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A Bosnian signs off weapons he says are going to Saudi Arabia – but how did his signature turn up in Aleppo?

In the basement of a bombed-out al-Qaeda arms storage building in eastern Aleppo last year, I found a weapons log book from a mortar factory in Bosnia – with the handwritten name of one of their senior officials, Ifet Krnjic, on each page. It was dispatched from the Balkans with a cargo of 500 120mm mortars in January 2016. But now, in the forested heart of central Bosnia, I have found Mr Krnjic, who says his company sent the arms to Saudi Arabia.

Sitting on the lawn of his home south of the weapons-manufacturing town of Novi Travnik, he brings his finger down onto the first page of the log book which I showed him. “This is my signature! Yes, that’s me!” Krnjic exclaims loudly. “It’s a warranty for the 120mm mortar launcher – this is Nato standard. It [the shipment] went to Saudi Arabia. It was part of a supply of 500 mortars. I remember the Saudi shipment well. They [the Saudis] came to our factory to inspect the weapons at the beginning of 2016.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-war-bosnia-saudi-arabia-aleppo-weapons-arms-deals-a8451841.html

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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Europe, Middle East

 

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I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers, so it’s time for the west to reveal who they sell arms to

Readers, a small detective story. Note down this number: MFG BGM-71E-1B. And this number: STOCK NO 1410-01-300-0254. And this code: DAA A01 C-0292. I found all these numerals printed on the side of a spent missile casing lying in the basement of a bombed-out Islamist base in eastern Aleppo last year. At the top were the words “Hughes Aircraft Co”, founded in California back in the 1930s by the infamous Howard Hughes and sold in 1997 to Raytheon, the massive US defence contractor whose profits last year came to $23.35bn (£18bn). Shareholders include the Bank of America and Deutsche Bank. Raytheon’s Middle East offices can be found in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Kuwait.

There were dozens of other used-up identical missile casings in the same underground room in the ruins of eastern Aleppo, with sequential codings; in other words, these anti-armour missiles – known in the trade as Tows, “Tube-launched, optically tracked and wire-guided missiles” – were not individual items smuggled into Syria through the old and much reported CIA smugglers’ trail from Libya. These were shipments, whole batches of weapons that left their point of origin on military aircraft pallets.

Some time ago, in the United States, I met an old Hughes Aircraft executive who laughed when I told him my story of finding his missiles in eastern Aleppo. When the company was sold, Hughes had been split up into eight components, he said. But assuredly, this batch of rockets had left from a US government base. Amateur sleuths may have already tracked down the first set of numbers above. The “01” in the stock number is a Nato coding for the US, and the BGM-71E is a Raytheon Systems Company product. There are videos of Islamist fighters using the BGM-71E-1B variety in Idlib province two years before I found the casings of other anti-tank missiles in neighbouring Aleppo. As for the code: DAA A01 C-0292, I am still trying to trace this number.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-missile-arms-deals-west-us-uk-saudi-arabia-a8459731.html

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Middle East

 

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The Blowup With Canada Is the Latest Saudi Overreach. Will They Ever Pay a Price?

Have the Saudis gone stark-raving bonkers?

First, they pick a fight with Canada — yeah, that Canada! Maple syrup-loving, hockey-playing, poutine-eating, liberal, multicultural Canada; the land with free health care and a prime minister who wears “Eid Mubarak” socks.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia (over)reacted to a single tweet from the Canadian foreign ministry. The tweet called on the Saudis to “immediately release” imprisoned activist Samar Badawi, sister of Raif, as well as “all other peaceful #humanrights activists.” The Saudi foreign ministry lambasted the Canadians for an “unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable” statement, announced the “freezing of all new trade and investment transactions” with Canada, demanding the Canadian ambassador leave the country “within the next 24 hours.”

https://theintercept.com/2018/08/07/saudi-arabia-canada-tweet/

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Middle East

 

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As Saudi Arabia and the UAE struggle for control of Socotra, Yemen’s island paradise may just swap one occupation for another

Monsoon season has almost arrived on the Socotra archipelago.

Overnight on Thursday, the first storm of the year, Cyclone Sagar, began forming over the Gulf of Aden. As the winds picked up to 80kph (50mph) and the water began to churn, fishermen were warned not to take their boats out.

For the next two months, the Arabian Sea will be too dangerous to cross and the isolated Yemeni island will be almost completely cut off from the outside world.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/socotra-yemen-civil-war-uae-saudi-arabia-occupation-military-emirates-a8360441.html

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Socotra is finally dragged into Yemen’s civil war, ripping apart the island’s way of life

Women aren’t often seen in public on the Yemeni island of Socotra; their voices certainly don’t carry through the streets.

But everything is changing on the island at the moment. “My blood, my soul, for you, Yemen,” around two dozen women shouted as they marched through the main town of Hadibo on Saturday, carrying Yemeni flags the size of bed sheets.

Since Socotra has become the focus of an unprecedented power struggle between Yemen’s government and its supposed ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the red, white and black of the mainland flag is no longer a given on the isolated Arabian Sea island. Emirati green and Socotran separatist blue flags also shimmer during counter-protests as Egyptian vultures coast on thermal currents overhead.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/socotra-yemen-civil-war-uae-miltary-base-island-life-emirates-a8342621.html

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Middle East

 

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Socotra island: The Unesco-protected ‘Jewel of Arabia’ vanishing amid Yemen’s civil war

Legend has it the otherworldly dragon’s blood tree first grew on the spot where two brothers, Darsa and Samha, fought to the death. In Arabic, it is known as dam al akhawain – “the blood of the two brothers”.

The unique tree, with its crimson resin and dense crown of prehistoric leaves, is a beloved symbol of the Arabian Sea island of Socotra and its parent country of Yemen.

But like the ancient Darsa and Samha, Yemen is a country of two halves once again at war with each other. The conflict places Socotra at the centre of a new power struggle between the weakened Yemeni government and the geopolitical ambitions of its ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/socotra-island-yemen-civil-war-uae-military-base-unesco-protected-indian-ocean-a8331946.html

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Middle East, Uncategorized

 

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Wretched third anniversary of international intervention in Yemen: the Saudi-led coalition and humanitarian disaster. Part 2

Whether by design or accident, the third anniversary of the international military intervention in Yemen’s civil war coincides with Mohammed bin Salman’s first official visit to the USA as crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was the brain behind the coalition originally intended to return to power the transitional regime established after the 2011 popular uprisings, a regime which can roughly be described as intended to shift power from one kleptocratic elite in Yemen to another. Regardless of this past[1], the situation on the third anniversary of the first air strikes on Sana’a city, is causing considerable embarrassment to the regime which MBS effectively leads.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/wretched-third-anniversary-of-international-intervention-in-yem

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Middle East

 

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On a wretched third anniversary of the international intervention in Yemen, is the rise of the Huthis irresistible? Part 1

In Sana’a the Saleh-Huthi alliance is terminated, with extreme prejudice for Saleh himself whom the Huthis killed on 4 December 2017. An alliance contre nature at the best of times, the struggle for supremacy between the two groups defined their relationship since its start: tensions increased and deepened over time as the Huthi movement grew in strength at the expense of Saleh’s military.

This was partly due to Saleh’s early tactical error to instruct his military units and political supporters to work with the Huthis. Presumably, his plan was to let the Huthis take the blame for everything that went wrong while his own forces stayed in the background ready to respond to his orders when the time came. However, this allowed the Huthis to gradually take over most leading positions in the military leading to their becoming the stronger element, while they imposed their ‘supervisors’ throughout the civil administration system, who controlled the activities of the institutions.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/on-wretched-third-anniversary-of-international-intervention-in-

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Middle East

 

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A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East

A few days after Donald Trump was inaugurated, Jared Kushner sat down to decide how to reshape the Middle East. During the campaign, Trump had promised a sweeping transformation of the region. Steve Bannon, Trump’s senior aide and ideologist at the time, told me recently, “Our plan was to annihilate the physical caliphate of ISIS in Iraq and Syria—not attrition, annihilation—and to roll back the Persians. And force the Gulf states to stop funding radical Islam.” The Middle East initiative, Bannon said, was one of the few points of agreement in an otherwise fractious White House. “Jared and I were at war on a number of other topics, but not this.”

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/09/a-saudi-princes-quest-to-remake-the-middle-east

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Middle East

 

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MBS feted in the US despite war atrocities in Yemen

The US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations

The current US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations.
The fact that MBS also happens to be destroying Yemen is just a minor glitch. Smooth PR is always able to secure the maxim that not all dictators, Arab or otherwise, are equal; after all “our” bastards can get away with everything.

Until they can’t — as in Saddam Hussein or Hosni Mubarak.

MBS’s PR orb sucks up everything, from a softball 60 Minutes interview to schmoozing with a galaxy of high-profile figures such as Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, close pal Jared Kushner, James Mattis, Barack Obama, John Kerry, David Petraeus, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook, and the CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Amazon, Uber and the Walt Disney Company.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/MBS-feted-in-the-US-despit-by-Pepe-Escobar-Al-Qaeda_Aramco_Crown-Prince-Mohammed-Bin-Salman_Houthis-180330-506.html

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in Middle East

 

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