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Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Excerpts: Egypt:20.6% of eligible voters voted yes. Russia/India weapons deals worth $ billions. Iran begins naval war games.Gulf States lash out at Iran. Iraq to double export of heavy oil to Jordan December 25, 2012

Excerpts: Egypt:20.6% of eligible voters voted yes. Russia/India weapons
deals worth $ billions. Iran begins naval war games.Gulf States lash out at
Iran. Iraq to double export of heavy oil to Jordan December 25, 2012

+++SOURCE: Egypt Daily News 25 Dec.’12: Vote on draft constitution

Total Voter turnout 32.9% (,.Note: 67% of eligible voters did not vote)

(of the 33% of eligible voters who voted 63.8% voted "Yes" and 32.8% voted
"No"

of total registered voters 20.6% said “Yes”

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 25 Dec.’12:”Russia and India ink defense deals
worth billions”,AP
SUBJECT: Russia/India weapons deals worth $ billions

FULL TEXT:NEW DELHI — Russia and India signed new weapons deals worth
billions of dollars Monday[224 Dec.] as President Vladimir Putin sought to
further boost ties with an old ally.

Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed cooperation between
their countries as officials signed a $1.6 billion deal for India to
purchase 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets and a $1.3 billion contract for the
delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.

Singh said the talks included discussions on the security situation in the
region, including Afghanistan.

“India and Russia share the objective of a stable, united, democratic and
prosperous Afghanistan, free from extremism,” Singh told reporters after the
talks.

While the volume of Russian-Indian trade has risen sixfold since 2000 and is
expected to reach $10 billion this year, the growth has slowed in recent
years. And even though India remains the No. 1 customer for Russia’s arms
industries, Moscow has recently lost several multibillion-dollar contracts
to Western weapons makers.

Russia and India have shared close ties since the Cold War, when Moscow was
a key ally and the principal arms supplier to New Delhi.

The ties slackened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but grew stronger
again after Putin came to power in 2000, seeking to revive Moscow’s global
clout and restore ties with old allies.

Russia has maintained its strong positions in the Indian market with $30
billion worth of arms contracts with India signed in 2000-2010 that
envisaged supplies of hundreds of fighter jets, missiles, tanks and other
weapons, a large part of which were license-produced in India. The countries
have cooperated on building an advanced fighter plane and a new transport
aircraft and have jointly developed a supersonic cruise missile for the
Indian Navy.

But the military cooperation has hit snags in recent years, as New Delhi
shops increasingly for Western weapons. The Indians also haven’t been always
happy with the quality of Russian weapons and their rising prices.

In one notable example, in 2004 Russia signed a $1 billion contract to
refurbish a Soviet-built aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy. While the
deal called for the ship to be commissioned in 2008, it is still in a
Russian shipyard and the contract price has reportedly soared to $2.3
billion. The target date for the carrier’s completion was moved back again
this year after it suffered major engine problems in sea trials. Russian
officials now promise to hand it over to India in the end of 2013. — AP

+++SOURCE:Naharnet (Lebanon) 25 Dec.’12:”Reports: Iran Begins Naval War
Games”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Iran begins naval war games

FULL TEXT:Iran on Tuesday launched naval maneuvers in the Gulf, and
announced plans for another exercise in the strategic Strait of Hormuz later
this week, media reports said.

Revolutionary Guards naval units began a four-day exercise inside Iranian
waters at South Pars, a joint gas field between Iran and Qatar, a Guards
spokesman was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

The drill, dubbed "Fajr 91," is aimed at honing "capabilities in executing
defensive and security scenarios," Admiral Alireza Nasseri said without
elaborating.

The Guards are tasked with defending Iran's territorial waters in the Gulf.

The regular navy, meanwhile, on December 28 begins an exercise dubbed
"Velayat 91," covering an area that includes the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea
of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean, navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari
said in remarks reported by the ISNA news agency.

Warships, submarines and missile defense systems will be used and tested
during the exercise, Sayari said.

"We will definitely respect the maritime border of our neighbors, and
conduct the maneuvers based on international law," Sayari said.

"Iran aims to demonstrate its defensive naval capabilities by conducting
this exercise, and send a message of peace and friendship to regional
countries."

Iran frequently conducts missile tests and maneuvers to underline its
military muscle and has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz
to oil tanker traffic should it be attacked.

The strait is a narrow channel at the entrance of the Gulf through which a
third of the world's traded oil passes.

The United States has warned Iran that any attempt to close the strait would
be viewed as a "red line" -- grounds for U.S. military action.

Iran's navy, with 17,000 servicemen, is tasked with defending Iranian
interests in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Its offshore forces are limited to
half a dozen small frigates and destroyers, and three Russian Kilo class
submarines.

Iran regularly denounces the regional presence of foreign forces, including
the U.S., particularly those stationed in the Gulf. It says the security of
the region must be ensured "by regional countries."

Arab monarchies on the opposite side of the Gulf from Iran are worried by
what they see as territorial ambitions by the Islamic republic, which
frequently stresses Persia's historic dominance over the waterway.

SourceAgence France Presse

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 25 Dec.’12:”Gulf States Lash Out at Iran, Urge
Rapid Syria Transition”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Gulf States lash out at Iran

QUOTES:”GCC countries said they ‘reject and denounce’ Iran’s ‘continued
interference’ in their internal affairs”, “GCC announcing the formation of a
unified military command”

FULL TEXT:The six Gulf states sharpened their tone against their Shiite
neighbor Iran on Tuesday[25 Dec.], demanding an immediate halt to its
"interference" in their internal affairs while urging a rapid political
transition in its ally Syria.

Concluding a two-day summit in Manama, the Gulf Cooperation Council members
voiced support for Bahrain's Sunni minority regime while lashing out at
Tehran, which they accuse of fueling a Shiite-led uprising in the host
country last year.

In a joint statement, the GCC countries said they "reject and denounce"
Iran's "continued interference" in their internal affairs.

They added that Tehran must "immediately and completely stop these actions
and policies that increase regional tension and threaten security and
stability".

The six states -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United
Arab Emirates -- also condemned Iran's "continued occupation of the three
Emirati islands" of Abu Moussa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, which lie in
the strategic Strait of Hormuz entrance to the Gulf.

In addition to the dispute over the islands, relations between Iran and most
GCC states have been further strained since Gulf troops rolled into Bahrain
last year to help put down the Shiite-led protests.

The regional powers have also taken opposite stances towards the Syrian
crisis. While Tehran has openly supported President Bashar Assad's regime,
GCC members Saudi Arabia and Qatar have called for arming rebels fighting
regime loyalists.

In their Tuesday statement, the GCC monarchies expressed "deep sadness over
the continued shedding of blood by the regime and the destruction of cities
and infrastructure, making political transition a demand which must be
rapidly implemented."

They also urged the international community "to make a quick and serious
move to end massacres" in Syria and provide humanitarian assistance to the
people.

Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah announced Monday[24 Dec.] a
donor conference on behalf of civilians caught up in the Syrian conflict to
be held on January 30 at the request of the United Nations.

The GCC states also affirmed their support for the newly-formed opposition
National Coalition "as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

The statement meanwhile welcomed a decision by Yemeni President Abdrabuh
Mansour Hadi to restructure the army and the defense ministry, purging them
of relatives and cronies of former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Gulf states had strongly backed a political deal reached last year in
which Saleh resigned following a year-long uprising in the Arabian
Peninsula's poorest nation.

The GCC called on "all components of the Yemeni people" to participate in a
national dialogue after it failed to take place last month when southern
separatists refused to join the talks. The dialogue is part of the
transition period, as per the Gulf-backed deal.

The summit had opened Monday[24 Dec.] with a call for closer economic
integration and unity in the face of the turmoil which has swept much of the
Middle East and North Africa.

In the closing statement, the meeting said the GCC states had decided to
accelerate the process of integrating the economic gap between member states
and had approved a security treaty, while announcing the creation of a
unified military command. No further details were given.

Four of the six heads of state did not attend the annual gathering.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is convalescing after a back operation in
November, while Qatar sent its crown prince, the United Arab Emirates its
vice president, and Oman its deputy prime minister.

The next summit will be held in Kuwait.

SourceAgence France Presse

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 25 Dec.’12:”Iraq to double heavy fuel exports to
Jordan, expedite construction of oil pipeline to Aqaba”. . .
SUBJECT: Iraq to double export of heavy oil to Jordan

QUOTE:”expedite procedures to extend an Iraqi oil pipeline(to Jordan)”

EXCERPTS:AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday[24 Dec.] stressed his
full support for the Iraqi people in their efforts to establish peace and
stability in their country.The King said security and stability in Iraq is
the mainstay of peace and stability in the region, a Royal Court statement
said.

. . .

During the committee meetings, attended by several Jordanian and Iraqi
officials, the Iraqi side agreed to increase the amounts of heavy fuel
exported to Jordan to 60,000 tonnes instead of 30,000 tonnes monthly and at
the same agreed-on prices.

The two sides also agreed to expedite procedures to extend an Iraqi oil
pipeline to facilitate the export of Iraqi oil through Aqaba Port, Petra
reported.

With regard to financial matters, the two sides agreed on dealing with the
Iraq's debt to Jordan in line with the two countries’ joint interests.. .
.

"We need each other; Jordan is important for Iraq in trade… and at the same
time, we need the Iraqi market as a target and a route to access Turkish and
European markets," Ensour told reporters.

The premier stressed that Iraq presents the alternative that will help
Jordan's trade, which has suffered since the onset of the Syrian crisis,
noting that the Iraqi market is open for local agricultural produce so long
as it does not harm Iraqi farmers. . . .

==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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