| In-Depth Issues:
U.S. Poll: Iran Not Serious about Resolving Nuclear Dispute (Pew Research Center)
Most Americans do not believe that Iranian leaders are serious about
addressing concerns over their nuclear program, according to a survey
conducted on Oct. 30-Nov. 6, before the interim agreement was reached
Among those who heard about the nuclear talks, just 33% say they
think Iranian leaders are serious about addressing international
concerns, while 60% say they are not.
68% of Americans say that Iran's nuclear program is a major threat to the well-being of the U.S.
Hizbullah Prepares for War - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
Hizbullah has expanded its training camps in Lebanon, preparing for a future clash with Israel.
New training camps, which include firing ranges, assault courses and
urban warfare sites, are processing thousands of new recruits.
Western intelligence agencies first noticed the appearance of
visible training facilities in areas under Hizbullah control in 2008.
Since then, other training camps have sprung up across the Bekaa Valley and in south Lebanon.
Battlefield Lessons in Syria Strengthen Hizbullah's Fighting Force - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
Hizbullah's involvement in the Syrian conflict has had a spin-off
benefit: turning a new generation of young recruits into battle-hardened
veterans. This experience should make them a more capable combat force
in the event of another war against Israel.
Analysts say Hizbullah combatants have learned valuable lessons in
mounting offensive and defensive operations in urban and rural
Hizbullah fighters initially spent an average of one week in Syria. In recent months, this rotation was raised to a month.
IDF Has Treated over 500 Wounded Syrians - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
Over the past ten months the IDF has treated over 500 Syrian
nationals, Col. Dr. Tarif Bader, the Northern Command's chief medical
officer, said Wednesday.
Since Feb. 16, 2013, the IDF has treated wounded Syrians at the
Golan Heights divisional medical unit or at a field hospital established
to treat those injured in the civil war.
Bader revealed that dozens of Syrians have been given a new
life-saving treatment using freeze-dried plasma to counteract blood
Bequests to Israel Reached $27M in 2012 - Yasmin Gueta (Ha'aretz)
The State of Israel received $27 million in donations and estate
bequests in 2012, up from $25.5 million in 2011, according to a report
by the Administrator General and Official Receiver.
$8 million came from French individuals, $8.5 million was
received from the U.S., Canada and the UK, and $5 million came from
Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. $5 million was received
from individuals in Israel.
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- White House Prepared to Allow Limited Iran Nuclear Enrichment - Jim Acosta
The Obama administration is "prepared to negotiate a strictly limited
enrichment program" with Iran, national security spokeswoman
Bernadette Meehan said Tuesday in a statement. "But only because the
Iranians have indicated for the first time in a public document that
they are prepared to accept rigorous monitoring and limits on level,
scope, capacity, and stockpiles." Meehan cautioned that agreement to any
limited enrichment program in Iran applies only to peaceful energy
"needs" and does not amount to U.S. recognition of an Iranian "right to
- U.S. Seeks "a Lot of Dismantling" of Iran's Nuclear Infrastructure
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, the
lead negotiator of the nuclear interim agreement with Iran, told PBS
NewsHour that she thinks the Geneva nuclear deal "will hold because
it's in Iran's interest for it to hold." "The fundamental architecture
around banking and oil sanctions that we have, that the European Union
has, all remain in place. So what Iran really wants isn't available to
them unless we get to a comprehensive agreement."
"A comprehensive agreement...includes a lot of dismantling of their
infrastructure, because, quite frankly, we're not quite sure that you
need a 40-megawatt heavy water reactor, which is what [the] Arak
[facility] is, for any civilian peaceful purpose." (PBS)
- U.S., Allies Reach Out to Syria's Islamist Rebels - Stacy Meichtry, Ellen Knickmeyer and Adam Entous
The U.S. and its allies have held direct talks with key Islamist
militias in Syria, Western officials say, aiming to undercut al-Qaeda
while acknowledging that religious fighters long shunned by Washington
have gained on the battlefield.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia is moving to directly arm and fund one
of the Islamist groups, Jaish al-Islam, the Army of Islam.
The Saudis and the West are pivoting toward a newly created
coalition of religious militias called the Islamic Front, which excludes
the main al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria - the Nusra Front and
the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS).
The shift reveals the West's failure to unite Syria's rebels under
the banner of a secular opposition force capable of toppling the Assad
regime. The critical difference between the two camps of Islamists is
that al-Qaeda's avowed enemies include not just Assad, but the West and
its allies, including the Saudi monarchy.
(Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Jordan to U.S.: Security Control in the Jordan Valley Must Remain in Israel's Hands - Eli Bardenstein and Ariel Kahane
The Jordanians are pressing the U.S. to accept Israel's position that
the presence of the Israel Defense Forces along the Jordan River is
essential for the security of the region. A senior Israeli official
said: "There is no technical solution that the Americans have proposed
that can replace the presence of the IDF on the Jordan."
A senior political official said that Netanyahu is planning to
speed construction of a security fence along the river and that the
Jordanians are pressing Washington to accept Israel's security requests
since they will also defend Jordan.
(Maariv-5 Dec 2013)
- Kerry Arrives in Israel for Talks - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Wednesday for another round
of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah. An Israeli official dismissed
Palestinian claims that the talks between Israel and the PA were on the
brink of collapse, saying this was part of their policy of brinkmanship,
and that every time Kerry arrives there are always Palestinian
statements about the talks being in trouble.
- Senior Commander's Death a Major Blow to Hizbullah - Amos Harel
The death of Hassan al-Laqis, a senior Hizbullah commander who was
killed on Tuesday in Beirut, is the biggest operational blow to
Hizbullah since the death of Imad Mughniyeh, the group's chief-of-staff,
who was killed in Damascus in 2008. Laqis was the address for
efforts to smuggle advanced weapons from Syria to Hizbullah.
See also Who Killed Hizbullah's Chief Military Procurement Officer? - Ariel Ben Solomon
"By all indications, whoever killed Hassan al-Laqis did so in
retaliation for Hizbullah's involvement in Syria. The perpetrators
probably would have preferred to kill Hassan Nasrallah instead, but the
security ring around him is much greater," said Mordechai Kedar, a
research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at
Bar-Ilan University. "In the current situation, it seems that the
background was painted in Syrian Sunni blood." (Jerusalem Post)
- Sunnis Concerned over Wider Impact of Iran Accord - Liz Sly
Sunni Arab states don't object to a deal that could curb Iran's nuclear
ambitions, but they worry about the ramifications of warming ties
between Tehran and Washington, said Mustafa Alani, the Dubai-based
director of security and terrorism studies at the Gulf Research Center.
The big worry, he said, is that a long-term deal normalizing ties
between Iran and the U.S. would come at the expense of Sunni influence.
"We have concerns about what sort of concessions the Americans will
give. Will they anoint Iran as a regional superpower?" Alani asked. "The
idea of Iran having hegemonic power is an absolute red line for all the
With a population of nearly 80 million, Iran far eclipses in size
all its Arab neighbors except Egypt. With international sanctions
easing, Sunnis fear, Iran may feel emboldened to increase assistance to
the widespread network of allies it has cultivated over the decades,
including Lebanon's Hizbullah, numerous Shiite groups in Iraq and others
from Afghanistan to Yemen.
Iran is unlikely to match its compromises on the nuclear issue with
concessions on other fronts, Obeid said. "Iran will not leave Hizbullah,
it will not leave Assad, and it will not leave Iraq." (Washington Post)
- Paving the Way for a Nuclear Iran - James A. Lyons
Iran will continue to be the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.
It has been at war with the U.S. for more than 34 years and will
continue to be. This regime has cost thousands of American lives and
countless more injured. Its stated intention - to eliminate our ally
Israel and continue war against the U.S. - must be recognized.
The only thing the Geneva agreement has accomplished is to provide
Iran another six months to perfect its nuclear-weapons program. The
Islamic republic is not going to negotiate away its nuclear
infrastructure. It can only be eliminated by a military strike. However,
this agreement has taken the U.S. military option off the table and has
placed the sole burden for eliminating Iran's nuclear capability on
Israel. This is not the way a great power is supposed to behave.
Adm. James A. Lyons (ret.) was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
- When a Peace Deals Means War - George Jonas
The nuclear ayatollahs of Tehran will hardly abandon a stance that keeps
benefiting them - that is, belligerence - and neither the Israelis nor
the Saudis, let alone the Egyptian junta, have enough confidence in the
Obama White House to rely on it for protection. This means preparations
for war, plus a near-certain re-entry of Russia as a Middle East player,
with incalculable consequences. Letting the ayatollahs play with
explosive toys is criminally negligent of big powers, and suicidal of
small powers in the region.
Iran Deal Another Russian Diplomatic Victory over the U.S. - Shlomo Avineri (Project Syndicate)
- Western statesmen are wrong to believe they have resolved the
Iranian nuclear threat. Indeed, it is naive to imagine that a final
agreement with Iran will be achieved in the coming six months: Iran's
seasoned diplomats will make sure that does not happen.
- While the interim agreement may not be a replay of the Munich
Agreement in 1938, it may have set the stage for an even more
combustible future. President Obama may not be in office when the fire
ignites, but if things do go terribly wrong, he may be remembered as
another statesman who was blind to the consequences of his peaceful
- The main reason for pessimism stems from the interim
agreement's wider geopolitical context, which has been ignored in favor
of the regional dimension. In fact, the agreement, which alleviates much
of the economic pressure on the Iranian regime, is a result of Russia's
success in delaying international sanctions against Iran and its
stubborn refusal to tighten them further.
- For the Kremlin, Iran's nuclear program is only one chapter in a
campaign to reassert Russia's role as a great power. Indeed, the
interim agreement should be viewed as another in a string of recent
Russian diplomatic victories over the U.S.
include Ukraine's decision to reject an association agreement with the
EU, President Assad remaining in power despite Obama's insistence
that he leave, and Western-oriented groups in Egypt turning to Russia
as a source of future military supplies.