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Libya: SAS Ready to Seize Gaddafi's Mustard Gas - Robert Winnett and Holly Watt (Telegraph-UK)
British special forces are poised to seize caches of mustard gas and other potential chemical weapons being stored by Col. Gaddafi's regime in the Libyan desert.
American sources have disclosed that the SAS is likely to be called upon to secure up to 10 tons of mustard gas and sarin that is believed to be stockpiled at three separate locations.
Special forces are thought to have been in Libya for about 10 days and have already played a leading role in rescuing hundreds of oil workers.
See also In U.S.-Libya Nuclear Deal, a Gaddafi Threat Faded Away - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
In late 2009, the Obama administration leaned on Gaddafi to allow the removal from Libya of the remnants of the country's nuclear weapons program: casks of highly enriched uranium.
In 2004, Libya turned over more than 4,000 centrifuges for producing enriched uranium, as well as blueprints for how to build a nuclear bomb.
Gaddafi gave up thousands of shells filled with chemical weapons as part of the deal.
Americans Maintain Broad Support for Israel - Lydia Saad (Gallup Poll)
Americans' views toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict held fairly steady over the past year, with a near record-high 63% continuing to say their sympathies lie more with the Israelis.
17% sympathize more with the Palestinians.
68% say they have a favorable opinion of Israel, while 19% have a favorable opinion of the Palestinian Authority.
Muslim Brotherhood Sees Opportunity in Jordan - Heather Murdock (Washington Times)
With Friday anti-government rallies in Amman attracting more protesters each week, the Muslim Brotherhood has positioned itself to become a leading player among Jordanian lawmakers if democratic reforms are enacted.
The Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, is Jordan's only established opposition party, and analysts estimate that it could win up to 25% of parliamentary seats if electoral reforms are carried out.
IAF Deputy Secretary-General Nimer al-Assaf says, "We do not agree to the peace treaty with Israel." He said the future of the peace agreement should be decided by a popular referendum.
Will Palestinians Revolt Against Their Two Governments? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson Institute-New York)
The power struggle between Hamas and Fatah is not one between good guys and bad guys: It is a power struggle between bad guys and bad guys.
Hamas is bad; but who said that Fatah is any better? Hamas is in power mainly thanks to Fatah's corruption and bad governance.
Almost every day, Palestinians are arrested by Hamas or Fatah and held without trial.
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- Obama to Jewish Leaders: "Search Your Souls" on Israel's Seriousness for Making Peace - Ben Harris
In an hour-long meeting Tuesday with about 50 representatives from the Jewish community's chief foreign policy umbrella group, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, President Obama reportedly urged Jewish leaders to "search your souls" over Israel's seriousness about making peace.
While top leaders welcomed the meeting and noted the president's affirmation of his "deep commitment to Israel's security," several participants told JTA that the president also implied that Israel bears primary responsibility for advancing the peace process. Obama also reportedly said that the Arab sections of Jerusalem would not remain in Israeli hands as part of any peace deal. (JTA)
See also At Jewish Leaders' Meeting, Concern on Israel - Ben Smith
A person briefed on the meeting said it was cordial but didn't offer any movement in some leaders' unease over American frustration with Israel's stand on settlement construction. Another source in the room said Obama made the case to the group that the current turmoil in the region is the beginning of a transformation that, in the medium, 10-year term, seeks peace. Obama also got a lot of thanks for last week's veto at the UN.
See also Supplemental Statement on Meeting with President Obama
Contrary to certain public reports, the meeting was conducted in an atmosphere of warmth, friendship and openness and there was no expression of hostility toward Israel or its government. The President acknowledged the wide range of opinion within the American Jewish community and the possibility that not all of those present would agree with each of his tactical decisions. (Conference of Presidents, 2March2011)
- Options for Ousting Gaddafi Look Limited
The Obama administration is tempering its tough talk on Libya with a dose of reality, explaining that even a no-fly zone over the country would require a military attack on Moammar Gaddafi's regime. Administration efforts to rein in "loose talk" about military options to force Gaddafi from power were an acknowledgment that the options for international action to stem the violence appeared highly limited.
"A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a congressional panel Wednesday. The unspoken subtext was that with U.S. forces already deeply committed in Afghanistan, still winding down military operations in Iraq, and on the watch for surprises in Iran and elsewhere in the region, the risks associated with military action in Libya might be unacceptable.
See also Photo Gallery: Upheaval in Libya (Atlantic Monthly)
- Two U.S. Airmen Killed in Germany by Muslim Gunman - Greg Jaffe and Julie Tate
A gunman opened fire on a bus full of U.S. Air Force personnel outside Frankfurt International Airport on Wednesday, killing two airmen and wounding two others. The gunman, Arif Uka, 21, a Kosovar Albanian and a devout Muslim who worked at the airport, shouted "Allahu akbar," or "God is great" in Arabic, before firing at the bus and continued to scream the phrase as he was detained, witnesses reported.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- A Trophy to Be Proud Of - Editorial
On Tuesday near the security fence in southern Gaza, the miniature Trophy system, fixed onto all IDF tanks in the Gaza sector, recognized that a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) had been launched at one of the tanks. Trophy intercepted the RPG with a neutralizer and blew up the incoming projectile in mid-air. This was the first time that anti-tank fire had been successfully intercepted under real combat zone conditions, and the implications cannot be overestimated.
The proven effectiveness of the Israeli breakthrough is a game-changer. In the Second Lebanon War in 2006, dozens of Israeli tanks were struck and 19 crewmen were killed by Hizbullah anti-tank rockets. The newest Israeli contribution to the modern battlefield will eventually not only save more Israeli lives, but the lives of many Americans too. (Jerusalem Post)
- Sweden: We Won't Unilaterally Recognize Palestinian State - Herb Keinon
Sweden is not considering unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. Bildt's comments are significant because Sweden is widely considered in Jerusalem as being among the most pro-Palestinian states in the EU.
Bildt said the "most fundamental definition of a state" is that it controls its own territory, and that the Palestinians won't control their own territory unless there is an agreement with Israel. Noting that the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean "is not that big," Bildt said the reality is that a Palestinian state will have "to be in close cooperation with Israel." (Jerusalem Post)
- The Palestinian Authority's Political Offensive Against the State of Israel
The State of Israel has continued its engagement in improving and strengthening the Palestinian economy and continues its concession-making policy to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in a wide range of fields (including civil, infrastructural, economic, commercial, political and security-related matters). It has reduced the number of security roadblocks from 44 to 16.
Yet the PA continues to press for Israel's condemnation in international forums. It continues to foster a culture of glorifying terrorists who are responsible for the murders of countless innocent Israeli civilians.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- How the Arabs Turned Shame into Liberty - Fouad Ajami
Over the decades, Arabs took the dictators' bait, chanted their names and believed their promises. They averted their gazes from the great crimes. Out of malice or bigotry, that old "Arab street" had nothing to say about the terror inflicted on Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, for Saddam Hussein was beloved by the crowds, a pan-Arab hero, an enforcer of Sunni interests. Nor did many Arabs take notice in 1978 when Imam Musa al-Sadr, the leader of the Shiites of Lebanon, disappeared while on a visit to Libya.
In the 1950s and 1960s, rulers rose and fell with regularity. Monarchs were overthrown with relative ease as new men, from more humble social classes, rose to power through the military and through radical political parties.
By the 1980s, a new political creature had taken hold: repressive "national security states" with awesome means of control and terror. The new men were pitiless, they killed with abandon; a world of cruelty had settled upon the Arabs. Fear was now the glue of politics. Today's rebellions are animated, above all, by a desire to be cleansed of the stain and the guilt of having given in to the despots for so long. The writer is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
(New York Times)
- The Indefensible Case for Withdrawal - Ari Harow
Despite the Arab street's clear demands for regime change, there are still those who insist that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank is the recipe for regional stability. In reality, moves to delegitimize our presence in Judea and Samaria, and ultimately to hasten our withdrawal to the 1967 armistice lines, would prove catastrophe for democratic hopes in the region. If there is to be any progress, it must be grounded in the concept of defensible borders.
A withdrawal to the indefensible 1967 armistice lines is a risk we simply can't afford to take, and which the likes of Hamas are all too eager to exploit. A pullout from the West Bank would surely only encourage the Iranian-inspired fundamentalists who hope to add our eastern flank to the trophies of Gaza and Lebanon. Regionally, other extremist forces such as the Muslim Brotherhood would gain inspiration from a perceived Israeli capitulation, fuelling their own appetite for power in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other countries. A pullback to the 1967 lines would leave the region's only genuine democracy exposed at a time of immense uncertainty.
In doing so, reconciliation and genuine peace would become even more unlikely.
Any future Israeli-Palestinian talks must therefore be predicated on the necessity of defensible borders. The writer served as bureau chief to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel a Model for Arab Success - Lee Smith (Tablet)
- In order to survive, Arab and Muslim societies are going to have to forget about the notion of an Islamic alternative to modernity and will instead have to adopt what they have typically described as Western values but are in reality the universal values of political modernity.
- The Arab model for success is not Iran, or Turkey, but Israel, the one country in the region that lives those values. Last year Israel ranked 17th out of 58 of the world's most economically developed nations, while the country's economy was rated the most durable in the face of crises and rated first in investments in research and development centers.
- The college graduates who took to the streets in Cairo to protest their lack of opportunity are simply not prepared to compete with the rest of the world.
The only scenario is for them to become more like Israel.
- The longer the Arabs continue to make Israel the focus of rejectionism and hatred, the more impossible it will become for them to arrest the death-spiral of their societies and economies. The inability of Western observers who claim to care about the fate of these societies and their people to make this point clearly and repeatedly has only damaged the cause of Arab social and political development.
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