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Ed Webb

Middle East Policy Council | Netanyahu's Divided Cabinet - 1 views

  • Earlier this month, Defense Minister Ehud Barak appeared to have shifted from being a supporter of Netanyahu on a decision to strike Iran to being a skeptic. If so, that would leave Netanyahu with only two reliable supporters in the inner Cabinet: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. The four members of the inner cabinet who have been widely identified as opposed to a strike at this time are: Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Minister without portfolio Benny Begin, Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor, and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is head of the Shas political party
Ed Webb

Who was behind the Balfour Declaration? - 0 views

    • Ed Webb
       
      Benjamin Disraeli was Prime Minister (and therefore a cabinet minister) in the second half of the 19th century, so Samuel was not the first.
  • His niece, Blanche Dugdale, who worked in the London office of the Jewish Agency with Chaim Weizmann, indicated that Balfour was a Christian Zionist in her autobiography: “Balfour’s interest in the Jews and their history was lifelong, originating in the Old Testament training of his mother, and his Scottish upbringing.”
  • others argue that Balfour was an anti-Semite and that his interests in the Zionist project were merely for British strategic gains
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  • In his autobiography, Lloyd George reportedly wrote that the Balfour Declaration was offered to Weizmann, who became a British citizen, as a reward for his contribution to the war effort
  • "Should Palestine fall within the British sphere of influence, and should Britain encourage a Jewish settlement there, as a British dependency, we could have in 20 to 30 years a million Jews out there - perhaps more; they would develop the country, bring back civilization to it and form a very effective guard for the Suez Canal."
  • In his memoirs, Lloyd George listed a multitude of reasons as to why he supported Zionism, including a desire to attract Jewish financial resources, Christian Zionist beliefs, the Jewish lobby in Britain, and sympathy with Jews facing anti-semitism.
  • Prior to serving as prime minister, Lloyd George worked closely with Theodore Herzl, the “father of political Zionism,” on the Uganda scheme - a plan to resettle the Jews in Uganda under British auspices.
  • Samuel presented a memorandum titled The Future of Palestine, to the British Cabinet, proposing a Jewish commonwealth, but then Prime Minister HH Asquith did not find his proposal enticing. “He thinks we might plant in this not very promising territory about three or four million European Jews” as a solution to anti-Semitism, Asquith wrote. In a revised memorandum, Samuel said the British government should enable Jewish immigration “so that in the course of time the Jewish inhabitants, grown into a majority and settled in the land, may be conceded such degree of self government”, which he said “would win for England the gratitude of the Jews throughout the world”.
  • , Mark Sykes’ involvement in the Balfour Declaration is often overlooked.
  • Sykes served as a key channel between Chaim Weizmann and his fellow Zionist activists, and the British government
  • convinced that a Jewish settlement in Palestine would ensure British imperial interests and minimise French influence there
  • treaty
    • Ed Webb
       
      Agreement, not a formal treaty.
  • the Cambon Letter. The letter, addressed from Jules Cambon, the secretary-general of the French foreign ministry, to Sokolow, expressed the French government’s sympathy towards “Jewish colonization in Palestine”.
  • said to be the first Jewish Cabinet minister in England in 1909
Ed Webb

Syria: Has it won? | The Economist - 0 views

  • Under its surprisingly durable leader, Syria has stubbornly nudged its way back into the heart of regional diplomacy. It can no longer be ignored
  • Mr Assad is increasingly viewed as an essential part of the region’s diplomatic jigsaw. He is fast coming back into the game. Even America would like to embrace him.
  • A flurry of foreign dignitaries has recently courted Mr Assad, including the Saudi king, the French and Croatian presidents, the prime ministers of Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Spain, and a stream of ministers and MPs, plus a string of prominent Americans. Mr Jumblatt himself is expected in Damascus soon, as is another Lebanese leader with a personal animus, Saad Hariri, now filling his slain father’s shoes as Lebanon’s prime minister.
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  • Mr Assad’s regime has not only endured but thrived, along with Syria’s economy. Its GDP, its foreign trade and the value of loans to its private sector have all nearly doubled in the past four years, as reforms have tapped suppressed entrepreneurial vigour. For decades Damascus looked as dour as Bucharest under communist rule. Now it pulses with life. New cars throng its streets. Fancy boutique hotels, bars and fully booked restaurants pack its rapidly gentrifying older quarters, while middle-class suburbs, replete with shopping malls and fast-food outlets, spread into the surrounding hills. The revenue of Damascus’s swankiest hotel, the Four Seasons, is said to have doubled between 2006 and 2008. Bank Audi Syria, one of several Lebanese banks prospering there, made a profit within six months of launching in 2005. It now boasts $1.6 billion in deposits, and recently led Syria’s first-ever private syndication to finance a cement plant, a joint venture between France’s Lafarge and local businessmen costing $680m. In March Syria relaunched its stock exchange, moribund since the 1960s and still tiny. But with new rules allowing foreign ownership of equity, investors are showing keen interest.
  • Syria is a natural transit hub for the region’s energy exports. In October it signed a series of agreements with Turkey. A decade ago the Turks had threatened to invade; now they can drive across the border without visas. Last month the EU also abruptly signalled its eagerness to sign a long-delayed association agreement, leaving the Syrians to ponder whether it needs revision in light of their stronger bargaining hand.
  • The reforms so far have been the easier ones. Pervasive corruption and creaky infrastructure will impede progress. So will a school system that, despite the opening of some 15 private universities, is far from supplying the skills needed for a modern economy.
  • although Syrians whisper about palace intrigues and bumps in the night, a striking number reckon silence is a reasonable price to pay for stability. Punishment is harsh but at least the rules are clear. Syrian society is as complex in sectarian make-up as neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq, and harbours similarly volatile groups, including jihadist cells that the government ruthlessly squashes. Yet it has experienced minimal unrest in recent years. The most serious incident was a car bomb that killed 17 people in Damascus last year. The calm, say some, results less from heavy policing than from clever intelligence, including the co-opting and manipulation of extremist groups. With the exception of the Kurds, Syria’s minorities enjoy a sense of security envied elsewhere in the region.
  • Frightened by the invasion of Iraq, Syria nevertheless yanked the American lion’s tail by letting insurgents slip into the fray. Such nerve, along with Syria’s generous accommodation of Iraqi refugees, improved Mr Assad’s Arab nationalist credentials just when America’s moderate Arab allies looked callow and spineless.
  • Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, tried to provoke a reaction from Mr Assad, when visiting President Nicolas Sarkozy in France, by calling for negotiations without preconditions. Syria had no preconditions, answered Mr Assad on his own Paris visit, but rather rights that everyone recognised. Indeed, Mr Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, seemed to accept that the Heights would one day have to be returned to Syria.
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

Oman says time to accept Israel in region, offers help for peace | Reuters - 0 views

  • Oman described Israel as an accepted Middle East state on Saturday, a day after hosting a surprise visit by its prime minister that Washington said could help regional peace efforts
  • Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa voiced support for Oman over the sultanate’s role in trying to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, while Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom believes the key to normalising relations with Israel was the peace process
  • Oman has long been to the Middle East what neutral Switzerland is to global diplomacy. The country helped to mediate secret U.S.-Iran talks in 2013 that led to the historic nuclear deal signed in Geneva two years later.
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  • In 1996, the late Shimon Peres went to Oman and Qatar when he was prime minister and opened Israel trade representative offices in both Gulf countries. His predecessor, the late Yitzhak Rabin, made the first trip to Oman in 1994.
Ed Webb

Liberman spawns 'alliance of the underprivileged' - 0 views

  • Israel’s political system is currently ensnared in a dizzying spiral the likes of which it has never known. The unprecedented decision by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to indict an incumbent prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust has rattled Israeli politics, which was already suffering from deep polarization, and this is just the beginning. In a nationally televised response to Mandelblit’s announcement of the indictments on Nov. 21, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he is being subjected to an “attempted coup.”
  • Netanyahu, heavily influenced by his legal woes, will push Israel into a third election in less than a year to gin up public support at the ballot box in the hope that his supporters will at least acquit him in the court of public opinion.
  • Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman, whose party holds the deciding votes in the current political deadlock, has not only put him in a bind, but has also created an “alliance of the underprivileged”
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  • The first sign of their alliance appeared in the Knesset following Netanyahu’s harsh Nov. 13 speech accusing the 13 lawmakers for the Joint List of supporting and encouraging terrorism. At the start of the Nov. 19 session of the Knesset Finance Committee, Chair Moshe Gafni of the ultra-Orthodox Yahadut HaTorah, thanked his committee colleague Tibi for his ongoing cooperation. “You know how to leverage [this cooperation] for the benefit of the public you represent. You do so with great skill. We see it in the Arab communities too. There is development, and you have played a large role in this, and I thank you for it,” Gafni said. Gafni’s ultra-Orthodox colleague Yinon Azoulai of Shas seconded his assessment, asserting, “With the [Joint] List and Ahmad there always was cooperation, and it is always possible to do more.”
  • Israel’s Arab and ultra-Orthodox citizens — together constituting at least 30% of the population — are the country’s poorest demographic and the largest beneficiaries of its social welfare services. While Netanyahu and his right-wing allies shower generous budgets on the Jewish West Bank settlements and provide their residents with an array of benefits, members of the Arab Joint List and of the two ultra-Orthodox parties have to work hard to advance legislation that benefits their voters.
  • Liberman, who under the current constellation has the power to decide who will be Israel’s next prime minister, is seeking to exclude the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs from power. Thus, these two groups, which would seem to have nothing in common save a possible desire to join forces against Liberman’s onslaught of incitement against them, are striking up a surprising “friendship.”
  • “The clear and present danger is the anti-Zionist coalition of the Arab and ultra-Orthodox Knesset members,” Liberman said. “This is truly an anti-Zionist coalition active in both blocs [left and right]. The Joint List is a real fifth column; there is no need to whitewash and hide it. Unfortunately, the ultra-Orthodox community and its political parties, too, are becoming increasingly anti-Zionist, and it’s time to stop this nonsense that only their fringes [are opposed to the State of Israel].”
  • Such cooperation could crush the protective right-wing and ultra-Orthodox bloc of 55 seats that Netanyahu has built and undermine his mantra that the formation of a center-left minority government supported by the Arab parties would be nothing short of a mass national terror attack.
  • Members of the Joint List are all too familiar with being targets of incitement and delegitimization by Netanyahu and others, but for Shas and Yahadut HaTorah, which have tied their fate to that of Netanyahu, this is a new experience. Thanks to Liberman, they too are now illegitimate, just like their Arab Knesset colleagues.
  • The last time Liberman tried to “bury” the Arab parties, he sponsored legislation raising the electoral threshold in 2014 so that only parties winning 3.25% of the vote could send representatives to the Knesset. The move, designed to exclude the small Arab parties, backfired, uniting the ideologically disparate parties into a single list. This forced union then overtook Liberman’s faction. As of the September elections, they are the third biggest Knesset faction, with 13 seats, while Liberman’s party has eight.
  • For the sake of the sacred goal of survival, there is no need for an ideological glue other than shared destiny, as the four Arab parties – Ta’al, Ra’am, Balad and Hadash — realized in uniting against Liberman and forming the Joint List.
Ed Webb

To please Trump, Netanyahu washes his hands of coronavirus advice - +972 Magazine - 0 views

  • The Israeli government’s original plan was much less drastic: advisors from the Health Ministry had initially proposed adding the United States to its list of countries from which returning Israelis have to self-quarantine for at least two weeks, in particular those landing from New York, California, or Seattle, which to date are the three centers of the outbreak in the U.S.
  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence — the science sceptic whom Trump has charged with overseeing the government’s response to coronavirus — personally asked Netanyahu on Sunday not to include the U.S. on its limited list of quarantine countries, but to set down a blanket policy instead. The prime minister complied.
  • In a press conference Sunday night, Netanyahu delivered an unctuous appraisal of the White House’s response to the virus — which has been widely slammed at home and abroad — before announcing that no country would be “singled out” for self-quarantine requirements. The prime minister therefore effectively left two alternative options for Israel’s travel quarantine measures: impose no quarantine from the United States at all, thus ignoring his own Health Ministry’s advice, or enforce quarantine for everyone entering the country, no matter where they were traveling from, and whether they were returning Israelis or international visitors.
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  • Netanyahu’s relationship with Trump, who has brought retrograde antisemitism roaring back into the American mainstream, is among his crowning foreign policy achievements, together with the pro-annexation gifts that the president has bestowed in return. It is therefore no shock that Netanyahu would agree to scratch his back with an eye on the upcoming U.S. election, much as Trump did by releasing his so-called “Deal of the Century” just over a month ahead of Israel’s recent election.
  • Still, it is disturbing to watch the working logic of the Republican Party now informing the Israeli prime minister’s decisions during a public health crisis: keep Trump happy, even when doing so could cost your own citizens’ lives and/or throw your economy into disarray.
  • Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision to place Bethlehem on lockdown, in response to an outbreak of the virus in the city, stood in stark contrast to the self-quarantine measures imposed on Israelis inside the Green Line. Such are the perks of a military dictatorship, including in a city which, as part of Area A, is ostensibly under full Palestinian Authority control.
  • Israel’s entire state apparatus is engineered to ensure that what is necessary for Palestinians is not so for Jews, and vice-versa, even when they live in the same area.
Ed Webb

