Tag Archives: Houthi

They had been warned

Only hours ago, the NY Times gives us a part that wants to makes me want to go ‘I told you so!‘, but I will not. With ‘The U.N.’s Uncomfortable Truths About Iran‘, Nikki Haley gives us the goods from a report published a week ago (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/opinion/nikki-haley-united-nations-iran.html). The quote: “A panel of experts found that Iran is violating a United Nations weapons embargo — specifically, that missiles fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels into Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran“, part of these issues I raised in ‘Disney’s Yemeni Cricket‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/02/04/disneys-yemeni-cricket/) two weeks ago. The part I had not looked at is seen in Nikki’s article. She captures it perfectly in: “The mullahs in Iran don’t want to hear this news, because it proves Iran is violating its international agreement. Die-hard defenders of the Iran nuclear deal don’t want to hear it because it proves, once again, that the Iranian regime can’t be trusted. And some members of the United Nations don’t want to hear it because it is further proof that Iran is defying Security Council resolutions, and the pressure will be on the U.N. to do something about it“. Yet, the UN is not acting, is it? The Guardian on Jan 11th gives rise to the ‘need’ that the US is not tearing up the Iranian nuclear deal. With “the three EU signatories to the deal insisted that Iran was respecting the agreement signed in 2015” they are making a reference to the UK, France and Germany. The fact that we see: “Federica Mogherini, said the deal, denounced by Trump as the worst ever made, had in reality “made the world safer and prevented a potential nuclear arms race in the region”“, which might hold some truth in regards to the fact that it was the worst deal, but that is pretty much it. In addition she gives us “any doubts the EU harboured over Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, or its overall policy of interference across the Middle East, were separate from the nuclear deal – also known as the JCPOA“. Now the part in the Guardian happened a week after the actual attack. I think that the entire event is a sham. I think that the three nations had been clearly briefed on the entire Houthi matter, as well as the fact that the three parts that Nikki Haley gives us is on par, the EU is merely in denial, because after all the wasteful blunders and failures they had signed up for, another failure is a lot more than any of the three could handle. The intelligence services did what they needed to do, but here it is again short-sighted side in all this, whilst they remain nationally protective, for now that is.

So is that true?

Well that is the issue. Apart from e not having the original texts, there are a few issues that Nikki is completely correct in, yet in the end she is not (not completely at least). When we look at United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, we see “The resolution updates and adds to the list of technical items related to nuclear and missile proliferation that are banned for transfer to and from Iran“, which makes the view of Nikki Haley correct, then there is “Iran is subject to a new regime for inspection of suspicious cargo to detect and stop Iran’s smuggling. States should inspect any vessel on their territory suspected of carrying prohibited cargo, including banned conventional arms or sensitive nuclear or missile items. States are also expected to cooperate in such inspections on the high seas“, so is this enough, can we state that the arming of Houthi’s in Yemen is a ‘smuggling operation’, or ‘a classified shipment’ in support of Houthi’s? You see, the classification is everything in this limelight.

The resolution holds a lot more, yet most of that is directed at shipments to Iran and/or nuclear materials. Yet now we get to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which makes the view of Nikki Haley wrong. Here we see: “Resolution 2231 calls for Iran to refrain from activity related to nuclear-capable missiles (“Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology“, however, the Deutsche Welle give us: “according to diplomats the language is not legally binding and cannot be enforced with punitive measures“, so basically, Nikki is in spirit very correct, yet in black letter law, there is no clarity and more important, no punitive option. In all this, we see that top EU diplomat, Federica Mogherini was correct.

In the spirit of it all, Iran seems to become a bigger player and a much larger danger to any level of Middle Eastern stability. Nikki ends the article with “Today, armed with this evidence, we have the chance to rein in Iran’s behavior and demand that it live up to its international agreements that discourage conflict. But if action is not taken, then someday soon, when innocent Saudi civilians are killed by Iranian weapons, the chance for peace will be lost.

I am not sure of that, you see, just like Turkey, Iran will do whatever it pleases and the US knows that, as did the three players (UK, France and Germany), who are desperately trying to hold on the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) like it is the golden fleece.

However, only 4 hours ago Reuters treats us to: “Britain, the United States and France want the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran for failing to stop its ballistic missiles from falling into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group and commit to take action over the sanctions violations, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters“, with “The U.N. Security Council has banned the supply of weapons to Houthi leaders and “those acting on their behalf or at their direction.” It can also blacklist individuals and entities for threatening the peace and stability of Yemen or hindering aid access” we see the other part the Nikki mentioned and here she is proven right. Even as Iran claims that it is fabricated, there is enough evidence, that the parts are indeed from Iranian missiles, which invalidates their side in all this. The most striking part is the part that both Nikki Haley and Reuters are giving us and that part seems to be ignored by too many. The mention of: “Some members of the United Nations don’t want to hear it because it is further proof that Iran is defying Security Council resolutions, and the pressure will be on the U.N. to do something about it” is a much larger issue. Is it because they are unwilling to act, or has the coin toppled in the many outstanding issues in play and the UN is now unable to do anything?

