Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 07, 2017

Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon

The Saudi clown prince Mohammed bin Salman is purging all potential internal resistance and solidifies his dictatorial position. (The move includes a huge money grab. All assets of those accused of corruption are confiscated by the state which, in Saudi Arabia, is the tyrant himself.) The internal consolidation of power is the prelude for a larger external venture.

At the same time as the internal purges proceed, MbS implements an extremely aggressive foreign policy agenda targeted at Iran and its allies. Having been defeated in Iraq and Syria and at stalemate in Qatar and Yemen the Saudi ruler decided to try his luck in Lebanon. The Saudi declares war on Lebanon and will put enormous economic and political pressure on it. But all of that will be to no avail. The war will only cause Lebanon to move deeper into the "resistance" camp an join its forces with Syria, Iran and Russia.

(The recap below is mostly an accumulation of sources. My own analysis will follow in a later piece.)

The Saudi plans are well coordinated with the United States and have the full support of the Israeli government. The point man in the Trump administration for all Middle East issues is Trump's son-in-law (and arch Zionist) Jared Kushner. He made three trips to Saudi Arabia this year, the last one very recently. The Washington Post's David Ignatius brown noses:

[L]ast month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, made a personal visit to Riyadh. The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.

A week ago the Saudi minister (and extremists) Thamer al-Sabhan called for toppling Hizbullah and promised "astonishing developments". Friday night the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri was ordered back to his home-country Saudi Arabia and pressed to read a resignation statement on a Saudi TV station. None of his advisors in Lebanon knew that this was coming. It is claimed that Hariri did not voluntarily resign and is now under house arrest. There is even a Free Hariri Clock counting the hours, minutes and seconds of his ordeal. The Lebanese President has not accepted the PM's resignation and demands that Hariri returns to Lebanon. We called the resignation The Opening Shot Of The Saudi War On Hizbullah.

On Saturday the Saudi ruler engaged in the night of the long knives and arrested all his potential internal competition.

In the same night a missile launched by Houthi/Saleh forces in Yemen hit near the airport of the Saudi capital Riyadh. Such missile attacks are in retaliation for the intense two years of Saudi bombing of Yemen which by now probably killed more than a hundred-thousand people. While this was likely unrelated to the other events it added to the general anti-Iranian narrative the Saudis propagate. The Saudis claim that Yemeni missiles are of Iranian origin and launched by Iranian specialists. Iran denies this. Weapon experts at IHS Janes refute that claim:

Burkan-2 missile launched by Houthis is Scud derivative and is unlike variants made by Iran or DPRK.

The Houthi in Yemen are supported by elements of the Yemeni army under command of the former Yemeni President Saleh. The Yemen army has for decades owned and used variants of Scud missiles. It is unlikely that it needs help to modify and launch these.

The Saudis nominally support Yemeni forces under Saleh's successor Hadi. The former(?) President of Yemen Hadi is, like the former(?) Prime Minister of Lebanon,  held under house arrest in Saudi Arabia. The former(?) Palestinian President Abbas, long beyond his legal term, was also summoned to Riyadh. One wonders if he will ever return.

Yesterday the Saudi Minister Thamer al-Sabhan declared war on Lebanon:

Saudi minister of Gulf affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan, said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against Saudi Arabia because of what he described as aggression against the Kingdom by the Iran-backed group Hezbollah.

“We will treat the government of Lebanon as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia due to the aggression of Hezbollah,” he said in response to the recent decisions taken by the Lebanese government.
...
The Saudi minister said that Hariri and the Lebanese government would not accept the positions of Hezbollah militia, stressing that talk about forcing Hariri to resign lies to disperse Lebanon.

“Lebanon is kidnapped by the militias of Hezbollah and behind it is Iran,” he said.

It seems crazy that the Saudis would open another front in their chaotic war against presumed Iranian influences. Their forces were defeated in Iraq and Syria. Their wars on Yemen and Qatar are in a stalemate. Each of their moves has led to an increase of Iranian influence and power. It is hard to understand why they would want to repeat that experience in Lebanon. It is even harder to understand why the U.S. and Israel support that losing move.

Donald J. Trump‏ @realDonaldTrump - 3:03 PM - 6 Nov 2017

I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing....

The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahoo activated his diplomats to lobby for the Saudi position:

Barak Ravid @BarakRavid - 12:11 PM - 6 Nov 2017

1 \ I published on channel 10 a cable sent to Israeli diplomats asking to lobby for Saudis\Hariri &against Hezbollah
2 \ The cable sent from the MFA in Jerusalem to all Israeli embassies toes the Saudi line regarding the Hariri resignation
3 \ The Israeli diplomats were instructed to Demarch their host governments over the domestic political situation in Lebanon. Very rare move
4 \ The cable said: "You need to stress that the Hariri resignation shows how dangerous Iran and Hezbollah are for Lebanon's security"
5 \ "Hariri's resignation proves wrong the argument that Hezbollah participation in the government stabilizes Lebanon", the Cable added
6 \ The cable instructed Israeli diplomat to support Saudi Arabia over its war with the Houthis in Yemen
7 \ The cable also stressed: "The missile launch by the Houthis towards Riyadh calls for applying more pressure on Iran & Hezbollah". END

There is no common border between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia but there are many economic relations. The Saudis have for years sponsored Sunni clans in Lebanon. Many Gulf Arabs have invested in Beirut. It is their preferred vacation destination. Lebanese companies provide many services within the Gulf countries.

There is little the Saudis can do militarily hurt Lebanon. They might want to move their Al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters from Syria to Lebanon but that will require Turkish cooperation. Even those forces would be no match for Hizbullah as it is deeply anchored within the population of Lebanon.

The Saudis will, like with Qatar, use economic means to squeeze Lebanon. It is quite obvious that such measures will mostly hurt their own constituency in Lebanon. How does that change the situation to their advantage? Analysts agree that the Saudi measures will in fact hurt. But they will also increase Hizbullah's, Iran's and Russia's influence.

Elias Muhanna‏ @QifaNabki - 1:36 PM - 6 Nov 2017

Short of outright war, how might Saudi Arabia put pressure on Hizbullah? (THREAD) 1/
A Saudi minister has announced that the very existence of Hizbullah in the Lebanese govt amounts to a declaration of war. 2/
Short of attacking Lebanon (which Hizb Sec-Gen Nasrallah scoffed at over the weekend), what could Saudi do? 3/
Saudi Arabia might issue a list of demands to the Lebanese govt, similar to what it did with Qatar. 4/
Demands might include: Hizbullah must not be in the government; must disarm; cease all military activities beyond Lebanese borders. 5/
Unless demands are met, KSA could freeze relations w/ LB, close its own borders to LB business, cease all support of LB institutions. 6/
Saudi Arabia wields a huge amount of power over Lebanon; probably more than it does over any other country besides Bahrain. 7/
With this hard-line policy, it sends the signal to Iran that Hzb has grown to be too large and too dangerous. 8/
Hizbullah's weathered such storms b4 when Israel made threats to hold the Leb govt accountable. 9/
But thumbing nose at Israel w/ Arab world behind you is different from staring down Saudi blockade. 10/

Another analyst, who long lived in Lebanon, has a slightly more positive view. (edited for readability):

Elijah J. Magnier‏ @ejmalrai - 7:50 PM - 6 Nov 2017

Saudi Arabia is preparing a war against Lebanon: hitting finance first, blocking air traffic exchange, inviting other Arab countries to follow.
Saudi Arabia is bulling Lebanon and is expected to gradually escalate procedures:
Lebanon will have to turn towards Syria for its economy/travel and towards Russia as the USA is turning a blind eye.
Qatar and Iran will support Lebanon's economy: a new front and solidarity against Saudi Arabian bulling will be created.
Saudi Arabia (wrongly) believes it can lead the Middle East: USA made the same mistake before and that brought Russia in.
Saudi Arabia never had a clear foreign policy, is unaware of diplomacy and is adopting a tribal mentality: with me or against me.
Because @realDonaldTrump has no clue what ME policy is and accepts anything Saudi Arabia is doing more instability is expected.
Israel doesn't need to act against Hezbollah or #Lebanon, Saudi Arabia is doing the job on its behalf.

The question is: how long can Saudi Arabia hold internally and regionally? Even if not for long, ME is so unstable today ...
When Saudi Arabia says: "'Lebanon is hijacked by Hezbollah and Iran, Saudi will treat Lebanese gov as an enemy of its state" it means that KSA is at war.
But Saudi Arabia is presenting Hezbollah as a kind of" superpower" and/or a "state" to stand against, magnifying it.
The same style is usually used by Israel before taking action against #Hezbollah: Saudi Arabia is copying the rhetoric.

Bahrain, Emirates will have to join Saudi Arabia sooner or later to show KSA is not alone: expect fresh accusations.
Arabs have wealth in Lebanon, proprieties and business, all may be soon affected by Saudi Arabia's belligerent attitude.
Saudi Arabia seems to enjoy unlimited support: money is powerful, sure. But learn from Syria and the 6 years of war.
Saudi Arabia wants to see a Lebanese government without any Hezbollah minister.
Hezbollah's influence in #Lebanon doesn't emanate from the presence of a couple of ministers.
Saudi Arabia wants for Hezbollah to pay the price of its effective role in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, in the defeat of ISIS.
Saudi Arabia wants also to protect the tens of thousands Al Qaeda still in Idlib and it wants to deprive Iran from its arm.
"Defeating" Hezbollah would leave Lebanon unprotected from Israel and pave the road to an Arab official relationship with Tel Aviv.

Even if PM Hariri leaves Saudi Arabia, to Beirut, his family remains behind and he can never go against Saudi will.
The return of Hariri to Lebanon won't solve the problem but will give more background to the events: no big deal.

Posted by b on November 7, 2017 at 03:41 AM | Permalink

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Hubris of the theocracies (KSA, Israel, USA) at its best. Stock the popcorn.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 7, 2017 4:24:04 AM | 1

One thing to add here.
MbS, by "confiscating" the assets of the four richest saudi's, has upped the Saudi reserves by 7% - under Salmans' own banner. Private planes carrying other Saudi families have been grounded and are not permitted to leave. (No exodus). What does he want from them? Does MbS now want to be the King/Emperor with ALL Saudi resources under his "sole" command as in the period of Ibn Saud?

As oil is now touching $64, war or the threats of war seem to be good for Saudi coffers.

Posted by: stonebird | Nov 7, 2017 4:52:10 AM | 2

Via Angry Arab

Fullest account so far of Hariri's defenestration (use translate to English in Chrome):

The consensus was to act calmly and to try to secure a safe and decent exit for the prime minister from Saudi Arabia. This is what Presidents Michel Aoun and Nabih Berri tried to do through mediation with Egypt and Jordan but without a result. MP Walid Jumblatt also brokered mediation with the French and British authorities. Even London failed to obtain permission from one of its diplomats in Riyadh to meet Hariri at his residence, while the Americans refused to intervene.
On Wednesday night, he learned that the French mediation had failed and that the Saudi crown prince had insisted that Hariri could not leave Riyadh without a pledge not to change his position. His family was kept in Riyadh as a hostage to prevent him from declaring any political position contrary to what he announced in the resignation statement, while Hariri's aides in Beirut did not receive any positive signals until after midnight.

Meanwhile it looks like Aoun and Berri are not going to go along with MbS and his poodle, Thamer al-Sabhan:

On the official front, Presidents Aoun and Berri held a meeting at the presidential palace, ending with consensus that the resignation would not be complete until Hariri returned to Beirut. It was agreed to delay the decision of the constitutional procedures to the longest possible period, and allow for contacts aimed at "liberating a Lebanese prime minister in detention in an outside country," according to a well-informed official source.

And if the Saudis are so stupid to include Hariri in the corruption investigations, they're going to burn one of their most valuable assets in Lebanon.

BTW, Ignatius' reference to the "two princes" (MbS and Kushner) may be ironic, since the United States is not a monarchy (whatever some conspiracy theorists believe) and Trump is not a king (how ever much he'd like to be one). And if Ignatius is familiar with English history then the "two princes" could be regarded as a reference to the "Princes in the Tower" who were supposedly murdered by Richard III to secure his position as king.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 5:39:27 AM | 3

Via Angry Arab

Fullest account so far of Hariri's defenestration (use translate to English in Chrome):

The consensus was to act calmly and to try to secure a safe and decent exit for the prime minister from Saudi Arabia. This is what Presidents Michel Aoun and Nabih Berri tried to do through mediation with Egypt and Jordan but without a result. MP Walid Jumblatt also brokered mediation with the French and British authorities. Even London failed to obtain permission from one of its diplomats in Riyadh to meet Hariri at his residence, while the Americans refused to intervene.
On Wednesday night, he learned that the French mediation had failed and that the Saudi crown prince had insisted that Hariri could not leave Riyadh without a pledge not to change his position. His family was kept in Riyadh as a hostage to prevent him from declaring any political position contrary to what he announced in the resignation statement, while Hariri's aides in Beirut did not receive any positive signals until after midnight.

Meanwhile it looks like Aoun and Berri are not going to go along with MbS and his poodle, Thamer al-Sabhan:

On the official front, Presidents Aoun and Berri held a meeting at the presidential palace, ending with consensus that the resignation would not be complete until Hariri returned to Beirut. It was agreed to delay the decision of the constitutional procedures to the longest possible period, and allow for contacts aimed at "liberating a Lebanese prime minister in detention in an outside country," according to a well-informed official source.

And if the Saudis are so stupid to include Hariri in the corruption investigations, they're going to burn one of their most valuable assets in Lebanon.

BTW, Ignatius' reference to the "two princes" (MbS and Kushner) may be ironic, since the United States is not a monarchy (whatever some conspiracy theorists believe) and Trump is not a king (how ever much he'd like to be one). And if Ignatius is familiar with English history then the "two princes" could be regarded as a reference to the "Princes in the Tower" who were supposedly murdered by Richard III to secure his position as king.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 5:39:27 AM | 4

Yes, but don't forget: it is better for Russia.
All the KSA (USA) mistakes are good for Russia anyway.

Posted by: Frantic | Nov 7, 2017 5:40:43 AM | 5

So you have a couple of billionaires holed-up at the Ritz. Many rich enough to hire entire armies. Wouldn't you need Fort-Knox-like security including army to prevent any attempt to "free" the princes? Or, in order to make any "rescue" attempts futile, just kill them? Or is the plan here to make them sign a paper saying they will go live in exile on a nice Saudi pension and never come back? But wouldn't that invite attempts to re-coup later?

Posted by: Reto Rietberg | Nov 7, 2017 5:44:57 AM | 6

b

Apologies from Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 5:39:27 AM | 3

Didn't realise you'd linked to al akhbar as in haste I just looked at the links rather than followed them all. BTW, the al-akhbar link returns 400 at the moment.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 5:51:17 AM | 7

Each of their moves has led to an increase of Iranian influence and power. It is hard to understand why they would want to repeat that experience in Lebanon. It is even harder to understand why the U.S. and Israel support that losing move.
It's not hard if you accept the The Angry Arab is right when he say that it's Israel that has written the script with Washington making Riyadh follow it. Since Trump is stupid enough to believe the propaganda that Israel is the master of the arts of black ops.(they're useless at it in reality), his tweet, while it's garbage, can be understood.

BTW, in an earlier comment ("Opening shots" post) I suggested that the Saudis either didn't want to go along with the Israeli plan or are too inept to implement it successfully. I'm now trending towards the view that the Saudis, at least the MbS faction are to arrogant and inept.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 6:05:55 AM | 8

The only thing to conclude here is that M. BS is jalous of Erdo's purges and has been watching too much of Games of Thrones
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-06/verge-catastrophe-saudi-arabia-says-lebanon-declared-war
http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/middleeast/2017/11/saudi-arabia-game-thobes-171105162806956.html

Posted by: Mina | Nov 7, 2017 6:07:11 AM | 9

Mina says:

The only thing to conclude here is that M. BS is jalous of Erdo's purges and has been watching too much of Games of Thrones

a million laughs! and if they ever procure those lauded s-400s they'll even be able to blow dragons out of the sky!

it's likely true, nothing is real

Posted by: john | Nov 7, 2017 6:33:25 AM | 10

As for Trump:

the US president, who is travelling in Asia, posted on Twitter. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”

How dare the Saudis milk their own country, don't they know that's only Wall Street and the MIC's prerogative. And nothing to do with the Rothschilds or the British royal family!

BTW, The Guardian, like the Saudis, having lost in Syria is now heavily backing the Saudis in their war on Iran. And Russia is still a work in progress for The Guardian.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 6:34:44 AM | 11

who is to say that MbS' coup in Riyadh is going to succeed in the end? As the Angry Arab says

This is the first Saudi ruler who is ruling without alliances within the royal family.
I don't know that one man dictatorships work in Saudi. The tribal relationships would have had to have much degraded for dictatorship to work now. Could happen a riposte from the relatives.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 7, 2017 6:47:54 AM | 12

This here is a good recount of what went wrong for the US in the Middle East.

Sounds like it is another repeat of the same.

What went wrong? The problem is two-fold. Wahhabism is an ideology of Bedouin zealots who may be adept at conquering their fellow tribesmen but who are incapable of governing a modern state. This is nothing new. It’s a problem discussed by Ibn Khaldun, the famous North African polymath, in the 14th century and by Friedrich Engels, Marx’s collaborator, in the late 19th, but the bottom line is an endlessly repetitive cycle in which nomadic fanatics rise up, overthrow a regime that has grown soft and corrupt, only to grow soft and corrupt themselves before succumbing to yet another wave of desert warriors. The result is anarchy piled on top of anarchy.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 7:25:01 AM | 13

Ghostship @10 As for Trump:

Trump speaks from experience when talking about 'milking' the public i.e. six bankrupt businesses. I have looked far and wide seeking evidence for morons outside of America. I am now thoroughly convinced: We have a monopoly on the Moron market. On a side note: Having Kushner (a hedge fund flunky) dabbling in warmongering does have my nerves on a bit of an edge!

Posted by: ger | Nov 7, 2017 7:26:47 AM | 14

add to 12

More than half of Saudi's population are under 25. Limited means to export "jihad" means the conflict turns inside. I think that is what we are seeing now.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 7:45:25 AM | 15

If there is one thing you can be sure of, it is that once the Saudi influence in Lebanon a thing from the past, the Lebanese millionaires from France, the US or Switzerland will flood back there.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 7, 2017 8:01:36 AM | 16

The weak claim regarding the Houthi missiles is that the IRGC is giving them technical assistance as if the Houthis are cavemen.

The Saudis must be convinced that the U.S. has their back against Iran because if they are stupid enough to actually get into a shooting war they would be devastated, don't they know this?

If the Saudis are dumb enough to actually strike Iran first, Iran's ballistic missile arsenal would completely ruin the KSA's oil infrastructure in a matter of days. If the Saudis fired first there is a big risk that even the U.S. might remain neutral for a week or two. The Saudis must really be sold on the Patriot anti-missile system.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Nov 7, 2017 8:02:03 AM | 17

Now Bibi and Yvet(Lieberman) are interfering:
https://twitter.com/BarakRavid/status/927629611713941505

"You need to stress that the Hariri resignation shows how dangerous Iran and Hezbollah are for Lebanon's security"

Posted by: Yul | Nov 7, 2017 8:30:28 AM | 18

OOps. sorry b , didn't see your quote about Ravid . apologies

Posted by: Yul | Nov 7, 2017 8:50:05 AM | 19

16 Sounds like Israelis are not amused about acting as Saudi proxy.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 8:53:31 AM | 20

fwiw,

An old memory popped up about Lebanon's President Michel Aoun. In Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, General Aoun claimed he had been targeted by Israeli jets for assassination.

Just saying

Posted by: librul | Nov 7, 2017 9:00:33 AM | 21

Meanwhile back in Damascus ...
breaking-militants-unleash-large-missile-strike-damascus-city-heavy-attack

Posted by: x | Nov 7, 2017 9:25:27 AM | 22

I'm just going to suggest that the inbreeding among the various royals in KSA is a factor in their mental processes. Having met around 12 or so of the lower end of their princelings, I can tell you all that two of them had no fingernails and another two had ungulate nails. Both of these are caused by inbreeding. This same proclivity to marry sisters and cousins, to keep the money in the family, throws hemophilia and reduced mental capacity offspring. Both of these are quietly kept secrets in KSA.

Anyone who has met a few will know that the majority are small in stature and share numerous physical characteristics, many of which are indicative of inbreeding at this point in time. This could very well be a factor in why KSA can be led about by others and why they often make strategically poor choices.

Never imagined that my seeing obvious inbreeding among royals while in the oil business might have a bearing on events like this, but there it is. It is perhaps of benefit to admit the possibility of MBS as an idiot, but ruthless, offspring. Then again, he could just be following suggestions from another (Kushner) idiot son-in-law.

These guys seem to run in ever smaller circles as global money is held in fewer and fewr hands.

Posted by: Oilman2 | Nov 7, 2017 9:25:55 AM | 23

19 He sure was. Aoun was responsible for Shiites being able to flee to Christian villages. He is a real leader, he made the calculation that Christians can survive in the neighbourhood only in alliance with Shiites.

The Saudi political experiment is interesting to say the least.

The government has tried to silence such sentiments by arresting clerics and warning members of the religious police not to speak publicly about the loss of their powers, according to their relatives.

All clerics interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity for fear that they, too, would be arrested for breaking with the government line.

“They did a pre-emptive strike,” one cleric said of the arrests. “All those who thought about saying no to the government got arrested.”

It defies anything I thought I knew about the foundation of monarchy. It is not military dictatorship. It is not based on ideology. Can a dictator survive exclusively on defense and interior ministry? In all likelihood advised by the US?

Prince Mutaib had been removed from his post as chief of a major security service just hours before the arrests announced late Saturday night.

...

Three White House advisers, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, returned just days ago from the latest in at least three high-level Trump administration visits to Saudi Arabia this year.
...
The Saudi-owned satellite network Al Arabiya reported only that a large number of arrests, including 11 princes, had been ordered by an “anticorruption committee” that just hours earlier had been formed under the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed. A royal decree granted the committee powers to detain individuals or seize assets without any trial, process or disclosure.
...
The history of the House of Saud was sometimes punctuated by violent intrafamily strife in the decades before the founding of the modern dynasty, in 1932. Since then, the family has maintained its unity in part by spreading its top government roles and vast oil wealth among different branches of the sprawling clan. Most important was the division of the three main security services, which constitute the hard power on the ground.
...
King Salman, however, quickly named his favorite son, Mohammed, as his defense minister, chief of the royal court, a top economic adviser and deputy crown prince. Then, this June, the king removed his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, from his position as crown prince and his powerful role of interior minister in charge of the internal security forces, secret police and counterterrorism operations. Evidently anxious to forestall resistance, the king also placed the demoted nephew under house arrest. A campaign of leaks spread rumors that he had become addicted to painkillers and other drugs.

Saudi owns the place because of Western protection. It is possible that this protection is the only power there is.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 9:34:19 AM | 24

Posted by:>>> somebody | Nov 7, 2017 8:53:31 AM | 18

16 Sounds like Israelis are not amused about acting as Saudi proxy.

How so? Seems to me that Netanyahu and Lieberman are the ones behind this whole plot and are desperate for a war against Hezbollah and Iran but with the United States as their proxy.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 9:50:36 AM | 25

I can only think that they are convinced that they can get the US involved against Iran, either in a full-scale air campaign or some kind of engineered coup.

There were some suggestions that a conflict inside the Trump admin was between people who wanted to bomb Iran (Kushner, Cohn et al) and people who either didn't or wanted to try a soft coup to bring in a secular client government. (Bannon, Flynn et al) The latter allegedly lost after the two mentioned were ousted.

Posted by: Altai | Nov 7, 2017 9:50:56 AM | 26

add to 22

The advantage of the Saudi Qatar split is that you now get knowledgable information on Saudi in English.

It is hard to see how a new hyper-modern, economically advanced kingdom is going to emerge out of backstabbing and purges, conducted at the highest level. There is no independent judiciary that can deal with corruption cases, no royal family council that can restrain the erratic young prince, and no credible organised opposition that can undermine the prince’s control over the country.

In this situation, violence looms large over the kingdom, with those capable of committing atrocities coming to occupy a vacuum created by bin Salman's autocratic rule that silences even his own cousins, let alone humble commoners with no power whatsoever to challenge him.


Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 9:52:24 AM | 27

15
So Mina, you're saying that there are Lebanese billionaires who refuse to do business in Beirut as long as the Saudis hold sway?

Posted by: Fernando Arauxo | Nov 7, 2017 9:52:26 AM | 28

Attack in Damascus would mean that the latest events are just the new escalation. Some are ready to burn the whole planet rather than seeing their own djihadists back home.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 7, 2017 10:04:23 AM | 29

HAMAT, Lebanon (Reuters) - The United States delivered two A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Lebanon’s army on Tuesday, a sign of continued U.S. support despite Israeli accusations that the Lebanese military is controlled by Hezbollah.
“The significant increase in LAF combat capability that this aircraft represents will ensure that the LAF will remain a national unifying force, a bulwark against extremism and terrorism,” said U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard.
Over the last decade, the U.S. government has invested over $1.5 billion in training and equipment, and has trained over 32,000 Lebanese troops, Richard said.
“We have recently announced another $120 million in foreign military financing, which brings the total investment in the LAF to over $160 million just this year,” she said. The United States will deliver another four Super Tucanos to Lebanon. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 7, 2017 10:12:44 AM | 30

Mina

The job isnt done yet according to these people,
as soon as Syria seems to win the war, the saudis+israel began plotting for whats next, and that is no doubt a war on
Lebanon/Syria/Iran, probably Israel will provoke Lebanon and Hezbollah would respond.
On Syria, Saudi/Israel/US? will sure end up bombing Assad if their terrorists cant do it.

Posted by: Anonymous | Nov 7, 2017 10:13:26 AM | 31

Aug 6, 2017
US Special Forces operating in Lebanon 'close to Hizballah'

US Special Forces are operating in Lebanon ahead of an imminent battle with Islamic State group militants holed up near the north-eastern border with Syria, the US department of defence has confirmed.

"I can confirm the presence of US Special Forces in Lebanon," Pentagon spokesperon Eric Pahon told US-funded Arabic television network Al-Hurra earlier this week. "Our special forces are providing training and support to the Lebanese Armed Forces," he added.

"That not only concentrates on operational type missions, but also tactical and strategic type missions. We also have a presence with Lebanese Special Forces in all aspects of training and special operations."

Given the secretive nature of the operations of the US Special Forces Command (SOCOM), the defence department spokesperson said he would not provide further details on US troops currently deployed in Lebanon. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 7, 2017 10:19:11 AM | 32

"It is even harder to understand why the U.S. and Israel support that losing move."

Money. Weapon sales to the Saudis. Check the "soaring" stocks of the MIC.
The Saudis are willing to sink gazilions in stupid, unwinnable wars. Said gazillions will end up in US hands. Why disappoint the Saudis?

Posted by: Lea | Nov 7, 2017 10:19:49 AM | 33

Studying the timeline, it looks like Israel's propaganda wave started after the MBS coup. It may simply be opportunistic, and not specifically related to MBS's actions.

Finally catching up with a Ghassan Kadi article at Saker - it appears that Hariri was already a spent force in Lebanon, that MBS loathes him and deliberately steered and watched his company go into bankruptcy.

It may be that Hariri was simply a loose end that MBS called home a day before the long knives to make sure he was included too. Israel jumped on this with its propaganda support, followed by lapdog al-Sabhan and the western media, but no leverage was actually exerted on Lebanon because Nasrallah and Aoun defeated that move. They will presumably defeat the future moves as well.

Whether MBS cares about any of this is an open point. Probably several parties of interest (Israel, CIA) knew of these events before they happened, but what is actually in MBS's mind is something I suspect he keeps to himself. Two schools of thought exist, one that MBS is trying to restore anti-Hezbollah governance in Lebanon, and two that he actually is giving up on Lebanon and turning to Russia and China for a bigger future, essentially walking away from small-time meddling in the ME.

Andrew Korybho and Adam Garrie at the Duran lean to this second school. The native Middle East commentators lean to the first - but I have often thought they overestimate the power of the bad guys, which we in the west tend to see as waning and frequently inept.

Either way, as we saw so clearly with Erdogan, people don't just shift course overnight. Partly they have to evolve their own thinking over time, and partly they have dogs in play they have to throw bones to. The first few months of a strategic turn are filled with tactical contradictions. Eventually, old plays run down, new plays arise in the new direction.

I would like to see how MBS is going to get out of Yemen. Russia and Iran could help him do that. If that's the direction he's going. He's back in the money, and on top of the world, and the petro-Yuan is coming.

Or else he's a young fool and will die before he ever learns.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 7, 2017 10:25:47 AM | 34

It is hard to understand why they would want to repeat that experience in Lebanon. It is even harder to understand why the U.S. and Israel support that losing move.

is it really that hard
that hard understanding really really.


maybe failure is baked into the cake
what is balkanise
what is gang counter gang and pseudo gang
what is chatham house
who set up the dualing banjos
the satanic retards in israhell and donmeh house of saudi
saudi was always kosher my boy

david sterling hit and run
general frank kitson heggalian shadow puppet show

the rapist can work harder and better on the weak and shell shocked
the child rapists of london,washington and tel aviv do nor need to win wars
big money in failed statelets

Posted by: charles de drake | Nov 7, 2017 10:27:32 AM | 35

27,29

It sounds more like the Syrian army mopping up the 'deescalation zones' and some people fighting back.

There are 420,000 people living in 10 besieged areas in Syria, with the vast majority in Eastern Ghouta and facing severe problems to receive enough food.

WFP said that the only entry point to the besieged enclave, the Al-Wafideen checkpoint, was fully closed, which caused less humanitarian access and doubled food price in the area.

This here is the Astana disagreement.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 10:28:58 AM | 36

Talk about poxy proxy wars...
It's becoming increasingly obvious that Bibi's Fear & Loathing of Lebanon's Hezbollah is a mirror image of AmeriKKKa's Fear & Loathing of North Korea's Nukes and ICBMs.
Hezbollah scares the crap out of the back-stabbing Israelis,
and
NK's Nukes scare the crap out of the back-stabbing AmeriKKKans.

Putin has already reminded the Christian Colonials that they're pissing into the wind if they think NK will give up the only thing that's keeping their future safe, underlining NK's stance by speculating that they'd rather eat grass than give up their Nukes.
Maybe Vlad should phone Bibi and give him a similar lecture about pissing into the wind re Hezbollah.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 7, 2017 10:37:16 AM | 37

One wonders whether a military attack on Hezbollah will put Russia in an 'awkward' position? I assume that Hezbollah went to Syria at Assad's, rather than Vlad's, request. Nevertheless they were approved by, and helping, Russia and shedding blood for the same cause. So I doubt that Russia would look the other way if Hezbollah is attacked by the ppl responsible for the Syria SNAFU. I'm nurturing the concept of Russia providing Hezbollah with state-of-the-art targeting info and feedback. If necessary...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 7, 2017 11:02:10 AM | 38

>>>> ger | Nov 7, 2017 7:26:47 AM | 13

We have a monopoly on the Moron market.

Sorry but I think you rate American politicians far too highly. Formally (and formerly) a moron has an IQ between 51 and 70 which seems far too high for many American politicians, you need to start thinking in terms of imbeciles (IQ between 26 and 50) and idiots (IQ between 0 and 25).
As for other countries, they have their share of moronic politicians. For example, Cameron, Johnson, May and Fallon here in the UK. Perhaps, there is an explanation there, as they're all conservative politicians so it's easy to see why the United States has the worse problem, both major parties are conservative and so they're all at least morons. However, I would respectfully suggest that all Republicans are imbeciles with idiots in the White House.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 11:08:03 AM | 39

reply to:Posted by: Reto Rietberg | Nov 7, 2017 5:44:57 AM | 5
on your question re what will happen to the SA billionaire hostages; IMO as the Prince has already confiscated all of their assets I see a single private trial of all of them at one time for treason and a mass beheading. The Prince has to move fast and he is not long on finesse.

Posted by: frances | Nov 7, 2017 11:23:17 AM | 40

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when MBS rolled out his master plan:

"Ok, so in order to get back at Hizbullah, we'll make Hariri get on a plane, fly here, resign on Saudi tv, lock him and his family up, then operly declare war on Lebanon, and then the Lebanese will love us!"

Such is the hubris of khaliji privilege. I disagree with those at the Duran who think this is some sort of retreat from Lebanon by the Saudis. The Saudis don't have a reverse gear, all they know is to double done and dig faster. They might flee but retreat, no.

What is surprising me most is the reaction among March 14 (Hariri as allies) supporters. Many Lebanese will support their chosen politician no matter what they do; this seems to be the exception in this case because dissent and criticism are rife. Hariri and his Future Movement are being utterly humiliated in the eyes of their constituents, and people are for once angry. Hariri's coffin as a politician is nailed shut.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Nov 7, 2017 11:32:36 AM | 41

Frances @38

I too suspect that the young Prince doesn’t want these people to ever be free to plot against him.

An alQueda or ISIS attack on the hotel that now holds dozens of high-value targets would allow the prince to escape blame. Such an attack on Visiting Day would kill people also kill people who are closest to those being detained.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 7, 2017 11:40:26 AM | 42

re 38 and 40

In this vein, he has to go after the offsprings of the detained and bury them too.

Machiavel would turn in his coffin if MBS does not do so as in letting these live,
he guarantees himself more and more ruthless opposition and hatred.

Still this is a very delicate time for MBS and he has to thread a very fine line.

Taking on enemies at home and abroad at the same time goes against the core
of Sun Tzu's teachings and is a guarantee of failure.

But surely time ahead are going to be very interesting, indeed.

Posted by: CarlD | Nov 7, 2017 11:56:21 AM | 43

...
and idiots (IQ between 0 and 25).
...
Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 11:08:03 AM | 37

Also known as cretins.

Urban Dictionary...
Cretin: A Person that is: brainless, stupid, child-like, and full of pointless information that makes no sense and appeals only to other cretins.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 7, 2017 11:57:48 AM | 44

Hmm...Lots of irons in many fires. Mercouris at The Duran thinks MbS's moves mark the initiation of a Saudi Civil War, and he cites past purges as examples, with his item being just one of quite a few, http://theduran.com/crisis-in-saudi-arabia-first-shots-in-a-civil-war/ I see The Duran has picked up an important article published by Zerohedge, SouthFront, and initially published by Israel's Channel 10 News, on the Zionist's coordination of strategy with MbS's actions, http://theduran.com/leaked-cable-confirms-israel-and-saudi-arabia-coordination-to-start-a-middle-east-war/

Oil will likely break $70 by the weekend, with the potential to return to $100 by New Year's day, an obvious boon for Saudi's fiscal crisis, which probably couldn't have been engineered any other way--those Short had to be presented with a situation dire enough that they could quickly lose their positions. Without Saudi participation again, it will be impossible for the Outlaw US Empire to manipulate the oil price down again in order to keep pressure on Venezuela's economy, the Russian economy having proven to be resilient enough. Funny in the end that it was the Saudis who proved to have the least resilient economy to their market manipulations.

Lebanon has politically matured since its Civil War thanks to the 2006 Zionist invasion and Hezbollah's outstanding service to the Lebanese people. Hezbollah also proved well beyond the shadow of doubt to the Lebanese populous that it was the Zionists who assassinated the elder Hariri, which certainly helped with the nation's political reconciliation. Further resiliency was made possible by Hezbollah teaming with the LAF to eliminate the large terrorist enclave along the border with Syria, and of course Hezbollah's conduct in Syria. That Lebanon's remained calm then comes as no surprise to me. Hariri's supposedly been allowed to return so his resignation can become official, but that's not confirmed. Saudi ending its commercial relations with Lebanon merely creates opportunities for Iran, China, Russia and others to exploit from which Lebanon will benefit more than before. And the artificial anti-Syria sentiment fueled by Saudi, CIA and Zionist monies that found support from Hariri will wither and the previous, longstanding association between Syria and Lebanon will see a rebirth.

Aside from getting oil price to rebound rapidly, I see the MbS gambit as 100% Folly whose outcome is very uncertain, other than strengthening Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. And now that the somewhat hidden collusion between the Zionists and Saudi's been revealed, Saudi will lose more friends within the Umma, which is a good thing, IMO.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 7, 2017 12:29:08 PM | 45

I think Saudi Arabia has large investments in the West. If that government is overthrown those investments may be seized as Iran's were after the Shah was deposed.

Posted by: Edward | Nov 7, 2017 12:32:27 PM | 46

>>>> Don Wiscacho | Nov 7, 2017 11:32:36 AM | 39

I think you're mistaken and this is actually Netanyahu's master plan. It's certainly stupid enough to be Netanyahu's but far too complicated for the al Sauds whose plans almost always consist of articulated trucks delivering loads of high denomination dollar bills to their co-conspirators.

The Saudis are now claiming that the missile that fell near Riyadh recently was of Iranian manufacture and fired by Hezbollah, Netanyahu's two pet hates of all time.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 12:32:37 PM | 47

Hoarsewhisperer

Of course Russia wouldnt militarly involve themselves in war between Israel/Lebanon/Syria/Iran/Saudiarabia.

Posted by: Anonymous | Nov 7, 2017 12:42:24 PM | 48

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 7, 2017 11:57:48 AM | 42

From Wikipedia:

A cretin is someone who suffers from cretinism. Cretinism is a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth owing to untreated congenital deficiency of thyroid hormone (congenital hypothyroidism) usually owing to maternal hypothyroidism. This has been almost completely eliminated in developed countries by early diagnosis by newborn screening schemes followed by lifelong treatment with thyroxine. What afflicts conservative politicians is also congenital but can't be treated by administering any known drug.

BTW, Priti Patel has become the latest British conservative politician to demonstrate that she's a moron.

The prime minister’s spokesman said a conversation had taken place between Patel and Israeli officials after it was reported that she had suggested funnelling money to the country’s armed forces.

The spokesman said: “The secretary of state did discuss potential ways to provide medical support for Syrian refugees who are wounded and who cross into the Golan for aid. The Israeli army runs field hospitals there to care for Syrians wounded in the civil war.

I thought that most Syrians treated by the Israeli are fighter from Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Given who she met with in secret in Israel, it's becoming apparent that Netanyahu is a carrier of this withering disease who has alreay infected Jared Kushner.

Cretin: A Person that is: brainless, stupid, child-like, and full of pointless information that makes no sense and appeals only to other cretins.
You're not suggesting that Mr Carrot Head is a cretin?

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 7, 2017 12:54:39 PM | 49

@ 34, Re: the Astana meeting disagreement and postponement. It really is about a meeting in Sochi that was scheduled for Nov. 18.

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/05/541131/Turkey-Syria-talks-Russia

Your link maybe misleading info.

‘Sochi’ Agenda Reveals Dispute Between Moscow, Damascus and Tehran

The disagreement is between Turkey and Russia over Kurds attending the meeting.

PYD had been invited by Russia. Turkey balked.

Russia is trying for all parties and stakeholders in these talks. It opens the way for obstructions, but in most cases does not lead to breakdowns or setbacks.

Here's another article with other developments around the meetings of all sides.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/11/russia-summit-syria-astana-opposition-influence-un.html

Posted by: Red Ryder | Nov 7, 2017 1:00:32 PM | 50

@36 Horsewhisperer,

Russia would work with Hezbollah outside Syria through IRGC. Indirection is the route they'd take.

That leaves them free to bullshit the Israelis at their own game.

Actually, all needs of Hezbollah will be from Iran to Syria and IRGC. Maybe some Intel support from RF MOD.

Whatever Hezbollah needs, Hezbollah will get. They proxy for Iran, Syria and Russia when needed.

Their successes inside Lebanon against al Nusra and ISIS presents a dilemma for the US who works with the Lebanese military. Michel Aoun and Hezbollah work well politically and militarily in defense of Lebanon.

War as the Israelis and Arabs might want seems very hard to mount in 2017-2018. They have no large enough proxy to throw at Hezbollah, much less at Iranian militias and PMUs.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Nov 7, 2017 1:09:15 PM | 51

thanks b and to others for the many informative comments..

Posted by: james | Nov 7, 2017 1:12:08 PM | 52

Prita Patel would have given Israel aid.Guardian.Hindu?

Posted by: dahoit | Nov 7, 2017 1:33:04 PM | 53

Interesting, ref Waleed bin Talal
Al-Waleed was born in Jeddah on 7 March 1955 to Prince Talal and Mona Al Solh, daughter of Riad Al Solh (Lebanon's first prime minister). His father was Saudi Arabia’s finance minister during the early 1960s, before he went into exile due to his advocacy for political reform. Al-Waleed's grandmother was an Armenian, Munaiyir, whose family escaped the Armenian Genocide. She was presented by the emir of Unayza to Ibn Saud in 1921, when she was 12 years old and Ibn Saud was 45.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 7, 2017 1:38:41 PM | 54

I would love for Russia to throw a spanner in these dirty works by including Lebanon under Syrias air defense shield,and taking away Israels favorite bully move and only semi successful tactic from 2006

Posted by: Roy G | Nov 7, 2017 1:58:14 PM | 55

The Nutty - MBS plan seem to rely on drawing in the US to destroy hezbolla/lebonese defences.
US heavily involved in the planning through Krushner but I suspect MBS will e left swinging in the breeze.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 7, 2017 2:24:58 PM | 56

@38 A mass beheading would be a spectacular way to open the Riyadh Stock Exchange. People would be flocking to invest.

Posted by: dh | Nov 7, 2017 2:44:05 PM | 57

The "leaked" Israeli cables is interesting. Obtained by and Israeli reporter in Israel. Nutty being undermined from within?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 7, 2017 2:50:43 PM | 58

@53 Russian ECM and S-400 presence in Tartus effectively provides a no-fly zone over Lebanon.

Posted by: Fecund Stench | Nov 7, 2017 3:18:10 PM | 59

And now KSA has stated that the missile the Houthis fired at Riyadh was Iranian, and was a "direct aggression" that could be considered "an act of war."

Human Rights Watch wasted no time to call it a "possible war crime."

The US UN Embarrasor, Nikki Haley said Iran providing such weapons is a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions.

And the beat goes on.... with the war drums picking up their tempo.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 7, 2017 3:38:40 PM | 60

Oh wait - here goes the French at the UNSC

https://twitter.com/franceonu/status/927997538577379329

Pile of Crapola when no one was able to get there since it was and still is too dangerous.
Wonder who Nikki is entertaining in her salon at the Waldorf

Posted by: Yul | Nov 7, 2017 3:46:45 PM | 61

@ 51 Priti Patel

Hindu -Gujrati from Uganda : parents moved to UK before her birth.
Now like Nikki, brown-noses the Israelis

Posted by: Yul | Nov 7, 2017 3:48:43 PM | 62

somebody | Nov 7, 2017 10:28:58 AM | 34

Thanks for posting total bunk...

From a London-based 'pan-Arab' rag...

Like we are supposed to be dumb enough to believe that there is some kind of 'conflict' now between Damascus and Tehran on one side...and the Kremlin on the other...

As if...anyone who knows anything knows this is turning the truth on its head...

If there are any ruffles it is between Damascus and Tehran...as Israel Shamir reports...

'...My Arab friend visited Damascus, his native city, and he observed that the Syrians greatly prefer Russians to Persians, as the Persians do interfere and indoctrinate, as opposed to Russians.

'...Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a great fighting force, try to turn the Alawites and other similar religious communities into good Iranian-style Shias...'

http://www.unz.com/ishamir/a-soft-landing-in-the-middle-east/

The take from that London rag on Sochi is utter disinfo...

Here is a much more credible take on the upcoming Sochi...

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/11/04/israeli-saudi-tandem-adjusts-to-syria-loss/

Posted by: flankerbandit | Nov 7, 2017 3:50:24 PM | 63

anyone remembers the anouncement of the first US military base (or whatever) in Israel some weeks ago ?

What will happen if it is attacked in a real or more likely staged event of any kind,which surely will blamed on hezbollah.....?

Wouldn't this eventually summon NATO partners (which all would definately be just too happy for another show to distract their sheeple at home while preparing their domestic nwo agendas) into the scenario.....


Posted by: youss | Nov 7, 2017 4:18:01 PM | 64

61 From what I see Russia is trying to mediate between Turkey, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

This Sochi opposition conference is neither Syria's nor Iran's idea.

This here is Iran's - Velayati's - statement

Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, also accused the United States of seeking to divide Syria by stationing its forces east of the Euphrates river.

“We will witness in the near future the advance of government and popular forces in Syria and east of the Euphrates, and the liberation of Raqqa city,” he said in televised comments on a visit to Beirut.


Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 4:45:32 PM | 65

@61 flankerbandit, thanks for the consortium link

I thought that this statement by Ibrahim Karagul, a Turkish political commentator and an authoritative voice of President Erdogan was interesting.

""You will see, the ‘moderate Islam’ announcement will be immediately followed by a sudden and unexpected strengthening of Arab nationalism. This wave will not differentiate between Shiite or Sunni Arabs, but it will isolate the Muslim Arab world from the entire Muslim world.""

I don't see a strengthening of Arab nationalism as being bad or isolating Arab Muslims.

I think both Sadam Hussein and Bashar Assad were/are Arab nationalists in the sense that they wanted their countries to be free of western influence. They were more secular than sectarian and wanted their local resources to be used locally. Could even be called Arab socialism.

Of the 3 groups, Iran, Turkey and Hezbollah, I see Hezbollah as most fitting within this Arab socialism group of being more secular, similar also to Gaddafi in Libya.

It's interesting that the US/Israel/Saudi Arabia axis is focusing on Hezbollah. These groups with a secular/socialist bent seem to be the most threatening to US financial hegemony.

Posted by: financial matters | Nov 7, 2017 5:15:33 PM | 66

@38 A mass beheading would be a spectacular way to open the Riyadh Stock Exchange. People would be flocking to invest.
Posted by: dh | Nov 7, 2017 2:44:05 PM | 55
Well he does need to keep the disgruntled in line and there is nothing quite like a mass beheading is there? And as for the IPO, well not that he has something close to a trillion dollars in seized assets, he can wait until the oil prices go though the roof and then decide where, when or if to do an IPO. Now Trump may have given the Prince all the info to execute this coup on the understanding that the US would get the IPO among many other things.
But the Prince would be a fool to do so given the US ongoing effort to attach blame for 9/11 to SA working its way through the courts which with a win means immediate seizure of all SA US assets. If he has any sense at all he should sell off all US assets. This assumes he lasts long enough.

Posted by: frances | Nov 7, 2017 5:20:41 PM | 67

64 Hezbollah is led by a pragmatic Shiite cleric and is definitely neither secular nor socialist.

The Arab nationalist card would exclude Turkey, that is what Karagul is talking about. Islamism would include Turkey (and Iran) but threaten Saudi Arabia as it has no room for monarchy.

More on the Russian conference "under preparations"

“We are currently harmonizing the agenda, dates and other organizational aspects of the Congress” with Turkey and Iran - guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire alongside Russia, the minister said, as cited by TASS.

Are Turkish proxies the same as Saudi proxies? I wonder.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 7, 2017 5:47:01 PM | 68

@64 financial matters

Hizbullah a secular socialist entity? Are you for real? You do realise that the name Hiz b Allah means the Party of God? It is led by his excellency Syed Hassan Nasrallah, a Shia clegyman. No, the USraelis are not gunning for Hisbullah because they are socialist, they are gunning for them because they are a highly disciplined organisation, deeply rooted in Lebanon, whose determination and professionalism has now twice expelled the entity from most of Lebanon. The Zionists fear them especially because they have shown that Israel can be defeated, that it is in fact, just like it's main sponsor, a paper tiger.

I believe if there is a war on Lebanon and Hizbullahs rockets start raining down on Israel, you will see a great exodus of the soft young Israelis to Europe and the US. They are only good for oppressing unarmed men women and children. We saw how they whined in 2006 when Hisbullah handed them their asses. And Hizbullah today, after their experience in Syria, are a much more battled hardened fighting machine. The writing is on the wall for the Apartheid state, that's if we don't see the outbreak of Armageddon in the near future, when the writing will be on the wall for all of us.

Posted by: Razor | Nov 7, 2017 6:14:44 PM | 69

@62 youss.. that's like an israel-usa kind of wet dream.. always makes me think about whose doing the dreaming.. but alas - another false flag can always be run up the pole... they would have to use someone other then the white helmets for this though, lol...

@64 financial matters.. how does hezbollah threaten usa-israel-ksa finances though? i don't see it, unless we talk about lebannon resources and etc that israel has designs on. i see israel-ksa wanting a war on iran - for all the wrong reasons, and i see trump being able to either lead his country, or listen to his chicken hawks (which would include mbs and netanyahoo).. i am not sure where he falls in all this at this point.. he seems mostly driven by money and money only and he is completely unpredictable.. maybe jared kushner will offer him some modern orthodox jewish words of wisdom, lol...

i can't see mbs lasting long, but i have been wrong on erdogan when i said the same thing.. i just don't think mbs has the instincts erdogan has, but i could be wrong.. the set up is different.. saudi arabia seems much more fragile then turkey at this point..

Posted by: james | Nov 7, 2017 6:23:33 PM | 70

Razor 67

Most species of god bother can exist alongside other species and athiests and agnostics without constantly attempting to chop their heads off. I consider these to be secular and Hezbolla fits the secular catagory. Secular does not mean ecumenical or non denominational nor athiest

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 7, 2017 6:44:26 PM | 71

@69 PeterAU

From your post it seems to me that the word you're struggling to find is tolerant, not secular. Secular can not be used to describe a party and movement that is inspired by religious faith and calls itself the Party of God. That would be absurd.

Posted by: Razor | Nov 7, 2017 7:01:49 PM | 72

There is another more positive scenario about the crackdown on saudi princes and the removal of an anti-Syrian PM in Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia has publicly blamed Qatar for supporting Islamist terrorists. In return Qatar was about to make public a list of the Saudi princes and Saudi private companies and organizations that are secretly funding ISIS and other Islamist extremist. Trump has been very firm about stopping the funding of ISIS.
Having been informed about that list and using the pretext of corruption, MBS has stopped and eliminated these princes as well as taking control of their assets before Qatar's publicized the names.

As a result we may see a slowing down of Islamist extremists activities worldwide because their funding has be cut.

As for Hariri's detention, Saudi Arabia is making a U-turn on Syria. It now want Bashar al Assad back in the Arab League it is ready to fund the reconstruction Syria provided that Bashar al Assad distanciate himself from Iran.
Therefore Saudi Arabia prefers a Sunni Syria man in Lebanon as a PM so it facilitates the new friendship with Syria. Hariri is not the man as he hates Syria having accused Bashar al assad of the murder of is father. He therefore must be replaced now by a lebanese sunni friend of Syria.

With Bashar al Assad, MBS will put the blame of the destruction of Syria by the Islamist terrorists attacks in Syria on the "damned princes". Now that ISIS and its supporters are eliminated then Syria and Saudi Arabia may be friend again and the shadow of Iran receding.
The question is: Will Bashar al Assad buy this sudden offer of sympathy from a country that has not stopped insulting him and threatening?
In politics all is possible...

Posted by: Virgile | Nov 7, 2017 7:30:15 PM | 73

Tried to do the financials on the Saudi's oil money - their cost of production is about $10 a barrel, so at $50 a barrel gross, and 10 million barrels per day, it's about $150 billion a year in disposable income, at current prices. Where does this money go?
(1) US Treasury bonds. That's the heart of the petrodollar recycling system. The Saudis are unlikely to dump these bonds no matter what happens; this makes the notion of new alliances with Russia and China verty unlikely. However, open bidding on contracts, arms sales?

By virtue of its vast oil riches, the Saudi kingdom is widely believed to be one of the biggest owners of U.S. debt. But there's a lot of mystery over exactly how much. The Saudi central bank is sitting on an incredible $584 billion of foreign currency reserves, but doesn't disclose how much of that is parked in U.S. Treasuries.

(2) Private contracts for foreign firms largely US and British ones. Arms sales can be lumped into this category. Generally wasteful, overpriced, not bid out to Russians or Chinese on a competitive basis.
(3) Wahhabist ideological promotion (which keeps the religious establishment in favor of the House of Saud). Here is where global jihadi terrorist financing comes from:
"The money goes to constructing and operating mosques and madrassas that preach radical Wahhabism. The money also goes to training imams; media outreach and publishing; distribution of Wahhabi textbooks, and endowments to universities and cultural centers."

(4) Allowances for Saudi princelings - Their numbers have increased from 4,000 in 1997 to 15,000 today. Add in hanger-ons, there might be 150,000 Saudis with direct ties to the royal allowances (out of a population of 32 million):
"The sale of oil provides billions of dollars in annual allowances, public-sector sinecures and perks for royals, the wealthiest of whom own French chateaus and Saudi palaces, stash money in Swiss bank accounts, wear couture dresses under their abayas and frolic on some of the world’s biggest yachts out of sight of commoners."

However, a large portion of the Saudi public lives in abject poverty, and the army of foreign slave laborers are even worse off. If that oil money, even half of it, was instead devoted to raising the standard of living for the Saudi public, well, that could easily double the average Saudi household income. While MBS claims to be interested in reforms and development, he's swallowed the neoliberal Kool-Aid put out by economic hitmen consultants like McKinsey & Co - a Thatcherite Revolution will fix his problems, he thinks.

As far as the aggressive militant stance towards Yemen, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq? It could just be a desperation move. All these countries have moved to a more democratic system of government, with some degree of parliamentary power, relative to the executive monarchies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This is also a threat to Israel, whose claim to be 'the only democracy in the Middle East' is ever-more ludicrous (Lebanon seems far more democratic than Israel).

The only solution for a "stable and secure" Saudi Arabia is a transition to parliamentary democracy... but then, the new Saudi government would cut the allowances for the Royals, and open up bidding contracts to the Russians and the Chinese, instead of going exclusively to the US and Britain, and might cut way, way back on arms deals (since much of that machinery they purchase apparently just rusts unused in the desert).

MBZ is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The fall of the House of Saud is inevitable. The only question is, will they go out like the British crown, or like the French crown?

Posted by: nonsense factory | Nov 7, 2017 7:44:35 PM | 74

financial matters | Nov 7, 2017 5:15:33 PM |

Absolutely agree...well said...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Nov 7, 2017 9:01:16 PM | 75

I sense a reflexive aversion to anything to do with the word 'socialism'...

Heaven forbid we should only have socialism for Wall Street, the MIC and the filthy rich...

@64s comment was spot on...

Saddam's Iraq had lots of socialist charcteristics...ie health care...education...etc...

Kadafi's Libya even more so...

Hizb'Alla is certainly socialist in many such respects as well...taking care of the people...which is the key to its grassroots support...

Without which it would be nothing...

socialism and religion are not mutually exclusive...even if some book by someone says so somewhere...

Kudos to 'financial matters' for making a great observation...


Posted by: flankerbandit | Nov 7, 2017 9:08:22 PM | 76

Razor 70

A religious organisation with a secular/worldly outlook on how they fit into the world.
This is what surprised me about some of Nasrullah's speechs that I have seen.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 7, 2017 9:27:16 PM | 77

From Razor @67:
"I believe if there is a war on Lebanon and Hizbullahs rockets start raining down on Israel, you will see a great exodus of the soft young Israelis to Europe and the US. "

I think you're quite right. Remember Gaza in 2014? Cheering crowds of Zio-scum "war tourists" having tailgate parties watching babies being burned alive or crushed and dismembered.

But after IDF sent in ground troops, as soon as their precious Israeli "most moral army on earth" started having their lifeless bodies placed into the earth, there was much "weeping and gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes" by the frightened supremacists.

All bullies are the same. And all supremacists have the emotional and mental makeup of stereotypical juvenile boys. They think they know better than anyone, and are immortal. But once their mortality is laid bare before them, they go crying to their mommies.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 7, 2017 9:34:17 PM | 78

karlof1@43 - "...I see The Duran has picked up an important article published by Zerohedge, SouthFront, and initially published by Israel's Channel 10 News, on the Zionist's coordination of strategy with MbS's actions..."

Awww... not even tossing a bone to yours, truly? Check the timestamp on my comment @62 yesterday on the open thread.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 7, 2017 9:46:48 PM | 79

@ flankerbandit who writes of socialism

I grew up in Tacoma, Washington with an uncle who was an engineer for the local public utility that has been owned by the public since 1893.

America is/was full of socialism but it has become a "bad" word/concept.

Sorry for adding to the OT

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 7, 2017 9:51:36 PM | 80

Speaking of indoctrination - we should question why we would think socialism is the abnormality instead of the norm. And we should question why we think an army that worships its god embodies a contradiction.

Perhaps we embody the contradictions, and the world is actually just fine.

Socialism is the natural tendency of societies. It has to be trained out of them by unnatural means. We end up with western capitalist plunder, and wonder why we are surprised that sane and viable societies around the world seem to exhibit "socialist" traits. As if these traits were the alien notion on this earth, and not our capitalist indoctrination.

"Religious" groups can also be secular. The natural state of people is to marvel at the obvious sacredness of the world. Members of different religions, who worship different gods, even so share the common human experience of worship.

Just as socialism is normal, outside of an artificial training to degradation, just so can one of the greatest fighting armies of the world name itself after the worship of its god, and have a sacred cause without being a "religious" group.

It's not off-topic to clarify these things. We are off-topic to spend time in detour on these cultural mis-perceptions, as if our indoctrinations are real.

Posted by: Grieved | Nov 7, 2017 10:28:31 PM | 81

Pepe Escobar once again does an excellent analysis of the Saudi situation.

http://www.atimes.com/article/inside-story-saudi-night-long-knives//

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 7, 2017 10:57:06 PM | 82

This documentary on YT is about the Shias of Lebanon. About an hour long, but it has interviews with Christian priests/leaders and delves into the relationship between the Christian and Shia communities of Lebanon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLKR8TnzUO8

Posted by: Dalvash | Nov 7, 2017 11:18:30 PM | 83

@ above comments on the socialist/secular vs. theocratic monarchy divide in the Middle East, that's right on the money (@flankerbandit and others)

It's really clear if you compare Norway and Saudi Arabia. (Being half Norwegian myself, I like this comparison). Norway has great employment, services, economic development, a big wealth fund financed by oil - so why isn't Saudi Arabia more like Norway?

Well, Norway doesn't do the bidding of Wall Street and London, it doesn't need a foreign overlord to tell it what to do. Take that $150 billion a year in oil profits that Saudi Arabia generates. They could be Norway - but they're under the colonial heel.

The whole gist I was aiming for in the above comment is this: if you distributed the profits from Saudi oil ($150 billion) to the 32 million Saudi public evenly, that's about $4,500 a year per person. Per household, (6 people average), that's $27,000 per household, and people in poverty in Saudi Arabia today make about 1/3 of that.

Always, the deal the "Outlaw US Empire" as karlofi calls it, offers, is to prop up a small group of rulers who live in wealth and luxury in their client state while the majority of the citizens live in poverty. Chad, Niger, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, it's always the same. You can pay them (the 'rulers') off with $1 billion a year in exchange for controlling the other $99 billion in revenues. What a nice return on investment, right? That's the heart, the core, of the imperial system. You might have to spend $10 billion on arms and military actions, or more, but that's a cash cow as well, often extracted from the American taxpayer ($5 trillion in Iraq?), to the imperial overlords (the 1% at home) who benefit from Empire.

Now, Norway, that's a good model for Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. Notice how Norway is not beholden to the United States and Britain, nor to Russia, or to China? So the Middle East should tell those actors to piss off, we've got this. . . That's what the Arab Spring was trying to do.

Posted by: nonsense factory | Nov 7, 2017 11:25:24 PM | 84

@ nonsesnse factory who limited his extrapolation of the Norway model to just SA

The US could spend money on other than the MIC, etc. We do represent, unfortunately, the concentration of the malady that faces our species.

Thanks for sharing that there are other ways that governments can be made to work.....the rest of the world just needs the collective will to force change.

May the forces of human empire continue to fall flat on their collective faces.....pass the popcorn!

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 7, 2017 11:57:11 PM | 85

slightly ot... the daily usa press briefing.. some arsenic with your lunch, lol...

"QUESTION: But given – given the Saudi role in that --

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- and given the Saudi role in the war in Yemen, does the State Department not have some concerns that the current Saudi policies are themselves contributing to destabilization?

MS NAUERT: I think we know exactly where the responsibility lies in the region for much of the destabilization, and we’ve seen the activities of Iran. We’ve seen the activities of Iran in Yemen. We’ve seen the hand of Iran in Syria. We’ve seen the hand of Iran elsewhere. Where Iran – where Iran’s government – and I should be clear about saying that because we don’t take issue with the Iranian people. We take issue with the government of Tehran. Where they show up, trouble tends to follow. Okay.

QUESTION: This sounds like full support for everything Saudi is doing.

MS NAUERT: Look, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying let’s recognize the region that they are in. Let’s recognize the destabilizing factors that are in that region.""

yemen - it is all irans fault, lol.. saudi arabia and uae - free ride in the usa...

Posted by: james | Nov 8, 2017 12:00:34 AM | 86

more....

" QUESTION: Do you see the Saudis as your partner in containing Iranian influence in Iraq through things like paying for reconstruction?

MS NAUERT: I think we have – we have some shared interests, and we have some shared interests in terms of terrorism, and fighting terrorism, and recognizing the malign influence of Iran in the region and around the world and other terror groups. We would like to see peace and stability in Iraq. We’d like to see peace and stability in Syria and elsewhere. And I think to the extent that we can work together with Saudi Arabia and with other nations, then we’re better off as a result.

Okay? "

got it.. iran = terrorists... saudi arabia / wahabbi death cult = we can work with them...

Posted by: james | Nov 8, 2017 12:04:46 AM | 87

@72 Nonsense factory

let me give you some color

Although Saudi Arabia produces nothing economically viable, has a population of 25mil, sports only 4 cities that can be called that and is mostly only desert, they consume as much oil as Germany.... not per capita, but in absolute terms.

Saudi Arabia no longer produces Light Sweet Crude. All they have left is Heavy Sour Crude. This fact, combined with a global shift in investments towards natural gas that are outpacing investments in oil, should result in a valuation for Saudi Aramco that is lower than most people expect.... and assuming the company has not been plundered yet...

The Saudi Population is mostly illiterate. Even the wealthy members of Saudi society that have studied overseas and spend considerable amounts of time in the West are, by and large, thoroughly incompetent and useless from the productive point of view. The majority of Saudi children that go to private schools in Saudi Arabia, have their slaves take exams on their behalf. By and large, due to the "Saudification" drive of the past 20 years, Saudis are hired by law in various positions. Even when they actually show up for "work" however, they do not participate to the task at hand and rarely complete a full 9 hours presence on site.

g

Posted by: guidoamm | Nov 8, 2017 12:45:55 AM | 88

karlof1 @ 43: Yep, if the price of oil rises, would be a definite boon for Venezuela. They need economic relief from the empires financial attacks.

fm @ 64 said:" It's interesting that the US/Israel/Saudi Arabia axis is focusing on Hezbollah. These groups with a secular/socialist bent seem to be the most threatening to US financial hegemony."

You bet, the corporate empire will brook no interference from any other economic system that isn't their brand of rapacious capitalism that enriches the few, at the expense of the many.

Posted by: ben | Nov 8, 2017 12:52:06 AM | 89

@43 Karlof1 Good post I echo the sentiment, every move we see from KSA/US/IS/GCC (Minus Qatar) tend to reinforce the positions of the resistance (Syria/Iraq/Hezb/Yemen/Iran + Russia) but out of desperation comes madness and most empires crash down rather then soft-land so there lies great danger, one step too far and the power keg blows..

Posted by: Lozion | Nov 8, 2017 1:09:17 AM | 90

nonsense factory @82

"...Norway doesn't do the bidding of Wall Street and London...Notice how Norway is not beholden to the United States and Britain, nor to Russia, or to China?"

Are you sure about that? Try walking away from NATO. Overall, Norway isn't considered essential by TPTB when compared to Saudi Arabia. I agree that the Saudis have made a huge mistake in not looking after the needs of their citizens like other nations. Unfortunately, they live in a region that is considered valuable to many foreign powers. TPTB will not tolerate a strategic nation to have any sort of independence.

Posted by: Ian | Nov 8, 2017 1:14:56 AM | 91

Re socialism and US attacks on socialist countries.
In a socialist country the government will virtualy always own natural monopolies. This is what wall street would like to get its hands on.
Natural monopolies or other sectors that can be controlled by a small cartel to form a monoply are in demand by wall street.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 8, 2017 1:31:01 AM | 92

Forget me.

Posted by: semano | Nov 8, 2017 1:38:10 AM | 93

When I say wall street in my post @90, it is more a generic term. It covers all who ride the crest of US winner takes all ideology.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 8, 2017 3:07:25 AM | 94

Ian 89
As an AUSTRALIAN I can second Ian's assertion that key geo-strategic points and pivots - like my Island continent straddling the Indian and Pacific oceans are ruthlessly and effectively kept congruent with U S Imperial interests by both the 'carrot and the stick'.
For Australia the issue of conflict is going to be China's - in future - bigger carrot

Posted by: ashley albanese | Nov 8, 2017 3:35:20 AM | 95

ashley albanese 93

All we can do is hope for a US collapse. US intelligence holds the balance of power in Aus politics, plus a number of Australians seem to give their loyalty to the US and its ideology. To the US, Australia is not much more than a forwards military base. If they start a war and lose, and have to run home, there will be some very pissed off people and geneva conventions may not apply.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 8, 2017 3:58:48 AM | 96

Got it! why was the French MSM totally silent about KSA: today the president is inaugurating the Louvre Abu Dhabi, ten years to complete
Let's see if any news of the Gulf will be discussed afterwards

Posted by: Mina | Nov 8, 2017 4:14:37 AM | 97

re 71 virgile

In return Qatar was about to make public a list of the Saudi princes and Saudi private companies and organizations that are secretly funding ISIS and other Islamist extremist. Trump has been very firm about stopping the funding of ISIS.
Having been informed about that list and using the pretext of corruption, MBS has stopped and eliminated these princes as well as taking control of their assets before Qatar's publicized the names.
Yes, I liked that point. It could well be the case.

Though, true or not, arresting large numbers of princes is bound to provoke serious opposition within Saudi.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 8, 2017 5:08:59 AM | 98

Somewhat off topic.

But I have a nagging question:

When and where were the Israeli nukes tried?

How can they be sure they will work, unless they are in fact standard
US tactical nukes?

And if they are, these are relatively limited in their devastation potential.

They will certainly do harm but Nagasaki and Hiroshima prove that there
is life after nukes.

The Samson option is in IMO more of an empty menace than truth. The World
will not perish with Israel.

Posted by: CarlD | Nov 8, 2017 8:10:20 AM | 99

CarlD | Nov 8, 2017 8:10:20 AM | 97

Israel will have US specs. No teting required as US have tested the specs. This will not be limited to tactical.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Nov 8, 2017 8:22:21 AM | 100

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