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SYRIA 360° – REPORTING ON EVENTS IN SYRIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST | ARABIC AND ENGLISH

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America Behind ISIS “Surge”

By Tony Cartalucci

Taking advantage of a Syrian military stretched thin to protect everywhere at the same time, high concentrations of well-coordinated Al Qaeda forces, based in NATO-member Turkey as well as in US-allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia, have attacked across several fronts. The tactical and strategic gains are minimal compared to the initial stages of the West’s proxy war against Syria beginning in 2011, but the Western media is intentionally fanning the flames of hysteria specifically to break both support for Syria from abroad, and fracture resistance from within.

This latest attempt to overwhelm the Syrian people, its government, and its armed forces comes with several shocking revelations. Previously, veteran award-winning journalists foretold the coming conflict in Syria, warning how the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel were openly planning to use Al Qaeda as a proxy force to overthrow Syria first, then Iran and how it would unfold into a cataclysmic sectarian war. There were also signed and dated policy papers advocating the use of terrorism and the provocation of war to directly target Iran after Syria and Hezbollah had been sufficiently weakened.

However, now, there is a US Department of Defense (DoD) document confirming without doubt that the so-called “Syrian opposition” is Al Qaeda, including the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), and that the opposition’s supporters – the West, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar – specifically sought to establish safe havens in Iraq and eastern Syria, precisely where ISIS is now based.

America is Behind ISIS 

Looking at maps recently produced by the Western media and Western policy think tanks, it can be seen clearly that Al Qaeda/ISIS is streaming out of NATO and US ally territory, forming up in these two safe havens, and aimed both at the Syrian government and Iran.

Despite the Western narrative of “moderate rebels,” the West itself has been increasingly admitting that such “rebels” do not exist. They also admit that to establish “stability,” they must begin openly working with “questionable actors.”

Michael O’Hanlon, a signatory of the Brookings Institution’s “Which Path to Persia?” policy paper calling for terrorism and intentional provocations to overthrow the government of Iran, stated in a USA Today op-ed titled, “Michael O’Hanlon: American boots needed in Syria,” that:

In the short term, this strategy requires an acceleration of our train and equip program for Syrian opposition fighters — including perhaps a bit less puritanical approach in who we are willing to work with. Most Syrian moderates are tired of waiting for us, or already dead given our delays in helping them. So we may have to tolerate working with some questionable actors to get things started.

“Working with some questionable actors,” is O’Hanlon and US policymakers’ way of saying they intend to provide open material support to terrorists, including Al Qaeda, as they’ve been covertly doing all along, and as was warned against as early as 2007 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” which explicitly stated (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

If  Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists predicting verbatim the Syrian conflict and Western support for Al Qaeda terrorists years before these events unfolded, and US policymakers are now openly admitting they are willing to work with Al Qaeda isn’t convincing enough, perhaps a signed and dated Department of Defense document admitting as much is.

DoD Document Admits Plot to Carve Out Safe Haven for ISIS 

Judicial Watch, a US-based foundation seeking “transparency” in government, released a 7 page document dated 2012, detailing the background and status of the Syrian conflict. It admits that the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda form the basis of the “opposition.” It then admits that (emphasis added):

Development of the current events into proxy war: with support from Russia, China, and Iran, the regime is controlling the areas of influence along coastal territories (Tartus and Latakia), and is fiercely defending Homs, which is considered the primary transportation route in Syria. On the other hand, opposition forces are trying to control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighboring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts.  

It also admits that terrorists are entering Syria from Iraq, hardly what one could call a “civil war,” and clearly instead an invasion.

The document also admits that (emphasis added):

The opposition forces will try to use the Iraqi territory as a safe haven for its forces taking advantage of the sympathy of the Iraqi border population, meanwhile trying to recruit fighters and train them on the Iraqi side, in addition to harboring refugees (Syria).

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered t he strategic depth of the Shia Expansion (Iraq and Iran).

That “Salafist principality” mentioned by the DoD in 2012 is of course now known as the “Islamic State.” The DoD at the time openly admitted that the opposition’s foreign sponsors supported the creation of such a principality, and clearly ISIS must have had such support to maintain its hold on vast expanses of territory in both Syria and Iraq, while propping up a military machine capable of fighting the combined forces of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Indeed, the DoD’s admissions in this document explain precisely how ISIS has been able to perpetuate its activities throughout the region – with “Western countries, the Gulf States, and Turkey” supporting these efforts.

Narratives of a US “war on the Islamic State” are meant clearly to obscure this admitted and documented conspiracy, and serve as a means for US troops to directly violate Syrian airspace and territory incrementally until US forces are able to openly begin dismantling the Syrian military and government directly.

Appeasement and Accommodation are not Options  

The Syrian war is not a localized conflict with limited goals. It is one leg of a much larger agenda to destroy Iran next, then move on to Russia and China. Combined with the Syrian campaign, the West has attempted to create arcs of destabilization across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and completely encircling China in Southeast Asia.

What this constitutes is a World War executed through the use of 4th generation warfare. At the same time, the West attempts to seek temporary appeasement and accommodation  for itself so that it can more effortlessly advance its plans. Attempts to portray itself as interested in “negotiations” with Iran while it wages a proxy war on its doorstep is a prime example of this.

The corporate-financier special interests that have hijacked the United States and Europe have essentially declared war on all lands beyond their grasp, as well as on any and all among their own ranks who oppose their hegemonic aspirations.

The vile conspiracy now openly unfolding in Syria, seeing to its destruction at the hands of terrorists the US is openly backing after claiming for over a decade to be “fighting” is a harbinger of the destruction that complacency and failure to resist will bring all other nations caught in the path of these special interests. Nations not immediately caught in the grip of chaos created by this conspiracy must use their time wisely, preparing the appropriate measures to resist. They must study carefully what has been done in Syria and learn from both the mistakes and accomplishments of the Syrian government and armed forces in fighting back.

More important than backing other powers to serve as a counterweight to the West’s global aggression, is to identify the consumerist foundation these special interests are built upon and perpetually depend on. By creating alternatives nationally and locally, the swamps from which this global pestilence is emitted can be slowly but permanently drained.

I Have Witnessed A Crime Against Humanity! A Message from the Iran Shahed Rescue Ship

CalebMaupin.info

From the Port of Djibouti in North Africa, it is with great sadness and burning outrage that I announce that the voyage of the Iran Shahed Rescue Ship has concluded. We will not reach our destination at the Port of Hodiedah in Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid.

The unsuccessful conclusion of our mission is the result of only one thing: US-backed Saudi Terrorism.

Yesterday, as it appeared our arrival was imminent, the Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah. They didn’t just bomb the port once, or even twice. The Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah a total of eight times in a single day!

The total number of innocent dock workers, sailors, longshoremen, and bystanders killed by these eight airstrikes is still being calculated.

Furthermore, the Yemeni revolutionaries arrested 15 people yesterday, who were part of a conspiracy to attack our vessel. The plan was to attack the Iran Shahed when we arrived, and kill everyone onboard, including me.

With its so many criminal threats and actions, the Saudi regime was sending a message to the crew of doctors, medical technicians, anesthesiologists, and other Red Crescent Society volunteers onboard the ship. The message was “If you try to help the hungry children of Yemen we will kill you.”

These actions, designed to terrorize and intimidate those seeking to deliver humanitarian aid, are a clear violation of international law. I can say, without any hesitation, that I have witnessed a crime against humanity.

In the context of the extreme Saudi threats, after lengthy negotiations which have been taking place around the clock in Tehran, it has been determined that the Red Crescent Society cannot complete this mission. The 2,500 tons of medical supplies, food, and water are being unloaded, and handed over to the World Food Program, who has agreed to distribute them on our behalf by June 5th.

Djibouti & US Imperialism

Here in Djibouti, I can clearly see what the people of Yemen and Iran have been fighting against for so long. Unlike in Tehran, here in Djibouti I see masses of desperate staving people. Impoverished Africans, who are desperate for a day of work, are lined up outside the port. They are joined by Yemeni refugees who fled the fighting, and crossed the water. The Yemeni refugees are living in tent cities.

There is a huge US military base here in Djibouti, and this small country of only 3 million people is well under the control of western neo-liberalism. This country was basically carved onto the maps of the world by imperialists. As the European plunderers divided up the African continent for themselves, they created this tiny country so that naval bases could be conveniently placed in a strategic location.

The imperialists falsely drew the borders of the African continent in the same way they divided the Arab peoples and the peoples of Latin America. The maps were drawn to serve the colonizers, and determine who got the right to rob and subjugate the people of each specific region.

The living conditions that I see here in Djibouti are horrific in comparison to Iran. Iran has broken the chains of imperialism, and is independently developing. In Iran, I saw very few people begging for work, and the few I did see are refugees from Afghanistan.

Since the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has opened its doors to 3 million refugees, and most of them are steadily employed. Iran’s oil resources are in the hands of a government that comes out of a massive people’s revolution. The oil revenue has been utilized to create a vast apparatus of social programs.

One of the Red Crescent Society volunteers told me: “The Iranian government has a department to make sure that everyone in our country who wants to work, can work.” Iranian mothers are given a guaranteed stipend for each of their children. Education in Iranian Universities is absolutely free, and the Ministry of Health provides free medical care to everyone in the country.

Compared to the millions of enslaved guest workers in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, or the impoverished people throughout the African continent, even the poorest Iranians are very, very wealthy. By breaking from neo-liberalism, Iran has been able to guarantee all of its people a great deal of economic security.

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has loudly denounced the system of capitalism, and said that religious principles and compassion for those in need, should always be given priority over profits and finance.

“Standing With The Oppressed”

If the resistance forces are successful in their fight against the Saudi onslaught, Yemen will soon join Iran in becoming an independent country. The logo of the Ansarullah organization shows a hand holding a rifle to represent armed resistance. Perpendicular to the rifle on the Ansarullah logo is a shaft of wheat, said to represent “economic development.”

Its no secret that Yemen has vast, untapped oil resources. If the resistance forces are victorious, they can seize these resources, and start using them to build up Yemeni society. Yemen can then begin to do what the people of Venezuela have done, and transform their country with public control of natural resources.

The religious group that leads Ansarullah, the Zaidis, have a slogan. They say: “A True Imam is a Fighting Imam.”

They contrast their religious beliefs with those of the Whabbais who lead Saudi Arabia. The Saudi religious leaders say that Muslims must avoid rebellion and protest because it leads to instability and chaos. They stress obedience to the government and to authority figures.

The Zaidis, who lead Ansurrullah and are at the center of Yemen’s unfolding revolution, emphasize that a religious leader is not truly doing the work of God, unless he picks up a sword or a gun and “fights for the oppressed.”

As I prepare to return to Tehran I have become even more convinced of the need to overthrow the system of western monopoly capitalism. I am reinvigorated in my belief that there must be a global alliance of all forces who oppose imperialism. Whether they are Marxist-Leninists, Bolivarians, Anarchists, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, or Russian nationalists, all forces that oppose the continued domination of the planet by Wall Street bankers must firmly stand together.

The people of Yemen, like the forces of resistance in so many other parts of the world, have refused to surrender. As they face a horrendous onslaught with US made Saudi bombs, I hope that news of our peaceful, humanitarian mission has reached them. I hope they are aware that in their struggle against the Saudi King, the Wall Street bankers, and all the great forces of evil, they are not alone. There are millions of people across the planet whao are on their side.

Imperialism is doomed, and all humanity shall soon be free!

Abayomi Azikiwe : ‘US Supports Saudi-GCC War Against Yemen’

Bomb attacks were carried out against a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia yesterday, killing around 20 people, and another in Yemen at a Houthi mosque in Sanaa. The attacks, which came on a Shiite holy day, were claimed by the Islamic State group.

The attack at the Imam Ali mosque in Saudi Arabia’s Shiite-dominated Eastern Province occurred during the Friday prayers.

Meanwhile, 14 people were reportedly killed in ongoing airstrikes carried out by Saudi Arabia in two provinces of Yemen. The Saudi warplanes’ bombed the Hamoud al-Fatimi district in the southeastern Yemeni province of Dhamar on May 21 claiming the lives of eight members of a family, including five women, two children and a man, according to reports released by Yemeni media.

Also Yemeni armed forces and volunteers of Popular Committees overran a strategic military base in Saudi Arabia in response to its continued US-backed military aggression against Yemen. On Friday, Yemeni soldiers and Popular Committees fighters seized the al-Me’zab base in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen, the Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network announced.

The Saudi forces in the base fled the site. Finally an Iranian Red Crescent relief vessel, the Nejat, docked at the Horn of Africa port at Djibouti. The ship was slated to undergo an United Nations inspection before attempting to land at Hudaydah port in Yemen.

Ramadi and America’s Fracturing of Iraq

While Washington waxes poetic about the need to more forcefully confront ISIS and destroy its military and terrorist infrastructure, the actual policies it has pursued are designed to achieve just the opposite.

By

The Western media has been consumed in recent days with the news that Islamic State militants have captured the strategically critical city of Ramadi in Iraq. The narrative is one of incompetence on the part of Iraqi military forces who, the corporate media tells us, are simply either ineffectual or hopelessly corrupt. Some analysts and pundits, especially those on the right who oppose Obama for various reasons, have used the fall of Ramadi to legitimize their claims that Obama’s “weakness” on the ISIS issue brought events to this point.

While there is truth to the assertion that Iraqi military forces are riddled with severe problems, from sectarianism in the command hierarchy, to poor training and, at times, organizational disarray, none of these issues is singularly responsible for the loss of Ramadi. Nor is it entirely accurate to say that Obama’s alleged weakness is really the cause.

Rather the primary reason, the one which the media carefully avoids including in their reportage, is the political and military sabotage of Iraq perpetrated by the United States in pursuit of its long-term agenda.

Indeed, while Washington waxes poetic about the need to more forcefully confront ISIS and destroy its military and terrorist infrastructure, the actual policies it has pursued are designed to achieve just the opposite. Instead of promoting unity of command and execution within the Iraqi armed forces, the Pentagon, Congress, and the White House have done everything to fracture Iraq’s political and military structures, fomenting rather than mollifying sectarian conflicts. Then the Washington Post can publish editorials blasting Iraqi fecklessness, and calling for a more robust US military presence. In this way, the US policy of promoting division and weakness within Iraq has directly led to the dire situation in Ramadi and throughout the country.

How Washington is Destroying Iraq…Again!

The fall of Ramadi has provided ammunition to opponents of Obama whose central argument – if such insanity can be believed – remains that the US should wage further war in Iraq. Leading warmongers, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both claim that the failure is due to Obama’s “big mistake” in not leaving behind troops in 2011. Graham described US policy as “a failure of Obama’s military strategy,” while McCain referred to it as “one of the most disgraceful episodes in American history… [The] policy…is not enough of anything,” Aside from the obvious absurdity of their claims, McCain and Graham, and the media narrative surrounding the entire issue, are a perfect illustration of the utterly backwards narrative presented by the corporate media to the American public.

In reality, the US, with Congress very much playing a central role, has studiously worked to undermine any chances for national resistance and military victory inside Iraq by Iraqi security forces. Perhaps Graham and McCain forgot that the US has worked diligently to create divisions between Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish elements within the Iraqi military architecture.

As recently as late April 2015, Congressional Republicans were pushing for a defense authorization bill that would directly arm and fund Sunni and Kurdish militias inside Iraq, treating them as “independent countries.” An obvious means of fomenting further sectarian conflicts and fracturing the fragile and precarious unity of the government in Baghdad and its military forces, this bill is indicative of a broader policy, one aimed at de facto partition of Iraq along ethno-religious lines. Moreover, those who follow US politics and military adventurism should understand that legislation follows rather than precedes the policy. The US has likely been arming Sunni and Kurdish factions for a long time already, thereby further degrading the continuity of the military.

But aside from the political attempts to fragment the country, US military actions belie the real agenda which, rather than combating ISIS, is geared towards degradation of military capability of all sides, which is, in effect, support for ISIS.

Since the US campaign against the group in Iraq began, there have been countless media reports of US weapons and supplies falling directly into the clutches of ISIS, succoring it at precisely the time that it has suffered heavy losses at the hands of Shiite militias in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Army and Hezbollah across the border in Syria. As Naeem al-Uboudi, the spokesman for one of the main groups fighting ISIS in Tikrit told the NY Times, “We don’t trust the American-led coalition in combating ISIS… In the past, they have targeted our security forces and dropped aid to ISIS by mistake.”

This fact is critical to understanding the true motivation of Washington in this campaign, namely inflicting maximum damage on both ISIS and Shiite militias fighting it. In effect, this ‘controlled chaos’ strategy promotes and extends, rather than concludes the war. Additionally, the allegation of US-ISIS collusion is further supported by dozens of accounts of airdropped US weapons being seized by ISIS. As Iraqi MP Majid al-Ghraoui noted in January, “The information that has reached us in the security and defense committee indicates that an American aircraft dropped a load of weapons and equipment to the ISIS group militants at the area of al-Dour in the province of Salahuddin… This incident is continuously happening and has also occurred in some other regions.”

Looking at a map, one begins to see then that ISIS has received US support in each of the strategically significant areas where it has made important gains. When reports of US airdrops going to ISIS in the province of Salahuddin first emerged, it coincided with the group’s military success in Tikrit. Now we see Ramadi in the easternmost part of Anbar province has fallen within weeks of more reports emerging of US-supplied arms being destined for ISIS in the al-Baqdadi region of Anbar.

Taken in total then, it seems that US strategy has been to overtly attack ISIS while covertly supporting it. Similarly, the US has claimed to be supporting, or at least collaborating indirectly, with Shiite militias connected to Iran. At the very same time, those militias have repeatedly claimed that US has bombed them deliberately. Such seemingly contradictory military objectives lead to the inescapable conclusion that US policy has been, and continues to be, chaos and fomenting war. So for Washington to now claim that the fall of Ramadi is somehow a major tragedy, that it represents a failure of strategy, is utter disinformation. In effect, the fall of Ramadi is an orchestrated outgrowth of the “managed chaos” strategy.

The History and Politics of America’s Chaos Theory in Iraq

From a purely geopolitical perspective, the aim of the US is to foment sectarian conflict and prolong the war in Iraq as a means of checking Iranian influence in Iraq and throughout the region. The US is mostly incapable of achieving such an objective in Syria due to the continued success and cohesion of the Syrian Arab Army; in Iraq this is very much achievable. But this fragmentation and de facto partition of the country has been a long-standing policy, one that the US has pursued in myriad ways for more than a decade.

Keen political observers will recall that even before, and during the early stages, of the Iraq War in 2003, there was serious talk of dividing Iraq into religiously and ethnically homogenous territories. As influential neocon and President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations Leslie Gelb wrote in an op-ed in the NY Times in November 2003, “The only viable strategy…may be to correct the historical defect and move in stages toward a three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.” While this policy was not enacted immediately, the United States has always pursued this long-term strategy to varying degrees.

The major stumbling block has been the stubborn desire of various members of Iraq’s political elite to be independent and sovereign actors, not US puppets. The primary offender from Washington’s perspective was former Prime Minister, and current Vice President, Nouri al-Maliki, who refused to bow to the diktats of Washington, and was instead portrayed as a corrupt, autocratic Iranian stooge. But what were Maliki’s real transgressions from Washington’s perspective?

First and foremost were Maliki’s attitudes and policies towards the US occupation and the presence of military and non-military personnel. In fact, it was Maliki’s refusal to grant the US request to maintain military bases in the country after the withdrawal – against Obama’s wishes – which prompted the first round of attacks on him and his government. And it was then that the image of Maliki as Iranian puppet truly became popularized, at least in Western media. Indeed, as The Guardian noted at the time, “The Pentagon had wanted the bases to help counter growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. Just a few years ago, the US had plans for leaving behind four large bases but, in the face of Iraqi resistance, this plan had to be scaled down this year to a force of 10,000. But even this proved too much for the Iraqis.”

Maliki also took the absolutely monumental step of closing down Camp Ashraf and killing or expelling its inhabitants. Far from being a camp for “Iranian political exiles” as Western media have attempted to portray, Ashraf was the base of the Iranian terrorist organization Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization supported wholeheartedly by neocons (as well as most “liberals”) in its continued terror war against Iran. Of course, because Maliki dared to cleanse Iraq of these US-sponsored terrorist thugs, he was immediately convicted in the court of US public opinion which described the operation as an assault on Iranian “freedom fighters.” We know all too well what the US means when it describes terrorists as freedom fighters.

And so, by refusing basing rights, refusing to extend immunity and legal protections to US contractors operating in Iraq, and wiping out Camp Ashraf and MEK members, Maliki became a villain. More to the point, it was his refusal to allow Iraq to be used by the US and its allies as a military and political bulwark against Iran that earned him the West’s ire. Far from wanting a “sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq” as Obama eloquently proclaimed, Washington needed the country to remain a client state to be used as a weapon of US foreign policy in the region. By rejecting this, Maliki, almost overnight, became “a dictator.”

By ousting Maliki, the US once again pursued a policy of fragmentation, deliberately installing current Prime Minister Abadi who they knew would be weak, incapable of maintaining the unity of Iraq, and most importantly, amenable to US demands. As the NY Times wrote in the wake of the fall of Ramadi last week:

At the urging of American officials who sought to sideline the [Shiite] militias, Mr. Abadi… gambled that the combination of United States airstrikes and local Sunni tribal fighters would be able to drive Islamic State fighters out of [Ramadi]…But as the setback brought the Shiite militias, and their Iranian backers, back into the picture in Anbar, intensified Shiite infighting appeared to leave the prime minister more vulnerable than ever… He became prime minister last year with strong backing from the United States on the belief that he would be a more inclusive leader than his predecessor, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and would reach out to the country’s minority Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Mr. Abadi has done so, by pushing for the arming of local Sunni tribesmen and reaching a deal with the Kurds to share oil revenue.

As the Times correctly notes, Abadi has, quite predictably, followed orders from Washington and pursued a strategy which, from the western perspective is “inclusive,” but is in reality very much sectarian. This is the inverted reality that the US and the Western media portrays; the arming and support for Sunni and Kurdish factions is “inclusive” rather than divisive, which is what it is in the real world. By forcing the Shiites, the dominant group demographically and politically in Iraq, into a secondary role, the US once again foments, rather than bridges sectarian divides. What is this called if not “divide and conquer”?

It should not be lost on anyone that this policy which, as noted above, dates back more than a decade, is all designed to curb Iranian influence in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. By forcing Shiites into the back seat politically, economically, and militarily, the US has hoped to stifle Iran’s development from isolated nation into a regional power. By doing so, the US once again acts in its own interests, as well as those, of course, of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. Perhaps that grouping of countries rings a bell for people following the development of the war on Syria these past four years? Indeed, it is the same actors.

Seen in this way then, the US agenda and strategy in Iraq is precisely the same as that for the entire region: block Iran (and, on a grander scale, Russia and China) with regime change when and where possible. When regime change is impossible or undesirable, inflict chaos and foment conflict.

One might call such a policy cynicism of the highest order. While true, there are still other words that perhaps better reflect the true insidiousness of it all: colonialism and imperialism.

 

Gulf Monarchs Snub Camp David Summit

By Walter Smolarek

Dubious Data, Biased Sources – Eight Problems with Amnesty’s Report on Aleppo Syria

By Rick Sterling

In 1990 Amnesty International made a horrendous mistake in the midst of the media campaign leading up to Gulf War 1. While U.S. military action was being debated and the public was significantly opposed, it was reported that Iraqi troops were stealing incubators from a Kuwaiti hospital and leaving babies to die on the floor. In dramatic testimony before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a Kuwaiti teenage girl claimed she was a hospital volunteer and eye-witness. Congress members were in tears, the event received huge publicity and had significant influence in changing public opinion. The event was a fabrication conceived by a Washington PR firm and the girl was the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter. There might have been more scrutiny and investigation but the story was corroborated by Amnesty International.

More recently, in early 2011, Amnesty International and other human rights groups were influential in spreading false or exaggerated information about conditions in Libya. It paved the way for a “No Fly Zone” which NATO converted into a mandate for “regime change”. The consequence has been a catastrophic loss of security and living standards for the citizens of Libya and an eruption of violence and sectarianism within and beyond the borders.

Currently we see a major media campaign for a “no fly zone” billed as a “safe zone” in opposition controlled northern Syria. In this context, Amnesty has just issued a report: “Death Everywhere: War Crimes and Human Rights Abuses in Aleppo, Syria”. The 62 page report alleges the Syrian government is deliberately targeting civilians in opposition controlled parts of Aleppo, using barrel bombs to kill 3124 civilians versus only 35 fighters in the past 15 months. Amnesty accuses the Syrian government of committing war crimes and possible “crimes against humanity”. They recommend an arms embargo against the Syrian government.

Following are significant problems with the report.

1. Amnesty ignores external interference in Syria. Article 2 of the United Nations Charter says “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”. It is public information that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, USA, France and Britain are funding, supplying, weaponizing and promoting armed insurgents in Syria. Is this not a “use of force” against Syria? The insurgents, both Syrian and foreign, are being paid salaries by one or another of the countries seeking overthrow of the Damascus government. Turkey is providing facilities and military support. The USA is providing training, communications equipment and coordination. Saudi Arabia, France and Qatar are providing weapons. Britain is providing training and other supplies. Are these not violations of the U.N. Charter to which all these countries are signators? The Erdogan government in Turkey has openly advocated taking over northern Syria, imposing a “No Fly Zone” and basically enforcing this as a zone controlled by the NATO/Gulf sponsored opposition. This is a clear threat on Syrian territorial integrity. Why does Amnesty ignore this?

2. Amnesty approves the violation of international customary law. International customary law does not allow for supplying arms to “vetted” or “approved” insurgents. Yet one of the Amnesty recommendations to the international community is that “If considering supplying arms to non-state armed groups in Syria, first carry out a rigorous human rights risk assessment and establish a robust monitoring process …”.

This is an amazing statement, effectively sanctioning the supplying of arms to insurgents who agree to follow “humanitarian” rules of war. The implication is that it’s permissible to kill soldiers, police, government and security people in Syria if you avoid killing civilians. Would it be similarly permissible for Canada and Mexico to train and arm insurgents to come to the U.S. to kill soldiers, police and anyone else defending the security apparatus?

Somehow we can be sure that Amnesty would NOT accept or justify this invasion and violation of international law. So why are they and others justifying this violation against Syria?

When the U.S. created the ‘Contras’ to sow mayhem and bloodshed in Nicaragua in the 1980’s, the World Court at the Hague was clear. Their decision was that

by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the ‘’Contra’ forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua” the United States was “in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State.”

The situation today with Syria is very comparable. International customary law has not changed. It is just being ignored. Amnesty should be challenging this violation, not approving it.

3. Amnesty relies on witnesses who are biased and possibly paid and coached. The Amnesty report is based on interviews with “78 current or former residents of Aleppo and 29 professionals working in or on Aleppo “. Amnesty established contact with witnesses through collaboration with the following groups: Syrian Institute for Justice and Accountability, the Violations Documentation Center, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the Syria Research and Evaluation Organization.

Each of these collaborating groups is either based in or receiving funds from Turkey, USA or one of the other countries heavily involved in seeking overthrow of the Damascus government.

Two thirds of the displaced persons in Syria live INSIDE Syria. To produce a more accurate and objective report, Amnesty could have obtained testimonies from people who fled Aleppo and are now living in Homs, Latakia, Damascus or in Aleppo under government control. That would have entailed collaborating with other organizations that are not part of the foreign funded opposition supporting “human rights” groups, but would have given a more balanced picture.

The Amnesty report includes numerous references to testimony or interviews with members of the “Civil Defence”. What they do not say is that “Syrian Civil Defence” , also know as “White Helmets”, are a creation of the US and UK. There may be some useful training but they are heavily used for propaganda purposes.

The recent exposure of the Richard Engel/NBC hoax confirms that the insurgents are keen to manipulate the media. It is quite likely that witnesses provided to Amnesty were ‘vetted’ and/or coached in advance and some of them might have been paid. With no other testimonies, the result is a highly distorted picture of circumstances in Aleppo.

4. Amnesty relies on dubious data from a biased source. The Amnesty analysis and conclusions rely substantially on data from the Violations Documentation Center (VDC). This source is highly partisan. For example they divide fatalities into two overall groups: “Martyrs” and “Regime Fatalities”.

“Martyrs” include ISIS fighters and foreign mercenaries killed by the Syrian Army/Militia or even by the U.S. airstrikes around Kobani. See the VDC screenshot photo 1 showing the ISIS “martyr” killed in Kobani. Photo 2 shows a young girl listed as “regime fatality”.

