The United Arab Emirates have long been an ally of the United States, which made it all the more baffling when they made the move to shutter the National Democratic Institute. Their actions came amidst the public outcry of what many Egyptians believed to be foreign interference.
The Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a conference in Saudi Arabia to address the issue publicly. Egypt’s decision to take action against multiple non-profit U.S. institutes has prompted a debate in Washington over whether foreign aid should be withheld. The Obama administration eventually permitted an arms sale between the two nations to move forward after Egypt allowed staff members of the American organizations to safely exit the country. A German organization was also targeted and forced to close its doors.
The forced closures of the organizations created tensions during Clinton’s visit to the Persian Gulf. The original purpose of the visit was to strengthen the alliance between the U.S. and the Gulf Cooperation Council and address issues concerning anti-terrorism and nuclear proliferation. However, Clinton also found herself addressing Egypt’s action against the U.S. led organizations.
Despite the dismay over Egypt’s decision against the American groups, the U.S. hopes to continue to strengthen military relations with the gulf nations. The aim is to forge a military stronghold that includes a military defense system, which would serve as the main point of defense against military aggression from Iran.
Despite amicable relations between the two nations, The U.S. has blasted the gulf nations for human rights violations. The criticisms occurred right after the gulf council dispatched military forces to quell protestors in Bahrain who were in opposition against the region’s suppressive government policy.
Organizations like the National Democratic Institute have mainly provided programs in support of women’s role in the country. At this point, it is still unclear why Egypt made the decision to shut them down.
Australia has appealed for the leniency of Saudi Arabia’s court system after a citizen of the country was sentenced to 500 lashes and one-year imprisonment. Mason Almaribe was found guilty of committing blasphemy last month while on pilgrimage in Medina. Although the court is adamant of is guilt, it is unclear of what he actually said or did to get himself arrested in the country.
Australian ambassadors have urged Saudi authorities to be lenient with Almaribe. His family has proclaimed that he has injuries on his back and he also has diabetes. Usama Al-Nugali, the spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry, has said that the Saudi Arabian court system has an appeals process that he can resort to in the matter.
Consulate officials have been in contact with Almaribe since the arrest in November and were with him during the verdict reading. Australian officials have said that they were informed of his charges. Almaribe was convicted of blasphemy and “making comments insulting the prophet Mohammed’s relatives” according to CNN.
The original sentence was for two years of imprisonment, however, this has been cut down to one year. It is not known when and where the lashings will take place. Blasphemy can be punishable by death in Saudi Arabia under Muslim law. Saudi Arabia is known for their lashings. Usually, lashings do not take place all at once. For men, lashings will usually take part every week. This can be broken up into 50 or so lashings. For women, lashings are usually broken up into sets of 20-30.
A doctor is administered before the lashings to make sure that the prisoner is fit to be lashed. The doctor usually does not look over the wounds after the lashing. The most dangerous part of the lashings could come from infections if the skin is broken during the punishment.
Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabias was recently named the kingdom’s new defense minister in a royal decree that follows the death of his older brother just last month who had been in the position for five decades.
Prince Salman has been the governor of Riyadh Province for almost 50 years, and he now controls the top-spending ministry in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom boasts one of the best-equipped militaries in all of the Middle East and has used its arms purchases to reinforce ties with Western allies like the United States, Britain and France.
Prince Salman is seen as the third most senior member of the ruling al-Saud family after his older half brother King Abdullah and his older full brother the Crown Prince Nayef.
The recent decree also divided the defense ministry from the aviation ministry and appointed Prince Khaled bin Sultan as Deputy Defense Minister. Prince Khaled had served as Assistant Defense Minister to his father, Crown Prince Sultan, who died of cancer last month in New York.
Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz was named Riyadh Governor after serving as deputy governor under Prince Salman for many years. The post of Riyadh governor is considered to be among the most important in the country and was previously held by both Crown Prince Sultan and Crown Prince Nayef. Meanwhile, millions of Muslims from around the world arrived last week in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca to celebrate the first day of Hajj.
Awad al-Qarni, a prominent Saudi cleric is paying no less than $100,000 to any Palestinian who kidnaps an Israeli soldier.
He said that he had made the offer in response to a similar reward promised by an Israeli family for anyone who catches the person who killed one of its loved ones in 1998, apropos to the exchange this month of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
On his Facebook page, Qarni wrote:
“The media reported the news of the Zionist occupiers paying a huge sum to anyone who killed the freed Palestinian prisoners… In response to those criminals, I announce to the world that I am committed to pay a $100,000 prize to any Palestinian inside Palestine who takes an Israeli soldier captive to exchange with (remaining) prisoners.”
Qarni told Al Arabiya television:
“We have also received letters from … groups from Arab countries. So the issue is not limited to Qarni, who was just the person who launched this initiative…”
Saudi Arabia, where the prophet Mohammed hails from, considers itself a defender of Palestinian rights, however, Saudi leaders have been at pains to curb increasingly radical statements by other Muslim clerics regarding the Middle East conflict.
Back in 2002, the Western-allied kingdom began a peace initiative demanding Arab recognition of Israel if Israel will give up all of the land which it occupied during the war in 1967 and Israel decides to accept a solution for Palestinian refugees.
Meanwhile, Saudi Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz‘s long-expected passing at age 87 in New York on Saturday could not have happened at a worse time for his presumed successor, Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, to take the throne after King Abdullah.
The Saudi kingdom uses a 60-year old succession system that has thus far proven a smooth transition of power.
U.S. and Israeli Jews will not be able to fly code-share flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia under Delta Air Line’s new partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines, set to commence in 2012.
Saudi Arabia, which is strictly governed by Sharia law, requires citizens of almost every country to obtain a visa. People who want to enter the country need a sponsor; women, who must be dressed in Saudi standards of modesty, are to be met at the Saudi airport by a man who will be chaperone.
Saudi Arabia bans anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport from entering the country, even if they are in transit. The kingdom has also been accused of withholding visas from travelers with Jewish-sounding names. Religious paraphernalia like bibles, or anything not related directly to Islam are to be confiscated at the airport.
The Jan. 10 agreement allows Saudi Arabian Airlines to become a member of SkyTeam in 2012 after “fulfilling all membership requirements,” according to a statement by SkyTeam. The Saudi airline is SkyTeam’s first ever member from the Middle East.
Two United States emissaries sent to meet with the Saudi King, Abdullah: Defense Secretary Robert Gates on April 6 and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, a week later, were informed that Saudi Arabia cannot forgive America for allowing former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to be overthrown by an anarchic rebellion, and for allowing Iran, a country who continues to enrich uranium, clearly on the road to the development of nuclear weapons (and funds terror activity throughout the Middle East in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon, with its proxy army, Hezbollah) to remain in power.
Last year, the Saudis even gave Israel permission to fly over the kingdom, en route to a military operation on Iran. A WikiLeaks document dated July, 20, 2007, revealed that Binyamin Netanyahu had urged then-Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to attack Iran. Netanyahu’s request was part of discussions to form a national unity government between Likud and Kadima. (PM Netanyahu, early in his term, invited Kadima leader Tzippi Livni to join forces — she declined).
This year, Saudi Arabia is resolute in leading the Gulf region to a confrontation with Iran – including military action if necessary in a move to defend the oil emirates against Iranian conspiracies. On Monday, April 18, the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, requested that the United Nations Security Council to take action for stopping Iran’s “provocative interference in their countries’ domestic affairs.” This “flagrant interference” posed a “grave security to, and risked flaring up sectarian strike, in the GCC countries.”
The resolution continued:
“The GCC will not hesitate to adopt whatever measures and policies they deem necessary vis-à-vis the foreign interferences in their internal affairs”.
The Saudis are positive their combined missile, air force and naval strength is capable of inflicting damage on mainland Iran.
Then, Saturday, April 16, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Pakistani chargé d’affaires to issue a caveat against allowing Saud Arabia and Bahrain to continue conscripting Pakistani military personnel. Tehran claims that by offering exorbitant paychecks, Riyadh raised 1,000 Pakistani recruits for its military operation in support of the Bahraini king and another 1,500 are on their way to the Gulf.
Saudi ground-to-ground and anti-air missiles have been transferred to the Bahrain capital of Manama and naval units are positioned in that country’s harbor.
Monday, April 18, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa announced that Saudi and allied GCC troops would remain in the kingdom of Bahrain until Iran no longer poses a menace. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, also claims the spreading revolt against his regime, now entering its second month, was instigated from Riyadh.
But Iran’s problems do not stop there. On April 11-12, the Arabs of Ahwaz in the western Iranian province of Khuzestan staged a two-day uprising against the Ahmadinejad regime. Government forces murdered some 15 demonstrators before cancelling incoming flights, blocking roads to the town and cutting off telephone and Internet communications.
Last Saturday, Iran urged Egyptian officials, now running that country in a caretaker capacity, to snub the U.S., who sided, eventually, with the coup. Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, “Cairo should resist the opposition from the United States and Israel, and take independant decision to bring the two Islamic countries closer together.”
Earlier last week Reuters and Iran’s Press TV reported Iran had appointed an ambassador to Egypt for the first time in 30 years, as a post-Mubarak Egypt will see diplomatic ties restored between the two countries.
As if you did not realize, dear OneJerusalem.com readers, Iran’s hand in assisting the grizzly murderer, Bashir al-Assad of Syria, read this.
Ok, Ok, the WikiLeaks documents have been released.
Israel should hardly feel incriminated. Discriminated against, perhaps; but not incriminated. Not unless you subscribe to the dangerous Iranian world-view, which much of the world agrees, should have been secured and unplugged, years ago.
The Jewish Country is not guilty of selling the organs of Lebanese killed in the 2006 war. Nor are we using the blood of Palestinian children to bake matzah. Nor are we using the blood of Swedish children to bake matzah. Nor is the Israeli government guilty of selling crack to inner-city Americans. Nor is the IDF guilty of murdering Sudanese refugees at the Egyptian border. No, the Mossad was not behind 9/11.
Among the WikiLeaks disclosures was an Israeli plan to coordinate its 2008 invasion of Gaza with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; as well as details of Israel’s covert ties with governments in the United Arab Emirates.
What else….what else?
While Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri was concluding his first diplomatic visit in Iran, and supporting the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, the New York Times published contents of a cable quoting Hariri’s 2006 conversation with a U.S. diplomat, in Beirut. The attack on “Iraq was unnecessary,” said Hariri, but an attack on “Iran is necessary.” The U.S., he said, “must be willing to go all the way” to stop Iran.
Hardly a week after Syria’s president, Basher Assad, had promised to stop supplying Hezbollah in Lebanon with weapons, a cable from WikiLeaks reports that Damascus actually increased its regular shipments of sophisticated missiles. The kicker is that America had this information, but did not warn Israel, doubtless the would-be victim of any usage of these arms.
Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Wikileaks release a “Satanic conspiracy.”
In a meeting with the commander of the U.S. Central Command, General John Abizaid, military leaders from the United Arab Emirates assessed the Iranian as “crazy.” Stir crazy.
Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Zayed, urged the U.S. to “take action” against Iran within a year.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah repeatedly urged Washington to attack Iran, to “cut off the head of the snake.” as he phrased it. “May God prevent us from falling victim to their evil…We have had correct relations over the years, but the bottom line is that they cannot be trusted.”
And a senior Jordanian official warned the Americans to, “bomb Iran or you will have to learn to live with its bomb.”
If The World Is Blaming Iran, Why Is Obama Blaming Israel?
The Knesset will not hold a debate on WikiLeaks, as there are more pressing matters at hand. Israel should, however, be wary of any breach of confidentiality, exposed by WikiLeaks. But as long as the world is in agreement that the source of the conflict is indeed, Tehran, Israel should also be wary of any information, the U.S. may harbor, for instance Syria’s insistent supplying of arms to Hezbollah. This leaves America’s adamant attitude about freezing Jewish construction in the region very much in question.
In the video below, Speaker of the Knesset, Danny Danon explains to Fox News’ Mike Huckabee, his frustration with Obama’s attitude toward the Jewish State; namely his pressure to freeze settlement building, in lieu of an attack on Iran, say; while the American President continues to fumble his own homeland security – not learning a valuable, how-to, from his snubbed Israeli friends.
I found it peculiar when, last month, Saudi Arabia purchased, under the aegis of the Obama administration, 84 Boeing Co. F-15 fighter jets, attack helicopters and helicopters made by United Technologies Corp. (70 Apaches, 72 Black Hawks and 36 Little Birds), satellite-guided bombs and an advanced radar from Raytheon Co..
But one should not be too shocked: according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. sold, roughly, a combined $37 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait between 2005 and 2009.
Israel has historically been apprehensive about U.S. military sales in the Arab world, especially to Saudi Arabia who, while opposed to the current Ayatolla, Ahmadinejad regime, funds terror and does not recognize the Jewish State; ergo, Israel not showing any opposition, let alone a tantrum over the massive deal is a little strange; especially given that last August, the Obama administration cut funding for Israel’s Arrow 3 program missile defense system (more powerful than the Iron Dome), a project totaling just $108.8m out of the American wallet.
Last week, the Washington Post reported:
“According to the military, Boeing – maker of the F-15, the Apaches and the Little Birds – has estimated that the purchase would involve 77,000 direct and indirect jobs in 44 states. Some of those would be jobs that would be kept, but an unspecified number of new jobs would also be generated, officials said.”
“Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, said the overseas weapons market has become more active in recent years. Last year, the U.S. exported $3.2 billion in combat aircraft overseas, up from $2.4 billion in 2008. Among the biggest buyers in 2009 were Singapore for $1 billion worth of F-15 aircraft; Greece and Poland, receiving $1.9 billion worth of F-16s; and Australia, receiving $200 million worth of F-18s.”
The word on the street was that America contacted Israel first, (about the recent Saudi sale) who gave the thumbs up. Spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Jonathan Peled said that while the Jewish Country is not “thrilled” by the proposal, it has not requested such actions as congressional hearings or assurances.
But if Israel does not have an EVEN WORSE taste in its mouth from the sale, some American politicians do. As far as domestic opposition to the deal, an article in Bloomberg News reported that a letter was put into circulation on the hill, for the signature of lawmakers. Composed by top Democrat and Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the letter stresses the danger of the deal – though stops short at pleading the need to nullify the $60 billion transaction.
The letter was written by California Democrat Howard Berman and Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and is addressed to Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary, Robert Gates.
The lawmakers raise “the potential repercussions for our friends and for our own forces in the region in the event of political change in Saudi Arabia,” saying:
“We have serious concerns about the nature of Saudi involvement in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, particularly since the Saudis have failed to take steps toward normalization of relations with Israel or to augment their financial support to the Palestinian Authority.”
The letter inquires how thoroughly the Pentagon and the State Department have considered the sale’s effect on U.S. policies in the Middle East, specifically the righteous goal of securing Israel’s “qualitative military edge” over its neighbors; a winning goal for American security too.
The two lawmakers cite a report by the Government Accountability Office, concluding the Departments of State and Defense:
“Did not consistently document how arms transfers to gulf countries advanced U.S. foreign policy and national security goals.”
The Saudi F-15 package reportedly does not include arms that could pose a serious threat, like weapons which can be fired from long distances, threatening thereby little Israel. The arrival of F-15s to Saudi Arabia would not begin until 2015, the same year Israel is slated to commence the reception of F-35s.
At the time the deal was announced, Andrew Shapiro of the U.S. State Department said the sale would:
“Protect (Saudi) security in a dangerous neighborhood against legitimate security threats.”
Ros-Lehtinen and Berman, in the letter, ask what Saudi Arabia has done to quell Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. The lawmakers cite potential Saudi “leverage in the international oil market to diminish Iran’s oil revenue” as well as actions to stem financing for terrorism or reduce the spread of nuclear-weapons technology.
Congress has until November 20th to prevent the sale before the Defense Department and companies proceed with more detailed talks on contracts.
Other Notes of Interest:
And last month, number two in the House Republican leadership, Eric Cantor of Virginia proposed that when the GOP wins control of the House – and now they have – they should move Israel’s financial aid package and add it to the Pentagon’s budget.
Writes C. Hart of American Thinker:
“House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, a staunch supporter of Israel, will become House Majority Leader in the next Congress. He will be holding the highest ranking post a Jew has ever held in Congress. His actions will, most likely, focus on giving less U.S. military support to Saudi Arabia. The United States recently approved $60 billion in weapons sales to the Saudis, which only hinders Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East over Arab States. The sale is expected to be the largest in U.S. history if all purchases are made by Saudi Arabia. Ros-Lehtinen has already spoken out against the sale.”
“According to The Israel Project (TIP), Cantor has also cosponsored legislation that would end U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops its culture of hate toward Israel. He also wants to see an end to unauthorized WAQF excavations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which are encouraged and supported by the Palestinian Authority.”
The Bibi and Biden Show:
Meanwhile, Israel PM, Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud party is in America this week. First, D.C., to recall the nostalgic stench of a Republican majority House and then New York for a corned beef on rye at Katz’s Deli.
A source who was present at the meeting in Washington reported that Bibi told Biden:
“The only way to ensure that Iran will not go nuclear is to create a credible threat of military action against it if it doesn’t cease its race for a nuclear weapon…The economic sanctions are making it difficult for Iran, but there is no sign that the Ayatollah regime plans to stop its nuclear program because of them.”
Bibi will not be meeting with the American president this time, who is currently abroad on diplomatic duties.
Thanks Karin! This was published a couple of days ago:
Mossad head Meir Dagan assured Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Saudi Arabia would allow IAF jets to fly over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Sunday Times reported.
This was published now: Saudi Arabia Denies Reports Regarding Israeli Use of Its Airspace
WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today issued the following statement in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia totally and categorically denies accounts published by a British newspaper regarding contacts with Israel or permission to use Saudi airspace for any hostile activities. The Kingdom is greatly puzzled by the publication of this false information, which directly contradicts the established, firm and clear policies of the Saudi government regarding relations with the occupying government of Israel and the Kingdom’s prohibition against the use of its territories or airspace for aggression against another nation.”
This is distributed by Qorvis Communications, LLC on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Source: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
CONTACT: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Information Office, Washington,
So that’s it – we’re back to using Syria and Iraq…
The Iraninan delegation may have walked out when Israeli President Shimon Peres addressed the delegates to the International Interfaith Conference being held in Kazakhstan on Wednesday; but the Saudi delegates didn’t, and they head the Israeli President invite His Majesty King Abdullah to meet with him and other Israeli officials in Jerusalem or in Riyadh or to travel back to Kazakhstan in order to talk about peace between Israel and it’s Arab neighbors.
Speaking before the 150 delegate audience Peres told them “there was time when we (the Israeli delegation) would be the only Middle Eastern ones present in such a conference. But times have changed and together with all the Arab leaders, we can realize your vision, our vision and the vision of all the leaders and all the believers in our shared goal of peace and justice”.
Peres called upon the delegates attending the conference to separate themselves between religion and terror and to castigate those who use the practice of religion to “kill in the name of God”. He then focused hid attention towards the Iranian delegation by telling them “Your country organizes religion to carry out violent acts, supposedly in God’s name, towards your own people – acts that are seen to be in worst criminal manner against mankind and against the laws of God.”
Peres immediately returned to Israel, following his presence at the conference, and his meetings with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in what was a historical first meeting between an Israeli Head of State and the leaders of two Muslim countries: Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
Peres’ presence at the conference is seen as an important step forward in improving relations between Israel and countries who in the past have not had very friendly relations with the Jewish state. Whether or not the Saudi king takes Peres up on his invite is up to speculation, as Saudi Arabia is one or strictest Islamic countries in the world, where women have far less status and individual rights than those living in most other Muslim countries – including Iran. The Saudi royal family is also under intense pressure from both Iran and from terror groups like Al Qaeda, who’s leader Usama bin Ladin came from there and still has many relatives still residing in the Kingdom.
But the offer was made, and it may not be too far fetched to one day see a Saudi king and his entourage praying in the Al Aqsa Mosque.