Qataris rush to stock up on food ahead of price hike as only land border shut

Qataris rush to stock up on food ahead of price hike as only land border shut

© Fayez Nureldine / AFP
Residents of Qatar have rushed local supermarkets to stock up on food after Saudi Arabia closed the only land border with the emirate, Doha News reports.
Since early morning residents were cramming shopping carts with milk, water, rice, eggs and other essential goods at Qatari grocery stores.
“I’ve never seen anything like it – people have trolleys full of food and water,”said one of the customers in Villaggio mall, as quoted by the media.
The rush followed the earlier announcement by Riyadh that the border between Saudi Arabia and Qatar – the only ground link for Qatari imports – was closed. Nearly 40 percent of Qatar’s food comes via this land route.
As a desert state, Qatar produces less than ten percent of the food consumed by its people, according to research last year. In 2012, the country imported 99.5 percent of cereals, 83.4 percent of vegetables, 86 percent of fruit, 93.6 percent of meats, 95 percent of beans, and 100 percent of edible oil.
The border closure is part of the cutting off of diplomatic ties with the country by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Qatar is accused by its Arab neighbors of backing terrorist groups.
Riyadh has also halted air and sea traffic with Qatar, urging “all brotherly countries and companies to do the same.”

jumps after shunned by Arab neighbors over alleged terrorism links 
Photo published for Oil jumps after Qatar shunned by Arab neighbors over alleged terrorism links — RT Business
Oil jumps after Qatar shunned by Arab neighbors over alleged terrorism links — RT Business
Crude prices rose on Monday on the news Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the country of supporting terrorism.
However, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that closing the border would not impact normal life. The government pledged “to take all the necessary measures to make certain of that and to thwart attempts to negatively affect Qatari society and economy.”
Lorries carrying food to Qatar have already lined up across the border in Saudi Arabia unable to enter the country, according to Al Jazeera.

Arab states in the Persian Gulf suspend all flights to and from 
Photo published for Arab states in the Persian Gulf suspend all flights to and from Qatar — RT Business
Arab states in the Persian Gulf suspend all flights to and from Qatar — RT Business
Major airlines on the Arabian Peninsula have announced they will stop flying to Qatar as the Gulf crisis deepens. All Qatari airlines have been banned from Saudi airspace.
The only way the emirate can avoid interruption in food supplies is by air and sea freight. However, that makes the logistics much more expensive and will inevitably boost food prices.
“It will immediately cause inflation, and that will directly affect ordinary Qatari people. If things start costing significantly more, then you’re going to see the Qatari people putting increasing political pressure on the ruling family for either a change of leadership or a change of direction,” said Ghanem Nuseibeh, director at advisory firm Cornerstone Global, as quoted by BBC.
He added that many Qatari residents used to make daily or weekly trips to neighboring Saudi Arabia for cheaper grocery shopping. Closing the border makes that no longer possible.


Report says Israel planned atomic detonation in Sinai if Six Day War went wrong

By Times Of Israel Staff

‘The last secret of the 1967 war’

New York Times, quoting newly released interview, says the display of nuclear strength was a ‘doomsday’ scenario not needed after IDF victory

An Egyptian transport burning after a direct hit from an Israeli tank during the Six Day War, June 5, 1967. (David Rubinger/Government Press Office)

