Saudis Reject UN Security Council SeatOctober 20, 2013 15:10 by Pesach Benson
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Today’s Top Stories
1. The US is considering slowly unfreezing billions of dollars in Iranian assets if the mullahs take specific steps to ease up their nuclear program. The NY Times, which broke the story, explains the Obama administration’s thinking:
Such a plan, under which the United States could free up Iran’s frozen overseas assets in installments, would avoid the political and diplomatic risks of repealing the sanctions, which had been agreed to by a diverse coalition of countries, the official said. It would also give President Obama the flexibility to respond to Iranian offers that emerge from the negotiations without unraveling the global sanctions regime the administration has spent years cobbling together.
The official likened the plan, which is still being debated inside the White House and the State Department, to opening and closing a financial spigot.
2. Saudi Arabia rejected a UN Security Council seat., saying it was fed up with the UN’s handling of Syria, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Mordechai Kedar and Erik Voeten point out that sitting on the council would have
A) forced the Saudis to take public positions on very sensitive issues, and
B) drawn unwanted scrutiny to the kingdom’s woeful human rights record and support for Sunni terror.
3. Max Fisher nails Israel-Turkey ties, and Bibi’s refusal to apologize for the Mavi Marmara makes sense. There’s a lesson for Big Media too:
There’s a larger lesson here: many developments in international relations happen in secret, with incidents like this that we never hear about. In following it as it happens, we’re only seeing part of the picture. We’re all working with incomplete information — that includes heads of state as well as regular people and professional journalists and analysts — and it can be easy to draw imperfect or outright false conclusions. Things aren’t always quite what they seem.
For years, Netanyahu’s failure to apologize looked rash, impudent, irresponsible — a tantrum and a problem that the Americans had to solve for him. Now it looks significantly more rational. With time, and more revelations, it could look different again.
History is only clear, if it’s ever clear, in hindsight. Without complete information, events can be difficult to understand as they’re happening. So we usually fill in with personality: We say that Netanyahu got angry, or prideful. It turns out there was more to it.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister dug in his heels over the revelations.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Must read: Aaron David Miller writes in Foreign Policy why the Mideast is less and less important to the US. Miller also touches on what this means for Israel:
Iran’s nuclear pretentions remain an acute challenge, and an unresolved Palestinian problem holds longer-term worries, too. But the notion that the Jewish state is a hapless victim, the Middle East’s sitting duck, has been an illusion for some time now. Indeed, that image infantilizes the Israelis and creates a sense that they don’t have freedom of action vis-a-vis their friends and enemies — which they do . . .
Israel was never America’s client. On the contrary, we helped enable and empower its independence of action. If Israel acts militarily against Iran because diplomacy can’t address its concerns on the nuclear issue, it will be another indication that, as much as we would like to shape what goes on in the Middle East, we really can’t. We don’t live there, and we are clearly unable or unwilling to dictate to those who do.
• From NOW Lebanon: Lebanese security forces are gearing up to raid a Palestinian refugee camp to demolish 20 illegally built structures. It’s only an outrage when Israel does this.
While the network’s foreign news coverage is acceptable, the viewer gets the feeling that AJA is “up to something” whenever the news involves Israel, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Mideast in general.
• Don’t the Europeans care that the PA’s stealing their aid money? asks Jonathan Tobin.
- The NY Times’ smear campaign against Benjamin Netanyahu continues.
- Hezbollah seeks 15,000 recruits.
- Family of the first Arab recognized by Yad Vashem rejects award.