Israeli Army Wants to Increase its Budget to Face Iranian Threats


Tel Aviv – Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s bureau chief Yoav Horowitz have requested that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) help raise 4 billion Israeli Shekel ($1.14 billion) for defense and military budget.

An audio recording of a secret session held two weeks ago was revealed, during which Horowitz was heard requesting the money from the organization to help the state fill gaps in its defense budget.

“The Israeli government, and especially the various security forces, reached the conclusion that the State of Israel needs an additional NIS 4 billion. I will only talk about what you all know, including the Iranian threat and the threat in the north – all of this brings the security forces to request another NIS 4 billion,” said Horowitz.

He indicated that the prime minister, the defense minister and the security forces are deliberating this dilemma and trying to stretch the budget to see where the funds can be raised.

An informed political source revealed that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman are behind this request, adding that the Israeli Army is not concerned to reconsider the financial agreements with the Ministry of Finance. He added that the security budget is already doubled.

The Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry have been discussing for months funding the amounts set two years ago, and that’s why Lieberman went straight to Netanyahu discussing the need for an additional 4.5 billion shekels ($1.3 billion), according to military sources.

The sources also stated that Lieberman informed the PM that the new strategic reality in the region, with a stronger Russia, a revived Assad, and a bigger Iranian threat, mandated the extra funds. He explained that the “demands in question are based on contingency plans that are nothing new and do not stem from a war or emergency military operation.”

In 2015, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon signed a memorandum of understanding between their ministries that covers the years 2016 to 2020.

Some of the details of this deal remain classified, but based on the information to give the media, it promised a stable budget for those five years.

Both ministries and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot agreed that the army’s portion of the defense budget would remain fixed at about 31 billion shekels ($8.8 billion). For the defense budget as a whole, the agreement set a baseline of 56.1 billion shekels a year in addition to US defense aid ($3.8 billion a year from 2019). The total budget is expected to reach about 70 billion shekels a year.

When asked about the budget issue, a Defense Ministry senior official replied: “Haven’t you heard the threats of Iran’s Chief of Staff during his visit to Syria?”

Chief of Staff of Iran’s armed forces Maj-Gen Mohammad Bagheri indicated Wednesday that Tehran would not tolerate violations of Syrian sovereignty by Israel and vowed that the two countries would jointly fight against Syria’s enemies.

“We cannot accept a situation where the Zionist entity attacks Syria from the ground and the air,” Bagheri said his visit to Damascus, Syria.

He said he was in the Syrian capital to coordinate and cooperate “in order to fight our common enemies, whether they are the Zionists or the terrorists. We discussed ways to strengthen relations in the future and outlined the basic principles of this cooperation.”

Lieberman responded to Bagheri’s statement saying that Iran was attempting to spread its control into Syria and establish a military presence in a quest to become the dominant regional power.

“We won’t allow this. We have the tools to cope with this challenge,” reiterated Lieberman.

Sources close to Lieberman stated that he is concerned over the recent developments in the region including the instability and Hezbollah’s mobilization with the support of Iran. He added that Assad regime’s field advancements could lead to the reformation of the Syrian Army.

The Defense Minister also has fears that the army might not be fully prepared, according to the sources.
On Thursday, Lieberman flew to Washington to meet Defense Secretary James Mattis for talks on Iran and other regional issues. Sources stated that Israel is keen on fully coordinating with Washington to face Iran’s threats.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Israel on Monday and held meetings with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli leadership had been trying to recruit Russia as well against Iran’s power.

CMA Approves Updated Version of Merger and Acquisition Regulations

Riyadh – Saudi Capital Market Authority board issued its resolution to approve the updated “Merger and Acquisition Regulations” which will be effective and in full force as of Thursday.

The updated lists aim to regulate the mergers and acquisitions and make the capital market environment more stable and in accordance with the national transformation program and Vision 2030.

The purpose of these regulations is to regulate acquisitions activities, based on the Authority’s powers as stated in the Capital Market Law and merger activities, based on the Authority’s powers.

In light of that, the list included a number of clarifications about the entities that apply to the regulations including: any person who deals in the exchange, including (without limitation) issuers, shareholders, authorized persons, and any person involved directly or indirectly in participating or giving an advice on any transaction amended by these Regulations, directors of companies which are subject to these Regulations, and any person who seeks the acquisition of, or increase shares in, any company subject to this regulation.

