American Presidents enjoy the company of Saudi Royals

Cash Strapped Saudi Arabia and 9/11 Lawsuits

Robert Fisk reports that Saudi Arabia is too broke to pay construction contractors and guest workers.  Despite the impending mulit-billion dollar US-Saudi arms deal, which they are ready to pay for, the Saudi Royals.are not meeting their minimal social obligations.   He references the horrific violence an destruction of the Saudi led war on Yemen and the fact that the Saudis are funding al Nusra, ie. Al Qaeda in Syria to undermine that state as well.   It is easy to judge the House of Saud for these crimes- but they are actually US crimes being carried out by the Saudi regime.   While more and more anti-war folks are sounding the call to stop arms sales to the Saudi government and remove their privileged status among US allies, the US government depends on them to facilitate US wars.   Despite a massive outpouring of sentiment in this country opposing the latest sale of weapons to the Saudi regime, Congress approved it.   The Saudi Royals may be greedy and manipulative and determined to control the Muslim World, but it is the United States rulers who are arrogant and ruthless and committed to rule the entire world.

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At the CodePink Saudi Symposium

On the 5th and 6th of March, I attended the CodePink Saudi Summit at David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington DC.    Saturday was jam packed with interesting speakers.   Sunday we put our heads together to work out ways to address the multiple issues currently swirling around Saudi Arabia and the House of Saud. You can learn more about what is going on at End the US Saudi Alliance.

Rather than attempt to summarize an incredibly complex and nuanced conversation, I am going to post some recordings of the panel discussions.   Rather than post the second rate videos from my Flip, I have posted my audio recordings, for those of you who would like to listen as you go about your day, at the end of this page.

If you have the time and the interest, CodePink has the entire set of recordings on the RealNews website.   RealNews did an outstanding job of livestreaming the entire days worth of panels on Saturday and posting the reasonably high quality recordings on their website:

2016 Saudi Summit: Understanding The Saudi Kingdom and Its Global Role

To go with the audio recordings below, I’ve pulled in the excellent, wonderful, brilliant Keynote by Vijay Prashad:

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Propaganda Report, 12/15

President Obama . . .

Speaking of a ‘theater’ of war – this language was common in the 50s and 60s when I was growing up.   Apparently Drones have not only made the language obsolete, but they have erased the history of ‘theater’ or, more specifically ‘battlefield’ based warfare.    I participated in Debate: US Drone Action Plan, on ‘The Debate‘ a show on PressTV over the weekend.   My opponent, Michael Lane, the founder of American Institute for Foreign Policy, took the stance that there never really was a battlefield, so the constraints of international law are purely abstract.   It would be odd if this entity referenced in western law going back hundreds of years never existed.

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About the Houthis and the Saudi War on Yemen

The war in Yemen has most often been described to us either as a civil war between the government of Yemen and its supporters, and a Houthi tribal militia. It is also represented as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia backing the Sunni government of Yemen and Iran backing a Shia insurgency led by the Houthis, a Zaydi tribe from northern Yemen.   Neither description is entirely accurate.   To understand what is happening in Yemen, it is useful to understand the factions who are fighting, and specifically, the Houthis.

The ‘correct’ title of the political movement we call the Houthis is Ansarullah.   They are not a tribal organization but rather a revolutionary movement. They are also not a Shia movement.   Zaydi Islam, though referred to by the Saudis as a Shia Islam, is in practice, much closer to Sunnism and in the north of Yemen, Sunni and Zaydi often worship in the same mosque.   In fact, Ansarullah, the group we know as the Houthis, has broad popular support because they espouse populist values.

The reason Ansarullah came to be called Houthis is that in 2004, they informally took the name of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, who died while fighting in an insurrection against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.   Al Houthi was so beloved that the members of the organization began to call themselves ‘Houthis’ or ‘the Houthi Movement’.   But you may ask, why was a Houthi leading this movement and in what context did they emerge?

