Saudi King Forbids Dialogue Between March 14 Coalition (Future Movement) and March 8 (Pro-Resistance)

[SEE:  Ground being laid for talks between Future, Hezbollah ; Saudi Arabia asks UN to blacklist Hezbollah]

Riyadh nips Hezbollah-Future Movement dialogue in the bud

alakhbar

Riyadh has ‘red-lighted’ the planned dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement before it even began. The Saudi call for Hezbollah to be put on the list of terrorist organizations made at the United Nations threatens to renew tension between the two sides, following an undeclared truce in the media that did not last for more than a few days.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri visit the tomb of his father, the late Rafik Hariri. Al-Akhbar/Archive

 

Is there a fixed Saudi, and consequently Gulf policy, vis-à-vis Lebanon? Are these countries really keen on the stability of this country, as they claim, when they hardly spare any occasion to exacerbate its divisions? These questions and others are being asked after the new Saudi escalation against Hezbollah, which is likely to aggravate the already complex situation in Lebanon and the region.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdallah al-Mouallimi called on the UN Security Council on Wednesday to place the Resistance Party on the list of terrorist organizations. In a special session on terrorism, Mouallimi called for punishing Hezbollah and other groups including the Abu al Fadl al Abbas Brigade, the League of the Righteous, and other “terrorist organizations fighting in Syria.”

Al-Akhbar learned that as a result of the new Saudi position, contacts will be made with Riyadh over the next few days to contain possible reactions. Well-placed sources warned against negative repercussions from the Saudi move over the ‘preliminary dialogue’ between Hezbollah and the Future Movement.

The sources expressed concern that this could put an end to the de-escalation that begun when Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, speaking during the Shia Muslim commemorations of Ashura, welcomed dialogue with the Future Movement. The sources told Al-Akhbar that the Saudi move, in addition to the sudden re-activation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) after a long period of inactivity, by summoning political witnesses, will create tensions in the country, and are indicative of a Saudi veto on dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah.

The sources asked, “How do the Saudis explain their position when barely two months have passed since their ambassador in Beirut Ali Awad Asiri celebrated his country’s National Day surrounded by deputies from Hezbollah? Why has Saudi Arabia made this call two days after the GCC summit, and as the UAE – which is influenced to a large extent by Riyadh’s position – placed a number of organizations on its terror list not including Hezbollah?”

The sources deduced that the Saudi policy is not yet ready to restore its balance in Lebanon and the region. The sources also had questions about Saudi-Israeli ‘intersection’ over trying to smear Hezbollah’s image as a resistance movement and link it to terrorism, something that Tel Aviv has sought for very long.

The sourced described Mouallimi’s speech at the UN as a ‘sound bubble’ that will have no results, recalling Nasrallah’s declaration that Hezbollah will be where it has to be in Syria. They said the Saudi UN envoy’s move “demonstrates real disappointment in the ranks of the Saudi leadership over the failure of its project in Syria, with [Saudi]… making random accusations right and left.”

The sources pointed out that the Saudi envoy, in the course of justifying his call, cited the emergence of terror groups like ISIS and others, which he linked to the “practices of the Syrian regime” and the “sectarian policies of some countries,” rather than Saudi and Gulf support for these groups. The sources added, “Saudi Arabia is among the top supporters of terrorist Takfiri groups in Syria, which makes its talk about fighting terrorism lacking in any seriousness.”

The sources then linked the Saudi position to “growing concerns in the ranks of the Saudi leadership over the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and real fear from the possibility of the parties reaching an agreement that would undermine the Saudi leadership’s hopes to step up the siege on Iran.”

The sources ruled out any practical effect of the Saudi position in light of the current balance of power in the international organization, and in light of the responses the Saudi envoy heard regarding his proposal.

Iran’s envoy at the United Nations Gholam Hossein Dehghani had responded to Mouallimi’s call by emphasizing the need to make a distinction between legitimate resistance and terrorism, and the need to support the resistance. He also criticized regional countries for failing to match their words with deeds, and said that few governments in the region have taken the threat seriously, while the rest did not control their borders, did not trop ISIS from recruiting, and did not stop the flow of financial support to these “criminal organizations.”

For his part, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari accused Saudi Arabia of backing terrorism in the region, denouncing the inconsistencies in its diagnosis of the roots of terrorism. He said that al-Qaeda and its ilk had all grown thanks to Saudi patronage in Afghanistan. Jaafari also said that the carnage in Syria is supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, citing the call by 72 Saudi clerics for people to go for “jihad” in Syria, and wondered whether the Saudi government was serious about fighting terrorism.

(Al-Akhbar)

 

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Obama Stops Lying About Afghanistan–We are there Forever, To Do Anything or Kill Anyone We Want

[Many observers have been stating the obvious for years, that America would NEVER LEAVE AFGHANISTAN(SEE: Manufacturing Justification for the NATO Takeover of Central Asia–Smashing Greater Central Asia – (Part One); (Part  Two) Risking the World; (Part III) Smashing Greater Central Asia; (Part IV) Smashing Greater Central Asia).]

Obama secretly extends US combat operation in Afghanistan

Russia-Today
U.S. President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Ethan Miller)

U.S. President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Ethan Miller)

President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order that expands the United States’ direct combat role in Afghanistan throughout 2015, the New York Times reported.

Signed over the last few weeks, the secret order permits American forces to continue to battle the Taliban and other militants that pose a threat to either the Afghan government or US personnel. According to the Times, US jets, bombers, and drones will be able to aid ground troops – be they Afghan or US forces – in whatever mission they undertake.

Under the order, ground troops could join Afghan troops on missions, and airstrikes could be carried out in their support.

If true, this marks a significant expansion of America’s role in Afghanistan in 2015. Previously, President Obama said US forces would not be involved in combat operations once the new year begins. He did say troops would continue training Afghan forces and track down remaining Al-Qaeda members.

Obama signed the secret order after tense debates within the administration. The military reportedly argued that it would allow the US to keep the pressure on the Taliban and other groups should details emerge that they are planning to attack American troops. Civilian aides, meanwhile, said the role of combat troops should be limited to counter-terror missions against Al-Qaeda.

The Times said an administration official painted the secret order’s authorization as a win for the military, but another said the US would not carry out “offensive missions” against the Taliban in 2015.

“We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe.”

The change in direction came as the administration faces pointed criticism from those who say the US withdrew from Iraq too quickly, allowing the so-called Islamic State to make rapid gains in a country whose military proved to be easily intimidated and defeated.

Meanwhile, new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has a much softer position on the US presence in his country compared to his predecessor Hamid Karzai. Ghani reportedly asked the US to keep battling the Taliban into 2015. He also removed restrictions against US airstrikes and joint raids that were implemented by Karzai.

It appears that the number of troops that will be operating in Afghanistan next year will remain unchanged from previous plans. There will be 9,800 soldiers left throughout next year, and that number will be cut in half by the end of the year.

By the end of 2016, the remaining troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan, ending the US military presence in the country.

House GOP File Lawsuit Against Obama

House Republicans on Friday filed a long-awaited lawsuit accusing President Barack Obama of overstepping his executive authority when implementing his signature health care law.

And though the suit is centered on the Affordable Care Act, the GOP moved on the legal action the morning after the president announced he will unilaterally grant temporary relief to millions of undocumented immigrants.

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress. That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well. The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”

The suit, filed against the heads of Health and Human Services and Treasury Department, is centered on the White House decision to delay the employer mandate of the health care law and accuses the administration of unlawfully giving $175 billion to insurance companies.

House Republicans approved a bill authorizing the legal action in a 225-201 vote in July. No Democrats supported the measure.

The suit has been dismissed by Democrats as a politically motivated waste of taxpayer money. The president has said his actions have only been necessary because Republicans in Congress have refused to work with him.