Saudi Arabia will be razed except for Mecca & Medina if it attacks Iran – defense minister

Responding to Saudi Arabia’s latest threats to take their conflict inside Iran, Tehran said it will leave nothing standing in the kingdom except for Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina if the Saudis do anything “ignorant,” Al-Manar reports.

 
© Morteza Nikoubazl

“We warn them against doing anything ignorant, but if they do something ignorant, we will leave nowhere untouched apart from Mecca and Medina,” Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan told Arabic-speaking Al-Manar channel, as cited by Reuters

“They think they can do something because they have an air force,” he added in an apparent reference to Riyadh’s bombing of Yemen, where Iran-affiliated Houthi forces are being routinely targeted by the Saudi Air Force.

Dehghan’s comment followed unusually blunt remarks by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said on Tuesday that any struggle for influence between Riyadh and Tehran would take place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.”

In a rare interview broadcast on multiple Saudi TV channels, the 31-year-old prince, who was named in 2015 by his father, King Salman, as successor to the throne, outlined his vision of modern-day Iran.

Making use of sectarian terms, Prince Salman said Iran is eager “to control the Islamic world” and to spread its Shiite doctrine, according to AP.

When asked if there is a mere possibility to mend ties with Iran, the prince said: “How can I come to an understanding with someone, or a regime, that has an anchoring belief built on extremist ideology?” 

The prince, who is also in charge of the Sunni kingdom’s economy, argued that the predominantly-Shiite Iran aims to reach Mecca – the holiest site for all Muslims.

 
Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. © Fayez Nureldine

“We will not wait until the fight is inside Saudi Arabia and we will work so that the battle is on their side, inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia,” he threatened without elaborating.

Ties between regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but tensions began to mount rapidly over the past few years.

Perhaps the most significant flare-up happened in January last year, when Riyadh executed Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite preacher. Massive demonstrations erupted in Tehran, with some protesters ransacking the Saudi embassy and setting it ablaze.

The next day, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran, though Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there was no justification for the assault.

The incident took place amid the infamous Saudi intervention in Yemen aimed at restoring the power of ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Riyadh accuses Tehran of waging a proxy war there by arming and supplying Houthi rebels, though Iran denies the allegations. According to UN estimates, the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen killed over 13,000 civilians during the two years of the conflict.

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‘Trump’s stance toward North Korea goes from one extreme to another’

The US is trying to use its influence to make a problem that has been around for 60 years and to provoke a reaction from North Korea before the possible return to the 'Sunshine Policy', says Daniel McAdams, executive director at Ron Paul Institute.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has urged the US and North Korea to “remain calm and exercise restraint.” He also called the situation between the two countries "highly complex" and sensitive.

This comes as tension continues to flare between the two with seemingly empty threats and shows of strength being traded.

RT spoke with executive director at the Ron Paul Institute, Daniel McAdams who suggests the motives behind the posturing are hard to comprehend which is perhaps the desired effect. 

“The fact of the matter is that there have been a couple of tests in recent weeks that the US has made with intercontinental ballistic missiles. You can’t help but suspect that there is a message involved in these tests,” he told RT.

In his opinion, “President [Trump] has gone from one extreme to the other saying ‘something very bad may happen soon’ to ‘why not have Kim Jong-Un come over to the White House and have a talk’. Maybe the intent is to keep North Korea off guard. Maybe it is to have them think that Washington also has strange and unstable leader - it is hard to tell.”

McAdams continued saying that the US is trying “to use intimidation. It is also trying to get China do its bidding.”

He further claims “China has limited influence over North Korea. There is an enormous amount of downside to both China and Russia if the North Korean government implodes, if society implodes, if the economy further implodes.”

“But I do think the US government is trying to use its influence, is trying to for some reason to make a problem that has been in existence for some 60 years plus. All of a sudden now it is an urgent problem that needs to be immediately addressed. I think this is a created crisis in Washington DC and it makes very little sense,” he said.

According to McAdams, “the US military exercises along with Japan and South Korea are meant to send a signal to North Korea as well.”

In his opinion, America’s joint military exercises with Japan and South Korea are meant to send a signal to Pyongyang.

“They have a very strong effect, as the US would feel if hostile neighbors would conduct military exercises in our backyard, we would feel intimidated. I think there is also an element of South Korean politics involved as well,” McAdams said, adding that South Korea is in a sort of a lame duck period ahead of the presidential election on May 9.

“The next presidential election is set to favor Moon Jae-in who has taken a much more nuanced approach to US foreign policy. He has explicitly warned the US not to get involved South Korea’s democracy and elections. He may be a tougher nut for Washington to crack,” he added.

McAdams suggested that “may explain why Washington in this interim is putting in the THAAD missiles, is accelerating the military presence, is moving ships closer to North Korea trying to perhaps provoke a reaction before things may have to cool down and back down, perhaps even return to the Sunshine Policy which wasn’t all that bad.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

 

Iraq or Syria? Trump recalls dessert perfectly, forgets who he bombed & internet erupts

US President Donald Trump revealed he informed Chinese Premier Xi Jinping about the US air strike on a Syrian military base as the pair ate "the most beautiful" chocolate cake. He then mixed up Syria and Iraq – and the internet had a meltdown.

Trump was speaking with Fox Business about the bizarre exchange with Chinese leader during a summit at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

We had finished dinner, we’re now having dessert,” Trump began. “And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.

READ MORE: Trump says he told Xi how he bombed Syria over ‘most beautiful piece of cake’

We’ve just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit by the way, unbelievable, from hundreds of miles away, it’s brilliant, it’s genius, what we have in terms of technology no-one can come close to competing,” he continued.

So I said, we’ve just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq,” said the President, seemingly oblivious to his mistake. http://gph.is/1TUMIPk

what animated GIF

Heading to Syria,” host Maria Bartiromo interjected. “Yes,” Trump replied, “heading toward Syria.”

Naturally, Twitter was set alight by the gaffe.

@ChelseaClinton Disturbing that Trump remembers what he ate (chocolate cake) - but not where he sent missiles (Syria, not Iraq as he says until corrected) https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status...

@RegBarclay2017 Trump: President Xi, I just want you to know I just fired 59 cruise missiles at [Iraq] Syria.

@BraddJaffy Trump: Over dessert “I said we’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq”

@LawyerRogelio Trump he can remember that they were eating a beautiful chocolate cake but can't remember that the missiles were sent to Syria and NOT Iraq. pic.twitter.com/U00hvhPhij

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‘Riskier than striking Syria’: Beijing warns US against attacking North Korea

China has warned the US against using military force against North Korea, after a surprise redeployment of an aircraft carrier group. Washington’s regional allies said they expect it to consult with them before any action.

Tension is mounting in the region as US President Donald Trump said he would solve the “North Korean problem” with or without China’s help. The warning came amid the diversion of the aircraft carrier group ‘USS Carl Vinson’ to the Korean Peninsula and a week after Trump ordered the US Navy to fire a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase as punishment for an alleged chemical attack in Idlib province.

 
FILE PHOTO: The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. © U.S. Navy Photo

Responding to US belligerence, Beijing called against using force against Pyongyang.

“Military force cannot resolve the issue,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. “Amid challenge there is opportunity. Amid tensions we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”

An editorial in the influential newspaper Global Times, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’ People’s Daily, said the situation on the Korean Peninsula could not be compared to that of Syria.

“Taking military actions against North Korea is much more risky than launching a missile strike on Syria. Pyongyang is able to deal a heavy blow to South Korea. Regardless of Pyongyang's nuclear capability, a radiological dispersal device, or a ‘dirty bomb,’ if thrown on the South, will cause nuclear pollution, which will be unbearable to this US ally,” the newspaper warned.

The paper said Washington needs to accept the reality that it “has no power to put global affairs in order at the moment” and work with other leading world powers on the Korean situation through the UN Security Council, a body that the US has shun by the unilateral attack against Syria.

US allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, have both asked Washington to consult with them before taking military action against Pyongyang. Both countries station thousands of US troops on their territories.

The escalation comes as North Korea prepares to celebrate the birthday of its late leader Kim Il-sung on Saturday, which is a state holiday called ‘Day of the Sun’. Pyongyang has a record of timing demonstrations of military strength to the date, as many observers say it might to so this year to test Trump’s resolve.

A Washington-based think tank, 38 North, claimed on Wednesday that satellite images of the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site indicated an imminent new test. South Korean officials disagreed, saying no new activities were evident, but added that a sixth test may be conducted at any time.

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Putin: Trust between US & Russia degrading under Trump

Trust between Russia and the US has degraded under the Trump administration, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated. During his presidential election campaign, Trump said he would like the US to have better relations with Russia.

In an interview on Wednesday, Putin said that if Donald Trump had intended to bring about a thaw in US relations with Russia, he has failed to see this intention through.

“I would say the level of trust [between Russia and the US] is at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn’t improved. On the contrary, it has degraded,” the Russian president told Mir broadcaster.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (R) welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before a meeting in Moscow on April 12, 2017. © Alexander Nemenov

Trump’s repeated claims that he could mend relations between Washington and Moscow has fueled accusations that he secretly colluded with Russia to win the US presidential election last year. His administration is currently under a congressional investigation over alleged ties with Russia.

Moscow has distanced itself from domestic US tensions, neither supporting nor criticizing Trump officially. It denied preferring Trump to his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton, during the election campaign and said it would judge his administration by its actions rather than its words.

Trump’s latest decision to attack Russian ally Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack drew sharp criticism from the Kremlin. Moscow considers the decision rushed, illegal and playing into the hands of terrorist groups.

Putin and Trump are yet to meet face to face to discuss the tensions between Russia and the US. A meeting of the two leaders has not been scheduled so far, even though Moscow has indicated it is willing.

READ MORE: Putin ready to meet Trump at upcoming Arctic summit in Finland

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Registers to Run for President

Former leader insists he will not run in the May 19 poll, saying his registration aims to support a political ally.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a surprise move, has registered as a candidate for next month's presidential election. He had previously said he would not run, after being so advised by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Ayatollah suggested Ahmadinejad throw his support behind his former deputy, Hamid Baghaie.

RELATED: Russia, Iran Say U.S. Crossed 'Red Line' in Syria, Vow Response

Ahmadinejad said he remained committed to his "moral promise" to Khamenei of not running for the May 19 election. At the registration center, the former leader stated that the Khamenei's "advice was not a ban. I repeat that I am committed to my moral promise [of not running] and my presence and registration is only to support Mr. Baghaie."

Ahmadinejad left office in August 2013 after two troublesome four-year terms, which left Iran divided, isolated and struggling to find its footing economically.

His 2009 re-election was followed by one the largest protests to hit the country since the Islamic revolution three decades before. Two candidates backed by reformists Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi - who have been under house arrest since February 2011 - contested the results. Both Ahmadinejad's terms also sparked anti-Western and anti-Israeli rhetoric, including skepticism towards the Holocaust.

But, Ahmadinejad approach and humble roots make him a popular figure among the poorer sections of society.

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Trump Very Likely Profited From Syria Attack — Here’s How

U.S. President Donald Trump owns stocks in Raytheon, the weapons manufacturing corporation that produced the Tomahawk missiles used in the attack.

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced missile strikes against the Shayrat Syrian airbase last Thursday, he alleged that the attack was in the country’s “vital national security interest.”

RELATED: Trump's 'Beautiful' Syria Airstrike and What It Means

Claiming to support Syrian lives, he also said the attack “would prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

What Trump conveniently forgot to mention, however, is that he may have profited handsomely from the missile strikes he ordered, which left up to 15 people dead.

Trump owns stocks in Raytheon, the weapons manufacturing corporation that produced the Tomahawk missiles used in the attack, Raw Story reports. His 2015 financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission revealed that his stock portfolio includes investments in defense firms, with Raytheon leading the charge. 

The company, worth almost US$30 billion, has seen its stocks surge since the attack. The attack itself also raked in millions for the company, given that the 59 Tomahawk missiles used cost taxpayers an estimated US$1.4 million apiece, Democracy Now reports. 

Although Trump’s reported Raytheon stocks are valued between US$1,000 to US$15,000, some believe he could have deeper financial ties to the wealthy defense corporation.

https://images.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2017-04-05-180629676032-653337.png

“Of course, as with all things Trump, there’s a black box here, because he’s not reporting his tax returns, he hasn’t done a blind trust,” Center for International Policy official William Hartung told Democracy Now. 

“Virtually anything he does, not just in the military sphere, could benefit him, his family, his inner circle financially.”

RELATED: How 'Anti-Trump' Liberal Media Cheered Syria Attack

Trump justified the missile strikes by claiming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was allegedly responsible for the chemical weapons attack two days prior that killed upwards of 70 people. His administration, however, has not presented any evidence of al-Assad’s complicity. 

Moreover, the destruction of the Shayrat Syrian airbase has made it increasingly difficult for experts to carry out an independent investigation of the chemical weapons attack.

Organizations like Raytheon that form the broader military-industrial complex have frequently served as cheerleaders of war, since the U.S. government contracts those companies to produce weapons. 

The 192 cruise missiles that were used to bomb Libya in 2011, for example, made the company over US$290 million alone.

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Exaggerated Dangers in Venezuela

Caracas, Apr 10 (Prensa Latina) Exaggerating the dangers that exist today in Venezuela seems to be part of the strategy to root the image of insecurity in order to justify a foreign intervention that will allegedly save the country's stability.

How true or false is the situation they are trying to sell to the large masses who are alarmingly observing the manipulated domestic situation, as part of a scenario that has been described as catastrophic by people like the secretary-general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro?

A communiqué issued by Almagro refers to 'a killed demonstrator and dozens of wounded and arrested as the initial result of repression (on Friday), aimed at suffocating the demand for free elections, the only solution for a country devastated by the political crisis and looting.'

The peaceful protest and the right to the freedom of peaceful association, he noted, are universal rights that any government, especially the democratic governments, must respect. That shows again that there is no democracy in Venezuela and that human rights are violated regularly, the OAS chief said.

None of this fits reality. First, there is freedom to demonstrate, but authorities have the right to limit the places to prevent clashes between opposite forces, according to observers.

The violent demonstrations, according to what this correspondent has observed, are promoted by groups opposed to the government that are closely linked to 'the democrats of the continent', as Almagro calls those who 'will not accept to pay with Venezuelan blood the debts of democracy, freedoms, prosperity, the Constitution and the rights that its rulers have contracted at the people's expense,' something that these advocates cause and manipulate.

The communiqué, which was issued after Almagro met on Thursday in Washington with the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the opposition leader Julio Borges, shows that the so-called soft coup against President Nicolas Maduro is being cooked in the U.S. capital, with support from local opponents.

Big media organizations have described events that do not match reality, as they are trying to depict an explosive image throughout the country.

For example, here, at the foot of Mountain Avila, there were sporadic expressions of violence in the areas of Altamira and Chacaito, known as the capital's bastions of the country's right-wing opposition and the bourgeoisie, while in other zones in the east, west and south, there is tension, but there is no violence as predicted and announced by media opposed to the government.

That atmosphere of insecurity and violence is fueled by events like this one: 'Venezuelan tennis players had to go to Miami to compete in the Davis Cup against El Salvador. Not a single game will take place in Venezuela, because the International Federation considered that it was dangerous. But no one, either the International Tennis Federation or the IND or Min-Deportes say anything', the commentator Eleazar Diaz Rangel said.

Logically, the manipulation of the situation contributes to the atmosphere of insecurity. Everything can have an interpretation here.

For example, at 08:00 hours, local time, on Sunday, a squad of soldiers wearing the olive green uniforms of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) was deployed at the steps of the Financiero Latino building, in Urdaneta and Avenida Fuerzas Armadas.

Anyone would think that it was a scenario of violence, because the headquarters of the Ombudsman is located nearby, but it was merely a preventive exercise. The danger does not exist.

It does not mean that the country is not in tension, there is tension, ordinary people are concerned about their country and the threats coming from abroad, but so far, it has not gone beyond that, unless foreign forces attack the homeland of Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez. Then, there will be a dangerous situation.

However, there are still voices like that of UNASUR Secretary-General Ernesto Samper, who noted that an explicit electoral program is the best way to solve the political crisis. It was said by someone who participated in the talks between the two parties and who has promoted dialogue.

Likewise, but on the opposite direction, there is howling like that by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who speaks about 'violations of human rights' in Venezuela and calls 'to exert pressure' to cause the explosion of a bomb that can affect the entire Latin America.

In that regard, the interpretation of the dangers may change, everything depends on being at the wrong moment and at the wrong time in the sequence of a situation.

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