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Germany Approves Sale of Nuke-Capable Submarine to Israel, Financing a Third of Its Cost (AP)
Germany has approved the sale of another Dolphin-type military submarine to Israel and will pay for about a third of its cost, a senior German official said Wednesday.
Israel already has three Dolphin submarines from Germany, and two more are currently under construction.
Egypt's Christians Try to Stem Islamists in Vote - Maggie Michael and Aya Batrawy (AP)
Ahead of elections, Egypt's Coptic Church discreetly told followers to vote for the Egyptian Bloc, an alliance of leftist and liberal parties sponsored by a Christian tycoon, and the country's Christian minority turned out in droves for voting Monday and Tuesday.
The prospect of an Islamist victory in the election has Egypt's Christians, who make up about 10% of the population of 85 million, terrified that one day strict Islamic law will be imposed, raising fears over the fate of a community that predates the coming of Islam to the country.
Mubarak did little to advance Christian civil rights, but his police state ensured certain lines were not crossed.
Now with Mubarak gone, the election turnout marks a shift for Christians: They increasingly feel they have to assert themselves.
Syria's Christians Side with Assad Out of Fear - Bastian Berbner (Der Spiegel-Germany)
Many of Syria's 2.5 million Christians are supporting President Bashar Assad, preferring a brutal dictator who guarantees the rights of religious minorities to the uncertain future that Assad's departure would bring.
Assad is exploiting their fears of Islamists for his own ends.
Israeli Dance Troupe Axed in Australia - Livia Albeck-Ripka (Australian Jewish News)
A multicultural folk dance festival supported by the government of Victoria has dropped an Israeli dance troupe from its program after the group refused to change its name.
Members of the Machol Israeli Dancing Club were bewildered when all references to Israel in the program were deleted, while no changes were made to Chinese, Hungarian, Armenian, Ukrainian and Irish groups.
When the troupe approached festival coordinator Marta Balan to clarify the anomaly, she said their style of dance was Jewish rather than Israeli, adding that she would not be held responsible for the "consequences" if the troupe insisted on having "Israeli" in their name.
The troupe has submitted complaints to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Multicultural Commission which funded the event.
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- Early Results in Egypt Show a Mandate for Islamists - David D. Kirkpatrick
Islamists claimed a decisive victory on Wednesday as early election results put them on track to win a dominant majority in Egypt's parliament. The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood appeared to have taken about 40% of the vote. But analysts said the ultraconservative Islamist Salafis could take as much as a quarter of the vote, giving the two groups combined control of nearly 65% of the parliamentary seats.
This week's voting took place in only a third of Egypt's provinces, including some of the nation's most liberal precincts, suggesting that the Islamist wave is likely to grow stronger as the voting moves into more conservative rural areas in the coming months.
The new majority is likely to increase the difficulty of sustaining the U.S.' close military and political partnership with post-Mubarak Egypt.
(New York Times)
U.S. Congratulates Egypt on Election (DPA)
- UK to Expel All Iranian Diplomats over Embassy Attack
The UK is to expel all Iranian diplomats following the storming of its embassy in Tehran, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced.
He ordered the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London. He said there had been "some degree of regime consent" in the attacks on the embassy and on another UK diplomatic compound in Tehran known as Qolhak Garden. Hague said the majority of those taking part had been members of a regime-backed Basij militia group.
See also Britain to Support Oil Embargo on Iran - Emma Farge
Britain will support an embargo on Iranian oil imports following the deterioration of relations between the two countries, diplomatic sources told Reuters on Wednesday. The UK "will support increased sanctions...and would likely go ahead with those sanctions unilaterally or with France and Germany," said a diplomatic source.
Britain has not recently imported Iranian oil. About 450,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil is exported to the EU. Italy buys 183,000 bpd, Spain 137,000 bpd, and France 49,000 bpd. A senior trade source said that in the event of an embargo, "Saudi Arabia would have to make up the deficit in supply." (Reuters)
See also Germany to Propose Iran Oil Embargo for EU - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Analyst: Egyptians United in Dislike of Israel - Oren Kessler
Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said he expects Islamist forces in Egypt to take around 60% of the vote: 40 to 45% for the Brotherhood, 10 to 15% for ultra-conservative Salafi parties and 5% for assorted other Islamist groups. "Liberals aren't going to do well....If the Egyptian Bloc wins 10 to 15%, that'll be a success," Hamid said.
"People tend to exaggerate how different Islamists are from non-Islamists on foreign policy. If there's anything all parties agree on it's dislike of Israel," Hamid said.
"I don't think there's a chance of an outright cancelation of the peace treaty, but I think there's certainly a possibility of renegotiating certain aspects of it or finding ways to limit its impact or operability." (Jerusalem Post)
- Egyptian Elections: Strides by the Salafists - Avi Issacharoff
In the Egyptian voting, the big surprise is the success of Al-Nour (the Party of Light ), which is identified with the Salafists and other extreme Islamic groups. This is a significant accomplishment for a group with no political experience in Egypt, and which was pursued by the Egyptian security forces until the revolution earlier this year.
The next two rounds of voting for the People's Council in Egypt's 18 other provinces will be later this month and in January, with final results expected on January 13. Then, between January and March, there will be voting for the 264 seats in the parliament's upper house.
- How Egypt's Military Contained a Second Revolution - Eric Trager
In recent days, tens of thousands of Egyptians have gathered in Tahrir Square to demand that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) cede power. Yet this second revolution has been remarkably contained since, beyond Tahrir Square, Cairo is moving as normally as ever. The generals have made Tahrir's perimeter a firm border between the revolutionary action and regular life.
An October poll conducted by the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies noted that 90% of Egyptians support the SCAF. (Even as tensions have grown between the SCAF and Egypt's political parties, recent polls still show that more than 60% of Egyptians support the military rulers.) With the parliamentary elections, which began on Monday, the number of demonstrators in Tahrir Square has plummeted.
- Palestinian Solidarity Day - The UN's Annual Attempt to Turn Back the Clock - Anne Bayefsky
The UN General Assembly on Tuesday marked the anniversary of Nov. 29, 1947, when it adopted the partition resolution, as an "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement that
announced: "The Palestinian Authority is now institutionally ready to assume the responsibilities of statehood." No matter that the Palestinian gambit for UN recognition of statehood violates UN resolutions, the Roadmap, bilateral agreements and repeated international and bilateral commitments to negotiations.
Ban also said, "Jerusalem must emerge from negotiations as the capital of two states" - despite noting that "the goal" was "a negotiated peace agreement on all final status issues including...Jerusalem." And Ban called "settlement activity" "contrary to international law," while explaining to "those in Gaza who fire rockets at Israel and smuggle weapons" that "these actions are unacceptable and contrary to Palestinian interests." (Fox News)
- New Oil Reserves Pose Threat to OPEC Dominance - S. Rashid Husain
Large new, conventional and unconventional reserves in North America, and elsewhere, are questioning the dominant role of OPEC in meeting the global oil thirst. These new developments have also sapped the urgency to develop the Saudi kingdom's own reserves - further - at this stage.
Khalid Al-Falih, the Aramco CEO, last week told the Energy Dialogue organized by the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center that the debate on energy policy had been "turned upside down" recently by growing oil and natural gas supplies.
Unconventional oil developments are dominated by oil sands in the U.S. and Canada with 2011 global production amounting to 2.3 million bpd or equivalent to production of non-OPEC member Norway. And in the meantime, rising conventional output from Brazil and Iraq are also contributing significantly to the emerging global energy landscape.
In addition, a technology-led surge in North American shale gas production has created a global gas glut over the last few years, reducing the U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern gas imports. The U.S. shale gas boom has virtually eliminated the need for U.S. liquefied natural gas imports for at least two decades. And it has reduced Russia's influence over the European natural gas market and diminished the petro-power of gas producers in the Middle East.
(Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
When Will the Arab World Internalize that Israel Is Here to Stay? - Ron Prosor (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, the 64th anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution:
- "On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN voted to partition then British-Mandate Palestine into two states: one Jewish, one Arab. Two states for two peoples. The Jewish population accepted that plan and declared a new state in its ancient homeland. It reflected the Zionist conviction that it was both necessary and possible to live in peace with our neighbors in the land of our forefathers. The Arab inhabitants rejected the plan and launched a war of annihilation against the new Jewish state, joined by the armies of five Arab members of the UN."
- "1% of Israel's population died during this assault by five armies. Think about that price. It would be the equivalent of 650,000 dying in France today, or 3 million dying in the U.S., or 13 million dying in China.
As a result of the war, there were Arabs who became refugees. A similar number of Jews, who lived in Arab countries, were forced to flee their homes as well. They, too, became refugees. The difference between these two distinct populations was - and still is - that Israel absorbed the refugees into our society. Our neighbors did not."
- "The basic question underlying our conflict for 64 years has not changed. Has the Arab world - and particularly the Palestinians - internalized that Israel is here to stay and will remain the nation-state of the Jewish people?"
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