That part is more important, because that means that the UN has no longer options to set issues against rogue nations like Iran, it could be a renewed signal for North Korea to do whatever it pleases as well and that could give more worries regarding stability in Far East Asia as well.

The question becomes can the situation be diffused? Should Iran comply and seize all missile shipments, it will change the Houthi field. They will not win (they never could) but a larger consideration to remove Houthi forces and start larger humanitarian aid would become increasingly more realistic. The bad side is that the Houthi’s would go underground so the humanitarian aid groups would have to deal with sabotage and armed strikes on a daily basis if no green zone can be established. That part is also no longer a real issue as we got only a few days ago that civilian life in Aden is safe, stable and calm, with all signs of life returning to normal, almost three years after diplomats and UN staff fled Aden. Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammad Al Jabir also mentioned that recent demands made by a single social strait, which later led to clashes, have been calmed and resolved. We get this from the Asharq Al-Awsat Newspaper (at https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1170916/saudi-ambassador-yemen-says-arab-coalition-proved-efficiency-resolving-aden), the issue now becomes, will Iran back off, or continue in its actions to remove stability from the Middle East, that alone gives support to Nikki Haley and her view regarding Iran, If she is proving correct and Iran remains on the path they are now, we should consider that soon enough, the JCPOA will not be worth the paper it was printed on, because if Iran can play games to this extent, there will be absolutely no guarantee that Iran will not break word and move on their path to enrich Uranium, I have no doubt in that regard, the issue has been diminished to a mere when they will start, there is no longer an ‘if’ in the matter.

In my view, these matters are only increasing stresses and pressures between Israel and Iran, they were never cordial, but now they are at an all-time high on the volatility aggressive response scale and that is mainly due to the Syrian issues in play. This now gives more and more rise to the dangers of escalations and the moment this happens all bets are off. The Guardian gives us: “Emboldened by a belief that Assad is winning, Iran is turning its eyes, and guns, on Israel – or so Israeli leaders believe. Their “red lines” – forbidding a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah – are being ignored”, Another source gave us much earlier (November 2016) that “the Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces announced to commanders of the Iranian fleet that Iran may establish naval bases in the future far from its shores”, which was Major general Mohammad Bagheri at that point, in that address both Syria and Yemen were raised as options. Now, if this is happens in Syria the IDF would reacts and Iran will plunge the Middle East in another war, if it is in Yemen, there is every indication that this will set off the legitimate Yemeni government as well as Saudi Arabia optionally starting a war with those players, giving again full support to the views Nikki Haley gave earlier, more important, at that point any UN representative avoiding that discussion better give up their seat quick and proper as the fallout of that discussion will impact the confidence levels of the UN on an almost global scale and it again would open the door for North Korea to do whatever it pleases. A scenario that roughly 98.4% of the UN nations who are currently part of the UN will not be too happy about either.

As I personally see it, too many issues have become interconnected, it has become a mess that several nations want to steer clear off, they want to ignore it and/or they remain in denial. It would make for an excellent front page though, when the moment comes and we get to read ‘UN in denial of Iranian actions’, how will you react?

 

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Disney’s Yemeni Cricket

Roughly 2 years, 10 months, 15 days and 3.4 hours ago, the Houthi’s decided to take over Yemen from the elected government. It is at this point that the then elected government seeks assistance from Saudi Arabia and whatever other allies it can get, this coalition has been at it since it all started. We see all the condemnation on how civilian bombings are happening, yet the part on all this that “Civilians say the Houthis are dispersing weapons in residential areas leaving people fearing for their lives” is not given the light it needs to be getting. You see, that is exactly the same tactic that Hezbollah has been using, yet the media gives little to no light to that element.

Now the game is taking another turn. This is initially seen though the Washington Post (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/yemens-war-is-so-out-of-control-that-allies-are-turning-on-one-another/2018/02/03/50d26426-05fe-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_story.html) with: ‘Yemen’s war is so out of control, allies are turning on one another’, it is not an incorrect view. Certain alliances tend to not remain focussed unless heir is a true common goal and as for the most the Houthi’s have only had any technology to merely fire on Saudi Arabia, there is a loss of focus for the other allies in that coalition.

