Friday, February 24, 2006

More data on post-911 UAE-US relations

UAE awards Tommy Franks its top military honor
UAE-U.S. relations are growing stronger

From 2003 - (The Washington Times)

Listening to the Tony Snow show today, I caught a replayed segment of Tony's interview with Afghanistan's military guru, General Tommy Franks.

There's no transcripts for this, so forgive the "I heard it, believe you me" bit here. But you can always innundate Tony Snow with questions, and beg for Tommy Frank appearances on the talking head circuit to get more of the reality. BUT....

General Frank said that it's absurd to chastise the UAE for their pre-911 ties to the Taliban. For if it were not for that, the US's precision bombing and rapid, successful military campaign would not have been possible. For it was the UAE gov't who handed him (personally, he said) much of the intel that led to the Afghan campaign's stellar performance. It is important to note that the UAE denounced the WTC attack, and broke ties with the Taliban after 911.

Now since I, too, want to hear more, I started digging for more about Tommy Franks and his knowledge and/or ties to the UAE. Ideal, of course, would be fresh interviews and a Tony Snow transcript... ah... in the real world.

First up is the linked article at the top of this post from 2003. Do remember that the Int'l Reports is a segment of the Washington Times... an American publication. So I have a hard time reconcilling that Congressional types may never have seen this data about the UAE and their history of "ally" status.

The UAE has also pledged its support for the U.S. Government’s ‘War against terror.’ UAE authorities were among the first to condemn the September 11th terrorist attacks, and responded by immediately severing ties with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The UAE Government also pledged to tighten its financial system to ensure that terror groups could not use the domestic banking sector for money laundering. The UAE authorities had taken a tough stance on this issue before September 11th, but since then have made systems even stricter, including passing a new money laundering law. UAE officials worked side-by-side with their U.S. counterparts in drafting the new legislation.

"Immediately severing ties with the Taliban". But thank heaven not before they had amassed their own network of intelligence... which Franks and our military obviously found useful. And the new banking/financial stance? I mentioned this fact after "semi-live-blogging" the briefings to SASC yesterday.

Next up? A USAToday article from April 2003, titled U.S. wants to keep presence in Persian Gulf.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United States wants to keep using military bases in friendly Persian Gulf countries, including a high-tech command center in Qatar where planners directed the war in Iraq, U.S. officials said Sunday.

Gen. Tommy Franks, the top war commander, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld met with officials in the United Arab Emirates on the first stop of a tour of the region. After talks with the UAE's defense minister and chief of staff, Rumsfeld and Franks said American military forces were not going to leave any time soon.

"We assured them that the United States intends to do what is necessary to make sure there is a secure environment in Iraq," Rumsfeld said.

"There's no question but that the people of this region are safer today than they were when the Saddam Hussein regime was in power."

In Abu Dhabi, Rumsfeld and Franks said they thanked the UAE leaders for their war help, which included sending troops to Kuwait and humanitarian aid to Iraq.

UAE officials did not speak to journalists or issue a statement after the talks.

Franks and Rumsfeld met with Crown Prince Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the son of the UAE president. The UAE's defense minister, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and chief of staff of the armed forces, Lt. Gen. Sheik Mohammad Zayed Al Nahyan, also participated.

U.S. troops have used bases in the UAE since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, in which the UAE joined the coalition to oust Saddam's invading forces from Kuwait. American aircraft using the al-Dhafra air base near Abu Dhabi have included U-2 and Global Hawk surveillance planes as well as refueling tankers.

The UAE government has not indicated it wants to close off its bases to the United States, a U.S. official said Sunday. The UAE's concerns include a territorial dispute with Iran over three small islands in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. officials say the UAE also has helped in the war on terrorism, and a top former Iraqi nuclear weapons scientist, Jaffar al-Jaffer, turned himself in to authorities in the UAE after fleeing Iraq through Syria.

Well now... we have a history with the UAE that goes back even thru the first Gulf War as well. Not quite so completely despicable a history as portrayed by alarmist Congress members.

Last up would be the
the opening statements for an appearance by Tommy Franks before the House Armed Services Committee sometime in 2003 (date isn't clear, and I can't get back to the root to verify actual date). The UAE's mention appears under a segment crediting some Gulf nations for "security assistance", and lays out an agreement for the UAE to purchase F-16s from Lockheed. And before the party-types leap to conclusions... this was approved under the Clinton WH nary a whisper or snore from Congress.

In the aftermath of DESERT SHIELD/STORM, a primary emphasis of countries in the region, particularly the countries of the Persian Gulf, was modernization of their armed forces through FMS and Direct Commercial Sales of U.S.-built equipment. Saudi Arabia is the largest FMS customer in the world accounting for over $83 billion in FMS sales thru FY00. Combined with the other countries of the GCC, the total for this sub-region is over $94 billion through FY00.

Two significant security assistance highlights of this past year include:

- In March 2000, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a $6.4 billion commercial contract with Lockheed-Martin to purchase 80 F-16 Block 60 aircraft. Associated with this commercial sale is a projected $1.6 billion in FMS. FMS cases will include program support, pilot and maintenance training, and F-16 munitions, which include AMRAAM, AIM-9, HARM, Maverick and Harpoon missiles. Though the F-16 purchase was a Direct Commercial Sale, U.S. Government and industry worked closely together to bring this to fruition. As a result, the sale is a step toward enhanced strategic partnership.

- Similarly, the sale of ATACMS missiles to the Government of Bahrain was finalized on 15 December 2000, as the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) continues to place emphasis on equipping and training their land and air forces with U.S. resources and making them more capable contributors to Gulf collective security.

Not linked, but honorable mentions on behalf the the UAE by Gen. Franks is their quick response after Katrina, being the first to pledge big bucks in aid. Also their granting of fly over airspace rights, etc.

I think we need to hear more from Tommy Franks and those like him with more knowledge about the UAE. Afterall, if we are to succomb to security fears we are supposed to be facing by the Arab nation's purchase of P&O, it only seems fitting we hear more about the post-911 UAE as a contrast to the pre-911 UAE.

No comments: