Friday, November 4, 2011

Regional Update - Nov 4th

This week has been particularly action packed with Israel testing a ballistic missile system, Turkey threatening to send its warships to escort aid ships to the port of Gaza, Syria - Arab League deals, UK stands ready to deploy its Trident equipped submarines in Arabian Gulf waters to support an allied mission to destroyIranian nuclear sites.


We continue where we left off from our 2 part series on the Syrian situation.

We are of the opinion that large number of alawite leaders (both businessmen and military) are of the view that it is now too late to save the system. However, the question they seem to be pondering is whether they will continue to have a role in a post Assad world? Will the wider public take it easy on them? Looking at Egypt,  businessmen who were allied with the Mubarak regime are today being prosecuted and targeted, so we should probably conclude that Syrian public will not go easy on the alawite community. Therefore It is likely that several Alawites may fight right to the end and prolong the brutal attack on citizens. This will lead to further growing international pressure. Just yesterday the Chinese asked the Syrian government to resolve the issue.

Is the Syrian government agreement with the Arab League to implement reforms a sign of strength or weakness? Probably weakness. In our opinion, this is just to buy more time, on the ground not a lot seems to have changed as more deaths were reported yesterday and today.

The Alawite military can still rely on a vast number of loyal soldiers, therefore this is a recipe for civil war. So therefore efforts are underway to convince the army to conduct a coup in order to have an orderly transition of power preventing a civil war from taking place. Will this be successful? Maybe.

Keep in mind, that for Obama and Sarkozy elections are coming up. It is easier for them to show external success than to show domestic economic successes, so you will see Sarko and Obama more active with regards to Syria.


The international pressure on Iran seems to be increasing. If the IAEA and western/GCC intelligence reports are to be believed it appears that Iran is speeding up its nuclear activity.   If this is not resolved diplomatically, war is the last option. Therefore, countries require more time to prepare for the eventual war.

The Gulf intelligence agencies have compiled an intelligence report titeled "The nuclearisation of Iran". This is meant to be issued prior to the GCC Defence ministers meeting in Riyadh sometime in November/December. According to the report, Iran has recently tested  a neutron initiator, which is used to detonate anuclear bomb at the Fordo site. It also mentioned that Khamanei has taken full contol of the nuclear file, away from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The report also notes that North Korea recently sold Iran an MCNPX 2.6.0 computer program that simulates the neutron and photon flows in nuclear processes.A North Korean team of engineers were in Tehran to train defence ministry officials on the program.

There appears to be a lot of deception and psy-ops going on. First Britain confirmed that it will take part in any operation to support an allied mission to destroy Iranian nuclear sites by deploying its Trident equipped Submarines. The British subs were in the Arabian gulf a few years ago conducting manuevers with other allied forces.

Raising the nuclear issue about Syria's attempts to acquire nuclear capability was also we think, a means to attack Iran diplomatically and also keep the pressure on the Syrian regime. Transfer of US troops from Iraq to the Gulf is also due to the fact that there is an estimate that Iran will respond to the removal of the Assad regime by retaliating in the Gulf. This will be done via proxy groups such as Mahdi army in Iraq (the IRGC is busy professionalising the Mahdi Army and building it on the lines of Hezbollah), Hezbollah and others.

Israel Air Force planes participating in an aviation drill at Decimomannu air base, Italy, Oct. 2011.

Another interesting piece of news was the NATO exercise with the Israeli Air force, where F-16s travelled 1700km to bases in Italy, which was supposedly a dress rehearsal for an attack on Iran. Then also the leak of news to the media about PM Netanyahu convincing his cabinet to agree to military strikes on Iran. Our opinion is that this is nothing but strategic deception in order to maintain the pressure on Iran and divert its focus away from saving the Syrian regime. These exercises are also due to the fact that western alliance do not rule out some response by the Iranian regime to the removal of the Assad regime (their ally).

The decision for Erdogan to send Turkish Naval ships to escort aid ships to Gaza may also be strategic deception. Most people know that the Turkish Navy has no capability to take on Israeli navy, therefore there is a possibilitythat this serves as  a cover for some other action.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

India and the Syrian Imbroglio: Part 2

The conclusion in the GCC is that a civil war will strengthen the Asaad regime and allow his regime to last longer. This is why from the beginning the KSA has been telling the US that they don't want the MB in power in Syria (The US is busy cutting deals with MB in Egypt and Syria if some sources are to be believed but we'll leave that for another day) and that the KSA want a secular govt in power (another reason for this is that arabia has been at war with Mesapotamia and Persia since mankind).

So what’s the next step?
The next step is for the intelligence services of the GCC, Turkey and Jordan to contact the key movers and shakers within the Syrian military. Making them split and join with the protestors will actually strengthen the Asaad position and allow him to retain control for longer. Then Syria will descend into another Iraq. So the move is to essentially establish contact with the Syrian Colnols/ National Security Council etc and negotiate with them. Get their opinions together and eventually cripple the ability of the military to function. Then essentially ask for their support for the Syrian people's aspirations. This could be similar to that of Egypt or could even be via a military coup de etat.

This should occur when soldiers are sick off killing unarmed protestors to the point of disgust and start rebelling against illegitimate instructions from superiors.

The defection of Col. Maher Al Asaad showed that even minorities are against the Asaad regime. The protestors have decided not to take up arms and this is actually to prevent a civil war from taking place.

Asaad's response.

Syrian army operations in Northern Syria

Asaad's response has been quite smart. He is not afraid to kill many people. His forces in key positions are mainly from the Syrian minorities and from families that have been allied with the regime. This has brought an attitude where the soldiers are killing for the protection of their communities. The continued use of the terms 'fighting armed groups' is to project a legitimacy and maintain the morale of the military and avert pressure.

However, our sources suggest that the Asaad regime has decided to sideline the military from anti protestor operations. The regime has chosen to use the Hezbollah, Iranian police/troops and other Alawite militia's to conduct the anti protestor policing/killings. This is to prevent the military from splitting.

The Syrian intelligence has conducted several operations in neighbouring countries. Intelligence sources confirm that several key opposition figures (Over a dozen) have been kidnapped in Turkey and Lebanon by the Syrian intelligence. The well known case to date is that of Colonel Hussein Harmoush who has retracted all his statements that he made when he had defected.

Tehran's role

Tehran's role is to provide military support and also from a strategic perspective provide the Syrian regime with the experience (dealing with protestors, their communication, disrupting protesters via the internet) that was learned during the 2009 mass protests in Iran in the wake of Ahmadinejad's election victory. 

The Iranian National Security council have written a document on how they can provide support to the Syrian regime. These mainly involve economic projects such as the $10billion oil & gas pipeline from Iran to Syria of which lots of money had already been transferred to the Syrian government.

Iran will have to switch focus back to its internal problems eventually with planned demonstrations against Corruption and also how to organize future parliamentary elections. It is also important to note the last IRGC exercise was actually on how to deal with demonstrations across Iranian cities.


Our conclusion is that we expect to see this conflict being drawn out for a longer period than previously expected although the Turkish intelligence is telling its friends that Asaad's fall will come quickly. Is this because they have already began negotiating with key players?

As India is a relatively fringe player in this crisis, we should remain neutral and suggest that the Asaad regime must implement reforms or risk exhausting the patience of the international community. At the same time, we should begin establishing contacts with key elements of the regime to ensure our interests in the country are protected in a post Asaad Syria.

India and the Syrian Imbroglio: Part 1

India and the Syrian Imbroglio

President Assad has been a good friend of India, as was his father Hafez Al Assad. Both Syria and India are secular countries, have been partners in NAM and have shared several common interests (economic and diplomatic). However, India has expressed its concern over the current situation in Syria and that too with good reason. According to the UN over 3000 people have been killed since unrest broke out in March.


India along with several nations (Brazil and South Africa) have sensed that another military intervention by is in the offing. In order to prevent another Libya like situation, India along with what is termed as IBSA – India, Brazil and South Africa, visited Damascus and had told President Assad that he needs to implement multi party reforms and thereby alter article 8 of the Syrian constitution which states that only the Baath party can select its leader. In return, Assad told his Indian interlocutors that he did make some mistakes when handling the situation and a national dialogue was in process to solve the prevailing problems. Many analysts have opined that this is at best a stall tactic for Assad to retain power.

The Syrian protests are being done for genuine economic and political reasons, however, there are nations in the region who see it as in their interests to remove Assad and are taking advantage of the prevailing situation. The Assad regime has been allied with Iran over several issues – Iraq, continued support of the Palestinian groups such as Hamas and military support to Hezbollah. Iran has deployed extensive military support to Hezbollah via Syria.

Iran sees the protection of the Syrian regime as part of their strategic interests. As part of this process, Iran has sent police forces, militia, advisers and has brought in Hezbollah militiants to help Syria deal with the current unrest. The aim is to utilize and apply the experience learned in dealing with the unrest in Iran after Pres. Ahmadinejad’s victory.

The GCC along with an alliance of other countries were formed around 5 years ago to coordinate against what was seen as growing Iranian expansionism. The GCC had felt threatened as Iran had extended its influence throughout the region. In Iraq – today the GCC views the Iraqi PM as an “Iranian stooge” and for example Iranian backed shia militants who are extremely powerful in the south of Iraq have fired scud missiles into Kuwait. Lebanon has now a Hezbollah dominated government which is naturally aligned with Iranian interests. In Yemen, Houthi rebels who are in the Northwest of Yemen were battling Saudi troops as well as the Yemeni government troops and had seized several villages on the Saudi border. The GCC as well as Yemen had accused Iran of funding and arming the rebels. With the ongoing unrest in Yemen, there are fears in Riyadh that Iran could take advantage of the situation. In Egypt, Iran has attempted to build relations with the government as well as pro-Iran groups. Lastly, the GCC had also accused Iran of backing the unrest in Bahrain – the US had confirmed that they had intelligence to confirm this view. Several Iranian spy cells have been dismantled in the last few months in Kuwait and Bahrain.

All these moves by Iran, have made the GCC feel surrounded and feel threatened. As a result, the GCC and its allies have decided the time has come to aggressively remove Iranian influence in the region. As part of this process, the GCC has decided to turn up the rhetoric and coordinate with Sunni Turkey against Syrian President Assad.

The removal of President Assad will deliver the first defeat to Iranian influence in the region. It will cause the supply lines to Lebanese Hezbollah to be damaged and thereby weaken Hezbollah. The Iranian regime has been utilizing Hezbollah for its nefarious activities in the Gulf, a swift military force that can be used to defend Iranian interests in the region and fight the GCC in a war (if it comes to that).

What will we see now? 

The Leader of the Free Syrian Army

President Assad has now crossed the point of no return. Intelligence sources have pointed out that defections have taken place in the Syrian conscript army. Slowly but surely if the killings of the Syrian people continue, the Syrian army begin to defect with the protesters – as soldiers question the orders provided by the Syrian military high command.

The UAE is said to have already offered Assad asylum. However, the GCC as well as the Turkish intelligence have concluded that Assad’s fall will come quickly. Hence, now you are seeing a tightening of the noose around Assad’s kneck. Turkey has today announced sanctions. It is highly possible that Turkey will create a “buffer zone” where Syrian refugees will receive military training and help continue the fight.  Turkey will be forced to take the action as it cannot see Syria’s Kurds assert their independence which will automatically instigate Kurds in Turkey.

Erdogan’s rhetoric against Israel was nothing but a cover for his inaction in Syria and to win over the Arab street. Erdogan’s Turkey has initiated intelligence cooperation with Israel since 6th June due to the prevailing situation in Syria.

Iran hasn’t sat quietly watching the developments, it has issued strong warnings to Turkey. It conducted a major missile exercise in the North west which was sent as a message to Ankara that any military intervention in Syria will be met with war against Turkey. As a result Turkey has beefed up its anti missile batteries being deployed, western ships have also amassed off the Turkish coast including some with AEGIS class anti missile systems to protect Europe from Iranian missiles.

The view is that Assad has crossed the point of no return – even if multi party reforms are initiated, the people will demand an answer to the killings and for the President to be held responsible.

Lebanese army officers have suggested that the prices for weapons in black markets within Lebanon have spiked due to demand from Syria. Some sources have said that the Assad’s close circle has tightened to around 3 or 4 people.

India’s position

In light of the mounting evidence in support of Assad’s downfall and his continuing massacres. It is time for India to work together with the UN Security council to prevent further massacres from taking place.

However, India as well as China are indeed wary of the fact that the UN Security council vote against Syria could be used as a historical precedent to interfere in their respective countries. Therefore, it might be prudent for India to remain neutral in this crisis but ensure that its interests in Syria are protected.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turkey - Syria - Iran Dynamic

Here is a quick summary on what is taking place in Syria:

- Muslim Brotherhood is not doing much at the moment but waiting and watching. Some cities the situation is bad, some has had no problems.
- Erdogan has given 15 days for Assad to introduce reforms.
- Israeli, Turkish intel cooperation has begun as of late June.
- Assessment is that Iran will provide missile support in the event of Turkish intervention. Russia already gave the Panshyr Anti A/c missiles to Syria.
- Sounds like some Air force aircraft has transferred to Izmir from Spain and Germany. USS Bataan has been in the eastern medeterrainean for a while now.
- Turkish drones are doing over flights over Syria. And Iranians are doing the same close to the Turkish border. Turks have already amassed tanks weeks ago.
- Turkish Pres expected in Riyadh soon. Military action is on the table.
- Turks have told Assad to implement reforms before its too late.
- Western ships in a defensive ABM role have been amassing close to Turkey
- Several nations conducted the Sea Breeze exercise in June. See ... -a-splash/
- Hezbollah and Iran have already issued threats to the Turks.
- Things have heated up in Bahrain, KSA and Turks are coming in to settle/negotiate the issue with the Bahraini shia groups.
- The next steps will be to split up the Syrian Army. There are about 9 units within the Syrian military where loyalties to the regime are suspect, the aim is to link these military groups with the protesters.

Conclusion - It is likely that Assad will introduce some reforms to stall the anti government protesters. We believe there is now a new determination in the sunni GCC to bring down Bashar Al Assad. Turkey will be coordinating most of the actions.
It is safe to expect more attrocities against the Syrian civilians in the coming days.

Added later: It appears that Iran is getting cornered completely in their efforts to help the Syrian regime. The land route via Iraq is likely to be stopped by the US forces, land route via Turkey is being stopped by Turks. Only way is now the sea route, so the Iranians have announced "investments" in Latakia port. So  Israel will be pressured to stop any ships heading to Latakia. The fight is now on between the GCC/NATO/Turkey against the Iranians/Syria. 

On the face of it, it looks increasingly likely that this war will be financed by the GCC and that the only way Bashar Al Assad will be removed is via external intervention most likely via Turkey.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Regional Update


Egyptian Foreign minister Nabil Al Arabi appears to have been sacked due to favouring closer relations with Iran. It is likely that GCC may have put Egypt under pressure to withdraw this policy. We are aware that Murad Muwaifi (The head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate) had met with his KSA counterpart and explained to him Egypt's decision to build up relations with Iran. Since this meeting, Egypt appears to have withdrawn from a brief flirt with Tehran. UAE and KSA continue to provide aid to Egypt.

The current Foreign Minister of Egypt made this statement in Bahrain: "The GCC security is an integral part of the collective Arab security and a strategic depth to Egypt’s national security".


The Syrian regime appears to have sustained serious damage in the recent protests. Protests are still continuing in the Hama region. There appears to be a lot of defections from the lower rank sunni dominated parts of the military. The 76th Battallion appears to have suffered the most with over 100 defections (So bad that Maher Assad controlled troop had to move in to back up the 76th battalion). The air force appears to be pre-dominantly a sunni force and the Assad regime has sent out strong warnings to sunni commanders that defections should not be tolerated.

We continue to believe that with further sanctions targetting Assad supporters, key Syrian businessmen and with vast open/unpoliced/unfenced borders, it is likely that the regime will collapse. Therefore expect the worst in Syria.

Also reports from Lebanon suggest that black market prices for weapons have increased significantly due to Syrian demand. This also suggests that some countries are financing rebels in Syria.

Turkey has decided to use diplomacy and refrained from a military response yet.

We have learned that the Turkish intelligence agencies have sent warnings to Syrian and Iranian counterparts, not to harm Syrian refugees and expatriate Syrians in Turkey. This has raised the tension with Iran recently.

Shahab 3 Range

It is likely that the threat of joint US and Turkish intervention in Syria, led to Iran announcing the Great Prophet 6 military exercise. This exercise took place in the Northern borders close to Turkey and showcased the nuclear capable Shahab 3 missile (capable of striking targets in Europe). 


Iran is developing the Mahdi army and Badr Brigade (part of the supreme Islamic Council) into a professional militia/force, that is an alternate to Hezbollah (or as powerful as Hezbollah).

The IRGC told them the plan is to reorganise the militia and arm them. So intructors will be giving them training in weapons handling and Missile launching. So the aim is to develop a force that can intervene in Syria, Lebanon - in support of Hezbollah and augment hezbollah operations in setting up covert cells in Kuwait, Bahrain, KSA. So if Hezbollah can't, the Mahdi army will take over setting up cells in GCC.

Tensions are rising again as Iran wants to make sure that the US does not retain any presence in Afghanistan and in Iraq. In order to achieve this, Iran has partnered with Pakistan and Iraq. Therefore, Iran has delivered more weapons to be used against the US troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Sadr has issued more threats and has even permitted suicide attacks against the US troops.

The US has wanted to change its role from a force that is currently policing the streets into a pure counter terror role and support Iraqi forces or Afghan National Army operations against insurgents. We can expect this to occur over the next few months.

"The current discussions cover both, and there are very clear capability gaps that the Iraqi security forces are going to have," Mullen said, citing air defense, aviation and elements of intelligence.


We understand that western intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran has now produced its first nuclear bomb prototype that is ready to be tested. Iran took advantage of the chaos during the "Arab Spring" to accelerate its program. Recently announcing that Iran will send a monkey into space. Any military analyst will point out that being able to put a payload into space will demonstrate ICBM capability. Rumours are circulating that a blame game has begun within western intelligence agencies.

It is likely that KSA and Turkey will come out with a plan to test nuclear weapons. Prince Turki has been the most vocal in this. Pakistan meanwhile has been expanding its nuclear weapons stockpile significantly and is likely to transfer the weapons technology. We have already reported in a previous article on GCC - Pakistan relations, of Saudi nuclear scientists receiving training in Pakistan. The GCC nuclear program is likely to be based in Khamis Mushayt and we believe that the program has been running for some years.

Pyongyang has relaunched North Korea’s enriched uranium production, a move that has coincided with Iran’s stocks growing.

In recent months, several European security services including the DGSE and MI6 have been swapping notes about intelligence from U.S. sources that Tehran has been receiving deliveries of UF6, uranium hexafluoride, used in centrifugation enrichment processes. This news comes at a time when Pyongyang is known to have relaunched its production of nuclear fuel.

The existence of a secret supply source from North Korea, if it turns out to be true, would strengthen the case for tougher sanctions against Iran. A report into secret technological exchange between the two countries, written by the United Nations’ panel of experts that monitors compliance with UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, was submitted to the Security Council in May. The report, which has not yet been published on China’s request, covers bilateral cooperation on ballistic missiles. On June 10th, the U.N renewed the panel of experts’ mandate.



KSA and the US have partnered together on anti-AQAP operations. Leon Panetta and Gen. Petraeus have both told lawmakers that GCC will put "maximum" pressure on the AQAP. Prince Turki Al-Faisal and Prince Bandar bin Sultan were said to have lobbied the senior KSA leaders to allow a construction of an airbase for CIA/JSOC to operate drones from KSA. It appears that this base may not be operational yet and it is likely that some missions that began in May are operating from a neighbouring country as well as KSA.

The reason behind KSA okay'ing the plan was to prevent AQAP being given a free hand to operate in Yemen as this could affect the survival of the Kingdom. 


Thank you for reading! Feel free to email us your comments at "eye.on.middleeast" at gmail dot com

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Saudi Perspective - DECODED!

A Saudi perspective on the Arab uprisings

Editor's Note: Nawaf Obaid is a Senior Fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research & Islamic Studies based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He recently wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post entitled, Why Saudi Arabia is stable amid the Mideast unrest. Previously, Obaid was also private security and energy advisor Nawaf Obaid to Prince Turki al-Faisal when al-Faisal was the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.
By Nawaf Obaid – Special to CNN

The Arab world faces a period of historic upheaval: The economic and social malaise that existed in Tunisia before the revolution remains, and there is no realistic plan to turn the situation around.
Egypt's economy is in free-fall and the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to significantly increase its power through upcoming elections.
Civil war in Libya and escalating violence in Yemen have cost thousands of lives and set back development by decades.
Syria is on the edge of an abyss of nightmarish internecine warfare, which could spill into Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
The so-called "Arab Spring" has not brought new life to the Middle East, but leaderless anarchy, creating a virtual pan-regional movement that is alarmingly dangerous and ultimately unsustainable.
Recognizing the threat that the spread of this movement represents, Saudi Arabia is expanding its role internationally and mobilizing its vast resources to help countries facing domestic upheaval.
As the birthplace of Islam and the leader of the Muslim and Arab worlds, Saudi Arabia has a unique responsibility to aid states in the region, assisting them in their gradual evolution toward more sustainable political systems and preventing them from collapsing and spreading further disorder.
That the Kingdom has the ability to implement this foreign policy goal should not be in doubt - it is backed by significant military and economic strength.
The foundation for this more robust strategic posture is Saudi Arabia's investment of around $150 billion in its military. This includes a potential expansion of the National Guard and Armed Forces by at least 120,000 troops, and a further 60,000 troops for the security services at the Interior Ministry, notably in the special and various police forces. A portion of these will join units that could be deployed beyond the Kingdom's borders.
In addition, approximately 1,000 new state-of-the-art combat tanks may be added to the Army, and the Air Force will see its capabilities significantly improve with the doubling of its high quality combat airplanes to about 500 advanced aircraft.
A massive new missile defense system is in the works. Finally, the two main fleets of the Navy will undergo extensive expansion and a complete refurbishment of existing assets.
As part of this new defense doctrine, the leadership has decided to meet the country's growing needs for new equipment by diversifying among American, European and Asian military suppliers.
Few countries are able to support such considerable military investment, but Saudi Arabia occupies a unique position in that it has sufficient reserves and revenues to carry out the above plans, while also funding vital domestic social programs.
With 25 percent of the world's oil reserves and over 70 percent of global spare capacity, current projections for the next five years estimate that the Kingdom will earn on average about $250 billion in oil revenue per year (for 2011, the projection is almost $300 billion). In addition, the Kingdom has approximately $550 billion in foreign reserves, a sum it plans to steadily increase.
To maintain current oil export levels while at the same time fulfilling its growing domestic energy needs, the government is investing heavily in solar technology, and will spend more than $100 billion to build at least 16 nuclear power plants across the Kingdom.
Solar energy will fill the gap in the short term, satisfying some incremental domestic energy needs, and within a decade, plans call for nuclear power to play the leading role in augmenting oil as a source of domestic energy.
Thus, Saudi Arabia will be able to fuel the growth of its burgeoning economy without significantly reducing its oil exporting capability.
The Kingdom's more assertive policies are already apparent. It has provided Egypt $4 billion and Jordan $400 million (the latter could form the first installment of a much larger aid package that is being discussed).
Saudi Arabia is also leading the effort to improve regional collaboration by working to include Jordan and Morocco in a Saudi-centric Gulf Cooperation Council alliance.
In Yemen, it is spearheading diplomatic negotiations to effect a peaceful transition of power.
The Kingdom is the main supporter of Bahrain's monarchy, and will maintain a military presence there.
As Saudi Arabia grows more influential, initiatives such as these - which currently stretch from Morocco to Malaysia - will increase in number and reach, regardless of whether they meet with Western approval.
In Saudi Arabia, protests on the so-called "Day of Rage" predicted by pundits never materialized; the country remains stable and the leadership enjoys widespread support.
Those who are similarly skeptical about the Kingdom's ability to rise to its historic role as the indispensable regional power will again be proven wrong. The Saudi government will use its vast resources to steer the Arab world away from anarchy and unrealistic populist movements, and towards steady evolution in a manner that respects each country's unique culture and history.
The views expressed in this piece are solely those of Nawaf Obaid.
Despite the disclaimer at the end, we know that Nawaf Obaid has regular interactions with the highest levels of the Saudi government. Born of a Lebanese mother and Saudi father, Obaid has lived in Switzerland, where his mother resides, and studied in the United States. He holds degrees from Georgetown University, MIT and Harvard. His articles tend to be fairly accurate in terms of the positions taken by the Saudi government and are often prescient.

Nawaf's article DECODED:

  • They will back political political parties that are pro - Saudi in the Arab spring countries and if these parties come to power, the KSA government will back them to preserve a status quo. The KSA will do everything possible to preserve the status quo across the region and beyond (hence incorporating Jordan & Morocco) hence even supporting sunni monarchies such as Malaysia.
  • Interesting that he hints that the Saudi units "could" be deployed abroad. He is referring to the Saudi Special Forces and specifically we believe he is hinting at deployment in either Lebanon (to cut off Hezbollah) or possibly in Iraq to defend the sunni tribes. Cheney had proposed deploying sunni troops in sunni provinces of Iraq such as Al Anbar back in 2006.

  • Mentioning the specific Saudi plans to expand tanks, air force and army is a further confirmation that Saudi's will protect their own interests with minimal help of the US Security agreement. The emergence of a muslim brotherhood dominated Egyptian government is likely to be seen as a threat by the KSA government and particularly an egypt that is renewing diplomatic links with Iran. Therefore, the new air force/Naval purchases and expansion will be so that KSA can deal with a 2/3 front war (Red sea, arabian gulf, Iraqi borders).
  • Tier 1 and 2 (high tech equipment such as Aircraft or Electronic warfare equipment) purchases will be from US/EU defence firms with some Russian systems, but Tier 3 equipment will be purchased from possibly China or India or maybe Russia.
  • Saudi aid to Jordan is an incentive for Jordan to join the GCC. Once Jordan joins the GCC, it will be able to take advantage of larger aid packages.
  • The article hints that KSA is likely to build a permanent base in Bahrain.
  • The last paragraph reaffirms that KSA will do everything to prevent further pro-democracy movements in the region.

    We'd also add that KSA will have to train up a vast number of Saudi defence personell, as it currently relies mainly on deputed Egyptian and Pakistani officers to man aircraft/naval vessels. The large increase in defence assets would also mean that more such officers will be brought in termporarily from Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and other countries until Saudi officers are able to take over. This further re-affirms the position of Pakistan as a strategic partner to KSA.

    Meanwhile, the Iranian government hasn't sat back to these latest developments. Stay tuned for the next post which will detail the Iranian response!

    Feel free to post a comment or email us your views at eye.on.middleeast "At" Gmail "dot" com.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Regional Update

    Hi Folks!

    The Editor has been busy monitoring the news, holidaying in various locations in the med.

    First Stop: KSA and the US relations.

    This is a must read article on the US - Saudi split in relations.

    Amid the Arab Spring, a U.S.-Saudi split

    By Nawaf Obaid, Published: May 16

    A tectonic shift has occurred in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Despite significant pressure from the Obama administration to remain on the sidelines, Saudi leaders sent troops into Manama in March to defend Bahrain’s monarchy and quell the unrest that has shaken that country since February. For more than 60 years, Saudi Arabia has been bound by an unwritten bargain: oil for security. Riyadh has often protested but ultimately acquiesced to what it saw as misguided U.S. policies. But American missteps in the region since Sept. 11, an ill-conceived response to the Arab protest movements and an unconscionable refusal to hold Israel accountable for its illegal settlement building have brought this arrangement to an end. As the Saudis recalibrate the partnership, Riyadh intends to pursue a much more assertive foreign policy, at times conflicting with American interests.
    The backdrop for this change are the rise of Iranian meddling in the region and the counterproductive policies that the United States has pursued here since Sept. 11. The most significant blunder may have been the invasion of Iraq, which resulted in enormous loss of life and provided Iran an opening to expand its sphere of influence. For years, Iran’s leadership has aimed to foment discord while furthering its geopolitical ambitions. Tehran has long funded Hamas and Hezbollah; recently, its scope of attempted interference has broadened to include the affairs of Arab states from Yemen to Morocco. This month the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi, harshly criticized Riyadh over its intervention in Bahrain, claiming this act would spark massive domestic uprisings.
    Such remarks are based more on wishful thinking than fact, but Iran’s efforts to destabilize its neighbors are tireless. As Riyadh fights a cold war with Tehran, Washington has shown itself in recent months to be an unwilling and unreliable partner against this threat. The emerging political reality is a Saudi-led Arab world facing off against the aggression of Iran and its non-state proxies.
    Saudi Arabia will not allow the political unrest in the region to destabilize the Arab monarchies — the Gulf states, Jordan and Morocco. In Yemen, the Saudis are insisting on an orderly transition of power and a dignified exit for President Ali Abdullah Saleh (a courtesy that was not extended to Hosni Mubarak, despite the former Egyptian president’s many years as a strong U.S. ally). To facilitate this handover, Riyadh is leading a diplomatic effort under the auspices of the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council. In Iraq, the Saudi government will continue to pursue a hard-line stance against the Maliki government, which it regards as little more than an Iranian puppet. In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia will act to check the growth of Hezbollah and to ensure that this Iranian proxy does not dominate the country’s political life. Regarding the widespread upheaval in Syria, the Saudis will work to ensure that any potential transition to a post-Assad era is as peaceful and as free of Iranian meddling as possible.
    Regarding Israel, Riyadh is adamant that a just settlement, based on King Abdullah’s proposed peace plan, be implemented. This includes a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem. The United States has lost all credibility on this issue; after casting the sole vote in the U.N. Security Council against censuring Israel for its illegal settlement building, it can no longer act as an objective mediator. This act was a watershed in U.S.-Saudi relations, guaranteeing that Saudi leaders will not push for further compromise from the Palestinians, despite American pressure.
    Saudi Arabia remains strong and stable, lending muscle to its invigorated foreign policy. Spiritually, the kingdom plays a unique role for the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims — more than 1 billion of whom are Sunni — as the birthplace of Islam and home of the two holiest cities. Politically, its leaders enjoy broad domestic support, and a growing nationalism has knitted the historically tribal country more closely together. This is largely why widespread protests, much anticipated by Western media in March, never materialized. As the world’s sole energy superpower and the de facto central banker of the global energy markets, Riyadh is the economic powerhouse of the Middle East, representing 25 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the Arab world. The kingdom has amassed more than $550 billion in foreign reserves and is spending more than $150 billion to improve infrastructure, public education, social services and health care.
    To counter the threats posed by Iran and transnational terrorist networks, the Saudi leadership is authorizing more than $100 billion of additional military spending to modernize ground forces, upgrade naval capabilities and more. The kingdom is doubling its number of high-quality combat aircraft and adding 60,000 security personnel to the Interior Ministry forces. Plans are underway to create a “Special Forces Command,” based on the U.S. model, to unify the kingdom’s various special forces if needed for rapid deployment abroad.
    Saudi Arabia has the will and the means to meet its expanded global responsibilities. In some issues, such as counterterrorism and efforts to fight money laundering, the Saudis will continue to be a strong U.S. partner. In areas in which Saudi national security or strategic interests are at stake, the kingdom will pursue its own agenda. With Iran working tirelessly to dominate the region, the Muslim Brotherhood rising in Egypt and unrest on nearly every border, there is simply too much at stake for the kingdom to rely on a security policy written in Washington, which has backfired more often than not and spread instability. The special relationship may never be the same, but from this transformation a more stable and secure Middle East can be born.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research & Islamic Studies.

    I don't think I need to comment further as the article has spelt out clearly the current status of US-KSA  relations.


    Next Stop: GCC Integration with Jordan and Morocco.

    Readers have been emailing in asking why this has taken place? One word: Iran.

    With a possible clash with Iran over meddling in the GCC, KSA has decided to strengthen its alliances by adding Jordan and Morocco.

    The obvious meaning of this deal is that these countries will be automatically integrated with the GCC. GCC money will flow into both countries, thereby strengthening them economically. The lower cost labour will flow in and perhaps replace Asian labourers. This of course makes sense, as nations would rather have individuals who can easily integrate and have language and religious affinity (E.g. Poland integration into EU).

    The real reason in our opinion is, in the event of a faceoff with Iran, shia Iraq will be allied with Iran and MAY attack or work with Iran to fight Sunni GCC.

    During the Bahrain crisis, Muqtada Al Sadr had threatened to send shia tribesmen to the border with Kuwait and KSA to open a armed front in solidarity with so called peaceful protesters in Bahrain.  Therefore, to secure themselves Jordan and Morocco will be able to tie down Iraq and prevent Iraq from attacking Kuwait.

    Yes this does sound like the nuclear scenario, where borders may be redrawn on religious lines. But GCC can't afford to take chances if Iran continues its behaviour of meddling in internal affairs of other countries.

    This story further continues when we discuss Syria and Iran.


    Syria is facing a lot of protests. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) appears to be playing a small clandestine role against Bashar Al Assad. The KSA GID (General Intelligence Directorate) has established contacts with the MB via tribal networks. Saudi's are prepared to deal with sunni islamist MB to prevent any expansion to Iranian influence in the region and therefore corner Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    There are rumours afloat that KSA is funding and arming various groups via Jordan to defeat the Assad regime . This rumour also suggests that Prince Bandar bin Sultan (Former KSA Ambasador to the US) is running this operation from Jordan. The rumour was given further credence as Syria had closed of the Jordanian border and lately Syia has accussed Saudi of supporting Syrian terror cells.

    Jordan is a major front for most US intelligence operations and have worked together with the Saudi's  in Lebanon. So the accusation coming from Assad's government does make sense to this editor.

    80% of the population in Syria is sunni. So a sunni Syria may also be a potent deterent against any potential moves of Iran and Iraq against Sunni GCC.

    Iran: Ahmadinejad - Khamanei spat

    To justify Ahmadinejad's decision to sack the minister for intelligence Haidar Moslehi, in a meeting with Iranian supreme leader, Ahmadinejad complained of recent failures to take advantage of protests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    In Kuwait, various iranian spy networks have been dismantled and diplomats expelled. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security was reduced to organising protests outside the KSA embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashaad.

    These were the main reasons why Ahmadinejad and Khamanei had a fall out. Khamanei wanted to keep Moslehi due to upcoming elections and various other reasons.

    This further confirms that Iran did attempt to capitalise on protests in Bahrain and KSA.


    Thats all for now folks. Feel free to post a comment or email us your views at eye.on.middleeast "At" Gmail "dot" com.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    The GCC – Pakistan Relationship

    The GCC – Pakistan Relationship

    Pakistan and GCC countries enjoy close bilateral relations. Although all GCC nations have fairly close relations with Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) stands out as having the closest relations with Pakistan. Successive Saudi leaders have visited Pakistan from time to time. King Saud visited Pakistan in 1954, King Faisal in 1966 and 1974. King Khalid in 1976. Similarly, King Fahd as Crown Prince visited Pakistan in 1980 and King Abdullah went to Pakistan as Crown Prince in 1984, 1997, 1998 and 2003.

    What are the Fundamentals of this relationship?
    What keeps the bonds strong is the significant economic aid that Pakistan enjoys, dynasties in the Arabian Gulf enjoy protection from the Pakistani military and lastly religious affinity.

    Economic Aid

    The First and foremost problem with Pakistan is that, it is a country that survives on economic aid to sustain the functioning of the country. If it were not for this aid, Pakistan would be close to economic collapse as was seen in the balance of payments crisis in 2008[1]. The 2 major contributors to this are the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Other GCC countries also contribute to the coffers of the Pakistani government, but none to the tune of KSA. The United States since 9/11 have contributed close to $17 billion in aid to Pakistan according to statistics[2] recently published. In late 2009, the US congress agreed to a package of $7.5 billion in civil aid over 5 years as well as an additional $2billion in military aid agreed in October 2010[3]. There are no public figures to aid offered by KSA however; many have mentioned that contributions are significant – for example when oil prices reached their peak of $147, the Pakistani government had received a $300million grant from KSA in order to provide a budgetary cushion (in order to fill the fiscal gap) to the high oil prices.

    In May 1998 when Pakistan was deciding whether to respond to India’s test of five nuclear weapons, the Saudis promised 50,000 barrels per day of free oil to help the Pakistanis cope with the economic sanctions that might be triggered by a counter test. The Saudi oil commitment was a key to then Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif’s decision to proceed with testing. It cushioned the subsequent U.S. and EU sanctions on Pakistan considerably[4]. The post-1998 economic support by KSA was maintained for 3 years with deferred payments which were written off at the end of the term. In early 2008, they again agreed to deferred payments.

    As one can see, Pakistan's corrupt and security-phobic mindset squanders away its finances without investing in developmental activities and is hence highly reliant on economic aid from the US and the KSA in particular. Pakistan greatly relies on the support provided by the KSA in order to survive. Pakistan spends more money on military expenditure (estimated to be $5billion, of course Pakistan receives aid in addition to this which mostly is military[5]) than education (estimated to be just 2.2% of GDP – i.e. $3 billion).

    Military Relations

    One of the major components to the Pakistani – GCC relations is military cooperation. Due to the economic situation of Pakistan, Pakistan has relied on other nations footing the bill for defence requirements. Most of the Pakistani defence requirements are provided under the guise of military aid to combat terror. However, it is acknowledged that much of the military aid is actually being diverted to being used to fund weapons purchases in order to be used against India - Former president Pervez Musharraf admitted that US military aid given to Pakistan during his tenure was used to strengthen defences against India[6].

    What about cooperation between Pakistan and the GCC?

    Pakistan has provided military aid and expertise to the kingdom for decades. It began with help to the Royal Saudi Air Force to build and pilot its first jet fighters in the 1960s. Pakistani Air Force pilots flew RSAF Lightning’s that repulsed a South Yemeni incursion into the kingdom’s southern border in 1969. In the 1970s and 1980s up to 15,000 Pakistani troops were stationed in the kingdom[7].

    As recently as late 2009/early 2010, during the Saudi conflict with the Houthi rebels, Pakistani forces had been deployed. This author understands that Pakistani Air Force pilots were operating missions in support of Saudi forces fighting the Houthi rebels. Some unverified sources have suggested that the Pakistani Air Force were paid per mission undertaken in the conflict.

    During the visit of Assistant Defence Minister of KSA Prince Khaled bin Sultan to Pakistan in 2004, a tighter military cooperation was made between the 2 countries[8]. For the first time a discreet visit to Kahuta was also made. Kahuta is home to Khan Research Laboratories which houses Pakistani nuclear arms facilities.

    Here are some highlights of the defence relations between the 2 countries:
    -         Increase in training of the number of Saudi nuclear physicists at KRL, Kahuta[9]
    -         Support Pakistani defence industry by purchasing Al Khalid tanks and offering sub-contractor work for the $7billion Saudi MIKSA border protection program to Pakistani government contractors.
    -         Stationing of a 1000 pakistani soldiers in KSA, with the option to increase to 80,000 in the event of a major conflict.
    -         A joint military Command in Saudi Arabia with pre-positioned arms dumps.
    -         Possible integration with the Peninsula Shield in Hafr Al Bateen along with allied states such as Egypt.
    -         Saudi pilots will travel to Rawalpindi for training along with Pakistani Air Force pilots.
    -         There are persistant rumours that Pakistan acted as a conduit for nuclear capable missiles to Saudi Arabia.

    Any close watchers of the region can see that Pakistan co-ordinates military purchases closely with the GCC. It is also a well known fact that Pakistani defence purchases are partly paid for by the KSA. Purchase of French Agosta submarines as well as US F-16D’s were some of the examples. This is done so that the GCC can call upon the services of the Pakistani armed forces when needed.

    The author understands that Riyadh relies on Pakistani personnel to fill in gaps in personnel in the Saudi military – mainly the Air Force which flies similar aircraft to the Pakistani Air Force. The agreement is that in exchange for bankrolling Pakistani purchases of defence equipment, in return Pakistan provides some of its more experienced pilots/naval officers to be seconded to the Saudi military.

    The Downsides to relations with Pakistan

    It is apparent today that most major terror plots involve Pakistan in some way or form – usually training and other support. Muscat was made the target of attacks in 2007. Lashkar sympathisers in Oman had plans of targeting prominent landmarks in Muscat, among them a British Broadcasting Corporation office, the Golden Tulip Hotel, and a spa in the upmarket Nizwa area. No final operational plans were made, but Oman authorities found enough evidence to sentence suspects to life in prison.

    For further info on the planned attacks in Oman and how Omani and Indian investigators worked together on the Mumbai Attacks please read:

    Members of the AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) are also known to be very active in the Af-Pak region and evidence suggests that these individuals receive support from the Pakistani ISI (Inter Services Intelligence). It is also noteworthy to remember that the head of the Al Qaeda’s military wing Brigade 313 is Ilyas Kashmiri – A former member of the Pakistani Army’s Special Services Group (SSG). A well known fact is that the Pakistani army is known to use the services of ex-servicemen for supporting jihadi/terror activities targeting India and ISAF troops (of which Bahrain and the UAE militaries also have a presence) in Afghanistan[10].

    It is also not a coincidence that the Saudi ministry of interior recently released names of 47 most wanted terrorists, of which the majority (27) were located in the Af-Pak region. Majority of these leaders are likely to be living under protection of Taliban and their allies such as the Haqqani network. Many of these groups are armed and trained by the Pakistani military. It is also well acknowledged that the Taliban and its leadership are under the control of the ISI[11]. A question GCC security officials need to ask themselves is, is it worth supporting a nation that continues to harbor/support individuals that are trying to topple their governments?

    The GCC officials should also be reminded that one of the gravest threats they face today – the Iranian nuclear threat - was caused directly by Pakistan. Evidence has emerged that the “father of the Pakistani bomb” Abdul Qadeer Khan had sold equipment/know how in his nuclear black market to Iran[12]. There are also indications that AQ Khan was aided and abetted by Senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials. In fact AQ Khan himself claimed that Musharraf was aware of the nuclear black market trade and approved deals[13].

    It’s no secret that GCC officials are worried about the threat emanating from Iran as we have all read in the wikileaks episode. Again, the question needs to be asked, Is this the partner that GCC wishes to rely upon for its security?

    Why is this relevant today?

    Many analysts have completely missed the significance of recent high level visits from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to Pakistan. Prince Bandar (A royal emissary for HM King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia) had visited senior leaders in Pakistan including the Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani. Sources have confirmed that Prince Bandar is said to have requested Pakistani troops to be deployed if the internal unrest continues in Yemen, Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
    The Foreign Minister of Bahrain HRH Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa also paid a visit to Islamabad shortly after Prince Bandar had departed for New Delhi [14]. We expect similar discussions on security coordination to have taken place.


    Pakistan army is being utilized as cannon fodder or mercenaries for the Gulf Kingdoms, in return Pakistan gains significant economic support that it requires for its very survival. How long will this relationship continue and also how reliable is this support if Pakistan continues to harbour or indirectly/directly support the AQAP as well as a Nuclear Iran? Is it time for the GCC to start imposing conditions on Pakistan for its continued aid?  

    I leave you with a quote from the book (My Life with the Taliban) of Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Taliban regimes Ambassador to Pakistan:

    Pakistan, which plays a key role in Asia, is so famous for treachery that it is said they can get milk from a bull. They have two tongues in one mouth, and two faces on one head so they can speak everybody’s language; they use everybody, deceive everybody. They deceive the Arabs under the guise of Islamic nuclear power, they milk America and Europe in the alliance against terrorism, and they have been deceiving Pakistani and other Muslims around the world in the name of the Kashmiri jihad.”

    [1] Pakistan said Saturday it had agreed to borrow $7.6 billion from the International Monetary Fund
    [8] Data Source
    [9] Data Source
    [10] Taliban leader killed by SAS was a Pakistani Army officer

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Quick Update: Libya, Syria + GCC

    Hi Folks!

    Here is a short update on Libya as well as the GCC.

    British Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon aircraft taxi at Gioia Dell Colle Air Base, in Italy March 22, 2011


    • We expect to see more coalition strikes on Gaddafi's armed forces. In particular we expect Libyan tanks and other artillery equipment to be destroyed over the next few days.
    • If a settlement is to be agreed, we expect the country to be split into 2 - Tripolitania and Cyrenica. Where Gaddafi will retain control of the West (Tripolitania) with the rebels holding the East (Cyrenica).
    • The person running the rebellion is Gaddafi's former interior minister Younis Al Obaidi, who is backed by a few military officers.
    • One of the officers backing Obaidi is supposedly close to the US pentagon. As the WSJ had reported the Libyan National Council can rely on arms supplies coming from over the border in Egypt that is indeed partly financed by the KSA.
    • Obaidi's aim is to recapture Adjdabia from the Gaddafi forces, since the western coalition air force is taking out any Gaddafi forces on the main highways. Once this is complete, we believe he will head for the coastal oil transportation hubs - especially Ras Lanouf ( a site of a major oil export terminal). 
    • Capture of these oil export terminals would mean oil revenues and hence greater viability of the state of Cyrenica. Establishing a state of Cyrenaica is the minimum the rebels aim to achieve at the moment.
    • A problem Obaidi is facing is that the force is filled with enthusiastic civilians who have very little military training. 
    • Meanwhile Gaddafi is aiming to grab Zintan and Misrata as well as other Western towns. These cities would be important to be able to stabilise the Tripolitania region.
    • We expect additional political appointments to be made over the coming week - we strongly expect Ali Issawi (the former Ambassador to India) to be given a very senior posting - either in Foreign Affairs or Economy.
    • We believe most western capitals are now debating on the end game in Libya - as in what the west hopes to achieve in Libya. Also at what point do they cease military operations.


    Soldiers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces guard the entrance to the Pearl Square from their armoured vehicles in Manama, March 19, 2011.

    KUWAIT CITY — Arab states in the Gulf plan to deport thousands of Lebanese Shiites over their alleged links to Hezbollah and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard force, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Thursday.
    Al-Seyassah, quoting London-based Arab diplomatic sources, said the measure was being considered because of intelligence reports that Lebanese Shiites activists had been involved in protests in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
    Based on the assessments by the United States, France and Bahrain, alleged Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard agents were leading the protests along with local Shiite clerics in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, it said.
    It said Bahrain's decision to suspend flights to Iran, Iraq and Lebanon and its condemnation of remarks by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had "paved the way for the deportation of thousands of Lebanese Shiites from the Gulf."
    "No Lebanese Shiite linked to or suspected of being associated with Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards will remain in the Gulf," the diplomatic sources said, citing high-ranking Bahraini officials.
    Bahrain is preparing to deport 90 Lebanese Shiites, most of them arrested during the Shiite-led, pro-democracy in the kingdom, and is examining the status of 4,000 Lebanese families living in the Gulf kingdom, the sources said.
    Last week, Bahraini authorities carried out a bloody crackdown on the protesters who have been demanding political reforms since February 14 in the tiny Shiite-majority, Sunni-ruled kingdom.
    The crackdown came hours after a Saudi-led joint Gulf force rolled into Bahrain to back up the regime, a move condemned by Shiite Iran and the head of Lebanon's Shiite militant Hezbollah who has offered to help the demonstrators.
    On top of the suspension of flights to Beirut by its two national carriers, Manama has advised Bahraini citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, a popular destination for wealthy Gulf Arabs.
    "Due to threats and interference by terrorists," the Bahraini foreign ministry said on Tuesday it "warns and advises its citizens not to travel to the Republic of Lebanon as they might face dangers threatening their safety."

    Bahrain and KSA have pointed the finger at Iran for the unrests that have taken place over the last few weeks. This is evident by HM King Hamad's speeches of an external hand in the protests and also by the expulsion of diplomats between Iran and Bahrian.

    The expulsion of Lebanese nationals appears solely directed at Iran and Iranian interests. The MOIS (Iranian Ministry of Intelligence Servies) and IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) are known to use Lebanese nationals for their operations in the GCC. This article suggests that several individuals appear to have been caught taking part in protests.

    The expulsions of Lebanese individuals linked to the Hezbollah will serve to heighten the tensions between Iran and also to protect the KSA and Bahrain from any potential Iranian involvement in any unrest or future protests.

     Due to the large Lebanese community in Bahrain, any expulsion may also serve as a sanctioning of the Hezbollah led Lebanese government. We see this similar to the sanctioning of the Hamas government in Gaza by the EU after winning the democratic led elections. However for this to be truly effective, it would require a GCC wide expulsion of Lebanese individuals - the article above does suggest that there may be a GCC wide expulsion and we agree that a GCC wide expulsion may take place. There have been reports in late 2010 of expulsion of Hezbollah supporters from the UAE, so this would not be the first time that a Gulf state has taken action against lebanese expatriates in the Gulf.

    Iran has making its own moves recently, by allowing Iraqi shi'ite political parties to form an alliance against the "KSA intervention" in Bahrain. This alliance has threatened to open a front (by sending shia tribes to the border) in the KSA/Iraq border in solidarity with the Bahraini shia.


    In light of the major protests in Syria. This has caused serious worries of instability in neighbouring Iraq - across all parts of the country. Therefore, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad have struck an agreement to provide for security of all northern iraqi oil fields.

    It appears that there is a heightened risk of serious instability all over Iraq as a result of a protests in Syria. We expect tightening of the border security between Syria and Iraq over the next few days in order to prevent any instability spreading into Iraq.


    Thank you for reading. Feel free to email us any questions you have to eye.on.middleeast "at" gmail "dot" com.