Archive | December, 2010

Saudi Arabia supports terrorism in Iraq

Posted on 31 December 2010 by hashimilion

Several Iraqi authorities have accused Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorist attacks in the war-wrecked country, which run by the Shia-led government.

“We hope that our neighboring countries do their best to help the Iraqi government control the borders and improve the security,” Fawzi Tarzi of Sadr movement told a Press TV correspondent on Wednesday.

Members of Iraqi National Coalition said some circles in Saudi Arabia offer financial and moral support to terrorists, who have been behind numerous attacks in the war-torn country.

They added that some religious authorities in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa that permits killing of Shia people, who make up the majority of Iraqi population, and that the Saudi government does everything possible to make the Baghdad government fail.

“The Saudi government has done whatever it can to prevent the formation of the Shia-led Iraqi government,” political analyst Khalid al-Sarral said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki named security as one of his top priorities after the parliament approved his nomination for a second term as attacks still remain common in the Iraqi capital and the main northern city of Mosul.

Meanwhile, politicians from the Iraqi national coalition claim that there is enough evidence to implicate the Saudis in at least part of the violence and to prove that they still interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq, although Riyadh has denied involvement in the violence.

Iraqi officials also urged the government to strictly control the country’s border with Saudi Arabia to stop the flow of terrorists into the country.

“We should seal our borders with Saudi Arabia to hold the flow of terrorism,” said Mohammed Hussein of Iraqi National Alliance.

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Police charge Saudi flight student with sodomy

Posted on 31 December 2010 by hashimilion

Enterprise police arrested a 22-year-old Saudi Arabian flight student and charged him with sodomizing another man.

Capt. Mike Lolley said police arrested Talal Mohammed Alkharraz on Wednesday and charged him with felony first-degree sodomy.

Lolley said Alkharraz is a Saudi flight student at Fort Rucker.

Jenny Stripling, a public information officer for Fort Rucker, said in an e-mail that there are 120 international flight students at Fort Rucker.

Alkharraz is being held at the Coffee County Jailwithout bond. Court records indicate Alkharraz lives on Fryer Street at Fort Rucker.

Lolley said the sexual assault allegedly happened at a third person’s home during the middle of last week. He said the victim is an adult man. Lolley said there was no weapon used during the sexual assault. He saidAlkharraz and the victim are acquaintances.

Coffee County District Attorney Gary McAliley said alcohol was a factor. He also said Alkharraz has denied any wrongdoing to police.

Court records indicate police charged Alkharraz with sodomizing a man who was incapable of consenting by reason of being either physically or mentally incapacitated.

Court records also indicate District Court Judge Paul Sherling granted Alkharraz a bond on Wednesday with several conditions that included he surrender his passport, that he may be released on a $1,000 bond and be fitted with an ankle monitor.

But McAliley said agents with the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) have a hold on Alkharraz at the Coffee County Jail after there was a report he planned to flee the country if he made bond in the case.

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Saudi Arabia accused of abusing political detainee

Posted on 31 December 2010 by arabia2day

Saudi Arabia has mistreated a surgeon it has detained for nearly four years without trial on accusations of “backing and funding terrorism,” his Kuwaiti lawyer charged on Thursday.

Saud al-Hashemi, a 46-year-old Saudi, was arrested and detained in a prison in the holy city of Mecca after he criticised the political situation in the kingdom on Al-Jazeera television, Osama al-Munawer told AFP.

“We hold the Saudi authorities responsible for any hazard that may be inflicted on my client due to mistreatment,” said Munawer, adding that his client’s health condition has deteriorated.

Hashemi, a father of nine, was sent to court only last week in a violation of Saudi law which bans detaining people for more than six months without trial.

“Prison authorities kept him in a cold air-conditioned room without clothes for four days before taking him to the judge… They also forced him to sign a document that he will not seek the help of a lawyer,” Munawer said.

Hashemi was arrested on February 2, 2007 while meeting in Jeddah with several activists advocating democratic and social reforms in the conservative Muslim monarchy.

Altogether nine activists were rounded up, seven of whom remain in jail and now face trial. The other two were released over health issues.

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English Language Al-Qaida Magazine Provides Bomb-Making Recipes

Posted on 31 December 2010 by arabia2day

An English-language magazine published on the Internet by al-Qaida allegedly provided encouragement and bomb-making instructions that helped inspire nine men arrested on terrorism charges in the United Kingdom last week.

Its first issue, in July, featured the article “Making a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” the Washington Post reports.

Unlike the Arabic-language religious screeds featured by other jihadist websites, the magazine, calledInspire, is worrisome because it is designed to appeal to a broad global audience likely to understand English, according to terrorism specialist Mathieu Guidere of the University of Geneva.

That the Bangladeshi suspects in the British case were allegedly looking at it is “proof that the magazine works,” he says, in its aim of appealing to “exactly that kind of a public.”

Experts suggest that the magazine may be edited by a Saudi-born U.S. citizen who is likely being directed by an American-born cleric in Yemen, the Post says. And the cleric may have been in contact with Nidal Malik Hasan, a disaffected U.S. Army officer charged with murder concerning the November 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.

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Houthi Statement: 428 Detainees exchanged for Military Vehicles

Posted on 30 December 2010 by arabia2day

In the name of God, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.

Yemen, Saada
30. 12 2010

Today we handed over 20 military vehicles in Harf Sufyan and received 428 detainees, which was under Qatari supervision. This was due to the Qatari mediation efforts  in implementing the agreements between the Government and ourselves so that our struggle ends and the after effects of the war resolved.

The detainees were greeted in tents by large and jubilant crowd in Dhahyan after a period of long suffering. Some of the detainees were held in prison for 8 years.

Office of Sayid Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi

Original Arabic Press Release:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

اليمن – صعدة

30/ 12 / 2010

في إطار الجهود التي تبذلها الوساطة القطرية في الإشراف على تنفيذ الاتفاقيات الموقعة بيننا وبين السلطة من أجل إنهاء الصراع ومعالجة مخلفات الحروب تم اليوم تسليم (10) آليات عسكرية في (مديرية حرف سفيان) كما استلمنا عصر اليوم (428) معتقلاً وبإشراف الوسيط القطري أيضاً.

وقد تم استقبال المعتقلين بمواكب جماهيرية حاشدة سارت حتى وصلت (مدينة ضحيان) حيث نصبت المخيمات وتجمع الناس لإستقبالهم والترحيب بهم ، كما رفعت اللافتات التي ترحب بالمعتقلين وتبارك عودتهم بعد معاناة طويلة البعض منهم له في المعتقل ثمان سنوات   .

المكتب الإعلامي للسيد/

عبد الملك بدر الدين الحوثي

24/ محرم / 1432هـ

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New Look for Mecca: Gargantuan and Gaudy

Posted on 30 December 2010 by hashimilion


JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — It is an architectural absurdity. Just south of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Muslim world’s holiest site, a kitsch rendition of London’s Big Ben is nearing completion. Called the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, it will be one of the tallest buildings in the world, the centerpiece of a complex that is housing a gargantuan shopping mall, an 800-room hotel and a prayer hall for several thousand people. Its muscular form, an unabashed knockoff of the original, blown up to a grotesque scale, will be decorated with Arabic inscriptions and topped by a crescent-shape spire in what feels like a cynical nod to Islam’s architectural past. To make room for it, the Saudi government bulldozed an 18th-century Ottoman fortress and the hill it stood on.

The tower is just one of many construction projects in the very center of Mecca, from train lines to numerous luxury high-rises and hotels and a huge expansion of the Grand Mosque. The historic core of Mecca is being reshaped in ways that many here find appalling, sparking unusually heated criticism of the authoritarian Saudi government.

“It is the commercialization of the house of God,” said Sami Angawi, a Saudi architect who founded a research center that studies urban planning issues surrounding the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, and has been one of the development’s most vocal critics. “The closer to the mosque, the more expensive the apartments. In the most expensive towers, you can pay millions” for a 25-year leasing agreement, he said. “If you can see the mosque, you pay triple.”

Saudi officials say that the construction boom — and the demolition that comes with it — is necessary to accommodate the ever-growing numbers of people who make the pilgrimage to Mecca, a figure that has risen to almost three million this past year. As a non-Muslim, I was not permitted to visit the city, but many Muslims I spoke to who know it well — including architects, preservationists and even some government officials — believe the real motive behind these plans is money: the desire to profit from some of the most valuable real estate in the world. And, they add, it has been facilitated by Saudi Arabia’s especially strict interpretation of Islam, which regards much history after the age of Muhammad, and the artifacts it produced, as corrupt, meaning that centuries-old buildings can be destroyed with impunity.

That mentality is dividing the holy city of Mecca — and the pilgrimage experience — along highly visible class lines, with the rich sealed inside exclusive air-conditioned high-rises encircling the Grand Mosque and the poor pushed increasingly to the periphery.

There was a time when the Saudi government’s architecture and urban planning efforts, especially around Mecca, did not seem so callous. In the 1970s, as the government was taking control of Aramco, the American conglomerate that managed the country’s oil fields, skyrocketing oil prices unleashed a wave of national modernization programs, including a large-scale effort to accommodate those performing the hajj.

The projects involved some of the world’s great architectural talents, many of whom were encouraged to experiment with a freedom they were not finding in the West, where postwar faith in Modernism was largely exhausted. The best of their works — modern yet sensitive to local environment and traditions — challenge the popular assumption that Modernist architecture, as practiced in the developing world, was nothing more than a crude expression of the West’s quest for cultural dominance.

These include the German architect Frei Otto’s remarkable tent cities from the late 1970s, made up of collapsible lightweight structures inspired by the traditions of nomadic Bedouin tribes and intended to accommodate hajj pilgrims without damaging the delicate ecology of the hills that surround the old city.

Fifty miles to the west, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Hajj terminal at King Abdul Aziz International Airport is a similar expression of a form of modernity that can be sensitive to local traditions and environmental conditions without reverting to kitsch. A grid of more than 200 tentlike canopies supported on a system of steel cables and columns, it is divided into small open-air villages, where travelers can rest and pray in the shade before continuing their journey.

The current plans, by contrast, can read like historical parody. Along with the giant Big Ben, there are many other overscale developments — including a proposal for the planned expansion of the Grand Mosque that dwarfs the original complex — in various mock-Islamic styles.

But the Vegas-like aura of these projects can deflect attention from the real crime: the way the developments are deforming what by all accounts was a fairly diverse and unstratified city. The Mecca Clock Tower will be surrounded by a half-dozen luxury high-rises, each designed in a similar Westminster-meets-Wall Street style and sitting on a mall that is meant to evoke traditional souks. Built at various heights at the edge of the Grand Mosque’s courtyard, and fronted by big arched portes-cocheres, they form a postmodern pastiche that means to evoke the differences of a real city but will do little to mask the project’s mind-numbing homogeneity.

Like the luxury boxes that encircle most sports stadiums, the apartments will allow the wealthy to peer directly down at the main event from the comfort of their suites without having to mix with the ordinary rabble below.

At the same time, the scale of development has pushed middle-class and poor residents further and further from the city center. “I don’t know where they go,” Mr. Angawi said. “To the outskirts of Mecca, or they come to Jidda. Mecca is being cleansed of Meccans.”

The changes are likely to have as much of an effect on the spiritual character of the Grand Mosque as on Mecca’s urban fabric. Many people told me that the intensity of the experience of standing in the mosque’s courtyard has a lot to do with its relationship to the surrounding mountains. Most of these represent sacred sites in their own right and their looming presence imbues the space with a powerful sense of intimacy.

But that experience, too, is certain to be lessened with the addition of each new tower, which blots out another part of the view. Not that there will be much to look at: many hillsides will soon be marred by new rail lines, roads and tunnels, while others are being carved up to make room for still more towers.

“The irony is that developers argue that the more towers you build the more views you have,” said Faisal al-Mubarak, an urban planner who works at the ministry of tourism and antiquities. “But only rich people go inside these towers. They have the views.”

The issue is not just run-of-the-mill class conflict. The city’s makeover also reflects a split between those who champion turbocharged capitalism and those who think it should stop at the gates of Mecca, which they see as the embodiment of an Islamic ideal of egalitarianism.

“We don’t want to bring New York to Mecca,” Mr. Angawi said. “The hajj was always supposed to be a time when everyone is the same. There are no classes, no nationalities. It is the one place where we find balance. You are supposed to leave worldly things behind you.”

The government, however, seems unmoved by such sentiments. When I mentioned Mr. Angawi’s observations at the end of a long conversation with Prince Sultan, the minister of tourism and antiquities, he simply frowned.

“When I am in Mecca and go around the kaaba, I don’t look up.”

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CODEL LOWEY WITH UAE FOREIGN MINISTER ON IRAN

Posted on 29 December 2010 by hashimilion

S E C R E T ABU DHABI 000097

NOFORN
SIPDIS
FOR NEA/ARP AND NEA/IR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/22
TAGS: PREL PGOV ETTC UNSC IR AE
SUBJECT: CODEL LOWEY WITH UAE FOREIGN MINISTER ON IRAN

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Olson, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

¶1. (S/NF) Summary. In a February 17 meeting, UAE Foreign Minister
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (AbZ) discussed Iran with a
four-member Congressional delegation led by Chairwoman Nita Lowey
of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
AbZ told the Codel the nuclear issue is only one aspect of the Iran
problem, and that Iran’s regional meddling was a serious concern.
He pledged the UAE’s backing as the US rallies support for new
sanctions but questioned whether they would achieve the desired
effect. AbZ noted the UAE’s growing concern that Gulf allies were
being shut out of Iran sanctions planning. End Summary.

IRAN’S REACTORS AND REACH

————————-

¶2. (S/NF) AbZ began by expressing pride in the US-UAE 123 agreement
and the bilateral relationship generally. According to AbZ, the
123 is a powerful example for the region and provides a transparent
alternative to Iran’s nuclear model. The UAE views Iran as a huge
problem that goes far beyond nuclear capabilities. Iranian support
for terrorism is broader than just Hamas and Hizballah. Iran has
influence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Eastern
Province of KSA, and Africa (AbZ mentioned Nigeria specifically).
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez have close, cooperative ties. If Iran acquires nuclear
weapons, the expeditionary aspect of its foreign policy will become
ever more challenging for neighboring states.

POSSIBILITY AND FUTILITY OF SANCTIONS

————————————-

¶3. (S/NF) Lowey asked what AbZ thought about tougher sanctions
against Iran and how the UAE can help with China. AbZ said the US
and its allies “have to decide how to stop Iran” and that the UAE
was surprised at the Chinese attitude. AbZ noted the Emiratis and
the Saudis have spoken to the Chinese, and the UAE expressed a
willingness to expand its energy ties (Note: AbZ seemed to be
indicating that this was intended as a carrot, but he acknowledged
the difficulty of supplanting an Iran-China trade relationship that
reached $50 billion last year. End Note.)

¶4. (S/NF) AbZ urged quick action on tough new sanctions. The UAE
is conscientious in its efforts to enforce existing UNSC sanctions
but the Iranians have been able to find other routes, bypassing UAE
ports, to import what they need. AbZ predicted that smart and
swift implementation of new sanctions could still be ineffective
but said that we must try.

GULF NEIGHBORS FEELING LEFT OUT

——————————-

¶5. (S/NF) AbZ highlighted a growing belief the UAE and the GCC are
being left out of our Iran sanctions consultations. AbZ told
Chairwoman Lowey that the P5+1 negotiations with Iran should be
expanded to included the GCC. AbZ said there is a “trust barrier”
to full GCC support for US policy, as there is a deep suspicion
that the US is proceeding without consulting Gulf allies.

¶6. (S/NF) AbZ raised (as he likes to do regularly) the 2005 EU
package offer to Iran that was briefed to the UAE by the Iranians,
not the US or another ally. Things have improved since then, but
“we still need some serious trust building between the US, the EU,
and the GCC” on this issue. The DCM reminded AbZ (and the Codel)
that there are extensive and privileged communications between the
UAE and the USG on policy towards Iran and on sanctions planning.
AbZ acknowledged there was trust from the UAE, but the rest of the
GCC had continuing concerns. “Your problem today is to fix your
relations with the GCC, quickly. A few countries in the region are
already dealing with Iran as if they had the bomb.”

¶7. (S/NF) AbZ said GCC states are left wondering what will happen
to them in any deal the US and Iran reach through back channel
conversations. He compared the current multilateral conversations
over Iran’s nuclear program with negotiations over North Korea’s
nuclear program, asking why North Korea’s neighbors are part of the
Six Party negotiations, but the GCC is not equally involved in
similar conversations about and with Iran.

“WHAT IF?” SCENARIOS

——————–

¶8. (S/NF) In response to questions from members of Congress, AbZ
said that if Iran goes nuclear others in the region will move
forward on the same track and the nuclear nonproliferation treaty
will completely break down. He said a crisis or confrontation in
the region would create oil supply problems worldwide. 14 million
barrels a day pass through the Strait of Hormuz. That said, he
noted that the US and UAE militaries have plans to keep Hormuz
clear.

¶9. (S) AbZ concluded the meeting with a soliloquy on the importance
of a successful peace process between Israel and its neighbors as
perhaps the most effective way of reducing Iran’s regional
influence.

¶10. (SBU) Members of Congress in attendance: Congresswoman Nita
Lowey, Congressman Tom Cole, Congresswoman Barbara Lee,
Congresswoman Donna Edwards.
OLSON

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UAE – SCENESETTER FOR VISIT OF CJCS

Posted on 29 December 2010 by hashimilion

S E C R E T ABU DHABI 000069

NOFORN
SIPDIS
FROM AMBASSADOR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/09
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS AE
SUBJECT: UAE – SCENESETTER FOR VISIT OF CJCS

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Olson, Ambasador; REASON: 1.4(A), (B), (C),
(D)

¶1. (SBU) Admiral Mullen: we warmly welcome your visit to Abu
Dhabi, and have requested an appointment with Abu Dhabi Crown
Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Shaykh
Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MbZ), whom you last met on 9
September 2009 in Washington. We have also requested a meeting
with your counterpart, Lieutenant General Hamad al-Thani
al-Romaithi, Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, whom you last
met on 8 October 2009 in Washington.

——————————————— —–

The Relationship

——————————————— —–

¶2. (S/NF) The UAE is one of our closest partners in the Middle
East and one of our most useful friends worldwide.

— Al-Dhafra Air Force Base is the high altitude ISR hub for the
AOR, and supports 50 percent of aerial refueling in the AOR.

— Ports in Dubai and Fujairah are the logistics backbone for the
U.S. Fifth. Jebel Ali (Dubai) is the most frequented USN liberty
port after Norfolk.

— Minhad Air Base is a critical hub for Coalition/ISAF partners in
Afghanistan, including the Australians, Dutch, Canadians, Brits and
Kiwis.

— The UAE is a cash customer with FMS sales in excess of $11
billion. Commercial sales have an equivalent value. An additional
$12 billion of FMS cases are in development with approximately the
same volume of commercial sales in the works.

— The UAE recently purchased nine Patriot batteries, and expects
to move forward on the purchase of THAAD as the first non US
customer.

— The UAE currently commands CJTF-152 (Arabian Gulf) and maintains
an active exercise schedule with U.S. (Red Flag) and other
multi-lateral partners.

— The UAE recently hosted an AFCENT survey team to consider U.S.
access to Liwa (Safran) Air Base in support of contingency
operations.

— Additionally, the UAE is considering hosting the Regional
Integrated Air and Missile Defense Center of Excellence.

——————————————— —–

Iran – the Primordial Concern

——————————————— —–

¶3. (S) The UAE leadership sees Iran as its primary external
threat, and one that is existential in nature. Like much of the
international community, the UAE finds the idea of an Iran with
nuclear weapons unacceptable and thinks this eventuality would lead
to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. At least as worrying to
MbZ are Iran’s aspirations for regional hegemony by support for
terrorist proxies (Hizballah, HAMAS, possibly underground
organizations in the Arab Gulf countries). MbZ is skeptical that
Iran can be convinced to end its nuclear weapons program, and is
not convinced that the international community will adopt tough
sanctions. In other words, he sees the logic of war dominating the
region, and this thinking explains his near obsessive efforts to
build up the UAE’s armed forces.

¶4. (S/NF) MbZ’s main message to us during his September visit was
that we needed to be better coordinated for Iran contingencies.
High level engagement by CENTCOM planners have helped to address
this concern, but he believes we have made less progress in
addressing what he sees as the slow pace of deliveries of US

security assistance and he is still worried that he does not have
enough equipment in place to defend his people when war with Iran
breaks out. (And for MbZ it is a matter of when, not if.) We have
repeatedly presented to his staff the various explanations for what
he perceives as delays, but he remains unconvinced that we are
addressing his concerns as a matter of priority.

——————————————— —–

Afghanistan – Pakistan: A Solid Partner

——————————————— —–

¶5. (S) Afghanistan: UAE SOF has been quietly deployed as part of
OEF since 2003, and the UAE surged its contribution in 2009 adding
a combined arms task force. The UAE’s UAV capability has been a
much appreciated force multiplier. On the economic development
side, the UAE has pledged about $300 M in assistance, and quietly
supported the Afghan Reintegration Fund at the recent London
Conference. You should thank MbZ for his leadership in being the
first Arab country to send troops to Afghanistan.

¶6. (C) Pakistan: the UAE has taken a leading role in the Friends
of Pakistan initiative and has provided about $800 M in assistance
in recent years. The Al Nahyan family had a long-standing
relationship with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and this
has transitioned to support for her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, but
the UAE stays in touch with all elements on the Pakistani scene,
including Musharraf. MbZ will be very interested in your dialogue
with General Kayani.

¶7. (S/NF) Threat finance: we have a cooperative relationship with
the UAE at the Federal level on addressing Taliban financing. As
our information has begun to flow, we have seen increasing activity
and interest on the part of UAE authorities. That said, the
subject is delicate and operational aspects are best handled
through our well established Treasury/Intelligence channel.

——————————————— —–

Yemen: Increasing Concern

——————————————— —–

¶8. (S/NF) MbZ shares our concern about Yemen, and if anything, is
more alarmed about the possibility for destabilization of Saudi
Arabia. He is convinced that the Iranians are involved in Yemen,
and supporting the Houthi rebels. When we tell him that we have no
evidence of Iranian support, he is somewhat incredulous, suggesting
that our focus on Al Qaeda has caused us to lose sight of the
bigger picture of Iranian adventurism. You should encourage him to
provide any specific information on Iranian activities to us
through intelligence channels.

——————————————— —–

Iraq: the Bellwether for Iran

——————————————— —–

¶9. (S) Iraq: the UAE was the first GCC Country to cancel Saddam
era debt and re-establish an embassy, and has generally followed a
policy of constructive engagement with the Maliki Government. But
MbZ runs hot and cold on Iraq. Sometimes he chooses to emphasize
his supportive position; at other times he suggests that Iran has
been the big winner in Iraq, and that Southern Iraq will be one of
the major flashpoints in the upcoming confrontation with Iran.
Anything you can say to reassure him about the US commitment to

Iraqi stability will be helpful.
OLSON

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