Report: Israel attacked two targets in Syria


Israel attacked two targets in Syria, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network reported.

The attacks in Latakia and Damascus on Wednesday night targeted SA-8 portable missiles that were to be transferred to Hezbollah in northern Lebanon, according to the report published Thursday evening, which cited unnamed sources. The missile shipments were destroyed, according to the report.

Syria had not responded to the report of the attacks by Thursday night.

Thursday’s report came after news of a massive explosion Wednesday at the Latakia air base, where advanced anti-aircraft missiles produced in Russia are believed to be stored. Israeli drones were reported to have flown in Lebanese air space earlier in the day.

Israel carried out a July 5 air attack near Latakia, a major Syrian port city, targeting advanced anti-ship cruise missiles sold to the Syria government by Russia, according to reports in The New York Times and other news sources.

In January, Israel reportedly struck a weapons convoy in Syria carrying Russian-made missiles en route to Hezbollah. In May, Israel reportedly hit Syrian missile stockpiles on two occasions.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the attacks, though U.S. officials have identified Israel as the attacker in all three incidents.

A year after signing power transfer deal, Yemenis divided over government’s performance


[SANA’A] Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdullatif Bin Rashid Al Zayani visited Yemen to mark the first anniversary of the deal that saw former President Ali Abdullah Saleh relinquish power to his longtime deputy, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

On November 23 last year, after 10 months of deadly protests calling for his ouster, Saleh was forced to sign the agreement initiated by the Saudi-led Gulf monarchies and backed by the West.

Analysts say Ban's visit to Yemen, which made him the first UN chief to visit the country, was mainly intended to push for launching the second phase of the power transfer deal, which includes holding an inclusive national dialogue, reorganizing the divided army and security forces, and rewriting the constitution.

“The UN chief's visit at this critical time was designed to demonstrate the entire international community’s support for Hadi and his power-sharing government, and deliver a warning message to those who are trying to hinder the process of transition,” Abdusalem Mohammed, chairman of the Abaad Studies and Research Center think tank, told The Media Line.

“The visit, which came as violence was raging between Gaza and Israel, was also aimed to deter any militant group from attempting to exploit the situation and stir chaos,” he added. 

With the passage of one year since the ouster of the former president, many Yemenis are assessing the performance of Hadi and his power-sharing government.

“Actually, nothing has changed at all,” accountant Saleh Ali, 27, told The Media Line. “The same policies are applied. Only officials have been replaced and that essentially does not make any difference by itself.”

“We were better off before the revolution erupted. It only helped divisions to deepen, tensions to heighten and poverty to increase,” said Ali, who wore traditional Yemeni clothing including a Janbiya — a dagger with a short curved blade worn on a belt. Other passengers on the same bus disagreed sharply with Ali. One went so far as to call him one of Saleh's thugs.

College student Rami Khalid, 23, told The Media Line, “I feel like I was not alive before the overthrow of Saleh. Thank God he's gone. Things have looked up since he was ousted.”

However, Khalid, who was chewing leaves of Khat, a narcotic plant chewed daily by more than half of Yemen's population, admitted that living standards had dropped, but said this will be temporarily.

“Hadi and the national unity government managed to get things back on track after tensions were running high and the country was heading toward a civil war,” Ali Al-Sarari, political and media advisor for Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwah, told The Media Line. “They managed to restore relative security across the nation and drive out Al-Qa’ida militants from their strongholds. Any citizen can clearly notice the difference in the public services such as tap water and electricity.”

During the uprising against Saleh, public services significantly deteriorated.

Al-Sarari says he believes the government’s biggest accomplishment so far was achieved in the area of combating corruption. “The new government revoked the long-term contract with [marine terminal operator] DP World which had deliberately undermined the strategic Aden Port. It has also managed to negotiate with the French oil company Total a rise in the ‘unfair’ price that Yemen's liquefied gas is sold for,” he said.

“Hadi and his national unity government have so far been successful at their job at the helm of Yemen,” said Abdusalam Mohammed of the Abaad Studies and Research Center. “In the transitional stage, they are not required to boost development or improve the struggling economy, rather to prevent the country from descending into a full-blown civil war, which they did.”

Dr. Yahya Al-Thawr, chairman of Modern German Hospital in Sana’a, agreed with Mohammed and added, “So far, their performance has been satisfactory. But many people want to see improvements in the economy and development, and that's impossible because these sectors need time to progress.”

“Hadi is steering Yemen toward a successful, national dialogue and resolving long-standing problems,” Al-Sarari said.

While Al-Thawr and Mohammed shared his thinking, although they noted that the transitional process is very slow, political analyst Abdul-Bari Taher says that the indications do not show that Yemen is heading toward reconciliation.

“There are many challenges and obstacles facing the transitional process in the country. The situation is very complicated: Militant groups are currently amassing weapons, and the media war between the political factions is at its peak. Even the mosque's podiums have been used to spark tensions instead of easing them,” Taher told The Media Line.

“Actually, the situation looks as if Yemen is heading toward war — not dialogue and reconciliation. I'm afraid that neither President Hadi nor the prime minister will be able to do anything to stop the simmering tensions,” said Taher.

Mohammed, Taher, Al-Sarari and Al-Thawr all agree that in the coming months Hadi will have to take bold measures to end the divisions and disunity in the army. They say reorganizing the military is imperative for creating a conductive environment and laying the groundwork for the upcoming national dialogue conference.
 
Perhaps because of its strategic location – three million barrels of oil pass through the country daily – the international community showed considerable support for Yemen's stability and for President Hadi.

In a meeting in Riyadh on September 4, friends of Yemen pledged $ 6.4 billion in aid for Yemen's transitional period. At another meeting in New York on September 27, additional pledges totaled $1.5 billion, bringing the total to $7.9 billion.

In October, key Defense Ministry officials told local media outlets that Yemen is expecting an arms shipment from the U.S. as a grant for the poorest Arab state. The shipment includes four highly-advanced drones.

Michael Oren: Iran targeted Israeli Embassy


UPDATE (9:09 p.m.): On previous occasions, Israeli officials have suggested that Israel is considering a massive, crippling attack on Iran before it can move its nuclear facilities to safety deep underground. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren did not use that language in his interview with WTOP as represented in an earlier version of this article.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, said Iran targeted his embassy.

Oren said last year’s alleged plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Abel Al-Jubeir at a Washington restaurant also included plans to blow up the Israeli Embassy, WTOP radio in Washington reported Wednesday.

The complaint against Manssor Arbabsiar, who is charged with plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, also states that Arbabsiar “discussed the possibility of attacks on a number of targets. These targets included government facilities associated with Saudi Arabia and with ‘another’ country and these targets were located within the United States.”

Oren told WTOP Wednesday morning that Israel was that other country.

Iranian plot included Israeli embassy in Argentina


An Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, thwarted earlier this week, also involved an attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires. 

American-Iranian Manssor Arbabsiar, arrested Oct. 11in the Saudi ambassador murder plot, was also planning an attack against the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Buenos Aires, although U.S. officials did not state it specifically, according to reports.

Acting head of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, Ángel Barman, told JTA that “it´s not surprising that Iran is suspected of committing a new attack.”

After hearing the news that FBI broke up a series of terrorist attacks involving Iranian targets in Argentina, AMIA said in a statement that “whoever is unpunished, reoffends.”  The statement refers to the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in which 85 were killed and hundreds injured. Argentina has accused Iran of ordering the bombing, which it says was carried out by the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

“This only shows the impunity with which Iran operates given its current lack of cooperation to clarify the AMIA bombing, a pending task that leaves the possibility of a third attack in Argentina open,” according to the AMIA.

“I’m not surprised by the fact that Iran´s terrorist attack was ready and organized, because they realized that nothing happens, they can kill and do it again.” Barman told Argentinean TV channel C5N.

In a ceremony for the “Argentine Diplomats Day” on Oct. 11,  Foreign Minister, Héctor Timerman highlighted the “openness” of the Argentinean Government toward Iran after Iran announced recently that it would cooperate with Argentina to bring the AMIA bombers to justice.

“I mean the attitude of openness that we chose at the announcement of cooperation from Iran over the AMIA bombing.  … Because the warrants issued by Interpol against of those accused of heinous attack remain firm,” Timerman said hours before Iranian intention of attacking embassies in Argentina was made public.

Sergio Witis, vice-president of DAIA, Argentine Jewry’s primary umbrella organization, said that “this is a matter of concern, because it affects the safety of all Argentineans. It doesn’t surprise us that Iran stands behind this kind of plan,” Witis told C5N.

The United States reportedly informed the Argentinean government about the Iranian terrorist plan. “Argentina was one of the countries called by the Undersecretary for Political Affairs and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns” to talk about this issue, said a U.S. spokesperson.

At the same time, Clarín Newspaper was told by upper echelon sources that, in parallel, that Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. embassy in Argentina and key man for its diplomatic headquarters, Jefferson Brown, was in Argentina’s Foreign Ministry this week to discuss details of the indictment that the U.S. Attorney filed against two Iranian citizens.

It was also confirmed through diplomatic sources that Argentina appears in the investigations initiated by the FBI and the DEA, as well as other countries whose names were not revealed. The potential attack on the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Argentina was mentioned initially by ABC News on Oct. 11, and the following day on the front page of the New York Times.

Contacted by JTA, the spokesperson of Israeli embassy in Argentina would not comment about the issue. Israel’s embassy in Argentina was attacked on March 17, 1992, leaving 29 civilians dead and 242 additional injured.

Argentina has the largest population of Jews in Latin America.

VIDEO: This just in — Saudis are Jews in disguise!


Former Lebanese Minister Wiam Wahhab: The Saudi regime Is used by the Jews to avenge the defeat of the Qaynuqa Tribe by the Prophet Muhammad.

Huh?

In other words, The House of Saud are Jews in disguise.

 

Jihad follows twisted path from Afghanistan to Israel


The path of jihad begins in a cave on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. From there, it takes a dizzying spin through Iran, wends its way through the Middle East and then settles, inevitably, in Israel.

 

Optimistic? Yep.


The most remarkable aspect of the war Israel is fighting now in Lebanon is not who Israel’s enemy is, but who its friends are.

The terrorist group Hezbollahcrossed Israel’s border, killed eight soldiers and captured two others, and followed that attack with volleys of rockets and missiles against Israeli civilians. Israel reacted by bombing Hezbollah armaments and strongholds as well as Lebanese infrastructure that could aid the terrorists in hiding the captured soldiers or sustaining their assaults.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s decision to prosecute a decisive war against Hezbollah has widespread support within his country. Polls show him and Defense Minister Amir Peretz at 78 percent popularity, with 81 percent of the public behind their actions.

“I know it’s strange,” said a friend of mine from Tel Aviv, “but people are actually in a good mood. They’re pulling together. There’s a feeling we’re actually doing something about these sons of bitches.”

It’s not unusual that most Americans and President George W. Bush feel the same way — although the president would probably use even saltier language to express it. What has been unusual has been the support Israel’s received outside its borders and beyond Washington.

I’m not even talking about the July 17 Los Angeles Times lead editorial. “Make no mistake about it,” the editorial began, “responsibility for the escalating carnage in Lebanon and northern Israel lies with one side, and one side only. And that is Hezbollah, the Islamist militant party, along with its Syrian and Iranian backers. Reasonable minds can differ on the strategic wisdom of the Israeli response, but there can be no doubt about the blame for the mounting death toll on both sides of the border.”

That was enough to spin the heads of the pro-Israel community, which has long seen the L.A. Times as overly critical.

The bigger shock came from overseas. Arab governments, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, also blamed Hezbollah. The Saudis made clear that Hezbollah “adventuring” hurt the people of Palestine and Lebanon and was a naked attempt by Hezbollah’s string-pullers in Iran and Syria to assert their power in the Mideast.

And the Arab press and the street agreed with the rulers. “The response on the Arab street has been so disappointing for Hizbullah,” The Jerusalem Post reported, ” that its leaders are now openly talking about an Arab ‘conspiracy’ to liquidate the Shiite organization.”

In the English-language Arab Times, a 30,000-circulation Kuwaiti daily, editor-in-chief Ahmed Jarallah took a position that could only be called L.A. Times-ian: “Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of [Hezbollah and Hamas] is what Israel is doing,” he wrote. “The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community.”

If you have a minute, it wouldn’t hurt to send a letter to that editor to register your agreement. He’s at ahmedjarallah@hotmail.com.The last bit of good news came from St. Petersburg, where leaders at the G8 Summit issued a statement on the conflict that was far more balanced and fair toward Israel.

“It was the most pro-Israel statement the Europeans have ever issued in the midst of an Arab-Israeli war,” UCLA political scientist Steven L. Spiegel told me.

Spiegel cautioned that none of this support amounts to a blank check. Things could still go south — so to speak — for Israel. It needs to be mindful of civilian casualties. It can’t prosecute a war indefinitely once the major actors like the United States commit to a solution. And though the Saudis have offered to fund the rebuilding of Lebanon, the civilian death toll and images of destruction will linger in the public eye.

“You don’t destroy a country as Israel has done to Lebanon and totally get away with it,” Spiegel said.

Still, there is in the midst of this war — I write this on Tuesday — room for something like optimism.

Optimism?

Well, sort of.

On the one hand, Hezbollah, an outgrowth of radical Shia Islam, has a hatred of Israel that cannot be negotiated. To understand the Palestinians, read the modern history of Israel. To understand Hezbollah, read Christoph Reuter’s “My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing” (Princeton, 2002). Reuter quotes the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, speaking after the Lebanon War at a time when he served as Defense Minister:

“I believe that among the many surprises that came out of the war in Lebanon, the most dangerous is that the war let the Shiites come out of the bottle. In 20 years of PLO terrorism, no one PLO terrorist ever made himself into a live bomb. In my opinion, the Shiites have the potential for a kind of terrorism we have not yet experienced.”

The prophetic Rabin could not conceive how Israel would fight a foe that would accept its own destruction if that meant Israel’s as well.

But Rabin led Israel through wars against pan-Arab secularists who at the time also seemed intractable and unbeatable.

Now — thanks to this war — Israel is undoing six years of strategic mistakes it committed by allowing a buildup of Hezbollah weapons and personnel in Southern Lebanon. It won’t make that mistake again, or at least any time soon. Any international agreement that follows the fighting will have to interfere with Hezbollah abilities to arm and threaten Israel from the north. And the international community will be even harsher toward Iran’s nuclear ambitions, well aware of how this conflict would have progressed had its chief instigator had nuclear warheads.

Hezbollah itself must be reeling from its isolation in the Arab world, and from the display of unity and fortitude within Israel. The organization might, as its leader said, have more surprises in store for Israel, but so far the biggest weapon in this war has been Israel’s resilience and determination to fight. As Spiegel said — optimistically –“You never wake up a sleeping democratic giant.”

Most Americans Mistrust Saudi Peace Plan


Only 26 percent of Americans believe the Saudi peace initiative is sincere, according to a new poll of more than 1,000 Americans. Thirty-one percent believe the Saudis launched the initiative to improve their image in the United States. Sixty-two percent of respondents believe the Saudis are not ready to accept Israel’s right to exist.

The plan calls for the Arab world to make peace with Israel in return for a withdrawal from all lands Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. The survey, commissioned by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, has a margin of error of 3 percent.

— Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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