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Entries in Israel (345)


Syria Audio Analysis: The Significance of the Israeli Airstrikes --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24

I spoke this morning, along with correspondent Daniella Peled, on Monocle 24's The Globalist about the details and consequences of Israel's airstrikes inside Syria this weekend.

Listen from 7:09 mark --- with my contribution from 10:20 --- on The Globalist's homepage or in separate pop-out window

Take-away points:

1. A lot of the supposed information on the airstrikes --- such as Israel targeting weapons like Iranian-made Fateh 110 missiles or Israel acting without notifying the US --- is misleading or incorrect;

1. "Everyone --- the regime, the insurgency, regime supporters like Iran, opposition supporters like the US, Turkey, and Arab States --- has to re-calculate strategy in light of these attacks";

3. "But fundamentally, this does not change the calculus: is Assad going to help firm or step down? Are the opposition and insurgency going to be able to unify to help build internationa support?"

4. "The Israelis are trying to degrade Assad's military capabilities, which just happens to help the insurgents if they decide to make a push on Damascus."

I also talk about Sunday's curious report that a United Nations investigator has claimed "suspicions" of insurgent use of the nerve agent sarin.


Iran Today: Israel to Receive "Crushing Response"

Supreme Leader Watch

In a meeting with officials running elections, the Supreme Leader has declared that "no one has been able and no one will be able to postpone" June's Presidential ballot.

Ahmadinejad Watch

President Ahmadinejad, speaking in Urmia, has tried to define the Supreme Leader's declared "Year of Political and Economic Epic", while jabbing at his rivals: "Epic means destroying idolatry, putting things in the right place. All depends on one's will, not weapons and bank accounts."

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Syria Snap Analysis: What Did Israel Bomb, and Why?



One of the explosions on Mt. Qasioun, north of Damascus.

Early on Sunday morning, huge explosions rocked northern Damascus.

Scientists said that the explosions measured between two and three on the Richter scale, a scale designed to measure earthquakes. Giant balls of fire rose above Mt. Qasioun, a mountain that overlooks the capital and is at the center of Syria's largest military complex. The very symbol of Assad's control over Damascus was on fire.

The question remains, however, as to whether destabilizing Assad was the ultimate goal of this airstrike. At the very least, Israel has proven that it is willing to pick a side and go all in if it feels threatened.

This incident should also permanently put to rest the debate as to whether Assad's air defense is capable of standing up to external threats. Assad is completely vulnerable, and has been dealt a serious blow. As a result, Israel may have completely changed the debate about foreign intervention in a single instant, and may have catalyzed an international drive to remove Bashar al-Assad from power.

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Syria Today: Israel Airstrikes "Hit Military Research Centre"

See also Syria Snap Analysis: What Did Israel Bomb, and Why?
Middle East Today: Iraq --- Results from Provincial Elections Inconclusive
Saturday's Syria Today: Obama Maintains Cautious Line on US Intervention

1900 GMT: Erdogan Denounces "Butcher" Assad

Turkish Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has delivered his strongest denunciation of President Assad, "If God permits, we will see this butcher, this murderer receive his judgement in this world...and we will praise (God) for it."

Erdogan, speaking to lawmakers and party activists in a town near Ankara, addressed Assad, "You will pay a very, very heavy price for showing your courage to the babies in the cradle, the courage you cannot show others."

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Syria Today: Obama Maintains Cautious Line on US Intervention

Protest in Beza'a in Aleppo Province on Friday

1205 GMT: Sanctions and Surveillance

Documents establish that large amounts of computer equipment from Dell have been sold to the Syrian government through a Dubai-based distributor despite strict trade sanctions, according to The New York Times.

The computer equipment was sold by BDL Gulf, which is based in Saudi Arabia and is an authorised distributor for Dell in the Middle East and Africa and a reseller for other computer brands, including Samsung and Acer.

BDL sold the equipment to Anas Hasoon Trading, a Damascus-based company with contracts to provide computers to the Syrian government, according to billings records and e-mail exchanges between the companies.

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Middle East Today: Palestine --- Assassination of "Bomb-Maker", Killing of Jewish Settler 

Iraqi troops inspect scene of car bomb in Baghdad (Ahemed al-Rubaye/AFP)

See also Syria Today: "US Moving Towards Supply of Weapons to Insurgents"

Bahrain: MPs Denounce US

Denouncing a US State Department report on the Kingdom's human rights record, Bahraini MPS have accused Washington of trying to "destroy" and "colonise" country.

The legislators said the report is based on "lies" and "false" information.

The report, released two weeks ago, criticised "citizens' inability to change their government peacefully", the arrest and detention of protesters on "vague" charges, and the torture of prisoners.

Latifa Al Gaoud, the head of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee, said, "Countries that produce evil reports have intentions to blackmail our leadership for their own interests, disregarding their bloody history that gave them the power they are using against us now.

Hassan Al Dossary, the chair of the Public Utilities and Environment Affairs Committee declared, "The US policy, represented by US Ambassador Thomas Krajeski, clearly shows what is in store for the future of this country and we are clearly saying he is unwelcome in Bahrain."

MP Sameer Kadhim made a racist slur against President Obama, accusing him of trying to colonise Bahrain through the enforcement of ideologies.

Kadhim's comments were taken off Parliament's record after several MPs protested the racism.

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Middle East Today: Israel Extends Detention Orders For Security Suspects

Iraq: 26 Die in Monday Bombings

Five car bombs have exploded in public areas in central and southern Iraq, killing 26 civilians and wounding dozens.

Two parked car bombs went off simultaneously in the city of Amarah near a gathering of construction workers and a market, killing 13 civilians and wounding 42, according to police.

A parked car bomb exploded near a restaurant in the city of Diwaniyah, killing eight civilians and wounding 25 others.

Amarah and Diwaniyah are predominantly Shia areas.

Hours later, another parked car bomb went off in the Shia hold city of Karbala, killing two civilians and wounding 12 others.

A parked car bomb ripped through a Shiite neighborhood in the otherwise predominantly Sunni town of Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, killing three and wounding 16.

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Middle East Today: Killing Off an "Independent" Egyptian News Site

See also Syria Today: The Debate Over Chemical Weapons
Saturday's Syria Today: A Chemical Weapons "Game-Changer"?

Egypt: Mubarak Appeal for Release Rejected

The Criminal court has rejected former President Hosni Mubarak's second appeal for his release from prison, during the investigation of charges of illicit gain from his position.

The court ordered Mubarak to remain in detention for 15 days while the charges are investigated.

Libya: Gunmen Surround Foreign Ministry

A military official says about 200 armed men are surounding the Foreign Ministry building in Tripoli, demanding the ministry reform and hire former fighters who helped overthrow the Qaddafi regime.

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Syria Analysis: Chemical Weapons, the US, and the Insurgency

The use of chemical weapons or their possession by the "wrong" forces, while genuinely considered a threat by US and European governments, has been used to date to justify the build-up of a multi-national base in Jordan, with training and the supply of weapons to insurgents.

The US Secretary of State, though indirectly and carefully, opens up the prospect: will the chemical weapons argument now be used to escalate that support, possibly moving it into the open?

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Bahrain (and Beyond) Live: Stepping Up the Formula 1 Protests

Protest in Bahrain's capital Manama on Wednesday night with the chant and horn blast, "Down, Down [King] Hamad"

1345 GMT: Egypt

The retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak, on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that toppled him, will be held on 11 May.

The retrial was postponed last Saturday when the presiding judge suddenly stepped down.

Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison last June, but the verdict was suspended on appeal because of procedural irregularities.

Former Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly and six of his aides will also be tried again.

On the same day, the court will also hear a case against Mubarak, his sons Alaa and Gamal, and business tycoon Hussein Salem on corruption charges.

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