Aletho News


Mofaz proposes role for Saudi Arabia and UAE to disarm Gaza

Arabi21 | July 20, 2014

As Israel continues to prosecute its criminal war against the people of the Gaza Strip, its leaders in Tel Aviv are counting more and more on the Arab regimes to confront the Palestinian resistance and reduce its effectiveness. Former Defence Minister and Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, General Shaul Mofaz, has called for a role to be “allocated” for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to disarm Hamas and other resistance groups.

Speaking on Israel’s Channel 10, Mofaz explained that it would be impossible for its army to demilitarise the Strip by force even if it were to re-occupy it completely. As such, he claimed, the matter requires a comprehensive diplomatic, political and economic plan for such an objective to be achieved.

He pointed out that there is an urgent need to convince the people of Gaza of the necessity to collaborate in implementing such a plan. This would require offering the carrot, represented by a generous financial reward, to convince them to cooperate with any international or regional effort that could contribute to achieving this goal. He noted that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE could, in the present circumstance, play an important role in providing the finances for this reward.

Meanwhile, a prominent Israeli military commentator has called for an official investigation into the political, military and intelligence failures of Israel’s war on the coastal territory. This follows growing indications that the Zionist state is not achieving its objectives.

In an article in Maariv newspaper on Saturday, Ran Edelist said that there is cause to suspect that the assessment of the internal security intelligence agency, Shin Bet, on the basis of which the Netanyahu government took the decision to go to war in Gaza, might have been influenced by the ideological motives of its leaders. Edelist pointed out that Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen belongs to the religious Zionist movement, and his deputy, who is referred to as “R”, is a settler known for his ideological extremism. They produced the recommendations for the government regarding Hamas from an extremist viewpoint rather than from an objective professional position, he claimed. Edelist accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of ordering the campaign against Gaza in the hope of improving his political status and reducing opposition to him within his own Likud Party. There are growing calls for his resignation.

According to Audi Siegel, the political affairs commentator on Channel 2 TV, the only solution for the Gaza predicament is for Israel to recognise Gaza as an independent entity and deal with all the consequences. Also writing in Maariv, Siegel said that it has become evident that Israel’s ability to control the resistance in Gaza and destroy the Hamas movement is zero. He noted that all the assumptions upon which Israel made the decision to launch a war on Gaza have collapsed.

Siegel said that recognising the Hamas government in Gaza might improve the security environment for Israel. If not, he added, it would possible to garner international support to justify any military step Israel might then take against the territory.

July 20, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Egyptian comedian cancels TV show citing ‘pressures’


MEMO | June 3, 2014

Egyptian comedian and TV satirist Bassem Youssef said Monday his show has been cancelled, citing pressures faced by the Saudi-owned MBC group to suspend his show.

According to producers of the show, as quoted by Reuters, the latest episode poked fun at the latest presidential elections, particularly the staggeringly low turnout and the resulting pro-Al-Sisi media panic.

MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek said that his group “had no hand” in the decision to suspend the show, saying the channel “did its best” to keep the show on air.

He refused to respond to questions regarding Saudi government pressures to cancel the show.

The Saudi government is one of the main backers of the former army chief Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who led the July 3 military coup against elected President Mohamed Morsi. Al-Sisi won a controversial presidential election last week in what has been internationally denounced as an illegitimate and unfair process.

June 3, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

How the Iran Nuclear Deal May Impact Iran’s Approach in OPEC

Going to Tehran | May 19th, 2014

Introduction by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett

Ongoing nuclear diplomacy between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 has both Iranian and non-Iranian players in the international oil market focused on the prospects for Iran’s re-emergence as a major oil producer and exporter.

For most market players, the ideal scenario is one in which conclusion of a comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 leads to a lifting of all sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

–Of course, even if a deal is reached, its implementation—especially in terms of sanctions relief—could be messier and more protracted than this ideal scenario would posit.

–And, as we’ve argued previously, if negotiations fail to produce a final nuclear agreement, Tehran calculates that Iranian willingness to conclude what the rest of the world besides America, Britain, France, and Israel would consider a reasonable deal will make it easier for other countries to rebuild and expand economic ties to the Islamic Republic—and make those countries less willing to continue accommodating U.S. demands for compliance with its (grossly illegal) secondary sanctions.

In any event, it seems likely that Iran will be putting more of its oil onto international markets.  Against this backdrop, we are pleased to publish below a piece by Erfan Ghassempour, “The Geneva Nuclear Deal and Its Effect on Iran’s Approach in OPEC.”  Erfan is a young Iranian lawyer who studied at Tabriz University and is now finishing his masters in international law at Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran.  He works for Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation and also writes as an independent energy analyst.  We are pleased to welcome him as an Going to Tehran contributor.

How the Iran Nuclear Deal May Impact Iran’s Approach in OPEC

by Erfan Ghassempour

Iran is thinking seriously about how to put its crude oil back on the market, and—following the November 2013 Geneva interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program—is planning for a future when sanctions no longer hamper its oil industry.  The country is changing its contracts for the exploration, development, and production of its oil and gas resources to tempt major international oil companies to return to its petroleum sector.  Iran’s Petroleum Minister, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, has expressly invited seven oil giants to invest in Iran after sanctions are lifted.

Iranian ambitions are also reflected in Tehran’s approach to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).  At the most recent OPEC meeting, held in December 2013—in the wake of the Geneva nuclear deal—Zanganeh made a powerful impression, warning other members to make room for Iranian crude.  One way or another, he declared, Iran plans to increase its oil output to four million barrels per day (bpd), even if prices decrease to twenty dollars per barrel.  (Some analysts think that the highest output Iran could achieve in the near-to-medium term after the lifting of sanctions would be 3-3.5 million bpd—but even that would mean a significant increase in Iranian oil exports, which, according to Zanganeh, are now at 1.5 million bpd.)

Iran’s reemergence on the international oil scene comes at a time when developments in other OPEC member states are increasing the likelihood of an appreciable rise in Middle Eastern oil production—e.g., Iraq’s security is improving, and strikes and rebel attacks seem to be ebbing in Libya.  Zanganeh argues that, even in this context, Iran’s return to the oil market should have no negative impact on prices.  As he told the OPEC Bulletin, over the years other OPEC members had “gone out of the market” for some time, “but when they returned to the market, OPEC knew how to deal with the situation—to create room to maintain the extra capacity, so that these countries can have a good return and for it not to have a bad impact on prices.”

At least on the surface, other OPEC players responded positively to Zanganeh’s message.  OPEC’s secretary general, Abdalla el-Badri, welcomed Iran’s return to the market, denying any concern at this prospect.  Even Iran’s biggest political and oil rival, in the region, Saudi Arabia (the biggest oil producer in OPEC), welcomed an increase in Iranian production.  Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister, Ali Naimi, told reporters that he did not see a price war on the horizon:  “They are welcome, everyone is welcome to put in the market what they can; the market is big and has many variables—when one comes in, another comes out.”  Mr. Naimi also stated, “I hope Iran comes back [and] produces all it can.”

Iran is also stepping up its cooperation with Iraq on oil issues.  At the December 2013 OPEC meeting, Iraq vigorously defended Iran’s plans to raise oil production, while also making clear that Iraq would remain outside OPEC’s quota system and that other members should decrease their production, if necessary, to make room for both Iran and Iraq.  (Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, Hussein al-Shahristani, has announced that his country intends to increase its oil output to nine million bpd by 2020, partly through cooperation with Iran.)  Recently, Iraq has been helping Iran to develop new contracts to attract more foreign investment to its oil sector.  Baghdad and Tehran have also established a committee to oversee the joint exploitation of fields lying astride the Iranian-Iraqi border.  Some analysts think that the two countries are drawing closer to maximize their relative power and influence—on oil-related issues as well as on strategic and political matters—vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia.

As the six-month deadline for the Geneva interim deal approaches, Iran’s determination to produce more crude becomes stronger.  If a permanent nuclear deal is reached at the end of six months (that is, on or around July 20), it would mean that sanctions will be lifted and Iran will renew its upstream and downstream activities.

So far, the interim deal has been well implemented.  The International Atomic Energy Agency affirms that Iran is fulfilling its commitments; the West has returned some of the Iranian funds that have been frozen in Western banks and has eased some sanctions.  None of the parties has been motivated to breach the interim agreement.  On the Iranian side, the political and economic atmosphere in Iran suggests that Iranian officials are willing to continue this approach; Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has publicly expressed his support for the ongoing nuclear negotiations.  On the American side, while some political factions in the United States want President Obama to increase pressure on Iran, this seems more a matter of political posturing than serious action.  At this point, there is little appetite in the United States for torpedoing nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

Iran knows that any improvement in its oil industry is dependent on the nuclear talks.  As the negotiations progress, Iranian officials are playing a bolder role in the region and in international organizations to which Iran belongs.  At the next OPEC meeting in June, Zanganeh is likely to take an even tougher approach than at the previous meeting in December.  It seems that other OPEC states are progressively accepting the inevitability of Iran’s return to the international oil scene.

There are two ways in which OPEC can handle prospective increases in Iranian, Iraqi, and Libyan output:  other members—especially Saudi Arabia—can decrease production to make room for increased production by others, or the organization can raise its current 30 million bpd production ceiling.  Politically as well as economically, much will hinge on what OPEC decides.

May 20, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Can the United States Come to Terms with an Independent, Technologically Sophisticated, and Truly Sovereign Iran?

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Going to Tehran | May 16, 2014

As negotiations on a final nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 proceed, CCTV’s news talk program, The Heat, invited Hillary earlier this week to offer her perspective on the requirements for successful negotiations, click on the video above or see here.  The program also included interview segments with Seyed Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran and with former Iranian diplomat and nuclear negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian.  All three segments are worth watching.  We want to highlight here some of Hillary’s more important points.

Hillary notes that, while the chances for diplomatic breakthrough between Washington and Tehran are “the best they have been for at least a decade,” gaps between the United States and Iran remain “wide” on key issues.  Most importantly, “at this point, the United States doesn’t want Iran to have an industrial-scale nuclear program.

In Hillary’s view, the “big picture” strategic challenge for the United States in pursuing a diplomatic opening with Iran is recognizing that the Islamic Republic “has sovereign rights, treaty rights, and can be treated like a normal state.”  In the context of the nuclear talks, more specifically, the question is whether the United States “can countenance a country that will be strong, independent, and a real nuclear power—not a weapons power, but a real nuclear power.”

On this point, Seyed Mohammad Marandi says that, from an Iranian perspective, “the crux of the problem is the very notion that Western powers are in a position or they have the authority to determine what Iran is allowed to have and is not allowed to have.  Iran is not going to accept anything less than its full rights within the framework of international law.”

Hillary describes how, to a considerable degree, Washington has been compelled to drop thirty-five years of rejecting the Islamic Republic’s very legitimacy and to consider cutting some sort of deal with it because of the erosion of U.S. military options vis-à-vis Iran and the strategic failure of American sanctions policy.

–With regard to military options, Hillary observes that “one of the things that has made these negotiations possible in a constructive manner is that, from August 2013, when President Obama declared that the United States would attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there, and then had to walk it back and say, “No, actually I can’t do that, Congress isn’t going to support me, no one around the world is going to support me’—with that, the United States’ ability to credibly threaten the effective use of force greatly diminished.  So now you don’t hear President Obama say nearly as much, ‘all options are on the table’—not because the United States doesn’t want to have that [option], but because we don’t have it.  We lost it over Syria, and over some of the other failed military interventions over the last decade.”

–While “the idea that sanctions have so crippled the Iranians, and especially the Iranian leadership, that they have come crawling to the table” is popular in American political discourse, this is a false assessment, “put out there to justify a policy that we have put in place for thirty-five years that has not brought down the Islamic Republic, has not overthrown its government, and has not weakened it.  We’ve seen Iranian power rise and rise.  And I think in some ways the Iranians are letting us have a bit of that narrative, to justify how sanctions have, in a way, let the United States come to the table…It’s a bit the reverse of what the American rhetoric is here, from Washington—it’s not so much that sanctions brought the Iranians to the table; they really brought the Americans to the table.”

Hillary explains that, because of these difficulties, the Obama administration has, over the last two years, determined that the United States might be able to “accept” the Islamic Republic—but “only if it can become part of a pro-American, U.S.-led security and political order in the Middle East.”  To join such an order,  “states in the region have to give up some elements of sovereign rights—to have a big, functioning military; to have full industrialization—and to have policies that support the United States.  So I think what the U.S. team is really trying to test is whether the Islamic Republic of Iran can join this pro-American political and security order”—and, to show that the Islamic Republic could do this, whether Iran “would limit [its] ability to have a civilian nuclear program, according to American wishes.”

Hillary elaborates that, in broader perspective,

“The nuclear deal is almost like, when Nixon and Kissinger first went to China and the relationship opened, we had the Shanghai Communique.  At the end of the day, it was just a piece of paper; it means nothing in the broader scheme of what has become a huge relationship between the United States and China.  The nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran would essentially serve that function; it would be the equivalent of the Shanghai Communique, to allow for this opening of a relationship between Iran and the United States.

Now the big difference is that the United States wants this relationship on terms that would shore up a pro-American political and security order throughout the region, throughout the Middle East.  What Iran wants in that relationship is to maintain its independence, maintain its sovereignty, and to continue to have this ability to rise as an important power.  Now it may be possible for those two goals to be met, but it’s going to be extremely difficult.”

This difference in fundamental goals is also manifested in U.S.-Iranian disagreements over sanctions, with the Iranians seeking to end sanctions while the Americans talk about suspending them, with specific triggers for re-imposing them.  Hillary explains that the U.S. position grows out of Washington’s greater goal,

“which is to bring Iran into this pro-American political and security order in the region that allows the United States to punish states that don’t go along with U.S. policy preferences—including by the re-imposition or increasing of sanctions on them.  So that is a big strategic goal for the United States.

For Iran, though, Iran has not had trade relations with the United States for thirty-five years.  Their strategy is, if they can get all U.S. sanctions lifted, great.  But the real goal is not this idea that the United States is somehow going to change overnight.  But if the United States can at least get out of the way, stand to the side, not enforce those sanctions, waive those sanctions at least every six months, that would allow room for other states that Iran is very focused on—in Europe, in Asia, especially with China, and other countries—to allow them to trade and invest more freely (and without the constant threat of punishment from the United States), to allow them to invest in the Iranian economy.  That’s the real economic prize; it’s not to open up U.S. trade or U.S. investment per se.”

Looking ahead to a prospective final agreement, Hillary cautions that negotiators “are going to try to have it as specific as possible, to really hold each side to account—not to build trust, but essentially to build in triggers to punish the other side if something goes wrong.  That is not going to be a durable agreement.”  Instead of this approach, Hillary argues that

“the most effective agreement that could come to fruition, whether its July 20 (the self-imposed deadline) or after that, will be something more vague.  It will be something more along the lines of the Shanghai Communique between the United States and China, which essentially will say that Iran will be recognized as a sovereign state.  There may be some interim period for confidence building, but that will be temporary, and after that interim period Iran will be recognized—especially by the United States, but by all of the P5+1—as a normal sovereign state exercising normal sovereign rights, including those for a civilian nuclear program…If they get bogged down in the details of exactly how many centrifuges Iran can run for exactly how much time, that’s a recipe for failure.

The rest of Hillary’s interview is worth watching, as are the segments with Seyed Mohammad Marandi and Seyed Hossein Mousavian.

May 17, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Possible Iranian-Saudi rapprochement to impact region

By Elie Chalhoub | Al-Akhbar | May 14, 2014

Statements by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Tuesday point to a significant development in the relationship with Iran. Saudi’s so called “hawk” and Iran’s number one enemy in the kingdom is now welcoming a dialogue with the Islamic Republic. But the implications will not be felt in Tehran or Riyadh, but in Baghdad, Homs, Beirut, and Vienna.

Saudi Arabia’s call for a dialogue with Iran is no small matter, neither in its substance, “to settle differences and make the region safe and prosperous,” or in its timing, regionally, internationally, and in relation to the nuclear issue, or the fact that it was issued by one of the kingdom’s most hawkish members.

Information from Tehran maintains “the Iranian position did not change.” It indicated that, “ever since President Hassan Rouhani reached power, [Iran] declared its openness to dialogue with the Saudis and announced the issue publicly several times.” This included statements during the recent tour of Gulf countries by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, in which he kept hoping to visit Riyadh. However, “the rejection was also coming from the Saudis, despite all the openness to reconciliation expressed by Iran.”

According to the same sources, several mechanisms were proposed to start a constructive dialogue, following negotiations through Omani mediation. Muscat was later forced to suspend its role after its relations with Saudi Arabia began to falter. However, a few months ago, Kuwait took up the mantle and became the main mediator between the two sides. The sources revealed that one such mechanism was suggested by the Saudis and entailed parallel trust-building steps. They would begin with a meeting between representatives of both countries’ foreign ministers, then between the two actual foreign ministers, and then to ultimately have a visit by Rouhani to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah.”

The information, which was obtained from circles concerned with relations between Tehran and Riyadh, maintained that the Saudis recently proposed through the Kuwaitis a visit by assistant Iranian foreign minister, Amir Abdel-Lahian, to hold talks. However, “Iran was not satisfied with the suggestion. They believed the atmosphere in Saudi and that surrounding the proposal, its mechanisms, and the position and authority of negotiators from either side would not lead to a serious breakthrough.”

So why did the invitation come now, at this particular time? And what are the motives behind it?

The sources point to the wider picture. “The Iraqi elections show that [Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki will have a larger parliamentary bloc than in the previous parliament and it is certain that he will continue through a third term. This is in addition to the latest developments in Homs, which means that the axis supporting [Syrian] President [Bashar] al-Assad now has the upper hand on the ground. There is also the situation in Lebanon, which shows beyond doubt that there will be no presidential elections, without the consent of the axis of resistance. It seems all those factors, including pressure by the US and the push by Kuwait, led the Saudis to take such a step.”

US pressure was manifested in the visit by US Defense Minister Chuck Hagel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, meeting with the kingdom’s leadership to discuss the Syrian and Iranian files. Kuwait’s push, on the other hand, will be apparent during the visit by the Kuwaiti Emir to Tehran on June 1. He is expected to discuss bilateral relations, including disagreements concerning the continental shelf. But the essence of the meetings will be relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Saudis in particular, in addition to Syria and other matters.

The Saudi foreign minister had announced earlier that the kingdom sent out an invitation to Mohammed Javad Zarifi, “We want to meet with him. Iran is a neighbor with whom we have relations and we will conduct negotiations with Iran.”

Faisal was speaking at a press conference during the First Forum on Economy and Cooperation of Arab Countries with the Central Asian States and the Republic of Azerbaijan. “We will talk to them and if there are disagreements we will settle them in a manner that will satisfy both countries,” he explained. “We also hope that Iran would join the efforts to make the region safe and prosperous and not be part of the problem of a lack of security in the region.”

Saud al-Faisal also expressed the desire to resume contacts between the two countries as expressed by Iran’s president and foreign minister, “We sent out an invitation to the [Iranian] foreign minister to visit Saudi Arabia, but the will to make the visit has not become a reality yet. However, we will meet him anytime he wishes to come.”

Whether by coincidence or planning, Hagel’s visit and Faisal’s call coincided with the final phase of nuclear talks between Iran and the West. But it came at a time when Zarif had just arrived to Vienna to head the delegation to the nuclear talks.

What is certain, however, are the statements by Ali Khamenei on Tuesday and the several signals he gave, which aimed to provide an umbrella to the Vienna negotiations. He emphasized that the US is unable “to do anything rash, militarily or otherwise…We depend on our own powers, strengthening them and focusing our efforts on our own potential, which will defeat plans by the Americans and other powers to force the Iranian people to surrender through exerting pressures.”

Khamenei spoke in front of a large crowd of residents in the Ilam province on the anniversary of Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb’s birth. “The major powers ought to know that the Iranian people will not yield to their ambitions, because it is a living people and its youth are moving and acting in the right direction.”

These clear words are perhaps behind Zarif’s assertions from Vienna that “the difficult part” had only started and the desired deal might be aborted, even in the absence of a consensus on just “2 percent of the topics for discussion.” Iran’s negotiations with the P5+1 groups is entering a new highly sensitive phase, with the drafting of what has become known as the “final agreement.” Tuesday night, Zarif met with the EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the P5+1 countries, over dinner. Actual negotiations will begin on May 14 and will continue until Friday.

Unlike previous sessions, Zarif and Ashton will be heading most of the meetings.

The most contentious issue in this round is the item related to the Arak heavy water reactor, which the West wants closed, and the ability to enrich uranium, which Iran hopes to keep.

The West’s belief that it could reach some kind of nuclear deal is probably due to both sides’ need for an agreement. In addition to building his foreign policy on reaching a settlement with Iran, US President Barack Obama has his hands tied in congressional midterm elections at the end of this year. It has become clear that he needs a foreign victory to ensure the victory of his party, especially after the collapse of his project for the Arab Spring and failing to reach a Palestinian-Israeli settlement or to topple Bashar al-Assad, not to mention his crisis in Ukraine.

Rouhani, on the other hand, seems to be betting on a nuclear deal that would lift the sanctions, and thus improve the economic situation inside Iran, which would give him leverage over his fundamentalist opponents. However, he realized, albeit late, that international sanctions are linked to four files, of which nuclear power is a minor issue. The other three are terrorism, human rights, and the rockets. The sanctions would only be lifted after closing all four files. And even if that happened, Obama has to solve his problems with the US Congress, which still rejects any lifting of sanctions against Iran.

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel, US Mulling Training Syria Terrorists with Saudi Arabia

Al-Manar | April 1, 2014

Top Israeli and US military officials discussed on Monday the possibility of “security cooperation” between the Zionist entity and some Arab states in the Persian Gulf.

The New York Times reported that a meeting took place on Monday between Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Gen. Martin Dempsey, visiting chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in al-Quds.

Prior to the meeting, Gantz hinted that even in the current period of instability there could be opportunities, Israeli daily, Haaretz reported.

Those opportunities became clearer when Dempsey said after the meeting that the discussions included “an outreach to other partners who may not have been willing to be partners in the past,” the Israeli daily said according to NYT.

“What I mean is the Gulf States in particular, who heretofore may not have been as open-minded to the potential for cooperation with Israel, in any way.” Dempsey said.

Haaretz noted that while Dempsey did not go into specifics, other American military officials said that possibilities include “intelligence-sharing, joint counterterrorism exercises and perhaps looking for how Israeli and Saudi troops could jointly work on the training of Syrian opposition fighters.”

Remarking that “world jihadists are not fighting only against Israel,” Gantz added that it would be in the interests of both Israel and neighboring states to “look for ways to combat common enemies.”

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Over 140,000 people have been reportedly killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by the foreign-backed militants.

Western powers and some of their regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – are reportedly supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

April 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Weighs New Aid for Gunmen in Syria, Sets Joint Military Plan with Saudis

Al-Manar | March 29, 2014

The United States is considering allowing shipments of portable air defense systems to Syrian opposition groups, a U.S. official said Friday, as President Barack Obama sought to reassure Saudi Arabia’s king that the U.S. is not taking too soft a stance in Syria and other Mideast conflicts.

A Washington Post report said Saturday that the U.S. is ready to step up covert aid to Syrian armed groups under a plan being discussed with regional allies including Saudi Arabia.

The plan includes CIA training of about 600 Syrian opposition forces per month in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius wrote on Thursday. That would double the forces currently being trained in the region.

The Obama administration was debating whether to use U.S. Special Operation forces and other military personnel in the training, something Syrian mercenaries have argued would carry less political baggage than the CIA, according to the column.

The Obama administration has been criticized by some in Congress for failing to do more in Syria, where 140,000 people have been killed so far, millions have become refugees and thousands of foreign gunmen have been trained since 2011.

Washington was also considering whether to provide the armed opposition with anti-aircraft missile launchers, known as MANPADS, to stop President Assad’s air force, the column said. Saudi Arabia wanted U.S. permission before delivering them, it said.

The plan, which was still being formalized, also called for vetting of opposition forces for “extremist links” during and after training, according to Ignatius.

Qatar has offered to pay for the first year of the program, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the column. The program would try to stabilize Syria by helping local councils and police in areas not under Assad’s control and seek to establish safe corridors for humanitarian aid, it said.

Saudi rulers are hoping for the United States to shift its position on support for Syrian armed opposition, whom Riyadh has backed in their battle to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria: Three Years of Lies – Diplomatic Negotiations

This is an episode from a planned series on several aspects of the Syrian conflict.
Full transcript and links available at:…

March 22, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

West to accelerate proxy war on Syria: Report

Press TV – March 12, 2014

The West is planning a new push against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad through funding proxy war on the conflict-stricken country, a report suggests.

The British daily The Guardian reported that a fresh clandestine effort is under way for opening up a “southern front” against the Syrian president.

A secret command center for international operations in Amman is monitoring preparations for the offensive. This center is staffed by military officials from the US, Britain, Israel and 11 Arab states opposed to Assad.

The paper said its information is based on leaks from the United States, Israel, Jordan and some Persian Gulf Arab states.

It said the planned offensive, dubbed Geneva Horan, is aimed at pushing back Syrian troops in the Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda governorates in the southwest of the country in a bid to clear the way for militants to reach the capital Damascus.

The operation derives its name from the plains near Jordan’s border with Israel.

“The command centre, based in an intelligence headquarters building in Amman, channels vehicles, sniper rifles, mortars, heavy machine guns, small arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army (FSA) units,” the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper quoted militants as saying.

Syria has been gripped by deadly crisis since 2011. Over 130,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced due to the unrest.

Saudi Arabia has been the main supplier of weapons and funds to foreign-backed militants inside Syria.

The United States is also constructing runways for reconnaissance aircraft near the border between Jordan and Syria to help with the operation against Syria.

The Guardian said the US hosted secret talks last month between President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

The talks, reportedly attended by spy chiefs from Jordan, Qatar, Turkey and other regional countries, focused on making a “stronger effort” to assist the militants in Syria.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Iraqi PM Al-Maliki accuses Saudi, Qatar of supporting terrorist movements

RT | March 9, 2014

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of declaring war on Iraq and supporting global terrorism. The Iraqi leader blamed the two countries for orchestrating the latest wave of bloody violence to hit Iraq this year.

In a heated attack on Iraq’s Sunni Gulf neighbors, Prime Minister Maliki leveled a number of accusations at Qatar and Saudi Arabia in an interview with France 24. He said both countries are supporting extreme sectarian groups within Iraq, with a view to destabilizing the country and are “attacking” Iraq through Syria.

“I accuse them of inciting and encouraging the terrorist movements. I accuse them of supporting them politically and in the media, of supporting them with money and by buying weapons for them,” Maliki told FRANCE 24.

“I accuse them of leading an open war against the Iraqi government,” said Maliki, adding that Saudi Arabia and Qatar not only supported terrorism in Iraq, but also sponsor terrorism worldwide.

He went on to warn the Gulf States that their support of global terrorism “will turn against them” and Iraq does not intend to retaliate because it does not wish to “widen the arena of confrontation.”

Addressing allegations he is marginalizing Iraq’s Sunni population, Maliki said such accusations come from sectarians with foreign agendas spurred on by Saudi and Qatari support. Both countries are “buying weapons for the benefit of these terrorist organizations,” he said.

Iraq has been hit by a wave of bloodshed over the past year, with January registering as the most deadly month in the country since April 2008. Suicide bombings and sectarian conflicts across the country claimed the lives of over 1,000 people in January and over 700 in February.

On Saturday violence left 15 people dead, including a parliamentary election candidate and four children, security and medical sources report. Iraq will hold elections this year on April 30 and Maliki has been pushing security forces to bring violence in the country to heel in the run-up.

One of the main conflict areas in the country is the province of Anbar where anti-government militants seized control of the city of Fallujah in December. Since then government forces have been unable to get the city back from the rebel fighters.

In connection with its ongoing fight against insurgency, Iraq will hold an international counter-terrorism conference this Wednesday in Baghdad. Attendees will discuss issues of arming, supporting, funding terrorist groups and training camps in some countries.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel, US Mulling Training Syria Terrorists with Saudi Arabia

Al-Manar | April 1, 2014

Top Israeli and US military officials discussed on Monday the possibility of “security cooperation” between the Zionist entity and some Arab states in the Persian Gulf.

The New York Times reported that a meeting took place on Monday between Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Gen. Martin Dempsey, visiting chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in al-Quds.

Prior to the meeting, Gantz hinted that even in the current period of instability there could be opportunities, Israeli daily, Haaretz reported.

Those opportunities became clearer when Dempsey said after the meeting that the discussions included “an outreach to other partners who may not have been willing to be partners in the past,” the Israeli daily said according to NYT.

“What I mean is the Gulf States in particular, who heretofore may not have been as open-minded to the potential for cooperation with Israel, in any way.” Dempsey said.

Haaretz noted that while Dempsey did not go into specifics, other American military officials said that possibilities include “intelligence-sharing, joint counterterrorism exercises and perhaps looking for how Israeli and Saudi troops could jointly work on the training of Syrian opposition fighters.”

Remarking that “world jihadists are not fighting only against Israel,” Gantz added that it would be in the interests of both Israel and neighboring states to “look for ways to combat common enemies.”

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Over 140,000 people have been reportedly killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by the foreign-backed militants.

Western powers and some of their regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – are reportedly supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

March 1, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia replaces Bandar bin Sultan as leader of Syrian dossier

MEMO | February 21, 2014

Diplomatic sources told AFP on Thursday that Saudi Arabia has sidelined its intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, by transferring key aspects of the Syrian dossier, which he had previously been overseeing, to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

A Western diplomat in the Gulf region told the news agency that Prince Bandar is no longer in charge of the Syrian dossier, leaving Prince Nayef primarily responsible.

According to a source close to the dossier, Prince Nayef participated in a meeting last week in Washington between Western and Arab officials to discuss the situation in Syria.

Diplomatic sources added that Washington has criticised Prince Bandar’s management of the Syrian dossier.

Prince Bandar, the son of the former Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, was appointed in July 2012 as the head of the Saudi Intelligence Service. He had previously served as the Saudi Ambassador to Washington for 22 years and played a key role in encouraging the Bush administration to invade Iraq in 2003.

The Saudi media have not covered any activity of Prince Bandar’s since January.

A diplomatic source told AFP that he was hospitalised recently in the United States and is currently in Morocco.

Media aligned with the Syrian regime have accused him of backing extremists in Syria.

Prince Nayef is the son of the former Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, and is playing a major role in the war being waged by Saudi Arabia against terrorism and Al-Qaeda.

February 21, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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