Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Israel Ready for ‘A Very Violent War’

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | December 28, 2017

‘Violence is not the way.’ How often did we hear Tony Blair say it? We know that violence should not be the way but we know that it is often is. The ‘we’ definitely does not include Blair, an architect of extreme violence in the Middle East. We know from history that violent states can often leave the peaceful with nothing left but violence to stop them going any further. This is the paradoxical trap in human behavior: the violent can ultimately impose violence on the peaceful.

We would be deluding ourselves if we think that such a point has not been reached with Israel or has not been almost reached; we have to leave open the slim possibility that somehow it will come to its senses and do what it could have done decades ago, make peace with the Palestinians and through them with the Arab and Muslim worlds and, in fact, with the world in general, but this does not seem likely.

The Zionist leaders knew from the beginning that the only way they could take Palestine would be through war. Jabotinsky was blunt about it, Ben-Gurion honest only in his private correspondence: only by fire and sword could Israel be created out of Palestine and having stepped on this path Israel has never stepped off it.

Over seven decades it has waged war after war:  against the Palestinians, against Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, against any state, organisation or individual that gets in its way. It has massacred, assassinated and bombed ambulances, hospitals, schools, UN compounds and apartment blocks. It has never shown concern for the human lives it takes: on the contrary, one of its pilots even joked when asked how he felt when firing a missile at an apartment building in Gaza.   His reply was that he felt a ‘slight tremor’ in the wings of his plane.

Over the years Israel’s rabbis and generals have declared all Palestinians as the enemy or as cancers, snakes and cockroaches to be crushed or cut out. The Palestinian enemy even includes the children not yet born, giving Golda Meir nightmares when she went to bed, not knowing how many Palestinians might have been born by the time she woke up.

These frightful sentiments are reflected on the street and in the mainstream culture, in polls showing hatred of Palestinians, even amongst schoolchildren, and in the unending violence of West Bank settlers. The soldiers and border police who protect these settlers do what they like, knowing they will not be punished, or punished so lightly that the punishment only adds insult to injury to the victim and his/her family. The murder of Abd al Fatah al Sharif as he lay wounded in the streets of Hebron last year and the recent murder by a sniper of the wheelchair-bound Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, whose legs were severed by an Israeli missile strike on Gaza in 2008,  are not brutal anomalies but entirely consistent with Israel’s violent history.

Destroying the enemy before he becomes too strong has been Israel’s guiding maxim since 1948. Egypt was kept off balance by repeated attacks across the armistice line before the tripartite aggression of 1956. That failed because of the intervention of the US once British treachery was revealed. Israel then reverted to more attacks across the armistice line before the attack of 1967 on Egypt and Syria.  The myth of invincibility lasted only until the first week of the 1973 war, during which Israel’s forces were routed in Sinai. Had Sadat not betrayed Hafez al Assad they would have been driven off the Golan Heights as well, but that still would have left the probability of direct intervention by the US to save Israel from the consequences of its own folly.

This was the last war Israel fought against a regular army. Its ‘wars’ on Lebanon and Gaza were no more than military onslaughts on a mostly defenseless population and even then it could not win them. Gaza has managed to stand upright despite the carnage of Israel’s attacks and in Lebanon the uprooting of the PLO in 1982 only cleared the way for a Shia resistance taking political and military shape in the form of Hezbollah.  By 2000 this guerrilla army had driven the Zionists out of southern Lebanon and in 2006 it heaped further humiliation on them when they returned, which brings us to considerations of the present situation.

The first is that Israel’s geopolitical situation is not what it was. The days when Israel could call on the sympathy of the world, as an allegedly beleaguered little state threatened with extinction, have long since gone. With the exception of the US and its hangers-on, the world knows what Israel is, a bully.

In the Middle East Israel’s geopolitical situation is not what it was either. The treaties it has signed with Egypt and Jordan are moribund. The popular antagonism to Israel in both countries is as strong now as the day these treaties were signed, and probably even stronger following Trump’s inflammatory statement, the killing of Ibrahim Abu Thuraya and the powerful stand taken by a Palestinian teenager, Ahad Tamimi, in slapping the face of a Zionist soldier.

Militarily, Israel’s decline could be charted on a graph. The slide since 1967 has been slow but continuous. Yes, Israel has nuclear weapons and intermittently sends out signals that it is prepared to use them, as it did in 1973. Yes, it has supreme air power but even this has not been sufficient to give it the victories it wants and as Israel’s intelligence and military chiefs know, Israel’s enemies are working all the time on the means of countering Israel’s technological superiority. The Zionist media might jeer at Hasan Nasrallah but Israel’s military commanders do not.

Israel has tried to destroy Hezbollah but has failed. It has tried to intimidate Iran through the assassination of its scientists and repeated threats of military attack but it has failed, even with the additional weapon of US sanctions. The law of unintended consequences has prevailed: the attempt to destroy Syria has also failed, ultimately, despite the massive destruction and loss of life, and so has the attempt to destroy Iraq, which is regaining its shattered unity under a Shia-dominant government close to Iran and sympathetic to Hezbollah. The collapse of Kurdish secessionism is another blow to Israel. The obverse of these failures is the growing military strength of Hezbollah and Iran, far greater now than a decade ago.

It is for these reasons that the Middle East is facing perhaps the most dangerous moment in its modern history. Psychologically, strategically, Israel cannot allow the present situation to continue unchecked, cannot allow Hezbollah and Iran to grow even stronger in the coming years. It must reassert its military dominance and all the signals pouring out of the political and military establishment indicate that after a year of intensive preparations it is ready to go. The target will be Lebanon, which Israel’s propagandists are portraying as no more than a Hezbollah enclave manipulated by Iran, which Israel will want to draw into the conflict. The war will be one of massive destruction, with Israel’s ministers differing only on whether Lebanon is to be bombed back to the Stone Age (Yisrael Katz) or the Middle Ages (Naftali Bennett).

Israel’s war preparations in the past year include the biggest land maneuvers for two decades. Held in northern occupied Palestine right on the armistice line with Lebanon the ‘Light on the Grain’ maneuvers in September, 2017, began with the evacuation of civilians in the region. An estimated 30,000-40,000 soldiers and reservists were involved, in 20 brigades, with jet fighters, helicopters, drones, submarines, gunboats and patrol boats providing backup and reconnaissance for troops on the ground. Electronic warfare, the use of robot fighters in tunnels and mock battles with soldiers wearing ‘enemy’ uniforms and carrying fake explosive belts were all on the agenda. The exercises were based on the assumption of a ten-day war with Hezbollah. According to Walid Sukkariya, a retired Lebanese general and member of parliament, the number of soldiers deployed indicated the deployment of 150,000 troops in a real war.

In November, 2017, the largest aerial exercise in Israel’s history was held in southern occupied Palestine. This multilateral two-week ‘Blue Flag’ exercise involved about 1000 pilots from nine countries, including, for the first time in the history of such maneuvers, Germany. Hundreds of jet fighters flew an estimated 1000 missions from the Uvda base as the ‘blue’ forces ‘attacked’ the ‘red alliance’, an unspecified enemy whose pilots, however, were all given an Arabic name.  Helicopters, drones and UAVs were used: electronic warfare was central to the maneuvers, as was the assumption that the ‘enemy’ would be armed with SAMs and MANPAD missile launchers.

Offshore, Cyprus has been used by Israel as it prepares for its next war. In March, 2017, Israel and the government of southern Cyprus staged the three-day ‘Onsilos-Gedeon’ military maneuvers in and over a large area around Nicosia. In June an estimated 500 Israeli soldiers, many from the ‘elite’ Egoz unit, along with 100 soldiers from the Cypriot National Guard took part in a two- week war exercise in the Troodos mountains, where the terrain is similar to southern Lebanon. The combat involved ‘fighting’ above and below ground, fighting in dense bush in mountainous terrain and airborne maneuvers night and day. The aerial component included five Israeli squadrons, C130 transport planes, Blackhawk helicopters and Unit 669, whose core mission is to rescue pilots and soldiers trapped behind enemy lines.

In late October, 2017, Cypriot-Israeli military ‘cooperation’ moved to southern occupied Palestine, where soldiers from the Cypriot National Guard and the Egoz unit staged exercises held over two weeks at the Tzeelim military base. The focus was on urban warfare in the setting of a mock ‘Arab’ town.

