The Middle East in Space

A space conference taking place this week in the United Arab Emirates has produced a number of somewhat intriguing stories, some indicating the growing the new colonial movement in space, and some marking the significant changes produced by the Abraham Accords, peace treaties negotiated and signed during the Trump administration between Israel and a number of Arab nations.

For example, Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, was invited to the conference to give a keynote speech, and he did so as part of a tour of several Arab countries, all of whom were Israel’s sworn enemies prior to the Abraham Accords.

In his address, Herzog touted Israel’s warming ties with Bahrain and the Emirates since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, and predicted a leap forward in space exploration. “I am very happy to be here and take part in this timely debate, under the auspices of my dear friend, President Mohammed bin Zayed. I have just arrived from Bahrain with my wife, Michal, where we conducted the first State Visit of an Israeli president in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and I am extremely grateful to His Majesty the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.”

It appears that, even though the Biden administration has done little to promote further Abraham Accord agreements, many powerful Arab nations of the Middle East are embracing these deals regardless, and thus the tensions in that war-torn region have been largely reduced as a result. Israel still has enemies there, but it now appears to have, at a minimum, neutral partners willing to peacefully work with it.

The conference has also produced additional space news from other Middle East countries.
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SpaceX in Starlink negotiations with the Philippines

Capitalism in space: SpaceX and a major internet company based in the Philippines have been in negotiations about offering Starlink to its citizens.

US tech billionaire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) is in talks to bring broadband satellite services to the Philippines through a partnership with fibre internet tycoon Dennis Anthony H Uy of Pampanga.

Representatives from SpaceX and Uy’s Converge ICT Solutions Inc met on multiple occasions to discuss a potential venture, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Philippine Daily Inquirer.

SpaceX apparently can’t just set up business to compete with this company, probably because it has deep ties in the government that can block it. Converge probably wants a cut, along with I suspect a number of Philippine politicians.

No deal has so far been made, but Starlink would be ideal in the more rural locations of the Philippines.

The Philippines creates its own space agency

The new colonial movement: Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, today signed a new law creating that country’s own space agency.

According to the law, the Philippine Space Policy focuses on six key development areas: national security and development, hazard management, climate studies, space research and development, space industry capacity building, and space education and awareness.

In an interview with ANC News, Marciano said that research facilities will be built in the upcoming development New Clark City in Pampanga province. Under the Philippine Space Development Fund, approximately $190 million will be dedicated to the development of PhilSA across five years.

In reading the law itself, it appears that this is mostly a governmental power play, taking over supervision of any space-related industries while justifying some pork and bureaucracy.

The Philippines wants to compete for the future resources of space, but like India, UAE, and most other third world nations they are copying the worst aspects of the model created by the U.S. in the 1960s: a government-run program that designs and controls everything. This can work for awhile, assuming your society and government is not very corrupt (which was the case initially with NASA in the U.S.). In the end however the dry rot sets in, and the whole thing becomes a fake government jobs program, accomplishing relatively little for the money spent.