West Asia News and Discussions

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Suppiah » 10 Jul 2010 09:05

RajeshA wrote:Somewhat old article: 2009/04/22!

If Arab Oil Runs Out by As’ad Abu Khalil: Pulse

Fanatic barbarianism long predates oil era amongst the Arabs. It would therefore not end with end of oil era. Oil brought on some additional jewels in the crown of barbarianism they were already wearing...the arrogance of money, the ridiculous devotion to western dress code (when temperature outside is 46 degrees C) and so on...

And the author's sympathies are made abundantly clear unlike some of our lefties who carefully camouflage their red credentials..

If the oil had run out, the Marxist regime in South Yemen would have flourished and spread out over the Arabian Peninsula and spread ideas of progress and freedom.
Last edited by Suppiah on 10 Jul 2010 09:07, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Carl_T » 10 Jul 2010 09:06

Does US support for Israel endanger Americans

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and- ... ety/%5C/2/

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 10 Jul 2010 11:24

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 10 Jul 2010 11:34

CNN caves in


More importantly, plenty of American journalists and politicians have shown "respect" (and in some cases, fawning admiration) for various world figures with hands far bloodier than Ayatollah Fadlallah -- including Mao Zedong, Ariel Sharon, the Shah of Iran, or even Kim il Sung -- but it didn't cost them their jobs. And let's not forget that plenty of American journalists treat our own leaders with plenty of deference and "respect," even after the latter have launched unnecessary wars in which tens of thousands have died or authorized the torture of detainees. And as Josh Marshall notes over at TPM, getting fired after a successful twenty-year career over a 140-character tweet "just doesn't seem right."

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 10 Jul 2010 15:13

x post

shyamd wrote:The Iranian leadership is defiant. They know US does not want war. They also think that Israel cannot do anything (its too small in their opinion), as US is restraining KSA and Israel at the moment. Iran will go full steam ahead - without anyone being able to do anything. No point isolating Iran, India should expand relations and get the business fallout. Even Gulf based people who work in MoDs reckon that Israel is in no position to do anything overt against Iran.

UAE is the biggest investment/holiday/business destination for Iranians. Now that Abu Dhabi has forced all the other emirates to cut trade with Iran and sanction businesses with links to the Pasdarans, this will significantly impact relations. BP has stopped refuelling Iran Air flights. To travel to Tehran, a lot (most) of flights travel via Dubai. Now that BP has stopped refuelling, even in Dubai, Iranian trade is going to be significantly affected. India stands a lot to gain - as I said the banking sector which has a big base in Dubai is hit heavily. So, India is sending a banking delegation. India is gonna make a fair bit of money. Perhaps Mumbai will be the next Iranian hub, who knows.

Folks. Just noticed something. WAM - is the Emirati State news agency. Used by the Royal family to announce anything of national importance, family stuff like weddings.

Just noticed they reported on the India Iran signing MoU's.

Clicked on their international section - most of the news was about UAE ambassador's activities, and the recent drama with a WSJ journalist misquoting a UAE diplomat on Iran. Then there was this:

India rolls out indigenous naval combat jet

Abu Dhabi is sure cozying upto India. People across the borders are closely watching India and its achievements. Be proud.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 11 Jul 2010 02:41

>>Be proud.

Correct, and it is not said often enough. Be proud. We can walk with our heads held high. We have survived a tumultous six odd decades and kept our democratic traditions intact, our institutions though far from perfect, are functional and slowly but surely deliver the goods. After slowly entrenching political freedoms, now we are in the process of internalising economic freedoms, and we have always had the freedom of faith. No country in the world can claim that, coming out of nearly a millennium of being ruled by minorities of one sort or another, no civilisation can claim that after facing repeated murderous holocausts that have led to the death of millions - and we have nevertheless maintained our basic humanity, and our overall non-confrontational, inclusive, co-operative ethos. This is no small feat, and it is in no small measure because of our civilisational heritage.

Be proud, but let's also be careful that we do not get arrogant or get infected by hubris. We are far from where we should be, where we could be. India can be a source of ideas the world can live by. With our conduct and with our national character we should ensure that it is.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby ramana » 11 Jul 2010 04:26

The sad thing is the world is used to the image of the obsequious Indian thru the centuries that any show of self confidence now will be seen as arrogance.

But as I tell my friends self confidence is what I got and no one can take it away from me.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 11 Jul 2010 08:02

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby JE Menon » 11 Jul 2010 15:28

>>The sad thing is the world is used to the image of the obsequious Indian thru the centuries that any show of self confidence now will be seen as arrogance.

This is also unfortunately likely... This is why I stressed that we should not let it be seen as arrogance, nor should we be afflicted by hubris (very possible in our case :) )... A quiet self-confidence is nothing to be worried about. No need to get into extended arguments. Occasionally correct misperceptions, no need to get into extended detailed arguments. Sometimes this requires gracefully backing off with the "whatever you say boss" approach... often we will find that most people are reasonably receptive, and even if they are not, datapoints will be internalised without they themselves recognising it. Stick to the facts, and don't emphasise past glories too much. Women are often the most receptive, and they are quite influential especially with the next generation - i.e. the children. In any case, already there is a sea change in perceptions, and this is not likely to be easily reversed. One problem, and most may not see it as such, is that there may be a tendency to be stereotypical towards the "Indian = brains" direction.

Personally, I interact with a vast number of nationalities on an almost daily basis, and I see this stereotype occurring frequently. Not all of us can live up to it :D, myself included - sometimes you just want to chill and be a total moron if you know what I mean

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 11 Jul 2010 17:02


'Modesty' standard instituted in Sderot businesses
A new type of religious certification has been launched in Sderot: A modesty standard. Businesses that commit to ensure modest dress and modest advertisements are to be granted a "modesty certification" after religious inspectors from the Ma'amakim organization examine the business's premises and certify that it upholds the standard during periodic visits.

Queen Elizabeth II returns after 31 years

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will make a state visit to the UAE in the autumn, her first trip to the country in 31 years.

Buckingham Palace issued a statement yesterday confirming the visit, after the British monarch accepted an invitation from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

The dates and itinerary of her trip are being withheld for security reasons but it is expected the Queen and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will come some time after Ramadan.

From the UAE, the Queen, 84, will fly to Oman, where she will join celebrations to mark the 40th year of Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s rule.

'Centre will act tough on erring Saudi firms'

Express News Service
First Published : 11 Jul 2010 05:00:17 AM IST
Last Updated : 11 Jul 2010 10:12:12 AM IST

KOCHI: Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Talmiz Ahmad has said that the Indian authorities were planning to bring in a system for blacklisting companies and their owners, who harass Indian employees in Saudi Arabia.

He was speaking at a reception accorded to him by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. To avoid such incidents it was important to prevent people going abroad with fake passports and through other fraudulent measures, the Ambassador said.

The Ambassador asked the trading community in India to come forward to set up jointventures with Saudi Arabian trades. Saudi Arabia is going through a phase of political reforms and self examination.

In the wake of the agreement on energy security partnership between India and Saudi Arabia, new relationships are being formed between the two countries in political, cultural, and economic sectors.

"The relationship at the political level, include intelligence and security sharing, defence partnership, and political dialogues. Similarly, there is the need of cultural engagement, which will give exposure to each other, and finally an economic cooperation which will bring in a qualitative change in the relationship," he said.

Talmiz Ahmad asked the trading community here to focus on jointventures with Saudi Arabia in that country. "The challenge before us is to make the presence of Indian corporate sector in Saudi. There are big trading opportunities and challenges," he said, adding that the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector could benefit from trade with Saudi.

He said initiatives in the energyrelated sector, tourism, technology and services sector are going to be more crucial as the country had signed a partnership with Saudi for cooperation in these areas. "They are focusing more on technology and infrastructure development. These are the areas where we can contribute," he said.

Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Jasbir Singh Chawla and former president Anwar Hashim were also present.

INDIA: Universities eyeing foreign campuses
Government-funded institutions are not far behind. The proposal to set up an IIT campus in Qatar has been given an initial go-ahead.

While India's Education Ministry has traditionally been opposed to IITs or IIMs venturing abroad, arguing that 'elite' educational institutions must focus their energies on India alone, the new leadership in the ministry is keen for Brand India to make a mark abroad.

Brand IIM is also set to go global. IIM Ahmedabad is already in talks with several countries to set up a campus abroad.

"We want to make an international move and are looking at China, Malaysia and South-East Asian countries. We also want to strengthen our research infrastructure and ambience," said a senior professor at IIMA in charge of administration.

IIM Bangalore has floated the idea of an international campus in Singapore in a vision document it has submitted to the education ministry.

Education Minister Kapil Sibal said in a meeting with the IIMs last October that "in principle, the government of India has no objection to setting up an IIM abroad".

Hizballah advances 20,000 troops to Israeli border
Probably just a little show of force from Iran as the US is packing the persian gulf with warships. Both sides are careful not to start anything, Iran def has the upper handin this tussle.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 12 Jul 2010 20:08

India and Oman Sign MoU on Cultural Cooperation

Oman-India fund to be inked this week
MUSCAT: A $100 million ($38.5m) Oman-India joint investment fund will soon become a reality with the two countries set to sign the final agreement this week.

The Sultanate's Minister of National Economy and Deputy Chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki will sign the pact with his Indian counterpart during his visit to New Delhi between July 13 and 15.

The fund is expected to provide the much-needed fillip to bilateral investment and trade, an Indian Embassy press release has said.

A memorandum of understanding to set up India-Oman Joint Investment Fund was signed between the two countries during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Oman in November 2008. Although the initial corpus is $100 million, this can go up to $1.5 billion later. The State General Reserve Fund of Oman and State Bank of India will contribute the corpus money from Oman and India, respectively.

The projects
With this, Oman will become one of the first countries to sign a joint investment fund with India. The fund will be used to finance projects in tourism, infrastructure, health, telecommunication and urban infrastructure in either country.

The Sultanate is keen to diversify its oil and gas industry-based economy to a modern industrialised economy. While Oman needs investment in manufacturing, tourism, warehousing and other supporting industries, India is keen to develop its ports, highways, power, refineries, refrigeration and related industries.

The joint fund, apart from increasing bilateral commercial relations, will also enhance people-to-people contact, the statement said.

Trade between the countries touched $2 billion last year and is expected to touch $2.5 billion this year.

While over 100 Indian companies operate in the Sultanate, over 30 Omani companies are present in India. There has been a growing interest among Omani companies to invest in India in recent years.

For instance, Oman Oil Company last year acquired a 24 per cent stake in the 6-million tonnes refinery set up by Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd.

During HE Macki's visit under the fin min's invite starting tomorrow, he will meet senior Fin min govt officials and also businessmen explaining the sultanates opportunities. The new Oman-Indian joint fund will have its headquarters in Mumbai.

All this forms part of India and Omani economic cooperation.

Indian prisoners in Dubai refuse to be transferred to Indian jails, call them 'hell'
76-year-old prisoner, Vinayak, who is in a Dubai jail on drug charges, has said that he doesn't want to go to India to serve his remaining term because prisons there are like "hell".

Buzz up!
According to Gulf News, Vinayak is among the scores of prisoners who may be given a chance to serve their remaining prison terms back in India.

The UAE and India are on the verge of finalising an agreement in which thousands of Indian prisoners here will be able to serve their terms back in Indian jails.

The response to this has been lukewarm as Indian prisoners in the UAE said they prefer to serve their jail sentence in Dubai and not in India, even though they would be near their families.

Vinayak is among five prisoners convicted of drug charges by a Dubai court and serving life terms in the country's central jail. They have been in jail for 12 years now.

"I cannot go to Indian jails at this age, here they treat me well. The jail is clean and I am given health care," he said.

Vinayak's 82-year-old sister, he says, has repeatedly asked the Indian embassy to help him, but the only response they received was: wait.

Another Gujarati prisoner and Vinayak's accomplice, 45-year-old Y.G., has said that he has been in jail from 1998 for dealing in drugs.

"I am one of five prisoners who are here for many years after being convicted in a drug related case, I prefer to finish my jail term in the UAE despite the fact that my partners and I were not included in two pardons but I still have faith in the generosity of people here," he said.

He said he doesn't want to be in Indian jail because his family approached the Indian authorities several times for help but got no response. (ANI)

Egyptian jailed for raping Indian housewife in UAE
A Sharjah court has sentenced an Egyptian to 10 years in jail after founding him guilty of raping an Indian housewife.

UAE delegation to woo Puducherry entrepreneurs

KSA Deputy Minister of Defence Khaled bin Sultan(the one that is announced his campaign to become def min) has also cancelled his visit to Paris. Looks like it might be something to do with the release of King Abdullah's comments which got leaked to the french newspaper about Iran. I doubt cooperation will be affected.

After his visit to Washington DC, King Abdullah called up King of Jordan and gave him clearance to become a nuclear hub using french help. So he told jordan to build reactors and start giving mining concessions out. Areva has a big contract to mine uranium in Jordan (they found a lot of uranium in Jordan). After Washington meet, Crown Prince Sultan was due to travel to Paris to sign the nuclear cooperation agreement with Paris. The agreement will create a nuclear energy city near Riyad. Obama was pissed off and told King Abdullah to sign something like the UAE-US nuke cooperation agreement, but King abdullah asked washington why they didnt run this deal past KSA govt before offering it to UAE. KSA is not on great terms at the moment with the Al Nahyans of Abu Dhabi - probably due to this Gulf currency drama as well as border disputes. US UAE nuke deal was brought forward, because UAE agreed to sanction iranian firms. So KSA is pissed as they want to be in the know of measures against Iran, and they felt cut out.

Amman has presented to Washington an ambitious program for developing its uranium wealth and in parallel building enrichment plants that would make the kingdom the hub for distributing nuclear fuel to all the arab countries. However US disproves. Washington has okayed the mining of it, but not enrichment. This disagreement has held up nuke cooperation talks. The American side insists on guarantees from Jordan that would oblige it to buy reactor fuel from the international market - a safeguard against its potential diversion for military uses.

Now with KSA King A backing Jordan is going full steam ahead with French help. Hosni Mubarak went to Paris for medical reasons, but before he asked if he could get integrated with this KSA - Jordan - France program.

DNW also confirms that a saudi delegation would like to buy a military observation satellite off the shelf from France. France will get the contract to build ground stations in KSA.,

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 13 Jul 2010 09:30

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Philip » 13 Jul 2010 18:25

"He was pushed" (by Mossad) alleges widow of a billionaire arms dealer.Well the man was in a very dangerous trade to begin with (alleged to have also been a spy,double agent,poss.triple agent) and like the Canadian artillery genius Gerald Bull (who was designing the mother of all guns for Saddam),perhaps crossed the line when it came to Israel's security.This is an intriguing tale (where the victim's shoes mysteriously have disappeared from the police!),read the full report.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/ju ... ser-mossad

"Mossad agents murdered my husband", says widow of billionaire arms dealerIn 2007, Ashraf Marwan fell to his death from his balcony in London. Mona Nasser explains why she is sure he was pushed.

He was accused of being both an Israeli spy and an Egyptian double agent. Three years after his death, Ashraf Marwan's career and mysterious death in London remain among the most intriguing unsolved riddles of modern espionage.

The billionaire arms dealer, who was the son-in-law of Egypt's second president, fell to his death from a fifth-floor West End balcony on a summer's day in 2007. His death in the heart of wealthy London made world headlines.

An inquest this week will attempt finally to unravel the circumstances of Marwan's fatal fall. In an exclusive interview, his widow has told the Observer that in the days before he died her husband believed his life was in danger. After Marwan died, his family discovered that the draft manuscript of his memoirs – which threatened to expose secrets of the Middle East's intelligence agencies – had disappeared from his bookshelf.

Mona Nasser, Marwan's wife of 40 years and one of two daughters of the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, said that her husband confided that he was being pursued by assassins nine days before his death. She believes he was killed by the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, and is expected to be a witness at the coroner's inquest that opens on Monday.

Since his death, there has been intense speculation over the secretive life of Marwan and his role in the Yom Kippur war, waged between Israel and a coalition of Arab states backing Egypt and Syria in 1973. Mossad agents say Marwan was their heroic spy at the heart of the Egyptian government. But both Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's current president, and the former head of Israeli military intelligence have indicated that Marwan was a double agent feeding misinformation to the Israelis.

Marwan, 63, was found dead in June 2007 on the pavement beneath his exclusive Carlton House Terrace flat, a stone's throw from Trafalgar Square. At least one witness claims to have seen two men of Middle Eastern appearance on his fifth-floor balcony seconds after he fell.

Nasser, speaking from her home in Cairo, said that Marwan told her three times in the four years before he died that his life was in peril. The last time he did so, they were alone together in their London flat. "He turned to me and said: 'My life is in danger. I might be killed. I have a lot of different enemies.' He knew they were coming after him. He was killed by Mossad," she said.

On the day that Marwan died, he had been working hard on his memoirs of his role in the 1970s, according to family members. His wife said the lock on the front door had been left on the latch by one of their household staff. A housekeeper in the flat was the only other person present in the 15-room apartment, giving an intruder ample time to find Marwan and kill him, she claimed.

"I believe that the intruders took him to the bedroom, they hit him and they threw him out of the window over the balcony. Someone on a fourth-floor balcony who gave evidence to the police heard him scream before he fell. Do people committing suicide scream before they fall?" she said

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 13 Jul 2010 18:44

EU asks India to co-chair anti-piracy group
The European Union has asked India to co-chair a key group that coordinates piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa, a position that China had been coveting as it seeks to bolster its presence in the Indian Ocean. But India is reluctant to accept it as it means a larger naval deployment that may not be feasible at the moment.

The offer was made during the visit of the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherin Ashton, to India last month.

'It was at the delegation level talks between Ashton and (External Affairs Minister) S.M. Krishna that the EU proposed that India could be made co-chair of SHADE,' a senior government official told IANS.

Publicly, Ashton had made it clear that her trip had been to solicit India's help in anti-piracy operations, but had not given any specific information on the cooperation required from India.

SHADE - or Shared Awareness and Deconfliction - was a forum established in December 2008 to coordinate activities between the countries and coalitions involved in military counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean region.

The waters off the coast of Somalia on the Horn of Africa had seen an astronomical rise in piracy attack in 2008 to 135, including seizure of 44 ships. With heavy military presence, the attacks have come down in 2010 to 67 incidents in the first three months, compared to 102 for the same period in 2009.

Based in Bahrain, SHADE, with 26 member nations and three coalitions, meets on a monthly basis. It is currently co-chaired by rotation between Coalition Maritime Forces, European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

When the offer was first made at the delegation-level talks, MEA officials had apparently not given it an enthusiastic reception.

The EU delegation was however persistent, with the offer again repeated at the meeting between Catherin Ashton and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.

'It was the NSA who actually asked the MEA to take the suggestion seriously,' said a senior official.

An important member of the delegation was the EU chief of military staff, Lieutenant A.G.D. Van Osch, who had a separate meeting with the Indian naval chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma

The proposal is significant as it comes only a few weeks after the June 2 meeting of SHADE, when it seemed that China would become the co-chair of the international grouping.

Ranjit Rai, vice-president of the Indian Maritime Foundation, a Pune based think tank, had been an observer of the June 2 SHADE meeting, where he was witness to the Indian delegation's successful barricading of China's bid to become co-chair.

Since January, it was clear that China wanted to be chair of the group. It was expected that China would have a smooth path to the post.

'All the 17 delegates by turn gave their assent to China's membership. But, when it came to India, our representative objected saying that the terms of reference of the chairmanship had to be laid down,' Rai told IANS.

It took all the delegates by surprise. 'The chairman, NATO commander Adrain Vander Linde, was rather irritated and asked if India wants to become a co-chair,' he said.

But the Indian delegate insisted that the duties of the co-chair had to be spelled out clearly.

Two weeks later on June 22, Catherine Ashton came to Delhi with the formal offer to make India a co-chair.

China's expanded role had come after it agreed to have a permanent presence in a sector of the internationally recommended transit corridor, which are protected shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden. It had so far deployed three ships in escorting Chinese ships outside the internationally recommended transit corridor.

India is especially wary of China's enhanced role in SHADE, as it has publicly suggested that the region should be broken up for patrol for individual countries.

This would put a restriction on India's movement in the Indian Ocean, with Indian officials arguing that this would run foul of the United Nations Convention of Law of the Seas.

According to officials, India may find it difficult to accept the co-chair of SHADE, as it would mean enhancing the number of ships in the region, which may not be possible due to technical and political reasons. The Indian government had first taken the deployment of ships with reluctance in the first place.

India has only deployed one naval ship at a time in the transit corridor since October 2008 and has escorted over 1000 ships during the period, flying flags of different countries. It has also patrolled the extended economic zones of island nations like Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives.


The Omani minister of National Economy H.E Macki met with MoS for Finance today. Discussed Oman air increasing routes to various parts of India. Reviewed Omani investments in India. They also said Oman will increase investments in Oman over next 5 years which will require more Indian construction workers.

He visited Sultan Qaboos Library in the Islamic Centre in New Delhi.

A video on the model of the first Gurudwara in Jebel Ali, Dubai.


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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Philip » 15 Jul 2010 18:22

The UAE's stance on the Iranian N-bomb.They want Iran defanged militarily by the US,in other words "war" according to this informed expert of the region.

http://www.basilandspice.com/journal/72 ... ilandspice

(7/2010) UAE Will Support Strike Against Iran If Necessary
Jul 8, 2010
Rick Francona--

President Obama, you constantly use the phrase, "Let me be clear."

Take a lesson in clarity from Yusif 'Utaybah, the distinguished ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States. Call him - he's at (202) 243-2400; I am sure he'll take your call.

You can't be much more clear than this. Ambassador 'Utaybah was speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival about the Iranian nuclear program. The ambassador stated that if sanctions fail to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the UAE supports an American military strike to halt the program. He went on to explain that the consequences of such an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities - and there certainly will be consequences - are far less damaging in the long term than Iran in possession of nuclear weapons.

In his words: "I think it's a cost-benefit analysis - I think despite the large amount of trade we [UAE] do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what."

Here is where he get even clearer: "We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. The United States may be able to live with it; we can't."

The UAE is not the only Gulf Arab country to have these views. I would estimate that neither Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar nor Oman want to be neighbors with a nuclear-armed Iran. However, as the ambassador points out, if the United States will not fulfill its traditional leadership role in the region - which includes protection for the Gulf Arab states - these states will be forced to either make an accommodation with Iran, or in the case of larger countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, acquire their own nuclear arsenal.

Failure to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, in the eyes of these countries, will be an abdication of America's role in the Gulf - it will be the end of our status as the key power in the region. On top of that, we do not need a nuclear arms race in the Persian Gulf.

Most of us who speak with people in the Middle East have comments similar to those of Ambassador 'Utaybah. I was a bit taken aback by a remark by Representative Jane Harmon (D-CA) that she had never heard an Arab government official say this before. Either she meant that she never heard them say it publicly, or she's not listening. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

I served as the defense attaché at the American embassy in Abu Dhabi - it was a privilege to work with the defense officials and military officers of the UAE. Reading the ambassador's words reaffirms my high regard for the Emiris - they get it.

How about some clarity on Iran, Mr. President - a clear, simple statement that the United States will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Take a lesson from the ambassador.

(Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona is a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, a veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, and service in the Balkans. His assignments include the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency, with tours of duty in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, and operational duties in virtually every country in the Middle East.

During the last year of the Iran–Iraq war in 1988, Rick was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as a liaison officer to the Iraqi armed forces intelligence service, where he served in the field with the Iraqi army and flew with the Iraqi Air Force.

Throughout the first Gulf War he served as the personal Arabic interpreter and advisor on Iraq to General Norman Schwarzkopf and later co-authored the report to Congress on the conduct of the war. His is the author of book, Ally to Adversary – An Eyewitness Account of Iraq’s Fall from Grace.)

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Time: An Attack on Iran - Back on the Table

Postby aqkhan » 15 Jul 2010 21:53

An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table


In late 2006, George W. Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and asked if military action against Iran's nuclear program was feasible. The unanimous answer was no. Air strikes could take out some of Iran's nuclear facilities, but there was no way to eliminate all of them. Some of the nuclear labs were located in heavily populated areas; others were deep underground. And Iran's ability to strike back by unconventional means, especially through its Hizballah terrorist network, was formidable. The military option was never officially taken off the table. At least, that's what U.S. officials always said. But the emphasis was on the implausibility of a military strike. "Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote in 2008. It would be "disastrous on a number of levels."

Gates is sounding more belligerent these days. "I don't think we're prepared to even talk about containing a nuclear Iran," he told Fox News on June 20. "We do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons." In fact, Gates was reflecting a new reality in the military and intelligence communities. Diplomacy and economic pressure remain the preferred means to force Iran to negotiate a nuclear deal, but there isn't much hope that's going to happen. "Will [sanctions] deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability?" CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC News on June 27. "Probably not." So the military option is very much back on the table.

What has changed? "I started to rethink this last November," a recently retired U.S. official with extensive knowledge of the issue told me. "We offered the Iranians a really generous deal, which their negotiators accepted," he went on, referring to the offer to exchange Iran's 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium (3.5% pure) for higher-enriched (20%) uranium for medical research and use. "When the leadership shot that down, I began to think, Well, we made the good-faith effort to engage. What do we do now?"

Other intelligence sources say that the U.S. Army's Central Command, which is in charge of organizing military operations in the Middle East, has made some real progress in planning targeted air strikes — aided, in large part, by the vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region. "There really wasn't a military option a year ago," an Israeli military source told me. "But they've gotten serious about the planning, and the option is real now." Israel has been brought into the planning process, I'm told, because U.S. officials are frightened by the possibility that the right-wing Netanyahu government might go rogue and try to whack the Iranians on its own.

One other factor has brought the military option to a low boil: Iran's Sunni neighbors really want the U.S. to do it. When United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said on July 6 that he favored a military strike against Iran despite the economic and military consequences to his country, he was reflecting an increasingly adamant attitude in the region. Senior American officials who travel to the Gulf frequently say the Saudis, in particular, raise the issue with surprising ardor. Everyone from the Turks to the Egyptians to the Jordanians are threatening to go nuclear if Iran does. That is seen as a real problem in the most volatile region in the world: What happens, for example, if Saudi Arabia gets a bomb, and the deathless monarchy there is overthrown by Islamist radicals?

Of course, it is also possible that this low-key saber-rattling is simply a message the U.S. is trying to send the Iranians: it's time to deal. There have been rumblings from Tehran about resuming negotiations, although the regime has very little credibility right now. The assumption — shared even by some of Iran's former friends, like the Russians — is that any Iranian offer to talk is really an offer to stall. A specific, plausible Iranian concession may be needed to get the process back on track. But it is also possible that the saber-rattling is not a bluff, that the U.S. really won't tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to do something awful to stop it.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 16 Jul 2010 05:23

'Lamhaa' banned in Gulf; Oman gives thumbs up

We can always rely on Oman, which is a vibrant society and a true ally of India.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 16 Jul 2010 22:40

Fibi Netanyahu
In 2001, PM boasted of manipulating Oslo accords


A newly revealed tape of Netanyahu in 2001, being interviewed while he thinks the cameras are off, shows him in a radically different light. In it, Netanyahu dismisses American foreign policy as easy to maneuver, boasts of having derailed the Oslo accords with political trickery, and suggests that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to “beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it’s unbearable” (all translations are mine).

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 16 Jul 2010 23:23

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 17 Jul 2010 00:08

How a mid-level British diplomat used me to keep President George W. Bush from going wobbly on Iraq sanctions


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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 18 Jul 2010 00:38

Word around that Prince Muqrin influence in ruling circle is waning probably due to Iran and that Sultan bin Salman will take over Foreign intelligence affairs or will get a senior posting.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 21 Jul 2010 21:11

Egyptian leader's health on radar of U.S.
U.S. and Western intelligence agencies assess that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is terminally ill, and the Obama administration is closely watching the expected transition of power in a nation that for decades has been an anchor of stability in the volatile Middle East and a key U.S. ally.

An intelligence officer from a Central European service told The Washington Times last week that his service estimates that the Egyptian president will be dead within a year, and before Cairo's scheduled presidential elections in September 2011.

Both the National Intelligence Council and the U.S. Central Command have tasked intelligence analysts to start gaming out scenarios after Mr. Mubarak's death and how his passing will affect the transition of power, according to three U.S. officials.

Steven Cook, a senior fellow and Egyptian-affairs specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that when he was in the Egyptian capital two months ago, several interlocutors told him the leader was not well.

"When I was in Cairo in May, it was interesting. People were mellow about the prospect of him being ill. Everyone understood the end was near; the estimates were 12 to 18 months," Mr. Cook said.

He said he heard that an entire floor of the military hospital in the Cairo neighborhood of Mahdi was prepared to treat him. He also said, "I heard that they pump him up with something that makes him able to function, so he can do these meetings and go to these public events."

A senior U.S. intelligence officer said: "We have access to, for lack of a better word, his court. We know he is dying, but we don't know when he will die. You can be dying for a long time, by the way. Look at [former Cuban President Fidel] Castro."

Kuwait Air Force technical committee on selecting their fighter jet has said that F-18 is better than Rafale. Rafale was chosen by govt, but all sorts of drama played out and MPs said they won't allow Rafale to be chosen and King said okay, lets ask technical committee again. Committee has reported that they prefer F-18.

KSA MoD is deciding whether to go in for F-15 Strike eagles or more EF Typhoons. Israel vetoed F15SE.
Big news about King Abdullah cancelling visit to France. Every single deal with French companies and govt has been put on hold by KSA govt. King Abdullah has asked France to apologise on the issue. He was due to open the Louvre exhibitiion on saudi Art which the King is really passionate about. Saud Al Faisal KSA FM tried to negotiate with his counterpart but France refusing to apologise. IOL that a serious diplomatic spat has taken place between both sides. French companies bidding for contracts in KSA are now having a very tough time.

IOL says there are lots of reasons being thrown in the media - such as leaking King Abdullah's comments on Iran and Israel to a french minister to a Le Figaro. But the reasons go deeper and reflects Sarkozy's poor relationship with the ruling families of gulf states. While the Emir of Qatar appreciates Sarkozy's hyperactivity, the Saudi Arabians and other Emirati leaders do not appreciate his impatience.

It has also gone down badly in the very protocol-conscious Gulf that the emissaries sent by Elysee Palace to the region all hail from North Africa and have, in the eyes of the Saudi and UAE royals, less noble origins.

So cancelling his visit to Paris was meant to be a snub directly to Sarkozy.

A third source also talks about Saudi's not liking the direct style of Sarkozy and being angry at French media. King Abdullah has rescheduled visit to September.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 21 Jul 2010 23:27

2 interesting articles for readers to get through as well as an update above.

India's Israeli-Arab tightrope walk

"We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret. On the other hand, what is a secret is what is the defence relationship. And with all due respect, the secret part of it will remain secret." - Mark Sofer, Israel's ambassador to India, in a recent interview given to OutlookIndia.com.

India and Israel were born within months of each other. While the former became an independent state on August 15, 1947, the latter was born on May 14, 1948, following the decision of the United Nations to partition British Mandate Palestine.

India, which had opposed this partition, remained officially cold to the Jewish state. In May 1949, it voted (in vain) against the admission of Israel into the UN. In early 1950, after recognising the state of Israel, a visibly reluctant New Delhi allowed it to set up an "immigration office" in the port city of Mumbai. This eventually morphed into a "trade office" and then into a consulate.

But New Delhi dithered over according full diplomatic recognition to Israel until early 1992, when the two nations formally opened their respective embassies in Tel Aviv and New Delhi.

Pro-Arab leanings

Indian foreign policy in the early days after its independence was heavily pro-Arab, partly due to the fact that India has a huge Muslim population which empathised with the Arab world and viewed Israel with suspicion and distrust. But that was not the only reason.

Almost a decade before independence, the father of the Indian freedom movement, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, had clearly articulated his position on the issue. In an editorial in the Harijan, a widely circulated Indian weekly, on November 11, 1938, Gandhi declared: "My sympathies are with the Jews ... but my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me ... Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood? Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home."

India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, agreed. Nehru was among the founder members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), along with Presidents Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt. This relationship with Nasser and other Arab members of the movement made it difficult for Nehru to align openly with Israel. Besides, while the NAM was an attempt to stay non-aligned during the Cold War, Israel was seen as too closely aligned with the US.

Another reason for India's coldness towards Israel was that, after independence, a large number of Indian workers migrated to the Gulf. The money that they sent back to India formed a sizeable chunk of India's foreign exchange inflow.

This foreign policy position laid out by Nehru and Gandhi was challenged, however, by opposition parties in India from both ends of the political spectrum; they consistently argued for better relations with Israel.

Establishing relations

Although formal relations between India and Israel were established only in 1992 during the tenure of Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, informal relations in the areas of defence and intelligence had commenced long before that. It is interesting that Rao, who was prime minister from June 1991 to May 1996, also aggressively wooed Iran, a nation which did not recognise Israel's statehood, preferring to describe it, instead, as "the Zionist regime".

India's historically hostile relations with Pakistan are often cited as a key reason for the India-Israel defence and intelligence link. But military aid from Israel (mostly in the form of artillery shells) was received by India even during the 1962 India-China border war, which ended only when the Chinese unilaterally withdrew to their pre-attack positions.

Before Rao officially recognised Israel in 1992, Indian and Israeli intelligence officials often met surreptitiously in third countries, particularly after the India-Pakistan war of 1971.

During that war, which led to the birth of Bangladesh from Pakistan's eastern wing, Israel again helped India with mortars and ammunition. One of the Indian heroes of that war was the then eastern command chief, General JFR Jacob - a Jew.

Then, during the Kargil war of May-July 1999, when India attempted to repel Pakistani intruders who had taken up positions on the higher reaches of the Kargil mountains, Israel quickly sent Heron and Searcher unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to locate and identify the Pakistani-held positions. It also supplied ammunition for the Bofors field guns and night vision equipment, both of which played key roles in the conflict.

Endorsing Palestinian cause
Yasser Arafat, the late leader of the PLO, made several visits to India [GALLO/GETTY]

Paradoxically, India also, simultaneously, endorsed and espoused the Palestinian cause. On its website, the Indian ministry of external affairs says with regard to its relations with the Palestinian people: "India's empathy with the Palestinian cause and its friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of its time-tested foreign policy. In 1947, India voted against the partition of Palestine at the United Nations General Assembly. India was the first non-Arab state to recognise the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organisation] as sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. India was one of the first countries to recognise the state of Palestine in 1988. In 1996, India opened its Representative Office to the Palestine Authority in Gaza. The office was moved to Ramallah in 2003."

The founder and chief of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, had made numerous visits to India, where he was always received warmly. In April 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Arafat's headquarters in Tunis after a state visit to Libya. When Gandhi was assassinated a few months later by her bodyguards in New Delhi, a shocked Arafat wept in public.

One might wonder how New Delhi reconciled these seemingly irreconcilable positions. It did so by getting the Palestinian Authority on board. Zikrur Rahman, the Indian representative to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, told the London-based Al-Haqeq newspaper on 12 May 2007: "When we recognised Israel and normalised relations with her, we did that after taking the approval of the Palestinian leadership; we said, after you agree we'll recognise [Israel] .... The Palestinian leadership told us: 'There are signed accords between us [and Israel] and we are now talking to the Israelis; your establishing relations with Israel helps us.'"

India has also been consistently contributing huge sums of money as grants for budget and development aid to the Palestinian Authority. A recent example took place during the visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India in February 2010.

On that occasion, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a grant of $10mn as budget support to the Palestinian National Authority. This followed several earlier grants of similar amounts, as well as assistance with the development of schools, stadiums, roads and hospitals. India also trains Palestinian diplomats.

An 'unwritten axis'

Over the years, however, the India-Israel relationship has burgeoned into a situation where Israel is poised to become the largest defence supplier to India, a position currently held by Russia. Israel also trains Indian special forces, which are then deployed in the troubled region of Kashmir and in India's north-east areas.

Apart from strategic and military interactions between the two nations, Israeli sensors and satellites are used extensively to monitor the Kashmir border to detect infiltration by insurgents from Kashmir and Pakistan.

The events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent "war on terror" served to further strengthen this relationship. So did the 26 November 2008 Pakistani terrorist strike in Mumbai. The three-day ordeal left some 200 people dead and more than 300 wounded. Six of the dead were Jews at the Chabad House, a Jewish centre near Nariman point, which was specifically targetted.

But it is not just defence and security that India and Israel collaborate on, though those sectors form a huge, though mostly secret, chunk of bilateral relations. India is also increasingly using Israel's sophisticated drip irrigation technology to boost agricultural production. Non-military bilateral trade stood at $4.2bn in 2009, up from $200mn in 2001. Information technology, telecommunications, energy, chemicals, agriculture, and even real estate and space exploration are areas where there are significant business exchanges.

India recently put an Israeli satellite into orbit. The two sides already have several joint working groups, committees and other bilateral institutional mechanisms. Key among these are foreign office consultations, counter-terrorism, defence cooperation, trade and economic cooperation, agriculture, science and technology, and a dialogue between national security advisers.

While officially tight-lipped over nuclear cooperation, the two states clearly share deep concerns about the possibility of nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, as well as Iran's nuclear ambitions.

In September 2003, during the visit to India by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (the first such visit by an Israeli prime minister), his deputy (now late) Yosef Lapid told journalists that an "unwritten, abstract" axis had been created between Israel, India and the US. While there was no "formal triangular agreement ... there is mutual interest of the three countries in making the world a more secure place for all of us. There is American support for development of this unwritten axis," Lapid told reporters in New Delhi. Therefore, "in the abstract sense, we are creating such an axis".

In a talk delivered at the Indian Council for World Affairs the same day, he warned that both nations face threats from terrorism and "fanatic" Muslims, and said the "moment terrorists laid hands on nuclear weapons the face of the world will change".

Noting that Israel had accepted the possible existence of a Palestinian state, Lapid said this could become a reality the moment "Arabs stop terrorising us". At the same time, the strengthening of Indo-Israeli ties should not be a "disturbing factor" for Arab countries, and "the Indian government has a right to establish relations with any country," he added.

Arabs 'losing India'
The Mumbai attacks brought India and Israel closer together [GALLO/GETTY]

"What made India change its mind and throw itself in the arms of a country that occupies Arab and Palestinian land, to the point where it has played host to Ariel Sharon?" asked Mustafa El-Feki, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Egyptian parliament, and a former Egyptian ambassador to India, in an article in Al-Ahram Weekly.

"India and Israel have their own separate political agendas. India wishes to have access to US and Israeli technology, particularly in the development of weapons. Israel, for its part, wishes to have the political backing of a powerful nation," he wrote.

El-Feki pointed to several reasons for this cosy relationship between India and Israel.

First, we have made the error of viewing the Indian-Pakistani conflict from an Islamic perspective. We have tried to "Islamise" the ongoing conflict in South Asia, posing as protectors of Islam and custodians of the international community. And we have overlooked the regional role of India, with Arab leaders showing up in New Delhi much less frequently than before.

Second, he wrote, was the rejection of India's application for membership of the OIC. "A country with 120 million Muslim citizens applied for membership and what happened? Islamic countries, in typical naiveté, rejected the Indian application, imagining this would please Pakistan and teach India a lesson," he said.

Third, according to El-Feki, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, India moved closer to the US for both political and economic reasons. He argued: "I wouldn't be surprised to see India assume the role of a policeman in the Indian Ocean and the outskirts of the Gulf, with US blessing and with the aim of encircling so-called Islamic violence. This would be in harmony with Israel's agenda, and it may pave the way to a scheme of joint control over the Greater Middle East."

Making a strong case for an even-handed Arab approach towards India and Pakistan, the former ambassador to India recalled that during his time in India, the Palestinian ambassador to New Delhi enjoyed the privilege of meeting the Indian prime minister at any time he wished to do so. But as the Islamic phenomenon spread and some Arab policies acquired a religious tint, India grew visibly suspicious of the Arab and Islamic worlds. To make things worse, Arab diplomacy in India was lackadaisical over the past two decades ... We have lost India so far for no good reason, I should say .... It is time we mend this error. It is time to bring Arab countries closer to both India and Pakistan, rather than take one side or keep our distance altogether. I believe the Arabs have only themselves to blame for India's change of heart on the Palestinian question." (my comment: I think this is now becoming official policy with the GCC)

'Enlightened self-interest'

Despite the rapidly increasing synergy with Israel, however, India continues to enjoy reasonably cordial relations with the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council. India has been attending the annual Arab League summits as an observer since 2007, and the first Arab-India Cultural Week was held in New Delhi in 2008.

In a statement released on the eve of the 65th anniversary of the Arab League on March 27 this year, the League declared: "There is a need for collective and dedicated efforts for strengthening Indo-Arab ties with further building up of relations between India and the Arab world, including in the fields of Science and Technology, Education, Health, Telecommunication and Energy."

As far as the Gulf Cooperation Council (UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar) is concerned, while New Delhi enjoys reasonably cordial ties with the individual states (which supply almost 70 per cent of its oil and energy needs), attempts to forge a free trade agreement with the Council have been held up due to issues over whether oil should be part of the agreement.

India's current prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has often described the country's growing relationship with the US, as well as the recent endorsement of US/UN sanctions against its long-term ally, Iran, as acts of "enlightened self-interest". Many in his government use the same phrase to describe the relationship with Israel.

India - and Israel - have taken pains to spell out that this relationship is not at the expense of India's relations with the Arab states. Indian diplomats and politicians keep pointing to the fact that India has publicly condemned Operation Cast Lead, Israel's name for the blistering three-week long attack on the Gaza Strip in late 2008-early 2009.

India also joined in the international condemnation of the May 31, 2010 pre-dawn Israeli attack on the Turkish Ship Mavi Marmara, which led the "Gaza Freedom flotilla" carrying humanitarian aid for the people of the blockaded Gaza Strip. Nine people were killed in the attack by Israeli commandos.

"India deplores the tragic loss of life and the reports of killings and injuries to the people on the boats carrying supplies for Gaza. There can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn. We extend our sympathies to the families of the dead and wounded. It is our firm conviction that lasting peace and security in the region can be achieved only through peaceful dialogue and not through use of force," said a statement from the ministry of external affairs.

But while successive governments in New Delhi have been quietly trying to maintain and develop India's relationship with Israel without overly antagonising the Arab world, there are times when the stress shows. Take, for instance, the article written by recently-removed minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, in January 2009. Tharoor was India's candidate for the UN secretary general's post in 2006. He quit after losing to Ban Ki-moon, and joined Indian politics. The syndicated column, distributed worldwide, was run by Israel's Haaretz newspaper with the title: "India's Israel Envy". The article, which coincided with Israel's operation Cast Lead, caused an uproar, both domestically and internationally.

During his election campaign in March 2009, the opposition used the article to imply that Tharoor endorsed the Israeli military operation in Gaza. Earlier, several Arab diplomats in New Delhi also voiced their concern, asking whether Tharoor's article reflected the ruling Congress Party's position on Israel.

Tharoor was subsequently forced to write another article defending himself, and clarifying that he had not endorsed Israel's military campaign in Gaza, and pointing to what he regarded as his long and consistent pro-Palestinian stand during his stint at the United Nations.

India-US relations

Another critical factor in the changing Indo-Israeli relationship is the rapidly developing ties between India and US. Given the strong US-Israel relationship, New Delhi does not want to rock the boat by openly antagonising Israel. Besides, the Indian diaspora in the US, which is growing increasingly active politically, admits to looking at the American Jewish Council (AJC) and America Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) as role models. As one analyst put it, India and Israel move closer together each time the India-Pakistan conflict escalates.

Officially, New Delhi insists that this relationship does not signify a change in its position on Palestine, or its ties with the Arab world. Privately, however, Indian diplomats point to the fact that despite numerous Indian overtures, the Arab world consistently backed Pakistan's position on Kashmir, while Israel endorsed the Indian stand.

In 2003, after Ariel Sharon's visit to India, then Indian foreign minister Yashwant Sinha had tried to allay Arab fears by telling the Pakistani newspaper The News: "The fact that Sharon visited New Delhi in no way makes us complicit to what the Israeli are doing or saying. We have explained our position with regard to Palestinian cause in very clear terms as indeed we have done repeatedly to Israel."

Responding to a question on India's relations with the Arab world, particularly in the context of Israel's decision to expel PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Sinha said: "I don't think Palestinians are in any doubt about Indian policy. The problem arises only with those people inside India and outside India who are more Palestinian than the Palestinian themselves."

Recently, a senior Indian foreign ministry official (who requested anonymity) remarked when quizzed on the status of India-Arab relations: "We are very keen to maintain friendly relations with both the Arab world and Israel. But it would help us a lot if the Muslim world took a more nuanced stand on Pakistan and Kashmir."

Ramananda Sengupta is the chief editor of the Indian news website www.sify.com.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

This article was first published by the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

India’s Gulf links multiply
July 21, 2010 1:20pm
by beyondbrics
| Share

By Girija Shivakumar in New Delhi

While Indian companies struggle to expand in neighbouring countries in south Asia, they are making considerable headway in the Gulf and Africa. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, many do so without government support. And Oman is one to watch.

New Delhi’s engagement with the Gulf country appears to be something of an exception. It has launched a “guns and butter” initiative we are likely to see more of in the years to come as India develops its own arms industry alongside its economic muscle.

In recent months, India has extended an invitation to the Omani army to train in India. It has also sent Indian-made assault rifles, for trials with an eye to future arms sales.

Alongside a hand of military friendship, New Delhi has despatched top officials to Muscat, Oman’s capital, headed by Manmohan Singh, the prime minister. Corporate India, meanwhile, has sent its out-sourcers and engineers with delegations from Larsen and Toubro, Punj Lloyd, Dynamic Logistics, Essar Group and Tata Consultancy Services.

Oman’s relationship with India traditionally hinged on the supply of oil to energy-starved India. New Delhi is desperate to change that, and has had success in fields like education, fertiliser and food. Bilateral non-oil trade which was less than $200m eight years ago, today stands at nearer $2.5bn.

Now the two countries are setting up joint investment funds across the Arabian Sea. Earlier this month, the State Bank of India and an Omani sovereign wealth fund created a joint fund with $100m seed capital. In time, this is expected to grow to $1.5bn and develop a focus on infrastructure investments.

This venture may encourage other such joint funds with big Gulf investors. Whether they will be preceded by the sale of rifles, viewed as inferior to Russian equivalents, is less assured.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 22 Jul 2010 07:51

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Carl_T » 22 Jul 2010 11:25

Syria bans full Islamic Veil at universities.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... news_world

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 22 Jul 2010 18:33

Folks, IOL says Hezbollah is very close to confrontation with Israel. Tunnels have been constructed in the Syrian border to get Hezbollah troops in and out of Syria. The tunnels are in Baalbek in the bekaa valley, which can facilitate a swift withdraawal of Hezbollah leaders to Syria if necessary. It allows the troops to move in secret. The construction was by Hezbollah's construction arm aided by Pasdarans (Guardians of the revolution of Iran). The tunnels help move troops in and around lebanon too, it helps members to evade detection by drones and hide in case of shelling.

Pasdarans are expanding their relations with Hezbollah. The number of Pasdarans soldiers have increased from 800 to 1500. The Pasdarans have established a HQ at Adra, a city 45km away from the Syrian border. And Pasdarans have helped Hezbollah build sites to launch the Iranian missile Fajr 3 north of the Litani river. All this of course in accordance to UN resolution 1701 which disallows Hezbollah from deploying south of the Litani. Hezbollah has positioned plain clothes fighters in villages in southern lebanon.

Relations with Beirut and Tel Aviv have become worse as Noble Group found 16 TCF of natural gas. Beirut claims some of it and Hezbollah is determined to defend the territorial integrity of Lebanon. The gas was found in an area that was never officially or properly demarcated, as the 2 nations are technically still at war.

My comments: I think Iran feels that US and Israel are upping the anti in the Persian Gulf, so they are just preparing themselves for a response. Iran will not do anything and I doubt Israel will either.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Kanson » 22 Jul 2010 19:41

^ Shyam sir,
any details abt US mediating btw Israel and Syria. ?..What Syria gains by having open confrotation with Israel by supporting Hezbollah? I heard that Syria was slowly moving from Iran axis...any comments..

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 23 Jul 2010 05:24

Nothing of yet on the peace plan. The plan has been presented to Obama but looks like no update at the moment.

Hezbollah is just a weapon against Israel for Syria. Bashar Al Assad sees Hezbollah as another arm of the Syrian Army.

There is a US attempt to get Syria to get away from the Iranian axis. Riyadh bought them back. There were a lot of trips to Syria by George Mitchell and by John Kerry. They will have a permanent envoy to Syria soon also.

Something credible needs to be on the table for Syria to move away. There is also a trust factor. Watch his interview with Charlie Rose on the previous page that I posted.

Indian MoD has asked for this system too.
Israel's southern border wide open and undefended
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report July 20, 2010, 9:50 PM (GMT+02:00)

Iron Dome will not be deployed against Gaza missiles

Turkey's foreign minister Ahmed Dagutoglu met secretly in Damascus with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal Monday, July 19, as well as getting together with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri to synchronize their operations against Israel, focusing for now on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

In Israel, meanwhile, the home-made Iron Dome defense system against short- and medium-range missiles was given a showy press after just-completed successful tests - notwithstanding the admission that it would take months before the new system was able to protect the Israeli communities and towns abutting Gaza.

The Iron Dome proved it could simultaneously intercept volleys of rockets coming in from different directions while computing their trajectories to determine which would hit populated areas.
However,Deputy Defense Minister Mattan Vilnai, who is responsible for homeland security, was enlisted Tuesday for a radio interview to cool the excitement of the 300,000 civilians targeted for Palestinian missile attacks from Gaza for eight years and the communities of northern Israeli who lived in the shadow of Hizballah's rockets up until the 2006 Lebanon war.

The Rafael-produced Iron Dome, while the most advanced of its kind in the world, promises no more than 80 percent effectiveness, Vilnai explained. Furthermore, it would not be permanently deployed at the northern or southern borders - but only as required. Salvation was therefore not yet in sight.
As a cure-all for Israeli border security, Iron Dome has at least four shortcomings, defined here by debkafile's military sources:

1. Its availability. Iron Dome batteries will not be available in the coming months, should a military showdown flare with Iran, Hizballah or Hamas. Most optimistically, it will take another 10 months for Rafael to manufacture the 16-18 batteries required by the two flashpoint border sectors, deploy them and train crews to operate them. Therefore, even if the $1.25 billion can be found for this number, Israel will not have the Iron Dome ready for the next foreseeable rocket or missile attack.
2. No combat experience. Although a smash hit in tests, the system has never been tried in combat conditions. No army in the world will deploy or place orders for Iron Dome before its first test of fire against the diverse arsenals of Hizballah and Hamas.
For example, it has never shown its paces against simultaneous Hamas and Hizballah missile attacks from several directions from rapidly-moving launching locations with the attackers using electronic devices for jamming and deception. Four years ago, in the Lebanon War, Hizballah had begun to master electronic devices for tracking, eavesdropping and locking in on IDF targets. There is every reason to suppose that the Lebanese Shiite terrorists have enhanced this capability since then.
3. Distinguishing targets. Publicity handouts present Iron Dome as capable of distinguishing between incoming missiles heading for target civilian areas and those that will explode in unpopulated areas.
This description oversimplifies the challenges: Today's battlefield is not a clearly-marked arena between enemy missile launchers and anti-missile systems for intercepting them. For instance, if the Iron Dome were to track one volley of missiles aimed at its own base and another targeting the city of Ashkelon, how would it choose which volley to intercept?
This dilemma could be sorted out with a large enough number of batteries rising to an unrealistic figure.
4. Expensive. Iron Dome is costly - half a million dollars per battery including its launching mechanism, compared with a Hamas Qassam missile which costs $150 to manufacture.
On the working assumption that Hamas is able to fire an average 500 rockets a day and Hamas 300 missiles, Israel would need to lay out a staggering $40 million per day to maintain this defensive system in working order, a totally disproportionate cost in military terms.
This spiraling dilemma is the consequence of the Netanyahu-Barak administration's innate lack of resolve.
It does not take a political genius to deduce that the Iron Dome hype was drummed up after the weekly cabinet meeting of Sunday, July 18, laid bare the prime minister and defense minister's ineptness in forging a policy to deal with the massive, uncontrolled influx of up to 1,000 job-seekers per month swarming across the unfenced Egyptian-Israel border - mostly from Eritrea and Sudan.
Around 500 a year in 2008, their numbers have expanded to 8,000 in the first seven months of 2010, with some 50,000 camping in Tel Aviv, 8,000 in Eilat (one-tenth of the population) and thousands in Ashdod and Arad. Police say the situation is out of control.
Five months ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered frontier fence to be built but nothing was done. Tuesday, July 20, Home Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch touring the long, desert border only to announce that a barrier would take three years to build and it was no substitute for a coherent policy of restrictions
The deputy defense minister's cold reality shower have shocked Israelis into grasping that their government is falling down on the two crucial tasks of controlling the river of illegal migrants and protection against enemy rockets.

No consoling peace hoopla is in sight. When Netanyahu met ailing Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Sunday, they went round in circles for the umpteenth time on ways to get direct talks with the Palestinians off the ground and the situation in the Gaza Strip, which Cairo is only too happy to shunt off to Israel. They did not get around to discussing the critical situation along the much-too-open Egyptian-Israeli border.
debkafile's military sources report that some weeks ago, the American and French military engineers building the steel wall along the Philadelphi route for sealing the Gaza Strip arms smuggling tunnels off from their Sinai routes dropped tools and gave up on the project.

The project was abandoned after Hamas used heavy-duty machinery to cut through the steel girders forming the wall.
This did not stop al Qaeda's No. 2 Ayman Zawahiri in a new video released on July 19 from slamming Arab rulers, notably Egypt, for building the steel wall.
Having given up on tactics for controlling the constant buildup of Hamas and Hizballah missile arsenals, Israel has also left itself without a current, effective defense for its southern population or Galilee and laid itself open to an unhampered influx of African migrants, among whom al Qaeda elements can easily mingle.

US-Iranian combat looms in Iraq as US plans UN role for US troop remnant

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Neshant » 23 Jul 2010 06:20

debka = unreliable information

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Gerard » 23 Jul 2010 06:27

more like disinformation

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Sanjay M » 23 Jul 2010 08:32

Haha, Debka is like Nightwatch or Orbat

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 24 Jul 2010 02:35

Operation Roll Back Kuwaiti Freedom
This wealthy Gulf monarchy used to be a bright spot for freedom of speech in the Middle East. No longer.


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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 24 Jul 2010 02:50

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Aditya_V » 26 Jul 2010 11:03

WTF, Why is the Secular Brigade Getting us involved in this

Indian ship to join new campaign against Gaza blockade


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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Philip » 26 Jul 2010 12:41

Secret Israeli-German military cooperation.


News Analysis: Mystery surrounds German-Israeli submarine deal
Sunday, July 25, 2010 JERUSALEM, Jul. 25, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Tongues are wagging in Germany and Israel after the publication of reports and subsequent denials surrounding the sale of a German submarine to the Jewish state.

There is speculation in the media that during a phone conversation a week ago Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threw his weight behind an Israeli request to have the price reduced on the sale of a Dolphin class sub.

While Berlin confirms Netanyahu spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the contents of the parley are not being made public.

The deal is the latest in a series that dates back to the 1990s. The previous contracts were to some extent underwritten by the German government.

Now Berlin says it is not involved in formal negotiations over the purchase of a new submarine and with that, effectively denies reports that the countries are haggling over the price tag.

Likewise, the Israeli Defense Ministry issued a denial on Friday regarding the purchase of what would be its sixth sub.

Yet the highly regarded Defense News publication maintains that the allies have been discussing the purchase for the last year.


The defense links between the two countries are strong. Whilst they began in the wake of the Holocaust and a sense of responsibility carried by the new Germany, they have developed a dynamic of their own.

In the mid 1950s Germany exported two coastal patrol vessels to Israel. In all the time since then little has been made public about the relationship but those in the know say it is very positive.

Some of the early cooperation developed out of Israel's wars with its Arab neighbors. As Israel captured Russian-made armaments it passed them on to countries such as Germany for evaluation. The Germans and others were then able to copy the manufacture of those weapons or to use the information to create defense systems.

Often the signs of a healthy defense relationship have only come to the fore in times of crisis. In 2002 when the second Palestinian intifada or uprising was raging, the Germans reportedly stopped the delivery of military components to Israel, including parts for tanks. The Germans denied the cessation was the result of Berlin's views on Israeli actions in the territories, preferring to blame internal administrative issues.

The sales have not all been in one direction. Germany is known to have purchased the Spike anti-tank missile from the Israeli governmental firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

"Characterized by an extremely high technical commonality of the various missiles and launch mechanisms, the Spike system offers very low life-cycle costs. Spike missiles have become an indispensable weapon for modern armed forces, ranging from infantry and army aviation to naval defense forces," reads the product manual.

The degree to which the countries cooperate in joint programs is unclear, but in 2008 it was reported that together they were developing a nuclear warning system -- a project known as Operation Bluebird.

To this day though the delivery of three Dolphin class submarines from 1998 to 2000 is the largest deal between the countries that has been made public. A further two subs will be delivered to Israel by 2012, in addition to the sixth, which is at the center of the current controversy.


"In August 2006, the German government committed to deliver and finance one-third of the costs, approximately 1.3 billion U.S. dollars," for the two additional Dolphins, according to testimony given to the United States Congress by Paul Belkin, an expert in European and foreign affairs, defense and trade.

"Those opposed to the most recent agreement, primarily members of the Green and Left political parties, cite widespread concern that Israel plans to reconfigure the submarines to enable them to launch nuclear missiles," Belkin added.

It is widely believed by analysts that Israel's submarines do house nuclear weapons, and in part that explains much of the secrecy around the deals.

Just weeks ago it was reported that Israel's "German-built" submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are about to be deployed to the Gulf, just off the coast of Iran.

"Submarines are very important to Israel. There are rumors overseas that they are equipped for nuclear second strikes but I don't think anyone intelligent can tell you any more than that," said Dan Schueftan, the director of the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University in northern Israel.

Yiftah Shapir, the director of the Military Balance Project at The Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv University holds a similar point of view.

"Israel has never spoken about the role of its submarines, whether they are for patrol or attack missions, but internationally they are thought as being part of Israel's deterrence," he said.

"From my perspective it doesn't matter what their role is. As soon as it's believed to be one or the other then that's what counts," he continued.

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 26 Jul 2010 18:07

Folks - Debka is israeli intel tool of disinfo. They can be surprisingly accurate at times and surprisingly wrong. You have to ignore the doom and gloom that it portrays but read between the lines. Its just like an intel agency, you get trash that comes through but you can get very good info at the same time.

Mossad chief reportedly visited Saudi Arabia for talks on Iran

Mossad chief Meir Dagan visited Saudi Arabia recently, if unofficial reports published over the weekend on the WorldNetDaily website are accurate. The Internet news site attributed the story to Arab sources.

According to the reports, the talks conducted in Saudi Arabia with the head of Israel's espionage agency dealt with Iran and its nuclear program. The account follows a series of recent reports on increasing secret cooperation between Israel and the Saudis, including defense coordination on matters related to possible military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.

Two months ago, the Times of London reported that during the course of a Saudi military exercise, air defense system operations were halted for a few hours to rehearse a scenario whereby Israeli fighter planes would cross Saudi Arabian air space en route to an attack on Iran.

Arab and Iranian media outlets have also reported Israeli air force planes and helicopters landing in Saudi Arabia for the purposes of positioning equipment there.

Three weeks ago, it was reported that the United Arab Emirates' ambassador in Washington said at a conference that the consequences of nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians would be more serious than an Israeli assault, because a nuclear Iran could not be tolerated. His remarks reflect a common concern felt in Israel and the Persian Gulf states over nuclear weapons in Iranian hands.

Further evidence that beyond all the animosity between Israel and the ME nations, there is a love fest between Israel and Arab nations.

For Israel's UN envoy, diplomacy isn't always in plain view
How did you manage to create and develop relations with Arab and Muslim ambassadors, despite the diplomatic situation?

"That is the secret of quiet diplomacy, and activity behind the scenes. One of my friends is Egyptian Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz, even though my first husband was killed on the Egyptian front during the Yom Kippur War. I have friendly relations with Oman Ambassador Fuad al-Hinai, whose wife is Oman's ambassador to the United States. I had good relations with Saudi Ambassador Khalid Alnafisee. Qatar's ambassador recently expressed regret at my departure. I am particularly proud of the genuine friendship and closeness that came about with the U.S. ambassador, Rice; that's a wonderful souvenir to bring back to Israel."

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby shyamd » 27 Jul 2010 18:21

IDF: We don't have to promise not to hurt civilians

IDF report confirming Goldstone’s key findings is suppressed inside Israel
A report quietly submitted by IDF Military Advocate General Avichai Mandelblit to the United Nations two weeks ago regarding Israel’s conduct during Operation Cast Lead confirms the key findings of the Goldstone Report. The report (full version here), which documents 150 ongoing investigations, has outraged the Israeli Army. “It looks as though they were frightened by Goldstone,” remarked an IDF officer. Another military official expressed anger that after a previous IDF report asserting the legality of shelling civilian areas with white phosphorous, a chemical weapon, the Mandelblit report has issued recommendations limiting the munition’s use. “It looks like tying your own hands behind your back. Why should a weapon with which there is no problem be limited?” the official asked.

Mandelblit’s confirmation of the IDF’s use of white phosphorous in Gaza against a UN compound is one of his report’s most remarkable admissions. He has directly contradicted a lie told over and over again to the Israeli public in the immediate aftermath of Cast Lead, and repeated in an April 2009 IDF report, that “no phosphorous munitions were used on built-up areas.”

Besides the deployment of white phosphorous munitions, the Mandelblit Report acknowledges that the IDF Military Advocate General has launched a criminal investigation into the killing of 26 members of the Al-Samouni family (p. 6); that the army may have used human shields (pp. 9-11); knowingly shelled a UNRWA school filled with children in order to neutralize a single enemy mortar launcher, causing large-scale civilian deaths in the process; knowingly attacked a mosque with “powerful” missiles in order to kill two unknown terrorist “operatives” (p. 17); bombed a police graduation ceremony (p. 19), killing four civilians in the process (according to Goldstone the IDF killed 9 civilians and 99 cops); killed a civilian raising a white flag (p. 22); fired on a horse-drawn carriage carrying wounded civilians, killing a number of people in the process (p. 24); fired flechette-filled tank shells in the immediate vicinity of a “condolence tent,” killing civilians in the process (p. 25); bulldozed the Sawafeary Chicken Coops (pp. 27-28) in order to obtain “a clear line of sight” for soldiers in the area; destroyed a cement packaging plant in a vain search for tunnels (p. 29); destroyed a series of factories, claiming it “did not know the structures were used to produce food products” (p. 30); and implicitly acknowledged that it destroyed private property (p. 33).

Although Mandelblit lays the blame for many killings at the feet of IDF commanders, he invokes the army’s firing policy to justify the killings. So long as soldiers claimed in their testimonies that they may have seen enemy operatives in the area (Mandelblit acknowledges extreme difficulty gathering testimony from Palestinian victims), he was able to claim that the soldiers followed the “Law of Armed Conflict.”............

Police release rabbi arrested for inciting to kill non-Jews
Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, head of the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva, released from police custody hours after being arrested for encouraging the killing of non-Jews.

The preface of the book, which was published in November, states that it is forbidden to kill non-Jews - but the book then apparently describes the context in which it is permitted to do so.

According to Shapira, it is permissible to kill a non-Jew who threatens Israel even if the person is classified as a Righteous Gentile. His book says that any gentile who supports war against Israel can also be killed.

Killing the children of a leader in order to pressure him, the rabbi continues, is also permissible. In general, according to the book, it is okay to kill children if they "stand in the way - children are often doing this." "They stand in the way of rescue in their presence and they are doing this without wanting to," he writes. "Nonetheless, killing them is allowed because their presence supports murder. There is justification in harming infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us. Under such circumstances the blow can be directed at them and not only by targeting adults."

The daily Maariv's report on the book was immediately followed by calls for Shapira's arrest and a petition was filed with the High Court of Justice for a ban on the book's distribution. The petition was rejected as premature.

The rabbi's arrest has stirred angry responses on both the left and right. "The police did well to initiate an investigation," attorney Lila Margalit of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said. "Incitement for racist violence seriously undermines human rights and it should not be ignored. However, it is not entirely clear whether the arrest was justified in this case."

She added that the tendency in Israel is to "overuse" arrests, and in cases where there is no justification for it.

Arab guilty of rape after consensual sex with Jew

A man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after telling a woman that he was also Jewish

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

When she later found out that he was not Jewish but an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

Although Kashur was initially charged with rape and indecent assault, this was changed to a charge of rape by deception as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

Handing down the verdict, Tzvi Segal, one of three judges on the case, acknowledged that sex had been consensual but said that although not "a classical rape by force," the woman would not have consented if she had not believed Kashur was Jewish.

The sex therefore was obtained under false pretences, the judges said. "If she hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated," they added.

The court ruled that Kashur should receive a jail term and rejected the option of a six-month community service order. He was said to be seeking to appeal.

Segal said: "The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls. When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims – actual and potential – to protect their wellbeing. Otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price."

Gideon Levy, a liberal Israeli commentator, was quoted as saying: "I would like to raise only one question with the judge. What if this guy had been a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and had sex with a Muslim woman?

"Would he have been convicted of rape? The answer is: of course not."

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby Mahendra » 28 Jul 2010 03:52

Arab guilty of rape after consensual sex with Jew

Actually the most valid point has been left out while using the bold font

Gideon Levy, a liberal Israeli commentator,

this so called liberal raises a question and proceeds to answer it himself, I don't know what the bolded part was supposed to convey

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Re: West Asia News and Discussions

Postby abhishek_sharma » 28 Jul 2010 09:24

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