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No Arab Spring, Says U.S. Intelligence Analyst - Barcin Yinanc
"The Arab spring did not happen. No regime fell except Libya and that's because of NATO," says George Friedman, head of the global intelligence firm STRATFOR Institute.
"In Egypt, one general is replaced by four generals. In Syria, Bashar al–Assad is still in power. There is tremendous excitement but...very little outcome."
"Not every bit of unrest is a revolution.... Every revolution is not democratic, and the democratic ones can elect Ayatollah Khomeini."
Q: You don't foresee a conflict between Turkey and Israel?
Friedman: "I don't think it is possible. Turkey does not have the military to project force against Israel. It does not want to be in Syria, let alone engage Israel. And Israel does not want to engage Turkey."
See also Report: Israel Ramps Up Drilling Patrols in Mediterranean - Cem Barber (Famagusta Gazette-Cyprus)
Israel is reported to have boosted its military presence in the sea south of Cyprus, according to state broadcaster CyBC.
The increase in military operations, which includes fighter jets and warships patrolling near the Nobel offshore drilling rig, is designed to send a message to Turkey that "they are not the gatekeeper of the Mediterranean."
According to Radio Napa, several Turkish navy ships have docked in Famagusta port on the east coast of Northern Cyprus
over the past week.
UK Company in Syria Slashes Oil Production by 75 Percent as Sanctions Block Exports (UPI)
Oil production in Syria by Gulfsands Petroleum is down nearly 20,000 barrels per day after it was ordered by the Syrian Oil Ministry in September to reduce production because of the reduced availability of crude storage capacity in the country.
Other companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and France's Total were ordered to cut back on production as well.
Russia's Syria Game - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
The Russian lease on the Crimean port of Sevastopol runs out in 2017 and can't be extended without Ukraine's accord.
So Moscow has been seeking an alternative to Sevastapol for the last decade. Russian strategists believe they've found it on Syria's Mediterranean coast.
Russia's Vladimir Putin knows that Assad is doomed. But he wants to ensure that Russia has a say in choosing his successor.
Putin is looking for a new Syrian regime in which Moscow's friends, meaning elements of the Assad regime, would have a place strong enough to offer the Russian navy an outlet when, and if, Ukraine throws it out.
Libya: Gaddafi Chemical Weapons Factory Is Leaking - Abdul Sattar Hatita (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Libyan "17 February Revolution Committee" spokesman Hamza Hussein al-Shaibani told Asharq Al-Awsat that former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's chemical weapons factory in al-Jufra is leaking.
He said the chemical weapons storage facility is in a state of disrepair, with thousands of weapons being stored outdoors.
He also revealed that "foreign experts came to examine the [chemical weapons] stores and shut them down, stressing that they must be guarded," adding that there are ten tons of chemical weaponry located in al-Jufra.
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- U.S. Ties to Turkey Face New Strains - Jay Solomon and Marc Champion
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton privately has pressed Turkish officials to back off from their threats to send warships to waters around Cyprus in a dispute over energy deposits, according to U.S. officials. She cautioned that any escalation could jeopardize U.S. interests in the Mediterranean, as the gas fields are being jointly developed by Cyprus and Houston-based Noble Energy Inc.
U.S. officials also are concerned by Turkish threats to deploy naval vessels to accompany flotillas headed to the Palestinian territories.
"I don't think the Turks are intent on starting hostilities, but you never know what can happen in this environment," said Morton Abramowitz, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey. He added that Washington needs to be up-front with Ankara and tell them that if conflict breaks out between Turkey and Israel, "We'll choose Israel." (Wall Street Journal)
- 24 Killed in Egypt as Coptic Christians Clash with Troops - Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan
Egyptian authorities said at least three soldiers and 19 protesters were killed Sunday in clashes in Cairo after what had begun as a peaceful rally by Coptic Christians to protest the recent burning by Muslims of a church in southern Egypt.
(Los Angeles Times)
See also Christians Fear Islamist Pressure in Egypt - Maggie Michael
On her first day to school, 15-year-old Christian student Ferial Habib was stopped at the doorstep of her new high school with clear instructions: either put on a headscarf or no school this year. The move by administrators to force a Christian student to don a headscarf was unprecedented. In the past weeks, riots have broken out at two churches in southern Egypt, prompted by Muslim crowds angered by church construction. (AP)
- Iraq, Siding with Iran, Sends Essential Aid to Syria's Assad - Joby Warrick
More than six months after the start of the Syrian uprising, Iraq is offering key moral and financial support to Syria's president, undermining a central U.S. policy objective and raising fresh concerns that Iraq is drifting further into the orbit of an American arch rival - Iran. While other Arab states have downgraded ties with Assad, Iraq is hosting official visits by Syrians, signing pacts to expand business ties and offering political support. Iraq has also supported Iran's right to nuclear technology.
"The Iraqis know the Iranians are looking over their shoulders," said David Pollock, a former adviser on Middle East policy for the State Department during the George W. Bush administration and now a researcher for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Pollock noted that Iranian-backed cleric Moqtada al-Sadr - a firebrand Iraqi Shiite with tens of thousands of devoted followers - has publicly backed Assad, calling him a "brother." (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Fatah Official: U.S. Is #1 Palestinian Enemy - Khaled Abu Toameh
The U.S. is the number one enemy of the Palestinians because it supports Israeli "oppression," Tawfik Tirawi, a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee, said on Sunday.
Tirawi, former commander of the PA General Intelligence Force in the West Bank, also said Fatah has not abandoned the armed struggle option against Israel.
"Fatah hasn't thrown the rifle aside," Tirawi told thousands of university students during a rally in Hebron. Tirawi also criticized the PA leadership for refusing to allow Palestine TV to use the term "Israeli enemy" in its broadcasts.
See also PA TV Shows Fatah Youth Hanging Netanyahu in Effigy - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
- Report: Israeli Delegation in Egypt for Security Talks
A delegation of four Israeli security officials arrived in Cairo to discuss security arrangements along the Israeli-Egyptian border, the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram reported on Sunday.
- Egypt Wants 78 Prisoners in Exchange for Israeli-American "Spy" - Roee Nahmias
Egypt wants Israel to free 78 Egyptian prisoners in exchange for Ilan Grapel, an Israeli-American national accused of spying and held by Cairo since June.
The demand was presented during U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's visit to Cairo, according to al-Ahram, a newspaper associated with the Egyptian government.
- Jordan: 5,000 Protest Against Corruption, Demand Faster Reforms - Khaled Neimat
Over 5,000 pro-reform activists and leaders of opposition parties gathered in Amman on Friday to protest what they described as the "slow" and "bogus" reform process in the kingdom.
For the first time, several former officials participated in the rally, which was led by former prime minister Ahmad Obeidat, who heads the National Front for Reform (NFR). Joining the rally were the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to several leftist parties.
The protesters called for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of Parliament.
Demonstrations against corruption were also held on Friday in Karak, Tafileh, Maan, Jerash, Irbid, Ajloun and Mafraq. (Jordan Times)
- Vacuum Is Feared as U.S. Quits Iraq, But Iran's Deep Influence May Not Fill It - Tim Arango
As the U.S. draws down its forces in Iraq, fears abound that Iran will move into the vacuum, but in Najaf, a center of Shiite Islam in Iraq, some officials say that Iran wore out its welcome long ago. Surely, Iran has emerged empowered in Iraq over the last eight years, and it has a sympathetic Shiite-dominated government to show for it. But with mistrust toward Iranians that has been nurtured for centuries, Iran has been unable to extend its reach.
In fact, a host of countries led by Turkey, but also China, Lebanon and Kuwait, have made the biggest inroads.
"Before 2003, 90% of Najaf people liked Iranians," said the governor, Adnan al-Zurufi. "Now, 90% hate them. Iran likes to take, not give." "Investment from Iran has almost stopped," said Zuheir Sharba, the chairman of Najaf's provincial council, referring to a phenomenon that has more to do with Iran's anemic state-run economy than it does to Iranian ambitions.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki once lived in Iran, and he surrounds himself with aides who have close ties to Tehran. However, "I've yet to meet an Iraqi who trusts the Iranians," said Joost Hiltermann, the International Crisis Group's deputy program director for the Middle East.
(New York Times)
- Syria, Kurds and Palestinians - Jonathan S. Tobin
While most of the world has been obsessing about the alleged wrongs to the Palestinians, few seem to think it's worth caring about the fact Kurds remain the object of violent suppression in both Syria and Turkey. Nor do many seem concerned with the plight of any national or ethnic group demanding sovereignty or rights other than those seeking to do so at the expense of the globe's only Jewish state.
The attempt of the Palestinians to get the UN to give them statehood without first having to make peace with Israel has resulted in an orgy of rhetoric about the right to self-determination of all peoples. But the plight of the Kurds, who have arguably suffered far more than the Palestinians or any other stateless people, doesn't move the international community. (Commentary)
See also Leading Syrian Opposition Figure Killed - Nada Bakri
Syrian security forces on Friday attacked Mashaal Tammo, 53, a leading Kurdish political figure, who was killed by four masked gunmen who stormed his house in Qamishli, in northern Syria. Tammo founded the liberal Kurdish Future Movement Party, which considers the minority Kurdish community an integral component of Syrian society.
(New York Times)
See also Thousands of Kurds Could Awaken Against Syrian Regime - Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph-UK)
- Egypt's Floundering Revolution - Zvi Mazel
Both the Muslim Brotherhood and the secular parties in Egypt are united against the current electoral law and the timetable for voting set down by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Former Arab League head Amr Moussa claims to be the most popular. But he is too much a man of the old regime to convince the people that he could lead the country to a brighter future. Therein lies the army's great dilemma: There is no one to take over.
The new electoral law keeps one-third of the seats in parliament for "workers and peasants" - a leftover from the old constitution where it was used to appoint government supporters to the parliament. All parties also opposed Article 5, which allowed candidates to run as independents - without being members of any party. This was widely considered to be meant to allow members of the banned former ruling party to be candidates.
With the cumbersome electoral process that has been announced, the army will be in charge at least until the end of 2012. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt.
Iran's Two Navies - Joshua Himes (Institute for the Study of War)
In 2007 Iran's two naval forces underwent a reorganization.
Under the new structure, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN)
will patrol the Caspian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the area from
Bandar Abbas, near the Strait of Hormuz, to Pasa Bandar, near Pakistan.
Currently the IRIN
consists of approximately 200 ships and 18,000 personnel. While many of its surface ships hail from the
shah's era, recent subsurface and cruise missile procurement, as well as a growing domestic production
capacity, have increased its capabilities.
- IRIN capabilities include the Russian Kilo class submarine (three units in hand, three expected as early
as 2015) and the Ghadir/Yono class mini-sub (eleven units in hand, nine more expected over the next
two to three years), which has been domestically produced at increasing rates over recent years.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) has been constituted as a coastal defense force largely focused on asymmetric and
mobile combat capabilities in the Persian Gulf. The IRGCN consists of 20,000
personnel and up to several thousand ships and small craft. Recent development
has expanded the IRGCN's capabilities, equipping it with fast attack boats, torpedoes, and anti-ship
- Additional naval developments include anti-ship ballistic missiles (range 250-300km). Iran has
increased its stockpiles of C-802 anti-ship missiles, which appear to have been reverse engineered
from Chinese models and then domestically reproduced.
U.S. Navy Commander Joshua Himes served as the 2010-11 U.S. Navy fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) during which time he wrote this report. He previously served as a deputy director for intelligence in the National Military Command Center in the Directorate of Intelligence on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
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