Lebanon’s prime minister, a prisoner in Saudi Arabia?

This video says about itself:

6 November 2017

The Saudi power struggle hits the Arab world’s poorest country | News News

A Yemeni girl carries wood as a Houthi militiaman keeps watch Sunday at the site of an alleged Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa. (Yahya Arhab/European Pressphoto Agency/EFE/Rex/Shutterstock)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s apparent consolidation of power risks exacerbating an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting a rebel group … for more than two years. On Sunday, shortly after carrying out a purge of royal cousins and other high-ranking officials, an emboldened crown prince announced that the coalition would forcibly close all of Yemen’s ground, air and sea ports.

The move came after the Houthi militia fired a ballistic missile at the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The Saudi-led coalition had already restricted access to Yemen’s ports, but a full closure has long been feared as a potential trigger for widespread starvation. A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 after the Houthis took control of the capital city of Sanaa. Since then, the coalition has destroyed much of Yemen’s economy and infrastructure. Mohammed is widely seen as the architect of the coalition’s offensive in Yemen.

Around 7 million Yemenis are now on the brink of famine, according to aid agencies, and 10 million more do not know where they will get their next meal. Cholera is spreading uncontrollably, with more than 800,000 cases reported and fears that the number will cross a million by year’s end. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed, many by coalition airstrikes. “The idea of even more restrictions in Yemen is a cause for major concern,” said Scott Paul, a senior humanitarian policy adviser at Oxfam who has worked in Yemen. “This could be a blip, but it could also be a sea change.”

By James Tweedie:

Lebanon demands former PM’s return

Saturday 11th November 2017

Suspicions grow that Saudis are keeping Hariri prisoner

LEBANON’S government demanded the return of former prime minister Saad Hariri yesterday as suspicions grew that he is being held prisoner in the kingdom.

The call came as Saudi, Kuwaiti and Bahraini citizens began flying out of Lebanon following Thursday’s orders from their governments.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun summoned Saudi charge d’affaires Walid al-Bukhari to the presidential palace yesterday.

He said Mr Hariri’s extraordinary resignation, announced on television from the Saudi capital on Saturday, was “unacceptable” and urged him to return.

Foreign Minister Jibran Bassil tweeted: “Today we demand the return to the nation of our Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

“We paid a heavy price to elect a president and a premier who represent us,” he wrote. “We chose our representatives and we are the ones to decide whether to remove them or not.”

Mr Hariri’s own Future Movement party also called on him to return “to restore the internal and external balance of Lebanon” in a statement read out by former prime minister Fouad Siniora on Thursday.

That was after Mr Hariri’s plane returned from Riyadh without him.

Saudi Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan warned Beirut on Monday that it would be “declaring war” on the kingdom if the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement, an ally of Iran, was not excluded from the unity government that Mr Hariri formed last year.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office claimed yesterday that the French and US ambassadors to Saudi Arabia had seen Mr Hariri, who “says he is not a prisoner, the prince [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] says he is not a prisoner.”

Mr Macron flew from the neighbouring United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia in Thursday night to meet the crown prince, who only received the title from King Salman in June.

Before the French president left, he echoed unproven Saudi and US claims that the Yemeni ballistic missile that hit Riyadh airport on Saturday had been supplied by Iran.

France, the US and Britain all supply arms to countries in the Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen since early 2015. British officers also train Saudi troops and help direct the war from the country’s command centre.

Amid the eruption of an open confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, French President Emmanuel Macron suddenly decided on November 9, amid an official visit to Abu Dhabi, to visit Saudi Arabia for talks. In Abu Dhabi, Macron had, among other official activities, visited a military base from which French warplanes bomb targets in Iraq and Syria, in order to announce further military operations: here.

What Craziness Is Going On in Saudi Arabia? Here.

The recent mass arrests in Saudi Arabia combined with the kidnapping of Lebanon’s prime minister, the escalation of the war against Yemen and Riyadh’s charge that both Iran and Lebanon have “declared war” against it point to an immense regional crisis that threatens to erupt into a wider conflict: here.

Lebanese PM Saad Hariri ‘pressured to resign’ by the Saudis, according to a New York Times report: here.

15 thoughts on “Lebanon’s prime minister, a prisoner in Saudi Arabia?

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  3. Saturday 25th November 2017

    The events of the last few weeks in the Middle East have brought the threat of a wider armed conflict in the region closer than ever, writes JANE GREEN

    PEACE in the Middle East has, for many decades, been a rare commodity. The flow of oil, gas and minerals, which has seen the development of some of the richest states on the planet, has not brought with it a rush of democratic control.

    On the contrary, from the controlling input of the oil transnationals under British colonial rule, to the dynastic dictatorships sold to the Western public as “royal” families, the mineral wealth of the region has been ruthlessly exploited to benefit a select few.

    Over recent decades the power balance has ebbed and flowed with different allegiances being fashioned to suit the needs of the West, in order to ensure that oil supplies kept flowing and rival economies were kept at bay.

    The dictatorship of the Shah of Iran suited the needs of British and US interests in Iranian oil fields in the decades that followed WWII.

    The West was quick to back Saddam Hussein in Iraq when it was clear that Western interests could still be protected.

    Saudi Arabia, in spite of being a single-family dictatorship, is nevertheless fawned over by presidents and royalty, keen to keep the oil flowing one way and arms sales the other.

    The revolution in Iran in 1979 — followed a few years later by the unexpected seizure of power by a ruthless theocracy and the establishment of the reactionary Islamic Republic — was the key point at which relationships began to change significantly.

    Not only did the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran marked a significant break in guaranteed allegiances with the West, it also exacerbated differences within the Muslim world between the Shi’ite and Sunni strands of Islam.

    The Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) was a significant attempt by the West — that backed Saddam Hussein’s attack upon Iran — to restore the pre-revolutionary balance in the region.

    Inevitably, as with most efforts by the West in the region, the plan backfired and Iran emerged stronger in the eyes of many looking for a focal point for opposition to Western interference in the Middle East.

    That such a reactionary regime could be seen as remotely anti-imperialist is both an irony and a contradiction.

    The reality of Iran’s human rights abuses against its own peace activists, political opposition, trade unionists and women should have put paid to any illusions that the regime represented anything progressive long ago.

    However, for some Muslims, the alternative Saudi-led interpretation of Sunni Islam is regarded as infinitely worse than anything Shi’ite Iran has offered.

    The anti-West feeling in the region has been heightened by the failure to curb Israeli brutality in Palestine, the post-September 11 2001 invasion of Iraq and interventions in Afghanistan and Libya.

    More recent Western efforts to stoke civil war in Syria, as well as supporting the Saudi blockade and bombardment of Yemen, have added to the feeling that the adage “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” may have some mileage.

    Significantly, much of the military equipment used by the Saudis in Yemen comes from Britain, while the effective Saudi blockade of Yemen’s borders has not been challenged by either the US or the EU.

    The recent bizarre resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri can only be understood in the context of the wider power play unfolding in the region. Hariri was called to Riyadh, where upon landing his mobile phone and those of his bodyguards were confiscated.

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s own “Night of the long knives” began only hours after Hariri’s arrival in Riyadh — it has seen the house arrest of 11 princes, including the immensely wealthy Al-Waleed bin Talal, four ministers and scores of other former government lackeys have also been arrested. Up to 1,700 bank accounts have also been frozen.

    His plan appears to include an attempt to destabilise Lebanon by removing Hariri and effectively throwing down the gauntlet to cabinet partners Hezbollah, who are backed by Iran.

    This is supported by the fact that Hariri read out — on Saudi-owned TV — a scripted announcement of his resignation as Prime Minister of Lebanon, while calling for the disarming of Hezbollah and accusing Iran of interference across the region.

    Over the same weekend Houthi rebels, suffering relentless Saudi bombardment in Yemen, launched a missile attack upon Riyadh airport. Although the Saudis managed to intercept the missile before it hit the ground they have nevertheless proclaimed the attack as “an act of war” by Iran. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir has threatened to take “appropriate” action when the time is right.

    Jubeir claims that the missile was made in Iran and smuggled in parts into Yemen where, he claimed, “operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah” helped put it back together again and then launch it.

    The wider context of recent events must also include the 2015 nuclear deal brokered with Iran — which US President Donald Trump is keen to tear up — and US insistence on keeping all options when dealing with Iran.

    While those options may not necessarily mean a direct attack by the US on Iran, it seems increasingly probable that a US proxy — such as Israel or Saudi Arabia — could be the conduit for such an action or an orchestration of a regional crisis involving Iran.

    To suggest that the escalation of such a conflict would be a threat to world peace is no exaggeration. As the recent years of conflict in Syria have shown, alliances in the region rarely take account of the needs of the people but are geared towards the control of the rich oil and mineral resources of the Middle East.

    While the rhetoric of “fighting for democratic freedoms” will still be deployed when deemed useful, the reality remains that little, if any, democracy has come from Western interventions in the region in the past decades.

    There is every prospect that the West, however, particularly the US, may regard intervention against Iran as in some way as necessary.

    The defeat of Islamic State forces, across Iraq and Syria, has involved Iranian-trained fighters on the ground. Iran now controls a significant land corridor, running from Tehran to Tartous in Syria, providing an important access route to the Mediterranean.

    Iran’s designs on extending its influence across the region take account of the continued supremacy of its theocratic rule.

    The Saudis and Israel claim that the extension of Iranian influence in the region represents an existential threat. As unlikely as they may seem as allies, both the Saudis and Israel are backed by the US, itself struggling to retain its hegemonic foothold in the region.

    Recent events do not augur well for the people of the Middle East, who are inevitably caught in the crossfire.

    The Saudi blockade of Yemen alone, which relies on imports for 90 per cent of its food supply, is creating a humanitarian crisis of major proportions.

    The people of Iran continue to suffer under a theocracy that controls all spheres of life from the economy and politics to the social and cultural. The dictatorship in Saudi Arabia remains a barrier to any form of individual or democratic freedom.

    With both the Iranian regime and the Saudis digging in their heels, the need for democrats in the West to put pressure upon their governments not to intervene and not to exacerbate tensions is urgent.

    Addressing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is one area in which pressure can be applied. Backing the groundswell of opposition to arms sales to Saudi Arabia is another.

    Western warmongering has done much to inflame the Middle East and the desire to protect corporate interests has been behind much of the rhetoric.

    Taking the same path will not provide a solution and the people of the Middle East will not thank us for continuing down that route.

    • Jane Green is national campaign officer of Codir, the Committee for the Defence of Iranian People’s Rights and can be contacted at codir_info@btinternet.com. For further information on Iran visit codir.net



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