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Sunday, August 26, 2012

[haw-info] Iran War Weekly - August 26, 2012

Historians Against the War is posting Frank Brodhead's "Iran War Weekly,' as a helpful resource for our members and friends. Frank earned a PhD in history at Princeton University and has co-authored several books on US foreign policy. He is a scholar and political activist who has worked with peace and social justice movements for many years. In 2010-2011 he produced the "Afghanistan War Weekly," which was widely used by antiwar groups across the country.
Iran War Weekly
August 26, 2012
Hello All – Once again the front-burner drama this week re: Iran's nuclear program was the debate within Israel about whether it should attack Iran's nuclear sites, and especially whether Israel would/should attack before the US presidential election.  As noted below, elite opinion in Israel is running strongly against Netanyahu and the bombs-away camp; and increasingly Israelis are accusing Netanyahu of attempting to intervene in the US election to help out Mitt Romney.  While US experts largely discount the possibility of an Israeli attack, I think it's a pretty unstable situation.
Two other events of note this week:  The US and Israeli tried and failed to sabotage the Non-Aligned Movement Summit that is just beginning in Iran, and the decision of UN Secretary General to attend the meeting is seen as a big setback to the US campaign to isolate Iran. Also this week, leaks from the forthcoming report on Iran's nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency are giving more publicity to the gap between Israel and the United States on whether the policy of sanctions is "working" to prevent Iran from achieving a "nuclear capability."
The civil war in Syria continues, and continues to threaten to destabilize neighboring countries, most notably Lebanon.  Given more prominence this week was the alleged concern by the US and Israel that Syria would use its chemical weapons.  Below I suggest that this may be the issue around which a military attack on Syria is justified, whatever the truth about the status of its chemical weapons.
Once again, I appreciate the help that many of you have given in distributing the Iran War Weekly and/or linking it on websites.  Previous "issues" of the IWW can be read at http://warisacrime.org/blog/46383.  If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at fbrodhead@aol.com.
Best wishes,
Frank Brodhead
Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
The Human Cost of War on Iran
By Elizabeth Murray, Consortium News [August 23, 2012]
---- In late 2002, just prior to the launch of the U.S. "shock and awe" campaign against Iraq, I was invited to join a gathering of intelligence analysts at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to participate in an Iraq "war games" exercise. We were assigned specific roles and asked to "play out" various political and diplomatic scenarios that might unfold in the wake of a U.S. attack on Iraq. A tall, heavy-set Iraqi-American, who was present as an observer and seated beside me on the final day, remarked quietly: "All these people are talking about strategic, political and military issues; no one here is talking about the hundreds of thousands of people — my people — that are going to die." His words struck me as profoundly tragic, and the tears welling up behind his dark glasses made me feel suddenly ashamed to be there, aware of the complete absence of consideration for Iraqis. I struggled to find something to say that would console the man, but found myself at a loss. All these years later, that incident has come back to haunt me as we approach the precipice of yet another deadly war. Will we allow ourselves to be blinded again? http://consortiumnews.com/2012/08/23/the-human-cost-of-war-on-iran/
Israel and Iran's Nuclear Program
By Mohammed Ayoob, Counterpunch [August 21, 2012]
---- One member of the United Nations – Israel – is repeatedly threatening a military attack on another – Iran – without any fear of negative repercussions from the members of that august body for threatening international peace and security. Such repeated aggressive rhetoric by any other member of the UN would have led the Security Council go into overdrive and pass resolutions threatening the state expressing such aggressive intent with action, including military action, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. In this case, on the contrary, every escalation in the aggressive Israeli rhetoric has led to senior American officials rushing to Jerusalem not to warn it of dire consequences if it attacked Iran but to plead with the Israeli government to give the P5+1 more time through economic sanctions and by other means to prevent Iran from going nuclear. The curious thing about these episodes is that they take place while the American intelligence is nearly unanimous that Iran is not about to go nuclear any time soon.
Israel's rhetoric makes much about the fact that Iran is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions by continuing with its uranium enrichment plan and that this justifies an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. If this logic goes unchallenged it would allow member states to appropriate the powers of the UN Security Council and determine what actions individual states or groups of states can take to implement Security Council resolutions that they find desirable. This is a recipe for mayhem and anarchy in the international system. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/21/israel-and-irans-nuclear-program/
For years now, the periodic reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran's nuclear program have been important in shaping the debate about Iran's nuclear program.  Leaks from the forthcoming report indicate that it will include the news that Iran's underground enrichment plant at Fordow is being expanded by several hundred centrifuges.  Iran is using its Fordow facility to enrich uranium to 20 percent for medical purposes; nuclear power requires enrichment to 3.5 percent, while a nuclear weapon requires uranium enriched to 95 percent.  Because 20 percent is obviously closer to 95 percent than is 3.5 percent, Israel and some others are claiming that the IAEA is reporting a significant step by Iran towards a nuclear weapon.  The Obama team, on the other hand, with its laser-like focus on the November election, asserts that sanctions can and will work if given more time.  As is so often the case, the spinning of the next IAEA report will be perhaps more important that the report itself. - FB
Diplomacy With Iran Still Is Viable, U.S. Says
By David E. Sanger, New York Times [August 24, 2012]
---- The Obama administration insisted Friday that "there is time and space" for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, despite new evidence, to be released next week by international nuclear inspectors, that Iran is bolstering its ability to produce a type of uranium that can be converted relatively quickly to bomb fuel. In a statement that was notable chiefly for the fact that it was issued before the International Atomic Energy Agency's report is scheduled to be made public, a White House spokesman, Tommy Vietor, said Iran "is continuing to violate its international obligations" despite the imposition of sanctions that severely restrict the country's oil revenue.  … The White House statement appeared intended to pre-empt statements from Israeli officials, who are citing the forthcoming inspectors' report to bolster their argument that the negotiations with Iran have simply allowed Tehran to speed ahead with its construction program, and that sanctions have been ineffective. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/world/middleeast/us-says-peaceful-solution-to-iran-nuclear-bid-still-viable.html?ref=world
Also useful – Barak Ravid, "Israel, U.S. divided over latest IAEA report on Iran," Haaretz [Israel] [August 26, 2012] http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-u-s-divided-over-latest-iaea-report-on-iran.premium-1.460690; and Yaakov Lappin, Reuters "Iran expands nuclear capacity underground'" [August 23, 2012] http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=282388
Inspecting the Parchin Military Stie
IAEA may say 'pointless' to inspect Iran nuke site
By Simon Sturdee, Agence France-Press [August 24, 2012]
---- Iran has "sanitized" to such an extent a military base where nuclear weapons research allegedly took place that the UN atomic watchdog may say next week there is now little point inspecting it, Western diplomats told AFP. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been pushing Iran to allow access to Parchin, most recently at a failed meeting in Vienna on Friday, where it suspects explosives testing consistent with nuclear bomb research occurred. Iran, subject to unprecedented Western sanctions and amid heightened speculation of Israeli military action, denies seeking or ever having sought nuclear weapons but has so far blocked the IAEA's requests to see the site. Western nations have accused Iran of bulldozing parts of the sprawling base near Tehran and the IAEA said in May that activities spotted there by satellite "could hamper the agency's ability to undertake effective verification." On August 1 US think-tank the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) published open-source satellite images showing "what appears to be the final result of considerable sanitization and earth displacement activity." http://news.yahoo.com/iaea-may-pointless-inspect-iran-nuke-005740016.html
Also useful Reuters "IAEA seeks entry to alleged nuclear research site," [August 22, 2012]
Western Sanctions Causing Medicine Shortages in Iran
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [August 23, 2012]
