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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default Naval drama(s) off Arabia (catch all)

    Temporary separate thread for maximum visibility.

    U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran's support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war.

    Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply the Shia Houthi rebels, according to two U.S. defense officials.

    Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis.

    Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission.
    http://thehill.com/policy/defense/23...-towards-yemen
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    AdamG,

    The one thing Yemen and its people do not need is more weapons. Earlier this week I spotted a story that it had more than enough.

    The UNSC has passed another resolution on the Yemen, which roundly condemns the Houthis and ex-President Saleh. It includes an arms embargo and authorises members to enforce this. UNSC REsoultion 2216 refers, paased 14th April 2015, which links to the full text in PDF:http://www.un.org/en/sc/documents/re...ons/2015.shtml

    The USN has already started to stop vessels according to media reports:http://www.mintpressnews.com/us-boar...-found/204352/
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-18-2015 at 06:53 PM.
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    Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.
    Russia's recent outreach to Iran and their agreement to sell them weapons may have emboldened them. If that is the case, it will obviously have a significant impact on relations between Iran's new proxy Iraq and Saudi, and Saudi's coalition partners also. All we need now is for Israel and Russia to get involved overtly, we could have another example of a relative small event leading to a larger conflict, much like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggered WWI.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Russia's recent outreach to Iran and their agreement to sell them weapons may have emboldened them. If that is the case, it will obviously have a significant impact on relations between Iran's new proxy Iraq and Saudi, and Saudi's coalition partners also. All we need now is for Israel and Russia to get involved overtly, we could have another example of a relative small event leading to a larger conflict, much like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggered WWI.
    Notice that the Iranian and Russia estimates to the alleged "weakness" of a potential US reaction might in fact be accurate.

    I have been saying this is the weakest NSC and President in years.

    Putin has already assumed the US will not respond in the Ukraine so why would they engage in Yemen?

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    Quote Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
    Notice that the Iranian and Russia estimates to the alleged "weakness" of a potential US reaction might in fact be accurate.

    I have been saying this is the weakest NSC and President in years.

    Putin has already assumed the US will not respond in the Ukraine so why would they engage in Yemen?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Russia's recent outreach to Iran and their agreement to sell them weapons may have emboldened them. If that is the case, it will obviously have a significant impact on relations between Iran's new proxy Iraq and Saudi, and Saudi's coalition partners also. All we need now is for Israel and Russia to get involved overtly, we could have another example of a relative small event leading to a larger conflict, much like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand triggered WWI.
    The ME is now shaking itself out and forming new alliances along the Sunni Shia divide--might in fact be a good thing.

    reports say that #Hamas is evaluating whether it should go with #Iran or the Sunni axis around #Saudi-Arabia

    Enough,” Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said, addressing thousands of his party’s supporters gathered in Beirut’s southern suburbs. “It's about time Muslims and Arabs raise their voices and tell Saudi Arabia enough is enough."

    April 17, 2015

    The rally took the verbal escalation to a higher level, especially after former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement responded harshly to Nasrallah’s previous speeches and remarks by the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen.

    There are serious fears in Lebanon that the tension surrounding Yemen might shake the already vulnerable security of the country that has been without a president since May 2014.

    Hariri tweeted shortly after Nasrallah’s speech, accusing him of “falsification and deception” regarding the Yemeni conflict, noting that Hezbollah’s Yemen rhetoric is “imported from Iran” and does not serve Lebanon's interest.

    “Following in the footsteps of Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has excelled in falsification, deception and the shows of intimidation and sectarian mobilization,” said Hariri via Twitter, adding “Insulting the late King Abdul Aziz will put the insulters in the line of fire, from their biggest authority in Tehran to the smallest one in Dahieh."

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/orig...#ixzz3XguqBjtF
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 04-18-2015 at 07:36 PM.

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    I'm haven't been to Yemen, and don't claim any expertise on it. It does seem from my limited reading though that Saudi is at a minimum not targeting AQAP, and at worst may be supporting them. If true, this presents a wicked problem for the U.S. when it comes to strategic direction regarding Yemen and of course the larger region. David posted elsewhere that some SOF thought the Houthis killing AQAP was a good thing and we shouldn't interfere, but I didn't see any reporting yet on that happening. There was a time when two our enemies were fighting each other we saw that a positive, at least for the short term.

    You say we don't have a strategy. That may or may not be true, but before you have strategy, at least IMO, you have to have strategic goals/ends/objectives. What do you think they should be?

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    "AQAP" is primarily a western label for Saudi insurgents taking sanctuary in Yemen. In Yemen there also exists a very reasonable revolutionary insurgency between the two families who compete for control, and all the rest who suffer under both.

    There is little here for the US to worry about, unless of course we come in as an obstacle between populations and their governments. There is much here that needs to be sorted out. But not much that is our business to intercede upon.

    We have allowed the Al Saud family to become insanely wealthy, and protected them from having to address the reasonable concerns of the majority of their population. I see little reason to protect them from the unreasonable response of the minority.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    "AQAP" is primarily a western label for Saudi insurgents taking sanctuary in Yemen. In Yemen there also exists a very reasonable revolutionary insurgency between the two families who compete for control, and all the rest who suffer under both.

    There is little here for the US to worry about, unless of course we come in as an obstacle between populations and their governments. There is much here that needs to be sorted out. But not much that is our business to intercede upon.

    We have allowed the Al Saud family to become insanely wealthy, and protected them from having to address the reasonable concerns of the majority of their population. I see little reason to protect them from the unreasonable response of the minority.
    http://www.latimes.com/world/middlee...ry.html#page=1

    AQAP has repeatedly attempted to smuggle sophisticated bombs onto passenger jets and cargo planes headed for the United States. U.S. intelligence considers it the terrorist network's most active and most dangerous franchise and says it has a global strategy.
    In 2013, a threat linked to AQAP prompted U.S. officials to close more than two dozen embassies and consulates around the world. This year, the group said it had planned the deadly rampage in January at the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
    http://www.heritage.org/research/com...grows-in-yemen

    The concerns about AQAP are for good reason.

    For example, there’s AQAP’s plot to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with an underwear bomb and its attempt to ship explosive printer cartridges by air from the Middle East to U.S. addresses in 2010.

    The terror group is also infamous for its English-language, online magazine “Inspire” which includes “how-to” articles for terrorist wannabes, and for Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born and educated AQAP propagandist and external ops chief.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...-qaeda-threat/

    This piece makes a good point that AQAP are not the insurgents, rather they have a relationship with the insurgents. To this AQAP remains the greatest Sunni terrorist group threat against the homeland. An article well the worth the read, it provides a good run down on U.S. FID efforts in Yemen, which were actually quite effective initially.

    Now, Al Qaeda isn’t generally an insurgency organization. Look at them in Afghanistan; it was the Taliban who were the insurgents, not Al Qaeda itself. Their mandate is the rest of the world. I think in a sense, Ansar al-Sharia is almost a development of their own Taliban. And with that, you now end up with a dual threat that needs to be managed with two different sets of tools.

    … If we could get the guys who really lead, really manage, really organize AQAP, if we were somehow able to get rid of them, I think Ansar al-Sharia would still be there. And you might even be able to make the case that if the Yemenis were able to get rid of Ansar al-Sharia, you might not necessarily get rid of AQAP. So they feed on each other. They support each other. They certainly are related, but they’re not identical.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 04-19-2015 at 02:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I'm haven't been to Yemen, and don't claim any expertise on it. It does seem from my limited reading though that Saudi is at a minimum not targeting AQAP, and at worst may be supporting them. If true, this presents a wicked problem for the U.S. when it comes to strategic direction regarding Yemen and of course the larger region. David posted elsewhere that some SOF thought the Houthis killing AQAP was a good thing and we shouldn't interfere, but I didn't see any reporting yet on that happening. There was a time when two our enemies were fighting each other we saw that a positive, at least for the short term.

    You say we don't have a strategy. That may or may not be true, but before you have strategy, at least IMO, you have to have strategic goals/ends/objectives. What do you think they should be?
    One factor that should concern the US and Europe is that the most of the oilfields are in the region from East Saudi Arabia, stretching to Iran.

    Oil still is an important factor to strategic thinking and plan.

    I recall the rationale spelt out in the Wolfowitz Doctrine.

    China is poised to 'capture' CAR oil and the lowering of the oil price is driving Russia into China's warm embrace since China has no qualms in cornering oil from any source.

    China rising is bad news for the US and its global supremacy.

    Therefore, it would be in the interest of the US to calm the badlands of the Middle East, be it through diplomacy, coercion or by sheer military might, even if in a stand off mode.
    Last edited by Ray; 05-03-2015 at 02:01 PM.

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    Default The US to calms the badlands?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    One factor that should concern the US and Europe is that the most of the oilfields are in the region from East Saudi Arabia, stretching to Iran.

    Oil still is an important factor to strategic thinking and plan.

    I recall the rationale spelt out in the Wolfowitz Doctrine.

    China is poised to 'capture' CAR oil and the lowering of the oil price is driving Russia into China's warm embrace since China has no qualms in cornering oil from any source.

    China rising is bad news for the US and its global supremacy.

    Therefore, it would be in the interest of the US to calm the badlands of the Middle East, be it through diplomacy, coercion or by sheer military might, even if in a stand off mode.
    Ray,

    It is hard today to see that US policy in the region has acted to 'calm the badlands'. Until relatively recently few in the USA would openly argue that the Middle East was not a region of national interest, that time maybe coming.

    War weariness is a factor now and a realisation inside "The Beltway" that intervention appears to rarely promote US national interests. Add in the impact of shale oil & gas, so reducing US dependence on oil from the region and so for example "why should we fight (etc) to prop up nasty regimes and secure China's oil supplies?". I just read an interview, a few months old, with DNI James Clapper who pointed out the impact of shale oil & gas.

    If not oil supplies, securing China's oil supplies, propping up kings and those nasty terrorists aplenty - then what keeps the USA in the region?
    One place: Israel.

    IMHO supporting Israel is a domestic political necessity for all likely presidents. Yes there are some advantages to the USA in the relationship it has with the Israeli state; rarely does one hear the contrary view.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Default Pending Naval drama off the Strait of Hormuz?

    Al Arabiya News, Reuters
    Tuesday, 28 April 2015

    Iran has opened fire at a U.S. cargo ship and directed it to Bandar Abbas port on the southern coast of Iran, Al Arabiya News Channel has reported on Tuesday, citing Iranian news agencies.

    Both state-owned FARS and IRNA news agencies, said the cargo ship was American, however a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to Reuters that the ship, the MV Maersk Tigirs, was a Marshal Island-flagged vessel and that Iranian forces had indeed boarded it.
    http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News...-sailors-.html

    Details are still coming in, but it seems clear that the Iranian Navy seized a container ship called the Maersk Tigris that was transiting the Strait of Hormuz this morning. The ship, flagged in the Marshall Islands and owned by a Danish conglomerate, was traveling on an internationally recognized shipping route when it was approached by Iranian vessels that ordered it to “proceed further” into Iranian waters. The captain refused, and the Iranian vessels fired warning shots. The captain then “complied with the Iranian demand and proceeded into Iranian waters in the vicinity of Larak Island,” according to a Pentagon spokesman. The Iranians have boarded the ship.

    As the news of this act of piracy started to circulate, and after some confusion about whether or not the ship was U.S. flagged (it’s not), there was some discussion on social media about whether or not the United States is obligated to defend the interests of the Marshall Islands (it is) and whether or not there were any American citizens aboard (there don’t appear to be). Some of this was understandable fact finding, but some of it also seemed motivated by a desire to downplay the significance of the incident, and to diminish the expectation that the United States needs to respond, even as the Navy has already ordered a destroyer to monitor the situation.
    http://freebeacon.com/blog/irans-hij...ge-to-the-usa/

    Maersk Line, the Danish shipper that chartered a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo vessel which Iranian forces have captured, said the reason for stopping the ship could be related to a 2005 cargo case.

    Maersk Line spokesman Michael Storgaard said the company learned Thursday that an Iranian appeals court had ruled Maersk must pay $3.6 million for a 10-container cargo delivered a decade ago on behalf of an Iranian company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. However, the cargo never was collected, according to Storgaard, adding it eventually was disposed of by local authorities.
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/04...-to-2005-case/

    Iran's Revolutionary Guards 'harassed' a US-flagged commercial ship just days before it seized a vessel carrying cargo and 34 sailors, it has emerged.

    The two incidents have raised concerns about the security of shipping lanes in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said.

    News of the first incident was revealed by the Pentagon after Iranian guards seized MV Maersk Tigris this week, by firing warning shots across the vessel's bows.
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz3YoDcKYAN
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    IRGC has used this for two reasons--to signal their discontent that Assad forces are taking beating at the hands of moderate Syrians and Islamists using a large number of TOWs and MILANs. Seems that Hezbollah has been whip lashed all over Syria and Iraq and have taken beatings as well recently.

    Secondly they are signaling in two short press comments yesterday and today that once the nuclear deal is signed "sanctions" come off immediately!!

    No one in DC seems to have noticed a deliberate Iranian non linear warfare concept in play being carried out by Khamenei and the IRGC.

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    To my knowledge enforcing a civil court judgement is rarely the responsibility of a state body. It is plausible that the ship's seizure was an opportunity for the IRGC to enforce a civil court judgement and an opportune time too.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Calming waters

    Danish shipping company Maersk had insisted on the release of the vessel and its 24 crew members. The IRNA report did not give details on whether a years-old debt case was settled, as demanded by Iran for the release of the ship. Iran’s foreign ministry had said on Wednesday that the negotiations between “the private complainant and the other party were going on”.
    Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...rait-of-hormuz
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    Much Ado about Nothing...

    The Iran's Port and Maritime Organization has menahwile released the ship, stating that, 'the court verdict was against the vessel only, and the crew of the vessel had not been subject to any restrictions from leaving the port or the country'.

    Maersk Tigris is on her way since yesterday.

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