Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

“No Escape”: Don’t Expect A Yemeni Version Of The White Helmets, by Tyler Durden

Nobody caterwauls for innocent victims and dead children when they’re victims of a US ally’s war. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Have you noticed the almost complete lack of video footage showing the ongoing Arab and US coalition aerial bombardment of Yemen’s key port city of Al Hudaydah?

Reuters reports the following:

“People are scared. The warships are terrifying and warplanes are flying overhead all the time,” university student Amina, 22, who lives near the port, told Reuters by telephone.

“People are fleeing the city to the countryside, but for those with no relatives there or money, there is no escape.”

Don’t expect a Yemeni version of the “White Helmets” to emerge with high-tech cameras, slick new gear, and professional uniforms capturing Yemen’s starvation and slow death under US, Saudi, and UAE warplanes.

Smoke rises from Al Hudaydah city of Yemen after Saudi-led coalition air attack. Image source: Anadolu, Getty

Don’t expect prime time news broadcasts to feature images of emaciated Yemeni babies — easily located on social media channels in the thousands.

And yet he numbers are staggering, as Reuters reports further:

The United Nations says 22 million Yemenis need humanitarian aid, and the number at risk of starvation could more than double to more than 18 million by year end unless access improves.

No, there won’t be rebel leaders in Yemen beamed into CNN studios via Skype to detail the suffering of civilians under the brutal siege, because this isn’t Syria… it’s Yemen, where the US and its allies have not only imposed a full military blockade of land, air, and sea on an urban population of half a million people, but have also ensured a complete media blackout of on the ground footage and reporting.

As we noted in our initial coverage the complete media and humanitarian blockade on the contested port city of Al Hudaydah means confirmation of the rapidly unfolding events have been hard to come by, though we featured what’s purported to be some of the earliest social media footage of the assault, now in its second day.

To continue reading: “No Escape”: Don’t Expect A Yemeni Version Of The White Helmets

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250,000 Lives at Risk as US-Backed Saudi Coalition Begins Siege of Yemeni Port, by Middle East Monitor

Nothing good will come from this siege, and many innocent Yemenis will die. From the Middle East Monitor via theantimedia.org:

The Saudi-led coalition has launched an attack on Yemen’s port city Hudaydah, Al Jazeera reported today.

Air strikes began pounding Hudaydah, supporting a ground assault by the Yemeni government led by internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Houthi positions on the outskirts including Seham and Qazabah have been targeted already.

The Yemen National Army’s open source network on Telegram began referring to the attack as operation “golden victory.”

Early this morning, the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV channel reported targeting Saudi-led coalition warships in the Red Sea. Two missiles were used to attack the warships, causing damage to them. No other information on casualties was given.

The move comes as part of efforts to regain control of Hudaydah, Yemen’s most strategic port which serves as much as 80 per cent of aid for Yemenis in addition to its positioning in the Bab Al Mandeb strait, a vital maritime shipping route. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a member of the coalition, set yesterday as a deadline for the Houthis to withdraw from Hudaydah under UN-led negotiations or attack. Negotiations broke down and UN staff evacuated in fear of a lethal attack.

It is estimated that 250,000 lives will be impacted by the attack on Hudaydah, according to the United Nations. Without access to the civilians caught up in the crossfire there will be catastrophic humanitarian and infrastructure impacts, human rights groups have warned.

Weapons smuggling into Yemen

The Saudi-led coalition continues to accuse the Houthis of using the Hudaydah port to smuggle Iranian weapons, despite the coalition continually monitoring the Bab Al Mandeb strait which leads to the port. There has been no empirical evidence to suggest that the Houthis are receiving arms via the Hudaydah port. UN experts part of the Yemen panel, continue to question the accusation.

To continue reading: 250,000 Lives at Risk as US-Backed Saudi Coalition Begins Siege of Yemeni Port

Next Stage of Pressure on Iran – Lower Oil Prices, by Tom Luongo

President Trump is hoping to squeeze Iran into either returning to the negotiating table or regime change with lower oil prices. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

President Trump is stepping up his attack on Iran.  He’s now planning the long-game for maximum pressure.  The news that Trump quietly asked Saudi Arabia to ramp up output by 1 million barrels a day is the key.

From the analysis at Oilprice.com:

Saudi Arabia and some of its close Arab allies in the Gulf, as well as the leader of the non-OPEC nations taking part in the production cut deal—Russia—are the only producers that have the spare capacity to increase production. So, in case of increased production from OPEC and allies, the potentially lower oil prices would hurt the other OPEC members that don’t have the spare capacity to boost output.

The point here is to begin dropping oil prices now that the U.S. has blown out Turkey’s finances and helped Saudi Arabia improve its fiscal position for the rest of the year with high oil prices.

Turkey is a net energy importer and $75+ per barrel oil is a huge drain on its finances at a time when its currency and bond markets are under serious pressure from a strengthening U.S. dollar.  Don’t think for a second the Turkish lira wasn’t helped in its fall.  This is a classic hybrid war attack on a country not playing by U.S. rules.

But, now that Trump’s U.S. economy is threatened by high energy costs, he’s looking to improve that situation while also putting a strain on Iran’s finances through the double whammy of losing not only up to 1 million barrels of production per day but also getting $20-25 less per barrel.

And right on target, oil shorts are piling on because that’s what happens when the markets are told which way policy is heading.  The Saudis, never ones to miss out on an opportunity to abuse its customers, just set its monthly tender price at the highest markup over benchmark across all its grades in four years.

To continue reading: Next Stage of Pressure on Iran – Lower Oil Prices

The Message from Saudi’s ‘Reformist’ Crown Prince to Saudi Women: Shut Up and Drive, by Medea Benjamin

Women are and will be second-class citizens in Saudi Arabia for a long time. From Medea Benjamin at antiwar.com:

The June issue of Vogue Arabia is dedicated to the “trailblazing women of Saudi Arabia” and the much-awaited June 24 date that will give Saudi women the right to drive. The cover shot is a glamorous photo of Princess Hayfa bint Abdullah Al Saud in the Jeddah desert, perched in the driver’s seat of a vintage red 1980s Mercedes-Benz convertible.

“It is easy to comment on other people’s societies and think that your own society is superior, but the Western world must remember that each country is specific and unique,” the princess told Vogue. “We have strengths and weaknesses but, invariably, it’s our culture, and it’s better to try to understand it than to judge it.”

But unlike the wealthy, pampered princess, for decades Saudi women themselves have been judging, and desperately trying to change, their society. They have been fighting to lift the travel ban since 1990, when 47 women piled into cars and drove around the capital. They were arrested and thrown in jail. Their passports were confiscated, those with government jobs were fired, and they were denounced in mosques across the country. Similar protests took place in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Many Saudis believe the faces of these activists should be gracing the cover of Vogue Arabia and social media is ablaze with “corrected versions” of the magazine. But instead of celebrating the true Saudi heroes, since May 15 at least 11 activists, both women and male allies, have been arrested. One of the activists is in her 60s and another is 70 years old. Four have since been released.

They are accused of “suspicious contact with foreign parties” and undermining the “security and stability” of Saudi Arabia. In a vicious smear campaign, the state-run media released their photos with the word “traitor” stamped in red across their faces. These peaceful activists may now face up to 20 years in prison for their work against the decades-old driving ban.

To continue reading: The Message from Saudi’s ‘Reformist’ Crown Prince to Saudi Women: Shut Up and Drive

 

Blowing Up the Iran Deal Brings Eurasia Closer to Integration, by Federico Pieraccini

Trump withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal will not win him any new friends in Eurasia. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

The annulment of the Iran nuclear deal framework could not be fended off by the visits or entreaties of Merkel, Macron or May. Donald Trump has refused to renew the agreement formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), removing the United States from the deal. In reality, it changes little for Washington, as the US never really removed any sanctions against Iran in 2015, and mutual trust has never risen above minimal levels. The American move, which was never surprising, arises from four fundamental factors, namely: the link (especially vis-à-vis electoral financing) between the Trump administration and the Israeli government of Netanyahu; the agreement between Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) and Donald Trump to acquire hundreds of billions of dollars worth of arms as well as investments in the United States; directly targeting European allies like Germany, France and England; and, finally, the wish to please the anti-Iranian hawks Trump surrounded himself with in his administration.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman are united against Iran and are now publicly cementing their alliance that has hitherto been shrouded in secrecy. The political rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel has been constant over the last 12 months, converging over anti-Iranian interests. Trump’s anti-Iran tilt enjoys support from the Netanyahu and bin Salman clans, representing a 180-degree change in US policy direction away from the one forged through the nuclear agreements reached by the previous administration.

Saudi money and Israel’s political support (and neoconservative pressure within the United States) are factors important to the Trump administration, particularly as it is besieged by domestic politics and has to deal with the Mueller investigation that buzzes annoyingly around the president of the United States.

Trump’s need to surround himself with the likes of Pompeo, Haspel and Bolton betrays an acquiescing desire to appease the deep state rather than fight it. Whatever fight might have been present in Donald Trump upon assuming his office has given way to a fruitful collaboration with the deep state. Donald Trump seems to have concluded that it is better to negotiate and find agreements with the deep state than to try, as he promised during his election campaign, to drain the swamp.

To continue reading: Blowing Up the Iran Deal Brings Eurasia Closer to Integration

Arms and Influence, How the Saudis Took Donald Trump for a Ride, by Ben Freeman and William Hartung

Why the Saudis usually get what the Saudis usually want…and have for over 70 years. From Ben Freeman and William Hartung at tomdispatch.com:

It’s another Trump affair — this time without the allegations of sexual harassment (and worse), the charges and counter-charges, the lawsuits, and all the rest. So it hasn’t gotten the sort of headlines that Stormy Daniels has garnered, but when it comes to influence, American foreign policy, and issues of peace and war, it couldn’t matter more or be a bigger story (or have more money or lobbyists involved in it). Think of it as the great love affair of the age of Trump, the one between The Donald and the Saudi royals. And if there’s any place to start laying out the story, it’s naturally at a wedding, in this case in a tragic ceremony that happened to take place in Yemen, not Washington.

On Sunday, April 22nd, planes from a Saudi Arabian-led coalition dropped two bombs on a wedding in Yemen. The groom was injured, the bride killed, along with at least 32 other civilians, many of them children.

In response, the Saudis didn’t admit fault or express condolences to the victim’s families. Instead, they emphasized that their “coalition continues to take all the precautionary and preventative measures” to avoid civilian casualties in Yemen. This disconnect between Saudi rhetoric and the realities on the ground isn’t an anomaly — it’s been the norm. For four years, the Saudis and their allies have been conducting airstrikes with reckless abandon there, contributing to a staggering civilian death toll that now reportedly tops 10,000.

The Saudis and their close ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have repeatedly reassured American policymakers that they’re doing everything imaginable to prevent civilian casualties, only to launch yet more airstrikes against civilian targets, including schools, hospitals, funerals, and marketplaces.

For example, last May when Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia on his first overseas visit as president, Saudi lobbyists distributed a “fact sheet” about the prodigious efforts of the country’s military to reduce civilian casualties in Yemen. Five days after Trump landed in Riyadh, however, an air strike killed 24 civilians at a Yemeni market. In December, such strikes killed more than 100 Yemeni civilians in 10 days. The Saudi response: condemningthe United Nations for its criticisms of such attacks and then offering yet more empty promises.

To continue reading: Arms and Influence, How the Saudis Took Donald Trump for a Ride

Will Trump Pay the Price for What He Wants from Iran? by Tom Luongo

Trump wants to renegotiate the Iran Nuclear Agreement, but the US’s negotiating position is far weaker than it was when Obama negotiated the original. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

“We will pay the price, but we will not count the cost.” – Rush, “Bravado”

Donald Trump is set to kill the JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal and spark a major reset of foreign relations.  Is this a mistake or the right course of action?

That depends on your perspective.  It depends on whether you believe, as the Israelis do, that Iran is ready to build a nuclear weapon to point at them.

But the bigger question to me is whether Trump is willing to put on the table what he needs to get what he wants, a secure Israel and an Iran without nukes.  Tearing up the deal may be the first step towards that end, but not in the way he’s thinking.

Where’s the Beef?

Now, thousands of column inches have been spilled detailing how inordinately stupid it would be for either Israel or Iran to lob nukes at one another.  No matter who starts it, the ending will be tragic for much of the world.

So, no sane person would do this right?  The narrative has been spun up that Israel is rational and Iran is not. Pure and simple. That’s the narrative. That justifies taking away Iran’s ultimate right to defend itself against aggression from foreign powers.

Both sides of this conflict can rightly point fingers at the other as to their adventures beyond their own borders.  And here I break with my libertarian brethren.  It does little good today to say who is more justified.  To argue about who started it.  Because we are well beyond that point.

So, what does Donald Trump want?  What’s his main beef with the JCPOA?

The sunset clause.

He wants a guarantee in writing from Iran to forever stop development of a nuclear weapon.  Israel has been pushing for this policy point since the end of the Iran/Iraq war, which is where all of this likely started.

Iran, in response to Saddam Hussein’s own tactical nuclear weapons development, began work on theirs.  After this the whole thing gets murky.  But, let’s assume that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right about one thing; that Iran is year or two away from a nuclear weapon.

So, to Trump the sunset clause is moronic.

And, rightly so.  But, that’s not the whole story.

To continue reading: Will Trump Pay the Price for What He Wants from Iran?