Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Guardian, NYT Paint Power-Grabbing Saudi Dictator as Roguish, Visionary ‘Reformer’

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | November 17, 2017

Guardian: Saudi arrests show crown prince is a risk-taker with a zeal for reform

The Guardian (11/5/17)

Two weeks ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman carried out a brutal crackdown on his political opponents, arresting dozens of high-ranking relatives, kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon, and seeing eight of his political rivals die in a convenient helicopter crash. The “consolidation of power” by the de facto Saudi ruler comes as his government ramps up its siege of Yemen and gets even closer to its US sponsor, thanks to a Trump’s dopey love affair with—and direct assistance of—the regime.

The cynical plan has been met, in some media quarters, with condemnation, but for many in the Western press, Mohammed’s self-serving power grab is the action of a bold “reformer,” a roguish bad boy doing the messy but essential work of “reforming” the kingdom—the “anti-corruption” pretext of the purge largely repeated without qualification. The most prominent sources for this spin were two major newspapers, the New York Times and Guardian:

  • Guardian (11/5/17): “Royal Purge Sends Shockwaves Through Saudi Arabia’s Elites: Move Consolidates Power of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as He Attempts to Reform Kingdom’s Economy and Society”
  • Guardian (11/5/17) : “Saudi Arrests Show Crown Prince Is a Risk-Taker With a Zeal for Reform: Mohammed Bin Salman Is Confronting Some of the Kingdom’s Richest and Most Powerful Men in His Anti-Corruption Drive—but Is He Taking on Too Much Too Fast?
  • Guardian (11/6/17): “Oil Price Rises to Two-Year High After Saudi Arabia Purge: Markets Push Price Up to $62 a Barrel After Anti-Corruption Purge by Billionaire Crown Prince Who Backs Prolonging Oil Production Curbs”
  • Guardian  (11/7/17): “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform: Consolidation of Power in Mohammed Bin Salman’s Hands Has Upended All Aspects of Society, Including Previously Untouchable Ultra-Elite
  • New York Times (11/5/17): “Saudi Crown Prince’s Mass Purge Upends a Longstanding System”
  • New York Times (11/14/17): “The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Wind”

While the text of the Times articles was far more skeptical about Mohammed’s motives, the Guardian’s (11/5/17) initial coverage of the bloody purge—not just the headlines—was written in breathless press release tones:

Saudi Arabia’s leadership has pulled off its boldest move yet to consolidate power around its young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arresting 11 senior princes, one of the country’s richest men and scores of former ministers in what it billed as a corruption purge.

The move sidelined at least 20 senior figures, among them outspoken billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, sending shockwaves through the ranks of the kingdom’s elites, who had long viewed senior royals as immune.

Lots of glowing prose to unpack here. Longtime Mideast correspondent Martin Chulov began by referring to “Saudi Arabia’s leadership,” which is a nice, sterile way of referencing the country’s unelected hereditary king and crown prince. Then he pivoted into marketing pablum about “bold moves” and “consolidating power,” before unironically framing the purge as an “anti-corruption” gesture designed to stick it to the “kingdom’s elites.” One could come away from reading this lead with the impression that the billionaire aristocrat was a populist folk hero in the vein of Robin Hood or John Dillinger. The thrilling profile continued:

Prince Mohammed will oversee the corruption commission, adding to his already formidable list of responsibilities, including his role as Defense minister and champion of the economic transformation, dubbed Vision 2030, that aims to revolutionize most aspects of Saudi life within 12 years.

Prince Mohammed told the Guardian last month that the kingdom had been “not normal” for the past 30 years and pledged to return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam.

While the author had a “to be sure” paragraph, citing “others” calling it a “naked attempt to weed out dissent,” the overall thrust of the article was that a roguish billionaire Boy King was earnestly seeking “reform” and opposing “elites.”

A follow-up piece (11/7/17) took flattering coverage to new extremes. The dispatch, again by Chulov, cited nothing but anonymous Saudi court hanger-ons and a Gulf-funded talking head from the NATO-aligned Atlantic Council think tank. The article, “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform,” was populated with blind quotes from such adversarial voices as a “senior minister,” “a senior Saudi official,” a “senior figure,” a “senior Saudi businessman” and “veteran business leaders.” (Evidently no junior officials or rookie business leaders were available for comment.)

The article painted the “consolidation of power” by Mohammed as an inevitability with broad support—using the dubious “reform” narrative without irony. With Guardian editors again painting Mohammed as a populist hero by insisting he “upended” “previously untouchable ultra-elite,” one is left to wonder why they don’t consider the absolute-monarch-in-waiting—who just bought a $590 million yacht—part of the “ultra elite.” It’s a curious framing that reeks more of PR than journalism.

NYT: The Young and Brash Saudi Crown Prince

The New York Times (6/23/17) 

This was a trope one could see emerging over the past few months. Similar “bold reformer” frames were used in New York Times editorials (“The Young and Brash Saudi Crown Prince,” 6/23/17) and straight reporting (“Saudi Arabia’s Grand Plan to Move Beyond Oil: Big Goals, Bigger Hurdles,” 10/24/17). Everything’s new and exciting. The brutal, routine functions of the Saudi state are seen as laws of nature—and those in charge of it are the reformers of the very oppression they initially authored.

A Guardian editorial on November 7 was critical of the government, calling it “regressive” and Mohammed “belligerent,” but ultimately rested on “both sides” framing of recent events. The only meaningfully critical coverage of Saudi Arabia coming from the Guardian since the purge has been in two articles (11/12/17, 11/16/17), both in the context of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. Neither mentioned bin Salman, and both stressed how the Saudis are responding in earnest to international pleas to stop their mass-murdering blockade of the Arab world’s poorest country.

Per usual, the Guardian reserves the label “regime” for Official Enemies like Syria and North Korea; Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a regime, it has “leadership.” Unlike adversary governments, often seen in need of “regime change,” the Saudi government merely requires “reform”—and a bold new “reformer,” of the sort championed by the likes of the Guardian and New York Times.


You can send a message to the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com , and to the Guardian at guardian.letters@theguardian.com (Twitter@NYTimes, @Guardian). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Security Council-appointed panel says no missiles sent to Houthis, refuting Saudi Arabia claim

Press TV – November 18, 2017

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

The panel made the conclusion in a confidential assessment sent to Security Council diplomats on November 10, The Intercept, a US-based investigative website, reported on Friday.

On November 4, a missile attack from Yemen targeted the King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) near the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It was the first missile from Yemen to have reached deep inside Saudi territory.

The Houthi movement, which has been fighting back a Saudi-led coalition with allied Yemeni army troops and tribal fighters, said it had fired the missile, which the Saudis said they had intercepted mid-air.

However, the Riyadh regime quickly blamed the Islamic Republic for the incident.

Heating up rhetoric against Iran, and then being proven wrong

In a November 7 letter to the Security Council, Saudi UN Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi claimed that the debris of the missiles fired by the Houthis on July 22 and November 4 confirmed Iran’s role “in manufacturing these missiles.”

Following the attack, the Saudi-led coalition tightened a blockade that had already been imposed on Yemen in a bid to prevent “the smuggling of weapons, ammunitions, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran” to the Houthis.

It invoked Paragraph 14 of Security Council Resolution 2216, which was passed in April 2015, calling for measures to prevent the supply, sale, or transfer of military goods to Houthi fighters.

The coalition said the missile’s firing was “a blatant act of military aggression” by the Iranian government.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said it had been “a direct military aggression” by Iran against Saudi Arabia, while Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir stressed that his country reserved the right to “respond in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time.”

The belligerent Saudi posture toward Iran worked to significantly raise tensions.

Iran rejected the allegations as “provocative and baseless,” saying Yemenis had shown an “independent” reaction to the Saudi bombing campaign on their country.

Iran also said that it could not transfer any weapons to Yemen because of the Saudi-led blockade.

The Security Council-appointed panel said in its confidential assessment that it had seen no evidence to back up the Saudi claims that short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) had been transferred to Yemeni fighters in violation of the Resolution 2216.

It said the tightening of the blockade by the Saudi-led coalition and its invoking of Resolution 2216 had been an attempt to merely “obstruct” the delivery of civilian aid.

“The panel finds that imposition of access restrictions is another attempt by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to use paragraph 14 of resolution 2216 as justification for obstructing the delivery of commodities that are essentially civilian in nature,” the assessment read.

Touching on the July 22 attack, it said, “The supporting evidence provided… is far below that required to attribute this attack to a Qiam-1 SRBM.”

Yemen has witnessed a deadly Saudi-led war since March 2015. The protracted Saudi offensive, which has been accompanied by the, land, naval, and aerial blockade on Yemen, has so far killed over 12,000 people and led to a humanitarian crisis.

The UN has listed Yemen as the world’s number one humanitarian crisis, with 17 million Yemenis in need of food and a cholera epidemic causing over 2,200 deaths so far.

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

Hariri Released from Saudi Arabia, Son and Daughter Still in Riyadh

Al-Manar | November 18, 2017

Lebanese PM Saad Hariri arrived in Paris early on Saturday after being held for 13 days in Riyadh by Saudi authorities. Hariri is accompanied by his wife, but his son and daughter are still in Saudi capital, in a move that raises many questions.

Hariri arrived in Le Bourget airport at 8:00 a.m. (Beirut time). He drove the car to his house in Paris by himself, local media reported.

Hariri was accompanied by his wife Lara, but his son Abdul Aziz and daughter Lulua are still in Riyadh, according to local media. Meanwhile, Hariri’s eldest son Hussam, who was in London, flew to Paris late on Friday to meet his father.

Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, who is also a member in Hariri’s parliamentary bloc, along with the PM’s bureau chief Nader Hariri arrived in Paris to meet the Lebanese premier.

As Hariri left Saudi Arabia, a tweet posted on his Twitter account read: “To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie. I am on the way to the airport.”

Hariri’s arrival in France comes as Lebanon, led by President Michel Aoun, launched a diplomatic campaign aimed at revealing the reality behind Hariri’s absence since he announced his shock resignation on November 4 from Riyadh.

President Aoun on Wednesday stated it clearly that Hariri is detained in Riyadh.

Earlier this week Lebanese FM, Gebran Bassil made a tour in European countries in which he met with high level European officials. During the tour, Bassil’s move was supported by European officials who condemned interference in Lebanese internal affairs and called for Hariri’s return.

In a move seen as an exit to the crisis, French president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday invited Hariri and his family to visit France for a “few days”. On Thursday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Hariri “has accepted an invitation” to travel to Paris.

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Palestine: Saudi Arabia, Egypt using Rafah crossing to pressure us

MEMO | November 17, 2017

The Rafah crossing between the besieged Gaza Strip and Egypt is being used a tool to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to enter into US-backed peace talks with Israel, a Palestinian Authority official has said.

“The Rafah crossing has become a tool that Egypt and Saudi Arabia use to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the entry into a new round of US-backed negotiations with Israel,” the PA official said, warning that “the negotiations could reach results that may affect the rights of the Palestinians.”

According to the Cairo agreement which was signed on 12 October, Egypt agreed with Fatah and Hamas to reopen the Rafah border crossing last Tuesday, but the official said that “Saudi Arabia seemed to have pressured Egypt to retreat until the PA approves the two-state solution deal.”

The official described the exploiting of the only humanitarian crossing for Gaza’s residents as “suspicious”.

“They [Arab countries] are using the crossing to strengthen their ties with the US and Israel” he added.

Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade, with tight restrictions in place on the movement of people and goods at its crossings, citing the need to control Hamas and stop Islamic groups from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used against Tel Aviv. Egypt has supported the blockade by closing the Rafah crossing, leaving Palestinian in Gaza no access to the outside world.

Gaza’s two million residents suffer from worsening humanitarian conditions, with only a few hours of power a day and a lack of clean water. Control of the Rafah crossing at Gaza’s southern border has long been a sticking point between the two Palestinian factions, and between Egypt and the Palestinians in Gaza for whom the crossing represents a vital gateway to the outside world.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lebanon FM: Hariri crisis ‘part of attempt to create chaos’

Press TV – November 17, 2017

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says the crisis over the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is part of an “attempt to create chaos in the region.”

Speaking in Moscow on Friday, Bassil said Lebanon has the “full powers” to respond to the crisis, but hoped this would not be necessary.

“We will respond and we have the full powers to do that, but we hope it doesn’t come to that,” he said.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said that Hariri, who resigned as prime minister on Nov. 4, is being detained in Saudi Arabia against his will – despite the premier’s reassurances he would return home soon.

On Friday, a senior Hariri aide was quoted as saying that Hariri will see France’s president on Saturday in Paris and the meeting will help resolve the Lebanese crisis and boost stability.

Bassil has been touring European capitals to lobby for Hariri’s return. On Thursday, he warned that Lebanon should not be treated as a plaything by any country.

“Lebanon is not a toy in others’ hands,” the Lebanese foreign minister said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin.

Gabriel said he shared concerns about the threat of instability and bloodshed in Lebanon and, without mentioning Saudi Arabia directly, warned against the “adventurism” behind the Lebanon crisis and the “human tragedy in Yemen.”

“We expect that Prime Minister Hariri can come back to Beirut,” he added.

Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen since 2015 to restore its Riyadh-allied government, killing many thousands in the process.

Bassil, for his part, said, the “Hariri issue is actually a matter of Lebanon’s sovereignty,” and called on Arab countries to “not interfere with Lebanon’s internal matters.”

The Lebanese foreign minister also said further turmoil in his country, which is already hosting thousands of refugees fleeing violence in neighboring Syria, would create a new influx of asylum seekers to Europe.

Bassil also visited Turkey on Thursday and is to travel to Russia on Friday, where he is about to meet with Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov.

At a joint presser with Bassil, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Hariri’s “immediate” return.

“We support Lebanon’s unity, integrity and stability, and we oppose any development that would risk Lebanon’s stability,” he said.

“Lebanon does not need any other problems. On the contrary, we need to contribute to the solution of the existing problems.”

Bassil also held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | 3 Comments

Lebanon FM Reveals Attempt to Intimidate Country Into Canceling Russian Gas Deal

Sputnik – 17.11.2017

Lebanese Foreign Minister Geral Bassil has held a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We are about to sign our first contract on gas field exploration on the shelf with the participation of Russian companies. We are now seeing an attempt to make Lebanon leave this positive path,” Geral Bassil said.

“A campaign to scare Lebanon, to create obstacles in its path with the use of terrorist forces under different pretexts is underway,” the minister said, adding that “the campaign against Lebanon is being carried out by the same forces that support terrorists in Syria.”

At the same time, according to Bassil, Lebanon wanted to preserve good relations with Saudi Arabia despite the surprise resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

“We never took any diplomatic steps that would escalate the situation,” Bassil said.

The top diplomat said that “some parties” to the conflict were trying to displace the head of the country from his office, adding that he expected Hariri to return to the country following his visit to France.

“We hope that Russia will continue building up its influence in the Middle East in order to form a balance of powers in the region,” Bassil added.

According to the minister, Beirut will respond to any attempt of interference in its internal affairs, stressing that the country’s sovereignty cannot be “bought and sold.”

For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “we are interested in Lebanon being safe and with the effective participation of all branches of power. And the most important thing, we support the resolution of all urgent issues by the Lebanese themselves without any external interference.”

The Lebanese Crisis

Previously, Moscow has voiced concern over the shock resignation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and urged all external forces that could influence the situation in Lebanon to show restraint and constructive approaches.

The situation in Lebanon escalated two weeks ago when then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation in a video address made from Saudi Arabia. The former minister expressed fears that he could be assassinated, like his father, in Lebanon, as well as accusing Tehran and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement of alleged attempts to destabilize the situation in the country and the Middle East, a claim strongly denied by the Islamic Republic as groundless.

While Lebanese President Michel Aoun has been accusing Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri and his family, Riyadh has strongly denied the claims as “groundless.” Hariri himself has repeatedly reiterated his intention to return to Lebanon in the next few days after his planned trip to France at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron, saying that he is “perfectly fine.”

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran’s UN envoy slams Canada’s double standards on human rights

Canadians protest in support of indigenous women
Press TV – November 15, 2017

A senior Iranian diplomat has blasted Canada for proposing a “politically-motivated” UN resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran, while Ottawa, itself, has long been involved in a broad range of human rights abuses at home and elsewhere.

Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Es’haq Al-e Habib was reacting to a Canada-drafted human rights resolution, which was adopted Tuesday against Iran by the Third Committee of UN General Assembly with 83 votes in favor, 30 against and 68 abstentions.

Speaking during the session, Al-e Habib rejected the document as “politically-motivated” and said “double standards are an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy.”

“We regret that few unscrupulous Governments continue challenging integrity and credibility of the United Nations through pushing for this politically-motivated resolution that only underscores how selective, irrelevant and subjective UN decisions could sometimes become,” he added.

He pointed to some examples of Canada’s non-compliance by its international human rights obligations, including Ottawa’s discriminatory policies against indigenous people and its support for the Israeli regime.

“Ottawa along with very few others in the whole world have consistently and unconditionally supported Israel despite all the gross, abhorrent and systematic violations of human rights committed by that regime. This level of hypocrisy and double standard is mind-boggling,” the Iranian envoy pointed out.

Al-e Habib also referred to Canada’s discriminatory policies against its own indigenous people, adding, “While police brutality, forced disappearances and murder of the indigenous people are well documented, indigenous women and girls continue to suffer from the institutionalized discrimination and violence.”

“Canada should have realized thus far that such a pointless and futile exercise is a disservice to the human rights cause, a harmful measure against the UN human rights mechanisms and a disrespect to the wisdom of the people who closely monitor Canada’s selective stances on human rights situations,” the Iranian envoy said.

Saudi Arabia rights violations

During the session, Al-e Habib also lashed out at Saudi Arabia for supporting the Canada-drafted resolution against Iran, while Riyadh itself has been blatantly violating human rights both at home and in different parts of the world.

The Iranian envoy noted that Saudi Arabia kills more children in Yemen than al-Qaeda, Daesh and al-Nusra put together around the globe, adding, “Saudi regime being a partner in the global fight against terrorism and intolerance is blatant mockery of humanity, human rights, justice and peace.”

“Spending billions of dollars buying beautiful arms and Western public relation corporations cannot hide the real face of Saudi, whose money also fuels sectarianism in the Persian Gulf, Middle East and the world,” he said.

Al-e Habib went on to enumerate some instances of rights violations by Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh’s crackdown on all forms of dissent across the country, particularly in the eastern city of Awamiyah, mainly populated by minority Shia Muslims.

He highlighted the slavery of hundreds of thousands of female migrant workers inside Saudi Arabia, the systemic violation of human rights of minorities there.

The Iranian official also drew attention to the Saudi massacre of thousands of Yemeni civilians during its military campaign against the impoverished country as well as the number of the kingdom’s nationals, who have joined Takfiri terror outfits such as al-Qaeda, Daesh and al-Nusra Front.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi-led coalition air raid puts Yemen’s Sana’a airport out of service

MEMO | November 14, 2017

An air raid by the Saudi-led military coalition put the Ansarullah-controlled Yemeni airport in the capital Sana’a out of service today, jeopardising relief shipments to a country on the brink of famine, the state news agency SABA reported.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Ansarullah movement said last week it had closed all air, land and seaports in Yemen to stem what it said was the flow of arms to the Ansarullah from Iran.

Air raids destroyed radio navigation station for aircraft, civil aviation authorities told SABA, which is controlled by Ansarullah.

Air traffic in Sana’a’s airport is currently restricted to flights carrying humanitarian aid sent by the United Nations and other international organisations.

The Ansarullah control most of the north, including Sana’a and its international airport, while the Saudi-led coalition dominates the airspace. Any reopening would need an agreement between the two sides, which blame each other for Yemen’s humanitarian disaster.

The top UN aid official in Yemen called on the Saudi-led coalition today to open all Yemen’s sea ports urgently, saying it risked damaging the fight against cholera and hunger, with seven million already in “famine-like conditions”.

Millions of lives were at risk because of the blockade, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said to reporters in Geneva by telephone from Amman. The Saudi-led coalition was not immediately available for comment.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia and Israel Know They Cannot Defeat Iran, Want to Drag the US into an Uncontainable War

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald Tribune | November 13, 2107

There is considerable confusion about what is occurring in the Middle East, to include much discussion of whether Israel and Saudi Arabia have formally agreed to combine forces to increase both military and economic pressure on Iran, which both of them see as their principal rival in the region. During the past week, a classified message sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to all its diplomatic missions worldwide that appears to confirm that possibility was obtained and leaked by senior reporter Barak Ravid of Israel’s highly respected Channel 10 News.

The cable instructs Israeli diplomats to take coordinated steps designed to discredit the activities of the Iranian government. It states, in edited-for-brevity translation, that overseas missions should contact their host countries to emphasize that the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri over Iranian attempts to take over his country “illustrate once again the destructive nature of Iran and Hezbollah and their danger to the stability of Lebanon and the countries of the region;” that the argument that having Hezbollah in the Lebanese government provides stability is false and only serves to “promote the interests of a foreign power – Iran;” and that the launch of a ballistic missile from Yemen against Saudi Arabia confirms the need for “increased pressure on Iran and Hezbollah on a range of issues from the production of ballistic missiles to regional subversion.”

The Foreign Ministry message has been interpreted as “proof” that Israel and Saudi Arabia are coordinating to provoke a war against Iran as Israel is taking positions in support of Saudi claims, to include those relating to the confused conflict taking place in Yemen. My own take is, however, somewhat different. Having seen literally hundreds of similar U.S. State Department messages, I would regard the Israeli cable as consisting of specific “talking points” for use with foreign governments. Though it is clear that Tel Aviv and Riyadh have been secretly communicating over the past two years regarding their perception of the Iranian threat, it would be an exaggeration to claim that they have a coordinated position or some kind of alliance since they differ on so many other issues. They do, however, have common interests that are in this case aligned regarding the Iranians since both Israel and Saudi Arabia aspire to dominance in their region and only Iran stands in their way.

Both Saudi Arabia and Israel know they cannot defeat Iran and its proxies without the active participation of the United States. That would require shaping the “threat” narrative to start with a series of relatively minor military actions that appear defensive or non-controversial to draw the United States in without really appearing to do so. American involvement would be against Washington’s own interests in the region but it would serve Saudi and Israeli objectives, particularly if the situation is inherently unstable and is allowed to escalate. Both the Saudis and, more particularly, the Israelis have powerful lobbies in Washington that will push a friendly Congress for increased U.S. involvement and the Iranophobic mainstream media is likely to be similarly positive in helping to shape the arguments for American engagement.

It seems clear that the escalation will be starting in Lebanon, where the resignation of Prime Minister al-Hariri has created a plausible instability that can be exploited by Israel supported by heavy pressure from the Saudis to harden the Lebanese government line against Hezbollah. Hariri headed a coalition pulled together in 2016 that included nearly all of Lebanon’s main parties, including Hezbollah. It took office in a political deal that made Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian who has an understanding with Hezbollah, president. The inclusion of Hezbollah and the presence of a friendly Aoun was, at the time, seen as a victory for Iran.

By one account, Hariri has been more-or-less kidnapped by the Saudis because he was regarded as too accommodating to the Shi’ites in Lebanon and, if that is so, he was speaking from Riyadh’s script when he resigned while denouncing Iran and Hezbollah and claiming that he fled because he was about to be assassinated. It suggests that the Saudis and Israelis, who have been hyperbolically claiming that Tehran is about to take control of much of the Middle East, are feeling confident enough to move towards some kind of showdown with Iran. As a first step, expected deteriorating sectarian interaction between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims in Lebanon to eliminate any possibility of a bipartisan and functioning government will provide a pretext for staged intervention to “stabilize” the situation.

The United States has been largely silent but presumably privately approving the Israeli and Saudi moves, as Washington, Riyadh and Tel Aviv have all adamantly opposed the existence of the Lebanese coalition dominated by Aoun and Hezbollah’s Nasrullah. Israeli fighter aircraft will likely increase incursions into Lebanese airspace in light of the alleged instability north of the border, which will provoke a Lebanese response escalating into an incident that will lead to a major attack to bring the Beirut government down, though Israel will have to be careful to avoid a possible mass counter-strike by Hezbollah missiles. The ultimate objective might be to create a Saudi and Israeli inspired grand alliance, which might be a fantasy, to pushback Iranian influence in the entire region. Lebanon’s Hezbollah, opposed by the Saudis because it is Shi’a and by Israel because of its missile arsenal would be conveniently targeted as the first marker to fall.

There is every sign that the White House will go along with Riyadh and Tel Aviv in their attempts to rollback Iranian influence, starting in Lebanon, given the recent failure to certify the nuclear agreement with Iran and the comments of Generals Mattis and McMaster suggesting that war with the Mullahs is likely. It would be a grave misjudgment to think that such a war, once started, will be containable, but it is a mistake that Washington repeats over and over again in places like Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

November 13, 2017 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | 3 Comments

Saad Hariri gives awkward new interview that many believe was staged

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | November 13, 2107

When Saad Hariri appeared on Saudi state-run Al Arabiya television last week to deliver his “resignation” as the Lebanese Prime Minister, many felt that Hariri, who is also a Saudi citizen was being forced to resign by the Saudi regime.

Several obvious inconsistencies were present in the original “resignation” speech. First and most strangely, he read a speech that was written in a Gulfi dialect of Arabic and instead of using familiar Lebanese terminology, he used Saudi terminology which is largely foreign among Lebanese viewers.

Secondly, his resignation from foreign soil is not only incompatible with Lebanese legal procedure, but it is highly unusual in any context.

Finally, as Hariri owns his own television channel, Lebanon based Future TV, it was considered strange that his speech was exclusively broadcast on a Saudi state-run network.

Further evidence which emerged led Lebanese President Michel Aoun to join with other Lebanese parties including Hezbollah, the Amal movement and some members of Hariri’s own Future Movement to say that Hariri had been kidnapped by Saudi authorities and is being held against his will.

Last night’s interview from Saudi Arabian soil on Hariri’s Future TV was designed to assuage the fears that Hariri is a political hostage, but the interview left many more questions than answers.

Of the many perplexing answers Hariri gave, when asked why no one is able to contact him, he stated that it is because he is in “personal meditation”. This answer however, proved deeply unsatisfactory as even close personal colleagues have had no way of contacting Hariri, in spite of his high profile.

Also, while he assured the cameras that he is a free man and will come to Lebanon in a “matter of days” this vague timeline has led many to think that the statement was forced. Furthermore, when he said this, a shadow of a man was visible in the broadcast, with some indicating that Saudi handlers were putting pressure on Hariri to stick to a script even in the midst of the interview which Future TV’s representatives refused to confirm was live.

While continually gulping down glasses of water, Hariri appeared flustered and at one point even appeared to break down in tears.

While Hariri’s assertions that Hezbollah and “the Syrian regime” intend to kill him, claims which have not been supported by any evidence and which have been roundly debunked by the politically neutral Lebanese security services, Hariri’s body language rather than his seemingly Saudi authored statements, were the talk of Arabic social media in the aftermath of the puzzling interview.

When it comes to Hariri’s future there are several possible options.

1. Hariri remains in Saudi and Lebanon moves on 

In many ways, this is starting to look like the most realistic option. While Hariri claims he will return to Lebanon, this statement has been met with near universal scepticism. In other words, until people see it, they won’t believe it.

On the surface, this may still be an acceptable solution for Lebanon. While many predicted that the fragile multi-party Lebanese coalition government would collapse upon Hariri’s “resignation”, in reality, Lebanese parties from across the political spectrum, with only some scant exceptions, have remained committed to the coalition and rule of law in Lebanon. The mature response of Lebanese politicians was not something that Saudi Arabia and other who may have been behind the forced “resignation”, such as Israel, may have accounted for.

If Hariri does not return in the near future, Beirut’s relations with Riyadh will be deeply strained, but this might also have an unexpected positive effect of helping Lebanon to protect her sovereignty and national dignity with more strength than in previous years.

2. Hariri comes to Lebanon and causes trouble 

Hariri indicated in his interview that he may rescind his resignation if groups like Hezbollah commit to remaining neutral in conflicts such as the Syrian war against terrorism. This demand is unrealistic, unacceptable to Hezbollah and not practical for Lebanon as Hezbollah’s aid of the Syrian Arab Army in the fight against terrorism, has helped secure Lebanon from attacks by Takfiri terrorist groups. This is something that is acknowledged either openly or privately by Lebanese of many sectarian stripes.

If Hariri does return and attempt to sow discord in the coalition by effectively waging a pro-Saudi sectarian political war, this could in fact lead to political instability in Lebanon that thus far has been avoided.

However, if he did return and try to force Hezbollah out of the coalition with ridiculous demands, it would once and for all, expose the fact that Hariri was lying about fears for his safety at the hands of “Hezbollah, Iran and Syria”. After all, someone returning to Lebanon to ‘take on’ Hezbollah isn’t afraid, but is arrogant.

