Saudi Coalition Kidnappings and Deadly Airstrikes in Yemen Spark Mass Mobilization of Tribal Fighters – By Ahmed Abdulkareem (Mint PRESS)

Yemeni tribesmen hold their weapons and chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, May 26, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

Recent Saudi-coalition airstrikes on civilian targets and allegations of kidnappings by coalition mercenaries have whipped up a hornet’s nest among Yemeni tribes.

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen’s capital Sanaa and the port city of Hodeida in western Yemen on Sunday to denounce deadly airstrikes by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition following a pair of attacks on a fish market and hospital in Hodeida that killed scores of civilians. The protests also came in response to kidnappings targeting women in the district of Tuhaita south of Hodeida on July 29. The protests continued into Monday.

In Hodeida, thousands took to the city’s center, carrying placards and Yemen’s national flags and chanting slogans condemning the series of Saudi attacks that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians just days before.

Defiant residents marched under the slogan “your crimes will not pass and our blood will prevail.” Demonstrators stressed that Hodeida would be a cemetery for Saudi fighters and their mercenaries, no matter how much they mobilize and regardless of the intensity of their crimes against the people of Yemen.

 

In Sana’a, Yemeni women took to the streets en masse to denounce the kidnapping of women by coalition-paid mercenaries. Some of the women wielded rifles — underlining the need for protection from the kidnappers — while chanting slogans calling for Yemeni tribes to protect them.

Women protest Saudi-coalition kidnappings in Yemen's capital, Sana'a. Photo | Twitter

Local radio personality and mother of two, Thekra Abbas, said she attended the protest to ”denounce the dirty acts committed by invading and occupying forces, the latest of which is the kidnapping of the eight women from Tuhaita.”

Last Friday thousands of residents staged a mass rally in the capital Sana’a to condemn the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive against Hodeida, expressing anger at what they called Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen.  Angered by heavy civilian losses as well as airstrikes on non-military targets, protesters vowed to defend their country by any means necessary.

The latest kidnapping incident is not the first time Saudi-led coalition forces have been accused of kidnapping women. On July 5, 35-year-old Sameera Mharish was kidnapped by Saudi soldiers after they captured the village of al Jawf in central Yemen, stirring up anger among local tribes that would later mobilize against the coalition. On July 1, a young girl was kidnapped from her home in Ta’ze by coalition forces.

 

Saudi coalition crosses a Redline 

By targeting women for kidnapping, the Saudi-led coalition and the mercenary forces it employs have not only committed war crimes, they crossed a red line in Yemeni society, which is heavily steeped in tribal tradition. The move has whipped up a hornet’s nest of Yemeni tribes, which staged over 20 vigils in Hodeida, Sana’a, Dhamar, and Hajjah — all major strongholds for Yemen’s largest tribes. The largest protest vigil was held in the district of Tahamh in western Yemen, where hundreds of tribesmen belonging to the Zaraniq tribe gathered to discuss potential responses to the abductions.

The head of the Yemeni Tribal Council, Dheif Allah Rasam, said:

The practices of Saudi Arabia in Yemen against our tribes have reached an extent that cannot be tolerated, and cannot be accepted by anyone with an atom of conscience or sense of responsibility and dignity.”

The Saudi-led coalition, unable to secure control of the strategic port city of Hodeida, has flooded cities and towns surrounding the contested city with foreign and indigenous mercenaries, who are often accused of kidnapping women from their homes.

Reports of the kidnappings, as well as the attack on Hodeida`s hospital and fish market, sparked a mass mobilization of tribal fighters in Yemen’s southwest.

Huge numbers of Yemeni residents have already responded by taking to the battlefield this week in the largest draw of tribal fighters since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition began its offensive on the strategic port of Hodeida two months ago.

On Monday, Yemeni tribal fighters carried out an attack on several battalions of Saudi-led mercenaries, killing or injuring more than 80, including high-level mercenary commanders. Sixty mercenary fighters were also reportedly captured in the attack, which took place in the district of Dreihemi, 60 km from Hodeida.

 

UN peace efforts fail to stem violence

The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition says it supports UN-sponsored peace talks in Yemen but has, in fact, done little to reach a political solution to the conflict.

On Sunday, the Emirati Minister of State for International Cooperation, Reem al-Hashemi, told journalists in Abu Dhabi, “We have always been in support of the [UN] special envoy, we are going to continue to do so.” However — as Salim Meghles, a member of the political wing of the Houthi (Ansar Allah) movement, said in a recent statement — the coalition has not shown “any serious or real stance toward reaching a political solution.”

During Friday’s protest in Sana’a, the head of the Houthi Revolutionary Committee, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, said Yemen’s army will target all member countries of the Saudi-led coalition, even if they were underground, in retaliation for the escalation of coalition attacks on Hodeida. He did not refer to the resumption of the retaliatory attacks against coalition vessels in the Red Sea.

On August 1, Yemen’s Houthis submitted an initiative to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen and unilaterally suspended retaliatory attacks against Saudi-led coalition forces in the Red Sea to support that effort. But as coalition attacks intensify, Houthi officials have signaled that the initiative may not reach its two-week limit.

On Tuesday, an unmanned Houthi long-range drone targeted a Saudi command center in Camp Ambrah on Yemen’s west coast, 20 km from Hodeida. A source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the drone had successfully bombed the camp, causing a “huge explosion.” The death toll and the extent of damage from the attack are still unknown.

In a separate incident, Yemen’s armed forces fired a short-range, Zelzal-1 missile at a Saudi military base in the kingdom’s southwest province if Jizan. Yemeni snipers also killed a Saudi soldier in Jabal al-Doud in the same Saudi province, and three Saudi soldiers were killed by Yemeni sharpshooters at Jizan’s al-Mash’al military base, according to a military source.

On Thursday, the UN envoy said that he was still trying to negotiate a deal to avoid a full-blown battle for Hodeida, expressing worries that Hodeida could be a flashpoint that could derail the push for talks in September.

The Saudi-led coalition has taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories with the aid of advanced U.S. weapons and military equipment, as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

Top Photo | Yemeni tribesmen hold their weapons and chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, May 26, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

SON OF CALIPH OF COCKADOODLEDOO KILLED IN HOMS; TUNNEL NETWORK AND ARSENAL FOUND IN HOMS

DER’AH TALKS FAIL AS SAAF AND RUAF RESUME BOMBING

A picture posted by AMAQ believed to be of the Caliph’s son, Hudhayfa Albadri Al-Saamirraa`iy, all tarted up in Islamist commando garb and getting ready for the big voyage to the afterlife where 72 Virginians await him.  My source reports he was killed by a Syrian Army sniper.

HOMS:

The 15-year old son of the Great Caliph of Cockadoodledoo, Hudhayfa Al-Badri Al-Saamirraa`iy, was killed during an operation at the Homs Thermal Power Plant.  He was reportedly attacking Syrian Army troops and Russian advisors in an operation which would have resulted in his total victory or martyrdom.  The exact date of his death was not revealed in the communique issued by a pro-terrorist website (AMAQ) known to have strong links to the Islamic State.

ضبط أسلحة ثقيلة في ريف درعا والعثور على شبكة أنفاق للارهابيين بريف حمص

A SANA photo of the huge cache of arms discovered at Hawsh Hajju and Al-Sa’an by Syrian Security Services which were stored inside a complex network of tunnels.  IEDs, mines and a mind-numbing assortment of automatic weapons were put on display.  Note the large numbers of Doschkas manufactured in Croatia which were simply awaiting the requisite Toyota trucks.  Well, as it turned out, all these terrorists relocated to Idlib leaving behind this beautiful arsenal for distribution to the fighters who will eventually liberate Saudi Arabia from the troglodytes who infest the government.

____________________________________________

DER’AH:

Well, I’m pleased to tell you that the priceless Roman amphitheater at Busra Al-Shaam is almost 100% damage-free.  With that town and Ibta’ now liberated, it was hoped that other terrorists would follow the lead of many others and call it quits.  But, we just received word that the talks organized by the Russians have failed with the terrorists rejecting a Russian demand that they turn over all heavy equipment immediately.  Just as the talks collapsed, the SAAF and RuAF took to the skies to pummel the obdurate rodents in their lairs as a fitting reward for their lack of foresight.  Needless to say, their cities will be reduced to rubble almost as completely as the city of Nawaa.

At this point, I’d like to shift gears and discuss an email from my friend Canthama which he sent to me today.  In his missive, Canthama asked if I had any details about talks between the SDF and the government over the areas under Kurd control in the northeast.  I actually have no such details.  However, it is of interest that Canthama’s query concerned a Kurdish withdrawal from all areas under control of the YPG/SDF and a transfer of control to the Syrian government- dams, power stations and oil fields.

This makes a great deal of sense.  The Kurds are no strangers to betrayal and disappointment.  Last month, Muhammad ‘Awda, leader of the Shabbab Al-Sunna group, told some reporters that Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, outlined a policy position in Washington that the terrorists in the south should expect no help from the U.S.  In fact, the letter stated clearly that the terrorists should not plan their future operations with an eye to pulling the U.S. in for a military intervention.  That is not going to happen.  And, that is consistent with what we know about Trump’s own attitudes about American forces in Syria and his NSA advisor, John Bolton, whose opinion is openly averse to keeping American troops in what he believes to be a “sideshow”.

Much of this is consistent with the fact that Americans are disconnecting at Al-Tanf where the British are playing a more active role in training and financing terrorism on Syrian soil.  Of interest also is the increasing role of French troops in Northern Syria.  Just as Trump believes the NATO allies are not coughing up enough for their individual defenses, he also appears to believe that they are on some kind of free ride in Syria – just as Obama himself once quipped.

All in all, Canthama’s information, appears plausible.  The Kurds know that without American aid, they cannot survive the onslaught once the SAA does away with the terrorists in the South.  They also know that the U.S. is disengaging in the South despite the fact that their departure will affect negatively their Jordanian and Zionist allies.  The French and British do not have the depth to continue supporting an insurgency and are viewed as temporary partners.  The Kurds need a long-lasting solution.  They have been patient so far – they will need an even greater dose of that for the near future.

If what Canthama says is true, the Kurdish problem in Syria may go away with much less pain than that of other areas where agreements saw the removal of entrenched terrorists uploaded on to green buses for eventual internment in the fertile killing fields of Idlib.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Setback for Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen – By VT Senior Editors (VT)

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It’s a serious setback for the Saudi-led coalition whose thousands of US-backed air strikes have so far failed to deliver victory over seasoned Ansarullah Houthi fighters. Strange enough, Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates and their allies still see victory in Yemen, where they are backed by US weapons and intelligence, as “vital” if they are to counter Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, a priority for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But coalition prospects were dimmed once more this week by a popular resistance front that has nothing to do with Iran and everything to do with a nation which wants to determine its own political future and destiny.

This comes at a time when the Saudi-UAE war effort has already been running into trouble everywhere else in the war-torn country. Like in Hodeidah, there has been no sign of a victory, much less to assert their supremacy in the South.

This also comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is fast losing allies. International pressure on Western nations selling weapons to Saudi Arabia is also mounting. The uproar in the West against the selling of weapons to the Saudis has been growing louder as well, particularly in light of the worsening humanitarian disaster.

From Canada under fire for a $15 billion contract, to Sweden cutting off military cooperation that had been going on since 2015, to the UK, where talk of halting arms exports if humanitarian laws are broken in Yemen. The situation is serious because even the UN is calling on the United States to take a tough stance on Riyadh for the ongoing human rights violations in the poorest country in the Arab world.

The West isn’t the only one trying to distance itself from Saudi Arabia. In fact, tensions with close allies have increased since the arrival to power of King Salman. Recent remarks by the new Malaysian Defense Minister Mohammad Sabo on the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) withdrawal from the offensive of the Saudi-led coalition are highly debatable.

“Malaysia has never been involved in the attack on Yemen, which is also a Muslim country. The ATM presence in Saudi Arabia has indirectly involved Malaysia in the Middle East conflict. If Malaysian troops are to be involved in such attacks, they should be solely through the United Nations,” Sabo has said in a statement this week.

All in all, Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent the UAE, are too arrogant to accept defeat in Yemen, particularly in Hodeidah. That doesn’t change the fact that indeed they have lost the war. Framing the violence in Yemen as a proxy war involving Iran is flat-out wrong as well.

There’s a total blockade of sea and Iranian weapons cannot get through, personnel cannot get through. Iran has no air forces involved. The real driving force of the hostilities in Yemen is Saudi Arabia that has been shelling the country since March 2015 with a helping hand from the US and NATO allies. Riyadh is desperate to be a regional power and has instigated a number of conflicts, including those in Bahrain and Syria. The regime seeks to strengthen itself so as to ensure the continuation of its dictatorship.

To that end, Saudi Arabia is committing war crimes in Yemen. Western powers who are supplying logistical assistance and weapons are also complicit in these crimes against humanity. In spite of the far-reaching support of the Western allies, the Saudis are stuck in a quagmire similar to that being experienced by their American masters in Afghanistan.

The national resistance front in Yemen, led by the Ansarullah faction, disorganized at the beginning of the war, has now become a fighting machine, manufacturing its own weapons and being able to sustain themselves, despite the ongoing blockade. Any doubters should ask the Saudi-led invading forces that lost the battle of Hodeidah this week.

Can Saudi Arabia Fight its Own Fight? History Shows Heavy Reliance on Mercenaries, Militias and the US – By Ali Mourad @alihmourad (MINT PRESS)

U.S. Marines exchange handshakes with Saudi Arabia's Naval Special Forces after a joint training exercise in the Middle East, May 18, 2017. Kyle McNan | US Marine Corp

Despite access to high-tech weapons and a massive military budget, Saudi Arabia seems unable to piece together a competent fighting force, instead relying on mercenaries, militias, and the US to win its wars.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (Report) — During President Trump’s now infamous visit to Saudi Arabia, Washington and Riyadh signed arms deals amounting to almost $110 billion, a move viewed by some as fueling an arms race in an already dangerous Middle East.

In the past decade, it has become clear that there is a Saudi quest to move from a country engaged in proxy wars to one able to achieve its objectives by engaging directly with its own military. Now, after over three years of a failed Saudi-led assault on Yemen, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has threatened to “bring the battle to the heart of Iran.” Having been supervised and trained by the U.S Department of Defense since 1953, is the Saudi Arabian military capable of achieving this goal, and what exactly comprises Saudi Arabia’s military doctrine?  

 

King before Country

Most militaries base their doctrines on the priorities and nature of rule in their country, but there are components that remain fairly consistent regardless of ideological stance. They include lessons gleaned from the past, the military strategy of the state, issues surrounding technical development, and of course, overall national values.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, those values can be summarized by a slogan taught to children starting in elementary school and rooted in the public’s collective conscious:

Allah [God], Al-Malik [the King], Al-Watan [the Nation]” 

The order is significant. It’s worth pointing out that a majority of Gulf States, including Kuwait and Qatar, have national slogans based on a concept of “the nation” over the “prince,” giving precedence to the nation over its ruler: “God, the Nation, the Prince.” Saudi Arabia’s national slogan is the first step in the process of presenting the interest of defense of the ruler over the nation and forms the basis of the primary responsibility of those entrusted to protect the state.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s relative youth (the country as we now know it was founded in 1932), there are numerous examples of how her rulers have engaged in war, pursuing a doctrine tied to a heavy reliance on militias and the military influence they wield. This includes

King Abdul Aziz’s military campaigns in the Arabian Peninsula at the onset of the last century into the early 1930s.

In the decades since its establishment, the Kingdom has had almost no reliable experience by which to evaluate the performance of its regular army, with the exception of its previous war on Yemen in the early 1960s, which saw modest participation by the “Saudi National Guards.” Even then, Riyadh relied heavily on support from Yemen’s Mutawakkilite Imamate to achieve its military goals.

In 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia months later, Saudi King Fahd made an official request to the United States to bring its troops to the “land of the Two Holy Mosques” to protect his regime from invasion. The Saudis did not have a regular army that could be relied upon; instead, the U.S. Air Force paved the way for Saudi ground forces to enter the border town of Al-Khafji, near Kuwait. The battle there helped Saudi Arabia alleviate some of the growing popular discontent over the presence of U.S. Marines on Saudi soil.

President George Bush is greeted by Saudi troops and others as he arrives in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, for a Thanksgiving visit, Nov. 22, 1990. J. Scott Applewhite | AP

Later, Saudi Arabia’s military weakness would emerge in the 2009 “Saada War” against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The latter were able to take control of several locations and towns inside the Saudi Kingdom, reportedly killing dozens of Saudi soldiers in the ensuing battles.

As for Saudi Arabia’s ongoing war on Yemen, launched in March of 2015, the inherent weakness of Saudi ground forces manifested itself clearly through the Gulf kingdom’s heavy reliance on foreign mercenaries to fight on behalf of its armed forces, the failure to progress on fronts adjacent to the border, and the inability of Saudi forces to hold positions and villages, despite support from the Saudi Royal Air Force.

