Friday, March 31, 2006


UPI Politics & Policies: Hamas gov't in crunch By CLAUDE SALHANI
Governing the Palestinian territories has never been a simple task, even at the best of times.
Dar Al-Hayat "Hamas" and Olmert by Abdallah Iskandar - “Hamas” failed upon the elections in capturing the moment of Palestinian consensus, which can set off a national government (front), with the rest of the factions, committees, and figures. It seems that the short-haul calculations, the party game, and the personal goals are still topping the agenda. It will thus be easy for Israel to resume its unilateral schemes.
Gulf News Forcing Hamas will never work
The West wants Middle East democracy only on its own terms
A just peace or no peace Ismail Haniyeh: Israeli unilateralism is a recipe for conflict - as is the west's racist refusal to treat Palestinians as equals.
Daily Star After the confusion of Oslo's demise, Israel's new realism By Barry Rubin
Christian Science Monitor Israeli voters turn to new issues, parties
The Palestinian conflict was not the only concern in Tuesday's election.
Dar Al-Hayat How Will "Hamas" Implement its Agenda? By Maher Othman - How will Hamas secure a safe passage between Gaza Strip and the West Bank? How can it await the release of prisoners and the pullout of the occupation forces from the Palestinian cities without negotiations with Israel? Will it use force or will it compel Israel to go for negotiations without recognizing its presence?
Al-Ahram Approved Khaled Amayreh reports from the West Bank as the Legislative Council approves a Hamas-led cabinet
Gulf News Hamas ministers take charge of their posts
Hamas's new Cabinet ministers started moving into their offices yesterday as Western nations began following through on their threats to cut off aid to the Palestinian government if the group does not moderate.
Al-Ahram Tug of war Ibrahim Nafie examines the double bind of Arab aid to the Palestinians and the position of Hamas
Haaretz Ex-Mossad chief: Hamas offered 30-year cease-fire in 1997
BBC Kadima secures extra seat in poll
Jerusalem Post Final: Olmert gains center-left majority After tallying all votes, Kadima reaches 29 seats, Likud gets 12 and Meretz 5.
Haaretz Kadima's historic role
FT Olmert considers options after slender victory The new Kadima party faces a difficult time building a coalition to back its plan to redraw Israel’s borders, reports Harvey Morris
Haaretz Ehud Olmert favors Yisrael Beiteinu over Shas in coalition
Victory for Olmert as Israel moves to the centre Ehud Olmert, Israel’s acting prime minister, declared victory for the new centrist Kadima party in the country’s general elections, and pledged to lead a coalition that would set the country’s final borders.
Yedioth Ahronoth Coalition talks tips
Politicians should use coalition talks to restore respect
Yedioth Ahronoth Peretz faces coalition dilemma by Attila Somfalvi
Labor party expected to join forces with Kadima as senior coalition partner, but
'Sharon studied my map before stroke' By TOVAH LAZAROFF
On his last day of consciousness, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon studied a new map showing potential borders that would allow for both a Palestinian state and for as many settlers as possible to remain in Judea and Samaria, Kadima politician Otniel Schneller has told The Jerusalem Post.
Al-Ahram Finished with Likud It was poverty not disengagement that determined the outcome of the Israeli elections, writes Graham Usher in Jerusalem
Der Spiegel Disengagement or Escapism? With Ehud Olmert as its new prime minister, Israel seems set to continue the policy of disengagement from the occupied territories inaugurated by Ariel Sharon. Is Israel's hope of containing the conflict by turning inward is realistic?
US 'open' to Israel borders plan
Haaretz U.S. and the elections
Haniyeh: Pullout is recipe for conflict British daily The Guardian on Friday published an opinion by Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh who threatened that unilateral steps by Israel are a recipe for confrontation.
Washington Post Israel's Surprise Issue By E. J. Dionne Jr., March
NYT Bomber Kills 3 Israelis as Hamas Takes Power By GREG MYREThe new Palestinian interior minister announced that Palestinian security forces would no longer arrest Palestinian militants.
Washington Post West Bank Bomber Kills 4 Israelis
FT US bans meetings with Hamas The US administration banned its officials from meeting the Islamist group Hamas, as the new Palestinian government was sworn in and while Israel’s centrist Kadima party opened talks to form a coalition.
BBC Bomber strikes Israeli settlement A Palestinian bomber has killed himself and three Israelis outside a settlement in the West Bank, officials say.

Al-Ahram Second post The surprise appointment of a new Syrian vice-president sparks debate on how far this may affect the country's future, Sami Moubayed reports from Damascus
Dar Al-Hayat Urgent: Assad Shakes Hands with Siniora by Daoud Shirian - The standoff between Syria and Lebanon became, or was about to become, a gateway for a regional crisis that goes beyond the Syrians and the Lebanese. Khartoum’s summit deserves to be an Arab summit par excellence, since it disregarded the crucial issues and failed even to assume a role in reconciliation and confrontation.
ChamPress Syria Rejects Bids to Seed Discord in Iraq

Dar Al-Hayat The American-Iranian "Dialogue": No One Knows What Washington Wants by Raghida Dergham If Washington in the Bush era has decided to adopt the concept of the so-called “big-time bargaining” and make Iran its key partner in the deal, it will have decided implicitly to become a part of establishing the Shiite crescent in the region, despite the implications in terms of ethnic cleansing, partition, and breach of the commitments.
Jerusalem Post Eye of the storm: Hiding in a paradox By AMIR TAHERIThe EU and US may actually be strengthening Ahmadinejad's position.FT Big powers fail to agree next move on Iran The world’s big powers sought to strike a common front on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme but failed to agree what steps to take if Tehran refused to meet their demands.
Christian Science Monitor Security Council turns up pressure against Iran
Tehran has 30 days to prove it's not building nuclear arms, but shows no sign of bending.

Washington Post Don't Blame Me by Dan Froomkin With his vision of Iraq belied not only by an insurgency that he didn't anticipate, but also by sectarian rivalries that he disregarded before the invasion, President Bush has come up with a new rhetorical line of attack: It's not my fault, it's Saddam's.
MEMRI Mar 31 SD# 1130 - Iraqi Reformist MP Sayyed Ayad Jamal al-Din on Current Iraqi Issues

Asia Times Talking with the 'terrorists' Apart from Israel, there are five political movements and governments in the Middle East of undeniable importance: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mark Perry and Alastair Crooke

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Der Spiegel Israeli Election Analysis: Choosing Divorce over Peace
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS: Israel's election is only another beginning Competing identities among Jews played less of a role, but these elections were still about identity: the Jewish identity of Israel, writes Avishai Margalit of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Editorial A small earthquakein a fractious Israel In the event, it was more of an earth tremor than the predicted earthquake, a mere 4.5 on the political Richter scale in the view of Haaretz
Los Angeles Times Israel's impossible dream By Yossi Klein Halevi The victory of the centrist sensibility marks the end of three decades' worth of utopian politics, right and left
Los Angeles Times Israel's impossible dream By Yossi Klein Halevi The victory of the centrist sensibility marks the end of three decades' worth of utopian politics, right and left
New York Times Editorial West Bank Withdrawal Tuesday's election in Israel was a minor breakthrough.
Editorial Editorial A Decisive Election Israelis overwhelmingly vote to withdraw from the occupied West Bank.
Olmert seeks coalition partners Newly elected leader of Israel looks for support on defining borders.
Leader Small earthquake in Jerusalem Israeli politicians and pundits will be busy in the coming days working out what Ehud Olmert's coalition government will look like.
This can be a vote for peace Amos Oz:The rise of Hamas is in fact an opportunity for Israel's new government to work with Arab states.
Editorial Kadima's historic role Should Kadima begin to actively compromise its raison d'etre - pulling out of the West Bank - it is likely Israel will see another election very soon.
Benn- Olmert's troubles ahead Olmert's campaign vow to find a pullout plan acceptable to both the Americans and to the settlers will inevitably force him to retract some of his pre-election promises.
Daily Telegraph Israelis vote for peace at their price Con Coughlin asserts that the Israeli people are desperate for peace. And that is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the final declaration of the results from Israel's strangely subdued general election.
Leader Poor Israelis leave their mark in the Knesset Foreign interest in Israel's election has centred on the prospect for reviving peace talks with the Palestinians. Yet the extraordinary result suggests that for much of the electorate this was not the most pressing issue.
Independent The New Israel: Plans to redraw border on West Bank Ehud Olmert began the task of building a workable coalition yesterday after Israelis voted, for the first time, to return a majority of MPs committed to dismantling settlements in the West Bank
Daily Star Israel is united in avoiding real peace By Jonathan Cook
The low margin of victory aside, Kadima's success in the Israeli election on Tuesday is far from the political and ideological upheaval most analysts were predicting. The most notable event was the humiliation of Likud, Ariel Sharon's old party and the one he hoped to sabotage by setting up Kadima shortly before he himself was felled by a stroke.
WSJ Israel's Muddled Election Ehud Olmert can still learn from Sharon.
Slate Israel's Big Bang: Tuesday's election changed everything.
Olmert Macher: The international media sort through the Israeli election results.Zuzanna Kobrzynski and Amanda Watson-Boles
BBC From bad to worse Palestinians despair over Kadima's victory in Israeli polls
Washington Times Editorial The post-Sharon era
UPI Analysis: Olmert's monumental taskAnalysis: Israel's new pragmatic center
Daily Star Israel is united in avoiding real peace By Jonathan Cook
Yedioth Ahronoth Yes to Palestine, no to Palestinians Elections 2006: Israeli earthquake
Christian Science Monitor Israeli voters turn to new issues, parties The Palestinian conflict was not the only concern in Tuesday's election.
Editorial Bush must now focus on the West Bank
Independent The New Israel: Plans to redraw border on West Bank
'Israel lobby' paranoia By Max Boot
Daily Star Kadima wins vote as Hamas takes office Interim Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert began building a coalition on Wednesday after winning an election on plans to set Israel's final borders within four years with or without agreement of its Palestinian neighbor. In Gaza, President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a Hamas government, and new Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya vowed to work closely with the moderate Palestinian leader.
Hamas Cabinet Is Sworn In, Widening Break With the Israelis
Palestinian cabinet is sworn in War of Words Over Paper on Israel
This can be a vote for peaceAmos Oz:The rise of Hamas is in fact an opportunity for Israel's new government to work with Arab states.
US severs all ties with Hamas

Syria's Assad Calls for Better U.S. Ties
Bush urges Syria to strengthen Iraq border controls
Syria Comment
Asad Interview with Charlie Rose (Aired March 27, 2006)
New Evidence in Hariri Murder
Gulf Times Leaders back Syria, oppose sanctions bid
Arab leaders expressed their support for Syria’s leadership and rejected US pressure and the threat of sanctions on Damascus at the Arab League

KR Security Council calls on Iran to halt uranium enrichment The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday called on Iran to stop enriching uranium and resolve concerns that it's developing nuclear weapons, but the statement wasn't legally binding, and it was watered down in response to demands from Russia and China.
UN Statement: Draft Statement on Iran's Nuclear Program
IHT The key lies in Iran's history CHARLES A. KUPCHAN AND RAY TAKEYH Tapping into Iran's national pride rather than confronting it head-on holds out the best hope for containing its nuclear ambitions
Washington Post Could Sanctions Stop Iran? Recent History Suggests That the Prospects Aren't Good By Carne Ross - Recent history suggests that economic sanctions won't deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, even in the unlikely event that the international community imposes them.
Asia Times Different beat to Iran war drums In comparison to the rush to war with Iraq, the crisis over Iran's nuclear program is unfolding at a snail's pace. This does not mean, though, that the end result will not be the same. - Ehsan Ahrari
Iran is at war with US and Kurdistan By Vladimir van Wilgenburg
BC Crunch talks on Iran nuclear plan Condoleezza Rice will join five other key foreign ministers in Berlin to discuss a strategy on Iran's nuclear plans.
Iran confrontation moves on Key nations' stances on Iran Q&A: Iran nuclear stand-off
Financial Times UN deadlock on Iran set to end After an impasse of almost a month, diplomats at the UN yesterday appeared on the brink of agreeing a compromise text for...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Jerusalem Post After counting 99% of the votes, Kadima gets 28 seats Followed by Labor with 20, Shas 13, Israel Beitenu 12, Likud 11, NU/NRP 9, Pensioners 7, UTJ 6 and Meretz 4.
Olmert Claims Victory In Israel Elections Acting prime minister's centrist party wins the most seats in Tuesday's parliamentary elections, but fails to take majority as vote draws lowest turnout in country's history.
Ha’aretz – ANALYSIS: Old-timers' turn to make waves in Israeli elections In Olmert-Peretz government, the Labor chairman will wield leverage; if he wants Meretz, he'll get Meretz.
ANALYSIS: Olmert's options, Eitan's victory, Netanyahu's loss ANALYSIS: Netanyahu bruised and let down by Lieberman
Guardian Kadima wins Israel's election The ruling party wins as Likud is humiliated, exit polls show.
Immigrants favour hardliners
BBC Israel victor sets out programme Ehud Olmert's Kadima wins the biggest share of votes in Israel's election, and the acting PM details his plans.In quotes: Israel poll reaction
The Times Voters turn their backs on Israeli hardliners Israel is heading for a centrist government committed to withdrawing settlers from the West Bank and imposing new borders on Palestinians
Israelis have at last endorsed the gradual return of a stolen inheritance Jonathan Freedland: The planned unilateral borders cannot stand, but Olmert needs support - because some withdrawal is better than none.
New York Times Voters in Israel Support Parties Vowing Pullout Israelis turned to the centrist Kadima party and Ehud Olmert, who will become prime minister, but his support proved tepid.
Guardian Israelis have at last endorsed the gradual return of a stolen inheritance Jonathan Freedland: The planned unilateral borders cannot stand, but Olmert needs support - because some withdrawal is better than none
Israel's Lessons for Fighting Terrorists and their Implications for the United StatesBrookings Institution
Congressional Research Service "Israel: Background and Relations with the United States,"
Daily Star Hamas joins the ranks of the world's unpopular leadersOnly targeted sanctions might moderate Hamas By Martin Kramer
Debka The Moussaoui Testimony, the German BND chief, al Qaeda, Hamas and Israel
Hamas threatens war over Israel's separation plan

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


BBC Israel votes for new government
The Israeli people go to the polls in an election that could lead to a push to settle final borders.
Voters' views
Analysis: Sharon's legacies
Q&A: Israeli election
Jerusalem Post Elections underway in 8,000 polling stations countrywideSecurity forces deploy in city centers, Jerusalem periphery, and borders with Palestinian areas to prevent attacks on election day.
Fateful vote to decide Israel's futureIf he wins, Olmert vowed to shape state borders, unilaterally if necessary.
In Israel, an Unsettled Electorate
Complete Coverage of Elections
Haaretz Polling stations open, Knesset elections underway
AP Polls Open in Israel
FT Israel faces uncertainty as country prepares for poll As Israelis prepared to cast their votes in elections they were told could determine the future borders of the state, pollsters and much of the electorate were undecided about the make-up of the next government coalition.
Der Spiegel The Deputy Takes the ReinsEhud Olmert once challenged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but now he hopes to become the powerful politician's successor on Tuesday. By playing to the emotions of his countrymen and with a clear platform, the man seen by many as an eternal deputy looks likely to succeed. By Christoph Schult
Negotiating With Hamas: Religious Rapprochement in Israel
Israel's Security Fence: Dividing Lives
The New Republic Israel's saddest election by Yossi Klein Halevi
Israelis to vote for Sharon legacy Kadima heads for victory by pressing on with ailing founder's plan to put separation before peace
BBC Winners and losers Economic growth is strong, yet ever more Israelis live in poverty
KR Olmert hopes to become first Israeli leader to define permanent borders
Haaretz What are the elections about, anyhow? The voting public is wandering through the polls, wondering what is to be decided at the box.
Debka Voter Apathy Threatens Israel with Political Instability
Gulf News Can Olmert usher in peace?
He should also talk to the Palestinian leaders if he wins today's election
Haaretz Analysis: Minding the store with the big decisions on hold
Washington Times Israel's historic elections
Daily Star Ariel Sharon's unilateralism is likely to win the day By Augustus Richard Norton There is still room for a surprise or two in today's elections in Israel. Even so, while Ariel Sharon remains in the permanent grip of a coma, it is likely that the electorate will affirm his unilateral approach to resolving the Palestinian question.
Gains by Israeli right The moderates Kadmia party is expected to win Tuesday's vote, but the right is building support.
Haaretz If elected, Olmert likely to invite Labor and Shas to join coalition
Daily Telegraph Israel votes tactically An Isreali electorate that has for decades chosen governments that stand for the Left or Right is tomorrow expected to vote in Kadima, the centrist party founded by Ariel Sharon - the first politician who has capitalised on the drift of Israeli public opinion to the middle ground.
At Crossroads, Israeli Voters Seem to Wait for a Signal
Leader - A small step towards peace Ehud Olmert, leader of the centrist Kadima party set up by Ariel Sharon, has boldly defined today's Israeli general election as a referendum on the future of the occupied West Bank.
New worldview shapes Israeli parliament vote A a new centrist pragmatism is pushing the Kadima party to the head of the polls before Tuesday's election.
In the shadow of Sharon Although in a coma, the Israeli prime minister remains a dominant figure as the country prepares to vote, says Ian Black.
Israel's elections and the ruins of Oslo By Geoffrey Aronson
Long on Outskirts of Power, Olmert Looks to Lead Israel
Stupor in Our Time By ETGAR KERET If we want a non-event on Election Day in Israel, then we really must be exhausted
Washington Institute The Roadmap, the Fence, and the Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (Part I)
Satloff - Hobbling Hamas: Moving beyond the U.S. Policy of Three No's
There Is No Israel 'Lobby' - David Gergen, New York Daily News
Slate Overstating Jewish Power: Mearsheimer and Walt give too much credit to the Israeli lobby. Christopher Hitchens
Israel vs. Kurdistan KurdishMedia
Palestinian Leader to Accept Hamas Cabinet Aide Says Abbas Seeks 'Transformation' Of Rival Party's Stance Toward Israelis
BBC Hamas 'seeks dialogue with West' Haaretz Hamas ready to cooperate but not to concede
Hamas' nominee for prime minister, Ismail Haniya, says the militant group wants talks with Western powers.
Gulf News Hamas presents Cabinet on eve of Israeli vote
Palestinian militant group Hamas prepared to take office by presenting its Cabinet and government agenda to Parliament on Monday.
Hamas ready for international talks on peace Daily Star Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya said Monday his Hamas government was ready to talk to the international community to end the Middle East conflict but would not change its hard-line stance on Israel. Haniyya told MPs the Palestinians had the right to continue the independence "struggle" but stressed his desire.

Syria's ex-VP said to have planned defection since 2003
CRS "Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues"
Syria Arrests More Than 100 Kurds After New Year Clashes
Viewpoint: Syria: Real fears or crocodile tears? Middle East Times, Initially, Syria (like other Arab states) would have probably preferred a central but weakened Iraq with which it could do business
UPI Analysis: U.N. encouraged over Lebanon By WILLIAM M. REILLYA senior U.N. envoy promoting implementation of a Lebanon resolution, Terje Roed-Larsen, after wrapping up a series of meetings in Middle Eastern and world

Ahmadinejad: Iran-US dialogue on Iraq will be “conditional”
UPI U.S. limited in Iran war options: experts
Gulf News Iran holds the keys to stability in Iraq
The agreement between the United States and Iran to hold direct talks on Iraq is an important development at the regional and international levels.
Christian Science Monitor Iran Oil Cutoff Could Be Suicidal for the Mullahs - David Francis
Der Spiegel Nuclear Standoff: Germany Nuclear Parts Smuggled to Iran

CSIS Iraq's Evolving Insurgency and the Risk of Civil War -Anthony H. Cordesman
KR Shiite leaders in Iraq denounce U.S. Top Shiite political leaders condemned U.S. forces on Monday for raiding a suspected Shiite terrorist cell in what they said was a mosque and killing more than a dozen people, exposing the growing schism between the country's largest and most powerful sect and U.S. officials.
PBS Muqtada al-Sadr's Power Grows in Iraq
Report: US Asks for New Iraqi PM
BBC Political storm over Iraq deaths The US military faces growing political pressure in Iraq over a raid on a mosque complex that left 20 people dead.
U.S. Department of DefenseOperation Iraqi Freedom: Three Year Anniversary -- Progress Fact Sheet
Drying Out the Insurgency
By A. C. GRAYLING By separating the civilians from the fighters, American-led forces in Iraq can weaken the insurgency while sparing innocent lives.
No Sign of Progress in Iraq Government Talks
The Times Sectarian strife embroils US US troops were accused of killing up to 22 Iraqis after becoming embroiled in a fierce battle with a powerful Shia militia at a Baghdad mosque
Iraqi police are 'enemy' The British estimate that some 10 per cent of the police in Iraq are actively working against them and the first loyalty of the majority is to a Shia Muslim militia or to their tribe.
UPI Blair pledges to 'tough it out' in Iraq By HANNAH K. STRANGEPrime Minister Tony Blair pledged to "tough it out" in Iraq despite the current security difficulties, during a speech to the Australian parliament Monday.
Washington Post Fukuyama's Fantasy Francis Fukuyama has every right to change his mind about the war in Iraq, now that public opinion hast turned against it. "He has no right to change what I said." By Charles Krauthammer

Monday, March 27, 2006


'The Syrian opposition loses its unity' By Haytham Manaa An Nahar, The Syrian human rights activist and spokesperson for the Arab Committee for Human Rights criticizes the recent National Salvation Front manifesto issued in Brussels by former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam and the leader of the exiled Muslim Brotherhood. He says the Front failed to attract any of the symbols of the opposition or any of its active political and civil powers. "God and history will only tell that bridging the gap between the Brotherhood and the Syrian democrats was not an easy task." He concludes by noting that the problem is "the Syrian opposition is losing today a symbolic unity that it had managed to achieve after the Damascus Declaration, and after a quarter of a century of pain. I don’t know how much time we will need to mend the bridges that were destabilized by Brussels."Link to full text in primary source.
Syrian Vice President to Hold Iran Talks
Syria names first ever female vice president
Syria Comment
Is a Grand Alliance Forming against Asad?
Can Lebanon fight Syria?
What is the Government's Religion Policy?
Washington Institute Lebanese National Dialogue: Avoiding the Hard Questions?
UN: Force is not the way to disarm Hizbullah By Majdoline Hatoum, UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen conceded Sunday that the UN does not expect Lebanon to disarm Hizbullah by force, saying it would be "unrealistic," but added the UN's hope the resistance party would join the army as a way of ending the presence of all militias in Lebanon. "We don't believe that it is indeed possible to go down South.
Gulf News UN hopes Hezbollah will join Lebanese army
The United Nations said yesterday it did not expect Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah fighters by force but hoped they would join the Lebanese army.

