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

“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

Saudi Arabia’s proxy wars

Saudi Arabia appears resolute: It wants Bashar Al-Assad out of Damascus. The Saudis view the fighting in Syria with the same intensity that they did the civil war in Yemen that raged in the 1960s—as a conflict with wide and serious repercussions that will shape the political trajectory of the Middle East for years to come.

The Syrian war presents the Saudis with a chance to hit three birds with one stone: Iran, its rival for regional dominance, Tehran’s ally Assad and his Hezbollah supporters. But Riyadh’s policy makers are wary. They know that once fully committed, it will be difficult to disengage. And so they are taking to heart the lessons of another regional war that flared on their border 50 years ago. Continue reading

China Set To Grab UAV Market While US Restricts Sales

PARIS: Psst. Hey mister. Wanna buy a UAV? China’s got drones for shooting, drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and drones for target practice. Cheap prices and no arms export restrictions.

And China may grab a significant share of the international market for just those reasons, according to a new report by the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Breaking Defense obtained a copy of the report: China’s Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Industry [sic]

The irony would be, of course, that the United States has largely created that demand by demonstrating the utility of drones (UAVs, Remotely Piloted Aircraft — RPAs — pick your term) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and other locales over the last decade. Continue reading

From Sea to Shining Sea

Eighteen miles. That’s the width of the Bab el-Mandab passageway, the narrow stretch of ocean separating Djibouti from Yemen that connects the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. In strategic terms, this passage is crucial. Control the Bab el-Mandab passage and you control the eastern half of one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.

That is exactly what Iran is looking to do. Few recognize it—but it’s happening under our noses. All you have to do is look at Yemen. Continue reading

Seized Chinese Weapons Raise Concerns on Iran

An Iranian dhow seized off the Yemeni coast was carrying sophisticated Chinese antiaircraft missiles, a development that could signal an escalation of Iran’s support to its Middle Eastern proxies, alarming other countries in the region and renewing a diplomatic challenge to the United States.

Among the items aboard the dhow, according to a review of factory markings on weapons and their packing crates, were 10 Chinese heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, most of them manufactured in 2005.

The missiles were labeled QW-1M and bore stencils suggesting that they had been assembled at a factory represented by the state-owned China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation, sanctioned by the United States for transfers of missile technology to Pakistan and Iran. Continue reading

NASA: Alarming water loss in Middle East

The study, to be published Friday in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, examined data over seven years from 2003 from a pair of gravity-measuring satellites which is part of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment or GRACE. Researchers found freshwater reserves in parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins had lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of its total stored freshwater, the second fastest loss of groundwater storage loss after India.

About 60 percent of the loss resulted from pumping underground reservoirs for ground water, including 1,000 wells in Iraq, and another fifth was due to impacts of the drought including declining snow packs and soil drying up. Loss of surface water from lakes and reservoirs accounted for about another fifth of the decline, the study found. Continue reading

Yemen: Seized Iranian ship carried ‘large, diverse and dangerous’ weapons

A ship seized by Yemeni authorities last month carried a wide variety of Iranian-made weapons, Yemen’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

They included material for bombs and suicide belts, explosives, Katyusha rockets, surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and large amounts of ammunition. Continue reading

“Innocence” Film a Premeditated Provocation for Islamic Terror?

On April 5, 1986, Libyan secret forces detonated a 2-kilogram bomb in a disco club in West Berlin, resulting in the loss of American lives – civilian and military, then further injuring 229 others (79 of which were Americans).

Only nine days later, on April 14, 1986, the United States under then-President Reagan, launched retaliatory air strikes in response to this and other carried out terrorist attacks against American interests. Libya was at the mercy of the United States within one hour.

In contrast with todays paralleled times, what has the Obama administration done? It has stuck its head in the sand and avoided the responsibility of protecting American interests and lives. Sure, today is a different world the critics would reply. That may be so, however, the Obama administration has already toppled the country via long-planned incited revolutionary means – which resulted in this mess to begin with.

Reagan put an end to what made the tragic event in 1986 happen while Obama helped facilitate the means to make what in 2012 just happened.

This is not to condone war, because war is truly hell. The difference here lies in between what is justified and unjustified. We are now a weak nation and reduced to a joke in the eyes of the enemy — be it China, Russia, Iran or tin pot tyrants in North Korea.

“When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I’m in this office.”— Ronald Reagan (Source)

“As Commander in Chief, I face no greater decision than sending our military men and women into harm’s way. And the United States should not—and cannot—intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world.” – Barack Obama (Source)

On September 11, 2012, around 9:30 p.m. Libya time, the American consulate in Benghazi came under sustained attack from heavily armed Jihadists, ultimately resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, computer technician Sean Smith, and U.S. Navy SEALs Glenn Dougherty and Tyrone Woods, who attempted their rescue. Earlier that afternoon, Egyptian Muslims attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, pulling down the American flag. Subsequent protests saw violence in Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere throughout the Muslim world.

As details emerged it became clear that the Benghazi raid was a premeditated, carefully planned attack by heavily armed Jihadists, coordinated with radicals in Egypt and other Mideast countries, and timed for the anniversary of 9-11, 2001. Libyan leaders confirmed as much shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, until September 27th the Obama administration was implausibly still insisting that the attacks were inspired by the movie. Now, more than two weeks after the attack, they are finally admitting they knew the truth within 24 hours.

Full article: “Innocence” Film a Premeditated Provocation for Islamic Terror? (Trevor Loudon)

Germany: “Islamists Want to Bring Jihad to Europe”

As a lot of other countries in Europe, Germany is beginning to take a turn further to the right on the political spectrum. Cultures are colliding and one is resisting losing its identity.

The report also states that over 100,000 native Germans have converted to Islam in recent years.

German Intelligence Chief Gerhard Schindler has issued a warning saying that Europe is at great risk of terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists.

In a wide-ranging interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, Schindler said the German foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is particularly concerned about the threat posed by homegrown terrorists, individuals who are either born or raised in Europe and who travel to war zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen to obtain training in terrorist methods.

Schindler said: “A particular threat stems from Al Qaeda structures in Yemen. They want to bring Jihad to Europe. Among other tactics, this involves the ‘lone wolf’ model, which involves individuals who are citizens of the targeted country and who go abroad for training. We know that this is strategy is currently high on Al Qaeda’s agenda, and we are accordingly attentive.”

Schindler’s comments came just days after Spanish authorities arrested three suspected al Qaeda terrorists who were allegedly plotting an airborne attack on a shopping mall near Gibraltar, the British overseas territory on the southernmost tip of Spain.

The 54-page document, “Radicalization Processes in the Context of Islamic Extremism and Terrorism,” which provides countless details about the Islamist scene in Germany, paints a worrisome picture of the threat of radical Islam there.

According to the report, German security agencies estimate that approximately 1,140 individuals living in Germany pose a high risk of becoming Islamic terrorists. The document also states that up to 100,000 native Germans have converted to Islam in recent years, and that “intelligence analysis has found that converts are especially susceptible to radicalization…Security officials believe that converts comprise between five to ten percent of the Salafists.”

Full article: Germany: “Islamists Want to Bring Jihad to Europe” (Gatestone Institute)

Why You Should Pay Attention to Yemen

Nation by nation, Iran is extending its reach in a bid to rein over the Middle East. If allowed to continue taking control of the world’s strategic chokepoints, Iran can affect the world as it sees fit.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Fars News Agency, citing a spokesman for Yemen’s Revolutionary Forces, reported that “the Yemeni people are deeply interested to establish stronger and very intimate relations with Iran.” According to Fars, the spokesman “reiterated that once the Yemeni people take back power from the Saudi-U.S. pivot, Tehran and Sanaa would certainly develop their ties” (emphasis added).

So, what does Iran expect to gain by establishing a strong presence in Yemen?

Take a look at the accompanying map. Basically, Iran wants Yemen for the same reason it wants Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt: to control the Red Sea!

(See full story for map)

Yemen is adjacent to both the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It sits on the north side of the Bab el-Mandab passageway. Every ship that passes through this passage—and there are thousands every year—would travel within easy range of Islamist missiles stationed in Yemen. Consider the global ramifications: Nearly 30 percent of global oil supplies, more than 2 million barrels per day, pass through the Suez and the Red Sea. Roughly 20,000 ships, an average of 55 per day, pass through the Suez Canal and Red Sea each year. About 15 percent of global maritime trade travels through the Red Sea.

Talk about power and leverage!

Few see it, but ultimately, this is Iran’s grand strategy for endorsing and promoting the Islamification of Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and to a lesser extent, Yemen and Djibouti!

Think about the leverage Iran is gaining. It already effectively controls the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Now, in the 18 months since the Arab Spring touched off the rise of Islamist forces throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Tehran has made enormous strides in gaining influence over the Gulf of Aden, the Bab el-Mandab passageway, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. If Egypt takes control of the Sinai, which appears imminent, Iran will also gain a foothold in the Gulf of Aqaba. It’s startling, when you really think about it, the way Iran is quietly, steadily—without hardly anyone noticing—locking down the Red Sea!

Full article: Why You Should Pay Attention to Yemen (The Trumpet)

Americans talk about an Israeli strike on Iran, but prepare own offensive

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has been outspoken about a possible Israeli offensive against Iran taking place as of April and one American TV channel theorized simplistically Friday, Feb. 3, about Israel’s tactics. At the same time, no US source is leveling on the far more extensive American, Saudi, British, French and Gulf states’ preparations going forward for an offensive against the Islamic Republic.

Tehran too is gearing up for conflict: The Iranian Guards Ground Forces chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour Saturday, Feb. 4 announced the start of a three-week exercise in southern Iran and the Strait of Hormuz under conditions of war. debkafile: The “exercise” is in fact an Iranian military buildup ahead of a possible American or Israel attack.

debkafile’s military sources report a steady flow of many thousands of US troops for some weeks to two strategic islands within reach of Iran, Oman’s Masirah just south of the Strait of Hormuz and Socotra, between Yemen and the Horn of Africa. (DEBKA-Net-Weekly 526 of Jan. 27 was the first world publication to reveal the massive concentration of American might on the two islands.)

Full article: Americans talk about an Israeli strike on Iran, but prepare own offensive (DEBKAfile)