Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Arab Spring Update, 18 July 2012


What follows are all open source reports, so some may be fact, some may be fiction, and some may be downright deception.  Nevertheless, we are witnessing many interesting developments in the Middle East, especially considering that the US Presidential election is coming up in November.  Looking back to the 20th Century, war possibly assisted the advancement of progressive agendas for Presidents like Woodrow Wilson (WWI), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (WWII), and Lyndon Baines Johnson (Vietnam).

Iran:
  • United Arab Emirates inaugurated their new 236-mile oil pipeline that bypasses Straits of Hormuz with a capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day.  (Associated Press)  This will help to lessen the impact of any efforts by Iran to shut down the Straits.
  • The "floating base" USS Ponce and mine clearing robots (mini-subs) have been moved to the Persian Gulf to prevent Iranians from closing the Straits of Hormuz. (New York Times)
  • A 20-nation mine clearing exercise is scheduled in the Persian Gulf for September 16-27 in response to Iranian threats to shut down the Straits of Hormuz.  (NewsMax)
  • A third US carrier group (USS John C. Stennis) will be sent to the Persian Gulf months early in order to keep two carrier groups on station.  (Associated Press)
  • The US is building a radar site in Qatar that will reportedly complete a defense system designed to protect US and Allied interests in the Middle East from Iranian aggression.  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Some speculate that an attack on Iran will happen in October. (speculation from DEBKAFile)
Syria:
  • Syria's former ambassador to Iraq claims that Bashar Assad will not hesitate to employ chemical weapons to put down the uprising in Syria. (UPI)
  • Bomber kills Assad's brother-in-law, Syrian defense minister, and senior military general.  (Reuters)
  • Reports of heavy Saudi Arabian troop movement toward Jordanian/Iraqi borders.  (DEBKAFile; cannot verify with another source)
  • Russians moving 11 ships to the Mediterranean. (New York Times)
Libya: Initial Parliamentary election results place the liberal (non-Islamist) alliance of Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril's National Forces in the lead with 39 seats.  The Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction party gained 17 seats.  The other 24 seats were won by other factions.  We have yet to see the results of the liberal and Islamist efforts to build coalitions.  (Haaretz)  This could actually be good news, but we need to see the rhetoric and platform for the National Forces Alliance to truly understand the implications of this election for the security of the West, Israel, and the future of the Caliphate.

Egypt: Tantawi and the ruling generals disbanded the Islamist-dominated Parliament, which the Supreme Constitutional Court upheld.  However, the Muslim Brotherhood President Mursi told the Parliament to reconvene, which they did.  Secretary Hillary Clinton visited Egypt afterwards to voice her support for full civilian rule, the military assuming a pure military role, to encourage the Egyptian government to support women and minority rights, and respect the peace treaty with Israel. (BBCLA Times)

Tunisia: The government has declared that the hard-line Islamist group, Hizb al-Tahrir, can become a legitimate political party in Tunisia.  Hizb al-Tahrir calls for the restoration of the Caliphate, and attempted to hold a conference in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, to further their cause (see the AAE post on the conference).  In May, the Tunisian government legitimized Islah Front , a hard-line Salafi Islamist group, as a political party.  (EuroNews/Reuters)

Mali: After the coup in March and the attempt by Tuareg rebels in the north to secede from Mali, Islamists linked to al Qaeda have since hijacked the secession effort in the north.  (FoxNews)  So how is it al Qaeda shows up everywhere that Sunni Muslims are fighting either Shia or those outside of Islam?  I contend that al Qaeda is acting as the tip of the jihadist spear for the Muslim Brotherhood, a relationship that has since been strengthened by the death of Osama bin Laden.

Disclaimer: These opinions are solely my own, and do not reflect the opinions or official positions of any United States Government agency, organization or department.

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