Washington Institute Israeli Parliamentary Elections Resources
BBC Abbas 'moots secret peace talks' Abbas has proposed secret peace talks with Israel, a paper quotes him as saying.
Slate Promises, Promises: Is Olmert's pledge of West Bank disengagement a bold move or just politics as usual?
Shmuel Rosner
Yedioth Ahronoth Rice to Israel: Open crossings
Jerusalem Post Middle Israel: The politicians' challenge Next week's election will herald a post-heroic, post-utopian and post-territorial political era.
'Phantom of Hamas will cast shadow on [Arab] summit'
Daily Star Breakthrough time in Israel's elections? By Rami G. Khouri
JP Ramon gives PA one year before unilateral pullout Olmert says it's inappropriate to talk about pullout time frame ahead of Tuesday's election.
Analysis: A 'West Wing' lesson for Olmert? By DAVID HOROVITZ, The disadvantage in clarifying his position is the risk that the starker position is alienating voters.
Analysis: The long shadow of Ariel Sharon
Common Ground: A two-state solution for Middle East peace
WSJ The Israel Conspiracy If Israel damages U.S. interests, why do Americans support it? By BRET STEPHENS
Israeli election briefing: political parties
Daily Star Breakthrough time in Israel's elections? By Rami G. Khouri, By a fascinating coincidence, within the short time span between next Monday and Wednesday, three separate political events will take place that may well clarify the direction in which the Arab-Israeli conflict will move in the coming years. The Palestinian government headed by Hamas is expected to be approved by Parliament on Monday.
Think Again: A test for Israel Jerusalem Post, on the dunes of Gaza beach a form of the lost Israeli soul to which Israel itself is already foreign.
Gulf News One Sharon goes, another one comes
After this week's election, there may be a new political landscape for the Israelis, but for the Palestinians it promises to be more of the same.
FT Olmert urges Israelis to ‘go and vote’ Ehud Olmert, acting prime minister, urged Israelis to “go and vote” in Tuesday’s general election amid fears that a low turnout could cost him a solid mandate to lead the next coalition government.
Bury the dead 'road map' and enable a new process By Leonard Fein, Less than three years ago, the self-styled "Quartet" of the United States, the European Union, United Nations and Russia promulgated "A Performance-based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
'Phantom of Hamas will cast shadow on [Arab] summit'
Christian Science Monitor Israeli media split over report on US-Israel ties Some say Harvard report 'riddled with factual errors,' others call it important 'wake-up call.'
BBC Hamas cabinet in confidence vote
The new Hamas cabinet faces a confidence vote by the Palestinian parliament as Israel's election looms.
Hamas goes it alone
Who are Hamas?
Profile: Mahmoud Abbas
Abbas: Hamas needs 'to change policy' Daily Star, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas denied threatening to bring down Hamas' incoming government but insisted Sunday that the group must adopt more moderate stances to avoid a stalemate with his authority.
Abbas tells Hamas it must cooperate with Israel or fail Palestinian president warns new Hamas-led government that it has no future unless it agrees to deal with Israel.
Daily Star Abbas proposes 'back-channel' negotiations with Israel Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose peacemaking policies were rejected by Hamas after it won elections, said he proposed secret peace talks with Israel and believed a deal could still be reached within a year. However, interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Abbas a failed leader, casting doubt on prospects for negotiations with him.
Haaretz Abbas denies threatening Hamas but says it must moderate Hamas leader tells Israeli voters it wants to end deadlock, not seeking 'whirlpool of blood.'
Haniyeh: Hamas does not want a bloodbath
JP The Region: Hamas governs by Barry Rubin
Ha’aretz – Israeli Military Chief: Hamas Will Try to Restrain Terror to Boost Image
Washington Post Palestinian Leader to Accept Hamas Cabinet: Aide Says Abbas Seeks 'Transformation' Of Rival Party's Stance Toward Israelis
Turkey in Palestinian ploy Washington Times
Israel & The Ayatollahs - Amir Taheri, New York Post

Los Angeles Times Iran Could Make a Nuclear Bomb Within Three Years Iran, moving much faster than expected, is now just days from making the first steps toward enriching uranium, diplomatic sources say.
In Iran, Conservatives Warn Against Extremes
Politics have shifted so sharply to the right in the country that some fear the dangers of radicalism.
Iran's nuclear ambitions Harvard University Gazette
UPI Interview: The Iranian nuclear crisis

Independent Battle for Baghdad 'has already started' The battle between Sunni and Shia Muslims for control of Baghdad has already started, say Iraqi leaders
Daily Star The horrendous costs of an American failure in Iraq By Judith S. Yaphe
Washington Post Washington Post Russians Gave Iraq Information, Study Says Details on U.S. troop movements and attack plans were given to Saddam Hussein in the early days of the Iraq war, according to a U.S. military study.
Weekly Standard Rumors of Civil War Iraq can be saved from civil war--if the United States keeps its nerve. by Frederick W. Kagan & William Kristol
How to Stop a Civil War By Michael O'Hanlon
The Post and the Whole Picture in Iraq By Deborah Howell

Friday, March 24, 2006


Al-Ahram Brammertz reports The successor of Judge Mehlis notably tones down the politics of the Al-Hariri assassination, exonerating Syria for its cooperation with the UN investigation, writes Sami Moubayed
Syria Comment
Did the Anti-US demonstration Really turn Anti-Syrian? A Second Witness

Yedioth Ahronoth 'Palestinan state possible' In exclusive interview with Ynet Olmert says ‘Abbas failed in war on terror, Hamas rose to a very influential position as a result.' Adds that 'Palestinian state possible within permanent borders we will set following pullout
Washington Institute Palestinian Economic Dependence on Israel By Elizabeth Young Through its policies on trade, labor, and the tax revenue it collects, Israel has at least as much influence over the Palestinian economy and the Palestinian Authority’s budget as international aid donors.
Guardian After the rhapsody, the bitter legacy of Israel and the left Geoffrey Wheatcroft
The Economist Israel's new politics Shutting itself in, hoping for the best
Separating the West Bank from Gaza: An Israeli view By Amnon Lord
Al-Ahram Israel's superfluous election Ehud Olmert's greatest challenger in the Israeli elections is apathy, writes Graham Usher in Jerusalem
IHT Israeli Arabs and the vote URI DROMI In next week's Israeli election, Jewish and Arab voters who wish to live together in equality and mutual respect, should vote for parties who uphold these ideals and not those that advocate the opposite.
Schiff - A mistake under U.S. duress In the wake of a sweeping Hamas win, critics claim that allowing the militant party to participate in the elections was a mistake, but also point a finger at the role America played, or lack thereof.
Al-Ahram Left out and hurt Abbas and the PLO executive committee reject Hamas' programme for government, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah

Knight-Ridder Iran closer to producing nuclear weapons fuel, U.S. officials worry
Daily Star Turkey's emerging fear: Iranian influence By Iason Athanasiadis
US asks Ankara for stronger stance on Iran
RFE/RL Iraq Mixed Reactions To Possible U.S.-Iran Talks
Iran's Icon The voice of a democratic revolution.
Financial Times COMMENT: Good vs evil does not work as foreign policy By Madeleine Albright - The Bush administration’s newly unveiled national security strategy might well be subtitled “The Irony of Iran”
Envoy Accuses Iran of Duplicity on Iraq
U.S. official says Tehran professes support for Iraq's political process even as it aids insurgents.

