One week after we reported that the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard (which two weeks ago was designated by the US as a terrorist organization), Qassem Soleimani, was observed in Erbil last Sunday where he met with Kurdistan regional president Barzani to “discuss” the growing crisis – the latest indication of Iran’s surging influence in the region – and just days before Iraq sent in troops assisted by Iranian militia into Iraq’s Kurdish region, which promptly regained control over the oil-rich Kirkuk region, on Sunday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Iranian “militias” need to leave Iraq as the fight against Islamic State militants was coming to an end. ‘Certainly Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fighting against (the Islamic State group) is coming to a close, those militias need to go home,’ Tillerson said during a press conference in Riyadh, where the U. S. diplomat is holding talks with top Gulf officials. “All foreign fighters need to go home,’ he added hopefully, quoted by NRT. Tillerson’s Gulf visit came as part of concerted efforts to curb Iran’s rapidly expanding influence in the region, including boosting the clout of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia in Shiite-majority Iraq, where Iran backs Shia militias fighting in the north – part of a wider regional battle for influence that extends from Syria to Yemen – even as there was scant hope of a breakthrough in attempts to reconcile Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 22, 2017.
Submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media The project to divide Iraq was dealt a deathblow by a decision of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi to send the Army and the security forces to recover all Iraqi territories controlled by the Kurds of Massoud Barzani. The Kurdish leader was riding the horse of Iraqi partition (in fact, a lame horse) to establish a Kurdish state in the northern part of the country. Following the failure of Barzani’s project in taking advantage of the fight against ISIS and therefore declaring his ‘state’, every country in the Middle East is abandoning him because no one likes to be associated with failure. Barzani sent envoys (I personally met some) around the globe who returned with apparently promising results: ‘over 80 countries promised to recognise the new State of Kurdistan’. These promises turned out to be false (‘no friends but the mountains’), other (existing) political alliances turned out to be stronger and Barzani was left alone with his empty promises and unreliable advisers. Countries of the region – France, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to start with – are now establishing a clear and unambiguous relationship with Baghdad’s government. Abadi, following an authorization of parliament, used a fist of iron to fragment the partition project – not only of Iraq – but of the entire region, that was supposed to be sparked off by the Kurds in Iraq and in Syria and via the regime change attempt in the Levant. In less than 48 hours, the Iraqi army, with all its security services (army, popular mobilization units, Counter-Terrorism, Federal Police), extended its control over Kirkuk, Khanaqin (Diyala), Bashiqa, Makhmour (Nineveh) and Sinjar – the city that leads to the borders with Syria. All territories that were established for Baghdad’s control under the US administrator Paul Bremer in 2003-2004 (with the limits of Kurdistan) are back now in place.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.
According to local sources in the Middle East, financial difficulties in Saudi Arabia may see a cash injection coming for its oil industry – Aramco. The Saudis are considering a private placement of its shares instead of a traditional float of shares on the stock exchange. The buyer is of course China.
Authored by M. K. Bhadrakumr viaThe Strategic Culture Foundation, The mishap at the Moscow airport on Wednesday when the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived on a historic visit, was a wake-up call that even the most carefully choregraphed enterprises may hold unpleasant surprises. When Salman exited his plane and stepped out onto the special escalator he travels with, something went wrong. It malfunctioned halfway down, leaving the king standing awkwardly for about 20 seconds before he decided to walk the rest of the way. For ordinary mortals, this wouldn’t have been an uncommon occurrence but divinity ordains when a king is involved. The Russian-Saudi entente is not going to be smooth. The climactic event last week drawing Saudi Arabia into President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East sphere of influence, must be assessed with a sense of proportions. Salman had hardly departed from Russian soil when the Pentagon issued a statement announcing that the State Department had on Friday approved a possible US$15-billion sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to Saudi Arabia. The statement recalled that Saudi Arabia had requested to purchase from America 44 THAAD launchers, 360 missiles, 16 fire control stations and seven radars. The US officials confirmed that the sale was part of the $110-billion package of defense equipment and services initially announced during US President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May. The Pentagon statement said, ‘This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia’s capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 11, 2017.
