Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Iran Defense Minister: US, Israel dare not attack, they would have if they could

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Billionaire prince offers give one Bentley to each Saudi bomber for striking Yemen

f92661c6-9516-4d4a-973b-8a637e845406

The Bentley Continental GT (bentleymotors.com)
Press TV – April 23, 2015

Billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal has vowed to give a free Bentley to every Saudi pilot that has taken part in bombardment of Yemen.

According to a Wednesday report by the Daily Mail, late Saudi King Abdullah’s nephew pledged to reward each of the 100 pilots a free Bentley, a British luxury automobile.

The Saudi business tycoon, one of the richest men in the world, reportedly made the pledge in a Twitter post that was later removed.

“To recognize the one hundred participating Saudi pilots I am pleased to present them with 100 Bentley cars,” read the post.

“I congratulate our wise leaders on the victory of ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ and the beginning of ‘Operation Restoring Hope’,” Waleed said.

Meanwhile the airstrikes, which have killed nearly 1,000 people continued against the impoverished country despite the fact that Riyadh declared an end to them on Tuesday.

Airstrikes continue

Saudi warplanes continued their air campaign in the seaport city of Aden in the early hours of Thursday.

They also conducted at least six airstrikes on the Manbeh region in Sa’ada province in northwestern Yemen.

On Wednesday, several other strikes hit the Arab world’s poorest country.

Saudi Arabia’s military campaign was launched without a UN mandate in a bid to undermine the Ansarullah movement and to restore power to the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

April 23, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia’s Disastrous War in Yemen

f06384f5-5a6c-47d0-a68d-1de3df3e24b5

By Michael Horton | CounterPunch | April 22, 2015

In what has been three decades of ill-advised wars in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen may be the most ill-advised of them all. “Operation Decisive Storm,” the ironic name for Saudi Arabia’s aerial campaign in Yemen, has led to nothing decisive in Yemen beyond ensuring that the country remains a failed state and fertile ground for organizations like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Long before the commencement of “Operation Decisive Storm,” Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, was grappling with a host of problems ranging from severe water shortages, food insecurity, and a moribund economy, to a long running multi-front insurgency. Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen has exacerbated all of these problems and could well be the coup de grace for a unified and relatively stable Yemen.

On Tuesday April 21st, the government of Saudi Arabia abruptly announced that it was ending “Operation Decisive Storm” and that it would be scaling back its aerial campaign in Yemen. “Operation Decisive Storm” will be replaced with “Operation Restore Hope,” an unfortunate name for a military operation given that it was also the name for the US’ ill-fated 1992-3 intervention in Somalia. It is unclear what “Operation Restore Hope” aims to achieve; however, the first phase of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen has been disastrous.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 900 people have died in Yemen since the Saudi led aerial campaign against Yemen began on March 25th. In addition, one hundred and fifty thousand Yemenis have been displaced and the number of food insecure people has increased to more than twelve million. Due to the ongoing blockade of its ports—Yemen imports more than 90% of its food—prices for basic food items have soared and there are widespread shortages. In Aden, where temperatures routinely climb into the triple digits, most of the city of more than five hundred thousand has no access to water. Across the country, supplies of gasoline and gas have been exhausted. Hospitals, which were already struggling to cope with a lack of medicine and supplies, now have little or no fuel left to run their generators. Those patients in Yemen’s Intensive Care Units will likely die as their life saving machines are idled due to a lack of electricity.

AQAP has, so far, been the only beneficiary of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. In south east Yemen, in the governorate of the Hadramawt, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken over Yemen’s fifth largest city, Mukalla, and has also taken control of the city’s airport and port. “Operation Decisive Storm” targeted the Houthis, a Zaidi militia that is the sworn enemy of al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia’s aerial bombardment also focused on those elements of the Yemeni Armed Forces that are allied with the Houthis and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. These same military units, including the Yemeni Air Force which has been largely destroyed, were also critical to fighting AQAP and its allies. “Operation Decisive Storm” has effectively neutralized the two forces that were responsible for impeding AQAP’s advance across large sections of southern and eastern Yemen.

So what did the Saudis hope to achieve with “Operation Decisive Storm?” The government of Saudi Arabia claimed that it launched military operations against Yemen to restore the now exiled government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi who fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia on March 25th.

However, the reinstallation of Hadi’s government, which had little support before he and his ministers openly called on the Saudis and their partners to bomb their own country, remains unlikely. Hadi, who was Saleh’s long serving vice-president, was chosen to be vice-president by Saleh for a reason: Hadi has no power base in the Yemen. Hadi is a southerner who has no ties to Yemen’s perennially powerful northern based tribes and as a southerner who sided with Saleh and the north in the 1994 civil war, he is regarded as a traitor by many in the south.

It is also important to note that the so called Hadi supporters who are fighting Houthi militias and their allies in south Yemen are fighting under the flag of the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). Most of those fighting in Aden and in other southern cities are not fighting for Hadi but for independence from the north due to a long list of unaddressed grievances. Up until a few months before his departure for Saudi Arabia, the security services under Hadi’s control were pursuing and arresting members of al-Hirak, the Southern Separatist Movement.

The second—and linked—goal of the Saudi led aerial campaign was to force the Houthis to disarm. This was as unlikely as the restoration of Hadi’s government. The Houthis have fought six wars against the Yemeni Armed Forces since 2004 and successfully fought off Saudi forces in 2009-10. While Saudi Arabia’s air war undoubtedly degraded some of the Houthis’ military capabilities and may have resulted in the loss of what is already arguably limited support for the Houthis and their allies, it in no way defeated the Houthis who have withstood far worse with far fewer resources than they now have.

After bombing Yemen for nearly a month and igniting what could be a prolonged civil war, the government of Saudi Arabia may have finally come to the conclusion that the only way forward for Yemen is through dialogue and negotiation. No one party or faction in Yemen is capable of asserting control over the country, even with the support of a regional power, be it Saudi Arabia or Iran. Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a master of Machiavellian politics with an encyclopedic knowledge of Yemen’s tribes and clans, was never able to exert full control over Yemen. For much of his 33 years in power, Saleh was derisively referred to as the “mayor of Sana’a” because his writ did not extend much beyond the Yemeni capital. In many respects, Yemen can be described as an “asylum of liberty.” Power has historically been dispersed among various factions. This dispersal of power militates against strong centralized authority.

