Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

UAE to file complaint over Qatar fighter jets intercept of civilian flights: Civil Aviation Authority chief

January 16, 2018

The UAE has said it will file a complaint after two passenger jets were intercepted by Qatar fighter jets — a claim Doha denies. (AFP)
A UAE Civil Aviation Authority official has said they are considering rerouting UAE aircraft to avoid future intercepts involving Qatari fighter jets.
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Meanwhile the UAE will file a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization after Qatari jets came within little more than three kilometers of Emirati passenger flights, Saif Al-Suwaidi, head of the general civil aviation authority said on Tuesday.
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“Today we will file our complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organization about the two serious incidents, along with the evidence that we’ve gathered, and ask for the intervention of the council to stop Qatar from repeating the act,” he said.
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Doha denies the allegations.
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Suwaidi added that the UAE was also looking at rerouting flights to Bahrain to avoid Qatari airspace.
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“We are now studying changing the route to another one which is very far from Qatar,” Suwaidi added.
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“However that will take some time as we have to reach an agreement with Bahrain.”

(With AFP)

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UAE says Qatari jets intercepted civilians flights, Doha denies

January 15, 2018

 

(Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)
DUBAI: The UAE on Monday said Qatari fighter jets had twice intercepted civilian passenger planes en route to Bahrain in a “clear violation of international law.”
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In the first incident the UAE General Authority of Civil Aviation  (GCAA) received a message from one of the UAE’s national carriers on Monday morning that one of its aircraft on a flight to Manama on a normal route had been intercepted by Qatari fighters.
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The second incident also involved a civilian aircraft during a flight to Bahrain International Airport on a regular scheduled and well-known journey. But the WAM report did not name the airline involved or give further details of the incident.
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The report added that the flight was a “regular, scheduled service, on a known flight-path that met all the required and internationally recognized approvals and permits.”
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“Qatari fighter jets intercepted an Emirati civilian aircraft during a routine flight to Manama in a flagrant threat to civil aviation safety and in a clear violation of international law,” the GCAA said in a statement published by the state news agency WAM. Arab News tried contacting the GCAA but received no response as well as the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority but also did not get a response.
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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain said in a statement on its website that it strongly condemned the Qatar fighter aircraft intercepting a civilian aircraft from the UAE during its normal flight this morning. The statement said: “It is a clear violation of the relevant international conventions and laws, in particular those of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the provisions of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and its amendments of 1944.
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“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that this rejected hostile behavior by Qatar against civil aircrafts has become frequent in recent times and jeopardizes the safety of civil aviation and poses a threat to the lives of civilians.
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“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses the Kingdom of Bahrain’s full support for the UAE and its backing for all of its measures to maintain its security and stability, to stop these violations and to repel these breaches by the State of Qatar.”
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But a Qatari foreign ministry official later denied the claim according to news reports.
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And Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, the director of Qatar’s government communications office, said on his official Twitter account that the charge was “completely untrue.”
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On Friday, Qatar filed a complaint with the United Nations about an alleged violation of its airspace in December by an Emirati military aircraft.
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Qatari authorities said the violation on Dec. 21, which the UAE denied, lasted one minute.
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The UAE is home to two major national carriers, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Dubai-based Emirates. But the Associated Press said that both airlines declined to comment.
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Image result for Etihad airline, photos
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US Air Force Central Command, which is based at the sprawling Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, also did not immediately have any report about any incident involving a commercial aircraft in the region, said Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, an Air Force spokesman – adding that the US did not routinely monitor flights and operations of the Qatari airforce.
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The Qatar crisis began June 5 with Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE cutting off Doha’s land, sea and air routes over its alleged support of extremists and close ties with Iran. Qatar has long denied funding extremists. It recently restored full diplomatic relations with Iran.
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(With AP, AFP and Reuters)
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UAE says Qatari fighter jets ‘intercept’ passenger plane

January 15, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | The United Arab Emirates accused Qatari fighter jets of “intercepting” a passenger plane en route to Bahrain, in an ongoing row over alleged airspace violations

ABU DHABI (AFP) – The United Arab Emirates accused Qatari fighter jets of “intercepting” a passenger plane en route to Bahrain on Monday, in an ongoing row over alleged airspace violations.”Qatari fighter jets intercept an Emirati civilian aircraft during a routine flight to Manama in a flagrant threat to civil aviation safety and in a clear violation of international law,” the UAE General Authority of Civil Aviation said.

“This is a routine flight that has all the required paperwork,” it said in a statement published by the state news agency.

Four UAE-based airlines — Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia — operate flights to Bahrain.

Spokespersons for the airlines contacted by AFP could not immediately confirm or deny the news.

The United Arab Emirates is one of four Arab states that cut all relations with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting Islamist extremists and of being close to Shiite Iran. Doha denies the accusations.

No further details were immediately available.

UAE minister: Qatar ‘conspired against’ Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah

January 11, 2018

UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash said that Doha chose to be isolated and argued its denials of supporting extremism and terrorism is a media tactic. (Reuters)
DUBAI: The UAE’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Qatar must change its policies that have damaged both itself and the region, adding that Doha had “conspired against” the late Saudi King Abdullah.
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In a series of tweets, Anwar Gargash said that Doha chose to be isolated and argued its denials of supporting extremism and terrorism is a media tactic.
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The minister stated that Egyptian Islamic scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi called for the targeting of the UAE from Qatari territory and was part of the incitement of the 2014 GCC diplomatic crisis.
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“We have been used to the duality of the Qatari political discourse. For it is Qatar that hosted Al-Qaeda which bombed Iraq and supported Hamas and created warm relations with Israel,” he tweeted. “And it communicated with Saudi Arabia while it conspired against King Abdullah.”
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Gargash stated that the political solution called for by the four countries that cut ties with Qatar — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — clearly demands a framework for negotiations.
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“The Qatari crisis cannot be solved without changing its orientation that supports extremism, terrorism and conspiracy against its neighbors and countries in the region,” he said.
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The foreign minister pointed out that Qatar’s crisis and isolation continue, stating that the country’s leadership “is confused and does not wish to address the core issue.”
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Qatar was a “great neighbor” prior to 1995, he added.
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“The solution is for them to change the orientations that have hurt Qatar, damaged it and isolated it from its neighbors,” Gargash added.
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Bahrainis urged not to travel to Iran

January 1, 2018

It has also advised citizens already in the country to leave immediately for their safety

Published: 21:11 January 1, 2018

WAM

Dubai: Bahrain on Monday urged its citizens to avoid travelling to Iran under any condition and advised those already in the country to leave immediately for their safety.

“Due to the unrest and unstable security conditions, the foreign ministry asks citizens currently  in Iran to leave immediately and exercise extreme caution,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrainis-urged-not-to-travel-to-iran-1.2150301

Support the thousands of protesters risking their lives in Iran

December 31, 2017

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh | 

Iran is experiencing a political earthquake. The fault lines are clear: On the one side, the theocratic regime and its suppressive forces; on the other, the Iranian people. At least two dozen cities across the country witnessed large-scale demonstrations on Friday and Saturday against a regime that has been sorely incapable of addressing the country’s economic and political demands. The protests have now grown over 50 cities and several protesters have been shot dead as security forces opened fire.

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“Death to the dictator” is once again echoing among Iran’s struggling population, mainly youths and women. For months, thousands of people have been protesting in various quarters, demanding justice for the plundering of their wealth by institutions tied to the “supreme leader” and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. However, the scale and political orientation of the Dec. 29 and 30 protests were striking and remarkable.

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“The people live like beggars/(Khamenei) lives like a God,” thousands of demonstrators chanted in several towns on Dec. 30.

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One of the most interesting chants in Tehran’s protests Sunday was “Reformists, hard-liner, game is over now,” reflecting the desire by Iranians for regime change.

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On Thursday, Iran’s second-largest city, Mashhad, saw the spark of the protests. Several thousand people began their demonstrations by complaining about rising commodity prices (in some cases, food prices have seen a 20-30 percent hike in the last week alone).

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Quickly, however, the protests were reoriented toward the regime’s senior officials, including President Hassan Rouhani and supreme leader Ali Khamenei: “Death to Rouhani,” “Death to Khamenei,” and “Death to the dictator,” the protesters chanted.

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Then on Friday, the cities of Kermanshah, Shiraz, Rasht, Qom, Hamedan, Ahvaz, Isfahan, Zahedan, Qazvin, and Sari rose up, joined by a large number of smaller towns. There are several noteworthy characteristics about what has been reported thus far.

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First, the political nature of the protests has been made clear from the start, although the underlying impetus was the economic situation and particularly the vast financial corruption permeating the regime.
Khamenei, as the main figure of the theocracy, has been a permanent fixture in the protesters’ slogans. And protesters continue to call on the regime to “Free all political prisoners.”

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Second, the regime’s main players were quick to point out that there is a leading opposition movement that can lead the protests toward their final destination: the regime’s downfall.

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During at least seven Friday prayer sessions across Iran, senior mullahs pointed the finger at the opposition and other foreign governments.

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The state security and anti-riot forces were out in full force, using water cannons to disperse crowds and drawing chants of “Shame on you” from crowds who refused to give up any ground.

The fearlessness, courage and leading role of women has been exceptional. Dozens of video clips circulating on social media attest to this. In one case, a woman stands in front of security forces and shouts “Death to Khamenei,” an offense that could carry the death penalty.

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Trump must reach out to the Iranians paying the ultimate price to bring down a common enemy.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

The third prominent characteristic of the recent rallies is that the protesters are clearly drawing a line between the Iranian people’s desired policies and those actually carried out by Tehran. These include the regime’s disastrous regional policies, including its wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

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In many cities, including Zahedan, young demonstrators, in a country where unemployment is running rampant, chanted: “Leave Syria alone, think about us instead.”

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Protesters in the city of Qom, the home of the main religious seminary, chanted “Death to Hezbollah.” Others chanted “Forget Gaza, forget Lebanon; I’d give my life for Iran.”
All political and economic indications are that protests in Iran will continue to grow.

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Just eight years earlier, the people of Iran rose up in their millions against the dictatorship. The US administration at the time stayed abhorrently silent, provoking people on the streets to chant, “Obama, Obama, are you with them [mullahs] or with us?”

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Washington did not offer support, enabling the mullahs to brutally crushed the demonstrations with impunity. The mullahs were even rewarded with a flawed nuclear deal and billions of dollars.

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In a statement after the recent demonstrations, the US State Department said: “On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson testified to Congress that he supports ‘those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.’ The secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people.”

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It is time for the administration of US President Donald Trump to go beyond words, however, and to actively reach out.

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President Trump should lend moral support to millions of Iranians who are paying the ultimate price to bring down a common enemy: The evil dictatorship in Iran that is bent on nuclear weapons and regional domination. They need us just as much as we need them.

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• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1217251

Iran’s winter of discontent

December 31, 2017

Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg | 

It is too early to determine where Iran’s protests are going: To change the regime or reform it. Are they the beginning of a revolution against the regime or a mere adjustment in its policies? Either way, the people of Iran and the region as a whole could benefit from a change in Iran’s policy of meddling in its neighbors’ affairs while neglecting the needs of its own citizens.

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The mass protests started on Thursday and have quickly become the largest since the “Green Revolution” of 2009. Last week’s events started with large demonstrations in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city and a conservative stronghold. Within three days, they had spread to towns all over Iran, such as Ahvaz, Amol, Arak, Ardabil, Bandar Abbas, Dorud, Esfahan, Gorgan, Hamedan, Kashan, Kashmar, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorramabad, Neyshabur, Qazvin, Qom, Rasht, Sari, Shahinshahr, Shahrekord, Shahroud, Shiraz, Urmia, Yazd, Zanjan, Zahedan and finally to Tehran; in other words, all over Iran’s political, ethnic and regional landscape.

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Observers have made comparisons between these recent protests and the “Green Revolution” protests against the 2009 Iranian presidential election results. Those protests, which started in June 2009 and continued into 2010, were spurred by the disputed re-election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against reform candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and others. The official election results claimed that Ahmadinejad had won 63 percent of the vote, despite widespread irregularities and projections that the opposition candidates would win larger shares.

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The 2009-10 protests were suppressed through the use of excessive force and widespread atrocities committed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the paramilitary Basij. The Green movement was symbolized by Neda Agha-Soltan, a young woman who was shot dead in broad daylight and whose last moments were captured by cameras and broadcast the world over.

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While similar in size, the recent wave of protests appear to be markedly different from those in 2009-10, which were organized by supporters of opposition candidates who did not question the overall legitimacy of the Iranian regime at the time, but questioned election results. By contrast, the recent demonstrations appear to be directed against the entire establishment, including the Supreme Leader and his military and security arms, such as the IRGC and Basij. The quick spread of the protests to almost every corner of the country is another marked difference.

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Initially, they appeared focused on economic complaints, such as unemployment and inflation, with chants against Rouhani and his administration. Very quickly, they started to attack the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and the IRGC, two previously untouchable institutions. Also unprecedented was the explicit and widespread criticism targeting Iran’s involvement in Syria and Lebanon, citing Lebanese Hezbollah by name — a hitherto hallowed regional proxy for Iran.

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In fact, however, the economic and political aspects of the protests are closely linked. The economic suffering of ordinary citizens is a direct result of the regime’s external policies and costly adventures throughout the region and beyond.

Demonstrations throughout the country appear to be directed against the entire establishment, including the Supreme Leader and his military and security arms — marking them out as different from the Green Revolution of 2009.

Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg

Iranian citizens certainly read the news and visit neighboring countries. They need to go no further than their brothers across the Gulf to notice that Iranians have gotten a short shrift, especially in economic terms, since 1979, the year of the Iranian Revolution. For example, the United Arab Emirates, the GCC country with which Iranians are most familiar, has managed to produce an economic miracle over the last four decades, while Iran has retreated on almost every economic and social front.

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With only about one-ninth of Iran’s population, the UAE’s economy has surpassed that of its near neighbor. In 1979, Iran’s GDP at $90 billion was almost three times that of the UAE, which at the time was around $31 billion. Today, UAE GDP has jumped to $407 billion, ahead of Iran’s GDP of $368 billion in goods and services. UAE per capita GDP of $46,000 dollars is more than 10 times that of Iran’s $4,500. Social indicators have also suffered in Iran over the past decades: Its rank in life expectancy, for example, has declined from 129th to 153rd in the world.

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Iran is one of the richest countries in the region in terms of resources, but it has failed to direct those riches toward the welfare of its people. Iran is believed to hold the fourth-largest oil reserves and the second-largest gas reserves in the world. And, with its large population and educated labor force, it could have harnessed those resources as their neighbors have done with fewer resources.

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Instead, the Iranian regime has directed its resources and its people’s energies into constructing a complicated web of militias and terror groups to wreak havoc in the region. It funds Hezbollah of Lebanon and dozens of sectarian-based groups from Pakistan to Syria to Yemen. It finances, arms and trains terrorists from Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, among others. Instead of providing economic assistance or humanitarian aid to vulnerable communities, Iran provides them with weapons.

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Iran’s adventurism has not been limited to the Gulf region. Its agents have spread violence in many parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, as well as North and South America.

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Iran is also developing its ballistic missile program at a rate rivalled only by North Korea, which poses a serious threat to regional peace and security. It has also drained more resources that should have been spent on improving the living conditions of its citizens.

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The cost of Iran’s adventures is not lost on ordinary Iranians. With these protests, they are demanding accountability and reform. And if reform does not come soon, their demands for a regime change could get louder.

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• Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg is a columnist for Arab News. He can be reached by email: aluwaisheg@gmail.com. Twitter: @abuhamad1

Iran Spends Billions on Proxy Wars Throughout the Mideast. Here’s Where Its Money Is Going

December 31, 2017

The debate taking place behind closed doors in Tehran seems to have spilled out onto the streets: whether to save the money for the stagnant economy at home

By Anshel Pfeffer Dec 31, 2017 4:57 PM
Haaretz

In this photo taken by a person not employed by AP and obtained outside Iran, university students protest at Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by riot police, December 30, 2017.

In this photo taken by a person not employed by AP and obtained outside Iran, university students protest at Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by riot police, December 30, 2017. AP

The protest wave began, according to Iranian sources, in the city of Mashad, and was originally organized by hard-line clerics – rivals of President Hassan Rohani who sought to capitalize on the unrest over unemployment and high prices. If this was indeed the motivation, it seems to have backfired, with protests quickly spreading to dozens of cities across Iran and now targeting not only the relatively “moderate” Rohani government but the more hard-line establishment around Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies, including the Revolutionary Guards.

One of the many slogans being heard at the protests is “No Gaza, No Lebanon, No Syria, My life for Iran!” – referring apparently to the billions Tehran has spent on its allies across the region, instead of investing in the stagnant economy at home.

It’s ironic that the protests, which were planned by Rohani’s hard-line rivals to pressure him, have backfired in such a way. In recent months, one of the major behind-the-scenes debates in the Iranian establishment has been whether to make a further major investment in Syria. As the Syrian civil war seems to be dying down, the Revolutionary Guards have sought to capitalize on the money they spent there and entrench their presence by building a permanent air base and docking facilities on the Mediterranean coast. This would mean spending at least hundreds of millions more, if not billions, on construction.

According to Western intelligence sources, the factions close to Rohani are against spending this money they say is needed for improving infrastructure and providing jobs at home. The debate taking place behind closed doors in Tehran seems to have spilled out onto the streets of Iran’s cities.

Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula

Iran’s influence in the Middle East — Haaretz
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The extent of Iran’s funding for its allies and proxies in the region is impossible to assess accurately, in part because much of the funding comes in the form of arms and equipment, as well as the transport of fighters and supplies in aircraft operated by Iranian state-owned airlines. Iran extends invaluable support to its allies also through the services of its officers as military advisers and by setting up Shi’ite militias that it trains and deploys across the region.

Iran in recent years has invested billions in propping up its allies in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, but above all, since 2011, it has poured money in keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power.

Iran’s investment in the Assad regime over the past six and a half years has come in various forms and is difficult to quantify. Iranian state-owned banks set up credit lines for the Syrian government of $3.6 billion in 2013 and $1 billion in 2015 to let the regime buy oil and other goods from Iran.

The $4.6 billion does not include arms supplies, arriving daily in Iranian cargo aircraft at the Damascus airport, the deployment of thousands of military “advisers” of both Iran’s army and Revolutionary Guards – a thousand of whom are estimated to have been killed in action – and the much larger force of Shi’ite militias, mainly fighters from Afghanistan that Iran has organized and funded. Around 50,000 of these militia members have fought in Syria. They earn $300 a month, and Iran also pays for their weapons, travel and sustenance. In other words, Iran has spent billions more annually on the Assad regime over the last six years.

Around 100,000 Iranian-backed militia fighters have been operating in Iraq in recent years, both fighting the Islamic State and furthering Iran’s interests in neighboring territory. Though part of the funding for these militias comes also from Iraqi sources, the lion’s share of their pay and weaponry is financed by Tehran.

The Hezbollah model

Of course, of all the Shi’ite militias in the region, the one that has gained the most from Iran’s largesse is Hezbollah. Estimates of Iran’s funding for the Lebanese group reach anywhere from $60 million to $1 billion a year. It comes in the form of direct financial support, massive quantities of both basic conventional arms and advanced weapons systems, training facilities in Iran, and investment in construction projects in Lebanon to boost Iran and Hezbollah’s standing in the country.

The model that Iran pioneered in Lebanon from the mid-1980s, of training and arming Hezbollah as its local proxy, has been replicated with anti-government Shi’ite underground groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and militias in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003 and the Houthis in Yemen since at least 2015. In their case, the aid has come in the shape of long-range missiles as well, which the Houthis have been firing at Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh.

Not only Shi’ite groups have received arms and funds. Israeli intelligence has assessed the financial support to Islamic groups in Gaza at around $100 million annually, though this decreased since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, when Hamas, which was close to the Sunni rebel groups in Syria, temporarily cut its ties with Iran and the Assad regime. Over the last two years, those ties have been reestablished and the financial support for Hamas is now at around $50 million, while the more radical Islamic Jihad, which did not cut ties with Tehran, is receiving around $70 million.

The Revolutionary Guards, who have supervised these investments, have tried to make at least some of them profitable. Syria used much of the credit to pay for Iranian oil and gas, which Iran had no customers for when it was under sanctions and support for the Assad regime was given in part in return for mining rights in Syria and the lease of land for agriculture. But it will take time, probably years, until matters in Syria have calmed sufficiently for the Iranians to see any profits.

The Iranian nuclear deal, which ended most of the sanctions on Iran, has unfrozen tens of billions of dollars that have reached the regime’s coffers but have yet to be translated into prosperity trickling down to the Iranian people. The hard-liners’ attempt last week to channel the frustration with Rohani, whose government led the nuclear talks, seems to have resulted in an outburst of anger also at the hard-liners’ investment of billions that Rohani was less in favor of.

Either way, it could be bad news for both rival sections of the Iranian leadership. Once you push people out on the street, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to direct their fury.

Anshel Pfeffer
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/.premium-1.832218

Related:

Bahrain sentences 10 Shiites for life for making bombs

December 27, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | A general view of Manama, the capital of Shiite-majority but Sunni-ruled Bahrain

DUBAI (AFP) – A Bahrain court on Wednesday sentenced 10 Shiites to life in jail for forming “terror” groups and manufacturing explosives and bombs, a judicial source said.The court, whose ruling can be appealed, also sentenced another defendant to 10 years. All were stripped of their Bahraini citizenship, the source told AFP.

Bahrain, a tiny but strategic Gulf state, has been gripped by unrest for years as its Sunni royal family has resisted demands from its Shiite majority for a constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister.

The main suspect, Murtadha al-Sendi, who was sentenced to death on Monday, formed two “terror” groups, one of which manufactured explosives and bombs and stored them in hideouts, the judicial source said.

The second group received arms and explosives smuggled from Iran by sea and hid them, the source added.

Seven of the defendants were arrested when security forces broke up the two cells and recovered large quantities of arms and explosives.

Another four suspects are still at large.

The court heard that at least four of the accused were trained in the use of arms and manufacturing explosives in Iran and Iraq.

On Monday, Bahrain’s top military court sentenced six Shiites to death and seven to seven years in prison for allegedly plotting to assassinate the country’s armed forces chief.

It also revoked their citizenship.

Israel is surrounded by dangerous enemies, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot says — Sees two Shi’ite crescents

December 26, 2017

Israel is surrounded by dangerous enemies that require the military to act judiciously and creatively, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said.

“The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are clearly superior to its enemies, but we are aware of the real danger of proliferation on several fronts which are explosive and require us to act judiciously and creatively, to initiate and to dare,” Eisenkot said during the annual Chief of Staff Award ceremony honoring outstanding units at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Monday night.
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By ANNA AHRONHEIM

 DECEMBER 26, 2017 17:05
The Jerusalem Post
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IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks at the annual awards for outstanding IDF units. (IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks at the annual awards for outstanding IDF units. (IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

Eisenkot was addressing commanders and soldiers at the ceremony, in which certificates of excellence were awarded to outstanding troops in regular and territorial brigades, battalions, reserve units, training units, combat support units and technology units.

“You know more than anybody that we are in the midst of a complex security period in which you are required to take command and have a clear impact on the operational results,” he continued. “This evening is the most tangible expression of the operational and human strength of the Israel Defense Forces today.

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 “All of you together contribute to the moral and operational strength of the IDF and serve as an important element in the IDF’s ability to realize its mission while maintaining its character as a professional and responsible army whose role is to safeguard the security of the State of Israel,” the chief of staff continued.

“I trust you that at this time you will serve as an example of professional and responsible action, that we will continue to maintain a good security reality over time, and if we are required to use the power of the IDF, we will use our full strength and defeat every enemy.”

The IDF has been kept on high alert along the borders, with an increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the ongoing wave of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Following the US recognition on December 6 of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, dozens of rockets were fired from the Hamas-run enclave and thousands of Palestinians took to the streets, with some attacking IDF troops, leaving several Palestinians dead.

In the south, Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate is believed to be the jihadist group’s strongest branch. Israeli intelligence officials have warned that ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria might join the branch in the restive Sinai Peninsula which, despite consisting of fewer than 1,000 operatives, has been responsible for numerous deadly attacks, mostly against Egyptian security personnel and civilians.

The war in Syria has also been a focus of Eisenkot’s, especially in terms of keeping advanced Iranian weapons from the hands of Hezbollah. Speaking to the London-based, Saudi-owned online newspaper Elaph in a rare interview in November, Eisenkot warned of the expansion of Iranian influence across the Middle East as a major concern to Israel and to the Sunni kingdom.

“The Iranian plan is to control the Middle East by means of two Shi’ite crescents,” he told Elaph. “The first being from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and the second across the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen to the Red Sea. We must stop that from happening.”

During his two years as chief of staff, Eisenkot has focused on preparing Israel and its military for a sudden outbreak of conflict on the borders, and has restocked the IDF’s arsenal and increased training for reserve soldiers from five days a year to two weeks.

In March, during one of the army’s largest planned drills where 2,000 reserve soldiers were called up to simulate war in the Gaza Strip, Eisenkot said: “We have put preparedness at the top of the IDF’s list of priorities. This is evident from the increased training program.”

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IDF-Chief-of-Staff-Eisenkot-warns-of-explosive-fronts-surrounding-Israel-520064