Category - Arabia

U.S. Official: Saudis Have Used Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Deployment of the weapons comes as the U.S. has taken a more hands-off approach to conflicts in the region.

US News & World Report, By Paul D. Shinkman, August 19

The U.S. knows the Saudi government has employed cluster bombs in its ongoing war against Shiite Muslim rebels in neighboring Yemen, but has done little if anything to stop the use of the indiscriminate and deadly weapons during what has become a human rights catastrophe in one of the Arab world’s poorest countries.

With watchdog groups warning of war crimes and attacks striking civilians in Yemen, the Pentagon declined to comment publicly on whether it has discussed cluster bombs with Saudi Arabia or encouraged its military to cease using them, deferring all such questions to the State Department. But a Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, tells U.S. News “the U.S. is aware that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in Yemen.”

Deferrals by the Pentagon on the topic are nothing new, though the use of the weapons by the Saudis – some of which were reportedly supplied by the U.S. – appears to be only a recent tactic. Former spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters in May the Defense Department was looking into claims the Saudis were using cluster munitions and called on all sides to “comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to take all feasible measures to minimize harm to civilians.” Warren’s successor, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, was asked about similar reports in July and did not at that time have any new information.

Multiple groups are fighting in Yemen, but the heart of the conflict lies between forces loyal to U.S.- and Saudi-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled from Yemen to Saudi Arabia earlier this year. They’re fighting against Shiite Houthi rebels aligned with, if not directly backed by, chief Saudi rival Iran. Deposed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has also re-emerged and allied himself with the Houthis.

Via Anti-War: US Confirms Saudis Using Cluster Bombs in Yemen

The CIA Just Released Declassified Documents Related to the 9/11 Attacks

VICE News, June 12

The CIA has released declassified versions of five internal documents dealing with the 9/11 terror attacks, according to a press release sent to reporters on Friday afternoon. The documents are described as being “related to the Agency’s performance in the lead-up to the attacks.”

The release comes just before the weekend, a time when many organizations tend to “dump” news in an attempt to minimize coverage. VICE News is currently reviewing the documents in detail. The CIA describes them as including “a redacted version of the 2005 CIA Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report on Central Intelligence Agency Accountability Regarding Findings and Conclusions of the Report of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

The executive summary of the OIG report was released in 2007, and the CIA says it released the full report in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. The 500-page document reportedly underwent “an extensive review… in order to release information that no longer needed to be protected in the interests of national security.”

[…]

PDF versions of the documents can be found at the CIA’s online reading room.


CIA Report Says No Evidence Saudi Arabia ‘Willingly Supported’ al Qaeda Leading up to 9/11

Vice News, By Jason Leopold & Samuel Oakford, June 12

A newly declassified CIA watchdog report that probed the agency’s intelligence failures leading up to the 9/11 attacks reveals that investigators on the CIA’s 9/11 review team “encountered no evidence” that the government of Saudi Arabia “knowingly and willingly supported” al Qaeda terrorists.

Moreover, the June 2005 CIA Inspector General report’s, released Friday, said the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 “‘had made no final determinations as to the reliability or sufficiency’ regarding Saudi issues raised by its inquiry.” (A separate report released in 2004 by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly known as the 9/11 Commission, found no evidence that the government of Saudi Arabia or Saudi officials individually provided funding to al-Qaeda.)

The conclusions the CIA inspector general reached in the unredacted portion of the report, and the reference to the Joint Inquiry’s own finding, appears to contrast with longstanding claims of Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Suspicions about Saudi Arabia’s role have centered on a 28-page section of the Joint Inquiry, which was ordered classified by President George W. Bush prior to its release in 2002. For years, victims’ families, members of Congress, and former Senator Bob Graham, the co-chair of the inquiry, have called for the release of the pages, which are said to refer to FBI investigations into the attacks. Those investigations, according to individuals who have seen the pages, highlight elements of the financing that went into the orchestration of the attacks.

Amid the ruins of Syria, is Bashar al-Assad now finally facing the end?

As Isis surges ahead and the Syrian regime teeters on the brink of collapse, our Middle East correspondent, winner of the 2015 Orwell prize for journalism, reports on the deadly struggle for dominance in the region.

The Guardian, By Martin Chulov, May 23

One evening at the end of March, a Syrian rebel leader returned from a meeting across the border in Turkey and called an urgent gathering of his commanders. The five men turned up at their boss’s house in Idlib province expecting to receive the same pleas for patience that they had always heard and more grim news about cash and weapons being hard to find. This time, though, they were in for a shock.

“He arrived looking eager,” said one of the commanders. “That caught our attention straight away. But when he started to speak, we were all stunned.”

The leader, who asked that his unit not be identified, said he told his men that the grinding war of attrition they had fought against the Syrian government since early 2012 was about to turn in their favour.

“And the reason for that was that I could now get nearly all the weapons I wanted,” he told the Observer. “For the first time they were not holding anything from us – except anti-aircraft missiles. The Turks and their friends wanted this over with.”

U.S. President Barack Obama in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya

Al Arabiya, By Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, May 15

The White House Map Room – Q Mr. President, thank you very much for your time.

THE PRESIDENT: It’s great to be with you. Thank you.

Q You concluded the summit. Was it successful? Were there any sticking points that either you or your government did not achieve?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it was very successful. And the intentions here were to deepen and broaden what is already an excellent relationship between the GCC countries and the United States.

Obviously, we have a whole range of bilateral security arrangements with the various GCC countries. We’ve consulted and worked with them on a range of regional challenges. But I thought the time was ripe for us to be able to come together as a group, to talk face-to-face about a wide range of these issues, and then to put forward very specific plans in terms of how we can address them.

So the joint statement that we issued I think reflected the wide range of topics that were discussed. We discussed the important security assurances that I had delivered publicly in venues like the United Nations and had discussed privately, but I think it was important for them, at a time when there’s so much chaos in the region, for the GCC members to hear that the United States is committed, if they are subject to external attack or the threat of attack, to work with the GCC to deter such attacks and to defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the GCC countries.

We also talked about the joint work that we have to do to counter violent extremism in a whole range of areas, from ending the financing of terrorist organizations to improving intelligence, to what kinds of capabilities — for example, maritime security or cybersecurity — that are needed. And some of these areas are ones where it’s better if we do them together in integrated fashion.

Aspen Cabin, Camp David: Remarks by President Obama in Press Conference after GCC Summit

Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability

New York Times, By David E. Sanger, May 13

Washington — When President Obama began making the case for a deal with Iran that would delay its ability to assemble an atomic weapon, his first argument was that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a “free-for-all” of proliferation in the Arab world. “It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons,” he said in 2012.

Now, as he gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain.

“We can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research,” one of the Arab leaders preparing to meet Mr. Obama said on Monday, declining to be named until he made his case directly to the president. Prince Turki bin Faisal, the 70-year-old former Saudi intelligence chief, has been touring the world with the same message.

Obama hails ‘extraordinary’ Saudi relations

Al Arabiya, May 14

U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the “extraordinary friendship and relationship” Washington has with Riyadh after meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the White House after King Salman pulled out of the visit.

“The United States and Saudi Arabia have an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to [President] Franklin Roosevelt,” Obama said at the start of the meeting.

He added: “We are continuing to build that relationship during a very challenging time.”

King Salman decided abruptly to skip the White House meeting and a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council at the president’s Camp David retreat in Maryland outside Washington on Thursday.

As hundreds of civilians killed, Saudis propose pause in Yemen fighting

CNN, By Hakim Almasmari, Jason Hanna & Josh Levs, May 7

Sana’a, YemenSaudi Arabia proposed a five-day ceasefire Thursday in Yemen so that humanitarian aid can be distributed.

