Saturday, February 19, 2011

Arab Unrest - Quick Update


Anyone who read my previous post about Washington's message to the Egyptian leadership would have been surprised at how things did turn out.

Our prediction is that the military may not hold elections in 6 months time, contrary to what the junta are saying in Public. The military prefers to maintain control of the economy as it remains heavily invested. Initial reports appear that arrests of the previous ministers who were pro-economic liberalization have taken place. There appears to be a socialist slant towards comments being made by the military leaders.

The Egyptian military wants to protect its interests and therefore we believe that it is unlikely that the junta will go after Mubarak's money as this may show the level of involvement of the Egyptian military as well as several high profile individuals from around the world (including Israeli's).

We also think that if there is democracy to be established, there would be 2 possible models:

Turkish: Islamists and liberals allied with a strong military. This is what the people of Egypt desire.

Moroccan/Pakistani:  Free parliament, elections, but ultimate control of security issues is directly with King/Kayani/Egyptian Army.

The decision on direction may take a long time to play out (possibly greater than 6 months). Its clear to us that the military do not want to see a Turkish situation where the senior generals have been placed under arrest for attempts at coup. Therefore, the Egyptian military is interested in protecting its political power and obtain immunity from any arrests, but retain the power to intervene politically when it feels the need to do so (much like Pakistan).


Well many would have seen the protests that are currently taking place in Bahrain.

 I think that the Bahrain situation is being fanned by the western media. There is a lot of anti-government propaganda by  well respected journalists such as Nick Kristof from the NY Times. There are currently petitions being circulated against this journalist.

We at Eye on the Middle East believe that the Bahrain monarchy WILL NOT FALL! This is based largely on comments made by the mainstream opposition (Al Wefaq and others) parties. There are some calls to remove the Al Khalifa dynasty but this is not widely echoed by protestors, in fact, most anti government protestors just want economic reform more than the political reform.

The Crown Prince has appeared on CNN earlier today, which is a great idea to explain to the world at large the views of the government of Bahrain. See Link 

Why were the BDF (Bahrain Defense Force) deployed?  From what we see, the BDF was deployed to protect national infrastructure such as oil infrastructure and parts of the city as a show of force. We have heard that the Saudi's had asked Bahrain if they require any extra forces, however HM King Hamad had decided not to use force against the protestors.

The BDF were deployed because the Bahrain NSA had most likely received intelligence that Iranian backed movements had decided now is their time to launch their civil disobedience movement which would want to damage infrastructure.

For many years, the Bahraini security services have watched individuals travel to Qom (Iran) for religious training and then onwards for training with IRGC & Ministry of Intelligence Service on basic intelligence gathering skills, Civil disobedience movements and arms training. We have learned via sources that the Iran backed elements were split into 2 groups, people that wanted to act now and others who preferred to use these tactics only in the event of a major conflict with Iran.

Lets not confuse these Iran backed elements with normal protestors who were out there to ask for political and economic reforms. The vast majority of protestors want this, but sadly the trouble makers attempted to take advantage of the situation.

Another major reason to deploy the BDF was to prevent any clashes breaking out between pro and anti government protestors. The seriousness of the incidents could have sparked a civil war in Bahrain. Thankfully, none of this happened.

There have been more trade union strikes that have been called for Sunday 19th and Monday 20th February.

It does appear many opposition parties have agreed to dialogue with HH Crown Prince Salman earlier today and the removal of the BDF from the streets of Manama was seen as a positive step. The Crown Prince has attempted to defuse the situation and hinted at an economic package being delivered to all Bahraini citizens. So, the editor believes that this situation will be resolved relatively soon.


Meanwhile, early reports suggest Libya will be the next domino to fall. Reports are streaming through mainstream media that the Eastern part of Libya (Bengazi in particular) is now completely under the control of the people! It does appear that many have lost their lives.


Sultan Qaboos has cancelled his month long visit to India due to the prevailing situation in the Middle East.

It is important to note that Indian and Omani forces are due to conduct a major military exercise next month.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Egypt plus Oman - UAE Spy Issue - Update

This will be a quick update:

The editor has been watching the Egyptian events unfold. Yesterday, Egyptian President has agreed not to stand for re-election and neither will his son Gamal Mubarak be allowed to do so. Similar statement also came out from Yemen's president.

From what we are told Ambassador Frank Wisner travelled to Cairo and met with Mohammed El Baradei first. After this meeting, he has met senior Egyptian officials to convey messages from the White House. The white house wanted Mubarak to step down immediately and allow the Army to control Egypt during the transition period until elections in 2011. We believe that this is so that the US and Israel are given enough time to decide the best course of action. Israel was infact, against the decision to ask Mubarak to step down, they see Mubarak as a guarantor to the 1979 Camp David accord. US and Israel must be increasingly interested in seeing Omar Suleiman stay on. 

We feel that it was unlikely that Mubarak would have wanted to stay on as President anyway, in light of his health condition. Mubarak wanted to pass on the presidency to his son Gamal in the previous elections. 

Iran's position

The editor does not doubt that Iran will attempt to increase its influence in Egypt. Iran must already be making plans for action such as approaching members of parliament who are considered to be pro-Iranian. Iran will try its best to expand influence and perhaps fund election expenses for pro-Iranian members (or parties) to be elected into Parliament. This would naturally draw GCC into this quest for influence over Egypt. We expect to see a similar situation to Lebanon where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent a huge amount of money (rumours state that these are around a $1billion) on helping Saad Harriri become re-elected. As it stands, Israel appears to be the most worried of the situation, and as much as the GCC, it may be Israel that will step in to help a pro-Israeli party to be elected.

Saudi Arabia was not shy to protect its interests in the current Egyptian unrest. Reports have been received that King Abdullah had set up a team comprising of Security and Military officials to keep an eye on the situation in Egypt. If the situation was to further deteriorate, it would have seen KSA send in troops to take any US made equipment. The editor feels that this is to protect KSA from having these weapons be used against them.

The Future

We at the blog see it as imperative for US and Israel to continue to back Omar Suleiman, who is seen as a man that Israel and the West can do business with. Omar Suleiman handles numerous complicated issues on behalf of the Mubarak regime - especially the Palestine file. Naturally this see's Omar Suleiman making regular trips to Tel Aviv. 

Oman and UAE Spy Issue

Oman uncovers 'spy network but UAE denies any link

The authorities in Oman say they have uncovered a network of spies working for the United Arab Emirates, according to the state news agency.
The alleged agents for the UAE are said to have spied on the Omani government and military.
The UAE government denies any knowledge of - or link with - such a network, according to its news agency.
The neighbouring countries are members of the Gulf Co-operation Council and normally enjoy good relations.
Government sources in Oman say the ring was discovered some months ago and that a number of Omani nationals have been arrested.
The spies may have been interested in the issue of the succession of Oman's Sultan Qaboos, according to a security official quoted by the Agence France-Presse news agency.
The sultan is 70 years old and does not have children.
But others suggested the alleged spy ring could be more related to regional politics.
"One possibility is that the UAE wants to know more about Iran-Oman relations because of Tehran and Muscat's long ties in security and military co-operation," Theodore Karasik, from the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told Reuters news agency.
Oman has close relations with Iran, partly because the two countries are joint gatekeepers of the Strait of Hormuz, the route for 40% of the world's oil tanker traffic.
But the sultanate also has strong military and diplomatic ties with the West.
The UAE is a staunch ally of the United States.
UAE authorities received the news with "shock and surprise" according to the Wam news agency.
"The UAE expresses its full willingness to co-operate with... Oman in any investigations that it carries out in full transparency to uncover (those) who try to mar relations between the two countries," said a foreign ministry statement.

Editor can reveal that the spies arrested were working for the UAE State Security services under the control of Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The target appears to be senior members of the government, specifically members who appeared to be too close to Iran. The members infiltrated the Cabinet, military and the ISS (Internal Security Service). Rumours circulating appear to place the number of people arrested at 15. 

Abu Dhabi and Omani intelligence officials have met several times since the arrests in order to discuss the issue, but talks appear to have broken down. Hence the release using the official Oman News Agency. 

HM Sultan Qaboos had refused to travel to the GCC Summit held in Abu Dhabi, this was indeed due to learning of the arrests of the spies. 

It is no secret that several members of the cabinet including the Foreign minister are favouring increasing political, economic and military ties with Iran. This may have been the reason why the Emirati's had decided to increase intelligence gathering in Oman.

The retaliation from the UAE have included sending back several senior Omani army officers serving in Emirati ranks (as is common in the GCC military's). Oman suspects that several of these officers will continue to stay in touch with Emirati intelligence.

Thanks for reading.