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Middle East

Guy Anderson, editor and lead analyst, Jane's Defence Industry

The United Arab Emirates is one of the world's true "frontier" defence markets. It is courted by Western firms seeking to offset slumping spending at home; emerging exporters like South Korea seeking to establish a foothold beyond their own borders; and Russia and China under their arms-for-energy-access strategies.

A precarious geographical position, buoyant oil revenues and strong defence expenditure growth (military funding leapt 276 per cent between 2001 and 2010)[1] make the UAE an attractive prospect. There is both the means and the rationale to continue spending on national defence.

The UAE, meanwhile, knows its value to the world market and is looking for a healthy return on its investments. It is looking to defence expenditure to help overcome two pressing problems: firstly, the twin demographic challenges of a young population in need of meaningful employment and a strong reliance on foreign labour (20.9 per cent of UAE nationals were under the age of 15 in 2008 and 73.9 per cent of those of working age were non-nationals)[2] and, secondly, continued high reliance on oil revenues (oil exports accounted for 40 per cent of GDP in 2008).[3]

It is unsurprising that the UAE overhauled its offset regime this year [2010] in order to maximise the social and economic returns on its investment in military materiel.

The reforms have created numerous challenges for foreign industry, however, and may yet backfire by alienating the very firms which the UAE is seeking to work with. Indeed, there have been reports that international defence trade associations are considering sending a jointly-signed letter to the UAE's offset bureau to vent their frustrations (there is a precedent - a similar letter on a similar subject was recently despatched to India)[4].

Read more...  

Reviewed by Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

Between 1986 and 1998 STRATFOR'S Fred Burton was at the forefront of the United States' counterterrorism efforts. As part of the relatively low-profile Diplomatic Security Service's (DSS) Counterterrorism Branch, Burton gained first experience of religious terrorism and extremism. 'Ghost' is his attempt to take the reader into his – and the West's – struggle against terrorist atrocities. This is a journey into what Burton calls the 'Dark World' and as such throws light on the response to terrorism that is seen by all but a few.

Ghost is divided into three sections, each reflecting stages of Burton's career with the DSS and also developments within the international system. Part 1 details Burton's transition from a beat cop into a counterterrorism professional. It also covers the Beirut hostage crisis and the beginnings of Libya's support for Middle East terrorism. From the outset it is absolutely staggering just how inadequately prepared the United States was for international terrorism. Initially, the Counterterrorism Branch was comprised of just three federal officers. There were no set guidelines or standard procedures and you get the sense that Burton and the team truly made it up as they went along.

To begin, Burton applies a beat cop mentality to the task at hand. At times part 1 reads a little bit like a counterterrorism manual. It is full of anecdotes about lessons learned, advice to take out into the field and 'do's and don'ts'. Part 1 also provides the reader with the side of intelligence and counterterrorism that is regularly played out in Hollywood movies. Burton introduces us to the FOGHORN messenger facilities, the standard uniform and accessories of a federal agent and the near constant stream of intelligence that needs to be sifted and made sense of quickly. There is also a sense that because the Counterterrorism Branch was so small and compartmentalised they were a breed apart from Washington's other federal agencies. Yet all this is forgotten when it is discovered that they have lost one of their own.

As hostages are gradually released in Lebanon it becomes clear that William Buckley, the former CIA Bureau Chief in Beirut, died in captivity. Burton's memoirs capture the overall despair that all federal agencies felt in not saving the life of a colleague. Indeed the death of Buckley is one of many acts of extremism that Burton and his own take very personally. In doing so the Counterterrorism Branch shifts from being a regular place of work to almost the cornerstone of Burton's very existence. Holidays are lost, family commitments are overlooked and weekends merge into the working week.

A further demonstration of how all consuming counterterrorism became to Burton is his 'hit-list' of terrorists. For twelve years, Burton did not rest in his attempts to bring each and every name on that list to justice. Indeed many names were added to the list throughout his career. The bombing of the TWA Flight over Greece, the Lockerbie disaster and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre all bring the same heartfelt response from Burton. They also take him to the safe-houses and the back streets of the world in his attempts to capture those responsible. When Burton slips off the scene almost entirely, the reader joins him on a journey into the murkiest parts of the 'Dark World'.

Read more...  

By Lauren Williamson

Next year's final withdrawal of US troops from Iraq could pose a serious security threat to the burgeoning democracy. In Middle East Report No. 99, released in October 2010, the International Crisis Group deconstructs the country's complex security framework, outlining ambiguities in protocol and inefficiencies in coordination. Arguing that the country's most significant threat is now internal, the report recommends the Iraqi government act quickly to unify its people and fill any gaps created by the withdrawal of US forces.

The 2008 Status-of-Forces Agreement requires all US forces to fully withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011. With just over a year before deadline, there is much work ahead to ensure Iraq can operate solo. In a recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), the think tank deconstructs the country's security framework, outlining ambiguities in protocol and inefficiencies in coordination. The ICG argues that Iraq's future success depends on: 1) unifying and integrating the security forces, and 2) implementing stronger government oversight and accountability measures. But these recommendations are premature, as the March elections have left Iraq's government in political paralysis. The parliamentary tensions must first be addressed before Iraqi leaders shift focus to the country's security forces.

Since the March elections, Iraq's parliament has remained deadlocked in choosing a new leader. Incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki trailed only slightly behind secular Shi'ite candidate Ayad Allawi. US-supported plans for creating a power-sharing government between the groups have not been well-received. Maliki's attempt to secure reappointment has led him to align with Moktada al-Sadr's anti-American Shi'ite Islamist bloc, which analysts say indicates Iran's expanding influence over Iraq. This political environment is sure to stymie any attempt by Iraqi leaders to pursue the ICG's recommendations, as constructive as they may be.

In the report, the ICG carefully details the security framework explaining the various armed entities and six separate intelligence agencies operating within Iraq. A daunting point made by the ICG is that "who controls these various agencies is unclear." Although each agency was individually created to handle differentiated tasks, there exists much overlap which leads to inconsistencies and inefficiencies. Additionally, rivalry has developed between the groups. Such problems link to the US's initial response to the insurgency. To quickly quell the violent upsurge during the civil war years 2005-2007, the US increased quantity – not quality – of security forces. There were no background checks or assurances in loyalties. The ICG argues reversing that trend by focusing on quality of forces, should be the course of action over the next year.

But such efforts would be hampered by the existing inner tensions and public mistrust of the government, particularly amidst Maliki's power grab since 2008. Many Iraqis feel he has exploited the weaknesses in the country's 2005 constitution and that he manipulates security forces to further his own autocratic tendencies and harass political opponents. The ICG suggests the government enforce a hierarchy among the security bodies and set consistent protocol while limiting the political power of any one individual. Yet, if Maliki does secure reappointment, it is doubtful his government would readily support such measures.

Beyond this, the corruption in the country must be addressed. Iraq must therefore combat the problem of ghost soldiers, or soldiers who do not work but take in pay. They must thwart the increase in bribery through which jailed criminals are easily freed and insurgent attackers bypass security checkpoints. The ICG's report does not specifically make recommendations to solve these issues, but it is clear that the government must create an incentive structure that will yield liberal behaviour from citizens. Iraqi quality of life and available economic opportunities must be fruitful enough and legal consequences intimidating enough to make corrupt activities less appealing.

Paternalistic US support may have inadvertently contributed toward stunting the progress of Iraq's internal security. The fear is that when US forces leave in 2011 – taking funding, logistics and equipment with them – it will kick away the crutches too soon. The ICG's report labels the US military as Iraq's "primary bonding agent," but says US military support provides the perfect incentive to offer in return for the Iraqi government adopting a stronger regulatory framework. But this enticement does little to help Iraq create its own bonding agent, and a squabbling parliament is unlikely to easily agree on new regulations which need to be in place before the end of 2011.

Achieving comprehensive security requires a more holistic approach than the one provided by the ICG. One in seven Iraqi men is armed, and the report recommends continued integration of former insurgents into existing forces or public sector employment. However, there are profound ramifications of handling such a surplus of fighters. If quality, not quantity is the way forward, as the ICG suggests, Iraq is facing a significant challenge in reabsorbing former fighters into civilian life. Not only does the country need to offer appealing employment opportunities, but to achieve successful reintegration it must also emphasize re-education. The archetypal grandeur experienced during warfare does not lose its attraction when a war ends, and this psychological desire is hard to quench through the non-combatant roles civilian life offers. It is possible that these individuals will seek fighting elsewhere, becoming liabilities to Iraq's internal security.

The report states "no external threat appears on the horizon" for Iraq. The ICG maintains that insurgent groups are not strong enough to topple the government. Such statements may be harmful if they contribute to a false sense of confidence about the capabilities of the deeply divided government. Iraq's internal tensions might make the country more vulnerable to external threats.

While the report offers a solid analysis of Iraq's security workings and provides recommendations for reviving the regulatory architecture that governs them, it is insufficient in setting a path for achieving total security for the burgeoning democracy. Solving the political deadlock and attaining inner cohesion should be the top priority. In fact, the Strategic Framework Agreement of 2008, which roughly outlines the longer-term Iraqi-US relationship, may need to be amended as troops depart, to allow for a more comprehensive approach in achieving
security for the country.

This article was originally written for and published by The Majalla.

The International Crisis Group report can be accessed here.

 

Reviewed by Roger Green

Yemen is an obscure and impoverished country that has for a long time been an enigma to Western countries. Victoria Clark was born in Aden, the daughter of the BBC's South Arabia correspondent, and this accident of birth gave her the motivation to write this eponymous book.  Over the years she has made several visits to the country and has met most of the influential leaders as well as many ordinary people.  She paints a graphic pen picture of the cultural and social heritage of the country.

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By Dr Robert Crowcroft, Senior Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

The United Nations-sanctioned military intervention in Libya is only a few days old, but already its execution is looking cack-handed. Listening to the news, every politician or military officer has their own perspective. Usually this contradicts what someone else has said just an hour before. 'Message' indiscipline is rife; no single narrative unifies the mission. Nor is there much in the way of strategic vision either. At the moment there seems to be a worrying lack of clarity as to what we are doing in Libya in the first place, how we are going to do it, and how we are going to get out. The Daily Telegraph rightly called it 'an unedifying muddle'. Such interventions require conceptual clarity, and in the campaign to bludgeon Colonel Gadaffi this is sorely lacking. Considering that the operation has only just begun, this raises serious issues about the effectiveness of our political leadership.

Some preliminary questions:

[1] Why are we there?

For the last month, David Cameron has been spoiling to launch military strikes against Gadaffi. To be sure, when he was slapped down by the United States the prime minister had to row back for a little while. But Cameron has pushed for the intervention more than any other leader, with the possible exception of Sarkozy. This is odd, because there is no obvious British national interest in Libya and military action in the Islamic world generates all kind of political headaches.

If we were being cynical, we might recall that prior to the outbreak of civil war in Libya, the British press were, for the first time, starting to land really heavy blows on the government about 'cuts'. Then, when the Libyan crisis began, Cameron leapt into it with a rather baffling eagerness. The prime minister would, without question, have recognised the domestic advantages of deflecting media attention abroad; and what better way to do that than engaging in a 'moral' military campaign against a tin-pot tyrant? Mr Cameron has spent the last month playing the role of 'international statesman', 'good liberal', and 'defender of human rights'. Politically speaking, this is far more appealing than being 'the man who freed the criminals' or 'the man who cut the police'. I know which I'd prefer.

There is a long tradition of British politicians using foreign affairs as a pawn in domestic calculation (most obviously Lord Palmerston, for whom being the scourge of Johnny Foreigner was a recurrent ticket to political success at home). It would be naïve to think that such manoeuvring is not at work here. The problem, however, is that while a month ago it seemed plausible that the Gadaffi regime would fall (and hence a few airstrikes in assistance would represent an easy political win for Cameron) now it looks likely that Gadaffi will survive in some shape or form. Launching an intervention when the rebellion has been pushed back to a small enclave is arguably a grave error; we should either have gone in much earlier, or not at all. Yet Mr Cameron remained eager to drive the policy forward, despite the fundamental changes on the ground. If the mission is now disconnected from easily achievable strategic goals, then serious questions must be asked about his leadership.

[2] Joined-up government

Sir Peter Ricketts, the National Security Adviser, should be awarded an Academy Award. Time and again he informs us that the National Security Council is the best thing since sliced bread, that the NSC is now bridging gaps across Whitehall, and that policy is more co-ordinated as a result. Unfortunately, in the two big tests the NSC has faced since its inception, it has failed to produce anything resembling joined-up government, let alone coherent policy. The SDSR process last autumn was a rushed exercise driven by the Treasury, and in which crucial strategic decisions were blatantly avoided. And now, in Libya, the lack of leadership and grip at the heart of government has been exposed. Cameron and Liam Fox (unlikely allies it must be said) are at loggerheads with General Sir David Richards over whether or not Gadaffi himself is a legitimate target for airstrikes. Fox said that targeting Gadaffi was 'potentially a possibility'. When the question was put to Richards, however, he declared 'absolutely not' and added that 'It is not allowed under the UN mandate'. Downing Street responded by asserting that Richards was 'wrong'. In the House of Commons, Cameron then said that the UN resolution 'does not provide legal authority' to get rid of Gadaffi, but then qualified this by stating that 'there is no decent future' for Libya under the current ruler. I shall translate his statement: 'We want rid of Gadaffi but couldn't get that idea past the UN'. Political leadership in war is supposed to inspire confidence. Can anyone say they have confidence in the British government at the moment?

More worryingly, there is a lack of clarity over whether we should simply be enforcing a no-fly zone, or interpreting the UN resolution in such a way as to pursue regime change on the cheap. Are we there to ensure Gadaffi's planes don't fly, that he doesn't attack civilians (and how is this to be done from the air in urban areas), or to get him out of power? The discord is already building.

This lack of leadership is just as clear in the case of President Obama. He has suggested that the US is going to 'tone down' its role in the coming days, which could simply mean a ceremonial transfer of control to NATO. But it might also mean that the coalition collapses into ineffectiveness without US leadership to drive it forward. Any attempt to toss the problem to the Europeans is unlikely to produce a positive result. Such an outcome would be far, far worse politically than not having become involved in Libya at all. In both foreign and domestic policy, Obama has repeatedly displayed a worrying inability to take any decisions. Don't bet against the same thing happening here.

[3] What is the exit strategy?

If Gadaffi holds on to power, the most likely outcome is a stalemate and the effective fracturing of Libya into two entities. In such circumstances, how long do we have to remain in Libya for? It is probably impractical to do a no-fly zone over the long term, given the logistical constraints. But how do we get out without losing face? Is the West putting itself in a position where it assumes a duty to protect the rebel enclave indefinitely?

Moreover, how do we know that the rebel leaders are any better than Gadaffi? If this is essentially a civil war between the regions of Libya, then it seems unlikely that the rebel leaders are good Guardian-reading liberals in disguise. The incident at the weekend, when the rebels shot down one of their own jets and tried to depict it as a Gadaffi violation of the ceasefire, should make us deeply cautious about them.

There is no clear exit strategy from Libya and so, given the likelihood of a stalemate on the ground, there is much potential for embarrassment. After the British failure in Basra, which saw the US forced to ride to the rescue, the UK cannot afford another blow to its military credibility.

[4] The indulgence of left-wing dogmas

Cameron has shot himself in the foot here. He has stressed repeatedly how the international community 'has given its permission' for the military action. The problem is this: what happens in six months if British, or Western interests, mandate action elsewhere that is not rubber-stamped by the UN? Without this 'permission', can we not defend our national interests? Everyone with common sense knows that the UN is not a collection of virtuous do-gooders but individual states (usually led by gangsters and criminals) looking out for themselves. In the long-term, employing such left-wing language in justifying military conflict is simply self-defeating. The fact that the UN is driven by power-politics was demonstrated vividly in 2003. So why should sovereign democracies permit it such importance? On BBC Radio 4, William Hague stressed that the UN is the world's 'highest moral authority'. Don't make me laugh. The UN refused to sanction the Kosovo war. Should we have stood aside?

Pretending that international politics functions in this way is a feckless thing for politicians to do. If they are so stupid, they deserve their fate.

[5] The duplicity of the Arab states

Long-time observers of the Middle East will know that Arab states are about as trustworthy as a convicted conman. The support of the Arab League for military action was a positive sign. But the League's lapse into ambiguity once the airstrikes actually began was entirely predictable. The narrative which will be spun in mosques across the Middle East is of 'Crusaders' killing Muslims for oil. Arab leaders, hard pressed with their own internal problems, will no doubt make enthusiastic appeals for national unity on the grounds that civil strife opens the door to the Jews and Christians.

So, in conclusion, there is cause for serious concern about the quality of political leadership currently on display, particularly in London. It is, of course, plausible that secret intelligence reports indicate the Gadaffi regime is on the verge of collapse. It would be sensible for the government to keep quiet about this. But as far as we can detect in public, at any rate, the big story is the lack of clarity about the campaign. Imposing discipline on Whitehall would be a start. Mr Cameron needs to come up with some answers – and quickly.

 

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi began to approach the eastern rebel capital of Benghazi on March 19, with the BBC reporting that loyalist armor already is inside the city, though this may have been only a reconnaissance element. Soon after these reports, word of impending international military operations against Gadhafi's forces began to emerge, with French and Italian aircraft reportedly beginning to conduct combat air patrols.

Though Gadhafi declared a unilateral cease-fire in response to the U.N. Security Council's (UNSC) authorization of the use of force against Libya on March 17, it is becoming apparent that this was simply a stalling tactic in an attempt to consolidate gains ahead of airstrikes. The military incentive for Gadhafi is to reach Benghazi before any airstrikes begin. If a "no-drive" zone between Ajdabiya and Benghazi were to come into effect, military vehicles and supply convoys would be vulnerable to any coalition aircraft orbiting overhead, making it far more difficult for Gadhafi to project force across the large open terrain that separates the two cities. Airpower can also make it difficult to move and resupply forces, so the heavier elements of Gadhafi's forces — tanks, tracked vehicles and artillery — already operating at the end of extended lines of supply, may quickly face logistical issues. However, while airpower can attempt to prevent forces from approaching the city, it cannot force the withdrawal of those forces from within the city without risking significant civilian casualties.

Relevant political negotiations and military planning now taking place in Europe continues and more time is needed to mass forces for the impending air campaign against Libya. Nevertheless, if the European-led effort is to stop Gadhafi from reaching Benghazi, it will have to begin soon, with what forces have so far been moved into place — though given Libya's distance from mainland Europe, the presence of U.S. Marine Corps and Italian Harriers and cruise missile-armed warships off the coast, there already is a considerable amount of coalition airpower in place.

As nightfall approaches, loyalist forces with little night-vision capability may slow operations, and any air campaign against them will likely begin under the cover of darkness, consistent with longstanding U.S. and NATO operational practice. Targets are prioritized, so available airpower will begin to work down the list with the suppression of enemy air defenses as well as command, control and communications likely to be at or near the top of the list, though SA-7 MANPADS and anti-aircraft artillery will remain a persistent threat.

Rules of engagement will be an important question. While Gadhafi's forces have been led by a vanguard of T-72 main battle tanks and supported by BM-21 rocket artillery, his infantry is often videotaped using civilian vehicles for transportation. While the intention will likely be to stop all traffic between Ajdabiya and Benghazi, whether coalition aircraft are willing to fire on civilian vehicles remains to be seen. If so, they risk considerable civilian casualties. If not, they may deny the use of tanks and artillery but risk not stopping Gadhafi's infantry.

The use of airpower has been authorized, forces are being massed and Gadhafi appears to be acting as though its use is inevitable and so is moving while he can. However, the application of airpower entails civilian casualties, and it remains unclear if that application can be translated into the achievement of political objectives in Libya. So while there are many tactical questions moving forward, there is only one strategic one: How has the European-led coalition translated the UNSC authorization into military objectives, and what are the operational parameters and rules of engagement that govern them?

Reprinted from Red Alert by STRATFOR with permission. All rights reserved (c) www.stratfor.com

 

Stratfor, Red Alert

Reports emerged today March 14 that forces from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will enter Bahrain to help the Bahraini regime quell unrest. The report was published by Bahraini Alyam Newspaper (known for its close links with the ruling al-Khalifa family), and came one day after clashes occurred between Shiite protesters and police in the capital, Manama. Troops from United Arab Emirates are reportedly expected to arrive in Bahrain March 14. Al Arabiya reported that Saudi forces have already entered Bahrain, but these claims have yet to be officially confirmed by the Bahraini regime. The only announcement so far came from Nabil al-Hamar, the former information minister and adviser to the royal family, who has written on Twitter that the Arab forces arrived in Bahrain. An unnamed Saudi official also said on March 14 that more than 1,000 Saudi troops from the Shield of Island entered Bahrain on late March 13, al-Quds reported, citing AFP. Meanwhile, Bahraini State News Agency reported that The Independent Bloc (a parliamentary bloc of the Bahraini parliament) asked Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa to enforce martial law to contain the unrest.

These reports suggest foreign intervention in Bahrain, or at least the possibility that the Bahraini military is taking over the security reins. Such moves mean the regime is getting increasingly concerned with Shiite unrest, which does not seem to be subsiding despite dialogue calls from Bahraini Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. The ongoing unrest is exacerbated by the split between Bahrain's Shiite movement, which became clearer during protests on March 11. The more hardline faction of the Shiite movement, led by the Wafa and al-Haq blocs, has been increasing the tension on the streets in the hopes of stalling the talks between the Shiite al-Wefaq-led coalition's negotiations with the regime. Military intervention from GCC countries means the situation is increasingly untenable for the regime. The paradox the Bahraini regime faces is that it cannot contain the unrest while trying to kick off talks with al-Wefaq. Al-Wefaq finds itself in a difficult position, since it risks losing ground against hardliners if it appears too close to the regime while Shiite protesters are beaten by the police.

The Bahraini regime has used a military option before. On Feb 17, the military deployed immediately after a police crackdown in Manama's Pearl Roundabout and was able to calm down the situation for a while by encircling the area with tanks. If Bahrain indeed has called Saudi intervention this time, the implication is that the Bahraini military is not confident in its ability to contain the unrest now. Riyadh's decision to send forces to Manama could be taken to this end, since wider spread of Shiite unrest from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia would aggravate the already existing protests among Saudi Arabia's own Shiite population. Saudi military intervention in Bahrain is not unprecedented. Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain in 1994 when Riyadh determined that Shiite unrest threatened the al-Khalifa regime.

Regional implications of the unrest in Bahrain became more obvious when U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Manama on March 12 and urged the Bahraini regime to implement bold reforms. Gates said Iranian interference would become a greater possibility if Bahrain fails to do so. While Bahrain and Saudi Arabia seem to be coordinating to avoid that possibility, it is not without risks. Leader of hardliner al-Haq movement, Hassan Mushaima, who is believed to be increasing the Shiite unrest in Bahrain by Iranian support, said on Feb. 28 that Saudi intervention in Bahrain would give Iran the same right to intervene as well. A scenario of regional Sunni Arab forces cracking down on Shia would apply pressure on Iran to respond more overtly, but its military ability is limited and it is a very risky option given the U.S. 5th fleet is stationed in Bahrain. As of this writing, there is no sign that Iranian military is taking steps toward that end, however, the situation on the ground could escalate if Shia in Bahrain ramp up demonstrations.

Read more: Saudi Intervention in Bahrain | STRATFOR

 

Red Alert from Stratfor

Saudi police have reportedly opened gunfire on and launched stun grenades at several hundred protesters today,  March 10, who were protesting in the heavily Shiite-populated city of Qatif in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province.

The decision to employ violence in this latest crackdown comes a day before Friday prayers, after which various Saudi opposition groups were planning to rally in the streets. Unrest has been simmering in the Saudi kingdom over the past couple weeks, with mostly Sunni youth, human rights activists and intellectuals in Riyadh and Jeddah campaigning for greater political freedoms, including the call for a constitutional monarchy. A so-called "Day of Rage" of protests across the country has been called for March 11 by Facebook groups Hanyn (Nostalgia) Revolution and the Free Youth Coalition following Friday prayers.

What is most critical to Saudi Arabia, however, is Shiite-driven unrest in the country's Eastern Province. Shiite activists and clerics have become more vocal in recent weeks in expressing their dissent and have been attempting to dodge Saudi security forces. The Saudi regime has been cautious thus far, not wanting to inflame the protests with a violent crackdown but at the same time facing a growing need to demonstrate firm control.

Yet in watching Shiite unrest continue to simmer in the nearby island of Bahrain, the Saudi royals are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of Shiite uprisings cascading throughout the Persian Gulf region, playing directly into the Iranian strategic interest of destabilizing its U.S.-allied Arab neighbors. By showing a willingness to use force early, the Saudi authorities are likely hoping they will be able to deter people from joining the protests, but such actions could just as easily embolden the protesters.

There is a strong potential for clashes to break out March 11 between Saudi security forces and protesters, particularly in the vital Eastern Province. Saudi authorities have taken tough security measures in the Shiite areas of the country by deploying about 15,000 national guardsmen to thwart the planned demonstrations by attempting
to impose a curfew in critical areas. Energy speculators are already reacting to the heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf region, but unrest in cities like Qatif cuts directly to the source of the threat that is fueling market speculation: The major oil transit pipelines that supply the major oil port of Ras Tanura — the world's largest, with a capacity of 5 million barrels per day — go directly through Qatif.


This is a Red Alert from Stratfor (c) 2011 Reproduced with permission www.stratfor.com  

 

A Falklands veteran who was working on a clean water project in Libya, a Cardiff contracts manager and a couple of Yorkshire teachers has thanked the Royal Navy for their safe rescue.

Mike Wilson, 61, was among the 207 exhausted civilians delivered to Malta on Saturday by HMS Cumberland.

The former sailor from Stamshaw in Portsmouth, Hampshire made his way from Brega in the desert south of Libya to meet the British warship in Benzaghi.
He said: "I can't speak highly enough of how we were treated and cared for in getting out of Libya.

"It was a very dangerous situation which was escalating and all of us onboard were glad to be rescued."

Mr Wilson was working on the Great Man Made River project in the town of Brega. Dozens of British workers have been involved in building a pipeline from a giant underground water source to the rest of Libya.

He said: "It's a really important programme for the people and it's a real shame that we have had to come out. But we were getting reports about looting and militias and it was best to get out of there."

Mr Wilson travelled north by car past fighting factions in Libya, and spent more than 30 hours in HMS Cumberland as she crossed rough seas to Malta.

He said: "I served in HMS Broadsword which was a frigate that was in the 1982 Falklands conflict. The seas in the South Atlantic are renowned for being choppy and dramatic but this was just the same as back then.

"We were in a small Junior Rates mess room and there were several people who were ill. But it was fine given the situation we were leaving and we're very happy to be safe.

"We were in a compound of buildings back in the desert and we had looters trying to get in, armed with knives.

"It was potentially terrifying situation and it's sad for Libya, where I've been for three years."

Mr Wilson's son David is in the Royal Navy and serves on HMS Illustrious and his other son Mark is an army corporal based in Germany.

Richard Weeks, a 64-year-old contracts manager from Sully near Cardiff, who had also been working on a clean water project, had been robbed at knifepoint..

The father of two said: "We were faced with looters rushing into the property where we were holed up and there was nothing we could do. It had been getting more risky for the ten days before and there was no
prospect of it easing.

"They were armed with knives and knew they could take what they wanted, so it was better to let them get on with it. It was a very sad and terrifying situation. I've lived between Cardiff and Benghazi for 20 years and the hope is that the country can return to peace soon."

The government sent HMS Cumberland to Benghazi to collect Britons and civilians from more than 20 nations. RAF planes and commercial airliners have rescued people from the north african country.

Mr Weeks said: "The Royal Navy has really impressed me during this journey. Space and resources were obviously limited but people were kind and considerate and we were kept warm and fed."

Cumberland's Commanding Officer, Captain Steve Dainton, said: "Ten days ago the ship was off the coast of Somali which shows how flexible we can be."

Keith and Sue Rodgers are bound for Settle in North Yorkshire but said they were reluctant to leave Libya.

Mrs Rodgers, 54, who teaches primary pupils at the British School in Benghazi, said: "It was very surreal because we could hear gun fire but could still pop to the shops to get items.

"It was in the last few days that the situation really worsened and we knew we had to go. We live in a normal apartment block in the city and had never had any trouble before; the Libyan people are incredibly friendly.

"We don't know if we will go back yet, for the moment we will go back home to Yorkshire."

HMS Cumberland is continuing to offer assistance in getting people out of Libya, and the Type 42 destroyer HMS York is also nearby to help if required.

Editor's note : Both ships are destined for the scrap heap under recently announced defence cuts. But this proves that 19's not enough.

 

 

 

 

 

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivered the following statement Feb. 11: "In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody."

Suleiman's statement is the clearest indication thus far that the military has carried out a coup led by Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It is not clear whether Suleiman will remain as the civilian head of the army-led government. Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is to what extent the military elite will share power with its civilian counterparts.

At a certain point, the opposition's euphoria will subside and demands for elections will be voiced. The United States, while supportive of the military containing the unrest, also has a strategic need to see Egypt move toward a more pluralistic system.

Whether the military stays true to its commitment to hold elections on schedule in September remains to be seen. If elections are held, however, the military must have a political vehicle in place to counter opposition forces, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The fate of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) thus lies in question. Without the NDP, the regime will have effectively collapsed and the military could run into greater difficulty in running the country. While the military council will be serving as the provisional government, it will likely want to retain as much of the ruling NDP as possible and incorporate elements of the opposition to manage the transition. Sustaining its hold over power while crafting a democratic government will be the biggest challenge for the military as it tries to avoid regime change while also dealing with a potential constitutional crisis.

Read more: Red Alert: Mubarak Resigns, Military is in Charge | STRATFOR www.stratfor.com

 

By Lauren Williamson, Great North News Services reporter

(Watch a minute and a half video that includes photographs of Saturday's protest. It can be viewed via this ">Youtube link.)

This weekend protesters in London took to the streets as part of a continued display of solidarity with the Egyptian popular uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, whose rule has lasted nearly thirty years.  Though the number
of demonstrators on Saturday was only around a hundred, far fewer than in llast weekend's London demonstrations, the emotional and political fury were still intense.

"We won't give up, we won't give in, until we see our people win," chanted the emphatic crowd.

Parents with children, young students, British nationals and other foreigners joined the Egyptian diaspora as they called on London-based Egyptian representatives and the UK government to support the populist movement.  Though some sections within the protesting group talked of different paths toward Egyptian political change, everyone seemed to share the same goal of achieving a sweeping transformation.

Saturday's protest at the Egyptian Embassy on 26 South Street was closely monitored by dozens of police on foot, on bikes, and in surveillance vans, with additional forces on standby in Hyde Park. Though the noon demonstrations started off slowly, within a few hours more people joined the group. Some women bought roses to commemorate the lives lost in the clashes between security forces and protesters in Egypt. The UN estimates around 300 people have been killed and an equal or greater number injured.

"We support the [Egyptian] people because we know now what Mubarak did in supporting Saddam Hussein," said a Kurdish protester as he expressed outrage over the atrocities Hussein committed against his fellow Kurds. The man
proudly displayed a large poster with a caricature of Mubarak oozing into the sewers with rats crawling nearby.

Though the protest's organisers refused to speak to us, other members of the crowd expressed their opinions freely, requesting to remain anonymous.

"Some protest because they want Islamic law. They think that kind of system would bring peace," one Egyptian said. "But we don't want that. The people who started all this, here, we don't support the Muslim Brotherhood."

This demonstrator's statement encapsulates a pressing concern of Western governments.  There is a worry over the Muslim Brotherhood's conservative policies, which conflict with liberal democratic values.  There is further
anxiety that if the Muslim Brotherhood were to take power, Egypt's peace with Israel might be compromised.

Just thirty miles north of London, on the same day as the Embassy protests, thousands of English Defence League supporters filled the streets of Luton. Their message targeted UK lawmakers, imploring them to help stop the spread
of Sharia law and Islamic extremism within the UK, as reported by Sky News. Interestingly, the day prior in London, on 5 February, the Egyptian embassy protesters were unexpectedly joined by an extremist Muslim anti-war group
whose members made threatening statements against the UK, according to Demotix.

The extent of the fear from all sides, built upon vastly contrasting rhetoric, is dangerous. It contributes to misunderstandings of the evolving process in Egypt and may fuel further grievances of disenfranchised groups.
Many in the West equate the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda when, in fact, they are two separate organisations with very different doctrines. The connections, however, do exist. It is well known that a Muslim Brotherhood
leader, Sayyid Qtub, served as an inspirational mentor for Osama bin Laden. But the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has urgently tried to distance itself from violent jihad and gain political legitimacy to support their conservative religious policies.

Of course, political legitimacy in Egypt, which outlaws openly religious political factions, is nearly impossible to gain. Because group members have had to run for political positions as independents and operate
clandestinely, the exact number of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and sympathisers is unknown. Prominent anthropologist Scot Atran, in an article for *The International Herald Tribune*, says it may be around 20-30 percent.
This, Atran argues, should not spark such panic of a Muslim Brotherhood usurpation in Egypt.

But the Muslim Brotherhood's ideals have gained traction among the Egyptian people, as evidenced by the group's parliamentary election gains in 2005, which deeply disturbed Mubarak and the National Democratic Party.  Could it
be that the oppression of this group has actually gained them sympathisers?

In stark contrast to Atran's views, authors in *The Jerusalem Post* have been overwhelmingly alarmist about the situation; an anti-Zionist group is, to Israel, a decisive threat. The US has also indicated that it would not support extremist groups. But Atran's point is that by and large the demonstrations have been organised and sustained by a more educated and secular stratum.

Saturday's London protest provides some proof of this. The weekend demonstrations, which included protests on Downing Street on Sunday, were organised via Facebook groups, just like the initial demonstrations in Egypt
before the government shut down the internet. Many Facebook attendees have changed their profile pictures to Egyptian flags, a show of loyalty to their countrymen in this time of upheaval.  Generally  the
digital majority's chosen representation is the Egyptian flag, not the crescent and star of Islam.

"Like standing in no man's land, many Egyptians are confused, caught between feeling immense pride and great shame," wrote one London-based Egyptian, poignantly describing the ambivalence he and many of his countrymen feel at this point.

The author said it is pride for the scenes of bravery, the people's struggle for a freer life, the unity seen between Christians and Muslims.  It is shame for the eruptions of violence, the government's manipulation, and those that believe the propaganda, he argued. The author chided the notion that the protestors have caused the chaos in Egypt, an idea promoted on state-run media outlets. He equates it to blaming a rape victim for screaming for help.

There are endless accounts and opinions circulating on the web via social media platforms from Facebook to Twitter, Youtube to independent blogs. Some want Mubarak gone immediately. Others want the current administration to
maintain control of security and allow protesters to pursue their demonstrations, gaining support for a future election.

It is perhaps all too obvious that true democracy takes time to cultivate. A transitional period for Egypt seems only appropriate. But if during the transition any emerging political group, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, receives undue global condemnation, these criticisms may escalate the faction's domestic support. This political revolution is under intense international scrutiny and equally intense media coverage. At this critical juncture, decision makers in the West and the Arab world must not underestimate the potential of deeply rooted national loyalties.

---

Lauren Williamson is a London-based freelance journalist with a passion for security and development issues. She holds a Master's degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the University of London.

 

Abridged by Adam Dempsey , Research Associate, U K Defence Forum, from an article, originally published by the New York Times on January 16th 2011, written by William Yong

Iran has embarked on a sweeping program of cuts in its costly and inefficient system of subsidies on fuel and other essential goods that has put a strain on state finances and held back economic progress for years. The government's success in overcoming political obstacles to make the cuts and its willingness to risk social upheaval suggest that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have consolidated power after the internal fractures that followed his bitterly disputed re-election in 2009.

Analysts also believe that the successful implementation of the cuts could influence Iran's position at nuclear talks in Istanbul this month. "The initial success of the subsidy reform will increase the regime's confidence generally," said Cliff Kupchan, a former State Department official who is now a director at the Washington-based Eurasia Group. "This could make them more assertive in the talks. But more importantly, a confident and unified regime is better positioned to reach consensus on some initial agreement."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said recently that international sanctions had slowed Iran's nuclear program, and the restrictions do seem to have disrupted sectors of the economy, particularly banking and export-related industries. But the sanctions do not seem to be the driving force behind the subsidy cuts.

Iran's foreign exchange revenues also sank in recent years as oil prices fell from prerecession highs, creating greater budget pressures. But Tehran has long sought to cut the subsidies — even under the reformist administration of President Mohammad Khatami — and particularly for oil.

The logic is compelling: artificially low prices encourage greater consumption, leaving less oil to export for cash. And the higher oil prices rise, the greater the "opportunity costs" in lost exports. But the timing, whether for political or economic reasons, was never right to cut the subsidies.

Read more...  


Abridged by Alex Shone , Research Associate in Residence, U K Defence Forum, from an article, originally published by the New York Times on January 15th 2011, written by William J Broad, John Markoff and David E Sanger

The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel's never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal. Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran's efforts to make a bomb of its own. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive programme that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran's nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran's ability to make its first nuclear arms.

Many mysteries remain, chief among them, exactly who constructed a computer worm that appears to have several authors on several continents. In early 2008 the German company Siemens cooperated with one of the United States' premier national laboratories, in Idaho, to identify the vulnerabilities of computer controllers that the company sells to operate industrial machinery around the world — and that American intelligence agencies have identified as key equipment in Iran's enrichment facilities.

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran's nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer programme also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart. The attacks were not fully successful: Some parts of Iran's operations ground to a halt, while others survived, according to the reports of international nuclear inspectors. Nor is it clear the attacks are over: Some experts who have examined the code believe it contains the seeds for yet more versions and assaults.

Officially, neither American nor Israeli officials will even utter the name of the malicious computer programme; much less describe any role in designing it. But Israeli officials grin widely when asked about its effects. In recent days, American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity have said in interviews that they believe Iran's setbacks have been underreported. The project's political origins can be found in the last months of the Bush administration. President Obama, first briefed on the programme even before taking office, sped it up, according to officials familiar with the administration's Iran strategy. Israel has long been seeking a way to cripple Iran's capability without triggering the opprobrium, or the war, that might follow an overt military strike of the kind they conducted against nuclear facilities in Iraq in
Perhaps the most secretive part of the Stuxnet story centres on how the theory of cyber-destruction was tested on enrichment machines to make sure the malicious software did its intended job. The account starts in the Netherlands. In the 1970s, the Dutch designed a tall, thin machine for enriching uranium. As is well known, A. Q. Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist working for the Dutch, stole the design and in 1976 fled to Pakistan. The resulting machine, known as the P-1, for Pakistan's first-generation centrifuge, helped the country get the bomb. And when Dr. Khan later founded an atomic black market, he illegally sold P-1's to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

How and when Israel obtained this kind of first-generation centrifuge remains unclear, whether from Europe, or the Khan network, or by other means. But nuclear experts agree that Dimona came to hold row upon row of spinning centrifuges. By early 2004, a variety of federal and private nuclear experts assembled by the Central Intelligence Agency were calling for the United States to build a secret plant where scientists could set up the P-1's and study their vulnerabilities. The resulting plant, nuclear experts said last week, may also have played a role in Stuxnet testing.

In November, the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, broke the country's silence about the worm's impact on its enrichment programme, saying a cyber attack had caused "minor problems with some of our centrifuges." Fortunately, he added, "our experts discovered it." The most detailed portrait of the damage comes from the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington. Last month, it issued a lengthy Stuxnet report that said Iran's P-1 machines at Natanz suffered a series of failures in mid- to late 2009 that culminated in technicians taking 984 machines out of action. The report called the failures "a major problem" and identified Stuxnet as the likely culprit.

Stuxnet is not the only blow to Iran. Sanctions have hurt its effort to build more advanced (and less temperamental) centrifuges. And last January, and again in November, two scientists who were believed to be central to the nuclear program were killed in Tehran. The man widely believed to be responsible for much of Iran's programme, Mohsen Fakrizadeh, a college professor, has been hidden away by the Iranians, who know he is high on the target list. Publicly, Israeli officials make no explicit ties between Stuxnet and Iran's problems. But in recent weeks, they have given revised and surprisingly upbeat assessments of Tehran's nuclear status.

 

Dr. Saeb Erakat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, held a press conference on the 23rd August to discuss the Palestinian positions in advance of direct negotiations with Israel, set to begin on September 2 in Washington, DC.

During the press conference, Dr. Erakat highlighted the Middle East Quartet statement as a turning point in the PLO's decision to enter direct negotiations. The statement, given on August 20, 2010, noted the Madrid terms of reference, Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative as a starting point for this new round of negotiations. The PLO considers these principles be the basis for the direct talks.

Dr. Erakat went on to say that any successful peace talks must lead to a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just and agreed solution to the refugee issue, in line with UNGAR 194.

Dr. Erakat stressed the Palestinian commitment to the peace talks, yet mentioned their serious reservations regarding Israel's intentions and commitment to a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. This skepticism, he said, is a result of Israel's continued settlement activities, home demolitions and other illegal practices in the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel's commitment to a negotiated agreement and a two-state solution will be evident on the ground. If new construction tenders are issued (a plan which has already been announced by the Netanyahu government) during the negotiation process, it will be a clear affront to peace and Palestinians will be pushed out of the negotiations process.

Dr. Erakat stated that President Abbas sent a series of letters to President Obama, Lady Ashton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and President Medvedev. In these letters, President Abbas expressed his commitment to peace and demanded that the international community take a strong and unequivocal position regarding Israel's obligation to freeze all settlement activity, without exceptions. President Abbas also reiterated the PLO's position: if settlements, house demolitions and evictions continue, Palestinians will not continue negotiating.

Dr. Erakat also mentioned that even before the direct negotiations have began, Israel has already made their preconditions known – a demilitarized Palestinian state, a security buffer in the Jordan River Valley and a Palestinian recognition of a "Jewish" state. Palestinians enter these negotiations, which have been called for alongside Israel, in good faith and without preconditions and ask to have an Israeli partner willing to accept the long-established and internationally-accepted terms of reference of our negotiations.

 

The Wall Street Journal has recently reported on new evidence of Iran's effort to avoid UN imposed sanctions by acquiring high-grade metals from China, suitable for the production of ballistic missiles. In its article titled, "Fresh Clues of Iranian Nuclear Intrigue," The Wall Street Journal indicates that Iranian companies such as ABAN Commercial and Industrial Ltd. has been using intermediary firms to attain specialized copper, aluminum and titanium from China.

Read more...  

Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), announced on 7th March that he had submitted his Government's resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). The resignation will take effect immediately upon formation of the National Consensus Government and, in any event, no later than the end of this month.

According to the letter of resignation, the Government has made every effort to rescue Palestine from economic deterioration and lawlessness, which peaked in June 2007. The Government has also done all that it can to rebuild the institutions of the PNA to enable them to respond to its citizens' needs, to promote its citizens' ability to persevere, and to defend their land and very existence.

Read more...  

By George Friedman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting Washington for his first official visit with U.S. President Barack Obama. A range of issues — including the future of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Israeli-Syrian talks and Iran policy — are on the table. This is one of an endless series of meetings between U.S. presidents and Israeli prime ministers over the years, many of which concerned these same issues. Yet little has changed.

Read more...  

By George Friedman

Successful revolutions have three phases. First, a strategically located single or limited segment of society begins vocally to express resentment, asserting itself in the streets of a major city, usually the capital. This segment is joined by other segments in the city and by segments elsewhere as the demonstration spreads to other cities and becomes more assertive, disruptive and potentially violent. As resistance to the regime spreads, the regime deploys its military and security forces. These forces, drawn from resisting social segments and isolated from the rest of society, turn on the regime, and stop following the regime's orders. This is what happened to the Shah of Iran in 1979; it is also what happened in Russia in 1917 or in Romania in 1989.

Read more...  

By Laurent Rathborn, UK Defence Forum Researcher

The moral question over how Europe and America should respond to Gaddafi's attack on civilians has been at least partially answered; aircraft from multiple nations are attempting to keep the peace, and so far seem to be succeeding. What happens next, however, depends on a number of factors and the response that NATO forces will adopt in the face of ongoing violence. Unlike Iraq in the mid-90s, this no-fly-zone (NFZ) has been set up right in the middle of a civil war. Legitimised by its bid to throw off a tyrant who, like Saddam Hussein, has little compunction about murdering his own citizens, this is almost a textbook example of an uphill struggle for democratic freedom, supported by a regional body – the Arab League - which asked for outside help in restoring sanity.

Unlike Iraq, where the no-fly zone was imposed after the brunt of the fighting had stopped, this conflict is still hot. Several ways forwards for NATO forces are now possible, but will depend on Gaddafi's next moves. In the immediate term, there must be an active effort to prevent what happened at the end of the first Gulf War; a deliberate punishment of civilians by Saddam's helicopter corps. Whereas all reports indicate that Gaddafi's air forces are now no longer a factor, it will take constant monitoring to ensure that revenge attacks are not perpetrated by ground forces in the future for what NATO is doing in the present.

Libyan government forces have thousands of square miles of desert to hide in, and the language used in Resolution 1973 explicitly forbids foreign occupation. However, as noted by UK government ministers, in strict legal terms, a ground force does not have to be an occupation force. The situation as it exists at the moment is very fluid, and all efforts will be concentrated on stopping government forces punishing civilians and disabling the infrastructure that enables them to do so. Strikes to this effect have already been carried out, but NATO forces will eventually run out of military targets. Once they do, several options may present themselves. The following are listed in order of aggression:

Actively target the Libyan leadership by military means. Emplace a NATO-backed, UN-approved government;Actively target the Libyan leadership in order to place them before the International Criminal Court, which is investigating multiple human rights abuses by the regime;Quarantine the east of the country from government forces via heavy NFZ activity or troop emplacement while seeking a political settlement that may end in partition or the creation of a transitional rebel-led government. Allow the internal prosecution of former regime elements;Continue to quarantine the air and wait for the rebels to win;Retreat, and let affairs come to their own conclusion.

The last of these is unlikely, but is included for the sake of completeness in the light of complaints by the Arab League that the intervention goes too far and was not what it had envisaged when it asked for international help. There are feelings amongst some commentators that those expressing legitimate revolutionary sentiments in Libya have now been disenfranchised by NATO's actions. They miss the more immediate point that people expressing revolutionary sentiments would have been overrun by now without intervention. Whether the democratic protests and rebel action can still be called legitimate is a talking point for political philosophers; what matters now is what NATO, the democratic rebels, and the Arab League can achieve.

Read more...  



Distinct interests sparked the European involvement in Libya. The United Kingdom and France have issued vociferous calls for intervention in Libya for the past month, ultimately managing to convince the rest of Europe — with some notable exceptions — to join in military action, the Arab League to offer its initial support, and global powers China and Russia to abstain from voting at the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. President Barack Obama said March 21 that the leadership of the U.S.-European coalition against Libya would be transitioned to the European allies "in a matter of days." While the United States would retain the lead during Operation Odyssey Dawn — intended to incapacitate Tripoli's command and control, stationary air defenses and airfields — Obama explained that Odyssey Dawn would create the "conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council resolution." While Obama pointed out that the U.S.-European intervention in Libya is very much Europe's war, French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) and Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi (551) arrived in waters near Libya, giving Europeans a valuable asset from which to increase European air sortie generation rates and time on station.

Before analyzing the disparate interests of European nations in Libya, one must first take stock of this coalition in terms of its stated military and political goals.

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