Royal Saudi Press Calls For Yemen Coalition To “Liberate” Khuzestan, Iran

[The fact that this editorial appears at all in the Royal Saudi Al-Arabiya, is an indicator that Saudi adverturism under the new king Salmon is set to go far beyond the Yemen battlefield. 

king salmonThe royal coalition will never hold together for an attack upon Iran, when it cannot even agree upon doing the same thing for Libya that the Arabs are now trying to do in Yemen (SEE: Arab Coalition Divides On Syria and Libya).]

Arab Ahwaz must be liberated from Iran

al arabiya

Whenever the Arab world is discussed, forgotten are the five million Arabs struggling to survive under the Persian yoke in an Arab region bordering Iraq and the Arabian Gulf, rich with oil and gas. Once an autonomous area, separated from Persia by the Zagros mountain range, under the governance of Sheikh Khazaal bin Jabber – whose family had ruled for over a century – it was grabbed by Shah Reza Pahlavi in 1925 with a nod and a wink from Britain eager to preserve its relationship with Iran due to its oil interests.

Formerly known as Arabistan, the Iranian occupiers wasted no time in changing the name of this new Iranian province to Khuzestan, rejected by its Arab residents even today. Arabs and Persians have little in common and as Sir Arnold Wilson, a British colonial administrator, once said: Arabistan is “a country as different from Persia as is Spain from Germany.”

Although Arabistan provides Iran with 80 percent of its oil requirements as well as half of its gas, its sons are exploited and oppressed; their human rights tramped upon, their very identity in danger of being obliterated. Iran’s policy of ethnic discrimination combined with its Persian resettlement endeavors has resulted in turning the Ahwazi Arabs into an economic and social underclass.

Numerous Arab villages are without schools and those ‘lucky’ enough to attend school are educated in Farsi. Some 80 percent of Ahwazi Arab women are illiterate as opposed to 50 percent of Ahwazi men. Over thirty percent of the under-30s are unemployed in this heavily industrialized region, primarily because Persians receive priority and jobs often advertised outside the governorate.

Thousands are without access to drinking water, because rivers have been diverted to arid Persian provinces. Their streets open sewers; many are deprived of electricity and gas. In 2013, Arabistan’s capital, Ahwaz, was classed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the most polluted city on earth partly due to desertification and industrial smog. Arab farmers are regularly stripped of agricultural land and although there has been loud international condemnation of Israel’s separation walls, there have been no media headlines about the segregation walls hiding squalid Arab ghettos from wealthier Persian settlements and glossy new towns.

Driven to protest

It’s no wonder that Ahwazi Arabs are now driven to protest against such blatant discrimination. According to the Ahwaz Studies Center, “increasing joblessness and rising poverty is creating a humanitarian crisis among Ahwazi Arabs that threatens to lead to widespread unrest…” The authorities use a heavy hand against demonstrators and rights activists.

Although Arabistan provides Iran with 80 percent of its oil requirements as well as half of its gas, its sons are exploited and oppressed; their human rights tramped upon, their very identity in danger of being obliterated

Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor

However, one of the central reasons behind the Ahwazis’ discontent is their evaporating sense of who they are; the erosion of their roots, their language, their Arab identity. That was brought home to me a few days ago as I watched a video of Iranian security forces attacking Ahwazi football fans for wearing traditional Arab dress while celebrating the triumph of the visiting Saudi al-Hilal team against the local Foolad Khuzestan side. In truth, the video touched an emotional chord in me.

The authorities were alerted when Ahwazis referred to the Saudi players as “their Arab Brothers” and welcomed them to “Arab lands.” The forces attempted to move the Arabs away from the cameras, provoking resistance. The crowd responded by destroying posters of Iran’s Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei, in the face of Iranian Revolutionary Guards and threw stones at police. This resulted in arbitrary arrests when peaceful protestors were also swept-up. “Iran will never be able to smother our voice and our Arab identity,” say the demonstrators.

For me, this was emotional because despite all Iran’s measures to choke the Ahwazi’s inner being and stifle all dissent over the past 90 years – even to the extent of forcing them to give their babies Persian names – they remain proud to be Arab.

It also saddens me when I remember that those Arabs, our own people, have been abandoned to fend for themselves. Why isn’t the United Nations taking up their cause? Why are those western countries, endlessly trumpeting human rights to the Middle East, not only turning a blind eye but actively wooing Iran’s ayatollahs? Most importantly, we can no longer stay silent when five million Ahwazi Arabs equates to a population three times bigger than that of Gaza?

Standing tall

Here I would call on Arab countries – especially GCC states and their allies – to stand tall with our Ahwazi brothers so as to empower them on their journey to freedom. Apart from the fact that this is our moral duty, it could also off strategic benefits at a time when Iranian officials boast of a new Persian empire that includes four Arab capitals.

Help Arabistan gain its independence and Tehran can kiss goodbye to its oil exports and the revenue it uses to fund its terror proxies.

Iran’s meddling in Arab countries is rife and unrestrained. Yemen is just one example and I’m gratified that Saudi partnered with GCC states, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Pakistan, has launched a military intervention to free this historic Arab heartland from Iranian-backed Shiite militias; this action is one that I’ve long called-for. Iran deserves to be treated in kind.

The first step towards freeing the people of Ahwaz is a vigorous and determined campaign by GCC leaderships to undermine the Iranian fist on this dear Arab land involving billions of dollars in direct financial aid to support the development of al-Ahwaz.

Secondly, the Arab League and/or the GCC should bring the forgotten truth that al-Ahwaz is, indeed, Arab territory to the international spotlight so as to raise awareness.

Thirdly, the file should be lodged with the United Nations Security Council for investigation with the aim of procuring a resolution to the effect that Ahwaz has been and is under illegal occupation and, thus, has a right to self-determination. Such applications have been lodged by Ahwazis previously but haven’t been taken with the seriousness they deserve. The GCC should use its power to ensure the Ahwazi cause can no longer be swept under the carpet.

Just a year ago, I would have had little hope that this appeal would be heard. But, thankfully, GCC states and its Arab friends have at last resolved to be proactive in defending Arab peoples and lands. Operation “Decisive Storm” in Yemen is just the beginning, signaling Iran’s hitherto clear path towards regional domination is now strewn with roadblocks.

I still bristle when I recall a conversation I had, many years ago, with former U.S. Ambassador Richard W. Murphy, who informed me that America was now responsible for Gulf security. When I asked him on what authority, he answered without flinching, saying, that the Brits handed the region to us. In response, I remember thinking: What are we, sheep? Today, we are emerging as lions. We are standing with our Yemeni brothers in distress and proving to the Islamic Republic of Iran, its militias and proxies that we will never be parceled-off to any country’s hegemonic ambitions ever again.

Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group – one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf.

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Arab Coalition Divides On Syria and Libya

Saudi Arabia, Egypt show discord over Syria

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(AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell). Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chairs an Arab foreign ministers meeting during an Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt, Sunday, March 29, 2015. Arab League member states have agreed in principle to for...
(AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell). Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chairs an Arab foreign ministers meeting during an Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt, Sunday, March 29, 2015. Arab League member states have agreed in principle to for… (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell).
(AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell). Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reviews a document during an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt, Sunday, March 29, 2015. Arab League member states at a summit i...
(AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell). Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud reviews a document during an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt, Sunday, March 29, 2015. Arab League member states at a summit i… (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell).

 

By SARAH EL DEEB
Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) – Egypt and Saudi Arabia are cooperating militarily to thwart a power grab in Yemen by Shiite rebels, but the agreement on how to deal with the region’s complex and intertwined conflicts may stop there. The two countries’ diverging interests were evident at the Arab summit over the weekend, particularly over the crises in Syria and Libya.

In Syria’s civil war, Saudi Arabia has staunchly stuck by its demands for President Bashar Assad’s removal. In a speech to the summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Saudi King Salman railed against “those with blood on their hands” and said he cannot be any part of a resolution to the war, now in its fifth year.

In contrast, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in his speech urged a political solution, pointing to the need to “confront terrorist organizations” and prevent the collapse of Syrian state institutions. He said Egypt would host a conference of Syria’s opposition aimed at unifying its position for political talks.

The speech reflected what el-Sissi has made his top priority since rising to office last year – fighting Islamic militants. Egypt’s rhetoric has emphasized the need to preserve Syria as a bulwark against terrorists over the need to remove Assad, though the government has avoided saying that outright. On Friday, a government official told The Associated Press that the Egyptian stance is that Assad’s regime “must be part of the negotiations and the transitional period.”

“It is not about personalities,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the diplomatic efforts.

The differences led to an embarrassing moment after el-Sissi proudly had a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin read out loud at the summit’s closing session Sunday. Russia is a key supporter of Assad and has strong ties to el-Sissi, who gave Putin a lavish welcome in Egypt last month.

In his letter, Putin urged a political solution to the Syria war. After it was read, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal took the microphone and lashed out at Russia in a speech aired live on TV.

“They (Russians) speak about the misery the situation in Syria while they are a main part of the miseries that affects the Syrian people,” al-Faisal said, pointing to Moscow’s arms sales to Damascus.

El-Sissi thanked al-Faisal for his remarks and, in an apparent attempt to put the best spin on the awkward situation, commented that all Arab leaders emphasize that they seek solutions to regional crises in their contacts with international players. El-Sissi then gave a closing speech praising the new hopes for future joint action sparked by the summit, where the leaders agreed to create a new joint Arab military force. Egypt has been the strongest advocate for the force.

In Libya, el-Sissi wants regional action against the growing power of Islamic militants, whom Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have already hit with airstrikes several times the past year. In his opening speech to the summit, el-Sissi repeatedly spoke of the need for action in Libya. In contrast, the Saudi king hardly mentioned it – a sign of their differing priorities.

Egyptian columnist Abdullah el-Sinnawi, who is close to the military and el-Sissi, said the lack of agreement is likely to paralyze any future communal action, including through the joint military force.

The two sides don’t agree on who the “enemy is, how to hit and what is the priority,” el-Sinnawi told AP.

Notably, Assad – who did not attend the summit – told Russian reporters ahead of the gathering that Egypt understands the crisis in Syria and that there is limited security cooperation between the two countries. “We hope to see closer Syrian-Egyptian relations,” he said.

After al-Faisal’s speech, a prominent Egyptian TV political show host lay into Saudi Arabia, saying it was equally to blame for Syria’s bloodshed with its support of anti-Assad rebels.

“Will you keep lying to us and yourself and the world?” Eissa barked. “Yes, the repressive dictator is killing his people. And this Gulf Arab oil money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar is also killing the Syrian people.”

That prompted an angry response from prominent Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who said in a tweet that Eissa’s “excesses” required action.

“If the media there (in Egypt) was free, I wouldn’t have said that. But it is the regime’s media,” Khashoggi wrote.

__________

Associated Press Zeina Karam contributed to this report from Beirut.

Houthi Militants Reject Yemen Talks In Doha–Qataris and Saudis The Same

Militants to boycott Yemen Doha talks

yemen-post

The Houthi militant group announced on Tuesday it will not participate talks between Yemeni factions which are expected to take place in Doha later this month.
Spokesperson for the group Mohammed Abdulsalam said they don’t accept to go to Doha because there is no difference between its position and Saudi position toward their status or rather revolution.
GCC states described the Houthi takeover as a coup and reiterated their full support to the legitimate president and government.
He accused Qatar and Saudi Arabia of backing Al-Qaeda financially and logistically along with their support to the legitimacy of president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The remarks came a few days after the UN special envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar said all factions had agreed to change the venue of the talks into Doha.
Hadi suggested to change the talks venue from the capital Sanaa into Riyadh after he escaped house arrest by Houthi militants.
The Houthi group and the General People’s Congress, which is led by ex-president Saleh, rejected that talks be held in Riyadh.
Meanwhile, Hadi is appealing for military support as Houthi militants and dissident forces loyal to Saleh are fighting the army in a bid to invade the south.
The president fled to Aden last month and he declared Aden as a temporary capital and Sanaa as an occupied capital.
After Houthis and Saleh tightened grip on power and placed Hadi and government under house arrest, Benomar announced all transition accomplishments had vanished.
The UN continued to affirm only political solutions can resolve the crisis.


YEMEN POST STAFF