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JONATHAN COOK: Israeli army will cash in on Egypt’s upheavals

February 22, 2011 Comments off

The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Global Research.
 

Israeli army will cash in on Egypt’s upheavals
©  Jonathan Cook
Source:  Global Research
February 22, 2011

Israel has been indulging in a sustained bout of fear-mongering since the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled earlier this month. The ostensible aim has been to warn the international community that the lengthy “cold peace” between the two countries is on the verge of collapse.

In reality, the peace treaty signed three decades ago is in no danger for the forseeable future. The Egyptian and Israeli armies have too much of a vested interest in its continuation, whatever political reforms occur in Egypt.

And if the Egyptian political system really does open up, which is still far from sure, the Israeli military may actually be a beneficiary – if for all the wrong reasons.

The main value of the 1979 Camp David treaty to the Israeli leadership has been three decades of calm on Israel’s south-western flank. That, in turn, has freed the army to concentrate on more pressing goals, such as its intermittent forays north to sow sectarian discord in Lebanon, its belligerent posturing towards first Iraq and now Iran in the east, and its campaign to contain and dispossess the Palestinians under its rule.

But since Mubarak’s ousting on February 11, Israeli politicians and generals have warned that democracy for Egypt is bound to empower the country’s Islamists, supposedly bent on Israel’s destruction.

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, compared a post-Mubarak Egypt with Iran, saying Israel was “preparing for the worst”. Likewise, Gabi Ashkenazi, the departing chief of staff, stated that Israel was braced for the peace treaty’s cancellation as the “moderate camp” weakened.

Officially, Tel Aviv’s concern is that, should the treaty be revoked, Israel will have to redirect much of its martial energy to preparing for potential hostilties with its neighbour, the most populous Arab state. Israel’s anxious declarations about the peace treaty, however, are largely self-serving.

Peace has reigned between Israel and Egypt because it is so strongly in the interests of both militaries. That is not about to change while the Egyptian and Israeli general staffs maintain their pre-eminent roles as the praetorian guards of their countries’ respective political systems.

Today’s close ties between the Israeli and Egyptian armies are a far cry from the earlier era of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who galvanised Arab nationalism in an attempt to defeat Israel, or his successor, Anwar Sadat, who almost led the Arab world to victory against the Israeli army in 1973.

Since the signing of the 1979 agreement, Washington has bought off the hawks on each side with massive military subsidies underwritten by the American taxpayer. The U.S. has been happy to bankroll an accord that strengthens Israel, its useful Middle Eastern ally, and buys the acquiesence of Egypt, the Arab state best placed to resist the current regional order.

The Egyptian army receives $1.3 billion in annual military aid, making it the second largest recipient after Israel, which gets more than twice as much. In addition, military hardware has been lavished on the Israeli army, making it possibly the fourth strongest in the world – an astonishing situation for a country of only seven million.

The munificence has continued despite the U.S. financial crisis, and includes Washington’s effective donation last year to Israel of two dozen of the next-generation F-35 stealth fighter jet as part of its pledge to maintain Israel’s “technological edge” over its rivals in the region.

Three decades of American money thrown at the two armies have made each a key player in their respective economies – as well as encouraging a culture of corruption in the senior ranks.

In Egypt’s case, large sections of the economy are controlled by retired generals, from electrical goods and construction companies to the production of olive oil and medicines. The army is reported to own about a third of the country’s assets.

The Israeli army’s economic stake is less ostentatious but no less significant. Its officers retire in their early forties on full pensions, and then cash in on their “security know-how”. Second careers in arms dealing, military consultancies or sinecures in Israel’s booming homeland security exports are all but guaranteed. Ehud Barak, a former chief of staff and the current defence minister, made millions of dollars from his security consultancy in a few years out of politics, for example.

Corruption, endemic in Israel’s political culture, has rapidly seeped into the military. Some of it is visible, as demonstrated this month with the passing over of a series of candidates for the vacant post of chief of staff because of the skeletons in their closets. Some is not: current investigations into dubious activities by Mr Ashkenazi and his family are subject to heavy reporting restrictions.

Nonetheless, both armies are revered by their countrymen. Even should that change in Egypt over coming months, the army is too strong – thanks to the U.S. – to be effectively challenged by the protesters.

Israeli hawks, however, are right to be concerned – on other grounds – about the “threat” of political reform in Egypt. Although greater democracy will not undermine the peace agreement, it may liberate Egyptians to press for a proper regional peace deal, one that takes account of Palestinian interests as the Camp David accord was supposed to do.

Not least, in a freer Egypt, the army will no longer be in a position to play Robin to Israel’s Batman in Gaza. Its continuing role in the strangulation of the tiny enclave would likely come to an end.

But in such a climate, the Israeli military still has much to gain. As Israeli analyst Aluf Benn has observed, Israel will use the Middle East’s upheavals to highlight to the U.S. that it is Washington’s only reliable ally – the so-called “villa in the jungle”. Its show of anxiety is also designed to remind the U.S. that a jittery Israel is more likely to engage in unpredictable military adventures.

The remedy, of course, is even greater American largesse. And for that reason, if no other, the fear-mongering from Tel Aviv is not about to end.

[End.]
__________

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Categories: EGY, IRN, ISR, Jonathan Cook, LEB, PAL, USA

RUSSIAN MEDIA: USA’s 2011 National Military Strategy: We’ve got the power!

February 10, 2011 Comments off

The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Pravda, Moscow.
 

USA’s 2011 National Military Strategy:  We’ve got the power!
©  Pravda.ru
By Sergei Balmasov
February 10, 2011

The USA has unveiled the 2011 National Military Strategy for the first time in seven years. The strategy, as usual, serves for the preservation of the U.S. predominance in the world. The appearance of the document is based on recent major changes on the planet. The authors of the strategy pointed out a number of challenges for the United States in particular and for the Western civilization in general.

U.S. strategists claimed that the shortage of resources in the world may trigger territorial disputes, which poses a direct threat to American interests. They are also concerned about the fact that the national debt of the United States “poses a significant national security risk.”

All of that is aggravated with a whole list of unsolved problems, which have become even more serious during the recent years. First and foremost, “the world’s preeminent power” has not been able to defeat terrorism and extremism. The war in Afghanistan continues, and the fire of Afghan unrest is spreading into neighboring Pakistan. The strategists of the U.S. national security wrote that terrorists had nested on the Arabian Peninsula, in the countries of north-western Africa and in Somalia.

Nevertheless, the authors of the document said: “We will be prepared to find, capture, or kill violent extremists wherever they reside when they threaten interests and citizens of America and our allies.” Therefore, it is not ruled out that the world will soon witness the USA launching another military adventure in the above-mentioned territories.

Secondly, the USA is concerned about the rising powers, India and China, as well as other regional powerful countries. The Americans are especially worried about China and its defense preparations in the Taiwan Strait.

In this connection, the Pentagon is not going to reduce its attention to South Asia and the Far East. However, the USA does not exclude increasing its military presence in potentially dangerous directions. “With partner nation support, we will preserve forward presence and access to the commons, bases, ports, and airfields commensurate with safeguarding our economic and security interests worldwide,” the strategy runs. Here, it goes about such old allies as Japan and South Korea.

Thirdly, the nuclear proliferation issue remains unsolved as well. North Korea has proved the possession of nuclear weapons to the whole world. Iran is just about to do the same. “The prospect of multiple nuclear armed regimes in the Middle East with nascent security and command and control mechanisms amplifies the threat of conflict, and significantly increases the probability of miscalculation or the loss of control of a nuclear weapon to non-state actors,” the document says.

To solve the problem, Washington intends to support regional allies, like Iraq, to develop the missile defense system, which Russia vehemently objects to, and to take defense measures against those violating the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The USA must be prepared to eliminate sources of weapons of mass destruction, the document runs.

Fourthly, by 2025, Washington predicts serious destabilization in a number of developing states because of the ongoing demographic explosion. The population of those countries will grow by 1.2 billion people, which will lead to serious food and water problems. “Conversely, in Europe and parts of Asia, populations are projected to decline and age with long term impacts to the global share of their economic output. Population growth and urbanization in the Middle East, Africa, and South Central Asia will contribute to increased water scarcity and may present governance challenges,” the report says.

In other words, the American supremacy is facing many challenges on different continents. One shall pay attention to the following telling phrase: “In this multi-nodal world, the military’s contribution to American leadership must be about more than power – it must be about our approach to exercising power.”

Thus, the U.S. National Military Strategy must be flexible to take account of all serious changes in the world. That is why the USA must be prepared to dealing with modern-day challenges without allies’ help.

“Let us not forget, the Nation remains at war abroad to defend against and defeat threats to our homeland. Our foremost priority is the security of the American people, our territory, and our way of life.” “We will pursue deliberate acquisition process improvements and selective force modernization with the cost effective introduction of new equipment and technology,” the report says.

U.S. strategists point out the necessity to maintain high prestige of the U.S. Armed Forces. According to the document, the state must continue to pay increased attention to improving the well-being of its defenders. “Just as our Service members commit to the Nation when they volunteer to serve, we incur an equally binding pledge to return them to society as better citizens. We must safeguard Service members’ pay and benefits, provide family support, and care for our wounded warriors,” the report runs.

Needless to say that the Americans could not leave Russia out of their attention. On the one hand, the document declares the intention to develop military partnership, continue the reduction of arms and build security in Central Asia in cooperation with Russia. As for the Asian security, the Americans, most likely, are planning to get Russia involved in the Afghan war.

The new strategy also mentions more important things about Russia. For instance, the USA is going to continue its cooperation with Canada regarding the issues of regional security, such as the development of the Arctic region. It is an open secret that Russia claims its right on the Arctic shelf, which infuriates Canada in the first place.

Here is another, rather expressive statement: “NATO members act as a stabilizing force on its perimeter, which ranges from the Middle East and the Levant, Northern Africa, the Balkans, and the Caucasus.” One shall assume that the Americans will continue to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs.

The authors of the new National Military Strategy are certain that the USA will preserve its economic and defense power in the foreseeable future. The USA still places its stake on brutal military force, which, as the authors of the report say, will contribute to America’s security and prosperity in the 21st century.

[End.]

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Categories: AFG, CAN, CHN, DPRK, IND, IRN, IRQ, JAP, NATO, PAK, RUS, S.KOR, SOM, TAI, USA, WORLD

Twitter, Facebook look engaged in U.S. policy, Armenian blogger says

February 7, 2011 Comments off

The following article is reprinted with permission from PanARMENIAN.net, Yerevan.
 

Twitter, Facebook look engaged in U.S. policy, Armenian blogger says
©  PanARMENIAN
February 7, 2011

(PanARMENIAN.Net) – Twitter and Facebook social networks are likely to be directly engaged in the U.S. policy, according to an Armenian blogger.

“With their central servers located in the U.S., these companies have to be subordinate to American laws and operate in the interested of the United States,” information security expert Tigran Kocharyan said in a conversation with a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

“The recent events in Egypt evidence of these websites’ policy, obviously coordinated with the White House. Parallel to Obama’s calls on Mubarak to start a dialogue with the opposition, Twitter and Facebook launched a campaign to support the rioters. Moreover, these companies helped the Egyptian opposition reach internet bypassing the governmental ban,” he said.

Kocharyan noted that the processing of so-called “twitter revolutions” started in 2009 in Moldavia and was successfully continued in cases with Iran, Tunisia and Egypt.

“The example of Egypt proved that total internet cutoff could not suppress the ‘twitter revolution’, which can be counterbalanced through monitoring and control over social networks only,” he said.

[End.]

See also Inteltrends’ Special Report:
The role of social networking websites in global unrest
Inteltrends, 29.Jan.2011

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Categories: ARM, EGY, IRN, MOL, TUN, USA, WORLD

STANISLAV MISHIN: How the Muslim Brotherhood Saved the U.S. Dollar

January 30, 2011 Comments off

The following column is reprinted with permission from Stanislav Mishin, a regular contributor to Russian newspaper Pravda.
 

How the Muslim Brotherhood Saved the U.S. Dollar
©  Stanislav Mishin
Source:  Mat Rodina
January 30, 2011

There are two truths that the Anglo Elites know all too well: democracy in the West means a ruling oligarchy with good PR, democracy in the Middle East means Islamic Jihadists and Fundamentalists. This has been a fact for many years and is not, in any way a shock or disconnect for any of the American elites now backing “democracy” revolutions.

1.  Iranian revolution, 1978-1979: Mass protests by a wide coalition against the King. Result? Mullahs take over.

2.  Egypt has free parliamentary elections. Results? The Muslim Brotherhood becomes the second most powerful party in the country, before being quickly banned.

