Saudi Arabia: We are considering nukes to contain Iran (& Miliband’s cousin in Tel Aviv: I probably wouldn’t have voted for him)

May 12, 2015

Miri Krimolovsky, a cousin of Ed Miliband’s in Tel Aviv, interviewed on Israel Channel 2 about the man who tried to become the UK’s first Jewish Prime minister


Apart from the first two items below (which concern Britain) the other items are reproduced from various Middle East media, hence the sometimes poor use of English. In some cases, for space reasons, I have included only extracts of the articles.

-- Tom Gross


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1. Ed Miliband’s cousin in Tel Aviv: I probably wouldn’t have voted for him
2. Israeli PM Netanyahu speaks with British PM Cameron
3. Execution of (Shia) Sheikh Nimr means end of Saudi Regime (Fars News Agency, Iran, May 10, 2015)
4. Coalition forces implement 130 air strikes targeting sites of Houthi leaders (Saudi Government Press Agency SPA, May 9, 2015)
5. Abbas attends massive Russian WWII Victory Day Parades in Moscow (WAFA Palestinian news agency, May 9, 2015)
6. Egypt’s Sisi ‘keen’ for cooperation with Russia (Al-Ahram, Egypt, May 9, 2015)
7. Egypt FM: Arab League close to forming joint military force (Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia, May 9, 2015)
8. Egyptian army says 725 ‘terrorists’ killed in North Sinai over last 6 months (Al-Ahram, Egypt, May 9, 2015)
9. Palestinian driver injured by Egyptian gunfire at Gaza crossing (Palestinian Maan news agency, May 11, 2015)
10. Kuwaiti paper: Dropped Israeli drone in Sudan targeted Hamas weapon store
11. Djibouti President: China negotiating Horn of Africa military base (Agence France-Presse, May 10, 2015)
12. Saudi Arabia considers nuclear weapons to contain Iran (UPI, May 8, 2015)


[Note by Tom Gross]

One of defeated British Labour party leader Ed Miliband’s more prominent cousins in Israel, art historian and curator Miri Krimolovsky, has told the Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot that although she is “sure” that Miliband does care about the welfare of Israel, she would probably not have voted for him had she had a vote in last Thursdays’ British general elections.

Many in Britain have been critical of Miliband’s sometimes harsh criticism of Israel during his leadership of the Labour Party. He has done so in part to placate the Labour party’s activists, who are extremely hostile to Israel.

Krimolovsky, who lives in Tel Aviv and also works as Israel Radio’s cultural correspondent, is Miliband’s second cousin. She said she used to stay with Miliband’s parents on visits to England when she was younger and that Ed and David Miliband (Britain’s former foreign secretary) were “sweet, well-brought-up boys.”

Krimolovsky added in an interview on Israel’s Channel 2 that “I’m sure Ed’s proud of Israel and he loves Israel. And as the son and grandson of Holocaust survivors, he certainly understands the importance of this state”.

Miliband’s grandfather was murdered in the Holocaust. His grandmother and other relatives who survived moved from Poland to Israel at the end of the war. Miliband’s mother married his father, whose parents had fled Poland and who had been hidden as child by a farmer in Belgium during the Nazi occupation, and then settled in Britain.

Ed’s mother Marion was born Dobra Jenta Kozak in the Jewish quarter of Czestochowa in southern Poland in 1934. The Sitkowska family, who were Catholics, risked their lives hiding Ed’s six-year-old mother and her sister Hadassah, as other family members were deported.

Ed Miliband spoke about his grandfather, who was murdered in Buchenwald, in January.

Miliband, who lost the election and has now resigned as Labour party leader, would have been Britain’s first Jewish prime minister had he won, although he is a secular Jew. (Britain’s great nineteenth century prime minister Benjamin Disraeli was born Jewish but was converted to Christianity since Britain did not at that time allow Jews to enter parliament.)



In spite of Miliband’s Israeli connections, the Labour party is perceived as being anti-Israel by many, and the overwhelming majority of British Jews voted Conservative in last week’s election.

On Saturday, the British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who won re-election, spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who congratulated him on his victory.


I gave a number of interviews on the British elections. For those interested, among those placed on line:

* i24 Israeli News (conducted shortly before polls closed): interviewed by Lucy Aharish, the rising Muslim-Arab-Israeli star of Israeli TV news, and with Paul Gross – no relation. (My own comments start and continue from about 4.40 minutes into the video.)

* Russia Today (conducted shortly before the final results were known).


Defeated Conservative MP Lee Scott has spoken out about the anti-Semitic abuse which he says cost him his seat in Parliament last week.

He said the campaign of death threats and anti-Jewish hatred against him and his family by Islamists in his Ilford North constituency in London had reduced him to tears. He said there was “no question in my mind” that the attacks on him had contributed to his defeat. After Scott defended Israel in Parliament he was repeatedly threatened, making it dangerous for him to appear at many public events during the campaign, despite the fact that he was provided with police protection. While the Conservatives polled strongly in other constituencies, Scott’s 5,404 majority in Ilford was overturned.



Senior Cleric: Execution of Sheikh Nimr Means End of Saudi Regime
Fars News Agency (Iran)
Sunday, May 10, 2015

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts warned the Riyadh government that the execution of the prominent Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, would put an end to Al Saud dynasty.

“Some Saudi media have announced that the Riyadh government plans to execute Sheikh Nimr by May 14; the Saudi government should know that taking such a move will put an end to its shameful rule,” Ayatollah Seyed Ahmad Khatami told FNA on Sunday.

Khatami, who is a presiding board member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, warned the Saudi government that bloodshed in Yemen and killing a religious scholar is tantamount to following the path of pharaohs and blasphemers.

Ayatollah Khatami called on religious seminaries and intellectuals of the Muslim world to prevent continued crimes by the Saudi regime.

On Saturday, several Saudi rights activists warned Al Saud that Sheikh Nimr’s execution would set fire to Saudi Arabia.

“The Saudi people will ask for a halt in the execution of the death sentence (for Sheikh Nimr) by staging peaceful rallies and protests,” Sheikh Abbas al-Qatifi told FNA.

Stressing the strong opposition of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province to the execution of the Shiite cleric, he said, “The case of Sheikh Nimr is a Saudi show played by the Saudi princes at the order of the US and the Zionist regime as part of a plot in the country and even other Islamic countries.”

Also in relevant remarks on Saturday, Abdolhadi al-Sattari, another Saudi rights activist, told FNA that the Saudi officials have resorted to terrorists to suppress the Shiites inside and outside Saudi Arabia.

… There have been numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province since 2011, with the protestors calling for political reform and an end to widespread discrimination. Several people have been killed and many others have been injured or arrested during the demonstrations.

… Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that does not allow any election.



Coalition Forces Implement 130 Air Strikes Targeting Sites of Houthi Leaders
Saudi Government Press Agency SPA
May 9, 2015

Riyadh, Rajab 20, 1436, May 9, 2015, SPA -- Brig. Gen. Ahmed Hasan Asiri, Coalition Forces’ Spokesman and Advisor at the Office of the Minister of Defense, stressed that the Coalition forces carried out, during the 24 past hours, 130 air strikes targeting 100 sites in Sadaa, Maran, Albiqaa and the borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, “the air operations focused on targeting headquarters of the Houthi leaders and command and control in addition to offices of the Houthi leadership, including 17 Houthi
leaders,” he added.

In a press conference held here at Riyadh Airbase, Asiri stressed the three main objectives of Operation Renewal of Hope, including prevention of the Houthi movements in Yemen, protection of the Yemeni citizens and facilitation of the relief and humanitarian works in Yemen, “the latest developments over the past two days through targeting the Saudi cities added a new factor to the operations carried out during the 24 past hours. Therefore, we have two parallel operations, including the military support of the Operation Renewal of Hope and, at the same time, response done by the Saudi Armed Forces and Coalition Forces against those who carried out attacks on the cities of Najran and Jizan,” he added…


* Tom Gross adds: The Saudi-led airstrikes, carried out with the support of the airforces of the UAE and other Arab regimes (including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain), have killed and maimed thousands of people in Yemen in recent weeks. They are reported to have used American-supplied cluster bombs, a weapon outlawed in 116 countries.

As I have reported in previous dispatches, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled Yemen. And yet there have been virtually no protests in western capitals, hardly any angry comment pieces or letters or cartoons or editorials in papers such as the New York Times, which lambasts Israel for taking virtually any action to defend itself. There is also near silence in the western media about the ongoing American-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria which have also killed and maimed thousands of people in recent months.



Abbas Attends Massive Russian WWII Victory Day Parades in Moscow
WAFA – Palestinian news agency
May 9, 2015

MOSCOW, May 9, 2015 (WAFA - PLO news agency) – President Mahmoud Abbas together with 30 world leaders attended Saturday massive military parade and festival events in Moscow marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet Union and its allies over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Russia held a massive military parade showcasing the most advanced military technology and hardware and featuring over 16,000 soldiers together with over 200 aircrafts and 1,880 military equipment units. The parades were broadcasted live on Russia Today (RT) channel.

A number of high-profile leaders joined Abbas in attending the festivals. They included Chinese leader Xi Jinping, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, India’s President Pranab Mukherjee, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Cuba’s President Raul Castro, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma.

Upon his arrival to the Russian capital, Abbas said: “It is a pleasure for me to take part in the victory celebrations after an invitation from the Russian leadership.”

Abbas was accompanied by member of Fatah Central Committee Nabil Sha’ath, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Faed Mustafa, and the head of the Palestinian-Russian Friendship Association.



Egypt’s Sisi ‘keen’ for cooperation with Russia
Egyptian president is in Moscow to attend VE Day festivities
Ahram Online
May 9, 2015

Egypt and Russia could cooperate on a lot of common projects for the prosperity and the benefit of both countries, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told his Russian counterpart on Saturday in Moscow.

El-Sisi arrived in Moscow on Friday to take part in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.

During the celebrations, El-Sisi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Egypt understands the role that Russia has played to combat fascism, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

The Egyptian president told Putin that he is keen on ties and all sorts of cooperation that will benefit both countries, during a meeting at the Kremlin on Saturday.

… Russia was the first foreign country El-Sisi visited after his election as president last year.

Cairo has sought to strengthen its ties with Moscow against the backdrop of strained ties with long-time ally Washington since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Egypt had strong ties with Russia in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt until the early 1970s. Relations soured after Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty bringing in some $1.3 billion in annual US military aid to Cairo in 1979.

Forty percent of European tourists visiting Egypt are Russian.



Egypt FM: Arab League close to forming joint military force
Sameh Shokri says Egypt remains committed to Saudi-led intervention in Yemen
By Sawsan Abu-Husain
Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia)
May 9, 2015

Asmara, Eritrea, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Arab League is moving closer to forming a joint Arab military force to deal with the conflicts raging in the region, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri has said.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of a state visit to Eritrea, he acknowledged that the region is facing an unprecedented level of conflict, most recently with the ongoing crisis in Yemen.

“There can be no doubt that the situation in Yemen requires serious effort in order to find a solution to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the suffering of the Yemeni people. We need to find a way to return legitimacy and restore stability to Yemen,” Shokri said.

Egypt is part of the Saudi-led alliance that has intervened militarily in Yemen to back legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi against the Shi’ite Houthi militia and supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. At present, Cairo’s involvement has not gone beyond naval deployments in the Gulf of Aden.

… Speaking in late March, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced that Arab leaders had agreed to form a united military force to combat the “challenges” facing the Middle East, including the ongoing unrest in Yemen.

The joint military force, which would fall under the purview of the Arab League, would be able to carry out rapid intervention to deal with unfolding crises…



Egyptian army says 725 ‘terrorists’ killed in North Sinai over last 6 months
Military releases a report detailing their campaign against militants in North Sinai
Al-Ahram (Egypt)
May 9, 2015

The Egyptian army released on Saturday a semi-annual report detailing the security forces’ campaign against Islamist militants in North Sinai in which they said they had killed 725 militants in the governorate.

The report, which spans the period from 25 October last year to 30 April of this year, was published on the army spokesman’s official Facebook page.

The highest number of “terrorists” killed took place in February, with 173 killed. In January, the lowest numbers of killings was reported, at 44 dead.

… The report also stated that 1,823 terrorist hideouts were destroyed, including underground bunkers, trenches, shacks, tents, and abandoned houses.

… Egypt’s army is currently fighting a campaign against a decade-long militant insurgency in North Sinai.

Militants have killed hundreds of police and army personnel in the past year and a half in North Sinai, while the authorities have announced that hundreds of militants have been killed in military campaigns in the governorate.

The Islamist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for most attacks against the security forces in Sinai.



Palestinian driver injured by Egyptian gunfire at Gaza crossing
Palestinian Maan news agency
May 11, 2015

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian driver was shot by gunfire from Egypt as he was driving a truck into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday, Gaza officials said.

Eyad al-Bazm, spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, said that the driver had been wounded, and called for an immediate investigation into the incident.

… There have been past incidents of Egyptian border soldiers opening fire on Palestinians.

In January, Egyptian soldiers shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian from the border.

The Egyptian army is pitched in a bloody battle with anti-regime militants in the northern Sinai, and Egypt accuses Hamas of supporting the militants, although Hamas strenuously denies the allegations.



Kuwaiti paper: Dropped Israeli drone in Sudan targeted Hamas weapon store
May 8, 2015
Al-Masry Al-Youm

The Israeli reconnaissance drone, which Sudan announced it had downed Wednesday over its territory, was targeting a store for weapons to the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, an unidentified source told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Garida Friday.

The plane launched one missile out of six on the warehouse of weapons in the city of Omdurman, before it was detected and downed, the source added.

The Sudanese found out after tracking the plane’s course the presence of an airport for such aircrafts in an African region, may be on the Sudanese territory, according to the source.

Sudanese armed forces spokesman Khaled al-Sawarmy had announced on Wednesday that the drone was downed in the state of Al-Bahr Al-Ahmar.


(* Tom Gross adds: In line with a long-standing policy concerning similar types of allegations, Israeli government spokespeople declined to comment on this report.)



Djibouti President: China Negotiating Horn of Africa Military Base
Agence France-Presse
May 10, 2015

DJIBOUTI — China is negotiating a military base in the strategic port of Djibouti, the president told AFP, raising the prospect of US and Chinese bases side-by-side in the tiny Horn of Africa nation.

“Discussions are ongoing,” President Ismail Omar Guelleh told AFP in an interview in Djibouti, saying Beijing’s presence would be “welcome.”

Djibouti is already home to Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. military headquarters on the continent, used for covert, anti-terror and other operations in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere across Africa.

France and Japan also have bases in the port, a former French colony that guards the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal…

… Djibouti overseas the narrow Bab al-Mandeb straits, the channel separating Africa from Arabia and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, leading into the Red Sea and northwards to the Mediterranean.

Djibouti and Beijing signed a military agreement allowing the Chinese navy to use Djibouti port in February 2014, a move that angered Washington.

China aims to install a permanent military base in Obock, Djibouti’s northern port city.

In recent years, Guelleh has increasingly turned to China as a key economic partner. Last year he switched the port operating contract to a Chinese company, after the previous Dubai-based operator was accused of corruption.



Saudi Arabia considers nuclear weapons to contain Iran
Concerned with Iran’s growing influence, the Saudis are feeling vulnerable.
By Ed Adamczyk
May 8, 2015

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, May 8 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia, considering Iran’s potential 10-year limitation on nuclear weapons development, is looking into a nuclear weapons program of its own, officials say.

Although a nuclear-free Middle East has long been a part of Saudi policy, its leaders are convinced Iran will eventually become a nuclear power, and there are calls within Saudi Arabia to start a development program to match Iran’s potential nuclear capability. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, after a summit meeting this week of Gulf nations, warned that the proposed deal between Iran and the United States, which limits Iranian nuclear development but assigns ban expiry date of ten years, risks “plunging the region into an
arms race.”

Saudi Arabia, with its Sunni Muslim majority, is already battling largely Shiite Iran in proxy wars across the region, including in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi fears of an increase in Iranian influence is worsened by the potential of lifting economic sanctions against Iran by the West, freeing over $100 billion in frozen overseas assets.

“Our allies aren’t listening to us, and this is what is making us extremely nervous,” said Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Abdulmohsen of Riyadh’s King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. “If I am basing my judgment on the track record and our experience with Iran, I will say they will do anything in their power to get a nuclear weapon. A delay of 10 years is not going to satiate anything.”

While Iran has ties to Russia, Saudi Arabia, which has already begun a civilian nuclear program, can gain nuclear knowledge from France, which has become a close ally.

Pakistan, a fellow Sunni-majority Muslim country, already has nuclear weapons capability, and another ally, Jordan, has available uranium, the Wall Street Journal noted Friday.

The U.S. deal with Iran, if it slows Iran’s quest for the nuclear weapons it denied seeking, could prove to be the highlight of U.S. President Barack Obama’s nuclear non-proliferation legacy. It could also set off an arms race in the Middle East.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.