Israel Gets Natural Gas Supplement from Offshore Well (Reuters)
A U.S.-Israeli consortium began supplying Israel with natural gas from its offshore Pinnacles well on Wednesday to help stave off a national energy shortage expected this summer.
Egypt terminated a natural gas deal that had provided Israel with 40% of its natural gas supplies.
Noble Energy, which leads the Pinnacles group, said they were starting to supply Israel with 150 million cubic feet of gas per day almost a month ahead of schedule.
How the U.S. Is Using Technology to Aid Syria's Rebels - Jay Newton-Small (TIME)
Abu Ghassan, a former engineer, was picked by local Syrian dissident leaders to go abroad for sophisticated training in computer encryption, circumvention of government firewalls and secure use of mobile phones - courtesy of the U.S. State Department.
As U.S. officials have revealed to TIME, the Obama administration has been providing media-technology training and support to Syrian dissidents by way of small nonprofits like the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Freedom House.
Viral videos of atrocities, like the footage Abu Ghassan produced, have made Assad one of the most reviled men on the planet, helping turn the Arab League against him and embarrassing his few remaining allies almost daily.
Sowing Hatred in Venezuela - Ben Cohen (Tablet)
Henrique Capriles, the youthful governor of Miranda state in Venezuela, has launched a campaign to rid the country of Hugo Chavez at the presidential election scheduled for October.
Chavez has been pounding away at Capriles' reputation, demonizing him as an agent of capitalism, gringoism, imperialism, and - critically - "Zionism," which for many is interchangeable with "Judaism."
Capriles may be a devout Catholic, but he comes from Jewish stock. His mother's family, the Radonskis, were Jewish emigres from Poland; his great-grandparents were exterminated in the Treblinka concentration camp.
His father is descended from the long-established Sephardic community on the Caribbean island of Curacao.
Venezuela's Jewish community has declined under Chavez from a height of 30,000 to just 9,000.
The Berber Reawakening in Libya - Nicolas Pelham (New York Review of Books)
North Africa's indigenous Berbers - or Imazighen as they prefer to call themselves - depict Gaddafi's rule as four decades of unremitting Arabization.
To erase their ethnicity, they say, Gaddafi labeled them mountain Arabs, replaced their historic place-names with Arab ones, and suppressed the Ibadi school of Islam that many Imazighen follow on account of its more egalitarian bent.
Unlike Sunnis, the mainstream Ibadi school opens up leadership of the Muslim community to all ethnic groups, not only the Quraish, the Prophet Muhammad's Arab tribe.
Amazigh leaders estimate - somewhat optimistically - that they make up 25% of Libya's six million people.
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- Tehran Hardens Nuclear Stance - Farnaz Fassihi
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, told Iran's parliament on Wednesday that Iran wouldn't compromise on its right to enrich uranium, casting doubts on whether the country could reach a deal during talks with international powers in Moscow this month.
Jalili's narrative suggested a hardening of Iran's position. He said Iran had recently threatened to pull out of the talks if they only focus on the nuclear issue and don't address Iran's other concerns such as human rights in Bahrain and piracy in the Persian Gulf. Jalili also suggested the West was conducting a colonial war against Iran to keep it from scientific advancement. (Wall Street Journal)
- Obama Awards Peres Medal of Freedom at White House Dinner - Kate Andersen Brower and Matt Bok
Israeli President Shimon Peres was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, who praised his guest at a White House dinner for his "extraordinary" service.
"In him we see the essence of Israel itself: an indomitable spirit that will not be denied," the president said Wednesday in honoring Peres, 88, who has served in the Israeli government since 1952.
See also below Observations: President Peres at the White House (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Why Did the U.S. Exclude Israel from the New Counterterrorism Forum? - Josh Rogin
At Turkey's insistence, Israel was not invited to the June 7 meeting in Istanbul of the new Global Counterterrorism Forum. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) wrote to Secretary of State Clinton on Monday to protest the Obama administration's decision to exclude Israel from the new forum.
"As you know, there are few countries in the world that have suffered more from terrorism than Israel, and few governments that have more experience combating this threat than that of Israel," they wrote.
"Obviously the U.S. is looking to adhere to the wishes of Turkey," said Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "But since this is a U.S.-sponsored event, hosted in Turkey, the U.S. should not be listening to anybody about whom they should or should not invite." (Foreign Policy)
- After Seeing Arab Spring as an Opportunity, Iran Meets a Largely Closed Door in Egypt
Iran once saw the Arab Spring uprisings as a prime opportunity, hoping it would open the door for it to spread its influence in countries whose autocratic leaders long shunned Tehran's ruling clerics.
Yet in Egypt, Iran has been met with the deep mistrust felt by many in the mainly Sunni Muslim country toward the non-Arab Shiites - as well as Cairo's reluctance to sacrifice good relations with Iran's rivals, the U.S. and the oil-rich Arab nations of the Gulf. In a sign of the mistrust, Egyptian security and religious authorities have raised an alarm in recent weeks that Iran was trying to promote Shiism in the country.
