MIDDLE EAST | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

MIDDLE EAST

Feb 25 07:20

BUTTERFLY EFFECT: THE MIDDLE EAST BOMB BIDEN MUST DEFUSE

The complexities of the Middle East have been knotty for decades. Dealing with them becomes even tougher when the characters involved are particularly naughty.

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take charge in January, he’s staring at a tinderbox in the Middle East with a fuse that’s shorter than ever before, and with sparks flying everywhere. It will present Biden with his most challenging foreign policy test — one that he cannot fail if an all-out conflict in the region is to be avoided.

Much of the focus in the Middle East in recent days has — understandably — been on the escalating tensions following the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which Tehran has blamed on Israel. But look carefully and it’s just one symptom of a complex set of equations that Biden will inherit, and it’s more troublesome than anything his predecessors have had to deal with in decades.

Feb 24 09:17

British royals met with autocratic Arab monarchs 'over 200 times' since 2011

Members of Britain’s royal family have met with autocratic Middle East monarchies over 200 times since the suppression of the Arab Spring began a decade ago, a report has revealed.

New research by the website Declassified UK shows that there have been almost one encounter a fortnight over the last 10 years.

The Bahraini royal family has had the greatest number of meetings, according to the news website, followed by the House of Saud.

All official meetings are undertaken at the request of the British government, and often overlap with ministerial engagements.

Feb 24 09:15

Outcry in Kuwait over suicide of stateless Bidoon child

Reports of a 12-year-old child’s suicide from Kuwait’s stateless population, known as Bidoon, has prompted outcry online.

The child, who has been identified as Ali Khaled from the Sulaibiya region, reportedly hung himself in his room. The exact reasons behind his suicide are not yet confirmed.

In a tweet, Mubarak Saleh Alnajdah, who says he knows the child’s family personally, said that he woke up in shock at the news of the suicide.

Feb 23 11:35

New symbolic role for the Israeli flag: A standard for white nationalists, Christian nationalists and nationalist thugs in suits

Lawrence Davidson: Israel "has attracted the rising wave of today’s rightist fringe like bears to honey. Whether they are white nationalists, Christian nationalists or just nationalist thugs in suits, they all sense something laudable in Israel.">>

Feb 23 08:09

Hundreds Killed on Each Side; Yemen’s Maarib a ‘Blood Bath’

The UN is pushing both sides to abandon the ongoing escalation of the fighting over Yemen’s Maarib, the last government-held outpost in northern Yemen, warning that the toll is rising and that risks a civilian exodus from the area.

Weeks of fighting so far have accomplished little, with sources describing a “blood bath” and both sides having lost hundreds of fighters. The outpost is still in government hands, though the Houthis have high ground in the vicinity now.

The deadliest single fight since 2018, the Maarib battle reflects something common in Yemen, that it’s easy to get into a deadly fight, but hard to make any territory change hands in a meaningful way.

The Houthis insist Maarib is part of the “national liberation battle,” though in practice it may be about improving their bargaining position by holding the entire north when peace talks inevitably resume.

Feb 23 07:57

Government expresses ‘regret,’ will compensate for disappeared Yemenite children

The government on Monday approved a NIS 162 million (almost $50 million) compensation plan for the families of immigrants to Israel during the state’s formative years who say their children and siblings were taken from them by the authorities when they arrived in the country in the 1950s and then disappeared.

Known as the Yemenite children affair, the issue involves over 1,000 families — mostly immigrants from Yemen, but also dozens from the Balkans, North Africa, and other Middle Eastern countries — who have alleged their children were kidnapped from Israeli hospitals and put up for adoption, sometimes abroad.

Feb 22 11:22

Neo-Ottoman Turkey signals sweeping regional ambitions

James Dorsey analyses the significance of a recent broadcast by a Turkish TV station with close ties to President Erdogan depicting Turkey's sphere of influence in 2050 as stretching from southeastern Europe, through Libya, the Gulf and the Levant, and to the Caucasus and Central Asia.>>

Feb 22 09:23

UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia prolonging war in Yemen, says Oxfam

Global charity Oxfam has accused the UK government of prolonging the war in Yemen by permitting the sale of air-to-air refuelling equipment to the Saudi state, thus allowing air assets to bomb Yemeni targets for longer.

“As the US has called for an end to the conflict in Yemen, the UK is heading in the opposite direction, ramping up its support for the brutal Saudi-led war by increasing arms sales and refuelling equipment that facilitate airstrikes,” Sam Nadel, head of policy and advocacy at Oxfam, said on Monday.

Nadel was referring to the British government’s decision to licence the sale of air-to-air refuelling equipment, as well as £1.4bn ($1.96bn) of other exports, to the Saudi government last summer.

Feb 21 07:43

Joe Biden is already breaking his promise to end the US’ ‘forever wars’ in the Middle East

Prior to his inauguration, President Joe Biden had proclaimed that he wished to end the “forever wars” the US is fighting, just as former president Trump had claimed he would. But once you’re in office, it’s a different story.

NATO has decided to expand its footprint in Iraq, following a rocket attack in the city of Erbil that killed one American contractor and injured six more people. This, as the US State Department has threatened consequences for all those involved.

Feb 21 07:42

Jordanian journalist dies after years of imprisonment, torture in UAE

Jordanian journalist and poet Tayseer al-Najjar has died after his health conditions deteriorated as he suffered from effects of torture and mistreatment while serving prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The 46-year-old intellectual, who had been jailed between 2016 and 2019 in the UAE due to his online criticism of the Abu Dhabi regime’s human rights record, its role in the devastating Israeli military onslaught on the Gaza Strip in 2014 as well as the Israeli and Egyptian military occupation in and around the impoverished Palestinian enclave, died on Thursday night.

Najjar was arrested at Abu Dhabi International Airport on December 13, 2015, while preparing to travel to the Jordanian capital city of Amman. He was held in a secret detention center for over a year.

In March 2017, the UAE's Supreme Court prosecuted Najjar for what it described as breaching a state law against “information technology crimes.”

Feb 19 21:44

Neocon Robert Kagan: Americans Opposing Forever Wars Is An 'Example Of Their Intolerance'

Americans who don't support "forever wars" in the Middle East in service of the "liberal world order" are simply showing their "intolerance," so says PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan in Foreign Affairs magazine.

Feb 17 07:48

Yemen 'welcomes political process but after end to Saudi war, siege'

Yemen's Ansarullah movement says the country would positively receive any attempt to end the Saudi-led war only after the coalition attacking Yemen stops its aggression and blockade against the impoverished Arab country.

Mohammed Abdul-Salam, the movement's spokesman, who is also the head of the Yemeni National Salvation Government's negotiating team, made the remarks in a tweet on Tuesday, after the US administration called on the Yemeni forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees to stop their push to take control of the northern city of Ma'rib.

Turning a blind eye to the continuation of the Saudi-led aggression and the brutal siege on the Yemeni people that has been going on for nearly six years, the US State Department said the army and popular defense forces must stop all military operations and return to the negotiating table.

Feb 16 09:36

The Suffering Underclass of War-Torn Yemen

Last week, President Biden pledged to end United States support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He also reversed a Trump-era terrorist designation of an Iran-allied rebel group known as the Houthis whom the Saudis are fighting. Both moves were heralded by human rights groups as a good first start in trying to bring peace to this shattered country, which is in its sixth year of war.

Much more, however, needs to be done in order to end the violence and the suffering that has come with it: More than 233,000 people have died as a result of the war; some 16 million Yemenis currently live in situations that are food insecure; and some parts of the country are slipping into famine, the United Nations recently warned.

Feb 16 09:33

The Arab Spring Failed But Rage Against Misery and Injustice Continues

Ten years ago, people across the Middle East and North Africa rose up in protest against their rulers, demanding freedom and democracy. Despotic rulers were toppled or feared that power was being torn from their grasp in countries across the region, as millions of demonstrators surged through the streets, chanting that “the people demand the fall of the regime”.

There was nothing phoney about this mass yearning for liberty and social justice. Vast numbers of disenfranchised people briefly believed that they could overthrow dictatorships, both republican and monarchical. “We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery,” recited the 20-year-old poet Ayat al-Gormezi, speaking to thousands of cheering protesters in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. “We are the people who will destroy the foundations of injustice.”

Feb 16 09:32

Feature: Yemen's starving children have to cross battlefields, spend days to receive treatment

Ahmed Fakin spent days traveling, with his acutely malnourished son Amir, from Yemen's northern Hajjah province to the capital of Sanaa to find medical treatment for Amir.

"It used to take about three hours. But the war changed everything," said Fakin.

The mountainous Hajjah province is a frontline between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi militia, which is now controlling Sanaa. When Amir's situation quickly deteriorated and doctors in Hajjah couldn't help him, his father decided to embark on a perilous journey to Sanaa, where a shimmering ray of hope awaited.

So, with the help of a charity group, Fakin went through checkpoints, battlefields, and even landmine fields to reach here with his ailing son, who is six-year-old but still looks like a toddler.

Feb 16 09:14

Feud between Congressman and UAE ambassador to US escalates online

US Congressman Ro Khanna has called on the UAE to help secure the release of a journalist held in southern Yemen after trading barbs online with the UAE ambassador to the US.

Khanna's call for Adel al-Hasani's release came after the congressman publicly turned down an invitation to speak on Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba's podcast, Podbridge.

'Given... the UAE's involvement in al-Hasani's continued detention, I will not be able to join your podcast'

- Ro Khanna, US Representative

Instead, Khanna appeared on a podcast for The Intercept during which he spoke about incredulous behaviour allegedly exhibited by Otaiba during a meeting last year.

Feb 16 06:39

Bahrain religious discrimination violates numerous international laws: Analyst

Bahraini regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and its systematic abuse of the Shia population and discrimination against them violate numerous international laws, an American human rights expert and peace activist says.

Daniel Kovalik, who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in the state of Pennsylvania, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday.

“Since the 2011 uprising in Bahrain, the government has brutally cracked down on dissent and on the Shia population of the country. Human Rights groups have reported on numerous cases of Shia being subjected to wrongful detention and torture and of being fired from their jobs en masse. This type of religious discrimination violates numerous international law instruments and would not be tolerated by the West in other situations,” the academic said.

Feb 15 08:04

Dozens Killed as Fighting Continues to Rage in North Yemen

Sixteen government troops were killed and dozens of Houthis were also slain in northern Yemen in the past 24 hours, continuing a solid week of fighting over the last government-controlled stronghold in Maarib Province, which is to say the last government holding in northern Yemen.

With fewer and fewer pieces of territory legitimately up for grabs in increasingly stalemated Yemen, the Houthis have centered in on Maarib, pouring in reinforcements. So far, it has not changed hands.

The Houthis did cut government supply lines into the area, however, and are emphasizing that it is “oil rich.” That term is relative, however, and the most oil-rich parts of the poorest nation in the Middle East are still not worth that much.

Feb 14 08:04

UAE releases first image of Mars shot by its weather orbiter Amal (PHOTO) 

A picture of Mars taken by the United Arab Emirates-contracted surveillance probe Amal, from some 25,000 km above the planet, has been published by the Arab state's government. The probe was launched last July.

The image of the Red Planet represents "a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration," Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the powerful Emirati crown prince, said, commenting on the news. The picture was taken on Wednesday, just after the robotic spacecraft reached its Mars orbit.

Feb 14 07:32

Bahrain uprising anniversary: Protesters rally against Al Khalifah regime

Bahrainis have taken to the streets across the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom to mark the tenth anniversary of a popular uprising against the ruling monarchy.

The rallies took place on Saturday night, on the eve of the 2011 uprising’s anniversary, with the participants chanting slogans against the Al Khalifah regime and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah.

The demonstrators also carried pictures of the uprising’s leaders and martyrs as well as placards vowing resistance until victory.

Feb 13 07:09

Yemen rocked by heavy clashes amid stark UN starvation warning

Fighting in Yemen's north has left dozens dead and wounded, a government source said Friday, as UN agencies issued stark warnings that 400,000 children risk death this year from lack of food.

Yemen's Iran-backed Huthis rebels have resumed an offensive to seize strategic oil-rich Marib, the government's last northern stronghold, the loss of which would be disastrous for the beleaguered leadership.

"Dozens of people have been killed and wounded on both sides," a government source told AFP, reporting a Huthi missile fired into Marib's suburbs and air strikes from the Saudi-backed military coalition pounding rebel positions.

Feb 12 12:58

THE WRATH OF THE HOUTHIS

Feb 11 10:46

How Biden's Posturing In The Middle East Could Hurt America

The new Biden Administration has largely been focused on fulfilling its election promises in its first month in power. After reversing an extensive list of Trump policies via executive orders, Biden is now focusing on the Middle East. In stark contrast to his predecessor, Joe Biden’s administration is taking a reserved and diplomatic approach towards the ongoing crisis in the Middle East region.

While the new administration is yet to fully address Iranian Sanctions or the JCPOA-agreement, it has stepped up the pressure on some Arab countries by temporarily blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Feb 11 08:08

US-Israel ‘deterrence’ doctrine causes more instability in Middle East

The Midrash Rabbah, the five books of the Torah written over 1,000 years ago, is claimed to have encouraged its followers to strike first: "He who rises to kill you, preempt and kill him." This dictum is based on biblical precedents running back 3,000 years. Since then, it has been picked up and adopted by both the US and Israel under their national security policy but with another title: "preemptive strikes," or "targeted killings." This theory was also revived and embraced by David Ben-Gurion as a strategic military doctrine under another name — deterrence. A biblical sentence and other definitions and doctrines lead to one outcome: unlawful acts to justify murder and international law violation.

Feb 11 08:07

Raeisi: US has no regard for interests of regional states, can’t be trusted

Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi has warned against putting trust in the US, saying Washington only cares about its own interests in the region, not those of the people of Iran, Iraq or the Arab country’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

He made the remarks in a meeting on Thursday with former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari, who was representing senior Kurdish political leader Masoud Barzani.

As the Americans have officially declared, their presence in the region is for the sake of their own benefits, thus they can never be trusted, Raeisi said.

“History has shown that it is wrong to trust the Americans because they do not…feel concerned about the people of Iraq, the Kurdistan region or Iran,” he added, noting that the US presence only disrupts regional security.

Feb 09 08:13

Biden’s Bolt From Yemen?: Symbolic Step, Systemic Limits, and Linguistic Gymnastics

The Intercept labeled it a "dramatic policy shift.” And here’s hoping it’s that. Still, President Joe Biden’s announcement – during his first major foreign policy address – that he would end American support for Saudi and United Arab Emirates-led "offensive operations" in Yemen, needs more nuance. In the second month of 2021, it seems all but fated that the specter of Donald Trump – and tribal, loyalty oath-like partisan divides over his contested legacy – shall haunt and poison all discussions of each and every Biden foreign policy move for at least next 47 months more. Lost in this reflexive race to familiar factional battle stations will be nearly any coherent analysis of the systemic structures designed to ensure America’s war-show must go on.

Feb 09 07:24

US Warns Yemen’s Houthis Against Attacks Inside Saudi Arabia

The US State Department released a statement on Sunday warning Yemen’s Houthis against attacks inside Saudi Arabia and further offensives against the Saudi-backed government inside Yemen.

“As the President is taking steps to end the war in Yemen and Saudi Arabia has endorsed a negotiated settlement, the United States is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The statement comes a few days after President Biden announced he is cutting off support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. “We call on the Houthis to immediately cease attacks impacting civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia and to halt any new military offensives inside Yemen, which only bring more suffering to the Yemeni people,” Price said.

Feb 08 08:21

US ending aid to Saudi-led forces in Yemen, but questions persist

United States President Joe Biden last week announced plans to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive operations” in war-torn Yemen, including ceasing relevant arms sales to the government in Riyadh.

The move signalled a distinct shift in Washington’s approach to the conflict and a renewed emphasis on reaching a diplomatic solution to the years-long war, which has caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Feb 05 07:52

Biden Says He Will End ‘Offensive Support’ For Saudi War in Yemen

President Biden delivered a foreign policy speech on Thursday and vowed to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen.

“We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales,” Biden said. Last week, the administration paused planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, although US officials framed the pause as a standard procedure for a new administration.

While Biden vowed to end “offensive” support, he promised to keep supporting the Saudis militarily in other ways. “At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty.”

Feb 05 07:51

Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War—But It's Too Soon to Celebrate

The February 4 announcement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that President Biden would end U.S. support for ?“offensive operations” in Yemen was understandably met with celebration by those opposed to the war. Almost six years of the U.S.-Saudi?U.A.E. onslaught on Yemen have left the country devastated by humanitarian disaster and famine. Anti-war activists have spent these years?—?first during the Obama-Biden administration, then the Trump-Pence administration, and now the Biden-Harris administration?—?agitating to end U.S. participation in the onslaught. It has been an organizing effort that often seemed like shouting into the wind, as the bombings of hospitals, factories and weddings piled up. The countless people who have been toiling in obscurity to end this war, and the people in Yemen who have joined in this effort even while surrounded by hardship and death, certainly deserve praise and gratitude.

Feb 03 08:44

Nimitz Carrier Departs Mideast For Home As Iran Releases S.Korean Tanker Crew

Reflecting the expected shift in Biden administration foreign policy priorities away from the Middle East and toward southeast Asia, especially China, the Pentagon has announced Tuesday afternoon that the USS Nimitz has departed its Mideast region of operation.

It had been sent there at the tail-end of the Trump presidency amid ratcheting tensions with Iran, and as the former president reportedly mulled military action to prevent Iran from taking steps to achieve nuclear weapons.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby issued a statement confirming the "USS Nimitz has left Arabian Sea and 5th Fleet after being deployed for over 270 days amid tensions with Iran." The aircraft carrier is now "currently in the Indo-Pacific."

Feb 03 08:10

Saying ‘Peace Not Going to Break Out… Anytime Soon,’ Raytheon CEO Sees ‘Solid Growth’ in Middle East

Sixty years to the month after President Dwight D. Eisenhower prophetically warned against the “unwarranted influence” of the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, the chief executive of one of the world’s biggest weapons makers affirmed that ongoing war in the Middle East is good for business.

During a Tuesday earnings call, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told investors he anticipated the Biden administration would temporarily block the sale of 7,500 of his company’s Paveway bombs to Saudi Arabia, a nearly $500 million deal sealed during the final months of former President Donald Trump’s tenure. Hayes quasi-cryptically said that a certain “offensive weapons system” to a certain “customer in the Middle East [who] we can’t talk about” was coming off the company’s books.

Feb 03 06:52

Saudis, allies dropped over 3,000 cluster bombs on Yemen since 2015: Official

The director-general of the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) has said the Saudi-led coalition has dropped 3,179 cluster bombs on Yemen since the beginning of its aggression against the defenseless Yemeni people in 2015.

Ali Sofra said the civilian casualties of the bombardments, mostly women and children, have exceeded 1,000, and most of them were in agricultural and grazing areas, Iraq’s al-Maloumeh news website reported on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia, accompanied by its allies including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been leading a war against Yemen since March 2015 with the aim of bringing the former pro-Riyadh government back to power.

Feb 02 14:11

Why Israel is joining the Pentagon’s 'Arab Nato'

With none of the usual fanfare associated with such a momentous decision, the Pentagon announced last month a major reorganisation to bring Israel - for the first time - inside its military command in the Middle East alongside the Arab states.

Until now, Israel has belonged to the US military’s European command, or Eucom, rather than the Middle Eastern one, known as Central Command, or Centcom. The decision effectively jettisoned the traditional wisdom that Israel’s inclusion in Centcom would increase friction between the US and Arab states, and would make the latter more reluctant to share intelligence or cooperate with the Pentagon.

Those concerns were felt especially keenly when the US had large numbers of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back in 2010, David Petraeus, then Centcom’s commander, expressed fears that the price of too-overt military collusion with Israel could be exacted on US forces stationed in the region.

Feb 02 14:10

UAE confident F-35 jets sale will go through despite Biden review, says ambassador

The United Arab Emirates is confident that a deal to purchase F-35 fighter jets from the US will proceed despite the administration of President Joe Biden issuing a review of the Trump-era sale, the country's ambassador to Washington has said.

Yousef al-Otaiba described the review as routine and expected, and said the Emirates' purchase of 50 F-35 jets, 18 armed drones, and other defence equipment - a deal valued at $23bn - will go ahead as planned.

"Should they review it? They absolutely should, but they're going to find what we already know. It was done through a very straightforward negotiating process," Otaiba said on Monday during a virtual panel hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Feb 01 11:13

Ansarullah condemns America's terrorist crimes

American crimes in Yemen are still the most pressing topic for discussion in Yemen. The Ansarullah Political Bureau and the Anti-Aggression Party Bloc held an intellectual and political symposium to discuss US crimes in Yemen.

The participants affirmed that America is a key partner in the war on Yemen with the military and logistical support of the Saudi-led coalition, and it is also behind the support of terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al Qaeda, not only in Yemen but in the region.

After it has established and sent terrorist groups to the Arab region, the US still stands accused of providing financial and military support to these groups in violation of international law.

Feb 01 07:58

Israel accused of stealing resources on Yemen's Socotra, says minister

The Minister of Transport in Yemen's Houthi-led government, Zakaria Al-Shami, has claimed that Israel is looting natural resources belonging to the strategic island of Socotra, and has been enabled by the UAE.

"The Zionist regime, under the cover of the UAE, is operating in Socotra, looting and plundering its natural resources, and taking advantage of its geographical location, crude oil as well as medical and tourism capacities besides its other riches," he said during a meeting in the capital Sanaa on Saturday.

Al-Shami also called for more protection of the archipelago which has been recognised as a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2008 and known for its rich and unique biodiversity.

Last year UAE-backed separatists affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) seized control of the island in what the internationally-recognised Yemeni government viewed as a coup.

Feb 01 07:14

White House Shifts Focus From Middle East to China

On Friday, Politico reported that new National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan restructured the National Security Council to prioritize countering China in the Indo-Pacific. To do this, Sullivan downsized the team devoted to the Middle East and added more positions that deal with Asia.

In what became known as the “Asia pivot,” the Obama administration attempted to prioritize Asia but decided to intervene more in the Middle East and got bogged down there. Under Obama, the NSC’s Middle East directorate was much bigger than the Asia department.

Current and former US officials that Politico cited in the report said the new administration “wants to avoid another quagmire in the Middle East” so they can keep the focus on Asia.

Overseeing Indo-Pacific affairs on the NSC is Kurt Campbell, who is known as the architect of Obama’s Asia pivot. As the State Department’s top Asia diplomat from 2009 to 2013, Campbell made frequent visits to allies in the Pacific.

Jan 30 11:07

Yemenis Seek Justice for ‘Unlawful’ US Drone Strike Killings

Two Yemeni families have filed a petition this week against the US government over the “unlawful” killing of 34 relatives, including nine children, in counter-terrorism operations, said human rights group Reprieve.

The families suffered enormous loss of life and property between 2013 and 2018 in six drone strikes and a special operations raid, said Reprieve, which submitted the petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the families on Tuesday.

“It is averred that the seven attacks at issue have resulted in the unlawful killing of at least 48 people, including 17 children, and in the serious injury of at least seven others, as well as the destruction of their personal property and livelihoods,” said the petition seen by AFP.

Jan 30 11:06

White House Shifts Focus From Middle East to China

On Friday, Politico reported that new National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan restructured the National Security Council to prioritize countering China in the Indo-Pacific. To do this, Sullivan downsized the team devoted to the Middle East and added more positions that deal with Asia.

In what became known as the “Asia pivot,” the Obama administration attempted to prioritize Asia but decided to intervene more in the Middle East and got bogged down there. Under Obama, the NSC’s Middle East directorate was much bigger than the Asia department.

Current and former US officials that Politico cited in the report said the new administration “wants to avoid another quagmire in the Middle East” so they can keep the focus on Asia.

Overseeing Indo-Pacific affairs on the NSC is Kurt Campbell, who is known as the architect of Obama’s Asia pivot. As the State Department’s top Asia diplomat from 2009 to 2013, Campbell made frequent visits to allies in the Pacific.

Jan 30 08:33

Iranian Lawmakers Push Bill to Formalise Anti-Israel ‘Axis of Resistance’ Military Alliance

The ‘Axis of Resistance’, also known as the ‘Resistance Front’, is a loose political alliance that includes Iran, Syria, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces militias, and the Lebanese political and militant group Hezbollah. In recent years, these forces have cooperated in combatting a host of terrorist threats including Daesh (ISIS)* and al-Qaeda.*

Iranian lawmakers have proposed a motion to formally establish a military alliance among Resistance Front countries and groups, Abolfazl Aboutorabi, a senior MP from Esfahan province, has told Tasnim.

The bill, dubbed the "Defence and Security Treaty of the Resistance Group," is said to have been signed by 34 lawmakers, and to have been submitted for review to the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and for consideration in a public session of parliament.

Jan 30 08:16

Yemeni families seek justice for 34 deaths in US drone strikes

Two Yemeni families have filed a petition against the US government over the “unlawful” killing of 34 relatives, including 17 children, in American attacks.

The Yemeni families lost their relatives and property between 2013 and 2018 in six drone airstrikes and a special operations raid conducted by American forces, said human rights group Reprieve, which submitted the petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the affected families.

“It is averred that the seven attacks at issue have resulted in the unlawful killing of at least 48 people, including 17 children, and in the serious injury of at least seven others, as well as the destruction of their personal property and livelihoods,” said the petition cited by AFP on Thursday.

The petition showed that of those killed 34 were members of the al-Ameri and al-Taisy families, who are requesting the commission to pressure the US government on taking immediate measures to stop further harm.

Jan 30 08:10

Dubai and Tel Aviv plan to dismantle the UNRWA

In August last year, the United Arab Emirates and the Israeli regime decided to normalize - or as critics put it - to publicize their relations. Since then, many bilateral agreements in various areas such as technology, media, and tourism have been made.

Whereas these deals have been announced with much fanfare, Dubai and Tel Aviv are reportedly in cahoots with each other over issues they prefer to keep secret.

One of them is the elimination of UNRWA, or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Jan 29 13:37

The ‘humanitarian’ left still ignores the lessons of Iraq, Libya and Syria to cheer on more war

Jonathan Cook says some leftwing "cheerleaders" have not learned the lessons of the West's catastrophic military interventions in the Arab world and are now partaking in Western belligerence towards China and Russia, to the benefit of the ruling elites in London and Washington, and arms manufacturers. >>

Jan 28 09:53

Joe Biden's Saudi Weapons Freeze Leaves 'Pariah' Mohammed bin Salman in the Cold

President Joe Biden's temporary freeze on American weapon sales to Saudi Arabia signals that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will not have the free run of the White House he enjoyed under former President Donald Trump.

Biden was clear in his criticism of the crown prince—colloquially known as MBS, the heir to his father King Salman and holder of much of the power behind the throne—on the campaign trail, and vowed to hold the "pariah" kingdom to account for its raft of human rights abuses at home and abroad.

New Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the Biden administration is now reviewing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed by Trump. The review, he told reporters, aims "to make sure that what is being considered is something that advances our strategic objectives and advances our foreign policy."

Jan 28 06:38

Biden Sends B-52 Bomber Over Persian Gulf After Missile Fired On Riyadh

On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal revealed that the Biden administration for the first time sent a B-52 bomber in a long range flight from the US to the Persian Gulf on Tuesday.

It's the first such "warning" message to Iran under the Biden White House, in continuation of similar recent moves by Trump, and the sixth such B-52 operation over the Persian Gulf in only a few months. WSJ reports:

The B-52H Stratofortress, a long range heavy bomber, flew from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Tuesday and was expected to make a continuous flight across Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and down the eastern Saudi coastline near the United Arab Emirates and Qatar before returning to the U.S., a senior military official said.

Jan 27 13:07

MISSILES EXPLODE IN SKIES OVER RIYADH. UNITED STATES BOASTS TO DEPLOY IRON DOME IN GULF

The situation in the Middle East is slowly, but steadily moving towards critical mass.

An advent of ISIS is being observed in central Syria where the terrorists have carried out over 40 attacks on various targets since the start of the year. Most recently, on January 24, ISIS cells ambushed a bus carrying Syrian Army troops on the Homs-Deir Ezzor highway. 3 soldiers were killed and at least 10 others were injured. Pro-government sources say that the ISIS units came from the area of al-Tanf.

Jan 25 14:07

The unfinished businessof the Arab Spring

Ten years ago, much of the Arab world erupted in jubilant revolt against the dictatorial regimes whose corruption, cruelty and mismanagement had mired the Middle East in poverty and backwardness for decades.

Ten years on, the hopes awakened by the protests have vanished — but the underlying conditions that drove the unrest are as acute as ever.

Autocrats rule with an even tighter grip. Wars unleashed by leaders whose control was threatened have killed hundreds of thousands of people. The rise of the Islamic State amid the resulting wreckage ravaged large parts of Syria and Iraq and drew the United States into another costly Middle East war.

Millions of people were driven from their homes to become refugees, many converging on the shores of Europe and beyond. The influx fueled a tide of nativism and anti-immigrant sentiment that brought populist leaders to power in Europe and the United States, as fears of terrorism eclipsed concerns for human rights as a Western priority.

Jan 25 08:48

Saudi Airstrikes Kill 34 Houthis in Central Yemen

Officials are reporting that Saudi airstrikes against a Houthi convoy in the central Maarib Province killed at least 34 fighters, and destroyed three military vehicles which were attempting to transport them to the front line.

Maarib is a long-contested territory, one of several routes through which the Saudis tried to advance on the capital. As with other attempts the fighting has stalemated, and the situation is unresolved.

Houthis reported the death toll to the press. The Houthi-run media also confirmed the strike, but did not provide details on the death toll. The Saudis have not reported directly on the matter.

Also unclear is if there were any civilian deaths, though airstrikes on a highway hitting multiple vehicles suggests some other incidental vehicles might well have been in the line of fire.

Jan 25 08:47

Yemen Crisis Linked to Weapons Maker Raytheon’s Influence on US Foreign Policy

Since 2015, the U.S.-backed Saudi-led bombing and blockade of Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people and devastated the country, creating what the United Nations calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Half the country’s people are on the brink of famine, the country has the world’s worst cholera outbreak in recorded history, and now Yemen has one of the very worst COVID death rates in the world: It kills 1 in 4 people who test positive.

Jan 23 08:24

US Backs Al-Qaeda in Yemen while Dubbing Its Houthi Enemies ‘Terrorists’

The United States government has designated the main enemy of al-Qaeda in Yemen, the Houthi movement, as a terrorist organization, after spending years backing al-Qaeda in the country.

Like the US-led wars on Syria, Libya, former Yugoslavia, and 1980s Afghanistan, Yemen represents an example of an armed conflict where Washington has supported al-Qaeda and similar Salafi-jihadist extremists in order to foment regime change and extend its hegemony.

Since March 2015, the United States has helped oversee a catastrophic war on Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, aiding Saudi Arabia as it launched tens of thousands of air strikes on its southern neighbor, bombing the impoverished nation into rubble — and unleashing the largest humanitarian crisis on Earth.

Jan 22 08:28

About Suffering: A Massacre of the Innocents in Yemen

In 1565, Pieter Bruegel the Elder created "The Massacre of the Innocents," a provocative masterpiece of religious art. The painting reworks a biblical narrative about King Herod’s order to slaughter all newborn boys in Bethlehem for fear that a messiah had been born there. Bruegel’s painting situates the atrocity in a contemporary setting, a 16th Century Flemish village under attack by heavily armed soldiers. Depicting multiple episodes of gruesome brutality, Bruegel conveys the terror and grief inflicted on trapped villagers who cannot protect their children. Uncomfortable with the images of child slaughter, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, after acquiring the painting, ordered another reworking. The slaughtered babies were painted over with images such as bundles of food or small animals, making the scene appear to be one of plunder rather than massacre.

Jan 22 08:26

Saudis Reject Claims of Summer Civilian Casualties in Yemen Attacks

Early in the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, it was decided, mostly by the Saudis, that reports of civilian casualties could be internally investigated, again mostly by the Saudis. That’s what they’ve done since.

Typical of the program, officials reported on their inquiry into incidents this summer in which Saudi warplanes killed a number of Yemeni children in Jawf Province, and also attacked a water truck.

Declaring all the matters “refuted,” the reports seemed to rest on the strategy of just reiterating official reports of what happened, declaring now that this is what happened so alternate reports with casualties must be wrong.

Jan 21 11:29

Blinken: Biden Will End US Involvement in Yemen War in ‘Short Order’

President Biden’s secretary of state-nominee, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday that the Biden administration will work quickly to end US involvement in the war in Yemen.

“The President-elect has made clear that we will end our support for the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and I think we will work on that in very short order,” Blinken said during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Blinken also said during the hearings that the Biden administration will “immediately” review the Trump administration’s designation of Yemen’s Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization. Calls are growing for President Biden to reverse the designation, and the UN and aid groups are warning of the mass starvation it will cause.

Jan 19 04:07

First Lady Melania Trump Delivers Farewell Message: ‘Be Passionate In Everything You Do’

Melania Trump recounted many of her experiences as first lady and encouraged that people to be “passionate” but to “always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified.”TRANSCRIPT:

Jan 19 02:11

Dubai, party haven amid pandemic, faces its biggest surge

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Masks off the minute you step inside. Bars packed and pulsing like it’s 2019. Social media stars waving bottles of champagne. DJs spinning party tunes through multi-hour brunches.

Since becoming one of the world's first destinations to open up for tourism, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, has promoted itself as the ideal pandemic vacation spot. It cannot afford otherwise, analysts say, as the virus shakes the foundations of the city-state's economy.

With its cavernous malls, frenetic construction and legions of foreign workers, Dubai was built on the promise of globalization, drawing largely from the aviation, hospitality and retail sectors — all hard hit by the virus.

Jan 18 09:26

Heavy Fighting in Hodeidah; Yemen claims dozens of Houthi casualties

Heavy fighting erupted Saturday in the southern part of the vital Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. The government claimed the Houthis launched an offensive and were pushed back out of the area. They claimed dozens of Houthi casualties were inflicted.

Hodeidah is materially the only port through which aid flows into northern Yemen, which is why the UN has gone to great efforts trying to keep a ceasefire more or less in place, fearing mass starvation if fighting damages or otherwise shuts the port.

For the most part it has worked, and Hodeidah hasn’t been the site of too many major battles. When they do flare up, however, as now, the fear is that they could rapidly get out of control.

Jan 18 09:16

Trump Administration Commits Another War Crime in Yemen

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent his final days in office committing political terrorism, planting foreign policy landmines to hinder incoming President Joe Biden. One of his cruelest actions was to charge the Yemeni Houthis with being a terrorist organization.

He cited missile attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia. That is a war crime, not terrorism. Remember American and British terror bombing of Germany and Japan?

Jan 13 07:23

FYI Trump's Latest Yemen Move Is Far Worse Than The Capitol Riot

While the Capitol riot is being hysterically compared to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht by the political/media class, the Trump administration has done something far, far worse that is receiving far, far less attention.

The US State Department has officially announced its intention to designate Yemen's Houthis as a terrorist group, as many had previously warned. Humanitarian organizations have been condemning the move as it will make it more difficult to provide aid to a population that is already being brutalized by the worst mass atrocity in the entire world, a Saudi-led atrocity which could not occur without the help of the western power alliance.

Jan 11 07:33

Pompeo says US will designate Houthis as terrorist group in bid to undermine ‘Iranian interference’ in Yemen

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that he intends to designate the Houthi movement as a foreign terrorist organization, while acknowledging that the move will create hurdles for delivering aid to war-torn Yemen.

In a statement released on Sunday, Pompeo said the State Department will also label three Houthi leaders, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, Abd al-Khaliq Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al Hakim, as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.” The designations will take effect on January 19.

The move will give the US additional tools to confront the “terrorist activity” carried out by the Iran-backed group, Pompeo explained. He accused the Houthis of orchestrating cross-border attacks that have threatened civilian populations, infrastructure and commercial shipping in the region.

Jan 11 07:19

REMINDER: Houthis Were a US Intelligence-Sharing Partner Right Up Until Saudi Invasion

The U.S. has formed ties with Houthi rebels who seized control of Yemen’s capital, White House officials and rebel commanders said, in the clearest indication of a shift in the U.S. approach there as it seeks to maintain its fight against a key branch of al Qaeda.

American officials are communicating with Houthi fighters, largely through intermediaries, the officials and commanders have disclosed, to promote a stable political transition as the Houthis gain more power and to ensure Washington can continue its campaign of drone strikes against leaders of the group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, officials said.

“We have to take pains not to end up inflaming the situation by inadvertently firing on Houthi fighters,” a senior U.S. official said. “They’re not our military objective. It’s AQAP and we have to stay focused on that.”

Jan 10 09:34

Israeli Jews defending apartheid

Lawrence Davidson highlights how Israeli racism and apartheid, which emanate from Israel's founding ideology, Zionism, has culminated in the ultimate apartheid law, the "Nation-State" Law, which "confirms in law a process that condemns non-Jews to a legal no-man’s-land".>>

Jan 06 07:49

How the Gulf crisis spurred Qatar to expand its military

Qatar has embarked on one of the most ambitious armament programmes seen in the Middle East in recent times. Its armed forces are growing exponentially as its air force increases in size from 12 to 96 fighter jets, with more on the way. Its army and navy have seen rapid expansion as Qatar spends billions of dollars in order to protect itself.

Qatar, with its large expatriate population, has traditionally been focused on internal security but the sharp downturn in relations with its large and well-armed neighbours forced it to re-evaluate its military.

Jan 05 11:13

“An Israeli Blitzkrieg” Signs Point to Imminent Israeli Military Action in Yemen

Saudi Arabia has rung in the new year in a familiar way, with an airstrike targeting a large gathering of civilians at a wedding ceremony in Yemen. On new year’s night, at least five civilians were killed when Saudi-backed militants launched artillery rounds at a wedding ceremony in the populated al-Hawk area in the strategic port city of Hodeida.

Developments taking place across the Middle East are driving the reality home in Yemen that 2021 is unlikely to bring about an end to Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on their country. Signs of escalation are beginning to surface gradually in the Yemeni interior and along the Red Sea in the wake of the wave of normalization between the Gulf states and Tel Aviv.

Jan 05 11:05

Israel tourists stealing from Dubai hotels, report says

Israeli tourists visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been stealing items from hotel rooms in Dubai, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

"I have been visiting the UAE for many years and doing business there," stated an Israeli businessman. "Last month I arrived at the hotel I was staying in and was terrified when I saw in the hotel lobby, Israelis are being searched for stolen items from the rooms."

Complaints of Israeli tourists stealing from hotels comes a month after the first commercial passenger flight from Israel to the UAE to off, as part of a new regular service.

Moreover, a manager of a hotel overlooking the world's tallest building the Burj Khalifa, said: "We host hundreds of tourists from all countries of the world, some of them create problems, but we have not seen items stolen before."

"Recently we have seen Israeli tourists come to the hotel and pile up all their bags, stealing towels, tea and coffee bags, and even lamps."

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Tacky. Very tacky!

Jan 05 11:04

Israeli 'sex tourism' is the fruit of normalisation with the UAE

It is hard to believe the testimonies of Israeli tourists returning from the UAE, in which they describe Dubai as the Las Vegas of the Middle East. This is specifically in terms of the spread of prostitution and the sex trade that does not befit an Arab Muslim country.

Reports from Israel suggest that 8,000 Israelis travelled to Dubai to celebrate the New Year. They apparently took hashish and marijuana with them to the UAE, despite its strict drug laws, with up to 20 years imprisonment and sometimes execution for convicted drug smugglers.

One Israeli who admitted to smuggling drugs into Dubai told Israel's Channel 12 that he was not worried about being arrested. "All we did was smuggle some hashish and marijuana to celebrate [New Year's Eve] and get high," he explained. "It isn't cocaine, they are light drugs. I don't believe that we'll get in trouble. A death sentence for a few hundred grams in our suitcases? We only smoke in our hotel room."

Jan 02 07:32

Israeli Military Preparing For ‘Iran-Backed’ Attacks From Iraq and Yemen

According to a report in Israeli media, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is preparing for a possible strike from “Iran-backed militias” in Iraq and Yemen. The IDF reportedly held talks last week about possible attacks from Iraqi militias and the Houthis in Yemen.

Since Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an apparent Israeli plot, both Israel and the US have been overblowing the threat of possible Iranian retaliation. Israel, like the US, likes to conflate any Shia group in the Middle East with Iran, despite the many different factions and sects.

For example, the Houthis are a Zaydi Shia group and practice a different form of Shiism than the mullahs in Iran. The Houthis are also an entirely homegrown movement and are not the Iranian proxy the US and its allies portray them to be. Zaydi Shia Imams ruled the area of north Yemen the Houthis now control for over 1,000 years until 1962.

Dec 31 08:04

Trump copied Obama's failure in Yemen

President Trump campaigned against Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, but he often seemed to govern against former President Barack Obama, touting differences between the two administrations long after Obama’s departure and blaming Obama’s past record for present problems (including some it is chronologically impossible for Obama to have caused).

Yet there is one point, at least, on which Trump has not only refrained from dismantling Obama’s legacy but actually entrenched it further: U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

This war began in late 2014 between Yemen’s Iran-linked Houthi rebels and its internationally recognized government in Sanaa. A Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led coalition intervened several months later — the war is now widely regarded as a proxy fight between Saudi Arabia and Iran — and the United States backed the coalition from the start.

Dec 31 08:00

Pompeo and State Department face legal action over $23bn UAE arms sale

An American NGO has filed a lawsuit against the State Department and its head, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, over a $23bn arms sale to the United Arab Emirates that the organisation claims was rushed through without meeting proper legal requirements.

The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) filed the suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday, on the grounds that the sale violates the US Arms Export Control Act (ACEA).

NYCFPA accuses the State Department of "rushing through" the transaction, which includes the sale of killer drones and F-35 jets, without regard to American interests or stability in the region.

Dec 30 10:22

Second explosion heard near presidential palace in Yemen’s Aden after deadly blast at airport where unity govt arrived – reports

Local news have reported yet another explosion in Yemen, this time near the presidential palace, to which the new cabinet fled following the blast at the Aden airport.

Yemen’s new government has been transferred to the palace right after an explosion disrupted their arrival to the Aden airport earlier today. It occurred as the officials were arriving to Aden from Riyadh, where cabinet members had a swearing in a ceremony that followed prolonged coalition talks brokered by the Saudis.

The destructive explosion at the airport resulted in more than 20 people being killed, and at least 60 injured, according to Salem Al-Shabhi, a senior health official who spoke to The Independent.

Dec 30 06:58

Blasts hit Yemen’s Aden airport as new unity government arrives

Loud blasts and gunfire were heard at Aden’s airport shortly after a plane carrying the newly formed Yemeni government arrived from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, witnesses said.

The cabinet members, including Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik, were transferred safely to the city’s presidential palace, the witnesses and Saudi media said.

Dec 29 07:47

Biden Meddles With Donald Trump's Middle East Legacy At His Peril

The incoming Biden administration has indicated that one of its top priorities will be to adopt a new approach in Washington's dealings with the Middle East. In particular it wants to revive the flawed nuclear deal with Iran as well as re-establish a dialogue with the Palestinian leadership, which imposed a three-year boycott on the Trump administration.

Yet, while the new Biden team, the majority of whom are relics from the Obama administration, are keen to assert a new policy agenda for the region, they also need to take care that, in so doing, they do not squander the impressive legacy US President Donald Trump has built up in the region.

Dec 28 06:47

Israel and UAE 'collaborating to eliminate UNRWA': report

Israel and the United Arab Emirates are working together to eliminate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), the French newspaper Le Monde has reported.

UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide relief and development services to Palestinian refugees expelled by Israeli forces from their homeland during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific conflict.

Le Monde correspondent Benjamin Barthe tweeted that UAE officials were working to 'gradually eliminate' UNRWA
Israel has long demanded that UNRWA be dissolved, because the agency's existence draws continued attention to the displacement and hardship of Palestinian refugees.

Dec 28 06:27

New Yemen gov’t sworn in after Saudi-brokered power-sharing deal

Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has sworn in a new government that was formed thanks to a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia last year.

The 24-member cabinet, announced last week, was sworn in during a ceremony held on Saturday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where Hadi is living.

Dec 23 09:03

HOUTHIS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS BY SHOOTING DOWN COMBAT DRONES OF SAUDI-LED COALITION

The last weeks of 2020 brought little joy to the Saudi-led coalition, which has slowly been losing its remaining positions in central Yemen.

On December 21, the Ansar Allah movement (more widely known as the Houthis) announced that its forces had shot down a Chinese-made CH4 unmanned combat aerial vehicle operated by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The incident took place in the province of Marib.

The CH4 was conducting strikes in support of pro-Saudi-forces, which are on retreat under pressure from the Houthis and their local allies. As of December 22, the Houthis continue their advance towards the provincial capital. The most intense clashes have been taking place near Raghwan and Madghal. Yemeni forces are also shelling the Tadawin Camp, which is located north of the city.

As soon as the Houthis secure the northern flank of the road towards Marib, they are likely to start an advance on the city itself.

Dec 22 13:39

O Little Town of Bethlehem… What would Christ say about His birthplace today?

O Little Town of Bethlehem… What would Christ say about His birthplace today? Stuart Littlewood voices the hope that the lockdown in force in the UK would prompt Britons to think about the people of Bethlehem "smouldering under the brutal lifetime-long lockdown imposed by Israel’s military? And from which there’s no escape, no respite?">>

Dec 17 13:18

Israel: Shopping for Friends in the Middle East

The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was in the words of former CIA director, John Brennan, an "act of state-sponsored terrorism and a flagrant violation of international law." This is one of many such acts carried out by Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. It is yet another example of Israel’s malign behavior in the Middle East since its establishment in Palestine in the early 1900s.

Israel’s acts of terrorism against the Palestinians during their 53-year long illegal occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Gaza Strip have received immunity in Washington and little scrutiny in the mainstream media.

From its earliest days, Zionist leaders grappled with how they would create a Jewish state on land where Palestinian Arabs were the majority population.

Dec 16 06:52

Israel Floats Possibility Of Deploying Joint Missile Systems To Persian Gulf

On Tuesday, a senior Israeli official expressed his country’s readiness to cooperate in the future in the field of missile defense with Gulf states which lie close to Iran. "Israel could be open to future cooperation on missile defense with Gulf Arab states that share its concerns about Iran, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday," Reuters reports.

Moshe Patil, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Missile Defense Organization, said that the time is not yet ripe to move forward with any of these agreements, and that Washington’s approval will be required as long as the development or financing of Israeli systems is done with American technology.

Dec 15 11:08

International law vs eternal recurrence: The US and Israel

Lawrence Davidson: "If Biden wants to promote a safer, more humane world under the rule of law, he should turn his attention to the assassin and not the assassinated; to the saboteur and not those sabotaged; to Israel, and… his own nation’s Middle East foreign policy…">>

Dec 15 08:38

Yemen Separatists Start Withdrawing From Aden in Power-Sharing Deal

As a power-sharing deal between the Yemeni government and the STC separatists advances, STC forces are moving out of Aden, the interim capital of the government-controlled part of the country.

Before the deal, government and STC fighters often fought over territory across South Yemen. The STC fighters will now be sent toward the front line in the Dale Province to fight the Houthis.

The power-sharing agreement between the two sides has been on hold for many months, and this may indicate new optimism that the deal might last, if the STC is willing to give up strategic territory.

Dec 15 06:44

UN's FAO: Five million Yemenis will likely be 'living just one step away from famine' next year

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned that 5 million people in war-ravaged Yemen “will likely be living just one step away from famine" in the upcoming year.

The UN agency said in a brief statement posted on its official Twitter account on Sunday that more than half of Yemen's overall population could head further into hunger in 2021.

The statement added that an estimated 50,000 people will be living in famine-like conditions in the conflict-plagued Arab country throughout next year.

Dec 14 11:42

Anti-Semitism claims mask a reign of political and cultural terror across Europe

Jonathan Cook says Zionists and their supporters in the West are weaponising "anti-Semitism" to damage the reputation of Israel’s critics and deprive Muslims of the right to take offence at gratuitous insults of Islam while giving Jews every right to take offence at criticism of Israel.>>

Dec 14 07:11

After Israel deal, US adopts map of Morocco that includes Western Sahara

The United States adopted Saturday a “new official” map of Morocco that includes the disputed territory of Western Sahara, the ambassador to Rabat said.

“This map is a tangible representation of President Trump’s bold proclamation two days ago — recognizing Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara,” US Ambassador David Fischer said, according to a statement seen by AFP.

Dec 14 06:54

The Trump Administration’s Abrahamic Sell-Out: Subordinating American Interests to the Saudis, Emiratis, and Israelis

President Donald Trump inexplicably took his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy with neither religious nor political freedom. On that trip in March 2017 he began to subcontract U.S. Mideast policy to a trio of self-serving regional leaders.

Trump’s Mideast policy catered to this malign troika (along with American munitions makers), showering its members with weapons, aid, and support. Their wish was the president’s command, irrespective of US interests. Indeed, visiting US officials played the role of docile and obedient servants, genuflecting on arrival. So complete was the administration’s subservience to the desires of its nominal allies that some critics posited possible financial corruption, perhaps promised post-presidential investments.

Dec 14 06:52

Trump said to offer $700 million to 9/11 victims to salvage Israel-Sudan deal

The Trump administration reportedly offered victims of the 9/11 terror attacks some $700 million to drop their claims against Sudan as part of an effort to save an agreement that would see the African country normalize ties with Israel in exchange for a removal of Sudan from the US’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Lawyers for the 9/11 claimants asked for $4 billion, a price the administration and Senate Republicans rejected, according to an ABC News report on Friday citing sources familiar with the negotiations. The talks are ongoing, ABC News said.

Dec 09 07:50

US massacring Yemeni people to keep own arms manufacturers running, advance Israeli plots: Houthi

A member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council says the United States is killing Yemeni civilians en masse in order to keep production at its major arms manufacturing corporations running, lower its rate of unemployment, pay off its debts and advance the Israeli regime’s plots in the region.

“Yemenis are getting killed on a daily basis by the US-Saudi-Emirati coalition of aggression and their allies. They wake up to the sounds of US-made bomb explosions, are subjected to toxic gases, witness the aftermath of mass killings and remember women, children and the elderly who die as a result,” al-Masirah television network quoted Mohammed Ali al-Houthi as saying in a tweet.

He added, “This attests to the fact that the US is not just a mere source of concern, but rather the main culprit behind the mass murder of Yemeni people.”

Dec 08 07:41

Britain Sent Saudi Arabia Thousands of Spare Parts for Warplanes Amid Arms Embargo

Saudi planes bombing Yemen received 2,323 spare parts from the UK military last year, according to the government’s annual report into strategic export controls, which was published four months later than usual due to the coronavirus.

The long-awaited report shows that supplies to Saudi Arabia’s air force and navy continued despite a court order in June 2019 banning new export licences for use in Yemen.

Tornado spare parts were exempt from the arms embargo because they were covered by licences issued prior to the court ruling. The equipment was diverted from the Royal Air Force (RAF), which stopped flying its own Tornado fleet in March 2019.

Saudi Arabia continues to use Tornados on combat operations in Yemen, having purchased the planes from BAE Systems in the 1980s and 1990s under the notoriously corrupt Al-Yamamah series of arms deals.

Dec 08 07:33

Yemen ‘on edge of precipice’ as UNICEF launches aid appeal

Yemen is “on the edge of a precipice” after years of civil war, a senior U.N. official has warned on Monday, with millions of children suffering from malnutrition and facing the risk of famine.

Ted Chaiban sounded the alarm about the worsening humanitarian situation as the United Nations Children’s Fund launched an appeal for a record $2.5 billion in emergency funds from global donors.

As UNICEF’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, Chaiban oversees an effort to assist children and families in a region hit hard by conflict, natural disaster and the coronavirus crisis. With some 39 million children in need of assistance, the Middle East alone accounts for 40% of the agency’s $6 billion global appeal.

Dec 06 08:34

Envoy: UAE Would ‘Reluctantly’ Find Weapons Elsewhere If US Does Not Supply

With the Senate preparing to vote on a series of resolutions that seek to block a massive $23 billion weapons sale to the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s ambassador to the US said the UAE would seek weapons elsewhere if need be.

“We would rather have the best US-equipment or we will reluctantly find it from other sources, even if less capable,” UAE envoy Yousef al-Otaiba said on Thursday. Al-Otaiba made an argument President Trump frequently makes about arms sales to Gulf states. The envoy said the sale would “support tens of thousands of US jobs.”

Al-Otaiba also argued that the deal would help the UAE share the burden of defense in the region. “It is about advancing a more stable and secure Middle East. It enables the UAE to take on more of the regional burden for collective security, freeing US assets for other global challenges — a bipartisan US priority,” he said.

Dec 05 07:22

George Galloway: Britain’s £1bn in “aid” to Yemen as it sells bombs to Saudi is the very definition of blood money

Does the British government’s cynicism know no end? Confirming multi-million pound aid packages for war-torn Yemen while facilitating attacks by the Saudis is treachery of the highest standard.

The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s announcement of a further £14 million in “aid” to famine-wracked, cholera-swept, devastated Yemen is surely the perfect example of ‘blood money’. The new tranche takes the total aid from the UK to the war-torn country since 2015 to over £1 billion – and £214 million of that has been in 2020 alone.

That nearly £5 billion-worth of UK weapons sales to Saudi Arabia have been made in the very same time period is a second dot that the government is hoping you don’t join. Because, of course, most of those weapons have been used against Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, by Saudi Arabia, the richest country in the Middle East.

Dec 05 07:10

UN, international aid agencies warn US against plan to blacklist Yemen’s Ansarullah

The United Nations and international aid agencies have warned the United States against its plan to label Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement as a foreign terrorist organization, raising concerns that such a move would prevent life-saving aid reaching the war-wracked country and would derail a related $700 million aid program.

David Beasley, executive director of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP), told the Washington Post daily newspaper earlier this week that the designation could hamper aid deliveries.

Beasley’s warning came after he had a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, where he expressed “grave concerns” about the blacklisting of Ansarullah.

Dec 04 07:57

Almost half of Yemen’s population experiencing high levels of food insecurity: UN

The United Nations has warned that malnutrition in conflict-hit Yemen has reached record levels, saying almost half of the population is experiencing high levels of food insecurity, as time is running out to prevent mass starvation.

The World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Thursday that the number of people facing the second highest level of food insecurity in Yemen is set to increase from 3.6 million people to 5 million in the first half of 2021.

“Pockets of famine-like conditions have already returned for the first time in two years,” WFP said in a statement, adding, “The number of people experiencing this degree of catastrophic food insecurity could nearly triple from 16,500 currently to 47,000 people between January and June 2021.”

Dec 04 07:54

‘A child dies every 10 minutes’ in war-torn Yemen: Health Ministry

Yemeni officials have raised the alarm about a worsening humanitarian crisis as a result of the Saudi-led war and blockade against the impoverished Arab country, saying that “a child dies every 10 minutes” in Yemen.

The Yemeni Health Ministry issued the warning on Tuesday and said shortfalls in aid funding were exacerbating the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

According to the United Nations, acute malnutrition rates among Yemeni children under five are the highest ever recorded.

Last month, the world body warned that Yemen is in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has witnessed in decades.

Dec 04 07:53

WHO stops financial support for some 10,000 healthcare workers in Yemen due to lack of funding

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has been forced to stop financial support for about 10,000 healthcare workers across war-ravaged Yemen because of a lack of funding.

“Due to an unprecedented financial gap, WHO & health partners have been unable to continue their financial support to the health care workforce in Yemen. Up to 10K health workers are affected,” WHO's Yemen office said in a post published on its Twitter page.

“More funds are needed now more than ever to enable the continuation of this support,” it added.

Dec 03 08:33

UN Appeals to Trump Administration Over Houthi Terror Designation

On Tuesday, the head of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to appeal to the administration to reconsider its decision to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terror group. Sources told The Washington Post that the designation could come as early as this week.

WFP chief David Beasley said he expressed his “grave concerns” to Pompeo about the potential impact the designation could have on civilians who are reliant on aid to survive. About 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives in Houthi-controlled areas. If the Houthis are added to the US terror list, it will hobble the international charities that deliver aid to those areas.

The US is also considering halting a $700 million aid program for Yemen. Earlier this year, the US made significant cuts to aid going into Houthi-controlled areas. Due to the US-backed Saudi-led siege on Yemen that has been ongoing since 2015, Yemenis are facing severe food shortages, malnutrition, and widespread disease.

Dec 03 07:54

UN Says 233,000 Yemenis Dead After 6 Years Of Saudi-US Coalition Bombing

A grim milestone in the "forgotten war" which has close US involvement: six years after the Saudi coalition began bombing Yemen to prevent a full Houthi rebel takeover of the country, the United Nations has issued an updated official tally of the death toll.

The UN now says an estimated 233,000 people have died as a result of the over half-decade long conflict. Most of the deaths are believed to be from 'indirect causes' such as collapse of societal infrastructure, disease, and lack of food and resources.

"The war had already caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure," the UN's top humanitarian office said early this week. This leaves a staggering over 100,000 direct combat deaths - likely most from aerial bombing.

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