Israel Daily News Stream 06/06/2012

Arab Spring Winter

Barbara Walters admitted an ugly conflict of interest: Walters helped Sheherazad Jaafari advance her career after the Syrian spin doctor facilitated Bashar Assad’s interview. Details and links on Backspin.

What’s the the common denominator here?

  1. The road to success in Syria lies through compromise with Russia.
  2. Why Assad Can Still Count on Moscow and Beijing.
  3. Russia alone has the power to topple the regime and avert a civil war.”
  4. “Is Moscow even capable of securing al-Assad’s exit from power?”

Meet “Mustapha,” a veteran of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war. He’s now in the Bekaa Valley putting his experience to good use training the next generation of jihadis to fight Bashar Assad. Christian Science Monitor reporter Nicholas Blanford writes:

The Lebanese recruits are not the only non-Syrians to volunteer for the struggle against the Assad regime, the FSA volunteers say. Other foreign fighters include Jordanians, Tunisians, Algerians, and Saudis.

Their presence underlines the sectarian nature of the increasingly violent uprising, effectively turning the country into a new theater of jihad pitting a predominantly Sunni opposition against an entrenched regime elite drawn mainly from the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Syria declared a number of Western diplomats personae non grata. The BBC says the move followed the expulsion of Syrian diplomats in the wake of the Houla massacre.

Time‘s Tony Karon weighs in on the state of the Egyptian revolution. Overtaken by events, the secular liberals flail away:

But the revolutionaries remain (politically) trapped in the square with a limited organization and power base, which limits their ability to shape events. They deride the Brotherhood’s conservatism and accuse it of duplicity and complicity with the regime, yet they appear to lack a strategy for competing effectively with the Islamists among the impoverished majority, let alone one for effecting a real shift in power in Egypt.

Despite the dramatic events of the past 18 months, there has in fact been no revolution in Egypt. A revolution by definition is a dramatic shift in power from one section of society to another, and the grim reality in Egypt is that the regime once headed by Mubarak remains very much in power, despite his ouster. Some of the personnel at the top have changed, but not the regime itself.

Iranian Atomic Urgency

Der Spiegel rounds up German coverage of the country’s Dolphin sub sale to Israel. The media’s pretty supportive. Nice infographic on the Dolphin deterrence factor too. See also the Prime Minister’s interview with Bild.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are heating up. Baku certainly feels Israel’s love, even if it’s “written off” by Uncle Sam and Europe. The NY Times writes:

From Azerbaijan’s view, Israel has been more understanding than European countries that have criticized Baku about rights abuses but that do not acknowledge the challenges on its borders or the difficulty in building a secular culture in a predominantly Muslim country.

Israel unveiled a cyber-war simulator. The Jerusalem Post explains:

The simulator was developed specifically to train government and military personnel how to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive computer networks, like those used by the IDF.

The simulator offers training to prevent cyberwarfare events by simulating network protection scenarios. It allows debriefing and evaluation sessions in order to draw conclusions from the trainees’ performance.

The Daily Mail‘s Michael Burleigh’s in Tel Aviv to learn more about the Israel-Iran issue. Here’s his take on the “two Jews, three opinions” phenomenon going on within the political, military and intelligence echelons. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were really this clever?

This is like a hall of mirrors where real intentions are difficult to determine amidst so much bluff and double bluff. It might be a case that the spies do protest too much, and that their dissent is deliberately calibrated to show us that any decision to attack Iran has been reached only after careful consideration of all counter-arguments. That is designed to offset any likely international criticism (or sanctions) stemming from an unprovoked act of aggression.

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

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