Despite Saudi Arabia failures, it has yet to establish minimum requirements for its regular army, instead relying on a strategy of using outside agents, often armed militias with Wahhabi ideology, to complete missions. This factor, coupled with a failure to invest in domestic weapons production despite the availability of money and raw materials, has left the Saudi military heavily reliant on foreign aid to secure arms, making the country a hugely profitable market for the Western arms dealers.

 

A history of reliance and dependence

In March of 1929, the founder of the modern Saudi kingdom, Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, supported by the British Royal Air Force, was able to defeat the militias he previously relied on to secure territory, and ultimately, the throne. Al-Saud then set about constructing the formation of the forces that would eventually become the core of Saudi Arabia’s regular army following international recognition of his kingdom. He established the so-called “Directorate of Military Affairs” and — in 1939, seven years after Kingdom was established — the “Directorate of the Chief of Staff,” followed by the Saudi Ministry of Defense on November 10, 1943.

During the famous meeting between President Roosevelt and Al-Saud in February of 1945, Roosevelt was asked to send a U.S. military mission to oversee the training of Saudi soldiers. In 1949, General Richard O’Keefe was appointed as the first commander of the U.S training mission, which did not officially start until four years later, after the two parties signed the so-called “Joint Military Cooperation Agreement” in 1951.

The United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) officially began on June 27, 1953.  It took up headquarters in Dhahran before moving to its current location in Riyadh’s so-called Iskan Village. “Our mission is to strengthen U.S national security through building the capabilities of the Saudi armed forces to defend our common interests in the Middle East,” reads the mission statement on its website.

Members of Saudi Arabian's Marine Corps meet with Cpl. Robert Loeffler, the assistance maintenance chief at Marine Corps Training Center in Tampa, Fla., Dec. 5, 2014. Ian Ferro | U.S. Marine Corps

On Feb. 8, 1977, the U.S and Saudi Arabia signed a new treaty governing the work of the training mission. Nestled in the third article of that treaty was a clause that left the number of American soldiers and officers that were to join the mission open and subject to change based on the perceived needs of the Saudi Ministry of Defense, the Chairman of the Saudi Staff, and the Pentagon. Article 5 of the treaty described the mission’s function: “USMTM is responsible for providing advisory services in Planning, Organization, Training, Logistics Support and Armament.”  USMTM was also given the privilege of requesting arms shipments to the Saudis, within the so-called Military Sales Program.

Under Article 6, U.S. military personnel were firmly entrenched into the structure and performance of Saudi Armed Forces. Under the provision, Washington committed its officers (even after retirement) to refrain from disclosing any details about the nature of the mission or of Saudi military secrets, leaving researchers with scant information. For their part, the Saudis promised to exempt members of the mission from customs duties and taxes; committed themselves to provide suitable housing for the members of the Mission; to bearing the costs of “transport, food, entertainment, furniture and medical services;” and to allowing U.S. military aircraft to land and take off from civilian and military airports without paying fees.

Following the 1991 Gulf War and subsequent liberation of Kuwait, the Bush administration tried unsuccessfully to negotiate an amendment to the treaty that would have increased the U.S’ military footprint in Saudi Arabia. The negotiations failed, as the Saudi regime was in the midst of quelling public outcry over U.S military presence in the Kingdom. After 9/11, and the increase in tensions between Washington and Riyadh that accompanied it, the U.S. considered putting an end to the training mission, but ultimately decided to abide by the 1977 treaty.

 

U.S. Marine Corps assessment

A 2008 handbook, released as part of the U.S Marine Corps Intelligence Activities Country Handbook Program, gives a candid view of almost everything pertaining to Saudi Arabia (history, geography, society) and its military. According to the document, the U.S estimates the number of Saudi soldiers in service at around 200,000 — with about 20,000 in its reserves and 15,000 in the ranks of Saudi paramilitary groups.

The document goes on to list the various branches comprising the Ministry of Defense, including the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF), the Royal Saudi Navy Forces (RSNF), the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), the Royal Saudi Air Defense Force (RSADF) and the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). It also lists the armament capabilities of Saudi troops and mentions the deficiencies of each branch, especially the chronic inability to garner volunteers from among Saudi youth.  

Saudi soldiers in formation  at their base in the southern province of Jizan, near the border with Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 8, 2009. Photo | AP

As the Handbook puts it, although Saudi Arabia has a large population base, sufficient to ensure the army has a continuity of manpower, and despite attractive material incentives, Royal Saudi Land Forces face difficulty in recruiting and maintaining sufficient qualified personnel:

Military service is not attractive to most Saudis [who live in a welfare state]; as such, recruits often do not have the capacity or motivation to operate and maintain the ground forces’ arsenal. As a result, foreign and civilian personnel have to perform a variety of functions, from the servicing and maintenance of weapons systems to the demand for spare parts and supplies.”

The report doesn’t give much higher marks to the Royal Saudi Air Force, noting that the RSAF — historically known as having a defensive mission — is attempting to acquire offensive skills. As the authors of the handbook note:

Saudis demonstrate a weakness for strategic air operational planning and execution beyond the squadron level. Communications is stove-piped and there is very little joint-services communication. The air force has little experience in offensive operations and is perceived to have an over-reliance on foreign technical support and personnel to manage and maintain combat operations.”

The Saudi Navy doesn’t fare much better. The Marine Corps assessment concludes that, despite Saudi ambitions to create a navy capable of confronting the “Iranian naval threat (which is beyond its experience and strength),” the Royal Saudi Navy Forces, “like the other Saudi military services, are ill-prepared to handle the acquisition of new vessels and technology and are still dependent on foreign contractor support for fleet maintenance and logistics.”

The assessment goes on to explain the structure and arming of the National Guard, whose mission is supposed to be to protect the royal family and the country’s oil installations, but is instead engaged in maintaining the regime and suppressing domestic opposition activity. The report highlights the Guard’s training program, which is ostensibly independent of the Defense Ministry’s. About a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s “tribal regiments” (around 25,000) are members of the National Guard, and Guard personnel are reviewed only once a month when they collect their salaries. “They are not well-trained or equipped, but are used as a means to support subsidies paid to local elders to maintain the loyalty of their tribes,” the report states.

 

Modernization in reverse

While few academics have written about the Saudi military or researched its capabilities and points of weakness, there are a few studies comprehensive enough to provide insight into Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities. In her 2011 research paper titled “Tribes, Coups and Princes: Building a Modern Army in Saudi Arabia”, Senior Research Associate at the University of London, Dr. Stephanie Cronin, points out how “Saudi Arabia entered the twenty-first century having experienced not military modernization but rather military modernization in reverse.”  She goes on to say, “the strength of tribal and family ties and patronage has not weakened but rather embedded ever more deeply within a system of patrimonial rule,” and concludes:

Recruitment remained voluntary, avoiding the administrative centralization and bureaucratic rationality demanded by conscription, while both the integrative function of conscription and the emergence of a professional officer corps were sacrificed to the imperative of sustaining the tribal and family ascendancy of the al-Saud.”

A U.S. Marine teaches     Saudi Naval Forces how to use a MG-42 machine gun during exercise Red Reef 15. Rome M. Lazarus | US Marine Corp

Anthony Cordesman, in his 2002 research for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21st Century: The Military and Internal Security Dimension,” echoes similar sentiments to those expressed by Dr. Cronin. While the report relies heavily on the U.S. Marine Corps’ assessment of Saudi military capability, it does add some detail on the vulnerabilities of each military branch.

As Cordesman notes, “the RSAF has failed to improve its training and organization at the mid- and high-command levels, and for joint operations at anything like the rate required – a serious, if not inexcusable, failure in military leadership.” Cordesman also mentions the isolation of SANG forces:

There is little real-world cooperation with the regular forces and Ministry of Defense and Aviation, although there is one token liaison meeting a month. There are no meaningful joint exercises with the Saudi regular army and air force, and there has been no effort to develop a common concept of operations or to see if the Saudi Air Defense Force could support the Guard in some contingencies. The Guard and regular forces use different communications systems, and there are no joint war plans. Any cooperation requires each service to send liaison officers to the other service with radios.”

Cordesman’s research concludes:

The Kingdom needs to recognize that it can no longer afford military procurement efforts that emphasize political considerations and/or high technology “glitter” over military effectiveness. Saudi Arabia needs long-term force plans and planning, programming, and budget systems that create stable and affordable force development and defense spending efforts. It needs to bring its manpower quality and sustainment capabilities into balance with its equipment.”

