Showing posts with label Arab World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arab World. Show all posts

2 August 2022

Timing is the key to the Gulf replacing Russian oil

Nikolay Kozhanov

US president Joe Biden’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia as a part of his Middle Eastern tour was not a failure as the Russian propaganda tried to present it.

On the contrary, the US and Saudi Arabia seem to come to certain terms regarding their vision of the global oil market prospects and, most probably, steps which can be taken by Riyadh to mitigate the negative impact of high oil prices on Western economies.

While the details of US-Saudi negotiations are kept secret, the oil market expects that on 3 August – when OPEC+ members meet to discuss production quotas – Saudi Arabia may try to persuade the cartel to increase supplies.

31 July 2022

Iranian drones could make Russia’s military more lethal in Ukraine


The White House raised eyebrows earlier this month when a senior official claimed Russia may try to obtain “hundreds” of UAVs from its Middle Eastern ally Iran. In the op-ed below, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ John Hardie, Ryan Brobst and Behnam Ben Taleblu analyze what Iran has to offer, and how it could impact the war in Ukraine.

As Russia has prosecuted its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military has found itself wanting in several areas, notably including unmanned aerial vehicles. But according to the White House, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a plan to mitigate that shortcoming by obtaining “up to several hundred UAVs” from Iran.

While it may seem an unusual proposal, the Iranian drone industry is robust, its products tested on battlefields across the Middle East. These Iranian drones could both help the Russian military identify targets for its vast arsenal of artillery, as well as offer Russia additional means of attacking Ukrainian forces – potentially including Western-donated artillery.

29 July 2022

'Turkey chose to join Western bloc by entering Korean War'

Turkey's decision to send its troops to Korea represented a strategic diplomatic choice to join the Western bloc and this decision has greatly contributed to the strengthening of the state structure, Turkey's Ambassador to Seoul Ersin Erçin said Tuesday.

It has been 69 years since the Korean War ended on the field, though it technically continues since a peace agreement to formally end the war was never signed.

Erçin told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkey showed great diplomatic dexterity to avoid participating in World War II.

"Resolution 83, adopted by the U.N. Security Council on June 27, 1950, inviting member states to join the war to help South Korea, came to the fore at such a critical time for Turkey. The government of the period responded positively to the call of the Security Council and decided to send a brigade to Korea. The decision to send troops abroad for the first time in the history of the Republic paved the way for our membership in NATO in 1952," the ambassador explained.

28 July 2022

Secret Or Reality: Can Aramco Produce 15 Million Barrels A Day?

Wael Mahdi

I guess by now we all know that Saudi Arabia will not raise its production capacity beyond 13 million barrels a day by 2027 after the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made it clear in his address during the regional summit this month that was attended by US President Joe Biden.

“The Kingdom will contribute to this field to increase its production capacity to 13 million barrels per day, and after that the Kingdom will not have any additional ability to increase production,” the Crown Prince said.

To many who are still under the influence of what Matt Simmons wrote 17 years ago in his book “Twilight in the Desert”, the Saudi statement was a testament to the argument laid in the book that Saudi Arabia can’t rescue the world anymore as its oil fields are aging and reaching a peak.

27 July 2022

Biden in Saudi Arabia: Realpolitik vs. Morality

George Friedman

The war in Ukraine rages on as the United States still wants to prevent Russia from effectively reaching Eastern Europe. To that end, Washington’s strategy has been to provide weapons to the Ukrainian army and execute an economic war against Russia. Economic warfare is similar to warfare in general. Targeting is imprecise, time frames are uncertain, and the outcomes are unexpected. The most consequential outcome so far has been the removal of oil from global markets, an issue serious enough that internal pressure in some allied nations has forced them to reconsider their position on the war. Oil is simply a politico-military necessity.

This is the context in which U.S. President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia, one of the few countries that could single-handedly bring down oil prices through increased supply, at least in theory. Asking for favors from Saudi Arabia was seen as cynical and contributing to human rights violations. The Saudis’ violations of those rights are many, but the most high-profile incident was the murder and dismemberment of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who many believe was killed at the behest of Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman. The problem is that Biden is running a war that clearly isn’t going to end quickly and is being fought by a fraying coalition. Limiting oil output, stopping Russia and boycotting Saudi Arabia are all seen as moral imperatives, sometimes by the same people. But in this case, the moral imperatives contravene each other, such that Biden can’t pursue all three without violating one.

24 July 2022

The privatization of Haifa Port: India 1 China 0

James M. Dorsey

The acquisition by a close associate of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a joint bid with Israeli company Gadot, constitutes success in US-backed efforts to counter China's first starter advantage as its infrastructure-driven, multipronged Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seemingly stalls.

The port deal, in which Mr. Adani has a 70 per cent stake, puts the duo in charge of the port until 2054.

Under US pressure, Israel backed away from allowing China to manage Haifa Port, which the US Sixth Fleet frequents. The port also straddles the exit from an adjacent naval base that hosts Israel’s submarine fleet, believed to have a second-strike nuclear missile capability.

21 July 2022

Iran Is Testing Us. So Far, We Are Failing


In February, a jet carrying Iran's minister of the interior, Ahmad Vahidi, landed at Pakistan's Nur Khan air base and he was not arrested.

He should have been.

Vahidi, and four other senior Iranians, are wanted by INTERPOL for "aggravated murder and damages," for their role in the July 18, 1994, bombing of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA in Spanish) center in Buenos Aires.

On that day, a Renault van laden with 600 pounds of ammonium nitrate rammed into the AMIA building, killing 85 Jews and non-Jews. Vahidi was then head of the Quds Force, the external operations arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The Quds Force is labeled a terror organization by the United States and is considered responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans in Iraq since the second Gulf war. Vahidi is sanctioned by the U.S. government for proliferating weapons of mass destruction. INTERPOL has issued a red notice (provisional arrest warrant) for his detention because of the 1994 bombing.

18 July 2022

Cycles of Turmoil

Political leadership in Arab countries is often a poisoned chalice. Violence and upheaval have been hallmarks of political transition in the Middle East and North Africa in the modern era, but in fact the history is much longer. Legacies of tribalism and instability stifled the region’s political development while the imposition of centralized nation-states by colonial powers lacked relevance to the cultural and social realities of the region. Their failure to take hold has hampered the emergence of a stable political culture, leaving difficult transitions as the norm and militaries as a major political force. Countries’ difficulty – and at times inability – to overcome their tribal roots and establish a strong sense of national identity all but guarantees this cycle of turmoil will continue. The coups and uprisings in Sudan and Algeria are only the most recent reminders.

Joe Biden Has a Saudi Problem

Yasmine Farouk

Bashing Saudi Arabia during a presidential election season is almost a tradition in the United States, and President Biden made no exception. Emboldened by domestic outrage over the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, Mr. Biden went further than his predecessors by calling Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state. That was miscalculated.

With the war in Ukraine sending energy prices higher and China cementing more alliances in the Middle East, Mr. Biden is traveling thousands of miles to attempt to repair a relationship that has reached a nadir in its 80-year history — arguably even worse than after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

17 July 2022

United States, Saudi Arabia, And Russia Meet The Great Energy Challenge

Scott B. MacDonald

The world’s three energy superpowers – the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia – are scrambling to acclimate to a new geo-economic landscape. Each country faces distinct challenges. Of the three, the U.S. probably has the brightest prospects, in part due to its substantial oil and gas reserves, its ability to export liquefied natural gas by ship, and a deep push into renewables. But there is no easy way around the challenge: Efforts to move towards zero emissions have hit a major geopolitical speed bump, and the emerging energy landscape is going to be volatile and disjointed. This reality is already reflected by a global surge in inflation and the looming possibility of slowed economic growth.

Europe, Disrupted

The most disruptive shift is taking place in Europe. While Russia is reaping substantial revenues from its hydrocarbon exports and is trying to make Western Europe suffer by slowing the supply of gas and oil, Europe is enacting a bruising yet necessary decoupling from energy dependence on its eastern neighbor. This entails a major restructuring of global supply chains, with implications that reach from the U.S. Permian Basin and Trinidad and Tobago’s offshore natural gas fields, to Qatar’s new $29 billion North Field East natural gas project.

Joe Biden sets off aimlessly to the Middle East

For decades American presidents have arrived in the Holy Land like earnest pilgrims searching for the holy grail of a two-state solution. George Bush hoped to find it in 2003 with his “road map for peace”. Barack Obama came in 2013, while John Kerry, his secretary of state, was trying to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks. Even Donald Trump promised to “give it an absolute go”.

Joe Biden has lost the faith. His nearly 48-hour visit to Israel and Palestine, which begins on July 13th, will be an exercise in banality: shake a few hands, see a few sights, head back to the airport. He is unlikely to announce big plans or offer stirring words. No president in recent memory has arrived with so little to say about the region’s most intractable conflict.

15 July 2022

Here’s Why Joe Biden’s Saudi Arabia Trip Is Doomed To Fail

Michael Rubin

Why Joe Biden’s Saudi Arabia Trip Looks Problematic At Best: Soon after he joined Barack Obama’s ticket in 2008, Joe Biden decided that he would highlight his foreign policy credentials by questioning not only George W. Bush’s management of the Afghanistan war, but also sitting Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Not only Kabul but also Tehran noticed the criticism. “Americans are trying to call into question the president’s [Karzai’s] popularity and damage his standing in Afghanistan to replace him with another individual in the forthcoming presidential elections,” Iran’s official state television announced in a special bulletin.

Obama and Biden may have targeted their remarks to the U.S. audience, but what happens in Washington doesn’t stay in Washington. Karzai neither forgot nor forgave Biden for what he saw as a personal attack, as Biden discovered during his first trip to Kabul as vice president. Biden’s meeting with Karzai grew so heated that eventually Biden just left. The episode did have one important result: It accelerated Karzai’s shift away from the West and into the hands of various anti-American conspiracy theorists. Unfortunately, that episode is now the rule rather than the exception.

Cyberattacks in Baltics foreshadow future of war


As the fighting in Ukraine drags on, another conflict is taking shape elsewhere on Russia’s periphery. This borderless conflict is aimed at destabilizing the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but can and likely will expand to engulf others.

Last month, Lithuanian government and public service Web portals were hit by a sustained cyberattack from Russian hackers. The attack was a response to Lithuanian enforcement of a European Union sanctions package on goods traveling to and from Kaliningrad, a Russian territory located between Lithuania and Poland. In taking responsibility for the attack, Russian hackers promised that more would be forthcoming.

“The attack will continue until Lithuania lifts the blockade,” a spokesman for the group told Reuters. “We have demolished 1,652 Web resources. And that’s just so far.”

14 July 2022

Elective Affinities: Iran, India and China’s Responses to the Ukraine War

Burzine Waghmar

Iran, India and China have found themselves dragged into the crisis in Ukraine, as their wagons remain hitched to the invading power for complicated reasons.

'Sooner or later Russia will be back, and we do not know what kind of Russia that will be. It may fall subject to some form of totalitarian tyranny, fascist or communist; it may resume its earlier role as the leader of pan-Slavism or Orthodox Christianity; it may succeed, after so many failed efforts…it may resume or reject its former imperial ambitions. But this much can be said with certainty: that, whatever kind of regime rules in a resurgent Russia, it will be vitally concerned with the Middle East – a region not far from its southern frontier wherever that may ultimately lie...'

– Bernard Lewis, The Future of the Middle East, 1997

It was inconceivable, when Vladimir Putin lambasted Lenin for encouraging Ukrainians to think of themselves as a distinct people on 21 February, that the war clouds over Kyiv would sweep Beijing, Tehran and New Delhi to the rim if not eye of the storm. India, Iran and China cannot wish this conflict away, as their wagons remain hitched to the invading power for complicated reasons.

11 July 2022

America’s New Realism in the Middle East

F. Gregory Gause 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia has unleashed a gusher of chatter in the American foreign policy community. Some reactions, including from influential Democratic politicians, have been unreservedly negative. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff said, “Until Saudi Arabia makes a radical change in terms of human rights, I wouldn’t want anything to do with him,” referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS. But defenders of Biden’s decision to visit argue that U.S. interests and the realities of power in the Middle East require a strategic relationship with the Saudis, despite their poor record on human rights and democracy.

This level of disagreement and controversy is striking and unusual because American presidents have been meeting with Saudi leaders regularly since the 1970s—and on occasion before that. But the Biden administration had signaled, in no uncertain terms, that it would treat Saudi Arabia differently than did previous administrations. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden said he would make the Saudis “pay the price” for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and the Saudi participation in the war in Yemen and would treat them as “the pariah that they are.” Once in office, Biden authorized the release of a U.S. intelligence report holding that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi operatives in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Biden refused to deal directly with the crown prince and took policy steps that aggravated the Saudis, including lifting the official designation of the Houthis (the Saudis’ opponents in Yemen) as terrorists, removing U.S. air defense batteries from Saudi Arabia, and restarting nuclear talks with Iran. So the upcoming visit to Riyadh represents a reversal—and a climb-down for a president who is facing an increasing number of political problems at home.

10 July 2022

Ethical foreign policy has tied us in knots


Half a century ago the philosopher Bernard Williams observed correctly that when the British talked about morality everyone assumed they were talking about sex. This tendency was problematic. It subordinated other possibly more important values while ensuring no overall improvement to sexual mores themselves, only a high degree of hypocrisy.

I was reminded of this observation while watching an appearance by Liz Truss before a parliamentary select committee last week. The foreign secretary was asked whether her professed determination to end Britain’s dependence on authoritarian regimes for trade applied to Saudi Arabia’s royals, whom we in the West are all currently begging to lower the cost of oil to help with our energy crisis.

9 July 2022

Countering hack-for-hire groups

Shane Huntley

As part of TAG's mission to counter serious threats to Google and our users, we've published analysis on a range of persistent threats including government-backed attackers, commercial surveillance vendors, and serious criminal operators. Today, we're sharing intelligence on a segment of attackers we call hack-for-hire, whose niche focuses on compromising accounts and exfiltrating data as a service.

In contrast to commercial surveillance vendors, who we generally observe selling a capability for the end user to operate, hack-for-hire firms conduct attacks themselves. They target a wide range of users and opportunistically take advantage of known security flaws when undertaking their campaigns. Both, however, enable attacks by those who would otherwise lack the capabilities to do so.

We have seen hack-for-hire groups target human rights and political activists, journalists, and other high-risk users around the world, putting their privacy, safety and security at risk. They also conduct corporate espionage, handily obscuring their clients’ role.

6 July 2022

A New DIME Approach to Policy for Iran and China

Jeremiah Shenefield

The role of any foreign policy, regardless of political leanings, should always focus first on the preservation of the national security of the United States. The central sticking points for politicians, government bureaucrats, and planners are what topics rise to the level of national security concerns? Policymakers have claimed national security extends to international terrorism threats, climate change, or ensuring lasting global democracy in the face of authoritarianism. While all reasonable, a common policy concern/goal is the pursuit of economic prosperity and the continued status of the U.S. as the global economic leader. Economies are broad, touch every aspect of society, politics, and foreign policy, especially in Washington. The driver of global economy and commerce is energy; either solar, wind, fossils fuels, commerce, and by extension, world economies grind to a haul without it. Outside regional terrorism and proxy/sectarian wars, energy is the reason Iran is still relevant in U.S. foreign policy circles. Policy effects regarding the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) must weigh risks to global shipping commerce, threats to gulf allies (themselves involved in energy exports and affairs), the proliferation of weapons and destabilizing governments, and the wider role energy plays in the newest global power struggle between the U.S. and China.

2 July 2022

Why Does Israel Keep Assassinating Iranian Officials? Because It Works.

Danielle Pletka

On Sept. 11, 1962, German rocket scientist Heinz Krug disappeared from his office in Munich, never to be seen again. Like several other veterans of the Nazi missile program, Krug was working for the Egyptian government of Gamal Abdel Nasser, whose nation had already fought two wars with the young state of Israel. The backstory is long and complicated—involving Benito Mussolini, Eva Perón, and hidden Nazi gold—but the short version is that the Mossad, Israel’s chief intelligence agency, recruited a Nazi once close to Adolf Hitler to knock Krug off.

But, although it might have been Israel’s most film noir-worthy tale of assassination, it certainly wasn’t its last. This year, in late May and June, seven individuals affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two colonels, were killed in separate incidents. Iran, unsurprisingly, has fingered the Mossad in most of the deaths.

Assassination has long been a vital tool in Israel’s arsenal. Just as Israel was emerging as a state in 1948, United Nations negotiator Folke Bernadotte was killed by members of the Lehi gang, which included a man who would later become an Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. (Bernadotte was promoting alternatives to the U.N. partition plan that Lehi feared might gain traction.)

30 June 2022


John Spencer and Jayson Geroux

Any future war against a peer or near-peer enemy will contain some measure of urban combat. A broad base of historical, demographic, sociopolitical, and military analysis makes that fact abundantly clear. As a result, militaries must be required to conduct both urban offense and defense operations. Military theorists have long described the defense as the strongest form of war, and current doctrine agrees. There are many reasons why a military would need to go into the defense in a campaign—to create conditions for the offense and regain the initiative, to destroy the enemy outright, to retain decisive terrain, or simply to slow the advance of a numerically or technologically superior force. A well-planned and -constructed urban defense could determine the success or failure of achieving a strategic objective, and could influence the outcome of a war.

Unlike other environments, such as wooded or mountainous areas, urban terrain contains unique characteristics that allow for a very strong and lethal defense to be conducted. The density, construction, and complexity of man-made physical terrain in urban areas allows soldiers to rapidly use or shape the environment to further strengthen a defense plan. These plans should seek to break apart an attacking formation, separate mounted from dismounted forces, limit the attacker’s ability to maneuver, degrade military technologies like intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and aerial strike capabilities, maximize surprise, and either defeat the attackers in detail or buy time for other tactical, operational, and strategic actions.

Any military defending force must prepare to maximize its positions and plans. Doctrine is always a good place to start. We recommended any urban defender review the following doctrine before planning commences: Army Doctrinal Publication (ADP) 3-90, Offense and Defense, chapter 4, pages 4-1 to 4-18; Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-06, Urban Operations, chapter 5, pages 5-1 to 5-6; and Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (ATTP) 3-06.11, Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain, chapter 3, pages 3-1 to 3-14, and Chapter 6, pages 6-1 to 6-12. Thirty-eight pages in total, these selections offer the foundation planners need before executing an urban defense. Of course, the operational and mission variables for each urban defense—the type of urban terrain, resources available, time, and enemy—could differ greatly from one another. However, there are important general characteristics of successful defenses: preparation, security, disruption, massing effects, and flexibility; primary types of defenses such as area, mobile, and retrograde; sequencing; different schemes of maneuver such as an area defense of a block or group of buildings, defense of key terrain, and defense of an urban strongpoint; seven steps to engagement area development; and other critical information that should be reviewed before starting a defense operation to significantly increase a unit’s effectiveness.