Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Egypt hikes electricity prices by more than 40% as demanded by IMF

Press TV – July 6, 2017

Egypt has decided to raise electricity prices by more than 40 percent as demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to receive a $12 billion bailout loan.

Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said on Thursday the new charges would apply as of July, which are likely to further deepen the economic woes of most Egyptians.

He said households would now be paying between 18 and 42 percent more on their bills depending on the category and level of their consumption but some of the subsidies would remain in place.

Under the IMF-devised austerity plan, Cairo is obliged to cut subsidies as a condition to receive installments of the three-year loan.

“We were supposed to have been completely done with the (electricity) subsidy in the current and next fiscal years,” Shaker said.

“But considering the special situation related to the large increase in the exchange rate, we extended this period to an additional three years,” he added.

Since November, Egyptian authorities have floated the country’s currency, slashed fuel subsidies twice, and adopted a value added tax as part of the program, which has led to soaring consumer prices.

The value of the Egyptian pound has since plummeted. One US dollar which was worth 8.8 pounds at the official exchange rate in November sells for more than 17 pounds now. Annual inflation reached 30.9 percent in May.

Egypt’s economy has hugely suffered since long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in 2011, and the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was toppled in 2013.

The current president and former head of the armed forces, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, came to power following a military coup.

The country has seen a rise in violence under Sisi and the once-booming tourism sector of Egypt has suffered greatly due to a hike in terrorism.

People also blame Sisi for wasting billions of dollars on mega-projects such as the controversial expansion of the Suez Canal.

The cash-strapped Sisi administration has tried to persuade the public that painful austerity measures would be to the benefit of the country.

However, frustration is high among Egypt’s 90 million population, especially in the wake of a controversial agreement to transfer the sovereignty of two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , | 2 Comments

El-Sisi: Egypt’s Antihero And The Broader Regional Implications

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich | Dissident Voice | June 29, 2017

In Egyptian mythology, gods were considered heroes. In more modern times, it is men who are the heroes. Without a doubt, General Gamal Abdul Nasser has secured his legacy as a hero – a revolutionary who fought for Egypt and strived for Arab unity against Israel and Western imperialism. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war; a pre-planned war of aggression and expansion by Israel against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, aided by the US and Britain.

Israel’s cronies assisted in the planning and execution of the war which led to the seizure and occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Syria Golan (Golan Heights) and the Sinai Peninsula.  Prior to the start of the war, as early as May, Lyndon Johnson, who assumed the presidency after the tragic assassination of John F. Kennedy, authorized air shipment of arms to Israel.1 Furthermore, the United States facilitated Israeli air attacks and advances by sending reconnaissance aircraft to track movement of Egyptian ground forces and American spy satellites provided imagery to Israel.2 According to reports American and British carrier-based aircraft flew sorties against the Egyptians and U.S. aircraft attacked Egypt. Judging by their cover-up, the American leadership had as little compassion for American blood as it did for Arab blood. The Israeli attack against USS Liberty that killed and injured American servicemen was buried in a sea of lies.

Fifty years on, the war rages on and Israel has a different set of cronies. In sharp contrast to Nasser, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s antihero, has thrown his lot in with Israel and Saudi Arabia against his Arab brethren. El-Sisi’s betrayal has been so outlandish and stark that even the neocon leaning New York Times published a scathing article titled: “Egypt’s Lost Islands, Sisi’s Shame” by Adhaf Soueif. This is a remarkable piece rarely seen in the pages of the NYT given its reputation (see LOOT for example).

Soueif rightly calls el-Sisi to task for handing over the Tiran and Sanafir Islands at the mouth of Gulf of Aqaba to Saudi Arabia. More telling is the fact that the transfer had been discussed with — and had received the blessings of — Israel, according to Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. The implications of an Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian alliance are enormous; though hardly the first act of treason by el-Sisi.

In his article Soueif also touches on the dam being built by Ethiopia (the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) which was opposed by former President Mohamed Morsi who was ousted in a coup by el-Sisi. It is crucial that this project be further explored as it relates not only to Egypt, but also the past and future politics and geopolitics of the region.

Before moving on, however, it is important to recall that Morsi was democratically elected to office in the aftermath of the Egyptian ‘revolution’. His support of the Palestinians and his opposition to the dam did not sit well with Israel. Morsi had even called Jews “descendants of pigs and apes”. Both Hamas and the U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Morsi’s election. Abbas called Morsi “the choice of the great people of Egypt” while one of his senior aides, Saeb Erekat, said the democratic vote for Morsi “meant the Palestinian cause was the Number One priority for all Egyptians. Though perhaps the greater concern for Israel was Morsi’s opposition to the construction of the dam, a construction favored by Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In 2012, it was reported that Saudi Arabia had claimed a stake in the Nile. Israel’s ambitions went much further back. First initiated by Theodore Herzl in 1903, the diversion plan was dropped due to British and Egyptian opposition to it only to be picked up again in the 1970s. At that time, Israeli’s idea was to convince Egypt to divert Nile water to Israel. In 1978, President Anwar Sadat “declared in Haifa to the Israeli public that he would transfer Nile water to the Negev. Shortly afterward, in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Sadat promised that Nile water would go to Jerusalem. During Mubarak’s presidency, published reports indicated that Israeli experts were helping Ethiopia to plan 40 dams along the Blue Nile.”3

On May 30, 2013, The Times of Israel reported that the construction on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (on the Blue Nile) had sparked a major diplomatic crisis with Egypt. The article also reported (citing Al-Arabiya) that Major General Mohammed Ali Bilal, the deputy chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, had said Egypt was not in a position to confront the project (countries). “The only solution lies in the US intervening to convince Ethiopia to alleviate the impact of the dam on Egypt.” No such solutions from the U.S.

On June 3rd, Morsi met with his cabinet to discuss the dam and its implications. Cabinet members were surprised to learn that the meeting was aired live. During the meeting, a cabinet member said: “Imagine what 80 million of us would do to Israel and America if our water was turned off”. Morsi contended that “We have very serious measures to protect every drop of Nile water.”

With el-Sisi’s “democratic coup” which was handsomely rewarded, the dam project is on schedule to be completed by year’s end. As Israel expands and accelerates its wars of aggression, the wider implications of el-Sisi will reverberate throughout the region as serve-serving Arab leaders fight their own to execute Israel’s agenda.

  1. Camille Mansour. Beyond Alliance: Israel and U.S. Foreign Policy, Columbia 1994, p.89
  2. Stephen J. Green. Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations With A Militant Israel.  William Morrow and Co., NY 1984
  3. “Will Nile water go to Israel? North Sinai pipelines and the politics of scarcity”, Middle East Policy  (September 1997): 113-124.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher, and blogger with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups.

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel plans to install Dahlan instead of Abbas

MEMO | June 29, 2017

A leading Israeli writer revealed yesterday an Israel-Egypt-UAE plan to install Mohamed Dahlan as the leader of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip instead of Mahmoud Abbas.

In an opinion piece in Haaretz, Zvi Bar’el said that while Hamas would remain in control of security and not be demilitarised, at least “Israel would have a partner in Gaza who supports reconciliation” with the Zionist state.

Dahlan, he pointed out, is the Palestinian president’s “political rival” and if the plan succeeds it is expected that Abbas would be “pushed into a dark corner”, leaving the former Fatah official free to move against him. The endgame could see Dahlan installed as Abbas’s successor at the top of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the PLO.

According to Bar’el, Egypt will ease the siege of Gaza by opening the Rafah Border Crossing for people and goods. The UAE, meanwhile, will fund a power station on the Egyptian side of the border near Rafah; a port is also a possibility. Dahlan is very close to the governments in Cairo and Abu Dhabi.

“It’s still too early to assess whether this plan will be fully implemented,” he wrote, “and if Hamas will agree to place Dahlan at the head of the Gaza government, a step that could all but sever Gaza from the West Bank, especially given the long feud between Abbas and Dahlan.” On the other hand, the writer pointed out, if the plan does come to fruition, it could make an Israeli-Egyptian dream come true. A “state of Gaza” could become a reality with Dahlan at its head, something that, for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, is “the plan’s key”.

If the plan succeeds, said Bar’el, it would “neutralise” the role of Qatar and Turkey in Gaza. He described Israel’s policy of “what’s good for Hamas is bad for Israel, and what helps Gazans strengthens Hamas” as a “failed concept”. Instead, he clearly believes that this “new strategy” which places the people of Gaza first should be given serious consideration.

Observers point out that it is significant that Bar’el refers to “Gazans” and “people of Gaza” rather than Palestinians in Gaza. “This,” said one, “tries to convince the world that ‘Gazans’ are somehow not Palestinians and all actually belong in the Gaza Strip. The reality is that most of the residents of Gaza do not originate there; they come from places inside what is now Israel and are refugees by design, not choice.”

“The Gaza Strip” is a relatively recent term, he added. “It’s only been used since the Nakba of 1948, prior to which the land was simply part of historic Palestine.”

Read also:

Hamas delegation reaches ‘understandings’ with Egypt and meets Dahlan reps

Dahlan behind differences between Egypt and Fatah

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bahrain to jail Qatar sympathisers

Middle East Online | June 8, 2017

MANAMA – Bahrain Thursday followed the United Arab Emirates in announcing that expressing sympathy for Qatar over sanctions imposed by its Gulf neighbours was an offence punishable by a lengthy jail term.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on Monday cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations that the emirate is a champion of extremist groups in the region.

Qatar firmly denies the allegations.

“Any expression of sympathy with the government of Qatar or opposition to the measures taken by the government of Bahrain, whether through social media, Twitter or any other form of communication, is a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine,” a Bahraini interior ministry statement said.

The UAE on Wednesday announced a similar decision, warning that offenders could face between three and 15 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 dirhams ($136,125, 120,715 euros) should they criticise the decision to boycott Qatar.

Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been rocked by unrest since security forces crushed Shiite-led protests in 2011 demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

The authorities accuse Iran of backing the protesters and aiming to incite unrest in Shiite-majority Bahrain, a charge Tehran denies.

Sunni-ruled Bahrain’s strict cyber crime law prohibits the expression of dissent online, including via social media.

Nabeel Rajab, one of the country’s most high-profile activists, is currently on trial for a series of tweets criticising a Saudi-led Arab military campaign in Yemen.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas leader in Egypt for rare talks after spat

Press TV – June 5, 2017

A delegation from the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, headed by the newly chosen leader in Gaza Yehiya Sinwar, has arrived in Cairo to hold the first high-level meeting with the country’s security officials after months of tensions.

Salah Bardaweel, an official within Hamas, said the three-member delegation crossed into Egypt on Sunday via the Rafah border crossing, the only passageway to the outside world for the besieged Gaza Strip which is mostly closed as part of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

Israel has been blockading Gaza since 2007 as a way of punishing its residents who voted for a Hamas administration. The blockade has caused a decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty in the Palestinian coastal enclave.

Bardaweel said the Palestinian and Egyptian officials will discuss the humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip, Egypt’s role in making conditions better and the need to open Rafah crossing for Palestinian travelers.

Sinwar, a senior commander of Hamas’ military wing, was elected to head the movement’s political office in Gaza on February 13. He is second in rank only to the new chairman of Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, who is also based in Gaza.

Ties between Hamas and Egypt have been tense in recent years as Cairo accuses the Palestinian resistance group of backing militants in Sinai Peninsula, an allegation strongly rejected by the movement.

Last month, Hamas dispatched forces to the Gaza Strip’s frontier with Egypt in a confidence-building measure aimed at boosting security in the border area. The deployment came as part of an agreement reached between the two sides in March.

Abbas cuts stipends for Hamas ex-prisoners

In the Palestinian territories, however, a Gaza-based official said the Palestinian Authority had cut this month’s support payments for dozens of Hamas activists once imprisoned by Israel.

“The prisoners went to the banks today and found no salaries in their accounts,” Abdelrahman Shadid, who runs a Hamas-linked prisoner advocacy group in Gaza, said.

He said that those affected had been freed along with over 1,000 other Palestinian inmates in a 2011 prison swap deal with Israel.

The development comes nearly two weeks after a visit by US President Donald Trump to the occupied territories.

The US and Israel are exerting pressure on Abbas to halt the monthly payments to thousands of current and former detainees who were jailed for actions linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some 6,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails, 536 of them arbitrarily, according to figures provided by the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer in January. Palestinian inmates complain that they have been subjected to assault and torture at Israeli prisons.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt cut ties with Qatar

Press TV – June 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have cut diplomatic ties and all land, sea and air contacts with Qatar, accusing the Persian Gulf country of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs.

Riyadh took the lead on Monday to sever relations and other countries fell in line after an official source said the kingdom “urges all brotherly countries and companies to do the same.”

A Saudi official cited by SPA said the country decided to “sever diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar, and to close all land, sea and aviation ports” in order to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.”

The “decisive” measure, the Saudi statement said, was due to “gross violations committed by authorities in Qatar over the past years.”

The United Arab Emirates gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, citing their “support, funding and embrace of terrorist, extremist and sectarian organizations,” state news agency WAM reported.

Bahrain News Agency said the tiny kingdom was cutting ties with Doha over its insistence on “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs.”

Egypt accused Qatar of supporting “terrorist” organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood which it has been cracking down on since the 2013 coup against the country’s first ever democratically-elected leader, Mohamed Morsi.

Meanwhile, a Saudi “coalition” waging a war in Yemen said it was ending Qatar’s membership. The measure, it said, was due to Doha’s “practices that strengthen terrorism, and its support to organizations in Yemen, including al-Qaeda and Daesh, as well as dealing with the rebel militias.”

Qatar regretted the decision, saying “the measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact.” Doha-based Al Jazeera TV quoted Foreign Ministry as saying that the decisions would “not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents.”

“The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of its (Qatar’s) sovereignty as a state,” the ministry said in a statement, referring to the severance of ties as an “incitement campaign based on fabrications, which reflects an intention to harm Qatar.”

Pakistan, another member of the “coalition” which has recently tried to distance itself from the Saudi group’s anti-Iran agenda, made it clear that the country had no plans to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

UAE carriers Etihad, Emirates and flydubai said they would suspend flights to and from Doha from Tuesday. Qatar Airways said it has suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia with immediate affect.

Trump factor

The crisis follows US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region last month, marked by the signing of a record $110-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the visit was aimed at getting Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations in the region to stand in “unity” with Israel and confront Iran.

After Trump’s visit, tensions escalated between Riyadh and Doha because of an article in Qatar’s state-run news agency in which the emir was quoted as criticizing the US, Saudi Arabia, and their client states for attempting to stir up tensions with “Islamic power” Iran.

The Qatari government quickly deleted the comments, saying the state agency had been hacked but the official denial failed to stop the rift between the Persian Gulf Arab countries from widening.

Saudi media then viciously attacked Qatar, accusing it of having “betrayed” the other Arab countries particularly at a time when they had attempted to stage a show of “unity” against Iran in a much-publicized and extravagant series of events in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also blocked Qatari websites and broadcasters. Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani later said the country was being targeted in a “hostile media campaign, which we will confront.”

Prelude to invasion?

Qatar, home to the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command and some 10,000 American troops, long has faced criticism from its Arab neighbors over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood which has another admirer in Turkey.

Western officials have also accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Takfiri extremists like al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front. Saudi Arabia and the UAE similarly stand accused of supporting other Takfiri groups and the escalation exposes an underlying bitter rivalry among the neighbors for influence.

Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh was quoted as saying that the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is rooted in “accumulated differences from the past even though both countries are followers of the Wahhabi school.”

Wahhabism is the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia, which is freely preached by government-backed clerics there and inspiring terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda.

Prominent Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan said in a Twitter post that the diplomatic rupture is a “prelude” to a military action against Qatar.

“The next move may be a military offensive to change the regime in Qatar. It’s a war planned months ago,” wrote the editor-in-chief of the Rai al-Youm news website.

Saudi Arabia, UAE falling out over Yemen?

Recent reports have suggested Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were divided over their role in Yemen on which they have been waging a deadly war for more than two years now.

In a recent interview with Middle East Eye online news portal, Saudi-backed former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi accused the UAE of acting “like an occupation power in Yemen rather than a force of liberation.”

Yemeni sources have revealed that the United Arab Emirates was trying to establish control over the strategic island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea, which Hadi had rented out to the country for nearly a century.

Tensions have taken a turn for worse under Saudi Arabia’s new rulers who have adopted an aggressive policy, waging a destructive war on Yemen, severing relations with Iran and assisting militants in Iraq and Syria to topple their governments.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel planned atomic explosion in 1967 war: Israeli Brigadier General

Press TV – June 4, 2017

Israel developed a secret contingency plan to move an atomic device atop a mountain in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and detonate it in a display of force during the Six-Day War in 1967, says a key organizer of the project.

Retired Israeli Brigadier General Itzhak Yaakov detailed the initiative to Israeli nuclear scholar Avner Cohen in interviews back in 1999 and 2000, whose extracts were published in The New York Times newspaper on Saturday and a full text will be released on Monday.

Yaakov said he had initiated, drafted and promoted the plan, code-named Shimshon or Samson, and it would have been activated if Tel Aviv feared it was going to lose the war.

It would have been the first nuclear explosion used for military purposes since the 1945 US attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“Look, it was so natural. You’ve got an enemy … How can you stop him? You scare him. If you’ve got something you can scare him with, you scare him,” Yaakov said.

He further called the Israeli project a “doomsday operation,” saying it was aimed at intimidating Egypt as well as Syria, Iraq and Jordan into backing off.

“The goal was to create a new situation on the ground, a situation which would force the great powers to intervene, or a situation which would force the Egyptians to stop and say, ‘Wait a minute, we didn’t prepare for that.’ The objective was to change the picture,” he added.

The site chosen for the atomic blast was a mountaintop about 17 kilometers from an Egyptian military complex at Abu Ageila, a strategic road junction in the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

The project included sending a small Israeli paratrooper force to divert the Egyptian army in Sinai so that another Israeli team could make preparations for the explosion.

Two large helicopters were supposed to deliver the nuclear device and then create a command post in a mountain creek.

The blinding flash and mushroom cloud caused by the planned detonation was estimated to be visible throughout the Sinai, the Negev Desert and perhaps as far away as the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Yaakov recalled a helicopter reconnaissance flight he made with an Israeli official, during which pilots learned that Egyptian jets were taking off, perhaps to intercept them.

“We got very close. We saw the mountain, and we saw that there is a place to hide there, in some canyon,” he added.

“I still think to this day that we should have done it (nuclear explosion),” Yaakov said.

Cohen described Israel’s atomic blast bid as “the last secret of the 1967 war.”

Israel, which pursues a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The regime has refused to allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Six-Day War was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967 by Israel on the one side and of Egypt, Jordan and Syria on the other. Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds, the Gaza Strip and part of the Golan Heights during the offensive.

In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, under which Israel is required to withdraw from all territories seized in the war.

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 5 Comments

Trump-Saudi orb-gazing summit not helping Sunni alliance

By Sharmine Narwani | RT | June 1, 2017

The glowing orb stunt should have been a sign that all was not what it seems. Theatrics, in the world of politics, usually suggest an illusion needs to be spun for audiences somewhere.

A week after US President Donald Trump’s eyesore of a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the pressing question now is “why?” What was the purpose of convening leaders and representatives of 55 Arab and Muslim nations to greet a US head of state amidst so much pomp, ceremony and an excruciating amount of flashing cameras?

The Riyadh summit had several goals, most of which specifically served Saudi and American political interests.

The American leader’s potential gains were clear: he would score points at this impressive international showing of Muslim leaders who would help counter his anti-Muslim reputation at home. Trump would also be well-compensated in the form of the largest US arms deal in history, a booty he could claim would boost his home economy. The negotiations would take place in the Middle East, at the heart of his fight against “radical Islamic terrorism.” Trump would also leave with a blank check for Palestinian-Israel “peace,” bestowed by a Saudi king who has no authority to negotiate anything on behalf of Palestinians. And finally, the US president would piggyback the legitimacy of 55 Arab and Muslim states to craft a Middle East policy that targeted Iran, its allies and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) – even though no consensus whatsoever was reached at the summit.

In their eyes, the Saudis scored even bigger. The cash-and-credibility-hemorrhaging Saudis are losing ground in their list of international fights – in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and against Iran. Here was an opportunity to convene leaders and representatives from 55 Arab and Muslim nations (only 33 heads of state showed up) to underscore Saudi Arabia’s position as the custodian of Sunni Islam. For the power-mad Saudis, nothing would showcase their primacy better than the presence of a US president on his first official foreign trip. They forgot, however, that legitimacy is derived from one’s own populations, not from a Western head of state sword-dancing next to one’s king. After the summit, Riyadh would go on to unilaterally craft a declaration, unseen and unapproved by the VIP guests, that claimed to outline the gathering’s foreign policy priorities.

But most importantly, this summit would allow the Saudis – who are terrified at the potential repercussions coming their way from decades of funding global terrorism – to very publicly take cover under the Trump presidency. And the US president, who knows very well that the Saudis are the epicenter of global terror, offered up America’s protection and complicity to secure his doggy bag of treasures.

This generous give-and-take between the Saudis and Americans took place on the day of the summit, amidst much back-slapping. Then, a few days later, the fallout began.

First, Saudi vs. Qatar

This past week, a flurry of media headlines alerted us to the first fissure between summit participants. News reports began emerging that Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had deviated from the Saudi talking points by supporting engagement with Iran and defending resistance groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE retaliated swiftly to this slight by blocking Qatari media outlets, recalling their ambassadors and launching a war of words against Doha.
Why the swift and punishing response toward a fellow member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)?

Qatar has long struggled to get out from under the shadow of its much larger Persian Gulf neighbor Saudi Arabia and has spent the past dozen years building up media networks, like Al Jazeera, and investing in major Western corporate, think tank, educational and sports brands to project power well beyond its regional stature. The tiny sheikhdom’s biggest coup, however, was to secure the establishment of the US military’s largest regional base on its territory, which allowed Doha to continue provoking its Saudi competitor with little risk of consequence.

Then in 2011, the Qataris put their full weight behind “Arab Spring” efforts to overthrow a slew of Arab governments. Most of the Qatari-backed incoming regimes and opposition activists, however, were Islamists, mainly of the MB variety, which is reviled by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Saudis were initially caught off-guard by the swift events sweeping the region, but quickly rallied to mount a region-wide counterrevolution to reverse the political gains of the Qatari- and Turkish-backed MB groups. Saudi operatives funneled manpower, money, and weapons to reestablish Riyadh’s influence. They revived their famed jihadi networks to flood Syria and other places with extremist militants that could tip the balance of power back in its direction.

It wasn’t just Qatar and the MB in Saudi sights – the regional uprisings, particularly in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, threatened to shift the region in a direction that benefited Iran, Saudi Arabia’s biggest regional adversary.

In Riyadh ten days ago, the Saudis thought they had struck gold. After eight years of dealing with a somewhat unsympathetic Obama administration, here was Trump acquiescing to their every whim. The Saudi declaration issued at the end of the summit – as well as speeches delivered during the event – struck out at Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas, and promised American cooperation in isolating them. The Saudis were on a high, but they were also mostly alone.

A broad divergence of interests

Aside from the Saudi-Qatari spat, there are countless other differences among summit participants that will scuttle Riyadh’s ambitions.

The anti-MB UAE has stood firmly by Riyadh’s side in condemning Doha but diverges – even within its own borders – on assuming an aggressive position against Iran. Call it Dubai-versus-Abu Dhabi if you will. Dubai, with its large Iranian expat population and significant trade with the Islamic Republic, is less worried about its Persian neighbor. As a 2009 Wikileaks cable from the US embassy in Abu Dhabi puts it: “While MbZ (Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi Mohammad bin Zayed) is a hardliner on Iran, there are accommodationists within his own system, especially in Dubai, where the ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum (Prime Minister of the UAE) takes a position that is much closer to Qatar’s.”

Other GCC states are even more loathe to confront Iran. Oman has repeatedly ignored Saudi demands to toughen its stance against Iran and remains a key Iranian diplomatic partner in the region. The two states participated in joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman as recently as April, and it was Muscat that hosted the initial secret US-Iran meetings which kick-started the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

GCC member-state Kuwait also remains relatively neutral on Iranian matters. Up to 40 percent of Kuwaitis are Shiites, and the country has avoided much of the sectarian strife that afflicts Saudi Arabia and now Bahrain. It is to Kuwait that Qatar’s emir has now turned to negotiate peace with the Saudis and UAE in the aftermath of last week’s fallout. The Qataris, who have dealt opportunistically and not ideologically in their regional relations, share the world’s largest gas reserve with Iran, a further incentive to maintain a neutral stance on Tehran.

In fact, most of the Sunni states that attended the Riyadh summit are flat-out furious about the violent sectarianism and extremism that has emerged in the past few years. And many of them blame the Saudis for it.

Last August, an unprecedented conference of 200 leading Sunni clerics from around the world was held in Grozny to determine “who is a Sunni.”Excluded from the gathering were representatives of both the Wahhabi sect (Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s official religion) and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic world is looking to tackle the deviance and sectarianism that has borne groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda – not indulge it, as would be the case if they embraced the Saudi ‘vision’ in Riyadh.

But in an effort to bulldoze through a “Sunni consensus” under the umbrella of “Saudi-American power,” the Saudis ignored every gorilla in that summit room. Not only do many of the meeting’s participants blame the Saudis for unleashing the jihadi genie, but most of them also wouldn’t for a minute look to Saudi ‘leadership’ if it weren’t for Saudi cash. Case in point, Sunni regional giants Turkey and Egypt. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t even show up to Riyadh, citing other engagements. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi did attend – he was one of three invited to press his palms upon the ‘glowing orb’ to inaugurate the Saudi counterterrorism-something-or-other.

But more than anything, Sisi was invited to Riyadh as an important set extra – to visually demonstrate that the great Arab state of Egypt was passing the mantle of leadership to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Where the Saudis viewed former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as a stalwart ally, they see Sisi as nothing of the sort. Sisi may agree with Riyadh on the evils of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he has absolutely no tolerance for Saudi Arabia’s support of terrorist groups throughout the region and has been a right royal pain on the issue of Syria.

Egypt may hanker after the Saudi billions – which it has received in spades for its anti-MB efforts – but Egyptians have little affection for the Saudis and have sparred publicly and privately in recent years and months. Whereas Riyadh could once count on Egyptian troops to support its military incursions, today Cairo has rejected participation in the Saudi-led war against Yemen – alongside another staunch Saudi ally, Pakistan.

The Saudis recently hired Pakistan’s former army chief General Raheel Sharif to head up their 39-nation “Muslim NATO” construct to fight terrorism, but now rumors are rife that he will resign amidst a national uproar over his decision. Pakistanis, like other straight-thinking Muslims, are uncomfortable about the prospect of a military alliance that appears to have been conceived primarily to fight Iran – and Shiites.

Dead On Arrival

On the surface, the purpose of the Riyadh summit was to amass a coalition of like-minded Arab and Muslim partner-states, under a Saudi-American banner, to wage war against terror. In fact, this is a Saudi and American-led initiative created not to tackle terror, but to ‘reframe’ it to encompass political adversaries.

Look out for pundits and politicians spinning these new narratives that Iran, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood are equally as dangerous as ISIS and Al-Qaeda – never mind that the former have been around for decades without triggering the global security meltdown spawned by the latter.

In Riyadh, the Americans and Saudis made a great show of jointly announcing two additions to their “terrorism” list – one was a senior Hezbollah official, the other a senior member of ISIS.

This is not the war against terror that the heads of states gathered in Riyadh anticipated. This is a sectarian war, conceived by a sectarian state that has funded, armed and organized the very global terrorism it purports to fight. And every single US administration since the events of 9/11 has acknowledged this direct Saudi role in terror.

In Riyadh, the show went on anyway. But there’s not a person in that room who didn’t understand the game. Forget the ‘Sunni consensus’ after Riyadh. Of the 55 nations represented at the summit, the Saudis will be lucky to retain five.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University. Sharmine has written commentary for a wide array of publications, including Al Akhbar English, the New York Times, the Guardian, Asia Times Online, Salon.com, USA Today, the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera English, BRICS Post and others. You can follow her on Twitter at @snarwani

June 1, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt’s President Sisi Drops a Depth Charge in Midst of American Islamic Summit – Shames Supporters of Terrorism

21st Century Wire | May 24, 2017

Whatever criticisms may be justifiably levied at Egypt’s President Al Sisi, the speech he gave at the American Islamic Summit should go down in history as one of the bravest attacks on supporters of terrorism, whilst in their midst. The consternation of the primary terrorism creators and drivers, the Gulf State members, is palpable, as is the frantic tea-making and serving, as a distraction from the weight and power of Sisi’s words. Each barb hit home, Israel, Gulf States, the US, the EU, Turkey, nobody was omitted from the roll call of criminal terrorism support, sponsoring, promotion and funding.

Of course this speech was given zero air-time by western corporate media outlets, as it also exposed their promotion of the terror groups wreaking violent, murderous havoc across the region.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Here’s why Saudi Arabia and Israel are allies in all but name

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | May 22, 2017

Those who claim that Israel is opposed to Donald Trump’s now openly warm relations with Saudi Arabia are missing the actual point. On the surface, many assume that Israel and Saudi Arabia have poor relations. Neither country has diplomatic relations with one another, one is a self-styled Jewish state while the other is a Wahhabi Sunni monarchy.

But they both have the same regional goals, they both have the same enemies and both are intellectual anachronisms in a 20th century that has seen the fall of multiple monarchies, the end of traditional European colonialism and the fall of segregated regimes in Africa (Apartheid South Africa and UDI Rhodesia for example).

Israel and Saudi Arabia have always been enemies of secular, Arab nationalist states and federations. Whether an Arab state is Nasserist, Ba’athist, socialist, Marxist-Leninist or in the case of Gaddafi’s Libya a practitioner of the post-Nassierist Third Political Theory: Israel and Saudi Arabia have sought to and in large part have succeeded, with western help, at destroy such states.

Unlike Israel’s Apartheid military state and Saudi Arabia’s human rights free monarchy, the aforementioned Arab styles of government are worthy of the word modern. These are countries which had progressive mixed economies, had secular governments and societies, had full constitutional rights for religious and ethnic minorities, they championed women’s rights and engaged in mass literacy programmes and infrastructural projects. In the case of the Syrian Arab Republic, such things still apply.

Such things still have wide appeal not just in the Arab world but universally. The very charter of the UN subtly implies that such goals are the way forward.

Secular Arab governments have therefore not fallen due to their lack of popularity but they have fallen due to political and military aggression from Israel, monetary blackmail and terrorism funded from and by Saudi Arabia and a combination of all of the above from the United States and her European allies. Useful idiots in the west who claim that groups like the obscurantist and terroristic Muslim Brotherhood represent majoritarian public opinion in secular Arab states are simply worse than useful idiots: they are lying, dangerous idiots.

This is why Syria is a country that Israel and Saudi Arabia are both interested in destroying. Both countries have indeed invested time and money into destroying Syria and thus far they have not been successful.

Syria is the last secular Arab Ba’athist state in the world. Unlike in Israel, minorities have full constitutional rights and unlike in Saudi Arabia, all religions are tolerated. In Syria, women can act, speak and dress as they wish.

Syria’s independence has in the past thwarted Israel’s ambition to annex Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and additional parts of Syria itself (Israel still occupies Syria’s Golan Heights). Syria has also been a true ally of the oppressed Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.

Likewise, Syria has hurt Saudi Arabia and fellow backward Gulf state Qatar’s ambitions to expand their petro-empires. Qatar remains desirous to construct a pipeline running through Syria, something Qatar wants done on its terms and its terms alone.

Furthermore, since Saudi Arabia has little to offer the world in terms of culture, Saudi attempts to control and colonise their more educated and worldly Levantine Arabs is done through a combination of bribery and through the use of Salafist terrorist proxies such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.

There is also a psychological element to the mutual warfare which Saudi Arabia and Israel have waged on secular states like Syria.

So long as Syria exists, Saudi Arabia cannot say that there is no alternative to its backward style of government in the Arab world. Of course, others like Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt are secular states (Iraq less so now than at any time since independence), but these states have been wholly compromised through war and in the case of Egypt through political malaise.

Syria remains strongly independent and refuses to surrender its values.

Both countries also seek to destroy Iran. Iran unlike Saudi Arabia and Israel, practices an ethical foreign policy. Far from wanting to export its Islamic Revolution, Iran has been a staunch ally to secular Syria and has been at the forefront of the fight against Salafist terrorism like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

Iran has also taken a principled stance on Palestine, whilst most Arab states with the exception of Syria, have long ago given up on the Palestinian cause.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have superficial differences in foreign policy, but their main goals are exactly the same. Both seek to retard the progress of the Arab world and to taint Islam as something it is not.

Saudi Arabia and Israel both want non-Muslims to think of Islam as something representing bombs, female enslavement, physical mutilation and barbarity. Syria has shown the world that real Islam looks a lot like Christianity and frankly a lot more like Christianity than atheistic Europe does in 2017.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are allies in the material and psychological war against secular, modern Arab countries. It is a war which the United States has been fighting on behalf of Riyadh and Tel Aviv for decades.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hezbollah Denounces Egypt Bombings, Warns against Conspiracy to Displace Christians

Al-Manar | April 10, 2017

Hezbollah on Sunday has condemned the awful crimes committed by terrorist ISIL group which targeted churches in Egypt’s Tanta and Alexandria, killing and injuring dozens of innocent civilians.

In a statement released by the party’s Media Relations office, Hezbollah offered condolences to victims’ families, calling for uniting efforts to confront terrorism in the region.

“This continuous and escalating killing carried out by criminal gangs in the name of religion is one of the greatest catastrophes our Ummah (nation) has been witnessing,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah pointed out that such crimes were planned for by major powers and regional countries which have been offering different kinds of support to terrorists, in a bid to sow discord between the region’s peoples who have lived together for centuries.

Furthermore, the Lebanese resistance party stressed that targeting faithful people in churches during Palm Sunday is a savage act which indicates that these groups have no humanity.

This crime “comes as a part of a big scheme to displace Christians from Sinai and other areas across Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, paving the way for sectarian and ethnic federalization in favor of the Zionist enemy,” Hezbollah warned.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah voiced support for Egypt and its people, urging all sides to realize the seriousness of the “great conspiracy targeting our Ummah,” and to unite efforts in confronting terrorists along with their regional and international sponsors.

April 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia & Egypt refute reports of Russian troop deployment on Libyan border

RT | March 14, 2017

Both Russia and Egypt have denied reports alleging that Russian special forces have been deployed at an airbase near the Libyan border to support a military commander loyal to Libya’s eastern government.

“There are no Russian special forces in Sidi Barrani,” the Russian Defense Ministry’s official spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, said on Tuesday.

“Some Western media have been disturbing the public with such reports, citing anonymous sources for several years now… And ever more foolish and indecent with regard to American intelligence are the words of the ‘source’ quoted by Reuters, who said that ‘intelligence activity of the United States into the [actions] of the Russian military are complicated because of the involvement of contractors and agents in civilian clothes,’” Konashenkov added.

Citing US, Egyptian, and “diplomatic“ sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, Reuters had reported earlier that Russian special operations forces and drones were allegedly deployed at Sidi Barrani base, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the border between Egypt and Libya. The unnamed Egyptian security sources said the unit consisted of 22 members, but would not discuss their supposed mission, the agency stated, while suggesting that Russia had also flown six military units to Egypt’s Marsa Matrouh base in early February, which proceeded to Libya some 10 days later.

The chair of Russia’s Federal Defense and Security Committee, Victor Ozerov, branded the report a “hoax,” insisting that no deployment of special forces to Egypt or Libya had ever been brought before the Russian Parliament.

“Nobody addressed the Federation Council on the question of sending the Russian Armed Forces to either Egypt or Libya.

“The president of the Russian Federation has the right to use Russian armed forces abroad only with the consent of the Federation Council; this is a constitutional norm. No such request was submitted to the Federation Council [therefore] there is no legal reason to say that [Russian] servicemen could be in Egypt,” Ozerov told RIA Novosti news agency. The reports are “yet another anti-Russian attack,” Ozerov said, adding that “Russia has proved that it strictly adheres to international norms on the use of armed forces abroad.”

Egypt also dismissed the Reuters report.

“There is no foreign soldier from any foreign country on Egyptian soil. This is a matter of sovereignty,” Egyptian army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said, as cited by Reuters.

The refuted allegations contend that Russian special forces have been deployed to support Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) that is loyal to Libya’s eastern government. The 73-year-old general had been an ally of Libyan strong-man Muammar Gaddafi, but joined the Western-backed uprising against the country’s long-time leader in 2011, which led to the Gaddafi’s death and a civil war that’s still raging.

After years of turmoil and fighting, with various factions vying for power, two rival governments emerged in Libya: the Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based General National Congress. With the UN’s help, in 2015, the two agreed to set up a Government of National Accord (GNA) that would form a Presidency Council. However, the Tobruk-based parliament supported by Haftar has refused to cooperate with the unity government, which it accuses of aligning with some of the country’s Islamist-leaning forces. Haftar’s forces have been fighting an alliance of Islamist militants and former rebels in Benghazi for two years now. The general maintains close relationships with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Russia. Haftar was in Russia twice last year, asking for military aid.

Last week, another Reuters report alleged that a force of several dozen armed private Russian security contractors had been operating in a part of Libya under Haftar’s control until February. The contractors were allegedly there to help mine sweep Benghazi, the head of the firm that allegedly hired them said, according to Reuters. However, the commander of Benina air base near Benghazi, Mohamed Manfour, said that the LNA had not received any military assistance from the Russian government or Russian military contractors, while denying that there were any Russian forces or bases in eastern Libya.

Russia has stressed that it “continues meticulously working with both power centers in Libya,” with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that only the Libyan people can decide their country’s future.

“It’s clear that the country’s future must be determined by Libyans. We believe that attempts to impose a ready-made solution on them are counterproductive,” Lavrov said in a February interview with Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper.

Russia’s foreign minister also pledged to help unify Libya and foster dialogue at a recent meeting with Fayez Seraj, the leader of Libya’s UN-backed government.

March 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment