Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Egypt Rejects Hamas’ Request for Haniyeh to Travel

Palestine Chronicle | July 12, 2019

Egypt has rejected a request by Hamas to allow the head of its political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, to travel to a number of countries including Iran, Turkey, Qatar, and Russia.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported Egyptian sources as saying that after postponing its response, Cairo finally rejected it saying that regional and security conditions do not allow for Haniyeh to travel.

The news site quoted a Hamas source as saying:

“It is clear that Egypt completely objects to Haniyeh’s foreign tour, in protest against the countries which he will visit.”

The source pointed out that Hamas has decided that Mousa Abu Marzouk will head the movement’s delegation to Moscow next week to discuss the Palestinian reconciliation file among other issues.

The source added that the visit has been postponed more than once in the hope that Egypt would allow Haniyeh to travel.

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli ‘solution’ for Gaza includes massive military offensive and move to Sinai

MEMO | July 1, 2019

Two Israeli officials have proposed a “solution” for the Gaza Strip which includes another massive military offensive against the enclave and moving the Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Arabi21.com reported on Sunday. The end of the government led by Mahmoud Abbas is also suggested in a report published by the Jerusalem Institute for Public and State Affairs.

The purpose of the proposal is to make the humanitarian crisis in Gaza even worse, prompting a military confrontation. Its authors are Shimon Shapira, a former military secretary to Israel’s Prime Minister, and Shlomi Fogel, an official who has proposed numerous initiatives related to the Arab world. The phase which would follow the offensive would be based on economic and commercial development for Sinai backed by Egypt.

According to Shapira and Fogel, Gaza is still a crisis issue for Israel and the international community. They refer to a report issued by the International Bank in 2018 which said that Gaza’s economy is failing.

Saving Gaza will not be easy, the report claims, because Hamas, which controls Gaza, is seen by the US, EU and Israel as a “terrorist group”, while its ideological parent, the Muslim Brotherhood, is also regarded as a “terrorist” movement by a number of Arab states. Furthermore, the Gaza Strip and its residents have faced three massive Israeli military offensives against the largely civilian population since Hamas won the last Palestinian elections in 2006 and took full control of the coastal territory a year later.

The report describes the failure to deal with Gaza as a “ticking bomb”, not only for Israel, but also for the other countries in the region, including Egypt. It suggests an international aid package for Egypt coming mainly from the US and Gulf States to develop the infrastructure in Sinai. This, it is proposed, will help Egyptian workers by giving them work and improving their life, and will, it is believed, deter them from joining Daesh or attacking the Egyptian army. Workers from Gaza will also benefit.

As well as developing the port at El-Arish, Shapira and Fogel suggest the building of an airport for goods and passenger transport, as well as a new power plant run on Egyptian natural gas, a desalination plant and a railway from Gaza to the North Sinai coastal city.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Egypt’s NileSat halts broadcast of Press TV, other Iranian channels: Saudi media

Press TV – June 25, 2019

Saudi media say Egyptian-owned satellite firm NileSat has halted the broadcast of three Iranian TV channels, including English-language Press TV news network, in yet another attack on media freedom.

The Arabic-language Saudi daily newspaper Okaz, citing an informed source, said Sunday that the regional satellite provider halted the broadcast of Press TV as well as entertainment and movie channels of iFilm in English and Arabic languages.

Earlier, some informed sources had reported that Arab satellite companies had agreed to cancel their contracts with Iranian media outlets in the region.

The move by the Arab alliance was claimed to be a response to the networks’ “spread of rumors and creation of division.”

It is not the first time that Iranian television channels come under attacks by Arab and European satellite firms.

Egypt — a close Saudi ally — is party to a Riyadh-led coalition waging a bloody military campaign against Yemen. The Saudi regime and its allies are especially outraged by Iranian media’s wide coverage of the crimes being committed against Yemeni people, among other issues.

Since its launch in 2007, Press TV has been using a wide range of platforms, from TV broadcast and website to social media, to offer its audience a fresh view of world news, with a focus on developments in the Middle East’s conflict zones.

In April, Press TV’s verified YouTube account — along with the page of Iran’s Spanish-language Hispan TV — was blocked with no prior notice by tech giant Google.

The move came as the US stepped up its pressure campaign against Iran with the backing of Saudi Arabia and other repressive Persian Gulf Arab regimes. Washington is the main sponsor of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Economic Entrails at the Heart of the ‘Deal of the Century’

By Alastair Crooke | Strategic Culture Foundation | June 25, 2019

It is nothing new to say that the ‘Deal of the Century’ is – and always was – in essence an economic project. Indeed, it seems that its political ramifications are viewed by the White House as little more than the ineluctable consequences to an a priori economic architecture, already in the process of being unfolded.

In other words, it is the economic facts on the ground that are intended shape the political outcome — an attenuated political landscape that anyway has been minimised by Trump’s pre-emptive removal of key pieces of any Palestinian negotiating leverage.

The financial squeeze on the Palestinians is well attested. On the one hand, the Palestinian Authority (historically dependent on Saudi subvention) is gently slipping into bankruptcy; whilst Gaza is held in virtual abject dependency through the drip-feed of subventions channelled into Gaza by Qatar, with Israeli permission — the size of this latter monthly ‘lifeline’ subvention being carefully adjusted by Israel according to what it judges to be the norms of (generally Hamas) ‘good conduct’.

So, on the one hand there is the financial siege that is intended to make the Palestinians pliant to the ‘quality of life package’ which the ‘deal’ is supposed to bring — the Bahrain summit later this month being its shopfront. But there is another less well recognised side to the Deal which is summarised in the title to a McClatchy article entitled, White House sees Egyptian energy forum as a ‘roadmap to Middle East peace’.

In a later piece, McClatchy publishes the newly declassified map of the US East Mediterranean energy ‘roadmap’. And here the fuller picture becomes clear: the US sponsored ‘gas forum’, “according to three senior administration officials, that map [the] declassified one, obtained by McClatchy – has motivated members of the [US] National Security Council to prioritize the formation of a gas forum in the Eastern Mediterranean that would simultaneously boost and entangle the economies of several countries that have been at odds for decades”.

Well, let’s translate that little euphemism: ‘boost and entangle’. What that formula translates into is — the means to integrate Israel into the economic regional sphere is firstly, through energy. Yet, it is not intended to integrate Israel alone into this Egyptian economic sphere, but also to make Jordan, the PA (and maybe even Lebanon), too, partially dependent on Israeli energy – alongside putative partners, Italy, Greece, and (the Greek-linked part) of Cyprus — with the US offering to help flesh out the structure of the ‘gas forum’ with U.S. expertise.

This is the heart of ‘the deal’. Not just political normalisation for Israel into the region, but the making of economic dependency of the Egyptians, Palestinians, Jordanians (and possibly – but not so likely – Lebanon) on the US East-Med gas ‘hub’.

Source: McClatchy

And, inevitably there is a sub-plot to all this, (as McClatchy notes):

“On this front, the administration enjoys support from unlikely allies. Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee … said the Mediterranean gas forum project was a strategic opportunity for the U.S. to stymie Russian influence efforts over local energy resources. “I think that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and Russia can’t and should not be able to control the situation,” Engel stated”.

So, the US Administration is pursuing two bipartisan congressional efforts to ‘stymie’ Russia in the region: One is a bill promoting energy partnerships in the Eastern Mediterranean; and a parallel bill which threatens to sanction European firms supporting the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline taking Russian gas into Germany.

There are however, two obvious big ‘catches’ to this notion of both ‘stymying’ Russia, whilst simultaneously normalising Israel economically into the region. The first, as Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute notes, [is the notion that] the area’s underlying geology could help Europe offset, or even replace, its dependence on Russian gas “seems farfetched at the present level of discoveries. Several more giant fields like Leviathan or Egypt’s Zohr would have to be found before this reality changes”:

“The idea that East Mediterranean energy could impact on the European energy balance in such a way as to dent Russian market share is a fantasy – Europe’s thirst for gas is so huge, and Russia’s ability to provide that gas is so great, that it’s a wild dream to even hope we can achieve it given the limited reserves discovered thus far,” Henderson said. “Hoping you can find gas is not the same as finding gas”.

In short, an Egyptian ‘hub’ serving exports, might only ‘work’, as matters stand, through patching some of the smaller East-Med discoveries – together with a large Israeli contribution – through pipelines into the two Egyptian gas liquefying plants near Port Said and Alexandria. But LNG availability globally is high, prices are hugely competitive, and it is by no means certain that ‘the hub’ can be commercially viable.

And here is the main catch: Geo-politics. Anything aimed at integrating Israel into the region is bound to be sensitive. So, whilst US officials are optimistic about Egypt’s leadership of their ‘gas forum’ in the wake of President Sisi’s April meeting with Trump – Egypt – a mainstay to the separate US Iran confrontation plan – shortly afterward the visit, rather notably withdrew from the strategic military alliance the Trump administration was trying to build to confront Iran: The Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), to the consternation of US officials.

When it comes to energy deals, however, even having a treaty with Israel does not put an end to public sensitivities about rapprochement with Israel, Henderson notes. Notwithstanding any ‘peace treaty’, many Jordanians still oppose the prospect of using (Israeli) Leviathan gas to provide for large-scale electricity generation, beginning early next year. Amman has tried to deflect such anger by calling the supplies “northern gas” or “American gas”, emphasizing Noble’s role in producing it.

But here is the other side to the issue: Clearly, Egypt does not want to be a part of any anti-Iranian US-led alliance (MESA). But equally, why should Egypt – or Jordan, or for that matter, or any other member of the ‘gas forum’ – wish to be tightly aligned with an US anti-Russian strategy for the region? Egypt may have signed up to the US ‘gas hub’ project. But at the very same time, Egypt also was signing a $2 billion contract to buy more than twenty Russian Sukhoi SU-35 fighter aircraft. Do ‘hub’ members really judge an Egyptian ‘hub’ to be a rival to Russian gas in Europe?

Probably not: For ultimately, the idea that a putative energy hub can ‘stymie Russia’ indeed is fantasy. The EU shows, for example, no particular interest in the US supported $7 billion mooted pipeline linking the eastern Mediterranean through Cyprus, to Greece. The undersea terrain is too problematic, and the cost too high.

Israel too, hopes to find more gas (of course). But the deadline for bids on nineteen of its offshore blocks has been pushed back to mid-August – seemingly reflecting a lack of investor interest. For now, the oil majors seem more tempted by the Cypriot blocks – up for bid.

But politics again: being a part of America’s ‘gas forum’ in which the Nicosia (i.e. the Greek-linked) government is a key member, explicitly places the forum and its members on a potential collision course with Turkey, who will not readily yield on its ambitious claims on the East Med basin (it has just announced that it will establish naval and air bases in Northern Cyprus). Nor will Lebanon, either. Sisi and Erdogan share a mutual, personal dislike, but will the others wish to be drawn into that quarrel?

Russia anyway, seems not greatly interested in the production possibilities of the Mediterranean Middle East. Rather it is focused on a pipeline corridor stretching from Iran and Iraq to Europe via Turkey or (eventually) Syria.

In sum then, the Kushner – Trump ‘Deal’, in respect to the integration of Israel into the regional energy economy seems destined to draw the same skepticism and distrust, as does the ‘Deal’s’ other parts.

June 25, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Russophobia | , , , , | 2 Comments

$9 billion for Egypt in return for deal of the century

MEMO | June 24, 2019

According to documents released by the White House, the economic aspect of Donald Trump’s peace plan between Palestine and Israel includes granting $9 billion to Egypt, half of which is in the form of soft loans.

The documents revealed that $50 billion will be dedicated to the economic part of the deal of the century, which will be invested in the revival of the Palestinian territories, as well as Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.

The US President’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner will announce the details of the first phase of the peace plan during the workshop on “Peace for Prosperity” in Manama, Bahrain, on 25 and 26 June.

According to the documents, the funds received by Egypt will be invested during three stages over 10 years, as follows:

  • $5 billion to be invested in modernising transport infrastructure and logistics in Egypt.
  • $1.5 billion to be invested in supporting Egypt’s efforts to become a regional natural gas hub.
  • $2 billion to be dedicated to the Sinai Development Project ($500 million for power generation projects, water infrastructure, transport infrastructure and tourism projects).
  • An additional $125 million to be directed to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which will direct this fund to small and medium-sized enterprises in Egypt.
  • $42 million to repair and modernise electricity transmission lines from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.
  • The commitment to discuss ways to enhance trade deals between Egypt, Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank through Qualifying Industrial Zones in Egypt within the QIZ Agreement.

The rest of the $50 billion

According to the documents, the West Bank and Gaza Strip will receive about $28 billion, which will be invested in improving transport infrastructure, electricity networks, water supply infrastructure, education, housing, and agriculture.

$5 billion will be spent on transport infrastructure linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and another $1 billion on the development of the Palestinian tourism sector.

The remaining part of the $50 billion will be divided between Jordan, which will receive $7.4 billion, and Lebanon, which will be granted $6.3 billion. The totality of funds will be raised through an investment fund managed by a Multilateral Development Bank.

Where will these funds come from?

According to the documents, this amount is divided into $13.4 billion as grants, $25.7 billion as subsidised loans, and private capital in those projects will be $11.6 billion.

However, there are serious doubts as to whether this amount can be collected or not.

“There are deep doubts about the willingness of potential donor governments to make contributions at any time as long as the thorny political differences that are at the heart of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict have not been resolved,” Reuters mentioned in a report.

The news agency quoted experts as saying: “Most foreign investors will prefer to stay away not only because of security concerns and fears of corruption, but also because of the obstacles the Palestinian economy is facing due to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which hampers the movement of people, goods, and services.”

The cost for Egypt

In his interview with Reuters, Kushner described the economic aspect of the plan as “less controversial,” raising more questions about the formula for the political solution Trump and his associates are seeking.

Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, has repeatedly denied that the United States asked Egypt to give up land in Sinai to create a sovereign Palestinian entity expanding to parts of Rafah and Arish.

For its part, Egypt announced its participation in the Manama conference this week with a delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Finance, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafiz told Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Hafez stressed that the Egyptian participation aims to “follow up the ideas that will be presented during the workshop and evaluate the compatibility of the contained theses with the Palestinian National Authority’s vision of the ways of granting legitimate rights of the Palestinian people through a political framework and in accordance with the Palestinian and Arab determinants and constants, and the related UN decisions.”

The deal of the century is a peace plan prepared by the Trump administration and is said to be forcing Palestinians to make unfair concessions in favour of Israel, including on the status of occupied East Jerusalem and the refugees’ right of return.

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reports: Egypt-Israel tensions peaked during Morsi’s tenure

Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi, wearing an orange uniform while in prison on 18th August 2016 [Anadolu Agency/Facebook]

MEMO | June 19, 2019

Relations between Israel and Egypt were strained the most during the rule of the former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Israel’s Walla said yesterday.

“During his tenure in 2012-2013, Morsi called for amending the clauses of the Camp David peace agreement, which was signed between Egypt and Israel in 1978,” the news agency added, explaining that the accord had “limited Cairo’s movement in the Sinai Peninsula close to the Israeli borders with the Gaza Strip.”

Morsi’s only speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the Israeli website pointed out, was focusing on the Palestinian issue and “never mentioned Israel’s name”.

During his presidency, Morsi always stressed that the Palestinian issue was “at the top of his priorities.” At the time, he sent his Prime Minister Hesham Qandil to Gaza to express Egypt’s solidarity with the Strip. The move was said to have urged other Arab and international governments to take similar steps.

Morsi, aged 67, died on Monday after collapsing in court. Official Egyptian news stations reported that he had suffered a heart attack, however local activists said his death was a result of medical neglect and torture during his years in detention.

Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected president, having received the majority of the votes in the country’s 2012 elections following the ouster of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak. He was overthrown in a bloody military coup led by then defence minister, now president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Egypt, Jordan, Morocco to attend US-led Palestinian conference

MEMO | June 11, 2019

Egypt, Jordan and Morocco have informed the Trump administration they will attend a US-led conference in Bahrain this month on proposals for boosting the Palestinian economy as part of a coming US peace plan, US officials said on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

Egypt and Jordan’s participation is considered especially important since historically they have been key players in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and are also the only Arab states to have reached peace agreements with Israel.

However, Palestinian leaders’ decision to boycott the June 25-26 conference has raised doubts about its chances for success. They have shunned a broader diplomatic effort that US President Donald Trump has called the “deal of the century,” which they see as likely to be heavily tilted in favour of Israel and denying them a state of their own.

Despite that, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a chief architect of the long-delayed peace plan, is pressing ahead with arrangements for the Bahrain meeting, where the economic components are expected to be unveiled as the first step in the plan’s rollout.

Acceptance of the invitation to the conference by Jordan and Egypt will bring to the table two countries that border both Israel and Palestinian areas.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have previously confirmed their attendance, a White House official said.

The official declined to say what level of representation the countries would send. US officials have said they were inviting economic and finance ministers, as well as business leaders from the region and around the world.

Global financial bodies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank also plan to be present.

US officials have been vague about the timing for the second phase of their initiative, which would be the release of proposals for resolving the thorny political issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

With Israel heading for new elections in September after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet a deadline to form a government, uncertainty is expected to further delay the full release of the plan.

Most experts are skeptical the Trump administration can succeed where decades of US-backed efforts have failed.

 

June 11, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Massive increase in death sentences in Sisi’s Egypt

MEMO | May 28, 2019

Almost 2,500 people, including women and children, have been sentenced to death in Egypt since the 2013 coup in which the democratically-elected government of Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. At least 144 death sentences have been carried out by Sisi’s government, which started a crackdown on opposition groups when he came to power six years ago, according to new figures published by the UK-based rights group Reprieve.

Egyptian courts have issued death sentences for 75 or more defendants in one sitting in at least five separate trials during this period. These mass trials and death sentences are said to “depend on a chain of human rights abuses that extends from the time of detention through sentencing.”

Citing the UN, the Reprieve report said that the arbitrary arrest and mass sentencing that followed Sisi’s crackdown has become a “chronic problem”. The use of torture has become “common practice” and its prevalence has been described as a “torture assembly line”. Hundreds of people have been subjected to enforced disappearance, many of whom are later sentenced in mass trials.

Children are also subjected to the same ordeal. Thousands of minors have been arrested unlawfully since July 2013. They are often tried in mass proceedings alongside adult defendants.

Reprieve said that it compiled the report using publicly available information from lawyers and organisations in Egypt as well as other government and non-government agencies. Data published by the group shows a stark contrast in the number of death sentences carried out in the pre-Sisi era — one — compared with the time since the Sisi-led coup, which stands at 144 and counting. When it comes to mass trials leading to death sentences, the rise in the Sisi period to 33 from only two in the pre-Sisi era represents a massive 1,550 per cent increase.

A similar trend can be seen in the number of death sentences handed to individuals who were under 18 at the time of their alleged offence, which the report notes is “a serious violation of both Egyptian and international law.” Ten juveniles have been handed death sentences under Sisi while prior to him seizing power only one minor faced the death penalty.

The execution rate for women during the Sisi period is also much higher than the rate for men. Thirty-two women have had their death sentences confirmed under Sisi; 11 of them have been executed.

Reprieve concludes that despite a number of member states raising the issue at the UN, the “international response has been inadequate given the scope of the problem.” It found that even as Sisi has been executing Egyptians at an unprecedented rate, cooperation between European states, the EU, the US and Egypt’s criminal justice and defence sectors has continued largely unabated. The European Commission is even said to have provided over $10 million worth of assistance to Egypt’s judiciary in the past four years as part of a programme called, ironically, “Support for the Modernisation of the Administration of Justice” (SMAJ).

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

The Plan for Greater Israel according to Rabbi Kashtiel

By Gilad Atzmon | May 25, 2019

Rather often we hear from pro-Palestinian Jews about Jewish values of peace and Justice. Torah Jews’ Rabbis also insist that Judaism is clean of violence and that Jews shy away from wars and conflicts. However, Rabbi Kashtiel, a prominent Israeli rabbi, a staunch Zionist and a settler has a very different story to tell. For him to conquer is a Mitzvah. To start a war on Sabbath is to fulfil the Judaic heavenly mission even if unprovoked. Eretz Yisrael according to Rabbi Kashtiel should include Turkey in the north and the Nile river to the West.

I am not so sure that peace between Israel and its neighbours will prevail anytime soon.

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When North Korea’s Air Force Fought Israel

The Beginnings of Pyongyang’s Military Involvement in the Middle East and its Evolution Over Half a Century

Military Watch Magazine | October 7, 2018

While the Yom Kippur War is a well known Cold War engagement between Soviet and Western aligned forces which took place in the midst of the Vietnam War, pitting the forces of a number of Arab states including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Algeria against their longstanding adversary Israel, the role played by personnel deployed from external powers remains less well known. One party which played a significant role in the conflict, the beginnings of its extensive involvement in the Middle East to undermine the Western Bloc’s regional interests which continues to this day, was the Korean People’s Army (KPA) – the armed forces of North Korea. Having waged an intensive and brutal war with the Untied States and its allies in the 1950s, where an estimated 20-30% of its population was lost primarily due to the American bombing campaign, North Korea well understood the importance of air superiority and set about rebuilding its air and air defence forces with the most capable Soviet made weapons systems available. North Korean pilots and air defence crews were tasked not only with guarding the country’s airspace in the event of a future war with the Untied States, but also of contributing to the war efforts of a number of friendly countries – which they continue to do to this day. North Korean pilots played a considerable role in the Vietnam War, and according to Korean sources downed several U.S. fighter jets over the country. As the air war over Vietnam neared its end in the early 1970s, the KPA Air Force dispatched pilots to Egypt to aid the Soviet aligned country’s own war effort.

North Korean pilots had been stationed to aid Egyptian forces in defending their airspace months before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, and according to the Egyptian Military’s Chief of Staff Saad Al Shazly, Korean assistance provided critical assistance at a time of great need. Recalling that personnel from the USSR had been flying approximately 30% of the Egyptian MiG-21 fleet and operating about 20% of the country’s surface to air missile batteries, he noted that following the departure of Soviet forces under the decree of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat the Egyptian Air Force had struggled with a significant shortage of trained MiG pilots. Regarding North Korea’s role in solving this issue, the General stated in his memoirs:

“The solution occurred to me in March 1973, during the visit to Egypt of the Vice President of the Democratic (People’s) Republic of Korea (official name of North Korea.) On March 6, while escorting their Vice Minister of War, General Zang Song, on a tour of the Suez front, I asked if they could support us – and give their pilots useful combat training – but sending even a squadron of men. I knew at that time that his country flew MiG-21s. After much political discussion, in April I went on an official visit to president Kim Il Sung to finalise the plan. My fascinating ten day tour of that extraordinary republic, an inspiring an example of what a small nation of the so called Third World can achieve with its own resources is, alas, rather outside the scope of this memoir, as is my stopover in Peking (former English name for Beijing.)

Korean pilots – all highly experienced, many with more than 2,000 hours, arrived in Egypt in June and were operating by July. Israel or her ally ( the United States) soon monitored their communications, of course, and on August 15 announced their presence. To my regret, our leadership would never confirm it. The Korean s were probably the smallest international military reinforcement in history: only 20 pilots, eight controllers, give interpreters, three administrative men, a political advisor, a doctor and a cook. Bu their effect was disproportionate. They had two or three encounters with the Israelis in August and September and about the same number in the war. Their arrival was a heartwarming gesture. I mention the story here mainly to pay tribute to them and to apologise for the churlishness of our leadership in not also doing so.”

While Egyptian forces had long claimed that the MiG-21 was poorly suited to engage the F-4E, Israel’s prime air superiority fighter, and that the Soviet jet lacked the necessary survivability against the heavier American made platform, they were proven wrong not only by the successes of North Vietnamese pilots against the United States – but also by North Korean pilots operating against Israeli Phantoms over Egyptian airspace itself. According to Israeli sources, reporting on an engagement between North Korean piloted MiGs and their own Phantoms, the Korean pilots demonstrated considerable skill and were effectively untouchable in close range engagements – taking full advantage of the MiG-21’s superior manoeuvrability to evade multiple Israeli strikes with impunity. Whether North Korean pilots downed any Israeli fighters remains unknown, though reports indicate that no Koreans were shot down by Israeli jets. A number of reports do indicate however that the poorly trained Egyptian surface to air missile (SAM) crews mistook returning Korean MIG-21 fighters for Israeli jets, and proceeded to fire upon them. This was a common error made by Egyptian SAM crews, one which cost the country a number of fighter jets.

North Korean pilots’ participation in the Yom Kippur War represented only the beginning of the country’s military involvement in the Middle East, nor the last time the country would aid Arab states at war with Israel. While Egypt pivoted towards the Western Bloc in the war’s aftermath, abandoning the Soviet Union and its Arab allies, the country would pursue a number of joint weapons projects with North Korea and continues to import significant quantities of arms from the country. The Egyptian ballistic missile arsenal has North Korean origins, and the Korean Rodong-1 remains the country’s most capable platform in service today. North Korean assistance was also commissioned to construct a war museum in Egypt commemorating the Yom Kippur War, which was based heavily on the larger Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang commemorating the Korean War. North Korean forces have since the Yom Kippur War also formed close ties to Syria and Yemen, and the KPA is involved in wars against Western aligned forces in both countries.

Korean assistance has been key to upgrading Syria’s surface to air missile network, while special forces have reportedly been deployed for ground operations. KPA personnel were also reportedly involved in the Lebanon War in alongside their Syrian allies, and were later responsible for aiding the Lebanese militia Hezbollah to construct underground fortifications key to its military success against Israel in 2006. A number of key figures in Hezbollah’s leadership, including its leader Hassan Nasraallah, reportedly travelled to Korea for military training in the 1980s. Korean assistance has been key to strengthening the missile capabilities of Libya, Syria and Yemen, as well as Iran and Hezbollah, with all these parties relying heavily on a wide variety of the country’s missile designs until today. The East Asian state has since the Yom Kippur War played a considerable role in supporting regional forces against the Western Bloc and their allies, and is set to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

May 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Arab Spring returns home to uncertain welcome

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | April 12, 2019

The Arab Spring has returned to the Middle East after nearly six years in exile. It was in July 2013 that reversing the tide of democracy in Egypt that swept away the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coalition with the backing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to remove the elected President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, from power and suspended the the country’s constitution of 2012.

The Arab Spring never quite recovered from that trauma. There is a nifty aphorism of obscure origin that ‘History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes.’ The return of the Arab Spring to Algeria and Sudan in the recent weeks fits into that description. The similarity with the past lies in the undeniable fact that the Arab Spring is riding the wave of anti-regime protests in both Algeria and Sudan, triggered spontaneously by enormous public hatred of the regimes for their brutal repression, corruption, indifference to poverty and the intolerable conditions of day-to-day life.

In Sudan, the tipping point came four months ago over the government decision to triple the price of bread. In Algeria, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came in February when then President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would seek a fifth-term in office, whereupon tens of thousands took to the streets.

In the sheer spontaneity of the Arab Spring revolt in Sudan and Algeria, time seemed to stand still since 2013. First in Algeria, after some six weeks of protests, and in Sudan within days, after four months of protests, the dictators got ousted. But in reality, things are never quite the repetition of the past — protests this time around are on a significantly higher scale. Lessons may have been learnt from the tragic example of Egypt where a heroic popular struggle that brought the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammed Morsi to power ended in the blood-soaked 2013 coup led by General Sisi. The tragic saga of the Arab Spring in Egypt showed that entrenched ruling elites do not relinquish power simply because of militant mass protests.

Thus, both in Algeria and Sudan, there is popular resistance to the all-too-familiar pattern repeating — the army generals stepping in as the apparent saviours to remove the unpopular, detested dictators from power — Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir — but then, only to usurp power and establish military dictatorships, as had happened in Egypt. In Algeria, the protestors are openly shouting ‘No repeat of the Egyptian scenario.’ In Sudan, the exhortation to the protestors is: ‘Stay put and guard your revolution. To comply with the curfew (imposed by the generals) is to recognise the clone rescue government (led by the army.)’

However, the spectre that is haunting the masses in both Algeria and Sudan is the danger of bloody counterrevolution. Leadership is lacking among protestors and they lack the machinery or cadres to coordinate opposition to military-police repression. Meanwhile, the entrenched elite is co-opting the middle class and trying to lull protestors to sleep with (false) promises of a democratic capitalist future. The military junta in Algeria is promising to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, while the counterpart in Sudan has voiced its intention to hold democratic elections in two years.

In Sudan, there is also the added factor of foreign interference. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi openly said this week, “We cannot afford a leadership emerging in … Sudan that tolerates, or even worse condones, militant Islamic activity. This is why … we are keeping a close eye on any possible transition of power in Sudan.” The reference is to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Of course, it is a phoney argument, since the Brothers in Sudan have historically rejected union with the Egyptian branch (forming an alliance instead with the Sudanese Ansar-Ummah political bloc in support of Sudanese independence.) Sisi’s real worry is that if Sudan takes the democratic path, Muslim Brotherhood that has dominated Sudanese politics will surge to take the elected leadership, as had happened in Egypt in 2011, and that would rekindle the clamour for democracy in his country too.

Alex de Waal at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University writing for the BBC assesses that “the cabal (that usurped power in Sudan) is aligned with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, Qatar and Turkey have lost out. The new leadership dissolved the ruling National Congress Party and reportedly arrested many veteran Muslim Brothers.”

“They are busy telling Western countries that the Islamists had planned a coup, which needed to be forestalled by the army takeover, and that the protesters demanding democracy are also Muslim Brothers in disguise. It’s not a very convincing story, but it points to future tensions because the Islamists still have a strong following in Sudan.”

Sadly, in the emergent “multipolar world order”, there are hardly any takers for democracy or the Arab Spring — except, arguably, Turkey, Qatar and Iran — especially if it smacks of political Islam The big powers feel cozy with dictatorships. On Wednesday, the US and Britain issued a statement effectively backing the pre-emptive military coup in Sudan. At a meeting with Sisi on April 9 (who was on an official visit to the US at the invitation of President Trump), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked the dictator “for his leadership in advancing Egypt’s and the region’s security and stability, including through counterterrorism efforts and countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence.”

April 12, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Decades of Refusing Egypt the F-15, US Demands Cairo Terminates Plans to Acquire Russia’s Su-35

Pompeo threatens Egypt, is looking at CAATSA sanctions

Military Watch | April 9, 2019

In response to Egypt’s plans to modernise its Air Force with acquisition of an estimated two dozen Russian Su-35 ‘4++ generation’ air superiority fighters, the United States has issued a blunt warning that such purchases would result in American economic sanctions against Cairo.

Officials stated  regarding the purchase: “In terms of the expanding Russian influence in the region, that’s obviously something which we are quite concerned. We don’t see a lot of material benefits to engagements with the Russians… We just would encourage the Egyptians to turn more toward the West, toward the United States.”

This was closely followed by a statement from State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who said regarding the sale: “We have made clear that systems were to be purchased that… would require sanctions on the regime,” Pompeo told the Senate Committee on Appropriations. “We have received assurances from them, they understand that, and I am very hopeful they will decide not to move forward with that acquisition.”

Egypt has extensively modernised its military capabilities since the coming to power of a new administration in 2013, which overthrew a strongly Western aligned Islamist government that year. The overthrow led the U.S. to freeze arms shipments to the country, which in turn was a considerable factor influencing Cairo to turn away from Washington for future arms purchases.

However, a history of extensive and in the view of many excessive restrictions on American arms sales to Egypt were also reportedly at play in forcing Egypt away from American weapons – in particular jet aircraft.

Israel and the Saudis could buy F-15s, but not the Egyptians

Since abandoning its defence ties to the Soviet Union under President Anwar Sadat in the mid 1970s Egypt has repeatedly sought to acquire high end air superiority fighters – namely the American F-15 Eagle. While these aircraft were sold to Saudi Arabia and Israel in large numbers however, Egypt was restricted to purchasing the cheaper and lighter jets such as the F-16 – ensuring a balance of power which favoured the Western Bloc’s more reliable clients.

Furthermore, Egypt was the only major operator of the F-16 denied modern AIM-120 air to air missiles – meaning its aircraft would face an overwhelming disadvantage in combat with those of any other U.S. client.

Egypt’s move to upgrade its aerial warfare capabilities began with acquisition of the S-300V4 surface to air missile system and 45 MiG-29M medium weight multirole fighters. These were accompanied by purchases of complementary shorter ranged air defence platforms, and advanced long range air to air missiles such as the R-77 and extended range R-27 variants.

With high end heavy air superiority fighters today manufactured only by the United States, Russia and China, of which only the first two offer them for export, it was to be expected that Egypt would turn to Russia for such systems due to the United States’ refusal to provide them.

While the pretext for sanctions against Egypt is that the fighter purchase would provide funds to a U.S. adversary, with the contract estimated at $2 billion, the Su-35 in Egyptian hands also overturns the regional balance of power the United States has for so long succeeded in maintaining.

The fighters are capable of surpassing any other platforms currently deployed in the Middle East or Africa in their air to air combat capabilities, including the advanced Algerian Su-30MKA and Saudi F-15SA, and are also capable of deploying hypersonic R-37M ‘AWACS killer’ missiles.

These platforms retain a 400km engagement range and pose a major threat to support aircraft of Egypt’s potential adversaries such as the America and Saudi Saudi E-3 Sentries or Israeli Eitam AWACS platforms. Ultimately whether Egypt will yield under American pressure remains to be seen, but given its economy’s fragility and heavy reliance on the Western Bloc this remains a considerable possibility.

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment