Sunday, November 12, 2017

Saudi Arabia wanted to replace Hariri because he did not confront Hezbollah

 Posters are seen in Beirut with the text''We are all Saad''. (Foto AP)

(Exclusive for Reuters)
BEIRUT (Reuters) - From the moment Saad al-Hariri’s plane touched down in Saudi Arabia on Friday Nov. 3, he was in for a surprise. There was no line-up of Saudi princes or ministry officials, as would typically greet a prime minister on an official visit to King Salman, senior sources close to Hariri and top Lebanese political and security officials said. His phone was confiscated, and the next day he was forced to resign as prime minister in a statement broadcast by a Saudi-owned TV channel. The move thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of a struggle that is reshaping the Middle East, between the conservative Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite revolutionary Iran.
Their rivalry has fueled conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, where they back opposing sides, and now risks destabilizing Lebanon, where Saudi has long tried to weaken the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, Lebanon’s main political power and part of the ruling coalition.
Sources close to Hariri say Saudi Arabia has concluded that the prime minister - a long-time Saudi ally and son of late prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 - had to go because he was unwilling to confront Hezbollah.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Saudiya, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain advise citizens to leave Lebanon

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have advised their citizens not to travel to Lebanon and urged those who are in the country to leave as soon as possible. Saudi Arabia's official news agency SPA quoted a source in the foreign ministry on Thursday as saying: "Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Saudi nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon are asked to leave the country as soon as possible. "The Kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations."
Only hours later, Kuwait and the UAE also urged its nationals to leave Lebanon immediately. Bahrain - an ally of Saudi Arabia - had already ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon on Sunday, with the Bahraini foreign ministry issuing a travel advisory that cited "safety considerations".

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lebanon's prime minister and Yemen's president reported to be under house arrest in Saudi Arabia

Saad al-Hariri, who quit as Lebanese Prime Minister in a weekend broadcast from Saudi Arabia, has been held under house arrest in the kingdom, a pro-Hezbollah daily said on Tuesday citing unnamed sources.  If true he is not the only one, also the Yemeni president Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi is against his wish kept in Riaydh.
Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, which is aligned with the Shi‘ite militant group and political movement Hezbollah, said Hariri “was placed under house arrest hours after arriving in Riyadh last Friday” and had remained in detention since. Aides to Hariri, Lebanon’s most influential Sunni politician and a close Saudi ally, have denied claims that he was detained. Speculation in Lebanon over Hariri’s status continued, though, even after Saudi media showed him meeting with King Salman and reported him leaving for the UAE.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Saudis heavily bombed Sana'a after missile was fired at Riyadh

 Damage in  the Yemeni capital Sana'a (AFP).

The Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen carried out at least 29 air strikes on Sanaa province, hours after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile towards the Saudi capital Riyadh. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia accused Iran of a possible act of war by providing the Houthis with Burkan 2-H missiles - a Scud-type missile with a range of more than 800 km.
Residents told Al Jazeera that bombs "rained down" on several neighbourhoods of the capital on Sunday, targeting a stage in al-Sabeen squaren used by Houthi rebels for military parades, the nearby presidential palace, the national security headquarters and the interior ministry.
The Houthi-run Saba news agency reported more than 15 air strikes in Sanaa and a further 14 in the districts of Sinhan and Bani Bahloul. Fatik al-Rodaini‏, an activist based in the capital, told Al Jazeera some of the raids targeted Sanaa's old city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

Nasrallah: ''Hariri's resignation speech was written by the Saudis''

Hassan Nasrallah
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, has called the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri a "Saudi imposed decision". In a speech on the Hezbollah-owned Al Manar TV, said on Sunday that Hariri's resignation speech was "written by Saudis".
"It was not our wish for Hariri to resign," he said, "even if he was forced to resign, the way in which it was executed does not reflect Hariri's way in dealing with things,"
Hariri blamed interference in Lebanon by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah for his decision to quit, in a speech last Saturday from the Saudi capital Riyadh. In it he said that he feared an assassination attempt.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia replaces in anti ocrruption drive last rival of crown pince Mohammed

 Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The Saudi King Salman announced two key changes in the cabinet and ordered the formation of a super committee to combat corruption. The committee is to be headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In its first decision, the committee ordered the arrests of a number of princes and big businessmen for their involvement in corruption in different cases.
The two key changes in the Cabinet were that of National Guard Minister Miteb bin Abdullah, who was replaced by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf, and Economy Minister Adel Fakih, who was replaced by his deputy, Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri.
Commander of the Navy, Abdullah Al-Sultan, was relieved of his position and has been replaced by Adm. Fahad Al-Ghofaili.
Besides the crown prince, the committee comprises heads of the Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), Public Security, General Prosecutor and the Investigation Authority.
Particularly remarkable is the replacement of prince Miteb, the preferred son of the late king Abdullah.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Lebanon again in turmoil after Hariri resigned

Saad Hariri
Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on Saturday, saying in a televised broadcast from Saudi Darabia thta he sensed a plot to target his life and criticizing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah. 
“We are living in a climate similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of  martyr Rafik al-Hariri (his father and former prime minister). I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” he said.
In his statement, Hariri said Iran was “losing in its interference in the affairs of the Arab world”, adding that Lebanon would “rise as it had done in the past” and “cut off the hands that wickedly extend into it”.
Hariri became Lebanon’s prime minister late last year after a political deal that also brought Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun to office as the country’s president.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Iraq launches offensive against Kirkuk

 Iraqi army verhicles in the oilfields of Kirkuk. (Reuters)

Iraqi forces have launched a major offensive over several fronts aimed at retaking the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, allegedly causing "lots of casualties" in fighting south of the city.
The federal army, backed by Shia militias, said theiy seized control of the city's international airport, in addition to an oil field, the strategic K1 military base and the Tuz Khurmatu district southeast of Kirkuk on Monday.
Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga were digging in at the edge of the airport after withdrawing from their positions outside the northern city.
Hundreds of armed Kurdish residents were taking up positions inside the city anticipating an attack.
Residents of the multi-ethnic city, home to about a million Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians, stayed inside and reported hearing sporadic booms they said sounded like shelling and rocket fire.
The Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement that the Peshmerga destroyed at least five Humvee armoured vehicles being used by the state-sanctioned militias following the attack south of the city.

Death toll truck bomb Mugadishu above 300

 The death toll in the bombing that hit the centre of Mogadishu on Saturday continues to rise, with more than 300 people now believed to have been killed and hundreds more seriously injured.
The scale of the loss makes the attack, which involved a truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives, one of the most lethal terrorist acts anywhere in the world for many years.
On Monday morning, Somalia’s information minister announced that 276 people had died in the attack with at least 300 people injured. Within hours, however, Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin ambulances, said his service had confirmed that 300 people died in the blast.
“The death toll will still be higher because some people are still missing,” Abdirahman told Reuters.
More victims continue to be dug from the rubble spread over an area hundreds of metres wide in the centre of the city.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jalal Talabani 1933 - 2017

Jalal Talabani, former Iraqi president and Kurdish politician, has died in Germany aged 84. He was Iraq's president from 2005 to 2014 and a key figure in Iraqi Kurdistan, where voters last week overwhelmingly backed independence in a controversial referendum. A family member said Talabani's health had taken a turn for the worse and he been transported to Germany, along with his wife and two children, before the referendum.
Talabani's death, following a decades-old struggle for Kurdish statehood, came after Iraq's Kurds voted 92.7 percent to split from Iraq in the September 25 referendum.
Talabani was an avuncular politician and a skilled negotiator, who spent years building bridges between the country's divided factions, despite his efforts for Kurdish independence.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain: Qatar's answers were not serious

Four Foreign ministers meet in Cairo. From left: the Saudi Adel al-Jubeir, UAE Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan,, Egyptian minister Sameh Shoukry, and the Bahraini Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa.  (Reuters)

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain said in a joint statement on Wednesday that Qatar has displayed "complacency and a lack of seriousness" in response to the four countries’ demands that Qatar stop backing terrorism and interfering in the affairs of neighbouring countries.
The foreign ministers of the four countries met in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss the recent developments of the diplomatic situation with Qatar after receiving the Gulf country’s response to their list of demands.
Last month, the four countries cut ties and trade links with the tiny oil-rich state over Qatar’s alleged support of terrorist groups and its relationship with Iran.
Qatar denies supporting terrorists and has defended its ties with Iran.
Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said at a press conference following the meeting that another meeting is set to take place in Bahrain soon to discuss the issue.
The deadline for Qatar to comply with a list of 13 demands by the four countries expired on Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Saudi Arabia destroys 400 year old center of Shi'ite village in Qatif

By Rannie Amiri
While the United States was preparing to sign a multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, royal forces laid siege to al-Awamiya, a restive town of approximately 30,000 in the Qatif district of the country’s Eastern Province. Bulldozers, backed by armored tanks and helicopter gunships, systemically leveled homes and put entire families on the street in the historic Mosawara neighborhood. This came under the guise of a development and "renovation" project for the long-neglected and impoverished city although the regime saw fit to post doctored images of allegedly captured weapons to imply was also a security operation.
Last month, anticipating such a move, United Nations experts on poverty, culture and housing rights, " … called on the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to immediately halt the planned demolition of a 400-year-old walled neighborhood in the village of Awamia. The UN experts warned the development plan for the Al-Masora quarter threatens the historical and cultural heritage of the town with irreparable harm, and may result in the forced eviction of numerous people from their businesses and residences.