Tag Archives: Gulf

Yemen conflict: Gulf commanders ‘killed in missile strike’

A Saudi military commander and an Emirati officer are reported to be among a number of Gulf, Yemeni and Sudanese soldiers killed in Yemen.

They appear to have been killed by a missile fired by Houthi rebels at troops from the Saudi-led coalition seeking to restore Yemen’s government.

Rebel and government sources said the attack, in the province of Taiz, left dozens of coalition troops dead.

The incident comes ahead of UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland on Tuesday.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35091675

Gulf Arabs ‘stepping up’ arms supplies to Syrian rebels

Saudi Arabia is responding to the recent Russian air strikes on Syrian rebels by stepping up its supplies of lethal weaponry to three different rebel groups, a Saudi government official has told the BBC.

The well-placed official, who asked not to be named, said supplies of modern, high-powered weaponry including guided anti-tank weapons would be increased to the Arab- and western-backed rebel groups fighting the forces of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies.

He said those groups being supplied did not include either Islamic State (IS) or al-Nusra Front, both of which are proscribed terrorist organisations. Instead, he said the weapons would go to three rebel alliances – Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Southern Front.

The official added that Qatar and Turkey have been instrumental in maintaining Saudi support for Sunni rebels fighting both Assad’s forces and, at times, the extremists of IS. Russia brands as terrorists all rebels opposing its ally, President Assad, including those trained by the US.

The Saudi official did not rule out supplying surface-to-air missiles to the rebels, a move resisted by many in the West for fear that they would fall into the hands of IS and end up being used to shoot down warplanes of the US-led Coalition or even civilian airliners.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34479929

US warship heads to Yemeni waters; could block Iran weapons

Associated Press – By LOLITA C. BALDOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.

The deployment comes after a U.N. Security Council resolution approved last week imposed an arms embargo on leaders of the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote with Russia abstaining.

Navy officials said Monday that the Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea. A massive ship that carries F/A-18 fighter jets, the Roosevelt is seen more of a deterrent and show of force in the region.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea in response to reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis. Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.

Read more » Yahoo News
See more » http://news.yahoo.com/us-warship-heads-yemeni-waters-block-iranian-weapons-182036698–politics.html

CHINA’S STRATEGIC SHIFT TOWARD THE REGION OF THE FOUR SEAS: THE MIDDLE KINGDOM ARRIVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 

BY

Since the Arab Spring, China has been quietly asserting its influence and fortifying its foothold in the Middle East, while the United States pivots to the Asia Pacific after a decade of war.  It is aligning with states that have problematic relations with the West and are also geo-strategically placed on the littoral of the “Four Seas”–the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf. Paradoxically, the U.S. eastward pivot is matched by the resurgent Middle Kingdom’s westward pivot across its new Silk Road, and threatens to outflank the citadel of American geo-strategies in the region.

INTRODUCTION: CHINA’S STRATEGIC INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Energy Security

China’s interest in the Middle East is first and foremost energy-driven.[1] In 1993, when it became a net oil importer for the first time, Beijing embarked on a “go out” (zhouchuqu) policy to procure energy assets abroad to feed its growing economy.  The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rests on continued economic growth and delivering a rising standard of living for the Chinese population.  As a corollary, China is also concerned about security of energy supply lines and Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCS).  Because the United States is considered its main opponent in the international system, China is wary of U.S. naval dominance and the risk of choking China’s energy supply through the Malacca Straits should hostilities break out over Taiwan.  This is referred to as the “Malacca Dilemma,” where 80 percent of China’s oil imports traverse this chokepoint that is vulnerable to piracy and U.S. blockade.  Indeed, given increasing tension in the three flash points of the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Straits, this concern is even more pressing for the Chinese leadership.

Market Access

The Middle East is also a strategic logistics and trade hub for China’s exports and market access in Europe and Africa. China understands the importance of having strong economic foundations for military power and sees that continued market access for their exports to fuel China’s economy would build up their war chest to further underwrite military modernization.[2]  The EU is currently China’s largest trading partner ahead of the United States.[3] Moreover, China also has vast interests on the African continent–both via infrastructure projects and long-term energy supply contracts.  More than 1 million Chinese are in Africa (up from about 100,000 in the early 2000s), with trade at $120 billion in 2011.[4] In 2009, China overtook the United States to become Africa’s number one trading partner.[5]  As such, the Middle East is a strategic region that connects Europe, Africa, and Asia markets.

Thus, given the Middle East’s location as a trade hub linking the three continents, a vital region for market access, and site of vast energy reserves to fuel China’s continued economic growth, the CCP deems the Middle East as a high priority on its foreign policy agenda. As the United States “pivots” towards Asia, China will naturally seek strategic depth in areas that were once dominated by the United States and its Western allies.  This is even more so in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

Continue reading CHINA’S STRATEGIC SHIFT TOWARD THE REGION OF THE FOUR SEAS: THE MIDDLE KINGDOM ARRIVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

China tables railway project linking to Pakistan

By Dawn.com

A research study regarding an international railway project linking Pakistan with China’s Xinjiang province through Azad Jammu and Kashmir has been commissioned by China, according to a Times of India and China Daily report.

The rail link funded primarily by China would connect Xinjiang’s western city Kashgar to the Gwadar deep sea port of Pakistan, said state-run China Daily while quoting the director of Xinjiang’s regional development and reform commission, Zhang Chunlin on the subject.

“The 1,800-km China-Pakistan railway is planned to also pass through Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad and Karachi,” Zhang had said at the two-day International Seminar on the Silk Road Economic Belt being held in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.

Due to geo-strategic implications the project would be hard to proceed with, as it would be a requisite for the rail project to run through the Pamir Plateau and Karakoram Mountains. Although once completed it would emerge as one of the most strategically beneficial transportation infrastructures on the China-Pakistan economic corridor, opined Zhang.

“Although the cost of constructing the railway is expected to be high due to the hostile environment and complicated geographic conditions, the study of the project has already been started,” he added.

President Xi Jinping had also spoken in favour of rejuvenating conventional trade routes connecting China, Central Asia and Europe.

A multi-billion deal has already been signed to initiate work on an Economic Corridor linking Kashgar with the port city of Gwadar through AJK. It also implied revamping the already in place Karakoram road link despite the cynicism expressed by political analysts in China.

The project exhibits tremendous potential as it would enable China to run a port alongside Gulf of Oman which is deemed to be a hub for activities relating to oil tankers.

India however has objected to the project citing concerns that the said route would involve a disputed territory. Pakistan had given the operational key of the port city of Gwadar to Beijing back in 2013, a move deeply detested by India as it alleged it could provide a chance to China to monitor its port activities.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1116104/china-tables-railway-project-linking-to-pakistan

Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

By BASSEM MROUE and MAAMOUN YOUSSEF | Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq said it has merged with Syria’s extremist Jabhat al-Nusra, a move that shows the rising confidence of radicals within the Syrian rebel movement and is likely to trigger renewed fears among its international backers.

A website linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra confirmed on Tuesday the merger with the Islamic State of Iraq, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first made the announcement in a 21-minute audio posted on militant websites late Monday.

Jabhat Al-Nusra has taken an ever-bigger role in Syria’s conflict over the last year, fighting in key battles and staging several large suicide bombings. The U.S. has designated it a terrorist organization.

The Syrian group has made little secret of its ideological ties to the global jihadist movement and its links across the Iraqi border but until now has not officially declared itself to be part of al-Qaida.

Al-Baghdadi said that his group — the Islamic State of Iraq — and Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra will now be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham. Sham is a name for Syria and the surrounding region.

“It is time to announce to the Levantine (Syrian) people and the whole world that Jabhat al-Nusra is merely an extension and part of the Islamic State of Iraq,” he said.

He said that the Iraqi group was providing half of its budget to the conflict in Syria. Al-Baghdadi said that the Syrian group would have no separate leader but instead be led by the “people of Syria themselves” — implying that he would be in charge in both countries.

For such a high-profile Syrian rebel group to formally join al-Qaida is likely to spark concerns among backers of the opposition that are in the global terror network’s crosshairs, including both Western countries and Gulf Arab states.

Continue reading Iraqi al-Qaida and Syria militants announce merger

Balochistan: middle-class rebellion

Dr. Allah Nazar

By: Mahvish Ahmad

QUETTA: The state sees them as unruly men serving power-hungry sardars, but the six 20-something Baloch Student Organisation-Azad (BSO-Azad) members sitting cross-legged on the floor of their dorm room come across as more diligent than unruly, and more revolutionary than submissive.

As active sympathisers of a rebellion calling for outright independence, they embody a new kind of Baloch freedom fighter – or sarmachar.

And a new kind of victim of the kill-and-dump policy practised, they claim, by the Frontier Core (FC) and intelligence agencies.

These six young men are urbanised, middle-class, educated, and typically allied as equals rather than serving as underlings to the separatist Bugti and Marri sardars of Balochistan.

“We are united in our call for an independent Balochistan. And we have sacrificed our lives for our cause. Ninety-five members of BSO-Azad have been picked up, tortured and brutally murdered by the establishment. Many of them were students at educational institutions like Balochistan University,” says Khalid, an office-holder in BSO-Azad.

Malik Siraj Akbar, the editor of the online newspaper, Baloch Hal, which has been banned in Pakistan, agrees. “Today’s Baloch movement is headed not solely by […] tribal chiefs, but [by] educated middle class youth,” says Malik in the introduction to his book, “The Redefined Dimensions of the Baloch Nationalist Movement”.

Continue reading Balochistan: middle-class rebellion

Free Baluchistan – Selig S. Harrison

Selig Herrison

As the Islamist nightmare envelops Pakistan, the Obama administration ponders what the United States should do. But the bitter reality is that the United States is already doing too much in Pakistan. It is the American shadow everywhere, the Pakistani feeling of being smothered by the U.S. embrace, that gives the Islamists their principal rallying cry.

Evidence is everywhere of what the Economist calls “a rising tide of anti-American passion.” The leading spokesman of traditional Muslim theology, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), opposes the “war on terror” because “it is an American war” and blames a U.S. plot for the recent assassination of the moderate Punjab governor, Salman Taseer.

The endless procession of U.S. leaders paying goodwill visits to Islamabad, most recently Vice President Joe Biden, evokes sneers and ridicule in the Urdu-language press, accompanied by cartoons showing Pakistanis scratching fleas crawling over their bodies. The late special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, liked free-swinging encounters with Pakistani journalists that left a trail of bitterness expressed in the Urdu media, but this did not deter Holbrooke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from return visits.

To calm the situation down, the United States should start by phasing out drone attacks in the Pashtun border areas with their massive civilian casualties and should end the $1 billion plus in annual subsidies to the armed forces that make them look like American puppets. At the same time, less visible education and development aid provided by the Kerry-Lugar bill should be continued, together with the International Monetary Fund credits that keep the Pakistani state afloat, and access to U.S. markets for Pakistani textile exports should be increased.

Instead of publicly prodding the Punjabi-dominated armed forces to step up their offensive against Pashtun tribal militants in the Afghan border areas, the United States should recognize that Islamabad is afraid of stirring up Pashtun ethnic sentiment there that could break up the fragile multi ethnic Pakistani federation.

The Pashtuns of the former­­–Northwest Frontier Province (now called Kyber Pakhtunkhwa) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have an ancient history of resisting Punjabi incursions, but the Army did not come into direct conflict with the Pashtuns following the creation of Pakistan until July 2002, when, at the behest of the United States, it sent a division into FATA to attack al-Qaeda and Taliban forces at key transit points on the Afghan border. Heavy casualties resulted, displacing some fifty thousand people. This was a historic break with the autonomy agreements negotiated by the British with FATA tribes and honored until then by Pakistan. As the “war on terror” has proceeded, the FATA Pashtuns have been politicized and radicalized as never before.

The underlying reason that Pakistan’s U.S. links are so unpopular and make such a tempting target for the Islamists is that America is perceived as anti-Muslim.

The Islamists focus not only on Muslim casualties in next door Afghanistan, but above all on U.S. support for Israel and on the American military presence throughout the Arabian Sea , the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf in areas near Pakistan.

Why does the United States keep pouring aid into Pakistan despite its active support for the Taliban in Afghanistan at the expense of U.S.-NATO forces and its inability or unwillingness to help the United States root out al-Qaeda from its mountain sanctuaries?

American officials point to its arsenal of seventy to ninety nuclear weapons, arguing that a tight U.S. embrace of the Pakistani military and intelligence elite is necessary to make sure that another nuclear-proliferation racket does not emerge like the one organized by nuclear czar A. Q. Khan.

This is an understandable concern because many of the same generals who colluded with Khan are still in high places. But the larger danger to the United States is that the nuclear arsenal will fall into the hands of the Islamist sympathizers inside the nuclear establishment, or that the Islamists will completely take over the armed forces, branding current military leaders as U.S. stooges.

Continue reading Free Baluchistan – Selig S. Harrison

Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News

By Richard Engel and Robert Windrem

NBC News

Updated: 11:14 a.m. ET — Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.

The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States, accused of killing American servicemen and contractors in the 1970s and supporting the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran before breaking with the Iranian mullahs in 1980.

The attacks, which have killed five Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007 and may have destroyed a missile research and development site, have been carried out in dramatic fashion, with motorcycle-borne assailants often attaching small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Obama administration is aware of the assassination campaign but has no direct involvement.

The Iranians have no doubt who is responsible – Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, known by various acronyms, including MEK, MKO and PMI. ….

Read more » http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/09/10354553-israel-teams-with-terror-group-to-kill-irans-nuclear-scientists-us-officials-tell-nbc-news

via – Twitter

Why Muslim states fail

By Khaled Ahmed

States released from colonial rule in the 20th century have by and large not done well. Today, most of them are either failing or failed states. Only a few have reached the finishing line of liberal democracy with a survivable economic model beyond the 21st century. Most of the Muslim states are included in the failing postcolonial model. Dictators with mental bipolar disorder — historically mistaken for charisma — who aimed to achieve romantic goals have crumbled, leaving in their wake equally romantic mobs of youths demanding what they presume is liberal democracy.

After Saddam Hussein, Iraq is in disarray; after Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is teetering; Libya promises nothing better. And after Musharraf, Pakistan’s democracy is dysfunctional. Among Muslims, only the market state in the Gulf may survive. In the Far East, too, it is the market state that looks like marching on. Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia may survive if they don’t exterminate their entrepreneur Chinese minorities under the spur of Islam. In Europe, when the dictator quits, civilisation takes over and the state survives. No such thing happens in the Muslim world. The premodern seduction of the Muslim mind prevents return to democracy. The blasphemy law is more powerful than any democratic constitution. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Behind Pakistan’s ‘Haqqani problem’

– Analysis » By Khaled Ahmed

The planned committee that will ensure that the APC statement is acted upon will have a tough time bringing the Haqqanis under control because in this instance the tail is wagging the dog

During the APC against America on 29 September 2011 in Islamabad, Maulana Samiul Haq said that the Haqqani network was ‘indigenous to Pakistan’. How could he say that except on the basis of the fact that both the founder of the Network, Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son the current commander Siraj, are graduates of his Madrassa Haqqania in Akora Khattak, Nowshehra, near Peshawar?

Continue reading Behind Pakistan’s ‘Haqqani problem’

Robert Fisk: How long before the dominoes fall?

The West is offering lessons in democracy to New Libya; how to avoid the chaos we ourselves inflicted on the Iraqis

The remaining Arab potentates and tyrants have spent a second sleepless night. How soon will the liberators of Tripoli metamorphose into the liberators of Damascus and Aleppo and Homs? Or of Amman? Or Jerusalem? Or of Bahrain or Riyadh? It’s not the same, of course.

The Arab Spring-Summer-Autumn has proved not just that the old colonial frontiers remain inviolate – an awful tribute to imperialism, I suppose – but that every revolution has its own characteristics. If all Arab uprisings have their clutch of martyrs, some rebellions are more violent than others. As Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said at the start of his own eventual downfall, “Libya is not Tunisia, it’s not Egypt…It will become civil war. There will be bloodshed on the streets.” And there was.

And so we gaze into the crystal ball. Libya will be a Middle East superpower – unless we impose an economic occupation as the price of Nato’s “liberating” bombardment – and a less African, more Arab country now that Gaddafi’s obsession with central and southern Africa has disappeared. It may infect Algeria and Morocco with its freedoms. The Gulf states will be happy – up to a point – since most regarded Gaddafi as mentally unstable as well as mischievous. But unseating tyrannical Arab rulers is a dangerous game when unelected Arab rulers join in. Who now remembers the forgotten 1977 war in which Anwar Sadat sent his bombers to pulverise Gaddafi’s airbases – the very same airbases Nato has been attacking these past months – after Israel warned the Egyptian president that Gaddafi was planning his assassination? But Gaddafi’s dictatorship outlived Sadat by 30 years. …

Read more → independent.co.uk

Sindhi-Mohajir Rapprochement is possible

– Rapprochement is possible

By Abrar Kazi & Zulfiqar Halepoto

ONCE again, differences between the PPP and MQM have translated into a Sindhi-Mohajir confrontation. In fact, the reasons for this are inherent in the politics of both parties.

The politics of PPP which it calls ‘the politics of reconciliation’ is in fact politics without principles that negates its manifesto. For example, the party promised to undo the Musharraf-era division of Hyderabad district and the clubbing together of Karachi’s five districts, which Benazir Bhutto criticised as an administrative division imposed by a dictator. But the promise was never fulfilled.

The PPP’s major fault is, however, to take the support of Sindhis for granted. It has failed to recognise that the Sindhi people’s love for their motherland transcends party lines, all sacrifices rendered by the PPP or any other party notwithstanding, and that their unity of thought on major issues is phenomenal.

The MQM’s politics appears to be based on the ethnic sentiments of its voters, which when exploited, have the damaging effect of causing dislike for those who do not speak Urdu. The journey from ‘Mohajir’ to ‘Muttahida’ was considered a policy shift towards the integration of MQM supporters with the rest of Sindh. But it turned out to be more a change of strategy than of heart.

Such politics tend to paint all Urdu-speaking people with the same brush although most are progressive and liberal and desire peace and integration. Pakistan’s security establishment, the guardians of the ‘ideological and geographical frontiers’ of the country, have contributed their own bit to this confrontation so that the province has reached its present status of seemingly insurmountable problems.

Consciously or unconsciously, a large segment of the Urdu-speaking intelligentsia, civil society and media have either kept quiet or are perceived as supporting such an ethnic viewpoint thereby increasing the rift. Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship further widened the gulf through deliberate design to give control of Sindh’s urban centres to the MQM as independent administrative units through the district government system. The LGO 2001 appeared to dovetail with the thinking of those who supported the idea of a Mohajir province in Sindh. This resulted in causing suspicion among Sindhis, who despite the numerous merits of the local government system, rejected the change as an attempt to divide Sindh.

Sindhis voted for the PPP and its manifesto which promised to undo all Musharraf’s actions including the local government system of 2001. Since then, there have been incessant demands for the promised actions.

One point must be noted here. Since 1988, the MQM and the PPP have shared power in Sindh three times. Without going into the deeper factors, the general acceptance of the power-sharing by the masses is indicative that by and large the voters and also the people are fundamentally in favour of coexistence between the Sindh- and Urdu-speaking-sindhis of the province.

Another point worth noting is that the ‘Sindh card’ often played by the PPP whenever it has been in trouble is in effect dead from this point on.

Rather than acting on people’s aspirations, the PPP government has resorted to unprincipled politics, refusing to understand the larger issues involved in the present controversy and thus further aggravating the Sindhi-Urdu (Mohajir) divide.

The angry reaction of Sindhis against the PPP and MQM must be seen against this backdrop. It is not about a few nationalist leaders, intellectuals and members of civil society agitating the people. Neither is it about the present district government controversy. It is the pent-up frustration and anger of many decades of authoritarian and military rule in Pakistan, especially in Sindh. It is about what is seen as the plunder of Sindh’s resources without corresponding benefits to Sindh.

It is about the ownership of two prosperous cities of Sindh, established and developed by a competent and dedicated mercantile and cosmopolitan Sindhi Hindu and Muslim class that flourished much before Pakistan came into existence. It is about the humiliation of seeing a provincial assembly passing a resolution to in effect put a ban on Sindhis getting admission in public-sector professional institutions and employment in the multinational companies. It is also about the frustration at the unending cycle of blood on the streets.This constant confrontation between Sindhis and Mohajirs (urdu-speaking-sindhis0 is a source of great loss to Pakistan and still greater loss to Sindh. Despite being secular and progressive, Sindh lags behind in terms of economic and social development because of the albatross of PPP and MQM policies. Sindh is a prosperous and resource-rich province. It is also a land of secular and liberal people who have given strong political leadership to Pakistan from Jinnah to Benazir Bhutto.

It presented the incumbent PPP government an unmatched opportunity to correct all the wrongs done to the country by the civil and military establishment of Pakistan. A strong democratic and plural society, could have been created to tackle terrorism, the sectarian and ethnic divide and violence in politics but the opportunity was lost by the PPP. The MQM’s alignment with the security establishment further damaged the cause.

There is still hope though. The present revolt against the PPP indicates that Sindhis can reject their own elected government if they fear a division of the province. This raises the opportunity for progressive Urdu-speaking Sindhis to join hands with the Sindhis to make the province an ideal homeland setting an example of peaceful coexistence and democracy.

Courtesy: DAWN.COM

Men should be allowed sex slaves and female prisoners could do the job – and all this from a WOMAN politician from Kuwait

– By Daily Mail Reporter

A Kuwaiti woman who once ran for parliament has called for sex slavery to be legalised – and suggested that non-Muslim prisoners from war-torn countries would make suitable concubines.

Salwa al Mutairi argued buying a sex-slave would protect decent, devout and ‘virile’ Kuwaiti men from adultery because buying an imported sex partner would be tantamount to marriage.

And she even had an idea of where to ‘purchase’ these sex-salves – browsing through female prisoners of war in other countries.

The political activist and TV host even suggested that it would be a better life for women in warring countries as the might die of starvation.

Mutairi claimed: ‘There was no shame in it and it is not haram’ (forbidden) under Islamic Sharia law.’

She gave the example of Haroun al-Rashid, an 8th century Muslim leader who ruled over an area covered by modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria and was rumoured to have 2,000 concubines.

Mutairi recommended that offices could be opened to run the sex trade in the same way that recruitment agencies provide housemaids.

She suggested shopping for prisoners of war so as to protect Kuwaiti men from being tempted to commit adultery or being seduced by other women’s beauty.

‘For example, in the Chechnyan war, surely there are female Russian captives,’ she said.

‘So go and buy those and sell them here in Kuwait. Better than to have our men engage in forbidden sexual relations.’

Her unbelievable argument for her plan was that ‘captives’ might ‘just die of hunger over there’.

She insisted, ‘I don’t see any problem in this, no problem at all’.

In an attempt to consider the woman’s feelings in the arrangement, Mutari conceded that the enslaved women, however, should be at least 15.

Mutairi said free women must be married with a contract but with concubines ‘the man just buys her and that’s it. That’s enough to serve as marriage.’

Her remarks, made in a video posted on YouTube last month and carried by newspapers in the Gulf states in recent days, have sparked outrage in cyber-space from fellow Kuwaitis and others in the wider region.

‘Wonder how Salwa al Mutairi would’ve felt if during the occupation (of Kuwait) by Iraqi forces, she was sold as ‘war booty’ as she advocates for Chechen women,’ tweeted Mona Eltahawy.

Another tweeter, Shireen Qudosi, told Mutairi ‘you’re a disgrace to women everywhere’.

For Muna Khan, an editor at the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television station, the ‘icing on the cake’ of Mutairi’s ‘preposterous views’ was her assertion that her suggestions do not conflict with the tenets of Islam.

Mutairi said that during a recent visit to Mecca, she asked Saudi muftis – Muslim religious scholars – what the Islamic ruling was on owning sex slaves. They are said to have told her that it is not haram.

The ruling was confirmed by ‘specialized people of the faith’ in Kuwait, she claimed.

‘They said, that’s right, the only solution for a decent man who has the means, who is overpowered by desire and who does not want to commit fornication, is to acquire jawari.’ Jawari is the plural of the Arabic term jariya, meaning ‘concubine’ or ‘sex slave’.

One Saudi mufti supposedly told Mutairi: ‘The context must be that of a Muslim nation conquering a non-Muslim nation, so these jawari have to be prisoners of war.’

Concubines, she argued, would suit Muslim men who fear being ‘seduced or tempted into immoral behaviour by the beauty of their female servants’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2000292/Men-allowed-sex-slaves-female-prisoners-job–WOMAN-politician-Kuwait.html#ixzz1Ossvr7bB

Pakistan and China: Two Friends Hit a Bump

By MICHAEL WINES

BEIJING — This is officially the Year of Pakistan-China Friendship, and in a four-day visit to Beijing last week — the third in just 17 months — Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, proclaimed that the two best friends “are like one nation and two countries.” Chinese officials were reported to have presented Mr. Gilani with 50 fighter jets as a welcome gift.

So it raised eyebrows when this week the two nations politely disagreed over whether Mr. Gilani had given the Chinese a gift that would be hard to mislay: an entire naval base, right at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.

Pakistan’s defense minister, Ahmad Mukhtar, who accompanied Mr. Gilani on the state visit, announced the deal after Mr. Gilani returned home on Saturday.

“We have asked our Chinese brothers to please build a naval base at Gwadar,” a deepwater port on Pakistan’s southwest coast, he told journalists.

Moreover, he said, Pakistan had invited China to assume management of the port’s commercial operations, now run by a Singapore firm under a multidecade contract.

On Tuesday, however, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, disagreed, saying the port had neither been offered nor accepted.

“China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors,” she said at the ministry’s twice-weekly news conference. “Regarding the specific China-Pakistan cooperative project that you raised, I have not heard of it. It’s my understanding that during the visit last week this issue was not touched upon.”

Some analysts were at a loss to explain the discrepancy.

“Maybe there were some discussions between the two sides when Gilani was up in China last week, bearing on some kind of future Chinese stewardship of the port,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, in a telephone interview. “Maybe there was some speculative discussion. Perhaps the Defense Ministry simply got its signals wrong.”

We’re seeing a lot of incompetence in the Pakistani government these days,” he added. ….

Read more : The New York Times

via BrownPundits

Bahrain protests will go nowhere while the US supports its government

by Ian Black, Middle East editor

The Al-Khalifa family, who control Bahrain, has cracked down on dissent with little condemnation from the west

History and geography explain why Bahrain’s peaceful uprising was the early exception to the “Arab spring”, which began with high hopes in Tunisia and Egypt but now faces bloody uncertainties in Libya and Syria.

Sitting astride the faultline between the Shia and Sunni worlds, the small Gulf island state lies at the heart of a strategically sensitive region that is dominated by bitter rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia – both very tough neighbours. …

Read more: guardian.co.uk

Pakistan looks towards China for building naval base in Gwadar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Saturday it wanted China to build it a naval base, in the latest sign of moves to strengthen ties with Beijing as relations with Washington falter.

The announcement from Pakistan’s defence minister came a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani returned from a four-day visit to China, Islamabad’s biggest arms supplier.

“We would be … grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is … constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan,” Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said in a statement, referring to the deep-water port in Pakistan’s southwest.

The statement did not say whether Pakistan had asked China to build the base at the port in Balochistan province.

Islamabad is trying to deepen ties with Beijing as relations with the United States have strained following the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan earlier this month.

Many in Washington have called for a review of billions of dollars of US aid to Pakistan after discovering bin Laden had been hiding for years in a Pakistani garrison town.

China invested $200 million in the first phase of the construction of the port, which was inaugurated in 2007.

The development, 70 km east of the Iranian border and on the doorstep of Gulf shipping lanes, was designed to handle transhipment traffic for the Gulf. ….

Read more: The Express Tribune

The establishment’s twelfth man – Dr Mohammad Taqi

Excerpt:

The fact remains that Imran Khan has always been the establishment’s twelfth man — called upon to field as needed. He claims that the establishment cannot buy him, but do they need to? He has always volunteered for them and it is no different this time.

The citizens of Hayatabad, Peshawar, have finally breathed a sigh of relief after the two-day long sit-in organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has ended. Whether NATO supplies were halted because of this so-called protest remains moot, but life in one of Peshawar’s largest residential districts was certainly brought to a grinding halt by the chapli kabab-fed 5,000 people herded from outside the city by the PTI and various sectarian and religio-political parties allied with it. The idea, ostensibly, was to block one of the delivery routes through which the NATO forces in Afghanistan are supplied, thus forcing the US to halt its drone attacks. ….

…. To this end the deep state is trying to stir up hysteria against the US, through Imran Khan and his ilk and, in the process, build pressure on the PPP and ANP et al to fall in line as well. By letting the twelfth man warm up now, the establishment wants to elbow out Mian Nawaz Sharif — whom they mistrust deeply — as potentially the next premier. They know that a savvy politician like Mian sahib may actually play ball with the US, against their diktat.

While milking the Saudis for funds, and allowing mercenaries to be recruited for the Gulf, the establishment is getting its domestic ducks in a row, in preparation for a showdown with the US over its Af-Pak endgame. What can serve them better in this than a conglomerate of the martial law’s perennial B team like the Jamaat-e-Islami, pro-jihadists like Sami-ul-Haq and assorted opportunists? The twelfth man has always hoped that the establishment will grant him the political test cap one day. His hypocrisy may actually earn him the captaincy of the junta’s ‘B’ team this time.

To read complete article : DailyTimes.com.pk

Yemen leader Saleh agrees to step down

Yemen leader Saleh agrees to step down under Gulf plan

President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has agreed to step down under a 30-day transition plan aimed at ending violent unrest over his 32-year rule.

Officials in the capital Sanaa confirmed the government had accepted the plan drawn up by Gulf Arab states.

Mr Saleh will hand power to his vice-president one month after an agreement is signed with the opposition, in return for immunity from prosecution.

At least 120 people have died during two months of protests.

The US has welcomed the announcement; a statement from the White House urged all parties to “swiftly” implement a peaceful transfer of power ….

Read more : BBC

Mercenaries for the Middle East – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh.

Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals”. — The Revolution Betrayed, Leon Trotsky

In his 1983 masterpiece, Can Pakistan survive? The death of a state, Tariq Ali opens the section on Pakistan’s foreign policy during the Z A Bhutto days with the above quote from Trotsky. After duly recognising the limitations of generalising this aphorism, Tariq Ali had noted that many third-world capitals pursue a foreign policy closely mirroring their domestic economic and political policies but perhaps none has done so more grotesquely than Islamabad. Tariq Ali had written:

One of the commodities exported was labour, and the remittances sent back by migrant workers provided nearly 20 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It was also reported that 10,000 Pakistani prostitutes had been dispatched to the Gulf states by the United Bank Limited (UBL), to strengthen its reserves of foreign currency. Soldiers and officers were also leased out as mercenaries to a number of states in that region. In some ways it was telling indictment of the Pakistani state that it can only survive by selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs.”

The Pakistani military establishment’s cooperation with Arab dictators obviously dates back to the Ayub Khan era and the UK and US-sponsored Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) or Baghdad Pact of 1955. However, the surge in the export of mercenaries that Tariq Ali was alluding to was not because of the western sponsorship of such legions but because Pakistan, in 1971, had declared a moratorium on repayment of its foreign debt and had to look for financial aid elsewhere while the IMF would again agree to a loan (which it eventually did). While one cannot confirm the veracity of the claim about the UBL’s venture, the events of the last several months show that somehow the grotesque mediocrity of the Pakistani establishment keeps repeating its antics, as far as the export of the mercenaries goes.

The Arab spring has created unique geopolitical scenarios where old alliances are falling apart — or at least are no longer trustworthy — while new realities are taking shape much to the discontent of regional autocrats. I have repeatedly stated that Barack Obama’s instinct is to side with the democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, without intervening directly, even though cliques within his administration have been able to drag him into the Libyan morass. Obama’s handling of Hosni Mubarak’s fall did not go well with Saudi king Abdullah and the bitter exchange between the two, during a phone conversation, is rather well known. The wily Saudi monarch subsequently concluded that if there were to be an uprising in his courtyard, the Americans would not come to his rescue. And unless a smoking gun can be traced to Tehran, Abdullah is right. With Obama getting re-elected — yes I said it — in 2012, the Saudis have chosen to exercise other options that they have heavily invested in, for decades, to protect their courtyard and backyard.

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh. But they also know that the democratic contagion can spread at the periphery of the Kingdom, with the oil-rich Eastern province slipping out of control quickly or the disquiet at the Yemeni border keeping Riyadh distracted (the latter was tested by both Gamal Nasser and Iran). The Saudi plan, just as in the 1969 bombing of Yemen by Pakistani pilots flying Saudi planes, is to use the trusted Pakistani troops to bolster the defence of not only the Saudi regime but of its client states like Bahrain.

It is not a surprise then that before Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain on March 13, 2011, the chief of Saudi Land Forces, General Abdul Rahman Murshid visited Pakistan and before that, on March 9, met General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Bahrain had already requested and received assurance for military help from Pakistan in late February 2011. In fact, a leading Urdu paper carried an advertisement from the Fauji Foundation Pakistan on February 25 and March 1, seeking men for recruitment to the Bahrain National Guard. The qualifications sought were the following: age 20-25, height of six-feet or taller and military/security service background especially in riot control, which suggest that enrolment was not exactly for the Manama Red Crescent Society.

After the Saudi army brutally crushed the uprising in Bahrain, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the State Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. While the Bahraini media splashed pictures of the handshake between Ms Khar and Sheikh Khalid, announcing Pakistani support to Bahrain, the actual backing had been pledged by the Chief of General Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wayne, whom the Bahraini minster met on March 29.

In her article titled ‘Bahrain or bust?’, Miranda Husain writes: “Chomsky believes Pakistani presence in Bahrain can be seen as part of a US-backed alliance to safeguard western access to the region’s oil …The US has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations… Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world.” Ms Husain and the American Baba-e-Socialism (Father of Socialism), Chomsky, conclude with the hope that Pakistan should not meddle in the Middle East.

I believe that Chomsky’s reading of the situation in the Persian Gulf is dead wrong. It is the divergence — not confluence — of US-Saudi-Pakistani interests that is the trigger for potential Pakistani involvement there. The Pakistani brass’ handling of the Raymond Davis affair and now its insistence — through bravado, not subtlety — on redefining the redlines with the US indicates that just like the 1971 situation, an alternative funding source to the IMF has been secured. The Pasha-Panetta meeting has raised more issues than it has solved. Pakistani-Saudi interests are at odds with the US and are confluent with each other.

From the Kerry-Lugar Bill to the Raymond Davis saga, the mullahs have been deployed swiftly to create an impression of public support for the establishment’s designs. Last Friday’s mobilisation of the religious parties in favour of the Saudis is the establishment’s standard drill and will be repeated as needed. The Pakistani deep state apparently has decided to keep selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs. The domestic policy of coercion and chaos will be continued in foreign lands too.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Bahrain or Bust?

Pakistan should think twice before meddling in the Middle East.

By Miranda Husain

Excerpt:

Less than three weeks after Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces, led by Saudi Arabia, entered Bahrain to aid the anti-democracy crackdown there, dignitaries from both oil-rich kingdoms did their separate rounds in Pakistan. The royal houses of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are nervous, and they need Pakistan’s mercenaries, and—if necessary—military muscle to shore them up.

This is a remarkable turn of events for Asif Ali Zardari, who had been trying since he was elected president in 2008 to secure Saudi oil on sweetheart terms. He had been unsuccessful in his efforts because … Saudis view his leadership with some degree of skepticism. It also doesn’t help that Zardari, … is big on improving relations with … Tehran. Riyadh now appears inclined to export oil on terms that better suit cash-strapped Islamabad. Manama, too, wants to play ball. It wants increased defense cooperation and has pledged to prioritize Pakistan’s hopes for a free-trade agreement with the GCC in return. But Zardari and his Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, should fight the urge to get mired in the Middle East. …

“The U.S. has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations,” says Chomsky. “Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world,” he says. Pakistan has such “severe internal problems” that it may not be able to play this role even if asked to. But the real reason that Pakistan should avoid this role is so that it can stand on the right side of history, alongside those who are fighting for democracy.

To read full article : NewsWeekPakistan

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Failed state or Weimar Republic?

Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state, still committed to American and Gulf Arab alliances

By Omar Ali

A friend recently wrote to me that Pakistan reminded him of the Weimar republic; an anarchic and poorly managed democracy with some real freedoms and an explosion of artistic creativity, but also with a dangerous fascist ideology attracting more and more adherents as people tire of economic hardship and social disorder and yearn for a savior. Others (much more numerous than the single friend who suggested the Weimar comparison) insist that Pakistan is a failed state. So which is it? Is Pakistan the Weimar republic of the day or is it a failed state?

Continue reading Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state

Freedom is ‘God’s gift to humanity’

By SALIM MANSUR, QMI Agency

As people’s insurrections spread in the Arab world, it might be useful for those watching the mayhem gather pace to take time out from television and reach for some historical perspective.

There is no substitute for such perspective to put in context the Arab drama unfolding before our eyes. And like a play of several acts, it will have many scene changes before the curtain eventually comes down.

From North Africa to the Persian Gulf, Arab regimes are trembling. Some will fall and others will change colours to barely survive.

The Libyan thug Moammar Gadhafi did not imagine his thugocracy could so quickly unravel. He might meet the fate of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, executed by his rebellious soldiers, or that of Saddam Hussein, with a noose around his neck.

But as the drama unfolds, three things will increasingly stand out.

First, former president George W. Bush, despite those who ridiculed him, was right in insisting, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to all humanity.” …

Read more : TORONTO SUN

Bahrain uprising

by: Wichaar desk

MANAMA, Bahrain – Troops and tanks locked down the capital of this tiny Gulf kingdom after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators, many of them sleeping, in a pre-dawn assault Thursday that uprooted their protest camp demanding political change. Medical officials said four people were killed.

Hours after the attack on Manama’s main Pearl Square, the military announced a ban on gatherings, saying on state TV that it had “key parts” of the capital under its control. …

Read more : Wichaar

India plans Asian tidal power first

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News

The Indian state of Gujurat is planning to host Asia’s first commercial-scale tidal power station.

The company Atlantis Resources is to install a 50MW tidal farm in the Gulf of Kutch on India’s west coast, with construction starting early in 2012.

The facility could be expanded to deliver more than 200MW.

The biggest operating tidal station in the world, La Rance in France, generates 240MW, while South Korea is planning several large facilities.

To claim the title of “Asia’s first”, the Indian project will have to outrun developments at Sihwa Lake, a South Korean tidal barrage under construction on the country’s west coast.

Atlantis’s recent feasibility study in Gujurat concluded that the state had good potential for tidal exploitation. …

Read more : BBC

China’s Discreet Hold on Pakistan’s Northern Borderlands

By SELIG S. HARRISON

While the world focuses on the flood-ravaged Indus River valley, a quiet geopolitical crisis is unfolding in the Himalayan borderlands of northern Pakistan, where Islamabad is handing over de facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northwest corner of disputed Kashmir to China.

The entire Pakistan-occupied western portion of Kashmir stretching from Gilgit in the north to Azad (Free) Kashmir in the south is closed to the world, in contrast to the media access that India permits in the eastern part, where it is combating a Pakistan-backed insurgency. But reports from a variety of foreign intelligence sources, Pakistani journalists and Pakistani human rights workers reveal two important new developments in Gilgit-Baltistan: a simmering rebellion against Pakistani rule and the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army.

China wants a grip on the region to assure unfettered road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan. It takes 16 to 25 days for Chinese oil tankers to reach the Gulf. When high-speed rail and road links through Gilgit and Baltistan are completed, China will be able to transport cargo from Eastern China to the new Chinese-built Pakistani naval bases at Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara, just east of the Gulf, within 48 hours.

Many of the P.L.A. soldiers entering Gilgit-Baltistan are expected to work on the railroad. Some are extending the Karakoram Highway, built to link China’s Sinkiang Province with Pakistan. Others are working on dams, expressways and other projects.

Read more >> The New York Times

U.S. Navy and Israeli warships moving towards Iran

– Aporrea.org

June 19, 2010 – More than a dozen U.S. warships and Israel, including an aircraft carrier, passed through the Suez Canal on Friday and head towards the Red Sea. “According to eyewitnesses, U.S. battleships were larger than crossed the Channel for many years,” reported the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi on Saturday.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the Egyptian opposition members criticized the government for cooperation with the U.S. and Israeli forces and allow the passage of ships through Egyptian territorial waters. The Red Sea is the most direct route to the Persian Gulf from the Mediterranean.

Continue reading U.S. Navy and Israeli warships moving towards Iran