Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Ehud Olmert indicted, Syrians heap scorn on international observers, and Turkish politicians jockey for position amid reports that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancer.
Arab Spring Winter
• Irish Times correspondent Michael Jansen gets the big picture:
Instead of flowering into multiparty democracy, the Arab Spring may not only give birth to authoritarian Sunni fundamentalist rule but also promote Sunni unity from Morocco to the Gulf, Egypt being the trendsetter. If this happens the fundamentalists could confront Iran, the region’s Shia power, and its ally Iraq, and forge a solid front against Israel instead of making peace with it. Israel is seen by the overwhelming majority of fundamentalists as not only an illegal occupier of Palestine but as a usurper of sacred Muslim soil.
• Efforts to unify Syrian opposition groups collapsed. Besides reflecting poorly on their ability to create a post-Assad government, it also means there’s no unified voice for the West to deal with. More at the Financial Times (via Google News). But the Syrian National Council launched a swell web site . . .
• CNN: Syrians have given up on the disgraceful Arab League observer mission.
• According to the Washington Post, a showdown between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s military is fait accompli:
Until now, the relatively moderate Islamist group had an uneasy alliance with the council of generals who took control of the country after Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11. But with the military leaders intent on protecting their political and economic interests as Egypt lurches toward democracy, some analysts say a clash between the two centers of power is inevitable.
The long-term interests of the military leaders and the Brotherhood “do not converge,” said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Doha Center. “The military wants to effectively stay in power behind the scenes. That certainly is not what the Brotherhood wants.”
• Tony Karon (Time) weighs in on the Israeli-US debate over engaging the Muslim Brotherhood.
• It’s been a year since a bomb ripped through a Coptic church in Alexandria, but Egypt halted its investigation months ago. AP looks at what’s known, concluding:
But the failure to answer who was behind the blast has fueled resentment among Egypt’s Christian minority that the state does little to protect them.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• The Media Line talked to those in the know about Iran’s ability to close off the Straits of Hormuz:
“The navy and IRGC cannot close the Gulf for an extended period, but they could severely restrict shipping through the Gulf for five to 10 days,” Cordesman concluded in a paper included in the U.S. Institute of Peace’s book The Iran Primer . . . .
Koch, of the Gulf Research Center, says the most serious threat posed by Iran is asymmetrical warfare that employs irregulars or proxies to engage in sabotage. Iran doesn’t need to close Hormuz to wreak havoc; it could target oil fields, power plants and other critical but vulnerable installations on the Arab side of the Gulf.
“That is a much more dangerous scenario,” Koch said. “The Iranians have shown themselves to be an intelligent power in that sense.”
Rest O’ the Roundup
• The Jerusalem Post reports that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan may have cancer and that other politicians are jockeying to replace him:
None of the candidates, however, match Erdogan’s popular appeal: A recent poll conducted by an independent US-based NGO found one-third of Turks would “definitely not” vote for AKP if it were run by anyone other than Erdogan.
• Great moments in Israeli Warts-and-All: Ehud Olmert was indicted on charges of accepting bribes in the Holyland affair, along with former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski and 16 other officials.
The alleged crimes took place in the 90s, when Olmert was Jerusalem’s mayor. Details at Haaretz.
• Algerian police confiscated Israeli-made clothes. YNet picks up on the fashion crime.
• Israel HaYom asks: Is an Israeli biometric database vulnerable to hackers?