---- US and international sanctions against Iran don't include sanctions on food or medication, which are both explicitly exempted. At least that's the theory. In practice, the sanctions have ground international commerce to a halt, as the Obama Administration has turned Iranian banks into global pariahs and made it impossible for Iranian companies to buy these "exempted" goods. Though Iran is a fairly large food producer, the lack of access to international trade is devastating to the nation's medical community, and in particular to patients whose medicines are either produced abroad or are produced domestically with chemicals previously imported overseas. Patients with chronic diseases like hemophilia or diabetes are at particular risk, as even a temporary lack of drugs could mean a death sentence. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/08/23/western-sanctions-causing-medicine-shortages-in-iran/
Iran Unveils More Defense Projects
By Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times [August 21, 2012]
---- Iran's president unveiled an upgraded short-range missile and several new defense projects on Tuesday, saying the Islamic Republic needed new weapons and navigation systems in order to defend itself against foreign threats. Israeli leaders in recent weeks have stepped up threats to attack Iran's nuclear sites, viewing the country's nuclear program as cover for building an atomic weapon and therefore an existential threat. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/22/world/middleeast/iran-unveils-more-defense-projects.html?_r=1&src=rechp
The Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Iran
Some Thoughts on the Nonaligned Movement Summit in Tehran
By Farideh Farhi, LobeLog [August 23, 2012]
---- It must be considered pure fortuity for the Islamic Republic of Iran that the decision to hold the Nonaligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran was made three years ago in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Although the previous NAM summit took place shortly after Iran's contested 2009 presidential election, it's unlikely that anyone could have predicted the significance that the next summit would have for Iran in light of the Obama's administration's systematic effort to tighten the sanctions regime and the changes in the region. … The summit is being used to make a visually forceful case that it is not the "global community" that has problems with the Islamic Republic, as repeatedly asserted by US officials, but only a US-led and pressured coalition of countries. And, ironically, the Obama administration is conceding that point by identifying Tehran as a "strange and inappropriate choice" for the summit while trying to dissuade various leaders from attending the meeting. http://www.lobelog.com/some-thoughts-on-the-nonaligned-movement-summit-in-tehran/
Also useful - Thalif Deen, "Rebuffing Israel, UN Chief Heads to Iran for Non-Aligned Movement Summit Meeting," Inter Press Service [August 23, 2012] http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/08/23-3; and Rick Gladstone, "U.N. Visit Will Set Back a Push to Isolate Iran," New York Times [August 22, 2012] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/world/middleeast/ban-ki-moon-will-attend-iran-summit-over-american-and-israeli-objections.html?ref=world
Once again this week's news was dominated by threats of an Israel's military attack on Iran – will they, won't they?  While the predominate view of US experts in the field seems to be that Israel is only bluffing, the sheer volume – or even panic – of dissent within Israel indicates that the Israelis, at least, are not taking these threats completely in stride.  One interesting turn in the debate this week is the growing criticisms of Netanyahu, et al. that they are attempting to intervene in the US election, to weaken Obama and/or to play to the "strengths" of the even more jingoistic Romney.  And as noted below in the section on Syria, Israel has begun to be included in the possible sources of military intervention there.  I don't think we can close the door on a September/October surprise quite yet. - FB
Will Israel Attack Iran Soon?
Israel's Iran Threats: Blackmail by Suicide?
By Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation [August 22, 2012]
---- Israel, along with its American partisans, is trying to get what it wants by threatening to commit suicide. Israel, nearly everyone agrees, would have to crazy to attack Iran. And Israel, nearly everyone also agrees, isn't crazy. There's a kind of Catch-22 involved here, which is why the chance that Israel will bomb Iran's nuclear facilities is as close to absolute zero as things can get in politics. The Catch-22: only a crazy prime minister would order Israel to bomb Iran, and Netanyahu isn't crazy. So Netanyahu must have something else in mind. After all, bombing Iran would be a catastrophe for Israel. Yet the Israelis are demanding that the world kowtow to the wishes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Co., or else—well, or else Israel will jump off a cliff. What kind of blackmail is that? http://www.thenation.com/blog/169504/israels-iran-threats-blackmail-suicide
Will Israel bomb Iran?
By Joel Rubin, Jewish Chronicle [August 2012]
---- The loose talk of war is back after a brief period of calm. This is stunning, as the facts about Iran's nuclear program have not changed since negotiations over its nuclear program began in April.  Iran does not have a nuclear weapon nor is it on the verge of acquiring one.  The consensus view of American and Israeli intelligence agencies remains that Iran has not decided to make a nuclear weapon. And the pressure on Iran to back down has increased through the imposition of crippling sanctions while international negotiations proceed. So what is the strategy behind all this war talk?  Is Israel really planning to bomb Iran?  We don't yet know the answer, but the impact of this type of saber rattling is decidedly negative. Here's why: http://thejewishchronicle.net/view/full_story/19904730/article-Will-Israel-bomb-Iran-?instance=lead_story_right_column
Also useful – "October Surprise?" – A one-hour radio program from On Point, WBUR, with Tom Ashbrook http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/08/20/israel-iran
Opposition Inside Israel to an Attack on Iran
In Israel, Opposition to Attacking Iran Gains Upper Hand
By Mitchell Plitnick, Antiwar.com [August 24, 2012]
---- The ambitions of a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran, as harboured by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, have been defeated by internal opposition, a growing number of observers have come to believe in the wake of dramatic opposing statements by prominent Israeli leaders, including President Shimon Peres. The picture emerging is one of the prime and defence ministers' isolation in advocating for unilateral Israeli action.  … Peres's statements were widely interpreted as criticism of Netanyahu's and Barak's ongoing attempts to pressure President Obama to attack Iran and the perception that Netanyahu was working to unseat Obama in favour of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who is on much friendlier terms with Netanyahu. There was also a widespread belief that Peres was warning that the tactics Netanyahu and Barak were employing with the U.S. threaten to harm the "special relationship" between the two countries. http://original.antiwar.com/mitchell-plitnick/2012/08/24/in-israel-opposition-to-attacking-iran-gains-upper-hand/
Hoist by his own petard
By Yousaf Butt, Politico [August 23, 2012]
---- The real issue here is not Iran's nuclear program but how the political - as opposed to military/intelligence - hawks in the Israeli government are fanning the flames of a wildly exaggerated nuclear threat to try to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. By forcing Obama to admit to opposing a military strike, these Israeli hawks paint him as weak on defense. In the run-up to the election, it would be politically difficult for Obama to deny his backing of an Israeli strike while Romney has already clearly voiced his support for unilateral military action - whether or not such an attack actually materializes - or even makes any sense. In a remarkably honest speech in the Israeli Knesset, former defense minister and current Kadima Party leader Shaul Mofaz put it bluntly to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying, "Mr. Prime Minister, you want a crude, rude, unprecedented, reckless, and risky intervention in the U.S. elections. Tell us who you serve and for what? Why are you putting your hand deep into the ballot boxes of the American electorate?" http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=FE4F846D-06CF-4645-878F-4F05E718DE41
Some Consequences of an Israeli Attack on Iran
Israel Attack on Iran Runs Risk of Massive Missile Retaliation
By: Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor [August 19, 2012]
---- If Israel attacks Iran, the Israeli heartland could face retaliation from more than 10,000 missiles based in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, according to Uzi Rubin, the founder and first director of Israel's Missile Defense Organization. Rubin, speaking Thursday (Aug. 16) before the Middle East Studies department of the US Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va., said it was "above his pay grade" to say whether or not it would be wise for Israel to strike Iranian nuclear facilities. However, in a detailed presentation of the threats Israel faces and in an interview afterward with Al-Monitor, Rubin made his reservations about the repercussions of such an attack clear. Israel's strategic circumstances have changed dramatically in the last two or three decades, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/israel-attack-on-iran-risks-mass.html
Israeli Experts: Attacking Iran Will Ravage Israeli Economy
By MJ Rosenberg, Huffington Post [August 23, 2012]
---- Given his focus on the economy, it is odd that Netanyahu seems oblivious to the likely economic effects of an attack on Iran. According to an August 20 report issued by BDI, the largest business information consulting group in Israel, the cost to the Israeli economy would be $41.75 billion, a fifth of its total GDP. BDI extrapolates that estimate from the cost of the 2006 Lebanon war, which cost Israel 1.8 percent of GDP. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/binyamin-netanyahu-iran_b_1826556.html
Also useful - Sarah Leibovitz-Dar, "If War Comes, Will US Open Its Military Depots in Israel?" Al-Monitor [August 20, 2012] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/01/08/open-only-in-case-of-an-emergenc.html
Why was a Navy adviser stripped of her career?
By Jeff Stein, Washington Post [August 21, 2012]
---- Gwenyth Todd had worked in a lot of places in Washington where powerful men didn't hesitate to use sharp elbows. But she was not prepared a few years later in Bahrain when she encountered plans by high-ranking admirals to confront Iran, any one of which, she reckoned, could set the region on fire. It was 2007, and Todd, then 42, was a top political adviser to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. According to Todd and another witness, Cosgriff's idea, presented in a series of staff meetings, was to sail three "big decks," as aircraft carriers are known, through the Strait of Hormuz — to put a virtual armada, unannounced, on Iran's doorstep. No advance notice, even to Saudi Arabia and other gulf allies. Not only that, they said, Cosgriff ordered his staff to keep the State Department in the dark, too. To Todd, it was like something straight out of "Seven Days in May," the 1964 political thriller about a right-wing U.S. military coup. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/sunk/2012/08/21/96209788-cebd-11e1-aa14-708bac2c7ee9_story.html
Also useful – Juan Cole, "Plot to Provoke war with Iran thwarted by Navy analyst," Informed Comment [August 26, 2012] http://www.juancole.com/2012/08/plot-to-provoke-war-with-iran-thwarted-by-navy-analyst.html
A Democracy Ahead of Its Time
By Tara Bahrampour, TruthDig [July 24, 2012]
[Another review of "Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup," by Christopher de Bellaigue]
---- Along with nationalizing oil, Mossadegh had passed land reforms, introduced social security and rent control and strengthened the separation of powers. Bellaigue imagines Iran's trajectory had Mossadegh continued in power: an enlightened government that tilted toward the West in foreign affairs. "Mossadegh's Iran might have become a positive example for other countries, and the region's human development [might have] accelerated, for his dream was substantially the same as the dream that became manifest with the Arab Spring of 2011." http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/a_democracy_ahead_of_its_time_20120724/
Under what conditions might the United States, NATO, and/or Israel intervene militarily (and overtly) in Syria's civil war?  As noted below, signals from each of these countries have now focused on Syria's alleged arsenal of chemical or "unconventional" weapons.  Syria's chemical weapons first became news several weeks ago around fears that they might be seized by the armed rebels, perhaps even al-Qaeda.  At that time a Syrian spokesperson said that they weapons were safe and closely guarded, and that they would never be used against Syrians, but only in response to foreign aggression.  That seemed straight-forward enough, but alas, it was quickly transmogrified into a threat from Syria to use chemical weapons against the rebels, as western analysts and media people pointed out that Syria officially regarded the armed rebellion as primarily the work of foreign terrorists.  In recent weeks, the United States, NATO, and Israel have each threatened to attack if Syria even moved chemical weapons.  While no one wants anyone to use chemical weapons anytime, anywhere, it seems clear that the United States and its allies have written themselves a blank check that would allow them to attack Syrian military sites simply by claiming that they have intelligence that Syria was moving/about to move their chemical weapons.  Who could disprove this, before the military attacks were a fait accompli?  - FB
How the Syrian Revolution Became Militarized
Sharif Abdel Kouddous, The Nation []
---- The armed opposition to the Assad regime first began to take form in the late summer of 2011, following months of mass demonstrations that were overwhelmingly nonviolent. Facing repeated crackdowns and mass detentions by security forces, protesters began to arm themselves, many by purchasing smuggled weapons from border countries like Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. The revolt was further militarized by increasing numbers of army soldiers defecting to their local communities and bringing their weapons with them. … As the revolt plunged deeper into a military confrontation this spring, countries in the Persian Gulf—primarily Saudi Arabia and Qatar—began to channel funds to the FSA on a sustained basis. More sophisticated arms and heavy weaponry has been funneled to the rebels through southern Turkey with assistance from the CIA. http://www.thenation.com/article/169533/how-syrian-revolution-became-militarized
Last Chance for Peace in Syria?
Editorial, The Nation [August 22, 2012]
---- In Syria, our worst fears are becoming a reality. Over the past few months, the conflict has descended into an ever more violent civil war, fueled increasingly by foreign-supported Sunni Islamists on the one hand, and by ruthless pro-regime militia groups on the other. Syria has become the epicenter of a regional Sunni-Shia conflict, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar facing off against Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, now the dominant force in Lebanon. Adding to this explosive mix on the Sunni side are a resurgent Turkey, which seeks to expand its influence in the Middle East by emphasizing its Islamic credentials, and an Iraq that has been tilting toward Iran and Syria. If this conflict is not curbed, it could engulf all of Syria's neighbors, including Jordan and Israel. It is under these alarming conditions that the new UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will assume what some are calling the mission impossible of finding an end to the crisis. http://www.thenation.com/print/article/169522/last-chance-peace-syria
Israeli Warmongering -The Missing Option to Defuse Iran "Threat"
By Nicola Nasser, Counterpunch [August 22, 2012]
---- Regional and international involvement in the Syrian crisis has nothing to do with the internal crisis per se, but has exploited the internal crisis because it has a lot to do with the U.S. – Israel plans to isolate and contain what both countries perceive as an Iranian regional threat to their interests.  To this end, Israel and U.S. are now doing all what they can to break the alliance between Iran and Syria and the Syrian bridge linking Iran to Lebanese and Palestinian movements resisting Israeli military occupation, thus cutting off Iran from the Mediterranean,  as well as depriving these movements from their Syrian support, by coordinating a 'regime change" in Damascus. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/08/22/israeli-warmongering/
The Prospects for US/NATO Intervention
Obama Threatens Force Against Syria
By Mark Landler, New York Times [August 20, 2012]
---- President Obama warned Syria on Monday that it would face American military intervention if there were signs that its arsenal of unconventional weapons was being moved or prepared for use. It was Mr. Obama's first direct threat of force against Syria, as he has resisted being drawn into the bloody 18-month rebellion. The warning brings Mr. Obama, who has brushed aside calls to impose a no-fly zone or to arm the Syrian rebels, a step closer to direct American engagement. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/world/middleeast/obama-threatens-force-against-syria.html?src=me&ref=world
Britain and France Join the U.S. in Warning Syria About Military Action
By Rick Gladstone and Shreeya Sinha, New York Times [August 23, 2012]
---- Britain and France raised the possibility of military intervention in the Syria conflict on Thursday, with the British prime minister joining President Obama in warning that he would not tolerate the transport or deployment of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, and France's defense minister saying that a partial no-fly zone should be considered. The British and French statements reinforced a sense that the window for diplomatic efforts to halt the 18-month-old conflict might have closed, as new crackdowns by the Syrian military were reported in the Damascus suburbs. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/24/world/middleeast/syrian-forces-renew-raids-on-damascus-suburbs.html
Inside Syria
(Video) What happened in Houla?
From Aljazeera [August 16, 2012] – 25 minutes
Syria: Al-Qaida's New Playground
By James Foley, PBS News Hour [August 22, 2012]
---- Syrian and foreign fighters sympathetic to al-Qaida are muscling their way into the Syrian conflict, analysts and Syrian rebels say. While they share homegrown rebels' goal of bringing down the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, they operate independently and are nudging the revolution toward a struggle for an Islamic state. As the battle rages in its 18th month, a group that calls itself Jabhat al-Nusra and has links to al-Qaida, though denies being a part of the transnational terrorist group, appears to be gaining in strength and numbers. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/08/syria-al-qaedas-new-playground.html
(Video) Japanese Journalist's Final Report from Syria Is Released After Her Death
By Robert Mackey, New York Times [August 22, 2012]
---- Two days after a Japanese journalist, Mika Yamamoto, was shot and killed in the Syrian city of Aleppo, her news agency released some of the footage she recorded in her final hours.
There Goes the Neighborhood
Lebanon: Violence spilling over from Syria revives ancient resentments
Martin Chulov, The Observer [UK] [August 25, 2012]
--- A respite from almost a fortnight of clashes in Lebanon's second city, Tripoli, raised hopes yesterday that the release of some kidnapping victims would ease a growing threat of unchecked violence spilling over from the Syrian civil war. But the lull failed to douse an enduring fear elsewhere in Lebanon that the enmity in the north will inevitably spread to other parts of the country. Another day of soaring violence in neighbouring Syria instead fuelled concerns that the raging civil war would further spill beyond the borders of its unstable neighbour. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/26/lebanon-fears-firestorm
Ten Years of AKP Leadership in Turkey
By Richard Falk, ZNet [August 26, 2012]
---- The most recent example of interference by the military with the elected leadership in Turkey took place in 1997 when Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan sheepishly left office under pressure amounting to an ultimatum, outlawed his political party, and accepted a withdrawal from political activity for a period of five years in what amounted to a bloodless coup prompted by his alleged Islamic agenda. Unlike the prior coups of 1960, 1971, and 1980 when the military seized power for a period of time, the 1997 bloodless coup was followed by allowing politicians to form a new civilian government. Really, looking back on the period shortly after the AKP came to power in 2002 the big surprise is that a coup did not occur. We still await informed commentary that explains why. For the present, those that value the civilianization of governance can take comfort in the receding prospect of a future military takeover of Turkish political life, and this iftar social occasion is a strong symbolic expression of a far healthier civil-military relationship than existed in the past. http://www.zcommunications.org/ten-years-of-akp-leadership-in-turkey-by-richard-falk
Also useful – Sinan Ulgen, "Turkey's Syria Conundrum," The National Interest [August 24, 2012]


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