Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

After Two Months, President Joe Biden has Become Donald Trump Lite on Foreign Policy, by Doug Bandow

There’s little to like in Biden’s foreign policy. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Joe Biden has been president for two months. Only 46 months to go, unless he is reelected. In fact, he teased the media at his press conference, suggesting that he likely would run for reelection, though he insisted that prospect was too far in the future for him to consider today.

The biggest change from his predecessor is the calm which has descended upon Washington, D.C. Days go by without thinking about Biden. After four years of Donald Trump, the atmosphere seems so … normal.

However, U.S. foreign policy hasn’t changed much.

A fixture in the nation’s capital for almost a half century, Biden views himself as a foreign policy maven. And he certainly knows the players. As variously Senator, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, presidential candidate, and vice president, he was involved in many of the most of the important foreign policy decisions made since he arrived in Washington in January 1973.

The result has not been pretty. Of course, he isn’t responsible for all that has happened. But he has committed more than his share of whoppers. Indeed, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote that Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” That may be slightly exaggerated, but not much.

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Crashing Saudi Oil Economy Explains Urgent Yemeni Peace Offer, by Finian Cunningham

The House of Saud is discovering a lesson scores of governments have run up against in the past: war, even against smaller and weaker opponents, can be a costly affair. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

The Saudi rulers are facing a humiliating defeat as the Yemenis take revenge and Uncle Sam washes his hands of blood.

After six years of blowing up Yemen and blockading its southern neighbor, the Saudi rulers are now saying they are committed to finding peace. The move is less about genuine peace than economic survival for the oil kingdom.

The Saudi monarchy say they want “all guns to fall completely silent”. Washington, which has been a crucial enabler of the Saudi war on Yemen, has backed the latest “peace offer”. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week endorsed the initiative from the Saudi rulers, saying he had spoken with them “on our work together to end the conflict in Yemen, facilitate humanitarian access and aid for the Yemeni people”.

The Saudi foreign ministry stated: “The initiative aims to end the human suffering of the brotherly Yemeni people, and affirms the kingdom’s support for efforts to reach a comprehensive political resolution.”

Can you believe this sickening duplicity from the Saudis and the Americans?

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Joe Biden Is Following a Blueprint for Forever War, by Danny Sjursen

Going bigger in Syria and backing up the power-mad idiot in Saudi Arabia just gets the US more stuck on the Middle Eastern tar baby. From Danny Sjursen at inthesetimes.com:

Bombing Syria and excusing the crimes of the Saudi crown prince won’t bring us any closer to a withdrawal from the Middle East.

Last week, the U.S. military bombed a site near al-Hurri, along the Iraqi border inside Syria, where Iranian-backed Iraqi militias were allegedly stationed. Although the U.S. launched its missiles across an international border (and without the approval of Congress), White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki framed the strike as a ​defensive” response to a series of rocket attacks that have killed one and wounded several Americans over the past two weeks. The American bombing left up to a handful dead,” according to one U.S. official who spoke with CNN, and Tehran condemned the assault as ​illegal and a violation of Syria’s sovereignty” — a perception gap certain to complicate President Joe Biden’s pronounced plans to reverse Donald Trump’s antagonistic Iran policies and rejoin the nuclear deal.

The campaign will do little to further the United States’ objectives in the Middle East (in as much as they can even be articulated at this point), but it heralds something more dispiriting still: That nearly two decades into a regional war, Washington (perhaps willfully) does not understand the Syria-Iraq-Iran nexus, and that the Biden administration is following a failed blueprint in the Middle East — a reality that was thrown into even sharper relief when the U.S. elected not to punish Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) after the release of a declassified intelligence report that found he was directly responsible for the murder of the Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi.

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Saudi Arabia Sets Global Standard for Tyranny, but Asks: Why Is Washington Picking on the Kingdom? by Doug Bandow

Chutzpah is a Yiddish term but it certainly applies to the people running Saudi Arabia. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Why is everyone being so mean to Saudi Arabia? No doubt, the poor, beleaguered, misunderstood royals ask that question as they busy themselves squandering people’s wealth, imprisoning critics, attacking impoverished neighbors, and spreading Islamic fundamentalism. Life can be so unfair.

Indeed, it is a travesty that even the Saudis’ supposed friends are critical. Only someone with a heart of stone could not have compassion for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman given the travails that he has personally suffered while solidifying his dictatorship, purchasing yachts and palaces, and slicing and dicing his detractors. So much harm to do, so little time. He is tragically unappreciated by the Biden administration.

The horror!

However, the beleaguered crown prince does have defenders. Eric Mandel of the Middle East Political Information Network asked: “Why does President Biden consider Saudi Arabia a ‘pariah’ nation but does not have the same level of animosity for the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose human rights history is at least as troubling as Saudi Arabia’s?”

Indeed, Mandel insisted that “Saudi Arabia has begun a process to reform its human rights behavior” and MbS “intends to implement his Vision 2030 initiative to move Saudi Arabia into the modern era.” How glorious. With North Korea’s Kim Il-sung dead, maybe MbS could claim the latter’s title of “Great Leader.”

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Biden Takes Two Small Steps Toward Ending Yemen War. Keep Up The Pressure! by Caitlin Johnstone

Joe Biden does something right. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The Biden administration has taken two small steps toward ending the horrific US-backed mass atrocities in Yemen, with temporary holds placed on both a murderous sanctions measure and on arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the UAE pending review. Both items being reviewed are unconscionable decisions made by the previous administration.

“The Biden administration has imposed a temporary freeze on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as it reviews billions of dollars in weapons transactions approved by former President Donald Trump,” The Wall Street Journal reported today, adding that “U.S. officials said it isn’t unusual for a new administration to review arms sales approved by a predecessor, and that despite the pause, many of the transactions are likely to ultimately go forward.”

This follows an earlier announcement of a one-month pause on the Trump administration’s designation of Yemen’s Houthis (Ansar Allah) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, an unforgivably brutal measure which would cut off badly needed aid to an already starving populace and potentially kill millions. Like the arms sale hiatus, this measure could easily still move forward, and its temporary nature has provided insufficient assurance to companies that are backing away from trade with Yemen for fear of future US sanctions.

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FYI Trump’s Latest Yemen Move Is Far Worse Than The Capitol Riot, by Caitlin Johnstone

The Washington protest doesn’t hold a candle to killing a bunch of kids and other innocent Yemeni civilians. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

While the Capitol riot is being hysterically compared to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht by the political/media class, the Trump administration has done something far, far worse that is receiving far, far less attention.

The US State Department has officially announced its intention to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, as many had previously warned. Humanitarian organizations have been condemning the move as it will make it more difficult to provide aid to a population that is already being brutalized by the worst mass atrocity in the entire world, a Saudi-led atrocity which could not occur without the help of the western power alliance.

We are already seeing some effects of this designation.

ntiwar‘s Dave DeCamp reports the following:

The terror designation will hamper the efforts of international charities that deliver food to Houthi-controlled areas, where 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives and malnutrition is the most widespread.

Aid agencies fear their work in north Yemen will now be criminalized since the Houthis are the authority they have to deal with and make transactions with. US terror designations open up sanctions on any individuals or entities that do business with those Washington brands as terrorists.

Pompeo said exemptions would be made for humanitarian goods. But any additional roadblocks for aid agencies will cause more suffering in Yemen since the situation is so dire. “Even with exemptions, the operation will be compromised,” said Janti Soeripto, the president of Save the Children, according to AP News.

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Market Friday: Russia Wins Oil War With Saudi Arabia, by Thomas Luongo

It looks like Russia, not the US or Saudi Arabia, will call the tune in the oil markets. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

bin-salman-saudi-arabia

If you missed the big story of this week I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a big story, bigger than riots in D.C.

Russia became the de facto controller of the marginal barrel of oil.

This is a bigger story than what happened on Capitol Hill on Wednesday because that was a continuation of a story whose end was already written.

Joe Biden will be President. The Era of Trump is over.

Now that has far-reaching effects on a number of markets, including oil. But, again, we’ve known Biden was taking office, if we’re being honest with ourselves, since election night when the civil war in the U.S. officially began.

So, we’ve known that Trump’s push to become the controller of oil markets was coming to an end. We’ve also known since the Coronapocalypse that U.S. oil production had peaked and could only go down from there.

Yes Russia’s production dropped by a similar amount, around 2 million barrels per day, averaging 10.27 millions of barrels per day in 2020. But the difference here is not in how much is produced but in what it costs to produce those barrels.

And not just any barrel, but the marginal barrel… the last barrel.

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‘Thinking Machiavelli, Acting Mussolini’, by Alastair Crooke

Iran may not have nuclear weapons, but it never the less has upended war and geopolitical strategy in important ways that the US ignores at its peril. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

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

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

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

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

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

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Saudi Arabia: The Ally From Hell, by Doug Bandow

Oil can’t buy morality or respectability. The present ruler is execrable. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.come:

MbS has made the U.S. complicit in war crimes and committed murder. The new administration should stand up to him.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives at Kansai airport in Izumisano city, Osaka prefecture, on June 27, 2019 ahead of the G20 Osaka Summit. (CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

Members of the G-20, representing states with the world’s largest economies, gathered virtually over the weekend for a meeting hosted by Saudi Arabia. Time is running out for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to capitalize on his friendship with President Donald Trump. The incoming administration is unlikely to cater to his deadly whims.

Trump made his first presidential trip abroad to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The president came away from that meeting in thrall to the young MbS, who turned a repressive collective dictatorship into a murderous personal tyranny.

If the Trump administration had merely maintained civil relations with yet another authoritarian regime, there would have been little controversy. However, the president and secretary of state turned complicity with brutality into an art form. Rarely has a president so ostentatiously welcomed such a dictator to the White House, assiduously protected such a dictator from accountability, and effectively armed such a dictator to commit further villainy.

The KSA was always a dubious partner for America. An absolute monarchy in which fear of Islamist radicalism caused the princely libertines in private to enforce Islamic purity in public, Riyadh won the affection of U.S. officials with its vast oil reserves. Western governments averted their gaze from royal repression and welcomed spendthrift princes and princesses seeking a luxurious and sybaritic retreat.

However, after King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud took over in January 2015, he broke with tradition and put one of his sons, the current crown prince, in charge. Then MbS staged a uniquely Saudi machtübernahme, akin to the Nazi seizure of power. Since then, even senior royals have routinely disappeared from view—kidnappings, detentions, torture, shakedowns, and killings have stamped the regime’s authority on the country.

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We Are The Terrorists, by Caitlin Johnstone

If what Saudi Arabia, with American assistance, is doing to Yemen isn’t terrorism, what is? From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The Trump administration is reportedly close to moving the Houthi rebels in Yemen onto its official list of designated terrorist organizations with the goal of choking them off from money and resources. The head of the UN’s World Food Program along with many other experts caution that this designation will prolong the horrific war which has claimed over a quarter million lives and create an impenetrable barrier of red tape stopping humanitarian aid from getting to the Yemeni people.

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism.

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