New Documents Suggest Saudis Concern Over Hidden Iranian Nuclear Material

imageGenCSP, by Ashley Davies, June 24, 2015:

According to Saudi embassy documents secured by WikiLeaks, in February 2012 multiple Iranian shipments of “sensitive technical equipment in the form of fast centrifuges for enriching uranium,” were located at an airport in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum. The leaked documents are the first of their kind reporting Iran shipping nuclear equipment to Sudan. If the documents’ suspicions can be validated, US inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, an aspect of the nuclear deal, would be greatly hindered, further complicating the already problem-filled agreement.

This is not the first instance of Iran collaborating with other nations in relation to nuclear matters. Iran and North Korea have exchanged nuclear information including warhead designs for many years. Each regime has sent representatives to visit one another’s nations, with three sets of North Korean nuclear experts visiting Iran this year. Furthermore, Syria, a close ally of Iran, which receives aid from Iran in the form of missile development and production, played host to a nuclear reactor that was ultimately destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. If Iran were truly able and willing to develop nuclear weapons in other nations, US inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities would be widely unproductive, as Iran’s nuclear weapons will have been moved outside its borders.

Sudan, a previous safe haven for Osama bin Laden and a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism, is Iran’s strongest ally in Africa, making it the prime location to conceal their nuclear weapons. Despite the Sudanese attempting to keep their relations with Iran secretive, it is widely known that the two have been allies for a long time. Relations can be traced back to the 1980’s when an Islamist-led coup, inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran, brought President Al-Bashir and Hassan Al-Turabi into power. Within the first six months of the Islamist regime’s reign, Iranian and Sudanese officials signed a cooperative agreement. For decades, Iran has utilized the vastness of Eastern Sudan and its maritime presence in the Red Sea to smuggle weapons. Documents from a meeting of high-level Sudanese officials revealed many officials stressed the importance of relations with Iran continuing, as it is seen as essential to Sudan’s defense and security. The necessity of Iran’s support to Sudan’s national defense spouts from Iran’s training, funding, and supplying of the Sudanese military. As Sudan has continually supported Iranian military operations, Iranian leaders have told Sudanese leader Iran was willing to share their nuclear “experience, knowledge and technology.” Sudan has openly supported Iran’s nuclear program, expressing its backing of Iran’s rights to access peaceful nuclear energy in 2009.

Interestingly, a Sudanese munitions factory was attacked by Israeli airstrikes eight months after the then secret documents were produced. Despite Israel never denying nor confirming its involvement in the strikes, Sudanese officials claimed to have evidence in the remnants of the factory that pointed to Israel as the perpetrator. Sudan and Israel have considered one another enemy nations since the Arab-Israeli war in the late 1960’s, and Israel has since carried out multiple targeted strikes against arms factories in Sudan, looking to impede the flow of weapons to Hamas. With its major African ally in trouble, Iran offered to construct missile defense systems in Sudan, however the Sudanese government rejected the offer. Israel and Iran, as well, have outwardly proclaimed their detest for each other. Iran has publically rejected Israel’s right to exist, and its Supreme Leader has called for the destruction of Israel. On the other hand, Israel has definitively opposed the idea of a nuclear Iran, with President Netanyahu going as far as addressing the US Congress with his concerns of the inadequacies compromising the deal. A majorcomponent of Iran and Sudan’s alliance is the desire to ultimately destroy Israel’s power and influence.

As the June 30th deadline of the nuclear-deal negotiations looms less than a week away,Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, laid out the remaining red lines that must be agreed upon for a deal to be reached. Amongst the ultimatums Khamenei named was Iranian military sites not being required to be inspected, a claim that the Iranians have stood behind since the discussions commenced. Time and time again however US officials have attempted to downplay the sacrifices Western nations have been making, without the Iranians budging, to reach a deal. Whether or not the final deal, if reached, allows the US and other Western nations to monitor its nuclear activity remains to be seen. However, if the Saudi’s suspicions of Iran shipping nuclear material to Sudan prove true, Iran is clearly already moving to circumvent any inspection requirements the deal might contain.

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Iran Courting Native Americans in Canada: Leaked Document

Terrance Nelson, former chief of Manitoba's Roseau River

Terrance Nelson, former chief of Manitoba’s Roseau River

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 24, 2015:

Saudi Arabia is greatly concerned about how the Iranian regime is establishing relationships with Native American tribes in Canada, according to a newly-leaked Saudi intelligence document.

The Islamist government of Turkey is likewise reaching out to Native American tribes inside the United States.

The secret document from Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Agency, dated May 25, 2012, was sent to the Saudi Prime Minister and approved by the Saudi Crown Prince and Foreign Minister. Saudi intelligence appears to confirm that Iran is becoming friendly with Native Americans in Canada and has even mobilized them for pro-Iran, anti-American political activism.

The memo states that Saudi intelligence is monitoring “the attempts by the Iranian government to take advantage of the situation of the Indians of Canada, in order to build connections with them, to gain from their reservations and lands, to carry out various activities and investments.”

Saudi intelligence reports that Native American leaders recently protested against American and Canadian foreign policy in front of the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. It states that the Indians expressed pro-Iran sentiments at the rally.

It also reports that two tribal leaders from Manitoba Province met with Iranian embassy officials and said they’d take a trip to Tehran. The Indian leaders said they want Iranian investment in their reservations and would like to send 200 children to Iran to study administration and development.

The intelligence memo notes that the Canadian media has reported on the matter and pointed out Iran’s hypocrisy in embracing the Native American minority while oppressing its own minorities.

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Saudi Arabia Buying Regional News Influence: Cables

King Salman of Saudi Arabia (Photo: © Reuters)

King Salman of Saudi Arabia (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 23, 2015:

Leaked cables from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry reveal that the Wahhabist government is spending millions of dollars to influence regional media coverage. One cable shows that the Saudis granted $5 million to a popular Lebanese television channel named Murr TV, known locally as MTV (no relation to the MTV network based in the U.S.).

The secret document reveals that a directive was given on May 8, 2012 to form a committee to exploit Murr TV’s financial troubles by offering a bribe in return for pro-Saudi coverage. The committee had representatives from the Saudi Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Culture, Media and General Intelligence Agency.

Murr TV’s board chairman requested $20 million from the Saudis. The committee met on May 15, 2012 and decided that only $5 million would be offered.

The network’s website boasts of its “independence,” saying it started in 1991 and began covering news in 1995. The Lebanese government was unhappy with its coverage and shut it down in 2002. It then re-launched in 2009.

“MTV displayed a fervent commitment to acting as the fourth power, disclosing the untold about abuses of power and corruption, and speaking the mind of a suffocated public opinion, being consistently and unswervingly objective and responsible, and defending the public interest,” the website says.

It is owned by Gabiel Murr, a Christian involved with the oppositionchallenging the Lebanese political forces favorable to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and Hezbollah. MTV aired stories about human rights abuses and interviewed opposition leaders.

A 2014 study found that MTV is the top source for television entertainment in Lebanon. It is the third most popular news channel.

The leaked cable indicates that this is only one front in the Saudi campaign to influence regional news media.

“Emphasizing that in principle the support to any foreign media should serve the policy of the Kingdom and its interests. The committee doesn’t see anything to prevent the support of MTV within this policy,” the committee is reported as stating.

Other leaked cables show that the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Media sponsored two dozen media outlets in countries like Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Guinea, and Mauritania. Wikileaks says these payments ranged from $33,000 to as little as $500.

It’s possible that the Saudis were satisfied with Lebanese MTV simply continuing coverage that undermines the Syrian and Iranian regimes and Hezbollah, but the wording of the document suggests an actual promotion of the Saudi point-of-view. At the very least, the Saudis would demand favorable coverage that looks past its support for Islamist extremism and human rights abuses.

Saudi funding for media outlets is dangerous for Western security because a favorable treatment of Saudi Arabia means a favorable treatment of the radical ideology its governance is based on, often referred to as “Wahhabism.” If the Saudi point-of-view is promoted, that means promoting Wahhabism, hostility to the West and Islamist terrorism.

Yet, media outlets and political forces in the region, including Christians, are so desperate for funding that they are willing to get into bed with the Saudis.

Another cable reveals that Samir Gagea, the leader of a Christian political party opposed to the Syrian regime, asked for Saudi financial aid. He’s quoted as saying, “I’m broke. I’m ready to do what the Kingdom demands.”

The Saudis weren’t the first choice of the Christians. After all, the Saudis persecute Christians and ban the construction of churches. There is a power vacuum being filled by the Saudis that could instead by filled by the West. There is a middle-ground between Shiite extremism and Sunni extremism but those in-between these two sides are currently compelled to choose one or the other.

If we are to ever defeat Islamist radicalism and achieve peace in the Middle East, Saudi influence over the region’s media and politics will have to be countered.

ISIS, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the West

The famous photograph of Abdulaziz ibn Saud meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Quincy symbolizes the incongruity of the Saudi-American "special relationship." (Image source: U.S. Navy)

The famous photograph of Abdulaziz ibn Saud meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt in February 1945 aboard the U.S.S. Quincy symbolizes the incongruity of the Saudi-American “special relationship.” (Image source: U.S. Navy)

Gatestone Institute, by Salim Mansur, June 14, 2015:

  • What principally mattered in accepting Christian support was whether such support served the followers of Islam in spreading the faith. The same thing could also apply to an alliance with the Jews and Israel in defending Saudi interests.
  • In the age of totalitarianism — which in the last century flourished under the various headings of Marxism-Leninism, Stalinism, Hitler’s National Socialism and Maoism — Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb added Islamism. Shariah, as God’s law, in covering and monitoring every detail of human conduct, as Qutb insisted, is total; its enforcement through jihad made for an ideology — Islamism — consistent with the temperament of the totalitarian era.
  • American support in the reconstruction of Germany and Japan after 1945 was crucial. The transformation of imperial and militaristic Japan into a peaceful democracy was testimony to how American support can make for a better world. In the Korean Peninsula, American troops have held the line between the North and South since the end of the Korean War in 1953; this has made the vital difference in turning South Korea into a democracy and an advanced industrial society.

In a hard-hitting essay on ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) for The Daily Mail, the 2001 Nobel Prize winning author, V.S. Naipaul, wrote: “ISIS could very credibly abandon the label of Caliphate and call itself the Fourth Reich.” Among the writings on Islam and Muslims in recent years, Naipaul’s, as in the books Among the Believers and Beyond Belief, have been perhaps the most incisive and penetrating in exploring the extremist politics of the global Islamist movement from inside of the Muslim world. And that ISIS on a rampage, as Naipaul observed, revived “religious dogmas and deadly rivalries between Sunnis and Shi’as, Sunnis and Jews and Christians is a giant step into darkness.”

Ever since the relatively obscure Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stepped forth on the pulpit of the Great Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, on June 28, 2014 to announce the rebirth of the Caliphate (abolished in 1924 by the Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk), with al-Baghdadi himself assuming the title of Caliph Ibrahim, the ruling head of the ummah, or worldwide community of Muslims, many might agree with Naipaul, despite the hyperbole — he has left out a potentially nuclear Iran — that “ISIS has to be seen as the most potent threat to the world since the Third Reich.”

It is baffling to read about or watch the sweep of terror spawned by ISIS in the name of Islam — a world religion with a following approaching two billion Muslims. It is insufficient merely to point out that the barbarism of ISIS reflects its origins in the fetid swamps of the Sunni Muslim insurgency of post-Saddam Iraq. But ISIS is neither a new presence in the Arab-Muslim history, nor is the response to it by Western powers, primarily Britain and the United States, given their relationship with the Middle East over the past century.

We have seen ISISes before, and not as al-Qaeda’s second coming.

The first successful appearance of an ISIS in modern times was the whirlwind with which the Bedouin warriors of Abdulaziz ibn Saud (1876-1953) emerged from the interior of the Arabian Desert in 1902 to take hold of the main fortress in Riyadh, the local capital of the surrounding region known as Najd. Some twenty-four years later, this desert warrior-chief and his armies of Bedouin raiders defeated the ruling Sharifian house in the coastal province of Hejaz, where lie Islam’s two holy cities, Mecca and Medina.

Husayn bin Ali (1854-1931), Sharif of Mecca and Emir of Hejaz, had joined his fate with the British against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. One of his sons, Prince Feisal, led the “Arab Revolt” for independence from Ottoman rule made famous by T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935). But in the aftermath of the Great War, which brought the Ottoman Empire to its ruin, Bedouin tribes in the interior of the Arabian Desert were jostling for power, and the House of Sharif Husayn proved inept at maintaining its own against threats posed to its rule over Hejaz, and as the khadim [steward] of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Another Englishman, a counterpart to T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), was Harry St. John Philby (1885-1960), sent as a British agent during the Great War into the interior of the Arabian Desert. Philby would get to know Abdulaziz ibn Saud; eventually he worked for Ibn Saud as the warrior-chief rose in power and prominence. Philby chronicled the emergence of Abdulaziz ibn Saud as “the greatest of all the kings of Arabia,” and wrote the history of Ibn Saud’s tribe and people under the title Arabia of the Wahhabis. In the West, ironically, Philby is better known as the father of Kim Philby, the Soviet double agent, instead of the confidant of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. Philby apparently became Muslim, took the name of Abdullah, and lived among the Arabs.

The defeat of the Sharifian forces in Hejaz in 1925 cleared the path for Abdulaziz ibn Saud’s eventual triumph in creating the eponymous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The fall of Mecca to the Bedouin warriors known as the Ikhwan, or the Brethren (to be distinguished from the movement known as Ikhwan al-Muslimin [Muslim Brotherhood] founded by the Egyptian Hasan al-Banna in 1928), ended the ambition of Sharif Husayn and his sons to rule Arabia with the support of the British. The Sharifian defeat also meant that Britain would not have to referee the conflict between two of its allies — Sharif Husayn and his sons on one side, and Abdulaziz ibn Saud and his Ikhwan warriors on the other — competing for mastery over Arabia.

Philby’s loyalty to Abdulaziz ibn Saud restrained him from mentioning the terror and havocIkhwan warriors perpetrated in the occupation of Hejaz and the capture of Mecca and Medina.[1]But he was effusive in describing what he viewed as the renewal of Islam’s original revolution in the desert soil of its birth. He became the premier salesman of Abdulaziz ibn Saud and his family to the outside world, as T.E. Lawrence was of Prince Feisal and the Sharifian claims to rule the Arabs.[2] Philby wrote,

“Ibn Sa’ud made it clear from the beginning that he would tolerate no criticism of or interference with God’s law on earth… On Friday, January 8th, 1926, in the Great Mosque of Mecca after the congregational prayers, Ibn Sa’ud was proclaimed King of the Hijaz with all the traditional ceremony prescribed by Islamic precedent. It was at once an act of faith and a challenge to the world: to be made good in due course, without deviation from the principle on which it was based, to the glory of God, of whose sustaining hand he was ever conscious amid all the vicissitudes of good and evil fortune, which in the long years to come were to lead his people, under his guidance, out of the wilderness into a promised land flowing with milk and honey. The great fight, of four and twenty years almost to the day, was over; and a greater span, by nearly four years, yet lay before him to develop the fruits of victory for the benefit of generations yet unborn: generations which ‘knew not Joseph’, nor ever heard the war-cry of the Ikhwan.”[3]

ii.

The objective of the ISIS is apparently to remake the map of the Middle East, which was drawn by Britain and France as victorious powers in World War I, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The goal is to unite the Fertile Crescent — the region between the eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf — under the newly resurrected Caliphate’s rule, where “God’s law” will rule without anyone’s interference — much Saudi Arabia’s founder, Abdulaziz ibn Saud, announced in 1926 on entering Mecca.

ISIS’s self-proclaimed leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in announcing the re-establishment of the Caliphate, have set for ISIS a hugely ambitious program, even if it seems anachronistic for Muslims in the twenty-first century.

But ISIS’s gamble to engineer the creation of the Caliphate and obliterate the post-WWI settlement is not entirely far-fetched when considered in the context of the making of Saudi Arabia.

There is also the shared doctrine of the Wahhabi-Salafi interpretation of Islam, which Abdulaziz ibn Saud insisted, and ISIS insists, is the only true Islam; all other versions and sects of Islam among Muslims are denounced as heresy or, worse, as apostasy, to be violently punished.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire let loose forces in the Middle East, some of which were contained by Britain and France, as victorious powers, in accordance with their Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.

In the Arabian Peninsula, Britain kept in check the forces let loose, preventing their spillover into the Fertile Crescent, until one coalition of Bedouin warriors led by Abdulaziz ibn Saud emerged as clear winner over the territories previously held by Turkey in the Fertile Crescent.

The deep forbidding interior of the Arabian Peninsula consists of the highlands and desert of Najd, far removed from what were once the major centers of the Islamic civilization at its peak. Inhabited by Bedouin tribes, deeply conservative in their customs and manner of living, and disapproving of the ways of the outside world, Najd was a primitive backwater of the Middle East and was left on its own.

The emergence of Abdulaziz ibn Saud as the ruler of Najd and Hejaz in the 1920s, and then as the monarch of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the watchful eyes of Britain as the hegemonic power in the Middle East after the World War I, was not merely the result of one coalition of Bedouin tribes trouncing its opponents for the spoils of war. It was also the victory of a doctrine — of Wahhabism,[4] to which Abdulaziz ibn Saud was wedded as a legacy of his family and tribal history, and which provided the religious and ideological legitimacy for the so-called “conservative revolution” or the Wahhabi version of Islamic “reform” he heralded in establishing his kingdom.

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How Obama Made Peace Between Israel and the Saudis

Black__White_Handshake_-_Still_from_the_film_Colour_Blind_2009-425x350Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, June 9, 2015:

In Washington D.C., the new director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and a former Saudi Major General, both of whom run think tanks with close ties to their respective governments, shook hands.

It wasn’t their first time.

Obama wasn’t there when it happened, but in a way he was responsible for it.

Both men are foreign policy experts who help shape the foreign policies of their countries and had conducted five previous meetings. The topic of the meetings was Iran.

Obama wouldn’t have been pleased by their meeting or by what it represented, but he had brought them together. While Dore Gold, the Israeli, insisted that they had common ground because “We’re both allies of the United States”, it was Obama’s betrayal of both countries that had led them here.

While Obama likes to talk about making peace in the region, his only successful peace effort was this accidental byproduct of his disastrous policies. He had unintentionally managed to bring the Israelis and the Saudis together by alienating both countries with his permission slip for a nuclear Iran.

It was not a peace that he was likely to claim credit for.

Saudi Arabia was Israel’s oldest and most venomous enemy. Ibn Saud had called the Jews, “a race accursed by Allah according to his Koran, and destined to final destruction.” He had vowed to be content eating nothing but “camel’s meat” rather than give up hating the Jews.

“The word of Allah teaches us, and we implicitly believe this O Dickson, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Paradise and into the august presence of Allah. What more then can a Muslim want in this hard world,” he had added.

And he meant it.

The origins of most of the anti-Israel activities in the Muslim world and the West can be found in Saudi Arabia. The poisoning of academia was funded by Saudi Arabia. The diplomatic and military leaders of the United States and the United Kingdom were turned against Israel by the Saudis. Anti-Israel narratives wound their way into the press and the public forums courtesy of their hired gun PR agencies.

Even BDS has its heavily disguised origins in the boycott of Israel promoted and enforced by the Saudis.

The Saudis haven’t stopped any of this. They are still waging Ibn Saud’s Koranic war against the Jews using academics, retired politicians, diplomats and generals, along with think tanks and PR agencies as their fronts, but they have found something that they hate and fear even more than the Jews.

The Sunni hatred of Shiites is nearly as old as the Islamic hatred of Jews and the Wahhabi forces of the Saudis had conducted massacres of Shiites that closely resemble ISIS actions today.

But this is more than hatred.  The Saudis are afraid.

Obama’s appeasement of Iran has already led to the fall of Yemen and Iranian naval attacks in international waters in the Persian Gulf. And everyone knows that worse is yet to come.

While the Saudis rush to frantically go nuclear before Iran does, their military, despite its billions in American equipment is unreliable. Obama has aligned with the Iran-Syria-Russia axis despite its members being even more hostile to the United States than the Saudis.

The Saudis have far more influence in Washington than the Israelis ever did, though their influence is subtle and understated, without the gaucherie of an AIPAC dinner. But Obama won’t be moved by the slow infusion of subtle narratives from think tanks, retired diplomats and assorted insiders that the Saudis have ably used to turn American politicians around on issues like the War on Terror or Israel.

Obama has decided what he wants to do and the Saudi-orchestrated drumbeat of criticism, like Netanyahu’s speeches, is an irritant that won’t change his worldview.

The Saudis have tried to play a variety of cards. They tried and failed to cut a deal with Putin. They likely played a significant role in removing Morsi from power in Egypt after his flirtation with Iran. That gave them access to a more reliable military than their own force of princes, but the best proven air force in the region still belongs to Israel.

If there is to be any non-American action against Iran’s nuclear program, it will come from Israel.

The United States has spent generations trying to push for peace between Sunni Muslim states and Israel. Perversely, Obama has come closest to achieving that peace by abandoning both sides while backing Jihadist groups and states hostile to both Israel and Sunni Muslim governments.

Obama’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood ended up bringing Egypt and Israel closer together. Now his backing for Iran is bringing Israel and the Saudis together.

These relationships are not the final and ultimate peace solutions rhapsodized over by naïve crowds and politicians. Those will never come as long as tribalism and theocracy rule the day. They are pragmatic and temporary interactions made necessary by Obama’s transformation of American foreign policy.

The wave of instability created by Obama’s backing for Muslim Brotherhood regime change and then Iranian expansionism has made even formerly stable countries feel insecure. Israel’s best asset in this crisis is its invulnerability to the sectarian waves of Shiite and Sunni conflicts and the rising tide of the Muslim Brotherhood’s brand of political Islamism. While there are a few Muslim Brotherhood members in Israel’s Knesset under the United Arab List banner, there is no risk of them taking over the country.

Even Netanyahu’s reelection has improved Israel’s standing in the Middle East by demonstrating that it has a reliable and steady government that is publicly at odds with Barack Obama.

For the Saudis, the Israeli option is the final option. And it’s not clear that they are doing anything more than exploring it to send a very particular message to Obama and Iran. But in a region swiftly being divided between Iran and various Muslim Brotherhood splinter groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, the Jewish State may have become the most reliable counterweight to Iran and Obama.

The old American strategy had sought to create peace between Jew and Muslim under the security umbrella of the Pax Americana. Instead it’s the collapse of the umbrella that has come closest to bringing peace through war against common enemies. By destabilizing the Middle East and turning on the Saudis and Egyptians, Obama accidentally made Israel seem like a more credible partner.

Making the Middle East worse succeeded where trying to make it better had failed.

The post-American world that Obama has been building is a very different place. It is a world in which aggressors like Russia and China are reshaping regions to their liking through conquest and intimidation, but it is also a world in which former allies of the United States are trying to build dams against the tide.

If Hillary succeeds Obama, the resulting post-American world will be a very dangerous place, but like the countryside after the flood waters have washed much of it away, it may also be an interesting place.

Obama has destroyed the international accomplishments of Wilson, FDR, Eisenhower and Reagan while claiming to be their rightful successor. The world is returning to where it was a century ago. And on this new map of the world, an alliance between Israel and the Saudis is only one more strange new territory.

Saudis Plan Tourist Venue Where Foundation of Radical Ideology Was Formed

Al-Diriyah-on-the-northwestern-outskirts-of-Riyadh.-APHassan-Ammar-640x480Breitbart, by Jordan Schachtel, June 1, 2015:

Saudi Arabia plans to turn the birthplace of Wahhabism–just outside the capital city of Riyadh–into a tourist destination filled with entertainment, historic exhibits, parks, and restaurants.

Wahhabism, the radical Islamic ideology that is promulgated worldwide through Saudi influence and the dominant philosophy of Saudi Arabia, was founded over 250 years ago in the village of Diriyah, thanks to an alliance between the Saudi royal family and a radical cleric, according to the New York Times.

In Diriyah, the House of Saud inked an alliance with Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, who would be allowed to preach his radical jihadist ideology in exchange for a guarantee that the Saudi royal family would be allowed to stay in power. Tow-hundred-and-fifty years later, the treaty between the radical Islamists and the Saudi royalty remains in place.

Al-Wahhab’s Wahhabism preaches a puritanical version of Islam. Supporters describe the ideology as “pure Islam” that is perfectly compliant with Sharia law.

Critics of Wahhabism have noted that the group’s adherents tend to support worldwide terrorist movements across the globe. Some allege that Wahabi officials and clerics are responsible for fostering ideological support for jihadist groups and bankrolling outfits such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey has said of Wahhabism:

Those who direct Saudi Arabia’s state religion, the Wahhabi sect of Islam, loathe Christians, Jews, other Muslims, modernity, decency toward women, and freedom itself. The Saudi establishment has accepted a Faustian bargain, buying protection for itself by financing the spread of Wahhabi hatred around the world.

Nonetheless, the Saudis are following through with the tourist venue, which will be “filled with parks restaurants, and coffee shops,” the Times reports. “Nearby stands a sleek structure that will house a foundation dedicated to the sheikh [Al-Wahhab] and his mission,” the report adds.

The man in charge of the project, Abdullah Arrakban of the High Commission for the Development of Riyadh, said in support of the Wahhabi tourist venue, “It is important for Saudis who are living now, in this century, to know that the state came from a specific place that has been preserved and that it was built on an idea, a true, correct and tolerant ideology that respected others.”

More whitewashing:

The Coming ISIS Assault on Saudi Arabia Means Awful Things for Washington

Saudi security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Anoud mosque in the coastal city of Dammam on May 29, 2015.(AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi security forces inspect the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Anoud mosque in the coastal city of Dammam on May 29, 2015.(AFP/Getty Images)

ISIS has its next target, and it’s one that threatens U.S. interests in the region more than anything you’ve seen from the terrorist group so far.

National Journal, by KRISTIN ROBERTS, May 29, 2015:

Two weeks. Two suicide bombings. Both targeting Shiites in a Sunni land. And both claimed by ISIS.

If this were Iraq or Syria, these attacks—sadly—wouldn’t be surprising. But it’s not. It’s Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s most precious sites and the region’s most powerful Sunni rulers—a relatively vast territory, kept remarkably stable by the ruthless application of authoritarian rule while its neighbors teeter under the destabilizing weight of popular revolution and terrorist intervention.

And that’s just the way the U.S. government likes its friend, Saudi Arabia. Because Washington needs stability there more than it needs to feel good about how the House of Saud achieves it.

But today, in Dammam, a city on the Saudi eastern coast, a man dressed as a woman blew himself up outside a Shiite mosque and killed three others. (The attack would have been far more devastating had guards not stopped the bomber from entering the mosque, forcing him back into a parking lot.) ISIS now is bragging that their man reached his target despite heightened security after the group’s first attack in the kingdom just eight days ago. That one, on another Shia mosque in a village called al Qadeeh, killed 21.

“They certainly are significant,” said Mike Singh, former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration. “These attacks seem designed to exacerbate sectarian divisions, precisely as ISIS has sought to do elsewhere.”

Singh’s right; ISIS wants to encourage Sunni-Shia hostility throughout the Muslim world (perhaps as much as it wants to encourage violence between Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide) because it fits its caliphatic goals.

But for the United States, there’s more significance to read into this emerging ISIS assault on Saudi Arabia. And it’s the type of significance that should be at least discouraging—if not downright worrisome—to Washington’s Middle East policymakers.

What these attacks say is that Riyadh doesn’t have the comforting control over its land that Americans like to believe it does. And if the royal family doesn’t have its territory as buttoned down as Washington assumed, what other weaknesses has it been masking? What other vulnerabilities now are on view?

Americans don’t like to talk about trouble in Saudi Arabia. That’s a little bit because it annoys Riyadh, and really, to what end? The Saudis do enough of America’s dirty work in the region to demand some elbow room, corralling the Gulf Arab kingdoms, only occasionally criticizing U.S. military actions, secretly communicating with Israel about shared interests when Washington is napping.

It would be dumb to say it’s not also a little bit about oil, but really, that’s just the context, not the catalyst for cooperation anymore.

The real reason is that it casts into doubt all of the mythology America has created around its favorite autocratic kingdom. The royal family operates a government that is truly authoritarian. It abuses the rights of its citizens. It discriminates against women. It does frightfully little to protect its minority communities. Beheadings. Disappearances. But, damn, it sure is quiet over there. And man, that’s gotta mean those guys are as tough as we need them to be, that they are the mighty Sunni power that’s going to help us do one thing in particular—keep Iran in check.

Indeed, one fantastical American belief about the ceaseless power of Riyadh feeds into another fantastical American belief that Tehran wouldn’t dare renege on a deal with the United States. This argument coming from some quarters that Tehran can be expected to live up to a nuclear agreement is in some part predicated on this belief that Saudi poses enough of a real and present threat to Iran that the Ayatollah won’t do anything too destabilizing. (Help Hezbollah, sure. Bomb Jordan, probably not. Use a nuclear energy agreement to build a bomb, nah.)

In fact, these two countries are so inextricably tied that conspiracy peddlers see Iranian meddling in the ISIS suicide bombings in Dammam and al Qadeeh. That’s intriguing, but even one of Iran’s most ardent detractors in Washington calls it “batty.”

Nonetheless, this new Saudi phase of the ISIS battle plan threatens to shatter the illusion of the Saudi behemoth. And that’s terrifying. Because without a real and present Saudi threat, the last remaining check on Tehran becomes Israeli spies and American bombs.

If for no other reason, Washington needs to pay attention to what’s happening just now in Saudi Arabia.

Also see:

Ramadi’s fall opens ISIS road to Baghdad. Jordan warns US air strikes won’t stop the terrorists’ advance

DEBKAfile, May 18, 2015:

Mideast-Jordan-King-A_Horo-e1363781864263Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned the Obama administration in an urgent message that US air strikes alone won’t stop the Islamic State’s advances in Iraq and Syria and, what is more, they leave his kingdom next door exposed to the Islamist peril. ISIS would at present have no difficulty in invading southern Jordan, where the army is thin on the ground, and seizing local towns and villages whose inhabitants are already sympathetic to the extremist group. The bulk of the Jordanian army is concentrated in the north on the Syrian border. Even a limited Islamist incursion in the south would also pose a threat to northern Saudi Arabia, the king pointed out.

Abdullah offered the view that the US Delta Special Forces operation in eastern Syria Saturday was designed less to be an effective assault on ISIS’s core strength and more as a pallliative to minimize the Islamist peril facing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf emirates.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that US officials refused to heed Abdullah’s warning and tried to play it down, in the same way as Secretary John Kerry tried Monday, May 18, to de-emphasize to the ISIS conquest of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province.

At a news conference in Seoul, Kerry dismissed the Islamists’ feat as a “target of opportunity” and expressed confidence that, in the coming days, the loss “can be reversed.”

The Secretary of State’s words were unlikely to scare the Islamists, who had caused more than 500 deaths in the battle for the town and witnessed panicky Iraqi soldiers fleeing Ramadi in Humvees and tanks.

Baghdad, only 110 km southeast of Ramadi, has more reason to be frightened, in the absence of any sizeable Iraqi military strength in the area for standing in the enemy’s path to the capital.

The Baghdad government tried announcing that substantial military reinforcements had been ordered to set out and halt the Islamists’ advance. This was just whistling in the dark. In the last two days, the remnants of the Iraqi army have gone to pieces – just like in the early days of the ISIS offensive, when the troops fled Mosul and Falujah. They are running away from any possible engagement with the Islamist enemy.

The Baghdad-sourced reports that Shiite paramilitaries were preparing to deploy to Iraq’s western province of Anbar after Islamic State militants overran Ramadi were likewise no more than an attempt to boost morale. Sending armed Shiites into the Ramadi area of Anbar would make no sense, because its overwhelmingly Sunni population would line up behind fellow-Sunni Islamist State conquerors rather than help the Shiite militias to fight them.

Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, who arrived precipitately in Baghdad Monday, shortly after Ramadi’s fall, faces this difficulty. Our military sources expect him to focus on a desperate effort to deploy Shiite militias as an obstacle in ISIS’s path to Baghdad, now that the road is clear of defenders all the way from Ramadi.
In Amman, King Abdullah Sunday made a clean sweep of senior security officials, firing the Minister of Interior, the head of internal security (Muhabarat) and a number of high police officers. They were accused officially of using excessive violence to disperse demonstrations in the southern town of Maan.

The real reason for their dismissal, DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources disclose, is the decline of these officials’ authority in the Maan district,  in the face of the rising influence of extremist groups identified with Al Qaeda and ISIS, in particular.

Also see:

Israel’s Peace Fantasists in Action

1ef9b765-5e3e-47eb-bb2e-87e35fc8c7a6_16x9_600x338-450x253Frontpage, by Caroline Glick, may 15, 2015:

The Saudis are in play, casting about for partners.

In a clear vote of no-confidence in US President Barack Obama’s leadership, Saudi King Salman led several Arab leaders in blowing off Obama’s Camp David summit this week. The summit was meant to compensate the Sunni Arabs for Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Salman’s decision is further proof that US-Saudi relations have jumped the tracks. For 70 years the Saudis subcontracted their national security to the US military. Deals were closed with a wink and a nod. That’s all over now.

Obama has destroyed Washington’s credibility. Salman views its gentleman’s agreements as worthless. All he wants now is military hardware. And for that, he can send a stand-in.

The Saudis never put all their eggs in America’s basket. For 70 years the Saudis played a double game, maintaining strategic alliances both with the liberal West and the most reactionary forces in the Islamic world. The Saudis pocketed petrodollars from America and Europe and transferred them to terrorists and jihadist preachers in mosques in the US, Europe and worldwide.

Iran isn’t the Saudis’ only concern. Although for outsiders the worldview of the theocracy governing Saudi Arabia seems all but identical to the worldview of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Saudis consider the Brotherhood a mortal foe. The Saudis claim that their tribal, top-down regime is the genuine expression of Islam. The Brotherhood’s populist, grassroots organization rejects their legitimacy.

And so, since the Arab revolutionary wave began in late 2010, the Saudis opposed the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudis are the primary bankrollers of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s regime.

During Operation Protective Edge last summer, the Saudis sided with Sisi and Israel against Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and its Turkish and Qatari state sponsors. Although Saudi Arabia had previously been a major funder of Hamas, that backing ended in 2005 when, following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas forged strategic ties with Iran.

For the past five years, the Saudis worked against both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. But in recent months they began reconsidering their two-war approach.

With the Iranian-backed Houthis’ takeover of Yemen and the US’s conclusion of its framework nuclear deal with Iran, the Saudis apparently determined that weakening Iran takes precedence over fighting the Brotherhood. With its Houthi proxies in Yemen deployed along the Saudi border abutting Shi’ite-majority border provinces, and fighting for control over the Bab el Mandab, Iran now poses an immediate and existential threat to Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, as the Saudis see it, the threat posed by the Brotherhood has severely diminished since Sisi began his campaign to destroy its infrastructure in Egypt. So long as Sisi continues weakening the Brotherhood in Egypt and Libya, the Saudis feel safe working with the Brotherhood and its state sponsors Turkey and Qatar in Syria and Yemen. To this end, much to Washington’s dismay, the Saudis are willing to back a consortium of rebel groups in Syria that include the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist offshoots are not the only strange bedfellows the Saudis are willing to work with in their bid to neutralize Iran.

They have also signaled a willingness to work with Israel.

Read more

Also see:

Failed State: Saudi Coalition Increases Ground Presence as Iran Begins targeting the Kingdom, US

yemen+map1May 7, 2015 /

As of this writing most of the Southern Yemeni city of Aden remains contested with heavy fighting all throughout the area. Our sources who remain in the country have informed us that additional UAE SOF personnel have been seen in the city fighting alongside the remnants of the pro-Hadi faction. We’ve also been made aware that the Saudi SOF personnel have also recently conducted a seaborne insertion into the area to bolster the push to seize their main objective: Aden International Airport. UAE SOF personnel on the ground have embedded with what remains of the pro-Hadi faction and appear to be rallying them for an assault on the Houthi forces located at the airport. Central to this strategy is the preservation of the runway, which makes it highly likely that the intent is to use the airport as a hub for bringing in supplies and follow-on forces for a larger ground campaign. We doubt the Houthis will be able to maintain their hold on the Southern part of the country in light of the Saudi-led coalition’s decision to double-down on the ongoing campaign. Already the coalition controls the surrounding airspace, requiring the IRGC-Qods Force to have flights come through Oman (we’re unsure as to why the Saudis haven’t applied more pressure on the Omani government). The Houthis’ hold on the South becomes even less likely if former President Saleh’s forces were to defect. Saleh himself is an opportunist, so if the Saudis were smart they’d be running an effective IO campaign offering economic incentives targeting military units aligned with Saleh. However, this campaign is unlikely to completely reverse the Houthi’s gains. A stalemate is much more likely.

Reports: ‘Limited’ ground force arrives in Yemen’s Aden
http://www.dw.de/reports-limited-ground-force-arrives-in-yemens-aden/a-18426013

Yemen’s foreign minister: Aden troops were Gulf-trained locals
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/04/yemen-security-idUSL5N0XV1VI20150504

GCC SOF Teams Alerted For Deployment, AQAP Gains Strength and Iran Preps For Attacks Against Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6056

Yemen isn’t on Verge of Civil War – It Already is – and the Saudi Arabia Will Get Involved
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5810

Rising Smoke

Aden fighting in the distance
Source: Getty Images/AFP/Saleh al-Obeidi

We’ve been covering the Saudi-led coalition’s SOF operations for some time now – and we’ve also been covering the IRGC-Qods Force’s activity in the country. In our piece titled “AQAP and Qods Force Make Their Moves in Yemen as Saudis Struggle to Maintain Coalition,” We mentioned the presence of a senior member of the IRGC-Qods Force’s External Operations Division setting up shop in Sadah. This individual has been identified as BG Abdolreza Shahlai. Never heard of him? Don’t feel bad, most people haven’t – but you’ve probably heard about the operations that he had intimate involvement. He was the architect of the IRGC-Qods Force’s program that provided lethal aid to Shia proxy groups in Iraq during OIF in addition to being one of the primary planners for the 2007 attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) that killed five US Soldiers (check out “The Hezbollah Presence in Iraq” for more details). Indeed, the OIF-era put this guy on the map and led to the start of a strong friendship with Qods Force commander GEN Suleimani. Shahlai is currently a member of Suleimani’s inner circle and holds considerable sway in advocating the more “outside the box” proposals. In fact he gained the most notoriety from his involvement in planning the failed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US in New York City. That particular operation called for the Qods Force to facilitate a third party – which was the Mexican drug cartel known as Los Zetas – to carry out the operation. His family member Mansur Arbabsiar was the primary facilitator.He’s also a strong advocate of taking more direct action against the US and serves as “Suleimani’s Fist” in overseeing operations inside American borders, Europe and Africa. He’s also no stranger to Yemen, having deployed to the country several times since 2011 to oversee training on the production of Explosively-Formed Projectiles (EFPs) and their implementation. Shahlai’s African connections have also been put to good use with his efforts to establish alternate facilitation ratlines into Yemen coming from Djibouti and Sudan. Needless to say, he’s become quite close to Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi.

AQAP and Qods Force Make Their Moves in Yemen as Saudis Struggle to Maintain Coalition
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6078

The Hezbollah Presence in Iraq
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=358

Who is IRGC Commander Abdolreza Shahlai, mastermind of attack on Camp Liberty
http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/terrorism-a-fundamentalism/12861-who-is-irgc-commander-abdolreza-shahlai-mastermind-of-attack-on-camp-liberty

Treasury Sanctions Five Individuals Tied to Iranian Plot to Assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States
http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/pages/tg1320.aspx

Man Sentenced in Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/nyregion/mansour-arbabsiar-sentenced-for-plot-to-kill-saudi-ambassador.html?_r=0

mansur Abrbsiar

Mansur Arbabsiar
Source: Associated Press

Like his colleagues, Shahlai entered Yemen via Oman (YES, he flew Mahan Air). Since setting up shop in Sadah, he’s been accelerating the program to establish a Houthi intel proxy to serve as an action arm for operations inside Saudi Arabia. In fact, he’s already got the ball rolling on targeting the Kingdom. Currently, Saudi Arabia is under heavy threat from cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure like the infamous “Shamoon” virus that was unleashed by the IRGC-Qods Force Cyber Warfare Division against ARAMCO (check out “Iran Steps Up Cyber Attacks Against the US and its Allies” for more details). We assess that the Saudi oil, gas, telecommunications and aviation sectors are at the most risk for a repeat of the Shamoon incident. Our contacts in the oil industry report that as recently as MAR 15 ARAMCO was made aware of malicious activity against their infrastructure and were reassessing security practices in addition to working on identifying where they may have been compromised. We believe this malicious activity were probing operations being conducted to identify exploitable opportunities.

Iranian Regime Consolidates Yemeni Gains, Begins Work on Forming Houthi Intel Proxy
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5580

Iran Steps Up Cyber Attacks Against the US and its Allies
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3560

The recent attack launched by the Houthis against the Saudi border town of Najran that killed at least two civilians led to the capture of five Saudi military personnel was merely the opening act of this new phase of the campaign that we’ve been warning about. The next step of this new phase in the Yemen portion of Iran’s campaign may involve the targeting of US citizens stuck in Yemen. Some were lucky and able to leave the country, but many others remain trapped. It would be quite the coup for the Houthis to kidnap a few of them to demonstrate how the Obama administration abandoned them – then pressure the US into ending its support of the Saudi campaign. The five Saudi military personnel were possibly abducted with this in mind as well, although we doubt the Saudis will meet any demands. This country has been a failed state for quite some time, only US Secretary of State John Kerry is in denial. He recently made the claim that Yemen can “avoid ending up a failed state.” The problem with this statement is that Yemen is engaged in a civil war with military personnel from multiple regional powers operating on the ground alongside select factions. He hopes that there will be a “political” solution to this war. Unfortunately, The Iranians and Saudis are already in the process of escalating the violence. Only in the world of “Hope and Change” can a nation at war with itself and experiencing shortages in food, fuel, medical supplies be considered a “success story.” We can assure you that the Obama administration is every bit as wrong about Iran as they are about Yemen. The $1 million dollar question is whether they’ll figure it out before it’s too late? We doubt it.

Washington to Americans Stuck in Yemen: You’re on Your Own
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/21/washington-to-americans-stuck-in-yemen-youre-on-your-own-evacuation/

Deaths as Yemeni rebels fire rockets into Saudi Arabia
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/cloneofcoalition-considers-yemen-humanitarian-tr-150505130815877.html

John Kerry: Yemen not yet a failed state, may ‘hold itself together’ with peace talk
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/2/kerry-yemen-not-yet-failed-state-may-hold-itself-t/

qods force_houthi

Iraqi Shia during a pro-Houthi rally in Baghdad carrying portraits of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and IRGC-Qods Force commander GEN Suleimani
Source: Rudaw

Other Related Articles:

The Yemen Octagon: GCC vs Iran vs Houthis vs AQAP vs Islamic State
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5931

Today’s Middle East: The Burning Fuse of the 21st Century’s “Great Game”
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6193

President Obama’s Yemen “Success” Story
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4751

Poised to Fill Yemen’s Power Vacuum: Iran Tightens Grip on The Peninsula
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4517

IRGC-Qods Force: The Arabian Peninsula Campaign and Failure of Obama’s Foreign Policy
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4478

Shia Proxy Threat to US ISIS Strategy in Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1837

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels: the Hand of Iran?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1992

Foreign Money Promotes Radical Islamist Agenda in Canada

Richard Fadden, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, appears at Senate national security and defence committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-51 in Ottawa on Monday, April 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Richard Fadden, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, appears at Senate national security and defence committee hearing witnesses on Bill C-51 in Ottawa on Monday, April 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

by IPT News  •  Apr 30, 2015 

Millions of dollars are flooding into Canada from Gulf states to promote a radical Islamist agenda, according to testimony by the prime minister’s national security adviser, the National Post reports.

“I think it’s fair to say, without commenting on the particular country of origin, there are monies coming into this country which are advocating this kind of [Islamist extremist] approach to life,” Richard Fadden said Monday during a national security hearing concerning a new counter-terrorism bill.

Fadden, a former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said that large sums of money are sent to religious-affiliated institutions in Canada to promote an “extreme Islamic jihadist interpretation of the Qur’an.”

He also described the obstacles to tracking how the money is spent because of Canada’s respect for religious freedom.

“The difficulty is in most cases the monies are not coming from governments; they’re coming from fairly wealthy institutions or individuals within some of these countries. It makes it doubly difficult to track,” Fadden said. It is “quite difficult” to determine where they money ends up.

Last year, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided the offices of the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy (IRFAN-Canada) after federal auditors accused the Muslim charity for transferring $15 million to Hamas. The Canadian government subsequently added IRFAN-Canada to its list of banned terrorist organizations.

IRFAN-Canada lost its charity status in 2011 following a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audit that exposed the organization as an “integral part” in Hamas’ international fundraising infrastructure.

The issue of foreign Islamist financing has been the subject of previous Canadian Senate committee hearings. In February, Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association in Winnipeg, testified that her organization refused $3 million dollars in donations from overseas “because there are strings attached to it, and we want to be a Canadian Muslim organization.”

A 2004 report by the Council on Foreign Relations revealed that Saudi Arabia is promoting its brand of radical Islamist ideology in Canada by funding certain Islamic institutions. The Saudi government acknowledged that it funds Muslim institutions in Canada, including mosques in Ottawa and Calgary and an Islamic center in Quebec.

The task force said that Saudi Arabia spent hundreds of millions of dollars to finance 1,359 mosques and 210 Islamic centers around the world.

“This massive spending is helping to create the next generation of terrorists and therefore constitutes a paramount strategic threat to the United States … This massive spending is an integral part of the terrorist financing problem. It fosters virulence and intolerance directly at the United States, Christians, Jews and even other Muslims,” the report said.

Also see:

***

Trudeau calls warnings about Muslim radicalization “fear mongering”

Hussein Hamdani suspended from National Security position

Saudis Arrest 93 ISIS Affiliates, Help Stop Terrorist Attacks

BD_244smallweb_944_1CSP, by Aaron Kliegman, April 28, 2015:

The Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry said Tuesday that it has arrested 93 people linked to Islamic State (ISIS), stopping several planned terrorist attacks including one on the United States Embassy in Riyadh. The arrests started in December, and most of those detained are Saudis.

According to Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki, authorities disrupted a plot by ISIS affiliates to target the U.S. Embassy with a suicide car bomb in March, but the embassy did not comment on the issue. U.S. officials, however, simultaneously stopped all consular services and diplomatic missions in Jiddah and Dhahran starting March 15th for a week, indicating probable awareness of the threat.

Furthermore, the arrests included a cell of 65 people in March who were planning attacks on prisons, security forces, and residential compounds. Authorities stopped another group of 15 Saudis who called themselves “Soldiers of the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and were led by a bomb-making expert.

The same day that al-Turki made his statement, Saudi police arrested suspected ISIS operative Nawaf al-Enezi, a Saudi citizen, for killing two police officers in Riyadh. He was reportedly one of two men ordered by ISIS in Syria to shoot police officers; the other one is in custody. Al-Turki said that al-Enezi’s attack was the fifth one by ISIS on Saudi soil.

Saudi Arabia is part of the U.S.-led coalition bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the jihadist group has called on its supporters to carryout attacks throughout the Sunni Arab state. Riyadh is a leading power in the Middle East as the region’s largest country by area, the world’s largest oil exporter, and the guardian of Islam’s two holiest sites – Mecca and Medina.

ISIS’s expansion throughout the region has secured it territory to operate within the failed states of Iraq and Syria, which it has used to move into Africa and central Asia. Furthermore, the threat of foreign fighters flowing in from around the world, including the West, is another destabilizing force.

Saudi Arabia, which supplied some 2,500 of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria has a vested interest in stopping ISIS and must, along with the other Arab states in the region, actively confront the threat the jihadist group poses.

However, Saudi Arabia has a record of funding terrorism, exporting jihadist ideology, and enforcing Sharia law in its territory no different to ISIS’s own reputation for brutality. In fact 92% of Saudi subjects polled stated that Islamic State “conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.”

If Saudi Arabia views ISIS as a national security threat and in direct opposition to its goal of regional stability then it must amend its own behavior and state ideology. Unfortunately, so far there’s little evidence they intend to do so.

A Game of Chicken in the Gulf of Aden

shipsNER, by Jerry Gordon and Ilana Freedman, April 24, 2015:

On the morning of April 21, 2015,   newspapers and media reporters trumpeted a headline that the Saudis were ending their month long air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.  The halt reflected concerns of the Obama Administration over the deteriorating situation in Yemen and the increasing role of Iran. The operation, named “Decisive Resolve”, allegedly led by the Saudi coalition with US administration backing, had destroyed a missile base, armored vehicles, and planes held by Houthi forces. The Houthi militias were allegedly allied with Yemeni strongman and former president of Yemen for over thirty years, 73-year old Ali Abdullah Saleh.  Saleh, who has survived political isolation, sanctions, civil war, and assassin attempts, created an alliance with the Houthis, his former enemies, in a bid to return to power in Yemen. Latest reports indicate that Saleh has left Yemen, perhaps to join party members in discussions with Saudi Arabia and coalition members of the Gulf Cooperation Council about resolving the conflict.

Saudi Air Strikes in Yemen WSJ 4-22-15

Since the Saudi air strikes began on March 26, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed. The Saudis were seeking to restore the internationally-recognized and US-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who served as president of Yemen from February 2012 until January 2015, when he was forced to resign after Houthi rebels raided his home and put him under house arrest. He subsequently escaped and fled to Saudi Arabia just as the Kingdom-led coalition began an air campaign against Houthi rebels on March 26, 2015.

Only hours after the first announcement of the cessation of Saudi air strikes, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir appeared at an Embassy press conference to announce the resumption of limited air attacks.  The Ambassador told reporters:

The Houthis should be under no illusion that we will continue to use force in order to stop them from taking Yemen over by aggressive action. We are determined to protect the Yemeni people and counter any aggressive moves that the Houthis may undertake. When the Houthis or their allies make aggressive moves there will be a response. The decision to calm matters now rests entirely with them.

In view of continued Houthi fighting in the central city of Taiz and against secessionist forces in Aden on the southern coast. This phase of the Saudi operation in Yemen was named “Renewal of Hope”, and was launched amid reports that the Houthis have surrounded the city of Aden on three sides.  In a later press conference on April 22nd, al-Jubeir said, “We will not allow them to take Yemen by force.”

The Houthis quickly put out a statement seeking the lifting of Saudi air and naval operations, and offering to hold political talks under UN auspices.  The defiant Houthi threatened to invade Saudi Arabia if the bombing continues.

A flotilla of nine Iranian vessels, seven commercial vessels escorted by two Iranian frigates, exited the Persian Gulf slow steaming down the Sea of Arabia towards a rendezvous in the Gulf of Aden. Nine US vessels were already positioned there. Nevertheless, that group has been joined by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), an aircraft carrier capable of carrying 90 F/A-18 fighter jets and helicopters. The Roosevelt was accompanied by the USS Normandy (CG-60), a guided-missile escort ship. They came from the Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain in the Gulf, presumably to shadow the Iranian flotilla.

The Saudis, with the aid of Egyptian naval vessels, have established a virtual blockade of Yemen preventing deliveries of food, civilian goods, and weapons from Houthi ally, Iran.   The UN Security Council passed a resolution barring the supply of advanced missiles to Yemen.

Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter made his first comments on the dispatch of the US carrier and guided missile cruiser to the Arabian Sea while on a trip to California.  Carter told them that “he was not prepared to say whether the U.S. would be willing to forcibly stop and board one of the Iranian ships if it tries to cross into Yemen.”  Further, he said:

We have options. We’re not at that point. We’re at the point of trying to get the parties back to the table.

Still, he said the U.S. is making it clear to Iran that “obviously fanning the flames or contributing to it by any party is not welcome to us.”

President Obama in an MSNBC interview said:

Right now, their ships are in international waters. What we’ve said to them is that if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that’s a problem. And we’re not sending them obscure messages — we send them very direct messages about it.

On the other hand, senior defense and military officials told NBC News that American warships were prepared to intercept the convoy of Iranian ships, because they were suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi rebel forces in Yemen.

Several versions of their mission have already been floated by various government offices. The White House, Pentagon and State Department have issued statements to the effect the US carrier battle group is there to monitoring sea lanes. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said, “the principle goal is to maintain freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea”.

On the other hand, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren suggested that there could be a flight of refugees across the narrow Bab al Mandab that separates Yemen from the horn of Africa. The US naval vessels might be conveniently positioned to prevent a disaster similar to the one last weekend in the Mediterranean that witnessed over 700 people attempting to flee from war-torn Libya, drowned when the overloaded fishing boat capsized.

The stories may be inconsistent, but one thing is clear. If history is any measure, the Iranian flotilla is certain to be carrying weapons and supplies to aid the Houthi forces, not the humanitarian assistance they claim is to alleviate the Saudi and Egyptian blockade of Yemeni ports.  The US administration has been clear that the shadowing US naval forces have not been given orders to enable them to hail and board Iranian vessels. They are concerned that boarding the Iranian ships might create an incident that could threaten a successful outcome in the ongoing nuclear in which President Obama and  Secretary of State Kerry have invested so much effort. The negotiations the Administration appears committed to closing a deal offering so-called signing bonuses of $30 to 50 billion in release of oil revenues.

These statements by Pentagon and Administration spokespersons reflect the quandary in which the Administration now finds itself, and they can’t seem to get their story straight.  In the midst of problematic negotiations on a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, which the Administration appears to want to complete at all costs, the US is also allegedly backing Saudi Arabia with both intelligence and weapons in the fight against the Iran-backed Houthi.  The American position in this conflict is far from clear.

One possibility not mentioned in any of the media is the possibility that the American presence is neither to stop the Iranian ships, nor to board them, but to keep the other countries’ naval officers from boarding them. The purpose of this mission would be to maintain our nuclear negotiations with Iran moving forward without the suggestion of our threatening them in another theater.

The situation in the region is extremely complicated and America’s mission there is uncertain. While appearing to support the Saudi position, the US has also provided intelligence to the Houthi, ostensibly to ward off threat of a resurgent AQAP. And while appearing to be a deterrent to Iranian arms delivery to the Houthis, the massive American presence on the scene may be, in fact, a deterrent to other ships whose mission is to board the Iranian cargo ships should they approach the port in Aden.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is existentially concerned about Iranian expansion of its hegemony into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, where Iranian Quds Force and Revolutionary Guard “consultants’ have been active in expanding their control. In Iraq, they have been training Shia militia in the war against the Islamic State.

In response to the Iranian threat, Saudi Arabia has undertaken action to subjugate the restive Shia majority in Bahrain, home port for the US Fifth Fleet, and in the oil rich Eastern Province with a large Shia population.  The Saudis are spending billions to complete security fences on its northern and Southern borders, and the Kingdom has reportedly mobilized 150,000 troops for possible action in Yemen.

The situation is the Arabian Sea is fluid. The latest reports indicate that despite the strong words from Iran, their ships have now turned around and are heading back toward the Strait of Hormuz. At this writing, they are reported to be heading east in the Arabian Sea, south of Salalah, Oman.

Failed US Policy    Less than a year ago, President Obama hailed Yemen as a foreign policy ‘success’ story in its drone campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But with the fall of Yemen’s capital Sana’a to Houthi forces and the flight of ousted President Hadi to Saudi Arabia, the vacuum in the country has been filled by open conflict between Sunni tribes loyal to AQAP, those units loyal to Hadi, and secessionist forces in Aden. America’s precipitous and humiliating departure from Yemen was more than proof that our policy had been anything but successful.

Effectively Yemen is a failed state.  When the mobs attacked it, the US Embassy closed in panic, leaving 4,000 American citizens stranded in a country that was rapidly falling into chaos and bloody fighting. The US special operations contingent decamped to Camp Lemonnier across the Bab al Mandab at AFRICOM headquarters in Djibouti.  The former US special ops Yemen bases were overrun and destroyed. Without local intelligence from within Yemen, the counterterrorism drone campaign against the AQAP was effectively been shut down.

The current game of chicken on the high seas in the Gulf of Aden is a dangerous one, not the least because it is difficult to understand what the end game is supposed to be. The problem now is that the Iranian Ayatollah and his Revolutionary Guards commanders may relish such a confrontation with the US, Saudi and Egyptian naval contingents to see who would blink first in the game of chicken.  Some might consider the Iranian flotilla as a possible causus belli. After all the UN Security Council adopted a resolution barring the shipment of missiles into Yemen.

The dangerous confrontation seems, for the moment, to be averted. Iran’s ships have turned back, perhaps temporarily. We don’t know why, or what their long range game plan may bring.

The irony the Administration found itself in over the looming confrontation in the Gulf of Aden was that the US might have had to rely on the Saudis and the Egyptians, both of whom America had supplied weapons to, but over whom the US now has little to no control.  The looming question is whether a satisfactory denouement with Iran would even be possible were Iran already a nuclear state.

That Iran is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons is no longer the question. All evidence points to this being the case, ongoing talks with P5+1 and the so-called 13 year ‘deal’ notwithstanding.  Latest reports say that Iran is on the ‘nuclear threshold’ with less than three months before it has full nuclear weapons capability. The Iranian nuclear threshold concerns the Saudis, Gulf Emirates, Egypt, and Israel. Israel has not been diffident in the past about intercepting and boarding commercial vessels carrying illicit cargoes of missiles from Iran supplying proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.

In the game of chicken still being played out in the Arabian Sea, it remains to be seen whether the Obama Administration has the resolve to stare down this latest move by Iran, or is the President more than likely blink first?

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst, specializing in Islamic and related sources of terrorism and their impact on the Western world. Jerry Gordon is a Senior Editor at the New English Review

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The Watchman: Iran, ISIS and What Can Be Done

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Published on Apr 21, 2015 by CBN News

On this week’s episode of The Watchman, we sit down with national security expert and former Pentagon spokesman J.D. Gordon to discuss the threats posed by Iran and ISIS and how America should counter them.

Iranian General Threatens Strikes on Saudi Arabian Soil

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Clarion Project, April 21, 2015:

The commander of the ground troops in the Iranian army, General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, threatened Saudi Arabia with military strikes if it doesn’t stop the fighting in Yemen.

According to the Iranian Arabic language channel El-Alam, Pourdastan said that the Islamic Republic is not interested in getting into a conflict with Saudi Arabia. He called on Riyadh to stop fighting against her brothers in Yemen and said “by doing so she is entering a war of attrition which might expose her to severe strikes.”

Pourdastan reportedly claimed that his country will bomb Saudi Arabia if she won’t stop her attacks.

He added that “the Saudi army needs combat experience and that is why it is a weak army. If she will stand against a war of attrition she will be struck very hard and will be defeated. That’s why Riyadh should drop the option and turn to a diplomatic option and to negotiation.”

Pourdistan praised the successes of the Shiite aligned Yemini forces fighting against President Hadi, saying “The next stage will be carrying out strikes against Saudi Arabia.”

Pourdistan declared “the Islamic Republic is not interested in a confrontation with Saudi Arabia for she is a friend nation and our neighbor. The military advisor in the Saudi Embassy is currently in Iran. We invited him to the ceremonies of the Army Day that was on Saturday.

We want to have relations with Saudi Arabia and we don’t want bloody relations. There are still tables for dialogue and they can solve the problems. There is no need to use weapons or military equipment.”

Yet he also threatened Saudi Arabia saying “explosions might occur in Saudi Arabia through rockets falling on the ground. It is clear that dealing with that will be very hard for the Saudi officials.”

He suggested that forces in Yemen strike Saudi Arabia. He said “Based on the military purchases and the abilities of the Yemeni army, it is capable of inflicting painful strikes on Saudi Arabia.”

For more information about Iran’s regional ambitions see Clarion Project’s Factsheet: Iranian Regional Hegemony

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