"Arab Spring revolts have been a disaster for Iran," said Michael W. Hanna, a Middle East expert from New York's Century Foundation. "It wants to ride those revolts as an extension of its own revolution back in 1979, but it is not happening." (AP-Washington Post)
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Southern Border Fence Project Expedited - Yoav Zitun
Israel's defense establishment is pushing for the expedited completion of the new Israel-Egypt border fence and expects that the "dune sector" - through which many illegal migrants infiltrate into Israel - will be completed in three weeks.
So far, 180 km. of the border fence have been completed and military sources said Wednesday that the 229 km. fence will be completed by October.
The dune area, which stretches between Kerem Shalom and Kadesh Barnea, has seen the expedited construction of some 20 km. of fencing in the last two weeks. (Ynet News)
- Gaza Snipers Shoot at Israeli Farmer - Ilana Curiel
Palestinian snipers opened fire Thursday on an Israeli farmer operating a tractor in a field located in Kibbutz Nir Oz near the Gaza border. The farmer hid behind the vehicle until he was rescued by IDF troops.
No injuries were reported, but the tractor was damaged in the attack. Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin said, "Incidents such as this one occur on a daily basis."
- Why the U.S. Is Cautious on Syria - Aaron David Miller
Americans are tired of costly military interventions, and the coming election is going to turn not on foreign policy but on the economy. The only issues Americans care about abroad these days are terrorism and high gas prices. Foreign policy will not help the president in November, but a costly stumble abroad could hurt him. And the Syrian crisis offers plenty of opportunities for that. If the president acts, it will be cautiously and in the company of others.
A successful intervention in Syria would require a grand concert of powers all focused not just on ending the killing but on creating and nurturing a post-Assad Syria. Right now, the external players are too divided, too self-interested, and too committed to their own narrow concerns for that.
- What's at Stake with Egypt's Vote? - Dennis Ross
With the recent presidential elections producing a runoff this weekend between an uninspiring Muslim Brotherhood candidate and an official who appears to be a remnant of the Mubarak regime, the mood of optimism has soured in Egypt.
If Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi is elected, the Brotherhood will control both the presidency and the parliament. The group has an anti-Western, anti-Israeli, pan-Islamic ideology. Yet the longing for law and order could produce a surprise victory for Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed prime minister by Mubarak in his waning days.
For the U.S. to provide material and financial support to the new government, Egypt must respect the rights of minorities and women. It must permit basic rights of free speech and assembly and ongoing political competition to ensure repeatable elections. And it must fulfill its international and treaty obligations, including its peace treaty with Israel.
- Turkey: A Midwife for a Kurdish State? - Ofra Bengio
Turkey has helped build a Kurdish entity in Iraqi Kurdistan. This seems paradoxical in view of Ankara's pressure on the U.S. not to lend any support to the Kurds of Iraq because of the possible spillover effects on its own restive Kurds.
Ankara's policy was due to very pragmatic reasons. Immediately after the 1991 Gulf War and the crushing of the Kurdish uprising which ensued, Turkey was confronted with the problem of a million Kurdish refugees on its border. Unwilling to burden itself with another million Kurds, Turkey devised with the Allies the "Provide Comfort" project for the fleeing Kurds to enable them to go back to their homes, together with "the no-fly zone" where the Iraqi army could not act against the Kurds.
This approach turned the Kurdistan Region into a huge investment area for Turkish companies. Other large business, cultural and social ventures turned Iraqi Kurdistan into an undeclared Turkish sphere of influence. A deal announced on May 20, 2012, without the approval of the central government in Baghdad, envisages the building of two oil pipelines and one gas pipeline from the Kurdistan Region to Turkey. Prof. Bengio is head of the Kurdish Studies Program at the Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University.
Peres: The Iranian People Are Not Our Enemy (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday at the White House:
- I receive this honor today on behalf of the people of Israel. They are the true recipients of this honor. With this moving gesture, you are paying tribute to generations upon generations of Jews who dreamed of, and fought for, a state of their own. A state that would give them shelter. A state that they could defend.
- You are honoring the pioneers who built homes on barren mountains, on shifting sands. Fighters who sacrificed their lives for their country. On their behalf, I thank America for days of concern, for sleepless nights, caring for our safety, for our future.
- The Iranian people are not our enemy. It is the present leadership that became a threat. It turned Iran into a danger to world peace. It is a leadership that aims to rule the Middle East. Spreading terror all over the world. They are trying to build a nuclear bomb. They bring darkness to a world longing for light. The Iranian threat must be stopped.
- The Palestinians are our closest neighbors. I believe they may become our closest friends. The duty of leaders is to pursue freedom ceaselessly, even in the face of hostility.
- Now the young Arab generation has opened its eyes and stood up against oppression, poverty, and corruption. They seek freedom. They understand that freedom begins at home. I pray for their success.
- My vision is an Israel living in full, genuine peace, joining with all the people of the Middle East, former enemies and new friends alike. Jerusalem becoming the capital of peace.
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