The “proxy war” model the US has been employing throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and even in parts of Asia appears to have failed yet again, this time in the Persian Gulf state of Yemen.
Overcoming the US-Saudi backed regime in Yemen, and a coalition of sectarian extremists including Al Qaeda and its rebrand, the “Islamic State,” pro-Iranian Yemeni Houthi militias have turned the tide against American “soft power” and has necessitated a more direct military intervention. While US military forces themselves are not involved allegedly, Saudi warplanes and a possible ground force are.
Though Saudi Arabia claims “10 countries” have joined its coalition to intervene in Yemen, like the US invasion and occupation of Iraq hid behind a “coalition,” it is overwhelmingly a Saudi operation with “coalition partners” added in a vain attempt to generate diplomatic legitimacy.
Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday night that it had launched a military campaign in Yemen, the beginning of what a Saudi official said was an offensive to restore a Yemeni government that had collapsed after rebel forces took control of large swaths of the country.
The air campaign began as the internal conflict in Yemen showed signs of degenerating into a proxy war between regional powers. The Saudi announcement came during a rare news conference in Washington by Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.
Proxy War Against Iran
Indeed, the conflict in Yemen is a proxy war. Not between Iran and Saudi Arabia per say, but between Iran and the United States, with the United States electing Saudi Arabia as its unfortunate stand-in.
Iran’s interest in Yemen serves as a direct result of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” and attempts to overturn the political order of North Africa and the Middle East to create a unified sectarian front against Iran for the purpose of a direct conflict with Tehran. The war raging in Syria is one part of this greater geopolitical conspiracy, aimed at overturning one of Iran’s most important regional allies, cutting the bridge between it and another important ally, Hezbollah in Lebanon.
And while Iran’s interest in Yemen is currently portrayed as yet another example of Iranian aggression, indicative of its inability to live in peace with its neighbors, US policymakers themselves have long ago already noted that Iran’s influence throughout the region, including backing armed groups, serves a solely defensive purpose, acknowledging the West and its regional allies’ attempts to encircle, subvert, and overturn Iran’s current political order.
The US-based RAND Corporation, which describes itself as “a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis,” produced a report in 2009 for the US Air Force titled, “Dangerous But Not Omnipotent : Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East,” examining the structure and posture of Iran’s military, including its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and weapons both present, and possible future, it seeks to secure its borders and interests with against external aggression.
The report admits that:
Iran’s strategy is largely defensive, but with some offensive elements. Iran’s strategy of protecting the regime against internal threats, deterring aggression, safeguarding the homeland if aggression occurs, and extending influence is in large part a defensive one that also serves some aggressive tendencies when coupled with expressions of Iranian regional aspirations. It is in part a response to U.S. policy pronouncements and posture in the region, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Iranian leadership takes very seriously the threat of invasion given the open discussion in the United States of regime change, speeches defining Iran as part of the “axis of evil,” and efforts by U.S. forces to secure base access in states surrounding Iran.
Whatever imperative Saudi Arabia is attempting to cite in justifying its military aggression against Yemen, and whatever support the US is trying to give the Saudi regime rhetorically, diplomatically, or militarily, the legitimacy of this military operation crumbles before the words of the West’s own policymakers who admit Iran and its allies are simply reacting to a concerted campaign of encirclement, economic sanctions, covert military aggression, political subversion, and even terrorism aimed at establishing Western hegemony across the region at the expense of Iranian sovereignty.
Saudi Arabia’s Imperative Lacks Legitimacy
The unelected hereditary regime ruling over Saudi Arabia, a nation notorious for egregious human rights abuses, and a land utterly devoid of even a semblance of what is referred to as “human rights,” is now posing as arbiter of which government in neighboring Yemen is “legitimate” and which is not, to the extent of which it is prepared to use military force to restore the former over the latter.
The United States providing support for the Saudi regime is designed to lend legitimacy to what would otherwise be a difficult narrative to sell. However, the United States itself has suffered from an increasing deficit in its own legitimacy and moral authority.
Most ironic of all, US and Saudi-backed sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda in Yemen, had served as proxy forces meant to keep Houthi militias in check by proxy so the need for a direct military intervention such as the one now unfolding would not be necessary. This means that Saudi Arabia and the US are intervening in Yemen only after the terrorists they were supporting were overwhelmed and the regime they were propping up collapsed.
In reality, Saudi Arabia’s and the United States’ rhetoric aside, a brutal regional regime meddled in Yemen and lost, and now the aspiring global hemegon sponsoring it from abroad has ordered it to intervene directly and clean up its mess.
Saudi Arabia’s Dangerous Gamble
The aerial assault on Yemen is meant to impress upon onlookers Saudi military might. A ground contingent might also attempt to quickly sweep in and panic Houthi fighters into folding. Barring a quick victory built on psychologically overwhelming Houthi fighters, Saudi Arabia risks enveloping itself in a conflict that could easily escape out from under the military machine the US has built for it.
It is too early to tell how the military operation will play out and how far the Saudis and their US sponsors will go to reassert themselves over Yemen. However, that the Houthis have outmatched combined US-Saudi proxy forces right on Riyadh’s doorstep indicates an operational capacity that may not only survive the current Saudi assault, but be strengthened by it.
Reports that Houthi fighters have employed captured Yemeni warplanes further bolsters this notion – revealing tactical, operational, and strategic sophistication that may well know how to weather whatever the Saudis have to throw at it, and come back stronger.
What may result is a conflict that spills over Yemen’s borders and into Saudi Arabia proper. Whatever dark secrets the Western media’s decades of self-censorship regarding the true sociopolitical nature of Saudi Arabia will become apparent when the people of the Arabian peninsula must choose to risk their lives fighting for a Western client regime, or take a piece of the peninsula for themselves.
Additionally, a transfer of resources and fighters arrayed under the flag of the so-called “Islamic State” and Al Qaeda from Syria to the Arabian Peninsula will further indicate that the US and its regional allies have been behind the chaos and atrocities carried out in the Levant for the past 4 years. Such revelations will only further undermine the moral imperative of the West and its regional allies, which in turn will further sabotage their efforts to rally support for an increasingly desperate battle they themselves conspired to start.
America’s Shrinking Legitimacy
It was just earlier this month when the United States reminded the world of Russia’s “invasion” of Crimea. Despite having destabilized Ukraine with a violent, armed insurrection in Kiev, for the purpose of expanding NATO deeper into Eastern Europe and further encircling Russia, the West insisted that Russia had and still has no mandate to intervene in any way in neighboring Ukraine. Ukraine’s affairs, the United States insists, are the Ukrainians’ to determine. Clearly, the US meant this only in as far as Ukrainians determined things in ways that suited US interests.
This is ever more evident now in Yemen, where the Yemeni people are not being allowed to determine their own affairs. Everything up to and including military invasion has been reserved specifically to ensure that the people of Yemen do not determine things for themselves, clearly, because it does not suit US interests.
Such naked hypocrisy will be duly noted by the global public and across diplomatic circles. The West’s inability to maintain a cohesive narrative is a growing sign of weakness. Shareholders in the global enterprise the West is engaged in may see such weakness as a cause to divest – or at the very least – a cause to diversify toward other enterprises. Such enterprises may include Russia and China’s mulipolar world. The vanishing of Western global hegemony will be done in destructive conflict waged in desperation and spite.
Today, that desperation and spite befalls Yemen.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine“New Eastern Outlook”.
| 16 March 2015 | The Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched an investigation into allegations of police corruption in London relating to child sex offences dating back to the 1970s, including that officers colluded in the coverup of a high-level paedophile ring. The allegations, referred by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), include suppressing evidence, hindering or halting investigations and covering up offences because of the involvement of MPs and police officers. “These allegations are of historic, high-level corruption of the most serious nature,” said Sarah Green, the IPCC deputy chair.
IPCC launches inquiry into ‘high-level corruption of the most serious nature’ including suppression of evidence and halting of investigations involving MPs
Ex-Mossad chief Dagan: I would have resigned if Netanyahu ordered Iran strike | 15 March 2015 | Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan said Saturday night that he would have resigned if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. In his interview with Channel 10, Dagan said, “it was his fully within his authority to make such a decision, but I decided that I would resign at that moment.” In the interview, Dagan also showed the letter in which he requested to leave his post – responding to claims made by Netanyahu’s associates that his criticism of the premier was due to personal reasons, after Netanyahu decided not to renew his tenure.
Tribal chiefs and community leaders in Marampa, Sierra Leone, learned about an Ebola vaccine study at a meeting last month.Credit Bryan Denton for The New York Times
MONROVIA, Liberia — West Africa’s Ebolaepidemic may be waning, but another outbreak in the future is a near certainty, health officials say.
Now, the United States is helping to lead a large study of two vaccines against Ebola. But as researchers try to compress a clinical process that can take a decade into a fraction of the time, they are confronting the same volatile mix of skepticism, fear, false rumor and understandable mistrust that helped spread Ebola in the first place.
