Archive for the ‘Yemen’ category

US Tomahawks destroy Iran’s radar bases in Yemen

October 13, 2016

US Tomahawks destroy Iran’s radar bases in Yemen, DEBKAfile, October 13, 2016

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Tomahawk cruise missiles launched by US Navy destroyer USS Nitze early Thursday, Oct. 13, destroyed three Iranian-Yemeni coastal radar stations, after C-802 anti-ship missiles supplied by Iran to Yemeni Houthi rebels were fired at US naval vessels off the Yemeni coast. The stations were built and  operated  by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) for their Yemeni proxies to back up a threat to blockade the Red Sea.

From Oct. 9, the new missiles four times targeted the US flotilla shortly after it arrived to patrol the Red Sea and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Neither the US nor Iran has acknowledged their mounting confrontation over control of these strategic waters, which Tehran is waging through its Yemeni proxy.

DEBKAfile was first to disclose this confrontation in a special report Wednesday. (see below)

Iran’s Guards are repeating the mode of operation they employed a decade ago at another Middle East flashpoint. On July 14, 2006, Hizballah used an earlier version of the C-802 to attack and cripple the Israeli Hanit missile ship on the day this Iranian Lebanese proxy launched the Second Lebanese War against Israel. Rev Guards seized control of Lebanese shore radar station to guide their aim.

A highly advanced radar installation is required for the use of the C-802. Two radar stations set up outside Yemen’s two principal Red Sea ports, Mokha and Hudaydah earlier this month were operated by Rev. Guards missile and radar teams until they were destroyed Thursday, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. The third station was added for triangulation. The destruction of all three by a US Tomahawk has knocked out the Houthis’ ability to use C-802 missiles and Iran’s threat to blockade the Red Sea.

To drive this lesson home, the US Pentagon issued the following statement:

“Destroying these radar sites will degrade their ability to track and target ships in the future. These radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea, including last week’s attack on the USA-flagged vessel “Swift-2”, and during attempted attacks on USS Mason and other ships as recently as yesterday.

The official was referring to the United Arab Emirates US-flagged transport ship that was badly damaged last week in the Bab al-Mandeb strait by a Houthi missile..

DEBKAfile reported earlier:

Contrary to Tehran’s assurance to Washington in August that Iranian arms supplies to Yemeni Houthi rebels had been suspended, the rebels took delivery last week of the largest consignment of Iranian weapons to date.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the shipment included highly sophisticated Scud D surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 800km; and C-802 anti-ship missiles (an upgraded version of the Chinese YJ-8 NATO-named CSS-N-8 and renamed by Iran Saccade).

They came with Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers and radar systems to fine-tune the targeting of these missiles by Iran’s Yemeni proxies.

The Scuds were given to the Houthi forces fighting in northern Yemen on the Saudi border, while the C-802s were delivered to the Houthis’ Ansar Allah faction, which is under direct Iranian Rev Guards command.

The missiles were posted at special launch bases constructed by Iran outside Yemen’s two principal Red Sea ports of Mokha and Hudaydah.

Since no more than 62km of Red Sea water divides the Saudi and African coasts, the Iranian missiles are well able to block shipping and tanker traffic plying to and from the Gulf of Suez and the Persian Gulf. Therefore, the threat of blockade hangs imminently over one-third of Saudi and Gulf Emirate oil exports.

The same threat hangs over Israeli civilian and naval shipping from its southern port of Eilat through the Gulf of Aden and out to the Indian Ocean.

One of the most troubling aspects of this pivotal new menace to an international waterway was that US, Saudi, Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies missed the huge consignment of Iranian missiles as it headed towards Yemen. Neither did they pick up on the construction by Iranian military engineers of three ballistic missile bases – one facing Saudi Arabia and two Red Sea traffic.

Tehran’s Yemeni proxies moreover landed large-scale military strength on Perim island in the mouth of the Bab al-Mandeb strait, the chokepoint for ingress and egress from the Red Sea.

Since the strait is just 20km wide, control of this island empowers this force to regulate shipping movements through this strategic strait.
Tehran wasted no time after all its assets were in place to begin using them:

1. On Oct. 1, Iran’s Houthi surrogates launched C-8-1 missiles against a United Arab Emirates transport HSV-2 Swift logistics catamaran as it was about to pass through the strait. The ship, on lease from the US Navy, was badly damaged. No information was released about casualties.

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DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discerned that the aim of this attack was to choke off the movements of UAE warships from the southern Yemeni port of Aden, where large Emirate and Saudi forces are concentrated, to the Eritrean port of Assab, where the UAE has established a large naval base.

This attack did finally evoke a US response. The guided missile destroyers, USS Mason and USS Nitze, were dispatched to the Red Sea, along with the USS Ponceafloat forward staging base, to patrol the strait opposite the Yemeni coast

2. This did not deter Tehran or its Yemeni pawns: On Oct. 9, they fired an additional barrage of C-802 at the American flotilla, which according to a US spokesman, missed aim.

The Mason hit back with two Standard Missile-2s and a single Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missile.

There has been no official word about whether these weapons destroyed a Yemeni launching site. But the event itself was a landmark as the first direct Iranian-Houthi attack of its kind on an American naval vessel.

3. That same day, the Houthis fired Scud-D missiles at the Saudi town of Ta’if, 700 km from the Yemeni border and only 70km from the Muslim shrine city Mecca. This was meant as a direct assault on the Saudi royal house and its claim to legitimacy, by virtue of its role as Guardian of the Holy Places of Islam.

In America’s heated presidential campaign, the Democratic contender Hillary Clinton boasts repeatedly that as Secretary of State she helped “put the lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot.”

That is factually true. America did not fire a single shot. Iran did the shooting and still does, constantly upgrading its arsenal with sophisticated ballistic missiles.

First Iranian-Yemeni missile attack on US flotilla

October 12, 2016

First Iranian-Yemeni missile attack on US flotilla, DEBKAfile, October 12, 2016

uss_mason_fires__9-10-16_an_sm-2

Contrary to Tehran’s assurance to Washington in August that Iranian arms supplies to Yemeni Houthi rebels had been suspended, the rebels took delivery last week of the largest consignment of Iranian weapons to date.

According to DEBKAfile’s military sources, the shipment included highly sophisticated Scud D surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 800km; and C-802 anti-ship missiles (an upgraded version of the Chinese YJ-8 NATO-named CSS-N-8 and renamed by Iran Saccade).

They came with Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers and radar systems to fine-tune the targeting of these missiles by Iran’s Yemeni proxies.

The Scuds were given to the Houthi forces fighting in northern Yemen on the Saudi border, while the C-802s were delivered to the Houthis’ Ansar Allah faction, which is under direct Iranian Rev Guards command.

The missiles were posted at special launch bases constructed by Iran outside Yemen’s two principal Red Sea ports of Mokha and Hudaydah.

Since no more than 62km of Red Sea water divides the Saudi and African coasts, the Iranian missiles are well able to block shipping and tanker traffic plying to and from the Gulf of Suez and the Persian Gulf. Therefore, the threat of blockade hangs imminently over one-third of Saudi and Gulf Emirate oil exports.

The same threat hangs over Israeli civilian and naval shipping from its southern port of Eilat through the Gulf of Aden and out to the Indian Ocean.

One of the most troubling aspects of this pivotal new menace to an international waterway was that US, Saudi, Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies missed the huge consignment of Iranian missiles as it headed towards Yemen. Neither did they pick up on the construction by Iranian military engineers of three ballistic missile bases – one facing Saudi Arabia and two Red Sea traffic.

Tehran’s Yemeni proxies moreover landed large-scale military strength on Perim island in the mouth of the Bab al-Mandeb strait, the chokepoint for ingress and egress from the Red Sea.

Since the strait is just 20km wide, control of this island empowers this force to regulate shipping movements through this strategic strait.

