Iran Indicts 18 U.S. Officials (Fars-Iran)
Iran's Deputy Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Rayeesi said Wednesday that the Iranian judiciary has prepared indictments for 18 U.S. officials on criminal charges.
The U.S. officials include
former Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, eleven U.S. generals including Gen. David Petraeus, former CIA Chiefs
Luis Freeh and Robert Muller, and Stuart A. Levey, the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department.
Iran's Panic - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
The Iranian regime is preparing for another tricky presidential election in June. Though every such election is stage-managed, the 2009 election provoked uprisings that were crushed with massive brutality.
Outgoing President Ahmadinejad is trying to retain power by "arranging" a victory for Esfandiar Rahim Masha'i, believed to be his guru.
A second source of panic is the economic crisis prompted by continued drop in the value of the rial, which has led to mass unemployment and flight of capital on an unprecedented scale.
Tehran is also near the point of losing its chief Arab ally, Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad, as well as Venezuela, as President Hugo Chavez faces yet another round of cancer treatments.
The rest of the Chavista establishment has never shared "El Loco's" enthusiasm for alliance with Tehran.
U.S. to Sell Israel Munitions to Replenish Stock after Gaza Operation - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
The U.S. announced Monday that it will sell Israel 6,900 precision bomb kits worth $647 million to renew inventory following Israel's Gaza operation in November.
The kits convert regular bombs into "smart" munitions, which are guided by satellite and allow precise hits on targets.
Facebook Shuts Down Taliban Recruiting Account - Caitlin Dewey (Washington Post)
Over the weekend, Facebook shut down a recruiting page for the Pakistani Taliban (TTP).
At the same time, Hamas' Twitter account, @alqassambrigade, has nearly 43,000 followers.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Its True Intentions towards Israel -
Liad Porat (BESA Center-Bar-Ilan University)
According to the Muslim Brotherhood, Sinai is Egyptian territory upon which the country has not yet exercised its full sovereignty.
It believes that the region must be "freed" from the peace deal with Israel that declares Sinai a demilitarized zone, and wants to see more troops deployed to the region.
The Brotherhood defines Israel as an enemy state and "Palestine" is viewed as holy Islamic land.
Hamas is seen as the spearhead in the battle to liberate the land and Jerusalem, though the Brotherhood acknowledges that this battle
must be fought gradually.
Dr. Liad Porat is a lecturer of Middle East history at Haifa University and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
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- Up to 200 Hurt in Attack on Syrian Alawite Village
An attack on a Syrian village on Tuesday killed or injured as many as 200 members of President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite minority sect, activists said.
The opposition-linked Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 125 were hurt or killed in a series of explosions that destroyed several houses in the town of Aqrab.
An Alawite resident from a nearby town blamed the attack on rebels from Houla, about 8 km. from Aqrab, which suffered a massacre of more than 100 Sunnis last May, in which more than half of the victims were children.
A rebel told Reuters that they had surrounded one building where pro-Assad shabbiha militias were using residents hiding there as human shields. "There were 200 people inside and we called on the residents to leave, but the shabbiha held some women and children at gunpoint. Eventually talks fell apart and the government shelled the building," said the rebel.
- Major Lending Effort to Boost Egypt Faces Delays - Howard Schneider
The U.S. and a coalition of international lenders are pushing ahead with billions of dollars in loans for Egypt, despite the violent political turmoil, hoping to head off a destabilizing economic collapse. The International Monetary Fund had hoped to move forward this month on a $4.8 billion loan for Egypt, but over the weekend, President Morsi reneged on imposing tax increases that the IMF had expected as a way to help bring down the country's budget deficit. On Tuesday, the IMF said that the Egyptian government asked to delay further work on the loan.
- Gaza's Tunnels Rebound from Israeli Offensive - Mohammed Daraghmeh
Gazans are rebuilding the network of underground smuggling tunnels crisscrossing the Egyptian border that were pummeled in a recent Israeli offensive, restoring the illicit conduit for consumer goods and weapons so crucial to Hamas rule. The border area is humming around the clock with workers carting in cement, bricks, gravel and scaffolding.
Hamas estimates Israel bombed 60% of the tunnels, said government spokesman Ihab Ghussein.
Tunnel operators say dozens remain out of commission, but they are quickly rebuilding them. Tunnel operators, pointing off into the distance, said there are tunnels reserved exclusively for Hamas shipments, presumably weapons.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel to Cover PA Debts with Collected Tax Revenues - Barak Ravid
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday that Israel intends to use tax revenues that it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to pay off PA debts to Israeli bodies like Israel's Electric Corporation for at least the next four months.
He said that Israel is not freezing Palestinian tax revenues, but "they owe us NIS 1.6 billion....In the next four months, we will offset the debt and after that we will decide if we will renew the transfer of funds or not." The move was a response to the UN vote last month. (Ha'aretz)
- IDF: Offices Searched in Ramallah Served Terror Group - Yaakov Lappin
The IDF carried out overnight searches of offices in Ramallah used by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror organization, an army spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Palestinian sources said the searches occurred at the offices of the Women's Union, the Palestinian NGO Network, and Addameer, an advocate for Palestinians in Israeli jails.
- Media Still Asking the Wrong Questions on the Mideast - Seth Mandel
The Washington Post asks whether the relative safety brought about by systems like Iron Dome will make Israel more likely to agree to territorial compromise or more likely instead to ignore the cause of peace and negotiations.
But the more important point, one the media keeps missing, is that nothing is keeping Israel away from the negotiating table. For all the criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presumed reluctance to make peace, Netanyahu has been for years now offering to resume negotiations without preconditions. It is Mahmoud Abbas who piles on precondition after precondition in an attempt to avoid negotiations.
The Washington Post can save its hand wringing for Netanyahu's supposed interlocutor, who seems to have come up with many reasons not to participate in the peace process. Israeli reluctance to come to the table, however, isn't one of them.
- The World Has Abrogated the Oslo Accords - Barry Rubin
The Palestinian leadership, abetted by many Western governments, has now torn up every agreement it made with Israel. In 1993, Israel signed an agreement with the PLO to make peace in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Yet by essentially unilaterally declaring the existence of an Arab Palestine, the world has abrogated that agreement.
The Palestinian side prevented the accord from succeeding by permitting and carrying out continuing terrorism and rejecting Israeli offers for a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem at the 2000 Camp David summit.
Now, by endorsing the current move, the West has rewarded the party that refused to make peace and rewarded the side that rejected the offer of a state and pursued violence instead, cheering the murder of Israeli civilians. They have removed the framework on the basis of which Israel made numerous risky concessions including letting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians enter the West Bank and Gaza; establish a government; obtain billions of dollars; create military organizations that have been used to attack Israel; and establish schools which teach and call for Israel's destruction.
What has diplomacy taught us? That the other side will not keep commitments and those guaranteeing those commitments will not keep their word to do so.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
- Europe Obsessing over Israel-Arab Conflict to Avoid Tackling Real Mideast Problems - Guy Bechor
For more than 70 years the Israeli-Arab (or Jewish-Arab) conflict has been viewed as the focal point of the Mideast crisis, so much so that the term "peace process" is mentioned only in relation to Israel. Western governments have invested a lot of attention in this conflict, out of the naive assumption that when it ends and a Palestinian state is established, a cosmic calm will settle over the entire region.
Syria is being torn apart by an awful civil war and the death toll is quickly approaching 50,000; the ethnic war has already taken control over north Lebanon, and the Shiite Hizbullah is on high alert for fear of a Sunni move; Egypt may also be dragged into a civil war; Tunisia, the hope of the "Arab Spring," has become an Islamist country that is descending into an abyss of darkness and violence; Libya is no longer a country, but a collection of militias and tribes that battle each other; Iraq is disintegrating, Kurds from four different countries are getting organized, and Turkey is on the brink of a possible war with Syria and Iran.
But wait, the Palestinian state has been recognized by the UN! Where is that calm that we were promised?
The writer heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
A Divided Jerusalem Will Not Stand - Nir Barkat (Wall Street Journal)
- Here in Jerusalem, we stand saddened and appalled by the EU ministers who condemn construction projects that are well within the municipal borders of Jerusalem, while ignoring calls from the leader of Hamas for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.
- Isn't it ironic that many in Europe who recently celebrated 25 years of the reunification of Berlin are at the same time calling for the division of another capital on another continent?
- By 2030, the city's population will expand to one million residents from 800,000 today (33% Muslim, 2% Christian and 65% Jewish). Where does the world suggest we put these extra 200,000 residents?
- The expansion of Jerusalem's residential areas is essential for the natural growth of all segments of our population. It enables Jewish and Arab families alike to grow and remain in the city. The capital of a sovereign nation cannot be expected to freeze growth rather than provide housing to families of all faiths eager to make their lives there.
- As for "E-1," this land has always been considered the natural site for the expansion of contiguous neighborhoods of metropolitan Jerusalem. "E-1" strengthens Jerusalem. It does not impede peace in our region.
- Jerusalem has been and forever will be the heart and soul of the Jewish people. It is also the united and undivided capital of the State of Israel.
The writer is the mayor of Jerusalem.
See also Video: Indivisible Jerusalem
The division of Jerusalem into "east" and "west," imposed by the Jordanian occupation for a brief period of 19 years, is no longer possible in a city which has dramatically grown. Dividing Jerusalem is not technically feasible due to the intermingling of populations, neighborhoods, and vital infrastructures.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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