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Israel, Pakistan deny reported arms deals, but ....

June 14, 2013 at 5:54 PM   |   Comments

BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 14 (UPI) -- Israel and Pakistan have denied Islamabad bought military equipment from the Jewish state, following a British government report alleging Israeli arms were exported to several Muslim countries from 2008 to 2012.

The report listed the countries as Pakistan, Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, only one of which, Egypt, with diplomatic relations to the Jewish state.

There have been no known Israeli defense deals with Cairo, but these days they both face a common threat from jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida gaining strength in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, which separates the two countries.

The British report was released by the United Kingdom's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and covers the sale of defense systems that contain British-made components.

It specified, for instance, British-made nuts were used in Israeli-made cockpit displays and electronic warfare suites for Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat jets that were sold to Pakistan in 2010.

These and other Israeli arms sales were found buried in the British documents by the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz.

Israel denied allowing the sale of any weapons technology to Pakistan, traditional foe of India, with which Israel has long-standing defense contracts and intelligence links. Both are battling Islamist militants.

A senior Israeli official told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that a "processing error" might be to blame.

"The arms trade's a very murky business," he said. "It's also possible that someone who's not an Israeli attempted to hide a deal."

Israel's defense sector, which is overseen by the Defense Ministry, has had a reputation for shady dealings for decades, including illicit sales to Iran, that have embarrassed the government, and often the United States, as well as other allies.

Many arms dealers are former military men who are registered with the ministry's export division.

Some have been exposed dealing with Latin American drug cartels, militant organizations and tyrannical regimes in Africa and elsewhere.

The British documents include Israeli applications to purchase military items containing British components from January 2008 to December 2012 for use by Israeli armed forces or to be built into systems exported to third countries.

The documents show, for instance, Israel sought in 2011 to buy British components to export radar systems to Pakistan, a fractious U.S. ally in the war against al-Qaida.

Other items included head-up cockpit displays for fighter jets, aero engines and optical target acquisition systems, Haaretz reported.

Also in 2010, Israel sought permits to supply Egypt and Morocco, with whom Israel has long had friendly links, HUDs and electronic warfare systems.

In 2009, Israel asked for approval to sell unmanned aerial vehicle components, airborne radar and thermal imaging systems to the Emirates, and aerial observation systems, HUDs and systems to disrupt ballistic missiles to Algeria, Haaretz reported.

There have been persistent reports in recent years of discreet Israeli contacts with Pakistan and some Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

These days, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and the other gulf monarchies have a common adversary in Iran and its expansionist ambitions in the Middle East.

There also have been reports of their intelligence chiefs meeting several times, most often in Jordan, to discuss the Iranian threat and how to contain it, if not eliminate it.

In February, the Pentagon announced a collective $100 billion arms package for Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to bolster their defense capabilities against the Islamic Republic.

The Sunday Times of London reported May 5 Israel is working on joining a defense alliance with several Western-leaning Muslim states -- Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates -- to create a regional "moderate crescent" against Iran.

Yiftah Shapir, an Israeli security expert, observed while Israel was at pains to deny arming Pakistan, it was quiet about the reported exports to Algeria and other Arab states, which it does not see as threats.

"These reports don't surprise me," he said.

"No one talks about it, but there's now much more direct-sale activity between Israel and the gulf states as we now see ourselves being on the same side against Iran."

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