Cordesman’s assessment was drafted 16 years ago, when the Defense Ministry was headed by Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, yet it is still valid today under Crown Prince and current Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi leadership is still obsessed with outperforming its neighbors and boasting of its power. Perhaps the problem lies in a Saudi psyche that pushes the regime to purchase tens of billions of dollars worth of arms that to date have not resulted in a single victory for the wealthy Gulf Kingdom.

A version of this article appeared in Al-Akhbar in Arabic.

Top Photo | U.S. Marines exchange handshakes with Saudi Arabia’s Naval Special Forces after a joint training exercise in the Middle East, May 18, 2017. Kyle McNan | U.S. Marine Corp

Ali Mourad is a journalist and researcher focusing on Gulf affairs based in Beirut, Lebanon. He writes for Al-Ahd as well as al-Akhbar Lebanon. Follow him on Twitter @alihmourad.

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America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday – By Eric ZUESSE (STRATEGIC ORDER FOUNDATION)

America’s Genocide in Yemen Starts Tuesday
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 12.06.2018

Eric ZUESSE

The Houthis in Yemen are expected to start being slaughtered en-masse on June 12th. The U.S.-Saudi-UAE plan is to destroy the Yemenese port city of Al Hudaydah, which is the only entry-way by which food reaches approximately seven million Shiites, members of the Houthi tribe, who occupy the western third of Yemen, and who had recently ruled all of Yemen. The U.S. provides the weapons and the training, and the United Arab Emirates supplies the pilots for this operation, which is financed mainly by the Saudis. The objective is to establish a joint UAE-Saudi-run government of Yemen.

On Monday, June 11th, the New York Times bannered “U.N. Pulls Out of City in Yemen, Fearing Bloody Assault by Arab Coalition”. That report didn’t mention that this is America’s fundamentalist-Sunni coalition of Arab monarchies, using American weapons, in order to bomb and blockade, and now starve to death, approximately seven million Houthis, and that it’s part of a broader war in which the U.S. and Israel are allied with fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies, which are trying to conquer Shiite-run countries, especially Yemen, Syria, and ultimately Iran. The Houthis are Shia, not Sunni. On 24 October 2014, a Houthi leader was interviewed in Yemen Times, which reported: “Al-Bukhaiti does not think that ‘the Iranian system’ [a Shia theocracy] could ever be implemented in the country. Neither do the Houthis have any interest in bringing back the Imamate. Instead, he describes the Zaydi [their Shia] doctrine as ‘republican’ and the Houthi group as ‘liberal’.” None of America’s Islamic allies is even remotely like that description.

America’s alliance of fundamentalist-Sunni Arab monarchies call Iran especially an “existential threat” to themselves, because Iran, and Shiites generally, are opposed to monarchical governments, especially after 1979, when Iranians overthrew the U.S. CIA-installed (in 1953) Shah. And all of America’s allies in the Middle East, other than theocratic-Jewish apartheid Israel, are fundamentalist-Sunni monarchies.

The reason the U.N. is pulling out is to avoid being killed by these American missiles and bombs, which are expected to produce, by means of these UAE and Saudi proxy-fighters, a rare American victory in the Middle East.

The United Arab Emirates are providing the U.S.-trained pilots, who will drop U.S. bombs from U.S. planes, so as to destroy Al Hudaydah, and thereby completely block any food from reaching the seven-to eight million food-stranded Houthi Shiites.

The New York Times report said, “Diplomats involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations say that the United Arab Emirates officially warned the British government on Friday that an attack on Al Hudaydah was imminent. The Emiratis said they would give three days for humanitarian workers and nongovernmental organizations to flee the city. The International Committee for the Red Cross removed its staff from the city over the weekend. … [The U.S. Secretary of State,] Mr. Pompeo said that in his conversation with the Emiratis he had made clear the United States’ ‘desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports,’ the statement said.”

On June 5th, Agence France Presse reported that, “More than 22 million people are now in serious need of aid, with 8.4 million on the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.”

So, while the U.S. has approved this operation, the U.S. also has a “desire” to be “preserving the free flow of” food, and this suggests that the U.S. Government intends that the blame for the expected genocide will fall only upon America’s fundamentalist-Sunni royal partners, who are expected to be running Yemen afterward. Whatever “concerns” for “preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports” that the U.S. might have had, will, no doubt, show up during the starvation-operation, which will follow the bombardment of Al Hudaydah.

This mission is clearly important to the Trump Administration. The New York Times report closes: “American military officials do not want Congress to prevent military aid to the two nations [UAE and Saudi Arabia], both of which are crucial allies in counterterrorism, nor do they want a vacuum of power in Yemen to result in a new incubator for extremist groups like the Islamic State [which group is fundamentalist-Sunni, like America’s allies, the monarchs in UAE and Saudi Arabia, are] and Al Qaeda [which also is fundamentalist-Sunni]. Diplomats in the region say they believe that only more pressure from Washington will stop the planned assault.” The U.S. has instead given its allies the go-ahead to proceed.

Trump had said, when he campaigned for the Presidency in 2016, that he had opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, no record existed confirming that that had been so. In any case, there has been no indication of anything like such sentiments from him since he became President, and all of the people whom he has appointed to diplomatic and military posts have been consistent supporters of American invasions, including of Iraq. But this time around, the U.S. is not providing any of the actual troops.

Thus far in his Presidency, Trump has sold to the royal family of Saudi Arabia $400 billion in U.S.-made weapons and training. Additional billions have been sold to UAE. So, the war in Yemen is profitable for American firms such as Lockheed Martin. And no American is likely to get the blame. Perhaps Trump has learned something, after all, from the experience of George W. Bush. Trump is aspiring to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, had won. (After winning that, Obama bombed Libya in 2011, but Obama’s Prize was never retracted.) Perhaps Trump has sound reason to be optimistic.

washingtonsblog.com

Israel Aiding Saudi Arabia In Developing Nuclear Weapons – by Whitney Webb – (MINT PRESS)

israel - saudi arabia
Wahhabis with Nukes?

Saudi interest in developing nuclear weapons dates back to the 1970s, when the kingdom learned of major steps taken by both Israel and India in the development of nuclear armaments.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – The Israeli government has begun selling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia information on how to develop nuclear weapons, according to a senior official at the Israeli military organization iHLS (Israel’s Homeland Security). Ami Dor-on, a senior nuclear commentator at the organization — which is partially funded by U.S. weapons-giant Raytheon – came forward because of his concern over the emerging nuclear arms race in the region. The cooperation between the two countries in helping the Saudis to develop a nuclear weapons program is just the latest sign of their warming relationship, with Israel recently calling the Saudi crown prince “a partner of Israel.”

Israel has been a nuclear power for decades, though its nuclear arsenal is undeclared and the country has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Estimates of its arsenal vary, with most suggesting that Israel possesses from 100 to 200 nuclear weapons. Israel was aided in the development of its nuclear program by Western powers, particularly France. Much of the Western “help” Israel received, however, was the result of covert thefts of nuclear material from countries such as the United States and Belgium.

While Dor-On, speaking to news outlet Arabi21, did not elaborate on the details of the information being exchanged, he stated that the sharing of this information was likely to be just the beginning of Israeli involvement in a future Saudi nuclear weapons program, which would likely see Israel “take the initiative to develop Saudi Arabia’s effort to acquire nuclear weapons” as a result of “the growing Saudi-Israeli relations.”

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have justified their acquisition of nuclear weapons by citing concerns about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. However, Iran — unlike Israel — has never developed any nuclear weapons and its capacity to develop one is virtually nil under the conditions set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA). Though the U.S. recently left the deal, Iran has since announced that it would continue to abide by the agreement if the other signatories also agreed to do so.

Dor-On additionally expressed his concern over the Saudis’ acquiring of nuclear weapons and a wider nuclear arms race in the region, stating that “this information should shock us as we see the world is changing for the worse, following the race for the possession of nuclear weapons that pass right over our heads in the Middle East.”

He also noted that Israel’s decision to begin sharing nuclear secrets with Saudi Arabia was motivated by a similar offer recently made by Pakistan to the Saudis — in which Islamabad had announced its ability to transfer nuclear-weapons expertise to the Gulf kingdom “within a month” — stating that the Israeli government did not want to “leave it [the development of a Saudi nuclear program] solely to Pakistan.” Pakistan’s offer was likely related to the fact that the Saudis have long been widely viewed as the chief financier behind Pakistan’s nuclear program.

 

Saudi nuclear weapons progress and status not clear

While the announcement that the Saudis may soon develop nuclear weapons with the help of Israel and other regional players will likely cause concern throughout the international community, it is hardly the first indication of Saudi ambition to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, Saudi interest in developing nuclear weapons dates back to the 1970s, when the kingdom learned of major steps taken by both Israel and India in the development of nuclear armaments.

Not long after financing the Pakistani program, the Saudis procured a Chinese ballistic missile system capable of carrying nuclear warheads — warheads that Pakistan had made for the Saudis in 2013 and were awaiting delivery, according to a BBC report published at the time. Three years later in 2016, former CIA Operations Officer Duane Clarridge confirmed this to FOX News — stating that, through their financing of the Pakistani nuclear program, the Saudis had access to several nuclear bombs. Clarridge declined to comment on whether those nuclear weapons that had been “sitting ready for delivery” in Pakistan a few years prior had since been delivered to Saudi Arabia.

Watch | Former CIA Officer Duane Clarridge Tell FOX News that the Saudis had several nuclear weapons back in 2016:

More recently, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman publicly announced this March, during an interview with CBS News, that the country would seek to develop nuclear weapons, were Iran to do so. In that interview, the Crown Prince stated that “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb; but, without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” However, he did not make reference to the claim that the Saudis had already acquired access to such weapons years prior.

Furthermore, around the same time as the Crown Prince’s interview, reports surfaced claiming that the Saudis had asked the United States for permission to enrich uranium with the goal of producing a nuclear weapon.

 

Would Saudi nukes find their way into the hands of terrorists? A very real concern

The possibility that the Saudis already have access to nuclear weapons, and hope to soon develop them domestically, has been met with concern by analysts, particularly given the kingdom’s documented history of funneling weapons to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Daesh (ISIS), and Jaish al-Islam, among others. Were the Saudis to domestically produce their own nuclear weapons, it is very much a possibility that the kingdom would include them in its future weapon shipments to the radical Wahhabist groups they actively support.

Another area of concern is the kingdom’s disrespect for civilian life and tendency to wage total war when embroiled in a military conflict. For instance, in Yemen, where the Saudis have been attempting to oust the Houthis from power since 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly bombed civilian infrastructure and imposed a blockade of the country that has prevented food, medicine and fuel from reaching the majority of Yemen’s population of around 28 million. As a result, 18.5 million Yemenis are expected to face starvation by this December and a “preventable” cholera epidemic of historic proportions continues to claim innocent life.

The Saudis’ willingness to inflict such misery on a civilian population as part of a military conflict is yet another indication of the danger inherent in their acquiring the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Top Photo | Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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A View from the Rubble of Sana’a: What Happens When an Airstrike Hits Your Street – by Ahmed Abdulkareem (MINT PRESS)

SANA’A, YEMEN — The late morning sun conspired with a cloudless blue sky to frame the Al Tahir commercial district here in a shimmering champagne glow. With the noon hour approaching, swatches of life unfurl like images in a Diego Rivera mural: Al Qasr Street begins to swell with cars, courier trucks and bicycles, while pedestrians trickle into the appliance stores,  cafes and pharmacies that sit in the shadow of the presidential palace.

A motorist, Ibrahim Abdulkareem, heads to the hospital where his wife — badly injured in a Saudi airstrike that destroyed his home and killed his two-year-old son — is scheduled for yet another surgery. A 13-year-old boy with a mop of thick black hair, Amin Al Wazi, sits listless and cross-legged against a wall, hoping to earn a few bucks by offering the use of his digital blue bathroom scale for a small donation. The child has been a fixture on the street for months, since his family arrived in this capital city after fleeing the Saudi aerial attacks in western Yemen.

Suddenly, a plane’s loud whirring pierces Al Tahir’s preoccupied hum, followed by a deafening explosion, and then another, a few minutes later. When finally the thick black smoke begins to dissipate, Abdulkareem climbs from his car to discover that the orderly streetscape has been transformed into a hellish scene, like some overwrought imagining of Dante: roughly five football fields of thick, choking dust, smoldering shops, mangled metal, and charred corpses buried under mountains of rubble. Anguished moans and screams fill the air like an aria of grief and pain.

“Do not gather,” warn the paramedics rushing to the scene to warn against the Saudi tactic of “double-tapping,” intended to inflict maximum damage. “The Saudi airplanes will come back.”

Abdulkareem ignores their admonition and climbs from his car, rushing to help.

“Do not worry, you will be fine!” he assures the first casualty he stumbles upon, an elderly man sitting in a heap of twisted metal and shattered glass. His legs have been shorn off in the blast, and Abdulkareem hopes that his lie will provide the dying man with some comfort in his final moment. He helps rescue workers load the body into an ambulance where the man draws his last breath.

Across the street, men pull Al Wazi’s lifeless body from a pile of rubble. “It is him,” shouts a shopkeeper, his face covered with soot and dust. “It is the boy of the digital scale; he is dead.”

The boy and his weigh scale were fixtures on Al Qasr Street since he and his family moved here months ago from western Yemen after an airstrike at a Yemen wedding party left more than 85 civilians dead, including his father.

Come rain or shine, the cold of winter or the searing heat of a Yemen summer, he was there at first light to eke out something resembling a living for himself and his family. The nearby shopkeepers erupt in anger at the discovery of his body, and curse the Saudis who accuse Houthi rebels of being proxies of their historic rival, Iran.  

“He was no Iranian expert,” cries out Ali Ahmed, the owner of a nearby restaurant, as he scrambles past capsized plastic white tables and splintered blue tiles. “He is a young boy; he was no Houthi leader. Are we carrying a missile ballistic platform? Are the civilians from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards or Hezbollah?”

 

Predictable death by air and sea

Gawad Awad, a severely malnourished Yemeni 4-month-old, lies in the lap of his mother, Heba Ahmed, in the Al-Sadaqa Hospital in Aden, Yemen, this Feb. 13, 2018 photo. Gawad weighed 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds). Aden’s hospital is the best supplied in southern Yemen, but many of the other hospitals around the south are short of supplies and under staff, and families with starving children can’t afford to make the trip to Aden. (AP/Nariman El-Mofty)

Since this war began in 2015, Saudi airstrikes in this tiny nation on the Red Sea have become almost as predictable as the tide. And, combined with a suffocating blockade of Yemen’s ports, children here are more likely to die before their 18th birthday than anywhere else in the world. In November 2017, Save the Children estimated that as many as 130 children were dying every day in Yemen, and more than 50,000 children died over the calendar year.

In December 2016, UNICEF reported that a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections. And the U.K.-based NGO Disasters and Emergencies Committee’s recent report put the number of preventable deaths at 10,000.

That, Yemenis say, is not a coincidence. Ignored by the Western media and unseen by the rest of the world, the Saudis abide by few rules of war, in their attempt to ethnically cleanse this nation of 27 million people, and clear a path for Western powers to seize control of its mineral resources and its ports that are a gateway to the Arab world, Europe and Asia.

Speaking at a news conference in the Geneva, Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that April has been the deadliest month this year so far with a sharp increase in civilian casualties in Yemen.

Increasingly, the UN asserts, the attacks are in densely populated areas, such as the one here in Sana’a targeting the presidential palace. The Saudi airstrikes also raise questions about whether the Saudis are adhering to the legal principle of proportional response so often violated by Israel’s use of sophisticated drones and other weaponry to retaliate against Palestinians for launching World War I-era rockets, many of which land harmlessly.

The airstrike here that killed Amin Al Wazi left another nine civilians dead and 82 more injured, but it was fairly unremarkable for all but those who lived through it.

 

Bombers see a puff of smoke, a father sees the bloodied corpse of his child

Ibrahim has seen worse. In 2015, he lost his infant daughter in an airstrike, the same one that left his wife badly injured and in need of surgery on the day of the airstrikes on the presidential palace.

The night of that airstrike, Ibrahim, an engineer, told MintPress he awoke to the sound of his wife screaming. She was pinned under the rubble of their collapsed walls. His two-year-old daughter was completely buried under plaster and stone. Ibrahim told MintPress it took hours to dig out first his wife, and then his daughter from the rubble, and remove the shrapnel from the girl’s tiny body.

Said Ibrahim:

I did not give up; her blood was dripping on my clothes as I ran to (the) hospital hoping to see her smile again. Doctors were trying to bring her back to life but it was too late. I fainted to the floor.”

Top Photo | People inspect the rubble of homes destroyed by Saudi airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 25, 2017. (AP/Hani Mohammed)

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News and local Yemeni media.

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Has America gone rogue? – By Andrew J. Bacevich (Spectator USA) (SOTT)

NetTrumpBinS

© Pinterest/Unknown/KJN
The company we keep…

How the abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal could mark the start of a Saudi-American-Israeli axis.

For the past year or so, in speaking to groups, I’ve ventured to suggest that Donald Trump will ultimately rank among the least consequential presidents in U.S. history. I did not intend that to be a laugh line.

Trump, I argued, was likely to end up being to the 21st century what James Buchanan was to the 19th and Warren G. Harding to the 20th – someone who, after occupying the White House for a time, departed and left nary a trace. In the end, Trump’s defining traits – vulgarity, meanness, self-absorption, and apparently compulsive dishonesty – would count for little in the scales of history. So I believed.

Let me confess that I have now begun to entertain second thoughts. Trump’s abrogation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the so-called Iran deal, easily qualifies as the most consequential decision of his administration. For once bluster is matched by action. Trump appears intent on making his mark after all.

In reaching this decision, Trump ignored the advice – make that, pleas – of traditional U.S. allies such as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Instead, the president chose to heed the counsel of his new friends Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Viewed from this perspective, May 8, 2018 marks the inauguration of a Saudi-American-Israeli axis and a major realignment of U.S. strategic relationships.

The creation of this new partnership confirms the fact that NATO no longer constitutes the central pillar of U.S. national security policy. Dating from its creation back in 1949, the purpose of the now essentially defunct Western alliance was to contain the Soviet Union, prevent war, and nurture liberal democratic values. Today the USSR is long gone. And if the West still exists, it no longer really matters, at least in Trump’s estimation.

In contrast, the not-quite-explicit purpose of the new Saudi-American-Israeli axis is not to contain the Iranian government, or “regime” in Trump-speak, but to overthrow it. Indeed, there is ample reason to suspect that Trump and those to whom he looks for advice would actually welcome a war against Iran.

No doubt MBS fancies that such a war will elevate Saudi Arabia to a position of preeminence in the Gulf. For his part, Netanyahu probably fancies that toppling the mullahs in Tehran will enhance Israeli security. There may even be some basis for their views. One can easily imagine the two of them this very day figuratively raising a glass to their pliable pal in the White House. Here’s to you, Mr. President!

How engineering regime change in Tehran will benefit the United States is less clear. This is especially true if taking into account the results of America’s “success” in overthrowing governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya since 9/11. The facts speak for themselves: When U.S. forces oust an undesirable government in the Islamic world, the inadvertent result is to make things worse. Been there, done that, several times over.

Yet here’s the irony: As a candidate for president, Trump seemed to understand that U.S. military interventionism in the Middle East had exacted huge costs while accomplishing next to nothing. If elected, he was going to extricate the United States from endless war. Now, Trump is deep-sixing one of the few glimmers of hope that the United States might some day extricate itself from the mess that it has done so much to create. Instead, apparently egged on by the likes of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, the president has decided to continue the futile and counterproductive effort to assert hegemony in the Greater Middle East.

How will this decision effect the other signatories of the JCPOA? If the Russians and Chinese are smart, they will stick to the terms of the agreement, demonstrating the maturity and consistency that are marks of a mature power. In other words, by doing nothing, they can win big points at Washington’s expense.

How France, Germany, and the United Kingdom will react is the more interesting question. For years now, the United States has verged on going rogue – recall, for example, George W. Bush’s thumbing his nose at the world in deciding to invade Iraq in 2003. Now it has definitively done so. If the European democracies pretend that Trump’s highhandedness is nothing out of the ordinary, they will forfeit whatever last remnants of political credibility they possess.

By and large, I dislike Munich analogies. But in this instance the comparison may have some merit. In 1938, faced with a megalomaniac in charge of a fearsome military machine and surrounded by a coterie of fanatic militarists, the European democracies wilted, paving away for a great disaster. Today another megalomaniac with a fearsome military machine at his command and responding to the counsel of the latter day equivalent of Goering and Goebbels is on a tear. History will not treat European leaders kindly if they repeat the mistakes of Neville Chamberlain and Eduard Daladier. As an American, I believe that Trump needs to be confronted, not indulged.

“When I make promises, I keep them.” So Trump stated while announcing his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. Well, no, Mr. President you don’t, as your several wives and sundry business associates can attest. Your modus operandi is betrayal.

The abandonment of the JCPOA is an act of betrayal with global implications. Who will say nay?

Andrew J. Bacevich is author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.

Comment: Do we find it just a bit unsettling that the perpetrator-countries of 9/11 are uniting?

See Also:

Interview with Syrian president Assad: Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the army of the Turkish, US, and Saudi regimes – By Syrian Arab News Agency (SOTT)

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Bashar al-Assad said that France, Britain, and the US, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey are responsible for the war in Syria due to their support of the terrorism, describing the Western allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Army as a farce and a very primitive play whose only goal is to attack the Syrian Army after the defeat of terrorists.

In an interview given to the Greek Kathimerini newspaper, President al-Assad said that Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the army of the Turkish, US, and Saudi regimes, stressing that any aggressor and any army, whether Turkish, French, or whoever, they are all enemies as long as they came to Syria illegally.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. It’s a pleasure to be here in Damascus.

President Assad: You’re most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: Let me ask you first of all, you know, there’s been accusation by the US and the Europeans about the use of chemical weapons, and there was an attack after that. What is your response to that? Was there a chemical attack? Were you responsible for it?

President Assad: First of all, we don’t have any chemical arsenal since we gave it up in 2013, and the international agency for chemical weapons made investigations about this, and it’s clear or documented that we don’t have. Second, even if we have it, we wouldn’t use it, for many different reasons. But let’s put these two points aside, let’s presume that this army has chemical weapons and it’s in the middle of the war; where should it be used? At the end of the battle? They should use it somewhere in the middle, or where the terrorists made advancement, not where the army finished the battle and terrorists gave up and said “we are ready to leave the area” and the army is controlling fully that area. So, the Western narrative started after the victory of the Syrian Army, not before. When we finished the war, they said “they used chemical weapons.”

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

Second, use of mass destruction armaments in a crammed area with a population like Douma – the supposed area, it’s called Douma and they talk about 45 victims- when you use mass destruction armaments in such an area, you should have hundreds or maybe thousands of victims in one time. Third, why all the chemical weapons, the presumed or supposed chemical weapons, only kill children and women? They don’t kill militants. If you look at the videos, it’s completely fake. I mean, when you have chemical weapons, how could the doctors and nurses be safe, dealing with the chemical atmosphere without any protective clothes, without anything, just throwing water at the victims, and the victims became okay just because you washed them with water. So, it’s a farce, it’s a play, it’s a very primitive play, just to attack the Syrian army, because… Why? That’s the most important part, is that when the terrorists lost, the US, France, UK, and their other allies who want to destabilize Syria, they lost one of their main cards, and that’s why they had to attack the Syrian Army, just to raise the morale of the terrorists and to prevent the Syrian Army from liberating more areas in Syria.

Question 2: But are you saying that there was an incident of chemical attack and someone else is responsible, or that there was nothing there?

President Assad: That’s the question, because, I mean, the side who said – allegedly – that there was a chemical attack, had to prove that there was an attack. We have two scenarios: either the terrorists had chemical weapons and they used them intentionally, or maybe there was explosions or something, or there was no attack at all, because in all the investigations in Douma people say “we didn’t have any chemical attack, we didn’t see any chemical gas, or didn’t smell” and so on. So, we don’t have any indications about what happened. The Western narrative is about that, so that question should be directed to the Western officials who said there was an attack. We should ask them: where is your concrete evidence about what happened? They only talk about reports. Reports could be allegations. Videos by the White Helmets, the White Helmets are funded by the British Foreign Office, and so on.

Question 3: President Trump, in a tweet, used a very strong expression. He said “animal Assad.” You remember that? What is your response to that?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: Actually, when you are in that position, I mean president of a country, you have first of all to represent the morals of your people before representing your own morals. You are representing your country. Question: does this language represent the American culture? That is the question. This is very bad, and I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s a community in the world that has such language. Second, the good thing about Trump is that he expresses himself in a very transparent way, which is very good in that regard. Personally, I don’t care, because I deal with the situation as a politician, as a president. It doesn’t matter for me personally; what matters is whether something would affect me, would affect my country, our war, the terrorists, and the atmosphere that we are living in.

Question 4: He said that his mission was accomplished. He said “mission accomplished in Syria.” How do you feel about that?

