Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Crisis In Qatar May Spark Gaza Outbreak, China Claims To Have Perfected New 3,800 mph 'Hypersonic' Missiles That Will Change The Face Of Warfare

Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak

The electricity cutback in the Gaza Strip, engineered by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to flex muscle against Hamas rule, was just one piece on the checkerboard created by the crackdown Egypt, Saudi Arabia Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have imposed on Qatar for supporting terrorist groups like the Palestinian extremist Hamas. Therefore, Hamas leader Yahya Sanwar had little to expect from his mission to Cairo last weekend to persuade the El-Sisi government to ease its restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip found themselves in the same boat as their old friend, Qatar, in the week that their internal rival, Mahmoud Abba, docked payment for the electricity Israeli supplies the Gaza Strip. The power supply was cut by 40 percent.

From 2015, the emir of Qatar remained the only Arab ruler backing the Palestinian extremist Hamas with occasional cash donations to Gaza City and permission for its top officials to set up shop in Doha.

This flow of aid was abruptly cut off by the land, sea and air blockade Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt clamped down on Qatar last week over its support for terrorist groups and ties with Tehran. Sheikh Tamim bin-Hamad Al-Khalifa defied the ultimatum they presented him, and so Qatar’s banks and international assets have been losing dollars, its currency has plummeted and there is no money to spare for the Gaza Strip.

Qatar and Hamas are being pushed into the same corner.

The small Gulf island, which is the world’s largest supplier of natural gas, was been told by the four leading Arab governments to expel Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas officials from its soil, after years of providing them with hospitality plus pensions generous enough for them to live a life of ease and plenty, while also running their terrorist networks across the region and beyond.
Qatar was also told to discontinue its propaganda campaigns against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and shut down its main platform, the Al Jazeera TV channel; and hundreds of Egyptian and Saudi dissidents granted political asylum deported forthwith.

With nowhere else to go, these dissidents could potentially head for sanctuary in the Gaza Strip, making it a “little Qatar,” which is why Cairo further tightened the Palestinian enclave’s isolation by blocking all routes of access.

The Hamas delegation was likewise confronted in Cairo with tough demands by the Egyptian intelligence chief:

1. To turn in the Muslim Brotherhood fugitives they were sheltering in the Gaza Strip.

2.  Not just to sever cooperation between the Hamas military arm and the Islamic State networks in the Sinai Peninsula, but to surrender to Egypt all the intelligence they possessed about the jihadists and their activities.

3.  To discontinue weapons smuggling operations through Sinai.

After balking at the Egyptian demands, Yahya Sanwar was forced to leave Cairo empty-handed with regard to eased restrictions and humanitarian aid - only to find on his return home that the Egyptians had raised their biggest gun against the Gaza Strip: They had cut off power.

A humanitarian catastrophe now hangs over the two million inhabitants of the tiny Mediterranean enclave. Hospitals are cutting back operations, refrigerators are switched off, clean water supplies are dwindling because desalination plants are without power, raw sewage is dumped into the sea and sanitary conditions deteriorating.

Cairo asked the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Israeli government not to relent, but to keep the pressure on the Hamas regime high. Ramallah must continue to hold back payment to cover Israel’s electricity bills, which suits Mahmoud Abbas’ campaign for bringing Hamas to heel.
But for Israel, there is a dilemma. Nonetheless, the Netanyahu government is extremely wary of breaking away from the anti-terror line taken by Arab governments, because this could put paid to the delicate ties established with them – especially in the military domain - through long and laborious effort.

In Jerusalem, it is therefore ardently hoped that the Qatar crisis is quickly resolved and Hamas and Cairo can reach terms exponentially for easing the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

For the time being, there is no sign of this happening. On the contrary, there are indications of the crisis moving onto a military plane. Sources in the Middle East are not ruling out possible military action by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE against Qatar.

A military crisis centering on Qatar would be a catalyst for an outbreak of violence from the Gaza Strip. And indeed, after the failed Sanwar mission to Cairo and the reduction of electric power to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen warned that an “explosion” was imminent.

CHINA claims it has developed a new HYPERSONIC engine which could make its missiles invisible to existing defence systems.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has announced the successful development of a hypersonic ramjet engine after a series of eight test flights.
A report in the Global Times outlet of the state-owned People’s Daily states the revolutionary engine is now ready to be combined with a new generation of air-to-air missiles.
To qualify as ‘hypersonic’, the engine would have to move at more than 3853mph which is five times faster than the speed of sound.
And any missile moving at such speeds is likely to be impervious to modern rocket defence shields and could change the face of modern warfare.
China has reportedly chosen to focus on solid fuels as they are more stable and don’t require complicated and time consuming fuelling processes.
This means such weapons would be ‘on call’ for rapid deployment.
Ramjet engines have the ability to produce more energy from any given payload of fuel through sucking oxygen out of the atmosphere to burn, instead of carrying its own oxidisers.
The rate of this oxygen supply can be controlled through the ramjet’s air intakes.
A similar ramjet research project by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) appears to have stalled after a series of test flights ended in 2015.

Even at Bogotá airport in Colombia, the closest major capital city to Venezuela, a look of curiosity comes over the faces of staff when you tell them you are heading to Caracas.

Entry visas into Venezuela remain fairly accessible, although journalists are not allowed without a special visa. Although I claimed I was there as a tourist, this seemed far-fetched even to the likely pro-government immigration authorities. “What is the real motive of your visit?” the officer asked me. “Seeing my girlfriend,” I replied.
She smiled. “Welcome to Venezuela.”
As you travel down from Simon Bolívar International Airport into the city center, the difference between Caracas and Bogotá – formerly one of the world’s major drug war battlegrounds – is stark.
Armed police stand on almost every street corner. Every physical space is dedicated to promoting the success of the late Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution and Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian regime. The opposition undermines official government propaganda with its own graffiti, effectively accusing the regime of destroying the country with the highest oil reserves in the world.
The rise in anti-government messaging stands out compared to my visit last November. Pro-government propaganda shares the streets with graffiti denouncing the regime on nearly every block.
Nearly every day, anti-government marches take place across Venezuela, nearly all of which attract violence. So far, as many as 84 protesters have been killed since daily protests began in late March, as police use water cannons, rubber bullets, and smoke bombs to control the situation.
Protests have the feel of an out-of-control soccer crowd. There is a feeling of solidarity among people, most of whom are wearing Venezuelan flags. On the side of the street, salesmen sell what can only be described as protest merchandise, including Venezuelan flags, horns, and t-shirts.
Yet, despite it being a Wednesday, there are barely any students around. “The situation is too serious right now for students to dedicate sufficient time to studying,” English professor Lilliana Céspedes tells me. “Many prioritize attending anti-government marches or trying to earn money to support their families. During some of my classes, just a handful of students turn up.”

One of the most frustrating things about trying to understand Venezuela is the high level of security at places the regime would like to hide. As I enter a government-run supermarket, security guards check my pockets to see what I am carrying. They find my camera. “No photos here,” they say. A similar routine takes place on the way out.
I also tried my luck at a Venezuelan state hospital, although this time armed guards asked me to put the camera away. Nearly every public place in Caracas is guarded by police keeping a watchful eye over the situation. Most are very meagerly paid, but still officially remain supportive of the government.
Amid the crisis, some Venezuelans have accused others of not doing enough to fight the Maduro regime. “The only way I see out of the current regime is a military coup,” my taxi driver, Nelson Álvarez, tells me. “Some people have accused me of indifference towards the current political situation, but I have a family to look after. No matter how many or how violent the opposition protests, the key to bringing down this government are the military.”
Everything about Venezuela suggests this is a nation on the brink of collapse. Whether it is the ongoing violence, the extreme poverty, or the enormous piles of garbage in the street, nothing is working as it should be. In January, inflation reached over 800 percent, while some analysts predicting it could reach 1500 percent by the end of the year. Even at one of the city’s most exclusive hotels, breakfast offerings remain scarce and electricity and internet connection regularly cut out.

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