Saudi Snub has Deeper Meaning as Iran Nixes Inspections

Editor’s Note – Regardless how the White House spun the story of being snubbed by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and three other leaders of Gulf States at the Camp David summit, it was obvious to clear thinking people that it was just that; a snub. The article below explains why it is actually even worse.

The Obama/Kerry policies in the region, especially regarding Iran, are an abysmal failure, just like their Israel/Palestinian stance. With the ‘deadline’ looming for a pact on Iran’s nuclear program, and open hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen, there is no positive spin that the White House can conjure up like they tried to do when Ramadi fell to IS in Iraq.

In fact, it is so bad that now the U.N. is sticking its nose into the fray in Yemen as well:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon - (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday announced talks between warring Yemeni parties in Geneva on May 28 to end over seven weeks of war, as Iran agreed for international inspections of an aid ship sailing to Yemen.

The moves are aimed at defusing the deepening crisis in the southern Arabian Peninsula, where Saudi-led forces killed at least 15 Houthis in the latest air strikes in a campaign to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. (Read more at Yahoo/Reuters.)

Further compounding the problems for Obama in the region are the continual harsh language coming from Ayatollah Khamanei in Tehran regarding the nuclear talks.

Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday ruled out inspections of Iranian military sites and interviews of Iranian nuclear scientists in any potential deal on its nuclear program.

In a speech at a graduation ceremony at the Imam Hussein Military University in Tehran, the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denounced what he said were escalating demands in the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers that resumed on Wednesday in Vienna.

“They say new things in the negotiations. Regarding inspections, we have said that we will not let foreigners inspect any military center,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, according to a text of the speech released on his personal website, Khamenei.ir. (Read more here at the NY Times.)

Obama seems to have the “anti-Midas touch,” everything he and his administration touches turns to something akin to the complete opposite of gold and rhymes with “ship.”

Speaking of ships, there was a positive note coming from the region regarding the inspection of the Iranian vessel steaming to the area with humanitarian relief:

From PressTV, an Iranian Publication that takes its orders from Tehran - Dubbed Rescue, Iran's ship is set to carry a group of humanitarian aid workers, medical technicians, and peace activists from the US, France, Germany, and Iran, along with a shipment of humanitarian aid, from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas in Hormozgan province to Yemen. (IRNA photo)
From PressTV, an Iranian Publication that takes its orders from Tehran – Dubbed Rescue, Iran’s ship is set to carry a group of humanitarian aid workers, medical technicians, and peace activists from the US, France, Germany, and Iran, along with a shipment of humanitarian aid, from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas in Hormozgan province to Yemen. (IRNA photo)

The U.N. announcement came as Iran announced that the Iranian cargo ship sailing to Yemen with 2,500 tonnes of food and medical supplies would submit to international inspections in Djibouti before continuing on to Yemen’s Hodaida port, which is under Houthi control.

The move reduces the risk of a potential showdown between the vessel, which had been escorted by Iranian warships, and Saudi-led forces enforcing inspections on vessels entering Yemeni ports to prevent arms supplies from reaching the Houthis.

“We have decided to dock our ship in Djibouti so the United Nations inspection protocol can take place,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency. (Read more at Yahoo/Reuters.)

But is that really a positive? Is what Iran calls the ship Iran Shaheb, dubbed the “Rescue,” really as advertised by Iran?

The Iranians still get to bring relief, but it is more likely than not, that only the Houthis will benefit once the U.N. allows them to go to Yemen. Add another one to the Obama loss column; the Iranians are getting their way despite recent efforts to thwart them.

Rejuvenated Royals – The Saudis push back against the Obama foreign policy.

By  HUSSAIN ABDUL-HUSSAIN for the Weekly Standard

The Obama administration put a happy face on its Camp David summit last week, even as four of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s six leaders turned down Obama’s invitation to attend. The most significant absence, of course, was that of Saudi Arabia’s king, Salman. In his place, Riyadh sent Salman’s 55-year-old nephew, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and Salman’s 28-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, deputy crown prince and defense minister.

Composite image showing King Salman Bin Abdulaziz (C), Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif (R) and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Composite image showing King Salman Bin Abdulaziz (C), Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif (R) and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Both men are said to be responsible for the aggressive Saudi policies in confronting Iran, especially in Yemen, where Mohammed bin Salman is leading the campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis. In other words, while snubbing Obama, King Salman also delivered a strong message through the two men who are in line to lead Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future. They’re not happy with what they correctly perceive as the White House’s pro-Iranian tilt in the Middle East—and they’re in a position to challenge it.

In Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, referred to in Western policymaking circles as MBN, the White House is likely to find an especially able statesman. MBN served as the deputy minister of the interior under his father and then won the top post himself, where he has distinguished himself as a tough-minded security official who proved instrumental in dismantling terrorist networks and providing U.S. officials with valuable insight into their workings. He has survived at least four assassination attempts.

But it is MBN’s studious navigation of court politics that landed him in the number two spot. Indeed, it’s something of a paradox that a man so skillful in handling intra-Saudi rivalries is now behind a foreign policy that, in contrast to Riyadh’s all-too-frequent navel-gazing, is remarkably activist. MBN owes his power to ambition, skill, and the fact that he has no sons to move into the line of succession, which has made him a useful ally in court maneuvering.

Saudi royal politics are typically inscrutable, since the Saudis do not make a habit of publicizing divisions within their ranks, and their disagreements are resolved in private. But here is the short version of what has happened in 2015: Since taking over earlier this year after the death of his predecessor, King Salman has engineered a new line of succession. The upshot is that we are witnessing something novel in Riyadh.

For the last several decades, the succession question has dominated Saudi politics—which is hardly a surprise when 70-something monarchs name 70-something crown princes, and illness and sudden death become central concerns in policymaking circles.

That instability often incapacitated Saudi decisionmakers and at times left an otherwise preoccupied Riyadh vulnerable to regional issues. But with a 55-year-old crown prince and a 28-year-old deputy crown prince, the royal palace seems set to enjoy a level of stability it hasn’t seen since the death of Ibn Saud, the regime’s founder, in 1953.

Saudi Arabian Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman attends a briefing Wang Bo/Xinhua/ZUMA Wire
Saudi Arabian Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman attends a briefing Wang Bo/Xinhua/ZUMA Wire

This is perhaps one reason why Riyadh seems more determined than ever to roll back Iranian influence in the Middle East. For once, they’re able to focus on external threats rather than who will inhabit the palace. For Riyadh, this fresh blood and surge of confidence couldn’t come at a better time. They’re concerned that the White House is downgrading the 70-year-long alliance with Riyadh in favor of upgrading relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Saudis have given up on the Obama administration. In return for helping the White House combat Sunni terror, Riyadh assumed the White House would keep its word and push back against Iran. However, the Obama administration has done exactly the opposite. It has paved the way for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon within the next 15 years and accommodated Iranian interests around the Middle East, from Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and Yemen.

But to hear the Obama administration tell it, Saudi Arabia’s biggest problem comes not from Iran but inside. It’s unemployment, lack of opportunities, and a faulty education system that ail the Gulf Arabs, Obama has said in several interviews. And that, says the White House and its various media surrogates, is why the Saudis create so many terrorists.

There’s no doubt that Saudi society is riven by a host of problems and that private charities from the Gulf Cooperation Council states have frequently filled the coffers of terrorist outfits. However, why the White House feels comfortable chastising an ally of more than 70 years while turning a blind eye to Iran is unclear. After all, every indicator, from suicide to drug use, birth rate to prostitution, shows that Iranian society is as bad as or much worse than the societies of the Gulf states. Moreover, unlike Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms, Iranian state institutions are actively exporting terrorism.

Perhaps Obama is worried that calling out the Iranians as he has called out the Saudis might push Tehran away from the negotiating table. What he’s done instead is endanger the relationship with one of the pillars of American Middle East policy and sent Riyadh out looking for new friends. It appears that the message Riyadh is sending through MBN is that they’re not going to take it anymore. Maybe they don’t have to.


Hussain Abdul-Hussain is the Washington bureau chief of the Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai.

Yemen Chaos – WH “Model,” Saudis Attack, Iran Condemns

Editor’s Note – As the White continues to insist that Yemen is a “model for successful counterterrorism“, the President of Yemen flees the country by boat.

Like many of the aspects of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy and “overseas contingency” operations, failure is obvious but they just will not admit failure and continue to cover for a failed President. One has to suspend all disbelief to swallow their statements.

Saudi jets roar over Yemen
Saudi jets roar over Yemen

Meanwhile, the Saudis have amassed military assets numbering over 150,000 on their border with Yemen and are now attacking the Houthis; the Iranians puppets and Iran is none-to-pleased. USA Today is reporting:

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said airstrikes in Yemen are a “dangerous step” Thursday, after Saudi Arabia launched the strikes against Shiite rebel positions in the crisis-hit country.

The Saudi offensive begun Wednesday and supported by nine regional allies came as the country pledged to protect its neighbor from Iran-backed Shiite rebels.

In a statement, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the country “condemns the airstrikes against Yemen this morning that left some innocent Yemenis wounded and dead and considers this action a dangerous step” the Associated Press reported. “This invasion will bear no result but expansion of terrorism and extremism throughout the whole region.”

Yemeni loyalists are fighting back but the Houthis are advancing despite air strikes. Yemen is in a state of total anarchy with many opposing forces, and the US has exited.

Despite these facts, the White persists through Josh Earnest, the White House Spokesperson:

QUESTION: Josh, just quickly first on Yemen. I know you’re asked this every time something terrible happens in Yemen. But — but now that we have, you know, essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe that Yemen is the model for counterterrorism strategy?

EARNEST: Jon, the White House does continue to believe that a successful counterterrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country. And the United States can serve both to diplomatically offer up some political support to central governments. We can offer very tangible support to local security forces in the form of training and equipping. (Read much more at ABC News)

Then, over at the State Department, Spokesperson Jen Psaki was in typical ‘protect the White House” mode about Yemen as well and she responded to news of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi:

“We were in touch with him earlier today,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a briefing in Washington. “He is no longer at his residence. I’m not in position to confirm any additional details from here about his location.”

State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki and Josh Earnest respond separately to questions on Yemen and the White House's stubborn stance of "success."
State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki and Josh Earnest respond separately to questions on Yemen and the White House’s stubborn stance of “success.”

See a stunning summary video of the chaos here. Please read on and do not let your ‘lying eyes’ deceive you:

Gulf states launch air strikes in Yemen

By Simeon Kerr in Dubai and Reuters in Washington – Financial Times

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies have launched a military operation involving air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters tightening their grip on Aden, where the country’s president had taken refuge, the Saudi envoy to Washington said on Wednesday.

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador, said a 10-country coalition had joined the military campaign “to protect and defend the legitimate government” of President Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

News of the strikes triggered a surge in the price of crude oil. West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, was up 5.3 per cent at $51.80 in early London trade, while Brent crude, rose 4.5 per cent to $59.02.YemenMap3.26.15AmerEnterprise

Mr Jubeir said Saudi Arabia had consulted the US but that Washington was not participating. The White House confirmed that President Barack Obama had authorised US logistical and intelligence support.

Gulf Arab states had been considering military intervention against Iran-backed Houthi rebels advancing on Aden, Yemen’s southern port city, in what threatens to turn a rumbling Sunni-Shia cold war into a more direct conflict.

In a dramatic day of events — that saw reports of President Hadi fleeing the city by sea denied by his advisers, after Houthi forces stormed an air base near Aden — Yemen’s foreign minister told Sky News Arabia on Wednesday that Sunni Gulf states had accepted his government’s request for military intervention to stem the advance of Houthi militia.

The move sets the scene for a confrontation between Sunni-majority Arab countries and Shia Iran, which they accuse of interfering in the Arab world by supporting proxy groups such as the Houthi, who are followers of the Zaydi Shia sect.

Oil prices jumped in Asian trading on Thursday, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, at one point up 5.9 per cent to $59.71.

On Wednesday night, leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar who met in Riyadh last weekend to discuss the Yemeni crisis, were weighing up air strikes against Houthi positions in their northern strongholds in defence of Mr Hadi in the southern port city, said one person aware of the discussions.

Reports have since emerged that Saudi Arabia has moved heavy weaponry towards its southern border with Yemen, which adjoins the Houthis’ northern power base.

The Houthi rebels, who are working in partnership with the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized the al-Anad air base on Wednesday, 60km north of Aden, the last staging post on the road to the country’s second-largest city — raising the stakes in the impoverished nation’s slide into war.

A spokesman for Mr Hadi, who escaped from the Houthi-controlled capital of Sana’a in February, denied rumours that the president had fled Aden by sea.

Clashes broke out around Aden’s airport later on Wednesday, according to local media. War planes fired at the compound where Mr Hadi has been forming a government in exile.

Analysts say that Saudi Arabia is adopting a defensive position on the Saudi-Yemeni border, which adjoins the Houthis’ territorial heartland, or perhaps seeking to draw the militia’s forces into a battle on a second front in the northern highlands.

Sunni Arab states may also be planning a joint force to weigh in behind Mr Hadi, whom they — along with the UN — have backed as the legitimate president.

“It is entirely possible that air strikes or special operation forces may be used on specific missions,” said Theodore Karasik, a Dubai-based security analyst. “There is a plan for a joint Arab force, but it is not ready yet for operations.”

Screen capture of video showing aftermath of Saudi strikes - NBC News
Screen capture of video showing aftermath of Saudi strikes – NBC News

On Saturday, US military personnel evacuated al-Anad base, which had been used to co-ordinate drone strikes against al-Qaeda Islamist militants.

The Houthis, who have controlled the capital since September, say their advance against Aden aims to stem the growing influence of al-Qaeda, which they claim has joined Mr Hadi’s coalition of army loyalists and southern tribes.

Analysts fear that al-Qaeda fighters, a potent force in central parts of Yemen, could become the shock troops of a Sunni defence — deepening the polarised sectarian conflict.

The Houthi advance south gathered pace after last week’s deadly suicide bombings at two mosques in Sana’a that caused hundreds of casualties among Zaydi Shia worshippers.

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Analysts said the Houthis’ rapid charge was intended to lock in territorial gains before potential foreign intervention or peace talks.

Saudi officials have said they will take the “necessary measures” if peace efforts — led by Jamal Benomar, UN envoy, in Sana’a — fail.

Qatar has sought to get key Yemeni power brokers to meet in Doha to forge a peace agreement but, so far, military action has trumped diplomacy.

al Qaeda frees six of its own, Houthis, Yemen – Iran big winner

Editor’s Note – With the closing of the United State’s embassy in Yemen this week, and the subsequent report that while leaving the Marines defending the staff and installation had to disarm prior to exiting the country, conflicting reports abound.

What it does show though, with alarming clarity, the Obama administration has yet another stark failure to its credit. But what is worse is the major gap in our ability to confront Al Qaeda, all while the Iranian puppets, the Houthis, gain yet another Middle East capitol comes under the Iranian orbit.FoxYemenMarines

But now the Pentagon is challenging that assessment:

The U.S. military has retained its ability to conduct counterterrorism operations inside Yemen, a Pentagon spokesman told Breitbart News.

“We still retain the [counterterrorism] capability [in Yemen],” asserted Marine Maj. Bradlee Avots, the Department of Defense (DoD) spokesperson, told Breitbart News Wednesday evening.

Breitbart News asked Maj. Avots whether the Pentagon was still able to fight Yemen-based terrorists such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) after the takeover of the U.S.-backed government by Iranian-backed Houthi Shiites and the country’s ongoing descent into utter chaos.

Of course the State Department also denied the reports but we are not the only ones officially severing embassy ties to Yemen, as Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Italy have closed their facilities as well.PsakiKellyYemen

In a blistering [interview] on the Megyn Kelly show tonight, State Department spokesmoron Jen Psaki denied any order came from them for Marines to disarm during the American evacuation out of Yemen, but could not say who did. (Read more here.)

But in the process, al Qaeda is boasting that it freed some of its fighters as the article below outlines. This raises many questions and seems to challenge Washington’s assessments.

After a Yemeni army installation was captured by Sunni Al Qaeda, and the Shiite Houthis took our embassy, it is hard to imagine how our counter-terrorism efforts are not severely in jeopardy.

It also clearly shows that the Obama administration will ‘say or do anything, or not do things’ all in fear that an agreement will not be reached with Iran in the nuclear talks.

Al Qaeda freed 6 inmates in Yemen prison attack, officials say

By Jason Hanna and Hakim Almasmari, CNN

(CNN)Al Qaeda militants freed six of their fighters from a southern Yemeni prison during an attack on the facility Friday, just one day after the group took over a military camp in the same province, security officials said.

AQAP raises black flag over military camp it captured in Yemen on Thursday.
AQAP raises black flag over military camp it captured in Yemen on Thursday.

These attacks by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has long clashed with Yemen‘s military, happened in the Arab nation’s Shabwa province, more than 100 miles to the east of the capital, which has been in political strife for weeks after minority Houthi rebels took over.

Also Friday, at least three more nations announced they were temporarily closing their embassies in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa because of deteriorating security conditions, including neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Three of the six militants freed in Friday’s prison attack in Shabwa had been sentenced to death, provincial security officials said.

Information about casualties, and details about how the attack transpired, weren’t immediately available.

A day earlier, AQAP took over a military camp at the Sabwa town of Baihan, about 110 miles east of Sanaa, after two hours of clashes with government troops, three local security officials said.

This gave AQAP control of all of the camp’s weaponry, the officials said.

Before the clashes ended, the camp’s commander called on tribal fighters to intervene. When those fighters arrived, a ceasefire was called so that the tribal fighters could help evacuate Yemeni troops — including dozens of injured — from the camp, a tribal leader said.

Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy join others in closing embassies in Yemen

Saudi Arabia, Germany and Italy said Friday they were suspending their embassy operations in Sanaa — joining the United States and other nations that made similar moves earlier in the week.

Saudi Arabia evacuated its staff because of deteriorating security conditions following a recent takeover of the Yemeni capital by Houthi rebels, the Saudi Foreign Ministry and two Yemeni Foreign Ministry officials said.

One of the Yemeni officials said the Saudi evacuations happened Thursday.Untitled

German Embassy officials left Yemen on Friday morning, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter. Italy’s decision follows “recent events in the country and the progressively deteriorating security conditions,” a post by Italy’s Foreign Ministry reads.

The United States, along with Britain and France, said this week that they moved staffers out of their embassies because of instability in Yemen, after Houthi rebels seized control of key government facilities, dissolved parliament and placed President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi under house arrest last month.

The Houthis — Shiite Muslims who have long felt marginalized in the majority Sunni Muslim country — are now the preeminent power in Sanaa. But different groups there have resisted the Houthis’ attempted takeover of national government institutions, particularly in the south, where there’s a long-running secessionist movement.

AQAP, a Sunni Muslim terror group, vowed to attack Houthi loyalists nationwide last year.

The United States has had a long relationship with Yemen’s leaders, working with them to target AQAP militants.

It’s not clear what the Houthis’ takeover of Sanaa means for U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, but the drone program there still appears to be active. A U,S. drone strike killed senior AQAP cleric Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari and three other people in Shabwa province on January 31.