Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

How regional rivalries threaten to fuel the fire in Syria and Iran, by James M. Dorsey

Proxy wars are not over in either Syria or Iraq. This article illustrates why the only way the US is ever going to “win” in the Middle East is to get out. The Middle East is centuries-old rivalries that have seen many outsiders have their heads handed to them. The US is not exempt. From James M. Dorsey at almasdarnews.com:

Turkish allegations of Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian support for the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) threaten to turn Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds aligned with the PKK into a regional imbroglio.

The threat is magnified by Iranian assertions that low-intensity warfare is heating up in areas of the Islamic republic populated by ethnic minorities, including the Kurds in the northwest and the Baloch on the border with Pakistan.

Taken together, the two developments raise the spectre of a potentially debilitating escalation of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as an aggravation of the eight-month-old Gulf crisis that has pitted Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, which has forged close ties to Turkey.

The United Arab Emirates and Egypt rather than Saudi Arabia have taken the lead in criticizing Turkey’s incursion into Syria designed to remove US-backed Kurds from the countries’ border and create a 30-kilometer deep buffer zone.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the incursion by a non-Arab state signalled that Arab states would be marginalized if they failed to develop a national security strategy.

Egypt, for its part, condemned the incursion as a “fresh violation of Syrian sovereignty” that was intended to “undermine the existing efforts for political solutions and counter-terrorism efforts in Syria,”

Despite Saudi silence, Yeni Safak, a newspaper closely aligned with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), charged that a $1 billion Saudi contribution to the reconstruction of Raqqa, the now Syrian Kurdish-controlled former capital of the Islamic State, was evidence of the kingdom’s involvement in what it termed a “dirty game.”

To continue reading: How regional rivalries threaten to fuel the fire in Syria and Iran

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Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism? by Philip M. Giraldi

The answer to the title question is not Iran. From Philip M. Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

As 2017 draws to a close, it is difficult to be optimistic about what will be coming in the new year. The American President, whose margin of victory was certainly based on his pledge to avoid unnecessary wars, has doubled down on Afghanistan, refuses to leave Syria even though ISIS has been defeated, and is playing serious brinksmanship with a psychopathic and unpredictable regime in Pyongyang. The White House has also bought into the prevailing largely fabricated narrative about a Russia and has decided to arm Ukraine with offensive weapons, which has already resulted in a sharp response from Moscow and will make détente of any kind between the two leading powers all but impossible in the upcoming year.

But, as I have observed before, the red hazard light that continues to be blinking most brightly relates to Washington’s relationship with Iran, which has unnecessarily deteriorated dramatically over the past year and which brings with it collateral problems with Russia and Turkey that could trigger a much wider conflict. I say unnecessarily because all the steps taken to poison the relationship have come out of Washington, not Tehran. The Trump administration refused to certify that the Iranians had been in compliance with the nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015 and has since escalated its verbal attacks, mostly at the United Nations, claiming that the regime in Tehran is the major source of terrorism in the world and that it is seeking hegemony over a broad arc of countries running westward from its borders to the Mediterranean Sea.

The only problem with the allegations being made is that none of them is true and, furthermore, Iran, with limited military resources, poses no serious threat to gain control over its neighbors, nor to attack the United States or Europe. The invective about Iran largely derives from Israel and Saudi Arabia, which themselves have hegemonic ambitions relating to their region. Israel’s friends in the US Congress, media and White House have not surprisingly picked up on the refrain and are pushing for military action. Israel has even threatened to bomb any Iranian permanent presence inside neighboring Syria.

To continue reading: Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism?

Intel Vets Tell Trump Iran Is Not Top Terror Sponsor, by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Saudi Arabia probably takes the prize, although the US has done its share of sponsoring terrorists as well. From the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity at antiwar.com:

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: Is Iran the “World’s Leading Sponsor of Terrorism?”

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY/BACKGROUND

We are concerned by recent strident and stark public statements from key members of your Administration that paint Iran in very alarmist terms. The average American, without the benefit of history, could easily be persuaded that Iran poses an imminent threat and that there is no alternative for us but military conflict.

We find this uncomfortably familiar territory. Ten years ago former President George W. Bush was contemplating a war with Iran when, in November of 2007, intelligence analysts issued a formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) debunking the prevailing conventional wisdom; namely, that Iran was on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon. The NIE concluded that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003.

