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Iran to Try 26 U.S. Officials in Absentia (Fars-Iran)
Iran announced on Wednesday that it plans to try 26 U.S. officials in absentia and file lawsuits against them at international bodies.
The officials include former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Gen. David Petraeus, and former Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart A. Levey.
See complete list of 26 U.S. officials named by Iran.
Egyptian Presidential Candidate: Israel Is an Enemy; We Want Normal Relations with the Resistance and Iran (MEMRI)
Egyptian presidential candidate Muhammad Salim Al-Awa said in a public address:
"Israel is an enemy, with which we have a truce - it is not a friend, it is not an ally, and we do not have a peace treaty with it. This is a truce, and it is as temporary as all truces. Throughout history, there hasn't been a single treaty that was not torn up by one of the parties to it. Oh Egyptians, make sure that the Zionists do not tear up this treaty before you do."
"We want to have normal relations with all the forces of the resistance - Hizbullah, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the PFLP. We are the home from which the resistance must set out....We are the source that supplies the resistance with money, men, and weapons."
French Boat to Gaza Blocked in Crete - Louisa Gouliamaki (AFP)
A French yacht carrying 12 pro-Palestinian activists hoping to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza was on Thursday blocked in Crete by the Greek coast guard when it stopped to refuel.
Unsealed Indictment Reveals Terror Plot Against Israel (AP-Washington Post)
Faouzi Ayoub, 44, is accused of using a fake passport in an attempt to get into Israel and conduct a bombing on behalf of the Islamic militant group Hizbullah, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court in Detroit.
Ayoub is on the FBI's most wanted list of terror suspects.
U.S.: Israel Included in Terror Watch List by Mistake - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)
Israeli diplomats stationed in the U.S. were surprised to discover that Israel was one of 36 countries included in a Homeland Security terror watch list issued on May 10.
A U.S. spokesman said Israel's appearance on the list was a mistake.
Hamas Arrests Male Hairdresser for Gaza Woman's Haircut - Jon Donnison (BBC News)
The Hamas government in Gaza has begun enforcing a law banning men from cutting women's hair. This week at least one male hairdresser in Gaza was arrested.
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- Syrian Troops Kill 22 in Hama Crackdown - Elvis Barukcic
"At least 22 people were killed in Hama and more than 80 wounded, some of them seriously," in a Syrian army crackdown, Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights said Wednesday.
"The wounded are being treated in two hospitals in Hama," he said, adding that troops had entered the Al-Hurani hospital.
"A large number of Hama residents have fled either to the nearby town of Al-Salamiya or towards Damascus," Qurabi said. (AFP)
- Iran's Nuclear Steps Deepen Western Suspicions - Fredrik Dahl
Expanding uranium enrichment, a new atomic energy chief said to have military expertise, missile tests - Western analysts see fresh signs that Iran may be seeking to develop the means to build nuclear warheads. "Iran has been working hard in several ways to advance a nuclear weapons capability," said proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
"It needs fissile material, weaponization expertise and a delivery vehicle. On each of these, it has been making progress."
Britain last week said Iran had carried out covert tests of a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead. During a military exercise last week, Iran test-fired 14 missiles on one day alone, including some it says are capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. (Reuters)
See also IAEA Concerned over Iran Plans to Triple Uranium Production - Jack Kimball
Yukiya Amano, director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Wednesday that he was "quite concerned" over plans by Tehran to triple uranium production capacity.
- U.S.: Mideast Talks the Way Forward, Not UN Votes - Bradley Klapper
The Obama administration on Wednesday repeated its opposition to any unilateral attempt to secure UN recognition for an independent Palestine. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was trying to prod the Israelis and Palestinians back into direct negotiations after a multi-month impasse.
"Our goal is to get these parties back to the table, and our position on the idea of a UN action in September remains that it's not a good idea, that it's not helpful."
Michael Oren, Israel's U.S. ambassador, said Wednesday that his country was working with the U.S. on a document outlining agreed parameters for talks to move forward.
- California Tightens Screw on Trade with Iran - Matthew Garrahan
A new California law prohibits companies with Iran investments from bidding for state contracts. By insisting companies sever ties with Iran before they bid for lucrative state and city contracts, California has "changed the game" on Iran divestment, according to Mark Wallace, president of United Against Nuclear Iran. California would be the world's eighth largest economy if it were a separate country.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Romania Won't Support PA Statehood Bid at UN - Herb Keinon
Romania will not support a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in September, senior government officials said Wednesday, following talks Prime Minister Netanyahu held in Bucharest.
"The Palestinians are not grasping the price that they will pay if they unilaterally declare a state with the support of the UN," Netanyahu told Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, alluding to the possibility that the Palestinians may lose aid from some countries in the West as a result of the move. (Jerusalem Post)
See also For Israel, a Balkan Bloom - Dan Williams
During a visit to Bucharest on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed to a growing group of central and east European countries close to the U.S. that were supporting the Israelis in UN and EU forums. "While there is all this talk of Israel being isolated, these countries are deeply eager to develop ties. Their opinion of us is very favorable. They are taking a hard look at their interests and understand that Israel can help advance them."
Netanyahu said Balkan states saw in Israel's tensions with Arab neighbors and Iran a reflection of their own past struggles against Soviet supremacy.
"They have lived under tyranny, so they are much more skeptical; they are much more respectful of a democracy arrayed against totalitarian forces," he said. (Reuters)
- UN Report: Gaza Blockade Legal, Israel Doesn't Owe Turkey Apology for Marmara - Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis
The UN report on last year's Gaza flotilla clash found that Israel's blockade of Gaza is legal and that Jerusalem owes no apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara raid, diplomatic sources said. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem who saw the draft report said it sharply criticizes Turkey for not doing enough to prevent the flotilla from setting sail. However, the report says Israeli commandos used excessive force, though Israel had insisted the soldiers had been attacked and were acting in self-defense.
- Bomb Explodes Near IDF Force on Gaza Border - Hanan Greenberg
An IDF soldier sustained injuries Thursday after a roadside bomb exploded near an IDF tank operating near the security fence in Gaza.
- The Hard Man of Damascus - Gary Gambill
With Syrian troops encircling the city of Hama, the Obama administration and its European counterparts continue to hold out hope that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can be coaxed into accepting a peaceful transition to democracy. Unfortunately, there are no plausible circumstances under which a democratic transition would constitute a rational choice for the embattled dictator, and it appears exceedingly unlikely that the Syrian people will peacefully accept anything less.
The powerful stigma associated with Alawite hegemony over a majority Sunni population both necessitates and enables the current Syrian police state. A freely elected Syrian government would surely be dominated by Sunnis and therefore strongly disposed to mete out harsh justice for the preceding decades of brutal tyranny.
The select group of dissidents allowed to attend a "national dialogue" conference in Damascus last week conspicuously excluded figures with significant influence over the protesters. The Syrian president isn't trying to negotiate with his opponents - he's trying to divide and defeat them.
- All Hail the Government of Greece - Editorial
All hail the government of Greece for single-handedly mothballing the flotilla that was setting sail to challenge Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.
They deserve the world's thanks. The would-be blockade runners should be happy that Greece spared them from being used as pawns - and placed in harm's way - by Hamas, the terrorist gang that has its thumb on Gaza.
(New York Daily News)
See also Alliance Shifts Behind Greece Gaza Stand - Elena Becatoros
Ties between Israel and Greece have blossomed as Israel's relations with Turkey have cooled.
"The main cause for the change in Greek strategy lies in the worsening of relations between Turkey and Israel," said Giorgos Tzogopoulos, research fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.
- Free Gaza - from Hamas - George Jonas
The Free Gaza Movement is misnamed, unless it wants to free Gaza from Hamas. The strip's inhabitants need to be liberated only from corrupt and dysfunctional fanatics who mask their own inability to govern with stubborn efforts to wipe Israel off the map, or goad it into acts of self-defense that make its bad press worse and increase its isolation.
Israel has limited options. Not protecting its population from periodic attacks launched from adjacent territories wouldn't be a viable option for any country.
Morocco's King Makes Quiet Reforms - Benny Avni (New York Post)
In a referendum in which, impressively, three-quarters of voting-age Moroccans participated, the country adopted significant reforms. Under the new rules, King Mohammed VI is to keep ultimate control over the army and remains the supreme religious authority - but on most issues he now must "consult" with an elected prime minister.
- Morocco's experiment in transferring some powers to elected officials is unique in a region in which unelected rulers tend to grab, rather than cede, powers.
- Also included are more rights for women and minorities. Berber will become an official national language alongside Arabic.
- Morocco has taken a significant step that could become a model for transition toward democracy (and affinity with the West) in the region.
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