Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Iran Missile Engineer Oversees Chavez’s Drones - Robert Beckhusen (Danger Room) Popularity Declines for Hamas after Five-Year Gaza Rule (Xinhua - China) Iran Was Behind Bomb Plot against Israeli Diplomats, Investigators Find - Jason Burke (Guardian - UK)
Iran Missile Engineer Oversees Chavez’s Drones - Robert Beckhusen (Danger Room)
Popularity Declines for Hamas after Five-Year Gaza Rule (Xinhua - China)
Iran Was Behind Bomb Plot against Israeli Diplomats, Investigators Find - Jason Burke (Guardian - UK)
News Resources - North America and Europe:
Iran and world powers on Tuesday return for what could be the last day of so far stormy negotiations aimed at putting a peaceful halt to the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear drive. Western officials said their patience was running out with Iran.
The West is waiting for Iran to respond to an offer made last month and repeated on Monday that would see it halt enrichment to the dangerous level of 20 percent and ship out such existing material in return for some forms of aid. Iran has countered with a demand that world powers recognize its "right to enrich" -- something contradicting current UN resolutions -- and rescind an oil embargo that the European Union intends to implement fully on July 1. (AFP/Yahoo)
Iran on Monday offered up a blistering critique of a proposal by six world powers to rein in its nuclear program, marking the latest setback in efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
Iran's chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, ticked off a list of objections in a five-hour negotiating session at a Moscow hotel and expounded at length about Tehran's grievances with the West dating back to at least 1968. The Iranian critique, rolled out in a Power Point presentation, extended a losing streak for the negotiations. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Egypt's generals awarded themselves sweeping political powers in an 11th-hour constitutional declaration that tied the hands of the country's incoming president and cemented military authority over the post-Mubarak era. The announcement on Sunday night came as early presidential election results put the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi ahead of his rival Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak's final prime minister. But with thousands of polling stations yet to declare following the two-day runoff vote, the overall winner was too close to call.
Pro-change activists and human rights campaigners said the junta's constitutional declaration – which came just days after judges extended the army's ability to arrest civilians and following the dissolution of the Brotherhood-dominated parliament by the country's top court – rendered the scheduled handover of power to a democratically elected executive meaningless. (Guardian - UK)
See also U.S. Officials 'Deeply Concerned' by Egypt Military Decree
U.S. officials said Monday that they were "deeply concerned" by an Egyptian military decree giving its ruling generals sweeping powers to pass laws and decide whether to go to war, issued just as Egyptians finished casting their votes for its new president. “We have, and will continue, to urge the [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] to relinquish power to civilian-elected authorities and to respect the universal rights of the Egyptian people and the rule of law,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters. (Los Angeles Times)
Russia is preparing to send two amphibious assault ships to the Syrian port of Tartus according to the Interfax news agency.
The move is seen as an attempt to ensure the safety of Russian nationals stationed at the strategic naval base Moscow operates on Syria's Mediterranean coast. An unidentified officer confirmed that "Two major amphibious ships – The Nikolai Filchenkov and the Tsezar Kunikov – are preparing to be dispatched to Tartus outside of their schedule." (Telegraph -- UK)
The British marine insurer Standard Club said it had withdrawn cover from all the ships owned by Femco, a Russian cargo line, including the MV Alaed. "We were made aware of the allegations that the Alaed was carrying munitions destined for Syria," the company said in a statement. The MV Alaed picked up its cargo of Mi25 helicopters – known as "flying tanks" – from the Russian port of Kaliningrad, where they had been sent to the state-owned manufacturer Mil's "Factory 150" for servicing and repairs. (Telegraph - UK)
See also Russia Sending Missile Systems to Shield Syria - Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times)
Four rockets were fired from Gaza towards the Ashkelon area early Tuesday morning, but landed in open areas and did not result in any damage or casualties. Responsibility for the Tuesday rocket fire was claimed by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigades. (Times of Israel)
Hamas leaders and supporters in Gaza Strip celebrated Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood presidential victory, according to preliminary results announced on Monday. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zohri said that Mursi’s win will help break the siege on Gaza and support the Palestinian cause, especially on the issue of the disputed Jerusalem.
From Israel’s perspective, one of Mubarak’s great advantages was that he helped maintain a tough blockade on Gaza. Hamas hopes a Mursi presidency would loosen the economic shackles of a boycott Israel says is meant to stop the flow of arms to Gaza. (Al Arabiya - Dubai)
The terrorist attack on Monday morning near Be'er Milka and the firing of Grad rockets toward Ovda and Mitzpeh Ramon over the weekend, alongside numerous reports in Egyptian media of increased activity among Palestinian terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula over the two-day voting period, make it clear that certain sources in Egypt have a clear interest in heating up the Israeli border.
Regardless of who wins Egypt's run-off presidential elections - Mohammed Morsi or Ahmed Shafiq – it is clear that Israel can expect to see further incidents of this sort. The chaos in Sinai is not expected to disappear any time soon.
One of the central problems that Israel will be forced to deal with in future events or attacks, is the lack of address: the identities of the terrorists who carried out Monday morning's attack, along with the launchers of the Grad rockets over the weekend, are unclear. Israel's hands are tied, and therefore its great effort to complete the fence on the Egyptian border is understandable. (Ha'aretz)
Washington woke on Saturday to the news of the death of Crown Prince Nayef, who was next in line for the Saudi throne. The collective sigh of relief by senior U.S. officials was almost audible. Nayef was renowned for being difficult and unimaginative, only able to view policy options in terms of choices that worsened problems rather than eased them. His support for the kingdom's religious conservatives during his decades in office had arguably only added to jihadi extremism.
Among the next generation of Saudi princes, there is intense competition for such a prestigious role in a major ministry.
Therein lies the fundamental problem with leadership of the kingdom: Its succession mechanism is an actuarial disaster area. Notionally, the throne should pass from brother to brother among the sons of Ibn Saud, who died in 1953. The system means that Saudi monarchs are getting progressively older -- with all that means in terms of energy for the role and mental acuity.
The kings of Saudi Arabia are graying, and look to become even grayer in the years ahead. The logical way to resolve this problem is to allow the succession system to jump down to the next generation. It arguably should happen but almost certainly won't -- personal ambition of individual princes outweighs their appreciation of their mutual interest. Given Saudi Arabia's centrality in the Middle East, if not the world, that may turn out to be to the detriment of all of us.
Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute. (Foreign Policy)
Wistful in Jerusalem - Elliott Abrams (Weekly Standard)
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