These ongoing military maneuvers are part of a new strategic (military and commercial) axis developing in the eastern Mediterranean between Israel, Cyprus and Greece and drawing in other countries because of the lucrative profits that will eventually come from the deep sea natural gas deposits drilled by southern Cyprus in its Aphrodite field and Israel in its Leviathan and Tamar fields 140 kms from the coast of occupied Palestine. Haifa.

The military engagement with Israel and the holding of maneuvers on Cypriot soil which, for Israel, are clearly directed at an ‘Arab’ enemy, have caused consternation in the ranks of the Cypriot opposition. In June the Akel party noted that the Troodos mountains had been chosen for their similarity to the topography of southern Lebanon. It said the exercises had involved Cyprus in dangerous war games ‘with an army that has been an occupying power for 50 years in the Palestinian territories.’ The militarization of cooperation with Israel was dangerous to Cyprus and regional peace.

The scale of these exercises leaves no room for doubt that Israel is not merely upgrading and monitoring its military preparedness but actively preparing for war. The alarm bells have been sounding continuously for the past year: according to Channel Two, given access to Israeli positions along the armistice line with Lebanon, Israel is preparing for ‘a very violent war.’ Already in 2008 the then head of the Zionist military’s northern command, now the chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, presented the ‘Dahiya doctrine’, focusing on the massive damage that would be done in areas associated with Hezbollah. According to Eisenkot: ‘In every village from which Israel is fired upon we will apply disproportionate force against it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint these are not civilian villages, they are military bases. This is not a recommendation. It is a plan and it has been approved.’

Dahiya, of course, was the largely Shia suburb of Beirut pulverized from the air by Israel in 2006. Others think the ‘doctrine’ should be applied even more widely. In the words of education minister Naftali Bennett, uttered in March, 2017, ‘The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airports, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese army bases, they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out. That’s what we should already be saying to them and they would know that if Hezbollah fires missiles at the Israeli home front this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages.’ From Bennett this is not empty rhetoric. After all, in 1996 it was he who called in the artillery barrage that killed more than 100 people, half of them children, in the UN compound at Qana, southern Lebanon; ‘I am proud of how I functioned during operation Grapes of Wrath’, he remarked later. ‘Leave the warriors alone.’ After all, again, it was Bennett who once said ‘I have killed lots of Arabs in my life and there is no problem with that.

According to intelligence minister Yisrael Katz, speaking this December with a Saudi newspaper, ‘What happened in 2006 will be a picnic compared to what we can do now. I remember a Saudi minister saying they will send Hezbollah back to their caves in southern Lebanon. I am telling you that we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age … and bury Nasrallah under the rocks.’  These are genocidal threats, plain and simple, and both Iran and Hezbollah are preparing for the onslaught. Hezbollah has already said it has missiles that can reach any part of occupied Palestine and has hinted that ports and refineries would be among the targets in any coming war.

Nasrallah’s response to these threats, made in his address marking the 10th of Ashura in October this year, warrants attention because he is not a man to indulge in idle talk. This was a long speech in which he distinguished Judaism from Zionism, in which he said the Jews brought to Palestine from all over the world were cannon fodder in a British-western colonialist war against the Arabic and Muslim people of the region and were still serving as fuel for US policies.

Addressing ‘Jewish scholars, their eminent personalities, their thinkers’ he warned that Netanyahu is leading ‘your people’ in Palestine to annihilation and destruction. He was working with Trump to tear up the agreement with Iran and push the region into a new war but neither he nor his government and military officials had an accurate picture of what awaited them if they started another war. ‘That is why I call first of all on Jews except the Zionists to detach their considerations from Zionist calculations which will only lead them to their final destruction. I call on all those who came into occupied Palestine believing the promises that they would find the land of milk and honey, I call on them to leave Palestine and go back to the countries from which they came so they do not become mere fuel in any war to which the stupid Netanyahu will lead them. For if Netanyahu launches a war in this region there may be no more time for them to leave Palestine and there may be no safe place for them in occupied Palestine.’ Such a war could bring about ‘the end of all things for you and for the Zionist entity.’

This was possibly the strongest and most direct speech Nasrallah has ever made. The confidence in what he had to say suggests that Hezbollah has attained or developed weaponry that Israel may find it hard to counter. The speech indicates that after more than seven decades, Nasrallah fully understands that the conflict with Israel is rapidly moving towards the existential level of either/or: either Hezbollah will be destroyed and Iran crippled or Israel will suffer blows of such magnitude as to threaten its survival. Right now this may seem improbable but history is nothing if not a trickster, especially for those who make their calculations on the basis of power they will never lose. For either side defeat is not an option: Israel is preparing to fight a war of unprecedented savagery to finish off its enemies and they are ready to defend themselves and (as Nasrallah has warned) take the war into enemy territory. This seems close to the point at which we now stand, without anyone in the ‘international community’ putting on the brakes to stop the momentum towards war.

– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press).

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 6 Comments

New details emerge of Saudi Arabia’s treatment of Hariri

Press TV – December 25, 2017

A leading US daily has revealed new details of Saudi Arabia’s degrading treatment of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a recent trip to Riyadh, where the Lebanese leader was coerced into reading a prepared resignation speech under conditions similar to that of a captive.

Prime Minister Hariri abruptly declared his resignation from a then-unknown location in Saudi Arabia and from Saudi-owned television on November 4, accusing Iran and Hezbollah of interfering in the region and signaling that that was his reason to quit.

But Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who suspected early on that Hariri hadn’t resigned of his free will, refused to accept his resignation and demanded his return from Saudi Arabia first. Lebanese intelligence sources soon concluded that Hariri was under restrictions in Riyadh.

That drama ended when Hariri returned to Lebanon on November 22 — partially after a diplomatic intervention by France — and rescinded his resignation on December 5.

While some details had already emerged of the circumstances of Hariri’s three-week stay in Saudi Arabia, more appeared in a Sunday report by The New York Times, which used information from “a dozen Western, Lebanese and regional officials and associates of Mr. Hariri” to draw a better picture of what happened to him in Riyadh.

Hariri, who reached a power-sharing deal with Hezbollah in 2016 and who had formerly attempted to convince Riyadh of the need to work with Hezbollah, met with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior Iranian adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, on November 3.

“That may have been the last straw for the Saudis,” the report said, adding, ” Within hours, Mr. Hariri received a message from the Saudi king — come now — ahead of a meeting that had been scheduled days later.”

A well-connected Lebanese analyst was cited as saying that Hariri was also invited to spend a day in the desert with the prince.

“But when he (Hariri) landed in Riyadh, Saudi officials took Mr. Hariri to his house and told him to wait — not for the king, but for the prince. He waited, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. No one came,” it said.

The next morning, he was “summoned at 8:30 a.m. to the Saudi royal offices — unseemly early, by the kingdom’s standards.”

Thinking that he would go camping with the prince, Hariri wore jeans and a T-shirt to the Saudi royal offices.

“But instead he was stripped of his cellphones, separated from all but one of his usual cluster of bodyguards, and shoved and insulted by Saudi security officers,” the report said. “Then came the ultimate indignity: He was handed a pre-written resignation speech and forced to read it on Saudi television.”

“Before going on TV, he was not even allowed to go to the house he owns there; he had to ask guards to bring him a suit.”

‘Down the hall from the prince’s office’

Information on what happened between Hariri’s arrival in Riyadh and the resignation is missing. The Times cited Lebanese officials as describing that interval as the “black box.”

“They (the Lebanese officials) said they were reluctant to press Mr. Hariri for details. When asked, one of them said, Mr. Hariri just looked down at the table and said it was worse than they knew.”

Hariri, who runs a private business in Saudi Arabia, was “manhandled” by Saudi officials and was also threatened that he would face “corruption charges,” according to one official.

He read the resignation speech he had been given “from a room an official said was down the hall from the prince’s office.”

‘Our prime minister has been detained’

“Lebanese officials,” the report said, “began making the rounds to puzzled Western diplomats with an unusual message: We have reason to believe our prime minister has been detained.”

Hariri “was eventually placed with Saudi guards in a guesthouse on his own property, forbidden to see his wife and children.”

Some Western diplomats were allowed to meet with the Lebanese prime minister there. “There were two Saudi guards in the room [during those meetings]… and when the diplomats asked if the guards could leave, Mr. Hariri said no, they could stay.”

Opposite effect

The drama was seen as a Saudi attempt to disrupt the political balance in Lebanon to the disadvantage of Hezbollah, which shared power both in the parliament and Hariri’s government with other Lebanese factions.

The Times report pointed to how Mohammed bin Salman was looking to use Hariri as a “pawn” against Iran, “as if he were an employee [of Riyadh] and not a sovereign leader.”

But instead, the Lebanese people of all political inclinations soon came out with massive support for their prime minister, demanding that he safely return and continue work. Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also voiced support for Hariri.

The report said Western officials were wondering what Saudi Arabia “hoped to accomplish with all this intrigue.”

“Several do not rule out the possibility that they aimed to foment internal unrest in Lebanon, or even war.”

Mohammed bin Salman has orchestrated a war on Yemen already. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading a number of its allies in pounding Yemen — already the Arab world’s poorest state — causing famine and a cholera epidemic there.

The report said Saudi [Persian] Gulf Affairs Minister Thaber al-Sabhan, who is believed to have been a key figure in the Hariri scheme, “got a withering reception” on a visit later to Washington, where US officials “demanded that Mr. Sabhan explain why Riyadh was destabilizing Lebanon.”

Prime Minister Hariri, in the meantime, has been continuing work with renewed support and stronger unity among Lebanese people and political groups.

“Now, Mr. Hariri remains in office with new popularity, and Hezbollah is stronger than before,” the Times said.

December 25, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

France’s Macron and Saudi Prince in Artful Deception

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 12.12.2017

A week after French President Emmanuel Macron opened the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, a painting attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci went on sale for a record $450 million at an auction in New York City.

It was then reported that the buyer turned out to be none other than Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia with whom Macron is said to enjoy a close, personal rapport.

The 500-year-old renaissance portrait of Jesus Christ – entitled ‘Salvator Mundi’ (‘Savior of the World’) – will henceforth go on display in Abu Dhabi’s franchise of the Louvre, presumably on long-term loan from the Saudi monarchy.

The story here is one of the French presidency and the Saudi heir using culture and arts for “soft power” projection – or, less prosaically, as public relations to launder their international image. It also ties in with how Macron is disguising pernicious French meddling in Middle East affairs under the image of being a benign diplomatic broker.

The Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, is the only one anywhere in the world that is an official affiliate to the famous Paris museum of the same name. It opens after 10 years of construction, for which the UAE reportedly paid France over $500 million in order to be able to use the famous Louvre name.

France, the UAE and the closely aligned Saudi rulers stand to gain much international prestige, especially after the Saudi Crown Prince reportedly purchased the most expensive artwork in the world to date by the renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci’s other celebrated portrait, the Mona Lisa, is displayed in the Paris Louvre. A certain neat symmetry there.

However, beneath the veneer of classic art lies the grubby, sordid world of politics.

Last weekend, the French president hosted a conference in Paris entitled the International Support Group for Lebanon, whose chief guest was Lebanese premier Saad Hariri. Macron reportedly concluded the summit by saying it was “imperative for foreign powers not to interfere in Lebanese internal affairs”. The implication of that statement was fingering Iran as the culprit of interference through its association with Lebanese coalition government member Hezbollah.

The irony here is that if any country in the region has been guilty of brazenly interfering in Lebanese politics it is Saudi Arabia. Hariri tendered his resignation as prime minister on November 4 after he was summoned to Riyadh by the Saudi rulers who sponsor his Sunni Islam-affiliated political movement in Lebanon. In explaining his surprise resignation, Hariri dramatically and provocatively accused Iran and Hezbollah of plotting to assassinate him.

Hariri has since returned safely to Lebanon and has reversed his earlier resignation announcement. Both Iran and Hezbollah have rejected his claims of intended malice as ridiculous. It seems Hariri was trying to project a well-worn Saudi narrative to criminalize Iran and Hezbollah, whom the hardline Sunni (Wahhabi) Saudi rulers view as “Shia heretics” and regional nemesis – especially after recent military victory in Syria.

Evidently, Hariri is still doing the Saudi rulers’ bidding. Last week before the Paris summit, he told Paris Match in an interview that the Syrian government of Bashar al Assad – an ally of Iran and Hezbollah – wants him dead. He reiterated baseless accusations that Syria had been involved in the assassination of his father Rafic in 2005. The Paris summit a few days later then endorsed Hariri’s demand that Hezbollah, and by extension Iran, must “disassociate” from regional influence. France’s Macron publicly backed this demand.

That brings us to the art of deception. Saudi Arabia’s antagonism against Iran, Hezbollah and Syria is being finessed with French diplomatic sophistry. French President Macron and his foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian are subtly lending credence to Saudi attempts at demonizing Iran and Hezbollah, accusing both for regional instability – when in reality Riyadh and Paris are much more to blame.

Lebanon is only one such instance of Saudi meddling, which is being given a respectable cover by French diplomatic posturing. When Lebanon’s Christian President Michel Aoun and many Lebanese citizens were condemning Saudi rulers for “kidnapping” Hariri during his extraordinary two-week sojourn in Riyadh last month following his resignation, it was France’s Macron who deftly diverted attention from Saudi interference by extending a personal invite to Hariri to visit Paris along with his family. That invitation to Paris for Hariri on November 18 let the Saudis off the hook over claims that they were holding the Lebanese politician under duress.

Another instance of egregious Saudi-French meddling is Syria. The country has been ravaged by a nearly seven-year war that was largely sponsored covertly by Saudi Arabia, France and other NATO allies. That war has only been put to an end by the military intervention of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

In Yemen, the Saudi rulers have devastated the poorest country in the Arab region with a nearly three-year war that has been fueled with massive American, British and French weapons exports. A $3.6 billion arms deal that France signed with Lebanon at the end of 2014 for which the Saudis said they would foot the bill has ended up being diverted to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen, according to L’Observatoire des Armements.

French weapons reportedly include Cougar troop-transport helicopters, Mirage fighter jets, drones, and mid-air refueling tanker planes, which have enabled a Saudi bombing campaign that has been condemned for multiple war crimes from the targeting of thousands of civilians. French weapons also include navy corvettes and patrol boats which have helped enforce the Saudi naval blockade on Yemen. That blockade is inflicting starvation and disease on millions of children.

Given the scope of criminal Saudi-French interference in the region, it is therefore a travesty that these two countries are promoting a narrative seeking to impugn Iran and Hezbollah.

But this travesty is being given credence by an uncritical Western media, and by French President Macron donning an image of a progressive, liberal, cultured politician.

When Macron opened the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi on November 8 he gave a speech in which he eulogized the “beauty of art” being a source of healing power to overcome “discourses of hatred”. He said the museum would “defend beauty, universality, creativity, reason and fraternity”.

This nauseating self-indulgence sounds rather like pretentious French pseudo-philosophy. A load of lofty-sounding cant which seeks to conceal what are brutal French state interests – weapons sales and fueling conflict – as somehow wonderfully benign and enlightened.

The next day, after his “emotive” speech in Abu Dhabi, Macron made a reportedly unscheduled flight to Riyadh to meet the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This was while Lebanese premier Saad Hariri was still in the Saudi capital, apparently being held against his will.

One week later, on November 15, the Da Vinci portrait, ‘Salvator Mundi’, goes on sale at Christie’s auction house in New York. The buyer remained unknown until last week when the New York Times reported that it was Crown Prince MbS who splashed out the $450 million bid. The question is: was the young 32-year-old Saudi despot acting on advice from his cultured French friend Macron, as a way to gain some good international PR? It certainly smacks of orchestration.

Such profligate spending by the Saudi heir comes at an awkward time when he and his ruling clique have arrested some 200 other Saudi royals in a purported crackdown on corruption and graft. The embarrassment seems to have prompted the Saudi rulers to subsequently deny that MbS is the buyer, claiming instead that it was a cousin of the Crown Prince who was acting as an agent for the Louvre in Abu Dhabi to acquire the venerated art piece.

Whatever the truth about the precise buyer of Da Vinci’s ‘Savior of the World’, it seems clear that the French state and the Saudi monarchy are in any case engaged in a cynical image-laundering exercise. They are exploiting high-brow culture and religious sanctity as a way to project an image of civility and beneficence.

Macron in particular is serving as a sophisticated public relations agent for the Saudi rulers, laundering their badly tarnished image. In return, no doubt, Macron is securing lucrative future French arms sales to the Saudis, as well as to the Emiratis. Saudi Arabia is the top export market for France’s weapons industry.

French weapons-dealing with the Saudis is directly responsible for a slaughter of innocents in Yemen and Syria. And at the same time French diplomatic sophistry is covering up for Saudi subversion of Lebanon’s internal affairs. Yet, the Saudis and their French PR President Emmanuel Macron have the audacity to accuse Iran and Hezbollah of regional interference.

That’s the “beauty of art” indeed. The art, that is, of deception.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Lebanon proposes anti-US sanctions over embassy move

Press TV – December 9, 2017

Lebanon’s foreign minister has told an emergency Arab League meeting that imposing economic sanctions should be considered against the US over its embassy relocation move.

“Preemptive measures (must be) taken against the decision… beginning with diplomatic measures, then political, then economic and financial sanctions,” said Gebran Bassil during an Arab Lague meeting held in Cario on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday defied global warnings and said Washington formally recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and would begin the process of moving its embassy to the occupied city, breaking with decades of American policy.

“Could this calamity bring us together and wake us from our slumber? Let it be known that history will never forgive us and our future will not be proud of what we have done,” added Bassil.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit also called on world nations to recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

He added that Trump’s decision raised a question over Washington’s role as a peace mediator, not just in Palestine but the whole world. “The decision amounts to the legalization of occupation,” he added.

“The decision by the US administration is in its essence legitimizing the occupation and admitting and allowing their stance by force. It is a waste of international legitimacy and the principles of justice, and therefore has placed he who took (the decision) in a state of conflict with the collective will of the international community,” he stressed.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki called on members of the league to instruct their UN envoys to submit a draft resolution to Security Council to condemn Trump’s decision, which “betrays its hostility and bias against the Palestinian people.”

He also called on world nations to recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

“I expect from you to commission the Arab block (in the Security council) to immediately act in presenting a draft resolution to the security council that rejects this American decision. We also call upon all Arabs in light of this American decision that challenged, not only Arabs and Muslims, but the world as a whole, to quickly visit Jerusalem, so as not to leave it as a victim to the American decision and Israeli threat,” he added.

Jordanian foreign minister also stressed that there will be no peace and security in the region unless Jerusalem al-Quds is free.

“We want peace as a strategic option, which we demand for all of the region’s peoples completely and indefinitely. However, there will be no peace without a free and independent Palestine, there will be no peace unless Jerusalem is free, and is the capital of Palestine,” said Ayman Al Safadi.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s diplomatic adviser said that Abbas will reject to meet US Vice President Mike Pence during his scheduled visit to the region later in the month.

“There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine… The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision,” he added.

Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in al-Quds continued on Saturday over the Trump administration’s divisive decision.

Palestinian protestors threw objects at Israeli soldiers and set trash cans on fire, while others held guns to the head of an effigy of Trump, before burning it.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi stance against Hezbollah scenario for war on Lebanon: Analyst

Press TV – December 2, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s pressures on the Lebanese government to disarm the Hezbollah resistance movement are part of a scenario to wage war against the country, a former US government adviser says.

In a Friday interview with Press TV, Paul Larudee expressed concern over the implication of the latest remarks by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who accused Hezbollah of “hijacking” Lebanon and called for disarming the resistance movement.

“This is a classic technique of building a case for invasion of any country, and in this case Lebanon. It is set up to make the invader appear like a liberator and to make the defenders of their country appear like the occupiers and the usurpers,” Larudee said.

“It is very worrisome that in fact this is on the table now that they are working up to a war in Lebanon,” he added.

Speaking at an international conference in the Italian capital city of Rome on Friday, Jubeir described the present situation in Lebanon as “tragic” and said, “Lebanon will only survive or prosper if you disarm Hezbollah.”

“As long as you have an armed militia, you will not have peace in Lebanon,” the Saudi foreign minister said.

Hezbollah is Lebanon’s de facto military power, and has been fighting off recurrent acts of Israeli aggression against the homeland. Riyadh, which reportedly maintains clandestine ties with Tel Aviv, however, has made no secret of its opposition to the group, and has been trying for more than a decade to weaken it.

Lebanon has repeatedly praised Hezbollah’s key role in the war against terrorism, with Lebanese President Michel Aoun defending the resistance movement’s possession of arms as essential to Lebanon’s security.

The accusations against the resistance movement come amid Lebanon’s ongoing political crisis.

On November 4, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation during a visit to Saudi Arabia, shocking the nation and plunging it into political uncertainty. He accused Iran and Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world, an allegation rejected by both sides.

Shortly afterwards, President Aoun accused Riyadh of kidnapping Hariri. International heavyweights such as the European Union, France, and Germany also called on the kingdom to let him return.

The Lebanese PM then traveled back to Lebanon, and put his resignation on hold at Aoun’s request in favor of national dialog.

Hariri says he will resign from his position if Hezbollah refuses to remain “neutral” in the regional conflicts.

Sources close to Hariri said he had been forced to step down by the kingdom over his failure to “confront” Hezbollah.

The prime minister was also quoted by Lebanese sources as saying that he would keep to himself what happened in Saudi Arabia, implying that he did not feel free to expose what had actually transpired in the Arab kingdom.

December 2, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hariri Says to Remain Lebanon PM: I Will Keep What Happened in KSA to Myself

Al-Manar | November 28, 2017

Lebanese Premier, Saad Hariri said on Monday he wants to remain Lebanon’s PM, preferring to keep what happened in Saudi Arabia, where he was believed to be held there against his will, to himself.

In an interview with French TV channel CNews, Hariri downplayed talk of his resignation, which he announced from Riyadh, saying that he was “always” the prime minister.

“I want to remain the prime minister of Lebanon and what happened in Saudi Arabia, I will keep to myself,” he said.

“It’s in the interest of Lebanon and other countries for Lebanon to remain stable,” Hariri said.

Asked multiple times whether his decision to announce his resignation in Riyadh was forced, Hariri sidetracked multiple times.

It is believed that Hariri was forced by the Saudi regime to announce his resignation in a bid to topple the Lebanese government. The move was seen by many observers as an attempt aimed against Hezbollah, which is a major partner in the Lebanese government.

Hariri returned to Lebanon in November 21, after President Michel Aoun launched a diplomatic campaign, led by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, in which the president voiced rejection of any interference in Lebanese affairs.

Meanwhile on Monday, Hariri said he would resign from his post if Hezbollah refuses to accept changes to the current status quo, in remarks seen as an attempt to cover up ambiguity which surrounded his previously announced resignation.

“Hezbollah intervened in all Arab countries and [my] resignation sent a positive shock,” Hariri said.

“I am waiting for neutrality in the government and inside Lebanon – not just saying one thing and doing something else,” he added.

However, the Lebanese PM noted that Hezbollah is a regional issue that can’t be solved in Lebanon, but rather through a regional settlement.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 2 Comments

Why Saudi Public Relations Are So Disastrous

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 27.11.2017

What a disastrous past week it’s been for Saudi Arabia’s international public relations. It’s hard to imagine how it could possibly become more ignominious or cringe making for the House of Saud.

But of course, how could it be otherwise? When the oil-rich kingdom is run by a father-and-son clique, cosseted by venal super-wealth, and ruled by patronage, pampered by cowering flunkies. In addition, obsessed with an obscurantist Wahhabi sectarian hatred, and to cap it all, indulged by an ignorant American president who himself shares dynastic family ambitions.

Last week’s roll call of PR disasters included the Syrian peace process getting underway in earnest, in spite of Saudi efforts to derail. Secondly, Lebanon appears to have stabilized politically with the return of its Prime Minister Saad Hariri, again in spite of Saudi attempts to sabotage the government in Beirut. And thirdly, most shamefully, the shocking images of emaciated children in Yemen have shown the world the sickening reality of the Saudi-led blockade on that war-stricken country.

Let’s start with the tale of two summits. While Russian President Vladimir Putin was last week hosting his Syrian, Iranian and Turkish counterparts in the Black Sea city of Sochi in a major diplomatic boost for a peaceful end to the Syrian war, at the same time the Saudi rulers were convening something lackluster and frankly, irrelevant, by comparison.

The Saudis held a summit in Riyadh for the so-called Syrian “opposition” comprising the discredited political talking heads of sundry terror groups that have ravaged Syria for the past nearly seven years. Disgracefully, the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura was present in a vain bid to lend some ersatz credibility to the terrorist apologists.

Putin, and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined political forces to push for a comprehensive peace settlement in Syria “determined by the Syrian people alone without external interference”. Whereas at the Saudi conference of has-been Syrian opposition figures, who have been living a charmed life in exile in Saudi Arabia, there were the tired-old, futile calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit as leader.

With the Syrian War near over and with Assad’s state forces dominant over the foreign-backed insurgents, no-one can take the demand for Assad to stand down as serious. It’s a pipe-dream that the Saudis still keep puffing on. Not even Washington and its NATO allies bother to make this demand seriously any more.

In a nutshell, the Saudi rulers are seen to be left holding the putrid remnants of their defeated regime-change intrigue in Syria.

Moving on to the debacle over Lebanon. Again, Saudi machinations were seen here to have turned pear-shaped. After nearly two weeks of trying to arm-twist Lebanese premier Saad Hariri to resign and thereby collapse the coalition government in Beirut with Shia group Hezbollah, Hariri returned last week to his country.

In the meantime, Lebanon has rallied across sectarian lines to unite against Saudi interference – the exact opposite of what the Saudi rulers were agitating for. The whole Saudi-inspired attempt to sabotage Lebanese politics and even incite a sectarian war in the country has ended up only strengthening the country and in particular elevating Hezbollah as a defender of the nation’s sovereignty.

The Saudi paymaster had wanted Sunni politician Saad Hariri to resign as prime minister. His resignation was broadcast on Saudi television on November 4 after Hariri had been summoned to Riyadh and where he inexplicably stayed for the next two weeks. According to the Saudi-inspired script, Hariri said his life was in danger from an assassination plot by Hezbollah and its Shia ally Iran. Hezbollah and Iran scoffed at that claim as ridiculous. Lebanese President Michel Aoun, from the Christian constituency, also dismissed Hariri’s sensational claims.

Last week when Hariri returned to Lebanon, he abruptly reversed his resignation decision, saying now that he would remain in the prime minister’s post. The bizarre images of Hariri looking relaxed at a military parade in Beirut marking Lebanon’s independence day last Wednesday were a stupendous rebuttal of Saudi-orchestrated fear-mongering that this was a man whose life was purportedly under threat.

The Saudi reckless attempts at destabilizing Lebanon not only spectacularly backfired. Their interference in the sovereign affairs of Lebanon has earned the Saudis the scorn of Lebanese and Arab people across the entire region.

As if those PR cock-ups weren’t bad enough, then the world was shocked by images out of Yemen showing skeletal children starving to death from the Saudi blockade on the country. Also, caught on the hook of Saudi barbarity were the US and Britain which have been supplying the Saudi regime with weapons and logistics in its nearly three-year war on the poorest nation of the Arab region.

The Saudis imposed a total sea, air and land blockade on Yemen on November 6 following a ballistic missile attack near the Saudi capital by Houthi rebels from Yemeni territory. The Houthis say they are taking the war to Saudi Arabia because of the latter’s aerial bombing campaign which has targeted civilians. For the Saudis to respond by imposing collective punishment through a blockade on vital aid entering into Yemen is a gross violation of humanitarian law – a war crime.

Nearly two weeks of this total blockade provoked the UN and other international aid agencies to issue dire warnings that millions of Yemenis are facing starvation. So bad is the international image of the Saudis that the US State Department was motivated to urge its client regime to relent on the suffering it was inflicting. At the end of last week, the Saudi rulers claimed that they were lifting the blockade on Yemen’s airports and sea ports. The UN and aid agencies still said the dubious Saudi lifting of blockade would not alleviate the suffering.

How could any country preside over such a week of horrible public relations? What is it about the Saudi rulers that make them so incorrigibly incompetent, so barbaric and so self-defeating?

Several factors combine to make the Saudi rulers a perfect shit-storm.

The House of Saud is a family-run crony dynasty. That’s not new. But over the past year or so, the present rulers have consolidated absolute power to a father-and-son clique, headed by ailing King Salman (82) and the precocious 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. These scions of intoxicating hyper-wealth live in an ivory tower within an ivory tower.

The Saudi system of governance never had accountability except within its own arcane crony inner-circle. Now it has even less accountability. It’s therefore not hard to imagine how the Saudi rulers are prone to making ever-more foolish foreign policy calculations. The war on Yemen was “masterminded” by the ambitious, insecure Crown Prince trying to prove his mettle, when he probably never had any competence to begin with. The guy probably reads intricate regional politics through the prism of one of his puerile computer games.

Secondly, the Saudi rulers, present and past, are guided by an obsessive sectarian Wahhabi hatred towards Shia Islam. All policy decisions are made out of an irrational abhorrence towards Shia Iran, and any ally of Iran, from Hezbollah to Syria. The reasons for this obsessive hatred are rooted in an obscurantist religious belief that Shia Islam is “heretical”. That antipathy is also fueled by an insecure sense of envy and nemesis that Iran’s relatively progressive politics are more legitimate and appealing to the masses in the Middle East than the feudalist monarchy of the Saudis. In any case, to construct foreign policy relations on the basis of a Medieval-like worldview is inevitably problematic, to say the least, in the 21st Century.

A third reason why the Saudis are so incorrigibly inept is because the rulers are indulged by American and European governments and the Western media. Admittedly, some Western media outlets have belatedly given some coverage to the horror inflicted on Yemen.

Nevertheless, the media coverage is still shamefully muted considering the scale of suffering and crimes perpetrated. We are talking about a genocide unfolding in Yemen imposed by the Saudi rulers with the support of their American and British patrons. Yet in spite of this utter barbarity, Western media remain relatively mute. Contrast the Western media reporting on Yemen with the hysterical coverage they were giving to the Syrian city of Aleppo last year when the Syrian army and Russian forces were moving in to liberate that city from a siege by foreign-backed militants.

Western indulgence of the Saudis – in the form of low-key hypocritical media coverage – emboldens these despots to embark on their reckless and ruinous schemes.

None is more to blame for Western indulgence than the British and American governments who have plied the Saudi regime with billions of dollars-worth of warplanes and bombs over the past three years in the war on Yemen. Despite the evidence of war crimes against civilians, Washington and London maintain the despicable, risible fiction that all is ethical and legal.

Topping the Western indulgence of the Saudi despots is US President Donald Trump and his businessman son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is his unelected “top aide” on Middle Eastern affairs. Every recent PR disaster by the Saudis has been encouraged and approved by Trump who seems to run the White House as if it were a family business dynasty. Both Trump and Kushner are regarded as having very limited knowledge about history and geopolitics. Dumb and Dumber, in short.

Trump’s dispatch of 36-year-old gormless Kushner to delve into Middle East affairs and to pander to the whims of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is certainly a major factor in why the House of Saud keeps making foreign policy like operating a wrecking ball.

When House of Trump pairs up with House of Saud, no wonder then that it’s a super-sized PR fiasco.

November 27, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hariri’s Resignation and More Plans for War

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | November 21, 2017

Undoubtedly the media’s account of Saad Hariri’s ‘forced’ resignation is not the whole story, but how true or untrue is it? As Hariri is a Saudi-US asset, the ‘forced’ resignation seems more like the sacking of a company executive who has not lived up to expectations. Told to step out of office Hariri did what he was told, following through by issuing a Saudi-scripted statement accusing Hezbollah and Iran of sowing discord across the region, and talking of a plot to assassinate him.

In fact, it was Saudi Arabia sowing discord, by blaming Hezbollah and Iran for Hariri’s resignation, with the apparent aim of throwing Lebanon into chaos. Predictably, Netanyahu jumped in immediately, saying the resignation was a call to the ‘international community’ to take action against Iranian aggression but no-one else bought it, not even Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims. Hezbollah reacted calmly and if anyone came out of it badly it was Saudi Arabia.  In the Iranian view the removal of Hariri was a plot cooked up by Trump and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Hariri himself did not return to Lebanon where he could have defied the Saudis and resumed his position but moved on to France, where he was welcomed by President Macron at the Elysee Palace. Soon after talking to Hariri, Macron was on the phone to Trump, discussing the Iranian ‘threat’ and how to deal with it.  According to Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, Hariri told him he would return to Beirut by Independence Day, November 22, marking the end of the French mandate. The Lebanese parties, including Hezbollah, still regard Hariri as the country’s Prime Minister so how all of this plays after Hariri’s return will be interesting to see.

What lies behind all this?  What is the connection between Hariri’s resignation (forced or otherwise) and the other events running concurrently in Saudi Arabia, namely the arrest of some of the most powerful figures in the kingdom and the confiscation of their assets, estimated at about $800 billion?  One has to assume there is a connection. It seems far too much of a coincidence for there not to be one.

The claim that the purge of the princes was part of an anti-corruption drive is bunk, seeing that corruption is intrinsic to how the Saudi government operates, domestically and in its foreign policy.  If corruption is a cover story, why were these princes removed?  Could it be their opposition to Saudi Arabia’s policy failures, in Syria and Yemen, and their opposition to what is now clearly being moved from the drawing board to implementation, a war on Iran, involving the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia?  They would hardly be alone in seeing Crown Prince Muhamad bin Salman as reckless, foolhardy and lethally dangerous to the stability of the Saudi kingdom: his accession to the throne they would regard, literally, as a crowning act of folly.

That another war is on the horizon is clear from all the signals coming out of Israel in the past six months. That not just the US but Saudi Arabia will be part of it is obvious. Intermittently, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been pushing for war on Iran for a decade.  With the US refusing to bite, to the extent of launching an open military attack, Syria was chosen as the next best target: if the government in Damascus could be destroyed, the strategic alliance between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah would collapse at its central arch. This plan B was partly foiled by the refusal of the UN Security Council, thanks to the vetoes of Russia and China, to sanction an aerial war on Syria along the lines of the assault on Libya. Plan C had to come into effect, reliance on a war of attrition fought by takfiri proxies organised, financed and armed mainly by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Britain and France, and coordinated with the assistance of governments ranging from the Balkans to Central Asia.  Seven years later Plan C has now ground to a halt. The ‘axis of reaction’ (the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia) has suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the ‘axis of resistance’ (Iran, Syria and Hezbollah). Russian intervention has been critical, so the victory is Russia’s as well, and a particular humiliation for the US.

This does not end the list of defeats suffered by the ‘axis of reaction.’ Another severe blow has been suffered through the collapse of the Kurdish drive for independence in northern Iraq. Both the US and Israel have assiduously cultivated the Kurds for decades, seeing northern Iraq as a new strategic centre for military and intelligence operations across the Middle East. The US and British ‘no fly’ zone and ‘safe haven’ initiatives of 1990/91 were the first steps in the planned breakup of an Iraq that no longer suited imperial purposes. The invasion of 2003 and the imposition of a constitution dictated by the US, weakening the authority of the central government, led to Kurdish autonomy which, in time, would have been expected to end in independence and a new base for US/Israeli operations across the Middle East.

Even the US was against the referendum called by Masoud Barzani: seeing that it was already getting what it wanted, the referendum would be premature and cause more trouble than it was worth.

This proved to be the case. Turkey and Iran reacted viscerally, ending flights and closing border crossings: the Iraqi army retook Kirkuk and all the territory conquered by the Peshmerga in 2014. Barzani stepped down as president of the KRG: Jalal Talabani, the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), had died only recently, leaving the Kurds leaderless and at each other’s throats over who was responsible for this debacle. Iraq is now being reconstituted as a unitary state. The largely Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) has developed into a powerful annex to the regular army. Moreover, the government in Baghdad has a close working relationship with the government of the Islamic Republic in Tehran.

The paradox of these defeats is that they increase to a critical level the danger of a new attack by the ‘axis of reaction’ on the ‘axis of resistance.’ Russia, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah cannot be allowed to get away with these victories.  The Israeli chief of staff, Gabi Eisenkot, hardly needed to say, as he did recently, that there is ‘complete agreement between us and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’ on the question of Iran’s spreading influence across the Middle East, or ‘control’ of the region as he put it. Unable to impose its will on one of the poorest countries in the world, Yemen, Saudi Arabia would be of little help on the front line in a war against dangerous targets such as Hezbollah and Iran.  But it has money and according to Hasan Nasrallah, has offered to pay Israel billions of dollars for a new war on Hezbollah.

As Israel always has the next war on the drawing board, the central question is ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ it will be launched. In recent months it has held some of the largest-scale land and air exercises in its recent history in preparation for a new war on Hezbollah, including training for fighting in tunnels. It has warned repeatedly over the years that the next time around the ‘Dahiyeh strategy’ will be applied across Lebanon and is busy selling the propaganda package that there really is no Lebanon any more but only a Hezbollah enclave controlled by Iran.

Dahiyeh, of course, is the largely Shia Beirut suburb and urban HQ of Hezbollah that was pulverised from the air in 2006. Given the huge civilian casualties Israel is willing to inflict in the next war, Iran and Syria would be hard pressed to stay out but the moment they intervene, Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia will have their three primal enemies directly in their line of fire. The refusal of the US to withdraw its forces and dismantle its air bases in Syria now that the Islamic State has been ‘defeated’ (if still being used as an American tool) is probably connected with preparation for the coming conflict.

Israel’s existential struggle in the Middle East since 1948 has now reached the point of crisis. Israel may think it has all the time it needs to completely engorge the West Bank but it does not have such a luxury on the regional front. If Iran is stronger now than before the wars on Iraq and Syria, it will be even stronger in two or three years’ time. It has a large standing army, fought an extremely destructive war against Iraq (1980-89), has been deeply involved at the planning and combat level in the defence of Syria and has built up a large arsenal of locally developed short and long-range missiles.

By comparison, Israel has not even fought a regular army since 1973: in 2000 it was driven out of Lebanon by a guerrilla force and when it attempted to retrieve lost ground by launching a new war in 2006 its ground troops proved incapable of taking villages even a few kilometres from the armistice line. Its attacks on Gaza have been onslaughts on a largely defenceless civilian population.

Given that since 1948 its security/insecurity situation has ultimately been based not on diplomacy but on full spectrum military domination from the possession of nuclear weapons down to conventional warfare, Israel cannot allow the current situation of strengthening enemies to continue. Hostile to any kind of diplomatic settlement that would generate a real peace, Israel must go to war. It says it is much stronger and better prepared than in 2006 but so are Hezbollah and Iran. Hezbollah alone has a large stockpile of missiles able to reach any corner of occupied Palestine: Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system will stop some of them but not all.

If it does go to war Israel is certainly going to suffer civilian casualties unprecedented in its history but the politicians and generals around Netanyahu will argue that its existential situation will demand these sacrifices. The US would come in behind Israel, but Russia could not be expected to sit by while its diplomatic alliances and strategic assets in the Middle East are destroyed. The commentator Abd al Bari Atwan has warned that such a war would be the most destructive in the region’s history, developing into a global conflict, and has raised the question of whether Israel, having started it, could survive it. This is a truly apocalyptic scenario.

As usual the Palestinians find themselves caught in the middle. Mahmud Abbas is being told to go along with the Trump-Kushner-Israel ‘peace initiative’ or else, even by Saudi Arabia. This would involve Abbas publicly sharing the anti-Iranian, anti-Hezbollah and anti-Shia views of the Saudis at a time he is engaged in a reconciliation process with Hamas, which has refused to take a stand against Hezbollah. Furthermore, several of its senior leaders have recently been in Tehran.  For the moment all eyes are on Hariri as he returns to Beirut: how will he explain himself, will he resume his position as Prime Minister and on what terms?

November 26, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nasrallah: US did what it could to help Daesh in Syria’s Bukamal

Press TV – November 20, 2017

The secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says despite the US claims about fighting terrorism, it spared no effort to help Daesh forces in the Syrian town of al-Bukamal.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the remarks in a televised address to the Lebanese nation in capital city of Beirut on Monday.

Nasrallah noted that recapturing Bukamal was a major victory over Daesh, because Bukamal was the last Syrian city occupied by Daesh.

“The US helped Daesh as much as it could in Bukamal short of directly engaging forces that fought to liberate the town from Daesh,” the Hezbollah leader noted.

Nasrallah went on to note that the US provided Daesh terrorists with full air cover in Bukamal.

The US sent its drones to Bukamal and provided Daesh with accurate information about what was going on, Nasrallah said, adding that American forces also waged electronic warfare against forces that were fighting to liberate Bukamal.

American forces also provided air transfer for Daesh commanders and facilitated their escape to eastern shores of the Euphrates, he said. The Hezbollah leader stated that even Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the US for helping Daesh.

Nasrallah emphasized that recapturing Bukamal led to unity of Syria and ended Daesh’s self-proclaimed state in the country.

Following recent victories in Iraq and Syria, he added, the military structure of Daesh collapsed in the two countries and Iraqi forces have reached the Syrian border.

Hezbollah leader noted that the victory over Daesh was victory of Islamic values over terrorists’ savagery.

Nasrallah also highlighted the role played by Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Quds Force Major General Qassem Soleimani in anti-terror operations in both Iraq and Syria.

He noted that Soleimani was commanding anti-Daesh operations in the two countries at the frontline and was never a commander to issue orders from behind the lines.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah referred to the latest meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, who designated the Lebanese Hezbollah as a terrorist group, saying that this was not the first time that such accusations were leveled against Hezbollah.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmad Aboul Gheit announced at a press conference in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Sunday that Arab states had agreed to designate Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement a “terrorist organization.”

The Arab League’s extraordinary general meeting on Sunday was held at the request of Saudi Arabia, which has assumed an aggressive stance against Hezbollah for its alleged links to Iran, Riyadh’s powerful rival in the region. Riyadh associates Hezbollah with Iran and has been trying to weaken the resistance movement, which is Lebanon’s de facto deterrent force against Tel Aviv.

In its concluding resolution, the Arab League announced that Arab foreign ministers, excluding those of Lebanon and Iraq, would hold Hezbollah responsible for supporting “terrorist groups” across the region.

Nasrallah said the Arab League statement has labeled Hezbollah’s council, which is part of the Lebanon’s government, as a terrorist outfit, alleging that it provides missiles to terrorist groups in the region.

He added that accusations about Hezbollah sending missiles to regional countries were false and undocumented, emphasizing that the group has never sent any missiles or even light weapons to Kuwait, Yemen, Iraq or Bahrain or any other country in the region.

The leader of Hezbollah went on to say that the Arab League has warned Lebanon that if Hezbollah is not disarmed, security of the country would be in jeopardy.

Hezbollah rejected the accusation, noting that the main threat to security of Lebanon was the Zionist regime of Israel.

He added that the resistance front’s weapons were the main factor restoring security and stability to Lebanon, because they were used for defensive purposes in the face of the Israeli aggression.

Nasrallah emphasized that Hezbollah’s weapons were used only against terrorist groups such as Daesh and posed no threat to security of Lebanon.

A United Nations Security Council-appointed panel says it has seen no evidence to support Saudi Arabia’s claims that missiles have been transferred to Yemen’s Houthis by external sources.

Nasrallah stated that the main reason behind the recent Arab League meeting was not to discuss the issue of Palestine or other problems facing the Islamic world, but its main reason was the recent missile attack against a Saudi airport near the country’s capital, Riyadh.

Refusing Saudi Arabia and Arab League claims that the missile was provided to Yemeni Ansarullah fighters by Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah, Nasrallah said Iran or Hezbollah had not sent any missiles to Yemen and Yemeni forces made their own missiles in the country.

He categorically rejected Arab League’s claims in this regard, noting that Saudi Arabia and its allies must admit that they have been defeated by Yemeni forces in their war of aggression against the country.

Nasrallah emphasized that Arab countries must put an immediate end to their support for terror groups, and do not fill the Middle East region with such outfits.

He reiterated that no member of Hezbollah was involved in the November 5 Yemeni missile strike against King Khalid International Airport of Riyadh.

The Hezbollah leader then took the Arab League to task for failing to address Saudi Arabia’s devastating aerial bombardment of the “Arab country of Yemen,” saying, “Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemeni people day and night.”

Strongly denouncing the Riyadh regime over perpetrating outrageous atrocities against millions of “Arab Muslims” in Yemen, Nasrallah lashed out at the Arab world’s “deafening silence” over the grim situation in Yemen.

“The turmoil we are witnessing in the Arab world is a cover for the announcement of normalization of relations with Israel,” he commented.

Nasrallah then called on Arabs to do their best to maintain their national unity in the face of all divisive efforts.

The Hezbollah secretary general also praised Lebanese officials and politicians for their firm stance regarding Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s shock resignation, calling on him to return to Lebanon as soon as possible.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanon has right to resist, foil Israeli plans: Aoun

Lebanese President Michel Aoun
Press TV – November 20, 2017

Lebanese President Michel Aoun says his nation has the absolute “right to resist and foil” Israel’s aggressive plans by “all available means” as Tel Aviv continues “targeting” the Mediterranean country.

President Aoun made the remarks via his official Twitter account on Monday, a day after Arab League Secretary-General Ahmad Aboul Gheit announced at a press conference in the Egyptian capital of Cairo that Arab states had agreed to designate Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement a “terrorist organization.”

Being a member of Lebanon’s coalition government, the popular Hezbollah movement, which currently holds 14 of the 128 seats at the parliament of Lebanon, has been a strong aid to the Lebanese army in thwarting any Israeli aggression against the country. Back in 2000, the resistance movement successfully forced Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah is also playing a major role in fighting against foreign-backed Takfiri terrorist groups, which have been wreaking havoc in neighboring Syria for the last six years.

The Arab League’s extraordinary general meeting on Sunday was held at the request of Saudi Arabia, which has assumed an aggressive stance against Hezbollah for its alleged links to Iran, Riyadh’s powerful rival in the region. Riyadh associates Hezbollah with Iran and has been trying to weaken the resistance movement, which is Lebanon’s de facto deterrent force against Tel Aviv.

In its concluding resolution, the Arab League announced that Arab foreign ministers, excluding those of Lebanon and Iraq, would hold Hezbollah responsible for supporting “terrorist groups” across the region.

Furthermore, it also blamed the Lebanese government for aiding and supporting the resistance group, accusing Beirut of being an accomplice to what Hezbollah is doing.

However, in a separate tweet on Monday, Aoun strongly defended Hezbollah, saying he “cannot accept suggestions that Lebanon’s government is a partner in acts of terrorism.”

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says he refused to list Hezbollah as a terror group as it is a “fundamental component of the Lebanese state.”

The accusations leveled by Saudi-dominated Arab League against Hezbollah echoes exactly what Israel alleges against the resistance movement, strongly suggesting Riyadh is trying hard to help the Israeli entity by weakening Hezbollah.

The developments came some two weeks after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his shock resignation in a televised address aired from the Saudi capital, shortly after he arrived there for a visit, repeating the same accusations against Hezbollah. After resigning, Hariri spent two more weeks in Saudi Arabia amid rumors he was under house arrest there, before traveling to Paris on Saturday.

After meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Hariri promised to be in Lebanon in time to mark its independence day on Wednesday. His awkward decision, however, has already plunged the country into political turmoil.

Meanwhile, the Arab League’s head said that Lebanon should be “spared” from spiraling regional tensions after arriving in Beirut to meet with Aoun.

“Arab countries understand and take into account the situation in Lebanon and want to spare it … from any dispute,” said Aboul Gheit.

Hamas slams Arab League for terrorist labeling of Hezbollah

Later on Monday, Palestinian Hamas movement slammed Arab League for labeling Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

A statement released by the Gaza-based Hamas said it “rejects the description of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement as terrorist.”

The Palestinian movement added that instead of Hezbollah, Israel’s actions against Palestinians should be labeled “terrorism.”

Hamas also called on Arab states to “support the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people,” urging them to work together to solve their differences through dialogue.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

France’s Macron Covers for Saudi Aggression

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 20.11.2017

France’s invitation to beleaguered Lebanese premier Saad Hariri for him and his family to spend “a few days in Paris” has been viewed as French President Emmanuel Macron stepping in with deft soft power to resolve tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

Less charitably, what Macron is really doing is giving cynical cover to the Saudi rulers for their extraordinary acts of aggression towards Lebanon and their violation of that country’s sovereignty.

Two of Hariri’s children were left in Saudi capital Riyadh while he visited France over the weekend. Were they being used as hostages by the Saudis to ensure that Hariri maintains the Saudi spin on events? Certainly, the arrangement raises suspicions, but the French president sought instead to affect a “normal” nothing-is-unusual appearance.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun last week publicly accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri in Riyadh against his will. Aoun said the Saudi rulers were violating international law by detaining Hariri and forcing his resignation as prime minister of Lebanon. Such acts were tantamount to aggression, said President Aoun.

Yet Macron has said nothing about Saudi interference. He has instead turned reality on its head by censuring Iran for regional “aggression” and thereby backing Saudi claims that Iran is supplying ballistic missiles to Yemen. Iran swiftly condemned Macron for “stoking regional tensions”.

Credit goes to President Aoun for speaking out plainly, telling it like it is and expressing what many Lebanese citizens and many other observers around the world have concluded. The whole debacle is an outrageous affront to Lebanon and international law by the Saudi rulers, when it is taken into consideration Hariri’s hasty summoning to Saudi capital Riyadh earlier this month, his subsequent televised resignation speech on Saudi TV, and his long-delayed sojourn in that country. What is even more despicable is that the Saudi interference in the sovereign affairs of Lebanon is threatening to re-ignite a civil war within the small Mediterranean country, and, possibly worse, a war across the region with Iran.

Hariri has claimed in a later media interview, held in Saudi Arabia, and in reported communications with family and friends who are back in Lebanon that he was not under duress while staying in Saudi Arabia. That claim beggars belief given the bizarre circumstances of Hariri’s sudden departure and his protracted nearly two-week stay in Saudi Arabia.

In any case, the president of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, has concluded that something is badly amiss in the saga, and he has explicitly accused Saudi rulers of violating his country’s sovereignty.

Therefore, if there were any principle or adherence to international law, the actions of Saudi Arabia should be condemned categorically by the international community, the UN, the European Union and France in particular owing to its historic relations with Lebanon as the former colonial power before independence in 1943.

But no. What we have instead are either shameful silence from Washington, or mealy-mouthed statements from the EU. The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a vague statement warning against “foreign interference” in the affairs of Lebanon. What kind of cowardly circumlocution is that?

Lebanon’s prime minister Saad Hariri was, in effect, detained by Saudi Arabia and forced to tender his resignation from public office as a matter of ultimatum. It has been reliably reported that the Wahhabi Saudi rulers were exasperated with the Shia group Hezbollah being part of the coalition government in Beirut. Hariri is a Saudi-sponsored Sunni politician who is antagonistic to Hezbollah and by extension, Iran. But apparently, he was not sufficiently hostile, in the view of his Saudi backers. Hence, Hariri was summoned to Riyadh and ordered to resign on November 4. (The defeat of the Saudi-sponsored covert terror war in Syria no doubt was a factor too in the timing.)

France’s President Macron is playing a particularly slippery game of pandering and expedience towards the Saudi despots.

As the Washington Post’s WorldView briefing reported last week: “French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters that it was important to dispel the implication that Hariri was a Saudi prisoner.”

The newspaper goes on to quote Macron saying rather vacuously: “We need to have leaders who are free to express themselves. It’s important that [Hariri] is able to advance the political process in his country in the coming days and weeks.”

The question should be asked: why is it important for Macron to “dispel the implication that Hariri was a Saudi prisoner”?

From virtually all accounts, including that of Lebanese President Michel Aoun whose view should surely be paramount here, that is exactly what Hariri was made by the Saudis – a prisoner.

Three days before his summoning to Riyadh and his scripted resignation speech on November 4 – in which Hariri claimed with incredible drama that he was in danger of an assassination plot by Hezbollah and its ally Iran – it was reported that Hariri was having dinner with the French culture minister in Beirut. During their meal, he received a phone call. His demeanor darkened, and he immediately departed from the table for a flight to Riyadh. Without the company of aides, Hariri was met on his arrival by Saudi officials who took his mobile phone from him. He was not greeted by senior Saudi rulers like Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which would have been customary diplomatic protocol.

Everything about the next two weeks of Hariri’s stay in Saudi Arabia signals a de facto detention against his will. Admittedly, he made a brief flight to the United Arab Emirates during the time period, which was claimed by the Saudis to be proof of his free movement. The UAE rulers are closely aligned with the House of Saud, and besides Hariri was soon back in his Riyadh residence, from where he continued to tweet to friends that he was “fine”.

This is nothing but a sham. The stark facts are that Saudi Arabia has brazenly interfered in the internal affairs of Lebanon, trying to force its prime minister to step down. Furthermore, the Saudi rulers have accused Lebanon of “acts of war” by allegedly supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen; the Saudis have also ordered their nationals to leave Lebanon; and there are reports emerging of the Saudis now pushing to suspend Beirut from the Arab League. This is reckless incendiary behavior by the Saudi rulers.

Should we be surprised though? Saudi Arabia has shown absolute criminal disregard for international law over its bombing and genocidal blockade of Yemen, where humanitarian aid groups have warned that 50,000 children may die this year due to enforced deprivation from the nearly three-year American and British-backed Saudi war on Yemen.

The absolute Saudi monarchy has also gone on an internal rampage of arresting its own government ministers and other businessmen in an audacious power-grab under the guise of “an anti-corruption drive”. Moreover, Saudi rulers have been instrumental in organizing a legally dubious trade and diplomatic blockade of Qatar over trumped claims that the latter is a stooge for Iran and singularly supporting terrorists (this from the Saudis who have bankrolled terrorist proxies to overthrow the government in Syria.)

The criminality and rogue conduct of Saudi Arabia is legion and brazenly in your face.

That is why the so-called “international community”, the UN, Washington, the European Union, and France in particular are deserving of withering censure. Their mealy-mouthed muted statements on Saudi misconduct towards Lebanon are a disgrace. They are complicit in wanton lawlessness by their pandering to Saudi despots.

But France’s Emmanuel Macron has emerged as the prime disgrace. His invitation to Saad Hariri and his family to come to France is a cynical move to give cover to the Saudi despots. Tellingly, on the announcement of the invitation, Macron said that “it was not an offer of exile”. That’s Macron making it all sugary nice as pie.

On Friday, the day before Hariri arrived in Paris, Macron actually accused Iran of “aggression” and has called for sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile defense program. So, Macron, sneakily, is giving the Saudi narrative succor, and blaming Iran, instead of condemning Riyadh for its flagrant interference and aggression.

Again, by inviting Hariri to Paris, Macron is indulging the Saudi-Hariri charade that all is “normal” – when in reality the sordid shenanigans over the past two weeks amount to an outrageous and very grave violation of international law and of a neighboring country’s sovereignty by the Saudis.

With this kind of cynical “diplomacy”, Macron is showing that France is far from capable of having any leadership role or moral authority in the Middle East or the world.

Of course, France’s vested economic interests with the Saudi despots, from arms sales to energy and infrastructure projects, are central to Macron’s expedient calculations.

Macron’s ambitions of engendering some kind of renaissance of France as a global power are futile and nothing but sheer vanity. The cowardice of the French president in the face of Saudi aggression towards Lebanon shows that Macron and his pretensions of “global power” are a puff of cheap cosmetic powder.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran: Saudi-drafted Arab League statement full of lies, worthless

Press TV – November 20, 2017

The spokesman of Iran’s Foreign Ministry has described as “worthless” the closing statement of the latest Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo, emphasizing that the statement was “full of lies and distortions.”

“In line with the policies of the Zionist regime [of Israel] to intensify differences in the region and to divert [the attention of] Muslim nations and states away from the continued occupation of Palestine as the main issue of the Islamic Ummah, Saudi Arabia has succeeded through pressure as well as extensive political and propagandistic hue and cry to have a statement that is full of lies and distortions be issued in the name of foreign ministers of the Arab League,” Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.

On Sunday, the Arab League foreign ministers held an extraordinary general meeting in the Egyptian capital at the request of Saudi Arabia. At the end of the meeting, the participants issued a statement accusing Iran of interfering in the internal affairs of the countries in the region and pursuing aggressive policies against Arab states.

Qassemi dismissed the resolution as “worthless” and urged Saudi Arabia to “immediately end its savage aggression” against the Yemeni Arab people so that the Yemeni civilians, particularly women and children, would no longer be affected by the “flames of their spite.”

Iran also calls on Saudi Arabia to stop its policy of exerting pressure on Lebanon, Qatar and the entire Middle East and allow the Bahraini people to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis in the country by removing its forces there, he said.

Qassemi said Iran’s policy was to boost good relations with regional countries, adding that the Islamic Republic had made great efforts to counter terrorism and help resolve regional crises by actively participating in several rounds of peace talks in the Kazakh capital city of Astana on the Syrian conflict and presenting a peace plan for Yemen.

The Iranian spokesperson emphasized that the solution to the regional problems was not to issue such worthless statements but to stop following the policies of the Israeli regime, put an end to bullying and terrorism and accept the demands of regional nations and states.

Saudi policies root cause of regional, world instability: Deputy FM

Meanwhile, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari also on Monday criticized the Arab League statement and said Saudi Arabia’s policies were the root cause of insecurity and instability in the region and the world.

“Saudi Arabia must stop pursuing the Zionist regime’s policies through causing escalation of differences and conflicts in the region and providing extensive support for terrorism and extremism,” Jaberi Ansari added.

He emphasized that regional crises would never be resolved through making false claims, distorting evident realities and publishing statements under the pressure of Saudi Arabia.

The Iranian official urged Riyadh to end its interference in and pressure on Qatar, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria as well as the use of terrorism and extremism as a means.

The Saudi-drafted Arab League’s statement came on the same day that Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz for the first time revealed that Tel Aviv had covert contacts with Saudi Arabia.

“We have ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries and usually [we are] the party that is not ashamed,” Steinitz said in an interview on Army Radio on Sunday.

He added that Saudi Arabia was the side that was interested in hiding its ties with Israel and Tel Aviv had no problem with this.

November 20, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment