Defecting Syrian Diplomat Tells All

Iranian Atomic Urgency

Elliott Abrams notes that Hillary Clinton hasn’t visited Israel for two years — a long time for an administration that put the Mideast conflict at the top of its To-Do list. But Abrams says Clinton has some good reasons for not spending as time as her predecessor, Condi Rice. Meanwhile, an AP analysis says the Mideast peace process took a back seat to Iran, Syria and Egypt.

For the first time, Abu Dhabi exported oil pumped through a pipeline bypassing the Straits of Hormuz. More at Bloomberg News.

Arab Spring Winter

A pro-Assad “shabiha” captured by rebels explained to the Daily Telegraph how he became drunk on power in pro-Assad militia:

For the equivalent of £300 a month, plus a £100 bonus for every victim, he had become a hired killer for President Bashar al Assad, he said. What was more, he had enjoyed every minute of it.

“We love Assad because the government gave us all the power – if I wanted to take something, kill a person or rape a girl I could,” he said, in a calm, quiet voice devoid of remorse . . .

He was not particularly interested in defending President Assad’s regime, he said, nor the Syrian leader’s minority Alawite sect, from which most Shabiha are drawn. “It wasn’t for Bashar. I didn’t care about Bashar al Assad. All I cared about was that I got the power.”

The Atlantic takes a look at the Syrian chemical weapon arsenal and whether the West can realistically secure or destroy the stockpiles. What’s at stake?

The nightmare scenario is that the custodians of the chemical-warfare facilities might defect and sell the materials to the highest bidder, potentially to Hamas and Hizbullah.

Syria’s Neighbors Facilitate Arms Transfers to the Opposition

Sinai Bedouins release two kidnapped American tourists. AP coverage.

Rest O’ the Roundup

The newly appointed NY Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, talked to the Columbia Journalism Review about her hopes:

[I plan] to move the position much more strongly into the digital world. We’re talking about an ongoing conversation with readers about all the issues that come up at the Times. So I would see the blog being a place to aggregate and curate conversation and criticism and discussion about the Times in one place and have plenty of back-and-forth and response, and have it happen in real time.

Sullivan replaces Arthur Brisbane, who steps down in September.

(Image of Fares via YouTube/Souria2011archives)

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