During the evening of November 3, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) launched his “Night of the Long Knives” – a virtual coup d’état. It included the house arrest of 11 princes and four ministers and scores of other former government lackeys in political, security, and business spheres, not to overlook the freezing of up to 1,700 bank accounts worth $800 billion. This coup has serious regional and international implications.The next day, a missile headed toward Riyadh from Yemen, which the Saudis quickly called an act of war. The visiting prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, was placed under house arrest and forced to resign in a letter reportedly dictated by his hosts blaming Iran and the resistance organization Hezbollah for threatening the security of Lebanon; the Saudis called on expatriates to evacuate. In parallel, Israel launched new air strikes against Syria and the Trump regime escalated its offensive against Iran; the US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley later in the week called for sanctions against Tehran, citing Saudi “evidence”. Iran has dismissed the claims as baseless, pointing to the Saudi air, sea and land blockade on Yemen as preventing any such weapons supply. Continue reading
Category Archives: West Asia (Middle East)
Washington’s plan for regime change in Damascus has failed. Albeit it has not gone the way that the US and Israel have desired, it can be said using the geopolitical language of Israeli and US planners and strategists that Syria has been “rolled back.” This does not mean Syria will stay in this “rolled-back” state statically.
In Iraq, the federal government has come out victorious and pushed back the so-called “Islamic State” and demands have started for a withdrawal of US forces. In the Levant, the Palestinians have managed to form a national unity government that will change the equation of talks between the Palestinians and Israel whereas Hezbollah and its political partners in Lebanon are stronger than ever. While in Yemen, the Houthis or Ansarallah have been able to repel the Saudis.
The US and its allies are the ones in the bigger geopolitical picture that are being “rolled back” steadily. In this context, Washington is now turning to the strategic depth of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Houthi, and the Palestinians. That strategic depth is the Islamic Republic of Iran. Continue reading
This week Daniel Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel, wrote in the Haaretz newspaper that the Saudis were meddling yet again in Lebanese politics, forcing Hezbullah into greater political prominence, to provide the pretext for Israel to renew its confrontation with the Lebanese militia and thereby stoke a new war between Israel and Lebanon and Syria.
In his words: “Israel and Saudi Arabia are fully aligned in this regional struggle, and the Saudis cannot help but be impressed by Israel’s increasing assertiveness to strike at Iranian threats in Syria … When the moment of truth arrives, Israel’s allies, with the United States in the lead, should give it full backing.”
Politics in Lebanon itself is complex, largely due to the confessional system inherited from French colonialism. Ghassan Kadi gives a brief background on Saad Hariri and offers some thoughts on the reasons behind Hariri’s sudden resignation. With events in the region proceeding at a dizzying pace, and especially the news of arrests in Saudi Arabia, which happened after Ghassan wrote this article, some of the thoughts expressed may merely represent a snapshot in time as the landscape keeps changing, but essentially his article analyzes Saudi Arabia’s attempts to regain control over Lebanon. – TS
The ambitious bid of Bin Salman of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia, prime customer of Canadian-produced armaments, to consolidate power in his own hands | ZAFAR BANGASH*
There are clear signs of deep divisions among the members of Bani Saud that point to serious trouble in the days ahead. Largely the result of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s grab for unlimited (unaccountable) power and the disastrous policies he has pursued unilaterally, there is great unease among other members of the ruling family that may explode into open warfare.
While the demented King Salman appears largely oblivious to what is going on around him, his son, the arrogant and erratic Bin Salman (BS) continues to make policy blunders that other family members fear would spell doom for the clan. Former Crown Prince and Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayif was unceremoniously dismissed from both posts last June and is now reported to be under house arrest. The move was engineered by Bin Salman to pave the way for his own accession to the throne. Continue reading
Since the forces led by the Syrian government have gained the upper hand in Syria, Canada has been unable to justify openly going into Syria which it had sought to do in the past. Recently, Canada announced $45 million to fund programs in Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, countries that neighbour Syria.
The funding is allegedly to “assist grass roots women’s organizations and assist Jordanian and Lebanese communities in hosting over 1,660,000 registered Syrian refugees.” Continue reading