Posts tagged ‘KSA’

August 31, 2016

الاقتصاد السياسي للطائفية في الخليج

by mkleit

معهد كارنيجي للشرق الأوسط

arab_gulf_states_english

يُواجه حكّام الخليج العربي حوافز تدفعهم إلى تطوير مصادر غير اقتصادية للشرعية، بهدف الحفاظ على الدعم الشعبي مع زيادة الإيرادات الشحيحة من الموارد. ومن خلال زرع بذور الريبة المجتمعية، وتسليط الضوء على التهديدات، والتأكيد على قدرتها على ضمان الأمن، يمكن للأنظمة تعزيز التأييد المحلي والحدّ من الضغوط التي تطالب الإصلاح بتكلفة أقلّ من توزيع إعانات الرعاية الاجتماعية. وتُظهر بيانات الدراسة المسحية من دول خليجية أربعة (البحرين والكويت وعُمان وقطر) أن في وسع الحكومات إرغام السكان على القبول بالجمود السياسي، حتى في الوقت الذي تتضاءل فيه الفوائد الاقتصادية التي يحصل عليها المواطنون.

الأفكار الرئيسة

  • سنّت أنظمة الخليج قواعد انتخابية وتشريعية تضفي طابعاً مؤسسياً على الانقسامات القائمة على سياسة الهوية.
  • كثيراً ماتقتصر السرديات الوطنية الرسمية في الخليج على فئة معينة، بحيث تبرز الاختلافات بين المواطنين، ويتم تمييز بعض فئات السكان على الفئات الأخرى.
  • تعامل الأنظمة الخليجية المعارضة السلمية والاحتجاج على نحو متزايد باعتبارها تشكّل تهديدات حقيقية للأمن القومي، وليس على أنها تحدّيات سياسية عادية.
  • مارست بعض دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي سياسة خارجية حازمة ومغامرة، ساهمت في زعزعة الاستقرار الإقليمي وعزّزت النزعة الوطنية العسكرية.
  • تتزايد مشاعر عدم الأمان بسبب الوعود الحكومية بالقيام بعملية إعادة تنظيم اقتصادي جذرية، في مواجهة تراجع عائدات النفط والغاز.

النتائج

  •  يكشف تحليل بيانات الدراسة المسحية المستقاة من المنطقة عن أن المزيد من المواطنين الخليجيين ذوي التفكير الأمني، مستعدون للقبول بمستويات أقلّ من الأداء الاقتصادي من جانب الحكومة في مقابل توفير الاستقرار. إذ يمثّل توفير الدولة للأمن، بالنسبة إلى هؤلاء، بديلاً عن الفوائد المالية التي يتوقع المواطنون الحصول عليها في الدول الغنية بالنفط.
  • بهذه الطريقة، يمكن لحكومات دول الخليج الاستفادة من المخاوف الأمنية للمواطنين لشراء الدعم السياسي الشعبي بتكلفة أقلّ من تكلفة توزيع المنافع المادية.
  • وبالتالي، لدى أنظمة الخليج أسباب اقتصادية وسياسية لتلوين أو اصطناع التهديدات الداخلية والخارجية، بهدف تأجيج المخاوف الشعبية على الأمن وبالتالي خفض تكلفة زيادة الدعم السياسي
  •  حكّام الخليج غير قادرين في الغالب على إدارة التوترات الاجتماعية حين تنطلق، وقد انتهى الأمر ببعضهم إلى تأجيج المعارضة ذاتها التي رغبوا في قمعها. وهذه الاستراتيجية الخطرة تنطوي على مخاطر جدّية لرفاهية المواطنين ولبقاء الأنظمة على المدى البعيد.
January 4, 2016

Situation in KSA after the Execution of Sheikh al Nimr

by mkleit

Source: unknown

protester-holds-picture-sheikh-nemer-al-nemer-during-rally-coastal-town-qatif-reuters

The situation is quite tense in KSA and in the region, due to the recent development in the political confrontation between Iran & KSA, due to the execution of the cleric Nimer Baqir Al Nimr, who was executed along with others 47 convicted with terrorism charges.

The Saudi authority announced cuts the diplomatic relationships with Iran and evicts Iranian diplomats from KSA within 48 Hours.

Mutable security implications expected in the short term in various locations, including the KSA eastern province, Bahrain and the Yemeni front.
1.    Armed confrontations between the Saudi police and Shiite militant groups in the eastern province.(with a very likely & possibilities of deterioration in the civil unrest condition in these areas).
2.    Armed confrontations between the Bahraini police and Shiite revolts groups in & around the Shiite villages. (Light firearms and improvised Explosive devises are expected to be used by the militant groups).
3.    Wide confrontations between police forces and protesters will be wetness along the areas& village with high Shiite population.
4.    Intensified confrontation between Saudi forces and Ansar Allah (Al Houthi) rabbles along the Saudi Yemeni borders.
5.    Also IS terrorist organization might get involved to benefit from the security & political tense situation by carrying out sectarian attacks against Shiite community to ignite sectarian conflict in the region.

 

October 11, 2015

How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists

by mkleit

Source

ScreenHunter_1549-Apr.-20-16.42

Many doubts, questions, and dilemmas have arisen concerning the contradicting conduct of the West while dealing with extremist movements. The West exploited these movements in Afghanistan during the late 1970’s, opposed them in the Arabian Peninsula in the nineties, and then launched war against them in Afghanistan in 2001, and in Iraq after the invasion of 2003. However, in 2011, the West returned to taking advantage of these extremist groups and we are currently faced with a rather vague Western connection with Isis.

The reason behind the doubts and different points of view is that analyses are based on relatively rigid mental paradigms which fail to proceed in accordance with the flexibility and pragmatic segmentation of the cowboy mentality. On the other hand, the alignment of extremist groups in many instances with the West has induced powers which oppose these groups to accuse them of treacherous conduct.

This is accurate, but it is accomplished through the Western scheme of indirect control of these groups. This indirect control is due to the ideological and strategic disorder which extremist groups suffer from, and the disapproval which those in their infrastructure, supportive environment, and their mustering forces maintain toward any connection with the United States- let alone full alliance with America. This is what the inconstancies in relations from 1979 up until this day indicate.

Another factor which has spurned these doubts is the vehement self-defense which the “takfiris” display when they are accused of having connections with the United States or with any countries which adhere to America or revolve around it.

The examination of the course of this movement leads to a specific model which displays how the relation with Isis is controlled by Western powers with the United States at their head. This model is composed of three aspects:

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1) Commission 2) Steering 3) Restraint

Each one of these aspects forms a set of tools which The US select according to the time and condition they deem as most appropriate. They do not necessarily benefit from all of these aspects in a simultaneous manner.

1) Commission

This policy depends on assessing which geographical area is most suitable for the movement of extremist groups, but under the condition that these movements do not pose a threat on American interests and that they also provide a strategic advantage. This policy is fulfilled according to circumstances and through certain means which are chosen according to time and place. There are five essential means.

1) Ensuring geographical domains: Weakening a country’s control in the target region through commotions, political turmoil, political settlement, and national uprising – as was the case in Syria in 2011, and Mosul in 2014.

2) Securing logistical pathways: Ensuring roads for extremists to reach target regions whether these pathways are by land, sea, or air. They also provide visas and even means of transportation in order to reach the area of conflict. They used Egypt, Pakistan, and Yemen as transits during the war on Afghanistan in 1979, and Turkey and Jordan during the war on Syria in 2011

3) Allowing financial aid and armament: Giving approval to their allied powers which wish to support extremist groups with money and weapons whether directly or indirectly (through certain institutions and weapon dealers). Rationing and organizing financial aid is done according to the time which ensures the imposition of a strategic course upon extremist groups.

The United States might also resort to direct weapon provision in some cases of tactical exceptions, such as throwing weapons and equipment from the air to Isis fighters in Kobani more than five times, and presenting this act in the guise of “a mistake”.

4) Transport: Expelling extremists from the countries which are harmed by their presence or from countries which desire to take advantage of them.

5) Facilitating the work of preachers: Allowing extremist preachers to fulfill their activity of spreading extremist ideology and mobilizing “takfiris” in the areas of transference, at departure, and at arrival. Extremist preachers are also allowed to spread their views on satellite TV stations and through different media.

2) Steering

This policy is based upon exerting an effort in media, mobilization, and in the field of action in order to direct the strategic priority of extremist groups toward movement in a certain sphere only, to target a specific enemy, or even to change the strategic and tactical course at a certain stage. All of this is done according to circumstances, requirements, and capacity.

The United States is very active in this domain with the aid of its regional and international allies. It achieves its aim through nine principal means.

1) Specifying the “preferable enemy”: the US have created “stars” among the “takfiri” environment for their own purposes and interests. They shed light on commanders or convenient extremist factions through inserting them on the list of terrorism. They focus on them in the media and select them in a way in which their prominence on the political scene leads to regional and international political achievements. For example, at the beginning of the war on Iraq, Colin Powell proclaimed that the enemy of the United States was al-Zarqawi. The US media machine placed him under the spotlight in a way where he became a prominent figure on the scene, and the conflict considerably shifted to internal Iraqi strife.

This is what Israel did a few months ago when it imposed on Jabhat Nusra to assign certain commanders in charge of control of the positions along the Jolan Heights- under threat of military intervention.

2) Assassinating commanders: Targeting extremist leaders who pose a threat on American or Western national security, or leaders whose regional influence negatively affects the scheme of steering and exploiting. For example, assassinating Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-‘Awlaqi, and most Qaeda commanders in Yemen.

