Robert Fisk: The battle for the Middle East’s future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss

FYI.


As a Saudi-led coalition wades into the fight for Yemen – currently under siege from Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran
As a Saudi-led coalition wades into the fight for Yemen – currently under siege from Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran – Robert Fisk examines the much wider-reaching repercussions of this escalating conflict

The battle for the Middle East’s future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss (Independent, March 27, 2015):

Saudi Arabia has jumped into the abyss.

Its air attacks on Yemen are a historic and potentially fatal blow to the Kingdom and to the Middle East.

Who decided that this extraordinary battle should take shape in the poorest of Arab nations? The Saudis, whose King is widely rumoured in the Arab world to be incapable of taking decisions of state? Or the princes within the Saudi army who fear that their own security forces may not be loyal to the monarchy?

Read moreRobert Fisk: The battle for the Middle East’s future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss

25 QUOTES About The Coming War With Syria That Every American Should See

25 Quotes About The Coming War With Syria That Every American Should See (Economic Collapse, Aug 29, 2013):

If Barack Obama is going to attack Syria, he is going to do it without the support of the American people, without the approval of Congress, without the approval of the United Nations, and without the help of the British.  Now that the British Parliament has voted against a military strike, the Obama administration is saying that it may take “unilateral action” against Syria.  But what good would “a shot across Syria’s bow” actually do?  A “limited strike” is not going to bring down the Assad regime and it is certainly not going to end the bloody civil war that has been raging inside Syria.  Even if the U.S. eventually removed Assad, the al-Qaeda affiliated rebels that would take power would almost certainly be even worse than Assad.  Even in the midst of this bloody civil war, the rebels have taken the time and the effort to massacre entire Christian villages.  Why is Barack Obama so obsessed with helping such monsters?  There is no good outcome in Syria.  The Assad regime is absolutely horrible and the rebels are even worse.  Why would we want the U.S. military to get involved in such a mess?

Read more25 QUOTES About The Coming War With Syria That Every American Should See

Robert Fisk: The Truth Is That After Israel’s Air Strikes, We Are Involved

Robert Fisk: The truth is that after Israel’s air strikes, we are involved (Independent, May 5, 2013):

If the EU and US say nothing about these attacks, approval is granted

Lights in the sky over Damascus. Another Israeli raid – “daring” of course, in the words of Israel’s supporters, and the second in two days – on Bashar al-Assad’s weaponry and military facilities and weapons stores. The story is already familiar: the Israelis wanted to prevent a shipment of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon;  they were being sent by the Syrian government. According, at least, to a ‘Western intelligence source’. Anonymous, of course. And it opens the old question: why when the Syrian regime is fighting for its life would it send advanced missiles out of Syria?

Read moreRobert Fisk: The Truth Is That After Israel’s Air Strikes, We Are Involved

Robert Fisk: Hamas And Israel Have Opened The ‘Gates Off Hell’ In Gaza yet again. And The Number Of Journalistic Cliches In Hell Is Growing By The Day

Hamas and Israel have opened the ‘gates of hell’ in Gaza yet again. And the number of journalistic cliches in hell is growing by the day (Independent, Nov 18, 2012):

‘Surgical air strikes’, ‘rooting out terror’, and ‘cyber-terrorism’ cannot conceal reality

Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror. Here we go again. Israel is going to “root out Palestinian terror” – which it has been claiming to do, unsuccessfully, for 64 years – while Hamas, the latest in “Palestine’s” morbid militias, announces that Israel has “opened the gates of hell” by murdering its military leader, Ahmed al-Jabari.

Hezbollah several times announced that Israel had “opened the gates of hell” for attacking Lebanon. Yasser Arafat, who was a super-terrorist, then a super-statesman – after capitulating on the White House lawn – and then became a super-terrorist again when he realised he’d been conned by Camp David; he, too waffled on about the “gates of hell” in 1982.

And we journos are writing like performing bears, repeating all the clichés we’ve used for the past 40 years. The killing of Mr Jabari was a “targeted attack”, it was a “surgical air strike” – like the Israeli “surgical air strikes” which killed almost 17,000 civilians in Lebanon in 1982, the 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, in 2006, or the 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in Gaza in 2008-9, or the pregnant woman and the baby who were killed by the “surgical air strikes” in Gaza last week – and the 11 civilians killed in one Gaza house yesterday. At least Hamas, with their Godzilla rockets, don’t claim anything “surgical” about them. They are meant to murder Israelis – any Israelis, man woman or child.

As, in truth, are the Israeli attacks on Gaza. But don’t say that or you’ll be an anti-Semitic Nazi; almost as evil, wicked, unspeakable, devilish and murderous as the Hamas movement with which – again, please don’t mention this – Israel happily negotiated in the Eighties when they encouraged this bunch of mobsters to take power in Gaza and thus decapitate the exiled super-terrorist Arafat. The new exchange rate in Gaza for Palestinian and Israeli deaths has reached 16:1. It will rise, of course. The exchange rate in 2008-9 was 100:1.

And we are myth-making too. The last Israeli war in Gaza was such a stunning success – “rooting out terror”, of course – that their supposedly élite units couldn’t even find their own captured soldier Gilad Shalit, eventually produced last year by Mr Jabari in person.

Mr Jabari was the “No 1 shadowy leader” of Hamas, according to the Associated Press. But how on earth can he be shadowy when we know his date of birth, family details, his years of imprisonment by Israel during which he changed allegiance from Fatah to Hamas? So while I’m on it, those years of Israeli imprisonment didn’t exactly convert Mr Jabari to pacifism, did they? Well, no tears then; he was a man who lived by the sword and died by the sword, a fate which, of course, will not afflict Israel’s warriors of the air as they kill civilians in Gaza.

Washington supports Israel’s “right to defend itself” then claims a spurious neutrality – as if Israel’s bombs on Gaza didn’t come from the United States as assuredly as the Fajr-5 rockets come from Iran.

Read moreRobert Fisk: Hamas And Israel Have Opened The ‘Gates Off Hell’ In Gaza yet again. And The Number Of Journalistic Cliches In Hell Is Growing By The Day

Robert Fisk: Aleppo’s Poor Get Caught In The Crossfire Of Syria’s Civil War

Robert Fisk: Aleppo’s poor get caught in the crossfire of Syria’s civil war (Independent, Aug 24,2012):

Our writer meets the civilians who have been stranded on the streets by a brutal conflict

In Aleppo, the rich have already left, the middle classes stay at home and the poor suffer. You only have walk through the old French park beside Saadalah al-Jabri Square to meet them, three families of 19 souls, the women in black and sun-burnt, the children dark-skinned, mothers-in-law and nephews lying exhausted on thin carpets laid over withered grass. It is 37C. They lie under the shade of a scrawny tree, their only cover since they came here a month ago from the city suburb of Haderiyah.

There is a father in his mid-forties who refuses to give even his first name but is prepared to tell their story. “The Free Army came to our mosque and an imam told us to leave our homes – even my own home, which was owned by my father and grandfather and great-grandfather. This man kept shouting through a loudspeaker: ‘Go out of your homes’. This was his advice. And then we heard bombs and bullets, so we left our home.”

The man is a Syrian Kurd, a shoe-shine man from the slums, and he referred to those opposing Bashar al-Assad’s regime as the Free Army – albeit without much affection – but we have to strain to hear his words, nearly drowned out by a helicopter.

Read moreRobert Fisk: Aleppo’s Poor Get Caught In The Crossfire Of Syria’s Civil War

Robert Fisk: ‘No Power Can Bring Down The Syrian Regime’

Robert Fisk: ‘No power can bring down the Syrian regime’ (Independent, Aug 22, 2012):

After gaining exclusive access to Bashar al-Assad’s army officers, our writer reports from the Aleppo front line

You know it’s all true when the taxi driver turns off the motorway towards Aleppo. In front lies a mile of empty road, disappearing into the heat haze on its way to one of the oldest cities in the world.

But a halo of brown smoke embraces the horizon and the driver knows better than to follow the motorway signs from the airport. He turns left, gingerly bouncing over the broken median rail, then between two huge piles of rocks like a frightened cat. In front of us is a sea of burnt houses and wrecked cars, through which we drive slowly. The engine cuts out in the way my dad’s car used to in France on bad post-war petrol, the accelerator cutting out nervously as we drive past two rubbish trucks upended to form a makeshift road-block.

But these are phantom check points. There are no gunmen, no militiamen, no al-Qa’ida, no “terrorists”, no “gangs”, no “foreign fighters” – how one grows sick of these eternal semantics – and not a civilian soul, because this battle is over – for now.

Read moreRobert Fisk: ‘No Power Can Bring Down The Syrian Regime’

Robert Fisk: Condemn Me, But Get Your Facts Right First’ (Independent)

Robert Fisk: Condemn me, but get your facts right first (Independent, Mar 10, 2012):

Here we go again. This libellous and racist quotation comes from an email sent to The Independent by “Bernadette”, a member of a pro-Israeli lobby group in Australia.

“Robert Fisk is the most anti-Semitic, rabid, prejudiced, blithering fool in Britain, if not the world – he is a non-journalist, in fact he’s a raving idiot with a very small mind and a very large ego. He stops at nothing to put his personal anti-Semitic message across, which he gets sent to him from the where? [sic] the Middle East, not through any personal investigation; he tells any number of lies that gullible, unthinking people can’t wait to agree with. He’s a pawn of the Muslims – may he enjoy them when they set up sharia law in Britain and Europe – which is what they intend doing – chances are, if he makes one slip, they would turn on him and have him stoned to death, or even publicly behead him. Unfortunately far too many people are totally fooled because of people like him.”

I don’t care about the vicious personal abuse – that’s what you get from pro-Israeli lobby outfits when they don’t like you – though I do care about the appalling sloppiness in the letter’s use of English grammar. But what really enrages me is the suggestion that my life is in danger, that I will be “stoned to death” or even publicly beheaded. Last time I faced this sort of filth, it came from the actor John Malkovich who told the Cambridge Union that he would like to shoot me and George Galloway. Quite apart from associating me with a jerk like Galloway, Malkovich spawned a heap of vileness on the internet from even less rational people, one of whom portrayed my face covered in blood with the caption: “Malkovich is jumping the queue.”

Read moreRobert Fisk: Condemn Me, But Get Your Facts Right First’ (Independent)

America’s Secret Plan To Arm Libya’s Rebels: Obama Asks Saudis To Airlift Weapons Into Benghazi (By Robert Fisk)


Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to a request from the US to supply weapons to rebels in Libya

Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a “day of rage” from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.

Washington’s request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 and later – to America’s chagrin – also funded and armed the Taliban.

But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to disclaim any military involvement in the supply chain – even though the arms would be American and paid for by the Saudis.

Read moreAmerica’s Secret Plan To Arm Libya’s Rebels: Obama Asks Saudis To Airlift Weapons Into Benghazi (By Robert Fisk)

Robert Fisk: Saudis Mobilise Thousands of Troops to Quell Growing Revolt


Saudi security forces in armoured vehicles responding to the threat of a Shia uprising this week

Saudi Arabia was yesterday drafting up to 10,000 security personnel into its north-eastern Shia Muslim provinces, clogging the highways into Dammam and other cities with busloads of troops in fear of next week’s “day of rage” by what is now called the “Hunayn Revolution”.

Saudi Arabia’s worst nightmare – the arrival of the new Arab awakening of rebellion and insurrection in the kingdom – is now casting its long shadow over the House of Saud. Provoked by the Shia majority uprising in the neighbouring Sunni-dominated island of Bahrain, where protesters are calling for the overthrow of the ruling al-Khalifa family, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is widely reported to have told the Bahraini authorities that if they do not crush their Shia revolt, his own forces will.

The opposition is expecting at least 20,000 Saudis to gather in Riyadh and in the Shia Muslim provinces of the north-east of the country in six days, to demand an end to corruption and, if necessary, the overthrow of the House of Saud. Saudi security forces have deployed troops and armed police across the Qatif area – where most of Saudi Arabia’s Shia Muslims live – and yesterday would-be protesters circulated photographs of armoured vehicles and buses of the state-security police on a highway near the port city of Dammam.

Read moreRobert Fisk: Saudis Mobilise Thousands of Troops to Quell Growing Revolt