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Saudi Intimidation of Qatar – The Syrian Connection

June 17, 2017

Bangladeshi workers living in cramped quarters in Doha, Qatar. Qatar boasts one of the highest standards of living in the world. But these living standards do not extend to foreign workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines who work in conditions that international human rights organizations have described as close to slave labor

 

Anti-Iranian Coalition Trump and the Saudis Tried to Slam Together in Chaos.

The Saudi led blockade (which the Saudis insist is not one) of Qatar is stuttering. The anti-Iranian campaign heralded by Donald Trump in Riyadh in mid-May has failed to get off the ground. Not only that it has backfired. The Saudis underestimated Qatari support in the region from Turkey and Iran. The blockade has, for all practical purposes failed. They also miscalculated U. S. support for the effort. True enough Donald Trump and his little family entourage might have been enthusiastic, but the representatives of the military industrial complex (Mattis) and the energy industry (Tillerson) are far from enthusiastic and have not bought in to the Saudi project of regime change in Qatar. Not at all.

The blockade which Saudi Arabia has spearheaded against Qatar with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt is now more than a week old. Blockades, lest it be forgotten, are a form of warfare. These countries have cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar, kicked out their embassy staff, closed down branches of the Qatari run Al Jazeera media outlet. They have cut transport links, making it difficult for the country to import and export goods. Air space for Qatar Airways, the country’s airlines has been denied air space over Saudi Arabia and landing possibilities in the other states involved, complicating the airlines travel routes. On the opening days of the embargo/boycott – essentially a full court economic siege – the computer systems of many of the country’s institutions experienced cyber attacks.

As an example of how far this anti-Qatari blitzkrieg has gone, the United Arab Emirates made it illegal “for citizens to feel sorry for what is happening in Qatar.”As an example of how far this anti-Qatari blitzkrieg has gone, the United Arab Emirates made it illegal “for citizens to feel sorry for what is happening in Qatar. The UAE Attorney General Hamad Saif- al Shamsi noted:”

“Strict and firm action will be taken against any one who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar or anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form.

Certainly the Saudi hope for a quick knockout blow that would tame the Qataris into submission to Washington and Riyadh’s coordinated diktats has not taken place. Key Washington regional allies (Turkey, Iran, Oman, Kuwait) have opposed it to one degree or another and have been able to stall any military action against Qatar that Saudi might have been contemplating and to place the Saudis on the ideological offensive. A call from the United Arab Emirates to move the U.S. air base from Qatar to the Emirates has been outright rejected by Secretary of Defense James Mattis. A stalled crisis plays in Qatar’s favor that some grace saving formula (for Saudi) can be found to smooth over this spat among U.S. strategic allies.

Read more…

The Trump Circus In Saudi Arabia – 3 – U.S Troops In Saudi Arabia?, The “Arab NATO,” Why Trump To Saudi Arabia Now?

June 11, 2017

What is known as the South Pars field (in blue) whose underground natural gas reserves are divided between Qatar (in amber). Having failed to “produce” for the US in Syria through its terrorist allies – that is to overthrow the Assad government there, the U.S has turned to Saudi Arabia to do the job. The Saudis and Washington want Qatar to “fall in line” and accept “Saudi leadership” – it too is a major funder of terrorism in Syria – but Qatar is resisting. The Saudis, for whom economic crises continue to add up, are also eyeing control of the lucrative Southern Pars natural gas field which help ease its financial burden as well as enabling Riyadh to put more pressure on Iran…target of the new sectarian Sunni campaign which Trump has encouraged.

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Note: In Part Three of this interview – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues on May 23, 2017 – we discuss a number of things –  The little known fact of U.S Troops In Saudi Arabia, The collapse of  “Arab NATO” even before it got off the ground,” Why Trump To Saudi Arabia Now?

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Part One of the Series

Part Two of the Series

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Transcript: Part Three.  KGNU – Boulder – May 23, 2017. Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues

Rob Prince: Ibrahim, one of the things we talked about in our discussions before tonight was the rarely acknowledged presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. I’d like to look at that a little bit because their presence is kind of opaque if you like in terms of how it’s seen here in the United States.

It takes place in a number of ways.

First of all of this weaponry that the Saudis have been buying from the United States – not just this most recent $110 billion deal – but they have been doing so for some time. Just in the Obama years, and even before – the Saudis purchased more than $150 billion worth of arms sales, 42 military contracts – this was during the Obama presidency! Now Trump is trying to outdo him. But the interesting point is, that the Saudi ability to use that weaponry is, to put it politely, rather limited.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Or nonexistent Read more…

The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia – 2: Targeting Iran, The Kissinger Deal, Doctrines – Obama and Trump

June 7, 2017

Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank demonstrated against the Trump visit and the U.S.-Israeli-Saudi effort to force a humiliating settlement agreement down their throats.

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Part One: The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia Milking the  Saudi Cash Camel-1

Part Three: The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia – 3 – US. Troops in Saudi? The “Arab NATO,” Why Trump to Saudi Now?

(Note: In Part Two of this interview – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues on May 23, 2017 – we discuss a number of things – the consequences of the Iran Nuclear Issue, the relevance of the Kissinger Deal of 1973 to current U.S.-Saudi relations and what might be called the Obama and Trump Doctrines for the Middle East.)

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Transcript: Part Two.  KGNU – Boulder – May 23, 2017. Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues

While Obama tried to focus on China and to curtail the expansionist plan that the Chinese have, with Trump – if it’s true to call it “the Trump Doctrine – I don’t know if he is intelligent enough to have a doctrine, but let’s say for the sake of argument it is a doctrine – his making a u-turn and focusing back onto the Middle East, particularly in the manner in which it is being done, this is a dead end.

Jim Nelson: In the last month China has announced a new “Silk Road Agenda.” How does it play into what you have described as this antiquated attack on Iran. It seems that the United States is missing the boat, both on the economic opportunities which opened up with the Iran Nuclear Deal and with the expansion of the Silk Road Agenda as well.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Concerning the nuclear issue, Rob and I have repeatedly talked about this during the past months. The nuclear deal opened Iran up to the international community. Europeans are going to Iran from the left, right and center as are Far Easterners and South Americans. They are going into Iran and making various economic deals.

The options for the United States in being able to isolate Iran again to the point where they were able to in the past since the revolution, unfortunately for Washington, doesn’t exist. The Iranians are well aware of this.

The Chinese approach, particularly the “Version Two of the Silk Road Agenda” that I briefly talked about last week (on another radio program) clearly includes a number of key players into the mix. Iran is one of them. We are no longer speaking uniquely of the Silk Road between East and West, going from China through Mongolia, northern Iran, across Turkey and so on. It now has “its arms,” extensions, tentacles that connect to various places – going into Bangladesh, through Kashmir to Pakistan to Iran into the warmer waters of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean giving the Chinese the opportunity to invest in the infrastructure and bringing all these countries in line with its own foreign policy. That is something that unfortunately Trump, in his rush to sing the Saudi tune, has failed to understand. Read more…

Is Saudi Arabia Preparing To Invade Qatar?

June 7, 2017

South Pars natural gas field, the large red item in the center of the Persian Gulf, between Qatar and Iran

Is this where all the pressure on Qatar is heading?

I don’t know…but it is very much within the realm of possibility and if I was a betting man, as the expression goes, (I am not) I’d put down a nice sum on the “they’ll go in” side of the equation.  Whatever, the Saudis, their Emirate allies, with the full support of the United States are essentially trying to overthrow the government of Qatar, a place where four years ago, they also forced the abdication of one emir and replaced him with another.

Regardless, the current Saudi threats against Qatar only deepens the divide between three U.S. allies (two decrepit monarchies fueling dogmatic militant groups in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere and an increasing authoritarian government in Turkey). The new explosive environment undermines a good deal of the fanfare of the Trump Saudi visit that there is something of an “Arab” or “Islamic” NATO in the making. As Saudi Arabia and its close buddies turn on Qatar, consider the Arab NATO as dead in the water…and it only took two weeks for it to collapse, record time actually.  Read more…

The Trump Circus in Saudi Arabia – Milking The Saudi Cash Camel – 1

June 5, 2017

Bahrain Protests. In the aftermath of the Trump visit to Saudi Arabia, in neighboring Bahrain, home of a major U.S. naval base, repression against the democratic movement has intensified…

We began to hear murmurs within the Trump Administration during the time that he was giving that short speech in Riyadh – the most profitable speech ever given in the history of humanity up until now, we don’t know what will happen later. For saying a few words that the Saudi’s wanted to hear – and I will explain shortly why these words were critical for the Saudis – identifying Iran as the source of trouble and identifying Hezbollah, Hamas and a few others as terrorist organizations – as well as calling for regime change in Syria and Iran – this pleased the Saudis who reciprocated with a big economic package.

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Part Two

Part Three

Transcript: Part One.  KGNU – Boulder – May 23, 2017. Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues

Jim Nelson: The evening Ibrahim (Kazerooni) and Rob (Prince) will be discussing the U.S.-Saudi relationship in relation to the recent visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to that country.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Money, money, money! It’s so funny.

Rob Prince: Yes, follow the money!

Jim Nelson: As many of our listeners know, the President has spent the last few days in the Middle East, for the last few days in Saudi Arabia.

Rob Prince: Learning how to sword dance

Jim Nelson: From Saudi, he moved on to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. What surprised me is the way that the close relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel, how they share information and so forth. I wasn’t surprised to hear that because I moderate program – and you two have repeatedly emphasized the strategic alliances between the two countries, especially concerning Iran and the recently completion of the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and their (Israel and Saudi Arabia’s) opposition to wanting that deal to go forward. But it has not been mentioned very much in the mainstream media.

Anyway, please begin with your commentary

Rob Prince: Let me begin by telling you what we hope to accomplish tonight.

What we want to talk about is: What happened of substance on President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Ibrahim will begin by examining how Trump’s journey is viewed in the Middle East itself. Then I’m going to comment upon domestic political considerations, why it was that our President and his little entourage chose these countries and this particular moment to make his first foreign trip.

Ibrahim, let me ask you to start off, besides the President learning how to sword dance in Saudi Arabia, am I correct that he was also given a golden sword as a personal gift because he danced so well? Read more…

The Trump Entourage in Saudi Arabia…Notes from a Radio Interview

June 1, 2017

Donald Trump and King Salman of Saudi Arabia…two beauties

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Notes..KGNU – May 30, 2017

(A note on “the Notes” – The radio interview took plaee on May 30, 2017 at KGNU. It was a part of an ongoing series “Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues” hosted by Jim Nelson who has been interviewing Ibrahim Kazerooni and myself since late 2010 from 8-10 times a year for an hour. This particular program was a follow up on the interview done a week earlier, on May 23, 2017, concerning the Trump entourage visit to Saudi Arabia which had just been completed. Given the size of the announce deals made between Saudi Arabia and the United States and the political focus – an attempt to create an anti-Iranian front of some 55 Muslim countries, essentially a Sunni alliance against all the different forms of Muslim Shi’ism, we thought it important to look at the results of this visit in depth and did so over the course of the two program, the full transcripts of which are being prepared.

I take extensive notes for each program and did so for this one. Given the ebb and flow of our dialogues, the notes only partially cover what is discussed in the interviews. When I think that my notes reflect some ideas not covered in the interviews, on occasion, like with this one, I publish them)

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In our last program last week, in looking at the deals that Trump and King Salman agreed to on President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia (May 20-21) as a part of his first foreign visit. Besides Saudi Arabia, the Trump entourage also visited Israel, Brussels and two stops in Italy – one at the Vatican to visit the Pope, the second to Sicily to attend a meeting of the G-7 nations. Although Trumpty-Dumpty tweeted that the trip was a roaring success, actually it was the opposite as today’s news, that he pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord on Climate Change testifies. The rest of his trip was also nothing less than a train wreck, even in Israel.

The deals he cut with King Salman in Saudi Arabia – the arms sales, the promise of Saudi investment in U.S. equities and the like are little more than a green light to more Saudi war in Yemen and Saudi meddling and support for ISIS (in the name of course for fighting it) and like organization in Syria. Saudi purchases of sophisticated arms that they are incapable of using without foreign (U.S) advisers will do little to help the deeper problems in the United States and the so-called “Arab NATO” that was announced, actually a “Sunni NATO against all of Shia Islam” began falling apart almost as quickly as it supposedly came together with Pakistan making it clear that it will not target neighbor Iran and with a number of Gulf Emirates announcing in the aftermath of the birth of the so-called alliance that Iran is a good neighbor. Read more…

Riyadh – A Week After The Trump Visit – Results and Perspectives. Tonight, Tues. May 30, 2017, 6-7 PM; KGNU Radio; 88.5 Fm, 1390 AM. Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues Hosted by Jim Nelson, with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince

May 30, 2017

February 14, 1945 aboard USS Quincy in the Red Sea. Franklin Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdulaziz bin Saud. In return for access to Saudi oil, US President Roosevelt assured the Saudi King that the US would protect the territorial integrity of the Kingdom and treat it as America’s most important partner in the region. 

Riyadh – A Week After The Trump Visit – Results and Perspectives. Tonight, Tues. May 30, 2017, 6-7 PM; KGNU Boulder Colorado Radio; 88.5 Fm, 1390 AM. Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues Hosted by Jim Nelson, with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Hear Kazerooni and Prince dissect the results of the Trump-King Salman talks and agreements reached and what it means for the Middle East Region. Tonight at 6 pm for an hour on KGNU’s “Hemispheres.” The Middle East Dialogues in which Kazerooni and Prince participate are now heading into their seventh year.