Iranian Navy Chief: We Aim to Destroy the U.S. Navy (Fars-Iran)
The Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, said destruction of the U.S. Navy is a major operational goal of his forces.
"Conducting training, exercises and drills to get prepared for operational goals is always on our agenda and Americans and all the world know that one of the operational goals of the IRGC Navy is destruction of the U.S. naval force," Fadavi said.
He said the combat power of the U.S. in the air totally depends on the fighters flying from its aircraft carriers, "hence, that is a natural thing that we want to sink these vessels."
He further noted the vulnerability of the U.S.' giant warships and aircraft carriers, especially in any potential combat against Iranian missiles and speedboats in the Persian Gulf.
Fadavi said the large size of the U.S. warships has made them a very easy target for the IRGC naval force.
See also IRGC Navy Can Sink a U.S. Aircraft Carrier in Less than a Minute (Fars-Iran)
Saudis Seize Dozens of Militants Linked to Al-Qaeda - Ammar Benaziz and Mohammed Jamjoom (CNN)
Authorities in Saudi Arabia targeting al-Qaeda-linked militants have embarked on a large counterterror operation across the country, authorities said Tuesday.
Security forces arrested 62 members of a terror cell linked to al-Qaeda in Yemen and Syria, Saudi state media reported.
Police still sought 44 others suspected of involvement with the terror cell. The terror group planned to target installations inside the kingdom.
Israeli Gas May Be Bound for Egypt - Daniel J. Graeber (UPI)
Noble Energy has signed a non-binding letter of intent with Union Fenosa Gas (UFG) to deliver natural gas from the Tamar field offshore Israel to the Damietta LNG plant in Egypt.
The Spanish company UFG holds an 80% stake in the subsidiary controlling the Egyptian facility.
See also Egypt Emerges as a Route for Israeli Natural Gas Exports - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Hamas to Kids: Shoot All the Jews - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
Children were instructed to shoot "all the Jews" on the weekly Hamas children's program "Tomorrow's Pioneers" broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV on May 2, 2014.
The young Hamas TV host Rawan talks to a young girl in the studio named Tulin, who says she wants to be a police officer when she grows up.
The host directs her to the conclusion that as a police officer she would shoot "all the Jews."
Iran Official Denounces Zionism at Synagogue - Joshua Levitt (Algemeiner)
Assistant Iranian President for Nationalities and Religious Minorities Yonsei Ali denounced Zionism in a speech to a Jewish congregation at a synagogue in Shiraz, according to Al Arabiya.
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- Abu Marzouk: "Hamas Will Not Recognize Israel or Disarm Al-Qassam Brigades" - Adnan Abu Amer
"Hamas will not recognize Israel," Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas' political bureau, told Al-Monitor in an interview.
"This is a red line that cannot be crossed." He said the Quartet's requirement that Hamas recognize Israel "does not concern us one bit."
"We would have spared ourselves seven years of misery under the siege and two wars in 2008 and 2012 had we wanted to recognize Israel."
He also reiterated Hamas' refusal to disarm the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. "The Quartet negotiations require that violence be renounced, which, in effect, means that the al-Qassam weapons must be decommissioned. But this is unacceptable, and Hamas will reject it outright." (Al-Monitor-US News)
- Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Nusra Front Taking Control of Southern Syria
'Urayb ar-Rintawi writes in Tuesday's Jordanian daily ad-Dustour:
The [al-Qaeda-affiliated] Nusra Front has arrested Col. Ahmad an-Na'ameh, along with a number of other leading figures from the Free Syrian Army's (FSA) military command. An entire regional axis (which includes Jordan) had wagered on Na'ameh and the FSA to contain the spread of al-Qaeda's and other salafi jihadi forces in southern Syria, but this wager has failed.
Jordan's northern borders are currently under the control of the Nusra Front, not the FSA, or are on their way to becoming so, as the regime's forces in Der'a and Qunaitra provinces are on the retreat.
See also Despite the Narrative, Syria's Rebels May Be Gaining Ground - Hassan Hassan
Almost everywhere in Syria, with the exception of Homs, the rebels are making surprisingly steady progress.
Rebel sources report a "massive flow" of arms, including advanced weapons, into moderate rebel groups. The Free Syrian Army, in particular, is back after months of being eclipsed by Salafist and jihadist groups.
According to rebel sources, the FSA is winning back armed factions, previously acquired by religious groups. These factions are joining the FSA because it is increasingly better funded and because supplies to extremist forces are no longer as steady as in the past.
Jabhat Al Nusra abducted Col. Ahmed Ni'ma, the FSA commander in Deraa, who comes from a large tribe in Deraa. Jabhat Al Nusra's inability to keep its head is symptomatic of the increased heat against it, as it fears it would be eventually targeted from more than one side.
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- Israel to U.S. and EU: Palestinians Deceived Kerry - Barak Ravid
The Palestinians intentionally deceived U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about their willingness to conduct serious negotiations, and should therefore be blamed for the failure of the peace talks, Israeli National Security Advisor Joseph Cohen charged in a letter sent to numerous Western capitals over the last two weeks.
Attached to the letter is a 65-page document that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat submitted to PA President Mahmoud Abbas on March 9, three weeks before Israel was to release the final batch of Palestinian prisoners. In it, Erekat proposed a strategy for the PA during the final month of negotiations and after April 29, when the talks were originally scheduled to end before their premature collapse.
Over the past month, the PA has implemented most of Erekat's recommendations. This shows that even while the Palestinians were talking with Washington about the possibility of extending the peace talks, they were actually planning to blow them up, and had been planning to do so even before Abbas met with U.S. President Barack Obama on March 17. (Ha'aretz)
See also Peace Talks Crisis Was Pre-Planned by the Palestinians - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Israel Slams Report of Massive Spying Against U.S. - Attila Somfalvi
Israel on Tuesday hit back at a Newsweek report claiming American officials believe Israeli intelligence-gathering efforts in the U.S. have "crossed red lines." The Israeli embassy in Washington said: "Israel does not conduct any spying activities (against the U.S.), and condemns any attempt to tarnish Israel with false allegations."
Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said, "Israel hasn't spied on the U.S. since the Pollard incident [in the mid-1980s]....Israel doesn't spy against the U.S., period." A senior diplomatic source added: "Since Pollard, Israel is very careful. Things are very organized and coordinated with the U.S." (Ynet News)
- Why the Peace Talks Failed - Ron Kampeas
In an interview with Nahum Barnea, a veteran diplomatic affairs writer for the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, an anonymous member of the U.S. negotiating team [widely believed to be Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel who headed Kerry's negotiating team] said Israel's settlement activity was a principal cause of the breakdown in talks last month.
But Aaron David Miller, a U.S. Middle East peace negotiator under Democratic and Republican presidents, said blaming Israel would be counterproductive.
"The notion that the peace process collapsed because of settlement activity is a willful distortion of reality," he said. "That is not why Kerry's 9-10 month effort collapsed....The maximum that Netanyahu can offer on all core issues doesn't come close to the minimum that anyone on the Palestinian side can accept. This maximum-minimum problem is in essence the fundamental cause and has been for years. We can whine and complain about it, but you need to acknowledge it."
Einat Wilf, a former Knesset member, said the Americans were recognizing the reality that they could not force the process.
"If the Israelis and Palestinians are not reaching an agreement, it is not because they need an enthusiastic mediator," said Wilf. "They are not incapable children. If they are not making decisions, it is because they are assessing their alternatives." (JTA)
- A Postmortem of U.S. Diplomacy - Jonathan S. Tobin
In his interview, Indyk falls back on the same settlements excuse that Israel's critics always cite as proof that the Jewish state is obstructing peace. But the focus on how many "settlements" were being built during the talks is a red herring because almost all of the "settlements" - which are actually merely new houses being built in existing communities and not new towns - were being built in exactly the places Abbas supposedly had conceded would stay in Israel.
In other words, the building had no impact on the peace terms. For Indyk to specifically blame the announcement that several hundred new apartments would be built in the Gilo section of Jerusalem as the straw that broke the camel's back of peace is absurd. Gilo, a 40-year-old Jewish neighborhood in the capital, would remain inside of Israel even if peace were reached. How, then, could a few more apartments in a place that would never be surrendered by Israel serve as an acceptable rationale for a Palestinian walkout?
- The Right Way to Press Iran - Kenneth M. Pollack
The U.S. and its allies have finally begun to work out the terms of a nuclear deal with Iran.
While it is important to limit the numbers and types of centrifuges that Iran would be allowed to possess, as well as the quantities and qualities of uranium it would be allowed to keep, those issues are not the keys to getting the best deal with Iran. The White House's highest priority should be to focus on three other factors: conducting intrusive inspections, designing a mechanism to easily reimpose sanctions if Iran cheats, and extending the duration of the agreement.
Given Iran's history of lying about its nuclear program, America needs what it had in Iraq: the right of the inspectors to have completely unfettered access. America also needs a "snap-back" mechanism to easily reimpose the sanctions if Iran violates the agreement.
The best way is to suspend the UN and European sanctions rather than lifting them outright. In both cases, a new resolution could be passed every six months that would suspend the sanctions for six months, renewable in perpetuity.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
(New York Times)
Why It Is Hypocritical to Boycott Israel - Jake Wallis Simons (Telegraph-UK)
- Later this month, I am planning to travel to Israel to appear in the Jerusalem literary festival. As surely as night follows day, I have received an "open letter" from a group of 71 activists calling themselves the British Writers in Support of Palestine (BWIP), who "respectfully encouraged" me to boycott the event. But I am honored to have been invited to Israel, and will be proud to attend. Here's why.
- It is my strong belief that Israel is, relatively speaking, a force for good in the world. Every country that abides by the democratic process, enshrines in law the rights of women and minorities, and conducts itself with compassion both in war and in peace - or at least aspires to do so - deserves our support and respect.
- What about Israel's flouting of international law, I hear you ask? Very well: Britain intentionally bombed civilian targets during the Second World War, which was the last time we were under existential threat. If we were at war again, against an enemy that was able to strike at the heart of our civilian population centers, how would we behave?
- The Jewish state is roughly the size of Wales, with a ridge of high ground running along the middle of the West Bank. If Britain were surrounded by hostile neighbors at such close proximity, some of which contained terror groups bent on the destruction of the country, would we be doing any better? It is significant that a man who knows war, Col. Richard Kemp - the former commander of Britain's armed forces in Afghanistan - testified to the UN Human Rights Council that the Israeli military does "more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare."
- From a historical point of view, Israel has been attacked repeatedly by an enemy bent on its destruction (when the Arab world attempted to liquidate the Jewish state in 1967, the settlements had not yet been built). The country has suffered terror attack after terror attack, tragedy after tragedy. Clearly, whatever the boycott activists may say, to draw a parallel with pre-1994 South Africa is ludicrous.
- And given that according to a YouGov poll, 3/4 of Britons "see no reason why British performers should not travel to Israel" - and fewer than one in five Britons believe that Israeli artists should be barred from the UK - I travel in the knowledge that I have public opinion on my side.
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