Iran Woos Bolivia for Influence in Latin America - Ilan Berman (Daily Beast)
The new regional defense school of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, or ALBA - the eight-member economic and geopolitical bloc founded by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro - was formally inaugurated in Warnes, Bolivia, last May in the presence of Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi.
Iran, an observer nation in ALBA, is believed to have provided at least some of the seed money for the academy.
Officials estimate that up to 300 "trainers" from Iran's Revolutionary Guards are present in Bolivia - with at least some said to be providing indoctrination at the facility.
Regional experts now estimate that Bolivia could end up becoming as significant as Venezuela for Iran, both as a source of strategic resources for its widening nuclear program and as a hub for the Iranian regime's expanding asymmetric activities in the Americas.
The writer is Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council.
Israel's Southern Border Fence Progressing - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
A senior Defense Ministry official told Ynet Saturday that with the completion of 150 km. out of 220 km. of security fence being built along Israel's border with Egypt to block infiltrators from Sinai, there remain two prime locations for infiltrators: the Eilat Mountains in the south and the sand dunes near Kerem Shalom in the north.
According to the Defense Ministry, the border fence around Eilat and around the sand dunes is slated to be completed by December.
Egypt Threatens to Sue Israel Over Sinai Oil - (Egyptian Gazette)
When Egypt took the legal decision of cutting the supply of natural gas to Israel, Israel threatened to sue at an international court.
Instead of waiting for the Israelis to make a legal claim against Cairo, the Ministries of Oil and Foreign Affairs are taking the initiative and preparing the documents to sue Israel for the oil Israel obtained from Sinai between 1967 and 1977.
Ibrahim Zahran, a petroleum expert, stated that the two ministries had estimated the compensation at some $480 billion.
Buried Canaanite Treasure Unearthed at Megiddo - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
In the summer of 2010, while digging near the ancient palace at Tel Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University found a clay bowl containing a second clay bowl, inside of which was a small clay vessel, like some sort of ancient Russian nesting doll.
Only after six months did the archaeologists examine
the innermost vessel.
To their surprise, the tiny clay pot was found to contain a precious treasure of gold and silver jewelry and semiprecious stones from 3,100 years ago, said Prof. Israel Finkelstein of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures.
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- U.S. Senate Approves Tougher Iran Sanctions
The U.S. Senate on Monday approved tough new penalties on the Tehran regime to thwart its nuclear ambitions.
By voice vote, the Senate backed a measure that would target Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, require companies that trade on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose any Iran-related business to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and expand penalties for energy and uranium mining joint ventures with Tehran.
The bill also would deny visas and freeze assets on individuals and companies that supply Iran with technology that could be used to crack down on its citizens, such as tear gas, rubber bullets and surveillance equipment.
The legislation would expand U.S. sanctions to include companies involved in joint energy ventures anywhere in the world in which Tehran is a significant partner or investor.
Penalties also would be imposed on companies involved in a joint venture with Iran in the mining, production or transportation of uranium.
- China Oil Imports from Iran Rebound - Wayne Ma
China's imports of Iranian crude oil recovered in April after sharp drops earlier this year, suggesting Beijing remains a steady customer. China's April crude imports from Iran, at 1.6 million metric tons or about 390,000 barrels a day, were down almost 24% from a year earlier - but up more than 48% from March.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also South Korea Has No Plans to Halt Iran Crude - Min-Jeong Lee (Wall Street Journal)
- Palestinian Writer: Syrian Detention Facilities Are "Human Slaughterhouses"
Salameh Kaileh, 56, a prominent Palestinian writer who was jailed in Syria on April 24 for nearly three weeks, described the detention facilities as "human slaughterhouses," saying security agents beat detainees with batons, crammed them into stinking cells and tied them to beds at night. "It was hell on earth," Kaileh said Sunday after being released and deported to Jordan. He had bluish-red bruises on his legs, which he said were the result of beatings with wooden batons that were studded with pins and nails.
"I felt I was going to die under the brutal, savage and continuous beating of the interrogators, who tied me to ropes hung from the ceiling," said Kaileh. (AP-Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: No Concessions for Iran - Boaz Fyler
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said that "Iran wants to destroy Israel and is developing nuclear weapons to that end." He said that "Iran is threatening Israel and the whole world," and urged the international community to "remain firm and not make any concessions."
He added that he has heard "many voices in recent weeks that cast doubt on Iran's intentions. They say that when Iran's leaders say they want to wipe Israel off the map, they actually mean something else in Persian....I wonder what they have to say about Iran's chief of staff, who declared yesterday that his country is committed to the full destruction of Israel."
Netanyahu reiterated his demand that Iran halt all uranium enrichment, saying that it is necessary to "remove enriched nuclear material from the country and dismantle the underground nuclear facilities near Qom. This is the only way to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear bomb."
See also Israeli Defense Minister: Iran Offers Only the Appearance of Progress - Sam Ser (Times of Israel)
See also Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister: Iran Must Stop Enriching Uranium - Hillary Zaken (Times of Israel)
- Palestinians Scoff at Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation - Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinians on Monday reacted with skepticism to news about the latest "reconciliation" agreement between Fatah and Hamas. The new agreement, announced in Cairo on Sunday, calls for the implementation of the Doha Accord, which was signed between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal earlier this year.
- Iran Exploits Diplomacy to Advance Its Nuclear Program - Yehuda Yaakov
The Iranian regime is bent on acquiring a nuclear weapon, and will take full advantage of diplomacy toward this end if allowed to do so, including this week's talks in Baghdad. Indeed, the Iranian strategy of exploiting diplomacy to further advance the nuclear program is a matter of regime policy.
In both October 2003 and November 2004 the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the UK hammered out agreements they hoped would resolve the crisis. But Tehran reneged both times on its commitment to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In late 2004, Hassan Rohani, then secretary of Iran's National Security Council and head of its nuclear portfolio, exposed Tehran's strategy. In a speech to the Iranian parliament, Rohani admitted that Iran took advantage of these agreements to advance the uranium enrichment process, assemble centrifuges, and manufacture their parts. The writer is a career Israeli diplomat specializing in nuclear non-proliferation.
- Nakba, a Self-Inflicted Catastrophe - Moshe Arens
More than 5 million German soldiers were killed during World War II, and more than 2 million German civilians died during the war. In addition, millions were left homeless and millions became refugees. Yet the German people do not commemorate V-E Day as the German Nakba. The German people know that they brought the catastrophe upon themselves.
More than 2 million Japanese soldiers were killed in the war and more than 3 million Japanese civilians perished. Tokyo was firebombed, and two atomic bombs devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But the Japanese people do not commemorate their suffering during the war on V-J Day as the Japanese Nakba. They know that they brought that catastrophe upon themselves.
So what is the Palestinian Nakba all about? The Arabs intended to destroy the Jewish community in Palestine, were confident that they were going to win, but in the end lost the war. That is the origin of the Palestinian catastrophe, a catastrophe the Arabs brought upon themselves. The difference is that unlike the Germans and the Japanese, many Palestinians and their Arab supporters still harbor hopes of ultimately defeating the State of Israel and destroying the Jewish state. The writer served as Israel's minister of defense three times, as minister of foreign affairs, and as Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
- Will Lebanon Help Iran Circumvent Sanctions? - Shimon Shapira
As part of its efforts to break the grip of Western sanctions, Iran is working intensively to develop its economic ties with Lebanon.
Tehran believes it can breach the ban on financial transactions imposed by the international banking system (SWIFT) through the ongoing covert activity of one of the largest Iranian banks, Saderat, which has five Lebanese branches. None of the branches engages in regular banking activity, and it is just about certain that they are almost completely at the service of Hizbullah's economic activity.
On Nov. 24, 2011, Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, the military advisor to Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, warned: "There will be no need for Iran to launch ballistic missiles at Israel because all the Zionist cities are within the range of our ally Hizbullah's Katyushas." Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The Unification of Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
At the ceremony on Sunday marking the 45th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, held at Ammunition Hill, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
- There are people who believe that if we just divide Jerusalem, which means eventually conceding the Temple Mount, we will have peace. They believe that, but they are wrong. If we grant other forces control over the Temple Mount, we will see the situation deteriorate so quickly that it will devolve into a religious and sectarian war.
- I also know that only under Israeli rule, under Israeli sovereignty, access and freedom of religion and freedom of worship for all religions has been and will continue to be ensured. Only under Israel will the quiet be maintained; only under Israel will peace between the religions be maintained.
- Sustainable peace is made with strong nations, and an Israel without a unified Jerusalem will be like a body with a weak heart. A nation that is willing to sacrifice its heart will only convince its enemies that it lacks the willpower to fight for anything.
- Forty-five years ago, this place saw our people's determination and the iron will of our fighters. They fought like lions in these trenches against heavy machine gun fire. They fought for Jerusalem and they won.
During that same fierce battle, 36 of our best men perished - and in all of Jerusalem, 182 IDF fighters died, and Jewish history changed forever. A city divided became whole - and it will remain so.
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