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.
President Trump and Mike Pompeo are trying to set up an Israeli/Arab alliance against Iran. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:
Much ado about nothing, but Act 2 is coming up
It is odd that the White House is gloating over its claimed peace agreement in the Middle East at the same time as one of the signatories is bombing Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. It all suggests that peace in the region will exclude designated enemies and the friends of those enemies, since the ties among the three parties – Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain – is transparently in part an offensive alliance directed against Iran and its friends, to include Syria and Lebanon. A significant amount of the horse trading that preceded the gala signing ceremony in the White House involved who would get what advanced American weapons down the road. The UAE wants F-35 fighter bombers while Israel is already asking for $8 billion for more top-level weapons from the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative edge” over its new found friends.
For the more sagacious readers who chose to ignore what took place, a short recap is in order. Last Tuesday President Trump hosted a White House signing ceremony during which Israel established formal ties with the two Arab states. The agreement was dubbed the Abraham Accord because it purports to build on the foundation provided by the fraternity, as one might put it, of the three Abrahamic religions, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. More specifically, it created the mechanism for diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties between Israel and the two Arab countries. It should be observed that both the UAE and Bahrain are close to being client states of the U.S. Bahrain is in fact the home port of the U.S. Fifth Fleet that operates in the region and it also hosts headquarters of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). Both countries have long had de facto semi-secret relations with Israel on security issues and Israelis have been able to travel to them as long as they do not do so on an Israeli passport. And they both also know that the road to improving already good relations with Washington passes through Israel.
The neocons inside and outside the Trump Administration can talk all they want about waging war against Iran, but supported by the Chinese and Russians, Iran would be a tough, perhaps impossible, nut to crack. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:
So it never was then a ‘peace agreement’ between Israel and the UAE. It was ‘normalisation’ for the purposes of mounting a military alliance against Iran. Pompeo suggested so, this weekend. He said that the UAE and Israel have agreed to form a security and military alliance against Iran to ‘protect’ U.S. interests and the Middle East. This agreement and any that might follow means that there will be an Israeli military and security military presence in the Gulf, and a joint Israeli-UAE intelligence base on Socotra Island in the Red Sea basin overlooking the Bab al-Mandab Strait. According to Pompeo, this agreement will transform the conflict in the Middle East from being Arab-Israeli, to Arab-Iranian, and perhaps Arab-Turkish later on.
The language used by Pompeo is significant in another way. Trump is proud of having taken Jerusalem ‘off the table’ (in the context of negotiations with the Palestinians). He says he has taken the Golan and the Jordan valley ‘off the table, too’. Pompeo’s formulation of the conflict transformation he believes he has just engineered says something else too: It is that the Palestinian issue is ‘off the table’ as well. It is now all about Iran (in Trump’s optic). The Palestinians are to stew in their own juices.
Well, Pompeo perhaps was speaking loosely when he designates it now an Arab-Iranian conflict. It is (at least for now), the UAE alone that has put itself on the Front Line. The Qatari-owned Al Quds al-Arabi scathingly noted that “in this alleged alliance against Iran … were the unwanted were to happen, and [a larger] war break out against Iran, the Emirates will be on the receiving end of the blows – and will be the biggest loser.”
There’s a network of organizations and individuals that operate for the most part under the radar who have a massive influence on US policy in the Middle East. From Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies at antiwar.com:
On May 6th, President Trump vetoed a war powers bill specifying that he must ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Iran. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign of deadly sanctions and threats of war against Iran has seen no let-up, even as the U.S., Iran and the whole world desperately need to set aside our conflicts to face down the common danger of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So what is it about Iran that makes it such a target of hostility for Trump and the neocons? There are many repressive regimes in the world, and many of them are close US allies, so this policy is clearly not based on an objective assessment that Iran is more repressive than Egypt, Saudi Arabia or other monarchies in the Persian Gulf.
The Trump administration claims that its “maximum pressure” sanctions and threats of war against Iran are based on the danger that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. But after decades of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and despite the US’s politicization of the IAEA, the Agency has repeatedly confirmed that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.