Monday, August 26, 2013

  • Monday, August 26, 2013
From Ian:

‘Doomsday scenario in Syria’
Syrian opposition groups, for their part, may be already making the Saudi paper’s prediction a reality. Also accused of committing vast human atrocities, they have already vowed to bomb Alawite villages along the Syrian coast with thousands of rockets as retaliation for the chemical attack, according to the Dubai-based media channel Al-Arabiya.
The leading editorial in Al-Quds Al-Arabi states that, at this point, it is no longer important who carried out the chemical weapons attack. In a piece entitled “Doomsday scenario in Syria,” the paper argues that nothing other than military action can prevent Assad from continuing to subject his people to genocide.
JPost Editorial: Attention on Syria
It remains to be seen if the more aggressive tone will have any effect on the Syrian leader. With inspectors having arrived in the country just days before, why would Assad risk crossing such a redline? One interpretation is that he has become more brazen. With thousands of Hezbollah fighters entering the country last month to bolster the regime and his having pushed the rebels out of numerous areas along the Aleppo-Damascus axis, perhaps he thought it was time to deal a death blow to the rebels in the capital.
Has Assad come to view the international community as incapable of action, especially with his Russian and Chinese backers at the Security Council? If so, that is the challenge the West faces as it gathers its forces and contemplates action.
Netanyahu: Syria is Iran’s ‘testing ground’
“Now the whole world is watching,” Netanyahu said Sunday. “Iran is watching and it wants to see what will be the reaction to the use of chemical weapons.”
The prime minister went on to compare the Syria use of chemical weapons to Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons: “What is happening in Syria, simply demonstrates what will happen if Iran gets even deadlier weapons.”
Israel’s interest: That Assad not be victorious
Asked whether a US strike could trigger a retaliation against Israel, as happened during the first Gulf War, and whether the nature of the US strike might dictate the severity of Assad’s response, both Brom and Inbar were cautious yet dubious of Assad’s willingness to attack Israel.
“There was a broad Arab coalition against Saddam,” Inbar claimed, asserting that the point of Saddam Hussein’s missile launches in January 1991 was to drag Israel into the fray and thereby fracture the Arab unity. “Here there’s hardly any Arab coalition at all.”
Brom said Assad’s bottom line was “survivability” — a goal that clashed with a major strike against Israel. “Syria is right on our border,” he said. “We can be very effective there… actually, more so than the Americans.”
Israeli President Peres Calls for Removal of ‘All Chemical Weapons From Syria’
“The use of chemical weapons to kill hundreds of women and children and the cries of the girl begging her father to come and save her is a cry to which we cannot remain indifferent,” Peres said. “I can understand the problems and the doubts, but the moral call is superior to any strategic considerations. The time has come for a joint effort to remove all the chemical weapons from Syria. They cannot remain there either in the hands of Assad or of others. In addition to everything else needed to stop this massacre there must be an international attempt to take out the weapons. It is very complicated and it is very expensive but it is more dangerous and more expensive to leave it there. It must be done.”
Ariel: As Jews, We Must Protest the Genocide in Syria
“On this day, although it is a day of great joy, I cannot refrain from mentioning what is happening in the north in our neighbor, Syria,” said Ariel, referring to the reports of a deadly chemical attack by regime troops outside of Damascus.
“Of all people, we, who cried out, and have been asking to this day, 'how could the world have been silent?' – We, as people; we, as Jews, cannot remain silent in the face of genocide, no matter who it is and where it is. And I say to ourselves – first of all, to ourselves, as Jews; as citizens of Israel; as a minister in the government of Israel, there will not be another genocide. We will not allow it,” he said.
Top US official to 'Post': UN probe in Syria 'too late to be credible'
“If the Syrian government had nothing to hide and wanted to prove to the world that it had not used chemical weapons in this incident, it would have ceased its attacks on the area and granted immediate access to the UN – five days ago,” the official said.
“At this juncture, the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team is too late to be credible, including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted as a result of the regime’s persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days,” the official continued.
Extensive evidence indicates that sarin gas was used against civilians in Ghouta on Wednesday, killing upwards of 1,000
UN team probing Syria gas attack comes under sniper fire
The UN team that is supposed to investigate an alleged chemical weapons strike near the Syrian capital Damascus came under sniper fire on Monday as it traveled to the scene of the attack. A vehicle was damaged but there were no reports of injuries.
A United Nations spokesperson tweeted that the team had turned back to replace the vehicle after which the investigators intended to head out again. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky said the investigators were ”deliberately shot at multiple times” by unidentified snipers in the buffer zone area between rebel- and government-controlled territory in Damascus
31 Palestinians among victims of alleged chemical attack
At least 31 Palestinians were among the victims of an alleged chemical attack said to have killed hundreds in Damascus on Wednesday, relatives said Saturday.
Opponents of Bashar Assad said the Syrian president's forces used chemical weapons east and southwest of Damascus in attacks Wednesday that killed hundreds. The regime has strongly denied the accusations.
Eleven members of the al-Hurani family, from Jenin in the northern West Bank, were killed in "the massacre in Ghouta," including six children, family member Abu Zeid al-Hurani told Ma'an.
Analysis: The international law president vs the Damascus regime
A former top legal adviser to the British government and another to the US State Department recently wrote that intervention could be justified on several grounds: Syrian attacks on Turkey could trigger collective selfdefense obligations by other NATO states, Syrian chemical weapons use could accidentally cross Syrian borders impacting other states, potential transfer of chemical weapons to Hezbollah could lead to further national security threats, recognizing the Friends of Syria group as the sole representative of the Syrian people as France has could sidestep any violation of sovereignty issue, the humanitarian situation is sufficiently dire and extreme (which has some veil of UN legitimacy under a similar 2005 doctrine endorsed by parts of the UN called “R2P” or responsibility to protect) as the Kosovo case.
Analysis: How will the US and its allies strike Syria?
International law bans the use of chemical weapons on any battlefield under any circumstances. And R2P – a norm agreed upon by global powers at the United Nations 2005 World Summit – compels the international community to respond if a country fails to protect its citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.
Russia agreed to the principles of R2P at the summit, and cited R2P during its campaign in Georgia in 2008.
Cameron reportedly pushing Obama toward Syria strike
The report by The Times of London, which was unsourced, came as US and Western leaders have increasingly placed blame on the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad for a devastating alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds near Damascus last week.
According to the paper, Cameron wants to act while outrage over the chemical attack is still fresh.
UK: Action over Syria possible without UN unity
Hague accused the Security Council of “not shouldering its responsibilities” over the Syria crisis, saying disagreements among the five members have prevented any action over Syria for too long.
“Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity in the UN Security Council? I would argue yes it is,” Hague said an interview with the BBC.
Turkey says it would join coalition against Syria
“We always prioritize acting together with the international community, with United Nations decisions,” Davutoglu told the Turkish daily Milliyet, Reuters reported. “If such a decision doesn’t emerge from the UN Security Council, other alternatives… would come onto the agenda.”
Davutoglu said that dozens of countries are currently discussing possibles responses. “If a coalition is formed against Syria in this process, Turkey would take its place in this coalition,” he said.
Western military intervention doomed, Assad vows
Western military intervention into Syria would only end in failure, Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Monday in an extensive interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia, in which he dismissed allegations of chemical weapons use by his government.
If America decided to intervene the Syrian civil war, it would meet “what it has been confronted with in every war since Vietnam… failure,” Assad said, according to a translation provided by the Syria state news agency.
Lebanese mufti: Hezbollah destroys Syria, Lebanon for Israel
Mufti of the Lebanese Mountain Sheikh Muhammad Ali al-Juzo addressed the double attack in Tripoli over the past weekend, in which more than 40 people were killed, and fiercely criticized Hezbollah.
"Hassan Nasrallah insists on taking on his adventures at the expense of the Lebanese people," the Sunni Sheikh said, and added that "Israel can rest since Hezbollah is destroying Lebanon and Syria for her with its involvement in the (Syrian) civil war."
Hezbollah-Hamas Relationship Strained
According to a report published on the Iran-based Tabnak news site, Hezbollah and the Lebanese intelligence are accusing Hamas members of taking part in a string of recent attacks in the country. These include the Aug. 15 car bomb explosion in southern Beirut that killed 22 people and injured hundreds more, as well as the firing of Grad missiles towards Lebanon.
Among many Egyptians, a dramatic shift in favor of the military
Like many Egyptians, [Hassan] Hosny blames the Brotherhood for the violence that has convulsed his country since the coup. “Most of the people believe the police and military are standing by the people’s side,” he said.
The military has portrayed its takeover as a bold stroke to save the country from terrorism. But the public’s rejection of Morsi is rooted in the wildly high hopes that ordinary Egyptians had for the Arab Spring — and their bitterness at how democracy failed to deliver jobs or social justice.
Israel an obstacle to Arab democracy, Egyptian strongman wrote
According to Sissi, “The fact that Israel reflects a Western interest raises suspicion among Arabs about the true nature of democracy.” The Egyptian general did not explain how Israel’s existence cast doubt on the notion of democracy, but asserted that it would “slow the emergence of democracy in the Middle East.”
Conflicts in areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel must be resolved before democracy can be “fully accepted” by people in the region, he added.
Democracy, Sissi claimed in 2006, was closely related in the minds of Arabs to the economic interests of the United States, and was therefore ill-received. For democracy to take root in the Middle East, it must reflect local culture and show more respect for local values, namely Islam, he said.
Muslim Brotherhood leader Gomaa Amin is in hiding in London
Gomaa Amin is understood to have been made head of the Islamist organisation last week following the arrest of his predecessor in Cairo by Egypt’s military rulers.
Mr Amin, 79, had flown to London about two months ago for medical treatment and as a result escaped detention when the army seized power in a bloody coup.
He is now residing at an undisclosed address from which he is trying to orchestrate the Muslim Brotherhood’s response to the coup.
The presence of Mr Amin in London is a potential headache for British authorities who may be obliged to provide protection for such a senior and controversial figure.

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