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Is Saudi Counterterrorism Coalition Real or Power Struggle Between Princes?

Next Cold War Roundup 12/16/15

M/W/F 10ish AM Eastern.

Saudi Arabia’s Counterterrorism Coalition:

_ As the Saudi operation in Yemen continues to be a stalemate and an outright failure and embarrassment in some areas, and as rumors of a palace coup in the royal family swirl, the Saudi deputy crown prince and Minister of Defense announced a 34 country coalition of special forces and troops who will supposedly invade Syria and Iraq to “fight terrorism”.  The media is reporting it widely but most people don’t seem to be taking it very seriously. An internal power struggle with the interior minister Muhammad bin Nayef, favored by the West, and whose troops just entered a southern area of the kingdom where Houthis have been gaining ground, might explain the sudden announcement of the coalition.

Mujtahidd argues that Bin Salman is responding to the western perception that his uncle, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, is the leading scourge of terrorism, and to criticism of himself, for example by the Germans and some US newspapers. This move is simply to show that his role is No 1 in the fight against terrorism, as much as to say: Bin Nayef may have dealt with terrorism inside the kingdom, but I will deal with it throughout the Islamic world.

_ Pakistan was surprised by its inclusion in the Saudi coalition (for a second time, same happened with Yemen). Jordan was evasive and it remains to be seen how many other countries actually agreed to this coalition. Some are calling the coalition a “paper tiger” but caution remains, given bin Salman’s recent track record.

For entirely different reasons the rest of us would do well to be wary too. Given Mohammed bin Salman’s track record thus far in the theatre of war, that being the catastrophe that is Yemen, one can devoutly hope that the alliance remains a paper tiger, a PR stunt and an internal power play.

Anything else in a region reeling from one crisis to the next, where sectarian hatred is growing by leaps and bounds, and this impatient and arrogant young man could reap for all of us a bloody harvest of unintended consequences.

Kerry’s Trip to Moscow

_ John Kerry met with Lavrov and Putin in Moscow, bringing along some colleagues including Nuland, to talk about Syria and Ukraine. Nothing earth shattering came from the meeting except to say that Russia and the US are still trying to work together.


Syria and Iraq:

_ ” The Iraqi government Tuesday demanded the ‘complete withdrawal’ of Turkish forces from its territory, indicating Ankara’s partial pullout the previous day was not enough.”

_ Chemical weapons attacks in Syria in 2013: “Sarin materials brought via Turkey & mixed in Syrian ISIS camps – Turkish MP to RT”. The Turkish MP says the materials to make the Sarin gas came from Europe, were shipped through Turkey, and were formulated in Syria and “these people are working for Al Qaeda” (referring to those who carried out the attack).  The Turkish MP is now being investigated for treason for this revelation. “Ankara’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office opened the case against Istanbul MP Eren Erdem of Republican People’s Party (CHP) after his interview about sarin was aired on RT on Monday.”


_ Germany is in the game, but Germany will only play a only play a limited role –“train and assist” and support roles, (overtly anyway).  “Germany turns down US request for more military engagement in anti-ISIS coalition.”

_ Syrian troops and allies seized Marj al-Sultan, a large air base in the eastern suburb of Damascus (Eastern Ghouta) “which had been held by rebels for the past three years.”


Russia and Turkey:

_ On Sunday, another incident between Russia and Turkey:


_ Signs of weakness/failure of current King’s units in Saudi Arabia territory where Houthis have been making gains in recent weeks? Meanwhile, “Islamic State Gains Strength in Yemen, Challenging Al Qaeda



Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.