"If He Could, Assad Would Do to Us What He's Doing to His Own People" - Eli Leon (Israel Hayom)
"Syria today has the largest chemical weapons stockpile in our neighborhood. These missiles can reach any point in Israel and therefore we must remain vigilant," IDF
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh said on Sunday.
"What the Syrians are doing to their own people they would do to us if they got the chance."
U.S. Exempts India, Not China, from Iran Sanctions - Timothy Gardner and Susan Cornwell (Reuters)
The U.S. extended exemptions from its tough, new sanctions on Iran's oil trade to seven more economies on Monday, leaving China the last remaining major importer exposed to possible penalties at the end of the month.
In the latest sign Washington is working with other countries to pressure Iran's nuclear program, India, South Korea, Turkey and four more economies will receive waivers from financial sanctions in return for significantly cutting purchases of Iranian oil, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
U.S. Opposes Forcing Iran to Reveal Assets - Joanna Paraszczuk (Jerusalem Post)
Lawyers for American victims of a Hamas triple suicide bombing who successfully sued Iran for damages have slammed the U.S. Department of Justice's backing of a court ruling preventing the plaintiffs from obtaining information about Iran's U.S.-based assets.
The plaintiffs had served Iran with a request to produce documents regarding all of its U.S.-based assets.
However, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief supporting Iran's request to shield its assets from discovery requests, saying: "Compelling a foreign state to produce extensive material pertaining to its assets may impose significant burdens and impugn the state's dignity, and may have implications for the United States' foreign relations."
Netanyahu Injures Leg at Jewish-Arab Soccer Match - Attila Somflavi (Ynet News)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tore a tendon in his leg on Monday during a soccer match with Jewish and Arab youths in Jerusalem.
During the soccer match, Netanyahu "slipped on the grass, got up, continued to play and scored a goal," the Prime Minister's Office said.
Doctors put his leg in a cast. "Tomorrow I will go back to the Prime Minister's Office and continue to play on other fields for the benefit of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said.
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- U.S. Fears Fresh Massacre in Syria - Richard Spencer and Peter Foster
The U.S. fears Bashar al-Assad is preparing to carry out a fresh massacre in an opposition stronghold as his regime unleashed helicopter gunships on rebel cities across Syria. U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland voiced "deep alarm" for the fate of Haffa, amid reports that government tanks and heavy artillery had surrounded the town.
"We remind Syrian commanders of one of the lessons from Bosnia: The international community can and does learn what units were responsible for crimes against humanity and you will be held responsible for your actions," Nuland said.
- Syrian Children Used as Human Shields, Says UN Report
Syrian troops have tortured children and used them as human shields on tanks to prevent attacks by opposition forces, a UN report says.
The UN's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict said children were being tortured in detention and slaughtered in massacres.
- Iran Feels Sanctions Pain as Oil Income Slumps - Peg Mackey and Alex Lawler
Iran's state finances have come under unprecedented pressure as oil income plummets due to tightening Western sanctions and sharply falling oil prices.
Shipments of crude oil from Iran are already down by more than a quarter, or about 600,000 barrels per day, from rates of 2.2 million bpd last year. Tehran is already estimated to have lost more than $10 billion in oil revenues this year. Causing even more pain, oil prices fell below $100 a barrel last week to a 16-month low. According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran needs oil at $117 a barrel to balance its budget. Barrels counted upon arrival in Iran's top four customers - China, India, Japan and South Korea - show a 20% decrease, or 357,000 bpd, so far this year.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Nuclear Confrontation: The Islamic World Needs to Have the Atomic Bomb - Joanna Paraszczuk
Alireza Forghani, an analyst and strategist allied with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, published an op-ed on Monday in the Revolutionary Guards-linked Fars News titled "Nuclear Confrontation: The Islamic World Needs to Have the Atomic Bomb." He
writes that the "Islamic world should arise and scream that an atomic bomb is our right, and so smash America's and Israel's dreams."
The essay sets out what Forghani says are the religious foundations for Islamic states to stockpile nuclear weapons.
- Israel's Enemies Boosting Intelligence-Gathering Efforts - Yaakov Katz
Efforts by Israel's enemies to gather intelligence on the IDF have increased recently, particularly by use of signal intelligence capabilities, a senior Military Intelligence officer warned on Monday. "We are seeing an improvement by the other side in its ability to gather intelligence," the officer said. "They can buy civilian equipment to gather intelligence and there is also the ability of a number of groups with varying capabilities to work against us." (Jerusalem Post)
- EU-Funded PA TV Program: Suicide Terrorists Are "Greatest Role Models" - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Last week, Israel transferred the bodies of 91 terrorists including numerous suicide bombers to the Palestinian Authority. A PA TV program for youth, co-produced by PYALARA, an NGO funded by the EU, Save the Children and other international donors, glorified the 91 terrorists, saying:
"They are the greatest role models for us." (Palestinian Media Watch)
See also UN-Supported Palestinian Puppet Show:
"Replace Cigarettes with Machine Guns" - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
A Palestinian NGO, the Burj Luq-Luq Social Center Society, funded by UNICEF, UNESCO, the French consulate, and other international donors, performed a puppet show for children in east Jerusalem to promote non-smoking. The puppet told the children: "Jerusalem doesn't need men who hold cigarettes. It needs men who hold machine guns." (Palestinian Media Watch)
- Syria Rebels Gaining Ground, Strength - Liz Sly
An increasingly effective Syrian rebel force has been gaining ground in recent weeks, stepping up its attacks on government troops and expanding the area under its control. However, the lightly armed rebels are still a long way from being able to inflict defeat on the superior Syrian army.
The Syrian rebels "are never going to be capable of driving on Damascus and driving out the regime," said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who is now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. But, he said, with their repeated hit-and-run attacks on Syrian outposts and convoys, it is clear that "they're increasing pressure on the regime, increasing attrition and increasing defections." "People have been calling them a ragtag force, and I just don't think that's accurate anymore. I would describe them as an increasingly capable guerrilla force."
Joseph Holliday, a researcher for the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, added: "They're making it really hard for the regime to move around, for them to get out of their little checkpoints that they're barricaded into." (Washington Post)
- Bring Syria to Justice - Bernard Kouchner
The urgency of the crisis [in Syria] demands an appeal to international justice. We know the International Criminal Court opens cases at the request of the Security Council, and we know that for now Russia and China would block that.
But the UN secretary general can recommend an investigation by the prosecutor of the ICC. And the victims themselves have the right to refer a case to the court. It is imperative that we support them.
All human rights organizations must demand that international justice be satisfied. The ICC must start an investigation.
We did it, successfully, in the Balkans, in Liberia and most recently in Guinea. And the signatories of the Treaty of Rome must support the victims with all the power of their diplomacy. The writer is a former foreign minister of France.
(New York Times)
- Stand Up on Syria:
How to Help without Invading - Amir Taheri
With the Annan "peace plan" all but acknowledged to be a failure, a new diplomatic game is shaping up around Syria: "waiting for Russia," as Western leaders hope Moscow will persuade Assad to accept a peaceful transition. The trouble is that the Western democracies' perceived weakness is producing the opposite effect - encouraging Russia to intensify its efforts to keep Assad in power.
While Moscow and Tehran might well back Assad as long as they think he has an even chance of survival, neither would want to get involved in an endless war so that Assad can carve himself a mini-state on the Mediterranean.
(New York Post)
Israel's Strategic Reality - Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- A nuclear Iran is going to create a dramatic change in the region. The first lesson certain leaders learned from the Arab Spring is to get nuclear capability and become immune to outside pressure. They consider Gaddafi to have made a big mistake when he gave up his nuclear program. No one would have dared to use force in dealing with him. No one would have dared to use force against Saddam Hussein in 1991 or 2003 if he would have had a nuclear capability.
- Next, imagine the behavior of radical non-state actors under an Iranian nuclear umbrella. They will be more aggressive and will dare to do things that perhaps right now they are not willing to do. After the Mumbai terrorist attack, a senior Indian military officer replied to our question of why India did nothing, when everyone knew who was behind the attack. He said that when the other side has a nuclear capability and a will to use it, you think twice.
- From Israel's perspective, the regional turmoil is not a “spring.” A year ago our assessment was that these revolutions will be hijacked by others and this has come true. We think the risks for the mid-term and long-term are greater than the opportunities. These revolutions were hijacked by well-organized groups with a solid agenda and ideology, and the dominant tone is Islamist, colored by the Muslim Brotherhood.
- In Syria, the day after Assad's regime comes to an end there is a possibility that this major player will be removed from the radical axis. But we do not know who will be in control of Syria's huge stockpile of strategic chemical and biological weapons.
- Israel's ability to achieve a decisive outcome from any conflict has also changed. We have the capability to hit any adversary very hard, but the last rocket may well be fired from the other side. There will be no more knockouts. In future conflicts, we may be exchanging fire until the last minute, and we will not see a white flag being waved.
Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel is commander of the Israel Air Force and former Head of the IDF Planning Directorate.
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