country:united arab emirates

  • THE ANGRY ARAB: The First Elected Egyptian President? The Death of Mohammad Morsi – Consortiumnews
    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/07/03/the-angry-arab-the-first-elected-egyptian-president-the-death-of-moh

    The year of Morsi was an interesting period in contemporary Egyptian history. It was by far the freest political era, where political parties and media flourished and the state tolerated more criticisms against the ruler than before or since. But young Egyptians who participated in the 2011 revolt stress the point that freedoms under Morsi were not so much a gift from the leader to the people as they were the result of insistence on their rights by the revolutionary masses. They had just managed to oust the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak and they were not going to settle for less than an open political environment.

    But that also did not last, and the rise of el-Sisi was entirely an affair hatched by foreign governments and the security apparatus of the state. Secular, liberal, Nasserists, and even some progressives were accomplices of the coup of 2013; they were alarmed with the Islamic rhetoric of the Brotherhood and some even resented the political rise of poorer Egyptians with an Islamist bend. el-Sisi knew how to appeal to a large coalition and to pretend that he would carry on the democratization of Egypt. But the signs were on the wall: the blatant role of the Saudi and UAE regime in his coup were not disguised, and el-Sisi was an integral part of the Egyptian state military-intelligence apparatus, whose purpose is to maintain close relations with the Israeli occupation state, and to crush domestic dissent and opposition.

    Morsi’s fate was sealed when he decided to coexist with the same military council that had existed in the age of Mubarak. He could have purged the entire top brass, and replaced them with new people who were not tainted with links to the Mubarak regime. Worse, Morsi made the chief of Egyptian military intelligence—the man who is in charge of close Israeli-Egyptian security cooperation—his minister of defense (that was el-Sisi himself). Morsi assumed that the military command would quickly switch their loyalty to the democratic order instead of the old tyrannical regime.

    #angry_arab #morsi #issi #égypte

  • U.A.E. Splits With U.S. Over Blame for Oil Tanker Attack in May - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-26/u-a-e-splits-with-u-s-over-blame-for-oil-tanker-attack-in-may


    A U.S. Navy vessel guards the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman.
    Photographer: Mumen Khatib/AFP via Getty Images

    The United Arab Emirates appeared to distance itself from U.S. claims that pinned attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on Iran.

    Honestly we can’t point the blame at any country because we don’t have evidence,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Wednesday in Moscow. “If there is a country that has the evidence, then I’m convinced that the international community will listen to it. But we need to make sure the evidence is precise and convincing.

    While an investigation by the U.A.E., Norway and Saudi Arabia concluded that a “state actor” was most likely behind the incident in May, no nation was singled out. Still, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has said that Iran was almost certainly responsible.

  • The U.S. is wrong about the Muslim Brotherhood — and the Arab world is suffering for it
    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-suffering-for-it/?noredirect=on

    Texte intégral de l’article:
    By Jamal Khashoggi

    August 28, 2018
    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.

    #démocratie #Islam #pays-arabes #Egypte #Sissi #Morsi #Révolutions-arabes #Trump #Etats-Unis #coup-d'état

  • Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect - Iran - Haaretz.com

    Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect
    U.S. officials rushed to point to Tehran, but somehow the world’s leading intelligence services failed to discover who is actually behind the strike. And even if they knew, what could be done without risking all-out war?
    Zvi Bar’el | Jun. 14, 2019 | 8:36 AM | 3
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/.premium-oman-attack-iran-is-the-immediate-but-unlikely-suspect-1.7368134


    A unnamed senior U.S. Defense Department official was quick to tell CBS that Iran was “apparently” behind the Thursday attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, followed by State Secretary Mike Pompeo who later told reported that it was his government’s assessment. There’s nothing new about that, but neither is it a decisive proof.

    Who, then, struck the tankers? Whom does this strike serve and what can be done against such attacks?

    In all previous attacks in the Gulf in recent weeks Iran was naturally taken to be the immediate suspect. After all, Iran had threatened that if it could now sell its oil in the Gulf, other countries would not be able to ship oil through it; Tehran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, and in any case it’s in the sights of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But this explanation is too easy.

    The Iranian regime is in the thrones of a major diplomatic struggle to persuade Europe and its allies, Russia and China, not to take the path of pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement. At the same time, Iran is sure that the United States is only looking for an excuse to attack it. Any violent initiative on Tehran’s part could only make things worse and bring it close to a military conflict, which it must avoid.

    Iran has announced it would scale back its commitments under the nuclear deal by expanding its low-level uranium enrichment and not transferring the remainder of its enriched uranium and heavy water to another country, as the agreement requires. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports reveal that it has indeed stepped up enrichment, but not in a way that could support a military nuclear program.

    It seems that alongside its diplomatic efforts, Iran prefers to threaten to harm the nuclear deal itself, responding to Washington with the same token, rather than escalate the situation to a military clash.

    Other possible suspects are the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who continue to pound Saudi targets with medium-range missiles, as was the case last week with strikes on the Abha and Jizan airports, near the Yemeni border, which wounded 26 people. The Houthis have also fired missiles at Riyadh and hit targets in the Gulf. In response, Saudi Arabia launched a massive missile strike on Houthi-controlled areas in northern Yemen.

    The strike on the oil tankers may have been a response to the response, but if this is the case, it goes against Iran’s policy, which seeks to neutralize any pretexts for a military clash in the Gulf. The question, therefore, is whether Iran has full control over all the actions the Houthis take, and whether the aid it gives them commits them fully to its policies, or whether they see assaults on Saudi targets as a separate, local battle, cut off from Iran’s considerations.

    The Houthis have claimed responsibility for some of their actions in Saudi territory in the past, and at times even took the trouble of explaining the reasons behind this assault or the other. But not this time.

    Yemen also hosts large Al-Qaida cells and Islamic State outposts, with both groups having a running account with Saudi Arabia and apparently the capabilities to carry out strikes on vessels moving through the Gulf.

    In the absence of confirmed and reliable information on the source of the fire, we may meanwhile discount the possibility of a Saudi or American provocation at which Iran has hinted, but such things have happened before. However, we may also wonder why some of the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world are having so much trouble discovering who actually carried out these attacks.

    Thwarting such attacks with no precise intelligence is an almost impossible task, but even if the identity of those responsible for it is known, the question of how to respond to the threat would still arise.

    If it turns out that Iran initiated or even carried out these attacks, American and Saudi military forces could attack its Revolutionary Guards’ marine bases along the Gulf coast, block Iranian shipping in the Gulf and persuade European countries to withdraw from the nuclear deal, claiming that continuing relations with Iran would mean supporting terrorism in general, and maritime terrorism in particular.

    The concern is that such a military response would lead Iran to escalate its own and openly strike American and Saudi targets in the name of self-defense and protecting its sovereignty. In that case, a large-scale war would be inevitable. But there’s no certainty that U.S. President Donald Trump, who wants to extricate his forces from military involvement in the Middle East, truly seeks such a conflict, which could suck more and more American forces into this sensitive arena.

    An escape route from this scenario would require intensive mediation efforts between Iran and the United States, but therein lies one major difficulty – finding an authoritative mediator that could pressure both parties. Russia or China are not suitable candidates, and ties between Washington and the European Union are acrimonious.

    It seems that all sides would be satisfied if they could place responsibility for the attacks on the Houthis or other terror groups. That is not to say that the United States or Saudi Arabia have any magic solutions when it comes to the Houthis; far from it. The war in Yemen has been going on for five years now with no military resolution, and increased bombardment of concentrations of Houthi forces could only expand their efforts to show their strength. But the United States would pay none of the diplomatic or military price for assaults on the Houthis it would for a forceful violent response against Iran itself.

    If sporadic, small-scale attacks raise such complex dilemmas, one can perhaps dream of an all-out war with Iran, but it is enough to look at the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan to grow extremely cautious of the trajectory in which such dreams become a nightmare that lasts for decades.❞
    #Oman #Iran
    https://seenthis.net/messages/786937

    • UPDATE 1-"Flying objects" damaged Japanese tanker during attack in Gulf of Oman
      Junko Fujita – June 14, 2019
      (Adds comments from company president)
      By Junko Fujita
      https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-tanker-japan-damage/update-1-flying-objects-damaged-japanese-tanker-during-attack-in-gulf-of-om

      TOKYO, June 14 (Reuters) - Two “flying objects” damaged a Japanese tanker owned by Kokuka Sangyo Co in an attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, but there was no damage to the cargo of methanol, the company president said on Friday.

      The Kokuka Courageous is now sailing toward the port of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates, with the crew having returned to the ship after evacuating because of the incident, Kokuka President Yutaka Katada told a press conference. It was being escorted by the U.S. Navy, he said.

      “The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole,” Katada said. “Then some crew witnessed the second shot.”

      Katada said there was no possibility that the ship, carrying 25,000 tons of methanol, was hit by a torpedo.

      The United States has blamed Iran for attacking the Kokuka Courageous and another tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, on Thursday, but Tehran has denied the allegations.

      The ship’s crew saw an Iranian military ship in the vicinity on Thursday night Japan time, Katada said.

      Katada said he did not believe Kokuka Courageous was targetted because it was owned by a Japanese firm. The tanker is registered in Panama and was flying a Panamanian flag, he said.

      “Unless very carefully examined, it would be hard to tell the tanker was operated or owned by Japanese,” he said. (...)

  • UAE says ’sophisticated’ tanker attacks likely the work of a state actor - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-emirates-tanker-probe-un/uae-to-present-tanker-attack-report-to-u-n-security-council-members-diploma


    A combination of undated photographs provided June 6, 2019 by the United Arab Emirates mission to the United Nations show underwater damage to the (clockwise from top left) Saudi Arabian tanker Amjad, Saudi Arabian tanker Al Marzoqah, Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and Emirati vessel A. Michel in the Port of Fujairah.
    UAE Mission/Handout via REUTERS

    The United Arab Emirates told United Nations Security Council members on Thursday that attacks on four tankers off its coast on May 12 bore the hallmarks of a “sophisticated and coordinated operation,” most likely by a state actor.

    In a document on the briefing to Security Council members, the UAE, joined by Norway and Saudi Arabia, did not say who it believed was behind the attacks and did not mention Iran, which has been accused by the United States of being directly responsible.

    The attacks required expert navigation of fast boats and trained divers who likely placed limpet mines with a high degree of precision on the vessels under the waterline to incapacitate but not sink them, according to the preliminary findings of the countries’ joint investigation.

    While investigations are still ongoing, these facts are strong indications that the four attacks were part of a sophisticated and coordinated operation carried out by an actor with significant operational capacity, most likely a state actor,” the three countries said in the document.

  • UAE’s Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed’s Growing Influence On The U.S. (ht...
    https://diasp.eu/p/9165414

    UAE’s Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed’s Growing Influence On The U.S.

    New York Times correspondent David Kirkpatrick says the UAE ruler has convinced President Trump to take an aggressive position against his enemies, including Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    #news #npr #publicradio #usa posted by pod_feeder_v2

  • Pour John Bolton, ce sont des “ mines iraniennes ” qui ont sauvagement attaqué les navires à l’ancre devant Fujairah. À son habitude, sans la moindre preuve…

    Top U.S. security adviser: Iranian mines likely caused UAE tanker blasts - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-emirates-bolton-idUSKCN1SZ0JO


    A damaged Andrea Victory ship is seen off the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019.
    REUTERS/Satish Kumar

    U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that naval mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates this month, and warned Tehran against conducting new operations.
    […]
    I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost certainly from Iran,” Bolton said without providing evidence. “There is no doubt in anybody’s mind in Washington who is responsible for this and I think it’s important that the leadership in Iran know that we know.

    He declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation into the attacks in which the United States, France, Norway and Saudi Arabia are taking part, but said those other countries and ship owners involved could do so.

    #whithout_providing_any_evidence

  • The #Houthis March South - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/79228

    However, the Houthi advance in the cities of central and southern Yemen is not only a result of own capability. Their advance has been aided by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s conflicting objectives and agendas, and their relationships with some of the groups backing the internationally recognized government. Notably, the coalition did not allow pro-government fighters to open up new fronts, such as in Qaniya (on the border between Bayda and Marib provinces) and in the Nihm district (northeast of Sanaa), which would have alleviated the pressure on forces in Bayda and Dalea. Instead, they only allowed some skirmishes in Saada province near the Saudi border.

    [...]

    Escalating tensions between the Yemeni government and Abu Dhabi also played a significant role in the Houthis’ military victories. The UAE apparently viewed the new parliament (which convened in Hadramout under the protection of Saudi troops), and its announcement of the National Alliance of Yemeni Political Forces, and the creation of the Southern National Coalition as a threat to its proxy forces—and even to the legitimacy of its intervention in #Yemen. In addition, several government ministers have recently been critical of the coalition’s actions. On May 5, Minister of Interior Ahmed al-Maysari (a member of the new SNC) described the Arab coalition as a partner in the war against the Houthi “revolutionaries,” but not a partner in administering liberated areas. Minister of Transportation Saleh al-Gabwani (likewise a top-ranking leader of the SNC) tweeted that the Arab coalition was refusing to grant permission to increase the number of flights from India to Yemen, even though all seats are being reserved by international organizations, saying, “What is left for us, coalition of brothers?”

  • Exclusive: Insurer says Iran’s Guards likely to have organized tanker attacks - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-oil-tankers-exclusive-idUSKCN1SN1P7


    Port officials take a photo of the damaged tanker Andrea Victory at the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, May 13, 2019.
    REUTERS/Satish Kumar/File Photo

    LONDON/OSLO (Reuters) - Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are “highly likely” to have facilitated attacks last Sunday on four tankers including two Saudi ships off Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, according to a Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters.

    The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Norway are investigating the attacks, which also hit a UAE- and a Norwegian-flagged vessel.

    A confidential assessment issued this week by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Mutual War Risks Insurance Association (DNK) concluded that the attack was likely to have been carried out by a surface vessel operating close by that despatched underwater drones carrying 30-50 kg (65-110 lb) of high-grade explosives to detonate on impact.

    The attacks took place against a backdrop of U.S.-Iranian tension following Washington’s decision this month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.

    The DNK based its assessment that the IRGC was likely to have orchestrated the attacks on a number of factors, including:
    • A high likelihood that the IRGC had previously supplied its allies, the Houthi militia fighting a Saudi-backed government in Yemen, with explosive-laden surface drone boats capable of homing in on GPS navigational positions for accuracy.
    • The similarity of shrapnel found on the Norwegian tanker to shrapnel from drone boats used off Yemen by Houthis, even though the craft previously used by the Houthis were surface boats rather than the underwater drones likely to have been deployed in Fujairah.
    • The fact that Iran and particularly the IRGC had recently threatened to use military force and that, against a militarily stronger foe, they were highly likely to choose “asymmetric measures with plausible deniability”. DNK noted that the Fujairah attack had caused “relatively limited damage” and had been carried out at a time when U.S. Navy ships were still en route to the Gulf.

    Both the Saudi-flagged crude oil tanker Amjad and the UAE-flagged bunker vessel A.Michel sustained damage in the area of their engine rooms, while the Saudi tanker Al Marzoqah was damaged in the aft section and the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory suffered extensive damage to the stern, DNK said.

    The DNK report said the attacks had been carried out between six and 10 nautical miles off Fujairah, which lies close to the Strait of Hormuz.

  • Comment Israël arme les dictatures à travers le monde

    Arming dictators, equipping pariahs: Alarming picture of Israel’s arms sales - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Extensive Amnesty report cites Israeli sales to eight countries who violate human rights, including South Sudan, Myanmar, Mexico and the UAE ■ Amnesty calls on Israel to adopt oversight model adopted by many Western countries ■ Senior Israeli defense official: Export license is only granted after lengthy process
    Amos Harel
    May 17, 2019 5:59 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-arming-dictators-equipping-pariahs-an-alarming-picture-of-israel-s

    A thorough report by Amnesty International is harshly critical of Israel’s policies on arms exports. According to the report written in Hebrew by the organization’s Israeli branch, Israeli companies continue to export weapons to countries that systematically violate human rights. Israeli-made weapons are also found in the hands of armies and organizations committing war crimes. The report points to eight such countries that have received arms from Israel in recent years.

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    Often these weapons reach their destination after a series of transactions, thereby skirting international monitoring and the rules of Israel itself. Amnesty calls on the government, the Knesset and the Defense Ministry to more tightly monitor arms exports and enforce transparency guidelines adopted by other Western countries that engage in large-scale weapons exports.

    In the report, Amnesty notes that the supervision of the arms trade is “a global, not a local issue. The desire and need for better monitoring of global arms sales derives from tragic historical events such as genocide, bloody civil wars and the violent repression of citizens by their governments …. There is a new realization that selling arms to governments and armies that employ violence only fuels violent conflicts and leads to their escalation. Hence, international agreements have been reached with the aim of preventing leaks of military equipment to dictatorial or repressive regimes.”

    >> Read more: Revealed: Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays

    The 2014 Arms Trade Treaty established standards for trade in conventional weapons. Israel signed the treaty but the cabinet never ratified it. According to Amnesty, Israel has never acted in the spirit of this treaty, neither by legislation nor its policies.

    “There are functioning models of correct and moral-based monitoring of weapons exports, including the management of public and transparent reporting mechanisms that do not endanger a state’s security or foreign relations,” Amnesty says. “Such models were established by large arms exporters such as members of the European Union and the United States. There is no justification for the fact that Israel continues to belong to a dishonorable club of exporters such as China and Russia.”

    In 2007, the Knesset passed a law regulating the monitoring of weapons exports. The law authorizes the Defense Ministry to oversee such exports, manage their registration and decide on the granting of export licenses. The law defines defense-related exports very broadly, including equipment for information-gathering, and forbids trade in such items without a license.
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    The law does not include a clause limiting exports when there is a high probability that these items will be used in violation of international or humanitarian laws. But the law does prohibit “commerce with foreign agencies that are not in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit or limit a transfer of such weapons or missiles to such recipients.”

    According to Amnesty, “the absence of monitoring and transparency have for decades let Israel supply equipment and defense-related knowledge to questionable states and dictatorial or unstable regimes that have been shunned by the international community.”

    The report quotes a 2007 article by Brig. Gen. (res.) Uzi Eilam. “A thick layer of fog has always shrouded the export of military equipment. Destinations considered pariah states by the international community, such as Chile in the days of Pinochet or South Africa during the apartheid years, were on Israel’s list of trade partners,” Eilam wrote.

    “The shroud of secrecy helped avoid pressure by the international community, but also prevented any transparency regarding decisions to sell arms to problematic countries, leaving the judgment and decision in the hands of a small number of people, mainly in the defense establishment.”

    The report presents concrete evidence on Israel’s exports over the last two decades, with arms going to eight countries accused by international institutions of serious human rights violations: South Sudan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. In some of these cases, Israel denied that it exported arms to these countries at specifically mentioned times. In other case it refused to give details.
    Israeli security-related exports

    In its report, Amnesty relies on the research of other human rights groups, on documentation published in the media in those eight countries, and on information gathered by attorney Eitay Mack, who in recent years has battled to expose Israel’s arms deals with shady regimes. Amnesty cross-checks descriptions of exported weapons with human rights violations and war crimes by those countries. In its report, Amnesty says that some of these countries were under sanctions and a weapons-sales embargo, but Israel continued selling them arms.

    According to the organization, “the law on monitoring in its current format is insufficient and has not managed to halt the export of weapons to Sri Lanka, which massacred many of its own citizens; to South Sudan, where the regime and army committed ethnic cleansing and aggravated crimes against humanity such as the mass rape of hundreds of women, men and girls; to Myanmar, where the army committed genocide and the chief of staff, who carried out the arms deal with Israel, is accused of these massacres and other crimes against humanity; and to the Philippines, where the regime and police executed 15,000 civilians without any charges or trials.”

    Amnesty says that this part of the report “is not based on any report by the Defense Ministry relating to military equipment exports, for the simple reason that the ministry refuses to release any information. The total lack of transparency by Israel regarding weapons exports prevents any public discussion of the topic and limits any research or public action intended to improve oversight.”

    One example is the presence of Israeli-made Galil Ace rifles in the South Sudanese army. “With no documentation of sales, one cannot know when they were sold, by which company, how many, and so on,” the report says.

    “All we can say with certainty is that the South Sudanese army currently has Israeli Galil rifles, at a time when there is an international arms embargo on South Sudan, imposed by the UN Security Council, due to ethnic cleansing, as well as crimes against humanity, using rape as a method of war, and due to war crimes the army is perpetrating against the country’s citizens.”

    According to Amnesty, the defense export control agency at the Defense Ministry approved the licenses awarded Israeli companies for selling weapons to these countries, even though it knew about the bad human rights situation there. It did this despite the risk that Israeli exports would be used to violate human rights and despite the embargo on arms sales imposed on some of these countries by the United States and the European Union, as well as other sanctions that were imposed by these countries or the United Nations.

    In response to letters written to the export control agency, its head, Rachel Chen, said: “We can’t divulge whether we’re exporting to one of these countries, but we carefully examine the state of human rights in each country before approving export licenses for selling them weapons.” According to Amnesty, this claim is false, as shown by the example of the eight countries mentioned in the report.

    Amnesty recommends steps for improving the monitoring of defense exports. It says Israel lags American legislation by 20 years, and European legislation by 10 years. “The lack of transparency has further negative implications, such as hiding information from the public,” Amnesty says.
    File photo: Personnel of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), assigned as South Sundan’s presidential guard, take part in a drill at their barracks in Rejaf, South Sudan, April 26, 2019.
    File photo: Personnel of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), assigned as South Sundan’s presidential guard, take part in a drill at their barracks in Rejaf, South Sudan, April 26, 2019.Alex McBride/AFP

    “The concept by which the Defense Ministry operates is that it is not in the public interest to know which countries buy weapons here, how much and under what conditions. This is an erroneous conception that stems from the wish to conceal, using the well-worn cloak of ‘issues of state security and foreign relations’ as an excuse,” it adds.

    “The veil of secrecy makes it hard to obtain data. In our humble opinion, the information we have gathered and presented in this report is the tip of the iceberg. Most of the evidence is based on official reports issued by the recipient states, such as the Facebook page of the chief of staff in Myanmar, or the site of the Philippine government’s spokesman.”

    The authors say attempts to maintain secrecy in an era of social media and global media coverage are absurd and doomed to fail.

    “Let the reasonable reader ask himself if the powers that sell weapons are concerned about harm to state security resulting from making the information accessible, or whether this is just an excuse, with the veil of secrecy protecting the interests of certain agencies in Israel.”

    Amnesty says Israel ranks eighth among the exporters of heavy weapons around the world. Between 2014 and 2018, Israel’s defense exports comprised 3.1 percent of global sales. Compared with the previous four years, this was a 60 percent increase. The three largest customers of heavy weapons sold by Israel are India, Azerbaijan and Vietnam.

    But the report says defense industries are not the largest or most lucrative contributors to Israeli exports. According to the Defense Ministry, defense exports comprise 10 percent of Israel’s industrial exports. “Defense-related companies in Israel export to 130 countries around the world,” the report says. “Of these, only a minority are countries designated by the UN and the international community as violators of human rights.”

    These are mostly poor countries and the scope of defense exports to them is small compared to the rest of Israel’s exports. According to Amnesty, banning exports to the eight countries would not sting Israel’s defense contractors or their profits, and would certainly not have a public impact. “There is no justification – economic, diplomatic, security-related or strategic – to export weapons to these countries,” the report says.

    Amnesty believes that “the situation is correctable. Israel’s government and the Defense Ministry must increase their monitoring and transparency, similar to what the vast majority of large weapons exporters around the world do except for Russia and China.”

    According to Amnesty, this should be done by amending the law regulating these exports, adding two main clauses. The first would prohibit the awarding of licenses to export to a country with a risk of serious human rights violations, based on international humanitarian law.

    The second would set up a committee to examine the human rights situation in any target state. The committee would include people from outside the defense establishment and the Foreign Ministry such as academics and human rights activists, as is customary in other countries.

    “Monitoring must not only be done, it must be seen, and the Israeli public has every right to know what is done in its name and with its resources, which belong to everyone,” the report says.

    A policy of obscurity

    A senior defense official who read the Amnesty report told Haaretz that many of its claims have been discussed in recent years in petitions to the High Court of Justice. The justices have heard petitions relating to South Sudan, Cameroon and Mexico. However, in all cases, the court accepted the state’s position that deliberations would be held with only one side present – the state, and that its rulings would remain classified.
    File photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a military commander along the Gaza border, southern Israel, March 28, 2019.
    File photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a military commander along the Gaza border, southern Israel, March 28, 2019.Itay Beit On/GPO

    Monitoring of exports has substantially increased since the law was passed, the official said. The authority endowed to the Defense Ministry by this law, including imposing economic sanctions, prohibition of exports and taking legal action against companies, are more far-reaching than in other countries.

    “The process of obtaining an export license in Israel is lengthy, difficult and imposes onerous regulations on exporters," he added. “When there is evidence of human rights violations in a country buying arms from Israel, we treat this with utmost seriousness in our considerations. The fact is that enlightened states respect the laws we have and are interested in the ways we conduct our monitoring.”

    He admitted that Israel does adopt a policy of obscurity with regard to its arms deals. “We don’t share information on whether or to which country we’ve sold arms,” he said. “We’ve provided all the information to the High Court. The plaintiffs do receive fixed laconic responses, but there are diplomatic and security-related circumstances that justify this.”

    “Other countries can be more transparent but we’re in a different place,” he argued. "We don’t dismiss out of hand discussion of these issues. The questions are legitimate but the decisions and polices are made after all the relevant considerations are taken into account.”

    The intense pace of events in recent months – rounds of violence along the Gaza border, Israel’s election, renewed tension between the U.S. and Iran – have left little time to deal with other issues that make the headlines less frequently.

    Israel is currently in the throes of an unprecedented constitutional and political crisis, the outcome of which will seriously impact its standing as a law-abiding state. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeds in his plan to halt all legal proceedings against him, legislating an immunity law and restricting the jurisdiction of the High Court, all other issues would pale in comparison.

    There is some logic to the claim that Israel cannot be holier than thou when it comes to arms sales in the global market, and yet, the Amnesty report depicts a horrific image, backed by reliable data, but also makes suggestions for improvement that seem reasonable.

    Numerous reports over the last year show that the problem is not restricted to the sale of light weapons, but might be exacerbated by the spread of cyberwarfare tools developed by Israel and what dark regimes can do with these. Even if it happens through a twisted chain of sub-contractors, the state can’t play innocent. Therefore, it’s worthwhile listening to Amnesty’s criticism and suggestions for improvement.
    Amos Harel

  • Pas d[e nouvelles]’ hypothèses sur l’origine des attaques (dont seule celle de l’attaque du pipeline par drones est revendiquée par les Houthis), mais l’article soulève le point commun qu’il s’agit dans les 2 cas de menaces sur une voie de contournement du détroit d’Hormuz.

    Constat qui donne implicitement une réponse unique à la question cui bono ?… Autrement dit, toujours sans répondre explicitement (!), qui a tout récemment menacé de fermer le détroit et… se porterait bien d’affaiblir les voies alternatives ?…

    Tanker attacks near UAE expose weaknesses in Gulf Arab security - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-oil-usa-iran-security-analysis-idUSKCN1SL1BD

    More than three days on, little information has been provided on where the ships were when they were attacked, what sort of weapon was used, and who did it.

    Navigational data indicated at least some of the ships may have been within nine nautical miles of the shore, well within UAE territorial sea. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has said at least one of them was further out, in the UAE’s exclusive economic zone where international law largely applies.

    Reuters and other journalists taken on a tour off the Fujairah coast saw a hole at the waterline in the hull of a Norwegian ship, with the metal torn inwards. A Saudi tanker they viewed showed no sign of major damage.

    Maritime security sources told Reuters that images suggest the damage was likely caused by limpet mines attached close to the waterline with less than 4 kg of explosives. One source said the level of coordination and use of mines were likely to rule out militant groups such as al Qaeda.

    It’s not those guys seeking publicity, it’s someone who wants to make a point without necessarily pointing in any given direction,” said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East and Africa editor for Jane’s Defence Weekly. “It’s below the threshold (for war).

    Jean-Marc Rickli, head of global risk and resilience at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, said the attacks could be a message that Iran has means to disrupt traffic.

    Saudi state oil company Aramco said output and exports were not disrupted by the attack on the pumping stations, but it temporarily shut the East-West pipeline to evaluate its condition.

    Both attacks targeted alternative routes for oil to bypass Hormuz. Fujairah port is a terminal of the crude pipeline from Abu Dhabi’s Habshan oilfields. The Saudi East-West line takes crude from eastern fields to Yanbu port, north of Bab al-Mandeb.

  • Attaques de Fujaïrah, le monde de l’assurance maritime réfléchit…

    London Marine Insurers to Meet After Ship Attacks in Middle East – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/london-marine-insurers-to-meet-after-ship-attacks-in-middle-east

    London’s marine insurance market will meet on Thursday to assess whether it needs to change the risk level for vessels in the Gulf after an attack on ships off the United Arab Emirates earlier this week, a senior official said on Wednesday.

    Such a move could lead to an increase in insurance premiums.
    […]
    At the moment there are not many facts or verifiable information (about the attacks on Sunday),” said [Neil Roberts, head of marine underwriting at Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA), which represents the interests of all underwriting businesses in London’s Lloyd’s market]..

    There is no decision yet on whether to change the listed areas of enhanced risk. There are a number of options, which include no change.

    He said any changes would take seven days to come into effect.
    […]
    It has not updated the list of high risk areas since June 2018. Its guidance is watched closely and influences underwriters’ considerations over insurance premiums.

