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Russia’s Sanaa pullout is a sharp rebuke to the Houthis

There has yet to be a clearer indication of Russia’s opposition to the Houthis than Moscow’s diplomatic withdrawal from Sanaa following the group’s assassination of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Andrew Korybko

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Negating The Narrative

Right off the bat, any reader who frequents the Alt-Media Community needs to leave aside what they think they know about Russia’s policy towards Yemen before continuing with this article. There have been several misleading but “politically correct” narratives spreading through this information space since the beginning of the 2014 War on Yemen, one of which is the very nature of this conflict itself. The prevailing notion is that it’s an international war, which is true in some regards, but overlooks the civil war dynamics that drove it in the first place. More specifically, this is the regional conflict between the Houthis and President Hadi in what was previously known as North Yemen, and then the overspill of this conflict into the former territory of South Yemen after the Houthis captured Aden. It was only then, when the rest of the country was on the verge of coming under the Houthis’ control, that the Saudi-led coalition intervened and began its merciless bombing campaign and naval blockade of Yemen.

The War on Yemen is thus a multidimensional conflict with both domestic and international components, and this should have been clear to all objective observers from the outset.

Nevertheless, there is a strong disposition in the Alt-Media Community to take narrative cues – both stated and implied – from Iran when formulating analytical angles in addressing events such as this one, and it’s for that reason why the myth has pervaded that the Houthis are a National Liberation Movement for all of Yemen. It’s indeed true that they function in this regard when it comes to the old realm of North Yemen, but they’re distinctly seen as invaders by many of the people in South Yemen. The author himself, prior to learning more about the deeper nuances of this conflict, was admittedly under a similar spell in only seeing the short-term and subjective “positives” of the movement, but the passing of time and intense research has revealed that the Houthis aren’t the “picture perfect” National Liberation Movement that they’re made out to be by Iran and its friendly supporters in the Alt-Media Community. As a case in point, the Houthis slayed Saleh and showed the world that they won’t accept a “compromised” peace agreement with the coalition.

Haunted By The Houthis

The assassination of the former Yemeni President removed any hope for state-level “international legitimacy” that the Houthis could have ever dreamed to receive from Russia, and with this militia now fully in control of the capital after carrying out its “deep state” coup against its former General People’s Congress (GPC) allies (to be fair, they claim it was in response to them “backstabbing” the Houthis first), it’s understandable why Moscow wouldn’t consider this as a safe environment for its diplomats. Just like ousted President Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia, so too are the Russian diplomats going there as well, at least until the situation stabilizes, which might imply the Houthis reaching a real power-sharing agreement with Saleh’s GPC or another group as opposed to essentially sidelining the former after their leader was killed off. Also, it might have escaped the notice of most Alt-Media readers, but Russia has always continued to recognize Hadi as Yemen’s legitimate President, and recently signed an arms deal with coalition leader Saudi Arabia that included grenade launchers and heavy flame systems that could eventually see battlefield use in Yemen.

However, for as much as Russia has remained pro-Hadi, it hasn’t been anti-Houthi either. Russia did, in fact, retain a diplomatic presence in Sanaa despite the forces of what Moscow officially considers to be the country’s legitimate president not being in control of the capital. That, though, was during the time that Saleh was still alive and his GPC was in an actual alliance with the Houthis. Now that this wartime coalition is basically disbanded for all practical intents and purposes, Russia might fear that it can’t trust the Houthis to protect its diplomatic facility or personnel. After all, Russia and the Houthis’ hated nemesis Saudi Arabia are in the process of a fast-moving and comprehensive rapprochement, one which must been seen askance by them and their partners in Iran. Furthermore, considering that reports claim that Russian doctors saved Saleh’s life in mid-October after the historic visit of Saudi King Salman to Moscow, there’s a chance that the country’s diplomats might have feared that they’d become the target of Houthi retribution after the group’s former ally “betrayed” them.

Piecing Together The Proof

Altogether, Russia’s support for ousted President Hadi, its rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, and previous medical intervention in saving  the life of former President Saleh come together in such a way that it would be both “diplomatically inappropriate” and possibly even outright dangerous for Moscow to retain its diplomatic presence in the Houthi-controlled capital of Sanaa after Saleh’s slaying. So as not to be misunderstood, there are no credible reports that the Houthis threatened Russia’s diplomats, but it might have just been enough for Russia’s Saudi partner to hint as much in order for Moscow to take preventative action in avoiding what it could have been fear mongered to think could become its own Benghazi, especially bearing in mind how four journalist hostages – one of whom might be a Sputnik freelance correspondent – apparently died under Houthi captivity. At the same time, however, Russia is coordinating its peacemaking efforts in Syria with the Houthis’ Iranian partner, so Moscow had to announce its diplomatic withdrawal from Sanaa in a sensitive manner so as to not risk Tehran’s ire and inadvertently jeopardize the deep level of trust that undergirds their joint Astana efforts.

It should be self-evident at this point that Russia does not, never did, nor ever will support the Houthis, and that Moscow simply tolerated them so long as they were allied with Saleh and the former (and at one recent point, possibly hoped-for future) state figure was alive. As a result of “EuroMaidan”, Russia is reluctant to ever recognize what it views to be the unconstitutional overthrow of any national leader, no matter how valid the motives for opposing that individual may have been, but Alt-Media has hitherto had a tendency to pretend that this wasn’t the case, possibly out of fear that emphasizing a lack of agreement with Iran on any issue at all would somehow undermine their cooperation in Syria. Should that have been the reason, though, then it would be silly and self-deluded because it suggests that passive information consumers outside of any of the relevant countries’ decision-making (“deep state”) apparatuses are somehow capable of deciding the course of international partnerships at the state-to-state level, which isn’t true but remains a popular Alt-Media delusion.

The Art Of “Balancing”

By withdrawing from Sanaa, Russia is showing the world in an indirect way (per the political sensitivities of its partnership with Iran) that it doesn’t feel safe keeping its diplomats in the capital after the Houthi takeover of Sanaa, the execution of former President Saleh by the group, and the possible death of four of the 41 journalists (one of whom might be a freelance Sputnik correspondent) that were taken hostage by them in the aftermath, with the unsaid message being that the Houthis might constitute a very real security threat to Russia’s citizens. This conclusion contradicts the prevailing narrative spread across many Alt-Media platforms for nearly the past three years and reveals it to have either been deliberately self-serving or terribly short-sighted, either of which were proven at the end of the day to be wrong. No matter what might have been alleged in the past, it’s now obvious that Russia was only tolerating the Houthis because of Saleh, not as part of some tacitly executed “master plan” with Iran to irk Saudi Arabia, the second of which is now a very close Russian partner.

In fact, Russia and Saudi Arabia are now on such close terms with one another nowadays that it wouldn’t be surprising if Riyadh warned Moscow about an imminent bombing campaign against the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, which could have been all that it took to convince any second-guessing Russians of the need to withdraw from Sanaa as soon as possible. Nonetheless, it should be remembered that Russia isn’t inherently anti-Houthi by any stretch of the imagination, and is likely involved in backstage diplomatic efforts to encourage the application of its Syrian model to the Yemeni conflict, which could entail third-party-brokered (Russian) peace talks, the categorization of non-state militias into “moderates” and “terrorists”, “de-escalation zones”, constitutional “reform”, and new internationally supervised elections, all of which are key elements of UNSC Res. 2254 and the Astana peace process. Russia wouldn’t preclude pragmatically incorporating the Houthis into a “political solution” to the War on Yemen, but nor will it ever favor them when it has more to gain by “balancing” between all parties instead, with Russia’s policy being guided solely by realpolitik and not in any way influenced by Alt-Media’s “wishful thinking” fantasies.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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I think the assassination came about because Saudi Arabia corrupted Russia at gun deal profit point when Russia sold its arms to Saudi Arabia, it was too good a deal: Russia could not turn it down [blackmail], part of that corrupt deal required Russia to lean on Saleh to become a Saudi coalition puppet, it really was just like the white house Saudi Puppet MBS tried to do in arresting and detaining the PM of Lebanon (Saad al-Hariri) both events happened at about the same time,, .. http://www.mirror.co.uk] mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/hezbollah-leader-accuses-. When the Hauthis discovered Russia would deal with Iran to invoke… Read more »

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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