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Second Suspected Syria Nuclear Site Found - Jay Solomon (Wall Street Journal)
A second suspected nuclear installation has been identified in Syria, according to commercial satellite photos published Wednesday by Washington's Institute for Science and International Security.
The photos are of one of three additional sites the IAEA believes could be connected to the Dair Alzour facility, destroyed in a 2007 Israeli military strike.
See also Satellite Image Shows Suspected Uranium Conversion Plant in Syria - David Albright and Paul Brannan (Institute for Science and International Security)
Israel: Iran Overcoming Nuclear Program Problems (AFP)
Iran is gradually overcoming problems in its nuclear program, and could still detonate a nuclear device within a year if it put its mind to it, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN in Washington.
But Barak said Iran was "several years" from having the capability of putting a nuclear weapon on a medium-range missile.
"It's clear they had certain holdups along the way and they are moving slower than expected... but the painful fact is they keep moving forward. They are overcoming gradually the difficulties they faced."
UK: Some Middle East Rulers Use Issue of Israel as a Distraction - Robert Hutton (Bloomberg)
UK Prime Minister David Cameron told students in Qatar that some Middle Eastern rulers were using the Israel-Palestine conflict as a distraction from their own oppressive regimes.
Will Arab Revolt Spread to Palestinians? - Jon Donnison (BBC News)
As Arab uprisings spread across the Middle East, Palestinian leaders face their own crisis of legitimacy.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas' mandate expired more than two years ago, but he remains in power.
Parliamentary elections were cancelled in 2010 and are now over a year late.
The parliament in Ramallah has not passed a law for more than three years.
Palestinians remain politically and geographically split - with the Islamist Hamas in power in Gaza and Fatah running the West Bank.
"After Egypt and Tunisia, God knows who might be next," joked Mr. Abbas in a speech in Ramallah last week.
"Don't laugh. It might be me."
Some in Israel Warn Against Google Street View - Jessica Guynn (Los Angeles Times)
Government officials in Israel are worried that Google's Street View map service could endanger public figures by giving terrorists detailed information that could be used in carrying out attacks.
Street View allows users to virtually tour locations in 27 countries as Google dispatches a fleet of camera-equipped vehicles to the locations.
Israeli Cabinet members discussed the security and privacy implications of Google Street View on Monday and decided to work with Google in launching the service in the coming months.
"We already have problems with Google Earth, which exposes all kinds of facilities," said retired Lt. Col. Mordechai Kedar, a veteran of Israeli intelligence. Palestinian militants in Gaza have said they use Google Earth to identify targets for rocket attacks.
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- Gaddafi Tightens Grip on Libyan Capital as Rebels Advance - Leila Fadel and Sudarsan Raghavan
Moammar Gaddafi tightened his grip on Libya's capital, Tripoli, on Wednesday, flooding the streets with militiamen and loyalist troops, as rebels consolidated their control of key eastern cities and continued advancing west.
It appeared that Libya's powerful tribes, long a beneficiary of Gaddafi's patronage, were turning against him. "We are seeing more and more tribal defections. A lot of police and military in Tobruk, Benghazi and other eastern cities defected because their tribal leaders had ordered them," said Ronald Bruce St. John, an expert on Libya. But so far, it appears that the major tribes in and around Tripoli continue to support Gaddafi.
See also Libya: 2,000 Reported Killed in Benghazi, 1,000 in Tripoli
A French doctor working in Benghazi told Le Point magazine that over 2,000 people were killed in that city alone in the past days of fighting, AFP reported.
"From Tobruk to Darna, they carried out a real massacre....In total, I think there are more than 2,000 deaths," he said. Italian news reports have said witnesses and hospital sources in Libya are estimating there are 1,000 dead in Tripoli alone. (AP-Jerusalem Post)
See also Gaddafi Massing Forces in Tripoli as Rebellion Spreads - Kareem Fahim and David D. Kirkpatrick
Gaddafi has built up an elaborate paramilitary force. At the top of the structure is his 3,000-member revolutionary guard corps, which mainly guards him personally. Then there are the militia units controlled by his seven sons. But perhaps the most significant force is about 2,500 mercenaries from Chad, Sudan and Niger that he calls his Islamic Pan African Brigade.
(New York Times)
See also Libya's Ex-Justice Minister: Gaddafi Ordered Lockerbie Bombing
Libya's ex-justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil on Wednesday told the Swedish newspaper Expressen: "I have proof that Gaddafi gave the order about Lockerbie," referring to the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people in 1988. (AP)
See also Libya: The End of the "L'enfant Terrible"? - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
Libya has no succession procedure. The "mass-state" (Jamahiriyyah) created by Gaddafi, meant to be a state ruled by the masses, does not have a legal procedure that allows the transfer of authority in cases of constitutional crisis.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Arab Unrest Propels Iran as Saudi Influence Declines - Michael Slackman
The popular revolts shaking the Arab world have begun to shift the balance of power in the region, bolstering Iran's position while weakening its rival, Saudi Arabia.
The uprisings are driven by domestic concerns. But they have already shredded a regional paradigm in which Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, aligned with the West, supported engaging Israel and containing Israel's enemies, including Hamas and Hizbullah. Mubarak of Egypt has been forced to resign, King Abdullah of Jordan is struggling to control discontent in his kingdom and Saudi Arabia faces a rising challenge to its regional role.
"I think the Saudis are worried that they're encircled - Iraq, Syria, Lebanon; Yemen is unstable; Bahrain is very uncertain," said Alireza Nader, an expert with the RAND Corporation. "They worry that the region is ripe for Iranian exploitation. Iran has shown that it is very capable of taking advantage of regional instability."
"Iran is the big winner here," said a regional adviser to the U.S. government.
(New York Times)
- Gaza Militants Fire Rockets at Beersheba, Israel
A rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on Wednesday for the first time since 2009. Officials said one house in the city was extensively damaged when it was hit by a Grad rocket. (BBC News)
See also Israel Responds to Palestinian Rocket Fire - Yaakov Lappin
The Israel Air Force on Wednesday attacked several terrorist targets in Gaza in response to Grad rockets that hit Beersheba and the Negev. Hamas outposts, weapons arsenals and smuggling tunnels were attacked, Army Radio reported.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel to Let 300 Palestinians Return to West Bank from Libya - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday: "Because of the current violence in Libya I received a personal request from [PA] President Abbas...that Israel allow a number of Palestinians to leave Libya and to enter the West Bank...so Israel will enable 300 Palestinians to enter the West Bank" as a humanitarian gesture. He said the move was "a mark of our desire for good neighborliness and...peace." (Ha'aretz)
- Palestinians to "Boycott U.S." over Security Council Veto - Khaled Abu Toameh
Following last Friday's veto against an anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council, several Palestinian local councils in the Jerusalem area, at the request of Fatah, announced that they would boycott U.S. government officials and American journalists in protest.
Hatem Abdel Kader, a senior Fatah official and former PA minister, demanded that Obama publicly apologize to the Palestinians for the veto.
- Chilean Miners Arrive in Israel for Holy Land Pilgrimage
25 Chilean miners rescued from last year's mine collapse after 69 days trapped underground have begun a pilgrimage in Israel. The men will visit Catholic sites and several will be baptized near the Sea of Galilee. Israel's Tourism Ministry is sponsoring the eight-day trip.
- Mideast Upheaval Jolts Israel
- Steven Erlanger
Israelis worry that Arab democracy movements will ultimately be dominated by extremists, as happened in Iran after the 1979 revolution that ousted the shah. They worry about the chaotic transition between revolt and democratic stability, if it ever comes. They see Egyptís Muslim Brotherhood as pressing for more solidarity with the Palestinians and Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. And they fear that Israelís regional partners in checking Iran are under threat or falling.
Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and former aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu, said that Arab democracy could make Israel more secure.
"For years, Arab leaders who thought they had legitimacy problems because they were not elected played several chords to the populace - Arab unity, Islamic solidarity, and most important, the struggle against Israel....So if you have regimes legitimized by democratic elections and accountable governance, then they will depend less on the conflict for their own internal standing." Even so, "the transition to democracy is full of all kinds of land mines," he said, arguing that the regional destabilization had helped Iran, which Israel regards as its most important threat. (New York Times)
- Losing the Middle East - Benny Morris
When the dust settles in the Middle East in a few months, my guess is that one will see that Western - and Israeli - interests will have been substantially undermined and anti-Western - and anti-Israeli - interests substantially bolstered. In the Gulf states with large Shi'ite populations - such as in Bahrain, where the Shi'ites constitute the overwhelming majority - Iran's influence will vastly increase.
In Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Jordan, and Yemen, help to the American "War on Terror" will be considerably reduced, or will vanish altogether. Similarly, a greater frostiness will enter into attitudes across the Middle East towards Israel. In Egypt, opposition elements are already calling for revocation of the 1979 peace treaty with the Jewish state or, at the least, "reconsidering it" and a permanent end to the multi-billion dollar gas exports to Israel. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the Egyptians will attempt to control the flow of arms and ammunition to Gaza as they did during the Mubarak years.
- Egyptian Sheikh Qaradawi Seeks Total War - Jeffrey Goldberg
Mark Gardner and Dave Rich analyzed leading Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi's 2003 book, Fatwas on Palestine, and concluded that this putatively moderate Islamic cleric argues clearly and consistently that hatred of Israel and Jews is Islamically sanctioned, and that the destruction of Israel is mandated by God. Qaradawi writes: It is "obligatory upon every Muslim wherever he is to defend Jerusalem,
and al-Aqsa Mosque. This is an obligation upon all Muslims to participate
in defending Jerusalem with their souls, money, and all that they possess." Qaradawi warns Muslims not to be friends with Jews, because such friendship might diminish their desire to wage jihad against Israel.
Obama Was Right to Veto the Security Council Resolution - Alan M. Dershowitz (Hudson Institute-New York)
- The Obama administration was right to cast its vote against the Security Council Resolution condemning the continuation of "all" settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as "illegal" and a "major obstacle" to "peace on the basis of the two-state solution."
- The vetoed resolution would include the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the Western Wall as "occupied Palestinian territory," even though Jordan originally captured and desecrated these Jewish holy places illegally when it attacked the new Jewish state in 1948. Israel lawfully recaptured these areas in a defensive war started by Jordan in 1967. They are not occupied territory and Israel is entitled to build as much as it wants to there.
- The resolution would also include heavily populated Jewish areas - such as Maale Adumim and Gilo - that the Palestinian Authority had previously agreed, in principle, would remain part of Israel in any negotiated borders of a two-state solution.
- Finally, it would omit activities by the Palestinians - ranging from firing rockets at civilians, inciting violence against Jews, refusal to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, refusing to sit down and negotiate, and rejecting generous offers made by Israel in 2000, 2001 and 2008 - that have been the real "obstacles" to "peace on the basis of the two-state solution."
- Even more important, passage of such a biased resolution would have discouraged the Palestinian Authority from coming to the negotiating table and trying to resolve their differences with Israel by compromise. Why compromise if the UN and the U.S. are prepared to give them what they want without any negotiation?
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