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Saudi Arabia casts itself as the victim, in what it calls a “declaration of war” by Lebanon

Saudi Arabia says Lebanon has declared war.

Alex Christoforou

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Last week The Duran reported that on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s rage filled resignation address from the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Hariri, who is a duel Lebanese-Saudi citizen, leads the Lebanese party Future Movement which forms part of the March 14 Allience in the Lebanese parliament. The future movement attracts few Shi’a and Christian voters and has been openly critical of Hezbollah’s assistance to Syria in its war against al-Qaeda, FSA and ISIS.

During his resignation speech, he blasted Iran and Hezbollah in a manner that is highly reminiscent of Israeli propaganda. In a phrase echoing remarks made by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Hariri said that “Iran’s hand in the region would be cut off”, although Hariri, like Netanyahu, failed to explain how Iran has a ‘hand in the region’ in a way that violates any norms of international law. Hariri then stated that he feared for his life, should he remain in office, while providing no evidence of credible threats to his safety.

The Duran reported that the timing of Saad Hariri’s resignation was more significant than the content of the resignation speech.

The speech came shortly after Hariri met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and only hours after the CIA published suspicious documents which perversely try to link Iran with al-Qaeda.

The fact of the matter is, as everyone except the CIA seems to know, that al-Qaeda is a declared enemy of Iran and Iran is a declared enemy of al-Qaeda, both in terms of geo-strategic interests as well as ideology.

In 1998, Iran almost went to war with Afghanistan to avenge the slaughter of Iranian diplomats by al-Qaeda who at the time were headquartered in Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

More recently, Iran has fought with Iraqi and Syrian troops in their war against al-Qaeda and ISIS, an organisation which was founded by members of a group called al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Moreover, Iranians are targeted by al-Qaeda terrorists across the world in a ruthless fashion.

The absurdity of the CIA’s claim that Iran and al-Qaeda had attempted to work together is not only insulting to those with a sense of reality, but it obscures the fact that in Syria and Libya before that, the US has allied itself with al-Qaeda forces. The US in fact founded al-Qaeda in the 1980s when it was known as the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen. Members of the group even met with Ronald Reagan in the White House.

Zerohedge is reporting that as expected, Saudi Arabia has cast itself as the victim of external Shia plotting after its internal weekend of chaos which included a missile attack from Yemen, the deaths of two princes and other high officials within a mere 24 hours, and an aggressive crackdown against dissent in the royal family which saw close to a dozen princes placed under house arrest. And as Al Jazeera noted, in this Saudi version of ‘Game of Thrones’, the 32-year-old Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) shows that he is willing to throw the entire region into jeopardy to wear the royal gown.

While Saudi Arabia has long blamed Iran for sowing unrest in the region, this evening’s declaration by Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan that Lebanon has “declared war” against the kingdom is truly an historic first. But perhaps the biggest problem is that international media is currently uncritically spreading the statement, whereas what such a bizarre claim actually warrants is laughter.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb sums it up basic geography lesson in this tweet below…

“Either the media is stupid, or Saudi rulers are stupid, or both. Lebanon did not formally declare war and there is no common border.”

Here is the Saudi statement as reported by Reuters…

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah.

Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan told Al-Arabiya TV that Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister on Saturday, had been told that acts of “aggression” by Hezbollah “were considered acts of a declaration of war against Saudi Arabia by Lebanon and by the Lebanese Party of the Devil”.

Via Zerohedge

Though clearly absurd (that Lebanon has declared war on KSA), the statement is driven by legitimate and deep-rooted fear, for not only has Hezbollah transformed itself into a Middle East powerhouse whose influence has grown vastly in the midst of the Syrian war, but it has transitioned into a quasi-state which has gained the respect of Lebanese and Arabs across the region. As we’ve noted many times before, it is fear of Hezbollah and its increasingly broad acceptance and legitimacy within Lebanese state institutions that also drives heightened Israeli rhetoric and bellicosity of late, which has once again “surprisingly” found itself on the same side as Saudi Arabia.

And at a moment that Israel has begun massive war games, and as MBS continues his purge toward total consolidation of power over the kingdom, both unlikely bedfellows continue their war of words against Hezbollah. It’s no secret that common cause in Syria of late has led the historic bitter enemies down a pragmatic path of unspoken cooperation as both seem to have placed the break up of the so-called “Shia crescent” as their primary policy goal in the region. But that’s perhaps why few pundits seemed overly shocked when Israeli media reported in early September that bin Salman may have made a secret visit to Israel, in spite of the fact that the kingdom does not recognize the Jewish state, and the two sides do not have diplomatic relations.

Will the current chaotic trajectory of things and unholy alliance between the Saudis and Israelis place Lebanon in the cross hairs of yet another Israeli-Hezbollah war? While we’ve recently addressed this question, this new and erratic Saudi declaration certainly puts the region a big step closer to such a war becoming a reality.

Though this question of the looming specter of an Israeli-Lebanese War (which would surely involve the Saudis aiding Israel politically inside Lebanon) has been addressed many times over of late, the real question, which isn’t often analyzed, is the true military capabilities of Hezbollah. What has both Israel and the Saudis worried is the fact that the Syrian war has possibly strengthened Hezbollah, not weakened it.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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