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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Arabian Peninsula / Persian Gulf update 6/10/2017...Sanaa district devastated in Saudi-led air strike

Sanaa district devastated in Saudi-led coalition air strike

A residential area in the Yemeni capital Sanaa was reduced to ruins, Friday, following an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition, which left at least four children, including two children dead. Footage from the airstrike site captured the aftermath of the bombing, which left the buildings collapsed and roads covered in wreckage and debris. Earlier this year, the UN made an urgent appeal to stave off famine in the country, as over seven million people are facing the threat of starvation. Currently, over three million people, including 2.1 million children, are acutely malnourished.

Casualty figures since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen in March 2015, with airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia, have exceeded 10,000 people in Yemen since March 2015, with a reported 40,000 injured and more than three million people displaced.

Saudis soldiers escaped after target a their site in Alrabwa city

Arab States Place Dozens On Qatar-Linked 'Terror Finance Watch List'

Trump slams Qatar for "extremist" ideology

Tillerson urges Saudi Arabia to ease blockade on Qatar

Peter Salisbury on conflicting (?) Trump/Tillerson #Qatarcrisis statements


Germany's Gabriel Warns Qatar Crisis "Could Lead To War" As Qatar Emissary Flies To Moscow | Zero Hedge

Germany's foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that the ongoing isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies could lead to a war in the Gulf region, according to an interview he gave to Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, although he added that he still saw a chance to defuse the tension.

"There is a danger that this dispute could lead to war," Gabriel said citing what he called a "dramatic" harshness in relations between allied and neighbouring countries in the Gulf.

The foreign minister said personal talks this week with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and phone calls with the foreign ministers of Iran and Kuwait underscored his concerns.

"After my talks this week, I know how serious the situation is, but I believe there are also good chances to make progress."

Gabriel also said that he had a phone conversation with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the Gulf situation on Friday and said that Tillerson showed a "very wise and prudent attitude" that has contributed to calming the conflict.

Yet while Tillerson was "calming" the conflict, during a press conference on Friday Trump appeared to be adding fire to it, when the president accused Qatar of being a "high level" funder of terrorism even as the Pentagon and Tillerson cautioned against the military, commercial and humanitarian effects of a blockade imposed by Arab states and others.

As expected, on Saturday Saudi Arabia and Bahrain welcomed Trump's demand for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism, but did not respond to a U.S. Department of State call for them to ease pressure on the Gulf state. After severing ties with Qatar on Monday, Saudi Arabia said it was committed to "decisive and swift action to cut off all funding sources for terrorism" in a statement carried by state news agency SPA, attributed to "an official source".

In a separate statement issued on Friday, the United Arab Emirates praised Trump's "leadership in challenging Qatar's troubling support for extremism".

A separate SPA report on Saturday acknowledged Tillerson's call for Qatar to curtail support for terrorism, but did not mention his remarks that the crisis was hurting ordinary Qataris, impairing business dealings and harming the U.S. fight against the Islamic State militant group. Saudi Arabia said its action followed the conclusions of last month's Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, where Trump delivered a speech about Islamic extremism.

Trump said he helped plan the move against Qatar, although a senior administration official told Reuters earlier this week that the U.S. had no indication from the Saudis or Emiratis during the visit that they would sever ties with Qatar.

Meanwhile, adding further fire to the situation, on Saturday Turkish President Recep Erdogan vowed to continue supporting Qatar. “Now, there are ones who are bothered because of us being together with our Qatari brothers or sending and exporting food supplies, drugs etc – no matter if they are in hunger or thirst – should excuse us. We will continue to give all our support to Qatar,” Erdogan said at an iftar (fast-breaking meal) with members of his AK Party in Istanbul, quoted by RT.

Echoing Tillerson, the Turkish urged Saudi Arabia, as “the largest and most powerful state in the Gulf,” to reduce tensions and lift sanctions. “It is wrong to add more troubles on top of everything in the term that the Muslim world is already struggling with a lot of problems,” he said. “I am calling you: There won't be any winners in the brother's fight.”

“You have to work for bringing brothers together. This is what we expect from Saudi, the Custodian of the Holy Mosques [in Mecca and Medina],” Erdogan added.

Separately, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Erdogan, who met with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Al Khalifa in Istanbul on Saturday, said a solution to the dispute needs to be found by the end of the month of Ramadan.

Also on Saturday, Moscow - where Qatar's foreign minister met with his Russian colleague - called for dialogue between Qatar and its neighbors in the Gulf, promising help in mediating the crisis, as Russia’s foreign minister met his Qatari counterpart.

“We have observed with concern the news of this escalation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in opening remarks of his meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Moscow.

“We cannot be happy in a situation when the relations between our partners are worsening. We are in favor of resolving any disagreements through… dialogue.”

Lavrov said that Russia is “ready to try to do everything in its power” to help resolve the crisis and said unity is needed to fight terrorism. “For us, unity is clearly necessary for maximum effect on this front (against terrorism),” he said.

Qatar has denounced the allegations against it, and Al-Thani during his meeting with Lavrov called the measures against the country “illegal.”

Finally, speaking of last week's CNN report which alleged that Russian hackers helped spark the crisis but Moscow has dismissed this as a “stale claim” with “zero evidence.”

The crisis in Qatar: yet another clumsy attempt by the Three Rogue States to weaken Iran

....................Iran, the real target of it all

The Iranians are now openly saying that the recent terrorist attack in Tehran was ordered by Saudi Arabia. Technically speaking, that means that Iran is now at war. In reality, of course, Iran being the real local superpower is acting with calm and restraint: the Iranians fully understand that this latest terrorist attack is a sign of weakness, if not desperation, and that the best reaction to it is to act the same way the Russians reacted to the bombings in Saint Petersburg: stay focused, calm and determined. Just like the Russians, the Iranians have now also offered to send food to Qatar but it is unlikely that they will intervene militarily unless the Saudis really go crazy. Besides, with Turkish forces soon deployed in Qatar, the Iranians have no real need for any displays of military might. I would argue that the simple fact that neither the USA nor Israel have dared to directly attack Iran since 1988 (since shooting down by the US Navy of the Iran Air Flight 655 Airbus) is the best proof of the real Iranian military power.

So where are we heading?

That is truly impossible to predict, if only because the actions of the Three Rogue States can hardly be described as “rational”. Still, assuming nobody goes crazy, my personal feeling is that Qatar will prevail and that the latest Saudi attempt to prove how powerful the Kingdom still is will fail, just like all the previous ones (in Bahrain 2011, Syria 2012 or Yemen 2015). Time is also not on the side of the Saudis. As for the Qataris, they have already clearly indicated that they are unwilling to surrender and that they will fight. The Saudis have already taken the outrageous decision to impose a blockade of a fellow Muslim country during the holy month of Ramadan. Will they really now further escalate and commit an act of aggression against a fellow Muslim country during that month? They might, but it is hard to believe that even they could be that ignorant of the Muslim public opinion. But if they don’t, then their operation will lose a lot of momentum while the Qataris will be given time to prepare politically, economically, socially and militarily. Qatar might be small, and the Qataris themselves not very numerous, but their immense pockets allow them to quickly line up any amount of suppliers and contractors willing to help them out. This is case where the famous “market forces” will act to Qatar’s advantage.

The Qatari Foreign Minister is expected in Moscow on Saturday and it is pretty obvious what the talks will be about: while Russia will not put all her political weight to support the Qataris, the Kremlin might accept to become a mediator between the KSA and Qatar. If that happens, that would be the ultimate irony: the main outcome of the Saudi-Israeli-US operation will make Russia an even more influential player in the region. As for Qatar itself, the outcome of this crisis will probably articulate itself along Nietzschean lines: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”....................

Iran Sends 4 Consignments of Foodstuff to Qatar

Iran's national flag carrier, Iran Air, announced that it has carried four consignments of foodstuff to Qatar after the Arab country was boycotted by its other neighbors. "After Qatar was sanctioned by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, Iran Air has transferred foodstuff and vegetables to Qatar on four flights so far," Head of Iran Air's Public Relations Office Shahrokh Noushabadi told FNA on Saturday. He underlined Iran Air's preparedness to transfer more foodstuff and vegetable to Qatar upon the Arab country's demand.

Iran has rallied to Qatar’s aid, offering the Persian Gulf state the use of three of its ports to import supplies as its Arab neighbors seek to isolate the emirate. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said Doha would be able to import all the goods it needed. He described the de facto blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as “collective punishment”. “We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive. We are a platform for peace not terrorism,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters. Riyadh and its allies on Monday announced their move to isolate Qatar, accusing the Persian Gulf state of supporting terrorist groups and being too close to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival. Turkey also on Wednesday threw its weight behind Doha, fast-tracking plans to deploy extra Turkish troops to Qatar, potentially putting Ankara on a collision course with Riyadh.

Qatar, which hosts the US’s main military base in the Middle East, admits that it supports Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the Palestinian faction. But it denies it backs terrorism. The small nation imports virtually all its goods, but Sheikh Mohammed said that only 16 per cent of food supplies come into Qatar via the countries that have imposed the de facto blockade. “It’s replaceable and has been replaced in one day,” he said. “They [Qataris] can survive at the same standard forever,” he said. But he decried the humanitarian cost of Qatar’s neighbors’ actions, which has meant that Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrainis have to leave Qatar in two weeks. Qataris also have the same amount of time to leave those nations.

Turkish President calls for lifting of blockade on Qatar

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