Recalling this moment in his memoir, Decision Points, President Bush noted that the NIE’s “eye-popping” intelligence findings stayed his hand. He added this rhetorical question: “How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

We believe that you are facing a similar situation today. But instead of an inaccurate claim that Iran has nuclear weapons, the new canard to justify war with Iran is the claim that Iran remains the “world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” This is incorrect, as we explain below.

One of the recurring big bipartisan lies being pushed on the public with the enthusiastic help of a largely pliant media is that Iran is the prime sponsor of terrorism in the world today.

In the recent presentation of your administration’s National Security Strategy for 2018, the point is made that:

“Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has taken advantage of instability to expand its influence through partners and proxies, weapon proliferation, and funding. . . . Iran continues to perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region, causing grievous harm to civilian populations.”

Those sentiments are echoed by several other countries of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, for example, declared in October 2015 that: Iran “is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and it is working on destabilizing the region.”

The Saudi foreign minister conveniently declined to mention that 15 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked planes and attacked America on 11 September 2001 were Saudis, not Iranians. And, while Iran was an active promoter of terrorism two decades ago, it is no longer in the forefront of global terrorism. Ironically, that dubious distinction now goes to Iran’s accusers – first and foremost, Saudi Arabia.

To continue reading: Intel Vets Tell Trump Iran Is Not Top Terror Sponsor

Why Is There No ‘Saudi-Gate’? by Branko Marcetic

If you’re really concerned about foreign intervention into the US political process, start with Israel and Saudi Arabia, not Russia. From Branko Marcetic at antiwar.com:

For decades, the DC establishment has been on the payroll of a foreign terror state. But because it’s Saudi Arabia, you won’t hear a peep.

Imagine if Russia – instead of doing what it has been accused of doing last year – had funded and facilitated an attack on US soil that killed thousands of Americans. Then imagine that US policymakers, rather than punish the Kremlin by cutting diplomatic ties, imposing sanctions, seeking legal recourse, or all of the above, covered up its involvement in the attack and continued to treat it as a loyal ally.

Imagine if the president who presided over that attack had decades of intimate personal and financial ties to members of the Russian elite and subsequently spirited dozens of Russian nationals out of the country before law enforcement could interrogate them.

Imagine if, despite full knowledge of the Kremlin’s once and ongoing anti-American activities, successive presidents heaped praise on Russia’s authoritarian government, sold it weapons, and made regular pilgrimages to wine and dine with its leaders.

Imagine if an army of Russian lobbyists operated on Capitol Hill to ensure Washington’s pro-Kremlin line, eventually pressuring American leadership into actively assisting it in carrying out one of this decade’s worst war crimes.

Imagine if, at the end of all this, Donald Trump ran for president on an explicitly anti-Russia line, only to shamelessly reverse himself once elected, embrace the Russian leadership, and pursue policies that benefited them even more enthusiastically than his predecessors had.

It’s a pretty scary thought.

Thankfully, in the real world, none of this applies to Russia. It does, however, perfectly describe Saudi Arabia.

“A 9/11 Scale Event”

Politicians and pundits have clamored to label the alleged Russian interference an “act of war.” Several have compared it to Pearl Harbor, and Tom Friedman declared it a “9/11 scale event.”

Even more of a 9/11 scale event was the actual 9/11. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals, and the attack was planned by a scion of one of the country’s wealthiest and politically connected families. The hijackers, we now know thanks to the release of twenty-eight previously classified pages from the 9/11 commission’s report, had ties to members of the Saudi government, including the Saudi ambassador to the United States, who also belongs to the country’s royal family.

To continue reading: Why Is There No ‘Saudi-Gate’?

 

Why Saudi Prince bin Talal’s ‘friends’ have abandoned him, by Jake Novak

Saudi Prince bin Talal is discovering who his true friends are, and it’s probably a lot fewer people than he thought. From Jake Novak at cnbc.com:

  • Investing celebrity Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has now been detained and reportedly tortured for more than three weeks.
  • The political and financial world has remained mostly silent or at least relatively calm about it.
  • Here are the uncomfortable political and financial reasons his so-called friends appear to have abandoned him.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

Mohammad Obaidi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

One of the world’s richest men and most sought-after investors has been under arrest and even reportedly tortured for more than three weeks.

That man is billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. He owns major stakes in Twitter and Citigroup. He was a key shareholder in 21stCentury FOX. His television interviews, including on CNBC, are promoted with “must-watch” status. He’s routinely called the “Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia.”