The data itself looks dubious. For example, we know there was much conflict and loss of life in the Idlib area during the past six weeks. Both Idlib and Jisr al Shughour were captured by the armed opposition. It is very probable that many Syrian soldiers and armed fighters were killed in the conflict. Many civilians fled the urban areas as the armed groups came in. However the VDC site (photo 3) shows something startling and less than credible for Idlib Governate from March 1, 2015 through May 1, 2015:

“regime fatalities” (Syrian army, militia and supporting civilians) = 12

“martyrs” (opposition fighters and supporting civilians) = 662.

There is little or no evidence provided regarding most of the alleged victims. Photographs and video evidence is provided for a small minority of the cases.

The spokesman and advocacy director for VDC is Bassam al Ahmad. He is based in Istanbul and closely connected to the United States as shown in his recent participation in a “Leadership Conference” as shown in photograph #4 below.

In short, Amnesty’s report and conclusions are based on dubious data from a biased source closely aligned with foreign powers actively seeking “regime change” in Damascus.

5. Amnesty ignores important background information. There is considerable evidence that armed groups which invaded Aleppo in summer 2012 quickly fell into disfavor and became unpopular. The unpopularity of the armed opposition was identified by American journalists James Foley and Stephen Sotloff in the Fall of 2012 and Winter 2012-2013. Foley described how rebels invaded Aleppo in the summer of 2012. His article, written in October, was titled “Rebels losing support among civilians in Aleppo”. A few months later Sotloff described civilian dislike of the rebels in an article titled “Bread lines and disenchantment with the FSA”.

According to the Syrian journalist known as Edward Dark, there was youthful enthusiasm for early protests but it rapidly turned to regret as armed rebels invaded Aleppo, took over neighborhoods and engaged in widespread looting. As Dark says in his article “How we lost the Syrian revolution” ….

“never have I felt as sad as when, shortly after Aleppo was raided by the rebels, I received messages from some of those people I used to work with. One said, “How could we have been so stupid? We were betrayed!” and another said, “Tell your children someday that we once had a beautiful country, but we destroyed it because of our ignorance and hatred.”

Edward Dark may be naive regarding the extent of US and foreign involvement in the armed insurrection but his article seems to sincerely express the early dreams and subsequent regrets of idealistic protesters in Aleppo. The Amnesty report completely ignores this important background and context.

6. Amnesty ignores important current information. Readers of the Amnesty report on Aleppo may assume there have been large numbers of civilians living in the opposition controlled districts. In reality civilians began departing as soon as the armed insurgents invaded neighborhoods years ago. Currently the most common description of an opposition controlled neighborhood is that it’s a “ghost town”.

Amnesty also fails to disclose the huge number of Syrian soldiers and militia killed by opposition snipers and bombs. Isn’t it relevant that, depending on the source, between 75 and 120 thousand Syrian soldiers and local militia defenders have been killed in Syria?

7. Amnesty echoes allegations which are unverified and probably false. Opponents of the Syrian government allege that the Syrian Army uses chlorine gas weapons in violation of a recent U.N. Security Council resolution. The Amnesty report includes a graphic of a “barrel bomb” with a caption suggesting that chlorine was used in attacks on March 16, 2015. These claims are widespread but dubious. They ignore the following facts:

* Syrian military has no reason to use chlorine since it has more effective bomb explosives.

* Syrian military has strong motive to NOT use such a weapon since it has been explicitly sanctioned.

* The opposition has a strong motive to use such a weapon because they seek to draw foreign intervention.

* The opposition has the means and the opportunity to use chlorine gas weapons since they have ground projectiles and because the major chlorine gas producing factory in Syria was seized by Nusra rebels in 2012.

Instead of seriously examining chlorine allegations, the Amnesty report echoes the dubious charges.

8. Amnesty fails to recognize what keeps the conflict going. As indicated above, the initial enthusiasm of idealistic protesters soon turned to despair as they came face to face with the reality of abusive and sectarian armed gangs. The general population was unhappy and largely departed with whatever they could take. This leaves the question: Why does the conflict continue? The reason is because there is a continuing supply of money, weapons, foreign fighters and supplies coming through Turkey. Without that, the conflict would have ended long ago. Perhaps there could have been reconciliation agreement as was done one year ago in Homs. But because Aleppo is relatively close to the porous border with Turkey, and because wealthy external powers have not been willing to give up on plans for “regime change”, the conflict has continued. Generous salaries have continued to flow to foreign and domestic fighters; supplies and armaments have continued to flow. In recent months Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have coordinated more closely to escalate the conflict, including collaboration with Jabhat al Nusra (al Queda). Fighters and heavy artillery recently poured across the Turkish border to invade Idlib then Jisr al Shugour. There are also reports of large quantities of ammonium nitrate fertilizer going across the border from Turkey destined for exploding and killing Syrians not fertilizing the soil.

Conclusion

Amnesty is appropriately concerned with civilian deaths. But what keeps the war going, to the detriment of soldiers and civilians, is external powers continuing to funnel money, supplies, weapons and mercenaries into Syria. It seems the outside powers are willing to destroy Syria rather than give up their plan for regime change in Damascus.

Tragically there is “death everywhere” in Syria. In significant measure, it is the consequence of powerful countries trampling on international law. Amnesty should be exposing this, not ignoring or approving it.

Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com.

The Evil Within : The Truth We Dare Not See About Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen

An air strike hits a military site controlled by the Houthi group in Yemen's capital Sanaa May 12, 2015. (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)
By Catherine Shakdam

On the 70th anniversary of the fall of Nazi Germany, fascism is far from dead. As Yemen bleeds under Saudi Arabia’s grand war, it is really the annihilation of one people we are seeing play out – the Zaidis of Yemen.

If Saudi Arabia, a regional super-power strong with its trillions of petrodollars, has ruled unchallenged over the Middle East and to an extent over the Islamic world, it has done so at the expense of people’s freedom and prosperity. Yemen, more than any other country in the region has suffered under its powerful and rich tyrant of a neighbor.

Coerced into assuming the role of a passive vassal, Yemen was prevented from rising to its true potential through a clever network of bribery, religious sponsoring and social engineering. Ever since this poorest nation of South Arabia attempted to break away from the shackles of tyranny back in 1962, Riyadh has preyed on Yemen, sabotaging and manipulating, invading its lands and eroding its institutions, all to the tune of a disruptive and perverse game of tribalism with sectarian undertones.

The overlord of Arabia, the Kingdom is responsible for much, if not all of the unrest we have seen play out in the region.

But back to Yemen!

Yemen has always been a thorn in Al Saud’s thigh, a threat to its hegemonic ambitions.

As professed by Ibn Saud (the patriarch of the house of Saud) all those decades ago – left unchecked Yemen would spell the end of Saudi Arabia as the region’s hegemon. One might argue that this one warning actually shaped Riyadh’s policy towards Yemen, feeding its paranoia over this most unruly and now poorest nation in the peninsula.

Ravaged by pandemic corruption, insecurity, political instability, social injustices and an over-bearing, ever-spreading sense of despair, Yemen has become but a shell of its former self, an institutional husk with no social cohesion left to hold it together.

But if Yemen has become what it is today, it is by Saudi design. Yemen’s demise, its very unraveling has been engineered by Saudi Arabia ever since 1994 when then-King Fahd bin Abdulaziz propped a loose coalition of tribes and Sunni radical factions to act as a counter-power to then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in exchange for military back up against Al Hirak – the Southern Secessionist Movement. For the sake of territorial unity President Saleh delivered Yemen’s future to the rapacious hands of the Kingdom, not realizing just how much this alliance would cost him in the end.

And so Al Islah – which acts as an umbrella for the now infamous Muslim Brotherhood – was born to act as Riyadh’s proxy in Sana’a.

This one party would serve as a catalyst, a protective shield and a nurturing hand for Wahhabis and Salafis alike, which religious movements we know now have inspired terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

But if Saudi Arabia has played a role in the crumbling of Yemen from afar, a dark cloud above the once clear sky of Felix Arabia, March 25, 2015 shattered whatever restraint Riyadh could master. Faced with an increasingly politically independent Yemen, Riyadh chose to intervene before the Houthis could actually manifest a grand political and tribal coalition and fulfill Yemenis’ calls for fairer political representation.

At the risk of upsetting the Western media narrative and Saudi Arabia’ self-proclaimed intentions in Yemen, democracy and constitutional legitimacy were never part of Riyadh’s equation, more worldly ambitions have animated Al Saud royals: natural resources and geopolitics figuring high on the list.

But that is not all – ideology, rather, clashing religious ideology has played a trigger to this Saudi-led war against Yemen, and there lies an evil which the world has yet to wake up to.

More than a month into this unilateral and grand military intervention on Yemen and it appears clear that Saudi Arabia has singled out not just the Houthis as its target of choice but the entire Yemeni Zaidi community.

Because of their rejection of Wahhabism, the Yemen Zaidi community has been labeled as “apostate” by all Salafi and Wahhabi clerics; a religious aberration to be dealt with by annihilation. Back in 2009 during a live TV interview with BBC Arabic, Adel Al Kalbani, the Imam of Mecca professed his hatred of all Shia Muslims when he called for their hunting down and death. More recently, in April 2013, Saad Al Durihim, a Saudi cleric, posted a series of comments on Twitter in which he advocated that militias in Iraq demonstrate a more “heavy handed” approach when dealing with Shia Muslims and kill any Shias they might encounter – women, men and children. Such statements are the expression of Saudi Arabia’s strict theocratic reactionary regime.

It needs to be pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s official line vis-a-vis Shia Islam echoes that of both Al- Qaeda and ISIS, which groups, Stephen Lendman, a prominent US political analyst and writer has said are but the offshoots of the Kingdom’s religious fascist construct.

But if Saudi Arabia’s religious “policy” has failed to raise even an eyebrow in Western capitals, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the ongoing cultural and religious genocide which is taking place in Yemen.

For weeks now Saudi Arabia has pounded Sa’ada and several neighboring regions, oblivious to civilians’ safety in its desire to lay flat Zaidi Islam.

One might argue that Riyadh is actually specifically targeting civilians. Why else would the Kingdom have resorted to using cluster bombs in heavily populated areas, especially when studies have established that such weapons stand a lethal threat to civilians? According to handicap international 27 percent of all recorded cluster bombs victims are children.

Activists in Yemen, among which Hussain Al Bukhaiti, have also accused Riyadh of using chemical agents such as chlorine and white phosphorus in Sa’ada, Haja and even the capital Sana’a.

Following an attack on Saudi soil by the Houthis earlier last week, Saudi coalition spokesman Brig-Gen Ahmed Al Asiri warned Riyadh’s revenge would be swift and radical. And indeed it was – hundreds of thousands of civilians were put in harm’s way, trapped in Sa’ada, under relentless bombing. For 24 hours Saudi Arabia would rain bombs on this one “Zaidi” region of Yemen, unchallenged and unquestioned, cloaked by Western powers’ deafening silence.

But if civilian casualties are often the first victims of war what about cultural genocide? How can any nation ever justify the destruction of historical and religious landmarks? On May 8, Saudi Arabia reduced late Sheikh Hussein Badreddin Al Houthi’s shrine to rubble. A few days after that, another sacred Yemeni monument was destroyed – Al Hadi Mosque, the third mosque to have been built in Yemen over a thousand years ago. If not hate what could justify such actions?

If the world came together to decry ISIS’ rampage against Iraq and Syria heritage, why stay silent over Saudi Arabia’s crimes? Or is it that money white-washes war crimes these days?

On the 70th anniversary of the fall of fascism the US and the EU might want to open their eyes to their allies’ intrinsic nature.

United States Manufactured F-16 Moroccan Fighter Plane Shot Down Over Yemen

Saudi-GCC alliance bombing goes own despite announcement of humanitarian pause

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Syria 360°

Al-Massirah television station in Yemen which supports the Ansurallah Movement (Houthis) broadcast news reports on May 11 showing civilians standing around a downed F-16 bomber utilized by Morocco in the alliance currently waging war on this Middle Eastern state.

The fighter plane produced in the United States by General Dynamics Corporation is the same aircraft utilized by other members of the Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) waging an aerial war against Yemen, the most underdeveloped state in the region.

Morocco, one of only three remaining monarchies still reigning over societies on the African continent, joined the alliance “to restore legitimacy in Yemen” from the very beginning of its inception in late March. This decision to join the war against Yemen was made by King Mohammed VI absent of any consultation with the parliament. (The Australian, May 11)

Reports indicate that the Kingdom has provided six aircraft to the Saudi-GCC operational command, although there is virtually no information being disclosed about the North African country’s involvement. These F16 jets appear to be the same that participated in the Pentagon-led strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

War Kills and Maims More Civilians

Since March 26, the Saudi-GCC coalition has dropped an undetermined number of ordinances on Yemen in a failed attempt to destroy the Shiite-based Ansurallah forces which has formed an alliance with other political interests to oppose Washington’s attempt to control this nation through Riyahd. This imperialist-backed coalition which receives logistical and intelligence support from Washington has intensified its bombing campaign against Yemen in an attempt to reinstall the fugitive President Hadi who now lives in exile in Saudi Arabia.

According to an article published by Press TV on May 11, “Saudi aerial attacks on the impoverished Arab nation continue to claim lives. In the latest raids, Saudi warplanes targeted the northwestern city of Ta’izz injuring 11 people. Earlier, Saudi jets attacked targets in Sa’ada and Hajjah provinces, killing at least five people. They also pounded a district in Bayda Province, leaving two people dead.”

Also on May 11 it was estimated that 11 people were killed and more than 160 injured as Saudi jets struck an arms installation in the capital city Sana’a. These raids bombed a depot in the al-Naqam area located in the eastern outskirts of the capital.

Media reports state that the raids set off numerous explosions which scattered pieces of artillery, with one crashing into the roof of a residential structure. In the aftermath of the attacks, clouds of smoke blew into the sky from the site and additional materials were scattered across other neighborhoods in other sections of the city. (Press TV, May 11)

Several days before on May 7 the Saudi foreign ministry announced a 5-day pause in the bombing to allow relief to be delivered to the people impacted by the bombing and the fighting on the ground. The Saudi-GCC alliance gave the Houthis an ultimatum that they must stop their resistance efforts against the bombings or face more aggressive military attacks.

This announcement was made by Riyadh during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The top Obama administration envoy said that Washington supported the war against Yemen and made threats against Iran which is politically supporting the Ansurallah Movement (Houthis).

Just minutes later Kerry then said that there should be a ceasefire in the fighting and that the U.S. would supply $68 million humanitarian assistance to Yemen. This purported aid was designed to provide food, water, shelter and medical care to the people in the warzones of Yemen.

Kerry said in Riyadh of the U.S. foreign policy related to the war that “We have urged all sides, anybody involved, to comply with humanitarian law and to take every precaution to keep civilians out of the line of fire, out of harm’s way, as well as to provide the opportunity for humanitarian assistance to be able to be delivered. I think this would be welcomed news for the world if it were able to be effected in a way that does not see people try to take advantage of it and either secure more territory or attack people participating in a legitimate pause.” (VOA, May 11)

Nonetheless, the Saudi-GCC alliance bolstered and coordinated by Washington has consistently bombed residential areas, internally displaced persons camps, airports, telecommunications infrastructure creating enormous dislocation and outmigration.

After visiting Saudi Arabia, Kerry then went to the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, which houses the largest Pentagon military base on the continent at Camp Lemonnier. The government of Djibouti has done more than the U.S. itself in evacuating distressed people attempting to flee the war in neighboring Yemen.

International Aid Shipments Challenges Saudi-GCC Blockade

Although the U.S. has reached a “deal” with Tehran over its nuclear technology capabilities, the hostility towards the country continues. Many observers believe that the current war against Yemen is designed to weaken the burgeoning influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the Gulf region.

Several attempts by Iranian vessels and planes to provide assistance to the civilian population in Yemen have been rebuffed by Saudi vessels backed up by U.S. warships operating in the region.

Tehran however has reiterated its commitment to address the situation in Yemen. Press TV reported on May 11 that “Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic is prepared to provide Yemen with any humanitarian aid and help the impoverished state work out a political solution to the ongoing crisis there.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said at a combined press conference with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in Tehran that “Since the beginning of the crisis in Yemen and the start of the illegal attacks on the country, the Islamic Republic of Iran has explicitly announced that the Yemeni [crisis] cannot be settled militarily and that these attacks will have no outcome but the killing of defenseless people.”

At the same time a civilian-based international effort is underway as well to provide aid to Yemen and highlight the humanitarian crisis created by a failed imperialist policy towards the Middle East. This effort which is supported by U.S.-based antiwar and peace groups was announced at the recently-held United National Antiwar Conference which took place in Secaucus, New Jersey during May 8-10. The conference attracted hundreds of activists representing numerous organizations across North America, Europe and the Middle East.

In a press release issued on May 11 by the New York-based International Action Center is says “A ship containing over 2,500 tons of flour, rice, and medicine is departing from the Islamic Republic of Iran on Monday. The delegation of doctors, journalists, and activists organized by the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran intends to deliver this much needed humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen, who are facing a horrific bombing campaign from Saudi Arabia.”

This same statement went on to note that “Joining the Iranian volunteers is a delegation of anti-war activists from the United States. Caleb Maupin, an organizer with the International Action Center (iacenter.org) Fight Imperialism Stand Together (fightimperialism.org) and the United National Anti-War Coalition (unacpeace.org ) will be aboard the ship, along with other activists from Europe and the United States, including Tighe Barry from Code Pink (www.codepink.org) and Cyrus McGoldrick, a U.S. Muslim human rights activist.”

The IAC statement noted that if this ship is attacked by hostile forces it will be the duty of the antiwar movement in North America to protest such provocations vigorously. These developments are serving to awaken the anti-imperialist and peace movements in the U.S. to pay closer attention to the Washington supported aggression against both Yemen and Iran.

US “Operation Rooms” Backing Al Qaeda in Syria

US policy think-tank Brookings Institution confirms that contrary to propaganda, US-Saudi “moderates” and Turkey-Qatar “Islamists” have been coordinating all along. 

Tony Cartalucci

The war in Syria continues to drag on, with a recent and renewed vigor demonstrated behind an opposition long portrayed as fractured and reflecting a myriad of competing foreign interests. Chief among these competing interests, the public has been told, were the US and Saudis on one side, backing so-called “moderate rebels,” and Turkey and Qatar on the other openly backing Al Qaeda and its various franchises including the Islamic State (ISIS).

Image: The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are far from internal. Looking at a map of territory used or held by ISIS and other Western-backed sectarian extremists, it is clear that the current conflict is a regional invasion streaming out of NATO-member Turkey and US ally Jordan, now admittedly with the help of both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 

However, for those following the conflict closely, it was clear from the beginning and by the West’s own admissions that success hinged on covertly providing arms, cash, equipment, and both political and military support to Al Qaeda and other sectarian extremists, not opposed by Saudi Arabia, but rather by using Saudi Arabia as the primary medium through which Western material support could be laundered.

And this fact is now confirmed in a recent article published on the Brookings Institution’s website titled, “Why Assad is losing.”

It states unequivocally that (emphasis added):

The involvement of FSA groups, in fact, reveals how the factions’ backers have changed their tune regarding coordination with Islamists. Several commanders involved in leading recent Idlib operations confirmed to this author that the U.S.-led operations room in southern Turkey, which coordinates the provision of lethal and non-lethal support to vetted opposition groups, was instrumental in facilitating their involvement in the operation from early April onwards. That operations room — along with another in Jordan, which covers Syria’s south — also appears to have dramatically increased its level of assistance and provision of intelligence to vetted groups in recent weeks.

Whereas these multinational operations rooms have previously demanded that recipients of military assistance cease direct coordination with groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, recent dynamics in Idlib appear to have demonstrated something different. Not only were weapons shipments increased to the so-called “vetted groups,” but the operations room specifically encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations.

Overall, Brookings is pleased to report that with the infiltration and overrunning of much of Idlib in northern Syria, it appears their long-stated goal of creating a seat of power for their proxies within Syria’s borders and perhaps even extending NATO aircover over it, may finally be at hand. Brookings still attempts to perpetuate an adversarial narrative between the West and Al Qaeda, despite admitting that it was only with Western backing that recent offensives spearheaded by Al Qaeda itself were successful.

In reality, as far back as 2007, it was the admitted policy of the then Bush-led White House to begin arming and funding sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda, through the use of intermediaries including Saudi Arabia. Veteran journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh in his report “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?“would lay bare this conspiracy which has since then unfolded verbatim as described in 2007.

The above mentioned Brookings article also alludes to a grander geopolitical landscape taking shape beyond the Syrian conflict. It states in regards to the US now openly backing what is for all intents and purposes an Al Qaeda-led offensive that:

The most likely explanation for such a move is pressure from the newly emboldened regional alliance comprising Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The United States also is looking for ways to prove its continued alignment with its traditional Sunni Gulf allies, amid the broader context of its rapprochement with Iran.

The continuation, even expansion of the US-backed conflict in Syria is the most telling evidence of all regarding the disingenuous nature of America’s rapprochement with Iran. The entire goal of destabilizing and potentially overthrowing the government in Syria is to weaken Iran ahead of a similar campaign of encirclement, destabilization, and destruction within Iran itself.

The fact that events in Syria are being accelerated, with Brookings itself admitting that “international and ideological differences,” have been “pushed to the side,” illustrates a palpable desperation among the West to finish the conflict in Syria in hopes of moving forward toward Iran before regional dynamics and Iran’s own defensive posture renders moot the West’s entire regional agenda, jeopardizing its long-standing hegemony across North Africa and the Middle East.

Similarly rushed operations appear to be underway in Yemen. With Western-backed conflicts embroiling virtually every nation surrounding Iran, the idea that the US seeks anything but Iran’s eventual destruction, let alone “rapprochement” must surely have no one fooled in Tehran.

While Brookings enthusiastically reports on the continued destruction in Syria it itself played a part in engineering and promoting, it still admits that overthrowing Syria’s legitimate government is not inevitable. While it attempts to portray Syria’s allies as withdrawing support for Damascus, the reality is that if and when Syria falls, Syria’s allies are indisputably next in line.

Iran will face an entire nation handed over to Al Qaeda and other heavily armed and well-backed sectarian extremists dreaming of a cataclysmic confrontation with Tehran, fueled by a global network of US-Saudi backed madrases turning out legions of ideologically poisoned zealots. And beyond Iran, Russia faces the prospect of its Caucasus region being turned into a corridor of terror aimed straight at the heart of Russia itself.

The conflict in Syria is but a single battle among a much larger war – a global war constituting what is basically a third World War, fought not upon vast but clearly defined fronts, but rather through the use of fourth generation warfare, proxies, mercenaries, economics, and information. For those that fail to see how Syria is linked to the survival of many nations beyond its borders and the very concept of a multi-polar world built upon the concept of national sovereignty, they invite not just Damascus’ defeat, but that of the world as we know it.

The Final Push : Splitting Up Iraq

By Mike Whitney

“Iraq’s fate was sealed from the moment we invaded: it has no future as a unitary state … Iraq is fated to split apart into at least three separate states…This was the War Party’s real if unexpressed goal from the very beginning: the atomization of Iraq, and indeed the entire Middle East. Their goal, in short, was chaos – and that is precisely what we are seeing today.”

— Justin Raimondo

A bill that could divide Iraq into three separate entities has passed the US House Armed Services Committee by a vote of  60 to 2.  The controversial draft bill will now be debated in the US House of Representatives where it will be voted on sometime in late May. If approved, President Barack Obama will be free to sidestep Iraq’s central government in Baghdad and provide arms and assistance directly to Sunnis and the Kurds that are fighting ISIS. This, in turn, will lead to the de facto partitioning of the battered country into three parts; Kurdistan, Shiastan, and Sunnistan.

The plan to break up Iraq has a long history dating back to Oded Yinon’s darkly prophetic 1982 article titled  “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”. Yinon believed that Israel’s survival required that the Jewish state become a imperial regional power that “must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states … The Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation.” (The Zionist Plan for the Middle East, Israel Shahak)

The  GOP-led House Armed Services Committee’s bill embraces Yinon’s vision of a fragmented Iraq. (Note: Under the current bill, which is part of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),  as much as 60% of the proposed funds, or $429m, would flow directly to the “Kurdish Peshmerga, the Sunni tribal security forces with a national security mission, and the Iraqi Sunni National Guard”.) Providing weapons to Sunni militias and the Kurdish Peshmerga will inevitably lead to the disintegration of the country,  the ramping up of sectarian hostilities,  and the strengthening of extremist groups operating in the region.  It’s a prescription for disaster.  Here’s a brief excerpt from Yinon’s piece on Iraq:

“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel … Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.”  ( “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, Oded Yinon)

The fact that US and Israeli strategic objectives match up so closely calls into question the ISIS invasion of Iraq in 2014 when a two mile-long column of white land rovers loaded with 15,000 jihadis barreled across the open desert from Syria spewing clouds of dust into the atmosphere without being detected by US AWACs or state-of-the-art spy satellites. The logical explanation for this so called “intelligence failure” is that it was not a failure at all, but that Washington wanted the operation to go forward as it coincided with US-Israeli strategic aims. As it happens, the areas now controlled by the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia are very close to those projected by Yinon suggesting that the ISIS invasion was part of a broader plan from the very beginning.  That’s not to say that ISIS leaders take orders directly from Langley or the Pentagon. No. It merely implies that Washington uses the marauding horde for their own purposes.  In this case, ISIS provides the pretext for arming the Sunnis and Kurds, imposing new borders within the existing state,  creating easier access to vital resources, and eliminating a potential rival to US-Israel regional hegemony. The US needs an enemy to justify its constant meddling. ISIS provides that justification. Check this out from the Daily Star:

“The present ISIS lightning war in Iraq is the creation of an illusion to initiate the fulfillment of a pre-planned agenda of the West in close alliance with Israel to redraw the map of the entire region as the “New Middle East…..The chaos, destruction and devastation caused by the ISIS in its process of establishing the Sunni Islamic Caliphate in Iraqi and Syrian territories is the realisation of the intended policy of the US and the West to change public perception that the “War on Terror” was never a war waged by the West against Islam but a “war within Islam” along religious, ethnic and sectarian lines in the Islamic world…

The division of Iraq into three separate entities had also been strongly advocated by US Vice-President Joe Biden. Biden’s heritage and an analysis of his electoral constituents will help understand better his support for the fragmentation of Iraq under the Yinon Plan.” (The Yinon Plan and the role of ISIS, The Daily Star)

The Biden-Gelb plan, which was proposed in an op-ed in the New York Times in May 2006, called for the establishment of  “three largely autonomous regions” with Baghdad becoming a “federal zone.”  In other words, the powers of the Iraqi central government would be greatly reduced. The authors tried to soft-peddle their radical scheme as “decentralization” which is a milder term than the more accurate “partition”.  The authors, both of who are members of the powerful Council on Foreign Relations, obscure the real aims of the plan which is to weaken the country through dismemberment and to leave it in “a permanent state of colonial dependency.” (Chomsky)

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has denounced the proposed bill as an attempt to undermine his authority and rip the country apart.   In a recent phone conversation with Vice President Biden, Abadi expressed his opposition to the bill insisting that “only the Iraqi people can decide  the future of their country.”

Also, according to Press TV, Iraqi cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr,  warned that if congress passed the bill, he would order his Mahdi Army to resume hostilities against the US targets in Iraq.

“We are obliged to lift the freeze on our military wing … and begin hitting US interests in Iraq and outside it,” said Sadr, who once led the powerful Mahdi Army and still enjoys huge influence among the Shia population.

Although Obama doesn’t approve of the new bill’s wording,  his opposition is far from convincing.  Here’s what State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said on the matter at a recent briefing: “The policy of this Administration is clear and consistent in support of a unified Iraq. We’ve always said a unified Iraq is stronger, and it’s important to the stability of the region as well.”

“Clear and consistent”?  When has US policy in the Middle East ever been clear and consistent?  Is it clear and consistent in Libya, Syria, or Yemen where jihadi militias are armed and supported either directly or indirectly by Washington or its allies?  Is US policy clear and consistent in Ukraine where far-right neo-Nazi extremists are trained and given logistical support by the US to fight a proxy war against Russia?

Sure, Obama wants to make it look like he opposes the bill, but how much of that is just public relations?  In truth, the administration is on the same page as the Congress, they just want to be more discreet about it.  Here’s  Harf again: “We look forward to working with Congress on language that we could support on this important issue.”

Indeed, the administration wants to tweak the wording for the sake of diplomacy, but that’s the extent of their opposition.  In fact,  the House Armed Services Committee has already complied with this request and removed the offending clause from the bill (asking for recognition of the Peshmerga and Sunni tribal militias as “countries”)  while, at the same time,  “maintaining that some of the military aid should go directly to the two forces fighting ISIS….”

