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Dubai police chief: ‘I know an Israeli when I see one’ 4, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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As if Dubai’s police have not been ridiculed enough recently with nearly thirty foreign agents waltzing through their security, killing a high-value target in their midst, and then waltzing straight back out again, their Chief of Police has said that he can spot an Israeli by their face or by their accent. I’m sure that that will flood Emiratees with confidence.

Incidentally, I borrow the above picture from an interesting website called richardsilverstein.com which also has a great link to a new fashion range that has just sprung up.

Hat tip: Abstract JK

Pants bomber ‘would not have brought down the plane’ 4, March 2010

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A BBC2 documentary has concluded that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who tried to explode a bomb on a US bound transatlantic flight over Christmas, did not have enough explosives to bring the plane down.

After meticulously recreating the crash using the exact amount of pentaerythritol (PETN – the explosive used) and detonating it in the same place in the place as Abdulmutallab, an air accident investigator concluded that the amount of explosives used

was nowhere near enough needed to rupture the skin of a passenger plane.

The key seems to be the relative flexibility of the plane’s skin. A harder more ridged outer shell might well have cracked, but modern design means that the strength of the explosion rippled out across the hull, as clearly shown on the video, dissipating its strength.

This conclusion will reassure passengers and plane operators alike. It is also something of a surprise. Many (including me) expected that even a small amount of PETN, enough to destroy vehicles, would rip through a plane’s thin fuselage with ease. It is nice to be proven wrong, though I’ll be on the lookout for analysis of these findings from more knowledgeable people on plane safety than I.

They did conclude, however, that at least the passenger sitting next to the would-be bomber would have certainly been killed and that the panic and trauma of eviscerated, flying body-parts inside the cabin would have been a horrifying experience. Yet, ceteris paribus, this appears to be a good-news story.

Qatar ‘exile capital of world’ 4, March 2010

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There is an excellent article in the Hindustan Times discussing Qatar’s role as a haven for exiles. This stems from Qatar’s offer of nationality (which has now been accepted) to the controversial Indian artist MF Husain. Ruben Banerjee, an Al Jazeera journalist, describes Doha as “the exile capital of the world”.

Famous exiles in Doha include:

  • Sajjad Hussein the ex-wife of the former Iraqi President and their two daughters Raghad and Rana
  • Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya the ex-Mauritania President who was removed in a coup
  • Omar bin Laden, one of Osama Bin Laden’s sons

However, Banerjee does not mention all notable exiles in Doha.

  • Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, a former Chechen military commander and politician, resided in Doha until his assassination in Doha in 2004
  • Khaled Mishal, the head of Hamas, lived in Doha for a few years and reportedly still owns a house in the capital
  • Speaking of exiles, it is interesting to note that Qatar’s former Emir, Khalifah al Thani, was exiled from Qatar for 9 years after his son and current ruler, Hamad Al Thani, ousted him in a peaceful and seemingly domestically popular coup in 1995. His returned to Doha in October 2004 for the funeral of his wife.

As to why Qatar pursues these types of policies, Banerjee simply states that:

Being in the limelight has been Qatar’s state policy — something that it has pursued relentlessly…Husain has accepted Qatari citizenship and by offering to embrace this Indian artist, Qatar has proven to be bold and different. That is what Brand-Qatar is all about.

Spot on.

If I’ve missed out on any prominent exiles, do let me know. I’m sure there must be a few more tin-pot former African dictators here.

IDF Facebook mission leak 4, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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The much vaunted Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had to call off a raid on a village in the Palestinian territories after some genius posted details of it on his facebook site.

“On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home.”

Additionally, the soldier disclosed the name of the combat unit involved.

This news comes the week after the Pentagon stated that it would allow US soldiers access to Twitter and Facebook. What can possibly go wrong?