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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Middle East Roundup

The Middle-East threatens to explode into numerous civil war and regional conflicts.

First, Iran continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program notwithstanding that everyone in the region expects that Iran would use its weapons offensively, or a shield to allow it to attack weaker neighbours. Thus, it was announced earlier this week that the U.S. is moving to the Gulf of Arabia underwater "drones" designed to seek out and destroy sea mines.
The Navy is rushing dozens of unmanned underwater craft to the Persian Gulf to help detect and destroy mines in a major military buildup aimed at preventing Iran from closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the event of a crisis, U.S. officials said.

The tiny SeaFox submersibles each carry an underwater television camera, homing sonar and an explosive charge. The Navy bought them in May after an urgent request by Marine Gen. James Mattis, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East.

Each submersible is about 4 feet long and weighs less than 100 pounds. The craft are intended to boost U.S. military capabilities as negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program appear to have stalled. Three rounds of talks since April between Iran and the five countries in the United Nations Security Council plus Germany have made little progress.

Some U.S. officials are wary that Iran may respond to tightening sanctions on its banking and energy sectors, including a European Union oil embargo, by launching or sponsoring attacks on oil tankers or platforms in the Persian Gulf. Some officials in Tehran have threatened to close the narrow waterway, a choke point for a fifth of the oil traded worldwide.
In Egypt, it is increasingly looking like there may be a clash between the secularist military and Islamic Brotherhood.
Sacked MPs vowed to force their way through a security cordon in a bid to re-open parliament on Tuesday despite a hardline statement from the military.

In what was seen as a warning to President Mohammed Morsi, the military said it expected everyone to respect constitution

The military said it “was confident all institutions of state will respect constitutional decrees,” adding “the importance of the sovereignty of law and the constitution” to protect the state.

The Constitutional Court upheld its dissolution of parliament, escalating a power struggle between Mohammed Morsi, the new president, and Egypt’s generals.

The showdown represents an attempt by Morsi to reclaim much of the authority shorn from him by his military rivals, who claimed legislative power for themselves just before he took office ten days ago.

Its outcome could dictate Egypt’s immediate future.

In an open challenge to the generals, Mr Morsi on Sunday ordered parliament, which is dominated by fellow members of the Muslim Brotherhood, to reconvene despite a court order, made at the military’s behest, for it to dissolve.
By the end of this, the generals are going to wish that they had backed Mubarak. But, Obama will get his wish--an Egypt actively hostile to the West.

And Iraq once again demonstrates that the Middle-East is not really ready for Western style democracy, as it edges closer to a civil war based on religious and tribal affiliation.
A dramatic uptick in violence and political instability in Iraq have raised fears that Baghdad once again is tilting toward civil war.

A half-year after the U.S. military left Iraq, the war-weary country is beset by violence as insurgents take advantage of the power struggles between the country’s ethnic and sectarian factions.

“Iraqis are living in real tragedy every day. It is unfair to just leave the Iraqis facing such difficult circumstances,” Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Times.

June was Iraq’s second-deadliest month since U.S. troops pulled out Dec. 18, 2011, and a major bombing or shooting rampage occurs about twice a week. Many target Shiite pilgrims and carry the hallmarks of al Qaeda — although some Iraqis said they think other factions are responsible.

Clashes in neighboring Syria and lethal attacks by the Sunni-led opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime are emboldening Iraqi Sunnis to attack government targets, exacerbating sectarian tensions in a “spillover” effect, regional analysts say.

“It’s quite remarkable to me that everyone is so concerned about Syria and the spillover that could take place with a Syrian civil war, but an Iraqi civil war would be worse,” said Ken Pollack, director of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

“Iraq is an oil producer and is in the midst of one of the most important regions. The spillover could affect Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Pollack said. “All the things that make us concerned about Syria ought to go double for Iraq.”
 And the civil war in Syria took on a more serious and sinister note with the Syrian military has started moving its stockpiles of chemical weapons.
Syria has started to move part of its chemical weapons arsenal out of storage facilities, according to U.S. officials.

The country's undeclared stockpiles of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide have long worried the U.S. officials and its allies in the region, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Western nations have looked for signs amid the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad's government of any change in the location of those weapons, believed to be the world's largest stockpile.

American officials are divided on the reason for moving the arsenal.

Some fear Assad may want to use the weapons against rebels or civilians, while others said perhaps he is trying to safeguard them from his opponents.
If the weapons are being moved to "safeguard" them, it indicates that the government fears losing territory to the rebels. That simply pushes Syria one step closer to using the weapons out of desperation.

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