Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Is it endgame for Egypt’s military junta? Will Hezbollah may stage a coup if Assad falls? And what to make of the latest sanctions on Iran?
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• Anshel Pfeffer (Tablet) says an Israeli attack on Iran is a foregone conclusion:
“Ninety-percent of our equipment and training is for a much larger war. The fighter jets weren’t built for attacking Gaza or even Lebanon; the real war is where we will have to prove ourselves,” one squadron commander recently admitted to me.
Jeffrey Goldberg reax:
Here is the disconnect between Panetta and Barak, and between Netanyahu and Obama: The very real isolation, extreme violence and economic havoc that could be brought on by an Israeli attack on Iran is of limited consequence to an Israeli leadership that believes that a nuclear Iran could spell an end to their country.
• Iranian police raided the newspaper offices of Ahmadinejad’s now-former press advisor, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, after Javanfekr gave a defiant press conference. The LA Times describes an increasingly convoluted story: a split among leading Iranian conservatives, and conflicting reports on whether Javanfekr was detained. Reuters got a fresh quote straight from the horse’s mouth:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s media adviser denied on Monday reports in local print media that he had been arrested after holding a news conference.
“I am in my office at Iran newspaper building and deny all these arrest allegations,” Ali Akbar Javanfekr told Reuters by telephone.
• Britain severed all ties with the Iranian banking system. Credit The Guardian with the best explanation in a nutshell:
The unprecedented move meant all UK credit and financial institutions had to cease trading with Iran’s banks from the afternoon.
• At the New Statesman, Iranian apologist Mehdi Hasan lashes out at critics.
It’s a tedious read with too many links to follow — after all, he has a lot of critics.
• More commentary/analysis at the Globe & Mail.
• Jordan’s King Abdullah met with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The NY Times and Wall St. Journal put the tete-a-tete in the context of both leaders’ moves at making nice with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood’s rising regional influence.
• The Washington Post examines the cultural heritage battle sparked by the Palestinian membership in UNESCO.
• Israel’s ambassador to South Africa got op-ed space in The Citizen. Negotiations are the only path to Mideast peace.
• YNet News picks up on Arab reports that Hezbollah is preparing to stage a coup if Assad falls.
“As soon as Hezbollah will sense that the collapse of Assad’s regime is imminent, armed cells will quickly begin operating to seize control of Beirut’s eastern and western parts,” one of the sources told al-Arabia.
“This operation, which will be coordinated with Hezbollah’s allies, including Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, will be carried out under the banner of ‘protecting the resistance and its weapons inside Lebanon,'” he said.
• The world’s turning up the heat on Bashar Assad. The BBC reports that Britain, France and Germany are seeking action in the UN Human Rights Council. The Beeb also quotes Erdogan’s latest scathing quote:
“If you want to see someone who has fought until death against his own people, just look at Nazi Germany, just look at Hitler, at Mussolini, at Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania,” he said.
• Late afternoon reports say Egypt’s ruling military junta will transfer power to the nation’s supreme court and other civilian elements. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was scheduled to address the nation. More at Haaretz on this developing story.
As during the Mubarak era, some administration officials appear to believe that U.S. interests, including Egypt’s peace accord with Israel, preclude using aid to pressure the military for political change. It is past time to abandon that wrongheaded doctrine.
• AFP points out that a trial for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi could become embarrassing for Britain (particularly the London School of Economics) as their ties to the old Libyan regime will come under fresh scrutiny.
• An independent inquiry into Bahrain’s protests, crackdown and aftermath has the Gulf state hanging on the edge. M. Cherif Bassiouni is due to release his report on Wednesday. The NY Times writes:
Its promise is to chart a way forward for changes to blunt the fires of revolution that have swept Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Its peril is that it comes too late for Bahrain.
• Libya’s trying to build a new army from scratch. Judging from the NY Times, it’s an uphill battle:
Diederik Vandewalle, an expert on Libya at Dartmouth College, said it would be difficult for the new army to fulfill “the first requirement of any modern state — to have a monopoly on violence.” He added, “One of the elements you need to instill in your soldiers is a sense of national identity, and that identity has to be on a national level. But the militias have an identity tied to their group or town.”
Rest O’ the Roundup
• Nice BBC video on can-do start ups made Israel a hi-tech hub.
• Here’s the full Haaretz article on Palestinian businessmen investing in Israel and settlements.
• A member of the Government Press Office’s advisory council quit to protest gov’t moves she says restrict freedom of speech. Details at Haaretz.
• Another step backward for the BDS movement: Israel to Open Embassy in Albania
• Ruth Wisse asks: Who is more damaged by anti-Semitism? Jews, or those who organize politics against them?
• Irish rugby star Trevor Hogan shills for the flotilla movement.
• In a fascinating and remarkably candid interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, photographer Andrea Bruce describes what it was like to work in Iraq:
I started to divide my life into two different realms. Like, I have a bulletproof vest, and I travel with $10,000 in my sock and, and I wear an abaya half the time and my helmet the other half the time, like some sort of deranged superhero or something. And then in the other life I am this suburban housewife. Things like doing the bills, all those things, became—it’s just that the two lives didn’t fit anymore and eventually neither did my husband.