Everything you need to know about today’s media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.
Hamas ideologically opposes Assad, but its Iranian patron clearly expects the terror group to support Damascus. What’s Hamas to do?
• Heh: Yesterday, Reuters reported that Hamas personnel in Damascus facing Syrian uncertainty are quietly relocating to Gaza. Today, Haaretz reports that Iran is threatening to cut Hamas funding if it bails on Syria.
The Iranian pressure also included an unprecedented ultimatum – namely, an explicit threat to stop supplying Hamas with arms and suspend the training of its military activists.
According to the sources, Hamas is abandoning its headquarters in Syria and looking at other Arab states as an alternative location for its political command center.
That’s a tough call. On one hand, Iran is Hamas’ biggest sugar daddy. On the other hand, there’s a significant matter of principle here. Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposes Assad. Remember the days when Yasser Arafat made sure the Palestinians owned their own cause?
• The Bureau of Investigative Journalism accuses Press TV of fabricating 1,370 Somali deaths by US drones.
• Bomb explodes near UK embassy in Bahrain. MSM suggests the bombing was carried out by pro-Iranian Bahraini Shi’ites. More at The Independent.
Iran has announced several times in the past that it shot down U.S., Israeli or British drones, in incidents that did not provoke high-profile responses.
• The LA Times takes a stab at assessing whether the Mossad or CIA might be responsible for Iran’s mysterious explosions and computer viruses. Talk is cheap, but the effort to outthink the spooks is kind of fun to read.
A Christian Science Monitor staff-ed prefers Cold War style containment to direct military action against Iran.
It is based on the same strategy used by the West to bring down the Soviet Union, that is, to simply contain and constrain the regime until the flawed idea that is the very basis for its existence results in its own demise.
• Jennifer Rubin weighs in on Leon Panetta’s pit bull speech, with fresh quotes from Elliott Abrams and Jonathan Schanzer. The latter told Rubin:
“The notion that the Israelis must bear the responsibility for a failure to generate results at the negotiating table amidst an Iranian nuclear drive and a rash of new Islamist governments on Israel’s doorstep, particularly while Abu Mazen spurns the U.S.-led Oslo process by going unilateral at the U.N., reveals a severe and ongoing analytical deficit on the part of this administration.” Or simply bad faith.
• According to German media reports, Angela Merkel threatened to hold up a deal to deliver a Dolphin class submarine if Netanyahu didn’t agree to transfer tax revenues to the PA. More at the Jerusalem Post.
• The International Organization of Parliaments refuses to recognize Hamas as a political party. According to the Jerusalem Post, only Fatah members will be allowed to participate in this organization of parliamentarians.
• YNet News: The Syrian army test-fired a Scud missile in a live-fire drill. Now what kind of message do you think Assad’s trying to convey?
• US-born Syrian blogger Razan Ghazzawi was arrested trying to leave Syria to attend — of all things — a workshop for advocates of press freedoms in the Arab world. After the Gay Girl in Damascus hoax, I confess a touch of skepticism. But AP says Ghazzawi was “one of the few Syrian activists who blogged under her real name.” Where are you, Frank La Rue?
• Worth reading: Arab Winter Chills Christians
• The Media Line reports that plunging foreign currency reserves pose a new threat to Egypt:
In any case, the policy remedies needed to stem the decline in reserves are all unattractive because they would impose political and/or economic costs on a country with little ability to absorb them, economists said.
Rest O’ the Roundup
For more than 20 years, the OIC has pressed Western governments to restrict speech about Islam. Its charter commits it “to combat defamation of Islam,” and its current action plan calls for “deterrent punishments” by all states to counter purported Islamophobia.