President Assad: I think maybe the only mission accomplished was when they helped ISIS escape from Raqqa, when they helped them, and it was proven by video, and under their cover, the leaders of ISIS escaped Raqqa, going toward Deir Ezzor just to fight the Syrian Army. The other mission accomplished was when they attacked the Syrian Army at the end of 2016 in the area of Deir Ezzor when ISIS was surrounding Deir Ezzor, and the only force was the Syrian Army. I mean, the only force to defend that city from ISIS was the Syrian Army, and because of the Americans’ – and of course their allies’ – attack, Deir Ezzor was on the brink of falling in the hand of ISIS. So, this is the only mission that was accomplished. If he’s talking about destroying Syria, of course that’s another mission accomplished. While if you talk about fighting terrorism, we all know very clearly that the only mission the United States have been doing in Syria is to support the terrorists, regardless of their names, of the names of their factions.

Question 5: But, I mean, he was using such language with the North Korean leader, and now they’re going to meet. Could you potentially see yourself meeting with Trump? What would you tell him if you saw him face to face?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: The first question you should ask, whether to meet or to make contact or whatever, what can you achieve? The other question: what can we achieve with someone who says something before the campaign, and does the opposite after the campaign, who says something today, and does the opposite tomorrow, or maybe in the same day. So, it’s about consistency. Do they have the same frequency every day, or the same algorithm? So, I don’t think in the meantime we can achieve anything with such an administration. A further reason is that we don’t think the president of that regime is in control. We all believe that the deep state, the real state, is in control, or is in control of every president, and this is nothing new. It has always been in the United States, at least during the last 40 years, at least since Nixon, maybe before, but it’s becoming starker and starker, and the starkest case is Trump.

Question 6: When is your mission going to be accomplished, given the situation here in Syria now?

President Assad: I have always said, without any interference, it will take less than a year to regain stability in Syria; I don’t have any doubt about this. The other factor is how much support the terrorists receive; this is something I cannot answer, because I cannot foretell. But as long as it continues, time is not the main factor. The main factor is that someday, we’re going to end this conflict and we’re going to re-unify Syria under the control of the government. When? I cannot answer. I hope it’s going to be soon.

Question 7: Now, there was some criticism lately, because you apparently have a law that says that anybody that doesn’t claim their property within a month, they cannot come back. Is that a way to exclude some of the people who disagree with you?

President Assad: No, we cannot dispossess anyone from their property by any law, because the constitution is very clear about the ownership of any Syrian citizen. This could be about the procedure. It’s not the first time we have such a law just to re-plan the destroyed and the illegal areas, because you’re dealing with a mixture of destroyed and illegal suburbs in different parts of Syria. So, this law is not about dispossessing anyone. You cannot, I mean even if he’s a terrorist, let’s say, if you want to dispossess someone, you need a verdict by the judicial system, I mean, you cannot make it by law. So, there’s either misinterpretation of that law, or an intention, let’s say, to create a new narrative about the Syrian government in order to rekindle the fire of public opinion in the West against the Syrian government. But about the law, I mean, even if you want to make a procedure, it’s about the local administration, it’s about the elected body in different areas, to implement that law, not the government.

Question 8: Now, who are your biggest allies in this fight? Obviously, they are Russia and Iran. Are you worried that they might play too an important role in the future of the country after this war is over?

President Assad: If you talk about my allies as a president, they are the Syrian people. If you talk about Syria’s allies, of course they’re the Iranians and the Russians. They are our strongest allies, and of course China that supported us politically in the Security Council. As for them playing an important role in the future of the country, these countries respect Syria’s sovereignty and national decision making and provide support to insure them. So, it doesn’t make sense for these countries to take part in a war to help Syria defend its sovereignty, and at the same time violate or interfere with this sovereignty. Iran and Russia are the countries which respect Syria’s sovereignty the most.

Question 9: How about Turkey now? Turkey did an intrusion, an invasion of part of your country. You used to have a pretty good relationship with President Erdogan. How is that relationship now after that intrusion?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: First of all, this is an aggression, this is an occupation. Any single Turkish soldier on Syrian soil represents occupation. That doesn’t mean the Turkish people are our enemies. Only a few days ago, we had a political delegation coming from Turkey. We have to distinguish between the Turks in general and Erdogan. Erdogan is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Maybe he’s not organized, but his affiliation is toward that ideology, I call it this dark ideology. And for him, because, like the West, when the terrorists lost control of different areas, and actually they couldn’t implement the agenda of Turkey or the West or Qatar or Saudi Arabia, somebody had to interfere. This is where the West interfered through the recent attacks on Syria, and this is where Erdogan was assigned by the West, mainly the United States, to interfere, to make the situation complicated, again because without this interference, the situation would have been resolved much faster. So, it’s not about personal relations. The core issue of the Muslim Brotherhood anywhere in the world is to use Islam in order to take control of the government in your country, and to create multiple governments having this kind of relation, like a network of Muslim Brotherhoods, around the world.

Question 10: In an election campaign rally, he said that two days ago, that he’s going to do another intrusion into Syria. How are you going to respond to that if it happens?

President Assad: Actually, since the very beginning of the war, Erdogan supported the terrorists, but at that time, he could hide behind words like “protecting the Syrian people, supporting the Syrian people, supporting the refugees, we are against the killing,” and so on. He was able to appear as a humanitarian president, let’s say. Now, because of these circumstances, he has to take off the mask and show himself as the aggressor, and this is the good thing. So, there is no big difference between the Turkish head of regime Erdogan sending his troops to Syria, and supporting the terrorists; this is his proxy. So, we’ve been fighting seven years his army. The difference actually between now and then is the appearance; the core is the same. At that time, we couldn’t talk about occupation, we could talk about supporting terrorists, but this time we could talk about occupation, which is the announcement of Erdogan that he’s now violating the international law, and this could be the good part of him announcing this.

Question 11: But how can you respond to that?

President Assad: First of all, we are fighting the terrorists, and as I said, the terrorists for us are his army, they are the American army, the Saudi army. Forget about the different factions and who is going to finance those factions; at the end, they work for one agenda, and those different players obey one master: the American master. Erdogan is not implementing his own agenda; he’s only implementing the American agenda, and the same goes for the other countries in this war. So, first of all, you have to fight the terrorists. Second, when you take control of more areas, you have to fight any aggressor, any army. The Turkish, French, whoever, they are all enemies; as long as they came to Syria illegally, they are our enemies.

Question 12: Are you worried about the potential third world war starting here in Syria? I mean, you have the Israelis hitting the Iranians, you know, here in your own country. You have the Russians, you have the Americans. Are you concerned about that possibility?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: No, for one reason: because fortunately, you have a wise leadership in Russia, and they know that the agenda of the deep state in the United States is to create a conflict. Since the campaign of Trump, the main agenda was against Russia, create a conflict with Russia, humiliate Russia, undermine Russia, and so on. And we’re still in the same process under different titles or by different means. Because of the wisdom of the Russians, we can avoid this. Maybe it’s not a full-blown third world war, but it is a world war, maybe in a different way, not like the second and the first, maybe it’s not nuclear, but it’s definitely not a cold war; it’s something more than a cold war, less than a full-blown war. And I hope we don’t see any direct conflict between these super powers, because this is where things are going to be out of control for the rest of the world.

Question 13: Now, there’s a very important question about whether Syria can be a unified, fully-sovereign country again. Is that really possible after all this that has happened?

President Assad: It depends on what the criteria of being unified or not is. The main factor to have a unified country is to have unification in the minds of the people, and vice versa. When those people look at each other as foreigners, they cannot live with each other, and this is where you’re going to have division. Now, if you want to talk about facts and reality, not my opinion, I can tell you no, it’s not going to be divided, and of course we’re not going to accept that, but it’s not about my will or about my rhetoric, to say we’re going to be unified; it’s about the reality. The reality, now, if you look at Syria during the crisis, not only today, since the very beginning, you see all the different spectrums of the Syrian society living with each other, and better than before. These relationships are better than before, maybe because of the effect of the war. If you look at the areas under the control of the terrorists, this is where you can see one color of the Syrian society, which is a very, very, very narrow color. If you want to talk about division, you have to see the line, the separation line between either ethnicities or sects or religions, something you don’t see. So, in reality, there’s no division till this moment; you only have areas under the control of the terrorists. But what led to that speculation? Because the United States is doing its utmost to give that control, especially now in the eastern part of Syria, to those terrorists in order to give the impression that Syria cannot be unified again. But it’s going to be unified; I don’t have any doubt about that.

Question 14: But why would the US do this if you’re fighting the same enemy: Islamic terrorism?

President Assad: Because the US usually have an agenda and they have goals. If they cannot achieve their goals, they resort to something different, which is to create chaos. Create chaos until the whole atmosphere changes, maybe because the different parties will give up, and they will give-in to their goals, and this is where they can implement their goals again, or maybe they change their goals, but if they cannot achieve it, it’s better to weaken every party and create conflict, and this is not unique to Syria. This has been their policy for decades now in every area of this world. That’s why, if you see conflicts around the world, after the British, the Americans are responsible for every conflict between different countries everywhere on this globe.