Tehran wasted no time after all its assets were in place to begin using them:

1. On Oct. 1, Iran’s Houthi surrogates launched C-8-1 missiles against a United Arab Emirates transport HSV-2 Swift logistics catamaran as it was about to pass through the strait. The ship, on lease from the US Navy, was badly damaged. No information was released about casualties.

uae_hsv-2_1-1-16

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources discerned that the aim of this attack was to choke off the movements of UAE warships from the southern Yemeni port of Aden, where large Emirate and Saudi forces are concentrated, to the Eritrean port of Assab, where the UAE has established a large naval base.

This attack did finally evoke a US response. The guided missile destroyers, USS Mason and USS Nitze, were dispatched to the Red Sea, along with the USS Ponce afloat forward staging base, to patrol the strait opposite the Yemeni coast

2. This did not deter Tehran or its Yemeni pawns: On Oct. 9, they fired an additional barrage of C-802 at the American flotilla, which according to a US spokesman, missed aim.

The Mason hit back with two Standard Missile-2s and a single Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missile.

There has been no official word about whether these weapons destroyed a Yemeni launching site. But the event itself was a landmark as the first direct Iranian-Houthi attack of its kind on an American naval vessel.

3. That same day, the Houthis fired Scud-D missiles at the Saudi town of Ta’if, 700 km from the Yemeni border and only 70km from the Muslim shrine city Mecca. This was meant as a direct assault on the Saudi royal house and its claim to legitimacy, by virtue of its role as Guardian of the Holy Places of Islam.

In America’s heated presidential campaign, the Democratic contender Hillary Clinton boasts repeatedly that as Secretary of State she helped “put the lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot.”

That is factually true. America did not fire a single shot. Iran did the shooting and still does, constantly upgrading its arsenal with sophisticated ballistic missiles.

Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Politicized UN

February 16, 2016

Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Politicized UN, Gatestone InstituteRichard Kemp and Jasper Reid, February 16, 2016

♦ The UN’s assertion that the Saudi-led coalition has committed war crimes in Yemen is unlikely to be true. UN experts have not been to Yemen, depending instead on hearsay evidence and analysis of photographs.

♦ The UN has a pattern of unsubstantiated allegations of war crimes against the armed forces of sovereign states. Without any military expertise, and never having visited Gaza, a UN commission convicted the Israel Defense Force of deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians in the 2014 conflict. It was an assessment roundly rejected by America’s most senior military officer, General Martin Dempsey, and an independent commission.

♦ The Houthis have learned many lessons from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, groups also supported by Iran. Those lessons include the falsification of civilian casualty figures and their causes. The UN swallowed the fake Gaza figures hook, line and sinker, and are now making the same error in Yemen.

♦ The Houthis exploit gullible or compliant reporters and human rights groups to facilitate their propaganda, including false testimony and fabrication of imagery.

♦ Forensic analysis shows that rather than deliberately targeting civilians, the Saudis and their allies have taken remarkable steps to minimize civilian casualties.

The United Nations, Amnesty International and other groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in Yemen. A leaked UN report claims the bombing campaign against Iranian-supported Houthi insurgents seeking violently to topple the legitimate government of Yemen has conducted deliberate, widespread and systematic attacks on civilian targets.

If the UN’s assertion is true, and the coalition is deliberately and disproportionately killing thousands of innocent civilians, it is a war crime. But it is unlikely to be true. The UN has produced no actual evidence of war crimes. None of their allegations is based on investigation on the ground. Their experts have not been to Yemen, depending instead on hearsay evidence and analysis of photographs.

The UN has a pattern of unsubstantiated allegations of war crimes against the armed forces of sovereign states. Only last year, without any military expertise, and never having visited Gaza, a UN commission convicted the Israel Defense Force of deliberately targeting innocent Palestinian civilians in the 2014 conflict. It was an assessment roundly rejected by America’s most senior military officer, General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dempsey’s own findings were confirmed by an independent commission of experienced senior military officers and officials from nine countries. The High Level Military Group found that Israel had not committed war crimes, but had in fact set a bar for avoiding civilian casualties so high that other armed forces would struggle to reach it.

Moreover, last September the UN said that a US airstrike against a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was “inexcusable” and “possibly a war crime.” Few military forces in the world take greater precautions to prevent civilian casualties on the battlefield than the US. Anyone who has actually experienced combat knows that while such incidents are tragic, when carried out by Western forces, they are far more likely to be the result of human error or the chaos of battle than deliberate war crimes.

There is every reason to believe that the UN is again crying wolf. There is no doubt that thousands are dying in Yemen in horrific circumstances. But we cannot just accept the UN’s figures and its attribution of the proportion of deaths being inflicted by the Saudi coalition. Most of the data comes from the Houthi insurgents, either directly or via non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and is simply accepted as fact. The Houthis have learned many lessons from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, groups also supported by Iran. Those lessons include the falsification and distortion of civilian casualty figures and their causes. The UN swallowed the fake Gaza figures hook, line and sinker, and are now making the same error in Yemen.

As with Israel’s defensive campaign in Gaza in 2014, and the continued U.S. military support to the Afghan regime, the Saudis’ war to defend the government of Yemen and curb Iranian aggression in the region is lawful and legitimate. Therefore, the illegality of civilian deaths must be assessed according to the laws of armed conflict, in particular whether adequate precautions were taken to avoid them, whether they were proportionate to the military objectives and whether they were necessary to achieve legitimate military goals. The UN cannot possibly make such judgements without a more far-reaching and thorough investigation, and especially not on the basis of information provided by Saudi Arabia’s enemies and by interpreting photographs.

Most of us do not like the way that the Saudi regime runs their country according to the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, and we abhor their record on human rights. But the Saudi military ethos is well known and understood by Western military leaders, including from the U.S. and UK, who have worked closely with them for many years. The reality is, as our officers currently serving alongside them will attest, that the Saudis and their allies are not deliberately trying to kill innocent civilians. Indeed, they are doing their best to minimize civilian casualties. The question is whether their best is good enough.

Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies have the most sophisticated Western combat equipment, including planes, attack helicopters, drones and precision-guided munitions. But they lack battle experience. The exception to this is the Emirati forces within the coalition. They have had many years of combat experience alongside Western militaries, including in Somalia, Kosovo, Libya and Afghanistan. Because of that, they have acquitted themselves in Yemen with great professionalism and effectiveness at sea, on the ground and in the air.

But the lack of experience of the other coalition members puts them many years behind our own forces in wielding the highly complex 21st century capabilities of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, communication and targeting.

Yet the coalition faces the same tough challenges that we face on battlefields everywhere. Their Houthi adversaries fight according to the well-developed doctrine of their backers, the Iranian Quds Force. Like Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, their techniques include deliberately killing civilians, fighting from within the population and forcing innocents to become human shields.

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Completely ignoring the laws of war, they exploit their enemies’ adherence to them. They lure their opponents to attack and kill civilians. They exploit gullible or compliant reporters, international organizations and human rights groups to facilitate their propaganda, including false testimony and systematic fabrication of imagery. The aim is to instigate international condemnation in order to constrain their militarily superior enemies.

We have seen credible forensic analysis of strikes in Yemen that directly contradict the findings of the UN. Forensic analysis shows that rather than deliberately targeting civilians, the Saudis and their allies have taken remarkable steps to minimize civilian deaths. Of note, they have learned much from Israel’s conduct of operations in Gaza. This has included the use of guided munitions to conduct precision attacks against insurgents while seeking to reduce collateral damage.

Why would coalition forces spend vast amounts of money in a cripplingly expensive conflict firing precision strike munitions, and put their valuable pilots at risk, if they wanted to massacre civilians? Why not use much cheaper unguided munitions or Assad’s indiscriminate barrel-bombs?

