(FPIF) – The splintering of the powerful Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into warring camps — with Qatar, supported by Turkey and Iran, on one side, and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), supported by Egypt, on the other…
In a recent meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to the Iranian ayatollah, Iraqi Vice President and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki thanked Iran for their assistance in fighting jihadists and criticized the Gulf States for colluding with these groups.
Maliki praised the Islamic Republic of Iran during a visit to Tehran to improve diplomatic and military relations. He thanked Iranian officials for the ongoing assistance they have provided during Iraq’s battle against takfiri militants such as the Islamic State (IS). The VP said despite many countries promising to assist in the campaign against jihadists, Iran was the only one to deliver on their promises.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan said in a press conference yesterday that he has proof of the US aiding terrorists in Syria such as the Kurdish YPG and PYD but also including the Islamic State (IS).
Erdogan said it was “very clear” that the US is arming and supporting “terrorist groups including Daesh (IS)” as well as the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) and PYD (Democratic Union Party). The US is currently at odds with Turkey over whether the YPG and PYD are actually terror groups and the US sees them as “reliable partners” in the war against IS despite Turkish claims of their connections to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). The PKK is agreed to be a terrorist group by the US, EU and Turkey.
The US does work with some Kurdish groups under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which also includes some pro-Turkish elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). State Department spokesman Mark Toner addressed these claims in his daily press briefing saying that the US has “never provided weapons to the YPG.”
A 23-year-old Danish woman who attracted international attention for joining the Kurds in battling Daesh has been imprisoned, stripped of her visa, and banned from international travel for 12 months by the Danish government.
Joanna Palani seemed a natural to attract international attention. The daughter of Iranian Kurds, Palani was born in a UN Iraqi refugee camp in 1993. In 2014, she dropped out of college, returning to her motherland to “fight for human rights for all people,” in her own words. Her father and grandfather were soldiers as well, and she has been operating firearms since the age of nine.
The United States has announced they will be canceling– or at least holding off– on an expected arms sale to Saudi Arabia due to the high number of civilian casualties in Yemen. However, military aid in other areas will continue flowing to Riyadh. Other Gulf allies complicit in the Saudi-led coalition will continue to receive military aid as well.
On December 8th, the U.S. Defense Department announced five major upcoming weapon deals including sales to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. If completed, the deals were expected to total a whopping $7.9 billion. These five are on top of the sales announced in November to Qatar and Kuwait. Well now Washington appears to be backing-out of the Saudi part of the deal– but not entirely.
A Reuters exclusive reported today that the United States would be halting some air dropped munitions destined for Saudi Arabia including precision-guided munitions. Instead, Washington has decided to focus on beefing-up security along the Saudi-Yemeni border and intelligence sharing. “It’s not a matter of how smart or dumb the bombs are, it’s that they’re not picking the right targets. The case in point … is the one on the funeral,” an official said.
Bahrainis have rallied to voice their anger at a visit by British Prime Minister Theresa May to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom which has been cracking down on pro-democracy protests for years.
The demonstrators took to the streets in the island village of Sitra on Wednesday evening to condemn London’s support for the Manama regime, stomping on a Union Jack.
Further Undermines Media Freedom
Qatari authorities have blocked Doha News, the country’s only independent news website, in a move that undermines Qatar’s attempts to present itself as a center for media freedom in the Gulf region, Human Rights Watch said today. Doha News has been publishing news about Qatar online for six years, but on November 30, 2016, authorities there ordered Qatar’s two internet service providers, Vodafone and Ooredoo, to block the site, making it inaccessible to internet users in Qatar.
A Doha News spokesperson told Human Rights Watch that Qatari authorities said that the site’s reporting had upset “several” unnamed government ministries and cited concerns over its failure to formally register in Qatar. Doha News is registered and hosted in the United States, but its journalists live and work in Qatar. In October, Doha News published an editorial calling on the authorities to amend provisions of the 2014 cybercrime law to “preserve free speech and protect journalism in the country.”