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.

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