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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘gulf’

Has Iran Gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula?

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in DefenseNews, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.

According an unnamed “high level UAE source,” secretive talks taking place over six months led to a deal on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs finalized on Dec. 24: “For now, two of the three islands are to return to the UAE while the final agreement for Abu Musa is being ironed out. Iran will retain the sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land.”

This is big news, but yet bigger potentially is the source’s stating that “Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain, which is a very strategic point overlooking the whole gulf region. In return for Ras Musandam, Oman will receive free gas and oil from Iran once a pipeline is constructed within the coming two years.”

Both agreements center around the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil passageway and vulnerability.

The UAE deal involves the tiny but strategic islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs near the straits, occupied by Iranian forces since 1971, just as the UAE emerged as an independent country.

It’s not clear what granting to the Iranians “a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain” means but Musandam is the very tip of the Straits of Hormuz and Tehran winning access to any sort of military position there could enhance its ability to block the oil trade as well as make trouble on the peninsula.

Oman’s role in facilitating the UAE-Iran talks, says the source, was approved by Washington: “Oman was given the green light from Iran and the US to reach deals that would decrease the threat levels in the region and offset the Saudi Arabian influence in the future by any means.”

Comments:

(1) As if the Joint Plan of Action announced by the P5+1 and Tehran on Nov. 24 were not a disaster on the nuclear issue, it is also encouraging regional governments to appease the bellicose and ambitious Iranian regime.

(2) That the Obama administration seeks to “offset” Saudi influence with Iranian influence sounds unlikely – but given the geniuses occupying the White House these days, who knows? (January 15, 2014)

Jan. 18, 2014 update: The Middle East Forum’s Steven J. Rosen points out to me that news reports last month alleging Iranian concessions on the three Persian Gulf islands prompted a vehement denial from the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Dec. 11:

We have always emphasized that the issue of sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the Lesser Tunb, the Greater Tunb, and Abu Moussa cannot be the subject of Iran-UAE negotiations. … Any type of news fabrication on Iran-UAE negotiations on the sovereignty of those three islands is absolutely baseless, and sheer lies, and we categorically deny them.

In similar fashion, one would now expect an even stronger denial from Tehran, as well as one from Musqat, the capital of Oman.

Three days after the DefenseNews article, however, silence reigns. As best I can tell, news reports in all languages, including Arabic and Persian, on this alleged deal derive from that single report. This could either mean that its author, Awad Mustafa, struck gold or it is completely off the mark.

Will the Arab Spring Reach Jordan?

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Many claim that the Jordanian regime has emerged from the Arab Spring relatively unscathed. For example, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan was reported as stating in Yedioth Achronot in June 2012 that the Arab Spring would not reach Jordan and even if it did, “the regime would find the right way to satisfy the people’s wishes with reforms.” Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian Palestinian pro-democracy activist who is a political refugee, currently living in the United Kingdom claims otherwise.

Zahran, who says he has an extensive following among Jordan’s Palestinian population, argues that the Palestinian majority in Jordan is “angry to the fullest and have nothing to lose.” He further claims that as a whole, Jordan is experiencing rising foment among the general population against King Abdullah II, Jordan’s head of state. In short, “the situation in Jordan is bad.”

Zahran predicts that this year will be King Abdullah II’s last year in power in Jordan and that Abdullah II’s reign will not even survive the summer.

Even the native Bedouins, who were traditionally loyal to the Jordanian monarchy, are protesting openly for the king to be toppled, he says. “They have gone as far as surrounding his palace and telling him to leave the country,” Zahran explains. “All of his photos were burned in every Bedouin area and every refugee camp in Jordan.” For the first time in forty years, the Bedouins and the Palestinians are uniting together to topple the Jordanian monarchy.

Zahran claims that the Jordanian economy is on the verge of collapsing, accelerating the problem for the monarchy. “We have an inflation rate that exceeds Somalia and Ghana, and a growth rate that is less than Somalia, at 2.5 percent,” he said. “The national debt rate exceeds 75 percent of the GDP.”

For Jordanians, this horrendous economic situation brings back memories of the economic situation in 1989, when the Jordanians woke up one morning to find that their Jordanian currency had shrunk by half. Evidently, the prices of local stores in Amman are comparable to London and Tokyo, even though income per capita is 600 dollars less than Egypt, meaning that for the first time in the last 50 years Egyptians earn more than Jordanians.

According to Zahran, such a situation is not sustainable: “Jordan is a time bomb and the economic and political pressure will eventually make it explode.”

As a result, King Abdullah is desperate to save himself, Zahran says, claiming that Jordanian intelligence has been cooperating with the Assad regime over the last two months. Zahran asserts that Abdullah “has been sending back opposition figures to Assad, which is a death sentence for them, and he has been advocating at the Davos Forum that Assad will not fall, even playing on the fear factor that if Assad will fall al Qaeda will take over.”

While the king continues to paint himself as the main opposition to radical Islam, Zahran says he has made an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood which has been helping him crush secular opposition figures.

He claims that the secular opposition in both Syria and Jordan have no interest in fighting Israel and that it is they who dominate the revolution (though he concedes that the Muslim Brotherhood, with its enormous wealth, has the best shot at winning elections because no one is financially supporting the secularists). According to him, the Palestinians of Jordan, who make up the majority of the Jordanian population, are very liberal compared to Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza.

In addition to colluding with Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood, Zahran says that Abdullah is also reaching out to Iran. In parallel, Al Quds Al Arabi has reported that Iran has already offered Abdullah assistance in developing Jordan’s uranium wealth.

“The king is playing with fire and the Iranians could easily burn up Jordan,” Zahran declares. “They don’t care, just like they did in Lebanon, and they will burn any where as long as it is not on their own soil.”

Another Gaza?

While Zahran says such developments in Jordan require Israel to question its support for Abdullah, he reiterates that he does believe that when (not if) King Abdullah falls, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood will win elections as they are “the only one[s] with the money.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/will-the-arab-spring-reach-jordan/2013/04/09/

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