“When we look at Ebola, it came from America,” said Sylvester George, a pastor’s assistant, expressing doubts about the clinical trials at an information session. “It’s a man-made virus. So why didn’t they do this trial in America, but they decide to come to Liberia?”
Trials of Ebola drugs and vaccines are underway or planned in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the three countries most affected by an epidemic that has claimed about 10,000 lives. But the study in Liberia of the two vaccines is the most ambitious, with American researchers from the National Institutes of Health and their Liberian counterparts hoping to enlist more than 27,000 participants under an agreement between their governments.
The trial’s scale alone has posed tough ethical and practical questions. American and Liberian officials have debated how to attract so many volunteers, how much to pay them and how to mobilize the public to extinguish crippling rumors before they take root, like the one asserting that Ebola vaccines were being slipped into children’s immunizations.
And there is an added layer of mistrust directed at one of the most important partners in the trial: the Liberian government.
After a government minister called on Liberians to “step up” and volunteer to test a new Ebola vaccine, angry callers on talk radio asked why no high-ranking government official had gotten a shot in the arm.
A local radio reporter asked whether signing a consent form was tantamount to a “death warrant” for volunteers. A daily newspaper said simply, “Liberians are not animals.” Scientists have been left scrambling to win over the trust of the Liberian people on the ground.
“This concept of social mobilization, I had not heard that term before,” said Dr. Clifford Lane, who is leading the trial for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the American government research agency. “But I came to realize it is one of the most critical things for success in this country.”
Last August, even as Monrovia was rapidly becoming the center of the outbreak, many Liberians denied Ebola’s existence. Distrustful of a government widely perceived as corrupt, they believed that the authorities were exaggerating the gravity of the disease to get money from international donors. This made it harder to convince people to take lifesaving precautions like isolating sick relatives.
The distrust only deepened after the government deployed troops to enforce a blanket quarantine on a neighborhood in the capital, Monrovia, leading to deadly riots over a tactic that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf later called a mistake.
“There were some false starts, but we built on the lessons from the false starts,” Dr. Stephen Kennedy, the lead Liberian investigator in the vaccine trial, said of last year’s efforts to combat the epidemic. “The lesson was that using formal and informal community structures had an impact on the epidemic in Liberia. So for this trial, we are building on that.”
To try to allay suspicions, Dr. Kennedy and another Liberian doctor invited the local news media to watch them get vaccinated. But the event did not appear to change the opinion of many Liberians, who continued to assert that their government was infecting citizens with Ebola to squeeze money out of donors.
The vaccine trials began taking shape after the Liberian government, at the height of the epidemic last year, asked the United States to conduct clinical research in Liberia on potential vaccines and drugs. Two vaccines, one manufactured by Merck and another by GlaxoSmithKline, were chosen after initial studies showed they were generally safe and produced an immune response against Ebola in human volunteers in the United States and other countries.
The West African trials are the first time vaccines are being tested in the context of an outbreak, though the waning caseload may make it more difficult to answer the ultimate question — whether they really protect people from contracting Ebola.
In the Liberian trial, expected to last about a year, participants will be given one of the two vaccines, or a placebo, at 10 locations in and around Monrovia.
On Tuesday, researchers finished vaccinating an initial batch of 600 volunteers at Redemption Hospital, which was used as an Ebola holding center a few months ago. Officials said they had made sure that participants fully understood the consent forms — a critical issue in places with high illiteracy and low education levels, as in Liberia. Explanations of risks and potentially unfamiliar concepts, like placebos and randomized trials, are given in Liberian English, or, if need be, in one of the 16 local languages.
For 10 visits over the course of almost a year, the first 600 participants will each be handed $300: $40 on the first visit, less on subsequent visits, and $150 at the end. The money is supposed to compensate participants for transportation costs and lost wages.
“The ethics of it is compensation for inconvenience,” said Dr. Lane, the lead American researcher. “You don’t pay people to be part of medical research.”
Some of the American researchers have argued that the $300 compensation — the equivalent of $30 for each visit to the hospital — is too high, especially in a city where many people earn less than $5 a day. One Liberian newspaper announced the first hospital visit’s compensation in huge print on its front page: “US$40.”
But Dr. Kennedy, the lead Liberian researcher, argued that compensation must be calculated by looking at the cost of living and the multiple jobs many Liberians hold to make ends meet.
“Businesses abuse labor because people don’t have a choice,” he said.
In Guinea, where Ebola cases continue, a trial began last weekend with the vaccination of 22 volunteers, including the country’s health minister, the head of the Guinean Red Cross and the president of the country’s Ebola research commission.
“They wanted to show by example to the population that they were willing to step forward and take the vaccine,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, an assistant director general at the World Health Organization who also volunteered for the study.
Vaccine experts have made presentations to Parliament and at gatherings of local chiefs. The phrase “Ebola prevention vaccine” is used rather than “Ebola vaccine,” to help avoid the impression that the vaccine might cause Ebola. And the study’s original acronym, Sleves, was discarded over concerns that it might remind residents of an ominous chapter in the country’s history: the civil war, when long or short “sleeves” often referred to hacking off a victim’s hands or arms.
Intended to enroll 6,000 to 8,000 volunteers, Sierra Leone’s study will focus on health professionals, disease surveillance officers, ambulance teams and other front-line staff members at risk of contracting Ebola. It will not include placebos and is awaiting final approval from the country’s pharmacy board.
Abbas Koroma, an environmental health officer in Sierra Leone, said that some controversy over the vaccines was to be expected in a democracy, but that the trial would be historic.
“I will tell my grandchildren we pioneered this,” he said.
For Liberia’s trials, Joseph Boye Cooper, a Liberian working for the effort, has gone out to neighborhoods, answering questions, allaying fears and recruiting volunteers. Mr. Cooper, who was a leader in a large volunteer Ebola watchdog group last year, uses the word “study” instead of “trial,” which he said invariably caused listeners to ask defensively, “Why do you want to try this vaccine on me?”
Before visiting neighborhoods, Mr. Cooper is careful to park the team’s sport utility vehicle several blocks away and take a motorcycle taxi to his destination. Arriving in a big car would merely fuel popular suspicions about government waste and corruption, he said.
“They’ll say I’m eating Ebola money and I must share some with them,” he said.
After one meeting inside a church, about half of the 24 listeners gave Mr. Cooper their names and cellphone numbers. The next morning, at 7 a.m., Mr. Cooper stood along a main road, waiting for the volunteers. With nobody after 20 minutes, he took out his cellphone.
“You just getting up, oh?” he said to one person, adding, with feeling: “I know. So how long will it take for you to get ready?” Eventually, about a dozen showed up, including people from the day before.
Samuel Weah, who had been convinced after listening to Mr. Cooper, said he had unsuccessfully tried to get family and friends to join him.
“They said they want more Ebola patients because government is using them to make money,” he said. “The more dead and infections, the more money.”
“But,” he added, “some said I should go and take the lead first. They said if nothing happens to me, they might come next.”
The latest statements by the deputy head of NATO testify to the fact that the leaders of the bloc want to intervene in Russia’s internal politics, and are “dreaming of Russian Maidan.” This is the view of Russia’s permanent envoy to NATO.
“The speech in Riga demonstrates the concern about Russia’s democracy and internal policy. At last, now we know that NATO has a dream, and this dream is a Maidan in Russia,” Aleksandr Grushko said in comment that was tweeted through the Russian representation office in the alliance.
Grushko referred to the words of NATO’s deputy secretary general, Alexander Vershbow, who had told a conference in the Latvian capital Riga that President Vladimir Putin’s “aim seems to be to turn Ukraine into a failed state and to suppress and discredit alternative voices in Russia, so as to prevent a Russian ‘Maidan.'” Both officials used the Ukrainian word ‘Maidan’ to describe a string of protest actions that eventually turned into mass unrest and the ousting of the legally elected president and parliament.
“By demonizing Russia, NATO creates a virtual reality, disconnecting itself from real threats to security,” the Russian envoy said.
Grushko added that NATO itself has used “hybrid warfare” against foreign states and now the alliance is attempting to accuse Russia of starting such a war in Ukraine.
“NATO has a long history of hybrid operations. Any country or organization can take a lesson from it. We have earlier seen these signs of military intimidation, hidden involvement, weapons supplies,economic blackmail, diplomatic duplicity, mass media manipulations and open disinformation,” the Russian envoy stated.
“The statement made in Riga is yet another set of arguments seeking only to justify NATO’s confrontational attitude to Russia,” he said.
“It is not likely that NATO has the right to consider itself the sole source of truth. The alliance has repeatedly discredited itself by spreading false information both about its own behavior and about the actions of others,” Grushko said in conclusion. “Not many will follow NATO’s advice to return to the times of the Cold War,” he forecasted.
In October last year, Grushko urged Western nations to acknowledge their policy faults and improve relations with Russia.
“We and our Western partners, first of all Europe, must recognize that their policies of the past few years are only deepening the dividing lines between Russia and Europe, and this is extremely dangerous,” the Russian diplomat said. “The West must eventually acknowledge the fact that the mechanical implementation of its recent policies is leading itself into a dead end.”
The Pentagon let slip that one of its training camps to help fight Islamic State terrorists is in
Jordan — information the pro-U.S. kingdom had specifically requested be kept private, and the latest gaffe in a series of sensitive leaks coming out of the Department of Defense.
In order to hide its flub, which was first announced to reporters during a briefing last week, the Pentagon has scrubbed its public transcripts of any mention of the training camp.
Pentagon officials acknowledged Monday that one of its officers, who was briefing reporters on condition of anonymity last week, likely made the mistake. The Pentagon’s policy is to discuss only the contributions its partner nations are making to its operations against extremists in Iraq and Syria only after those partner nations have publicly spoken about those contributions.
Security analysts are befuddled by the high-level operational “screw-up.”
“Either the official made a mistake or is deliberately leaking information to put the administration’s plans for Syria in a better light in an attempt to defuse criticism that the administration has bungled efforts to aid Syrian rebels,” said James Phillips, a national security analyst at The Heritage Foundation.
Rome, February 19 – Italy told an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council late Wednesday that it was ready to play a “lead” role in finding a political solution to end the chaos in Libya. The meeting was called amid international concern about advances made by jihadists linked to ISIS following the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya at the weekend. In a video of the murders, a jihadist warned ISIS was now “south of Rome” and no longer isolated to the areas it controls on Syria and Iraq.
Italy’s permanent representative at the UN, Sebastiano Cardi, told the Security Council that Italy was ready to help watch over an eventual a ceasefire and train local armed forces as part of of a UN-mandated mission.
A German rapper-turned ISIS extremist who starred in the group’s grisly beheading videos was being spied on for the FBI by a woman he thought was his wife.
Denis Cuspert, 39, who now calls himself Abu Talha al-Amani, embraced radical Islam and travelled to Syria to fight with militants before becoming the group’s main propagandist.
The spy transmitted critical information about the rapper and his ISIS colleagues before escaping to Turkey – where she was arrested and then turned over to the US, according to the German newspaper Bild.
The paper said German and American intelligence sources confirmed the existence of the operation, Fox News reports.
The unidentified woman fled Syria after her handlers told her it was no longer safe to continue the mission as militants had began to hunt for and flush out infiltrators.
Mehmet Aşkar, one of the 11 suspected members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) currently being tried by the Niğde High Criminal Court, has said that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) helped them smuggle arms to opposition groups in Syria during the early stages of the country’s civil war, a Turkish daily has reported.
According to a story published in the Cumhuriyet daily on Monday, Turkish authorities are trying to divert public attention from the case because the prosecutor’s dossier has details which reveal the involvement of MİT in arms smuggling.
The 11 suspects in the case include a Syrian Turkmen who is allegedly linked with the anti-regime Free Syrian Army (FSA) and radical groups such as ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates. Haisam Toubaljeh, also known as Heysem Topalca and who is also a suspect in the Reyhanlı attack case, according to Hürriyet, is believed to have been involved in numerous cases of smuggling as well as a transfer of rocket warheads to Syria that was intercepted in November 2013 by security forces in the southern city of Adana.
Aşkar said in the dossier that he had given his vehicle to Topalca in 2011 in the Yayladağı district of Hatay province when Topalca told Aşkar that he was planning to bring arms from Syria to Turkey and then send them to rebel groups in Syria. Aşkar added that Topalca had told him that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had seized some towns in northern Syria, blocking the previous routes that the rebel groups had used to transfer arms.
Cumhuriyet reported that Aşkar was told by Topalca that the smuggling would not be a problem in Turkey because he had contacts. Aşkar, Topalca and certain other Turkmens then took the arms to a village near the Syrian border in Hatay province. When they reached the village, Turkish gendarmerie teams carrying a jammer device asked them why they were in a military zone. Aşkar quoted Topalca as saying that they had permission to be there. “Topalca and the gendarmes made some telephone calls that I couldn’t hear. Without any checks on my vehicle, which was loaded with arms, we were taken to the border with a military escort,” Aşkar said. He then added that his vehicle, along with another that had joined them on the way, was taken by people who crossed from the Syrian side to collect the vehicles. According to Aşkar, Topalca told him that there were 100 rifles belonging to NATO in the vehicle and that the smuggling had been conducted with the approval and support of MİT.