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News :: Education
Israeli military aid to Burmese regime: Jane's
13 Oct 2007
anyone surprised? i mean, really?
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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More Hate speech
14 Oct 2007
This article is incredibly offensive, on many levels. It means someone actually took the time to do research, found a seven year old reference - not to Israel itself, but to an Israeli company, and cited it, disregarding more current info simply to villify israel. Such hatred! Such hatred at the expense of the truth!

The Jane's report, which is seven years old, is shot through and through with passive voice phrases like "reports continue to surface," "reportedly," "there have been several other reports." "appears to include," "additional rumours," "apparently," "difficult to prove," "it has been suggested," "many observers believe," "stories surfaced about possible Israeli involvement." There are no verifiable citations.

Israel and Myanmar (Burma) did have a relationship dating from 1948 when both became independent states. Jane's mentions several reasons for this, like the following, which is omitted in the posted article:

"Israel, threatened on all sides by Arab countries, was anxious to find allies who could provide diplomatic support in international forums like the UN."

The heaviest Israeli support took place during the earlier years of this relationship, in the 1950's. As for more recent activity, the Jane's report contains the following statement, which the WW4R article very conveniently omits:

"These reports of arms sales, technology transfers and other ties to the military regime in Yangon have been repeatedly and strenuously denied by official Israeli representatives in the region. They have pointed out that most of the accusations leveled at Israel since 1988 have been based on unsubstantiated rumours, speculation in the international news media, and purely circumstantial evidence."

Jane's mentions a 1997 contract with the Elbit company for some electronics to upgrade defective Chinese planes. Elbit is a private company and can sell to whom it wants. But while Elbit sells electronics, let's look at who is providing the big guns to Myanmar's naval ship building efforts. Myanmar:

"has now purchased three Chinese hulls, and is currently fitting them out as corvettes in Yangon's Sinmalaik shipyard.
"Despite a European Community embargo against arms sales to Myanmar, the ships' main guns are being imported (apparently through a third party) from Italy."

Here the Jane's article makes, at best, an inference when it states that,

"Based on the information currently available, they [the corvettes' guns] 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."
Note the phrase "perhaps coincidentally" indicating this is not verified information.

Jane's describes Israel's main role in "fitting out the three corvettes is apparently to provide their electronics suites." Once again, note the word "apparently," indicating no hard information backs up the report.

The Jane's article also states:

"In order to replenish Myanmar's dwindling military supplies, the [military] turned first to Singapore and Pakistan. It later developed very close ties with China."

This raises the question of why Israel is being singled out, while Italy, Singapore, Pakistan, and especially China are essentially let off the hook. See also this December 7, 2006 Human Rights Watch press release ("India: Military Aid to Burma Fuels Abuses") condemning India's military support of Burma. The WW4R article clearly has an agenda against Israel.
The Jane's report is seven years old. Even the United States did not impose trade sanctions until 2003. This is another clue to the agenda of those who are trying to use this article to defame Israel.
Finally, the WW4R article and its echos in the blogosphere seems unphased about Iran's burgeoning relationship with the Myanmar junta. For example, see this interview with Iran's ambassador to Myanmar at the web site of the Democratic Voice of Burma. According to Iran's ambassador, "we have a very close position regarding . . . issues at the United Nations and so one of the issues [at the moment] is . . . about Iran and usually Myanmar supports Iran, our right to have this kind of [nuclear] energy." (ellipses in the original)

In conclusion:

1. The present role of Israel in the Myanmar situation is uncertain at best.
2. Those who assert that the Jane's report is some kind of smoking gun have a clear political agenda and are promoting a double standard.

Those who really care about the people of Burma, and wish to stop the violence there, have far more pressing matters to attend to than smearing Israel using a seven year old report based largely on "rumours" that are "difficult to prove." Such unfounded attacks on Israel do nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Burmese people, and it does nothing for peacemaking and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Its only purpose is to demonize Israel, while contributing to an atmosphere of intolerance and hate.
"why Israel is being singled out"
17 Oct 2007
Israel is being singled out because it is supported by the American taxpayer. Without us, Israel couldn't prey on its neighbors, or offer help to monsters like the generals who rule Burma.
Who is preying on who?
18 Oct 2007
Click on image for a larger version

Little tiny Israel surrounded by hostility on all sides- tiny Israel surrounded by 22 Arab Muslim states with 80 times the people and 800 times the land.
Who is preying on who?
Here's who taxpayers are supporting, btw
18 Oct 2007
Here are the top 16 recipients of U.S. foreign aid for 2004:

1. Iraq 18.44 Billion
2. Israel 2.62 Billion
3. Egypt 1.87 Billion
4. Afghanistan 1.77 Billion
5. Colombia 0.57 Billion
6. Jordan 0.56 Billion
7. Pakistan 0.39 Billion
8. Liberia 0.21 Billion
9. Peru 0.17 Billion
10. Ethiopia 0.16 Billion
11. Bolivia 0.15 Billion
12. Turkey 0.15 Billion
13. Uganda 0.14 Billion
14. Sudan 0.14 Billion
15. Indonesia 0.13 Billion
16. Kenya 0.13 Billion

CRS Report for Congres:: Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S.
Programs and Policy, April 15, 2004, page 13