253 thoughts on ““Wait ’til the fire turns green!”

  1. Hey presto says:

    (6/5/17) residents in Qatar are swarming local supermarkets in fear of a sudden food shortage sparked by a dramatic shift in Middle East power after three of Qatar’s powerful neighbors—including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain—cut diplomatic ties with the country, accusing it of funding Islamic militants. The three states are giving Qatari residents two weeks to return to Qatar and have shut down transportation ties with the country, including airline flights to and from there. https://qz.com/999017/qatar-is-facing-a-food-shortage-as-saudi-arabia-uae-and-bahrain-cut-diplomatic-ties/ “Iran, long at odds with Saudi Arabia and a behind-the-scenes target of the move, blamed Trump’s visit last month to Riyadh and called for the sides to overcome their differences. “What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance,” tweeted Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, referring to Trump’s joining in a traditional dance with the Saudi king at the meeting. …The hawkish tone on Tehran and on terrorism that Trump brought in his visit to Muslim leaders in Riyadh is seen as having laid the groundwork for the diplomatic crisis. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-gulf-qatar-idUSKBN18W0DQ

  2. Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay! says:
  3. WTF says:

    Qatar said Wednesday it has signed a $12 billion deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States — just days after President Donald Trump accused the country of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism. The announcement came after the country’s defense minister met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Washington. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/qatar-buys-12b-u-s-jets-days-after-trump-says-n772691 See also “Trump punishes “funder of terrorism” Qatar with $12 billion weapons deal” https://news.vice.com/story/trump-punishes-funder-of-terrorism-qatar-with-12-billion-weapons-deal

  4. Meanwhile says:

    “Arab states issue list of demands to end Qatar crisis : Saudi and other Arab nations ask Qatar to shut Al Jazeera, close a Turkish base and scale down Iran ties within 10 days.” (Al Jazeera 6/23/17) http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/arab-states-issue-list-demands-qatar-crisis-170623022133024.html The document does not specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
    Al Jazeera Media Network is an “internal affair” and there will be no discussion about the fate of the Doha-based broadcaster with nations that imposed a blockade on Qatar, its foreign minister says. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/al-jazeera-table-gulf-crisis-talks-fm-170613023203310.html
    Journalist watchdog Reporters Without Borders has condemned the crackdown on Al Jazeera. https://rsf.org/en/news/al-jazeera-collateral-victim-diplomatic-offensive-against-qatar Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera revolutionized the Arab world’s media landscape by making room for the broadest range of viewpoints, from the most moderate to the most radical. It distinguished itself above all during its coverage of the Arab Spring but enraged many of the region’s governments, which regard it as a Qatari foreign policy tool.

  5. Update says:

    The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he’ll block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and their neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council until there is a clear path for settling a major diplomatic crisis with Qatar. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-26/senator-vows-to-block-u-s-arms-sales-until-qatar-crisis-eased The GCC is an alliance of six Middle Eastern countries: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman

  6. Bouncing Betty says:

    6:29 AM ET, Mon July 3, 2017: Qatar’s foreign minister has arrived in Kuwait carrying an official response to a list of demands from the Saudi-led bloc, according to Qatari officials in Doha. Details have not been released but Qatar has called the demands an “affront to international law”. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt agreed late Sunday to a request from the Emir of Kuwait to extend by 48 hours the deadline for meeting their demands.
    Qatar is a US ally and the United States maintains a large military base there, home to some 11,000 personnel. http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/03/middleeast/qatar-deadline-extended/index.html

  7. Magic 8-Ball says:

    “Volatile Persian Gulf crisis over Qatar tries, divides Trump administration” (LA Times 7/3/17) http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-fg-trump-qatar-20170703-story.html “…Trump lent enthusiastic support to Saudi Arabia, backing its move, made along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, to cut off Qatari airspace, seal its land and sea borders and suspend diplomatic ties. (Kuwait did not join the blockade and is attempting to mediate.)
    Trump’s decision to turn on Qatar — just days after boasting that he had brought Arab nations together in “historic” unity to fight terrorism — has stunned diplomats here and abroad.”

  8. Hooligan says:

    “Major Western firms delivering stadiums for the Qatar 2022 World Cup are drawing up contingency plans to leave the Emirate if the diplomatic row engulfing the Middle East is not resolved.” (7/2/17) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/07/02/world-cup-2022-builders-draw-plans-leave-qatar-gulf-row-rages/ “Ongoing trade sanctions threaten to derail the £160bn ($206.9bn USD) building program the country needs to finish to host football’s top tournament. These include eight state-of-the-art stadiums, a new metro system for the capital Doha and 60,000 hotel rooms.” Also: “FIFA facing more calls to strip Qatar of 2022 World Cup as explosive full report into vote-buying is finally published” (6/27/17) https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/3898820/fifa-facing-more-calls-to-strip-qatar-of-2022-world-cup-as-explosive-full-report-into-vote-buying-is-finally-published/

  9. Mouse that roared says:

    A month after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing terrorism, it is suffering from isolation but is nowhere near an economic crisis. Qatar is so rich — at $127,660, its gross domestic product per capita in purchasing power terms is the highest of any country, according to the International Monetary Fund — it can deploy money to counter almost any type of sanction.
    In the past month it has arranged new shipping routes to offset the closure of its border with Saudi Arabia, deposited billions of dollars of state money in local banks to shore them up, and drawn the interest of some of the West’s biggest energy firms by announcing a plan to raise its LNG output 30 percent. On Wednesday, the alliance said Qatar, which denies any support for terrorism, had missed a deadline to comply with its demands. Further steps against Doha will be taken in line with international law “at the appropriate time”, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gulf-qatar-economy-idUSKBN19R1WA

  10. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    “Qatar Says It Has Enough Reserves to Meet Commitments” http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Qatar-Says-It-Has-Enough-Reserves-to-Meet-Commitments-20170711-0003.html
    “…U.S. President Donald Trump, who took credit for the diplomatic row between Qatar and its neighbors, has been critical of the Gulf country on social media. “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” he tweeted on June 6. “They said they would take a hard line on funding, extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar.”
    In contradiction, Trump’s son-in-law, Kushner reportedly tried and failed to secure a US$500 million loan from a Qatari billionaire businessman …It has been alleged that Kushner, who serves as a senior adviser to the president, was integral in his father-in-law’s push for the crackdown on Qatar by his Saudi alliance.”
    See also “Jared Kushner Tried and Failed to Get a Half-Billion-Dollar Bailout From Qatar” https://theintercept.com/2017/07/10/jared-kushner-tried-and-failed-to-get-a-half-billion-dollar-bailout-from-qatar/

    • Update says:

      “Turkish lira drops 14%, hits fresh record low after Trump authorizes doubling metals tariffs on Turkey” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/10/turkish-lira-loss-deepens-as-pm-erdogan-calls-for-citizens-to-convert-.html The sharp drop in Turkish assets came after a delegation returned from Washington with no apparent progress on the detention of U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who is charged with supporting a group blamed for an attempted coup in 2016. Last month, Trump threatened to slap “large sanctions” on the country if it refused to free Brunson. The U.S. then announced on Aug. 1 sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers and President Erdogan ordered reciprocal sanctions against two American officials in retaliation.
      Other points of friction are Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile system, which flies in the face of cooperation within NATO; American support for Kurdish fighters in Syria, and the United States’ refusal to extradite the American-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Mr. Erdogan of instigating the 2016 coup attempt against the Turkish president.
      “Here is the Brunson row in Erdoğan’s words” (Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey 7/30/18) http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/murat-yetkin/here-is-the-brunson-row-in-erdogans-words-135170

  11. خنفساء الروث says:

    “The diplomatic machinations that have enveloped Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar may seem like a membership feud in a Persian Gulf club for the wealthy. But their quarrel highlights battles that have been roiling the Middle East since the Arab Spring began nearly seven years ago.” (David Ignatius, Washington Post 7/13/17) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-question-about-islam-that-has-vexed-the-world-for-a-decade/2017/07/13/df7c9ede-67e9-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html “The allegation that Qatar supports terrorism is weak, especially after it signed a memo with (Secretary of State) Tillerson on Tuesday committing to a joint counterterrorism battle with the United States.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/qatar-agrees-to-curb-terrorism-financing-under-deal-with-us/2017/07/11/1a86e3b0-a041-4300-ab03-c840d8a19bcf_story.html See also “Trump’s stunning response to the Middle East diplomatic crisis” (June 6th) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trumps-stunning-response-to-the-middle-east-diplomatic-crisis/2017/06/06/2a531a16-4aec-11e7-9669-250d0b15f83b_story.html

  12. Nast says:

    “The Gulf Crisis, as Told Through Cartoons” (The Atlantic) https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/07/gulf-crisis-cartoons-cartoonists/535122/ “…In this stifled, conservative environment, the role of the cartoonist is sacrosanct. In the Arab world, the politically inflected art form dates back to the late 19th century, when Yaacub Sannu crafted anti-government, anti-imperial caricatures and satire in self-published broadsheets in Egypt. From the 1920s through the 1950s, cartoonists were integral to the rich illustrated press in Cairo and other Arab capitals. Since then, cartooning has played an outsized role in Arab media. In the face of a stifled press often unable to publish critical journalism, cartoonists take it upon themselves to fill the gap. They expertly employ tricks of the trade—metaphors, sarcasm, slang, and double entendre—to break the rules in ways that investigative reporters simply can’t.
    That doesn’t mean the task is easy…”

  13. Angry Optimist says:

    August 20, 2017: “Little-Known Qatari Sheikh Embraced by Saudi in Surprise Move” (Bloomberg) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-20/little-known-qatari-sheikh-embraced-by-saudi-in-surprise-move
    “In the last two years, three Saudi princes living in Europe have disappeared. All were critical of the Saudi government – and there is evidence that all were abducted and flown back to Saudi Arabia… where nothing further has been heard from them.” (BBC) http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-40926963
    “UAE ambassador says ‘whole of Saudi Arabia is cuckoo’ in leaked email : Yousef Otaiba an influential player in world politics and has attended Pentagon strategy meetings” (Independent UK) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/united-arab-emirates-globalleaks-hackers-yousef-otaiba-saudi-arabia-mohammed-bin-salman-pentagon-a7902281.html
    “The correspondence from Mr Otaiba’s email account was initially uncovered by the GlobalLeaks group, who approached Daily Beast. The hacking group claims to “reveal how million of dollars were used to hurt reputation of American allies and cause policy change.” (Al Jazeera) http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/yousef-al-otaiba-berates-saudi-leaked-emails-170819140533961.html

  14. 3rd law says:

    “Qatar’s emir officially inaugurates Hamad Port” http://www.aljazeera.com/video/news/2017/09/qatar-emir-officially-inaugurates-hamad-port-170905110351179.html “Large container ships will now go directly to Qatar rather than docking in the United Arab Emirates, where cargo used to be transferred to smaller vessels. The UAE is one of the countries that have imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar. Hamad Port will have an annual capacity of 7.5 million shipping containers, and separate terminals dedicated to general cargo, cereals, vehicles and livestock. Located in the town of Mesaieed [about 50 kilometres south of the capital city of Doha] the port is the largest of its kind in the Middle East with the capacity to receive all types of ships and vessels. It is expected to be fully operational by 2020, when it will cover around 20sq km. The existing Doha port will then be transformed into an international cruise ship terminal.

  15. L7 says:

    President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed efforts by the leader of Kuwait, a staunch American ally, to mediate a festering diplomatic crisis involving Qatar and its Arab neighbors that could have implications for the U.S. military presence in the region.
    However, the quartet of Arab nations now boycotting Doha issued a strongly worded statement early Friday morning dismissing some of Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah’s comments, signaling the diplomatic crisis roiling the Gulf is far from over. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-hails-kuwait-mediation-on-qatar-arab-states-react/2017/09/07/6ec0ee2a-9444-11e7-8482-8dc9a7af29f9_story.html

  16. اصبر تنل says:

    “Trump’s Bid to End Saudi-Qatar Stalemate Ends in Recriminations” (NYT 9/9/17) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/09/world/middleeast/trump-qatar-saudi-arabia.html
    ““The problem is as much about appearing to not capitulate to the other side as it is trying to solve any problems,” said Michael Stephens of the Royal United Services Institute in London.
    “Given the hypersensitivity of both sides to appearing weak,” he said, “it makes the problem considerably harder to solve.”
    …An influence race has erupted in Washington, where both sides have spent huge sums on lobbyists and advertising in a bid to influence political and public opinion.”

  17. Stranger than fiction says:

    During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton for accepting money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, complaining during one of the debates, “These are people that kill women and treat women horribly and yet you take their money.”
    That was, of course, before he made his first foreign visit as president to Saudi Arabia—and accepted dozens of gifts from the kingdom. In fact, during Trump’s visit, the White House accepted at least 83 separate gifts from Saudi Arabia, according to a document The Daily Beast has obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department. http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-insane-gifts-saudi-arabia-gave-president-trump “The gifts range from the regal (“Artwork featuring picture of President Trump”) to the martial (multiple swords, daggers, leather ammo holders and holsters), to the baroque (tiger and cheetah fur robes, and a dagger made of pure silver with a mother of pearl sheath). Now when the president is contemplating the state of Saudi women’s rights, he can do so before a “large canvas artwork depicting [a] Saudi woman.”

  18. RTFA says:

    ‘He’s better than this,’ says Thomas Barrack, Trump’s loyal whisperer” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hes-better-than-this-says-thomas-barrack-trumps-loyal-whisperer/2017/10/10/067fc776-a215-11e7-8cfe-d5b912fabc99_story.html “…Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire who is one of President Trump’s oldest friends, had spent weeks trying to smooth the way for a May presidential meeting in Saudi Arabia with Arab leaders of the Persian Gulf. All initially went well. Trump praised Qatar — where Barrack, who is Arab American, has deep business ties — as a “crucial strategic partner.” Then Trump reversed course a few weeks later and attacked Qatar as “a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”

  19. Update says:

    United Arab Emirates planned to invade Qatar with Blackwater-linked mercenaries: Report http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uae-planned-invade-qatar-blackwater-linked-mercenaries-report-1742295879 Qatar’s former deputy prime minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah levelled the charges on Wednesday in a report published by Spanish daily ABC.
    Attiyah said the plan, which was prepared ahead of the diplomatic spat, was never carried out because US President Donald Trump failed to green-light the assault, the NewArab said. https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/10/13/uae-planned-to-invade-qatar-with-blackwater-linked-mercenaries An unidentified official source told the daily that the soldiers for hire were trained at an Emirati military base in Liwa in the west of the country by Academi, a US security service company formerly known as Blackwater.
    Blackwater military contractors killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounded 20 in a notorious 2007 massacre in Baghdad that prompted the firm to change its name.
    “We estimate that Blackwater trained about 15,000 employees, most of them Colombian and South American,” the source told the New Arab.
    The New York Times reported as far back as 2011 that Colombians were entering the UAE posing as construction workers to become part of a secret mercenary army being built by Blackwater founder Erik Prince with more than $500m in financing from the oil-rich sheikdom.”
    See “Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/world/middleeast/15prince.html also “Trump Warned Saudis Off Military Move on Qatar” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-19/trump-is-said-to-have-warned-saudis-off-military-move-on-qatar
    Meanwhile: “Could Bannon’s Prince Disrupt Wyoming’s GOP?” https://www.sheridanmedia.com/news/could-bannon-s-prince-disrupt-wyoming-s-gop95968

    • Bubble Trouble says:

      “Special counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that may refute what Blackwater founder Erik Prince told Congress about his scrutinized meeting with a Russian financier, according to a report.
      Prince, who is also the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, told a House of Representatives committee last year that he had a chance encounter and only one beer with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign investment fund, at the bar of a luxury hotel in the Seychelles.
      Reports had said the private military mogul was part of a backchannel connection between the Trump orbit and the Kremlin, though he says that “I didn’t fly there to meet any Russian guy.”
      Mueller’s probe is into alleged Moscow election meddling in 2016 and potential collusion with Trump’s circle.” http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/russia-testimony-erik-prince-called-question-article-1.3918183

  20. Sold American! says:

    “The United States is to begin building the infrastructure needed for Qatar’s future fleet of Boeing F-15QA Eagle fighter aircraft, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 1 November. The agency disclosed that the US State Department has approved USD1.1 billion of building work related to Qatar’s program to acquire 36 F-15QA (Qatar Advanced)-variant fighters.” http://www.janes.com/article/75390/us-to-begin-building-qatari-f-15qa-infrastructure
    “The US state department has approved a deal for the support programme of Qatar’s F-15 fighter aircraft at an estimated cost of $1.1bn. In June, Qatar and the US signed a $12bn agreement in which Doha bought 72 of the multi-role fighter jets.
    The Pentagon said it had informed Congress of the agreement involving design and construction work, including the development of cybersecurity, protection, support and other related services. Congress now has 30 days to sign off on the deal.” http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/pentagon-approves-qatari-15-fighter-jet-support-deal-171102091243710.html

  21. Naulahka says:

    (Nov. 5, 2017) “Saudi Arabia’s future king has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-arrests/future-saudi-king-tightens-grip-on-power-with-arrest-of-prince-alwaleed-idUSKBN1D506P
    “Trump Tells Saudi King That He Supports Modernization Drive” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/05/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-arrests.html
    Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the prominent billionaire investor, is one of the richest and most influential investors in the world. Among Prince Alwaleed’s crown jewels: sizable stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup. He has gone into business with some of the corporate world’s biggest titans, including Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg. His investments span the globe and are so vast that he has been referred to as the Warren Buffett of the Middle East. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/05/business/saudi-prince-alwaleed-investor.html
    Despite his being the 50th-richest person in the world, with a $19 billion fortune according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, details on the source of his wealth must be gleaned from public statements by Alwaleed, the website of his holding company and company filings. Often his transactions and assets are disguised by investing through funds that obscure the ultimate beneficiary. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-05/alwaleed-saudi-purge-s-richest-victim-has-assets-across-globe

  22. as-Sa’ah says:

    “Saudi Arabia Orders Its Citizens Out of Lebanon, Raising Fears of War” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/09/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-lebanon-war.html
    “While analysts said a war was unlikely — because Saudi Arabia was not capable of waging one and Israel did not want one now — they worried that with so many active conflicts in the region, any Saudi actions that raised the temperature increased the risk of an accidental conflagration.”
    “Saudi Arabia commits the original sin of modern Middle East politics” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/saudi-arabia-commits-the-original-sin-of-modern-middle-east-politics/2017/11/09/d9e2807a-c599-11e7-84bc-5e285c7f4512_story.html
    “Kingdom Of Fear: Saudi Arabia On Lockdown” https://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Kingdom-Of-Fear-Saudi-Arabia-On-Lockdown.html “…There are also reports that the purge could fill the state coffers with as much as US$800 billion in assets seized from those arrested—all members of the Saudi elite.”
    Meanwhile: “Saudi Blockade of Yemen Threatens to Starve Millions, U.N. Says” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/08/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-blockade.html

  23. Yee-Haw says:

    ● The Latest: Saudi should clarify why Hariri hasn’t returned (November 11 at 7:15 AM) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/the-latest-lebanon-minister-says-probe-libelous-saudis/2017/11/10/1653f29a-c68b-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html
    ● “It looks like Saudi Arabia removed Lebanon’s prime minister — and it may be the first move in starting a war” http://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-lebanon-israel-hezbollah-middle-east-war-2017-11
    ● “Prime minister’s disappearance has rare unifying effect on Lebanon” http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-lebanon-unity-20171110-story.html
    ● “Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said that “Saudi Arabia has asked Israel to strike Lebanon,” speaking in a televised speech from Beirut, Friday. He added that Saudi Arabia is “ready to offer tens of billions of dollars for this purpose.”” https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/saudi-arabia-asked-israel-strike-lebanon-nasrallah/
    ● “US air force official says Yemeni missile fired at Saudis ‘connects the dots to Iran’ : Saudi Arabia has long accused Iran of supplying weapons to the Shiite rebels known as Houthis and their allies, though Tehran has denied it” http://www.scmp.com/news/world/middle-east/article/2119395/us-air-force-official-says-yemeni-missile-fired-saudis
    ● “Saudi arrest of Osama bin Laden’s half-brother shatters royal entente” https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/saudi-arrest-of-binladin-family-scion-shatters-royal-entente/articleshow/61603574.cms “It was a stunning end to a decades-old alliance between the ruling Al Saud and Binladin families that saw the Saudi Binladin Group secure a near-monopoly on mega-expansion projects in Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, throughout the reigns of successive Saudi monarchs.”
    ● “‘Nervous’ Mideast pushes oil to longest winning streak in a year” http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Nervous-Mideast-pushes-oil-to-longest-winning-12347512.php U.S. crude production jumped to 9.62 million barrels a day last week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Crude stockpiles in the world’s largest economy unexpectedly increased last week as well. “Geopolitical risks have taken center stage in the oil market again,” said Jens Naervig Pedersen, senior analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen. “The rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have raised concerns in the oil market of an imminent supply disruption.”

  24. Zizzing & Dripping says:

    “The ‘Cold War’ between Iran and Saudi Arabia is heating up. Here are 5 things you should know about it.” (Agence France-Presse 11.12/17) https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-11-12/cold-war-between-iran-and-saudi-arabia-heating-here-are-5-things-you-should-know
    “Saudi Arabia tightens security at oil facilities after Bahrain pipeline attack” http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/12/Saudi-Arabia-tightens-security-at-oil-facilities-after-Bahrain-pipeline-attack.html Also”Arab league to meet on Iran at Saudi request” http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/11/12/Arab-league-to-meet-on-Iran-at-Saudi-request-.html and “Why Obama put Bin Laden’s documents linking Iran, Qatar under lock and key” http://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2017/11/11/Why-Obama-put-bin-Laden-s-documents-linking-Iran-Qatar-under-lock-and-key.html (re: The Washington Times see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Washington_Times#Political_stance )
    NEW YORK, Nov 12 (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s efforts to reduce a worldwide crude supply glut by cutting shipments to the United States means others are now filling in, most notably Iraq, in a trend that is set to accelerate in coming months.
    Over the summer, normally one of the busiest periods for crude shipments, U.S. imports of crude from Iraq rose by 41 percent from a year ago, while similar shipments from Saudi Arabia have dropped by 22 percent. https://www.reuters.com/article/usa-saudi-imports/as-saudi-arabia-limits-u-s-crude-shipments-iraq-steps-in-idUSL2N1N51L5

  25. dozāreet oftād says:

    “Saudi-Iran proxy wars: In pursuit of regional hegemony” http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/saudi-iran-proxy-wars-pursuit-regional-hegemony-171113110353492.html
    “Trump’s bizarre obeisance to Saudi Arabia” http://theweek.com/articles/736995/trumps-bizarre-obeisance-saudi-arabia
    “Hariri ‘held for refusing to confront Hezbollah'” http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/hariri-held-refusing-confront-hezbollah-171112060742360.html
    Meanwhile: “Germany quintuples arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt” http://www.dw.com/en/germany-quintuples-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia-and-egypt/a-41370500

  26. al-ribā says:

    “A Trump-Endorsed Game of Thrones in Saudi Arabia” https://www.thenation.com/article/a-trump-endorsed-game-of-thrones-in-saudi-arabia/
    “Saudi Arabia ‘swaps assets for freedom’ after arrests” http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/saudi-arabia-swaps-assets-freedom-arrests-171118083433633.html …”Eliminating uncertainty about what the Saudi authorities are going to do goes a long way towards giving the market comfort that the regime is getting its house in order and plugging its deficit,” said Louis Gargour, founder and senior portfolio manager at the London-based hedge fund LNG Capital.
    Riyadh has been cutting spending while raising taxes and fees to curb a state budget deficit caused by low oil prices. The deficit, which hit $98bn in 2015, is shrinking, but at a high cost to the economy; data in late September showed Saudi Arabia in recession during the second quarter. …The United States is closely watching the situation in Saudi Arabia, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday. Asked about agreements to hand over wealth for detainees’ freedom, Mnuchin told CNBC: “I think that the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] is doing a great job at transforming the country.”
    The market value of the portfolio of Saudi equities held by the Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, has gained, even as the arrest or questioning of more than 200 people in the inquiry caused stocks in many privately controlled firms to slump.
    Reuters could not immediately verify a Financial Times report stating that in some cases, the government is seeking to appropriate as much as 70 percent of suspects’ wealth to channel hundreds of billions of dollars into depleted state coffers.”

  27. Warning: Graphic Content says:

    “Yemenis are caught in a nearly three-year conflict that began as a domestic power struggle and evolved into a brutal proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, killing more than ten thousand people and shuttering more than half of the country’s medical facilities. Saudi armed forces, backed by more than forty billion dollars in American arms shipments authorized by the Trump and Obama Administrations, have killed thousands of civilians in air strikes. They have also blockaded the country to varying degrees for two years and intermittently prevented journalists and human-rights researchers from flying into the country.” From The New Yorker: ‘The Catastrophe of Saudi Arabia’s Intervention in Yemen’. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-catastrophe-of-saudi-arabias-trump-backed-intervention-in-yemen
    “When food is used as a weapon : How Yemen’s civil war has brought 7 million people, many of them children, to the brink of starvation” (CBS News 60 Minutes) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/when-food-is-used-as-a-weapon/
    “In Yemen’s “60 Minutes” Moment, No Mention That the U.S. Is Fueling the Conflict” https://theintercept.com/2017/11/20/60-minutes-yemen-war-us-involvement/
    Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a 30-year veteran of the CIA, explained last year that “if the United States and the United Kingdom, tonight, told King Salman [of Saudi Arabia], ‘This war has to end,’ it would end tomorrow. The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support.” https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brookings-now/2016/04/22/watch-sen-chris-murphy-on-revisiting-u-s-saudi-relationship/

  28. كَلام ذو وَجْهَيْنِ says:

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s assertive crown prince on Sunday opened the first high-level meeting of a kingdom-led alliance of Muslim nations against terrorism, vowing that extremists will no longer “tarnish our beautiful religion.”
    Mohammed bin Salman’s words come as the Islamic State group, which sparked the creation of the alliance, has been driven out of Iraq and lost its self-described capital in Syria.
    However, the alliance doesn’t include Iran, Iraq or Syria, while member nation Qatar sent no one to attend the one-day Riyadh gathering amid a diplomatic standoff between Doha and four Arab nations led by the kingdom. https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-11-26/saudi-crown-prince-leads-islamic-military-alliance-meeting

  29. Bass-O-Matic says:

    “Turkish and Iranian ministers have signed an agreement with Qatar aimed at increasing the flow of goods to the Gulf state.
    Qatar faces trade restrictions from its Middle Eastern neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has said it wants to punish Qatar for its ties with Iran and suspected links to terrorist groups.
    Turkey, however, has increased cooperation with Iran on some issues, especially those connected to the conflict in Syria. For example, both Turkey and Iran oppose the formation of an independent Kurdish state.” (Voice of America English class) https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/turky-iran-sign-trade-deal-with-qatar/4142319.html

  30. Narrator says:

    “Saudis Host Surprise Talks Between UAE, Yemen’s Brotherhood” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-14/saudis-host-surprise-talks-between-u-a-e-yemen-s-brotherhood
    “Trump Considers Easing Nuclear Rules for Saudi Project” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-12/trump-is-said-to-consider-easing-nuclear-rules-for-saudi-project
    “Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz wants Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit, his spokesman said Wednesday, in what would be a historic trip involving two nations with no official diplomatic ties.” https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/162580-171213-israeli-intelligence-minister-katz-invites-the-saudi-king-to-israel
    “In Jerusalem we have the latest chapter in a century of colonialism” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/12/jerusalem-chapter-century-colonialism-donald-trump-intervention-palestine
    “The U.S. evangelical community is in raptures over Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, believing it moves the world closer to Armageddon” https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.827591

  31. Shu hadha? says:

    Reportedly diamonds from first daughter Ivanka Trump’s now-defunct fine jewelry line were allegedly used in a massive money-laundering and fraud scheme, according to a federal court filing. https://www.gq.com/story/ivanka-trump-jewelry-business The Commercial Bank of Dubai in late June sought and later got permission to subpoena Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, claiming its diamonds were vehicles in a scheme to hide about $100 million owed to the financial institution, GQ reported on Friday based on filings at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York made over the summer.
    …In recent months, Trump’s father, President Donald Trump, and her husband, fellow White House adviser Kushner, have waded aggressively into a civil war within the Arab world. In June, shortly after a trip to Saudi Arabia, Trump endorsed a move by the Saudis, the Emiratis, and others to blockade Qatar even as his own State and Defense departments struck a more conciliatory tone. As it so happens, the Commercial Bank of Dubai—which was created by royal decree and remains partly owned by the Emirati government—made its subpoena request around the same time.

  32. Wheels within wheels says:

    12/28/17: Boeing awarded USD6.17 billion for 36 F-15QA fighters for Qatar https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/boeing-awarded-usd6-17-billion-for-36-f-15qa-fighters-for-qatar.535756/ Under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract, announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 22 December, all the aircraft will be delivered to the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) by 30 December 2022. Although that agreement was also reported to be for 36 aircraft, the value was given by the Qatari government as USD12 billion. This suggests that either a follow-on procurement for another 36 fighters might be possible, or that the initial agreement also covers an as-yet-unannounced major weapons purchase to accompany the Advanced Eagles.
    While Qatar certainly does not require another 36 F-15QAs on top of the 36 now contracted (it also has to be questioned as to whether the small Gulf nation has the manpower to field such an enlarged combat aviation force), such a development cannot be entirely discounted given the country’s procurement history of late. Qatar’s recent fighter procurement announcements have been quite remarkable in terms of their scope and ambition. The QEAF has over recent months signed for 36 Dassault Rafales from France and 24 Eurofighter Typhoons from the United Kingdom. These 60 aircraft coupled with the 36 Advanced Eagles are set to replace just 12 ageing Dassault Mirage 2000s.

  33. Update says:

    The United Arab Emirates said on Monday that two of its civilian airliners have been “intercepted” by a fighter jet from Qatar during a routine flight, in a sign of rapidly escalating tensions between the quarreling Persian Gulf neighbors. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/uae-accuses-qatar-of-intercepting-2-civilian-flights-escalating-persian-gulf-feud/2018/01/15/3250aef0-f9f5-11e7-b832-8c26844b74fb_story.html?utm_term=.42bd700c8472 It was not immediately clear what was meant by “intercepted.” A Qatari government official dismissed the report as “completely untrue.”
    The accusation comes against the backdrop of Qatar’s own claims of interference by the UAE. In recent weeks, Qatar has accused the fellow Gulf country of violating its airspace twice with military flights, raising concerns the quarrel could soon escalate into an armed confrontation.

  34. Update says:

    “Yemen PM ‘holed up’ as Aden palace surrounded” (BBC) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42877851
    A senior Yemeni official has told Al Jazeera that southern separatists, backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), seized control of a key military base in the coastal city of Aden, after a UAE fighter jet bombed the facility – and despite a ceasefire being brokered by coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the UAE, hours earlier. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/uae-jet-enables-separatists-seize-army-base-aden-180130130644117.html
    Saudi Arabia’s government has arranged to seize more than $100 billion through financial settlements with businessmen and officials detained in its crackdown on corruption, the attorney general said on Tuesday. (Reuters) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-arrests-corruption/saudi-arabia-says-it-has-seized-over-100-billion-in-corruption-purge-idUSKBN1FJ28E

  35. الجن says:

    Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had intentions to invade Qatar at the beginning of a diplomatic crisis that erupted in June, according to Qatar’s defence minister. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/defence-minister-saudi-uae-intended-invade-qatar-180203091422735.html In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah said his Gulf neighbours have “tried everything” to destabilise the country, but their intentions to invade were “diffused” by Qatar. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/qatar-to-saudi-arabia-quit-trying-to-overthrow-our-government/2018/02/02/05a1a848-0759-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html?utm_term=.11d1b8322110

    • Omar comin'! says:

      “Jared Kushner’s Real-Estate Firm Sought Money Directly From Qatar Government Weeks Before Blockade” https://theintercept.com/2018/03/02/jared-kushner-real-estate-qatar-blockade/
      “…The failure to broker the deal [to secure financing for the Kushners’ signature 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York City] would be followed only a month later by a Middle Eastern diplomatic row in which Jared Kushner provided critical support to Qatar’s neighbors. Led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a group of Middle Eastern countries, with Kushner’s backing, led a diplomatic assault that culminated in a blockade of Qatar. Kushner, according to reports at the time, subsequently undermined efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to bring an end to the standoff.
      On Friday afternoon, NBC News reported that in late January and early February, Qatari government officials visiting the U.S. “considered turning over to Mueller what they believe is evidence of efforts by their country’s Persian Gulf neighbors in coordination with Kushner to hurt their country.”

  36. Kenny says:

    “The interception of an Iranian drone that targeted Israel suggests that the chances for a war between Israel and Iran-led forces, the first Israel-Shia war, have increased, General (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence, said.” http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20180212-fmr-idf-intelligence-chief-shootdown-of-iranian-drone-could-be-prelude-to-israelshia-war See also source “Fmr. IDF Intelligence Chief: Shootdown of Iranian Drone Could be Prelude to Israel-Shia War” http://www.thetower.org/5940-fmr-idf-intelligence-chief-shootdown-of-iranian-drone-could-be-prelude-to-israel-shia-war/ Includes link to Interview with Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Intelligence and currently the Executive Director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.
    “Israel: Iranian drone we shot down was based on captured US drone” (CNN 2/12/18) https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/12/middleeast/israel-iran-drone-intl/index.html

  37. Full circle says:

    US airstrike killed dozens of Russians in Syria, but Moscow stays silent (CNN) https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/18/middleeast/us-airstrike-killed-dozens-of-russians-in-syria-intl/index.html “…The Russians were working for a paramilitary company called Wagner, which has hundreds of contractors on the ground in Syria, helping both the Russian military and pro-regime forces. Wagner is led by Dmitry Utkin, a former colonel in the Russian special forces who is under US sanctions for assisting pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
    Utkin was once head of security for a Russian oligarch called Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has close ties to the Kremlin. Prigozhin was indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday for funding the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked troll group accused of interfering in the 2016 US presidential election campaign by sowing discord online. https://www.justice.gov/file/1035477/download Last month, the US Treasury Department designated another Russian company, Evro Polis, “for being owned or controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin.” CNN has seen a copy of a contract between Evro Polis, and the Syrian regime, under which Evro Polis gets 25% of oil revenues from fields that are recovered from rebel control. “It seems that on some level all Prigozhin’s financial assets overlap and he uses the money from them to fund projects like the troll factory, Wagner, Evro Polis and others,” Ruslan Leviev, the activist, says. Essentially, Wagner does the fighting; Evro Polis gets the oil and gas. Coneco, the oil field near Deir Ezzor, is one of the most valuable still in rebel hands. Efforts to reach Wagner, which has no registered office in Russia, were unsuccessful.

    • Footnote says:

      July 27, 2016: “The Real Paranoia-Inducing Purpose of Russian Hacks” (The New Yorker) https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-real-paranoia-inducing-purpose-of-russian-hacks “For six months, starting in the fall of 2014, I investigated a shadowy online Russian propaganda operation called the Internet Research Agency. The agency has been widely reported in Russian media to be the brainchild of Evgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch and ally of Vladimir Putin…”

    • Puzzling Evidence™ says:

      U.S. Still Unsure Who Directed Syria Attack, Despite Russian Dead. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: “Don’t ask me. I don’t know.” https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-02-18/us-still-unsure-who-directed-syria-attack-despite-russian-dead The U.S. military has said that in its effort to repel the attack on Feb. 7, U.S. forces on the ground called in coalition strikes for more than three hours, involving F-15E fighter jets, MQ-9 drones, B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships and AH-64 Apache helicopters. Reuters has reported that about 300 men working for a Kremlin-linked Russian private military firm were either killed or injured. Russian officials deny they deploy private military contractors in Syria, saying Moscow’s only military presence is a campaign of air strikes, a naval base, military instructors training Syrian forces, and limited numbers of special forces troops. (Feb. 18, 2018, at 12:52 a.m.) https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-02-18/us-still-unsure-who-directed-syria-attack-despite-russian-dead

      • Фальшивые новости says:

        “Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marina Zakharova is the only Russian government official who has publicly confirmed that five people, “presumably” Russian citizens, were killed in an armed clash with U.S. forces near Deir el-Zour in Syria. Kremlin-linked Audio Recordings Contradict Her Story.” https://www.polygraph.info/a/us-wagner-russia-syria-scores-killed/29044339.html (“Polygraph.info is a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America (VOA)​ and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The website serves as a resource for verifying the increasing volume of disinformation and misinformation being distributed and shared globally. A similar website in the Russian language can be found at factograph.info.”)

        • Puzzling Evidence™ says:

          A journalist who had been investigating the deaths of alleged Russian mercenaries in Syria died in a hospital on Sunday after falling from his balcony in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/maxim-borodin-russia-reporter-death-fall-balcony_us_5ad4f819e4b0edca2cbcc536
          Maxim Borodin, a 32-year-old reporter for the Yekaterinburg-based Ria Novy Den news agency, was known for his coverage of high-profile corruption and criminal cases. He fell from his fifth-floor balcony on Thursday, The New York Times reported, and neighbors found him critically injured at the foot of the building. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died from his injuries three days later.

