Category Archives: Gulf states

Obama’s lonely ‘Arab Summit’

Ever since he decided to chase the mirage of a “Grand Bargain” with Iran, President Obama has pretended that the only opposition comes from Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and “hardline” Republicans in the Congress.

He was to highlight that claim by hosting a summit for “key Arab allies” at Camp David this week.

Yet the exercise has instead shown the failure of Obama to sell his narrative to “key Arab allies” even before the first round of orange juice is served at Camp David.

Of the six heads of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, only two, the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, will attend.

Even the offer by Obama of a separate tete-a-tete in Washington could not persuade Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to attend what Riyadh sources describe as “a photo-op” aimed at hoodwinking the American public…


Related: The Financial Times* is reporting that “Gulf Arabs fear Iran with cash as much as Iran with the bomb.” Excerpt:

One reason this is going to be difficult for him to sell to Gulf Arab leaders at this week’s meeting at Camp David is that Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies feel this balance has already tilted alarmingly towards Shia Iran. Some of their officials can be heard fulminating about Tehran’s ambition to recreate a Persian empire in Arab lands. They fear that if the framework nuclear deal agreed in Lausanne in April is formally concluded next month, an Iran freed of international sanctions on its economy could lock in its Arab gains and become unstoppable…

…Iran was the big winner from the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which toppled the Sunni minority tyranny of Saddam Hussein and installed Shia majority rule…

…In civil war-riven Syria, the minority regime of Bashar al-Assad, which has already morphed into a national militia network under IRGC guidance, is a ward of the Iranian state and its proxies such as Hizbollah, the Lebanese paramilitary movement…

…In this context, European and Arab officials emphasise, Gulf leaders are not worried about Tehran eventually getting a nuclear bomb so much as a post-sanctions Iran getting its hands on real money.

They have seen how much Iran can do with hardly any money, and how little they themselves can do, with vast cash piles accumulated before last year’s oil price crash. Syria highlights how important money now is…


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Yemen minister calls for Gulf Arab military intervention

Yemeni protesters shout slogans and set alight tires during a demonstration against the Houthi takeover of several state facilities in the central city of Taiz. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

(Reuters) – Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen called on Monday for Gulf Arab military intervention to halt advances by Houthi fighters, a move that could draw neighboring states into the country’s deepening power struggle.

The Sunni Muslim monarchies of the Gulf back President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose forces have recently suffered reverses at the hands of Iranian-backed Houthis approaching his base in the southern port of Aden from the north.

“We are requesting an intervention by the Gulf Shield forces to stop this Iranian-backed Houthi expansion,” Yaseen told the newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, referring to a military force of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“We have expressed to the GCC, the United Nations as well as the international community that there should be a no-fly zone, and the use of military aircraft should be prevented at the airports controlled by the Houthis.”

The Houthis, who share a Shi’ite Muslim ideology with Iran, seized the capital Sanaa in September, a blow to the state which widened splits in the army. The group initially shared power with Hadi but dissolved parliament last month.

Saudi Arabia and its Arab neighbors view their takeover as a coup and believe Iran is trying to build up its power in the region by backing armed proxies…

Related: Could Yemen conflict get worse? Experts warn of rising sectarianism.

Arabs will take action over Yemen if peace efforts fail – Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia to build military base near Yemen border

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PressTV: Unveiling the Muslim Judas

The file photo shows former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (R) shaking hands with Tzipi Livni, Israel’s ex-minister for foreign affairs.

Suspicions have been growing for years about a growing behind-the-scenes relationship between Israel and members of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council. The name that has come up a lot over the years is Qatar, with which the Israeli relationship is a lot more open and has spanned trade to even face-to-face meetings and handshakes between high-level officials.

The past numbers of years, though, have consistently brought forth two names in the more secretive relationship between Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The most recent example of a blurring of lines between Israeli and Saudi policies, for example, is Saudi media’s ‘tacit’ support for Netanyahu’s much derided speech at the US Congress in opposition to essentially any deal between the West and Iran over a falsely-hyped nuclear issue.

In fact, Saudi media attacks on Obama, and in support of Netanyahu, had already begun in the lead-up to the Israeli PM’s US Congress address.

It may be an understatement for us to say that for the Saudi establishment to quite openly ask, ‘Who could believe that Netanyahu has taken a better stand than Obama with regard to the Iranian nuclear file?’ is ‘tacit’ support. This is an especially pertinent sentiment when seen in line with recent reports about the likely Saudi approval of Israeli flyovers over its territory in the hypothetical case of an Israeli attack on Iran…

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Gulf Arab states urge bigger international role in Yemen crisis, as blast hits Yemeni capital

A Houthi militiaman stands guard as a forensic expert (R) inspects the scene of a blast near the republican palace in Sanaa February 7, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

(Reuters) – Concerned Gulf Arab nations called on the international community to take a stronger position on Yemen and expressed concern about Iranian influence amid the political instability there, a senior State Department official said on Friday after meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, no plans were made to contact Tehran about the situation during talks between Kerry and foreign ministers and senior officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, the official added.

“There was a feeling that the international community needed to take a stronger position, either through the U.N. or another multilateral organization,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“There was concern about Iranian influence but no one discussed getting in touch with the Iranians,” the official said, adding that there was also talk about more Security Council meetings on Yemen…

Related: Gulf countries condemn Houthi takeover in Yemen as a ‘coup’ (Don’t forget that the Houthis are Shi’ites).

Meanwhile, U.N. ready to take ‘further steps’ if Yemen talks not resumed

Finally, NYT has a Q & A:

Q: WHO ARE THE HOUTHIS?

A: They are a modern Shiite tribal movement rooted in northern Yemen along the nation’s border with Saudi Arabia. Their name honors their first military commander, Hussein al-Houthi, who launched an anti-government rebellion following the U.S. invasion of Iraq with the aim of toppling Yemen’s pro-Western government. He was killed by Yemen’s army in 2004. Houthis again took part in the 2011 Arab Spring rebellion against the government of then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but rejected a compromise plan that passed power to Saleh’s successor, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. They since have consolidated their military hold over Yemen’s northern provinces and, in September 2014, moved south to seize control of the capital, Sanaa, and other major cities.

Q: HOW DO THE HOUTHIS INTEND TO GOVERN THEIR FEUD-PRONE LAND?

A: Without support from the two-thirds of the population that is Sunni Muslim, it will be difficult and dangerous, running the risk of provoking civil war…

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How Iran Is Encircling the Gulf and Israel

A ballistic missile on display in Iran. (Image source: Fars News)

With bases in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Iran has surrounded all the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This encirclement can be comfortably backed with Iran’s ongoing nuclear weapons program.

The Iranians already have Hezbollah sitting on Israel’s northern border. All they need now is another terror group sitting in Gaza to the south, in order to create a similar encirclement. And they are working hard to achieve that goal.

“We welcome any party that supports the Palestinian cause.” — Osama Hamden, Hamas leader.

Iran is not interested in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The only thing Iran is interested in there is turning Hamas into another Iranian-backed army that would be used to attack Israel…

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