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Is The End Of The Brutal War In Yemen Finally At Hand?

The key to Yemen peace…

The Duran

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Authored by Gareth Porter via TruthDig.com:


When the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, it is expected to pass a House resolution upholding congressional war powers and ending all direct U.S. involvement in the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen. But hopes remain high that H. Con. Res. 138 will help to end the Yemen war itself. Congressional strategists and activists who have been working on the issue believe passage of the war powers measure will force Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the negotiating table.

Together, they are challenging the position of some former Obama administration officials who have warned the war powers resolution alone cannot bring the conflict to a close. Those former officials, led by Brookings Institution fellow Bruce Riedel, say that cutting off the Saudi pipeline of spare parts is the only way to prevent further airstrikes, which have been central to the Saudi war strategy.

Proponents of the war powers resolution, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, argue the Saudis will not be able to continue the war without the political-diplomatic support of the United States, and the Yemen resolution will make dramatically clear the Saudis can no longer count on U.S. support. How the Senate came to pass a version of the Yemen resolution, co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and ratified in December by a vote of 56 to 41, would appear to lend support to their argument.

The Khashoggi Effect

Until 2018, the Obama and Trump administrations had successfully avoided any congressional move to block U.S. support of the Saudi-Emirati bombing of civilian targets in Yemen, or the country’s air and naval blockade. That success was possible, at least in part, because the U.S. media largely ignored the mass starvation of the Yemeni people and unprecedented cholera epidemic these acts of aggression had wrought.

The media also failed to report on the United States’ direct role in that conflict.  From mid-2017 to mid-2018, MSNBC ran only a single story that mentioned the United States’ in-flight refueling of Saudi planes and its provision of intelligence for Yemeni bombing targets.

Nevertheless, some key members of Congress were well informed about the United States’ complicity in the Saudi coalition’s crimes. As early as March 2018, when Sens. Sanders and Lee first introduced the Yemen war powers resolution, a head count by the office of co-sponsor Chris Murphy indicated it would pass the Senate with a narrow majority.

Several of those votes were lost in May to legislation by Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., which required the secretary of state to “certify” that Saudi Arabia was making efforts to end the war, increase access to humanitarian goods and “reduce harm to civilians.”

But this fall, a tragic event and dramatic revelations created new impetus for a Yemen war powers resolution: Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and hard evidence emerged that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government had ordered his murder and dismemberment over his critical coverage. The political impact of that story can hardly be exaggerated.  Whereas before the media had been reluctant to report on the war, they were suddenly eager to document its myriad atrocities, including the ongoing starvation of Yemeni children.

The pressure on President Donald Trump to abandon his unflinching support of the Saudi regime intensified. Administration officials knew full well the Saudi coalition was already planning to capture the key Yemeni port of Hodeida—the country’s lifeline for food imports and humanitarian goods. That assault was scheduled to begin on Nov. 3, and it would have further weakened the administration’s case against a war powers resolution if one were brought to the Senate floor. The administration also knew by late October that Democrats likely would be taking control of the House of Representatives, where Republican leadership had successfully employed legislative tactics to prevent even a congressional debate on the Saudi-led war efforts.

The Administration Adjusts Its Yemen Policy

Between Kushner’s personal ties to Crown Prince Mohammed and the lure of tens of billions of dollars in arms sales, the Trump administration remained wedded to the Saudi regime. But it was now forced to make adjustments in its policy to try to shore up the collapsing congressional support for the war. So Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a call on Oct.  30 for a cease-fire in Yemen and peace negotiations within 30 days.

A careful reading of Pompeo’s statement, however, reveals two key giveaways to the Saudi regime: It did not require the Saudis to halt their bombing until after the Houthis had halted missile strikes on Saudi and United Arab Emirates targets, and the Saudi coalition was only required to cease bombing “populated areas,” evidently leaving it free to hit targets outside urban concentrations.

There would be more to come. After discussions with the Trump administration, the Saudi government officially requested on Nov. 9 that the U.S. end the refueling of the coalition’s aircraft for its Yemen operations. The Saudi statement said the coalition had “increased its capability to independently conduct in-flight refueling in Yemen,” and had therefore requested, “in consultation with the United States,” the “cessation of in-flight refueling support.”

Experts maintained the Trump administration had compelled the Saudis and their UAE allies to accept less capability—especially as it pertained to longer-range strikes by UAE aircraft—for domestic U.S. political reasons.  Former National Security Council official Riedel, for one, commented that giving up U.S. refueling would make it harder for the Saudi coalition to “carry out strikes deep into Yemeni territory.”

All that elaborate maneuvering with the Saudis failed to influence the Senate, which voted, 63-37, in November to advance the Yemen war powers joint resolution. Prior to that vote, Pompeo and Mattis had briefed the Senate in an attempt to tamp down anger over the Khashoggi murder, attempting to sell the idea that American interests required U.S. support for the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen. But senators who attended the briefing told reporters their arguments—especially regarding the crown prince and Khashoggi—had not been credible. If anything, Pompeo and Mattis had strengthened their determination to support the resolution.

In December, seven Republicans joined 49 Democrats in approving the Sanders-Lee resolution, 56-41, in a major rebuff to the entire foreign policy establishment. That vote was followed moments later with the unanimous approval of a separate resolution condemning the Saudi crown prince by name for Khashoggi’s grisly murder.

In a clear indication the Trump administration aimed to hold the line against a Yemen resolution, the Saudi coalition abruptly halted the Hodeida offensive it had begun 12 days earlier, almost certainly under U.S. pressure. The Saudis also agreed to participate in U.N.-brokered “consultation” that began in Sweden on Dec. 6 led by the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

Even before the conference had officially begun, Griffiths negotiated a swap of  2,000 to 3,000 prisoners held by the two sides. And on Dec. 13, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeida, where the fighting had been concentrated, although it soon broke down with mutual recriminations.

The Key to Yemen Peace?

The Trump administration’s official position, based on the notion that “limited support to member countries of the Emirati and Saudi-led coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics, and, until recently, aerial refueling” did not constitute being “engaged in hostilities,” was that the resolution had no legal effect. But the activists and congressional staff who worked on the resolution are convinced that the administration’s frantic efforts to prevent its passage reveal just how powerful it will prove.

One Democratic congressional strategist involved in promoting the resolution acknowledged as much in an interview with Truthdig. “At the same time the Pentagon and the Trump administration were saying it would have no impact, they were scrambling to change the facts on the ground by unilaterally suspending air refueling,” the strategist said.

The strategist also admitted this “first assertion of war authorities by Congress” would “force the administration to retreat, and when the U.S. is no longer the steadfast patron of the Saudi coalition campaign, the Saudi coalition will be compelled to seek an urgent and immediate peace settlement.”

Robert Naiman, policy director at Just Foreign Policy, an activist membership organization that has been working to support the eventual passage of the Yemen resolution in both houses of Congress, agrees the resolution is bound to push the Saudis toward ending the war.  “I’ve always believed any kind of congressional vote that says no in a toothy way like the war powers resolution would be enough to force the administration and the Saudis to change policy,” he told Truthdig.

Naiman called the administration’s gambit to head off passage of the resolution “a political signal the whole world sees.” He said he believes “the political-diplomatic signal is even more important than direct military participation.”

The war’s swift conclusion appears all but inevitable. While Crown Prince Mohammed may be committed to final victory, the Saudi regime remains heavily dependent on U.S. political-diplomatic cover, as it has since the beginning of the bombing campaign in Yemen. Ironically, that political reality could now tip the balance toward peace.

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Shaun RameweVera Gottlieb Recent comment authors
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Vera Gottlieb

For the sake of all the suffering children…let us hope so.

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

I doubt it – remember the evil cowardly greedy axis USA-UK-France-Israel-and-SaudiArabia can never ever be trusted.

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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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