3.  Americans allow free elections in Iraq. Results? Islamist parties become the main power blocks in power.

4.  Palestinians have free elections: Voters protest against corrupt regime. Result? Hamas is now running the Gaza Strip.

5.  Beirut Spring: Christians, Sunni Muslims, and Druze unite against Syrian control. Moderate government gains power. Result? Hezbollah is now the main political force in Lebanon.

6.  Algeria holds free elections: Voters back moderate Islamist group. Result? Military coup; Islamists turn (or reveal their true thinking) radical; tens of thousands of people killed.

Quite simply, the majority of the population has an insane infatuation with extremist Islam, be it Shiite or Sunni. Again, none of this is a surprise to the owners of the Anglo sphere. So why are they so actively backing revolutions and over throws throughout the Middle East?

Already a revolution has swept out the sectarian dictator of Tunisia, with Islamists quickly moving in. Exiled leader of Tunisian Islamist party returning to role in ‘new era of democracy’.

Protests, demonstrations and revolutions have now spread to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Albania, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Egypt is by far, the worst hit, with the government teetering, mass looting and violence becoming the norm and the Muslim Brotherhood riding high.

All of this, of course is nothing new, it is a rehash of past and present events. So, my astute readers are now asking, again, why are the Anglo Elites servicing these revolutions and how will this save the U.S. dollar, or at least stave off its death for a few more years?

To answer that one must understand that to be a vassal, er, an ally of the Anglos is worse than to be an enemy. At least an enemy knows where he stands, while an ally will be used and when his or her utilization has reached its max, will be betrayed, back stabbed and sold out as best suits the Anglos, be it an Irishman or a Half Arab who sits in the Oval Office.

So now the time has come for a new round of betrayals, to prop up the USD at the expense of allies. You see, dear reader, the U.S. dollar is the exchange currency for Oil and Gas and the higher the price, the more the USD is demanded. The more that is demanded, to buy the more expensive oil and gas, the more debt currency the U.S. private Federal Reserve gets to print up and drop off on the world, allowing for accumulation of real resources, worth real value, as well as continuing pointless Marxist programs and the off-shoring of American hyper inflation to the rest of humanity.

This is nothing new. The U.S. ‘colour revolutions’ were used in the Central Asian states, to create havoc in areas adjacent to oil. The first was in Uzbekistan, where the socialist dictator and U.S. ally, Karimov, has been designated for removal by a U.S.-sponsored Islamic revolution. Unfortunately for the Americans, Karimov had no problem massacring the American paid for revolutionaries. He followed this by ousting the U.S. base on his lands and running to Moscow for protection.

The U.S. dollar did not get its intended boost in the Central Asian territories, at that time, however, the Americans did not give up. Even if a revolution fails in the directly affected area, one can be staged in an adjacent area which will lead to further instability in the intended area, thus driving up the price of oil and gas. To that end, the Americans created and backed the civil war in Tajikistan, where Uzbeki fanatics, in the south of the country now have defacto rule and will export their jihad to their own mother country, thus ensuring high levels of instability for decades to come.

To that same end, the Americans are backing the revolutions on the periphery of the main oil fields of the Middle East, in full knowledge that this will spill further and further into the oil producing regions. That is the plan, after all.

Tunisia, itself, a small time oil producer, accounts for 40,000 barrels/day.

Algeria and Yemen have also faced mass protests, funded and organized by Western NGOs, even as the owners of those NGOs pretend to be sympathetic to the rulers of the countries in question. However, as in Uzbekistan, these rulers have and will continue to respond with massive force, making sure that their U.S.-sponsored, home grown Islamics do not get very far. In Yemen, early Sunday, the government arrested Tawakul Karman, a prominent journalist and member of the Islamist party Isiah. He had organized protests through text messages and emails. All of the Western press are playing their roll, screaming to the high heavens about this Islamic fundamentalist’s follow on release and her love of freedom, even though Fundamentalist Islam believes in Sharia and has no freedom, other than the right to murder unbelievers.

Jordan, one of the most stable regional powers, has also been rocked by protests, as more than 5,000 people took to the streets, demanding the King give up his power, to “the people”.

Egypt has not been so lucky. Its government has proven, so far, to be weak, with many in the military openly siding with the Islamic Brotherhood and its Western NGO backers. Looting in the streets is rampant, as is direct confrontation with those special police forces, and special forces, still loyal to the dictatorship. The end is only a matter of time.

Egypt itself is responsible for the production of 680,000 barrels of oil per day. While this is about 1-2% of the world total output, Egypt further plays a massive role, with the Suez Canal and the alternate Surned pipeline, of passing an additional 1 million barrels of crude bound for the European and American markets. It is bad enough with the Somali pirates pushing up the price of oil, or why do you think that a trigger-happy America willing to invade just about anyone it can, including once upon a time Somalia, suddenly is too timid to deal with a bunch of rag tag pirates?

Other protests have erupted in Morocco, Libya, Lebanon and even Albania. All around the edges of the major oil players.

More worrisome than disruptions to Egypt’s oil production is the prospect that the unrest spreads to other hard-line states in the region, such as Libya and Algeria, both members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Other countries in the region, including Tunisia and Yemen, have been wracked by anti-government protests in recent weeks, though neither is a major oil producer.

“If this thing spreads across the North African continent, gets into Libya, Algeria, then you’ve got trouble,” said Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report energy newsletter.

Finally, this whole process is now spilling into Saudi Arabia and soon possibly into the whole of the Gulf princedoms. The oil shocks will be profound and will be quick.

Already, with just the Egyptian upheavals, and as expected, just on the Thursday and Friday violence, oil went up over 4%, some $3.70 per barrel. Another similar rise can be expected this week, if not higher. When, not if, Mubarak’s government falls, oil should be expected to hit close to the $100 mark. With Nigeria also sinking into civil war, oil may well peak over $100/barrel by the end of February.

The American media and their other Western underlings and affiliates, are doing their part in colouring these as peoples’ fights for freedom and human rights. Of course they know full well what this will lead to: Islamic fundamentalism, which is the only result that this has ever led to. Then when this happens, when the correct end result is in place, those very same self-serving hypocrites, will throw up their hands and declare that they are shocked that those stupid, dirty Arabs could not make any go of “freedom” even after all the help they were given.

The Americans have been preparing for this for years. Many foolishly blame this on Obama, he is a part of this, but his is only the final chapter in the preparation for one of the last ditch efforts to stave off Judgment Day of the U.S. dollar and its debt built and house of cards economy.

“What happened in Georgia with the Rose Revolution and Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2003-2004 was part of a long-term strategy orchestrated by the Pentagon, the State Department and various U.S.-financed NGOs like Freedom House and National Endowment for Democracy to create pro-NATO regime change in those former Soviet Union areas and to literally encircle Russia,” author and researcher William Engdahl told RT.

“What is going on in the Middle East with the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia that we saw a few days ago, and now in Egypt with Mubarak in his 80s, and obviously a regime that is not exactly the most stable one, we have a food crisis taking place as a backdrop and the IMF coming and telling these countries to eliminate their state food subsidies so you have, of course, the explosive background for popular unrest. Within that you have these NGOs, like Freedom House, training activists and trade unions and various other organizations to demand democracy, demand human rights and so forth,” he added.

This earlier report by RT [“TV Novosti”] sums the process up even better:

Dr. William Robinson is one of the foremost experts on Washington’s democracy promotion initiatives, he wrote the book ‘Promoting Polyarhcy.’

“In Latin America, in Eastern Europe with the Velvet Revolutions, in Africa, in the Middle East, really all over the world, the U.S. set up these different mechanisms now for penetrating these civil societies in the political systems of countries that are going to be intervened and to assure the outcome is going to be pleasing to Washington’s foreign policy objectives,” said Robinson.

Lawrence Wilkerson, the former Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “We do this through surrogates and non-governmental organization and through people who are less suspecting of the evil that may lurk behind their actions than perhaps they were before. Have we learned some lessons in that regard? You bet! Do we do it better? You bet! Is it still just as heinous as it has always been? You bet!”

The Americans call this process Creative Destruction, that is the new catch phrase for world revolutions, no different than that which was exported from our own country while it was ruled by Anglo financed Marxists. While the PR may be promising and alluring, the results will be misery and death for those in ground zero: with tourism and industry fleeing fundamentalist regimes, resulting in yet more starvation and poverty, and a massive enrichment for the top 1% of the Anglo elite who could not give a bigger damn, no matter what their fully owned media mouth pieces may be saying.

The massive increases in the price of oil, as well as the increased demand for weapons by those states who border these areas, will line the pockets of thousands of executives and politicians in America, and to a smaller level, of England, for decades to come. If a war or three are spawned from this, even better.

Furthermore, with refugees and terrorism flooding Europe, which is finally starting to react violently to the virus that is attacking the body social at large, and the confiscation of European industry in Northern Africa, the Euro will be on the front lines of these new Islamic plagues, like never before. It will take another beating, with the dollar remaining a “safe” investment. Just another big plus, not to mention the new missions for NATO and that military-industrial complex, this will generate.

As for the American serfs, the little people? Well, the $6-10/gallon ($1.50-$2.25/liter) gasoline will crush them. Sure, the socialist welfare programs that their government will finance by selling yet more dollars, will help some, but it is a mild treatment for a terminal disease. Their falling wages, in the face of mass and growing unemployment as well as soaring inflation, will drag the last of the middle class into poverty and slavery. However, unlike the Arabs or the French or most other people of the world, they will do what their British cousins have been doing for the past 30 years, put up a stiff upper lip and accept this as their reality. And yes, as before, for the world at large, their owners in NYC, DC and London, could not really give a bigger damn.

A passive people, believing in their own illusionary freedoms and high on their own self importance, make for the best slaves and no where are there more such slaves than in the USA.

The rest of us will also have to live with an ever more violent world, courtesy of the biggest sponsor of Islamic insanity the world has ever had the sorry state of knowing.

[End.]

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Categories: ALB, ALG, EGY, EUR, IRN, IRQ, JOR, LEB, LIB, MOR, NATO, PAL, RUS, SAU, SOM, Stanislav Mishin, SYR, TAJ, TUN, USA, UZB, WORLD, YEM

Al-Qaeda Announces Holy War against Houthis

January 30, 2011 Comments off

The following article is reprinted with permission from Yemen Post, Sana’a.
 

Al-Qaeda Announces Holy War against Houthis
©  Yemen Post
January 30, 2011

Yemen Post Staff

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced on its website jihad (holy war) against the Houthi northern Shiites.

In an audio message posted on the Internet, Saeed Ali Al-Shihri, deputy leader of the Yemen-based (AQAP), said that Houthis in Sa’ada, Jawf, and Amran will face a strong war against them, calling on Sunni Muslims in northern Yemeni provinces to be with (AQAP). He accused Iran’s regime of backing Shiite rebels.

“Jihad against northern Shiites has been declared since the implementation of the AQAP’s twin martyred car bombing attacks against convoys of Shiite rebels’ in the northern provinces of Jawf and Sa’ada on Nov. 24 and Nov. 26 of the last year,” he said.

Last year two bombings occurred in northern Yemen with one targeting a procession on its way to celebrate a religious Zaidi ceremony, Eid Al-Ghadir, in Jawf killing almost 24 and wounded several others. The other targeted Houthi followers traveling in Sa’ada to participate in a funeral, killing two mourners and wounding eight.

[End.]

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Categories: AL Qaeda, IRN, YEM

Long-Range Question Mark

January 20, 2011 Comments off

The following commentary is reprinted with permission from International Relations & Security Network (ISN), Center for Security Studies, Zurich.

Long-Range Question Mark
©  Peter A Buxbaum
Source:  ISN Insights
January 20, 2011

The U.S. Air Force is pushing for enhanced long-range strike capabilities. The upcoming U.S. government budget will reveal whether the Obama administration will be going along.

The Obama administration will be submitting a proposed defense budget for fiscal year 2012 to the U.S. Congress in February. What is, or is not, included in that budget will provide clues as to the direction Obama intends to take the U.S. military.

A case in point: Will the administration request new funding for long-range strike capabilities? These are essentially strategic bombers that can penetrate enemy defenses from distances of thousands of kilometers.

The U.S. has reduced its long-range strategic bombing capability since the end of the Cold War, even shuttering the Strategic Air Command. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also scrapped a new long-range strike program in 2009.

A new strategic direction?

New funding for long-range strike in an era of budgetary constraints – “The gusher has been turned off,” Gates told his Department of Defense (DoD) underlings in a 2010 speech – would indicate a new strategic direction for the U.S. military. That’s because the so-called “long war” on terror, as it has been pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq, is up close and personal, with plenty of boots on the ground and air support coming from nearby bases and aircraft carriers operating in a permissive environment. The prevalent military posture led Thomas Donnelly, an analyst at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, at the height of the Iraq war in 2006, to decry the Bush-era Pentagon for its long-range strike ambitions.

But if the Obama administration intends to pursue these ambitions, it means it is looking beyond the current conflicts and toward the mitigation of future threats coming from potential adversaries such as China and Iran. The U.S. Air Force has renewed its push for long-range strike capabilities, a move with supporters in Washington.

“A stealthy, long-range strike aircraft is essentially a platform geared to conventional and semi-conventional national security strategies,” noted a report from the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington-based advocacy group. Forgoing a new long-range bomber “would be suitable for a national security strategy that bets all-in on an irregular strategy.”

The Air Force’s current bomber force lacks the capabilities to penetrate contested airspace and strike targets in future air campaigns, according to Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington-based bipartisan think tank. “Pentagon planners viewed long-range strike as a first day capability that would be needed to help rapidly halt invading enemy forces,” he told ISN Insights. “After that, short-range tactical aircraft flying from nearby bases in relatively permissive operating environments could carry out the majority of strike missions.”

Those assumptions led to 20 years of defense budgets that favored investments in short-range fighters at the expense of major new long-range strike programs. The B-2 program, the last bomber the Pentagon acquired, was stopped short at 20 aircraft, of the 132 originally contemplated, in the early 1990s.

U.S. and NATO operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq reinforced DoD’s planning assumptions, Gunzinger noted. But “on reevaluation, the Defense Department’s 1990s planning assumptions provide an unsuitable framework for assessing strike capabilities that may be needed for future operations,” he added. “Our adversaries went to school on us.”

China’s People’s Liberation Army, for example, is building up anti-access and area-denial capabilities (A2AD) with the apparent goal of extending its power to the western half of the Pacific Ocean and denying the U.S. access to that area. Chinese military and political doctrine holds that China should rule the waves out to the second island chain of the Western Pacific, which extends as far as Guam and New Guinea, essentially dividing the Pacific between the U.S. and China and ending U.S. hegemony on that ocean.

Among the A2AD capabilities being fielded by China are anti-satellite weapons; spaced-based reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition; electromagnetic weapons; advanced fighter aircraft; unmanned aerial vehicles; advanced radar systems; and ballistic and cruise missiles.

China and Iran have also hobbled U.S. power projection, Gunzinger noted, by moving potential targets inland, hardening or deeply burying potential targets, and increasing the mobility of key military systems, such as surface-to-air missiles and missile launchers.

Beating the drum of long-range strike

Gunzinger authored a detailed plan for beefing up U.S. long-range strike capabilities in a report entitled Sustaining America’s Strategic Advantage in Long-Range Strike, which was released by CSBA in September. Among other things, the report recommends that the U.S. develop and buy 100 penetrating stealth bombers with an unrefueled range of over 9,000 kilometers as well as a new cruise missile that could be launched from both long and short range.

CSBA is not alone in beating the drum of long-range strike. The liberal Center for American Progress has also advocated the procurement of a new long-range bomber, although one with more modest capabilities and lower cost than the B-2.

“Development of a new long-range bomber should focus on meeting the ambitious goal of fielding a new bomber by 2018 through the use of existing technology,” said a CAP publication. “The Air Force should not seek to acquire a ‘gold-plated bomber’ that can offer everything. Rather, the new bomber [should] incorporate existing technology, including low-observability, but not necessarily at the level of the B-2.”

CAP also pointed out in another report that extending the long-range projection of force by the U.S. military could save DoD $80 billion over 10 years by eliminating 50,000 current U.S. personnel now stationed in Europe and Asia.

The Air Force appears to be moving in the direction of requesting a scaled-down bomber program as recommended by CAP. In a recent speech, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley termed long-range strike a “priority.”

“We are confident that a modern long-range strike platform not only has been, but should remain, a critical tool in the nation’s arsenal,” he added. “But we are also cautious. Cautious not to repeat the painful experience of previous Air Force bomber programs: narrowly focused capabilities, high risk technologies, and high costs contributing to affordability problems, leading to program cancellations, or low inventories.”

Whether the Air Force gets what it wants will become apparent when the next U.S. federal government budget is unveiled in February.

[End.]
__________

Peter A Buxbaum a Washington, DC-based independent journalist, has been writing about defense, security, business and technology for 15 years. His work has appeared in publications such as Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Information Week, Defense Technology International, Homeland Security and Computerworld. He holds a Juris doctorate from Temple University and a Bachelor’s in political science and economics from Columbia University. His website is www.buxbaum1.com.

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IRAQ: How will Muqtada Al-Sadr save Hezbollah and Syria from Hariri’s indictment?

January 17, 2011 Comments off

The following article is reprinted with permission from Roads to Iraq, intel blog.

How will Muqtada Al-Sadr save Hezbollah and Syria from Hariri’s indictment?
©  Roads to Iraq
January 16, 2011

Managed to maintain its strength among the masses, Al-Sadr employed this force to achieve political gains ahead of all the other Islamic forces, holding forty parlia­mentary seats, seven ministries, and the parliament Deputy-presidency, which made the leader of the Movement a major political player with the ability to influ­ence the overall political process.This political weight would give Muqtada Al-Sadr a semi-immunity against emergency circumstances.

The real strategic secret behind Muqtada Al-Sadr’s return to Iraq is precisely calcu­lated. We already know that Al-Sadr has a strong relation with the Syrian leader­ship, as well as a special “family, organizational and logistical” ties with Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah, not to mention his relation with Iran, which is for Iraqi Shi­ite politicians is the highest Shiite political reference, and a strategic ally.

The International tribunal’s decision or indictment against for the assassination of “Hariri” is very close [Monday according to the French Le Monde], especially after the failure of the initiative “Syria and Saudi Arabia” with pressure from the U.S. and France.

We already know that the indictment will accuse members of the Lebanese Hezbollah and perhaps some Syrian officials. This will put the “Lebanese-Syrian-Iranian” front in a regional declaration of war.

Since Iraq has become linked geopolitical and logistically to Lebanon and vice versa. Iraq will be affected by any development in Lebanon, and this forced Al-Sadr to return to Iraq as quick as possible, to not to leave Lebanon, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran without insurance, protection from the weak Iraqi link. At the same Hezbollah, Syria and Iran will back the Sadrist Movement within the same strategy.

Here is Iraq’s FM Zebari saying:

Iraq was following up developments of the tribunal … We are also a party in this equation. We are not absent from U.S.-Iranian relations, [Iran’s] nuclear issue, the situation in Lebanon, the tribunal’s decision or indictment and from relations with Syria.

At this point, Al-Sadr will raise the readiness of the Sadrist Movement and all its military wings to open a front against the U.S. to ease the tension on Hezbollah and Syria, if both sense the danger of U.S.-Israel military activities.

This is what the Syria newspaper Al-Watan wrote two days ago:

Washington military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan … Will collide against the Arab and Islamic forces who do not accept and resist the American military intervention.

The return of Muqtada al-Sadr is a message to the Americans in the first place to reshuffle its agenda, The U.S. tried to identify the approach adopted by al-Sadr after his return in dealing with the overall political and security situation in Iraq, cir­culating the the leader of the movement is less radical than before, despite his focus on “resisting the occupation” in his recent speech “peacefully“.

Timed after Biden’s visit and his talks with Sistani (lasted about 3 hours in pri­vate), Al-Sadr adopted the “Liwa’a Al-Youm Al-Maoud” “The Promised Day” militia today and promised to continue the fight against the Americans, saying:

“Liwa’a Al-Youm Al-Maoud” belongs to us and is not affiliated to any one else. They are obedient and ask God to grant them victory.

Washington considers “the Promised Day”, “Hezbollah in Iraq”, “Revenge of God” and the “League of the Righteous” are militias linked and funded by Iran.

Because the Sadrists feel that they allowed Maliki to his second term, the pres­ence of its leader in the arena may influence the performance of the government and thus will force the prime minister to implement the U.S. withdrawal without delay according to the security agreement signed between the two sides, and that will put the Prime Minister in a very difficult position in the dramatic developments in Lebanon.

[End.]

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