The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically. The impact of the Arab Spring, the retraction of the U. S. military, and diminishing economic influence on the Arab world – as displayed during the Obama Administration – are facts. The emergence of a Russian-Iranian-Turkish triangle is the new reality. The Western hegemony in the MENA region has ended, and not in a shy way, but with a long list of military conflicts and destabilization. *** The first visit of a Saudi king to Russia shows the growing power of Russia in the Middle East. It also shows that not only Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also Egypt and Libya, are more likely to consider Moscow as a strategic ally. King Salman’s visit to Moscow could herald not only several multibillion business deals, but could be the first real step towards a new regional geopolitical and military alliance between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 8, 2017.
John Pilger Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft. It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics. Addressing the Labour conference, the campaigner Naomi Klein described the rise of Corbyn as ‘part of a global phenomenon. We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries, powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future.’ In fact, at the end of the US primary elections last year, Sanders led his followers into the arms of Hillary Clinton, a liberal warmonger from a long tradition in the Democratic Party.
Even in this era of global paradigmatic changes, Saudi Arabia’s shifting grand strategy is perhaps one of the most surprising developments to occur thus far, but the fast-moving Russian-Saudi rapprochement is likely to provoke an Iranian ‘zero-sum’ reaction which could complicate Moscow’s multipolar efforts in managing the ‘New Middle East’. *** Most observers were taken aback by what to many seemed to be the inexplicable visit of Saudi King Salman to Moscow this week, wondering how and why the two long-standing Great Power rivals were able to get so close to one another in such a short period of time – and apparently without much public fanfare, too – in making this historic event possible. The usual Alt-Media demagogues decried this as a sellout of Russia’s fundamental national interests, with the most extreme pundit-provocateurs even ranting that it amounts to President Putin siding with ‘terrorists’ such as Daesh and Al Qaeda, especially in light of Moscow’s decision to sell the much-vaunted S-400 anti-air missile systems to Riyadh and even set up a Kalashnikov production plant in the Kingdom. Had the Saudi Arabia of 2017 been the same country as it was half a decade ago, or even last year for that matter as some could argue, then there might be some rhetorical substance to this outlandish claim no matter how false it would still be, but what most people don’t realize is that Saudi Arabia is in the process of comprehensive changes to its foreign and domestic policies, and that there’s a very high likelihood that it will moderate its traditional behavior in becoming a more responsible actor in international (and especially regional) affairs. A lot of this has happened away from the public eye, at least in the sense that the developments weren’t ‘sexy’ enough to draw widespread attention from most media outlets and commentators, but these piecemeal changes have altogether contributed to the formation of what looks to be a totally new grand strategy.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 6, 2017.
Two days ago, when we previewed the first ever visit by a Saudi King to the Russian capital – a move which prompted Bloomberg to call Russian president Putin the “new master of the Middle East” – we pointed out that according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, a joint Russian-Saudi fund to invest in the energy sector will be announced during the forthcoming visit of the Saudi King to Moscow, and that the preliminary agreement to establish the $1 billion fund has already been reached. Fast forward to today when diplomatic history was made on Thursday, when Putin met with the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – the first state visit to Russia by a reigning Saudi monarch – and the launch of a new level of relations between the countries, as well as billions in new energy-focused deals (for more on the strategic implications from the summit, please read this).
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 5, 2017.
Via TheAntiMedia.org, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Education has been given the boot for allowing the image of a pop culture icon to be published in his country’s high school curriculum. From the Associated Press on Monday: ‘A senior Education Ministry official in Saudi Arabia has been fired after high school students opened their textbooks to find an image of Yoda from the ‘Star Wars’ films seated next to a Saudi king. ‘The image produced by Saudi artist Abdullah Al Shehri, known as Shaweesh, shows the late King Faisal, who was foreign minister at the time, signing the United Nations Charter in 1945 with the diminutive green Jedi master seated to his right.’ Shaweesh, who spoke to the New York Times after posts about the gaffe began popping up on social media last week, says he meant no disrespect to King Faisal and that, in fact, he selected the legendary Jedi to join the late king in the piece because of the positive attributes of both figures. ‘He was wise and was always strong in his speeches,’ Shaweesh said of Faisal.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 29, 2017.
Camille Otrakji Creative Syria – 2015 [Editor’s note: this article was written in 2015] ‘America and France should broaden their outreach to Syrian dissidents, human rights groups, artists, professors – indeed, almost anyone who’s willing to talk with outsiders. They should convey the message that the West is standing with the Syrian people as they move into the future. When Syria is truly ripe for change, these helping hands can ensure a safe passage.’ ~ David Ignatius, a 2005 article titled ‘Careful with Syria’ The ‘America and France’ that Mr. Ignatius called on to motivate Syrians to rebel against their government was actually a group of westerners residing in Damascus: Diplomats, NGO management and staff, resident journalists and professional photographers, students studying Arabic in Damascus. Not all of course, but many. There are three different headings under which countries in the Middle East are classified as far as the United States is concerned; Most valuable allies; Israel and Saudi Arabia Well-behaved allies; Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt (and many more) Pressure/destabilization targets; Syria, and Iran. If Syria’s authoritarian leadership (‘regime’) had an inherent propensity to distrust the intentions of resident foreigners eager to befriend Syrians, their extensive experience with the consequences of such contacts turned their caution into paranoia. They would question or detain anyone who travels to attend private meetings, workshops or conferences without prior arrangements with the Syrian security services. Syrians who frequently visited foreign embassies in Damascus (4thof July events, dinners at Ambassador’s house …etc.) were never trusted again.
According to Bernie Sanders, Saudi Arabia has ‘funded terrorism’ around the world and is ‘not an ally of the United States.’ The United States has long considered Saudi Arabia to be a loyal friend, supporter, and partner in the so-called war on terror. Sanders issued a scathing denunciation of the Gulf kingdom, which has recently embarked on a new round of domestic repression.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 22, 2017.
One of the items that is regularly reported on, but quietly…not alarming anyone…is the situation developing in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. At the forefront is Ukraine, as the U. S.-orchestrated coup of 2014 and the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia created a line to develop into a Second Cold War. This is the root of the current tensions where both Russia and the U. S. are continuously posturing against one another. The root of the matter lies in the undue influence that was secured by Georgy Schwarz (also known as George Soros) with the purchase of John McCain. An article just surfaced on September 13, 2017 entitled Power Games: What McCain, Soros, and the Clintons Have in Common, by Ekaterina Blinova of Sputnik News. The article gives a brief history of ‘The McCain Institute for International Leadership,’ a non-profit organization profiting on the campus of Arizona State University. This non-profit organization has received ‘minor’ donations, such as $1 million from the Saudi Arabian government in 2014. Financial ties between McCain and Soros have been exposed in the past, and that the two have had a nebulous relationship since 2001. Interestingly enough, it was McCain who was the leading proponent behind the regime change in Ukraine. Assisted by Victoria Nuland with Obama and Hillary Clinton acting the part of ‘Zardoz’ floating invisibly in the background, supplying the authority, and with Sen. Lindsey Graham as a lapdog-collaborator, it was McCain who orchestrated the coup above-board.
This post was published at shtfplan on September 17th, 2017.
The article should be entitled: The Rakine State refugee crisis or the Burmese/Bengali refugee crisis. But readers will be more familiar with headings such as Rohingya refugee crisis or Rohingya genocide. Why is that? On the 25th of August a Saudi-backed terrorist group Arakanese Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA formerly Harakah Al Rakin) attacked thirty police stations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, murdering 12 security forces and two civilians . The Burmese government responded with a full-scale military counter-insurgency operation. 59 insurgents were killed. Burmese authorities leaked information which proves that ARSA leader Ullah Ata had planned the attack with help from outside agents in Pakistani intelligence and ISIS terrorists in Iraq. Supporters of ARSA and the Rohingya cause accuse the Burmese military (Tatmadaw) of burning down Rohingya(Eastern Bengali) villages. The Tatmadaw say the villages have been burned by the terrorists, embedded among the illegal Bengali immigrant communities. Thousands of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus have fled the violence. Many Buddhist eye witnesses and victims have described massacres committed by Bengali terrorists to local journalists in Myanmar. The stories have not made international headlines. Human rights agencies financed by the US State-Department and Saudi Arabia, such as Human Rights Watch have blamed all of the violence on the Tatmadaw.
We knew it was coming. An Arab League showdown on Tuesday turned into a shouting match involving allies turned bitter enemies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. *** Currently Qatar is being boycotted by four other Arab states and the once strong Gulf Cooperation Council alliance (GCC) is in shambles. Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi immediately raised the boycott in his opening remarks though the dispute was supposed to be carefully avoided and wasn’t on the agenda. He called Qatar’s gulf enemies, especially Saudi Arabia, ‘rabid dogs’. ‘Even the animals were not spared, you sent them out savagely,’ Muraikhi said, referring to the fact that camels of Qatari farmers in Saudi Arabia were left to roam and die in the open desert along the border area between the two countries. The Emirati foreign minister countered, “Fifty-nine terrorists are residing and settled in Qatar or have ties to Qatar. A large number of them are named as terrorists by the Americans and another group are labelled terrorists by the European Union and a third group are labelled as terrorists by the United Nations. And yet another group are on the terror list of Arab countries.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 14, 2017.
I suggest we remember 9/11 by never forgetting how frequently and pathologically our government lies to us. — Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) September 10, 2017
Unless we come to terms with 9/11 and the obvious fact that the official government story is a ridiculous fairytale, it’ll be hard for our nation to move forward in an intelligent, courageous and ethical manner. Many of the most destructive trends which have defined our post September 11, 2001 environment, such as a loss of civill liberties and endless barbaric wars of aggression abroad, have been directly related to our false understanding of that awful terrorist attack. As I’ve always maintained, I have no idea what really went down on that day, I just know that the U. S. government and its intelligence agencies are not being honest. Although it’s been a long time coming, we’re finally uncovering some kernels of truth about the attack and the role Saudi Arabia played in carrying them out. Much of this progress has been driven by family members of those who died, some of whom are suing the Saudis for their role in that despicable slaughter of civilians. I’ve written about these lawsuits on several occasions, but here’s an updated summary from Common Dreams, published two days ago: As our summer draws to a close and ushers in a cool and rainy September, there is a solemn chill in the air marking the approaching anniversary of the infamous attacks on the World Trade Center that took place September 11th, 2001 – nearly sixteen years ago. The memories are still fresh for the survivors and the family members of victims who are to this day living with their losses while continuing to fight for accountability through both the military court in Guantanamo, where individuals involved in the attacks have been tried or are still facing painstakingly slow trials. This upcoming sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 will be the first time since the attacks that the families now have another legal recourse for seeking accountability not only from individuals but from a nation involved in the attack: Saudi Arabia.
Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Despite differences over Syria and the Iranian nuclear deal, current Russia-Saudi Arabia relations are arguably at an apex, both in terms of shared interests and mutual understanding. It has just been announced that King of Saudi Arabia Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will visit Russia in late October. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on September 5 that the exact date will be announced later. Only some details are left to be discussed. The visit has been anticipated for a long time. This will be the first time a Saudi king visits Russia. The event is very symbolic against the background of burgeoning rapprochement between the two countries. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to visit the Kingdom in a few days. The Saudi Vision 2030 long term development program has been launched to move the Kingdom from oil profits and dependency on the United States to diversified modern economy and strong military potential, allowing it to implement independent foreign policy. The main goal is to lay down the basis of its independence from natural resources. Saudi Arabia is intensifying its diplomatic efforts. Russia is a partner in the Kingdom’s far-reaching ambitious plans. The potential of bilateral relations development is extraordinary.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 7, 2017.
A months-long investigation which tracked and exposed a massive covert weapons shipment network to terror groups in Syria via diplomatic flights originating in the Caucuses and Eastern Europe under the watch of the CIA and other intelligence agencies has resulted in the interrogation and firing of the Bulgarian journalist who first broke the story. This comes as the original report is finally breaking into mainstream international coverage. Investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva authored a bombshell report for Trud Newspaper, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, which found that an Azerbaijan state airline company was regularly transporting tons of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey under diplomatic cover as part of the CIA covert program to supply anti-Assad fighters in Syria. Those weapons, Gaytandzhieva found, ended up in the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and Syria. While it’s long been understood that the US-Gulf-NATO coalition arming rebels inside Syria facilitated the rapid rise of the Islamic State as the group had steady access to a “jihadi Wal-Mart” of weapons (in the words of one former spy and British diplomat), the Trud Newspaper report is the first to provide exhaustive documentation detailing the precise logistical chain of the weapons as they flowed from their country of origin to the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. Gaytandzhieva even traveled to Aleppo where she filmed and examined labeled weapons shipping containers held in underground jihadist storehouses.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 28, 2017.