It’s A “Geopolitical Earthquake”: A Stunned World Responds After Saudi Alliance Cuts All Ties With Qatar

 

Virtually nobody saw it coming.

Late on Sunday night, the Saudi-led alliance of Gulf Arab states, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain including Egypt, shocked the world when they announced they had severed ties and closed borders with one of the Gulf’s wealthiest, if smallest, neighbors Qatar, a (now former) member of the Gulf Cooperation Council in what we called a “geopolitical earthquake” and what Bloomberg dubbed an unprecedented move designed to punish one of the region’s financial superpowers for its ties with Iran and Islamist groups in the region.” Continue reading

Iran Expands Regional ‘Empire’ Ahead of Nuclear Deal

BEIRUT (Reuters) – With Iran moving closer to a deal with world powers to constrain its nuclear program in return for an end to sanctions, Arab analysts and leaders are focused more on how Tehran is working unconstrained to tighten its grip on Arab states, from Iraq to Lebanon, and Syria to Yemen.

The man behind what some see as an attempt to create a new Persian and Shi’ite “empire” on Arab land is Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the al-Quds brigade of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Since he emerged from the shadows last autumn, Soleimani seems to be omnipresent on the battlefields of the Middle East. Continue reading

World on brink of an oil price war

Next month’s Opec meeting will take place against a background of dissension between two power blocs in an organisation that controls the lifeblood of the global economy, reports Andrew Critchelow.

A secretive group of the world’s most powerful oil ministers will soon gather in Vienna to take arguably one of the most important decisions that could affect the still fragile world economy: whether to cut production of crude to defend prices at US$100 per barrel, or keep open the spigots as winter looms among the biggest energy-consuming nations.

A sudden slump in the price of crude has exposed deep divisions within the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) ahead of its final scheduled meeting of the year next month to decide on how much oil to pump.

Some members, led by Iran, have called for immediate action to stem the drop in oil prices, while the Arab sheikhdoms of the Gulf have so far argued that it could be another three months before it becomes clear whether the group should cut production for the first time since December 2008. Whatever they decide, oil remains the lifeblood of the global economic system due to its direct impact on inflation and input prices. Continue reading

U.S. suggests Israel form new alliances in changing Mideast

JERUSALEM — The United States has envisioned new power alignments in the Middle East that could include Israel cooperating more closely with the Gulf Arab states.

Officials said such factors as the Arab Spring, the threat from Iran and the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood have opened opportunities throughout the Middle East. Continue reading

Breaking bad: Qatar splits with Gulf neighbors over Iran in blow to U.S. strategy

WASHINGTON — The unprecedented crisis among the Gulf Arab states threatens U.S. military support to its Arab allies, a report said.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy said the confrontation between three Gulf Cooperation Council states and Qatar would “complicate” efforts by the United States to integrate Gulf Arab strategy. Continue reading

Gulf nations to create joint military command

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab neighbors wrapped up a summit meeting in Kuwait on Wednesday by agreeing to establish a joint military command, paving the way for tighter security coordination even as their regional rival Iran pursues outreach efforts in the wake of its interim nuclear deal.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council also agreed to lay the foundations for a joint Gulf police force and a strategic studies academy, according to a summary of the group’s closing statement carried by the official Kuwait News Agency. Continue reading

Barak Warns Israel Ready to Go It Alone on Iran

Have Israeli leaders gotten tired of waiting for Obama on Iran? Defense Minister Barak says Jerusalem won’t rely on Washington.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Wednesday that Jerusalem is “committed to doing everything it can in order to stop Iran from going nuclear.”

I am “fully aware of the difficulties and complexities involved in preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons,” Barak told graduates of the IDF National Security College.

Israel is facing “difficult and fateful decisions” in weighing methods to stop Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment program, he said.

Iranian officials contend that their program has only peaceful goals, but officials in Jerusalem, the West, and Gulf Arab states say Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Barak said “having to deal with the challenge” of an Iran possessing nuclear bombs “would be many times more complex, dangerous and costly, both in terms of human life and in terms of resources, than a preemptive strike.”

Barak said Israel would remain responsible for its own security, rather than depending on other states, such as the United States.

Referring to the last two years of tumultuous changes in the region, Barak said the so-called Arab Spring “has slowly become an Islamic Summer,” a development that “teaches us that in the moment of truth, we can only rely on ourselves.”

The defense minister insisted that “America understands that the government of Israel — and it alone — holds the ultimate responsibility of the decisions that affect the security and future of the State of Israel.”

Full article: Barak Warns Israel Ready to Go It Alone on Iran (Arutz Sheva 7)

U.S. Navy: Iran prepares suicide bomb boats in Gulf

“They have increased the number of submarines … they increased the number of fast attack craft,” Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters. “Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory.”

“We have watched with interest their development of long range rockets and short, medium and long range ballistic missiles and of course … the development of their nuclear program,” Fox, who heads the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said at a briefing on the fleet’s base in the Gulf state of Bahrain.

Iran now has 10 small submarines, he said.

Full article: U.S. Navy: Iran prepares suicide bomb boats in Gulf (Reuters)