Sunday, June 18, 2017

‘US-Saudi arms deal is going to have a decidedly negative effect on the situation in Yemen’

Professor Matthew Crosston said the new arms deal that U.S. President Donald Trump signed with Saudi Arabia “is going to have a decidedly negative effect on the situation in Yemen.”

“Everything the Saudis have done in Yemen has been done with defense weapons bought mostly from the United States,” he noted.

Here’s the full text of the interview:

Is there a link between the new arms deal that Trump clinched with the Saudis and the future of Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen?

Matthew Crosston: There is certainly a link in the sense that everything the Saudis have done in Yemen has been done with defense weapons bought mostly from the United States. This new deal, which Trump most assuredly did as a focus on domestic economic improvement and for giving a benefit to major American defense industry conglomerates, is going to have a decidedly negative effect on the situation in Yemen. It is inconceivable that the Saudis would invest so heavily in new weaponry and then not use it in the conflict it has characterized as essential to its regional hegemonic interests (i.e. counter-acting Iranian influence). When you consider the general categories covered in the deal (air force modernization; air and missile defense; border security and counterterrorism; maritime and coastal security; and communications and cybersecurity), it is not difficult to envision how each individual sector can play a major role in ratcheting up Saudi activity against Houthi rebels in and around Yemen as a whole. And if that happens, then the situation on the ground in Yemen only gets worse.

Keep in mind this ‘link’ is indirect and secondary when it comes to connecting back to Trump. I do not think Trump is anti-Houthi. To be honest, I highly doubt Trump even knows who or what the Houthis are and where they are located or what their interests and goals are. This was an economic deal for the United States and it is largely all Trump cares about. When someone on his team could also, on the side, say this deal will also supposedly undermine ‘radical Islamists in the Persian Gulf,’ it is just the sort of side benefit Trump crows about, even if he has not personally vetted such a claim from an intelligence and national security perspective and even if the claim is largely untrue. Trump cares more about how the soundbite will play to his base than whether the soundbite carries actual facts.

What countries benefit from the chaos in Yemen? 

Matthew Crosston: I am not a fan of ‘beneficial chaos,’ as it were, so I say no countries TRULY benefit from the horrible human catastrophe taking place in Yemen and largely going unnoticed in the West. It is without question a proxy playground for Iran and Saudi Arabia, flexing their political and military muscles and trying to exhibit for the region who is the strongest and who has the proper claim to ‘regional hegemon’ for the greater Middle East. What I find so distressing in this conflict is how little Yemen has to offer either of the two greater powers as a geographical or diplomatic pawn. Yemen is not and was not a major political actor in the region (at least, not compared to half a dozen more powerful states) and the State vs. Houthi rebels angle is, to me, a rather weak justification for all of the devastation and suffering that has been inflicted upon the Yemeni people. I am a scholar and expert on international security and intelligence studies, which means I am not decrying the fact that states still largely act according to hyper-realist logic and almost always look to maximize their national interests and global positioning. I honestly do not have a problem with that reality. But when two larger powers like Saudi Arabia and Iran play these realpolitik grandstanding games out on a far weaker country, where the known consequence is going to be total anarchy and a gigantic humanitarian crisis, then the two countries should both be shunned and hindered by the larger global community. Unfortunately, no one within that community has tried to be a leader yet on this account.

The humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen is worsening by the moment. What could end such disaster?

Matthew Crosston: I was just hinting at that at the end of the last question: there has to be greater determination and effort by the global community at large to put into effect REAL deterrents that would impact both major players (Saudi Arabia and Iran). If these two countries stopped their support of the conflict in general, then the smaller internal unrest between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels would likely either extinguish itself or at least be at a much much smaller level of intensity. This would subsequently allow aid agencies and humanitarian organizations real operating space to enter the country and alleviate pain, suffering, and famine.

So far it has been a horrible stain on the reputation of the international community that the events in Yemen have not really registered a big enough mark in public consciousness. As such, no state seems compelled to step forward and take initiative. Honestly, there isn’t even really much VERBAL condemnation, if you ask me, not in comparison to the level of suffering. So, if we cannot even register high enough attention in terms of verbal acknowledgement, I highly doubt anyone is going to suddenly do an about-face of conscience and decide that the Yemeni people’s suffering should end and end right now! This is one of those instances where the only thing worse than the suffering is the woefully inefficient international response to it.

What's your take on Western media's coverage of Saudi Arabia's onslaught against Yemen?

Matthew Crosston: Most Americans would be very hard-pressed to find Yemen on a map, let alone understand the internal dissension dynamics going on at the moment between the central government and local factions. This basic fact of ignorance goes a long way in determining how little media coverage emerges on the conflict. Too many media organizations are still governed by advertising revenue and ‘viewers’ in one form or another. As a result, our media coverage has suffered from a tremendous ‘dumbing down’ over the past three decades. The onslaught of online ‘news’ has not necessarily signaled an increase in quality, detail, and probing analysis. Yes, we have access to more news from more sources than ever before. But have we, as Americans, become more nuanced, more appreciative, and more global in the news we decide to track and follow? I fear the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no.’ Consequently, Americans will often create a ‘shortcut’ version of the news that can be horrendously misguided.

For example, Yemen is in the Persian Gulf. Therefore, it will lead many Americans to simply think any internal unrest has to be an issue strictly guided by radical Islam and is about the government trying to defend itself against extremists. This is in fact how MANY news outlets all over the world that are in favor of Saudi interests have characterized the Yemen conflict. But as we have explained above and which is readily available for the discerning global citizen interested in more nuanced analysis and root causes, the conflict is far more complex and layered. So, what Western media needs more than anything else are Western citizens interested in that more complex and layered story. If those citizens exist, then media organizations will give the ‘more difficult’ story to them. It is a very basic media version of supply and demand. But we do not have very many of those citizens right now in America. And thus, our media outlets are not supplying people with analyses of the Yemen unrest that do justice to its complexity, importance, and larger international impact.

Dr. Matthew Crosston  is Vice Chairman of Modern Diplomacy and member of the Editorial Board at the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.



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Saturday, May 27, 2017

The World Conference on Lovers of Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the Takfiri Issue

Islamic Revolution Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei: 
Affection to ahl al-Bayt remains to be an undertaking recognized and esteemed by Muslims worldwide from any sects or affiliations.


The World Conference on Lovers of Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the Takfiri Issue 
The World Assembly of Islamic Awakening invites thinkers and scholars to send their contributions on the following topics.
•  Concepts, foundations and thoughts of Lovers of Ahl al-Bayt (AS)
•  History and civilization of Islamic religions and its role in the establishment of modern Islamic civilization
•  Ideas of top Muslim thinkers and scholars in the formation of a single, united Muslim nation in the face of deviated groups
•  Alliance and integrity of Lovers of Ahl al Bayt (AS) in the formation of a single, united nation
•  Identification of challenges and threats facing the Lovers of Ahl al-Bayt (AS) and the Muslims world
•  Strategies and solutions to unity of the Lovers of Ahl al-Bayt (AS) in the face of enemies of Islam (global arrogance, Zionism, reactionary regimes and Takfiri groups).


Please send your contributions to info@ islamic-awakening.ir 
Submission deadline: 7/6/2017 
For more information, please visit http://ift.tt/2rtD0j3;

Secretariat of the World Assembly of Islamic Awakening

http://ift.tt/2s2RPGt



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Friday, May 26, 2017

Final Setback; Trump Administration Doubles the Refugees Rate into US

An email leaked into the public sent by The US State Department to the American private agencies around the world proved the failure of Trump plans on the issue. The email indicates the near doubling of the number of refugees in the coming months into the US.

According to the email sent by State Department spokeswoman Jennifer L. Smith, the travel and visa agencies will be allowed to bring refugees “unconstrained by the weekly quotas that were in place.” New York Times also reports that the weekly quotas will be 1500 which will be more than 6000 a month starting from June. The quota was 2500 for May and previous months which shows a %130 rise.

The news was published the same day Trump’s Travel Ban was ruled out once more this time by the 4th Circuit Appeals Court upholding blocks by a lower rank court. Trumps rule would ban the residents from six Muslim countries, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.

The reason for ruling out the Trump Travel ban is announced its being religiously oriented. The court used the expressions and assertions of President Trump during his presidential campaign as proof:

The evidence in the record, viewed from the standpoint of the reasonable observer, creates a compelling case that (the executive order's) primary purpose is religious… Then-candidate Trump's campaign statements reveal that on numerous occasions, he expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as his intent, if elected, to ban Muslims from the United States.  

The rise from 830 to 1500 in weekly refugees’ entrance into the US will be a big failure for Trump and his policies admitted by his administration in State Department email. The string of failures by Trump does not seem to be stopping or slowing down within and without the country.



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The Curious Role of Ayatollah; Who is Sheikh Isa Qassim and How Dangerous Is He for Bahrain Monarchy?

A 1-year suspended sentence for a man infuriates large groups of people demonstrating in his town. The protests are so massive and large that makes the government forces intervene leading to 5 people killed and more than 280 arrested. Who is the man and how significant is he for Bahrainis?

With the start of Bahrain uprising in 2011, the hopes for political and societal reforms in the country were stimulated once more. The government, from the beginning, used harsh reactions to oppress the thousands of hundreds of the people who took to streets to call for their rights. Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain king, then called for foreign interventions realizing with his inability to control the streets. Saudi intervention aided Bahrain monarchy in controlling the protests and widespread arresting of the activists. The movement however did not die or even fade away because of the presence of its spiritual leader; Sheikh Isa Qassim.

Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim,77, is the Shia cleric living in Duraz, a town in Bahrain. He was student to renowned religious men like Abdul-Hussain Al-Heli,  Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, and Fadhel Lankarani. Since 2001, he has been leading Friday sermon prayers in Duraz deepening his influence on the people by his wise speeches.

Sheikh Qassim entered the political sphere in 1972, getting elected for the constituent Assembly. A year later, he got elected a member of Bahrain's parliament, the National Assembly of Bahrain until two years later when the assembly was dissolved by the government.

He was also considered the leader of the opposition group, Al-Wefaq, which had a decisive role in leading the protests against the government. The group was suspended in June 2016 after a series of attacks and disputes by the king.

By acting through the years in people’s favor and their rights, Sheikh Qassim turned into a popular character among Bahrainis from Shia to Sunnis and even other religions. The popularity and activities against the ruling monarchy frightened the government and made them limit the spiritual leader of the movement. He was first banned from giving speech in Friday Sermons in Duraz. “Friday prayer can only be held as a congregational not an individual prayer and it's one of the indisputable Islamic duties,” said Sheikh Qassim in a statement.

He was then arrested for recurrent times under various justifications, each time reacted by large groups of people in various cities of Bahrain. He was then revoked from citizenship of Bahrain in 2016 for the authorities to be able to exile him. Thousands of people took to streets in protests from june 20, 2016 around his house in Duraz and started a strike there for more than two months.

http://youtu.be/IRIyKDHsLHI

The final blow by the monarchy on the spiritual leader of Bahrain uprising was stating inadmissible financial charges against him and putting him into a long process of trials. Giving the sentence was procrastinated for many times until last week after a meeting between Donald Trump and Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa gave the Bahrain rulers the confidence to give a one-year sentence, in suspension, the Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim.

The verdict was harshly reacted by people in Bahrain and other parts of the world. Multiple people were killed and thousands arrested to prove the critical role of Sheikh Isa Qassim in Bahrain and its 6-year movement. Knowing the influence and being afraid of the after-effects of exile or prosecution, the Bahraini rulers are trying to control him and gradually removing him from the political and societal area of Bahrain. The plan, however, is known and reacted by people in Bahrain putting the rulers in another self-created predicament.



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‘Iran’s democratic system is far more fair-minded to their voters than the American system’; An Exclusive Interview with Robert Carter

Thursday, May 25, 2017

From Saudi Military Intervention to Incarceration of Sheikh Isa Qassim; Bahrain Uprising Is Still Alive

Pearl Roundabout was home to massive protests in Manama in February 2011. More than 200,000 people took to streets to call for substantive administrative reforms. Saudi Arabian intervention in Bahrain uprising took place only one month after the set-off of the rise. On 14 March, and decided by Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the intervention started with 1000 (or 1200) troops with vehicles directing for Manama, the capital of Bahrain by Saudis. “wheeled, light-armored vehicles with roof-mounted heavy machine guns” rushed for the center of protests to suppress the peaceful protests and dissidents by thousands of people in the capital.

The intervention was at the request of Al-Khalifa, Bahraini ruling family, who found no way to oppress the protesting people and control the streets. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia did the mission for various reasons. Bahrain had already been Saudis’ trading partner and loss of oil fields, investment, and processing plants was not desirable for the invading country. Besides, Saudis would lose “the key conservative Sunni ally.”

Bahrain Uprising with hundreds of thousands of people in the streets

A major part of Bahrain’s population is Shia, while its rulers are Sunni. However, while the protests were started by Shia in February 2011, the Sunnis who wanted democracy and personal freedom joined the movement soon. What Saudis most feared about Bahrain’s movement was a domino effect in which the protests and potential reforms would cross the borders to other Arab countries of the region including their own monarchy. Concerned about the effect of change in Bahrain and its influence in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, then the king of Saudi Arabia, did what he could to halt the movements towards democracy in Bahrain.

Abduction, torture, and murdering more than 40 citizens during the military intervention was the heir of Saudis for Bahrain. In 2014, more than 5000 Saudi and Emirati forces and 7000 us troops were reported to be posited near Pearl Roundabout, the center of protests. The Role of western countries, especially US and UK in arming and encouraging Saudi intervention is of great significance.

The United States hosts “United States Navy Fifth Fleet in Bahrain since 1947. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are two of the main customers of American arms in the region. Besides, US and UK provide the two countries with professional military trainings. The modernization program and public order enforcement measures consecutively by US and UK has been done for long years and for sure aided Saudis in oppressing the Protests in Manama. The double standard used by western countries on democracy and human rights in different countries made the British Parliamentary member Jonathan Edwards say:

This is the shocking face of our democracy to many people in the world, as we prop up regimes of this sort… it is intensely hypocritical of our leadership in the United Kingdom.

These and other events indicates that the United States and its western allies do not find democratic movements in the Middle East in line with their aims in the region. The use of Saudi as a regional shield to hinder the public movements was a strategy to slower losing their influence in the region.

Saudi intervention helped Al-Khalifa and its forces revitalize their strength and restart arrestments and incarcerations of political and human rights activists. Prosecution and long detentions reduced the possibility of imminent reform in Bahrain. Religious influential persons in the country were either house arrested, or put to prison to hinder any possibility of the rejuvenation of the movement.

Sheikh Isa Qassim, Bahraini cleric, has recently been sentenced to prison for one year

The latest one of these was Sheikh Isa Qassim, the Shia cleric who has been given a one-year sentence to prison. This takes place after last week’s meeting between Donald Trump, the US president, and Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bahrain King in Riyadh in which the former expressed his full military and financial support for the ruling monarchy in Bahrain. The sentence was objected by some freelance writers and independent human rights organizations while others preferred to keep silent.



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It’s NOT America; Saudi Arabia Has the Greatest Army and Highest Military expenditure in the World

Saudi Arabia is ranked 4th in the list of countries by military expenditures. The list shows that the country has planned to expend $63.7 Billion in military section of it budget. The figure accounts for 10 percent of GDP in Saudi Arabia which is the highest among the first twenty countries in the list. This shows the importance of military advancement for Saudi rulers which is by no means considered as a defensive strategy.

The expenditures for the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Forces, Royal Air Defenses, and Royal Strategic Defenses as different sections of defense forces in Saudi Arabia is not to be compared with the US and China cost-wise. However, there are other facts that makes Saudi Army the biggest in the world.

Having 215 F-15 aircrafts, the Paveway IV, and special operation force  could not be enough to make the country’s military functions the widest and largest in the world. There is one another element, however, that aides Saudi Arabia on the way; cash. Saudis are one of the biggest exporters of oil in the world. The income has enabled them through the years to promote their violent purposes in the region.

The recent deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia could, or must, be assessed under former revelations about Saudi’s backing terrorist groups in the Middle East. In a document revealed by WikiLeaks in 2016, a US Department Memo proves Saudi Arabia has lent hand in creation and providing financial support for ISIS. The Memo reads:

We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region.”

The memo is written when the US has felt the danger of the progresses and advancements of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is only one of the groups made strong under the military and financial supports of Saudi rulers and donors.

ISIS forces in Syria

Another WikiLeaks document shows that Al-Qaeda has also been supported by Saudi monarchy. Sent in December 2009, the cable read, “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.” Saudi kings and princes wants their power boosted in the region by destabilizing the countries and making wars by supporting the opposition forces and directing terrorist groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Jabhat Al-Nusra.

Besides financial and military support, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are ethologically trained by Wahhabis leaders in Saudi Arabia. As Professor Bernard Haykel says, “The ISIS’ religious genealogy comes from Salafism', a theological current that is very old that is quite literalist.” Wahhabis are extremists who run against all other Muslims using violence and justifying cruelty against human being.

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends”; John Mc Cain’s words talking at the Munich Security Conference are illuminating. He was praising Prince Bandar, then the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former ambassador to the United States, for supporting forces against Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. These and numerous other documents and evidences proves that Saudis are the main leaders and runners of the terrorist groups in the region.

The $110 billion arms deal between the US and Saudi Arabia is in fact a deal between US, ISIS and Al-Qaeda considering the leading role of Saudi Arabia for these terrorist groups. The list of countries by military expenditure can be re-written considering Saudi forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-stricken countries of the region in the forms of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. 



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Clashes between Bahraini anti regime protesters and Regime force: Photo Report

Heavy clashes took place between Bahraini anti-regime protesters and the kingdom’s security forces in Diraz Village in northern Bahrain on Tuesday 23rd of May 2017.

 

{gallery}Bahraini anti regime protesters and Regime force{/gallery}



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Human violators open anti terrorism center on one end and slaughter Bahrainis on the other end within no time

Human violators open the anti-terrorism center in Saudi Arabia on May 21st and slaughter Bahraini protesters on May 23rd.

{gallery}Slaughter in Bahrain{/gallery}
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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Decision to apply chemicals in an area of Yemen during the meeting of US-Arab officials in Riyadh

According to a senior intelligence officer of Emirates, in the top-secret meetings of the US-Arab officials in Riyadh, the decision is made to use chemicals in an area of Yemen (in accordance with the military importance and the situation of the city of Hodeida) suggesting that a group which is an affiliate of Saudi Arabia along with scientific help and support of the U.S, is to publish the distorted reports of the legal organizations and international anti-war organizations in the international media by accusing the army and popular committees in Yemen of using chemicals of mass destruction and pretending that shipments from Iran have been available to the army and popular committees in Yemen.



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Hamas is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people

Qatar emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani disclosed his countries’ tense relation with Donald Trump administration and said: “Donald Trump is facing legal issues in his home.”

Sheikh Tamim stressed: “Qatar strongly condemns the allegations on supporting terrorism especially Qatar’s relentless efforts along with its allies to fight against ISIS.”

He added: “The real danger is the behavior of some governments that caused terrorism by adopting an extremist version of Islam that does not reflects its tolerance. These states did not do anything on combating terrorism except issuing statements which accuse all moderate activities.”

He said in this regard: “No one has the right to accuse us of terrorism just because the Muslim Brotherhood has been labelled a terrorist organization and to reject the key role of resistance movements by Hamas and Hezbollah, as well.”

Sheikh Tamim also asked Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to revise their stances regarding Qatar and to stop frequent charges which don’t serve in order to achieve the common interests.

About the Arab-Islamic-American summit held in Riyadh, he called countries to put their efforts seriously away from emotions and misjudgment due to the increasing risk of chaos in the region.

“At the same time, Qatar has been able to establish good relations with Iran and the United States. Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it. It is a big power in the stabilization of the region and cooperating with it guarantees regional stability,” he said at the end.



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Rand Paul explains move to force vote opposing Saudi weapons deal

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News in his U.S. Senate office on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Paul explained how he will do it and why.

There’s an arms export legislation from the 1970s and it gives the power to one senator to ask for a vote if they object to an arms sale. I think that by selling Saudi Arabia more arms, we further the arms race. We encourage more arms to be bought on both sides of the arms race. I think that there’s evidence that Saudi Arabia has been involved with terrorism. One of the leaked emails from Hillary Clinton was her saying that ‘my goodness, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding ISIS in Syria—we need to do something to get them to quit funding these radical groups. So there’s a lot of evidence. There’s even evidence going back to 9/11. Sen. Graham—Bob Graham—said that he thought that there was from the 28 pages and other evidence that there was a great deal of evidence pointing to Saudi Arabia’s government actually being involved in 9/11.

When asked to explain what he means by the “arms race” in the Middle East, Paul told Breitbart News that the various factions of Islam have been “killing each other” for a millennium and America should not help it along. Paul said:

In the Middle East, everybody is arming up. Israel has nuclear weapons, and Israel has hundreds if not thousands of ballistic missiles. Iran has ballistic missiles. Saudi Arabia has ballistic missiles. But as we give more weapons to Saudi Arabia, the reaction from both Israel and Iran is ‘well, gosh, if Saudi Arabia has more, maybe we need more?’ It ratchets up. Saudi Arabia already has weapons that they point at Tehran and Tel Aviv. They actually have Chinese missiles that you can see from satellite photos aimed at Tel Aviv and pointed at Tehran. I don’t know—I just don’t think we need to encourage it. The place is such a stinking mess over there. They’ve been killing each other for a thousand years. I just don’t think feeding their fury with more weapons is a good idea.

Paul previously used this exact tactic—forcing a Senate vote on a Saudi weapons deal—toward the end of the Obama administration to limited success. While only a quarter of the Senate backed him up, in the end the Obama administration changed part of the deal.

The senator went on to say:

We’ve done this one time previously, last fall, and I think we got about 25 votes to stop the sale. But interestingly, the publicity and the debate that developed around it—President Obama, who had sold more weapons to Saudi Arabia than all of the previous presidents combined, changed his mind after hearing the debate. So our hope is after public participation, that maybe the public will say: ‘Why are we doing that? Why are we involved in another war in Yemen?’ I think it’s enough on our plate to try to do something about ISIS than to get involved in another war in another country.

Paul did praise President Trump’s efforts to get Saudi Arabia on board with the fight to destroy ISIS and said his speech in Riyadh was great, but that the president may run into serious problems since Saudi Arabia is not likely to change their ways from previous support of such groups.

“I think it is a good idea that he’s telling and encouraging the people who live there to do something about ISIS, if Saudi Arabia would do something about it,” Paul said. “The problem is in the past Saudi Arabia has actually been supporting radical groups like ISIS. I don’t really trust them to do it. Also, in the neighboring country of Yemen, they’ve been indiscriminately bombing. I’m afraid they’ll use some of our weapons to bomb civilians. About six months ago they bombed a funeral procession, killing 124 civilians and wounding 500. I don’t want that to be done with American weapons. I think that gives us a black eye in the area and it actually may create more terrorists than it kills.”



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