Hackers Post False Syria Stories on Reuters Platform

Iranian Atomic Urgency

Must read: Washington Post columnist Colbert King gets it:

Iran’s anti-Semitism makes it the greatest threat to Jews

Donald Rumsfeld to Fox News: Israel should not give US advance notice of an attack on Iran:

If I were in the Israeli government, I don’t think I would notify the United States government of any intent to do anything about Israel — about Iran, I should say. I think that their relationship with the United States is such that it conceivably could leak out of the United States government that he called and that he plans to do something on Iran.

So my guess is, given the pattern of leaks out of the White House, that any prime minister of Israel would not call the United States and give clear intentions as to what they plan to do.

South Africa’s up in arms over a high-level influence peddling scandal that nearly led to a helicopter deal with Iran. From South Africa’s Sunday Times:

An audit report has slammed high-ranking government officials for “placing South Africa at risk” of breaking United Nations sanctions when they issued letters of support to a company trying to sell helicopters to Iran.

CNN: Iran claims another successful missile test.

Arab Spring Winter

Rebels abducted 48 Iranian pilgrims in Damascus. Arab media reports quoted rebels claims that the hostages are actually Revolutionary Guards members. Whatever the case, Meir Javedanfar lays out Tehran’s conundrum:

This is bound to put the government of supreme leader Khamenei in a serious bind.

On the one hand if he doesn’t evacuate Iranian citizens, it could create infighting within his regime as those who live in Damascus most probably have close ties to the Iranian government.

On the other hand if he does evacuate Iranians, this could be seen as a sign of betrayal and loss of confidence in the Assad government by his Syrian allies.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood acknowledged for the first time that it has formed an armed militia. A number of papers picked up on the Daily Telegraph‘s scoop:

The militias he funded were not affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main rebel movement, added Mr Abu Habel.

“Our mission is to build a civil country but with an Islamic base,” he said. “We are trying to raise awareness for Islam and for jihad.”

After being chewed up and spit out by Bashar Assad, Kofi Annan quit as the UN’s special envoy to Syria. A Times of London staff-ed (paywall) rightly notes why Russia’s unhappy:

For his mission was the only diplomatic veil protecting Moscow from the fury of the Arab world. As long as Mr Annan was fruitlessly shuttling between Damascus, Moscow and Arab capitals, Russia could pretend there was a peace process.

Fighting in Aleppo

A Reuters analysis “confirms” what Bashar Assad was saying all along: The Syrian revolution is an all-out proxy war:

“We most definitely have a proxy war in Syria,” says Ayham Kamel of the Eurasia Group political risk consultancy. “At this point of the conflict it is difficult not to say that the international dimension of the Syrian conflict precedes the domestic one.” . . . .

What started on March 15, 2011 as an internal uprising against the Assads’ repressive 40-year rule, emulating the revolts that toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, has now been transformed into an arena for foreign meddling.

I won’t argue the intervention of foreign jihadis; but Reuters doesn’t mention that Assad internationalized the uprising with Iran and Hezbollah’s assistance. Meanwhile, the BBC notes the rising role of jihadis in the Free Syrian Army.

Riot leaves Egyptian village without Christians

The violence was ultimately rooted in a dispute over a badly ironed shirt . . .

Talking to the proverbial “Egyptian street,” The Media Line reports that the US releasing Omar Abd Al-Rahman is a quid pro quo for better relations. The blind sheikh’s serving a life sentence for his connection to the 1995 bombing of the World Trade Center. Officials in Washington rule out Rahman’s release.

Rest O’ the Roundup 

Michel Suleiman

Bad news for Hezbollah: In an Army Day speech, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman rejected what Amir Taheri refers to as “the three pillars of Hezbollah discourse.” Taheri writes:

* Hezbollah insists that it maintains an unofficial army to “resist Israeli aggression.”

Suleiman said: “Defending the nation and ensuring its sovereignty with the force of arms is the exclusive prerogative of the national army.”

* Hezbollah also claims to be part of a “Resistance Front,” along with the Islamic Republic in Tehran and the Assad regime in Damascus. This, it says, means waging “relentless war” against the United States and Israel until “the Islamic Revolution” triumphs worldwide.

Suleiman, by contrast, pointedly asserted that no one had the right to involve Lebanon in conflicts that have nothing to do with it.

“We will not be dragged into problems created by others,” he said.

* Hezbollah has turned southern Beirut, parts of the Bekaa Valley and parts of south Lebanon into no-go areas for the Lebanese national army and police.

In tones that would have been unimaginable even a month ago, Suleiman said the national army would assert its presence throughout the national territory.

Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Schwammenthal: The EU should’ve designated Hezbollah as a terror group for democracy’s sake:

The artificial distinction between Hezbollah’s “armed wing,” as the EU so delicately puts it, and the organization’s “political” or “social” activities is meaningless. Hezbollah is a terror group to its core. Even when pretending to play the political game, it doesn’t operate like a democratic party but like the terrorist gang it is, intimidating voters and murdering and torturing rivals to advance the interests of Tehran and Damascus.

By adding Hezbollah to its terror list, the EU could thus simultaneously strike a blow against international terrorism and for Arab democracy.  It would not only undercut its fundraising but also its claims for respectability. The EU’s continued engagement with Hezbollah confers on the group undeserved international recognition, which helps it to sell its terror as “resistance” and its service to Tehran as legitimate Lebanese politics. By naming and shaming Hezbollah, the EU would help isolate it, diminishing its attraction both at home and abroad.

Israeli journalist Emanuel Rosen and his film crew were twice detained in Libya. Although they were traveling with European passports, a tense situation could’ve gotten hairier. The Times of Israel writes:

Had they carefully checked his passport, he said, they would have realized he “frequently” visited Israel, he said. And if they had Googled him, they would swiftly have established his identity.

“The problem is that there’s no one to turn to for assistance. You are alone. There’s no consulate or embassy . . .”

Avraham Burg (NY Times op-ed) frets about the future of Israeli democracy and bemoans the lack of a constitution.

Rebekah Brooks, News International’s top executive, was formally charged with three offenses of intercepting communications. She’s free on bail and returns to court on September 3.

(Image of South African flag via Flickr/arboresce, Aleppo via YouTube/AFP, Suleiman via Wikimedia Commons/Presidenza della Repubblica)

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