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China Scales Back Investment in Iran's Energy Sector - Chen Aizhu and Chris Buckley (Reuters)
China has put the brakes on oil and gas investments in Iran.
Four energy executives in Beijing described retreats and slowdowns of Chinese ventures in Iran in recent months, even as China has bought more crude from Iran.
The slowing of China's energy investments in Iran was prompted, at least partly, by Beijing's efforts since late 2010 to ease tension with the Obama administration and cut the risk of Chinese oil firms being hit by U.S. sanctions that Congress has vigorously backed, said officials.
UN to Reaffirm Anti-Israel "Durban Declaration" at Durban III Event - Anne Bayefsky (Weekly Standard)
At the UN in New York, diplomats have been putting the finishing touches on a new "anti-racism" declaration set to be adopted by the General Assembly on Sept. 22.
The declaration will be the culmination of a summit known as "Durban III," after the original 2001 racist "anti-racism" debacle held in Durban, South Africa.
The Durban Declaration charges Israel - and only Israel - with racism.
On Thursday, UN diplomats arrived at the final text of the Durban III declaration which says: "We heads of state and government... reaffirm our political commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration."
Iran Warns Turkey about NATO's Defense System (AP)
Iran is warning Turkey against hosting NATO's missile defense system.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran believes that having the missile defense system in Turkey would not serve regional stability, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday.
Washington hopes to have the radar, aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from Iran, deployed in Turkey by the end of the year.
Hopes Cool for Freedom of American Jailed in Cuba - Paul Haven and Anne-Marie Garcia (AP)
Hopes that a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Cuba might soon be freed were dashed when former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said the Cuban government refused to let him meet with the prisoner.
Richardson described 62-year-old Alan Gross as an "American hostage." He said he would not leave the island until he was allowed to see him.
Gross was arrested in December 2009 while on a USAID-funded democracy-building program. A Cuban court convicted him in March of crimes against the state for illegally bringing in communications equipment and sentenced him to 15 years in jail.
Gross has insisted he was only trying to help Cuba's tiny Jewish community improve Internet access.
Israel Deploys Drone Aircraft to Monitor Egyptian Border (AP-Washington Post)
A senior Israeli military official says the air force has deployed a special unit of unmanned surveillance aircraft to monitor its 150-mile (250-km) long, porous border with Egypt after terrorists crossed the frontier and killed eight Israelis last month.
The official said the aircraft are flying only in Israeli airspace.
Gunshots Fired at Israeli Community Near Gaza - Shmulik Hadad (Ynet News)
Palestinian snipers from Gaza fired at least 10 shots at houses in the Israeli town of Netiv Haasara on Friday, damaging several houses.
Islamic Terror Suspects Arrested in Berlin, Chemicals Seized - David Crawford (Wall Street Journal)
German police detained two men on Thursday suspected of purchasing bomb-making chemicals and searched a Berlin mosque as part of the investigation.
Police arrested a 24-year-old German of Lebanese descent and a former resident of Gaza.
The arrests came days after Germany's interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, warned in a German newspaper interview that up to 1,000 potential Islamist terrorists may be living in Germany.
Trial Starts in Oren Speech Case - Steven Emerson (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
Ten students from the University of California, Irvine and Riverside went on trial this week on charges that they orchestrated a systematic disruption of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's February 2010 speech at the Irvine campus.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner rejected free speech arguments offered by the defense. "They didn't want to have an exchange of ideas to see who was telling the truth and who was not," Wagner said. "What their intention was, make no mistake, was to shut him down."
Egypt's Phantom Flight to Israel - Patrick Martin (Globe and Mail-Canada)
A lone white Boeing 737 aircraft - with no logo or name displayed - sits in a far corner of Cairo International Airport. The plane is the entire fleet of the phantom airline: Air Sinai, a semi-secret division of Egypt Air.
The Israel-Egypt peace treaty called for the national airline of each country to fly regularly in and out of the other country's main international airport, so Air Sinai was created in 1982.
While Israel's El Al airline happily complied, taking often-full flights to the Egyptian capital, the owner of Egypt Air, the government of Egypt, was a little squirmier. Air Sinai flies to and from Tel Aviv every week, without being listed by Egypt Air among its flights or on its maps.
It's hard to find Air Sinai online, and it's impossible to book a seat. Its telephone number is unlisted and its flights are not announced over the airport PA system.
Muslim Militant Group Claims Western China Attacks - Chi-Chi Zhang (AP)
The militant Turkistan Islamic Party, which seeks independence for China's western Xinjiang region,
claimed by video it carried out recent attacks in China that killed at least three dozen people, the SITE Intelligence Group said this week.
Security experts say core members have been trained by al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
Xinjiang is home to largely Muslim ethnic Uighurs who say they have been marginalized by an influx of China's majority Han to the region. Ethnic riots there two years ago killed at least 197 people.
Dozens were killed in slashings and arson and hit-and-run attacks in the cities of Hotan and Kashgar in July.
Time Is Not Against Israel - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)
Time is not against Israel, but against the Arabs. They are splintering rather than uniting.
Each country faces some level of civil war between Islamists and nationalists, monarchies and oppositions, and religious-communal groups.
We are going to be seeing more assertive Kurdish (in Syria and Iraq) and Berber movements (in North Africa). The Sunni-Shia rift is heating up.
The Arab Spring is in fact the start of an internal Arab political winter: 20 to 40 years of fighting over who will run each country.
Israel and France Form New Partnership to Aid Developing Countries (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel and France signed on Sept. 5 a declaration of intent for cooperation in extending aid to Haiti and to emerging countries in Africa in agriculture and irrigation, and public health.
Cooperation will focus on sending experts, counseling, and professional training to Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Haiti.
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- Turkey: Warships Will Back Next Gaza Flotilla - Sami Aboudi
"Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorized to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza," Prime Minister Erdogan said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday.
Erdogan also vowed to stop Israel from exploiting natural resources in
the Mediterranean. "You know that Israel has begun to declare that it has the right to act in exclusive economic areas in the Mediterranean....You will see that it will not be the owner of this right, because Turkey, as a guarantor of the Turkish republic of north Cyprus, has taken steps in the area, and it will be decisive and holding fast to the right to monitor international waters in the east Mediterranean," he said. (Reuters)
- U.S. Diplomatic Efforts Unable to Derail Palestinians' UN Gambit - Joby Warrick and Joel Greenberg
Two of the Obama administration's top Middle East advisers traveled home from the region on Thursday after two days of largely fruitless meetings aimed at averting a showdown over a Palestinian effort to seek recognition of statehood at the UN.
Although the White House officially supports statehood, it opposes what administration officials argue would be a merely symbolic gesture that could set back peace efforts and do little to help Palestinians.
A senior administration official involved in Middle East policy discussions said the White House had reached out to about 100 governments around the world in an effort to persuade them to oppose the Palestinian bid.
"We don't think this is good for anyone - not for Israel, certainly not for the Palestinian people," the official said. (Washington Post)
See also State Department Official Confirms U.S. Will Veto Palestinian UN Bid - Natasha Mozgovaya
A top U.S. official confirmed that the Obama administration would veto a resolution in the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state.
"The administration has been very clear that if any such resolution were put in front of the Security Council, that we would veto it," said Wendy Sherman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, on Wednesday during her Senate confirmation hearing. "The President has been very clear that a UN resolution to recognize Palestine will not get us to the two-state solution that both parties seek, and that most of the world seeks," Sherman said.
- Syrian Forces Kill 20 in Homs - Khaled Yacoub Oweis
Syrian forces backed by tanks killed at least 20 civilians in the city of Homs on Wednesday in one of the fiercest military assaults on urban centers to crush six months of pro-democracy protests, activists and residents said. "Military helicopters are flying overhead and snipers are shooting from rooftops at anything. Tank machinegun fire is coming at us like rain," a resident of the Bab Sbaaa district said.
(Reuters-Los Angeles Times)
See also Explosion of Violence in Syria Caught in Series of Horrifying Video Clips - Ian Black (Guardian-UK)
See also Assad Declares State of War in Syria, Mobilizes Troops
Syrian President Bashar Assad declared a state of war on Wednesday and issued a general mobilization of troops, Al-Quds newspaper reported Thursday. A "major military operation" required full mobilization of military forces in Syria for concentrated offensives on cities across the country in order to eliminate "terrorists," the report said.
- In Shift, Iran's President Calls for End to Syrian Crackdown - Neil MacFarquhar
On Thursday, President Ahmadinejad of Iran called for President Assad to end his violent crackdown of an uprising challenging his authoritarian rule in Syria.
As Assad's forces continue to shoot unarmed demonstrators, Iran sees its fortunes fading on two fronts: its image as a guardian of Arab resistance has been battered, and its most important regional strategic ally is in danger of being ousted.
Syrian protesters take it as a matter of faith that security forces from both Iran and Hizbullah have been drawn into the fray, trading cellphone videos that are said to show Hizbullah fighters streaming across the border in black SUVs. Analysts are convinced that behind the scenes the Iranians are pushing for a tough line, suggesting that their repression of the 2009 democracy protests in Iran is the model to follow. (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Israel Wants to Improve Ties with Turkey - Anshel Pfeffer and Revital Hoval
The expanding crisis with Turkey "is not our choice" and Israel would gladly welcome a resolution, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday. "We respect the Turkish people and their heritage. We definitely want relations to improve."
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan accused Israel on Wednesday of not returning drones that Turkey had bought from Israel and had sent back for maintenance. Israeli defense officials dismissed the allegations.
"At issue are drone engines that were sent to Israel for routine maintenance in accordance with the supply contract, and the Turks will get them back when the work is finished," a senior Israel Defense Ministry source said. "Erdogan's accusations are baseless."
The 10 drones were supplied to the Turkish military two years ago. Delivery of the drones was delayed due to technical difficulties caused by the Turks' demand to install Turkish surveillance cameras, which were heavier than the original cameras.
See also NATO Membership Seen as a Restraint for Turkey - Yaakov Katz
In Israel, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is believed to be the main obstacle that will prevent Turkey from actually following through with its threat and dispatching naval vessels to the eastern Mediterranean to confront the Israel Navy. This does not mean that Israel is not concerned with the possibility that the Turkish navy will send one of its advanced Barbaros frigates armed with Harpoon missiles, torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles to Israeli waters.
- Israel Braces for Arab Offensive at IAEA Assembly - Yaakov Katz
Israel is making an effort to defeat a resolution being drafted by Arab states that is expected to be brought before the International Atomic Energy Agency annual gathering later this month in Vienna that will target Israel over its assumed nuclear capabilities.
Two anti-Israel proposals are expected to be raised during the meeting: One from Egypt calls for increased IAEA inspections throughout the Middle East, and another from a number of Arab states calling on Israel to join a global anti-nuclear weapons treaty. The second resolution was voted down by four votes at last year's meeting.
Israel Atomic Energy Commission officials said that the Arab states' resolution was an attempt to single out and isolate Israel in a move that is not within the IAEA's authority.
- U.S. Envoy Urges Renewed Peace Talks - Alona Ferber and Elka Looks
The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, speaking Monday at an international conference on Economic Regional Cooperation in Tel Aviv, urged Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. "While reaching peace will not ensure stability by any means, the lack of peace will decrease stability dangerously," Shapiro warned. Shapiro lauded Israel for its "strong history of reaching beyond its immediate neighborhood," adding that "as the region's oldest and most established democracy in the region, Israel upholds the values that the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria are pushing for." (Ha'aretz)
- Turkey's Gunboat Diplomacy Makes Waves in Region - Ibon Villelabeitia
Turkey's plan to flex its naval muscles in the eastern Mediterranean risks being perceived as an over-reaction in Ankara's dispute with former ally Israel and as an assertion of regional power that could alienate even its new Arab admirers. Erdogan's ploy may fuel Western unease over Turkey's reliability as a NATO partner and its penchant for actions designed to court popularity in the Muslim world.
"NATO and the West increasingly see Turkey as a loose cannon," said Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based security analyst. "Turkey played its cards well in the past when it had good relations with everyone, but now it is playing them very badly." Jenkins said non-Arab Turkey behaving like a neighborhood bully would be regarded with grave concern by Arabs, who were subjects of the Ottoman empire for centuries.
Few Turkish analysts believe Turkey is planning to send frigates in open defiance of Israel's blockade of Gaza, which the UN has declared legal, but their mere presence in international waters not far from Gaza could risk a clash. (Reuters)
- Why the West Cares about Turkey's Diplomatic Conflict with Israel - Dore Gold
In a 2004 diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks, an American diplomat in Turkey wrote about his concerns with Ankara's "new, highly activist foreign policy" and the "neo-Ottoman fantasies" of Ahmet Davutoglu, who today is Turkey's foreign minister.
At a meeting at the main think tank of Turkey's ruling AKP Party, the American diplomat heard many saying that it is Turkey's role to spread Islam in Europe. He noted "the widespread belief" among the participants that Turkey should "avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683" - where the Ottoman armies lost to the Hapsburg Empire.
These trends are not just a concern for the U.S., but for other countries who are doubtlessly monitoring trends in Turkey.
In late 2009, Davutoglu spoke in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where he stated that "the Balkans, the Caucuses, and the Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence." For many states that were once part of the Ottoman Empire, especially in Europe, this statement undoubtedly raised eyebrows. Across Eastern Europe, from Hungary to Serbia, there are sites that are remembered as battlefields between Christian armies and the Ottoman Empire.
What Erdogan and Davutoglu do with Israel is seen as a warning sign regarding the future direction of Turkish policy. Will Turkey return to being a pragmatic ally of the West that serves as a bridge to the Middle East or will it pursue a new radical course that brings it increasingly into conflict with the countries around it?
The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
- Erdogan's Temper Tantrum Should Benefit Kurds - Michael Rubin
Last month, a Turkish air raid killed seven Kurdish civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan. Surely, the Turks - by Erdogan's own definition - used disproportionate force against the unarmed Kurds - several of whom were children or infants. By Turkey's own rules, the Turkish air force pilots, their commanding officers, and Erdogan himself should be defendants in a war crimes trial. At the very least, the Iraqi Kurdish government should demand Turkey pay compensation for the Kurds killed by Turkish warplanes.
Turkey justifies its actions in Iraq because it considers the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be a terrorist group, a definition the State Department shares. But, if it is willing to supply and support Hamas - a group that engages in far bloodier actions than the PKK - then Turkey has no moral or legal basis to continue its crusade against the PKK. The writer is a resident scholar at AEI.
(Kurdistan Tribune-American Enterprise Institute)
- Turkish Columnist: "There Is No Neighbor with which We Have No Problems" - Yalcin Dogan
The mentality that sent the Mavi Marmara [ship] to Gaza when there was no reason now causes great troubles for us. Now we live the pain of that. When we add "let us have the leading role in the Arab Spring" enthusiasm, relations with our neighbors are becoming very tense. When we also include Greece in the series due to Cyprus, after Syria, Iran and Israel, the "zero problems with the neighbors" policy is almost turning into a "there is no neighbor with which we have no problems" trend.
- The Time Isn't Right for Palestinian Statehood Bid - Irwin Cotler
U.S. President Barack Obama, in a speech May 19, warned that a just and lasting peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is possible only through a negotiated approach that involves mutual concessions. "Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state," a position reaffirmed in a communique by the G8 on May 27.
The Palestinian team responsible for preparing this initiative has been given an independent legal opinion - by its own counsel - that argues against a unilateral Palestinian statehood bid and warns of the serious risks involved to the Palestinian people, a position echoed by Jordan's King Abdullah II.
Such a unilateral declaration would undermine all accepted international frameworks for peace, such as UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and 1850; the Roadmap for Peace; and various statements by the Quartet, all of which call for a mutually negotiated resolution of the conflict while rejecting unilateralism.
Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority does not yet meet the traditional test for statehood - particularly the test of effective government, effective representation, control over a defined territory and adherence to the rule of law.
The writer, emeritus professor of law at McGill University, is a former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada.
- The UN's Worst Enemy - Editorial
When it comes to Israel, the UN has a habit of shooting itself in the foot.
It's about to do so again.
Diplomatically, the General Assembly vote for Palestinian statehood would elevate Palestinian UN status to "state observer," a designation held by the Vatican. But it doesn't change facts on the ground and makes legitimate sovereignty harder to achieve.
- The Strategic Culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Operational and Policy Implications - Michael Eisenstadt
The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is an unconventional adversary that requires unconventional approaches
in planning, strategy and policy. These approaches must take into account the country's sophisticated culture, the regime's religious-ideological orientation, and the country's modern military history. And they must
account for its unique approach to statecraft, strategy, and the use of force.
Because Shiite religious doctrine is central to the official ideology of the Islamic Republic and exalts the suffering and martyrdom of the faithful, Iran is sometimes portrayed as an irrational, "undeterrable" state with
a high pain threshold.
This impression has been reinforced by Iran's use of costly human-wave attacks during the Iran-Iraq War.
Iranian officials deliberately cultivate and play up this image of Iran as a dangerous foe whose soldiers seek
martyrdom, and whose society is willing and able to absorb heavy punishment. They do so to energize the
regime's hard-core support base, to intimidate its enemies, and to strengthen the country's deterrent posture.
This perception of Iran, however, is both anachronistic and wrong. In the heady, early days of the revolution, the Iranian people were indeed willing to endure hardships, make great sacrifices, and incur heavy losses in support of the war effort. But as the war with Iran dragged on, popular support for it waned. The population was demoralized
and wearied by years of inconclusive fighting, making it increasingly difficult to attract volunteers for the
front. As a result, Ayatollah Khomeini accepted the cease-fire with Iraq in July 1988.
Since then, within the context of a relatively activist foreign policy, Iranian decision-makers have generally
shunned direct confrontation, and have acted through surrogates (such as the Lebanese Hizbullah) or by
means of stealth in order to preserve deniability, and thereby minimize risk. The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Military and Security Studies
Program at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
See also The Sources of Iranian Negotiating Behavior - Harold Rhode (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- A Stunning Shift of Iran's Image in the Arab World - Dan Murphy
When pollster James Zogby surveyed Arab public opinion about Iran in June, he found a stunning reversal in Iran's popularity among six Arab nations.
Five years ago, Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon were on a high, symbols of resistance to the U.S. and foreign occupation in the region.
Asked if Iran plays a positive or negative role in the region, in Morocco, Iran dropped from an 82% "positive" rating in 2006, to 85% "negative" today. In Egypt, the shift was from 89% positive to 63% negative. In Saudi Arabia, it went from 85% positive to 80% negative, and in the UAE it went from 68% positive to 70% negative. Only in Lebanon, which has a large Shiite population, did Iran retain a positive rating, down from 71% to 63%.
(Christian Science Monitor)
- Squeezing Syria - Editorial
The Assad regime is demonstrating that it has no strategy for responding to popular protests other than mass murder - and that appeals for "reform" by foreign governments are foolish.
Only the end of Assad's regime will end the violence. Outsiders can help by abandoning efforts to "engage" the dictator and instead stepping up political and economic sanctions.
In Washington, a sanctions bill before Congress deserves a fresh look. Sponsored by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) , it would build on the European oil import ban by penalizing others who buy Syrian oil or invest in the energy sector and by targeting Syrian trade in refined energy products. More so than Iran or other rogue states, Syria is vulnerable to an economic squeeze. The more that Western governments can apply it, the greater the chance of saving lives. (Washington Post)
- Syria's Sons of No One - Anthony Shadid
The clashes in Homs had been fierce and lasted hours, past the muezzin's call to prayer at dawn. "We won't bow to anyone but God," the protesters declared. The mukhabarat, Syria's secret police, replied with tear gas, buckshot and bullets. Abdullah, a 26-year-old computer engineer and pious Muslim, has emerged as one of the dozen or so leaders of the youth resistance. His savvy with technology has made him a target for the police.
I'd been covering the uprising since its beginning, but the question that still eluded me was how the Syrian youth keep fighting in the face of such withering violence. How can laptops and cellphones and bags of nails and pipes that shoot onions be any match for one of the Arab world's most fearsome police states? And how can an eclectic array of leftists, liberals, conservatives, nationalists, Islamists (themselves diverse) and the disgruntled and downtrodden prove unified enough to bring it down?
(New York Times Magazine)
- The Egypt-Israel Peace Is Hanging by a Thread - Robert Satloff
Egypt-Israel peace treaty is hanging on by a thread.
The aftermath of the Sinai attack
only confirmed how firmly embedded in
Egyptian political culture is the phenomenon
of antipathy toward Israel.
To be accurate, while Egyptians evince no zest for peace
with Israel, they also show no appetite for war.
Ultimately, preserving Egypt-Israel
peace will not succeed
without Washington. History will not be
kind to President Obama if he
decides he can trade a minor success in
Libya for a strategic catastrophe in Egypt.
This will require high-level U.S. engagement, both before
and after Egypt's election season, to remind
Egyptians what is at stake in their choice of
political leaders and to remind those leaders
that their choices have consequences.
The writer is executive director of The
Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- How to Reverse the West's Decline - Jonathan Sacks
1989 was the year of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War. One narrative was that the West had won. Communism had imploded.
The other narrative was quite different. The key precipitating event of the fall of Communism, the withdrawal, in 1989, of the Soviet army from Afghanistan, set in motion the rapid collapse of one of the world's two superpowers. It was achieved not by the United States and its military might, but by a small group of religiously inspired fighters, the mujahideen and their helpers. If that is what a small group of highly motivated religious fighters could do to one superpower, why not the other, America and the West? That is when 9/11 was born.
The question is not radical Islam but, does the West believe in itself any more? Is it capable of renewing itself as it did two centuries ago? Or will it crumble as did the Soviet Union from internal decay. The writer is Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth.
- Fighting Terror, a Decade after 9/11 - Uri Bar-Lev
After 9/11, Israel tried to help and to lend our collective experience to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which was to spearhead the American effort in the struggle against terror. Even today, I'm not convinced we succeeded in our efforts there.
In the U.S., there are 19,000 separate bodies responsible for law enforcement and many different agencies responsible for fighting terror, each acting on its own and without any coordination with the others.
There is no central, unifying agency that can create a comprehensive understanding of the intelligence gathered by these agencies.
In every city and state, the marshals, sheriff's department, traffic police, local police and subway police all operate separately - still incapable of synchronizing their actions in the field. Compare this to Israel's situation; when there is, heaven forbid, a terror attack in Tel Aviv, the highest-ranking police officer on the scene runs the scene. This method of field operations has led to efficiency and success.
The U.S. continues to struggle to find a balance between the need to prevent acts of terror and the need to uphold the U.S. Constitution. The Americans have no idea what to do with the system known as "profiling": the identification of potential terrorists based on personal details, so they invented what they call "random checks"” in an effort to fool themselves. That certain groups pose more of a threat than others is a fact that cannot be ignored. It doesn't make sense to perform a stringent security check on a four-year-old boy, and yet allow the three Pakistanis behind him to pass freely. Without that focus, terrorists will slip through the net again and again. The writer served as the Israel Police and Public Security Attache in North America.
- What the Entire Temple Mount Wall Looked Like - Nadav Shragai
Two thousand years after King Herod's builders laid the foundations for the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (Kotel), Israeli archaeologists have reached these foundations. The Wall's architectonic picture is nearly complete and will soon be unveiled publicly. The discovery, hidden deep underground for thousands of years, was made possible by the uncovering of a Herodian-era drainage canal situated over the lowest point of the Western Wall's foundational structure.
The canal, which once guided away the rainwater that fell on Jerusalem, meanders 600 meters from the Pool of Siloam in the City of David to the foot of the Temple Mount.
The enormous size of the foundational stones of the Temple Mount is reminiscent of the Western Wall stones. Every layer was moved back two centimeters from the layer underneath it to strengthen the structure's stability. The canal and the Western Wall foundations will be open to visitors once the proper safety equipment is installed.
The Arab Counterrevolution - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley (New York Review of Books)
- Since Mubarak's ouster, everything that has happened in the region has offered a striking contrast with what came before. Protests turned violent in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Syria. Foreign nations got involved in each of these conflicts. Ethnic, tribal, and sectarian divisions have come to the fore. Old parties and organizations as well as political and economic elites contend for power, leaving many protesters with the feeling that the history they were making not long ago is now passing them by.
- From all corners of the Arab world, Islamists of various tendencies are coming in from the cold. Virtually everywhere they are the largest single group as well as the best organized. In Egypt and Tunisia, where they had been alternatively tolerated and repressed, they are full-fledged political actors. In Libya, where they had been suppressed, they joined and played a major part in the rebellion. In Syria, where they had been massacred, they are a principal component of the protest movement.
- The lesson seems clear: the safest path to power can be to avoid its unabashed exercise. In Egypt, some Brotherhood leaders made it plain that they will regulate their share of the parliamentary vote, preferring to sit in the legislature without controlling it. They will not run for high-profile offices, such as the presidency. They will build coalitions. They will lead from behind.
- The thorniest challenge to the traditional middle-of-the-road Islamists will come from the Salafists. As the Muslim Brotherhood struggles to strike a balance, the Salafists could emerge as unintended beneficiaries. In Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, the most significant future rivalry is unlikely to be between Islamists and so-called pro-democracy secular forces. It might well be between mainstream Islamists and Salafists.
- After some hesitation, the U.S. and others have generally taken the side of the protesters. Several considerations were at work, among them the hope that this support will strengthen those most liable to espouse pro-Western views and curry favor with those most likely to take the helm. New rulers might express gratitude toward those who stood by them. But any such reflex probably will be short-lived. The West likely will awake to an Arab world whose rulers are more representative and assertive, but not more sympathetic or friendly.
- The French and the British helped liberate the Arab world from four centuries of Ottoman rule; the U.S. enabled the Afghan mujahideen to liberate themselves from Soviet domination and freed the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. Before long, yesterday's liberators became today's foes. The sound and fury of revolutionary moments can dull the senses and obscure the more ruthless struggles going on in the shadows.
Hussein Agha is Senior Associate Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Robert Malley, formerly Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs and Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, is now Middle East and North Africa Program Director at the International Crisis Group.
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