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June 3, 2011

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IDF Sources: Assad Regime Will Eventually Succumb to Syria Protests - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad will not survive and will eventually collapse under the pressure of demonstrations. This is the assessment of Israel's military establishment - and this view is gaining strength.
    A senior security source told Ha'aretz this week that "Assad is becoming weaker. It may take a few months, or a year or more, but the regime will probably fail to recover."
    "Assad has lost his legitimacy in the eyes of his people and therefore his fate is sealed. Every week of demonstrations and deaths only makes things more difficult for him....I do not think he has a chance against the opposition."

Abbas Advisor: The Refugees Are the New "Palestinian Nuclear Weapon"  (MEMRI)
    On May 23, 2011, the PA news agency Wafa published an article by Sabri Saidam, PA President Mahmoud Abbas' advisor for information technology and vocational training and Fatah Revolutionary Council deputy secretary-general, who said that the marches on Israel's borders on "Nakba Day" had revealed the new "Palestinian nuclear weapon" - a weapon he described as more powerful than Israel's entire arsenal.

CNN Poll: Americans Sympathize More with Israelis than Palestinians by 67 to 16 Percent - Scott Clement (Washington Post)
    According to a CNN Poll conducted May 24-26, Americans sympathize more with Israelis than Palestinians by a 67 to 16% margin.
    Sympathy with Israel is up from 60% in 2009.
    While 65% says the U.S. should not take either side in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, 35% say the U.S. should take Israel's side while just 1% favors backing the Palestinians.
    Full Poll Results (CNN)

French Writer Passes Libya Rebel Message to Israel (AFP)
    French writer Bernard Henri Levy said he delivered a message on Thursday from Libya's National Transitional Council to Israel's premier saying they would seek diplomatic ties with Israel if they came to power.
    "The main point was that the future Libyan regime would be moderate and anti-terrorist and will be concerned with justice for the Palestinians and security for Israel," Levy said. "The future regime will maintain normal relations with other democratic countries, including Israel."

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Palestinian Unity Deal Going Nowhere Fast - Tom Perry (Reuters)
    In the West Bank, men suspected of belonging to Hamas are still in jail for opposing President Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority.
    In Gaza, where Hamas rules, Abbas supporters continue to face harassment by the Islamist group's security forces.
    In the month since it was announced, a deal aimed at ending the feud between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah has made little headway toward repairing the damage of four years of civil strife.
    While Fatah and Hamas flags have reappeared in the streets of Gaza and Ramallah for the first time in years, members of both groups say any changes are so far cosmetic.

Saudi Islamists and the Potential for Protest - Stephane Lacroix (Foreign Policy)
    Saudi Arabia has remained fairly quiet during the recent months of Arab uprisings. A few demonstrations did take place, mostly in the Eastern Province, but never gathered more than a couple of thousands.
    The real reason that Saudi Arabia has not seen major protests is that the Saudi regime has effectively co-opted the Sahwa (or al-Sahwa al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Awakening), the powerful Islamist network which would have to play a major role in any sustained mobilization of protests.
    Like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Sahwa in Saudi Arabia is by far the largest and best organized nonstate group, with arguably hundreds of thousands of members.
    Its mobilizing capacity is huge. In the 2005 municipal elections, in most districts of the major cities, Sahwa-backed candidates won with impressive scores. Sahwis may not start the protest, but it won't succeed without them.
    While Islamist movements in most countries developed on the margins of the state, the Sahwa was the product of the co-optation of foreign members of the Muslim Brotherhood into the Saudi state in the 1950s and 1960s.
    The fear of losing the very favorable position that the Sahwa occupies has, until now, represented a key obstacle to its transformation into a real opposition movement.

Iran, Syria Agents Enter Kuwait on Fake Passports - Abdul Shakoor Abi Hassan (The Nation-Pakistan)
    The Kuwait Ministry of Interior has received information from Bahrain security authorities that Iranian and Syrian intelligence officials have entered Kuwait on forged passports following the recent security chaos in Bahrain, the Al-Seyassah daily reports, quoting a senior security source.
    Some of these elements are also loyal to Hizbullah of Lebanon.

Life-Saver Sows Seeds of a Better Future between Israelis and Palestinians - Patrick Martin (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    Suad Ghouti's sixth child, nine-month-old Abdel-Rahman, had a serious heart defect, and the family's specialist in Gaza told her the only place the boy could receive the surgery he needed was in Israel.
    But in the religiously conservative and militant city of Rafah where many senior Hamas leaders were born and raised, Israel is regarded as the enemy. Putting your son's life in the hands of "the Jews" was highly risky and politically inappropriate.
    An Israeli non-governmental organization called Save a Child's Heart has performed heart surgeries on more than 2,600 children from around the region at no cost to the patients or their families. Some 48% of the children are Palestinian.
    While SACH's staff and volunteers are almost entirely Jewish, about 90% of the children treated are Muslim.

Israel-Based Drugmaker Gets FDA OK for Generic Alzheimer's Drug (AP-Ynet News)
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. to sell a generic version of Alzheimer's drug Aricept, the market leader among drugs that alleviate symptoms such as memory problems, confusion and aggression.
    Pfizer lost exclusivity for the drug in November.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syria Continues Attacks on Protesters While Calling for Dialogue - Liam Stack and Sebnem Arsu
    Syria's military forces continued pressing to crush a three-month-old popular uprising on Thursday, shelling a string of southern and central towns even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned President Bashar al-Assad that his legitimacy had "nearly run out." Troops and tanks continued for a fifth day to assault a belt of towns around Homs, including Talbiseh, Deir Maaleh and Al Rastan. The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, a group monitoring the crackdown, said it had documented 70 deaths in Al Rastan and 10 in the Homs area since the military operation began last week. Security forces killed 13 in the southern town of Hirak, the monitoring group said. (New York Times)
  • UN Atomic Watchdog Seen Raising Pressure on Iran - Fredrik Dahl and Sylvia Westall
    The UN atomic agency is voicing growing concern about possible military aspects of Iran's nuclear program and Western envoys believe it may firm up its suspicions later this year, adding to pressure on Tehran. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano "makes clear that more information is coming in to him, that he and his inspectors are able to draw deeper and more substantive conclusions," a senior diplomat said. "It is very relevant to the debate on where we go next in terms of being able to further tighten the screws on Iran in the sanctions context."  (Reuters)
  • Ahmadinejad Losing Ground in Iran Power Struggle, Analysts Say - Matt Smith
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad is trying to retain control of Iran's Oil Ministry despite a ruling by the country's top judicial body that he can't serve as its acting chief, in the latest in a series of unusually public squabbles between Ahmadinejad and allies of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
        "I think Ahmadinejad underestimated the power of Khamenei, and he overestimated his own power," said Haleh Esfandiari, director of Middle Eastern studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, who was jailed for more than three months in 2007 during a visit to Iran. "You can step on anybody's toes, but not on his toe."  (CNN)
  • Iran Defense Minister Forced to Leave Bolivia over 1994 Argentina Bombing - Robin Yapp
    Iran's defense minister was forced to leave Bolivia after Argentina demanded his arrest in connection with the deadly 1994 bombing of the seven-storey Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AIMA) building in Buenos Aires. Ahmad Vahidi, invited to Bolivia by the country's Defense Ministry, is on an Interpol wanted list over the bomb attack that killed 85 people and injured 300.
        Argentina believes Vahidi planned the attack and gave the final go-ahead for the bombing. Alberto Nisman, the lead prosecutor investigating the attack, contacted Interpol's offices in Bolivia to demand Vahidi's arrest. But Bolivia instead told him that he must leave the country. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Will Defend Its Borders During Planned Protests - Barak Ravid
    Ahead of upcoming border protests on Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Thursday: "Like any country in the world, Israel has the right and duty to guard and defend its borders. Therefore my instructions are clear, to act with restraint, but with the necessary decisiveness to protect our borders, our communities and our citizens." He added that Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas were behind last month's deadly demonstrations. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Lebanon Seals Off Israel Border ahead of Planned Demonstrations
    The Lebanese Army Thursday declared the area around the country's border with Israel a closed military zone, a move aimed at preventing Palestinian protesters from demonstrating in the area this weekend, a Lebanese army source said. (DPA-Ha'aretz)
  • Pro-Palestinian Activists Call for Mass "Fly-in" to Israel in July - Oren Kessler
    Pro-Palestinian activists are planning to send hundreds of Palestinians living abroad on commercial flights to Ben-Gurion Airport on July 8 in a dramatic display of solidarity. According to a report released this week by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, organizers believe the planned Gaza flotilla is too limited in scope, and broader action is needed to "remove the blockade from the entire land of Palestine." After holding a protest rally at the airport, the arrivals plan to travel to the West Bank to "express solidarity" with Palestinians. Fifteen organizations are involved in the initiative, including the International Solidarity Movement. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Campaign to Delegitimize Israel (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Gearing Up for Border Demonstrations - Editorial
    On Sunday, June 5 - as on May 15 - Palestinians will seek to commemorate the Naksa ("setback" in Arabic), which like the Nakba is the Palestinian lamentation of Israelis' stubborn refusal to be wiped out by the combined armies of the Arab nations - this time in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Naksa, like the Nakba, has become the rallying cry on Facebook as well as in the Arab media for overcoming the "Zionist entity" by flooding Israel's borders with thousands of Palestinian "refugees."
        Few if any of these people can reasonably be defined as refugees since they have never set foot in Israel, let alone been expelled. They are, instead, the descendants of the several hundreds of thousands who left Israel after Palestinians failed to snuff out the Jewish state at birth and who paid the price of their leadership's disastrous mistakes and foolish intransigence.
        Israel might now again be forced to confront these "refugees" on its borders clamoring to "return" to their homes. It is essential that Israel prevent its borders from being breached by crowds intent on advancing a political agenda that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Peace Process

  • Obama's Commitment to Israel - Rahm Emanuel
    I am among the many who know that the Israeli people yearn for peace. They have taken risks for peace in spite of dangers. They will again, when they have a viable partner in the process and a region that recognizes a Jewish state of Israel with secure and defensible borders. In the president's speech on the Middle East, he said that the conflict cannot be resolved through unilateral actions or a UN vote establishing a Palestinian state but only through negotiations between the parties.
        The president said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority that embraces Hamas, a terrorist organization sworn to Israel's destruction, and he reaffirmed his commitment to Israel's qualitative military edge. He said that an independent Palestine must be a non-militarized state and that Israel's security should be demonstrated before phased Israeli withdrawals are completed. No peace can take place, he said, that does not provide Israel with the ability to defend itself.
        One sentence that he uttered received the most attention: "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." That statement does not mean a return to 1967 borders. No workable solution envisions that. Land swaps offer the flexibility necessary to ensure secure and defensible borders and address the issue of settlements.
        As the president said at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, "it means that the parties themselves - Israelis and Palestinians - will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967."
        No American president can or should attempt to dictate to our staunch ally Israel the terms of peace. Only Israel can determine that, a principle that the president also reaffirmed. Israel needs a partner in the peace process. If during the two years I served in the Obama White House the Palestinians had spent as much time working for peace as they did avoiding the table, the process would be much farther along. The writer is mayor of Chicago and former chief of staff to President Obama. (Washington Post)
  • How to Block the Palestine Statehood Ploy - John Bolton
    The next Arab-Israeli political flashpoint could be this fall at the UN General Assembly where the Palestinian Authority is lobbying Assembly members to legitimize its claim to international status as a "state." A resolution recognizing a Palestinian "state" could also declare its boundary to be the 1967 borders (in actuality, merely the 1949 armistice lines), with or without President Obama's caveat about "agreed upon swaps" of land. The obvious Palestinian objective is to remove the issues of statehood and boundaries from the realm of bilateral negotiations with Israel, making them fait accompli.
        Congress should legislate broadly that any UN action that purports to acknowledge or authorize Palestinian statehood will result in a cutoff of all U.S. contributions to the offending agency. If the General Assembly ignored this warning, all funds would be cut off to the bloated Secretariat in New York, but not to separate agencies like the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and others with their own governing bodies and funding mechanisms. Fatah's coalition with Hamas already provides statutory grounds (since the U.S. lists Hamas as a terrorist organization) to eliminate funding for the Palestinian Authority. The writer, who served as U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Virtues of Folding - Aaron David Miller
    Thirty months in, a self-styled transformative president with big ideas and ambitions as a peacemaker finds himself with no negotiations, no peace process, no relationship with an Israeli prime minister, no traction with Palestinians, and no strategy to achieve a breakthrough. There's great temptation in all of this to saddle the Obama administration with the lion's share of responsibility for this unhappy state of affairs. But that would be wrong, inaccurate, and decidedly unfair.
        There are big gaps on the big issues. The meaningless but oft-repeated line - that everyone knows what the solution will be - only serves to inspire false confidence and trivializes how hard it will be to get there. There are things in life that America just can't fix; for now, this may be one of them. (Foreign Policy)
  • A UN Resolution to Recognize a Palestinian State within the "1967 Borders" Would Be Illegal
    Read the full text of the May 25, 2011, letter to the UN Secretary General by jurists and international lawyers warning that the adoption of a resolution declaring a Palestinian state and determining its borders would be in stark violation of all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as contravening UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and those other resolutions based thereon.
        "Such unilateral action by the Palestinians could give rise to reciprocal initiatives in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) which could include proposed legislation to declare Israel's sovereignty over extensive parts of Judea and Samaria, if and when the Palestinians carry out their unilateral action." "The Palestinian exercise, aimed at advancing their political claims, represents a cynical abuse of the UN Organization and of the members of the General Assembly. Its aim is to bypass the negotiation process called for by the Security Council."   (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Arab World

  • The Slaughter in Syria - Editorial
    Based on interviews with more than 50 residents and a review of dozens of videos, Human Rights Watch concluded that at least 418 people have been killed in Daraa and its surrounding province in southwestern Syria, where mass protests first erupted on March 18, and that the regime's "abuses qualify as crimes against humanity." Two of the witnesses interviewed were among thousands detained in Daraa's soccer stadium on May 1 when, they said, security forces arbitrarily selected a group of more than 20 young men, lined them up and gunned them down. Other witnesses described an incident in which several soldiers who refused to shoot at protesters were themselves shot and killed.
        U.S. policy, restated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, remains a "hope" that "the Syrian government will end the brutality and begin a transition to real democracy." Ms. Clinton ought to read the Human Rights Watch report. No one who does so could propose such an outcome with a straight face. (Washington Post)
        See also Syrian Violence Tests U.S.; Effort to Court Assad Crumbles Amid Crackdown - Jay Solomon (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Brotherhood "Crescent" - Mishari al-Dhaidi
    The era of Arab uprisings may be witnessing the birth of a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Crescent, stretching from Yemen to Syria, via Egypt and Jordan. The leading Arab ally of Khomeini's Iran was and remains the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is the best-organized party and the main beneficiary of the shaking trees of the ruling regimes. It is picking the fruit that has scattered on the ground.
        In Egypt, the Brotherhood is the strongest player in the political arena. It is in a semi-coalition with the military. Its wishes are met. If 'Ali 'Abdullah Saleh falls in Yemen, the alternative will be the Muslim Brotherhood via their party, the Yemeni Grouping for Reform (YGR). In Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood are the main players in the political opposition, able to incite the street and exhaust the regime. In Syria, there is no ready alternative except the Muslim Brotherhood. We are at the beginning of an era replete with Muslim Brotherhood movements. (Asharq al-Awsat-Mideast Mirror-1Jun11)
  • Post-Revolutionary Egypt - Lee Smith
    Mubarak fought the Islamists tooth and nail for two decades, and they tried to kill him in Sudan. The reason that the Muslim Brotherhood still exists in spite of Mubarak's ruthlessness is that Islamism is a powerful political current that represents the flower of Arab modernity and will always have a constituency in Muslim-majority countries.
        Since the country's 2004 economic reforms, spearheaded by Gamal Mubarak and his band of technocrats, the country's economy grew at an average of 7% annually. It is not the rural or urban poor who engineered the revolution, but rather a large segment of middle-class youth enjoying the economic upturn who took to the streets. American taxpayers are expected to pick up the tab for someone else's street theater.
        The $2 billion that Washington has been giving Cairo every year for 30 years is essentially a bribe to convince Egypt not to shoot itself in the head by going to war with Israel. (Tablet)
  • Prevent Cairo's Switch from Friend to Foe - Joel Mowbray
    For the first time in a generation, Egypt is in strategic play. It could either stay a U.S. strategic partner and maintain peace with Israel, or it could join an Islamist axis with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt appears to be playing hardball, seemingly looking to extract additional concessions in exchange for continued loyalty.
        Any aid package that Congress passes will almost certainly require that Egypt complete the underground wall to close off the myriad tunnels as well as continue cooperating with the U.S. and Israel on other anti-smuggling activities. Egyptian military access to U.S. weaponry also could be tied to fulfillment of obligations under the Camp David Accords and adhering to agreements to supply natural gas to Israel. Debt forgiveness, loan guarantees and market access could be conditioned on Egypt adhering to existing agreements and cooperating on security efforts against not just Hamas, but also Iran and other terrorist entities.
        What's clear is that Egypt cannot be trusted simply to remain a U.S. ally. Too much anti-Semitic and anti-American sentiment has been building over the years. The writer is an adjunct fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
  • When the Nile Runs Dry - Lester R. Brown
    As global food prices rise, affluent countries like Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China and India have acquired huge tracts of land in Africa to produce wheat, rice and corn for consumption back home. South Korea has acquired an area twice the size of Rhode Island in Sudan to grow wheat, while in Ethiopia, a Saudi firm has leased 25,000 acres to grow rice. These land grabs pose a grave threat to Egypt.
        All of Egypt's grain is either imported or produced with water from the Nile River, which flows through Ethiopia and Sudan. These two countries together occupy three-fourths of the Nile River Basin. Today's demands for water are such that there is little left of the river when it eventually empties into the Mediterranean. Moreover, Ethiopia has announced plans to build a huge hydroelectric dam on its branch of the Nile that would reduce the water flow to Egypt even more. The writer is president of the Earth Policy Institute. (New York Times)

  • Gaza Flotilla 2

  • Political Stunts Not the Way to End Gaza Conflict - Ruth Zakh
    The new flotilla to Gaza is all about delivering provocation rather than aid, just like last year's. Imagine the house next door to yours was occupied by neighbors who announced that one of their most cherished goals was to drive you off your property and then proceeded to launch daily barrages of explosives into your yard, with no regard to whether these missiles exploded on the lawn, on your roof or in the faces of your children. This scenario describes Israel's current reality.
        Israel calls for a "total end" of the violence against its sovereign territory and civilian population and asks that its desire to protect its citizens from efforts to expand the armory of weapons intended for its destruction be respected. The need to stop maritime arms smuggling is the reason for the naval blockade. The writer is deputy ambassador at the embassy of Israel in Dublin. (Irish Times)
  • The Floating Theater of the Jihad - Melanie Phillips
    A second shopping mall is due to open in Gaza in June. It will house a huge supermarket, clothes and gift shops, a large restaurant, a modern coffee shop, a cinema and entertainment sites for children. Another planned event this month is the arrival of another huge flotilla carrying "humanitarian supplies" to relieve the, er, starvation and destitution in Gaza.
        The point of this exercise is not to relieve want. It is merely to stage a propaganda stunt that makes Israel look bad in the eyes of a credulous and malevolent world. Wake up Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland. You are supplying the repertory company for this floating theater of the jihad. (Spectator-UK)
  • Where They Really Need a Freedom Flotilla - Syria - Claudia Rosett
    If anyone involved in "Freedom Flotilla II" really wants to do some good in this world, there is another piece of turf along the eastern Mediterranean they could aim for. It's a place where the country's own government is now preventing entry by anyone likely to report back on the atrocities within. It's a country where Iran has been sending in the thugs of its elite Quds force to help crush an uprising of people calling for an end to decades of dynastic totalitarian rule. It's a place where international peace activists hoping to galvanize world opinion with a high-profile boat trip might usefully attempt a landing and display of solidarity.
        Syria, of course, is less attractive to flotilla types because Syrian security forces are likely to be a lot less considerate than Israeli commandos. Your average peace activist who might try sailing to the rescue of Syria's beleaguered demonstrators is more likely to get shot in the head than briefly detained and then repatriated. But don't hold your breath. Freedom is not what these flotillas are about. (Pajamas Media)

  • Iran

  • Princes of Persia - Amir Taheri
    The Larijanis, dubbed by Time magazine "the Kennedys of Iran," have captured a number of powerful positions within the Khamenist regime. Ali is speaker of the Islamic Majlis, Iran's fake parliament. Sadeq, a mullah, is chief justice. Muhammad-Jawad is advisor to the supreme guide. Baqer is dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Tehran and supervises the family's extensive business interests. Fazel, a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Canada, is there to look after the family's investments in North America and Europe and supervise contacts with "friendly circles" in Washington.
        Current configurations in Iran's Byzantine power game show that the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei has all but broken with his erstwhile protege President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In Tehran, the even money is on Ahmadinejad being deposed or forced to resign before the end of his term in 2013. However, the supreme guide needs a potential replacement as president. Tehran sources suggest Ali Larijani, who is the son of Grand Ayatollah Hashem Amoli, a close associate of Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the regime. Ali was only 20 when the 1979 revolution happened. Guided by his father, he became a mullah and joined the newly created Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), where he proved his loyalty to the new regime by taking part in firing squads executing regime opponents.
        The Larijanis have tried to adopt a pragmatic image, as opposed to Ahmadinejad's militant ideology. They see Ahmadinejad, the son of a blacksmith, as an outsider who is challenging the Khameneist aristocracy's domination of Iranian political and economic life. The Larijanis also oppose Ahmadinejad's radical foreign policy based on the assumption that Iran could drive the U.S. out of the Middle East and create an Islamic "superpower."  (New York Post)
        See also The Ayatollah Will Overwhelm Ahmadinejad - Mehdi Khalaji
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has now made the mistake that all Iranian presidents make: he has challenged the authority of the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is doomed to fail. The anti-Ahmadinejad camp's leaders, the brothers Ali and Sadeq Larijani, will help Khamenei to push the president from the center of power. But it is extremely unlikely that he will let the Larijani camp become powerful enough to win the next presidential election. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (CNN)

The Depravity Factor - David Brooks (New York Times)

  • By now you have probably heard about Hamza Ali al-Khateeb. He was the 13-year-old Syrian boy who tagged along at an anti-government protest in Saida on April 29. He was arrested that day, and the police returned his mutilated body to his family a month later. The family bravely put video evidence of the torture on the Internet, and Hamza's martyrdom has rallied the opponents of President Bashar al-Assad's Baathist regime.
  • The Syrian government is one of the world's genuinely depraved regimes. Yet for all these years, Israel has been asked to negotiate with this regime, compromise with this regime and trust that this regime will someday occupy the heights over it in peace.
  • For 30 years, the Middle East peace process has been predicated on moral obtuseness, an unwillingness to face the true nature of certain governments. For 30 years, diplomats have flown to Damascus in the hopes of "flipping" Syria - turning it into a pro-Western, civilized power. In any case, their efforts were doomed.
  • In fact, the current peace process is doomed because of the inability to make a categorical distinction. There are some countries in the region that are not nice, but they are normal - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia. But there are other governments that are fundamentally depraved. Either as a matter of thuggishness (Syria) or ideology (Hamas), they reject the full humanity of other human beings. They believe it is proper and right to kill innocents. They can never be part of a successful negotiation because they undermine the universal principles of morality.
  • There won't be peace so long as depraved regimes are part of the picture. As long as Hamas and the Assad regime are in place, the peace process is going nowhere. To have a peaceful Middle East, it was necessary to get rid of Saddam's depraved regime in Iraq. It will be necessary to try to get rid of Gaddafi's depraved regime in Libya. It's necessary, as everybody but the Obama administration publicly acknowledges, to see Assad toppled. It will be necessary to marginalize Hamas.
  • It was necessary to abandon the engagement strategy that Barack Obama campaigned on and embrace the cautious regime-change strategy that is his current doctrine. The machinations of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are immaterial. The Arab reform process is the peace process.
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