Who Is Responsible for the Gaza Electricity Crisis? - Omar Ghraieb (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
Hassan Younis, the Egyptian minister of energy and electricity, put the onus for the electricity blackouts in Gaza on Hamas.
Cairo is prepared to supply fuel at low cost to Gaza in consideration of the hardships of life there, he said, but it wants the supplies to be shipped in an orderly fashion, through Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing.
Instead, he said, Hamas wants to rip off Egyptian taxpayers by buying energy that is subsidized by the Egyptian government for its own people and smuggle it through the network of tunnels running under the Gaza border, where Hamas can then collect import taxes on the fuel.
See also Power Crisis Leaves Gazans in the Dark - Adel Zaanoun (AFP)
Iran's Centrifuge "Workshops" Add to Difficulties Facing Israel - Viola Gienger and Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg-San Francisco Chronicle)
Iran's "workshops" for making nuclear centrifuges and components for the devices are widely dispersed and hidden, adding to the difficulties of a potential military strike by Israel, according to a new report by U.S. congressional researchers.
See also Israel: Possible Military Strike Against Iran's
Nuclear Facilities (Congressional Research Service)
Ethnic Cleansing of Syrian Christians - Frank Crimi (Front Page Magazine)
Syria's Orthodox Christian Church reports "ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians" by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant groups in the Syrian city of Homs.
The Vatican news agency Fides says Brigade Faruq, which has links with al-Qaeda in Iraq and Islamist mercenaries from Libya, has expelled 90% of Christians living in Homs, nearly 50,000 people.
Reportedly, the armed Islamists went door to door in the Christian neighborhoods, informing homeowners that if they did not leave immediately they would be shot.
Barnabas Aid, a relief agency assisting Syrian Christians, reported that in February armed Islamists murdered more than 200 Christians, "including entire families with young children."
Syria's Circassians "Seek Return" to Russia - Marc Bennetts (RIA Novosti-Russia)
Large numbers of Syria's Circassian community are seeking a return to their traditional homeland in Russia's North Caucasus as fighting in Syria intensifies, Russian Federation Council senator Albert Kazharov said on Monday.
Over 100 members of Syria's Circassian community sent an appeal to Russian President Medvedev in December asking to be repatriated, Russian media reported.
Circassians were exiled en masse from their North Caucasus homeland to the Ottoman Empire by Tsarist Russian forces in the 19th century.
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- Two Syrian Colonels Gunned Down in Aleppo
Gunmen struck Thursday in the heart of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a stronghold of support for President Bashar Assad, killing two army colonels. Syria's state news agency said four gunmen opened fire on Abdel-Karim al-Rai and Fuad Shaban, who were on their way to work.
- Iran Oil Exports Slow - Bill Spindle and Benoit Faucon
Iran's oil exports appear to have dropped as buyers prepare for tough new sanctions, market observers say. By the end of March, with three months until a EU embargo on Iranian oil takes effect, Iran's exports are expected to fall by about 300,000 barrels a day from last month, to 1.9 million barrels daily, a nearly 14% drop, according to Swiss oil-shipping specialist Petro-Logistics SA.
(Wall Street Journal)
- State Department Spokesman Refuses to Say Whether Jerusalem Is the Capital of Israel - Daniel Halper
There was an amazing exchange Wednesday at the State Department press briefing when the press secretary refused to say that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. "We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem," State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said in response a question.
Later, an apparently irritated spokesperson again repeated her commitment not to answer the simple question. "I don't have anything further to what I've said 17 times on that subject," said Nuland.
See also Israel Unfazed by U.S. Refusal to Say Jerusalem Is the Capital - Raphael Ahren
"Jerusalem is Israel's capital by decision of the Knesset and nothing can change that," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "Every country is entitled to choose its own capital and it is not for others to designate anyone else's capital. It's our capital, no matter what anyone else is saying." (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: Natural Gas Finds Could Help Palestinians and Jordan - Sharon Udasin
Speaking at the Economist magazine's "Investment Energy Summit" in Athens on Wednesday, Israel's Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said,
"Naturally, the immediate export of natural gas will be to our neighbors the Palestinians and the Jordanians, and I believe that this connection will be an important step in building trust and peace in the region."
See also Natural Gas a Gateway to the Future - Sharon Udasin
At the moment, Israel is using 90% of its natural gas supply toward generating electricity, but with a heavily increased supply, it could consider using some for transportation purposes, said Ariella Berger, head of oil-alternatives research at the Israel Institute for Economic Planning.
- Israel's Nanotechnology Future on Display - David Shamah
Israel has emerged as a world center of nanotechnology research, on display at NanoIsrael 2012, the third international conference on all things nano being held in Israel. Nava Swersky Sofer, who chaired the conference, says that among innovations developed recently in Israel using nanotechnology are a $10 DNA test, which squeezes molecules through a tiny channel in a body cell to take readings; a system using tiny bacteria to reduce pollutants in internal combustion engines to almost zero; and using nano-based ingredients to give food the taste and texture of a full measure of sugar and fat, while reducing calories to super-strict diet levels.
(Times of Israel)
- Kofi Annan's Plan for Syria Is Destined to Fail - David Schenker
President Assad has agreed to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's six-point plan to end the bloodshed in Syria. Al-Assad was wise to do so. The UN initiative is a boon to the dictator and a setback for the opposition. The plan not only perpetuates, but legitimates al-Assad's continued rule. In accepting this UN roadmap, Assad, as usual, is playing for time.
The longer the conflict drags on, the more Islamist the opposition is becoming. Counterproductive UN efforts like the Annan plan will do little to reverse this trend.
The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
See also Syria: The Evil Results of Doing Good - Robert Grenier (Al Jazeera)
- Israel, Iran, and Hizbullah - Andrew Exum
The assumption that Hizbullah would respond to an Israeli strike on Iran by attacking Israel remains a good one. However, even if Hizbullah's senior leadership continues to pledge its fealty to the supreme leader in Tehran, there is ample reason to doubt Hizbullah is enthusiastic about attacking Israel again. People living in southern Lebanon and the predominantly Shiite suburbs of southern Beirut have a lot more to lose today, materially. Hizbullah knows this, and it knows the war in 2006 was painful for its constituency.
Israelis worried in the aftermath of the war in 2006 that they had lost their deterrence capability. They could not have been more wrong. From the perspective of Hizbullah, each major Israeli offensive in Lebanon has been progressively more severe. All of them laid the groundwork for a pretty credible deterrent threat. In fact, in 2006, the Iranians just might have lost their deterrent capability. Israelis weathered the war relatively well, with very few civilian casualties despite a 34-day bombardment of northern Israel by Hizbullah's missiles. If the cost of a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities were a similar assault from southern Lebanon, that would be a price Israel could live with.
Another scenario, also quite possible, is one in which Israel pre-empts any action by Hizbullah by attacking targets in Lebanon - specifically, sites suspected of housing Hizbullah's medium-range rockets - simultaneous to an attack on Iran. The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. (World Politics Review)
- Iran: Shadowboxing vs. a Rationally Genocidal Regime - Elihu D. Richter and Yael Stein
The Iranian leadership is rationally using the implements of modern technology to pursue
irrational imperatives: conquest, intimidation, subordination. The Iranian leadership stepped back from advancing its nuclear ambitions when threatened - for example, during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. And it moves forward when it perceives it has received a respite.
Scholars of genocide know that words kill, especially when they come from authoritarian leaders. When leaders incite and use hate language, they are signaling their real intentions. Architects and perpetrators of genocide mean what they say and say what they mean, and usually act on what they say. The use of hate language by leaders to incite is itself a crime against humanity.
Precisely because the mullahs are rational, they will move as fast as they can to get as close as they can to having the bomb. Having invested so much political and economic capital in nuclear enrichment, it would be irrational for the mullahs to stop so close to the finish line.
Iran will be "using" the fact they have the bomb every day - to threaten, extort and intimidate, especially as the U.S. projects an image of self-imposed decline. Paradoxically, it is the threat of the use of force that increases the probability that it will never have to be used. Think of Iran as the school bully.
Elihu D. Richter MD and Yael Stein MD, of the Hebrew University Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, research the cause-effect relationships between incitement and genocide.
(Times of Israel)
Why Does the International Community Hate Israel So Much? - Victor Davis Hanson (Defining Ideas-Hoover Institution)
Not long ago, the Economist ran an unsigned editorial blaming Middle East tensions on Israel's unwillingness "to give up its empire." It is hard to fathom how a democracy of seven million people by any stretch of the imagination is an "empire."
- Israel, after all, fought three existential wars over its 1947 borders, when the issue at hand was not manifest destiny, but the efforts of its many enemies to exterminate or deport its population.
After the 1967 war, Israeli governments eventually withdrew from the Sinai, southern Lebanon, and Gaza - areas from which attacks were and are still staged against it.
- Does the world much care about the principle of occupation? Not really. Russia won't give up the southern Kurile Islands it took from Japan. Tibet ceased to exist as a sovereign country when it was absorbed by Communist China. Turkish forces since their 1974 invasion have occupied large swaths of Cyprus.
- The green line that runs through downtown Nicosia to divide Cyprus makes Jerusalem look united in comparison. Over 500,000 Jews have been ethnically-cleansed from Arab capitals since 1947. Why are they not considered refugees the way the Palestinians are?
- The point is not that the world community should not focus on Israel's disputes with its neighbors, but that it singles Israel out for its purported transgressions in a fashion that it does not for nearly identical disagreements elsewhere.
The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
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