Petrodollars going into arms purchases Israel warns

during a conference at an Israeli Think-Tank, especially Syria was pointed at:

Syria is poised to begin talks on major arms purchases in light of expectations of increased revenue due to rising oil prices, Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin hinted at a lecture at the intelligence community’s heritage center in Glilot, north of Tel Aviv. Yadlin said larger oil producers like Iran and Saudi Arabia were also channeling their oil revenues into arms deals.

Oh and of course don’t forget that piece of information:

Some of these weapons are apparently being transfered to Hezbollah, including the array Hezbollah has deployed along the border between Lebanon and Israel. (…) Syria reportedly has pinpointed a weakness in the U.S. because of its complications in Iraq and is urging Hezbollah not to give in to the demand to disarm.

And just for you to rest assured that there is not something fishy going on:

Meanwhile, the defense establishment is closely following tensions between Jordan, Syria and Hamas.

Yet there are still some more or less interesting thoughts here:

It is also believed that the Hamas cell may have been working under orders from the Syrian regime. Yet another scenario is that Hamas is cooperating with the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, and this has Amman very worried.
Jordan’s accusations against Hamas may also be a way of justifying the cold shoulder it has given the organization since its election victory in the PA.

So either all this Hamas accusation story is a scam (US and Israeli interference, sending wrong intelligence reports, etc.) or Arab governments are really acting with great incompetence. But I wonder if it’s Jordan or Syria lighting the fire.
Any thoughts on this one friends and relatives??

Thank you Sweden

Sweden protests Israeli role in drill

Sweden withdrew from an international air force drill to protest Israel’s participation.
Sweden and Israel were among nine countries due to take part in next month’s Spring Flag air exercises in Sardinia, intended to boost cooperation for peacekeeping operations.
But the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm announced this week that the Swedish delegation would not take part because of the Israeli Air Force’s involvement.
“Our analysis of the situation for the time being is that an Israeli participation in this kind of peacekeeping effort is unlikely given the political situation in the Middle East,” ministry spokesman Christian Carlsson told Swedish Radio.

French foreign diplomacy

Hey friends and relatives,

Check out the competence of the French Foreign Affairs Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, when dealing with Middle Eastern issues from Lebanon to Iran. This article is truely hilarious… (Thank you M.S. for referring it to me)
Just to give an example:

La presse israélienne, éberluée, l’a suivi jusqu’au musée Yad Vashem de la Shoah, à Jérusalem. Long arrêt devant une carte d’Europe qui présente chaque pays en deux colonnes figurant l’importance des communautés juives “avant et après” la seconde guerre mondiale. Le ministre français : “Il n’y a pas eu de juifs tués en Angleterre ?” Réponse gênée du conservateur du musée : “Mais, M. le ministre, l’Angleterre n’a pas été occupée par les nazis.” M. Douste-Blazy n’a pas sourcillé et a repris : “Mais il n’y a pas de juifs expulsés d’Angleterre ?”

If the political “14 of March” establishment take advice (actually orders…) from guys like that, good luck Lebanon, and for that matter good luck the Middle East!

The possible privatization of security

or the on-going distrust in the State
Something to work with dear friends, something to be wary of:
Nadim Gemayel has opened a new “house” (bayt) in Ashrafieh, as we have “houses” of Phalangist here and there in the country. It may be a benign action (Nadim fares badly relative to the leadership and mobilization skills his father Bachir had), but still what worries me is the motives behind such a move, signaling an ongoing disease in Lebanese civil society.

According to this article in Annahar, following the “attacks on Ashrafieh” that happened earlier this year, referring to the bunch of lunatics coming from the north of Lebanon to destroy the Danish consulate, Gemayel and his followers decided to take ‘appropriate actions’ in order to cope with such ‘practices’. The extent of the meaning of these terms is at best vague, but still it shows a clear distrust in the apparatus of the state as the provider of security. Meaning that, we’re back to square one. Square one meaning right before 1975.

This is should be read the same way you read that the Lebanese Forces are re-arming themselves. Other sources held that Hariri house already has a private militia. Notwithstanding private security companies here and there, and the fragile cohesion of the army, where can we head for from here?

Like in the good old days!

Iran to help Cuban oil industry

TEHRAN, April 25 (UPI) — Iran and Cuba have signed wherein the Islamic republic will help Havana modernize its oil industry, IRNA reported.
The deal, signed by Iran’s Agriculture Jihad Minister Mohammad Eskandari and Cuba State Minister Ricardo Cabrisas, in Tehran last Saturday, came as part of an economic cooperation agreement at the end of Iran-Cuba joint 11th Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation Commission, IRNA said in a Monday report.
Among other things, the two sides agreed to cooperate in building and modernizing refineries and in oil exploration activities.
Cabrisas called the meeting a “success.”
Cuba is one of the few nations in the Caribbean region to have significant oil and gas reserves, according to the U.S. Energy Department Energy Information Administration. Still, it is heavily dependent on petroleum imports from Venezuela sold at a discounted rate.
Iran has the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia.

That’s another reason why the US will be very determined to intervene in Iran.

Solidere in the line of fire

Finally some interesting movements in Lebanon’s dormant civil society. Solidere wanting to extend its term, and illegal foundations of its work should be researched and publicized much more oftenly.

The economy and the Syrian presence

An interesting article by Renoud Leenders (who wrote an interesting chapter of the latest edited book by Steven Heydemann “Networks of Privilege”) translated in the Lebanese daily Al Safir (cannot find the original source) assesses the link all-to-often made between economic problems in Lebanon and the Syrian presence there. He bases his analysis on the recent works of two Lebanese scholars, Samir Makdissi and Toufic Gaspard.
Although a bit vague and not very deep in its assessment of the past and current economic linkages, It still is a must read article that, once and for all, critically separates between administrative impotence and “foreign presence” in Lebanon as variables that affects growth rates and the overall level of development.