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21 Talking Points on US Backed War in Yemen (Updated with Context and PDF)

I prepared the Fact Sheet below to distribute at a film being shown at the High Falls Film Festival.   ‘Yemeniettes‘, a documentary film made by a Lebanese film company, follows a group of teenage girls who win a regional science contest from their enthusiastic invention to a local contest in Sana’a and then on to Doha, and then through the events that follow their winning this international contest.  It is a delightful scenario with many unspoken contradictions, Though a level of the background violence is reflected in the film it mostly focuses on these very liberal Yemeniettes with their innocent capitalist (as well as nationalist) aspirations.

Sadly, current events have overrun the context of this film and it seems unlikely there will be any more Yemeniettes (or Yemenis of any stripe)  entering,  much less winning, regional science contests any time in the foreseeable future.  This is pertinent because the United States is providing all kinds of support to our Saudi allies in their war effort.   If you enjoy this film, you should understand that.

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  1. This US backed, Saudi led campaign is an intrusion into the internal politics of Yemen
  2. This US backed, Saudi led campaign has embroiled Yemen in an unnecessary civil war
  3. The US backed, Saudi War against Yemen constitutes a Crime Against Peace and is the site of numerous War Crimes

We in the US are complicit in the Saudi crimes against the People of Yemen!

 

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International Red Cross Report on Conditions in Yemen

This is the central city of the Houthi tribes from which the leadership of Ansarullah are are drawn.  The video was posted in early July.  Since then the aerial bombing has continued for nearly two months, and the ground fighting has increased. Yemen: ICRC calls for better access to civilians affected by continuing violence posted by the International Committee of […]

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Some Notes on the Conflict in Yemen

What is being reported right now The reporting on the conflict in Yemen, even within the peace and justice movement, has shifted significantly over the course of the Saudi bombing campaign.    The beginning is getting lost in the chaotic and politically fraught present.  Not surprisingly, all the latent factions in Yemen’s unstable past are now activated at cross purposes in […]

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The Saudi Proxy in the 21st Century

The United States relationship with Saudi Arabia is, on the surface, a mystery.   Saudi Arabia has been a U.S. proxy and a protectorate for nearly 100 years, yet it remains a very foreign  entity, which consistently engages in activities uncomfortable for US public sensibilities.   Wahabism, the state religion of Saudi Arabia, deeply meshed with the government, is the narrowest and most radical fundamentalism in the Muslim world.   Strict social limitations on women and a particularly harsh form of Sharia law are maintained by the Saudi regime.

Despite the fact that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was largely financed in Saudi Arabia, and 19 out of 21 hijackers were Saudi nationals, U.S. officials quitely flew a number of Saudi officials and some members of  the bin Laden family out of the country while the airspace was still technically closed.  In fact, Saudi Arabia is the single most generous financier of al Qaeda across the globe to this day.   Currently, the United States is supporting a barbaric Saudi bombing campaign against neighboring Yemen that has tkilled large numbers of civlians, destroyed much of the infrastructure and created severe shortages of food, water and medicine.

The Saudi regime, like Netanyahu in Israel, is dismayed by the Obama plan to reintegrate Iran with the global community through a comprehensive nuclear agreement.   And rightly so.

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Stop the War on Yemen

Even antiwar activists are now calling this a civil war.  But that is not the way it began.    This is a war against the people of Yemen, not between the political factions in Yemen.   Violence is self perpetuating so ever more factions will take up arms as long as the fighting continues.     Who will put an end to it?  I believe that instead of giving up on international institutions, we should demand that they do their job in a just and equitable manner.

I delivered this petition [Stop the Saudi War on Yemen], as advertised, to the UN Security Council in mid April.  I was very disappointed because the day before I delivered it, the United States was able to pass a resolution in the UN SC to condemn the Houthis rather than the  Saudi invaders.   There was, at the time of the Saudi aggression no reason why the political differemces in Yemen could not be resolved without destroying the country.  UN negotiatiors were working with the vaious parties and negotiations were ongoing when ex-President Hadi first resigned, and then fled to Aden in an attempt to assert supremacy from a new base, and then on to Ryadh, triggering the Saudi aggression.

Since then, Saudi led air attacks have not ceased but continued, resulting in thousands more civilian deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and the destruction of  the civil and material infrastructure of the country.  With western assistance, the Saudi regime has maintained a blockade that has driven the people of Yemen to the brink of famine, has left them without adequate supplies of water and medicine.

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