IOC revokes Olympic qualifier status after Israeli denied visa

The Asian shooting championship, which starts in Kuwait this week, has been stripped of its Olympic qualifying status after an Israeli delegate was refused an entry visa, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday.

“Upon request of the International Sports Shooting Federation (ISSF), the IOC Executive Board today revoked the Olympic qualification status of the Asian Shooting Championship taking place in Kuwait City between 1 and 12 November,” it said in a statement.

“The decision comes after the designated technical delegate from the ISSF, Yair Davidovich (Israel), who was due to supervise the event on behalf of the ISSF, was denied a visa by the Kuwaiti Immigration Department.”

The IOC said the denial of a visa went against its non-discrimination principle of the Olympic Charter which must apply to all Games qualification competitions.

The Olympic body said another reason for stripping the qualifying status for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games was the ban imposed earlier this week on the Kuwait Olympic Committee from all Games-related activities.

The IOC suspended Kuwait on Tuesday for the second time in five years over government interference in the country's Games committee.

The IOC said it met the government and the Kuwait Olympic Committee to resolve the issue over a piece of sports legislation that was seen as threatening the autonomy of the Olympic body but the talks proved fruitless.

“Another reason for the decision is the fact that the Kuwait NOC is currently suspended by the IOC due to governmental interference against the rules of the Olympic Charter,” it said.

“The KOC is not entitled to participate in any activity connected with the Olympic Movement or exercise any right conferred upon it by the Olympic Charter or the IOC.”

Germany’s moral courage

Around 7 a.m. last Sunday, The New York Times landed on my balcony with a thud, like it always does. It woke me up and startled my cats, like it usually does, until we all realized it’s the same old, same old, and lay our heads down again.

But when I finally emerged about an hour later, dressed, cats fed, coffee in hand, I pulled The Times out of its sea-blue plastic wrapping, scanned the front-page headlines and had to do a double take: There was nothing ‘same-old’ about the day’s big news.

Beneath a picture of an ecstatic-looking crowd of men and women of various ages, all with huge smiles on their faces and arms raised in celebratory cheer, was the astonishing headline:

Germany Welcomes Thousands of Weary Migrants.

Wait a minute, my brain cautioned. You mean, that Germany?

I read a little more…

MUNICH – Germans waving welcome signs in German, English and Arabic came to the train station here Saturday to greet the first group of what is expected to be about 8,000 migrants to arrive in Germany by early Sunday… Germans applauded and volunteers offered hot tea, food and toys as about 450 migrants arrived… Germany, which had held out an open hand…

Germany. Which held out an open hand.

Oh, sweet irony of history!

But indeed it was so: While the rest of Europe fretted over what to do about a crisis that is being called “the largest wave of emigration since World War II,” Germany, led by its courageous and moral Chancellor Angela Merkel, signaled its willingness to heed the call of millions of desperate refugees, many of whom have been rendered stateless by the war in Syria and other Middle East crises.

While the United States has sat idly by, draped in its aggrandizing values of justice and liberty for all, its political passivity partly responsible for the refugee crisis to begin with, Germany steps forward with leadership and humanity.

While the Gulf States of Qatar, Kuwait, Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates defend themselves against charges of apathy and indifference, Germany opens its arms. “You can’t welcome people who come from a different atmosphere, from a different place, who suffer from psychological problems, from trauma, and enter them into societies,” Kuwaiti commentator Fahad Al-Shelaimi, chairman of the Gulf Forum for Peace and Security, said last March during a televised address on France24’s Arabic channel.

The Gulf States – and the United States – have a few things in common: Both have opened their checkbooks (Saudi Arabia: $18.4 million; Kuwait: $304 million; U.S.: $1.1 billion), while refusing to open their borders. Instead Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, whose per capita incomes are but a fraction of those in the Gulf States, have absorbed the largest number of refugees (Turkey: 2 million; Lebanon: 1.2 million; Jordan: 630,000). The U.S. has agreed to a paltry 1,500.

So far, only Germany, and her neighboring Austria, have risked their own stability and security to absorb these fleeing refugees, with Germany expecting to receive 800,000 this year alone.

The country’s compassion moved the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to praise Germany, Austria and “civil society” itself for their “remarkable” response to the crisis. “This is political leadership based on humanitarian values,” said a UNHCR statement issued on Sept. 5. Newsweek declared Germany’s Chancellor Merkel “Europe’s Conscience.”

Yes, that Germany. The Germany that between 1939 and 1945 provoked a frantic emigration of its own – that is, for the lucky few who could actually escape its death grip as the country’s maniacal leader and his obedient minions sent millions of Jews and other unfortunate minorities to death pits, concentration camps, gas chambers and burning ovens. That Germany saw itself as superior; as a burgeoning empire that had to cleanse itself of the other –the stranger, the refugee, the Jew – who did not belong, as the Kuwaiti official would have us believe, in a civilized society. That Germany destroyed a generation, murdering 11 million human beings as easily as it obliterated entire states. But history, it turns out, does not repeat itself in Germany.

Who could have predicted that one of the 20th century’s leading countries in moral depravity would become the 21st century’s world leader in moral courage?


While Lady Liberty rusts in the heat of an increasingly simmering sun, Hitler’s onetime puppet country beckons the tired and poor, the huddled Middle Eastern masses yearning to breathe free – of violence, and poverty, and terror. “I just want my sons to study and get jobs,” 35-year-old Syrian refugee and mother of three, Rania al-Hamawi told The Times.

What a lucky twist of fate, then, that the country with the biggest heart also boasts one of the world’s most robust economies. God could hardly have planned this any better.

Seventy years ago, who could have imagined that the country that nearly annihilated God’s Chosen would one day be chosen as a light among nations? Who could have foreseen that the place that almost destroyed the Jewish tradition would come to embody some of its most essential, enduring tenets: Teshuvah, change is possible. The future need not look like the past. Redemption is yours, waiting to be claimed. The world can indeed be re-created: Hayom Harat Olam, Rosh Hashanah tells us. This is the day the world was created – and it is created again and again, every year.

Germany is living these values. We should, too.

Shana Tovah.

Four Marines and gunman killed in Tennessee shootings

Four Marines were killed on Thursday by a gunman who opened fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before being fatally shot in an attack officials called a brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism.

The FBI named the suspect as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, but said it was too early to speculate on a motive for the rampage, which comes at a time when U.S. military and law enforcement authorities are increasingly concerned about the threat posed by “lone wolves” to domestic targets.

“We are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism,” Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, said earlier, adding that no official determination of the nature of the crime had yet been made and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has not ruled anything out.

“While it would be premature to speculate on the motives of the shooter at this time, we will conduct a thorough investigation of this tragedy and provide updates as they are available,” the agency said in a statement.

NBC reported that Abdulazeez was a naturalized American born in Kuwait and U.S. officials said law enforcement authorities were investigating whether he was inspired by Islamic State or a similar militant group.

According to a resume believed to have been posted online by Abdulazeez, he attended high school in a Chattanooga suburb and graduated from the University of Tennessee with an engineering degree.

“I remember him being very creative. He was a very light minded kind of individual. All his videos were always very unique and entertaining,” said Greg Raymond, 28, who worked with Abdulazeez on a high school television program.

“He was a really calm, smart and cool person who joked around. Like me he wasn't very popular so we always kind of got along. He seemed like a really normal guy,” Raymond said.

Mary Winter, president of the Colonial Shores Neighborhood Association, said she had known Abdulazeez and his family for more than 10 years and was stunned at the crime.

“We're all shocked and saddened,” Winter said. “He never caused any trouble. We can't believe that this happened. We were just planning to have a swim team banquet tonight.”

President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the victims' families and said officials will be prompt and thorough in getting answers on the shootings.

“It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion,” he said in a statement from the Oval Office.

The Department of Homeland Security was stepping up security at certain federal facilities and supporting the FBI investigation, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

Chattanooga is a city of about 173,000 people along the Tennessee River in the southeast of the state.

The suspect, seen driving an open-top Ford Mustang, is believed to have first gone to a joint military recruiting center in a strip mall and sprayed it with gunfire, riddling the glass facade with bullet holes.

“Everybody was at a standstill and as soon as he pulled away everyone scrambled trying to make sure everyone was OK,” said Erica Wright, who works two doors down from the center.

Armed forces recruiting centers are often located in shopping centers and other prominent places.

The gunman then drove off to a Naval Reserve Center about 6 miles (10 km) away, fatally shooting the four Marines before being shot and killed in a firefight with police.

Three others were wounded in the attacks, including a police officer reported in stable condition and a Marine.

The shootings began at about 10:45 a.m. local time (1445 GMT) and ended about 30 minutes later.

At least three people were wounded in the attacks, including a Marine and a Navy sailor who is in critical condition, according to the hospital. One of those hurt was a police officer who was in stable condition.

Police blocked access to the street where the suspected gunman lived in an upscale suburb. Only residents with photo IDs were allowed to pass and all cars coming and going were stopped.

Local media said memorial services for the victims would be held in various Chattanooga churches tonight.

“We condemn this horrific attack in the strongest terms possible,” said Nihad Awad, national director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Over 50 killed in terrorist attacks on three continents

Terrorists have attacked sites in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, killing over 50 people according to preliminary reports.

At least one person was killed and several were injured in an attack on a gas factory in Grenoble, France in what French President Francois Hollande said was a “pure terrorist attack.”

At a beach in front of two hotels in Tunisia, multiple gunmen have killed 28 people and wounded at least 39, according to the Tunisian Health Ministry. French, Belgian, Russian, German and British tourists are among the dead. At least one of the attackers was killed by security forces, the New York Times reported. A security source in Tunisia told Reuters that one of the hotels targeted was the Imperial Marhaba.

Meanwhile, ISIS claimed responsibility for a bomb explosion at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait which has killed at least 25 people, according to Sky News.

Although there is no concrete indication that the attacks were jointly coordinated, they occurred at roughly the same time on Friday morning across the three continents. Earlier this week, ISIS urged its followers to increase its attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

In France, the decapitated body of a man was found on the premises of the factory near Lyon, and an attacker brandishing an Islamic State flag was arrested, according to the website of the Le Point magazine. Two other people were shown being detained on French television, one of whom is the attacker’s wife.

The victim was reportedly a local business man and the employer of a second suspect detained by police. French reports said the victim’s head was pinned to the factory gate and covered with Arabic writing.

There were explosions. It’s not clear whether they were caused by devices or by the ramming of a car into gas tanks.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he would “immediately” head to the site. Hollande cut short his attendance at a summit of European leaders in Brussels in order to return to Paris.

History and the war in Syria

While the bloody civil war in Syria rages on, Israel keeps a watchful eye on the Israeli-Syrian border, making sure the fighting between the rebels and Assad’s forces doesn’t spill over into the Golan Heights.

One of the rebel groups calls itself the Martyrs of the Yarmouk Brigades. Yarmouk, it should be noted, is a very loaded word in this region’s ethos. It was on the Yarmouk River, a major tributary of the Jordan River, south of the Golan Heights, where, in August 636 C.E., the Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate defeated the Christian forces of the Byzantine Empire, opening the way to a series of Muslim victories over Christianity.

It was surprising, therefore, to hear a spokesman of the group — which is suspected of having links to al-Qaeda — talk over the phone to correspondents of the Times of Israel, promising that “[t]he Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade has no international aspirations; we are only in conflict with the Assad regime.” The spokesman, Laeth Horan, even went a step further: “There is nothing between us and Israel. We only have demands of Assad, even after the war.”

Only time will tell if this is true, but in the meantime, Yarmouk has more to remind us, this time in the Palestinian context.

In the summer of 1970, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, in one of his most reckless gambles, challenged the Jordanian regime by trying to establish a “mini Palestine” in northern Jordan. In “Black September” of that year, King Hussein’s loyal Bedouins crushed the Palestinian uprising and kicked Arafat and his followers to Lebanon.

Refusing to learn the lesson, Arafat repeated the same mistake in Lebanon, shattering the already fragile equilibrium between the various religious communities of the country. In 1976, his Yarmouk Brigade was fighting Christian forces in the Tal-al-Zaatar Battle. Robert Fisk of the Independent told the L.A. Weekly in 2002 that the Palestinian troops “were given permission to surrender with a cease-fire. But at the last moment, Arafat told his men to open fire on the Christian forces who were coming to accept the surrender. I think Arafat wanted more Palestinian ‘martyrs’ in order to publicize the Palestinian position in the war.”

All this came to an end in 1982, when Israel had enough of the Palestinian harassment coming from Lebanon. In the First Lebanon War, the Israel Defense Forces defeated the Syrian and Palestinian forces (including the same Yarmouk Brigade) and kicked the PLO leadership out of the country.

Our next stop in the Yarmouk tour is Baghdad. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, Arafat rushed to congratulate him in his palace in Al-Yarmouk neighborhood. This turned out to be the most expensive kiss in history, because when Kuwait was freed, it retaliated by expelling 400,000 Palestinians who had worked and lived there (need we mention that some lived in Al-Yarmouk neighborhood in Kuwait City?).

We can go on forever with this historical “Yarmouking,” except that in the meantime there is a human tragedy going on near Damascus and, more precisely, at the Yarmouk camp, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which since 1949 has been trying to alleviate the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees, 130,000 Palestinian refugees have fled their homes in Yarmouk since December 2012, and the remaining 20,000 are being crushed between the forces fighting each other in Syria.

I don’t envy Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. What hope can he offer his brothers and sisters in Yarmouk, or in the other refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza? That they would some day return to the homes they left in 1948, in Jaffa and Haifa? Like his predecessor, Arafat, he knows perfectly well that this is impossible.

Abbas, however, is more sincere than his predecessor (which is not saying much); while Arafat was always talking about the refugee issue from both sides of his mouth, Abbas, who had fled his hometown of Safed (in northern Israel) in 1948, told Israeli Channel Two Television in November 2012 that he wanted to visit Safed: “It’s my right to see it,” he said. But then he added the highly significant words: “but not to live there.”

Then he went on to outline his vision: “Palestine now for me is the ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever ‭. ‬. . . ‭ ‬This is Palestine for me. I am [a] refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that [the] West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts [are] Israel.”

This is where we can see a ray of hope. Let Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree on a Palestinian state with the ’67 borders, with a fair land swap to compensate the Palestinians for the Israeli settlements that will remain in Israel’s territory. Then a new, ambitious Marshall Plan to settle the Palestinian refugees can be launched. When Syria calms down, the refugees in Yarmouk, supported by generous funds, can decide whether they want to stay in Syria, move to the Palestinian state or regroup in another country. This is not a humanitarian move only; it is in the best interests of Israel: When the kids in Yarmouk refugee camp have a future, my grandchildren will be safer.

Yarmouk can then stand for other things, not for bloodshed and misery only — for example, a soccer game between Maccabi Haifa and the Kuwaiti Al-Yarmouk club; a discussion of the Arab League Peace initiative in Al-Yarmouk district in Riyadh; a cooperation agreement between the Technion and Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan; and more. Insh’Allah!

Uri Dromi blogs at

Dealing with Iran’s nuclear challenge

Ten years ago this month a little- known Iranian dissident group — the National Council of Resistance of Iran — held a news conference in Washington, D.C. to present a finding that sent shock waves around the world: Iran had under construction two covert nuclear facilities — a large underground enrichment plant in Natanz and a heavy-water instillation in Arak — that, in time, could serve a nuclear weapons program.

The announcement set off a flurry of international activity to confirm the allegation. The enrichment program became the principal concern because it could directly generate weapons-useable material. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) — the global nonproliferation watchdog — demanded answers from Tehran. European foreign ministers scampered to the Iranian capital urging the Mullahs to halt construction. Negotiations continued for years only to stall. The Security Council followed by slapping sanctions on the regime. A shadow war involving assassination of Iranian scientists and cyber and physical sabotage of Iran’s nuclear and related infrastructure ensued.

Throughout all that, the Mullahs applied an effective dodge-and-weave strategy to buy time. Roadblocks came early as Iran claimed allegations of nuclear hide-and-seek were “selective” and “discriminatory,” effectively a witch hunt based on “false attribution,” “arm-twisting at many capitals” responding to U.S. “partisan politics.”

IAEA didn’t see it that way.  Its first published evaluation (June 2003) found Tehran had “failed to meet its obligations under its Safeguards Agreement with respect to reporting of nuclear material, the subsequent processing and use of that material and the declaration of facilities where the material was stored.” In its most recent report, May 2012, IAEA concluded that due to Iran’s failure to provide total nuclear transparency, “the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

With Iran’s centrifuges continuing to crank out increasing amounts of low and, more significantly, 20 percent enriched uranium that could provide feedstock for weapons-useable material, a glimmer of hope arose in 2010 when Turkey and Brazil got Iranian negotiators to agree to store 80 percent of its low-enriched uranium in Turkey in exchange for foreign nuclear fuel for the country’s medical isotope production reactor. In Tehran, decision makers balked, unwilling to give up nuclear production, while Washington objected on grounds that Tehran would continue to produce low-enriched uranium while retaining the 20 percent stocks that posed the greatest risk.

Today, the international community has settled on a three-prong approach to stop Iran. Israel and the United States continue cyber attacks and, presumably, other covert action. The United States, the European Union and others have intensified “crippling” financial, economic and oil import sanctions while Beijing and Moscow have joined the United States and European allies in negotiations with Iran to halt programs of concern.

To date, these efforts have failed. Should failure persist, several options remain:  accept Iran’s peaceful nuclear representations, prepare to live with a nuclear-armed Iran or apply force to eliminate or set back the country’s nuclear enterprise.

The first option, taking Iran at its word, butts against continuing concerns. Iran’s commitment to a large nuclear-enrichment program makes little commercial sense since Russia amply fuels the country’s sole nuclear power reactor. Iran’s proposed nuclear power plants will not go into service for many years. In addition, foreign sources can supply needed fuel for the country’s medical isotope production reactor. Of course, Iran can make an argument that it needs enrichment plants for energy independence in a hostile world. However, even conceding the point does not justify the country’s failure to provide IAEA with unfettered access to its nuclear program. Through the years, Iran’s continued obstruction has called into question its peaceful representations.

But let’s assume Iran gets the bomb. Can’t we live with it? After all, since 1945 international politics has survived a nuclear-armed world now housing nine countries without a single wartime use. True, but we should find little solace in that. With every nuclear-armed entrant the world makes a new bet that the historic taboo against weapons use will hold.  In the Middle East the bet must be weighed against the region’s unique volatility and Israel’s fears that the Mullahs mean it when they say the Jewish state is a cancer that the region must eliminate.

Finally, there remains force. For years now the United States and Israel have declared “all options are on the table.” Persistent repetition has made the threat increasingly hollow. For the United States, the reluctance to apply military power is understandable. Iraq taught Washington to be wary of imperfect intelligence and such imperfection applies to Iran today. The intelligence community concedes it cannot verify the revolutionary regime has made the decision to make nuclear weapons, a position Israel shares. Some fear that an attack itself would push the country over the brink. Then of course there remains Washington’s war fatigue in the aftermath of Iraq and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Finally, hope continues that other methods, or Iran’s own fears, will constrain the Mullahs.

Uncharacteristically, Israel has eschewed force. Facing two other emerging nuclear adversaries — Syria and Iraq — Israel successfully bombed suspect reactors each housed. But the attacks tell a cautionary tale. Syria marked a simple operation, a solitary vulnerable reactor that it could not rebuild without North Korean technology and engineering.

Iraq turned out to be something different. The June 7, 1981 strike on Osirak destroyed the plant after diplomatic, public relations, assassination and sabotage efforts failed to halt construction. However, the attack did not quell Iraq’s nuclear ambitions. After the raid, Baghdad played dead while dramatically dedicating itself to a new, covert enrichment program. When the new decade began, Iraq was on track to produce weapons-grade uranium within a few years.

But for Saddam Hussein’s 1990 occupation of Kuwait and the strong international response that followed, Iraq might have become the 10th nuclear-armed state. Largely forgotten in memories about the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the American bombing campaign that drove Iraq out of Kuwait also struck many of the country’s concealed nuclear sites. But military strikes alone did not end the program. Rather they resurrected a lesson of the past. To assure against nuclear rebirth, there must be people on the ground to prevent it. The lesson emerged in World War II. In the second world war, the United Stated did not eliminate Nazi Germany’s atomic enterprise through military action, try as it did, but through the occupation of the country allowing program dismantlement that included incarceration of Hitler’s scientists.

The pattern repeated after the 1991 Gulf War. Under the aegis of a Security Council resolution, international inspectors entered Iraq to destroy or remove all nuclear contraband. By 1994 they succeeded.  The result, when American forces entered Iraq in 2003, the search for nuclear weapons found an empty cupboard. We find this pattern again with the Cold War’s demise as U.S. personnel on the ground helped dismantle the Soviet weapons program in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Commentators who call for the use of force against Iran today seem to have forgotten or ignored this history. Iran is neither Syria or Iraq 1981 or even 1981-1991. It has done a far better job to harden, disperse and conceal nuclear sites. The result, a military strike, may wound the nuclear program, not eliminate it. And, unlike Damascus, Tehran’s nuclear engineers have the capacity to rebuild. This point only serves to highlight the importance of ground personnel capable of eliminating nuclear remnants after a military strike and to prevent nuclear rebirth.

But even as history commends the tack it presents an evident challenge. Application to Iran would take a good deal of military convincing — a punishing bombing campaign directed at strategic non-nuclear as well as nuclear sites — to force the Mullahs to open the country to inspectors.  But the alternative is not very satisfactory either, namely periodic bombing to prevent nuclear reconstruction and sow fear. The result would keep the region in a state of quasi war.

Today’s options to put Tehran’s nuclear genie back in the bottle present no sure answers.

Negotiations between Iran and the United States, its European allies, Russia and China will resume later this month.  Bracketed by growing sanctions that have impacted Iran’s economy, they hope at a minimum to coax Tehran to eliminate the country’s 20 percent enriched uranium inventory.  Failure could force the United States and Israel to make good on repeated threats to apply military force or forge a persuasive deterrent strategy.

Were deterrence chosen, Washington would be wise to formally extend a nuclear umbrella to cover Arab allies fearful of Iran as well as Israel. The umbrella would seek to forestall another proliferation concern, an Israeli nuclear weapons possession declaration, a move that could force other regional adversaries to reconsider nonproliferation pledges.

Nuclear deterrence has a record of success, but admittedly it remains a gamble. Arguably, Iran might be less prudent than any other nuclear-armed state in history. But military strikes, absent the insertion of inspectors, remain a gamble as well. It would bank that Tehran is a paper tiger, one like Syria and Iraq, which would avoid military response fearing consequences. But if Tehran turns out to be otherwise, an attack would prompt revenge that could strive to shut the Strait of Hormuz to crash global oil markets coupled with a regional and global terrorist campaign against U.S., European and Israeli interests and rocket strikes directed at Israel from Iran and southern Lebanon. The result could be a major regional war.

Either attack or deterrence remains a throw of the dice, all the more reason to hope that negotiations succeed.

Bennett Ramberg served as a foreign policy analyst in the Department of State, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration. His academic appointments included positions at Princeton and UCLA. The author of three books on international politics and editor of three others, Ramberg is best known for what many believe is the classic treatment of the consequences of military strikes on nuclear installations, “Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy” (University of California Press). Ramberg’s journal outlets include Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Political Science Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Survival, Arms Control Today, International Relations, Group Decision and Negotiation, Communication and the Law and the Croatian Medical Review. Ramberg’s Op-eds have been published by every major U.S. newspaper and many abroad. This is his first Op-ed for The Jewish Journal.

Syria withdraws human rights council bid

Syria withdrew its bid for a spot on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Syria’s withdrawal Wednesday from the Asian group of nations comes as Western nations are working to convince the U.N. Security Council to condemn Syrian President Bashar Assad’s violent campaign to stifle opposition to the Syrian government.

Kuwait was named to replace Syria on the uncontested ballot for the Asian bloc on the 47-member council. The vote will take place May 20. The other nominees from the Asian bloc are India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Syria has called the replacement a trade, saying that it will stand for election to the council in 2013 instead.

Hundreds of Syrians are believed to have been killed and about 8,000 arrested in Assad’s crackdown on opposition protesters.