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Posts tagged ‘Saudi’

Saudis Challenge Hezbollah Lebanon Dominance; Offers Army $3B.


Saudi Arabia will channel $3 billion to the Lebanese army over five years in an effort that analysts interpret as a direct challenge to Hezbollah‘s dominance over Lebanon, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The aid comes in the wake of the Dec. 27 car bomb assassination of Mohamad Chatah, a leading Lebanese Sunni politician and critic of Hezbollah.
The money, which challenges what the BBC termed Hezbollah’s “unchecked power,” has the potential of altering Lebanon’s political structure and could exacerbate sectarian tensions.
Gulf sources told the Journal that the Saudis do not want a direct confrontation with Hezbollah only to “rebalance” its influence in Lebanon.
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, a Christian, said Lebanon would use the Saudi money to purchase weapons from France, the BBC reported.
The Journal described the money as intended to strengthen the government’s forces against Hezbollah which is backed by non-Arab Iran. Sleiman described it as intended to enable the Lebanese army to “confront terrorism.”
The Saudi money far exceeds Lebanon’s entire $1.7 billion annual defense budget, according to the Journal.
Demographics play a key role in Lebanon.
Of the 4 million Lebanese, Christians comprise about 41 percent the population; Shiites, 36 percent, and Sunnis about 20 percent. There are also other sects including 250,000 Druze.
Saudi Arabia, which is Sunni, supports the Sunni insurgency against the Assad regime in neighboring Syria, while Shiite Hezbollah has committed fighters to Assad.
Many Lebanese army officers are Shiite and some Sunnis distrust the force as being partial to Hezbollah, the Journal reported.
Meanwhile, the Saudis have been critical of what they see as the lack of American assertiveness in the region particularly regarding Syria and Iran’s nuclear program.
They have responded by more closely aligning with France and generously backing regional allies including the military regime in Egypt.
An earlier U.S. offer to provide $8.7 million to Lebanon’s army was ridiculed as too little by Sleiman, the Journal reported.
There are signs that al-Qaida is gaining a foothold among the Sunni population in Lebanon particularly in Tripoli and Sidon.

The Saudis, while adhering to a strict form of Islam, are longtime antagonists of al-Qaida.

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© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.
By Elliot Jager

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Alarmed over Obama’s Leadership, Saudis Strengthen Ties Elsewhere.


Image: Alarmed over Obama's Leadership, Saudis Strengthen Ties Elsewhere French President Francois Hollande meets with Saudi King Abdullah at the Saudi Royal palace in Riyadh on Dec. 29.

Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.

It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending the year with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength.

With an entourage of French executives from the lucrative defense and energy sectors, President Francois Hollande arrives Sunday in Riyadh for a flurry of accords and contracts that have been in the works for months. The two countries also find themselves unexpectedly aligned in resistance, if not outright opposition, to U.S. policy on Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear program.

The Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, recently described the policies of some partners toward Iran and Syria as a “dangerous gamble” while calling for the kingdom to be more assertive internationally after decades of operating in diplomatic shadows.

France, with similar fears about Syria, has been one of the strongest backers of the Syrian moderate leadership and Hollande had pledged military support against Syrian President Bashar Assad until both the U.S. and Britain backed away. On Iran, the French shouldered their way into the negotiations with Iran, demanding a better deal and warning that the Tehran government needed careful monitoring.

“We cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by,” Prince Mohammed wrote in a Dec. 17 opinion piece in The New York Times.

“We expected to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our friends and partners who have previously talked so much about the importance of moral values in foreign policy,” he wrote in the piece titled “Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone.”

But it may not have to. The French have been clear that they share Saudi fears that U.S. and Russian concerns over Islamic militants could leave Assad the victor in any peace deal. Hollande’s visit will be his second since taking office in May 2012 — a rarity for a French leader outside Europe — and his defense minister has been three times, most recently after the announcement of a 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) contract with the Saudi navy.

“There is an offensive among the Saudis to try to reach out to different partners and try and see if they can find new allies,” said Valentina Soria, a security analyst with IHS Jane’s. At the same time, she said, Hollande is showing “the kind of willingness to intervene on the international stage in a much more assertive way, a much more convinced way.”

In October, Saudi Arabia stunned diplomats when it rejected its first seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Saudi foreign ministry blasted the council for an “inability to perform its duties” in stopping the war.

“The problem in Syria today is … clear negligence on the part of the world, who continue to watch the suffering of the Syrian people without taking steps to stop that suffering,” Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal, an influential member of the royal family and a former intelligence chief, said at a conference in Monaco this month.

The Saudis are particularly annoyed that the U.S. and Britain did not follow through with threats to punish Assad’s government over the use of chemical weapons. Those decisions caused similar uproar in France for Hollande, who many at home believed was left hanging as the only Western power to pledge military support.

“The Saudi monarchy cannot fathom the fact that Assad might survive this crisis and then turn against them. They reject this possibility and are willing to do what they can to make Assad go,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Gulf Affairs.

Both countries say they will continue to back the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, in contrast with the Obama administration’s hesitation. Unlike the U.S., the French have resisted suspending non-lethal aid to the rebels and show no signs of changing course.

The Syrian conflict, which has claimed more than 120,000 people and spawned a regional refugee crisis, has become in many ways a proxy fight pitting Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led Arab states against Shiite powerhouse Iran, a major supporter of Assad.

What the Saudis won’t do is send in their own well-equipped armed forces, al-Ahmed said, because it could empower the Saudi military to turn against them as happened elsewhere during the Arab Spring.

The Saudis also watch with trepidation at the warming ties between Iran and the West.

The way the nuclear talks were handled — with U.S. officials secretly meeting their Iranian counterparts before more formal talks involving world powers — particularly rankled the Saudis.

“Saudi Arabia is clamoring for a major role in shaping the region. They feel they deserve that,” said Theodore Karasik, a security and political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

Washington has strived to downplay any suggestion of a rift. Senior American officials have traveled to the Gulf recently to reassure allies including Saudi Arabia. And Soria, the analyst, said the U.S. partnership, which includes billions in defense contracts, would endure beyond the current tensions.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “share the same goals” of ending the war in Syria and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but she stopped short of endorsing a Saudi role at the bargaining table with Iran.

Al-Ahmed said Iran would never agree to any talks involving the Saudis, but that wouldn’t stop the kingdom from trying.

“The Saudi obsession that they will be sold out to the Iranians in a grand bargain makes them want to be in these meetings to ensure that does not happen,” he said.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

The Saudis Denies Its Cargo Plane That Closed Abuja Airport for 18 Hours Was Carrying Weapons.


Saudis plane

LEADERSHIP – It has been confirmed that the contents of the Saudi Arabian Airline that ran into some construction equipment at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Wednesday, December 04, 2013, were security hardware.

The plane landed at about 9:19pm that day and blocked the only major runway at the airport, delaying takeoff and landing of flights in the airport for over 20 hours.

LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported that the Saudi cargo plane was carrying 15 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) made in Russia, which compounded its immediate evacuation from the runway.

In a reaction to LEADERSHIP story, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia agreed that the plane originated from Saudi Arabia and was carrying bullet-proof cars made in South Africa.

In a letter, dated December 20 to LEADERSHIP, the Saudi Embassy clarified that the Boeing 747 plane marked K 74798 “was chartered by Saudi Arabia Airline, carrying bullet-proof cars and its final destination is Murtala Muhammad Airport, Lagos, Nigeria.

The detailed description of the content of the plane is as follows: a set of bullet-proof cars weighing 58 tonnes. Another set of five bullet-proof cars weighing 42 tonnes.

“The goods were a portion of a supply contract for 10 bullet-proof cars to a government agency in Nigeria, which were to be conveyed from Sharjah (UAE) via Abuja, through Fast Forward Cargo US UAC, to Defence Industries of Nigeria (DICON), 45 Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, through the company’s contact person: Mr Nwajpudu Livinston/CCC. The goods were manufactured in South Africa.”

The Saudis wanted the impression that the cargo plane was carrying weapons be corrected since the goods aboard the plane “were neither those considered as dangerous nor prohibited.”

The Nigerian aviation and military authorities had kept mum over the contents of the Saudi cargo plane despite reports of security hardware aboard it.

Source: Radio Biafra.

The Iranian Deal: What Happens Next?.


Barack Obama
President Barack Obama (Facebook)

The deal is done. The Iranian leaders are claiming victory. The White House is claiming victory. Most European governments, as well as Russia, are claiming victory.

The Israeli government, meanwhile, is horrified. They, and many of their citizens, feel more isolated than ever. As I reported from Jerusalem, this was true before the deal was struck. It is even more true now.

“One [Israeli] radio host on Sunday repeatedly played clips of President Obama, during his visit here in March, reassuring Israelis, in Hebrew, that ‘you are not alone,’ and then said ominously, ‘We are in fact alone,’” reports The New York Times.

Below, you’ll find a selection of key articles I’ve found helpful over the past 72 hours to understand the deal and the reaction to it from various quarters. Above all, I encourage you to read the full text of the interim deal for yourself, along with President Obama’s statement, the Ayatollah Khamenei’s comments and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments. These primary source documents will give you the basic facts and contours of the debate:

Then we need to ask two critical questions:

  1. What will the Saudis do now?
  2. What will the Israelis do now?

The Saudis have been signaling in recent weeks they are losing confidence in their alliance with the U.S., they are increasingly prepared to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan, and they might even create a tacit alliance with Israel and the Gulf states as a bulwark against Iran. Is all that bluster or is Riyadh serious?

Meanwhile, the initial consensus among most Mideast analysts is that Israel is now constrained from launching a preemptive military strike lest the Netanyahu government risk a massive backlash from the international community that has just agreed to an interim agreement with Iran, pending a comprehensive agreement in 2014. But I’ve also seen several examples of Israelis saying this deal makes a preemptive strike more likely, and possibly even inevitable, especially if the Saudis will help. Is this true or just the bluster of those frustrated by what they perceive as the world’s betrayal?

To be candid, I don’t have the answers to these questions. Not yet. In part, this is because I don’t think the Saudis or the Israelis at the highest levels have come to clear answers about how to proceed from here. At the moment, I would lean toward agreeing with those who believe Israeli won’t take any military action during these next six months, but there are many factors I cannot see from this angle.

I don’t want to see a scenario like the one I portrayed in Damascus Countdown unfold. I’d much rather see a diplomatic solution that truly worked. That said, I’m deeply concerned that the world powers just let themselves be hoodwinked by the mullahs in Iran and that the world has suddenly become a much more dangerous place with Iran in a better position to build and deploy nuclear weapons.

There are many variables here. And there are likely to be many twists and turns on the road ahead. The best I can do is promise to keep you posted on developments as they unfold. Let’s keep praying for the Iranian nuclear threat to be neutralized peacefully, if at all possible.

Source: STANDING WITH ISRAEL.

Joel C. Rosenberg is the author of numerous New York Times best-selling novels and nonfiction books, with nearly 3 million copies sold. He is also the founder of the Joshua Fund. His books include The Last Jihad (2002), The Last Days (2003), The Ezekiel Option (2005) and The Copper Scroll (2006).

For the original article, visit joelrosenberg.com.

Saudi Arabia: US Lied to Us in Negotiating Iran Nuke Pact.


Saudi Arabia says it was deceived in the way the Washington struck the nuclear deal with Iran, forcing the Saudis to pursue a foreign policy independent from the West.  with Iran.

According to The UK’s Daily Telegraph, a senior adviser to the Saudi royal family said while it knew the U.S. was talking directly to Iran through a channel in Oman, its Western allies failed to brief the country on its talks with Iran.

“We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” Nawaf Obaid told a think tank meeting in London, the Telegraph reports. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.”

While the country has not condemned the deal, Saudi Arabia has previously expressed its concern about U.S. outreach to Iran and continues at odds with the Obama administration’s hands-off approach to the conflict in Syria.

“[Saudi Arabia] will be there to stop them wherever they are in Arab countries,” Obaid said. “We cannot accept Revolutionary Guards round Homs.”

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi King Abdullah in an attempt to quell tensions over American policy on Syria and Iran.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

ObamNO! Saudi Arabia Severs Diplomatic Ties With US Over Response To Conflict In Syria.


The Obama Doctrine

Saudi Arabia flat out accused Obama today of not launching military strikes on Syria because he is helpingAssad to butcher his own people. They are 100% correct. Obama is also helping Iran to finish building nukes by giving them time and space to get it all done.

Daily Mail UK: Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.

saudi-arabia-severs-diplomatic-ties-with-obama-united-states-over-styria-iran-chemical-nuclear-weapons

Saudi diplomats now promise a ‘major shift’ in relations with the U.S. over inaction in the conflict in Syria

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a ‘major shift’ in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

‘The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,’ the source close to Saudi policy said. ‘Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.’

It was not immediately clear whether the reported statements by Prince Bandar, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years, had the full backing of King Abdullah.

The growing breach between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi prince criticized Obama’s Middle East policies, accusing him of ‘dithering’ on Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria ‘lamentable’ and ridiculed a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.

‘The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people,’ said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence. source – Daily Mail UK.

by NTEB News Desk

LIGNET: Surprising Snub of UN Security Council Will Hurt the Saudis.


Saudi Arabia’s decision to reject a seat on the UN Security Council is evidence of a clear change in the country’s willingness to cooperate with the West through the United Nations, and a sharp turn away from the close relationship the Saudis have long enjoyed with the United States. While the decision is not likely to affect the operations of the UN Security Council, it is quite likely to hurt the Saudis, who now won’t have a seat at the table.

Click here to read the full analysis from top intelligence experts at LIGNET.com
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