          • Аэрофло́т says:

            On July 31, three Russian journalists, Orkhan Jemal, Kirill Radchenko, and Alexander Rastorguev, were killed in the Central African Republican (CAR) when their vehicle was ambushed by unknown assailants near the town of Sibut. Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky later confirmed that the three journalists had been working for one of his projects, the Center for Investigation, on a probe into the activities of a so-called “private military company” called Wagner or the Wagner Group. That company has previously been involved in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. https://www.polygraph.info/a/has-russia-been-open-about-its-involvement-in-the-central-african-republic-/29405622.html Reportedly cooperation between the Russian government and private military companies such as Wagner “represents the new Russian ‘hybrid approach,’ where one does not know where the state ends and private interest begins.”
            In addition to the Russian reporter who fell from his apartment balcony and died after covering the Wagner Group’s involvement in Syria, a number of other opposition and media figures have also perished in similar circumstances. According to Orkhan Jemal, one of the three journalists who were killed on July 31st, “We have had cases in which suspects managed to jump out of completely sealed, barred windows, and even cases in which the suspects suffered multiple lethal injuries from falling out of first floor windows” (see also https://www.polygraph.info/a/russia-suspicious-deaths-from-falling-out-window-/29178628.html )

    • Proxies says:

      “The Kremlin ally indicted last week as a key figure in Russia’s online election influence operation is also tied to a shadowy military contractor whose Russian mercenaries recently launched an attack on American forces in Syria, U.S. officials tell ABC News. Yevgeny Prigozhin — a Russian businessman and restaurateur dubbed “Putin’s chef” by the Russian media — is deeply involved in the Wagner Group, officials said, a paramilitary firm based in southern Russia. According to those officials, the firm deployed mercenaries in Syria who tried to strike U.S. special operations forces earlier this month. The attack failed, two intelligence officials told ABC News, as the mercenaries were decimated by U.S. airstrikes during their advance. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/russian-troll-farm-financier-backs-russian-mercenaries-syria/story?id=53256296 Y
      Much more information and details with links in “What Is the Connection Between the Wagner Group and the Russian State?” https://www.polygraph.info/a/russian-mercenaries-in-syria/29057392.html [Polygraph.info is a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America (VOA)​ and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.]

  38. Blowback says:

    “Don’t Be Fooled: Russia Attacked U.S. Troops in Syria” (Bloomberg Opinion) https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-16/russia-attacked-u-s-troops-in-syria “Russia Warns U.S. Not to ‘Play With Fire’ in Syrian Conflict “(Bloomberg) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-19/russia-warns-u-s-not-to-play-with-fire-in-syrian-conflict “Russian hand seen behind increased bombing of Syrian hospitals” (NBC) https://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/russian-hand-seen-behind-increased-bombing-syrian-hospitals-n847961 “Turkey denies use of chemical weapons in Syria” (Deutsche Welle) http://www.dw.com/en/turkey-denies-use-of-chemical-weapons-in-syria/a-42627819 “Amid the chaos of Syria, will Israel and Iran launch an all-out war?” (Guardian) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/18/amid-chaos-syria-will-israel-iran-launch-all-out-war

  39. Cauldron says:

    “The United States said on Friday it will open its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May, a move from Tel Aviv that reverses decades of U.S. policy and is bound to trouble U.S. allies who have already objected.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-diplomacy/u-s-ready-to-open-jerusalem-embassy-in-may-state-department-idUSKCN1G71WF
    “The US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by May 14, in honor of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence, according to Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Israel Katz.” http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Report-US-embassy-Jerusalem-move-date-decided-543465
    “Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson offers to help pay for Jerusalem embassy: report” https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/23/republican-donor-sheldon-adelson-jerusalem-embassy/366223002/
    “Abnormal times in Israel” http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Abnormal-times-in-Israel-543409

  40. Omar comin'! says:

    George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who advises Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, is cooperating as investigators reportedly examine whether Nader funneled money from the Emirates in an attempt to influence Trump’s policies.
    After being served search warrants and a subpoena after landing at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17. while on his way to celebrate the president’s first year in office at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Nader is now cooperating with investigators and gave testimony to a grand jury last week as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, The New York Times reported Tuesday night. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/us/politics/george-nader-special-counsel-mueller-cooperating-seychelles.html
    The special counsel’s team has taken an interest in a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles that Nader attended, the Times reported. Also in attendance was a Russian investor connected to President Vladimir Putin, and Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater who advised Trump during the transition. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/377087-uae-adviser-eyed-in-mueller-probe-is-cooperating-with-special-counsel

  41. nahh says:

    Qatar officials decline to give Kushner info to Mueller probe: report http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/377900-qatar-officials-decline-to-give-kushner-info-to-mueller-probe-report Officials reportedly have information regarding alleged influence by the United Arab Emirates on Trump associates, including Kushner, NBC News reported. The evidence includes information about secret meetings. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/qataris-opted-not-give-info-kushner-secret-meetings-mueller-n855326?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_ma
    Three sources familiar with the discussions said the Qatari officials don’t want to hand over the evidence to Mueller because they don’t want to negatively affect the relationship with the Trump administration. A report earlier this month said Mueller’s team of investigators was looking into whether an adviser to the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates has influenced White House policymaking.

  42. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    The Senate scuttled a resolution opposed by the Trump administration that called on the U.S. military to stop aiding Saudi-led bombing in Yemen, acting the same day President Donald Trump and top lawmakers met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
    The 55-44 vote Tuesday shelves the measure indefinitely. Defense Secretary James Mattis met privately with Senate Republicans to oppose the measure hours before the vote. The administration contended the resolution could damage U.S.-Saudi relations as the two countries seek to develop an increasingly close partnership on issues such as isolating Iran and bolstering business ties. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-20/senate-scuttles-yemen-measure-as-saudi-prince-meets-with-trump
    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocratic monarchy in which Sunni Islam is the official state religion based on firm Sharia law and non-Muslims are not allowed to hold Saudi citizenship. The official form of Islam is Sunni of the Hanbali school, in its Salafi version. Public worship by adherents of religions other than Islam is forbidden and conversion from Islam to another religion is punishable by death as apostasy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salafi_movement

  43. Shitberg says:

    “How a Witness for Mueller and a Republican Donor Influenced the White House for Gulf Rulers” (NYT) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/21/us/politics/george-nader-elliott-broidy-uae-saudi-arabia-white-house-influence.html “…High on the agenda of the two men — George Nader, a political adviser to the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., and Elliott Broidy, the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee — was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar and repeatedly pressing the president to meet privately outside the White House with the leader of U.A.E.
    Mr. Tillerson was fired last week, and the president has adopted tough approaches toward both Iran and Qatar.

  44. Baksheesh says:

    The Crown Prince and Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia tours Boeing on secretive Seattle visit amid tight security. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/saudi-crown-prince-tours-boeing-on-secretive-seattle-visit/ Mohammed bin Salman’s private VIP 747 jumbo jet, inbound from New York, landed at Paine Field in Everett just after 2 p.m. Friday for a tour of Boeing — his first West Coast stop on a 3-week U.S. trip to refashion the image of Saudi Arabia in the eyes of Americans. After a tour of the widebody jet plant that built his airplane, the 32-year-old prince looked on as Boeing chairman and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg signed a memorandum of agreement to set up a $450 million joint venture in Saudi Arabia that will provide maintenance and repair support for the kingdom’s military aircraft.
    The Prince’s final itinerary and plans in Seattle were not announced.

  45. Gatsby says:

    “Donald Trump’s Sons Jet To Dubai To Attend Lavish Wedding, Costing Taxpayers Up To $73,000” https://www.inquisitr.com/4858504/donald-trumps-sons-jet-to-dubai-to-attend-lavish-wedding-costing-taxpayers-up-to-73000/ Donald Trump’s eldest sons traveled to Dubai to meet business partner Hussain Sajwani and visit Trump-brand properties in the area, according to a Trump Organisation spokesperson. The two conducted no government business. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-jr-eric-trump-dubai-trip-cost-taxpayers-73000-secret-service-hussain-sajwani-trump-a8294956.html

  46. Ragnarök says:

    “Iran and Israel draw closer to war than ever” (CNN) https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/30/middleeast/iran-israel-analysis/index.html See also “The Syrian airbase at the heart of a potential Israel-Iran war” (Guardian) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/01/the-syrian-airbase-at-the-heart-of-a-potential-israel-iran-war and “Iran–Israel proxy conflict” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Israel_proxy_conflict
    “Europeans cast doubt on Israel’s claims about Iran nuclear breaches : EU governments stand by 2015 deal with Tehran after presentation by Netanyahu” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/01/europeans-cast-doubt-on-israel-claims-about-iran-nuclear-breaches
    “The White House brushes off a major ‘typo’ in its statement on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, blames Obama instead” http://www.businessinsider.com/white-house-statement-on-iran-nuclear-had-typo-2018-5

    • Array says:

      “Trump and Putin’s unholy alliance could lead to war with Iran” (Guardian UK July 15, 2018) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/15/trump-and-putin-unholy-alliance-could-lead-to-war-with-iran “…Western allies fear that Trump, egged on by the Saudis and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who conferred with Putin in Moscow last week, may privately offer de facto US recognition of Crimea’s annexation and an easing of Ukraine-related sanctions. In return, he would seek Putin’s agreement to push Iran out of Syria, thereby safeguarding Israel’s border and weakening Tehran’s influence in Lebanon and the wider region.”
      “Papers stolen in daring Israeli raid on Tehran archive reveal extent of Iran’s past weapons research” (Washington Post 7/15/18) http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-iran-israel-nuclear-weapons-20180715-story.html “The stolen documents contain no revelations about recent nuclear activity and no proof that Iran has violated the 2015 nuclear accord it reached with the United States and five other global powers. U.S. officials had long known of Iran’s pre-2004 nuclear weapons research, which the Obama administration cited explicitly in prodding Iran to accept the historic deal limiting its ability to make enriched uranium and placing its nuclear facilities under intensive international oversight.
      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has seized on the documents in recent weeks to launch new attacks against the nuclear deal, which Israeli officials say is inadequate for containing Iran’s long-term nuclear ambitions. The accord has been on life support since the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the pact in May. Iran says it is honoring the terms of the agreement and has no intention of building nuclear weapons.”

  47. Gee-wiz says:

    “Iran fears send US oil above $70 for first time since 2014” http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/06/investing/oil-prices-70-dollars-barrel/index.html “Oil prices have been climbing partly because of expectations that President Donald Trump will abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which allowed Iran to export more crude.
    This is the first time the US crude benchmark has been above $70 since November 2014.
    “The focus of oil markets is currently on the US president’s pending decision on the fate of the Iran nuclear deal,” said Victor Shum, an oil industry analyst at research firm IHS Markit.
    The recent surge in prices suggests markets are assuming there will be some disruption to Iran’s exports, Shum said. Trump has to decide by May 12 whether to bring back sanctions against the country.”
    “Oil Bursts Above $70, Threatens Economy” https://247wallst.com/energy-economy/2018/05/07/oil-bursts-above-70-threatens-economy/
    “We’re in the Money” (1933) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJOjTNuuEVw

    • On borrowed time says:

      (BBC): “These are the first skirmishes in a potential war between Israel and Iran that promises a fearful level of destruction – even by the standards of the modern Middle East.
      It could spread across Syria and Lebanon. Israeli cities would be hit, as might strategic targets in Iran. In its initial stages, it would be Israeli air power against the long-range missile forces of Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
      It is a conflict that needs to be averted and the time to do it is now. However Israel and Iran remain on a collision course.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44067804

  48. Calamitous says:

    Russia and Israel ‘agree deal’ to hold back Iranian militias so Assad can take border region https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/29/russia-israel-agree-deal-hold-back-iranian-militias-assad-prepares/
    Israeli Air Force (IAF) Lockheed Martin F-35I Adir multirole fighters have carried out their first airstrikes against enemy targets, IAF commander Major General Amikam Norkin revealed on 22 May. http://www.janes.com/article/80259/israeli-adirs-confirmed-as-first-f-35s-to-strike-targets
    “The decision to reveal both the image and the operational use of the F-35, including in Syria, was seen by many defense analysts as a subtle threat to Israel’s nemesis Iran, with which it is fighting an ongoing, mostly quiet war in Syria.” https://www.timesofisrael.com/ministers-reportedly-pan-air-force-chief-for-photo-of-f-35-over-lebanon/
    Israel to push for US recognition of occupied Golan Heights : Israel’s Intelligence Minister Israel Katz says that US recognition of its sovereignty is top of its agenda. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/israel-push-recognition-occupied-golan-heights-180524063529566.html

  49. Doosra says:

    Qatar’s foreign minister has dismissed reports of threats of military action by Saudi Arabia over Doha’s plans to acquire the Russian-made S-400 air defence system, saying Qatar’s decision to buy weapons is a “sovereign” one.
    The threats, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Monday, violates “international law and all the international norms”. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/qatari-fm-dismisses-reported-saudi-threats-400-deal-180605061648530.html Today marks one year since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, sparking the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf in years.
    Accusing Doha of supporting “terrorists” and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, Riyadh said it acted to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

  50. 3cardMonte says:

    The U.S. government has quietly called on Saudi Arabia and other OPEC producers to boost oil production by about 1 million barrels a day (Bloomberg) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-05/u-s-said-to-ask-opec-for-1-million-barrel-a-day-oil-output-hike “The rare request came after U.S. retail gasoline prices surged to their highest in more than three years and President Donald Trump publicly complained about OPEC policy and rising oil prices on Twitter. It also follows Washington’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran’s crude exports that had previously displaced about 1 million barrels a day, or just over 1 percent of global production.”
    OPEC meets in Vienna on June 22 to decide whether the group and non-OPEC producers, including Russia, should raise output to make up for any supply shortfall from Iran and Venezuela. Higher U.S. gas prices will have political consequences during the midterm election year – which could explain why Trump is now asking for more of a foreign commodity to be imported into the United States.

  51. Humbug says:

    The government of Qatar is taking the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the UN International Court of Justice over what it described as human rights violations, according to the official Qatar News Agency (QNA). https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/qatar-takes-uae-human-rights-court-blockade-180611103646133.html The move on Monday comes a year after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.

  52. Ad mati says:

    Why Is Israel Simulating Attacks on Its Own Nuclear Reactors? http://warisboring.com/why-is-israel-simulating-attacks-on-its-own-nuclear-reactors/
    “The Israel Atomic Energy Commission has been taking numerous steps to protect the nuclear reactors in Dimona and Nahal Sorek in light of assessments that Iran and Hezbollah see the reactors as preferred targets for missile attacks,” the left-leaning Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported on June 28 .
    The Nahal Sorek reactor is a small research reactor America supplied to Israel as part of the Atoms of Peace program. The Dimona reactor is a much larger reactor that Israel used to produce plutonium for its nuclear weapons program. The Dimona reactor is still operating, although it’s unclear if it is making plutonium. It is widely believed that Israel uses Dimona to produce tritium for boosted atomic weapons.”
    See also “How Israel’s Dimona Nuclear Reactor Was Concealed From the U.S.” (Haaretz 2015) “Documents revealed this week shed new light on the story of Israel’s nuclear program, and the role of John Kerry’s father in the saga.”

  53. Kubrā says:

    “‘Billion dollar ransom’: Did Qatar pay record sum?” (BBC 7/17/18) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44660369 “…The government that gave us this material – which is hostile to Qatar – believes the discussions between Sheikh Mohammed and Mr Khayareen were about $1bn in ransom plus $150m in side payments, or “kickbacks”. But the texts are ambiguous. It could be that the four towns deal was what was required to free the hostages, plus $150m in personal payments to the kidnappers.
    Qatari officials accept that the texts and voicemails are genuine, though they believe they have been edited “very selectively” to give a misleading impression.
    The transcripts were leaked, to the Washington Post, in April 2018. Our sources waited until officials in Doha issued denials. Then they sought to embarrass Qatar by releasing the original audio recordings.”

  54. Cassandra says:

    “Russia-Israel Deal Is Clear: Iran Away From Border, Assad’s Rule Accepted” (Haaretz, Israel 7/15/18) https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/.premium-russia-israel-deal-iran-away-from-border-assad-s-rule-accepted-1.6269407
    “On Thursday, Putin gave a public address to Russian diplomats in which he claimed that specific “useful agreements” were reached with Trump in their one-on-one meeting at the summit, a private meeting that Trump himself insisted on. Putin’s announcement came a day after his Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said that Trump had made “important verbal agreements” with Putin on arms control and other matters. The Russians, Antonov said, were ready to get moving on implementing them. The White House, meanwhile, has said nothing about what the two men may have agreed to in private, although Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he and Putin had discussed everything from nuclear proliferation to Syria, Ukraine, and trade, and that he looked forward to a second meeting with the Russian President soon, to follow up. On Thursday afternoon, the White House confirmed that Trump plans to invite Putin to Washington in the fall for another summit.
    Days after the Helsinki summit, Trump’s advisers have offered no information—literally zero—about any such agreements. His own government apparently remains unaware of any deals that Trump made with Putin, or any plans for a second meeting, and public briefings from the State Department and Pentagon have offered no elaboration except to make clear that they are embarrassingly uninformed days after the summit.” (The New Yorker 7/19/18) https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/the-trump-putin-summit-and-the-death-of-american-foreign-policy

  55. Warbucks says:

    “Could Iran really close the Strait of Hormuz?” (Deutsche Welle 7/23/18) https://www.dw.com/en/could-iran-really-close-the-strait-of-hormuz/a-44786581 “About a third of the world’s sea-borne petroleum passes through the Strait. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2016, some 18.5 million barrels of crude oil was sent through the waterway, a 9 percent increase on the previous year”
    “Oil prices could top $120 before year-end” (MarketWatch July 20, 2018) https://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-could-top-120-before-year-end-2018-07-20 “Oil prices have lost more than 8% this month, but investors should be aware that a roughly 40% spike from last week’s levels to more than $120 is possible this year.
    “This is a tight market. Supply and demand are close,” says Matt Badiali, senior research analyst at Banyan Hill. Global oil demand is expected to average 99.1 million barrels a day this year, but global oil supply stood at 98.8 million barrels a day in June, according to the International Energy Agency.”

  56. Regime-change says:

    “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates planned to launch a military operation against Qatar at the beginning of a diplomatic crisis that erupted in June last year but were stopped by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an act that may have played a key role in his dismissal.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/rex-tillerson-stopped-saudi-uae-attacking-qatar-180801125651449.html
    “According to the investigative news website The Intercept, the plan involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and with military support from the UAE, advancing 100km inland and seizing the Qatari capital.
    Based on information it said it received from a current member of the US intelligence community and two former Department of State officials, The Intercept said the coup, which was largely devised by Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s crown princes, “was likely some weeks away from being implemented”.

  57. العمى says:

    Saudi Arabia appeared to threaten Canada with a 9/11-style attack in a feud over human rights https://www.aol.com/article/news/2018/08/06/saudi-arabia-appeared-to-threaten-canada-with-a-911-style-attack-in-a-feud-over-human-rights/23496948/
    Saudi Arabia has already expelled Canada’s ambassador and frozen all new trade and investment with Ottawa in response to Global Affairs Canada tweeting last Friday that it was “gravely concerned” about a new wave of arrests in the Kingdom targeting women’s rights activists. The arrests last week included award-winning rights activist Samar Badawi, who is best known for challenging the country’s restrictive male guardianship laws.

  58. Warbucks says:

    “Seven years of relentless conflict in Syria have wreaked destruction that the United Nations said Wednesday has cost the country close to US$400 billion.” (Agence France-Presse 8/9/18) https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/cost-of-syria-war-destruction-at-388-billion-says-un-1897492
    The UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said the “volume of destruction in physical capital and its sectoral distribution” had been estimated at more than US$388 billion. The figure does not include “human losses resulting from deaths or the loss of human competences and skilled labor due to displacement.”
    More than half of Syria’s pre-war population has fled the country or been displaced internally over the past seven years.”

  59. Ante up says:

    “Turkey has secured a $15 billion investment from Qatar that could bolster its economy amid a widening dispute with the United States.” https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/15/news/economy/trade-war-trump-turkey/index.html The Turkish lira extended its gains against the US dollar to 6% following the announcement, which came on the same day that Turkey announced steep tariff hikes on American products including cars, alcohol and tobacco.
    The move is a response to trade actions announced last week by the Trump administration. It doubles retaliatory tariffs on American cars to 120% and on alcoholic drinks to 140%, according to a notice published by the Turkish government. Relations between Washington and Ankara have rapidly soured in recent weeks over Turkey’s detention of the American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who Turkey accuses of helping to plot a 2016 coup attempt against the Turkish president.

  60. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    Why Is Trump’s Favorite Publisher Selling Saudi Propaganda? The New Kingdom magazine is an American-made love letter to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Vanity Fair 4/24/18) https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/04/why-is-trumps-favorite-publisher-selling-saudi-propaganda
    “David Pecker, Chief of National Enquirer’s Publisher, Is Said to Get Immunity in Trump Inquiry” (NYT Aug 23, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/23/us/politics/david-pecker-immunity-trump.html “…After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions, The New York Times reported in March.”
    “…The tabloid publisher took along a special guest, Kacy Grine, a French businessman who advises one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men and sometimes acts as an intermediary between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Western businesses. The two men and other Pecker associates chatted with the president in the Oval Office and briefly met with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy, Jared Kushner.” (NYT 3/29/18) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/business/media/david-pecker-trump-saudi-arabia.html
    “A losing gambler: The raw truth about Mohammad bin Salman : The Saudi crown prince’s grand designs are disappearing in the desert and with them the ambitious reform claims” (Middle East Eye 8/24/18) https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/raw-truth-about-mohammed-bin-salman-407845504 See also “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Actually Sacha Baron Cohen : The comedian has been playing the royal as part of an elaborate TV prank” http://www.panarabiaenquirer.com/wordpress/saudi-crown-prince-mohammad-bin-salman-actually-sacha-baron-cohen/

    • Ataturk says:

      “Push to Execute Saudi Clerics Rattles Kingdom’s Power Structure : Prosecutors seek death sentences for influential imams, challenging alliance behind monarchy” https://www.wsj.com/articles/push-to-execute-saudi-clerics-rattles-kingdoms-power-structure-1537097475 “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his father, King Salman, have jailed activists, businessmen and government officials as part of their efforts to reshape Saudi society and economics. But Saudi clerics have long been a power unto themselves, with fame and influence beyond that of others caught up in recent crackdowns. The jailed clerics are among Saudi Arabia’s best-known and most popular Sunni Muslim religious figures. They were arrested a year ago in a roundup of imams with large followings for not openly supporting the government’s pressure campaign against Qatar, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing rights activists.”

  61. انفصاليين says:

    The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for an end to all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia following the bombing of a school bus last month that killed 51 people, including 40 children.
    The rights group called the attack an apparent war crime and said it places arms suppliers at “risk of complicity in war crimes”.
    HRW’s statement, released on Sunday, came just hours after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates admitted the bombing was “unjustified”.
    A probe, conducted by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels, concluded on Saturday that “mistakes” were made in the August 9 air raid in Saada province.
    (Al Jazeera 9/2/18) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/hrw-saudi-arms-sale-yemen-school-bus-attack-180902075014341.html Last year, the UN blacklisted the Saudi-UAE alliance for causing the majority of reported child deaths and injuries in Yemen. It also described the situation in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
    At least 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict, the UN said.

  62. Warbucks says:

    Syrian President Bashar Assad has given approval for the use of chlorine gas in the country’s last remaining rebel holdout in Idlib province, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal on Sunday. http://thehill.com/policy/defense/405856-syrias-assad-has-approved-use-of-chlorine-gas-in-idlib-report If Assad deploys the chemical against the approximately 70,000 remaining opposition fighters in Idlib, President Trump has privately threatened to deploy a massive attack against him, people familiar with the exchange told the Journal.
    The Washington Post reported Friday that the president had approved a new strategy in Syria that would station 2,000 U.S. soldiers there indefinitely. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-a-shift-trump-approves-an-indefinite-military-and-diplomatic-effort-in-syria-us-officials-say/2018/09/06/0351ab54-b20f-11e8-9a6a-565d92a3585d_story.html?utm_term=.cf6e0dddac55 Officials told the Journal that the president has not settled on the precise trigger for military action or if the U.S. response would target Syria’s Russian and Iranian allies.
    “I think it’s a very sad situation in Idlib, the province, what’s going on there,” Trump told reporters in the Oval office on Wednesday as he met the emir of Kuwait. “If it’s a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry. And the United States is going to get very angry, too.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/05/syria-donald-trump-idlib-slaughter-very-angry
    “Everything you need to know about the looming battle for Idlib : Who are the main players, what are the likely scenarios and what will be the human cost? All questions answered.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/looming-battle-idlib-180908142026400.html

  63. Blood bath says:

    “As he had done dozens of times before, Anas al-Diab rushed to film the aftermath of an airstrike in Syria’s Idlib province. The 22-year-old citizen journalist and rescuer with the White Helmets volunteer group snapped photographs of a leveled potato chip factory in Khan Sheikhoun on Friday as his friends and colleagues hosed down the flames. Suddenly, another explosion hit. This time Diab became a victim, but he kept his camera rolling.” (CNN 9/11/18) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDOwA3d4ddE

  64. 3cardMonte says:

    CNBC 9/23/18: OPEC’s leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest oil-producer ally outside the group, Russia, ruled out on Sunday any immediate, additional increase in crude output, effectively rebuffing U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for action to cool the market [before the critical midterm elections take place in the US]. Benchmark Brent oil reached $80 a barrel this month, prompting Trump to reiterate on Thursday his demand that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries lower prices. The price rally mainly stemmed from a decline in oil exports from OPEC member Iran due to fresh U.S. sanctions imposed by Trump.
    Boomberg 9/22/18: The world has changed. OPEC is no longer relevant in the way it once was. Though the group has never had more members in its 58 years of existence, the volume of crude it produces represents just a third of all the oil extracted in the world — the smallest share it has commanded in almost three decades. Not exactly the “monopoly” railed at by Trump.
    The group’s ability to influence oil prices by either boosting or cutting output has also waned. Spare capacity available to lift production at short notice has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of a dwindling band of Persian Gulf Arab countries. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-09-23/opec-like-a-dying-star-is-about-to-go-supernova
    “We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!” Trump wrote on Twitter (5:13 AM – Sep 20, 2018)

    • نهاركم سعيد says:

      “Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members have been discussing on the quiet a half-a-million-barrel increase [per day] in their combined oil production to keep a lid on oil prices, unnamed sources told Reuters amid growing concern that the Iran sanctions will create a serious shortage in global supply. The increase could be shared by non-OPEC producers as well, the sources said. The information contradicts the official Saudi stance expressed at the OPEC+ meeting in Algiers last weekend but, said the sources, Riyadh did not want to make the discussions public in order to avoid upsetting those OPEC members that did not have enough spare production capacity to deploy quickly enough to weather the effects of the Iran sanctions.” (Oilprice.com 9/27/18) https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/OPEC-Secretly-Discusses-500000-Bpd-Production-Boost.html See also Reuters: “Oil prices LCOc1 rose to their highest since 2014 above $80 per barrel this week on fears that a steep decline in Iranian oil exports because of new U.S. sanctions will deepen an oil deficit, along with production declines in Venezuela. However, OPEC’s latest report released at the weekend forecast that its non-OPEC rivals led by the United States would increase output by 2.4 million bpd in 2019 while global oil demand should grow by just 1.5 million bpd. That, Saudi thinking goes, could create a large surplus of crude next year, especially if a stronger dollar and weaker emerging market economies reduce global demand for oil.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-oil-opec-saudi/saudi-arabia-in-short-term-oil-fix-fears-extra-u-s-supply-next-year-idUSKCN1M70UW

  65. Baychimo says:

    “Iran’s oil tankers are starting to disappear from global satellite tracking systems with just under six weeks to go until U.S. sanctions are due to hit the country’s exports, making it harder to keep track of the nation’s sales.” (Rigzone 9/25/18) https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/iranian_oil_tankers_disappearing_from_tracking_systems-25-sep-2018-157026-article/
    VesselFinder: Free AIS Ship Tracking of Marine Traffic https://www.vesselfinder.com/ (interactive map)

    • Jenkins' Ear says:

      The Saudi-led coalition has publicly identified an Iranian cargo ship that is loitering in the Red Sea as a military threat for the first time: a move that could be a precursor to an attempt to board the vessel. (Jane’s 9/28/18) https://www.janes.com/article/83413/saudi-led-coalition-says-iran-operating-command-ship-in-red-sea In his regular briefing on 24 September, coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said the Iranian-flagged general cargo ship Saviz is used exclusively for military purposes, including to provide command and control and to transfer weapons to other vessels, three of which he identified, but none of their names correspond with internationally registered commercial vessels.

  66. Brisance says:

    “Vice President Pence recently pressured the US agency for international development (USAID) to appoint a special liaison to Iraqi Christians. This may not capture the same headlines as the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination fight or the new NAFTA, but it could have significant—and unexpected—implications for Middle East stability. Pence’s move was part of a year-long fight over US aid policy towards Iraq’s religious minorities, with several conservatives voices claiming USAID and the United Nations were failing to help groups persecuted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In response, Pence has pressured USAID to change its approach.”
    Last October, Vice President Pence said the United States would redirect aid from the United Nations and directly help Iraqi Christians. He followed this up with an announcement that the United States is dedicating aid to charities trying to help Iraqi Christians. The recent appointment of a liaison to work “directly” with Iraqi churches on reconstruction efforts is the latest development in this process.
    Pence was responding to pressure from conservative religious freedom advocates and politicians.”

    • Quid pro quo says:

      A Turkish prosecutor called for a jail sentence of 10 years for a US Christian pastor on Friday, but also asked the court to lift judicial controls, a move that would allow Andrew Brunson to leave the country immediately.
      If the court agrees to the requests, Brunson could return back to the United States immediately and thus end the friction over his case that caused a crisis in relations between NATO allies Ankara and Washington.
      With Washington slapping sanctions on Ankara, the crisis also sparked a crash in the Turkish lira in August that exposed Turkey’s economic fragility. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/turkish-prosecutor-seeks-10-year-jail-term-pastor-181012073353582.html

  67. Hacked2pieces says:

    “Secret recordings give insight into Saudi attempt to silence critics” (Washington Post Oct 17, 2018) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/secret-recordings-give-insight-into-saudi-attempt-to-silence-critics/2018/10/17/fb333378-ce49-11e8-ad0a-0e01efba3cc1_story.html?utm_term=.f6b3af06647f
    “A brief timeline of how Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.” (Al Jazeera News 10/17/18) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/jamal-khashoggi-case-timeline-181017155740442.html

  68. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    “Police in the US say they are still investigating the deaths of two sisters from Saudi Arabia whose bodies were found duct-taped together by the riverbank of New York City’s Hudson last week.” (Al Jazeera News 11/1/18) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/police-probe-deaths-saudi-sisters-duct-taped-181101114658673.html “The day before the bodies were discovered, the sisters’ mother told US detectives that she had received a phone call from the Saudi embassy in Washington ordering the family to leave the US, New York police said. The sisters had reportedly applied for political asylum in the US.
    Saudi Arabia’s consulate general in New York City did not comment on the claims, saying it had “appointed an attorney to follow the case closely.”
    “Why Saudi Arabia hates Al Jazeera so much” (Washington Post 6/23/17) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/06/23/why-saudi-arabia-hates-al-jazeera-so-much/?utm_term=.5c179b1e9122

  69. Realpolitik says:

    “A Turkish opinion columnist on Thursday said the CIA had wiretapped a phone call in which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called for the Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi to be silenced “as soon as possible.” https://www.businessinsider.com/turkey-cia-has-a-wiretap-nailing-saudis-prince-in-the-khashoggi-case-2018-11 “The news, citing unnamed sources and published to Turkey’s Hurriyet news website, comes shortly after President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a frantic proclamation saying the US would stand by Saudi Arabia despite the possibility that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s killing.” http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/cia-holds-smoking-gun-phone-call-of-saudi-crown-prince-on-khashoggi-murder-columnist-139079 Also from the Turkish news website: “Gruesome quotes from Khashoggi recordings published for first time” http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/gruesome-quotes-from-khashoggi-recordings-published-for-first-time-139014 Includes link to “Amid Khashoggi questions, Trump won’t listen to death tape”
    White House Press Release, November 20, 2018. Subject: Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia https://publicpool.kinja.com/subject-statement-from-president-donald-j-trump-on-st-1830566478

  70. Hey, Rube! says:

    President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, directed administration officials to inflate numbers for a supposed $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, ABC News reported on Monday. https://thehill.com/policy/defense/418290-kushner-pushed-trump-administration-officials-to-inflate-value-of-saudi-arms
    Two U.S. officials and three former White House officials told the network that Kushner pressed the State and Defense departments to pump up the number to $110 billion by including aspirational arms sales.
    Saudi Arabia so far has only signed “Letters of Offer and Acceptance” (LOAs) for $14.5 billion in sales of helicopters, tanks, ships, weapons and training, according to the Pentagon.
    That figure was reportedly inflated, however, to attempt to solidify the new alliance between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia and paint a clear victory for the president’s first foreign trip last year.
    The military sales have been thrown into the spotlight in recent months as Trump has doubled down on diplomatic and financial ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia following the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  71. Kill4Peace says:

    “At least five of the 37 Republican Senators who voted against advancing a resolution limiting the United States’ involvement in the war in Yemen have received campaign contributions from pro-Saudi lobbying groups.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/pro-saudi-lobbyists-paid-5-senators-voted-yemen-bill-181129075933213.html
    “Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Richard Burr, Mike Crapo and Tim Scott all received financial contributions from firms representing Saudi interests between 2016 and 2017, according to a recent investigation by the Centre for International Policy (CIP). https://www.ciponline.org/images/uploads/actions/Saudi_Lobby_How_the_Kingdom_Wins_in_Washington.pdf
    All five Republicans voted on Wednesday against advancing the resolution, which, if passed, would force the US to limit its support for the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen.
    The Trump administration has threatened to veto the resolution if it passes.”

  72. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    “Putin and Mohammed bin Salman share a high five” (as President Trump enters in background) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sggVhrwSAFs
    “Macron heard warning bin Salman after Saudi crown prince tells him not to worry: ‘I am worried’
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/macron-mbs-video-g20-summit-khashoggi-france-saudi-arabia-mohammad-bin-salman-worry-a8661386.html France’s Elysee Palace says video shows ‘contrast between MbS’s face sporting an embarrassed smile and the president’s stern face’, during extraordinary exchange about murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Yemen war.”

  73. تَفَضَّلْ says:

    “Qatar to withdraw from OPEC in January 2019 : Gulf nation’s energy minister says Doha wants to focus on its natural gas production in the coming years.” (Al Jazeera news) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/qatar-withdraw-opec-january-2019-181203061900372.html Qatar is the first Gulf country to leave the bloc of oil-producing countries.
    Al Jazeera’s correspondent Charlotte Bellis said that Qatar made the decision just days ahead of a December 6 OPEC meeting.
    “They say it has nothing to do with the blockade on Qatar and that they have been thinking about it for several months now,” Bellis said, referring to a diplomatic blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain.
    Qatar is the world’s biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG), producing almost 30 percent of the world total.

    • Ante up says:

      Qatar Petroleum (QP) is looking to invest at least $20bn in the United States, its chief executive has said, after the Gulf Arab state quit OPEC, freeing Doha from potential legal risks in the US. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/qatar-petroleum-invest-20bn-181216095029046.html
      Citing industry sources, Reuters news agency reported that Kaabi was concerned that membership of the body could be a stumbling block for QP’s ambitions in the US, where it has one of the world’s biggest LNG terminals. Proposed US legislation known as NOPEC (No Oil Producing Exporting Cartels Act) could expose OPEC members to antitrust lawsuits in the US, while President Donald Trump has also been a vocal critic of OPEC, blaming it for high oil prices.

  74. pro forma says:

    CIA Director Gina Haspel will brief Senate committee leaders on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday after members of both parties expressed outrage over the absence of intelligence officials at a briefing last week. (Politico) https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/03/cia-chief-brief-senators-khashoggi-killing-1041044
    The spy chief will meet with top leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a source familiar with the matter. The meeting comes ahead of a scheduled vote on whether the Senate will vote to pull support for the civil war in Yemen.
    According to Al Jazeera a Reuters source added that the Senate Intelligence Committee already had been briefed by the CIA chief and a Senate source also said Senate leaders would also participate in the briefing, which is scheduled for 11:30am local time (16:30 GMT).
    The CIA would not confirm or deny whether the briefing would take place.
    Glenn Carle, former CIA officer, said he does not anticipate any new revelations from Haspel.
    “I don’t expect that she would go any further than anything that we know – she will never reveal in a briefing like this the sources or the methods, but she will reveal the substance,” he told Al Jazeera. Carle said the appearance is an attempt by the Trump administration “to get out from some of the pressure that is now under from the Congress” and an effort by Congress “to reassure its prerogatives”. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/cia-chief-senators-khashoggi-murder-reports-181203230703353.html

  75. SITREP says:

    Syria’s army says it has entered the flashpoint city of Manbij, according to state media, after the country’s main Kurdish armed group invited government forces to take control of the northern area and protect it from a threatened Turkish offensive. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/syria-army-enters-manbij-state-media-181228092705808.html
    “President Donald Trump’s declaration in a phone call with Tayyip Erdogan that he was pulling U.S. troops from Syria has stunned Turkey and left it scrambling to respond to the changing battlefield on its southern border.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey/syrian-surprise-how-trumps-phone-call-changed-the-war-idUSKCN1OR0PW
    “The top American commander of the Defeat-ISIS mission in Iraq and Syria was left without direction on what to tell the main U.S. partner force on the ground in Syria after he was ordered to begin preparations to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country.” https://thedefensepost.com/2018/12/23/us-syria-withdrawal-general-sdf-reassurance/
    Also: “President Trump’s sudden orders to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan — and Defense Secretary James Mattis’ subsequent resignation — have left even the most high-ranking U.S. military officials questioning what they should be telling their troops on the ground, the Wall Street Journal reports. “I don’t think anybody really knows exactly what’s going to happen. I’ve read the same stuff in the newspaper you did, I have a little more knowledge than that, but not a whole lot more.” Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps. https://www.axios.com/trump-syria-afghanistan-withdrawal-military-generals-confusion-f95d5100-fb62-4f4f-a590-3c7e1cbadb6b.html

  76. Update says:

    Turkey’s Erdogan rips Bolton’s comments on Kurds, refuses to meet https://thehill.com/policy/defense/424278-turkeys-erdogan-rips-boltons-comments-on-kurds-refuses-to-meet Bolton said Sunday that U.S. forces would not leave Syria until the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is fully defeated and the Trump administration receives assurances that U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters would be protected.
    Bolton during a visit to Israel over the weekend said that there is no concrete timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria, contradicting Trump’s unexpected announcement last month that Syrian troops would be pulled out “now.” Bolton said U.S. forces “won’t be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone.”
    “‘No different from my original statements’: Trump denies changes to Syria exit plan” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/no-different-from-my-original-statements-trump-denies-changes-to-syria-exit-plan/2019/01/07/d93922f2-128f-11e9-90a8-136fa44b80ba_story.html?utm_term=.9b5f5c58fbb3 and/or Trump denies backtracking on Syria, even as withdrawal possibly delayed” https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/424138-trump-denies-backtracking-on-syria-even-as-withdrawal-possibly

    • 3card Monte says:

      “Analysis: Bolton’s Syria snafu reveals oil’s biggest risk” (Bloomberg News/Al Jazeera 1/9/19)
      https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/analysis-bolton-syria-snafu-reveals-oil-biggest-risk-190109054012984.html “…the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas just published the latest edition of its quarterly energy survey [see link] and quoted one anonymous oil executive saying this:
      “The administration’s head fake with the Saudis regarding Iran sanctions, followed by leverage on Saudi Arabia with the Khashoggi murder, have compromised oil price market dynamics. The volatility in commodity and capital markets is unsettling, along with the challenge to the administration’s ongoing leadership posed by the Democratic majority in the House. The administration is our largest uncertainty in our business at this point, as they want low oil prices and will do everything in their power to deliver low oil prices.”
      …in the same Dallas Fed survey, almost half the respondents said their primary goal in 2019 was to grow production. Just 7 percent prioritized returning capital to shareholders.”

    • Update says:

      Turkey will go ahead with an offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria if the United States delays the withdrawal of its troops from the war-torn country, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said. “If the [withdrawal] is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” he told NTV channel on Thursday.
      On Wednesday, Cavusoglu said the US is facing difficulties in parting ways with the Kurdish fighters it allied with to fight the ISIL. “It is hard to break up with a terrorist organisation after being involved with it at this level,” Cavusoglu said.” (Al Jazeera 1/10/19) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/turkey-launch-syria-attack-delays-troop-pullout-190110092123874.html
      Flashback: in 1915 the “Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens – an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches”. https://web.archive.org/web/20070604053728/http://www.genocidewatch.org/TurkishPMIAGSOpenLetterreArmenia6-13-05.htm

  77. Warbucks says:

    The White House’s National Security Council asked the Pentagon last year for plans for launching a military attack against Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported early Sunday, citing current and former US officials. https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/13/politics/white-house-iran-airstrikes-national-security-council/index.html
    See also: An interview with Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s chief of staff. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/opinion/gadi-eisenkot-israel-iran-syria.html
    “We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit.”
    So says Gadi Eisenkot about the Jewish state’s undeclared and unfinished military campaign against Iran and its proxies in Syria and Lebanon. For his final interview as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces before he retires next week, the general has decided to claim responsibility and take at least some of the credit.
    Eisenkot’s central intellectual contribution in fighting that campaign is the concept of “the campaign between wars” — the idea that continuous, kinetic efforts to degrade the enemy’s capabilities both lengthens the time between wars and improves the chances of winning them when they come. He also believes that Israel needed to focus its efforts on its deadliest enemy, Iran, as opposed to secondary foes such as Hamas in Gaza.

  78. Crapshoot says:

    After lengthy meetings with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham called for a slower, smarter withdrawal of American troops from Syria to avoid setting off a broader war and a nightmare for Turkey. (NYT 1/19/19) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/19/world/middleeast/turkey-lindsey-graham.html
    Mr. Graham has long criticized the United States’ policy of arming and training the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in Syria, also known as Y.P.G., saying that it works against the interests of Turkey, which is a strategic ally of the United States and NATO. The Y.P.G. is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey. The United States and Turkey have both designated that group a terrorist organization, saying that it works against the interests of Turkey, which is a strategic ally of the United States and NATO.
    President Donald Trump tweeted last Sunday “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit the Kurds.” (1/13/19)
    “What is the difference between the PKK, PYD, YPG, KRG, KDP, and the Peshmerga?” https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-the-PKK-PYD-YPG-KRG-KDP-and-the-Peshmerga See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Protection_Units and the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation,” or “FETÖ,” the Turkish government’s name for a religious movement led by Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen that is blamed for the coup attempt in July 2016 https://ahvalnews.com/arrested-lawyers/turkish-judiciary-association-head-murat-arslan-sentenced-10-years

    • kem göz says:

      “Turkey is ready to take over security in Manbij, a town in northeastern Syria held by Kurdish forces where four US personnel died in a bombing last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his US counterpart in a phone call. A statement by the Turkish presidency said Erdogan on Sunday told Donald Trump the attack in Manbij was a provocation by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group to influence the expected US troop withdrawal from the war-torn country.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/turkey-ready-syria-manbij-erdogan-tells-trump-190121011835123.html Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told Al Jazeera that Erdogan did not want to talk to the security and foreign policy teams around Trump, as these officials want US troops to stay in Syria. In its description of the call, the White House made no mention of Erdogan’s offer to take over security in Manbij but said the two men agreed to keep pursuing a negotiated settlement for northeastern Syria that meets both nations’ security needs. Turkey has said the US administration has been incoherent about the withdrawal process since Trump’s December 19 [withdrawal] announcement.

  79. Rev 13:18 says:

    “Top Trump appointees promoted selling nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over objections from national security officials, House Democratic report says “(Washington Post 2/19/19) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/top-trump-appointees-promoted-selling-nuclear-power-plants-to-saudi-arabia-over-objections-from-national-security-officials-house-democratic-report-says/2019/02/19/6a719762-3456-11e9-af5b-b51b7ff322e9_story.html?utm_term=.1dc818a3a03e The 24-page report released Tuesday morning by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, notes that one of the power plant manufacturers that could benefit from a nuclear deal, Westinghouse Electric, is a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, the company that provided financial relief to the family of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser. Brookfield Asset Management took a 99-year lease on the family’s deeply indebted New York City property at 666 Fifth Avenue.

  80. Footnote says:

    MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow unveils a bizarre secret deal between the Saudis and Nixon’s ex-vice president (The Week 2/22/19) https://theweek.com/speedreads/825168/msnbcs-rachel-maddow-unveils-bizarre-secret-deal-between-saudis-nixons-exvice-president “…”The jihad-congratulations reference there appears to be a reference to the fact that the Saudi crown prince, just days earlier, had publicly called for a holy war against Israel,” Maddow explained. And the Saudis appear to have given him at least $100,000. “Less than 10 years out of office, a former American vice president orchestrated a secret financial deal with Saudi Arabia to fight Jews in this country,” she reiterated. “That seems like something that should matter even today,” when the same Saudi royal family is in control.”

  81. Plot sickens says:

    Erik Prince, the founder of the private American security company Blackwater, has admitted to meeting with members of the Trump campaign in August 2016 after, according to a public transcript, apparently failing to disclose the gathering during his testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee last year. (Al Jazeera 3/8/19) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/erik-prince-acknowledges-2016-trump-tower-meeting-time-190308194101138.html
    When asked by Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head programme about the August 3, 2016, Trump Tower meeting that reportedly took place between Prince, Donald Trump campaign officials, an Israeli social media specialist and an emissary for two Gulf princes, the former Blackwater CEO did not deny the meeting took place. “We were there … to talk about Iran policy,” Prince said when pressed by Hasan.
    According to the New York Times, that meeting was attended by Prince, Donald Trump Jr, George Nader, a former Blackwater employee and emissary for the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Stephen Miller, then a top aide to the Trump campaign and currently a senior policy adviser to the president and Joel Zamel, whose company Psy-Group employed former Israeli intelligence operatives and specialised in social media manipulation and was reportedly contacted by Rick Gates, a top Trump campaign official, for proposals for social media manipulation to help Trump win the election.

    Prince, however, apparently did not disclose information about the meeting when testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on November 30, 2017, according to a public transcript. https://docs.house.gov/meetings/IG/IG00/20171130/106661/HHRG-115-IG00-Transcript-20171130.pdf
    Head to Head “Blackwater’s Erik Prince: Iraq, privatizing wars and Trump : Mehdi Hasan challenges the Blackwater founder on his firm’s role in Iraq and his new plan to privatize the Afghan war.” is available online at https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/headtohead/2019/03/blackwater-erik-prince-iraq-privatising-wars-trump-190307144602723.html

  82. FEH says:

    JERUSALEM – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a Christian broadcast network that it’s “possible” that President Donald Trump is like Queen Esther, who saved Jews in the Old Testament. https://www.foxnews.com/world/pompeo-says-trump-is-like-biblical-queen-who-saved-jews The interviewer asked if Trump is “like Queen Esther,” who interceded with her husband to save Jews in what was then Persia and is now Iran. Trump has backed new sanctions on Iran aimed at reducing its ability to threaten Israel. Pompeo said in response that “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible.” He also vowed new measures against what he said was the “threat” from Iran. The U.S. Secretary of State arrived in Lebanon on Friday amid strong regional condemnation of President Donald Trump’s declaration that it’s time the U.S. recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
    (Middle East Monitor, Oct 2006) “…In 1967, when Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, it also invaded Syria’s Golan Heights. More than 130,000 native Syrians living in the area were either transferred forcibly from their homes, or compelled to flee by the threat of the war. This represented most of the population of the territory. Israel then set about destroying villages in the Golan. Within a month of the occupation, Israel began building settlements on the rubble; these were and are all illegal under international law. The Syrian inhabitants of those villages were forbidden by Israel from returning to their land. The situation in many respects is very much like Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, albeit on a smaller scale. In 1981 – in defiance of international law and the UN – Israel annexed the Golan, designating it to be part of itself according to its own laws and practice. This is a move that it has not made in the West Bank and Gaza, because it would come under immense international pressure to grant the 4.5 million Palestinians in those occupied territories a vote in the Israeli parliament. This is something that Israel, the so-called “Jewish state”, will never countenance, unless it is compelled to do so by outside pressure. Since then, Israel has increased its occupation of the Golan incrementally. During the current war in Syria, Israel has commenced exploratory drilling for oil in the territory. The parent company of Afek, which is carrying out the drilling, includes on its advisory board former US vice-president Dick Cheney, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Larry Summers, the former secretary of the US treasury.” https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161031-under-cover-of-war-israel-expands-its-occupation-of-syria/
    (Vanity Fair 3/11/19) “Trump Tells G.O.P. Donors Democrats “Hate Jewish People” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/03/trump-tells-gop-donors-democrats-hate-jewish-people

  83. Escalation says:

    President Donald Trump has declared on more than one occasion that he’s smarter than America’s military leaders. And with his unprecedented decision Monday to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist group, he’s setting up another test of that thesis. Trump chose to overrule the Pentagon after National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advised that the top brass’ warnings about risks to U.S. troops are overblown, several officials with direct knowledge of the deliberations told POLITICO.
    The president’s move came despite Pentagon officials’ warnings that it could lead to retaliatory attacks against U.S. troops by Iranian-backed forces in the Middle East and threats from Iranian leaders that U.S. troops could face “consequences.”
    “Like most things Iran-related, DoD opposed,” said a senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe ongoing tensions between the White House National Security Council, which has mounted a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, and a Pentagon brass that has cautioned against unnecessary provocations. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/08/trump-iran-revolutionary-guard-pentagon-1261448

    • Khâli bandi says:

      Iran’s Supreme National Council has moved swiftly to brand the United States as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, in a tit-for-tat response to President Donald Trump’s designation of the Islamic Republic’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “foreign terrorist organisation”.
      In a statement carried on Monday by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, the council said it also declared all US forces operating in the Middle East “terrorist groups”. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/iran-responds-kind-trump-irgc-terrorist-designation-190408172250785.html

    • Déjà Vu says:

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left open the possibility on Wednesday of entering a conflict with Iran without first seeking explicit congressional approval, telling senators “there is no doubt there is a connection” between Al Qaeda and Iran. (NYT 4/10/19) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/10/world/middleeast/pompeo-congress-iran.html
      Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked Pompeo if the Trump administration believes it has the authority go to war with Iran under Congress’ 2001 authorization to strike terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11. “I’d prefer to leave that to lawyers,” Pompeo responded.
      Paul pressed further, implying the State Department’s decision, announced Monday, to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist organization was intended to lay the groundwork for a military strike – using the 2001 law as justification.
      “There is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda. Period, full stop,” Pompeo said, referring to the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks.
      “You do not have our permission to go to war in Iran,” Paul shot back. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/04/10/no-war-iran-rand-paul-warns-pompeo-during-tense-senate-grilling-central-america-north-korea/3418794002/ Pompeo also repeatedly refused to say whether the Trump administration would oppose Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex the West Bank – or whether the U.S. still supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  84. Warbucks says:

    Oil prices soar after Trump tightens his squeeze on Iran, while Tehran threatens to close one of the world’s most important shipping lanes in retaliation https://www.thisisinsider.com/oil-prices-trump-tightens-squeeze-on-iran-2019-4
    The White House said on Monday that the US, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market”. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/expected-sanctions-waivers-iran-oil-imports-190422101257907.html
    Meanwhile, “the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ navy said Iran would close the Strait if Tehran is barred from using it. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-oil-exports/iran-says-ready-for-us-waivers-end-as-guards-threaten-to-shut-hormuz-idUSKCN1RY0MK
    “According to international law, the Strait of Hormuz is a marine passageway and if we are barred from using it, we will shut it down,” the semi-official news agency Fars quoted General Alireza Tangsiri as saying on Monday.
    “In case of any threat, we will have not even an iota of doubt to protect and defend the Iranian waters,” Tangsiri added.

  85. Brain worms says:

    “Twitter shuts down 5,000 pro-Trump bots retweeting anti-Mueller report invective : Bots were tied to account formerly used for pro-Saudi messaging.” https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/04/twitter-shuts-down-network-of-5000-possibly-saudi-pro-trump-bots/ “This is not the first time a campaign tied to Saudi interests resulted in a takedown of Twitter accounts. Last October, a group of accounts propagated messages praising Saudi leadership and used a hashtag that translates from Arabic as “We all trust Mohammad Bin Salman.” The accounts also denounced reports tying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi as “false statements” by those “waging a war against the Kingdom.” And according to a New York Times report last October, the Saudis had a spy working inside Twitter to help track dissent on the platform—and had an army of over 100 people working as a “troll farm” to go after dissidents like Khashoggi online. But this latest effort appears to have no connection to those efforts.”
    On Tuesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly explained to Trump that his follower count might fall as the company deletes spam accounts and bots https://www.businessinsider.com/twitter-ceo-reportedly-tells-donald-trump-lost-followers-are-bots-2019-4 This is what the most powerful person in the world was preoccupied with yesterday.

  86. ProPublica says:

    The government of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly helped Saudi citizens evade prosecutors and the police in the United States and flee back to their homeland after being accused of serious crimes here, current and former U.S. officials said. https://www.propublica.org/article/saudi-fugitives-accused-of-serious-crimes-get-help-to-flee-while-u-s-officials-look-the-other-way
    The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have been aware of the Saudi actions for at least a decade, officials said. But successive American administrations have avoided confronting the government in Riyadh out of concern that doing so might jeopardize U.S. interests, particularly Saudi cooperation in the fight against Islamist terrorism, current and former officials said.
    See related stories @ https://projects.oregonlive.com/saudi/

    • Little Seizure says:

      Trump: ‘Saudi Arabia buys a lot, I don’t want to lose them’ : Citing Riyadh’s large purchases from American companies, US president reiterates support for the Saudi monarchy at a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) rally. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/trump-saudi-arabia-buys-lot-don-lose-190428094048617.html
      Trump also described a negotiation tactic he reportedly used to get more money from the kingdom for the United States’ military support.
      “We lose $4.5 billion on a country to defend them, and they’re rich,” Trump said.
      “So I called them. I said: listen, no good. They were in a state of shock because they’ve never got a call like this in 25 years, right,” he said as the crowd cheered.
      Trump went on: “I said we’re losing $4.5 billion every year, we can’t do this anymore. This is crazy. He [King Salman] got very upset, angry, said this is not fair. I said, of course, this is fair. He said we’ll give you $500 million more … I said I want more. We argued. So they paid us more than $500 million for one phone call, it took me one call.”

      • Will B. says:

        “Why Trump Is Playing the Tough Guy With the Saudis Now” https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/04/trump-saudis-opec-salman.html “…Trump told reporters on Friday that he had “called up OPEC” to tell the organization to take action to bring down fuel prices, but officials at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said they had had no conversations with him. Trump then clarified in a tweet that he “spoke to Saudi Arabia and others about increasing oil flow.” This was also news to Saudi officials, one of whom told the Wall Street Journal that Trump “may have been referring to his frequent tweets calling on OPEC and Saudi Arabia to lower oil prices.” Trump did speak on the phone with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman earlier this month, in a conversation the White House says focused on Iran and human rights issues. There haven’t been any media reports of conversations between Trump and King Salman since last year.”
        (Bloomberg 4/29/19): “Trump Wants Cheap Oil. IMF Data Show Saudis Need Higher Prices” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-29/trump-wants-cheap-oil-imf-data-show-saudis-need-higher-prices According to International Monetary Fund data, Saudi Arabia needs oil prices around $85 a barrel to balance its budget. “Saudi Arabia’s fiscal break-even could be as high as $95 per barrel this year, but the IMF is probably assuming higher cash transfers from Saudi Aramco to the Ministry of Finance,’’ said Ziad Daoud, Bloomberg’s chief economist in the Middle East. Meanwhile the Kingdom is leading OPEC efforts to prop up crude prices.

  87. Santayana says:

    “Why did Bush go to war in Iraq? No, it wasn’t because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.” https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/bush-war-iraq-190318150236739.html
    …In a 2002 column, Jonah Goldberg coined the “Ledeen Doctrine”, named after neoconservative historian Michael Ledeen. The “doctrine” states: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” https://www.nationalreview.com/2002/04/baghdad-delenda-est-part-two-jonah-goldberg/

  88. Sunnis & Shias says:

    Houthi drone attack ‘hits arms depot’ at Saudi airport : Yemeni rebels hit airport in Najran with armed drone, a week after a coordinated drone attack on Saudi oil pipeline. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/houthi-drone-attack-hits-arms-depot-saudi-airport-najran-190521080525385.html
    “Trump threatens Iran’s ‘end’ if it seeks fight with the US” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/trump-threatens-iran-seeks-fight-190520003050499.html Just days after saying he was prepared for talks, United States President Donald Trump has issued a direct threat to Iran, suggesting that the Islamic republic will be destroyed if it attacks his country’s interests.
    “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday. He did not clarify what threats he meant.”
    Trump’s ‘genocidal taunts’ will not end Iran – Zarif https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48338168 Writing on Twitter on Monday, Iran’s foreign minister said the US president was being “goaded” by what he called the “B Team” – a reference to US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

  89. CRM 114 says:

    “Iran’s Zarif: US playing ‘dangerous game’ in Gulf showdown : Foreign minister slams US move to shift military hardware to the region, warning it increases the risk of ‘accidents’.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/iran-fm-playing-dangerous-game-gulf-showdown-190521133132568.html
    “Nuclear war risk highest since WWII, UN arms research chief warns : Senior UN security expert says all states with nuclear weapons have nuclear modernization programs under way.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/nuclear-war-risk-highest-wwii-arms-research-chief-warns-190522010914869.html

  90. Gonivim says:

    “Israel’s government went on a spending binge on its illegal West Bank settlements following the election of US President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by AP news agency. (Al Jazeera 5/15/19) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/israeli-settlements-funding-jumped-trump-official-data-190515092210050.html
    The government statistics, released by Israel’s finance ministry, showed Israeli spending in the West Bank in 2017, Trump’s first year in office, rose to about $459m, from about $330m in 2016.
    The 2017 figures were the highest in the 15 years of data provided by the finance ministry, though spending also climbed in 2016.
    Hagit Ofran, a researcher with the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, said it appeared that Trump’s election had emboldened Israel’s pro-settler government.
    “They are not shy any more with what they are doing,” she said. “They feel more free to do whatever they want.”
    Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, offered even sharper criticism.
    “This proves that the current US administration encouraged settlement activities,” he said.
    Since capturing the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, Israel has settled about 700,000 of its citizens in the two areas, which are considered occupied territory under international law.”

  91. Bloodmoney says:

    “Saudi Arabia buying new missile technology from China: Report” (Al Jazeera 6/6/19) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/saudi-buying-ballistic-missile-technology-china-report-190606054204929.html “Former US official calls media report ‘significant and alarming’ as concerns grow over new arms race in Middle East.”
    “Saudi Arabia continues to acquire arms from Eastern Europe” (Jane’s 360 June 5, 2019) https://www.janes.com/article/89049/saudi-arabia-continues-to-acquire-arms-from-eastern-europe “Saudi Arabia has continued to acquire Soviet-type weapons and equipment that are not known to be used by its own armed forces, according to reports released by the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNCROCA). …The UNROCA reports also show that the Saudis have received sufficient infantry weapons between 2014-18 to equip several divisions.”
    Photo: “President Donald Trump holds a chart of military hardware sales as he welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office, at the White House, on March 20, 2018 https://d.newsweek.com/en/full/1116624/rts1ohfz.jpg?w=737&f=725db089cbd88b065f360121658bb8fb See also video @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTM6yEDc1DE
    From 2013 to 2017, Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer—only behind India—with more than 98 percent of its imports coming from the U.S. and European states, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) March 2018 report. See also “Global arms trade: USA increases dominance; arms flows to the Middle East surge” (SIPRI 11 March 2019) https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2019/global-arms-trade-usa-increases-dominance-arms-flows-middle-east-surge-says-sipri

    • مَكْتُوب says:

      “Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son in law and senior adviser, intervened personally in an attempt to stop Saudi Arabia embarking on a new wave of executions, as Washington attempts to build a coalition against Iran.” (Middle East Eye 6/17/19) https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/kushner-asked-mohammed-bin-salman-stay-saudi-wave-executions “Kushner called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this month, a few days after CNN broadcast exclusive footage of Murtaja Queriris, a juvenile on death row, participating in a 2011 youth protest at the age of 10, two Saudi sources with knowledge of the conversation told Middle East Eye. Queriris, who was subsequently arrested three years later over his involvement in protests and condemned to death, has had his sentence commuted to 12 years in prison, a Saudi official quoted by the Reuters news agency said on Saturday.
      …However, there is no word of the fate of three other young men, Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdulla al-Zaher, who also stand accused of committing crimes as minors.
      Nor is there word of the fate of three prominent scholars, Salman al-Odah, Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari, whom MEE revealed were to be executed shortly after Ramadan, which ended earlier this month. [“Who are the three scholars Saudi Arabia will execute after Ramadan?” https://www.middleeasteye.net/video/who-are-three-scholars-saudi-arabia-will-execute-after-ramadan ]
      Kushner told the crown prince that the scandal created by the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October had only just died down in Washington.
      “This is not the time for it. The story of Khashoggi has died and you will ruin the image of Saudi,” Kushner reportedly said in the telephone conversation.”

    • Acquiescence to evil says:

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blocked the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on a U.S. list of countries that recruit child soldiers, dismissing his experts’ findings that a Saudi-led coalition has been using under-age fighters in Yemen’s civil war, according to four people familiar with the matter. The decision, which drew immediate criticism from human rights activists and a top Democratic lawmaker, could prompt new accusations that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is prioritizing security and economic interests in relations with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally and arms customer. (Reuters) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-childsoldiers-exclusive/exclusive-pompeo-blocks-inclusion-of-saudis-on-us-child-soldiers-list-sources-idUSKCN1TJ25H
      The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 requires the State Department to report annually on countries using child fighters, defined as “any person under 18 years of age who takes a direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces.”
      Foreign militaries on the list cannot receive U.S. aid, training and weapons unless the president issues full or partial waivers of those sanctions based on “national interest.” Trump and his predecessors have done this in the past for countries with close security ties to the United States.
      Since the end of 2016, the Saudi-led coalition has deployed as many as 14,000 Sudanese at any given time, including children as young as 14, to fight in Yemen, offering payments of up to $10,000 per recruit, according to the New York Times. The article cited Sudanese fighters who had returned home and Sudanese lawmakers. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/world/africa/saudi-sudan-yemen-child-fighters.html

  92. Yankee Doodle says:

    “System to circumvent US sanctions on Iran ready soon: German Foreign Minister. European payment system nearly operational in key development to salvage Iran nuclear pact with world powers.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/system-circumvent-sanctions-iran-ready-german-fm-190610070011253.html
    “German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran as part of European efforts to salvage the historic JCPOA nuclear pact and defuse rising US-Iranian tension.
    Iran and Germany held “frank and serious” talks on saving the 2015 deal with world powers, Zarif told a joint press conference.
    “Tehran will cooperate with EU signatories of the deal to save it,” Zarif said.
    Maas said earlier the payment system, known as INSTEX, (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) will soon be ready to go after months of work.
    US-Iran tensions: Lessons from past gulf wars
    “This is an instrument of a new kind so it’s not straightforward to operationalise it,” he said, pointing to the complexity of trying to install a totally new payment system.
    “But all the formal requirements are in place now, and so I’m assuming we’ll be ready to use it in the foreseeable future,” added Mass about the system for barter-based trade with Iran.”

  93. Wag the dog says:

    The United Nations has warned the world cannot afford “a major confrontation in the Gulf” as international concern grew over suspected attacks on commercial ships near the Strait of Hormuz. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/iran-calls-tanker-explosions-suspicious-global-concern-grows-190613150655075.html US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind the reported attacks, hours after Tehran called the incidents suspicious.
    Pompeo did not provide hard evidence to back up the US stance.
    The U.S. Central Command released video Friday which it says proves that Iran was behind two tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. CENTCOM also released photographs showing an unexploded limpet apparent mine, which attaches to the side of a ship magnetically, before it was removed later in the day by an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) patrol boat seen in the video. https://gcaptain.com/u-s-military-says-video-proves-iran-was-behind-tanker-attacks/
    Earlier in the day, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the timing of the incidents was “suspicious” since they coincided with a meeting between the country’s supreme leader and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was in Tehran on an unprecedented visit to defuse the US-Iran tensions.
    “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” said Zarif, without elaborating further.
    A third of all oil traded by sea, which amounts to 20 percent of oil traded worldwide, passes through the Strait of Hormuz making it one of the world’s most important sea lanes.
    Paolo d’Amico, chairman of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, said he was concerned about further disruption in the area, warning the “supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

  94. Guns of August says:

    “Trump Approves Strikes on Iran, but Then Abruptly Pulls Back” (NYT 6/20/19) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/world/middleeast/iran-us-drone.html

    Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada Before Bilateral Meeting [White House transcript June 20, 2019] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-prime-minister-trudeau-canada-bilateral-meeting-2/

    PRESIDENT TRUMP: …Go ahead. Question?
    Q Mr. President, how will you respond to Iran?
    PRESIDENT TRUMP: Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it all documented. It’s documented scientifically, not just words. And they made a very bad mistake. Okay?
    Q How will you respond, Mr. President? How will you respond?
    PRESIDENT TRUMP: You’ll find out.
    Q Does that mean you’re planning to do something?
    PRESIDENT TRUMP: You’ll find out. You’ll find out. I mean, obviously — obviously — obviously, you know, we’re not going to be talking too much about it. You’re going to find out. They made a very big mistake.
    [scroll down almost to the end for further remarks on Iran and the shooting down of the U.S. drone]

    “Sloppy Mo, Wudda ya know?” (“Wagon Heels”, Warner Brothers, 1945) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKvhVssO348

  95. ...the beast stirs says:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a thinly veiled threat to regional rival Iran, a day after Tehran announced it had started enriching uranium beyond the limit set by a landmark nuclear agreement and plunged the future of the imperilled accord into deeper doubt.
    Standing in front of an F-35 stealth fighter during a tour of an Israeli airbase on Tuesday, Netanyahu said Iran had “recently been threatening the destruction of Israel” and “ought to remember that these planes can reach every place in the Middle East, including Iran and, certainly, Syria”. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/israeli-pm-netanyahu-cautions-iran-nuclear-deal-unravels-190709175443719.html
    On Tuesday, in the latest escalation of the war of words between Washington and Tehran, Trump accused Iran of doing “a lot of bad things” and suggested it had “better be very careful”. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-amir-al-thani-state-qatar-bilateral-meeting/

  96. Yoicks says:

    Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal to spite Barack Obama, according to a leaked memo written by the UK’s former ambassador in the US. (BBC News) https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48978484 “Sir Kim Darroch described the move as an act of “diplomatic vandalism”, according to the Mail on Sunday. The paper says the memo was written after the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appealed to the US in 2018 to stick with the deal.
    The latest leak came despite the Met Police warning against publication. The first memos criticising President Trump’s administration, which emerged a week ago, prompted a furious reaction from the US president and resulted in Sir Kim resigning from his role.”
    Daily Mail: “Trump axed Iran deal to spite Obama: How the British ambassador called the President’s actions ‘diplomatic vandalism’ fueled by ‘personality reasons’ – as revealed in more explosive cables that have sparked a free speech row while Iran tensions mount” https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7244539/Trump-axed-Iran-deal-spite-Obama-British-ambassador-says-Trumps-actions-diplomatic-vandalism.html

  97. Danse Macabre says:

    “Congress and President Trump are headed for a second veto showdown over Saudi Arabia after the House approved three resolutions Wednesday to block emergency arms sales to the kingdom.” https://thehill.com/policy/defense/453523-house-votes-to-block-trumps-saudi-arms-sale
    “Wednesday’s votes on the Senate-passed measures send them to Trump’s desk, where he is expected to use his veto pen for a third time.
    The House approved two of the resolutions 238-190 and the third resolution 237-190. For all three resolutions, four Republicans voted yes: Reps. Mike Gallagher (Wis.), Trey Hollingsworth (Ind.), Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Alex Mooney (W.V.). Newly independent Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) also supported the resolutions.
    Congress is not expected to have the votes to override Trump’s veto. But the faceoff shows how far apart Congress and the White House have drifted on Saudi Arabia, and lawmakers are vowing not to let up on holding Riyadh accountable.”

  98. Jenkins' Ear says:

    “On the ship that downed a military drone, one small mistake could cause a war with Iran” (CNN 7/19/19) https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/19/middleeast/iran-hormuz-fifth-fleet-intl/index.html https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/19/middleeast/iran-hormuz-fifth-fleet-intl/index.html
    Seyed Abbas Araghchi [Deputy Foreign Minister of Islamic Republic of Iran] @araghchi 10:03 PM – 18 Jul 2019: “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!” https://twitter.com/araghchi

  99. Ante up says:

    The United States has authorised the deployment of military personnel and resources to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon has said, as tensions in the Gulf mount over the US’s standoff with Iran, the kingdom’s archrival. The Pentagon said in a statement on Friday that the move would provide “an additional deterrent” in the face of “emergent, credible threats” in the region. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/deploy-troops-saudi-arabia-gulf-tensions-soar-190720082258022.html
    US to launch plan for ‘free passage’ of ships in Iran’s waterway : US official says new initiative will seek to ensure ‘free, open passage’ for ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/launch-plan-free-passage-ships-iran-waterway-190720193951226.html

  100. Pay2Play says:

    Report Accuses Trump Allies of Conspiring to Profit Off Saudi Nuclear Deal (Vanity Fair 7/30/19) https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/07/trump-barrack-saudi-nuclear-deal-ip3
    New House Oversight Committee report centers on how IP3, a private nuclear technology company [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP3_International#Personnel ] has been attempting to circumvent the obstacles stopping them from transferring U.S. nuclear technology to the Saudis—with the Trump team’s help. According to the report, IP3 officials were granted such “unprecedented access” to Trumpworld that they considered the administration an “extended team member,” and officials met directly with “President [Donald] Trump, Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, K.T. McFarland, and Cabinet Secretaries Rick Perry, Steven Mnuchin, Mike Pompeo, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Wilbur Ross.” This access, the report explains, “yielded promises from high-level government officials to support IP3’s efforts with Saudi officials.”
    One particular figure who stands out in the House report is longtime Trump ally and former Trump inauguration chair Thomas Barrack, whom the report alleges was attempting to seek a position in the administration at the same time as he was “(1) promoting the interests of U.S. corporations seeking to profit from the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia; (2) advocating on behalf of foreign interests seeking to obtain this U.S. nuclear technology; and (3) taking steps for his own company, Colony NorthStar, to profit from the same proposals he was advancing with the Administration.” (The New York Times reported separately Monday that federal prosecutors are looking into Barrack’s foreign entanglements in the Gulf region and their connection to the Trump campaign.) Also implicated in the report is former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who served as an adviser to IP3.
    “Trump Adviser Said to Have Pursued Saudi Nuclear Deal as He Sought Administration Role” (NYT 7/29/19) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/29/us/politics/thomas-barrack-white-house.html
    “Saudi Arabia Edited a Trump “America First” Campaign Speech. Manafort Helped Them Do It.” (Vice 7/30/19) https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/xwnem3/saudia-arabia-edited-a-trump-america-first-campaign-speech-manafort-helped-them-do-it

  101. Cassandra says:

    “Iran: The Case Against War.” By Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson. New York Review of Books, August 15, 2019 Issue https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/08/15/iran-case-against-war/ “…The situation is becoming increasingly volatile. National Security Adviser John Bolton broadly favors the threat and use of military force to implement US policy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo harbors a profound conviction that in opposing Iran and embracing Israel he is an instrument of God’s will, having pledged to continue such efforts until “the rapture.” The Trump administration’s stated reason for “maximum pressure” on Iran through sanctions is to force Tehran back into negotiations to limit its ballistic missile program and destabilizing regional activities. But given the high degree of mistrust that the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Comprehensive_Plan_of_Action ] has generated in Tehran, that rationale can only be read as disingenuous.
    In effect, Bolton and Pompeo have repurposed sanctions—normally conceived as an alternative to armed conflict—as the means to provoke a war. Even if sanctions fail—as they so far have—to force Iran’s oil exports down to zero, cripple its economy, and create internal strife on a scale large enough to topple the Iranian government, they could nevertheless provoke Iran to directly counterattack American targets in the region, which would give Washington a casus belli to pursue regime change through force.
    …The similarities between the current situation and the prelude to the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2002–2003 are unmistakable. A pugnacious and insecure US president obsessed with a government he has demonized is unconstrained due to a disrupted interagency process and a Congress paralyzed by a cowed and craven Republican Party.”

  102. بازی با آتش says:

    “Crude oil prices could sink by as much as $30 a barrel if China decides to buy Iranian crude oil in retaliation to the latest U.S. tariff measures, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.” (CNBC 8/5/19) https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/05/brent-and-wti-price-could-crash-if-china-buys-iranian-oil.html “Analysts at BofA Merrill Lynch [also] said the latest round of US tariffs could reduce global oil demand by 250,000-500,000 barrels per day, adding to worries about a demand slowdown that is challenging the fundamentals for crude.”
    See “Oil Price Correction Triggers Shale Meltdown” (Oilprice.com 8/4/19) https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Oil-Price-Correction-Triggers-Shale-Meltdown.html
    Meanwhile: “A limited war [with Iran] would likely push oil prices above $100 per barrel, while a major confrontation would likely drive prices above $150,” political risk consultancy Eurasia Group predicts. (CNBC 6/20/19) https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/06/heres-how-high-the-price-of-oil-could-go-if-conflict-broke-out-with-iran.html “More than a million barrels of oil per day have been wiped off the market as U.S. sanctions, imposed after the Donald Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year, endeavor to bring the exports of OPEC’s third-largest producer to zero. This has contributed to the crippling of Iran’s economy, leading many analysts to believe that a series of recent tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf is Tehran’s way of fighting back. Iran denies involvement.”

  103. Cruisin' for a Bruisin' says:

    “UK to Join US-led Maritime Security Mission in Gulf” https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-iran-britain/uk-to-join-us-led-maritime-security-mission-in-gulf-idUSL9N1Z701R “Last month, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a British tanker, Stena Impero, near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations. That came two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria.
    Earlier on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would no longer tolerate “maritime offenses” in the strait.It has threatened to block all exports via the Strait, through which a fifth of global oil traffic passes, if other countries comply with U.S. pressure to stop buying Iranian oil.”
    Meanwhile: “Wary of Trump’s Hard Line on Iran, Europeans Decline to Join Escorts in Gulf” (NYT 8/1/19) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/01/world/europe/trump-iran-gulf-patrol.html
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reiterated this morning that Germany would not join the US-led naval mission https://www.trtworld.com/middle-east/germany-not-to-join-us-led-naval-mission-gulf-tensions-28056

  104. Warbucks says:

    “Trump Explained: ‘If Obama Did It, It’s Got to Go’ : Look at the U.S.-Iran Relationship—It Was Mostly Fixed, Trump Blew It Up And Now Both Sides Threaten Each Other” (DCReport 8/5/19) https://www.dcreport.org/2019/08/01/trump-explained-if-obama-did-it-its-got-to-go/
    “Trump axed Iran deal to spite Obama: How the British ambassador called the President’s actions ‘diplomatic vandalism’ fueled by ‘personality reasons’ – as revealed in more explosive cables that have sparked a free speech row while Iran tensions mount” (Daily Mail UK 13 July 2019) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7244539/Trump-axed-Iran-deal-spite-Obama-British-ambassador-says-Trumps-actions-diplomatic-vandalism.html

  105. Hubble-bubble says:

    “Saudi Arabia’s crude shipments to China have doubled in the span of a year. During the same period, its oil exports to the U.S. have dropped by nearly two-thirds. The numbers signal a mix of short-term tactics and long-term strategy for the Saudis, industry experts say.” (CNBC 8/15/19) https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/15/saudi-arabia-dramatically-changing-its-oil-exports-to-china-and-the-us.html “Saudi Arabia learned from the last OPEC production cut in 2017 that they got the biggest bang for their buck by cutting flows to the largest, most transparent and most timely market — the U.S.,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at commodities analytics firm ClipperData, referring to the coordinated production cut that OPEC and its allies orchestrated to put a floor under falling oil prices.
    “Choking back on flows to the U.S. was the best way to draw down inventories and turn around bearish sentiment, and they are employing the same tactic once again.”
    Meanwhile: “The US Department of Justice has made a last-minute request to the authorities in Gibraltar to halt the release of a seized Iranian supertanker.” (BBC News 9/15/19) https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-49355591 “…It is clear from the Gibraltarian authorities that without the last minute US intervention the Grace 1 would have been released and on it way. The hope was that this in turn would clear the way for the eventual release by the Iranians of the Stena Impero – the British-flagged vessel they seized in the Gulf.
    The last-minute effort by the US Justice Department has certainly muddied the waters, raising more questions.
    What grounds do they have for seeking to seize the vessel? And crucially how much co-ordination if any was there between the US, Britain and Gibraltar.
    Or did Washington’s request come out of the blue?”

    • Close quarters says:

      The United States has issued a warrant to seize an Iranian oil tanker caught in the standoff between Tehran and the West in a last ditch effort to prevent the vessel from leaving Gibraltar. https://www.chronicle.gi/us-warrant-issued-for-seizure-of-iranian-oil-tanker-in-gibraltar/
      Gibraltar lifted the detention order on Thursday after the British territory’s chief minister said he had secured written assurances from Tehran that the cargo would not go to Syria but with the vessel and its 2.1 million barrels of oil free to leave, the United States launched a separate legal appeal to impound the ship on the grounds that it had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which it designates as a terrorist organization. A federal court in Washington issued a warrant to seize the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million.
      The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the warrant, which was addressed to “the United States Marshal’s Service and/or any other duly authorized law enforcement officer,” may be enforced.
      The Pentagon declined to comment, as did Britain’s Foreign Office. The authorities in GIbraltar have made no comment on the development either.
      On Friday, a source close to the case told the Chronicle that the ship was unlikely to sail before Sunday, with six new crew members including a captain to arrive over the weekend.
      The Grace 1 had its name erased and had been re-flagged under the Iranian flag and re-named the Adrian Darya. https://www.chronicle.gi/new-crew-for-grace-1-could-delay-departure-to-sunday/

  106. Shatranj says:

    Iranian official Javad Zarif arrives unexpectedly at G7 amid tensions. Trump’s response? A curt ‘No comment’ https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/08/25/iran-diplomat-javad-zarif-g-7-wont-meet-with-trump/2114480001/ Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Islamic Republic’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, had landed in France, according to Iranian state media. The spokesman’s statement indicated that Zarif would be meeting with other world leaders gathered at the G-7 and specifically mentioned he would not be talking with President Donald Trump or other members of the U.S. delegation.

    Meanwhile: the Iranian oil tanker that the U.S. sought to seize in Gibraltar was about halfway into the Mediterranean Sea without declaring a destination on Sunday amid mounting speculation over where the roughly 2 million-barrel cargo of crude on board will end up. (Bloomberg August 25, 2019, 5:14 AM MDT) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-25/iran-oil-tanker-sails-toward-turkey-amid-concerns-over-cargo
    In the midst of U.S. threats and after being blocked from refueling in Greece, the Adrian Darya-1 switched its satellite transponder to ‘For Order’ from it’s previous destination in Turkey.
    Tehran previously said it was willing to send naval forces to escort their vessel after United States secretary of state Pompeo announced “We have made clear that anyone who touches it, anyone who supports it, anyone who allows a ship to dock is at risk of receiving sanctions from the United States,” he said, adding the US would take “every action we can” to stop the tanker from heading to Syria.”

  107. Puzzling Evdence says:

    President Trump has tweeted what experts say is almost certainly an image from a classified satellite or drone, showing the aftermath of an accident at an Iranian space facility. (NPR 8/30/19) https://www.npr.org/2019/08/30/755994591/president-trump-tweets-sensitive-surveillance-image-of-iran
    “The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir [Space Launch Vehicle] Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” the president said in a tweet that accompanied the image on Friday. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”
    [see also “Cyber war raging between U.S. & Iran as countries jostle for control of Persian Gulf” https://www.cnet.com/news/us-cyberattack-damaged-irans-ability-to-target-oil-tankers-report-says/ )
    Ankit Panda, an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, who specializes in analyzing satellite imagery. “The resolution is amazingly high,” says Panda. “I would think it’s probably below well below 20 centimeters, which is much higher than anything I’ve ever seen.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence referred questions about the image to the White House, which declined to comment.
    Melissa Hanham, deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network at the One Earth Foundation, believes that the resolution is so high, it may be beyond the physical limits at which satellites can operate. “The atmosphere is thick enough that after somewhere around 11 to 9 centimeters, things get wonky,” she says. That could mean it was taken by a drone or spy plane, though such a vehicle would be violating Iranian airspace. Hanham also says that the European company Airbus has been experimenting with drones that fly so high, they are technically outside the atmosphere and thus operating outside national boundaries. But she says she doesn’t know whether the U.S. has such a system.
    Both Panda and Hanham question whether releasing it was a good idea. “You really risk giving away the way you know things,” Hanham says. “That allows people to adapt and hide how they carry out illicit activity.” “These are closely held national secrets,” Panda adds. “We don’t even share a lot of this kind of imagery with our closest allies.” In tweeting it out to the world, Trump is letting Iran know exactly what the U.S. is capable of. He’s also letting others know as well, Panda says. “The Russians and the Chinese, you’re letting them know that these are the kind of things that the United States has the capability of seeing,” he says.

  108. Yo-heave-ho says:

    After a weekend circling the eastern Mediterranean the Iranian VLCC, Adrian Darya 1, has stopped 45 nautical miles west of Tripoli, Lebanon in international waters, likely waiting for another tanker to come alongside to offload some of its 2.1m barrels of crude so it can then transit the Suez Canal. https://splash247.com/blacklisted-adrian-darya-1-waits-for-tanker-assistance/
    On Friday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) blacklisted the tanker and its master, claiming the cargo of crude stood to ultimately benefit Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), which Washington deems to be a terrorist organization.
    The US State Department has said any seafarer working on Iranian-linked ships risks having his or her US work visas revoked, something that has attracted strong criticism from crewing trade unions. [see https://splash247.com/itf-hits-out-at-us-threat-to-cancel-visas-for-crews-working-on-iranian-linked-ships/ ]

  109. Lebensraum says:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he may annex the Jordan Valley and other parts of the occupied West Bank “in coordination” with the United States if he forms Israel’s next government https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/netanyahu-seeks-annex-jordan-valley-coordination-u-s-n1051901
    Most of the international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law and an impediment to a two-state solution to the conflict.
    The White House had no comment immediately after the announcement.

  110. Hope says:

    Oil prices fell swiftly on Tuesday after President Donald Trump fired Iran hawk John Bolton as national security adviser. The surprise exit of Bolton prompted speculation that the tensions between the United States and Iran could ease, or at least that the chance of a military conflict had decreased. Bolton was a strong proponent of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. That campaign was built on tough sanctions that caused Iran’s oil exports to plunge. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/10/investing/john-bolton-oil-prices/index.html
    Meanwhile: Today’s stubbornly-low oil prices are standing in the way of Saudi Arabia’s grand ambitions. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/09/investing/saudi-oil-minister-prices/index.html
    The OPEC kingpin wants to balance its massive budget and simultaneously pull off a $2 trillion valuation for Saudi Aramco, the country’s crown jewel. Both of those challenging efforts require much higher oil prices.
    …now what will the Commander in Cheat do next to help his pals?

  111. JP says:

    President Trump said on Monday that the United States does not need oil and gas from the Middle East as prices spike after drone attacks on Saudi sites.
    “Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World,” Trump tweeted. “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies,” he added.
    The tweet comes a day after Trump announced he was authorizing the use of the U.S.’s emergency oil reserve in response to a series of attacks in Saudi Arabia on key oil facilities that have impacted the global oil supply and sharply driven up prices.
    Trump also tweeted “we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” https://thehill.com/policy/international/middle-east-north-africa/461525-trump-says-us-doesnt-need-middle-eastern-oil
    “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince is at a crossroads right now” https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/saudi-oil-attack-dle-intl/index.html

    …meanwhile, higher oil prices make U.S. domestic shale exploitation more profitable.

  112. Day 970 says:

    The Saudi Defense Ministry has said it would present “material evidence and Iranian weapons proving the Iranian regime’s involvement in the terrorist attack” at a news conference today at 1430 GMT. “The attack is like Sept. 11th for Saudi Arabia, it is a game changer,” said one Saudi security analyst.
    Trump Has an Iran Strategy (NYT Sept. 18, 2019, 8:50 a.m. ET) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/opinion/saudi-arabia-iran-trump.html
    “Trump’s Bizarre Argument for Defending Saudi Arabia” (NY magazine) http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/09/trumps-saudi-arabia-iran-oil-war-corruption.html “We used to sell weapons to Saudia Arabia because we needed to secure their oil. Now we supposedly need to defend them because they buy our weapons. …The largest mystery hovering over Trump’s reversal is not how much the Saudis are paying the United States, but how much they’re paying Trump personally.”
    Haaretz (Sep 18, 2019 3:27 PM): Israel Election Results: Netanyahu’s Bloc Fails to Secure Majority as 91% of Votes Counted. The results show that neither of the parties have a clear path to securing a majority in Knesset. Gantz’s Kahol Lavan has one-seat lead over Netanyahu’s Likud / Arab party comes in third / Netanyahu crony admits intimidation campaign against Arabs ‘blew up in our face’ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-israel-election-exit-polls-netanyahu-gantz-1.7854652

  113. Warbucks says:

    “Saudi and US officials have pointed fingers at Iran for the attack on Aramco oil facilities at Abqaiq that knocked out half of its oil production, pushing global crude prices upwards.
    A Saudi defense ministry spokesman said on Wednesday there was no way the attacks could have been launched from Yemen.
    “The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” Saudi Colonel Turki al-Malki said. “We are working to know the exact launch point.”
    “The Saudis were the nation that was attacked. It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters before heading to UAE, a close US ally in the region.
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday that the result of any US or Saudi military strike against his country would result in an “all-out war”. The foreign minister also said that Secretary of State Pompeo was trying to delay issuing visas for the Iranian delegation to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/iran-foreign-minister-javad-zarif-warns-war-190919104807600.html
    The United States imposed sanctions on the Iranian Foreign Minister at the end of July.
    “Javad Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader, and is the regime’s primary spokesperson around the world. The United States is sending a clear message to the Iranian regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
    The sanctions against Zarif would block any property or interests he has in the United States, but the Iranian foreign minister said he had none.

  114. Hubble-bubble says:

    💀 “The Pentagon will deploy U.S. forces to the Middle East on the heels of the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced Friday.
    “The president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense,” Esper said, adding that Saudi Arabia requested the support.” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/20/the-pentagon-will-deploy-us-forces-to-the-middle-east-on-the-heels-of-the-iranian-attack-on-saudi-arabian-oil-facilities.html
    💀 “The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned the US and its allies to “be careful and make no mistake.” “Our readiness to respond to any aggression is definitive,” Maj-Gen Hossein Salami told state media on Saturday. “We will never allow a war to enter our land.”
    “We will pursue any aggressor,” he continued. “We will continue until the full destruction of any aggressor.”
    The comments came shortly after the US announced it was sending troops to support Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49781350
    💀 “The devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities by drones and missiles not only transforms the balance of military power in the Middle East, but marks a change in the nature of warfare globally. Anthony Cordesman, a military expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, succinctly sums up the importance of this change, writing that “the strikes on Saudi Arabia provide a clear strategic warning that the US era of air supremacy in the Gulf, and the near US monopoly on precision strike capability, is rapidly fading.”
    Similar turning points in military history have occurred when the deployment of an easily produced weapon suddenly checkmates the use of a more complicated one.” https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/saudi-arabia-drone-attacks-trump-us-iran-global-warfare-nato-a9113636.html
    💀 “Saudi Arabia spent billions to protect a kingdom built on oil but could not stop the suspected Iranian drone and missile attack, exposing gaps that even America’s most advanced weaponry failed to fill.
    In addition to deciding whether that firepower should be turned on Iran in retaliation, the Saudis and their American allies must now figure out how to prevent a repeat of last weekend’s attack — or worse, such as an assault on the Saudis’ export facilities in the Persian Gulf or any of the desalination plants that supply drinking water.” https://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-bc-us–persian-gulf-saudi-vulnerability-20190918-story.html
    💀 “Houthis: We Will Stop Saudi Attacks If Kingdom Agrees To Stand Down In Yemen” https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Houthis-Say-They-Will-Stop-Saudi-Attacks-If-Kingdom-Agrees-To-Stand-Down-In-Yeme.html
    💀 “Hezbollah leadership also called on Saudi Arabia and the UAE to cease its Yemen attacks, “because your houses are made of glass,” Hassan Nasrallah warned on Friday, according to the Associated Press.” https://news.yahoo.com/hezbollah-tells-saudi-arabia-stop-173022537.html

    • Warbucks says:

      The Department of Defense announced Friday that more troops and equipment will be going to Saudi Arabia. https://www.fayobserver.com/news/20191011/more-us-troops-headed-to-saudi-arabia
      Jonathan Hoffman, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement that two fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing, two Patriot batteries and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system would be deployed.
      Hoffman said that overall, deployment of an additional 3,000 troops have been extended or authorized within the past month. Since May, the number of troops in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility has increased by about 14,000, he said.
      That area includes the Middle East, Northeast Africa and Central and South Asia. The increased forces are “an investment into regional security,” Hoffman said.
      The announcement last month came about two weeks after Saudi oil facilities were attacked by cruise missiles and drones. U.S. officials blamed that attack on Iran. Houthi rebels in Yemen took credit for it.
      Hoffman said then that U.S. troops were going to augment Saudi Arabia’s air and missile defense.
      “As we have stated, the United States does not seek conflict with the Iranian regime, but we will retain a robust military capability in the region that is ready to respond to any crisis and will defend U.S. forces and interest in the region,” he said in the statement released Friday.

  115. Warning: Graphic content says:

    “The five-year civil war in Yemen has killed more than 70,000 people and pushed millions to the brink of famine in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
    Last month, a local non-government organization said even the water supply in Yemen had been “weaponised”, referring to the country’s unclean water, which breeds cholera.
    There are 18 million Yemenis with no access to drinking water.
    According to the Yemen Data Project, a Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels has carried out 20,000 air attacks, one-third of which were on non-military sites, including hospitals and schools.
    The damages, combined with an air, naval and maritime blockade imposed on the northern areas, have paralyzed people’s access to basic goods.”

    Nurse Mekkiyah Al-Aslami examines Nada, a malnourished child in Abs. She is nine months old and weighs just 2.8kg, a third of what she should weigh at her age.

  116. Stable Genius says:

    “Donald Trump got “rolled” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a National Security Council source with direct knowledge of the discussions told Newsweek.”
    “In a scheduled phone call on Sunday afternoon between President Trump and President Erdogan, Trump said he would withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. The phone call was scheduled after Turkey announced it was planning to invade Syria, and hours after Erdogan reinforced his army units at the Syrian-Turkish border and issued his strongest threat to launch a military incursion, according to the National Security Council official to whom Newsweek spoke on condition of anonymity.
    The U.S. withdrawal plays into the hands of the Islamic State group, Damascus and Moscow, and the announcement left Trump’s own Defense Department “completely stunned,” said Pentagon officials. Turkey, like the United States, wants regime change in Syria. Russia and Iran support the Assad regime.
    “President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdraw to make it look like we are getting something—but we are not getting something,” the National Security Council source told Newsweek. “The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that’s the bottom line.”

    • Let us all enthusiastically applaud our President's great and unmatched wisdom says:

      ‘Disaster’, ‘a betrayal’: Republicans slam Trump’s Syria decision : Republicans and Democrats rebuke Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria’s border with Turkey. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/betrayal-republicans-slam-trump-syria-move-191007153601112.html
      “Turkey: Preparations ‘complete’ for Syria military action” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/turkey-military-preparations-syria-incursion-complete-191008082547251.html
      ‘Stab in the back’: Kurdish forces decry US pullout from Syria : Syrian Democratic Forces denounce US move, pledge to defend ‘at all costs’ if Turkey carries out long-threatened attack. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/kurdish-forces-decry-pullout-syria-191007145220366.html
      (Hürriyet Daily News Turkey 10/7/19) “Footage recorded by Anadolu Agency on Oct. 7 showed the U.S. deploying fresh military and logistics equipment to YPG/PKK terrorists east of the Euphrates River in Syria.” http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/footage-shows-us-dispatching-aid-to-pkk-in-syria-147251
      In the last week alone, the number of trucks that the U.S. dispatched to northern Syria has reached 600. The U.S. currently has around 2,000 personnel in 18 bases and military locations in Syria. On July 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “Tens of thousands of truckloads of weapons and ammunition have been given to the PKK/YPG. Who gives [them]? Those who appear to be our strategic ally give [them].”
      Also: Turkey is not a country to act according to threats, the country’s vice president said on Oct. 8 responding to a threat by U.S. President Donald Trump regarding Turkey’s planned safe zone operation. Oktay’s remarks came after Trump threatened Turkey on Oct. 7 with economic collapse should Ankara take action in Syria he deems “off limits”, ahead of a planned operation in the country’s northeast.
      “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” Trump wrote on Twitter.

      • Hard over says:

        Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) are demanding an all-senators briefing immediately on President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from key positions in northern Syria.
        “We are concerned that this was an abrupt decision taken in the face of reported opposition from military and diplomatic advisers, and that thousands of hardened ISIS fighters and thousands more ISIS supporters currently in detention may become free to fight again as their Kurdish captors turn to defending themselves against a Turkish incursion,” Graham and Coons wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.).
        “We believe that it is imperative that the Department of Defense, State Department, and the Intelligence Community provide an all members classified briefing on this decision as soon as possible,” they wrote.
        Trump’s decision, announced Monday morning in a series of tweets, caught lawmakers by surprise and appears to give Turkey the go-ahead to move against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.

    • Mind-Blown says:

      Influential televangelist and Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson is the latest of President Trump’s longtime supporters to decry the president’s decision to abandon the United States’ Kurdish allies in Syria as Turkish forces approach.
      “I believe … the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen,” Robertson said during the Monday episode of his CBN show, “The 700 Club.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/10/08/trump-danger-losing-mandate-heaven-over-syria-decision-pat-robertson-warns/ In his unusually fiery criticism of Trump, Robertson said he was “appalled” by the president’s decision, implying it was a betrayal to Kurdish allies. Robertson went on to invoke the Armenian genocide, in which the Turkish government killed thousands of Armenian Christians amid World War I and the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated last year in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
      “The president, who allowed Khashoggi to be cut into pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,” Robertson said. He additionally blasted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — with whom Trump has a friendly rapport — as a “thug” and a “dictator.”

      • Matthew 15:7 says:

        (Fox News 10/12/13): “President Trump announced Saturday that he had authorized the release of $50 million in aid to human rights groups and other aid organizations in Syria in an apparent attempt to counter criticism of his pullout of U.S. forces there.
        “Other presidents would not be doing that, they’d be spending a lot more money but on things that wouldn’t make you happy,” Trump said while addressing the Values Voters Summit’s Faith, Family and Freedom gala dinner.
        “The U.S. condemns the persecution of Christians and we pledge our support to Christians all over,” said Trump, who claimed that under the Obama administration, Christians in Syria had “almost no chance” to immigrate legally to the United States and that Muslim Syrians had a much better shot.
        “Don’t forget they are fighting for their land. They haven’t helped us fighting for our land,” Trump told his audience Saturday night. “Let them have their borders, but I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 15 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders.”
        “I said, ‘We just spent billions in Iraq and it was the single worst mistake we’ve ever made,’” Trump said, explaining his rationale for pulling U.S. forces out of the area. “We defeated ISIS, we did our job, now we have to go home … You wouldn’t believe how the military-industrial complex came down on me.” https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-addresses-values-voter-summit-announces-50-million-in-aid-to-syrian-christians-and-religious-minorities
        White House press release: “President Trump on Saturday authorized the release of $50 million in emergency assistance to Syrian human rights groups and other organizations working to protect civilians in the war-torn country.” [read the fine print between the lines] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-88/

  117. "O Superman" says:

    Turkey begins military offensive in Syria (CNN) live updates https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/syria-turkey-military-offensive-dle-intl/index.html
    An hour before Turkey launched its operation in northern Syria to clear US-backed Kurdish forces away from its border, President Donald Trump took to Twitter
    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 5:14 AM – 9 Oct 2019:
    “The United States has spent EIGHT TRILLION DOLLARS fighting and policing in the Middle East. Thousands of our Great Soldiers have died or been badly wounded. Millions of people have died on the other side. GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE….. [continues] ….IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY! We went to war under a false & now disproven premise, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. There were NONE! Now we are slowly & carefully bringing our great soldiers & military home. Our focus is on the BIG PICTURE! THE USA IS GREATER THAN EVER BEFORE!”
    [“Here come the planes. They’re American planes. Made in America.”]
    Did we betray the Kurds for Trump Towers? [in Istanbul] https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/10/did-we-betray-the-kurds-for-trump-towers-editorial.html

  118. Cassandra says:

    ● “Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported Wednesday that sources say President Donald Trump “went off script” and “essentially greenlighted” the Turkish military operation in Syria during his phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a decision that has shocked the U.S. military.” https://www.newsweek.com/fox-news-reporter-says-trump-went-off-script-during-turkey-call-essentially-greenlighted-1464252
    ● “Republican anger grows as Trump disavows Kurds by saying they didn’t help during WWII” https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/09/politics/turkey-syria-us-anger-ramifications/index.html
    ● “President Trump has opened the door to what could become a genuine nightmare for the United States and its allies: the revival of the deadly terrorist organization that called itself the Islamic State.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/09/trump-has-opened-door-an-islamic-state-resurgence-syria/
    ● “Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to release millions of refugees into Europe over criticism of Syria offensive” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/10/turkeys-erdogan-threatens-release-of-refugees-to-europe-over-syria-criticism.html
    ● “I fought alongside the Kurds. The United States can’t abandon our fierce allies to Turkey. ” https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/10/09/kurds-turkey-syria-isis-war-iraq-trump-column/3917818002/
    ● “The long, winding history of American dealings with Iraq’s Kurds” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/10/17/the-long-winding-history-of-american-dealings-with-iraqs-kurds-2/
    ● “Who are the Kurds?” (BBC) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29702440

  119. Cassandra says:

    “Erdoğan has managed the unthinkable: uniting all the other Middle East rivals : Turkey’s Syria invasion following US withdrawal of its troops means that all bets are now off in the Middle East” (Guardian 10/12/19) https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2019/oct/12/turkey-invasion-syria-trump-withdrawal-gulf-rivals-unite
    “The Pentagon on Friday strongly denied accusations it was abandoning its Kurdish allies in Syria as Turkey continued its military offensive in the country’s northeast, forcing 100,000 people to flee amid heavy fighting.” (Al Jazeera 10/11/19) https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/defence-chief-abandoning-kurds-syria-191011141042010.html
    “Top Military Officers Unload on Trump : The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?” (The Atlantic, November 2019 issue) https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/11/military-officers-trump/598360/

  120. Oscar Mike says:

    Pro-Ankara fighters taking part in a Turkish offensive on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria “executed” at least nine civilians including a female politician on Saturday, a monitor said.
    “The nine civilians were executed at different moments south of the town of Tal Abyad,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
    The Kurds said a Kurdish political leader Hevrin Khalaf and her driver were among those killed. https://www.timesofisrael.com/kurdish-politician-among-9-civilians-killed-by-turkey-backed-rebels-monitor/
    ‘That’s a war crime’: Ex-Trump envoy Brett McGurk is outraged by assassination of Hevrin Khalaf https://www.rawstory.com/2019/10/thats-a-war-crime-ex-trump-envoy-brett-mcgurk-is-outraged-by-assassination-of-hevrin-khalaf/
    “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered,” Gen. Mazloum told the Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, William Roebuck Thursday, according to an internal US government readout that has been obtained by CNN https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/12/politics/syrian-kurds-us-turkey-military-operation/index.html
    The Syrian National Army, known as Free Syrian Army will deploy along the length of the border with Turkey in an agreement with the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria to help repel a Turkish offensive, the Kurdish-led administration said on Sunday.
    The army deployment would support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in countering “this aggression and liberating the areas that the Turkish army and mercenaries had entered”, it said, in reference to Turkey-backed Syrian rebels.
    It would also allow for the liberation of other Syrian cities occupied by the Turkish army such as Afrin, the statement said. The Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies drove Kurdish forces from Afrin in 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-government-sdf/syrian-army-to-deploy-along-turkish-border-in-deal-with-kurdish-led-forces-idUSKBN1WS0PF
    President Donald Trump is ordering the remaining US forces out of northern Syria, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday, a development that has paralyzed the fight against ISIS and ceded US and Kurdish battlefield gains to Moscow and Damascus. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/13/politics/us-troops-syria-turkey/index.html In explaining the decision, Esper also said that “in the last 24 hours” the US had learned that America’s primary ally in the fight against ISIS, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, were “looking to cut a deal” with the Syrian regime and their Russian backers in order to “counter attack against the Turks in the north,” something the SDF leadership had told America it would do in the absence of US assistance in the face of Turkish attacks.
    Despite Esper saying the US only learned of the effort in the last 24 hours, CNN has reported that the SDF commander told a senior US diplomat Thursday that this was his intent.

  121. Cassandra says:

    “Abandoned by U.S. in Syria, Kurds Find New Ally in American Foe : Under fire by Turkish forces, the militia that battled ISIS threw in its lot with Syria’s Russian-backed government.” (NYT) https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/13/world/middleeast/syria-turkey-invasion-isis.html
    “U.S. Forces Try to Stop Syrian Regime Forces From Helping Kurds Fight Turkey : On a confused battlefield, the U.S. intervened to stop some Syrian and Russian forces advancing into the region to support the Kurds sparking fears of dangerous flash points.” (Daily Beast) https://www.thedailybeast.com/us-forces-reported-preventing-syrian-regime-forces-from-helping-kurds-fight-turkey
    “Turkish attack on Kurdish-held town allows 950 ISIS detainees to escape” (Axios) https://www.axios.com/isis-detainees-northern-syria-turkey-kurdish-ec58db13-93c0-4c9c-8158-6d4b8dbb6e9c.html
    “Trump Says It’s Not His Problem Hundreds of ISIS Fighters Escaped Kurdish Camps” (VICE) https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d3a55a/trump-says-its-not-his-problem-hundreds-of-isis-fighters-escaped-kurdish-camps

    • Golly G. says:

      Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump 12:55 PM – 14 Oct 2019
      Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Turkey’s Actions in Northeast Syria
      (click to enlarge)

      • WTF says:

        [45 MINUTES EARLIER] Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump at 12:10 PM – 14 Oct 2019:

        “After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land. I said to my Generals, why should we be fighting for Syria and Assad to protect the land of our enemy? Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”

  122. Duck & Cover says:

    Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last month declared he wanted nuclear weapons: “We have Israel nearby, as almost neighbors. They scare others by possessing these. No one can touch them.”
    And, given his nation’s rapidly deteriorating relationship with the West, the US stockpile could prove a tempting shortcut to becoming the region’s second nuclear power.
    “They tell us we can’t have them.” he told a party meeting last month. “This, I cannot accept.”
    Meanwhile, all those US nuclear devices remain locked up on Incirlik air force base — despite years of escalating Turkish internal and international turmoil. https://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/deadly-diplomatic-challenge-turkey-holding-50-us-nuclear-bombs-hostage/news-story/1a89583915a67a51546a1f1f47c396e9
    The New York Times today quotes one unnamed US official as saying these nuclear weapons were now essentially “Erdogan’s hostages”.
    “To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the defacto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago,” national security correspondent David Sanger writes. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/world/middleeast/trump-turkey-syria.html
    We’ve had a taste of what could come. A failed 2016 coup attempt against Mr Erdoğan spread to the Incirlik air base. https://www.news.com.au/world/reports-turkish-troops-have-sealed-off-incirlik-usnato-nuclear-air-base/news-story/4d7bb16e4e86842218b5b0d7d70f582b
    US Defence Secretary Mark Esper was asked by Fox News yesterday whether or not Turkey was a US ally. “No, I think Turkey, the arc of their behavior over the past several years has been terrible,” he replied.
    And the situation for the former US-allies, the Kurds, he said, “gets worse by the hour”.
    Mr Esper did not express confidence in Turkey’s motives or behavior. When asked if he feared they would deliberately attack US forces, he said: “I don’t know whether they would or wouldn’t.”

  123. Update says:

    Kurds in northern Syria have taken to the streets to plead with US soldiers pulling out of the war-torn region and leaving hundreds of thousands of people vulnerable to attacks by Turkey – as White House officials say President Donald Trump is considering a Pentagon plan that would keep some 200 troops in the area.
    Some 700 American troops retreated from the largest US military base in the region over the weekend under orders from Trump.
    The controversial pullout comes as Turkey ramps up its offensive on Kurdish allies who have fought against ISIS alongside US forces for years.
    Since the offensive began on October 9, at least 114 civilians have been killed and some 300,000 people have been displaced.
    A video by the Kurdish news agency posted Monday shows a convoy of armored vehicles driving through Qamishli and residents hurling abuse and potatoes at the soldiers as they withdrew.
    ‘Thanks for US people but Trump betrayed us,’ one protester’s sign read.
    ‘To the US army who are leaving northeast Syria: Tell your children that the children of the Kurds were killed by the Turks and we did nothing to protect them,’ another read.
    One US Special Forces soldier made an apparent show of solidarity for Kurdish fighters by wearing a bright green patch bearing the letters YPJ – a symbol of the Syrian Kurdish Women’s Protection Units. American soldiers were banned from wearing YPJ and YPG patches in 2016
    (Daily Mail UK) https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7594671/US-Special-Forces-soldier-wears-BANNED-Kurdish-patch-troops-pull-Syria.html
    Re: Women’s Protection Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Jin‎, YPJ, pronounced Yuh-Pah-Juh) see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_Protection_Units

    • Cat's-paw says:

      U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republican senators introduced a resolution Tuesday in opposition to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, warning that his decision has benefited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, ISIS, Russia and Iran.
      “If not arrested, withdrawing from Syria will invite more of the chaos that breeds terrorism and creates a vacuum our adversaries will certainly fill,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
      McConnell said if the President doesn’t halt the withdrawal, Russia “will gain more leverage” in the Middle East, Iran-backed forces could gain greater access to a “strategic corridor that runs all the way from Tehran to the very doorstep of Israel” and the Assad regime will be invited to “reassert its oppressive control” over northeastern Syria.
      He also urged Trump to rescind his invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House until a “more enduring cease-fire” is struck between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
      The measure tries to tie the hands of the commander-in-chief by requiring the President to report to Congress that ISIS and al Qaeda have been defeated “before initiating any further significant withdrawal” of US troops from the region.
      McConnell did not say when the Senate would take up the resolution. https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/22/politics/mitch-mcconnell-resolution-syria-troops/index.html

    • Stay tuned says:

      Full text of Turkey, Russia agreement on northeast Syria https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/full-text-turkey-russia-agreement-northeast-syria-191022180033274.html
      Memorandum of understanding reached by the two countries, provided to Al Jazeera by the Turkish foreign ministry.
      “President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin agreed on the following points:
      #5: Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30km (19 miles) from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10km (six miles), except Qamishli city.

      Why is the 1998 Adana pact between Turkey and Syria back in the news? https://www.arabnews.com/node/1441931

  124. Bait&Switch says:

    “US to deploy more troops to eastern Syria to secure oilfields : Analysts question latest Trump policy shift that reportedly includes deployment of more troops alongside Kurdish forces.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/deploy-troops-eastern-syrian-secure-oil-fields-191025022517393.html “…Brett McGurk, the top US official leading Trump’s anti-ISIL campaign until January, also criticized the latest shift in a social media post.
    “The president of the United States of America appears to be calling for a mass migration of Kurds to the desert where they can resettle atop a tiny oilfield. Shocking ignorance of history, geography, law, American values, human decency, and honor.”
    Trump had justified his earlier decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, saying he sought to bring about 1,000 troops home and end American involvement there.”
    See also “How Much Oil Is Up For Grabs In Syria?” https://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/How-Much-Oil-Is-Up-For-Grabs-In-Syria.html and “Why does Trump think we’ve ‘taken control’ of Middle Eastern oil?” http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-does-trump-think-weve-taken-control-middle-eastern-oil

  125. Kuzma's mother says:

    Russia decries US decision to secure oil fields in eastern Syria https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/russia-decries-decision-secure-oil-fields-eastern-syria-191026183322358.html
    Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “What Washington is doing now, the seizure and control of oil fields in eastern Syria under its armed control, is, quite simply, international state banditry.”
    “All hydrocarbon deposits and other minerals located on the territory of Syria do not belong to the ISIL terrorists, and even less to the ‘American defenders from ISIL terrorists,’ but exclusively to the Syrian Arab Republic,” he added.
    Is Russia the new power broker in Middle East?
    “The real cause of this illegal action by the United States in Syria lies far from the ideals that Washington has proclaimed and from the slogans of fighting terrorism,” Konashenkov said.

  126. Stay tuned says:

    “Peace deal announced between Yemeni government, separatists : Saudi crown prince describes agreement as a crucial step towards a political solution to end Yemen’s bloody war.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/peace-deal-announced-yemeni-government-separatists-191105145143441.html “The war in Yemen has claimed tens of thousands of lives, pushed millions to the brink of famine, and spawned the world’s most devastating humanitarian crisis.”
    Meanwhile: “Iran will start injecting uranium gas into hundreds of centrifuges at its Fordow facility in the latest step away from the crumbling nuclear deal with world powers since the United States withdrew from the landmark accord last year.
    In a televised statement on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the 1,044 machines at the plant will be injected with the uranium gas starting on Wednesday.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/iran-rouhani-announces-step-2015-nuclear-deal-191105074912547.html “Under the nuclear deal signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, these centrifuges are supposed to spin without gas injection. Tehran has gradually reduced commitments made under the accord – including uranium stockpile and enrichment limits – since being hit with renewed US sanctions last year.
    Rouhani gave his European partners another two-month deadline to protect Iran’s economy from crippling US sanctions.
    “We can’t unilaterally accept that we completely fulfill our commitments and they don’t follow up on their commitments,” he said.”

  127. Stay tuned says:

    The U.S. will keep its military base in al-Tanf after American troops leave Syria under President Donald Trump’s announcement last month. https://www.crisisgroup.org/trigger-list/iran-us-trigger-list/flashpoints/al-tanf-syria
    Some 200 U.S. military personnel are believed to remain at the al-Tanf base. Middle East observers say the base is vital to preventing weapons trafficking between Iraq and Syria. https://www.polygraph.info/a/fact-check-russia-us-al-tanf-rukban/30279001.html
    The al-Tanf base is located inside a 55-kilometer “de-confliction zone” on the Baghdad-Damascus (M2) highway. According to the Pentagon, the base serves as an outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/military/inside-remote-u-s-base-syria-central-combating-isis-countering-n922991
    Iran, Russia and Syria have been pressuring the U.S. to leave al-Tanf, in order to open up a route for Iranian military aid to Syrian government forces. The U.S. base in al-Tanf has been the target of a Russian disinformation campaign, Polygraph.info has previously established. https://www.polygraph.info/a/us-tanf-syria-russia-rukban/28886915.html
    The U.S. base is strategically located near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders. https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/trump-oks-wider-syria-oil-mission-raising-legal-questions-1.606153
    The Rukban camp, also known as the Berm, is located in the desert near Syria’s border with Jordan. It first appeared in 2014, when Syrians fleeing the country’s civil war gathered at the border checkpoint there, trying to cross over to Jordan.
    According to the Jordanian government, as of 2016, the country had admitted more than 1.4 million Syrian refugees, overwhelming Jordan’s economy and infrastructure. Jordan closed its borders with Syria and blocked the Rukban crossing point.
    The population in the Rukban camp has fluctuated and currently is estimated at around 40,000.
    Russia and the Syrian government have been accused of creating a humanitarian disaster in the Rukban camp by blocking the delivery of aid in an attempt to force the U.S. to abandon the al-Tanf base. https://www.polygraph.info/a/fact-check-russia-us-al-tanf-rukban/30279001.html

  128. Provocateur says:

    The number of US troops in Saudi Arabia will reach 3,000 in the coming weeks as Washington boosts its forces in the Kingdom to help defend against Iran.
    In a letter to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Donald Trump said the forces had been deployed “to assure our partners, deter further Iranian provocative behavior, and bolster regional defensive capabilities. https://www.arabnews.com/node/1586641/saudi-arabia
    On Tuesday, the US aircraft carrier strike group Abraham Lincoln [ Carrier Strike Group Twelve (CSG-12 or CARSTRKGRU 12] sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, where the attacks on shipping have taken place.

  129. OK then... says:

    “From Foreign Policy Without Direction to War Without a Goal : Trump’s Brash Assassination of Suleimani Could Lead to Much More Fighting Across the Middle East; Iran Has the Next Move” https://www.dcreport.org/2020/01/03/qassim-suleimani-killed-in-baghdad/

    “Iran in mourning, vows revenge for Qassem Soleimani’s killing : Iran is transformed after its second-most powerful figure was killed in a US attack, seen as a dramatic escalation.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/iran-mourning-vows-revenge-qassem-soleimani-killing-200103100607193.html “The assassination of Qassem Soleimani has definitely enraged a majority of Iranians, irrespective of political beliefs,” said Ali Akbar Dareini, an expert on Iran-US affairs at the Center for Strategic Studies in Tehran.
    Soleimani was the most popular political figure in Iran, according to several local and external polls. The latest, a poll commissioned by the Center of International and Security Studies at Maryland University, found that Soleimani had increased his influence, with eight in 10 respondents saying they view him favorably.
    “The unilateral US sanctions were a declaration of economic war and this reckless move is obviously a major escalation and a declaration of war against Iran,” Dareini told Al Jazeera.

    The White House and Pentagon said the attack on Soleimani was carried out with the aim of deterring future attacks allegedly being planned by Iran.

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