3. Hariri comes to Lebanon and resigns in disgrace 

Hariri’s star which was never particularly big and which in any case relied on the legacy of his more experienced father, is tarnished in Lebanon, perhaps beyond repair. Unless he were to come to Lebanon and denounce Saudi for kidnapping him, something which at this point seems unlikely given the amount of personal business Hariri conducts in Saudi (albeit with many purged Princes), he may be seen as more of a disgraced political liability than a ‘returned hero’.

The reason that most Lebanese are demanding his return is not a sign of support for Hariri’s policies, let alone his apparently subservient attitude to the Saudi regime, but because the kidnapping of a Prime Minister by a foreign power, is a matter of principle and national dignity.

If Lebanese and wider international pressure results in a return of Hariri, Lebanon will have won a moral victory, but Hariri himself will still be widely seen as something of a “loser”, to borrow Donald Trump’s favourite epithet.

Because of this, Hariri may find that his career in front line Lebanese politics may be incredibly diminished when he returns, at least in the immediate future. The leader of the Future Movement, is in this sense, already a thing of the past, in spite of his youth.

Conclusion: 

Saad Hariri’s interview was likely staged and the “freedom” he claimed he had was almost certainly an exaggeration at best, if not an outright lie. Because information from Saudi is so scant, only Hariri’s departure from Saudi Arabia will provide the penultimate evidence of his alleged freedom or perhaps better put, the end of his captivity.

The coming days may reveal more about Hariri’s true condition, but for now, the infamous interview has left the world none the wiser when it comes to what Saudi Arabia is actually doing to the effectively deposed Lebanese Premier.

November 13, 2017 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Arab states spent $130bn to destroy Syria, Libya, Yemen: Algerian PM

Press TV – November 12, 2017

Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia says some regional Arab states have spent $130 billion to obliterate Syria, Libya and Yemen.

Ouyahia made the remarks on Saturday at a time when much of the Middle East and North Africa is in turmoil, grappling with different crises, ranging from terrorism and insecurity to political uncertainty and foreign interference.

Algeria maintains that regional states should settle their differences through dialog and that foreign meddling is to their detriment.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since 2011. Takfirism, which is a trademark of many terrorist groups operating in Syria, is largely influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia.

Libya has further been struggling with violence and political uncertainty since the country’s former ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011 and later killed in the wake of a US-led NATO military intervention. Daesh has been taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to increase its presence there.

Yemen has also witnessed a deadly Saudi war since March 2015 which has led to a humanitarian crisis.

Last Month, Qatar’s former deputy prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said the United Arab Emirates had planned a military invasion of Qatar with thousands of US-trained mercenaries.

The UAE plan for the military action was prepared before the ongoing Qatar rift, but it was never carried out as Washington did not give the green light to it, he noted.

In late April, reports said the UAE was quietly expanding its military presence into Africa and the Middle East, namely in Eritrea and Yemen.

November 12, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia alleges citizen kidnapped in Lebanon

MEMO | November 11, 2017

Saudi Arabia said on Friday a Saudi citizen had been kidnapped in Lebanon, a country with which it is in a diplomatic crisis.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have advised their citizens against travelling to Lebanon and urged those already there to leave, as tensions rise in what is seen as a new front line in the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Top Lebanese government officials have said they believe Saudi Arabia is holding Saad al-Hariri who resigned as Lebanese prime minister from there last weekend. Riyadh says Hariri is a free man and he decided to resign because Iran-allied Hezbollah was calling the shots in his government.

The Saudi embassy in Beirut announced the kidnap of one of its citizens, but gave no details of the person’s identity of the circumstances of the abduction.

“The embassy is in contact with the highest ranking Lebanese security authorities about securing the unconditional release of a kidnapped Saudi citizen as soon as possible,” it said in a statement quoted by the Saudi state news agency SPA.

Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on the Lebanese state news agency the safety of Saudi residents and visitors was a priority for the Lebanese authorities.

He added that “security services are on high alert to prevent any attempt of exploiting the current political situation from anyone and for whatever reason.”

“Tampering with the security and stability of Lebanon is a red line.”

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment