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Ed Webb

UAE Peace Deal Opens Doors for Secret Israeli-Iranian Pipeline and Big Oil Investments - 0 views

  • desert oil pipeline that Israel once operated as a secret joint venture with Iran could be a major beneficiary from the Trump-brokered peace deal with the United Arab Emirates. With the UAE formally scrapping the eight-decade Arab boycott of Israel—and other oil-rich Gulf neighbors likely to follow suit—the Jewish state is on the cusp of playing a much bigger role in the region’s energy trade, petroleum politics, and Big Oil investments
  • Stepping cautiously out of the shadows, the Israeli managers of Europe Asia Pipeline Co. (EAPC) say their 158-mile conduit from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea provides both a cheaper alternative to Egypt’s Suez Canal and an option to connect to the Arab pipeline grid that transports oil and gas not just to the region, but to the seaports that supply the world
  • the pipeline, which connects Israel’s southern port of Eilat with a tanker terminal in Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast, could nip off a significant share of the oil shipments now flowing through the nearby Suez Canal.
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  • Now that the Emiratis have broken the ice, opportunities for Arab-Israeli energy deals are broad and lucrative, ranging from investment in the Israeli pipeline itself, to adapting it for carrying natural gas or connecting it to pipelines across Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East
  • Just over 60 years ago when it was built, the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline was a massive national construction project aimed at guaranteeing Israel’s and Europe’s energy supplies in the wake of the 1956 Suez crisis
  • Most of the oil flowing through the pipeline came from Iran, which had close but discreet relations with Israel for decades under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1968, the Israeli and Iranian governments registered what was then called the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co. as a 50-50 joint venture to manage the export of Iranian crude through Israeli territory and onward by tanker to Europe
  • A Swiss court ordered Israel in 2015 to pay Iran compensation of about $1.1 billion as a share of profits from the joint ownership of the pipeline since the two enemies broke off relations in 1979, but Israel has refused to pay up.
  • While the company’s main 42-inch pipeline was built to transport Iranian oil north to the Mediterranean, it now does most of its business in reverse. It can pump oil unloaded in Ashkelon from ships sent by producers such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to tankers in the Gulf of Aqaba for transport to China, South Korea, or elsewhere in Asia
  • The pipeline’s advantage over the Suez is the ability of the terminals in Ashkelon and Eilat to accommodate the giant supertankers that dominate oil shipping today, but are too big to fit through the canal. Known in oilspeak as VLCCs, or very large crude carriers, the ships can transport as much as 2 million barrels of petroleum. The 150-year-old Suez Canal, on the other hand, is only deep and wide enough to handle so-called Suezmax vessels, with just half the capacity of a VLCC
  • The company’s business has always been one of Israel’s most closely guarded secrets. Even today, EAPC releases no financial statements. Levi says he can’t disclose the names of customers—though he says they include “some of the biggest companies in the world.” What little information that is publicly known only came to light as the result of legal battles following a 2014 rupture in the pipeline that caused the worst environmental disaster in Israeli history, spilling more than 1.3 million gallons of crude oil into the Ein Evrona desert nature preserve.
  • The boycott enforced by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and their oil-producing neighbors meant that tankers acknowledging their docking in Israel would be barred from future loadings in the Persian Gulf, effectively destroying their business. The details are highly confidential—but generally the ways ships can obscure their activities include turning off their transponders, repainting, reflagging, reregistering, and faking their docking records.
  • EAPC’s business model improves dramatically with the erosion of the Arab boycott. “If the concerns [with secrecy] go down significantly, the price will drop significantly,”
  • Saudi Arabia has indicated it won’t establish formal links until the Palestinian conflict is resolved, although its business connections with Israel are plentiful and growing
  • Because of the canal’s limitations, much of the Gulf crude bound for Europe and North America gets pumped through Egypt’s Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline, in which Saudi Arabia and the UAE hold a stake. Egypt’s pipeline, however, operates in only one direction, making it less useful than its Israeli competitor, which can also handle, for example, Russian or Azerbaijani oil heading to Asia.
  • Even more possibilities arise from Israel’s discovery of a bounty of natural gas deposits off its Mediterranean coast that can supply far more than Israel’s own needs. Bringing in Gulf investors in addition to Israel’s current partners such as Chevron, and the possibility of connecting to the Middle East’s gas pipeline grid, would open yet another new horizon for Israel’s nascent energy industry.
Ed Webb

What is at stake in the eastern Mediterranean crisis? | Financial Times - 0 views

  • Competition over gas discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean has combined with bitter regional rivalries to fuel dangerous tensions between Turkey and its neighbours in recent months. Many fear this could lead to direct military confrontation between Turkey and Greece, as the two Nato members and their allies square up over control of the seas.
  • the Turkish Cypriot self-declared state is not recognised by the international community, which views the government on the Greek Cypriot side as the legitimate authority for the whole island. Cyprus was contentiously admitted to the EU in 2004
  • Turkey believes that the government that sits in southern Cyprus should not have the right to auction blocks of its surrounding seabed to international energy companies until Turkish Cypriots can share the benefits. But peace talks have failed multiple times in the past 45 years
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  • Turkey also believes its own southern coastline gives it economic rights in waters off Cyprus that Nicosia sees as part of its territory.
  • Most of the discoveries so far have been in the south-eastern portion of the region, close to Egypt, Israel and Cyprus’s southern coast. The areas where Turkey is drilling for gas do not yet have proven reserves.But work to assess and develop these prospects has largely been delayed this year because of the slump in energy prices during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The development of gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean has forged some unlikely alliances. The EastMed Gas Forum, nicknamed “the Opec of Mediterranean gas” was formally established in Cairo this year. It brings together Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Greece, Cyprus and Italy, with the aim of establishing the region as a major energy hub
  • left Turkey isolated because of its tensions with many members, including Greece and Egypt, even as the forum has helped to forge common ground between Israel and a number of its neighbours.
  • Turkey backs the UN-endorsed Libyan government in Tripoli that has been fighting renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who has received support from nations including Russia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France.
  • The second agreement demarcated a new sea boundary between Turkey and Libya, angering Greece and complicating plans for a future pipeline from Cyprus to Greece, via Crete, that could pipe gas to mainland Europe. As Turkey’s influence in Libya increased, countries such as the UAE and France have become increasingly vocal about the dispute in the east Mediterranean. Both nations dispatched forces to join recent military exercises held by Greece and Cyprus in a show of strength against Turkey.
  • Germany launched a mediation attempt between Athens and Ankara that stalled when Greece signed a new maritime deal with Egypt, angering Turkey. 
  • France is increasingly swinging towards the Greece-Cyprus position because of its own disputes with Turkey, particularly over Libya
Ed Webb

The F-35 Triangle: America, Israel, the United Arab Emirates - War on the Rocks - 0 views

  • deepen what were heretofore covert ties across the full spectrum of civilian sectors from business to science to agriculture and even space. The Emirati-Israeli agreement builds upon years of “under the table” cooperation between security and intelligence professionals driven toward strategic alignment by a shared perception of the major regional threat — Iran.
  • the U.S. sweetener appears to be a commitment to sell it F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, as well as other advanced weaponry long sought by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed
  • When Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, it secured the second largest military aid package in the Middle East after Israel, which continues today. When Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994, the announcement came along with debt relief and the sale of F-16 fighter aircraft — and, like Egypt, Jordan remains a top recipient of American assistance
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  • Reactions to Emirati acquisition of the F-35 have largely focused on whether Israel will support such a sale and the related requirement in U.S. domestic law to ensure Israel’s military superiority against all other countries in the Middle East. The longstanding policy term, later codified in law, is “qualitative military edge.” From the Emirati point of view, if they have entered into full diplomatic relations with Israel — with a promised “warm peace,” in the words of Emirati officials — and both countries share the same threat perspective, then Israel should have confidence that these advanced weapons will not be turned against it and should therefore not object to the sale. Moreover, unlike Egypt and Jordan, the United Arab Emirates has never attacked Israel.
  • Weapons sales are a leading area of competition in the Middle East, and in the words of the former Acting Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow: Arms transfers are foreign policy. When we transfer a system or a capability to a foreign partner, we are affecting regional — or foreign internal — balances of power; we are sending a signal of support; and we are establishing or sustaining relationships that may last for generations and provide benefits for an extended period of time.
  • selling the F-35 to the United Arab Emirates would say much more about the Washington’s partnership with Abu Dhabi than it would about the evolving Emirati-Israeli relationship
  • Selling the F-35 to a country ought to be a signal that the United States has the highest measure of confidence in that country’s warfighting capabilities, decision-making on the use of force, and commitments to protecting sensitive technology. The Emirati record on each of these issues does not, however, inspire the highest confidence. The record is mixed.
  • As former government officials serving in the State and Defense Departments as well as in Congress, we are confident that the process going forward will be messy and time-consuming, specifically because the current case breaks precedent in so many ways.
  • competitors in the global arms export industry — particularly Russia and China — also leverage arms sales, but by and large with no strings attached for their use. Both governments use arms sales to challenge U.S. market dominance and to undermine American partnerships in the region
  • Reflecting a long-held U.S. policy view, during his nomination hearing Washington’s envoy to Abu Dhabi noted that the country “is a moderating and stabilizing force in one of the world’s most volatile regions.” The United Arab Emirates stands out among other militaries in the region for having contributed military forces to many U.S.-led coalitions since the first Gulf War — Kosovo (late 1990s), Somalia (1992), Afghanistan (since 2003), Libya (2011) and the anti-ISIL coalition (2014 to 2015). Indeed, Jared Kushner set a new precedent for framing the American-Emirati partnership when he effectively equated it with that of America and Israel, terming them comparably “special” during his most recent visit to the Middle East.
  • Emirati regional policies have been the subject of increasing congressional concern in recent years, largely focused on the country’s actions in Yemen and Libya. Since the beginning the Saudi-led coalition’s 2015 intervention in Yemen, most congressional action focused on the Saudi role in the conflict and not the Emirati one. But in 2018, congressional concern peaked in response to Emirati plans to launch an offensive to seize the Yemeni port of Hudaydah. The Trump administration subsequently declined to provide military support for the Emirati operation, given the risks of worsening an already severe humanitarian crisis, concerns regarding the complexities of the proposed military operation, and the likelihood of mass civilian casualties
  • In both Yemen and Libya, Abu Dhabi has not succeeded in leveraging its robust military investments toward political processes that would end the conflicts. In both contexts the divergent policies of the United States and United Arab Emirates — including use of military force, conduct in combat, and utilization of U.S. defense articles — should be considered as part of the F-35 deliberations.
  • Since the Yemen war’s inception in 2015, members of Congress have raised concerns about the conflict and U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition, in which Abu Dhabi was a partner and to which it contributed forces until withdrawing in the summer of 2019. These concerns, and the Trump administration’s refusal to address them, culminated in Congress mandating a report on steps taken by both governments to reduce civilian casualties and comply with laws and agreements governing the use of U.S.-origin weapons — indicating skepticism that either country was doing so
  • protecting Israel’s military superiority consists of both legal requirements and longstanding political and process steps that, while not mandated by law, have paved the way for decades of bipartisan congressional consent to arms sales in the Middle East, including of advanced fighter aircraft. The requirement to protect Israel’s “qualitative military edge” is enshrined in 2008 naval vessel transfer legislation, although it had been implemented as a matter of policy between Washington and Jerusalem since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
  • Presumably, the United Arab Emirates and Israel entering into formal relations affirms that the former does not pose such a military threat. The Israeli perspective at the moment, however, has been complicated by the continuing murk over whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blessed the U.S. commitment to sell the Emirati government the F-35 — without the knowledge of his own defense minister. Tensions in Netanyahu’s fragile governing coalition and a larger uproar in Israel’s defense establishment have prompted an awkward pas de deux among American, Emirati, and Israeli officials. Netanyahu — responding to concerns raised by the Israeli defense establishment — stated emphatically during an Aug. 24 joint press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he had not consented to any arms deal as part of normalization. Given Netanyahu’s close relationship with Trump, it is safe to say that no one in either country finds this claim credible. The public spat over Israeli consent to Emirati acquisition of the F-35 escalated when Netanyahu publicly vowed to go to Congress in opposition to the sale, and the United Arab Emirates in response cancelled a planned meeting between the Israeli and Emirati ambassadors to the United Nations.
  • extensive discussions should be expected between Israeli and U.S. technical and military experts to agree on the appropriate mix of offsets to ensure Israel’s military superiority. The offsets may involve discussions of quantity (how many F-35s the Emiratis will acquire versus the Israelis), technical variations in the F-35 platform, or additional sales and assistance to Israel. This challenge is not insurmountable, but it will be time-consuming and extend pass the upcoming American electoral cycle
  • The standard for this level of consultation with Israel before moving forward with arms sales packages to others in the region was set by the Obama administration — first in 2011 with the sale of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, and later in 2013 with the sale of F-16 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates along with stand-off weapons to both the Saudis and the Emiratis. Concurrent with 2013 sales, the Obama administration negotiated a package for Israel to maintain its military edge that included V-22 Osprey aircraft, advanced refueling tankers, and anti-air defense missiles.
  • Though Israel has no legal right to  block the United States from selling a weapon to another country in the Middle East, Israeli support is critical, particularly during the period of congressional notification. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will consult with the Israeli government, and will prefer to support a sale that earns a clear green light from the Israeli government. Members are likely be left unsatisfied by ambiguous and lukewarm Israel responses to the question of selling the F-35 to the Emiratis, precisely because technical talks have not yet begun. All parties risk being stuck between the divisive politics of the moment, and the deliberative, lengthy policy considerations that such arms transfer packages usually entail, opening the door to a further erosion of bipartisanship on a key issue of national security importance — the what, when, and how of a decision by the United States to provide advanced weapons systems to partner states in the Middle East.
  • Arab capitals are closely following whether the United States will follow through on its apparent commitment to sell the F-35 (and assorted other high-end systems) to Abu Dhabi, and whether American deliverables are sufficiently compelling to consider bringing their own relations with Israel into the daylight
  • The historical record from Egypt to Jordan and now the United Arab Emirates — across administrations of both political parties — is that formal relations with Israel facilitate strategic consistency from Washington
  • Will Egypt and Jordan request the F-35 in light of their existing peace treaties with Israel? Will countries in closer geographic proximity, like Saudi Arabia, request the F-35 and additional advanced U.S. weapons as part of their normalization package?
  • For Israel, Iran and Turkey represent sobering examples in that regard — previously solid security partners within seemingly stable governance structures that became hostile.
  • military edge risks eroding as Arab governments, whether blocked from purchasing certain weapons from the United States or in addition to acquiring them, turn to China, Russia, and other weapons exporters not obligated to maintain Israel’s military superiority
  • Competition in the Middle East between the United States and its adversaries is intensifying — particularly in the weapons sales arena
  • Washington may find itself in an escalating — and unsustainable — cycle of supplementing and upgrading support, technology, and other military offsets to Israel.
Ed Webb

