National Salvation Government (NSG) banned any normalization process with Israel, and criminalized any contact with the state or its citizens.

Sayyed Al-Houthi: Foreign Forces Pillaging Yemen’s Gas, Oil Resources

August 24, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The leader of Yemen’s popular Ansarullah resistance movement says foreign forces and their supporters in Yemen are pillaging the country’s gas and oil resources.

All of the country’s oil and gas resources have been plundered by “the invading coalition, thieves, and occupiers,” Sayyed Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said during a televised address on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms, logistical, and political support from the United States and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and crush Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has martyred hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

A UN-brokered truce came into force in April between the coalition and Ansarullah. The truce has been extended twice ever since.

Sayyed al-Houthi advised that the invading coalition seize the ceasefire opportunity to end its invasion of Yemen and a simultaneous siege that it has been imposing on the violence-weary country.

He asserted that it was not easy for Yemen to find a replacement for the natural resources’ revenues at the same time as the coalition maintained the siege.

“The all-out targeting of the nation and the severe inequity that is being exercised against it, entails that we take action towards confronting this oppression,” Sayyed al-Houthi stated.

Anyone, who does not prioritize confrontation with the aggressors, “is ignoring the size and purposes of this invasion,” Sayyed al-Houthi added, urging the Yemenis to retain their stances concerning the country’s independence.

He went on to say despite a temporary ceasefire, Yemeni forces preserve their complete readiness to confront the sinister goals that are potentially harbored by the country’s aggressors.

“One of our priorities during the temporary ceasefire period is to preserve a high level of preparedness and to pay attention to all of the enemies’ plots,” Sayyed al-Houthi said.

“Despite retaining our readiness during the current ceasefire period, we should not assume that the war is over and start concerning ourselves with other issues,” His Eminence added.

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Yemeni Resistance to Saudis: Missiles Will Rain Down on You If Siege Drags On

August 16, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The head of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council warned the Saudi-led coalition that a volley of missiles and drones will rain down on them should they continue the war and siege against the Yemeni people.

“Our missiles and drones will rain down on you if you insist on continuing your aggression and siege against the Yemeni people,” Mahdi al-Mashat said as cited by Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network.

He said the weaponry the US is selling to the Saudis and Emiratis is of no use against attacks by the Yemeni armed forces. “They will not protect you from our strikes,” Mashat told the two countries.

The top Yemeni official also said that the so-called “Anger Maneuvers” conducted by American and Saudi forces in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden are ineffective, adding that the Yemeni forces will make them “Escape Maneuvers.”

Neither the maneuvers nor the noise of those fleets in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden can “shake a hair on us,” he stated.

He further said that all the measures taken by the occupiers are “in vain” and “baseless,” as the Yemeni people have become irrepressible under their wise leadership.

“We do not hesitate to strike the enemy with the hardest blows and will take all [necessary] measures to stand up for our people’s right to a free, independent, and honorable life,” Mashat asserted.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Yemeni official voiced his country’s support for the Palestinians, saying that Yemen’s stance on the issue is “clear and unaltered.”

“We back Palestine and we are [suffering] invasion and siege due to our clear stance towards the occupying regime,” he concluded.

Enjoying arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states, Saudi Arabia led its regional allies, including the United Arab Emirates, into a catastrophic war on Yemen beginning in March 2015.

The invasion has been seeking to change Yemen’s ruling structure in favor of the impoverished country’s former Riyadh-friendly rulers and crush the popular Ansarullah resistance movement. The Saudi-led coalition, however, has failed to meet the two main objectives.

In April, a UN-brokered truce between the coalition and Ansarullah came into effect. The truce has since been extended twice, while Sana’a has accused Riyadh and its allies of breaching the ceasefire on countless occasions.

Earlier this month, the United Nations’ special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said that the extension, running from August 2 to October 2, included a commitment from the parties to intensify negotiations to reach an expanded truce agreement as soon as possible.

Moreover, in line with the agreement, the coalition agreed to end its attacks on Yemeni soil and lift a simultaneous siege that it has been enforcing against the country.

Yemen Won’t Be Silent Over Looting of Natural Resources – Al-Mashat

August 11, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A top Yemeni official condemned the incessant looting of the war-torn country’s natural resources, in particular natural gas and crude oil, saying the Yemeni nation will not remain silent over such plundering.

“We denounce the [Saudi-led] mercenaries for plundering the Yemeni people’s national assets and depositing the proceeds in a Saudi National Bank [SNB] account,” President of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council Mahdi al-Mashat underlined on Wednesday.

Stressing that the Yemeni nation lacks the most basic services, the official said the current freeze on the salaries of government employees, owing to the brutal Saudi-led aggression and unjust siege, can be resolved through oil revenues.

“The revenues of oil and gas looted by mercenaries are fairly enough to pay the salaries of civil servants and pensioners, and promote development,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Mashat called on the United Nations and the international community to pressure the Saudi-led coalition forces to fulfill their commitments under the Stockholm Agreement and facilitate payment of the salaries of all government employees and pensioners.

He further stressed that the Yemeni people “will not remain silent about the ongoing looting of their wealth, whose profits are converted by mercenaries into companies and real estate abroad.”

In a fresh development on Wednesday, the Yemen Petroleum Company [YPC] said the Saudi-led coalition has seized another Yemen-bound ship carrying fuel in blatant violation of the recently-extended ceasefire brokered by the UN.

The fuel ship, Symphony, was seized while carrying tens of thousands of tons of diesel oil, Yemen’s official Saba news agency reported, citing a statement by the YPC spokesman Essam al-Mutawakel.

Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Field Marshal Mahdi Muhammad Al-Mashat during the military parade of the Presidential Protection Brigades

Saudi airspace open before Israelis but not Yemenis: Al-Houthi

Aug 9 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Ansar Allah chief Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi underlines Sanaa’s stance in support of the Palestinian cause and condemns “Israel” and the United States.

Ansar Allah leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi during a speech on August 8, 2022 (Ansar Allah’s Website)

There are aggressive steps being taken against those who oppose the Israeli occupation and counter American hegemony and normalization, Ansar Allah leader Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi said on Monday.

“The Americans and the Israelis want to deviate the Ummah from the right path, and the Israeli-US views corrupt human society, especially the Islamic society,” Al-Houthi added.

“The Americans and Israelis cannot accept our nation being independent and rejecting subordination,” he said. “The enemies seek to deviate the Ummah so that  it is loyal, obedient, and submissive to them […] the Saudi airspace is open to the Israelis and closed to the Yemeni people.”

The main goal of the enemies, he said, is normalization, which is an approach they are taking toward many Arab regimes. He also stressed the Sanaa government’s stance in support of the Palestinian cause, calling on the Islamic and Arab countries to take an explicit stance against the Israeli occupation.

Regarding the recent Israeli offensives on Gaza, Al-Houthi said: “The recent Israeli escalation, which was confronted by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is a message that reminds us that the enemy continues to commit its crimes.”

“The Israeli tactic comprising of targeting a Palestinian faction while saying it is not targeting other factions is a means of trickery aimed at driving a wedge between the resistance factions,” Sayyed Al-Houthi underlined.

The Israeli occupation’s aggression on Gaza was conducted under the pretext of “Tel Aviv” targeting high-ranking officials in Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) while murdering dozens of innocent civilians, including children.

“The normalizing regime’s enmity toward the freedom fighters in Palestine is flagrant, so much so that the Saudi regime imprisoned humanitarian workers,” the Yemeni leader explained.

The leader of the Ansar Allah movement called on the Palestinian resistance factions “not to allow this Israeli tactic to succeed,” while urging the Palestinian people “to remain in a state of constant readiness to confront the enemies at any moment during the temporary truce.”

Al Mayadeen‘s source reported that there was a ceasefire agreement reached in the Gaza Strip on late Sunday. The sources noted that the agreement was reached with the Israeli occupation agreeing to the PIJ’s demands in full.

The Israeli occupation began on August 5 with aggression on the Gaza Strip on Friday, and Al-Quds Brigades announced that Tayseer Al-Jaabari, a military commander in the northern Gaza Strip, had been martyred.

Consequently, Al-Quds Brigades launched an operation in response to the Israeli occupation’s aggression on the Gaza Strip, by launching salvoes of rockets toward the occupied Palestinian territories.

Our correspondent reported that the death toll of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has reached 41 martyrs so far, with 311 others wounded.

