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Eurasia Security Watch - No. 259
Edited by Amanda Lamb
May 21, 2012
AZERBAIJAN-ISRAEL TIES CONTINUE TO GROW
Recent moves by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) to expand its international energy production, this time in Israel, has ruffled feathers in both the West and the Middle East. SOCAR will become the foremost offshore drilling contractor in Israel and a subsidiary, the Caspian Drilling Company (CDS), recently gained a stake in Med Ashdod, Israel’s only viable oil field, in a deal that will come to fruition shortly. The visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in April to Azerbaijan punctuated the growing ties between the two countries, especially in energy and military sectors.
The burgeoning partnership has raised concerns in the West, where some countries have expressed worries about Azerbaijan's recent $1.6 billion military equipment purchase from Israel. So, too, has Iran, which shares deep ethnic and cultural ties to its northern neighbor - and has worked diligently to coopt and weaken the Aliyev regime. (EurasiaNet, May 8, 2012)
WHO IS POISONING AFGHAN SCHOOL CHILDREN?
“I don’t know exactly who has done it yet, but it is definitely an inhumane action against the children of this country and against education in this country,” commented Amir Padshah Mangal, the Afghan director of the regional health department in Afghanistan's Khost Province. Mangal was referring to the recent poisoning of Afghan school children by unknown parties. Earlier this month, almost 400 male students in Khost became sick from well water that was believed to have been poisoned. Eighty of the boys remained in the hospital as of May 15th, with several in critical condition. In April, nearly 200 female students and other women were sent to the hospital for a similar incident in the Takhar province. In 2010, over 100 female students took ill due to poisoned water sources. While no culprit has been identified, the contaminated water from the most recent incident is being tested in Kabul, as health authorities believe that the contamination was intentional. (CNN, May 15, 2012)
ALLEGED ISRAELI SPY EXECUTED IN IRAN
On May 15th, the Iranian government executed Majid Jamali Fashi in connection with the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist last year - a killing regime authorities attribute to a plan by the Israeli government to sabotage its “peaceful” nuclear program. Fashi was previously convicted by an Iranian court of being an Israeli spy, training with the Mossad, receiving $120,000 to assassinate an Iranian nuclear scientist, and using forged documents from Azerbaijan to travel into the Islamic Republic illegally. (New York Times, May 15, 2012)
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MOHAMMED RASHID?
The financial adviser of the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is now wanted by the Palestinian Authority’s Anti-Corruption Commission on charges that he stole millions of dollars from the Palestinian Investment Fund and established fake companies. The case against Mohammed Rashid, also known as Khaled Salam, is the highest profile and largest launched by the PA's Anti-Corruption Commission since its establishment by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas some two years ago. “We want to ask where did he get all his money from? This is Palestinian money and should be returned to the Palestinian people,” Rafik Natche, the chief of the Anti-Corruption Commission panel, has told reporters. Rashid moved out of the Palestinian Territories in 2004 after Arafat’s death and his whereabouts are currently unknown, despite reported Al-Arabiya interviews from Dubai and postings on his website from Paris. Palestinian government agencies have called on Arab nations to extradite Rashid and freeze his assets; Interpol may also be involved in attempting to locate the fugitive. On his website, Rashid claims that Abbas “made a huge mistake and must suffer the consequences,” and has threatened to disclose “secrets” about the Palestinian leader in forthcoming articles. (Washington Post, May 16, 2012)