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May 4, 2016 / 26 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

Hezbollah Sabotages French Effort to Advance Lebanese Presidential Elections, Unrest to Continue

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

French President Francois Hollande is wrapping up a two-day visit to Lebanon where he did his best to convince leaderless lawmakers to move ahead towards presidential elections, with little visible success. Hollande’s next stop on his Middle East tour is Egypt and Jordan.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group cancelled a meeting between Shi’ite representatives and visiting French President Francois Hollande in Beirut on Sunday. Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah quoted Lebanese ministerial sources as saying a minister from the terror group’s political wing, Lebanese MP Mohammed Ra’ad, was slated to meet Sunday with Hollande.

The French president was in Beirut Saturday and Sunday. Lebanon has been without a president since 2014. Internecine conflicts are rising in the country due to the raging civil war in Syria and the expanding threat of the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group flowing over their common border.

The unrest in both Syria and Lebanon has prompted Israeli defense officials to beef up its military troops along the border with both countries.

“I want to visit Beirut again when there is a president in Lebanon but the issue lies in the hand of Lebanese lawmakers … who should resolve the deadlock and elect a head of state,” Hollande said Saturday following talks with Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam.

The country has been without a leader nearly two years, in part because Hezbollah keeps boycotting the parliamentary process that leads to the presidential elections.

Hollande is expected to reiterate France’s support for the Lebanese army, according to Yalibnan. Saudi Arabia suspended a $3 billion military grant to Lebanon earlier this year. Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrian refugees, the equivalent of a quarter the country’s population of 4.5 million. There are also nearly 400,000 Arabs who migrated to the country when they fled their homes during wars with Israel. They are still held at arms’ length as refugees in 12 camps after moving to the country after more than half a century.

The French leader was also scheduled to travel Sunday to an informal Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon’s eastern Beka’a Valley to speak to families who will be resettled in France.

Hana Levi Julian

Saudi Arabia Pledges in Writing to Honor Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty on Islands

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Saudi Arabia has sent a letter to Jerusalem pledging in writing to honor the terms of Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel as part of its agreement to control two islands in the Gulf of Aqaba.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announced Tuesday that he also has approved the signing of the transfer of control of the islands to the Saudis from Egypt.

Israel also had agreed to the arrangement between the two Arab nations, in which Egypt agreed to transfer control of the two islands, Sanafir and Tiran, to Saudi Arabia. Tiran historically was an island belonging to Saudi Arabia that was “leased” to Egypt in 1950.

The deal places both islands officially in the Straits of Tiran, which is in Saudi territory.

As for the Saudis, “The commitments that Egypt approved [in the peace treaty] we are also committed to, including the stationing of an international force on the islands. We looked into the matter and we know our legal position. We are committed to what Egypt committed to before the international community,” Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview.

The two islands are located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba as it opens to the Red Sea, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Eilat.

Israel’s Eilat seaport is located at the top of the Gulf and operates as the sole point of entry for goods from the Red Sea to the country.

Because the two islands are mentioned in the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, Cairo is required to update Jerusalem on the matter.

The agreement effectively redraws the maritime boundaries of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, thereby creating new conditions for the relations of both countries with Israel.

In this case, Saudi Arabia has pledged – in writing – to honor the terms of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, albeit while stressing Riyadh will have no direct contact with Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia is still formally at war with Israel but as with numerous other Arab nations in the region, there are formalities and then there are practicalities. And there is Iran, an overwhelming threat to everyone in the neighborhood.

Egypt and Israel have reportedly been in contact over the plan to redraw the maritime boundaries of the two countries, according to a Hebrew-language Ynet report Monday that quoted the Egyptian daily Al Ahram.

The plan also calls construction of a bridge over the Red Sea between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Saudis signed a string of agreements in Cairo over the weekend that will result in some $16 billion in cash flowing into the battered Egyptian economy. The Egyptian parliament must still vote on the agreement, however, and some in the country are accusing President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of “selling” the islands to the Saudis.

From the Israeli legal standpoint, since the Saudis are also committed to the terms of the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israeli sources noted there may be no need to change the text, which would require a Knesset vote, Ynet reported.

Hana Levi Julian

Hezbollah More Isolated Among Arab Nations With Closer Ties to Iran

Friday, April 8th, 2016

While the Lebanon-based Iranian proxy Hezbollah terror organization is growing in its worldwide influence, it is slowly being squeezed into isolation in the Arab world.

Both the Beirut Arab satellite operator “Nilesat” and “Arabsat” have cut their transmissions of the Al-Manar television channel.

Al Manar is the official media outlet of Hezbollah.

For the time being, Hezbollah is carrying on its media activities via the Russian satellite, broadcasting on RT Arabic (Russia Today), according to telecommuncations expert Tony Hayek, who was quoted by A-Sharq Al-Awsat, owned by Saudi Arabia.

The group itself has also been squeezed out of Arab brotherhood organizations, largely through the efforts of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which withdrew a significant sum for military aid from Lebanon this year.

The Gulf Cooperation Council and then the Arab League as well both officially declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist entity. The declaration carries severe implications financially as well as socially for members of the group when they travel abroad and in terms of their banking affairs.

Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. However, the EU and UK make a distinction between the group’s military and “political” wings.

The terror group’s Lebanese parliamentarian, Nawwaf Moussawi accused Lebanese authorities of not taking effective measures against the A-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The Saudi-owned newspaper, which is based in London, carried a satiric cartoon about the Iranian proxy group earlier in the month. According to a report by the newspaper its Beirut offices were targeted by a gang of unnamed attackers.

The vandals broke into the offices of the newspaper in Lebanon, and wrecked the premises. Seven of the attackers are currently being held by authorities; an eighth is still at large. Trial of the detainees set to begin Monday, A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported.

Even as its star may be fading in the Middle East, however, Hezbollah is growing new tentacles elsewhere in the world.

A Hezbollah terrorist cell in Europe was recently arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The terrorist organization has established business relationships with a number of drug cartels in South America, according to DEA acting deputy administrator Jack Riley.

Hezbollah has been known for years to be running operations through Mexico as well.

Hana Levi Julian

Arab League Declares Hezbollah a Terrorist Group

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Lebanon-based Hezbollah is paying an increasingly high price for its loyalty to Iran; on Friday, the Arab League joined other world leaders in a formal vote declaring the Iranian proxy a terrorist entity.

 

“We decided to label Hezbollah a terrorist group in accordance with a project submitted by the United Arab Emirates regarding Iranian interference in the Arab region,” Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmad Bin Hali said in a statement. Only Lebanon and Iraq abstained in the vote.

The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain, a member of the GCC and the Arab League, was the first Arab nation to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in March 2013.

The vote followed a similar move by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) earlier this month, prompted by Bahrain. The six-member Council was led by Saudi Arabia in blacklisting Hezbollah on March 2. Among the offenses listed by the GCC were attempts to recruit new terrorists and smuggling weapons and explosives. In particular, Hezbollah’s support for the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen is of great concern to the Saudis and its Gulf partners.

The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman had all joined Saudi Arabia in pulling their staff members from embassies in Beirut. They also issued warnings against travel to Lebanon.

Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist organization in the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. However, the EU and UK make a distinction between the group’s military and “political” wings.

Shortly after the GCC’s decision to label the Lebanese organization a terrorist group, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah slammed the Gulf Arab countries’ decision.

He accused the GCC of indifference or outright collaboration with the Israeli state, according to a report in the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

“The Lebanese resistance is the only one that regains Arab dignity and fights for the Palestinian people,” Nasrallah said.

“Arab regimes led by Saudi Arabia side with Israel against our struggle. They do so because the defense of Israel is the guarantee to their survival.”

Hana Levi Julian

Kerry on Syria: May Be Too Late to Keep Whole, May Get Much Uglier

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Tuesday the world community may not be able to save Syria – what once was Syria, anyway – if the current fighting continues much longer.

Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department’s annual budget request, Kerry had a grim outlook for the future of Syria.

“It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” the Secretary said, according to Reuters.

Even if the regime’s Russian-backed forces re-take the northern city of Aleppo – the largest commercial hub in the country – Kerry said it is hard to hold territory in Syria at this point.

For starters, the Secretary told the committee that he cannot guarantee that Russia will stick to the new cease-fire signed this week between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and moderate opposition forces. Moscow and Washington also signed on to that truce, which excluded the Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist groups.

The U.S. military is already looking ahead to a “Plan B,” he said, and will continue to support rebel efforts to overthrow Assad if Russia abandons its obligations under the truce.

“This can get a lot uglier,” Kerry warned. “Even if Russia took Aleppo… holding territory has always been difficult,” he said, according to Foreign Policy magazine. “Russia has to be sitting there evaluating that.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) asked Kerry what would happen if in fact “this cease-fire doesn’t hold? I don’t think Russia believes that anything is going to happen.”

Kerry ducked the question, replying instead, “I’m not going to say this process is sure to work because I don’t know. But I know that it’s the best way to end the war, and it’s the only alternative available to us if indeed we’re going to have a political settlement.”

The Arab world, on the other hand, may not be as willing to wait around and see.

Gulf nation governments and that of Saudi Arabia have already warned their citizens to leave Lebanon if they haven’t already. As early as last week, rumors were flying that Turkey and Saudi Arabia were preparing their troops for a ground invasion of Syria to deal with the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist threat on their own.

Hana Levi Julian

‘The US is Preventing Israel From Joining Sunni Coalition’ Says Government Official

Monday, February 8th, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara revealed at the Jerusalem Conference on Monday, February 2 that the Israeli government has an interest in pursuing a closer relationship with Sunni states and that Russia is linked to the existential threats against Israel.

The Jerusalem Conference is organized annually by Arutz Sheva, a network affiliated with the religious conservative right wing. The conference tackles political, economic, social, and religious issues in Israel.

The opening panel of the conference featured Deputy Minister Kara as the official representative and voice of the Likud party and the Israeli government.

“The existential threat to Israel does not come from the Islamic State or Sunni Muslims,” Kara declared to the panel. “The existential threat to Israel and the Jews is Shiite; it is Iran, which is backed now and has been backed for a long time by Russia.”

Although Kara blamed Russia, he did not spare the United States from criticism as well, claiming that the US is preventing Israel from making connections with moderate Muslim states.

“The best course of action for Israel to face the Iranian threat as well as that of the Islamic State is through cooperation with the moderate Sunni nations. We need to join a coalition with Saudi Arabia, but it seems that the US does not want that to happen,” elaborated the deputy minister.

These comments raised a few eyebrows and generated some surprised whispers from both the crowd and other members of the panel, which included local media personalities and rabbis.

Deputy Minister Kara later toned down the nature of his comments in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

“I did not mean to say that the US is actively and willfully preventing a closer relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Kara told TPS.

“But the US is ignoring and not helping with steps to bring our countries together, and I think this in itself is a method of preventing Israel from joining the Saudi coalition,” explained Kara.

Deputy Minister Kara confirmed to TPS that Israel shares geopolitical and security interests with the moderate Sunni states and that both sides are seeking to develop strategic and financial cooperation and connections .

“I had a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dore Gold and we are working on opening direct channels to Saudi Arabia and to pursue a normalization of relations with other Muslim states,” Kara said.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Kuwait Joins Sunni Nations Cutting Ties With Iran

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Kuwait became the fourth Sunni Muslim nation on Tuesday to cut diplomatic ties with Iran following a crisis that began last weekend between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia.

Citing “torching and sabotage activities” at the Saudi Arabian embassy by an Iranian mob in Tehran, Kuwait recalled its ambassador from the Iranian capital.

Kuwait follows Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, all of whom have recalled their ambassadors from Tehran over the incident as well.

“Such action constitutes a flagrant breach of international conventions and violation of Iran’s international commitment over security and safety of diplomatic missions on its lands,” said the Kuwaiti foreign ministry in a statement.

Rioters in Tehran stormed the Saudi Arabian embassy over the weekend, smashing furnishings and other items inside the building and then torching the offices. The attack came in response to the execution by Saudi Arabia of prominent Shi’ite Muslim Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. The cleric was among 47 convicts executed Saturday in the Sunni Muslim kingdom on charges of terrorism.

The United Nations Security Council has also stepped into the breach, condemning “in the strongest terms” the attack on Saudi Arabia’s embassy, as well as on a Saudi Arabian consulate in Iran.

The Council called on Iran to “protect diplomatic and consular premises against any intrusion or damage.”

But Saudi Arabia is not likely to provide Iran with that opportunity at this point: Riyadh has already severed its ties with Tehran and ejected Iran’s ambassador from the kingdom.

Moreover, an unrepentant President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Riyadh could not cover its “crime” by severing political relations with Tehran, Press TV reported.

Both Russia and China have issued statements calling on the two sides to “use restraint” and reconsider their actions in view of the impact such a conflict might have on the stability of the region. But the long-simmering tensions between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims have been cooking in nearly every Arab nation in the Middle East.

Those issues have been responsible to a great extent for the savage civil war that has completely destroyed Syria, and still rages in what once was a single Arab nation in that place. The same issues are responsible for the lack of a new president in Lebanon, for more than a year.

Ultimately, the conflict between Sunni and Shi’a Islam will either be resolved between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Ayatollahs — in which case the two will united against Israel — or it will likely become responsible for a new breakdown of order in Arab nations where governments have no adequate grip on their societies.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kuwait-joins-sunni-nations-cutting-ties-with-iran/2016/01/05/

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