Los Angeles Times As U.S. Grows Iraq Bases, Some Fear a Long Haul Lawmakers demand the Pentagon explain its base plans and have passed a law blocking funds for deals with the Iraqi government.
Iraq is now an American colony
Washington Post Of Course It's a Civil War By Charles Krauthammer The whole debate about Iraqi civil war is surreal. What is the insurgency if not a civil war supported by one part of Iraqi society fighting the new Iraqi state supported by another part of Iraqi society?
Signs of Change
As it becomes more evident that the country is simply tuning out President Bush's shopworn talking points on Iraq, there are increasing signs that the White House is considering a change in approach -- in the form of new blood and a new script.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Daily Star Syria's about-face on Khaddam has the air of political expediency For the ruling regime in Damascus, the line between friend and foe seems to be drawn in shifting sands. On Wednesday, former Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam, who was one of the longest-serving and most trusted officials in the ruling Baath Party, was summoned along with 24 of his family members to appear in court. Earlier press reports have said that Khaddam will be tried on charges of high treason.
SYRIA: Domestic opposition gaining strength, but still facing ... IRIN news, Bayanouni’s signature brought Syria's secular Arab nationalist opposition together with the two forces – Kurds and Islamists – seen as the main opponents
Syria summons Khaddam By Agence France Presse
Syria has summoned former Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam, branded a traitor by Damascus and currently living in exile in France, to appear in court. Khaddam and 24 other family members including his wife Najat Marqabi and their three sons and daughter were called to appear in court in his hometown.
MERIA Putin's Foreign Policy toward Syria by Mark N. Katz
From dialogue to epilogue in Beirut By Michael Young
By now it must be increasingly apparent what the balance sheet is for Lebanon's national dialogue. It must also be plain that the dialogue has only been "national" in the sense that those sitting around the table are Lebanese.
Where Even Grisly News Can Offer a Kind of Comfort New York Times, Last April, shortly before Syria withdrew its soldiers from Lebanon under international pressure, the women pitched a tent in Jibran Khalil Jibran Park near
Lebanon's leaders resume national dialogue

Washington Institute The Shape of Israel’s Election Race
CFR Elections (3/22): Israeli politics expert David Makovsky tells's Bernard Gwertzman next week's vote will likely bring a coalition goverment to power led by the centrist Kadima Party.
Israel Goes to the Polls The leaders of Israel’s Likud and Labor parties would have served their interests better by campaigning as potentially influential coalition partners in a Kadima-led government than by running to win on their own
BBC Stealing the show Israel's new Kadima party is topping the political box office
Israel May Be Next al-Qaida Battleground...
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS: A stricken leader sets the tone in Israel's 'post-modern poll' Israelis vote next week in what has been dubbed their first post-modern election. The heated left-right divisions that defined Israel’s politics for its first 50 years have given way to a pragmatic if muscular centrism that leaves the main parties battling for the middle ground
Sharon's heir plays invisibilty card On the brink of becoming Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert has adopted the strategy of disappearing from the election campaign.
P.L.O. Rejects Proposed Platform of Hamas, Now Set to Take Power
PLO-Hamas differences surface
Hamas calls on MPs to approve Cabinet, despite PLO objections Compiled by Daily Star
Hamas said on Wednesday the Parliament would meet on Saturday to vote on its new Cabinet despite the Palestine Liberation Organization's rejection of its governing agenda. Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert kept up the pressure on Hamas, saying Israel is in a rush to separate from the Palestinians and will take unilateral steps.
Israel's Election Shows Kadima's 'Unilateral' Appeal Washington Post, Americans may be surprised to learn that Peretz, a trade union leader, has been running on a platform that says poverty is a problem in Israel. Is it?
Olmert: Israel won't wait years for Hamas Boston Globe, Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks during a Kadima party meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem Wednesday
Prospect Instead of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, both sides just want to contain it.

Washington Post A Trap and an Opportunity in Iran How Best to Manage The Talks With Iran By Jim Hoagland Ask administration hard-liners about Iran's sudden acceptance of the U.S. offer to talk about stability in Iraq and you hear this reaction: It's a booby trap. They're right. It's also an opportunity.
The Times Leaked Letter in Full: UK Diplomat Outlines Iran Strategy
Iran: Reading Between the Lines of Khamenei's Blessing Stratfor
Russia's Iran Policy: Global and Regional Objectives, Political and Economic Interests German Institute for International and Security Affairs
American Conservative Iran: Mission Improbable by Scott McConnell
Daily Star Iraq should be used to widen American-Iranian talks By David Ignatius, "Great Satan seeks Axis-ette of Evil. Object: Short-term companionship, relief of stress, 'exit strategy.' If first date works out, a longer-term relationship may be possible. GS is a muscular guy, regular churchgoer, tough talker but sentimental weakness for democracy, who needs a partner with a yen for cleaning up the neighborhood.
MERIA Patterns of Discontent: Will History Repeat In Iran? by Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin

UPI Commentary: Strategic Conundrum By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE Chased out of one Iraqi town after another, the insurgents would wait for U.S. and Iraqi troops to depart and then slowly infiltrate back.
Los Angeles Times Depends on what you mean by "civil war"
By Max Boot Iraq's bad now, but it'll get much worse if the U.S. draws too soon.
Iraq's only way out By Shlomo Avineri
Der Spiegel INTERVIEW WITH EX- NEOCON FRANCIS FUKUYAMA"A Model Democracy Is not Emerging in Iraq"
BBC Bush calls for Iraqi government US President Bush urges Iraqi leaders to form a government of national unity, to end months of uncertainty.
Iraq's Oil Crisis - Robert Novak
RFE/RL Iraq Sectarian Violence Highlights Power Of Militias Some Iraqi leaders are saying the biggest security threat now is not the insurgency but the possibility of civil war, which is focusing new attention on the many sectarian-based militias in Iraq, some of which appear to be waging revenge attacks on rival groups
Ex-Iraqi Official Unveiled as Spy
Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's last foreign minister, Naji Sabri, was a paid spy for French intelligence, which later turned him over to the CIA to supply information about Iraq and its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs more than six months before the war began in March 2003
News Between the Lines By Dan Froomkin
Why Iraq Is Still Worth the Effort By Fareed Zakaria

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Final Communiqué of the Syrian Kurdish meeting on Democracy and Freedom in Syria

Gaza rations food as Israel cuts supplies · Bakeries close and shelves empty as supplies dwindle · Israel denies border action revenge for Hamas victory
Drezner A follow-up on the Israel Lobby
Stratfor The Israeli Model for Cutting Suicide Attacks
Study alleges US sets aside own security interest for Israel'sPaper by two leading academics on US-Israel ties ignites controversy

Washington Post Getting Started With Iran By David IgnatiusTalks between the U.S. and Iran are a small step towards a stable Middle East, but big political developments often begin with little steps
BBC Iran leader backs talks on Iraq Iran's supreme leader endorses talks with the US on Iraq but rejects UN action over its nuclear programme.US warns over Iran talks tactic Row moves to next stage Q&A: Iran nuclear stand-off
UPI Analysis: Behind the Iran nuke talks delayIran Leader OKs Talks With US on IraqSecurity Council Postpones Iran Meeting

How Did Iraq Go Wrong? - Michael Young
WSJ What if We Lose? The consequences of U.S. defeat in Iraq.
Why Iraq Is Still Worth the Effort By Fareed Zakaria, For all my misgivings about the way the administration has handled Iraq, I am not convinced that Iraq is a hopeless cause that should be abandoned

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Gulf News What the future holds for Syria
The support of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Syria has reasoned, is more important to the regime's stability than that of the EU, especially with France and Great Britain siding with the US.
Syria Comment
Authorities Forbid Syrians from Meeting US Officials or US-Based Opposition
Internal Syrian opposition claims no ties to exile group By Agence France Presse (AFP) The opposition coalition inside Syria, the National Democratic Rally (NDR), said Monday it had no ties to a new grouping set up in exile to oppose the Damascus regime. "We have no relations with the meeting in Brussels" that last week set up a National Salvation Front aimed at regime change in Damascus through peaceful means.
Reuters ANALYSIS-Syria confident of surviving US pressure Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has consolidated his grip on security forces and delayed political reforms in anticipation of ...
MEMRI Mar 21 SD# 1119 - Former Syrian Soldier's Letter of Apology to the Lebanese People

Washington Institute Target Aid to Help Hamas Fail By Michael HerzogTestimony before the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia
Participation in politics and government is unlikely to moderate Hamas, whether on its opposition to Israel’s existence or on its embrace of terrorism, so the international community should focus on ensuring the failure of Hamas’s rule.
The Daily Star Hamas has a government, so now what? By Daoud Kuttab Having just formed a Palestinian government, Hamas seems to be clutching to the Biblical verses in Ecclesiastes rather than the desires of the "Quartet" (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations) charged with trying to bridge the Israeli-Palestinian divide. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose.
The Daily Star Will the new Palestinian government repeat the sins of its predecessor? After four weeks of negotiations, Hamas announced that it had failed to convince other Palestinian parties to join in a national unity government and that the new Cabinet would therefore only include Hamas members and a handful of independents and technocrats. Hamas blamed the United States for the fact that no other parties joined its coalition. The group's exiled leader, Khaled Meshaal, said.
Der Spiegel Hamas Cabinet Spells Trouble for PalestiniansPrime Minister designate Ismail Haniyeh has submitted his 24-member proposed cabinet. Dominated by the radical group Hamas, it's not a government likely to increase stability in the Middle East. Plus, a look at what went wrong in Iraq, three years after the start of the war.
"No One Is Immune": Israel Threatens Hamas Leader
Negotiating With Hamas: Religious Rapprochement in Israel

UPI Hamas faces hurdles in forming cabinet By JOSHUA BRILLIANT, The radical Islamic Hamas is facing difficult hurdles in its attempts to form a functioning government. Sunday it tacitly acknowledged failure.
EU delivers aid check with warning to HamasCompiled by Daily Star Staff Hamas was given a stark reminder of the challenges awaiting it in power Monday as the European Union stood by threats to cut aid and gunmen attacked government ministries.A day after presenting a Cabinet list, notable by its absence of other parties, Hamas accused the United States of putting pressure on rival groups to shun the new government.
Gulf News Mature Hamas makes first move
The Islamic movement creates history by announcing a cabinet within deadline
Israel's Crucial Election - Marvin Olasky, World Magazine
Washington Post Hamas Is Alone In Cabinet Plan: Other Factions Balk at Joining Government
FT Divided EU tells Hamas it can still avoid isolationThe European Union told Hamas it still had time to avoid economic isolation and political collapse for the Palestinian Authority.
FT Hamas fails in attempt to form unity governmentHamas, the Islamist movement that won control of the Palestinian parliament in elections in January, has abandoned attempts to form a national unity government.
Gulf News Hamas leader accuses US of putting pressure on rivals
Hamas accused the United States yesterday of putting pressure on rival Palestinian groups to shun a Hamas-led government, leaving the Islamist group to govern alone.

FT UN ‘six’ tweak strategy on IranSenior foreign affairs officials from the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany met in New York to chart a clearer long-term strategy for dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions this week.
Washington Post Iranians See Talks With U.S. as Historic: Desire for Improving Ties Grew With Population Too Young to Recall Hostage Crisis
FT Iranians prepare for nervous new yearIranians celebrate the first day of their New Year with rituals of regeneration and renewal marking Noruz, the onset of spring.

FT Bush acknowledges ‘horrific images’ in Iraq
President George W. Bush acknowledged the “horrific images” coming out of Iraq as the third anniversary of US invasion passed, but vowed that the US would “not abandon Iraq”.
For Iraqis, Freedom Comes at Great Cost
Fakhri Fikry Kareem, is part of a new information era as an editor at one of more than 100 newspapers launched in Iraq since Hussein's fall.
Washington Post An Iraq Success Story's Sad New Chapter
CLEVELAND, March 20 -- As President Bush tells the tale, the battle for Tall Afar offers a case study in how U.S. and Iraqi forces working together can root out insurgents and restore stability. "The example of Tall Afar," he told an audience here Monday, "gives me confidence in our strategy."
BBC US military probes Iraq killings
The United States military investigates allegations that its marines killed 15 Iraqi civilians last November.
Attack on Iraq police 'kills 18'
Three years on: Iraqis speak
Bush focuses on improvements
Iraq in civil war, says former PM
FT Prospect of anarchy on the rise in strife-torn IraqA year after the US invasion of Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy at the time, told Iraqis that civil wars were not started by a ‘decision’.
UPI U.K.'s Reid: 'No civil war in Iraq' By HANNAH K. STRANGE, Iraq is not in a state of civil war, nor is such a situation inevitable, British Defense Secretary John Reid insisted Monday.
Gulf News Civil war fears hit Iraq
A major Shiite religious ritual unfolded amid heavy security in the sacred city of Karbala as the spectre of a sectarian civil war stalked Iraq on the third anniversary of the US-led invasion.
Jerusalem Post The Region: Iraq's one-sided civil war
Zakaria: Iraq is Not Yet a Hopeless CauseYou see lots of rough politics and jockeying for power in Baghdad. But when facing the abyss, you also see glimpses of leadership
War Is Peace By Dan FroomkinThe Pundit War, Three Years Later By Howard Kurtz
Ignorance Pervasive in Reporting From Iraq - Jack Kelly, RealClearPolitics
Iraq Is No "Distraction" From al Qaeda - Christopher Hitchens, Wall St Jrnl
My Vision For Iraq - Ibrahim al-Jafari, Washington Post
The True Tragedy of the Iraq Invasion - Tim Hames, Times of LondonIraq: The Reckoning - John Simpson, New StatesmanThe Case For the War - Rep. Christopher Shays, NY Daily NewsIraq's Last Chance to Pull Back From Brink - Financial Times

Monday, March 20, 2006


Daily Star Was Syria right to hail Hamas' victory? By Ibrahim Hamidi
Daily Star Syrians have not been told how their aspiring rulers intend to govern
Syrian opposition leaders unite
U.S. General Praises Syria for Border Tightening
Syria Comment
Damascus Declaration Leaders Confused by MB - Khaddam Front
Anti-US Demonstration Turns Anti-Regime
Ghadry's RPS Critical of New Opposition Front
Asad Interview on Sky News: Iraq, Reform, Security

Der Spiegel NEGOTIATING WITH HAMAS Religious Rapprochement in Israel Officially, Israel and the West have rule out talks with the Islamic extremist organization Hamas. However, dialogue is quietly being sought with the new Palestinian leadership.
Ha’aretz – Avoiding ambiguity on the 'right to exist' Verbal preconditions can ensure that groups seeking to come in from the cold are kept outside. Hamas has indicated its willingness to speak to Israel. Israel must not turn it down.
FT A wall that enlarges Israel and embitters its victims By Sharmila Devi
Hamas to Propose Palestinian Cabinet That Excludes Other Parties
BBC Fatah stays out of Hamas cabinet The Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas refuses to join a Hamas-led government.
Jimmy Carter: colonisation of Palestine blocks peace Former US president says Israel's expanding Jewish settlements are greatest obstacle to resolving conflict
Politics & Policies: Time to end the Arab boycott of Israel
Left to Rot in Gaza Strip's Economy Suffers as Trade Passage to Israel Remains Sealed -The main trade passage between the Gaza Strip and Israel has been closed for much of the year despite an agreement in November that required Israel to "ensure the continued opportunity to export."
Hamas Is Alone In Cabinet Plan
Other Factions Balk at Joining Government
It's not too late for lasting peace in the Middle East Israel should withdraw from the occupied territories, and its right to exist must be recognised by all Arabs, writes Jimmy Carter.
Ha’aretz - Only as a last resort The Palestinians elected the parliament and government that Hamas will apparently rule, and it is with these elected bodies that Israel must hope to reach an agreement. Israel must go back and present its preconditions, but it cannot choose the partner for dialogue.
Peres: Withdrawal talks Israel will negotiate a planned withdrawal of settlers from the West Bank with the Palestinians after the election in 10 days time, Shimon Peres, the country's former leader has said.
Hamas Completes Lineup for Palestinian Ministries
News Analysis: A New Landscape: Hamas Digs In
Hamas presents new cabinet Prime minister-designate Haniyeh presents government roster to Abbas, who is expected to approve list despite his opposition to Hamas’ basic principles. Government to include 24 ministers, among them a Christian, woman
UPI Analysis: In trying to form coalition, Hamas finds itself alone Hamas' refusal to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people is the main obstacle preventing Fatah and other PLO faction members from joining the new government.
Key Hamas cabinet posts go to hard-liners Moderate politicians have refused to join the group's new government, leaving militant players in charge.

Financial Times Oil groups shun Iran over fears of embargo International oil companies are putting multibillion-dollar projects in Iran on hold, concerned about the diplomatic standoff over the country’s nuclear programme.
Editorial Why Iran Wants to Talk
IIE US v. Iran [pdf] Sanctions Case Study
Asia Times Irreversible Iranians The US strategy of trying to separate the Iranian people from the regime seems doomed to failure. Nationalist fervor regarding Tehran's nuclear rights is at a peak - and cannily manipulated by the government. What the rest of the world thinks, too bad. - Pepe Escobar
NYT America's Iran Policy: Iraq By THOMAS L. Friedman. - If US forces leave Iraq, the nation will not fall into Iran's orbit. A US exit from Iraq would be Iran's worst nightmare, as it would re-open the ancient Arab-Persian rivalry that has traditionally dominated the region. Furthermore, US success in Iraq would harm Iran further, as a democratic state with an empowered Shi'ite population would create unrest in the undemocratic Shi'ite Iran.
Ephraim Inbar MERIA The Need to Block a Nuclear Iran --- Adobe
Patterns of Discontent: Will History Repeat In Iran? Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin Adobe
New York Times Suppose We Just Let Iran Have the Bomb By DAVID E. SANGER Some experts in the United States have been thinking the undiscussable: If all other options are worse, could the world learn to live with a nuclear Iran?
Christian Science Monitor Realism pushes US and Iran a bit closer Mutual interest in Iraq's future will bring the two together for first time since 2003 – but to what end?
Daily Star U.S.-Iran talks a welcome first step in preventing Mideast sectarian inferno
WFB: Hit Iran?
Yedioth Ahronoth Proposals on Iran rejected Russia's U.N. ambassador says fast action could lead to bombing of Iran by June
Asia Times America's options for Iran Military strikes would be a godsend for the regime in Iran and economic sanctions would not be enough to topple it. Other options for the US and its allies are either to support the development of Iran's civilian nuclear program or sit back and do nothing. The alternatives might unleash a vortex of anarchy stretching from Islamabad to Damascus. - Scott Bohlinger
US strategy builds on 'successes'Amid chaos in US-occupied Iraq and the warlike rhetoric against Iran, the Bush administration has issued its latest National Security Strategy, vowing that the US will continue to "seek to shape the world, not merely be shaped by it; to influence events for the better instead of being at their mercy".
MEMRI Mar 17 SD# 1117 - Iranian Ayatollah: We Can Negotiate Openly, and Maintain Relations, With America
BBC US warns over Iran talks tactic Washington says an offer by Iran to discuss Iraq could be a "device" to divert attention from its nuclear plans.
US and Iran ready for Iraq talks
Rand Defusing the Iranian Crisis, By F. Stephen Larrabee
America's Iran Crucible: Beyond Yapping Dogs and Superpowers Made of Straw

Iraq: Appalling--But Not Hopeless - Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek
Boston Review- The Roots of Iraq's Sectarian Violence By Nir Rosen
Financial Times Editorial Iraq's last chance to pull back from brink It seems long ago but it has only been three years.
Washington Post Iraq Needed a Benign Dictator KANAN MAKIYA
What We've Gained In 3 Years in Iraq By Donald H. Rumsfeld
Iraq's Insurgents: Who's Who By Jonathan Finer, Long considered a fragmentary and disorganized collection of groups with varying tactics and aims, Iraq's insurgency is showing signs of increasing coordination, consolidation and confidence
Sunday Telegraph Divided, Iraq might just have a chance It is three years since Saddam was toppled, and civil war now seems inevitable. Gareth Stansfield argues it is time to consider partition.
The State of Iraq: An Update
Washington Post At Odds Over Iraq Concern About Tehran's Role in Country Reopens Channels - Statements issued by the U.S. and Iran reflect their disagreement about talks aimed at stabilizing Iraq
Iraqi troop control 'to spread' Iraqi security forces will soon control as much as 75% of the country, a senior US general says.
Washington Times U.N. to raise its profile in Iraq The senior U.N. official in Iraq yesterday said that the United Nations will soon be raising its profile there, acknowledging that its "perceived absence" has been noticeable since a tragic suicide bombing after the U.S. invasion three years ago.
WSJ Rethinking 3 Years of Upheaval The third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq will set off much rehashing and rethinking, but it's at least possible to make the case that the region looks much worse right now than it really is.
Guardian Leader Reason for hopeMilitarily overstretched in Iraq, floundering in the polls at home, the Bush administration now has a better, if far from perfect, understanding of limits
Democracy Arsenal Understanding the Civil War in Iraq
Christian Science Monitor Rice: Iraq transition to stable government two years away
Secretary of State's comments come as US sends in 800 more troops.
PBS Newshour Iraq War Increasingly Seen as Partisan Issue David Brooks and Tom Oliphant consider the administration's handling of its Iraq war plan as well as the American public's growing concern that Iraq is heading for potential civil war.

Friday, March 17, 2006

ABD’nin Orta Doğu’da Yeni Kartı: Suriyeli Kürtler

Birkaç yıl öncesine kadar, Suriyeli Kürtler çok fazla gündeme gelmiyordu. Bu durum değişmeye başladı. Bunun arkasında iki temel neden yatıyor. Birincisi Suriye’nin Irak Savaşı sonrasında önemli bir güç kaybına uğramış olması ve Şam yönetiminin yoğun bir uluslararası baskı altında olması. İkincisi ise, yine Irak Savaşı’yla beraber, Kuzey Irak’ta Kürtlerin elde ettiği kazanımlar. Bu ortam; Suriyeli Kürtler konusunda bir hareketlenmeyi, etkin olmayan hareketin Suriye rejimini tehdit eder hâle gelmesine ve Suriye’deki Kürt hareketinin niteliğinin ve hedefinin değişmesine neden oldu.

Irak Savaşı’ndan sonra iki önemli olay yaşandı. Bunlardan ilki, 2004 yılının Mart ayı içinde, Kamışlı’da bir futbol maçı sonrasında Araplarla Kürtler arasında başlayan çatışmaların, tüm Suriye’ye yayılmasıydı. Bu olay Kürtlerle Suriye yönetimi arasındaki ilişkilerde yeni bir dönem başlattı. İkincisi, Haziran 2005’te Kürt dinî lider Maşuk Haznav’ın Suriye güvenlik güçlerinin gözetimi altındayken ölmesi sonucunda, binlerce Kürdün sokağa dökülmesiydi. Bu iki olay, Suriyeli Kürtlerin ne kadar seferberliğe yatkın ve olası bir yönetim boşluğu durumunda nasıl bir istikrarsızlık unsuru olabileceklerini gösterdi. Tüm bu gelişmeler Batı’da “Suriyeli Kürtlerin uyanışı” olarak yorumlandı.

Suriye Kürt hareketinin niteliğinin ve hedefinin değişmesi konusundaki en önemli gösterge ise, Mart 2006 ayı içinde Washington’da düzenlenen “Suriye’de Demokrasi ve Kürt Hakları” başlıklı Konferans oldu. Toplantıda kullanılan haritada, “Büyük Kürdistan”ın Türkiye’nin birçok bölümünü kapsaması nedeniyle Türk basınında geniş yer bulan Konferans, hem düzenlendiği yer hem de düzenleyenlerin niteliği açısından önemliydi. Konferansın Washington’da düzenlenmesi ABD’nin Suriye’deki etnik soruna daha sıcak bakmaya başlaması açısından bir gösterge sayılabilir. Konferansı düzenleyenler ise diğer iki Kürt kuruluşla beraber “Kuzey Amerika Kürt Ulusal Kongresi” isimli örgüttür. Örgüt kendi ifadesiyle nihaî amacını, bağımsız bir “Kürdistan” devletinin kurulması olarak açıklıyor. Birleşik bir Kürt devleti yolunda dört ayrı ülkede yaşayan Kürtlerin kendi ülkeleri içinde federalizm kazanmalarının gerekliliği vurgulanıyor. Kuruluşun Suriyeli Kürtlere yönelik Konferans düzenlenmesi de bu amaç doğrultusundaydı. Suriye’nin önde gelen dört Kürt partisinden temsilcilerin konferansa katılımı, bundan önceki döneme kadar sorunlarının Irak'taki Kürtlerin sorunundan farklı olduğunu söyleyen Suriyeli Kürtlerin nihai hedefleri ve hareketin niteliğinin değiştiği konusunda önemli bir gösterge olarak yorumlanıyor. Konferans Iraklı Kürtlerin Suriyeli Kürtlere bakışında da bir değişim olduğunu gösteriyor. Bundan önceki dönemlerde, KDP ve KYB (ne de PKK), Suriye ile iyi ilişkileri bozmamak için, Suriyeli Kürtleri hiçbir zaman desteklememişti. Konferansa Talabani’nin oğlunun katılması Kuzey Iraklı Kürtlerin artık bu konuya daha farklı yaklaştığını gösteriyor.

Suriye Kürtlerinin “uyanışı”, rejimi özellikle Kamışlı olaylarından sonra harekete geçirdi. Kürtlerin durumu konusunda belli reformların gerekliliği kabul ediliyor. Bu anlamda da bazı önemli adımlar atıldı. Ama öncelikle ülkenin resmi ideolojisi olan Pan-Arabizm düşüncesinde bir anlayış değişiminin ortaya konması gerekiyor. Suriye’nin Kürtlere bakışı, Pan-Arabizm düşüncesinin önemli unsurlarından olan “Kürtlerin Arap ulusuna oluşturduğu tehdit” kapsamında şekilleniyor. Bu bakıştan hareketle rejim Kürtlere yönelik önemli sınırlamalar getirdi. Siyasal katılımdan mahrum, ekonomik yaşam seviyeleri düşük ve kültürel sınırlamalar altında bir topluluk söz konusu. 1962 yılında yapılan nüfus sayımı sonrasında, Baas Partisi’nin o dönemdeki politikaları sonucunda 120.000 dolayındaki Suriyeli Kürdün vatandaşlıkları ellerinden alındı. Çoğu, “yabancı” ya da “kayıtsız” olarak isimlendirildi. Şu anda 1.5 milyon civarındaki Suriyeli Kürdün 25.000’i “kayıtsız”, 225.000’e yakını ise “yabancı” statüsünde yaşamlarını sürdürüyor. Ancak hem dış baskı hem de iç taleplerin yoğunlaşmasıyla rejim de son aylarda bu konuda adımlar atmaya başladı. Öncelikle Beşar Esad, ilk kez bir Kürt bölgesini ziyaret eden Devlet Başkanı olarak “Kürt halkının Suriye’nin bir parçası olduğunu” ifade etti. 10. Baas Kongresinde Kürtlere yönelik bazı açılımların sözü verildi. En önemli gelişme ise yönetimin “yabancı” ve “kayıtsız” Kürtlere vatandaşlık verileceği yönündeki açıklamaları oldu.

ABD özellikle Irak Savaşı sonrasında her ne kadar Suriye üzerindeki baskıyı yoğunlaştırdıysa da, Kürtler konusunu hiç gündeme getirmemişti. Lübnan, Hariri suikastı, Irak sınırından gerçekleşen sızmalar, teröre destek gibi konular her zaman ön plandaydı ve baskı araçları olarak kullanılıyordu. Bundan sonraki dönemde, etnik meseleler de Suriye’yi tedirgin etmek açısından önemli bir araç olarak kullanılabilir. Ama yine de, ABD’nin Suriyeli Kürtlerin özerklik ya da bağımsızlık taleplerine destek vermesi gibi bir durumunun gerçekleşmesi zor görünüyor. Suriye’yi daha çok köşeye sıkıştırma, tavizler alma, anlamında bu konu üzerinden kazanımlar sağlamak amaçlanıyor olabilir. Şu dönemde ABD’nin bu konu üzerine çok fazla gitmesi, kendi adına da sorun çıkarabilir. ABD’nin Irak’taki durumu düşünüldüğünde, kesinlikle daha fazla istikrarsızlık işine gelmeyecektir. İran’la bu kadar sorun yaşadığı sırada Suriye’yi de devreye sokmak istemeyecektir. Suriyeli Kürtleri ciddi olarak desteklemesi Türkiye ile ilişkilerini de sıkıntıya sokacaktır. Bu nedenlerden ötürü konferansı ABD’nin Kürtleri yoğun bir biçimde destekleyeceğinin işareti olmaktan çok Suriye’yi yola getirmek açısından yeni bir koz öne sürme girişimi olarak değerlendirmek gerekiyor. Bu kozu oynayabilmek açısından Suriye’de uygun koşulların oluşmaya başladığı görülüyor. Suriyeli Kürtler arasında milliyetçiliğin arttığını söylemek mümkün. Suriye yönetiminin zayıflaması, uluslararası baskının yoğunlaşması ve Iraklı Kürtlerin özerklik konusunda ilerlemeler sağlamasının Suriye’de Kürt hareketi üzerinde önemli etkiler yaratması bekleniyor. Önümüzdeki dönemde Kürtler Suriye’nin istikrarı açısından en önemli konu hâline gelebilir.