An Egyptian transport burning after a direct hit from an Israeli tank during the Six Day War, June 5, 1967. (David Rubinger/Government Press Office)
One the eve of the Six Day War, with the country surrounded by enemies and unsure of its future, Israel developed a “doomsday” plan to detonate an atomic bomb in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as a warning to the Arabs, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The report was based on an interview conducted by leading Israeli nuclear scholar Avner Cohen with retired IDF brigadier general Itzhak Yaakov, who reportedly oversaw the plan.
“It’s the last secret of the 1967 war,” Cohen told the paper.
The full interview is set to be published Monday, as the region marks the 50th anniversary of the war in which Israel defeated the combined Arab armies in just six days.
According to Yaakov, who oversaw weapons development for the Israel military and gave details of the plan to Cohen in 1999 and 2000 interviews, Israel was deeply fearful ahead of the war.
“Look, it was so natural,” Yaakov said, according to the Times, which quoted a transcription of a taped interview. “You’ve got an enemy, and he says he’s going to throw you to the sea. You believe him.”
“How can you stop him?” Yaakov asked. “You scare him. If you’ve got something you can scare him with, you scare him.”
Yaakov, who died in 2013 at age 87, detailed in the interview with Cohen how Israel developed a plan code-named “Shimshon,” or Samson, to have helicopters and commandos fly an atomic device to a mountain top site about 12 miles from an Egyptian military complex at Abu Ageila.
“The plan, if activated by order of the prime minister and military chief of staff, was to send a small paratrooper force to divert the Egyptian Army in the desert area so that a team could lay preparations for the atomic blast,” the report said.
“Two large helicopters were to land, deliver the nuclear device and then create a command post in a mountain creek or canyon. If the order came to detonate, the blinding flash and mushroom cloud would have been seen throughout the Sinai and Negev deserts, and perhaps as far away as Cairo.”
Israel has never acknowledged having nuclear weapons, maintaining a policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity, neither publicly confirming nor denying the existence of an atomic arsenal. However, several top US officials have seemed to confirm it, most recently former secretary of state Colin Powell who wrote in a leaked private email that he believed Israel has some 200 nuclear weapons.
The Israeli Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the report or on Yaakov’s role, The New York Times said.

A photo from the 1960s of the nuclear facility outside Dimona (Flash 90/US National Security Archive)

A photo from the 1960s of the nuclear facility outside Dimona (Flash90/US National Security Archive)
If Israel had detonated a device, it would have been the first use of a nuclear weapon in a war situation since the US dropped the two bombs on Japan to end World War II.
On Monday, the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington — where Cohen is a fellow — is releasing on a special website a series of documents related to the Israeli atomic plan.
In the transcripts, Yaakov describes a helicopter flight he made to the site with Israel Dostrovsky, the first director-general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, that had to be aborted after the Egyptians scrambled fighter jets.

This file photo taken on June 5, 1967 shows Israeli airforce Dassault Mirage III fighters flying over the Sinai Peninsula at the Israeli-Egyptian border on the first day of the Six Day War. (AFP)

This file photo taken on June 5, 1967 shows Israeli airforce Dassault Mirage III fighters flying over the Sinai Peninsula at the Israeli-Egyptian border on the first day of the Six Day War. (AFP)
“We got very close,” Yaakov reportedly said. “We saw the mountain, and we saw that there is a place to hide there, in some canyon.”
As it turned out, Israel’s victory was swift and decisive and there was no need for any doomsday plan, but Yaakov still believed Israel should have gone ahead with it and openly declared its nuclear prowess.
“I still think to this day that we should have done it,” he told Cohen, who is the author of “Israel and the Bomb” and “The Worst-Kept Secret.”
Professor Avner Cohen (Photo credit: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
Professor Avner Cohen (James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)
In 2001, some 2 years after his conversations with Cohen, Yaakov was arrested in Israel and charged with passing secret information with intent to harm state security. The charges related to memoirs he wrote, the Haaretz daily reported in its obituary of Yaakov in 2013.
Yaakov was acquitted of the main charge but found guilty of the unauthorized handing over of secret information, Haaretz said, noting that he received a two-year suspended sentence.

Yitzhak Yaakov (YouTube screenshot)

Yitzhak Yaakov (YouTube screenshot)
The obituary hinted at the exploits in the Sinai Desert, saying that “Yaakov was one of Israel’s leading officers in the field of weapons development during the build-up to the Six Day War and afterwards. During the war he was appointed to command a complex and unprecedented operation in the Sinai Peninsula, where he was to command both IAF pilots and a special ops unit. The IDF’s rapid success in defeating the Egyptian army made the operation redundant and it was cancelled.”
According to Cohen, he promised Yaakov he would find the right time to publish the information and now, on the 50th anniversary, he believed the time was ripe.


Why I am posting so many ME articles

You may not be really interested in the Middle East and start being annoyed by all these articles. Let me clarify why I do this. I am seeing a lot of dots popping up and slowly a picture is emerging that I don’t like. I don’t want to push a conclusion on you but let me show you the dots. The articles are dots, sort of setting the pieces on the chessboard, so more will follow. Now who plays with who and why. Let me throw some hints at you:


The Saud family are jews disguised as muslims. Wahhabism is, in my opinion, basically talmudism with a Quran cover. I will post an article on this soon. Don’t get distracted by the fake conflict between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Now Putin has made his stand perfectly clear in the past months: Nobody is allowed to change or deny the story of WWII and the holocaust. He stands with Israel. I have read several articles now claiming Putin is a chabad-lubavitch jew. Is that true? I don’t know, but it would make sense. On the other hand maybe he just wants to cover up all the lies told by the USSR about Hitler and WWII. I do not entirely trust the guy as I have never met him, so difficult to judge.
Although Russia is working with Iran in Syria, Iran’s views about the holocaust are clear: It never happened. Syria obviously stands with Iran and Hezbollah on the side of the Palestinians.
Then there is North Korea who has never acknowledged the ‘state’ of Israel. Now, Turkey and Qatar seem to be close to each other and Turkey is getting away from EU and US who stand on the side of Israel.
My thoughts about all this: They tried to start WWIII over Syria, but that didn’t work OR Syria was just to confuse us over who is aligned with who, and for Russia to show their military gear so sales went up over the past years.
In any case, it is possible we are now setting up for real. The US, NATO and the Arabs have spend a lot of time and money on training and arming a bunch of mercenaries who are now being chased out of Syria and Iraq. You do not want these mercs to come home and overthrow you, which they could do easily, so you have to keep them busy on the territory of your enemy. Enemies who are now being created.
So, that is it. You make up your own mind. I will keep throwing pieces of the puzzle at you and you decide what to do with it. In the end it may be all a major distraction of something else. But if it is not you will know where to find the articles.

Revealed: Secret details of Turkey’s new military pact with Qatar

In March 2015, the Turkey-Qatar Military Cooperation Agreement was passed by the Turkish parliament (AFP)

By Paul Cochrane

Documents obtained by Middle East Eye show strategic alliance includes pledge by Ankara to protect Gulf state from external threats
In December 2015, Turkey announced, to the surprise of many, that it planned to establish a military base in Qatar. Behind the scenes, the agreement was about forming a major strategic alliance.
After a 100-year hiatus, Turkey is militarily back in the Gulf and ramping up its presence overseas. In January, Ankara announced that it would also establish a military base in Somalia.
Specific details about the Qatar agreement, which Turkey described as an alliance in the face of “common enemies“, remain scant, but Middle East Eye has acquired copies of the agreements, as well as further details, which include a secret pledge by Ankara to protect Qatar from external threats.

A long time coming?

Turkish-Qatari defence and military agreements go back nearly a decade. In 2007, Ankara and Doha signed a defence industry cooperation agreement, and in 2012, signed a military training agreement.
In March 2015, the Turkey-Qatar Military Cooperation Agreement was passed by the Turkish parliament, but the negotiations to create an overarching comprehensive agreement were still ongoing. Only in July 2015, according to France-based Intelligence Online, did the Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, first tell the Saudi king about the true extent of the agreement. Under the agreement, about 3,000 Turkish troops, air and naval units, as well as special forces are to be based in Qatar for training and joint exercises. The two countries also promised greater bilateral cooperation between intelligence services.
Riyadh reportedly welcomed the deal to help counter Iran’s growing regional influence as Turkey’s military’s presence will bring additional foreign muscle in the Gulf, joining the United States’ Al Udeid air base in Qatar, the French naval base in Abu Dhabi, and the US and British naval bases in Bahrain, among others.
But the move was not unanimously accepted in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). When Abu Dhabi got wind of the agreement in the wake of the 35th GCC summit in December, it was not viewed positively, with the Emirates fearing stronger Turkish-Qatari ties could reverse the regional fortunes of the down-on-its-heels Muslim Brotherhood.

A comprehensive agreement

According to the news outlet Intelligence Online, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (Milli Istihbarat Teskilati – MIT) made multiple trips to Doha in December to cement a secret pledge that Ankara would protect Qatar from external military threats. In return, Doha would help offset Ankara’s strained relations with Moscow following Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet. Qatar would shore up the Turkish economy due to the loss of Russian tourists – estimated at some $3bn – as well as provide gas export guarantees if Moscow turns off the taps.
While the economic assistance is a typical sweetener by Gulf states securing bilateral agreements, it is the defence pledge that is of greatest significance. Whether the pledge has been actually signed has not been reported outside of Intelligence Online. There is no mention of it in the comprehensive agreement that was signed in December, but talks are reportedly ongoing.
“Turkey and Qatar are in the process of devising a possible ‘Status of Forces Agreement’. In the deliberations that are said to be under way, the two sides would have discussed the incorporation of a casus foederis [“case for the alliance”] clause in the agreement,” said Dr Eyup Ersoy, an international relations expert at Turkey’s Bilkent University.
“However, first, this clause, if agreed upon, could be confidential and may not be revealed to the public. Second, the substance of the clause, again if agreed upon, would be qualified. For example, it may read that Turkey will provide diplomatic and military assistance to the extent possible in case of armed aggression against Qatar. In other words, it may not be unequivocal and unconditional.”
As such, the agreement may not be overly different from unwritten pledges by the UK and the US to aid the Gulf states in the advent of an attack, last evidenced in the 1990 Gulf War. What is clear from the comprehensive agreement is that the Turkish base will be under Qatari control, with the possibility for Qatar to establish a base in Turkey.
While the agreement states that Turkey is to cover the Qatari base’s expenses, there are no details about overall costs.
“Since the base is to be under Qatari military structure, it is simply a Qatari base put to the use of the Turkish military, so Doha will bear the financial costs of it,” said Ersoy.
If this is the case, it will follow the precedent of Qatar reportedly covering the $1bn construction cost of the US’s Al Udeid air base.

Strategic goals

That the two countries have become closer through the agreement has not come as a surprise.
“Turkey has been pursuing a strategic relationship with Qatar for over a year. I don’t think it was necessary to sign the deal as it was very obvious to anyone watching,” said Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Ersoy however thinks the agreement was essential to provide a legal foundation and create political legitimacy to further Ankara’s goals in the Gulf, even if the “Status of Forces Agreement” is not made public.
“In my view, the ‘real’ motivation, from Turkey’s perspective, is to transform the regional alignment with Qatar into a tentative alliance. This military cooperation agreement is imperative for the sustainability of Turkey’s strategic relations between Qatar, and by extension, between Turkey and the Gulf,” he said.
The two states had found a common cause in meddling in the so-called “Arab Spring”, particularly in Egypt, where both support the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as in Syria. Their backing of the Muslim Brotherhood had invoked the ire of other GCC states, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
But since the overthrow of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and Riyadh last year reconciling itself with the party, Ankara is using Doha as an inroad to the rest of the Gulf.
Furthermore, Turkey is being viewed as an additional line of defence against Iran following the normalising of relations with Tehran by the West. This is considered the prime motivation for the agreement. In December, the Turkish ambassador to Qatar had told Reuters that the agreement was to face “common enemies,” considered a veiled allusion to Iran.
“I don’t know if the US would fight for Qatar, as the whole region is afraid that the US has sold them out to Iran. The [Turkish] soldiers in Somalia are there for formality, to show the flag, whereas in Qatar it’s a real fighting force,” said Atilla Yesilada, an Istanbul-based analyst at Global Source Partners, Inc.

Common enemies

Turkey’s move into Qatar, and the GCC’s general acceptance of the deal is considered a form of security diversification. David Roberts, a lecturer in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, thinks that the Gulf has interpreted US strategy incorrectly, that the pivot to Asia is not about abandoning the GCC but rather a pivot away from Europe.
“There is perhaps a slight loss of confidence, and the US are blue in the face about it. What can they possibly do? They have invested huge amounts in Al Udeid, which has a major role in the US defence review,” he said. Indeed, since 2009, Al Udeid has been the headquarters of the US Central Command (CentCom), covering 20 countries in the region.
The US is considered to have approved the strategic alliance, not wishing to ruffle the feathers of either country in the current regional environment.
“I’d not expect to see anything from CentCom on this, given how important the Incirlik air base [in Turkey is for strikes against the Islamic State group] and the Al Udeid base is to the US,” said Schanzer.
The US is not however expected to be undermined when it comes to arms deals with Qatar or the GCC at large, with Turkey only accounting for 2.4 percent of overall sales to the GCC between 2010-14 (by comparison the US is 48.1 percent and Britain 18.6 percent), according to SIPRI figures.
“For Turkey it could be a golden opportunity to develop their military-industrial complex by cashing-in with Qatar. However, they’ve kind of missed the boat a bit as Qatar is cutting back on spending – the military not so much – but it’s not the good old days,” added Roberts.
The training aspect of the agreement also does not appear to be of major strategic important to Qatar.
“What is this alliance about? If it is about military training with counterparts, Qatar already has the Brits and the Americans doing training. How many trainers do you need? And they already have a smorgasbord of international equipment, although it is another NATO country [Turkey] joining them. Qatar is in desperate need of one unified security document,” said Roberts.
Turkey Qatar Comprehensive Agreement Pages 18-24:

Turkey Qatar Comprehensive Agreement – Page 18-24

Turkey Qatar Military Training Cooperation:

Turkey Qatar Military Training Cooperation

Turkey Qatar Defense Industry Cooperation:

Turkey Qatar Defense Industry Cooperation


Qatar hits back as Saudi, Egypt, UAE cut diplomatic, transport ties

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani at a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Bahrain in December 2016 (AFP)
Qatar has slammed the decision of three Gulf states, Egypt and the Maldives to sever ties with it on Monday, saying they were “unjustified” and aimed to put Doha under political “guardianship” as Turkey called for dialogue.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut their ties with Qatar and expelled the Gulf state from the coalition fighting the war in Yemen, accusing it of supporting terrorism. It opens up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.
The Maldives soon followed suit in severing all ties with Qatar, the government said.
“The measures are unjustified and are based on false and baseless claims,” the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the unprecedented step.
“The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of its (Qatar’s) sovereignty as a state,” it added.
To “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism” Riyadh decided to “sever diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar, and to close all land, sea and aviation” links, a Saudi official cited by the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Riyadh ordered its nationals to leave Qatar within 14 days and barred Qataris from the kingdom.”(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” SPA said, in an apparent reference to Qatar’s influential state-owned channel Al Jazeera.
The statement accused Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in Saudi’s restive and largely Shia Muslim-populated eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.

Turkey ‘saddened by the rift’

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a dispute over Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement, and adds accusations that Doha even backs the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran.
The US appeared to attempt to play down the spat. Speaking to reporters in Sydney on Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the rift would not affect the fight against Islamist militants and that Washington has encouraged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.
“I do not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified – the unified – fight against terrorism in the region or globally,” Tillerson told reporters in Sydney after meetings between Australian and US foreign and defence ministers.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he was saddened by the rift, and called for dialogue to resolve the dispute.
“We see the stability in the Gulf region as our own unity and solidarity,” Cavusoglu told a news conference.
“Countries may of course have some issues, but dialogue must continue under every circumstance for problems to be resolved peacefully. We are saddened by the current picture and will give any support for its normalisation,” Cavusoglu said.
Libya’s eastern-based government announced it was following its regional allies in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, its foreign minister, Mohamed Dayri, said on Monday.
The government, which sits in the eastern city of Bayda, has little authority within Libya. It is appointed by a parliament that also sits in the east and is aligned with powerful military commander Khalifa Haftar. They have spurned a U.N.-backed, internationally recognised government in the capital, Tripoli.

US military base

The measures are more severe than during the previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, again alleging Qatari support for militant groups. But at that time, travel links were maintained and Qataris were not expelled.

A split between Doha and its closest allies is likely to have repercussions around the Middle East, where Gulf states have used their financial and political power to influence events in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and where there are significant US miltiary interests.
The diplomatic fallout also threatens the international prestige of Qatar, which is set set to host the 2022 World Cup. For years it has presented itself as a mediator and power broker for the region’s many disputes.
The region also plays an important role for the US military in the fight against Islamic State. Bahrain houses the US Navy’s Fifth fleet, which patrols the Middle East and Central Asia, while Qatar is home to the Al Udeid Airbase, from where the United States carries out air strikes against militants in the region.

Iran blames Trump’s ‘sword dance’ in Saudi Arabia

The announcements come 10 days after US President Donald Trump visited Riyadh to call on Muslim countries to stand united against Islamists extremists, and singling out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups.
Iran said on Monday that it saw America pulling the strings.
“What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance,” Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted in a reference to Trump’s recent visit toSaudi Arabia.
Trump and other US officials participated in a traditional sword dance during the trip in which he called on Muslim countries to stand united against Islamist extremists and singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups.
Qatar has used its media and political strength to support long-repressed groups during the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings in several Arab countries.
have to wonder if Saudis somehow thought they got a green light to isolate Qatar from Trump
Muslim Brotherhood parties allied to Doha are now mostly on the backfoot in the region, especially after a 2013 military takeover in Egypt ousted the elected Islamist president.
The former army chief and now president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, along with the new government’s allies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.
Egypt said on its state news agency that Qatar’s policy “threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation.”
Oil prices rose after the moves against Qatar, which is the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a major seller of condensate – a low-density liquid fuel and refining product derived from natural gas.

Economic disturbances

Saudi Arabia has called on international companies to avoid Qatar, raising the prospect that it might try to make foreign firms choose between doing business in Qatar and obtaining access to the much bigger Saudi economy.
Economic disturbances loomed immediately, with the Qatari stock index sinking 7.6 percent in the first hour of trade. Some of the market’s top blue chips were hit hardest, with Qatar National Bank, the country’s largest bank, dropping 5.7 percent.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain announced the suspension of transport ties with Qatar, and gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their borders.
Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Etihad Airways said it would suspend all flights to and from Doha from Tuesday morning until further notice.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain announced the suspension of transport ties with Qatar (AFP)
With an estimated $335bn of assets in its sovereign wealth fund, a trade surplus of $2.7 billion in April alone and extensive port facilities which it can use instead of its land border with Saudi Arabia, which has been closed, Qatar appears likely to be able to avoid a crippling economic crisis.
Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries traditionally account for only about 5 to 10 percent of daily trading on the Qatari stock market, according to exchange data.
But the diplomatic rift could have a serious impact on some business deals and companies in the region, particularly Qatar Airways, which can no longer fly to some of the Middle East’s biggest markets.
Kunal Damle, an institutional broker at SICO Bahrain, said Qatari state funds might step in to support their market later in the day.
“(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” SPA said.
The statement accused Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in Saudi’s restive and largely Shia Muslim-populated eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.


Israel provoked the Six-Day War in 1967, and it was not fighting for survival

By James North

I am old enough to remember clearly how the Six-Day War was reported at the time. Just about everything we were told then was wrong, as the major historians of the period all acknowledge today. Let’s start with how the crisis was covered as it happened, 50 years ago:
* Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of Egypt, was portrayed as a dangerous demagogue, widely popular across the Arab world, who wanted to destroy Israel. The Western press regularly demonized him, and he was easily the most recognized Arab leader until Saddam Hussein.
* In May 1967, Nasser made his move. He ordered the United Nations to remove peacekeeping troops from the Sinai peninsula, where they had been serving as a tripwire to prevent conflict between  Egypt and Israel.
* Next, Nasser escalated by closing the Straits of Tiran to international shipping, blockading Israel’s southern port of Eilat, which started to strangle the country.
* Meanwhile, Nasser was plotting with other Arab states, chiefly Syria and Jordan, to launch a joint invasion and push Israel into the sea.
* Israel’s very existence was in danger. Therefore, Israel launched a “preemptive” attack on June 5, fearing that it had no choice if it were to survive.
* Fortunately, despite the odds against Israel, it won in only 6 days.
* To protect itself against another onslaught, Israel occupied the Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank. The occupation was the purely accidental consequence of a fight for Israeli survival.
This Mainstream Narrative remains unchallenged in the popular imagination, 50 years later. Just the other day, a New York Times reporter stated as fact that in 1967, “Israel defied annihilation by its Arab neighbors.”
Norman Finkelstein, the distinguished scholar, has done as much as anyone to uncover the truth about the Six-Day War. In a wide-ranging interview in his Brooklyn office, he refuted the Mainstream Narrative point by point. You can find his detailed revisionist account in a chapter of his now classic Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, supplemented by another work: Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End. Finkelstein is known as combative, a man who has not been afraid to fight for the truth, despite damage to his career along the way. But what’s also vital to recognize is that he is a serious scholar, Talmudic in his intensity, and that no one has ever successfully challenged his research.


Norman Finkelstein, May 2, 2017, in his office in Brooklyn. [We will run the entire interview with Finkelstein this weekend.]
Finkelstein emphasizes that no genuine academic today, whatever their political orientation, endorses the Mainstream Narrative. He starts by identifying what he has called the “Two Biggest Lies.”
* The truth is that Nasser and the other Arab leaders had absolutely no intention of invading Israel in June 1967.
* And Israel’s existence was never in the slightest doubt, as both Israeli and American leaders knew that Israel could easily win any conflict, even against a coalition of  Arab states.
Finkelstein insists we cannot understand the Six-Day War without going back 11 years, to the 1956 Suez Crisis. That year, the Egyptian leader, Nasser, nationalized the Suez Canal — and Israel, Britain and France launched an unprovoked joint invasion of Egypt to seize the waterway back. But the United States, under President Dwight Eisenhower, opposed the attack, and pressured the tripartite invasion force to withdraw and leave the Canal to Egypt. Suez was a catastrophe for all three invading nations, and British Prime Minister Anthony Eden was forced to resign. Meanwhile, Nasser’s reputation in the Arab world, and across Africa, Asia and Latin America, rose to new heights.
Norman Finkelstein argues that the historical record shows that in 1967 Israel yearned to complete its failed mission of 1956. First, he says, Israel’s “primary goal was to neuter Nasser, to deliver a death blow to these uppity Arabs, and finish off what was called radical Arab nationalism.” He goes on that Israel’s government had a “secondary goal” — “to conquer the lands they had coveted but didn’t manage to seize in ’48: East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan.”
Israeli leaders had only one big doubt: what would America do? If Israel did attack, would the United States force another humiliating climbdown, as in 1956? Or would Washington look the other way?
Finkelstein challenges the Mainstream Narrative’s account of the specific events in the months leading up to the war. His analysis is not at all unusual, and is shared to a great extent by other scholars. He argues that the facts show that Israel was not peacefully minding its own business, but instead regularly and violently provoking its Arab neighbors. In November 1966, in the largest military action since the Suez invasion, Israel attacked the West Bank town of Samu, then under Jordanian rule, killing 18 Jordanian soldiers and destroying 125 homes. Israel continued instigating along its border with Syria in April 1967, triggering an aerial battle in which 6 Syrian planes were shot down, including one over Damascus. Voices in the Arab world started to accuse Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of the Arabs, of standing by and doing nothing.
So Nasser did tell the United Nations to remove the peacekeeping troops from Egyptian Sinai, mainly so he could be seen to be taking some action. But Finkelstein points out that Israel could have asked for UN peacekeepers to be placed on its side of the border, which would have maintained the tripwire. Israel did no such thing.
Nasser’s closing of the Straits of Tiran has been similarly distorted in the Mainstream Narrative. Finkelstein explains that Nasser may actually have had the legal right to close the Straits, that he probably did not intend to maintain the closure, and that he offered to take the dispute to the International Court of Justice, but Israel refused. And Israel would not have choked overnight, but got 95 percent of its imports through its other ports and had a several months’ reserve supply of oil.
Meanwhile, Finkelstein says, Israeli diplomats descended on Washington, D.C. to find out if the United States would give them a green or at least an amber light. Finkelstein has looked through the historical record, and here is a summary of what he found:
* The U.S. agreed with Israel that Nasser had no plans to attack.
* The U.S. agreed that Israel would easily defeat Egypt on the battlefield, either alone or with any combination of other Arab nations.
* And the U.S. tacitly gave Israel permission to start the war, or at least indicated there would be no repeat of Eisenhower’s repudiation after the 1956 Suez invasion.
Once Israel attacked first, Finkelstein says the conflict should more aptly be called the Six-Day Walkover. “In fact,” he says, “the war did not last six days; it lasted closer to six minutes. Once Israeli planes in a surprise blitzkrieg knocked out the Egyptian air force still parked on the ground, the war was over. . . If the war lasted longer, it was only because Israel wanted to conquer the Egyptian Sinai, the Jordanian West Bank, and the Syrian Golan Heights.”
Finkelstein does recognize that the Israeli public did believe the Mainstream Narrative, took to heart the lies and distortion their government was feeding the world, and genuinely feared the Arab states wanted to push them into the sea. He explains that the Israeli government “figured the Israeli people would give their all if they feared their backs were up against the wall. The leaders were culpable twice over; they provoked the crisis and then launched an unprovoked attack.”
Once the war ended, in the United States it was treated as a lark, a thrilling adventure. After Israel occupied the Egyptian Sinai, jokes circulated: “See the Pyramids. Visit Israel.”
But it was no joke for the at least 18,000 people who died in the fighting: 10,000-15,000 Egyptians; 6000 Jordanians; 1000-2500 Syrians; and nearly 1000 Israelis.
Israel did win its immediate war objectives; Nasser’s image was severely damaged, and he died three years later, with his brand of Arab nationalism greatly discredited. Israeli soldiers did occupy the West Bank, Sinai and the Golan.
Whether the occupation, now shuddering into its 51st year, has been good for Israel is still to be decided by history.