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Posts Tagged ‘Oman’

Pakistanis deported from Greece, Oman

April 12th, 2012 Comments off

A group of 97 Pakistani migrants who were detained in Oman for illegally entering the country were deported Thursday. Another 67 Pakistanis were deported from Greece, media reports said.
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India lose to Oman 1-5 in football

February 24th, 2012 Comments off

India went down 1-5 to higher-ranked Oman in a football friendly at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex Stadium here Thursday.
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500 'unpaid' Indian workers stage protest in Oman

January 5th, 2012 Comments off

Nearly 500 Indian workers protested in Oman demanding action against their company for not paying them for working overtime and deducting random amounts from their salary every month.
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Iraq, UAE & Oman considering F-16 orders

July 15th, 2011 Comments off
Categories: Arab Blogs Tags: amp, McClatchy, Oman, Source, UAE

Oman expatriates asked to get residency card for their 15-year-old children

April 24th, 2011 Comments off

The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has urged the country's expatriates to get residency card for their children once they turn 15 to meet the Expatriates Residency Law.
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Categories: Arab News Tags: Expatriates, Oman, ROP, Source

God Only Knows

May 21st, 2010 Comments off

No doubt powered by a serious cocktail of amphetamines, Hosni Mubarak undertook his first trip abroad this week since he was hospitalized in Germany — a sign that he is gradually returning to business as usual, or at least that he wants to be seen as doing so. His regimen these days seems to be a meeting a day, and one major speech in two or three months. During his trip abroad — a summit with Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, with whom he is said to be plotting to corner the hair dye futures market (a hot commodity from the Mediterranean region to the Gulf to South Asia) —Boss Hozz came out with the following pearl:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Wednesday that only God could know who would succeed him following his 29-year-old rule, the official MENA news agency reported.
Dogging a question on his possible successor by an Italian reporter, Mubarak spontaneously said that “only God could know that.”

It reminds me of something a friend of mine who’s often sought for commentary on succession used to frequently say about Egypt’s post-Mubarak future and the deliberately cultivated ambiguity about it: “not even God himself knows what Mubarak is thinking about succession.” This might be an apt time to reflect a to why Mubarak has never designated a successor or appointed a vice-president who would be seen as such. As I see it, there are three main reasons:

  1. In the early Mubarak period, there was a clear alternative from within the regime in Field Marshall Abu Ghazala, who was ousted from his position as minister of defense in 1989 and remained under house arrest (more or less) for the rest of his life. By not appointing a vice-president, Mubarak refrained from formalizing that alternative. After he consolidated power, Mubarak never saw a need to anoint anyone else with the vice-presidency, since even personalities not thought to be presidentiable (such as himself and Anwar al-Sadat) obtained legitimacy from the position. Cultivating a strategic ambiguity about succession has kept attention where Mubarak likes it best: on himself as kingmaker and ultimate decider.
  2. A second related reason has to do with threats from outside Egypt rather than inside it. Had there been a vice-president, it would become tempting for a certain major power (you know who you are!) looking to influence Egypt’s domestic and foreign policy to meddle in regime politicking. Just look at Pakistan’s history. It would have also been tempting for peer powers in the region — Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Israel — to also have another point of contact within the Egyptian regime that could present a credible alternative.
  3. A final and more speculative question that has to be asked, considering Gamal Mubarak’s rise in influence over the past decade, is whether Mubarak pere has been plotting to install his son for years. It’s probably more organic than that — Gamal’s rise stems from his father’s reluctance to share room at the top of the pyramid; a son is a natural trusted proxy (although not always, as deposed sultans of Oman and Qatar know). But one of the more interesting questions in today’s Egypt is how Hosni Mubarak feels about tawreeth: is he fully on board, reluctantly so, or even very ambivalent about in a “King Lear” elderly paranoid way? 

 While you think about that, listen to this track (dedicated to Mystic Mubarak):

And then go on to read Adam Shatz masterful portrait of late Mubarak Egypt at the London Review of Books, Mubarak’s Last Breath:

Under Mubarak, Egypt, the ‘mother of the earth’ (umm idduniya), has seen its influence plummet. Nowhere is the decline of the Sunni Arab world so acutely felt as in Cairo ‘the Victorious’, a mega-city much of which has turned into an enormous slum. The air is so thick with fumes you can hardly breathe, the atmosphere as constricted as the country’s political life.

Frustration, shame, humiliation: it does not take much for Egyptians to call up these feelings. It’s still often said that ‘what happens in Egypt affects the entire Arab world,’ but nothing much has happened there in years. Egypt has fallen behind Saudi Arabia – not to mention non-Arab countries like Turkey and Iran – in regional leadership. Even tiny Qatar has a more independent foreign policy. Egypt is by far the largest Arab country, with 80 million inhabitants, yet it’s seen by most Arabs – and by the Egyptians themselves – as a client state of the United States and Israel, who depend on Mubarak to ensure regional ‘stability’ in the struggle with the ‘resistance front’ led by Iran.

Read the whole thing.



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World’s Richest Heads of State

May 21st, 2010 Comments off

Via The Gulf Blog, a list of the world’s richest heads of state, derived from this article at The Independent, we find some surprises.

No, no Arab monarch tops the list. The King of Thailand is, to my surprise, first. The Sultan of Brunei is second, which is not a surprise: he basically rules an oilfield. Then comes the President of the UAE/Ruler of Abu Dhabi, not surprising in itself but ahead of the King of Saudi Arabia, which did surprise me.

Fifth, however, is Silvio Berlusconi. I knew he was very rich in Italian terms, but didn’t know that he was richer than most Gulf monarchs.

The Prince of Liechtenstein is sixth. Huh? Obviously due to Liechtenstein’s vast imperial outreach.

Seventh is Qatar, no surprise. Surprised it wasn’t higher.

Next they list Asaf Ali Zardari, leader of Pakistan, grieving widower of Benazir Bhutto. There are allegations of corruption. Really?

Ninth is Prince Albert of Monaco, who rakes in the take of Monte Carlo.

Tenth is the President of Chile? What’s going on there?

Eleventh, Sultan Qaboos of Oman.

Twelfth, the President of Equatorial Guinea. I think he lists his whole country as an asset.

Thirteenth, is the Queen of England, which shows how the mighty have fallen. The ruler of the UK is not as personally rich as the ruler of Equatorial Guinea, for crying out loud?

The Amir of Kuwait clocks in at 14th. The Ruler of Kuwait is not as rich as the ruler of Equatoral Guinea? Either he hides his assets better or Equatorial Guinea is emerging as a problem.

The rest: 15) Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands; 16) King Mswasi III of Swaziland; 17) Kevin Rudd, PM of Australia (through his wife’s inherited wealth); 18) John Key, New Zealand Prime Minister and rich from his previous career (why are to ANZACs so rich?); 19) Lee Myung-Bak, President of South Korea, who headed Hyundai before politics; and 10)

Okay you guess who number 20 is. If you get it right you might win something if I had any prizes or money!

Nothing so far, so I bid you good night.

And the 20th richest head of state is:

The President of Montenegro. What? I sincerely doubt one American in 1000 knows where Montenegro is. Of Milo Djukanovic , the source reports that “Mysteriously wealthy, he denies allegations that he was involved in a lucrative tobacco smuggling ring.”

That’s it for this topic.


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WINEP and the lobby

April 13th, 2010 Comments off
It was delightful to read Stephen Walt’s rebuttal to WINEP’s Robert Satloff on the issue of “dual loyalty” and where WINEP stands. Let us be clear about this, it may be the case that WINEP produces decent material on, say, counter-terrorism in Algeria or the domestic politics of Oman. But on anything that touches Israel, and issues of interest to Israel like Iran, it is one of several think tanks that serve to produce ideological justifications for policies supported by the likes of AIPAC. That is its main and most important purpose, and to pretend otherwise is beyond hypocritical.
I remember attending a WINEP luncheon in Washington a few years ago. It was the kind of thing targeted at fundraisers and supporters, with Dennis Ross as key speaker. The person sitting to my left was a very nice elderly lady, half of a wealthy couple of Jewish retirees from upstate New York. The person sitting on my right was a young Jewish campus activist for Israel. That seemed to represent the range of people in the crowd, and audience and speakers were trying to outdo each other in Iran-bashing and support for Israel. I don’t think you see that at serious think tanks.
As M.J. Rosenberg, formerly of AIPAC and now of J Street, writes in his Talking Points Memo blog:

In my piece yesterday, I pointed out that I was in the room when the plan for WINEP was first drawn up. I was working at AIPAC and it was Steve Rosen who cleverly came up with the idea for an AIPAC controlled think-tank that would put forth the AIPAC line but in a way that would disguise its connections.

There was no question that WINEP was to be AIPAC’s cutout. It was funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located one door away, down the hall, from AIPAC Headquarters (no more. It has its own digs). It would also hire all kinds of people not identified with Israel as a cover and would encourage them to write whatever they liked on matters not related to Israel. “Say what you want on Morocco, kid.” But on Israel, never deviate more than a degree or two.

It’s always been slightly painful to see Egyptian friends — journalists, analysts etc. — take up a job at WINEP, which actively tries to recruit Arabs for fellowships to deflect its lobbying role. I understand why being given a nice salary and a year in Washington is appealing, but it smarts that WINEP is the organization doing this. I tease more mercilessly my American friends who’ve worked there (not on directly peace-process related issues), but they’ve moved on now. WINEP has a lot money to throw around, some good researchers, and can afford to buttress its claim of neutrality by hiring former officials and analysts who do not necessarily share their views on Israel — as long as they don’t work on the issue. Presumably the same people won’t speak out against the house line while they work there, either. 
In any case, that so many are taking Satloff down on his ridiculous claim of WINEP not being part of the lobby is very satisfying personally. In 2005, when I edited Cairo magazine, we ran article tying WINEP to AIPAC. Satloff sent us an angry letter. It was true that WINEP is not funded by AIPAC in a legal sense, but they share donors. Rosenberg elucidates the motive behind separating AIPAC’s research arm, then led by Martin Indyk (another person, alongside Dennis Ross, who has no business running US policy in the Middle East) with this tidbit from a reader:

WINEP was created initially at a time when AIPAC was in financial trouble and having a lot of problems raising money, so it was suggested, probably by Steve Rosen. (I was at the same meeting) that we split the AIPAC research department into two parts, a minor part to service the legislative lobbying, and the major part to become a 501(C)3 that could raise big bucks tax free unlike AIPAC itself which did not enjoy that tax status.

As you wrote, it was originally in AIPAC’s building and on the same floor but we started getting a lot of pressure from some of the other Jewish organizations which were worried that AIPAC would cut into their (C)3 fundraising.

As for funding, the Weinbergs were key and even worked out a deal with some big money folks who didn’t want to contribute to a political operation like AIPAC but would give to (C)3′s. So one could give to the (C)3 and someone else would match it for AIPAC.

This became the ultimate in interlocking directorates.

As Helena Cobban points out, some of us have been saying this for a long time. Kudos to Foreign Policy, TPM and of course the invaluable Mondoweiss for bringing this discussion out in the open. But this discussion should not only involve American Jews, it affects all of us. Talking about the “dual loyalty” problem is necessary — not because, as Satloff argued rather heinously, because people who doubt Ross’ neutrality on Israel are engaged in a McCarthyite and anti-Semitic campaign and believe Jews can’t be trusted (that accusation is the real canard), but because these people and these organizations have a clear record as lobbying organizations for a foreign government that make them poor choices as policymakers.
Consider also that Dennis Ross disagrees with Obama’s stated policy on both Iran and the peace process, and even his friend Aaron Miller thinks he’s too biased to be a fair negotiator between Israelis and Palestinians. Is it really too much to ask that he be taken off Middle East policy?
On a related note, I’ve had some fun making fake AIPAC logos, you can take a look at them here. They’re inspired by the commonsensical remarks made by Gen. David Petraeus about the peace process being important to American interests in the region, and how its undermining by the Netanyahu government (and previous Israeli administrations) is hurting those interests.



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The tragedy of Tripoli

March 26th, 2010 Comments off

If ever there were a moment for an Arab Summit to bring together the major Arab players to formulate a coherent, practical strategy, this would seem to be it. The Obama administration and the Netanyahu government in Israel continue to lock horns, creating an opening for Arab diplomacy — either to reaffirm or to repudiate the long-standing Arab Peace Initiative. The grinding Palestinian division between Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas and Fatah remains unresolved, with Egyptian mediation no closer than ever to success. The question of Iran’s nuclear program poses challenges and opportunities which could offer an opening to creative diplomacy. Unfortunately, this Arab Summit just happens to be scheduled for Libya… which more or less guarantees a higher degree of inter-Arab division, and makes it cruelly unlikely that any productive moves will be taken. 

[[BREAK]]

Libya’s long-standing dictator Moammar Qaddafi has been a central player in disrupting an impressive number of previous Arab summits. Last year, after his public feud with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dominated the Arab Summit in Doha (he declared himself "the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of Muslims"),  I wondered if we had seen the end of Arab summits. Well, technically no, since they still roll around like clockwork.  But functionally, perhaps so. 

The attendance at the upcoming summit is notably poor. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to find it a pressing item of business, after being so rudely interrupted by Qaddafi in Doha. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak is very, very not sick and doing wonderfully (according to the Egyptian state media; the rumor mill still thinks he’s dead), but isn’t up to traveling to Libya, so the leader of the supposedly pivotal Arab state will miss his third consecutive Arab summit meeting. Several Gulf leaders, including Sultan Qabus of Oman and Sheikh Khalifa of the UAE have sent their regrets.  Iraq will stay away after Qaddafi invited some Iraqi resistance figures. So will Lebanon. Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to boycott if Hamas is invited; at last report, he will come but plans to arrive fashionably late.  Algeria’s President Bouteflika apparently overcame illness to attend, but Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has threatened to stay home if he does. 

Many of these absences may have happened anyway — but  Qaddafi’s unique legacy only exacerbates the problems and adds an extra layer of absurdist political theater.  With so many leaders missing, few Arabs expect much from the Summit on any of the urgently pressing issues they face. I wouldn’t expect moves towards serious Palestinian reconciliation, the articulation of a new strategy towards Iran, or the adoption of a significant new approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace. It’s something of a tragedy that the Libyan distraction came at this particular historical juncture. It is in many ways more tragic that nobody really expected anything out of the Summit anyway. Perhaps we should just treat this like the opening and closing of the Winter Olympics:  don’t expect much, just sit back and wait for Qaddafi to provide some amusing YouTube moments.  

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"We will find ways to do more with them,… "

March 7th, 2010 Comments off

Ignatius in the WaPo/ here

The cynical (and usually correct) critique of economic sanctions was summed up this way by a retired U.S. diplomat named Douglas Paal: “Sanctions always accomplish their principal objective, which is to make those who impose them feel good.” The Obama administration is struggling to craft a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran that achieves more than this feel-good impact. The ambitious goal is “to cut off the revenues that fund Iran’s nuclear and missile programs,” says a senior administration official.
“We are going to put as tight a squeeze on Iran as we possibly can,” adds a diplomat from one of the members of the U.S.-led coalition that is beginning to discuss a new sanctions resolution at the U.N Security Council. The resolution will target the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its vast network of companies, which the United States estimates may include up to one-third of Iran’s total economy…..
China is vulnerable to Iranian oil pressure because it imports about 540,000 barrels per day from Iran. So the Saudis and Emiratis have been assuring Beijing that they would be prepared to offset any shortfall in Iranian crude shipments…..
Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, traveled to China late last week to enlist its support against Iran. The Saudi message to Beijing, according to one U.S. official, is: “If you don’t help us against Iran, you will see a less stable and dependable Middle East.”…..
The campaign against Iran was the central topic during a recent visit to Washington by the UAE’s foreign minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. He urged administration officials to include Iran’s vulnerable neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and others — in their planning for dealing with Iran. “We will find ways to do more with them,” said the senior administration official.

The trick for the Obama administration is to craft a sanctions plan that hurts the Iranian government without causing too much pain for the Iranian people. That’s one reason the administration is wary of a congressional proposal for sanctions against Iran’s imports of refined petroleum products — a step that would probably harm the public more than the regime.
Officials talk about “targeted” sanctions that focus on the Revolutionary Guard Corps and its military-industrial complex of companies. But this effort is the diplomatic equivalent of “precision bombing” — in practice, some collateral damage is inevitable, which could help President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rally support for his hard-line government.
What’s certain is that the Iranian nuclear issue is heading into a more intense phase of confrontation — starting with the push for tougher U.N. sanctions. The Gulf countries have been asking what the administration plans to do if the sanctions don’t work: That’s the big foreign policy question of 2010, and Washington is beginning now to think about the answer.

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