The list also included a regulation concerning deals to sell, dispose of or acquire, or agree to sell, assets of a value equal to 10% of the net asset of the Offeree Company according to the latest reviewed interim financial statements or audited annual financial statements, whichever is later, whether through a transaction or various transactions, buy-back of offeree company’s shares, or enter into contracts otherwise than in the ordinary course of business.

Regarding market safety and protection of contributors, the updated version apply to any person, individually or acting in concert with the others, and thus becomes the owner of 40% of the shares carrying voting rights in the offeree company.

Any person obtaining shares, or have control over them, by a deal or number of deals, in owned or controlled shares, or which is controlled by persons acting in concert with it, that represent 40% or more of a specific class of shares that carry voting rights, may not have control over its shares during the following 6 months of obtaining such percentage without the Authority’s approval and in accordance with the conditions it specifies

Any person obtaining shares by a deal or number of deals that represent 40% or more of shares that carry voting rights of a listed company, shall disclose to the public the following information: the ownership details of such person and persons acting in concert with it, before and after the transaction, purchase method and the price for share, parties of the purchase, purpose of such purchase and the future plans for the offeree company’s activity, shareholders and employees resulting from the purchase.

Saudi-Bahraini Naval Forces Conclude ‘Bridge 18’ Drill

Manama, Dhahran – Joint naval exercise “Bridge 18” was concluded on Thursday between the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and the Royal Bahrain Naval Forces in the water of the Arabian Gulf.

The Saudi Royal Navy is being represented by the Eastern Fleet.

The naval drill included increasing the level of combat capability and professional performance in all types of maritime operations, uniting the tactical concepts of command and control in addition to enhancing coordination procedures among the forces involved in managing the naval battles.

The exercises also contributed to enhancing security and inspection in protecting the regional water and repelling any aggression.

The exercise carried out the operations of controlling in territorial seas, protecting vital and important installations and the main waterways in the area, conducting live ammunition, counter-terrorism, surveying and reconnaissance operations, diving exercises and sea landing operations on coasts and beaches.

On the occasion, Commander of the Eastern Fleet Rear Admiral Fahd al-Ghafili said that this exercise is an extension of the series of drills carried out in both countries simultaneously to increase the combat preparedness and exchange experiences between the two countries in implementing the joint operations against any potential threat.

He added that this drill will strengthen and support the supply of joint forces in any armed conflict overseas, and the development of joint operational coordination between naval units.

The participants practiced drills on conventional and unconventional threats, naval security operations and securing naval infrastructures such as harbors and marine bases.

Commander of “Kingdom of Bahrain” fleet Rear Commander Eyad al-Mannai pointed out that the maneuvers will increase the level of battle readiness and performance in all marine operations. He added that it will unify control and leadership tactical concepts and enhance marine battle management.

Mannai believes that the importance of the drill lies in the security cooperation between both countries in light of both navies capabilities and their need to exchange training, technical and intel expertise.

UNIFIL Welcomes Deployment of Additional Lebanese Soldiers in South

Beirut- UNIFIL Commander Major General Michael Beary has welcomed the deployment of additional Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon, saying it “will allow more joint patrolling and strengthen the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.”

During a Town Hall meeting on Thursday with local authorities, Beary expressed gratitude to the local authorities for their unwavering support, which has contributed in maintaining stability in UNIFIL’s area of operations.

He also emphasized the importance of the strategic partnership and the joint activities between the Lebanese army and the peacekeepers, a UNIFIL statement said.

Beary also stressed the importance of working together with local leaders. “This gathering gives me the opportunity to hear your ideas and concerns as well as share my thoughts,” he added. “UNIFIL and the Lebanese people share a common goal: promoting stability and security in southern Lebanon. We can only achieve this goal together, through mutual respect, support and understanding.” 
During the meeting, the UNIFIL commander heard from dignitaries, including the Qaymaqam of Marjayoun and several mayors from the country’s southeastern municipalities, the statement said. 
Earlier in the day, Beary inaugurated a newly refurbished UN hospital complex in Marjayoun located inside the UNIFIL Sector East Headquarters and operated by UNIFIL’s Chinese medical team. The Chinese hospital facility has 30 medical and support personnel. The hospital has provided medical services to both UNIFIL personnel and the local population since 2007.
Beary hailed China’s significant contribution to global peace and security, in particular to UNIFIL and south Lebanon, the statement added.

UNIFIL boasts more than 400 Chinese peacekeepers, who carry out construction, anti-landmine and medical activities.

Houthis, Saleh Exchange Accusations, Threats to End Alliance


Aden — Tension reemerged Thursday between the two partners of the coup in Yemen after Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s supporters exchanged accusations of obstructing a political agreement that united both sides.

Saleh, who heads the General People’s Congress (GPC), sent a letter to the so-called Ansar Allah, the political office of Houthis, accusing the rebels of launching campaigns against his leadership and party members.

In the letter sent by Aref Al-Zouka, Saleh said that some of his ministers in the unofficial rebel government, including the Minister of Education and the Minister of Awqaf and Guidance, had been “humiliated” by the Houthis, who “lack the will to maintain partnership.”

The former president enclosed to his letter a list of 44 members of the Houthi militia and its journalists who were attacking Saleh and the leaders of his party, threatening to quit the alliance.

The party considered those insults as “clear indications and conclusive evidence that you have no desire to carry on partnership. We would like to inform you that we do not want a sham partnership,” Al-Zouka said in his letter.

For his part, leader of the Houthi so-called Supreme Political Council, Saleh al-Samad responded to the letter by accusing figures close to Saleh of trying to “break internal unity” between the two allies.

Al-Samad added: “What partnership do you speak of when you are the ones obstructing the role of the political council and the government?”

The Houthi official said: “We, too, are not honored to remain in a sham responsibility incapable of fixing the simplest reforms.”

Yemeni political figures said the GPC letter expressed that relations with the Houthis reached a “very embarrassing level.”

Yassine al-Tamimi, a Yemeni political analyst, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that the letter was not related to the violations committed by the 44 Houthi officials listed in Saleh’s letter, but rather involves the failure of the two allies in managing the coup, which was never established based on good intentions.

“Houthi officials have directed several blows to the GPC camp with an aim to silence the party’s activists and journalists criticizing their policies,” al-Tamimi said.

Qatar Brings $20 Billion Back Home to Face Boycott Burdens


London – Qatar has brought back more than $20 billion to cope with the boycott imposed by the Anti-Terrorism Quartet, which is formed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Qatari Finance Minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi said that his country has withdrawn more than $20 billion from investment funds and injected them into Qatari banks, in an effort to ease the repercussions of the boycott, the Financial Times reported.

Al-Emadi noted that the deposits brought from Qatar Investment Authority were being used to create a “buffer” and provide liquidity in the banking system as capital outflows in the wake of the crisis have reached more than $30 billion.

However, Qatari minister tried to play down the move, saying it was very natural for his country to bring liquidity from abroad, in the current situation, noting that what Doha has done was a “preventive and proactive action.”

The Financial Times quoted Al-Emadi as saying: “We are not liquidating anything. What we have done is taking some of our liquidity from outside to inside. This is through the Ministry of Finance and the QIA, which is very normal in this type of situation.”

Qatar Central Bank said in July that the volume of foreign deposits in Qatari banks fell significantly after the outbreak of the crisis with the four Arab countries.

Moody’s rating agency said in September that the Arab Peninsula had pumped $38.5 billion into its economy since the beginning of the crisis, in an attempt to protect the sector from the repercussions of the boycott imposed by the four countries.

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) have reduced its holdings in Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank; Rosneft, the Russian energy company; and Tiffany & Co.

But Al-Emadi told The Financial Times that these moves were linked to the country’s investment strategy, not because of the crisis.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which was set up by the government in 2005 to manage the benefits of oil and natural gas, is estimated at $300 billion. Before the eruption of the crisis with Qatar, the Authority was one of the active funds that own shares in major companies such as Volkswagen and Barclays.

Balance of Power Shifts in Kirkuk

Kirkuk- “Before we couldn’t proudly declare that we are Turkmen, now our flag is flying over Kirkuk’s citadel again,” Iraqi Omar Najat, 23, told Agence France Presse.