So they deleted a couple words from the text but meaning remains the same. Also, according to Huffington Post:

“Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said Sunday he wants to identify “a way to streamline the process of getting the weapons to both the Sunni tribes and the [Kurds] … while at the same time not undermining the government of Iraq in Baghdad.”

There’s no way to “streamline the process” because the two things are mutually exclusive, Abadi has already said so. If Obama gives weapons to the Sunnis and the Kurds, the country is going to split up. It’s that simple.

So how has Obama responded to these latest developments?

Last week he met with Kurdish president Masoud Barzani in Washington. Here’s what happened:

“Asked by Kurdish outlet Rudaw whether he had secured any commitments on a change to the policy from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden when he met with them Tuesday, Barzani responded, “Both the vice president and the president want the peshmerga to get the right weapons and ammunition. … The important point here is that the peshmerga get weapons. How they will come, in which way, that’s not as important as the fact that peshmerga need weapons to be in their hands.”  (Kurdish Leader Aligns With White House Over Congress On ISIS Strategy, Huffington Post)

So Obama basically told Barzani he’d get the weapons he wanted. (wink, wink)

Can you see what a sham this is?   Iraq’s fate is sealed. As soon as Congress approves the new defense bill, Obama’s going to start rushing weapons off to his new buddies in the Kurdish north and the so called Sunni triangle.  That’s going to trigger another vicious wave of sectarian bloodletting that will rip the country to shreds.

And that’s the goal, isn’t it: To split the country into three parts, to improve access to vital resources,  and to eliminate a potential rival to US-Israel regional hegemony?

You know it is.

Saudi-GCC Coalition Bombs Airport in Sanaa to Block Relief

Iran sends humanitarian assistance through Oman

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Syria 360°

Fighter aircraft from the Saudi-GCC coalition continued its massive bombing operations in Yemen during late April by attacking the international airport in the capital of Sanaa.

These attacks on the airport are designed to block aid coming in from the Islamic Republic of Iran which is supporting the Ansurallah Movement (Houthis) who have taken large swaths of territory throughout the country. Saudi Arabia backed by the United States views the current struggle in Yemen as a proxy war against Tehran.

Despite the recent agreement between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear energy program, the administration of President Barack Obama has not lessened its hostility towards the country. The Pentagon is providing re-fueling for the Saudi-GCC war planes as well as intelligence support which has resulted in the massive destruction carried out since the bombing began on March 26.

An article published in the Guardian newspaper noted that “ Iran’s state news agency IRNA said Saudi jets tried to force what it said was an aid plane back after it entered Yemeni airspace, but the pilots had ignored these ‘illegal warnings.’ The jets then bombed Sanaa airport as the plane was making an approach to land, forcing it to turn back, IRNA added.” (April 28)

Saudi Arabia wants to re-install the fugitive President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who they claim represents the only “legitimate” government in Yemen. The Ansurallah has formed a coalition with loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to resign amid mass protests during 2011.

Civilians Suffer the Most From Air War

Although the Saudi-GCC coalition claims that its air campaign is restricted to military targets only, reports from numerous humanitarian organizations have documented attacks on civilians and residential areas. Even the strikes on the Sanaa airport was a deliberate attempt to prevent much needed medical supplies and relief from reaching those in need.

News reports broadcast over the Yemeni-based al-Masirah television indicated that an Iranian plane which turned around at the Sanaa airport was slated to transport injured victims of the Saudi-led bombings for medical treatment in Iran. One aviation official said another airport in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah had also been bombed, but appeared to be still operational.

Officials said aid flights would be diverted to Hodeidah pending the large-scale repairs needed at Sanaa airport for it to become functional again. On May 3, Saudi-GCC war planes bombed Sanaa’s al-Dulaimi military airbase as well as another location in the Arhab district targeting camps where soldiers still loyal to former President Saleh are stationed.

Further attacks were carried out in residential areas in several provinces. On April 28, Saudi-led jets attacked a home that neighbors said was owned by Abdullah Yahya Hakim, a leading Houthi official. Hakim was one of several Ansurallah officials subjected to international sanctions by the United Nations Security Council in November.

Additional reports revealed that there was intense fighting on April 28 in the oil-producing Marib province east of Sanaa, in the city of Taiz in central Yemen, and in the southern port city of Aden.

Reports Surface of Saudi-GCC Ground Forces Being Deployed

Aden was the scene of fierce clashes on May 2-3 in the central Mualla and Khor Maksar districts which are located near the commercial port. Reports have surfaced that Saudi-GCC Special Forces have landed in Aden and are fighting alongside the anti-Houthi militias known as the Southern Popular Resistance.

A spokesman for the Southern Popular Resistance, Ali al-Ahmadi, withdrew an earlier statement that 40-50 Saudi-GCC Special Forces troops had landed but instead said that “Special Forces from the southern fighters have been prepared and trained for an operation to attack Aden airport.” (Reuters, May 3)

Riyadh also refuted the reports that it has landed ground troops in Aden. The Asharq Al-Awsat news agency indicated that the Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri denied that the Saudi-GCC coalition forces had troops on the ground in Aden, instead saying this was the role assigned to the Southern Popular Resistance.

“The coalition provides all kinds of support to the Popular Resistance who have now begun to achieve positive results in the vicinity of Aden International Airport, where a large number of Houthi fighters were evicted, as well as the Mualla district (in Aden),” said Asiri.

Amid the intensification of the fighting in Aden, a split within the General People’s Congress (GPC) party may have taken place between former President Saleh and other leaders. The GPC had been viewed as being in alliance with the Ansurallah fighters in the struggle against the Saudi-GCC Coalition efforts in Yemen.

Nonetheless, an Arab News report from May 4 said that “Yemen’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party has announced it is backing the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, directing a powerful blow to his rival and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In a statement issued by the GPC’s second-in-command, the ruling party declared its support for President Hadi, calling on the Houthi movement to withdraw their militias from the areas they have controlled and put down their weapons in compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.”

There are reports that three Saudi troops were killed on the border with Yemen. Such attacks reveal that despite the intensive bombing by Riyadh and its allies, the Ansurallah fighters are still capable of striking in the border areas. (Associated Press, May 1)

Al-Qaeda elements, financed by Saudi Arabia, are also involved in the war against the Ansurallah Movement which is allied with Iran. Although the U.S. says that its war on terrorism is targeting Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), within the context of Yemen this position seems to have taken a different course with the focus principally on the Ansurallah.

There is speculation that the war against Yemen is related to the recent shake-up in the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. The bombing of Yemen has still not produced the results sought by Riyadh and its allies.

Egyptian Government Extends Mandate in Yemen

Egypt’s military-dominated government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi announced on May 3 that it would continue its intervention in Yemen in alliance with Saudi Arabia. There has been some debate within the Egyptian state media questioning the whether this policy will end in disaster as the 1962-67 deployment under the late former President Gamal Abdel Nasser where thousands of troops lost their lives.

Reuters reported on May 3 that “The Egyptian government said it had extended by three months the deployment of ‘some elements of the armed forces’ abroad, enabling it to continue participating in a Saudi-led coalition that has been launching air strikes in Yemen. Egypt, which has one of the Middle East’s largest military forces, is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and has said it is participating in the alliance targeting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are allies of Iran.”

Since the overthrow of the government of Hosni Mubarak over four years ago the economic situation in Egypt has worsened. Under the previous Muslim Brotherhood administration of Mohamed Morsi, which was overthrown nearly two years ago, the country received support from Qatar.

At present the Egyptian regime is largely dependent upon assistance from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Consequently, the stakes are high in the Washington-backed war in Yemen where the defeat of the Saudi-allied forces would be a tremendous blow to imperialist objectives in the Middle East.

Iran, United Nations Calls for Ceasefire in Yemen

Ansurallah leader says the United States is behind the war

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Syria 360°

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has outlined a proposal for the cessation of hostilities in Yemen through a letter to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on April 17.

This plan involves four demands: an immediate ceasefire, the halt to attacks by Saudi-GCC led war planes, the provisions for a safe corridor to provide much-needed humanitarian relief and the resumption of political dialogue. This proposal came just one day after the UN Secretary General called for an immediate ceasefire.

On April 20, Zarif published a letter in the opinion and editorial section of the New York Times stating Iran’s willingness to cooperate with other regional states and the international community in solving the crisis of the numerous wars in the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East. The foreign minister stressed that Teheran’s recent agreement over its nuclear program with the United States and European Union could serve as an impetus for serious multi-lateral talks on other issues.

Zarif noted that although this agreement was a step forward in relations between Washington and Teheran, much more work needed to be done. Absent of a broader framework for resolving ongoing interventions and humanitarian challenges, the current atmosphere of dialogue could easily be lost to open confrontation over Yemen, Iraq, Syria and other countries.

The foreign minister stressed that “to seal the anticipated nuclear deal, more political will is required. The Iranian people have shown their resolve by choosing to engage with dignity. It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion.” (NYT, April 20)

This same letter goes on to emphasize that “If one were to begin serious discussion of the calamities the region faces, Yemen would be a good place to start. Iran has offered a reasonable and practical approach to address this painful and unnecessary crisis.”

Ansurallah Leader Says U.S. at the Root of War in Yemen

Since March 26 Saudi Arabian air forces in alliance with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, without any semblance of a UN or international mandate, have carried out the massive bombardment of Yemen. There has also been a naval blockade denying much needed food and other goods entry into the most underdeveloped territories in the region.

Nonetheless, the UN Security Council passed a resolution on April 14 imposing an arms embargo on the Ansurallah movement demanding that they withdraw from areas in which their fighters have control. The resolution also placed asset freezes and travel bans on key leaders of the Houthis.

The U.S. supplies the Saudis and the GCC with fighter planes, weapons, intelligence support and refueling which is facilitating the bombing of Yemen. The Ansurallah (Houthis) is a Shia-based movement which has taken large swaths of territory in the north, central and south of Yemen.

In a television address aired over Press TV, the Ansurallah leader, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, blamed the U.S. for the war against his country. He charged the Pentagon with pointing out areas to be attacked in Yemen.

Al-Houthi said “We do not need permission from the UNSC to defend our country, stressing the Yemeni people have the right and legitimacy to defend. Our great people will not surrender, they will stand.” (Press TV, April 19)

The Ansurallah leader claimed that the Saudi aggression is destroying valuable resources in Yemen, which are criminal acts absent of any legitimacy. He held the view that the objectives of the Saudi-GCC bombing is to “return Yemen to the Israeli and US identity.” Al-Houti said that anyone who supports the aggression against Yemen is engaging in a war that is being waged by Saudi Arabia.

Bombing Spreads in Yemen

Meanwhile the Saudi-GCC alliance continues its bombing in 18 out of 22 provinces in Yemen displacing 150,000 people, killing an estimated 2,600 people, mostly civilians, and the wounding of 2,900 others. Fighting has escalated in the Hadramaut province around Makalla where a battle is being waged against al-Qaeda fighters who have attempted to seize an airport, government buildings and a refinery.

A further escalation in the bombardments took place on April 20 when homes were destroyed in Sanaa killing at least 15 people. Some reports suggests that the target of the airstrikes was a munitions storage center in the area although other residential neighborhoods have been bombed over the last three weeks.

Oxfam, the London-based humanitarian organization, reported that many civilians have been targets of the attacks. The group said that one of its food storage warehouses was struck where no arms or fighters from the Ansurallah are based.

“The contents of the warehouse had no military value,” the group declared. “This is an absolute outrage, particularly when one considers that we have shared detailed information with the coalition on the locations of our offices and storage facilities.” (NYT, April 20)

With specific reference to the April 20 bombing in Sanaa, the Reuters press agency said “The blast hit the base on Faj Attan mountain beside the Hadda district, home to the presidential palace and many embassies, and sent a tall mushroom cloud into the air. Resident Adel Mansour said it was the largest explosion in more than three weeks of bombing by the Saudi-led coalition.”

Bombing of Yemen Raises Diplomatic Tensions Threatening Broader War

The bombing in Sanaa on April 20 set off another round of diplomatic wrangling where the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Teheran to express their displeasure at the current situation. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Jakarta that the government was opposed to the bombings which have resulted in the wounding of two of its diplomatic personnel.

A Yemeni television station, al-Yemen al-Youm, was hit by the Saudi-GCC bombs on April 20 leaving three of its staff dead. The area around Faj Attan has been a frequent target of the air campaign over the last few weeks.

Iran in recent statements have expressed its willingness to become more directly involved in the Yemeni situation warning Saudi Arabia and the U.S. that any attack on its territory will be met with fierce retaliation. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said on April 20 during a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Faisal al-Miqdad that “We are deeply concerned over the killing of defenseless and innocent people in Yemen and the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and we will make our utmost efforts to bring an end to this massacre.”

Just one day before the commander of Iranian Army’s Ground Forces Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan warned Saudi Arabia of “facing a crushing response from inside Yemen if the ongoing aggression against the Arab country continues.” Brigadier General Pourdasatan says “The Saudi Arabian army has no war experience and is very fragile and if it is confronted with a war of attrition, it should await crushing blows and it will suffer heavy defeat.” (Press TV, April 19)

Operation Decisive Storm, as it is called by the Saudi-GCC alliance, is a manifestation of the United States imperialist efforts to continue its proxy war against Iran through the control of the political and military situation in Yemen. The expansion of the warn in Yemen has implications for developments in Iraq and Syria as both states have spoken out about its strong opposition to the bombing of Yemen and the threat of a possible ground invasion by Egypt and Sunni-led rebel groups which are funded by Riyadh.


Abayomi Azikiwe has written extensively on African affairs with specific reference to historical studies and political economy. He has done research on the origins and political ideology of the African National Congress, its leaders as well as other national liberation movements and regional organizations  in Southern Africa.


The Battle for Yemen Prompts International Debate on Intervention

United States escalates role in Saudi bombing and naval blockade

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Syria 360°

On April 10 the Pakistan parliament voted to not join the Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) coalition now bombing Yemen.

This is the latest in a series of political struggles surrounding developments over who will control this impoverished but strategically significant state.

After the passing of this resolution calling for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a statement of his own prior to holding a high-level meeting with military officials. Sharif said that the parliamentary resolution was in accordance with government policy.

However, the prime minister suggested that Pakistan would oppose any threat to what he described as Saudi sovereignty. Such a move would provoke a strong response from his government.

Sharif stressed during his statement that Saudi Arabia remained an important strategic ally of Pakistan. He also emphasized that the stability and sovereignty of Saudi Arabia was a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

The meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence in Islamabad with leading military and political officials was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, in addition to Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary Aziz Ahmed Chaudhary, and others. Media reports indicated that the meeting was held to evaluate the military situation in the Middle East region with specific attention paid to Yemen within the context of Saudi Arabia’s appeal for military cooperation, following a joint Parliamentary resolution calling for Pakistan to remain neutral in the Yemen conflict. (Geo.tv, April 13)

In Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has proposed to deploy a ground force in support of Saudi objectives in Yemen, is facing growing criticism inside the North African state. Egyptians are recounting the five-year military campaign during 1962-67 under the former President Gamal Abdel Nasser who intervened against the monarchy resulting in the loss of thousands of troops.

A small demonstration was held on April 9 outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo. Even though protests are illegal in Egypt, the security forces did not seek to halt the action.

An article published by the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported that “Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, a prominent intellectual and former confidante of President Gamal Abdel Nasser and an El-Sisi supporter, told a TV show this week that Egypt ‘never learned’ from the 1960s war in Yemen. ‘We shouldn’t jump to war … We need to know if Saudi Arabia is ready for the costs. Yemen is a sleeping volcano south of the Arabian Peninsula. If it erupts, it will sweep the entire region.’” (April 9)

Nonetheless, this same article stressed that Egypt is beholden to Saudi Arabia and the GCC due to its financial support since the coup against the ousted President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. The reports reveals that “Informed sources say Egypt is expected to receive bonds worth $US6 billion from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to possibly erasing Egypt’s debts to the Gulf States taking part in the Yemen campaign.”

Military Attacks on Yemen Escalate

Meanwhile Saudi warships have imposed a blockade of the southern port city of Aden where a humanitarian crisis is escalating every day. The military action is severely impacting the trade in oil and natural gas from the country.

A report in the Wall Street Journal said that “The Grace Acacia, a Bahamas-flagged liquefied natural gas tanker, was scheduled to load cargo at the Balhaf LNG terminal on Friday (April 10), but the loading has been delayed and the tanker is currently anchored at the Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates, a trader said. The Yemen LNG plant has a capacity of 6.7 million tons a year and supplies a large portion of its output to Asian markets.” (April 13)

The naval blockade is placing further pressure on the residents of Aden and other areas of the country. Bombing operations led by Saudi Arabia utilizing United States supplied F-15 and F-16 fighter jets have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians.

Telecommunications and other infrastructural targets have also been a major focus of the airstrikes. Attacks carried out on April 13 hit substations and power lines knocking out electricity supplies and internet connectivity.

Large sections of the country have been left in the dark and without the capacity of communicating with the outside world. This is worsening the already aggravated humanitarian crisis where food supplies are dwindling due to the blockade.

On April 13, Yemen’s state energy firm revealed that it could not generate power due to inadequate fuel supplies. The company has requested assistance from international organizations to provide fuel “before the provinces plunge into darkness.” (sputniknews.com)

Also on the same day telecommunications towers in Sanaa were bombed by the Saudi Arabia-led aerial campaign. During the previous week a Yemen state television station was bombed.

Reports of Iranian naval vessels being deployed have also surfaced. Nonetheless, there have been no attacks on civilians by military forces from Tehran.

United States Role is Central to the War on Yemen

The U.S. is providing important intelligence and logistical coordination to the Saudi-GCC bombing campaign involving the refueling of bombers. Although the Obama administration announced that it had withdrawn its Special Forces from the country several weeks ago, the Pentagon’s reentry is designed to support the Saudi-GCC efforts aimed at halting the Ansurallah movement (Houthis) and re-imposing the regime of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Deputy Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken announced to the international press on April 7 that Washington has established a “joint coordination planning cell” with the Saudi regime. This follows reports that the Pentagon is increasing its supply of weapons to Riyadh in efforts to bolster the war against the Houthi movement in Yemen. (New York Times)

Blinken praised the Saudis for carrying out the bombing operations and blockade of Yemen. He said that the actions taken by the monarchy and its allies are “sending a strong message to the Houthis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force.” (Reuters)

A Pentagon military official Army Col. Steven Warren pointed out that the U.S. came to the assistance of an F-15 fighter jet which was running into difficulties. Warren said “a handful of (U.S.) personnel are working in ‘a joint sort of fusion center’ run by the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is led by Saudi Arabia and also includes the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.” (McClatchy Washington Bureau, April 6)

“We’re not providing targeting intelligence (for airstrikes), but we’re providing more broadly situational intelligence,” said Warren. Washington is concerned about any possible growing Iranian influence in Yemen and other regional states.

The Wall Street Journal reported on April 12 that “the U.S. Navy, backing a Saudi naval blockade of Yemen’s ports, has intensified a search for weapons on the seas near Yemen’s coast. Iran is trying to supply the Houthis with surface-to-air missiles, a senior U.S. defense official said.”

This same article goes on to note that “On April 1, sailors on an American destroyer in the Red Sea halted a Panamanian-flagged freighter suspected of delivering Iranian weapons to the Houthis and searched the vessel. Although the search came up empty, it marked the navy’s first boarding operation in an expanding campaign to thwart the Houthis.”

The State Department has issued a warning to Iran saying that Washington will not sit idly by and watch Yemen be overrun. However, as it relates to U.S. citizens of Yemeni descent they have been forced to take legal action to demand that Washington provide avenues for their evacuation from the embattled state.

A coalition of Arab American, Asian and Muslim organizations has filed a lawsuit against the government demanding the evacuation of Yemenis who have U.S. passports. The Obama administration has expressed concern that if they send troops in to evacuate its citizens they could suffer casualties. The administration has encouraged Yemeni Americans to seek other means to leave the country.

PFLP : US-backed Saudi Forces Committing War Crimes in Yemen

PFLP

“Yemen is economically the poorest Arab country, but its people have a long and proud history of resistance to colonialism, imperialism – and Saudi domination. The Yemeni people are united and the vast majority of political forces are standing together to reject the Saudi attack, and they will not concede to bow before Saudi aggression. This aggression will fail, I am confident, and the Yemeni people will be victorious,” said Barakat. “But what must be recorded is the reality that war crimes are happening on a daily and hourly basis in Yemen at the hands of the Saudi regime and its US backers – the destruction of the country, its civilian infrastructure, and the targeting of refugee camps. Therefore, it is crucial for all progressive and revolutionary forces around the world to demonstrate in front of Saudi embassies demanding an immediate end to the war and aggression on Yemen and to support the self-determination of the people of Yemen.”

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Imperialist Proxy War in Yemen Escalates

Many countries evacuate nationals while airstrikes and arms drops fail to halt Houthis

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Syria 360°

Despite the daily airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since March 26, the Ansurallah fighters (Houthis) were able to seize the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden the following week.

Subsequent reports claim that the Houthis occupying the presidential palace were forced to retreat by military forces still loyal to the ousted leader. Saudi bombing of the area and air drops to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi loyalists is designed to halt the advances and consolidation of power by the Shiite Islam movement which is supported politically by Iran.

Casualty figures have increased as fighter jets deployed by Riyadh pound residential sections of cities and villages throughout the Middle Eastern state. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) say that the humanitarian situation is getting worse every day.

ICRC observers are describing horrendous conditions on the ground. Civilian residents are fleeing for shelter further aggravating the overall social and economic crisis inside the country.

Contested neighborhoods and commercial areas in Aden are littered with corpses while the wounded flood into hospitals and clinics. Estimates from Yemeni officials indicate that at least 185 people have been killed in the southern port city while some 1,282 suffered wounds.

These figures have been provided by hospitals in Aden since March 26, according to health department director Al-Kheder Lassouar. These numbers constitute non-combatants and do not account for Houthis and loyalist forces who are also victims of the aerial bombardments and gunshot injuries.

Overall in various regions of the country the casualties are much higher. In addition to the struggle between the Houthis and Hadi supporters, reports indicate that Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (IS) have entered the fray seeking to carve out territory for the further expansion of their influence.

Since March 26, clashes across Yemen have resulted in more than 500 deaths and approximately 1,700 injuries, United Nations humanitarian administrator Valerie Amos has indicated. Robert Mardini, who is the director of operations for the ICRC in the Middle East, said: “Our relief supplies and surgical personnel must be allowed to enter the country and safely reach the worst-affected places to provide help.” (BBC, April 5)

Mardina stressed that “Otherwise, put starkly, many more people will die. For the wounded, their chances of survival depend on action within hours, not days.”

ICRC officials reported on April 6 that they were able to enter Aden to provide some water, food and medical supplies.

Washington Facing Severe Criticism in Handling Crisis

The United States administration of President Barack Obama has said very little about the current situation in Yemen. 100 Special Forces along with diplomatic personnel were evacuated weeks ago.

Yemen was being championed as a so-called “counter-terrorism success story” just several months ago. The Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) airstrikes and drone attacks have killed many targeted Islamic leaders also resulting in many deaths among civilians who happened to be in the vicinity of these aerial assaults ordered by Washington.

The ascendancy to power of the ousted President Hadi was the result of the direct intervention by Washington in 2011-2012 which sought to manage the transition from the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Nonetheless, in the current struggle, forces allied with Saleh have joined with the Houthis in opposition to the Saudi air strikes and the monarchy’s interference in the internal affairs of the country.

Yemenis who hold U.S. passports have bitterly complained about their abandonment amid the escalation of fighting. They point to the fact that states with less influence and military prowess than the U.S., such as China, Pakistan, India and UN staff, have evacuated their personnel and nationals while the Obama administration is continuing to say that the situation is far too dangerous for an intervention aimed at bringing out the remaining U.S. citizens.

The International Business Times reported that “Muslim and Asian-American advocacy organizations Sunday (April 5) stepped up calls for the U.S. government to evacuate American citizens from Yemen, following the death of American citizen Jamal al-Labani in the Middle Eastern country Tuesday. Al-Labani, a 45-year-old California man, is believed to have been the first American citizen killed in Yemen as attacks and airstrikes have been launched in the Middle Eastern state. (April 5)

This same article goes on to point out that “A coalition of groups launched StuckInYemen.com, a website for other Yemeni-Americans stranded in the country to lodge complaints and make pleas for assistance from Washington. The website was created by the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus following al-Labani’s death.”

The U.S. administration at present has its hands full in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan where wars of regime-change and purported “democracy building” have gone awry. In Libya four years ago (2011), the Obama administration initiated the destabilization and massive bombing of the North African state displacing the formerly existing Jamahiriya political system led by Col. Muammar Gaddafi, destroying national institutions and prompting dislocation and economic decline.

Today Libya is a source of instability throughout the region. Deliberations have been underway by European Union (EU) states over whether to deploy a multi-national ground force into Libya in an attempt to “restore stability.”

However, during early April, rebel forces now recognized by imperialism as the legitimate regime have opposed such a move perhaps learning from the disaster engendered by the 2011 Pentagon-NATO war against the country which has effectively paralyzed the oil industry and prompted lawlessness across the nation and in neighboring states.

Corporate media reports note that counter-attacks by forces loyal to the Saudi-backed ousted Hadi regime were bolstered by arms drops from Riyahd. Nevertheless, they do not acknowledge that Yemen is the most recent battleground of the U.S. and its allied monarchies in the Persian Gulf aimed at curtailing Iranian influence in the region.

Most of the weapons including fighter aircraft utilized by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) come from the U.S. and other EU member states. Washington and Wall Street are concerned about increasing instability and the political independence exerted by the Ansurallah movement in Yemen.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula but it borders wealthier oil-rich states in the Persian Gulf. The waterways surrounding Yemen including the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have strategic significance for the U.S. in regard to commercial shipping as well as imperialist military dominance.

Developments in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya illustrate clearly that there is no such thing as a humanitarian imperialist intervention. Conditions in all of these states have worsened as a result of the so-called “war on terrorism” and putative efforts to “build democracies” in Africa and the Middle East.

Although majority Democratic Party congresses elected in 2006 and 2008, along with the administration of Obama which won office initially in 2008, were sent to Washington with a mandate to end wars of aggression and to work towards a sustainable economic revitalization inside the U.S., they have failed to do so and reveal in stark terms the imperialist character of both dominant parties. Consequently, in the elections of 2010, 2012 and 2014, the electoral base of the Democratic Party among the working class and national oppressed expressed their opposition to these failed promises by staying away from the polls outside the re-election of Obama in 2012.

As the people of the Middle East and Africa must rebuild their societies, national and regional institutions independent of imperialism, the working class and the oppressed inside the U.S. have no alternative than to break with the Democrats and construct a party that is controlled by them and based upon their political and class interests. The winding down of the Obama administration absent of an effective alternative for the masses, opens up the potential for an even more right-wing assault both domestically and internationally after the national elections of 2016.

US fights ISIS…while aiding ISIS

By Eric Draitser
An explosion following an air strike is seen in western Kobani neighbourhood (Reuters / Osman Orsal)
As the war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) rages on, the US has stepped up its air campaign, combining destructive bombs with anti-ISIS leaflets.

But while US propaganda efforts are ostensibly aimed at disrupting ISIS recruitment, overall US involvement has yielded mixed results at best.

On the one hand, Washington is engaging in a psychological campaign designed to dissuade potential ISIS fighters from joining up, with leaflets depicting grisly images of young men being sent into a meat grinder. On the other hand however, the US continues to exacerbate the situation in both Iraq and Syria by providing material support, both directly and indirectly, to the very groups whom they claim to be fighting.

While the US seems to be engaged in a psychological war against ISIS, it is equally involved in a systematic campaign of sabotage against those forces that are actually fighting ISIS on the ground. And so, as it often does, Washington is playing both sides of the conflict in order to achieve an outcome to its own political advantage, and to the detriment of Syria, Iran, and other interested parties.

The US psychological war against ISIS

Since the emergence of ISIS on the world stage, much has been made of the organization’s ability to recruit fighters, produce propaganda, and effectively get its message across to the young Muslims around the world. There have been countless news stories of Muslim youths from the West eagerly joining up to fight in far flung war zones like Syria and Iraq, seemingly translating their disaffection with their own lives into an ideological identification with ISIS extremism.

But beneath the surface of such ideological explanations is the fact, publicly acknowledged by many counter-terrorism experts, that ISIS propaganda, coupled with the financial benefits the organization offers, is responsible for some of the allure of joining the fight. And so, the US has launched a full scale psychological war for the “hearts and minds” of these naïve youths and poverty-stricken potential fighters.

The Pentagon confirmed that they had dropped tens of thousands of leaflets on the Syrian city of Raqqa in an attempt to dissuade potential recruits from joining ISIS. While this may seem a relatively harmless exercise in counter-propaganda, the reality is that it is at best a poorly conceived, and at worst utterly disingenuous, attempt to counteract ISIS recruitment. Were the US serious about eradicating the cancer of ISIS in Syria, US military officials would be coordinating with their Syrian counterparts in a comprehensive attempt to destroy the organization. For while the US Air Force drops leaflets, the Syrian Arab Army has been fighting ISIS on the ground for nearly three years, paying a very high price in blood to protect its country from the internationally constituted terror organization.

US military planners understand perfectly that it is the Syrian military, not slick propaganda leaflets, which will carry the day in the war against ISIS in Syria. While perhaps useful for the public relations campaign back home, such leaflets will do little to change the tactical or strategic situation on the ground. The same goes for the recently announced expansion of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, the State Department’s attempt at “counter-messaging” ISIS propaganda on social media and in cyberspace generally.

But, while the US presents itself as pursuing a comprehensive psychological war against ISIS, its military and covert actions tell a far different story.

Fighting ISIS by arming them?

The media has been abuzz in recent months with numerous accounts of US weapons and other supplies falling directly into the hands of ISIS, providing the terror group with invaluable material support at a time when it had suffered heavy losses in both Syria and Iraq. As Naeem al-Uboudi, the spokesman for one of the main groups fighting ISIS in Tikrit told the NY Times, “We don’t trust the American-led coalition in combating ISIS… In the past, they have targeted our security forces and dropped aid to ISIS by mistake.”

Indeed, these allegations are supported dozens of accounts of airdropped US weapons being seized by ISIS. As Iraqi MP Majid al-Ghraoui noted in January, “The information that has reached us in the security and defense committee indicates that an American aircraft dropped a load of weapons and equipment to the ISIS group militants at the area of al-Dour in the province of Salahuddin… This incident is continuously happening and has also occurred in some other regions.”

Whether these incidents are simply honest mistakes by the vaunted US military with all its precision bombing capabilities, or they are indications of a more callous attempt to inflict casualties on all sides and prolong the regional war, either way they represent an abject failure of the US strategy against ISIS. But of course, the US policy failure goes much further than just mistakes on the battlefield. Rather, the entire policy of arming so-called “moderates” in Syria has led directly to the growth of ISIS into a regional power.

Since 2012, the US, primarily through the CIA, has been providing weapons and training to terrorists in Syria under the guise of arming “moderates.” Many of these allegedly moderate groups have in recent months been documented as having either disbanded or defected to ISIS, including the little publicized mass defections of former Free Syrian Army fighters. However it has happened, a vast arsenal of US-supplied weapons and other military hardware are now counted among the ISIS arsenal. So much for the US policy of ensuring the weapons don’t “fall into the wrong hands.”

So, while the US has proclaimed to be fighting ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front, they have been simultaneously arming and supporting many of the same forces which now make up much of the rank-and-file of these terror groups. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Washington: Peace broker or arms dealer?

Those who follow US foreign policy are likely unsurprised by these revelations of Washington providing arms and intensifying an already dangerous conflict. In Syria, the US has consistently argued that the Syrian government cannot be seen as a partner for peace, and so they must provide weapons to “moderates.” In Ukraine, where the US has a compliant and servile government that executes its diktats, Washington still supplies the arms, talking of peace and stability while exacerbating the war and human tragedy in East Ukraine.

Last week, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed (348-48) a resolution to provide military support in the form of weapons to Ukraine. As Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee stated, “The people of Ukraine are not looking for American troops. They are just looking for the weapons to defend themselves. They don’t have those weapons. We do.”

Indeed, it seems that US policy is to pursue “peace” at the barrel of a US-made, US-supplied gun. As Secretary of State John Kerry explained in his usual self-contradictory manner “To get peace, you have to defend your country,” a devilishly cynical statement from the man who, entirely without irony, explained in 2014 that “you don’t just invade another country on a phony pretext in order to assert your interests.” Perhaps, rather than invading countries, the Obama administration has decided to simply provide the weapons, training, and logistical and material support in order to assert its own interests.

While Syria and Iraq face an existential struggle against the wildfire that is the Islamic State, the United States arrives, gas can in hand, to make peace. As Ukraine slides deeper into civil war, the US provides all the ingredients for a witches’ brew of violence and bloodshed.

For all its talk of psychological war against ISIS, Washington has embraced an aggressive, multi-pronged approach that leaves little doubt as to the thinking of its strategic planners: the enemy of my enemy is both friend and enemy. As Tacitus famously said of the Romans, “They make a desert and call it peace.” So too do the Americans in the blood-soaked deserts of Syria and Iraq.

Canadian parliament approves military mission in Syria

Canadian CF-18 fighter jets (file photo)
Press TV

Canada’s parliament has approved to expand the country’s current military mission in Iraq to target Takfiri ISIL terrorists in neighboring Syria.

The motion, ratified by 142 to 129 votes on Monday night, also extended the Iraq mission – which was due to expire on April 7 this year – until March 30, 2016.

The measure, which allows Canadian fighter jets to enter Syria and strike ISIL targets, is neither authorized by the United Nations, nor a NATO mission.

Canada will be the second NATO member state, after the United States, to carry out airstrikes in Syria along with non-NATO members Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking in the parliament on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the move, saying, “We cannot stand on the sidelines while ISIL continues to promote terrorism in Canada as well as against our allies and partners, nor can we allow ISIL to have a safe haven in Syria.”

“As a result of ISIL’s specific threats against Canada and Canadians, our government has worked closely for the past six months as part of a broad international coalition, including our closest allies, to help degrade and disrupt ISIL’s ability to inflict harm,” Harper claimed.

This is while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has recently slammed the so-called US-led coalition purportedly targeting ISIL.

“It is possible that some of these countries don’t want ISIL expansion in Syria and Iraq, but they apparently don’t want to do away with the ISIL. They want to use this terrorist structure for threatening and blackmailing other countries,” Interfax news agency quoted Assad as saying on Thursday.

Noting that a “serious anti-terrorist operation” has not started yet, Assad said, “In terms of politics, an anti-terrorist coalition cannot consist of the countries that support terrorism.”

Since September 2014, the US along with its regional allies has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be ISIL positions inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. This is while many of the countries joining the so-called anti-terror coalition, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been the staunch supporters of the Takfiri elements fighting the Syrian government.

The airstrikes by the US and its allies are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against purported ISIL positions in Iraq, which started in August 2014.

The ISIL terrorists currently control swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have committed terrible atrocities in both countries, including mass executions and beheading of local residents as well as foreign nationals.

MSM/HJL/HMV

Saudi-Led Airstrikes Destroy Scud Missile Facility in Sanaa, Yemen

Sputnik – Middle East

Bombing in Sanaa

Saudi-led airstrikes continue to bombard the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, continuing into Monday night.

Since last Thursday, the bombings have been targeting Houthi rebels and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

According to local residents speaking to Reuters, the airstrikes have largely targeted the area around the presidential palace. Figures released by Yemen’s health ministry — which is currently Houthi controlled — said 35 people had been killed over the weekend, with another 88 injured.

Bombing caused a large explosion at a Scud Missile Facility in the capital. According to Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed, all known Scud missile launch pads have been “devastated” by the bombing campaign.

All Yemeni fighter jets have been destroyed in the strikes, and Shia rebels have been forced from government airbases.

Despite the bombing campaign, Houthi fighters have continued to make gains. Though it has yet to make a decision, the Saudi Arabian government is considering sending ground troops into Yemen.
“I don’t know that anyone wants to go into Yemen but we don’t rule anything out. Right now the objective is being achieved through an air campaign,” Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir told NBC, according to Al Arabiya.

According to a statement by the Arab League on Sunday, Saudi-led bombings will continue until Shia insurgents “withdraw and surrender their weapons.”The Saudi navy has also announced that it’s control of all Yemeni ports.

Saudi Warplanes Massacre Civilians As Yemeni Army, Committees Advance

Local Editor
YemenThe Saudi-led aggression on Yemen continued on Monday as the airstrikes targeted al-Mozraq camp, killing and injuring of civilians.

45 martyrs, including women and children, were claimed by the air raid on the camp which lies in Hija province.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni army and the Public Committees and advanced in the provinces of Lahj and Abyan.

Al-Qaeda terrorists collapsed in Aden as Yemeni army and the Public Committees controlled the city’s airport.

Saudi-Led Aggression on Yemen Commits Atrocities
Local Editor
Saudi Terrorism in YemenFootage broadcast by Al-Manar TV channel showed how the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen targets the civilians and the residential areas, committing massacres.

Dozens have been killed or injured of Yemenis since a coalition of 10 countries, led by Saudi Arabia, launched late Wednesday a wide military offensive on Yemen, causing also so much destruction.

Media outlets reported that Saudi Arabia has deployed “100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and other navy units” for the military campaign against Yemen. It also sent 5000 takfiri terrorists to fight against the Yemeni army.

Saudi Arabia is known for training and funding takfiri groups and sending them to the conflict-hit zones in the Arab and Muslim world, including Syria, Afghanistan and now in Yemen.

Source: Al Manar TV

30-03-2015 –

President Assad: Number of ISIL Militants Rising Amid Coalition Airstrikes

Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the airstrikes conducted by the US-led international coalition against ISIL extremists in Iraq and Syria are ineffective, as the militant group has been recruiting more members since the start of anti-ISIL coalition efforts.

Fighters from the Islamic State group parade in Raqqa

MOSCOW  (Sputnik) – The airstrikes conducted by the US-led international coalition against Islamic State (ISIL) extremists in Iraq and Syria are ineffective, as the militant group has been recruiting more members since the start of anti-ISIL coalition efforts, Syrian President Bashar Assad told CBS.

“Sometimes you could have local benefit but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes,” Assad said in the CBS interview, which aired on Sunday.

According to the Syrian president, Americans are trying to “sugar coat the situation” by saying that things are getting better in Syria and Iraq as a result of coalition airstrikes, when in reality ISIL has been recruiting more and more people in its ranks.

“Some estimates that they have 1,000 recruits every month in Syria. And Iraq — they are expanding in Libya and many other al Qaeda affiliate organizations have announced their allegiance to ISIS,” Assad said.

US President Barack Obama formed an international anti-ISIL coalition in September, 2014. The coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against the extremists in Syria and has continued the strikes that the United States launched against ISIL positions in Iraq in August.

Obama has also promised to help train and arm Kurds, Iraqis and “moderate” Syrian opposition who are fighting against ISIL on the ground, but US involvement in ground military operations against the Sunni radicals has not been authorized.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is a jihadist group notorious for its human rights abuses, including multiple kidnappings and killings. In 2014, it took vast territories in Iraq and Syria under control, declaring the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and forcing thousands of people, particularly religious minorities, to flee.

ISIL affiliates also operate in North Africa, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Middle East

The Geopolitics Behind the War in Yemen

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

PART I

YEMEN
The United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia became very uneasy when the Yemenese or Yemenite movement of the Houthi or Ansarallah (meaning the supporters of God in Arabic) gained control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa/Sana, in September 2014. The US-supported Yemenite President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi was humiliatingly forced to share power with the Houthis and the coalition of northern Yemenese tribes that had helped them enter Sana. Al-Hadi declared that negotiations for a Yemeni national unity government would take place and his allies the US and Saudi Arabia tried to use a new national dialogue and mediated talks to co-opt and pacify the Houthis.

The truth has been turned on its head about the war in Yemen. The war and ousting of President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi in Yemen are not the results of «Houthi coup» in Yemen. It is the opposite. Al-Hadi was ousted, because with Saudi and US support he tried to backtrack on the power sharing agreements he had made and return Yemen to authoritarian rule. The ousting of President Al-Hadi by the Houthis and their political allies was an unexpected reaction to the takeover Al-Hadi was planning with Washington and the House of Saudi.

The Houthis and their allies represent a diverse cross-section of Yemeni society and the majority of Yemenites. The Houthi movement’s domestic alliance against Al-Hadi includes Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims alike. The US and House of Saud never thought that they Houthis would assert themselves by removing Al-Hadi from power, but this reaction had been a decade in the making. With the House of Saud, Al-Hadi had been involved in the persecution of the Houthis and the manipulation of tribal politics in Yemen even before he became president. When he became Yemeni president he dragged his feet and was working against the implement the arrangements that had been arranged through consensus and negotiations in Yemen’s National Dialogue, which convened after Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to hand over his powers in 2011.

Coup or Counter-Coup: What Happened in Yemen?

At first, when they took over Sana in late-2014, the Houthis rejected Al-Hadi’s proposals and his new offers for a formal power sharing agreement, calling him a morally bankrupt figure that had actually been reneging previous promises of sharing political power. At that point, President Al-Hadi’s pandering to Washington and the House of Saud had made him deeply unpopular in Yemen with the majority of the population. Two months later, on November 8, President Al-Hadi’s own party, the Yemenite General People’s Congress, would eject Al-Hadi as its leader too.

The Houthis eventually detained President Al-Hadi and seized the presidential palace and other Yemeni government buildings on January 20. With popular support, a little over two weeks later, the Houthis formally formed a Yemense transitional government on February 6. Al-Hadi was forced to resign. The Houthis declared that Al-Hadi, the US, and Saudi Arabia were planning on devastating Yemen on February 26.

Al-Hadi’s resignation was a setback for US foreign policy. It resulted in a military and operational retreat for the CIA and the Pentagon, which were forced to remove US military personnel and intelligence operatives from Yemen. The Los Angeles Times reported on March 25, citing US officials, that the Houthis had got their hands on numerous secret documents when the seized the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was working closely with the CIA, that compromised Washington’s operations in Yemen.

Al-Hadi fled the Yemeni capital Sana to Aden n February 21 and declared it the temporary capital of Yemen on March 7. The US, France, Turkey, and their Western European allies closed their embassies. Soon afterwards, in what was probably a coordinated move with the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates all relocated the embassies to Aden from Sana. Al-Hadi rescinded his letter of resignation as president and declared that he was forming a government-in-exile.

The Houthis and their political allies refused to fall into line with the demands of the US and Saudi Arabia, which were being articulated through Al-Hadi in Aden and by an increasingly hysteric Riyadh. As a result, Al-Hadi’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yaseen, called for Saudi Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikdoms to militarily intervene to prevent the Houthis from getting control of Yemen’s airspace on March 23. Yaseen told the Saudi mouthpiece Al-Sharg Al-Awsa that a bombing campaign was needed and that a no-fly zone had to be imposed over Yemen.

The Houthis realized that a military struggle was going to begin. This is why the Houthis and their allies in the Yemenite military rushed to control as many Yemeni military airfields and airbases, such as Al-Anad, as quickly as possible. They rushed to neutralize Al-Hadi and entered Aden on March 25.

By the time the Houthis and their allies entered Aden, Al-Hadi had fled the Yemeni port city. Al-Hadi would resurface in Saudi Arabia when the House of Saud started attacking Yemen on March 26. From Saudi Arabia, Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi would then fly to Egypt for a meeting of the Arab League to legitimize the war on Yemen.

Yemen and the Changing Strategic Equation in the Middle East

The Houthi takeover of Sana took place in the same timeframe as a series of success or regional victories for Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and the Resistance Bloc that they and other local actors form collectively. In Syria, the Syrian government managed to entrench its position while in Iraq the ISIL/ISIS/Daesh movement was being pushed back by Iraq with the noticeable help of Iran and local Iraqi militias allied to Tehran.

The strategic equation in the Middle East began to shift as it became clear that Iran was becoming central to its security architecture and stability. The House of Saud and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began to whimper and complain that Iran was in control of four regional capitals—Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Sana – and that something had to be done to stop Iranian expansion. As a result of the new strategic equation, the Israelis and the House of Saud became perfectly strategically aligned with the objective of neutralizing Iran and its regional allies. «When the Israelis and Arabs are on the same page, people should pay attention», Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer told Fox News about the alignment of Israel and Saudi Arabia on March 5.

The Israeli and Saudi fear mongering has not worked. According to Gallup poll, only 9% of US citizens viewed Iran as a greatest enemy of the US at the time that Netanyahu arrived t Washington to speak against a deal between the US and Iran.Shi'ite Muslim rebels hold up their weapons during a rally against air strikes in Sanaa

The Geo-Strategic Objectives of the US and Saudis Behind the War in Yemen

While the House of Saudi has long considered Yemen a subordinate province of some sorts and as a part of Riyadh’s sphere of influence, the US wants to make sure that it could control the Bab Al-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands. The Bab Al-Mandeb it is an important strategic chokepoint for international maritime trade and energy shipments that connects the Persian Gulf via the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea via the Red Sea. It is just as important as the Suez Canal for the maritime shipping lanes and trade between Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Israel was also concerned, because control of Yemen could cut off Israel’s access to Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and prevent its submarines from easily deploying to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran. This is why control of Yemen was actually one of Netanyahu’s talking points on Capitol Hill when he spoke to the US Congress about Iran on March 3 in what the New York Times of all publications billed as «Mr. Netanyahu’s Unconvincing Speech to Congress» on March 4.

Saudi Arabia was visibly afraid that Yemen could become formally align to Iran and that the evens there could result in new rebellions in the Arabian Peninsula against the House of Saud. The US was just as much concerned about this too, but was also thinking in terms of global rivalries. Preventing Iran, Russia, or China from having a strategic foothold in Yemen, as a means of preventing other powers from overlooking the Gulf of Aden and positioning themselves at the Bab Al-Mandeb, was a major US concern.

Added to the geopolitical importance of Yemen in overseeing strategic maritime corridors is its military’s missile arsenal. Yemen’s missiles could hit any ships in the Gulf of Aden or Bab Al-Mandeb. In this regard, the Saudi attack on Yemen’s strategic missile depots serves both US and Israeli interests. The aim is not only to prevent them from being used to retaliate against exertions of Saudi military force, but to also prevent them from being available to a Yemeni government aligned to either Iran, Russia, or China.

In a public position that totally contradicts Riyadh’s Syria policy, the Saudis threatened to take military action if the Houthis and their political allies did not negotiate with Al-Hadi. As a result of the Saudi threats, protests erupted across Yemen against the House of Saud on March 25. Thus, the wheels were set in motion for another Middle Eastern war as the US, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait began to prepare to reinstall Al-Hadi.

The Saudi March to War in Yemen and a New Front against Iran

For all the talk about Saudi Arabia as a regional power, it is too weak to confront Iran alone. The House of Saud’s strategy has been to erect or reinforce a regional alliance system for a drawn confrontation with Iran and the Resistance Bloc. In this regard Saudi Arabia needs Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan —a misnamed so-called «Sunni» alliance or axis — to help it confront Iran and its regional allies.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE’s military, would visit Morocco to talk about a collective military response to Yemen by the Arab petro-sheikhdoms, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt on March 17. On March 21, Mohammed bin Zayed met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to discuss a military response to Yemen. This was while Al-Hadi was calling for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to help him by militarily intervening in Yemen. The meetings were followed by talk about a new regional security pact for the Arab petro-sheikdoms.

Out of the GCC’s five members, the Sultanate of Oman stayed away. Oman refused to join the war on Yemen. Muscat has friendly relations with Tehran. Moreover, the Omanis are weary of the Saudi and GCC project to use sectarianism to ignite confrontation with Iran and its allies. The majority of Omanis are neither Sunni Muslims nor Shiite Muslims; they are Ibadi Muslims, and they fear the fanning of sectarian sedition by the House of Saud and the other Arab petro-sheikdoms.

Saudi propagandists went into over drive falsely claiming that the war was a response to Iranian encroachment on the borders of Saudi Arabia. Turkey would announce its support for the war in Yemen. On the day the war was launched, Turkey’s Erdogan claimed that Iran was trying to dominate the region and that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the GCC were getting annoyed.

During these events, Egypt’s Sisi stated that the security of Cairo and the security of Saudi Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms are one. In fact, Egypt said that it would not get involved in a war in Yemen on March 25, but the next day Cairo joined Saudi Arabia in Riyadh’s attack on Yemen by sending its jets and ships to Yemen.

In the same vein, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif released a statement on March 26 that any threat to Saudi Arabia would «evoke a strong response» from Pakistan. The message was tacitly directed towards Iran.

The US and Israeli Roles in the War in Yemen

On March 27, it was announced in Yemen that Israel was helping Saudi Arabia attack the Arab country. «This is the first time that the Zionists [Israelis] are conducting a joint operation in collaborations with Arabs,» Hassan Zayd, the head of Yemen’s Al-Haq Party, wrote on the internet to point out the convergence of interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Israeli-Saudi alliance over Yemen, however, is not new. The Israelis helped the House of Saud during the North Yemen Civil War that started in 1962 by providing Saudi Arabia with weapons to help the royalists against the republicans in North Yemen.

The US is also involved and leading from behind or a distance. While it works to strike a deal with Iran, it also wants to maintain an alliance against Tehran using the Saudis. The Pentagon would provide what it called «intelligence and logistical support» to House of Saud. Make no mistakes about it: the war on Yemen is also Washington’s war. The GCC has been on Yemen unleashed by the US.

There has long been talk about the formation of a pan-Arab military force, but proposals for creating it were renewed on March 9 by the rubberstamp Arab League. The proposals for a united Arab military serve US, Israeli, and Saudi interests. Talk about a pan-Arab military has been motivated by their preparations to attack Yemen to return Al-Hadi and to regionally confront Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Resistance Bloc.

PART II

«Battle lines are being drawn in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and the Middle East’s latest candidate for state failure. If, as looks increasingly probable, open warfare breaks out soon, it will only be made worse by the contest for regional supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both powers have proven eager to arm groups they believe they can control, despite the legacy this destructive rivalry has already wrought in Syria and Iraq», the magazine Foreign Policy claimed on March 6.

The Houthi Alliance with Iran: Pragmatism or Sectarianism?

The Houthis are not Iranian proxies whatsoever. The Houthi movement is an independent political actor that emerged as a result of repression. To call the Houthis Iranian proxies is unempirical and ignores the history and politics of Yemen. «If a war breaks out along sectarian lines, it will not be because that is where historical divisions have lain in Yemen; it will be because the war’s foreign funders are inflaming previously unimportant divisions», Foreign Policy even admits.

Houthi leaders have admittedly rejected claims that they take orders from Tehran. This has not stopped Saudi and Khaliji (Gulf) officials and media have used and manipulated the statements of Iranian officials, like the comparison of the Houthis to Iran’s Basij, to portray the Houthis as Iranian agents or clients.

Just like how the Houthis are not Iranian proxies, there is no Shia alliance between Tehran and them in Yemen either. Talk that focuses on this simplistic sectarian narrative hides the political nature and motivations of the conflict in Yemen and insultingly obfuscated the struggle of the Houthis against repression. Until the 1970s the House of Saud had actually been a major supporter of the royalist factions in Yemen, which were predominately Shiite Muslims.

Moreover, the Shiite Muslims in Yemen are not Jaffaris (Twelvers) like the majority of Shia Muslims in Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf region. Aside from pockets of Ismaili Shiites – which can arguably be called Seveners – in the governorates of Saada, Hajja, Amran, Al-Mahwit, Sana, Ibb, and Al-Jawf most the Shia Muslims in Yemen are Zaidis/Zaydis. The Ismailis in Yemen are mostly members of the Dawoodi (Davidian) and Sulaimani (Solomonian) sects of Mustali Ismailism that moved away from the larger Nizari Ismailis.

The US and Saudi hostility towards the Houthi movement is what has inadvertently made the Houthis pragmatically turn to Iran for help as a counterbalance. In the words of the Wall Street journal, «Houthi militants controlling Yemen’s capital are trying to build ties with Iran, Russia and China to offset Western and Saudi support for the country’s ousted president.» «The Houthis’ interim government has sent delegations to Iran in search of fuel supplies and to Russia to look for investment in energy projects, according to two senior Houthi officials. Another delegation is planning to visit China in the coming weeks, they said», the Wall Street journal also reported on March 6.

As a result of the Houthi movement’s reaching out, Iran and Yemen announced that daily flights would take place between Tehran and Sana on March 2. This is an important lifeline of support for the Houthi movement.

The Sectarian Narrative and Sectarian Card

The instability in Yemen is being caused not by Iran or the Houthis, but by US and Saudi interference in Yemen — from Saudi Arabia’s 2009 invasion to US drone attacks — and the decades of support that Saudi Arabia has provided for authoritarian and unpopular rule in Yemen.

Yemen is not an inherently divided country. Aside from the nurturing of Al-Qaeda by Saudi Arabia and the US, there is no real Shia-Sunni split or tensions. To pre-empt Yemen from being independent, the Saudis and US have supported sectarianism with the hope of creating a Shia-Sunni divide in Yemen.

Unlike the false narrative, Iran’s alliances in the Middle East are actually not sectarian. All of Tehran’s Palestinian allies are predominately Sunni Muslims while in Iraq and Syria, aside from the governments, Iran supports a cross-section of ethnic and faith groups that include non-Arabs and Christians. This includes the predominately Sunni Muslim Syrian and Iraqi Kurds and the Assyrian Sutoro wing of the Syriac Union Party (SUP) in Syria. In Lebanon, aside from Hezbollah, the Iranians are also allied to Sunni Muslim, Druze, and Christian parties, including Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement—which is the largest Christian party in Lebanon.

If anyone is engaged in sectarianism as a policy, it is the US and its Arab petro-sheikdom allies. Both the US and Saudi Arabia had engaged the Houthis earlier and used them against the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen. Additionally, during the Cold War both Washington and the House of Saud tried to use the Yemeni Shiites against the republicans in North Yemen and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south. It is when the Houthi movement demonstrated that it was not going to be a client to Washington or Riyadh, that the US ad Saudi Arabia became hostile towards it.

Preparing the Invasion of Yemen

On 20 March, suicide bombers attacked the Al-Badr and Al-Hashoosh mosques during asr salat (afternoon prayers). Over three hundred people were killed. Abdul Malik al-Houthi accused the US and Israel of supporting the terrorist attacks and both the ISIL/ISIS/Daesh and Al-Qaeda in Yemen. Saudi Arabia was also blamed.

While there was silence in Morocco, Jordan, and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham condemned the terrorist attacks in Yemen. In one way or another, Syria, Iraq, Russia, and China all condemned the terrorist attacks in Yemen too. To show Tehran’s support for Yemen, two Iranian cargo plans with humanitarian aid were sent to Yemen and the Iranian Red Crescent Society flew over fifty Yemenis victims of the terrorist attacks to hospitals inside Iran for medical treatment.

The House of Saud’s Failure in Yemen

The Houthis movement is the result of Saudi Arabia’s policies in Yemen and its support for authoritarian rule. In this regard, the Houthis are a reaction to Saudi brutality and the House of Saud’s support for Yemeni authoritarianism. They emerged as part of a rebellion that was led by Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi in 2004 against the Yemenite government.

The Yemeni and Saudi regimes falsely claimed that the Houthis wanted to establish a Zaidi imamate in Arabia as a means of demonizing the movement. This, however, failed to stop them from getting stronger. The Yemeni military would not be able to handle them in 2009, which resulted in a Saudi intervention called Operation Scorched Earth being launched on August 11, 2009.

Saudi Arabia failed to defeat the Houthis when it sent its military into Yemen to fight them in 2009 and 2010. It has failed to force Yemen and the Houthi movement to kneel in obedience. When it demanded that the Houthis and Yemeni transitional government play to the Saudi tune and go to Riyadh for negotiations, it was flatly rejected by the Houthis and Yemen’s Revolutionary Committees, because the negotiations and any Saudi-supported power sharing scheme would really sideline the Houthis and other political forces in Yemen. This is why the Popular Forces Union, Al-Hadi’s own General People’s Congress, and the Baath Party of Yemen have all supported the Houthi position against Saudi Arabia.

Dividing Yemen?

Yemen has seen numerous insurrections, military intervention by the US and Saudi Arabia, and a separatist movement strengthen in its southern governorates. Yemen’s military has become fragmented and tribal tensions exist. There has been increasing talk about it becoming an Arab failed state.

In 2013, the New York Times proposed that Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen be split. In the case of Yemen, the proposition was that it divided into two again. The New York Times said that this could or would happen following a potential referendum in the southern governorates. The New York Times also proposed that «all or part of South Yemen could then become part of Saudi Arabia. Nearly all Saudi commerce is via sea, and direct access to the Arabian Sea would diminish dependence on the Persian Gulf — and fears of Iran’s ability to cut off the Strait of Hormuz».

Saudi Arabia and Al-Hadi are now courting the southern separatists in Yemen, which have the support of about one-tenth of the population. The next option for the US and Saudi Arabia may be to divide Yemen as a means of mitigating the strategic shift from a Houthi victory. This would ensure that Saudi Arabia and the GCC have a southern transit point to the Indian Ocean and that the US would maintain a foothold in the Gulf of Aden.


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