Tag Archives: Saudi

What Egypt’s Handover of the Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia Means for Israel

Egypt made an excellent deal: It receives an outstanding economic lifeline in exchange for territories that it does not even own. However, this rescue line is also a knotted rope that turns Egypt into a Saudi satellite state.

By Zvi Bar’el

The maritime border demarcation agreement signed two days ago between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, authorizing the return of Tiran and Sanafir islands to the kingdom, aroused — as expected — a political storm in Egypt and concern in Israel.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s rivals, among them the Muslim Brotherhood, the April 6 protest movement and leftist representatives, assert that he lacks constitutional authority to cede any Egyptian territory, and if he does want to do so, he has to submit a request for parliamentary approval. Sissi and his government reject this claim, explaining that the two islands are sovereign Saudi territory and that they were leased to Egypt in 1950 to “strengthen the defense of Egypt and Saudi Arabia from Zionist aggression.”
Officially, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are correct. According to the correspondence between the late Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Sedki in the 1980s, President Hosni Mubarak asked Saudi Arabia not to raise the issue of the islands’ ownership until Israel completed its withdrawal from Egyptian territory as per the Camp David Accords. The fear was that bringing up the issue of sovereignty would cause Israel to refrain from discussing withdrawal from Taba by arguing that Israel’s earlier withdrawal from Tiran and Sanafir didn’t need to be part of the Camp David Accords, since they were Saudi territory.

Learn more » Haaretz
See more » http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.713919

Read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.713919

Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill

By

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties, and the Saudi threats have been the subject of intense discussions in recent weeks between lawmakers and officials from the State Department and the Pentagon. The officials have warned senators of diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Several outside economists are skeptical that the Saudis will follow through, saying that such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom’s economy. But the threat is another sign of the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Read more » The New York Times
See more » http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/16/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-warns-ofeconomic-fallout-if-congress-passes-9-11-bill.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

Syria Conflict: Bashar al-Assad’s foreign minister warns Saudi troops will ‘return in coffins’

Syria says any foreign troops would ‘return in coffins’

Syrian foreign minister warns against ground intervention after Saudi Arabia offers to send troops to fight ISIL.

Foreign army soldiers who enter Syria without government consent would “return home in wooden coffins”, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said, in a warning to Saudi Arabia.

Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/syria-foreign-troops-return-coffins-160206192130276.html

KSA lacks courage to send ground troops to Syria: Head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard

BY REUTERS

DUBAI: The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard said on Saturday Saudi Arabia lacked the courage to go through with a plan to send ground troops to Syria, and warned they would be wiped out if they went in.

Mohammad Ali Jafari’s blunt words on the Fars news agency were Iran’s first official reaction to a statement from its regional rival Saudi Arabia this week that it was ready to join ground operations in Syria if a US-led military alliance decided to start them.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1237813/

UNDERSTANDING IRAN-PAKISTAN RELATIONS

By Sattar Rind

Persian, now Iran’s, history goes back to the Iron Age – the world’s oldest continuous major civilization, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC, at least.

Iranians are assumed to be Aryan and lived in the existing central Asian steppe area. In ancient history they had observed different emperors. However, Cyrus the Great was the first Persian Emperor in history who embraced all the previously civilized states of the ancient Near East and vastly expanded Persian rule and made part of the existing Iran. It was the largest empire that had ever been seen in this world.

Seleucid emperors were the next to Cyrus, then the Parthian and the Sasanians who governed Iran for more than a thousand years.

Following the Sasanians, Iran once again unified as an independent state in the fifteenth century, this time from a Sufi saint family from Azerbaijan, a person named Ismail, who politically manipulated his followers – the Shiite militants Qizilbash, and had captured Tabriz and declared himself as Shah of Azerbaijan, becoming founder of the Safavid Dynasty in July 1501.

Since then this dynasty never looked back and ruled Iran until the Islamic revolution of Imam Khomeini on April 1st, 1979 ended their rule forcibly exiling the King Raza Shah Pahlavi from Iran.

At their peak the Safavid Dynasty ruled and controlled all of modern Iran, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Armenia, most of Georgia, the North Caucasus, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, as well as parts of Turkey, especially Anatolia, Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the existing Afghanistan and Pakistan up to Indus valley.

His followers, Qizilbash, preferred to be called the ‘army of Haider’ – a name of Hazrat Ali – the first Imam of Muslim Shiites. Thus they developed Shiite Islam as the official religion of the empire which marked a great turning point in Islamic history.

However, the new Islamic state of Iran and its spiritual leader Imam Khomeini was the first head who enhanced more militancy in an already militant Muslim sect but was intolerable for the Arabs as they were for centuries rivals of one another.

But mostly it was the Arabs – being tribal oriented they used to taunt and hate civilized people. It is a trait of tribal people and could be observed still today in the same situation.

Iran undoubtedly has a great rich heritage – art, poetry, music and collective manners. They always remained proud to their civilization and history – what great philosopher Friedrich Hegel termed them “the first Historical People.”

Perhaps due to this or many other reasons, the Arabian people for centuries never liked the Iranians. It is not a secret but an open fact. It is even being said that the Iranians became Muslim, but in their own way. It was not ‘Arabized’. The Persian remained Persians. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i-Ajam.

Again this conflict and rivalry went in opposite directions to each other on the issue of the Islamic sect. The Shiites are the second largest Muslim sect in the Muslim world. Nevertheless in this conflict Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab worsened at a great level, especially if we look at a concise history then we could not forget the massacre of Karbala, believed to be led by the Al-Saud leader Abdul Aziz Ibn Al-Saud, the son-in-law of Ibn Wahhab.

He damaged Imam Hussain’s tomb (the Grandson of Muhammad (PBUH) and son of fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali of Muslim history), it is claimed, in return, one man killing him by a stiletto in revenge.

For the existing Pakistan, Iran was the first country that accepted Pakistan as a sovereign state and never went against one another. They developed the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which later changed into the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and widened with many other Central Asian countries as members.

Both countries when required supported each other either locally or internationally. As Iran was a natural ally and was given the status as ‘Most Favorite Nation’ for trade purposes, both helped each other in wars, in different ways. The relationship within the countries though remained very cordial but reached its peak in the days of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

However in the Zia era even if both countries never intended to damage one other at state level, a resentment was for the first time noticed in the relationship between the two.

The reason was obvious in that Zia was the ultraconservative and very close to the Wahhabi school of thought and perhaps was the first Pakistani ruler of such mentality who tried to be part of the Saudi Arabian ideology and impose the same ideologue in Pakistan fearing the new Islamic revolution of Imam Khomeini may influence the people. It was him who sent 40 thousand army personnel to defend Saudi Arabia from the internal and possibly external threat in 1980, although it was condemned as an act and not accepted by the people of Pakistan, even including army personnel within the ranks.

Zia however was claiming the Iranian revolution as Islamic but he was the person who had created sectarian groups, protected and enhanced them to kill the Shiite Muslims in Pakistan. This could still be observed today. It is believed that when Zia met with Imam Khomeini in Iran he tried to recognise his role for Islamic service but Khomeini, without caring for diplomacy, snubbed Zia that he knew him and was the puppet of Saudi rulers, playing an important role on their behalf killing Shiite Muslims in Pakistan.

Following this Zia started believing that it would be better for him not to give any space to expanding Shiites in Pakistan. Another factor was also involved that somehow most Shiite communities or almost all were supporting Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto either directly or indirectly.

Whatever happened in the Zia era in the recent past or what is currently going on against the Shiite people in Pakistan, one thing it is very clear and important to note is that the people of Pakistan, from the depths of their hearts, are not interested in being part of any proxy war against the natural ally and neighboring country Iran. This is something every ruling authority in Pakistan knows.

Therefore on each occasion in the past, Pakistan has been a very close ally to the US and Saudi Arabia, but has never opposed Iran. In the recent action of Saudi Arabia killing a Shiite leader, Nimr al-Nimr, a spat between Iran and Saudi spread throughout the world, most Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC) disconnecting diplomatic ties with Iran. But for Pakistan it would be impossible due to the people of Pakistan, as it would be difficult for security reasons.

The Balochs of Balochistan have been fighting for their independence since 1948 and have a long history of fighting against the Pakistani army. The total bordering area of Pakistan is connected with Iran from the Balochistan province. There is also a Baloch province in Iran. In the past, and especially in 1974 against the Baloch insurgency, Iran helped Pakistan giving guns, helicopters and fighter jets to curb such an uprising.

If Pakistan decided to go against Iran it could be possible that Iran supports Balochistan. We know the proverb ‘Enemy of the enemy is a friend’. Shiite Muslims are the second largest sect and cover more than 20% of the populace of Pakistan and would be aggravated by this, no Pakistani leader being in a position to provoke them. Thus it will be observed there is no possibility a Pakistan leader will stand up for Saudi Arabia, openly at least. However, it is said that only God knows the secrets of the inner core of the soul.

Courtesy & Thanks » Tuck Magazine
Read more » http://tuckmagazine.com/2016/01/12/understanding-iran-pakistan-relations12172/

 

Pakistan should’ve nothing to do with Saudi-led sectarian ‘anti-terror coalition’

Every country holds its national interests before anything else

By Umer Ali

“Pakistan enjoys close and brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and attaches great importance to their security,” Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif said in a meeting with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman yesterday.

“Any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan,” he further added.

This is the second visit of a Saudi official in three days to Pakistan. These recent visits came in the wake of rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://nation.com.pk/blogs/11-Jan-2016/pakistan-should-ve-nothing-to-do-with-saudi-s-sectarian-anti-terror-coalition

Pakistan Joins Russia, Condemns Any Attempts to Topple Assad in Syria

Pakistan opposes any efforts to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Pakistan’s foreign secretary said on Wednesday.

“Pakistan is also against foreign military intervention in Syria and fully supports the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Aizaz Chaudhry said during a meeting of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

See more » Sputink
Learn more »  http://sputniknews.com/asia/20151224/1032274797/pakistan-opposes-toppling-assad-syria.html

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/asia/20151224/1032274797/pakistan-opposes-toppling-assad-syria.html#ixzz3vH5Um1aY

Pakistan surprised by its inclusion in 34-nation military alliance

BY BAQIR SAJJAD SYED

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan found itself in the crosshairs of Middle Eastern politics on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia named it as part of its newly formed 34-nation military alliance of Muslim countries meant to combat terrorism, without first getting its consent.

Talking to journalists, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said he was surprised to read the news that Saudi Arabia had named Pakistan as part of the alliance.

He said he had asked the country’s ambassador in Riyadh to get a clarification from Saudi Arabia on the matter.

Another senior official also confirmed that Pakistan was not consulted before inclusion in the alliance.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Saudi government surprised many countries by announcing that it had forged a coalition for coordinating and supporting military operations against terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. The headquarters of the new Saudi-led coalition would be based in Riyadh.

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has named Pakistan as part of its military alliances without Islamabad’s knowledge and consent. The Saudis earlier named Pakistan as part of the coalition that carried out operations in Yemen and a Pakistani flag was displayed at the alliance’s media centre.

Pakistan later declined to join the Yemen war.

It is Pakistani government’s policy that it will not deploy its troops outside the country’s borders except for UN peacekeeping missions.

In the past Pakistan has twice rejected US calls for joining alliances against the militant Islamic State (IS) group on the same pretext.

“We are not looking for any involvement outside our region,” army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa had said last month while replying to a question about the possibility of Pakistan becoming part of a US-led coalition against IS.

It is unclear how Riyadh went ahead with announcing Pakistan’s participation in the new alliance. It is also difficult to speculate if Islamabad will change its policy because of its close ties with the kingdom.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1226723/

Why is Indonesia not in the Saudi-led Sunni coalition against terror?

Surely Indonesia, with a Sunni population of 200 million, would have an interest in joining

By Robert Fisk@indyvoices

The Saudis love coalitions. The Sunni monarchy had the Americans, the British, the French and sundry other oil importers on their side to drive Saddam’s legions out of Kuwait in 1991. Earlier this year, the Saudi military – for which read the youngest defence minister in the world and the ambitious Deputy Prime Minister, Mohamed bin Salman al-Saud – struck at the Kingdom’s Shia Houthi enemies in Yemen in yet another coalition. This included not only Saudi fighter-bombers but jets from Qatar, the Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

But now – with all the drama of a new Hollywood franchise – the Saudis have announced their new multinational military epic against the “disease” of Islamic “terror”, starring more Muslim and would-be Muslim states than ever before assembled since the time of the Prophet. Once more, as in the Yemen adventure (already plagued by humanitarian catastrophe and credible accounts of the slaughter of civilians under Saudi air attacks), Prince Mohamed, aged 31, is leading his country.

In all seriousness, he announced that the battle of this latest “coalition” – which includes countries as mythical as “Palestine”, as corrupt as Afghanistan and as powerless as Lebanon, with bankrupt Chad and the Islamic Republic of the Comoros thrown in for good measure – would require “a very strong effort to fight”. Few spotted, however, the curious absence from the 34-strong “coalition” of Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.

This is very strange, since the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 mostly foreign civilians, brought al-Qaeda into Indonesia’s own “war against terror”. Surely Indonesia, with a Sunni population of more than 200 million, would have an interest in joining their fellow Sunni Muslims in this unprecedented “coalition”? Or could it be that with more than 30 Indonesian maids on Saudi Arabia’s death row after grotesquely unfair trials, the country wants an end to this injustice before committing its army to the Kingdom?

Pakistan is an interesting addition because the last time it was asked to fight for the Saudis, in the present disastrous Yemen civil war, the parliament in Islamabad rejected Saudi Arabia’s request after the Saudis insisted that only Sunni Muslim soldiers in the Pakistani army would be allowed to participate.

Read more » Independent
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-is-indonesia-not-in-the-saudi-led-sunni-coalition-against-terror-a6774551.html

Saudis announce Islamic anti-terrorism coalition

Saudi Arabia has said 34 mainly Muslim nations have joined a new military alliance to fight terrorism.

A joint operations centre is to be established in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, state media reported.

Countries from Asia, Africa and the Arab world are involved in the alliance but Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival Iran is not.

It comes amid international pressure for Gulf Arab states to do more in the fight against so-called Islamic State.

Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the new alliance would co-ordinate efforts against extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

Neither Iraq nor Syria, whose governments are close to Shia-ruled Iran, are in the coalition, nor is Afghanistan.

Two things stand out immediately about this new Saudi-based Islamic Coalition.

The Shia-majority nations of Iran and Iraq are noticeably absent, as is their ally Syria.

It is far from clear how, in practice, the coalition would conduct counter-terrorism operations in IS-plagued Iraq and Syria without the agreement of those governments.

Secondly, there is the question of the exact definition of terrorism. The Saudi authorities’ interpretation of it extends far beyond the violent actions of armed insurgents.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35099318

Yemen conflict: Gulf commanders ‘killed in missile strike’

A Saudi military commander and an Emirati officer are reported to be among a number of Gulf, Yemeni and Sudanese soldiers killed in Yemen.

They appear to have been killed by a missile fired by Houthi rebels at troops from the Saudi-led coalition seeking to restore Yemen’s government.

Rebel and government sources said the attack, in the province of Taiz, left dozens of coalition troops dead.

The incident comes ahead of UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland on Tuesday.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35091675

Why the west’s view of the Saudis is shifting

The rise of Isis, human rights concerns and less dependence on Arab oil are triggering change

By Gideon Rachman

Something is changing in the west’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. You can read it in the newspapers. You can hear it from politicians. And you can see it in shifts in policy.

Read more » FT
L
earn more » See more » http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a33c5e6c-9ccc-11e5-8ce1-f6219b685d74.html#axzz3tcXc74Ga

See more » http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a33c5e6c-9ccc-11e5-8ce1-f6219b685d74.html#ixzz3tlQsfRW1

German vice-chancellor accuses Saudi Arabia of funding Islamic extremism in the West

In a highly unusual moment of a Western politician attacking a critical Arab ally, Sigmar Gabriel says the time has come to make it clear to Riyadh the time of looking away is over

By Justin Huggler, Berlin

The German vice-chancellor has publicly accused Saudi Arabia of financing Islamic extremism in the West and warned that it must stop.

Sigmar Gabriel said that the Saudi regime is funding extremist mosques and communities that pose a danger to public security.

“We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over,” Mr Gabriel told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview.

Read more » The Telegraph
See more »  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/12035838/German-vice-chancellor-accuses-Saudi-Arabia-of-funding-Islamic-extremism-in-the-West.html

 The Saudis Are Stumbling. They May Take the Middle East with Them.

America’s leading Sunni ally is proving how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptitude can trump even bottomless wealth

By Conn Hallinan

For the past eight decades Saudi Arabia has been careful.

Using its vast oil wealth, it’s quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region, and prudently kept to the shadows while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, and bankrolled Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucasus to the Hindu Kush.

It wasn’t a modest foreign policy, but it was a discreet one.

Today that circumspect diplomacy is in ruins, and the House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://www.thenation.com/article/the-saudis-are-stumbling-they-may-take-the-middle-east-with-them/

Saudi Arabia could run out of financial assets within five years, IMF warns

Analysts with the International Monetary Fund project that Saudi Arabia will be broke in the next five years if the government maintains current policies

By Beatrice Gitau,

The Middle East’s biggest economy, Saudi Arabia, could burn through its financial assets within five years, amid a drop in oil prices, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.

In its latest Middle East economic outlook report, the IMF said it expects Saudi Arabia to run a budget deficit of 21.6 percent in 2015 and 19.4 percent in 2016.

If oil prices remain as low as they are, and the government maintains current economic policies, Saudi Arabia “would run out of buffers in less than five years,” the Washington-based lender said.

