Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
In a six-month agreement, Iran will cap uranium enrichment at the 5% level, reduce its stockpile of already enriched uranium, and allow for more robust international inspections. In return, it will receive no new nuclear sanctions and "sanction relief" in the amount of $7 billion. [more inside]
Silent War. "On the hidden battlefields of history’s first known cyber-war, the casualties are piling up. In the U.S., many banks have been hit, and the telecommunications industry seriously damaged, likely in retaliation for several major attacks on Iran. Washington and Tehran are ramping up their cyber-arsenals, built on a black-market digital arms bazaar, enmeshing such high-tech giants as Microsoft, Google, and Apple. With the help of highly placed government and private-sector sources, Michael Joseph Gross describes the outbreak of the conflict, its escalation, and its startling paradox: that America’s bid to stop nuclear proliferation may have unleashed a greater threat."
Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought.[more inside]
It's been five years since the death of Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. No one ever claimed responsibility for killing him. Hezbollah publicly blames Israel's Mossad, a charge they unsurprisingly deny. So, who killed The Driver? [more inside]
Richard Silverstein, an American journalist and blogger on Israeli affairs, says he has been given a leaked document which outlines a plan for an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. (BBC).
An unauthorized certificate could be used to spoof content, perform phishing attacks, or perform man-in-the-middle attacks. This issue affects all supported releases of Microsoft Windows.
"Flame" is the name of a newly-identified malware program which utilizes a previously unknown MD5 collision attack to successfully spoof Microsoft Terminal Services, and install itself as a trusted program using Windows Update, Microsoft has confirmed. The program appears to have targeted computers in the Middle East, and specifically Iran; analysts have alleged it is likely created by the same entity that designed Stuxnet. Flame has been live and actively spying since 2010, but went undetected until recently, due to sophisticated anti-detection measures. [more inside]
U.S. and Israel have been confirmed as the authors behind the Stuxnet virus. The program — codenamed "Olympic Games" — was started under Bush and accelerated under Obama. The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted. (non-NYTimes link)
To the Iranian people. To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters. For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you. I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian...Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude. [more inside]
After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear — rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive — and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.
Following a months-long investigation, the Department of Justice has announced the existence of a well-funded plot "conceived, sponsored and directed" by "high-ranking members of the Iranian government" to assassinate Saudi Arabian ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir on U.S. soil in conjunction with informants in Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas. The "Hollywood" plot, revealed in an afternoon press conference and described in a detailed 21-page complaint [PDF], is alleged to have involved an attack on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. One suspect, naturalized American citizen Arbab Arbabsiar, has been arrested, while co-conspirator and Quds Force member Gholam Shakuri remains at large. Iranian officials were quick to label the charges a "fabrication" intended to distract from America's economic troubles.
The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg gets an opportunity to sit down with former Cuban President Fidel Castro. [more inside]
"Israel is our only hope as the post-American president is aiding and abetting a nuclear Iran. Barack Obama is enabling Iran’s Islamic bomb" - Pamela Geller
As the "ground zero mosque" story approaches bipartisan consensus, thanks to unexpected statements by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (joining a growing opposition), several journalists trace the origins of how the Park 51 community center became(warning: CNN) a toxic subject. What they found was Pamela Geller, a blogger at Atlas Shrugs, who has some very interesting vlogs. You may previously know her from this cozy 2006 interview with Bush's infamous anti-UN UN ambassador John Bolton.
The Point of No Return. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold.
"Immediately after an attack by Israel, and even with no Iranian response, the United States is likely to begin significant defensive deployments to the region. Its attempts over a period of a year to negotiate with the Iranians make the Obama Administration more vulnerable to domestic pressures to be strong in its reaction to an Israeli strike.The Israeli Threat: An Analysis of the Consequences of an Israeli Strike on Iranian Nuclear Facilities [PDF]. [more inside]
At an early stage after an Israeli attack, the United States would be faced with deciding whether to passively await casualties or to attack Iranian military capabilities on its own. The United States would probably decide to finish the job on Iranian nuclear facilities and destroy as much as possible of Iran’s capability to project combat power."
In response to Israel's show of might, Iran tested long range missiles capable of hitting Israel and other U.S. targets in the region. Was the image AFP used photoshopped?
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
Israel leaks plans for nuclear strike on Iran. The details were leaked (on purpose it appears) from Israeli military personal in order to test the waters, prepare the world, and/or put pressure on others to act first. One source: "As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished." Glad I don't live in the Middle East.
Lieberman appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Affairs Has the Israeli government has served notice on the White House that it must take pre-emptive action against Iran's sites of nuclear weapons development - or Israel will go it alone and do the job itself. Israel has apparently given Bush a deadline of six months. The Arms control wonk has this about the next set of Uranium 164 centrifuge cascade
In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive... The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.Test Case
"God's Army Has Plans to Run the Middle East" is an article that argues that Hezbollah is Iran's "spearhead" towards controlling the entire region. The author? Amir Taheri. You might remember him as the guy who fabricated the story about Iran imposing "yellow star" regulations on religious minorities (previously on mefi). James Wolcott connects the deceitful dots.
A US court has decided that Persian antiquities on loan to the University of Chicago can be confiscated and sold to compensate American victims of Hamas violence in Israel.
Newsfilter : Farid Mortazavi, graphics editor to the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri, puts out a call for revisionist Holocaust cartoons. Israeli settlers may plan to riot. Well, continue rioting, anyway.
Hussein Derakhshan [English site] is one of the leading voices of the Persian blogosphere. His blog [Persian site] manages to reach a wide audience in Iran despite being officially censored. Currently, he is fulfilling his dream of visiting Israel [Flickr pics] and breaking barriers in Israeli-Iranian relations. Lisa Goldman, his host in Israel writes about his visit in her blog, too. He is interviewed by the Israeli press in this Haaretz article. He has written "Democracy's Double Standard", an NYT op-ed piece, [bugmenot]. from Tel Aviv, and delivered a lecture on "Reform, Youth and Technology" at the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. Oh yeah, he's also a MeFite.
Iran's President wants Israel to move to Europe. In what part of Europe would Israel fit?
Animated video broadcast on Iran's IRIB state television, apparently aimed at children, seemingly promotes the virtues of becoming a suicide bomber. Coralized wmv link, transcript.
Newsfilter: If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the destruction of Israel, would anybody listen? Apparently this time they are. While vague threats from Iran are a dime a dozen, "Since 1945, the establishment of the United Nations, no head of state which is a member of the United Nations ever called for the destruction of another member of the United Nations, publicly and clearly, as the president of Iran did." according to Shimon Peres, in demanding that Iran be expelled from the UN for the statement. Much of the world seems pretty upset (including the US, who's destruction was also called for on this merry "World without Zionism" conference), but will it lead to anything, or is it just a ratcheting up of the hyperbole between Iran and the IAEA?
Q & A with former Israeli Mossad chief Efraim Halevy. Halevy fields questions from readers around the world. See also his article "The coming Pax Americana".
Handshakes are an important: They've signaled new eras in international relations, but this week they reaffirmed the sad realities of our time.
America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace An op-ed piece by former president Jimmy Carter that is going to get a lot of play in the media. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter seems to suggest a rather easy solution: give back the Palestinian lands and have the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist. Put the pressure on Israel by withhold financial aid till they do as we bid. Problem: Palestinians being subsidized by Iraq, Iran, EU and Syria. What about pressure on them? And: Palelstinian issues still in need of resolving: capital and Right of Return....with this left out, we are still not going to get peace. Does Carter simplify or is he on target? reg reqd.
Middle East war predictions "..what we are witnessing looks like joint preparations by the Palestinian Authority, Syria, its Lebanese client, Iraq, and Iran, for war on a regional scale, against both Israel and U.S. interests. I fear we may face a major, sudden, external assault on Israel, meant to precede U.S. action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and indeed prevent the U.S. from going there by enmiring it in the defence of Israel. [From The Ottowa Citizen, lead link in today's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web]
Israel Captures 50 tons of weapons smuggled from Iran on a Palestinian ship. Palestinians claim the ship has nothing to do with them, even though Israel asserts that the ship's captain and officers are all Palestinian Naval officers. Palestine says it is an Israeli attempt to ruin the mission of the American, Zinni. I think Palestinians are lying here (similar to what they have always done) ... What do you think?