Kerry and Ban in truce bid to save Hamas from defeat. Israel holds reply. Cairo won’t amend truce proposal

Three rival groups are in a tug-o’-war over a ceasefire initiative for the Gaza conflict: The US and UN are pulling one way; Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the other; and Qatar, Turkey, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, are trying to manipulate the others.

Monday night, July 21, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo to press their case with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi: Kerry’s directive was outlined by President Barack Obama a few hours earlier, “to focus on bringing about a ceasefire than ends the fighting and can stop the death of innocent civilians.”

Reported to be pushing for a long-term ceasefire, the UN Secretary went on to comment that it was impossible to go back to the situation that caused the conflict. He ruled out the “status quo ante” for the Gaza Strip as untenable. Continue reading

Saudi Arabia’s New Strategic Game in South Asia

Motivated by old and new security anxieties, and above all, by its sectarian competition with Iran, Saudi Arabia is playing a new game in South Asia. In a dramatic shift from prior decades, warming ties with India have already served Riyadh well by steering New Delhi away from a closer partnership with Tehran. Separately, reenergized links with Pakistan offer Riyadh even more potent ammunition to counter Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions.

Although Western analysts tend to view Saudi policies through a Middle Eastern lens, Riyadh’s South Asia play is a high-stakes gambit with direct consequences for Iranian nuclear developments, the war in Syria, Pakistan’s stability and Indo-Pakistani peace. Fortunately, if Washington is clever and a little lucky, many of Riyadh’s moves with Islamabad and New Delhi can be turned to the U.S. advantage. Continue reading

GCC oil fields and military bases threatened by the Islamic State

Saudi Arabia is facing today growing security threats amid fears that the same terrorism it established in neighboring countries, such as Iraq and Syria, will expand to reach its own territories, especially since the “Islamic State” organization has learned many lessons from the past experiences of its predecessor, al-Qaeda, with the Saudi regime.

New York – The Gulf governments seem worried these days. None of them had imagined, a few months ago, that individuals entrusted with security, people’s lives, oil fields and weapons would eventually pose the main threat to all these valuables.

Times have changed, so did the rules of the game. The new “caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, supported by countries of the Gulf that have provided him with money and arms, will not wait before striking. Al-Baghdadi may even resort to a preemptive war, this time launched from inside, not from across the borders. Continue reading

Jordanian Bedouin hoist Al Qaeda flag in Ma’an – 104 km from Eilat. US, Israeli forces on the ready

“Ma’an is the Falluja of Jordan!” shouted thousands of Bedouin Saturday, June 28, in the southern Jordanian town of Ma’an. This legend was inscribed on the placards and flags they bore aloft with one hand in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). In the other, they waved automatic rifles.

Ma’an (pop: 50,000) is in a sensitive location:  218 km south of Amman, it also lies 104 km from the Israeli port town of Eilat and some 60 km from the main artery cutting south from northern Israel to the south.

But although pro-Al Qaeda riots have been going on for days in Ma’an, capital of the southern province of the Kingdom of Jordan, military and security personnel have not been seen in its vicinity. Continue reading

King Abdullah calls up Saudi armed forces on high preparedness. Egyptian troops ready to fly to kingdom

Thursday, June 26, the day before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in Riyadh, King Abdullah summoned a National Security Council meeting “upon the current security events in the region, especially in Iraq,” and ordered “all necessary measures to protect the kingdom against terrorist threats.” This meant a general call-up of military units for a high level of preparedness.

debkafile’s military sources disclose that Egypt is assembling an expeditionary commando force to fly to Saudi Arabia and bolster its border defenses.

This flurry of Saudi-Egyptian military steps comes in the wake of intelligence gathered by Saudi reconnaissance planes showing Iraqi Al Qaeda-linked Sunni fighters (ISIS) heading for the Saudi border and aiming to seize control of the Iraqi-Saudi crossing at Ar Ar (pop: 200,000). Continue reading

The U.S. Must Deny Russian Influence in Egypt

In the violent aftermath of the Egyptian military’s removal of Mohamed Morsi from power, the United States has tried to send a message with limited suspensions of aid. As the security situation on the Sinai Peninsula continues to deteriorate, re-engaging Egypt in counterterrorism efforts is warranted. The administration’s oscillating decisions to maintain, halt, and then reinstate this type of security assistance have been confusing at best and harmful at worst. Egypt’s need for satellite services (including launch capabilities) to address the growing problem of insurgents in the Sinai is a key national security concern to Egypt, Israel, and the U.S.

On the geopolitical stage, the fact that Russia has stepped in to solve Egypt’s technology services gap should further motivate the U.S. to action.The Egyptian sentiment that the U.S. has turned its back on them in their hour of need has left an opening for other players to provide financial and technical military assistance. Attempting to preserve the appearance of propriety and support a democratically elected leader, exert regional influence, and keep radical Islamists out of office, Washington has fallen short and created a vacuum whereby a pro-Syrian Russia has moved in to further its strategic regional interests. Continue reading

Major U.S. city next target for Islamic terror

ISIS militants not planning to stop in Iraq

WASHINGTON – Beyond Iraq, what is the intent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria?

There appears to be short- and long-term goals, with a hint of those intentions in the name ISIS has chosen for itself.

Its real name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, meaning Greater Syria.

ISIS, morphing from the Islamic State of Iraq before it was excommunicated from al-Qaida central in Pakistan last year for its extreme Wahhabi brutality, appears to have intentions of re-creating Greater Syria into an Islamic caliphate, subject to strict Shariah law. Continue reading

The New Map of the Middle East

 

The map you see above, and also embedded below, was the main illustration for the piece, which appeared in the January/February 2008 issue. I introduced the conceit of the story this way:

As America approaches the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the list of the war’s unintended consequences is without end (as opposed to the list of intended consequences, which is, so far, vanishingly brief). The list includes, notably, the likelihood that the Kurds will achieve their independence and that Iraq will go the way of Gaul and be divided into three parts—but it also includes much more than that. Across the Middle East, and into south-central Asia, the intrinsically artificial qualities of several states have been brought into focus by the omnivorous American response to the attacks of 9/11; it is not just Iraq and Afghanistan that appear to be incoherent amalgamations of disparate tribes and territories. The precariousness of such states as Lebanon and Pakistan, of course, predates the invasion of Iraq. But the wars against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and especially Saddam Hussein have made the durability of the modern Middle East state system an open question in ways that it wasn’t a mere seven years ago. Continue reading

Anonymous plans global cyber attacks on energy firms on Friday

Dubai: AnonGhost, a politically motivated group of hacktivists, is planning to launch cyber attacks on energy companies globally, including Adnoc and Enoc in the UAE, on Friday for using the dollar in oil trades.

This is according to a YouTube post link tweeted by the AnonGhost team.

“It is a follow-up from the #opPetrol operation in 2013. They [Anonymous] are serious about its political message and they will deliver it,” Nicolai Solling, director of technology services at Help AG, told ‘Gulf News’.

Continue reading

‘Proxy wars’ caused Iraq unrest

Essentially, an American forces reduction in Iraq created a power vacuum which Iran has happily attempted to fill in its quest for capturing the entire Middle East. Not wanting it to go unchecked and taking notice of the USA’s neglect, Saudi Arabia has stepped into the fray. Iran from the beginning has engineered the chaos and has now offered a pre-chosen solution in reaching out to America in ‘restabilizing’ Iraq. Iraq is now taking the bait by accepting Iranian troops and soon we will likely see an Iranian-dominated Middle East — without an American presence. You can also thank Russia (and China) for empowering Iran to begin with and making it what it is today, starting with the Iranian revolution.

Baghdad/ Berlin: While German  foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned on Sunday that the bloody conflict in Iraq could quickly spin into a regional “proxy war”, former  spokesperson for the US defence department J.D. Gordon said that the renewed violence is actually a “proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the Iranians which is now spilled over into Iraq and there will be a lot more violence in the months, years to come.”

“The Islamist radicals are being funded by the Saudis, Gulf states. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not include the Sunnis in the power-sharing agreement like he should have, so there a lot of Sunnis who are upset,” Mr Gordon was quoted as saying by Fox News. Continue reading

‘Death of money’: Author Rickards predicts collapse of global monetary system

The collapse of the monetary system awaits the world in the near future, says financial expert James Rickards. Russia and China’s desire to rid the US dollar of its global reserve currency status is an early sign of the “increasingly inevitable” crisis.

“China has three trillion dollars, but they are buying gold as fast as they can. China worries that the US is going to devalue the dollar through inflation so they want to have a hedge if the dollar goes down, so the gold will go up,” Rickards told RT.

As one of the key events in support of his forecast, Rickards points to the words uttered by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 18th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg that took place earlier this month.

“Putin said he envisions a Eurasian economic zone involving Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russia. The Russian ruble is nowhere near ready to be a global reserve currency, but it could be a regional reserve currency,” he said, as quoted by ETF Daily News. Continue reading

US accepts Shahab-3s in Iran’s missile arsenal, but not long-range ICBMs. Deep resentment in Jerusalem

Two high-ranking US visitors to Israel, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, publicly assured Israel this month that the Obama administration “would do what it must” to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. Yet at the same time, the same administration informed Tehran that the demand to restrict Iran’s missile arsenal did not apply to the Shahab-3 ballistic missile, whose range of 2,100km covers any point in the Middle East, including Israel. This missile carries warheads weighing 760 kg, to 1.1 tons, which may also be nuclear. Continue reading

Saudis parade nuclear missiles for the first time in defiance of US-Iranian nuclear accord

Saudi Arabia became the first Middle East nation to publicly exhibit its nuclear-capable missiles. The long-range, liquid propellant DF-3 ballistic missile (NATO designated CSS-2), purchased from China 27 years ago, was displayed for the first time at a Saudi military parade Tuesday, April 29, in the eastern military town of Hafar Al-Batin, at the junction of the Saudi-Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders.

Watched by a wide array of Saudi defense and military dignitaries, headed by Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Salman bin Abdulaziz, the parade marked the end of the large-scale “Abdullah’s Sword” military war game.

Conspicuous on the saluting stand was the Pakistani Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif alongside eminent visitors, including King Hamad of Bahrain and Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report the event was deliberately loaded with highly-significant messages, the foremost of which was that the Middle East is in the throes of a nuclear arms race in the wake of the Iranian program. Continue reading

Sources: White House deliberately leaked photo of ill Saudi King with breathing tube

WASHINGTON — The United States is said to have disclosed that Saudi King Abdullah was dying.

Diplomatic sources said the administration of President Barack Obama relayed a photograph that showed Abdullah with a breathing tube, Middle East Newsline reported.

The sources said the photograph was taken by White House personnel during Obama’s meeting with the Saudi king outside Riyad on March 28.

“The Saudis specifically did not want any photograph that showed Abdullah with the tube,” a source said. “But there was a White House photographer that took the picture for what he said was history.” Continue reading

World View: Pakistan Asked to Send 30,000 Troops to Saudi Arabia

Is Saudi Arabia possibly getting ready to shield themselves from attack after potentially dropping the US Dollar in oil trading?

There are not too many other explanations as to why the Saudi regime would do this, other than to head off a threat to the leadership. Iran, while not allies with the Saudis, have very little motive for invading. The only real power in the world with the ability or possible need to overthrow the government for regime change would be the United States.

Before the second Iraq war took place, Saddam Hussein threatened to drop the petrodollar. Dropping the Dollar from oil trade would collapse the economy. Not just from one nation alone, but more would likely follow if one could get away with it.

Pakistan asked to send 30,000 troops to Saudi Arabia

Reports out of Pakistan indicate that Saudi Arabia has asked Pakistan to dispatch 30,000 troops to the Kingdom as part of a bilateral defense agreement that’s currently being formulated in a flurry of visits and meetings between defense and military officials from the two countries. Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif said:

“In view of current challenges, there is a need to further strengthen defense cooperation between the two countries and a new era of strategic relationship needs to start.” Continue reading

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