Saturday, 24 June 2017

The heat ave in Phoenix, Arizona

Heat wave boosts burns in Phoenix as pavement, cars scald




22 June, 2017


The main burn center in Phoenix has seen its emergency department visits double during the heat wave that is scorching the Southwest U.S., including people burning their bare feet on the scalding pavement.

Dr. Kevin Foster, director of the Arizona Burn Center, said this June is the worst the center has seen in 18 years. Most patients arrive with contact burns from touching hot car interiors or walking outside without shoes.
Foster said one child received contact burns after crawling through a doggy door onto the hot pavement.
"Getting up to 120 really makes a difference," Foster said.
The burns are among several hazards resulting from a heat wave that has plagued Arizona, Nevada and California, including deaths, increased wildfire risks and a water shortage in one community.
The heat wave brought a high of 119 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) in Phoenix on Tuesday. Las Vegas topped out at 117, and California has been broiling in triple-digit temps.
The county that is home to Las Vegas has had at least four confirmed heat deaths since Saturday. California has seen at least two heat deaths, and officials throughout the state are investigating four others.
Two California firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries they received while battling a blaze in the San Bernardino Mountains near Los Angeles.
Arizona has yet to report any heat-related deaths, although Maricopa County, the most populated, had 130 heat deaths last year — a 15-year high.
Authorities declared a state of emergency in the Arizona community of Cordes Lake after its water supply dwindled amid increased consumption during the hot weather. Officials are asking people to reduce their use, trucking in supplies from nearby Prescott Valley and cutting off water from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Fire officials in Arizona said the extreme heat could cause more fires to pick up. Firefighters are battling at least 15 wildfires, including one that forced an evacuation and damaged at least six buildings in a town south of Tucson known for its wineries.
In Phoenix, about 10 to 15 patients are treated at the burn center's emergency department on an average day, but about 25 to 30 people have come in daily since the heat wave rolled in this week, Foster said.
The doctor said he sees patients of all ages and backgrounds, but children and the elderly are more susceptible because they may not be able to avoid or get out of trouble.
He added it is common for truck drivers passing through Phoenix to park their vehicles in the sun before running barefoot to the restroom.
"All it takes is one moment of carelessness," he said.

6 killed in 25-vehicle pileup at New Mexico-Arizona line

" cl
LORDSBURG, N.M. -- Authorities in New Mexico say six people are dead after a 25-vehicle pileup on I-10 was caused by sudden blowing dust in New Mexico near the Arizona state line. 







Temperature records in the Netherlands

ANOTHER HEAT RECORD BROKEN: HOTTEST JUNE 22 IN NETHERLANDS EVER

The_sun1

22 June, 2017

At 11:20 a.m. thermometers in Arcen, Limburg read 32.2 degrees Celsius, thereby making today the hottest June 22nd ever measured in the Netherlands. This is the 9th heat record broken in the country so far this year and the third one this month, according to Weeronline.

February 15th, March 30th and 31st, May 27th and 29th and June 15th and 21st also broke heat records.

Today is exceptionally hot in the Netherlands, especially in the southeast with maximums ranging between 33 and 35 degrees. Some places may even hit 36 degrees Celsius.


Friday is also expected to be summery, with cooler weather following over the weekend. Friday will be cloudy with some rain and maximum temperatures ranging from 20 degrees on the Wadden to 27 degrees in the southeast. Saturday and Sunday will also be cloudy, with more chance of rain, and afternoon temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees, according to the weather service. 

Damage to whear crop in France

"Mounting concerns about the impact on crops of a heatwave in France, the European Union’s biggest wheat grower and exporter, sent Euronext wheat futures rocketing to near one-year highs on Tuesday."

The rich get to eat and the poor starve when crop failures happen

Heatwave damages French wheat crops, rain helps in northern Europe


22 June, 2017

A heatwave hitting France and southern Europe will damage this year’s wheat crops, mainly in top EU producer France and in Spain, while rainfall benefited crops in Germany, Poland and Britain where they are expected to be higher, analysts said.

Mounting concerns about the impact on crops of a heatwave in France, the European Union’s biggest wheat grower and exporter, sent Euronext wheat futures rocketing to near one-year highs on Tuesday.

It’s clear that the very hot temperatures are degrading crop potential in Europe but it is too early to say by how much,” the head of French consultancy Agritel Michel Portier said.

Analysts have lowered grain crop estimates in recent weeks, with Strategie Grains cutting its EU soft wheat crop estimate by 1.1 million tonnes last week to 141.6 million.

Agritel lowered its French soft wheat crop forecast to 36-37 million tonnes from 37.1 million seen last week, because of scalding damage, Portier said, adding that the forecast would need to be fine-tuned, depending partly on next week’s weather.

Forecaster Meteo France currently sees temperatures falling back to average levels from the end of this week.

France last year harvested its lowest crop in decades at 28 million tonnes after poor spring weather, tumbling from a record 41 million in 2015.

In Spain, this year’s extreme weather – from the frosts over the winter to recent record high temperatures – will mean a soft wheat crop of 3.7 million tonnes, down from 7.2 million last year, farmers association Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias said.

NORTHERN EUROPE BETTER OFF

In the EU’s second largest producer Germany, wheat is developing well after a rainy June helped crop development after an unusually dry start to the spring.

Overall the picture is satisfactory and Germany is on course for a good, average crop this summer as we have not had the weather extremes seen in other parts of Europe,” one German grains analyst said.

The next 2-3 weeks will be critical for yields and a mix of sunshine and rain is needed.”

Germany’s 2017 wheat crop will increase 3 percent on the year to 25.20 million tonnes, the country’s cooperatives association estimated on June 14. This was up from 24.98 million tonnes the association had estimated in May.

In the fourth largest producer Poland, crops also benefited from recent rain, said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska, which estimates the country will harvest 11.3 million tonnes in 2017, up 1 percent on the year.
Britain’s wheat crop appears in good condition with scope for a modest increase in production this year.

Trade estimates for this year’s UK wheat crop range from around 14.5 million to 15.0 million tonnes, up slightly from last season’s 14.38 million.
Over the last two or three weeks, estimates have gradually begun to creep upwards,” analyst Jack Watts of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board



The US and Russia Could Move Beyond a Proxy War

Russia fires cruise missiles at Daesh in Syria, doesn’t inform US

This picture, taken on October 18, 2016, shows the Russian warship BSF Nikolay Flichenkov 152 on its way to the eastern Mediterranean port of Tartus in Syria. (Via AFP)


23 June, 2017

The missiles were fired from two Russian warships and a submarine at targets inside the western Syrian province of Hama on Friday, it said.
As a result of the surprise mass missile strike, command points were destroyed and also large stores of weapons and ammunition of the IS (Daesh) terrorists in the area of Aqirbat in the Hama Province,” the ministry said.
It added that Russian planes then carried out aerial strikes that “destroyed the remainder of the IS fighters and their facilities.”
Russia has also been conducting an aerial bombardment campaign against terrorist positions in Syria on a request by Damascus.
Russia has been conducting cruise missile strikes and aerial attacks against terrorist positions in Syria on a request from the Syrian government.

Russia ‘nearly 100 percent certain Baghdadi has been killed’

Meanwhile on Friday, Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defense committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, said Russia was almost 100 percent sure that the leader of Daesh, Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed in an airstrike carried out by the Russian Air Force in Syria last month.
I think this information is close to 100 percent [in certainty],” Interfax quoted Ozerov as saying. “The fact that Islamic State [Daesh] has still not shown him anywhere also adds to our confidence that al-Baghdadi has been killed.”
On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said it was “highly likely” that Baghdadi, had been killed. Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told Sputnik news agency that the information about Baghdadi’s likely death was now being verified through “various channels.”
The Friday statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that Turkish and Israeli militaries “were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through communication channels” but made no mention of the United States.
Russia has suspended communications with the US, which used to be carried out via a hotline set up to prevent accidental military confrontations over Syrian airspace. The US is present in Syria as part of a coalition that purports to be fighting Daesh but that has not received permission from Damascu
The suspension of the military contact came after a US warplane hit a Syrian Su-22 aircraft with a missile last Sunday. The US claimed that it had targeted the plane “in collective self-defense of coalition-partnered forces” in the city of Taqba in northern Syria.
Moscow says Washington had failed to inform it about the hit. A day later, the Russian Ministry threatened to treat aircraft with the coalition “as air targets” if they flew in areas west of the Euphrates River.
The Pentagon responded by saying it would “defend” itself and “our partners if threatened.”

Russian Navy Attacked ISIS



Vesti News

Today, the Russian Navy attacked the facilities of the forbidden in Russia ISIS terrorists. The missiles were fired at their positions in the Hama Governorate. Command posts and weapon depots were targeted. Our special correspondent Irina Kuksenkova saw the development of the operation.


The US and Russia Could Move Beyond a Proxy War




The US and Russia Could Move Beyond a Proxy War in Syria. Tensions are at an all time record level with the US downing of a Syrian bomber that was targeting ISIS near Raqqa. Since Russia has spent more time bombing ISIS that the US has allowed to escape towards Deir Ez Zor Syria. But isn't this what the US wants an excuse not so much to engage Russia but rather to take Assad and Iran?

Links:


https://www.rt.com/news/393667-russia...
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.p...
http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/20/us-...
https://riafan.ru/830851-siriya-i-ros...
http://alex54sar.livejournal.com/2458.



The latest escalation in Syria – what is really going on? (UPDATED)


The Saker

Saker drawing from community


23 June, 2017



By now most of you have heard the latest bad news of out Syria: on June 18th a US F/A-18E Super Hornet (1999) used a AIM-120 AMRAAM (1991) to shoot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 (1970). Two days later, June 20th, a US F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an Iranian IRGC Shahed 129 drone. The excuse used each time was that there was a threat to US and US supported forces. The reality is, of course, that the US are simply trying to stop the advance of the Syrian army. 

This was thus a typical American “show of force”. Except that, of course, shooting a 47 year old Soviet era Su-22 fighter-bomber is hardly an impressive feat. Neither is shooting a unmanned drone. There is a pattern here, however, and that pattern is that all US actions so far have been solely for show: the basically failed bombing of the Syria military airbase, the bombing of the Syrian army column, the shooting down of the Syrian fighter-bomber and of the Iranian drone – all these actions have no real military value. They do, however, have a provocative value as each time all the eyes turn to Russia to see if the Russians will respond or not.
Russia did respond this time again, but in a very ambiguous and misunderstood manner. The Russians announced, amongst other measure that from now on “any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets” which I reported as “Russian MoD declares it will shoot down any aircraft flying west of the Euphrates river”. While I gave the exact Russian quote, I did not explain why I paraphrased the Russian words the way I did. Now is a good time to explain this.
«В районах выполнения боевых задач российской авиацией в небе Сирии любые воздушные объекты, включая самолёты и беспилотные аппараты международной коалиции, обнаруженные западнее реки Евфрат, будут приниматься на сопровождение российскими наземными и воздушными средствами противовоздушной обороны в качестве воздушных целей»

A literal translation would be:
In areas of the combat missions of Russian aviation in the skies of Syria any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle of the international coalition discovered to the West of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian ground based an airborne assets as air targets”

So what does this exactly mean in technical-military terms?
A quick look inside a US fighter’s cockpit
When an F/A-18 flies over Syria the on-board emission detectors (called radar warning receivers or RWR) inform the pilot of the kind of radar signals the aircraft is detecting. Over Syria that means that the pilot would see a lot of search radars looking in all directions trying to get a complete picture of what is happening in the Syrian skies. The US pilot will be informed that a certain number of Syrian S-300 and Russian S-400 batteries are scanning the skies and most probably see him. 
So far so good. If there are deconfliction zones or any type of bilateral agreements to warn each other about planned sorties then that kind of radar emissions are no big deal. Likewise US radars (ground, sea or air based) are also scanning the skies and “seeing” the Russian Aerospace Forces’ aircraft on their radars and the Russians know that. In this situation neither side is treating anybody as “air targets”. When a decision is made to treat an object as an “air target” a completely different type of radar signal is used and a much narrower energy beam is directed at the target which can now be tracked and engaged. 

The pilot is, of course, immediately informed of this. At this point the pilot is in a very uncomfortable position: he knows that he is being tracked, but he has no way of knowing if a missile has already been launched against him or not. Depending on a number of factors, an AWACS might be able to detect a missile launch, but this might not be enough and it might also be too late.
The kind of missiles fired by S-300/S-400 batteries are extremely fast, over 4’000mph (four thousand miles per hour) which means that a missile launched as far away as 120 miles will reach you in 2 minutes or that a missile launched 30 miles away will reach you in 30 seconds. And just to make things worse, the S-300 can use a special radar mode called “track via missile” where the radar emits a pulse towards the target whose reflection is then received not by the ground based radar, but by the rapidly approaching missile itself, which then sends its reading back to the ground radar which then sends guidance corrections back to the missile. Why is that bad for the aircraft? Because there is no way to tell from the emissions whether a missile has been launched and is already approaching at over 4’000mph or not. The S-300 and S-400 also have other modes, including the Seeker Aided Ground Guidance (SAGG) where the missile also computes a guidance solution (not just the ground radar) and then the two are compared and a Home On Jam (HOJ) mode when the jammed missile then homes directly on the source of the jamming (such as an onboard jamming pod). Furthermore, there are other radar modes available such as the Ground Aided Inertial (GAI) which guides the missile in the immediate proximity of the target where the missile switches on its own radar just before hitting the target. Finally, there is some pretty good evidence that the Russians have perfected a complex datalink system which allows them to fuse into one all the signals they acquire from their missiles, airborne aircraft (fighter, interceptor or AWACS) and ground radars and that means that, in theory, if a US aircraft is outside the flight envelope (reach) of the ground based missiles the signals acquired by the ground base radars could be used to fire an air-to-air missile at the US aircraft (we know that their MiG-31s are capable of such engagements, so I don’t see why their much more recent Su-30/Su-35 could not). This would serve to further complicate the situational awareness of the pilot as a missile could be coming from literally any direction. At this point the only logical reaction would be for the US pilot to inform his commanders and get out, fast. Sure, in theory, he could simply continue his mission, but that would be very hard, especially if he suspects that the Syrians might have other, mobile, air defense on the way to, or near, his intended target.
Just try to imagine this: you are flying, in total illegality, over hostile territory and preparing to strike a target when suddenly your radar warning receiver goes off and tells you “you got 30 seconds or (much?) less to decide whether there is a 300lbs (150kg) warhead coming at you at 4000mph (6400kmh) or not”. How would you feel if it was you sitting in that cockpit? Would you still be thinking about executing your planned attack?
The normal US strategy is to achieve what is called “air superiority/supremacy” by completely suppressing enemy air defenses and taking control of the skies. If I am not mistaken, the last time the US fighters operated in a meaningfully contested air space was in Vietnam…
By the way, these technologies are not uniquely Russian, they are well known in the West, for example the US Patriot SAM also uses TVM, but the Russians have very nicely integrated them into one formidable air defense system.
The bottom line is this: once the US aircraft is “treated like a target” he has no way of knowing if the Syrians, or the Russians, are just being cheeky or whether has has seconds left to live. Put differently, “treating like a target” is tantamount to somebody putting a gun to your head and letting you guess if/when he will pull the trigger.
So yes, the Russian statement most definitely was a “threat to shoot down”!
Next, a look into the Russian side of the equation
To understand why the Russians used the words “threat like an air target” rather than “will shoot down” you need to remember that Russia is still the weaker party here. There is nothing worse than not delivering on a threat. If the Russians had said “we will shoot down” and then had not done so, they would have made an empty threat. Instead, they said “will treat as an air target” because that leaves them an “out” should they decided not to pull the trigger. However, for the US Navy or Air Force pilot, these considerations are all irrelevant once his detectors report to him that he is being “painted” with the beam of an engagement radar!
So what the Russians did is to greatly unnerve the US crews without actually having to shoot down anybody. It is not a coincidence that the Americans almost immediately stop flying West of the Euphrates river while the Australians officially decided to bow out from any further air sorties.
It cannot be overemphasized that the very last thing Russia needs is to shoot down a US aircraft over Syria which is exactly what some elements of the Pentagon seem to want. Not only is Russia the weaker side in this conflict, but the Russians also understand the wider political consequences of what would happen if they took the dramatic step to shoot down a US aircraft: a dream come true for the Neocons and a disaster for everybody else.
A quick look from the US Neoconistan and the quest for a “tepid war”
The dynamic in Syria is not fundamentally different from the dynamic in the Ukraine: the Neocons know that they have failed to achieve their primary objective: to control the entire country. They also know that their various related financial schemes have collapsed. Finally, they are fully aware that they owe this defeat to Russia and, especially, to Vladimir Putin. So they fell back on plan B. Plan B is almost as good as Plan A (full control) because Plan B has much wider consequences. Plan B is also very simple: trigger a major crisis with Russia but stay short from a full-scale war. Ideally, Plan B should revolve around a “firm” “reaction” to the Russian “aggression” and a “defense” of the US “allies” in the region. In practical terms this simply means: get the Russians to openly send forces into Novorussia or get the Russians to take military actions against the US or its allies in Syria. Once you get this you can easily see that the latest us attacks in Syria have a minor local purpose – to scare or slow down the Syrians- and a major global purpose – to bait the Russians into using forces against the US or an ally. It bears repeating here that what the Neocons really want is what I call a “tepid” war with Russia: an escalation of tensions to levels even not seen in the Cold War, but not a full-scale “hot” WWIII either. A tepid war would finally re-grant NATO at least some kind of purpose (to protect “our European friends and allies” from the “Russian threat”): the already terminally spineless EU politicians would all be brought into an even more advanced state of subservience, the military budgets would go even higher and Trump would be able to say that he made “America” “great” again. And, who knows, maybe the Russian people would *finally* rise against Putin, you never know! (They wouldn’t – but the Neocons have never been deterred from their goofy theories by such minor and altogether irrelevant things as facts or logic).
[Sidebar: I noticed this time again that each time the US tries to bait Russia into some kind of harsh reaction and Russia declines to take the bait, this triggers in immediate surge into the number of comments which vehemently complain that Russia is acting like a pussy, that Putin is a fake, that he is “in cahoots” with the US and/or Israel and that the Russians are weak or that they have “sold out”. I am getting a sense that we are dealing with paid US PSYOP operatives whose mission is to use the social media to try to put the Kremlin under pressure with these endless accusations of weakness and selling-out. Since I have no interest in rewarding these folks in any way, I mostly send their recriminations where they belong: to the trash]
Does the Russian strategy work?
To reply to this, don’t look at what the Russians do or do not do in the immediate aftermath of a US provocation. Take a higher level look and just see what happens in the mid to long term. Just like in a game of chess, taking the Gambit is not always the correct strategy.
I submit that to evaluate whether Putin’s policies are effective or not, to see whether he has “sold out” or “caved in” you need to, for example, look at the situation in Syria (or the Ukraine, for that matter) as it was 2 years ago and then compare with what it is today. Or, alternatively, look at the situation as it is today and come back to re-visit it in 6 months.
One huge difference between the western culture and the way the Russians (or the Chinese for that matter) look at geostrategy is that westerners always look at everything in the short term and tactical level. This is basically the single main reason why both Napoleon and Hitler lost their wars against Russia: an almost exclusive focus on the short term and tactical. In contrast, the Russians are the undisputed masters of operational art (in a purely military sense) and, just like the Chinese, they tend to always keep their eyes on the long-term horizon. Just look at the Turkish downing of a Russian Su-24: everybody bemoaned the lack of “forceful” reaction from Moscow. And then, six months later – what do we have? Exactly.
The modern western culture is centered on various forms of instant gratification, and that is also true for geopolitics. If the other guy does something, western leaders always deliver a “firm” response. They like to “send messages” and they firmly believe that doing something, no matter how symbolic, is better than even the *appearance* of doing nothing. As for the appearance of doing nothing, it is universally interpreted as a sign of weakness. Russians don’t think that way. They don’t care about instant gratification, they care only about one thing: victory. And if that means to look weak, that is fine. From a Russian perspective, sending “messages” or taking symbolic actions (like all 4 of the recent US attacks in Syria) are not signs of strength, but signs of weakness. Generally, the Russians don’t like to use force which they consider inherently dangerous. But when they do, they never threaten or warn, they take immediate and pragmatic (non-symbolic) action which gets them closer to a specific goal.
Conclusion
The Russian reaction to the latest US attack on Syria was not designed to maximize the approval of the many Internet armchair strategists. It was designed to maximize the discomfort of the US lead “coalition” in Syria while minimizing the risks for Russia. It is precisely by using an ambiguous language which civilians would interpret in one way, and military personnel in another, that the Russians introduced a very disruptive element of unpredictability into the planning of US air operations in Syria.
The Russians are not without they own faults and bad habits and they make mistakes (recognizing the Ukronazi junta in Kiev after the coup was probably such a mistake), but it is important to differentiate between their real weaknesses and mistakes and their very carefully designed strategies. Just because they don’t act in the way their putative “supporters” in the West would does not mean that they have “caved in”, “blinked first” or any other such nonsense. The first step towards understanding how the Russians function is to stop expecting that they would act just like Americans would.
The Saker
PS: by the way, the Syrian pilot shot down made it out alive.  Here is a photo of him following his rescue by Syrian special forces:
UPDATE: I am getting several messages telling me that the pilot has not been rescued by government forces but that he is being held prisoner by the “Syrian Democratic Forces“.  Caveat emptor, as always.



CrossTalk on Syria: Rushing to War?

The Duran’s editor in chief discusses what’s next in Syria




Rushing to war?

The Duran’s Alexander Mercouris joined Peter Lavelle on RT’s CrossTalk to discuss America’s creeping role as an illegal occupier of Syria.

The implications of the wider region, including America’s anti-Iranian policies were discussed in depth



The EU threatens Eastern Europe over immigrants

EU Threatens Poland, Hungary & Czech Republic | Open Borders | Migrant Crisis





The EU are threatening legal action against Poland, Hungary & the Czech Republic for their refusal to open their borders and take "refugees". This is thuggish strong-arming and Eastern European nations aren't taking any of it. 
Original Polish Girl speech video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKN0K...

Guy McPherson is an optimist

Guy McPherson with Edge of Extinction: Am I an Optimist?



Extreme weather - 20-22 June, 2017

Climate & Extreme Weather News #37 (June 20th-June 22nd 2017)



Arab states give Qatar an ultimatum

Al Jazeera: Call for closure siege against journalism


A demand by Saudi Arabia and its allies to shut down the Al Jazeera Media Network has been rejected by the broadcaster and condemned by international media groups.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports.

Arab states issue list of demands to end Qatar crisis



Al-Jazeera


Attack on sovereignty & independent foreign policy’: Qatar slams Gulf ultimatum as ‘unrealistic’


‘Attack on sovereignty & independent foreign policy’: Qatar slams Gulf ultimatum as ‘unrealistic’

RT,
23 June, 2017

Qatar says the list of 13 demands put forward by the Gulf nations and Egypt as a precondition for the resumption of diplomatic ties and much needed economic relief is neither “reasonable” nor “realistic”, and infringes on the country’s sovereignty and foreign policy.

This list of demands confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning – the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy,” Sheikh Saif Al Thani, director of Qatar’s government communications office, said in an email statement to Bloomberg.

The Sheikh stressed that the list is currently under review, but only“out of respect for our brothers in Kuwait,” whose emissary delivered the Saudi-led demands Friday. Al Thani noted that the demands do not meet the US and UK criteria for “reasonable and realistic measures.”

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry says it will soon issue an official response.
The State of Qatar is currently studying this paper, the demands contained therein and the foundations on which they were based, in order to prepare an appropriate response,” the ministry said, according to Channel News Asia. 

On Friday Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – which accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism – issued a list of 13 stringent demands, which among other things, require Doha to cut ties with Iran, shut down its Al Jazeera news outlet and close the military base which houses Turkish troops in the country.

We in the network believe that any call for closing down Al Jazeera is nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region and to suppress people's right to information,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.

By accepting those demands and conditions Qatar will be subject to international accountability and violating its commitments regarding human rights conventions,” Qatar's National Human Rights Committee said in a statement cited by Reuters.


Doha has been given ten days to comply with the ultimatum, otherwise, the Saudi-led nations will continue their diplomatic isolation and economic blockade of the country which began on June 5.

UAE’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs urged Qatar to meet the demands. “It would be wiser that [Qatar] deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbors or a divorce will take place,” Anwar Gargash said on Twitter in Arabic, adding, that “the crisis is profound.”

Meanwhile, Washington which previously questioned the motives of the diplomatic fall out said it is up to the parties involved to solve the stalemate.

We believe it is a family issue” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday. “This is something they want to, and should, work out for themselves.”

Amid the flurry of diplomatic activity, the United Nations has offered its assistance in mediating the conflict.

We hope that the countries involved resolve the situation through dialogue,”said UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko, as quoted by the Inquirer. “We are ready to assist if requested by the parties.”

As the crisis continues to unfold, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to discuss the matter. 

The crisis was triggered in early June following a report on the state run Qatar News Agency (QNA) website and social media accounts, in which the country’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, criticizes Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iranian rhetoric among other controversial statements. QNA immediately retracted what it termed “fake news,” and following an investigation, said the channel had been hacked by “neighboring” states which then used the QNA report as a pretext to impose the economic blockade.



The Saudi-Qatar Spat - An Offer To Be Refused

23 June, 2017


Today the Saudi ruler issued an ultimatum to Qatar that was written to be rejected. Such has happened before and one should not forget the lessons to be learned from it.

After the crown prince of the Austia-Hungary monarchy Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was shot and killed in Sarajevo the government of Austria waited three weeks to issue a 10 point ultimatum to Serbia which it held responsible for the incident. At least three of those points concerned the suppression of "propaganda against Austria-Hungary" and the Austrian Monarchy by private and state entities. It demanded a response within two days:
Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, commented that he had "never before seen one State address to another independent State a document of so formidable a character."
The Austrian ultimatum was an offer to be refused. But Serbia did not fall into that trap. It conceded on everything but two minor points. This was to no avail. The issues and plans Austria had were not about the assassination of [the disliked] Franz Ferdinand or the demands issued in the ultimatum. Two days later Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia. Allies jumped to either side. World War I had started.


The now official demands by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and some minor Gulf sheikdoms against Qatar have a similar smell to them. They are also "an offer to be refused."
The demands come late, three weeks after Saudi Arabia first accused Qatar of "supporting terrorism", three weeks after it closed the border and laid siege on the country.