But since November 5, bin Talal has been detained in a room at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. The hotel has become a de facto prison for more than 200 of his fellow princes and Saudi officials as new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman conducts a sweeping and stunning purge of his real and potential political opponents.

To make matters worse, several credible reports have surfaced that bin Talal and the others are being tortured. One report says he’s been hung upside down and beaten. Those stories gained a level of credence earlier this week when another prince, Miteb bin Abdullah, paid a reported $1 billion for his freedom.
As bin Salman pushes to beef up Saudi Arabia’s military power and alliances against Iran, the official reason for these arrests is that they are part of an “anti-corruption probe.” But of course, the kingdom is not presenting anything in the way of documented evidence. That’s not how they roll in a regime that Human Rights Watch points out has no written penal code or criminal rights.

 

Lebanon in the Crosshairs, by Philip Giraldi

Is Lebanon the next Middle Eastern disaster for the US? From Philip Giraldi at lewrockwell.com:

If the United States climbs into bed with the Israelis and Saudis and commits to take down Iran it will wind up having to do the hard fighting in a war that could be unwinnable in any conventional sense.

There has been much discussion surrounding the travel of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to Saudi Arabia on November 4th. Al-Hariri, who is a Saudi-Lebanese dual national with considerable business and other personal interests in Saudi Arabia apparently complied with a summons to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been shaking up his government as part of what appears to be an attempt to concentrate more power in his own hands being marketed as a campaign against corruption. Al-Hariri was by some accounts met at the Riyadh airport unceremoniously and placed under something like house arrest. He shortly thereafter read a statement – or was it a script? – claiming that he had fled Lebanon in fear that he might be assassinated. He resigned his office and proceeded to denounce Iranian influence over his country, saying that Tehran was seeking to gain control through its dominance of Hezbollah and the acquiescence of the president, a Maronite Christian, Michel Aoun.

Al-Hariri was allowed to leave Saudi Arabia on Saturday, flying to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, but his children and business interests are still in Saudi Arabia, suggesting that his actions will be dictated by Riyadh. Al-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, was in Beirut on Wednesday for Lebanon’s Independence Day, where he was convinced to hold off on formally submitting his resignation to the government so more discussions could take place. This temporarily avoids a government crisis for the country, where a coalition carefully designed to balance the country’s three major religious constituencies only came together last year.

To continue reading: Lebanon in the Crosshairs

 

Is North Korea Really a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’? by Ron Paul

On that list of state sponsors of terrorism, one looks in vain for Saudi Arabia or the United States, both of whom have sponsored numerous terrorists, notably ISIS and al Qaeda. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

President Trump announced last week that he was returning North Korea to the US list of “state sponsors of terrorism” after having been off the list for the past nine years. Americans may wonder what dramatic event led the US president to re-designate North Korea as a terrorism-sponsoring nation. Has Pyongyang been found guilty of some spectacular terrorist attack overseas or perhaps of plotting to overthrow another country by force? No, that is not the case. North Korea is back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism because President Trump thinks the move will convince the government to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. He believes that continuing down the path toward confrontation with North Korea will lead the country to capitulate to Washington’s demands. That will not happen.

President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued that North Korea deserved to be back on the list because the North Korean government is reported to have assassinated a North Korean citizen – Kim Jong-Un’s own half-brother — in February at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. But what does that say about Washington’s own program to assassinate US citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16 year old son under Obama, and later Awlaki’s six year old daughter under Trump? Like Kim’s half brother, Awlaki and his two children were never tried or convicted of a crime before being killed by their own government.

The neocons, who are pushing for a war with North Korea, are extremely pleased by Trump’s move. John Bolton called it “exactly the right thing to do.”

Designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism will allow President Trump to impose the “highest level of sanctions” on North Korea. Does anyone believe more sanctions – which hurt the suffering citizens of North Korea the most – will actually lead North Korea’s leadership to surrender to Washington’s demands? Sanctions never work. They hurt the weakest and most vulnerable members of society the hardest and affect the elites the least.

So North Korea is officially a terrorism-sponsoring nation according to the Trump Administration because Kim Jong-Un killed a family member. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is in the process of killing the entire country of Yemen and no one says a word. In fact, the US government has just announced it will sell Saudi Arabia $7 billion more weapons to help it finish the job.

To continue reading: Is North Korea Really a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’?