Iranian General Is Killed in Syria - Farnaz Fassihi (Wall Street Journal)
A senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hassan Shateri, was assassinated in Syria on Tuesday, Iranian news agencies said.
A senior commander in the Quds Force, Shateri headed Iran's efforts to help southern Lebanon rebuild after the 2006 war with Israel.
Iran, Russia Building "Strategic Partnership" - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi arrived in Moscow this week after Iran and Russia signed a security treaty last month.
A group of officers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard has also arrived in Russia for a crash course in crowd control and civil unrest. They're expected to return to Iran by May and be "operational" in time for the June presidential election.
The new security pact provides for cooperation in intelligence gathering and the fight "against terrorism." It commits Russia to train and equip Iranian security forces to deal with civil unrest.
Under the agreement, Moscow will help Tehran create special police units patterned on the 500,000-strong "internal army" controlled by the Russian Interior Ministry.
In addition, last week, Iran played host to Russian warships visiting Bandar Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz in what looks like the opening gambit for a Russian naval presence in the strategic waterway.
Both Moscow and Tehran see a U.S. strategic retreat under President Obama as an opportunity. They think that with the U.S. out, no other power has the capacity to check their regional ambitions.
Boeing Partners with Israel's Elbit for Aircraft Protection - Arie Egozi (Flightglobal)
Boeing will offer Elbit Systems-produced directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) equipment with all of its military and civil aircraft, under a new memorandum of understanding signed by the companies.
The threat posed to aircraft by man-portable air defense systems has grown considerably during the past few years, a factor which prompted Elbit's Elop division to develop DIRCM equipment to protect fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
Successfully flight tested recently using an Israeli air force Boeing 707 tanker, the C-Music system has been designed to defend large commercial aircraft and VIP transports from attack using infrared-guided weapons.
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- Kerry: Response to North Korea Will Send Iran Message
The world must show its resolve in the face of North Korea's nuclear provocations or risk emboldening Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday. "Just as it's impermissible for North Korea to pursue this kind of reckless effort, so we have said it's impermissible with respect to Iran. What our response is with respect to this will have an impact on all other nonproliferation efforts."
"If you are going to say things, they have to mean something. And to mean something you have to be prepared to follow up, and that's exactly what we are prepared to do," Kerry said.
- Iran's Bid to Buy Banned Magnets Stokes Fears about Major Expansion of Nuclear Capacity - Joby Warrick
Iran recently sought to acquire tens of thousands of highly specialized magnets used in centrifuge machines, a sign that the country may be planning a major expansion of its nuclear program. Iranian agents sought to buy 100,000 ring-shaped magnets - which are banned from export to Iran under UN resolutions - from China about a year ago. The magnets could outfit 50,000 new centrifuges, or nearly five times the number that Iran currently operates. "They are positioning themselves to make a lot of nuclear progress quickly," said a European diplomat.
- Nuclear Watchdog Says No Deal Reached with Iran - Alan Cowell
Herman Nackaerts, the deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Thursday that talks Wednesday in Iran had ended inconclusively and international inspectors had not been given access to a site which they suspect may have been used for testing bomb triggers. Nackaerts said the discussions "could not finalize" a document that "once agreed, should facilitate the resolution of outstanding issues regarding possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program."
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- EU Envoy Denies Sanctions Against Israel in the Offing - Raphael Ahren
The EU does not plan to ban products from West Bank settlements, even if they are labeled as having originated from Israel, Andrew Standley, the EU's ambassador to Israel, said Tuesday, dismissing recent media reports. The ambassador stressed that the imposition of any kind of sanctions against Israel required a unanimous decision of the 27 member states.
"I don't see it as a likely probability," he said. "The EU is opposed to boycotts." (Times of Israel)
- Report: Tehran Removing Key Intelligence Material from Damascus - Ariel Ben Solomon
Fearing the fall of Syrian President Assad, Iran has begun transferring its diplomatic and intelligence archives from Damascus, the Iraqi paper Azzaman reported on Monday, quoting Syrian opposition sources. The intelligence is said to include secret agreements between Tehran and Damascus, minutes of meetings of senior officials and reports relating to Iran's support of Hizbullah.
- When Will the Palestinians Return to Negotiations? - Jonathan S. Tobin
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu reaffirmed Monday what he said in 2009 at Bar-Ilan University where he formally embraced the concept of two states for two peoples. Since then he has constantly asked PA head Abbas to come back to the negotiating table that he fled in 2008 when then-Prime Minister Olmert offered him an independent state including nearly all of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. But despite repeated Israeli offers of a state, the Palestinians continue to refuse to talk.
The PA didn't have to go to the UN to get their state. Nor do they require American or European pressure on Israel to achieve their goal of independence. They need only be willing to give up on the dream of replacing Israel with a Palestinian state instead of having one alongside it.
Their failure to do so is why most Israelis have lost interest in the peace process. Nor has it escaped their notice that the independent Palestinian state in all but name that currently exists in Gaza is a launching pad for terror attacks on Israel.
- Is Israel Really to Blame for Gaza's Water Shortages? - Raheem Kassam
A motion was tabled in the British Parliament stating that "Israeli occupation policies" are to blame for the shortage of water in Gaza, though Israel withdrew from the territory in 2005. Hamas is the authority responsible for infrastructure. Yet the aid it receives from international donors goes primarily into funding its terrorist activities.
Israel has met all its obligations according to the Oslo Water Agreement, and supplies more water to Gaza and the West Bank than it is obliged to do. Conversely, the Palestinians have breached two major areas of the agreement, specifically with relation to the digging of over 250 wells without authorization and in allowing wastewater to flow into streams untreated.
- Is Jerusalem Really Negotiable? Jerusalem's Place in the Peace Process - Alan Baker
On August 21, 2012, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, referring to "the
alleged [Jewish] Temple" in Jerusalem, stated that "there will be no peace, security,
or stability unless the occupation, its settlements and settlers will be evacuated
from our holy city and the eternal capital of our state."
This statement basically denies any Jewish linkage or right to Jerusalem. It was uttered
by the head of the Palestinian Authority who is considered in the international
community to be moderate.
This study analyzes the various
international instruments making reference to Jerusalem, and lists proposals
published over the years for solving the issue. The writer is former Legal Adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and
former Ambassador of Israel to Canada.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh Boom Threatened by Morsi Assault on Foreign Ownership - Alastair Beach
40 years ago Sharm el-Sheikh was a sleepy fishing village with a handful of guesthouses erected by the Israelis after the Six-Day War. Today its 100-plus hotels can accommodate 200,000 visitors a week at this glittering resort of palm trees and pools at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Now, some of the entrepreneurs who developed Sharm el-Sheikh say the resort's future is in doubt because of a clampdown on foreign ownership by the Egyptian government led by Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. A controversial law appears to give dual national Egyptians a six-month deadline to sell all of their property in the region. (Telegraph-UK)
As America's Credibility Wanes, Iran Upgrades Its Nuclear Capacity - Walter Russell Mead (American Interest)
- The Ayatollahs have come to the conclusion that the U.S. president will not use military force as Iran presses forward with its nuclear plans.
- One of the clues that lead them to this conclusion is the U.S. decision to cut back the number of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region. If Washington were serious, the Iranians believe, we would be building up our naval presence, not drawing it back.
- From Iran's point of view the Administration also seems to be standing down in Syria.
American passivity in Syria tells Iran that its "resistance" axis of anti-Israel, anti-U.S. forces isn't on the verge of collapse; the Americans aren't going to push Assad off the cliff and break Iran's regional alliance system.
- If President Obama is serious about opposing an Iranian nuclear bomb with force if necessary, then the signals the White House is sending to Iran are unintentionally making war more likely, not less.
- The president needs to start sending signals that convince even the hardest-line mullahs that he really does mean it.
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