UAE to send F-16s to Crete for training with Greek military amid tensions with Turkey - 0 views

  • The United Arab Emirates is sending four F-16 fighter aircraft for joint training with the Greek military on Crete, an Athens-based daily newspaper reported Friday. The aircraft will partake in training exercise with Greece’s military over the Eastern Mediterranean amid heightened tensions with Turkey, which has deployed naval vessels to escort a hydrocarbon exploration ship to waters claimed by Greece.
  • The deployment comes as Turkey also prepared to announce its largest-ever natural gas discovery in the Black Sea, and just a week after the UAE announced its formal recognition the state of Israel in a historic deal brokered by the US.
  • renewed regional opposition to Turkey’s ambitions in the Mediterranean
Ed Webb

I Lost My Son in a Hail of Bullets at an Israeli Checkpoint | The Nation - 0 views

  • An Israeli ambulance arrived within ten minutes and treated the soldier for her light injuries. They did not treat Ahmad. The soldiers also refused access to the Palestinian ambulance that tried to reach Ahmad. 
  • My husband received a call and rushed to the scene, but the soldiers refused him the decency of holding his dying son. Israel declared Ahmad a “terrorist,” the accident a car-ramming, and concluded that the shooting was self-defense and the denial of life-saving medical treatment and familial goodbyes were justified. But there was no real investigation. 
  • No one checked the car’s black box or, apparently, read the report in Consumer Affairs detailing Hyundai accidents in South Korea and beyond since 2009. No one took note of the fact that even in times of war, incapacitated combatants are entitled to medical care. No one bothered to consider that, as much as we all hate Israel’s occupation, we love our families more, and my Ahmad would never have done this, and certainly not on his baby sister’s wedding day. Still, Israel has held his body captive, refusing us the dignity of a proper burial.
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  • In the past two years, Israeli soldiers have killed over 200 Palestinians under Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy, many for the simple act of participating in the Great March of Return, after which the Israeli authorities have attempted to smear them as terrorists. Yet, the record shows that in the vast majority of those incidents, the slain Palestinian did not even have a weapon. The United Nations Human Rights Council has found that Israeli troops lethally shoot Palestinians on “mere suspicion” or as “a precautionary measure.” And in 2018, the Israeli High Court sanctioned its shoot-to-kill policy against protesters in the Great March of Return in Gaza. Ahmad was not an aberration and, as we Palestinians know too well, he was not the first nor will he be the last to be mercilessly stolen from us.
  • We have been steadily squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces as Israeli settlements boom around us, atop our hills where settlers can watch us from above like prison guards.
  • we have already lived in a de facto annexation reality for more than 50 years
  • Our existence has impeded Israel’s vision for uninterrupted sovereignty from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. As natives, we are inconveniently in the way, and so Israel, its army, and its armed settlers take away our lives with excruciatingly painful ease
  • Republicans and some Democrats insist the US continue to unconditionally support Israel, no matter how many children they snatch away from us, how many homes they destroy, how many walls they build, how many hilltops they desecrate, and weddings they turn into funerals
  • pressure from six U.S. senators advocating on behalf of Ahmad’s paternal aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family has been impotent in influencing Israel to simply release Ahmad’s body for burial
Ed Webb

Experts blame Israel for the recent explosions. Why won't Iran? - Bulletin of the Atomi... - 0 views

  • Since late June, there have been dozens of fires and explosions at or near nuclear, military, and industrial facilities in Iran. Experts see the clear possibility of Israeli sabotage in many of these incidents and describe an attempt to disrupt Iran’s re-emerging nuclear program, but Iranian officials have refrained from pointing the finger. Is it plausible for Israel to be behind these serial explosions? And, if it is, why are the Iranians not responding? To answer these questions with any degree of accuracy, an examination of the timing and the locations of these explosions is crucial.
  • Although the explanations by Iranian officials did not quite add up, the possibility of an accident cannot be ruled out.
  • In all of these incidents, Iranian officials have tried to downplay the impact and reject possible Israeli involvement.
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  • why would Iranians downplay the extent of the events and deny Israeli involvement? There are a few plausible explanations. First is to avoid embarrassment. The explicit admission of sabotage, coupled with Iran’s inability to stop it, would make the regime and its security institutions look completely powerless, incompetent, and fragile in the eyes of the Iranian people.Second is to avoid falling into a trap. Iranians believe that these explosions represent a paradigm shift in how the US-Israeli political and security establishments deal with Iran. According to the Iranians, the United States and Israel are working very hard to provoke Iran into retaliation, either in terms of a kinetic attack or in terms of ramping up its nuclear program. The latter outcome would give them more grounds to declare Iran noncompliant with IAEA safeguards and eventually return international sanctions via the UN Security Council. Because retaliation would risk uncontrolled escalation and could result in a full-scale war with Israel and the United States—an outcome Iran wants to avoid—officials may be taking ample precaution.
  • The bottom line, given the silence of Iranians, is that it is highly likely that there will be more incidents at sensitive military and nuclear sites, and Iran seems to be unable to do anything to stop them.
Ed Webb

A New 'Quartet' for Israeli-Palestinian Peace | United States Institute of Peace - 0 views

  • On July 7, Egypt, France, Germany and Jordan joined to oppose Israel’s declared intent to annex territory that it has occupied since 1967. Vital actors, including Arab states and the European Union, have been unable to stop the march toward annexation and the attendant risks of renewed violence. Yet a partnership of key Arab and European states—the latest in a string of diplomatic “quartets” on the conflict—offers a foothold on which to build.
  • the attributes of this new quartet lend it the potential for some real impact over the issue. Critically, the group combines influence in both Europe and the Arab world, and good relations with Israel and the U.S. administration.
  • The “Middle East Quartet”—combining the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations—has been less active of late than at its inception in 2002. After years in which mediation had been largely a U.S. venture, this quartet aimed to broaden the set of diplomatic brokers, and to balance American positions through inclusion of the other parties. The quartet’s most noted effort was its endorsement of the U.S.-led “roadmap to peace” in 2003—an initiative that at first spurred some optimism, but that fell apart in the mid-2000s.
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  • The second quartet—Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—was established by the Arab League in 2007 to revive peace efforts. This “Arab Quartet” also was active at first, only to become dormant amid a range of developments. These included Arab and regional instability; Saudi-Emirati preoccupation with Iran, Yemen and other regional conflicts; Egypt’s preoccupation with the Nile River negotiations with Ethiopia and Sudan, the conflict in Libya, and a number of pressing internal challenges; and a general feeling that there is very little hope to advance a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Israelis generally accord high importance to the relationship with King Abdullah of Jordan and are enthusiastic about steps toward warmer relations with the Arab World
  • The EU has said that annexation “could not pass unchallenged.” But in considering specific actions, the bloc faces difficulties in achieving the required unanimity among its 27 member states.
  • Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab countries with peace treaties with Israel, have significant influence in the Arab quartet and on the Arab position pertaining to this conflict. Similarly, France and Germany play a central role in Europe, and on EU positions within the Middle East Quartet
Ed Webb

Israel hoping for Iran confrontation before November election: sources - Business Insider - 0 views

  • A former Israeli defense official told Insider it was common knowledge that at least some of the latest attacks in Iran were done by Israeli intelligence.
  • An EU official also told Insider that they fear Israel is planning to provoke Iran into military confrontation "while Trump remains in office."
  • Israel is involved in an extended campaign to pressure or damage Iran before President Donald Trump could be voted out in the November election, a former Israeli defense official and a current EU intelligence official have told Insider.
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  • Iran has seen weekly incidents including explosions at a missile-production facility on June 22; the Natanz nuclear facility, Iran's largest uranium-enrichment facility, on July 2; and an important shipyard in the port city of Bushehr on Wednesday.
  • Israeli officials told The New York Times in July that their intelligence services were responsible for the nuclear facility explosion, and implied that other attacks would be forthcoming.
  • I fear the Israeli plan here is to provoke an Iranian response that can turn into a military escalation while Trump remains in office
  • The attacks appear to be part of a campaign of "maximum pressure, minimal strategy," said the EU intelligence official
  • The source warned that Iran could be considering a rash response after exhibiting relative patience in the wake of the January assassination of top commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike.
  • "It's been decided to follow the Trump administration's lead of exerting 'maximum pressure' on the Iranians," they said, referencing the US' economic sanctions policy directed toward Iran.
  • With a broad belief among America's allies that Trump is unlikely to win reelection, Israel's apparent shift in tactics towards high-pressure "kinetic" operations seem to reflect a belief that under a Biden administration, there would be a move to save the 2015 nuclear deal that had been scuttled by Trump.
Ed Webb

US-China Rivalry: Gulf States Struggle to Hedge Their Bets - 0 views

  • the real litmus test of the United States’ ability to counter the People’s Republic’s growing footprint in the Middle East is likely to be in the Gulf.
  • The real Israeli test may come next year when China takes over the management of Haifa port that is often frequented by ships of the US Sixth Fleet. US officials have suggested that Chinese control of the port could impact the US Navy’s willingness to use Haifa’s facilities.
  • the US is likely to find the going tougher in persuading Gulf states to limit their engagement with China, including with Huawei, which already has significant operations in the region
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  • Describing Chinese aid as “predatory,” Mr. Schenker warned that Huawei’s participation in 5G infrastructure in the Gulf would make it difficult for American and Gulf forces to communicate. Huawei has signed agreements with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain
  • “We’re not forcing countries to choose between the United States and the PRC,” Mr. Schenker said, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “Countries can and should maintain healthy relationships with both, but we want to highlight the costs” that come with certain engagements with China.
  • The seemingly escalating US effort to box in China is hampered by the fact that no US company produces a 5G alternative. “5G is the future. To reconsider Huawei, the US has to offer an alternative. So far, it hasn’t done so,” a Gulf official who wishes to remain anonymous told Inside Arabia.
  • The same dilemma applies to the United States’ desire to reduce its commitments in the Middle East. In its global rivalry with China, the US cannot afford to create the kind of void that China and Russia would not be able or willing to fill in the short-term.
  • “The US can’t compete on 5G and China and Russia can’t compete on security. This is a situation and a set of relationships that requires careful management. The problem is that big power leaders show little inclination to find a middle ground. That leaves Gulf states grappling for ways to hedge their bets.”
Ed Webb

Palestinian students battle militarization of Hebrew University - 0 views

  • A recent video clip about the Nakba and the militarization of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, put together by a left-wing student group, has led to a furious backlash by right-wing groups and politicians who claim the clip incites to violence against soldiers. One Knesset member has called for a criminal investigation, while other actors demanded that the student chapter of the socialist Hadash party, which created and published the video, be shut down.
  • makes several claims about the militarization of Hebrew University, including that many soldiers attend the university; that Palestinian students are being removed from campus dorms; and that Israeli snipers are stationed on the roofs of university buildings in order to take shots at protesters in neighboring Issawiya
  • a controversial army intelligence training program at the university that was launched last year, which grooms undergraduates for an extended stint in the IDF’s intelligence unit, and which has seen a sharp rise in the number of uniformed, armed students attending classes on campus.
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  • According to Hamad, the university administration has not made a serious effort to consider why Arab students, as well as some Jewish students, are fearful when they see uniforms and weapons on campus. “I think they don’t understand, they see soldiers as protectors and not a threat,”
  • Yassin rejects the suggestion that showing soldiers’ faces encourages attacks against them. “There was no call to harm soldiers,” he says, adding that Hadash “fights for the good of both peoples, for the Palestinian people but also for human rights in Israel that have been trampled by a militaristic discourse.”
  • the allocation of space for soldiers’ quarters has added “hundreds of soldiers to campus” as well as additional police, and that this has created the sense that the university is involved in “the repression of the Palestinian people, especially in light of [the campus’] location next to Issawiya.”
  • A lecturer at Hebrew University who asked to remain anonymous said that the number of armed soldiers on campus has increased since the army intelligence training program began last year. They further noted that some student accommodation had been cleared for the benefit of the program. Palestinians make up a relatively high proportion of dorm residents, meaning that they have been disproportionately affected by the assigning of student housing to soldiers.
Ed Webb

Saudi sitcom breaks taboos on homosexuality and Israel | Financial Times - 0 views

  • Homosexual acts in public can be severely punished under Saudi law and to discuss the topic openly, even for a fictional character, was highly unusual. That the scene was aired in a primetime slot during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when families were gathered together after breaking their fast, was even more radical.
  • The comedy program called Exit 7, on air since April, depicts the life of a middle-class family as they navigate a realistic, modern-day Saudi Arabia experiencing rapid social change under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious reform agenda.
  • An earlier episode explored the taboo of relations with Israel after the lead character’s son befriended a boy from the Jewish state via an online video game.
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  • produced by Middle East Broadcasting Centre, or MBC, which was brought under government control after its founder was among hundreds of royals, businessmen and former officials detained in 2017 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh as part of an anti-corruption campaign
  • a Saudi-Israeli friendship blossoming on a TV show aired by a state-controlled broadcaster immediately raised speculation that the kingdom wanted to encourage Saudis to accept the normalisation of ties with Jerusalem
  • MBC has defended its decision to broach such subjects on the screen. “If the choice is between a stereotypical image of the Arab world and one where MBC shows tolerance, mutual living and meetings between religions and cultures, then so be it,” spokesman Mazen Hayek said earlier this week on the network’s Egyptian channel. “At least we would be helping to heal wounds and bring people together.”
  • The older generation remains mainly supportive of the Palestinian cause and official government statements emphasise that support. But some young Saudis, who have adopted an ultranationalist agenda, view the conflict as a distraction and argue that citizens must focus on their own country and ignore pan-Arab issues.
  • Given increased government control of the entertainment industry over the past four years, some observers said that tackling controversial topics, such as Israel and homosexuality, was now easier for broadcasters than criticising official institutions or raising the real issues that affect people’s daily lives — something that past Ramadan shows, featuring the same actors, have done to strong effect.
  • “Even though it managed to stir controversy and generate much discussion, the topics [the programme] deals with so far remain distant from the daily concerns of Saudi citizens making it seem like an alien imposition even if performed by familiar faces.”
Ed Webb

The UAE and Other Gulf States Are Upset With India Because of Islamophobia - 0 views

  • the relationships that New Delhi so carefully crafted over the past five years—drawing on the efforts of the previous government—are now at substantial risk. Domestic developments targeting its 200 million Muslims are beginning to unravel India’s diplomatic feat
  • In a rare public move, Princess Hend al-Qassimi of the UAE has been expressing her dissatisfaction with a rising Islamophobia among Indians. “I miss the peaceful India,” she tweeted on May 4. And that came after she directly highlighted a tweet from an Indian living in the UAE as “openly racist and discriminatory,” reminding her followers that the punishment for hate speech could be a fine and even expulsion.
  • Through its so-called Think West policy, India had built robust bonds with the UAE and Saudi Arabia while maintaining its long-standing relationship with Iran and elevating ties with Israel. In August 2015, Modi became the first Indian prime minister in 34 years to travel to the UAE and visited the Emirates again in 2018 and 2019. During his last visit, he received the Order of Zayed, the UAE’s highest civil decoration, in recognition of his role in improving ties between the two countries. Modi also traveled to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Iran in a calibrated outreach to the Gulf region’s powers. All these trips were reciprocated by visits of Gulf dignitaries to New Delhi during the same time period.
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  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE have become India’s fourth- and third-largest trade partners, respectively, as well as some of its largest sources of oil. Over the last five years, the two countries have also pledged a combined total of $170 billion to help India develop its infrastructure in the energy and industrial sectors. An important factor in the growing economic relations between India and the Gulf is the vast Indian diaspora in the region, with 2 million Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia and around 3 million in the UAE, who respectively send $11.2 billion and $13.8 billion in remittances back home every year.
  • While both of these Gulf states maintain their political ties with Pakistan, they prioritize investments in India. This subtle shift has had a geopolitical effect, as both Gulf states have toned down their rhetoric condemning India on its policy toward Kashmir, a region disputed between India and Pakistan. For example, the timing of the announcement of Saudi Aramco’s $15 billion investment in India in August 2019, one week after New Delhi’s controversial move to revoke Kashmir’s special status, seemed like a gesture indicating that Saudi Arabia was no longer willing to let the Kashmir issue be an obstacle to better ties with India. Similarly, the UAE also announced that it viewed India’s Kashmir decision as “an internal matter”—New Delhi’s preferred language for its dispute with Islamabad.
  • blaming Muslims for the spread of the coronavirus in India seems to be a step too far for important actors in the Gulf—and could even upend its relations with the region. One key factor is that India’s approach toward Muslims is no longer simply an internal matter if its citizens based in the Gulf also promote Islamophobic rhetoric.
  • Online hate speech from Indians based in Gulf states also led to an unprecedented statement from the Indian ambassador to the UAE warning against discrimination. Other Indian embassies also urged the Indian diaspora to remain vigilant against statements that could sow religious discord. Recognizing the need to further placate rising concerns, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s minister for external affairs, spoke to his counterparts in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia to reaffirm that India would continue to provide food supplies to Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan and would make available any medical treatment required to fight the pandemic.
Ed Webb

Cyber attack targeted Israel's water supply, internal report claims - 0 views

  • Cyber attack targeted Israel's water supply, internal report claims
  • A suspected cyber attack took place against several Water Authority facilities over the weekend, according to an internal departmental report.
  • A memo sent by Water Authority officials ordered all personnel to immediately change the passwords to the facility's systems, "with emphasis on the operational system and the chlorine control in particular."
Ed Webb

Cleared of Landmines for Easter, Jesus' Baptism Site Now C...... | News & Reporting | C... - 0 views

  • For the past nine years, HALO has cleared other sites in the West Bank, coordinating between Palestinians and Israelis. But there are still approximately 35 square miles of landmines in the West Bank
  • As demining progressed at Qasr al-Yahud, Israeli officials expressed optimism that pilgrims to the baptismal site would triple, as each church gained full access to its facilities.
  • COVID-19 is devastating the industry. Closing the borders to tourism may cost $1.7 billion
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  • This may be particularly painful to Palestinians in Bethlehem, where 70 percent of the economy is derived from tourism and 9 out of 10 industry workers are Christians.
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