Palestine Resists

Kicking off with a brutal Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip that claimed the lives of nearly a dozen civilians, including children, “Tel Aviv” is launching a campaign of aggression on the blockaded strip. This promoted the Palestinian resistance to take up arms against the occupation and resist its barbaric offensives.

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US Approves Massive Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

August 3, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The United States has approved massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates worth more than $5 billion, amid criticism of their ongoing military aggression in Yemen which has inflicted heavy civilian casualties.

The notice of approval came on Tuesday, two weeks after US President Joe Biden made a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia and met with Saudi leaders in an effort to reset strained relations with Riyadh.

The State Department said Saudi Arabia would buy 300 Patriot MIM-104E missile systems and related equipment for an estimated $3.05 billion. The missile systems can be used to shoot long-range incoming ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as fighter jets.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Gulf region,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The proposed sale will improve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling stock of PATRIOT GEM-T missiles,” it added.

Separately, the United States will sell Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] System Missiles and related equipment to the UAE for $2.25 billion.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important regional partner. The UAE is a vital US partner for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East,” the State Department said.

Although Tuesday’s approvals are for defensive weapons, they may still draw opposition in Congress, where lawmakers backed the Biden administration’s decision last year to ban US sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE because of their actions in Yemen.

The Biden administration is also considering lifting its ban on US sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Since the beginning of the war in 2015, the use of US weapons by the Saudi-led coalition in airstrikes on civilian targets in Yemen has been well documented.

As a candidate, Biden had vowed to make the Saudi kingdom a “pariah” on the global stage over the war in Yemen as well as the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and political dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Soon after taking office, Biden appeared to be delivering on the promise, when he declared in February 2021 a halt to US support for the Saudi military operations in Yemen, including “relevant arms sales.”

His administration also released US intelligence findings that concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] personally approved the operation targeting Khashoggi.

Biden, however, has softened his approach in recent months, moving to improve US relations with Saudi Arabia in the hope of getting the world’s top oil exporter to increase oil production in order to offset loss of Russian supplies to the global market and drive down gasoline prices at home.

MBS: Despot in The Desert

July 31, 2022 

Nicolas Pelham- The Economist

No one wanted to play football with Muhammad bin Salman. Sure, the boy was a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, but so were 15,000 other people. His classmates preferred the company of his cousins, who were higher up the assumed order of succession, a childhood acquaintance recalls. As for the isolated child who would one day become crown prince, a family friend recounts hearing him called “little Saddam”.

Home life was tricky for bin Salman, too (he is now more commonly known by his initials, [MBS]. His father, Salman, already had five sons with his first wife, an educated woman from an elite urban family. MBS’s mother, Salman’s third wife, was a tribeswoman. When MBS visited the palace where his father lived with his first wife, his older half-brothers mocked him as the “son of a Bedouin”. Later, his elder brothers and cousins were sent to universities in America and Britain. The Bedouin offspring of Prince Salman stayed in Riyadh to attend King Saud University.

As young adults, the royals sometimes cruised on superyachts together; MBS was reportedly treated like an errand boy, sent onshore to buy cigarettes. A photo from one of these holidays shows a group of 16 royals posing on a yacht-deck in shorts and sunglasses, the hills of the French Riviera behind them. In the middle is MBS’s cousin, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor dubbed “the Arabian Warren Buffett”. MBS, tall and broad-shouldered in a white t-shirt, is pushed to the farthest edge.

Fast forward to today, and MB has moved to the center of the frame, the most important decision-maker in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy but MBS’s 86-year-old father, though nominally head of state, is rarely seen in public anymore. It has been clear for several years that MBS is in charge. “In effect,” a former Saudi intelligence agent told me, “King Salman is no longer king.”

At first glance the 36-year-old prince looks like the ruler many young Saudis had been waiting for, closer in age to his people than any previous king – 70% of the Saudi population is under 30. The millennial autocrat is said to be fanatical about the video game “Call of Duty”: he blasts through the inertia and privileges of the mosque and royal court as though he were fighting virtual opponents on screen.

His restless impatience and disdain for convention have helped him push through reforms that many thoughts wouldn’t happen for generations. The most visible transformation of Saudi Arabia is the presence of women in public where once they were either absent or closely guarded by their husband or father. There are other changes, too. Previously, the kingdom offered few diversions besides praying at the mosque; today you can watch Justin Bieber in concert, sing karaoke or go to a Formula 1 race. A few months ago, I even went to a rave in a hotel….

But embracing Western consumer culture doesn’t mean embracing Western democratic values: it can as easily support a distinctively modern, surveillance state. On my recent trips to Saudi Arabia, people from all levels of society seemed terrified about being overheard voicing disrespect or criticism, something I’d never seen there before. “I’ve survived four kings,” said a veteran analyst who refused to speculate about why much of Jeddah, the country’s second-largest city, is being bulldozed: “Let me survive a fifth.”

The West, beguiled by promises of change and dependent on Saudi oil, at first seemed prepared to ignore MBS’s excesses. Then, in late 2018, Saudi officials in Istanbul murdered a Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. Even the most pro-Saudi leaders turned away.

…. After Putin invaded Ukraine in February, the price of crude shot up. Boris Johnson was on a plane within weeks. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, previously a sworn enemy of the crown prince, embraced MBS in Riyadh in April. War even forced America’s president into a humiliating climbdown. On the campaign trail in 2020 Joe Biden had vowed to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah”. But on July 15th he went to make his peace with MBS– trying to avoid shaking MBS’s hand, he instead opted for a fist bump that left the two looking all the chummier. Even critics at home acknowledged MBs’s victory. “He made Biden look weak,” said a Saudi columnist in Jeddah. “He stood up to a superpower and won before the world.”

For MBS, this is a moment of triumph. His journey from the fringe of a photograph to the heart of power is almost complete. He will probably be king for decades. During that time, his country’s oil will be needed to sate the world’s enduring demand for energy.

A kingdom where the word of one man counts for so much depends utterly on his character. The hope is that, with his position secure, MBS will forswear the vengefulness and intolerance that produced Khashoggi’s murder. But some, among them his childhood classmates, fear something darker. They are reminded of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, a one-time modernizer who became so addicted to accumulating power that he turned reckless and dangerous. “At first power bestows grandeur,” a former Western intelligence officer told me, of MBS. “But then comes the loneliness, suspicion and fear that others will try to grab what you grabbed.”

During the early years of MBS’s ascent, I was vaguely aware of him as one prince among many. I probably wouldn’t have paid him much attention if an old contact of mine hadn’t joined his staff. His new boss, my contact said, was serious about shaking things up. He arranged the meeting at a faux-ancient mud-brick village on the outskirts of Riyadh in 2016. As my Economist colleagues and I approached, the gates of MBS’s compound suddenly slid open, like a Bond-villain’s lair. In the inner chamber sat MBS.

Reform has often been promised in Saudi Arabia – usually in response to American hectoring – but successive kings lacked the mettle to push change through. When the Al-Saud conquered Arabia in the 1920s, they made an alliance with an ultra-conservative religious group called the Wahhabis. In 1979, after a group of religious extremists staged a brief armed takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Al-Saud decided to make the kingdom more devout to fend off a possible Islamic revolution, as had just happened in Iran. Wahhabi clerics were empowered to run society as they saw fit.

The Wahhabis exercised control through the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, otherwise known as the religious police. They whacked the ankles of women whose hair poked through their veil and lashed the legs of men who wore shorts. The arrangement suited the House of Saud. Wahhabism provided social control and gave legitimacy to the Saudi state, leaving the royals free to enjoy their oil wealth in the more permissive environments of London and Paris, or behind the gates of their palaces.

I’m loth to admit it now, but as the prince talked in Riyadh about his plans to modernize society and the economy, I was impressed by his enthusiasm, vision and command of the details. He gave what turned out to be accurate answers about how and when his reforms would happen. Though he was not yet crown prince, he frequently referred to Saudi Arabia as “my” country. We arrived at around 9pm. At 2am, MBS was still in full flow.

MBS was affable, self-assured, smiling. His advisers were more subdued. If they spoke at all, it was to robotically repeat their master’s lines. Yet when MBS left the room to take a call, they started chatting animatedly. As the prince re-entered, silence fell.

Like many in those early years, I was excited about what MBS might do for the kingdom. When I returned to the capital a few months later I saw a number of men wearing shorts. I kept looking over my shoulder for the religious police, but none came – they had been stripped of their powers of arrest.

As crown prince, MBS introduced a code of law so that judicial sentencing accords with state guidelines, not a judge’s own interpretation of the Koran. He criminalized stoning to death and forced marriage. The most overt change involved the role of women. MBS attacked guardianship laws that prevented women from working, travelling, owning a passport, opening a business, having hospital treatment or divorcing without approval from a male relative. In practice, many Saudi women have found these new rights hard to claim in a patriarchal society, and men can still file claims of disobedience against female relatives. But MBS’s reforms were more than cosmetic. Some clerics were jailed; the rest soon fell into line.

For foreigners, Riyadh is less forbidding these days. “I’m afraid I’ll be caught for not drinking,” a teetotal businessman told me. “There’s cocaine, alcohol and hookers like I haven’t seen in southern California,” says another party-goer. “It’s really heavy-duty stuff”.

When MBS first entered public life, he had a reputation for being as strait-laced as his father, rare among royals. That quickly changed. Many of the people interviewed for this article said that they believe MBS frequently uses drugs, which he denies. A court insider says that in 2015 his friends decided that he needed some r&r on an island in the Maldives. According to investigative journalists Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck in their book “Blood and Oil”, 150 models were recruited to join the gathering and were then shuttled “by golf cart to a medical center to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases”. Several international music stars were flown in, including Afrojack, a Dutch dj. Then the press blew MBS cover.

Thereafter, the prince preferred to unwind off the Red Sea coast. At weekends his entourage formed a flotilla by mooring their yachts around his, Serene, which has a driving range and a cinema. According to a former official, “dj MBS”, as his friends called him, would spin the discs wearing his trademark cowboy hat. The yacht is only one of the luxuries MBS has splurged on. He also bought a £230m ersatz French chateau near Versailles, built in 2008 (the meditation room doubles as an aquarium). He is said to have boasted that he wanted to be the first trillionaire.

We put these and other allegations in this article to MBS’s representatives. Through the Saudi embassy in London, they issued a broad denial, saying “the allegations are denied and are without foundation.”

MBS’s loosening of social mores reflects the values of many of his youthful peers, in Saudi and beyond – as does his taste for the flashier side of life. Yet despite the social revolution, the prince is no keener than Wahhabi clerics on letting people think for themselves. Shortly before lifting a ban on women driving in 2018, MBS’s officials imprisoned Loujain al-Hathloul, one of the leaders of the campaign for women’s rights. Her family say jailers waterboarded and electrocuted her, and that Saud al-Qahtani, one of MBS’s closest advisers, was present during her torment and threatened to rape her. [A un investigation found reasonable grounds to believe that Qahtani was involved in the torture of female activists. Qahtani allegedly told one of these women: “I’ll do whatever I like to you, and then I’ll dissolve you and flush you down the toilet.”] Hathloul was charged with inciting change to the ruling system. The message was clear: only one person was allowed to do that.

MBS is ruthlessly ambitious – he reportedly loved reading about Alexander the Great as a teenager – but he also owes his rise to some extraordinary twists of fortune. Succession can be an unpredictable affair in Saudi Arabia. The monarchy is only two generations old, founded in 1932, and the crown has so far moved from brother to brother among the founding ruler’s sons. That has become harder as the prospective heirs age. MBS’s father wasn’t tipped to be king, but after his two older brothers died unexpectedly in 2011 and 2012, he was catapulted up the line of succession.

When Salman became the heir-designate aged 76, he needed a chief of staff. Most courtiers expected him to choose one of the suave, English-speaking children of his first wife. Instead he appointed a son who spoke Arabic with a guttural Bedouin accent. [MBS has learned English fast since then: when we met in 2016 he sometimes corrected his translator.]

The choice to elevate MBS was less surprising to those who knew his father well. Salman had dedicated himself to his job as governor of Riyadh rather than chasing more lucrative commissions, and was a stickler for 8am starts, even in his 70s. He was known as the family disciplinarian, not averse to giving wayward royals a thwack with his walking stick or even a spell in his private prison. He clearly saw something of himself in his sixth son. MBS might love video games, but he was also a hard worker and keen to advance.

MBS put few limits on what he was prepared to do to achieve control. He earned the nickname Abu Rasasa – father of the bullet – after widespread rumors that he sent a bullet in the post to an official who ruled against him in a land dispute [Saudi officials have previously denied this rumor]. He was fearsome in private, too. “There are these terrible tempers, smashing up offices, trashing the palace,” says a source with palace connections. “He’s extremely violent.” Several associates describe him as having wild mood swings. Two former palace insiders say that, during an argument with his mother, he once sprayed her ceiling with bullets. According to multiple sources and news reports, he has locked his mother away.

It’s hard to say how many wives he has; officially, there’s just one, a glamorous princess called Sara bint Mashour, but courtiers say he has at least one more. MBS presents his family life as normal and happy: earlier this year he told the Atlantic magazine that he eats breakfast with his children each morning [he has three boys and two girls, according to Gulf News – the eldest is said to be 11]. One diplomat spoke of MBS’s kindness to his wife. But other sources inside the royal circle say that, on at least one occasion, Princess Sara was so badly beaten by her husband that she had to seek medical treatment.

We put this and other allegations in this piece to MBS’s representatives, who described them as “plain fabrication”, adding that “the kingdom is unfortunately used to false allegations made against its leadership, usually based on politically [or other] motivated malicious sources, particularly discredited individuals who have a long record of fabrications and baseless claims.”

MBS finally got a taste of political power in 2015 when Salman became king. Salman appointed his son deputy crown prince and minister of defense. One of MBS’s first moves was to launch a war in neighboring Yemen. Even America, the kingdom’s closest military ally, was told only at the last minute.

There was an obvious obstacle in MBS’s path to the throne: his cousin, the 57-year-old heir-designate, Muhammad bin Nayef. Bin Nayef was the intelligence chief and the kingdom’s main interlocutor with the CIA. He was widely credited with stamping out al-Qaeda in Saudi after 9/11. In June 2017 bin Nayef was summoned to meet the elderly king at his palace in Mecca.

The story of what happened next has emerged from press reports and my interviews. It seems that bin Nayef arrived by helicopter and took the lift to the fourth floor. Instead of the monarch, MBS’sagents were waiting. Bin Nayef was stripped of his weapons and phone, and told that a royal council had dismissed him. He was left alone to consider his options. Seven hours later, a court videographer filmed the charade of MBS kissing his cousin, then accepting his abdication as crown prince. King Salman kept a back seat throughout. Bin Nayef is now in detention [his uncle, who also had a claim to the throne, apparently intervened to try and protect bin Nayef, but was himself later detained]. The staged resignation – an old trick of Saddam Hussein’s – would become MBS’s signature move.

That was just the warm-up act. In October 2017 MBS hosted an international investment conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. At “Davos in the desert”, the likes of Christine Lagarde, Son Masayoshi and other business glitterati listened to MBS’s pitch for Saudi Arabia’s post-oil future, including the construction of Neom, a new $500bn “smart city”. The event was a hit. Diplomatic grumblings about the war in Yemen or the fate of America’s security partner, Muhammad bin Nayef, faded.

The gathering was also an opportunity to invite back royals who were often abroad. Once the foreigners had left, MBS pounced. Hundreds of princes and businessmen were swept up. According to a biography of MBS by Ben Hubbard, a New York Times journalist, one of them realized something was amiss only when they got to their hotel room: there were no pens, razors or glasses – nothing that could be used as a weapon.

MBS held the detainees in the Ritz-Carlton for several weeks [the Marriott and other hotels were also commandeered to house the overflow]. Prisoners’ phones were confiscated. Some were said to have been hooded, deprived of sleep and beaten until they agreed to transfer money and hand over an inventory of their assets. All told, MBS’s guests at the Ritz-Carlton coughed up about $100bn.

Even royals previously thought untouchable, such as the powerful prince who ran the national guard, got similar treatment. Princess Basma, the youngest child of the second king of Saudi Arabia, was jailed for three years without charge or access to a lawyer; after being released she still had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, according to a close associate of hers.

The crushing of the royals and business elite was billed as a crackdown on corruption – and undoubtedly it netted many corruptly acquired assets, which MBS said would be returned to the Saudi treasury. The methods, however, looked more like something from a gangster film than a judicial procedure.

Interrogations were overseen by Saud al-Qahtani, who reported directly to MBS whenever a detainee broke and gave out their bank details. [All the allegations in this piece concerning Qahtani were put to him via his lawyer. No response was given.] Qahtani had installed himself as one of MBS’s favored henchmen, though earlier in his career, he’d plotted against Salman and his son, trying to sideline them with rumors that Salman had dementia. Qahtani was so loyal to the former faction that he’d named his son after his then boss. According to a former courtier, on the day of the old king’s funeral the two men had it out: MBS slapped Qahtani in the face. Later, MBS let Qahtani prove his worth and brought him on to his staff. Qahtani duly named his younger son Muhammad.

On paper, Qahtani was a communications adviser, a former journalist who understood Twitter and used an army of bots and loyal followers to intimidate critics on social media [his office included giant screens and holograms that staff used for target-practice with laser guns]. In practice he was entrusted with MBS’s most important and violent missions – the ones that established his grip on power.

His remit extended far beyond Saudi’s borders. In 2016 he kidnapped Prince Sultan, a minor royal who had been bad-mouthing MBS. MBS offered his jet to fly Sultan from Paris to Cairo – instead, the plane was diverted to Saudi Arabia. According to Hope’s and Scheck’s book, Qahtani posed as Captain Saud, an airline pilot, though surprisingly one who had an expensive Hublot watch.

Even people who have nothing to do with politics have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone

With rendition strategies like this, and the cash tap shut off, even royals who weren’t inside the Ritz-Carlton felt the pressure to divest themselves of ostentatious assets. The father of the Saudi ambassador to Britain put Glympton Park, his beloved 2,000-acre estate in the Cotswolds, up for sale. Riyadh’s jewellers did a roaring trade pawning the diamonds of lesser royals. “It’s like the Romanovs selling their Fabergé eggs,” said an adviser to an auction house.

Many commoners rejoiced at the downfall of their entitled elite. Princes and princesses who once lived off huge handouts began looking for jobs. Their titles became irrelevant. Unable to afford the cost of irrigation, their green ranches became desert again. Banks turned them away. One financial adviser recalled his response to princes trying to get credit on the strength of their royal status: “You call yourselves princes, but they say there’s only one prince now.”

The Ritz-Carlton episode was just one element of an extraordinary project of centralization. MBS yanked control of various security services back from the princes. He took charge of Aramco, the semi-autonomous state oil company. He installed himself as boss of the sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. “He destroyed all the powerful families,” says a retired diplomat. By late 2017, law, money and security in Saudi all flowed directly from him.

Among those who lost out were the fellow princes who had pushed a young MBS to the edge of the family photo on the yacht all those years ago. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in the center of that shot, surrendered part of his $17bn wealth. As the shakedown widened, MBS’s elder half-siblings put up their yacht for sale. Many of his cousins were locked up. “Payback time,” one victim said.

While MBS was squeezing the elite at home, he was forging some important friendships abroad.

MBS and Donald Trump, who was elected president in 2016, had a lot in common. Both had the hunger of the underdog and loathed the snooty policymaking establishments in their countries; they reveled in provocation. The historic compact, by which Saudi Arabia provided oil to American consumers and America guaranteed the country’s security, had frayed in recent years. Barack Obama’s hurried exit from Iraq in 2011 and his nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 had left Saudi Arabia worried that it could no longer rely on American protection. America’s development of its own shale-oil reserves had also reduced its dependence on Saudi oil. Then Trump and MBS got cozy.

With the Trump administration’s tacit [and sometimes explicit] support, MBS set about treating the entire Middle East much as he did Saudi Arabia, trying to push aside rulers whom he found to be inconvenient. He announced a blockade of Qatar, a tiny gas-rich state to the east of Saudi Arabia. In 2017, angered by Lebanon’s dealings with Iran, MBS invited the prime minister, Saad Hariri, a long-time beneficiary of Saudi patronage, on a starlit camping trip. Hariri turned up, had his phone confiscated and soon found himself reading out a resignation speech on tv.

Both moves ultimately backfired. But Trump’s Middle East adviser, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, did little to discourage such antics. Together, he and MBS dreamt up a new regional order over WhatsApp, calling each other “Jared” and “Muhammad”. Their rapport was so great that, at Kushner’s prompting, MBS started the process of recognizing “Israel”. His father, still officially king, put a stop to that.

MBS visited America in March 2018, hanging out in Silicon Valley with Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, and meeting celebrities, including Rupert Murdoch, James Cameron and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. Many people were keen to meet the man who controlled a $230bn sovereign-wealth fund. To his frustration, they were less willing to reciprocate by investing in the kingdom.

That October the intercontinental bonhomie came to an abrupt halt. I was due to go to a conference in Turkey that month. A Saudi journalist I knew, Jamal Khashoggi, got in touch to suggest meeting up: he was also going to be in Istanbul, for an appointment at the consulate. Khashoggi was a court insider whose criticisms of MBS in the Washington Post and elsewhere had attracted much attention. He seemed to be making more effort than usual to stay in touch. While I was at the conference a friend of his phoned me: Jamal still hadn’t emerged from the consulate, he said. By the time I got there, Turkish police were cordoning off the building.

The full story soon came out in leaked intelligence reports and, later, a un inquiry. A Saudi hit squad, which reportedly coordinated with Saud al-Qahtani, had flown to Istanbul. As they waited for Khashoggi to enter the consulate, they discussed plans for dismembering his body. According to tapes recorded inside the consulate by Turkish intelligence, Khashoggi was told, “We’re coming to get you.” There was a struggle, followed by the sound of plastic sheets being wrapped. A CIA report said that MBS approved the operation.

MBS has said he takes responsibility for the murder, but denies ordering it. He sacked Qahtani and another official implicated in the intelligence reports. The fallout was immediate. Companies and speakers pulled out of that year’s Davos in the desert; the Gates Foundation ended its partnership with Misk, an artistic and educational charity set up by the prince. Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent, cancelled a $400m deal with the kingdom.

The crown prince seems to have been genuinely surprised at the animus – “disappointed”, says an associate. Hadn’t he committed to all the reforms the West had been asking for? Perhaps he had underestimated the outcry provoked by going after a well-connected international figure, as opposed to a royal unknown outside Saudi Arabia. Or perhaps he understood Western governments’ priorities better than they did themselves. They had done little when Muhammad bin Nayef, their partner in battling terrorism, had disappeared; they had shrugged at reports of torture in the Ritz-Carlton, and at MBS’s reckless bombardment of Yemen. Why did they have so much to say about the killing of a single journalist?

Three years after the Khashoggi killing, Davos in the desert opened with the singer Gloria Gaynor. As images of smiling children flashed up on a giant screen behind her, she broke into her disco anthem, “I Will Survive”, asking the audience: “Did you think I’d crumble? Did you think I’d lay down and die?”

The chief executives of private-equity giants BlackRock and Blackstone were back, as were the heads of Goldman Sachs, SocGen and Standard Chartered. Even Amazon sent a representative despite the fact that its boss, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post, the paper that employed Khashoggi. Meanwhile, Qahtani was creeping back into favor at the royal court – although he had been implicated by the un for Khashoggi’s murder, a Saudi court took the decision not to charge him.

MBS revitalized the near-dormant sovereign-wealth fund, pumping tens of billions of dollars into tech, entertainment and sports, to create a softer, more appealing image of Saudi and co-opt new partners. In April 2020, the fund led a consortium to buy Newcastle United, a premier-league football team [the deal took 18 months]. The following year it launched an audacious bid to create Saudi’s own golf tour, the LIV series, hoping to lure players with a prize pot of $255m, far larger than that of American tournaments. At the first LIV tour this year, some top players boycotted the event, others went for the cash.

Joe Biden has proved tougher to woo. Soon after becoming president, Biden withdrew American military support for the war in Yemen. He wouldn’t talk to MBS, insisting that communications go through King Salman instead. He didn’t even nominate an ambassador to Riyadh for 15 months. The chat everywhere was that Saudi-American relations were in a deep freeze. Then, in February 2022, MBS had a stroke of luck: Russia invaded Ukraine.

In the days after war broke out, Biden himself tried to call MBS. The crown prince declined to speak to the president. He did take Putin’s call, however. The two men were already close. MBS had personally brought Russia into an expanded version of the OPEC cartel in order for Saudi Arabia to keep control of global oil production. Putin cemented the friendship in 2018 at the g20 summit in Buenos Aires, which took place weeks after the Khashoggi killing. While Western leaders shunned MBS, Putin gave the Saudi ruler a high-five before sitting down next to him.

MBS’s defiance of America seems to have paid off. After months of evasion, Biden reluctantly agreed to meet MBS in Jeddah in July, on the prince’s own turf and his own terms. The visit gave MBS recognition but did little to rebuild relations. There wasn’t even a concrete assurance of increasing oil production.

Some in the American foreign-policy establishment remain hopeful that MBS could become a helpful partner in the region, pointing to his recent retreat from confrontation with Qatar and his eagerness to find a diplomatic exit from Yemen. Perhaps, they say, he is maturing as a leader.

This seems optimistic. MBS’s disastrous campaign in Yemen was ostensibly in support of the country’s president but in April, hours after being summoned to a meeting and offered Arabic coffee and dates, Yemen’s president was reading out a resignation speech on tv. MBS took it upon himself to get rid of him personally – suggesting that his mode of international diplomacy remains as high-handed as ever. “What they’ve learned”, says one foreign analyst, “is don’t murder journalists who dine regularly with congressmen in the United States.”

The West has taught MBS something else, too – something that autocrats the world over may draw comfort from. No matter the sin, they would argue, if you sit tight through the odium and fury, eventually the financiers, the celebrities, even the Western leaders, will come running back. At 36, MBS has time on his side. Some observers fear that he may become only more dangerous as oil reserves start to decline and the treasure trove shrinks. “What happens when he’s a middle-aged man ruling a middle-income country and starts to get bored?” asks a diplomat who knows MBS personally. “Will he go on more adventures?”

Earlier this year, I visited an old friend in his office in Saudi Arabia. Before we started talking, he put his phone in a pouch that blocks the signal, to prevent government spies from listening in. Dissidents do that kind of thing in police states like China, but I’d never seen it before in Saudi Arabia. It isn’t just people involved with politics who are taking such precautions: most Saudis have become afraid to speak near a functioning mobile phone. People used to talk fairly openly in their offices, homes and cafés. Now, they are picked up for almost nothing.

As we chatted over the whir of his office air conditioning, my friend reeled off a list of people he knew who had been detained in the past month: a retired air-force chief who died in prison, a hospital administrator hauled away from his desk, a mother taken in front of her seven children, a lawyer who died seven days after his release from prison. “These people aren’t rabble rousers,” my friend said. “No one understands why.”

Officially, the government says it has no political prisoners. Rights groups reckon that thousands have been swept up in MBS’s dragnet. I’ve covered the Middle East since the 1990s and can’t think of anywhere where so many of my own contacts are behind bars.

Few ordinary Saudis predicted that when MBS was done trampling on the elites and the clerics, he would come for them next. Bringing Saudis into the modern, networked, online world has made it easier for the state to monitor what they are saying. A Red Crescent employee called Abdulrahman al-Sadhan used to run a satirical Twitter account under a pseudonym. In 2018 MBS’s agents arrested him and held him incommunicado for two years. American prosecutors later charged two former Twitter employees with allegedly handing over the real names behind various accounts to a Saudi official – al-Sadhan’s family believes that his name was among them. [The trial of one employee is ongoing; he denies passing on information to Saudi officials.]

On the face of it, MBS has nothing to worry about. Public opinion polls – if they can be trusted – suggest he is popular, particularly with younger Saudis. But there is a growing sense that discontent is brewing beneath the surface. MBS has broken crucial social contracts with the Saudi populace, by reducing handouts while, at the same time, dispensing with the tradition of hearing the feedback of ordinary people after Friday prayers.

It isn’t hard to imagine some of the issues they’d raise if they had the chance. Many people are struggling as the cost of living rises. When other governments were cushioning their citizens during the pandemic, MBS slashed fuel subsidies and tripled vat. Unable to afford the cost of pumping water, some farmers left crops to wither in the field. Fees for permits and fines have spiraled, too. Though MBS speaks eloquently about the country’s youth, he is struggling to find them jobs. Unemployment remains stubbornly stuck in double digits. Half of the jobless have a university degree, but most white-collar workers I met on MBS’s mega-projects were foreign.

Saudi Arabia’s attempts to diversify its economy – and so compensate for the long-term decline of oil reserves – isn’t going well either. The pandemic delayed plans for a rapid increase in international tourism. Extorting billions of dollars from your relatives may not be the best way to convince investors that the kingdom is a liberal haven.

The young prince has reversed even the baby steps towards democracy taken by previous kings. Municipal elections have been suspended – as a cost-cutting exercise, explains the supine press. The Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 people, has only met online since the pandemic [other institutions have gathered in person for months]. “I wish I had more of a voice,” said one member. Whenever I mentioned the prince, his leg twitched.

A frequent visitor to the royal court says MBS now gives the impression of someone who’s always thinking that people are plotting against him. He seems to be preoccupied with loyalty. He fills key posts either with young royals, foreigners with no local base to threaten him or people he has already broken. A government minister, Ibrahim Assaf, was one of those locked up in the Ritz-Carlton – two months later MBS sent him to the World Economic Forum as his representative. A senior executive on one of his construction projects is someone who says he was tortured in one of his prisons. “He went from being strung naked from his ankles, beaten and stripped of all his assets to a high-level project manager,” says a close acquaintance of the man.

All remain vulnerable to MBS’s tantrums. Saudi sources say he once locked a minister in a toilet for ten hours. [The minister later appeared on tv blabbering platitudes about the prince’s wisdom.] A senior official I’ve spoken to says he wants out. “Everyone in his circle is terrified of him,” says an insider. And that could make it hard for him to govern a country of 35m people effectively. Former courtiers say no one close to MBS is prepared to offer a truthful assessment of whether his increasingly grandiose schemes are viable. “Saying no”, says one, “is not something they will ever do.”

If MBS has a mission beyond extending his power, you might expect to find it in Neom, the city he promised to build in the desert. Neom would be nothing less than “a civilizational leap for humanity”, he said in 2017. Head-spinning details followed. The city’s food would be grown on hydroponic walls on a floating structure. It would be powered by the world’s largest green-hydrogen plant. Thousands of snow-blowers would create a ski resort on a nearby mountain. One day it would have driverless cars and passenger drones.

According to the official timetable, the main city would be completed by 2020. Further districts would be added by 2025. The prince’s tourism minister, Ahmed al-Khateeb, dismissed rumors that the timetable was proving over-ambitious. “Come see with your eyes and not with your ears,” he urged. So, I went.

Finding Neom was the first problem. There were no road signs to it. After three hours’ drive we came to the spot indicated by the map. It was bare, but for the odd fig tree. Camels strolled across the empty highway. Piles of rubble lined the road, remnants of the town bulldozed to make way for the mighty metropolis.

The designated area is nearly the size of Belgium. As far as I could tell, only two projects had been completed, MBS’s palace, and something Google Earth calls “The Neom Experience Centre” [when I drove to see it, it was obscured by a prefabricated hut]. The only other solid building I could see was a hotel constructed before Neom was conceived: The Royal Tulip. A poster in the lobby urged me to “Discover Neom”. But when I asked for a guide the hotel manager cursed my sister with Arabic vulgarities and tried to shoo me away. There was no sign of the media hub with “frictionless facilitation”, “advanced infrastructure” and “collaborative ecosystems” promised by the Neom website. Neom’s head of communications and media, Wayne Borg, said he was “out of Kingdom at present”.

The hotel restaurant was teeming with consultants – all the ones I met were foreign. I later found a Saudi project manager. “We think we’re about to start working, but every two months the consultants coin a new plan,” he told me. “They’re still doing plans of plans.” There was a kind of manic short-termism among these foreigners. Many were paid $40,000 a month, plus handsome bonuses. “It’s like riding a bull,” one of the Neom consultants told me. “You know you’re gonna fall, that no one can last on a bull longer than a minute and a half, two minutes, so you make the most of it.”

Despite the high salaries, there are reports that foreigners are leaving the Neom project because they find the gap between expectations and reality so stressful. The head of Neom is said by his friends to be “terrified” at the lack of progress.

Eventually, I found a retired Saudi air-force technician who offered to drive me around the city for $600. He took me to a sculpture standing in the desert with the words, “I love Neom”. A short way farther on we found a new stretch of tarmac, said to mark the edge of the dream city. Beyond it, the lone and level sands stretched far away.

بايدن في جولته الشرق أوسطية.. النفط مقابل حقوق الإنسان

تموز 16 2022

المصدر: الميادين نت

فاطمة فتوني 

استعراض ود بين “تل أبيب” والرياض. حقوق أفراد وشعوب في مهبّ المصالح الدولية، كيف سارت زيارة الرئيس الأميركي بايدن للمنطقة معاكسةً لاتجاه الخطاب الأميركي المعلَن بشأن حقوق الإنسان والحريات ؟

“المملكة العربية السعودية منبوذة، وستدفع ثمن مقتل الصحافي السعودي، جمال خاشقجي”. ( المتحدثة باسم البيت الأبيض كارين جان بيير ، بتاريخ 2 حزيران/يونيو 2022).

لا يزال صدى تصريح الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن، حاضراً، عندما تعهَّد أن يجعل السعودية “منبوذة”، ربطاً بجريمة  قتل الصحافي جمال خاشقجي، عندما كان على عتبة دخول البيت الأبيض.

تصل المواجهة بين الأطلسي وروسيا إلى حدّ لم يعد بايدن يرى في السعودية إلّا النفط. أمّا جمال خاشقجي، فليس إلّا ملفّاً أُغلِق وطُوِي. وأكثر التصريحات انتقاداً، بحقّ من أثبتت الـcia تورّطه في قتل الصّحافيّ السعودي، طبعتها المجاملة والمناورات الكلامية.

من “تل أبيب” إلى الرياض لم يرَ بايدن أيَّ انتهاكاتٍ لأيّ حقوقٍ، وتجاهلَ كل القضايا التي كانت في سلَّم أولوياته، عندما فاز بالرئاسة. ومن منبوذة أميركياً، بأدلة إدانة جنائية، الى شريكة تجلس إلى الطاولة. هكذا نسف الرئيس الاميركي كل تعهداته أمام حاجته إلى النفط السعودي، وسعيه لحماية “إسرائيل” وأمنها.

عندما قام الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب بأول زيارة رئاسية له للسعودية، تمّ الترحيب به شخصياً من جانب الملك سلمان. أمّا بايدن فكان في استقباله، في مدرج المطار، حاكم مكة والسفيرة السعودية لدى الولايات المتحدة. 

دخل بايدن القصر الملكي يتقدّمه ابن سلمان من دون حديث أو كلام، كما كانت العادة، عند استقبال أي رئيس أو مسؤول عربي أو أجنبي. مشهد عكس برودة العلاقات، التي اضطر الأميركي إلى أن يضعها على نار أزمات المنطقة من جديد. لغة الجسد قد تكون أبلغ من أي كلام. البداية كانت بمصافحة “مترددة”، حفظاً لماء الوجه، بضرب قبضتَي اليدين، بذريعة فيروس “كورونا”، علماً بأن بايدن صافح قادة “إسرائيل”، وعانق مَن قابله بقبضة اليد.

هذا اللقاء كان بايدن قال إنّه لن يحدث. لكن، من الواضح أنه لا بد منه للولايات المتحدة مع مملكة غنية بالنفط، في لحظة تغيّرات جيوسياسية، لم تحقّق من خلالها حتى الآن أي إنجاز في المواجهة مع روسيا في أوكرانيا.

يُشار إلى أنّه، حين سُئل بايدن بشأن خاشقجي، كان جوابه أن ولي العهد السعودي، محمد بن سلمان، وعد بأنه “إذا حدث أي شيء كهذا مرة أخرى، فسيكون هناك رد، وربما أكثر من ذلك كثيراً”؛ أي أن القضية أُقفلت، مع اعتراف ضمني بمسؤولية ابن سلمان عنها.

وتحدّث الرئيس الأميركي في زيارته عن إنجازات في السعودية. لكن، تبقى الملفات الكبرى متعثّرة، ولاسيما مع تأكيد حكومة صنعاء رفضَها سلاماً مُجْتَزَأً. وعلى الصعيد الاقتصادي، يشير موقع “بوليتيكو” إلى أنّ السعودية تواجه صعوبات في تحقيق أهداف إنتاج النفط.

وبين الاستقبال والإنجازات المزعومة، من جهة، وادعاء دفاع الولايات المتحدة عن حقوق الإنسان، من جهة أخرى، يبرز ملف جمال خاشقجي الذي تنكَّر بايدن لكل التعهدات التي رفعها خلال حملته الانتخابية، والقاضية بمحاسبة قتلته، كما تبرز أيضاً “تبرئة” القضاء الأميركي لـ”إسرائيل من جريمة اغتيال الصحافية الشهيدة، شيرين أبو عاقلة. وهذا الأمر يكشف زيف ازدواجية معايير حقوق الإنسان لدى الولايات المتحدة.

تبدو المحاولات الأميركية لإخفاء المبرِّر الحقيقي للزيارة متعثرة للغاية، إذ صرّح بايدن، في مؤتمر صحافي، عقده عقب لقائه قادة دول “الناتو” في قمة مدريد، بأنّ الغرض من زيارته السعودية “ليس الضغط عليها من أجل زيادة إنتاج النفط“. لكنّه أوضح، لدى سؤاله عما إذا كان سيطلب من القادة السعوديين زيادة إنتاج النفط، أنّه “يتعيّن على جميع دول الخليج زيادة إنتاج النفط، بصورة عامة، وليس السعودية على وجه الخصوص”، مشيراً إلى أنّه “يأمل أن تستنتج الدول أنّ ذلك في مصلحتها”.

ونقلت وسائل إعلام إسرائيلية، عن مصادر أميركية، قالت إنها “موثوقة”، أنّ ما يجري الحديث عنه مع زيارة الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، للشرق الأوسط، “لا يتعلق بناتو شرق أوسطي، أو بحلف إسرائيلي عربي”، بل إنّ ما يهم بايدن هو موضوع النفط، و”حاجته إلى السعودية في هذا الأمر”.

ووفقاً لما ورد، فإنّ الغاية من تجاهل قضية خاشقجي، هي تعزيز إنتاج النفط وتقوية النفوذ في المنطقة خوفاً من الدور الروسي الصيني فيها، للحؤول دون نسجهما علاقات بحلفاء أميركا في الشرق الأوسط، وخصوصاً دول الخليج، التي شعرت بالخوف من تراجع اهتمام أميركا بالشرق الأوسط، بعد انسحابها من العراق وأفغانستان.

تسعى الولايات المتحدة الأميركية لاستعادة سيطرتها على موارد الطاقة في الشرق الأوسط، بعد أن أجبرتها الحرب الأوكرانية الروسية على البحث عن مصادر تمويل للطاقة لحلفائها الأوروبيين، الأمر الذي أعاد إلى النفط الخليجي وغاز البحر المتوسط أهميتيهما، بالإضافة إلى العمل على زيادة إنتاج النفط الخليجي مع خفض أسعاره، من أجل خلق استقرار في سوق الطاقة، حتى لا يتأثر الاقتصاد الأميركي، الذي يعاني حالة غير مسبوقة من التضخم المالي.

تداعيات داخلية أميركية

تعيد الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ترميم علاقتها بحلفائها، وخصوصاً السعودية، تحت شعار “المصالح الأميركية فوق المبادئ الإنسانية”. وتبرز تداعيات داخلية أميركية لمشهد زيارة بايدن للسعودية على موضوع التضخم وأسعار الطاقة، بسبب الرغبة الأميركية في زيادة إيرادات الطاقة للسوق العالمية، في ظل العقوبات على الطاقة الروسية. وبحسب المعلومات المتخصصة، فإنّ الطاقة، التي تستطيع السعودية إنتاجها وضخها، لن تكون قادرة على تعديل ميزان القوة، أو تغيير ميزان السوق.

وأثارت زيارة الرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، للسعودية، حالة من الانقسام في الولايات المتحدة، محورها ملفات حقوق الإنسان في المملكة، وفق تحليل لمجلة “فورين أفيرز”. وبعد الزيارة، ظهرت في الداخل الأميركي “انتقادات وسخرية” لأداء بايدن خلال الزيارة. ووفقاً للمعطيات، فإن ترجمة هذه الزيارة، عبر تحسين الوضع الاقتصادي داخل أميركا، مسألة “مشكوك فيها”.

ويرى مؤيدو زيارة بايدن للسعودية أن مصلحة الولايات المتحدة وميزان القوى في الشرق الأوسط يتطلبان علاقات أميركية سعودية استراتيجية، بعيداً عن حقوق الإنسان. والأولوية للمصالح الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط، والتي تتطلب “علاقة استراتيجية بالسعوديين”، في حين يصر المعارضون، وبينهم ديمقراطيون وأيضاً جمهوريون، على ضرورة أن تحسن الرياض سجلها فيما يتعلق بحقوق الإنسان في البلاد.

وعلى الرغم من الاختلاف الداخلي، فإن بايدن حاول تسويق الزيارة على أنها زيارة المصالح، وليست تنازلاً عن تعهداته، أو تفريطاً بحقوق الإنسان، حين سأله أحد الصحافيين في جدة عن رسالته لخطيبة خاشقجي، قال: “لم أحضر إلى هنا كي أقابل ولي العهد. جئت لأقابل مجلس التعاون الخليجي”. وعلى الرغم من ذلك، فإن مسؤولين أميركيين قالوا إنه “ليس من المتوقع صدور أي إعلان رئيس بشأن زيادة إمدادات النفط خلال هذه الزيارة”.

بايدن، القادم من فلسطين المحتلة، كان كتب في افتتاحية “واشنطن بوست” أن الحريات الأساسية هي دائماً في أجندته، خلال سفراته الخارجية، كما ستكون خلال هذه الجولة وفي “إسرائيل” والضفة الغربية. وفي كلامه هذا تبرئة للإسرائيليين عن كل انتهاكات حقوق الفلسطينيين وجرائم القتل والأسر والتمييز العنصري وسرقة الأراضي والاستيطان.

وبحسب مصادر فلسطينية، فإن بايدن لم ينجز أي شيء من زيارته لبيت لحم، ولم يحقق أي أهداف له، وخصوصاً أن الرفض الشعبي الفلسطيني الداخلي لزيارته كان واضحاً من خلال التظاهرات التي نددت بمجيئه.

الصحافيون، خلال مؤتمر بايدن الصحافي في بيت لحم، ارتدوا قمصاناً عليها صورة الشهيدة شيرين أبو عاقلة، بحيث إن سلوك القضاء الأميركي تجاه الجريمة أضاف رصيداً آخر لمسار التجاهل للقضايا الحقوقية الكبرى.

هكذا باتت حقوق الإنسان ثمناً لملء النقص في النفط وتعزيز النفوذ ومحاولة تسجيل النقاط في الصراعات الدولية، من أجل المصلحة الكبرى للولايات المتحدة، ومن أجل حسابات خاصة ببايدن في الداخل الأميركي.

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US Senators introduce resolution to end US involvement in Yemen

July 16, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

One of the Senators details how millions of innocent Yemenis have endured untold suffering and a humanitarian catastrophe since the war on Yemen began.

Senators introduce resolutions to end US involvement in Yemen.

Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) filed a bipartisan resolution in the Senate on Thursday to direct the withdrawal of US Armed Forces from unauthorized involvement in the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

The resolution, which has the backing of more than 100 members of Congress from both parties in the House, is considered privileged in the Senate and can be voted on the floor ten calendar days after it is introduced.

“We must put an end to the unauthorized and unconstitutional involvement of US Armed Forces in the catastrophic Saudi-led war in Yemen and Congress must take back its authority over war,” said Sen. Sanders.

“More than 85,000 children in Yemen have already starved and millions more are facing imminent famine and death. More than 70 percent of Yemen’s population currently relies on humanitarian food assistance and the UN has warned the death toll could climb to 1.3 million people by 2030. This war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis today and it is past time to end U.S. complicity in those horrors. Let us pass this resolution, so we can focus on diplomacy to end this war.”

“The war in Yemen has been an unmitigated disaster for which all parties to the conflict share responsibility,” said Sen. Leahy.

“Why are we supporting a corrupt theocracy that brutalizes its own people, in a war that is best known for causing immense suffering and death among impoverished, defenseless civilians? Congress never agreed to this war. Absent a congressional declaration of war that is required by the Constitution and the War Powers Act, Congress should end US support for the Saudi military’s indiscriminate bombing, naval blockade, and other involvement in Yemen.”

Sen. Warren detailed how “millions of innocent Yemenis have endured untold suffering and a humanitarian catastrophe” since the Saudi-led war on Yemen began.

Read next: US Arms in Saudi’s Pool of Blood: The Yemeni Massacre

“The American people, through their elected representatives in Congress, never authorized US involvement in the war – but Congress abdicated its constitutional powers and failed to prevent our country from involving itself in this crisis. The US must immediately end its support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen unless explicitly authorized by Congress.”

While there is presently a weak cease-fire in place that has halted Saudi-led coalition attacks on civilians, a cruel aerial and naval blockade that limits mobility and prevents food, fuel, and medical supplies from entering Yemen remains in force.

More than 377,000 people have been killed since the war began in 2015, with nonmilitant causes such as hunger, sickness, and a lack of clean water accounting for 60% of the deaths. During that period, the Saudi-led coalition has carried out over 23,000 bombings in Yemen, killing about 19,000 civilians, while the US has provided nearly $55 billion in military assistance to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

President Biden committed at the start of his term to withdraw assistance for Saudi-led operations in Yemen. Unfortunately, the United States continues to provide maintenance, logistics support, and spare parts to the Saudi Air Force. The Yemen War Powers Resolution would carry out Biden’s promise by terminating US backing for Saudi-led attacks on Yemen, including:

1. Ending US intelligence sharing in order to enable offensive Saudi-led coalition strikes.

2. US logistical support for offensive Saudi-led coalition strikes, including maintenance and spare components for coalition members flying jets hitting Yemen, is being phased down.

3. Without special statutory permission, US military personnel may not be assigned to command, coordinate, move, or accompany Saudi-led coalition forces engaging in hostilities.

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Biden in Jeddah: mending fences, not building bridges

President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will likely end in face saving gestures, but no major geopolitical concessions

July 12 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Kristian Alexander and Giorgio Cafiero

Before 2019, never had a US president referred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ on his campaign trail. Joe Biden’s Saudi-bashing as a presidential candidate, plus a host of other delicate issues, have fueled significant friction between the White House and Riyadh.

Today, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are probably at their worst since the events of September 11, 2001, stymied by a major trust deficit in the relationship between Biden’s White House and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

By the same token, the Biden administration views Saudi Arabia as a critical partner in the Persian Gulf and continues to sign massive arms deals with the kingdom.

For all the rhetoric on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose brutal murder MbS is said to have sanctioned, team Biden never imposed state-level sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor on the crown prince himself.

Meanwhile, the administration praises the role of Riyadh in the Arab world’s trend toward normalization with Israel.

Within this context, Biden’s first presidential trip to West Asia – in which he will go to Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia this week – will be important to White House efforts to mend fences with Riyadh and salvage this decades-old partnership.

In a US mid-term election year that will likely lead to significant gains for his Republican opposition, Biden seeks to score major foreign policy points in Jeddah that can be used for domestic consumption back in Washington this summer.

Incentivizing Biden to convince the Saudis to increase their oil production are the millions of US motorists struggling with high gas prices and the many average American voters grappling with generational high inflation.

Energy prices are therefore extremely important to Biden’s controversial trip to the kingdom. Yet, this month’s summit in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to give Americans much relief at the gas pump between now and the elections in November.

Shifting the narrative from oil to peace

Determined to ensure that the US public does not tie this tour’s success specifically to a Saudi oil production hike – which could easily result in the Biden administration’s humiliation – the White House message is that this visit to Jeddah largely concerns peace in the region.

As Biden wrote in the Washington Post, avoiding a future in which the region is “coming apart through conflict” is of “paramount importance” to the White House, and he will “pursue diplomacy intensely – including through face-to-face meetings – to achieve our goals.”

According to Biden, if the region comes together through “diplomacy and cooperation” there is a lower chance of “violent extremism” threatening US national security or “new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families.”

This trip comes at a time in which there is a fragile truce in Yemen, where the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a devastating seven-year war. Although the conflict remains unresolved, the drastic reduction in violence and increased humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country have given millions of Yemenis desperately needed relief.

The truce in Yemen has been possible in part because of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member support, which makes it easier for Biden to justify his visit to Jeddah. After all, it was the Khashoggi affair and the conflict in Yemen that ‘Biden-the-candidate’ cited as reasons for his ‘pariah’ treatment of Riyadh.

Thus, moving toward a settlement to this conflict, in which the last two US presidents were heavily involved in escalating, helps Biden save face as he makes this trip. If the president leaves the kingdom with some guarantees from the Saudis about their commitment to future truce extensions, that could be interpreted as a win for Biden.

“The US administration is beginning to realize that President Biden can’t just ignore Saudi Arabia and that it’s in the best interest of the two countries to start working together, not just to reduce oil prices and pressure on US consumers, but also to further the stability of the Middle East and contain [the Iranian] threat whether in Lebanon or Yemen,” Najah Al-Otaibi, an associate fellow at the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said in an interview with The Cradle.

Expanding on her point, Al-Otaibi said that “Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to extend the United Nations-mediated ceasefire with Yemen, and Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] played a critical role in this move, according to Biden’s officials who thought it is a step forward to solving the conflict.”

