Tuesday, September 17, 2013

From Ian:

Analysis: Obama's Learning Curve Meets Bibi's Red Line
With Obama's policies in Egypt and Syria exploding in his face, his Cairo Speech dreams of a new Middle East devolving into an Islamist chaos, and Iranian “engagement” taking the form of threats against his family, Obama may also be more aware, somewhere deep inside his political persona, of the seriousness of the threats Israel faces. Possibly, his original antipathy for Israel and Netanyahu may have been tempered by the reality of living in the White House for almost five years.
The upcoming UNGA is a moment of great historic drama. Binyamin Netanyahu can be expected to be in top form. All of his warnings over the years have materialized. The danger of WMDs in the hands of rogue states have been demonstrated for the world to see, in Youtube videos of dead children lying in rows. Last year – the feeling was that while Netanyahu drew his red line, Obama had probably flipped the channel on his TV set. This year, however, Obama has also drawn a red line, and has had to try to defend it.
Perhaps, at last, Netanyahu's red line has met Obama's foreign policy learning curve, in which case there is room for very cautious optimism. This time, perhaps, the meeting between the two leaders will not involve snubs and public rebukes, but take place in an atmosphere that is conducive to understandings that can truly deter Iran and Russia from continuing their game of nuclear chicken with the US and Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh: King Abdullah Says No To Hamas
Jordan's King Abdullah has turned down a request from Hamas to re-open its offices in his country, according to informed sources in Amman.
The sources said that Qatar, one of the few Arab countries that continue to support Hamas, recently asked King Abdullah to allow Hamas to resume its activities in the kingdom.
The Jordanians banned Hamas in 1999 and stripped some of the Islamist movement's leaders, including Khaled Mashal, of their Jordanian citizenship.
One dead, dozens wounded in overnight clashes in Jenin
A wanted terrorist was killed and dozens were injured in clashes that erupted in the West Bank town of Jenin overnight Tuesday after an attempt to arrest the man was met with violent resistance, the IDF said Tuesday.
The soldiers encountered “a violent riot” as “Palestinians hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and improvised grenades at security forces who responded with riot dispersal means… Feeling an imminent threat to their lives, the soldiers returned fire toward the lower extremities of main instigators,” the IDF said.
Russia training Palestinian women to be paratroopers
The Palestinian Authority revealed on Monday that Russia has been training Palestinian women as paratroopers.
The PA security forces published a number of photos showing the women by trained by Russian experts.
This is the first time that Palestinian women are trained as paratroopers.
The PA does not have any planes or helicopters.
Ninety-Five Percent of Palestinian Government Workers Stage Strike
Palestinian media is reporting that a massive government strike which occurred yesterday may escalate and expand in the coming weeks. Yesterday 95% of Palestinian government workers launched a one-day strike, after their union chief called on them to do so.
The union is promising that next week it’ll be a two-day strike.
Isi Leibler: Putin’s Russia now a force in the Middle East
With the passage of days, weeks and months, interest in controlling his stockpiles will wane and the possibility of taking action will be effectively forestalled.
There will be no consequences to Assad’s actions, since Russia endorsed and the US capitulated to his demand that an agreement eschew any mention of reverting to military action should he renege on the deal.
In orchestrating his maneuvers in Syria, Putin has demonstrated not only his support of Syria and Iran, but his ability to stand up and deliver on behalf of his allies. Putin achieved regional hegemony through Russia’s alliance with a broad Shi’ite arc that encompasses Iran, Syria and Lebanon, and is likely to include Iraq.
Elliott Abrams: The Syria deal
Nevertheless the deal with Russia does not punish Syrian President Bashar Assad or strike a blow at the regime; it merely says "don't do it again." So the lesson for dictators who commit atrocities is that you can use chemical weapons 10 or 15 times, and then you may be asked to give them up. Period. It's like telling an ax murderer that his punishment is to give up his ax -- or to promise to give up the ax and promise that he has no more axes hidden anywhere else.
The Syrian regime, and Iran, and Hezbollah, and Russia, seem very pleased with this diplomatic achievement. But why should we be?
UN report cites ‘convincing’ evidence sarin used in Syria
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented the UN inspectors’ report to a closed meeting of the UN Security Council before its release.
“This is a war crime and a grave violation of … international law,” Ban told the council in remarks distributed to the press. “The results are overwhelming and indisputable. The facts speak for themselves. … The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare.”
Cameron: I wanted to act in Syria because of the lessons of the Holocaust
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who two weeks ago lost a vote in Parliament calling for military intervention in Syria, said he had wanted to act because of the lessons of the Holocaust.
“The horror of the Holocaust is unique but the lessons we learn from it are absolutely applicable right across our society at home and abroad. In particular, the lesson of not standing by,” he told 500 guests at an appeal dinner marking the 25th anniversary of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) Monday night.
Four Reasons the Syria Deal Could Fall Apart
The framework agreement contains a series of deadlines and requirements that could slip in the face of a government that has long been secretive about its arsenal and resistant to international inspections. Complicating the picture is the 2 1/2-year-old civil war, which will make it difficult, if not impossible, for international inspectors to do their work.
Here are some of the deadlines laid out in the framework agreement Saturday between Messrs. Kerry and Lavrov and what could go wrong with them:
Assad’s biological weapons absent from US-Russia deal
There is “not a word” about biological weapons in the agreement that US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, Channel 10 news said.
Assad has two biological weapons bases, one of them subterranean and a second in a coastal location, producing anthrax and other agents, the report said
Turkish warplanes shoot down Syrian helicopter
Turkey scrambled two F-16 jets along the border between its southern Hatay province and Syria after warning the Mi-17 helicopter it was approaching Turkish airspace shortly before 14:30 (1130 GMT), the military said in a statement.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said a warplane shot down the helicopter after it ventured up to 2 km into Turkey near the border town of Yayladagi. "It was repeatedly warned by our air defense elements," he said.
Report: Half of Syria's Hospitals Destroyed or Damaged
According to a report by The Telegraph, an open letter published by the world's leading general medical journal, The Lancet, claimed Syrian rebels are largely to blame for the disintegration of the country's medical infrastructure.
"Systematic assaults on medical professionals, facilities and patients are breaking Syria's health-care system and making it nearly impossible for civilians to receive essential medical services," the letter said.
Study: Syria rebellion ‘dominated’ by al-Qaida and Islamic jihadists
The Telegraph received an advance copy of defense consultancy IHS Jane’s new report, which is due to be published later this week. It estimates that around 100,000 fighters are currently battling the Assad regime in Syria, but that they have splintered into as many as 1,000 separate factions.
One in ten rebels, including thousands of foreigners, have aligned themselves with powerful international terrorist groups, most linked directly to al-Qaida.
Around 30,000 to 35,000 more agree with that worldview, but focus largely on establishing an Islamic caliphate in Syria instead of actively seeking ways to spread the conflict beyond its borders.
Meet the ‘moderate’ Syrian sheikh young think tanker wants us to adopt
The State Department-funded Syrian Emergency Task Force and Elizabeth O’Bagy backed an anti-Semitic, anti-Shiite imam for presidency of the Syrian rebels.
O’Bagy ran into trouble earlier this month after The Daily Caller revealed her dual role as a pundit urging war on the Assad regime in Syria and a paid contractor for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a pro-rebel front group. But while she still held a position at a connected Washington, DC think tank, O’Bagy strongly supported the anti-Semitic, anti-Shiite Sheikh Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib for a leadership position in an imaginary conquered Syria.
Netanyahu to meet Obama, urge more pressure on Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with US President Barack Obama in Washington DC later this month, ahead of his scheduled address at the UN General Assembly in New York, and will urge a stepping up of pressure on Iran to abandon its nuclear drive.
“In a week and a half, I will go to the United Nations General Assembly, and before that I will meet with President Obama. I intend to focus on stopping Iranian nuclear program. Really stopping the nuclear program,” Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Tuesday.
Report: Iran set to shut down nuclear site in deal with West
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, is willing to shut down a key nuclear site believed to be central in the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions that have crippled the country’s financial sector, according to a report which appeared in the prestigious German weekly Der Spiegel.
According to intelligence sources who spoke with the newspaper, Rouhani is willing to allow Western inspectors to oversee the removal of centrifuges from the secretive Fordo plant. Rouhani may even announce the offer and delve further into details during his appearance before the United Nations General Assembly at the end of the month.
Iranian President: “Clear to All of Us” That Western Moves Against Syria Part of Globe-Spanning Pro-Israel Conspiracy
Today he explained, according to Iranian and Western media sources, that Iran’s interests in Syria are grounded in the fact that it is at the center of a global conspiracy to boost Zionist control. Iran’s state-controlled Fars news agency described Rouhani’s speech, which was given to what the outlet describes as “ranking commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)”:
Egyptian Military Storms Islamist Held Village
Egyptian security forces stormed Delga, an Islamist-controlled village in central Egypt that had been the scene of some of the worst anti-Christian violence in Egypt.
According to reports, Egyptian soldiers and police entered Delga in the Minya province just after dawn, firing tear gas and searching for suspects,AFP reported. Security forces had arrested 56 terrorists by Monday afternoon.
Egypt Air Force Jets in Northern Sinai
Egyptian Air Force jets were seen circling Tuesday in the skies of northern Sinai, over the area of Sheikh Zwaid, according to Voice of Israel public radio. Sounds of explosions were heard as the Egyptian military continued its anti-terrorist operations against Islamist militias.
Egyptian military jets are not allowed in Sinai according to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979. However, Israel has allowed the Egyptian military to operate in northern Sinai recently, in order to root out the terrorist infrastructure that had formed there.
Egypt to Re-open Rafiah for Special Cases, Say PA Sources
The Egyptians notified the PA that the crossing would operate four hours a day to allow patients and students to leave. The move came in response to a request by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the sources said.
The Rafiah crossing has been closed for security reasons ever since the Egyptian army started a crackdown against terrorists in the Sinai peninsula.
Ma’an reported that Abbas on Monday telephoned the chief of the Egyptian intelligence, Maj-Gen. Muhammad Tuhami, and requested that the crossing be opened to allow students and humanitarian cases to leave Gaza.

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