The nation of more than 27 million people, to Saudi Arabia’s south, has been racked by war. A Saudi-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes to assist the ousted, but still internationally recognized, Yemeni government in its fight against Houthi rebels.

“There will be a ceasefire everywhere (in Yemen) or nowhere,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Thursday, sending the message to rebel leaders that violence anywhere in the country could end a ceasefire.

Houthi leadership will meet and discuss the proposal, two senior Houthi officials told CNN.

At a news conference in Riyadh with al-Jubeir, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United Sates welcomes the proposal and that work is being done to determine the details. Kerry said he believes more would be announced Friday, when he and al-Jubeir are expected to be in Paris.

Asia Times Online: Rejoice with the ‘new’ House of Saud
Empire Burlesque: Murder’s Loophole: US Cluster Bombs Rain Mass Death on Yemen
Empire Burlesque: Sham and Shame: Saudi-US Slaughter in Yemen Shows Truth of Terror War
CounterPunch: Saudi Arabia’s Attack on Yemen
CTV: Saudi-led airstrikes batter rebel stronghold in Yemen
Gannett’s Military Times: Saudi intensifies bombing of Yemeni rebel stronghold



Barack Obama: Two Time Nobelist?

You’ll no doubt recall the hue and cry when Barack Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his stand on nuclear non-proliferation and his attempts to engage the Muslim world. Both the right and left in this country had great sport at this — and here I’ll agree — premature awarding of a prize to a man with few signal accomplishments in foreign policy, apart from being “not Bush”.

Six years later and I think it’s time to give him the Prize for real this time. Think about this past year: for a man who started his administration hoping to hit singles and doubles in foreign policy (consumed as he had to be by the domestic economic crisis), he’s kind of knocked a couple out of the park, provoking admiration from aboard and from mainstream Americans, and consternation from the idiot fringe that will sit on perches and poop all day, parroting “Obama bad, BRAWK!” Read More

Exclusive: Saudi troops refused Yemen’s ground invasion; deserted in large numbers

News786, April 28

Here is the real reason why Saudi Arabia halted operation `Decisive Storm’ and failed to launch a ground invasion of Yemen: in a stunning revelation, it has come to light that on 25-26th April, almost 4,000 Saudi forces fled their border bases in anticipation of Riyadh’s order for sending its troops inside Yemen.

“The intel gathered by the western intelligence agencies shows that the Saudi military forces have fled their bases, military centers and bordering checkpoints near Yemen in groups,” diplomatic sources were quoted as saying by Iraq’s Arabic-language Nahrain Net news website.

As per Independent News 786 sources also, European intel said that Saudi forces’ mass AWOL forced Riyadh to declare ceasefire and dissuaded it from launching ground attacks against Yemen.

Other reports also said that over 10,000 soldiers from different Saudi military units have fled army battalions and the National Guard.

Via Sic Semper Fidelis: Saudi Forces Desert Rather Than Invade Yemen

More fighting, air strikes in Yemen, civilian death toll exceeds 550

Reuters, By Mohammed Mukhashaf, April 25

Aden – Fighting between Yemen’s warring factions raged in southern and central parts of the country and air strikes hit Houthi militia forces in Aden on Friday, but there were no fresh moves toward dialogue.

Saudi Arabia says it is winding down its month-old bombing operation against the Iran-allied Houthis and forces loyal to Yemen’s former president. But Riyadh pounded targets with at least 20 airstrikes across Yemen on Thursday and 10 more on Friday.

The civilian death toll from the fighting and airstrikes since the bombing started on March 26 has reached an estimated 551 people, the United Nations said on Friday. Its children’s agency UNICEF said at least 115 children were among the dead.

Washington and other Western countries backing the Saudi-led aerial campaign have grown increasingly worried about the humanitarian crisis on the ground and also about the risk of Sunni Muslim jihadist groups taking advantage of the chaos.

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