In an April 19th interview with Russia Today, Jamal Benomar, who resigned as the United Nations Special Adviser on Yemen on April 16th, claimed that negotiations between all parties in Yemen were ongoing and nearing a successful interim conclusion before the bombardment of Yemen began. In his rambling April 19th speech, Houthi leader, Abdul Malek al-Houthi, vowed not to surrender but also indicated that the Houthis remained open to negotiations. Yemen’s former ruling party, the General People’s Congress, and its former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, have both called for renewed negotiations.

Yemen has a rich corpus of traditions that, when allowed to function, can limit conflict and favor negotiated settlements. These traditions were in evidence during Yemen’s own popular uprising in 2011 which, while violent, did not, at that time, lead to the kind of brutally violent civil wars that have engulfed Libya and Syria. Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, if it continues, could upend many of these traditions and ensure that Yemen is the next Syria or Libya. At a minimum, the war has already led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, destroyed critical infrastructure, impoverished thousands more Yemenis, and allowed AQAP to dramatically expand the areas under its control.

April 22, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Yemen: The Little Army That Could

By Dr. Cesar Chelala | CounterPunch | April 21, 2015

In his book Century of the Wind, the late Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano tells how in 1927 the U.S. Marines landed in Nicaragua to quell a revolutionary revolt by Augusto César Sandino, who led a ragtag army of Nicaraguan peasants to fight the invasion. The Marines had gone to Nicaragua to protect the lives and properties of United States citizens.

Armed primarily with machetes and 19th century rifles, Sandino’s army fought the Marines, undergoing heavy losses in an enormously unequal fight. In November 1927, the Marines succeeded in locating El Chipote, Sandino’s mountain headquarters. However, when the Marines reached it, they found the place abandoned and guarded by straw dummies.

Despite massive efforts, American forces were never able to capture Sandino, and eventually, due in large part to the 1929 Great Depression, U.S. soldiers were withdrawn from Nicaragua following the 1932 Nicaraguan elections. As Alfonso Alexander, a Colombian journalist fighting in Sandino’s army said at the time, “The invaders were like the elephant and we the snake. They were immobility, we were mobility.” Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral called Sandino’s warriors, admiringly, Crazy little army.

There is an eerie resemblance between these facts and what is now happening in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, where a small army of Houthi soldiers is fighting the combined forces of Saudi Arabia and its allies (the five Gulf Arab States and Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan), with the support of the U.S. The disproportion of forces between both sides would be laughable, if it weren’t tragic.

The Houthi rebels belong to a branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism, and make up almost a third of the country. They have ruled the north of the country for almost a thousand years, until the 1960s. The rise of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula –whom they oppose- and their long-held feelings that the central government wasn’t sharing fairly the country’s resources led to their taking up arms and overtaking the government.

Considered a threat to the regime stability the Yemeni government waged brutal war against the Houthis in their stronghold in Sa’ada province, in the north of Yemen. Although their leader, Hussein al Houthi, was killed in the first war, he was replaced by his brother and current leader, Abdul Malik.

The Houthis rose to power because most Yemenis want a strong leader, with a clear vision about where the country should go. Both brothers were able to provide that vision that essentially encompasses the desire for government accountability, an end to corruption, fair fuel prices, job opportunities for ordinary citizens and a more fair distribution of resources.

The Houthis have been shown to be well organized and reliable. Since taking control of Sa’ada, their birthplace, they have made it one of the most peaceful and well-run areas in Yemen. The sound of gunfire has almost ceased now in Sa’dah, the Sa’ada Governorate capital city. Residents have electricity for most of the day and reliable water supply.

Since declaring control of Yemen on February 6, the Houthis have been advancing steadily south, in spite of heavy losses and constant bombardment by Saudi Arabia and its allies that have provoked a serious humanitarian crisis in the country.

Unrelenting air strikes have killed and injured thousands of people, many of them civilians, and thousands more have been forced to leave their homes and are desperately trying to find food and potable water. In April 18, 2015, Oxfam’s warehouse in Sa’ada containing humanitarian supplies has been hit and destroyed by an airstrike, leaving thousands of civilians without help.

A group of Yemeni scholars, residents and nationals of the UK and the U.S. have issued a statement regarding the situation in Yemen in which they state, “The military attack by Saudi Arabia, backed by the GCC states (but not Oman), Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, the UK and above all the USA, is into its third week of bombing and blockading Yemen… The targets of the campaign include schools, homes, refuge camps, water systems, grain stores, and food industries. This has the potential for appalling harm to ordinary Yemenis as almost no food or medicine can enter…Rather than contributing to the destruction of the country, the USA and UK should support a UN Security Council resolution demanding and immediate, unconditional ceasefire and use of their diplomatic influence to strengthen the sovereignty and self-government of Yemen. As specialists we are more than aware of the internal divisions within Yemeni society, buy we consider that it is for the Yemenis themselves to be allowed to negotiate a political settlement.”

Like the valiant Nicaraguan soldiers, Sandino’s “crazy little army”, there is no reason to believe so far that the Yemeni soldiers have other than their country’s peaceful survival in mind.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and a national award on journalism from Argentina.

April 21, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hezbollah slams Saudi’s bid to buy silence on Yemen

4b9ef43c-193b-4405-951a-b9c42a384128

Deputy head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qaouq
Press TV – April 19, 2015

An official of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement has blasted Saudi Arabia’s bid to silence the group’s vocal opposition to its Yemeni aggression, saying Saudi money could not buy Hezbollah’s silence.

“Those who are waging an aggression against Yemen today have also mistaken their calculations and approach towards Hezbollah,” said the movement’s deputy head of executive council, Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, as quoted in a Sunday report by Lebanese Naharnet news website.

He further suggested that the Saudi regime was attempting to silence the group’s vocal opposition to its aggression against its neighbor adding, “They were betting on our silence and on neutralizing us, but they failed to realize that we do not fear threats and that we cannot be sold or bought.”

According to the report, Qaouq went on to emphasize that “Saudi money” can purchase “countries, the UN Security Council, presidents, princes and ministers” but “cannot buy Hezbollah’s silence.”

The development comes as Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and other leaders of the movement are locked in a rhetorical battle with the US-backed Saudi kingdom over Riyadh’s military attacks against Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia can threaten figures, dignitaries, scholars and Arab countries, but it cannot threaten the resistance,” Qaouq said, adding, “Their problem with us is that we cannot be bought or sold and we do not fear intimidation. It also lies in the growing role, status and influence of Hezbollah in the regional equations.”

Saudi Arabia’s air campaign against the Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement started on March 26 – without a United Nations mandate – in a bid to restore power to the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

According to reports, some 2,600 people, including women and children, have so far lost their lives in the attacks.

April 19, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi claim of Iran arms flow to Yemen ridiculous: Official

Press TV – April 18, 2015

A senior Iranian military official has denounced as “ridiculous” Saudi Arabia’s allegation that Tehran is sending weapons to Yemen.

“This claim is ridiculous because everyone knows that it is Saudi Arabia which has procured different weapons through the US and is using them against the oppressed Yemeni nation today,” Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi told reporters on Saturday.

He added that Iran supports the Yemeni people because they have stood up for their civil rights, national sovereignty and independence.

He said Tehran supports an independent Yemen and a democratic Yemeni nation, saying the Yemenis are fighting against the enemies in a united way.

Firouzabadi emphasized that if the US and Saudi Arabia make an allegation against Iran, it is a “blame game.”

Iran has in numerous occasions denied as baseless reports that Tehran is sending weaponry for the the revolutionaries in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, without a UN mandate, in a bid to restore power to the former fugitive president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

More than 2,600 people have been killed during the Saudi aggression so far.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif submitted a four-point peace plan on Yemen in an attempt to end the bloodshed in the impoverished Arab country.

The plan calls on the international community to get more effectively involved in ending the senseless aerial attacks on the Yemeni people and establishing a ceasefire in the country.

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear deal or no nuclear deal? That is the question

By Catherine Shakdam | RT | April 17, 2015

As neocons are working to destroy Iran’s tentative nuclear deal, US President Obama will have to either reinvent America’s policy or give in to Israel’s lobby and Saudi Arabia’s paranoiac fear of Shia Islam.

If months of intense political wrangling were crowned earlier this April by the confirmation that Iran and the P5+1 countries reached a tentative framework agreement over one of the most contentious issue of the past three decades – Iran’s nuclear dossier – it appears such diplomatic respite could prelude to a dangerous political standoff.

If by any account Iran’s nuclear negotiations were going to be trying, especially since Tehran’s nuclear ambitions do not necessarily sit at the center of this internationally staged quarrel, Israel’s neocon war campaign against the Islamic Republic risks pushing the world toward yet another lengthy conflict- a global one at that.

With the fires of war already burning bright in the MENA region – Middle East and North Africa – the fall of another domino could prove one too many for the word to handle. From a purely geostrategic standpoint a war with Iran, however pleasing to Tel Aviv’s avid warmongers, would likely force Western powers and their Arab allies to commit more military power than they can handle. Bearing in mind that the US has already committed troops and resources to Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and of course Ukraine, how much farther can imperial America really stretch?

However grand the US might think itself to be, and however solid the US might think its alliances to be, Washington has yet to win a war. Claiming victory as George W. Bush did in Iraq on May 1, 2003 did not exactly make it so. And though America basked in the glorious light of its military supremacy over the “Iraqi enemy,” its joy was short-lived as reality soon came knocking. And though starting a war might seem an easy enough business for neocon America, it is really the art of peace this belligerent nation has failed to master so far.

But back to Iran’s nuclear deal

To the surprise of many skeptics, Iran and the P5+1 did reach a deal – and while there were a few near misses, a deal was nevertheless brokered; proof experts actually insisted that Tehran is more interested in diplomacy than its detractors gives it credit for. Iran’s concessions attest to its officials’ determination to engage with the international community and integrate back into mainstream international politics.

As Gareth Porter wrote in a report for CounterPunch this April, “The framework agreement reached on Thursday night [April 2, 2015] clearly gives the P5+1 a combination of constraints on Iran’s nuclear program that should reassure all but the most bellicose opponents of diplomacy.”

And although Iran gave every assurance its government will not seek to weaponize its nuclear program, no amount of concessions might prove sufficient enough or comprehensive enough to assuage Washington’s fears vis-a-vis its “great Satan” – especially if the Saudis and Israelis have a say in it.

With the ink of the nuclear framework agreement still left to dry, both the powerful Israeli lobby and Al Saud’s petrodollars went on overdrive, telling the world what a catastrophe Iran’s nuclear deal would be.

One trip to US Congress and a few well-chosen words against its mortal enemy later, Israel seems satisfied it forever drove a wrench into the yet to be formulated and signed nuclear agreement.

As Yuval Steinitz, Israel minister for intelligence and strategic affairs so eloquently told the world on April 6, Israel would try to persuade the P5 +1 “not to sign this bad deal or at least to dramatically change or fix it”.

Echoing his minister’s narrative, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu determined that since Iran represents a threat to Israel’s very existence, America should abandon all diplomacy and instead beat the war drums. And we don’t really need to know why, only that it is so – If Netanyahu’s drawing did not convince your idle mind of Iran’s evil in 2012 then nothing will!

Just as Israel’s lobby bullied its way through the Oval office, cornering U.S. President Barak Obama into relenting power to Congress, Saudi Arabia declared war on Yemen, adding a new layer of complication to an already impossible mesh of over-lapping and over-conflicting alliances in the Middle East, thus weaving a dangerous noose around peace’s neck.

Interestingly, if war requires no US Congress oversight you can be sure that peace does!

Caught in between a rock at home and a hard place in the Middle East, US President Obama is faced with one mighty dilemma – one which will determine not his presidency but his very legacy.

If recent tensions between President Obama and the Israeli Premier are anything to go by, it would appear Israel’s lobby suit of armor is not as thick and potent as it’d like it to be, or maybe just maybe, it simply exhausted Americans’ patience. Israel’s greatest ally and supporter, the one power which has quite literally and almost single-handedly carried the Jewish State into being and helped it survive adverse winds since its very inception in 1948: vetoing UNSC resolutions when needed, propping its military and economy when needed, acting a political champion when needed, could be running out of road.

If Israel and Saudi Arabia’s foreign agenda stand now in perfect alignment – their ire directed not at one another but at Iran, changes in the region and fast-moving geostrategic interests have forced the US to re-evaluate its position vis-a-vis Iran and the so-called mythical Shia crescent the world has learnt to be wary of without quite understanding why.

In Netanyahu’s officials’ own words we are to believe that Islamic radicalism, a perverted, acetic and reactionary interpretation of Islam which has mapped itself around Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism movement would be preferable to seeing Iran gain a greater footing in the Arab world. In September 2013, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad and the Shiites. “The greatest danger to Israel is by the [Shiite] strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said in an interview.

“We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Obviously Saudi Arabia would rather eat its own foot than allow the all so devilish Iran from reclaiming its standing in the region, especially since it would essentially mean relenting power to rising calls for democratic reforms in the Gulf monarchies – Bahrain being the flagship of such a desire for change.

Why do that when you can wage senseless wars to assert your dominion?

Iran’s nuclear deal is more than just a nuclear deal. If signed, this deal would become the cornerstone of a broad shift in alliances, the moment when the US would actually choose to put its national interests over that of Tel Aviv and over Riyadh’s billions. Where Israel has bullied the US for decades, Saudi Arabia has bought its policies for decades.

With nothing left to lose but his good name and his legacy, President Obama could be just the man to break this self-destructing cycle and reinvent America’s foreign policy.

And that’s not even wishful thinking it would actually make sense for America to make peace with Iran – economically, politically and in terms of energy security and counter-terrorism Iran could be a more helpful and potent ally than Saudi Arabia. Bearing in mind that Riyadh’s fingerprints are all over al-Qaeda, ISIS and whatever terror offshoots radicals created those days, Washington might want to consider another ally in its fight against radicalism.

Thing is, America wants change! What it needs now is mastering the courage of its desire.

America is a superpower running out of steam, and more importantly running out of standing in the world. America’s exceptionalism is on its last leg. Too many double-standards, too many incoherencies in its alliances, too many double-talks, double-entendres and double-crossings. America needs a deal.

And though the July deadline seems very far away indeed, especially since Yemen’s war came to yank at diplomacy’s already stretched out rope; not signing the nuclear deal would be far worse than ruffling Israel and Saudi Arabia’s feathers.

For the sake of argument, why not ask Israel to pay the world the courtesy of practicing what it preaches in terms of nuclear transparency. That would be the nuclear deal of the century!

Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst and commentator for the Middle East with a special emphasis on Yemen and radical movements. A consultant with Anderson Consulting and leading analyst for the Beirut Center for Middle East Studies, her writings have appeared in MintPress, Foreign Policy Journal, Open-Democracy, the Guardian, the Middle East Monitor, Middle East Eye and many others. In 2015 her research and analysis on Yemen was used by the UN Security Council in a situation report.

April 17, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hezbollah likens Saudi aggression on Yemen to Israeli atrocities in Gaza

79011f57-0f77-4f78-b2ec-9c5f2ee548e3

Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem
Press TV – April 16, 2015

Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah has blasted the ongoing Saudi military aggression against Yemen, comparing the move to the Israeli atrocities in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“What Saudi Arabia is committing [in Yemen] is identical to what Israel commits in Gaza,” Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem said in a Thursday interview with France 24.

Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip for over seven years, causing a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave. The Israeli regime has also launched three wars on Gaza, the latest of which came in summer 2014, when nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 11,100 others injured. The 50-day war ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce.

Qassem said the Saudi war “is about attacking infrastructure and shelling civilians.”

Referring to a recent UN Security Council resolution adopted against Yemen’s Houthi movement, the Hezbollah official said, “The Security Council decision in Yemen is unjust, because it looks at one part of the problem, and not at the whole [picture].”

“The Security Council should have stopped the Saudi aggression against Yemen and treated the issues related to the civilians and the wounded and the destruction of infrastructure,” he said.

Political solution

Qassem also called for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.

“It (the UN) was supposed to set the steps for a dialogue to reach a political solution. This, the Security Council has not done,” the Hezbollah official said.

During an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Qassem slammed Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate bombardment of Yemen as genocide.

Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen started on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. It has drawn widespread condemnation from international rights groups.

Civilians and Yemeni infrastructure have been the target of the Saudi aggression against Yemen.

According to Yemeni sources, around 2,600 people have been killed in the Saudi military campaign over the past three weeks.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is rapidly deteriorating. Many international aid organizations have sought clearances to dispatch medical and other humanitarian supplies by air and sea to civilians in need.

April 17, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

What the Hell Are We Doing in Yemen?

By Sheldon Richman | Free Association | April 16, 2015

The U.S. government has charged into another civil war in the Middle East. When you find yourself repeatedly asking, “Will they ever learn?” the answer may be that the decision-makers have no incentive to do things differently. What looks like failure may be the intended outcome. Quagmires have their benefits — to the ruling elite — if American casualties are minimized.

The Obama administration is assisting Saudi Arabia in its bombing of Yemen, creating — in concert with the Saudi embargo — a humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East’s poorest country. Civilians are dying, and what infrastructure the country has is being destroyed.

Why? Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States won’t “stand by while the region is destabilized.” Kerry is a veteran, and presumably a student, of America’s Indochina war. So he must know that bombing is a terrible way to prevent destabilization. Kerry isn’t stupid — but that means he’s a liar and a demagogue.

Note that he says “the region,” not “Yemen.” Why would a civil war in Yemen affect the region? Because according to the official narrative, faithfully carried by most of the news media, Yemen is under siege by agents of Iran, the Houthis.

Iran today serves the same purpose the Soviet Union, or the International Communist Conspiracy, served from the end of World War II until 1989-91, when the Soviet empire collapsed. Iran is the all-purpose arch enemy on which virtually any evil can be blamed. So the war party and its Saudi and Israeli allies tell us every day that Iran is on the march, controlling capitals throughout the Middle East: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and now Sana’a.

But this is absurd. Iran is not on the march. George W. Bush knowingly delivered Baghdad to Iran-friendly Iraqi Shiites in 2003. The Assad regime in Syria is a long-time Iranian ally that Obama and his first secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, declared open season on, emboldening al-Qaeda and its more-virulent mutation, ISIS. Iran’s friends in Lebanon, the political party Hezbollah, formed itself in response to Israel’s 1982 invasion and long occupation. None of these demonstrate an aggressive Iran. A better explanation is that those alliances help Iran cope with the American encirclement. (Recall: the CIA overthrew Iran’s democratic government in 1953 and was complicit in Iraq’s 1980s offensive war against Iran, in which Saddam Hussein used U.S.-facilitated chemical weapons. Since then, U.S. presidents and Israel’s government have attacked Iran in many ways: economic, cyber, proxy-terrorist, and covert.)

And what of Yemen, where the Houthis drove out the U.S.-backed autocratic president while also fighting declared enemies of the United States, Sunni al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Yemeni affiliate of ISIS? Yes, the Houthis practice a kind of Shiite Islam, Zaidi, but it differs importantly from Iranian Shiism. In fact, the Houthis are merely the latest manifestation of a long-oppressed Yemeni religious minority seeking autonomy from the central government. After years of being frustrated, lied to, and double-crossed, it finally moved on that government. Say what you will about the group, but don’t call it an agent of Iran.

Saudi Arabia sees Iran as a menace, but the kingdom is hardly credible, and the Obama administration is likely to be placating the royal family now that a nuclear deal with Iran may be at hand. As independent researcher Jonathan Marshall notes, “Decades before Iran became an enemy, however, Saudi Arabia began intervening in its southern neighbor [Yemen]. Besides grabbing land, the Saudis poured vast sums of money into Yemen to promote its extreme brand of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism. In 2009, it invaded northern Yemen to attack the Houthis, unsuccessfully.”

Marshall adds, “Washington has also inserted itself in Yemen’s civil conflicts for decades.”

Of course Washington has been killing Yemenis with drones — not all of them even “suspected terrorists” — since 2001, when the corrupt and oppressive government in Sana’a became an ally in the “war on terror.”

“Yemen’s government repeatedly used U.S. military aid to support an all-out assault against the Houthis (“Operation Scorched Earth”),” Marshall writes, “causing extensive civilian casualties.”

As we should know by now, U.S. intervention is no innocent mistake.

April 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Mercenaries and the Starvation of Yemen

By Thomas C. Mountain | Black Agenda Report | April 15, 2015

The Saudi military is almost entirely staffed by mercenaries. The Saudi jets bombing an air defenseless Yemen are piloted by Pakistanis. Its mid and low level officers are mainly from Jordan and, most ominously for its ability to actually launch a ground invasion, its rank and file soldiers are almost entirely from Yemen.

That’s right, the Saudi army is packed full of Yemeni cannon fodder, which helps explains its ignominious failure in its war with Yemen’s Houthi’s in 2009.

Does anyone really believe that the Yemeni soldiers for hire in the Saudi army are going to willingly, never mind effectively, invade their own country, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, all the while killing, and being killed by, their Yemeni brothers and sisters?

This may explain the reluctance of the Saudi leadership to launch their promised invasion, especially while the Houthi militia’s are still an effective fighting force on the ground.

Supposedly Egypt is going to send its army to help invade Yemen, never mind Yemen being the graveyard for thousands of Egyptian soldiers in what the late President Nasser called “Egypt’s Vietnam” in the early-mid 1960’s.

The Egyptian army is made up of mostly illiterate conscripts dragooned from the poorest sectors of Egyptian society and has been particularly inept at suppressing the vicious insurgency being waged again President Al Sisi’s regime in the Sinai. If the Egyptian army can’t even control its own territory it certainly doesn’t bode well for any foreign misadventures it may undertake.

Of course, it takes time to prepare the logistics needed to send a large fighting force to invade another country, so Egyptian boots on the ground in Yemen may yet happen, but don’t hold your breath.

If Yemeni artillery and rockets start blasting shipping of the “Saudi led coalition,” a demand being expressed by massive Yemeni demonstrations, Egypt wont have much choice. The “Bab al Mandeb” (so aptly named “the gate of tears”) is so narrow that all shipping traveling through this strategic choke point between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea have to pass well within range of even light artillery. President Al Sisi has already raised the alarm of the danger if such a disaster should strike, though preventing such is easier said than done.

And all the while starvation spreads through out Yemen, a country already one of the hungriest in the world. Yemen is one of the most food aid dependent countries on the planet, importing by some accounts up to 90% of its food.

The Saudi leadership must figure if they can’t defeat the Yemeni resistance with their air power they will cut off all food supplies and wait for starvation to bring Yemen to its knees?

To help hurry this process up Saudi war planes have already begun bombing major grain depots in Yemen, as all the while the “Saudi led coalition” has prevented all but the equivalent of a couple of truck loads of supplies flown in by the Red Cross. A couple of truck loads to feed a food aid dependent country of almost 25 million in the midst of a barbaric air bombardment?

As the Saudi air force continues to terrorize the Yemeni population with bombs marked “made in the USA” and malnutrition turns to outright starvation, the immediate future for the people of Yemen grows darker by the day.

One thing is certain and that is our world operates under “the rule of law” – the law of the jungle, that is, and any crime, including imposing mass starvation will only be met with acquiescence, if not assistance, as Saudi Arabia’s mercenary army continues its aerial onslaught and enforced starvation against the people of Yemen.

April 15, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia’s Alleged Involvement in the 9/11 Attacks. “Red-Herring”, Propaganda Ploy

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky | Global Research | April 13, 2015

The 9/11 narrative in the mainstream media has taken on a new slant. The FBI is now accused of whitewashing Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

The alleged Saudi involvement in supporting Osama bin Laden, not to mention the classified 28 pages of the 9/11 joint Congressional inquiry pertaining to the insidious role of Saudi Arabia in supporting the hijackers is  part of a propaganda ploy.

When the report of Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 was released in December 2002, it was met with considerable skepticism. That skepticism grew for a period of time but then was reduced to speculation about what was contained in the 28 pages that had been redacted by the Bush White House.

Various U.S. government leaders have since suggested that the missing 28 pages point to Saudi Arabia’s complicity in the 9/11 crimes. However such musings fail to discuss other important issues, like the links between the Saudi regime and the Western deep state, or the fact that, from the start, even the Saudis were calling for the 28 pages to be released. Discussion of the missing 28 pages also omits mention of the highly suspicious nature of the Inquiry’s investigation and its leaders. (Kevin Ryan, The 9/11 Joint Congressional Inquiry and the 28 Missing Pages, Global Research, March 14, 2014

The report of the FBI 9/11 Review Commission (25 March 2015) has revealed circumstances which allegedly were withheld by the FBI from both the 9/11 Commission headed by former Jersey Governor Thomas Kean as well from the joint Senate House inquiry committee chaired by former Senator Bob Graham. Graham.

And now agencies of the US government including the FBI are being accused of protecting the Saudis. This alleged Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks has served to precipitate segments of the 9/11 Truth movement into an erroneous and contradictory discourse. On the part of the US government and its intelligence apparatus, the objective is to ultimately to build a narrative which will weaken the 9/11 Truth movement.

The purpose of this new propaganda ploy is ultimately to sustain the legend that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks and that Saudi Arabia relentlessly supported Al Qaeda, namely that Saudi Arabia acted as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

In this regard, the media reports intimate that if the Saudi connection is confirmed by the 28 classified pages, this “would make 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war by a foreign government.”

There is, however, an obvious hiccup in this reasoning: if  the Saudis were indeed the State sponsors of 9/11, why on earth did the US and the Atlantic Alliance (under the doctrine of collective security) choose to wage a “Just War” of retribution against Afghanistan. Did they get there countries mixed up?

9/11 Truth

Many 9/11 Truthers across America are now calling for the release of the 28 classified pages. They are also accusing the FBI of coverup and complicity.

All eyes are on the classified 28 pages, which document Saudi support for the alleged hijackers. Meanwhile, the irrefutable evidence of controlled demolition of the Twin Towers –not to mention the mysterious collapse of WTC 7 which was announced by CNN and the BBC more than 20 minutes before it occurred–  no longer constitutes the centrefold of the 9/11 Truth movement: ’The Saudis are behind 9/11 and our government is protecting them.”

Framed in a “Tele Novela” style scenario featuring wealthy Saudis in the plush suburban surroundings of Sarasota, Florida two weeks before 9/11, the New York Post describes the circumstances of Saudi involvement (quoting the FBI 9/11 Review Commission Report) in an article entitled How the FBI is whitewashing the Saudi connection to 9/11:

“Just 15 days before the 9/11 attacks, a well-connected Saudi family suddenly abandoned their luxury home in Sarasota, Fla., leaving behind jewelry, clothes, opulent furniture, a driveway full of cars — including a brand new Chrysler PT Cruiser — and even a refrigerator full of food.

About the only thing not left behind was a forwarding address. The occupants simply vanished without notifying their neighbors, realtor or even mail carrier.

The 3,300-square-foot home on Escondito Circle (see image right) belonged to Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of then-King Fahd. But at the time, it was occupied by his daughter and son-in-law, who beat a hasty retreat back to Saudi Arabia just two weeks before the attacks after nearly a six-year stay here.

Neighbors took note of the troubling coincidence and called the FBI, which opened an investigation that led to the startling discovery that at least one “family member” trained at the same flight school as some of the 9/11 hijackers in nearby Venice, Fla.

… The Saudi-9/11 connection in Florida was no small part of the overall 9/11 investigation. Yet it was never shared with Congress. Nor was it mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report.

Now it’s being whitewashed again, in a newly released report by the 9/11 Review Commission, set up last year by Congress to assess “any evidence now known to the FBI that was not considered by the 9/11 Commission.” Though the FBI acknowledges the Saudi family was investigated, it maintains the probe was a dead end.

The panel’s report also doesn’t explain why visitor security logs for the gated Sarasota community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers, including 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta.

The three-member review panel was appointed by FBI Director James Comey, who also officially released the findings.

Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who in 2002 chaired the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, maintains the FBI is covering up a Saudi support cell in Sarasota for the hijackers. He says the al-Hijjis “urgent” pre-9/11 exit suggests “someone may have tipped them off” about the coming attacks.

Graham has been working with a 14-member group in Congress to urge President Obama to declassify 28 pages of the final report of his inquiry which were originally redacted, wholesale, by President George W. Bush.

….

Sources who have read the censored Saudi section say it cites CIA and FBI case files that directly implicate officials of the Saudi Embassy in Washington and its consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks — which if true, would make 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war by a foreign government. The section allegedly identifies high-level Saudi officials and intelligence agents by name, and details their financial transactions and other dealings with the San Diego hijackers. It zeroes in on the Islamic Affairs Department of the Saudi Embassy, among other Saudi entities.

The [FBI] review commission, however, concludes there is “no evidence” that any Saudi official provided assistance to the hijackers, even though the panel failed to interview Graham or his two key investigators — former Justice Department attorney Dana Lesemann and FBI investigator Michael Jacobson — who ran down FBI leads tying Saudi officials to the San Diego hijackers and documented their findings in the 28 pages. (emphasis added)

The key figure behind this new wave of propaganda is former Senator Bob Graham, who led the joint inquiry of the Senate and the House intelligence committees together with Rep. Porter Goss, a career CIA official who was subsequently appointed Director of National Intelligence (DNI) by the Bush administration. Graham coordinated the drafting and editing of the report including the 28 classified pages on Saudi Arabia.

While Graham is now heralded by the mainstream media as a 911 Truther, the evidence suggests that immediately in the wake of 9/11, he was involved (together with Porter Goss) in a coverup on behalf of Bush-Cheney. According to Kevin Ryan, “in the months following 9/11, both Goss and Graham rejected calls for an investigation”:

The Senate voted for one anyway, however, and that led both Bush and Cheney to attempt to stop it or limit its scope. Apparently the best they could do was to make sure that Goss and Graham were put in charge. That seemed to work as the Inquiry began in February 2002, more than five months after the attacks, and the approach taken was one of uncritical deference to the Bush Administration and the intelligence community.

Goss immediately made it clear that the Inquiry would not be looking for guilt or accountability with regard to 9/11. Saying he was “looking for solutions, not scapegoats,” Goss continued to defend the White House with regard to warnings the president had received about an impending attack, saying it was “a lot of nonsense.” The FBI did not cooperate but that didn’t seem to bother Goss and Graham. (Kevin Ryan, The 9/11 Joint Congressional Inquiry and the 28 Missing Pages, Global Research, March 14, 2014

Both the joint inquiry led by Graham and the 9/11 Commission were part of a Big Lie. And now Bob Graham and 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean are accusing the FBI of camouflage and the Saudis of collusion in the 9/11 attacks, while failing to acknowledge coverup and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.