In addition, with: “But fighting in the southern Yemeni city of Aden over the past week revealed the extent to which Yemen’s war also is driven by other historical grievances that could pose serious obstacles to negotiating an end to the conflict, according to Yemeni and Western analysts”, which is an absolute given and one that many tend to overlook. The complication is seen with: “The uprising by UAE-backed southern Yemeni separatists against forces loyal to the Saudi-based and internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi could further complicate efforts to dislodge the Houthis from Sanaa”, you see, as the issues in Yemen grow ever more murky for the people in Yemen, the entire issue becomes a less stable and more dangerous place. With the Yemeni having no way to strike against the UAE, Saudi Arabia gets the brunt of all the anger whilst the UAE gets to focus on what is the most tactical way to move forward and can ignore what is the best path for all players around. In this Saudi Arabia could end up having to deal with the entire matter alone. This leaves them, unless the UAE changes its approach with the tactical question, should the Yemeni situation be resolved, or is it safer for the Yemeni people to annex Yemen into Saudi Arabia into a partially self-governing region? It is a dangerous question, not only because of the implication, but when the humanitarian dangers (Cholera, Polio, Measles and famine) are not just on the horizon, but now on the front door of Yemeni citizens, the iron hand required to save whatever citizens are left alive, it is one of the few historical times when annexing is starting to make sense, moreover, it might be one of the few option that soon enough remain.

Not only does it take care of the separatists, it shows a new side which will in equal measure strikes fear in Saudi’s other adversary Iran. When Iran sees the support and the consequence of its so called actions. Especially if in addition Saudi Arabia opens the doors to all UN humanitarian actions to give care and medical support to the Yemeni people, Iran will not merely have to fear Saudi Arabia, it will be hosted with the prospect of giving aid to escalation in UN humanitarian zones, one fact that would require Turkey to cut its ties with Iran or face massive sanctions from all NATO allies as well as all 28 European community nations, those who would side with Turkey would soon find themselves isolated and in a dangerous economic downturn, one that none of the 28 nations can currently afford!

There is an optional second issue that would evolve from that. As any positive humanitarian action within Yemen shows the good side of Saudi Arabia, the long term condemnations will need to write about other matters and even finally show light on the optional benefits of seeing Saudi Arabia as a place of growth and investment. Even as the Google Alphabet group is already looking at growing its presence, Saudi Arabia is set to grow in other ways too and as both the consumer goods and pharmaceutical groups are seeking growth, the need for manufactured goods for 32 million Saudi Arabians, as well as the options to facilitate to 35 million Iraqi’s and 4 million Kuwaiti’s from the relative safety of Saudi Arabia is an even better prospect for those catering to consumers. That is one way of obtaining growth and even as the falling out with the UAE is an issue for Saud Arabia, there is an optional path where Saudi Arabia could come out on top.

It is not a new concept. The solution had been voiced on a few times last year, yet in many cases there was the outlook of larger opposition from the UAE and Oman, now that the falling out with the UAE is an actual fact, the Saudi government could go into talks with Oman to facilitate some solution that make Yemeni Araba a mere temporary solution as a humanitarian implementation is found to protect the civilian population from further harm. By giving Oman a much larger voice in all this could prove beneficial to both Oman and Saudi Arabia, but only for the non-long-term future.

In all this it will not become a long term solution and all parties will be painfully aware of it all, whilst it does give rise to dealing with the insurrections in Yemen and at the same time show Iran that it stands a lot more alone in its inciting tactics than it previously bargained for. In equal measure it gives Turkey the clear message that it either changes its current course of finds itself in a falling out with both the US and the EEC, a situation that could stop whatever economy they thought they had for the next decade. Turkey could end up buying humble pie at $15 (or €10) per slice. In addition, t won’t just be “French President Emmanuel Macron has told his Turkish counterpart that there is currently no chance of Turkey becoming a member of the European Union”, it will be messages from at least 15 of European elected rulers and there is a chance that the number opposing Turkey as a full European member will grow to 25, with that in mind Turkey will also be out of any marketing race in the middle east making them no longer an interesting party to Russia, other than for the need of consumer exploitation for whatever they have for sale.

Now many parts of this is speculation, even as it is based on visible facts, the idea that Yemen becomes the corner stone of several linked issues is a lot wilder than Walt Disney could have ever imagined in any movie he ever made, including that movie of a boy with a growing nose and a conscience called Yemeni Cricket.

In this growth is already an optional given for Saudi Arabia as Google (with a plus one) is already in advanced talks to set up a tech hub in Saudi Arabia. His also partially confirms my initial view (a few months ago) that Saudi Arabia is ready to set the nation into a mobile 5G growth, making it soon a more technical advanced nation than the US will be in 12 months. Outside the states of NY, DC, Pennsylvania and California there is a growing concern that at least 10 states are nowhere near ready to become 5G players, giving rise not to mere net neutrality issues, but a larger technological downturn of the US as a larger nation, a view that has not been seen since America in the great depression (1929-1939). Do you think that this is wrong or me bluffing in some way? Consider how the budget is currently set and see which states can come up with 5-25 billion in the next 18 months to give rise to 5G, then also look what has to be cut to make such a level of investment a reality and then ask yourself how the US had not planned for this technological need. So when you see the next article on how 5G is overhyped and not essential, consider your next internet session and see what you could have done at 800% of the current speed, hat is beside all the other options hat 5G allows for. Should the US make it a national need, than the national debt will be clearly pushed past the 20 trillion mark! So the only way for the USA to be seen as technologically on par with Saudi Arabia is to dive into much deeper debt.

There are of course other considerations for Saudi Arabia to take a certain path, yet it must be one of the rare occasions where annexing might be one of the few humanitarian options left. A cease fire will not get the result and of course the question is equally important, whether Saudi Arabia sees annexing as an option at all, because that part is not a given at all.

There is of course the second part. If the UAE is able to get control of the separatists and get them on target in the direction the coalition wanted it to be and if the Yemeni separatists see what is their best solution than the entire matter diffuses and as such there is no further issue, yet that is still not a given, but as this situation merely escalated over the last week, there is still time to find a non-annexing solution, which is what suits all parties of that coalition best (personal assumption).

Still, with the other news that Al Jazeera gave a mere 20 hours ago (at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/defence-minister-saudi-uae-intended-invade-qatar-180203091422735.html), makes the option of opposing issues between the UAE and Saudi Arabia less likely to simmer down. Yet in equal light the interview that Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah had with the Washington Post, where he is quoted with: “about Doha’s relations with Saudi’s rival, Iran, Attiyah noted that Qatar maintains “friendly relations with everyone”” gives rise that the ‘friend’ of my enemy, is not my enemy, which also means that softening relationships and new ties could change the dynamics of the Middle East as I personally see it. So as Saudi Arabia is trying to get along with everyone except Iran, it could push Iran into more isolation. Even as Qatar is trying to remain friends with all, it also means that Qatar is less likely unwilling to be some kind of facilitator for Iran, a path Iran really had not hoped for and that means that the onus of Turkey’s ‘friendship’ with Iran is now clearly with Turkey, which will push them in even deeper waters, as I personally see it.

So as we end this part of the speculation and forecasting, we will need to see on how talks pan out in the next 2 weeks, the only dangerous part is that the Yemeni civilian population is running out of time faster and faster and inaction equals in their case a diminishing amount of living civilians, a side pretty much all parties are against.

 

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Into the fire we walk ourselves

Are we in a state where we cannot tell what actually matters? That is the question that I wonder upon. Now, we all have different states of focus, that has always been a given. Some are linked to what we desire, some to what we fear. The issue goes beyond that as the media fuels one or the other, yet they seem to do so for the direct intent of making us look where they want us to look. In Australia there are the morning shows with Channel 7 and 9. In the UK there is the breakfast show and other nations have similar views. It is when we see BBC News, the Dutch NOS, Swedish RTL as well as ABC in Australia. They tend to focus on actual news, yet often very national as one could accept. On a larger scale there is BBC World News, Al Jazeera (to some extent), whilst Fox News and CNN are no longer quality players. So where are we getting the news from, the news that matters? It seems that either we start looking for it or we lose out.

Should I care?

It is the question many might ask themselves, which is fair enough. For many we all have national needs, we have national questions and as those are satisfied we do not look further than that. Many have this setting. Some don’t even have the national curiosity and that is fine, it is whatever you choose. Yet, I have travelled for too long, to too many places. So I tend to look further. I still miss the life I had in Sweden, which like Australia is an amazing place to be in (the weather is less warm though). So when I got confronted with some news, I wondered how others saw it. What is interesting is that none of them gave any clear levels of attention to it.

The news, (at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/01/11/Saudi-Arabia-intercepts-a-ballistic-missile-launched-by-Houthis-at-Najran.html) gives part of what does require attention. Al Jazeera covered it, so did Reuters and BBC as well as Australia’s ABC looked at it, yet the rest? You see, the issue is larger than you think. In Yemen, in the Najran area a ballistic missile was intercepted. Now this is not that big a story, but the missile might have been ready to be fired on Riyadh, like the missile fired a month ago. Is this coming into focus? Missiles that are fired on the civilian population of the capital of Saudi Arabia! This is a threshold that should have been regarded as unacceptable; it is globally ignored by others. In that same setting we see the mention from Al Arabia that Houthi leader Saleh al-Samad is also threatening to threaten international navigation in the Red Sea, which will impact the Suez Canal, which in turn changes the profit margins for all cargo bound to Europe for the most from Asia. So is it now more important? That is the dangerous question but not the most important one. You see, as the Houthi militias have gained access to the Qaher M2 missile, the game is no longer the same. These cuddly little toys pack a punch and have the ability to reap plenty of souls in Riyadh if it hits the right structure. A tactic that has been old and condemned for the longest of times, yet for the most, the west tends to focus on Yemen and cholera (which is really bad too). Over the last year 50,000 children died of disease and starvation, which is of course its own atrocity, no one denies that, yet what was the foundation? President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was trying to get some level of union in Yemen between factions (which is an achievement) in a landscape that was under threat by Houthi militias and AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Things went from bad to worse and soon thereafter the deposed Yemen leader started to undo what happened from Saudi Arabia.

Now, I have skipped a few iterations, mainly because it is not part of the issue. The issue is the missiles. Now I am not stating that the Saudi’s are beyond some blame. Civilians have been hit in Yemen; yet is that from intentional events? Are they (as stated by the Saudi government) ‘technical mistakes‘? The fact is that there is a civil war going on and EVERY civil war in history came with civilian casualties, more often than not from human or technical error. The Houthi events are different as they are intentionally targeting a civilian population in Riyadh and are also intentionally targeting all commercial options that use the Red Sea as a route to get to where they have always been travelling. The Houthi’s are in a desperate setting, one that they themselves created and in this regard, we see very little coverage, too little in fact, mainly because this is a powder keg waiting to go wrong. If even one missile hits Saudi Arabia, the lives of every Yemeni could be regarded as forfeit. The Saudi population would demand reprisals unlike any we have seen for decades and in this the Saudi pride will not be content with mere diplomatic discussions, at that point serious skin is in the game and if the world is lucky only 100,000 will die of starvation and disease in 2018. The Syrian war has led to 400,000 casualties in 2012-2016, this Houthi insurrection could spell a lot more and the dangers are that the extremists tend to get profit out of such situations. In fact here is no evidence that they are not already dipping their toes in the Yemeni armouries and as such there would be a dangerous escalation if some of these weapons get transported to other extremist zones. Now, I am trying to steer clear of the Iranian-Houthi rebel links. The issue is that I did not read or inspect the evidence. Also, we should consider that the US has had tainted glasses for the longest of times regarding Iran and they have lost massive credibility ever since the Saddam Hussein WMD presentation. In this U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell with his silver briefcase destroyed credibility for decades to come. In this Colonel Turki al-Maliki has a much easier job. The evidence that the Houthi rebels are firing missiles on the Saudi civilian population has been clearly established on an international level.

So into the fire we might go!

You see, this keg needs one missile to hit target and the flames start. If any other nation can verify that Iran was involved, Iran will have no options left because at that point it is not impossible that Israel will get the keys to the German and French Squadrons to use those planes for bombing Iran as well, at that point WW3 will be a factual situation. The Saudi air force will not only get the blessing of the Arabian league nations to stop Iran, it will get its ammunition at cost price from several sides. At that point, Hamas and Hezbollah will go into hiding so deep that we will forget that they exist, but Israel will not. Perhaps it might be a good thing, as the extremist groups are dealt with, those who think that extremism is a good thing will decide to hide and wait for the fires to stop. Only at that point will they realise that as Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and AQAP are gone that all eyes will move on them. You see these people feel good as extremists because no one is taking notice, when they become the limelight, they will ‘suddenly’ prefer a diplomatic path, one where they have no valid claims and no standing whatsoever.

It is an optional resolution to a bad situation for all other players.

And there is a second side to all this that I have not seen any publications on. The Burkan-2 which was fired at Riyadh airport is also an issue in another direction. It is related to the Scud, it comes from Yemen. So when we consider that the first recorded launch was on 22nd July 2017, how did the Houthi’s get this knowledge? This is not something you put in a clip. You need a mobile launch platform, aiming skills, ballistic knowledge that does not come with a bottle of mineral water. These skills are taught and trained. Someone gave them access and I feel strongly that these skills were not all in Yemen. There is a taskmaster, a coach in that equation and it seems to me that this is also the Houthi militants Achilles heel, because if these skilled are dealt with (the people who have them), that this weapon gets to be diminished to an ugly truck with a couple of steel cigars on top.

 

 

 

 

So when we see militia rebels, we do not think ‘academics’, we tend to think that they are more likely to be members of the ‘dyslexic-R-us‘ foundation (عسر القراءة، هي، لنا), not the qualified electronic user experts that they need to be, so someone is getting them trained. The fact that these missiles were completed after the insurrection began is equally a worry. With the economy in the basement as the one in Yemen is supposed to be, someone is fuelling funds and knowledge to these militants and when did you see any reliable news on that level?

So we are thrust into the fire in some method where we are left unaware on how large some issues have become and for anyone thinking it is not on their turf.

 

 

Think again!

Because those elements with those level of skills will go where ever the money is taking them. In WW2 Russia and the US saw that and took the scientists as quickly as possible. Now we seem to skip that part and as we see extremist move from theatre to theatre there will be a shift of activity as the skill levels are placed in other places where the going was slow, they become catalysts of additional escalations. We can argue whether Iran is playing that card or not, but there is a longer term danger and the people are left unaware of those events. I think that this is the second danger that both Saudi Arabia and Israel face. Not on who is attacking them, but on the realisation that it is happening whilst these extremists have been given additional skill levels, some they would never have had. That evidence can be seen when we consider the Hamas rockets, or as it goes the ISIS players who replaced Hamas in Gaza. When the missile hit rate goes from 0.2% to 2%, there will be a much larger escalation, as well as the additional danger that the people in the state of Israel will face. As the knowledge gets deeper into Syria, what will happen after that? Will Iran be shown to be the player behind the screen or will Saudi Arabia merely face 3-4 additional factions, who when much better trained become a much larger issue for Saudi Arabia. There is a much larger game in play and the fact that the people are left in the dark to a much larger degree is a much bigger issue than you (and I) think it is. It is still the beginning of 2018 and already we see: “Thirteen attack drones were launched against the Khmeimim air base and a naval facility in the city of Tartus on Syria’s western coast, the Russian defence ministry said“, so who was behind that? “the ballistic missile attack by Houthi militia on the city of Najran” is one we looked at as well as “The Syrian Arab Army has discovered another massive Islamic State weapons stockpile that was abandoned by the terrorist group“, the last mention was merely shoulder based rocket launchers (M72 LAW, RPG). Now the learning curve of that one is low. The instructions are on the launcher and as it is used by the US infantry, it should be regarded as close to idiot proof, yet we also see the alleged M72 Dragon in Syria as well as the FGM-148 Javelin, which was in ISIS hands in late 2017. Now we do not know how those were acquired, but the M47 Dragon and the Javelin are a lot more sophisticated and not for anyone to easily wield. The Javelin requires a launch unit and training. This is not something you get included in a ten step leaflet with a package of butter.

So we step into the fire unknowing that someone is fuelling the fire by keeping too many of us uninformed. Now from an intelligence point of view I have no issues with that part. It happens, but the fact that the media is not asking certain questions is a much bigger issue. The fact that most nations are loudly condemning the missile attack on Riyadh makes sense, yet the fact on how the skill levels were handed to the Houthi’s remains unanswered.

I wonder if the most interested party in this (Al Arabiya) will soon be asking this question out loud, more important. If the Saudi Defence Forces are successful in taking out the coaching element, would that suddenly largely cripple Houthi elements and if they were supported by Iran, would that push them into the limelight?

All questions, all speculation!

The question that becomes evident is how within these extremist elements their balance of power is maintained? You see, extremists have logistical needs that part is clearly seen in Yemen. Yet, who provides their needs and what is in it for them? The usual culprit is money, lots and lots of money. Yet it also gives power to the one providing the victor. That part is not seen too often. Most often we think of those are mere weapon merchants, dealers of the tools of death, but the fact that the cost of billions in 2 years, that is without the UN relief needs close to a billion is not taken into consideration. If we have learned anything than it is that plenty will forsake loads for a few million, so what are they willing to do for a few billion? Can you even imagine that, or the fact that the pool of those who gets access to that pool of funds is actually quite small and the media remains in the mindset of not informing any of us!

Should they?

That is a good question, because if the media is about the news, should we limit to the amount of news that we should be exposed to? For the most people in Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia might not be too eager to learn about it, but the impact that we are currently facing hits these places too, was not informing us the right thing to do?

Consider that we are impacted by the red sea and that the cost of living would increase by 20% if the Suez Canal becomes unavailable, does it matter then? Suddenly the preface changes and suddenly the Houthi actions are more important than we considered. At this point the media might change its position on the air time and what to focus on, perhaps not.

Time will tell!

Yet I feel that there are other sides and we are all kept in the dark, so where are these journalists? Well, if we can believe the Sun, they were all mesmerised by the tits of Kim Kardashian, the same day Houthi Missiles were fired. Which of the two ‘news’ articles do you remember of that day?

 

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A New Disney

There was an Italian, who has been famous for over 125 years, he is not the first or the only famous Italian. There was this guy who came up with Pizza, There was this other Italian who thought fast Ford cars were a joke and he created Ferrari, then there was this other Italian, who made tractors, disagreed with the previous Italian and created Lamborghini. It is actually none of those. It is Carlo Lorenzini who was born 190 years ago. You might not know the name, perhaps his alternative name? Carlo Collodi! If you are still in the dark, than remember the story of a wooden boy who wanted to become a real live boy. Steven Spielberg used the notion in AI, but the original remains the best, namely Pinocchio!

Yes, the story of a wooden boy going into the world, yet as a wooden boy he was not alone, there was a little Cricket accompanying him and he would be a lot more important than your average Cricket, Jiminy was his name. Today the story is even more relevant, you see, the name Yemini Cricket might be ringing bells, but the truth of the wooden boy is there. The question becomes, who is the wooden boy?

So when I read ‘US, Britain and UN demand Yemen ceasefire within days‘ (at http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/10/16/us-britain-and-un-demand-yemen-ceasefire-within-days),

Yet when I read “The United Nations envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said: “We are here to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, which will be declared in the next few hours.” Cheikh Ahmed said he had been in contact with the rebel Huthi militia’s lead negotiator and with Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s government“, my recollection does not go towards the classical story, it goes to a reference a little closer to the present (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFZrKOCdHFs), the laughter applies to both the sketch and reality. Aleppo is a great example, how 5 years and 400,000-450,000 fatalities later, no solution is there, but they are still flying to places like Switzerland to talk. I wonder when we add up all the costs, how much did the taxpayer pay for this play?

A number of civilian casualties that have now surpassed the total US Military casualties, of those who died during WW2. Doesn’t that look like a clear message that massive change was required a few years ago? I reckon all the players know that, yet, having long conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose only concern is to stall so that the population can be made extinct before the resolution passes, reads a lot more like the Friends edition of Pinocchio, than the original by Carlo Collodi, where we see the conscience that is Jiminy Cricket.

So as we see the beginning of the same slow train in Yemen, I have to wonder if creating a new version of Pinocchio with Yemini Cricket is the way to go. It educates politicians as well as bring some hard needed cash towards Hollywood (or Bollywood).

So why is this different?

To one degree it is not, towards the other degree it is very much so. The problem is that both Syria and Yemen could be on the same page, no degrees of separation. In this case there are two at least. You see, Yemen has limited ties to Russia, making it less complicated, what is the issue is that the Houthi’s are actively shooting missiles at the US Navy complicating matters a lot more. It only takes one direct hit, and Yemen would technically be in a state of war with the US. Now, normally, a bankrupt nation is not that much a bother, but Yemen is not an economic or military superpower, so going against America sounds like a PR approach to get them ‘involved’. What is an issue is that Yemen, the neighbour of Saudi Arabia could get lucky at some point, what happens after the hit will be an issue, because Americans tend to get cranky when you successfully blow up something American. Interesting is that there are now multiple sources claiming that Iran is now moving towards the Red sea. An interesting story as the Red sea is on the other side of the Persian Gulf and Iranian war ships have no actual business there (which could also apply to the Americans). The question becomes how is Saudi placed into all this? Here there are issues too. There is no stating if there is even any link but the changes and the Attention that members of the Saudi government are drawing attention to themselves become a factor (speculation from my side).

One part is from the Australian Financial Review (at http://www.afr.com/news/world/middle-east/saudi-prince-mohammed-bin-salmans-shatters-decades-of-tradition-20161017-gs3yt5), where we see the title ‘Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s shatters decades of tradition‘, is not giving us the ‘goods’. The first quote is “He has slashed the state budget, frozen government contracts and reduced the pay of civil employees, all part of drastic austerity measures as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices“, which would be quite acceptable in one view, at least it appears that one government in this world is dealing with its budget issues, although not in the most ‘desirable’ way, when a nation is so dependent on oil, there might not be too many options. The second quote is “While vacationing in the south of France, Prince Mohammed spotted a 134-metre yacht. He dispatched an aide to buy the ship, the Serene, then owned by Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler. The deal was done within hours, at a price of approximately €500 million (roughly $720 million today)“, which implies the opposite. The question is not the cut-backs or spending spree, the issue is neither quote, it is the quote I will give now “Many young Saudis admire him as an energetic representative of their generation who has addressed some of the country’s problems with uncommon bluntness. The kingdom’s media have built his image as a hardworking, businesslike leader less concerned than his predecessors with the trappings of royalty” as well as “Others see him as a power-hungry upstart who is risking instability by changing too much, too fast“. So is the prince a go-getter or power-hungry? I cannot tell as this is all based on third degree of information, what matters is how the view and the actions will reflect the counteractions of the US and Iran in regard to Yemen. The moment the conflict results in a direct attack on Saudi grounds, what then? Iranian warships in the Red Sea would only complicate that, making a harsh response from the Saudi Military even more destabilising.

In my view there are two sides within Saudi Arabia, yet how they should be seen is another matter. I do not claim to have a proper view. I have questions. You see Mecca is an Islamic Holy city (the most important one) and it is part of Saudi Arabia, so as Saudi Arabia is the caretaker of this holy site, the involvement if Iran is more than just a small issue. Whatever they decide to escalate could have large repercussions all over the Middle East. The Sovereign State of Saudi Arabia has every right to defend it in every way possible, so Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman is also Minister of Defence and the youngest one in the world, which as a stat sounds nice, yet it also means that in light of other decisions, he is ready to do that what the US has been unable to do, declare war on its enemy by actually acting against them! Not that the US needed to declare war, but in light of Syria, doing anything actively would have been nice, an absence of resolution that His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud is less likely to show.

What is a problem is the fact that the complications are more and more likely as days go by and that is the one spark that this powder keg does not need. Iran cannot be denied access to international waters, which will not lessen the impact. One of the elements in all this is seen in the second quote regarding the ‘power hungry’ side of it. You see, the AFR article is also mentioning “Mohammed bin Nayef, the interior minister and longtime counter-terrorism czar“, which is now an element in all this. You see, whatever happens next is all surrounding the need for intelligence. So whatever issues there are between His Royal Highness Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud gives wake to the Disney sequel, a tale of two princes. A new approach to the classic Dickens story where the plight of two members of the Royal family of Al Saud are protecting the Sovereign state of Saudi Arabia as well as the safety and security of all Muslims that are in and nearby Mecca. Even as the papers are expecting a ceasefire, the issue is that stalling is equally a tactic here. There is no way of telling why Iran is involving its warships in that region, other than trying to complicate matters and demanding a seat at the table of decision, which would only change the time table in the worst of ways. What the Deutsche Welle did give was the quote “the Saudi-led coalition has blamed an airstrike that killed over 140 people at a funeral ceremony in Yemen on “erroneous information” received from a “party” affiliated with the country’s embattled government“, it matters, because it gives light to the essential issue that the two princes need to rely on quality intelligence, sources that can be scrutinised. And in this matter, mentioning the yacht was to iterate that spending that money on a satellite over the area might not have been the worst personal idea I am having. And let’s face it, any prince that can claim that he has his own satellite wins the discussion with any other prince relying on yacht and status. So many have a yacht, but how many of these rich individuals (very wealthy people in general) would own their own satellite? Especially if it becomes a source of intelligence.

Of course there is a lot more to owning one’s own satellite, but I hope we can all agree that intelligence will be key in whatever escalates over the next week. My issue is that too many players have their own agenda, yet would those agenda’s be truly 100% be focussed on whatever is best for Yemen and/or Saudi Arabia? You see, oil prices are down now, but why and for how long? What happens when prices go through the roof again? What happens then? Suddenly all these political issues are all linked to the price of Oil and the profit it brings?

I do not claim to have these answers, but the fact that too many sources are not asking the questions that require asking is troubling, yet the AFR article gives us a lot more, even more than I bargained for, which is comforting to say the least. What becomes a matter of discussion is the one quote that shows the elements “People who have met Mohammed bin Salman said he insisted that Saudi Arabia must be more assertive in shaping events in the Middle East and confronting Iran’s influence in the region – whether in Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon“, giving the links that require addressing and the prince is not afraid to do just that, however it take two to dance rings around Iran and taking away its influence in the Middle East. As I see it, Riyadh will have to make changes to some degree. Counter-Intelligence will be key in dealing with Iran and the impression I get when I see a quote like “has deep ties to Washington and the support of many of the older royals” shows the speculative possibility of the older ‘let us see how this plays out‘ against the younger ‘let us get this party started through action‘. It is not about the balance, but about what works best. In that regard both princes might have to make changes a lot faster than they are comfortable with, because if the news is correct, the Iranian ships and submarines will soon be active in the Red Sea, but active to what extent is something that remains speculative, whatever they do, the fact that it includes Iranian submarine presence (as reported but not confirmed), will also raise tensions with Israel.

As I see it, the biggest issue is Iran and what they are trying to get out of it. Putting themselves in the middle of a conflict where they are now trying to imply that it is all about them (especially as they are in the Red Sea), yet is their presence less valid than that of the US? It seems to me that we are creating a new Vietnam, just not with the Russians involved (like Syria). So there are two solutions to consider. One is that the US is replaced by for example the Commonwealth, or France, which takes away the Iranian-US issues. That is, if Saudi Arabia would be willing to consider that move. No matter what, the navy that does that, could find themselves in an armed conflict with Iran, so it better be a competent and modern Navy which leaves not that many options. The Netherlands, the UK, France, South Korea and India. Giving the option to either South Korea or India would benefit, as Iran cannot spin some NATO link story. In addition Iran cannot afford to piss of too many additional nations as either could make short work of the ego of Iran as these navies decide to sink Iranian war vessels like rubber dinghies, because they pushed one button too many.

No matter what happens, Saudi Arabia must do what it can to keep safe and the Yemeni issue is one that tests many sides of those who see and witness it, because there is a dilemma in conscience. A revolution that got out of hand, a set government overthrown with its own agenda. When we see the Houthi’s slogan “God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam“, can we really show any kind of support or sympathy?

The most important part to realise is that we need to set aside our version of what is acceptable, we have seen the US and Europe at large impose their version of ‘civility’, whilst bending over, grabbing their ankles and let the financial industry quite literally get away with murder in many ways. We impose rules and expectations, whilst having no clue how to manage a budget or how to stem greed to the point of strangulation. In all this, we have given up the high ground in several fronts, so we are no lecturer with any level of confidence. It is my opinion, that the Middle East can only be decently governed by someone in the Middle East. I personally believe that Saudi Arabia should be at the centre of it, there is no doubt that it would beneficial that a coalition that would include Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, but I am not knowledgeable enough to see whether it is just them, or that other players should be seriously considered. What does matter is that both General Intelligence Directorate (GID, aka Mukhabarat) and Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate would be important in ascertaining Iran’s hostile actions and if need be counter them. From my academic point of view is the challenge that the SIGNT of the three would pose to get one coherent reporting and analytical solution on Iranian intelligence. One that would definitely benefit all three nations. Yet perhaps that will evolve into a third Disney project, which could be the next big thing. It’s all just a thought, but think it over for yourself and ask yourself the question you did not hear voiced, this is important, because this stage could get ugly in a hurry and possibly before Christmas this year.

 

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