Wednesday, March 2, 2011

MENA Region - Quick Update

Editor has not been sleeping and is watching the current events unfold.

First Stop: Libya

Many are wondering what is going on in Libya. We'll make this simple.
The eastern side of Libya is currently held by "rebels". These rebels are essentially members of the armed forces of Libya and the people.

Do we see them winning? Nope. We do not. As long as Gaddafi continues to control the Airspace,
he may continue to bring in troops/Mercenaries from Niger, Chad, Syria etc. Yes that's right Syria is not a typo, Syria is showing solidarity with Libya and in the event of a full scale war, Syria will send their pilots to fly on behalf of the Libyan Air Force.

We believe that the western intelligence agencies are busy on the ground in Libya, trying to organise the rebel movement and of course evacuate their nationals. So far the french and british have delivered "aid" and weapons to the rebels.

Rebel soldiers teach civilians who have volunteered to join the rebel army at a school in Benghazi March 2, 2011. The rebel army is preparing to fight Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces if necessary, an official in the rebel army said.

Talks of no-fly zone are just that - talk, at the moment. Its something that is too difficult to impose as it would involve a US/western intervention and bombing spree. The current economic/political climate in the EU and the US does not allow for this - which is evidenced by Secretary of Defence Gates comments in the last few days.

No one appears to be covering the damage that the current crisis is going to cause the Spanish economy, which would feed into the EU economies. 

So in summary: We do not see an intervention by the West at this juncture. Rebels are slowly losing territory to Gaddafi's military evidenced by re-gaining Al Bayda today. Unless, the west enforces a no fly zone via Egypt etc anti-government forces will get over run.

We'd also like to point out that there is a heavy propaganda going on here by the west. Good quality information is particularly hard to receive at the moment.

Shades of Saddam here. By no means is this over yet - this war may continue for a while.

Next Stop: Bahrain

The process of national dialogue has begun by Crown Prince Sheikh Salman, the PM and Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad (HM King Hamad's son playing a limited role).

The opposition party Wefaq and Haq have met and are discussing their position on the issue. To date it appears they have agreed on certain issues and have had some disagreements. It is not clear what each's position is on asking for a constitutional monarchy.

The author commends the Crown Prince's call for dialogue. It is clear that others have copied this process/idea -> President Saleh (Yemen), Saif Al Gaddafi (Libya) are doing similar things.

The talk of the town was Bahraini King Sheikh Hamad visiting Riyadh to receive King Abdullah of KSA in Riyadh last week.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Sultan (R) smiles with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa as they welcome the arrival of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, in Riyadh February 23, 2011.
King Abdullah got straight to business after landing. He had to deal with the Bahrain issue and also internal family issues that needed sorting out.

Regarding Bahrain, King Abdullah affirmed support to Bahrain and to the royal family. He told King Hamad that he supports the dialogue process initiated by the Crown Prince. They both agreed that using violence by the police or military is not the answer as it will eventually help Iran. King Abdullah also said that there are 3,000 Saudi troops stationed in the east that are on alert and are ready to help support the BDF (Bahrain Defence Force). Saudi officers are present already in Bahrain to help with any coordination, in the event of a crisis.


Protests have taken place in an industrial city of Sohar and troops have been deployed. We are monitoring this situation closely.

This is not an anti-monarchy protest. The people are in support of Sultan Qaboos, however they are not happy with the government ministers, whom they accuse of corruption. It is also about jobs for the unemployed and so on. We expect the protestors demands to be met to a certain extent and this will probably go away in a matter of days.

India and GCC

Prince Turki Al Faisal will be in New Delhi on the eve of the first Joint Indo-Saudi military exercises in India.

Omani troops are also expected to come to India for a massive Air, Sea and Land exercise in India this month.

Army Chief to visit US Centcom HQ

The India-US military relationship is set for a qualitative leap with the first ever visit of an Indian Army Chief to the headquarters of the US Central Command (Centcom), which has charge of Af-Pak, the Middle East and Iraq.

Gen. V K Singh will visit the Tampa, Florida-based Command in his 10-day trip to the US between March 6 and 15 with an aim to set up a Brigadier-level direct liaison with the Indian Army. India liaises only with the US Pacific Command, and having a liaison officer in Tampa will signal a recognition of Indian interests in the arc from the Gulf of Aden to the Straits of Malacca, government sources said.

The Centcom liaison and acquisition of M777 ultralight howitzers will figure in the bilateral Defence Policy Group meeting, for which a high-level delegation led by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar is going to Washington on March 1. Sources said Gen. Singh will meet Centcom Commander Gen. James Mattis on March 8 to discuss the situation in Af-Pak, the Arab world and Iraq. Gen. Singh will also hold talks with his US counterpart Gen. George W Casey Jr.


Watch this space!

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

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