Weapons Inspectors Find Undeclared Sarin and VX Traces in Syria - Anthony Deutsch (Reuters)
International inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared, diplomatic sources said Friday.
See also What Do Syrian Chemical Weapons Violations Mean for Iran Deal? - David Gerstman (Legal Insurrection)
When we see that there are no consequences to Syria for violating a verifiable deal to get rid of its chemical weapons, what lesson should we draw about future violations by Iran of any deal that it agrees to regarding its illicit nuclear program?
Saudi Airline Cancels Contract after Plane Taken to Israel for Maintenance (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
Saudi Arabian Airlines has canceled a contract with the Portuguese company Hi Fly for taking a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane for maintenance in Israel, the Saudi Press Agency said Saturday.
China Seeking Military Base in Djibouti, East Africa (AFP)
China is negotiating a military base in the strategic port of Djibouti, its president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, told AFP, raising the prospect of U.S. and Chinese bases side-by-side in the tiny Horn of Africa nation.
Djibouti is already home to Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. military headquarters used for covert and anti-terror operations in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere across Africa.
France and Japan also have bases in the former French colony at the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, which has been used by European and other international navies as a base in the fight against piracy from Somalia.
Hizbullah Boosts Presence in Assad Stronghold in Syria (NOW-Lebanon)
Hizbullah has opened an office opposite the provincial police headquarters in the coastal Syrian city of Latakia, a stronghold of the Assad regime.
Hizbullah's flag was raised above the building and displayed on its balconies, while dozens of four-wheel-drive cars filled the street.
Hizbullah has also converted a Sunni mosque in the city into a Shiite seminary and prevented the mosque's Sunni imam from entering the building.
Holland to Cut Stipends of Holocaust Survivors Living in Settlements (Jerusalem Post)
Holland is slashing stipends by 35% to Holocaust survivors living in Jewish settlements.
Colette Avital, head of the Center of Organizations for Holocaust Survivors, told Israel Radio on Monday:
"It is surprising and outrageous that the Dutch government, of all countries, chooses to impose sanctions against civilians who endured the Holocaust on its territory and who subsequently chose to move in with their children at an old age. It is hard to accept such harassment of survivors."
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- Iran: Inspection of Military Sites Impossible Under Any Deal
Ali Saeedi, the Iranian Supreme Leader's representative at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said in an interview on Saturday, "There is no possibility for the inspection of military centers."
He underlined that inspections will be limited to those Iranian provinces in which a part of the country's nuclear fuel production cycle exists.
"If they want to put their nose into other places within the framework of inspections, it will be against our national interests and security, and neither the Supreme Leader nor the parliament will allow this to happen." (Fars-Iran)
- Assad's Spy Chief Arrested over Syria Coup Plot - Ruth Sherlock and Carol Malouf
The Assad regime has placed its intelligence chief under house arrest after suspecting he was plotting a coup. Ali Mamlouk, the head of the country's National Security Bureau, was accused of holding secret talks with Turkish intelligence and Rifaat al-Assad, President Bashar Assad's uncle, who has lived abroad in exile since he was accused of seeking to mount a coup in Syria in the 1980s. Even before Mamlouk's arrest, two other intelligence officials were killed or removed.
The role being played in the country's civil war by Iran is said to be a cause of tension, with some of Assad's inner circle afraid that Iranian officials now have more power than they do. "Most of the advisers at the presidential palace are now Iranian," said a source close to the palace. "Mamlouk hated that Syria was giving her sovereignty up to Iran. He thought there needed to be a change." Charles Lister, a Syria expert with the Brookings Institution, said, "Iran appears to be calling the shots now" in Syria.
- Saudi, Bahrain Kings to Miss Gulf Nation Summit in U.S.
The kings of both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will be skipping the Camp David summit of U.S. and allied Arab leaders, the two countries confirmed Sunday.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who is also interior minister, would lead the Saudi delegation and the king's son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is defense minister, will also attend.
See also Only Two of Six Heads of Gulf States - Kuwait and Qatar - Will Attend U.S. Summit on Iran (i24 News)
See also The Shrinking Gulf States Summit - Major Garrett (CBS News)
- What the Persian Gulf States Want: Iran Kept at Bay - Doyle McManus
This week, President Obama will gather kings, emirs and sheiks from the oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf at Camp David for a summit aimed at bolstering the U.S. alliance with their Sunni Muslim governments. These alliances have been fraying, mostly because of diverging views on Iran, the Arab states' historic rival, ruled by Shiite Muslims.
In recent months, as the Obama administration has neared an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear programs, the Saudis and their allies have reacted with near-panic. They don't want an equilibrium that grants Iran big-power status; they want Iran kept at bay. They think Iran is irrevocably bent on expanding its influence. And they aren't sure that the U.S. can be counted on to regulate the regional balance. "If you talk to most of the [Persian Gulf] countries, they will tell you that they are more concerned about Iran's behavior than they are about whether it's 5,000 or 7,000 centrifuges," Youssef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador in Washington, said last week.
(Los Angeles Times)
- Iran Funneling Money to West Bank to Buy Influence with PA - Arieh Dan Spitzen
Evidence suggests that Iran has been funneling money to the Palestinian Authority through its Shari'a courts and buying influence with the Palestinian public in the West Bank. One of the key channels of Iranian influence is the Al-Ansar Charitable Society, based in Gaza, which has been transferring Iranian funds to the families of Palestinian "martyrs" (including many terrorists) on behalf of the Iranian-funded Martyrs Foundation in Lebanon. According to its website, on July 23, 2012, the Al-Ansar Charitable Society distributed $1,650,000 from the Iranian Martyrs Foundation to families of "martyrs" killed in the West Bank. Iranian financial support was facilitated by the PA postal services, where families of "martyrs" were instructed to go in order to collect their benefits. The writer formerly served as head of the Israel Ministry of Defense's Palestinian Affairs Department in the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
(Times of Israel)
- Power Struggle Erupts after Islamic State Leader Seriously Wounded - Jamie Dettmer
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State's leader, sustained serious shrapnel wounds two months ago that left his spine damaged and his left leg immobile, jihadist defectors say.
He is said to be mentally alert and able to issue orders, but the Islamic State's governing Shura Council is to decide on a temporary leader from among three IS leaders, two Iraqis and a Syrian. Abu Ala al-Afri is one of the nominees. A second Iraqi contender is Abu Ali al-Anbari, a former major general in the Iraqi army who has been in charge of overseeing Islamic State territory in Syria. The third nominee is a Syrian, the current IS governor of Raqqa, Ali Moussa al-Hawikh.
Activist Ahmad Abdulkader, who debriefed the defectors, said there has been a dramatic decrease in foreign recruits to the Islamic State. "There used to be each week 100 to 200 foreign recruits arriving in Raqqa [in Syria]; now there are five or six every week. The foreigners inside are communicating to their friends back home not to come and they're explaining the reality of what life is really like inside." (Daily Beast)
Draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The international community has never considered criminalizing anti-Semitism as an international crime, in a manner similar to the criminalization of genocide, racism, piracy, hostage-taking, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and terror.
- By its very nature, with anti-Semitism's long, bitter, and never-ending history, and its propensity to constantly re-appear in modern forms and contexts, it cannot and should not be equated with, linked to, or treated as any other form of racial discrimination. It stands alone. It cannot and should not be relegated to any type of listing of forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia.
- In this context, attempts, principally at the behest of the Muslim countries, to attach to it Islamophobia are clearly artificial and transparent, and fail to do justice to what clearly is a unique phenomenon that must be dealt with independently.
- To this end, and with a view to correcting what is clearly a vast international injustice, the draft document presented here is intended to universally criminalize anti-Semitism within the world community, in the form of an "International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism."
The writer participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel's ambassador to Canada.
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