Saudi Arabia

Leonardo and the oligarchs

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2019 - 08:45

Cath Fletcher reviews 'The Last Leonardo' by Ben Lewis (William Collins, 2019)

On 13 April 2019, The Times splashed on the headline “Fresh doubt over world’s most expensive painting”.

Accompanied by a picture of the Salvator Mundi, controversially attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in a National Gallery exhibition of 2011, the newspaper reported on claims in Ben Lewis’s book The Last Leonardo that the attribution was now in doubt.

The Salvator Mundi sold at auction for $450 million in November 2017 (a picture of Christ holding a crystal globe, its title means Saviour of the World). The buyer is

Pitfalls of knee-jerk “blame Israel”

Published on: Wed, 03/07/2019 - 12:30

Morad Shirin (Solidarity 511) has casually speculated that Israel (or, perhaps, another regional power allied to the USA, but no other state is thought worthy of mention) is probably responsible for the attacks on the Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers.

No evidence is offered, but rather a Galloway-style deduction based on which state would benefit from the most obvious suspect being punished. It isn’t often, thankfully, that this type of argument is promoted in the pages of Solidarity.

“We have to ask: ‘Which state is going to benefit from delaying, or maybe even preventing, a deal?’ That

Trump’s bluster, Assad’s strength

Published on: Wed, 09/01/2019 - 09:24
Author

Simon Nelson

On 19 December, US president Donald Trump announced a snap decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. At first he said the troops would be out within 30 days, but now it looks like several months at least. The plan is now conditional on assurances from Turkey regarding the safety of the Kurds in Northern Syria.

Trump’s move outraged the “common sense” of bourgeois foreign policy. US Defence Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Trump’s special envoy for anti-Daesh work, Brett McGurk, both resigned. Mattis was angered by Trump criticising American allies and other NATO members regarding

Khashoggi murder shows Saudi state under pressure

Published on: Wed, 24/10/2018 - 09:18
Author

Dan Katz

Saudi Arabia’s regime is a stain on the modern world.

And the Saudi state’s decades-old campaign to export an extreme, fundamentalist version of political Islam, funded by vast amounts of oil money, is a world-wide political pollutant.

All political and workers’ rights are severely restricted in Saudi Arabia. All public gatherings, including peaceful demonstrations, are prohibited under a 2011 order made by the Ministry of the Interior. The country’s significant Shiite minority, based in the oil-rich East, is seriously repressed. Women’s rights are restricted by segregation and a male-guardian

Tories welcome “modernising” Saudi Prince

Published on: Wed, 14/03/2018 - 12:56
Author

Ralph Peters

This month’s visit to the UK of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MbS), at the head of a large delegation of Saudi military and business leaders, marks a new low for the Tory government.

It also indicates a major strategic economic priority for the Tory government, as Emily Thornberry put it, “to plug the hole that will be left in Britain’s trade and growth prospects … after Brexit”.

The frequent appearances of Tory Trade Secretary and arch-Brexite, Liam Fox in defending deals with Saudi Arabia was not coincidental. Thornberry might have added that the Tories in their deals with Saudi were

Yemen: end this war!

Published on: Wed, 13/12/2017 - 11:07
Author

Dan Katz

Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen, which began in 2015 in an effort to prop up the regime of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi against internal rebellion, is a disaster for Yemen's people.

The Saudis put together a coalition of Gulf States, and with US and UK support began a brutal, pulverising war on Yemen.
There have been over 13,000 victims of Saudi bombing, but many more have died as a consequence of the coalition's strategy. Hospitals, schools, factories and basic infrastructure have also been destroyed, and there is a major humanitarian crisis in the country. The Saudi have damaged the airport

Hariri resignation stokes up regional tension

Published on: Wed, 15/11/2017 - 09:08
Author

Simon Nelson

The bizarre resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Saudi state media has opened up another battleground between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional dominance. Hariri said his life was in danger, pointed the finger at Iran and by extension the Shia sectarian Hezbollah, one of his government’s coalition partners.

Hezbollah is backed by Iran and a vital component of the Assad regime’s campaign to crush the Syrian opposition. Iran has now drafted in Hezbollah to help arm and train Houthi rebels in Yemen. Hariri presided over a national unity government. His own party, the Sunni

Daesh driven out of Raqqa

Published on: Wed, 11/10/2017 - 10:38
Author

Ralph Peters

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have scored remarkable victories over the last three years against Daesh in northern Syria.

The YPG was created five years ago. Assad withdrew from Kurdish areas in north west Syria to concentrate his offensive in more central areas. The YPG became the army of the cantons formed in what Kurds call Rojava, “the West” of Kurdish territory. It made its female units (YPJ) every bit as prominent and effective as the male units. It rejected religious sectarianism and nationalism. It armed those it liberated like the Yazidis, and helped them organise in

Saudis back off

Published on: Wed, 26/07/2017 - 07:27
Author

Dan Katz

The Saudi Arabian-led blockade of its smaller Gulf neighbour Qatar began on 5 June. The Saudis, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt put in place economic and political sanctions including closing their airspace to Qatari flights, shutting the Saudi-Qatar land border, forcing their citizens to leave Qatar and expelling Qataris from their territories.

The Saudis demanded Qatar close the state-owned TV station al-Jazeera, end all cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, and cut contact with the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar was also to submit to regular compliance checks. The ultimatum

Saudi Arabia tries to push Qatar into line

Published on: Wed, 14/06/2017 - 10:58
Author

Dan Katz

A simmering conflict between the Gulf State of Qatar and its larger neighbour, Saudi Arabia, has abruptly flared into an open, serious stand-off.

Beginning on 5 June, a Saudi-led grouping of states including Egypt, Bahrain and UAE broke off diplomatic relations, and implemented travel and trade bans against Qatar. Qatar has said it will not retaliate.Saudi Arabia has closed Qatar’s only land border and ordered its citizens to leave Qatar.

UAE, Egyptian and Saudi ports have refused to allow Qatari ships to dock.80% of Qatar’s food comes from its Gulf neighbours and 40% comes across the land

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