Question 15: Do you feel you’ve made any mistakes in dealing with this crisis and the civil war, when it started, if you look back?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: If I don’t make mistakes, I’m not human; maybe on daily basis sometimes. The more you work, the more complicated the situation, the more mistakes you are likely to make. But how do you protect yourself from committing mistakes as much as possible? First of all, to consult the largest proportion of the people, not only the institutions, including the parliament, syndicates, and so on. But also the largest amount of this society, or the largest part of the society, to participate in every decision.

While if you talk about the way I behaved toward, or the way I led, let’s say, the government or the state during the war, the main pillars of the state’s policy were to fight terrorism – and I don’t think that fighting terrorism was wrong – to respond to the political initiatives from different parties externally and internally regardless of their intentions, to make a dialogue with everyone – including the militants, and finally to make reconciliation; I don’t think we can say that this was wrong. So, about the pillars of our policy, I think the reality has proven that we were right. About the details, of course, you always have mistakes.

Question 16: Now, how much is it going to cost to reconstruct this country, and who is going to pay for this?

President Assad: Hundreds of billions, the minimum is two hundred, and in some estimations it’s about four hundred billion dollars. Why it’s not precise? Because some areas are still under the control of the terrorists, so we couldn’t estimate precisely what is the number. So, this is plus or minus, let’s say.

Question 17: Now, there is a lot of speculation, people say in order for a political solution to be viable, you might have to sacrifice yourself for the good of the country, you know this, that kind of speculation. Is that something that crosses you mind?

President Assad: The main part of my future, as a politician, is two things: my will and the will of the Syrian people. Of course, the will of the Syrian people is more important than my will; my desire to be in that position or to help my country or to play a political role, because if I have that desire and will and I don’t have the public support, I can do nothing, and I will fail, and I don’t have a desire to fail. After seven years of me being in that position, if I don’t have the majority of the Syrian people’s support, how could I withstand for more than seven years now, with all this animosity by the strongest countries and by the richest countries? Who supports me? If the Syrian people are against me, how can I stay? How could I achieve anything? How could we withstand? So, when I feel that the Syrian people do not want me to stay anymore, of course I have to leave without any hesitation.

Question 18: But you know, there is a lot of blood that has, you know, taken place, and all that, so can you see yourself sitting across from the opposition and sharing, you know, power in some way?

President Assad: When you talk about blood, you have to talk about who created that blood. I was president before the war for ten years, had I been killing the Syrian people for ten years? No, definitely not. So, the conflict started because somebody, first of all part of the West, supported those terrorists, and they bear the responsibility for this war. So first of all the West, who provided military and financial support and political cover, and who stood against the Syrian people, who impoverished the Syrian people and created a better atmosphere for the terrorists to kill more Syrian people. So, part of the West – mainly France, UK, and US, and also Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Turkey are responsible for this part. It’s not enough to say there is blood; this is a very general term. Of course there is blood; it’s a war, but who’s responsible? Those who are responsible should be held accountable.

Question 19: Now, it’s been a few years since you visited Greece. Your father had a very close relation with some of the Greek political leaders. How have the relations been between Greece and Syria these days, and what kind of message would you like to send to the Greek people?

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

President Assad: At the moment, there are no formal relations between Syria and Greece; the embassies are closed, so there are no relations. At the same time, Greece wasn’t aggressive towards what happened in Syria. It always supported a political solution, it never supported war or attacks against Syria. You didn’t play any role to support the terrorists, but at the same time, as a member – and an important member – of the EU, you couldn’t play any role, let’s say, in refraining the other countries from supporting the terrorists, violating the international law by attacking and besieging a sovereign country without any reason, without any mandate by the Security Council. So, we appreciate that Greece wasn’t aggressive, but at the same time, I think Greece has to play that role, because it’s part of our region. It is part of the EU geographically, but it’s a bridge between our region and the rest of Europe, and it’s going to be affected, and it has been affected by the refugee situation, and the terrorism now has been affecting Europe for the last few years, and Greece is part of that continent. So, I think it’s normal for Greece to start to play its role in the EU in order to solve the problem in Syria and protect the international law.

Journalist: Thank you very much Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you.

Comment: See also:

See Also:

SAUDI SNAFU IN LEBANON; MORE RODENTS LEAVE TOWNS FOR LALA LAND – By ZIAD FADEL

DAMASCUS-BAYT SAHM:

“RIDE GREYHOUND AND LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US”.  That’s right folks.  Buses clad in a variety of colors, 40 to be exact, have left Bayt Sahm in the East Ghouta to take remnant rodents to either Jaraablus on the Turk border or to Idlib where they can disport with fellow vermin of every ethnicity and culture.  Like backpacking college students of the 70’s, they can now engage in cultural exchanges with Chechens, Uighers, Uzbekis, Albanians, Eskimos and Trobriand warriors.  With their caterwauling brats screeching their lungs out like the nocturnal cats of Beirut, they shall wend their way into a new world of malignancy – where homosexuals are routinely put to death because of they way they were born; where non-rodents can be swindled and shook down for the dishonest tax that’s meant to protect them; where women are handed from one rat to another in a solemn ritual of brotherliness and sexual socialism.  It’s all coming to Idlib and Jaraablus.  And so is the Syrian Army.

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HOMS: 

Al-Rastan:  The birthplace of legendary Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Mustafaa Talaas, has become the new focal point of humiliation for Ahraar Al-Shaam, inter alia, with the turnover of all heavy weapons and the departure of their thieves on government- supplied buses.  Included in the handover were 6 T-62 tanks, 3 BMB armored vehicles, 2 Shilkas, a huge number of mortars and cannons.  Al-Rastan, which is, frankly, like Jisr Al-Shughoor, a hotbed of ignorance and minoritarian bigotry, is going back to being what it has always been historically:  the city you least like to visit in Syria.  Why Al-Rastan is as welcoming as Gary, Indiana, Newark, New Jersey, Flint, Michigan or even Tizi-ouzo, Algeria.  An invitation to Al-Rastan should be treated with the same zeal as one to spend an afternoon under the boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn, the rats fighting for first dibs on your buttocks.

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LEBANON:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wearing his iconic Italian restaurant tablecloth, MBS beams for the camera while singing:  “I’m the one who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.”………He’s not smiling today.

You all read my last exclusive post which revealed 2 “top secret” memos indicating a strong Saudi preference for Sa’ad Al-Hareeri, the stillborn, oaf son of the late gazillionaire and atomized prime minister of Lebanon whose assassination sparked a fitful withdrawal of Syrian Deterrent Forces from the country.  The memos made very clear the generous support Saudi Arabia was going to unload on Hareeri to strengthen his hand in the Lebanese Parliament.  And just as you might think, whenever the Saudis apply their Lilliputian brains to anything, it was going to be a devastating fiasco!

Yeah, sure.  I know.  Geagea did okay,  In fact, better than ever with his rabid Lebanese Forces candidates.  It’s true.  But, it just ain’t enough to get him over any hump in Leb politics.  I’m afraid that Geagea will always be the proverbial “also-ran”.

Hizbollah’s victory is all the more sweet because the Saudis are gnashing their teeth over how they managed to lose their grip on Lebanon.  Financially, they were top dog.  Now, with MBS’s realignment with the Zionist Settler State, Lebanon correctly saw the twilight of Saudi involvement coming, strengthened all the more by MBS’s curious vilification of Palestinians for not returning to the nauseating, episodic dead-end of peace negotiations under the aegis of the perversely pro-Zionist United States.  What other nincompoop but Trump would send 3 rapacious, Ashkenazi Zionist zealots to strike a deal with the Palestinians over land the negotiators believe was given to Jews by some imaginary deity?

Hizbollah and its allies now have a full majority in the Parliament.  With 128 seats available, HZB and its allies control 67, giving them a “veto” vote over any legislation deemed unacceptable.  Even, dedicated, pro-Assad politicians like Jameel Al-Sayyid won a seat.  Al-Sayyid won his seat despite a 4-year stint in prison on orders from German democracy-loving judge, Detlev Mehlis, who didn’t mind having 4 Lebanese generals wallow for 48 months without charges.  They were released eventually and never indicted for anything.  German justice.

Syria, despite the tumult of a 7-year insurgency, still managed to win on this front, also, handing Saudi chimpanzees a stinging defeat at every level, on every front and in all political dimensions.  The biggest winner,is, of course, Iran.

 

 

 

 

 

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