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The moment of truth is coming for Trump’s Iran strategy

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | October 16, 2017

Diplomacy is a juggling act, an endless struggle to keep all the balls in the air. There are times when dropping one ball to keep the others going may seem like the prudent thing to do – and at other times letting them all drop and starting over again makes more sense. The United States faces this predicament in the Middle East. Perhaps there are too many balls in the air, when the focus should be on the few that are really important.

While everyone was focused on what US President Donald Trump had to say on Friday regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known as the Iran deal), what got overlooked is that he also unveiled a brave new Iran strategy for the post-Islamic State era.

In a rare gesture, King Salman called Trump on Saturday to express his delight over the latter’s resolute strategy and aggressive approach toward Iran. Salman welcomed Trump’s leadership role in the Middle East in recognizing the magnitude of the “challenges and threats” posed by Iran and stressed the need for “concerted efforts.”

Trump responded warmly, appreciating Salman’s support and expressing keenness to work together on issues relating to world peace and security and also enhancing the countries’ bilateral ties.

Trump’s Iran strategy is a dream project for Saudi Arabia and the UAE – and for Israel. It may seem like a relaunch of the old enterprise to contain Iran, built around an alliance system involving the US and its regional allies. But the circumstances today are different. The US and its allies stare at defeat in the Syrian conflict and are circling their wagons to stave off an ignominious rout with long-term consequences. Faced with Iran’s surge, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are willing to proclaim a convergence of interests with Israel.

Clearly, Moscow surmising that the US-Saudi strategic relationship has weakened is premature. The axis with Iran is the only show in town for Russia on the Middle Eastern chessboard – whether or not it is Moscow’s preferred choice. President Vladimir Putin is heading for Tehran on November 1.

The Iran deal will not be in jeopardy in the foreseeable future and, arguably, Tehran’s dependence on Moscow on that front is not critical. On the other hand, Britain, France and Germany have drawn together and mooted a proposal that their heads of government articulated in an extraordinary joint declaration on Friday to “constructively engage” with Iran to address their shared concerns over its regional policies.

Tehran will be open to a constructive engagement with Western powers to comprehensively address mutual security concerns, although how enthusiastic the Trump administration will be about such a process remains to be seen. If Europe’s engagement with Iran over issues of regional security and stability gains traction, the country’s integration will take a great leap forward, and that is something Tehran desires.

Enter Turkey. The Turkish deployment to Idlib province in northern Syria was seen as a move toward implementation of the Astana accord on setting up a “de-escalation” zone in that region with tacit Russian and Iranian backing. But Turkey’s number one priority appears to be to pre-empt a westward expansion by Syrian Kurds toward the coastal region of Latakia to establish a contiguous “homeland.”

Turkey hopes to outflank the Kurds and thereafter push back at their canton in Afrin. Turkey seems to be planning a prolonged military presence in northern Syria. This must be causing disquiet in Moscow. The exceptionally strong denunciation by Damascus on Saturday of the Turkish deployment to Idlib must have been made with Moscow’s approval.

However, what Moscow cannot take for granted is the deep chill in Turkish-American relations. Much depends on the new phase of the Syrian conflict beginning now, after the defeat of ISIS in its capital Raqqa and the capture by Syrian government forces (and allied militia with Russian airpower) of Mayadin on the Euphrates River (adjacent to the rich oil fields of al-Omar in Deir al-Zour province.)

The US faces a Hobson’s choice. It has the option of extricating itself from the Syrian conflict at this stage, claiming victory in the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa. But this would mean abandoning its Kurdish allies to their fate. Of course, if the US exercises this option, it paves the way for mending relations with Turkey.

But then, the flip side is that it also means a seamless expansion of Iranian influence in both Iraq and Syria and a possible Iranian presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. That, of course, would make a mockery of the tough strategy announced by Trump to counter Iran’s regional policies.

On the contrary, if the US intends to play a greater role in Syria following the capture of Raqqa (such as blocking Iran’s land route to Syria), it would require substantial, open-ended troop deployment to delay and harass the expansion of Iranian influence. Clearly, this is what the US’s regional allies – Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – are hoping for and what Trump’s new Iran strategy promises to do.

However, a continued US military presence means ongoing dependence on the Kurdish militia. This could spell doom for US-Turkey relations and even prompt Ankara to build an alliance with Russia and Iran – a shared agenda to create conditions on the ground that force the US at some point to cut its losses and withdraw from Syria, as happened, for example, in Lebanon in 1983.

Trump’s Iran strategy infinitely complicates the geopolitical repositioning of the US in the post-ISIS era. He added one more ball at a juncture when his juggling act was already looking improbable.

October 16, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Activist: Saudi’s 2030 Vision Coordinated by Washington, Tel Aviv

Al-Manar | September 28, 2017

Saudi activist Mujtahid said that the inclusive change in Saudi Arabia (political, social and economic change) is coming, noting that the authorities will arrest all those who stand against this change,

On his Twitter account, Mujtahid quoted a US advisor, who takes part in Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030 project, as saying that the change is coming.

This change requires Crown Prince Mohamamd Bin Salman’s monopolization of power on the political level, secularizing the kingdom on the social level, and selling Aramco firm on the economical level, Mujtahid said, citing the US advisor.

He revealed that such plan is being coordinated with the US, Zionist entity, Egypt and UAE, noting that all these sides share the same stance regarding the arrest campaign which will target all those who reject this change.

In this context, Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, pointed out that the arrests which were made recently represents an early stage of this plan of change.

September 28, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UAE, US ground forces to launch joint military drill

Press TV – September 16, 2017

The ground forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States are to begin a joint military exercise in Abu Dhabi later on Saturday.

Code-named Iron Union 5, the war game is part of a series of exercises that the UAE organizes with its allies to upgrade its military power, the UAE’s official WAM news agency reported.

The drills come amid a rift between several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Qatar.

Back in June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Separately on Saturday, Qatari and French naval forces concluded a two-day exercise in Qatar’s territorial waters.

A number of boats and the French Frigate Jean Bart reportedly took part in the drill.

Lieutenant Colonel Falah Mahdi Al Ahbabi, Qatari naval formation commander, said the marine exercise had two stages, which focused on combating terrorism and piracy as well as protecting facilities, and marine shipping lines.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Retired Israeli general joins anti-Qatar conference

MEMO | September 15, 2017

A review of the list of participants in an anti-Qatar conference revealed that the list includes right-wing extremists, pro-Israel figures and a retired Israeli general.

The Qatar, Global Security & Stability Conference was held in London, UK, yesterday, and according to a list of participant which Al-Araby Al-Jadeed obtained, US-Israeli citizen and chairperson of the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition, Dov Zakheim; a founder of the neoconservative think-tank the Henry Jackson Society Alan Mendoza and Shlomo Brom, a retired Brigadier-General in the Israeli Air Force, were all due to participate.

According to the news site, the conference’s programme was not released until Tuesday, 48 hours before the event was due to take place for alleged security reasons.

Bill Richardson, former US ambassador to the UN who has been involved in financial corruption cases, and Charles Chuck Wald, a retired US Air Force General who has suggested that Washington should support Israel should it decides to launch a military attack on Iran, were also amongst the list of those taking part in the conference.

The list of participants also include Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who had previously filed a case against Qatar after receiving money from the UAE.

The British Conservative party politicians speaking at the event include MPs, Daniel Kawczynski, Iain Duncan Smith and former Deputy Mayor of London, Roger Evans.

The Qatari opposition is represented by businessman Khalid Al-Hail who is accused of receiving funds from the countries boycotting Qatar to organise the conference.

In early June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups in the region.

The four countries also imposed an embargo on Qatar and issued a long list of demands, including the closure of Doha-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera, under the threat of further sanctions.

Qatar has refused to submit, denying charges that it supports terrorism and describing the bloc’s efforts to isolate it as a violation of international law and an infringement of its national sovereignty.

The conference is seen as a means through which they hope to give legitimacy to the boycott.

Photo-compilation of those attending the anti-Qatar conference [Alaraby]

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Report reveals UK exploiting Qatar crisis for own profit through arms exports

Press TV – September 10, 2017

Britain is exploiting a rift between several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Qatar through designating both sides as the “priority markets” for its arms sales, a report suggests.

The Middle East Eye (MEE) report cited a list of 46 states highlighted by the UK Department for International Trade Defense and Security Organization as potentially lucrative markets for weapons exports.

The list included Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, which cut ties with Doha three months ago.

This is while many of the countries identified as key targets for the British arms sales are included in the government’s own “human rights priority registers.”

The list comes ahead of the Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair scheduled to be held in London on September 12-15.

“The fact that, despite current tensions, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both on the list tells us everything we need to know,” Andrew Smith, spokesperson of the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade organization, told the MEE.

Britain, he said, has “made clear that it will pull out all stops to sell arms to” both sides of the Qatar crisis.

Back in June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

They presented Qatar with a list of 13 wide-ranging demands and gave it an ultimatum to comply with them or face unspecified consequences.

Doha, however, refused to meet the demands and said that they were meant to force the country to surrender its sovereignty.

UK arms fair hosts despots

In a relevant development, the UK government published its official guest list for DSEI, comprising 56 countries, among them Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Qatar.

Smith said the list included “a roll call of despots, dictatorships and human rights abusers. They will be greeted by civil servants and government ministers who are there for one reason only: to promote weapons.”

MP Caroline Lucas, UK Green Party co-leader, also called for the closure of the London arms fair.

“DSEI is a dark stain on our country’s already tarnished reputation. It’s time that this festival of violence was shut down for good – and for the UK to engage in peace-building rather

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Protests against UK arms sales to UAE at arms expo

MEMO | September 8, 2017

Campaign groups are teaming up tomorrow to protest against UK arms sales to the UAE in front of one of the largest arms expos in the world at the London ExCel Centre.

Activists and campaigners from the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) will be joining a host of other campaigning organisations such as the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) at the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition (DSEI) arms fair to protest against millions of dollars of arms trade with a regime, activists describe as being a notorious human rights violator.

The week of campaigning, which began with a protest against Israeli arms sales, will see crowds of people calling on the UK government to end arms sales to the UAE. The trade deals with Britain are said to involve highly sophisticated and invasive cyber surveillance technology which the UAE government uses to spy on its own citizens, and weaponry used to commit war crimes in Yemen.

Campaign groups say that between 2012 and 2016 the UAE was listed as the world’s third largest importer of weaponary; during this period, the UK licensed around £350 million worth of arms for export to the UAE. At the same time the UAE has become increasingly dismissive towards international treaties, human rights laws and UN conventions.

The UAE’s war in Yemen, which has caused untold death and destruction, is a major focal point for protestors. The Gulf alliance has been charged with committing war crimes in Yemen, where they hold a significant naval, ground and air presence. It was also recently revealed that UAE forces have been running clandestine prisons where there have been numerous reports of extreme torture.

Campaigners also claim that within their own borders, the Emirati authorities have committed numerous human rights violations against their own citizens and foreign nationals. Human rights organisations have documented numerous cases of torture, arbitrary detention, lack of freedom of speech and repression of political dissidents in the UAE.

The UK-registered BAE systems, who will be vying for new trade deals at the ExCel Centre is thought to have provided the cyber surveillance technology which was used in connection with the enforced disappearance of human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor.

Campaigners are calling on the British government to revise their close trading relationship with the UAE. They say that by providing arms and weaponry to this authoritarian regime, the UK is being complicit in war crimes and human rights violation. Furthermore they say that the trade deal between the two nations is set to increase as the UK leaves the EU and having set itself an ambitious target of doubling bilateral trade to up to £25 billion by 2020.

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Al Jazeera: Blair, US officials on UAE payroll

MEMO | August 31, 2017

The UAE has paid tens of millions of dollars to expand its regional and international influence by buying positions and the loyalty of key figures, an Al Jazeera documentary has said.

Aired yesterday, “Men around Abu Dhabi” claimed the Emirates paid former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the international envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon and a number of leaders of the US Department of Defence in order to keep them on side.

The channel said that UAE paid $35 million to Tony Blair when he was the envoy for the Middle East Quartet. He was also paid as a consultant, leaked email published by the Sunday Telegraph revealed.

The UAE government paid about $53,000 per month to the Spanish diplomat Bernardino Leon.

Last year, the UAE Diplomatic Academy, which is headed by the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announced that Leon, who served as UN envoy to Libya, will be assigned as its general manager.

At that time, media sources considered the news as a scandal that would undermine the credibility of the United Nations.

Abu Dhabi also paid $20 million in donations to the Middle East Institute in Washington, which is run by US General Anthony Zinni.

Zinni is an American general who once led US forces in the Middle East. After retiring, he served as a special envoy to the region. The US administration chose him and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Timothy Lenderking, as envoys to support the Kuwaiti mediation to resolve the Gulf crisis.

There is also James Mattis, the current US secretary of defence, who was previously hired by the UAE as a military adviser to develop its army and Robert Gates, the former US secretary of defence who attacked Qatar’s policies and Al Jazeera.

The documentary also revealed that Turki Aldakhil, the director of Al Arabiya TV channel, received more than $23 million in return for promoting Abu Dhabi’s agenda in the region.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed punitive measures on the small Gulf state accusing it of “supporting terrorism”. Doha strongly denied the claims.

August 31, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | 1 Comment

British universities should be more discerning about their choice of benefactors

By Alastair Sloan | MEMO | August 25, 2017

Just over eighteen months ago, environmental campaigners in Britain received some surprising news. They had been working for three years to get the Tate Gallery in London to reveal how much money oil giant BP had given it between 1990 and 2011. The figure turned out to be relatively small, ranging from £150,000 to £330,000 per year. Although this was a good chunk of the gallery’s income in the nineties, this soon equated to less than one per cent of the Tate group’s funding between 2000 and 2006. The sponsorship deal continued for another ten years, alongside similar BP sponsorships of the British Museum, the Royal Opera House and the National Portrait Gallery. Across all of these organisations, the oil company likewise contributed less than one per cent of funding to each one. The oft-heard argument that the struggling arts sector would go under were it not for this kind of funding from not-very-nice corporations was clearly bunkum. If anything, these institutions were willing collaborators in corporate whitewashing.

The same could be said of Gulf funds for British universities. Middle East Studies departments whisper about the necessity of funding from countries like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, because budgets are falling. A close look at the finances of the University of Exeter reveals something else, though; the issue of donations from alumnus Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi of Sharjah were raised recently by the International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates.

According to the Telegraph, the ruler of Sharjah – one of the most conservative Emirates in the UAE — has given more than £8 million to Exeter University over two decades (roughly the same time period that the Tate was receiving money from BP). A breakdown of when these donations were made is not available, but government grants and tuition fees in 1999 (the earliest data that I have been able to find) amounted to £52 million. The equivalent figure today is £250 million, around three times the original government and student fees funding even when adjusted for inflation. Much of this has come from the introduction of hugely expensive tuition fees for students.

In 2008, the nephew of the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia gave £8 million to Cambridge University to build its “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies”. The same year, Cambridge University’s annual report shows that income from government grants and tuition fees had risen from £251 million to £279 million. Cambridge made £174 million from its publishing house, more than £20 million more than in 2007. Even its “examination and assessment services” had seen income go up from £193 million to £216 million. All these increases led to the university almost doubling its surplus for the year, to £42 million. Yet that same year, it also accepted £8 million from a state known for its appalling human rights record, all the while knowing full well that the university coffers were overflowing.

After 2008, of course, there was the recession, so perhaps last year’s £3 million donation from the Qatar Development Fund towards Somerville College, Oxford, was justified? Think again. Somerville College itself was certainly on track to suffer a £3 million reduction in donations had the Qatar money not arrived, and had just borrowed huge amounts to extend its buildings, but Oxford University generally was doing well. In 2010, its income had risen since the previous year by nearly five per cent, to £920 million. By 2015, that figure was up to £1.3 billion, with surpluses of nearly £400 million sat in university bank accounts. Oxford doesn’t include in its numbers, as Cambridge does, its significantly profitable publishing business, which was on hand to top up coffers when they are running low.

In the UAE, we only have to go back to March to find that a prominent academic was jailed for ten years. His crime? He used Twitter. The country has imposed travel restrictions on visiting academics from Georgetown University, the London School of Economics and New York University, as well as prosecuting other university professionals. In January, the UAE government detained Abdulkhaleq Abdulla for ten days without charge after the prominent Emirati academic and vocal supporter, not critic, of the government posted a tweet that praised the UAE as the “Emirates of tolerance” but bemoaned the authorities’ lack of respect for freedom of expression and political liberties. Abdulla was an adviser to Mohammed Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and a retired professor of political science at the University of the UAE. Similar situations abound in Saudi Arabia, and academic freedoms are only marginally better in Qatar.

So British universities are well off. They don’t need money from abroad, but they are opting to take it in any case, and who they are choosing to take it from isn’t encouraging. This devalues British academia and spits in the face of academics and others calling for change who are imprisoned in those donor countries for their pains. Universities should be campaigning to have tuition fees removed, be more inventive about how they make money, and stop plastering the names of Middle East dictators across their walls. They need to be much more discerning in their choice of benefactors. It’s too late to do this today, but tomorrow will do very nicely.

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Africans will be biggest losers after letting foreign military into their continent’

RT | August 9, 2017

Africa has become a staging ground where foreign countries can show off their military capabilities against one another away from their country of origin at the expense of Africans, says African affairs expert Ayo Johnson.

Turkey is gearing to open its largest overseas military base in Somalia.

The United Arab Emirates are building a military base at the port of Berbera, in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland.

Africa is an attraction to foreign militaries: China opened its first overseas military base on August,1 in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is also currently housing Americans, Japanese and French troops.

RT discussed why Africa has become so popular with the foreign military with Africa affairs expert Ayo Johnson who believes the world powers are turning the continent into the latest theater of military confrontation.

“Back in colonial days, we saw Africa being cut up and carved up by the Western nations. Now we are seeing Africa again being the center ground for the new verge of a proxy war because all these different countries which are founding military bases on the African continent. It is a huge worry,” Ayo Johnson told RT.

In Johnson’s opinion, “it is showing that Africans can’t protect themselves and it is also showing that Africans can’t control their own affairs and ultimately it is finders keepers.”

“We have China who already has a military base of its own, the excuse is that it ultimately wants to protect its own investment which we know it has on the African continent. Also, it says it wants to prevent piracy and to be able to launch against such events,” Johnson said.

“The Americans have similar bases, not to mention the Europeans. So, on the ground itself, ultimately the African continent is becoming the staging ground for the next possibly violent confrontation between the superpowers of the world in their so-called proxy battles,” he continued.

According to Johnson, such interest in the continent might be explained by its strategic location.

“The Horn of Africa is the gateway for many shipping lanes, the protection of that area because of long term standing piracy issues. But others would say it is about land grab, control; it is about influence.”

“The Americans, the British and other Europeans, not to mention the Chinese most recently, all seem to have a huge stake and might show their muscles and their military capabilities against one another. Africa has now become a staging ground from which they can exploit those opportunities away from their own individual countries, a place where they can prowess their military might at the expense of Africans,” Johnson noted.

Despite the increased foreign military presence, the problem of piracy in the region remains unsettled.

“One thing for sure is that piracy still exists and it will continue and is unlikely to stop or to be slowed down.”

“Again in terms of terrorism, Al-Qaeda and ISIS still have strongholds and control, influence in that part of the world and the military bases that are physically positioned there. If they are there to prevent such attacks, I think in the short term or more long term it could create antagonism, create a problem for locals who may want to join those organizations to attack the military powers that are there. So the protection of Africa becomes the reverse, becomes an area where everyone wants to show each other what they are capable of doing and that is the worry, be it terrorist or be it an American, European or even most recently the Turks are also considering having bases there,” he told RT.

Johnson claimed “that comes at the expense of every single African nation – ultimately the biggest losers will be every single individual on the African continent.”

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Gulf Crisis: US Admits Fake News of Russian Hacking

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.07.2017

In a sharp about-turn, US intelligence agencies are now accusing the United Arab Emirates for hacking into Qatar’s official news agency, thereby sparking the Gulf crisis between Washington’s Arab allies. The latest twist amounts to an admission that the US is guilty of previously broadcasting fake news blaming Russia.

This week, the Washington Post cites US intelligence officials when it reported Monday: «The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors».

However, last month, on June 7, the American news outlet CNN had a completely different take on the Gulf crisis, when it blamed Russia for trying to sow division between US allies in the Persian Gulf. It reported in an «exclusive» article with the headline: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis.

That CNN report went on to claim: «US officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries».

While CNN hinted that the alleged Russian hackers in the Gulf could have been criminal privateers, the thrust of its report last month very much pointed the finger of blame at the Russian government for hacking into the Qatar news agency. Using assertion, speculation and anonymous sources, the alleged Russian cyber-attack on Qatar was linked to alleged meddling by the Kremlin in the US presidential election last year.

«US intelligence has long been concerned with what they say is the Russian government’s ability to plant fake news in otherwise credible streams, according to US officials», reported CNN.

But now this week, US intelligence officials have changed their tune on who they think is whipping up the Gulf crisis. It is not Russia, it is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

«[US] Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by US intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation,» reports the Washington Post this week.

For over a month now, the UAE has aligned with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to blockade Qatar, another member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The crisis has become deadlocked with neither side willing to back down, much to the strategic concern of Washington. All of the monarchial energy-rich states are longtime allies of the US and together as a unit are a linchpin in maintaining the global petrodollar system. The other GCC members, Kuwait and Oman, have taken a neutral stance in the diplomatic crisis and have acted as brokers to resolve the dispute. Egypt, has joined with the Saudi-led bloc, to impose sanctions against Qatar.

The row blew up dramatically days after US President Donald Trump made an official state visit to Saudi Arabia on May 20-22. In exchange for a record $110-billion arms deals with the Saudi rulers, it seems clear that Trump gave the green light for the Saudis to instigate a blockade on Qatar. Ostensibly, the Saudis and the others are accusing Qatar of sponsoring terrorism and, they say, that is why they acted to isolate the neighboring gas-rich state. The absurd hypocrisy behind the accusation belies the real motive of petty rivalry among the Gulf monarchs. In particular, the Qatari-based Al Jazeera news network has been a bane for the Saudi and Egyptian rulers owing to its relatively independent and critical reporting on repression in those countries. Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has also rankled the Saudis and Egyptians.

Two days after Trump flew out of Saudi on May 22, the official Qatari News Agency was hit with a fake news attack. Its news reports attributed statements to the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, in which he praised Iran – the Shia arch-enemy of the US-backed Sunni monarchies – as well as making critical comments about Trump.

The whole debacle was an obvious set-up. Despite urgent notices from Qatar that its new agency had been hacked with fake news, the Saudi, Bahraini and Emirati media continued to prominently report the statements as if they were genuine, with the evident intention of smearing Qatar and provoking a stand-off.

The stage was then set for Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to announce on June 5 a total embargo of commercial, media and transport links with Qatar «because of its support for terrorism and friendly relations with Iran».

US President Trump initially voiced support for the blockade on Qatar, claiming it as a success from his trip to Saudi Arabia.

«So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King [Saudi King Salman] and 50 countries already paying off», Trump smugly declared through his Twitter feed. «They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!»

But ever since Trump set off the worst crisis in the Gulf among US allies, his top diplomat Rex Tillerson has been busy trying to calm the row.

Qatar serves as the base for US Central Command in the Middle East with an airbase housing 10,000 troops. American warplanes flying out of Qatar are the main strike force for operations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Strategic planners in Washington realize that the US cannot afford to alienate Qatar.

Tillerson has diverged noticeably from Trump’s simplistic broadside supporting Saudi Arabia, and has instead sought to bring Qatar back into the GCC fold. The US Secretary of State has hinted that the Saudi-led blockade is draconian and unrealistic. On June 23, Saudi Arabia and its partners demanded that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network along with a dozen other ultimatums. Qatar refused.

Last week, Tillerson had a frenetic week of shuttle diplomacy flying between Qatar and Saudi Arabia to get both sides to compromise. On Friday, July 14, the former Exxon CEO returned to the US deflated, unable to break the deadlock.

While traveling back to the US, Tillerson alluded to the strategic importance at stake for Washington in maintaining Gulf Arab unity. He said it is «really important to us from a national security standpoint. We need this part of the world to be stable, and this particular conflict between these parties is obviously not helpful».

This would explain why the US has now moved to expose the Saudi-led camp as being behind the fake news hack incident against the Qatari news agency.

That disclosure undermines the Saudi-led position. It confirms what the Qataris have been saying from the outset; namely, that they have been set up for a faux crisis by Gulf rivals, whose objective is to subjugate Qatari sovereignty under Saudi tutelage. Shutting down the «offensive» Al Jazeera news station being one of the desired outcomes.

By undermining the Saudis and UAE in this way, the US is wagering that it can lever the Saudis and the others GCC members into softening their demands on Qatar.

So keen are the US military and geopolitical planners to defuse the prolonged Gulf crisis – a crisis that threatens the petrodollar system – that they were obliged to come clean about the real identify of the perpetrators of the cyber attack on Qatar. That means dishing the dirt on the Saudis and UAE as the source of the hack, and abandoning the earlier claim that Russia was to blame.

CNN is once again caught out faking news about Russian hackers. At the time of its «exclusive» last month accusing Russia of destabilizing US allies in the Gulf, the news channel at least had the decency to quote Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on the claim.

Peskov said in the June 7 report: «It is another lie.. CNN again and again publish references to unnamed sources in unnamed agencies, etc, etc. These streams of information have no connection with the reality. It is so far away from the reality. Fake is a fake».

What the whole episode shows is not just how irresponsible US intelligence officials and major media are in publishing false claims defaming Russia. It also shows them as unscrupulous and expedient.

Just because the lingering Gulf crisis is spiraling to threaten US strategic interests, only then is there a sudden switch to a version of events that more accurately reflects reality. If it weren’t for US strategic concerns in the Gulf, the fake news put out about Russian hackers would no doubt continue. Which begs the question: if Russian hackers in the Gulf is fake news, then what does that say about similar claims of Russian hacking in the US?

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel plans to install Dahlan instead of Abbas

MEMO | June 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read also:

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

Dahlan behind differences between Egypt and Fatah

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

UAE paid $3bn to finance coup attempt in Turkey: Report

Press TV – June 13, 2017

The United Arab Emirates financed a high-profile coup attempt last year in Turkey and paid about three billion dollars to the putschists, a columnist in a Turkish daily has claimed.

Mehmet Acet, a columnist for Yeni Safak daily, said on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meant the United Arab Emirates when he recently hinted at a Muslim country that spent billions to topple the Turkish government in the coup in July 2016.

Cavusoglu said in recent remarks that a foreign country funneled money to the putschists while making efforts to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We know that a country provided $3 billion in financial support for the coup attempt in Turkey and exerted efforts to topple the government in illegal ways. On top of that, it is a Muslim country,” said the Turkish foreign minister, as quoted by Acet.

Acet elaborated on his claims in an interview to the Turkish media, saying sources in the Turkish Foreign Ministry had confirmed that the country behind the coup was indeed the United Arab Emirates.

“The minister did not name the country. However, sources from the foreign ministry have confirmed that it was the UAE,” Acet told Daily Sabah newspaper.

Other sources have also claimed that a media magnate close to the government in Abu Dhabi had indeed transferred money to Turkey weeks before the coup was carried out. They said the money had been funneled to elements loyal to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric based in the United States who is accused by Ankara of masterminding the coup attempt.

Right after the coup was declared over on July 16 last year, Turkey launched a massive crackdown to hunt the plotters. The widening action then led to more than 40,000 arrests. More than 100,000 people have also been discharged from their jobs.

Turkey has not directly accused a country of having a role in the coup, which killed over 250 people. However, Cavusoglu’s remarks come amid a widening diplomatic standoff in the Persian Gulf region. Turkey has been defending Qatar against allegations of terrorism by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates while it has repeatedly endorsed Qatar’s support for senior officials from the Muslim Brotherhood, a popular party outlawed in Egypt since three years ago under pressure from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Ankara and Abu Dhabi are also at odds over the situation in Libya, where the two countries support different sides of the conflict.

June 13, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 3 Comments