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Iran Threatens Action If U.S. Carrier Returns to Gulf (Reuters)
Iran's army chief Ataollah Salehi said Tuesday that Iran will take action if a U.S. aircraft carrier which left the area because of Iranian naval exercises returns to the Gulf, the state news agency IRNA reported on Tuesday.
"Iran will not repeat its warning...the enemy's carrier has been moved to the Sea of Oman because of our drill. I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf."
Salehi did not give details of the action Iran might take if the aircraft carrier returned.
Belgian Newspaper Replaces Israel with PA on Mideast Map (European Jewish Press)
The Belgian daily Le Soir published a map of the Middle East on two consecutive days which included the words "Palestinian Authority" in place of Israel.
The paper's chief editor Didier Hamman admitted that "this is undoubtedly a mistake, I plead guilty and apologize."
Mediator in Taliban-U.S. Talks Backed Kashmir Jihad - Praveen Swami (The Hindu-India)
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Doha-based Islamist scholar who once called on his followers to back jihadist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, has emerged as a key mediator in secret talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, government sources have told The Hindu.
In 2009, Qaradawi had issued a fatwa, or religious edict, asserting that "the Kashmiris were properly fighting jihad against the Indian army."
Cal State's Chutzpah - Bruce Kesler (City Journal)
Bigotry and prejudice on university campuses against blacks, gays, or women simply isn't tolerated. Even a hint of racism or sexism is met with quick and decisive punishment. But anti-Israel rants on California's public-college campuses seem to be tolerated, politely ignored, or even tacitly condoned by the powers that be.
Consider the case of David Klein, a math professor at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), who maintains a page on the university's web server devoted to the evils of the State of Israel.
It isn't hard to imagine what would happen to a professor who used the university's website to post content opposed, say, to illegal immigration or legal abortion, especially if the subject was outside his academic field. Administrators would demand that the pages disappear.
The David Klein matter has nothing to do with academic freedom and everything to do with official hypocrisy. A professor has the right to speak on his own behalf, but not to use a public university's resources to smear Israel as a murderous oppressor.
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- Iran's Currency Hits Record Low after Latest U.S. Sanctions - Thomas Erdbrink
Iran's currency declined by 12% on Monday against foreign currencies after President Obama on Saturday signed a bill that places the Islamic republic's central bank under unilateral sanctions. The rial has lost 35% of its value since September. The slide of the rial is a huge blow to Iran's leaders, who have been claiming that the sanctions aren't hurting the country. Housing prices have risen 20 percent in the past few weeks, the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported. Private companies and importers say they are in deep trouble.
- Protests Spread to Damascus - Christine Marlow and Nick Meo
Signs of the strain being felt by the embattled Assad regime are visible even in the center of Damascus, according to fresh accounts from fleeing Syrians who talked to the Sunday Telegraph in neighboring Lebanon last week.
The government sent thuggish security forces on to the streets of the capital, which until recently have been mostly quiet. A Syrian student aged 28, who uses the name Abdullah, said: "You can often hear shooting now and sometimes bombs as well....I live in a modern, prosperous area in the center of town. We're just not used to this." He described how checkpoints had suddenly proliferated across Damascus along with security forces and sometimes even tanks.
Many Damascenes had their first taste of protest last week. Emboldened by the presence of Arab League officials in the country, thousands travelled to suburbs of the city where massive demonstrations were staged, especially Douma and Midan.
See also Rebels Seize Two Military Checkpoints in Syria - Dominic Evans (Reuters)
See also Hizbullah Reiterates Support for Syria
The head of Hizbullah's Shura Council, Sheikh Mohammad Yazbek, said Sunday that Hizbullah would remain supportive of Syria in the face of "conspiracies." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Hamas Calls on Palestinian Authority to Boycott Peace Talks with Israel
Hamas called on the Palestinian Authority Monday to boycott peace talks with Israel.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are to meet in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday under the auspices of the Middle East Quartet in the first public face-to-face parley between the sides in 15 months. Expectations are low that the meeting will lead to a breakthrough.
- Barak: Assad Will Be Toppled within Weeks - Lahav Harkov
Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime will be toppled within weeks, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
Barak said a deepening lack of unity and an increasing amount of defectors from the Syrian Army will lead to Assad's downfall.
See also IDF Bracing for Post-Assad Scenarios in Syria - Gili Cohen
The IDF is preparing for the disintegration of President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria. Along Israel's border with Syria, the IDF has not seen any signs of a change in the deployment of Syrian forces. There have been no attempts by refugees to flee to Israeli territory. The assessment in the Israeli security establishment is that the internal situation in Syria will continue to deteriorate. On Friday, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said dozens of Syrian security forces are being killed. The fall the current regime could be followed by the rise of Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.
See also Israel Worried Syria's Chemical Weapons Going to Terrorists - Yaakov Katz
Concern is growing in Israel over the possibility that Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons will fall into terrorist hands if Bashar Assad's regime falls.
Syria's extensive chemical weapons arsenal reportedly includes sarin, VX and mustard gas.
- Abbas Appoints Terrorist Released in Shalit Deal as Adviser
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed Mahmoud Damara, a convicted terrorist released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap in October, as the newest adviser in his office in Ramallah, Israel Radio reported Monday.
Damara was one of the leaders of Fatah's Force 17 special operations unit.
Under his guidance, the unit carried out 25 shooting attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank, killing 8 Israelis and wounding more than 20. Damara himself fired RPG missiles at IDF tanks during the Second Intifada.
- In 2012, No Mideast Peace Pact - Benny Avni
Palestinians are threatening to redouble their efforts at the UN unless Israel - by Jan. 26 - agrees to their terms to relaunch peace talks. Certainly none of this will advance the prospects for a quick peace deal.
Any temporary Hamas-Fatah unity regime that does manage to come together would be in no position to resume peace talks. For now, Israel, the U.S., the Europeans and the UN all regard the Gaza-based Islamists as an illegitimate negotiating partner. True, with the rest of the Arab world trending Islamist, Hamas is ascending politically. But its growing presence will only make Israeli-Palestinian talks less likely. (New York Post)
- The Unintended Consequences of America's Adventure in Iraq - Dov S. Zakheim
Ariel Sharon warned Washington prior to the Iraq invasion that toppling Saddam would benefit Iran. Just as there can be no denying that Iran was the real victor of Operation Iraqi Freedom because America defanged its only seriously powerful regional rival, so too is it true that Iraq has increasingly come to share Tehran's perspective on regional affairs. While Iraq will never allow itself to be completely dominated by Tehran, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Iraq would tolerate the basing on its soil of Iranian missiles pointed at Israel.
As for Syria, would a militant Sunni Islamist regime, closely tied to Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood branches elsewhere (notably Egypt), improve Israel's strategic position in the region? Hardly. The writer was U.S. Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) from 2001-2004.
- Iran and the Saudi Shiites - Abdullah Al-Otaibi
Iran is behind the Shiite violence directed against Saudi Arabia. Similar events have taken place in the Gulf, including the attempt to assassinate Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in Kuwait, the hijacking of a plane to Jabriya, as well as the recent attempts to interfere in Kuwait and spread violence in Bahrain.
Iran is still mobilizing its agents whenever it senses an opportunity, and whenever it wants, whether in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria or Yemen, or in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Iranian subversion directed against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf is a genuine threat.
- South Sudan, Israel's New Ally - Daniel Pipes
Under the "periphery strategy" begun by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, Israel supported non-Arabs in the Middle East, including the southern Sudanese. During the first Sudanese civil war, lasting until 1972, the government of Israel served as the primary source of moral backing, diplomatic help and armaments for the southern Sudanese.
Israel's long-term investment has paid off. South Sudan fits into a renewed periphery strategy that includes Cyprus, Kurds, and Berbers. The new republic of South Sudan represents an inspiring example of a non-Muslim population resisting Islamic imperialism.
Israeli Society Is Not Unraveling - Caroline B. Glick (Jerusalem Post)
- Despite a sudden flood of gloom and doom stories, Israeli society is extremely healthy.
Unemployment is at record lows. Israeli Jewish women have the highest fertility rate in the Western world. Education levels have risen dramatically with dozens of private colleges opening their doors.
- Israel's diverse Jewish population is becoming more integrated. Sephardic and Ashkenazi intermarriage has long been a norm.
Both the national religious and ultra-Orthodox sectors are becoming increasingly integrated in nonreligious neighborhoods and institutions.
- Ultra-Orthodox military conscription rates have increased seven-fold in the past four years. Over the past decade, ultra-Orthodox women have matriculated en masse in vocational schools that have trained them in hi-tech and other marketable professions.
- The fact that women make up the senior leadership echelons in both business and government is not a fluke. Rather it is a product of the largely egalitarian nature of Israeli society. True, as is the case everywhere, Israeli women suffer from male chauvinism. But imperfection does not detract from the fact that women in Israel are free, educated, empowered and advancing on all fronts.
- Israel's growing social cohesion and prosperity are all the more notable as we witness the cleavages between liberals and conservatives growing ever wider in America.
- In light of these integrationist trends, the media circus in recent weeks that has portrayed Israeli society as frayed through and through has been startling. We have far more that unites us than separates us. If we focus on this, there is no force either within or without our society that can defeat us.
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