Saudi Arabia and its allies have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades. The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences. Saudi Arabia and the other nations leading the blockade – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – launched an economic and diplomatic blockade on the energy-rich country a fortnight ago, initially claiming the Qatari royal family had licensed the funding of terrorism across the Middle East for decades. Since then, the allies appear to be pushing for the isolation of Iran and the suppression of dissenting media in the region. The list of demands, relayed to Qatar via mediators from Kuwait, represents the first time Saudi Arabia has been prepared to put the bloc’s previously amorphous grievances in writing. Their sweeping nature would, if accepted, represent an effective end to Qatar’s independent foreign policy. According to one of the points, Qatar would have to ‘align itself with other Arabs and the Gulf, militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as in financial matters’.
Qatar’s foreign minister on June 19 said his country wouldn’t bargain away what it sees as its sovereign rights and called on the Saudi alliance to conduct negotiations in a ‘civilized way,’ after first lifting the blockade. He said Qataris were united behind their emir, and called Al-Jazeera and foreign policy as internal affairs not open to negotiation. The boycotting nations demanded that Qatar stop all funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt, Bahrain, the U.S. and other countries, and hand over any individuals wanted in these countries. Qatar gas wealth enabled it to develop foreign policies that came to irritate its neighbors. It backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and armed factions opposed by the U.A.E. or Saudi Arabia in Libya and Syria. Gas also paid for Al-Jazeera, which at various times has embarrassed or angered most Middle Eastern governments. The channel has supported dissidents against Arab dictators. Over the years, it enraged Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian leaders who have often stopped its transmissions and kicked out its staff. ‘Qatar may not fully comply with the list, but it has to take these demands into consideration and finally make a move toward reviewing its foreign policy and the editorial line of the main media outlet, Al-Jazeera,’ Nader said.
If geopolitics studies how nations behave, then the nation is singularly important. Nation-states are the defining feature of the modern political era. They give people a collective identity and a pride of place… even when their borders are artificially drawn, as they were in the Middle East. Constantly in conflict with the notion of nationalism, especially in such a volatile region, are transnational issues. These are issues like religion and ethnicity that cannot be contained by a country’s borders. Arab nation-states are now failing in the Middle East, and though their failure is primarily due to their governments’ inability to create viable political economies, transnational issues – especially the competition between the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam, as well as the struggle within the Sunni Arab realm – are expediting the process. The Failure of Pan-Arabism Transnational issues have long bedeviled the countries of the modern Middle East. Major Arab states like Egypt, Syria, and Iraq began to flirt with pan-Arabism – a secular, left-leaning ideology that sought political unity of the Arab world – not long after they were founded. It threatened entrenched powers, particularly Arab monarchies like Saudi Arabia. But for an ideal that promoted unity, pan-Arabism was a notably fractured movement, with claims of leadership coming from the Baath party in Syria and Iraq to Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Whichever form it took, it advocated a kind of nationalism that defied the logic of the nation-state. Pan-Arab nationalism failed because it couldn’t replace traditional nationalism and because it advocated something that had never existed in history. But the countries that rejected it never really developed into viable political entities. Autocracies and artificial, state-sponsored secularism kept them fragile, held together mostly by the coercion of state security forces.
Part of Trump’s appeal to many of his voters was, at least ostensibly, the idea that he would employ a less hawkish/neocon foreign policy than his opponent Hillary ‘We Came, We Saw, He Died’ Clinton. While it’s still too early to decisively say that Trump will usher in yet another foreign policy disaster for these United States and the world, it’s certainly not looking good. The lobbing of tomahawk missiles into Syrian based on the fairytale that Assad launched a chemical weapons attack was the first sign that Trump is easily manipulated and impulsive. In fact, the episode bothered me so much I wrote a post detailing the dire ramifications titled, Prepare for Impact – This is the Beginning of the End for U. S. Empire. I suggest taking a read if you missed it the first time, it’s my most popular post of the year. While that was bad enough, Trump’s cozying up to the barbaric, terrorist-supporitng leaders of Saudi Arabia has been by far the most concerning aspect of his foreign policy (if you can call it that) so far. This policy has become even more dangerous now that the 30-year old princeling who is leading the Saudis’ increasingly aggressive stance in the region has been named crown prince. It appears Trump is willing to let the Saudis do whatever they want in the region, which is guaranteed to have disastrous implications for America and the Middle East. I wrote two important articles on this topic, which I have linked to below.
In spite of three attacks in three months, Britain does not seem to be choosing the path of vigilance and determination. June is not even over but the media barely talk about terrorism any more. Then, in the early hours of June 19, a man who acted alone drove a van into a crowd of Muslims leaving Finsbury Park Mosque in London: the main “threat” to the British right now was soon presented in several newspapers as “Islamophobia”. Decolonization added the idea that the Europeans had oppressed other peoples and were guilty of crimes they now had to redeem. There was no mention of how, throughout history, recruits to Islam had colonized the great Christian Byzantine Empire, Greece, Sicily, Corsica, North Africa and the Middle East, most of the Balkans and eastern Europe, Hungary, northern Cyprus and Spain. While most jihadist movements were banned by the British government, more discreet organizations have emerged and demurely sent the same message. The Islamic Forum for Europe, for example, depicts itself as “peaceful”, but many of those it invites to speak are anything but that. The Islamic Human Rights Commission uses the language of defending human rights to disseminate violent statements against the Jews and the West. London, June 5, 2017. A minute of silence is held at Potters Field Park, next to the City Hall, to pay tribute to the victims of the London Bridge jihadist attack three days before. Those who came have brought flowers, candles and signs bearing the usual words: “unity”, “peace” and “love”. Faces are sad but no trace of anger is visible. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, gives a speech emphasizing against all evidence that the killers’ ideas have nothing to do with Islam.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 26, 2017.
A couple of weeks ago we expressed some level of ‘amazement’ at just how sophisticated, efficient and pervasive the ‘Russian hacking’ community had become after CNN reported that they had managed to hack into a Qatari News Agency and post a ‘fake’ news story all in an apparent attempt to drive a wedge between the U. S., Qatar and some of it’s Gulf Arab neighbors. Think about that for a minute. Set aside, if you will, the hacking event itself for just a moment and imagine how good the Russians had to be to know exactly what news story needed to be planted inside the Qatari news agency to provoke an immediate severing of diplomatic ties by numerous Arab neighboring states…it truly is mind boggling how it all played out exactly the way the Russians planned…these ‘Russian hackers’ are certainly not a bunch of amateurs. And while that may sound like a joke, it is, quite unfortunately, not…at least it wasn’t at CNN anyway. Here are the details, as they were previously reported by CNN: The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say. Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the region. The alleged involvement of Russian hackers intensifies concerns by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Russia continues to try some of the same cyber-hacking measures on US allies that intelligence agencies believe it used to meddle in the 2016 elections. The Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 20, 2017.
Every day brings another scary headline from the Middle East – which makes it easy to treat them as background noise rather than a clear and present danger. But the latest batch is reminiscent of the Balkans circa 1914, which means it may be time to tune back in. Some examples: A US Navy jet shot down a Syrian warplane. Syria is a Russian client state, so this puts the US and Russia on opposite sides in a shooting war. Russia warned the US that it takes the destruction of its client’s military assets seriously. It suspended the hot line Washington and Moscow have used to avoid collisions in Syrian airspace and threatened to target US aircraft. Iran has begun launching missiles into Syria targeting ISIS. This is new in at least two ways: 1) Iran hasn’t used those particular missiles in decades, and 2) it was not previously active in Syria. This escalation from advising the Assad regime to actually killing people and blowing things up adds another player on Russia’s side against the US.
The political standoff in the Middle East between Qatar and other powers in the Middle East enters its third week, and the conflict shows no signs of abating. On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and also tried to close off entry to Qatar by land, sea, and air. They argued that Qatar is a major funder of terrorism. US President Donald Trump backed the move. ‘The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level, and in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior,’ Trump said on June 9. ‘I decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals, and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding — they have to end that funding — and its extremist ideology in terms of funding.’ Of course, there is much more to the spat than Qatar’s terrorism links – the tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia goes much deeper. Qatar supported the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, sparking the intense ire of the various monarchies and authoritarians in the region. Qatar has a friendly relationship with Iran, a major rival of Saudi Arabia. There is also just a plain old competition for power in the region. Needless to say, it’s complex.
Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute, Observers have surmised that the real reason for the judge’s leniency was that he feared his family might be subjected to retribution from the clan. “In their concept of masculinity, only power and force matter; if someone is humane and civil, this is considered a weakness. In clan structures, in tribal culture everywhere in the world, ethics are confined to the clan itself. Everything outside the clan is enemy territory.” – Ralph Ghadban, Lebanese-German political scientist and leading expert on Middle Eastern clans in Germany. “The state promotes organized crime with taxpayer money.” – Tom Schreiber, a member of the Berlin House of Deputies. A court in Hanover has handed suspended sentences to six members of a Kurdish clan who seriously wounded two dozen police officers during a violent rampage in Hameln. The court’s ruling was greeted with anger and derision by police who said it is yet another example of the laxity of Germany’s politically correct judicial system. The case goes back to January 2014, when a 26-year-old clan member, arrested for robbery, tried to escape from the magistrate’s office by jumping out of a seventh-floor courtroom window. The suspect was taken to the hospital, where he died. Members of his clan subsequently ransacked the hospital, as well as the court, and attacked police with rocks and other projectiles; 24 police officers and six paramedics were injured. The judge said he was lenient because the defendants witnessed the death of the 26-year-old and were traumatized. The judge also revealed that he had reached a deal with the clan, which among other effects prevented police from testifying in court.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 19, 2017.
Karl Marx famously said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. The only difference between the Afghan jihad back in the ’80s that spawned Islamic jihadists like the Taliban and al Qaeda for the first time in history and the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, 2011-onward, is that the Afghan jihad was an overt jihad: back then, the Western political establishments and their mouthpiece, the mainstream media, used to openly brag that the CIA provides all those AK-47s, RPGs and stingers to the Afghan so-called ‘freedom fighters’ to combat the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. After the 9/11 tragedy, however, the Western political establishments and corporate media have become a lot more circumspect, therefore this time around, they have waged covert jihads against the Arab-nationalist Gaddafi regime in Libya and the anti-Zionist Assad regime in Syria, in which Islamic jihadists (aka terrorists) have been sold as ‘moderate rebels’ with secular and nationalist ambitions to the Western audience. Since the regime change objective in those hapless countries went against the mainstream narrative of ostensibly fighting a war against terrorism, therefore the Western political establishments and the corporate media are now trying to muddle the reality by offering color-coded schemes to identify myriads of militant and terrorist outfits that are operating in Syria: such as the red militants of the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, which the Western powers want to eliminate; the yellow Islamic jihadists, like Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, with whom the Western powers can collaborate under desperate circumstances; and the green militants of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and a few other inconsequential outfits, which together comprise the so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition. If we were to draw parallels between the Soviet-Afghan jihad of the ’80s and the Syrian civil war of today, the Western powers used the training camps located in the Af-Pak border regions to train and arm Afghan ‘Mujahideen’ against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 18, 2017.
Very little has gone the way President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted in the Middle East since the start of the now-defunct Arab Spring. His reaction to the Qatar crisis, where he threw his lot in with Doha at the expense of endangering ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, appears to be the latest episode in this enigma. This development is also likely to force Erdogan to ease tensions with Tehran, which also backs Qatar, to avoid facing a new bout of isolation in the region. Tellingly, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Ankara literally within hours of the Qatar crisis breaking out. It is noteworthy that Erdogan was warning the Gulf states not so long ago against Iran’s regional ambitions, so we could be facing a new tack by him from one side to the other, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Many consider Erdogan’s reaction as a new example of his impulsive and erratic approach to foreign policy, and they note that this has left Ankara out of tune with the regional established order once again, facing more difficult choices. His stance has also left experts wondering about what is really driving Ankara’s foreign policy.
