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Hizbullah Damages CIA Spy Network in Lebanon - Greg Miller (Washington Post)
As many as a half-dozen CIA informants in Lebanon were captured earlier this year by Hizbullah, U.S. officials said Monday.
The informants appear to have been betrayed by cellphone records and calling patterns, underscoring the sophistication of Hizbullah's counterintelligence efforts.
"It has caused irreparable damage to the agency's ability to operate in the country," said a former CIA official.
See also Hizbullah, Iran Uncover CIA Informants - Mark Hosenball (Reuters)
Bob Baer, a former CIA operations officer, said one reason Hizbullah has been successful is that it has forced Lebanese government security forces to hand over sensitive communications and spy gear supplied by the U.S. government, which Hizbullah then used to identify CIA informants.
Counterintelligence officers in Iran also succeeded in uncovering the identities of at least a handful of alleged CIA informants.
New UN Vote on Durban III - Anne Bayefsky (Jerusalem Post)
The UN General Assembly will adopt a new resolution this week to promote the Durban "anti-racism" declaration.
14 nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, UK, U.S., and Israel all boycotted the Durban III anti-Israel conference on Sept. 22.
In short, Durban is not a "united" front against racism, but a divisive anti-Semitic and anti-Western bonanza.
Iran: President's Press Adviser Sentenced for Offending Clerics - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
The Iranian president's press adviser, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, has been sentenced to a year in prison on charges of "publishing materials contrary to Islamic norms," the official IRNA news agency reported Sunday. He was banned from journalism for three years.
Javanfekr wrote in an official publication that the practice of women wearing a head-to-toe black covering known as a chador was not originally an Iranian practice but was imported. This was considered offensive by hard-line Iranian clerics.
Authorities banned the pro-reform Etemaad daily for two months for publishing an interview Saturday with Javanfekr, in which he criticized conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad for the arrest of dozens of the president's allies over the past months.
Israeli Envoy Returns to Egypt (AP)
Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, returned to Cairo Sunday. He and other embassy staffers had fled when thousands of Egyptians attacked the embassy in September.
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- U.S., Allies Hit Iran with New Sanctions - Joby Warrick
The Obama administration on Monday formally designated Iran's entire financial sector a "money laundering concern," a move intended to discourage companies from doing business with Iranian banks. U.S. officials also announced new sanctions against Iran's oil industry and expanded the growing ranks of Iranian companies and individuals blacklisted from trading with Americans. Canada, Britain and France took similar and, in some cases, harsher steps.
- Alleged Iran Nuke Site Being Watched - George Jahn
Satellite surveillance has shown an increase in activity at an Iranian site suspected of links to alleged secret work on nuclear weapons, officials say. One official cited intelligence saying it appeared Tehran is trying to cover its tracks by sanitizing the site and removing any evidence of nuclear research and development. Their focus is on a structure believed to be housing a large metal chamber at a military site at Parchin, southwest of Tehran, that a Nov. 8 IAEA report described as being used for nuclear-related explosives testing. Recent satellite imagery shows increased activity, including an unusual number of vehicles arriving and leaving.
- Sectarian Strife in City Bodes Ill for All of Syria - Anthony Shadid
As it descends into sectarian hatred, Homs has emerged as a chilling window on what civil war in Syria could look like, as a spokesman for the Syrian opposition last week called the killings and kidnappings on both sides "a perilous threat to the revolution."
In Homs, Syria's third-largest city, the majority is Sunni Muslim, with sizable minorities of Christians and Alawites. Residents say Alawites wear Christian crosses to avoid being abducted or killed when passing through the most restive Sunni neighborhoods. (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Boosts Patrols around Offshore Gas Fields
Israel has boosted naval patrols around its east Mediterranean natural gas fields for fear of guerrilla attacks and as maritime rivalry with Turkey deepens, an Israeli official said on Monday. "One danger is a proximity attack, by frogmen, by boats, by terrorists in some fashion," Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, told Globes in May.
"Another, bigger challenge is how to face the threat of missiles, because today you can launch missiles from tens of kilometers away." (Ha'aretz)
- Syria: No Longer Revolution, It's a Civil War - Barry Rubin
Don't overrate Iran's role in Syria. Iran is an important source of financing, but this is President Assad's battle to win or lose. There is a sort of Sunni-Shia version of the Spanish Civil War going on now. Turkey isn't the good guy here. The Islamist regime in Ankara isn't opposing the Syrian regime out of its love for democracy. Erdogan's government wants to have a fellow Sunni Islamist dictatorship in Damascus, preferably under its influence.
This is a war to the death. The government elite would face death, exile, or long-term imprisonment if it loses. Similarly, the dominant Alawite community and large portions of the Christian one risk massacre if the government falls. Unlike in Egypt and Tunisia, the armed forces cannot usher in a new regime under which it can hope to keep its privileges.
The best-known opposition group is the Syrian National Council (SNC), which was assembled by the U.S. using the Islamist regime in Turkey. Given its Western backing, the SNC is surprisingly dominated by Islamists.
- Israeli Experts to Help Police Secure Towns in Kenya - Peter Leftie
Israel is sending experts to Kenya to help police secure major cities from possible terrorism attacks, as the government heightened its diplomatic offensive to rally the world around Kenya's military operation to defeat Al-Shabaab.
"Israel is willing to send consultants to Kenya to help Kenya secure its cities from terrorist threats and share experience with Kenya because the operation in Somalia is very similar to Israel's operations in the past, first in Lebanon and then in Gaza," Israeli ambassador Gil Haskel
The security agreement signed during Prime Minister Raila Odinga's recent tour of Israel is in response to grenade attacks in Nairobi, Garissa and Mandera by suspected Al-Shabaab elements retaliating against Kenya's military operation. Islamic militants are said to have dispatched recruiting agents from mosque to mosque, telling potential followers that Kenyan troops had teamed up with Israel to fight Islam. (Daily Nation-Kenya)
- Mitchell Says Palestinians Must Show Flexibility - Christine Parrish
Former U.S. Middle East envoy Sen. George Mitchell spoke at the University of Maine in Belfast last week, saying, "The Israeli leaders agreed to halt new housing in the West Bank for 10 months. It was much less than what we asked for but more than anyone else had done. The Palestinians rejected it as worse than useless. They were strongly opposed to it. Then nine months on, there were negotiations for a couple of weeks that were discontinued by the Palestinians on the grounds that Israel wouldn't continue the settlement freeze. What had been less than worthless a few months earlier became indispensable to continue negotiations."
The Palestinians will not get 100% of what they want. It is not attainable, he said. The question is: will they negotiate to get a stake in their future or continue to fight for a past that is out of reach? (Free Press-Maine)
- Saudi Arabia Expands Its Power as U.S. Influence Diminishes - David Ignatius
Over this year of Arab Spring revolt, Saudi Arabia has increasingly replaced the U.S. as the key status-quo power in the Middle East - a role that seems likely to expand even more in coming years as the Saudis boost their military and economic spending. The kingdom's old practice was to keep its head down, spread money to radical groups to try to buy peace, and rely on a U.S. military umbrella. Now, Riyadh is more open and vocal in pressing its interests - especially in challenging Iran.
The Saudis are planning to roughly double their armed forces over the next 10 years. The army will add 125,000 to its estimated current force of 150,000; the national guard will grow by 125,000 from an estimated 100,000; the navy will spend more than $30 billion buying new ships and sea-skimming missiles; the air force will add 450 to 500 planes; and the Ministry of Interior is boosting its police and special forces by about 60,000. The doubling of ground forces is partly a domestic employment project.
- After Egypt's Revolution - Andre Aciman
Rather than see things for what they are, Egyptians, from their leaders on down, have always preferred the blame game. Blaming some insidious clandestine villain for anything invariably works in a country where hearsay passes for truth and paranoia for knowledge. In Egypt there is no public trust. False rumor, which is the opiate of the Egyptian masses and the bread and butter of political discourse in the Arab world, trumps clarity, reason and the will to tolerate a different opinion, let alone a different religion or the spirit of open discourse.
Nothing in the Middle East can keep you as focused (or as unfocused) as the archvillain of them all: Israel.
Say "Israel" and you've galvanized everyone. Say "Israel" and you have a movement, a cause, a purpose. Say "Israel" and all of Islam huddles. Iran, Hamas, Hizbullah and now Turkey.
The writer, born in Egypt, is a professor of comparative literature at the City University of New York.
(New York Times)
Anti-Semitism: The Suicidal Passion - Ruth R. Wisse (Weekly Standard)
See also Israel to Seek Closure of UN Refugee Aid Agency - Shlomo Cesana
- "What if Arabs had recognized the State of Israel in 1948?" asks Abdulateef Al-Mulhim in a recent column in Arab News: "Would the Arab world have been more stable, more democratic, and more advanced?" His affirmative answer emphasizes how much better off the Palestinians and their fellow Arabs, as well as non-Arab Muslims, would have been had some Arab leaders not used the Palestinians "for their own agenda to suppress their own people and to stay in power."
- Arab leaders did not oppose Israel because it displaced the Palestinians; they displaced Palestinian Arabs in order to sustain opposition to Israel, creating a refugee time bomb.
At Arab insistence, the UN cultivated a network of refugee institutions and an industry of welfare workers with a stake in maintaining refugee dependency, feeding the grievance of generations by insisting on their "right" of return - as if the Displaced Persons at the end of World War II had been continually maintained as such in the heart of Europe. Shutting down UNRWA is the only way to begin repairing the lives of Palestinian Arabs.
- In the current political climate, it hardly matters whether one is among the prosecutors or defenders of Israel, as long as Israel is in the dock. Many well-meaning people fail to appreciate that the prosecution prevails once it makes Israel the defendant. Some ask naively, "But aren't we allowed to criticize Israel?" or even boast that Israel is being held to a "higher standard," ignoring that the war against the Jews is won by charging them with the crimes being committed against them. The point of the "trial" is to keep Jews at its center.
- Yet the early benefits of organizing politics against the Jews are inevitably outweighed by the ruin that overtakes its practitioners. Why inevitably? Because anti-Semitism attributes real problems to a phony cause. Putting off problems tends to compound them.
- Strategies of blame may temporarily camouflage corruption, channel dissatisfaction, and redirect aggression, but societies that resort to them collapse under the weight of their negativity. Palestinians - once considered the ablest Arabs - are now in strong competition with Germans of the last century in the sweepstakes of self-destruction.
The writer is professor of Yiddish literature and comparative literature at Harvard.
Israel intends to ask the UN to close down UNRWA, the agency that assists Palestinian refugees living in Judea and Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem, saying the organization poses an obstacle to any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians because of its distorted definition of the term "refugee." UNRWA is separate from the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, which aids all other refugees except Palestinians. UNRWA claims that there are close to 5 million Palestinian refugees, including the descendants of refugees. "Other refugees around the world are not afforded refugee status for generations," MK Einat Wilf said Sunday.
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