Excerpts:Israel natural gas to Jordan. Israel alternative to Suez Canal.
Joint Gulf Force -Peninsula Shield Hizbullah's unprecedented 'land invasion'
in Syria. Islamist rise impact on UAE-Egypt Monday, February 18, 2013
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 18 Feb.’113:”Arab Potash Company looks to import
natural gas from Israel”, by Petra
SUBJECT: Israel natural gas to Jordan.
+++QUOTE “The (Jordan) ministry:This fuel would be inexpensive and clean… ”
FULL TEXT:AMMAN — Contacts are currently under way between the Arab Potash
Company and its counterpart in Israel, through a US company, on the
possibility of importing natural gas from the Dead Sea area, according to a
statement issued by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.
This fuel would be inexpensive and clean and would be used by Arab Potash
Company factories at the Dead Sea, the statement added.
The ministry said the purpose of importing gas from Israel is to reduce the
production costs of these factories, adding that no agreement has been
The ministry also dismissed as baseless news carried by media outlets on
secret talks between the Kingdom and Israel on importing natural gas
+++SOURCE: Aswat Masriya via Egypt Daily news:The Times: Israel's rail route
to rival Suez Canal on track”
SUBJECT: Israel alternative to Suez Canal
QUOTE:”Israel is close to finalizing a railway route that poses an
alternative to the Suez Canal”
FULL TEXT:'The Times' British newspaper reported on Saturday[16 Feb.] that
Israel is close to finalizing a railway route that poses an alternative to
the Suez Canal.
The newspaper said that the "instability in Egypt has added to the urgency
of a project to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea."
It added that the events that led to the deaths of tens in the cities
overlooking the Suez Canal has led to the suspension of shipping groups for
a few days.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced in a cabinet
meeting in January that a pipeline is being created to transport goods
between Asia and Europe.
He said that the line "has attracted wide attention among developing
countries such as China, India and others," he added that the new line will
be "a crossroad between continents and is therefore strategically important
on the national and international levels."
Meanwhile, an Israeli official told Reuters, "The new line is a protective
guarantee for fear that the Suez Canal is burdened by the increasing
movement of maritime trade," rejecting that the plan came in response to the
political unrest in Egypt and the rise of Islamist parties.
+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 18 Feb.’13:”Operation Peninsula Shield”
SUBJECT: Joint Gulf Force–Peninsula Shield
QUOTE:”expanded to more than 30,000 troops”
FULL TEXT:Joint Gulf force — the Peninsula Shield — began a 17-day exercise
in Kuwait, Sunday. The Peninsula Shield force was formed by six GCC member
states — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates — in 1982 as a 5,000-strong force but has since expanded to more
than 30,000 troops.
+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 18 Feb.’13:”(Official of Free Syrian
Army)Louay al-Meqdad Slam’s Hizbullah’s Unprecedented ‘Land Invasion’ in
SUBJECT: Hizbullah’s unprecedented ‘land invasion’ in Syria,
QUOTE:”al-Meqdad accused Hizbullah on Monday (18 Feb) of carrying out an
‘unprecedented’ invasion’ backed by Syrian artillery fire in villages in
FULL TEXT:An official of the rebel Free Syrian Army, Louay al-Meqdad,
accused Hizbullah on Monday[18 Feb.] of carrying out an “unprecedented
invasion” backed by Syrian artillery fire in villages in central Syria.
In remarks to An Nahar daily, al-Meqdad said: “Hizbullah's invasion is the
first of its kind in terms of organization, planning and coordination with
the Syrian regime's airforce.”
“This is the first time that Hizbullah is doing a land invasion backed by
artillery fire of tanks basked in villages that it has controlled inside
Syrian territories and some Lebanese border towns,” he said.
The alleged attack was carried out under “the supervision of Mustafa
Badreddine and Wafiq Safa,” he added.
His comments came a day after the opposition Syrian National Council said
Hizbullah fighters crossed into Homs province of central Syria on
Saturday[16 Feb.] and attacked three Syrian villages in the Qusayr region
near the Lebanese border.
A Hizbullah official said three Lebanese Shiites were killed in clashes in
Syria while acting in "self-defense,” without specifying if they were party
But al-Meqdad said “Hizbullah's military operation began as soon as (Sayyed)
Hassan Nasrallah finished his speech” on Saturday[16 Feb.].
“The speech was the zero hour … and Nasrallah will use it to delay his next
appearance so that he would not justify what happened,” he told An Nahar.
The FSA member criticized the government for allegedly adopting a policy to
distance itself from the regional crises, asking whether “the participation
of a government faction in killing the Syrian people is considered a policy
to steer themselves” clear of the Syrian war.
+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 18 Feb.’13:”Rise of Islamists frays strategic
SUBJECT:Islamist rise impact on UAE-Egypt
QUOTE:”Egypt under the Islamists’ rule is facing internal and foreign
FULL TEXT:Egyptians rally on Sunday in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, as
they demand justice for dozens of people killed in clashes with police in
late January after a court sentenced 21 football fans from the city to death
over a deadly football riot last year. Egypt under the Islamists’ rule is
facing internal and foreign relation-related challenges (AFP photo comment)
DUBAI — Days before his overthrow, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak received
a senior visitor from the United Arab Emirates, one of several Gulf
monarchies long supportive of the most Arab populous country and its veteran
What transpired between Mubarak and Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin
Zayed Al Nahayan is not known, beyond the fact that a letter from UAE ruler
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahayan was delivered.
But the significance of the February 8, 2011 visit was clear: It was a
gesture of understanding and concern for a long time friend who had been a
trusted diplomatic ally for most Gulf Arabs, not least in their
confrontation with non-Arab Iran.
Fast forward to 2013 and the picture is starkly different.
The UAE-Egyptian relationship has been strained by the regional spread of
Islamist influence — Egypt now has an elected Islamist president — with
implications not only for the two protagonists but all Arab states hit by
the uprisings against dictators and dynasties that began two years ago.
Poorer, densely populated Arab states like Egypt often look to Gulf states
for investment and financing, as well as overseas work for their nationals,
a need ever more acute with rulers under unprecedented pressure to produce
jobs and services.
The UAE, home to around 380,000 Egyptian expatriates and a major investor in
Egypt, pledged $3 billion of aid to Cairo in 2011. But the funds have not
yet been transferred, an Egyptian source familiar with the matter told
Reuters, mainly due to the political instability in post-revolution Egypt.
A break in relations between the Arab political heavyweight and the Gulf
financial powerhouse would be unthinkable. But the unfamiliar chill in their
dealings reflects an increasingly complicated relationship between these two
groups of countries.
Gulf states historically have sent aid and investment to less moneyed fellow
Arabs, and in return have received diplomatic support and sometimes military
The UAE-Egypt spat “does have a huge bearing on the success of the Arab
transitions”, said Jane Kinninmont of the British think tank Chatham House.
Huge economic needs
“Here you have a number of countries which are going through transitions but
which have huge economic needs. The obvious place for them to look is the
wealthy Gulf Arab countries.”
Arab countries received 62 per cent of all Gulf aid from 1970 to 2008,
according to a study by researchers Bessma Momani and Crystal Ennis in the
Cambridge Review of International Affairs.
For its part, the UAE needs to tread a careful line, analysts say.
Aggravating Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood could also affect UAE relations with
other countries, like Syria, where Islamists are playing a major role in the
revolt against President Bashar Assad.
And irking Egypt’s new rulers could also push Cairo closer to Shiite Iran,
arch-adversary of the Gulf Arabs.
Gulf Sunni Muslim rulers fear that, despite being a Sunni group itself, the
Brotherhood is soft on Iran, unlike Mubarak.
“The Emirates recognise that Egypt’s centrality in Arab affairs is an
important counter to Iran,” said Frederic Wehrey, Middle East programme
senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think
Gulf Arab states need a prosperous Egypt for a host of reasons, not least to
protect their own investments.
But history shows that financial help from the region sometimes reflects
shifts in the diplomatic climate — even if governments insist their
assistance is not political.
For example Jordan’s ties with the Gulf were hurt in 1990 when it refused to
join an alliance against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait. Many Palestinians and
Jordanians lost jobs in the Gulf where they enjoyed welfare state benefits
as expatriate workers. There are implications, too, for Gulf Arab states.
Most saw Mubarak’s fall as the result of a US decision to cast adrift an
erstwhile ally and common adversary of Iran, rather than as an acceptance of
an unstoppable revolution.
Crucially, Gulf Arab rulers alarmed by Mubarak’s ouster were further
disconcerted by the subsequent ascent to power of the Muslim Brotherhood,
Mubarak’s sworn foe and a group once cited in a US diplomatic cable as the
UAE’s “mortal enemy”.
If Washington was ready to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, could
it do the same in the Gulf, if a new democratic dispensation swept away the
region’s tradition of princely rule?
There is no shortage of evidence of UAE worries about the reach of
Islamists. On January 27 the UAE announced 94 of its citizens would go on
trial on charges of seeking to seize power, accusing them of being in
communication with the Brotherhood.
Many are believed to be members of Al Islah, an Islamist group suspected of
links to the Brotherhood, a movement founded in Egypt in 1928 and which is
banned in the Gulf Arab state. Islah says it has no connection to the global
Some analysts say the arrests are meant to send a message that Islamist
activities will not be tolerated, rather than reflecting a belief they pose
a significant security threat.
“The UAE has a rule: zero tolerance for political organisations of any sort
whether Islamists or non-Islamists, and these guys (Emiratis and Egyptians)
broke the law. Pure and simple,” UAE political scientist Abdelkhaleq
But the UAE has continued to strike a firm tone in public.
In October, Sheikh Abdullah, the foreign minister, said: “The Muslim
Brotherhood does not believe in the nation state. It does not believe in the
sovereignty of the state.”
An Emirati source close to the government said the minister’s comments were
directed at the Brotherhood, not Egypt, and the UAE saw the bilateral
relationship as a strategic one.
On January 1, a local newspaper reported that the UAE had also arrested 11
Egyptians on suspicion of training Islamists in how to overthrow
The Brotherhood replied by saying the 11 were wrongfully arrested. Local
media in the UAE said the Gulf Arab states had rejected a subsequent request
by Cairo to free the detainees.
For its part, the Brotherhood has sought to reassure Gulf Arabs it has no
plan to push for political change beyond Egypt’s borders. Egyptian President
Mohamed Morsi has said there is no plan to “export the revolution” —
comments welcomed by the UAE.
Both Egypt and the UAE publicly assert that they have a special
relationship. After all, Sheikh Abdullah had a meeting with Morsi, whose
roots are in the Brotherhood, in Egypt in September 2012 and delivered an
invitation for him to visit the UAE. A response is awaited.
Periods of strain
And yet the discordant tone will stir questions over Gulf Arab willingness
to make good on promises of support to Egypt, which desperately needs funds
to avert financial crisis.
While Gulf Arabs have pledged large sums to Egypt, helping stabilise its
currency, they are motivated by their own interests, Richard LeBaron, a
former US ambassador to Kuwait, wrote in a study for the Atlantic Council
He said most Gulf Arab states, wary of the Brotherhood, had adopted a “wait
and see” attitude toward new leaders in Egypt and Tunisia before committing
significant additional funds and seemed not to sense any urgency in making
Carnegie Endowment’s Wehrey wrote that while UAE-Egypt ties could face more
turbulence, matters could be resolved due to shared interests including a
need to counter Iranian influence and the Brotherhood’s need for Gulf
“A key first step is for both sides to avoid strident and provocative
statements that fuel the rancour that currently afflicts the relationship,”
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA