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    France Administrator Hervé's Avatar
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    Default Middle East Rubik's Cube

    The Saker: Debunking the rumors about Russia caving in to Israel

    The Saker UNZ Review
    Thu, 04 Jul 2019 10:34 UTC


    Patrushev in Jerusalem

    This Spring saw a sudden increase in the volume of articles in the so-called "alternative media and blogosphere" about Putin "selling out" Syria or Iran to the Israelis and their US patrons, or both. What was particularly interesting about this campaign is that it was not triggered by any kind of event or statement by Putin or any other senior Russian decision-makers. True, Israeli politicians made numerous trips to Russia, but each time they walked away without anything tangible to show for their efforts. As for their Russian counterparts, they limited themselves to vague and well-intentioned statements. Nonetheless, the "Putin sold out to Netanyahu" campaign did not stop. Every meeting was systematically interpreted as The Clear Proof that the Zionists control the Kremlin and that Putin was doing Netanyahu's bidding.

    The fact that this campaign began ex nihilo did not seem to bother most observers. Soon I started getting steady streams of emails asking me to react to these articles. My reply was always the same one: let's do the opposite of what these supposed "specialists" are doing and wait for the facts to come out and only then form an opinion.

    Truth be told, I had already tackled that canard in my article "Why is Putin "allowing" Israel to bomb Syria." I also had tried to debunk some of the most persistent and toxic falsehoods about Russia and Israel in my article "Putin and Israel: A Complex and Multi-Layered Relationship." I also wrote an article entitled "Is Putin Really Ready to "Ditch" Iran?" trying to debunk that stupid theory. Finally, I even tried to compare and contrast the Russian approach towards Israel (which I qualified as "self-interest") with the attitude of the "collective West" (which I qualified as "prostitution") in an article entitled "Russia, Israel and the Values of "Western Civilization" - Where Is the Truth?".

    I was naïve to think that any of my arguments would elicit any doubts amongst the "Putin is a traitor" crowd. After all, if being wrong for years could not convince them otherwise, no rational argument would.

    Then, news agencies began to report that General Nikolai Patrushev, the Director of the Russian Federal Security Service and the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, would travel to Israel to meet with John Bolton and Bibi Netanyahu. At this point, the steady stream of concerned emails suddenly turned into a deluge! After all, why would such a high-ranking (and rather secretive) Russian official travel to Israel to meet two of the worst and most evil politicians of the Anglo-Zionist Empire? Surely, he had something important to say, no? The consensus (of sorts) was that Patrushev would sell out Iran and Syria in exchange for some (entirely theoretical, quite unlikely and inevitably vague) "concessions" on the Ukraine, Crimea or sanctions.

    My reply remained the same. Let's wait until these folks actually meet and let's see if their meeting brings about something significant (as a rule, I find getting facts an essential first step before engaging in any analysis; apparently, my detractors feel otherwise).

    So, again, I decided to wait.

    Then something weird happened: the meeting took place, it was even reported (albeit mostly in general terms), the participants issued their statements and... ...nothing. The outcome of the "Jerusalem summit" was greeted by a deafening silence and a few vapid commentaries. My first hunch was that, as the Russian saying goes, the "mountain had given birth to a mouse" and that nothing of importance came out of the summit. Boy, was I ever wrong!

    The official Russian position on Iran

    The summit did indeed produce something of vital significance, but for some reason, the most senior-official statement on Iran that any Russian decision-maker ever made received very little attention. Unless you happened to be a Saker blog reader, you would never find out about it.

    See for yourself and click here: http://thesaker.is/russias-patrushev...israeli-talks/ for both the video and the transcript.

    To my knowledge, this is the only full-length English language transcript of Patrushev's statement. (Ruptly posted a video dubbed in English, but it was hardly noticed. As for the transcript, to my knowledge it was never reposted in full).

    Which is too bad, since the following words have now been spoken by one of the most authorized and high-ranking Russian officials to date:
    "We have emphasized an importance of easing of the tensions for the country (Syria) between Israel and Iran, by the way of implementation the mutual approaching steps. We have made an emphasis that Syria must not be turned into an arena for geopolitical confrontation. We have also highlighted the need for the international community to help Syria to rebuild its national economy. Among other things, Syria should be free of illegal trade restrictions, unilateral sanctions, as well as sanctions on economic operators that help Syria to rebuild. They also have to be free from all sanctions.

    We also turned everyone's attention to the relations of Syria and other Arab states that should be normalized again. Syria is once again should be a full-fledged member of the Arab League. Also, we pointed out an importance of establishing the contacts of Syrian government with its Kurdish ethnic minority. We stated of importance to unite the efforts to eliminate all remaining in Syria terrorists. We called for immediate disruption of all channels through which terrorists might be able to obtain weapon grade chemical materials and their precursors.

    Russia, the United States and Israel should join their efforts to help peace to return to Syria.

    In the context of the statements made by our partners with regard to a major regional power, namely Iran, I would like to say the following: Iran has always been and remains our ally and partner, with which we are consistently developing relations both on bilateral basis and within multilateral formats,

    This is why we believe that it is inadmissible to describe Iran as the major threat to the regional security and, moreover, to put it on par with the Islamic State or any other terrorist organization, Especially, since Iran contributes substantial efforts to bring peace to Syria and to stabilize the situation in Syria.

    We have called on our partners to show restraint and readiness for reciprocal steps, which must serve as the basis for the consistent advancement towards the easing of tensions in the Israeli-Iranian relations"
    To my knowledge, this is the very first time that Russia has officially declared Iran not only as a partner but as an ally! A few days later, President Putin confirmed that this was an official position which had his imprimatur when he stated in his interview to the FT that:
    "We have established sufficiently good business-like relations with all regional countries, and our positions in the Middle East region have become more stable. Indeed, we have established very good, business-like, partner-like and largely allied relations with many regional countries, including Iran, Turkey and other countries"
    This is absolutely huge, especially considering that, unlike Eltsin's "democratic" Russia or western politicians, Putin does not abandon his allies (if anything, he sometimes defends them for too long even when they have been found guilty of dishonorable actions). Let me repeat this:

    Russia has declared that Iran is her ally.

    The official Russian position on Syria

    Next, let's parse the Patrushev statement once again for some specifics about Syria:
    1. Israel does not get to impose its will upon Syria. ("Syria must not be turned into an arena for geopolitical confrontation ").
    2. All sanctions against Syria must be lifted. ("Syria should be free of illegal trade restrictions, unilateral sanctions, as well as sanctions on economic operators that help Syria to rebuild. They also have to be free from all sanctions").
    3. The Arab League must fully reinstate Syria. ("Syria once again should be a fully-fledged member of the Arab League").
    4. All the remaining terrorists in Syria must be eliminated. ("unite the efforts to eliminate all remaining terrorists in Syria").
    It sure looks to me that Russia's commitment to Syria's integrity and freedom is as strong as ever.

    Does that look to you like Russia and Israel are working hand-in-hand in Syria?

    If so, please read the following for a quick reality check (excerpt from this article):

    The initial AngloZionist plan was to overthrow Assad and replace him with the Takfiri crazies (Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS - call them whatever you want). Doing this would achieve the following goals:
    1. Bring down a strong secular Arab state along with its political structure, armed forces, and security services.
    2. Chere and horror in Syria justifying the creation of a "security zone" by Israel not only in the Golan but further north.
    3. Trigger a civil war in Lebanon by unleashing the Takfiri crazies against Hezbollah.
    4. Let the Takfiris and Hezbollah bleed each other to death, then create a "security zone," but this time in Lebanon.
    5. Prevent the creation of a Shia axis Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon.
    6. Break up Syria along ethnic and religious lines.
    7. Create a Kurdistan which could then be used against Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
    8. Make it possible for Israel to become the uncontested power broker in the Middle-East and force the KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and all others to have to go to Israel for any gas or oil pipeline project.
    9. Gradually isolate, threaten, subvert, and eventually attack Iran with a broad regional coalition of forces.
    10. Eliminate all center of Shia power in the Middle-East.
    That was an ambitious plan, but the Israelis felt pretty confident that their US vassal-state would provide the resources needed to achieve it. Now this entire plan has collapsed due to the very high effectiveness of an informal but yet formidable alliance between Russia, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.To say that the Israelis are seething with rage and in a state of total panic would be an understatement. Do you think I am exaggerating? Then look at it from the Israeli point of view:
    • The Syrian state has survived, and its armed and security forces are now far more capable than they were before the war started (remember how they *almost* lost the war initially? The Syrians bounced back while learning some very hard lessons. By all reports, they improved tremendously, while at critical moments Iran and Hezbollah were literally "plugging holes" in the Syrian frontlines and "extinguishing fires" on local flashpoints. Now the Syrians are doing a very good job of liberating large chunks of their country, including every single city in Syria).
    • Not only is Syria stronger, but the Iranians and Hezbollah are all over the country now, which is driving the Israelis into a state of panic and rage.
    • Lebanon is rock solid; even the latest Saudi attempt to kidnap Hariri is backfiring.
    • Syria will remain unitary, and Kurdistan is not happening. Millions of displaced refugees are returning home.
    • Israel and the US look like total idiots and, even worse, as losers with no credibility left.
    The simple truth is that Russia foiled ALL the Israeli plans for Syria. All of them!

    This is an extremely important statement. It is also a somewhat ambiguous one since "ally" means different things to different people. The Allied Powers during WWII included the Anglo nations and the Soviet Union, which did not prevent the western powers from plotting and conspiring to attack and destroy their putative "ally" (who happened to have destroyed about 80% of the Nazi war machine).

    For those who need a reminder of how the West treats its allies, here is a small memento with three examples of how the West planned to "solve the Russian problem":
    • Plan Totality (1945): earmarked 20 Soviet cities for obliteration in a first strike: Moscow, Gorki, Kuybyshev, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Saratov, Kazan, Leningrad, Baku, Tashkent, Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Tagil, Magnitogorsk, Molotov, Tbilisi, Stalinsk, Grozny, Irkutsk, and Yaroslavl.
    • Operation Unthinkable (1945) assumed a surprise attack by up to 47 British and American divisions in the area of Dresden, in the middle of Soviet lines. This represented almost a half of roughly 100 divisions (ca. 2.5 million men) available to the British, American and Canadian headquarters at that time. The majority of any offensive operation would have been undertaken by American and British forces, as well as Polish forces and up to 100,000 German Wehrmacht soldiers.
    • Operation Dropshot (1949): included mission profiles that would have used 300 nuclear bombs and 29,000 high-explosive bombs on 200 targets in 100 cities and towns to wipe out 85% of the Soviet Union's industrial potential at a single stroke. Between 75 and 100 of the 300 nuclear weapons were targeted to destroy Soviet combat aircraft on the ground.
    I could also list all the so-called "allies" the West has ditched, betrayed and even murdered since WWII, but that would take too many pages

    So what does Russia mean exactly when she says that Iran is her "ally"?

    Patrushev uses the words партнер (partner) and союзник (ally). Just as in English, the word "partner" evokes some community of interests and collaboration but is generally value-neutral. This is why Russian politicians sometimes even speak of countries hostile to Russia as "partners." Not only are they sarcastic, but "partner" does not invoke any particular feeling or moral obligation on anybody's part. Partner is just a polite word, nothing more.

    The word "ally," however, is a much stronger one which implies not only common interests but also a real, sincere friendship and a common stance against a common enemy. Unless it is used sarcastically, the term "soiuznik" strongly implies a mutual moral obligation.

    It remains unclear what that really means in the case of Iran and Russia. Theoretically, having a common enemy attack one of the members of an alliance ("soiuz") could mean that Russia would intervene and offer military support or even directly intervene herself. I doubt that Patrushev (or anyone else in the Kremlin) has this kind of intervention in mind, if only for one reason which is that there would be very little, if any, popular support for a war against the US for the sake of Iran. A much more realistic interpretation of Patrushev's words would be that:
    1. Russia will not "sell-out" Iran to anybody in any way, shape or form.
    2. If Iran is attacked, Russia will offer her total support short of any direct military intervention.
    Total support short of any direct military intervention is what the USSR offered the DPRK and, even more so, to Vietnam, and in both cases, the West was eventually defeated. Also, "short of any direct military intervention" does not mean "no military aid": sending military equipment and instructors, is also below the threshold of "direct military intervention," as would be the case with political and economic support. Furthermore, Russia has formidable intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities which could play a crucial role in helping Iran resist an AngloZionist attack (look at what Russian radars, electronic warfare, and battle management systems have done to the effectiveness of US and Israeli attacks against Syria!).

    Let's also remember the nature of the Iranian theater of military operations: Iran is a huge country with a very large population (80M+). What this means is that Iran cannot be taken over in a ground invasion. That, in turn, means that the resistance of the Iranian people will never be crushed. And that, in turn, means that there is no need for Russia to prevent a military takeover of Iran. All Russia needs to do is to give Iran the means to effectively resist and the rest will happen naturally (just like Hezbollah did in 2006 against Israel when Iran did not intervene directly and militarily, but simply gave Hezbollah the means to beat back the "only Jewish democracy in the Middle-East").

    Besides, Iranians are fiercely patriotic, and they would probably not welcome any visible Russian military intervention in their country anyway (they won't say "no" to covert aid, especially not the IRGC). This is a wise approach, especially when compared to cowardly little statelets which always want one occupier to boot out a previous occupier (think Poland, the Baltic statelets or the Nazi-occupied Ukraine nowadays).

    Finally, Russia is not acting by herself or in a vacuum: the Chinese have made numerous statements (see here, here or here) showing that Iran also has their backing, which resulted in a state of consternated shock amongst MAGA fanboys. The fact that the US's "European allies" seemed to be getting cold feet about this entire project (attacking Iran on behalf of Israel, blowing-up the entire Middle-East while bringing down the world economy) only adds to their distress.

    The USN should rent out a few transport/amphibious assault ships, fill them up with Polaks, Balts, Ukies, and Georgians and send them to fight for "the US" (i.e., for Israel, of course). After all, these folks are locked in a desperate competition to see who of them can brown-nose the Empire the deepest, so why not give them a way to prove their unfailing loyalty to "western values" and the rest of the propaganda nonsense the legacy corporate Ziomedia feeds us (and them!) on a daily basis

    Will any of the above affect the "Putin is a traitor" or "Putin works for Bibi" crowd?

    Facts? No! Who needs facts?
    No, most probably not. What they will do is just ignore Patrushev's very official statement just like they have ignored all the facts since they began predicting a "Grand Russian Betrayal" for no less than 5 years now, even if proved wrong every time: remember their whining about Syria "losing" its (utterly useless, dangerous and expensive to destroy) chemical weapons? What about their whining about Russia not doing enough for Novorussia? Or their whining about the Russians being "soft" on Israel after the Israelis caused the loss of a Russian recon aircraft? All these folks who present to us the "proof" that Putin, Bolton, and Netanyahu are "in cahoots", and have predicted that Patrushev would "sell out" are now very busy looking somewhere else for evidence of Russia's subservience to Israel.

    At the time of writing (July 2nd), the Israelis have yet again conducted an airstrike on Syria, killing four people including a baby. The MI6 sponsored "The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" reported that "at least ten targets were hit in Damascus while a scientific research center and a military airbase were attacked in Homs." Sounds quite impressive, no?

    Actually, no.

    For one thing, to evaluate the effectiveness of an airstrike, you don't list targets, you make a bomb damage assessment (BDA) to ascertain what in reality sustained a hit, and how severely. Now, the Zionist propaganda always issues triumphant reports about how the invincible Israeli air force can make minced meat out of any Russian (or other) air defense system. Some, for example, have already concluded that the Israelis have "neutralized" the S-300 system while others go even further and claim that Russia either "approved" the Israeli attack or even "coordinated" it!

    The Russian military has a saying "гражданский - это диагноз" which can be roughly translated as "civilian - that is a diagnosis." In the case of these ignorant and even silly articles about the Russian air defenses in Syria ("the S-300 don't work!!!"), that is precisely the case: these are civilians who have no understanding whatsoever of military matters in general, and even less so of air defense topics.

    In my article "S-300 in Syria - a Preliminary Assessment," I explained that:
    Sooner or later, however, we can be pretty confident that both the Israelis and the US will have to try to strike Syria again, if only for PR purposes. In fact, this should not be too difficult for them, here is why: First, and contrary to what is often claimed, there are not enough S-300/S-400's in Syria to indeed "lock" all of the Syrian airspace. Yes, the Russians did create a de-facto no-fly zone over Syria, but not one which could withstand a large and determined attack. What the combined Russian and Syrian forces have done so far is to deny some specific segments of the airspace above and around Syria to the AngloZionist aggressors. This means that they can protect some specific, high-value targets. However, as soon as the US/Israelis get a feel for what has been deployed and where, and how this entire integrated air defense network works, they will be able to plan strikes which, while not terribly effective, will be presented by the propaganda machine as a major success for the AngloZionists. (...) So, all the AngloZionists really need to do is to be very careful in their choice of paths of approach and choice of targets, use low-RCS aircraft and missiles under the cover of a robust EW engagement and then use a large enough number of missiles to give the appearance that the Empire has defeated the Russian and Syrian air defenses.
    This is *exactly* what we are witnessing now. How do we know that? After all, we don't have access to classified BDAs. True. What we can do is use Christ's wise words and "judge a tree by its fruits" and notice that no amount of Israeli airstrikes in Syria have made any difference. Not only that, but we also know the kind of sustained air campaign which would be needed to meaningfully impact the Syrian armed forces, Hezbollah, the Iranians or the Russians. It sure ain't what we have seen since the Russians beefed up their air defenses in Syria.

    By the way, the SOHR article mentioned above also makes a mistake saying that a "scientific research center" was attacked. Why does this matter? Well, since we know that Syria has no nuclear, chemical or bacteriological research program or weapons, we can immediately conclude that whatever the "scientific research center" was doing (assuming this was not some empty building in the first place) was not something relevant to the Syrian war effort. In other words, this "scientific research center" was chosen as a symbolic target which, for all we know, might not even have been protected in the first place. However, "Israel destroys secret Syrian research center" sounds oh-so-triumphant and presents that it was well worth attacking that target. Heck, the SOHR article even mentions destroyed *orchards* (I kid you not!). I am sure that Hezbollah and the IRGC were both very impressed by the Israeli military prowess and totally heartbroken to have been deprived of their precious orchards

    My question to the "Putin is a Zioagent" folks is: why in the world would you expect the Syrians or the Russians to defend empty buildings or orchards from Israeli airstrikes anyways?

    Conclusion 1: Putin, the traitor? Hardly!
    My regular readers will know that my support for the Kremlin is a sincere one, but also a critical one. Not only do I not believe in flag-waving (called "hat tossing" in Russian), but I do also believe that there is a very dangerous and toxic 5th column inside the Russian elites working to subordinate Russia to the Empire. So while I sometimes like to call myself a "Putin fanboy" or "Putin groupie," I do that only in a tongue-in-cheek manner. In reality, I believe that Russia in general, and Putin specifically, actually need the criticism of those who want to see Russia truly become a sovereign nation again. So I am all for being critical of Putin and Russia. However, not all criticisms are equal or offered in a sincere spirit.

    I have concluded that the folks at Langley (and elsewhere) have figured out that accusing Putin of being a journalist-murdering dictator or a nationalist freak who wants to restore the Russian Empire have entirely failed (especially inside Russia). So they switched strategies and have embarked on a major strategic PSYOP we could call "Putin the traitor": instead of moaning about Putin being too much of a Russian patriot, they have now decided to paint him as a "not sincerely patriotic" and, truth be told, that new strategy has proven much more effective, especially against the background of the Medvedev government continuing to champion socially reactionary policies.

    In fact, I suspect that Patrushev's statement was, at least in part, designed to debunk the canard about Russia ditching either Iran or Syria. Not only that, but since the Director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Secretary of the Security Council of Russia has made the Russian support for Iran crystal clear, this will now force the 5th columnists to either shut up or face sanction.

    Will the putatively pro-Russian "useful idiots" who spent so much energy trying to convince everybody that Putin was Netanyahu's puppet learn their lesson? I doubt it. In fact, I don't think that they will ever admit being wrong: they will explain-away Patrushev's statement as "empty talk" or something similar and resume their mantras (which is the only thing which gives them "click-visibility" anyway).

    Let's sum up what we all could observe: Russia remains the single biggest "resistance nation" on the planet (the other contender for the top position would, obviously, be Iran). The "Putin betrayed" folks have been denouncing a Russian betrayal for at least five years. The fact that no such betrayal ever materialized has had no impact on those who are little more than useful tools for the Empire. Expect more "Putin the traitor" and "IDF defeats S-300s" articles in the future (the only way to stop them would be to stop clicking on their bait-titles which would force them to find a new source of revenue; I am not holding my breath on this one).

    Conclusion 2: back to reality
    In the real world the most interesting questions now are 1) how viable the current partnership between Russian and Turkey will prove over time and 2) how strong the Russian-Iranian alliance will become. It is also unclear what role the SCO will play or whether the SCO will grow more impressive military "teeth" (so far, at least as far as I know, no SCO member state has offered military help to Russia). And finally there is the big question of what China will do.

    For the time being we see the Empire spewing a lot of hot air and making threats to an almost endless list of countries, while the Israelis engage in what I would call "murder psychotherapy" (which is all that IDF strikes really are) to keep their racist delusions afloat. And while the AngloZionists maniacally pursue these (pretend-)strategies, the rest of the world is building an alternative to the AngloZionist Hegemony.

    Will the leaders of the Empire prefer a massive war to a quiet (and rather pathetic) self-destruction of the Empire? Looking at the faces of Trump, Pompeo or Bolton, I can't say that I feel very reassured. Yet I remain hopeful that I will see the day come when the US, Russia and Palestine are all liberated from their oppressors and recover their full sovereignty.


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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    The US and Israeli gov. has a long list of screwing its allies. Only fools will ally with them now.

    "Yet I remain hopeful that I will see the day come when the US, Russia and Palestine are all liberated from their oppressors and recover their full sovereignty."

    Are you implying that Russia is in captive state just like the US?

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Quote Posted by Bubu (here)
    The US and Israeli gov. has a long list of screwing its allies. Only fools will ally with them now.

    "Yet I remain hopeful that I will see the day come when the US, Russia and Palestine are all liberated from their oppressors and recover their full sovereignty."

    Are you implying that Russia is in captive state just like the US?
    Bubu, the whole article was written by the Saker - not "me" -

    In any case, the whole planet is under the oppression of things like the IMF, BIS, WHO, etc... not to forget that many an oilfield on Russian soil is owned and operated by some Rockefeller consortium and that Russia is surrounded by NATO countries applying sanctions same as with Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Iran or NK.
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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Quote Posted by Hervé (here)
    In any case, the whole planet is under the oppression of things like the IMF, BIS, WHO, etc... not to forget that many an oilfield on Russian soil is owned and operated by some Rockefeller consortium and that Russia is surrounded by NATO countries applying sanctions same as with Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Iran or NK.
    Yes there have been Western hands on the inside of Russia.

    This is a pretty thick fog because it is probably accurate to say there has always been a national Russian resistance bloc.

    It has been infiltrated by, I believe, a Swiss-British injection since around the founding of modern Germany, 1870s.

    Saker article is good, because the Russians have a delicate situation with Israel, etc., that has nothing to do with "ours", or the way we think we know it.

    There "was" an American resistance bloc, which appears to have fizzled. For instance, I have seen a ca. 1920 Federal Reserve Note, when they were all locally printed in Chicago or whatever. Beside its blaring "FRN" title, someone used a pen and wrote "Bolshevik". In other words, when the Federal Reserve started, I believe there was a bloc who opposed it and recognized it to be the Western arm of the Bolshevik Eastern arm. Imagine what happened to them when "patriotism" about World War Two came in. American memory gets whitewashed and replaced with Zionism. But the Russians remember everything. Their strategies and relations with neighbors now mostly seem to work as intended.

    In Syria now it is pretty easy to see Western actions vs. Russians. Deep in most major tunnels you find a nest of American/British/French/Saudis and some others, more or less in command. And in practical terms, such spies are always ransomed or traded. No one gets the "glory" of just shooting them or humiliating them on video or any of that. No, they're not going to explain it to reporters.

    On the "less legal" side, we didn't used to be able to talk about how weapons get around. Iran-Contra sort of blew that, but if you forgot, now in Syria this is all reported. Not hard to know how it works. This is the kind of thing that should be exposed, and not so much the fact that Syria didn't execute an American or retaliate against Israel. The most recent Israeli attack did score some hits but most of it was destroyed. No, in any significant military terms, they're in no position to "do something". They usually use a pretext, i. e. two missiles from Syria, which usually have been fired by militants. Why would it make any sense for some Syrian Army unit to shoot two missiles at Israel? Same sense as gas bombing Syrian cities.

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    In addition to The Saker (https://thesaker.is/), for anyone who is interested in following geopolitics as it plays out in the Middle East, I recommend some additional blogs, twitter feeds, etc.

    One has to “piece” together a grasp of the situation in its full complexity and it is muddied by the (sometimes century long) plots and plans of different parties. However, I have found it is possible to get a better sense of things by checking in with these writers and commentators regularly. In the time I have been living in Dubai and trying to determine the “shape of things”, I have come to see only vague outlines of what is going on but I do feel far more competent to critique reported news stories.

    There is no particular order to this list, all have their value and specific interests and biases.
    • Bernhard, a blogger in Germany who writes at Moon of Alabama (in English) - https://www.moonofalabama.org/. Sometimes other topics are covered, but it’s very often the Middle East. His website has many good commenters and one can learn an enormous amount from both the articles and the commenters.
    • Thierry Meyssan, a French speaking commentator, writes on geopolitics and very often on the Middle East. His site is Voltaire.net - https://www.voltairenet.org/en. His articles are in French and then translated to other languages including English, Spanish, German, Arabic and Italian. He also includes articles from other writers occasionally.
    • Alastair Crooke is a former British Diplomat who runs a project called the Conflicts Forum in Beirut, Lebanon. He writes at a strategic level about the Middle East and his articles are posted at Strategic Culture.org: https://www.strategic-culture.org/co...astair-crooke/
    • Robert Fisk is a British journalist who often writes about the Middle East but from more of a cultural and societal perspective. He writes for The Independent but his articles also appear in other venues. You can keep track of his writing here at Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/robert-fisk/articles
    • M. Badhrakumar is a former Indian diplomat and writes broadly on geopolitical topics. He often addresses the Middle East and his views on India are useful reading. He has a Twitter account here: https://mobile.twitter.com/bhadrapunchline?lang=en and a website here: https://indianpunchline.com/
    • Pepe Escobar writes mostly on the One Belt One Road, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and Chinese and Russian geopolitical strategy but he does occasionally write about the Middle East and Iran. He seems to have very high level contacts. His articles are often posted to The Saker but not always. He also writes for Asia Times. Sometimes his articles are elsewhere. Best thing to do is use a search engine with a “search by date” time limit and his name in the search field.

    There are others I could list, but these are enough to keep one reading many hours each week!
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Here is a recent interview with journalist / commentator on the Middle East, Sharmine Narwani, on Renegade Inc. on RT.

    The discussion is titled “What’s the real plan with Iran?” but is more of an overview of the current situation in the Middle East with Sharmine’s view on the medium term outlook.


    Quote The Middle East has always been a sandpit for military powers to fight their proxy wars. The latest country to be threatened to have Western democracy visited upon it is Iran.
    But after decades of casual violence and conflict, Western interests are now no longer able to topple regimes with impunity, and then exploit their natural resources – and citizens in the West will no longer tolerate deathly Middle Eastern foreign policy.

    So are we at a turning point?

    Will the presence of other actors in the region now change the balance of international power and perhaps begin a new chapter of peace and economic progress?

    Host Ross Ashcroft is joined by the journalist and Middle East based commentator Sharmine Narwani to discuss how Iran and the Middle East is reshaping the world order.
    On RT here: https://www.rt.com/shows/renegade-in...-east-narwani/
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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    This is another square to add to the Middle East rubric’s cube. It seems that Israel was supplying arms to Iran in the 1980s, partly as a way to ensure that Iraq and Iran would destroy each other in the war (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran–Iraq_War - a million people died in this war), partly to gain a relationship with those in power in Iran, and partly for the revenue from the arms trade.

    Many parties were involved in this including the British, French, and Portuguese. This is a complex and Byzantine operation.

    I wonder whether / how this continues in current times? If so, are the motives the same?

    Quote Operation Seashell – How Israel Secretly Armed Iran & Later India
    By GreatGameIndia - July 12, 2019

    Operation Seashell was a clandestine Israeli operation to secretly arm Iran in exchange for continued access to Iranian oil. Later in 2009, the same Israeli arms company used as a conduit for secret arms sales to Iran was found to be involved in a major arms scandal in India.

    ...

    During the Shah’s regime, Israel and America had kept Iran well armed; but now, following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy and the subsequent hostage crisis, America had declared a general boycott of Iran, and demanded that its allies do the same.

    Not everyone complied with the U.S. demands. The French, for one, weren’t averse to bending the embargo. One French firm, apparently under the protection of a high official in French intelligence, signed a contract with a British firm to supply engines for Scorpion light tanks to Iran. On the bills of lading they claimed the engines were bound for Jordan, although the Jordanian army had no Scorpion tanks. ‘They also approached the Israel Defense Ministry’s representative in Paris, offering to act as Intermediary for sales of Israeli supplies.

    Amazingly, Israel responded. Khomeini’s regime openly endorsed the destruction of Israel, yet there were enough people in Israel who thought they should sell arms to him, in secret, for the operation code-named “Seashell” to be born. It puts the later Iran-contra scandal to shame.

    Operation Seashell

    There were four main reasons why Operation Seashell went forward. First, Israel could not come to terms with the military, intelligence, and diplomatic losses that it had sustained with the disruption of relations with Iran after the revolution. Arms exports would at least give it a foothold in Tehran. In Israel’s defense establishment, the lesson had been learned from many cases over the years that swiftly supplying weaponry and military know-how to a totalitarian state will bring the supplier as close as possible to the rulers, because the weapons are their means of holding on to power.

    Second, it was hoped that the infusion of weaponry would intensify the Iran-Iraq War and lead to the mutual destruction or, at least weakening, of two enemies.

    Third, Israeli officials feared a victorious Saddam Hussein. Finally, more than anything else, the weapons industry wanted to make money. As one Israeli Defense Ministry official, a key figure in Operation Seashell, recalls: “I do not remember even one discussion about the ethics of the matter. All that interested us was to sell, sell, sell more and more Israeli weapons, and let them kill each other with them.”
    ...
    Continues and from here: http://greatgameindia.com/operation-...ed-iran-india/
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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    A useful overview of recent history of regional conflict in the Middle East and some projections and speculations on the future conflict conditions from Elijah Magnier.

    While living in Dubai, I have observed that there is ongoing, often informal, trade with Iran and I imagine that this has been going on for centuries (Dubai has been a trading port for much of its history).

    Quote Magnier: War no longer an option for Israel after failures in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen

    Posted on 04/08/2019 by Elijah J Magnier

    During the summer war of 2006, Israel managed to destroy a large number of Hezbollah's rocket and missile stocks. Most Hezbollah missile units were destroyed and, in the suburb of the capital Beirut, over 250 buildings (mainly but not exclusively hosting Hezbollah offices, warehouses and officers' homes) were flattened by Israeli precision bombs targeting Hezbollah (and many civilians) in the suburbs of Beirut. Hundreds of houses were completely destroyed in the south of Lebanon. However, Israel was unable to fulfil its objectives due to the defeat of its infantry which faced harsh resistance and was unable to push deep inland. Moreover, the Kornet anti-tank laser-guided missiles and the "Nour" anti-ship missiles of Hezbollah surprised the enemy, indicating a serious lack of Israeli intelligence and confirming Hezbollah's strong fighting abilities.

    Thirteen years later, the failure of US and Israeli policy in the region means it is no longer possible for Israel to contemplate a direct confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The US and Israel failed to achieve four main goals: regime change in Syria, the partition of Iraq, the defeat of the Houthis in Yemen, the Palestinian "deal of the century". Added to this, Israeli-US rejection of any fair Palestinian state has strengthened Palestinian resolve against Israel.

    Israel has increased its firepower and military capabilities, but Hezbollah also moved from being a tactical local organisation to becoming a strategic player in the Middle East. The group's superior fighting abilities have been enhanced by new military hardware. This has had the effect of rendering war in the Middle East unlikely any time in the near (or medium-term) future.

    The attempt by the US and its partners to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and transform the country into a failed state governed by jihadist Takfiris (ISIS and al-Qaeda groups, who overwhelmed all other rebel and non-jihadist organisations) forced the Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran and Iraq to engage militarily in the Levant. The same scenario repeated itself in Iraq when the US looked on as ISIS grew strong and held on to robust intelligence - the accuracy of which was later confirmed - that ISIS would be migrating from Iraq to Syria after occupying a large part of Iraq. Hezbollah, Iraqi groups and Iranian forces fought in Syria and Iraq to stop the jihadists from expanding and to prevent a direct danger to Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.



    In Iraq - by contrast with prevailing disinformation - ISIS did not occupy the second largest city of Mesopotamia, Mosul. It was a group of organisations, along with a few hundred ISIS fighters, who stole victory from other Sunni groups (mainly the Naqshabandi). They were supported by neighbouring countries and by the Iraqi Kurdish Leader Masoud Barzani, whose aspirations would have been fulfilled by the partition of Iraq into Kurdistan, Sunnistan and Shi-istan.

    Turkey's leadership wanted to reclaim Mosul as part of its ancient Ottoman Empire; Turkey stood to benefit from the occupation of Mosul and the north of Iraq by a group like ISIS. It would not have been difficult at some time in the future to defeat such an organisation lacking any international recognition.

    The Kurdish leader Barzani wanted control of oil-rich Kirkuk and aimed for a self-proclaimed state for the Iraqi Kurds - a state which he later "declared" (but failed to achieve), notwithstanding the defeat of ISIS. Indeed, Barzani praised ISIS during its occupation of Mosul, as a "Sunni revolution" - but he failed to reckon with the fact that the terror group was also aiming to control Kurdistan and Kirkuk.

    The US wanted the north of Iraq divided between a Sunni state and a Kurdish state. They would have never allowed ISIS to expand beyond Baghdad, in order to keep the oil under US control. Southern Iraq would have survived as a small but hopeless Shia canton in the south, notwithstanding its oil and gas wealth, and Iraq would have been eliminated from the map of "Iranian allies", no longer a potential threat to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    The list of benefits to the US and its allies, had Syria disintegrated and been transformed into a jihadist safe haven, was very long. A failed state would have prevented Russia from supplying its oil to Europe via Syria and Turkey. It would have removed Russia's access to warm Mediterranean waters and dislodged its naval base in Tartus. It would have broken up the "Axis of the Resistance" between Iran, Syria and Lebanon. It would have stopped the flow of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and thus prevented the group from re-arming itself and updating its military hardware. It would have isolated the Shia in the south of Iraq from Syria.

    The US coalition could then have watched the movement of jihadist takfiri groups from Syria to Lebanon and keep Hezbollah busy with a sectarian struggle that could have lasted for years, and weakened the enemies of Israel. This would have pushed Lebanese and Syrian Christians to migrate to western countries and abandon the Middle East to future decades of sectarian struggle. The jihadists would have had no objection to the gift of the Golan to Israel. Dismantlement of the Syrian army would have left the Palestinians without any support from Hezbollah, Syria, Iran or Lebanon. With no Syrian or Iraqi armies to fear, with Hezbollah busy domestically and its supply line of weapons cut off, with jihadists providing an easy target and a pretext for war, and with Saudi Arabia on its side, Israel could have expanded and widened its territory at the expense of the Palestinians and of neighbouring countries: no country or force could have stood in its way.

    But these plans failed: Hezbollah moved to Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda. It managed to secure Lebanon by defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS in Arsal and along the Lebanese-Syrian borders. It has secured the land and air passage from Syria to Lebanon for supply of weapons and renewal of its arsenal. It gained tremendous urban, guerrilla and classical fighting skills and trained itself in real combat scenarios to operate alone, with the Syrian army, and with the Russians and Syrians, using classical fighting skills together with air and artillery support. Hezbollah, used to fighting Israel within an area of less than 1,500 sq km in the south of Lebanon, now fought in Syria on over 80,000 sq km of territory.

    But that is not all: During the war imposed on Syria, Hezbollah has invented a rocket with a ton of explosives in its warhead (Burkan-Vulcano) and operationalised it. It has run intensive courses in the use of its drones, used its precision missiles with accuracy, produced thousands of highly trained Special Forces and it has fought an enemy (al-Qaeda) that is much more motivated to fight to the death than any Israeli Special Forces units. Furthermore, Hezbollah established its precision long-range missiles on the well-protected Lebanese-Syrian borders to alleviate the consequences of any future war for the Lebanese cities and villages.

    The failure of the regime change cemented Hezbollah's and Iran's position in Syria to the level of full cooperation with the state, a level never reached in the past. The Syrian government was supported economically by Iran and protected militarily by the Iranian, Lebanese, Iraqi and Russian interventions.

    Today US forces occupy the territory holding most Syrian oil resources in the north-east of the country and Syria is under heavy economic sanctions. Only Iran is rushing to support Syria's economy to prevent it from collapsing by providing oil, constructing pharmaceutical and other industries to support the local economy, and fulfil some basic needs. The US-Israeli policy to cripple the governmentt of Damascus is strengthening the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria relationship, particularly since the US prevented the Arab and Gulf states from returning to Damascus to re-open their embassies, leaving the road open for Iran and Russia to be exclusively represented in the Levant.

    Iran is also building up Syria's missile capability. The current Iran-US tensions have proved that missiles can face down a superior air and naval force and are capable of establishing rules of engagement with a very small investment in comparison with the price of jets and frigates. Indeed, the war in Yemen and the Iran-US crisis both showed how armed drones and missiles can hit far-off targets and fulfil targeting objectives.



    This is exactly what Hezbollah picked up in Lebanon and along the Syrian-Lebanese borders. In 2006 Hezbollah's command made the mistake of building-up strategic warehouses in Syria. Israeli air superiority made the supply of weapons hazardous, as Israel could hit anything moving from the sky. The Syrian war provided Hezbollah with a heavy presence on the borders with long-range precision missile bases; they are now ready to widen the operational theatre in case of war. There is therefore no need for the non-state actor to move its missiles around from Syria to Lebanon.

    In the last years, Israel bombed hundreds of objectives in Syria, including truckloads of weapons transiting to Lebanon, but never without prior warning to the driver before the raid. Israel wanted to avoid human casualties among Hezbollah officers, fully aware of the price of retaliation. Notwithstanding the repetitive attacks, Hezbollah's warehouses are full, according to an Israeli estimate. This means the group has the capacity to fire thousands of rockets and missiles daily over a long war. Israel acknowledges its failure to limit the group's armament supplies and capabilities.

    Lessons have been learned from the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. More military lessons are being drawn from the US-Iran confrontation in the Gulf. Low cost missiles directed towards oil platforms, harbours, transiting ships, airports, electricity facilities, drinking water stations and military bases are today much more effective politically and militarily than hitting civilian targets. Armed drones and precision missiles can be deadly to the most advanced and highly equipped military state. Rockets can be used to saturate Israeli interceptor defensive missile systems. Dozens of rockets can be launched simultaneously, followed by the launch of a few precision missiles against a target. The interceptor system will be saturated, unable to shoot down all the incoming rockets and missiles, thus allowing at least 30-40% of the missiles to go through and hit the desired target, enough to create a real damage and be considered as balance changer. Such saturation techniques can be extremely effective, as all parties recognise.

    The new war is essentially economic; it is a war of sanctions and limiting free movement of ship movements around the globe. It is a war of tankers and oil platforms. It is a starvation war where no one can threaten the enemy with a return to the "stone age" because the firepower is now universally available. Yemen is the best example: the threat of bombing Dubai forced the Emirates to seek Iranian mediation to prevent a missile attack against them. The Houthis, despite years of Saudi bombing of Yemen, have also managed to bomb Saudi airports, military bases and oil stations in the heart of Saudi Arabia, using cruise missiles and armed drones.

    Gaza, along with Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad, are all highly equipped by Tehran with sufficient missiles to inflict real damage on Israel and on US forces deployed in the Middle East. Israel is playing around by targeting various objectives tactically but with no real strategic purpose - only for Netanyahu to keep himself busy and train his Air Force, and to gain publicity in the media. Soon, when Syria recovers and Iraq is stronger, the Israeli promenade will have to cease. Hezbollah in Lebanon may also find a way in the near future to keep its irregular but organised army busy by firing anti-air missiles against Israeli jets and imposing new rules of engagement. It is, however, too early now to challenge Israel in the air because the "Axis of Resistance" alliance works according to priorities, and this stage of the Iran-US crisis is still only beginning. However, as the crisis develops, the new stabilising effect of the deadly and accurate generation of drones and missile threat will make open warfare unlikely.
    From: https://ejmagnier.com/2019/08/04/fro...on-for-israel/
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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    This biographical video on the Ayatollah Khomeini provides a good summary of modern era Iranian history and dealings with major powers. Very interesting and well presented:


    (This channel has many other good videos on interesting historical figures).
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Iranian journalist Nader Talebzadeh interviews Australian political economist about the Middle East and the broader geopolitical picture. A wide ranging interview starts with a focus on the Middle East but then expands to the broader geopolitical context.

    Of particular interest is how sanctions are interpreted as economic war.



    Quote Published on Aug 9, 2019
    Dr. Tim Anderson, an Australian academic and an activist is on Nader’s Show to share his insights as a political economist on the recent issues regarding Western Asia , the US, China and Russia.
    He elaborates on how the US utilizes sanctions as a form of economic war against particular groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria , and Iran.
    Tim Anderson believes that Israel certainly doesn’t have any independent capacity of the US to carry out some sort of aggression against Iran.

    He also explains how the American liberals function in the US and how their reactions toward the Trump administration .

    He also refers to the decision to move the US embassy to Al-Quds and believes Trump took the final step the previous US presidents had hesitated to take.

    Tim Anderson explains the emerging split between liberal Jews in the US and Israeli Jews, of whom Trump is helping to bring those splits to a head.

    In addition to that , he highlights how the US is trying to use economic sanctions as a force of hegemony .

    Dr. Anderson finally elaborates on the network of economic integration between East Asia and Western Europe which in perspective threatens the US .

    ----------------------------

    “Nader’s Show” is hosted by Iranian filmmaker and writer Nader Talebzadeh, who has produced programs for an Iranian audience including a vast number of interviews with the US dissidents and whistleblowers.
    American government couldn't stand his voice of truth thus put sanctions on him to silent his voice, but Nader started a show to be the voice of the voiceless. Voice of the people who has been sanctioned either by governments or by the corporate media.
    In "Nader's Show" he wants to go beyond the borders and let the voices be heard.

    ----------------------------

    Website:
    https://NaderTalebzadeh.com
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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    According to Moon of Alabama, these new long range drones available to the Houthis are a game changer. I'm not sure whether these drones mark the end of the war in Yemen -- I want to see how military experts think about this development.

    Emphasis mine:

    Quote Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen

    Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. This today was the decisive attack:
    Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.
    ...
    The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.
    -- snip --

    Today's attack is a check mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range:
    The field’s distance from rebel-held territory in Yemen demonstrates the range of the Houthis’ drones. U.N. investigators say the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). That puts Saudi oil fields, an under-construction Emirati nuclear power plant and Dubai’s busy international airport within their range.
    -- snip --

    The drones and missiles the Houthi use are copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen with the help of Hizbullah experts from Lebanon. Four days ago a Houthi delegation visited Iran. During the visit Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the first time publicly admitted that the Houthi have Iran's support:
    "I declare my support for the resistance of Yemen's believing men and women ... Yemen’s people... will establish a strong government," state TV quoted Khamenei as saying in a meeting with the visiting chief negotiator of the Houthi movement Mohammed Abdul-Salam
    -- snip --

    Today's attack has an even larger dimension than marking the end of the war on Yemen. That Iran supplied drones with 1,500 kilometer reach to its allies in Yemen means that its allies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq have access to similar means.
    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/0...emen.html#more

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Shifting alliances and players in the Middle East: the new role of China:

    Quote China’s Ultimate Play For Global Oil Market Control
    Posted on August 18, 2019 by Lambert Strether

    Lambert here:
    Quote Both MBS and MBZ consider the last-minute cancellation of the US retaliatory strike [for Iran shooting down a US drone] a personal affront and humiliation because Trump did not accept and follow their positions and demands for action. Both MBS and MBZ are now convinced that not only the US demonstrated weakness and lack of resolve, but that Pres. Trump was personally not committed to fighting Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms.
    ...

    By Yossef Bodansky, Director of Research at the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) and Senior Editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs publications (including the Global Information System: GIS), was, for more than a decade, the Director of the US House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare. Originally published at OilPrice.com.

    All attention is focused on the twists-and-turns of the very noisy US-Iran dispute in the Persian Gulf, but all the while the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is rapidly and quietly consolidating a dominant presence in the area with the active support of Russia.

    Beijing, as a result, is fast acquiring immense influence over related key dynamics such as the price of oil in the world market and the relevance of the petrodollar. The PRC and the Russians are capitalizing on both the growing fears of Iran and the growing mistrust of the US. Hence, the US is already the main loser of the PRC’s gambit.

    The dramatic PRC success can be attributed to the confluence of two major trends:
    1. The quality and relevance of what Beijing can offer to both Iran and the Saudi-Gulf States camp; and
    2. The decision of key Arab leaders — most notably Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz al Sa’ud (aka MBS) and his close ally, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (aka MBZ) — to downgrade their traditional close ties with the US, and reach out to Beijing to provide a substitute strategic umbrella.

    Hence, the PRC offer to oversee and guarantee the establishment of a regional collective security regime — itself based on the Russian proposals and ideas first raised in late July 2019 — is now getting considerable positive attention from both shores of the Persian Gulf. Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Oman appear to be becoming convinced that the PRC could be the key to the long-term stability and prosperity in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula.

    Iran is also considering the expansion of security cooperation with Russia as an added umbrella against potential US retaliation.

    Overall, according to sources in these areas, the US was increasingly perceived as an unpredictable, disruptive element.

    The profound change in the attitude of the Saudi and Emirati ruling families, who for decades have considered themselves pliant protégés of the US, took long to evolve. However, once formulated and adopted, the new policies have been implemented swiftly.

    The main driving issue is the realization by both MBS and MBZ that, irrespective of the reassuring rhetoric of US Pres. Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, their bitter nemesis — Qatar — is far more important to the US than the rest of the conservative Arab monarchies and sheikhdoms of the GCC. The last straw came in early July 2019 in the aftermath of the visit of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to Washington, DC. Sheikh Tamim received an extravagant reception from both Pres. Trump in person and official Washington. Trump lavished praises on Qatar and the Emir, and emphasized the US renewed commitment “to further advancing the high-level strategic cooperation between our two countries”.

    There are good reasons for the US preference of Qatar.

    The Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar is by far the most important US base in the entire greater Middle East. Qatar is mediating between the US and several nemeses, including Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. Qatar is providing “humanitarian cash” to HAMAS in the Gaza Strip, thus buying quiet time for Israel. Qatar has given generous “political shelter” to numerous leaders, seniors, and commanders of questionable entities the US would like to protect but would never acknowledge this (including anti-Russia Chechens and other Caucasians, and anti-China Uighurs).

    Qatari Intelligence is funding and otherwise supporting the various jihadist entities which serve as proxies of the CIA and M?T (Milli ?stihbarat Te?kilat?: the Turkish National Intelligence Organization) in the greater Middle East (mainly Syria, Iraq, Libya, Jordan, Yemen) and Central Asia (mainly Afghanistan-Pakistan, China’s Xinjiang and Russia’s Caucasus and the Turkic peoples of eastern Siberia).

    On top of this, Qatar is purchasing billions of dollars’ worth of US-made weapons; and paying cash on-time (unlike the habitually late Saudis who now cannot afford to pay what they’ve already promised).

    Moreover, the Middle East is awash with rumors that Qatari businessmen saved the financial empire of the Kushner family by investing at least half-a-billion dollars in the 666 5th Avenue project in New York. The rumors are very specific in that the investment was made for political reasons on instruction of the Emir. In the conspiracies-driven Arab Middle East, such rumors are believed and serve as a viable motive for the policies of the Trump White House: an ulterior motive the Saudis and Gulfies cannot challenge.

    The handling by the Trump White House of the Iranian shootdown of the US RQ-4A/BAMS-D Global Hawk drone on June 20, 2019, only exacerbated further the anguish of both MBS and MBZ. Both of them, along with other Arab leaders, urged the Trump White House to strike hard at Iran in retaliation. Both MBS and MBZ communicated in person with the most senior individuals at the White House. They were stunned to learn that Trump communicated directly with Tehran on the possibility of a largely symbolic retaliatory strike, and the prospects of bilateral negotiations.

    Both MBS and MBZ consider the last-minute cancellation of the US retaliatory strike a personal affront and humiliation because Trump did not accept and follow their positions and demands for action. Both MBS and MBZ are now convinced that not only the US demonstrated weakness and lack of resolve, but that Pres. Trump was personally not committed to fighting Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms.

    Furthermore, there is growing trepidation in Saudi Arabia about the viability of the Pakistani guarantees to the Kingdom, particularly concerning nuclear deterrence.

    In the past, Islamabad mediated the Saudi purchase of ballistic missiles from the PRC (procurements which are supported by Pakistani military technicians and security personnel) and had allocated two nuclear warheads for launch from Saudi Arabia in case of an Iranian attack, all in return for lavish Saudi funding of Pakistan’s nuclear and strategic weapons programs.

    However, there has been a profound turnaround in Pakistani policies starting in the Summer of 2019.

    First, Pakistan reached a comprehensive military agreement with Turkey with the latter providing weapons and other military systems, as well as training, in order to replace US and Western systems which were no longer available. In the first area of active cooperation, Turkey mediated modalities for trilateral cooperation (Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan) in fighting Baluchi jihadists and insurgents. Second, Pakistan is expediting the shipping of huge quantities of Iranian gas to western China by mainly using existing pipelines, from the Fars fields to Chabahar, then via the Iran-Pakistan pipeline to Gwadar, and then via the CPEC (the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) pipeline to Xinjiang. As well, Iran and Pakistan cooperate closely in negotiations with various Afghan factions to ameliorate any US achievements in the Doha negotiations with the Taliban.

    Hence, both MBS and MBZ wonder, can Saudi Arabia trust Pakistan to deter and confront Iran and its allies on behalf of Saudi Arabia?

    Concurrently, with the face-off with the US not going away, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamene‘i convened anew the key Iranian leaders in order to reiterate the tenets of Tehran’s strategy and to reinforce their resolve. Khamene‘i stressed his and Iran’s commitment to becoming the leading regional power, and repeated that there was no possibility for a negotiated compromise with the US. In the meeting, Khamene‘i stated “three directives for Iran” which were to be followed and realized under any condition. As reported by authoritative commentator Elijah Magnier, Khamene‘i’s directives are:

    Quote
    1. Adherence to Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment and everything related to this science at all costs. Nuclear enrichment is a sword Iran can hold in the face of the West, which wants to take it from Tehran. It is Iran’s card to obstruct any US intention of ‘obliterating’ Iran.
    2. Continue to develop Iran’s missile capability and ballistic programs. This is Iran’s deterrent weapon that prevents its enemies from waging war against it. Sayyed Ali Khamene‘i considers the missile program a balancing power to prevent harm against Iran.
    3. Support Iran’s allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, and never abandon them, because they are essential to Iran’s national security.
    Elijah Magnier further explained that “Sayyed Khamene‘i recommended these commandments to preserve the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that each of these three items is equally important for the safety of Iran, its existence and continuity, and national and strategic security.”

    The aggregate objective of these three directives, Khamene‘i elaborated, was to enable and expedite the ascent of Iran as a regional power. The Iranian strategic ascent would manifest itself by tight control over both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al Mandab, as well as the entire Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea; that is, controlling the region’s oil and gas exports. Emboldened, the Iranians would intensify their demands for the return of “traditional Iranian territory”, starting with Bahrain [even though the Iranian Government of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi had formally relinquished its claim on Bahrain in 1970 — Ed.].

    There can be expected to be growing demands from Tehran to empower the Shi’ite population of the eastern Arabian Peninsula — where all the oil and gas reserves are located — in accordance with Iran’s long-term commitment to the establishing of an Islamic Republic of Eastern Arabia.1 These are all traditional long-term demands of Iran. The novelty in Khamene‘i’s most recent address is the assertiveness and immediacy of the Iranian quest to meet these demands.

    The importance and essence of Khamene‘i’s message spread across the Persian Gulf quickly. Consequently, both MBS and MBZ are cognizant that Khamene‘i’s Tehran was unlikely to compromise or go back on these commitments and objectives. There was no similar indication of resolve coming from Trump’s Washington. Thus, MBS, MBZ and most other Arab leaders had become increasingly convinced that the US would sooner or later withdraw from the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East. The current bluster and assertiveness of the Trump Administration could not negate the overall trend: that of the US disengagement and withdrawal.

    The Arab leaders believe that the US would empower Israel as a subcontractor, but Israel has its own priorities and vital interests. Michael Young articulated the perception of the region’s leaders in the August 7, 2019, issue of The National of the UAE. “A new regional security order is emerging, with Israel taking a much more interventionist approach and playing a military rôle partly replacing that previously fulfilled by Washington, particularly with regard to Iran. Israel’s efforts to counter Iran have paralleled those of a number of Arab states, with all sides adapting to a new situation in which the US has decided to militarily disengage from the Middle East.”

    Both MBS and MBZ concluded that they need a far stronger strategic umbrella than the US and Israel could offer in order to survive in the era of Iran’s ascent.

    As a result, MBZ reached out to Beijing in early July 2019. After comprehensive preparatory negotiations, MBZ arrived in Beijing on July 20, 2019, for a milestone visit in which he met PRC Pres. Xi Jinping for lengthy discussions. According to PRC senior officials, Mohammed bin Zayed and Xi Jinping “elevated the two countries’ relationship to that of a strategic partnership”. The key outcome was the UAE’s acceptance of the dominance of the PRC and Russia in the Persian Gulf.

    “The UAE and China are moving towards a promising future,” MBZ said in his concluding meeting with Xi Jinping. His visit aimed at “developing co-operation and a comprehensive strategic partnership, as well as opening new horizons for joint action in various sectors,” MBZ explained. Xi Jinping responded by stressing “the profound significance of China-Arab relations”. The PRC and the UAE would now work closely together to transform the Persian Gulf into “a security oasis” rather than a new “source of turmoil”.

    Significantly, Xi Jinping referred to “a hundred years of grand plan” when describing the PRC’s relations with the UAE. MBZ also signed a large number of bilateral agreements, both economic and strategic.

    While in Beijing, Mohammed bin Zayed asked Xi Jinping to mediate a deal with Tehran in order to negate the US-driven escalation and possible war. The PRC moved very fast, and within a few days dispatched to Tehran a high-ranking delegation led by the head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Song Tao. His mandate was to discuss the new security regime for the Persian Gulf, as well as the conditions for increasing PRC purchase of Iranian oil in disregard of the US sanctions. On the Iranian side, Song Tao’s official host was the highly influential Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei. This meant that Khamene‘i was directly involved. Song Tao stayed in Tehran for three days and met with a large number of senior officials, mostly members of Khamene‘i’s innermost circle of confidants and advisors.

    All the Iranian officials were very assertive regarding Iran’s resolve to withstand US pressure at all cost, and eager for PRC cooperation in stabilizing the region and preventing war.

    Rezaei articulated Iran’s strategy. “Any kind of insecurity and conflict in this region would carry harm to global peace and security,” he stated. “Americans and Britain have been fanning the flames of war in the Persian Gulf region and they want to pretend they have control over the Strait of Hormuz and the movement of vessels. Of course, we do not allow this to happen. In the meantime, we expect cooperation from our friends in China.

    He hoped for Chinese cooperation in preventing escalation. Should such cooperation fail to materialize, Iran would have to act boldly. “Persian Gulf security is our security and we have to respond to their attacks and destabilizing actions in order to maintain security,” Rezaei stated. Tehran’s preference is for the PRC to help in securing “free shipping and security in the Persian Gulf”.

    The Head of Iran’s Foreign Policy Strategic Council, Kamal Kharrazi, reminded Song Tao that “both Iran and China are opposed to US’s unilateralism and hegemony”.

    Hence, both countries should work closely together in confronting the US. The Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, also stressed that close cooperation “can help counter the US animosity and neutralize its consequences”. He suggested that Russia should be brought into the new security regime in the Persian Gulf. Larijani urged the PRC to expedite its anti-US intervention in the Persian Gulf because “success of this plan is contingent upon practical steps”. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted “the two countries’ common strategic outlook toward international developments”, and urged close cooperation in order to reverse “Washington’s attempts to impose its own hegemony on the world”.

    All the Iranian officials had no problem with some form of rapprochement with the UAE and Saudi Arabia provided they did neither participate in a war against Iran, nor permit the US to use their territory and bases for strikes against Iran and Iranian proxies.

    The PRC delegation was impressed by the Iranian eagerness to cooperate and to accept a PRC umbrella.

    Song Tao told his interlocutors that “the mission of the delegation is to strengthen the strategic coordination and dialogue between the two countries and we are willing to confront challenges and problems together”. He agreed with the imperative to jointly confront the US, and accepted the need to move fast jointly. Song Tao concurred that “there are complicated and rapid developments happening on the international stage that have created challenges for the countries of China and Iran, but our resolve and determination is to support Iran’s legal and legitimate rights to development and progress”. Song Tao promised to discuss in Beijing concrete ideas how to improve and expand the PRC’s policy of “long-term strategic” ties with Iran in view of the current situation in the Persian Gulf.

    By now, the PRC Government had already organized the first meeting between Emirati and Iranian senior officials. First, on July 26, 2019, an Emirati “peace delegation” arrived in Tehran for secret discussions on the new modalities of bilateral relations, new security regimes in the Persian Gulf and Yemen (from where the UAE is withdrawing to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia), and overall GCC-Iran relations. The emphasis was on crisis management and the prevention of accidental escalation in the Persian Gulf. On July 30, 2019, the UAE dispatched a high-level Coast Guard delegation to Tehran.

    Officially, the two sides discussed maritime border control and patrolling in order to avoid misunderstandings and clashes. The delegation included an undeclared senior emissary of MBZ. He assured his Iranian interlocutors that the UAE was ready for a fundamental change of relationship with Iran including a “rapprochement” and expansion of trade. The UAE also committed to distancing from the US, accepting PRC influence in the entire region, and working with Iran for a regional security regime.

    One of the key issues raised with the Emirati delegation in Tehran was the Saudi position. The UAE emissary asserted that all of the recent activities, including the request for PRC mediation, were the outcome of close coordination between MBZ and MBS. However, he explained, given the close relations between MBS and the Trump White House, MBS felt more constrained in making a dramatic shift the way MBZ did.

    Therefore, on July 31, 2019, Zarif offered an olive branch.

    He declared that “Iran is prepared for dialogue if Saudi Arabia is also ready”.
    He repeated the message in an interview with the official IRNA. “If Saudi Arabia is ready for talks, Iran is always ready for negotiation with neighbors,” Zarif stated. Tehran “is interested in cooperation with [her] neighbors.” Just to be on the safe side, the next day — August 1, 2019 — Iran sent a reminder of the alternative. The Houthis launched a ballistic missile attack on Saudi military positions near Dammam city.

    Located in the Shi’ite area on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Dammam is a critical center of the Saudi oil infrastructure, including a major oil port. Riyadh got the message. Hence, on August 3, 2019, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash stated that “the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia prefer a political approach to their problems with Iran”.

    Iran acted on the message. High-level emissaries traveled secretly to Mecca in early August 2019 as part of the Iranian delegation to prepare for the Hajj (August 9-14, 2019). They held secret talks about the future of the Persian Gulf with Saudi senior officials. These talks were personally supervised and micromanaged by MBS, who made all the decisions and determined the Saudi positions. Although the Saudis were forthcoming, and repeatedly expressed their desire to avoid escalation and fighting, they were also reticent to break with the US.

    Simply put, the Saudis — reflecting the persona of MBS — were risk-averse and incapable of making concrete decisions. They neither said “no” to anything, nor did they commit to anything concrete.

    The Iranian negotiators were encouraged by the overall spirit of the negotiations, but frustrated with the slow progress of the discussions. Therefore, on August 7, 2019, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif taunted Riyadh. He urged Saudi Arabia to make its own decision rather than be subservient to the US.

    “Some countries see their future and security hinged upon dependence and regard security as something purchasable, and think that they can maintain their security by paying money and buying weapons and learn nothing from history,” Zarif said. “How come [Saudi Arabia] did not realize that money does not bring security?” The Saudi posture is in stark contrast to the posture of the Islamic Republic of Iran. “We never buy security, nor do we sell security because we derive our security, development, and legitimacy from [our] people,” Zarif concluded.

    One of the reasons Tehran felt confident to prod both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi was that both were by now engulfed in a major crisis concerning the US. For a long time, MBS, MBZ and their close aides suspected that the US was hiding major matters from them. While the Trump White House kept demanding uncompromising confrontation with Tehran and warning against any and all contacts, MBS and MBZ suspected that Washington was not itself following these principles. Both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have long known about active channels and mediation efforts by Doha, but whenever the subject came up, Trump’s Washington would assure them that the Qatar channel was only procedural and not much different from the US interests office in the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

    Then, on August 5, 2019, the US Ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, dropped the bomb.

    “We have direct communication channels with Tehran
    ,” he acknowledged. And these are not simple channels. While diplomatic discussions and de facto negotiations are taking place via the good services of Doha, the back-channel in Baghdad was specifically with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC: Pasdaran) Qods Force. These contacts were aimed to minimize the likelihood of clashes and misunderstandings in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Persian Gulf. This venue was most logical because the local Iranian Ambassador is Brig. Gen. Iraj Masjedi who is the right-hand man and deputy of Qods Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

    According to Iraqi senior officials, some of the US-Iranian communications regarding the aftermath of the shoot-down of the US drone were held via this venue. The US also used this channel to try and convince Tehran not to attack the US forces in al-Tanf (southern Syria) and in the Ein al-Assad Air Base and adjacent bases (western Iraq).

    Both Riyadh and Doha were stunned and humiliated because the Trump White House did not bother to inform them of the Baghdad back-channel, while pressuring them to avoid all contacts and negotiations with Iran.

    Another reason for the growing self-confidence and assertiveness of Iran was the most recent evolution of its strategic relations with Russia. On July 28, 2019, the Commander of the Iranian Navy, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi, was in Russia, ostensibly for the Navy Day celebrations. He conducted major discussions about a new level of military cooperation specifically in order to counter the US Navy threats.

    At the end of the visit, Khanzadi reported in Tehran: “Iranian and Russian armed forces have signed a ‘classified’ deal to expand cooperation through a series of projects, one of which will be joint military drills in the Persian Gulf before the end of the year.” “Some articles of this agreement are classified, but overall, it is aimed at expanding military cooperation between the two countries.”

    Khanzadi termed the new agreements a “turning point” in the “military-to-military ties between Iran and Russia”. The agreement includes Russian-Iranian joint naval maneuvers to be held in the northern part of the Indian Ocean and in the Strait of Hormuz before the end of 2019. A major part of the classified agreement concerned giving the Russian Navy base-level installations in the Iranian Navy facilities in Chabahar, Bandar-e-Bushehr, and in the Strait of Hormuz (Bandar-e-Jask and/or Bandar Abbas).

    The Russian Navy would also be able to use a Naval Aviation airbase near Bandar-e-Bushehr. In addition to technical, logistics and communications personnel, Russia would keep in these bases SPETSNAZ detachments for both local security and the ability to help Russian and allied ships in distress in the Persian Gulf.

    On August 3, 2019, Khamene‘i’s closest aides conducted sensitive talks with a secret delegation of Russian officials. Tehran wanted to ascertain the Russian reaction to a US attack on Iran in case of a major escalation. “[An] attack on Iran would be an attack on Russia,” the Russians stated without equivocation. Hence, Khamene‘i formally approved and ratified the new agreements with Russia on August 4, 2019. Khamene‘i also authorized follow-up high-level discussions in Moscow about jointly implementing the Russian “proposed security plan for the Persian Gulf”, while adapting it to the new agreement with the PRC. The first rounds of discussions took place on August 6-7, 2019.

    Russia, it was clear, had no problem with the new PRC rôle and stature in the Persian Gulf.

    Meanwhile, the continued contacts with Washington reinforced Tehran’s conviction that a major confrontation in the greater Middle East remained possible despite the day-to-day cooling down of the situation in the Persian Gulf. Khamene‘i instructed better coordination of the diplomatic and military preparations for the next phase.

    The new challenge for the IRGC was to up-date the contingency plans for the confrontation and war with the US and Israel under the new conditions where the US could no longer use bases in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain (on top of Qatar and Iraq which had long ago announced they would not permit the US to use their territories and installations for strikes against Iran). It was imperative for the Qods Force to ascertain firsthand how confident Tehran was about the new position of the Arab royals from across the Gulf.

    As a result, on August 6, 2019, Qassem Soleimani met Mohammed Javad Zarif at the Foreign Ministry in downtown Tehran.

    They discussed coordination of forthcoming regional crises and diplomatic initiatives. They agreed that the current dynamic vis-à-vis the US could lead to either a US capitulation and withdrawal, or to a major escalation all over the greater Middle East. Soleimani believed the latter option was more likely. Therefore, Soleimani and Zarif discussed how to better utilize the Russian and PRC umbrella to not only shield Iran against US onslaught, but to also convince the Arab states to stay out of the fighting.

    Soleimani assured Zarif that “the IRGC’s Qods Force is fully supportive of the diplomatic apparatus of the country in all encounters against the US harsh policies”. In a brief photo-op, Soleimani addressed the newly-imposed US sanctions on Zarif, and “congratulated the Foreign Minister on becoming a target of the US anger and animosity because of [his] affiliation with [the] Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamene‘i”.

    In early August 2019, the Gulf sheikhdoms and Saudi Arabia agreed to seek and accept the PRC umbrella as proposed to them, and so notified Beijing. According to the plan, the PRC would provide an overall umbrella capable of containing and restraining the US, while Russia would join China in calming down Iran and ameliorating threats to the Arabs.

    Among the Arab leaders involved, Mohammed bin Zayed was the most enthusiastic and active in embracing the new regional order which was effectively anti-US. Mohammad bin Salman followed, but somewhat hesitantly. MBS was afraid to acknowledge the collapse of what he had perceived to be his close personal relations with the upper-most echelons of the Trump White House: that is, Trump and Kushner.

    On August 6, 2019, the PRC Ambassador to Tehran, Chang Hua, delivered the decision of the Forbidden City to play the active and leading rôle in the establishment of a new regime of collective security in the Persian Gulf.

    Beijing was convinced, he stated, that “any projects and initiatives that aim to strengthen security in the Persian Gulf must be proposed and carried out by the regional countries themselves”. Chang Hua explained that “the Chinese side, as President Xi Jinping has said, is hopeful that the Persian Gulf will remain a region of peace and security”. The PRC was ready to actively contribute to the sustenance of peace and security in this crucial area. “The Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are the most critical channel and gateway in the world for transferring energy; therefore, they are significant for the world’s policy-making, security and economy,” Chang Hua concluded.

    The PRC also started to implement specific undertakings.

    First came the decision to increase the importation of Iranian oil, not only to help an ally in distress, but also as an affront to the United States. According to PRC senior officials in Beijing: “China continues oil imports from Iran to show independence from US sanctions.” The PRC also agreed to purchase oil with yuans, euros, and other currencies in order to reduce their vulnerability to US financial sanctions. The PRC would continue to import its Iranian crude via at least a dozen Iranian tankers also in order to demonstrate to all that “China [is] a country powerful enough to bust US sanctions”.

    Moreover, the anticipated large-scale PRC imports of Iranian crude would have a major impact on the price of oil. Experts in the US and Europe concluded that under such circumstances, the oil price could sink by as much as $30 a barrel. The experts worried that the PRC might decide to purchase large quantities of Iranian oil as a retaliation for the trade/tariff war with the US.

    “This decision would both undermine US foreign policy and cushion the negative terms-of-trade effects on the Chinese economy of rising US tariffs,” concluded a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report. Significantly, the original price estimate discussed between the US and Saudi Arabia was $60 a barrel. That estimate was based on the idea that increased Saudi and US oil production would fill the gap created by the imposition of the US sanctions on Iranian oil. But the PRC commitment to buying more Iranian oil invalidated this plan. Thus, while the UAE was willing to accept such a price drop as a necessary evil needed to prevent a calamitous regional war, Saudi Arabia was furious, given its financial woes which the oil price hike could have eased.

    Meanwhile, also on August 6, 2019, the PRC Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Ni Jian, formally informed Abu Dhabi that, should there be a deterioration in the security situation, the PRC’s PLA Navy would start escorting tankers and other commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf. “If there happens to be a very unsafe situation, we will consider having our navy escort our commercial vessels,” Ni Jian stated.

    Officially, Beijing did not rule out coordination with the US-led initiative to escort tankers through the Strait of Hormuz. However, given the PRC commitment to buying and shipping Iranian oil that the US initiative was intended to prevent, the prospects for PRC cooperation would probably be nil. Ni Jian emphasized the PRC support for regional security arrangements and regional negotiations of the type the UAE has with Iran. “We have the position that all disputes should be sorted by peaceful means and by political discussions, not … military actions,” Ni Jian concluded.

    Beijing’s agreeing to assume a major, and, for the PRC, unprecedented, rôle in the Persian Gulf comes at a crucial time for the PLA.

    On July 28, 2019, the PRC issued a major White Paper titled China’s National Defense in the New Era. The document constituted an authoritative statement regarding the PRC’s military reforms and strategic aspirations under the leadership of Xi Jinping.

    For the first time, an official PRC defense document acknowledged the rivalry with the US military and clearly articulated China’s long-term goal to confront and challenge “US dominance”. These goals would be attained through, among other things, the expansion of the PRC “power projection capabilities”, particularly the Navy’s. The White Paper heralded a significant shift in maritime strategy from “near seas defense” to “the combination of near seas defense and far seas protection”. Adopting the “far seas” strategy, the White Paper stated, would enable the PRC to “build itself into a maritime power”.

    Xi Jinping’s longer-term objective was for the PLA to become a global force. With the new rôle in the Persian Gulf, Xi Jinping’s PRC was taking a major step toward attaining this goal.
    From: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019...t-control.html
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Quote Trump administration preparing for talks with Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen: report

    The Trump administration is preparing to initiate negotiations with Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in an effort to bring the four-year civil war in Yemen to an end, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

    The effort is reportedly aimed at convincing Saudi Arabia to take part in secret talks with the rebels in Oman to help broker a cease-fire in the conflict, which has emerged as a front line in the regional proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran.
    https://thehill.com/policy/internati...for-talks-with


    Quote Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Defeat In Yemen - Starts To Sue For Peace

    August 29, 2019

    Two weeks ago we wrote that war on Yemen will soon end. The Saudis lost their ally, they lost the war and would have to sue for peace. They are now doing so. But they fighting in Yemen will continue until that country finds a new balance.

    Today the United Arab Emirates airforce bombed the Yemeni proxy forces of its 'ally' Saudi Arabia:
    Yemen's internationally recognized government accused the Emirati air force of attacking its troops Thursday as they were heading to the key southern port city of Aden to fight separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates. The airstrikes killed at least 30 government forces, a Yemeni commander said.
    ...
    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/0...or-peace-.html

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Speculation from Pepe Escobar on the ramifications of the Yemeni strike on Saudi oil facilities; some of it is the usual speculation from Pepe but it is interesting to consider the wider consequences.

    Quote How the Houthis overturned the chessboard
    September 18, 2019
    by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

    The Yemeni Shiite group’s spectacular attack on Abqaiq raises the distinct possibility of a push to drive the House of Saud from power


    A Yemeni Shiite man holds his weapon and a flag with an Arabic inscription reading ‘Disgrace is far from us,’ as he takes part in a religious procession held by Houthi rebels to mark the first day of Ashura. Photo: Hani Al-Ansi/dpa

    We are the Houthis and we’re coming to town. With the spectacular attack on Abqaiq, Yemen’s Houthis have overturned the geopolitical chessboard in Southwest Asia – going as far as introducing a whole new dimension: the distinct possibility of investing in a push to drive the House of Saud out of power.

    Blowback is a bitch. Houthis – Zaidi Shiites from northern Yemen – and Wahhabis have been at each other’s throats for ages. This book is absolutely essential to understand the mind-boggling complexity of Houthi tribes; as a bonus, it places the turmoil in southern Arabian lands way beyond a mere Iran-Saudi proxy war.

    Still, it’s always important to consider that Arab Shiites in the Eastern province – working in Saudi oil installations – have got to be natural allies of the Houthis fighting against Riyadh.

    Houthi striking capability – from drone swarms to ballistic missile attacks – has been improving remarkably for the past year or so. It’s not by accident that the UAE saw which way the geopolitical and geoeconomic winds were blowing: Abu Dhabi withdrew from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s vicious war against Yemen and now is engaged in what it describes as a “peace-first” strategy.

    Even before Abqaiq, the Houthis had already engineered quite a few attacks against Saudi oil installations as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports. In early July, Yemen’s Operations Command Center staged an exhibition in full regalia in Sana’a featuring their whole range of ballistic and winged missiles and drones.


    The Saudi Ministry of Defense displays drones and parts from missiles used in the refinery attack.

    The situation has now reached a point where there’s plenty of chatter across the Persian Gulf about a spectacular scenario: the Houthis investing in a mad dash across the Arabian desert to capture Mecca and Medina in conjunction with a mass Shiite uprising in the Eastern oil belt. That’s not far-fetched anymore. Stranger things have happened in the Middle East. After all, the Saudis can’t even win a bar brawl – that’s why they rely on mercenaries.

    Orientalism strikes again

    The US intel refrain that the Houthis are incapable of such a sophisticated attack betrays the worst strands of orientalism and white man’s burden/superiority complex.

    The only missile parts shown by the Saudis so far come from a Yemeni Quds 1 cruise missile. According to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, spokesman for the Sana’a-based Yemeni Armed Forces, “the Quds system proved its great ability to hit its targets and to bypass enemy interceptor systems.”


    This satellite overview handout image from the US government shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq.

    Houthi armed forces duly claimed responsibility for Abqaiq: “This operation is one of the largest operations carried out by our forces in the depth of Saudi Arabia, and came after an accurate intelligence operation and advance monitoring and cooperation of honorable and free men within the Kingdom.”

    Notice the key concept: “cooperation” from inside Saudi Arabia – which could include the whole spectrum from Yemenis to that Eastern province Shiites.

    Even more relevant is the fact that massive American hardware deployed in Saudi Arabia inside out and outside in – satellites, AWACS, Patriot missiles, drones, battleships, jet fighters – didn’t see a thing, or certainly not in time. The sighting of three “loitering” drones by a Kuwaiti bird hunter arguably heading towards Saudi Arabia is being invoked as “evidence”. Cue to the embarrassing picture of a drone swarm – wherever it came from – flying undisturbed for hours over Saudi territory.

    UN officials openly admit that now everything that matters is within the 1,500 km range of the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone: oil fields in Saudi Arabia, a still-under-construction nuclear power plant in the Emirates and Dubai’s mega-airport.

    My conversations with sources in Tehran over the past two years have ascertained that the Houthis’ new drones and missiles are essentially copies of Iranian designs assembled in Yemen itself with crucial help from Hezbollah engineers.

    US intel insists that 17 drones and cruise missiles were launched in combination from southern Iran. In theory, Patriot radar would have picked that up and knocked the drones/missiles from the sky. So far, absolutely no record of this trajectory has been revealed. Military experts generally agree that the radar on the Patriot missile is good, but its success rate is “disputed” – to say the least. What’s important, once again, is that the Houthis do have advanced offensive missiles. And their pinpoint accuracy at Abqaiq was uncanny.


    This satellite overview handout image shows damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia. Courtesy of Planet Labs Inc

    For now, it appears that the winner of the US/UK-supported House of One Saudi war on the civilian Yemeni population, which started in March 2015 and generated a humanitarian crisis the UN regards as having been of biblical proportions, is certainly not the crown prince, widely known as MBS.

    Listen to the general

    Crude oil stabilization towers – several of them – at Abqaiq were specifically targeted, along with natural gas storage tanks. Persian Gulf energy sources have been telling me repairs and/or rebuilding could last months. Even Riyadh admitted as much.

    Blindly blaming Iran, with no evidence, does not cut it. Tehran can count on swarms of top strategic thinkers. They do not need or want to blow up Southwest Asia, which is something they could do, by the way: Revolutionary Guards generals have already said many times on the record that they are ready for war.

    Professor Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, who has very close relations with the Foreign Ministry, is adamant: “It didn’t come from Iran. If it did, it would be very embarrassing for the Americans, showing they are unable to detect a large number of Iranian drones and missiles. That doesn’t make sense.”

    Marandi additionally stresses, “Saudi air defenses are not equipped to defend the country from Yemen but from Iran. The Yemenis have been striking against the Saudis, they are getting better and better, developing drone and missile technology for four and a half years, and this was a very soft target.”

    A soft – and unprotected – target: the US PAC-2 and PAC-3 systems in place are all oriented towards the east, in the direction of Iran. Neither Washington nor Riyadh knows for sure where the drone swarm/missiles really came from.

    Readers should pay close attention to this groundbreaking interview with General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. The interview, in Farsi (with English subtitles), was conducted by US-sanctioned Iranian intellectual Nader Talebzadeh and includes questions forwarded by my US analyst friends Phil Giraldi and Michael Maloof and myself.

    Explaining Iranian self-sufficiency in its defense capabilities, Hajizadeh sounds like a very rational actor. The bottom line: “Our view is that neither American politicians nor our officials want a war. If an incident like the one with the drone [the RQ-4N shot down by Iran in June] happens or a misunderstanding happens, and that develops into a larger war, that’s a different matter. Therefore we are always ready for a big war.”

    In response to one of my questions, on what message the Revolutionary Guards want to convey, especially to the US, Hajizadeh does not mince his words: “In addition to the US bases in various regions like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Emirates and Qatar, we have targeted all naval vessels up to a distance of 2,000 kilometers and we are constantly monitoring them. They think that if they go to a distance of 400 km, they are out of our firing range. Wherever they are, it only takes one spark, we hit their vessels, their airbases, their troops.”

    Get your S-400s or else

    On the energy front, Tehran has been playing a very precise game under pressure – selling loads of oil by turning off the transponders of their tankers as they leave Iran and transferring the oil at sea, tanker to tanker, at night, and relabeling their cargo as originating at other producers for a price. I have been checking this for weeks with my trusted Persian Gulf traders – and they all confirm it. Iran could go on doing it forever.

    Of course, the Trump administration knows it. But the fact is they are looking the other way. To state it as concisely as possible: they are caught in a trap by the absolute folly of ditching the JCPOA, and they are looking for a face-saving way out. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned the administration in so many words: the US should return to the agreement it reneged on before it’s too late.

    And now for the really hair-raising part.

    The strike at Abqaiq shows that the entire Middle East production of over 18 million barrels of oil a day – including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – can be easily knocked out. There is zero adequate defense against these drones and missiles.

    Well, there’s always Russia.

    Here’s what happened at the press conference after the Ankara summit this week on Syria, uniting Presidents Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan.
    Question: Will Russia provide Saudi Arabia with any help or support in restoring its infrastructure?

    President Putin: As for assisting Saudi Arabia, it is also written in the Quran that violence of any kind is illegitimate except when protecting one’s people. In order to protect them and the country, we are ready to provide the necessary assistance to Saudi Arabia. All the political leaders of Saudi Arabia have to do is take a wise decision, as Iran did by buying the S-300 missile system, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did when he bought Russia’s latest S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft system. They would offer reliable protection for any Saudi infrastructure facilities.

    President Hassan Rouhani: So do they need to buy the S-300 or the S-400?

    President Vladimir Putin: It is up to them to decide [laughs].
    In The Transformation of War, Martin van Creveld actually predicted that the whole industrial-military-security complex would come crumbling down when it was exposed that most of its weapons are useless against fourth-generation asymmetrical opponents. There’s no question the whole Global South is watching – and will have gotten the message.

    Hybrid war, reloaded

    Now we are entering a whole new dimension in asymmetric hybrid war.

    In the – horrendous – event that Washington would decide to attack Iran, egged on by the usual neocon suspects, the Pentagon could never hope to hit and disable all the Iranian and/or Yemeni drones. The US could expect, for sure, all-out war. And then no ships would sail through the Strait of Hormuz. We all know the consequences of that.

    Which brings us to The Big Surprise. The real reason there would be no ships traversing the Strait of Hormuz is that there would be no oil in the Gulf left to pump. The oil fields, having been bombed, would be burning.

    So we’re back to the realistic bottom line, which has been stressed by not only Moscow and Beijing but also Paris and Berlin: US President Donald Trump gambled big time, and he lost. Now he must find a face-saving way out. If the War Party allows it.
    From: http://thesaker.is/how-the-houthis-o...he-chessboard/

    ~~~

    By way of additional information on the second from last paragraph, I heard elsewhere that should the Saudi oil industry go offline for a significant period of time, there are sufficient replacement sources and oil and gas fields in other parts of the world to replace this volume in a span of three to four months.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    By way of additional information on the second from last paragraph, I heard elsewhere that should the Saudi oil industry go offline for a significant period of time, there are sufficient replacement sources and oil and gas fields in other parts of the world to replace this volume in a span of three to four months.
    But in this case the Saudis would lose a part of their market share.

    Quote Meanwhile, to continue serving its customers, Saudi Arabia has had to make adjustments to a few orders. Aramco recently told one oil refinery in India that it couldn't deliver the premium-grade Arab light crude the refinery had ordered. Instead, it would need to accept lower-grade crude instead. Adjustments to crude grades have been relatively common over the past week. Aramco even replaced five cargoes of Arab Light with heavy crude from Ras Tanura. Two of those were destined for China.

    But given the fierce competition for market share in the modern oil market, it makes sense that Saudi Arabia wouldn't want to risk allowing its customers to shop elsewhere.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/def...other-products

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    ...

    ... always the same instigators and culprits for market manipulations, from (here):
    Starting in 2014, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia flooded the market with cheap oil. This is not a mere business decision, but a calculated move coordinated with U.S. and Israeli foreign policy goals. Despite not just losing money, but even falling deep into debt, the Saudi monarchy continues to expand its oil production apparatus. The result has been driving the price of oil down from $110 per barrel, to $28 in the early months of this year. The goal is to weaken these opponents of Wall Street, London, and Tel Aviv, whose economies are centered around oil and natural gas exports.

    And Venezuela is one of those countries. Saudi efforts to drive down oil prices have drastically reduced Venezuela's state budget and led to enormous consequences for the Venezuelan economy.
    Now that sanctions are in place all over the place...
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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Middle East Eye reports that Saudi Arabia and Iran may begin talks facilitated by Iraq.

    Quote EXCLUSIVE: Saudi Arabia gives 'green light' for talks with Iran
    Official in Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's office confirms Baghdad has channels with both sides and is seeking to arrange meeting


    Adel Abdul Mahdi met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah last week (SPA)

    By Mustafa Abu Sneineh , Simon Hooper
    Published date: 1 October 2019 10:35 UTC | Last update: 2 days 12 hours ago

    Saudi Arabia has given a green light to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to arrange a meeting with Iran as a first step towards de-escalating tensions in the region, Middle East Eye can reveal.

    Abbas al-Hasnawi, an official in the prime minister's office, told MEE on Tuesday that Abdul Mahdi was mediating between the leaderships in Riyadh and Tehran and had communicated each side's conditions for talks to the other.

    Hasnawi was speaking after a spokesperson for the Iranian government said on Monday that Saudi Arabia had sent messages to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani via “the leaders of some countries”.

    Hasnawi confirmed to MEE that Abdul Mahdi was acting as an intermediary with the aim of easing tensions since attacks on Saudi oil facilities blamed on Iran earlier this month appeared to have tilted the Gulf rivals closer to open conflict.

    'Channels with both sides'
    "The Iraqi leadership has channels with both sides. Our Sunni brothers [in the government] liaise with the Saudis and our Shia brothers with the Iranians," he said.

    "The Saudis have conditions before the negotiations process starts and the same with Iranians. We have liaised these conditions to each side. It is not an easy task to get together two opposite sides in terms of their ideology, sect and their alliances in the region."

    Hasnawi said Abdul Mahdi had called for a meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran which the Iraqi government would supervise and mediate, with Baghdad as its preferred venue.

    "The Saudis have given the green light in this matter, and Mr Abdul Mahdi is working on it," said Hasnawi, adding that Saudi Arabia, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had "calmed their rhetoric" in recent days.

    Abdul Mahdi was last week in Jeddah for talks with the Saudi crown prince.

    Hasnawi said that the US government had also approved negotiations between the two sides. Falih Alfayyadh, Iraq's advisor for national security, is currently in Washington to discuss a timeline for the meetings, he added.

    "If there will be a potential deal in the region that includes Yemen, Syria and Iraq, the Americans have no problem with that," Hasnawi said.

    Baghdad 'the best place'
    Hasnawi said Abdul Mahdi hoped to host a meeting in Baghdad but a location had yet to be agreed.

    "Baghdad is the best place for this meeting, but I can’t confirm it will be. In the beginning, there will be meetings between officials of both countries, and then a deal will be made. Leaders of Saudi Arabia and Iran will meet to sign it."

    Hasnawi said that both sides had set out conditions as a starting point for negotiations.

    "Saudi Arabia’s conditions are that Iran minimise its role in Yemen and Syria and stop supporting armed groups such as the Houthis. It also asks the Syrian regime to solve its problems with the Syrian opposition groups, and to write a constitution for Syria with all parties agreeing on it," he said.

    The back-channel contacts between Riyadh and Tehran follow this month's devastating attacks on Saudi oil fields, which Saudi Arabia and the US have blamed on Iran.

    Iran denies involvement in the attacks, which were initially claimed by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

    However, Iraqi security sources told MEE at the time that the attacks were launched from bases in southern Iraq controlled by Iranian-backed militias.

    But leaders in both Saudi Arabia and Iran have indicated in recent days that their countries are open to talks aimed at de-escalating regional tensions.

    Political solution preferable
    In an interview with the CBS network broadcast on Sunday, Mohammed bin Salman said that “a political and peaceful solution is much better than a military one”, calling on Iran to end its support for the Houthis in Yemen.

    He suggested that a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would mean the “total collapse of the global economy”.

    On Tuesday, Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani told Al Jazeera that Iran welcomed the crown prince’s apparent willingness to talk.

    “We welcome Mohammed bin Salman being quoted as saying he wants to resolve issues through talks with Tehran," Larijani was quoted as saying.

    Iran’s foreign ministry has also suggested it is open to multilateral talks involving the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia’s key regional ally.

    “We are ready to hold talks with countries, especially the Emirates, in a group or separately and eliminate the misunderstandings,” foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said in a weekly press conference.

    'Between the rock and a hard place'
    Abdul Mahdi has been working for months to prevent his country becoming a battleground for a proxy war between the US and Iran.

    According to Iraqi security sources spoken to by MEE, the US military earlier this year signalled its intention to him to strike an air field held by Iraq's Kataeb Hezbollah militia after drone strikes on oil facilities in the Gulf.

    Abdul Mahdi was reported by witnesses to the exchange to have told the Americans that he could not stop them striking wherever they wanted, but neither could he prevent retaliatory strikes by Iranian backed militias on US troops and bases in Iraq.

    The US strike on Iraqi Hezbollah never took place. Instead, the US allowed Israel to use its drones from SDF bases in northeastern Syria, an Iraqi intelligence source said.

    In August, Abdul Mahdi came under huge pressure to publicly accuse Israel of launching drones to attack targets on Iraqi terrritory.

    “Our prime minister is between the rock and a hard place,” the intelligence source told MEE.

    “He told both the Iranians and the Americans Iraq is exhausted after decades of wars, conflicts and civil war.

    "Dragging it into the centre of the proxy war between Iran on one side and the USA and its regional allies on the other will risk irreparable damage to its stability and unity with huge implications for the whole region."

    Speaking to MEE on Tuesday, Hasnawi reiterated those concerns.

    "The region can’t withstand another conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, it is a hazardous region, and it is rich with crude oil, essential to the whole world," he said.
    From: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/e...alks-with-Iran

    ~~~

    This week there have been reports of extensive protests in Iraq and (parts of?) the Internet have been shut down:

    Quote Iraq blocks Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram, then shuts down internet amid civil unrest
    Posted on October 2, 2019

    Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory show that Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and other social and messaging apps have been blocked in Iraq by multiple internet providers as of 12:30 UTC, Wednesday 2 October 2019....
    From and more here: https://netblocks.org/reports/iraq-b...nrest-zA4zGlyR

    Is this related in any way or just coincidental timing?
    Last edited by Cara; 4th October 2019 at 10:44.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    This week there have been reports of extensive protests in Iraq and (parts of?) the Internet have been shut down:

    Quote Iraq blocks Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram, then shuts down internet amid civil unrest
    Posted on October 2, 2019

    Network data from the NetBlocks internet observatory show that Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and other social and messaging apps have been blocked in Iraq by multiple internet providers as of 12:30 UTC, Wednesday 2 October 2019....
    From and more here: https://netblocks.org/reports/iraq-b...nrest-zA4zGlyR

    Is this related in any way or just coincidental timing?
    I'm quoting a series of tweets from Elijah J. Magnier -- he is, in his own words:
    Chief International, veteran War correspondent, ​Terrorism & CT: Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya & more.Moving between ME, London, Italy & Brussels

    Quote Elijah J. Magnier
    @ejmalrai
    9:02 PM - 2 Oct 2019


    #BreakingNews:
    Curfew declared in #Baghdad #Iraq for at least one day following riots, destruction on government proprieties, killing of at leas 9 people and demonstration in most parts of the country.

    -----

    This is not a natural unrest or "people asking for freedom". It is directed against PM Adel Abdel Mahdi for his repetitive stands against #US interference in Iraq's affairs, its plans to overthrow the elected regime and attempting to Gove the power to Army officers with a coup.

    -----

    There is no doubt there is corruption in the country, like many in the ME. But Abdel Mahdi:
    . rejected #US demands to join the sanctions on #Iran
    . mediated between #SaudiArabia and #Iran bypassing the #UCL
    . Removed most #US elements in the Army and CT
    . Arrested #CIA spy

    -----

    #Iraq PM Adel Abdel Mahdi:
    . Gave Hashd al-Shaabi a status as a Brigadepart of the security forces rather than diluting them in the Federal Police or the Army to the dislike of the #US.
    . Opened the borders between #Iraq and #Syria despite US pressure to keep the borders closed.

    -----

    #Iraq PM Adel Abdel Mahdi:
    .Refused to stop buying #Iran gas to supply electricity to southern Iraq.
    . Not managing to stop Iran oil from being sold on the Iraqi market.
    https://twitter.com/ejmalrai/status/1179607590730375169

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    So it seems that ISIS may well represent the interests of a particular Arabic “money power” and it’s allies:



    Quote Seeker 🌐
    @seeker401
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quraysh
    The Quraysh were a mercantile Arab tribe that historically inhabited and controlled Mecca and its Ka'aba. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Hashemite clan of the tribe.
    Quote Tweet

    Quote Hassan Hassan
    @hxhassan
    · 12h
    Isis appoints Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi as its new leader, Emir al-Moemineen (the emir of the faithful).

    So both the spokesman and the new leader of ISIS claim descent from the Meccan tribe of Quraysh.

    The spokesman asks followers to pledge allegiance to the new caliph
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Middle East Rubik's Cube

    Quote Posted by Cara (here)
    So it seems that ISIS may well represent the interests of a particular Arabic “money power” and it’s allies:

    The name ISIS is rather fitting for the Quraysh, being a branch of the Nabateans who worshipped Aphrodite.
    Quote Al-'Uzza, in Arabic her name is believed to mean "the mightiest one". She is venerated in the city of Petra. Her cult is mainly focused on the Quraysh and the Hurad valley north of Mecca. The goddess is connected with a type of betyl with star-like eyes. Al-'Uzza is associated with the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite.[2] Pre-Islamic Arabs believed her to be one of the daughters of Allah alongside Al-lāt and Manāt.[3][4][5][6] Alongside, Allat she is called the "bride of Dushara" in some Nabataean inscriptions.[8]
    Isis-Aphrodite is a form of the great goddess Isis that emphasizes the fertility aspects associated with Aphrodite.

    https://journals.openedition.org/syria/663
    Last edited by Jayke; 1st November 2019 at 09:44.

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