Dozens of Defecting Syrian Soldiers Executed (CNN)
More than 40 Syrian soldiers trying to defect from an army unit in Idlib province were executed by government troops, activists told CNN on Saturday.
Video Shows Torture of Syrians in Homs Hospital (Telegraph-UK)
Graphic video footage appearing to corroborate allegations of the widespread use of torture in Syrian hospitals against opponents of the Assad regime has been smuggled out of the city of Homs.
It's Time to Use American Airpower in Syria - Sen. John McCain (New Republic)
The UN has declared that Syrian security forces are guilty of crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, the execution of defectors, and the widespread torture of prisoners.
The kinds of mass atrocities that NATO intervened in Libya to prevent in Benghazi are now a reality in Homs.
We have a clear national security interest in Assad's defeat. Therefore, the U.S. should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria through airstrikes on Assad's forces.
Inside the Iranian Parliamentary Elections - Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
In the elections for the Iranian parliament, just 354 candidates were allowed to compete for 290 seats, out of 5,382 who had registered.
Ayatollah Khamenei called on the people to come out to vote and "plant...a fist in the face of the enemy."
In a sign of shifting alliances, the radical Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, once considered Ahmadinejad's mentor, said: "the Iranian public indeed elected the president but in fact was deceived by him....Many realized that they made a mistake in voting for him....We must learn a lesson from the past and not repeat our mistakes."
IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center.
German Company Awarded Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Contract (IRNA-Iran)
Pakistan has offered $250 million to Germany's ILF Engineering for laying part of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline inside its territory, Geo TV reported.
The multi-billion-dollar project would be completed by 2014.
Pakistani leaders have rejected U.S. pressure to block the project.
Underwater Electric Cable to Connect Israel, Europe (AFP)
Israel and Cyprus signed an accord Sunday to lay an underwater electricity cable between them, the first stage in a bid to transfer power between the Jewish state and mainland Europe.
The cable, which the sides hope to complete by 2016, will stretch over 287 km. (178 miles) at a depth of 2,000 meters.
The "Euro-Asia Interconnect" will have a capacity to transfer 2,000 MW.
Additional underwater cables are to connect Cyprus and mainland Europe via Greece.
"Israel will be able to receive backup (electricity) from Cyprus and Europe, and in the future, we will be able to provide them with energy," said Energy Minister Uzi Landau.
Daily Alert Blog
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Netanyahu Says All Options Available to Prevent a Nuclear Iran - Meredith Buel
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country cannot afford to wait much longer for diplomacy and sanctions to deter Iran's nuclear program. Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Netanyahu said all options are on the table to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
"The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal," he said. "A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped." (Voice of America)
See also below Observations - Netanyahu to AIPAC: We Can't Afford to Wait Much Longer to Stop a Nuclear-Armed Iran (Prime Minister's Office)
- Noose Tightens Around Iranian Oil Exports - Steven Mufson and Joby Warrick
In January, China, South Korea and Singapore sharply cut their oil purchases from Iran. Last month, Shipping Corp. of India canceled an Iranian shipment because its European insurers refused to provide coverage for the tanker. And Japanese oil refiners have asked for clauses to be added to oil-purchase contracts so they can back out if they can't obtain tanker insurance. "Iran is scrambling to find buyers, but other countries are also scrambling to diversify away from what they see as risky supply," said Richard Meade, editor of Lloyd's List.
Roger Diwan, an oil expert at PFC Energy, said Iran would have trouble finding customers with an appetite for the more than 600,000 barrels a day that Europe will no longer import.
He said that before the end of the year, "the Iranians will have half a million barrels a day shut in."
- Iran Parliament Raps Ahmadinejad over Oil Cash
Iranian lawmakers accused Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government on Monday of failing to deposit billions of petrodollars with the Treasury, as the parliament's budget committee voted to refer the case of the missing oil receipts to the judiciary, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. "Based on our estimates, the value of exported crude and condensates by the end of summer (March 21-Sept 22) amounted to $53.2 billion, from which $6.4 billion should have been deposited with country's Treasury funds," budget committee spokesman Mehdi Fathias said.
"However, the Central Bank has only deposited $2.4 billion with the Treasury," Fathi said.
- Thai Police to Push for Extradition of Bangkok Terror Plot Mastermind from Iran
Thai Police Gen. Pansiri Prapawat said they will push for the extradition from Iran of Norouzi Shayan Ali Akbar, the suspected mastermind behind a bomb plot targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok last month.
Police will also ask for the extradition from Iran of Leila Rohani, who helped the suspects prior to the explosions.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu, Obama Discuss Iran at White House - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday where they agreed to increase their coordination on Iran. During their meeting, Obama told Netanyahu that Israel and the U.S. have an identical goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu told Obama: "If this will be resolved by diplomacy, great. But we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. The pressure on Iran has indeed increased, but time is getting short."
Afterward Netanyahu told journalists: "The positions I presented on the Iranian issue were accepted with understanding in the White House. What [Obama] said outside to the cameras is what he said to me during the closed meeting." (Ha'aretz)
- IDF Foils West Bank Stabbing Attack - Yair Altman
IDF forces arrested two Palestinians in possession of large knives after they were spotted trying to enter the Israeli town of Elon Moreh in the West Bank on Monday.
During the pursuit, the two fled towards the nearby Palestinian village of Azamut. They were refused shelter by several of the residents and eventually turned over to the IDF by the headmaster of the local school.
- An Unbridged Divide over Iran - Editorial
Though each man spoke of the solidity of the countries' alliance, there is little doubt that Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu continue to assess the threat from Iran and the best means of addressing it differently. While not explicitly threatening military action, Mr. Obama was clear in saying that "my policy...is not going to be one of containment," and that preventing Iran from obtaining a bomb was "profoundly in the United States' interest."
Mr. Netanyahu's government contends that Iran must be stopped not just from building a bomb but also from acquiring the capacity to do so. In addition, Israel is reluctant to allow Iran to pass into a "zone of immunity" in which key nuclear facilities might be invulnerable to Israeli attack. Though the U.S. would retain the capacity to act, Mr. Netanyahu may not countenance a situation in which Israel is not "master of its fate." (Washington Post)
See also Iran, Israel and the United States - Editorial (New York Times)
- Healing the U.S.-Israeli Trust Deficit - Josh Block
For decades, the number one rule of ally-to-ally diplomacy governing America's relations with our closest friends was straightforward: We settled our differences in private.
But when President Barack Obama's administration took office three years ago, that axiom appeared to fall out of practice - at least when it came to the U.S. relationship with Israel. The White House struck a confrontational stance with Israel from the outset, and even refused to acknowledge prior understandings.
Trust matters. If Obama was prepared to so casually toss aside previous American commitments to Israel, what possible weight could American commitments to stop Iran's nuclear pursuit provide?
In more recent months, as ideology gave way to reality, those who argued that the administration's publicly confrontational approach was faulty appear to have won the White House over to their side - a transformation that was on full display during the president's remarks at AIPAC.
It is a very high bar for an Israeli leader to put the future security of the Jewish people in the hands of another, especially when faced with the truly intolerable threat coming from a nuclear Iran - which has pledged to annihilate the Jewish state. The writer, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, is a former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
- What Obama Failed to Mention - Lenny Ben-David
In President Obama's speech to AIPAC, he referred ten times to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But did this indicate a policy decision to limit American reaction only to the final act of "obtaining a nuclear weapon"? He never voiced opposition to a "nuclear Iran," or to "Iran's nuclear capability," or to "Iran's uranium enrichment program."
The head of the pro-Iranian lobby in Washington, Trita Parsi, said after the speech:
"The president stood firm behind weaponization rather than weapons capability as the red line." "The president said: 'I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say.'...Critically, Obama's rejection of containment at AIPAC was in the context of containing a nuclear-armed Iran, not a nuclear-capable Iran." (Times of Israel)
See also Does Obama Have Israel's Back? - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
Netanyahu to AIPAC: We Can't Afford to Wait Much Longer to Stop a Nuclear-Armed Iran (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the AIPAC Policy Conference on Monday:
- "We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped."
- "Some are prepared to accept...a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs.
Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it's not crazy. It's detestable but it's deterrable.
My friends, responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world's most dangerous regimes won't use the world's most dangerous weapons."
- "From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats. It sends its own children through mine fields; it hangs gays and stones women; it supports Assad's brutal slaughter of the Syrian people; it is the world's foremost sponsor of terrorism."
- "This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons....There's been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran. I think it's time we started talking about the costs of not stopping Iran."
- "For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn't worked.
For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn't worked either....None of us can afford to wait much longer.
As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation."
Video: Netanyahu Addresses AIPAC 2012 (Fox News-YouTube)
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