In the following is our translation of an Arabic-language article from Al Jazeera with commentary and notes [in brackets] by Vince Dhimos. The international relations in the Middle East are dauntingly complex, and this is one reason most Westerners are hard put to unravel events and decipher the reasons for them. Another reason is that US commentaries almost never provide enough of the details needed to make sense of them. It is my hope that this translation and my notes and commentary will take you a step closer to understanding this part of the world and the seemingly mysterious approach that the US has taken to the countries in question. Many Europeans, for example, wonder why US policy is so fiercely anti-Iran, but Americans wonder less because many have fallen victim to the racist and warlike ideology of “Christian” Zionism and their thinking is muddled by a widely accepted misreading of the scriptures that is lightyears removed from Christ’s teachings on the subject. I explained this here.
Does the American interest eliminate any Gulf rapprochement with Iran?
10- 24, 2019
Iranian media warned that America adopts a policy of intimidation from [warning about...] Tehran, as an approach to blackmailing some Gulf countries, explaining that the goal of the surprise visit of the US Secretary of Defense to Riyadh and Israel's participation in the Bahrain conference is to eliminate any possible Iranian Gulf rapprochement.
[Now why would the US and Israel not want a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi? Remember that the Western narrative is that the reason for the wars in the ME is the inability of the Arabs to get along with each other and with Israel (attributed to “anti-Semitism”). So if you think this is so, wouldn’t you be pleased if there could be a rapprochement between the two main sides of the conflict? Well, you would be pleased if peace were your goal. But we are talking about the US and Israel (recall Yinon Plan, described here)! Not only do they make no efforts toward peace but in fact they are deathly afraid that Iran (Shiite) and Saudi (Sunni Wahhabist/Salafist) might make amends. Israel’s biggest fear is Middle East unification. They would lose their justification and ability to bomb Syria and Palestine and to hold onto Arab land. There is only one thing standing in the way of peace in the Middle East and that is the US, which acts as a lapdog of israel]
Ten days after the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran [Khan] to Tehran, where he took a special initiative to defuse the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the US administration rushed last Monday to send its new defense secretary, Mark Esper, to Riyadh, to hold meetings with the Saudis amidst increased tension between Washington and Tehran.
[If Sunni Pakistan is pressuring Saudi to relieve tensions with Iran, how long will Saudi continue to toe the US line?]
[Now if the US went so far as to murder Gen. Soleimani when he was embarking on a mission to promote a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi – ie, a peace mission (see my commentary TRUMP’S ASSASSINATION AVERTED PEACE JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME), we might suppose that Pakistani PM Imran Khan could be the next target for a propaganda hit or a real military attack. Is Imran’s inclination to promote peace between Iran and Saudi perhaps part of the reason why the US takes India’s side in the war with Pakistan? Is India the US proxy here and is this why the US is being so lenient with India regarding its purchase of Russian arms? (Aside from the fact that it has also recently purchased some US arms?)].
Saudi Arabia has acted on its discussions with the American envoy, by dismissing former Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf and appointing Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah Al Saud – who is one of the officials most responsible for making anti-Iran statements – as his successor.
[This gives us a glimpse into how the US interferes with the peace process in the Gulf. Under pressure from the US (acting as an Israeli agent), the Saudis fire a more reasonable foreign minister and appoint an Iran-hating hawk. This suggests that Saudi really fears the US but without US pressure, might be open to a rapprochement with Iran. But nota bene: Saudi’s recent assault on US oil may signal a quiet rebellion against US bullying in the area of foreign policy, giving Saudi more leeway to act independently of Washington.]
After the Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco's facilities, the Saudi media quoted the new Saudi foreign minister as saying that all options were on the table to respond to Tehran.
Iranian observers believe that the Saudis started assuming a hostile posture toward the Islamic Republic following the visit of the American secretary [Pompei] to Riyadh, which came after an Iranian welcome for any initiative that would reduce tension in the region. [This contradicts Israeli-US narrative that Iran refuses to negotiate with Saudi]
The former Iranian Chargé d'Affairs to Saudi Arabia Ahmad Dastmaljian believes that America is a stumbling block in the way of improving relations between Tehran and Riyadh, despite Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif’s announcement that he is ready to go to the Two Holy Mosques [a title adopted by certain Saudi kings. It implies that the Saudi king is the keeper of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina]. [This too gives the lie to the narrative that Iran is the one that refuses to reconcile with Saudi].
Destemaljian criticized the policy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the region, toward Iran in particular, explaining that the administration of US President Donald Trump seeks to sell weapons [and please Israel] by spreading division between the countries of the region, and that Washington sees its interest in destabilizing our region in order to fish in troubled waters. [Actually, though, US policy is forged around Israeli demands, as I showed here]
In this context, Heshmatullah Bishah, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Iranian Parliament, pointed out that America is the main factor in straining relations between Tehran and Riyadh, and the interest of the Israeli entity in fabricating the dispute between them cannot be ignored.
[but now that Saudi has rebelled against the US with its unbridled oil production, will it continue to be manipulated in its Iran policy?]
The Iranian parliamentarian stated that there is a current led by the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, who is influenced by the Zionist-American policies to keep the Iranian-Saudi relations tense. [The Iranians’ use of the word “Zionist” in their political commentary is invariably labelled in the West as “anti-Semitic” but here’s is the problem with that cheap shot: There are many Jewish activists who oppose Zionism, including pro-Palestine activist Gideon Levy, editor-in-chief of Israeli news outlet Haaretz, and Ilan Pappé, author of books exposing the misdeeds and crimes of Jewish extremists during the Nakba. These men are Jews and therefore, by definition, cannot be described as “anti-Semitic.” In fact, Levy often writes empathetically about the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust and is a fierce opponent of anti-Semitism. Thus the politically motivated attempt to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is easily dismissed as pure malicious propaganda.]
[Jubeir is indoctrinated in American policy! He obtained a B.A. summa cum laude in political science and economics from the University of North Texas in 1982, and an M.A. in international relations from Georgetown University in 1984.]
In his last public statement – in an interview with the French newspaper Liberation – Al-Jubeir expressed his belief that détente will not work with Iran, and that the only way to push Tehran to sit at the negotiating table is to exert maximum pressure on it. [He is regurgitating the US Establishment line. However, the rapprochement of Qatar and UAE to Iran give the lie to this absurd supposiiton. Further, Anyone familiar with the Iranian MO knows that the leaders and many of the people – particularly after the senseless murder of war hero Soleimani – will not be cowed by “maximum pressure” and would rather die than surrender to a foreign power that sanctions them to the point of starvation and has threatened them with genocide, so the logical end of this US-Israeli narrative wouls be war. And that is what Israel wants, as we showed here, though the US has hesitated to wage war on Iran for reasons of self-preservation].
Regarding the international conference on maritime security recently hosted by Bahrain, Iranian political researcher Ali Bikdali indicated that the conference, whose agenda focused on confronting Iran, was held to dispel the concerns of the United States and Israel about the possibility of rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran.
[Clearly the US and Israel are scared to death of conciliation between Gulf Arabs and Iran! Just like a lawyer afraid that his client in a divorce case may reconcile with his wife and stop paying his fee. This is also a clear indication that the petrodollar agreement between Nixon and Saudi was likely all about manipulating Saudi to support US-Israel-waged war in the ME. The narrative that the Saudi role was support for the dollar is questionable in this light.
He considered that the participation of the Israeli delegation in the Manama conference was aimed at normalization following the news that the American President's son-in-law Jared Kushner would mediate to open communication channels between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, stressing that the main goal of the Manama conference was to eliminate any possible Saudi-Iranian rapprochement.
[Which would lead to the thing that Israel-US dreaded most: peace! In other words, without US-Israel interference, there might long have been peace between the Shiite world – notably Iran – and the Gulf States. Yet the pro-US-Israel narrative is always that Middle Easterners simply can’t get along with each other, suggesting this is perhaps a genetic flaw – a racist position – rather than that the US and Israel are working 24/7 to prevent peace]
Bahman: Regional security cannot be established without Iran's participation (Al-Jazeera)
UAE and Iran
Contrarty to Riyadh’s approach to Tehran, former Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi sees the recent Emirati trend as insistence on rapprochement with Tehran because of what he called "the impasse in Abu Dhabi because of its failure in the wars in Yemen and Libya," as well as the economic crisis that it suffered as a result of those wars.
In his statement to Al-Jazeera Net, he explained that the dispute that occurred in the UAE's cooperation with Saudi Arabia in Yemen speeded up the process of Emirati normalization with Iran, explaining that the Abu Dhabi dispute with Tehran exacerbated the deterioration of tourism, real estate trade and the banking sector in the Emirate of Dubai, which caused resentment against its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktum.
He pointed out that the Iranian threat to the UAE shortly after the Revolutionary Guards shot down the American Global Hawk plane that took off from near Abu Dhabi airport, "posed a serious risk to Emirati security," explaining that the Iranians will not tolerate those who want to disturb their national security, and this is something the UAE side knows well.
Further, a number of Iranian analysts say that the UAE has taken a much softer approach to Tehran after oil tankers were attacked off its coast earlier this year, according to Shuaib Bahman, head of the "Rahbard Johann Jahan Contemporary Jahan" Foundation for Strategic Studies.
Bahman added in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net that the attack on Saudi Aramco's facilities and oil tankers in the Gulf waters showed that security is not established in the region without Iran's participation, and that the UAE is well aware that it will be affected by any war that might be launched against Iran, especially if the UAE territory includes interests of the aggressor. [Bahman is no doubt referring to the roughly 5,000 US troops stationed in the UAE, including many at the Al Dhafra airbase at Abu Dabi].
He concluded by saying that the Emirati side realized soon after the recent events in the Gulf waters that America will not confront Iran for the sake of its allies, especially after Washington avoided the confrontation with Iran shortly after its plane was shot down as it entered Iranian airspace. [The fact that the US has not directly confronted Iran is a sign that the US fears a military confrontation with that country, which it realizes might also draw in Russia.]
WAR AND CRISIS NEWS
Turkey’s Syrian militants suffer heavy losses around Libya in 72 hours
Note by Vince Dhimos: These Syrian militants, being Turkish-backed, are probably the militants called moderates by the US but called terrorists by Russia. Although the Government of National Accord (GNA) is recognized by the UN and the US, it has tolerated terrorists. The LNA, Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, opposes this government, which has been hand-picked by the same Western leaders who illegally invaded Libya and murdered Ghadaffi.
By News Desk -2020-03-260
Members of the so-called Free Syrian Army near the town of Bizaah, northeast of the city of al-Bab, some 30 kilometres from the Syrian city of Aleppo, on February 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:45 P.M.) – The Turkish-backed Syrian militants have suffered a large number of casualties over the last 72 hours in Libya, as their forces continue to fight alongside the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
According to the latest field report from the northwestern front of Libya, the GNA and their Syrian militant allies have suffered dozens of losses in a span of three days.
The report said the Libyan National Army (LNA) has managed to advance within a few kilometers of the last GNA-held port along the Tunisian border after capturing several sites from the latter.
In addition to their advance near the Tunisian border, the LNA forces have also managed to capture several areas around the capital city, Tripoli, after launching a counter-offensive against the GNA troops.
Earlier this week, the United Nations called for a nationwide ceasefire while the country deals with a potential coronavirus outbreak; however, the hostilities have yet to stop, despite both sides agreeing to an open-ended ceasefire.
Kidnapping and Killing by "moderate" rebels in Libya
The Wefaq militia is the militia backed by the UN-recognized Government of National Accord. Wefaq means accord in Arabic. Though supported by the US-led West, this militia behaves like a terrorist organization and is opposed by the National Libyan Army led by Khalifa Haftar. Russia is sympathetic to Haftar but does not directly fight on his behalf.
Note by Vince Dhimos: The Doha [Qatar]-Ankara [Erdoğan’s Turkey]-backed Al-Wefaq militia continues to commit humanitarian crimes against civilians, as the Libyan National Commission for Human Rights announced an escalation of killings and arrests, arbitrary detention, kidnapping, and enforced disappearance, in Sirte, Qarat Bulli, Tarhuna, and Tripoli.
Libyan Army scores big advance around Tripoli as Turkish-backed forces suffer tremendous losses
By News Desk -2020-03-27
Libyan forces ride a military vehicle as they prepare for next advance against Islamic State holdouts in Sirte, Libya August 29, 2016. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 A.M.) – The Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, announced this morning that their forces managed to capture several sites across northern Libya, including several towns near the capital city, Tripoli.
According to a statement from the LNA’s spokesperson, Major General Ahmad Al-Mismari, their forces captured several areas in northwestern Libya, including the cities and towns of Jemayel, Riqdalin, and Zalzin.
“We announce to you that the valiant Libyan National Army forces have been able, through the grace of God, to clear the areas of Al-Asa, Al-Jameel, Riqdalin and Zalatan from the control of the Al-Wefaq militia and its Syrian mercenaries who fled before the advancement of our valiant forces,” Mismari said.
“These areas enjoy freedom, security and safety today after expelling terrorist and criminal militias from them,” noting that “field progress came after the failure of the attack by the so-called Al-Wefaq militia and mercenaries of foreign terrorists on the Uqba bin Nafi Airbase in the Al-Wattiyah area in the west of the country.”
The losses suffered by the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord forces have been tremendous, as dozens of the latter’s fighters and their Syrian allies have been killed in battle.
KURDISH MILITIAS START NEW DANGEROUS GAME IN NORTHERN SYRIA
An armed group named the Islamic Revenge Movement (IRM), hostile towards both Turkish forces and the Syrian Army announced its existence in northern Syria. In a video message released on March 20, the IRM claimed that in 2019 its members conducted 118 attacks killing 13 Turkish officers, 187 Turkish-backed militants and 24 pro-government fighters. The IRM also vowed to continue its fight against the “tyrant state” of Turkey and the “Assad regime” in 2020. The claims of the IRM are very questionable, as the group provided no evidence with which to confirm them.
Furthermore, pro-Kurdish sources were first to release the IRM video arguing that the group consisted of former al-Qaeda members. They also released the name of the supposed group leader: “Abu Osama al-Shami.” Syrian opposition and pro-al-Qaeda sources called the group fake. According to them, the video is just a coverup for actions by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Both groups prefer to distance themselves from acts of direct aggression against the Syrian military and the Turkish Army in northern Syria. In the public sphere, the YPG plays a victim oppressed by the bloody Assad regime and Erdogan the Invader. In reality, it already has a special brand created to distance the group from attacks on Turkish troops and proxies in Afrin – the Afrin Liberation Forces. The Turkish-rooted PKK pretends that it has no bases and fighters in the region despite the fact that a large part of YPG commanders and members is linked with the PKK.
Iran reportedly increased its military presence in southern Damascus. According to pro-opposition sources, the Shiite-majority area of Set Zaynab was turned into a stronghold of pro-Iranian forces. Syrian government sources deny these reports.
On the evening of March 26, Israel shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of Hezbollah, which allegedly violated “Israeli airspace”. The photo released by the Israeli military allows to identify the UAV as a modified variant of the commercially-available Skywalker X8. Armed groups across the entire Middle East modify such drones for combat purposes installing on them submunitions as well as use such UAVs for reconnaissance.
In Iraq, the United States withdrew its forces from the al-Qayyarah Air Base and handed it over to the Iraqi military. A spokesman for the US-led coalition, Col. Myles B. Caggins III, said hundreds of coalition troops will “temporarily” evacuate the base as a protective measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. About 800 troops of the U.S.-led coalition were deployed at the airbase, which hosted approximately $1,7 million dollars worth of coalition equipment. The al-Qayyarah Air Base became the 2nd important military facility abandoned by US forces in March. The withdrawal of US troops from the previous one – al-Qaim – took place last week. These developments are being carried out under the pretext of the COVID-19 outbreak and the defeat of ISIS, but local sources link them with the increasing number of attacks on US forces across the country that the Pentagon cannot contain successfully without a large-scale military escalation.
Russia demands Turkey not hide jihadists in Idlib by renaming them
BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:40 P.M.) – Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on Friday that Russia hopes that Turkey will continue working to separate the militants from the opposition in Idlib, and stressed that renaming the groups is unacceptable.
“We hope that the Turkish partners will continue their efforts to separate the moderates from the extremists, and take measures to neutralize them. It must be emphasized that renaming the groups, so to speak, changing the slogan does not mean a change in substance, because they are terrorist [groups],” she said.
Some groups continue violating the ceasefire regime at a time when disagreements between the factions have turned violent.
The Center for Reconciliation between the Warring Parties in Syria announced the operation of the second joint Russian-Turkish patrol on Monday along the M-4 Highway between Aleppo and Latakia in the Idlib region.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that Russia and Turkey will establish a safe corridor of 6 km to the north and south of the M-4 Highway in Syria, pointing out that an agreement has been reached to stop all hostilities along the seam starting on March 5th.
Turkish-backed fighters kill each other in northern Aleppo
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:45 P.M.) – The Turkish-backed militants in northern Aleppo have once again clashed with one another, resulting in heavy losses for all parties involved.
According to opposition activists in northern Aleppo, the Turkish-backed 51st Brigade and Al-Shamiyah Front faction clashed in the city of Afrin on Friday, killing and wounding six fighters in the process.
The clashes would intensify later in the day, as reports of medium weapons used began to surface after RPGs, machine gun fire, and artillery shells were heard around the city of Afrin.
The reason for the clashes was unknown; however, the Al-Shamiyah Front has been known to clash with other militant factions in Afrin in the past.
In particular, the Al-Shamiyah Front has been accused of mass looting in Afrin, often resulting in clashes with rival factions over stolen items.
Infighting was also reported in the Al-Raqqa Governorate on Friday morning after Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah and another militant faction clashed near the city of Tal Abyad.
US military ordered to plan for major escalation with Iran in Iraq: report
By News Desk 2020-03-28
BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:45 A.M.) – The Pentagon has ordered the U.S. military to remain on high alert for a major escalation in Iraq, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Friday.
According to the NYT article, the Pentagon ordered U.S. military commanders to plan for an escalation and prepare for campaign to destroy the “Iranian-backed militia group that has threatened more attacks against American troops.”
However, while some Pentagon officials are bracing for a confrontation, others are not so sure that the U.S. should commit to such a campaign at this time.
“But the United States’ top commander in Iraq has warned that such a campaign could be bloody and counterproductive and risks war with Iran,” the NYT reported. ” In a blunt memo last week, the commander, Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, wrote that a new military campaign would also require thousands more American troops be sent to Iraq and divert resources from what has been the primary American military mission there: training Iraqi troops to combat the Islamic State.”
The primary culprits behind this potential military escalation are top officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser.
Both O’Brien and Pompeo have sought to intensify the U.S.’ campaign against the Iranian government, despite the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands of people worldwide, including nearly 3,000 people in Iran.
While U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has been wary of such a campaign, it appears he has approved this new campaign in Iraq.
“Still, American officials said Mr. Esper authorized planning for a new campaign inside Iraq — even as the military reduces its counterterrorism presence there — to provide options for Mr. Trump in the event that Iranian-backed militia groups escalate their own attacks against American troops,” two U.S. officials told the NYT.
It is not clear what this new campaign will entail; however, under the Trump administration, the U.S. has been far more aggressive in their approach to Iran.