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Israeli Mossad Chief in Washington Last Week for Secret Talks on Iran - Majid Asgaripour (AFP)
Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, the head of Israel's intelligence service, paid a secret visit to Washington last week to discuss Iran's nuclear program, CIA director David Petraeus and Sen. Dianne Feinstein revealed at a congressional hearing Tuesday.
See also CIA Director Petraeus: Iran Sanctions "Biting" in Recent Weeks - Tabassum Zakaria and Susan Cornwell (Reuters)
U.S. Radar in Israel Helps Turkey - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
The AN/TPY-2 x-band radar recently deployed at Kurecik Air Force base in eastern Turkey, and a twin system operating in Israel's Negev desert, are designed to provide early warning of ballistic missile launches, principally from Iran, a U.S. official in Israel said.
According to the official, the Turkish-deployed radar is facing the wrong direction to be of much help to Israel.
"In fact, the opposite is really true. Our radar here in Israel helps Turkey....Bottom line, it's in all of our interests to have an American radar [in Turkey] 400 km. from the Iranian border," he said.
Syrian Protesters Face Regime Crackdown with Humor, Creativity (AP-Washington Post)
Opposition Syrians are pouring contempt on Assad using whatever medium they can, with a humor that also helps them get through the death and destruction of the government's crackdown.
"Top Goon: Diaries of a Little Dictator" is one of several new online shows. It uses finger puppets that impersonate Bashar Assad and his inner circle.
In one episode, Assad competes against Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Moammar Gaddafi on the show "Who Wants to Kill a Million."
The New Defenders of Israel - David Suissa (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
Jarrod Jordan, an African-American activist from Atlanta, Ga., is neither a Christian evangelist nor a Jew. Yet his organization, Vanguard Leadership Group (VLG), is a vigorous defender of the Jewish state.
Last year, for example, VLG took out full-page ads in campus newspapers to counter the accusation by Students for Justice in Palestine that Israel is an apartheid state.
So, why did they do it?
"We just wanted to protect the truth," Jordan told me last week. "Our group deals with plenty of other issues, but this one struck a nerve."
In fact, the group was founded as an honor society to nurture future leaders in the black community.
Jordan visited Israel a few years ago as part of an AIPAC trip.
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Iran Stepping Up Spying, Support for Terror - Tony Capaccio and John Walcott
Iran is stepping up its support for international terrorism and its intelligence operations against the U.S., the Director of National Intelligence told Congress.
"The 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States shows that some Iranian officials - probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived actions that threaten the regime," James Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.
"According to most timelines I've heard, 2012 will be a critical year" in averting Iran's development of a nuclear weapon, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who heads the Intelligence Committee. (Bloomberg-San Francisco Chronicle)
See also A Warning on Iran - Editorial
According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, not only is Iran prepared to use terrorism in retaliation for any military strikes against it, they're also prepared to get their retaliation in first. "There is more to unfold here," he said. "They're trying to penetrate and engage in this hemisphere." If the regime is prepared to stage terrorist strikes in America when they don't have a bomb, what will they be capable of when they do have one?
(Wall Street Journal)
- Russia Blocks Tougher Security Council Action Against Syria - Colum Lynch and Will Englund
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Arab and European diplomats at the UN Security Council on Tuesday in a forceful attempt to win support for tougher action against Syria, even as Russia continued to indicate that it is unwilling to participate in a plan that would ease President Bashar al-Assad from power. "The Arab League has come to the council seeking support of the international community for a negotiated, peaceful political solution to this crisis and a responsible, democratic transition in Syria," Clinton said.
The Security Council remains deadlocked on a Western- and Arab-backed draft resolution condemning Syria's violent suppression of protesters and outlining a political road map that would lead to presidential and parliamentary elections in Syria.
Russia's UN envoy, Vitaly I. Churkin, insisted that the Security Council "cannot impose the parameters for an internal political settlement." (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Syrian Rebels Warn Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah - Roi Kais
The secretary general of the Free Syrian Army's military council warned Tuesday in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat that Syrian rebels will settle the score with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and his group once Syrian leader Bashar Assad is deposed.
- IDF Drills Mobilization under Missile Fire - Yaakov Katz
Amid predictions that Israel will come under massive missile fire in a future war, an IDF division held an exercise on Tuesday aimed at ensuring that the draft of reservists will not be disrupted by attacks. "In the past we fought wars that did not involve the home front. We understand that the next war will be different and that during the mobilization of reserves we will come under fire - in the cities and in the induction centers as well," explained Brig.-Gen. Agay Yehezkel, commander of the division. The drill simulated a scenario involving missile attacks from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.
- IDF Arrests Palestinian Prisoner Released in Shalit Swap - Gili Cohen
The Israel Defense Forces arrested Mamun Ismyail Salame Stut, a Palestinian released from Israeli prison in October as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange.
Stut was arrested for being a security threat. He was originally arrested in 2002 for attempted murder and assembling bombs.
- Egypt's Witch Hunt Threatens a Rupture with the U.S. - Editorial
There is a grotesque incongruity in the tour around Washington this week of an Egyptian military delegation even as seven Americans who work for congressionally funded pro-democracy groups are prevented from leaving Cairo and threatened with criminal prosecution. The ruling military council refuses to recognize the seriousness of the crisis it has created in the U.S.-Egyptian alliance. The persecution of the Americans is an extraordinary provocation by the generals who succeeded Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian military delegation is here on a business-as-usual mission to discuss the weapons purchases Egypt makes with the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid it receives each year. The generals regard this funding as an entitlement, linked to the country's peace treaty with Israel. They appear to believe that Washington will not dare to cut them off. If the campaign against U.S., European and Egyptian NGOs is not ended, military aid must be suspended.
- Downfall of Syria's Assad Could Undermine Iran - Rick Gladstone
Some American officials and political analysts see the possible downfall of Syria's Assad as an event that could further undermine Iran. "It would completely change the dynamic in the region," one Obama administration official said Tuesday. The departure of Assad not only would threaten to sever Syria from Iran, but also could deprive Iran of its main means of projecting power in the Middle East. If Assad were to fall, Tehran would lose its conduit for providing military, financial and logistical support to Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. (New York Times)
- Putin Stands by Assad: The Last Battle of the Cold War - Fouad Ajami
Bashar Assad has Vladimir Putin's Russian autocracy by his side. The Soviet empire has fallen, but defending a Syrian tyranny gives Russia the old sense that it still is a great power.
Syria feeds another Russian obsession: Islam. If the Chinese see Tibet everywhere, the Russians are fixated on Chechnya. In the Syrian inferno, the Russians see a secular tyranny at war with radical Islamists, and thus see in Syria a reflection of themselves.
The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
(Wall Street Journal)
- How the Arab Spring Warmed U.S.-Turkish Relations - Soner Cagaptay
President Obama and Turkish Prime
Minister Erdogan having formed what is probably the
strongest relationship between a U.S. president and a Turkish prime
minister in decades. After Ankara concluded that dictators such as Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and Syria's Assad would fall
- sooner or later - once they are challenged by the masses, Washington and Ankara began coordinating
their policies on the Arab Spring.
Cooperation has been especially deep toward Syria.
The upswing in U.S.-Turkish ties is likely to last also because of increasing tensions between Ankara and
Tehran. Turkey's return as a major player in the Middle East has stirred competition with the
region's other country seeking hegemony, Iran. This includes in Syria, with Tehran supporting and funding the Assad regime and Ankara supporting and hosting members
of the opposition. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Why Did Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Fail? - Zalman Shoval
The Palestinians' refusal to accept Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people is not a matter of semantics, but rather a declaration that they do not recognize the Jewish people's right to their own country.
Moreover, in their eyes the Jews are not a nation, they are only members of a religion - and if they are not a nation they do not deserve a country and do not have the right to self-determination like other nations.
The recent peace talks in Amman, or the peace process in general, have not progressed not just because of borders or security, or the status of Jerusalem or Palestinian refugees, but mainly due to the wholesale Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
No Wonder Israelis Don't See a Peace Partner - Steve Huntley (Chicago Sun-Times)
Representatives of Israel and Palestinians met five times in Jordan before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas halted the exploratory talks to consult with the Arab League.
- The Israelis came to the table advocating that most Israelis live under an Israeli government and most Palestinians under Palestinian sovereignty - pretty much recognized for more than a decade as the parameters for a territorial resolution to the conflict.
- Palestinian and Arab rejection of that compromise, along with continuing hostility to the idea of the Jewish state, remain the obstacles to a settlement.
- It's probably not a coincidence that the renewed talks were accompanied by a new outburst of anti-Israel incitement in the Palestinian media. Palestinian Media Watch caught one of the Palestinian Authority's highest religious officials citing Islamic tradition on PA-TV to say it was the Palestinians' destiny to kill Jews.
- Another PA-TV broadcast praised the slaughter of an Israeli family of five last year. No wonder Israelis don't see a peace partner.
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