News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Gaddafi's Grip Falters as His Forces Take On Protesters - David D. Kirkpatrick and Mona El-Naggar
The faltering government of Libyan Col. Muammar Gaddafi struck back at mounting protests with special forces and mercenaries. Roving the streets of Tripoli in trucks, they shot freely as planes dropped what witnesses described as "small bombs" and helicopters fired on protesters.
In Tripoli, police stations and government buildings - including the Hall of the People, where the legislature meets - were in flames. Protesters had torn down or burned the posters of Col. Gaddafi that were once ubiquitous in the capital. To the east, protesters in control of Benghazi flew an independence flag over the rooftop of the courthouse.
Justice Minister Mustafa Abud al-Jeleil resigned in protest o ver the deadly response to the demonstrations. In New York, the Libyan delegation to the UN defected, as did Libya's ambassador to the U.S. and its representative to the Arab League. Asharq al-Awsat reported that Gaddafi had put Gen. Abu Bakr Younes under house arrest after disobeying an order to use force against protesters. Two Libyan fighter pilots ordered to bomb protesters defected to Malta. (New York Times)
- Clinton Says Israeli Settlements Are "Illegitimate," Not Illegal - David Jackson
As the Obama administration vetoed a UN Security Council resolution claiming that Israel settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are "illegal," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday: "It's been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate." (USA Today)
See also Text of Clinton Interview - Christiane Amanpour (State Department)
See also Did U.S. Veto Hinge on One Word? - Joe Lau ria and Charles Levinson
President Obama telephoned PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, offering to either adopt or abstain on the resolution if the Palestinians agreed to replace the word "illegal" with "illegitimate" in reference to the settlements, according to a person briefed on the call. But Abbas refused. (Wall Street Journal)
See also U.S. Policy on Israeli Settlements - Dore Gold
Israeli settlements in the territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War began as military and agricultural outposts located for the most part in strategically significant areas of the West Bank which Israel planned to eventually claim. These settlements were also situated in areas from which Jews had been evicted during the 1948 War.
While the U.S. did n ot support the settlement enterprise, its response to the settlements has varied in intensity, depending on the overall relationship between the two countries. In the late 1960s, the Johnson administration was critical of Israeli settlement activity, but did not characterize the settlements as illegal. Eugene Rostow, a former dean of Yale Law School who was also Undersecretary of State in the Johnson years, would write years later that "Israel has an unassailable legal right to establish settlements in the West Bank." President Ronald Reagan declared that the settlements were "not illegal." He criticized them on policy grounds, calling them "ill-advised." (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Israel Concerned over Backlash from Egypt - Edmund Sanders and Batsheva Sobelman
Israel's so-called cold peace with Egypt is looking colder by the day. During a mass prayer service Friday in Cairo's Tahrir Square, anti-Israel cleric Yusuf Qaradawi - who returned to Egypt after years in exile - called for the "conquest" of Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque. Though Israelis have taken comfort in assurances from Egypt's military that international agreements such as the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty will be honored during its interim control of the country, opposition leaders in Egypt are talking about the need to "reassess" or "revise" the pact. (Los Angeles Times)
See also Egypt Gets Its Khomeini - Barry Rubin
On Friday, Feb. 18, Yusuf Qaradawi spoke to a giant cheering crowd in Tahrir Square. Qaradawi, the world champion radical Islamist cleric, said he looked forward to a similar ceremony in Jerusalem. Until now, the Egyptian revolution has lacked a charismatic thinker, someone who could really mobilize the masses. Qaradawi is that man. Banned from the country under the old regime, he is returning to his homeland in triumph.
Through Internet, radio, his 100 books and his weekly satellite television program, he has been an articulate voice for revolutionary Islamism. He is literally a living legend. It was Qaradawi who argued that Islamists should always participate in elections because they would invariably win them. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Israel's Arrow 2 Missile Defense System Successfully Tested - Yaakov Katz
Israel conducted a successful test of the Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system off the coast of California on Tuesday when it destroyed a target simulating an Iranian ballistic missile. The test was conducted jointly with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. (Jerusalem Post)
- IDF: Iran May Initiate Hizbullah Attack If Pressured by Anti-Government Protests - Yaakov Katz
Tehran could activate Hizbullah forces to attack Israel along the northern border in an effort to stave off domestic pressures within Iran, according to assessments in the IDF's Northern Command. The concern is that if the regime in Tehran feels under pressure due to anti-government demonstrations, it will try to initiate an attack on an Israeli target - either overseas or near the border - to divert attention from its own troubles. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel Questions PA Tourism Minister's Boycott Call - Ben Hartman
Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov on Monday expressed regret at PA Tourism Minister Hulud Deibas' call for the international community to boycott the 2011 International Tourism Conference in Jerusalem. "Tourism is a bridge to peace, dialogue and togetherness between the two peoples, and one of the principle confidence-building measures between the two," he said, noting that 2010 was the best year ever for tourism in the PA, and set records for shared tourism initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians. Joseph Fischer of IDB Tourism Ltd, on Monday said efforts to boycott Israeli tourism will hurt Palestinians more than Israelis. (Jerusalem Post)
Globa l Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- The U.S. Can Help Libyans Defeat Gaddafi - Paul Wolfowitz
Moammar Gaddafi is one of the world's most despicable despots. For 42 years he has held his subjects in a prison of fear that makes Hosni Mubarak's Egypt look free by comparison. He has fueled horrific wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and other African countries that have killed hundreds of thousands of Africans. And it is he who bears ultimate responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am 103 and the deaths of 270 innocent civilians. (Wall Street Journal)
See also U.S. and Europe Should Help Libyans Overthrow Gaddafi - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
- Forget Arab Democracy, Let's Pretend It's About Israel - Anne Bayefsky and Benjamin Weinthal
It is no coincidence that the Hizbullah-dominated Lebanese government, a non-standing member of the UN Security Council and an Iranian subsidiary, sponsored a resolution last Friday condemning Israeli housing construction in the disputed territories. The anti-Israel-resolution activity diverted the Council from passing resolutions against such authoritarian regimes as Iran and Libya for shooting their citizens and suppressing pro-democracy efforts. (National Review)
- Values, Emotions and Strategy on the Nile - Chuck Freilich
Egypt could become a moderate, stable, pro-Western democracy, committed to peace. Other outcomes, however, are also possible. Egypt may remain a military dictatorship. The Muslim Brotherhood or some other radical Islamist movement could eventually take over, in the coming period or down the line.
One can argue that they gained "only" 20% of the parliament when allowed to run, or, conversely, that a previously banned party won a "whopping" 20% despite severe restrictions and will likely do far better under free elections. Hamas in Gaza is simply the Brotherhood's Palestinian offshoot, not a positive omen when it comes to Egypt's future commitment to good governance, democracy and peace. The author, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, was a deputy national security advisor in Israel. (Kennedy School-Harvard University)
Iran Revolutionary Guard Skips a Crackdown - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
- The decision by the Tunisian and Egyptian armies not to crush the pro-democracy movement may be having an effect in Iran. In a speech last Thursday in Tehran, the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, Maj. Gen. Hassan Firuzabadi, said: "The people of the region are on the march for independence, freedom and Islamic democracy." Firuzabadi told officer cadets the task of the military is "to protect the frontiers of the country and defend its sovereignty" rather than the regime in place.
- As the pro-democracy movement staged marches in Tehran and several other cities, for the first time, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) did not intervene to secure Tehran. That task was given to the paramilitary Baseej.
- A letter purportedly written by a number of mid-ranking officers to Revolutionary Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Muhammad-Ali Aziz Jaafari referred to the "behavior of the Egyptian army and the Tunisian army before it," saying that experiences in which the Guard was deployed to crush "peaceful demonstrations in our cities" should not be repeated.
- If regime change occurs in Iran, the army may well side with the people. This is what happened in Tunisia when the army blamed all on President Ben Ali's Presidential Guard, the Tunisian equivalent of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Hamid Zomorrodi, an expert on Iran's military and a former naval officer, says: "Tunisia and Egypt have given the IRGC chiefs a bad shake."
See also Security Forces Quell Opposition Protests in Tehran - Thomas Erdbrink
Thousands of Iranian security forces dispersed anti-government demonstrators who tried to gather Sunday in Tehran's main squares. Witnesses described large groups of protesters at several locations in the city and a hefty number of masked security forces armed with clubs, tear gas and Tasers out to thwart them. (Washington Post)
Top Sunni Cleric Says Libyan Army Should Kill Gaddafi (AFP)
Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf Qaradawi told Al-Jazeera on Monday, "Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr. Gaddafi should do so."
He also told Libyan soldiers "not to obey orders to strike at your own people."
Iran Naval Ships Enter Suez Canal (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
Two Iranian ships, a frigate and a supply ship, entered the Suez Canal on Tuesday and were heading towards the Mediterranean, an Egyptian canal official said.
Report: Hizbullah Working with Mexican Cartels - Adam Housley (Fox News)
My military and Department of Homeland Security contacts are insistent. It's not a question of if Hizbullah operatives have been smuggled into the U.S., but how many?
My contacts also have real concern that bombing techniques used in the Middle East to promote terror are now also being used inside Mexico, as the cartels war with each other and anyone in their way.
Mexican authorities busted a senior Hizbullah operative, Jameel Nasr, who employed Mexican nationals with family ties to Lebanon to set up a network designed to target Israel and the West. He traveled frequently to Lebanon to receive instructions from Hizbullah commanders.
As one contact told me, "Mexico knows the seriousness of a cartel connection with Hizbullah and the threat to their national security."
The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan - Jonathan Schanzer (Wall Street Journal)
A small but growing group of anti-regime Jordanian activists is openly seeking to end the monarchy. Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, known as the Islamic Action Front (IAF), may be best poised to stir up popular unrest.
The king, seeking to stave off a crisis, met with the IAF earlier this month for the first time in nearly a decade.
The IAF seeks to amend Jordan's election laws, which could enable the IAF to regain significant parliamentary power, and possibly even a majority.
The IAF could then challenge secular Jordanian laws, the king's economic ties with the U.S., and Jordan's unpopular peace with Israel.
The writer is vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Lara Logan and Egyptian Liberation - Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe)
The despicable sexual attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Cairo's Tahrir Square wasn't shocking at all.
According to a 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 83% of native Egyptian women and 98% of women visiting from abroad have experienced public sexual harassment.
More than half the Egyptian women reported being molested every day. And contrary to popular belief, most of the victims were wearing modest Islamic dress.
See also Female Circumcision - 90 Percent of Childbearing Women in Egypt? - Evelyn Leopold (Huffington Post)