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Saudi Arabia

praktik

TRIBE Member
The War on Yemen and Pro-Saudi Propaganda in the West
Posted on May 1, 2018, 8:51 AM Daniel Larison

The only thing worse than the general Western neglect of the war on Yemen is the use of pro-Saudi talking points to describe it. Irina Tsukerman does just this when she misleadingly writes about “Iran’s war in Yemen”:

It was the Houthis, not the Saudis, who first imposed a humanitarian blockade against Yemen. They then used humanitarian-aid shipments to their own population as a disguise for smuggled weapons, which ultimately led to many deaths from starvation. The Saudis were forced to impose their own naval blockade as a defensive measure to counter ballistic-missile strikes and increased attacks on coalition [forces] on the ground—yet the Houthis have succeeded in painting the kingdom as the villain.​

This passage is full of false and misleading statements. The Houthis are responsible for impeding aid deliveries in territory they control, but they have neither the means nor the inclination to blockade their own country. The accusation is self-refuting and an obvious lie. The sea and air blockade of the country was imposed by the coalition at the outset of the Saudi-led intervention. The blockade is the principal cause of the country’s humanitarian crisis, and the responsibility for it rests entirely with the Saudi-led coalition and its Western backers.

The coalition was not “forced” to do this, but chose to do it from the beginning of their war. The coalition blockade predates any missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and was not imposed because of them, so that is another lie. It’s true that the tightening of the blockade last fall came in response to Houthi missile attacks that were themselves retaliation for the relentless bombing of Yemeni cities, but the blockade had already been in place for more than two and half years at that point. The coalition could hardly have tightened the blockade that didn’t already exist.

The coalition imposed the blockade in 2015 ostensibly to prevent weapons smuggling, but in practice it has delayed and diverted many ships bringing in food and medicine even after they had been found to have no weapons on board. Blocking commercial goods and humanitarian aid hasn’t prevented weapons smuggling into Yemen, but it has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than eight million Yemenis are on the brink of famine because of the Saudi coalition’s cruel collective punishment that has nothing to do with their own defense.

It is exceptionally dishonest to label the conflict “Iran’s war” when Iranian involvement has been and remains negligible for the last three years. Tsukerman asserts that “Tehran is building a naval base in Yemen,” but that is also false. When an Iranian officer suggested the idea of such a base back in 2016, the Houthis publicly rejected it in the strongest terms:

A leader of Yemen’s Houthis and a member of the group’s delegation to the talks in Kuwait, Mehdi Mashat, on Sunday has slammed the Iranian Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri over remarks published Sunday about Iran’s desire to establish naval bases in Yemen and Syria.

“This creature should read the history of Yemen before he talks, because I am sure that if he knew that Yemen throughout history has been a cemetery for invaders, he would not have said a word”, Mashat said in a post on his official Facebook page.​

So much for the notion that Iran controls Yemen.

It is the Saudis, Emiratis, and other coalition governments that intervened directly over three years ago, and it is their forces and proxies that occupy portions of Yemen to this day. Their planes are the ones that bomb Yemeni cities on daily basis with U.S. assistance, and it is their navies that strangle the country with their blockade. This is not Iranian “disinformation,” but a description of what has been happening to Yemen for over three years. These are well-documented facts attested by countless reports from news agencies, humanitarian organizations, human rights groups, and the U.N. Making excuses for Saudi coalition crimes and shouting “Iran!” as a diversion can’t change any of that
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
A Saudi Assassination and the War on Yemen
Posted on May 2, 2018, 1:25 AM Daniel Larison

Nicholas Niarchos comments on the recent assassination of a top Houthi leader by a Saudi coalition airstrike:

On Twitter, members of the Saudi royal family celebrated Sammad’s killing and touted it as a success for the country’s crown prince and de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, who recently toured Washington and Los Angeles to curry support from the Trump Administration. But the effect of the strike might be to push the Houthis further from the negotiating table. Sammad’s replacement, Mahdi al-Mashat, a politician in his thirties, has demanded all-out war with Saudi Arabia. Peter Salisbury, a senior analyst at Chatham House, said that the strike would reduce the interest of the group’s over-all leader, Abdelmalik al-Houthi, in peace talks [bold mine-DL]. “What it does do is take someone who thought dealmaking was a way of ending the war and replace him with someone more bellicose,” Salisbury told me. “You get into a position where all the voices that Abdulmalik hears are all the hard-liners, the people who are benefitting the most from the war.”​

Making their enemy more intransigent and hard-line wouldn’t make sense if the Saudis genuinely wished to bring the war on Yemen to an end soon, but they evidently have no intention of ending the war. The Saudis have just ensured that the war will drag on and intensify, and they can add this assassination to the long list of their terrible decisions regarding Yemen. Decapitation strikes frequently don’t have the effect that their proponents think they will have. Ellen Laipson explains how it can produce the opposite result:

That thinking, however, doesn’t always work. It can strengthen the resolve of the fighters to continue their struggle, conveying to their followers that the government still does not accept them as equals, and that peace talks are stacked against the legitimate rights and interests of the rebels. Or it can cause such disarray and chaos among the rebels that a new leadership vacuum is created, making a peace strategy all but impossible.​

The Saudi coalition hasn’t achieved any of its stated goals in Yemen over the last three years, and 2018 doesn’t seem any more promising for them. A negotiated compromise that allows the coalition to halt its war and cut their losses is the best option for them, but their leaders are too arrogant or blinkered to see it. The Saudis and their allies don’t know what they’re doing in Yemen, they never have, and the U.S. has been absolutely wrong to support them in their war. For the sake of the people of Yemen, it is imperative that the U.S. ends its support for the war and press the coalition governments to recognize that they can’t win.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
Saudi Arabia Picks Another Stupid, Unnecessary Fight
Posted on August 6, 2018, 7:50 AM Daniel Larison

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, from ‘Saudi Strike Force’ video

The Saudi government has gone crazy over some mild Canadian criticism of its arbitrary arrests of activists:

Saudi Arabia ordered the expulsion on Monday of the Canadian ambassador and the halting of all new trade and investment deals between the two countries after Canada said it was “gravely concerned” about the recent arrests of Saudi civil society and women’s rights activists.

In a statement issued early Monday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said the ambassador, Dennis Horak, was persona non grata and gave him 24 hours to leave the country, adding that it would be recalling its own envoy to Ottawa for further consultations and retained “its right to take further action.”​

The Saudi overreaction is another example of Riyadh’s bungling, combative foreign policy that has become all too familiar over the last three years. Canada’s mild rebuke is the least that the Saudi government should expect when it locks up activists who have campaigned for the same reforms that the government uses to improve its image in the West. The episode calls attention back to the two-faced nature of the crown prince’s “reform” agenda.

Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) may permit a few modest changes, but only while intensifying repression of dissent and consolidating power in his own hands. In foreign policy, he picks unnecessary and costly fights that he can’t win, and in the process confirms to other governments and foreign investors that he is an inexperienced and inept de facto ruler whose reach exceeds his grasp.

The UAE has predictably sided with the Saudis in this spat:

The United Arab Emirates stands with Saudi Arabia “in defending its sovereignty” after the kingdom froze new trade and investment with Canada, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Monday on Twitter.​

Authoritarian regimes unsurprisingly don’t like criticism of their domestic policies, but there is something especially obnoxious about hiding behind “sovereignty” while the UAE and the Saudis are busy trampling on the sovereignty of Yemen, slaughtering its civilians with bombs and missiles, and creating famine conditions for millions of people. If the Saudis are so eager to cut off ties with one of their arms suppliers over nothing, Canada and other Western governments should take that as a sign that their relationships with Riyadh are neither as valuable nor as reliable as they thought they were.
 
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djfear

TRIBE Member
A contractor friend at work is going to Saudi for the hajj this month... I wonder how that will pan out? Hopefully he can still go and enjoy it!
 

hummus

TRIBE Member
Why is Canada being hypocritical? Where are the tweets when Ahed Tamimi an underage Palestinian girl was thrown into an Israeli jail? Or the female poet who just last week was detained for writing a poem crtisizing Israel? Or the other hundreds of Palestinian children stuck in Israeli jails?
 

hummus

TRIBE Member
It seems that Canada shot first then doubled down. Using words like “immediately” like a threat.


Then doubled down and wrote it in Arabic two days later via official embassy twitter account


I have to admit, reading the clap backs on their saviour complex bullshit is pretty good.
 
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praktik

TRIBE Member
Why is Canada being hypocritical? Where are the tweets when Ahed Tamimi an underage Palestinian girl was thrown into an Israeli jail? Or the female poet who just last week was detained for writing a poem crtisizing Israel? Or the other hundreds of Palestinian children stuck in Israeli jails?
Youre probably old enough to know better - consistency is not really something that applies when it comes to Israel.

As far as it goes i would have preferred Canada chose to speak out on Yemen, as long as we are talking about things to criticize SA for. That said, happy we said something on SA crimes finally.

And i think there was enough about SA known years ago, Harper should have never got us into those deals with The Kingdom.
 

wickedken

TRIBE Member
It seems that Canada shot first then doubled down. Using words like “immediately” like a threat.


Then doubled down and wrote it in Arabic two days later via official embassy twitter account


I have to admit, reading the clap backs on their saviour complex bullshit is pretty good.
Have you seen Trudeau's official comment on this?
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
The Bungling Saudi Crown Prince
Posted on August 7, 2018, 12:37 PM Daniel Larison

Crown Prine Mohammed bin Salman. (U.S. Department of State)

Dan Drezner offers some possible explanations for what the Saudi government was thinking when it started its ridiculous spat with Canada. Here is one of them:

If Saudi Arabia is seen as a country that can sanction others, it starts to look more like a great power. The very fact that these sanctions are costly is what makes them such a compelling Veblen good. According to this logic, it does not matter whether they work: Most sanctions fail anyway. What makes them successful is that Mohammed has demonstrated that he can impose them in the first place.​

As explanations for Mohammed bin Salman’s erratic bungling go, this isn’t bad, but I’m not sure I buy that this is adding to the prestige of the kingdom or the crown prince. Far from making Saudi Arabia seem “more like a great power,” it makes the kingdom look like an insecure, petty authoritarian regime that can’t take even the mildest criticism from an otherwise friendly government. Breaking diplomatic ties over a minor rebuke conveys weakness and demonstrates poor judgment, and that feeds into growing perception that Mohammed bin Salman has no idea what he’s doing.

The deterrence explanation makes a little more sense, but in order for other states to be deterred from criticizing Saudi abuses they would have to believe that Riyadh would act against them in the same heavy-handed way. It’s simply not sustainable for the kingdom to pick multiple high-profile fights with its trading partners. As long as the kingdom remains repressive and responsible for numerous war crimes in Yemen, there will always be abuses for Western governments to criticize, and the Saudis can’t cut ties with every government that calls them out. The attempted intimidation doesn’t appear to be working on Canada, and it is unlikely to work on other states.

It makes more sense that “this is all about Mohammed.” The crown prince has been consolidating power and isn’t tolerating any dissent from any quarter, and so he is lashing out at foreign critics as harshly and clumsily as he has against domestic activists. The problem here is that the crown prince’s overreaction to foreign criticism just calls more attention to the intensifying repression that he desperately needs outsiders to ignore. A huge part of the crown prince’s extensive foreign trip was to make investors and political leaders buy into the idea that he represents a “new” and better Saudi Arabia, but that can’t work when he is having innocent people arbitrarily arrested and presides over the creation of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Mohammed bin Salman has earned a reputation for being reckless and not thinking through the consequences of his actions. The quarrel with Canada isn’t that important by itself, but it confirms the destructive pattern that we have seen from him over the last three years and especially in the last year since he became crown prince. The pattern that has emerged is one of rash, heavy-handed behavior guided by terrible judgment, and that bodes ill for the future of Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole.
 

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
They were fucking with a Canadian's family over free speech after saying Oh I'm all about Reform. Good of the admin to comment. better than saying the game is over and I'm taking my ball and going home like a petty bitch.

I've got family working in Doha (Qatar) and the sense is the regional politicking by SA is gonna start a war sooner than later.

MBS = Wackest Diplomacy Skill Set in the game.
 
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praktik

TRIBE Member
They were fucking with a Canadian's family over free speech after saying Oh I'm all about Reform. Good of the admin to comment. better than saying the game is over and I'm taking my ball and going home like a petty bitch.

I've got family working in Doha (Qatar) and the sense is the regional politicking by SA is gonna start a war sooner than later.

MBS = Wackest Diplomacy Skill Set in the game.
SA was ready to conquer Qatar last year!!

The real aggressive menace in the region is SA, not Iran.
 

Hal-9000

TRIBE Member
The Saudi trolls are suddenly concerned with Quebec sovereignty, the plight of First Nations, and oddly, Canadians penchant for bestiality. Fuck those cousin-fuckers.
 
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