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Yemini President Flees to Saudi Arabia - Susanne Koelbl (Der Spiegel-Germany)
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh landed in Saudi Arabia with two wives, an entourage of 59 people, including three cabinet ministers - and a 3 inch piece of shrapnel in his chest.
Saleh, 69, is the third autocrat to be swept out of office by the tide of Arab unrest in the region, and the second to find refuge in Saudi Arabia.
By sending troops to Bahrain, billions to Egypt, goodwill to Damascus and oil to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, which is expected to earn $300 billion in oil revenues this year alone, is leaving no doubt as to what it intends to do with its power and money in the region.
There is no sign in Saudi Arabia of a public political discourse that could be compared with the debates with which the unrest began in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria.
But like everywhere else in the Arab world, the Internet and television are used intensively in Saudi Arabia. The divorce rate is 40% today, families are shrinking, and 26% of men are unemployed.
UN Says Syrians Let Palestinians Cross Ceasefire Line (AFP)
Syrian forces stood by as Palestinian demonstrators crossed the Golan Heights ceasefire line, according to a UN report obtained by AFP on Tuesday.
The report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also said protests against Assad had spread to the border, and UN peacekeepers had been denied access to several districts.
Egypt Opposes U.S.' Democracy Funding - Yaroslav Trofimov (Wall Street Journal)
A U.S. plan to fund the democratic transition in Egypt has led to a confrontation with the country's new rulers, who are suspicious of American aims and what they see as political interference.
Senior Egyptian officials have warned NGOs that taking U.S. funding would damage the country's security. The Egyptian government has also complained directly to the U.S.
Such strong reaction has led U.S. officials to express concern that the Mubarak regime's resistance to democratic freedoms has yet to be shaken off by the new military-controlled government.
Gulf Monarchies Confront the "Arab Spring" - Joshua Teitelbaum (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
For the monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the "Arab Spring" offers little promise.
The threat emanating from Iran as well as the lack of confidence in U.S. support gives the Gulf states much to fear and has imbued the GCC with newfound unity and purpose.
Recent bids by Morocco and Jordan for membership in what has been, until now, a Persian Gulf organization signifies that the conservative monarchies of the Middle East are determined to protect the status quo in the face of shifting alliances brought about by regional developments.
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- Syrian Unrest Stirs New Fear of Deeper Sectarian Divide - Anthony Shadid
The Syrian government's retaking of Jisr al-Shoughour
is sharpening sectarian tensions between the Sunni Muslim majority and the minority Alawite sect to which the family of President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
Sunni residents of the town accused Alawite neighbors of taking part in the crackdown, some coming from a town less than a mile away.
"The sectarian aspect, the divisions and the animosity are getting worse," said an Obama administration official in Washington. "We see the elements of an armed opposition across Syria," the American official said. "In the northwest, we see it as having taken over. There are a lot of them."
"We don't really know who these armed groups are," the official added, but noted that they are "religiously based, absolutely."
After recent events, Turkish and American officials say they believe that some of the business elite have begun to turn against the state.
(New York Times)
See also Arab League Condemns Syria
The Arab League condemned Syria's violence for the first time, as Syrian tanks ringed three more cities in a widened crackdown against pro-democracy protesters.
Dozens of tanks were positioned Wednesday to move into the northeastern city of Deir al-Zour, while about two dozen tanks and 15 to 20 armored personnel carriers surrounded Abu Kamal, a city straddling the border with Iraq. (UPI)
- EU: Palestinian State Vote Could Be "Dangerous"
A unilateral Palestinian move toward statehood could be "dangerous," President of the EU Parliament Jerzy Buzek
said Tuesday during a visit to the West Bank. Buzek said he "understood" the Palestinian position but added it could complicate peace efforts.
Achieving peace through negotiations would be "excellent," he said, "but unilateral declaration could be sometimes even dangerous." (AP-Atlanta Journal Constitution)
See also Eastern Europe New Battleground in Mideast Rift - Vanessa Gera
As the Palestinians plan to bring a resolution on Palestinian statehood to the UN in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans visits soon to Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, while envoys are also working hard in the Czech Republic and Slovakia to make their case for opposing the Palestinian initiative.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has recently been to Hungary and Bulgaria, while one of his top advisers, Nabil Shaath, has visits planned to Armenia, Georgia and Moldova.
Some countries like Hungary and Slovakia remain undecided, a reflection of complex historical ties they have to the Israelis and Palestinians. So the race is on for their support. None of the eastern European countries have yet said how they will vote.
Yet it's clear that some look askance at the Palestinian initiative, fearing it could derail the peace process.
See also Germany Warns Against Unilateral Mideast Moves (AFP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Israel Aims to Offset PA's UN Bid - Attila Somfalvi
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek in Jerusalem Tuesday he aims to push a diplomatic initiative that would see 30 UN-member nations oppose the unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in September. "It will not create an opposing majority, but it will balance out the bid's potential support," he said.
"Six Israeli prime ministers were willing to accept the two-state solution, but could not reach a peace agreement because the Palestinians would not say six simple words - 'I will accept the Jewish state,'" he added.
- Syrian Opposition: Hizbullah, Iran Aiding Assad - Roee Nahmias
The Syrian opposition on Tuesday accused Iran and Hizbullah of assisting President Bashar Assad in the brutal repressing of pro-democracy protesters, in a series of videos uploaded to YouTube. In one of the videos, a Hizbullah operative caught in Syria says that he was one of many "brought to Syria by Hizbullah in a 45-bus convoy....They pay, they pay $1,000, even $5,000." Other videos depict Iranian nationals who tell a similar story. Some also said that Iran's Basij paramilitary force now had a presence in Syria, for the purpose of quelling riots. (Ynet News)
See also Clinton Accuses Iran of Role in Syrian Crackdown (AP)
- Israeli-American "Spy" Paranoia in Egypt - Dan Murphy
On Monday, Egypt's military government said it arrested an Israeli spy, 26-year-old Ilan Grapel, a New Yorker who fought for Israel in the 2006 war with Lebanon. Grapel openly kept a Facebook page where he posted pictures of himself posing in front of the pyramids and checking out the protests at Tahrir Square. Not very spy-like.
In fact, the chances that Grapel is guilty of any of the things that Egypt's military rulers have accused him of are very, very slim. Instead, what appears to be going on here is the rerun of one of the oldest ploys in the Middle Eastern autocrat's book: Discrediting and distracting with accusations of collaboration with Israel.
Anti-Israeli sentiment is strong across Egypt. Stirring up xenophobic passions is a lot easier than lucidly explaining a program to lift the country out of poverty, and the anti-Israeli cudgel is likely to be used by Islamists and Egypt's current military rulers alike. (Christian Science Monitor)
See also Egypt Spy Allegations a Throwback to Another Time - Hamza Hendawi
Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, recalled years of sensational reports in Cairo's press about Israel's sending women to seduce Egyptian men, spreading the HIV virus, and poisoning farm produce.
"As an ambassador in Cairo, we had many, many cases in which we were notified that an Israeli had been arrested on allegations of espionage, drug running, AIDS dissemination, and a few days later they would be released." (AP)
- How to Increase U.S.-Israel Defense Cooperation - Josh Rogin
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is proposing a path forward for increased U.S.-Israel defense cooperation including an increased role for the Israeli Navy in global anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean in cooperation with India. He wants to vastly expand cooperation on cyber security, beyond the suspected cooperation on the Stuxnet worm that has delayed Iran's uranium enrichment program. He is also calling on the Joint Chiefs to review the possibility of adapting Israel's "Iron Dome" short-range missile defense system for use by the U.S. and NATO.
"We are stretched quite thin in the Indian Ocean and to have Israeli support will be critical in managing and reducing the pirate threat," he said Tuesday in an interview.
Kirk maintains that the U.S. should reaffirm President George W. Bush's 2004 letter on borders, which somewhat contradicts Obama's May 17 statement that borders should be based on 1967 lines with agreed swaps. Obama's new language for the first time made it official U.S. policy what had long been the Palestinian goal of using the 1967 lines as a basis for new borders.
He states that U.S. funding should not go to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, nor should the U.S. give aid to the PA if it seeks a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN in September or fails to curb anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian schools.
He also wants UNRWA to start transferring its management of Palestinian health and education services over to the Palestinian government, and for the State Department to designate the Turkish aid organization IHH, which organized the flotilla of ships that tried to breach Israel's Gaza blockade in May 2010, as a terrorist organization.
- Latin America: Iran's Springboard to America's Backyard - Michael Segall
Iran has been working resolutely to establish a foothold in the Latin American countries - in the U.S.' backyard - with the help of the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia.
Iran is exploiting its growing ties with Latin American countries for subversive and propaganda activity, terror and smuggling, and the development of long-range military capabilities. There have been reports that Iran is seeking to establish a missile base in Venezuela, at the doorstep of the "great Satan."
Iran is also engaged in extensive social, cultural, and religious activity aimed at exporting the Islamic Revolution and, primarily, at disseminating Shiite Islam.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall is an expert on strategic issues, with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
How the IDF Has Helped Britain - Col. Richard Kemp (Israel Defense Forces)
Col. Richard Kemp was asked in Tel Aviv on June 12 what prompted his extraordinary showing of support for the Jewish state. He responded: "Aside from my experience actually working with the IDF (which alone would have been enough for me to testify as to its character) there are two incidents in particular that stand out."
- "The first happened when I was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan. Suddenly, we were confronted with an enemy whose many tactics included suicide bombings. We had never before had to confront suicide bombings, and we had no strategy with which to combat them."
- "I telephoned an Israeli contact of mine, who arranged for a Brigadier General in the IDF to meet with me in London....For four hours, we sat in a lobby in a London hotel. He spoke; I took notes. And it was from that meeting that the entire counter-suicide-bombing strategy used by the British army was devised."
- "The second incident happened a couple of years later, after the terrorist attacks in London on July the 7th, 2005. We in the UK were left deeply shaken by the attacks, and I remember that the first ones to call to offer help - for some time, in fact, they were the only ones to call - was the IDF. It was then that we knew who our real friends are."
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