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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Is this the biggest crisis of all?

Posted by Admin on March 31, 2011

Proportion of CDSs nominals (lower left) held ...

Credit Default Swaps held by U.S.A Banks

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/Is-biggest-crisis-equitymaster-812900507.html

On Thursday 31 March 2011, 8:30 AM

We seem to be living in rather fragile times. There is too much going on in the world that can yet again derail the global economy. There’s the oil price and then there’s the Middle East turmoil. The Japan earthquake was a sorry addition to the list. And not to forget, the US economy is still not completely out of danger, trillions of dollars worth of injections not withstanding.

Clearly, the battle seems to be on as to what will really upset the applecart this time around. But what if we say the most likely candidate is not even in the list of events that we just discussed. It has somehow got pushed to the backburner.

But perhaps not anymore. Forbes adds that a severe escalation in Europe‘s credit crisis has the capacity to cause a repeat of the 2008 meltdown. Indeed, the chance that anyone or all of the so called PIIGS nations could default keeps rising by the day.

Not a week goes without something nasty taking place in any one of these nations. The latest issue to flare up has its roots in Portugal. Apparently, the parliament of the peripheral European nation recently voted against austerity measures of any kind. Not surprisingly, the ratings agencies swung into action and promptly downgraded the country’s sovereign debt ratings.

Other of the PIIGS may not be far behind. Already, Greece, Ireland and Portugal are commanding a heavy premium over the other two in the highly punitive Credit Default Swaps (CDS) market. CDS is nothing but an instrument that helps insure against defaults by corporate or sovereign bonds. Higher the premium, greater is the probability of a default.

Forbes adds that if Italian or Spanish CDSs start being grouped alongside Ireland and Portugal, it could signal a tipping point of sorts. This will then lead to a problem that will not be solvable by tossing another 100 billion Euros at the problem. And it will be not just sovereign bonds that will be on the line. It can have a huge impact on the European banking system. Not to forget the flight to safety attitude of investors that could spark a global sell off.

Thus, there you go. For the next few weeks, do not worry about the Japan tragedy much. Neither do fret about how high oil is headed next. Keep an eye on those troubled Euro nations. Particularly the risk premium they are commanding in the default market. And this would be the key to unlocking the mystery of the direction of the global economy.

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Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Gadhafi

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23947

by Prof. Peter Dale Scott

Global Research, March 25, 2011

Peter Dale Scott’s Libyan Notebook
[Editor’s Note: Author’s selected quotations and analysis]

Preface

The world is facing a very unpredictable and potentially dangerous situation in North Africa and the Middle East. What began as a memorable, promising, relatively nonviolent achievement of New Politics – the Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt – has morphed very swiftly into a recrudescence of old habits: America, already mired in two decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sporadic air attacks in Yemen and Somalia, now, bombing yet another Third World Country, in this case Libya.


USS Barry launches a Tomahawk missile in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn in the Mediterranean Sea, March 19, 2011. US government handout

The initially stated aim of this bombing was to diminish Libyan civilian casualties. But many, senior figures in Washington, including President Obama, have indicated that the US is gearing up for a quite different war for regime change, one that may well be protracted and could also easily expand beyond Libya.1 If it does expand, the hope for a nonviolent transition to civilian government in Tunisia and Egypt and other Middle East nations experiencing political unrest, may be lost to a hard-edged militarization of government, especially in Egypt. All of us, not just Egyptians, have a major stake in seeing that that does not happen.

The present article does not attempt to propose solutions or a course of action for the United States and its allies, or for the people of the Middle East. It attempts rather to examine the nature of the forces that have emerged in Libya over the last four decades that are presently being played out.

To this end I have begun to compile what I call my Libyan Notebook, a collection of relevant facts that underlie the present crisis. This Notebook will be judgmental, in that I am biased towards collecting facts that the US media tend to ignore, facts that are the product in many instances of investigative reporting that cuts to the heart of power relations, deep structures, and economic interests in the region including the US, Israel, and the Arab States as these have played out over the last two decades and more. But I hope that it will be usefully objective and open-ended, permitting others to draw diverse conclusions from the same set of facts.2

I wish to begin with two ill-understood topics: I. Who Are the Libyan Opposition, and II. Where Are the Libyan Rebel Arms Coming From?

I. Who Are the Libyan Opposition

1) Historically:

“If Muammar Al Gaddafi behaved paranoid, it was for good reason. It wasn’t long after he reached the age of 27 and led a small group of junior military officers in a bloodless coup d’état against Libyan King Idris on September 1, 1969, that threats to his power and life emerged – from monarchists, Israeli Mossad, Palestinian disaffections, Saudi security, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), British intelligence, United States antagonism and, in 1995, the most serious of all, Al Qaeda-like Libyan Islamic fighting group, known as Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya. The Colonel reacted brutally, by either expelling or killing those he feared were against him.”3


Gaddafi and Nasser in a 1969 Photo.Getty image

2) National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL)

“With the aim of overthrowing Libyan strongman Muammar Khadafy, Israel and the U.S. trained anti-Libyan rebels in a number of West and Central African countries. The Paris-based African Confidential newsletter reported on January 5th, 1989, that the US and Israel had set up a series of bases in Chad and other neighboring countries to train 2000 Libyan rebels captured by the Chad army. The group, called The National Front for the Salvation of Libya, was based in Chad.”4

“US official records indicate that funding for the Chad-based secret war against Libya also came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Iraq. The Saudis, for instance, donated $7m to an opposition group, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (also backed by French intelligence and the CIA). But a plan to assassinate Gadafi and take over the government on 8 May 1984 was crushed. In the following year, the US asked Egypt to invade Libya and overthrow Gadafi but President Mubarak refused. By the end of 1985, the Washington Post had exposed the plan after congressional leaders opposing it wrote in protest to President Reagan.”5

“The FNSL [National Front for the Salvation of Libya] was part of the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition held in London in 2005, and British resources are being used to support the FNSL and other ‘opposition’ in Libya…. The FNSL held its national congress in the USA in July 2007. Reports of ‘atrocities’ and civilian deaths are being channeled into the western press from operations in Washington DC, and the opposition FNSL is reportedly organizing resistance and military attacks from both inside and outside Libya.”6

3) National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO),

“The main group leading the insurrection is the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition which includes the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). The NFSL, which is leading the violence, is a U.S.-sponsored armed militia of mostly Libyan expatriates and tribes opposed to al-Qaddafi.”7

4) Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, LIFG)

“The LIFG was founded in 1995 by a group of mujahideen veterans who had fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Upon their return to Libya they grew angry about what they viewed as the corruption and impiety of the Libyan regime and formed the LIFG to create a state that would show what they believed to be the true character of the Libyan people.

The most significant LIFG attack was a 1996 attempt to assassinate Gadhafi; LIFG members led by Wadi al-Shateh threw a bomb underneath his motorcade. The group also stages guerilla-style attacks against government security forces from its mountain bases. Although most LIFG members are strictly dedicated to toppling Gadhafi, intelligence reportedly indicates that some have joined forces with al-Qaida to wage jihad against Libyan and Western interests worldwide. ….
As recently as February 2004, then-Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that “one of the most immediate threats [to U.S. security] is from smaller international Sunni extremist groups that have benefited from al-Qaida links. They include … the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.”8

“In recent days Libyan officials have distributed security documents giving the details of Sufiyan al-Koumi, said to be a driver for Osama bin Laden, and of another militant allegedly involved in an “Islamic emirate” in Derna, in now-liberated eastern Libya. Koumi, the documents show, was freed in September 2010 as part of a “reform and repent” initiative organised by Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son….

The LIFG, established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, has assassinated dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen. In 2009, to mark Gaddafi’s 40 years in power, it apologised for trying to kill him and agreed to lay down its arms. MI6 [British Intelligence] has been accused in the past of supporting it. Six LIFG leaders, still in prison, disavowed their old ways and explained why fighting Gaddafi no longer constituted “legitimate” jihad. Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, another freed LIFG member, denied the official claims. “Gaddafi is trying to divide the people,” he told al-Jazeera. “He claims that there is an Islamist emirate in Derna and that I am its emir. He is taking advantage of the fact that I am a former political prisoner.”

Derna is famous as the home of a large number of suicide bombers in Iraq. It is also deeply hostile to Gaddafi. “Residents of eastern Libya in general, and Derna in particular, view the Gaddadfa (Gaddafi’s tribe) as uneducated, uncouth interlopers from an inconsequential part of the country who have ‘stolen’ the right to rule in Libya,” US diplomats were told in 2008, in a cable since released by WikiLeaks.

The last 110 members of the LIFG were freed on 16 February, the day after the Libyan uprising began. One of those released, Abdulwahab Mohammed Kayed, is the brother of Abu Yahya Al Libi, one of al Qaida’s top propagandists. Koumi fled Libya and is said to have ended up in Afghanistan working for Bin Laden. Captured in Pakistan, he was handed over to the US and sent to Guantánamo Bay in 2002. In 2009 he was sent back to Libya.9 US counter-terrorist experts have expressed concern that al-Qaida could take advantage of a political vacuum if Gaddafi is overthrown. But most analysts say that, although the Islamists’ ideology has strong resonance in eastern Libya, there is no sign that the protests are going to be hijacked by them.10


Libyan Islamic Fighting Group Members released

“Fierce clashes between [Qadhafi’s] security forces and Islamist guerrillas erupted in Benghazi in September 1995, leaving dozens killed on both sides. After weeks of intense fighting, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) formally declared its existence in a communiqué calling Qadhafi’s government “an apostate regime that has blasphemed against the faith of God Almighty” and declaring its overthrow to be “the foremost duty after faith in God.” [3] This and future LIFG communiqués were issued by Libyan Afghans who had been granted political asylum in Britain…. The involvement of the British government in the LIFG campaign against Qadhafi remains the subject of immense controversy. LIFG’s next big operation, a failed attempt to assassinate Qadhafi in February 1996 that killed several of his bodyguards, was later said to have been financed by British intelligence to the tune of $160,000, according to ex-MI5 officer David Shayler. [4] While Shayler’s allegations have not been independently confirmed, it is clear that Britain allowed LIFG to develop a base of logistical support and fundraising on its soil. At any rate, financing by bin Laden appears to have been much more important. According to one report, LIFG received up to $50,000 from the Saudi terrorist mastermind for each of its militants killed on the battlefield.” [2005]11

“Americans, Britons and the French are finding themselves as comrades in arms with the rebel Islamic Fighting Group, the most radical element in the Al Qaeda network [to bring down Gaddhafi]. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted the risks of the unholy alliance in a congressional hearing, saying that the Libyan opposition is probably more anti-American than Muammar Gaddhafi. A decade ago, this very same delusion of a Western-Islamist partnership in Kosovo, Bosnia and Chechnya ended abruptly in the 9/11 attacks.”12

“In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited ‘around 25’ men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are ‘today are on the front lines in Adjabiya.

Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters ‘are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,’ but added that the ‘members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader’.

His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, ‘including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries’.

Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against ‘the foreign invasion’ in Afghanistan, before being ‘captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan’. He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.

US and British government sources said Mr al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which killed dozens of Libyan troops in guerrilla attacks around Derna and Benghazi in 1995 and 1996.” (“Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links,” Daily Telegraph [London], March 25, 2011)

5) Transitional National Council

“A RIVAL transitional government to the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi looks set to win US and other international support as momentum builds to oust the longtime dictator.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed yesterday that the Obama administration was reaching out to opponents of Colonel Gaddafi. She said the US was willing to offer ‘any kind of assistance’ to remove him from power.

Protest leaders who have taken control in Libya’s eastern cities claim to have established a transitional “national council” that amounts to rival rule. They have called on the country’s army to join them as they prepare for an attack on the capital, Tripoli, where the Libyan leader retains control.

Confident the Libyan leader’s 42-year rule was coming to an end, Mrs Clinton said yesterday: ‘We are just at the beginning of what will follow Gaddafi.'”13

6) Facebook

“He [Omar El- Hariri, Chief of Armed Forces for the Transitional National Council] remained under close surveillance by the security forces until Feb. 17, when the revolution started. It was not initiated by prominent figures of the older generation, he said, but began spontaneously when Tunisia and Egypt inspired the youth. ‘Children of Facebook!’ he declared, in English, with a broad smile.”14

7) Oil

“Libyan rebels in Benghazi said they have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by leader Muammar Qaddafi whose assets were frozen by the United Nations Security Council.
The Transitional National Council released a statement announcing the decision made at a March 19 meeting to establish the ‘Libyan Oil Company as supervisory authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi, and the appointment of an interim director general” of the company.
The Council also said it “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.”15

Peter Dale Scott’s Libyan Notebook

II. Where Are the Libyan Rebel Arms Coming From?

Robert Fisk, “Libya in turmoil: America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels;
Obama asks Saudis to airlift weapons into Benghazi,” Independent, March 7, 2011:

“Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a “day of rage” from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.

Washington’s request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 ….

But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to disclaim any military involvement in the supply chain – even though the arms would be American and paid for by the Saudis.

The Saudis have been told that opponents of Gaddafi need anti-tank rockets and mortars as a first priority to hold off attacks by Gaddafi’s armour, and ground-to-air missiles to shoot down his fighter-bombers.

Supplies could reach Benghazi within 48 hours but they would need to be delivered to air bases in Libya or to Benghazi airport. If the guerrillas can then go on to the offensive and assault Gaddafi’s strongholds in western Libya, the political pressure on America and Nato – not least from Republican members of Congress – to establish a no-fly zone would be reduced.

US military planners have already made it clear that a zone of this kind would necessitate US air attacks on Libya’s functioning, if seriously depleted, anti-aircraft missile bases, thus bringing Washington directly into the war on the side of Gaddafi’s opponents.

For several days now, US Awacs surveillance aircraft have been flying around Libya, making constant contact with Malta air traffic control and requesting details of Libyan flight patterns, including journeys made in the past 48 hours by Gaddafi’s private jet which flew to Jordan and back to Libya just before the weekend.

Officially, Nato will only describe the presence of American Awacs planes as part of its post-9/11 Operation Active Endeavour, which has broad reach to undertake aerial counter-terrorism measures in the Middle East region.


US Awacs monitor Libya

The data from the Awacs is streamed to all Nato countries under the mission’s existing mandate. Now that Gaddafi has been reinstated as a super-terrorist in the West’s lexicon, however, the Nato mission can easily be used to search for targets of opportunity in Libya if active military operations are undertaken.

Al Jazeera English television channel last night broadcast recordings made by American aircraft to Maltese air traffic control, requesting information about Libyan flights, especially that of Gaddafi’s jet.

An American Awacs aircraft, tail number LX-N90442 could be heard contacting the Malta control tower on Saturday for information about a Libyan Dassault-Falcon 900 jet 5A-DCN on its way from Amman to Mitiga, Gaddafi’s own VIP airport.

Nato Awacs 07 is heard to say: “Do you have information on an aircraft with the Squawk 2017 position about 85 miles east of our [sic]?”

Malta air traffic control replies: “Seven, that sounds to be Falcon 900- at flight level 340, with a destination Mitiga, according to flight plan.”

But Saudi Arabia is already facing dangers from a co-ordinated day of protest by its own Shia Muslim citizens who, emboldened by the Shia uprising in the neighbouring island of Bahrain, have called for street protests against the ruling family of al-Saud on Friday.

After pouring troops and security police into the province of Qatif last week, the Saudis announced a nationwide ban on all public demonstrations.

Shia organisers claim that up to 20,000 protesters plan to demonstrate with women in the front rows to prevent the Saudi army from opening fire.

If the Saudi government accedes to America’s request to send guns and missiles to Libyan rebels, however, it would be almost impossible for President Barack Obama to condemn the kingdom for any violence against the Shias of the north-east provinces.

Thus has the Arab awakening, the demand for democracy in North Africa, the Shia revolt and the rising against Gaddafi become entangled in the space of just a few hours with US military priorities in the region. “16

“Libya rebels coordinating with West on air assault,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2011

“Reports from the region suggest that the Saudis and Egyptians have been providing arms. Though U.S. officials could not confirm that, they say it is plausible.”17

“Egypt Said to Arm Libya Rebels,” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2011:

“CAIRO-Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge, U.S. and Libyan rebel officials said.

The shipments-mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition-appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters. Those fighters have been losing ground for days in the face of a steady westward advance by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The Egyptian shipments are the strongest indication to date that some Arab countries are heeding Western calls to take a lead in efforts to intervene on behalf of pro-democracy rebels in their fight against Mr. Gadhafi in Libya. Washington and other Western countries have long voiced frustration with Arab states’ unwillingness to help resolve crises in their own region, even as they criticized Western powers for attempting to do so.

The shipments also follow an unusually robust diplomatic response from Arab states. There have been rare public calls for foreign military intervention in an Arab country, including a vote by the 23-member Arab League last week urging the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

The vote provided critical political cover to Western powers wary of intervening militarily without a broad regional and international mandate. On Thursday evening, the U.N. Security Council voted on a resolution endorsing a no-fly zone in Libya and authorizing military action in support of the rebels.

Within the council, Lebanon took a lead role drafting and circulating the draft of the resolution, which calls for “all necessary measures” to enforce a ban on flights over Libya. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar have taken the lead in offering to participate in enforcing a no-fly zone, according to U.N. diplomats.

Libyan rebel officials in Benghazi, meanwhile, have praised Qatar from the first days of the uprising, calling the small Gulf state their staunchest ally. Qatar has consistently pressed behind the scenes for tough and urgent international action behind the scenes, these officials said.

Qatari flags fly prominently in rebel-held Benghazi. After pro-Gadhafi forces retook the town of Ras Lanuf last week, Libyan state TV broadcast images of food-aid packages bearing the Qatari flag.


Anti-Gadhafi fighters in Benghazi

The White House has been reluctant to back calls from leaders in Congress for arming Libya’s rebels directly, arguing that the U.S. must first fully assess who the fighters are and what policies they will pursue if they succeeded in toppling Col. Gadhafi. U.S. officials believe the opposition includes some Islamist elements. They fear that Islamist groups hostile to the U.S. could try to hijack the opposition and take any arms that are provided.

The Egyptian weapons transfers began ‘a few days ago’ and are ongoing, according to a senior U.S. official. ‘There’s no formal U.S. policy or acknowledgement that this is going on,’ said the senior official. But ‘this is something we have knowledge of.’

Calls to Egypt’s foreign ministry and the spokesman for the prime minister seeking comment went unanswered. There is no means of reaching Egypt’s military for comment. An Egyptian official in Washington said he had no knowledge of weapon shipments.

The U.S. official also noted that the shipments appeared to come “too little, too late” to tip the military balance in favor of the rebels, who have faced an onslaught from Libyan forces backed by tanks, artillery and aircraft.

“We know the Egyptian military council is helping us, but they can’t be so visible,” said Hani Souflakis, a Libyan businessman in Cairo who has been acting as a rebel liaison with the Egyptian government since the uprising began.

“Weapons are getting through,” said Mr. Souflakis, who says he has regular contacts with Egyptian officials in Cairo and the rebel leadership in Libya. “Americans have given the green light to the Egyptians to help. The Americans don’t want to be involved in a direct level, but the Egyptians wouldn’t do it if they didn’t get the green light.”

Western officials and rebel leaders in Libya said the U.S. has wanted to avoid being seen as taking a leadership role in any military action against Mr. Gadhafi after its invasions of Iraq and Afganistan fueled anger and mistrust with Washington throughout the region.

But the U.S. stated clearly it wants Mr. Gadhafi out of power and has signaled it would support those offering help to the rebels militarily or otherwise.

A spokesman for the rebel government in Benghazi said arms shipments have begun arriving to the rebels but declined to specify where they came from.

“Our military committee is purchasing arms and arming our people. The weapons are coming, but the nature of the weapons, the amount, where it’s coming from, that has been classified,” said the spokesman, Mustafa al-Gherryani.

The U.S. official said Egypt wanted to keep the shipments covert. In public, Egypt has sought to maintain a neutral stance toward the rebel uprising in Libya. Egypt abstained during the Arab League’s vote calling for the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone on Mr. Gadhafi, according to people familiar with the internal Arab League deliberations.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian laborers are believed to still be in Libya.

On the other hand, the Egyptian military’s covert support for the rebels suggests that it has calculated that Mr. Gadhafi is unlikely to remain in power, at least in the eastern half of the country, and therefore Egypt is eager to begin to build good relations with the rebels.

Rebel forces in the past 24 hours appeared to make some progress fending off pro-Gadhafi forces’ assaults and have rolled out new weapons for the first time since the uprising began last month. Among them are rebel tanks that have taken up positions on the front lines in recent days. Rebels also launched fighter-jet attacks on government positions on Wednesday for the first time so far.

The tanks and fighter jets are believed to have been among the weapons seized by rebels from defected units of the Libyan army in the eastern half of the country, but they have received spare parts or trained mechanics from outside the country to help them deploy them, some rebel officials have speculated.
-Sam Dagher and Adam Entous contributed to this article.18

Benjamin Gottlieb, “Egypt Arms Libyan Rebels As Gaddafi’s Conquest Continues,” NeonTommy Annenberg Digital News, March 17, 2011:

Arms shipments from Egypt’s military have begun flowing across the border into Libya with U.S. knowledge, Libyan rebels and U.S. officials said Thursday.

Made up mostly of small arms, such as assault rifles and ammunition, the shipments are the first confirmed reports of an outside government supporting rebel fighters with weapons. Rebels have been loosing ground for days against pro-Gaddafi forces aiming to end the conflict before foreign intervention plans are finalized.

Although the U.N. approved a “no-fly zone” over Libya late Thursday, rebel forces fear that any planned foreign intervention would be too little to late.


No-Fly Zone

The shipment of arms indicated an unusually bold response by an Arab nation intervening in a conflict outside its borders. There have also been rare public decrees for the West to intervene in the conflict – the Arab League voted 23-0 last week encouraging the U.N. to impose the “no-fly zone” over Libya.

In spite of reports of arms flowing across the Egyptian boarder, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Menha Bakhoum told Reuters that Egypt would not be involved in any military intervention in neighboring Libya.

“Egypt will not be among those Arab states. We will not be involved in any military intervention. No intervention period,” Bakhoum said.

Bakhoum was responding to comments by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said Thursday that discussions were on the table regarding Arab involvement in U.S. and European intervention in the conflict.

Clinton has said repeatedly that the U.S. desires involvement from a neighboring Arab nation in any planned intervention.

A Libyan rebel government spokesman in Benghazi, Mustafa al-Gherryani, said rebels have begun receiving arms shipments from neighboring nations, however he declined to reveal their origin.

“Our military committee is purchasing arms and arming our people. The weapons are coming, but the nature of the weapons, the amount, where it’s coming from, that has been classified,” he said.19

Yoichi Shimatsu, “Mideast Revolutions and 9-11 Intrigues Created in Qatar,” New America Media, March 1, 2011

“It may puzzle and perhaps dismay young protesters in Benghazi, Cairo and Tunisia that their democratic hopes are being manipulated by an ultra-conservative Arab elite which has underhandedly backed a surge of militant Islamist radicals across North Africa. Credible U.S. intelligence reports have cited evidence pointing to Qatar’s long-running support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and jihadist fighters returning from Afghanistan.

The links to Qatar uncovered by anti-terrorism investigators in the wake of 9-11 need to be reexamined now that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an on-and-off affiliate of Al Qaeda, has seized armories across half of the North African country. Libya’s well-stocked arsenals contain high-power explosives, rocket launchers and chemical weapons. LIFG is on the State Department’s terrorist list.

Most worrying, according to a U.S. intelligence official cited by CNN, is the probable loss of chemical weapons. The Federation of American Scientists reports that, as of 2008, only 40 percent of Libya’s mustard gas was destroyed in the second round of decommissioning. Chemical canisters along the Egyptian border were yet to be retrieved and are now presumably in the hands of armed militants.

After initially letting slip that the earliest Libyan protests were organized by the LIFG, Al Jazeera quickly changed its line to present a heavily filtered account portraying the events as ‘peaceful protests’. To explain away the gunshot deaths of Libyan soldiers during the uprising, the Qatar-based network presented a bizarre scenario of 150 dead soldiers in Libya having been executed by their officers for ‘refusing to fight’. The mysterious officers then miraculously vacated their base disappearing into thin air while surrounded by angry protesters! Off the record, one American intelligence analyst called these media claims an ‘absurdity’ and suggested instead the obvious: that the soldiers were gunned down in an armed assault by war-hardened returned militants from Iraq and Afghanistan….
According to a Congressional Research Service report of January 2008, ‘Some observers have raised questions about possible support for Al Qaeda by some Qatari citizens, including members of Qatar’s large ruling family. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Qatar’s Interior Minister provided a safe haven to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed during the mid-1990s, and press reports indicate other terrorists may have received financial support or safe haven in Qatar after September 11, 2001.’

The national security chief, Interior Minister Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, is further mentioned as paying for a 1995 trip by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed ‘to join the Bosnia jihad.’ The report recalls how after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, FBI officials “narrowly missed an opportunity to capture” the suspect in Qatar. ‘Former U.S. officials have since stated their belief that a high-ranking member of the Qatari government alerted him to the impending raid, allowing him to flee the country.'”20


Peter Dale Scott
, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of
Drugs Oil and WarThe Road to 9/11The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of WarHis most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to AfghanistanPeter Dale Scott is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan.
His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.

Notes

1 “Defense Secretary Gates, who recently warned against any further protracted US ground war, said on March 23 that the end of military action in Libya is unknown and could last longer than a few weeks. ‘I think there are any number of possible outcomes here and no one is in a position to predict them,’ Gates told reporters in Egypt” (C-Span, March 24, 2011).

2 Interested readers may wish to consult my first exploration, “Googling ‘Revolution’ in North Africa.”

3 Dan Lieberman, “Muammar Al Gaddafi Meets His Own Rebels,” CounterCurrents.org, March 9, 2011.

4 Joel Bainerman, Inside the Covert Operations of the CIA & Israel’s Mossad (New York: S.P.I. Books, 1994), 14.

5 Richard Keeble, “The Secret War Against Libya,” MediaLens, 2002.

6Petroleum and Empire in North Africa. NATO Invasion of Libya Underway,” By Keith Harmon Snow, 2 March 2011.

7 Ghali Hassan, “U.S. Love Affair with Murderous Dictators and Hate for Democracy.” Axis of Logic, Mar 17, 2011.

8 Center for Defense Information, “In the Spotlight: The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG),” January 18, 2005

9 Qadhafi was concerned about Al Qaeda terrorism in Libya, and in 1996 Libya became the first government to place Osama bin Laden on Interpol’s Wanted List (Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror [New York: Columbia UP, 2002], 142). Thereafter American and Libyan intelligence collaborated closely for some years against Al Qaeda. Beginning when?

10 Ian Black, “Libya rebels rejects Gaddafi’s al-Qaida spin,” Guardian, March 1, 2011.

11 Gary Gambill, “The Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Jamestown Foundation,” Terrorism Monitor, May 5, 2005,; citing Al-Hayat (London), 20 October 1995 [“communiqué”]; “The Shayler affair: The spooks, the Colonel and the jailed whistle-blower,” The Observer (London), 9 August 1998; Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Ben Laden: La Verite interdite (Bin Ladin: The Forbidden Truth). Cf. also Annie Machon, Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers: MI5, MI6 And the Shayler Affair (Book Guild Publishing, 2005) [Shayler].

12 Yoichi Shimatsu, “Attack on Libya: Why Odyssey Dawn Is Doomed,” New America Media, March 20, 2011.

13 “US reaches out to Libyan insurgents,” The Australian, March 1, 2011,

14 “How a onetime friend to Gadhafi became his rival,” Globe and Mail [Toronto], March 4, 2011.

15 Libyan Rebel Council in Benghazi Forms Oil Company to Replace Qaddafi’s,” Bloomberg, March 22, 2011.

16 Robert Fisk, “America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels,” Independent, March 7, 2011.

17 “Libya rebels coordinating with West on air assault,” Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2011.

18 “Egypt Said to Arm Libya Rebels,” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2011,

19 Benjamin Gottlieb, “Egypt Arms Libyan Rebels As Gaddafi’s Conquest Continues,” NeonTommy Annenberg Digital News, March 17, 2011.

20 Yoichi Shimatsu, “Mideast Revolutions and 9-11 Intrigues Created in Qatar,” New America Media, March 1, 2011. The al-Thani family’s protection of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is confirmed by former CIA officer Robert Baer (Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2003). Cf. Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil (New York: Crown, 2003); Peter Lance, Triple Cross (New York: Regan/HarperCollins, 2006), 234-37.

Peter Dale Scott is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Peter Dale Scott

 

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Observations

Posted by Admin on March 21, 2011

"The Blue Marble" is a famous photog...

Mother Earth

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Greetings to All from the Starship Athabantian. We join you today to offer our observations of the situation on your planet from our perspective many miles above you.

First our observations about the physical changes you are currently seeing. The extraordinarily severe weather in Australia is part of earth’s cleansing process, as is the abnormally snowy and cold winter in the east of the United States. You will experience more of this colder than normal weather in parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. You will also experience above average rainfall and snow along with the cold. During the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, you will experience warmer than normal weather and will see increased melting of glaciers and icecaps. This will contribute to rising sea levels around the world this year. This is a continuation of the extreme weather you saw during 2010 that affected such countries as Pakistan.

Earthquakes such as experienced in New Zealand will occur with more frequency, particularly around the Pacific Rim of Fire. Areas long dormant will also experience earthquakes, along with volcanic activity. These will increase during this year as a part of Earth’s cleansing. As with extreme weather, these are a continuation of earthquakes such as experienced in Chile and China in 2010. Much of the above can be traced to the energies coming to Earth from the sun and elsewhere in this galaxy. These energies are changing the natural balance heretofore achieved on Earth.

These energies are also impacting individual humans. It is external energies that have encouraged people in the Middle East and Africa to assert their freedom from tyranny. It is energies that have supported them as they risk death in order to achieve freedom. These energies are manifesting themselves among people first in countries where the rule has been the harshest. Next it will manifest itself around the world where the needs of ordinary people are subverted to the desires of greedy elites.

Elites around the world have known these events would occur for some time, and have made preparations to retreat into places of refuge. The elites are as aware as you are becoming so of the energies of change bombarding your planet. We who occupy the great starships have been beaming and focusing energies for many years. It is our light, coupled with the energies from the sun and elsewhere that have made the elites tremble, for they see their days are numbered. Nonetheless they continue to play the game, extracting the final drops of blood from those they oppress, for they have chosen not to see alternatives to their long-standing behavior.

These are extraordinary times; make no mistake about it. This is not a mere business cycle, another environmental anomaly, or a long-term weather cycle. This is the long-awaited metamorphosis of mankind. Rejoice for you will now be given the opportunity to move out of the density you call 3rd dimension into a less dense existence. Look around; awaken to the possibilities. Do not be one of those who refuses to see the larger picture because you wish to remain comfortable in your chosen lifestyle.

Everyone will be shaken by events swirling about them. Many will go to fear and choose to abandon life in this world. A few will increase their vibration and agree to extend their stay becoming Caretakers of the new earth. We are rejoicing because we see many awakening to the possibilities of a grander life beyond the fear-based 3rd dimension. We are calling upon all our Earthly brothers and sisters to heed events swirling about them, and determine if they will commit to work with us to create a new civilization on the new Earth.

Here aboard the starship Athabantian are clustered great numbers of magnificent souls from around this universe, souls who are One with God. They have manifested individuated souls for this particular moment within a quasi-physical costume. Athabantian is like other great starships near your planet in that we are filled with great souls who are sending light to Earth and her people. The density of souls clustered about your planet is so great that their light is overwhelming the last of the darkness on your planet. Never before has there been such a collection of souls in the vicinity of a single planet. We are all here to assist and to witness the transformation of Earth and her humans.

Now back to more observations of your planet. Due to the extraordinary energies coming to you from those of us clustered here, you are feeling the energies of transformation as never before. In addition to impacting Earth, these energies are impacting individual Earth-humans. These are the energies that manifest themselves as a desire for freedom, a desire to know oneself, to assert who you really are, to throw off the shackles of domination, to love one another as brothers and sisters. These are the energies of Oneness, to assist you to see yourselves as One with all: the rocks, the plants, the animals, and with each and every one of your humans brothers and sisters.

It is this energy of Oneness that will ultimately topple governments, collapse monetary systems, and dissolve religions. It is this energy of Oneness that will cause peace in the animal kingdom, causing the lion to lay down with the lamb. The energy of Oneness will supplant the energy of discrimination, the energy of war, the energy of greed, and the energy of fear.

The energy of Oneness will ultimately assist you to become who you really are. You are physical manifestation of one of the great oversouls — creations of God in the early days of this universe. You, Mark Kimmel, are a physical manifestation, of one of these great oversouls. Your soul is an individuated piece of this great oversoul, created for this lifetime. Your soul will return to your oversoul as soon as your physical manifestation is completed.

The movement for freedom in Egypt is commended. It shows that the humans of your planet may be sufficiently aroused to assert their rights as individuals to live in peace and harmony. However, it remain to be seen whether the revolt of the people in Egypt will produce the necessary reforms to create a society based on Oneness — fairness toward all peoples and equality of a monetary system. The great danger is to seek peace too quickly so that the process is thwarted in the name of returning to some semblance of “normality.” The idea is not to return to normality, but rather to completely reform the society so that all are fairly represented, so that all no longer live in fear, and so an elite class no longer has special privileges. Then and only then should the cry to return to normality be heeded. It remains to be seen whether the rebellion in Egypt will meet these objectives.

That the world powers are condemning the bloody battles in Libya is a good sign in that it lays a foundation for all countries that experience an uprising of their people: fearing international criticism, they may be less inclined to use force of arms to crush a rebellion. Nonetheless Libya may turn to civil war. That the great powers are condemning the situation in Libya sets up the world to see that all current governments function for their own benefit, and are willing to criticize another government only when the situation is so dire as to garner international attention. We are hopeful that the rebellion in the countries of the Middle East will spread throughout your world and people everywhere will assert their rights to live equitably, to live without fear or domination, and that even the lowliest of peoples will be accorded the status of humans. We are hopeful that the rule of the elites will be dismantled peacefully, but by force if necessary. We do not condone bloodshed, but we recognize that it may happen in circumstances where the elites resist with force of arms. We are most hopeful that the armies of a country will side with their own people rather than turning their power against their own citizens.

It is our further observation that religion has so far not played a major role in the uprising in the Middle East. We are most encouraged by the apparent desire of the people to simply live in freedom without the over-arching role of religion. Again, just like governments, we are hopeful that religion will be discarded as a force for domination of the masses.

Protests and political upheavals in the United States and England show that the rule by elites will not be allowed to go unchallenged. It is ordinary people who must be served by governments; legitimate governments are not maintained for the accumulation of wealth by the few. It is the needs of the many that must be recognized so that they no longer live in fear, and that an equitable society emerges wherein none are wealthy, and none are starving. Keep in mind that ALL of your brothers and sister are of equal value in the eyes of God. There are none, NONE, who are lesser.

Thus the challenge for those of you who are the lightworkers and the anchors of light is to insist that complete transformation occurs, not a too-quick return to normal. It is your responsibility now that you have seen the way to higher consciousness to insist that it be a choice for all your Earthly brothers and sisters. Do not attempt to preserve the awakening for yourselves alone. Spread the light among all who are open to it. Place your flame of awakening on a tall candleholder for all to see. You are the hope of this world. Be happy that you are leading your planet to the light.

Mark, your dream last night was simply picking up on the energies that are swirling about your world. By watching videos like you did last evening, you lowered your energy. It was no mystery that a dark energy manifested itself in the form of a nightmare. There are many who are angry because they see that men of fear and hatred dominate them. Their tendency is to use and glorify the same fear-based behavior to rid themselves of that domination. This results only in replacing one fear-based behavior with another. If fear is the basis upon which change is made, upon which a tyrant is toppled, then it is most likely that a new fear-based structure will replace the one toppled.

It is only by asserting a love-based behavior that people can rise above their anger and revenge. Young people, who have been oppressed for a shorter time, are more able to create a love-based structure than the old who harbor long-lived resentments against the old structures and old injuries.

And yes, it is true that many of us who are not indigenous Earth-humans now interact in human form with those who are rebelling against domination. We walk among you to offer our love-based perspective to all who will listen. We are there to help create new love-based societies to replace the old. This shows the level of commitment of your space brothers and sisters: We are willing to risk entrapment in the density of Earth in order to assist Earth’s transformation. As we have said before there are more than one million of us who now walk about in Earth-human bodies.

Back to your situation, Mark, you are now quite sensitive to the energies of those around you. You do not recognize it yet, but you will be able to pick up on energies from around the world, and around the universe. And it is not just the energies of your fellow Earth-humans, it is the energies of the animals, the plants, Earth herself, and the energies of your space brothers and sisters. Be grateful for this sensitivity, but recognize it for what it is: a heightened sensitivity. Understand who you are. Know that you are okay just as you are. Love yourself. This will create a loving boundary about you that will separate your personal energy from what is not yours. The energies that swirl about you do not belong to you; they are the energy of others. It is okay to be sensitive to them, but do not bring them into your personal energy field.

Continuing with our observations, we observe that many on your world deny that anything unusual is occurring. They are experiencing time collapse, uncertainty about careers and living conditions, memory loss, heightened energy, lowered energy, and unusual physical ailments. They see earth changes, extreme weather, and global warning, yet they do not admit that these are indicators of fundamental change. This is most unfortunate in that change really is coming to your world. The people seeking freedom in the Middle East are heralding change. Change is occurring as people in the United States rebel against insensitive government, large corporations, and wealthy bankers, all of whom ignore the needs of ordinary people in the pursuit of their selfish goals. Yet it is the voices of ordinary people who will finally change everything. Change will not come from those of the elite because they like it the way it is. Those who have wealth, position, and security will fight to maintain it.

Those among you who are of the light, who see the bigger picture, and who acknowledge the Oneness of all are the hope of this universe. You now have established a core of people who can influence many others simply by allowing your light to shine brightly. The fundamental changes that are required to move your civilization to the light will be based on the lightworkers, those that are anchoring the light, and those who see the need for fundamental change. Half-hearted measures will ultimately lead back to a situation of dominance by a few. Only in Oneness will your world emerge into the light so that its people may join with other star nations.

This fundamental change may take some time to manifest itself throughout your world. What are most needed at this moment are communities where fundamental change can be seen. These will serve as examples for the larger civilization. These pockets of the light are taking shape, based on awareness, love, and self-sustaining measures. These communities must become independent from the larger society to survive and then prosper. Disconnecting from corporations who keep all dependent, disconnecting from monetary systems that entrap, disconnecting from religions that confine, and disconnecting from governments that dominate is required. This will not be an easy task, but it is doable. It will be made easier by the general chaos of a disintegrating larger society.

We who are your brothers and sisters of the stars are prepared to nurture such communities. We are prepared to give special attention to their electrical needs, to their need for water, and their need for transportation. We are not able to assist the entire civilization of your planet in these ways because the energies are too mixed. We are however capable of attending to the needs of enclaves where those who inhabit such are organized in Oneness. Once we see that such a community is asserting itself, we will come to you and provide the extraordinary help of which we speak.

So our charge to you who read these words is this: Organize yourselves into communities of Oneness. Find a situation where others of a like mind will interact with you to form a sustainable community apart from the larger civilization. Here we will found “institutes” to interact with you. There we will nurture inceptions of a new world. We are speaking now to those among you who resonate with such a plan. You must learn to raise your energies so that you can function at the higher levels and interact with us, and so that you can ignore the demands for a return to the same old ways. Learn to function at these higher frequencies so that you may lend a hand to others who desire but do not yet have the skills to do so. Then not only will your space brothers and sisters assist you, but the hosts of celestials will respond. When you make the move toward the light of Oneness, you will find support from throughout the universe.

Please understand that you as individual souls choose the frequency at which you vibrate. You may choose any frequency, and if it is not your current frequency you may work to achieve that vibration. There are many techniques to assist you — seek them out. During the time of the transformation, your soul will align with the particular vibration you have embraced and you will ascend to that level to be with other souls of like frequency.

This is not unlike the process after death of the body when your soul migrates to the frequency to which it is vibrating. It is not unlike the situation when you sleep each night and your soul seeks out others of a like vibration.

Do not think of Earth is a 3rd dimension orb. As 3rd dimensional Earth-humans you see Earth in 3rd dimensional terms. It is not that Earth is in the 3rd dimension; it is that you perceive her in that way, and interact with her in that way. Were you to be of the 4th dimension, you would see Earth in 4th dimensional terms, and interact with her in that lighter density. With the assistance of your star sisters and brothers, Earth is increasing her vibration so that she will be perceived by you in a lighter way.

What is unique about this moment is that you may choose to have your body ascend to a higher vibration, to what you are calling 4th dimension or higher. In 4th density, Earth will seem to you as a veritable paradise. Other Earth-humans will appear as wondrous beings who are functioning without fear, hate, judgment, or competition. All will be on Oneness.

Each person must decide for himself or herself. To achieve a higher vibration, each person must put forth some effort. You may rest in 3rd dimension comfort if that is what you choose. In that frequency you will eventually die and then continue your journey of reincarnations. Or you may choose to ascend to the 4th dimension or to the 5th dimension. The choice is yours.

Now is the time that you must undertake to increase your vibration, if you so choose. Now is the time to rest where you are if you so choose. The choice is yours. Choose well, for the next phase of your ascension to Oneness will be determined by your individual choice.

Those who are reading these words are already engaged in a process of awakening. Now is the time to choose where you wish your vibration to be. We trust that our words are of assistance to you.

We will now address questions regarding our earlier communications.

How different will life be after the transformation?

After the transformation is completed, which will take some years, living in Oneness will change everything. The manifestation of this change will come about slowly as people accommodate to a new way of being. Change in humans will not occur instantly. That is where the institutes of which we speak will assist the forthcoming changes. For example it will take some time for people to accommodate themselves to communicating with each other without spoken words, to living with complete truth, to knowing the true feelings of another, and to interacting with Earth in new ways.

Why is Earth so important?

Earth contains the most diverse species of any planet in this galaxy. Earth is the site of the Star Seed project. Earth fell almost completely under the domination of the dark energies. This combination of factors makes it the ideal candidate for a focus of attention. And so it has been the case, as we said in our earlier message, out of the darkness you the lightworkers of Earth responded to the light of the Creator.

I thought the cosmos was expanding infinitely. How can it now begin to contract?

The purpose of the infinite cosmos is to allow Creator to know Itself in every way. The Creator was waiting for the reflection that Earth-humans have now given. We had conjectured, with our limited minds, that the purpose of creation was to allow the Creator to find a reflection of Itself. It is totally appropriate that you, a human who has undergone significant transformation in his lifetime, should be the one to announce the contraction of the universe.

What are the best indicators that Earth is undergoing a transformation rather than just another cycle?

It is the combination of events. Never before have you had the energies of change in such concentration. Never before have you had earthquakes, floods, and volcanoes, coupled with rebellion to gain freedoms, coupled with monetary system failures, coupled with extraordinary energies from beyond the planet, coupled with the gathering of millions of your space sisters and brothers, coupled with individual reactions to these energies.

We are pleased to communicate with you this day and look forward to more opportunities. We hold you in unconditional love. Until next time, I am Adrial, I am Bren-Ton, I am Justine, I am Moraine, and I am Zepher.

_________________________________________________________

DECLARATIONS

Read archived messages from Adrial, Bren-Ton, Justine, Moraine, and others by referring to: http://www.cosmicparadigm.com/Marks_Corner/

For announcements by Mark Kimmel, go to: http://www.cosmicparadigm.com/Marks_Corner/

You may make copies of this message and distribute in any media as long as you change nothing, credit the author, and include the web address.

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Brent backs off $120, eyes on Libyan, Saudi supply

Posted by Admin on February 24, 2011

Traders work in the oil options pit on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange in New York City
By Christopher Johnson Christopher Johnson 29 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil surged more than 7.5 percent to its highest since August 2008 on Thursday on concern that uprisings in Libya could spread to other major oil producers in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

Brent crude oil for April spiked up $8.54 a barrel to a peak of $119.79 before easing to around $114 by 11:15 a.m. EST. U.S. crude futures for April rose as high as $103.41, the highest September 2009. They were up $1.00 at $99.10 at 11:15 a.m. EST.

Unrest in the world’s 12th-biggest exporter has cut at least 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Libya’s 1.6 million bpd output, according to Reuters calculations.

ENI Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said Libyan output had fallen much more dramatically, estimating it was putting 1.2 million barrels per day less into the market.

The Financial Times quoted an unnamed official as saying Saudi Arabia was in active talks with European refiners who may be hit by a disruption in Libyan exports.

That would be the clearest sign yet that OPEC’s biggest exporter is ready to respond to the cut in Libyan output.

The kingdom had asked refiners “what quantity and what quality of oil they want,” the FT quoted the senior Saudi oil official saying on condition of anonymity.

Goldman Sachs said the spread of unrest to another producing country could bring oil shortages and require demand rationing.

“The market cannot accommodate another disruption, in our view,” analyst Jeffrey Currie said in a research note.

Also supporting oil prices were figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing a lower-than-expected build in crude inventories and hefty drawdowns in gasoline and distillate stocks last week.

EYES ON SAUDI

Major banks joined the chorus of calls on Thursday for OPEC to act quickly on fears the strong oil prices could derail the fragile economic recovery.

Barclays Capital and Citi said it saw no downward pressure on prices until more oil comes to the market.

“Unless we see an explicit move from … producer countries, i.e. Saudi Arabia, I don’t think there is necessarily going to be any downward pressure on prices,” said BarCap analyst Amrita Sen.

Eugen Weinberg, Commerzbank’s head of commodities research, said the situation called for “some extraordinary measures.”

“This is an opportunity for OPEC to prove whether they are really able to (step) into this production gap,” he said.

Eastern areas holding much of Libya’s oil have slipped from the control of Muammar Gaddafi, who has unleashed a bloody crackdown on protesters to keep his 41-year grip on power.

The cuts in Libyan oil output represent the first disruption to supply as a direct result of protests that have swept through the oil-producing regions of north Africa and the Middle East.

The concern for oil markets is how unrest might affect Saudi Arabia, which not only pumps around 10 percent of the world’s oil but is also the only holder of significant spare crude production capacity that can be used to plug outages.

The FT report said Saudi Arabia was waiting for a response from European customers before making a decision on whether or not to increase output. It said options included pumping more oil through an East-West pipeline or boosting shipments to Asia in order to free up West African crude for Europe.

Without Saudi Arabia’s 4 million bpd of spare capacity, there is little margin in the global oil supply system.

To date, Saudi Arabia has escaped popular protests that have raged across the Arab world, toppling the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia and spreading as far as Saudi neighbor Bahrain.

Saudi King Abdullah has unveiled benefits for Saudis worth $37 billion in an apparent bid to insulate the oil exporter from protests in the region. However, hundreds of people have backed a Facebook page campaigning for a ‘day of rage’ across the kingdom on March 11 to demand reforms and greater democracy.

U.S. crude oil inventories rose less than expected and refined product stocks fell last week as the United States imported less crude, according to a report from the IEA.

Domestic crude stocks rose 822,000 barrels to 346.7 million barrels in the week to February 18, the report showed, compared with expectations for a 1.2 million barrel build in a Reuters poll of analysts.

(Additional reporting by Nia Williams, Emma Farge, Claire Milhench and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London; Editing by Jason Neely and Alison Birrane)

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Oil rises as Libyan unrest disrupts supplies

Posted by Admin on February 23, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110222/bs_nm/us_markets_oil;_ylt=Alr_cjnQRICBiLJNFjuLIDZ34T0D;_ylu=X3oDMTJrc2l2ZHE4BGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTEwMjIyL3VzX21hcmtldHNfb2lsBHBvcwMzMgRzZWMDeW5fYXJ0aWNsZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA2Z1bGxuYnNwc3Rvcg–

Protesters stand in the street in this undated ...

Protesters stand in the street in this undated picture made available on Facebook February 20, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Brent crude rose and U.S. oil hit a 2-1/2 year high on Tuesday as the revolt in Libya disrupted the OPEC nation’s supplies and raised concern unrest could spread to other oil producing countries in the region.

More than 8 percent of Libya’s 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil production has been shut down by the political violence, with Italian ENI and Spain’s Repsol shutting in output.

Trade sources said the country’s marine oil terminals were disrupted by a lack of communications as rebel soldiers said the eastern region of the country had broken free from Muammar Gaddafi. Libya also declared force majeure on all oil product exports, traders said.

Oil gave up some early gains after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would be ready to meet any shortage from a supply disruption.

Brent crude traded up 76 cents to $106.50 a barrel at 11:44 a.m. EST, off earlier highs of $108.57 a barrel. Brent hit a 2-1/2 year high of $108.70 a barrel on Monday.

U.S. crude for March delivery, which expires at the end of the session, rose $5.65 to $91.85 a barrel, after touching $94.49 a barrel, which was the highest level since October 2008. The more actively traded April contract gained $5.15 to trade at $94.86 a barrel.

The stronger gains in U.S. crude was partly explained by the fact that while the contract was active in electronic trading on Monday, there was no settlement as the exchange in New York was closed for the Presidents Day holiday.

“Geopolitical events have sparked a move higher as oil prices have rocketed on the headlines out of Libya,” said Chris Jarvis, president of Caprock Risk Management in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.

Saudi Arabia’s Naimi, speaking on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum in Riyadh, said worldwide oil spare oil capacity was between 5-6 million bpd.

(Reporting by Matthew Robinson, Gene Ramos, David Sheppard in New York; Claire Milhench in London and Francis Kan in Singapore; Editing by David Gregorio)

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World food prices seen at record high in January

Posted by Admin on February 4, 2011

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/World-food-prices-seen-record-reuters-194064327.html

A vendor sorts tomatoes at a wholesale vegetable and fruit market in Chandigarh January 29, 2011. REUTERS/Ajay Verma
On Thursday 3 February 2011, 6:12 AM

 

By Svetlana Kovalyova

MILAN (Reuters) – Surging food prices are on Thursday expected to push the United Nations ‘ food price index to a record high in January for a second straight month, further above the levels which prompted food riots in 2007/2008.

The Food Price Index of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, hit a record in December, above a previous high set in June 2008 during the food crisis.

A mix of high oil and fuel prices, growing use of biofuels, bad weather and soaring futures markets pushed up prices of food in 2007/08, sparking violent protests in countries including Egypt , Cameroon and Haiti.

The Rome-based agency has warned food prices could climb even higher, expressing concern about global weather patterns.

Severe drought in the Black Sea last year, heavy rains in Australia and dry weather in Argentina and anticipation of a spike in demand after unrest in north Africa and the Middle East has helped power grain prices to multi-year highs.

The worst winter storm for decades in the U.S. grain belt kept up pressure on wheat futures on Wednesday.

Surging food prices have come back into the spotlight after they helped fuelled protests that toppled Tunisia’s president in January and have spilled over to Egypt and Jordan, raising speculation other countries in the region would secure grain stocks to reassure their populations.

Algeria on Jan.26 confirmed it had bought almost a million tonnes of wheat, bringing its bread wheat purchases to at least 1.75 million since the start of January, and ordered an urgent speeding up of grain imports, a move aimed at building stocks.

World leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week warned rising food prices could stoke more unrest and even war. French President Nicolas Sarkozy reiterated calls for regulation to rein in speculation and volatility.

Multi-year highs for grain and sugar futures in January helped push higher spot and physical prices which the FAO uses to calculate the index.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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Tens of thousands march against Yemen president

Posted by Admin on February 4, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110203/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_yemen

SANAA, Yemen – Tens of thousands of demonstrators, some chanting “down, down with the regime,” marched Thursday in several towns and cities in Yemen against the country’s autocratic president, a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic militants.

Police opened fire and tear gas to break up one of the marches, witnesses said, and security officials confirmed a demonstrator was critically wounded by police fire. Two others were also hurt in the eastern town of Mukalla, but further details were not immediately available.

In the capital of Sanaa, scuffles and stone-throwing briefly erupted between thousands of anti-government demonstrators and supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for more than 30 years. However, police stepped in and there were no reports of injuries.

Security forces deployed in large numbers around the Interior Ministry and the Central Bank, and military helicopters hovered over some parts of the city.

Anti-government protests have erupted in several Arab countries in recent weeks. In Egypt, embattled President Hosni Mubarak is trying to cling to power until the end of his term in September, despite more than a week massive street protests demanding his immediate resignation.

In Yemen, protests erupted in several towns Thursday after Saleh moved earlier this week to defuse demands for his ouster by pledging not to seek another term in 2013 and not to allow his son inherit power.

Anti-government protesters said they don’t trust Saleh and demanded that he quit immediately.

“Thirty years of promises and thirty years of lies,” read one banner raised by marchers in Sanaa. Protesters chanted: “Down, down with the regime.”

In a counter demonstration, supporters of the president carried banners warning that the opposition was trying to destabilize Yemen.

Mohammed al-Sabri, a spokesman for a coalition of opposition groups, said hundreds of thousands took to the streets Thursday. He said the opposition is ready to engage in a dialogue with the president, but wants concrete proposals for change.

“We welcome this decision (not to seek another term), but if the people want the president to leave, we will adopt their demand,” al-Sabri said. “We have had political demands which we discussed with the regime for the past three years, but unfortunately failed.”

He said peaceful protests would continue for the next three months.

The United States has taken a sharp tone on Egypt, urging Mubarak to move swiftly to meet the demand for democratic reform. But it has cautiously praised pledges of reform in Yemen.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Wednesday welcomed Saleh’s “positive statements.”

The Yemeni president is seen as a weak but increasingly important partner of the United States, allowing American drone strikes on al-Qaida targets and stepping up counterterrorism cooperation.

In Brussels, Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, warned that interference from outside countries — of the sort in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan — would be counterproductive.

He said frustration of the young generation was widespread across the Arab world, including in his country. “I think the frustrations of younger generations are universal in the Arab world,” al-Qirbi told The Associated Press in Brussels, where he had come to seek development aid.

However, he said Yemen’s government never severed contacts with opposition parties and civil groups, and for that reason it was better placed to hold a constructive internal dialogue than other countries in the Middle East.

In Yemen, where the population is overwhelmingly very young, unemployment is 35 percent and poverty is endemic. About 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 (euro1.45) a day.

Saleh’s government controls little of the impoverished country beyond the capital; it is facing a serious challenge from a secessionist movement in the south and a rebellion in the north.

The U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, thought to be hiding in Yemen, is believed to have inspired and even plotted or helped coordinate recent attacks on the U.S. Those include the failed Christmas Day 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner and the unsuccessful plot to send mail bombs on planes from Yemen to the U.S. in October.

Al-Awlaki also is believed to have inspired the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, and had ties to some of the 9/11 hijackers.

In Thursday’s marches, thousands of anti-government protesters also took to the streets in the city of Aden. They defied security forces and armored personnel carriers that tried to close the main streets to prevent them from gathering.

Protesters there shouted: “People want the downfall of the regime, the downfall of the president.”

All big shops in Sanaa and Aden closed their doors and major companies hired guards to protect against possible looting.

Protesters also scuffled with security forces in the town of Jaar in the southern province of Abyan, where al-Qaida militants have been active.

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US FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST SINCE 1991

Posted by Admin on January 30, 2011

“Critically assess the impact of US foreign policy on the Middle East since 1991: how does the post-Cold War global order affect Middle East politics, and how does conflict in the Middle East affect the ‘New World Order’?”

Table of contents:

Part I: Summary;

Part II: Background to and nature of American policy in the Middle East since 1991;

Part III: Impact of American policy in the Middle East;

Part IV:  Conclusion.

————————————————————————————————————

Part I:

Summary:

The Middle East has always been critical to American interests: it is a region in which all but one country, Israel, are autocratic. This country, the only non-Islamic country in the region, is the target of constant war with most other countries in the region. This makes it the most volatile region in the world. While American policy was aimed primarily at using some countries led by Israel as a bulwark against communism in the Cold War years, the end of a bipolar world saw a radical shift in American policy towards the Middle East. This was brought about by the threat it saw to its most vital interest –oil in the region as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait; at the same time, with the sudden demise of the hitherto counterbalancing factor, the Soviet Union, the stage was now set for a decisive policy. One country in the region had attacked another and had set sights on America’s most precious interest in the region at a time when the latter was being anointed the sole superpower in the world. This presented the occasion for America to spell out its new policy, primarily aimed at the protection of its oil interests. Though spelt out in a jiffy, the guiding principle of the new policy was simple –with oil and the prevention of its usurpation by another state as the leitmotif of its Middle East policy, America spelt out its doctrine for the region, the ‘New World Order’, an imperious dictum according to which no state has the right to lay claim to what it considers its right to a scarce, exhaustible resource. Since all these happened at the confluence of the end of the Cold War and the potential threat to its interests, the Middle East turned out to be the stage on which America enacted its ‘New Global Order’. Since this is the arena in which America spelt out its policy after becoming the sole superpower, it is only natural that the post-Cold War world gets profoundly affected by whatever America does in this region.  Anything that America considers its interests in the region has a huge, marked bearing on the world. Its supplementary policies, such as the advancement of democracy and the destruction of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), impact the region greatly, as the ongoing example of a post- Saddam Hussein Iraq shows. However, in the process of safeguarding that interest, America has embarked on a dangerous endeavour. It is a policy fraught with dangers; for all the might it may use in pursuing its policy, it has to reckon with the local sentiment that would be a crucial element in guiding its policy. A sound example of the bottlenecks associated with this design is the daily dose of conflict it is facing in Iraq. In trying to aggrandise the country’s oil resources beneath the garb of promoting democracy, America may well be treading a potentially hazardous path. This paper argues that the American policy of planting democracy in societies that do not have the necessary preconditions and institutional frameworks to accepting and absorbing the system could mean risking a backlash. This could seriously undermine its ‘New World Order’ if other countries start emulating Iraq’s example.

Part II:

Background to and nature of American policy in the Middle East since 1991:

The importance of the Middle East to American foreign policy can never be overstated– it is this region that has the greatest say in America’s fuel-driven economy, being the biggest source of American energy supply. It is also the venue of major conflicts, both active and dormant. Situations in countries in the region such as the imminently explosive Lebanon, the ever-active struggle for existence in Israel, the resurgence of fundamentalist Islam, and the American perception that it is the epicentre of Islamic militancy make it a highly volatile region. (Amirahmadi, 1993, p. 3)

American foreign policy in the Middle East has undergone a dramatic transformation necessitated by the political, social and economic changes in the region in the years since 1991. The first major test of American foreign policy in the Middle East unfolded as the end of the Cold War was accompanied by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. As a result, the focus of American involvement in the Middle East shifted from a fear of interstate aggression, the last of which caused the Gulf War, to concerns brought about by issues such as terrorism, the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and social tensions exacerbated by a fall in oil prices. In the backdrop of these developments, American foreign policy is focussed on advancement of its interests in six areas: countering terrorism, countering WMD proliferation, the maintenance of stable oil prices, the support of regimes that are friendly and efforts at ensuring their stability, ensuring Israel’s security, and protection and promotion of America ‘s core values –human rights and democracy. (Bensahel & Byman, 2003, pp. 1 & 2) American post Cold War security objectives in the region can be summarised in the following: “[t]he interests of the United States in the Persian Gulf region have been very simple and consistent: first, to ensure access by the industrialized world to the vast oil resources of the region; and second, to prevent any hostile power from acquiring political or military control over those resources…[o]ther objectives, such as preserving the stability and independence of the Gulf states or containing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, were derivative concerns and were implicit in the two grand themes of oil and containment. Preoccupation with the security of Israel (is) a driving factor in U.S. Middle East policy…” (Sick, 1999, p. 277) Israel has provided the pivot of the American strategy calculus. A militarily strong, democratic Israel situated in the heart of the Middle East, in the midst of hostile Arab neighbours served America’s geostrategic interests from the time of Israel’s existence. Added to this, the influence of a strong Israeli lobby in the US has created in the American foreign policy establishment a strong commitment to the existence and security of Israel. (Lesch, 1999, p. 354) The pursuit of these objectives came to be called the ‘New World Order’, and took shape when George Bush Sr. was president. He laid out his vision of a ‘New World Order’ in the backdrop of the Gulf War. Simply put, it is the articulation of “…a new world order defined not by the presence of peace and stability but by the fact that there is only one superpower; and that superpower must decide whether or not it is in its national interest to play an activist role in the effort to achieve peace and stability in many parts of the world.” (Zogby, 1993)

The New World Order was spelt out in response to a sudden event –the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The Soviet Union had just disintegrated, and just when the American administration was groping to find focus on what policy it could lay out, the rather unexpected invasion presented a chance for the then administration to spell out a policy that few had anticipated had such clarity. George Bush Sr. found in this event the perfect occasion to spell out his vision of a world order. “…[T]he American response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait was ultimately justified in terms of a vision of world order and of the leading role America would play in the achievement of that order. A grand design that prior to the crisis had remained unarticulated and partially obscured even to its architects was now laid bare.” (Tucker & Hendrickson, 1992, p. 31) Thus, the Gulf War provided the ideal setting for America to “…crystallize positive feelings about a new era into a more palpable vision and approach while advancing its national interests and asserting its global primacy. “(Miller & Yetiv, 2001, p. 56)

Part III:

Impact of American policy in the Middle East:

On the whole, America’s policies towards the Middle East have been less than welcome in the major countries of the region. Since the primary focus of the ‘New World Order’ has been on the procurement of oil and the resolution of the Israel- Palestine problem, the impact of these two aspects is taken up:

A) In relation to oil: At the time of the conception of the ‘New World Order’, while America vowed to lay the countries of the Eastern Bloc on the road to democracy, in the Middle East, its policy was aimed at establishing its hegemony.  (Kuroda, 1994, p. 53) In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, there is a growing realisation in the American establishment that the promotion of democracy in the countries in which it plans to enact a policy of ‘twin containment’, Iran and Iraq, is a strategic imperative. Since then, the US administration has moved in to work on these areas with added thrust. In pursuit of these policies, the brute force that America is exhibiting has not gone down well in these countries. (Tucker et al., 2002) If the progress American policy in Iraq, which constitutes the prime example of American engagement, and the case in which America has invested considerable resources is any indication, the picture is far from pleasing –in the area of WMD, American efforts have come to a huge naught, for the administration has simply failed to find any, or to implicate Saddam Hussein of any involvement in the 9/11 attacks and to the Al Qaeda. The lone silver lining of this policy is that it is certain not to return the country to a dictatorial or theocratic government. American policy has not been any more effective in Iraq’s neighbour, Iran. A central player in the American scheme of things in the region, Iran has started using the nuclear threat to avert an Iraq-like situation in its country. With its presidential elections round the corner, it is difficult to predict whether the hardliners or the reformists are going to be returned to power. (Clark, 2004) America’s policy of coercive appropriation of the region’s only major resource has had another parallel, though highly profound impact. In order to break free from what is perceived as the American stranglehold over their resources, many countries have started cooperating with each other to exploit the oil-rich Caspian region. Based on the idea of excluding America from the pipeline grid, this brings several countries from even outside the periphery of the Middle East in close ties with each other. This could spell a total alteration of the geo-strategic dynamics of the region. This idea involves not only countries of the regions such as Iran, it also brings into its embrace some former Soviet republics and China, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. This has stimulated America into fostering friendly regimes in the Caucasus. (The Hindu, 10th April 2005, p.10) These events have been rooted in America’s policy in the Middle East.

B) In relation to the Arab-Palestine issue: In the absence of the Soviet factor, American policy in the Middle East has become more intrusive; American policy could have a positive impact if its moves towards establishing its policy are perceived as being salutary. A prime test case of this policy is the way its role is seen in the Israeli-Palestine issue. (Cantori, 1994, p. 452) The immediate years after the Gulf War led to a hyperactive engagement in the region under president Bill Clinton, for whom resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict was a principal goal. In his presidency, America assumed the role of an ‘honest broker’ in bringing about a peaceful settlement of issues bedevilling the region. However, before substantial headway was made, a new regime took guard under Bush Jr., under whom the same vigour was not enforced. American interventionism, which became low-key under the new dispensation, has led to suspicion in Arab quarters that America, with its uncompromising tilt towards Israel, has not been the ‘honest broker’ that it promised to be. This has led to a feeling that the American administration has no clear-cut, comprehensive policy towards resolving the Arab-Palestine conflict. (Lukacs, 2001, p. 32) “The problems of devising and implementing a coherent regional strategy were reflected in and exacerbated by the inherent tension generated by Washington’s goals…American diplomatic, economic, informational, and military efforts rarely, if ever, were simultaneously applauded by both Israelis and Arabs. Instead, the norm was that whatever the United States did to support one side was frequently denounced by the other” (1996, p. 122) Its obsession with obtaining fuel has generated a feeling that America is losing its leverage in the region by failing to go the distance in promoting one of its ideals in the region, peace between Israel and Palestine. One of the major impacts of this policy has been that most of the peace accords set to be implemented to end this dispute and those between the various countries in the region have gathered dust, with the result that the situation on the ground has hardly changed. (Lukacs, 2001, p. 32)

Part IV:

Conclusion: In this section, an analysis is made of how the cherished American policy in the region can go awry if tardily implemented, or in the event of an outbreak of war or a backlash against American policy, because there exist real and plausible causes for either or all of these in the region.

American policy in the Middle East, spelt out in its ‘New World Order’ axiom, is in the process of evolution; hence, at this stage, the events that have been unfolding in the region offer, at best, an indication of things to come. In the overall sense, even if the policy in the Middle East is clear, its result is still in an inchoate stage, and constitutes a mixed bag. Yet, a few patterns can be discerned:

A new urgency has been brought about by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of this event of seminal importance, the Bush administration has been looking at its foreign policy through an altogether different prism. The US has now adopted the aggressive stance by which it categorises countries as either its friends or abettors of terror. On account of this thinking, the world has been polarised more than during the Cold War. The US is finding that it is a lot easier to take on one country at a time and mould it to its will, than taking on amorphous, seamless terrorist groups that can carry out terror attacks on just about any part of the world at will. (Rahman, 2002) This is the foremost example of how the Middle East gets affected by the nuances of the ‘New World Order’.

Some of America’s staunchest allies (apart from Israel) and most bitter rivals in the region have had Islamic forms of governance. Examples of these two extremes could be Saudi Arabia and Iran. The establishment in America is inclined to think, as some in the media are, that terrorism is rooted in and is inextricably linked to Islam. (Esposito, 1993, p. 188) Any American policy towards the region that is seen as being antithetical to Islam, (which is a very likely outcome on account of American predisposition towards Israel) is sure to antagonise public opinion in the region against America, if it does not take the sensitivities of the local populace. Gawkily implemented policy in the region in the backdrop of the strong religious flavour could seriously dent America’s efforts at gaining a foothold in the region; in addition, it could unite the region against American hegemony.

In this setting, it is all the easier for the countries in the region to line up in defence of one of their brethren. With the battle lines, so to speak, clearly drawn, mostly the result of America’s own policy, oil, nuclear blackmail and Islam could easily prove to be the uniting factors against America. Emulation of the Iraqi example by other countries could very well lay the region on the road to total chaos. American policy at preventing interstate conflict may have succeeded as of now, but there is no guarantee it will endure if it goes overboard in implementing its policy. Thus, the potential for an all-out conflagration in the region against America is very real. If this materialises, American objectives spelt out in its ‘New World Order’ could go haywire.

In order to pre-empt this scenario, America needs to become more amiable and resort to less arm-twisting in the implementation of its policy: “[i]n the years to come, the liberation of U.S. foreign policy from the protracted political impasse of the post-cold war era will likely require the restoration of consensus regarding the country’s appropriate role in foreign affairs. In the absence of such a consensus, the likelihood remains that U.S. policy will continue to be driven by crises overseas, (as in) the Middle East.” (Hook, 1998, p. 326)

Written By Ravindra G Rao

References

 

 

Amirahmadi, H., (Ed.). (1993), The United States and the Middle East : A Search for New Perspectives, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY.

 

Bensahel, N. & Byman, D. L., (Eds.). (2003), The Future Security Environment in the Middle East: Conflict, Stability, and Political Change, Rand, Santa Monica, CA.

 

Bhadrakumar, M.K., 2005, ‘The great game for Caspian oil’, The Hindu, 20th April 2005, p.10. This article can be accessed online at http://www.hindu.com/2005/04/20/stories/2005042002371000.htm

 

Cantori, L. J. (1994), “The Middle East in the New World Order”, in The Gulf War and the New World Order International Relations of the Middle East, Ismael, T. Y. & Ismael, J. S. (Eds.) (pp. 451-464), University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

 

Clark, W. (2004), “Broken Engagement: The Strategy That Won the Cold War Could Help Bring Democracy to the Middle East-If Only the Bush Hawks Understood It”, Washington Monthly, Vol. 36, p. 26+, Retrieved April 21, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Esposito, J. L. (1993), “Islamic Movements, Democratization, and U.S. Foreign Policy” in Riding the Tiger: The Middle East Challenge after the Cold War, Marr, P. & Lewis, W. (Eds.) (pp. 187-207), Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

 

Hook, S. W. (1998), “The White House, Congress, of the Paralysis of the U.S. State Department after the Cold War”, in After the End: Making U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World, Scott, J. A. (Ed.) (pp. 305-326), Duke University Press, Durham, NC.

 

Kuroda, Y. (1994), “Bush’s New World Order”, in The Gulf War and the New World Order International Relations of the Middle East, Ismael, T. Y. & Ismael, J. S. (Eds.) (pp. 52-69), University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

 

Lesch, D. W. (Ed.), (1999), A Historical and Political Reassessment A Historical and Political Reassessment, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

 

Lukacs, Y. (2001), “America’s Role – as the Israeli-Palestinian War of Attrition Enters Its Second Year, an Intense Debate Is Taking Place over the Content Scope, and Future Direction of America’s Policy in the Middle East” World and I, Vol. 16, p. 32, Retrieved April 21, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Miller, E. A., & Yetiv, S. A., (2001), “ The New World Order in Theory and Practice: The Bush Administration’s Worldview in Transition”, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol.31, No.1, p. 56. Retrieved April 21, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Rahman, S.,  (2002), “Another New World Order? Multilateralism in the Aftermath of September 11”, Harvard International Review, Vol. 23 No.4, p. 40+, Retrieved April 21, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Sick, G., (1999), “The United States in the Persian Gulf: from Twin Pillars to Dual Containment”, in A Historical and Political Reassessment A Historical and Political Reassessment, Lesch, D. W. (Ed.), (pp. 277-290), Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

 

Tucker, R. W., & Hendrickson, D. C., (1992), The Imperial Temptation: The New World Order and America’s Purpose, Council on Foreign Relations Press, New York.

 

Tucker, R. W., Howard, M., Schmitt, G., Mearsheimer, J. J., Joffe, J., Chace, J., Gungwu, W., Kupchan, C. A., & Hassner, P. (2002), “One Year On: Power, Purpose and Strategy in American Foreign Policy”, The National Interest,  p. 5+. Retrieved April 21, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

(1996), “The United States and the Middle East: Continuity and Change”, in U.S. Foreign and Strategic Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: A Geopolitical Perspective, Wiarda, H. J. (Ed.) (pp. 107-126), Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

 

Zogby, James, “It’s the economy, stupid! –And it’s the World, Too!”. Available: http://www.aaiusa.org/wwatch_archives/011193.htm (Accessed 2005, April 05)

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DEMOCRACY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Posted by Admin on January 30, 2011

“Can democracy survive in the Third World? Can it succeed?”

 

Table of contents:

Part I: Introduction;

Part II: Key words;

Part III: Problem aspect of this paper;

Part IV: Case study;

Part V: Conclusion.

________________________________________________________________________

Part I:

Introduction:

This paper is an attempt to understand if democracy can survive and succeed in the Third World. The methodology adopted, as well as the roadblocks attendant to this narrative are mentioned in the ensuing paragraphs. This paper takes the case of secular democracy in India as a model for Third World countries in arriving at the thesis proposition. The rationale and justification for this selection, and the pitfalls associated with it are made in Part III of this paper.

Part II:

Key words: Democracy, Third World, Secular Democracy, Christian, Protestantism, India, colonial rule, Independence, Minority, Appeasement, Muslim, Hindu Nationalism.

Part III:

Problem aspects of this paper: By far, the core problem for this paper concerns its very nature –that of having to explain the nature of democracy in Third World countries in the space given to it. The broad term ‘Third World’ encompasses several of the world’s countries, and the transition to democracy, or prospects for success or otherwise in these few dozen countries, is too generic and seamless to be described in a few hundred words. This is because if one were to bunch together all developing countries, as Third World countries are also known, the case of each is unique and is moulded by the peculiar circumstance of its history. For instance, if some South European states started having doses of democracy in stages in the 1970’s, Latin American nations saw a wave towards democratisation in the 80’s. However, there was little to suggest that there was a common, binding factor in these cases; moreover, it was a trend that was not really sustained. No clear patterns can be discerned regarding the reasons and direction towards democratisation in most Third World countries. (Haynes, 2001, pp.1- 3) Some have argued that if there is a common thread running through Third World countries, it is that of having been colonies of some or another European power, and inheriting at least some of their systems of governance. (Clapham, 1990, p. 39) [1]Yet, this position, while a truism on the surface, hides more than it reveals –the simple reason being that not all these nations were colonised by the same power, and even when some of these did come under the same colonial rule, democracy was never the necessary fruit of decolonisation in these countries. Thus, forecasting the democratic prospects of a few of these countries may not be an appropriate representation or sample of the whole. This is because of the reasons just stated, which is that there is very little in common, except of being herded into the group that is conveniently labelled a “Third World” country. [2]

These countries have been located anywhere in the globe, and their democracies, when present, either as an inheritance from their former colonial masters immediately after independence, or its adaptation at a later date have been dictated by the need of the day, and are unique. (Haynes, 2001, p. 3) Another couple of critical facts need to be underscored when talking about democracy in developing countries: first, when democracies have functioned, they have been almost certainly different from that perceived and practised in the West, and more importantly, several Third World democracies are in a process of transition, and will, in all likeliness, continue to remain so. (Forje, 1997, p. 315) Even if these and other Third World countries may have a few commonalities as regards their economies, the democratic linkage is extremely brittle. Hence, in answering the thesis question, the researcher is left with little option to go about this paper other than to take select one Third World country, and making a study of its democratic prospects. India is an obvious choice simply because of its being the world’s most populous democracy, and because this country has shown remarkable resilience in preserving its democratic system, despite the innumerable odds against it. Having said this, it needs to be reemphasised that this is not a true reflection of the state of democracy in all Third World countries, but can only be used as an exemplar. Since some benchmark has to be used in arriving at a conclusion, this example is chosen.

Part V:

Case study:

India: India is chosen because it is both a typical and untypical Third World democracy in varying degrees. It opted for democracy since independence, despite internal contradictions of the term between the main founding fathers, Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. (The Washington Times, May 31st, 2004, p. A23) [3] Nehru’s viewpoint prevailed, to the effect that in India, democracy has often meant secular democracy. This is a paradox, in that secularism implies separation of state from the Church, while in India, its sole connotation was the appeasement of the minorities, especially the Muslim community, which makes up a substantial proportion of the population. This, in the eyes of the world and to Indian politicians, was what Indian democracy was really like. Things seemed to change with the destruction of a mosque in northern India in 1992. It was perceived, at least in the West that India was on the path to abandoning its cherished secular democratic values when it was feared that this event would mark the start of aggressive Hindu nationalism, which with its supposed anti-minority ideology, would set the clock back on democracy. However, the issue needs to be seen in perspective. First, Hindu nationalism, if it did really take shape, was in retaliation to two major phenomena –the marginalisation of the majority Hindu community at the hands of successive governments led by the Congress party since independence, and two, a succession of separatist movements, led by a Muslim-majority and a Sikh-majority state,[4] that threatened to tear the very heart of India in the 1980’s. The rise of this pan-Hindu nationalism needs to be seen as a reaction to this. (Varshney, 1993) These aberrations notwithstanding, having India exist and flourish as a democracy seems to be in everyone’s interest, including America’s. Being one of the states that do not depend on the US for the sustenance of its democracy, economy or security, India is one of the Third World’s champions in advocating and practising secular democracy, a product of European enlightenment. There may have been occasional hiccups, but these are few and far between. It has moved from being a champion among anti-imperial nations at the time of its independence to being leader of the Non Aligned Movement during the Cold War to being the beacon of democracy today in a region in which this seems more an exception than a rule. It has the potential to be an economic powerhouse in the years to come, and is now in a position to seek democracy at such global institutions as the UN Security Council. (Khanna & Mohan, 2006)

Part VI: Conclusion: In drawing a conclusion, it has to be said that democracy can indeed not only survive, but also succeed in Third World countries. If a country like India, with its mind-boggling diversity and social complexities can achieve democracy, there is no reason for other countries not to follow suit. Two major points need mention, however, in assessing if other Third World countries can replicate Indian democracy. First, Third World democracies may not look like the exact twin of western democracy. This distinction needs to be both understood and conceded, for the reason that there is no one, universal type of democracy. (Forje, 1997, p. 315) Secondly, the only obstacle to democracy in Third World countries can be a lack of willingness on the part of the governments in these countries to implement the system. If India has succeeded, it has been because of its willingness more than anything else. It surmounted serious obstacles to its democratic nature on at least two major occasions since independence –the imposition of emergency under Indira Gandhi in 1975 (Carras, 1979, p. 154), and the rise of the Hindu Right some years later, again a takeoff from where the Congress had left off. (Hansen, 1999, p. 150)[5] Of these, undoubtedly, the graver threat to democracy was the earlier instance. However, these were not powerful enough to override India’s strongly rooted framework and ability to making democracy a success. If this is an example the world’s most populous democracy can set, other countries can easily take the cue. In sum, democracy can indeed survive and succeed in a Third World country, but the will and need for it has to come from within.

Written By Ravindra G Rao

 

References

 

 

Carras, M. C., 1979, Indira Gandhi: In the Crucible of Leadership, Beacon Press, Boston.

Clapham, C.,1990, Third World Politics: An Introduction, Routledge, London.

Doorenspleet, R., 2002, 3. “Development, Class and Democracy”, in Development and Democracy:  What Have We Learned and How?, Elgström, O. & Hyden, G. (Eds.) (pp. 48-61), Routledge, London.

Forje, J. W., 1997, 9. “Some Observations on Prospects of Democracy in the Contemporary World” in Prospects of Democracy: A Study of 172 Countries (pp. 315-331), Routledge, London.

Haynes, J., (Ed.), 2001, Democracy and Political Change in the “Third World”, Routledge, London.

2004. “In India, Parties Overlap; Hindu Nationalism Secularism Converge”, The Washington Times, (Washington, US), May 31, 2004, p. A23.

 

Khanna, P., & Mohan, C. R., 2006, “Getting India Right”, Policy Review, Vol.135, p. 43. Retrieved December 13, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com

 

Lakoff, S. A., 1996, History, Theory, Practice, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

Strong, J., 1885, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis, The American Home Missionary Society, New York.

Varshney, A., 1993, “Contested Meanings: India’s National Identity, Hindu Nationalism, and the Politics of Anxiety”, Daedalus, Vol.122,  No.3, p.227, retrieved December 13, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com


[1] An interesting point here would be to analyse the linkage between democracy and Christianity. Some blatantly racist writers as Josiah Strong, writing in the period of American Reconstruction,  boasted that democracy found its highest actualisation in Christianity, since no other race was as superior or well-suited to respect freedom as Christianity. (Strong, 1885, pp. 171-180) While this is one extreme argument, more balanced and recent critics of democratic systems, too, nevertheless, seem to draw a relationship between the two. Some like Lakoff (1996) draw a parallel between democratisation and not Christianity per se, but more specifically, Protestantism. In particular, look at page 276 of this book, in which the main point is that “democratization of politics [came about] after bloody wars of religion led to toleration and the weakening if not the complete dissolution of ties between church and state. Political pluralism was modeled upon (and legitimated by) Protestant sectarianism.” (Lakoff, 1996, p. 276)

[2] Another link that has been made is between democracy and development. Seymour Martin Lipset, who pioneered this linkage, substantiated this position by demonstrating a trickle-down effect model of democracy and development. In this line of thinking, social conditions become the cornerstone of democracy; when social conditions of workers improved on account of democracy, there was less social conflict, since the working class had greater outlet for improvement of their creative skills, and this made extremist tendencies less enticing than development. The root of the prevention of these extreme ideologies is in the way democracy “is able to reward moderate and democratic parties and penalise extremist groups.” (Doorenspleet, 2002, p. 49)

[3] Gandhi’s idea of democracy was rooted in the Hindu ideal of Ram Rajya, or the kingdom of Lord Ram, which may be termed, in a sense, a forerunner of the Utilitarian theory of Jeremy Bentham, whose core ideal was the maximum happiness of maximum numbers.

Gandhi derived this ideal from a religious, spiritual perspective, by which he implied the equal respect to all religions. Nehru’s idea of democracy was secular in the real sense of the word, by which religion was to be severed totally from administration, although in practice, as mentioned elsewhere in this paper, this had a very constricted view. (The Washington Times, May 31st, 2004, p. A23)

[4] Obviously, the two states being referred to here are Kashmir and Punjab, in the heart of northern India. Kashmir, like Punjab, borders Pakistan and is claimed by the latter on the basis of its Muslim majority, because of which, so claim successive Indian governments since independence, it has been supporting separatist, Islamic terrorism to destabilise India. Although this has been the bone of contention between the two neighbours since independence, terrorism took a decisive upswing in the late 1980’s. Punjab, on the other hand, had been turned into a terrorist state since separatist Sikh militant groups made demands for a separate nation in the 1980’s.

[5] This author makes the claim that it was the Congress party Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi’s balancing act of appeasing both Hindus and Muslims that created the platform for the Right. On the one hand, he had the gates of the abandoned Hindu Temple at Ayodhya, which existed side by side with the mosque that was brought down in 1992, unlocked after it had remained locked since 1949. On the other, he had the legislature overturn a Supreme Court judgement in a case involving conjugal rights of a Muslim woman citing minority rights. Both these happened in the mid 1980’s, during his tenure. (Hansen, 1999, p. 150)

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Arab leaders keep a wary eye on Tunisia

Posted by Admin on January 22, 2011

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/article1103937.ece

Mona El-Naggar and Michael Slackman

From the crowded, run-down streets of Cairo to the oil-financed halls of power in Kuwait, Arab leaders appear increasingly rattled by the unfolding events in Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world, where men continued to set themselves on fire — two more in Egypt on January 18, and a third who was stopped.

Though the streets of Cairo, Algiers and other Arab cities around the region were calm, the acts of self-immolation served as a reminder that the core complaints of economic hardship and political repression that led to the Tunisian uprising resonated strongly across the Middle East.

“You have leaders who have been in power for a very long time, one party controlling everything, marginalisation of the opposition, no transfer of power, plans for succession, small groups running the business, vast corruption,” said Emad Gad, a political scientist at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “All of this makes the overall environment ripe for an explosion at any second.”

The differences in each country

But while there is widespread anticipation about a revolutionary contagion, particularly in Egypt and Algeria, where there have been angry and violent protests, political analysts said that each country is different, making such conclusions premature. Egypt lacks the broad and educated middle class of Tunisia, while in Algeria the middle class failed to join the angry young men in rioting, regional experts said.

In Jordan, an Islamist opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, issued a demand that the offices of prime minister and other high officials be made elective instead of appointive, as they are now. But like the other outbursts, it quickly died away.

“For all the sound and fury, it doesn’t look like much political dividend will come out of what happened in Algeria, in the short term,” said Hugh Roberts, an independent scholar and a specialist on North Africa based here. “It looks like it has gone quiet. It was a big blast of angry, hot air, but in an unfocused way, which leaves most things the same.”

So for now, the most pronounced impact from the unexpected Tunisian uprising is a lingering sense of uncertainty. That is itself either unnerving or exhilarating, depending on one’s perspective, in a region sitting on the fault lines of religious strife, political repression and economic uncertainty, experts said.

“We did not expect Tunisia to go the direction it has. Who had Tunisia on the mind a few weeks ago?” said Amr Hamzawy, research director with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “The ingredients are partially there for it to happen again, but we just do not know.”

Some Arab leaders have ordered security crackdowns to keep calm in the streets, and offered some symbolic gestures. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad backed off the imposition of austerity measures. In Kuwait, the emir doled out money.

Economic summit

In Egypt, where organisers are calling for a nationwide protest on January 25, officials struggled to project a sense of calm and normalcy, while stepping up talk of economic reform and government accountability. Arab leaders have also said they will focus on combating unemployment when they meet later this week at an economic summit meeting in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik.

Fahmy Howeidy, an Egyptian political expert and newspaper columnist, said that while he did not believe conditions were ripe for a similar uprising in Egypt, the government was keenly aware that “what happened in Tunisia has definitely created a different atmosphere. It convinced people that they can revolt in the streets, and that these regimes are not as strong or as mighty as they appear.”

Before the riots in Tunisia turned into a mass uprising against the rule of the long-time autocratic president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, it appeared that either Egypt or Algeria stood a greater chance of some kind of mass public revolt. For years, both have suffered from sclerotic political systems led by aging presidents, with support from the military. For years, both have confronted protests over difficult economic conditions and widespread youth unemployment.

But Mr. Hamzawy noted that in Tunisia the middle class and the trade unions joined protests that initially broke out over economic complaints, and helped transform the discontent into calls for political change. In Egypt, where the leadership continues to rely on a decades-old emergency law that allows arrest without charge, there is a lot of room for free and critical speech, offering a safety valve for expression that did not exist in Tunisia, he said.

In Egypt, he said, the array of interests that benefit from corruption is much wider than in Tunisia, where it was restricted to a small circle around the president. That, he said, means there are more people with an interest in preserving the system. And finally, he said, the military in Tunisia was not politicised and did not have any experience in securing city streets, unlike in Egypt, where the military has risen to the government’s defence before, and most likely would again. In addition, Mr. Hamzawy said that the protests that have racked Egypt recently have mostly been by workers for economic reasons, and that the government effectively bought them off with concessions before they began making political demands.

In Algeria

In Algeria, Mr. Roberts said, there are two primary differences with Tunisia that make comparisons imperfect. The first, he said, was that in Tunisia the riots spread all over the country and eventually involved different elements of society all on the same side. “That gave the movement its moral power,” he said.

By comparison, he said, “In Algeria, that never happened. There was no real support from trade unions, in fact none at all as far as one can see, and there was a good deal of middle class hostility to them because of the destruction. The guys rioting were desperate, angry young men with no political perspective at all.”

But more fundamentally, he said, Algeria is not as repressive as Tunisia was. “It is not an autocracy, it is an oligarchy,” he said, explaining that in addition to the President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, there are multiple power centres, like the military, the intelligence services and the elite bureaucrats.

That, he said, meant that unlike in Tunisia there is no one target of public ire, and no public sense that protests would help to dislodge those at fault. “Even though Bouteflika is unpopular, people know their problems do not simply come down to him,” he said. “You have a situation where there is a great deal of discontent, including in the middle class, but no one has any prescription for how to deal with it.” ( Mona El-Naggar reported from Cairo, and Michael Slackman from Berlin.) — © New York Times News Service

They appear increasingly rattled by the unfolding events in Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world.

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US-Saudi arms deal ripples from Iran to Israel

Posted by Admin on October 21, 2010

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – As American and Saudi officials spent months quietly hammering out a wish list for a mammoth sale of American warplanes and other weapons to the oil-rich kingdom, leaders in Iran were busy publicly displaying their advances in missiles, naval craft and air power.

In one memorable bit of political theater, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood under a cascade of glitter in August to unveil a drone bomber — dubbed the “ambassador of death” — that he claimed would keep foes in the region “paralyzed” on their bases.

The response by Washington and its cornerstone Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, moved a step ahead Wednesday. The Obama administrationnotified Congress of plans to sell as many as 84 new F-15 fighter jets, helicopters and other gear with an estimated $60 billion price tag.

The proposed deal — one of the biggest single U.S. arms sales — is clearly aimed at countering Iran’s rising military might and efforts to expand its influence.

But it ties together other significant narratives in the region, including an apparent retooling of Israeli policies to tacitly support a stronger, American-armed Saudi Arabia because of common worries about Iran.

It also reinforces the Gulf as the Pentagon’s front-line military network against Iran even as the U.S. sandwiches the Islamic republic with troops and bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In this way, Saudi Arabia does become some sort of buffer between Israel and Iran,” said Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a Swedish think tank that tracks arms sales.

Israel has made no diplomatic rumblings over the proposed Saudi deal — a marked contrast to almost automatic objections decades ago to Pentagon pacts with Arab nations. It’s widely seen as an acknowledgment that Israel’s worries over Iran and its nuclear program far outweigh any small shifts in the Israel-Arab balance of power.

Israel is moving toward a policy of “pick your fights,” said Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv.

“After all,” he added, “Saudi Arabia is not such a big threat to us.”

And Israel does not come out of the current American arms bazaar empty handed. Earlier this month, it signed a deal to purchase 20 F-35 stealth fighters that could possibly reach Iran undetected by radar. Israel has an option for 75 more.

“This equipment is primarily to give (Israel) a better feeling facing the Iranian threat. It is not related to Israeli-Arab relations,” said Inbar. “Ironically, in the current situation, Saudi Arabia is in the same strategic boat as Israel is in facing the Iranian threat.”

Besides the new fighters for Saudi Arabia, the U.S. plans to upgrade an additional 70 of the kingdom’s existing F-15s. State Department and Pentagon officials told lawmakers the sales also will include 190 helicopters, including Apaches and Black Hawks, as well as an array of missiles, bombs, delivery systems and accessories such as night-vision goggles and radar warning systems.

Congress has 30 days to block the deal, which was first revealed in September but has been in negotiations for months. U.S. officials say they aren’t expecting significant opposition.

Iran, meanwhile, has concentrated on its missile arsenal overseen by the powerful Revolutionary Guard. Its solid-fuel Sajjil missile has a reported range of more than 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) — within range of Israel and all main U.S. bases in the region.

Iran’s navy has staged war games in the Gulf and announced major additions to its fleet, including three Iranian-built submarines designed to operate in the Gulf’s shallow waters.

It marks the Gulf as a buyer’s market for arms, led by the U.S. as the dominant Western military power from Kuwait to Oman. Throughout the Gulf, Washington counts on access to Arab allies’ air bases, logistics hubs and the Bahrain headquarters of America’s naval powerhouse in the region — the U.S. 5th Fleet.

A report last month by the U.S. General Accountability Office said Washington approved $22 billion worth of military equipment transfers to the six Gulf Arab states between fiscal 2005 and 2009 through a Pentagon-managed program.

More than half was earmarked for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, including a $6.5 billion deal in 2009 for the UAE to buy the Patriot missile defense system.

The UAE agreement was the largest single arms approval during the five-year period — but is dwarfed by the proposed Saudi deal.

The researcher Wezeman said Iran is clearly the top perceived threat for the Gulf Arabs, but there are background concerns about Iraq’s stability and the unrest in neighboring Yemen that includes Shiite Hawthi rebels and Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaida. The Saudi military was drawn into rare fighting in northern Yemen starting late last year, using airstrikes and artillery to battle a Hawthi rebellion that was spilling across the border.

“Of course it’s against Iran. Of course it’s against Yemen,” said Wezeman. “You can read between the lines … but there are not any official statements about it.”

Wezeman’s group issued a report this month that estimates the eight nations ringing the Gulf — including rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia — accounted for 10 percent of all conventional weapons imports between 2005-2009.

The appetite was on display earlier this month when envoys from more than 50 U.S. defense and aerospace firms held talks in Abu Dhabi, where they were welcomed by the UAE’s minister of foreign trade at an opulent hotel on the shores of the Gulf.

As the American defense budget tightens, the Gulf’s deep pockets beckon.

“This is a critical time for our companies abroad as the U.S. defense budget continues to face pressures at home,” said a statement from Lawrence Farrell, head of the National Defense Industrial Association based outside Washington.

Jane Kinninmont, a Middle East and Africa specialist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said concerns over Iran are the primary motivation for the Saudi arms expansion. But she wonders how much the untested Gulf forces rattle Iranian commanders who are almost all veterans of the 1980-88 war with Iraq.

“I would not be surprised if the Iranians are pretty cynical about the armies here,” she said during an interview in Dubai. “To put it bluntly, they’ve fought a war.”

___

Associated Press Writers Mark Lavie and Aron Heller in Jerusalem, and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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