"... The former prime minister is understood to have been in Europe since his defection last June, ... His connection to the city dates back to the time he worked at the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) - a forum he later visited regularly as Libyan oil minister..."
Monday, April 30, 2012
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:32 PM
"(Reuters) ... An Israeli security fence already runs along the entire border but the military said defenses had to be bolstered with a 5-7 meter-(16-23 feet) high cement wall between the Israeli town of Metulla and the Lebanese village of Kila."(The wall is) intended to prevent firing from the Lebanese side into the Israeli side. In the past year and a half there have been a number of incidents," Colonel Amit Fisher, a senior commander on the border, told Israel Radio....Israel is also building a security fence in its south, along the border with Egypt's Sinai desert, citing concerns over militant activity and smuggling. An Israeli barrier also twists through the occupied West Bank."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:55 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:47 AM
"...Americans listening to these exchanges in Israel should draw several conclusions. First, we are seeing one of Israel's most admirable characteristics, which is free and vigorous debate among Israeli citizens enjoying liberal democracy. Whatever are the faults in that democracy—especially the part with a lot of people living under occupation and not enjoying political rights—there is still a part where such rights prevail....
Second, we should listen to the substance of what the experienced Israeli national-security professionals are saying. Diskin, for example, really did have a lot of experience observing Netanyahu in action. And Netanyahu really is exhibiting a combination of misplaced messianism and misleading the public.
Third, the Israeli debates are a reminder that the policies of the Israeli government of the day are not to be equated with the interests of Israel. Any government gets to define national interests, and the best way of pursuing them, as long as it is in power. But that definition is only an act of temporary control. Even in a democracy, the definition may be a narrow and warped version of a larger sense of the national interest. In the previous U.S. administration (which, of course, was ushered into office by hanging chad and a court decision), neoconservatives seized control of national-security policy—enough to start a major offensive war—but the resulting policy did not advance the national interest and did not even emerge from a majority sense of the national interest. Netanyahu's government is the product of coalition building under the Israeli electoral system amid ethnic and religious complexities and the weakness of parties of the Left and Center.
Finally, and related to the third point, Americans who consider themselves supporters of Israel ought to think carefully and hard about exactly what they are supporting. Falling in line with what Prime Minister Netanyahu is saying is most definitely not equivalent to supporting Israel. If it were, it would be as if—Republicans in particular ought to get this comparison—foreign endorsement of policies and pronouncements of Barack Obama were being used as the measure of friendship toward the United States. Passionate attachment to any foreign country has a bad enough effect on the security and interests of the United States. The effect is even worse when the attachment is to a particular foreign leadership that isn't even acting in the best interests of its own country."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:24 AM
Sunday, April 29, 2012
"Egyptians have a perceived notion that they once had a vital role in the political say of the Arab and Middle East’s affairs, and this role was diminished or even completely lost to the emerging political and economic influence of the Arabian Gulf countries (GCC), specifically, Saudi Arabia.While in reality, Egypt never had that alleged role, it is only a perception.....
Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has the primary elements of power to exert an influence in its geographical sphere, including Egypt, this country is not interested in appearing as a leader of the Middle East ....."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:49 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:41 PM
"... Israel has relied on Egypt for 40 percent of its natural gas needs. But the frequent disruptions have taken their toll on the Israeli economy............"It's completely political. If there are some problems between the partners they should try to solve it by dialogue. But they have not done it. The Egyptians just announced in a kind of surprise to us that they are nullifying the agreement," says Zvi Mazel, Israel's former ambassador to Egypt....
Mazel says Israel can always find gas elsewhere. But the peace deal, he says, is a bigger issue.
"It seems like a bad omen for the future," he says. "It's after all the problems that we had between us and Egypt, after the ouster of Mubarak, now we see the first cancellation of a treaty."..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:04 PM
(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Saturday it had recalled its ambassador from Egypt "for consultations" and closed its embassy and consulates in the country for security reasons after protests against the kingdom's arrest of an Egyptian lawyer.It was the first public rupture between the two major Arab states since last year's popular uprising in Egypt that forced Hosni Mubarak, a close ally of Riyadh, from power...
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:28 AM
".... The Co-operative Group has become the first major European supermarket group to end trade with companies that export produce from illegal Israeli settlements.The UK's fifth biggest food retailer and its largest mutual business, the Co-op took the step as an extension of its existing policy which had been not to source produce from illegal settlements that have been built onPalestinian territories in the West bank.
Now the retail and insurance giant has taken it one step further by "no longer engaging with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements".
The decision will hit four companies and contracts worth some £350,000. But the Co-op stresses this is not an Israeli boycott and that its contracts will go to other companies inside Israel that can guarantee they don't export from illegal settlements...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:20 AM
Saturday, April 28, 2012
"... When asked about Seif's comments during a March 12 interview on France's TF1 television, Sarkozy replied: "I am sorry to see you in the role of a spokeswoman for Kadhafi's son, frankly I've known you in better roles.... It's grotesque and I am sorry that I am being interrogated about declarations of Kadhafi or his son on an important channel like TF1," Sarkozy said.
"When one quotes Mr. Kadhafi, who is dead, his son, who has blood on his hands, that is a regime of dictators, assassins, whose credibility is zero (How convenient!) ... frankly, I think we have sunk low enough in the political debate."
Takieddine is already under investigation for his alleged role in the funding of Edouard Balladur's failed 1995 presidential campaign for which Sarkozy was spokesman...."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:36 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 12:09 PM
Very interesting 'letter' from YaM to PL;
"Pat,This time it is not about Egypt, though I will get back to Egypt in the near future. It is about the GCC countries.It is obvious that there is an unfavorable configuration developing rapidly.The sense in the GCC Capitals is that the US may “sell” these countries in any moment. That the US is not a reliable “anchor” in the current violent storm in the region. And that the US is weak – at best – or that it will let these ruling monarchies down in any grand bargain with Iran.Why this is a dangerous situation? Simply because it creates a psychological environment that can begets unneeded complications. The paranoia regarding the US led to the rejection of three US NGOs in the UAE, Riyadh ceasing to coordinate with its main ally regarding Egypt, the arrest of a royal Sheikh in RAK and many other incidents which reflect the general sentiment that could border panic.Obviously there is a real challenge in this part of the world. But due to the extreme sensitivity and importance of these countries, mistakes should not be allowed.You know the challenges as well as I do. Minorities ruling over majorities. Very closed ruling equation. Disregard of the deep changes occurring particularly in the middle class. A stagnant political and social environment. Unemployment real or disguised. Not very smart ways to address the youth ambitions. Discrimination against minorities. There is still quite a bit.The main challenge is how to convince the rulers that this way of governing ceases rapidly to be the adequate way due to regional and global changes.Mubarak used to mock Condoleezza Rice in every time she tried to explain to him the danger of not reforming the political and economic system as soon as possible. Mrs Clinton did not have a better luck with the former President. They do not seem to understand. But not to be able to understand after all what happened in Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Tunisia is frustrating.But how could that be dealt with? If the impression that these guys have (that the US can abandon them and maybe turn against them) is calculated, and I do not think it is, the only way to address this stubbornness is by doubling the effort to explain that the situation is critical whether by officials, scholars or other Arab friends of the US and the GCC.But obviously there is another view or views. I read recently an op-ed published in the Financial Times (23rd of April) by Emile Nakhleh who used to be the former director of the CIA Islam Strategic Analysis Program. Mr Nakhleh proposes that the US should pull its fleet out of Bahrain in protest after months of oppression of the Sheit majority by the ruling Sunnis.I personally understand Mr Nakhlah’s frustration but I can not disagree more with what he wrote. The op-ed added to many other things intensifies the perception that the US will not hesitate in abandoning its allies in the Gulf. This perception can lead to further complication in a moment when maximum clarity is needed.If you believe that I intend to stab you in the back, you will behave accordingly.Fortunately we are not there yet. But it is very important not to allow the situation to get there. The kind of approach should be based on a concerted effort focusing on the real challenges that these rulers face. They should believe that their antiquated view of redefining “us” against “them” ( Sunnis verses Shiites) is not going to carry them far. It will put any domestic issue on a regional level without even solving it.Now is not the time to talk about pulling the 5th fleet out of Bahrain, it is the time to regain the confidence of these monarchies in a plan to get the GCC a soft landing into..one should say, the future, but it is rather the present.People should be preoccupied with that particular mission. The lack of confidence that is building up extremely fast is dangerous for both sides. In the other hand, regaining the confidence on the same old bases will deprive the region of a soft landing into the required change, therefore opening up a situation that will be very messy indeed."Yusuf al-Misry"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:54 AM
With Governor Romney now the presumptive Republican nominee, it might be expected that foreign policy – hitherto the absent ghost at the political feast – might take a more prominent role. This is an area in which the Democrats – somewhat unusually – are feeling confident. On April 26th Vice President Biden delivered a robust defense of the Administration’s record, highlighting “tough decision” like the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the isolation of North Korean and Iran. He also faulted Romney’s self-acknowledged inexperience in this field and claimed that his proposed policies would return the US to the George W Bush era. Senior Republican foreign policy advisers to Romney have privately acknowledged to us their concern that President Obama enjoys a solid political position on international affairs and that it may be unproductive for the Republicans to attack him on that front. Instead, they are advising that Romney should focus on international economic policy so as to bring the discussion back to the domestic economy. We do expect Romney to probe for weaknesses on a few flash points – reduced defense spending, Israel and Iran, for example – but otherwise we do not expect foreign policy to play a decisive role. For the moment, most commentators agree that the Democrats have less need to feel concerned about charges of national defense “weakness” than is usually the case. The public’s relative disinterest in foreign affairs is nowhere better illustrated than on Afghanistan. Here, despite next month’s NATO summit in Chicago, discussion is confined to expert circles. Despite substantial worries from insiders, there is little public dissent from the Administration's line that, following the Western drawdown in 2014; the Afghan government and military will be able to uphold stability. On Iran, tension continues to ease in advance of the next round of talks on May 23rd in Baghdad. Pentagon contacts assure us that on his recent visit Defense Minister Barak accepted that no immediate military action is called for. As before, US officials remain deeply concerned about prospects for the presidential election in Egypt. A senior State Department analyst commented to us: “Egypt’s orientation seems to be in the balance. If this unravels, we will be dealing with an entirely different Middle East landscape.” In Asia, the Mat 3rd-4th session US-China Economic and Strategic Dialogue is being held amid signs of easing tensions with Beijing, but may be overshadowed by the flight of a Chinese dissident to the US Embassy.
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:18 AM
"...At least the slight pause has prompted protesters to brave a continued, heavy presence of armed itchy-fingered regime forces and take to the streets again. Some activists, worried that militarisation has turned Syrians against the uprising, are now calling for a reversion to solely peaceful protest..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 11:14 AM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 9:35 AM
Friday, April 27, 2012
"The U.S. Air Force is quietly assembling the world’s most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran. Stealthy F-22 Raptors on their first front-line deployment have joined a potent mix of active-duty and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles, including some fitted with the latest advanced radars. The Raptor-Eagle team has been honing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war.The fighters join a growing naval armada that includes Navy carriers, submarines, cruisers and destroyers plus patrol boats and minesweepers enhanced with the latest close-in weaponry..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:14 PM
"... One can hardly downplay the import of a diversion of significant IDF resources at a time when it is concentrating on the Iranian nuclear threat or of the heavy burden that such a realignment of forces might place on the Israel’s sorely stretched budget. And no one should harbor any doubt that a breakdown of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty will constitute nothing less than an unmitigated strategic disaster, not only for Israel but also for the moderate Arab world and the United States as well..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:10 PM
"... Turkey was, for a time, the only country that managed decent relations with all the regional powers, including Israel, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Long a geographic bridge between East and West, Turkey under Erdogan became the go-to marriage counselor in the violent and unstable Middle East — mediating secret talks between Israel and Syria, building a close strategic relationship with the Israelis, and nudging Iran to be more reasonable on the nuclear issue.During the last two years, however, Erdogan has shifted dramatically from honest broker to a more aggressive and often unpredictable course ..."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:08 PM
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:00 PM