Can Turkey Use Water to Exert Power Across the Middle East?

ISTANBUL — Turkey hopes to take a first step this year towards long-held ambitions to be a supplier of fresh water across the Middle East.

The first phase of a project to pump fresh water from the Anamur River in southern Turkey to the drought-stricken northern part of Cyprus is slated to be completed this year, according to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Turkish government in Ankara.

The 1.2 billion lira (Dh2bn) pipeline, which runs under the Mediterranean, is to bring 75 million cubic metres of water a year to Northern Cyprus, an isolated self-declared republic recognised only by Ankara.

The Turkish ministry for forests and water said in a statement that work will be finished by July 20, the 40th anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 military intervention in Cyprus. Several experts in Turkey said the Cyprus water project could be a first step for Ankara to boost its role as a regional power by providing water to Middle East countries.

“It is technically feasible,” Ibrahim Gurer, a hydrologist at Gazi University in Ankara, said. “And it’s possible not only for Cyprus, but also for other countries like Israel or even Libya. It is not a distant dream.” Continue reading

Saudi Arabia and Qatar in ‘war on Iraq’: Maliki

Baghdad (AFP) – Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting militant groups in Iraq and have effectively declared war on the country, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said as nationwide violence left 15 dead Saturday.

The rare direct attack on the Sunni Gulf powers, with Maliki also accusing Riyadh of supporting global terrorism, comes with Iraq embroiled in its worst prolonged period of bloodshed since 2008, with more than 1,800 people killed already this year, ahead of parliamentary elections due next month. Continue reading

Oman’s $3 Billion Railroad Plan to Blunt Iran Oil Risk: Freight

Oman, which faces Iran across the Strait of Hormuz, said it’s poised to start raising cash for a $3 billion rail line offering an alternative route for oil and freight shipments that funnel through the 21 mile-wide channel.

The nation of 3.3 million people, located on the southern side of the strait, is considering issuing bonds by the end of 2014 to kick-start funding for the track across some of the Arabian peninsula’s harshest terrain, Abdulrahman Al Hatmi, a director at Oman National Railway Co., said in an interview. Continue reading

Iraq and Iran plot oil revolution in challenge to Saudi Arabia

Iraq’s goal of pumping 9m barrels a day of crude could be a game changer for oil prices and British companies

Iraq is poised to flood the oil market by tripling its capacity to pump crude by 2020 and is collaborating with Iran on strategy in a move that will challenge Saudi Arabia’s grip on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“We feel the world needs to be assured of fuel for economic growth,” Hussain al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq told oil industry delegates attending a Chatham House Middle East energy conference. Continue reading

‘Saddam gave orders to fire chemical weapons at Tel Aviv if he was toppled in First Gulf War’

Saddam Hussein gave orders to his subordinates to launch missiles with chemical warheads at Israel should he start to lose power during the First Gulf War, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Friday, citing tapes from the late Iraqi president’s archives.

According to the report, Hussein dispersed missiles armed with chemical weapons at bases across the country and gave orders to have them launched at the Jewish state should his regime collapse or he be cut off from his general staff. The list of strategic Israeli targets was drawn up and included, curiously, Haifa’s leading high-tech university, The Technion.

A professor from the university recounted in the report that a Jordanian official who visited the school told him that Saddam insisted the Technion be added to the list of strategic targets because a teacher at the school had spoken ill of him. Continue reading

Study Says U.S. Intelligence Agencies Not Equipped To Detect Foreign Nuclear Efforts

As was mentioned [(See here, and here (search engine yields more examples)] a few times, the un-intelligence communities are seemingly always 20 steps behind, which makes one question which is more alarming: An Iran with nuclear weapons, or a useless intelligence community?

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Bernama) — A three-year study by the Pentagon has concluded that American intelligence agencies are not yet organised or fully equipped to detect when foreign countries are developing nuclear weapons or ramping up their existing arsenals.

In a 100-page report by the Defense Science Board, the study said the agencies’ detection abilities, including finding “undeclared facilities and/or covert operations”, are “either inadequate, or more often, do not exist.” Continue reading

Dep. Defense Min. Hints at Israeli Strike on Iran

The Deputy Defense Minister, MK Danny Danon (Likud-Beytenu), has penned an article in the US-based Politico website that appears to be a warning about an Israeli intention to strike Iran’s nuclear weapon facilities.

The relatively short, 400-word article, refers to two previous cases in which Israel struck Islamic nuclear sites without US approval. Continue reading

Arab spring yields to Muslim winter

In France, more than 1000 cars were torched across the country on New Year’s Eve. It has become a tradition. As usual, the French media omitted to say most of the damage is done by young disaffected Muslim men and has become a form of protest.

In Iraq, the government has lost control of the city of Fallujah to the fundamentalist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, giving Islamists open control of a city for the first time since the US-led invasion in 2003. On Christmas Day, car bombs exploded outside three churches, killing 26 people and maiming 38, part of a campaign to remove Iraq’s rapidly decreasing Chaldean Christian population. Continue reading

US and Iran’s First Joint Military Venture: Fighting al Qaeda in Iraq

With the Geneva Nuclear Accord still far from implementation a month after it was signed in Geneva, the United States and Iran are moving into stage two of their rapprochement: They are now fighting together to crush Al Qaeda terror in Iraq, DEBKAfile’s exclusive military sources report.

Iraq is two weeks into a major offensive for cutting al Qaeda down – the first major military challenge the jihadists have faced in the past six years. Three armies are fighting alongside Iraq: the United States, Iran’s Al Qods Brigades officers and Syria. Continue reading

New Palestinian terror weapon: the Austrian Steyr .50 assassin’s rifle from Hizballah

The Palestinians are using a new weapon in their current campaign of terror against Israel. It is the Austrian single-shot Steyr 50 caliber sniper rifle which has an effective accurate range of up to 1,500 m. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that Palestinian terrorist planners intend to expand its use in the hands of highly-trained marksmen to keep pace with deliveries by Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hizballah of the Iranian-made version of this assassin’s weapon to the Gaza Strip. Continue reading

“Security Arc” forms amidst Mideast terror


Many observers are correct in noting that the Middle East is undergoing yet another seismic shift – that the Russian-brokered destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, a US-Iranian rapprochement, the diminished strategic value of Saudi Arabia and Israel, and a US withdrawal from Afghanistan will all contribute to changing regional dynamics considerably.

But what is this new direction? Where will it come from, who will lead it, what will define it? Continue reading

With US ties frayed, Saudi calls for Gulf union

Regardless of what Chuck Hagel says, the decisions regarding who or what will stay in the Middle East will increasingly be decided by a region who is taking the reins away from the US. Too much trust has been eroded with taking sides in the war on Syria, let alone witnessing the turning of entire countries upside down, such as Egypt and Libya.

With its decades-old US alliance strained over the Syria war and a nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia is calling on the Gulf monarchies to unite for their own self-defence.

US Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, visiting Saudi Arabia on Monday, has assured Gulf states that the agreement struck between major powers and Iran on November 24 will not affect the presence of some 35,000 US troops in the region. Continue reading