(Qatar is surly "supporting terrorism". So is the U.S. - the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services just rejected an asylum request because the person in question has relations with the Free Syrian Army which the C&I-Service considers to be an "undesignated terrorist organization". The CIA built and supports the FSA. According to the U.S. government the U.S. government is a state sponsor of terrorism. But the biggest terrorist sponsor of all are and have been the Saudis.)
Spats between member of the Gulf Cooperation Council are usually mediated by the U.S. government. But without any official demands issued against Qatar there was nothing to mediate about. Three day ago U.S. Department of State finally issued a rather angry statementtowards Saudi Arabia:
"We are mystified that the Gulf states have not released to the public, nor to the Qataris, the details about the claims that they are making toward Qatar," explained State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Tuesday.
...
"At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns about Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the GCC countries?" Nauert asked.
The real issue for Saudi Arabia is the support for the Muslim Brotherhood by Qatar. The MB provides an alternative model of Islamic government to the hereditary kingdoms of the Gulf sheiks. They are a danger to the Saudi ruling family. A second point are Qatar's relative good relations with Iran, the external enemy the Saudis (and Israeli) rulers need to keep their people in line.
The "terrorism" accusation was never the real issue. What the Saudis demand is subjugation. A summary of the thirteen points:
In effect, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are asking Qatar to hand over control of its foreign policy to them. It will not be allowed to have diplomatic relations with Iran and its contact with Iran will be limited to trade and commerce that “complies with US and international sanctions”. Qatar will not be allowed contact with political opposition figures in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — even though other countries (including western countries) do so routinely. In addition, Qatar is being asked to hand over all its files on those opposition groups.
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Qatar is also being asked to “end interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs” while allowing Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc, apparently unlimited interference in Qatar’s own affairs. Qatar, according to the list of demands, must “align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically”.
Then there’s the closure of Qatar’s TV station, al-Jazeera. Obviously, the Saudis, Emiratis, etc, don’t like it. ... Qatar is also told to stop funding several other news organisations, including Middle East Eye and al-Arabi al-Jadeed (also available in English as The New Arab).
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Finally, Qatar is being asked to sign blank cheque covering “reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years”.
The Saudi ultimatum ends on July 3, the anniversary of the Saudi sponsored military coup against the Qatar backed Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. 
One demand in the ultimatum is for Qatar to end all support for the Brotherhood. The ultimatum will likely be rejected. Qatar will simply not respond until the Saudis and others lift their blockade of the country.

If the Saudis want war they should launch it right away, the Qatari ruler thinks. Doha is sure that the U.S. will not allow that. Ten-thousand U.S. troops are stationed in Qatar. It hosts a major air base and the important Central Command, which leads the war against ISIS and Syria. Qatar just bought U.S. fighter jets for $12 billion and is offering to take a 10% share of American Airlines.

Turkish troops have arrived to protect the sheikdom. One unexpected Saudi demand is that all Turkish troops leave Qatar. The Erdogan government, a Muslim Brotherhood branch, responded with a snippy "Make me do so."
Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Işık rejected the demand, saying any call for the base to be shut would represent interference in Ankara’s relations with Doha. He suggested instead that Turkey might bolster its presence.
There is no "or else" in the Saudi ultimatum. The Saudi ruler, the clown prince Mohammad bin Salman, is not a strategist. He likely has not thought through what he could do should Qatar says "no" to him.

The Trump administration is considering a Camp David-style summit to solve the conflict:
The president now wants to bring all the key players to Washington,” he said. “They need to disavow groups like the [Muslim] Brotherhood for the stability of the Middle East at large. It’s not just about Qatari elements funding the Brotherhood but disavowing support for extremism in general,” [a senior White House official] said.
The real issue for the Trump administration is to unite the GCC behind its plans against Iran. There is only a small chance that such can be achieved. Iran is an important commercial partner for Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman. Those countries have nothing to win from any war with it.

So far Iran is the sole winner of the GCC spat. Should the Saudi blockade of Qatar continue Iran's farmers will sell over 400,000 tons of food per year to Qatar. Steel and concrete are other potential exports products for Iran. Lucrative air traffic in Iranian air space has increased by 17% since the Saudis blocked Qatar Airlines flights through their airspace. Iran will sell more natural gas should Qatar's gas exports be damaged.

As longer this goes on as better for Iran and its allies. The Saudis and Emiratis surely did not think of this when they launched their belligerent plans. The had hoped that Qatar would fold within a day or two. One or two years is now the more likely time frame.