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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Persian Gulf’

Hagel: US Staying in Gulf to Deter Iran

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

The United States will maintain a robust military presence in the Persian Gulf to deter Iran, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, although military action would be a last resort to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.

Hagel in a speech Tuesday to the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank described renewed efforts to get Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program through diplomacy.

“The United States is clear-eyed about the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead on this path, and the need for Iran to demonstrate its seriousness through actions,” Hagel said. “We will maintain a strong and ready military presence in the Persian Gulf, and the broader Middle East, to deter Iran’s destabilizing activities, and to work with and protect our allies and our interests.”

Israel, lawmakers in Congress, and pro-Israel groups have urged the United States not to relieve any pressure on Iran during negotiations as long as Iran does not take concrete steps to reduce its nuclear capability.

Hagel also said, describing U.S. policies toward Iran and Syria, where a civil war continues to rage, that a U.S. military option would be a “last resort.”

“Military force must always remain an option – but it should be an option of last resort,” he said. “The military should always play a supporting role, not the leading role, in America’s foreign policy.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was reassuring U.S. allies in the region, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, that the United States would only settle for concrete steps by Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

“It is only specific actions on which countries will be able to measure an outcome,” Kerry said in Riyadh Monday, where he met with his Saudi counterpart, Saud al Faisal, “and the outcome must be one that allows all of us to know that every day that we wake up we know that what is happening in Iran is a peaceful program and not one where they can be secretly moving towards a weapon that could threaten the stability of this region.”

Kerry headed from Riyadh to Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He said negotiations with Iran, renewed last month after Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, expressed interest in such talks, could take months.

Israeli and Saudi Arabian leaders have expressed wariness of extended talks, saying that Iran must not be given time to advance its nuclear program under the pretext of negotiations.

Bahrain to US: Stop Interference, Don’t Meet with Opposition

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

According to news reports in various Arab media, on Sunday, May 5, the cabinet of the island archipelago nation of Bahrain endorsed a parliamentary proposal to “stop interference by the U.S. envoy into the affairs of the kingdom.”

Bahrain, like most other Arab countries in the Middle East, has been experiencing political unrest, attributable to the wave of political revolution popularly known as the “Arab Spring.”  Minority citizens of this island nation have been clamoring for increased rights, especially the Shi’ite minority in this Sunni-dominated country. The ruling al-Khalifa family has aggressively and brutally responded to the incipient efforts at revolution.

The new legislation aimed at the United States is thought to have been motivated by one or both of two issues.

First, the U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, Thomas Krajeski, has been meeting with members of the Shi’ite opposition. He meets with many different constituencies.  According to a Reuters report, the Cabinet members instructed the government to stop the U.S. ambassador from engaging in “repeated meetings with those who inspire sedition.”

Second, on April 19, the U.S. State Department issued a report highly critical of Bahrain’s response to its own Cherif Bissioni Commission, an internal commission which lambasted its handling of the Arab Spring uprisings within the country.  The U.S. stated that “the most serious human rights problems included citizens’ inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention.”

The state department’s human rights report on Bahrain also found that forms of discrimination based on “gender, religion, nationality, and sect persisted, especially against the Shiite population.”

This report angered many Bahrainis.

Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and is among the Persian Gulf countries, such as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, that receive military equipment from the United States.

Secretary of State John Kerry was in Bahrain on April 30, during a swing through the Middle East. While there, Kerry met with Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa.  No public statements were issued, but human rights issues were believed to have been part of the discussions.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture was set to visit Bahrain in April to follow up on the Bissioni Commission report, but the visit was cancelled by the Al-khalifa regime last month.

On Monday, May 6, the U.S. Navy began exercises from its naval base in Bahrain with 41 other nations in the Persian Gulf.  These exercises will include anti-mine drills and search-and-seizure operations.  The U.S. led exercises are intended as a show of cooperation and force in response to an increasing maritime presence by Iran in the Gulf. The exercises are expected to continue until the end of May.

Bahrain is located in the Persian Gulf, with Saudia Arabia just to its west, and Iran 120 miles to its north, across the Gulf.

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.”

Ayatollah Launches Submarine as US Conducts Gulf Exercise

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Tensions between the US and Iran increased Tuesday, as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei order the launch of a Tareq-901 submarine and a Sahand navy destroyer into the Persian Gulf Iran as US and allied navies held drills there to practice keeping shipping lanes open.

The report was made by the official IRNA news agency.

The United States, Britain, France and a number of Middle Eastern states are conducting a naval exercise in the Gulf this week in response to repeated Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, a prime route for oil transport from the Persian Gulf, if Israel attacks Iranian nuclear sites.

Khamenei visited the northern coastal city of Nowshahr on Tuesday to attend naval exercises involving planting mines, destroying enemy vessels, and freeing hijacked ships.

As America Throws Israel Under the Bus…

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Generally reliable Shimon Shiffer reports in YNET:

The United States has indirectly informed Iran, via two European nations, that it would not back an Israeli strike against the country’s nuclear facilities, as long as Tehran refrains from attacking American interests in the Persian Gulf, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

According to the report, Washington used covert back-channels in Europe to clarify that the US does not intend to back Israel in a strike that may spark a regional conflict.

In return, Washington reportedly expects Iran to steer clear of strategic American assets in the Persian Gulf, such as military bases and aircraft carriers.

In “liberal-speak”, pundits say that countries don’t have allies, they have interests.  That’s incorrect; political leaders have interests…countries still have allies.

I hope that other representatives of the USA will stand with Israel, since it appears the current President would rather throw Israel under the bus…”Hey Iran, stay clear of us, and you can bomb Israel as much as you want.”

Thanks.

Report: Iran Conducted A-Bomb Test With North Korean Assistance

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

JERUSALEM – As senior members of the International Atomic Energy Commission acknowledged that Iran’s nuclear program has a military component, the German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag (World on Sunday) revealed that Western intelligence agencies believe the Iranian regime authorized North Korea to conduct a secret test of a nuclear weapon some time during 2010.

Hans Ruhle, a former German Defense Ministry official, told the newspaper that intelligence experts pored over information supplied by a Swedish nuclear physicist who had monitored North Korea’s nuclear tests.

If the reports are accurate, North Korea, which also supplied Iran with the technology to build the Shihab intercontinental ballistic missile, is playing a direct role in helping Tehran create the infrastructure to assemble nuclear warheads that can be mounted on missiles aimed at Israel, American military bases in the Persian Gulf and pro-Western oil sheikhdoms in the Middle East.

Ruhle maintained that for the moment Iran still lacks an independent capability to build its own nuclear weapon.

Last month, in an article he wrote for Welt Am Sonntag, Ruhle disputed the notion that the Israeli Air Force was incapable of knocking out Iranian nuclear facilities, claiming Israel could “easily” destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, Israel’s secret submarine program is proceeding at an accelerated pace at the Thyssen Shipyards in Emden and Kiel, Germany.

Two Super Dolphin submarines, reportedly equipped with highly long-range silent propulsion and cruise missile technologies, are being protected by dozens of German naval guards and are nearly ready for deployment to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Israel’s growing submarine fleet is being positioned for second-strike capabilities should Iranian mount a ballistic attack on Israel.

Russia Blasts Arab League Decision to Pull Observers

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Russia on Sunday lambasted the Arab League’s decision to suspend its observer mission in Syria after another deadly crackdown on anti-government dissidents.

“We are surprised that after a decision was taken on prolonging the observers’ mission for another month, some countries, particularly Persian Gulf countries, recalled their observers from the mission.”

Reports estimate that the death toll in the recent government crackdown has exceeded 210.

EU Gets Tough On Iran With Planned Oil Embargo

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

International pressure on Iran took a major step forward, as European foreign ministers declared their countries’ intent to embargo oil from the Islamic Republic, beginning as early as July, and freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank.

Iran, in anticipation of a possible oil embargo, was already embroiled in a war of words with the United States over Teheran’s threats to close the Straits of Hormuz, effectively strangling maritime commercial traffic in the Persian Gulf, when European Union leaders meeting in Brussels moved to toughen economic sanctions on the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

American Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta responded to Iranian defense officials’ threats to attack American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf by telling reporters that the United States was “fully prepared to deal with any Iranian threat” in the Gulf.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on an official visit to the Netherlands while the EU foreign ministers were meeting in nearby Belgium, praised Dutch support for the sanctions.

The United Nations also announced that a special mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency would travel to Iran at the end of this month to investigate international suspicions of a “military angle” to Iran’s feverish drive for nuclear power. Iran has repeatedly denied intentions of building nuclear weapons, but it has also subverted international efforts to verify the civilian scope of Iran’s plans.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/eu-gets-tough-on-iran-with-planned-oil-embargo/2012/01/19/

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