3) Arabian and International Media: Delivering ideological and provocative concepts which aggravate extremist groups and urge them to head to a certain target region to fight the side which America chooses.

4) Saudi Arabian clerics: The Saudi Arabian religious institution is performing a central role through issuing fatwas which declare jihad in a target region.

5) Security Breaches: Recruiting, sending “Islamized” Western men to fight, the role of Arabian secret services, imprisonment, and attracting a supportive environment which is discontent with the conduct of the extremists. Prisons play a central role in recruiting commanders and prominent figures whether in an explicit or indirect way.

6) Taking command of conflicts: Handling the crisis in the target region in a way which achieves the goals of the United States, and preserving the controllable and exploitable extremist power through suspicious operations and different means of steering.

7) Causing a suitable environment of strife: Creating a setting of conflict in which the mustering forces of the extremist groups are presented as the targets, the oppressed, and the infringed upon – as in the case of Afghanistan and Syria.

8) Dividing the “takfiri” factions: Creating conflicts, tactical clashes in the field of combat, and producing a multiple set of goals and priorities through different means in order to prevent the formation of a unified power- as in the case of the clash between Isis and Jabhat Nusra in Syria.

9) Strategic Theorization: Presenting comprehensive strategic plans which represent the interest of the extremist scheme in the targeted geographical range. The security services infiltrates the Salafist jihadi virtual world and make their own Salafist websites, and in some cases they have the advantage of recruiting few ideologue under the coercion or persuasive instrument in the secret jails, those ideologue are capable of making the paradigm shift when needed.

3) Restraint

Takfiri factions strive to maintain their own agendas – in spite of the great influence of the United States and its agents – in order to preserve their rank among their mustering forces and political authorities. Western powers need to restrain takfiri groups in order to prevent them from crossing strategic or military limits, and they fulfill this through force or control of their incomes.

Regulation is based on six essential means:
1) Direct Confrontation: Carrying out direct military operations to strike at the critical takfiri forces or those which pose a threat, as in the case of Afghanistan in 2001 for example.

2) Limiting financial aid and armament: Monitoring the flow of money and weapons; the amount, type, and timing. They also uphold the limits which prevent the takfiris from becoming a threat while allowing them to act in a way which benefits the United States, as in the case of Syria since 2011.

3) Geographical Restraint: When necessary, the military forces of the United States or its allies fire at the posts where takfiris pose a current or future threat, as the coalition forces did when Isis fighters entered Irbil.

4) Providing a Geographical Substitute: If takfiri groups increase in number or if it becomes hard to control them or their actions, a new battlefield is provided which forms a vent for emotional and military zeal. The most prominent example is allowing Isis forces to engage in fighting in Mosul.

5) Steering through the Media: Provocations in the media contribute to maintaining military and political zeal to achieve the intended and previously specified goal. Thus, it becomes difficult for the leaders of takfiri factions to turn around on the intermediate range.

6) Assassinating Commanders: This was explained among the aforementioned means of steering. The best example on resorting to this course of action during operations of restraint is the assassination of Al-Zarqawi when the United States became suspicious that he had pledged allegiance to Bin Laden and that he had restored the struggle against America as his main priority.

terrorist Abu Mes'ab al Zarqawi

terrorist Abu Mes’ab al Zarqawi

Exemplification

The usage of these means was fulfilled in different circumstances and course of events. In Afghanistan in 1979, the United States had previously designated the course of events. The National Security Advisor to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, had formulated a plan to bring Islamists to Afghanistan, to lure the Soviets, and to trigger a long term exhaustive struggle between them.

The second example was after the eleventh of September when the United States resorted to means of restraint in the face of takfiri groups which had left Afghanistan in search of a range of movement. A clash of interests ensued and resulted in the war on Afghanistan in 2001 and the operation of complete security restraint in Saudi Arabia. Subsequently, the zeal of these takfiri groups was directed toward Iraq in 2003 under the banner of fighting America only to be steered toward internal strife.

After that, the great operation to engage in Syria commenced and it is still continuing. The takfiri factions had envisioned in their consciousness and political cognizance an old enterprise in that country. One of the results of this operation was the emergence of Isis whose military effort has been steered once again toward Iraq- in limited mutual interests which the United States has not allowed to cross their specified sphere. Now, Isis is heading toward targeting Saudi Arabia which induced the international coalition to strike it.

Art of the Possible

The United States, its allies, and its regional adherents have adopted this three dimensional policy. This is due to the deep hostility which Arabian and Islamic nations hold toward America, the inability of the US army to engage in the battlefield for military and economic reasons, and the steady growth of powers which oppose America and Israel. Thus, the need for substitute armies able to accomplish strategic and tactical missions arose.

The second reason is the difficulty in engaging in direct combat with takfiri groups which Bin Laden had been temporarily able to drive toward fighting the far enemy in the late nineties and the new millennium, and the need which arose after September eleventh to return these groups to their favorite ideology of targeting the near enemy and regional foes.

Thirdly, Western powers were most of the time in need for an excuse for military intervention. They were also in need of signing long-term agreements (in security, economics…) with the terrorist takfiris. This is why they enabled the takfiris to be present- in order to justify intervention as in the case of Iraq in 2003.

Fourth is the need of America and Western countries to import the takfiri individuals who are active on their soil and to get rid of them.

Regional allies have other concerns – the most important which is the need to vent the internal pressure which these takfiri movements of revolutionary quality pose, and to solve jurisprudential issues when dealing with takfiri groups which lessen their excommunicative speech against certain regimes when they find a suitable range of movement abroad.

On another level, Arabian and Islamic countries need to get rid of the organizational structures of the takfiris or to weaken them as much as possible through driving them toward areas of conflict and strategic ambushes, as Saudi Arabia did in 2003 when it imported its dilemma with Qaeda to Iraq and got rid of that great predicament. The final motive for countries which are involved in the strategy of indirect control has to do with the regional aspect- they make use of takfiri groups to accomplish political regional goals, as in the case of Syria since 2011.

The nature of the takfiri groups is the reason why they have a tendency to be under this strategy. They are hostile and excommunicate everyone, even one another. Thus, they are prone to be steered in any possible direction. Due to the intellectual and jurisprudential differences among takfiri groups, and the lack of a unified command and strategy, they have a tendency to be infiltrated and to be steered in different directions. They also suffer from great vulnerability in security and this has facilitated the endeavors to recruit agents and secret intelligence infiltration.

They are also faced with a major problem which is financial aid – they lack an independent Islamic country which provides them with the money they need. This is why they depend on countries which exclusively adhere to the United States such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Pakistan. On the other hand, due to the security and political pressure exerted on takfiri groups, they are usually in search of any available outlet- especially since their speech carries very ambitious goals in comparison with their ability and narrow range of movement.

ألعوبة السعودية في سوريا

ألعوبة السعودية في سوريا

Courses of Action and Achievements

The main cases in this strategy are Afghanistan 1979, Iraq 2003, and Syria 2011. These cases have been generally successful in accomplishing their main goal which is transformation as much as possible of the threat which takfiri movements pose into a chance, and to take advantage of their blood-thirsty and destructive nature for the benefit of strategic US enterprises. They were successful in Afghanistan which the Soviets left, and they were successful in kindling sectarian and ethnic turmoil in Iraq in 2003. Currently, the United States has benefitted from these takfiri groups in Syria through destroying a great deal of the infrastructure of that country which is central in the allegiance of resistance. Israel has benefitted in creating an obstructive line on the border of the Jolan Heights which is formed of the Jabhat Nusra forces. In Iraq today, Isis represents a case which we wait to discover its outcomes and strategic courses.

On the long term, this strategy has been successful in shifting the military effort of takfiri groups away from directly targeting the West. In Afghanistan, the enemy was the Soviet Union, and in the period after that the targeting of American interests commenced up until the eleventh of September. Steering and indirect control were successful in Iraq in making American interests a secondary priority for takfiri groups in opposition to the priority of targeting other regional powers. As for Syria, American interests became completely distant from takfiri attacks, and Isis has almost fully eliminated attempts to target American interests. The main concern has become the geographical region- to establish the state of Isis, expand it, and to preserve its lands.

The profound and structural results show that America has been able to prevent takfiris from being active in regions where they pose threats on American interests. As a result of wide American domination, takfiri groups have not been able to move in an effective way which has influential political results anymore. They are only able to do so when there is no opposition to US interests which means where the US are at an advantage due to their presence. Thus, these takfiri groups – in an objective way- have become a part of the American scheme. With time they have avoided all regions vital to the United States and are active in less crucial areas.

July 20, 2015

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

by mkleit

Independent

How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

The fatal moment predicted by Prince Bandar may now have come for many Shia, with Saudi Arabia playing an important role in bringing it about by supporting the anti-Shia jihad in Iraq and Syria. Since the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on 10 June, Shia women and children have been killed in villages south of Kirkuk, and Shia air force cadets machine-gunned and buried in mass graves near Tikrit.

In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as “spoils of war”. Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.

There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa’ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar’s words, saying that they constituted “a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed”.

He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.” This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Dearlove’s explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6’s view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove’s speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that “is essentially Muslim on Muslim”. Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.

The forecast by Prince Bandar, who was at the heart of Saudi security policy for more than three decades, that the 100 million Shia in the Middle East face disaster at the hands of the Sunni majority, will convince many Shia that they are the victims of a Saudi-led campaign to crush them. “The Shia in general are getting very frightened after what happened in northern Iraq,” said an Iraqi commentator, who did not want his name published. Shia see the threat as not only military but stemming from the expanded influence over mainstream Sunni Islam of Wahhabism, the puritanical and intolerant version of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia that condemns Shia and other Islamic sects as non-Muslim apostates and polytheists.

Dearlove says that he has no inside knowledge obtained since he retired as head of MI6 10 years ago to become Master of Pembroke College in Cambridge. But, drawing on past experience, he sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there “can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam’s holiest shrines”. But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be “deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom”.

Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.

Sir Richard Dearlove

Sir Richard Dearlove

But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa’ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar’s approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.

He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence “literally shouting at me across his office: ‘9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.'” In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.

Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia “militancy” is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups.” She said that, in so far as Saudi Arabia did act against al-Qa’ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad. This policy may now be changing with the dismissal of Prince Bandar as head of intelligence this year. But the change is very recent, still ambivalent and may be too late: it was only last week that a Saudi prince said he would no longer fund a satellite television station notorious for its anti-Shia bias based in Egypt.

The Sunni Ahmed al-Rifai shrine near Tal Afar is bulldozed

The Sunni Ahmed al-Rifai shrine near Tal Afar is bulldozed

The problem for the Saudis is that their attempts since Bandar lost his job to create an anti-Maliki and anti-Assad Sunni constituency which is simultaneously against al-Qa’ida and its clones have failed.

By seeking to weaken Maliki and Assad in the interest of a more moderate Sunni faction, Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, as happened previously in its Syrian capital Raqqa, potential critics and opponents are disarmed, forced to swear allegiance to the new caliphate and killed if they resist.

The West may have to pay a price for its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have always found Sunni jihadism more attractive than democracy. A striking example of double standards by the western powers was the Saudi-backed suppression of peaceful democratic protests by the Shia majority in Bahrain in March 2011. Some 1,500 Saudi troops were sent across the causeway to the island kingdom as the demonstrations were ended with great brutality and Shia mosques and shrines were destroyed.

An alibi used by the US and Britain is that the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain is pursuing dialogue and reform. But this excuse looked thin last week as Bahrain expelled a top US diplomat, the assistant secretary of state for human rights Tom Malinowksi, for meeting leaders of the main Shia opposition party al-Wifaq. Mr Malinowski tweeted that the Bahrain government’s action was “not about me but about undermining dialogue”.

Iraqi leader al-Maliki

Iraqi leader al-Maliki

Western powers and their regional allies have largely escaped criticism for their role in reigniting the war in Iraq. Publicly and privately, they have blamed the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for persecuting and marginalising the Sunni minority, so provoking them into supporting the Isis-led revolt. There is much truth in this, but it is by no means the whole story. Maliki did enough to enrage the Sunni, partly because he wanted to frighten Shia voters into supporting him in the 30 April election by claiming to be the Shia community’s protector against Sunni counter-revolution.

But for all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki’s failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. “I guess they just didn’t believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad,” said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.

Of course, US and British politicians and diplomats would argue that they were in no position to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. But this is misleading. By insisting that peace negotiations must be about the departure of Assad from power, something that was never going to happen since Assad held most of the cities in the country and his troops were advancing, the US and Britain made sure the war would continue.

The chief beneficiary is Isis which over the last two weeks has been mopping up the last opposition to its rule in eastern Syria. The Kurds in the north and the official al-Qa’ida representative, Jabhat al-Nusra, are faltering under the impact of Isis forces high in morale and using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army. It is also, without the rest of the world taking notice, taking over many of the Syrian oil wells that it did not already control.

The Shia Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque in Mosul explodes

The Shia Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque in Mosul explodes

Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open. As Kurdish-held border crossings fall to Isis, Turkey will find it has a new neighbour of extraordinary violence, and one deeply ungrateful for past favours from the Turkish intelligence service.

As for Saudi Arabia, it may come to regret its support for the Sunni revolts in Syria and Iraq as jihadi social media begins to speak of the House of Saud as its next target. It is the unnamed head of Saudi General Intelligence quoted by Dearlove after 9/11 who is turning out to have analysed the potential threat to Saudi Arabia correctly and not Prince Bandar, which may explain why the latter was sacked earlier this year.

Nor is this the only point on which Prince Bandar was dangerously mistaken. The rise of Isis is bad news for the Shia of Iraq but it is worse news for the Sunni whose leadership has been ceded to a pathologically bloodthirsty and intolerant movement, a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, which has no aim but war without end.

The Sunni caliphate rules a large, impoverished and isolated area from which people are fleeing. Several million Sunni in and around Baghdad are vulnerable to attack and 255 Sunni prisoners have already been massacred. In the long term, Isis cannot win, but its mix of fanaticism and good organisation makes it difficult to dislodge.

“God help the Shia,” said Prince Bandar, but, partly thanks to him, the shattered Sunni communities of Iraq and Syria may need divine help even more than the Shia.

July 14, 2015

Yemen: A Voice in the Wilderness

by mkleit

“Yemeni people are not bad people, they are good people. They want to be respected, they want their sovereignty to be respected. We did not wage a war, a war was brought upon us. Our issue was an internal one and it would have been sorted out internally”

Hanan al-Harazi, her mother and her 8 year old daughter fled Yemen 10 days after the first bombs started to tear holes in her beloved country. Hanan’s daughter had begun to present the early signs of PTSD and for her sanity, the family decided to split itself down the middle, leaving Hanan’s husband behind in Yemen with his family and her two brothers. Hanan brings us a moving and powerful insight into the events leading up to the present devastation of Yemen at the hands of their Saudi oppressors and their imperialist allies.

Neutron bomb on the outskirts of Yemeni capital Sanaa

Neutron bomb on the outskirts of Yemeni capital Sanaa

Vanessa Beeley: When did you leave Yemen?

Hanan al-Harazi: I think we were in Yemen for almost 10 days after the bombing started and then there was a rocket attack on our immediate neighbourhood, very close to where we lived. After this, my daughter developed urinary incontinence and a sudden fear of any loud sound. Recently, I was looking for her for over an hour and I eventually found her hiding in the closet because she had heard an aircraft flying overhead. It will take decades to erase this trauma from her memory. I can’t even imagine what the other children still in Yemen have been going through after almost 103 days of continuous air raids. It is devastating.

V: How old is your daughter?

H: She is turning 9 in August. I used to work at a school so I know that children are not able to express themselves in words as well as adults.

I just gave her a piece of paper and I told her to write down her feelings. It was heart-breaking for me to read the pain and suffering in those baby words. A few days later, it’s the same thing, all she can draw or paint are jets bombing her country, really sad images. I know that the sun represents something really positive in a child’s life but when you have a child depicting a crying sun with a sad face, it should really pass a powerful message to the world.

We were lucky enough to have foreign passports that meant we could leave Yemen.Nobody is issuing visas to Yemeni nationals so this means 23 million people trapped inside a country that is being mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed with complete disregard for civilian life.

V: There are reports that state over 80% of the population are now enduring a humanitarian crisis. Is this figure realistic?

H: Absolutely! There is a catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen. My fear is that if the blockade is not lifted we are going to witness something horrific by all standards. You are talking about a population of which almost 60% are living below the poverty line. They don’t know how to secure the next meal and this was when their world was “ok” and not in a state of war. I would say the few people who had jobs have lost them and food prices have rocketed. The capital may have slightly better facilities than some outlying areas but even there, the water is now contaminated and the cost of bottled water has trebled in price. I have no idea how people are coping.

Food is still available in the markets but supplies are sparse. Once these supplies do run out, Yemen will starve. We produce very little food in Yemen itself, the majority of foodstuff is imported so the movement of goods is essential to our survival. The blockade will ensure that we cannot survive. There has been a tiny trickle of aid via certain aid groups and NGOs but this has only reached hardest hit areas like Aden, leaving entire swaths of the country without food, water or medical facilities. The cumulative effects will be horrendous and the Humanitarian crisis will be crippling.

V: I am assuming that KSA [as Israel did in Gaza] is targeting Yemen’s infrastructure in order to destroy the civilian ability to survive this onslaught.

H: Yes absolutely. If you look back to yesterday, the events in Amran and Lahj, they have targeted food markets and livestock markets. More evidence of the coalition determination to starve the people of Yemen. The livestock constitutes part of our minimal domestic produce, so this is a deliberate destruction of the civilian ability to survive. The footage that is coming out shows that they are targeting civilian areas, schools have been hit, stadiums, sports facilities, you name it. They have hit everything. They are saying they are only targeting military centres. Perhaps in the beginning this was true. Over the last few weeks we have seen far more random & intense bombing of civilian sites.

The Ansarullah movement is pretty much part of the Yemeni fabric, the Yemeni society. They don’t carry any markings or insignia to distinguish them from the local population so it is beyond ridiculous to say that they are hitting only Ansarullah targets in a city like Sanaa, that has a population of 3 million people .The civilian death toll is way higher than if they were only targeting Ansarullah operatives.

Doctor holds bomb-surviving three-days-old girl in Sanaa, Yemeni capital

Doctor holds bomb-surviving three-days-old girl in Sanaa, Yemeni capital

V: In your view is there any alternative to resisting this attack on Yemen? Is there an option for surrender and negotiation?

H: Look, I will speak for myself and for a lot of people in Yemen. The question of Yemen’s sovereignty has always been uppermost in Yemeni minds and this led to the 2011 revolution to get rid of our long- time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh because we knew he was largely a Saudi puppet. He was pushing the Saudi agenda in Yemen and giving it priority over the interests of the country. During this time many people lost their livelihoods and their lives and most of the major cities caught up in the revolt, came to a standstill for a while.

We have not come this far only to have another Saudi puppet government in place in Yemen. If this continues we no longer have an identity. Yemeni people are not bad people, they are good people. They want to be respected, they want their sovereignty to be respected. We did not wage a war, a war was brought upon us. Our issue was an internal one and it would have been sorted out internally.

Jamal Benomar, the former UN peace envoy to Yemen stated very openly that the warring factions were actually reaching an agreement before the first bomb hit. “When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,” said Mr. Benomar, a Moroccan diplomat. Thus it becomes obvious that our aspirations are being sacrificed at the altar of Imperialist greed and ambition.

V: We are seeing this across the region, these internal attempts at reconciliation and agreement that are being derailed by the Imperialist agenda and their sectarian propaganda. From what you are saying, this is also happening in Yemen?

H: I can categorically state, there is no sectarian conflict in Yemen. They have been trying to ignite a sectarian war in Yemen but Yemen is one country where we have had Shafi Sunnis and Zaydi Shias praying in the same mosques for hundreds of years. We are a society that is known to intermarry between these two sects. In reality they instigated this territorial war when they wanted to split Yemen into a 6 federal state system. We are tired of having their agenda imposed upon us and being forced to implement it.

I have lived in Yemen for the last 21 years and I never knew that my next door neighbour was a Shafi Sunni or a Zaydi Shia. It was not part of our culture, we never asked. We peacefully coexisted. This balkanisation agenda was the start of the entire problem. Their division was all wrong. They left some areas totally isolated.

The Ansarullah movement and the Southern Separatist movement were both in favour of a confederal state system where Yemen would be divided into north and south existing within a federal state. Most of us were ok with that.

President Hadi [although I hate to call him our President] was pushing the Saudi agenda of the 6 state system. Another thing that a lot of people don’t realise, is that when they divided the 6 state system they purposefully isolated one state called Azal. Azal incorporated many of the Zaydi strongholds, Sadaa, Amran, Sanaa and Dhamar. Azal was left without any resources or any access to the sea. It was blatant imprisonment and suppression of what we would term the “traditional powers” in that area. It was a deliberate attempt to weaken their influence in Yemen.

So Hadi’s plan would have divided Yemen into smaller sectarian states while the Ansarullah plan was more like going back to the boundaries before unity where the south would have greater autonomy over its own internal affairs.

V: How great is the “extremist” threat in Yemen?

H: Let me give you an example. The al-Jauf area has both Sunni and Shia populations and so does Marib and elsewhere. The Zaydi Shias and Shafi Sunnis are both very moderate sects. Yemeni people have no affiliation to the Wahabi sect of Saudi Arabia. Wahabism is alien to Yemen.

We do see certain areas in the South, like Hadramaut which has been in the media lately, parts of which are totally under control of Al Qaeda. The funny thing is, the bombs are falling on the very people that are fighting these extremists. Not a single bomb has been dropped on the extremist strongholds. Even though they know that AQ is in total control of al-Mukalla in Hadramaut and the seaport in that area. That has to be a huge question mark over their true agenda in the region.

The bombing has only achieved one thing and that is to further strengthen these extremist groups in Yemen. I know that in Ansarullah controlled-areas we have the local popular committees that are in charge of security and they have been working round the clock to ensure that the extremist elements are kept at bay. On the battleground their progress has been immensely impeded thanks to the airstrikes that serve as cover for the advancing extremists.

I am not sure if there are any foreign fighters at the moment. I know there are some Saudis, but I am not aware of foreigners from Afghanistan, Chechnya for example. If things escalate I believe we will see many more of these extremists entering Yemen via our borders, yes. Right now the northern borders are secure, apart from Marib where there is heavy fighting going on.

V: How much support are you receiving from Iran?

H: I do not believe that Iran is playing any active role. They support Yemen from a media perspective only. I believe Iran’s “support” is a propaganda ploy to justify hitting Yemen. This war was planned a long time ago, even before Ansarullah moved towards the capital. It becomes very suspicious when you have a president in power and a minority group leaves its stronghold in the northernmost tip of Yemen and moves down towards the capital, Sanaa, in the centre of the country. One city after another in the north falls to them and the president says nothing. Then just as they reach agreement which was the Peace and Partnership Initiative, Hadi suddenly decides that he does not want Ansarullah to have even marginal representation in Government. That was obviously never going to be acceptable, Ansarullah is a force on the ground that must be considered part of the coalition. That is where the conflict originated and that is why they placed Hadi under house arrest because he was following Saudi instructions. Saudi was against the Ansarullah inclusion in Yemen’s government. Then Hadi fled to the south.

My personal take was that the plan was always for Hadi to flee to the south and ask the Saudis for help which justified their bombing of the north of Yemen which has traditionally been the Zaydi stronghold and a thorn in their side. Ansarullah and the army discovered this plan and moved very quickly down to the south and hence you see this widespread bombing in all areas, not just in the north.

As a final point in the analysis of Iran’s role in Yemen. Yemen is a sovereign state and we are free to have bilateral ties with whomsoever we choose. Saudi had a problem with Yemen opening up about 12 flights per week to Iran mainly for bilateral reasons because the rest of the world shut down against Yemen. We have been under Saudi influence for, at least, the last 30 years. Many will say it’s much longer due to Saudi having been implicated in the assassination of President Ibrahim Al Hamdi who was probably the best President that Yemen has ever had.

Yemen’s greatest problems are economic in nature. Saudi never did anything to resolve our economic issues other than putting our leaders on their payroll in order to effectively destroy the country. It’s nearly impossible for a Yemeni to get a visa to travel, even to the UAE.

How can a country flourish when there are so many restrictions upon its people? When Ansarullah came to power our options were reviewed and bilateral ties with Iran were naturally investigated.

Injured kid after Saudi bombing on Talah, in Sada district, northern Yemen

Injured kid after Saudi bombing on Talah, in Sada district, northern Yemen

V: There is a very strong sense of Yemen’s isolation. Even last night 180 Yemeni civilians were massacred in Amran and Lahj yet the media barely mentions it. Is this how you perceive it?

H: Yes. This goes back to decades and decades of isolation. Let me ask this question to the world. The government collapsed in Yemen in September 2014. Can you imagine a country that has gone months and months without a government in place, without a police force, without an army, with a population that does carry arms and with crushing poverty, yet the crime rate is less than “first world” countries like America. Why are these people isolated when they have this inestimable respect for human life? They are an example to the world.

News trickles out via internet, Yemen Today channel and Ansarullah’s channel, al-Masirah. It pains me that people seem to be largely ignoring our suffering, particularly when it is relatively easy to inform themselves these days. For instance, Yemen has had no coverage regarding the internationally banned weaponry that is being used against us. I know that where I work, the area has been decimated. It is an area called Faj Attan a densely populated civilian area where there are shopping areas, thousands of residential homes, schools. How can you use such weapons of mass destruction in an area like this and be exempt from investigation?

V: Are you receiving any help through Oman?

H: Oman appears to have taken a neutral stance, for which I am grateful. The interesting thing is, about a month before the bombing started, I read a report from inside Oman stating that they were preparing for a refugee crisis. They were talking about the possibility of setting up refugee camps on the Yemen/Oman borders. So when the first bombs hit at 1.30 am when we were all asleep, I knew immediately that this had all been pre-planned. Maybe because Oman are part of the Gulf Cooperative [GCC] they had information that something was being prepared against Yemen. I do know that a lot of people have been flown into Oman for treatment, particularly during the suicide bomb attacks on the mosques in Yemen.

V: How is the internet in Yemen? How much electricity or alternative power source is available?

H: People are struggling, there is no power. Can you imagine a country in the 21st century without any power at all? Many people don’t realise that much of the water used in Yemen is pumped from underground reservoirs and so we need diesel or electricity to enable this pumping process, neither of which are available.

From what I hear, electricity is available maybe 40 minutes per week in the capital, Sanaa. There are other areas in the country that have no power at all. We did have this black out problem even before the war but never to this extent. Yes some have generators but black market fuel prices are crippling.

V: You mention WMD. I know there were reports on the use of nuclear bombs. The information coming out of Yemen is sketchy. Do you have any further information or evidence of this claim?

H: I know that 2 of the bombs that were used did produce a nuclear “type” mushroom cloud. Obviously the effects of any radiation will only be seen after time.

Yemen cluster bombs, But even if they did not use nuclear missiles..the weapons they are using are still illegal and devastating. Their use of cluster bombs is well documented, some have failed to detonate and have been photographed on the ground. They have used neutron bombs which generate so much pressure. When my neighbourhood came under attack in first 10 days, the pressure I felt from a relatively distant explosion was terrifying. I had pain in my ears from the pressure draft for weeks afterwards.

The Yemenis were leading normal lives before being suddenly flung into a war zone, its bewildering for everyone. My husband is part of a food distribution network for the poor during Ramadan. He had just gone to deliver some goods to someone in the neighbourhood. Two minutes after he left there were direct rocket hits on this area and this poor man who didn’t even know where his next meal was coming from, was killed. How many more people must die senselessly to serve an Imperialist agenda?

V: Do you have a personal concept of what that Imperialist agenda is?

H: I do not think it is related to Iran despite the propaganda to the contrary. I think we are paying dearly for trying to free ourselves from Saudi slavery. We are paying for our freedom with our lives.

I have been told there are oil and more importantly, gas reserves in al-Jawf which is bordering Saudi Arabia and has been protected by them for years. In 2011 when the people took to the streets demanding a better life, President Saleh was forced to admit its existence publicly for the first time. So we are cursed, we are cursed because we have oil & gas. Every country that has natural resources is cursed and a target of Imperialist intervention.

Saudi Arabia has fostered corruption in Yemen for decades. Ansarullah were committed to ending this poisonous influence on our leaders and this would have countermanded Saudi power in Yemen. When the first bombs hit, the “sold” tribal sheikhs and politicians were seen fleeing to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

V: Would you be able to just elaborate on the situation in Aden and also address why Yemen is so important to Saudi Arabia.

H: Aden is being portrayed by the pro aggression media as being a battle for the legitimacy of Hadi. In 2011 Hadi was the only viable choice to fill the power vacuum. 6 million northerners voted for him while the south actually boycotted elections. This alone should counter the claims that he has legitimacy in the South of Yemen.

In Aden what is happening now is that Hadi has gone back to the South but it has to be made clear that the people of Aden and the surrounding area are not pro Hadi, they are also fighting for their independence and are not pro Saudi aggression.

If you look at a map of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is landlocked. Its only access or lifeline to the outside world is via the Bab-el-Mandeb straits in the south of Yemen and the Straits of Hormuz which are controlled by Iran. Yemen has never attempted to block or to impede movement through the Yemeni controlled Mandeb straits. To be honest I don’t even think that Yemen truly controls this area, it is covertly under the control of the Imperialist nations. Saudi Arabia has a lot of internal turmoil and is brutally crushing its own internal opposition. We would never interfere in Saudi internal affairs but I believe that they fear a strong Yemen. With our new constitution clearly stating that leaders can only have two terms in power, we would be the only republic in the GCC block. In Saudi Arabia, which is a despotic regime, our evolution could threaten the stability of their ruling families.

V: What is the message that you would like to convey to the outside world.

H: My hope right now, apart from a miracle from God, is that there are more good people than bad people in this world and I wish we could reach out to them and tell them, today it is me, tomorrow it is you.

We just want to survive, we want to live. Yemen is not the country it is being portrayed to be. We are not terrorists. We are proud of our culture. We are a peace loving people. Yemen is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. We are being portrayed as savages by a media that is supporting the savaging of our land.

I also have to say I respect Ansarullah for their wisdom and self -restraint especially when our mosques came under attack. Mosques that may have been built by Zaydi but are inclusive of all sects for worship. Ansarullah released a statement instructing people not to be drawn into the foreign conspiracy to ignite sectarian divisions. I feel they genuinely represent millions of Yemeni who are fighting for self-determination and recognition as a sovereign nation.

Surrender is not an option while our own internal peace process is being derailed by external aggression. Saudi Arabia has failed to send in ground troops and they are attempting to bomb us into submission. They see that this will not succeed so they have now imposed this brutal, horrific, cruel, vicious blockade on Yemen in the hope that the Yemeni people will turn against those who are fighting the Saudi invaders. I am proud of the solidarity that my people have shown to one another. Even in a situation like this where they have so few resources they will still take care of their neighbours. We are human beings and we have a right to a decent life.

Yemen is far from perfect but no country in this world is perfect. We did not wage this war, we did not provoke this war. For the first 40 days of the Saudi offensive, Yemen did not fire one bullet towards Saudi Arabia. It is rank hypocrisy from Saudi Arabia to label us the aggressor. It has always been the opposite, Saudi Arabia has always been sending its filthy elements into my country and attempting to spread its disgusting Wahabi ideology. Whether Zaydi or Shafi we will never adopt this distorted, twisted, ugly version of Islam.

I would go so far as to state that Yemen has potential to be a model for true democracy in the Middle East. There are 25 million people who call Yemen, home. We simply ask to be left in Peace. Is that too much to ask?

Two small refugees from Sada district to Houdeida in Yemen

Two small refugees from Sada district to Houdeida in Yemen

This interview first appeared at thewallwillfall.wordpress.com

Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She lived in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defence and again in 2013. In 2014 she established the Gaza Smile Project to raise funds for children in Gaza. She spent her childhood in Egypt with her father, Sir Harold Beeley who was Special Envoy to Cairo during both Suez Crises, confirmed Nasserist and Middle East Advisor to Ernest Bevin. Since 2011, Vanessa has spent most of her time in the Middle East . She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement. Visit her blog thewallwillfall.wordpress.com.

June 26, 2015

Saudi Arabia Will Fail in Yemen

by mkleit

Asher Orkaby

Asher Orkaby, PhD, is a research fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and is the author of a forthcoming book, The International History of the Yemen Civil War, 1962-68.

National Interest

Neutron bomb on the outskirts of Yemeni capital Sanaa

Neutron bomb on the outskirts of Yemeni capital Sanaa

As the warring Yemeni parties gather for preliminary peace talks in Geneva, Saudi Arabia continues its unrelenting bombing campaign against the tribes of the Houthi movement. For two and a half months, the air forces of the Saudi coalition have targeted military sites, homes and businesses affiliated with the Houthi movement, as well as the palaces and residences of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his political allies. Yet, as the Houthis sit down at the negotiating table this week, their domestic political and strategic position has not been greatly affected by this extensive bombing. Saudi Arabia’s futile air campaign is a further demonstration of the limits of airpower in general, and in South Arabia specifically.

Saudi Arabia did not pioneer the use of airpower to exercise regional power, which originated with the British imperial policy of “air control” in post-WWI Iraq. Winston Churchill, the postwar Secretary of War and Secretary of State for Air championed the use of air force to maintain British control over Iraq while expending the least amount of military force on the ground. Inaccurate intelligence, inadequate navigation equipment and pilot errors led many bombs astray, often hitting the wrong target and with little distinction between civilians and militants. Attacks and patrols by the British Royal Air Force were guided by sparse local intelligence networks and were intended more for the psychological impact of unfamiliar aerial bombardment rather than the ability to achieve a military objective.

This model of British imperial power and control was used in other colonial arenas, including South Yemen, then the British Aden Protectorate. A decade of British aerial patrols and attacks during the 1960s failed to stem the tide of a Yemeni nationalist movement that supplanted British colonial rule in South Yemen. The success of Britain’s air control in Arabia was limited by two main factors. The mountainous terrain of Yemen provided the guerilla opposition with an impervious natural cover from bombs within a cave system that pockmarks the landscape. International media was stacked against the remnants of the British Empire and bombs that found civilian targets were met with a great deal of negative press.

The British Royal Air Force was not the only imperial force in South Arabia trying to use its air force to dominate a tribal opposition. During the 1960s, Egypt transferred nearly a third of its air capabilities to North Yemen in support of the fledgling republic founded in 1962. The tactical success of the Egyptian aerial campaign was similarly hampered by Yemen’s terrain. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser even went as far as authorizing the use of poison gas against cave shelters, intending to flush the opposition out into the open before coming back around for a second round of high explosive incendiary bombs.

Air superiority was the linchpin of Egypt’s strategic model of maintaining a triangular defensive perimeter around North Yemen’s three main cities of Hodeidah, Sana’a, and Taiz, while forestalling a concerted guerilla offensive from the surrounding rural and mountainous regions. Both Britain and Egypt were under political pressure to limit the number of casualties that would have undoubtedly occurred as a consequences of a more effective large-scale ground operation. Air power in Arabia, however, was limited in its ability to achieve tangible military goals. Rather than subdue domestic opposition, aerial bombardment only fed the flames of propaganda and distrust of a faceless enemy from above. Both Britain and Egypt were forced to make an ignominious withdrawal by the end of 1967, leaving failed states in their wake.

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

Saudi Arabia and its coalition of Arab and African countries appears to be taking the same path as the failed imperial policies of the 1960s. The Saudi air campaign was originally met with tepid enthusiasm by members of Yemen’s Southern Movement and supporters of Yemen’s ousted, but still internationally recognized President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Many Yemenis were alarmed by the speed with which the tribesmen of the Houthi movement took control of the government in Sana’a and extended their military presence southward in pursuit of Hadi and his supporters. Two and a half months later, the Saudi bombing campaign has evolved from a series of tactical strikes to slow the Houthi military assault into a vendetta bombing campaign against Saudi political opponents in Yemen. Many of the airstrikes are targeting civilian houses belonging to Saleh’s family and friends, factories deemed suspicious and civilian transportation hubs and airports across the country, all of which have questionable military value.

Sitting comfortably in his luxury hotel of exile, President Hadi continues to condone Saudi bombings even as a staggering number of his countrymen have become internal refugees and are suffering a humanitarian crisis of serious proportions. Rather than garner additional public support for President Hadi, the Saudi bombing campaign has only increased the skepticism of his remote government and has instead played into the hands of Houthi propagandists. All the while, it does not seem that the military capabilities of the Houthi tribesmen or the segments of the Yemeni army still loyal to Saleh have been greatly diminished.

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

Not only have the Saudi’s not been able to slow the Houthi advance, but on June 6, Scud missiles launched by Houthi forces hit King Khalid Air Base, Saudi Arabia’s largest air base and the operations center for the current bombing campaign. Although Saudi officials tried to downplay the attack, which was shrouded in secrecy, it soon became known that Saudi Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Muhammad bin Ahmed Al-Shaalan was killed during the attack. This was particularly shocking to the Saudis as the Shaalan family is nationally prominent and connected through marriage and political alliance to the ruling Saud family.

The attack exposed the disturbing unreadiness of Saudi air defense capabilities and the limits of their air force’s ability to affect military and political outcomes in Yemen. Since the beginnings of the bombing campaign in March 2015, Saudi-coalition planes have faced little anti-aircraft fire, hardly a test of the pilots resolve or training. Even though the Houthis lack armed surface-to-air resistance, the recent Scud missile attack reinforced the fact that the Saudi aerial campaign has failed to eliminate the Houthi coalition’s large-scale military capability.

What emerged from the Scud missile debacle was that an American team is operating a Patriot missile defense system in the vicinity of the King Khalid Air Base, which is also the command center for the U.S. drone campaign in the region. It has been reported that several of the fired Scud missiles were intercepted by U.S. Patriot missiles, the first instance where American forces and Houthis exchanged fire, albeit indirectly. Additionally, the U.S. Air Force has been providing Saudi-coalition planes with satellite imagery and intelligence related to Houthi targets. The emergence of these details has reinforced a propaganda line reiterated on the Houthi cable channel al-Masirah that refers to the Saudi coalition as the “Saudi-American coalition.”

Images of Yemeni Scud missile being fired at King Khalid Air Base, Southern KSA

Images of Yemeni Scud missile being fired at King Khalid Air Base, Southern KSA

Despite emerging evidence that the Saudi-coalition’s aerial campaign is not only ineffective but counterproductive to the promotion of a political settlement in Yemen, the bombings continue with no sign of concluding. The relentless pursuit of an aggressive military stance towards the Houthi movement is in part a reflection of Saudi Arabia’s struggle against the ghost of Iranian involvement in South Arabia. There is no Saudi exit strategy in which the bombing can stop, short of a complete Houthi political withdrawal. Otherwise, this war will demonstrate a weakness in Saudi policy towards Iran. This aggressive policy is driven in particular by the new Saudi King Salman’s need to exhibit political and military dominance to quiet his many doubters. The Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the director of operations in Yemen, feels additional pressure to act decisively in order to prove his resolve as the world’s youngest minister of defense at the age of 30.

Even with all of King Salman’s resolve and Mohammad bin Salman’s machismo, the Saudi aerial campaign will be limited by a difficult propaganda war by the Houthis and the same historic terrain that served as an obstacle to British and Egyptian aerial control of Yemen during the 1960s. Saudi Arabia cannot triumph through force of arms alone as its air force has reached the upper limits of what it can achieve against the Houthis. Continuing a fruitless aerial campaign will only foster increasing anti-Saudi political alliance in Yemen and lead to an ignominious withdrawal reminiscent of British and Egyptian withdrawals of the past.

Yemeni soldier destroys Saudi tank from close range inside Saudi-border military camp

Yemeni soldier destroys Saudi tank from close range inside Saudi-border military camp

Yemeni soldiers hold Yemeni flag from Saudi military outpost in Asseer

Yemeni soldiers hold Yemeni flag from Saudi military outpost in Asseer

Yemeni army firing locally-manufactured Zilzal "earthquake" missile at Saudi military base in the south

Yemeni army firing locally-manufactured Zilzal “earthquake” missile at Saudi military base in the south

Yemeni army firing Grad missiles at Saudi bases in south

Yemeni army firing Grad missiles at Saudi bases in south

Yemeni soldier declaring victory over Saudi soldiers in Jizan area south of KSA

Yemeni soldier declaring victory over Saudi soldiers in Jizan area south of KSA

Yemeni soldier holding a LAW during fights against Saudi soldiers in Jizzan

Yemeni soldier holding a LAW during fights against Saudi soldiers in Jizzan

Yemeni Yirivan missiles being fired at Saudi military bases in Jizzan

Yemeni Yirivan missiles being fired at Saudi military bases in Jizzan

June 15, 2015

جيش الـcia في سوريا: مليار دولار سنوياً لـ 10 آلاف مقاتل

by mkleit

جريدة الأخبار

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عدا عن الدعم السعودي والقطري والتركي والأردني والإسرائيلي لمسلحي الجنوب السوري، كشفت صحيفة «واشنطن بوست» أن الـ«سي أي ايه» تنفذ برنامجاً لدعم مقاتلي «الجبهة الجنوبية» كلفته مليار دولار سنوياً

لوكالة الاستخبارات المركزية الأميركية (سي آي ايه) جيش يضم آلاف المقاتلين المعارضين في سوريا. وهؤلاء يقاتلون في الجنوب السوري بشكل خاص، وتتولى الاستخبارات الأميركية تدريبهم وتسليحهم وتزويدهم بالمعلومات الميدانية. ما سبق ليس اتهاماً أطلقه الحكم في دمشق على معارضيه الذين يصنفهم الغرب بـ»المعتدلين»، بل وقائع كانت مدار بحث على طاولات صنع القرار في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وكشفتها صحيفة «واشنطن بوست» أول من أمس.

تمويل وتسليح وتدريب بكلفة مليار دولار سنوياً، يذهب جلّها إلى مقاتلي «الجبهة الجنوبية في الجيش السوري الحر». السخاء ليس حكراً على الأميركيين، بل إنه جزء من تعاون أميركي ــ سعودي ــ قطري ــ تركي. وإذا ما قيس هذا الأمر على السوابق الأميركية في أفغانستان ونيكاراغوا وغيرها من الدول التي بنت فيها وكالة الاستخبارات جيوشاً من المرتزقة، حيث كانت الولايات المتحدة تأخذ على عاتقها الجزء الأصغر من الإنفاق وتجعل حلفاءها يتولون الحصة الأكبر من الكلفة، يمكن توقع المبالغ الخيالية التي تنفق سنوياً في الجنوب السوري. ويمكن أيضاً تخيّل القدر الهائل من الأموال الذي يُدفع لإراقة الدم والتدمير في عموم سوريا، حيث لا تكف المعارضة منذ أربع سنوات عن الشكوى من الشح المالي والنقص في السلاح والذخيرة، وتزعم أنها متروكة لتواجه وحيدة النظام وحلفاءه.

برنامج الـ»سي أي ايه» الذي كشفت عنه الـ»بوست» هو من بين أكبر البرامج السرية التي تنفذها الوكالة في العالم، بحسب الصحيفة التي قالت إن كلفته تشكل نسبة «1 من 15» من إجمال إنفاق الـ»سي أي إيه» سنوياً. وهذا البرنامج، بحسب مسؤولين في الاستخبارات ورجال سياسة أميركيين قابلتهم الصحيفة، ينص على تدريب مقاتلين وتسليحهم، وتزويدهم بالمعدات اللوجستية، وجمع المعلومات التي يحتاجونها في معاركهم، وإيصالهم مع ما يحتاجونه إلى الأراضي السورية.

عنصر من المعارضة السورية مع صاروخ تاو الأمريكي

هو إذاً برنامج عسكري «متكامل»، يضمن بناء جيش تابع لـ»سي أي إيه»، على شاكلة ما قامت به الوكالة عينها في أفغانستان ونيكاراغوا في ثمانينيات القرن الماضي. الجزء الأكبر من هذا البرنامج يجري تنفيذه انطلاقاً من الأردن، حيث درّبت الاستخبارات المركزية الأميركية 10 آلاف مقاتل حتى اليوم، بحسب المقال الذي نشرته «واشنطن بوست» على رأس صفحتها الأولى السبت الماضي. مبلغ مليار دولار سنوياً، بحسب مسؤولين أميركيين، هو جزء من مشروع أكبر تبلغ كلفته مليارات الدولارات، وتساهم فيه إلى جانب الولايات المتحدة، السعودية وقطر وتركيا. ويتركز عمل هذه الدول في الجنوب السوري، لدعم ما يُسمى «الجبهة الجنوبية في الجيش السوري الحر». وأجرى كاتبا تقرير الـ»بوست» عملية حسابية بسيطة استنتجا فيها أن كلفة المقاتل الواحد سنوياً تبلغ 100 ألف دولار أميركي!  الكشف عن هذه العملية «المتواصلة منذ عام 2013»، أتى على خلفية قرار أصدرته بالإجماع لجنة الاستخبارات في مجلس النواب الأميركي، قضى بخفض ميزانية برنامج الـ»سي أي إيه» في سوريا بنسبة 20 في المئة. لكن هذا القرار لن يكون نافذاً إلا بعد سلسلة طويلة من الإجراءات، بينها تصويت المجلس عليه الأسبوع الجاري. كما أن سريان القرار بحاجة إلى تبنيه من قِبل مجلس الشيوخ ولجنة الاستخبارات الخاصة به التي ستبدأ درس ميزانية الاستخبارات قبل نهاية حزيران. وبحسب الصحيفة، فإن البيت الأبيض سيباشر اتصالاته بمجلس الشيوخ لتجنيب وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية خفض ميزانية برنامج عملها في سوريا الذي تبنته لجنة الاستخبارات في مجلس النواب.

كبير النواب الديموقراطيين في لجنة الاستخبارات آدم شيف قال للصحيفة إن ممثلي الحزبين (الديموقراطي والجمهوري) مجمعون على القلق حيال الاستراتيجية الأميركية في سوريا. هذا القلق، على ما يبدو مما نشرته اليومية الأميركية، متمحور حول نظرة الساسة الأميركيين ودوائر الاستخبارات إلى ما يجري في الميدان السوري. فبحسب تقرير الصحيفة، حتى المدافعون عن برنامج عمل الـ»سي أي إيه» يقرّون بالأداء الضعيف للفصائل «المعتدلة»، وبأنها ستهزم في أي معركة حاسمة مع «داعش». موقف أكثر «صراحة» في هذا السياق نقلته الـ»بوست» عن أحد كبار مساعدي الجمهوريين في الكونغرس، قائلاً إن تراجع قوات النظام في سوريا «ليس نتيجة عمل من يسمّون المعتدلين». أما شيف، فقال: «للأسف، أعتقد أن «داعش» و»النصرة» وبعض الفصائل الإسلامية المتطرفة الأخرى هم في أفضل موقع للاستثمار في الفوضى التي يمكن أن ترافق انحداراً سريعاً للنظام».

وينقل كاتبا التقرير عن مسؤولين قولهم إن هذه اللهجة مستندة إلى عدم قدرة وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية على «إظهار أن قواتها سيطرت على أراضٍ أو ربحت معارك أو حققت نتائج ملموسة».

في المقابل، يدافع داعمو البرنامج عن رجال الـ»سي أي ايه» في الميدان، قائلين إنهم «يحاصرون قاعدة للجيش السوري»، فيما يؤكد آخرون أنهم تمكنوا من السيطرة على عدد من القواعد الرئيسية للجيش السوري جنوب دمشق.

May 9, 2015

أهالي صعدة، هلأ لوين؟

by mkleit

 خريطة-اليمن-تظهر-فيها-المناطق-التي-استولت-عليها-السعودية

طالب تحالف العدوان السعودي بخروج جميع المدنيّين قبل الساعة 7 مساءاً من مدينة صعدة من أجل “قصف المراكز العسكرية للحوثيين”، وذلك حوالي الساعة 3 من بعد ظهر يوم الجمعة 8 أيار، رغم أنه قصف شبكات الاتصالات في صعدة، ما أدى إلى عزلها عن العالم الخارجي، ولعل المرء يستحضر كلام المتحدث باسم جيش الاحتلال الصهيوني أفيخاي أدرعي، إبّان العدوان الصهيوني على غزة سنة 2014، حيث طلب من “عامة المسلمين في قطاع غزة بمغادرته” من أجل استهداف ما أسماها “المراكز الأمنية والعسكرية”.

تقع المحافظة اليمنية صعدة على الحدود مع السعودية، حيث تحيطها من الجهة الشمالية مناطق نجران وجيزان (سابقا لليمن قبل أن تتخلى عنهم الدولة لصالح السعودية بعد إحتلالها)، ومن جهة الشرق محافظة الجوف، والجنوب محافظة عمران، والغرب محافظة حجة. ولكن تشترك كل هذه المحافظات بالنصيب الأكبر من القصف السعودي اليومي، فأين يذهب أهالي صعدة؟ إن أخذنا بالاعتبار أن أقرب المناطق خارج المحافظة يتطلب من المرء القيادة لثلاث ساعات متواصلة، وهو وقت غير كافي للجميع بسبب شحّ الوقود في المحافظات كافة بفعل الحصار السعودي الشامل على اليمن.

قصف مقام السيد حسين الحوثي في صعدة

قصف مقام السيد حسين الحوثي في صعدة

عانى أهالي قطاع غزة من الأمر عينه، فكان العدو من أمامهم والبحر من خلفهم، والمصري يغلق المعابر الحدودية الوحيدة. فلا مفرّ للغزاوي إلا بتلقّي القذائف أو السباحة هرباً منها. بيد أن أهالي صعدة لا خيار لهم سوى تلقّي القذائف التي سببت المجازر تلو المجازر على مدى أكثر من 40 يوماً من العدوان على اليمن، “وين يروح؟ في الخلاء؟” يقول أحد العاملين في قناة المسيرة اليمنية.

فمنذ صدور الإعلان عن قيادة التحالف السعودي، توقع العاملون في القناة حصول مجازر كثيرة بحق المدنيّين في صعدة “أكثر مما يحصل يومياً”، يقول أحد الصحافيين. ولكن أكد الآخرون على وقوف الشعب وثبوته خلف القوات الأمنية المشتركة واللجان الشعبية بعد هذه الضربات، كما حصل إبّان العدوان الصهيوني على لبنان في تموز 2006 والقصف الهمجي على الضاحية الجنوبية لبيروت. حيث نهض بعض المواطنون من تحت ركام منازلهم ليأكدوا على دعمهم للمقاومة الإسلامية والعمليات العسكرية ضد الإحتلال الصهيوني.

وهي ذات الوقفات والنداءات، من صعدة وحجة والجوف إلى عدن وشبوة ومأرب وتعز، وكان الفعل موازياً للكلام، حيث كان الدعم بالسلاح والغذاء والمال والذهب والدم لعناصر القوات الأمنية المشتركة واللجان الشعبية، ويقوم الأخيران بتحرير المناطق الجنوبية من سيطرة تنظيم القاعدة الإرهابي. بالإضافة إلى قيام  مطالبات شعبية في الجوف وضواحي صنعاء وذمار والحديدة بالدخول البري إلى السعودية للرد على كل جرائم العدوان ميدانياً.

هناك تشابه كبير بين ما حصل لغزة في 2014 ويحصل اليوم في اليمن، ولكن التشابه الأكبر يأتي بين تعامل الصهيوني والسعودي مع الحروب على الشعوب، إن كان بعدم وجود بنك أهداف واضح المعالم ومحدد، أو بتبرير قتل المدنيّين وتدمير مساكنهم باستهداف “مراكز عسكرية للعدو”. بالإضافة إلى إضفاء معاني “الشرعية والودّ” للعمليات العسكرية عبر إعطائها أسماء “لطيفة” مثل “إعادة الأمل” التابعة للعدوان السعودي أو “Protective Edge الزاوية الوقائية” التابعة للجيش الإسرائيلي في عدوانها الأخير على غزة والتي أسمتها كذلك للإعلام الغربي، بينما كان “الجرف الصامد” للإعلام العربي.

صورة من العدوان الإسرائيلي على غزة 2014

صورة من العدوان الإسرائيلي على غزة 2014

May 7, 2015

Preaching Hate and Sectarianism in the Gulf

by mkleit

Why did Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates provide a pulpit for a firebrand cleric who calls for the destruction of Shiites, Alawites, Christians, and Jews?

BY OREN ADAKI, DAVID ANDREW WEINBERG

Source

Arab Gulf states

Saudi Arabia expands its involvement in wars across the Middle East, the kingdom has given a platform to an extremist cleric who seems to believe this struggle is not just against the Islamic State or rivals in Yemen. Saad bin Ateeq al-Ateeq, a Saudi preacher with long-standing ties to the kingdom’s government, recently called upon God to “destroy” Shiites, Alawites, Christians, and Jews.

Saudi King Salman insists that Sunni-Shiite hatred only motivates intervention in Yemen by other “regional powers” — meaning Iran. Ateeq, however, tells a different story: Speaking to the Saudi state news channel al-Ekhbariya one day after Riyadh went to war, he argued that Yemen’s lands were designated “purely for monotheism” and “may not be polluted, neither by Houthis nor Iranians.” He labeled these groups “rafidis,” a derogatory label bashing Shiite Islam, and ominously elaborated: “We are cleansing the land from these rats.”

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — the three most influential members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — have recently displayed surprising unity through their shared participation in multilateral military operations, first against the Islamic State in Syria and now against Houthi insurgents in Yemen.

Yet these three governments have another thing in common — each has provided a platform for the radical preaching of Ateeq, whose toxic incitement against other religions parallels the narrative of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda. That America’s allies would tolerate a religious leader as extreme as this Saudi preacher poses a threat to U.S. interests and suggests the Gulf is failing to live up to its explicit commitments to repudiate the Islamic State’s hateful ideology.

It’s not like these Persian Gulf states can claim not to know about Ateeq’s hate-filled rhetoric — he has been repeating it for years in prominent, government-affiliated places of worship. Earlier this year, Ateeq delivered a televised sermon at Qatar’s state-controlled Grand Mosque beseeching God to “destroy the Jews and whoever made them Jews, and destroy the Christians and the Alawites and whoever made them Christian, and the Shiites and whoever made them Shiite.” He also prayed for God to “save [the] Al-Aqsa [mosque in Jerusalem] from the claws of the Jews.”

Yet calling for the wholesale destruction of other religions appears to be one of the preacher’s favorite refrains. In February 2013, Ateeq delivered a Fridaysermon at Qatar’s Grand Mosque using an almost identical formulation, once again urging God to destroy the Christians and Jews. Similarly, in October of that year, Ateeq declared from Qatar’s Grand Mosque that Jews and Christians are enemies of God, and this February he delivered anothersermon, apparently from Sudan, calling for the destruction of Christians, Alawites, Shiites, and Jews.

When approached for comment regarding Ateeq’s views, Ali Saad al-Hajiri, the director of the media office at the Qatari Embassy in Washington, D.C., said Doha “in no way endorses or supports this individual” and “rejects any divisions in Arab society along sectarian lines.” Hajiri added that Qatar “faces the challenge of balancing the needs of a free society and freedom of speech with the need to take the strongest possible stance against terrorism and hate speech.” The Saudi and Emirati embassies in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Despite Ateeq’s unmistakable incitement of religious hatred, he is treated as an establishment figure in the Gulf. He regularly preaches in Qatar, addressing crowds in the gas-rich emirate on at least 13 occasions since 2010, typically as a guest of Qatar’s Ministry of IslamicAffairs. Notably, half of these invitations transpired after his 2013 sermon under government supervision calling for the destruction of other religions. He has spoken several times to different branches of Qatar’s security services: According to local media, one lecture in July 2013 to the Qatari navy, a frequent U.S. military partner in the Gulf, was attended by the commander of the Qatari Royal Navy Forces; that same month, Ateeq gave another lectureto security officials organized by the Qatari Interior Ministry’s airport security and airport passports departments. Qatar has invested billions of dollars in its airports in hopes of becoming a global aviation hub, and the Interior Ministry is Washington’s main interlocutor for discussing terror finance.

But it’s not just Qatar, which has long been accused of turning a blind eye to Islamist radicals, that has lent official legitimacy to Ateeq’s message. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has arrayed itself against Islamist forces in Egypt and Libya, has also given him a platform: In July 2014, the preacherwas featured as a speaker at the Dubai International Holy Quran Award, a yearly competition promoting Quranic memorization and Islamic culture. The event was organized “under the sponsorship” of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE as well as the ruler of Dubai.

According to Sheikh Mohammed’s official website, his advisor for humanitarian and cultural affairs — who chaired the contest’s organizing committee — announced that Ateeq would be attending as one of the “elite group of scholars and preachers” hosted by the event. Ateeq singled out the advisor in the audience by name, saying that he deserved the “thanks of God,” and the two were photographed shaking hands on stage.

Yet it is Saudi Arabia where Ateeq has most firmly embedded himself within government institutions. According to the biography on his website, heserves as a “supervisor for Islamic awareness” at the Saudi Education Ministry and directs an Islamic awareness council at the Riyadh regional government’s Department of Education. His involvement with Riyadh’s education department apparently goes back to the days when Saudi Arabia’s current king was the region’s governor. Ateeq has regularly been involved in educational events in the region, including lecturing to children.

Ateeq also exerts an influence over the next generation of the Saudi armed forces, serving as the director of the Guidance Office for housing at King Khaled Military Academy (KKMA). The academy is classified by the Saudi Arabian National Guard Ministry as one of its “departments and units,” and graduates of the academy automatically earn the rank of lieutenant. His role as a preacher at the university goes back to 1994, when Saudi Arabia’s late — supposedly reformist — King Abdullah was the commander in charge of the National Guard.

Ateeq also has contributed in other ways to shaping the ideology of members of the Saudi security forces. In 2013, the Interior Ministry’s Facilities Security Force (FSF), which is in charge of protecting Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities,hosted Ateeq at its headquarters to run a seminar under the direction of the FSF’s commanding general regarding the hajj, including how to treat pilgrims properly. The Interior Ministry is under the control of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was just promoted to next in line to inherit the Saudi throne.

Further, Ateeq’s biography states that he chairs the board of a quasi-governmental Saudi religious authority known as the Cooperative Office for Preaching, Guidance, and Direction in the Neighborhoods of West Naseem in Riyadh. Such cooperative offices around Saudi Arabia have sponsored dozens of Ateeq’s lectures throughout the country, with fliers featuring the logo of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which supervises the government-subsidized offices. Saudi Arabia’s official news wire has similarly promoteddozens of lectures by Ateeq, going back as far as a decade.

This March, Ateeq delivered a lecture at Riyadh’s King Khaled Mosque. The mosque’s “religious and social activities” come with the “sponsorship” of the King Khaled Charitable Foundation, the board of which is overseen by six princes and princesses fathered by the late King Khaled. Fliers used by the mosque to promote Ateeq’s lecture included logos of the Saudi Islamic Affairs Ministry and the late king’s foundation, and the foundation’s logo was also prominently featured behind Ateeq during his talk. The King Khaled Charitable Foundation did not respond to requests for comment on its involvement with Ateeq.

It is perhaps an irony of the Arabic language that Ateeq’s last name translates to “archaic” or “antiquated,” since he embodies the Gulf’s most backward impulses. But the Saudi preacher’s obvious incitement is far from an isolated case: The kingdom systematically indoctrinates its youth with hateful views in official, government-published school textbooks. Recent government-published textbooks state that those who renounce Islam to convert to another religion should be killed and that the most important debate about homosexuality is how gay people should be murdered. That is unlikely to change anytime soon so long as religious hard-liners such as Ateeq are granted influence over the Saudi education system.

As the region’s superpower patron, it is up to Washington to voice its displeasure about the continued flow of state privileges to preachers of hate. Such incitement undoubtedly poses a long-term threat to the fight against terrorism and to U.S. national security.

U.S. President Barack Obama should say as much when he sits down with GCC leaders at Camp David later this month. The president himself warned recently that the Gulf states face an internal threat from a “destructive and nihilistic” ideology; when he meets with the Gulf leaders, he can argue that tackling this sort of religious incitement is in these regimes’ best interest. By providing an official platform to hate preachers such as Ateeq, Gulf rulers are feeding an ideological chimera that threatens their ultimate survival.

April 27, 2015

Former U.N. Envoy Says Yemen Political Deal was Close Before Saudi Airstrikes Began

by mkleit

Joe Lauria at newseditor@wsj.com and Margaret Coker atmargaret.coker@wsj.com

WSJ

A Houthi rebel in San’a, Yemen on Sunday walks past a building damaged by the Saudi-led air campaign against the Iranian-backed force. PHOTO: KHALED ABDULLAH/REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS—Yemen’s warring political factions were on the verge of a power-sharing deal when Saudi-led airstrikes began a month ago, derailing the negotiations, the United Nations envoy who mediated the talks said.

Jamal Benomar, who spearheaded the negotiations until he resigned last week, told The Wall Street Journal the Saudi bombing campaign against Iran-linked Houthi rebels has hardened positions on a key point—the composition of an executive body to lead Yemen’s stalled transition. This will complicate new attempts to reach a solution, he said.

“When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,” said Mr. Benomar, a Moroccan diplomat.

Mr. Benomar is scheduled to address the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors on Monday and report on the suspended political talks.

Most Yemeni political factions agree talks were progressing in the run-up to the Saudi air campaign, but their views vary on Mr. Benomar’s assertion that a deal was close.

This round of U.N.-brokered talks—which began in January and included 12 political and tribal factions—represented a crucial part of a mission to install a unified government in Yemen, the poorest Arab country and home to al Qaeda’s most dangerous offshoot.

The Houthi rebels, who have overrun significant parts of the country in the past eight months, had agreed to remove their militias from the cities they were occupying under the deal that had been taking shape. The U.N. had worked out details of a new government force to replace them, Mr. Benomar said.

In exchange, Western-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has since fled the country, would have been part of an executive body that would run the country temporarily, Mr. Benomar said.

The Houthis had agreed to that reduced role for Mr. Hadi until the Saudi military intervention began on March 26. At that point, the Houthis hardened their position on this key point and opposed any role for Mr. Hadi in government, Mr. Benomar said.

Saudi-backed factions have also hardened their positions, saying the Houthis shouldn’t be granted political power.

Several Yemeni political factions, which were also interested in power-sharing, said the military tensions in the capital led to feelings of unease during negotiations. In their takeover of the capital, the Houthis kidnapped members of rival political parties.

“We did not like the Houthi plan on the table, but we were willing to sign it since it reflected reality. It was either that or no deal,” said Mohammed Abulahoum, president of Yemen’s Justice and Building Party.

The air campaign transformed Yemen into a battlefield for a broader contest over regional power between Shiite Iran and Sunni countries led by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudis want to restore Mr. Hadi to the presidency and also support a separate armed political faction named Islah, which is anti-Houthi. Iran supports the Houthis, who abide by a Shiite offshoot of Islam. Many Yemenis accuse both countries of meddling in their affairs.

The Houthis took over the capital San’a and the government and then advanced on the south.As they approached the port city of Aden, where Mr. Hadi had taken refuge, he fled the country and ended up in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s troubles mark an abrupt turnabout from what the international community had once hailed as a success story.

The 2011 Arab Spring protests triggered political change in Yemen, a largely peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy. Groups that felt oppressed or excluded for decades under the former regime, such as the Houthis, were supposed to take part in the new government.

But that transition stalled in 2014. In the two months leading up to the Saudi air campaign, the Houthis and other parties insisted on a reduced role for Mr. Hadi, blaming him for the slow pace of reform.

Mr. Hadi, his Saudi allies and other political factions opposed the terms for the presidency being hammered out by Mr. Benomar.

“A very detailed agreement was being worked out, but there was one important issue on which there was no agreement, and that was what to do with the presidency,” Mr. Benomar said. “We were under no illusion that implementation of this would be easy.”

Two other Arab states—Qatar and Morocco—were willing to host new rounds of Yemen peace talks. But after both countries joined the Saudi-led military coalition, the Houthis rejected those venues, according to Mr. Benomar.

President Hadi has suggested that talks resume in the Saudi capital of Riyadh under Saudi auspices. But that was a non-starter for the Houthis.

A senior diplomat familiar with the negotiations said the Saudis also intervened to prevent a power-sharing deal that would include the Houthis and that would give 30 % of the cabinet and parliament to women.

Saudi Arabia declared last week that it was shifting to a new phase in the Yemen campaign more focused on seeking a political solution. But it left open the option of continued military action, and has kept up airstrikes at a robust pace since the declaration.

Mr. Benomar said he would tell the Security Council on Monday that only U.N.-led talks in a neutral location can have any chance of success.

On Saturday, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania was named as the new U.N. envoy for Yemen.

On Sunday, Yemeni officials reported several apparent strikes by the Saudi coalition against Houthi targets amid deadly clashes between Houthi militants and forces aligned with Mr. Hadi.

Strikes hit the capital San’a as well as targets in energy-rich Marib province, officials said. Several southern provinces also saw strikes, including one that hit a convoy of Houthi fighters heading to the southern port city of Aden.

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