Read more » The Christian Science Monitor
See more » http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2015/1023/Saudi-Arabia-could-run-out-of-financial-assets-within-five-years-IMF-warns?cmpid=FB

Saudi starts oil supplies to Poland, in set-back for Russia

* Russia’s Sechin says Saudis are “actively dumping”

* Moscow needs to act to preserve market share – Sechin

* Poland received at least 3 Saudi cargos – trade (Adds details, quotes, details)

By Gleb Gorodyankin, Denis Pinchuk and Katya Golubkova

MOSCOW, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has started supplying crude oil to Poland, the head of Russia’s biggest oil company Rosneft said on Tuesday, becoming another Middle Eastern producer to enter a market traditionally dominated by Russia.

A global battle is underway among oil exporters for market share, with producers with the deepest pockets, such as Saudi Arabia, using low prices to enter new markets, often at the expense of Russia.

If Russia appears to be losing that battle for market share, it could have an impact on decisions made about crude production at a meeting of oil exporters’ club OPEC in December.

“We are working under conditions of tough competition,” Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin told an investor conference in Moscow.

“Saudi Arabia has entered the Polish market for the first time, with deliveries via Gdansk,”

Read more » Reuters
See more » http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL8N12D1W920151013

Putin and Saudi defense minister meet in Russia, agree on common goals in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s defense minister have agreed that Moscow and Riyadh should pursue common goals in Syria, including national reconciliation and combating terrorists, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said.

Putin met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman for talks on the sidelines of a Formula 1 race in Sochi on Sunday. The meeting was also attended by the foreign ministers of both states.

“The sides confirmed that Saudi Arabia and Russia have similar goals concerning Syria,” said Russian FM Sergey Lavrov following the talks. “First of all, they are to prevent a terrorist caliphate from getting the upper hand in Syria.”

Read more » RT
See more » https://www.rt.com/news/318324-putin-saudi-goals-syria/#.Vhrac8rfWWE.facebook

 

It’s Time for the United States to Start Worrying About a Saudi Collapse

BY JOHN HANNAH

As if there weren’t already enough problems to worry about in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia might be headed for trouble. From plummeting oil prices to foreign-policy missteps to growing tensions with Iran, a confluence of recent events is mounting to pose some serious challenges for the Saudi regime. If not properly managed, these events could eventually coalesce into a perfect storm that significantly increases the risk of instability within the kingdom, with untold consequences for global oil markets and security in the Middle East.

Here are some of the percolating problems that could throw the country off kilter.

Read more » Foreign Policy
See more » http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/10/07/will-the-united-states-help-if-saudi-arabia-starts-to-fall-apart/

US warship heads to Yemeni waters; could block Iran weapons

Associated Press – By LOLITA C. BALDOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.

The deployment comes after a U.N. Security Council resolution approved last week imposed an arms embargo on leaders of the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote with Russia abstaining.

Navy officials said Monday that the Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea. A massive ship that carries F/A-18 fighter jets, the Roosevelt is seen more of a deterrent and show of force in the region.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea in response to reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis. Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.

Read more » Yahoo News
See more » http://news.yahoo.com/us-warship-heads-yemeni-waters-block-iranian-weapons-182036698–politics.html

Putin lifts ban on delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran

The Russian president has repealed the ban prohibiting the delivery of S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran, according to the Kremlin’s press service. The ban was introduced by former President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

“[The presidential] decree lifts the ban on transit through Russian territory, including airlift, and the export from the Russian Federation to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also the transfer to the Islamic Republic of Iran outside the territory of the Russian Federation, both by sea and by air, of air defense missile systems S-300,” says the information note accompanying the document, RIA Novosti reported.

The decree enters into force upon the president’s signature.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/249229-russia-s300-delivery-iran/

“Neo-Terrorism”: The mutation of Al-Qaeda into the Islamic State

By Roy Murray

One of the suboptimal habits of humans is to compare different things, expect them to behave similarly, and treat them the way we are ‘used to’. So, when the “Islamic State” (IS) debacle began, the world’s intelligences agencies did what they were used to – tracking jihadists back home. Since Al-Qaeda attacked the western home front, IS must have similar ambitions. They attempted to identify the jihadists, tracked their footsteps to the conflict, then they waited back home, ready to pounce on them with decades of counter terrorism experience. The hysteria grew, with ever more resources ploughed into it, augmented by vast media accounts of the threat the “Islamic State” (IS) of Sheikh Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi poses to our ‘home front’.

It became a dangerous addiction which distracted us from the real “neo-terrorism” threat. By tracking Baghdadi’s returning jihadists, the west is effectively acting as his military police, locking up his deserters – after all, jihad is a lifelong adventure. He couldn’t care less.  In fact, our actions morphed into a powerful propaganda tool for the ‘terrorist extraordinaire’ –   feeding his propaganda narrative that Muslims were being oppressed around the world, and must rise up against their “tyrants” and establish a great Islamic State. Focusing on the home front, The West left him alone in the Middle East, free to stir chaos, establish, and expand his ‘Caliphate’. With just 10,000 of his Jihadists and other allies, he took down vast armies and militias that outnumbered his forces by factors upwards of 10 to 1. He is not some supreme being, neither are his men super human. Rather, he is a manifestation of the “neo-terrorist”. A veteran jihadist, he is also a cunning strategist, who designed his escapades with a powerful knowledge of the present, and a generous imagination of the future. He exploited the enmities between his enemies and preyed on their most damning weaknesses. Further, Baghdadi exploited almost every racial, sectarian, and political fault line in the Middle East and left all his enemies in a predicament. He wrong footed almost everyone, all the while being humble about the limits of his power, rarely embarking on battles where he doesn’t have ‘the edge’.”. Everyone played into his hand, and the current reality is that the different powers of the Middle East no longer have any ‘good’ options. Rather, they have options of varying degrees of ‘badness’, or even catastrophe. All this is at the expense of the local civilians, who are now staring down at an extended sectarian conflict that will condemn the Middle East to decades of poverty, threatening the social and political fabric of the region.

Read more » SYKES PICOT
http://sykespicot.net/2014/07/06/neo-terrorism-the-mutation-of-al-qaeda-into-the-islamic-state/

Baloch need to struggle within Pakistan, says chief minister

By Anwar Iqbal

“Democracy is the only option for Baloch nationalists,” says Balochistan’s new chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch. “We need to connect with national democratic forces to achieve our objectives. We need to work within Pakistan. We have no other option.”

In an interview to Dawn.com, Dr Malik said that a move by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher to create a separate state for Balochs will further confuse the Baloch struggle for their rights.

“In the past, we were told the revolution will come from Moscow. Now we are told it will come from Moscow. I disagree with such suggestions. We need to struggle for our rights within Pakistan. We need to work with other democratic forces in the country.”

He said that relations with neighboring states, particularly India, Iran and Afghanistan have a direct impact on the situation in Balochistan.

“Our institutions need to sit together and work out a new foreign policy if we want peace, particularly in Balochistan.”

The sectarian violence, he said, was directly linked to the Iran-Saudi conflict and “we need to device a balanced approach to prevent these two countries from fighting their war on our turf.

Continue reading Baloch need to struggle within Pakistan, says chief minister

Is it Musharaf’s political Kargil?

Is Musharraf going for a political Kargil?

by Dr Ghayur Ayub

Gen. (rtd) Pervez Musharaf is a commando trained by a well disciplined army. Against such background, he is known to have taken risks during his career. He makes tactical and strategic plans and executes them accordingly. He does not get discouraged if his tactical plan fails and waits for proper time to strike at strategic level. Take Kargil episode for example. In 1995 he put the plan and presented it to the then PM Benazir Bhutto. It was turned down. He retreated it tactically but kept it alive strategically for future. When the time came he executed it. That’s how his brain works.

When he was the most powerful leader heading Pakistan with four caps, he shouldered MQM in political gusto and made it the most powerful ally in Sindh controlling the economic hub of Pakistan. During his tenure Mustafa Kamal, the administrator of Karachi, was given a privileged reception when he visited America; thanks to him. It was in those days when a news appeared in media that he might join MQM. He never rebutted it. This was his tactical move to be counted as a political player.

Altaf Bhai who has many political eyes on his face and matching ears on his head realised the consequences. He took it as Musharaf’s tactical move to enter MQM and push him to one side later as part of strategic plan taking over the party leadership. He became active and made sure it did not happen. To show his command over the party he brought down two important personalities of MQM to their knees- Dr. Liaqat Hussain and Mustafa Kamal. It happened both were close to Musharaf. The former was thrown out of the party.

Thus Altaf Bhai was successful in obstructing his tactical move. Being Musharaf, he let it go but held to his strategic plan. According to news coming out of London, he maintained his links with a few old guards of MQM such as (late) Dr Imran Farooq. Were those links part of the strategy? Is it also part of that strategy which landed him in Pakistan? Keeping his Kargil episode in mind it may not be surprising to link it with that. Only this time he might be planning to fight political Kargil on three fronts; to clear his name in court cases; to make inroads in MQM; and to isolate Nawaz Sharif. How?

Before going to Pakistan he went for ‘a politicised Umra’ and prior to that he apparently met Nawaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia with blessings of the West and Saudi Arabia.

Continue reading Is it Musharaf’s political Kargil?

What we can learn from Turkey

Smokers’ Corner: Cold Turkey

By Nadeem F. Paracha

I’ve twice been to Turkey in the last three years. My second trip there coincided with the 2011 election. Recently I have come across various conservative and pro-establishment personalities, politicians and media men in Pakistan praising the Turkish model of democracy and economics.

For example, Imran Khan just returned from Turkey and sounded extremely impressed by that country’s people and politics.

The reason why you might now be hearing more and more Pakistanis singing praises of Turkey is due to the fact that a determined political party with an Islamist background has been winning elections and forming governments there ever since 2001.

It is a good sign that to some of our conservatives the Turkish social and political model now seems more charming to emulate than the puritanical authoritarianism of certain oil-rich Arab states. However, the fact is they may really be over-romanticising their Turkish experience. Either they haven’t understood the dynamics of Turkey’s political and social milieus, or they are only seeing what they want to see: i.e. a conservative Islamist party at the helm in what was supposed to be a secular country.

Only recently I heard a TV commentator suggest that Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan’s AK Party, has been winning elections due to its popularity among the rural and semi-rural Turks. This is a rather simplistic understanding of what is actually a complex consensus that the AK Party has struck with almost all sections of Turkish society.

Erdogan’s multiple electoral successes have more to do with his emphasis on economic growth, reform and his all-out efforts to help Turkey become part of the European Union (EU) than on the usual stern moralistic and anti-West stances that most Islamist parties are stuck with in most Muslim countries. During my trip to Istanbul when the campaigning for the 2011 elections was in full swing, not even once did I hear Erdogan (whose wife adorns a hijab) mention the word Islam.

Continue reading What we can learn from Turkey

The Kayani doctrine

By Dr Farrukh Saleem

Capital suggestion

The Kayani Doctrine, built on four pillars, comprises: American troops would have to withdraw from Afghanistan; reconciliation among Afghan factions is not possible without the ISI; the Jalalabad-Torkham-Karachi route remains the most viable for withdrawing American forces and India cannot be allowed to encircle Pakistan. In 2009, General McChrystal, commander Isaf and commander US forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A), refusing to buy the Kayani Doctrine, requested a ‘troop surge’ numbering 30,000-40,000. In 2010, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 187th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Sustainment Brigade were deployed to Afghanistan.

In 2010, General Petraeus, commander Isaf and commander USFOR-A, refusing to buy the Kayani Doctrine, began implementing his “comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy”. General Petraeus’ COIN had four pillars: “securing and serving the population, understanding local circumstances, separating irreconcilables from reconcilables and living among the people”.

By 2011, America’s cost of war in Afghanistan hovered around a colossal $500 billion and the US had incurred 1,814 fatalities. By 2011, Petraeus’ four pillars had begun to fall flat – one by one. America could no longer sustain the war in Afghanistan – neither politically nor financially. Finally, President Obama, in a prime time speech, bought into the Kayani Doctrine by announcing a troop drawdown schedule. On December 2, 2012, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with COAS General Ashfaq Kayani. This may have actually been the first formal buy-in of the Kayani Doctrine.

On December 17, the principal deputy assistant attorney general told a federal court in New York: “In the view of the United States, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is entitled to immunity because it is part of a foreign state within the meaning of the FSIA (Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act).” This may have actually been an implicit acceptance by the US of the ISI’s indispensability in the Afghan endgame (the doctrine’s second pillar).

On December 29, Pakistan received $688 million under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). According to the Ministry of Finance, “from May 2010 onwards Pakistan had asked for $2.5 billion under the CSF but only $1.9 billion have been reimbursed.”

On February 10, “two convoys each hauling 25 shipping containers entered Pakistan at the Chaman and Torkham borders” heading back to where they came from. To be certain, these convoys will be followed by a few thousand taking back around 750,000 major military items valued at close to $40 billion (the doctrine’s third pillar).

Indian defence analysts claim that the British have acted as the intermediaries in the latest US-Pakistan rapprochement and that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also involved in the game. Pakistan is once again becoming the centre piece in the Afghan endgame.

India’s Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar, who served in Islamabad, Kabul, Tashkent and Moscow, opines, “Washington is stonewalling India’s requests for the extradition of two key protagonists who are in the US jails – David Headley and Tahawwur Rana” and that “India’s worst fears with regard to the situation in Afghanistan are probably coming true.”

Continue reading The Kayani doctrine

Pakistan to do what it deems fit, says Khar

By Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: As Islamabad and Tehran set up a joint contracting company to complete the construction of the $7.5 billion IP gas pipeline project within the next 15 months, Pakistan does not appear apologetic and says that any other government would have done what the PPP-led government did.

“Pakistan continues to suffer from huge energy deficiency and this directly affects our industry and GDP growth. Gas is the cheapest commodity to generate electricity. We need to look at all possible sources of energy including the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will meet only half the shortfall of energy needs of Pakistan and not our full demand. Pakistan has to do what it deems fit and what is in its national interest. Lack of economic growth has also seen peace stalled in the region,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told ‘The News’.

President Asif Ali Zardari is also credited widely for improving bilateral relations with Iran, investing in the region, and desperately seeking energy from a country facing severe sanctions from the West because of its nuclear policy under the guidelines of the IAEA.

Continue reading Pakistan to do what it deems fit, says Khar

Has a countdown begun in Islamabad?

By: Shaheen Sehbai

Zardari will have to make his decision very quickly on whether he wants to exit with dignity or become a martyr. The days, as they say, are in fact numbered.

ISLAMABAD: The crumbling presidential edifice in the bunkered palace with two green flags on the Constitution Avenue is giving rise to numerous stories, some fiction, some wishful thinking, and some partly true.

The man inside the house is reported by some to be collapsing while others say he is in a defiant mood and will fight till the last. One thing is clear though that a psywar is going on and President Asif Ali Zardari has not many friends who have unflinching faith and commitment to defend him.

The key role is being played by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and it is hard to figure out on whose side he really stands. His own political future is also at stake but his role has assumed the all critical importance because everyone is looking up to him, the civil and military establishment has put its power eggs in his basket as against the president, while his party remains confused and divided. The opposition and most of his coalition partners have abandoned the president but continue to back his handpicked prime minister.

The few who are still standing with Zardari include the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, whose latest brag that there would be no ‘minus-1’ but that if anything happened it would be a ‘minus-342’ (reference to total strength of the National Assembly) is considered by many as the final defeatist declaration that Zardari will not go alone but will take the entire house with him. There are not many takers for Taseer’s threats. On the contrary, the party which President Zardari considered to be his most dependable ally, the MQM of Altaf Hussain, has gone many steps forward to seek his removal from the top office. Almost everyone I met and talked to was surprised at the leap Altaf Hussain had taken from just opposing or abstaining from voting on the NRO to demanding the resignation of Zardari. It was like the last straw on the heavily loaded camel’s back and Zardari was stunned, those around him reported.

His attempt to save the sinking ship by calling Governor of Sindh Ishratul Ebad to Islamabad and then authorising Interior Minister Rehman Malik to fly to Dubai for urgent talks with an MQM delegation from London could be the last desperate effort but as someone who knows the scene reported, “The MQM has closed the doors and has gone to sleep,” meaning that it is no longer interested in seeing Zardari sitting in the Presidency.

Nice words wrapped in high sounding moral logic are being said by MQM to urge Zardari to make his exit dignified but Altaf Hussain is not backtracking from his demand of a resignation. He probably knows more than many in Islamabad. Even when Governor Ebad was rushing to Dubai on Wednesday night after meeting the president, the MQM made it a point to include the resignation issue in the agenda of the Dubai talks expected to begin on Friday.

Continue reading Has a countdown begun in Islamabad?

How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks

Mumbai: A month-long investigation by MiD DAY journalists has revealed a twisted form of human trafficking that involves rich Arabs, greedy Qazis, sham marriages, agents and girls lured into the flesh trade or those looking for a quick buck.

The modus operandi: set up a temporary or time-bound wedding to a rich Arab. The affluent Arab offers a negotiated amount for the services of a ‘wife’ during his stay in India. The price for the ‘booty’ varies from Rs. 15,000 to nearly a lakh for the 10-day marriage. Girls from poor families are sold like commodities to the Arabs, many of whom arrive on tourist visas from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. While this may seem shocking to many, the women involved in this latest form of flesh trade are often willing participants.

The Arab and The Qazi

These predators have been perpetrating a blatant crime under the veneer of nikaah, abusing the Islamic rules of marriage. Abusing the sanctioned provision which allows a Muslim man to have four wives at a time, many old Arabs are not just marrying minors in Mumbai and Hyderabad, but marrying more than one minor in a single trip to the country.

The Pimp and The Victim

A healthy stream of women keep flowing into the city from all parts of the country to solicit the Arab clientele who have turned Mumbai into a sex haven. For as little asRs 2,000 per job, scores of women line up every evening hoping to catch the eye of the adulterous tourist.

Continue reading How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks