The Battle for the Middle East’s Future Begins in Yemen

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.

The “story” of Yemen appears simple. Houthi rebels, who are Shia Muslims, have captured the capital of Sanaa with the help – so say the Saudis – of the Iranians. The legitimate President – Abed Rabou Mansour Hadi – has fled to the Saudi capital of Riyadh from his bolthole in the old southern Yemeni capital of Aden. The Saudis will not permit an Iranian proxy state to be set up on their border – always forgetting that they already have an Iranian-proxy state called Iraq on their northern border, courtesy of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. The real “story” is more important. Perhaps half of the Saudi army is of Yemeni tribal origin. Saudi soldiers are intimately – through their own families – involved in Yemen, and the Yemen revolution is a stab in the guts of the Saudi royal family. No wonder King Salman of Saudi Arabia – if he indeed rules his nation – wishes to bring this crisis to an end. But are his bombing raids on Sanaa going to crush a Shia Muslim rebellion?

Unprecedented in modern Arab history, a Sunni Muslim coalition of 10 nations – including non-Arab Pakistan – has attacked another Arab nation. The Sunnis and the Shia of the Middle East are now at war with each other in Iraq, in Syria and Yemen. Pakistan is a nuclear power. The armies of Bahrain and the Gulf states include Pakistani soldiers. Pakistanis were among the dead in the first great battle against Iraqi troops in the 1991 Gulf War.

But already, the battle for Yemen is dividing other Arab countries.

 The Americans do not know what to do.

via The battle for the Middle East’s future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss – Middle East – World – The Independent.

Middle Eastern Alliance

Arab leaders meeting this weekend in this Egyptian Red Sea resort are moving closer than ever to creating a joint Arab military force, a sign of a new determination among Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their allies to intervene aggressively in regional hotspots, whether against Islamic militants or spreading Iranian power.

Creation of such a force has been a longtime goal that has eluded Arab nations in the 65 years since they signed a rarely used joint defense pact. And there remains reluctance among some countries, particularly allies of Iran like Syria and Iraq — a reflection of the divisions in the region.

via Arabs inch closer to old dream of joint Arab force.

Egypt Poised to Join Saudi Assault on Yemen Rebels

Saudi jets pounded neighboring Yemen on Thursday and Egyptian warships steamed toward its coast in the start of an Arab-led offensive against Shiite rebels that has become a showdown between the major powers in the Middle East.

…Houthis, pushed from their power base… The move inflamed the already tense relationship between Shiite power Iran, which has increased its support for the Houthis….

Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs, Sameh Shoukri, said in a speech to Arab foreign ministers that his country was willing “to send ground forces if necessary” to back the anti-Houthi fight.

via Egypt poised to join Saudi assault on Yemen rebels – The Washington Post.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Accord

The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan all gathered in Khartoum on Monday to sign the agreement of principles on Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam project.

“I confirm the construction of the Renaissance Dam will not cause any damage to our three states and especially to the Egyptian people,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said at the signing ceremony.

We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir hailed the deal as “historic”.

via Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan sign accord on Nile dam – Al Jazeera English.

Khamenei Calls ‘Death to America’ as Kerry Hails Progress on Nuke Deal

Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord.

Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.

via Khamenei calls ‘Death to America’ as Kerry hails progress on nuke deal | The Times of Israel.

Draghi Calls for Quantum Leap in European Integration

Describing the euro zone economy as “steadily recovering”, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called on Monday for a “quantum leap” in European integration so countries share more sovereignty.

A week after the ECB began printing money to buy sovereign bonds, Draghi said the bank’s stimulus, lower oil prices and structural reforms in euro zone economies were helping support growth in the 19-country bloc.

Euro zone countries had not yet converged sufficiently to dispel doubts about the bloc’s cohesion, said Draghi, stressing: “We have now integrated too much to even entertain reversing the process – our economies are far too intertwined.”

Draghi has been pushing deeper integration since early 2012, when the euro zone debt crisis led him and other top crisis-fighting figures to work on a roadmap towards a banking union, fiscal union, economic union and political union.

In response, he proposed deeper institutional integration, with more shared sovereignty and strengthened accountability of the European Union towards its citizens.

via ECB’s Draghi calls for quantum leap in European integration | Reuters.

Russia Warns Denmark Its Warships Could Become Nuclear Targets

Russia has gone on the offensive in the Baltic, warning Denmark that if it joins Nato’s missile defence shield, its navy will be a legitimate target for a Russian nuclear attack.

“I don’t think that Danes fully understand the consequence if Denmark joins the American-led missile defence shield. If they do, then Danish warships will be targets for Russian nuclear missiles,” said Mikhail Vanin, the Russian ambassador to Denmark, to the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

via Russia warns Denmark its warships could become nuclear targets – Telegraph.

Russia’s Military Rhetoric is Alarming

Russian military aircraft have the habit of switching off their transponders as they approach the western Baltic in a maneuver that is seen as dangerous to civilian air traffic, but prevents them being identified other than by sight.

In follow up statements that will worry the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in particular, Mr Vanin went on to say that from being one of the most peaceful parts of the world a year ago, the Baltic is now “one of the most unpredictable in the world”.

The three formerly Soviet Baltic states, now all members of Nato and the European Union, have repeatedly expressed their concern at their own situation, not least because as with Ukraine, both Estonia and Latvia in particular have large Russian populations and fear Russian encroachments.

via Russia warns Denmark its warships could become nuclear targets – Telegraph.

Russia Using Hybrid Warfare in Poland

Poland is increasingly anxious that Russia may employ the same type of hybrid warfare against it that Moscow utilized in eastern Ukraine.

This hybrid war wouldn’t come in the form of direct military aggression against Poland and would be prosecuted in a way that’s careful not to trigger NATO’s collective defense obligations. Instead, a Russian push into Poland would be built around propaganda and subversion.

via Polish general: Russia using hybrid warfare in Poland – Business Insider.