    Some oil and shipping companies said they would have to alter their routes or take precautions near Fujairah since Sunday’s attacks.

    Japanese shipping group Nippon Yusen has already decided to refrain from sending tankers to Fujairah for bunkering, maintenance or crew swaps except for emergencies, a company spokesman said.

    Others such as Denmark’s Maersk Tankers told Reuters they were monitoring developments closely, with no impact on their operations in the area.

  • Libya’s Coming Forever War:Why Backing One Militia Against Another Is Not the Solution

    https://warontherocks.com/2019/05/libyas-coming-forever-war-why-backing-one-militia-against-another-is-

    Haftar’s Militias: Neither National nor an Army

    Trump’s call appears to rest on a mistaken but well-trodden narrative, advanced by Haftar’s forces, his Arab backers, and his western sympathizers, that the general’s “army” could deal a decisive military blow to Tripoli’s “Islamist and jihadist militias.” But this dichotomy is not anchored to current realities.

    After the 2011 revolution, as Benghazi fell into chaos and neglect, there was indeed a very real radical Islamist militia presence, which Haftar’s so-called Operation Dignity coalition started fighting in 2014. And some of these Islamists were later backed by hardline revolutionary factions in the western Libyan cities of Tripoli and Misrata. But since Haftar’s military victory in Benghazi and his consolidation of control over eastern Libya, the threat of Islamist militias has diminished significantly. So has Qatari and Turkish interference in Libya, especially compared to the still-robust role of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. In tandem, moderate and pragmatic Libyan factions sidelined the radical presence in Tripoli and Misrata, with many militant figures exiled, imprisoned, or killed. Thus, it is a mistake to portray Tripoli as awash with radical Islam and Haftar as a savior figure coming to eradicate it.

    Aside from this inflated “radical” narrative, Haftar’s forces are hardly the professional army they appear to be. They contain a significant irregular, localized militia component, which includes foreign fighters from Chad and Sudan. Our interviews with Libyan National Army personnel, U.N. officials, and observers indicate this militia component to be somewhere between 40 to 60 percent of the army’s total. To be sure, there is a nucleus of regular infantry, armor, air force, and military police units — and it is this professional face that accounts for the public support, based on a recent poll, that Libyans accord the Libyan National Army as a welcome alternative to the country’s unruly and rapacious militias. But even this narrative is shaky. One of Haftar premier regular units, the Sa’iqa (or Thunderbolt Battalion), often described in the press as an “elite” organization, has been implicated in a string of abuses, and one of its senior officers has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

    Moreover, ever since Haftar started his military campaign in Benghazi in 2014, he has relied heavily on locally constituted militias. Denoted by the euphemism “support forces” or “neighborhood youths,” these militias were tied to specific Benghazi suburbs, and many hailed from an influential local tribe, the Awaqir. These support forces acted, in effect, as rear area guards, but also assisted regular units in frontline assaults. As the conflict dragged on, they also engaged in violent vigilantism, attacking the homes and businesses of Benghazi families suspected to be loyal to Haftar’s Islamist opponents.

    The presence of conservative Salafists in the Libyan National Army also belies the notion that Haftar’s forces are an institutionalized, professional force. Backed by Muammar Qadhafi in the waning years of his rule, these Salafists had a presence in the former regime’s security forces and are doctrinally hostile to the political Islamists Haftar was fighting. Salafist fighters have been crucial frontline combatants for the Libyan National Army. In areas of the east that Haftar has taken over, they’ve enjoyed some latitude to try and enforce their version of Islamic social mores. All of this suggests that any Trump administration support for Haftar on ideological grounds is misplaced. He is certainly a foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the White House is unwisely trying to designate as a foreign terrorist organization. But he is no secularist.

    More recently, Salafists have joined Libyan National Army military units commanded by Haftar’s sons. This familial dimension of Haftar’s forces is yet more evidence that the Libyan National Army is not all that it seems. Our interviews with members of the group and its supporters suggest that with minimal military training, Haftar’s sons Khalid and Saddam were elevated to command positions, part of a broader trend of Haftar ruling through a tight clique of family members and confidantes from his tribe, the Firjan. In particular, Khaled’s unit, the 106th Brigade, has received high-end foreign equipment and weapons, leading to frequent comparisons to Libya’s most elite formation during the Qadhafi era, the 32d Reinforced Brigade, commanded by Qadhafi’s youngest son Khamis.

    Finally, the acquiescence and, in some cases, active support that Haftar’s Libyan National Army enjoyed from foreign powers have also been crucial to the army’s expansion. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France, and Russia each backed the Libyan National Army for their own reasons (whether anti-Islamism, border control, or counter-terrorism). Haftar, like many Middle Eastern proxies, has proved adroit at exploiting this patronage . And the United States also shoulders some blame: Though Washington reportedly halted military engagement with Haftar’s side in 2015, American diplomats, based on our interviews, evinced an increasingly accommodative stance toward the general, hoping to bring him into the political process and taking at face value his professed support for elections. They also adopted a muted position toward his military move across Libya’s vast southern region earlier this year, which Haftar’s camp likely perceived as a tacit green light.

    During this southern advance, a security and governance vacuum allowed the Libyan National Army to effectively flip locally constituted militias — including those guarding oil installations — with offers of cash and equipment. In turning to attack Tripoli, Haftar adopted a similar strategy, hoping local militias in Tripoli and its environs would come to his side, persuaded by a mix of cash, force, and self-interested political calculations. But that plan has backfired spectacularly. Disparate militias in Tripoli that had long been at loggerheads have unified against him. Even ordinary citizens who might have welcomed Haftar into the capital as relief from the militias are turning against him.

    Understanding the fractured political and security backdrop against which the Libyan National Army has encountered these obstacles is important for understanding why Trump’s faith in Haftar is misplaced.

  • En passant par les Émirats (à l’occasion des « sabotages » à Fujairah…) je découvre le tout nouveau Ministère des possibilités et ses quatre départements, dont celui du Prix comportemental, avec un système permettant de gagner des #bons_points monnayables.

    Saif Bin Zayed chairs Ministry of Possibilities’ first meeting
    https://gulfnews.com/uae/government/saif-bin-zayed-chairs-ministry-of-possibilities-first-meeting-1.63957800


    Shaikh Saif approved the Department of Behavioural Award’s plans during the Ministry of Possibilities meeting.
    Image Credit : WAM

    Dubai: Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, yesterday chaired the first meeting for the Department of Behavioural Award of the Ministry of Possibilities, which was launched to bring about a radical change in the current government work systems.

    During the meeting, Shaikh Saif approved the department’s action plans for the next phase, which includes setting a list of behaviours affecting society, and identifying incentives to stimulate good behaviour, in addition to developing a smart application to reach out to all segments of society.

    Shaikh Saif stressed that the UAE is pressing ahead with enhancing its success to improve the quality of life under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the creative initiatives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

    He stressed the ministry’s department of behavioural rewards is a pioneering initiative launched to promote positive behaviour among all members of the society, its institutions and to invest the positive potential of the UAE society within an institutional framework.
    […]
    Last April, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid launched the Ministry of Possibilities as the world’s first virtual ministry to apply design-thinking and experimentation to develop proactive and disruptive solutions to tackle critical issues, bringing together federal and local government teams and the private sector.

    The first phase of the ministry’s work will include several national programmes in the form of four departments which are:
    • Department of Anticipatory Services — it aims to redefine customer experience in all areas and provides anticipatory services to the public,
    • Department of Behavioural Rewards — it aims to develop an approach for incentivising positive behaviour through a point-based rewards system that can be used in payments for government services,
    • Department of UAE Talent — it aims to create a nurturing environment to empower Emiratis to be part of the country’s development and future design,
    • Department of Government Procurement — it aims to make government procurement faster and more accessible, especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

  • U.S. envoy urges response “ short of war ” to Gulf tankers attack - Energy & Oil - Reuters
    https://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFL5N22Q22D

    The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia said Washington should take what he called “reasonable responses short of war” after it had determined who was behind attacks on oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

    Iran was a prime suspect in the sabotage on Sunday although Washington had no conclusive proof, a U.S. official familiar with American intelligence said on Monday. Iran has denied involvement.

    We need to do a thorough investigation to understand what happened, why it happened, and then come up with reasonable responses short of war,” Ambassador John Abizaid told reporters in the Saudi capital Riyadh in remarks published on Tuesday.

    It’s not in (Iran’s) interest, it’s not in our interest, it’s not in Saudi Arabia’s interest to have a conflict.
    […]
    COOL HEADS MUST PREVAIL
    Newspapers in the UAE, which are heavily controlled by the government, ran editorials urging caution in responding to the attack, which risks undermining the Gulf Arab state’s image as a regional bastion of stability and security.

    While further details are yet to emerge about this worrying incident, cool heads must prevail, and proper measures should be taken to ensure that this situation does not spin out of control,” wrote the editorial board of Abu Dhabi-based The National.

    Gulf News, a state-linked Dubai daily, said “rogue actors must be brought to book”.

    Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Monday that the attack aimed to undermine security of global crude supplies.

  • Libyan Salafists fight alongside ’secular’ Hifter
    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/05/libya-eastern-salafists-hifter-gna-uae-egypt.html

    That a host of states — namely the United Arab Emirates and Egypt — have backed Hifter on the premise that only his forces can counter violent extremism is unquestionably paradoxical. Important to note is that there are major differences between Libyan Salafi groups, with some in Hifter’s camp and others against him.

    «#modérés»

  • Saudis’ troubled ties in region threaten Trump’s anti-Iran agenda

    https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/05/saudi-arabia-ties-arab-world-washington-iran-policy.html

    As the United States ups the pressure on Iran, the Donald Trump administration is relying on Tehran’s archenemy and longtime US ally Saudi Arabia to shore up regional support for its policies. Yet, strains in Riyadh’s relations in the Arab world could complicate matters.

    Saudi Arabia’s relations with its Arab neighbors are more troubled than usual, largely due to the impetuousness of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. While ties to a few neighbors are close, relations with many others are tense behind the scenes, with significant implications for the Trump administration’s policy in the region.

    The kingdom’s closest allies are Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, its partners in the blockade of Qatar. Saudi Arabia has long regarded Bahrain as a de facto protectorate. The Saudis reinforced their dominance over their small island neighbor in 2011 when it deployment troops across the King Fahd Causeway to repress protests by the Shiite majority. The troops are still there. The UAE and the kingdom pursue many identical policies but often with different strategies, most notably in regard to the war in Yemen.

  • Tom Stevenson reviews ‘AngloArabia’ by David Wearing · LRB 9 May 2019
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n09/tom-stevenson/what-are-we-there-for

    It is a cliché that the United States and Britain are obsessed with Middle East oil, but the reason for the obsession is often misdiagnosed. Anglo-American interest in the enormous hydrocarbon reserves of the Persian Gulf does not derive from a need to fuel Western consumption . [...] Anglo-American involvement in the Middle East has always been principally about the strategic advantage gained from controlling Persian Gulf hydrocarbons, not Western oil needs. [...]

    Other parts of the world – the US, Russia, Canada – have large deposits of crude oil, and current estimates suggest Venezuela has more proven reserves than Saudi Arabia. But Gulf oil lies close to the surface, where it is easy to get at by drilling; it is cheap to extract, and is unusually ‘light’ and ‘sweet’ (industry terms for high purity and richness). It is also located near the middle of the Eurasian landmass, yet outside the territory of any global power. Western Middle East policy, as explained by Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was to control the Gulf and stop any Soviet influence over ‘that vital energy resource upon which the economic and political stability both of Western Europe and of Japan depend’, or else the ‘geopolitical balance of power would be tipped’. In a piece for the Atlantic a few months after 9/11, Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne explained that Washington ‘assumes responsibility for stabilising the region’ because China, Japan and Europe will be dependent on its resources for the foreseeable future: ‘America wants to discourage those powers from developing the means to protect that resource for themselves.’ Much of US power is built on the back of the most profitable protection #racket in modern history.

    [...]

    It is difficult to overstate the role of the Gulf in the way the world is currently run. In recent years, under both Obama and Trump, there has been talk of plans for a US withdrawal from the Middle East and a ‘#pivot’ to Asia. If there are indeed such plans, it would suggest that recent US administrations are ignorant of the way the system over which they preside works.

    The Arab Gulf states have proved well-suited to their status as US client states, in part because their populations are small and their subjugated working class comes from Egypt and South Asia. [...] There are occasional disagreements between Gulf rulers and their Western counterparts over oil prices, but they never become serious. [...] The extreme conservatism of the Gulf monarchies, in which there is in principle no consultation with the citizenry, means that the use of oil sales to prop up Western economies – rather than to finance, say, domestic development – is met with little objection. Wearing describes the modern relationship between Western governments and the Gulf monarchs as ‘asymmetric interdependence’, which makes clear that both get plenty from the bargain. Since the West installed the monarchs, and its behaviour is essentially extractive, I see no reason to avoid describing the continued Anglo-American domination of the Gulf as #colonial.

    Saudi Arabia and the other five members of the Gulf Co-operation Council are collectively the world’s largest buyer of military equipment by a big margin. [...]. The deals are highly profitable for Western arms companies (Middle East governments account for around half of all British arms sales), but the charge that Western governments are in thrall to the arms companies is based on a misconception. Arms sales are useful principally as a way of bonding the Gulf monarchies to the Anglo-American military. Proprietary systems – from fighter jets to tanks and surveillance equipment – ensure lasting dependence, because training, maintenance and spare parts can be supplied only by the source country. Western governments are at least as keen on these deals as the arms industry, and much keener than the Gulf states themselves. While speaking publicly of the importance of fiscal responsibility, the US, Britain and France have competed with each other to bribe Gulf officials into signing unnecessary arms deals.

    Control of the Gulf also yields less obvious benefits. [...] in 1974, the US Treasury secretary, William Simon, secretly travelled to Saudi Arabia to secure an agreement that remains to this day the foundation of the dollar’s global dominance. As David Spiro has documented in The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony (1999), the US made its guarantees of Saudi and Arab Gulf security conditional on the use of oil sales to shore up the #dollar. Under Simon’s deal, Saudi Arabia agreed to buy massive tranches of US Treasury bonds in secret off-market transactions. In addition, the US compelled Saudi Arabia and the other Opec countries to set oil prices in dollars, and for many years Gulf oil shipments could be paid for only in dollars. A de facto oil standard replaced gold, assuring the dollar’s value and pre-eminence.

    For the people of the region, the effects of a century of AngloArabia have been less satisfactory. Since the start of the war in Yemen in 2015 some 75,000 people have been killed, not counting those who have died of disease or starvation. In that time Britain has supplied arms worth nearly £5 billion to the Saudi coalition fighting the Yemeni Houthis. The British army has supplied and maintained aircraft throughout the campaign; British and American military personnel are stationed in the command rooms in Riyadh; British special forces have trained Saudi soldiers fighting inside Yemen; and Saudi pilots continue to be trained at RAF Valley on Anglesey. The US is even more deeply involved: the US air force has provided mid-air refuelling for Saudi and Emirati aircraft – at no cost, it emerged in November. Britain and the US have also funnelled weapons via the UAE to militias in Yemen. If the Western powers wished, they could stop the conflict overnight by ending their involvement. Instead the British government has committed to the Saudi position. As foreign secretary, Philip Hammond pledged that Britain would continue to ‘support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat’. This is not only complicity but direct participation in a war that is as much the West’s as it is Saudi Arabia’s.

    The Gulf monarchies are family dictatorships kept in power by external design, and it shows. [...] The main threat to Western interests is internal: a rising reminiscent of Iran’s in 1979. To forestall such an event, Britain equips and trains the Saudi police force, has military advisers permanently attached to the internal Saudi security forces, and operates a strategic communications programme for the Saudi National Guard (called Sangcom). [...]

    As Wearing argues, ‘Britain could choose to swap its support for Washington’s global hegemony for a more neutral and peaceful position.’ It would be more difficult for the US to extricate itself. Contrary to much of the commentary in Washington, the strategic importance of the Middle East is increasing, not decreasing. The US may now be exporting hydrocarbons again, thanks to state-subsidised shale, but this has no effect on the leverage it gains from control of the Gulf. And impending climate catastrophe shows no sign of weaning any nation from fossil fuels , least of all the developing East Asian states. US planners seem confused about their own intentions in the Middle East. In 2017, the National Intelligence Council described the sense of neglect felt by the Gulf monarchies when they heard talk of the phantasmagorical Asia pivot. The report’s authors were profoundly negative about the region’s future, predicting ‘large-scale violence, civil wars, authority vacuums and humanitarian crises persisting for many years’. The causes, in the authors’ view, were ‘entrenched elites’ and ‘low oil prices’. They didn’t mention that maintenance of both these things is US policy.

    #etats-unis #arabie_saoudite #pétrole #moyen_orient #contrôle

  • IN PHOTOS: Israel and UAE fly together in annual joint exercise in Greece - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/in-photos-israel-uae-fly-together-in-annual-joint-exercise-in-greece-1.5935

    The Israeli Air Force is taking part in a joint exercise with the air forces of the United Arab Emirates and the United States, in Greece. Other nations also participating in the drill include Italy, the United Kingdom and Cyprus.

    A number of IAF F-16 jet fighters are participating in Iniohos, an annual exercise that resembles a complex, multi-threat combat environment to maximize the operational readiness of an air force.

    #new_middle-east

  • Saudi-led coalition reportedly shoots down its own drone
    https://defence-blog.com/news/saudi-led-coalition-reportedly-shoots-down-its-own-drone.html

    The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said that coalition air defense forces shot down a drone over Seiyun city.

    Colonel Turki al-Maliki, Arab Coalition spokesman, said that at 10:50 p.m. local time on Sunday, the Saudi Royal Air Defense System spotted the drone moving in the direction of a populated area in the Asir region.

    The drone was shot down before reaching its target and so far nobody had been reported injured by falling debris from the unmanned aerial vehicle, he said.

    According to a news report of the Saudi Press Agency, an Arab coalition air defense forces intercepted a Houthi drone aimed toward Saudi Arabia’s southern region of Asir.

    Some source reported that drone was shot down from the Patriot air defense system, that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed in the controlled territories in Yemen as early as 2015.

    However, when was released the first images from the crash site, it turned out that the coalition air defense shot down one of the Saudi Arabian CH-4B armed reconnaissance medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle.

  • Libya Is on the Brink of Civil War and a U.S. Citizen Is Responsible. Here’s What to Know
    https://news.yahoo.com/libya-brink-civil-war-u-145012004.html

    Who are Haftar’s international backers?

    Officially, they are few and far between. Every major state condoned the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), and Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. But in reality, some “were also having parallel conversations with different actors and that enabled those actors to disregard the legal process and go with the military process,” says Elham Saudi, co-founder of London-based NGO Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL).

    Those states include Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which want to curb the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya; Russia, which has treated wounded soldiers and reportedly printed money on behalf of Haftar; and France, which views him as key to stabilizing Libya and slowing the flow of migrants into Europe. Italy, which also wants to prevent migration through Libya, has fallen out with France over its tacit support of Haftar. “Nominally, of course, they’re on the same side, that of the U.N.-backed government,” says Joost Hiltermann, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group. “But in reality Italy and France are on opposite sides of this.”

    [...]

    ... no state has threatened sanctions or acted to affirm the legitimacy of the internationally-backed government in Tripoli. As such, Haftar has interpreted their warnings as an amber, rather than a red light, according to International Crisis Group. For LFJL’s Saudi, the current crisis is the “natural culmination” of the international community’s inconsistency and failure to affirm the rule of law in Libya. “The international agenda has been pure carrot and no stick,” she says. “What is the incentive now to play by the rules?”

    #Libye#communauté_internationale#droit_international

  • Three months into 2019, what’s the news in #crypto?
    https://hackernoon.com/three-months-into-2019-whats-the-news-in-crypto-d51962097a89?source=rss-

    The prolonged “crypto winter” combined with the numerous #ico exit scams were a significant body blow to the #blockchain-crypto space. But 2019 shows promise, with that let’s look at some of the significant market trends.ICO Landscape: ICOs take a deadly blowOverall the number of ICOs have dropped dramatically the world over, despite the efforts of some countries to create a conducive environment for launching an ICO. During Q1 of 2019, the number of ICOs fell by 61% when compared to Q4 of 2018.Funds raised ($MM) country-wisesourceIn terms of funds raised companies from countries such as the UAE and Cayman Islands have leapfrogged ahead of the usual suspects like UK and Singapore. UAE and Cayman Island companies attracted $142 million and $100 million respectively and accounted for 21% and (...)

    #investing #security-token

  • Oman’s Boiling Yemeni Border

    The Yemeni province of #Mahra, on the border with Oman, has not been reached by the war so far. However, Saudi Arabia – as Oman used to do to defend its influence – has started to support a large number of Mahari tribes. This has led to large community divisions in local tribal society, for the first time in the history of this eastern province. This support is not limited to the financial domain but also extends to the military. The spread of armed tribal groups has become a new feature in Mahra in light of the indirect Saudi-Emirati-Omani competition for regional leverage.

    In 2015, Yemen’s president, Abdurabo Mansour Hadi, fled to the Yemen-Oman border when the Houthis, along with their former ally Ali Abdullah Saleh, decided to invade Aden to arrest him. The president traveled to the remote provinces of the desert until he arrived in Mahra, through which he crossed the border into Oman. In the meantime, the Saudi-led coalition began its military operations to restore the legitimacy that the Houthis had gained.

    The border strip between Mahra and the Omani province of Dhofar is 288 kilometers long, starting from the coast of Haof district and ending in the heart of the desert at the border triangle between Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia: beyond the desert, there are few agricultural zones and the population lives along the border strip. Although the border area is divided between the two countries, the frontier communities in Mahra and Dhofar appear to be an ecosystem: tribes descend from a single tribe and share many historical, social and cultural constituents. In addition, they speak another language beside Arabic, namely “Mahriya” or “Jabali”, which is a Semitic language not spoken by the rest of Yemenis.

    This social cohesion in border areas has led Oman to deal with this ecosystem as a first line of defense to protect its security from any break-in. To this end, Oman has strengthened its relationships with Mahra society and provided Omani citizenship for many personalities in the area, especially after signing the border agreement with Yemen in 1992. It has also made it easier for those who do not have Omani citizenship to move to Oman. Despite Yemen’s upheavals since 2011, Mahra province has not been affected economically because it relied on Omani markets to obtain fuel and food, depending especially on a major shared market, the Al-Mazyounah, which is a few kilometers from Yemen’s Shihen border-crossing. This explains why Mahra province managed to remain economically autonomous from the other provinces. At the same time, this contributed to protecting the Omani border from any security breakthrough by extremist groups: most tribes are also grateful to the Omani state for this status quo. This does not mean that illegal activities are absent from this area: the smuggling of goods and vehiclesis widespread and recently many human trafficking cases in Dhofar were also recorded, but all the people involved in such activities are Mahris.

    However, the consequences of the war have extended to the border of Mahra province since mid-2015. The Houthis reduced the financial allowances of Mahra employees to a quarter of the amount required for the province, causing non-payment of salaries for many civil and military employees: many of them, especially non-Mahris, had to leave and return to their areas. This provoked a severe shortage of employees in security and service institutions: as a result, the then governor of Mahra handed out Mahra crossings to the tribes, surrounding the areas to take over the management of ports at a governorate level and transfer customs fees to the province’s account. Moreover, Oman provided the necessary fuel for the service facilities and distributed regular food aid to the population. In 2017, the tribes of Zabanout and Ra’feet began to quarrel over control of the Shihen crossing, each tribe claiming the port as part of its tribal area.

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to be present in the province of Mahra a few months later at the beginning of the military intervention in Yemen. In 2015 the UAE trained about 2,500 new recruits from among Mahra inhabitants, although they reportedly did not create an elite force due to tribal refusal, while providing a lot of assistance to rebuild the local police and existing security services. It also distributed food baskets and humanitarian aid to the residents of Mahra districts through the UAE Red Crescent Society.

    In the eyes of the sultanate, the UAE presence at its Yemeni border is perceived as unjustified: the two countries have disputes on several issues, most notably the border, especially after Oman accused Abu Dhabi of planning a coup in 2011 to overthrow Sultan Qaboos, which the UAE denied.

    The collapse of Yemeni state institutions and the military intervention of the Saudi-led coalition stunned Muscat, which found itself having to cope with new dynamics and a no more effective border strategy: these concerns have turned into reality. In January 2016 the Omani authorities closed the ports in the Shihen and Surfeet areas, and a few months later al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized control of the city of Mukalla, the capital of Mahra’s neighboring region of Hadramout. The stated rationale for Oman’s move was to protect its border security from any breakthrough of extremist groups. It is here worth noting that AQAP has never been close to Mahra or its border areas, due to local society, strongly attached to traditional Sufism, which has never accepted al-Qaeda’s ideology. In late 2017, when a group of Saudi-backed Salafists tried to establish a religious education center in Mahra’s Qashan, protests were held against them because locals reject this type of religious belief.

    However, observers believe that the real reason for the temporary closure of the ports was the result of political choices made by president Hadi and Khaled Bah’hah, the prime minister at the time: leaders of security and military services in Mahra were replaced by new leaders and the sultanate was uncertain regarding the future political direction of these appointments. It should be noted that, over the past few years, tensions have arisen between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one hand, and Oman on the other, because the sultanate adopted political attitudes not aligned with the Saudi-UAE politics in the region, especially in relation to Qatar and Iran.

    Oman was also accused by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi of providing access to arms and communications devices to be delivered to the Houthis. In August 2015 Marib province authorities seized a shipment of arms and ammunition for the Houthis at one of its checkpoints. In October 2015, the governor of Marib declared that military forces took possession of Iranian military equipment (including advanced communications equipment) in the province: according to their statement, this shipment was coming by land from the Sultanate of Oman. In November 2015, the Yemeni army dismantled an informal network involved in the smuggling of arms and explosives, as well as of military communications equipment, which entered through Mahra ports, said the army. In October 2016, Western and Iranian officials stated that Iran had stepped up arms transfer to the Houthis, and most of the smuggling crossed Oman and its Yemeni frontier, including by land routes. This was denied by the Sultanate of Oman in a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arguing that “the news of arms smuggling through Oman is baseless and no arms are passing through the lands of Sultanate”.

    Despite these allegations, there are smuggling routes towards Yemen that seem easier than passing through the sultanate’s borders. The Yemeni coastal strip on the Arabian Sea extends over 1,000 kilometers: this is a security vacuum area and is closer in terms of distance to the Houthis’ strongholds. In any case, smuggled arms or goods cannot reach the Houthis in northern Yemen without the help of smuggling networks operating in areas controlled by the legitimate government forces.

    In October 2017 the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a UAE-backed faction of the Southern Movement seeking independence for southern Yemen, tried to convince the former governor, Abdullah Kedda, to join the council, but he refused, asserting that he supports the authority of the legitimate government led by president Hadi. This disappointed the Saudi-led coalition, especially the UAE, which intends to promote the STC as the only entity representing the Southern Movement: the STC embraced the UAE’s agenda in the south.

    The Omani influence on the tribes of Mahra was a major motivation for Saudi Arabia’s military reinforcement in the region. In November 2017 Saudi forces entered the province and took over its vital facilities, including al-Ghaidha airport, Nashton port and the ports of Srfeet and Shihen on the border with Oman. The Saudis also deployed their forces in more than 12 locations along the coast of Mahra, and dismissed the airport employees.

    These developments worried Mahra inhabitants,pushing thousands into the streets in April 2018: they staged an open protest in the city of Ghaidha, demanding that Saudi forces to leave the facilities and institutions, handing them over to local authorities. Even famous Mahris such as Shiekh Ali Harizi, Shikh Al Afrar and Ahmed Qahtant, described the Saudis as an "occupation power"seeking to seize the resources of the province.

    Therefore, the war in Yemen has opened a subtle but acute season of popular discontent and regional rivalry in Mahra, stuck in a three-players game among Saudis, Emiratis and Omanis.


    https://www.ispionline.it/it/pubblicazione/omans-boiling-yemeni-border-22588
    #Yémen #Oman #frontières #conflit #guerre

  • UAE: Eight Lebanese Face Unfair Trial | Human Rights Watch
    https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/03/25/uae-eight-lebanese-face-unfair-trial

    (Beirut) – Emirati authorities detained eight Lebanese nationals for more than a year without charge in an unknown location, ill-treating them and denying them their due process rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Their trial, which began on February 13, 2019, continues to be marred with violations. The third session is set for March 27.

    Family members told Human Rights Watch that the defendants, who face terrorism charges, have been held in prolonged solitary confinement and denied access to their families, legal counsel, and the evidence against them. At least three detainees told family members that state security forces forced them to sign statements while blindfolded and under duress, and one said they forced him to sign a blank paper.

    “The UAE authorities reveal in their treatment of these men just how unwilling they are to reform their unjust state security apparatus,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These men deserve, at the very least, to be treated humanely and to receive a fair trial.”

    The men – all of whom are Shia Muslims – have each lived and worked in the UAE for more than 15 years. Seven worked at Emirates Airlines as flight attendants, pursers, or senior managers. Family members said that none had any known political affiliations.

    State security forces arrested one defendant between December 2017 and January 2018, three defendants on January 15, and four others on February 18, and continue to hold them in solitary confinement without access to legal assistance, family members said. At the second session of their trial, on February 27, the prosecutor charged them with setting up a terrorist cell with links to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah holds several key positions in the Lebanese government, yet is designated a terrorist organization in the UAE. Family members said that at least seven of the men still have not been able to meet with their lawyers and six remain in solitary confinement. All of the defendants deny the charges, family members who attended the hearings said.

    #Emirats nos amis clients et amis... #hezbollah