WSJ learns that the United States disrupted the construction of a secret Chinese military facility in the UAE

China has begun building a military facility at a port near Abu Dhabi. The United States learned about this from “classified satellite images” and convinced the UAE to stop construction, sources told WSJ

View of the port of Khalifa

US intelligence learned that China was building a secret military facility in the United Arab Emirates. The Wall Street Journal reported this with reference to sources.

According to the interlocutors of the publication, US intelligence learned about the suspicious activity of the PRC in the port of Khalifa, located about 80 km north of Abu Dhabi about a year ago. The Chinese conglomerate COSCO has built its container terminal in this port.

At first, the information seemed unconvincing to US officials, but this spring, the “ classified satellite imagery '' allowed them to conclude that China is building a military facility in the port. The data alarmed the administration of US President Joe Biden, and it made diplomatic efforts to convince the UAE of the military purpose of the facility and the need to stop construction, WSJ sources say.

After a series of meetings and visits by US officials to the UAE, construction of the facility was stopped, the edition writes.

The UAE Embassy in Washington, DC, told the WSJ that Abu Dhabi did not have an “ agreement or plan to locate a Chinese military base. '' A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the United States did not respond to a request from the publication.

Last week, Bloomberg sources reported that US top officials do not receive enough intelligence about what is happening in Beijing and “ understand little '' on the real state of affairs in the leadership of China, in particular who can become the successor of President Xi Jinping.

military force in the South China Sea, limiting the investigation into the origin of COVID-19, pressure on Chinese companies that were going to go public in the United States, and an increase in hacker attacks, '' the agency writes.

According to its information, Beijing caused significant damage to the US spy network even before Xi Jinping came to power. In addition, American intelligence lacks people who speak Mandarin Chinese.

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UAE authorities ban Belavia from transporting citizens of Syria and Iraq

The airline said it has tightened visa controls on all flights. Earlier, against the background of the migration crisis on the border of Belarus and Poland, the Turkish authorities banned Belavia from transporting Iraqis and Syrians

Belarusian airline Belavia will not accept citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria on board aircraft flying from Dubai to Belarus, according to a statement published on the company's website.

Belavia; notes that such a measure was taken “ in accordance with the decision of the competent authorities of the UAE '', the ban is in effect from November 14.

In this regard, Belavia strengthens control over the verification of documents during check-in of passengers for flights from Dubai. Passengers subject to this prohibition will be able to refund the full cost of air tickets at the place of purchase '', & mdash; the statement reads.

Belavia performs regular flights Minsk & mdash; Dubai from February 2021. In the summertime, when Dubai was 'low' the tourist season, the airline operated three flights a week, and since October, after the growth in demand for travel to the UAE, & mdash; five flights a week.

The company explains that most of the seats on flights Minsk & mdash; Dubai is sold in blocks to tour operators, the number of tickets sold with the starting point of the trip is “ Dubai '' was minimal.

Belavia also stated that she did not perform regular or charter flights to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and “ never facilitated the transportation of illegal migrants to the Republic of Belarus. ''

Earlier, on November 12, the airline said that the Turkish authorities had forbidden it to take on board the aircraft traveling to Belarus, citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Belavia operates flights to Minsk from Istanbul, which is considered one of the largest transfer hubs in Europe and the Middle East.

The Turkish airline Turkish also announced its refusal to carry citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen to Minsk Airlines, and the authorities of Turkey and Poland agreed to cooperate in solving the problem of the migration crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border.

The crisis on the border of the two countries began in early November. The situation escalated on November 8, when several thousand migrants approached the border with Poland in Belarus, wishing to enter the EU. Migrants, mostly from the Middle East, attempted to cross the border and set up camp in the border zone.

Poland mobilized additional military units to guard the border and increased the number of border guards in the area where migrants gather. President of the country Andrzej Duda accused the Belarusian authorities of deliberately sending migrants to the border.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, in response, said that migrants were deliberately brought into Belarus by some transit countries. “ There are dozens of transients who throw people up, & mdash; these are Germans and, first of all, Poles, also Ukrainians, Lithuanians. That is, it has its own mafia structure, which provides transit '', & mdash; said Lukashenko.

Last week, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that in response to the migration crisis, the EU and the US are preparing a new package of sanctions against Belarus. Bloomberg reported that the sanctions may include airlines that facilitate the transport of migrants to Belarus, as well as the insurance sector of Belarus. The agency's source said that the Russian Aeroflot may also be on the sanctions list. Later at Aeroflot denied accusations of involvement in the transport of migrants and declared their readiness to defend their position in court.

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UAE-Israel normalization: A ‘real breakthrough’ for Arab Gulf state, former ambassador says

UAE-Israel normalization: A 'real breakthrough' for Arab Gulf state, former ambassador says

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Ariel Oseran

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The World staff

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Tel Aviv City Hall is lit up with the flags of the United Arab Emirates and Israel as the countries announced they would soon be establishing full diplomatic ties, Aug. 13, 2020. 

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Oded Balilty/AP

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For the first time in more than 25 years, Israel could seal a historic diplomatic deal with an Arab country. US President Donald Trump made the announcement on Thursday about the impending pact, which he helped broker. 

Related: Israel’s hurried school reopenings serve as a cautionary tale

Israel and the United Arab Emirates look set to establish full normalization of relations. As part of that framework, Israel has agreed to suspend annexation plans in the West Bank. But Palestinian leaders aren’t exactly pleased about what they see as a betrayal by a fellow Arab nation. 

Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel and currently a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman about the ramifications. 

Marco Werman: So, ambassador, the statement Trump released today reads that the sides reached the agreement today, but teams from both countries will only meet in the coming weeks to actually sign bilateral agreements on things like opening embassies and security cooperation. President Trump is calling this a peace deal, but is that what it actually is?

Martin Indyk: Well, it’s really a normalization deal. I don’t think there’s any peace treaty to be signed here. But what’s important is that there will be a full normalization of relations. And that means ambassadors, embassies in both capitals and establishment of direct communication, including direct flights and a host of other agreements that they seem to have in mind to negotiate. There’s no formal conflict between the UAE and Israel to actually end. But the fact that an Arab Gulf state is fully normalizing its relationship with Israel is the real breakthrough here.

So, Israel and the UAE have not had official relations. Both sides have hinted at unofficial cooperation, though, for years now. So, what has been the relationship between the two countries, and what changes now, actually?

Well, there’s been a great deal of cooperation under the table, as it were, for about 10 years now — since Israel and the UAE developed a common interest in dealing with the threat that they both saw from Iran. This has been enhanced in recent years by a common concern about Turkey as well. That’s what’s been driving this. What’s been holding it up is the Arab consensus, up until today, that normalization should not go ahead, absent progress, if not a deal, between Israel and the Palestinians. Instead, what’s happened today is that it’s been turned on its head. And that is to say, in return for no annexation, there would be full normalization. So, the UAE can claim that it’s protecting the Palestinian interests from the annexation that Netanyahu was previously determined to go ahead with.

And yet I saw Hanan Ashrawi, who’s a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee, today tweeting: “May you never be sold out by your friends.” So, is this a signal by the Gulf States that they’re distancing themselves from the Palestinian cause?

Yes. And I can imagine that the Palestinians do feel a sense of betrayal, but they should have never gotten themselves up on the high branch of this tree of opposing normalization. The best solution for them is the solution that they tried in the past, and they should try again, which is to deal directly with Israel. But I do think that for some time now, the Gulf Arabs — we saw it with Bahrain and Oman, who were already advancing their relations with Israel in the last few years — the Gulf Arabs have felt that they no longer should hold their own relations with Israel hostage to the Palestinians. And so, I do think that we could see others following in the wake of the Emiratis, perhaps Bahrain, perhaps Oman. I don’t think Saudi Arabia yet, but you never know in that regard.

Many are going to see this as a foreign policy win for Donald Trump going into the November election. But are you confident in calling it — today — a win? And what do you make of the timing?

Well, the timing is highly political. The Trump peace plan was going nowhere, and the annexation had become politically fraught. It was offered by Trump originally for Netanyahu, to help [the Israeli prime minister] in his reelection. But the Arab reaction to the annexation, I think, held that all up. So, I think [Trump] traded it this time for something else. [As] I said, no annexation — in return for normalization. And so I think that he will claim some credit for this. It doesn’t resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It doesn’t remove any of the dangers that Israel faces in the region. But it does help to cement Israel’s relations with an important Gulf Arab country. And that’s important for Israel. And I think it’s important for the UAE. Eventually, it will prove to be, I think, important for peace [with the Palestinians].

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.