Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday links part 1

From Ian:

NYT OpEd: Palestine’s Democratic Deficit By David Keyes
“It should come as no surprise that the Palestinian Authority is cracking down on basic freedoms. From the top down, a culture of repression reigns supreme. President Abbas’s term ended four years ago. He has clung to power as an unelected autocrat for nearly half a decade. In November, a senior adviser to Mr. Abbas, Mohammad Shtayyeh, told me that Mr. Abbas had no desire to continue ruling, but that he simply could not leave because of the divisions in Palestinian society. Suppressing criticism by resorting to a 50-year-old Jordanian law — designed to punish critics of Jordan’s monarchy when it ruled over the West Bank — has not helped burnish the questionable democratic credentials Mr. Abbas so often claims when meeting Western leaders.

Karl Vick: Spy Fail Why Iran Is Losing Its Covert War with Israel
“Created to advance Iran’s interests clandestinely overseas, the Quds Force has lately provided mostly embarrassment, stumbling in Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Kenya and most spectacularly in Thailand, where before accidentally blowing up their Bangkok safe house, Iran’s secret agents were photographed in the sex-tourism mecca of Pattaya, one arm around a hookah, the other around a hooker. In its ongoing shadow war with Israel, the Iranian side’s lone “success” was the July 18 bombing of a Bulgarian bus carrying Israeli tourists — though European investigators last week officially attributed that attack to Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah. That leaves the Islamic Republic itself with a failure rate hovering near 100% abroad and an operational tempo — nine overseas plots uncovered in nine months — that carries a whiff of desperation. A Tehran government long branded by U.S. officials as the globe’s leading exporter of terrorism may be cornering the market on haplessness.” (h/t RK)

Member of UK Parliament's International Development Committee says British government should 'end relationship' with anti-Semite aid recipients
Pauline Latham, a member of the Department for International Development's Select Committee has responded to The Commentator's article from this week
“Pauline Latham, Member of Parliament for Mid Derbyshire said: "DfID need to be able to ascertain how exactly UKaid partners are spending our aid donations. These examples of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic vitriol from the Ma’an Network – a UKaid partner – will do nothing to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the British government should certainly not be funding this sort of incitement. I hope that after further investigation, the DfID will see fit to end its partnership with the Ma’an network."

British MP Asks Liberal Democrat Leader to Condemn His Party’s Anti-Semitism (VIDEO)
“Will my Honorable friend take action against those MPs who use the conflict in Israel to make inflammatory statements about Jews, and does he not realize that his party is getting a reputation, sadly, amongst some of its senior members for being hostile to Jewish people?” Halfon asked.”

Israel blamed for death of Iranian general in Lebanon
Hassan Shateri of the Revolutionary Guard assassinated by ‘Zionist mercenaries,’ news site claims
"An Iranian independent news website reported early Thursday morning that Israel killed a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon.
The website, mashreghnews.ir, said Gen. Hassan Shateri was killed by “mercenaries of the Zionist regime,” but provided no details about his death. The semi-official FARS news agency confirmed the report a few hours later.
Shateri led Guard forces in Lebanon and oversaw Iranian-financed reconstruction projects there, aiding Hezbollah both financially and by training its members.
A second senior Iranian official was reported killed Wednesday in an attack on his car after he crossed from Syria into Lebanon."

'Tehran removing key intel material from Damascus'
Intelligence said to include secret agreements, minutes of meetings reports relating to Iran’s support of Hezbollah.
“Sources in the Syrian opposition claim that Iran has already begun transferring its diplomatic and intelligence archives from Syria, according to the Iraqi paper Azzaman on Monday.
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 Hezbollah from Syria.

‘Iran tried to buy game-changing centrifuge parts’
Large order of magnetic rings from China would greatly expand the country’s nuclear enrichment capacity, Washington Post reports
“Iran attempted to purchase special magnets used for uranium enrichment, components which experts believe would enable the regime in Tehran to upgrade its centrifuges and greatly expand its nuclear program, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Iran has been under heavy sanctions from the international community for the past few years due to its drive to acquire nuclear weapons.
Recently, the Islamic Republic sought to purchase 100,000 units of the highly specialized ring-shaped magnets, which are banned from export to the country under a number of UN resolutions, the report said.”

Russia Sends More Arms to Prop Up Syria’s Assad
Moscow is continuing its export of military hardware to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Russian government confirmed.
“We are continuing to carry out our obligations on contracts for the delivery of military hardware,” Isaikin told reporters at a news conference in Moscow, adding there were no attack weapons among the hardware, such as helicopters or planes."

Almost 1,000 Palestinians dead among 70,000 Syria death toll
UN states that death toll in Syria may be as high as 70,000, with Palestinian deaths almost 10 times higher than Hamas-Israel conflict of last year

MEMRI: Released Lebanese Terrorist Samir Al-Quntar Calls to Kill Collaborators with Israel VIDEO

Egyptian officials accused of covering up torture
Opposition suspects foul play in recent deaths of anti-government activists, which investigations attributed to accidents

Egypt Approves New Controversial Protest Law
Egypt's cabinet approves a new draft law regulating public demonstrations that is slammed by rights groups as restrictive.

Egypt's Central Bank Governor Narrowly Escapes Carjack Attack
Three masked gunmen killed the bodyguard of the Governor of Egypt’s Central Bank and stole his car on Wednesday. The driver survived.

MEMRI: Egyptian Cleric: Christian Women who Go to Tahrir Square to Get Raped Are Not Taboo

The war against Valentine's Day in South Asia
The fact that people prioritise campaigning against Valentine's Day in a part of the world with so many problems is absurd and disturbing
“It is a harmless bit of fun that can help a relationship along or even help start a new one. But it seems not everyone shares my cosy or perhaps naïve perspective.
With endemic poverty, illiteracy, corruption, poor health care and sectarian violence to deal with, one would think political and religious activists in South Asia have enough on their plates as it is. But never underestimate the twisted and illogical priorities of some. Against all the odds, certain political/religious groups in South Asia have managed to find time to organise protests against Valentine’s Day. Yes, Valentine’s Day!
Pakistan's premier Islamist agitators, Jamaat-i-Islaami, managed to organise a large protest in Peshawar, demanding that Valentine's Day be outlawed and replaced with a 'modesty day'. I'm not quite sure what people are expected to do on a modesty day in a city where most of the women already wear a burka and free-mixing of the sexes is strictly taboo. Who knows, maybe even further 'modesty' is just what that place needs in order to make progress.”