According to Bob Graham in an interview with the Miami Herald,

 ’The FBI has served America through most of its history. There were stumbles by the agency before 9/11 and since the tragedy there has been a consistent effort to cover up the extent of Saudi Arabia’s involvement.’ (emphasis added)

And because Bob Graham accuses the FBI and the federal government, the 9/11 Truth movement applauds without realizing that these accusations directed against the FBI are “framed” with a view to sustaining the mainstream 9/11 narrative. What is at stake is a desperate ploy to uphold the legend that Muslims were behind 9/11 and that Saudi Arabia was behind the terrorists giving them money, with the FBI involved in a coverup, George W. Bush  protecting his Saudi cronies because the Bushes and the bin Ladens were “intimo amigos”.

Former Senator Graham  ”smells a rat” and that rat is the FBI and complicit government agencies:

“This is a pervasive pattern of covering up the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 by all of the agencies of federal government which have access to information that might illuminate Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11.”

“The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11, and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” he said, adding, “I am speaking of the kingdom,” or government, of Saudi Arabia, not just wealthy individual Saudi donors.

But who is the rat? The FBI or Senator Bob Graham who is visibly involved in a coverup on behalf of US intelligence? He accuses US government agencies of negligence, which serves to arouse protest against the FBI by many 9/11 Truthers.

Graham’s staged accusations thereby serve to distract the American public’s attention from the real evidence, amply documented  that the WTC towers were brought down through controlled demolition and that Islamic terrorists were not behind the 9/11 attacks. The issue of Saudi financial support of al Qaeda is not only known and documented since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war, it is irrelevant in establishing who was behind the terror attacks. Moreover, the contents of the 28 classified pages are known.

In a bitter irony, Graham’s track record (mentioned above) in supporting the official 9/11 narrative on behalf of Bush-Cheney is not mentioned:

Former Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who co-chaired a congressional inquiry into 9/11 — separate from the 9/11 Commission — stated, as though now it was obvious, “None of the people leading this investigation think it is credible that 19 people — most who could not speak English and did not have previous experience in the United States — could carry out such a complicated task without external assistance.”

Now, Graham says, a breakthrough may finally be around the corner with the upcoming declassification of the 28 pages of the “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Calling for the official release and publication of the 28 page classified section of the joint inquiry report pertaining to Saudi Arabia is an obvious red-herring. The objective is to confuse matters, create divisions within the 9/11 Truth movement and ultimately dispel the fact that the 9/11 attacks were a carefully organized False Flag event which was used to declare war on Afghanistan as well as usher in sweeping anti-terrorist legislation.

Both the Congressional inquiry as well the 9/11 Commission report are flawed, their objective was to sustain the official narrative that America was under attack on September 11, 2001. And Graham’s role in liaison with the CIA, is “damage control” with a view to protecting those who were behind the demolition of the WTC towers as well sustaining the Al Qaeda legend, which constitutes the cornerstone of US military doctrine under the so-called “Global War on Terrorism”.

Without 9/11 and the “Global War on Terrorism”, the warmongers in high office would not have a leg to stand on. In turn, 9/11 Truth is an encroachment which undermines war propaganda and the US-led campaign of Islamophobia, which is sweeping the Western World.

April 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Islamophobia, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saudi Arabia’s Other War

By Eric Draitser | CounterPunch | April 13, 2015

The Saudi war on Yemen has understandably come to dominate the headlines since it began in late March 2015. The international scope of the conflict – nominally including the participation of nearly a dozen Gulf countries – coupled with the obvious political and geopolitical implications, all but assured that nearly all mention of Saudi Arabia in the news would be in the context of this war. However, there is another war being waged by Saudi Arabia, this one entirely within its own borders.

While Riyadh viciously, and illegally, bombs the people of Yemen, it also continues to wage a brutal war of repression against its own Shia population. A significant minority inside Saudi Arabia, the Shia community has been repeatedly victimized by the heavy-handed, often murderous, tactics of Saudi security forces in a desperate attempt by the House of Saud to maintain its iron grip on power. Rather than being challenged to democratize and respect the rights of a minority, the Saudi government has chosen violence, intimidation, and imprisonment to silence the growing chorus of opposition.

Were it only the Shia minority being targeted however, this overt repression might be crudely caricatured as sectarian conflict within the context of “Iranian influence” on Saudi domestic politics; Iran being the bogeyman trotted out by Riyadh to justify nearly all of its criminal and immoral actions, from financing terror groups waging war on Syria to the bombardment of the people of Yemen. However, the Saudi government is also targeting bloggers, journalists, and activists who, despite their small numbers in the oppressive kingdom, have become prominent defenders of human rights, symbolizing an attempt, fruitless though it may be, to democratize and bring some semblance of social justice to the entirely undemocratic monarchy.

At War Against Its Own People

It is a well understood fact, almost universally recognized, that Saudi Arabia is one of the principal instigators of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world. Using a “divide and conquer” strategy that has worked with insidious perfection in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has managed to flex its geopolitical muscles and project its power without much threat to its own internal stability. However, there is increasingly a Shia movement within Saudi Arabia – we should not call it “sectarian” as it is about equality under the law – demanding its rights and legal protections that are undeniably incompatible with the absolutist, monarchical system that Saudi Arabia has erected.

Recent days have seen violent raids and clashes between Saudi security forces and residents throughout the overwhelmingly Shia Qatif province of Eastern Saudi Arabia, the most violent of which having taken place in the town of Awamiyah. In response to protests against Riyadh’s war on Yemen, the regime’s security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown that perhaps most accurately could be called violent suppression. As one activist and resident of Awamiyah told the Middle East Eye, “From 4pm until 9pm the gunfire didn’t stop… Security forces shot randomly at people’s homes, and closed all but one of the roads leading in and out of the village… It is like a war here – we are under siege.” A number of videos uploaded to YouTube seem to confirm the accounts of activists, though all eyewitness accounts remain anonymous for fear of government retribution.

Such actions as those described by activists in Awamiyah, and throughout Qatif, are nothing new. Over the last few years, the province has repeatedly seen upsurges of protests against the draconian policies of the government in Riyadh. Beginning in 2011, in concert with protests in Bahrain, Qatif became a hotbed of activism with increasingly significant demonstrations shaking the social foundations of the region, and rattling nerves in Riyadh which, with some justification, interpreted the growing democracy movement as a threat to its totalitarian control over the country. Responding to the “threat,” the Saudi government repeatedly unleashed its security forces to violently suppress the demonstrations, resulting in a number of deaths; the total remains unknown to this day as Saudi Arabia tightly controls the flow of such sensitive information.

Of course, these actions by the Saudi regime cannot be seen in a vacuum. Rather, they must be understood within the larger context of the events of the 2011 uprising, and ongoing resistance movement, in neighboring Bahrain. Long a vassal state of Saudi Arabia, the majority Shia Bahrain has been ruled by the al-Khalifa family, a Sunni dynasty that for years has lorded over the country in the interests of their patrons and protectors in Saudi Arabia. When in 2011, much of the country erupted in protests against the totalitarian Khalifa regime, it was Saudi Arabia which militarily intervened on behalf of their proxies.

Despite being the leading edge of what would come to be known as the “Arab Spring,” the uprising in Bahrain was largely forgotten amid the far more catastrophic events in Libya and Syria. Naturally, it should be noted that Saudi Arabia played a central in sponsoring both of those conflicts, as protests were transmogrified into terrorist wars backed by Saudi money and jihadi networks. In the midst of the regional instability, Saudi intervention in Bahrain became, conveniently enough for Riyadh, “lost in the shuffle.” So, while the world hemmed and hawed about “dictators” in Libya and Syria, and marshaled political, diplomatic, and military forces to bring regime change to both, the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia continued to prop up its proxies in Bahrain, while suppressing the uprisings at home.

But while many would claim that Saudi actions are dictated not by authoritarianism but a continuing geopolitical struggle with Shia Iran, such arguments seem frivolous when considering the repression of freedom of speech within Saudi Arabia.

It is not sectarianism and “Iranian meddling” that has caused the Saudi regime to convict Raif Badawi, a liberal blogger and independent journalist, for the crime of “insulting Islam” for daring to question the draconian laws enforced by the reactionary monarchy and its police state apparatus. Not only was Badawi sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes, he was also originally tried on the absurd charge of “apostasy” which could have carried a death sentence. Indeed, though these charges were thrown out, reports have emerged in recent months that the apostasy charge may be brought back in a second trial; the punishment for a conviction would be beheading. So, physical abuse, long-term imprisonment, and a possible death sentence for a blogger who had the temerity to voice his opinion about political and social issues. And this country has the gall to intervene in Yemen on behalf of “democracy”?

Speaking of death sentences handed down by Saudi authorities for publicly airing one’s beliefs, the case of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr also highlights the deeply unjust policies of the regime. A vocal supporter of the Qatif protests, Nimr was convicted of the crime of “disobeying” the Saudi government by seeking “foreign meddling” in the country. An obvious reference to the ever-present bogeyman of Iran, the spurious charges have been widely interpreted as an attempt to silence a major critic of the regime, one who has the support of the significant Shia minority. Saudi courts have sentenced Nimr to death for the “crime” of supporting the protests seeking democratization and a respect for minority rights. That decision was appealed, and last month a Saudi court upheld the death sentence.

While the House of Saud might peddle its propaganda of Iranian meddling with regard to Sheikh Nimr with some success, what of Badawi? Is he also an “agent” working on behalf of Iran? What of the estimated 12,000-30,000 political prisoners held in Saudi jails under very dubious pretexts?

Rights? What Rights?

The Saudi regime attempts to frame all of its blatant human rights abuses in the context of legitimate law enforcement. But this is a poorly conceived illusion, and cruel insult to the very concept of human rights. While the Saudis attempt to lecture countries like Syria about “human rights” and treatment of the people, Saudi Arabia remains perhaps the world leader in systematic and institutional oppression of its own citizens.

The infamous repression of women in Saudi Arabia has earned the country international scorn, but the regime scoffs at such conclusions. As the Washington Post wrote in 2013:

Saudi Arabia’s restrictions on women go far, far beyond just driving, though. It’s part of a larger system of customs and laws that make women heavily reliant on men for their basic, day-to-day survival… each Saudi woman has a “male guardian,” typically their father or brother or husband, who has the same sort of legal power over her that a parent has over a child. She needs his formal permission to travel, work, go to school or get medical treatment. She’s also dependent on him for everything: money, housing, and, because the driving ban means she needs a driver to go anywhere, even the ability to go to the store or visit a friend… The restrictions go beyond the law: women are often taught from an early age to approach the world outside their male guardian’s home with fear and shame… [they are] warned against the “dangers that threaten the Muslim woman,” such as listening to music, going to a mixed-gender mall or answering the telephone.

It takes an unfathomable degree of hypocrisy to oppress women in this way, and then lecture Syria – a secular socialist country where women’s rights and freedoms are guaranteed, and where women have every educational and professional opportunity they might have in the West – about its treatment of its citizens. It is staggering the gall required of an unelected feudal monarchy to chastise the Yemeni rebels, and make a case for “legitimacy” in government.

Naturally, Saudi Arabia gets away with such egregious hypocrisy not because it isn’t obvious to the world, it most certainly is. Instead, the House of Saud is able to carry on its repression because of its powerful patron in Washington. Because the regime has for decades furthered the geopolitical agenda of the United States, it has managed to continue its brutal repression facing only minimal outcry. Though there is scrutiny from international human rights organizations, the government is not sanctioned; it is not isolated by the much touted “international community.” Instead it continues on with its oppressive policies and aggression against its neighbors.

Saudi bombs are falling on Yemen as you read this. Saudi-sponsored ISIS terrorists are waging war on Syria and Iraq as you read this. Saudi-sponsored terror groups all over the Middle East and Africa continue to destabilize whole corners of the globe. Activists in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia itself are being brutally oppressed by the Saudi regime and its proxies.

And yet, the House of Saud remains a US ally, while Assad or the Houthis or Iran or Hezbollah (take your pick) are the great villain? It is plainly obvious that right and wrong, good and evil, are mere designations of political expediency for Saudi Arabia and, taken more broadly, the US and the imperial system it leads.

Eric Draitser can be reached at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

April 13, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 2 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 967 other followers