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Former Syrian Defense Minister Dispels Rumors of Death - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
Former Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib appeared on Syrian state television Wednesday in order to dispel rumors of his death.
Gaddafi Son Shown on Libyan TV, Contradicting Reports of His Death (AP-Washington Post)
Libyan state television on Wednesday broadcast images of a man it said was Khamis Gaddafi, Moammar Gaddafi's youngest son, who commands one of the best trained and equipped units in the Libyan military, undercutting rebel claims of his death last week.
Chinese Chief of Staff's Israeli Trip Signals Thaw (China Daily)
The visit of Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), to Israel next week signals warming bilateral ties once darkened by Israel's cancelled arms deals with Beijing.
In 2000, Israel suspended the sale of four advanced early-warning Phalcon aircraft to China because they were installed with U.S. technology. Since then, all Israeli military exports to China have been subjected to strict inspections to ensure they do not include U.S. technology.
Gaza Summer Camps Include Political Indoctrination (Intelligence and Terrorism
In June-August 2011, nearly 50,000 children and adolescents took part in Hamas-run summer camps in Gaza, as they do every year.
In addition to social activities, the camps offered Quran lessons, indoctrination with Hamas' political ideology, and paramilitary training.
The core values are radical Islam, "the liberation of Palestine," jihad, and death for the sake of Allah.
The older children use real rifles in paramilitary training, which also includes hand-to-hand combat.
At the summer camp graduation ceremony in Al-Zeitoun on July 29, teenagers in military uniform reenacted the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and blew up a cardboard model of an Israeli tank.
IDF Creating "Red" Infantry Team - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
Following a decision by Ground Forces Command head Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, IDF infantry units will begin to train against a special IDF unit simulating an enemy which will be trying hard to win.
The unit will study enemy tactics and work to create a training scenario as real as possible, officers said.
Ethiopian-Born Shlomo Molla Becomes Deputy Knesset Speaker - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima) was elected deputy Knesset speaker on Wednesday.
Molla, who made aliya from Gondar province in Ethiopia at age 19 in 1984, said he hopes to show Israeli society that "immigrants from any country can be partners in building the land and the State of Israel."
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- U.S. to Tell Assad that He Must Go - Bradley Klapper
The Obama administration is preparing to explicitly demand the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad and hit his regime with tough new sanctions, U.S. officials said Tuesday as the State Department signaled for the first time that American efforts to engage the government are finally over. Officials said the move will be a direct response to Assad's decision to step up the crackdown against demonstrators by sending tanks into opposition hotbeds.
The new formulation will make it clear that Assad can no longer be a credible reformist and should leave power, the officials said. "You can't have any kind of partnership with a regime that does this kind of thing to innocents," added State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
See also Syria Rejects Turkey's Plea to End Crackdown - Nada Bakri
President Bashar al-Assad of Syria rebuffed an appeal from Turkey on Tuesday to end the Syrian crackdown. Assad said in a statement after a six-hour meeting with Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, that his government would press ahead with its fight against the instigators of the uprising. "We shared our views for the bloodshed to stop as soon as possible and people of Syria from all sects to live in peace in the future," Davutoglu said after his meeting with Assad. A Turkish official said the U.S. was seeking further sanctions on Syria, a position that Turkey opposes.
(New York Times)
See also Syrian Troops Take Over Eastern City after Four Days of Fighting
Syrian troops seized control of the eastern city of Deir el-Zour Wednesday following four days of intense shelling and gunfire. An activist said, "They are shooting anything that moves."
On Wednesday, Syrian troops launched another operation in three suburbs of the capital Damascus.
- Egypt's Rulers Stoke Anti-U.S. Trend - Yaroslav Trofimov
Egypt's new military rulers are increasingly portraying pro-democracy activists as spies and saboteurs, blaming the country's economic crisis and sectarian strife on foreign infiltrators, and blasting the U.S. for funding agents of change.
As a result, connections with the U.S. and other Western countries have turned toxic. Dozens of Westerners, including tourists, reporters and Cairo residents, have been rounded up on the streets and delivered to police stations and military checkpoints by mobs of volunteer spy catchers in recent weeks. Almost all were quickly freed, with the exception of Ilan Grapel, an Israeli-American law student who has been incarcerated since June on suspicion of being a Mossad agent.
The military-inspired xenophobia campaign has been amplified by resurgent Islamists, who are traditionally hostile to any infidel influence in the country, and jingoistic reports in parts of the Egyptian media.
Though the country receives $1.3 billion in military aid from the U.S. every year, Egyptian generals have repeatedly condemned as traitors nongovernment organizations that accept American money, and Cairo prosecutors have started an inquiry into these NGOs. (Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Ambassador: Economy Won't Affect Obligations toward Israel - Herb Keinon
New U.S. envoy Dan Shapiro, on a tour of an Iron Dome anti-missile battery near Ashkelon, said America's commitment to Israel's security "has been consistent through many ups and downs of our own economy." He noted that President Barack Obama and the Congress "were united in providing the full funding of Israel's annual military systems package, as well as the additional $200 million represented in the Iron Dome Program. So, I have a lot of confidence that our commitments will continue."
Shapiro reiterated Washington's opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the UN in September, saying, "We don't support any unilateral attempt to try to solve this conflict through the United Nations. It can only be resolved through direct negotiations." (Jerusalem Post)
- U.S. Expresses "Concern" over New Jerusalem Construction - Herb Keinon and Melanie Lidman
The U.S. is "deeply concerned" by Israel's decision to approve construction of 930 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem, a State Department official said Tuesday. The U.S. has raised the issue with the government in Jerusalem, the official said. The Har Homa "C" neighborhood is adjacent to the existing Har Homa neighborhood in the capital's southeast.
"We are continuing to build in Jerusalem and in all of Israel," Interior Minister Eli Yishai said in a statement, adding, "The lack of housing is severe and we will not stop projects." An official in the Prime Minister's Office said the project has been in the works for some time.
"The prime minister never agreed to a construction freeze in Jerusalem," he said.
"No one was surprised by this, least of all the Palestinians." (Jerusalem Post)
See also What Do the Residents of Har Homa Say? - Nir Hasson
Har Homa (officially "Homat Shmuel" - "Samuel's wall") has 20,000 residents, wide streets, modern infrastructure, and plans to build another 2,000 housing units. The neighborhood was set up in the face of strong Palestinian and international protests during Benjamin Netanyahu's first term as prime minister.
Attorney Herzl Yechezkel, head of its residents' committee, says: "It's our right to build up Jerusalem...the capital of the Jewish people....The demands of the world are hallucinatory. It's as if I were to say: Don't build in Washington." (Ha'aretz-10Nov2010)
See also The Strategic Significance of Har Homa - Lenny Ben-David (I*Consult)
- The Syrian Regime: Protests at Home and Criticism from Abroad - Liad Porat and Gallia Lindenstrauss
Reports of the mass murder of civilians and allegations of crimes against humanity by Bashar al-Assad's
regime are multiplying, while the number of participants in the Syrian protests has risen steadily. Minorities
that have only recently begun to participate actively in the protests include Kurds and
There is growing
pressure on the Alawis, the power base supporting the regime, to turns their back on the
Assad family and join in the demonstrations. According to Western estimates, it is
only a matter of time before the Alawis cross over to the protesters' side.
Not only do the Alawis fear the response of Assad's regime should they join the protests, but they also fear the Sunni Muslim majority
when considering the day after the fall of Assad's
regime. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
- Syrians Must Win the Revolution on their Own - Joshua Landis
The U.S. should not try to hit the fast-forward button on the process of revolutionary change overtaking Syria.
Building national unity is a long and painful process. It cannot be given as a gift. Syrians must win their own revolution.
The Syrian opposition's lack of leaders has many U.S. policymakers scared. They don't want to bring down the regime before there is some structure or leadership to take its place.
Iraq is fresh in everyone's minds, not least for American policy planners. The quick toppling of the Iraqi regime brought militias and civil war.
Before Syrian businessmen will help overthrow the Assads, they need a safe alternative. They are not going to embrace - not to mention fund - a leaderless bunch of young activists who want to smash everything that smells of Baathist privilege, corruption, and cronyism. After all, who are the CEOs of Syria's crony capitalism if not the business elites of Aleppo and Damascus?
The writer is director of the Center for Middle East Studies and associate professor at the University of Oklahoma.
- A Return to the 1947 Partition Plan? - Frank Loewenberg
All of the Arab states voted against the UN Partition Plan - UN Resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine - that was adopted by the General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947. Now, 64 years later, the Palestinians have second thoughts about their rejection of the plan.
The UN Partition Plan unambiguously calls for the establishment of a Jewish state. This provision is contrary to the Palestinian Authority's stated position that it will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Partition Plan specifically states, "No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants on the ground of race, religion, language or sex." "Arabs and Jews who...reside in Palestine...shall...become citizens of the state in which they are resident and enjoy full civil and political rights." Yet PA President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that there is no room for Jews in the future state called Palestine.
UN Resolution 181 calls for the establishment of a special international regime for the City of Jerusalem, which it defines as including Bethlehem. Are the Palestinians really willing to give up Arab control of Bethlehem? The writer is a professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan-University.
(Winnipeg Jewish Review)
The Arab States and Syria - Editorial (New York Times)
- It took far too long, but the cruelty of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has finally registered with his Arab neighbors. They are speaking out against a reign of terror that has claimed the lives of as many as 1,600 courageous Syrians since pro-democracy protests began in March.
- The harshest statement came on Sunday from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. On Monday, along with Kuwait and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Damascus in protest.
- The fact that they waited so long is a disgrace.
Initially, Arab leaders viewed Syria as too powerful and too important to cross. But it has been clear for some time that Assad is destabilizing the region (thousands of Syrians have fled to Turkey) and eventually will be brought down. Assad also has been an important ally of Iran - whom they all fear.
The international community needs to keep up the diplomatic pressure and broaden sanctions to include the energy sector until those enabling Assad - the military and the business community - force him out.
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