Friday, December 27, 2013

China Investigates Vaccine Maker After Deaths Of Infants

A comprehensive investigation required, criminal charges filed where warranted

NEW YORK TIMES
By David Barboza
12/25/2013

SHANGHAI —

Health authorities in China are investigating one of the nation’s biggest vaccine makers after eight infants died in the past two months following injections that were meant to immunize them against hepatitis B.
The government said this week that it had suspended the use of millions of doses of a hepatitis B vaccine produced by the manufacturer, Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products. Government inspectors have been sent to examine the company’s facilities.

Six of the deaths have been linked to vaccines produced by Shenzhen Kangtai; the two other infant deaths occurred recently after the use of a hepatitis B vaccine produced by another drug maker, Beijing Tiantan Biological Products. The government did not say whether any action had been taken against Beijing Tiantan or its vaccines. Investigators have not determined the cause of the deaths or linked them directly to the injections, but the cases come at a time of growing public concern in China about food and drug safety problems.

In recent years, China has been troubled by a series of scandals, including tainted rice and milk and the mysterious appearance of thousands of dead pigs floating in the Huangpu River in Shanghai. China has vowed repeatedly to crack down on food and drug safety violations and has moved to strengthen the powers of health officials.

In the vaccine cases, the government is focusing on the role of Shenzhen Kangtai, a privately run drug maker formed in 1992 with government support and the cooperation of the American pharmaceutical company Merck.
Merck helped the company build its drug-manufacturing facility in the city of Shenzhen in the 1990s, and it gave the company the biological technology to produce a hepatitis B vaccine royalty free as part of an unusual joint venture aimed at improving health standards in China. At the time, up to two million Chinese children were being infected annually with hepatitis B.

Since then, China has made great strides in early vaccinations under a national program subsidized by the government. And Shenzhen Kangtai has become the country’s biggest producer of hepatitis B vaccines, with a 60 percent market share, according to China’s state-run news media. The company has also announced plans to build a $140 million research and development and drug manufacturing center in Shenzhen.

A representative for Shenzhen Kangtai could not be reached Wednesday, although the company denied last week that its vaccines were at fault in the recent infant deaths.

Although the authorities have banned the use of Shenzhen Kangtai’s hepatitis B vaccines at medical facilities, health experts say there are enough vaccines produced by five other Chinese drug makers to meet the demands of the national immunization program. In China, most hepatitis B vaccines are provided free to newborns.

Hepatitis B, which attacks the liver and can lead to death, is the most virulent form of hepatitis, according to the World Health Organization. Chronic forms of hepatitis affect about 500 million people a year worldwide. 


This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 



California Bans Lead Ammunition

A ludicrous back-door attempt by Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown to circumvent the Constitutional right for Americans to keep and bear arms

FIELD AND STREAM
By Phil Bourjaily
10/17/2013

Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 711 on Friday, Oct. 11, banning lead ammunition for hunting in California. The statewide ban takes effect in 2019. Brown noted that hunters and anglers are "the original conservationists" and that switching to non-toxic ammunition "will allow them to continue the conservation heritage of California."


In his signing statement Brown added: "Lead poses a danger to wildlife. This danger has been known for a long time. 
Since 2007, California has prohibited it in the eight counties within the condor range. In fact, at least thirty other states regulate lead ammunition in some manner."

The NRA, which deems A.B. 711 an "anti-hunting bill" promises to "look over all the recently signed laws and our legal options for law-abiding Californians."

Brown took action on several firearms measures Friday, banning kits that expand the capacity of ten round magazines and making it a crime to leave a loaded gun in an area where minors might find it without permission.




Brown also vetoed several gun bills, including SB 374 that would have defined all semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines as "assault weapons," banning their future sale and transfer and requiring current owners to register and pay a fee. In vetoing that bill Brown wrote: "I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights."






This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 

The Saudi Anger Has Many Faces (III)

Obama/Saudi version of "Faces of Death"

STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION
By  Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR
12/25/2013

Jamal Kashoggi’s fusillade against Prince Bandar bin Sultan is as far as criticism can go in the Saudi press against a powerful member of the House of Saud, but, to be sure, the tensions between rival princes are spilling over to the press and the policies that Bandar, presently the chief of Saudi intelligence, has been expounding have come under attack. 
 
 
Apostate Saudi murderer Playboy Prince Bandar
Besides, it is not only the Syria front where Bandar has been involved. Bandar was also the Saudi point person who piloted the military coup in Egypt. In fact, none of the theatres where Bandar’s footprint is discernible – Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria – things are going well for Saudi Arabia and all are interconnected.

Egypt is likely to turn out to be an Albatross on the Saudi neck. The Saudi expectation was that the country would be pacified in no time but the ferment continues and there is no end in sight. 
 
 
The latest development is that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is by far the best organized and the most popular political platform in Egypt, has been declared a «terrorist» organization. "Inclusive" democracy and stability and economic recovery in Egypt seems a chimera for a generation.

Yet, Saudi Arabia is bankrolling that bankrupt and paralyzed state. How long can this continue?
 
 
Bandar with GHW Bush
The UAE has already given notice to Cairo that Arab support for the junta would not last long. Comparison has been drawn that the UAE’s latest tranche of aid to Egypt ($3.9 billion) is like blood transfusion to a patient who is bleeding incessantly and uncontrollably. Meanwhile, the clash over the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has actually impacted regional alignments. 
 
 
 
It has driven Turkey into the arms of Iran. Tehran has begun describing the Iranian-Turkish relations as "deep-rooted and brotherly". Suffice to say, the Egyptian front is going terribly wrong for Bandar. Clearly, a stage has come when the tensions over such adventurist policies are morphing into the power rivalries within the House of Saud. 
 
 
In sum, the strident rhetoric of late over the Saudi foreign policies, which have been traditionally discreet and cautious and conducted unobtrusively, has many faces. It needs to be viewed as the eruption of a variety of overlapping tensions in the complex matrix involving the House of Saud where rival groups are vying for the old king’s attention and the rivalries have spilled over to the direction that the Bandar group is taking Saudi foreign policies. 
 
 
Dwelling on this topic recently, Guardian newspaper’s David Hearst recapitulated, "Intrigues within the royal court may explain why Saudi foreign policy, which has traditionally been discreet and cautious and conducted largely behind bead curtains, is so overt. It could all be a product of an age-old obsession of absolute monarchies – the battle for succession". 
 

However, the big question remains unanswered: How far will Saudi Arabia push the envelope and defy the US strategies in Syria or Iran to the extent of actually undermining them? The Saudi intervention in Bahrain shows that where its core interests are involved, Riyadh is capable of acting forcefully. Clearly, Riyadh is petrified that the Shi’ite uprising in Bahrain would have resonance in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia, which are Shi’ite-dominated, and Shi’ite empowerment as such could have ripple effect on a variety of theatres in regional politics. Unsurprisingly, Saudi Arabia spearheaded the violent repression of the Shi’ites in Bahrain. 
 
 
No amount of western criticism could compel the Saudis to rethink their policy toward Bahrain.

Thus, question marks have been put on the massive order that Saudi Arabia has placed with the US for anti-tank missiles – 15000 pieces of Raytheon anti-tank missiles costing over $1 billion. It is inconceivable that Saudi Arabia faces threats of a tank invasion and in any case it has a stockpile in excess of 4000 anti-tank missiles already. Unsurprisingly, experts are asking, What’s the threat? 
 
 
There is not even a remote chance of Saudi Arabia getting involved in a ground war with Iran. Any conflict between the two adversaries, if at all, would only be in the nature of a naval or air encounter. Such sophisticated anti-tank missiles are not needed for the Saudi operations in Bahrain or Yemen. Saudi Arabia faces no threat from Iraq, either.

 
The only plausible explanation that experts have reached is that the latest Saudi deal could be connected with Bandar’s war in Syria. Conceivably, Saudis could be sending their stockpiles of anti-tank weapons procured from diverse sources (other than the US, which strictly monitors any transfer of weapons by recipients to a third party) and are replacing them with replenishments from the US.
 
 
Bandar with Mandela
As a former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles Freeman noted, "I would speculate that with an order of this size ($1 billion), the Saudis were flushing their current stocks in the direction of the opposition and replacing them with new munitions". 
 
 
 
 
If so, Bandar is indeed pressing ahead with the Saudi war against the Syrian regime, notwithstanding the recent signals from the western powers that the peace talks at Geneva 2 next month may not lead to the removal of President Bashar Al-Assad, and that not only will his Alawite minority remain a key presence in any transitional administration but he also might run again next year in the presidential election.

On the other hand, there is also another way of looking at it. To quote David Kenner, associate editor at the Foreign Policy magazine, "But purchasing the weapons, rather than any intent to use them, may be the point for the Saudis. At a time when they are at odds with Washington over the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran and non-intervention in Syria, the kingdon’s deep pockets can at least make sure their ties to the Pentagon remain as strong as ever". Indeed, there is reason to believe that thick layers of bluff and bluster obfuscate the real intentions behind the Saudi rhetoric. 
 
 
Bandar with Thatcher
Take, for instance, the supposedly clandestine meetings between the Saudis and Israelis. 
 
Of late, the curtain has inexplicably lifted on such meetings, whereas it has been an open secret for years that Saudi-Israeli cogitations, including at intelligence level, have been a strand in the complicated Middle East political tapestry. 
 
 
Clearly, the current leaks are supposedly part of "psywar". Whereas, in actuality, there can be only be limited coincidence of Saudi-Israeli interests.
 
 
The fact of the matter is that Israel and Saudi Arabia operate at vastly different levels in Washington. Israel’s connections in the US are profound and they encompass the political, cultural and religious templates of American society, whereas Saudi Lobby operates on a superficial level. At the core of the difference lies the ground reality that Israel has the capacity to act autonomously to safeguard its security interests and even if it may at times put strains on the atmospherics of the ties with the White House, that would remain a transient feature and the overall relationship recovers without any serious damage. The House of Saud, on the other hand, relies completely on US military protection.

 
In an insightful article recently written jointly by Bernard Haykel, the well-known professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, and Daniel Kurtzer, former US ambassador to Israel and Egypt, they summed up: "Unlike Israel, Saudi Arabia has little influence in the domestic politics of the United States, beyond the support of a few oilmen and arms manufacturers. 
 
 
Dead Syrian children, victims of CIA/FSA gas attacks
The Saudi royals do not even enjoy the warm personal relationship with President Barack Obama that they once did with President H. W. George Bush, President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, who managed bilateral relations directly. Just as neither Saudis nor Israelis are likely to downgrade their relations with the US, they are even less likely to embrace each other». Haykel and Kurtzer estimate that any «joint Israeli-Saudi diplomatic and military coordination makes for good news copy, but it is probably fiction".
 
 
 

So, how does the bubbling Saudi discontent add up to? The point is, Riyadh is increasingly desperate. It considers Syria a proxy war with Iran and wants the US to lend support. But that is not happening. Instead, Washington is engaging Iran and in the process giving Tehran a new legitimacy that is anathema to Riyadh. It is a conundrum that is not going to go away easily and Saudi Arabia will have to learn to live with it – during the Obama presidency, at least… 
 


Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



The Saudi Anger Has Many Faces (II)

Apostate Saudi murderers now wearing the face of desperation as their hand-chopping party nears the inevitable end

STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION
By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR
12/25/2013

For long, there has been speculation that the 28 pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry [JICI] report of 2002 portray that the Saudi government had at the very least an indirect role in supporting the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attack. 
 
 
In fact, former Senator Bob Graham, who chaired the JICI is himself on record that he is convinced that "the Saudi government without question was supporting the hijackers who lived in San Diego". 
 
Now, all this is no longer a matter of intellectual curiosity or the stuff of idle gossip on the part of the US Congressmen and the American public and the media – and, perhaps, even the judiciary…

 
 
By a strange coincidence, last week the US Appeals Court upheld the right of the victims of the 9/11 attacks to pursue their suit filed in 2003 to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on grounds that it provided significant support to the al-Qaeda in advance of the terrorist attack. Essentially, the ruling is to the effect that placing Saudi Arabia as a defendant in the suit is necessary.

Indeed, lawyers in the 9/11 lawsuit have often cited the JICI report to claim Saudi Arabia was the primary source of the al-Qaeda funding, but the counter-argument by the lawyers representing the House of Saud has been that the available JICI report showed no evidence of either the Saudi government or Saudi officials individually having funded al-Qaeda.
 
 
This is exactly where the move in the US Congress to declassify the entire JICI report assumes special significance. Is it a matter of strategic timing on the part of the Congress (and the Administration) or is it a mere case of coincidence that the White House made available the 28 pages of the JICI report for the perusal of two Congressmen on a strictly confidential basis at this point when the Appeals Court was all set to pass judgment on the possible culpability of the Saudi government in the 9/11 attacks?

 
Conversely, what happens indeed if in the light of these developments, the plaintiffs who want to sue the Saudi government insist on invoking the full JICI report as evidence? We are entering a dark labyrinth. 
 
 
In the final analysis, however, the ball, as Americans would say, lies in Obama’s court. 
 
It is entirely up to the Obama administration to respond to the congressional resolution urging the JICI’s declassification if it is passed in the House and the Senate.

 
 
Herein lies the rub. It is a well-known fact that unlike his three immediate predecessors in the Oval Office – George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton and George Walker Bush – Barack Hussein Obama is not a "hands-on" president when it comes to US-Saudi relations. Here is a president, who, as New York Times wrote a couple of months ago in the context of Syria, "rarely voiced strong opinions during senior staff meetings… (whose) body language was telling; he often appeared impatient or disengaged while listening to the debate, sometimes scrolling through messages on his Blackberry or slouching and chewing gum".
 
 
Condoleeza Rice with Saud al-Faisal
Indeed, that may be an uncharitable partisan criticism by the Times’ opinionated columnist, because Obama certainly does comprehend the gravity of the crisis but then, he also factors in the limits to the US’ capacity to influence the emergent Middle Eastern hotspots. Besides, as the former US ambassador to NATO and the Director of Middle East Affairs in the US National Security Council during the Jimmy Carter administration Robert Hunter wrote recently, the US has some specific interests to pursue in the current Middle Eastern situation, and, therefore, "US strategy regarding partners and allies in the Persian Gulf needs to move beyond the fixation with military instruments and focus more on redeveloping US engagement and commitment in non-military terms".


Meanwhile, coming back to the JICI report, public pressure is building from the 9/11 Families United for Justice Against Terrorism, an activist group comprising the attack victims, and neither the White House nor the Congressmen can be impervious to an emotive issue such as this, which has left an indelible mark on the nation’s psyche. The media reports show how ecstatic the families of the victims of the 9/11 attack already feel about the Appeals Court verdict. The father of a 25-year old young man who was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center told the ABC News, "Christmas has come early to the 9/11 families. We’re going to have our day in court". 
 
 
 

To be sure, the lawsuit, if it succeeds, could mean the Saudi government and members of the royal family serving on charities that financed al-Qaeda operations paying compensation to the tune of tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars. Once the legal juggernaut starts moving, which is shortly, it is anybody’s guess where it could end up. 
 
