Poll: Opposition to Iran Gaining Nuclear Weapons Widespread in 21 Nations, Including Egypt (AP-Washington Post)
Opposition to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is widespread around the world, including in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, and support for tough economic sanctions is high, according to a Pew Global Attitudes poll released Friday.
In the survey of 21 nations, support for military intervention to prevent Iran from going nuclear was highest in the U.S. at 63% and lowest in Russia at 24%, while at least 50% in Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic favored military action.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received highly negative ratings in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Lebanon, though nearly half of Pakistanis viewed him favorably.
U.S., Allies Accelerating Plans to Secure Chemical Arsenal as Syrian Crisis Worsens - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
The Obama administration is accelerating its planning with intelligence and military officials from at least seven Middle Eastern allies to secure Syria's stocks of chemical weapons with special operations troops, U.S. and Middle Eastern security officials say.
"There's a big worry that things could fall apart quickly," said a former U.S. intelligence official who has been briefed about the contingency plans.
Western intelligence agencies made similar plans to safeguard chemical munitions in Libya last year during the uprising there.
Poll: Support for Islamists Declines as Egypt's Election Nears - Mohamed Younis and Ahmed Younis (Gallup)
Less than half of Egyptians (42%) polled in April say they support the Muslim Brotherhood, a noticeable decline from 63% who said the same in February, according to recent Gallup surveys.
Additionally, only 36% of Egyptians think it is a "good thing" for the Muslim Brotherhood to hold a strong and influential position in the country's parliament, while 47% now think it is a "bad thing."
Palestinians Will Lose Jobs If West Bank Boycott Persists - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
Those who would be harmed the most by moves to boycott West Bank products are the 15,000 Palestinian workers employed in those factories.
Yehuda Cohen, a factory owner in the Barkan Industrial Park, which has been boycotted by the Palestinian Authority for nearly two years, said: "These industrial zones are the most beautiful thing there is - we live and make a living together. This is an example of how you can live peacefully in this area."
Cohen, who employs 40 Palestinian workers, said his employees are very concerned about the situation: "They tell me that they are worried about it, that it's a mistake and that it will harm them."
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- Top Commander Reiterates Iran's Commitment to Full Annihilation of Israel
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Maj.-Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi said threats and pressures cannot deter Iran from its revolutionary causes and ideals, and stressed that the Iranian nation will remain committed to the full annihilation of the Zionist regime of Israel to the end.
He told a defense gathering in Tehran on Sunday, "The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel."
The top military official reminded that the Iranian Supreme Leader considers defending Palestine as a full religious duty and believes that any kind of governance and rule by anyone other than the Palestinians is an instance of usurpation. (Fars-Iran)
- World Powers Forge Joint Approach to Iran Talks - Paul Richter
The U.S. and five other countries have agreed to offer a joint proposal to Iran when they meet in Baghdad on May 23.
The six powers will offer to help Iran fuel a small reactor used for medical purposes, and to forgo imposing further UN economic sanctions.
In exchange, Iran must agree to halt producing 20%-enriched uranium and to surrender its stockpile of the material. The proposal also calls for Iran to halt operations at an underground enrichment facility, near the city of Qom, that is relatively invulnerable to military attack.
Diplomats acknowledged Iranian negotiators are highly unlikely to accept the opening bid without seeking significant conditions or concessions of their own.
The deal would not help Tehran achieve its main goal, which is getting the U.S. and Europe to lift sanctions on their oil and gas industry and central bank, and to cancel a European embargo on purchases of Iranian oil that is scheduled to take effect on July 1. "We won't reverse the sanctions simply because of promises," said one senior official. "Verifiable confidence-building steps will be needed."
The opening negotiating position was hammered out in recent secret discussions by the P5+1 group, which includes the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The support of Russia and China, who have often split with the West on Iran's nuclear program, "is a significant statement," said Secretary of State Clinton in an interview with USA Today.
(Los Angeles Times)
- Thousands of Anti-Assad Protesters Rally in Syria - Mariam Karouny
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired in the air on Friday to break up thousands of anti-government demonstrators in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, in a second consecutive day of street protests.
"The people want the fall of the regime!" chanted protesters in footage distributed by opposition activists.
In Damascus, activists said security forces shot and killed two protesters in the southern district of Tadamun, wounding at least five people.
Similar rallies took place in several other cities across Syria.
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- Netanyahu: Israel Will Continue to Build Jerusalem and Keep It United - Barak Ravid and Nir Hasson
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a ceremony marking Jerusalem Day that the Israeli capital will never be divided and that building in Jerusalem will continue.
"We will protect Jerusalem," Netanyahu said. "Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart. Our heart will never be divided again."
"A nation willing to sacrifice its heart will convince its enemies that it is willing to give up on everything," he warned, and said that he does not believe that abandoning the Temple Mount to a different power will preserve the freedom of religion.
"I know there are people who say that there will be peace if we only divide Jerusalem. I don't believe this," he said. "We will continue to build Jerusalem." (Ha'aretz)
See also Video: Jerusalem Day Celebration 2012
Tens of thousands of Israelis, many carrying flags, celebrated the 45th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Sunday.
- Israel Uncovers Palestinian Kidnapping Cell in West Bank - Gili Cohen
Security forces intercepted a Palestinian terror cell affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) that attempted to kidnap Israeli citizens in the West Bank, the Israel Security Agency indicated Sunday. The cell's nine members, all residents of the Ramallah area, were led by Muhammad Ramadan, 22, of al-Bireh. According to the indictment in the Judea military court, members attempted to kidnap Israelis on three different occasions, driving a rental car and equipped with a taser, tear gas, clubs and a replica gun.
Driving in the Benjamin area north of Jerusalem, they sought to stun Israeli drivers and hide them in a cave or a safe house.
They then planned to film their victim, and upload the video to the Internet in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners.
On March 11, cell members assaulted an Israeli driver between Rantis and Kiryat Sefer, but he got away.
On the following day, they attacked a female Israeli driver near Ma'ale Levona. She managed to escape.
The third attempt took place on March 15, when cell members blocked the car of a woman driving with her daughter from Givat Asaf to Beit El.
This time they managed to shatter the windshield, but fled after another Israeli vehicle arrived.
See also Mother Recalls West Bank Kidnapping Attempt - Itamar Fleishman
Two months ago Palestinians attempted to kidnap Yael Shahak and her 8-year-old daughter when they were driving to Beit El in the West Bank. After blocking her vehicle, "one of them took a wrench which he used to shatter the car's front windshield. At that moment I understood that they were going to kill me and my daughter....There were four men in front of me....I will never forget the look on the terrorist's face, who in less than a minute became an animal looking to murder us." (Ynet News)
- Six-Day War Vet Reflects on the War that Changed History - Melanie Lidman
At 2 a.m. on June 6, 1967, Shimon Cahaner was advancing with his paratroop unit toward the Rockefeller Museum in east Jerusalem, the scene of fierce fighting and many casualties.
Almost immediately, their battalion commander was wounded, and Cahaner was thrust into the leadership. "I knew in my head that this was something historic," Cahaner recalled on Friday, 45 years later. "I knew it was a very important event, and a really important war for the Jewish people....Jerusalem is not the same as any other place."
15 years ago Cahaner took part in a mission that united Israeli commanders who fought in Jerusalem with their Jordanian counterparts.
"We were ready to kill each other 30 years ago....But the Jordanians told us, 'We fought like lions. But you, you fought like people who are ready to give your lives for Jerusalem. Every time we saw people who were wounded, we thought we had stopped you. But it was impossible to stop you.'"
"If we don't educate about our right to Jerusalem, we could lose Jerusalem," Cahaner said. Without our history, he added, we are nothing.
- Prospects for Success in the Iran Nuclear Negotiations - Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji
If Tehran decides to make a concession, it will not want the move to be publicly perceived as a capitulation to economic pressure. Instead, the regime would need to present any nuclear accord as a victory for Iran. So the triumphalist tone of recent articles should be seen as an indication that Tehran is preparing the public for a deal.
The most important measure of success for the Baghdad talks is whether they conclude with plans for accelerated, detailed follow-up discussions. If the next high-level meeting is another five weeks away, that would be a very bad sign. A leisurely pace would suggest that Iran is using the talks to stall while its nuclear program progresses. Unless all parties feel the time pressure, the Baghdad negotiations and subsequent talks will become a sideshow to the main act: Iran's continued nuclear progress.
Patrick Clawson is director of research at The Washington Institute. Mehdi Khalaji is a senior fellow at the Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Olympic Silence - Editorial
The world is now preparing for another Olympics. Israeli officials and two members of the U.S. Congress, acting on behalf of two widows of Israeli athletes murdered in Munich, made a simple and human request: that when the nations of the world descend on London in July, the athletes and the cheering crowds pause for a minute of silence. Just for a minute. But the International Olympic Committee said no.
A moment of silence does not seem to be too much to ask, especially considering the brutality of the murders and the fact that the victims were killed not on the streets of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv but rather inside the Olympic village as participants in the Games. The Munich massacre should be commemorated not primarily as an Israeli tragedy, but as a tragedy "within the family of nations," as Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has noted.
On Iran, It's Time for Obama to Set Clear Lines for Military Action - Jamie Fly and Matthew Kroenig (Washington Post)
The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to stress the possibility and desirability of a diplomatic solution, and to make clear that the military option is a last resort.
But despite the optimism that came out of the negotiations last month in Istanbul, there is little reason to believe that Iran is serious about doing anything other than using the coming weeks to enrich more uranium and make progress toward a nuclear weapon.
- The U.S. must not only lay out the curbs on Iran's nuclear program that Washington would be willing to reward, but also clearly outline what advances in Iran's nuclear program it would be compelled to punish with military force.
- Over the past six years, the international community has engaged in an intense diplomatic effort to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program. All the while, the program has continued to progress, reaching disturbing milestones. Iran now possesses more than 100 kg. of 20%-enriched uranium, having done 90% of the work required to get to weapons-grade material.
- If we wait until Iran turns the final screws on a nuclear device, we probably will be too late. Once Iran has the fissile material, the game is over.
No one wants military action. But drawing red lines linked to the guaranteed use of force by Washington and its allies could be the best way to avoid conflict.
Jamie Fly served as director for counterproliferation strategy on the National Security Council staff of the George W. Bush administration. Matthew Kroenig served as adviser on Middle East policy in the office of the secretary of defense from 2010 to 2011.
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