According to the agency, with the return of Kirkuk to Iraqi control, the balance of power appears to have shifted between the ethnic communities.

Three weeks before, the disputed city’s Kurds were gleefully taking part in the September 25 Kurdish independence referendum in open defiance of Baghdad.

Today, the election posters have been torn down. Huge Iraqi flags have been strung from palm trees and across buildings, although Kurdish flags have been left flying from lampposts.

AFP said that the election posters of referendum’s chief advocate, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, have also been torn down.

In the Kurdish neighbourhood of Rahimawa, business has been slow for the few shops that have reopened such as tyre salesman Abu Sima, 36, as he awaits a return to normality.

His nephews and nieces had to wait for schools to reopen in the wake of the upheaval on Sunday as Iraqi forces entered the city.

In three days and with barely any resistance from Kurdish peshmerga fighters, Iraqi forces took control of the whole of the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

For fear of violence on Sunday, Abu Sima and his wife joined thousands of other families, mostly Kurds, in fleeing the city. But like most others, they have returned.

“We had to come back because we, the Kurds, are the majority, we were the original residents of Kirkuk,” he said.

In his fabrics store at the heart of the market in the shadow of the citadel, Omar Najat couldn’t agree less with that historical assessment.

“That there (the citadel) is Ottoman, Turkish, and Kirkuk is Iraqi Turkmen,” he insisted.

“Now that Baghdad is in charge, we have security, not like before when we had another power in place,” the young man told AFP.

He was referring to Kirkuk’s governor Najm Eddine Karim who brought the referendum to the province until Baghdad fired him.

He had previously gone on television to urge Kurdish residents to take up arms to resist the entry of Iraqi forces into the city.

AFP said that near a central square where a giant blue Turkmen flag has been hoisted, Abu Hussein is a firm believer in the coexistence of Kirkuk’s 800,000 residents.

The Kurds make up two-thirds of its population, 25 percent are Turkmen and the rest Arab Muslims and Christians.

“We know how to live alongside each ether,” said Abu Hussein. The Kurdish shopkeeper next door has an all-Arab workforce.

“It’s not just the past year or two, we’ve all been living together for decades,” said Abu Hussein, a 47-year Turkmen spice seller.

For Mohammed Hamdani, any blame lies on “politicians” in Baghdad, Irbil, which is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and other places.

“They can’t agree between themselves and it’s us, ordinary people, who pay the price,” he said.

Hamdani’s request is straightforward: “Whoever our leaders are, all we ask of them is one thing: that they give us security and the means to feed ourselves.”

Iraq Orders Arrest of Kurdish VP

Iraqi soldiers ride in military vehicles in Zumar

Iraq’s Supreme Justice Council ordered the arrest of Kurdistan Regional Government Vice President Kosrat Rasul for allegedly saying Iraqi troops were “occupying forces” in Kirkuk.

A Supreme Judicial Council spokesman said the court considered Kosrat Rasul’s remarks as an incitement to violence.

He made them in a statement condemning the withdrawal of Peshmerga fighters from Kirkuk and other disputed areas.

Baghdad launched an operation to retake them on Monday, three weeks after the Kurds held an independence referendum.

On Tuesday night, after the military operation concluded, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said the referendum was “a thing of the past” and offered “dialogue under the constitution”.

KRG Peshmerga forces deployed into Kirkuk in 2014 when Iraqi government forces fell apart in the face of an offensive by ISIS insurgents, preventing the oilfields from falling into jihadist hands.

Rasul issued a statement on Wednesday lashing out on his own Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party amid reports that other leaders had ordered Peshmerga under their control not to resist the Iraqi troops as they advanced into Kirkuk.

There was only one serious clash on the outskirts of the city on Monday, which is reported to have left between three and 11 combatants dead.

Rasul said the territorial losses represented a “new Anfal for Kurdistan” – a reference to the campaign of genocide against Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1987 and 1988.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the Supreme Judicial Council said a court in Baghdad issued an arrest warrant for Rasul in connection with the statement.

“The court considers these comments as provocation against the armed forces, under Article 226 of the penal code,” the spokesman added.

The offense can carry a jail term of up to seven years or a fine.

Meanwhile, KRG Foreign Minister Fala Mustafa Bakir told broadcaster CNN that his side never meant to engage in war with the Iraqi army. He said there was a need for dialogue between the KRG and Iraq to enable a common understanding. The dispute, he added, was not about oil or the national flag but the future of two nations.

Crude oil flows through the KRG pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan have been disrupted by a gap between incoming and outgoing personnel since Baghdad’s retaking of Kirkuk.

An Iraqi oil ministry official in Baghdad said on Thursday that Iraq would not be able to restore Kirkuk’s oil output to levels before Sunday because of missing equipment at two fields.

The official accused the Kurdish authorities previously in control of Kirkuk of removing equipment at the Bai Hasan and Avana oil fields, northwest of the city.

British Intelligence Investigates Over 500 Cases of Terrorism

MI5 Director General Parker speech in London

London- The United Kingdom’s intelligence services are facing an “intense” challenge from terrorism, the head of MI5 has warned.

He noted that Britain is running more than 500 live operations targeting 3,000 individuals involved in extremist activity in some way with 20,000 more, who have been on the counter-terrorism radar and others who are not even known to law agencies.

Director General of MI5 Andrew Parker said there was currently “more terrorist activity coming at us, more quickly” and that it can also be “harder to detect”.

Speaking in London, Parker said the tempo of counter-terrorism operations was the highest he had seen in his 34-year career at MI5.

The UK has suffered five terror attacks this year, and he said MI5 staff had been “deeply affected” by them.

Twenty attacks had been foiled in the last four years, including seven in the last seven months, Parker revealed, adding that all were related to what he called Islamist extremism.

Britain has experienced five attacks using knives, cars and bombs since the beginning of 2017, four in London and one in Manchester.

Twenty major acts have been detected in the past four years and 379 suspects have been arrested in the first six months of this year, Parker stressed.

Parker recalled that he had said in a speech two years ago that despite a string of successful operations he feared “that we had not yet reached the high-water mark”.

He said Tuesday: “Sadly that has proved to be the case. Islamist terrorism is an acute and enduring challenge that requires a sustained and comprehensive approach.”

The internet has provided terrorists with access and immediacy. “They can go online to get explosives and learn how to build a bomb”, said the director general.

As a result, they can “accelerate from inception to planning to action in just a handful of days, exploiting safe space online which can make it harder to detect and gives us a smaller window to intervene”.

MI5 is under pressure to demonstrate its effectiveness after four Islamist terrorist attacks escaped its detection this year.

Parker’s speech to specialist security journalists on Tuesday was his chance to frame the debate about Britain’s battle against Islamist terrorism at a time when the agency’s staff numbers are already expanding from 4,000 to 5,000, according to The Guardian.

This month the government will receive reports on whether chances to thwart the atrocities were missed and what lessons could be learned.

Ministers and the National Security Council wanted independent oversight of the review, in essence not allowing MI5 or counter-terrorism police to assess themselves.

Oversight is being provided by the barrister David Anderson QC, a former government appointment as independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.

Egypt Inaugurates Mediterranean Union Investment Forum of Renewable Energy


Cairo – Mediterranean union investment forum of renewable energy began in Egypt on Wednesday aiming to launch several opportunities in the field of renewable energy in the Euro-Mediterranean region, enhance cooperation on energy and climate actions, and create a more active involvement of the private sector in the regional-European-Mediterranean collaboration.

Egyptian Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker el-Markabi, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr inaugurated on Wednesday the forum at the presence of Portuguese Secretary of State for Energy Jorge Seguro Sanches, Secretary General of the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) Fathallah Sijilmassi, official representatives, international financial institutions and private sector investors.

Minister Nasr said that the Electricity Ministry reforms in the energy field, including feed-in tariffs, contribute in attracting the investors to invest in the renewable energy, as well as in attracting a number of development partners such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

She added that a renewable energy strategy has been followed through diversifying energy sources and allocating subsidies for the field.

“Renewable energy projects include providing job opportunities and contributing to achieving the sustainable development goals,” according to Nasr.

Nasr stressed that there are huge regional cooperation opportunities, human and natural resources and huge markets that qualify the region to integrate more with the European partner.

On the other hand, the Minister of Electricity said that the energy strategy will link between Egypt, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Minister Markabi highlighted the importance of the role played by the private sector and the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency.