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Israel Arming Burma

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    Israeli military aid to Burmese regime: Jane s David Bloom Sat, 09/29/2007 http://ww4report.com/node/4491 The Burmese junta currently shooting unarmed
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2007
      Israeli military aid to Burmese regime: Jane's
      David Bloom
      Sat, 09/29/2007

      The Burmese junta currently shooting unarmed protestors received a
      cynical plea for restraint from the Israel government on Sept. 29.
      According to the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, the Israeli foreign ministry
      announced "Israel is concerned by the situation in Myanmar, and urges
      the government to demonstrate restraint and refrain from harming
      demonstrators." The article ended by pointing out that "Israel denies
      selling weapons to Burma or Myanmar." (Ha'aretz, Sept. 29)

      Not true, according a March 1, 2000 report in the authoritative
      British publication Jane's Intelligence Review by William Ashton. The
      article, titled "Myanmar and Israel develop military pact," details
      how Israeli companies and the Israeli government have been supplying
      and developing weapons for the Burmese regime, and sharing intelligence:

      In August 1997 it was revealed that the Israeli defence
      manufacturing company Elbit had won a contract to upgrade Myanmar's
      (then) three squadrons of Chinese-built F-7 fighters and FT-7
      trainers. The F-7 is a derivative of the Mikoyan MiG-21 'Fishbed' jet
      fighter. The FT-7 is the export version of the GAIC JJ-7, itself a
      copy of the MiG-21 'Mongol-B' trainer. Since they began to be
      delivered by China in 1991, the Myanmar Air Force has progressively
      acquired about 54 (or four squadrons) of these aircraft, the latest
      arriving at Hmawbi air base only last year. In related sales, the air
      force has also acquired about 350 PL-2A air-to-air missiles (AAM) from
      China and at least one shipment of the more sophisticated PL-5 AAMs.

      Since their delivery to Myanmar, these new aircraft have caused
      the air force considerable problems. Several aircraft (and pilots)
      have already been lost through accidents, raising questions about the
      reliability of the Chinese technology. There have also been reliable
      reports that the F-7s were delivered without the computer software to
      permit the AAMs to be fired in flight. Also, the air force has
      complained that the F-7s are difficult to maintain, in part reflecting
      major differences between the structure and underlying philosophy of
      the Myanmar and Chinese logistics systems. Spare parts have been in
      very short supply. In addition, the air force seems to have
      experienced difficulties in using the F-7 (designed primarily for air
      defence) in a ground attack role. These, and other problems, seem to
      have prompted the air force to turn to Israel for assistance.

      According to sources in the international arms market, 36 of
      Myanmar's F-7 fighters are to be retro-fitted with the Elta EL/M- 2032
      air-to-air radar, Rafael Python 3 infrared, short range AAMs, and
      Litening laser designator pods. The same equipment will also be
      installed on the two-seater FT-7 fighter trainers. In a related deal,
      Israel will also sell Myanmar at least one consignment of laser-guided
      bombs. Since the Elbit contract was won in 1997, the air force has
      acquired at least one more squadron of F-7 and FT-7 aircraft from
      China, but it is not known whether the Israeli-backed upgrade
      programme will now be extended to include the additional aircraft.
      Myanmar's critical shortage of foreign exchange will be a major factor
      in the SPDC's decision.

      The army has also benefited from Myanmar's new closeness to Israel.

      As part of the regime's massive military modernisation and
      expansion programme, considerable effort has been put into upgrading
      the army's artillery capabilities. In keeping with its practice of
      never abandoning any equipment of value, the army clearly still aims,
      as far as possible, to keep older weapons operational. (Pakistan, for
      example, has recently provided Myanmar with ammunition for its vintage
      25 pounder field guns). The older UK, US and Yugoslav guns in the
      Tatmadaw's [Myanmar Armed Forces] inventory have been supplemented
      over the past 10 years with a range of new towed and self-propelled
      artillery pieces. Purchased mainly from China, they include 122mm
      howitzers, anti-tank guns, 57mm Type 80 anti-aircraft guns, 37mm Type
      74 anti-aircraft guns and 107mm Type 63 multiple rocket launchers. In
      a barter deal brokered by China last year, the SPDC has also managed
      to acquire about 16 130mm artillery pieces from North Korea. Despite
      all this new firepower, however, the army has still looked to Israel
      to help equip its new artillery battalions.

      Around 1998 Myanmar negotiated the purchase of 16 155mm Soltam
      towed howitzers, possibly through a third party like Singapore. These
      guns are believed to be second-hand pieces no longer required by the
      Israel Defence Force. Last year, ammunition for these guns (including
      high explosive and white phosphorous rounds) was ordered from
      Pakistan's government ordnance factories. Before the purchase of these
      new Chinese and North Korean weapons, Myanmar's largest artillery
      pieces were 105mm medium guns, provided by the USA almost 40 years
      ago. Acquiring the Israeli weapons thus marks a major capability leap
      for Myanmar's army gunners. It is possible that either Israel or
      Pakistan has provided instructors to help the army learn to use and
      maintain these new weapons.

      Nor has the Myanmar Navy missed out on Israeli assistance. There
      have been several reports that Israel is playing a crucial role in the
      construction and fitting out of three new warships, currently being
      built in Yangon.

      Myanmar's military leaders have long wanted to acquire two or
      three frigates to replace the country's obsolete PCE-827 and
      Admirable- class corvettes, decommissioned in 1994, and its two
      1960s-vintage Nawarat-class corvettes, which have been gradually
      phased out since 1989. As military ties with China rapidly grew during
      the 1990s, the SLORC hoped to buy two or three Jiangnan- or even
      Jianghu-class frigates, but it could not afford even the special
      'friendship' prices being asked by Beijing. As a compromise, the SPDC
      has now purchased three Chinese hulls, and is currently fitting them
      out as corvettes in Yangon's Sinmalaik shipyard.

      According to reliable reports, the three vessels will each be
      about 75m long and displace about 1,200 tons. Despite a European
      Community embargo against arms sales to Myanmar, the ships' main guns
      are being imported (apparently through a third party) from Italy.
      Based on the information currently available, they are likely to be
      76mm OTO Melara Compact guns, weapons which (perhaps coincidentally)
      have been extensively combat-tested by the Israeli Navy on its Reshef-
      class fast attack missile patrol boats. The corvettes will probably
      also be fitted with anti-submarine weapons, but it is not known what,
      if any, surface-to-surface and SAMs the ships will carry.

      Israel's main role in fitting out the three corvettes is
      apparently to provide their electronics suites. Details of the full
      contract are not known, but it is expected that each package will
      include at least a surface-search radar, a fire-control radar, a
      navigation radar and a hull-mounted sonar.

      The first of these warships will probably be commissioned and
      commence sea trials later this year.

      Only sales or a strategic imperative?

      While Myanmar remains a pariah state, subject to comprehensive
      sanctions by the USA and European Community, it is unlikely that
      Israel will ever admit publicly to having military links with the
      Tatmadaw. Until it does, the reasons for Israel's secret partnership
      with the Yangon regime will remain unclear. A number of factors,
      however, have probably played a part in influencing policy decisions
      in Tel Aviv.

      There is clearly a strong commercial imperative behind some of
      these ventures. From a regional base in Singapore, with which it
      shares a very close relationship, Israel has already managed to
      penetrate the lucrative Chinese arms market. It is now aggressively
      seeking new targets for sales of weapons and military equipment in the
      Asia- Pacific. These sales are sometimes supported by offers of
      technology transfers and specialised advice. This approach has led to
      fears among some countries that Israel will introduce new military
      capabilities into the region which could encourage a mini arms race,
      as others attempt to catch up. The weapon systems being provided to
      the Myanmar armed forces are not that new, and the Asian economic
      crisis has dramatically reduced the purchasing power of many regional
      countries, but Israel's current activities in Myanmar will add to
      those concerns.

      Given the nature of some of these sales, and other probable forms
      of military assistance to Myanmar, these initiatives would appear to
      enjoy the strong support of the Israeli government. In addition to the
      ever-present trade imperative, one reason for this support could be a
      calculation by senior Israeli officials that closer ties to Myanmar
      could reap diplomatic and intelligence dividends. For example, Myanmar
      is now a full member of the Association of South East Asian Nations
      (ASEAN) which, despite the economic crisis, is still a major force in
      a part of the world which has received much closer attention from
      strategic analysts since the end of the Cold War. Israel's regional
      base will remain Singapore, but it is possible that Tel Aviv believes
      Myanmar can provide another avenue for influence in ASEAN, and a
      useful vantage point from which to monitor critical strategic
      developments in places like China and India.

      In particular, Israel is interested in the spread of nuclear,
      chemical and biological weapons, and the transfer of technologies
      related to the development of ballistic and other missiles. Myanmar
      has close military relations with China and Pakistan, both of which
      have been accused of transferring sensitive weapons technologies to
      rogue Islamic states, such as Iran. Myanmar is also a neighbour of
      India, another nuclear power that has resisted international pressure
      to curb its proliferation activities. Yangon could thus be seen by
      Israel as a useful listening post from which to monitor and report on
      these countries.

      Also, despite accusations over the years that Myanmar has
      developed chemical and biological weapons, and more convincing
      arguments that Israel has a sizeable nuclear arsenal of its own, both
      countries share an interest in preventing the proliferation of weapons
      of mass destruction. Myanmar's support for anti-proliferation
      initiatives, in multilateral forums like the UN General Assembly and
      the Committee on Disarmament, would seem to be worth a modest
      investment by the Israeli government in bilateral relations with the
      SPDC. In addition to training Myanmar agriculturalists in Israel,
      assisting the Tatmadaw to upgrade its military capabilities seems a
      sure way of getting close to the Yangon regime.

      Israel's repeated denial of any military links with Myanmar are
      not unexpected. Israel has never liked advertising such ties,
      particularly with countries like Myanmar, South Africa and China,
      which have been condemned by the international community for gross
      abuses of human rights. Even Israel's very close military ties with
      Singapore are routinely denied by both sides. Yet there seems little
      room for doubt that, after the 1988 takeover, Israel did start to
      develop close links with the SLORC, which are continuing to grow under
      the SPDC. In these circumstances, it would be surprising if Israel was
      not still looking for opportunities to restore the kind of mutually
      beneficial bilateral relationship that was first established when both
      countries became independent modern states in 1948.

      It is noteworthy that Elbit Systems is one of the Israeli companies
      involved in Myanmar. Elbit supplies electronics used in the separation
      wall that Israel is building illegally in the occupied Palestinian
      West Bank, enclosing up to 10% of Palestinian land on the "Israeli"
      side. It is ironic that Israel expresses concern about protestors
      being killed by the Burmese military it supplies, when Israel itself
      has killed ten Palestinians protesting the annexation of large
      sections of their farmland, and injured hundreds of others, including
      Israeli and international demonstators, who have been beaten, arrested
      and expelled by the Israeli military. ( JPost, Sept. 5) Just today in
      the village of Bil'in in the West Bank, the Israeli military injured
      nine non-violent protestors, according to the International Middle
      East Media Center (IMEMC, Sept. 29)

      That the Burmese military has fired into crowds recalls that a month
      into the second Palestinian intifada, before any armed attacks or
      shooting came from the Palestinian side, Israeli forces had fired 1.3
      million bullets at Palestinians, according to Yitzhak Laor, an Israeli
      columnist who often writes for Ha'aretz:

      A month after the Intifada began, four years ago, Major General
      Amos Malka, by then No. 3 in the military hierarchy, and until 2001
      the head of Israeli military Intelligence (MI), asked one of his
      officers (Major Kuperwasser) how many 5.56 bullets the Central Command
      had fired during that month (that is, only in the West Bank). Three
      years later Malka talked about these horrific figures. This is what he
      said to Ha'aretz's diplomatic commentator, Akiva Eldar about the first
      month of the Intifada, 30 days of unrest, no terrorist attacks yet, no
      Palestinian shooting:

      Kuperwasser got back to me with the number, 850,000 bullets.
      My figure was 1.3 million bullets in the West Bank and Gaza. This is a
      strategic figure that says that our soldiers are shooting and shooting
      and shooting. I asked: "Is this what you intended in your
      preparations?" and he replied in the negative. I said: "Then the
      significance is that we are determining the height of the flames."
      (Ha'aretz, 11.6.2004).

      It was a bullet for every Palestinian child, said one of the
      officers in that meeting, or at least this is what the Israeli daily
      Maariv revealed two years ago, when the horrible figures were first
      leaked. It didn't much change "public opinion", neither here nor in
      the West, neither two years ago nor 4 months ago when Malka finally
      opened his mouth. It read as if it had happened somewhere else, or a
      long time ago, or as if it was just one version, a voice in a
      polyphony, hiding behind the principle theme: we, the Israelis are
      right, and they are wrong. (Counterpunch, Oct. 20, 2004)



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