Supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have stormed Baghdad’s highly fortified, US established Green Zone, also home to the US Embassy, uninvited, the biggest in the world.
All staff of the Japanese, French, British, Australian, Jordanian, Emirates and Saudi Arabia Embassies have moved in to into the American Embassy, it is being reported.
Entrances have been reported sealed and tight security imposed to protect the Iraq Central Bank and other government banks, says an unconfirmed report. However, the Guardian contradicts stating that: “A guard at a checkpoint said the protesters had not been searched before entering. About ten members of the armed group loyal to Sadr were checking protesters cursorily while government security forces who usually conduct careful searches with bomb-sniffing dogs stood by the side.”
Moreover: “Rudaw TV showed protesters chanting and taking selfies inside the parliament chamber where moments earlier MPs had been meeting.”
As Al Jazeera explains: “It is the climax of weeks of political turmoil in Iraq that has seen MPs hold a sit-in, brawl in the parliament chamber and seek to sack the speaker, stalling Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s efforts to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats.”
The further chaos comes just two days after US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad in a situation so chaotic for the US’ puppet government that as the New York Times described it (28th April 2016) “… the political situation in Iraq has become so fluid that Mr. Biden’s team has sometimes been unsure whether officials he planned to meet with would still be in office when he arrived.”
America’s fortress Green Zone has been breached with thousands of protestors breaking in, with one shouting: “You are not staying here! This is your last day in the Green Zone”, according to Al Jazeera who reported that in Parliament: “… some rioters rampaged through the building and broke into offices, while other protesters shouted: “peacefully, peacefully” and tried to contain the destruction …”
Barbed wire was pulled across the road leading to the Green Zone exits: “preventing some scared lawmakers from fleeing the chaos.”
The hated US imposed and fortified Zone – which was simply central Baghdad for all to wander under Saddam Hussein has finally been breached after thirteen years. Where another period of chaos will end, who knows, but meanwhile diplomats cower in the US Embassy, as factions Iraqis patience finally runs out over the tragedy and disaster that is the US and UK’s illegally imposed “New Iraq.”
“Iraqis are very quick to revolt”, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Tareq Aziz, told me in an interview before the invasion, listing the years and the fate of those the uprisings had been against. The decimation since has delayed a further one, but it seems it’s time has arrived.
As for the outcome, updates follow. As we have wondered before in these columns, Embassy roof time for the residents and guests of the US Ambassador – again? Vietnam’s spectre hovers?
By Brandon Turbeville | Activist Post | April 28, 2016
As Saudi war crimes and crimes against humanity continue apace in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is now apparently attempting to gain public support and better reception from the viewing audience by painting itself as an enemy of al-Qaeda and ISIS, despite the fact that the feudal monarchy’s reputation for supporting these very same terror organizations has been documented time and again. From Syria and Libya to Yemen, Saudi Arabia has proven itself repeatedly as a funder, organizer, and supporter of ISIS and al-Qaeda while, at home, it has demonstrated that its own government and ISIS are more alike than they are different.
Still, Saudi Arabia is attempting to show that it is, in fact, the enemy of al-Qaeda by issuing claims that the Saudi “coalition” in Yemen has recently fought a large scale battle against the terror organization and that it was able to capture the city of Mukalla after killing around 800 terrorists.
As AFP reports,
Yemeni troops backed by Arab coalition air strikes killed more than 800 members of al-Qaida in an attack on a southeastern provincial capital held by the group for the past year, the coalition said Monday.
Pro-government forces recaptured an oil terminal as well as the city of Mukalla, which was considered a jihadist stronghold, military sources said.
“The operation resulted… in the death of more than 800 al-Qaida members and some of their leaders, while some others fled,” Arab coalition commanders said in a statement published by SPA, the official Saudi news agency.
AFP notes, however, that the death toll cannot be independently verified and pointed out that no civilian deaths were reported. This latter detail is most questionable to say the least.
What is interesting is that the alleged operation is part of another alleged operation “aimed at securing parts of the country captured by jihadist militants who have exploited a 13-month war between Gulf-backed loyalists and rebels supported by Iran.” The operation itself takes place alongside the UN-brokered ceasefire was enacted on April 11 where jihadist groups are excluded.
What is even more interesting, however, is the description provided by “military officer” sources quoted by the AFP as to the nature of the battle for Mukalla.
As AFP reports,
“We entered the city centre (of Mukalla) and were met by no resistance from Al-Qaeda militants who withdrew west” towards the vast desert in Hadramawt and Shabwa provinces, a military officer told AFP by phone from the city the jihadists seized last April.”
The officer, who requested anonymity, said residents of Mukalla, home to an estimated 200,000 people, had appealed to the jihadists to spare the city the destruction of fighting and to withdraw. Yemeni military sources said Emirati military vehicles were used in the operation and that troops from the Gulf country, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, were among the forces that entered Mukalla.
AFP could not immediately confirm these reports from officials in the United Arab Emirates.
While it was reported that the coalition members had conducted airstrikes against “AQAP positions” in Yemen, it is important to note that coalition forces admittedly met no resistance when entering Mukalla. Putting aside the fact that the Yemeni people would scarcely be able to tell the difference between AQAP and Saudi Arabian control of their country to begin with, at what point did the Saudis kill 800 AQAP members? Was it in the alleged and unconfirmed airstrikes which apparently kill only terrorists but no civilians?
Is it not extremely convenient that Saudi forces would bomb Yemen back into the Stone Age, allow AQAP to gain vast amounts of territory against Houthi, rebel, and government forces in the process and then retake it from them “without any resistance” shortly after a ceasefire agreement is made that does not include AQAP?
Was the Saudi bombing merely an act of death squad herding or was the Saudi bombing never aimed at AQAP at all? Were the casualties actually civilians simply labeled as terrorists for propaganda purposes? Was there actually a bombing campaign?
What kind of military operation kills 800 militants while, at the same time, faces no resistance from those militants?
All of these questions are relevant and must be asked of any reports suggesting Saudi military action against AQAP in Yemen. While it is impossible to draw concrete conclusions based on the reports currently circulating throughout Western media, considering the nature of the Saudi involvement and their history of supporting terrorism across the world, one must question their motives as well as any claims made by the Saudi government.
Al-Mukalla is a strategic city in the Abyan Governate, a very important territorial gain since it provides access to the coast.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Turkey exercises a “decisive influence” on the so-called opposition group High Negotiations Committee (HNC) which is in peace talks with the Damascus government.
Lavrov made the remarks on Monday while commenting on the progress of the latest round of negotiations between the Syrian government and HNC, which began in Geneva on April 13.
Syria peace talks are going on despite the absence of the Saudi-backed opposition as the group’s leaders left the talks on April 19 to protest at what they called escalating violence and restrictions on humanitarian access in Syria.
A ceasefire, brokered by Russia and the US, went into effect on February 27 across Syria. Fighting, however, picked up and left the truce in tatters. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed on a six-month deadline for drafting a new constitution for the Arab country in line with the proposal of the International Syria Support Group.
“In order to come to terms over six months it is necessary not to slam the door and dig in heels, as several delegates of the so-called Riyadh group have done, Lavrov said, adding that “it’s no secret” that Turkey has a “decisive influence” on them.
“So one should not come for talks with ultimatums but should sit down at the negotiating table and reach an agreement,” Lavrov added, noting that the situation at the UN-brokered talks could have been better if HNC had not left Geneva.
The top Russian diplomat also said that Moscow was preparing a report for the UN Security Council to extend the list of terrorist groups in Syria.
“We are currently collecting information that Jebhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) subjugates groups that seemed to have declared truce and readiness to join ceasefire,” Lavrov said, adding, “We will summarize facts and present them to [the] UN Security Council to adjust terrorist lists.”
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Damascus says Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are the main supporters of the militants fighting the government forces.
According to UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, some 400,000 people have lost their lives as a result of over five years of conflict in Syria.
In a remarkable spectacle of money-grubbing over arms deals, this month saw a parade of Western leaders jettisoning any pretense of upholding vaunted “liberal values” to court despotic Mideast regimes.
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister who sent liberal hearts aflutter when he was elected in November, with his espousal of feminism among other progressive causes, is the latest Western leader to show where real priorities lie. Trudeau signed off on an $11 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to export armored vehicles to the blood-soaked repressive regime.
With astounding cynicism, the 44-year-old Canadian premier said he was duty-bound to fulfill the arms contract drawn up by the previous administration as “a matter of principle” in order to demonstrate that his country’s “word means something in the international community.”
This week also saw US President Barack Obama in Saudi Arabia where he glad-handed King Salman and other Gulf monarchs, lauding them as partners in maintaining regional stability and fighting against terrorism. Conspicuously, Obama made little or no mention of human rights violations in the oil-rich kingdom where mass beheadings are a common method of capital punishment.
Western media talked about “strained relations” between Obama and his Saudi hosts. But underlying the superficial optics it was business as usual. Big business. US military affairs publication Defense One reported that high on Obama’s agenda was securing a $13 billion contract for warships and submarine-hunting helicopters with the House of Saud.
Before Obama touched down in Riyadh, his administration had angered American families by announcing that it would veto a bill going through Congress that could enable relatives of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue the Saudi rulers for their alleged involvement in sponsoring that atrocity. The topic didn’t even arise for discussion during Obama’s visit, indicating the president’s real concerns in meeting the Saudi and other Gulf rulers.
France has also nabbed market share from Western rivals in the Persian Gulf where over the past year Paris has sold billions of dollars’ worth of its Rafale fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Similar prevarication over human rights is brazenly shown by the British government of David Cameron in its arms dealing with Saudi Arabia and the wider region. The Saudi-led war in Yemen has been a boon for British sales of bombs and missiles, even though as many as 9,000 Yemenis have been killed over the past year, many of them civilians from aerial bombing by Saudi warplanes.
Britain’s foreign minister, Philip Hammond, has dismissed condemnations by human rights groups in regard to Yemen, claiming that British weapons exports meet tough standards of international law. Britain, like Canada and other Western governments, makes the cynical claim that its military exports are not used for “internal repression” and that if it is proven that weapons are being used to kill civilians in Yemen then trade licenses will be canceled.
So what is Saudi Arabia dropping on Yemen? Cuddly British-made toys?
Duplicity of Western governments doing business with despotic regimes is nothing new. The Middle East’s absolute monarchs have long been a staple of American and other Western so-called “defense industries.” In 2010, the Obama administration signed a $60 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia – the biggest in US history.
During the 1980s, Britain under Margaret Thatcher won a comparable mammoth contract with Saudi Arabia known as the Yamamah deal.
Massive arms sales to tyrannical regimes give the real meaning to hackneyed euphemisms spouted by the likes of Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Trudeau, when they cite “regional partners for stability.” What they mean by stability is uninterrupted orders for weapons.
What is new, though, is the lack of discretion in how the West now pursues arms deals in the Mideast.
Western governments are apparently falling over themselves to bid for business. Yet this unseemly rush for arms selling is sharply at odds with not only intensifying repression within Middle Eastern “partner” regimes; it has also become abundantly clear that some of these same regimes are directly responsible for sponsoring terrorism in the region. The case of Saudi Arabia and its sponsorship of Wahhabi terror proxies in Syria, Libya and Iraq is perhaps the most glaring.
Part of the burgeoning Western race for arms business is related to the historical demise of their capitalist economies and the emergence of military industries as key components in whatever remains of gutted manufacturing sectors.
No doubt, critics will point out that Russia is also a major arms supplier to Middle Eastern regimes. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia is indeed a prominent weapons exporter to the region and globally.
However, there is an important distinction. Western governments never cease to proclaim democracy, human rights and international law as foundational policies. Washington, London, Paris and so on continually invoke such rights as criteria by which they sanction, censure and even invade other countries to ostensibly uphold.
What is therefore more transparent than ever from Western countries soliciting arms deals in the Middle East is their shameless, sordid hypocrisy.
That Canada’s fresh face of “liberal values,” Justin Trudeau, has joined the throng of Western leaders cutting deals with tyrants and dictators just goes to show how cosmetic Western noble pretensions are.
Why should citizens in these countries believe anything that their governments tell them on any issue? Their governments all too evidently do not have a scrap of integrity or principle.
Official Western treachery, duplicity and hypocrisy have become a chronic condition that is no longer veiled by lofty rhetoric, as it once was. So-called liberal values are being stabbed in the back – left, right and center.
Forces loyal to Saudi-backed ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Emirati troops have reportedly overrun Mukalla after al-Qaeda militants left the seaport in southeast Yemen.
Reuters quoted residents as saying that local clerics and tribesmen negotiated with al-Qaeda to exit quietly and that militants withdrew Sunday westward to neighboring Shabwa province.
They said there was no fighting after Saudi-backed units mobilized their forces at Mukalla’s suburbs. However, the official Saudi news agency SPA claimed on Monday that more than 800 al-Qaeda members had been killed.
Around 2,000 pro-Hadi and Emirati troops reportedly advanced into Mukalla, home to an estimated 200,000 people, taking control of its maritime port and airport and setting up checkpoints.
Mukalla has been the center of a rich mini-state that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) built up over the past year. The group took control of an almost 600-km (370-mile) band of Arabian Sea coastline.
Once faded into irrelevance, AQAP has gone from strength to strength in Yemen since Saudi Arabia began its ferocious military campaign against the impoverished neighbor.
Al-Qaeda and other Takfiri groups such as Daesh have become stronger as Houthis – their arch enemy in Yemen – have come under the heaviest Saudi attacks for more than a year.
The Rai al-Youm newspaper on Monday pointed out that Saudi Arabia had supplied weapons to al-Qaeda militants in the Abyan and Hadhramaut to confront Houthi fighters.
The paper, edited by prominent Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan, wrote that Saudi Arabia had decided to retake Mukalla from al-Qaeda in the face of rising criticism in the West of the fallout of the invasion.
The decision was also linked to a US congressional motion to hold the Saudi ruling family accountable for potential roles in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it added.
Pro-Saudi forces, however, retreated from Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province in south Yemen, after they entered it on Saturday night.
A bomb-laden vehicle exploded Sunday killing seven pro-Hadi militants who had launched an offensive with the help of Saudi air power.
“The withdrawal was decided following information that al-Qaeda was preparing other car-bomb attacks against our troops,” AFP quoted a pro-Hadi officer as saying.
The alleged recapture of Mukalla coincided with UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait after a ceasefire entered into effect on April 11, but from which Takfiri groups are excluded.
There was no immediate official reaction to the reports from Houthis and their allies who are to hold their fifth day of peace talks on Monday in a bid to end 13 months of war.
More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since Saudi Arabia launched its airstrikes against Yemen last March.
U.S. government hypocrisy is, as most everyone knows, boundless. It’s also utterly transparent. Our public officials evidently see no shame in belying their professions of benign intent with awesome malevolence and destruction. After all, there’s always the doctrine of American Exceptionalism to justify the unjustifiable. Take for instance Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign, or “drone war” in media-speak. It is now common knowledge (among the mildly informed, anyway) that said campaign is only nominally discriminate, and furthermore essentially pointless, assuming its point is not to foster Islamic extremism. Last year, leaked government documents confirmed what was already suspected: most of those killed by Barry O’s drone fleet are unidentified people who happen to be standing near the intended target, who for one reason or another (we’re not allowed to know) was selected for summary execution.
What is the effect of this policy? It’s not difficult to figure out. Let’s suppose for a moment that these remote control airstrikes really were “surgical”—that they didn’t result in dead civilians. It would still be an exercise in futility. Wiping out a single jihadist, no matter his rank, doesn’t eliminate his position: he can and will be replaced. Would it disrupt the relevant cell’s operation? Does it matter? Disrupt it enough and it will splinter, and now you’ve got two cells instead of one, and perhaps the new one is more monstrous than the original. ISIS, let’s remember, was first an al-Qaeda franchise. The latter group, whose side we’ve taken against Syria’s elected president, now seems like the “JV team” (credit to Obama for the awkward analogy) to the former’s Varsity. Needless to say, U.S. foreign policy, in its liberal interventionist form, facilitated the rise and expansion of ISIS; the group that now, according to most Republicans, presents the gravest threat to our national security.
To label the drone war as merely futile, however, is disingenuous. Counterproductive is a better word, although probably still too charitable. We take out one militant—reducing him to “a greasy spot on the ground”—and another springs up to take his place. That’s futility. But in the process, people living in Pakistan and Somalia and Yemen observe that the U.S. is not bound by any standard principle of law, least of all the one guaranteeing a criminal suspect due process. How, one wonders, are they expected to feel about that? If the American Empire says you’re fit to die, you’re fit to die, and that’s the end of it. Interesting concept. Of course, such tyranny would never be tolerated here at home, where a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial remains (for the most part) inalienable and uncontroversial. Not so for foreigners suspected by the U.S. government of terrorist activity in their own countries, with whom the U.S. is not at war and over whom the U.S. has no jurisdiction in any reasonable sense of the word.
The American public may not care very much about the extrajudicial killing of a few supposedly dangerous Muslims living in Somalia. (CNN doesn’t tell them to worry about it, so why should they?) They do, however, seem to care about anti-Americanism in the Muslim world, the threat of global jihad, etc.—and rightfully so. These are serious issues; they should be treated as such. Here’s an axiom: if we’re going to take an issue seriously, the very least we can do is make an effort to understand it. Why does Salafism (i.e. Wahhabism, i.e. Saudism) continue to spread like wildfire over the Middle East and beyond? Why do so many Muslims have, in the words of Donald Trump, a tremendous, tremendous hatred for the U.S.?
It couldn’t have anything to do with the continuous, illegal bombing of Muslim-majority countries. That would be too straightforward an answer, and moreover contradictory to the narrative our policy-makers, always looking out for the weapons industry, like to spin for us. There is, however, Occam’s razor, which would insist that we stop dismissing simple, obvious explanations. One such explanation might be that Obama’s drone fetish, even without the civilian death toll, certainly doesn’t make the jihadist recruiter’s job any less difficult (and in fact does precisely the reverse). Another might be that, by shoring up the medieval sadists governing Saudi Arabia and oppressing its population, the U.S. indirectly (or perhaps directly) promotes the ideology underpinning every Wahhabi terrorist gang in the world, whether JV or Varsity.
Saudi Arabia. The world’s most prolific exporter of oil. Also the world’s most prolific exporter of Islamic extremism, that omnipresent threat to civilization we’re allegedly so bent on eradicating. It was reported that our dear leader was cold-shouldered upon his recent arrival to the great pious kingdom. The impudence! Have the Wahhabi princes no appreciation for the Obama administration’s generosity? After all, $50 billion in munitions sales is nothing to sneeze at, particularly when those munitions are earmarked for war crimes. The United States has given Saudi Arabia, and its Wahhabi coalition, carte blanche to commit atrocities against civilians in Yemen: American bombs, including illegal “cluster bombs,” are being used to blow up schools, hospitals, mosques, etc., in the name of… well, nothing, really. What more could the Saudis want! More weapons? All they have to do is ask. Obama distributes “smart bombs” like candy.
The civil war in Yemen represents the latest, though not quite the greatest (which says a lot), failure of American foreign policy. With our weapons and whole-hearted support, Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi pals have managed to do to Yemen what NATO did to Libya. In other words, Yemen is now a failed state with no central government and a massive power vacuum—ideal conditions for terrorists, in this case al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, to exploit. Naturally, all of this is underreported by Western media, since we have no enemy on whom to cast blame. You may hear the occasional whisper about Ayatollah culpability, but that’s about it.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen… every time the same result. To say that the U.S. has failed to learn its lesson is erroneous. I’ve seen no evidence that U.S. policy-makers are interested in learning any sort of lesson, nor that they actually desire a better outcome to begin with. They’re not merely inept, as so many like to insist; they’re cynical, and profoundly so.
Terrorism is useful. It can be, and is, cited to justify almost anything: extravagant military budgets, abrogation of civil liberties, alliance with nefarious regimes, arbitrary detention, torture, war. They all matter, but the last one matters most. If the objective really is to defeat terrorism, as defined by us, then our policy is irrational; in fact it meets the famous definition of insanity. Plainly, bombing volatile societies and unleashing dormant sectarian violence does nothing to contain terrorism. Plainly, it has the opposite effect. Terrorists draw strength and support from chaos and carnage; if you think Cheney et al. were oblivious to that fact, I’ve a got a plot of land to sell you…. Bush may be simple, and it’s certainly possible that he derived his conception of war from the pictures, but his cabinet was a sly bunch; a bunch whose loyalty was not to our nation’s security but rather to the Pentagon and the weapons manufacturers.
Before Bush was sworn in by the Supreme Court, Dick was pushing for a bigger military budget. Little did he know that he needn’t bother! The events of 9/11 were a windfall for the jingoists, damage to the Pentagon notwithstanding. Terrorism was no longer an abstract threat; the threat was all too palpable, all too urgent, and nobody was prepared to question the government’s response, which was not to invade the country that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers, but rather the one in which the plot’s ringleader, another Saudi, happened to live. The U.S. could have invaded Canada that October (surely there were some Bin Laden sympathizers loitering in that country)—we just wanted a show of military might, projected wherever.
That’s the terrorism effect. That’s why Saddam Hussein, our long-time ally and Israel’s great “existential threat” of the day, was suddenly charged with sponsoring terrorism. Casting Saddam as a Bin Laden advocate, however false, gave us a solid pretext for war. The consequence of that war—ISIS—gives us a solid pretext for more war, etc. As long as terrorism exists, we can go to war, and as long as we go to war, terrorism will exist. Meanwhile the Pentagon’s budget continues to swell. The War on Terror, then, is a self-sustaining enterprise.
The beauty of Obama’s global assassination campaign is that it allows us to bomb without declaring war. We don’t have to worry about running out of countries to invade; we can drone our allies if we so choose. That being said, no war machine is complete, and no Empire content, without the occasional full-scale invasion. Iran has been in the crosshairs for a long time—ever since they had the nerve to overthrow the iron-fisted dictator we kindly installed for them. Predictably, the Iranian nuclear agreement, Obama’s most significant foreign policy achievement, has done nothing to curb the hawks’ appetite. Indeed, many Republican presidential candidates have assured us that, as commander in chief, they would make it their first order of business to tear up the internationally-recognized treaty.
At the other end of the aisle, H.R. Clinton, the “superprepared warrior realist,” derides the prospect of normalizing relations with Iran. Back in 2008, she demonstrated her warrior spirit, boasting of her preparedness to “totally obliterate” the 80 million people who live there, which would steer the U.S. into a nuclear conflict with Russia, quite possibly annihilating us all. (Lest you forget: Trump is the real danger.)
Clinton and her fellow jingos hate the nuclear deal, and the reason is simple: it eliminates a major pretext for war. After all, the case against Iran is identical to the case against Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorism. And Israel at the center of it all. The Zionists lobbied hard for war with Iraq, and no one is lobbying harder for war with Iran. They intend to make Hillary’s obliteration fantasy into reality. Lucky for them, and unlucky for the rest of us, she is almost certainly our next president, and no one is more subservient to their will.
Unsurprisingly, no presidential candidate has been asked whether they plan to adopt Obama’s failed anti-terror policy, which is to fight terror with more terror, forever fanning the proverbial flames. Perhaps “failed” is not quite an accurate description, though, as that word implies a wish to succeed. Presently there’s no excuse to believe the Obama administration was ever serious about checking the scourge of Saudi-inspired terrorism. If Trump is right, and the Muslim world hates us, Obama was very much committed to aggravating that sentiment. He’s done a fine job.
Michael Howard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The National is an English language publication owned and operated by Abu Dhabi Media, the government-run media organization of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There is no press freedom in the UAE. Government media report the government point of view, which rarely includes criticism of the government.
On March 26, the first anniversary of the UAE’s unprovoked attack on Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition of mostly Arab states, the UAE’s official media published a document about the carnage in Yemen illustrative of George Orwell’s observation: “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” The truth about the war in Yemen is a largely unreported secret. The UAE officially hides that truth from itself in an editorial in The National (which follows in its entirety, section by section). It begins with the headline:
“After a year in Yemen, our resolve is firm”
After a year in Yemen, the US/Saudi coalition has managed to reduce the region’s poorest country to an almost unthinkable condition, where some 20 million Yemenis – about 80% of the population need humanitarian assistance. In a country both under attack and on the verge of mass famine, what does “our resolve is firm” really mean if not continued crimes against humanity? The UAE editorial’s first sentence has no discernible meaning at all.
The start one year ago of Operation Decisive Storm comes as a reminder of the importance of the war in Yemen.
The anniversary of an aggression – that the Saudis proclaimed would be brief and decisive – is important mostly for its irony. An official Saudi press release of March 25, 2015, quoted the Saudi ambassador to the US saying: “The operation will be limited in nature, and designed to protect the people of Yemen and its legitimate government from a takeover by the Houthis. A violent extremist militia.” By then the “legitimate” government of Yemen had fled to the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Not only has more than a year of US/Saudi-led war failed to achieve any significant military success, it has produced collateral damage on a massive scale, making the country of 25 million people perhaps the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. This reality makes a mockery of the UAE editorial’s next assertion.
The UAE joined the Saudi-led coalition campaign driven by its commitment and dedication to maintaining security and establishing peace in the region.
This is, almost literally, Orwellian in its “war is peace” mindset. From the start, the US/Saudi aggression has violated international law and committed war crimes against Yemeni civilians, using cluster bombs made in the USA (and sold to the Saudis with US taxpayer subsidies). The recently-released US State Department annual human rights report on Saudi Arabia for 2015 soft-pedals the allies’ slaughter of civilians in Yemen, and omits Saudi-dropped US cluster bombs entirely (perhaps because their lingering impact killing children over years and decades is deucedly hard to assess accurately, whereas profits can be tallied almost immediately). The full despicability of the Obama administration’s position on these inhumanities is revealed in its official unwillingness to speak on the record about the blatant hypocrisy of its morally indefensible defense of the murder of civilians for profit as reported in The Intercept.
A State Department spokesperson, who would only comment on background, pointed out that the U.S. has called on both sides of the conflict to protect civilians. He also claimed that the use of cluster munitions is not a human rights violation because the United States has not signed the ban on cluster munitions.
The State Department spokesperson did not acknowledge that only one side bombs civilians (in schools, hospitals, markets, and homes) with US-made planes dropping US-made munitions. This follows a years-long US campaign in Yemen to kill civilians with US-made drones (still in use from outside the country).
Yemen is drawn as a coherent state on maps, but most of the Yemeni-Saudi border has never been officially defined. Yemen has an ancient culture in the western part of the country, but it has never been a coherent state. The Saudis and Yemenis have engaged in sporadic, armed conflict for decades. In particular, the Saudis and the Houthis have fought over northwest Yemen and neighboring southwest Saudi Arabia, which is home to a large Houthi population. Security in the region is not directly threatened by the Yemeni civil war. For any Arab state to talk like the UAE of establishing “peace in the region” is fundamentally hilarious.
The UAE has long been a source of support for the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh), as have Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait – all part of the coalition waging war on Yemen. Editorially, the UAE cloaks itself in the mantle of state legitimacy.
The coalition responded to the call by Yemen’s president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to restore his internationally recognised government to power.
To call the Hadi government “internationally recognized” is to fudge the reality that the Hadi government has only limited recognition among Yemenis. Hadi came to power through what US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power called, somewhat falsely, the “peaceful, inclusive, and consensus-driven political transition under the leadership of the legitimate President of Yemen, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi.” One problem with this US formulation is that Hadi’s “legitimacy” derives from his being installed as president by an international diplomatic coup, followed by his election in a race in which he was the sole candidate. Essentially, there is no legitimate government of Yemen and has not been for decades at least. The present war of aggression by outside powers intervening in a multifaceted civil war relies for its justification on a variety of dishonest fictions. The Houthis are a sub-group of the Shi’ite Zaidis, who number about eight million in Yemen. The Zaidis governed northwest Yemen for 1,000 years, until 1962. The UAE editorial invents a different historical identity.
Houthi rebels had captured the capital of Sanaa, with the support of Iran and loyalists to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and were advancing towards the southern city of Aden. On the way, they had killed civilians and destroyed neighbourhoods, leading to a vast humanitarian crisis.
Iran is widely scapegoated as a nefarious influence in Yemen, but there is little or no evidence of Iranian involvement on a scale that could possibly make a difference on the ground in Yemen. Iran’s support of the Houthis, their fellow Shi’ites, has been largely diplomatic, political, and presumably financial. Former president Saleh, who has a wide following of non-Houthis, was deposed in the coup that installed Hadi. When Saleh was president of Yemen, he also fought a Houthi insurrection. While there is little doubt that all sides in the Yemen civil war (including al Qaeda and ISIS) have committed war crimes of various degree, only the US/Saudi coalition has bombed defenseless civilian populations. There is a special deceit in the UAE suggestion that the Houthis in 2015 are the cause of the Yemen humanitarian crisis in 2016. A year of largely indiscriminate bombing by the US/Saudi forces is the more proximate and powerful cause, as is the year-long US/Saudi naval blockade that keeps Yemenis caught in the bomb range while at the same time denying them food, medicine, and other essentials for survival. Nevertheless, according to the UAE editorial, the Houthis – who have suffered attacks by ISIL – are somehow responsible for ISIL attacking coalition forces in the south.
The Houthis’ disregard for Yemen’s security created fertile ground for extremism to thrive, leading to the latest attacks by ISIL that killed 20 people in Aden on Friday.
Whatever “security” Yemen has had in recent years has been largely illusory. The US drone program in Yemen spent years creating insecurity and killing civilians until the US withdrew just ahead of the fall of the Hadi government (president Saleh had also sanctioned the lethal US military presence in Yemen). And why was the US there? Because Yemen was already “fertile ground for extremism,” in particular AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which now controls roughly half of Yemen’s southern coast, about 370 miles including the port city of Mukalla, with a 500,000 population. The effective allies in the US/Saudi war on the Houthis include not only the UAE and other coalition members, but also al Qaeda and ISIS – not in the sense that these “allies” share the same goals, but in the sense that the US/Saudi genocidal obsession with the Houthis has allowed and helped both ISIS and especially al Qaeda to expand and solidify positions in Yemen.
All the same, the UAE tries to blame the ISIL (ISIS) suicide bomb attacks in Aden on March 14, 2016, on the Houthis, when Aden is more or less under the military control of the Hadi government. Saudi and UAE forces have been deployed to Aden at least since July 2015, in limited numbers, to protect the Hadi government. The UAE has also secretly deployed hundreds of Colombian mercenary soldiers to Yemen, along with other mercenaries from Panama, El Salvador, and Chile, frequently commanded by Australians. During this same time period, neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE deployed any troops to fight ISIS in Syria. UAE troop strength in Yemen reportedly peaked in the fall of 2015 at about 5,000 troops of one nationality or another. Currently the UAE is estimated to have about 2,500 troops in Yemen as well as other deployments in Libya and Afghanistan. The UAE, with a population of about 6 million, has a military of some 65,000 active frontline personnel.
The UAE’s editorial summary of its year of war-making in Yemen relies on an imaginary threat of a wider war that would somehow have magically emerged from the possibility that the Houthis might secure their own country, or just part of it.
The precarious situation last year required swift intervention to guard against a wider conflict in the region. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council allies, including the UAE, realised that the security of Yemen was critical for the Arabian Peninsula at large and that a military operation would be required. Iran, which has a history of meddling in regional affairs, has been backing the Shiite Houthi group to fulfil its own nefarious agenda of expanding its footprint in the Middle East. Quite simply, unless we had taken firm action, our security would have been at risk. This has come at a great cost, including the lives of more than 80 UAE martyrs.
More than a year after collaborating in an aggressive war against Yemen, the UAE can cite no credible or rational or legal basis for joining the attack – unless “a nefarious agenda” turns out to be an obscure casus belli under international law. Worse, the UAE doesn’t even acknowledge, much less try to justify, the criminal brutality of its war.
This criminal brutality has been documented over and over by non-governmental organizations. Most recently, on April 7, Human Rights Watch issued a report centered on the war crime of bombing a civilian market, killing 97 civilians, 25 of them children. This is no isolated incident. The responsibility and guilt for these atrocities extends to those who sell the weapons as well as those who use them. As Human Rights Watch reported in part:
Since March 26, 2015, the UN and nongovernmental organizations have documented numerous airstrikes by coalition forces that violate the laws of war. The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, established under UN Security Council Resolution 2140 (2013), in a report made public on January 26, “documented 119 coalition sorties relating to violations” of the laws of war.
Human Rights Watch has documented 36 unlawful airstrikes – some of which may amount to war crimes – which have killed at least 550 civilians. Human Rights Watch has also documented 15 attacks in which internationally banned cluster munitions were used in or near cities and villages, wounding or killing civilians…. The coalition has used at least six types of cluster munitions, three delivered by air-dropped bombs and three by ground-launched rockets….
None of these war crimes could possibly be committed by the Houthis and their allies, since they have no air force. Whatever the atrocities committed by Houthis, Saleh’s forces, or others, the humanitarian suffering in Yemen is overwhelmingly the responsibility of the US/Saudi coalition, however the UAE editorial may spin it.
The UAE has also contributed greatly to humanitarian efforts in Yemen, especially as Operation Restoring Hope got under way. More than Dh1.6 billion has been spent on infrastructure and aid programmes to provide our brothers and sisters there with electricity, food, health services, water, sanitation, fuel and transport. We will continue to help the civilian population. Of course, the ultimate goal is a political solution that restores the legitimate government.
In late April a year ago, the Saudis announced that Operation Decisive Storm was over and had achieved its goals. Saudis also announced the beginning of Operation Restoring Hope which included airstrikes and other military actions, as well as some relief missions.
The claim that the UAE has spent more than 1.6 billion Dirham ($436 million) in and on Yemen is misleading. In 2015, the UAE apparently contributed that amount to United Nations humanitarian programs in Yemen, an amount exceeded only by Saudi Arabia. A contribution in the hundreds of millions of dollars appears generous, but represents only a couple of days of the cost of the war. Saudi Arabia is reportedly picking up most of the cost of the war: $200 million per day ($6 billion per month).
Joining a military campaign is never an easy decision to make, but in this case it was a necessary one. As the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said on Friday, the UAE is more powerful today with the sacrifice of its martyrs, and history will remember the important role Operation Decisive Storm has played in drawing “a line between acceptance and submission, and determination and will.”
So ends the official UAE version of its Yemen adventure, a version that imagines with complete falsity that the Houthi rebellion somehow put the UAE under threat of having to accept and submit. Accept and submit to what? The Houthi rebellion was a thousand miles from the UAE and has yet to go beyond Yemeni borders (except for the sporadic fighting along the Saudi border in the northwest). In reality, the US/Saudi coalition has long demanded that the Houthis accept and submit to domination by their Sunni enemies of a thousand years. Now, in mid-April 2016, an open-ended ceasefire of sorts is settling over Yemen, with the Houthis still in control of much of the country, and the Saudis continuing to bomb at will. Ironically, if anyone has so far shown true determination and will, it is the Houthis, in their resistance to a ruthless and relentless international coalition.
As for “joining a military campaign,” which the UAE officially says is “never an easy decision to make,” the UAE has apparently managed the difficult choice once again. Now the UAE has reportedly asked the US for significant increases in military support in order to escalate the war in Yemen against AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Officials in the US and the UAE refuse to comment on the report, which would be an expansion of fighting long under way. According to Iranian Press TV, tensions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE emerged after the UAE withdrew large numbers of troops following defeats in late 2015, leading to a recent plan by the Saudis to replace UAE troops with Jordanians.
On April 15, despite the five day old truce, US drone strikes and US-made apache helicopters attacked the city of al-Houta, near Aden in south Yemen. Coalition officials said al Qaeda forces had withdrawn and the government controlled the city, with five soldiers reportedly killed in an operation that took four hours.
The ceasefire that started April 10 has continued to remain in effect around most of the country, despite some violations. In the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, more than 100 miles north of al-Houta and still under Houthi control, tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out on April 15 for peaceful protest against continued airstrikes by the US/Saudi coalition.
The UN special envoy leading the peace talks scheduled to begin in Kuwait says peace has never been as close as it is today. Those talks include only “government” and “rebel” representatives. Most of the belligerents, including the US/Saudi coalition, al Qaeda, and ISIS, will not be taking part.
April 20, 2016
Today James joins Dan Dicks on PFT Live to discuss the 28 pages and the move to blame Saudi Arabia for 9/11. What are the 28 pages really about? Is this really a step forward for 9/11 truth or a step back? Are the Saudis threatening to crash the dollar if they’re hung out to dry? Join James and Dan for the lowdown on the latest 9/11 propaganda.
SHOW NOTES AND MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=18477
Yesterday Philip Hammond, UK foreign secretary, visited a naval base in Tripoli to be shown docking facilities for British military vessels. The authoritative Jane’s Defence Weekly published that the 150 strong amphibious Special Purpose Task Group of commandos and special forces is in the Mediterranean on the amphibious warfare vessel Mounts Bay. Obviously purely a coincidence with Hammond’s visit!
Just as in Syria and in Yemen it will not be admitted that British forces are in combat. In classic Cold War fashion, they are “military advisers and trainers.” There is a specific development which disconcerts me in Yemen, where the SAS operatives supporting the devastating Saudi bombings of the Houthi population have been seconded to MI6. There is a convention that military operations are reported to Parliament and MI6 operations are not, so the sole purpose of screening the SAS as MI6 is to deceive the UK’s own parliament.
That of course only adds to the utter immorality of British support of the appalling Saudi bombing campaign. Britain’s supplying the arms to the Saudis and lending direct military assistance amounts to complicity in war crime.
Saudi Arabia pursued the overproduction of oil initially to force out high cost US fracking producers. That objective has largely been achieved with a substantive fall in US production. But Saudi strategists have now been struck by the potential for continued low oil prices to cause pressure for the Russian budget. This was a key factor in the Saudi decision to block any moves towards OPEC production curbs. The Saudis are now obsessed with the notion of full Sunni control over Syria, and aim to pile economic pressure on Russia to achieve this. But it is by no means clear that the level of pain which would be required to force Putin to end military support for Assad, would not also put so much strain on the Saudi budget that it would risk destabilising the Saudi regime itself.
Just what could cause western elites to acknowledge that Saudi Arabia is the largest single problem in the Middle East, and that continued support of the House of Saud is entirely counterproductive, it is difficult to envisage. The problem of course is that what is bad for the world can be very profitable for the 1%.
“Reverse Projection”, as described by Canadian professor John McMurtry, is a staple of propagandists as the imperial West imposes its toxic agenda of war and poverty domestically, and throughout the world.
Public Relations liars are the new myth makers who create the new stories to sell to an increasingly anesthetized public.
All of the lies serve to entrench the transnational oligarch class and to deny wealth, freedom, democracy, and Life itself to the rest of us.
Canada’s governing party, the Liberals, led by the ever charismatic Justin Trudeau, is a perfect front for a criminal agenda where black is sold as white, and white is sold as black. The Liberal party will have a long tenure.
Justin Trudeau’s defense of the sale of military equipment to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia as a matter of “principle” will no doubt solidify his glowing reputation.
Not only is Wahhabi Saudi Arabia a chief financier for NATO’s criminal terrorist proxies who are chopping their way through the Middle East and Africa, but its degenerate ideology, a deformed misinterpretation of Koranic teachings, will also continue to flourish, thanks to countries like Canada, that grow and sustain the spiritual cancer, to the detriment of humanity, and the benefit of the few.
Justin Trudeau’s self-professed “feminism” is a perfect veneer to cover the depravities of Canada’s misogynist foreign policy.
Felicity Arbuthnot describes in “United Nations Farce: Saudi Arabia to Head UN Human Rights Council,” some of the highlights of Saudi Arabia’s domestic human rights record:
“By 15th June this year executions reached one hundred ‘far exceeding last year’s tally and putting (the country) on course for a new record’ according to The Independent (15th June.) The paper adds that the Kingdom is set to beat it’s own grisly, primitive record of one hundred and ninety two executions in 1995.
The paper notes that: ‘… the rise in executions can be directly linked to the new King Salman and his recently-appointed inner circle …’
In August 2014, Human Rights Watch reported nineteen executions in seventeen days – including one for ‘sorcery.’ Adultery and apostasy can also be punished by death.”
It gets better. Arbuthnot explains:
“At home women are forbidden: ‘from obtaining a passport, marrying, traveling, accessing higher education without the approval of a male guardian.’ (HRW Report, 2014.) Saudi is also of course, the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive.”
The Axis of Evil, to which Canada so willingly belongs, includes Apartheid Israel , the Persian Gulf monarchies, and the US-led NATO terror organization. Each of these polities has declining rights and freedoms at home which serve as a foundation for the destruction that the Western Axis spreads globally, largely beneath the radar of domestic public perception.
The “matter of principle”, as described by Trudeau, is like a “code of honour” between arms-trafficking mafia clans. The “principle” being honored will be instrumental in the deaths of more innocent people in Yemen , Syria, and beyond. It will also be an instrument for Wahhabism, and against democracy and the rule of law globally.
If, god forbid, the West’s terror proxies win in Syria, then the democratic government of Syria will be replaced by a barbaric puppet regime beholden to the West.
Fortunately, the Syrian people have witnessed the depravities of the West’s destruction of Iraq, its demolition of Libya, and its nazification of Ukraine, so they will be less likely to compromise with the forces of evil that they are defeating at this very moment. Nor should they compromise.
In an article entitled “Syrian 2016 Elections Defy US and NATO ‘Regime Change’ Agenda,” Canadian peace activist Ken Stone describes his observations of the current Syrian elections in these words:
“On the walls of the buildings along the narrow streets were plastered hundreds upon hundreds of election posters. Over the streets were strung banners showing small and large groupings of well-dressed candidates representing each slate. Clearly, the 250 parliamentary seats were being hotly contested.”
Later, he explains:
“Having worked on many Canadian elections, I can attest to the fact that Syrian elections are different from Canadian elections. But that doesn’t mean they don’t represent the national will, as claimed by US State Department.
After all, with the Canadian first-past-the-post system, the representation of political parties in the House of Commons in Ottawa bears little resemblance to their share of the popular vote. And, in Canada, we have, in effect, a two party system. Only the big business-friendly Liberals and Conservatives have ever held power in our country in 150 years.”
“Real change,” as demonstrated by Canada’s covert foreign policy, means more totalitarianism, more misogyny, more terrorism, more displaced peoples, more refugees, more death, and more destruction.
This isn’t exactly the “real change” that the public relations mandarins sold to Canadians.
The Saudi foreign minister admits that the kingdom gave nearly USD 700 million to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has faced corruption charges since the huge grant came to light last year.
Adel al-Jubeir said Friday that the $681 million (£479 million) Riyadh offered to the premier was a “genuine donation with nothing expected in return.”
Last July, the Wall Street Journal revealed for the first time that some $700 million had been transferred to Najib’s private accounts before the 2013 general election. The report suggested that the money came from a state development fund.
At the time, Najib was already engulfed in a scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and deposits into his private accounts worth around $680 million.
However, Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Najib of any criminal wrongdoing earlier this year, saying the $681 million transferred into his account back in 2013 was from the Saudi royal family and was personal donations.
According to the attorney general, Najib had returned USD 620 million of the money to the Saudi royal family in August 2013, about five months after the transfer.
The Malaysian opposition has challenged the attorney general’s ruling, arguing that the transfer of personal donations did not rule out corrupt motives or transactions.
On Friday, Saudi foreign minister said, “We are also fully aware that the attorney general of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing.”
The remarks by Jubeir came after leaders from across Malaysia’s political spectrum called for the ouster of Najib after he returned from a four-day visit to Saudi Arabia back in March.
The Malaysian premier came into office in 2009 promising a government free of corruption and a more relaxed rule.
UK military personnel have delivered a series of three-week courses on “international targeting” to the Saudi forces currently engaged in pummeling Yemen, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request shows.
The revelations were made following a request by the human rights NGO Reprieve. The organization is now urging the UK government to stop providing military support.
While the MoD has long claimed its role is purely advisory, the revelations lay bare the closeness with which the two countries operate.
It now appears courses were being run by RAF officers as recently as 2015 on “international targeting” over three separate three-week blocks.
This included training on the Storm Shadow missile, which is launched from aircraft to destroy enemy bunkers.
Gunnery instruction on targeting and locating enemy gun batteries was also carried out by a seven-strong detachment of personnel from the Royal Artillery.
The artillery team delivered 52 hours of training to Saudi gunners and included a senior major, a captain, a sergeant major and a sergeant.
The MoD said the course had been delivered to “a mixed group of soldiers and officers” from the Royal Saudi Land Forces RSLF) field artillery.
Saudi personnel have also visited the UK for training.
The military said their personnel were not involved in “carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen or selecting targets, and are not involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process.”
They stressed, as they have on numerous occasions, that the UK military “provide guidance on best practice techniques, including advice to help continued compliance with international humanitarian law.”
Reprieve case worker Omran Belhadi said: “Claims by ministers that Britain is helping the Saudi government abide by the law are disingenuous.”
He pointed out that legal training on rules of engagement and the laws of war did not seem to have sunk in if, indeed, it was delivered.
“Extensive British ‘targeting training’ has done nothing to prevent the bombing of schools, hospitals and weddings, and the deaths of thousands of Yemeni civilians,” Belhadi told the Guardian.