Entries in Israel (345)
Ramped-up foreign intervention is likely to tip the military balance against the Assad regime. But it faces a political question: is the aim merely to pressure and contain the President or to topple him?
And that question in turn leads to others: is there an effective political group, given the tensions and fragementing within the opposition, that can replace Assad? Will the "extremists", rather than the "moderates", win? Will the fall of the regime send destabilising ripples across the Middle East?
Assad is betting that all these questions can be turned into doubts to block further intervention for the opposition. Last night's declarations were his chips to support that bet.
Al-Manar: Mr. President, we are in the heart of the People’s Palace, two and a half years into the Syrian crisis. At the time, the bet was that the president and his regime would be overthrown within weeks. How have you managed to foil the plots of your opponents and enemies? What is the secret behind this steadfastness?
President Assad: There are a number of factors are involved. One is the Syrian factor, which thwarted their intentions; the other factor is related to those who masterminded these scenarios and ended up defeating themselves because they do not know Syria or understand in detail the situation. They started with the calls of revolution, but a real revolution requires tangible elements; you cannot create a revolution simply by paying money.
At least 33 people have been killed in the latest series of explosions in the capital Baghdad.
The attacks targets targeting mainly Shia districts of the city.
Earlier this month, more than 200 people were killed in a week in bombings and other attacks, in the most serious of violence this year.
Givat Assaf Outpost in the West Bank(Photo: Haaretz)
At least 13 people have been killed in bomb attacks today in Iraq, a day after a wave of bombings across the country left at least 76 people dead.
In the latest attacks, three people were killed when two bombs went off simultaneously in Tuz Khurmato, a town populated mainly by ethnic Turkmen and claimed by the government in Baghdad and ethnic Kurds.
Gunmen and a suicide bomber killed three people in an attack on an army patrol in a Sunni area of Tarmiyah, 50 kilomatres (30 miles) north of Baghdad.
Further north, six people died and dozens were injured when three bombs exploded in the cattle market in al-Aruba district in Kirkuk.
US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan have given a joint press conference in a rainy White House Rose Garden. One would think with both world leaders on the same stage that topics like terrorism on the Turkish/Syria border, the ongoing Syrian crisis, and the sectarian strife in Iraq would be major priorities. They were not. These topics were not raised until more than halfway through Obama's opening comments, and there was no news beyond echoing very general statements that mirror the policies that have been more-fully expressed at other times.
Syria was clearly not on the agenda, though another journalist makes an important note that this may soon change:
Note that PM Erdogan will have 2 hour private dinner w/pres Obama tonight, it's when, Erdogan says, will talk Syria in depth #rosegarden— ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) May 16, 2013
More notable might be the questions from the press. Due to rain, the press conference may have been shortened, but the 1st question asked to Obama was about a domestic scandal (the IRS) and the 1st question to Erdogan was about Turkey's policies towards Israel. In other words, while having both leaders on record at the same time, some really interesting questions could have been asked about how these two leaders will pursue their most pressing common problem. Instead, they were squandered on offering the leaders an opportunity to echo talking points that they're already given.
Step up, Jerusalem Post....
"Israel, Hezbollah, Iran are working with Assad"
Really? We get Hezbollah and Iran the part. But Israel?
Dramatic and complex events like those in Syria, with the prospect of further escalations both in and beyond that country's borders, demand careful, dedicated and in-depth coverage and analysis. Yet, on Wednesday, The Guardian announced that after 28 months, it is ending its Live Coverage not just of Syria, but of the entire Middle East. Its reason --- news is slowing to "gradual incremental developments" and it can no longer justify expenditure of resources on the project.
Of course, the decision was probably reached because of "business", not journalism. However, if news is to be effective, media have to find a way out from the financial dead end. An initiative has to put a relatively small investments into high-quality, dedicated work that might stand a chance of building an audience and encourage readers to pay attention to a story on a continuing basis.
Israel: Top Muslim Cleric Detained
Israeli police have detained the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, for questioning after Tuesday's scuffle between Palestinians and Israelis outside the city's al-Aqsa Mosque.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Hussein was detained to answer questions about his connection to the "public disturbance" on Tuesday at a compound that houses the mosque and overlooks Judaism's Western Wall.
The incident began, Rosenfeld said, when Israeli police detained an Arab who wanted to enter the plaza but refused to present his identification card.
It developed into a scuffle in which Muslim worshippers threw chairs at Jewish visitors, he added.
The violence coincided with Israel's celebration of "Jerusalem Day", when it marks the anniversary of its capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war.
2016 GMT: Massacre in Baniyas.
Though it was lost in the news of a massive Israeli airstrike in the capital, and lots of buzz about chemical weapons, this weekend there was a disturbing development on the coast of Syria, in Baniyas. The area is primarily populated by Alawites, however several some villages have a primarily Sunni population, and it appears that it is the Sunni villages that have been attacked. Perhaps more than 100 people have been killed in several villages. An activist has posted this summary, excerpted below, which has links to four graphic videos, though EA has not yet been able to verify the report:
The campaign of shelling and massacres in Banias and its villages stopped today; however, the fear of massacres still continues among the people. Security forces opened the road today to the neighborhood of Ras Al-Naba' and Batraya. The smell of the corpses of the martyrs has spread throughout the city. The Red Crescent accompanied some of the people to remove the bodies, which led to the discovery of more bodies of martyrs, who were field-executed and slaughtered with knives (especially children). There is a huge number of martyrs who have not yet been documented. Regime forces dug up a large hole on the outskirts of the city as a mass grave for the martyrs of Ras Al-Naba'.
The neighborhood of Ras Al-Naba'a and the village of Bayda are declared a disaster-zone and not suitable for further life whatsoever, after witnessing a campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis on the coast by Assad forces.