300 Killed in Single Day in Syria (Reuters)
More than 300 people were killed in Syria on Wednesday, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the conflict has claimed 30,000 lives since March 2011.
At least 40 appeared to have been shot in cold blood in al-Dhiyabia, where a video published by activists showed rows of bloodied corpses wrapped in blankets.
See also Suicide Bombers Target Syrian Military Headquarters in Damascus - Liz Sly and Ahmed Ramadan (Washington Post)
Suicide bombers targeted the main Syrian military headquarters in the heart of Damascus on Wednesday.
Four guards were killed and 14 people were wounded, state media said.
See also Inside Assad's Killing Fields - Jonathan Spyer (Wall Street Journal)
Syrian rebels now control roughly 70% of Aleppo, the country's largest city, with a population of 2.3 million. The Assad regime is fighting back through indiscriminate air attacks on rebel-held districts.
Dar al-Shifa hospital in Aleppo serves Free Syrian Army fighters and civilians. On Sept. 18, Dar al-Shifa came under attack by the Syrian air force. I was in the hospital at the time and witnessed the bombing.
Libyan President: Anti-Islam Film Had Nothing to Do with U.S. Consulate Attack - Ann Curry (NBC News)
In an interview with NBC, Libya's president Mohammed Magarief said there's "no doubt" the attack that killed four Americans in Libya was preplanned, and not a result of the anti-Islam movie that sparked violent protests.
Magarief said there were no protesters at the site before the attack and that "They chose this date, 11th of September, to carry a certain message."
See also Clinton Suggests Al-Qaeda Link in Libya Attack - Steven Lee Myers (New York Times)
Morsi Releases Islamist Who Tried to Kill Mubarak (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya leader Mostafa Hamza, detained for terrorist activity and an attempt on former President Hosni Mubarak's life, was released Tuesday after being pardoned by President Morsi.
Rare Anti-Hamas Protest in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
At least 500 protesters in Bureij in Gaza called for the overthrow of the ruling Islamist Hamas on Tuesday in a rare demonstration triggered by the death of a three-year-old boy in a fire during a power outage.
The boy died and his infant sister suffered critical burns when a candle lit amid a power outage burned their house down.
"I hold both the governments in Gaza and in the West Bank responsible for what happened to us," said the dead boy's father, Abdel-Fattah Al-Baghdadi.
Hamas spokesman Taher Al-Nono said the death was a message to Egypt that it had to speed up its promised efforts to help solve the power crisis in Gaza.
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- Obama at UN: "A Nuclear-Armed Iran Is Not a Challenge that Can Be Contained"
President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday:
"Understand America will never retreat from the world. We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends, and we will stand with our allies."
"In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads....Just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government continues to prop up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad. Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful, and to meet its obligations to the United Nations."
"America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited....Make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy. It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty. That's why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that's why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." (White House)
- Ahmadinejad Tells UN "Uncivilized Zionists" a Threat to Iran - Colum Lynch
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressing the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, denounced military threats against Tehran by "uncivilized Zionists" and attacked Western leaders as handmaidens of the devil.
See also Text: Ahmadinejad at the UN - 2012 (Iran UN Mission)
See also U.S. Boycotts Ahmadinejad's Speech at UN - Mark Hughes (Telegraph-UK)
See also Canadian Delegation Walks Out of Ahmadinejad's UN Speech - Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail-Canada)
- Bill Clinton: Iran Cannot Be Trusted with Nuclear Program - Piers Morgan
Former President Bill Clinton discussed Iran in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
"What they [the Iranians] are really saying is, 'in spite of the fact we deny the Holocaust, we threaten Israel, we demonize the United States, and we do all this stuff - we want you to trust us. In spite of the fact that we won't cooperate with the international regime set up to avoid an arms race in the Middle East and set up to avoid nuclear proliferation, we want you to trust us.' So they don't have a tenable position."
Asked, "Do you trust Ahmadinejad?"
Clinton replied, "Not on this I don't....No serious person believes" Ahmadinejad's explanation of Iran's stance on nuclear weapons.
- Egypt: No Need to Amend Treaty with Israel
A spokesman for Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi said Wednesday that there is currently no need to amend the peace treaty with Israel, despite calls in Cairo to revise the 1979 accord to allow the country to beef up its presence in Sinai to combat militants there, the state news agency reported. Yasser Ali said Egypt now has the troops it needs in Sinai to restore security.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: "Those Who Have Wanted to Wipe Us Off the Map Have Failed"
Prior to his departure on Wednesday evening to address the UN in New York, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "On the eve of Yom Kippur, which is sacred to the Jewish People, the Iranian tyrant - before the whole world - chose to publicly call for our disappearance....History has proven that those who have wanted to wipe us off the map have failed." (Prime Minister's Office)
- U.S., Israel Working Together to Set Iran Red Lines
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio on Thursday that Israel and the U.S. are engaged in a dialogue over setting a red line for Iran's nuclear program. Ayalon added that the gaps between Israel and the U.S. over the Iranian nuclear threat are constantly narrowing.
- A Flimsy U.S. Sanctions Policy toward Iran - Andrew K. Davenport and Ilan Berman
Given the advanced state of Iran's nuclear program, it stands to reason that the full arsenal of U.S. economic and financial sanctions would be deployed against the Iranian threat. Yet it has not been. The reality is that current sanctions policy is simultaneously extensive and flimsy. It amounts, in large part, to labeling a broad array of business activity as "sanctionable." But with the exception of a handful of cases, the actual sanctioning of violators has been markedly absent.
Administration after administration has been reluctant to enforce sanctions against foreign companies with ties to Iran because of the diplomatic fallout that would invariably accompany such a decision. More often than not, the most egregious violators are companies headquartered in countries that are close U.S. allies or represent key strategic relationships for the U.S., such as China and Russia.
- Abbas' Five Non-Options - Tal Becker
At a time when the Middle East is in upheaval, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been pushed to the
margins of the diplomatic agenda. The Islamist
surge in the region has emboldened Hamas' political ambitions and is making Abbas' Fatah feel ever
more isolated and anachronistic. The loss of former
Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, and the Arab
uprisings more broadly, have relegated Abbas to
the back burner.
The present volatile regional environment arguably renders the kinds of heart-wrenching decisions any peace agreement requires of any Palestinian leader exceedingly unpopular and politically out of reach, virtually regardless of Israel's position. The Palestinian president knows only too well
that even modest compromises with Israel will
have him labeled as a traitor to the Palestinian
cause before core Palestinian and Arab constituencies. In the past, his calculation has been that Arab states
could provide the legitimacy for a deal and act as a
counterweight to public opposition. Presently, he
harbors no illusion that this is possible.
It is particularly
unfortunate that much of the energy and promise
that once surrounded the Palestinian state-building project has dissipated. A revitalized state-building
campaign can make a tangible difference to the
reality on the ground, and help insulate the West
Bank from regional turmoil. The writer is an international associate of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout: U.S.-Israel Coordination - Patrick Clawson and David Makovsky (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- The U.S. has apparently been unable to convince
Israel that it would be able to both
identify an Iranian dash to the nuclear weapons
threshold and then act militarily in short enough
order. At least a few Israeli leaders are concerned
that despite its best intentions, the U.S.
will not be able to act in time to stop Iran from
acquiring nuclear weapons.
- To show its determination to stop Iranian nuclear progress rather than
allow interminable, unproductive discussions,
Washington must establish benchmarks to be met
in order for diplomatic negotiations to continue. Benchmarks offer a more effective alternative to a
deadline, which would allow Tehran to stall until the last minute and then set out proposals that may
seem attractive at first glance but are really unhelpful.
- The benchmark model is based on
results, not the calendar, taking away Iran's ability
to run down the clock. When diplomacy fails because
Iran fails to meet the established benchmarks, more
forceful measures will follow.
- The best way to improve the chances for a negotiated settlement is for the West to keep increasing the pressure on Iran. There is much wisdom in
the quip that Iran does not respond to pressure;
it only responds to great pressure.
- Tehran does not believe the
U.S. and Israel will use all means available to prevent Iran from getting close to having
a nuclear weapon. As a result, Washington and
Israel must find better ways to demonstrate that
are prepared to take military action if needed. The U.S. and P5+1 focus
should always be on stopping Iran's nuclear progress, not on preventing an Israeli strike.
Patrick Clawson is director of research at the Washington Institute.
David Makovsky is director of the Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process.
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