And deterrent power is what we are losing today. So others, like the Saudis, are picking up the slack by building missile bases. But while they may be our allies, the spread of long-range missiles in the Middle East is still bad news. Even the Saudi regime may not be stable forever, and if it decides to go to war, it will be for reasons that may not suit us.
Instead of focusing on reassuring our friends and frightening our enemies, we’re exiting. In Syria, the administration has spent two years trying to find a policy that looks like involvement without requiring any. In Iraq, it wanted nothing more than to get out as fast as it could. Involvement was the last thing it wanted.Sponsored Ads
And in Iran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a classic gaffe — i.e., he told the truth — when he said that the administration’s policy was containment of the theocratic regime. That’s not what Saudis want to hear. For them, containment is a code word for doing nothing.
The only part of the region the Obama administration is focusing on is the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, which is akin to pouring water on the one house in the neighborhood that isn’t on fire.
Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed has sounded the alarm about the threat shale oil and gas development poses to the petro-kingdom’s barely diversified economy.
It’s taken a while for such a prominent Saudi to acknowledge this fact.
But it’s been pretty clear to the rest of the world.
In March, for instance, Norway’s foreign minister said America’s shale boom could rearrange the Middle East’s balance of power.
Saudi Arabia needs high oil prices to function — Below $80 and the kingdom starts getting into trouble. There are some trends that could easily push prices much lower.
If oil prices drop below $80 per barrel, then Saudi Arabia is not going to be the only country in trouble. Check out the charts.
The United States Air Force will dramatically expand its military presence across the Pacific this year, sending jets to Thailand, India, Singapore, and Australia, according to the service’s top general in the region.
For a major chunk of America’s military community, the so-called “pivot to Asia” might seem like nothing more than an empty catchphrase, especially with the Middle East once again in flames. But for the Air Force at least, the shift is very real. And the idea behind its pivot is simple: ring China with U.S. and allied forces, just like the West did to the Soviet Union, back in the Cold War.
U.S. military officials constantly say they aren’t trying to contain China; they’re working with the Chinese and other Pacific nations to “maintain stability” in the region. Still, a ring of bases looks an awful lot like something we’ve seen before.
Just as in the last four years, the summer of 2013 has also started with Israeli intimations about a strike on Iran — but the elections there have staved off the winds of war, at least until next spring.
A week ago, on Friday, July 12, Israel carried out a test of one of its missiles launched from a base in the center of the country. On that day, the Israeli media carried a succinct, laconic report on the launch with a photo attached.
It is believed that the test was of the latest version of the “Jericho” missile. According to foreign sources, “Jericho” is Israel’s strategic weapon capable of carrying a one-ton warhead, which, if needed, can also be mounted with a nuclear warhead. According to those foreign sources, in its earlier versions, the “Jericho” missile had a 500-kilometer (311-mile) range. It is believed that the experiment this time consisted of a missile capable of accurately striking targets at least 5,000 kilometers (3,107 miles) away (6,000 kilometers [3,728 miles] by some other accounts). Israel — according to foreign sources — possesses a large quantity of such missiles, some of which are equipped with nuclear warheads. They are concealed in shielded installations deep below ground and are safe even from the detonation of a nuclear bomb in the immediate environs.
In addition to the Dolphin-class submarine, here is another example of Israel’s alleged “second-strike capability,” which will render any unconventional attack against it into a bona fide suicidal act.
The timing of the test was not coincidental. …
Egypt’s coup was not just a major shock for Mohamed Morsi, but also for the Middle East’s most successful Islamist party: Turkey’s AK party. When news of the Egyptian army’s deposing of Morsi broke, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, cut short his holiday on the Aegean coast and convened a crisis meeting of senior ministers. Over the following days Erdo?an strongly condemned the coup, calling it the “killer of democracy and the future” and referring to Egypt’s “so-called administration”. Why does the coup matter so much to Erdo?an’s AK party?
One problem is that the Egyptian coup upsets the AKP’s vision of exporting its brand of populist democratic Islamism throughout the Middle East. The AKP saw the Islamist parties that were elected after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt as following its lead, and cemented this connection with aid – including training and equipment for Tunisia’s police and a $1bn loan to Egypt.
“Now here’s the problem,” Buck continued, “nothing can really legally come of these massive demonstrations. And we’re talking millions, Glenn. We’re not talking about thousands. They think there will be millions of people Countrywide who will demonstrate in some way. This could lead to bloody clashes in Cairo. The military who sort of has been standing on the sidelines and watching the Muslim Brotherhood just completely run this country into the ground. The military has said, “Oh, we might step in.” Well, guess what. If the military steps in, the possibility of an actual coup becomes very high. If they don’t step in, you have very powerful factions in this country that are warring on the streets and nothing to stop them.”
Buck went on to explain that he doesn’t know who will step in — he’s not sure that they know either…but the protests or “rallies” are coming.
A mysterious new respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East spreads easily between people and appears more deadly than SARS, doctors reported Wednesday after investigating the biggest outbreak in Saudi Arabia.
More than 60 cases of what is now called MERS, including 38 deaths, have been recorded by the World Health Organization in the past year, mostly in Saudi Arabia. So far, illnesses haven’t spread as quickly as SARS did in 2003, ultimately triggering a global outbreak that killed about 800 people.
The US will be courting danger in Syria but staying out is a greater risk, writes David Gardner
President Barack Obama’s decision to send unspecified “direct military support” to Syria’s rebels may have as its proximate cause the now firm US conviction that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against them. But it will be seen across the Middle East as a choice by America to throw its weight behind a Sunni alliance against Iran-led Shia forces across the region – a conflict in which Syria is the frontline.
NetTraveler virus found in computers in diplomatic missions of over 40 countries, including Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, and Iran
Computers in diplomatic missions and government offices worldwide have again been struck by a major virus, according to cybersecurity experts at Kaspersky Lab. The NetTravel virus, which Kaspersky uncovered in recent weeks, has attacked computers in diplomatic missions and government institutions in over 40 countries worldwide, including Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, and Iran. No “samples” of the virus have been found so far in Israel, Kaspersky said.
The attack is somewhat similar to the Red October exploit, which Kaspersky uncovered last year. In that attack, too, government and diplomatic computers were targeted. Israeli computers were found to be hosting the virus as well, but it was unclear if any data had been stolen.
A senior Hezbollah leader said the Iranian-backed terror group is ready to wage war against Israel in the Golan Heights.
Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general Naim Qassem said in a recent interview that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ready to make good on a threat to bring his country’s civil war to Israel.
“I believe that the Syrian leadership is serious about opening the Golan front,” Qassem said in a May 25 interview that was translated Monday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).