The Growing Danger Of The “Islamic State”

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New Eastern Outlook
by Vladimir Mashin

IS34234234Every day frightening reports unexpectedly emerge on the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) terrorist group, who seems to be really gaining momentum, as if they feel invulnerable and act with impunity. An example of one of the unpredictable reports on ISIS: its leaders have turned to “their brothers living in America” calling for the targeted killing of US military troops that must be punished for their participation in military actions against jihadists in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. A list with 100 names and addresses of potential victims was posted on the group’s Internet site on March 22.

The so-called “hacking division” of ISIS claims that they obtained the data on military personnel by hacking US military data servers. According to the “New York Times” newspaper the Pentagon and Washington confirmed that an investigation into the site is being carried out.

A few days earlier, the EU counter-terrorism coordinators warned that “Al-Qaeda” and the “Islamic State” were planning terrorist attacks in Europe according to available data.

The fact that ISIS militants are expanding the zone of their operations is eliciting the utmost concern. They are already present in not only Syria, Iraq but in Afghanistan, Yemen, other Arab and African countries and their operations are characterized by extreme brutality that have claimed masses of victims. (Even in the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina black flags of the Islamic State have started appearing).

In Tunisia (in the Bardo museum), 20 people died as a result of the attacks on tourists and in Yemen more than 150 people perished during the terrorist bombings in mosques during Friday prayer.

What is especially alarming in these events is the fact that these barbaric acts are sometimes met with marginal approval from the Arab population, especially when the acts are directed at Western citizens: for example, leaflets and graffiti are appearing in support of ISIS.

According to Western agencies, groups of recruits from different European and Arab countries continually join the ranks of ISIS. Just recently 7,000 people from Tunisia and 2,000 from Jordan joined the ranks of their militants. The Uzbekistan special services believe that 5,000 members of the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan” have sided with ISIS. According to the independent NGO “International Crisis Group” the people amongst them are from different social strata: very young hairdressers, successful businessmen, migrant workers without work, students, not only expelled for poor academic performance but altogether promising.

It seems obvious that the rise in activity of Islamic extremist groups should cause alarm in the governing bodies of European Union countries whose citizens are in the sights of ISIS militants. But it is rather as if many Western leaders don’t see, nor understand the dangers and tragedy of this situation and incessantly repeat that the main threat to Europe is not ISIS at all but Russia, as stated by the Minister of Defense of Great Britain.

A number of American politicians, waving away the dangers of Islamic radicalism, puts Iran on the forefront considering it “a major threat to Iraq, the whole of the Middle East and American interests” as a high-ranking American military said in an interview to The Washington Post newspaper on 21 March of this year for example. The former director of the CIA, former commander of the US Central Command and former commander of US forces in Iraq expressed the same sentiments. “The current Iranian regime is not our ally in the Middle East. It is ultimately part of the problem, not the solution, he said. The more Iran achieves regional hegemony the more it inflames Sunni radicalism, nourishing such organizations as the Islamic State. Although we have common interests in regards to ISIS, globally our interests diverge… Tehran is deeply hostile to us and our friends. The more tangible Iranian domination becomes, the more it sets off reactions that are also harmful to our interests and to Sunni radicalism.”

ISIS keeps the whole world in suspense with its military conquests and inhuman cruelty. At the same time the success of ISIS is largely explained by sophisticated media-strategies. It is founded in the use of political Internet propaganda, spread through online resources, professionally edited video demonstrations, photographic demonstrations from scenes of military operations, publications of messages in different languages on social network sites, blogs, etc.

According to Senior Professor of the Department of World Political Processes MGIMO (University) Elena Zinovyeva, news and announcements of ISIS are diffused through social networks, Twitter and Facebook. Videos are transmitted via Youtube. Furthermore, online services such as Sound Cloud, JustPaste.it, Ask.fm are used. The impact that these communications have on the wider Arab audience, characterized by a high religiousness but with a low level of education and political consciousness, is enormous. Admonishments and appeals of ISIS are listened to by the believing masses, surprisingly a lot of women and entire families: The Islamic state is perceived as a force, preaching and practicing “true Islam” and many young Muslims, feeling doomed and restless in their own society, are ready to join fighters for Faith. They do not stop even with reports of huge casualties among Muslims.

Nevertheless a growing understanding of this obvious truth is growing in Middle East states on how to cope with terrorism, with Islamic extremism (this major threat to international peace and safety), and that it is only possible by the collective efforts and combined actions of all main international players, including Russia and Iran. Some signs of “enlightenment” have appeared recently: for example, the US Secretary of State John Kerry said that it is necessary to maintain contact with the government of Bashar al-Assad. However, to reverse the situation and to really put a decisive barrier in the way of obscurantism, the barbarity of the Islamic State and terrorism in general, the leaders of Western countries need to introduce radical adjustments to their valuation of a real situation and accordingly, to its specific practical political actions.

Vladimir Mashin, Ph.D. in History, a political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

New Eastern Outlook

How Cheap Oil Is Reshaping Global Hotspots

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Defense One
by Moisés Naím

oil-refinery
Stacks and burn-off from the Exxon Mobil refinery are seen at dusk in St. Bernard Parish, La., Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. GERALD HERBERT/AP

From Russia to your local gas station, the consequences of low fuel prices are clear. But the second and third order effects are only beginning to become apparent.

What do Russia, Exxon Mobil, and ISIS have in common? Not much, except that they’re all grappling with an inconvenient but incontrovertible truth: a sudden, significant, and prolonged shift in the price of oil changes the world.

That truth was on display in 1974, and it’s on display again now. Over the course of just a few months in 1973-1974, the price of oil surged from $3 to $12 per barrel. The new price created new global economic powers: oil-producing countries primarily in the Middle East and North Africa. It also dealt a severe blow to the economies of the United States, Europe, Japan, and other oil importers. The oil shock altered power relations between the world’s main geopolitical players and created new ones. Higher oil prices had many unexpected consequences—from breeding oil wars to fueling theinternational spread of Islamic fundamentalism thanks to funding from newly super-rich countries like Saudi Arabia. Today’s drop in crude-oil prices, which began in the summer of 2014, may be as disruptive as the quadrupling of oil prices that created the oil shock of 1974.

Some of the effects of this decline in oil prices have been clear and immediate; picture happy Americans at gas stations and frantic government officials in oil-exporting countries forced to cut public budgets and consequently risk social and political turmoil.

In Russia, for instance, the ruble has suffered a steep devaluation, stock-market prices have fallen, the Central Bank’s reserves are shrinking, capital is fleeing the country, export revenues are down, and foreign investment has practically dried up. Russia’s sovereign bonds have been downgraded to junk status by credit-rating agencies. All of this largely stems from contracting oil and gas revenues (which account for 68 percent of Russia’s total export revenues and 50 percent of its federal-budget revenues) and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe as a result of the Kremlin’s behavior toward Ukraine. Some fear that a belligerent Vladimir Putin could stir trouble abroad to distract from the deteriorating economic situation at home.

In Venezuela, the economy was already in shambles when oil was at $120 per barrel, and it’s now spinning out of control as a result of rampant corruption, woeful management, and lower oil prices. President Nicolas Maduro has responded by blaming the dire situation on a U.S.-led international conspiracy and ramping up repression of critics and opposition politicians.

But these direct consequences are having consequences of their own, and these second-order effects are only beginning to become apparent. In December, Chevron canceled a $10billion shale-gas exploration project in Ukraine, which the Ukrainian government was counting on to help stimulate its troubled economy and, eventually, lower its dependence on Russian gas. It’s just one example of a broader, industry-wide trend: scrapping or postponing energy projects that have suddenly become too risky or not economically viable at a lower oil-price level. According to Goldman Sachs, $1 trillion worth of investments in energy projects could now be at risk. In the long run, this may mean less oil production and higher energy prices. But in the short run, the abrupt disappearance of this enormous investment flow is bound to hurt energy companies—and especially their equipment suppliers and the construction and engineering firms that were planning to execute these projects. It will also hurt the cities and regions, from Texas to Lagos, where these companies operate.

Not all of the second-order consequences of lower oil prices are negative. Consider this comment from a recent International Monetary Fund report on Malaysia’s economy:

After raising electricity tariffs in early 2014, [the government] took advantage of lower energy prices in the second half of 2014 to reduce and ultimately remove remaining gasoline and diesel subsidies. … [Subsidy reform should] help broaden the base of [the] federal revenue system and diversify it away from volatile oil and gas revenues. A strengthening of Malaysia’s social safety net is an integral part of the authorities’ fiscal strategy. The removal of subsidies freed up resources that can be redirected to better support poorer households through better targeted cash transfers.

Countries from Oman to Indonesia have undertaken similar campaigns to scale back or  eliminate fuel subsidies. In India, the Modi government cut costly public subsidies of diesel fuel, which were long understood to be counterproductive but were nevertheless politically unpopular to shed. Energy subsidies, which amount to more than $540 billion per year worldwide, are as common as they are damaging to economies, the poor, and the environment, since they stimulate consumption and undermine efforts to save energy and use it more efficiently. According to the World Bank, these subsidies are highly regressive: As much as 60 or even 80 percent of what governments in the Middle East and North Africa spend to subsidize energy benefits the richest 20 percent of the population, with the poor receiving less than 10 percent of these public funds.

Lower oil prices could also reduce incentives to produce the kind of extra-heavy, extra-polluting oil that is found at some of the world’s largest oil reserves, including those in Venezuela’s Orinoco river region. Due to the high production and upgrading costs associated with heavy oil, the development of these reserves is likely to be postponed. The problem is that low oil prices are eroding the economic viability of cleaner energy sources like solar and wind. Optimists hope that plummeting oil-and-gas prices will encourage producers of renewable-energy sources to improve their technologies and production methods, making these sources cheaper and more economically viable. This, in turn, could make renewable energy more commercially attractive once the price of oil rebounds.

Financial markets, too, are being reshaped by the cost of crude. Falling prices can harm the balance sheets of energy companies by driving down the volume of proven reserves that these corporations can count as marketable assets—reserves, mind you, that are one of the main drivers of the market value of these companies. As oil prices drop, the increasing production costs of some oil reservoirs will make these reserves commercially unviable. Such reservoirs will become a new kind of “stranded asset,” a term coined to describe fossil fuels that will not be used as climate-change concerns lead governments to stimulate alternative-energy sources and make the consumption of hydrocarbons more expensive. Upheaval in corporate valuations could lead to a wave of mergers and acquisitions among energy companies, transforming the structure of the industry.

Meanwhile, some of the world’s largest sovereign-wealth funds—or state-owned investment vehicles—belong to oil-and-gas producing countries. The Norwegian fund, for example, owns about 1.3 percent of all global securities. A prolonged depression in oil prices might force Norway to finance its fiscal shortfall with resources from its sovereign fund. This would entail the liquidation of sizable investments, and thus exert downward pressure on global equity markets. In fact, Norway’s $840-billion fund has already set up an expert group to evaluate whether it should stop investing in fossil-fuel companies, in anticipation of hydrocarbon assets losing significant value.

In the geopolitical realm, the relationship between Russia and Europe has already been disrupted, both by low oil prices and the conflict over Ukraine; the cancellation of Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea and Southeastern Europe is just one manifestation of the evolving energy equation in the region. Russia’s relationship with China is also in flux. Matt Ferchen of Beijing’s Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy envisions closer economic cooperation between the two large nations: “China’s calculations in terms of energy deals hinge on a more advantageous bargaining position over the price of oil. … Russia, now under fire from sanctions and a drop in commodity prices, therefore needs a partner.”

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Venezuela’s political influence is waning as a result of many factors, paramount among them that the Bolivarian government no longer has the flush oil revenues that allowed Hugo Chavez to gain enormous influence by subsidizing oil supplies to friends and denying those supplies to foes. Countries that have been dependent on its largesse will have to look for alternatives, which might require engagement with other political forces in the hemisphere. The collapsing price of oil played a role in the recent rapprochement between Cuba and the United States. Venezuela’s economic crisis heightened the risk that Havana would no longer be able to count on the enormous subsidy it has enjoyed for more than a decade from Caracas. The Cuban regime was thus eager to find another source of economic support. It found one in America.

Nowhere are the second-order consequences of cratering oil prices more varied, important, and unpredictable than in the Middle East. In a Financial Times article in February titled “ISIS struggles to balance books as finances are squeezed,” reporter Erika Solomon wrote, “The world’s richest jihadi group is not as flush as it once was. It has cut spending on fuel and bread subsidies, while increasingly shaking down locals for cash. Fighters themselves may be feeling the squeeze, too.” Analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt estimated that the militant group’s revenue from selling oil had dropped to $300,000 per day, down from between $1 million and $2 million a day in 2014. “I don’t think [the oil-revenue decline] will lead to [the Islamic State’s] collapse. … But it might accelerate their implosion,” Soltvedt told Solomon. Iran, meanwhile, has entered into negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program for a variety of reasons. But the fact that Iran is one of the world’s hardest-hit oil producers is surely one of them.

All of these outcomes—both the direct and immediate, and the indirect and distant—hinge on two questions: How low will oil prices drop? And how long will this period of low prices last? Venturing answers is risky business; virtually no expert, corporation, or government anticipated the revolutionary drop in prices that began in the summer of 2014. But there are signs that the new normal could remain normal for some time. As Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, put it, “The world should ‘settle in’ for a period of relatively weak oil prices. U.S. shale production is more resilient than many people had expected and demand growth in China and elsewhere has slowed. Those conditions could persist.”

Defense One

Al Saud’s connections to Al-Qaeda and the “War on Terror”

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New Eastern Outlook
by Shazad Ali

saudi-al-qaeda-investmentThe United States investigation into the 9/11 attacks has once again come under the geopolitical microscope after former Al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui’s damning testimony.

The so-called ‘20th hijacker’, in his recent testimony in a lawsuit alleging Saudi involvement in the attacks, has accused members of the Saudi royal family of funding Al Qaeda to carry out the catastrophic New York and Washington attacks.

Among the most influential Saudi royal family members accused by Moussaoui of funding the terror attacks are Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served as Saudi ambassador to the US, and Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a billionaire investor. The three princes have deep ties with the US and Prince Bandar is even known as ‘Bandar Bush’ for being close to Bush family and the ‘toast of Washington’.

The former Al Qaeda operative, serving life sentence in a US prison, claims he even discussed a plan with a diplomat in the Saudi embassy in Washington to shoot down Air Force One with Bill and Hillary Clinton on board. Saudi Arabia has rubbished these claims, saying “Moussaoui is a deranged criminal with no credibility.”

This is not the first time the Saudi royal family has been under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Not only the families of the 9/11 victims, but the US lawmakers have also accused Saudi royal family of having tacit alliance with Al Qaeda and being involved in attacks.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, wants the 28 pages of Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks declassified only to ‘demystify’ the notion of a Saudi conspiracy.

But Democrat Stephen Lynch, who has read the classified pages in 2002, former Democrat Senator Bob Graham, a leader of the congressional inquiry and chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee, and John Lehman, a 9/11 commission member, want the suppressed pages disclosed on moral grounds and in public interest. Graham sees “a direct line between some of the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia.”

Prince Bandar is believed to be one of the beneficiaries of £40 billion Al-Yamamah deal with largest British military conglomerate, BAE Systems. The deal was made by the Margaret Thatcher’s government with Saudi Arabia in 1985.

According to Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), Prince Bandar is believed to have received millions of dollars into his Riggs Bank account in Washington in corrupt commissions from ostensibly oil-for-arms barter deal.

However, EIR alleges, hundreds of billions of dollars were squirreled away in offshore bank accounts. These slush funds, according to EIR, have been bankrolling terrorism since then. Some of the money was funnelled to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers – Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Al-Hazmi – from Prince Bandar’s account.

BBC investigations also revealed that £120 million was sent by BAE Systems to two accounts of Saudi embassy in Washington. But Prince Bandar, who has denied being involved in corruption, was withdrawing the money for his personal use which was actually meant for the Saudi government.

Ironically, British Prime Minister Tony Blair asked the British Attorney General, Sir Peter Goldsmith, to close the Serious Fraud Office probe into the scandal in 2006. Blair had intervened saying it would lead to “the complete wreckage of a vital strategic relationship and the loss of thousands of British jobs.”

The British prime minister ordered the closure of the investigation soon after Swiss authorities agreed to provide confidential information about one of the key Swiss-based slush funds, through which the money was believed to have been channeled to fund terror operations.

The newly-crowned Saudi king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has also been accused of supporting Al Qaeda and other extremist organisations in the lawsuit filed by families of 9/11 victims. He is also known for being close to kingdom’s Wahhabi clerical establishment.

Saudi Arabia has also been funding seminaries in Pakistan. The Saudi government has put the onus on the Pakistani foreign ministry, saying it funded seminaries, mosques and charities after ministry’s approval. Saudi Arabia is in a tight spot as, interestingly, Pakistani foreign office has refuted the claims, clarifying that it has no role in approval of financial assistance to seminaries and private individuals.

The question is: why Saudi Arabia funded these seminaries. This question is pertinent for Pakistan had health, education and several other cash-strapped sectors that needed financial assistance badly. Instead, Saudi government chose to fund seminaries.

Even if the Saudi government did not provide funding to Al Qaeda, the 9/11 Commission report has not ruled out the possibility that some charities with significant Saudi government sponsorship diverted funds to Al Qaeda. Interestingly, Hillary Clinton in a leaked cable has vehemently said that donors in Saudi Arabia have been the major source of funding for terrorist groups worldwide.

But there is a strange paradox – while Saudi Arabia is being accused of supporting terrorists clandestinely, the kingdom is one of the major US allies in its ‘war on terror’.

In this context, Moussaoui’s statement seems to be the key to understanding this conundrum. Saudi Arabia may consider Moussaoui as a “deranged criminal”, but 46-yeard-old French citizen, who was diagnosed with delusional paranoid schizophrenia, was declared medically fit to stand trial in 2006. The former Al Qaeda operative has described Saudi government as a two-headed snake, saying House of Saud cannot survive without appeasing the extremist Wahhabi religious establishment.

Saudi royals fear an Al Qaeda backlash against it for being a US ally. For this, they need protection, but as they fear dissidents among the ranks of the Saudi army, the royal family doesn’t trust its army. Instead, it is guarded by the US military and its intelligence.

It is the US military-industrial complex that is involved here. Saudis acquire US weapons to buy the allegiance and security, although these weapons either gather rust in warehouses or are used by US mercenaries. US dependence on Saudi oil has also played a major role in the alliance. Then there is Iranian‘Shia threat’ to Saudi Arabia. This Saudi concern dovetails with the US interest.

Even if Saudis are not directly involved in funding terrorists, at least money is being transferred from private Saudi organisations to extremists. Isn’t it complicity or incompetence of the Saudi intelligence that it has failed to locate and stop the source of funding to these terrorist groups? However, it is not difficult to fathom why the US doesn’t swing its truncheon to tame Saudi Arabia as it does elsewhere – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now in Syria. And this soft stance for Riyadh is despite the fact that 15 out of 19 Sept 11 hijackers were Saudis.

The US must realise that although breaking up this unholy alliance with Saudi Arabia might hurt America’s pocketbook, it would still survive. If one takes into consideration lofty American ideals and Saudi Arabia’s despotic regime, this marriage of convenience is surely a moral blemish. Like it must end US-Israel nexus, Washington must break up the alliance with Riyadh as well.

The US military interventions and support for totalitarian regimes, especially in the Muslim countries, will only result in more anti-America sentiment. It will not only make Americans a target of terrorism but will fuel international terrorism.

George W. Bush refused to make public those 28 pages and now President Barack Obama has reneged on his promise of revealing the secret content of the report to safeguard ‘national interests’. The US government has recently officially conceded CIA’s involvement in torturing suspected terrorists. Now it is time those redacted 28 pageswere declassified, especially when the Saudis have also called for declassifying them. On the other hand, Britain must re-open the probe into Al-Yamamah scam.

Moussaoui’s allegations and voices from different quarters indicating Saudi involvement in funding terror may be dismissed as ‘conspiracy theory’ for challenging the political consensus is a conspiracy theory in the Western world. But only declassifying the 28 pages and a fair and thorough investigation into Al-Yamamah deal will not only put to rest these ‘conspiracy theories’, if they really are, but will also help to kill the fire-breathing chimera of international terrorism.

Shazad Ali, a researcher and analyst that specializes in the Middle East studies, exlusively for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.  

New Eastern Outlook

The Great War For The Middle East

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Oriental Review
By Gulam Asgar MITHA

middle-east

Our form of democracy is bribery, on the highest scale;

It makes no difference who Americans vote for- the two parties (property parties) are really one party representing four percent of the people – quotes from (late) Gore Vidal.

The planning for conquest of the Middle East started with the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975. America, under neo-conservative economic and political guidance, disengaged from Indochina for the engagement process in the Middle East. After some setbacks and time lags, the Great War for the Middle East has started with connivance from the Gulf Arab monarchies. For America and its proxy Israel, the biggest setbacks have come from China and Iran.

The Shah of Iran and his monarchy crumbled on that eventful day of February 1, 1979 when Khomeni returned to Tehran to be welcomed by a tumultuous crowd chanting “Islam, Islam, Khomeni, we will follow you”. Khomeini preached that revolt against injustice and tyranny was part of Shia Islam, and that Muslims should reject the influence of both liberal capitalism and communism with the slogan “Neither East, nor West – Islamic Republic!” Khomeni, portrayed by the US as evil, was lauded for his humility by Robert Fisk in his book “The Great War for Civilization and the Conquest of the Middle East.”

Shia Revival: How Conflict Within Islam will Shape the Future” was published in 2006 by Iranian born Vali Nasr, an American academic specializing in the Middle East and Islam. Vali Nasr is currently the Dean of the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Chapters 7 -9 (Iraq: The First Shia Arab State; The Rise of Iran and The Battle for the Middle East) make up the most interesting reading. Vali Nasr’s assessments are being substantiated by current developments in the Middle East.

What I’m writing is not anything based upon Vali Nasr’s book but substantiating his works based upon my recent three articles – P5+1 N-TALKS OUTCOME, NETAHYAHU VICTORY, SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN and PETROCURRENCY WAR published on the websites WondersofPakistan, Countercurrents and OrientalReview, respectively in March 2015.

The American approach towards Iran is based on bribery – we will lift the UN sanctions and provide economic concessions. Both are unacceptable to Iran. Iran seeks to implement the Khomeni ideology – the revolt against injustice and tyranny that the west under the American tutelage is imposing upon Muslims under guidance of the neo-conservatives controlling the two party “democratic” property systems as one party representing four percent of the Americans. Americans are treating the Middle East as their property with help from Europeans and the Arab monarchies. The result is bound to be a massive failure but not without a war for the Middle East involving Iran, China and Russia.

What is most interesting is the American role. They may be following the British divide and rule policy or are trying to kill a few (not two) birds with one stone. Is the nature of talks with the Iranians to evaluate their military strengths or is it to withdraw the support for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies considering the extremist strategies which they’ve been sponsoring? CNN had reported on March 15, 2015 John Kerry stating that the US must eventually negotiate with Assad (of Syria) to remove him from power and bring the Syrian civil war to a close. Iran may agree but that would require replacing Assad with a president who’d support Iran, not otherwise. Iran has over the past five years succeeded in supporting Assad against a bunch of creepy thugs and it is difficult that they’d relent to US demands. Iranians are tough negotiators and have demonstrated this in their N-talks with Americans and the Europeans. After all, the most successful negotiators are those that give an inch and gain a mile.

The Great War for the Middle East started on March 26, 2015 as the Saudis started the bombing 99876campaign against the Iranian backed Yemeni Houthis. The campaign involved fighter jets from five GCC monarchies, Morocco, Sudan and Jordan with naval support from Pakistan and Egypt – the 10 member Sunni coalition. However, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khwaja Asif stated that “Instead of aggravating the situation by participating in it, Pakistan should do what it can to prevent it ─ for the alliance and unity of the Muslim world.” Meanwhile the United States said that it would provide military and intelligence support to the offensive against Houthi militants in Yemen. Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi stated on al-Masirah TV, saying, “If any army try to invade our country, we will prove that Yemen will be a grave for those who invade us.” Iran and Iraq quickly denounced the attacks.

The coalition could also face backlashes from Shias in Pakistan, Bahrain and Kuwait which make up 20%, 55% and 25% of their populations respectively, resulting in civil wars.

The US and its allies, not discounting Israel, hope that both Shias and Sunnis will destroy themselves in this war and after a few years of massacre and bloodbath, the Middle East will finally be their prized property with its resources. It is their hope that China and Russia will both become involved. Russia has been alienated by the US in Ukraine. China’s yuan has become the Achilles Heel for the US dollar and as such the American administration has to ensure that the global petrocurrency should remain the dollar. I’d mentioned in my article Petrocurrency war that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had told Hillary Clinton to only use force against China as a last resort. The US cannot and will not use direct force but it can and will engage China in a currency war. Where else to defeat it but in the Middle East?

The Gulf monarchies have sold their extremist ideologies to the Muslim countries, most notably Pakistan and Afghanistan which are the heartlands of injustice, oppression and tyranny against their people. In both these countries the political and justice systems have failed while the US continues to prop up the civilian governments with economic bribery while the military is engaged in fighting terrorism. Neither of the two countries seems to be willing to learn from their past follies of being vassal states. The Islamic State (IS) is also a terrorist organization purportedly supported by Saudi financing. They too have to be destroyed in the war and thus far both Iran and Iraq are proving to be a solid match for the thugs. On February 14, 2015 Iraqi forces supported by Kurdish fighters managed to push IS out of the town of Sulaiman Bek, south of Kirkuk. The IS are on the run in Iraq.

The dawn of a new Civilization will start with the end of the Great War for the Middle East – a civilization based on mankind’s desire for humanity, tolerance, justice, respect and peace based upon Divine teachings. How long will the war continue? Maybe as long as 5 years but for now, the war has the potential to engulf the Muslim world in a huge ball of fire but in the end it will be an Islamic revival, not Shia revival or Sunni domination or the prized property of any other system.

Gulam Asgar Mitha is a retired Techinal Safety Engineer. He has worked with several N. American and International oil and gas companies. He has worked in Libya, Qatar, Pakistan, France, Yemen and UAE. Currently Gulam lives in Calgary, Canada and enjoys reading and keeping in tune with current global political issues.

Oriental Review

The Stock Market In 2015 Is Starting To Look Remarkably Similar To The Stock Market In 2008

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The Economic Collapse
by Michael Snyder

Bubble Mirror - Public DomainAre we watching a replay of the last financial crisis?  Over the past six months, the price of oil has collapsed, the U.S. dollar has soared, and a whole bunch of other patterns that we witnessed just before the stock market crash of 2008 are repeating once again.  But what we have not seen yet is the actual stock market crash.  So will there be one this year?  In this article, I am going to compare the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average during the first three months of 2008 to the performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average during the first three months of 2015.  As you will see, there are some striking similarities.  And without a doubt, we are overdue for a major market downturn.  The S&P 500 has risen for six years in a row, but it has never had seven up years consecutively.  In addition, there has not even been a 10 percent stock market “correction” is almost three and a half years.  So will stocks be able to continue to defy both gravity and the forces of economic reality?  Only time will tell.

Below is a chart that shows how the Dow Jones Industrial Average performed during the first three months of 2008.  It was a time of increased volatility, but the market pretty much went nowhere.  This is typical of what we see in the months leading up to a market crash.  The markets start getting really choppy with large ups and large downs…

Dow First 3 Months Of 2008

This next chart shows how the Dow Jones Industrial Average has performed during the first three months of 2015.  Once again, we are witnessing a time of increased volatility, but the market is not really going anywhere.  In fact, after falling about 200 points on Tuesday (not shown on this chart) it is just barely below where it started the year…

Dow First 3 Months Of 2015

When the market becomes quite restless but it doesn’t really move anywhere, that is a sign that we have reached a turning point.  The following is what a recent CNN article had to say about the rising volatility that we have been witnessing…

The Dow fell nearly 3.7% in January, surged 5.6% in February and is down about 2% this month. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq have gone through similar sentiment swings. The Dow ended the quarter slightly in the red while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up a little bit.

Charles Schwab chief investment officer Liz Ann Sonders summed up this volatility the best — with a nod to U2. “Running to Stand Still: Wild Swings Taking Market Nowhere” is the title of her most recent market commentary.

What can investors expect for the rest of 2015? Probably a lot more of the same.

Now let’s look at a chart for the entire year of 2008.  After peaking for the year in early May, the Dow started to slide.  Things started to get really crazy in September, and by the end of the year the U.S. economy was plunged into the greatest crisis since the Great Depression…

Dow Full Year Of 2008

Will the rest of 2015 follow a similar pattern?

A lot of investors are actually betting that this will be the case.

Right now, hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into VXX – an ETF that makes money when the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index goes up.  In other words, these investors are betting that we are going to see a lot more stock market volatility in the weeks and months to come.

And as I have said so many times before, stocks tend to rise in calm markets and they tend to fall when the markets become volatile.

So essentially these investors are betting that we are headed for a stock market crash.

The following is more on the massive inflow of money into VXX that we have been seeing from the Crux

Ways to speculate on how noisy the stock market will be have exploded in the last decade with the advent of products tied to the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index. Strategies include relatively simple hedges against equity losses, such as owning a security that aims to mimic the VIX.

VXX, one of the most popular ways to bet on bigger market swings, has absorbed $715 million in seven consecutive weeks of inflows, its longest streak of inflows since one ending in July 2012. The infusion of fresh cash has continued this week, swelling its market value to $1.5 billion, the highest since September 2013.

At the same time, short-sellers in VXX — people effectively betting the bull market will persist — have dropped out. Short interest has slid 35 percent since October, falling to the lowest in more than seven months last week, data compiled by Markit Ltd. show.

And many of the exact same people that warned us about the financial crisis of 2008 in advance are warning that another crisis is rapidly approaching.  For example, check out the following quote from Ann Pettifor that recently appeared in an article in the Guardian

As Janet Yellen’s Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates, boosting the value of the dollar, while the plunging price of crude puts intense pressure on the finances of oil-exporting countries, there are growing fears of a new debt crisis in the making.

Ann Pettifor of Prime Economics, who foreshadowed the credit crunch in her 2003 book The Coming First World Debt Crisis, says: “We’re going to have another financial crisis. Brazil’s already in great trouble with the strength of the dollar; I dread to think what’s happening in South Africa; then there’s Malaysia. We’re back to where we were, and that for me is really frightening.”

Pettifor is right on two counts – another major financial crisis is approaching, and it is going to be global in scope.

Before I end this article, there are two more items that I would like to share with you.

Firstly, it is being reported that the IPO market has really cooled off in 2015.  When the number of companies going public starts to decline, that is a clear sign that a stock market bubble is on borrowed time.  The following comes from Business Insider

The number of US companies going public has really dropped off lately.

“After a record year in 2014, the IPO market slowed dramatically in the first quarter of 2015,” Renaissance Capital analysts said.

The first quarter of 2015, which ended Tuesday, was the slowest quarter for IPOs since the first quarter of 2013. While stock prices have been near all-time highs, market volatility has been escalating, turning companies off from trying to unload shares onto the public markets.

Secondly, the San Francisco housing market has been a pretty reliable indicator of previous economic booms and busts.  The San Francisco housing market started to cool off before the dotcom bubble burst, it started to cool off before the stock market crash of 2008, and now it is cooling off once again.  The following chart comes from Zero Hedge

San Francisco - Zero Hedge

The warning signs are there.

But as with so many other things in life, most people are going to end up believing precisely what they want to believe.

So what do you believe about what the rest of the year will bring?  Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

The Economic Collapse

The Geopolitics behind the War in Yemen (II)

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Strategic Culture
by Mahdi Darius NAZEMROAYA

Part I

«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. 

Strategic Culture

The Geopolitics behind the War in Yemen (I)

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Strategic Culture
By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

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.

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.

(To be continued)

Strategic Culture