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EU Reaches Deal on New Iran Sanctions (Reuters)
EU governments agreed in principle on Tuesday to extend sanctions against Iran by adding some 200 names to a target list of people and entities, diplomats said. The decision will be formally approved at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Dec. 1.
EU governments are also expected to discuss proposals by France and Britain for further sanctions, such as targeting the Iranian central bank. France also wants to target the oil industry.
Huge Blast Rocks Hizbullah Stronghold in South Lebanon (Daily Star-Lebanon)
A huge explosion shook the Hizbullah stronghold of Siddiqin near Tyre, a security source said Wednesday.
Lebanese security forces were unable to access the scene after Hizbullah set up a security perimeter around the blast site.
Local media said the explosion likely took place at a Hizbullah arms cache.
Israel Beware: China Arms Hizbullah - Brett M. Decker and William C. Triplett II (Washington Times)
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, a Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile struck Israel's INS Hanit off the Lebanon coast, killing four Israeli sailors.
The Hanit is a corvette (called a Saar 5 class ship by the Israeli navy) with a crew of 80.
The missile blew up near the fan tail of the ship, causing substantial damage, but the ship didn't sink.
If the missile had struck amidships or had impacted at the water line, many more crewmembers would have been killed or injured, and it's unlikely the ship would have survived.
A second C-802 fired at the same time flew over the ship, zeroed in on a small freighter 40 miles away, and sank it.
Israeli officials believe Hizbullah may have had its hand on the lanyard, but Iranian specialists manned the firing batteries, and Lebanon's military radars provided the guidance for the missile.
Jordan Starts to Shake - Nicolas Pelham (New York Review of Books)
Under Abdullah's father, King Hussein, the alliance between the monarch and his East Bank tribesmen was so sacrosanct that Jordan was often called the Bedouin Kingdom.
King Abdullah has had much less time for the tribes. While the lot of Jordanians of Palestinian origin has improved, that of Jordan's indigenous East Bankers has slumped.
In the past the Hashemites bought their East Bankers' acquiescence by doling out titles and stipends in the security forces and political establishment.
Thanks to flagrant gerrymandering, East Bankers received 85% of the parliamentary seats in the elections a year ago, and were awarded 22 of the 28 posts in the last government.
Internet Guide to Finding Israeli Products - Pauline Dubkin Yearwood (Chicago Jewish News)
The Buy Israel Goods website, founded by Chicago businessman Howard Bernstein in 2002, lists available Israeli consumer products in 25 categories in 17 cities in the U.S. and Canada.
Buy Israel Week is Nov. 28-Dec. 4.
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- U.S., Russia Back Israel at Mideast Nuclear Meeting - George Jahn
Russia joined the U.S. and Britain on Tuesday in backing Israel's view that the Middle East cannot be turned into a nuclear arms-free zone without progress on regional peace. The three nations also blunted Arab efforts at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna to create such a zone.
Moscow's decision to join Washington and London in the joint statement of support for Israel's view was a rare nod from Moscow recognizing Israel's security concerns.
"While Nuclear Weapon-Free zones improve the security of the entire international community, they do not exist in isolation from other security factors," said the statement. That dovetails with Israel's view that peace must prevail in the Middle East before it can be made into a nuclear-free zone. "Experience shows that such a process can only be launched when normal, peaceful relations exist in the region, when the threat perception of all regional members is low, and only after basic confidence is established among states of the region," said David Danieli, Israel's deputy nuclear chief.
- Egyptian Generals Pledge to Cede Power Early - Leila Fadel and Ernesto Londono
Egypt's military chiefs pledged Tuesday to speed up the transition to democratic rule, saying they will transfer power to an elected president by July 2012. The move was announced by the country's military leader, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, in his first national address since assuming power in February. Tantawi also insisted that parliamentary elections would be held as scheduled on Monday. A sea of protesters in Tahrir Square booed Tantawi as he finished speaking, and they erupted in chants calling for his ouster. (Washington Post)
See also Egypt's Latest Uprising Has a More Violent Feel - Maggie Michael and Hamza Hendawi
The latest demonstrations against the military leaders who replaced Mubarak are more explosive and violent than those in January and February. In a sign of the greater aggression in the past four days, protesters have marched repeatedly on the headquarters of the Interior Ministry, which runs the police, and were met by a heavy response. The Tahrir protesters this time around are determined not to leave until Field Marshal Tantawi steps down along with the rest of the generals on the ruling council.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Egypt Committed to Peace Accord with Israel - Barak Ravid
Egypt is committed to its peace accord with Israel, and will act to uphold it, Egyptian officials told outgoing Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon in Cairo on Sunday and Monday. Levanon met with Egypt's intelligence chief, General Murad Muwafi, Foreign Minister Kamal Amr and other top officials, who insisted that the peace accord with Israel retains strategic importance for Egypt, so the Egyptians will uphold the agreement, despite the convulsions in the state.
See also Israel Concerned for Future of Peace Treaty If Islamists Rise to Power in Egypt
Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio on Wednesday that Israel was preparing for the possibility of a victory by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's upcoming parliamentary elections. He says once a new government in Egypt stabilizes, Israel expects a "grave erosion" of the landmark peace treaty.
- Palestinians Indicted for Murder of Israeli Man, Infant - Yair Altman
Two residents of the West Bank city of Halhul were indicted Tuesday for the nationalistically-motivated murder of Asher Palmer, 25, and his infant son Yonatan in September. The Palmers were killed when their car went off the road after it was stoned on Highway 60. The two were part of a terror cell which carried out several similar attacks in the area "with the intent to kill." The cell's leader, Ali Abdel-Hadi Ismail Sa'ada, was implicated in 23 security offences and stoning incidents on Highway 60.
- Vice President Biden Meets Top Jewish Leaders on Pollard - Gil Hoffman
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with top Jewish leaders in Washington on Monday about the fate of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard on the 26th anniversary of his arrest. The American Jewish leaders told Biden that the average sentence given to Americans convicted of Pollard's crime of spying for an ally has been two to four years and that people convicted of treason had also served much less time than Pollard. They brought up the case of Hasan Abu-Jihad, who received a 10-year sentence for spying for al-Qaeda.
Those in the meeting argued that the entire American Jewish community was now united in support of President Obama commuting Pollard's sentence.
- More Half-Measures on Iran - Editorial
On Monday the administration unveiled another series of half-steps against Iran for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and for refusing to freeze its nuclear program. Sanctions were toughened on Iran's oil industry, but there was no move to block its exports. The Iranian banking system was designated "a primary money laundering concern," but the administration declined to directly sanction the central bank.
At the forefront of the Western effort to pressure Tehran is French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who issued a statement Monday calling on "willing countries" to "immediately freeze the assets of Iran's central bank" and suspend purchases of Iranian oil.
Sanctions that stop Iran from exporting oil and importing gasoline could deal a decisive blow to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's dictatorship. By holding back on such measures, the Obama administration merely makes it more likely that drastic action, such as a military attack, eventually will be taken by Israel, or forced on the U.S.
- Strict Muslims Stake Claim on Egypt's Political Scene - Tamim Elyan and Abdel Rahman Youssef
Salafis, ultra-conservative Islamists, have overcome their distaste for politics to stake a claim on Egypt's future after Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.
"What we want is the complete commitment to Islamic sharia law," said Abdel Monem el-Shahat, a scholar and spokesman for Alexandria's leading Salafi body.
Banners of Al-Nour (Light), seen as the biggest Salafi party, feature men with long beards and shaven upper lips in the style Salafis believe the Prophet Mohammad favored, and women whose faces are hidden by veils.
Analysts say the movement may have three million devoted backers and may control 4,000 mosques nationwide, resources that could help to secure a loud voice in parliament. Salafis may take votes from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Salafism is a centuries-old purist school of Islam. It was revived in Alexandria in the 1970s by a group of university students inspired by the 19th century Wahhabi teaching in Saudi Arabia. The Salafi vision bars women and religious minorities, such as Christians, from top executive posts and seeks to ban alcohol, "un-Islamic" art and literature, and beach tourism.
- Will Jordan Become Hamas' New Home? - Zvi Bar'el
Two weeks after new Jordanian Prime Minister Awn al-Khasawneh was appointed, he announced: "The expulsion of Hamas from Jordan in 1999 was a political and legal error." The thinking in Jordan is that when Assad's regime falls, Hamas will need a new home. This is an excellent chance for Jordan to return to the center of Palestinian politics, from which it has been excluded for a decade. Qatar recently held intensive talks with Jordanian King Abdullah in a bid to advance Hamas' return to Jordan.
Hamas has still not decided which way to go. Even if Hamas is not asked to leave Syria, the new regime is likely to stop giving it the generous services supplied by Assad. Qatar could be a comfortable base, but it's far from the territories, while Jordan is conveniently near the West Bank and Gaza.
On the other hand, Hamas has had no guarantee that Jordan will agree to the opening of Hamas offices, including a communications network and perhaps logistics bases. Hamas also has a problem with Jordanian public opinion; the Jordanian elite doesn't understand why Jordan has to reconcile with Hamas after its leadership joined the Syrian-Iranian axis.
See also Jordan: Our Relations Are with PA, Not Hamas
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said Tuesday that Jordan has no intention of establishing bilateral relations with Hamas. "There are no bilateral relations with Hamas. Our relations are with the Palestinian Authority," Judeh said. He denied the possibility of reestablishing Hamas offices in Amman in the future.
Only Threat of Military Action Will Stop Iran - Michael Eisenstadt (U.S. News)
Military action is a last resort. But for nuclear diplomacy to succeed, Tehran must believe that if it tries to build a bomb, the United States will undertake military action to disrupt such an effort.
- The recent International Atomic Energy Agency report supports the conclusion that, at the very least, Tehran seeks an option to build a bomb. Believing that its nuclear program would be attacked if it sought to exercise this option might deter it from doing so, or at least cause it to defer such a decision.
- The recent plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington should be a wake-up call. It indicates that 30 years of Iranian terrorist attacks on American interests, without a U.S. military response, has convinced Tehran that it can continue to act with impunity - even on U.S. soil. Unless Washington alters Tehran's risk calculus, the U.S. may be targeted again.
- Advocates of containment frequently gloss over the fact that to work, it must be backed up with a credible threat of force; that the costs of a nuclear deterrence failure in a proliferated Middle East may be measured in millions of lives lost; and that the likelihood of a nuclear deterrence failure is not trivial, given the propensity of an embattled and increasingly insular and hard-line regime in Tehran to miscalculate and overreach.
- Paradoxically, to succeed diplomatically and to deter, the U.S. needs to be ready to use force in response to further acts of terrorism by Iran, or to an attempt by Iran to build a bomb. For the threat of force to work, however, it has to be credible, and it has to dramatically alter Iran's risk calculus. Right now, neither condition is present.
The writer is a senior fellow and director of the military and security studies program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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