country:bahrain

  • Exclusive: Khashoggi murder further complicates ’Arab NATO’ plan - U.S. sources | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-mideast-alliance-exclusive/exclusive-khashoggi-murder-further-complicates-arab-nato-plan-u-s-sources-i

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s strategy to contain Iranian power in the Middle East by forging Arab allies into a U.S.-backed security alliance was in trouble even before the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now, three U.S. sources said, the plan faces fresh complications.

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    Khashoggi’s murder on Oct. 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has drawn international outrage against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Turkish officials and some U.S. lawmakers accusing the kingdom’s de facto ruler of ordering the killing.

    The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) aims to bind Sunni Muslim governments in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan in a U.S.-led security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran. 

    But feuds among Arab allies, especially a Saudi-led economic and political boycott of Qatar, have hampered the founding of the alliance since Riyadh proposed it last year.

    A summit meeting in the United States where Trump and the Arab leaders would sign a preliminary accord on the alliance was expected in January. But the three U.S. sources and a Gulf diplomat said the meeting now looks uncertain. It has already been postponed several times, they added. 

    Khashoggi’s murder raised “a whole bunch of problems” to be solved before the plan - informally referred to as the “Arab NATO” - can move forward, one U.S. source said. One issue is how the Americans could have the Saudi crown prince, who goes by the initials MbS, attend the summit without causing widespread outrage.

    “It’s not palatable,” the source said.


  • UAE. The Other Murderous Gulf - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

    https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/10/30/other-murderous-gulf-pub-77606

    Since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi hit squad in early October, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and patron of Saudi Arabia’s own crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), has resembled the cat that swallowed the canary. The disastrous regional adventurism and ruthless despotism of his protégé has averted Washington’s gaze from the UAE’s own responsibility for the carnage that is roiling the region. But the UAE should not be given a get out jail free card. If the White House refuses to hold the Emirates accountable for undermining U.S. interests, Congress should use its constitutional power to step into the leadership void.

    Richard Sokolsky

    Richard Sokolsky is a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program. His work focuses on U.S. policy toward Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
    Throughout Yemen’s three-and-a-half-year civil war, the Emiratis have been as brutal and reckless as the Saudis. While Saudi aircraft slaughter innocent civilians at wedding halls, funerals, homes, markets, schools, and ports, UAE boots on the ground have also contributed to the humanitarian disaster. The UAE-led military offensive in and around the port city of Hodeidah has been a catastrophe: over 400,000 Yemenis have been displaced since June and the fighting has considerably worsened the country’s already alarming food crisis and famine. Human rights organizations have reported on secret UAE-administered detention facilities where torture, beatings, electric shocks, and killings have occurred. The UAE royal family has paid retired U.S. Special Forces soldiers to track down and assassinate Yemeni political figures that it believes are in league with the wider Muslim Brotherhood movement. In Aden, the UAE has organized, supplied, and paid militias to foment fractious proxy violence. Yemenis who once saw the Emirati intervention as an heroic act to defend their nation’s sovereignty from a ruthless Iran-supported militia are now depicting it as an occupation, if not colonization.

    The UAE is part of the coalition of “Saudi-led” Arab countries (along with Bahrain and Egypt) that imposed a blockade against Qatar in May 2017. These nations were attempting to, among other things, end Qatar’s “terrorism,” cut its ties to Iran, get it to stop meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and force it to pursue a less independent foreign policy. The UAE has taken an even more hardline stance against the Qataris than the Saudis, in part because it is more fanatical than Riyadh about eradicating any trace of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Qatar and the region more broadly. The boycott, which has divided America’s partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, has been a disaster for both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, affording both Iran and Turkey opportunities to expand their influence in Doha. Nor has it worked out well for Washington, which hoped to forge a united Gulf front to contain Iranian influence. But for the UAE, the Saudis have been a useful surrogate for outsized regional ambitions; the Emiratis’ relationship with the Kingdom has allowed them to punch well above their weight. That’s not a good thing.


  • Exclusive: Mesa to include nine countries while prioritising Iran threat - The National

    https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/exclusive-mesa-to-include-nine-countries-while-prioritising-iran-threat-

    S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking has spent the last three weeks in shuttle regional diplomacy across the Gulf to lay the groundwork for a US-hosted summit in January that would launch the Middle East Strategic Alliance (Mesa), a concept similar to an Arab Nato.

    In an interview with The National on Wednesday, Mr Lenderking divulged details about the structure of Mesa and its long term prospects. He said besides the Gulf Cooperation Council members – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman – the US and both Egypt and Jordan would be members of such an alliance.

    Mr Lenderking said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be hosting a GCC + 2 meeting on the margins of United Nations General Assembly on Friday to prepare for the January summit.

    “This stems from the Riyadh summit in 2017 where everyone agreed that the US and the GCC would meet on an annual basis...we added on top of that the keen interest on both sides in building Mesa,” Mr Lenderking explained. The alliance would be based on a security, economic and political agreement that would bind together the GCC countries, along with the US, Egypt and Jordan.

    Notwithstanding the different policy priorities within the GCC itself, Mr Lenderking said the idea of Mesa is “it builds a good strong shield against threats in the Gulf,” naming Iran, cyber concerns, attacks on infrastructure, and coordinating conflict management from Syria to Yemen as part of its agenda.

    “The more we have coordinated efforts, the more effective in enhancing stability,” he said, adding that Iran was the “number one threat” on the Mesa list.

    The senior US official confirmed that the US would be part of the alliance and “we [US] would like to agree on the concept of Mesa by the January summit.”

    He cautioned, however, that these conversations are still in their early stages and “if we find we need to change dates we need to be flexible on that”.


  • Oman’s Port Strategy – LobeLog
    https://lobelog.com/omans-port-strategy

    Within the Arabian Peninsula, Duqm and Salalah have much potential to further shape geopolitical relations amid strategic shifts in the regional balance of power. Any major investments by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Duqm (and other Omani projects) should be watched closely for their effect on intra-Gulf politics. Some analysts contend that both countries are attempting to restrict the Sultanate’s geopolitical maneuverability as Muscat and Tehran try to maintain cooperative relations. As Riyadh and Abu Dhabi may use their petro-dollars to influence Oman’s future position in an increasingly polarized Gulf, they could use investments in Omani infrastructure projects as another way to gain leverage. Likewise, Oman’s trade infrastructure proved highly useful to Qatar last year when Doha needed alternatives to Jebel Ali as a logistics hub linking the emirate to the global economy.

    It goes without saying that Iran itself is a key factor in this equation. If tensions in the Strait of Hormuz escalate, Duqm and Salalah would need to prepare for any trade-related ramifications. The Omani government must stay vigilant and aware of any escalations of friction amid increasingly harsh rhetoric from Washington and Tehran that threaten to unleash an armed conflict in or near the strait. Yet the ports’ advantageous geographic locations could help Gulf states continue to sell their oil and gas in the event of such a crisis, as shipments via Duqm and Salalah will not need to travel through the strait. Whereas Saudi Arabia has its Red Sea coast and the UAE has one Emirate (Fujairah) outside the strait, which would enable these two states to continue exporting oil in the event of the strait’s closure, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar are fully dependent on that artery for their hydrocarbon exports. As Amer No’man Ashour, chief analyst and economist at CNBC Arabia, explains:

    We all know that more than 30 per cent of oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz and with this shift via the Port of Fujairah and the Duqm port, the GCC countries will ensure that their oil shipments are safe, and this will decrease the risk and the cost of insurance on ships… Al-Duqm Port is one of the best ever solutions to the oil issue… It is 800 kilometres away from UAE borders. We know that the UAE has had a partial solution via Fujairah with a capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day, but the production of the UAE is almost 3 million barrels per day. Most of Kuwait, Qatari and Saudi oil is produced in the eastern parts of the Gulf area and this new Omani port will be very suitable for exporting oil to the world.

    #oman #grand_jeu


  • The U.S. is wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood — and the Arab world is suffering for it - The Washington Post

    By Jamal Khashoggi
    August 28 at 3:26 PM

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/08/28/the-u-s-is-wrong-about-the-muslim-brotherhood-and-the-arab-world-is-

    During the Obama presidency, the U.S. administration was wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had come to power in Egypt after the country’s first-ever free elections. Despite his declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then-President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military’s return to power in the largest Arab country — along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement.

    That is the conclusion that David D. Kirkpatrick arrives at in his excellent book “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” which was released this month. A former Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, Kirkpatrick gives a sad account of Egypt’s 2013 coup that led to the loss of a great opportunity to reform the entire Arab world and allow a historic change that might have freed the region from a thousand years of tyranny.

    • During the Obama presidency, the U.S. administration was wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had come to power in Egypt after the country’s first-ever free elections. Despite his declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then-President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military’s return to power in the largest Arab country — along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement.

      That is the conclusion that David D. Kirkpatrick arrives at in his excellent book “Into the Hands of the Soldiers,” which was released this month. A former Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times, Kirkpatrick gives a sad account of Egypt’s 2013 coup that led to the loss of a great opportunity to reform the entire Arab world and allow a historic change that might have freed the region from a thousand years of tyranny.

      The United States’s aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is more apparent in the current Trump administration, is the root of a predicament across the entire Arab world. The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes. In turn, this will mean the continuation of the causes behind revolution, extremism and refugees — all of which have affected the security of Europe and the rest of the world. Terrorism and the refugee crisis have changed the political mood in the West and brought the extreme right to prominence there.

      There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed. It seems clear then that the only way to prevent political Islam from playing a role in Arab politics is to abolish democracy, which essentially deprives citizens of their basic right to choose their political representatives.

      Shafeeq Ghabra, a professor of political science at Kuwait University, explains the problem in this way: “The Arab regimes’ war on the Brotherhood does not target the movement alone, but rather targets those who practice politics, who demand freedom and accountability, and all who have a popular base in society.” A quick look at the political degradation that has taken place in Egypt since the military’s return to power confirms what Ghabra says. President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s regime has cracked down on the Islamists and arrested some 60,000 of them. Now it has extended its heavy hand against both secular and military figures, even those who supported him in the coup. In today’s Egypt, political life is totally dead.

      It is wrong to dwell on political Islam, conservatism and identity issues when the choice is between having a free society tolerant of all viewpoints and having an oppressive regime. Five years of Sissi’s rule in Egypt makes this point clear.

      There are efforts here in Washington, encouraged by some Arab states that do not support freedom and democracy, to persuade Congress to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. If they succeed, the designation will weaken the fragile steps toward democracy and political reform that have already been curbed in the Arab world. It will also push backward the Arab countries that have made progress in creating a tolerant environment and allowing political participation by various components of society, including the Islamists.

      Islamists today participate in the parliaments of various Arab countries such as Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia and Morocco. This has led to the emergence of Islamic democracy, such as the Ennahda movement in Tunisia, and the maturing of democratic transformation in the other countries.

      The coup in Egypt led to the loss of a precious opportunity for Egypt and the entire Arab world. If the democratic process had continued there, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political practices could have matured and become more inclusive, and the unimaginable peaceful rotation of power could have become a reality and a precedent to be followed.

      The Trump administration always says it wants to correct Obama’s mistakes. It should add his mishandling of Arab democracy to its list. Obama erred when he wasted the precious opportunity that could have changed the history of the Arab world, and when he caved to pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as from members of his own administration. They all missed the big picture and were governed by their intolerant hatred for any form of political Islam, a hatred that has destroyed Arabs’ choice for democracy and good governance.

      #Frères_musulmans #USA #Egypte


  • Growing demand for Russian arms in the Middle East: The Syria Effect?
    https://www.mesp.me/2018/06/21/growing-demand-for-russian-arms-in-the-middle-east-the-syria-effect

    A quick look on arms transfers databases reveals a growing demand for Russian arms in the Middle East. In 2012, Russia delivered weapons to four countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE – in addition to Syria and Iran). Five years later, in 2017, it delivered weapons to eight countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and Turkey – in addition to Syria and Iran), and sales grew in variety, size and value. Compared to 2012, the sales, according to announced figures and estimates, at least doubled in size, both because of the expansion to new markets and increased sales to traditional partners. What could explain this increased interest in Russian weapons? Is President Vladimir Putin correct to credit the boost to the “marketing effect” of the Syrian war? Or are there other, more important, factors at play?

    The Russian military industrial complex showcased the best it has to offer in Syria, deploying a vast array of naval, air and ground weapon systems. Furthermore, the conflict has served as a major testing ground. According to various statements by Russian officials, a minimum of 60 and up to 200 of these weapons have been tested in combat for the first time in Syria. “Combat-proven” is in itself a major marketing argument. As Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said in 2017, “it cannot be overestimated (…) Customers have started queuing up for the weapons that have proven themselves in Syria.” Among those publicly confirmed first-time combat-tested weapons were both examples of the latest Russian state-of-the-art technology, as well as weapons serving in the Russian military for decades.

    “it cannot be overestimated (…) Customers have started queuing up for the weapons that have proven themselves in Syria” – Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov.


  • Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/01/rex-tillerson-qatar-saudi-uae

    THIRTEEN HOURS BEFORE Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned from the presidential Twitter feed that he was being fired, he did something that President Donald Trump had been unwilling to do. Following a phone call with his British counterpart, Tillerson condemned a deadly nerve agent attack in the U.K., saying that he had “full confidence in the U.K.’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had called the attack “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible,” but stopped short of blaming Russia, leading numerous media outlets to speculate that Tillerson was fired for criticizing Russia.

    But in the months that followed his departure, press reports strongly suggested that the countries lobbying hardest for Tillerson’s removal were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which were frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate and end their blockade of Qatar. One report in the New York Times even suggested that the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be forced out three months before he was fired in March.

    The Intercept has learned of a previously unreported episode that stoked the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s anger at Tillerson and that may have played a key role in his removal. In the summer of 2017, several months before the Gulf allies started pushing for his ouster, Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, UAE-backed plan to invade and essentially conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials, all of whom declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

    In the days and weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed down their land, sea, and air borders with the country, Tillerson made a series of phone calls urging Saudi officials not to take military action against the country. The flurry of calls in June 2017 has been reported, but State Department and press accounts at the time described them as part of a broad-strokes effort to resolve tensions in the Gulf, not as an attempt by Tillerson to avert a Saudi-led military operation.

    In the calls, Tillerson, who dealt extensively with the Qatari government as the CEO of Exxon Mobil, urged Saudi King Salman, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir not to attack Qatar or otherwise escalate hostilities, the sources told The Intercept. Tillerson also encouraged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to call his counterparts in Saudi Arabia to explain the dangers of such an invasion. Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops.

    Pressure from Tillerson caused Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the country, to back down, concerned that the invasion would damage Saudi Arabia’s long-term relationship with the U.S. But Tillerson’s intervention enraged Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler of that country, according to the U.S. intelligence official and a source close to the Emirati royal family, who declined to be identified, citing concerns about his safety.

    Later that June, Mohammed bin Salman would be named crown prince, leapfrogging over his cousin to become next in line for the throne after his elderly father. His ascension signaled his growing influence over the kingdom’s affairs.

    Qatari intelligence agents working inside Saudi Arabia discovered the plan in the early summer of 2017, according to the U.S. intelligence official. Tillerson acted after the Qatari government notified him and the U.S. embassy in Doha. Several months later, intelligence reporting by the U.S. and U.K. confirmed the existence of the plan.

    The plan, which was largely devised by the Saudi and UAE crown princes and was likely some weeks away from being implemented, involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and, with military support from the UAE, advancing roughly 70 miles toward Doha. Circumventing the U.S. air base, Saudi forces would then seize the capital.


  • “National security” cited as reason Al Jazeera nixed Israel lobby film | The Electronic Intifada
    https://electronicintifada.net/content/national-security-cited-reason-al-jazeera-nixed-israel-lobby-film/24566

    Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary into the US Israel lobby was censored by Qatar over “national security” fears, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

    These include that broadcast of the film could add to pressure for the US to pull its massive Al Udeid air base out of the Gulf state, or make a Saudi military invasion more likely.

    A source has confirmed that broadcast of The Lobby – USA was indefinitely delayed as “a matter of national security” for Qatar. The source has been briefed by a high-level individual in Doha.

    One of the Israel lobby groups whose activities are revealed in the film has been mounting a campaign to convince the US to withdraw its military forces from Qatar – which leaders in the emirate would see as a major blow to their security.

    The tiny gas-rich monarchy houses and funds satellite channel Al Jazeera.

    In April, managers at the channel were forced to deny a claim by a right-wing American Zionist group that the program has been canceled altogether.

    In October 2017, the head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit promised that the film would be aired “very soon.”

    Yet eight months later, it has yet to see the light of day.

    In March, The Electronic Intifada exclusively published the first concrete details of what is in the film.

    The film reportedly identifies a number of lobby groups as working directly with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data gathering techniques. The documentary is also said to cast light on covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of Israel.

    Some of the activity revealed in the film could include US organizations acting as front operations for Israel without registering as agents of a foreign state as required by US law.

    The latest revelation over the censored film shows how seriously Qatar’s leadership is taking threats of repercussions should it air.

    Threats
    The Israel lobby groups reported on in the film could be expected to take legal action against Al Jazeera if it is broadcast.

    However, such threats alone would be unlikely to deter Al Jazeera from broadcasting the film.

    The network has a history of vigorously defending its work and it was completely vindicated over complaints about a documentary aired in January 2017 that revealed how Israel lobby groups in Britain collude with the Israeli embassy, and how the embassy interfered in British politics.

    Israel’s supporters are also pushing for the US Congress to force the network, which has a large US operation, to register as a “foreign agent” in a similar fashion to Russian channel RT.

    But the high-level individual in Doha’s claim that the film is being censored as “a matter of national security” ties the affair to even more serious threats to Qatar and bolsters the conclusion that the censorship is being ordered at the highest level of the state.

    A year ago, with the support of US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a transport and economic blockade on the country.

    Saudi rulers and their allies see Qatar as too independent of their influence and too open to relations with their regional rival Iran, and the blockade was an attempt to force it to heel.

    The Saudis and Israel accused Qatar of funding “terrorism,” and have taken measures to restrict Al Jazeera or demanded it be shut down altogether over what they perceive as the channel’s anti-Israel and anti-Saudi-monarchy biases.

    The blockade and the diplomatic assault sparked existential fears in Qatar that Saudi-led forces could go as far as to invade and install a more pliant regime in Doha.

    French newspaper Le Monde reported on Friday that the Saudi king has threatened “military action” against Qatar should it go ahead with a planned purchase of a Russian air defense missile system.

    In 2011, Saudi and Emirati forces intervened in Bahrain, another small Gulf nation, at the request of its ruling Khalifa monarchy in order to quell a popular uprising demanding democratic reforms.

    For three years, US and British-backed Saudi and Emirati forces have been waging a bloody and devastating war on Yemen to reimpose a Saudi-backed leadership on the country, clear evidence of their unprecedented readiness to directly use military force to impose their will.

    And no one in the region will have forgotten how quickly Iraqi forces were able to sweep in and take over Kuwait in August 1990.

    Air base
    The lesson of the Kuwait invasion for other small Gulf countries is that only the protection of the United States could guarantee their security from bigger neighbors.

    Qatar implemented that lesson by hosting the largest US military facility in the region, the massive Al Udeid air base.

    The Saudi-led bloc has pushed for the US to withdraw from the base and the Saudi foreign minister predicted that should the Americans pull out of Al Udeid, the regime in Doha would fall “in less than a week.”

    US warplanes operate from the Al Udeid air base near Doha, Qatar, October 2017. US Air Force Photo
    It would be a disaster from the perspective of Doha if the Israel lobby was to put its full weight behind a campaign to pull US forces out of Qatar.

    Earlier this year, an influential member of Congress and a former US defense secretary publicly discussed moving the US base out of Qatar at a conference hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

    FDD is a neoconservative Israel lobby group that happens to be one of the subjects of the undercover Al Jazeera film.

    As The Electronic Intifada revealed in March, FDD is one of the groups acting as an agent of the Israeli government even though it is not registered to do so.

    In July 2017, FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer testified to Congress that it would be an “insane arrangement” to keep US forces at the Al Udeid air base while Qatar continued to support “terror.”

    It will concentrate minds in Doha that FDD was one of the lobby groups most dedicated to destroying the international deal with Iran over its nuclear energy program, a goal effectively achieved when the Trump administration pulled out of it last month.

    In a sign of how vulnerable Qatar feels over the issue, Doha has announced plans to upgrade the Al Udeid base in the hope, as the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes put it, “that the strategic military hub will be counted as one of the Pentagon’s permanent overseas installations.”

    The final straw?
    The cornerstone of Qatar’s effort to win back favor in Washington has been to aggressively compete with its Gulf rivals for the affections of Israel and its Washington lobby.

    Their belief appears to be that this lobby is so influential that winning its support can result in favorable changes to US policy.

    Qatar’s charm offensive has included junkets to Doha for such high-profile Israel supporters as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America who publicly took credit for convincing Qatar’s ruler Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to veto broadcast of the documentary.

    While an all-out Saudi invasion of Qatar over a film series may seem far fetched, the thinking in Doha seems to be that broadcast of The Lobby – USA could be the final straw that antagonizes Qatar’s enemies and exposes it to further danger – especially over Al Udeid.

    With an administration in Washington that is seen as impulsive and unpredictable – it has just launched a trade war against its biggest partners Canada and the European Union – leaders in Doha may see it as foolhardy to take any chances.

    If that is the reason Al Jazeera’s film has been suppressed it is not so much a measure of any real and imminent threat Qatar faces, but rather of how successfully the lobby has convinced Arab rulers, including in Doha, that their well-being and longevity rests on cooperating with, or at least not crossing, Israel and its backers.

    Asa Winstanley is associate editor and Ali Abunimah is executive director of The Electronic Intifada.

    Qatar Al Jazeera The Lobby—USA Al Udeid air base Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Donald Trump Jared Kushner Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Bahrain Iran Kuwait Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Jonathan Schanzer Morton Klein Alan Dershowitz Zionist Organization of America

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  • Bahrain revokes the nationality of a further 115 this month

    We are less than half way through 2018, but this year has already witnessed the highest number of individuals who have had their nationality withdrawn from them in Bahrain. It is difficult to track the exact numbers since, unfortunately, new cases are emerging all the time. However, towards the end of May, 226 people had been a victim of this measure, bringing the average to 45 nationality deprivations a month during 2018 - or more than one person a day. These latest cases have brought the total number of people affected to 732 since 2012. This echoes a growing trend in Bahrain, the Gulf, and more globally, of states withdrawing the nationality of individuals they perceive - or accuse of - being a threat to national security.

    Bahraini authorities have accused these individuals of militancy, in a series of mass trials, whilst rights activists say the majority are peaceful opposition members. Alongside having their nationality revoked, they also face other criminal punishments, 53 for were convicted of terrorism and faced life sentences. The vast majority of those stripped of citizenship do not possess any other nationality and have been left stateless.


  • The Gulf Impasse’s One Year Anniversary & the Changing Regional Dynamics – Gulf International Forum

    Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Ph.D., Fellow for the Middle East, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

    http://gulfif.com/the-gulf-impasse

    A year has passed since the Qatar News Agency was hacked and implanted with ‘fake news’. Ten days later this hacking was followed by the diplomatic and economic embargo of Qatar by four regional states – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt. The element of surprise strategy applied by the Quartet was intended to shock the Qatari government into acceding to their demands. Now, one year later this approach is misplaced as Qatar proved more resilient than anticipated. Rather than isolating Qatar regionally and internationally, the crisis has widened the cracks in the Gulf into a chasm and has generated unintended consequences that risk inflicting generational damage on its political and social fabric. As with the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990, the blockade of Qatar is an era-rupturing event that will reverberate through the regional politics and international relations of the Gulf for years to come.

    Evolving Threat Perceptions
    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was formed in 1981 largely in response to regional security threats triggered by the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980. The six states that came together in Abu Dhabi to form the GCC often differed in their foreign policy outlook. The five smallest Gulf States shared varying degrees of wariness toward Saudi Arabia, reflecting in part a history of border disputes. For example, Kuwait was put under Saudi blockade in the 1920s and 1930s, Oman and Abu Dhabi had territorial disputes with Saudi Arabia from the 1950s to the 1970s, and as recently as 1992 and 1993 skirmishes occurred on the Saudi-Qatari border. Simmering unease in smaller Gulf capitals at the prospect of Saudi domination of GCC structures hampered attempts to construct collective military and security policies such as the Peninsula Shield Force or a common internal security agreement.

    And yet, throughout the three major wars in the Gulf – the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), the Gulf War (1991), and the war and subsequent US-led occupation of Iraq (2003-11), the GCC remained a bastion of relative stability in a region gripped by conflict and insecurity. During this tumultuous period, all six GCC states retained a common threat perception enabling them to overcome instances of intra-GCC friction, such as Saudi and Emirati attempts to reverse the 1995 succession of Qatar’s Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani or the Emirati walkout from the planned GCC monetary union in 2010 after Riyadh was chosen over Abu Dhabi as the site of the prospective GCC central bank. Indeed, GCC states have always worked best together in the face of external threats that draw together the six ruling families’ common interest in political survival – evidenced by the decision in 2011 to revive and dispatch the Peninsula Shield Force to Bahrain to assist in the restoration of order and the creation of a $10 billion GCC fund to assist Bahrain and Oman in the wake of Arab Spring unrest.


  • How WikiLeaks cables paint UAE motive for Qatar blockade

    Cables show UAE ’warned’ US about Qatar long before crisis began, motives weren’t only driven by security concerns.
    Andrew Chappelle by Andrew Chappelle

    Al Jazeera
    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/wikileaks-cables-paint-uae-motive-qatar-blockade-180524174346824.html

    As Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt started their campaign to isolate Qatar on June 5, 2017, accusing it of aiding “terrorism” and being too close to Iran, the messaging used by the Arab quartet struck a familiar tone.

    The blockade against Qatar, now nearing the one-year mark, is often referred to as Saudi-led, but the language used by the “Arab quartet” has been consistent with private statements attributed to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (also known as MBZ), as revealed in diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks in 2010 and 2011.

    A review of this trove - which included secret communications from the US embassy in Abu Dhabi between 2004 and 2010, recapping dozens of meetings with top UAE officials - suggests that the UAE has been a driving force behind the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood (the Brotherhood), and shows the UAE issued a series of stark warnings to US officials about Qatar and Al Jazeera well before the blockade began.

    The cables include direct quotes from MBZ on topics he has not discussed in public, providing additional context to the changing political dynamics in the Gulf. The language attributed to him in the cables suggests the UAE’s motives for the blockade are not exclusively driven by security concerns involving Qatar, but also a desire to quash dissent at home.

    To date, MBZ has not delivered a single public statement about the current Gulf crisis, leaving his brother, Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed (or ABZ) and other surrogates, to speak for the government.


  • From Qatar’s blockade, a bold, unexpected new vision is emerging | World news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/06/qatar-blockade-unexpected-new-vision-isolation

    For most of the past year the city-state of Qatar, the wealthiest peninsula on the planet, has been exploring the law of unintended consequences. The trigger for that came last June, when Qatar’s closest neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, escalated a simmering disquiet about the Gulf state’s role in the region to implement a full land and air blockade.

    Overnight, planes and cargo ships heading for Qatar were diverted, all diplomatic links were cut and Qatar’s sole land border, with Saudi Arabia, was closed. Even camels were not spared the politics – 12,000 Qatari animals were forcibly repatriated.

    #qatar



  • Saudi-Qatar Feud Hits New Low as Saudis Plan Nuclear Dump on Border.
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/saudi-qatar-feud-hits-new-low-as-saudis-plan-nuclear-dump-on-border-1.59896

    Saudi Arabia could consider a proposal to dig a maritime canal along the kingdom’s border with Qatar, turning the peninsula-nation into an island and transforming its only land border into a military zone and nuclear waste site, state-linked Saudi newspapers reported Monday.

    The project has not been given official approval and faces many obstacles. Still, the proposal signals a new low in the 10-month-old feud between Qatar and a quartet of nations that includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

    The four accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism because of its support for Islamist opposition groups in the region and its warm relations with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations and says the moves attempt to undermine its sovereignty.

    Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met in Washington on Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

    Saudi Arabia’s Sabq and al-Riyadh newspapers carried nearly identical reports Monday saying that under the proposal, Saudi Arabia would transform part of its side of the border with Qatar into a military base and another area would become a dump site for waste from nuclear reactors the kingdom wants to build. The UAE, meanwhile, would also build a nuclear waste site at the closest point near its border with Qatar.


  • UK opens permanent military base in Bahrain
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-uk-bahrain/uk-opens-permanent-military-base-in-bahrain-idUKKCN1HC2NR

    The United Kingdom opened a permanent military base in Bahrain on Thursday, Bahrain’s state news agency BNA reported.

    The ceremony formally opening the UK Naval Support Facility was attended by Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Britain’s Prince Andrew.

    Britain announced in 2014 it had sealed a deal to expand and reinforce its naval presence in Bahrain, allowing it to operate more and bigger ships in the Gulf.

    The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is also based in Bahrain.


  • Bahrain strikes biggest oilfield since 1932, dwarfing current reser...
    https://diasp.eu/p/6958749

    Bahrain strikes biggest oilfield since 1932, dwarfing current reserves

    Source: South China Morning Post [Hong Kong]

    “Bahrain has discovered its biggest oilfield in more than 80 years. The ‘highly significant’ oil and deep gas resource is thought to dwarf the Gulf kingdom’s current reserves, according to an official announcement on Sunday. It is located in the Khaleej al-Bahrain basin, located off the country’s west coast.” (04/02/18)

    http://www.scmp.com/news/world/middle-east/article/2139899/bahrain-strikes-biggest-oilfield-1932-dwarfing-current

    #bahrain #oil Originally posted at: http://rationalreview.com/archives/292169


  • Bahrain’s Biggest Oil Find Since 1932 Dwarfs Reserves - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-01/bahrain-says-its-biggest-oil-find-since-1932-dwarfs-reserves

    • Kingdom currently has two fields, one shared with Saudi Arabia
     • New undersea deposit lies off Gulf nation’s western coast

    Bahrain, the smallest energy producer in the Persian Gulf, discovered its biggest oil field since it started producing crude in 1932, according to the country’s official news agency.

    The shale oil and natural gas discovered in a deposit off the island state’s west coast “ is understood to dwarf Bahrain’s current reserves, ”Bahrain News Agency reported, without giving figures. U.S. consultants DeGolyer & MacNaughton Corp. evaluated the field, and Bahrain plans to provide additional details on Wednesday about the reservoir’s “size and extraction viability,” BNA reported.
    […]
    Bahrain discovered the offshore Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin as it seeks to expand output capacity at its wholly owned Bahrain Field to 100,000 barrels a day by the end of the decade. The country is pumping about 45,000 barrels of oil a day from its Bahrain Field, and it shares income from a deposit with Saudi Arabia that produces about 300,000 barrels a day, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    • Bahrain Seeks Big Oil’s Help to Develop New Shale Discovery - Bloomberg
      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-04/bahrain-seeks-big-oil-help-to-develop-its-new-shale-discovery

      The amount of oil and gas that can be recovered from hard-to-reach pockets in shale rocks under the sea is uncertain, and development is potentially an expensive proposition. Halliburton Co. will drill two wells this year in the offshore Khaleej Al Bahrain Basin to appraise how much of the oil contained underground is actually recoverable.

      Only a fraction of the 80-plus billion barrels is likely to be recoverable,” Tom Quinn, senior analyst for Middle East upstream at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said by email. “The oil will also be technically challenging and potentially high cost to develop,” while Bahrain’s previous oil contracts offered meager returns for international oil companies, he said.
      […]

      Elsewhere in the Middle East, differences between estimated shale resources and the amounts that are exploitable can be great. Oman’s Rub Al-Khali Basin area contains an estimated 24 billion barrels of oil, but only 1.2 billion barrels are “technically recoverable,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Jordan’s Wadi Sirhan Basin resource holds about 4 billion barrels, and just 100 million can be extracted, according to the EIA. Both deposits are onshore.

      In addition Bahrain’s sole wholly owned field, the country shares income from a separate deposit with Saudi Arabia that produced 153,500 barrels a day in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency. The government needs oil at $118 a barrel, almost twice the current price, to balance this year’s budget.

      The newly discovered field should provide support for Bahrain’s “very strained fiscal situation,” said John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Gulf Research Center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. “It will provide additional cushion, depending on when the stream of oil comes into play and the price of oil at that point.

    • Bahrain Shale Find Puts Oil Market on Notice

      The Global Oil Market Is About to Be Upended - Bloomberg
      https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-04-10/the-global-oil-market-is-about-to-be-upended

      Bahrain discovered the first oil on the Arab side of the Gulf in 1932. It took a long time for the small island to find anything of similar significance, but its recent announcement of an enormous shale oil resource under its shallow waters should not be underestimated: Commercial offshore shale oil production would be a first for the worldwide industry.

      Perhaps more significant is that this discovery has the potential to boost Middle East output, while raising the odds that shale oil production outside the U.S. and Canada finally takes off. The Middle East has the advantages of good geology, existing petroleum infrastructure, and a lack of environmental or community opposition.


  • EXCLUSIVE: The secret yacht summit that realigned the Middle East | Middle East Eye
    http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/george-nader-yacht-how-mbs-salman-red-sea-summit-mbz-sisi-plotted-qat

    EXCLUSIVE: The secret yacht summit that realigned the Middle East
    #Politics

    Arab leaders from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan plotted to counter Turkey and Iran, and replace the GCC and Arab League

    C’est tout de même écrit par David Hearst...


  • USA Are Foreign-Influenced Social Media Campaigns Part of the New Political Playbook? - Pacific Standard
    https://psmag.com/news/are-foreign-influenced-social-media-campaigns-part-of-the-new-political-playb

    On the first day of November of 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled contrite representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google about their companies’ roles in the Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election. The senators spent nearly three hours chastising the social media platforms for their dereliction. In between the grandstanding, the senators expressed genuine concern about how foreign nations used these platforms, and whether media companies would be able to stop the next country from copying the Russian scheme. But even as lawmakers reflect on the Russian interference, new foreign influence campaigns are already underway.

    This time, rather than trying to choose a president, the campaigns sought to affect President Donald Trump and America’s reaction to the Qatar diplomatic crisis, which began on June 5th, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and established an air, sea, and land blockade around the country.




  • How Bell Pottinger, P.R. Firm for Despots and Rogues, Met Its End in South Africa
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/04/business/bell-pottinger-guptas-zuma-south-africa.html

    If an autopsy could have been performed on Bell Pottinger, Britain’s most audacious public relations firm, the cause of death may have been summarized as “acute embarrassment.”

    This is ironic because Bell Pottinger always seemed defiantly beyond shame. During its 30 years in the upper echelons of Britain’s spin doctoring game, it sought to polish the image of dictators (Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus), repressive regimes (Bahrain and Egypt, to name two) and celebrities accused of despicable crimes (the Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius after he was charged with murder).

    But in early 2016, Bell Pottinger signed a client that ultimately buried it in disgrace.


  • Bahrain: Another Year of Deep State Repression – LobeLog
    http://lobelog.com/bahrain-another-year-of-deep-state-repression

    by Emile Nakhleh

    This past year in Bahrain, much like those preceding it since the popular uprisings of 2011, was one of unending repression and persecution of human rights activists. Yet, the Trump administration and the British government, arguably two of the most influential actors in Bahrain, have remained silent in the face of the Al Khalifa atrocities against human rights activists, especially within the Shia majority.

    When it comes to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other serial violators of human rights and basic freedoms, the American and British governments have allowed arms sales and lucrative money deals benefitting them to trump their traditional commitments to the principles of justice, democracy, peaceful dissent, and freedom. They seem to view Bahrain and its autocratic Sunni neighbors as “cash cows” with an unending source of money. Washington and London are constantly pressured by hordes of lobbyists and consultant—retired diplomats, senior military officers, businessmen, think tanks, and some academics—who do business with autocrats and tribal potentates to take a lenient attitude toward these repressive regimes.

    America and Britain have traditionally protected their own people’s freedoms of speech, assembly, and peaceful protest but not those of the peaceful protesters in Bahrain and elsewhere. Bahraini human rights activists have suffered severely from government repression, yet Washington and London continue to treat the Bahraini regime with velvet gloves.

    An American-educated Bahraini national in a recent conversation with me expressed skepticism about the efficacy of my frequent articles denouncing human rights abuses in his country. He said, “You keep writing, yet your government has given the green light to the Bahraini regime to continue its torture of its peaceful dissidents without fear of retribution or censure from Washington.”


  • How Qatar Is Winning The Diplomatic War In Its Dispute With Saudi Arabia And The UAE
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2018/01/31/qatar-winning-war-saudi-uae

    The diplomatic efforts of Qatar to circumvent the economic and political embargo on the country by a number of erstwhile allies in the region appears to be working, with the US government now emphasizing its support for Doha while still calling for all sides to compromise.

    The embargo was launched on Qatar in June last year by Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with the last two of these countries the driving force behind the move. They accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. Qatar rejected the accusations and has moved quickly to deepen its ties with other countries inside the region – such as Iran, Oman and Turkey – and those further afield, including the US.

    Those efforts appear to be paying off, with a strategic dialogue held this week in Washington at which senior US administration figures emphasized the close ties between the two countries.

    #nuit_torride clap de fin ?


  • UAE says Qatar fighter jets intercept flight ; Doha denies it - ABC News
    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/uae-claims-qatar-fighter-jet-intercepts-commercial-flight-52351549

    aujourd’hui

    The United Arab Emirates on Monday claimed that Qatari fighter jets intercepted one of its commercial airliners in international airspace on the way to Bahrain, an allegation promptly denied by a Doha official.

    hier
    Qatar says Emirati plane violated airspace, UAE denies
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-gulf-qatar-emirates/qatar-says-emirati-plane-violated-airspace-uae-denies-idUSKBN1F035W

    Je précise à ceux qui ne suivent pas l’actualité du monde arabe qu’il ne s’agit pas de foot !

    Je pense qu’on est toujours dans #nuit_torride

    • Deux (?) incidents avec des avions militaires émiratis,

      Recently, Qatar accused Emirati military jets of violating its air space in December and January in two incidents, filing a complaint to the United Nations.

      Celui de décembre est décrit, mais je ne trouve pas trace de celui de janvier. Peut-être s’agit-il du dépôt de plainte ?

    • Mais il y a aussi l’info sur le prince qatari dont MbS a pu, un temps, penser qu’il pouvait l’utiliser comme pion …

      On Sunday night, an exiled Qatari ruling family member once promoted by Saudi Arabia amid its ongoing dispute with Doha appeared in an online video, claiming he’s being held against his will in the United Arab Emirates, an allegation denied by Abu Dhabi.

      The video of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, a little-known ruling family member until the Qatar crisis, also offered new fuel to the stalemated dispute. It also recalled the bizarre, now-reversed resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri while on a trip Riyadh, a Nov. 4 decision that was widely perceived as Saudi-orchestrated at the time.

      (info bien détaillée dans la légende de la photo dans ton billet)

      Exiled Sheikh Abdullah, once promoted by Saudi Arabia amid its ongoing dispute with Doha, appeared in an online video posted Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018, and aired by Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera, claiming he’s being held against his will in the United Arab Emirates, an allegation denied by an Abu Dhabi official.

    • ويوم أمس، انتشر مقطع مصور يظهر آل ثاني وهو يتهم ولي عهد أبو ظبي، محمد بن زايد، باحتجازه، محملاً الأخير المسؤولية عن أي أذى يلحق به. وقال آل ثاني، في التسجيل، «(إنني) كنت ضيفاً عند الشيخ محمد، (إلا أنني) الآن لم أعد في وضع ضيافة وإنما في وضعية احتجاز»، مضيفاً أن الإماراتيين أوعزوا إليه بعدم مغادرة المكان الذي يقيم فيه. وأعرب عن خشيته من أن «يحصل لي مكروه، ويقوموا بإلقاء اللوم على قطر»، مشدداً على أنه «إذا حدث لي شيء، فأهل قطر بريئون منه، والشيخ محمد هو من يتحمل المسؤولية».