Thursday, June 27, 2013

  • Thursday, June 27, 2013
From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Is Hamas Losing Power?
Hamas's failure to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has also driven away an increased number of Palestinians -- in addition to reports about fierce internal squabbling among Hamas's top brass and the absence of a unified policy toward many controversial issues plaguing the Palestinians and the Arab world.
In a move reflecting Hamas's growing predicament, the movement was forced this week to welcome Palestinian singer Mohamed Assaf, who won the popular Arab Idol contest held by Saudi Arabia's MBC TV station.
Although Hamas leaders have condemned the contest as "anti-Islamic" and "morally corrupt," they were forced to voice their support for the 23-year-old Assaf in the wake of the overwhelming and unprecedented support he received from Palestinians.
When Hamas leaders begin to "sweat," it should be seen as a positive development in the Palestinian arena. It now remains to be seen whether Palestinians will take advantage of the situation and turn against Hamas.
Barry Rubin: Arab World War Two: Sunni versus Shia
As a new report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center puts it:
“The depth of the Sunni-Shi’ite schism can be seen in all the major arenas where regional conflicts are being waged. It is reflected in Hezbollah’s growing involvement in the fighting in Syria, the spilling over of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon, record-breaking sectarian violence in Iraq, and the aggressive stance taken by the Persian Gulf states towards Iran and Hezbollah. Thus, the Sunni-Shi’ite schism is emerging as one of the most influential factors shaping the Middle East in a time of regional upheaval.”
Why the world loves Palestinians
The unique outpouring of love and money for the Palestinians can’t be because the other Arab nations care for them. If they did, they wouldn’t treat them so badly whenever they come in contact with actual Palestinian Arabs. And it certainly can’t be because they are such exemplary world citizens: Palestinian Arabs popularized airline hijacking and suicide bombing (the main ingredients of the worst terrorist attack ever), and have been responsible for several wars in Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza, etc., not to mention terrorism against Israel. How many people are dead that would be alive were it not for Palestinians and their Cause?
I think the explanation is simple: the world loves the Palestinians because of their choice of enemies! (h/t Norman F)
With Kerry en route, Israelis and Palestinians trade barbs
Just hours before the start of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s fifth visit to Israel in three months, officials on both sides of the conflict blamed each other for the stalled peace talks but promised to approach the prospect of new negotiations seriously.
“The ball is in the other court,” said senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said in an interview with Israel Radio Thursday morning. “Does Netanyahu really believe in two states for two peoples? Are we going to negotiate to resolve the conflict, or just to manage it? That’s what worries us. Believe me… the Palestinian leadership — we’re a partner. We have a mandate. We want and believe in [making peace].”
Abbas: We will only negotiate based on 1967 lines
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Al Jazeera Wednesday that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table only if Israel accepts the vision of two states based on the 1967 borders. His comments came a day before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in the region in an attempt to revive peace talks.
Abbas denied that he was setting preconditions to talks, saying he merely wanted clarity on the parameters of the negotiations.
‘$4b. for Palestinians contingent on peace progress’
A $4 billion foreign investment package to boost peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will not be considered unless US Secretary of State John Kerry succeeds in bringing the negotiating parties back to the table, The Times of Israel has learned.
Palestinians Want this Video Removed
It repeats some well known facts about the very loose connection between Muslims and Jerusalem, highlighting facts such as their bowing in prayer with their face to Mecca and their backsides to Al Aksa mosque, and the kids playing soccer in the sacred plaza.
Incidentally, Palestinians want a lot of things removed, it’s no reason to get over excited.
Michael Totten: Hezbollah's Disneyland
Hezbollah completely and utterly sanitized itself on top of that mountain.
Nowhere on the grounds is any mention whatsoever of the airplanes Hezbollah hijacked. Hezbollah pioneered suicide-bombings in the Middle East. Such things were unheard of before the Lebanese civil war. That’s a crucial part of Hezbollah’s history, and of the modern Middle East generally, but you wouldn’t know it from their museum. No exhibit chronicled the invasion of Beirut in 2008. Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war is ignored. Acts of mass murder carried out in Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Bulgaria are conspicuous blanks.
Why Syria Finds It So Hard to Thank Hezbollah for Saving Its Bacon
Late Tuesday, Syria's U.N. envoy, Bashar al-Jaafari, refused to respond to questions about Hezbollah's role in the fighting. Asked repeatedly to comment on Syria's military ally, Jaafari dodged, weaved, and ducked. When that didn't end the questioning, he insulted a reporter asking the question.
The hesitancy to acknowledge Hezbollah's role, according to Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, reflects the Syrian leadership's reluctance to admit its dependency on foreign fighters to prevail in battles on its own territory. At stake is the ability of the Syrian leadership, which already receives direct military assistance from Iran, to demonstrate convincingly that it is a truly sovereign nation with the power to rule its own country.
IDF Blog: How Hezbollah Funds Terror: Illicit Drugs and Money Laundering
To mark this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the IDF Blog examines how Hezbollah supports many of its terror activities – through illicit drug sales across the globe.
Saudi FM: “Cannot Be Silent” as Shiite-Backed Syrian Regime Conducts “Genocide” Against Sunni Rebels
Gulf states are calling attention to the critical roles being played by Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah in propping up the embattled Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal accusing the Shiite-backed regime of conducting a “genocide” against largely Sunni rebel forces. Speaking at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the foreign minister added that his country “cannot be silent” about the dynamic, and would take measures against the regime and its backers.
Moscow Announces All Military Personnel Evacuated from Syria
All of Russia’s military personnel have been successfully evacuated from Syria, including from its Mediterranean naval base at Tartus, Russian media reported Wednesday. Moscow is Syria's sole remaining major ally, other than Iran.
UN diplomat: 10 incidents of chemical use by Syria
Swedish chemical weapons expert Ake Sellstrom, who is leading the investigation team, was in Turkey on Sunday and Monday, reportedly talking to doctors who treated victims of chemical use, and is expected to produce an interim report on his findings, perhaps in the first few weeks of July, the diplomat said.
Israeli doctors save Syrian lives
“We treat patients regardless of religion, race, nationality, and give the best care we can provide,” Ziv Medical Center director Dr. Oscar Embon tells ISRAEL21c.
Some 30 patients (80 percent of the total) have been treated at Ziv, and the remaining Syrian victims have been cared for by Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Rambam Medical Center and Poriah Hospital near Tiberias.
ANALYSIS: Rouhani’s Election Proves Sanctions Work. Boost Them Now
Asked how he could continue negotiating with Yasser Arafat even as terrorism against Israeli civilians continues, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin famously insisted that “we shall negotiate peace, as though there were no terrorism, and we shall fight terrorism as though there is no peace.”
The Obama Administration and its Western allies would be wise to adopt the same stand toward Iran: pursue negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, but don’t lift the sanctions aimed at compelling the Iranians to stop it. In fact, they’d be well-advised tighten the sanctions to show that the West is losing patience.
President Elect Rohani Plagiarized Ph.D. Thesis
A spokesman for Glasgow Caledonian University said they’ve received several complaints about Rouhani’s doctoral work and would be looking into it. Apparently, the university library has already established that the thesis references Kamali’s book in the main body of Rouhani’s thesis and that the text was cited in the bibliography.
According to the Telegraph, two passages in the short extract from the 500 page thesis have come under scrutiny.
Finally, the Telegraph notes that it’s doubtful that Rohani, a high-ranking official in the Islamic Republic in the 1990s, actually attended the British university in person.
"Sunrise" over Istanbul
By now, it must have dawned on even the most dim-witted European politician that there is a discrepancy between Turkey's rhetoric and performance -- at least, as far as Europe is concerned. Turkey's EU Minister Egemen Bağış has from time to time entertained us with his various distortions of reality, including his recent claim that "the sun of Europe rises from Istanbul every morning nowadays." But the events that have unfolded in Turkey in recent weeks present a different picture.


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