Israel TV: Putin Shipping Assad More Weapons (Times of Israel)
Russia is stepping up weapons supplies to Syria as part of the arrangement with the Assad regime to have its chemical weapons stockpiles placed under international supervision, Israeli Channel 2 TV reported Tuesday.
Negotiations between Russia and Syria have been ongoing for two weeks and have also involved Iran, the report said.
Russian President Putin essentially ordered Assad to submit to international oversight of his chemical weapons stocks.
In return, Putin promised bolstered conventional weapons shipments, "some of which are already on their way" to Syria.
See also Report: Russia to Supply S-300s Air Defense Missiles to Iran (AFP-France 24)
Russian President Vladimir Putin will offer to supply Iran with S-300 air defense missile systems as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, Kommersant reported Wednesday, quoting a source close to the Kremlin.
Putin will renew the offer to supply Iran with five of the sophisticated ground-to-air missile systems at a meeting with Iranian President Rowhani in Kyrgyzstan on Friday.
In 2010, then-president Dmitry Medvedev cancelled the contract after coming under strong U.S. and Israeli pressure.
Assad Air Force Back in Action, Hitting Rebels - Khaled Yacoub Oweis (Reuters)
Syrian warplanes bombed rebel suburbs of Damascus on Tuesday for the first time since the August 21 poison gas attack.
"Even if the Russian initiative fails, the regime has at least bought itself time," opposition activist Salah Mohammad said.
"By sending the planes back, the regime is sending a message that it no longer feels international pressure on it," opposition activist Wasim al-Ahmad said.
Egypt Bans 55,000 Mosque Preachers in Crackdown on Islamists - Yasmine Saleh (Reuters)
Egyptian authorities will bar 55,000 unlicensed clerics from preaching in mosques in the latest move against sympathizers of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, Minister of Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said on Tuesday.
Following the overthrow of Morsi, more than 2,000 Islamist activists have been arrested and most of the Brotherhood's leaders jailed, including Morsi.
New International Olympic Chief Heads Israel Boycott Group (JTA)
Thomas Bach, who was elected Tuesday as the new president of the International Olympic Committee, is chairman of Ghorfa, the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, set up in the 1970s by Arab countries to boycott trade with Israel.
"It betrays the principles of sportsmanship and fair play for the IOC to be headed by someone who actively participates in ongoing Israel boycott campaign measures," said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee Berlin Ramer Institute.
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- Syria Accepts Offer to Turn Over Chemical Weapons - Gabriela Resto-Montero
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told NBC News Tuesday that Syria would accept the Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons. "We accept the Russian proposal which was offered to us yesterday, and we are ready to fulfill it according to the agreed plan between us and Russia," Moallem said.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that he had spoken to Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister. However, Kerry was reluctant to take strikes off the table, which he said had been enough of a "credible threat of force" to compel a diplomatic solution.
"Nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging," he said.
- Obama Delays Syria Strike to Focus on Russian Plan to Remove Chemical Weapons - Mark Landler and Jonathan Weisman
President Obama said Tuesday that he would hold off on military action in Syria and pursue a Russian proposal for international monitors to take over and destroy Syria's chemical weapons. The president said he had asked Congressional leaders to postpone a vote authorizing military action - a vote he was almost certain to lose.
(New York Times)
See also below Observations: President Obama Addresses the American People on Syria (White House)
- Doubts Emerge about Assad's Control of Syria's Chemical Weapons - Ashish Kumar Sen
President Bashar Assad likely does not have complete control over Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, which is believed to have been shared with its allies, including Hizbullah, analysts say.
"Assad controls a majority of the chemical weapons, but he gave some to Hizbullah and the shabiha [civilian thugs] so that they can protect their villages," said Kamal al-Labwani, a member of the Syrian opposition National Coalition's defense and security committee.
"Hizbullah now has a large amount of chemical weapons."
The weapons were taken from near the Al Dumayr military airport, 30 miles northeast of Damascus, said al-Labwani, citing reports from defectors.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who heads the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, said,
"Based on the intelligence presentations from the U.S., the UK and France, the Syrian scientific research institute, CERS, prepared the sarin nerve agent for August's attack. CERS reports directly to Assad. Whether Assad personally ordered the attack or not, he is responsible for what his subordinates do."
- Suicide Bomber Hits Military Intelligence HQ in Sinai, Killing 3
A suicide bomber on Wednesday rammed his explosives-laden car into the Egyptian military intelligence headquarters in Rafah on the border with Gaza in Sinai, killing at least three soldiers and wounding 10, security officials said.
Simultaneously, militants fired rocket propelled grenades at an army checkpoint not far from the building.
See also Egypt Continues Fighting Sinai Islamists - Ashraf Sweilam
Egyptian army troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked Islamic militants in Sinai on Tuesday, killing 9 and arresting 10, a military official said. Over 2,000 soldiers are taking part in the Sinai campaign.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel, EU Discuss Settlement Guidelines - Herb Keinon
Israeli and European officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday discussed new EU guidelines barring any financial cooperation with Israeli entities beyond the Green Line; they will meet again on Thursday in Brussels. Israel has said that it would be unable to join the EU Horizon 2020 R&D project under the terms of the current guidelines. Israeli officials said that although there was little expectation that the EU would change the wording of the published guidelines, the hope was that it would show flexibility in their implementation.
- Fatah-Aligned Aksa Martyrs Brigades Call for Terror Attacks Against Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
A leaflet distributed on Tuesday by the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades called for launching "fedayeen [guerilla] operations" against Israel beginning on Friday. The group called on all its "units and sleeper cells" to launch attacks against "the Zionist enemy." (Jerusalem Post)
- Arab Youths Shatter Tour Bus Window near Mount of Olives in Jerusalem - Daniel K. Eisenbud
Palestinian youths threw rocks at a tour bus near the Mount of Olives Monday night, shattering one of the bus's windows and lightly wounding a young girl.
The bus's 54 passengers from Ashkelon were participating in a traditional High Holy Days pilgrimage. Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Tuesday the attack was one of "several stone-throwing incidents" in the area on Monday.
"Police deal with this almost daily in and around different Arab neighborhoods," he said.
- Putin's Desperate Attempt to Save Assad - Ron Ben-Yishai
Seemingly, forcing Syria to surrender its chemical arsenal to the international community is the optimal solution to the crisis. It will prevent Assad from using weapons of mass destruction and will deter other players in the Middle East, such as Iran, who will realize that the international community will not settle for anything less than the dissolution of unconventional military capabilities.
If, however, Syria will be given time to hide a certain amount of its chemical weapons, and if Syria will not be forced to destroy its chemical weapons, then the agreement will not be worth anything. In addition, should the negotiations on an agreement drag on, Syria will be able to transfer at least part of its chemical weapons arsenal to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Such a development would be just as bad for Israel as having the WMDs fall into the hands of the jihadists in Syria.
- Russian-Brokered Deal a Mixed Blessing for Israel - Herb Keinon
If Syrian President Assad honors the deal - a huge "if" - then a very deadly weapon will be removed from Israel's doorstep.
Israel would also be relieved of worrying that these chemical weapons could be transferred to Hizbullah or other terrorist organizations. While the assessments in Jerusalem have long been that Assad would be reluctant to use his chemical weapons against Israel because of fear of retribution, radical terrorists might not harbor a similar fear or even care about the payback.
The bad news is that Assad is left standing, which sends the message to Iran: No worries, this world won't interfere, you can get away with it. Even if Assad has to forfeit his WMD stockpile, he will still literally get away with murder. Assad is now turning his country from an Iranian proxy into an Iranian client state. If he survives, it will be because of Russian political cover and Iranian and Hizbullah physical and material assistance.
The main peril to Israel right now is not the Sunni terrorists, but rather the possibility of an Iranian-led Shi'ite axis - one that soon could be armed with nuclear weapons - stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria and into Lebanon. Iran remains Israel's principal threat today, a threat that becomes existential if it gains nuclear arms. As such, anything that benefits Iran is bad for Jerusalem. Assad remaining in power benefits Iran.
- The Legacy of Danny Lewin, the First to Die on 9/11 - Todd Leopold
Danny Lewin was an American who joined the Israeli army and served in an elite unit.
In 1984, his family decided to move to Israel, and Lewin grew up near Jerusalem.
In the late '90s he co-founded a company that made the Web faster and more efficient.
Lewin died on September 11, 2001, at age 31. He was on American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center, in seat 9B. According to flight attendants' calls relayed to authorities on the ground, the first passenger to be killed was seated in 9B. He was stabbed to death. He may have figured out what was going on, perhaps even tried to stop it.
His life is now the subject of a new biography, No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet.
President Obama Addresses the American People on Syria (White House)
- "On August 21st...Assad's government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children....No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria....Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible."
- "What happened to those people - to those children - is not only a violation of international law, it's also a danger to our security....If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using it. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and to use them to attack civilians."
- "A failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction, and embolden Assad's ally, Iran - which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon, or to take a more peaceful path. This is not a world we should accept."
- "Over the last few days, the Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons....This initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad's strongest allies. I have, therefore, asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path."
- "We will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the UN Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control. We'll also give UN inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st."
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