Who in the GCC wants a union? - 0 views

  • Citing “security problems, economic challenges and other serious issues confronted by the region,” Bahrain’s Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa recently announced that the transformation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to a union is an “inevitable goal” of this month’s Manama Dialogue (Dec. 9-11).
  • With absolutely no illusions that Oman — historically the most independent member of the GCC — has changed its position, last month Ghanem al-Buainain, Bahrain’s minister of Parliament Affairs, stated that he sensed “great enthusiasm for the union from the other Gulf members.”
  • Many non-Saudis in the GCC view Saudi Arabia as an important ally, yet they also see the oil-rich kingdom as an overbearing neighbor who does not always respect the smaller Arab Gulf states’ sovereignty. Due to a host of domestic issues in the GCC and regional developments, which the Arab Gulf families see through different lenses, Riyadh and Manama officials may see their plan for a union falling on deaf ears.
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  • Kuwait is the GCC state with the most vibrant political life and democratic institutions. Opposition to a union from Kuwait is largely attributable to concerns about “collective security actions” that Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states could pursue to silence dissent and activism in Kuwait. Last month’s snap elections in Kuwait will bring in parliamentarians to the National Assembly from an opposition made up of liberals and Islamists whom other GCC states would not permit to hold any position of power in their own political systems. As many Kuwaitis take pride in their “half-democracy” and relative transparency and openness, the concept of a union has met its share of resistance in the country from voices across its political spectrum.
  • Doha has established ties with Islamist factions throughout the region and hosted many Muslim Brotherhood members — often done so at the expense of healthy relations with other GCC states. If other Arab Gulf countries such as the UAE, which designate the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist” group, and Qatar belong to a union, what will be the future of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and other prominent Islamist figures who live in Doha?
  • Emiratis view themselves as a rival of Saudi Arabia for a dominant role in the region’s financial landscape, Abu Dhabi would not lend its support to a Riyadh-based Gulf central bank. In the UAE, where the authorities are waging a crackdown on Islamists, there has long been a belief that the Muslim Brotherhood operates in the Emirates on behalf of Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the purpose of undermining the UAE’s national sovereignty and independence.
  • Oman’s interest in deepening ties with Iran in commercial, diplomatic, energy and security spheres is a major factor driving Omani opposition to a union
  • Given the Kuwaiti and Qatari royal families’ cordial relationship with their countries’ Shiites who are loyal to the Al Sabah (Kuwait) and Al Thani (Qatar) rulers, threats of an Iranian-inspired Shiite revolution or rebellion have not provoked substantial sectarian tension in Kuwait since the end of the first Gulf war, nor has it ever done so in Qatar at any point following Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. This outlook fundamentally contrasts with Saudi Arabia’s and Bahrain’s outlook, which is based on an understanding of Iran being a predatory state committed to toppling the Al Sauds and Al Khalifas through a violent revolution. Manama and Riyadh’s shared view of the Islamic Republic as an existential threat has closely aligned the two kingdoms and led Bahrain to maintain its strong support for a de facto Saudi-led union.
  • the option of perhaps one day importing Iranian gas may receive greater consideration if they remain relatively independent from Saudi Arabia in the framework of a council (not union) and their economic ills increase their interest in importing more natural gas. Yet a union would erase any realistic Kuwaiti or Emirati plans for signing gas contracts with Iran
  • there are grave concerns in the GCC about the US’ long-term commitment as the council’s security guarantor
Ed Webb

Mohammed bin Salman named Saudi Arabia's crown prince | Saudi Arabia News | Al Jazeera - 1 views

  • Saudi Arabia's King Salman has appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as heir, in a major reshuffle announced early on Wednesday. A royal decree removed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a 57-year-old nephew of the king, as next-in-line to the throne and replaced him with Mohammed bin Salman, 31, who was previously the deputy crown prince. According to the official Saudi Press Agency, the newly announced crown prince was also named deputy prime minister and maintained his post as defence minister. The former crown prince was also fired from his post as interior minister, the decree said.
  • Some royal observers had long suspected Mohammed bin Salman's rise to power under his father's reign might also accelerate his ascension to the throne. The young prince was little known to Saudis and outsiders before Salman became king in January 2015. He had previously been in charge of his father's royal court when Salman was the crown prince.
  • Mohammed bin Nayef was not believed to have played a significant role in Saudi and UAE-led efforts to isolate Qatar for its alleged support of Islamist groups and ties with Iran. The prince had appeared to be slipping from the public eye as his cousin, Mohammed bin Salman, embarked on major overseas visits, including a trip to the White House to meet President Donald Trump in March.
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  • Despite Mohammed bin Salman's ambitions, which include overhauling the kingdom's economy away from its reliance on oil, the prince has faced criticism for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which he oversees as defence minister. The war, launched more than two years ago, has failed to dislodge Iranian-allied rebels known as Houthis from the capital, Sanaa, and has had devastating effects on the impoverished country. Rights groups say Saudi forces have killed scores of civilians and have called on the United States, as well as the UK and France, to halt the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the Yemen war.
Ed Webb

Turkey says Syria only has a few days left to get its act together - 0 views

  • The strongest message yet to the Syrian leadership was conveyed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who spoke with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's special envoy, Hassan Turkmani, earlier this week. “We underlined that Turkish support to Syria hinges on the willingness of the Syrian government to adopt sweeping reforms in the country. We detailed our suggestions before and even relayed a written proposal to Damascus on how they should proceed to stabilize the country,” the source explained.
  • “We want a strong, stable, prosperous Syria. To achieve this we believe it is necessary to implement the comprehensive reform process towards democratization guaranteed by [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” Davutoğlu told reporters after three hours of talks with Turkmani on Thursday morning. “In order to achieve this, the violence must stop immediately. Yesterday I clearly saw the fear in the eyes of the people, and I shared this,” he added, describing talks with Turkmani as friendly and Syria as Turkey's “closest friend.”
  • Diplomatic sources said the prime minister spoke over the phone with his Lebanese counterpart, Najib Mikati, with respect to violence in Syria. Erdoğan also had talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. Erdoğan is expected to pay an official visit to Egypt soon and a visit to Syria is also in the planning stages.
Ed Webb

25 years on, remembering the path to peace for Jordan and Israel - 0 views

  • When the secret talks between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were divulged in 1993, Jordan’s King Hussein felt betrayed. For years he had been secretly meeting with the Israelis to broker peace; now he discovered that they were secretly meeting with the Palestinians and making a deal without consulting him. The PLO, fellow Arabs, had not consulted the king either. He was devastated.
  • In September 1993, Rabin secretly came across the border from Eilat to Aqaba to address King Hussein’s concerns and assure the Jordanians that they would be kept informed about the future of the Oslo process. The meeting was arranged by Efraim Halevy, the deputy director of the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad. Hussein had been dealing with the Mossad and Halevy for years as a trusted clandestine back-channel
  • Clinton supported the peace process enthusiastically. A Jordanian treaty would get his support and help him sell the revival of bilateral relations with Jordan to Americans still angry over the Iraq war, especially in Congress
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  • Jordan had long held back from a peace treaty with Israel because it did not want to get in front of the Palestinians. It did not want a separate treaty with Israel, like President Anwar Sadat had done for Egypt. But now Arafat was engaging in direct talks with the Israelis to make a peace agreement: Jordan would not be alone. Even the Syrians were engaging with Israel via the Americans. Jordan was free to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel after decades of clandestine contacts begun by Hussein’s grandfather King Abdullah without fear of a backlash from the other Arabs
  • Jordan and Israel would keep the Americans informed, but the king did not want Washington using its leverage in a negotiation process given the Americans’ closer ties to Israel.
  • Rabin had met with the king secretly for almost two decades
  • The Rabin-Hussein relationship was crucial to the success of the negotiations. Both trusted the other. Hussein saw Rabin as a military man who had the security issues under his command. He was convinced that he had a unique opportunity to get a peace treaty and Rabin was central to the opening.
  • The king also saw the negotiation process as almost more of a religious experience than a diplomatic solution to the passions of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He spoke movingly of restoring peace between the children of Abraham. He wanted a warm peace, not the cold peace between Egypt and Israel.
  • Jerusalem was also a core issue for the Hashemite family. Despite losing physical control of East Jerusalem in 1967, the king had retained influence in the Muslim institutions that administered the holy sites in the city. The preservation of Jordan’s role in the administration of the third holiest city of Islam was a very high priority of Hussein then, and still is for his son King Abdullah today
  • Clinton had studied the Jordanian wish list carefully. The top priority was for debt forgiveness, amounting to $700 million dollars. Clinton told Hussein that this would be a tough lift on Capitol Hill. If Hussein would meet Rabin at a public ceremony in the White House hosted by the president, Clinton said he could get the debt relief and progress on Jordan’s other requests.
  • The king told his aides that this was the best meeting he had had with an American president since his first with Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959. On July 9, the king told the Jordanian parliament that it was time for an end to the state of war with Israel and for a public meeting with the Israeli leadership. He wanted the meeting to take place in the region.
  • The Jordanian and Israeli peace teams met publicly on the border to start the rollout, followed by a foreign ministers meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan — a way to bring Peres into the photo op but not the negotiations.
  • The Americans got a copy only on the night before the White House ceremony.
  • On July 25, 1994, Clinton read the declaration on the White House lawn and Rabin and Hussein signed it. It terminated the state of war. Israel formally undertook to respect the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem. All three gave speeches, but the king’s address got the most attention. His speech included a clear and unqualified statement that the state of war was over. He spoke of the realization of peace as the fulfillment of his life-long dream.
  • Clinton spoke of the king’s extraordinary courage in pursuit of peace. He compared him to his grandfather, who had been assassinated for his talks with Israel
  • Rabin and Hussein addressed a joint session of Congress. Hussein spoke about his grandfather’s commitment to peace. “I have pledged my life to fulfilling his dream.” Both received standing ovations. Behind the scenes, Halevy was lobbying Congress for debt relief. He returned to the region on the royal aircraft with the king and queen.
  • Teams from the two countries met every day, mostly at the crown prince’s house in Aqaba. Hassan supervised the day-to-day talks for his brother.
  • The toughest issues were land and water.
  • The final issues were addressed at another Rabin-Hussein summit meeting in Amman on the evening of October 16. The two leaders got down on their hands and knees to pour over a large map of the entire border from north to south and personally delineated the line. Two small areas got special treatment: Israel would lease the two areas from Jordan so Israeli farmers could continue access to their cultivation. By 4am, it was done.
  • On October 26, 1994, Clinton witnessed the signing of the treaty on the border by the prime ministers of Israel and Jordan. It was only the second visit to Jordan by a sitting American president
  • Many Jordanians felt it was dishonorable to make peace with Israel while the occupation of the West Bank continued. Some argue that it legitimates the Israeli occupation. It has gotten progressively more unpopular in the 25 years since the signing ceremony
  • Two years later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched a Mossad hit team to Amman to poison a Hamas leader. The botched murder attempt created a crisis in the new peace, and Halevy had to be called back from his new job in Brussels as ambassador to the European Union to smooth out the disaster and get the Mossad team released. He would then be appointed the head of the Mossad.
  • Hussein never trusted or respected Netanyahu after it, and the peace has been cold ever since
  • Hussein’s strategic goal of restoring bilateral relations with the United States was achieved
  • in December 1999, I traveled with Clinton and three former presidents to attend Hussein’s funeral in Amman in a strong demonstration of America’s commitment to Jordan.
  • The Trump administration has tilted dramatically toward Israel on all the issues that concern Jordanians about the future of the Palestinian issue, especially the status of Jerusalem. The movement of the American embassy to Jerusalem was a particularly important shock to the peace treaty. If Israel begins to annex parts of the West Bank, as Netanyahu has promised, the Jordanians will be in a corner. The treaty may be more endangered today than ever before.
Ed Webb

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis Is Failing on the World Stage - 0 views

  • Greece was caught by surprise when Turkey announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Libyan government in Tripoli. The deal demarcated new maritime boundaries between the two countries—boundaries that now run very close to Crete, Greece’s biggest island. Turkey’s aim is to start drilling operations for natural gas in the area, in humiliating disregard of Greece’s territorial claims. The country’s traditional allies, in Washington and across Europe, have done essentially nothing to intervene.
  • problems were compounded by the conference on Libya organized by Germany in January, where Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met to discuss a possible cease-fire with the two warring Libyan sides, as well as a possible resolution to the conflict. Greece was not invited at all, despite the fact its interests are now directly involved in Libya. To add insult to injury, reports in the German tabloid Bild suggest the decisive factor may have been Turkey’s insistence that Greece not be involved in the negotiations.
  • Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has suggested that Greece might soon send active personnel to Libya as part of the European Union’s Sofia mission, which enforces an arms embargo on the country’s warring sides (and their patrons), and an array of Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia “to protect critical infrastructure,” presumably against attacks like the ones Iran is believed to have organized against the Abqaiq and Khurais oil fields last year. This marks a break with traditional Greek foreign policy, in which it seeks to remain neutral in active conflicts and maintain friendly relations with larger nearby countries like Iran and Russia.
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  • Greece’s position seems likely to worsen in the near future as Turkey and Russia deepen their ties (despite the fact the Syrian conflict has placed them on opposite sides), with the latter reportedly considering recognizing the former’s statelet in Northern Cyprus and planning to open a military base there.
  • what explains the decision-making? A clue is offered by Mitsotakis’s book on foreign policy, released in 2006 in Greece (a translation of his Harvard University dissertation). Its main thesis can be summed up in this passage: “the satisfaction of domestic obligations might require foreign-policy decisions that are not the most suitable from the point of view of a rational player, but which provide gains domestically”—or, to paraphrase, the country’s foreign policy should be carved with an eye on domestic politics.
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.
Sana Usman

PM Gilani will resign after UK visit. Sources - 0 views

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    Some strong sources reported that Prime Minister Gilani will resign after UK official visit. Makhdoom Shahabuddin will take charge as his substitute.
Ed Webb

The World Today - Turkish democracy 'a recipe for Arab world' 06/10/2011 - 0 views

  • STEPHEN KINZER: The foreign minister by his own count has made 60 trips to Syria over the last seven or eight years, since he's been in office. That was enough to convince him that here Turkey and Syria had built a very strong relationship.So when the Syrian government began cracking down on demonstrators, the prime minister and the foreign minister called their friends in Syria and told them don't do this. We have got another idea for you. You've got to do it a different way and essentially the Syrians told them drop dead, we're not interested. We don't want to hear from you. This was a big shock for the Turks. Now they have essentially cut off their ties with Assad. They are fed up with him and I see the situation in Syria developing in a potentially very dangerous way. Syria has become the principle theatre where Iran and Turkey are facing off. Iran is supporting the regime, Turkey is supporting the protesters so that is almost the beginning of a proxy conflict between Turkey and Iran who in the long run are likely to become competitors for regional power anyway. The developments in Syria are most distressing and if there is one situation evolving in the Middle East that has the potential for really explosive trouble, it is what is happening in Syria right now.
Ed Webb

Israel faces world anger over illegal settlement law | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Israel faced international criticism Tuesday over a new law allowing the appropriation of private Palestinian land for Jewish settler outposts, although the United States remained notably silent.Britain, France, the United Nations and Israel's neighbour Jordan were among those coming out against the legislation passed late Monday.
  • Pro-Palestinian Israeli NGOs said they would ask the Supreme Court to strike down the law, while Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog warned the legislation could result in Israeli officials facing the International Criminal Court.
  • Separately to the new law, Israel has approved more than 6,000 settler homes since Trump took office on January 20 having signalled a softer stance on the issue than Obama.
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  • The law could still be challenged, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week it was likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court.International law considers all settlements illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, which are known as outposts.
  • To some Israelis, the law reflects their God-given right over the territory, regardless of the courts, the Palestinians and the international community."All of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people," said Science Minister Ofir Akunis of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, using the biblical term that includes the West Bank."This right is eternal and indisputable."Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi called for the international community to assume its "moral, human and legal responsibilities and put an end to Israel's lawlessness."
Ed Webb

Dam Rising in Ethiopia Stirs Hope and Tension - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • Ethiopia, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, has poured its resources into a slew of megaprojects in recent years, including dams, factories, roads and railways across the country.But its strong, state-driven approach has been criticized for displacing rural communities, elbowing out private investors and muzzling political dissent. The Renaissance Dam, its biggest project, has met with resistance even outside Ethiopia’s borders, setting off a heated diplomatic battle with Egypt that, at one point, led to threats of war.
  • From the very beginning, this relentless drive has put Ethiopia at odds with Egypt. The Renaissance Dam is on the Blue Nile, a tributary that contributes most of the water flowing into the Nile River, heightening concerns that it could threaten Egypt’s most vital natural resource. Fears of armed conflict surfaced during the brief tenure of Egypt’s former president, Mohamed Morsi, who said last year that “Egyptian blood” would substitute for every drop of lost water.But under Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the icy relationship between the two countries has begun to thaw. Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, and Mr. Sisi had a cordial first meeting in June, and water ministers from Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan met for renewed discussions in late August. Egypt’s new foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, set a diplomatic tone during a visit last month to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, declaring “a new phase of our relationship based on mutual understanding, mutual respect and a recognition that the Nile binds us.”
  • A smaller dam nearing completion in southern Ethiopia could threaten ecosystems affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Huge land leases to foreign commercial farms have displaced communities and left tens of thousands of acres uncultivated.
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  • Building the vast reservoir needed to generate maximum power, on the other hand, poses some risks to Egypt and Sudan, as it will temporarily lessen the flow downstream.
Ed Webb

Egypt Continues Sinai Security Effort Amid Reports of Israeli Help - 0 views

  • The military campaign is part of what the Egyptian government calls "Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018.” The mission, announced Friday, is intended to target “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations” across Egypt.
  • Egypt is quietly carrying out the operation with cooperation from Israel.
  • Israeli airstrikes in the Sinai are targeted individuals or small groups of militants as opposed to infrastructure, according to media reports.
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  • “the level of trust between the nations has reached the point where Israel is providing various military, technological and operational intelligence to Egypt and is operating attack UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] in Sinai with Cairo’s approval.”
  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi reinstated an ambassador in Tel Aviv in 2016, reversing Morsi's withdrawal of the envoy to protest a 2012 Israeli assault on Gaza. The same year Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Israel, making a trip to the home of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was the first time an Egyptian foreign minister had visited Israel in two decades.
Ed Webb

Turkey Rattled by Weak Hand in Libya as Russia and Egypt Advance - 0 views

  • By assisting Egypt to protect its western border, Moscow has re-forged the military links of its former alliance with Cairo
  • The 75-year-old Haftar, who retains the loyalty of the parliament in Tobruk, is a central actor in the Libyan civil war. A former ally of deposed Libyan strong man Moammar Gadhafi who received his military training in the Soviet Union, Haftar maintains deep ties with Russia. Haftar’s forces control most of Libya’s oil facilities, particularly after they captured the ports along Libya’s “Oil Crescent” in September 2016, resulting in a rise in oil production from 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to over 700,000 bpd in January 2017.  On February 21, 2018 Russian oil giant Rosneft signed an investment and crude oil purchasing agreement with Libya’s National Oil Corporation, paving the way for a major Russian role in Libya’s oil industry.
  • In January 2017, Haftar was invited aboard Russia’s aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean in order to conduct a video conference with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
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  • During Ahmet Davutoğlu’s tenure as Turkey’s prime minister, relations between Ankara and the Tobruk-based parliament deteriorated to the point where all Turkish firms were expelled from Libya. 
  • Ankara's efforts to gain influence in Libya pale in comparison to the security assets that Moscow and Egypt may be preparing for a more expanded military presence in Libya. On November 7, 2018, Haftar and his senior staff visited Moscow for their latest meeting with Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu. Following the session, the Libyan Armed Forces released a video showing the presence of Yevgeny Prigozhin, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and linked to several Russian private military companies, including the Wagner Group that allegedly participated in operations in Syria. Prigozhin's presence at the Haftar-Shoigu meeting has suggested to observers within Russia and beyond that Moscow may be gearing up for some form of increased intervention in Libya with operations similar to those conducted in Syria.
  • from November 3 to 16, Egypt hosted a two-week long joint exercise with the militaries of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan. Dubbed Arab Shield 1, the exercise involved land, naval, and air forces as well as Special Forces and took place at Egypt's base in Marsa Matrouh. While some view the exercises as a step toward creating an 'Arab NATO' to confront Iran, the massive joint Arab exercise on Egypt's Mediterranean coast sent a clear signal to Turkey and demonstrated the sort of coalition Egypt could muster should it decide to expand its military footprint in Libya
  • both Russia and Egypt have strategic incentives to escalate their support for the aging Libyan commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.  In April 2018, the general suffered a stroke and required hospitalization in an intensive care unit in Paris.  Although two of Haftar's sons are commanders in the Libyan National Army, it is unclear whether either one of them could maintain the loyalty of the coalition of diverse factions that have united under the figure of Khalifa Haftar.  It would behoove both Moscow and Cairo to press their current advantage and deepen their respective positions in preparation for a post-Haftar era.
  • Moscow’s military presence in Libya would enable the Kremlin to complete a Russian ring around the southern half of the eastern Mediterranean. It is worth noting that Vladimir Putin's Russia is more popular than NATO in Greece and among Greek Cypriots. With only 195 nautical miles (360 km) separating Tobruk and Crete, Turkey thus faces the prospect of eventually finding itself encircled by a Russian presence among all of its regional adversaries
  • The change in the balance of power in North Africa in favor of Russia and Egypt inevitably and severely undermines Turkey's already challenging strategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Ed Webb

The Reverse Midas Touch of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Is Turning the Middle East to Dust - 0 views

  • Can you get more “impulsive” than rounding up 11 fellow princes, including one of the world’s richest men and the commander of the national guard, and holding them at the Ritz Carlton on charges of corruption? Especially since MBS, who ordered the arrests only a few hours after his father set up an anti-corruption committee and put him in charge of it, isn’t exactly a paragon of probity and transparency himself
  • The crown prince and his cronies had assumed that tiny, defenseless Qatar would be brought to heel within a matter of weeks, if not days. Five months on, however, the Qataris, continue to reject the long list of Saudi/UAE demands — including the closure of the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera media network — and have retreated into the warm embrace of the MBS’s key regional rivals, Iran and Turkey
  • That the crown prince of Saudi Arabia can, essentially, kidnap the elected leaders of not one but two Middle Eastern countries — and, incidentally, put the leading Saudi royal he replaced as crown prince under palace arrest — speaks volumes about not just his “impulsive intervention policy” but the shameless pass he gets from Western governments for such rogue behavior. Imagine the reaction from the international community if Iran had, say, detained the Iraqi prime minister on Iranian soil after forcing him to resign on Iranian television. Yet President Donald Trump has gone out of his way to tweet his support for the crown prince and his father: “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing.”
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  • Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis — which MBS, as defense minister, shamefully intensified with his order last week to blockade all entry points into the country
  • the much-lauded MBS has in fact proved to be the reverse Midas — everything he touches turns to dust. Maybe the authors of that scathing BND memo underestimated just how much of a disaster this favored son of Salman would be both for the kingdom and for the wider region. The inconvenient truth about the crown prince is that he isn’t only impulsive, he’s incompetent; he isn’t only ambitious, he’s reckless. He is also a nationalist and a hawk who is bent on turning the long-standing Saudi/Iran cold war into a very hot war — and is even willing to ally with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel in order to do so. If MBS is the new “leader of the Arab world”… then Allah help the Arab world.
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