 
Saudi apostate murderer "Chemical" Bandar supplied gas to FSA
What makes the whole matter highly explosive is that the Saudi ambassador to the US at the time of the 9/11 attack was none other than Bandar bin Sultan, presently Riyadh’s spy chief. Furthermore, Bandar is also alleged to have personally prevailed upon Bush Jr. to grant special permission by the White House (at a time when all air traffic was grounded all over the US) to whisk out of the US post-haste in a chartered plane from Kentucky a group of 144 persons, including several members of the bin Laden family, so that they wouldn’t be prescreened, interviewed or in any manner debriefed on the 9/11 attack. After the flight, FBI officials have been cited as ruing that these people who were whisked out of the US by Bandar (thanks to Bush’s personal intervention) were "people of interest". 
 
 
The Wests “Bitch Bandar bin Satan”
Indeed, the curious part is that Bandar today also happens to be the key person charioting the Saudi project to overthrow the legitimate government of President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. 
 
Put differently, Bandar, who may be called to witness in the US trial court in the 9/11 lawsuit, is the very same Bandar who on the operational side threatens to torpedo the best laid plans of the Obama administration to find a political settlement to the Syrian question at the Geneva 2 conference.


Interestingly, to digress for a moment, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings (which Obama handpicked recently as the forum from where to make some major policy remarks on the US’ engagement with Iran) just brought out an exhaustive study authored by a Middle East expert Elizabeth Dickinson titled "PLAYING WITH FIRE: Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risks Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home". The analysis paper focuses on how Kuwait has "emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s myriad rebel groups". It assesses that "Gulf donors have contributed to the ideological and strategic alignment of today’s rebel groups [in Syria], in which extremists have the military upper-hand". 
 
 
What emerges – and, perhaps, what Bandar needs to take note seriously – is that Washington is closely monitoring the support for extremist jihadi groups operating in Syria by the Gulf Arab petrodollar states and their so-called «charities». The paper says, "The US Treasury is aware of this activity and has expressed concern about this flow of private financing".


At this point, into the simmering cauldron, we may add yet another potent ingredient – namely, the internal power struggle within the Saudi regime, with Bandar becoming the target of rare criticism in the Saudi press.

The well-connected Saudi writer and journalist Jamal Kashoggi wrote in the establishment daily Al Hayat recently in a thinly veiled attack on Bandar, "It would be a mistake to defy the power of history with the illusion that the powerful can forge deals and plan the future away from the peoples whose divisions and lack of experience with democracy enabled local, regional and international forces to abuse them. Yet, these peoples continue to be in a state of liquidity and rage. They know what they want but they are confused about how to achieve it. What is certain is that they will not wait for a knight mounted on a white horse to lead them toward a new shining dawn. The one-man era is over".

Kashoggi couldn’t have written like this except with the reasonable certainty that what he wrote needed to be written.
 


Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

The Saudi Anger Has Many Faces (I)

The face of desperation

STRATEGIC CULTURE FOUNDATION
By  Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR
12/24/2013

During the past fortnight, Saudi Arabia raised the bar by several notches in its rhetoric to express fury over the US’ regional policies in the Middle East, especially over Syria and Iran. The rhetoric reached a high pitch last week with two key figures in the Saudi regime alternatively lampooning and threatening the Obama administration.


The "Good Old Days" are over for Saudi apostates
Is this strategic defiance of the US by the Saudi regime sustainable or will turn out to be mere bravado or even a defensive strategy to cover up dark fears? There is every reason to anticipate that it is the expression of an anger with many faces. There is a hint of an American warning appearing on the horizon to the House of Saud that discretion is the better part of valor and the latter is in no position to threaten the White House. The Saudi regime couldn’t have missed this subtle message but how it assimilates it will bear watch.


The Saudi rhetoric against the Obama administration during the past fortnight was indeed startling for its unprecedented tone of defiance and sabre rattling.

Not only was such a thing impossible during the George W. Bush presidency (because the president’s family for three generations had kept close ties with the House of Saud), but such rhetoric has never been the Saudi style. Riyadh always preferred to operate in the subsoil away from prying eyes when it came to the all-important relations with Washington.


On the face of it, the two things that have infuriated the Saudi regime have been President Obama’s apparent resolve to push forward the US’ engagement with Iran, and, secondly, Washington’s unmistakable disengagement from the ‘regime change’ project in Syria. Obama is now openly speaking about the prospect of a final US-Iranian deal over the nuclear issue and authoritative American opinion-makers and officials are increasingly voicing the opinion, including at the recent meeting of the ‘Friends of Syria’ at London, that it could be in the interests of Syria’s stability and the struggle against al-Qaeda – as well as of regional security on the whole – that President Bashar Al-Assad continues to play a leadership role and be a participant in the presidential election that is scheduled to be held next year.


Most certainly, gone are the days when Washington spoke of "all options" being on the table on Iran or of the bottom line in Syria being Bashar’s exit from power. This has sunk in well in Riyadh as well as the realization that the Saudi lobby’s robust campaigning in Washington and even the implicit threat that Saudi Arabia would cozy up to other big powers as counterweight to the US have failed to impress the Obama administration.




Put differently, Saudis are coming up against an altogether new experience, namely, that they no longer wield a veto power over the conduct of the US’ Middle Eastern policies that are henceforth to be riveted on the pursuit of American geostrategic interests as part of Washington’s global strategies. For a regime that placed full faith on the power of money to command and dictate and to navigate the way through the corridors of power in Washington, this is a paradigm shift. And it is not going down well in Riyadh.


This was evident from the highly vitriolic attack on the Obama administration by a leading Saudi prince, Turki-al-Faisal (who is the brother of the incumbent foreign minister Saud al-Faisal and himself a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington) at a recent security conference in Monaco, which was attended by senior European and Arab politicians and business leaders, as well as in his interview with the Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the conference.


Turki-al-Faisal with "friend" Obama
Turki virtually accused the Obama administration of perfidy by working behind Riyadh’s back aimed at bringing about the rapprochement with Tehran and alleging that Washington is responsible for "criminal negligence" of the violence in Syria which has claimed 130000 lives. Turki said, "What was surprising was that the talks that were going forward [between Washington and Tehran] were kept from us [Riyadh]. How can you build trust when you keep secrets from what are supposed to be your closest allies?"


Obviously, the Saudis are livid that the Obama administration not only did not notify Riyadh about the secret talks with Iran until this fall ("when things became substantive"), but it also rubbed salt into the wounded Saudi vanity by initiating these contacts last March in Oman right under the Saudi nose. To be sure, the interim accord with Iran on the nuclear issue that was worked out in Geneva last month has rattled the Saudis and Turki voiced concern that it did not go far enough to ensure Tehran won’t develop nuclear bombs. At the back of it all, of course, is the existential angst that the US-Iranian d├ętente would incrementally erode the status of Saudi Arabia as the preeminent ally of Washington in the Middle East.


Saudi Arabia's "Chemical" Bandar:  FSA chemical supplier
Equally, the stark differences over Syria have isolated Saudi Arabia internationally and in the region. Two days after Turki spoke, the assault against the Obama administration was carried forward by the Saudi ambassador to the UK and a member of the House of Saud, Mohammed bin Nawaf Abdulaziz al Saud, who in an article in the New York Times last Tuesday virtually threatened that the US policies in both Iran and Syria are a "dangerous gamble» and Saudi Arabia «cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by". He alleged that the US policies risk the stability of the Middle East and the security of the Arab world. "This means the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has no choice but to become more assertive in international affairs… Saudi Arabia has enormous responsibilities within the region… We will act to fulfill these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners. Nothing is ruled out in our pursuit of sustainable peace and stability in the Arab world".

Most important, the article was fairly explicit that the Saudi support for the extremist Islamist Front in Syria will not only continue but will also be strengthened. "Saudi Arabia will continue on this track for as long as proves necessary," Mohammed bin Nawaf wrote.

However, the big question is how far will the Saudi regime be willing take the hazardous journey on «this track» of strategic defiance of the US?


 
For an answer to such a question, we may have to go well beyond Syria and Iran questions and travel in a time machine all the way back to September 2001. Inexplicably, the Obama administration has permitted for the first time two Congressmen – Walter B. Jones (Republican) and Stephen Lynch (Democrat) – to access the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry [JICI] report on the 9/11 attack, which were long believed by the victims’ loved one, injured survivors and the public at large to hold some answers about the Saudi connection to the attack. After all, fifteen out of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attack were Saudi nationals and there have been sporadic reports that some of them were linked to the Saudi royals and might even have received financial support from the Saudi government as well as from several mysterious moneyed men from Saudi Arabia living in San Diego at that time.


This was how Congressman Jones reacted after reading the highly classified 28 pages of the JICI report: "I was absolutely shocked by what I read. What was so surprising was that those men whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly".


To cut a long story short, in early December Jones and Lynch introduced a resolution that urges President Barack Obama to declassify the 28 pages (which his predecessor had ordered to be classified on the grounds that releasing the pages would «violate national security».

A cat-and-mouse game seems to have begun involving the White House, Capitol Hill and the domestic public opinion – and the US judiciary – and the House of Saud. 





Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

America's New Crusade In Yemen

Anything to distract from the ongoing Snowden revelations

PRESS TV
12/26/2013

What a difference a year makes … Hailed the brain-child of the Islamic Awakening only a year ago, the Muslim Brotherhood is biting the dust across the Middle East, having but enjoyed a fleeting twilight of glory in 2012 with the rise to power of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi

Almost as quickly as political Islam was hailed the new institutional Arabic model, its detractors, mainly Saudi Arabia - the epicentre of all things radical and perverse – worked to discredit its message and political stance as to rebrand it a pernicious force of evil.
 
 
Saudi despots panic as Obama throws them under the bus
Labelled a terrorist organization in Egypt earlier this week, the Muslim Brotherhood went in the span of a year from being a regional political powerhouse to nothing more than a disbanded group of wanted criminals. The mighty Brotherhood has now been forced back to the shadows it once emerged from, nothing more than a memory of what might have been, if only its leaders had not dare defy the House of Saud and its hegemonic plans for the region.

 
With Egypt out of the way and Qatar dutifully warned against any further political interference in the region, Washington and its allies, have turned their attention toward impoverished Yemen.
 
 
Following decades of unprecedented financial, political and military support, Yemen’ Sunni radicals, which acted a buffer to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s power and thus allowed the (P)GCC countries to remain in control of Yemen’s fate, face political extinction now.  
 
 
Keen to remind its vassals of its power and more importantly to assert that only its agenda is actually worth pursuing, Washington sent the mightiest of warnings to Yemen’s powerful Sunni clans by branding Yemeni cleric and high ranking politician, Abdul Wahab Mohammed al-Humaiqani, a terrorist affiliated to al-Qaeda.

In an official press release published December 18th, the US Department issued the following statement, “The US Department of Treasury today imposed sanctions on two al-Qaeda supporters based in Qatar and Yemen. Abdul-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi and Abdul Wahab Mohammed al-Humaiqani were named as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 … Humayqani was designated for providing financial support to and acting on behalf of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).”
 
 
 While the idea that one of Yemen’s notables could be linked to a group such as al-Qaeda, which professes a twisted and abject interpretation of Islam, based on fear and fanaticism, both traits it is important to note the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) has warned against at length, will unlikely shock Yemenis; such a public profession of guilt carries in itself severe repercussions, both legally and politically.

 
Just as knowing a truth is different from revealing, or even telling a truth, the idea that Washington could so publicly and so bluntly express a reality which many have known to be true for many long years, is bound to reverberate far and wide across Yemen’s political network, putting allegiances and power plays under a new light. If 2011 marked the end of President Saleh’s rule, 2013 could herald the disbandment of Yemen’s Sunni radicals.
 
 
Interestingly, former President Saleh’s warnings that among Yemen’s most mighty and powerful hid terror sympathizers, happens to carry a truth Washington wants now to capitalize on, as to secure that its grip on the Peninsula remains ever steady.

Too many times now have al-Islah, the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood been juxtaposed next to al-Qaeda and terror activities not to believe that a shift in policy and narrative has occurred at the White House towards Yemen’s Sunni radicals. Having served their purpose and outgrown their station, the men Washington helped bring to power some decades ago are being discarded to make way for the next generation of politicians.

 
True to its public-image-demonization modus operandi Washington alleges it has proof al-Humaiqani used his position and status in favour of al-Qaeda, by acting as its financial arm and recruiting agent. A well-known international partner, al-Humaiqani happens to be one of the founding members of Alkarama - Swiss-based independent human rights organization which has denounced Washington’s drone campaign in Yemen - and a former adviser to Qatar on charitable giving. An established politician, al-Humaiqani is also a high ranking member of the Rashad party -Yemen’s newly founded Salafi faction – a group which has often been described as the political extension of al-Islah - as well as an NDC representative.
 
 
Saudi Arabia's "Chemical" Bandar
Washington is unequivocal in its attack. Its statement read, “In his capacity as the head of a Yemen-based charity, Humayqani has used his status in the charitable community to fundraise and has provided some of that funding to AQAP and has facilitated financial transfers from AQAP supporters in Saudi Arabia to Yemen in support of AQAP operations. As of 2012, Humaiqani was an important figure within AQAP and reportedly had a relationship with important AQAP leaders. Humaiqani and others in March 2012 reportedly orchestrated an AQAP attack on a Yemeni Republican Guard base in al-Bayda Governorate, Yemen. The attack employed multiple vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and killed seven. He is suspected to have recruited individuals to AQAP who were involved in a plot to assassinate Yemeni officials.
 
 
Humaiqani has provided financial support and other services to AQAP and acted for or on behalf of the group. He has represented AQAP in meetings with Yemeni officials to negotiate the release of Yemeni soldiers held by AQAP and worked with AQAP operatives to coordinate the movement of AQAP fighters within Yemen. Humaiqani has directed a group of armed AQAP associates that intended to carry out attacks on Yemeni government facilities and institutions, including a Yemeni government building in al-Bayda Governorate. He has also recruited individuals in Sana, Yemen on behalf of AQAP in support of AQAP efforts in southern Yemen.

Along with the US and UN designated cleric Sheikh Abdel Mageed al-Zindani [member of al-Islah], he has issued religious guidance in support of AQAP operations. Humaiqani and AQAP leadership have planned to establish a new political party in Yemen, which AQAP planned to use as a cover for the recruitment and training of fighters and a means to attract broader support. AQAP leadership decided that Humaiqani would play a public role as a leader and spokesman for the new political party.”

Branded a terrorist before the whole world, al-Humaiqani will unlikely recover from such a blow, let alone his faction. Adamant that he is the victim of a sombre plot, the cleric has already told the press all charges brought against him are not only “false and unjust”, but a clear attempt to curb his charitable activities and silence his calls for an end to America’s drone campaign in Yemen. “These accusations come in the context of political conspiracies in Yemen. Some people fed the Americans with false information about me to curb my activities,” he told the press on Tuesday.

With Damocles’ sword dangling over his head, one can only wonder who next within al-Islah’s ranks will suffer Washington’s ire.

HMV/HMV
 

 
Catherine Shakdam is a commentator and political risk consultant. Her writings have appeared in Foreign Policy Association, the Guardian and Majalla among many others. Based in the UK, she worked in collaboration with Yemen Human Rights Minister on shaping new policies to protect women rights. More articles by Catherine Shakdam 
 


Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.
  
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