The overwhelming majority of civilian deaths caused by the Saudi-led coalition have been due not to deliberate targeting, but to inexperienced pilots and unsophisticated intelligence and targeting capabilities in the face of an enemy that fights from within the civilian population. And to that the friction, confusion, stress and fog of war that leads even the most sophisticated, experienced and restrained military forces, such as American, British and Israeli, to sometimes kill civilians unintentionally. Contrary to the UN’s claim, this is unlikely to amount to war crimes.

Like every conflict in the Middle East, the war in Yemen is almost intractable, takes a heavy toll on innocent civilians, and is unlikely to end in anything approaching a perfect solution. But Saudi Arabia and its allies are making considerable efforts to restore stability to the country and its legitimate government.

Instability in Yemen undermines Western interests, including oil supplies. Instability also allows Al Qaeda and the Islamic State — proven and lethal threats to the US and the West — to flourish there.

By confronting the Houthis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is also confronting Iran, which represents an even greater threat to the region and to the world. Emboldened by U.S. President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal, enriched by the release of billions of dollars of previously frozen funds, encouraged by the imminent boost in oil revenues, Iranian imperial aggression is today rampant in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

However unpalatable to many, Saudi Arabia is and will remain a vital ally of the West. We must continue to support them in the fight in Yemen. We must not allow the false, ill-informed and increasingly shrill condemnations by the UN, human rights groups and the media to undermine Saudi’s fighting effectiveness as they have sought to do against other legitimate government forces fighting lawless insurgents in so many other places.

Saudi and Egyptian marines capture Iran-held island at Red Sea chokepoint

December 11, 2015

Saudi and Egyptian marines capture Iran-held island at Red Sea chokepoint, DEBKAfile, December 11, 2015

HANISH-map

In a pivotal breakthrough in the Yemen civil war, Thursday, Dec. 11 the naval forces of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAR took by storm from Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels the Greater Hanish island, which is part of the strategic archipelago commanding the Strait of Bab al Mandeb. This is reported exclusively by DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources.

This highly strategic strait links the Indian Ocean with the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea – i.e. Africa and Asia – and is the world’s fourth busiest chokepoint for international oil traffic.

Captured by Yemeni rebels last May, the island was converted by Iranian officers into an armed base and one of Tehran’s largest depots for the supply of arms to its forces and proxies in the region. A fleet of small boats and fishing vessels kept the Yemeni Houthis amply armed for fending off the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting to restore the exiled Yemeni government.

The Hanish island base also provided Iran with a commanding position for spreading its influence in Ethiopia and Eritrea on the eastern African seaboard.

Taking the island was a major breakthrough for the coalition, after long months of combat that was crowned by their capture of the southern Yemeni seaport of Aden in the past three months. With the occupation of Greater Hanish, Saudi-led forces are now in position not just to cut off Iran’s weapons supplies to the Yemeni rebels, but also to break its grip on the vital strait that connects the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

Iran maintained on Greater Hanish Island advanced radar and electronic tracking stations for keeping an eye on military movements on the southern Saudi border with northern Yemen. They could also shadow oil tanker and other shipping passing through the Red Sea, and stake out Israel’s south- and east-bound sea traffic as it passed through the Gulf of Aqaba.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that Saudi Arabia and Egypt finally decided that the seizure of the strategic island could not be delayed when last month, Iran won a permit to establish an air and sea base in Djibouti, the Horn of Africa nation opposite the Gulf of Aden’s entrance to the Red Sea.

Djibouti derives much of its revenue from renting out tracts of land to foreign nations seeking bases of operation in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea. American and French bases are situated no more than 214 km from Greater Hanish Island.

Riyadh, Cairo and the UAE agreed that they could not afford to let Iranian air and naval forces gain control of the Bab El-Mandeb Strait from its twin footholds on the island and in Djibouti.

They were not the only interested parties. It may be taken for granted that their operation to take over Greater Hanish was quietly assisted by Western and Middle East interests that had been watching Iran’s takeover of these vital ocean pathways with grave concern.

Saudi king wants Obama to tackle Iranian ‘mischief’

August 31, 2015

Saudi king wants Obama to tackle Iranian ‘mischief,’ Al-Monitor, August 31, 2015

U.S. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (R) at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 22, 2015. (photo by REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster) Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/08/saudi-king-washington-visit-iran-deal.html#ixzz3kPeQtHQK width= U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (R) at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 22, 2015.

King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s three-day visit, strategically scheduled just days before Congress votes on the agreement, offers the Saudi leader a powerful platform to insist that the United States help combat Iranian “mischief.” The king is seeking assurances in the fight against Iran’s proxies across the region, as well as with elements of the nuclear deal itself.

The visit “underscores the importance of the strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Aug. 27.

“The president and the king will discuss a range of issues and focus on ways to further strengthen the bilateral relationship, including our joint security and counterterrorism efforts,” Earnest said. “They will also discuss regional topics, including the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, and steps to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

Despite deep reservations about the deal, sources close to the Saudi government say that unlike Israel, the kingdom quickly concluded that it could not be defeated in Congress and that no better alternatives were likely to emerge.

Riyadh, however, has repeatedly made clear that its support is conditioned on a tough inspection regime and snapback sanctions. Salman may seek further assurances on those aspects of the deal in light of recent reports that allege that Iran will be allowed an unusual amount of autonomy with regard to inspections of its military installation at Parchin.

“The agreement must include a specific, strict and sustainable inspection regime of all Iranian sites, including military sites, as well as a mechanism to swiftly re-impose effective sanctions in the event that Iran violates the agreement,” the Saudi Embassy in Washington said after the deal was announced.

Most of the discussion is expected to center on non-nuclear issues, however.

Salman and President Barack Obama, who will meet Sept. 4 at the White House, are expected to further flesh out Washington’s promise of increased military support for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries — including a potential missile defense shield — as discussed during the US-GCC Camp David summit in May. That meeting, which was skipped by four of the top six regional leaders — including Salman — aimed to reassure the Gulf nations of America’s commitment to their security amid the perceived rapprochement with Iran.

“This is an opportunity to reset this relationship when there are some pretty considerable concerns on both sides,” said David Weinberg, a Gulf analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It comes in the context of the United States trying to reassure the Gulf states about the Iran deal, as well as to focus on this Camp David agenda in terms of concrete US security assistance. It’s reasonable to assume that that’s going to be a big focus of the trip as well.”

Much of the conversation is expected to focus on military hardware: The Saudis are seeking upgrades to their F-15s along with other advanced weaponry, but Israel is said to have raised concerns during Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recent visit to the region. Congress may object to such sales if lawmakers deem that they would undermine Israel’s so-called qualitative military edge.

The Saudis will be interested “in how much the White House will invest itself so that it can get the technology that it wants,” former Obama National Security Council Middle East adviser Prem Kumar told Al-Monitor. They will want to see if the White House “will spend some political capital on the Hill.”

Another topic of interest is the proposed creation of a GCC-wide “rapid reaction force” to take on external threats. The White House paid lip service to the idea in its joint statement from the Camp David summit, but the idea has failed to gain traction among concerns by Qatar and Oman that it would be dominated by the Saudis.

“In terms of GCC-wide reassurance, the Saudis are interested to hear what the US is prepared to do to support the GCC rapid reaction force, the joint Arab defense force, if that is going to materialize,” Kumar said.

Beyond military requests, Salman is likely to seek US backing for his more muscular approach to foreign policy compared with his predecessor. That includes beefed-up US support for his campaign against the Houthis in Yemen and a renewed focus on getting rid of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

For Riyadh, said former Saudi Embassy political analyst Fahad Nazer, a nuclear Iran “is more of a long-term issue. They’re concerned about the here-and-now.”

“The Saudis at this point have kind of parted ways with their traditional behind-the-scenes diplomacy and trying to mediate between warring factions,” Nazer said. “[They’ve realized] it’s time for them to take the helm of ensuring their own interests.”

In Yemen, “The Saudis want the US to get more involved, beyond intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition,” said Kumar, now vice president with the Albright Stonebridge Group. Already, the Pentagon in recent weeks has more than doubled its advisers on the ground providing targeting intelligence for airstrikes and helping the Saudis roll back the Houthis, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Those battlefield successes have led some Saudi cheerleaders to argue that the intervention in Yemen offers a “template” for similarly emboldened leadership in Syria. While Nazer and others doubt Riyadh will go that far, the Saudis have recently announced their own proposal to withdraw support for Sunni rebels if Iran removes its forces and Hezbollah fighters with a view to parliamentary and presidential elections under UN supervision.

“I think there are a couple concrete things” on the Saudi wish list, Kumar said. “First is to increase support for the Syrian opposition, in some form or other. Safe zones, maybe direct pressure on the [Assad] regime, that would not necessarily undercut diplomatic initiatives.”

The king’s visit isn’t just about politics, however. He will be accompanied by a large entourage of ministers and business executives, and some of them are expected to stay on after the royal visit.

The US-Saudi Arabian Business Council has announced a daylong investment forum with the ministers of finance as well as commerce and industry.

 

Russia and US woo Saudis to help save Assad – albeit putting Israel and Jordan in danger from S. Syria

August 9, 2015

Russia and US woo Saudis to help save Assad – albeit putting Israel and Jordan in danger from S. Syria, DEBKAfile, August 9, 2015

Lavrov_Kerry_and_al-Jubeir-_Doha_3.8.15Lavrov, Kerry, Al-Jubeir at Doha

[N]either Israel nor Jordan has been co-opted to this big power initiative, as though they are not concerned. However, both have a big stake in Saudi Arabia’s next decisions. If Riyadh is won over by US-Russian blandishments and goes back on its decision to boycott Assad, the Saudi-Israeli-Jordanian effort to support Syrian rebel control of southern Syria will fall apart. This will open up both countries to new perils on their  northern borders.

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Building on the nuclear accord signed in Vienna last month, the Obama administration has been in close communion with Moscow and Tehran on regional moves to save the Assad regime, as the key to their next regional policies, including a united front against the Islamic State.. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners are being assiduously wooed to join the new alignment being set up for this purpose. The live wire in getting them all together is Omani Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, the secret broker who brought Iran and the United States to the negotiating table for a nuclear accord. This was first reported in the last DEBKA Weekly.

Wednesday, Aug. 7, Obama threw out his first hint on this development: “The window has opened a crack for us to get a political resolution in Syria, partly because both Russia and Iran, I think, recognize that the trend lines are not good for Assad,” he said. “Neither of those patrons are particularly sentimental; they don’t seem concerned about the humanitarian disaster that’s been wrought by Assad and this conflict over the last several years, but they are concerned about the potential collapse of the Syrian state. And that means, I think, the prospect of more serious discussions than we’ve had in the past.”

The US president then affirmed more strongly in a CNN interview Sunday, Aug. 9:  “Is there the possibility that having begun conversations around this narrow issue [the nuclear accord with Iran] that you start getting some broader discussions about Syria, for example, and the ability of all the parties involved to try to arrive at a political transition that keeps the country intact and does not further fuel the growth of ISIL and other terrorist organizations? I think that’s possible,” Obama said. “But I don’t think it happens immediately.”

The administration and its prospective partners are united by the will to destroy ISIS – in its Syrian stronghold, for starters – but are divided on much else, DEBKA file reports. And so the process is moving forward in careful steps.

Their initial focus is on Syria, the bloody battleground which in less than five years has left at least 300,000 dead and more than 10 million people homeless.

The plan the group started out with in the last ten days was a swap as simple as it was ruthless: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would slow their assistance to Syrian rebel groups, against whom President Bashar Assad’s army and allies would hold their fire; Iran, for its part, was to start withdrawing its support from the Yemeni Houthis insurgents.

The informal truce in Syria would be the stage for the Assad regime and rebel groups to start discussing a new government with room for opposition parties. The Islamists of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front would not be invited.

In Yemen, Tehran would cut back on the arms and intelligence which have enabled the Houthi insurgents to stand up to the combined forces of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. The pro-Western Yemeni President Abd Rabo Mansour Hadi would be restored to his palace in Sanaa and invite the insurgent leader, Abdu Malik Al-Houthi, to discuss his partnership in a new government.

This deal was tantamount to a joint US-Russian guarantee of Bashar Assad survival in power in return for a Tehran-Riyadh compact for Hadi’s reinstatement in Sanaa.

These arrangements were debated back and forth in exchanges, some semi-secret, among the leading actors for most of July. The visit to Riyadh of the Syrian intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk was set up by Moscow as a major push forward.

The plan was for the entire enterprise to be brought out in the open and sealed in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Aug. 3 at a conference attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and other top Gulf diplomats.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was not there. But he put a strong oar into the proceedings by calling in at Muscat, Oman the day before the conference and subsequently on Friday Aug. 7. Assad also kept his hand in by sending his foreign minister Walid Moallem to Tehran and Muscat last week.

But then, at Doha, just as the package was ready to unveil, the Saudi foreign minister pulled away and blew it up with two provisions: a) Riyadh would not countenance Bashar Assad being allowed to stay in office, and: b) Saudi Arabia would not do business with any representative of the Assad regime.

This put a large spoke in the main wheel of the initiative and also scuttled some of the secondary plans depending on it.

But by then, a lot was happening in the Yemeni and Syrian war arenas:

1. Saudi and UAE armored forces had landed in Aden and were closing in on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The Houthi rebels, trained and armed by Iran, were forced to retreat without negotiations on their future role in government.

2. Syrian rebel leaders, sensing the approaching betrayal, sent a secret delegation to Tehran to discuss terms for opening negotiations with Assad. They too were left at sea about the deals in play among Washington, Moscow, Tehran and Riyadh over their future.

Saturday, Aug.8, the Russians, egged on by the Americans, set about winning Riyadh into the fold, Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir was invited to pay a visit to Moscow Tuesday, Aug. 11, for talks about the Syrian conflict and the war on the Islamic State.

Refusing to accept that the new initiative had been grounded in Doha, Moscow presented the visit as continuing the ongoing dialogue on the issues raised at that encounter.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources note that neither Israel nor Jordan has been co-opted to this big power initiative, as though they are not concerned. However, both have a big stake in Saudi Arabia’s next decisions. If Riyadh is won over by US-Russian blandishments and goes back on its decision to boycott Assad, the Saudi-Israeli-Jordanian effort to support Syrian rebel control of southern Syria will fall apart. This will open up both countries to new perils on their  northern borders.

North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat

June 11, 2015

North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat, The Gatestone InstitutePeter Huessy, June 11, 2015

China . . . seems to want to curry favor with Iran because of its vast oil and gas supplies, as well as to use North Korea to sell and transfer nuclear technology to both North Korea and Iran, as well as other states such as Pakistan. As Reed again explains, “China has catered to the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian ayatollahs in a blatant attempt to secure an ongoing supply of oil”.

***********************

  • China continues to transfer, through its own territory, nuclear weapons technology involving both North Korea and Iran.
  • In April, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submerged platform. The North Korean underwater launch test was closely related to the further development of a missile-firing submarine capable of hitting the U.S. — “a first step,” according to Uzi Rubin, “in achieving a very serious and dangerous new military capability… it will take many years to build up the missile defenses, so we had better use the time wisely.”
  • Although the Chinese profess to be against nuclear proliferation, documented evidence illustrates just the opposite — as a means of asserting Chinese hegemony, complicating American security policy and undermining American influence.
  • Unfortunately, no matter how attractive a strategy of diplomatically ending North Korea’s nuclear program might look, it is painfully at odds with China’s established record of supporting nuclear proliferation with such collapsed or rogue states as Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea and Libya.
  • China’s nuclear assistance to Pakistan did not stay just in Pakistan.

North Korea appears to have made significant progress in extending its capability as a nuclear-armed rogue nation, to where its missiles may become capable of hitting American cities with little or no warning.

What new evidence makes such a threat compelling?

North Korea claims to have nuclear warheads small enough to fit on their ballistic missiles andmissiles capable of being launched from a submerged platform such as a submarine.

Shortly after North Korea’s April 22, 2015 missile test, which heightened international concern about the military capabilities of North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged China and our regional allies to restart the 2003 “six-party talks” aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula and reining in North Korea’s expanding nuclear missile program.

There are some “experts,” however, who believe that North Korea’s threat is highly exaggerated and poses no immediate danger to the United States. Consequently, many believe that, given China’s oft-repeated support for a “nuclear weapons free” Korean peninsula, time is on America’s side to get an agreement that will guarantee just such a full de-nuclearization.

But, if North Korea’s technical advances are substantive, its missiles, armed with small nuclear weapons, might soon be able to reach the continental United States — not just Hawaii and Alaska. Further, if such missile threats were to come from submarines near the U.S., North Korea would be able to launch a surprise nuclear-armed missile attack on an American city. In this view, time is not on the side of the U.S. Submarine-launched missiles come without a “return address” to indicate what country or terrorist organization fired the missile.

The implications for American security do not stop there. As North Korea is Iran’s primary missile-development partner, whatever North Korea can do with its missiles and nuclear warheads, Iran will presumably be able to do as well. One can assume the arrangement is reciprocal.

Given recent warnings that North Korea may have upwards of 20 nuclear warheads, the United States seems to be facing a critical new danger. Would renewed negotiations with China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea really be able to address this threat?

Two years ago, Andrew Tarantola and Brian Barrett said there was “no reason to panic;” that North Korea was “a long way off” — in fact “years” — before its missiles and nuclear weapons could be “put together in any meaningful way.”

At the same time, in April 2013, an official U.S. assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency stated the U.S. had “moderate” confidence that “North Korea had indeed developed a nuclear device small enough to mount on a ballistic missile.”

That was followed up two years later, on April 7, 2015, when the commander of Northcom, Admiral Bill Gortney, one of the nation’s leading homeland security defenders, said the threat was considerably more serious. He noted that, “North Korea has deployed its new road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile and was capable of mounting a miniaturized nuclear warhead on it.”[1]

At a Pentagon press briefing in April, Admiral Cecil Haney, Commander of the US Strategic Command and America’s senior military expert on nuclear deterrence and missile defense, said it was important to take seriously reports that North Korea can now make small nuclear warheads and put them on their ballistic missiles.[2]

And sure enough, in April, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submerged platform. Media reaction to the North Korean test has been confused. Reuters, citing the analysis of two German “experts,” claimed the North Korean test was fake — a not-too-clever manipulation of video images.

The Wall Street Journal, on May 21, 2015, echoed this view, noting: “[F]or evidence of North Korea’s bending of reality to drum up fears about its military prowess,” one need look no further than a consensus that North Korea “doctored” pictures of an alleged missile test from a submarine. This, they claimed, was proof that the “technology developments” by North Korea were nothing more than elaborately faked fairy tales.

However, Israeli missile defense expert Uzi Rubin — widely known as the “father” of Israel’s successful Arrow missile defense program — explained to this author that previous North Korean missile developments, which have often been dismissed as nothing more than mocked-up missiles made of plywood, actually turned out to be the real thing — findings confirmed by subsequent intelligence assessments.

Rubin, as well as the South Korean Defense Ministry, insist that on April 22, the North Korean military did, in fact, launch a missile from a submerged platform.[3]

1104Kim Jong Un, the “Supreme Leader” of North Korea, supervises the April 22 test-launch of a missile from a submerged platform. (Image source: KCNA)

What gave the “faked” test story some prominence were the misunderstood remarks of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral James Winnefeld. He had said, on May 19, that the North Korean missile launch was “not all” that North Korea said it was. He also mentioned that North Korea used clever video editors to “crop” the missile test-launch images. Apparently, that was exactly what the editors did. The Admiral, however, never claimed in his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies there had been no successful missile test.[4]

The same day, a high-ranking State Department official, Frank Rose — Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance — told a Korean security seminar on Capitol Hill that North Korea had successfully conducted a “missile ejection” test, but from an underwater barge rather than a submarine.[5]

To confuse matters further, additional pictures were released by the South Korean media to illustrate stories about the North Korean test. Those pictures, however, were of American missiles, which use both solid and liquid propellant; as a result, one photo showed a U.S. missile with a solid propellant smoke trail and one, from a liquid propellant, without a smoke trail. These photographs apparently befuddled Reuters’ “experts,” who may have jumped to the conclusion that the photos of the North Korean test were “faked,” when they were simply of entirely different missile tests, and had been used only to “illustrate” ocean-going missile launches and not the actual North Korean test.[6]

According to Uzi Rubin, to achieve the capability to eject a missile from an underwater platform is a significant technological advancement. The accomplishment again illustrates “that rogue states such as North Korea can achieve military capabilities which pose a notable threat to the United States and its allies.”

Rubin also stated that the North Korean underwater launch test was closely related to the development of a missile-firing submarine, “a first step in achieving a very serious and dangerous new military capability.”[7]

Admiral Winnefeld and Secretary Rose, in their remarks, confirmed that the North Korean test was not the “dog and pony show” some have claimed. In other words, the U.S. government has officially confirmed that the North Koreans have made a serious step toward producing a sea-launched ballistic missile capability.

While such an operational capability may be “years away,” Rubin warns that “even many years eventually pass, and it will also take many years to build up the missile defenses, so we had better use the time wisely.”[8]

Will diplomacy succeed in stopping the North Korean threats? U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to think it worth a try; so he began the push to restart the old 2003 “six-party” talks between the United States, North Korea, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, to bring North Korea’s nuclear weapons under some kind of international control and eventual elimination.

After all, supporters of such talks claim, similar talks with Iran appear to be leading to some kind of “deal” with Tehran, to corral its nuclear weapons program, so why not duplicate that effort and bring North Korea back into the non-nuclear fold?

What such a “deal,” if any, with Iran, will contain, is at this point unknown. Celebrations definitely seem premature. If the “deal” with North Korea is as “successful” as the P5+1’s efforts to rein in Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program, the prognosis for the success of diplomacy could scarcely be more troubling.

Bloomberg’s defense writer, Tony Carpaccio, reflecting Washington’s conventional wisdom, recently wrote that of course China will rein in North Korea’s nuclear program: “What might be a bigger preventative will be the protestations of China, North Korea’s primary trade partner and only prominent international ally. Making China angry would put an already deeply impoverished, isolated North Korea in even more dire straits.”

Unfortunately, no matter how attractive a strategy of diplomatically ending North Korea’s nuclear program might look on the surface, it is painfully at odds with China’s established and documented track record in supporting and carrying out nuclear proliferation with such collapsed or rogue states as Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea and Libya, as detailed by the 2009 book The Nuclear Express, by Tom C. Reed (former Secretary of the Air Force under President Gerald Ford and Special Assistant to the President of National Security Affairs during the Ronald Reagan administration) and Daniel Stillman (former Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory).

Far from being a potential partner in seeking a non-nuclear Korean peninsula, China, say the authors, has been and is actually actively pushing the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states, as a means of asserting Chinese hegemony, complicating American security policy and undermining American influence.

The problem is not that China has little influence with North Korea, as China’s leadership repeatedly claims. The problem is that China has no interest in pushing North Korea away from its nuclear weapons path because the North Korean nuclear program serves China’s geostrategic purposes.

As Reed and Stillman write, “China has been using North Korea as the re-transfer point for the sale of nuclear and missile technology to Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen”. They explain, “Chinese and North Korean military officers were in close communication prior to North Korea’s missile tests of 1998 and 2006”.

Thus, if China takes action to curtail North Korea’s nuclear program, China will likely be under pressure from the United States and its allies to take similar action against Iran and vice versa. China, however, seems to want to curry favor with Iran because of its vast oil and gas supplies, as well as to use North Korea to sell and transfer nuclear technology to both North Korea and Iran, as well as other states such as Pakistan. As Reed again explains, “China has catered to the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian ayatollahs in a blatant attempt to secure an ongoing supply of oil”.

North Korea is a partner with Iran in the missile and nuclear weapons development business, as Uzi Rubin has long documented. Thus, it is reasonable to believe that China may see any curtailment of North Korea’s nuclear program as also curtailing Iran’s access to the same nuclear technology being supplied by North Korea. Any curtailment would also harm the Chinese nuclear sales business to Iran and North Korea, especially if China continues to use the “North Korea to Iran route” as an indirect means of selling its own nuclear expertise and technology to Iran.

It is not as if Chinese nuclear proliferation is a recent development or a “one of a kind” activity. As far back as 1982, China gave nuclear warhead blueprints to Pakistan, according to Reed. These findings indicate that China’s nuclear weapons proliferation activities are over three decades old.[9]

Reed and Stillman also note that nearly a decade later, China tested a nuclear bomb “for Pakistan” on May 26, 1990, and that documents discovered in Libya when the George W. Bush administration shut down Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi’s nuclear program revealed that China gave Pakistan the CHIC-4 nuclear weapon design.

Unfortunately, China’s nuclear assistance to Pakistan did not stay just in Pakistan. The nuclear technology made its way from Pakistan to North Korea. For example, high explosive craters, construction of a 50 megawatt nuclear reactor (finished in 1986) and a secret reprocessing facility begun in 1987 all were done in North Korea with major Pakistani help from the A.Q. Khan “Nukes R Us” smuggling group, as Reed and Stillman document in their book.

Reed and Stillman write that when, amid disclosures in 2003 of a major Libyan nuclear weapons program, the U.S. government sought help in shutting down the Khan nuclear smuggling ring, “Chinese authorities were totally unhelpful, to the point of stonewalling any investigation into Libya’s nuclear supply network.”

More recently, Chinese companies have now twice — in 2009 and 2011 — been indicted by the Attorney for the City of New York for trying to provide Iran with nuclear weapons technology.

The indictments document that Chinese companies were selling Iran steel for nuclear centrifuges and other banned technology. A leaked State Department cable, discussing the indictments at the time, revealed “details on China’s role as a supplier of materials for Iran’s nuclear program,” and that “China helped North Korea ship goods to Iran through Chinese airports.”

And more recently, in April 2015, the Czech government interdicted additional nuclear technology destined for Iran — the origin of which remains unknown — in violation of current sanctions against Iran.

From 1982 through at least the first part of 2015, the accumulation of documentary evidence on nuclear proliferation reveals two key facts:

First, despite literally hundreds of denials by Iran that it is seeking nuclear weapons, and amid current negotiations to end Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, there is solid evidence that Iran still seeks nuclear weapons technology; and that North Korea has nuclear weapons and is advancing their capability.

Second, China continues to transfer, through its own territory, nuclear weapons technology involving both North Korea and Iran.

Although the Chinese profess to be against nuclear proliferation, their track record from the documented evidence illustrates just the opposite.

In summary, it is obvious North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are a serious threat to America and its allies. And China, from its proliferation record for the past three decades, is making such a threat more widespread.

In this light, is dismissing North Korea’s advances in military technology and ignoring China’s record of advancing its neighbors’ nuclear weapons technology really best for U.S. interests?

_______________________

[1] The Washington Post, May 20, 2015, Anna Fifield, “North Korea says it has technology to make mini-nuclear weapons“; and Admiral Bill Gortney, US NORAD Commander, quoted in “NORAD commander: North Korean KN-08 Missile Operational“, by Jon Harper, in “Stars and Stripes”, of April 7, 2015; the Admiral said: “Our assessment is that they have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland.” He said “Yes sir” when asked if the U.S. thinks North Korea has succeeded in the complicated task of miniaturizing a warhead for use on such a missile. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006.

[2] Department of Defense Press Briefing by Admiral Cecil Haney, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, March 24, 2015.

[3] Personal communication with Uzi Rubin, President of Rubincon, May 21, 2015.

[4] Admiral James Winnefeld, Remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Briefing on Missile Defense, May 20, 2015.

[5] U.S. Department of State, Daily Digest Bulletin, Frank Rose, Remarks on “Missile Defense and the U.S. Response to the North Korean Ballistic Missile and WMD Threat”, May 20, 2015.

[6] Explanation provided by Israel missile expert Uzi Rubin, personal communication, May 20, 2015.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] According to Reed and Stillman, in “The Nuclear Express,” none of China’s nuclear help to Pakistan and Iran could have been possible without China’s transfer of the nuclear technology through Chinese airspace.

Directive 11: Obama’s Secret Islamist Plan

June 8, 2015

Directive 11: Obama’s Secret Islamist Plan, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, June 8, 2015

Obama-450x240

What little we know about the resulting classified 18-page report is that it used euphemisms to call for aiding Islamist takeovers in parts of the Middle East. Four countries were targeted. Of those four, we only know for certain that Egypt and Yemen were on the list. But we do know for certain the outcome.

Obama’s insistence that human rights be made a core national security interest paved the way for political and military interventions on behalf of Islamists. Obama had never been interested in human rights; his record of pandering to the world’s worst genocide plotters and perpetrators from Iran to Turkey to Sudan made that clear. When he said “human rights”, Obama really meant “Islamist power.”

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Behind the rise of ISIS, the Libyan Civil War, the unrest in Egypt, Yemen and across the region may be a single classified document.

That document is Presidential Study Directive 11.

You can download Presidential Study Directive 10 on “Preventing Mass Atrocities” from the White House website, but as of yet no one has been able to properly pry number 11 out of Obama Inc.

Presidential Study Directive 10, in which Obama asked for non-military options for stopping genocide, proved to be a miserable failure. The Atrocities Prevention Board’s only use was as a fig leaf for a policy that had caused the atrocities. And the cause of those atrocities is buried inside Directive 11.

With Obama’s typical use of technicalities to avoid transparency, Directive 11 was used to guide policy in the Middle East without being officially submitted. It is possible that it will never be submitted. And yet the Directive 11 group was described as “just finishing its work” when the Arab Spring began.

That is certainly one way of looking at it.

Directive 11 brought together activists and operatives at multiple agencies to come up with a “tailored” approach for regime change in each country. The goal was to “manage” the political transitions. It tossed aside American national security interests by insisting that Islamist regimes would be equally committed to fighting terrorism and cooperating with Israel. Its greatest gymnastic feat may have been arguing that the best way to achieve political stability in the region was through regime change.

What little we know about the resulting classified 18-page report is that it used euphemisms to call for aiding Islamist takeovers in parts of the Middle East. Four countries were targeted. Of those four, we only know for certain that Egypt and Yemen were on the list. But we do know for certain the outcome.

Egypt fell to the Muslim Brotherhood, which collaborated with Al Qaeda, Hamas and Iran, before being undone by a counterrevolution. Yemen is currently controlled by Iran’s Houthi terrorists and Al Qaeda.

According to a New York Times story, Obama’s Directive 11 agenda appeared to resemble Che or Castro as he “pressed his advisers to study popular uprisings in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia to determine which ones worked and which did not.”

The story also noted that he “is drawn to Indonesia, where he spent several years as a child, which ousted its longtime leader, Suharto, in 1998.”

The coup against Mubarak with its coordination of liberals, Islamists and the military did strongly resemble what happened in Indonesia. The most ominous similarity may be that the Muslim mobs in Indonesia targeted the Chinese, many of whom are Christians, while the Muslim mobs in Egypt targeted Coptic Christians.

Both were talented groups that were disproportionately successful because they lacked the traditional Islamic hostility to education, integrity and achievement. Islamist demagogues had succeeded in associating them with the regime and promoted attacks on them as part of the anti-regime protests.

Chinese stores were looted and thousands of Chinese women were raped by rampaging Muslims. Just as in Egypt, the protesters and their media allies spread the claim that these atrocities committed by Muslim protesters were the work of the regime’s secret police. That remains the official story today.

Suharto’s fall paved the way for the rise of the Prosperous Justice Party, which was founded a few months after his resignation and has become one of the largest parties in the Indonesian parliament. PJP was set up by the Muslim Brotherhood’s local arm in Indonesia.

His successor, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, was more explicitly Islamist than Suharto and his Association of Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI) conducted a campaign against Christians, Hindus and Buddhists. It helped purge non-Muslims from government while Islamizing the government and Indonesia’s key institutions.

Habibie had been the Chairman of ICMI and ICMI’s Islamists played a key role in moving Suharto out and moving him in. It was obvious why Obama would have considered the Islamization of Indonesia and the purge of Christians under the guise of democratic political change to be a fine example for Egypt.

While we don’t know the full contents of Directive 11 and unless a new administration decides to open the vaults of the old regime, we may never know. But we do know a good deal about the results.

In its own way, PSD-10 tells us something about PSD-11.

Obama’s insistence that human rights be made a core national security interest paved the way for political and military interventions on behalf of Islamists. Obama had never been interested in human rights; his record of pandering to the world’s worst genocide plotters and perpetrators from Iran to Turkey to Sudan made that clear. When he said “human rights”, Obama really meant “Islamist power”.

That was why Obama refused to intervene when the Muslim Brotherhood conducted real genocide in Sudan, but did interfere in Libya on behalf of the Brotherhood using a phony claim of genocide.

Positioning Samantha Power in the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council was part of the process that made over the NSC from national security to servicing a progressive wish list of Islamist terrorist groups that were to be transformed into national governments.

Power, along with Gayle Smith and Dennis Ross, led the Directive 11 project.

Secret proceedings were used to spawn regime change infrastructure. Some of these tools had official names, such as “The Office of The Special Coordinator For Middle East Transitions” which currently reports directly to former ambassador Anne Patterson who told Coptic Christians not to protest against Morsi. After being driven out of the country by angry mobs over her support for the Muslim Brotherhood tyranny, she was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

“The Office” is still focused on “outreach to emergent political, economic and social forces in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya” even though counterrevolutions have pushed out Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia, while Libya is in the middle of a bloody civil war in which an alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda controls the nation’s capital.

But even as Morsi’s abuses of power were driving outraged Egyptians into the streets, Gayle Smith, one of the three leaders of Directive 11, reached out to the “International Union of Muslim Scholars”, a Muslim Brotherhood group that supported terrorism against American soldiers in Iraq and which was now looking for American support for its Islamist terrorist brigades in the Syrian Civil War.

The men and women responsible for Directive 11 were making it clear that they had learned nothing.

Directive 11 ended up giving us the Islamic State through its Arab Spring. PSD-11’s twisted claim that regional stability could only be achieved through Islamist regime change tore apart the region and turned it into a playground for terrorists. ISIS is simply the biggest and toughest of the terror groups that were able to thrive in the environment of violent civil wars created by Obama’s Directive 11.

During the Arab Spring protests, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit had told Hillary Clinton that his government could not hand over power to the Muslim Brotherhood. “My daughter gets to go out at night. And, God damn it, I’m not going to turn this country over to people who will turn back the clock on her rights.”

But that was exactly what Hillary Clinton and Obama were after. And they got it. Countless women were raped in Egypt. Beyond Egypt, Hillary and Obama’s policy saw Yazidi women actually sold into slavery.

Directive 11 codified the left’s dirty alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood into our foreign policy. Its support for Islamist takeovers paved the way for riots and civil wars culminating in the violence that birthed ISIS and covered the region in blood.

And it remains secret to this day.

Two major Mid East escalations: Yemeni rebels fire Scuds at Saudi air base. ISIS warns Syrian rebels

June 6, 2015

Two major Mid East escalations: Yemeni rebels fire Scuds at Saudi air base. ISIS warns Syrian rebels, DEBKAfile, June 6, 2015

us_patriot_missiles_saudi_arabia_6.6.15US Patriots stationed in Saudi Arabia

Saudi military sources reported Saturday, June 6, that Patriot air defense batteries had intercepted Scud missiles fired by Yemen Houthi rebels against the kingdom’s largest air base at Khamis al-Mushait in the south west. It is from there that Saudi jets take off to strike the Yemeni rebels. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Patriot anti-missile systems, which were activated for the first time, were manned by American teams. This was the first direct US military intervention on the Saudi side of the Yemen conflict.

It was also the first time that Houthi rebels or their allies had fired Scud missile into the oil kingdom. Our sources add that the launch was supervised by Hizballah officers. They were transferred by Tehran to Yemen to ratchet up the conflict – although US, Saudi, Yemeni government and Houthi representatives meeting secretly in Muscat Friday agreed to attend a peace conference in Geneva this month.

Nonetheless, through Friday night and Saturday morning, Houthi forces and allied military units kept on battering at Saudi army and National Guard defense lines, in an effort to break through and seize territory in the kingdom’s southern provinces. The insurgents were evidently grabbing for strategic assets to strengthen their hand at the peace conference.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is also juggling his chips on the deteriorating Syrian warfront. In the coming hours, he is widely expected to announce the activation of the mutual defense pact signed between Iran and Syria in 2006, under which each signatory is committed to send military troops if necessary to defend its partner.

Thursday, June 4, Khamenei fired sharp verbal arrows at the Obama administration: “The United States tolerates extremist groups in Syria and Iraq and even helps them in secret,” he charged.

Our military sources add that although various Mid East publications, especially in Lebanon, are reporting that Iran has already sent units in numbers ranging from 7.000 to 15,000 troops to Syria, none have so far landed, except for the Shiite militias brought over at an earlier stage of the Syrian conflict. The expected Khamenei announcement may change this situation.

ISIS was not waiting. Saturday morning, the group issued a warning to the Syrian rebel forces fighting in the south – the Deraa sector of southern Syria near the meeting point of the Jordanian and Israeli borders and the Quneitra sector opposite the Israeli Golan. They were ordered to break off contact with the US Central Command Forward Jordan-CF-J which is located north of Amman, and the IDF operations command center in northern Israel. Any Syrian rebels remaining in contact with the two command centers would be treated as infidels and liable to the extreme penalty of beheading, the group warned.

The impression of ominous events brewing in the regime was rounded off Friday night by an unusual announcement by the Israeli army spokesman that Iron Dome anti-missile batteries had been deployed around towns and other locations in the south, although no reference was made to any fresh rocket attacks expected from the Gaza Strip. DEBKAfile adds: The first batteries were arrayed Thursday night, June 4, at vulnerable points in southern Israel – from the southernmost Port of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba to the western Port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean.

Relying on the U.S. for security is a mistake

May 21, 2015

Relying on the U.S. for security is a mistake, Al Arabiya News, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, May 21, 2015

(Al Arabiya is based in the United Arab Emirates and is majority-owned by Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center.– DM)

Obama says Iran’s newfound wealth will be used to improve lives rather than end up in the treasure chests of Hezbollah, the Shiite Yemeni Houthis, or other troublemakers under the Iranian wing. Sorry, but to me that smacks of naivety at best, snake oil at worst.

According to a Daily Telegraph investigation, Iran’s Supreme Leader controls “a financial empire” estimated to be worth $95 billion, more than even the grandiose Shah had managed to accumulate. That alone should tell Mr Obama that Iran has no intention of prioritising the needs of its people over its regional mischief makers.

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At a passing glance, President Barack Obama’s meetings with the leaders of the Arab Gulf States have borne fruit in terms of furthering mutual respect and as a building block to closer cooperation. But when one digs beneath the flimflam and the verbal pledges – with the exception of a joint missile defense system and a promise that deliveries of U.S. weapons would be fast-tracked – the recent Camp David Summit delivered few tangible benefits.

Indeed, more than a few commentators have described the meeting as a U.S.-hosted arms bazaar, one that will fill the coffers of American weapons manufacturers with billions of dollars. Plus the P5+1 – Iranian nuclear deal is set to enrich and empower Tehran once economic sanctions are lifted.

Obama says Iran’s newfound wealth will be used to improve lives rather than end up in the treasure chests of Hezbollah, the Shiite Yemeni Houthis, or other troublemakers under the Iranian wing. Sorry, but to me that smacks of naivety at best, snake oil at worst.

According to a Daily Telegraph investigation, Iran’s Supreme Leader controls “a financial empire” estimated to be worth $95 billion, more than even the grandiose Shah had managed to accumulate. That alone should tell Mr Obama that Iran has no intention of prioritising the needs of its people over its regional mischief makers.

Eradicating terrorism

The question is whether the leaders of the GCC countries should rightly feel secure from Iranian aggression now that the U.S. President has promised to come to their defense, militarily if deemed necessary. Naturally, that assessment would be made by the White House, not by the threatened states.

Without a signed and sealed security pact and in light of Obama’s track record of hesitancy in ending regional conflicts or eradicating terrorism, I don’t think so. Are we seriously to believe that the U.S. would declare war on Iran were we to be menaced?

Obama’s rhetoric speaks otherwise when he told the New York Times that internal threats to Gulf States are “bigger than Iran” and, at Camp David, he warned his guests not to “marginalise” Tehran. And even if Obama’s undertaking was rock solid, his term expires in just over 18 months. What happens then?

In any case, while there is nothing wrong with cementing better relations with the U.S., we must not on any account rely on its protection or that of any other world power. Yemen proves that we are able and willing to protect ourselves and our allies and when the proposed Joint Arab Force comes into play, our capabilities will be strengthened. We have no need of guardians or bosses in foreign capitals. We have strong, well equipped armies and air forces. We are not helpless, underage youths pleading to be defended, as characterised by sectors of the media.

Merely a public relations exercise

I would urge GCC heads of state to put Camp David under a microscope to ascertain whether it was a genuine attempt on Obama’s behalf to induce closer ties or merely a public relations exercise to bring Gulf States on board a bad deal rewarding Iran for its hostility, regional interference and its backing of terrorists.

In my opinion, trusting the Obama administration to rein in Iran would be a huge mistake. U.S. engagement with Iran was exactly the legacy Obama was after even before he moved into the Oval Office. And to that end he surrounded himself with pro-Iranian officials, such as Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Deputy Secretary-of-State Bill Burns, who have all been championing détente with Iran for many years.

Obama’s personal adviser and family friend, Valerie Jarrett grew up in Iran, speaks Farsi, and was a main player along with Bill Burns in U.S.-Iranian secret talks to pave the way for official negotiations. The President’s National Security Council Director for Iran, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh is a former employee of the National-Iranian American Council, a pro-Iranian lobbying organisation.

The President’s own behaviour with regards to America’s long-time sworn enemy was suspect since the beginning. He has been sending the Iranians video Nawrus (New Year) messages and letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader. This year, Obama actually celebrated the Persian New Year at home with his wife and daughters.

Just as strange was Obama’s silence concerning Iran’s crackdown on street protests following elections. And if he condemns Tehran for its human rights abuses and lack of civil liberties, he must be whispering. Because all we hear from him is condemnation of predominately Sunni Arab states on those issues.

“The greatest supporter and plotter of terrorism”

Stranger still, while Obama comes across as the ayatollahs’ new best friend, just days ago, the Ayatollah Khamenei attacked the U.S. as “the greatest supporter and plotter of terrorism” and accuses Washington of pursuing its own interests making the region insecure, while branding America as the enemy of both Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Far from committing to stay out of Arab affairs, Khamenei stressed that his country would continue supporting “the oppressed people of Yemen, Bahrain and Palestine in every way possible.”

Are we really going to place our trust in America’s Commander-in-Chief when he claims backing the Free Syrian Army against the Syrian regime partnered with Iran and Hezbollah, even as his Air Force provides air cover to Iran’s Quds Force and pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq’s Anbar province? This rabble with blood-stained hands – officially known as Popular Mobilisation Forces (Al-Shaabi) – has been deployed by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and is directed by the commander of Iran’s Quds Force Qassem Soleimani. What is worse is that Iran is poised to send in ground troops as soon as it receives the go ahead from the government.

And what does Mr Obama say about the shocking news revealed by the Times and other papers to the effect that the government in Baghdad is turning away tens of thousands of desperate Sunni refugees fleeing the city of Ramadi, recaptured by ISIS? Nothing much as far as I can tell! Iraq families with nowhere to go are being treated worse than foreign foes, barred entrance into their own capital city unless they happen to have a local “guarantor.” This is a plan to reduce the Sunni population by sending them into the fray to die; there is no other explanation.

In reality, Saudi Arabia’s towns bordering northern Yemen are under direct threat from Houthis, while Iran, close to being literally under the Iranian boot, constitutes a grave threat to Gulf States. Does the Obama administration plan to wait until the horse has bolted before acting? The Iranian plot to dominate the region is taking shape before our eyes. We are being surrounded. Yet the U.S. president asks us to play nice with the plotters.

Qualitative military edge

The bottom line is we did not get what we asked for. Obama’s commitment to intervene in Syria to stop the regime’s killing spree was off the table along with a joint defense pact on the lines of those the U.S. has with Israel, Japan and South Korea. Moreover, he has turned down the Saudi request to purchase state-of-the-art F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

And we certainly did not get what we need. Most importantly, any final agreement with Iran should be negotiated with the participation of Gulf states and co-signed by our leaders. Such agreement should not be limited to nuclear issues, but should be conditional upon Tehran’s commitment to quit meddling in the affairs of Arab countries, notably Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain whether directly (in the case of Iraq and Syria) or via its armed proxies (Lebanon and Yemen).

We should not trust any other countries but our own. We must not await instructions from the White House on how to pursue our own interests, as it is well-known that U.S. friendship is not proffered without strings. We must proceed with our mission to free Yemen of Houthi rabble, continue with our efforts to destroy ISIS and lend every support to that sector of the Syrian opposition fighting for a democratic, inclusive state – as opposed to terrorist groups that seek to drag Syria back to the Middle Ages.

Lastly, we should insist upon the stringent terms outlined above. And if those terms are not put in writing, the GCC should work to weaken the Iranian regime once and for all, beginning with material support for the oppressed Ahwazi Arab citizens of Iranian-occupied Arabistan – a region Iran now calls Khuzestan, which supplies the country with most of its oil and gas.

I fear that Camp David was a well-timed bluff and its weapons bounty no more than candies to sweeten the pill. I trust and believe that our leaders understand the score and will maintain independent strategies to counteract threats to our very existence. We cannot gamble with tomorrow on the words of one man, even if that man is the U.S. president.

Our region has been burned many times before. If the past is a good predictor of the future, we should recognise that ultimately we must become the masters of our own destiny, which is far too precious to be handed to the safekeeping of fair-weather friends.