Friday, October 31, 2008


Eli Lake Why Did the U.S. Attack Syria?
America's Military Attack in Syria: Possible Reasons and Likely Costs by Daniel Levy
Jonathan Karl / ABCNEWS:Exclusive: Petraeus Wants to Go to Syria; Bush Administration Says No
Cross-Border Attack on Syria Raises Iranian Eyebrows - Council on Foreign Relations
Why Syria? Why now? Speculation is intense over the United States' cross-border strike into Syria. Was it a hawkish attempt to provoke war? A political stunt ahead of the US elections? If so, both tacks seem to have failed. A more likely answer is a "messy" US chain of command in Iraq, and gung-ho special operations forces
IHT In Syria, a short-sighted attack The next president will have to restore a diplomacy that balances the interests of Syria and its neighboring nations.
MESH U.S. strikes Al Qaeda in Syria.
America and Syria: a political raid, Paul Rogers
Syria and Bush's Last Gasp Abroad - Michael Jansen, Jordan Times
Syria A puzzling raid
TIME Reaction to the US Raid into Syria: Only Muted Outrage
Will Syria Dump Its Friends? - David Blair, The Telegraph
Getting Syrious - National Review
Official: Olmert intends to resume indirect talks with Syria Danish FM: Assad willing to conduct direct negotiations if Israel accepts Syrian preconditions
Report: Syria cuts diplomatic ties with Iraq over U.S. raid Syria has also decided to reduce its troops on the border with Iraq, Syrian TV reports
Syrian Leader Makes Strategic Decision to Turn the Other Cheek
Syrian haven for killers, then and now US response to Syria's shelter policy - of Nazis or Qaida - is ambivalent.
Jerusalem Post Analysis: US raid shows Assad's over-estimation
A Syrian haven for killers, then and now RAFAEL MEDOFF
The strike that shattered US-Syria ties A commando raid by United States forces on a Syrian border compound near Iraq has ruptured already rocky relations between Washington and Damascus. The US now claims the strike was a pre-emptive success which led to the death of a top al-Qaeda agent, while Syria is outwardly appalled at the "cowboy" tactics and so-called "massacre". - Sami Moubayed
US embassy in Syria warns of closure The already strained relations between Washington and Damascus worsen after a US military attack that killed a man who was allegedly sending foreign fighters into Iraq
Army: Syria to Deploy More Troops at Lebanese Border
World Briefing Middle East: Syria: Prominent Dissidents Sentenced
Damascus comes down on dissidentsTwelve Syrian dissidents were on Wednesday sentenced to two-and-a-half years each for activities related to the promotion of democracy. The convictions come as Syria's international image has improved in recent months, but at a time when Damascus' relations with the United States are at an all-time low. - Stephen Starr

Lebanon's Enemy Within - Michael Totten, Commentary
The IDF's New Response Policy vis-avis Hizbollah: How Viable is It? INSS An Israeli commentary on the IDF\'s newly-announced policy towards Hizbolla

Israel's Current Strategic Environment - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Elections in Israel Tzipi or Bibi?
Power of weakness [ LOUIS RENÉ BERES In all world politics - but especially in the Middle East - appearances can deceive. Although power is powerful and weakness is weak, power can weaken itself. Sometimes, weakness can even become a source of power. Nowhere is this paradox more apparent than in Israel's endlessly self-deceiving relationship with the Palestinians.
Israel's multilateral option Chris Phillips
Poll: Right-wing gains give Netanyahu best chance to form next gov't
Poll: Absentee voters in Israel back McCain over Obama by 3-1
Ironies of Israeli-Palestinian relations

International Crisis Group Oil for Soil: Toward a Grand Bargain on Iraq and the Kurds
Washington Institute Kirkuk: The Land the Surge Forgot
Stratfor Iraq, US: The Latest on the Status of Forces Agreement
Senior Iraqi Leader Says Pact With U.S. Is Unlikely to Pass Politicians' Fears of Voter Backlash Cited
Iraqis Insist on Changes to Long-Delayed Security Pact With U.S.
Iraq Says U.S. Deal Would Ban Strikes on Neighbors
Bush confident US-Iraq pact will pass
Iraq seeks ban on US attacks
US Hands Over Last of Southern Provinces to Iraqis (Update1)
Iraq Oil Report must read: Q&A with Iraq oil revenue auditor Joe ...
UN proposal on Iraq minorities representation approved in Parliament

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Sleepless in Tehran Negotiating in the Middle East without leverage is like playing baseball without a bat
ComingAnarchy Iran Policy Options Part III [Part I Part II]
Iran: Empire by Proxy - Kevin Sullivan

Middle East Challenges for Next President
Conference on Arab-US Relations & Presidential Transition

