ER Editor: Below Moon of Alabama gives us the current scope of peace possibilities in the Middle East, and how US pressure has essentially been the driving force to push other countries in the region into costly and disastrous wars. Kudos to China for making rapprochement possible.
On the Saudi Arabia – Syria meeting, see this by Zerohedge:
Saudi Foreign Minister Lands In Syria, Meets Assad, In 1st Since War’s Start In 2011
This is the visit that Washington policymakers and establishment Middle East “experts” have been dreading, and signals that the West’s proxy war to oust Assad is definitively over – at least in terms of the end of hawks and neocons’ longtime hope of seeing Assad overthrown…
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan landed in Damascus on Tuesday for the first time since the start of the war in 2011.
It’s also an image that many thought would never happen, and paves the way for a possible future visit of Assad to Saudi Arabia, where he could eventually meet directly with King Salman or crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The high-level visit comes just following last week’s “surprise” trip by Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad to the kingdom. Clearly, relations are fast being restored and rumors are that the next move is for Assad to be invited back into the Arab League.
Readers may also be interested this piece by The Cradle titled
Echoes of Taif: Syria and Saudi Arabia reconcile
Thanks to Gonzalo Lira on Twitter for a bit of humour:
China Brings Peace To Yemen, Syria And … Palestine?
MOON OF ALABAMA
Peace is breaking out in the Middle East and the U.S. is pushed aside by more friendly actors.
On March 10 the world was surprised with a China mediated deal that restored ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran:
There are winners and losers in this. The winners are:
- Iran, which will now be even more able to break through the sanctions wall the U.S. has put up around it.
- Saudi Arabia, which now will likely be able to end its disastrous and costly war on Yemen.
- China, for outplaying the U.S. State Department by achieving this.
- Iraq, Syria, Yemen as they will become more peaceful as the two middle powers influencing policies on their grounds end their rivalry.
The losers are:
- Israel, because the chances for its attempts to get the U.S. into a war with Iran are now diminished. Its hoped for coalition with the Saudis will not come into being.
- The U.S. for having been outplayed on its traditional ‘home grounds’ in the Middle East.
- Anti-Iran hawks everywhere.
- The Emirates for losing at least some of the sanction busting trade with Iran to Saudi Arabia.
Reviving relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will make a lot of new things possible. That Iran and Saudi Arabia accepted China’s mediation is a recognition of Beijing’s new standing in world policies. That alone is enough reason for the White House to hate the deal.
I predicted that the U.S. and Israel would do their best to sabotage the deal or at least make its implementation difficult.
The U.S. sent CIA director Bill Burns to warn the Saudis off. However, the deal has held so far and the Saudis are repairing their relations with countries against which they previously waged wars. Yesterday a senior Saudi official visited Sanaa and shook hands with Yemeni Houthi officials:
Saudi Arabia’s military intervention against the Shiite Houthis began in 2015. Bolstered by extensive American military and intelligence support, it came to include 25,000 air raids, according to a count by the Yemen Data Project. The years of fighting created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and resulted in the deaths of more than 377,000 Yemenis by the end of 2021 from both war and hunger, the United Nations calculates. The Houthis have made Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies pay a high price for their failed bid to return to the capital the internationally recognized government after it was ousted by the Houthis. They have launched more than 1,000 missiles and 350 drones into Saudi territory, increasingly deeply since 2019, prompting Riyadh to search for a way out of its military quagmire.
The accelerated moves follow just weeks after a high-profile rapprochement brokered last month by China between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran – both of which turned Yemen’s civil war into a proxy battleground to expand their regional influence.
Over the last week the Saudis and Houthi sides released prisoners of war. The U.S. has done its best to sabotage the deal:
In the wake of the China-backed détente, the Saudis have largely been willing to abandon their proxies in the interest of ending what has been a draining war. The U.S. responded with alarm, rushing diplomats to the region to insist that pressure continue being applied to the Houthi government in the hope of undermining the deal in the works. [Tim Lenderking, the U.S. envoy for Yemen,] rushed to Riyadh on April 11, as news broke of a peace deal, to remind Saudi leaders of the U.S. desire that they continue to back their proxies in the war.
Instead, the ceasefire talks appear to have become possible because of an agreement in principle that Saudi Arabia would abandon its puppet government, back down from the blockade, and — as the Houthis hoped — use its vast oil wealth to pay Yemeni civil servants.
A similar rapprochement is happening between Saudi Arabia and Syria. On April 12 the Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad visited Saudi Arabia:
The visit is the first by a Syrian foreign minister to Saudi Arabia since 2011, when the war in Syria began. Saudi Arabia supported the Syrian opposition, but ties have thawed in recent months. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has largely defeated the opposition with Russian and Iranian backing.
Over the past few months, there has been increasing engagement with al-Assad, who has been isolated since the start of the Syrian war.
Al-Assad has visited the UAE and Oman this year, and last month Saudi Arabia said it has started talks with Damascus about resuming consular services.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia will host a meeting of regional foreign ministers on Friday to discuss the return of Syria to the Arab League.
The Arab League re-entry will not happen for some time as Qatar, which supported the Muslim Brotherhood rebels against Syria, continues to be hostile to it.
The Saudis will nevertheless continue their plan. Today the Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan arrived in Damascus for a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad:
Saudi Arabia severed ties with Assad’s government in 2012 and Riyadh had long openly championed Assad’s ouster, backing Syrian rebels in earlier stages of the war.
Several other Arab countries also cut ties with Syria as some powers bet on Assad’s demise.
But regional capitals have gradually been warming to Assad as he has clawed back most of the territory lost to rivals, with crucial backing from Russia and Iran.
As with Yemen, the U.S. does not like this move. It will continue its effort to isolate Syria and its government. It is no by chance that today, just as the Saudi foreign minister visits Damascus, the U.S. is revealing a looming indictment of high ranking Syrian officials:
The inquiry, which has not been previously reported, aims to bring to account top Syrian officials considered key architects of a ruthless system of detention and torture that has flourished under President Bashar al-Assad: Jamil Hassan, the head of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate when Ms. Shweikani disappeared, and Ali Mamlouk, then the head of Syria’s National Security Bureau intelligence service. A federal indictment accusing the men of committing war crimes would be the first time that the United States has criminally charged top Syrian officials with the very human rights abuses that Mr. al-Assad has long denied using to silence dissent. Although the men are unlikely to be apprehended, a conviction would signal that the United States aims to hold the Syrian government responsible. Already, the United States has imposed sanctions on Mr. al-Assad and his inner circle, including Mr. Mamlouk and Mr. Hassan, over abuses like violence against civilians. (ER: If only the Biden regime were actually a legitimate govt.)
A potential indictment would “personalize the evil of this regime and make it clear you can’t do business with Assad,” said former Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, the Trump administration’s special representative for Syria engagement.
The move will be to no avail. The next country to patch it up with Syria will be Turkey. The Saudi clown prince Mohammad Bin Sultan has decided to develop Saudi Arabia into more than an oil producing country and pilgrimage enterprise. Peace is a prerequisite for development. Good relations with Iran and its various friends in the region will also keep Saudi Arabia out of a potential conflict between Iran and Israel.
There China may also be helpful. It has just offered to facilitate Israel-Palestinian peace talks:
In separate phone calls to the two officials on Monday, [China’s foreign minister] Qin Gang expressed China’s concern over intensifying tensions between Israel and Palestinians and its support for a resumption of peace talks, the Foreign Ministry said in statements issued late Monday. Qin stressed in his talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen that Saudi Arabia and Iran have set a good example of overcoming differences through dialogue, a statement about that phone call said.
He told Cohen that Beijing encourages Israel and the Palestinians to show political courage and take steps to resume peace talks. “China is willing to provide convenience for this,” he was quoted as saying.
This is another area where the U.S. has previously held, as in Saudi Arabia, an exclusive role.
China, with the support of Russia, is wrestling the U.S. of that role bit by bit. It can do this because it is perceived as neutral and shows no interest in any aggression.
It is the opposite of how the U.S. is perceived in the region. The Chinese way of doing these things makes it likely that these efforts will have better and longer lasting outcomes.
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