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Israel sets its sights on the Red Sea and Bab El-Mandeb

Dr Adnan Abu Amer | MEMO | October 6, 2020

Day after day, the magnitude of the Israeli benefits from normalisation with the Gulf become clearer, especially on the military and strategic levels. The latest benefit is talk about establishing Israeli military bases in the Gulf, the Red Sea and Bab El-Mandab, or benefiting from the Emirati bases scattered in these areas, and the military benefits for Israel brought about by controlling these international seaports.

The Emirati-Israeli agreement included many clauses with security and military aspects, which stipulate bilateral cooperation in these areas, and their commitment to take important measures to prevent the use of their territories to carry out a hostile or “terrorist” attack targeting the other party, and that each side will not support any hostile operations in the territory of the other party. It also stipulates bilateral security coordination and strengthening the military security relationship.

These carefully worded texts have increased the assumptions regarding the possibility of Israel benefitting from the Emirati military bases in the region, whether in the Gulf, Bab El-Mandab, or the Red Sea. This may lead to the establishment of Israeli military base in the Emirates, as well as its use of Emirati waters, and the possibility that it will continue down this path to increase its foothold in Socotra, the Bab El-Mandab Strait and Djibouti.

It is worth noting that the possibility of establishing Israeli military bases in the Gulf, or Israel benefiting from the Emirati military bases, is not easy, but very dangerous. This is because as much as it may give hope to the Gulf states, and the UAE in particular, to defend itself against the threat of any imagined attack from Iran, it, at the same time, exposes it to danger. This is because the fulfilment of this premise means that Israel can strike Iranian targets in the Gulf waters, or in the heart of Iran itself, which will be matched by Iran targeting these Israeli bases in the Gulf.

The agreement allows Israel to get geographically closer to Iran and allows it to improve ties with the Gulf which is a strategic area in terms of trade and oil.

Iran will not stand idly by and remain silent regarding the Emirati-Israeli move, which means the situation in the Gulf region is likely to grow tense and suffer. Iran is present everywhere through the Revolutionary Guard and its sleeping armed cells.

Security of maritime navigation in the Gulf is a purely Israeli interest within the strategy of “curbing the Iranian threat” and strengthening the relationship with the Gulf states, former Israeli Foreign Minister, Yisrael Katz, has said.

Israel aims to gain control over the most important sea straits in the region, which belong to the Emirati and Saudi bases, which enhances the expansion of Israel’s military and strategic influence.

A document by the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence revealed that the agreement with Abu Dhabi paves the way for intensifying military cooperation between them in the Red Sea. This is because it is interested in expanding security cooperation in the region, leading to strengthening the military alliance between them. This includes intensive Israeli military movement, especially through the countries of the Horn of Africa, most notably Ethiopia, at a time when Israeli arms companies are seeking to increase their exports to the Emirates.

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced that the UAE and Israel had agreed to build a security and military alliance against Iran to protect American interests and the Middle East, and to increase security and intelligence cooperation to confront what he referred to as “terrorism”.

But Israel has not left Yemen out of its view, the country offers a gateway to the Bab El-Mandab Strait. Tel Aviv aims to crack down on the Palestinian resistance to prevent it from receiving the weapons that reach it from Iran through the Red Sea, reaching the Sinai, and then the Gaza Strip.

As long as the most important provisions of the Emirati-Israeli agreement are related to security and military relations, Israel will work to exploit the agreement to increase its influence in the Gulf. Meanwhile, the UAE is looking for control in the Gulf with the support of the US and Israel, so there is joint Israeli and Emirati work in Yemen to establish joint military bases and areas of influence, specifically on the island of Socotra, which would allow it to completely control the path that passes from India to the West, and penetrates into Africa, which is a strategic location for Israel.

October 6, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Somalia rejects ‘ridiculous’ UAE incentive to join Yemen war

MEMO | June 30, 2020

Somalia has rejected as “ridiculous” an offer made by the UAE for the African state to join the war in Yemen in return for financial incentives, the country’s foreign minister has revealed.

According to Somalia News, the UAE offered to reopen the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in the Somali capital Mogadishu on the condition Somalia take part in the war in Yemen, while officially claiming the Socotra archipelago as Somali territory.

The Emirati-run Sheikh Zayed Hospital offered free healthcare to Somali citizens until it was closed by the UAE in 2018, as part of a diplomatic row between Abu Dhabi and Mogadishu.

June 30, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Yemen: Socotra suspends Emirates Airline flights to stop UAE mercenaries

MEMO | September 9, 2019

Amid allegations of UAE-backed foreign mercenaries arriving on the Yemeni island of Socotra, it was reported yesterday that the island’s main airport has temporarily suspended flights from UAE’s Emirates Airline for three days.

According to the Socotra Post, local intelligence suggests the UAE intends to deploy additional mercenaries from the Eritrean port city of Asseb in addition to militia stationed in the southern mainland.

It has been speculated that the UAE hopes to expand its trading routes by occupying the strategically located archipelago where a military base has already been established. The UAE has previously set up similar bases in the Horn of Africa, of which Eritrea is part.

Soqotri residents have held regular demonstrations against a perceived occupation by the Emiratis.

The Socotra Post reported other sources saying that the UAE previously smuggled arms onto the island by using sites used to store humanitarian aid and commercial goods belonging to the UAE branch of the Red Crescent and the Khalifah Foundation.

The Socotra islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Centre protected and recognised by the UN body for their unique flora and fauna.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

NATO’s Emerging Outsourced Eastern Flank

By Wayne MADSEN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.04.2017

A series of moves by NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) partner, the United Arab Emirates, has many observers in the Indian Ocean littoral nations wondering out loud whether the «North Atlantic» military pact is moving into the Indian Ocean and Arabian Peninsula, courtesy of an «outsourcing» deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations.

On January 27, while the world’s eyes were on the one-week old Donald Trump administration in Washington and believing that NATO would become a shell given Trump’s belief that it was «obsolete,» NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg helped open the NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Regional Center in Kuwait. Gathered with Stoltenberg for the opening ceremony were the Secretary General of the GCC, representatives of the 28 members of the North Atlantic Council, and government officials from host Kuwait, as well as Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman. The opening of a NATO facility in the Persian Gulf represented an unprecedented leap by the bloc designed for the defense of the «North Atlantic» into far-off waters in Asia.

The Kuwait operation followed the signing of an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program (IPCP) between NATO and the UAE last October. The agreement is designed to bolster existing links between NATO and the UAE on NATO-led operations and missions and enhanced interoperability. The de facto admission of the UAE into NATO follows several major military forays by the seven-member Gulf federation into the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa. There is a belief that NATO is now using the UAE to extend its military and political influence around the Indian Ocean and associated waters, including the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, and Red Sea.

NATO already has a sizeable military footprint in the Gulf region and Indian Ocean. The U.S. Fifth Fleet is homeported in the Bahrain capital of Manama. Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar remains one of America’s largest outposts in the Middle East. The base serves as the forward headquarters of United States Central Command, the United States Air Forces Central Command, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group British Royal Air Force, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the U.S. Air Force. The UAE has its fair share of NATO and NATO partner military bases, including the Royal Australian Air Force facility at Al-Minhad airbase south of Dubai, a U.S. Air Force facility at the Al-Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi, the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai, and a naval base in Fujairah in the Arabian Sea.

There are also U.S. military bases at the Ali Al Salem Airbase, Camp Arifjan, Camp Buehring, and the Kuwait City naval base in Kuwait; the Masirah and Thumrait airbases in Oman; the Isa airbase in Bahrain; Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti; Eskan Village, outside of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Manda Bay, Kenya; Victoria International Airport on Mahé Island in the Seychelles; the Baledogle airbase in Somalia; and the large Naval Support Facility at Diego Garcia in the British Indian Ocean Territory. The U.S. has shown an interest in developing a maritime surveillance facility on the Australian-ruled Cocos Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. U.S. Special Operations personnel have been spotted in Zanzibar, from which the U.S. military was ousted in 1964. A six-acre seaside site, said to be the new U.S. embassy complex in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, is believed by locals to also serve as a military base.

Under the guise of supporting the GCC coalition battling against Houthi-led rebels in Yemen’s bloody civil war, the UAE has been on a real estate buying spree in the region. Chief among the UAE’s prized acquisitions is the strategic island of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden. Long-sought by the United States as a naval and intelligence base since the end of the Cold War, there are reports that the exiled Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, leased the islands of Socotra and Abd al-Kuri to the UAE in 2014, before fleeing to Saudi Arabia. Abd al-Kuri is a sparsely-inhabited island located 65 miles southwest of Socotra. Since the beginning of the Yemeni civil war, the UAE has taken advantage of the absence of a stable government in Yemen to expand its influence in Socotra. The UAE deal on Socotra was allegedly in return for the UAE’s support for Hadi and his Saudi allies in their military quest to wrest control of north Yemen from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who seized control of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

Formerly a part of the Yemeni province of Hadhramaut, Socotra became a separate province in 2013. Before the former nation of South Yemen was granted independence by Britain, Socotra was a possession of the Mahra Sultanate of Qishn in Hadhramaut in the Protectorate of South Arabia. Hadi’s removal of Socotra from Hadhramaut control and his reported lease of the island to the UAE is not recognized by the pretender to the throne of the former Mahra Sultanate, Abdullah bin Isa. U.S. military operations in Yemen in support of the Saudi-led coalition is reportedly targeting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but increasingly it appears that the actual targets for American drones, missiles, and special operations forces are tribes loyal to former rulers like bin Isa, Houthi rebels, and South Yemen independence fighters.

A UAE airline, Rotana Jet, now provides direct air service between Abu Dhabi and Socotra. Air Yemenia provides direct service between Socotra and Dubai.

There is reason to believe that the UAE was fronting for the United States in acquiring the lease on Socotra and that it is only a matter of time before U.S. and NATO personnel arrive on the island, likely under the guise of the ICI-NATO partnership. Some reports claim the lease is for 99-years, which is noteworthy for being the same period of time that the U.S. leased the Guantanamo Bay naval base from a newly-independent Cuba. The U.S. has abrogated the Guantanamo lease terms by refusing to depart from the base upon the lease’s termination in 1999.

Abu Dhabi is the home to the private military company Reflex Responses (R2), which is run by Blackwater’s founder Erik Prince. Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, is the Secretary of Education in the Trump cabinet. Prince is reported to have provided consulting to the Trump transition team by sneaking into meetings through a back door at the Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Middle East observers see R2 as a CIA contrivance that farms out mercenaries from such countries as Colombia, South Africa, and Chile to fight as U.S. proxies in wars such as the civil war in Yemen. R2’s operational personnel are headquartered at the Zayed Military City UAE military base outside of Abu Dhabi. Prince and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi jointly command some 1400 Colombians at the base whose officers are mainly American and British ex-military personnel.

The UAE has been engaged in further military real estate grabs in the Indian Ocean region. It recently signed an agreement with the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland to establish a major naval base at the port of Berbera on the Gulf of Aden.

In October 2015, UAE forces took control of the Yemeni island of Perim in the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The island had been under the control of Yemeni Houthi rebel forces battling the Saudi puppet government of Yemen. The UAE president has built a massive vacation palace on Mahé island in the Seychelles, at what was once a U.S. Air Force listening station.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly buying Faafu Atoll in the Maldives. The «mega project» planned for the atoll by the Saudis may be a joint commercial/naval base. The Maldivian government denies it is selling Faafu to the Saudis, but did admit to the Saudi $10 billion mega project. Atoll inhabitants are worried about the Saudi deal. A protest by Faafu islanders against the Saudi deal has taken place on the main island of Bilehdhoo.

The U.S. and NATO enjoy access to French military bases in Mayotte, near Madagascar; the French island of Reunion; and the Kerguelen archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean, near Antarctica. France also maintains facilities in Abu Dhabi at the Al-Dhafra airbase; the Mina Zayed naval base, and a French Foreign Legion base 50 miles from the city of Abu Dhabi.

The United States and NATO are militarizing the Indian Ocean region as much as they have the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. NATO and its masters in Washington, now allied with ICI partners in the Persian Gulf, are intent on pushing the «Atlantic Alliance» far beyond the Atlantic Ocean and into Indian and Pacific Ocean waters. The question remains. To what end?

April 21, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia Builds Naval Base on Occupied Yemeni Island

Al-Manar | August 17, 2015

Saudi Arabia has invaded and occupied Yemen’s strategic Island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean and is now building its biggest naval base there, Fars news agency reported.

“Hundreds of workers from Asian countries have been deployed by the Saudi navy to construct the kingdom’s naval base on the island,” Arabic-language Al-Ittihad news website quoted informed sources as saying on Sunday.

Socotra is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean; the largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95 percent of the landmass of the archipelago. Socotra is located between the continents of Asia and Africa.

Saudi Arabia is launching a wide-scale military campaign against Yemen and it has been striking the impoverished nation for the last 144 days to restore power to fugitive president Abed-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 5,419 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

August 17, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment