Saudi Arabia warns of more Yemen violence

Saudi Arabia has warned that neighbouring Yemen risks sliding towards further violence, which could damage regional security, after Houthi rebels overran the capital last week.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the kingdom’s foreign minister, called at the United Nations for immediate implementation of a UN-brokered peace deal, which he said had been flouted by the Houthis, local media reported on Monday.

“The Republic of Yemen is facing a situation which is developing in an extremely serious way and which requires us to come together to meet this unprecedented challenge,” Prince Saud said.

“We call on all the parties to urgently apply the accord in its totality and we exhort the international community to help Yemen by all means possible.”

Houthi advances

The rebels advanced from their stronghold in northwestern mountains to the capital Sanaa last month, then seized key state installations with little or no resistance on September 21.

Under the peace deal signed that same day, they are supposed to withdraw once President Hadi names a new prime minister.

Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Gulf back Yemen’s President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who has warned of “foreign plots” against his country.

It was a reference to Iran, which Yemeni authorities have repeatedly accused of backing the Houthi rebels, who also appear influenced by Lebanon’s powerful Tehran-backed Hezbollah movement.

The Houthis have battled the government for years, complaining of marginalisation.

The violence has added to instability in Yemen since an uprising that led to the ouster of autocratic president Ali Abdullah Saleh two years ago.

The peace deal aimed to put the post-Saleh transition back on track in impoverished Yemen, a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda.



27 Christians in Saudi Arabia Arrested for Using House As a Church

Saudi authorities have swooped on a house in the eastern province city of Khafji, on the border with Kuwait, and arrested 27 people for using the premises as church last week.

Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) also confiscated copies of the Bible and various musical instruments from the people during the raid.

The swoop was prompted by a tip from a citizen, reported the English-language newspaper Saudi Gazette.

Those arrested on September 5 were of various Asian nationalities, including women and children, the newspaper reported.

“A citizen reported suspicious activities in the house to the Haia and alleged that an Indian man had turned his residence into a church,” said the report.

The arresting authorities supposedly found the men, women and children engaged in religious rituals in one of the rooms, it added.

Public worship of any religion besides Islam is banned in the kingdom, where Sunnis make up more than 90 percent of the population.

A Washington-based Christian religious freedom advocate denounced the raid, saying that it has always been an official policy of Saudi Arabia to continue its “religious cleansing.”

“It is the only nation state in the world with the official policy of banning all churches. This is enforced even though there are over 2 million Christian foreign workers in that country,” quoted Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, as saying.

She said that those victimized were typically poor from Asia and African countries with weak governments.

An American Republican Party lawmaker, Frank Wolf said he hoped the U.S. government would speak up about the anti-Christian crackdown in Saudi Arabia.

He also added that he will urge the U.S. ambassador in Riyadh and the State Department to assist the arrested Christians, reported

Wolf was also quoted as saying that the crackdown was not surprising since the Saudi regime “did not want our soldiers to wear crosses during the [1991] Desert Storm” operation in Iraq.

Assyrian International News Agency

Kerry In Saudi Arabia To Rally Arab Support Against IS Militants

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet counterparts from Arab countries and Turkey in Saudi Arabia as part of a Middle East tour aimed at building military, political, and financial support to defeat the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Kerry arrived in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah on September 11,  a day after a speech in which U.S. President Barack Obama promised a “relentless” campaign against the militants, who control large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

An American official was quoted as saying Kerry would discuss cooperation to facilitate air strikes and stop the flow of money to IS fighters.

In Baghdad on September 10, Kerry said the international community will not idly watch Islamic State grow, naming Iraq as a key partner in the fight against the militant group. 

In his nationally televised speech at the White House, Obama said he is prepared to attack IS in Syria and Iraq in an intensified campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

The president said the United States will send an additional 475 U.S. military personnel to Iraq in order to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting IS, but that these troops would not be engaged in combat.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil,” he said.

In addition to announcing “a systemic campaign of air strikes against these terrorists” that could extend to targets in Syria, Obama called on the U.S. Congress to approve additional resources to train and equip Syrian fighters battling IS militants.

A senior U.S. administration official told reporters in a conference call prior to the speech that this training would be conducted in Saudi Arabia, which has agreed to host the program. 

Obama compared the strategy he spelled out in the speech to U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Yemen and Somalia in recent years.

Obama called the militant group’s name a misnomer, saying it is not “Islamic” because “no religion condones the killing of innocents.” The organization is not a state because “it is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.”

“ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way,” he said.

He called the group’s fighters “unique in their brutality,” citing in part the execution of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

Obama said the role of the Iraqi people and regional players will be crucial if Islamic State is to be defeated, and he linked his decision to step up the U.S. role in the fight with the forming of “an inclusive government” in Baghdad in recent days.

“American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region,” Obama said. 

On September 11, Iran said the emerging international coalition to battle IS militants was “shrouded in serious ambiguities.”

State television quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying some coalition members are “financial and military supporters of terrorists in Iraq and Syria.” 

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Saudi Arabia To Host Talks On Battling Islamic State Militants

Saudi Arabia says it will host a meeting this week with senior officials from the United States and the Middle East to discuss the threat posed by Islamic State militants.

The September 11 gathering in the Red Sea city of Jeddah is to include U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as well as representatives from Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and Gulf Arab states.

The official Saudi Press Agency says the talks will focus on combatting extremist groups that contribute to terrorism in the region.

Washington says Kerry is traveling to Saudi Arabia and neighboring Jordan this week to discuss how to bolster the stability of Iraq’s new government and combat Islamic State militants who have taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

U.S. President Barack Obama is due on September 10 to outline a broader U.S. strategy on battling Islamic State militants.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and SPA

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Islamic State Requires Saudi Arabia to Rethink Its Support for Extremism


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Assyrian International News Agency

ISIS Threat to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan

ISIS Threat to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan

By William Costolo

Posted 2014-08-22 22:26 GMT

As U.S. public debate centers on how forcefully President Barack Obama should strike the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the muted responses by the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to the threat of ISIS should be noted. The regional turmoil unleashed by ISIS tempers the actions of each these U.S. allies, as all three Sunni dominated countries have concerns that strong action to counteract the movement or overt support for U.S. efforts could increase domestic problems and turn significant portions of the populace against the respective governments. No doubt President Obama is seeking input from leaders of these states in order to determine the best course of action.

Western nations stepping into conflicts in the Middle East generally find that it is the “land of unintended consequences.” Misunderstanding regarding religious disputes going back for centuries underlie many of the problems. Acting to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq brought to the forefront the Shia and Sunni ethnic divisions in Iraq. Casting the Sunni power structure aside created the impetus behind al-Qaeda in Iraq, which then led to ISIS. Turning a blind eye to the Syrian civil war gave ISIS a recruiting platform to generate support. While perhaps feeling that Bashar al-Asaad losing control over Syria is not a bad result, remaining on the sideline as opposition forces fought against him gave ISIS credibility among many Sunni’s.

With ISIS now controlling significant portions of Iraq and Syria, the U.S. faces a threat potentially more grave than Saddam and al-Qaeda combined. Because ISIS is a Sunni organization fighting against Shiite governments in Syria and Iraq, the governments of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have been largely silent even though ISIS represents a threat to their economies as well as their respective regimes. For Turkey, the ISIS fight against the Kurds conveniently limits the capabilities of a regional nemesis. Nevertheless, the ISIS threat could soon hurt Turkish commerce routes as well as tourism revenues. The threats to the monarchies of Jordan and Saudi Arabia are more direct. Any Sunni movement creating street unrest creates pressures on the viability of monarchies forged on the implied consent of the populace.

Much of the financial support for ISIS comes from individuals in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Kuwait banking system is a sieve that funnels funds to the organization. Again, along the theme of unintended consequences, U.S. forces tossed Saddam out of Kuwait, yet a significant portion of the monetary lifeblood for ISIS comes from or flows through Kuwait. According to reports, the U.S. government is working with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to slow down or stop the flow of funds, but the task is difficult.

Criticism over a lack of a cohesive U.S. strategy to counteract ISIS is legitimate. Unfortunately, developing such as strategy is a tall order. U.S. public opinion for increased air strikes against ISIS will be favorable after the beheading of James Foley. The savagery of the action cries out for a strong response. Nevertheless, U.S. foreign policy must also consider the impact of increased intervention against ISIS with the potential threats to allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These states have largely kept quiet while turmoil metastasizes outside their doorsteps. They seemingly wish that staying out of the fray will protect them. By the time they request U.S. help or publically support U.S. efforts, it may be too late.

Assyrian International News Agency

Hold Turkey and Saudi Arabia Accountable

The Obama administration is looking for some low-cost magic bullet to resolve the mess in Iraq, never mind that its search for a similar remedy in Syria hasn’t materialized. As Max Boot ably demonstrates, reaching out to Iran shouldn’t be the solution: Iran might go in–and, indeed, already has–but it won’t leave. Just look at Lebanon, where Hezbollah continues to wreak havoc 14 years after Israel’s withdrawal.

That said, while Iran has sponsored terrorism that has killed countless Iraqis and scores of Americans in Iraq, and continues to arm and fund hardcore sectarian militias which undercut reconciliation in Iraq, it is as important to recognize that Saudi Arabia and its promotion of radical Islam has historically been as poisonous as the Islamic Republic of Iran (if not more so). Saudi authorities have cracked down slightly after suffering their own blowback a decade ago, but many Saudi charities continue to fund extremism and hate.

Turkey, meanwhile, has become a state sponsor of terrorism in all but official U.S. designation. It has embraced Hamas, helped finance Iran through the sanctions regime, and become an underground railroad through which most foreign jihadis and al-Qaeda wannabes pass on their way into Syria. When pressed, all Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç could say was that Turkey had not supplied the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) with arms; evidence that it provided other logistical support and a safe-haven is overwhelming. Even though ISIS holds 49 Turks hostage in Mosul, the Turkish government refuses to condemn ISIS as a terrorist group. Demanding Turkey stop playing a double game on ISIS is doable, unlike putting boots on the ground in Iraq.

Since the current ISIS/Baathist uprising in Iraq started, Turkey’s behavior has been absolutely reprehensible. There have been photographs circulated in Turkey of an ISIS commander recovering at a Turkish hospital in Hatay. While Turkey claims medical treatment for ISIS terrorists wounded in Syria (or Iraq) is a humanitarian act, the same Turkish government prosecutes doctors who treat protestors wounded in demonstrations against the Turkish government’s authoritarianism in Istanbul.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu complained that the media was portraying ISIS unfairly. Turkey may finally have declared the Nusra Front a terrorist group–only after the group stopped obeying Turkish direction–but it has apparently yet to impose the same designation on ISIS, a group too radical even for al-Qaeda. Iraqi press reports suggest that Iraqi forces have arrested four Turkish officers helping train ISIS in Iraq; while the Turks have denied that accusation, it seems there’s some fire causing that smoke. If any Turkish officer took part in training a terrorist group that has reportedly summarily executed more than 2,000 soldiers, then it is hard to conclude that Turkey does not have blood on its hands.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is no angel, but to blame Iraq’s Shi’ites or a democratically elected government that includes Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites and Christians, men and women is unfair. The current strife in Iraq is not because of Shi’ite intolerance but rather because of intolerance of the Shi’ites. Those who say the uprising could have been averted if only Maliki had given more perks, positions, and goodies to Sunni Arabs misunderstand the fact that what Iraqis are fighting against is a noxious and hateful ideology, not simply grievance.

Never again will Iraq be dominated by a small Sunni minority. Nor should it. Shi’ites cannot be expected to sit idly by when Saudi- and Turkish-supported radical groups brag about their plans for genocide against the Shi’ites. It’s important to check Iranian ambitions and to reinforce that Iran does not represent all Shi’ites. If the United States truly wants to encourage peace in Iraq, however, it is time to acknowledge that Shi’ites too have legitimate grievances and face a deadly challenge, one embarrassingly that has a return address in Riyadh and Ankara.

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia tests Cadbury chocolate for pork

Saudi Arabian authorities have said they are testing Cadbury chocolate bars for traces of pork DNA after two of its products in Malaysia were found to contain it.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) said in a statement, published on its website on Saturday, that it had taken samples of Cadbury chocolates from the local market to test for contamination.

Pork is strictly prohibited in Islam. 

The statement quoted Dr. Salah Al-Maiman, vice president of the food sector of the SFDA, as saying that the products being tested did not include Cadbury products manufactured in Malaysia, and were imported from other countries such as Egypt and the UK. 

The scandal over the ingredient discovered in Malaysian Cadbury’s chocolates has prompted outrage among some Muslim groups in the country, who have called for a boycott on all products made by the company and its parent company Mondelez.

Malaysian authorities discovered pork DNA in the Cadbury Dairy Milk hazelnut and roasted almonds bars. 

Halal chocolate

The Saudi statement said the SFDA was in touch with Malaysian authorities about the testing. 

Malaysian authorities have warned it remains unclear if the contamination of the two Dairy Milk varieties was Cadbury’s fault or a result of “external factors”.

“People need to understand that we can’t immediately take action against Cadbury when there’s no solid evidence yet or if contamination occurred in the factory itself or if it was external factors,” said Othman Mustapha, the director general of Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development, or JAKIM.

Cadbury Malaysia said in a statement on Friday that it had withdrawn the two products as a precaution and that it had no reason to believe there was pork-related content in its other foods.

“We stand by our halal certification and we have the highest levels of product labelling standards,” it said.

On Friday, Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, said that it too was testing Cadbury products to check that they complied with Islamic standards.



More Deaths In Saudi Arabia From MERS Virus

Saudi Arabian officials say three more people have died from the MERS virus, raising the death toll to 163.

The Health Ministry said on May 17 that there have been 520 reported cases of MERS (the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) since it emerged in 2012.

The three latest victims, all women, died on May 16.

The spread of the disease and its outbreak at a hospital in Jeddah led to the sacking of the health minister in April.

MERS has also been reported in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, mostly by people who have visited Saudi Arabia.

MERS is a deadlier version of the SARS virus that appeared in Asia in 2003 and killed hundreds.

MERS causes patients to cough, have high temperatures, breathing problems, and often kidney failure.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

More Deaths In Saudi Arabia From MERS Virus

Saudi Arabian officials say three more people have died from the MERS virus, raising the death toll to 163.

The Health Ministry said on May 17 that there have been 520 reported cases of MERS (the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) since it emerged in 2012.

The three latest victims, all women, died on May 16.

The spread of the disease and its outbreak at a hospital in Jeddah led to the sacking of the health minister in April.

MERS has also been reported in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, mostly by people who have visited Saudi Arabia.

MERS is a deadlier version of the SARS virus that appeared in Asia in 2003 and killed hundreds.

MERS causes patients to cough, have high temperatures, breathing problems, and often kidney failure.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Saudi Arabia reveals invitation to Iranian FM

Saudi Arabia has invited Iran’s foreign minister to visit Riyadh, hinting at the possibility of a thaw between the two bitter rivals whose struggle for influence is evident in conflicts throughout the region.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal did not say when the invitation to Mohammad Javad Zarif had been made.

“Any time that [Zarif] sees fit to come, we are willing to receive him. Iran is a neighbour, we have relations with them and we will negotiate with them, we will talk with them,” he said.

Zarif has visited other Gulf Arab states but he has not yet been to Saudi Arabia.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran have long supported competing factions in Arab countries, often along sectarian lines.

But Iranian backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the aid Riyadh has given to rebels trying to oust him, has significantly raised tensions between the countries.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of fomenting unrest among the Shia majority in its neighbour Bahrain, and the Shia minority in its own Eastern Province, and also charges Tehran with plotting to assassinate its envoy in Washington in 2011.

Iran denies those accusations, as well as Saudi suspicions, shared with Western powers, that it has been using its declared civilian nuclear energy programme as a front to covertly develop an atomic bomb capability.

But since taking office as president in August, the moderate Hassan Rouhani has overseen a conciliatory shift in Iran’s hitherto confrontational foreign relations, the Reuters news agency reported.

The most tangible result so far was Iran’s November 24 interim nuclear deal with global powers.

Although Rouhani has a big voice in determining Tehran’s foreign policy, the ultimate say is in the hands of clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“It’s only a matter of time before Zarif takes up the invitation and goes to Riyadh,” said Anoush Ehteshami, director of the al-Sabah programme for international relations at Durham University in Britain.

“It’s a question of coordination at home with the leader. But it’s inevitable that he go and important that he does. The Saudis are calling his bluff and saying ‘come’.” 

‘Not a rapprochement’

Suspicion between the two is deeply rooted, with Saudi Arabia’s ruling family worried that Iran’s clerical elite remains determined to export the message of its 1979 Islamic Revolution to Shia Muslims across the Middle East.

“Our hope is that Iran becomes part of the effort to make the region as safe and as prosperous as possible and not become part of the problem,” the Saudi foreign minister said.

Iranian leaders regard Riyadh as a stooge for their US foes and remain angry at the Saudi role in backing Iraq during its eight-year war with Iran.

“It’s not a rapprochement. All the issues are still there, [Iran's] interference that we have seen, all of it will come again on to the table,” said Abdulaziz al-Sager, head of the Gulf Research Centre, based in Jeddah and Geneva.

“But it’s better to meet your counterpart and to see the margin for compromise,” he told Reuters.



S Arabia reports eight new MERS deaths

Saudi Arabia has announced eight new deaths from the MERS coronavirus, taking the kingdom’s death toll from the disease to 102.

The Saudi health ministry reported that a nine-month-old infant had died on Sunday, raising this month’s fatalities to 39.

The ministry said the number of recorded infections had risen to 339, with 143 cases announced since the start of April, representing a 73 percent jump in total infections.

Among the latest infections were four medical staff at a single hospital in Tabuk in the country’s northwest.

Panic over the spread of the virus among medical staff in the western city of Jeddah led to the temporary closure of a main hospital’s emergency room.

At least four doctors at Jeddah’s King Fahd Hospital resigned earlier this month after refusing to treat MERS patients for fear of infection.

The kingdom dismissed the health minister earlier this month with the newly appointed acting health minister promising “transparency” over MERS.

King Abdullah is said to have travelled to Jeddah on Thursday to reassure the public and demonstrate that “exaggerated and false rumours” about MERS are false, said his son, National Guard Minister Prince Mitab.

Experts are still struggling to understand the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, for which there is no known vaccine.

The World Health Organisation announced on Wednesday that it had offered to send international experts to Saudi Arabia to investigate “any evolving risk” associated with the transmission pattern of the virus.

A recent study said the virus has been “extraordinarily common” in camels for at least 20 years, and it may have been passed from the animals to humans and now evolved.

It is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus which erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.



Syria Opposition Chief to Discuss Military Aid in Saudi Arabia

Syria Opposition Chief to Discuss Military Aid in Saudi Arabia

Posted 2014-04-22 23:00 GMT

CAIRO — Military aid to the Syrian opposition is expected to top the agenda of Monday talks between Ahmed al-Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), and Saudi Arabian officials, a Syrian opposition military source said.

“The visit will focus on the aid Saudi Arabia can offer the Syrian opposition in the raging figh with regime forces in Aleppo and the Syrian coast,” the source, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency.

Syria has remained in the throes of conflict since early 2011, when a peaceful uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad escalated into full-fledged civil war following a violent government crackdown.

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 150,000 people have been killed since the conflict began more than three years ago.

Around 8.8 million Syrians have been displaced inside the country, along with 3.2 million in neighboring countries, according to Haysam al-Malih, head of the SNC’s legal committee.

At last month’s Arab summit in Kuwait, al-Jarba had said that Syrian opposition forces were in desperate need of arms.

He argued that a political solution to the Syria crisis could only be achieved once “a balance of power” was in place on the ground.

Assyrian International News Agency

Syria Opposition Chief to Discuss Military Aid in Saudi Arabia

Syria Opposition Chief to Discuss Military Aid in Saudi Arabia

Posted 2014-04-22 23:00 GMT

CAIRO — Military aid to the Syrian opposition is expected to top the agenda of Monday talks between Ahmed al-Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), and Saudi Arabian officials, a Syrian opposition military source said.

“The visit will focus on the aid Saudi Arabia can offer the Syrian opposition in the raging figh with regime forces in Aleppo and the Syrian coast,” the source, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency.

Syria has remained in the throes of conflict since early 2011, when a peaceful uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad escalated into full-fledged civil war following a violent government crackdown.

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 150,000 people have been killed since the conflict began more than three years ago.

Around 8.8 million Syrians have been displaced inside the country, along with 3.2 million in neighboring countries, according to Haysam al-Malih, head of the SNC’s legal committee.

At last month’s Arab summit in Kuwait, al-Jarba had said that Syrian opposition forces were in desperate need of arms.

He argued that a political solution to the Syria crisis could only be achieved once “a balance of power” was in place on the ground.

Assyrian International News Agency

U.S. and Saudi Arabia: A Loveless Marriage

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Obama

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President Obama

Cross-posted from OtherWords.

Among the would-be therapists of the foreign policy world, the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a textbook case of a “loveless marriage.”

Though the values of the two states are at odds, or so the thinking goes, the great democracy and the absolute monarchy are bound together by mutual interest in the stability of the Persian Gulf, home to almost half of the world’s proven oil and natural gas reserves.

Defenders of this coupling argue that Saudi transgressions—human rights violations, sectarian rhetoric, funding of radical Islamist groups — should be forgiven for the sake of long-term happiness. This strategy amounts to a “never go to bed angry” diplomacy theory.

Along these lines, President Barack Obama’s meeting with King Abdullah in late March was said to be about reassuring the aging potentate that Washington remains committed to the seven-decade “special relationship.”

U.S. leaders will stay faithful, despite disagreements with Riyadh over how to support rebel forces in Syria, the Egyptian junta’s repression of the Muslim Brothers, and the ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

The Saudi regime, meanwhile, is flirting with other powers, such as China, Japan, and India.

Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.

The U.S. commitment to Saudi dominance in the Persian Gulf has real costs. The kingdom has used its wealth, privilege, and considerable cache of U.S. military hardware to prop up friendly autocratic regimes in the Gulf and beyond.

Saudi Arabian soldiers helped crush popular demonstrations in neighboring Bahrain in 2011. Multi-billion dollar loans to Egypt let the military patch up a weak economy while consolidating its power by imprisoning (or worse) thousands of Muslim Brothers and secular opposition activists.

In Syria, the kingdom continues to fuel the conflict by supplying money and weapons to various anti-Assad militias, and has urged the U.S. to lift its ban on sending anti-aircraft weapons to Syrian rebels.

Despite talk of ending the bloodshed, the Saudi regime views the civil war as a proxy battle in its struggle with Iran over regional influence. Ongoing war may suit Riyadh’s interests even more than a rebel victory. Hints that the Obama administration may be caving to royal pressure on more armaments thus bode ill for Syrians and for the prospects of easing diplomatic relations with Iran.

Unwavering U.S. support has also given the Saudi regime a blank check to suppress — often brutally — any domestic critics. Women, the sizable Shiite minority, and the millions of foreign workers all lack any semblance of equal rights and protections under the law.

It’s hard for Washington to argue that it supports pro-democracy movements in the Arab world when its closest Arab ally is resolutely anti-democratic.

In January, Saudi Arabia expanded its legal definition of terrorism to include any act that disturbs public order or insults the state. As Human Rights Watch pointed out, the law doesn’t even specify that acts must be violent to qualify as terrorist. The wording of the new code is so vague that taking part in a protest or publishing a critical op-ed could now constitute terrorism.

Enforcing violent censorship at home and seeding permanent crises abroad are two dubious pillars of stability. If anything, this witches’ brew of repression and chaos will likely lead to more explosive conflicts.

As with all dysfunctional relationships, the U.S. approach toward Saudi Arabia appears to be driven more by habit than strategy. And it’s irresponsible to look the other way while the regime steamrolls any challenges to the oppressive status quo.

Loveless marriages have no future besides betrayal, bitterness, and despair. It’s time for the United States to part ways with Saudi Arabia.

Amanda Ufheil-Somers is the assistant editor of Middle East Report, published by the Middle East Research and Information Project.

Foreign Policy In Focus

Iraq: We will thank Saudi Arabia in this case

Shafaq News / The Iraqi National security adviser in the cabinet , Amer al-Khuzai said that his country’s problems are not internal , and Saudi Arabia has to tighten its borders with Iraq and prevent the infiltration of al-Qaeda princes to the country, then we will thank them and we stand with them in fight against terrorism.”

This comes in response to comments by the Saudi foreign minister , Saud al-Faisal, who claimed that Iraq’s problems are internal and the ruling power must find solutions instead of accusing others.

Khuzai said , in a statement reported for ” Shafaq News ” , that ” We say that our problems are external because there are princes in Al-Qaeda who have the Saudi citizenship , if Saudi Arabia said that there are no external parties to affect Iraq’s security situation , we say that What did Saudi princes of al-Qaeda do in Iraq. ”

The Advisor to the Prime Minister for national reconciliation noted that ” when Saudi Arabia control the borders with Iraq and prevent the infiltration of the princes of al-Qaeda to Iraq , then we will thank them and we will stand with them in fight against terrorism , but since that Saudi Arabia does not accept that the present of al -Qaeda on its land and threaten its security we also do not accept it ” .

Al-Khozai noted that “There are al-Qaeda princes in Iraq from Saudi Arabia , Chechnya , Somalia, Yemen and many other countries , and this leads us to say that our problems are external .”

Anbar Operations Command has offered cars belonging to the elements of Islamic state in Syria and Iraq organization ( Daash ) in Western desert to Anbar with Saudi Arabia plats.

Last month, al-Maliki accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of “supporting terrorism and disturbing the peace and stability ” in Iraq .


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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Political leader in Kirkuk calls to improve ties with Saudi Arabia and Arab states

Kirkuk / NINA / A senior Arab political leaders in Kirkuk called for Iraqi political leaderships to open up to the Arab world and strengthen the relations and cooperation with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states instead of estrangement because it is a national and religious duty .

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Minshid al-Assi, head of Kirkuk’s Arabs coalition told the reporter of NINA that Iraq cannot be kept isolated from the Arab nation and cut off from the Arab countries , which Iraq is part of the Arab world and a founding member of the Arab League, adding that between now and then abnormal voices accuses Arab states , including Saudi Arabia to support terrorism and continued abuse for Arab countries, forgetting about Iran’s role in Iraq and its support for militias and interfere in Iraqi affairs clearly that cannot be undeniable .

He pointed out that Iraq is witnessed a clear interference from several countries that cannot be overcome , but it influenced and complicated the political scene and made the country in circle of danger, facing great challenges coincided with the failure of national reconciliation , which was born dead ./ End


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Obama Tells Saudi Arabia That US Values Riyadh

If you want to visit a nation state that supports apartheid law to the absolute, then welcome to Saudi Arabia. Yes, in the land of Saudi Arabia not one single Buddhist temple, Christian church, Hindu temple, and other non-Muslim faiths, are tolerated. However, while America, France, the United Kingdom, and other Western states, support multi-cultural values at home; they don’t mind doing business with a nation that bans all non-Muslim faiths, supports apartheid Islamic Sharia laws and child marriage to the tilt.

Of course, Saudi Arabia is not alone in supporting apartheid Islamic Sharia law but to make matters worse, this nation is exporting terrorism, Islamist Salafi indoctrination and funding educational institutions that sprout hatred. Despite this, with the West being in self-destruct mode then Gulf petrodollars are allowed to spread indoctrination and a fifth column in many societies. Therefore, Saudi Arabia spends vast sums on spreading Salafi Islam and buying powerful Western institutions with money in order to make up a false history. This blatant hypocrisy is tolerated because of the power of energy and the ineptness of major Christian churches and international politicians that are too silent.

In the twenty first century, just like in the late seventh century, apostates in the land of Arabia face death. Meanwhile, in nations like Saudi Arabia and Somalia, if non-Muslim males desire to marry a Muslim female based on “genuine love,” then this may lead to either prison or death. However, white anti-racists, the trendy left and rampant capitalists don’t appear to worry too much about this — in other words, Islamic Sharia law states are allowed to treat non-Muslims with utter contempt when it comes to law.

Can you imagine what would happen if one modern European nation introduced a law whereby Muslim males faced prison or death for marrying non-Muslims? Yes, this would be on the news night and day but of course the West is intent on silencing all critics of this reality by playing the “Islamophobia card.” Strange, because in Somalia the al-Shabaab is beheading all apostates to Christianity that they can find. In other words, this isn’t a phobia because it is a reality in many parts of the world irrespective if by terrorist forces or by state institutions like Saudi Arabia.

Discrimination is a reality in all nations, of course the degrees will vary, but in nation states that support Islamic Sharia law then non-Muslims and minority Muslim sects are deemed second-class citizens based on law. Indeed, when certain nations support killing apostates then obviously the term second-class citizen is too polite. After all, Islamic Sharia law is saying that non-Muslim males are subhuman and worthy of killing based on a legal code that maintains power mechanisms in order enforce dhimmitude and conversions based on fear.

Not all nations enforce the draconian reality of Islamic Sharia law to the full — after all stoning to death for adultery, killing apostates, allowing little girls to marry old men, and so forth, isn’t progressive. Therefore, some Muslim majority nations adopt Islamic Sharia piecemeal in order to appease clerics at home, while trying to transform society at the same time. Leaders like Ataturk, Nasser and many others have tried to transform society based on modernism. However, with Gulf petrodollars fueling radical Islamic conservatism then even Turkey is under threat. This counter-Islamist revolution is threatening progressive forces in Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and other nations — and shockingly, major Western powers are often siding with the Saudi Arabia and Gulf agenda against secular forces in nations like Syria.

Internationally you have many convulsions whereby Muslims face enormous discrimination along with Christians in Myanmar (Burma). It should be remembered that more Christians in Myanmar have been killed over many decades because of central forces in Myanmar fighting the mainly Christian ethnic groups of the Karen, Shan, and Chin. Despite this, some radical Buddhists in Myanmar are singling out Muslims based on the eradication and persecution of Buddhists in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh and in Southern Thailand. In other words, Buddhist radicals fear the Saudi Arabian and Gulf venture of funding forces that seek to eradicate non-Muslims and minority Shia Muslims in the long run. Despite this, militant Buddhists in Myanmar must not follow the Islamic Sharia law mode of thinking by replicating this with equal laws based on anti-Muslim discrimination.

However, while Myanmar may be an anomaly it is clear that Saudi Arabia and other Sharia Islamic law states that support apartheid laws are numerous. Internally, this is a huge threat to non-Muslims, women that seek equal rights and minority Muslim sects that suffer from open discrimination. However, externally Saudi Arabia and other nations like Qatar and Pakistan are openly exporting terrorist and Takfiri Islamist forces to an array of different nations. In other words, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Qatar, and a few others, are dangerous because they are undermining many nation states alongside destroying indigenous Islam in Libya, Indonesia, Syria and in other nations like Bangladesh.

President Obama and other American presidents before him have all sold their collective souls by turning a blind eye to the brutal reality of Saudi Arabia. Of course, other leading Western nations have done the same and in Japan this reality also persists. Yet it is clear that Saudi Arabia and Gulf petrodollars are spreading a dangerous ideology far and wide therefore silence is tainting democracy and multi cultural values at home.

It is time to put real pressure on Saudi Arabia for supporting apartheid laws and exporting radical Salafi Islam. At the same time, it is time to differentiate between the indigenous Islam of Syria and the Levant — progressive Islam in Indonesia — the Alevis and so forth. Indeed, it is progressive Muslim forces that are on the frontline of Gulf petrodollars that seek to crush all moderate forces within “the diverse Muslim world.” Therefore, radical Takfiris are destroying Sufi shrines, Shia mosques, Ahmadiyya mosques, killing indigenous Sunni Muslim clerics in Syria and espousing hatred towards Alawites — and other brutal realities. If this Islam is lost then all hope of co-existence will disappear and wider gulfs will emerge internationally. This reality needs to be acknowledged and then tackled but currently America and other major Western nations are siding with the forces of Gulf petrodollars. Until this ends, then nothing will change therefore a new order needs to emerge in order to break the chains. If not, then democratic nations are sowing the seeds of more hatred, destabilization, and growing sectarianism, based on the whims of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf powers.

Assyrian International News Agency

Obama Seeks To Reassure Saudi Arabia Over Iran, Syria

U.S. President Barack Obama has held talks with King Abdullah in Riyadh amid tensions between the two countries over Iran’s nuclear program and the civil war in Syria.

After the two-hour meeting, a White House statement underscored the “strong” bilateral relationship.

Unnamed U.S. officials said Obama had made it clear that the two countries’ strategic interests remained “very much aligned.”

They also said Obama told the king he would not accept a “bad deal” on Iran.

Senior Saudi officials warned last year of a “major shift” away from Washington after disagreements over efforts to negotiate with Iran and Washington’s decision not to intervene militarily in Syria.

Saudi Arabia wants more American support for rebels.

Secretary of State John Kerry and national security chief Susan Rice attended the meeting.

Based on reporting by Reuters and BBC 

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Saudi Arabia Slams ‘Irresponsible’ Terror Charges By Iraq PM

(AFP) — Saudi Arabia on Monday slammed as “aggressive and irresponsible” accusations by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the kingdom was supporting global terrorism.

“The kingdom condemns the aggressive and irresponsible statements made by the Iraqi prime minister,” an unidentified official told the SPA state news agency.

In an interview aired on Saturday, Maliki charged that Saudi Arabia and neighboring Qatar were supporting militant groups in Iraq and across the Middle East as well as terrorism worldwide.

“Nouri al-Maliki knows very well, more than anyone else, the clear and categoric position of the kingdom against terrorism… and is aware of the kingdom’s efforts to combat this phenomenon locally and globally,” the official said.

“Instead of making haphazard accusations, the Iraqi prime minister should take measures to end the chaos and violence that swamp Iraq.”

The Saudi official accused Maliki’s Shiite-led government of sectarian policies towards sections of the Iraqi population, an apparent reference to the disgruntled Sunni Arab minority.

The official said the violence convulsing Iraq was taking place “clearly with the blessing and support of the sectarian and exclusionary policies of his government.”

“It is clear that those statements are aimed at turning the facts on their head, and blaming others for the domestic failures of the Iraqi prime minister.”

In an apparent allusion to Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia’s Shiite rival Iran, the official said that Maliki’s failings had “subordinated Iraq to regional parties who have contributed to sectarian violence unprecedented in Iraq’s history.”

Maliki’s alleged failings have also “endangered Iraq’s territorial and national unity,” he said.

Iraq has been hit by a year-long surge in violence that has reached levels not seen since 2008, driven principally by discontent among its Sunni Arab minority and by the civil war in neighboring Syria.

The United Nations and Western governments have urged the Shiite-led authorities to reach out to disaffected Sunnis.

But with elections due next month, political leaders have not wanted to be seen to compromise, and have instead adopted a hard line against Sunni militants.

In January, Maliki blamed “diabolical” and “treacherous” Arab governments for the upsurge in violence, but before Saturday he had refrained from pointing directly at particular states.

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Declared ‘War on Iraq’: PM

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Declared ‘War on Iraq’: PM

Posted 2014-03-08 21:41 GMT

(AFP) — Saudi Arabia and Qatar are destabilising Iraq by supporting militant groups and have effectively declared war on the country, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

“They are attacking Iraq, through Syria and in a direct way, and they announced war on Iraq,” the premier said in an interview with France 24, in a rare direct attack on the Sunni Gulf powers.

“These two countries are primarily responsible for the sectarian and terrorist and security crisis of Iraq.”

Maliki, a Shiite Arab, said accusations that he was marginalising Iraq’s Sunni minority, were being pushed by “sectarians with ties to foreign agendas with Saudi and Qatari incitement.”

He said Riyadh and Doha were providing political, financial and media support to militant groups and accused them of “buying weapons for the benefit of these terrorist organisations.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Russia’s Warnings Over Syria ‘astonish’ Saudi Arabia

Russia’s Warnings Over Syria ‘astonish’ Saudi Arabia

Posted 2014-03-03 03:47 GMT

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia has hit back at Russian criticism of its reported plans to supply shoulder-launched missiles to Syrian rebels, saying it was Moscow’s support for Damascus that was prolonging the conflict.

A spokesman told the official SPA news agency late Friday that the foreign ministry had been “astonished by Russian criticism of Saudi Arabia for its support of the Syrian people”.

He said it was persistent Russian backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its repeated use of its veto at the UN Security Council, that was blocking a peaceful solution.

“This support is the principal reason for the barbarity of the Syrian regime and for the conflict dragging on for three years without hope of a settlement or of an end anytime soon to one of the most serious humanitarian crises of our time.”

On Tuesday, Russia warned Saudi Arabia against supplying Syrian rebels with shoulder-launched missile launchers, saying such a move would endanger security across the Middle East and beyond.

The Russian foreign ministry said it was “deeply concerned” by news reports that Saudi Arabia was planning to buy Pakistani-made surface-to-air and anti-tank systems for Syrian rebels based in Jordan.

“If this sensitive weapon falls into the hands of extremists and terrorists who have flooded Syria, there is a great probability that in the end it will be used far from the borders of this Middle Eastern country,” the ministry said.

Long-existing tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia have intensified further as a result of the Syria conflict, with Moscow standing by Assad but Riyadh offering open support for the rebels.

Russia and Iran are Assad’s last major allies in a conflict that has left an estimated 140,000 people dead since it began as a peaceful uprising in March 2011.

Assyrian International News Agency

Iran and Saudi Arabia Should Be At Geneva 2

[unable to retrieve full-text content]General view prior to a meeting on Syria on December 20, 2013 at the United Nations offices in Geneva (AFP Photo).Most of the civil war going on in Syria is a proxy war, so it’s better to involve those states with vested interests from the very beginning, Jan van Aken, foreign affairs expert from the German Left Party, told RT.
Assyrian International News Agency

Iran Ready for Good Ties With Saudi Arabia Read

BEIRUT — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed relief over recent positive developments in the formation of a Cabinet in Lebanon, voicing Tehran’s readiness to improve ties with Riyadh.

But the United States condemned Tuesday Zarif’s visit to the grave of a slain Hezbollah commander, saying it sent the wrong message and worsened regional tension.

White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Imad Mughniyeh, whose grave Zarif visited Monday, was to blame for “heinous acts of terrorism” that killed hundreds, including Americans.

Zarif wrapped up a two-day visit to Lebanon Monday evening, after meeting with top Lebanese officials and politicians.

“We express our pleasure at signs of agreement and coordination that emerged last week, and we hope they will lead to outcomes that will improve conditions in Lebanon and the region,” Zarif told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV Monday evening.

“We always hope to have accord between all Lebanese factions.”

Zarif said he hoped Saudi Arabia would positively receive his country’s readiness to maintain good ties.

“We are ready to have very good ties with all countries in the region. … As for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we are ready to improve ties and continue with talks. We hope that the kingdom will address this matter positively,” he said.

The minister said there were many fields of cooperation between Lebanon and the Islamic Republic.

Zarif made his remarks following a reception held by the Iranian Embassy in his honor at Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel in Beirut. Attending was Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt along with a host of politicians from the March 8 and March 14 coalitions.

During his visit, Zarif met President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, premier-designate Tammam Salam, caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

In remarks made during his meetings, Zarif said an all-embracing government would represent a shield that could protect Lebanon from the dangers of terrorism.

Zarif also visited the Iranian Embassy, the site of a suicide bombing on Nov. 19, and praised the Lebanon’s “tremendous efforts” to probe the attack.

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia Offers $3 Billion to Strengthen Lebanon’s Army

Saudi Arabia Offers $ 3 Billion to Strengthen Lebanon’s Army

By Robert Tuttle

Posted 2013-12-29 23:54 GMT

Saudi Arabia has offered $ 3 billion to strengthen Lebanon’s army to protect the country from the threat of “sectarianism and extremism,” Lebanon’s president said.

“Strengthening the army is a national and popular demand of everyone” in Lebanon, Michel Suleiman said in a televised address today, according to a transcript published by the country’s National News Agency.

Lebanon’s army would use the aid to buy arms from France, Suleiman said, adding that he hoped “Paris would accept this initiative quickly.” The assistance was discussed by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and French President Francois Hollande in their meeting today in Saudi Arabia, Suleiman said, according to NNA.

The announcement came as fire was exchanged between Israel and Lebanon today and two days after a car bomb in downtown Beirut killed former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah, a member of the Western-backed March 14 coalition.

Lebanon is divided over the war in neighboring Syria, which pits mostly Sunni Muslim rebels against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. March 14, a coalition of several parties including the mostly Sunni Future Movement, has supported the opposition while the March 8 alliance, including the Shiite militant Hezbollah, has supported Assad.

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia pledges $3bn to Lebanese army

Saudi Arabia has pledged $ 3bn for the Lebanese army, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman announced, calling it the largest grant ever given to the country’s armed forces.

The pledge comes just as Lebanon held a funeral for Mohamad Chatah, the former finance minister, amid rising tensions over who might have killed him.  

“The king of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is offering this generous and appreciated aid of $ 3bn to the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities,” Suleiman said in a televised address on Sunday.

He said the funds would allow Lebanon’s military to purchase French weapons. 

French President Francois Hollande, currently on a visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Abdullah, said France would supply weapons to the Lebanese army if it was asked to do so.

He told a news conference in Riyadh: “France has equipped the Lebanese army for a while up until recently and we will readily answer any solicitation … If demands are made to us we will satisfy them.”

Lebanon’s armed forces have been struggling to deal with violence spreading over the border from Syria’s civil war.

The country, which is still rebuilding after its own 15-year civil war, has seen clashes between gunmen loyal to opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, as well as attacks on the army itself.

Lebanon’s army is seen as one of the few institutions not overtaken by sectarian divisions that plague the country, but it is ill-equipped to deal with internal threats.

The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia may be seeking to bolster the army as a counterbalance to Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah, a Shia armed group and political party backed by regional Shia power Iran.

Rising regional Sunni-Shia tensions have been stoked by the war in neighbouring Syria, where rebel forces, made up mainly by the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, are fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who hails from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.



Syria Views Saudi Arabia As Number One Enemy

Damascus (AFP) — Syria now views Saudi Arabia as its number one enemy and accuses it of trying to destroy the country by arming jihadists and other rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The oil-rich Gulf monarchies have sided with the opposition from the start of Syria’s conflict in March 2011, with Riyadh leading calls for the fall of Assad.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad told AFP this week that Saudi Arabia was providing unfettered support for “terrorist groups” in Syria, while other nations had reviewed their positions.

“I think that all those who supported these terrorist groups have the feeling now that they have made big mistakes,” Muqdad said in an interview on Thursday, referring to the rebels seeking to topple Assad.

“The only party who is declaring the full support to the terrorist groups, to Al-Qaeda, is Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Muqdad urged the world to press Saudi Arabia to halt its support for the rebels, to prevent what he said was “another 11 September incident”.

“I think that if the world wants to avoid another 11 September incident, they must start telling Saudi Arabia ‘enough is enough’,” he said, referring to Al-Qaeda’s 2001 attacks on the US.

Earlier this month, Assad’s government urged the United Nations to take a stand against Saudi support for Islamist groups whose influence has grown on the battlefield.

“We call on the UN Security Council to take the necessary measures to put an end to the unprecedented actions of the Saudi regime, which is supporting takfiri (Sunni extremist) terrorism tied to Al-Qaeda,” the foreign ministry said in a message to UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

It was the first time the Syrian government has appealed to the international body to take action against Riyadh.

“Saudi Arabia is not content to merely send weapons and to finance but also mobilises extremist terrorists and sends them to kill the Syrian people,” the Syrian message said.

Saudi ‘not to stand idle’

Saudi-Syrian relations had been tense for years, long before the start of the brutal conflict that has now killed an estimated 126,000 people.

The Sunni-ruled kingdom severed diplomatic relations with Damascus following the February 2005 assassination in Beirut of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri who had close ties with Riyadh.

Four years later, diplomatic ties resumed and Assad, who belongs to the Alawite Shiite sect, paid an official visit to Riyadh in March 2009.

Saudi King Abdullah, who rarely embarks on official visits abroad, reciprocated in October that year and made a landmark visit to Damascus to seal ties.

But relations deteriorated from the onset of the Syria war and were finally severed, with Riyadh repeatedly calling for the end of Assad’s regime.

Saudi officials have simultaneously chided the West for its reluctance to intervene militarily on the side of the armed opposition.

On Tuesday, the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, published in The New York Times a bluntly worded assessment of the West’s policies on Syria and Iran.

“We believe that many of the West’s policies on both Iran and Syria risk the stability and security of the Middle East,” he wrote in the commentary.

The senior diplomat said Saudi Arabia has “global responsibilities”, both political and economic, and vowed it will continue to support the rebel Free Syrian Army and opposition fighters.

“We will act to fulfil these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners,” wrote the ambassador.

He also acknowledged the threat of Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, arguing however that the best way to counter the rise of extremists among the rebels was to support the “champions of moderation”.

Muqdad on Thursday told AFP that “Saudi Arabia should be put on the list of countries supporting terrorism.”

Outside regime circles, there is also growing animosity towards Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, a film which depicts the Saudi royal family in an unflattering light was screened at the Damascus opera house.

“It was important for me to show this movie,” said director Najdat Anzour of his “The King of Sands” movie, which opens with Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on the US.

“Al-Qaeda didn’t come from Mars but from Saudi Arabia, from the Wahhabi, extremist way of thinking,” Anzour told AFP.

Anzour said a Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa, Islamic decree, authorising his killing.

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia welcomes Iran nuclear agreement

Saudi Arabia has said an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear programme could be a step towards a comprehensive solution – and hoped it could lead to the removal of WMD from the Middle East.

“The government of the kingdom sees that if there was goodwill, this agreement could represent a preliminary step towards a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear programme,” the cabinet said in a statement.

The government of the kingdom sees that if there was goodwill, this agreement could represent a preliminary step towards a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear programme.

Saudi Arabia cabinet,

It said the deal could eventually lead “to the removal of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region”.

The statement appeared to be a refence to Israel, which is the only country in the region to have a nuclear arsenal, although it has never admitted its existence.

Sunday’s agreement, reached after marathon talks in Geneva, was condemned by Israel as a “historic mistake” that left the production of atomic weapons within Tehran’s reach. Israel said it would not be bound by it. 

Strained relations

The kingdom said it hoped that this agreement would be followed by further steps that would guarantee the rights of all states in the region to peaceful nuclear energy.

Several countries in the region have notified the UN they intend to begin their own civilian nuclear energy programmes under the terms of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The Saudi statement is the first on the Iran agreement, an issue has strained relations between the kingdom and the US in recent months.

Meanwhile, the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, said that thew EU would begin lifting sanctions by December, as per the interim agreement.

Iran agreed to suspend enrichment work, relinquish its stockpiles of 20 percent enriched uranium, and stop construction of a heavy water reactor which could produce plutonium. In return, world powers will lift a number of sanctions to aid Iran’s crippled economy.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Monday that he was sending its national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, to Washington for talks on the agreement.



China: What Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Israel, and the U.S. Have in Common

The Israeli and Chinese Navies. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Israeli and Chinese Navies. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

If there is a nation (not “state”) that can successfully convince the Arabs, the Jews and the Persians to sit down simultaneously for a talk, it can only be the Chinese. With the historical cultural links and for immense economic interests, China is both eager and able to lay the table.

Having had the 11,179-kilometer (6,946-mile) iron silk road in operation going through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and China, Beijing is now working assiduously to push for the implementation of the United Nations 80,900-km Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) project which knits 24 countries including Iran, Armenia and Turkey together. Furthermore, the August 2013 opening of the US$ 500 million Chinese-built port in Colombo, Sri Lanka, represented the first step of realizing Beijing’s vision of a “maritime silk road” between Africa and East Asia, exposing the Arabian Peninsula as a key mid-way security concern. Being blocked by Japan to go eastward, China has tons of reasons to get the west bound roads through and reliable.

In June 2013, Beijing hosted a two-day United Nations meeting with attendance by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss how to revive the peace between Israel and Palestine. This rare move by Beijing is a sign that its leaders are keen on bringing safety to the new Silk Roads being constructed. While ordinary Americans may not care about peace in the remote Middle East, it is about daily life in China. Two Chinese state-owned enterprises recently made a 50-year deal with Ukraine that up to 7.4 million acres of high-quality farmland in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region will be growing crops and raising pigs for China. It is just a tiny portion of the supplies of food, energy and all types of natural resources that Beijing has to make sure that they can be delivered to China from Europe, Africa and western Asia by rail and sea efficiently.

Total trade amount between Saudi Arabia and China jumped from US$ 25,367 million in 2007 to US$ 63,710 million in 2011, with crude export to China exceeding the same sale to the United States for the first time in 2010 (National Bureau of Statistics of China). Aside from numerous refinery and infrastructure projects, their relationship was further recognized by the granting of the privilege to the then Chinese president Hu Jin-tao as the second foreign leader in its history to give a speech to the Kingdom’s legislative council in 2006. The friendship between the two nations can be traced back to the ninth century during which the business-minded Arabian merchants walked along the silk road with fleets of camels from Mecca to Xian for, of course, silk. While there is no sign that this friendship was eroded by Beijing’s stand in the Syria crisis, the Obama-Putin wrestle showed Riyadh that the U.S. is no longer the sole bookmaker in this region. It is time to consider drawing in new players.

The Jews’ relationship with the Chinese was always sweet in history. “Seventy years ago, only Shanghai opened the door to provide a sanctuary to Jewish refugees,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his visit to Shanghai in May 2013. “From the early 1930s, tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who fled Europe made Shanghai their home.” In 2011, the trade amount between Israel and China was not that much at US$ 9,778 million, but it is no ordinary goods and services. Despite heavy pressure from the Pentagon, Israel has been selling certain weapons and military technologies to China since the formal establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992. Given China’s ties with other Islamic nations, this kind of mutual trust is incredible.

Commodity and cultural exchanges between Iran and China can also be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). When the Persian merchants went to China for silk and tea, they were free to preach their religion in the Middle Kingdom without interference. While they kept on fighting against the Ottoman Empire, the Persian never had trouble with the Chinese. In 2011, the trade between these two historically friendly nations amounted to US$ 45,103 million. China is now not just the major buyer of Iran’s crude, but also the leading supplier of all types of goods and services in the wake of the embargo worldwide. When the then Iranian president Ahmadinejad attended the Shanghai Co-operation Organization summit in Beijing in June 2012, he was told by Hu “to engage in serious dialogue with other world powers and show flexibility in resolving disputes triggered by Tehran’s nuclear programme.” Such flexibility was first seen under the new Iranian president Hassan Rowhani that Tehran would participate in the Geneva talk, prompting the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to rush for a deal on November 8, 2013.

Israel and Iran will certainly continue to have wars of words but the Chinese helmsman rulers who purse persistently for peace in this region behind the scenes will add a strong force to the drive already pushed by the Kremlin and White House. When the three top military and economic superpowers are so ‘friendly’ and so ‘enthusiastic’ to ask you to talk instead of fight and there is no one else you can rely on, it means you do not have alternative. The Saudi, Israeli and Iranian leaders will show up around the table soon.

Foreign Policy In Focus

Saudi Arabia to Spend Millions to Train New Syrian Rebel Force

Saudi Arabia is preparing to spend millions of dollars to arm and train thousands of Syrian fighters in a new national rebel force to help defeat Bashar al-Assad and act as a counterweight to increasingly powerful jihadi organisations.

Syrian, Arab and western sources say the intensifying Saudi effort is focused on Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam or JAI), created in late September by a union of 43 Syrian groups. It is being billed as a significant new player on the fragmented rebel scene.

The force excludes al-Qaida affiliates such as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, but embraces more non-jihadi Islamist and Salafi units.

According to one unconfirmed report the JAI will be trained with Pakistani help, and estimates of its likely strength range from 5,000 to more than 50,000. But diplomats and experts warned on Thursday that there are serious doubts about its prospects as well as fears of “blowback” by extremists returning from Syria.

The Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, is also pressing the US to drop its objections to supplying anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to the JAI. Jordan is being urged to allow its territory to be used as a supply route into neighbouring Syria.

In return, diplomats say, Riyadh is encouraging the JAI to accept the authority of the US and western-backed Supreme Military Council, led by Salim Idriss, and the Syrian Opposition Coalition.

“There are two wars in Syria,” said Mustafa Alani, an analyst for the Saudi-backed Gulf Research Centre. “One against the Syrian regime and one against al-Qaida. Saudi Arabia is fighting both.”

Saudi Arabia has long called publicly for arming the anti-Assad rebels and has bridled at US caution. It has been playing a more assertive role since September’s US-Russian agreement on chemical weapons – which it saw as sparing the Syrian leader from US-led air strikes and granting him a degree of international rehabilitation.

The JAI is led by Zahran Alloush, a Salafi and formerly head of Liwa al-Islam, one of the most effective rebel fighting forces in the Damascus area. Alloush recently held talks with Bandar along with Saudi businessmen who are financing individual rebel brigades under the JAI’s banner. Other discreet coordinating meetings in Turkey have involved the Qatari foreign minister, Khaled al-Attiyeh, and the US envoy to Syria, Robert Ford.

In one indication of its growing confidence — and resources — the JAI this week advertised online for experienced media professionals to promote its cause.

The appearance of an “Army of Muhammad” — with its equally obvious Islamic resonance — appears to be part of the same or related effort proposed by Syrian Sunni clerics to unite disparate rebel groups into a 100,000-strong force by March 2015.

It is too early, however, to see any impact of the Saudi move on the ground. “Militarily it’s not significant,” said one senior western official.

“I don’t see it producing any dramatic change yet. It’s a political step. These new rebel formations seem to be relabelling themselves and creating new leadership structures. It’s part of a quite parochial political game — and above all a competition for resources.”

But the Saudis are making an energetic case for their strategy — and playing on western anxieties. “The Saudis are saying that if you don’t join the fight against Assad you will end up with a much bigger jihadi problem,” said Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “They are being a lot more proactive. That means taking the rebellion a lot more seriously and trying to develop as many proxies and allies as possible.”

Saudi assertiveness has grown along with unhappiness over US policy towards Syria and Iran, the kingdom’s regional rival. Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, described Obama’s approach to Syria as “lamentable”.

Last month the Saudis cancelled their annual speech at the UN general assembly and turned down their first election to a security council seat in protest over the Syrian situation. The Saudis, like the Israelis, also fear a US “grand bargain” that leaves Iran free to develop nuclear weapons.

Alani, echoing official Saudi views, warned of the risk from an emboldened al-Qaida unless more moderate forces prevailed in Syria. “Al-Qaida is getting stronger,” he said. “It is undermining the Syrian revolution and giving the US an argument for not supporting it. It will backfire against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sooner or later — like what happened in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.”

Other experts argue that the kingdom is taking risks by being so proactive, relying on funding and weapons for influence, concentrating on military pressure on Assad without developing a clear political strategy and focusing on strengthening groups with an overtly Sunni character.

“The Saudi leadership should be careful what it creates in Syria,” Yezid Sayegh of the Carnegie Foundation warned in a recent commentary. “Muhammad’s Army may eventually come home to Mecca.”

The effort also faces problems of capacity, coordination and delivery. “The Saudis and Qataris lack the means to shape insurgent groups,” suggested Thomas Pierret of Edinburgh University.

“They have a lot of money but very poor intelligence and human resources and organisational skills. They are very dependent on the western military. They are too used to having relationships with clients and using personal networks.

“That’s why they’ve been forced to turn to Syrian groups which already have military credibility. They are becoming less selective and more realistic and putting aside their reservations about who they support. But I doubt they are able to unify the whole thing. The Saudis say ‘you should unite and we will give you money.’ But some will end up getting more money than others and the coalition will break apart.”

By Ian Black

Assyrian International News Agency

Maliki Accuses Saudi Arabia of Being Unfriendly Neighbor

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has criticized neighboring Saudi Arabia, accusing the Sunni Muslim kingdom of being unfriendly toward Iraq’s Shi’a-led government.

Maliki, a Shi’a Muslim, made the comments in a November 7 interview with Alhurra-Iraq TV in Baghdad.

“We don’t’ have any problems [with the governments of neighboring countries] anymore except for Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Saudi Arabia has chosen not to be a friend of Iraq. In contrast, Iraq wants friendly relations with Saudi Arabia.

“We don’t have disputes [with others].We don’t need money. We don’t have border problems or territorial disputes. We are not involved in our neighbors’ internal disputes. We don’t have any problems with anyone except Saudi Arabia. And whenever we try to solve our problems with them, we hear [negative] statements.

“Recently, the Saudi Prince who visited Washington before us [last week] made a statement that also made the Americans angry. He said that [Saudi Arabia] will not change its [policies toward Iraq] as long as Shi’a are ruling Iraq.”

Maliki had announced after visiting Washington last week that he was planning a visit to Saudi Arabia in the near future in an attempt to improve ties.

WATCH: Nuri al-Maliki Criticizes Saudi Arabia

Relations between the two countries have been strained by conflicting positions on Syria and Iran, among other issues.

Maliki – who supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and has friendly ties with Sh’ia-led Iran — did not specify a date for the visit.

U.S. lawmakers have accused Maliki of mismanaging Iraqi politics, saying he pursues a “sectarian and authoritarian agenda” that has contributed to a surge of sectarian violence in Iraq during 2013.

The bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers have called for future U.S. security assistance and weapons deals to be linked to policy changes from Maliki that give Sunni Muslims a greater stake in Iraqi politics.

It is partly due to those concerns that the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee are refusing to give their necessary approval to a deal supplying advanced Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters to Iraq.

But Maliki believes the deal eventually will get all the necessary approvals needed from officials in Washington.

“Through my meetings [last week] with the president and vice president and secretary of defense — [I am confident] that the agreement on buying Apache helicopters is still there,” he said. “For now, it is only frozen.”

Maliki also says that Iraq should have an active role in helping to broker a resolution to Syria’’s civil war that “isolates” Al-Qaeda-linked militants in Syria like the Al-Nusra Front – which he described as “the main threat for Syria and Iraq.”

“For that reason, the American side knows how dangerous the situation in Syria is for Iraq and how terrorism is impacting on Iraq,” he said. “Washington insists, like us, that Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front should not have any role in the political life of Syria. If that situation came to be the reality on the ground, [the Americans] would prefer to keep [Assad's] regime in place instead. And that is good. It’s a good indication and strong position from the American side against Al-Qaeda and extremists.”

Maliki described Iraq’s role as a “spearhead” in the fight against terrorism and Islamic extremism.

“When Iraq is stable, the whole region will be stable,” he said.

Based on an interview by Alhurra’s Falh Al-Dhahabi

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Widening Turkey-Saudi Arabia Rift

In an interview with Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria, U.S. President Barack Obama named Recep Tayyip Erdogan as one of his five top international friends, along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Neither Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was included.

Although Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey and King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia are both Sunni-Muslim states, their national interests and political aspirations are at odds with one another. Erdogan has become President Obama’s trusted ally in the Middle East, while the Saudis are mistrustful of Obama and seek to lessen their dependence on the U.S. To show its displeasure with the Obama administration, Saudi Arabia renounced the UN Security Council seat it worked hard to get. Erdogan supported President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, while the Saudis were the first to congratulate General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s military chief, for overthrowing the Morsi-Muslim Brotherhood regime. In Syria, Erdogan supports the Muslim Brotherhood elements within the Syrian Sunni opposition, while the Saudis back the likes of radical al-Qaida affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Perhaps most interesting is the position of the two Islamic states on Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza. Erdogan has recently divulged to Iran the identities of ten Iranian spies for Israel. He also pushed to exclude Israel from NATO military exercises, and has been a major supporter of the Islamist terrorist group Hamas. The Saudis, on the other hand, have had and continue to have contacts with Israel, albeit, under the radar. Israel and Saudi Arabia share core issues, which include the dangerous prospect of a nuclear Iran, concern over the recent advances made by the Muslim Brotherhood since the “Arab Spring” began, and exasperation with the Obama administration over the handling of the Syrian crisis, and particularly with its naïve assessment of Iran’s “charm offensive.”

Just prior to the Syrian civil war, Erdogan has maintained a close relationship with Syria’s President Bashar Assad and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was the so-called pragmatic policy of Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s in the post-Cold war that was called “Zero problems with neighbors.” Erdogan’s Turkey saw itself as the regional “Mr. Nice Guy.” Frustrated by the European Union delay of its membership, it sought to establish cultural affinity with fellow majority Muslim states such as Iran and Syria.

The Turkey-Iran-Syria bonding did not please Saudi Arabia, to say the least. Turkey’s association with Shiite Iran and its Alawi client in Syria irritated the Saudis who are fighting a proxy war with the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and the Arab Gulf states. After Erdogan’s Turkey refused to allow U.S. troops to pass through Turkish territory in 2003, on the way to overthrow Saddam Hussein, Erdogan demonstrated to Iran and Syria that Ankara was no longer in Washington’s thrall. The most significant common bond however, was the three countries’ policy to suppress Kurdish aspirations.

The real blow to “zero problems,” came when the “Arab Spring” began to turn into “Arab Winter.” For the West, Turkish pragmatism meant silent support for the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran that oppressed its people, and stole the 2009 elections. Erdogan also backed the authoritarian regime of Egypt’s Muhammad Morsi.

Erdogan has sought to revive the glory of the Ottoman Empire, and assume the mantle of “sultan,” if not the title itself. He sees himself as the leader of the Sunni-Muslim world. In Erdogan’s megalomania, he might even consider himself to be something resembling a “Caliph” (Caliph is a designation for the successors to the Prophet Muhammad, who held temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority in the Empire). Sultan Selim I, who reigned 1512-1520, conquered Mecca and Medina, and declared himself Caliph. Soon after the Caliphate was abolished in March 1924, the Hashemite Amir of Hejaz, Sharif Hussein of Mecca (related by blood to the prophet Muhammad), declared himself Caliph. He also took the title of King of the Arabs. The Saud clan and its Ikhwan or brotherhood allies from central Arabia, which adopted the Wahhabi Muslim creed centuries earlier, attacked the Hejaz and captured Mecca and Medina in July 1924. The Saud family, and the Saudi monarchy have been the guardians of Islam’s holy cities ever since.

A lengthy historical impasse has transformed in recent years into a strategic and economic partnership (trade volume between the two countries reached 4.66 billion USD in 2010) between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Relations were strengthened as both countries sought to coordinate their support for the Syrian rebels and counterbalance Iran’s expansion in the region. Yet, in the wake of the Egyptian coup, this partnership appears to be strained as the two countries’ visions collided with the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

The Turkish pro-government press criticism of the Saudi position in Egypt, which has had overall consensus among all segments of the Turkish population, including secularists, was reflected in the negative press coverage of Saudi Arabia. Turkey is one country in the region where Islamists, secularists, leftists and liberals all concur on the negative image of Saudi Arabia, with each doubting its policies. While Saudi Arabia has succeeded in creating loyal constituencies in many countries, somehow it has failed to endear itself to the Turks.

On the Saudi side, while the Turkish-Saudi partnership is officially celebrated as a great strategic alliance, the Saudi press occasionally launches attacks that undermine this veneer of cooperation. Accusations that “Sultan Erdogan” longs for the return of the Ottoman caliphate regularly appeared in the Saudi sponsored pan-Arab press. Such attacks are often backed by appeals to Arabism and the historical animosity between Turkey and the Arab people.

The Saudi Wahhabi creed has been spread globally by the Al-Haramain Foundation. It is competing for souls with the Turkish Gulen Movement, which is a transnational religious Movement, led by the Turkish Islamic scholar, Fethullah Gulen. While the Gulen Movement is more discreet about pushing its Islamist agenda, Al-Haramain, according to the Security Council Committee, “was one of the principal NGOs active throughout the world providing support for the Al-Qaida network.”

Facing a more populous and militarily powerful Iran across the Gulf, the Saudis sought to check Iran’s encroachment through an alliance with the U.S. Past presidents of the U.S. were indeed reliable Saudi allies, but not the Obama administration. President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood uprisings throughout the Middle East, and Egypt’s deposed President Morsi in particular. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia shared concern at the prospect of a new alliance between the Arab Sunni-Islamist states and Erdogan’s Turkey.

As one of President Obama’s best friends in the world, it is likely that Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will serve as a “go between” the U.S. and Iran. Besides his anti-Semitic outburst, and his deep hostility towards Israel, Erdogan’s view regarding Iran’s nuclear program is worrisome. In November, 2008, speaking at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., Erdogan suggested that Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons was “normal for any country.” That alone is sufficient enough for Saudi and Israeli policy-makers to worry. It is also one of the reasons for the widening gap between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

By Joseph Puder
Frontpage Magazine

Assyrian International News Agency

Syria: Saudi Arabia Betraying Islamic World

TEHRAN — The Syrian information minister said Saudi Arabia is responsible for the death and destruction throughout the Islamic world today, including in Syria.

Omran al-Zoubi made the remarks in a television interview broadcast on Monday, press tv reported.

He advised Riyadh to halt its policy of sponsoring terrorism against Syria and other regional countries, such as Iraq, Lebanon, and Algeria.

Zoubi particularly criticized the Saudi foreign minister, saying Saud al-Faisal has always driven Saudi policy toward failure.

He also branded Faisal as “the political side of the terrorism practiced by the kingdom”.

“Saud al-Faisal has always driven the Saudi policy toward failure and into a dead end and the Saudi diplomacy will face unmatched disappointment,” the Syrian minister added.

His comments came after a meeting between Faisal and his US counterpart John Kerry on Monday.

During the meeting, the Saudi official reportedly lamented the international community’s inaction on the Syrian crisis, particularly the US decision not to intervene militarily.

Syria has long accused Saudi Arabia of being one of the main regional sponsors of the foreign-backed militants.

On Monday, Zoubi said the Syrian government would not participate in the forthcoming Geneva 2 peace conference if the aim were for President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power.

“We will not go to Geneva to hand over power as desired by (Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud) al-Faisal and certain opponents abroad,” Zoubi said.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million others displaced due to the violence.

Assyrian International News Agency

Kerry In Saudi Arabia To Smooth Relations

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Saudi Arabia on the second leg of his 11-day tour of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

During his visit, Kerry is expected to try to repair relations with America’s long-standing ally.

Egypt is one of the issues that have frayed bilateral ties in recent months.

Washington has frozen a large portion of the $ 1.3 billion it gives in aid annually to Egypt after the military ousted Islamist President Muhammad Morsi in July.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has thrown its support behind the interim government.

There has also been tension over Syria.

Riyadh, a main backer of Syria’s opposition, was reportedly angered when Washington last month put on hold threatened military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Also, Riyadh is reportedly concerned that Syrian peace talks could lead to a Tehran-backed government in Damascus.

Saudi Arabia, locked in a decades-long rivalry with Iran, is also concerned that a breakthrough in nuclear negotiations could see a U.S.-Iran rapprochement.

In Cairo Sunday, Kerry said he would not allow countries of the Middle East to be “attacked from the outside” — a message viewed as a reference to Iran.

On Egypt, the U.S. top diplomat said the “march to democracy” is the country’s only path to stability and economic prosperity.

He also insisted that the United States is committed to working with Egypt’s interim rulers.

An official travelling with Kerry told reporters that Kerry “pressed hard on not extending the state of emergency” due to expire in Egypt on November 14.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy expressed satisfaction that Washington and Cairo are “pursuing a resumption of normal relations.”

On Syria, Kerry acknowledged that while there might be differences over “tactics” in ending the civil war, the goal for the United States and its allies is the same – a transition of power.

Kerry’s trip is scheduled to include visits to Poland, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Morocco.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and BBC

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Kerry to visit Saudi Arabia amid frayed ties

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, will travel to Saudi Arabia where he will meet Saudi King Abdullah in an effort to ease diplomatic strains over Syria and Iran.

Kerry, who is set to begin his nine-day Middle East and Europe tour on Saturday, will also visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, the state department said on Thursday.

Kerry will “discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues” with Abdullah and “reaffirm the strategic nature of the US-Saudi relationship given the importance of the work between our two countries on shared challenges,” department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The visit to Riyadh by the top US diplomat follows a spate of unusually public complaints from leading members of the Saudi ruling family that reflect the kingdom’s frustration with the US over its perceived inaction on Syria, its diplomatic engagement with Iran and its coldness toward the military government in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia angrily rejected a UN Security Council seat earlier this month, accusing the UN body of “double standards” over the Syria war and other trouble spots in an unprecedented diplomatic assault.

Poland is also on the itinerary, and Kerry will discuss defence issues with senior Polish officials in the capital, Warsaw, the state department said.

Israeli-Palestinian talks

Kerry wraps up the trip in North Africa with stops in Algiers and Rabat. The department said Kerry will meet with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar.

The Secretary of State’s trip from November 3 to November 11 comes amid continuing conflict in Syria, an uncertain Israeli-Palestinian peace process and an uproar over US surveillance activities.

After a quick jaunt to Poland, where the controversy over alleged NSA spying is sure to be raised, Kerry will return to the Middle East for talks with Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Emirati officials.

Kerry will discuss the ongoing final status negotiations and other regional issues with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the department said.

The top diplomat and Israeli officials will also discuss Iran.

On Monday, Kerry said he may travel to Egypt in the coming weeks, but Cairo was not on the itinerary for this trip.



At UN, Pakistan Praises Saudi Arabia for Protecting ‘Women’s Rights’

It’s not a joke. It’s the United Nations.

And it’s that punchline to the joke that the UN protects human rights that is the UN Human Rights Council, which is always ready to condemn human rights abusers like Canada, Australia and America… but has a kind word for defenders of human rights like China, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

Today’s United Nations punchline has been brought to you by billions of your tax dollars. It’s your money. You deserve a good laugh.

As the UN Human Rights Council scrutinized Saudi Arabia’s domestic rights record this morning… out of 95 countries who took the floor, 82 praised Saudi Arabia.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, said the country is poised to win a seat on the Human Rights Council.

“A country whose legal system routinely lashes women rape victims rather than punish the perpetrators should not have been praised effusively by members of the UN’s top human rights body,” said Neuer. “Instead the world should have addressed the Saudi regime’s use of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, such as flogging, amputations and eye-gouging.”

But look at who lined up to praise Saudi human rights.

Afghanistan: “We commend Saudia Arabia as they continue to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights…”

Palestine: “We take notice of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to protect and promote human rights…”

Somalia: “Saudi Arabia maintains a high priority for protection and promotion of human rights…”

Libya: “Saudi Arabia continues to strengthen human rights and promote them and this deserves our appreciation…”

Mauritania, VP of the UNHRC (and a country that practices slavery): “We commend Saudi Arabia for always seeking to strengthen human rights…We commend Saudi Arabia in terms of the progress on guaranteeing fundamental rights and freedoms, socioeconomic progress, participation of women at all levels and participation in society.

China: “We appreciate efforts made to protect the rights of children and to have dialogues of religious tolerance…”

Pakistan: Commended “laudable steps taken by Saudi Arabia to promote and protect the rights of children and women…”

It’s official.

According to China, Saudi Arabia which arrests Christians for praying, practices religious tolerance.

According to Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, the terrorists running the Palestinian Authority, and a Muslim country that practices slavery, the Saudis excel at human rights.

And according to Pakistan, a country where raping women is practically in the Constitution, Saudi Arabia, which won’t let women drive or leave the house, is also breaking new ground in protecting women’s rights.

Every comedian knows when to go out on a high note. The joke that is the UN has reached its high note. There is nothing else. It’s time to disband the whole thing, admit it was a long gag, and move on to the Glasgow Comedy Festival, and maybe use the UN building to house the homeless.

There’s nothing else left to do.

By Daniel Greenfield
Frontpage Magazine

Assyrian International News Agency

UN Should Snub Saudi Arabia for Child Marriage, Religious Persecution, Terrorism and Female Rights

UN Should Snub Saudi Arabia for Child Marriage, Religious Persecution, Terrorism and Female Rights

If the United Nations had any principles based on religious freedom, gender equality, protecting little girls from pedophile marriages and supporting the rights of women; then Saudi Arabia would rightly be an international pariah. However, feudal monarchies in the Gulf region appear to have a free hand whereby these states can persecute and spread militant Islam and other dark forces far and wide. This reality highlights the sham of the international community because wealthy feudal monarchies can get away with systematic persecution and supporting various forces in the military arena in nations like Bahrain, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

The headlines surrounding the decision by Saudi Arabia to turn down a two year seat on the United Nations Security Council is back to front. After all, what political, religious and gender freedom exists in Saudi Arabia? Indeed, little girls from 8 years old and onwards face the real threat of being married under Islamic Sharia law to very old men. Of course, Saudi Arabia is rejecting the United Nations Security Council based on geopolitical issues. However, despite this it is essential to look at the bigger picture in relation to this nation and the same applies to the lofty ideals of the United Nations.

If you check the United Nations website it states in Article 1 (section 3) of the United Nations Charter that this section is aimed at achieving “…international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion…”

Like previously mentioned, Saudi Arabia is focused on geopolitical issues in relation to snubbing the United Nations Security Council. Yet, how can a nation which violates the rights of non-Muslims, minors, and women, be involved in such lofty aspirations in the first place? Not only this, it is widely known that Saudi Arabia is channeling money to sectarian and Takfiri forces in Syria. Therefore, how can “…international co-operation”exist under this reality?

Also, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are all violating Article 2 (section 4) in relation to Syria because it states that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Of course, the United Nations is tainted by the reality that powerful nations can openly manipulate the Security Council. For example, the Tibetan issue can’t be given a fair chance of succeeding because China can prevent any genuine implementation of Tibetan demands. Similarly, America often protects Israel and so forth therefore powerful vested interests already exist. Saudi Arabia is clearly correct about this angle but the same equally applies to the foreign policy objectives of Saudi Arabia and other nations which try to pursue their objectives — be it America, the Russian Federation or whoever.

Saudi Arabia issued a statement saying that “Saudi Arabia … is refraining from taking membership of the U.N. Security Council until it has reformed so it can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace.”

While Saudi Arabia mentioned issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and Syria, it is clear that this nation is being a little economical with the truth. This applies to Saudi Arabia funding and supporting forces in Syria which frequently behead individuals and cleanse religious minorities; supporting the oppression of the Shia and other forces in Bahrain; and Saudi Arabia is also involved in Yemen which is equally based on vested interests. Therefore, if Saudi Arabia is so concerned about moral principles, then this nation should stop its foreign policy adventures and reform itself internally in relation to religious freedom, the rights of women and protecting child minors from pedophile marriages.

It appears that Saudi Arabia is disappointed because powerful nations didn’t bomb Syria. In the meantime Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism — and all non-Muslim faiths — are illegal in Saudi Arabia and women face being whipped if they dress liberal in public.

By Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia rejects UN Security Council seat

Saudi Arabia has rejected its newly acquired seat on the UN Security Council, saying the 15-member body is incapable of resolving world conflicts such as the Syrian civil war.

The announcement came just hours after the kingdom was elected as one of the council’s 10 non-permanent members.

In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the Foreign Ministry said the council has failed in its duties towards Syria.

This, the ministry said, enabled Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to perpetrate the killings of its people, including with chemical weapons, without facing any punishment.

The kingdom, which has backed the Syrian rebels in their struggle to topple Assad, has in the past criticised the international community for failing to halt the civil war in Syria, now in its third year.

According to UN figures, the conflict has so far killed over 100,000 people.

‘Inability to perform’

Saudi Arabia easily won the seat in a vote at the General Assembly in New York on Thursday, facing no opposition because there were no contested races for the first time in several years.

The Security Council seats are highly coveted because they give countries a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security, in places like Syria, Iran and North Korea, as well as the UN’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.

The 15-member council includes five permanent members with veto power - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – and 10 nonpermanent members elected for two-year terms.

After the vote, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s UN ambassador, said his country’s election was “a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means”.

But the statement from Riyadh on Friday struck a sharply different tone.

“Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill its people and burn them with chemical weapons in front of the entire world and without any deterrent or punishment is clear proof and evidence of the UN Security Council’s inability to perform its duties and shoulder its responsibilities,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

It also said the council has not been able to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over the past decades and has failed to transform the Middle East into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.



Saudi Arabia Vies For Influence in Iraq

It’s hard to determine the exact features of Saudi Arabia’s policy in Iraq, because of its conservative and secretive nature. It is no secret to anyone that Saudi Arabia is not very friendly toward the Iraqi government — which is dominated by Shiite parties — or toward Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

According to leaked US cables from diplomats who met with the Saudi king, the latter does not trust Maliki and considers him an Iranian agent. Despite this, a few months ago, Maliki made statements regarding the possibility of establishing an “axis of moderation” that includes Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to counter what he considered the “axis of extremism” that supports the Muslim Brotherhood and some hard-line organizations — an apparent reference to Qatar and Turkey.

These statements have raised speculations about breaking the ice between the two parties. Some have even talked about a potential normalization of relations. Yet the developments of the Syrian crisis and the two countries’ opposing stances on it suggest that such a rapprochement remains unattainable.

Saudi media outlets — especially those close to the royal family, such as the daily Asharq Al-Awsat that is owned by the crown prince — strongly criticize the Maliki government, particularly in opinion articles that are written by influential journalists in Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, Saudi circles believe that the current conflict in Syria is an extension of the Saudi-Iranian conflict, which intensified following the fall of former President Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. It seems that for Saudi Arabia, bringing Syria out of Iran’s sphere of influence is necessary to counter the effects of Iran’s significant influence in Iraq. Saudi Arabia’s preoccupation with fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria — and opposing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere — probably justifies Riyadh’s decreasing concern with Iraqi affairs. Nevertheless, the gradual shift of the Fertile Crescent into an arena of overlapping conflicts makes the separation of issues a sort of theoretical luxury.

The role of Saudi Arabia in Iraq has come up on two recent occasions. First, there were allegations that a Saudi spy plane had violated Iraqi airspace and carried out a reconnaissance mission in Iraq’s southern regions. There was also an attempt to link that incident to the existence of a prison in this area, in which Saudi nationals belonging to al-Qaeda are held.

Second, there have been reports that Saudi Arabia sent invitations to Iraqi tribal leaders to go on pilgrimage and meet with the Saudi king, a move Shiite politicians considered unacceptable interference in Iraq’s internal affairs. Some tribal leaders confirmed the existence of such invitations, although they disagreed on the appropriate response to them.

If true, these reports will show once again that Saudi Arabia is still far from recognizing the status quo in Iraq. The invitations sent to tribal sheikhs represent a calculated intervention to flirt with their Arab identity.

Saudi Arabia has always known how to invoke and take advantage of identity politics in the region. As it continues to use sectarian pressures in Syria to separate the Sunni majority from the Assad regime, its project in Iraq emphasizes Arab nationalist mobilization against “Persian” influence. In Syria, Riyadh mobilizes the Sunni community against the ideas of Arab nationalism espoused by the Syrian regime, while it instigates a sort of Arab national solidarity against the pro-Iranian Shiite political Islam. Meanwhile, Iran tries to take advantage of Shiite complaints in Bahrain and the Eastern parts of Saudi Arabia in order to extend its influence in the Gulf. In return, the Saudis believe that reviving feelings of Arab nationalism in southern Iraq may help not only to reduce Iranian influence there, but could also reach the Arab minority in the Iranian region of Ahvaz, where there is a deep feeling of resentment toward the Iranian regime.

It is too early to make a judgment on the Saudis’ objectives. The only thing certain is that the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia over influence in the Fertile Crescent is continuing, and becoming more and more complex every day.

By Harith Hasan
AL Monitor

Assyrian International News Agency

U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad: Saudi Arabia financed al-Qaeda attacks in Iraq to destabilize the government

{Baghdad Ambassador: News}

Revealed the British newspaper The Guardian on Friday, about “a group telegrams of secret U.S. dating back to 2009, talking about Iraq’s relationship with its neighbors,” and promised to Saudi Arabia as “the biggest challenge and the problem is more complex for Iraq,” and attributed the cause to “Saudi money and hostile attitudes of the Shiites and concerns strengthen Iran’s influence Regional across Iraq’s Shiite government, “and showed that Saudi Arabia was” sponsoring sectarian incitement and allow elders issued fatwas enticing to kill Shiites. ”

Said former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill, set in telegrams confidential letter sent to the U.S. State Department, and published in the Guardian UK, said, “Saudi Arabia and not Iran poses the biggest challenge and the problem is more complex in relation to the Iraqi politicians who are trying to form a stable government and independent,” and attributed the reason to “Saudi money and anti-Shia attitudes and concerns that the Shiite-led Iraq enhances the regional influence of Iran.”

And Hill said in his message dated 24 September 2009, which is dealing with Iraq’s relations with neighboring countries, the main Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria and Turkey, that “some and not everyone believes that Saudi Arabia is seeking to enhance Sunni influence and weaken the control of the Shiite and the promotion of the government is weak and divided,” he continued, “efforts parliamentary hand-driven design and clear focus on the weak government led by Shiite separate from its Arab neighbors and U.S. security outside the structural and strategically dependent on Iran and the United States has no interest in any of the options. ”

He pointed out that “Iraqi officials believe that relations with Saudi Arabia, one of the most problems complicated as they are keen usually not to criticize harshly in front of U.S. officials because of our relationship with the document Saudis,” noting that they “assert allow the Saudi leadership periodically to Saudi clerics pouring out their anger on the Shiites” , stressing that “reinforces Iraq’s theory that the Wahhabi Saudi state sponsored sectarian incitement.”

And went on a former U.S. ambassador said, “He looked Saudis traditional look to Iraq as a barrier controlled by Sunnis against the spread Shiite political influence of Iran,” Abizaid that “in the wake of the bombings in the Shiite-dominated throughout Iraq in June, which led to dozens of deaths occur Maliki publicly for a statement in this regard to a Saudi imam in May, “and explained that” al-Maliki said, I’ve noticed that many governments have been suspiciously silent on the fatwa that instigated the killing of Shiites. ”

He pointed out that “We have told us Advisor National Security Council described Sheikh short time ago that Saudi influence in Iraq is important and perhaps more important now than Iranian influence due to the financial resources and the media behave and preoccupation with Iran, its problems internal,” and that “the adviser Prime Minister Sadiq al-Rikabi stressed Saudis oppose a strong government under the leadership of the Iraqi National Alliance. ”

He Hill in his message that “the press articles attributed to intelligence sources reported that Saudi Arabia are hard Gulf to destabilize the Maliki government and financed attacks al-Qaeda present in Iraq,” he continued, “as ratios article to a member of parliament, Haider al-Abadi, a political ally of Maliki as saying that the neighbors Gulf Arab intend to destabilize Iraq, “stressing that” the highest level sources pointed out these intentions. ”


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Saudi Arabia Steps Up Efforts To Oust Syria’s Assad

It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia wants to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But just how much Riyadh is willing to use its money to reach that goal can be surprising.

One measure was a meeting on July 31 in Moscow between Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Details of the meeting are still sketchy, but Syrian opposition sources close to Saudi Arabia say the prince offered to buy up to $ 15 billion of Russian weapons if Moscow agreed to ease its support of Assad and stop blocking future UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.

At the same time, the prince reportedly offered to ensure that no Persian Gulf country would export natural gas across the Arabian Peninsula to challenge Russia’s position as the main gas supplier to Europe.

Moscow appears to have not been interested, with the Kremlin saying on August 9 that media accounts of an offer were inaccurate.

Putin’s foreign-policy adviser, Yury Ushakov, told reporters that “Putin did not discuss a deal.” He added that “no specific questions on developing military cooperation were discussed” and that the meeting was of “a philosophical character” only.

Taking The Lead

Still, however detailed the offer was — or not — the Saudi intelligence chief’s visit leaves no doubt that Riyadh now regards the Syrian conflict as a top foreign-policy priority.

“Since about June-July this year, they have taken the lead in funding the Syrian opposition and also deciding to an extent who is leading the Syrian opposition, to putting more and more money for arms, and probably also arms, into the arsenal or coffers of the Syrian opposition, and also to become more diplomatically active, both in the West and in Russia,” says Volker Perthes of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

What is driving Saudi Arabia, Perthes says, is fear. “It fears, probably in descending order, that Iran may win, or Iran may establish hegemony in the Middle East and in the Levant, build a land bridge from Iran proper thorough Iraq and Syria to Lebanon,” he says.

“It fears that Hizballah would win in Lebanon against Sunni politicians whom Saudi Arabia has been supporting for ages, and it fears that Assad could prevail or, if the opposition wins, that it is the wrong part of the opposition that wins.”

But Riyadh has other concerns, too.

Among them is the danger the Syrian conflict will destabilize Jordan, where King Abdullah II faces a determined domestic opposition movement at the same time the country struggles to cope with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

“If the Kingdom of Jordan seemed to be in trouble, the Saudis would rush in to try to protect it as the Saudis rushed into Bahrain,” says Theodore Karasik of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “From their point of view the collapse of a monarchy would be a huge disaster, with intense geopolitical ramifications for other monarchies.”

Wider Divisions

Underneath all these worries runs yet another: the Syrian conflict is increasingly attracting sectarian extremists from neighboring states and beyond. That, Karasik says, risks exacerbating sectarian tensions across the region.

“Those groups that are affiliated with Al-Qaeda and those groups that are affiliated with and backed by Iran and Hizballah also have violent confrontations with each other at this time, so it is not only at a state level but it’s also at a nonstate level between various militias and groups,” the analyst says.

Riyadh faces two dangers from Saudi militants who may one day come home from Syria. One is that returning Sunni fighters could strengthen Al-Qaeda’s long-running war against the Saudi royal house. The other is that returning Shi’ite fighters could help radicalize the kingdom’s historically underprivileged Shi’ite minority in the country’s oil-rich east.

As Saudi Arabia assumes the lead in backing Syria’s rebels, it remains unclear how much room it sees for compromise with other world powers with stakes in the conflict.

But Jane Kinninmont, a regional expert with London-based Chatham House, notes the reports of last week’s meeting suggest Riyadh is increasingly ready to explore a wide range of possibilities, even with powers that currently are firmly lined up on the opposing side.

“One of the things that’s interesting about the recent reports of their engagement in Russia is that this would be a case of them using a carrot and not only the stick,” Kinninmont says. “There has been a lot of Saudi pressure on Russia. We have seen Russian business delegations to Saudi Arabia canceled because the Saudis have not wanted to meet with them. We have seen a great deal of anti-Russian rhetoric coming out of Saudi clerics. But there hasn’t been much in the way of going to the Russians and saying, ‘What do you want and can we do some kind of deal.’”

The Syrian conflict, which began with demonstrations against Assad in March 2011, is now almost 2 1/2 years old. According to the latest UN figures, more than 100,000 people have died in the conflict.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iraq Rebuilds Ties to Saudi Arabia

Iraqi-Saudi relations is the most complex issue that Iraq has to deal with. But, at the same time, it is the closest to being resolved if the political entities of both countries prove to be serious about resuming the historical relations that brought their countries together.

While Iraqi-Saudi relations were never at their best — except for short periods of time — the iciness that gripped them never prevented both from appreciating the reciprocal strategic, cultural, human and religious roles that they played in the region and the world.

By completely cutting off Iraqi-Saudi relations in the aftermath of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia joined the ranks of the front that endeavored throughout the 1990s to curtail the role played by Saddam Hussein’s regime, contain its regional ambitions and eventually lead the political charge that resulted in its downfall in 2003.

Everyone remembers that Saudi Arabian health and political crews rushed to enter Iraq in the early days that followed the toppling of the regime, in a clear indication that the kingdom was ready to open up politically and economically to Iraq.

But this openness never truly materialized as a result of mistakes committed by both sides.

First, Iraqi political leaderships that ruled the country from 2003 onward never really understood the strategic weight that Saudi Arabia possessed. Furthermore, they often behaved and reacted in an emotional and undisciplined manner when confronted with the role played by the kingdom in Iraq and the region. This behavior was construed in the kingdom as an indication of Iraq’s unwillingness to establish deep and strong relations with Riyadh, while rushing headlong to bolster relations with Iran.

Second, in turn, Saudi Arabia did not expend real effort to restore normal relations with Iraq, and did not return in force to the Iraqi arena — nor did it encourage Saudi investors to do so, which the Iraqis interpreted as an attempt by the kingdom to impose a conditional relationship.

In both cases, the subjects of terrorism and sectarian polarization in the region greatly affected the relationship. Iraqis did not differentiate between Saudi terrorist militants fighting in Iraq and the kingdom. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia construed Iraq’s relationship with Iran as emanating from a Shiite desire to threaten the region’s Sunni Muslims.

All these ambiguities hampered the evolution of the relationship, and increased the coldness with which each country regarded the other.

In this regard, Ali al-Mousawi, spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, told Al-Monitor on July 18 in Baghdad, “Relations between the two countries were in a holding pattern as each of them considered what their political stance would be.”

The truth is that their relationship has undergone numerous developments during the past years, which portend to the possibility of greatly improving. Following the Arab Summit meeting held in Baghdad in 2012, Saudi Arabia decided to appoint a non-resident ambassador to Iraq — a move that was greatly welcomed by the Iraqis.

And, on June 15, in another sign of increasing trust, Iraq signed a prisoner exchange agreement with Saudi Arabia, which was followed by an actual exchange of prisoners between them as a prelude to this file being closed once and for all. Furthermore, Saudi sources confirmed earlier this month that a senior Saudi delegation would visit Baghdad soon to pave the way for the reopening of the embassy in Iraq.

All these indications are important, but, both sides must work toward bolstering their relationship and put an end to the probing and shaken confidence that has lasted for years.

Saudi Arabia must resume its active role in Iraq and open the door toward strategic long-term relations with Baghdad. This will not only serve the interests of both countries, but will effectively contribute in appeasing the sectarian tensions that have been markedly increasing in the Middle East over the past years.

The pivotal role that Iraq and Saudi Arabia can play in restoring balance to the region previously justified the prolonged periods of mistrust that characterized their relationship. It should now justify ending this period and start a new one predicated upon the preservation of their mutual interests.

By Mustafa al-Kadhimi
AL Monitor

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia Warned US About Boston Bomber

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.

The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen.

Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the source said. Tsarnaev’s plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.

The Saudis’ warning to the U.S. government was also shared with the British government. ‘It was very specific’ and warned that ‘something was going to happen in a major U.S. city,’ the Saudi official said during an extensive interview.

It ‘did name Tamerlan specifically,’ he added. The ‘government-to-government’ letter, which he said was sent to the Department of Homeland Security at the highest level, did not name Boston or suggest a date for his planned attack.

If true, the account will produce added pressure on the Homeland Security department and the White House to explain their collective inaction after similar warnings were offered about Tsarnaev by the Russian government.

A DHS official denied, however, that the agency received any such warning from Saudi intelligence about Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

‘DHS has no knowledge of any communication from the Saudi government regarding information on the suspects in the Boston Marathon Bombing prior to the attack,’ MailOnline learned from one Homeland Security official who declined to be named in this report.

The White House took a similar view. ‘We and other relevant U.S. government agencies have no record of such a letter being received,’ said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the president’s National Security Council.

The letter likely came to DHS via the Saudi Ministry of Interior, the agency tasked with protecting the Saudi kingdom’s homeland.

A Homeland Security official confirmed Tuesday evening on the condition of anonymity that the 2012 letter exists, saying he had heard of the Saudi communication before MailOnline inquired about it.

An aide to a Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee speculated Tuesday about why the Obama administration contradicted the knowledgeable Saudi official.

‘It is possible the Department of Homeland Security received the information from the Saudi government but never passed it on to the White House,’ the GOP staffer said. ‘Communication between DHS and the White House’s national security apparatus isn’t always what it should be.’

‘I can easily see it happening where one hand didn’t know what the other was doing because of a turf war.’

‘Just like the different agencies in the Boston JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] want credit for breaking the Tsarnaev case,’ the aide added, ‘they sometimes jealously guard the very intel they should be sharing the most freely. Sometimes it makes no sense at all.’

House Homeland Security Committee chairman Mike McCaul plans to announce on Wednesday an investigative hearing to probe what U.S. intelligence knew prior to the Boston attacks, two senior Republican sources told MailOnline.

Separately, President Obama announced Tuesday that the U.S. government will launch a wide-ranging inquiry into the sharing of information among the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and other intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of the federal government.

‘We want to leave no stone unturned,’ the president said in a rare White House press conference.

The internal review will be led by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and several inspectors general.

‘This is not an investigation,’ Clapper’s spokesman Shawn Turner said in a prepared statement. ‘This is an independent review of information-sharing procedures. It is limited to the handling of information related to the suspects prior to the attack.’

It is not yet clear whether information from Saudi Arabia will be involved in Clapper’s inter-agency review.

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz appeared on CNN Tuesday afternoon, upbraiding the Obama administration for presuming that the federal government’s handling of intelligence prior to the Boston bombings was appropriate and effective.

‘As soon as the bombing happened we had officials, locally and from the feds, saying, “Oh, this was an isolated case, there was just one person involved.” We didn’t know that,’ Chaffetz said.

The ‘starting point’ for a federal investigation, he said, must be, ‘This is unacceptable, we will not stand for it, we will get to the bottom of it, and we will not rest until we figure it out.’

‘Mr. President,’ he said, addressing Obama, ‘the starting point should be an intolerance that this thing happened.’

The high-ranking Saudi official whom MailOnlne interviewed at length provided a wealth of detail about the warning he says his government sent to the United States. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk publicly about foreign intelligence, or about Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic relationship with the United States.

He suggested that the Saudi Ministry of Interior sent the letter out of an abundance of caution in order to be helpful to the United States, even though its intelligence on Tsarnaev wasn’t yet fully developed.

‘With Saudi Arabia it’s always code red,’ he said. ‘There’s no code orange, or code yellow. Always red.’

The Saudi government, he added, alerted the U.S. in part because it believed American authorities should be inspecting packages that came to Tsarnaev in the mail in order to search for bomb-making components.

The written warning also allegedly named three Pakistanis who may be of interest to British authorities. The official declined to provide more details about the warning to the UK, but said the two governments received the same information.

The Ministry of Interior, he said, sent the letters in 2012, likely after Tsarnaev returned from Russia to the United States in July.

President Barack Obama’s published schedule indicates that he met in the Oval Office with Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Interior minister, on January 14, 2013.

The Saudis denied Tsarnaev entry to the kingdom when he sought to travel to Mecca in December 2011 for a pilgrimage known as an Umrah — one that is undertaken during months that don’t fall within the regular Hajj period of the year.

That rejected application came one month before he traveled to Russia, where U.S. intelligence sources believe he acquired training enabling him to construct and detonate the bombs that he and his younger brother placed hear the Boston Marathon’s finish line.

The younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is in federal custody at a prison medical facility.

The Saudi official speculated that Tsarnaev’s residence in the United States might have made it more difficult for him to gain entry into the kingdom.

‘U.S.-based Muslims who become radicalized and want to visit Mecca create an unusual problem,’ he said, compelling the Saudi government ‘to carefully examine applications.’

In the wake of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met with Secretary of State John Kerry on April 16, and then had an unscheduled meeting with President Obama on April 17.

‘This is the DNA of the Saudi government,’ said the Saudi official, referring to officials in the royal court in Riyadh. ‘This is how they work. They sent the letter, but that wasn’t enough. They then sent the top guy to meet personally with the president.’

He dismissed the idea that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was likely trained by al Qaeda while he was outside the United States last year.

The Saudis’ Yemen-based sources, he explained, said militants referred to Tamerlan dismissively as ‘the volunteer.’

‘He was a gung-ho, self motivated jihadi who wasn’t tasked by a larger group,’ he said.

‘There is no reason for anyone in Afghanistan to have in his thinking a scenario like this,’ the official added, referring to pressure-cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon. ‘He took the initiative. That’s why they call him “the volunteer.”‘

‘The Boston thing is beneath them,’ he said of al Qaeda. ‘They don’t think like this. This is like a firecracker to them. They want something big.’

Tamerlan may have boasted about his plans online, the Saudi official said, offering an explanation for how Yemen-based sources first learned of him. Islamist militants have well-developed social networks that can enable news to migrate quickly across vast distances.

The Saudi government sometimes tracks such radicals by launching fake jihadi websites to attract extremists. The Ministry of Interior then tracks them electronically, often across the world, and shares information with governments it considers friendly, including the United States.

‘The Saudi Arabian government is doing everything it can to wipe out these people and treat America as a true friend,’ the official said.

The Saudi intelligence services have a long history of providing credible information to America and Great Britain about looming threats.

‘This is the fourth time the Saudi Arabian government has given the U.S. specific intel’ about a possible terror plot, the official said, citing prior warnings about Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber who repeatedly tried to light a fuse in his shoe to bring down American Airlines flight 63 bound for Miami in December 2001.

He also cited the 300-gram ‘ink-cartridge bombs’ planted on two cargo planes headed for the United States from Yemen in October 2010. Those explosives were intercepted in Dubai, and at an East Midlands airport in Great Britain.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s namesake was a 15-century Central Asian warlord who referred to himself as ‘the sword of Islam.’ Sometimes spelled ‘Tamerlane’ in English, he was known for his cruelty.

When he conquered Baghdad, he reportedly made a pyramid of human skulls from unfortunate residents of that city.

Although still revered in Chechnya and throughout Central Asia, the original Tamerlane is sometimes vilified in modern-day Saudi textbooks.

By David Martosko

Richard Miniter contributed the American Media Institute’s reporting for this story.

Assyrian International News Agency

Saudi Arabia and Qatar: Dueling Monarchies

saudi-arabia-qatar-arab-awakening-relations-muslim-brotherhoodThe demise of secular autocratic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa has heralded a renaissance for Islamist parties in the region, igniting a rivalry for the hearts and minds of the Sunni world between the Gulf powers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These neighboring petro-monarchies have sought to influence political transformations in the Levant and North Africa on their own respective terms, both to advance geopolitical interests and to ensure that their own populations do not initiate popular uprisings.

Although neither country is a bastion of democracy at home, Qatar has proven much more amenable than Saudi Arabia to bolstering democratic Islamist movements abroad. The resulting Saudi-Qatari rivalry undermines Saudi Arabia’s historic role as the “self-proclaimed bulwark of Islamic conservatism” in the Middle East and the powerhouse of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Historical Tensions

Historically, the Saudi-Qatari relationship has been defined by mutual distrust, albeit tempered by a common interest in maintaing stability in the Persian Gulf. Prior to Qatar’s indepedence in 1971, the Saudi royal family’s connections with Qatari businessmen, members of Qatar’s ruling family, and Qatari Bedouin tribes faciliated strong Saudi influence in the affairs of its tiny Gulf neighbor.

In 1992, two Qatari guards were killed in a clash along the Saudi-Qatari border, precipitating a decade of poor relations. A few years later, members of Qatar’s government accused Riyadh of attempting a counter-coup in 1996 after Emir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani overthrew his father in a bloodless palace coup in 1995. Relations worsened as each country’s  state-owned media portrayed the other country negatively throughout the 1990s. In July 2006, Saudi officials contacted the financial backers of the Dolphin undersea natural gas project, a $ 3.5-billion pipeline linking Qatar to the U.A.E., and reported that the pipeline would enter Saudi territorial waters without Riyadh’s consent. A proposed pipeline linking Qatar and Kuwait created similar tensions.

Nonetheless, a rapprochement began during September 2007, when Qatar’s head of state paid a visit to the Saudi royal family in Riyadh, followed by a visit of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to Doha in December. Throughout 2008 and 2009, Saudi and Qatari officials exchanged diplomatic visits and resolved many of the tensions from the previous 15 years, although Qatar’s cordial ties with Iran remained a thorn in relations between Riyadh and Doha.

The Arab Awakening

Despite the warming of relations that began half a decade ago, the Arab Awakening has reignited tensions. Saudi Arabia—frequently labeled the “counter-revolutionary state” for its role in suppressing democratic movements throughout the region—fears the wave of popular uprisings that threatens its position as the anchor of a conservative order that has defined the regional balance of power for generations. By contrast, except in neighboring Bahrain, Qatar has sided with revolutionary forces. 

Opposing positions on the Muslim Brotherhood have become a source of particular tension.

The Saudi royal family holds a dim view of the democratic victories of the Muslim Brotherhood’s various affiliates in the region, viewing the Brotherhood’s explicitly Islamist mode of democratic politics as a threat to its own autocratic monarchial system. David Ottaway, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, explains: “In Saudi Arabia, there are no political parties, no labor unions, and very little civil society,” he writes. “In Egypt, it’s almost the exact opposite. You have lots of political parties, labor unions, civil society. The Muslim Brotherhood accepts the realities of Egypt – realities that the Saudi reject for their own society.” In return, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is stridently opposed to the Saudi monarchy, which it views as a decadent and corrupt puppet of Western powers.

By contrast, Qatar has fostered a congenial alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood.  Enthusiastic coverage of the Egyptian uprising by Al Jazeera, Qatar’s state-owned news network, unquestionably contributed to the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak. “Once the protest momentum had begun to build, communication and coordination became less essential. Everyone could simply watch al-Jazeera to find out where and when protests were happening,” writes Marc Lynch, director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University. Al-Jazeera “became the unquestioned home of the revolution on the airwaves,” providing “a focal point for audiences everywhere to share in revolutionary protest.”

Indications of Qatar’s influence continued to surface after the fall of the regime. In March 2011, Khairat al-Shater—then the Muslim Brotherhood’s nominee for president—visited Qatar for several days to discuss “coordination between the Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, and Qatar in the upcoming period,” according to the Egyptian Independent, implying that Doha had vested interests in the outcome of Egypt’s democratic elections. Additionally, a popular Al Jazeera television host—Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Qatari national of Egyptian origin—is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But while Al Jazeera was championing the uprising in Tahrir Square, Saudi King Abdullah was offering to bankroll Mubarak. The Saudi king advised the Obama administration to remain loyal to the dictator to the very end, even if Egyptian forces began killing unarmed protestors. When President Obama refused to heed Riyadh’s advice, the Saudi regime bitterly accused Washington of discarding Mubarak “like a used kleenex.”

In Tunisia, too—the birthplace of the Arab Awakening—many have attributed the Islamist Ennahda party’s success to an infusion of Qatari petro-dollars. The fact that Prime Minister Rashid al-Ghannouchi’s first post-election international visit was to Qatar—and that his son-in-law, formerly a researcher for Al Jazeera in Doha, became his Foreign Minister—has further stoked suspicions about ties between the Gulf emirate and the Ennahda party.

The speculation has even led to protests in Tunisia against Qatari interference in Tunisia’s affairs. By contrast, Ghannouchi is not even allowed in Saudi Arabia, where the deposed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali immediately recieved political aslyum after his regime collapsed under the weight of popular protests.

The Muslim Brotherhood-Salafi Divide

To counter the rise of moderate Islamists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia has tended to support Salafis, rivals of the Muslim Brotherhood typically considered more extreme in their Islamism. “The Salafis view the Brotherhood as insufficiently Islamist and too compromising,” explains Khalil al-Anani, a scholar of Middle East politics at Durhan University. “The Brothers, in turn, view Salafi positions as naïve, overly rigid, insufficiently centrist, and inappropriate in a modern Egyptian context. The Brothers have shown during sporadic participation in past parliaments that their primary focus is on politics and not on religious or cultural issues.”

Following the 2011-2012 elections, a Muslim Brotherhood leader stated that his party’s priorities were “economic reform and reducing poverty … not [fighting] bikinis and booze.” The Salafis, by contrast—according to Davidson professor Christopher Alexander—have rallied around “a return to the veil in universities and public offices,” “gender segregation and public prayer on university campuses,” and “an elimination of political parties and elections as infringements on God’s sovereignty.”

According to Mara Revkin, a scholar at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, the Salafi Al Nour party—which came in second place behind the Freedom and Justice Party with 24.3 percent of the vote in Egypt—received a “steady stream of funding, much of it originating in the Gulf States, [which] gave Salafi candidates a significant financial edge over their rivals.”

Revkin adds that Saudi support for Egyptian Salafis is “spiritual as well as material.” A Salafi cleric from Saudi Arabia, Adnan Alkhtiry, visited Egypt shortly before the parliamentary elections and delivered a sermon encouraging Egypt’s conservative Muslims to take advantage of “a great opportunity” to “establish an Islamic state” and not to “emerge from the election empty-handed” or “leave it those who don’t live the religious life.”

The View from Riyadh

The “Arab Awakening” is not the first Middle Eastern movement that has unnerved the Saudi regime.  The rise of Arab nationalism during the 1950s and 1960s and the Iranian revolution of 1979 both challenged Riyadh’s position as the anchor of a regional order.

Just as Saudi foreign policy proactively countered the rise of Nasser by supporting his enemies in Yemen and struck against Khomeini’s revolutionary regime by financing Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, Riyadh’s support for Salafi factions in countries undergoing political openings is the latest attempt to counter the rise of regional movements that conflict with the kingdom’s interests. Yet with its own resource wealth and competing regional agenda, Qatar is unusually well placed to rival Saudi largesse in the greater Middle East.

By placing bets on different horses in Egypt and Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have become rivals in a transitioning Arab world. The rise of a conservative yet democratic form of Islamism may be a wave that Qatar can ride, to Saudi Arabia’s dismay. However, Qatar’s influence could be crowded out by a rising Egypt or even Iraq in the future. Furthermore, if the Arab Awakening spreads from Bahrain into other Gulf emirates, Doha may need to reign in its international ambitions and address its democratic deficit at home.

Indeed, when it comes to democracy in the Gulf, the two kingdoms are rivals no more.

FPIF Latest Content

Meade: contracting market in Iraq is growing strong rival Saudi Arabia

Baghdad/JD/… Magazine (MED) Contracting market in Iraq is growing strong rival Saudi Arabia, stressing that the South Korean companies dominate the construction markets in the Middle East and North Africa

She magazine (MED) in a report published by the Kuwaiti daily (home): the reputation of South Korean companies continued promotion and dissemination in construction markets in the Middle East and North Africa, which span many sectors including oil and gas, petrochemicals, reflected fully in control of this year’s list of the 10 biggest contractors in the world in the sphere of project engineering, procurement and construction EPC.

The magazine said that daelim co. International, based in Seoul, four South Korean companies topped the great managed to acquire $ 13 billion worth of projects in the hydrocarbon sector over the past 12 months, which increases by about $ 5 billion of total contracts awarded to six other companies remaining from the list of top 10 companies.

While the magazine felt that this is an achievement worthy of admiration, and the fact that most of the contracts had been concluded with Saudi Arabia, but there is a broader opportunities on the horizon in strong growth markets such as Iraq, where it is expected to invest over $ 37 billion in the country’s hydrocarbon sector projects over the next year.

Since Iraq was home to about 10 percent of global oil reserves, it intends to promote oil production to 12 million bpd by 2017, there is no doubt that such a target is very ambitious, and that if possible, Iraq could become a rival to Saudi Arabic Queen as the largest producer of oil in the world today.

While it is expected that the South Korean construction companies play a dominant role in facilitating and implementing these projects, however, cannot overlook the role played by European contractors have taken European companies led by saipem and call she catered each Italian, Spanish tikenkas company serious steps and bold to ensure profitable contracts during the past 12 months, this has generated significant revenue contracts.

Conclusion «Med» said the company also achieved British petrovac great successes in the construction sector in the Middle East and North Africa, in particular through established alliances with competitors from South Korean companies to secure stakes in projects that arise now and then, it is expected that such a strategy of creating a road map for European companies to expand their presence in the region./finished/22/


Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Saudi Arabia Calls for Monitoring of Mosques After Mosque Found Manufacturing Explosives

Saudi Arabia Calls for Monitoring of Mosques After Mosque Found Manufacturing Explosives

Posted GMT 8-28-2012 14:59:2

JEDDAH — A number of religious scholars and academics have stressed the need for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Call and Guidance to beef up monitoring of places of worship. It followed the recent report of a Riyadh mosque serving as a facade for manufacturing explosives.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it discovered explosive substances and devices at a lean-to of a quiet mosque in Riyadh. Mosques normally use attached rooms to accommodate workers or for library service.

The scholars also demanded deterrent punishments to those who exploit the spiritual atmosphere in mosques to promote chaos in the country, Al-Madinah daily reported on Monday.

“Those who seek to destabilize the country and fight against security forces come under the category of ‘those who rebel against Allah and His Messenger’ and a country’s legitimate government and hence should be punished severely,” said Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manie, who is a member of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars and adviser at the Royal Court.

The scholar also congratulated the Interior Ministry for its successful preemptive strike against the Riyadh cell and protecting the people from such heinous deeds.

“The Islamic Affairs Ministry should ensure that imams and muezzins inspect the mosque premises regularly and thoroughly, so that the facilities are not misused for subversive activities. The sacred houses of worship should not be converted into dens of destructive acts,” he said.

Member of the Fiqh Academy Muhammad Al-Nojaimi stressed the duty of the worshipers and residents in nearby buildings apart from imams and muezzins to see that mosques are not exploited for subversive activities. “Officials concerned should also investigate why some expatriates are unofficially undertaking duties at mosques. They should also launch campaigns and raids at such mosques,” he said.

Head of Islamic studies at the Umm Al-Qura University Muhammad Al-Sahli said it was a matter of deep pain for all Muslims, especially students and teachers of religious knowledge and preachers, that a mosque had been used as a cover for destructive activities.

Director of the Makkah branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization Ahmed Al-Muwarraie urged parents and teachers to protect their children or students from vicious ideologies they might be exposed to in the present circumstances.

Professor of Political Studies at King Saud University Abdullah Al-Lehaidan said the uncovering of a terror cell in Riyadh was not a matter to be taken lightly. “The latest discovery shows that the terror menace is still existing in the country and could be uprooted only after flushing it out from the neighboring Yemeni territories, just as terrorist activities were flushed out from the Kingdom.”

An academic specialized in political sciences at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Waheed Hashim, said Al-Qaeda in Yemen facilitated terrorists to infiltrate into the Kingdom. Another political science expert at the university said Al-Qaeda in Yemen changed its strategy of sending explosives to the Kingdom from outside. “Now they make explosives in the Kingdom, unlike what they did in the past.”

The academics also viewed that the political and economic failure of Yemen provided a breeding ground for terrorists. “The terrorist ideology thrived in Yemen because of rampant poverty, hunger, and endless disputes between religious or tribal sects, insecurity, and a weak central government. The country’s strategic geographical position enables terrorists to secretly enter Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.”

Meanwhile, a former Saudi fighter in Afghanistan, Sheikh Siraj Al-Zahrani, warned against the dangers of Saudi youths being carried away by the temptation to be martyrs in Syria. Siraj said he joined the Afghan Taleban fighters on the assumption that they were fighting on the straight religious path, but experience made him disillusioned and prompted him to return home. “No youth should go to Syria or other war fronts without the permission from their guardians. A family should be cautious about its sons being lured to war zones for jihad,” the sheikh said.

Assyrian International News Agency

* Odai Awad: Saudi Arabia is fighting Iraq economically by preventing the export of oil through its territory

Follow-up – and babysit – said a member of the Commission on oil and energy parliamentary continuing crisis between Iraq and Saudi Arabia on the subject of a tube of Iraqi oil flowing in Saudi territory, attributing the cause to the political Arabia anti-Iraq, noting that Saudi Arabia is justified attempt the seizure of the tube to the failure to resolve the differences between Iraq and Kuwait. [he says ]

The MP said the Liberal bloc of the Sadrist movement Odai Awad today that “the cause of the dispute with Saudi Arabia is trying to Saudi Arabia seized on the tube Iraqi passing in Yanbu within Saudi territory, arguing that a” pipeline was built with Iraqi funds and there were approvals political, but after the fall of the former regime Saudi Arabia surprised trying to control the line. “

Awad added that “this line effect on the ratio of exports of Iraqi oil because of the policy followed by Saudi Arabia in the acquisition of the line and trying to fight against Iraq, economically, noting that Saudi Arabia is not new to the practice of policy hostile to Iraq since the fall of the regime and so far”.

He accused Awad Saudi practice of terrorism and the fight against Iraq politically, economically and socially, for reasons purely sectarian and said, “Saudi Arabia to justify infringing on the tube by claiming that the pipeline was built with funds Saudi Arabia and that this dialectic has not solved so far and when you try the House of Representatives to open this topic with Saudi Arabia surprised to link this issue, the issue of relations Kuwait-Iraq and Iraq was that the issue of the pipeline will not be solved except in the case of resolving the issue of the outstanding problems between Iraq and Kuwait, totally. “

A source in the Iraqi government had confirmed that the oil pipeline, built by Saudi territory in Iraq costs about two billion dollars and the export of energy absorbed million and 600 thousand barrels per day.



Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

* Odai Awad: Saudi Arabia is fighting Iraq economically by preventing the export of oil through its territory

Follow-up – and babysit – said a member of the Commission on oil and energy parliamentary continuing crisis between Iraq and Saudi Arabia on the subject of a tube of Iraqi oil flowing in Saudi territory, attributing the cause to the political Arabia anti-Iraq, noting that Saudi Arabia is justified attempt the seizure of the tube to the failure to resolve the differences between Iraq and Kuwait. [he says ]

The MP said the Liberal bloc of the Sadrist movement Odai Awad today that “the cause of the dispute with Saudi Arabia is trying to Saudi Arabia seized on the tube Iraqi passing in Yanbu within Saudi territory, arguing that a” pipeline was built with Iraqi funds and there were approvals political, but after the fall of the former regime Saudi Arabia surprised trying to control the line. “

Awad added that “this line effect on the ratio of exports of Iraqi oil because of the policy followed by Saudi Arabia in the acquisition of the line and trying to fight against Iraq, economically, noting that Saudi Arabia is not new to the practice of policy hostile to Iraq since the fall of the regime and so far”.

He accused Awad Saudi practice of terrorism and the fight against Iraq politically, economically and socially, for reasons purely sectarian and said, “Saudi Arabia to justify infringing on the tube by claiming that the pipeline was built with funds Saudi Arabia and that this dialectic has not solved so far and when you try the House of Representatives to open this topic with Saudi Arabia surprised to link this issue, the issue of relations Kuwait-Iraq and Iraq was that the issue of the pipeline will not be solved except in the case of resolving the issue of the outstanding problems between Iraq and Kuwait, totally. “

A source in the Iraqi government had confirmed that the oil pipeline, built by Saudi territory in Iraq costs about two billion dollars and the export of energy absorbed million and 600 thousand barrels per day.



Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Saudi Arabia Condemns Russian Comments

Saudi Arabia has condemned comments by Russia’s human rights envoy as “hostile” and an interference in the kingdom’s internal affairs. 

Konstantin Dolgov had expressed “grave concern” after two people were killed and twenty wounded in what Dolgov described as clashes in eastern Saudi Arabia last Sunday sparked by the arrest of a Shiite cleric. 

The Saudi interior minister had said the two were killed by assailants and not security forces. 

Eastern Province is home to most of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite community, who complain of discrimination by Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy and have staged protests. 

Analysts say the exchange between Russia and Saudi Arabia may be in part a result of their opposing stances on Syria.

Based on reporting by Reuters

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