Israel Daily News Stream 05/28/2012

Iranian Atomic Urgency

U.S. officials among the targets of Iran-linked assassination plots

But U.S. and Middle Eastern officials now see the attempts as part of a broader campaign by Iran-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over a span of 13 months. The targets have included two Saudi officials, a half-dozen Israelis and — in the Azerbaijan case — several Americans, the officials say.

Experts to Reuters: Iran now has enough uranium to produce five atomic bombs.

A Washington Post staff-ed is concerned the White House is softening on Iran:

Some U.S. patience is warranted. But extended negotiations will only benefit Iran, by allowing it to continue work on the Fordow underground facility, which may be nearly immune to Israeli military attack. What’s most concerning about the Baghdad talks is that they failed to show that the regime of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has made a strategic decision to strike a bargain.

Financial Times staff-ed (click via Google News) worries about an Israeli strike on Iran before diplomacy is allowed to run its course:

First, without removing the military option from the table, it is right to give negotiations more time. An Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities this year would be unacceptable. Most analysts believe that Iran’s nuclear programme will not in 2012 cross a threshold of capability that warrants military action. The principal aim of an Israeli attack this year would be to entrap President Barack Obama in the midst of his re-election campaign and force him into war. Such a reckless and cynical tactic would deserve condemnation.

Aaron David Miller (CNN) comments on the latest Israel-Iran developments.

Arab Spring Winter

God bless Iran’s ISNA news agency for finally confirming that Iranian personnel are in indeed Syria helping Bashar Assad. YNet explains what happened:

If the Islamic Republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of civilians would have been twice as bad,” General Ismail Qa’ani, deputy-commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Qods Force, told Tehran’s ISNA news agency.

Iran, he added, “Had physically and non-physically stopped the rebels from killing many more among the Syrian people.”

This was a rare admission by an Iranian official that Tehran was truly aiding the Damascus regime.

The quote was later removed from ISNA’s website.

Syrian regime and rebels blame each other for massacre in Houla. UN puts death toll at 116. If that’s not bloody enough, opposition groups also say that the army’s shelling of Hama killed 41.

Elliott Abrams hopes the Houla massacre will spark some White House soul searching.

This shocking event is no surprise, for the Syrian government has been killing civilians for 14 months and the death toll is now above 12,000. The disgrace is ours, for letting it go on, month after month.

One of the Assad family’s biggest apologists, Patrick Seale, weighs in at The Guardian‘s Comment is Free section. The Guardian’s self-righteous pontificating during Operation Cast Lead stands in sharp contrast with Seale’s mind-boggling nonchalance for real Syrian atrocities:

For its part, the regime’s brutality can be explained, if not condoned, by the fact that it believes it is fighting for its life – not only against local opponents but also against an external conspiracy led by the United States (egged on by Israel) and including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain and France.

The regime’s strategy is to prevent – at all costs – its armed opponents from seizing and holding territory inside the country, as this might give foreign powers a base from which to operate. As soon as it identifies pockets of armed opponents, it sends in its troops to crush them. That it often uses disproportionate force is not in doubt: this is all too predictable when a conventional army faces hit-and-run opponents. Trapped between opposing forces, civilians inevitably pay the price.

Tonight, UK’s Channel 4 airs its investigation into Assad’s personal culpability for crimes against humanity. YNet sheds  more light on C4’s revelations. 

The Washington Post profiles Houda Nonoo — a 47-year-old Jewish mother of two who serves as Bahrain’s ambassador to the US. She originally feared being a lightning-rod on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, she’s the face of the  regime while the Arab Spring rages.

“Whatever goodwill the Bahraini government got by sending a Jewish woman to Washington has been completely overtaken by events,” said Slavin of the Atlantic Council.

YouTube’s new Human Rights Channel wants to “help raise awareness and provide context for the growing number of videos created by citizen journalists and activists all over the world.” While The Lede plugs the channel’s lofty potential, I gotta wonder if it’s going to be a natural habitat for Pallywood.

Rest O’ the Roundup

Fairly or not, Big Media’s pricking away at the Tel Aviv bubble. AFP‘s a case in point:

YNet rounds up what everyone else is saying. And the BBC piles on with the State Department’s 2011 human rights report.

As IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visits China, AP says the two countries are stepping up security cooperation. China has considerable leverage with Iran, not to mention the lucrative possibilities of selling made-in-Israel technology. So what’s in it for Beijing?

He said he believes the warming ties were initiated by the Chinese, who were caught off guard by the Arab Spring protests convulsing the region in the past year and a half/

“Due to the Arab Spring, China may have the impression, a stronger impression than before, that Israel is relatively stable compared with other players in the region,” he said.

Students asked ‘why do some people hate Jews?’ in GCSE exam

It’s not known who created Flame, but Reuters ranks the data-stealing cyber warfare virus up there with Stuxnet and Duqu:

The Lab’s research shows the largest number of infected machines are in Iran, followed by the Israel/Palestine region, then Sudan and Syria .

Flame can gather data files, remotely change settings on computers, turn on PC microphones to record conversations, take screen shots and log instant messaging chats.

For more, see Thursday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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