Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Iran claims it busted a network assassins working for Israel to bump off nuclear scientists. More on Tehran’s trash talk at the Jerusalem Post.
• Asharq al-Awsat pans the new Al-Mayadeen TV station as “the last attempt to revive pro-Assad media.” I was more intrigued by a snippet which stirs up debate over Al-Jazeera’s record:
A well-informed Al-Jazeera TV source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Al-Jazeera’s Beirut bureau – which had previously been headed by Bin Jiddo – witnessed “something like a mass defection from Al-Jazeera to Al-Mayadeen.” The source also revealed that numerous Al-Jazeera presenters and editors had resigned from the Qatari-based station over its coverage of the Syrian revolution.
• Worth reading: Aaron David Miller (Foreign Policy) insightfully explains the international inertia towards Syria:
The only thing that could alter this passivity is a spike in the killing and violence that goes qualitatively beyond the horrors we’ve seen so far. A successful intervention would require a grand concert of powers all focused not just on ending the killing but on creating and nurturing a post-Assad Syria. Right now, the external players are too divided, too self-interested, and too committed to their own narrow concerns for that. Syria may be fixable, but certainly not on the cheap.
• UN monitors allowed into Al Heffa after Syrian government says it “cleansed” the village of rebels. The NY Times updates the situation.
If the realists are right that Iran is America’s greatest threat in the region, then ousting Iran’s best friend would be a strategic victory. On the other hand, if Mr. Assad murders enough people to survive, he will be even more beholden to Iran and Russia, and more inclined to make trouble for Lebanon, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf Arab states. If he prevails, the rest of the region—and the world—will also know that he did so despite insistent but irrelevant calls from the U.S. that he had to go. American credibility and influence will be weaker for it.
• Writing from Beirut, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius takes note of what he refers to as Lebanese “sectarian fatalism.”
What worries me is the way Lebanese political factions are positioning themselves for the wider war they all claim to abhor. The talk last week was about how, if the fighting continues, Syria will be partitioned, de facto, as terrified civilians seek the protection of armies and militias pledged to defend Sunnis, Alawites, Druze, Kurds and other groups. The Syrian government and opposition both insist they are against sectarian war — but the emerging Sunni-Alawite fault line is clear.
• AP analysis: Iran fails to find foothold in Egypt.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• At a White House ceremony, Shimon Peres recevied the Presidential Medal of Freedom. ABC News coverage. Peres’s advisors remain hopeful that an American “no” on clemency for Jonathan Pollard isn’t decisive. The Jerusalem Post writes:
The president emphasized that his plea for Pollard’s release is not a legal issue but rather a humanitarian one. “The president has humanitarian authority,” he said of Obama. “The president can mull considerations that the courts did not.”
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Goldberg has a different take on the medal ceremony:
The show of affection was designed, it seems, to send a message to Netanyahu: Try a bit harder to bring about peace, and you, too, will be welcomed to the White House the way we welcomed Peres.
• Interesting initiative:
(Image of Peres via YouTube/whitehouse)
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.
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