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Iran – Saudi Arabia: Volcanoes of Confrontation



The confrontation between two sworn geopolitical opponents in the Middle East has become even more threatening. The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have come very close to an extremely dangerous situation which brings the entire Middle East in direct confrontation, as the degree of hostility between the two poles of power has reached its zenith in recent years.

The Role of Houthis in Iran – Saudi Arabia Conflict

The reason for the bilateral exacerbation, in which other Middle Eastern players are gradually drawn in, was the launch on November 4 by Yemeni rebel Houthis of the Burkan-2 (Volcano-2) ballistic missile on the territory of Saudi Arabia. The rebels of the Shiite movement Ansar Allah, one of the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, struck a missile on the north-eastern suburb of Riyadh, the area of the international airport of the Saudi capital. Victims and destruction did not follow, but the rocket overcame an impressive distance (about 1000 km) before it was destroyed by the American Patriot system in service with the KSA.

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The rocket launches of the Houthis repeatedly worried the Saudi side. So, on May 19 this year, a few hours before the arrival of Donald Trump in the largest Arab monarchy with his first foreign visit after his election to the presidency of the United States in 2016, another ballistic carrier was sent to Riyadh.

And then, and this time, the Saudis and their American allies had serious reasons to assume that the “Iranian hand” is driving the Yemeni rebels. In May, Trump, who demonstrates an unprecedented anti-Iranian attitude, even by the standards of all previous US administrations. In November, the “Shiite message” towards Washington and its Arabian partners was also quite clear. November 4 in Tehran and throughout the Islamic Republic celebrated the next (38th) anniversary of the events of 1979 around the American embassy in the Iranian capital. In Iran, this is the National Day of Combating World Imperialism. Therefore, the first year of the Iranians’ celebration of the days of resistance to “US imperialism” in the Middle East, when an aristocratic anti-Iranian is sitting in the White House, should have received the corresponding symbolism. According to him, Iran has so strengthened its positions in the region and found new partners in the Arab countries that can project military power not only from its territory. So in any case, many politicians and military in the United States and Saudi Arabia regarded the semantic load of the missile strike of November 4.

Tehran refutes its own involvement in the supply of not only ballistic missiles but also any shock and defensive weapons systems to Houthis. Representatives of Iran’s military and political leadership point to the use of the Ansar Alla fighters with missiles and other weapons that they inherited from the Yemeni army after the start of the civil war in the country. This has its own logic, there are convincing arguments, at least taking into account the fact that until recently, the government troops remained loyal to the former president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who were loyal to the former Houthis ally.

However, the fact of Iran’s “hand in the military and other support of Yemeni Shiites is considered by Americans and Saudis as an undeniable testimony of another (after Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain) interference of Tehran in the internal affairs of Arab countries. A year ago, in October 2016, officials of the US State Department categorically stated that Iran would provide “critical” military support to the Houthis in their missile strikes on the territory of the KSA.

According to Iranian sources and the Houthis themselves, they launched an attack on the Saudi territory, attacked the ships of the Arabian monarchies in the Bab-el Mandeb Strait by rockets of local origin. It is alleged that part of the missile weapons went into the arsenals of Houthis from the warehouses of the former Armed Forces of Yemen, and the other, allegedly, is manufactured and perfected at the production facilities under the control of Ansar Allah. Nevertheless, the Houthis showed a very representative line (in terms of the range of destruction) in the combat conditions, which military experts in the West tend to consider analogous to Iran’s short- and medium-range missile.

Did Iran Arm Saudi Arabia’s Opponents?

It is important to note that there were no direct proofs of Iran’s supply of rockets and other strike weapons to Yemen by Tehran’s opponents. It is possible that something could be transferred to the Houthis reserves before the establishment of an air and sea blockade of Yemen, which is provided by the Air Force and the Navy of the United States and Saudi Arabia. But approximately since March 2015, when the Saudis built their Arab coalition against Houthis and began to connect an American partner to it, Iranian arms shipments to Yemen proved extremely difficult. Among other things, it is too high for Tehran to run into significant foreign policy costs if it is “caught by the hand”.

In the ongoing history of the missile aggravation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the authorities of the latter seek to extract a number of military and political benefits. The Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the Kingdom under the elderly monarch Salman ibn Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, after the rocket attack from Yemen, accused Iran of “aggression”. Moreover, the heir to the Saudi throne has pointed to the grounds for Riyadh to consider the actions of the Iranian side as an “act of war”.

Inflating the confrontation with the Iran allows the KSA to “tie” the Trump administration to the Saudi agenda in the Middle East. Riyadh needs Washington’s firm guarantees to ensure the security of the Kingdom, its effective cover from the missile threat. The lion’s share of the accusations against Teheran is voiced by its opponents in connection with the missile program of the “mullah regime”. The launches of “Iranian missiles” from Yemen by pro-Iranian Houthis provide the Saudis with a strong argument about the release of this IRI program to the level of the transboundary threat.

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According to experts, most of the available Houthis missiles in the arsenal would not able to deliver warheads to large urban agglomerations of the Saudi Arabia (Riyadh, Jeddah, Yanbu), however, the fact of a permanent missile threat from Iran and its regional allies is a massive concern for Saudi’s.

In this regard, it should be noted that the Iranians themselves are not averse to warming the alarming state of Arab neighbors over the Persian Gulf. So, in the newspaper “Keikhan” close to the ruling circles of the Islamic Republic of Iran (it is believed that the views of the leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and personally the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyid Ali Khamenei, are frequently expressed in the pages of this Tehran publication), following the missile attack on November 4 publication with a talking title: “Missile attack on Riyadh. The next target is Dubai.”

The United Arab Emirates is second only to Saudi Arabia, on the provisional list of Iran’s enemies among the Gulf monarchies. Between the UAE and the KSA, there has even developed a kind of competition for the palm tree in defending the interests of the Arab world through the prism of its protection from the constant Iranian threat. The crisis around Qatar, the recent resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, are not always coinciding interests, but the generally coordinated actions between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in Yemen are indicators of their common anti-Iranian efforts.

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Both monarchies appear in the leaders of buyers of shock and defensive systems with the marking “Made in USA”. Recently, they have begun to pay special attention to the acquisition of American-made air defense systems. The US contracts with the KSA and the UAE on the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) complexes fit into the current logic of the Arabian military and political priorities, with an emphasis on the “anchoring” of the Americans mentioned above to the strategy of containing Iran.

Affairs in Yemen from the Saudi coalition have long been at a dead end. In the neighboring Kingdom, the country established a status quo between the Ansar Alla insurgents and the government forces supported by the coalition forces. KSA showed its own impotence to achieve a decisive turning point in the war with the Houthis. But the “Yemeni project” of the Al-Saud family is associated with the name of the heir to the throne. Therefore, Prince Mohammed cannot accept the irreversibility of the presence of Houthis in the major cities of Yemen, including the capital, Sana.

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At the end of March next year, the third anniversary of the beginning of the military campaign of the Saudi coalition in Yemen will come. To this boundary, Riyadh clearly does not want to come up with the same weight of an unshakable status quo on the military front, hopes are associated with the expansion of the role of the US Armed Forces in the conflict region. In particular, the Kingdom offers US partners not only significantly strengthen their intelligence capabilities to track the missile threat from Yemen, with a further warning from the Saudi side but also to begin destroying the Husit missile installations before launching.

In Riyadh’s “rocket history”, there is also an intrasound element. King Salman blessed his beloved offspring for the elimination of any threat to his future rule. The 32-year-old Prince Mohammed commensurates many of his actions on the external front, including with the establishment of “extinguishing” the internal resistance to the reforms being carried out. The beginning of an irreconcilable fight against corruption in the KSA was announced the same day when a Volcano-2 missile was knocked over the Saudi capital. On November 4, the Anti-Corruption Committee began its work in Saudi Arabia. For a day he brought charges of bribery and money laundering to dozens of people. Arrested more than 10 princes, dozens of current and former ministers, other officials and businessmen. Among the detainees – one of the richest people in the Middle East, the Saudi prince Al-Walid bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who previously held the post of finance minister of the country.

The anti-corruption committee was created by the decree of King Salman, he was headed by Crown Prince Mohammed. The Committee has the right to conduct its own investigations, arrests, introduce a travel ban, freeze bank assets and carry out other actions in the fight against corruption schemes and their participants.

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Among the persons under arrest (according to information on November 10, there are already more than 200 subjects of the Kingdom), there are many representatives of other clans of the KSA, in addition to the ruling Sudeyri, to which belong King Salman and Prince Mohammed. The lightning rise of the young prince to the very top of the hierarchy of power, which also received virtually unlimited opportunities to decide the fate of monarchs, many in the Kingdom did not come. And to suppress the maturing fronts in its embryo is best against the background of the struggle with the common external enemy, for which the IRI is the KSA.

The actions of Shiite rebels in Yemen provided new arguments to the Arab opponents of Iran regarding the accusation of the latter in fomenting “sectarian conflicts” in the region (Sunni Shiites) and indirectly using their missile capabilities against the Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf. The crisis is growing every day with new episodes. On November 10, in Bahrain, a pipeline was broken, supplying oil to this country from Saudi Arabia. The Bahraini authorities blamed this sabotage on Iran, calling it “a dangerous escalation.”

The Arabs promise to give the Iranians an answer, both military and “ideological”, as stated on November 12 by the UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Mohammed Gargash. There is a new dramatic page in the geopolitical antagonism of Tehran and the Arabian capitals. Riyad consolidates around itself the camp of principled opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the spiral of confrontation is inexorably twisted over the confrontational scenario. The chances for a relaxation of the situation are almost not visible, the expectations of a military clash in the Gulf region are increasing.

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(1) On November 4 (the 13th Aban of the Iranian calendar), three important events took place in the history of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. On November 4, 1964 (13th Aban 1343) the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Rukholl Khomeini, was exiled to Turkey. On November 4, 1978 (13 Abana 1357) gendarmes of the Shah’s regime were shot by students of the Tehran University. On November 4, 1979 (13 Abana 1358), revolutionary students seized the American embassy in Tehran and took its employees hostage.

(2) On 11 October, with the consent of the Saudi authorities (the airspace over Yemen is controlled by the Air Force of the Arab Coalition), a group of Russian surgeons arrived in the Yemeni capital, Sanu. Medics from Russia urgently operated on the 75-year-old ex-President Saleh. According to some sources, the operation took place in the building of the Russian embassy in Sanaa.

(3) At the end of March this year, Qaher-M2 missiles (a modified version of Soviet anti-aircraft missiles from the S-75 Dvina complex intended for firing at ground targets) with a range of up to 400 km and a mass of a throwing warhead of 350 kg were launched over the Saudi territory. It is reported that the previous version of Qaher-1 was inferior both in range and in useful combat load (only 195 kg). In May, the Yemeni rebels used tactical missiles “Najim al-Takib” (“Piercing Star”) with a range of 75 km with a warhead weighing 75 kg (Michael Knights, Countering Iran’s Missile Proliferation in Yemen, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, November 8, 2017).

(4) On October 6, the US approved a deal for the delivery of THAAD systems worth $ 15 billion to Saudi Arabia. Earlier, KSA asked the US to sell 44 THAAD launchers, 360 interceptor missiles, 16 mobile tactical fire control and communications stations, and 7 radars AN / TPY-2. Washington notes that the implementation of this program will help maintain the security of Saudi Arabia and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf in the face of Iranian and other regional threats. The first foreign buyer of THAAD was the UAE, who signed a contract for the acquisition of the system in 2011



Amitabh Bachchan – Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan tests positive for COVID-19

Amitabh Bachchan tweeted – I have tested COVID positive, shifted to hospital, hospital informing authorities, family and staff undergone tests , results awaited. All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested,” he wrote.



Amitabh Bachchan – Bollywood superstar has tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday evening and was admitted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai. Bachchan confirmed the same in a tweet.

“I have tested covid positive, shifted to hospital, hospital informing authorities, family and staff undergone tests , results awaited. All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested,” he wrote.

Bachchan was last seen in Shoojit Sarkar’s Gulabo Sitabo that released on Amazon Prime Video. Two films, Jhund and Chehre are ready for release while he is yet to complete Ayan Mukherji’s Brahmastra along with Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

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US threatens Russia with consequences for paying bounties to Taliban in Afghanistan



The US has threatened to respond if the Pentagon confirms reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan. While Russia denies its involvement in any such operation, US-Russia relations could further deteriorate if the reports are confirmed.

The Pentagon is investigating reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan and if found to be true, the US has promised to retaliate. Moscow on the hand has denied involvement in any such operation.

Speaking in front of the House armed services committee, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said that the Pentagon was committed to discovering whether Russian military intelligence had paid the Taliban for attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this bounty thing. If there are bounties, I’m an outraged general, just like every one of us in uniform is,” Milley said. “That’s a real big deal. We don’t have that level of fidelity yet, but we’re still looking.”

Despite vowing to retaliate, Milley suggested that the US may not be responding to the reports as robustly as necessary in non-military ways. The 62-year old admitted that the US was perhaps not doing enough.

The issue is at the strategic level,” he said. “Is there diplomatic, and informational and economic … sanctions, are there démarches, are there phone calls, is there pressure, those sorts of things. And I can tell you that some of that is done.’’

Mark Esper, the defence secretary, was also testifying to the House armed services committee. Esper said that the reports did not come from any of the nine of the total of 17 US intelligence agencies under Pentagon’s authority, implying the information leaked to the press in recent weeks came from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or another civilian agency.

The reports first came to notice in January and were ignored because they lacked credibility. It was only in February that Gen Kenneth McKenzie and the defence secretary became aware of them in February.

Milley confirmed that the investigation is not over and promised to get to the bottom of the situation. President Donald Trump has insisted he was not briefed on the Russian bounties.

Russia Denies Involvement

While American intelligence agencies work to confirm reports, Russia denies the existence or its involvement in any such operation. Moscow says the U.S. is trying to portray Moscow as an all-purpose bogeyman.

“I would like to say officially that these allegations, distributed by the media, are downright lies. No concrete evidence has been presented,” Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said this week in an online forum with the Center for the National Interest.

Other Russian officials point out that Moscow would have little incentive to establish such a program given the high risk of getting caught.

According to NPR, the Russian military intelligence known as the GRU is believed to be behind the suspected Russian bounty program in Afghanistan. The GRU has an aggressive and high-risk culture and is hence preferred by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The New York Times was the media outlet to report about Russia secretly offering money to the Taliban in exchange for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

If confirmed, it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops and could have a severe impact on Washington-Moscow relations.

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Srebrenica genocide: Pakistan draws similarity between 1995 Srebrenica massacre with Kashmir

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.



Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan on Saturday urged the world community to “learn a lesson” from 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and “not let such massacre happen again.”

“Today, we are observing the 25th memorial anniversary of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica. I still remember the day very well along with most people who have humanity in their hearts. I remember when it happened. we were shocked. We were appalled how in a what was a safe haven of United Nations peacekeeping forces, this massive massacre was allowed to happen.

“I still feel the shock how such a thing could have been allowed by the world community, Khan said in a video message aired by state-run Pakistan Television. “I think, It is important that we learn lessons from that, the world community must never let such things to happen again,” he went on to say.

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

“Today, 800,000 Indian troops have besieged 8 million people of Kashmir. And we all fear a similar sort of massacre might follow there,” he said, adding: “So the world community must take notice, and never allow such acts to take place there.”

Kashmir and Palestine

In a Twitter post, in connection with the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “July 2020 marks 25 years since the Srebrenica Massacre, the murder of over 8000 Bosnian Muslims & ethnic cleansing of over 20’000 people. The world has a collective responsibility to ensure history is not repeated.”

“What is happening in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine is chillingly similar,” he added, referring to Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and New Delhi’s scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s longstanding special status in August 2019.

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thousands of visitors from various countries attend the funeral services and burials.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will participate in this year’s memorial program via video link. During a two-day visit to Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo last year for a similar event, Erdogan attended a procession to commemorate thousands of innocents who fell victim to the genocide.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic — later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — overran the UN zone.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica residents fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 of them in the forests.

UK ‘stands with’ all feeling Srebrenica genocide pain

British administration on Saturday “reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting reconciliation across the Western Balkans,” on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Today (11 July) marks twenty-five years since the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) statement said.

“Today I stand with all who continue to feel unimaginable pain from the genocide 25 years ago at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

“The United Kingdom has worked to support justice for the victims, find the missing & promote reconciliation,” he added.

Underlining that more than 8,000, mostly Muslim men and boys, were murdered and over 20,000 women and children were forcibly expelled from their homes, the UK urged “all parties to reject hate speech and the glorification of the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes.”

The statement also said the “verdicts from international and domestic courts must be respected.” Raab said: “On the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, we remember the victims and the anguish of their families.

“During my time in the Hague between 2003 and 2006, pursuing those responsible for this dark chapter in European history, I was reminded daily of the heinous cruelty perpetrated against the innocent.

“The UK is determined to end impunity and help rebuild those countries affected – as our commitment to the ICC, and UK investment and support for Bosnia demonstrates.”

Turkey pays homage

he Turkish president on Saturday remembered the Srebrenica martyrs on the 25th anniversary of the genocide. “We will always stand by our Bosnian brothers in their search for justice. The Srebrenica Genocide will never be forgotten,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video message.

As part of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, Erdogan spoke via video link at the memorial ceremony held at the former accumulator factory used by the United Nations troops as a base in the war in Bosnia.

Erdogan stressed that despite all tragedy and tears, European politicians have learned no lessons from Srebrenica Genocide, adding that free use of words that “fuel enmity towards Islam and support xenophobia is a source of concern for our future.”

“Even though it has been a quarter of a century since the genocide, our pain is still fresh. Our hearts wrenched with every mass grave unearthed,” he said. Erdogan wished God’s mercy on Srebrenica martyrs and patience to their families, their loved ones and to all who feel pain in their hearts.


By Aamir Latif, Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

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