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The only winner of the Saudi (and Lebanon) great purge is Qatar

Qatar is now in a strong position to be a arbitrator in several crises.

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In June of 2017, Saudi Arabia led a diplomatic, economic and physical boycott of Qatar that continues to this day. The leaders of the boycott are Saudi, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, all allies of Riyadh.

When the crisis happened, many feared that it could trigger a Saudi military intervention into Qatar, a palace coup or a prolonged recession in Qatar. Ultimately, none of that has happened. Instead, Qatar has strengthened its relationship with Turkey and Russia, notably improved its relationship with Iran and managed to keep the US from doing anything to back up Donald Trump’s pro-Saudi rhetoric. The State Department remains officially neutral on the matter.

While Saudi Arabia issued a set of ridiculous ultimatums which essentially called for the end of Qatar’s national sovereignty, many felt that Qatar would have to capitulate in one way or another.

QATAR CRISIS: Doha refuses Saudi ultimatum

In the end, Qatar refused to capitulate and the ‘tarred reputation’ of being called a state sponsor of terrorism by Saudi Arabia, a country that has sponsored al-Qaeda and ISIS, simply has not stuck. Qatar, if anything, is the little sister to Saudi’s big terrorist brother.

Today, the situation in Qatar remains stable with Doha building new relations in Eurasia and further east, while retaining its North America and European allies.

At the same time Saudi Arabia is struggling with an internal purge combined with continued meddling in Yemen and a fresh round of political meddling in Lebanon which in the end, could hurt Saudi itself, more than Yemen or Lebanon.

2 radically different interpretations of Saudi’s ‘great purge’ and Lebanese PM Hariri’s ‘resignation’

Meanwhile Qatar has just about settled into its new status quo, while the old status quo in Saudi Arabia is in tatters.

What’s more is that Saudi Arabia kicking Qatar out of the anti-Houthi coalition in the dirty war in Yemen, has been something of a blessing for Qatar. Today, Shi’a Houthi rebels released the following statement:

“All airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance to Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be a direct target of our weapons, which is a legitimate right,” according to AFP quoting a statement released by the Houthi rebels”.

Had Qatar remained in the anti-Houthi coalition along with Saudi and the UAE, Qatari targets would have been on this list too.

It is still too early too tell whether Saudi Arabia’s talk of a further war on Yemen’s Houthi’s is a bluff or a sign of further aggression to come.

Geopolitical expert Andrew Korybko writes:

“There’s of course the chance that he’ll go overboard and escalate the War on Yemen through a renewed conventional military invasion in order to “prove” his anti-Iranian/-Shiite “credentials”, but this would be extremely risky right now because the Crown Prince’s power – and even very survival, it can be argued – depends at this very moment to a large degree on the loyalty of the armed forces, the most important issue for which is the disastrous quagmire in Yemen. The Saudi military doesn’t want to continue wasting money and lives on a campaign which already proved itself a failure almost right after it started, yet they’re caught in a dilemma over how to most effectively disengage from the conflict without being paranoid that Iran will gain the upper hand on their country’s southern doorstep soon thereafter.

At the same time, however, the War on Yemen has finally boomeranged back home to the Kingdom now that the Houthis have demonstrated their capability to launch missiles deep inside Saudi Arabia, so Mohammed Bin Salman is again caught in yet another double-layered dilemma over how he should respond to this. He can’t exactly order his military to charge back into the fray head-first and senselessly risk a rise in casualties which could in turn diminish the military’s support of his “deep state” (counter-)coup, but he also can’t ignore the missile strike on Riyadh over the weekend either, ergo the “middle ground” approach that he’s taken in tightening the blockade noose against Yemen in the hopes that this humanitarian blackmail can yield geopolitical dividends. Innocent people can still end up dying as a result, but nevertheless, their deaths would be “indirect” and not due to the type of all-out war scenario that people are most afraid of right now.

Another related explanation for Mohammed Bin Salman’s bellicose behavior is that he’s employing his own version of Trump’s “Mad Man” bluff in order to stave off any potential Iranian asymmetrical destabilization of his country at its most historically vulnerable moment. Sensing that Saudi Arabia is weaker than at any moment since the 1979 Iranian Revolution and consequent commencement of the proxy war rivalry between the two competing powers, Iran might be tempted to give its nemesis a “little push” with the hope that this might send the whole unstable house of cards collapsing into the sand and remove the Saud Monarchy from the pages of history, which might in a cynical (but speculative) way explain the curious timing of the Houthi missile strike on Riyadh precisely at the moment that Mohammed Bin Salman was executing his “deep state” coup.

To wrap everything up, the Crown Prince’s statements regarding Iran, Yemen, and Lebanon are very concerning and people are justified in worrying about Saudi Arabia’s future military intentions, but at the end of the day, the Kingdom has just undergone an unprecedented anti-oligarchic and Bolshevik “deep state” coup, and the armed forces are the only thing keeping Mohammed Bin Salman safe from the vindictive reprisals of the royal elite”.

Irrespective of what happens in the immediate term, Saudi Arabia cannot win the war on Yemen without committing to total war, something which would be deeply unpopular in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

What’s needed is some sort of peace accord which would either result in a unity government in Sana’a or else, the re-dividing of Yemen into a Houthi dominated north with the Southern Movement and elements of the Hadi government ruling in Aden, the former capital of South Yemen whose days as the Middle East’s only Marxist-Leninist state seem far removed from today’s events.

The Southern Movement and the ambiguities of the civil war in Yemen

The question is, who could broker such a piece? Clearly Iran which gives its political support to the Houthis would never be accepted by Saudi and the UAE as a peacemaker, but Qatar just might. Although Qatar remains mistrusted in many parts of the Shi’a Arab world, Iran has used the diplomatic crisis involving Qatar, to open up new channels to Doha. This could help win diplomatic respect from Houthi Arabs.

If Qatar were to come forward as an eventual mediator in the protracted crisis, it could enhance Qatar’s credibility on the international stage and send a clear message to Saudi Arabia that if Qatar is to be dealt with, it will need to be dealt with in a respectful way that respects Doha’s sovereignty.

Thus, one can envisage a scenario where Qatar steps in to end the war in Yemen which would also mean ending its dispute with a Saudi regime that cannot afford any more enemies, all the while also enhancing its relations with Iran.

In this case the ball is in Saudi’s court. By going to a peace conference in Qatar, one could turn a very nasty situation into a win-win situation for all parties involved, except of course those whose lives have been ruined by the Saudi aggression against Yemen. But diplomatically, it would help to calm a great many tensions and would help remove the frankly stupid Saudi propaganda line that Iran and Hezbollah are arming the Houthis, something which is objectively impossible due to the Saudi naval blockade. But removing the conflict form Yemen would remove the need to lie about it and this could only be a step in the right direction, however small.

Iran slams Saudi lies over Yemen missile strike

If Saudi were to reject such a Qatari diplomatic overture, Qatar’s status quo would not change negatively, in fact,  its status could still be partly enhanced. Furthermore, if an internal civil war breaks out in Saudi and there is a clear winner involved, Qatar just might be in the position to be the broker which ultimately causes one side to win and one side to lose, thus making Qatar king maker in Saudi Arabia, a country that still technically seeks regime change in Doha.

 

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New York Times hit piece on Trump and NATO exposes alliance as outdated and obsolete (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the New York Times hit piece citing anonymous sources, with information that the U.S. President dared to question NATO’s viability.

Propaganda rag, the NYT, launched its latest presidential smear aimed at discrediting Trump and provoking the establishment, warmonger left into more impeachment – Twenty-fifth Amendment talking points.

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Via The American Conservative


The New York Times scored a serious scoop when it revealed on Monday that President Trump had questioned in governmental conversations—on more than one occasion, apparently—America’s membership in NATO. Unfortunately the paper then slipped into its typical mode of nostrum journalism. My Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “nostrum” as “quack medicine” entailing “exaggerated claims.” Here we had quack journalism executed in behalf of quack diplomacy.

The central exaggerated claim is contained in the first sentence, in which it is averred that NATO had “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is wrong, as can be seen through just a spare amount of history.

True, NATO saved Europe from the menace of Russian Bolshevism. But it did so not over 70 years but over 40 years—from 1949 to 1989. That’s when the Soviet Union had 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops poised on Western Europe’s doorstep, positioned for an invasion of Europe through the lowlands of Germany’s Fulda Gap.

How was this possible? It was possible because Joseph Stalin had pushed his armies farther and farther into the West as the German Wehrmacht collapsed at the end of World War II. In doing so, and in the process capturing nearly all of Eastern Europe, he ensured that the Soviets had no Western enemies within a thousand miles of Leningrad or within 1,200 miles of Moscow. This vast territory represented not only security for the Russian motherland (which enjoys no natural geographical barriers to deter invasion from the West) but also a potent staging area for an invasion of Western Europe.

The first deterrent against such an invasion, which Stalin would have promulgated had he thought he could get away with it, was America’s nuclear monopoly. By the time that was lost, NATO had emerged as a powerful and very necessary deterrent. The Soviets, concluding that the cost of an invasion was too high, defaulted to a strategy of undermining Western interests anywhere around the world where that was possible. The result was global tensions stirred up at various global trouble spots, most notably Korea and Vietnam.

But Europe was saved, and NATO was the key. It deserves our respect and even reverence for its profound success as a military alliance during a time of serious threat to the West.

But then the threat went away. Gone were the 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops. Gone was Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Indeed, gone, by 1991, was the Soviet Union itself, an artificial regime of brutal ideology superimposed upon the cultural entity of Mother Russia. It was a time for celebration.

But it was also a time to contemplate the precise nature of the change that had washed over the world and to ponder what that might mean for old institutions—including NATO, a defensive military alliance created to deter aggression from a menacing enemy to the east. Here’s where Western thinking went awry. Rather than accepting as a great benefit the favorable developments enhancing Western security—the Soviet military retreat, the territorial reversal, the Soviet demise—the West turned NATO into a territorial aggressor of its own, absorbing nations that had been part of the Soviet sphere of control and pushing right up to the Russian border. Now Leningrad (renamed St. Petersburg after the obliteration of the menace of Soviet communism) resides within a hundred miles of NATO military forces, while Moscow is merely 200 miles from Western troops.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has absorbed 13 nations, some on the Russian border, others bordering lands that had been part of Russia’s sphere of interest for centuries. This constitutes a policy of encirclement, which no nation can accept without protest or pushback. And if NATO were to absorb those lands of traditional Russian influence—particularly Ukraine and Georgia—that would constitute a major threat to Russian security, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to emphasize to Western leaders for years.

So, no, NATO has not deterred Russian aggression for 70 years. It did so for 40 and has maintained a destabilizing posture toward Russia ever since. The problem here is the West’s inability to perceive how changed geopolitical circumstances might require a changed geopolitical strategy. The encirclement strategy has had plenty of critics—George Kennan before he died; academics John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Robert David English; former diplomat Jack Matlock; the editors of The Nation. But their voices have tended to get drowned out by the nostrum diplomacy and the nostrum journalism that supports it at every turn.

You can’t drown out Donald Trump because he’s president of the United States. And so he has to be traduced, ridiculed, dismissed, and marginalized. That’s what the Times story, by Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper, sought to do. Consider the lead, designed to emphasize just how outlandish Trump’s musings are before the reader even has a chance to absorb what he may have been thinking: “There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” Translation: “Take that, Mr. President! You’re an idiot.”

Henry Kissinger had something interesting to say about Trump in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history,” said the former secretary of state, “who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” One Western pretense about Russia, so ardently enforced by the likes of Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper (who, it may be safe to say, know less about world affairs and their history than Henry Kissinger), is that nothing really changed with the Soviet collapse and NATO had to turn aggressive in order to keep that menacing nation in its place.

Trump clearly doesn’t buy that pretense. He said during the campaign that NATO was obsolete. Then he backtracked, saying he only wanted other NATO members to pay their fair share of the cost of deterrence. He even confessed, after Hillary Clinton identified NATO as “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world,” that he only said NATO was obsolete because he didn’t know much about it. But he was learning—enough, it appears, to support as president Montenegro’s entry into NATO in 2017. Is Montenegro, with 5,332 square miles and some 620,000 citizens, really a crucial element in Europe’s desperate project to protect itself against Putin’s Russia?

We all know that Trump is a crude figure—not just in his disgusting discourse but in his fumbling efforts to execute political decisions. As a politician, he often seems like a doctor attempting to perform open-heart surgery while wearing mittens. His idle musings about leaving NATO are a case in point—an example of a politician who lacks the skill and finesse to nudge the country in necessary new directions.

But Kissinger has a point about the man. America and the world have changed, while the old ways of thinking have not kept pace. The pretenses of the old have blinded the status quo defenders into thinking nothing has changed. Trump, almost alone among contemporary American politicians, is asking questions to which the world needs new answers. NATO, in its current configuration and outlook, is a danger to peace, not a guarantor of it.


Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century

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Nigel Farage To Back Another “Vote Leave” Campaign If UK Holds Second Brexit Referendum

Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition.

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Via Zerohedge


Pro-European MPs from various political parties are pushing back against claims made by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government that a second Brexit referendum – which supporters have branded as a “People’s Vote” on May’s deal – would take roughly 14 months to organize, according to RT.

But while support for a second vote grows, one of the most notorious proponents of the original “Vote Leave” campaign is hinting at a possible return to politics to try and fight the effort.

After abandoning UKIP, the party he helped create, late last year, Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition. Farage also pointed out that a delay of Brexit Day would likely put it after the European Parliament elections in May.

“I think, I fear that the House of Commons is going to effectively overturn that Brexit. To me, the most likely outcome of all of this is an extension of Article 50. There could be another referendum,” he told Sky News.

According to official government guidance shown to lawmakers on Wednesday, which was subsequently leaked to the Telegraph, as May tries to head off a push by ministers who see a second referendum as the best viable alternative to May’s deal – a position that’s becoming increasingly popular with Labour Party MPs.

“In order to inform the discussions, a very short paper set out in factual detail the number of months that would be required, this was illustrative only and our position of course is that there will be no second referendum,,” May said. The statement comes as May has been meeting with ministers and leaders from all parties to try to find a consensus deal that could potentially pass in the House of Commons.

The 14 month estimate is how long May and her government expect it would take to pass the primary legislation calling for the referendum (seven months), conduct the question testing with the election committee (12 weeks), pass secondary legislation (six weeks) and conduct the campaigns (16 weeks).

May has repeatedly insisted that a second referendum wouldn’t be feasible because it would require a lengthy delay of Brexit Day, and because it would set a dangerous precedent that wouldn’t offer any more clarity (if some MPs are unhappy with the outcome, couldn’t they just push for a third referendum?). A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said the guidance was produced purely for the purpose of “illustrative discussion” and that the government continued to oppose another vote.

Meanwhile, a vote on May’s “Plan B”, expected to include a few minor alterations from the deal’s previous iteration, has been called for Jan. 29, prompting some MPs to accuse May of trying to run out the clock. May is expected to present the new deal on Monday.

Former Tory Attorney General and pro-remainer MP Dominic Grieve blasted May’s timetable as wrong and said that the government “must be aware of it themselves,” while former Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee, who resigned his cabinet seat in June over May’s Brexit policy, denounced her warning as “nonsense.”

As May pieces together her revised deal, more MPs are urging her to drop her infamous “red lines” (Labour in particular would like to see the UK remain part of the Customs Union), but with no clear alternative to May’s plan emerging, a delay of Brexit Day is looking like a virtual certainty.

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The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization

The National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Paul Craig Roberts

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Via Paul Craig Roberts…


Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying. Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was “Congress would never hear me because then they’d lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world. Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That’s why they’re so afraid. Everybody’s afraid because all this data that’s about them, the central agencies — the intelligence agencies — they have it. And that’s why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn’t attack the intelligence community because they’ve got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That’s because it’s like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it’s leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world.”

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has “a program now called ‘see something, say something’ about your fellow workers. That’s what the Stasi did. That’s why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren’t getting violent yet that we know of — internally in the US, outside is another story.”

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a “traitor” and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA’s law-breaking on Dick “Darth” Cheney. He says NSA’s violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

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