In less than one week, what began as a simple disagreement in politics turned into a siege that could easily develop into a war. On June 5th of last week, Saudi Arabia and four of its regional allies decided to sever diplomatic, economic, and transportation ties with Qatar and its ruler Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. However, it was May 24th which saw the initial fracture occur in this latest watermark in the long history of the inter-Gulf conflict. After two and a half years of a coercive accord achieved under what was referred to as the the ‘reconciliation’ that followed the Gulf crisis of the withdrawal of ambassadors in March 2014, the night of May 24 brought the Qatar relations from a ‘sister’ of the GCC coalition to an unprecedented stage of deadlock, triggering a dangerous new wave of instability in the Gulf region. The situation seemed like some a sort of an unannounced war on Qatar after being labeled ‘rogue’ state by Saudi Arabia. It reopened once shut windows of the past, like old statements attributed to the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, who once stated that Doha was ‘a thorn in the side of the Arabs,’ and like the threats that followed such a statement from Saudi press saying Qatar will pay the price for ‘her betrayal.’ Tensions escalated dramatically just after US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which he believed was a great success, yet the actions by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies to isolate and punish Qatar last week was the first outcome of his Administration’s new ‘policy’ in the Middle East.
The Middle East has been ablaze for many years now, but the Islamic Republic of Iran has so far largely escaped any direct harm. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has also become the victim of numerous terror attacks over the past years… but now, the whole dynamic seems to have undergone a radical shift, a shift endangering Iran, Qatar, Syria, and Yemen… with potential ripple effects also touching upon Turkey and Russia. All the while, the United States maintain a not-so hidden presence in the region that has the potential of even endangering the whole world… Setting the Scene in Tehran On Tuesday, 7 June 2017, the city of Tehran was rocked by simultaneous terror attacks: a ‘multi-prong terrorist attack has struck Iran’s capital city this morning. Gunmen and suicide bombers converged on three targets including Iran’s Parliament building and the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, killing staff and members of the public.’
The only firm opposition to the “Let’s Teach Qatar a Lesson” operation currently underway in the Middle East is coming from Turkey. Even U.S. President Donald Trump initially loudly applauded the campaign led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – though he has since taken a more conciliatory tone. The Turkish government, which had drafted a plan some time ago to send troops to Qatar to firm up a Sunni front against Iran, fast-tracked legislation needed to send troops abroad. Turkish-Arab relations are passing through erratic times. Everyone was wondering what position Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would take in the Qatari crisis. Erdogan had won the hearts and minds of the Gulf emirs and kings earlier this year by declaring the need to “prevent the Persian nationalist expansion.” Many observers thought he would take a pragmatic approach to avoid losing favor with many other countries just to please Qatar. Erdogan’s widely publicized but futile telephone diplomacy to solve the crisis was interpreted as a desperate attempt to avoid having to choose between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies. But at the end of the day, Ankara decided to interpret the actions against Qatar as if they had been taken against Turkey. Erdogan said there are other motives behind what is being done to Qatar, but he wasn’t specific. It didn’t take Ankara long to reach the conclusion that, after Qatar, Turkey is the likely next target. After all, just like Qatar, Turkey had become a staunch guardian of the Muslim Brotherhood and was in full harmony with Qatar in the proxy war raging in Syria. All the reasons cited by the Saudi king and the U.S. president to declare Qatar a “supporter of terror” could easily be applied to Turkey. Full support of the sanctions against Qatar from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who had toppled the Muslim Brotherhood in his country, no doubt played a key role in Erdogan’s lining up with Qatar.
The quarrel between Saudi Arabia and Qatar which began on 5th June is taking unexpected twists and turns. Events are moving so fast that it is becoming difficult to foresee what will happen next week, let alone next month. Even so, some equations in the Gulf and the wider Middle East appear to have changed and need to be noted. But first, a brief recapitulation of the events since 5th June. On that day, Saudi Arabia announced that it was breaking diplomatic relations with Qatar because of the latter’s support to terrorist groups and her growing closeness to Iran. Saudi Arabia also takes a dim view of Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas; the activities of the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera; and Qatar’s position as the largest exporter of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) in the world. The Saudis closed their sea, air, and land borders to Qatar, and gave Qatari nationals in the Kingdom two weeks to leave the country. They also called on Saudi nationals to leave Qatar within two weeks. The Saudi action was quickly followed by the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and Yemen, which announced similar measures against Qatar, on the same grounds. These developments took place within weeks of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh during which he, along with the Saudis, tried to mobilise Arab and Islamic countries against Iran, describing it as the ‘leading state sponsor of terrorism.’
In what commentators have dubbed a “clear escalation”, moments ago Arab states including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, have released a list that designates 59 individuals and 12 entities in Qatar as terrorist. The complete list of those named includes Qataris, Jordanians, Egyptians, Kuwaitis, Libyans. The four countries released the names in ‘light of their commitment to fighting terrorism, drying up their sources of funding, combating extremist ideology and its dissemination and working together to eradicate it and immunize communities,’ according to a statement made available to Al Arabiya. ‘As a result of the continued violation by the authorities in Doha of the obligations and agreements signed by them, including the pledge not to support or harbor elements or organizations that threaten the security of states and to ignore the repeated contacts that they called upon to fulfill what they had signed in the Riyadh Agreement of 2013, its implementing mechanism and the supplementary agreement in 2014; The four States have agreed to classify 59 individuals and 12 entities on their prohibited lists of terrorists, which will be updated in succession and announced,’ the statement added. Which is ironic because as some have point out, we now live in a world in which terrorist are ratting out other terrorists, and all because of Trump’s recent trip to the middle east.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 8, 2017.
The biggest Middle East oil and container ports banned all vessels sailing to and from Qatar from using their facilities amid a diplomatic crisis gripping the world’s main energy-exporting region. Saudi Arabian and Bahraini authorities closed off all of their ports to Qatari-flagged vessels or ships traveling to or coming from the Persian Gulf state, according to a notice posted on the website of Inchcape Shipping Services Tuesday. Container and oil terminals in the United Arab Emirates also closed off traffic to any ships touching Qatar, according to separate statements from three port operators. The three Persian Gulf countries and Egypt severed ties with Qatar Monday citing its support for regional rival Iran and for extremist groups. The dispute pits two of OPEC’s largest oil producers — Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. — against the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas and further disrupts stability in the region. The shipping restrictions risk hurting shipments of oil and refined products from the world’s biggest energy exporting region. Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast is home to the port of Ras Tanura, which state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. says is the biggest crude terminal in the world. Jebel Ali port, the region’s biggest container terminal, will be restricted from Tuesday until further notice, its operator Dubai’s DP World Ltd. said in an emailed statement. In the U.A.E., DP World operates Jebel Ali along with Dubai’s Mina Rashid and Mina Al Hamriya ports, according to its website. Government-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. closed its crude and refined-product ports to any vessels to or from Qatar, according to a notice obtained by Bloomberg News. The port at Fujairah, a main oil transit and refined product hub, said Monday it was closed to Qatar-linked traffic.
The following video was published by X22Report on Jun 7, 2017 Comey statement to the Senate reveals absolutely nothing, Comey skirt around the issue and reveals that Trump never told him to stop investigating. Trump is looking for options to pull out of Afghanistan while the deep state is forcing him to bring in more troops. South Korea will not accept anymore THAAD systems and might be returning the systems they have. Trumps plan is working perfectly with dismantling the middle east. The big rotation has begun. Syria and Russia have the upper hand and the deep state is pushing their agenda to keep or to get it all started.