I think the more precise phrase about the tenth of February was the Israeli attack on Syrian military rule. In fact, there was no “conflict” between the Zionist army and the Iranian military. An unmanned drone belonging to the Syrian army was fired in the occupied territories by the Zionist regime and, on the other hand, some Israeli airmen and fighter jets, in the Syrian territory, while intimidating and bombing some Syrian bases, On escaping, the Syrian air defense system was prosecuted, and a Phantom series of sixteen Israeli army’s was abandoned by the Syrian air defense unit.
Indeed, this was a very important event because an Israeli phantom fighter was, firstly, not a record for the past thirty-five years, secondly, earlier, when the Israeli army was attempting to attack and bombard some areas of Syria. The Syrian army had warned that, if repeated, the attack would be effective.
The Zionist Army was willing to cover Iran’s name with the name of Iran in its own way, and, at the same time, to try to claim the presence of a direct military presence (rather than advocacy) of Iran along the borders of Syria With the occupied territories.
So, basically, the military conflict between Israel and Iran did not occur in Syria.
Is it possible to extend the scope of the conflict between Iran and Israel beyond the borders of Syria?
Israel is a propaganda regime. Remember that from the time of the victory of the revolution and through the imposed war, so far, Israel has repeatedly threatened to bring military action.
The peaks of these threats are when you remember the occupation of southern Lebanon in the early eighties and again during the deadlock of the nuclear talks at the end of the tenth government, 2010 and 2011.
Especially in 2011-2011, many times the Zionist government, with the excuse of making our nuclear advances on the one hand, and the lack of progress in negotiations with the world powers, on the other hand, even posed a plan of bombardment and their alleged military action, but whoever did not recall In the 33-day war in July 2006, Israel did not even reach the Lebanese Hezbollah semi-guerrilla and semi-guerrilla forces? Also, who is forgotten? The Memory of the defeat and the departure of Israel from southern Lebanon are after about two decades of occupation, against the resistance of the Islamic Republic of Lebanon.
At the same time, the Zionist regime is also a regime of war and aggression. The principle of forging this regime was based on the hostility of the Palestinian territories, even before the announcement of the end of the British mandate to Palestine. This is a mere military aggression regime. However, the capacities of this regime are subject to specific cultural and psychological and strategic characteristics and constraints. The image of these restrictions can be seen in examining the history of the battles of this regime. The two most important elements have been continuously contributing to the wars of this regime: first, comprehensive support for intelligence and operational support of the regime’s supporter powers, and, secondly, the domination of the weaknesses and disparities between the opposing armies. Of course, the psychological and operational structure of the Zionist army is based largely on the militant war. Therefore, one of the basic weak points of the Israeli army is the prolongation and expansion of the battlefield. The best examples of these features can be found in the comparison of the 1967 Six-Day War with the 2006 War of 33 Days.
According to what was said, firstly, there is still no conflict between the Iranian military and the Tel Aviv regime. Second, the Zionist regime needs to overcome the crisis and make Iran dangerously dangerous, and third, the basis of these two goals has put propaganda and on psychological operations. However, what makes this regime think more about engagement with Islamic Republic of Iran is the ability to retaliate and deterrent in the second blow that comes from Iran.
Considering Netanyahu being an extremist right-wing Israeli party, is there a consensus in Israel over the conflict with Iran? Is the war with Iran in the near future on the agenda of this regime or seeking to create tensions smaller and Multiple with Iran in the region?
Understand that the strategic decisions of the Zionist regime are subject to the prevailing course of action, and ultimately the “miniature government” or, in other words, the Israeli Security Council.
In recent times, we have witnessed two security trends by the Zionist regime. In the first trend, the Israeli government immediately and officially reported through Moscow after the collapse of one of its aggressive planes in Syria, which, according to Tel Aviv, ended, and the conflict, whatever, ended. Along with that, messages sent by some European governments to Iranian diplomats (including through Paris), which signaled a threat to retaliation against Iran’s military presence on the occupied Palestinian borders.
The US Secretary of State also described Iran as part of the US National Security Strategy in mid January as a source of insecurity in the region and a strategic threat, and to expel Iran from the West and bring Iran back to its borders for US goals. Counted (Rex Tillerson, Hoover Think-Tank, Stanford University, January 17, 2018)
The issue of Iran, though it is considered as one of the basic priorities of the national security of the Zionist regime, can never be said that the war with Iran is also considered a priority of this regime.
At two stages, the most likely occurrence of conflict between the Zionist regime and Iran has been present. One at the time, George Bush II and in the middle east of the Second Gulf War, and the other in a deadlock in the nuclear talks in Ahmadinejad’s second government.
Perhaps, in the current situation, the Zionist regime is most likely to have a “collective war” against Iran. Perhaps the strategic bottlenecks outside the occupied territories, and the increase of the influence of Iran in the region, as well as the sensitive conditions of the interior of Iran, are the three most important factors in this tendency.
The Zionist regime knows that the beginning of any conflict with Iran may be triggered by Israel, but it will determine the other, the time and the fate of the battle.
Any kind of conflict, whether small or large, with Iran, will threaten the biggest conflict for the Zionist regime.
The central goal of Israel is to ensure its domination of the regional environment and the return of Iran to its national borders. This goal, as long as it is provided in non-war ways, does not allow Israel to engage in conflict. The presence of Iran on the Syrian borders with the Zionist regime has exasperated Israel’s extreme sensitivity. Israel allows anything to keep Iran away from its borders. But, the risk of conflict at any price is not accepted.
Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that they will not tolerate the presence of Iran in the region. Will be the short-term and long-term plans of Israel to confront Iran in Syria?
Increasing international pressures, tightening the environment, and tightening the conditions for Iran to continue to exist in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, increasing Iran’s environmental threats, such as engaging Iran with domestic threats, placing Iran in sanctions bottlenecks and increasing regional threats through its skirts The Iranian security and geopolitical contradictions with its Arab and non-Arab neighbors are among the goals and plans of the Zionist regime to control Iran’s problem.
The military conflict is considered to be the most costly and dangerous and, most certainly, the far-fetched possibility of controlling the “problem” of Iran by the Zionist regime.
Engaging Iran with the issue of terrorism in the periphery and moving Iran from the front line is an Israeli tactical approach. In the strategy, the system is a long-term goal of Israel.
The return of the sanctions and the growing conflict between Iran and the United States and the involvement of Iran in the political conflicts of security in the region and beyond the region are the current plans of Israel.
The escalation of the socio-economic political crisis in the interior of Iran is the current agenda of Israel over Iran.
At this stage, Israel bursts more than bites. Netanyahu in Munich threatened to take action. The Action against is in the practice that Iran did not intervene. The F-16 airliner was defeated by Syria’s air defenses. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize the strategic imbalance in favor of Israel. Israeli airlift and Israel’s fear of threats from its peripheral environment are a rejection of the strategic imbalance in favor of Israel.
If the “imbalance of security” is assumed to be in the strategic environment of Israel, this imbalance will certainly not be in the interest of the Zionist regime.
Battling for the Future: Arab Protests 2.0
Momentous developments across Arab North and East Africa suggest the long-drawn-out process of political transition in the region as well as the greater Middle East is still in its infancy.
So does popular discontent in Syria despite eight years of devastating civil war and Egypt notwithstanding a 2013 military coup that rolled back the advances of protests in 2011 that toppled Hosni Mubarak and brought one of the country’s most repressive regimes to power.
What developments across northern Africa and the Middle East demonstrate is that the drivers of the 2011 popular revolts that swept the region and forced the leaders of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen to resign not only still exist but constitute black swans that can upset the apple cart at any moment.
The developments also suggest that the regional struggle between forces of change and ancien regimes and militaries backed by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia is far from decided.
If anything, protesters in Algeria and Sudan have learnt at least one lesson from the failed 2011 results: don’t trust militaries even if they seemingly align themselves with demonstrators and don’t surrender the street until protesters’ demands have been fully met.
Distrust of the military has prompted an increasing number of Sudanese protesters to question whether chanting “the people and the army are one” is still appropriate. Slogans such as “freedom, freedom” and “revolution, revolution” alongside calls on the military to protect the protesters have become more frequent.
The protests in Algeria and Sudan have entered a critical phase in which protesters and militaries worried that they could be held accountable for decades of economic mismanagement, corruption and repression are tapping in the dark.
With protesters emboldened by their initial successes in forcing leaders to resign, both the demonstrators and the militaries, including officers with close ties to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are internally divided about how to proceed.
Moreover, neither side has any real experience in managing the crossroads at which they find themselves while it is dawning on the militaries that their tired playbooks are not producing results.
In a telling sign, Sudan’s interim leader Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan praised his country’s “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia and the UAE as he met this week with a Saudi-Emirati delegation at the military compound in Khartoum, a focal point of the protests.
Saudi Arabia has expressed support for the protests in what many suspect is part of an effort to ensure that Sudan does not become a symbol of the power of popular sovereignty and its ability to defeat autocracy.
The ultimate outcome of the dramatic developments in Algeria and Sudan and how the parties manoeuvre is likely to have far-reaching consequences in a region pockmarked by powder kegs ready to explode.
Mounting anger as fuel shortages caused by Western sanctions against Syria and Iran bring life to a halt in major Syrian cities have sparked rare and widespread public criticism of president Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The anger is fuelled by reports that government officials cut in line at petrol stations to fill up their tanks and buy rationed cooking gas and take more than is allowed.
Syria is Here, an anonymous Facebook page that reports on economics in government-controlled areas took officials to task after state-run television showed oil minister Suleiman al-Abbas touring petrol stations that showed no signs of shortage.
“Is it so difficult to be transparent and forward? Would that undermine anyone’s prestige? We are a country facing sanctions and boycotted. The public knows and is aware,” the Facebook page charged.
The manager of Hashtag Syria, another Facebook page, was arrested when the site demanded that the oil ministry respond to reports of anticipated price hikes with comments rather than threats. The site charged that the ministry was punishing the manager “instead of dealing with the real problem.”
Said Syrian journalist Danny Makki: “It (Syria) is a pressure cooker.”
Similarly, authorities in Egypt, despite blocking its website, have been unable to stop an online petition against proposed constitutional amendments that could extend the rule of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi until 2034 from attracting more than 320,000 signatures as of this writing.
The petition, entitled Batel or Void, is, according to Netblocks, a group that maps web freedom, one of an estimated 34,000 websites blocked by Egyptian internet service providers in a bid to stymie opposition to the amendments.
Mr. El-Sisi is a reminder of how far Arab militaries and their Gulf backers are potentially willing to go in defense of their vested interests and willingness to oppose popular sovereignty.
Libyan renegade Field Marshall Khalifa Belqasim Haftar is another, Mr. Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) is attacking the capital Tripoli, the seat of the United Nations recognized Libyan government that he and his Emirati, Saudi, and Egyptian backers accuse of being dominated by Islamist terrorists.
The three Arab states’ military and financial support of Mr. Haftar is but the tip of the iceberg. Mr. Haftar has modelled his control of much of Libya on Mr. El-Sisi’s example of a military that not only dominates politics but also the economy.
As a result, the LNA is engaged in businesses ranging from waste management, metal scrap and waste export, and agricultural mega projects to the registration of migrant labour workers and control of ports, airports and other infrastructure. The LNA is also eyeing a role in the reconstruction of Benghazi and other war-devastated or underdeveloped regions.
What for now makes 2019 different from 2011 is that both sides of the divide realize that success depends on commitment to be in it for the long haul. Protesters, moreover, understand that trust in military assertions of support for the people can be self-defeating. They further grasp that they are up against a regional counterrevolution that has no scruples.
All of that gives today’s protesters a leg up on their 2011 counterparts. The jury is out on whether that will prove sufficient to succeed where protesters eight years ago failed.
As Marsha Lazareva languishes in jail, foreign businesses will “think twice” before investing in Kuwait
IF THERE IS one thing to glean from the case of Marsha Lazareva, it’s that foreign businesses must now think very carefully before investing in Kuwait.
For more than a year, Lazareva, who has a five-year-old son and is one of Russia’s most successful female investors in the Gulf, has been held in the Soulabaiya prison by Kuwaiti authorities. Those authorities claim she ‘stole’ half a billion dollars, a claim she strenuously denies.
Human rights groups and prominent officials, including the former FBI director, Louis Freeh, and Jim Nicholson, former Chairman of the Republican Party and former US Ambassador to the Vatican, have called for her release and expressed concerns about the apparent absence of due process in a country where Lazareva has worked for over 13 years. Both Freeh and Nicholson visited Kuwait in recent weeks with Neil Bush, son of the late President George H. W. Bush. Bush has said Lazareva’s incarceration ‘threatens to darken relations between the U.S. and Kuwait, two countries that have enjoyed a long and prosperous relationship.’
Russian officials have been equally concerned. Vladimir Platonov, the President of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, confirmed that a single witness gave testimony in Kuwaiti court, and only for the prosecution. ‘I myself worked in prosecution for more than eight years, and I cannot imagine any judge signing off on an indictment like this,’ he said. ‘One fact of particular note is that Maria was given 1,800 pages of untranslated documents in Arabic.’
Serious questions surrounding the safety and future viability of investing in Kuwait are now being raised. Through The Port Fund, a private investment company managed by KGL Investment, Lazareva has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to local infrastructure and economic development projects during her time in the country. Until 2017, when a Dubai bank froze $496 million without cause, she had worked largely unobstructed.
But as things stand, more foreign investment is unlikely to be forthcoming. Jim Nicholson has said that the ‘imprisonment and harassment’ of Lazareva ‘threatens’ U.S. support. adding that the ‘willingness of the U.S. to do business with Kuwait’ is based on ‘its record as a nation that respects human rights and the rule of law’. Mark Williams, the investment director of The Port Fund and a colleague of Lazareva’s, has called on international investors to ‘think twice before doing business in this country’.
These comments will surely concern the Kuwaiti government, who said last year that FDI was ‘very crucial’ to the success of its Kuwait Vision 2035 road map. In September 2018, the FTreported that the government planned to reverse its traditional position as an investor in order to diversify its economy, carrying out a series of reforms designed to facilitate foreign investment and assist investors.
But despite these changes, which have propelled Kuwait to 96th—higher than the Middle East average—in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report, investors may be unwilling to take the risk so long as Lazareva remains in jail. Lazareva’s lawyers have accused Kuwait of violating international law by breaching a long-standing bilateral investment treaty with Russia. Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC has brought the case to the attention of the British public and the EU, writing in The Times that ‘there is no evidential basis to justify any claim of dishonesty, corruption or any other criminal wrong’. He added: ’Anyone thinking of doing business in Kuwait should read on with mounting concern.’
What’s worth remembering is that Kuwait is an important, long-standing ally of the UK, and a country generally seen as stable and fair. It is equally a major non-NATO ally of the United States, where there are more than 5,000 international students of Kuwaiti origin in higher education. But these relationships, and the investment to which they have historically led, have been cast into doubt. And it now seems certain that relations will continue to sour so long as Marsha Lazareva languishes in Soulabaiya.
Economic reform in the Gulf: Who benefits, really?
For Gulf leaders, long-overdue economic reforms were never going to be easy.
Leaders like the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed, quickly discovered that copying China’s model of economic growth while tightening political control was easier said than done. They realised that rewriting social contracts funded by oil wealth was more difficult because Gulf Arabs had far more to lose than the average Chinese. The Gulf states’ social contracts had worked in ways China’s welfare programmes had not. The Gulf’s rentier state’s bargain—surrender of political and social rights for cradle-to-grave welfare—had produced a win-win situation for the longest time.
Moreover, Gulf leaders, struggling with mounting criticism of the Saudi-UAE-led war in Yemen and the fall-out of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, also lacked the political and economic clout that allowed China to largely silence or marginalise critics of its crackdown on Turkic Muslims in the troubled northwestern province of Xinjiang.
The absence of a welfare-based social contract in China allowed the government to power economic growth, lift millions out of poverty, and provide public goods without forcing ordinary citizens to suffer pain. As a result, China was able to push through with economic reforms without having to worry that reduced welfare benefits would spark a public backlash and potentially threaten the regime.
Three years into Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 blueprint for diversification of the economy, Saudi businesses and consumers complain that they are feeling the pinch of utility price hikes and a recently introduced five per cent value-added tax with little confidence that the government will stay the course to ensure promised long-term benefit.
The government’s commitment to cutting costs has been further called into question by annual handouts worth billions of dollars since the announcement of the reforms and rewriting of the social contract to cushion the impact of rising costs and quash criticism.
In contrast to China, investment in the Gulf, whether it is domestic or foreign, comes from financial, technology and other services sector, the arms industry or governments. It is focused on services, infrastructure or enhancing the state’s capacities rather than on manufacturing, industrial development and the nurturing of private sector.
With the exception of national oil companies, some state-run airlines and petrochemical companies, the bulk of Gulf investment is portfolios managed by sovereign wealth funds, trophies or investment designed to enhance a country’s prestige and soft power.
By contrast, Asian economies such as China and India have used investment fight poverty, foster a substantial middle class, and create an industrial base. To be sure, with small populations, Gulf states are more likely to ensure sustainability in services and oil and gas derivatives rather than in manufacturing and industry.
China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road initiative may be the Asian exception that would come closest to some of the Gulf’s soft-power investments. Yet, the BRI, designed to alleviate domestic overcapacity by state-owned firms that are not beholden to shareholders’ short-term demands and/or geo-political gain, contributes to China’s domestic growth.
Asian nations have been able to manage investors’ expectations in an environment of relative political stability. By contrast, Saudi Arabia damaged confidence in its ability to diversify its oil-based economy when after repeated delays it suspended plans to list five per cent of its national oil company, Saudi Arabian Oil Company, or Aramco, in what would have been the world’s largest initial public offering.
To be sure, China is no less autocratic than the Gulf states, while Hindu nationalism in India fits a global trend towards civilisationalism, populism and illiberal democracy. What differentiates much of Asia from the Gulf and accounts for its economic success are policies that ensure a relatively stable environment. These policies are focused on social and economic enhancement rather than primarily on regime survival. That may be Asia’s lesson for Gulf rulers.
Author’s note: first published in Firstpost
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