Last month, Biden clarified that, for him, bolstering Israel’s security was a major motivation for the trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite some speculation among pundits that Saudi Arabia will soon join the Abraham Accords, this is highly doubtful, especially with King Salman still on the throne. However, with MbS “the reformer” as future king, normalization between “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and Israel is all the more likely.

Insecurity and an ‘Arab NATO’

Even if Riyadh remains outside the Abraham Accords, there is much that Saudi Arabia can do to make it easier for other Arab-Muslim countries to normalize with Tel Aviv, and for the kingdom’s allies, already signatories to the Abraham Accords, to build on their overt relations with the Israelis.

While in Jeddah, Biden will likely push the Saudis to take some more baby steps toward a de facto normalization with Israel, even if it remains unofficial. One way for the kingdom to do so would be by granting permission for Israeli planes to transit Saudi airspace on their way to the UAE, Bahrain, and other countries.

Other avenues could include bolstering involvement by Israeli technology firms in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Saudi–Israeli military cooperation, and more visits by high-ranking Israeli officials to the kingdom that could build on former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s November 2020 visit to Neom.

Shoring up US–Arab partnerships in preparation for the increasingly likely scenario that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks with Iran will collapse in acrimony is a high priority for Biden.

Against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear advancements as negotiations further stall, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states attending the GCC+3 summit are preparing for a post-JCPOA future in which friction between the US and Israel, on one side, and the Islamic Republic, on the other, appears set to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

“I think Iran, not oil, is the main issue as Iran moves closer and closer to having all the parts it needs to put together a nuclear bomb,” David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center, told The Cradle. “Only a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal can stop that trend, and nobody is optimistic about that happening now.”

Although Riyadh and Tehran have been in direct talks via Baghdad since April 2021, the Saudi leadership wants assurances from team Biden that Washington remains committed to the kingdom’s security regardless of the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord, and that the US will work with its Arab allies to counter Iran in regional hotspots, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Yet, mindful of the little trust Saudi officials have in the Biden administration, it is difficult to imagine the US president gaining enough confidence from Riyadh during this upcoming trip vis-à-vis Iran-related issues. As Ottaway told The Cradle:

“I suspect [Biden] will declare another US commitment to defending the kingdom from its foreign enemies, but after Trump’s failure to take any action after Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, he needs to say or do something to back up [what are] just words.”

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about an Arab NATO that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other US-friendly Arab states. Biden will seek to advance this initiative as the west and its allies and partners in West Asia remain worried about Iran’s regional foreign policy agenda.

“[Biden] wishes to reaffirm the historical strength and enduring reciprocity of the alliance, but also to press Riyadh on cooperating more on the energy side – particularly as the US moves as well to create a region-wide defense platform, the so-called Middle East NATO,” Sean Yom, an associate professor at Temple University, pointed out in an interview with The Cradle.

“There is, however, one sticking point that will probably cause a difference: the Saudis continue to desire a strong US presence in the Gulf, one that can police Iran and intervene in a potential militarized conflict, whereas Biden clearly is continuing his predecessors’ anti-interventionist stance,” added Yom.

Nonetheless, many experts have doubts about an Arab NATO ever manifesting into a real alliance, and expect the initiative to remain merely conceptual. This assessment accounts for the opposition of some Arab states to an open military coordination with Israel, as some GCC states, like the Sultanate of Oman, do not want to join an alliance aimed at weakening or intimidating Tehran.

There are also logistical hurdles which would make it difficult for these state militaries to integrate in a NATO-like manner.

“Biden’s plan for a US-backed ‘Arab NATO’ of GCC states plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan seems as unlikely to succeed as Trump’s Middle East Strategic Alliance, which never got off the ground,” Ottaway says.

Virtue-signalling human rights

Although Biden’s administration has determined that the moral costs of this presidential trip do not outweigh the perceived benefits, the Khashoggi affair remains a delicate issue – though significantly less so now than in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder in October 2018.

MbS wants the US government to drop the Khashoggi issue, but elements within Biden’s party maintain that any interaction between him and the crown prince would be “profoundly disturbing.” To placate more progressive politicians, high-profile media pundits, and human rights activists who criticize Biden for “legitimizing” MbS on this trip, the president will seek some human rights concessions, like those which his administration secured at the start of his presidency.

If Biden is successful on this front, he could return to the US claiming that his visit to the kingdom helped advance, rather than hinder, the cause of human rights. Such an achievement would help Biden save face and tell his base that he did not abandon certain principles or so-called ‘American values’ by meeting MbS in the Saudi kingdom.

“His campaign trail rhetoric, like all political campaign rhetoric, was never going to bear much resemblance to executive policy and official diplomacy,” cautioned Yom. “But I do think Biden will exit the meetings by claiming that he squarely put human rights concerns, and potentially even democratic awareness, onto the agenda for Riyadh.”

Yet, whether the Saudi leadership feels it is under sufficient pressure to release any political prisoners, or provide liberties to some recently released Saudis who are banned from traveling, remains to be seen.

From the perspective of the Saudi government, the US and other western governments are inappropriately virtue signaling when raising human rights concerns in the kingdom. The view from Riyadh is that these issues are internal issues that do not concern Washington or European capitals.

Saudi and other Arab officials will often point to US sins in Iraq or police brutality against African-Americans to highlight elements of hypocrisy on the part of US politicians lecturing the Saudi government on the human rights front.

MbS reportedly “shouting” at US national security adviser Jake Sullivan after the high-ranking official brought up the Khashoggi case underscores the effect of these discussions on the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

The grander geopolitical picture 

Biden will visit Saudi Arabia amid a period of increasing east–west bifurcation and intensifying great power competition. Although neither China nor Russia is on the verge of replacing the US as security guarantor of Saudi Arabia or any GCC states, US influence in the Gulf has declined with Beijing and Moscow gaining greater clout at Washington’s expense.

Biden’s trip to Jeddah aims to reassert US influence in the Persian Gulf and attempt to prevent Riyadh and other Arab capitals from moving closer to the Chinese and Russians. An objective of Biden’s is to bring GCC states back into the geopolitical orbit of the west, while slowing down the growth of their partnerships with Beijing and Moscow.

“There were undeniable hiccups in the relationship last year, relating to halting support to the Yemen war, aggressive rhetoric against MbS, and more scrutiny on arms sales,” Yom explained.

“Fundamentally, none of these factors perturbed the great structural core of the US–Saudi alliance, built upon mutual perceptions of energy security, sovereign protections, and regional hegemony. But those hiccups were enough to make the decision-making circles in Riyadh a bit uncomfortable, enough at least to entertain Russian and Chinese overtures for military and energy cooperation.”

The White House and the entire US foreign policy establishment have grave concerns about Sino–Saudi ballistic missile cooperation and the extent to which the Chinese and Emiratis are making their defense and security relations more robust.

It is safe to say that while in Jeddah, team Biden will make it clear that the US will withhold future military assistance if GCC states move militarily closer to China. The extent to which such pressure has any impact on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s relationships with Beijing remains an open question.

Nonetheless, team Biden must understand that this visit will occur against the backdrop of serious tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has grown frustrated with many aspects of Washington’s agenda in the Biden era.

The Saudi government’s view is that Biden is an ’Obama 2.0’ – a perspective that is not unreasonable when mindful of how many Obama administration veterans, including Biden himself, are serving in the White House.

By moving closer to China and Russia, the Saudis are sending a message, loud and clear, to Washington that Riyadh has other options on the international stage as the world moves towards multipolarity with more Arab statesmen perceiving the US as a power that is withdrawing from West Asia.

Riyadh can exaggerate the extent to which the kingdom has grown closer to Beijing and Moscow to gain leverage over the US and secure more concessions from Washington. That is likely to continue, and Biden would be making a mistake in placating the Saudis in every instance to merely try to stop Riyadh from tilting closer to China and Russia.

Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia is showing itself to be increasingly confident and Biden’s visit to the kingdom will add to Riyadh’s sense of being emboldened, giving the Saudi leadership more reason to pursue its own interests in ways that sometimes align more closely with Beijing and Moscow’s foreign policy objectives than those of western powers.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, the Biden administration and Al-Saud rulers both value Washington and Riyadh’s decades-old partnership, and neither side wants to abandon it. Much anger and a significant trust deficit, however, have built up between these two countries.

Biden will not be leaving Saudi Arabia later this month with all these issues resolved. But the dialogue in Jeddah has the potential to begin a process of mending fences.

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

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