Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More birth-pangs expected

Nahrainnet.net, the Sadrist news site, cites informed sources in the Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the effect that these states have over the past three weeks been instituting states or military and civil-defence readiness for repercussions from an expected US attack on Iran. The measures include canceling military leave, setting up special military and civil-defence command headquarters, testing warning sirens, and so on. In the case of Saudi and the UAE, the sources said the state of readiness is "level c" which is the highest. The report concludes:
These Gulf sources say senior political and military leaders in these countries have become convinced that a military strike against Iran is coming, without any doubt, in the coming three months and that in fact it could be very close. The sources said the military leaders are dealing with the possibilities of an attack on Iran because they have concluded that this is a certainty and not just a "possibility" !! What they are not able to anticipate is the size of the attack and the scope of the targets of the rockets and deadly bombs within Iran. Nor are they able to predict whether the attack will be carried out by America alone, or together with Israel.
Meanwhile in Lebanon, a UN source denied the UNIFIL commander had warned the Lebanese government of a possible withdrawal of the European troops from south Lebanon in the coming months, in the face of possible war between Israel and Lebanon. This followed disclosure of a large-scale maneuver by Hizbullah (but without showing weapons or uniforms) in reponse to reported large-scale Israeli maneuvers near the Lebanon border late last week. A Hizbullah spokesperson said the purpose of the operation was to demonstrate to friends and enemies that Hizbullah is ready for an Israeli attack.

And in Israel, a member of parliament said Defence Minister Barak told a committee that the present moment is not the right time for the expected broad attack on Gaza, implying that the Annapolis Conference preparations are the reason.

And NY Congressman Gary Ackerman served as the vehicle for the expected additional pressure on Egypt respecting smuggling arms and other things into Gaza from Egypt. Egyptian officials had earlier told Ackerman that corrupt Israeli officials were fostering this, but he wasn't buying that, or rather he said contribution from Israeli side was "random" while the contribution from the Egyptian side was "systematic".

As for Egypt, Abdulbari Atwan reminded readers in his Monday op-ed that the country is a broken reed, no longer having meaningful influence anywhere in the region. On the occasion of the ruling party's annual meeting, he noted that the speech by Mubarak fils, greeted with a standing ovation, was actually the same speech that has been delivered at these meetings for each of the past 20 years (the regime is actually 26 years old), promising in almost identical language improvements in conditions for the poor (Atwan notes around 20% of the population lives on less than the equivalent of a dollar a day), and so on. At the end of the piece, Atwan adds this:
The population of Egypt is actually quite intelligent, with enormous cultural reservoirs, and they are not going to be fooled by these circus games. They are a people with admirable patience, but once they rise up, no one will be able to stop them, moreover they will find the military establishment standing side by side with them, perhaps even ahead of them, leading them to deliverance, as they have done in earlier times when [like now] the falsification of the democratic process emptied it of all meaning.


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