Posted tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

Palestinians: Arab Rulers are Traitors, Cowards

December 14, 2017

Palestinians: Arab Rulers are Traitors, Cowards, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, December 14, 2017

Almost every Palestinian protester interviewed in the past few days about the Trump announcement spoke also of the “weakness” and “cowardice” of the Arab and Islamic heads of state.

Welcome to the Palestinian mindset, where an Arab leader who talks about peace with Israel is a traitor, while an Arab leader who talks about destroying Israel or launching rockets at it, like Saddam Hussein, is a “hero.”

Meanwhile, it seems that the Palestinians are disgusted not only with the Arab leaders, but also with their own president, Abbas. A Palestinian public opinion poll published this week showed that 70% of the Palestinians want Abbas to resign. Three months ago, 67% of the Palestinians interviewed for another poll said they wanted Abbas to resign. The latest poll found that Palestinians favor more hardline leaders such as Fatah’s imprisoned leader, Marwan Barghouti, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

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The decision to boycott a visit later this month by US Vice President Mike Pence comes in the context of absorbing the anger of the street. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have also made it clear that they no longer consider the Trump administration an “honest” and “unbiased” broker in any peace process with Israel. As such, the Palestinian Authority leadership announced that it will reject any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration, even if the plan gains the support of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The Palestinian strategy now is to work hard to thwart any peace plan coming from the Trump administration. The Palestinians are convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Arab leaders are cooking up a new “conspiracy” behind their backs — with the aim of “liquidating” the Palestinian cause by imposing an acceptable solution on them. This, of course, has nothing to do with Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem. This has been the Palestinian position even before Trump made his announcement, and it is unlikely to change after.

The question now is: How will the Arab regimes respond to this latest charge of fratricide leveled against them by their Palestinian brothers?

Once again, the Palestinians are disappointed with their Arab brothers.

A declaration of war on the US, in the Palestinians’ view, would have been the appropriate response to US President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

For the Palestinians, the anti-US demonstrations that took place in some Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Iraq and Lebanon were a welcome development.

But the protests have evidently failed to satisfy the appetite of the Palestinians, who were banking on the Arab heads of state and governments to take more drastic measures against the US.

The Palestinians are not expecting the Arab and Islamic armies to march on the White House or bomb New York and Los Angeles.

All they have gotten so far from the Arab and Islamic leaders and governments are demonstrations on the streets and statements of condemnations. Moreover, it does not look as if the Palestinians should be expecting more from their Arab and Muslim brothers.

The sense of let-down on the Palestinians’ part is large: the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are rising with chants labeling the Arab and Muslim leaders and regimes as “traitors” and “puppets” in the hands of Israel and the US.

Almost every Palestinian protester interviewed in the past few days about the Trump announcement spoke also of the “weakness” and “cowardice” of the Arab and Islamic heads of state.

Welcome to the Palestinian mindset, where an Arab leader who talks about peace with Israel is a traitor, while an Arab leader who talks about destroying Israel or launching rockets at it, like Saddam Hussein, is a “hero.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is rumored to be working with the Trump administration on a new peace plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is being dubbed a “traitor” and “collaborator” by many Palestinians. Likewise, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi is being accused by many Palestinians of being too soft on Israel and the US and in collusion with the Trump administration.

Hassan Nasrallah, on the other hand, the secretary-general of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, who has called for a new intifada against Israel, is being hailed as a “hero.” So are his Iranian masters.

A Bahraini Interfaith group that visited Israel with a message of peace and conciliation was met with Palestinian anger. The Palestinians accused the Bahraini delegation of promoting “normalization with the Zionist entity.”

When Palestinians heard that the members of the Bahraini group might visit the Gaza Strip, they waited for them with eggs and shoes to throw at them at the entrance to the Gaza Strip. The Bahraini delegates later denied that they had planned a visit to the Gaza Strip. However, this did not stop Palestinian protesters from condemning the Bahrainis.

Echoing the embitterment towards the Arab “impotence” and “weak” response to Trump’s announcement, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said that statements issued by governments and leaders were inadequate in the extreme. In a message to the Arab Parliament, Abbas expressed disappointment that the Arab and Islamic countries did not take tougher measures in response to Trump’s announcement.

For Abbas, the condemnations alone were “meaningless”. At a minimum, he stated, the Palestinians were expecting that Arabs and Muslims would throw the US ambassadors out of their countries, shut down US embassies, cut off their diplomatic relations with the US, or boycott US officials and delegations and goods.

“Rejecting or saying that the [Trump] decision is null and void is insufficient,” Abbas said. “We expect a series of measures and steps that would rise to the level of the event.”

The reaction of the Palestinian street to the Arab and Islamic “apathy” has been even stronger, especially after the meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo to discuss the Trump announcement.

“As far as I’m concerned, all the Arabs are not worth two shekels,” commented a Palestinian interviewed in Ramallah.” Another Palestinian remarked: “There are no Arabs or Muslims left.” A third Palestinians said, “I find it strange that there are still some Arabs who expect anything good to come out of the Arab league. When will the Arabs wake up?”

“Anyone who expects the weary Arab regimes to defend Jerusalem is living under an illusion,” said Palestinian political analyst Mohammed Ismail Yassin. “All one should expect from these regimes is more failure. The Arab regimes are busy shedding the blood of their people.”

Meanwhile, it seems that the Palestinians are disgusted not only with the Arab leaders, but also with their own president, Abbas. A Palestinian public opinion poll published this week showed that 70% of the Palestinians want Abbas to resign. Three months ago, 67% of the Palestinians interviewed for another poll said they wanted Abbas to resign. The latest poll found that Palestinians favor more hardline leaders such as Fatah’s imprisoned leader, Marwan Barghouti, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

The Palestinians are fed up with Abbas because, among other things, they believe he is not being tough enough with Israel. Many would like to see Abbas cancel the Oslo Accords with Israel and openly endorse the “armed struggle.” They also want him to halt security coordination with Israel. In an attempt to appease the Palestinian street, Abbas and his top officials have resorted to inflammatory rhetoric against Israel and the Trump administration.

The decision to boycott a visit this month by US Vice President Mike Pence comes in the context of absorbing the anger of the street. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have also made it clear that they no longer consider the Trump administration an “honest” and “unbiased” broker in any peace process with Israel. As such, the Palestinian Authority leadership announced that it will reject any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration, even if the plan gains the support of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have made it clear that they will reject any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration. Pictured: Abbas speaks during the U.N. General Assembly on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

The Palestinian strategy now is to work hard to thwart any peace plan coming from the Trump administration. The Palestinians are convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Arab leaders are cooking up a new “conspiracy” behind their backs — with the aim of “liquidating” the Palestinian cause by imposing an acceptable solution on them. This, of course, has nothing to do with Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem. This has been the Palestinian position even before Trump made his announcement, and it is unlikely to change after.

The Palestinians have placed themselves on a collision course not only with the US, but also with the Arab world. The question now is: How will the Arab regimes respond to this latest charge of fratricide leveled against them by their Palestinian brothers?

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

More Middle East changes

November 23, 2017

More Middle East changes | Anne’s Opinions, 23rd November 2017
In some good news related to my previous post, the Trump administration has threatened to close down the PLO offices in Washington in retaliation for the PA attempting to bring Israelis to the International Criminal Court:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday night expressed its surprise over threats by the United States to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration had put the PLO on notice that it will shutter their office in Washington unless they entered serious peace talks with Israel.

According to AP, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

A State Department official said that in September, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.

The law now gives President Donald Trump 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If Trump determines they are, the Palestinians can keep the office. An official told AP it was unclear whether the U.S. might close the office before the 90-day period expires, but said the mission remains open at least for now.

The Palestinians then threatened to cut their ties to Washington (a bonus as far as Israel is concerned):

“The State Department notified us in an official letter that they cannot certify the continued opening of the PLO office in Washington, DC, due to the fact that we are pursuing the ICC,” Erekat told Israeli public broadcaster Kan.

“We responded to them in an official letter that in case they officially close the office of the PLO in Washington, DC, we will put on hold all communications with this American administration,” he added.

Watch Saeb Erekat’s statement here:

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said on Saturday night the surprise stems from the fact that the meetings between Abbas and Trump were characterized by a full understanding of the steps necessary to create an atmosphere that would allow the resumption of the peace process.

He said that the American threat represented an unprecedented step in the history of U.S.-Palestinian relations and could have dangerous implications for the peace process and the relations between the United States and Arab countries.

Reports of the threat to shut down the PLO mission in Washington came several days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Taylor Force Act.

The bill, named for U.S. army veteran Taylor Force, who was murdered in a terrorist stabbing attack in Tel Aviv in March, 2016, would cut funding to the PA unless it stopped its payments to terrorists and their families.

All I can say is it’s about time that someone finally held the PLO and the PA to account for their support of terrorism and for scuppering the peace talks with Israel every step of the way.

Bassam Tawil, a Middle East-based Muslim, explains in the Gatestone Institute why the Palestinians will not accede to any demands made upon them by Trump or any other American administration:

  • The Palestinians have made up their mind: The Trump peace plan is bad for us and we will not accept it. The plan is bad because it does not force Israel to give the Palestinians everything.
  • If and when the Trump administration makes public its peace plan, the Palestinians will be the first to reject it, simply because it does not meet all their demands.
  • Trump will soon learn that for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, 99% is just not enough.

Caroline Glick talks about holding the State Department to account as an extension of the threat to close the PLO mission:

Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.

And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”

Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.

In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

With this in mind it is nothing short of astonishing that the following video appeared, in which Kuwaiti writer strongly defended Israel, calling it a legitimate state, not an occupier:

I think we should ask Mr. Al-Hadlaq to provide some urgently-needed background information to the State Department! Kol hakavod to him. I hope he stays safe.

Along with the daring fatwa of Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh condemning Hamas as another terror organization and forbidding fighting against Israel , is this another harbinger of better times ahead for Israel in the Middle East? I hope I’m not being too optimistic in hoping so. There have been too many of these talks, statements, interviews and fatwas to think there is not a sea-change starting to occur in the Arab world. Let us just pray it continues.

Israel and Saudi Arabia: a desert mirage or a new alliance?

November 21, 2017

Israel and Saudi Arabia: a desert mirage or a new alliance? | Anne’s Opinions, 21st November 2017

In the crazy world of Middle East wars, politics and shifting alliances, it is hardly surprising that relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia are warming up from their deep freeze. In fact this is an alliance (“friendship” is too strong a word to use) that has been revving in the background for quite some time, ever since the rise of ISIS and more importantly, the tailwind given to Iran by our “friends” in the Obama administration and their European allies through the JCPOA, aka the Iran nuclear deal.

In the interim there has been some political upheaval in the kingdom, with princes and heirs to the throne being replaced at an eye-watering pace. The newest heir to the throne is determined to drag the medieval country into the 21st century, by whatever means:

(CNN)Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman, first in line to inherit the throne from his 81-year-old father, is not a patient man. The 32-year-old is driving a frenetic pace of change in pursuit of three goals: securing his hold on power, transforming Saudi Arabia into a very different country, and pushing back against Iran.

Mohammed Bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

In the two years since his father ascended the throne, this favorite son of King Salman bin Abdulaziz has been spectacularly successful at achieving the first item on his agenda. He has become so powerful so fast that observers can hardly believe how brazenly he is dismantling the old sedate system of family consensus, shared privilege and rigid ultraconservatism.
In the process, however, MBS, as the crown prince is known, is making a lot of enemies.
Much of the prince’s agenda is laudable and long overdue. He has no interest in democratic reforms, but he does want to introduce social reforms, and is making some progress on that front. That, too, is making him enemies among the old guard.
He has vowed to improve the status of women, announcing that the ban on women driving will be lifted next year, and limiting the scope of the execrable “guardianship” system, which treats women like children, requiring permission from male guardians for basic activities. He has also restrained the despised religious police. And just last month he called for a return to a “moderate Islam open to the world and all religions,” combating extremism and empowering its citizens.
On the economic front, bin Salman wants to reinvent an economy that became complacent from fantastic oil riches — only to see oil prices crash — and bring it into the 21st century with his ambitious Vision 2030 plan.
But the prince’s revolutionary changes require, above all, making sure he remains in charge, and he is letting nothing stand in his way.

The prince is not bluffing. That became startlingly clear last Sunday, when he unexpectedly ordered the arrest of some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful men.

Read it all, it makes for a thrilling read, even though this is not fiction but real life with very real and dangerous potential consequences if it fails.

Meanwhile, the latest pronouncements and actions emanating from Saudi Arabia give us pause for a cautious hope, though with each country having an influence on the next, there is always the danger of a domino effect, or maybe we should call it the dangers of unforeseen consequences.

The Saudis called on Hezbollah to disarm, threatening to oust it from Lebanon:

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Thursday called on the Hezbollah terrorist organization to disarm, warning the group that regional efforts were underway to oust them from the Lebanese government.

At a press conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, al-Jubeir denounced Hezbollah as “a tool of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards” and “a first-class terrorist organization used by Iran to destabilize Lebanon and the region.”

Saad Hariri, (former?) PM of Lebanon

“Hezbollah has kidnapped the Lebanese system,” he said.

Al-Jubeir added that “consultations and coordination between peace-loving countries and Lebanon-loving countries are underway to try to find a way that would restore sovereignty to Lebanon and reduce the negative action which Hezbollah is conducting in Lebanon.”

The minister’s remarks came as the kingdom rejected accusations that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was being detained in Riyadh following his shock resignation earlier this month.

In response Hezbollah raised the alert across Lebanon, which further complicates matters for Israel:

The Hezbollah terror group has raised its alert status across Lebanon, fearing threat of attack by Israel and other nations, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported Saturday.

The news came amid a political crisis between Beirut and Saudi Arabia, sparked by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s surprise resignation. Hariri cited Iran and Hezbollah’s meddling in the region as the reason he was stepping down. The November 4 resignation broadcast from the Saudi capital is widely believed to have been engineered by the Gulf kingdom.

The Kuwaiti paper further reported that Hezbollah leaders have instructed a halt to arms shipments sent to the group from Iran through war-torn Syria.

Israel is widely believed to have carried out airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as Hezbollah positions, though it rarely officially confirms such attacks.

In August a former air force chief said Israel carried out dozens of airstrikes on weapons convoys destined for the Lebanese terror group over the past five years.

Al-Jubeir warned Friday that there will be no stability in Lebanon unless Hezbollah disarms.

The resignation of Saudi-aligned Hariri has thrown Lebanon into turmoil and raised concerns that the country could be dragged into a battle for regional supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Indeed Israel has been watching Syria’s actions carefully and taking defensive action where necessary. On Sunday the IDF fired on Syrian targets fortifying positions near the demilitarized zone Golan heights:

The IDF fired upon Syrian army positions Sunday evening near the Israeli border in the Golan Heights on Sunday, the IDF spokesperson’s office reported.

IDF in a military exercise near the Syrian border

Syrian forces had been working to fortify a military outpost in the buffer zone, in violation of ceasefire agreements, and an IDF tank fired deterring shots in response.

A similar incident occurred on Saturday, when an IDF tank fired a warning shell near Syrian forces after identifying a Syrian army-built outpost in the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel, similarly contrary to ceasefire agreements.

According to the IDF, the outpost was located close to the Druse village of Hader on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights.

Earlier this month, following intense fighting in the village, the IDF said it was willing to provide assistance and prevent the capture of the Druse village by anti-regime forces.

Meanwhile Israel is continuing its humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees. For the first time ever, the IDF permitted Israeli TV Channel 2 News to film the crossing of some refugees, and one Syrian mother of a sick child said “All Syrians want to come to Israel” – a mind-boggling statement considering that Israel and Syria have been deadly enemies since Israel’s establishment and even before:

Extraordinary footage showing Syrian mothers crossing into Israel with their sick children for medical care was broadcast by Israel’s Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) on Sunday after the Israel Defense Force (IDF) permitted the channel to film for the first time operations part of its ongoing policy of providing care for civilians and select combatants injured in the country’s raging civil war.

In interviews accompanying the footage, several Syrian mothers expressed deep gratitude to Israel for providing medical assistance and said that many Syrians living near the border no longer view Israel as the enemy, while another said that “all Syrians” would come to Israel if given the opportunity.

“Israel was thought of as the enemy… Now that you are helping us, most [on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights] are with you. They love Israel. They see the true face… the reality,” one mother said.

Another added that the real enemies are “Islamic State, Hezbollah, Bashar [Assad]. They’re all the same.”

“I wish we could stay here for good,” another interviewee told the reporter. “I’d be the first to cross [if the border were open]” she said, adding that “all of Syria would follow me. All the civilians left in Syria would come.”

Read their heart-breaking stories of abuse, murder, executions and more at the hands of the various Syrian factions and the regime.

Watch the video below:

With this in mind, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman called on the Arab nations to make peace with Israel and confront Iran:

“After Daesh, Iran,” Liberman tweeted on Saturday, referring to the Islamic State by its Arabic name. “[Late Egyptian President] Anwar Sadat was a brave leader, who went against the stream and paved the way for other Arab leaders to recognize the importance of strategic ties with Israel.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman looking through binoculars during a visit to the Israel’s northern border, November 14, 2017. Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

“40 years after his historic visit to Israel, I call on leaders in the region to follow the path of President Sadat, come to Jerusalem and open a new chapter, not just in terms of Israel’s relations with the Arab world, but for the whole region,” Liberman wrote.

Sadat famously flew to Jerusalem ahead of signing the Camp David peace deal with Israel, the first Arab leader to do so. Sadat was later assassinated for his actions.

“The Middle East today needs, more than anything else, a coalition of moderate states against Iran. The coalition against Daesh has finished its work, after Daesh, Iran,” Liberman wrote in remarks that appeared to be directed in part at Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has in recent days stepped up its efforts to counteract Iran and its proxies in Yemen, and the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

All these shifting alliances hold great potential benefit for Israel, especially Saudi Arabia’s turnabout, but Melanie Phillips wonders if it is all too good to be true:

According to the Turkish Anadolu news agency, reported here, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, has issued a quite remarkable religious ruling. Answering a question on TV about the Palestinian Arab riots over Temple Mount last July, he didn’t merely denounce Hamas as a “terror organisation”.

Much more significantly he actually issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, forbidding war against the Jews; and he said that fighting against Israel was inappropriate.

How can this be anything other than highly significant?

With a religious fatwa coming on the heels of a Saudi realignment as well as their internal political upheaval, it is probably good news – we will just have to be patient, to wait and see:

We can all obviously see the politics behind this. Saudi Arabia is in the fight of its life with Iran, to which end it has forged tacit and not-so-tacit alliances with Israel as well as the US. The new, reformist Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has not only supported this alliance with Israel but, more remarkably, has said that now is the time for the kingdom to get rid of Wahhabi extremism and revert to “what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions”.

… the fact that the Prince made such a statement about now getting rid of extremism, in public, followed by this fatwa from the Grand Mufti, in public, surely suggests that the tectonic plates might just be beginning to shift within the heartland of Sunni fundamentalism.

Too good to be true? Just more smoke and mirrors? Of no more significance than a temporary alliance of expediency? Maybe. Nevertheless, a religious statement goes beyond politics. Neither the Prince nor the Grand Mufti needed to open up the religious issue in public at all. Watch this space, eh.

I’m sure the Israeli authorities are proceeding with caution. כבדהו וחשדהו is what they say in Hebrew: Literally: respect him and suspect him. Verify and justify.

Iran threatens to hit Saudi, Abu Dhabi and Dubai air and sea ports, ships more missiles to Yemeni Houthis

November 8, 2017

Iran threatens to hit Saudi, Abu Dhabi and Dubai air and sea ports, ships more missiles to Yemeni Houthis, DEBKAfile, November 8, 2017

Our sources also report that Iranian experts have managed of late to lengthen the range of the ballistic missiles shipped to Yemen. The Burkan 2H, which Yemeni Houthis aimed at Riyadh airport last Saturday, Nov. 4 – and was intercepted – had a range of 1,000km.  The latest model of this missile has an extended range of between 1,500 and 1,600km. But it remains to be seen if Tehran is also providing the Houthis with the high-precision missiles delivered to the Lebanese Hizballah.

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Military tensions rise in the Gulf region amid Iranian threats and supplies of extended-range missiles to the Yemeni insurgents.

Tehran has warned Riyadh that unless the Saudi blockade of Yemeni ports is lifted, Revolutionary Guards missiles supplied to the Yemeni Houthi insurgents will be loosed against the seaports and airfields of Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The warning was forwarded to their governments through the Omani back channel.

The Iranians informed Riyadh that by cutting off Yemen’s lifeline, the oil kingdom exposed itself and its allies to retaliation in kind.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources add that, to give their warning sharp teeth, the Revolutionary Guards have been pumping fresh supplies of new surface missiles to Yemen by sea. Although the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates maintain fleets in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea routes of access around Yemen, none ran interference to the missile shipments. Such action would entail halting the Iranian freighters and confronting the missile-armed Iranian warships and submarines escorting them.

Our sources also report that Iranian experts have managed of late to lengthen the range of the ballistic missiles shipped to Yemen. The Burkan 2H, which Yemeni Houthis aimed at Riyadh airport last Saturday, Nov. 4 – and was intercepted – had a range of 1,000km.  The latest model of this missile has an extended range of between 1,500 and 1,600km. But it remains to be seen if Tehran is also providing the Houthis with the high-precision missiles delivered to the Lebanese Hizballah.

In an interview on Sunday, Nov. 6, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir charged that Hizballah officers posted to Yemen had actually fired the Burkan missile at Riyadh airport from northern Yemen. The Saudis have not disclosed details on how and at what point it was intercepted.

Within range of the extended-range missiles are the UAE’s Khalifa Port, Zayed Port and Mirfa Port, the backbone of the emirate’s free trade zone and the main source of its prosperous economy. With the rising military tension in the Gulf region in the last few days, air defense missile batteries have been deployed at those ports and the UAE air force, one of the largest in the Gulf, placed on high alert.

Saudi minister says he has ‘confirmed information’ on plot to kill Hariri

November 5, 2017

Saudi minister says he has ‘confirmed information’ on plot to kill Hariri, Al Arabiya, November 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan (L) was speaking about Lebanon’s Hariri. (Supplied/Reuters)

Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Affairs Minister Thamer al-Sabhan said the personal security detail of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who resigned on Saturday, had “confirmed information” of a plot to kill him.

Speaking in an interview on Future, an Arabic television channel owned by Hariri, he said Hariri was in Riyadh, adding there were “security threats to the prime minister and the kingdom is keen on his safety.”

He added that Hariri resigned from Riyadh for security reasons.

“Saudi Arabia is different than the terrorist state Iran. We respect Lebanese parties despite their different opinions,” Sabhan added.

Speaking to the Lebanese television channel LBC, Sabhan said Hariri is completely free to return to Lebanon, adding, however: “We do not want explosions and destruction to happen again in the Hariri family.”

Sabhan also said that Saudi Arabia supported all of Hariri’s stances in the past, including the agreement related to choosing a Lebanese president, adding that the Saudi kingdom did not incite Hariri to resign.

“We cannot but be sad over Lebanon’s situation due to Hezbollah. We call for peace but those who try to (harm) the kingdom will find what they do not wish for,” he added.

“Hezbollah is a militia that tried to transfer Syrian battles to Lebanon and to harm Lebanon and Arab countries,” Sabhan also said, asking: “What’s the difference between Hezbollah and ISIS?”

Saudi Arabia intercepts ballistic missile over capital

November 4, 2017

Saudi Arabia intercepts ballistic missile over capital, CNN, November 4, 2017

Yemen’s air force targeted King Khalid International Airport in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Saturday with a ballistic missile, according to Yemen’s Houthi-controlled Defense Ministry.

But the missile was intercepted over northeast Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement carried on Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said the missile attack “shook the Saudi capital” and the operation was successful. It also said the attack was conducted using a Yemeni-made, long-range ballistic missile called the Burqan 2H.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of states against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who toppled Yemen’s internationally recognized government in 2015.

The missile attack represents the first time the heart of the Saudi capital has been attacked.

“We previously warned that capitals of countries attacking Yemen will not be safe from our ballistic missiles,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed AbdulSalam said. “Today’s missile attack comes in response to Saudi killing innocent Yemeni civilians.”

The Riyadh airport tweeted that it hadn’t been affected.

“Travelers across King Khalid international airport in Riyadh, we assure you that the movement is going on as normal and usual, and trips going according to time,” the airport said in Twitter.

CNN’s Bijan Hosseini contributed to this report.

Saudi University Dismissing Muslim Brotherhood-Linked Academics

September 29, 2017

Saudi University Dismissing Muslim Brotherhood-Linked Academics, Center for Security PolicyJulia Sora, September 28, 2017

A university in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is dismissing academics who are believed to have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The university reportedly found evidence that a number of Saudi and foreign academics were linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.  The removal of these academics is an attempt to protect The Saudi educational system from Brotherhood influence.

In the past two weeks, Saudi authorities have allegedly arrested over 30 clerics and intellectuals in an attempt to crack down on dissent. The State Security Presidency arrested these clerics and intellectuals after monitoring their activities in the belief that they were acting for the benefit of foreign parties against the kingdom.

Three prominent clerics who were arrested were Salman al-Ouda, Aidh al-Qarni, and Ali al-Omary. Al-Qarni has advocated jihad in the past and has been described as influential among al-Qaeda followers.

Salman al-Ouda was jailed in the 1990s in Saudi Arabia for radicalism and his association with Osama Bin Laden. Al-Ouda has been a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood and also a founding member of the Global Anti-Aggression Campaign which is a coalition of Salafi, Salafi-Jihadi, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas leaders.

In the 1950s, Saudi Arabia was a shelter for thousands of Brotherhood activists facing repression in Egypt, Syria and other countries. The Brotherhood soon became engrained both in Saudi society and in the Saudi state.

When Brotherhood activists fled to Saudi Arabia, many were given positions in Saudi schools by Saudi leaders who were sympathetic to their cause. The Muslim Brotherhood’s doctrine of education focuses on indoctrinating activists whose manners, way of thinking and sense of duty were aligned with the Brotherhood’s objectives.

In 2015, Saudi schools removed about 80 religious books including books written by Muslim Brotherhood ideologues Hassan Al Banna, Yousuf Al Qaradawi and Sayyed Qutb. Hassan Al Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and Sayyed Qutb was a leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s.

Saudi Islamist movements, specifically the Sahwa (Awakening), grew in Saudi Arabia. The relationship between the Sahwa and the regime was harmonious in the beginning until the 1980s when the Sahwa began criticizing the regime’s policies.

In the 1990s the Sahwa movement attempted a political reform campaign which led to a strain on the relationship, with the regime expelling several Brotherhood members. In the early 2000s, the relationship improved, allowing the Sahwa back into religious and social aspects in the country as long as they avoided criticism of the government. The Arab Spring encouraged the Sahwa to attempt political reform again but they were unsuccessful.

In February 2014, a royal decree was created to punish any person who was involved in, supported, or promoted a terrorist group. A month later, Saudi Arabia named the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The Saudi kingdom fears the Brotherhood seeks to topple the Saudi regime and has tried to build support inside the kingdom since the Arab Spring.

In June, Saudi Arabia was one of 5 countries to cut ties with Qatar over alleged efforts to undermine the stability of the Gulf States through Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and a variety of designated terrorist groups.

Academics have the capacity to exert great influence over students and are also capable of recruiting some students to support the Brotherhood’s efforts across communities throughout the Middle East and Africa. It remains difficult to determine the full extent of the effort by Saudi authorities to expel Brotherhood-linked academics from institutions in Saudi Arabia because it is unclear how many academics were expelled, and how many may remain.