Thursday, October 23, 2008


SETA - Turkish-Syrian Relations: The Erdoğan Legacy Sami MOUBAYED
Yedioth Ahronoth 'Assad is the next Sadat' At Foreign Ministry conference on policy in 2009, signs of change in 'the very fundamentals' of how diplomatic brass sees Syrian president. Citing stagnated talks with PA, officials say Damascus deal may precede Ramallah one
Russia Shields Syria - Ariel Cohen
The Real World: The Russian Navy Back in the Med By: Ariel Cohen The Middle East TimesThe Russian Federation is redeploying a part of the Black Sea Fleet to its Cold War hunting grounds in the Mediterranean. Returning to bases and anchorages in Syria and Libya is a top priority for the Russian admirals.
Saudis Uneasy Over Rehabilitation of Syria's Assad
Syrian envoy: Onus for peace on Israel Ambassador to US calls Hizbullah "a very close ally" of Syria; claims Israel "demonizes" his country
Turkey: Syria-Israel talks should resume
Rafsanjani says Israel lacks ‘goodwill’ in talks with Syria
Talabani: Iraq needs better Syrian ties
Syrian Opposition Leader Flees Lebanon
Syrian, Romanian Presidents Steps to Consolidate Ties

NYT Lebanon’s Bloody Sunday By RANDY GADDO Had we stood our ground 25 years ago instead of pulling out after the bombing in Beirut, it is possible that 9/11 would not have happened.
From Beirut to 9/11 By ROBERT C. McFARLANE After the Lebanon bombing, the most telling conclusion was the one reached by Middle Eastern terrorists, that the U.S. had neither the will nor the means to respond to a terrorist attack.
Hezbollah: On the War path or seeking political domination of Lebanon? Defense Update
Has Nasrallah Been Poisoned?
Report: Hezbollah chief poisoned; Iranian doctors saved his life
Security services draw up list of possible targets of Hezbollah attacks List prepared in light of Hezbollah vow to avenge Mughniyeh assassination; some officials receive protection
Iranian official: Tehran proud of its support for Hezbollah, Hamas Larijani rejects claims Iran backs terrorism, also says Obama seems more 'rational' than McCain
Al Awsat Lebanon and the Saudi Position : Muhammad Diyab
Saudis resurrect a rival for HezbollahSaudi Arabia, amid its efforts to undermine Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, is reportedly funding a rival Shi'ite wing of the group led by Sheikh Subhi Tufayli, a Hezbollah founder who has been little seen since the 1990s. But Saudi money may just be lining Tufayli's pockets and his resurrection is little threat to the power and popularity of Nasrallah. - Sami Moubayed
Lebanese City's Strife Reflects 2 Conflicts Tripoli Rocked by Internal Rifts and Mideast Proxy War

Israel mulling non-aggression treaty with Lebanon
Hamas in control
Cleaner, safer streets, cease-fire boost Haniyeh; outlook for peace bleak
Iran proposal: Preemptive strike against Israeli targets Khamenei adviser: Israeli rhetoric on Iran strike strengthens position of pro-preemptive attack officials.
Iran's threats are not based on any proven capability Iran's declarations appear to be an attempt to create a balance of fear and deterrence with Israel
Israel expects U.S.-Iran talks if Obama elected
Israel must adapt to reality of U.S.-Iran dialogue Post-U.S. election, Israel will be expected to toe the line
Barak: Israel giving serious thought to Saudi peace plan
Israel considers reviving Saudi peace plan to resolve conflict
2002 plan offered the Jewish nation an end to its conflict with the Arab world, says Israel's defence minister
Saudi official presents new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan
Egypt presents Fatah, Hamas with Palestinian unity proposalCairo paper calls on Abbas to continue peace talks with Israel, but says any deal needs Hamas approval
Examining Israel's efforts toward building a new government Prime Minister-designate Tzipi Livni has received a two-week deadline extension for forming a ruling coalition. Here are answers to some key questions on how the process might play out
Israel's Livni Needs More Time to Form Government
Livni's Outlook: Political and Policy Options in Israel

US-Iraq SOFA latest draft, in English
A Critical Stage in Iraq By David Ignatius, 'Everybody is afraid of everybody. They're afraid of the past, present and future.'
Iraq's cabinet rejects current draft of U.S. troop accord Shiite Muslim government ministers raised objections Tuesday to a "final draft" of an agreement to authorize U.S. troops to remain in Iraq, and after a four-and-a-half-hour cabinet meeting Iraq's government spokesman said the agreement won't be finalized in its current form. What happens next is unclear.
Details of Iraq's Status of Forces Agreement
Daily Star Will Iraq finally end the colonial era?By Rami G. Khouri
Helena Cobban US Iraq policy beyond November 4
Iraq sends draft of U.S. security pact to Cabinet Shiite officials say they still want revisions to the language of the document, which requires U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 unless they are asked to stay on
US-Iraqi security pact still unsettled Amid growing opposition, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Sunday for more time to negotiate a plan that could begin US troop withdrawals in June 2009.
New Doubts Cloud Iraqi Security Pact With U.S.
CRS The Kurds in Post-Saddam Iraq
Al hayat What Matters is for the Agreement to be Iraqi
Documents Say Iran Aids Militias From Iraq
Iraq faction seeks 2011 US exit The Iraq parliament’s biggest political grouping is calling for the US mission to be brought to a definite close by the end of 2011 as a condition for approving a deal
USIP Iraqi Recommendations to the Incoming Administration
Panel I: Institution-building in Iraq1:40:07 - 18.2MB Panel II: Political Progress 1:42:04 - 18.6MB

Iran’s leadership would pay a high price for a handshake with America. As the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution looms, it’s time to rethink U.S. strategy toward Iran.
Stopping A Nuclear Tehran By Daniel R. Coats and Charles S. Robb, It likely will be the first and most pressing national security issue facing the next president
Asia Times Elusive consensus on Iran Neo-conservative groups in the United States are using the presidential transition period to strengthen perceptions of an Iranian nuclear threat and stymie any plans for the next administration to change policy on Tehran. At the same time, the revived international efforts on Iran have exposed a widening split over how to deal with its nuclear program. - Kaveh L Afrasiabi
US intelligence: Iran will be able to build first nuclear bomb by February 2009
Washington Post Washington Post Stopping A Nuclear Tehran By Daniel R. Coats and Charles S. Robb, It likely will be the first and most pressing national security issue facing the next president
EurasiaNet Iran: Ahmadinejad Making Political Gambit to Enhance his Authority in Tehran BY KAMAL NAZER YASIN Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is risking his political future by striving to decouple his neo-conservative faction from long-standing domestic allies -- traditionalist clergy and small-scale merchants. If successful, Ahmadinejad would gain a greater degree of freedom of action in both the domestic and international arenas.
Al hayat Will Obama Save us from War with Iran?
Der Spiegel Berlin Plans to Deter Trade with Iran

Towards a Middle East Stalemate? by Eric Trager
Oct 22 SD# 2091 - Arab Columnists: The Economic Crisis – A Conspiracy by U.S. Government, American Jews

Monday, October 13, 2008


Syria downplays troop buildup on Lebanese border Damascus says it's merely beefing up border security. But the US issued Syria a strong warning, and Israeli troops are on alert.
What's Afoot in Syria? - Claude Salhani, Washington Times Syria has long claimed it is tied to Lebanon in more ways than one. Over the last two weeks this statement has proven to be far more on the money than Syria would have ever imagined.
Border warning Extra US military aid to Lebanon sends a message to Syria

The coming train-wreck in Lebanon CAROLINE GLICK

Analysis: The failing markets' impact on diplomacy By HERB KEINON How will the global financial hurricane impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Warning signs of Israeli strike on Iran Bush’s legacy would be best served by taking dramatic diplomatic action to prevent a war
Middle East talks head to Oxford
Israel offered a comprehensive peace treaty with 22 Arab countries in return for withdrawal from the territories it occupied after the 1967 war
A political partnership based on mutual lack of trust Citing need for stability, Livni urged Likud to join gov't. But stability means lack of diplomatic progress
Warning Signs of an Israeli Strike on Iran - David Owen, Times of London
Al Hayat Israel Between War and Peace Patrick Seale - The violently contradictory signals coming out of Israel these days point to the troublesome -- and so far unresolved -- debate among the country's leaders about how Israel should live in the Middle East. Israel professes to want peace, yet it works tirelessly to prepare for war.

U.S., Iraq Are Close to Security Pact The U.S. and Iraq are close to agreeing on a final draft of a security agreement that includes a compromise on legal jurisdiction over American soldiers, people familiar with the talks said
State Department Report on Iraq: "Consolidating the Gains, Completing the Transition"
The man with toughest job in Middle East Nouri al-Maliki talks to The Times about how he will shape his country and move towards a truly independent state
Iraqi government fuels 'war for oil' theories by putting reserves up for biggest ever sale
Kissinger: US Must Deal with Iran - Robert Satloff, Washington Institute

Disarming the Middle East - Shlomo Ben-Ami, RealClearWorld
The US election and the Middle East By Ghassan Rubeiz
Water: a source of Middle East peace? Václav Havel et al: Nations in the region are using more water than arrives on a renewable basis. Cooperating to secure it is the only way forward
The Region: Why the Middle East is sick BARRY RUBIN

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


House Cleaning in Damascus? By: Olivier Guitta The Middle East Times If there is one country that has been all over the news lately, it is Syria. In fact between President Bashar Assad's charm offensive to the West (real or not), Syrian troops amassing near the Lebanese border, a terror attack in Damascus, it seems that today things are shaking up in Syria. But the difficulty of reading into this imbroglio is growing by the day: more players, more incidents, more drama.
'US considers lifting Syrian sanctions'
Senior US officials encouraged by improved relations with France, renewed Syria-Lebanon diplomatic ties
U.S. Assesses Isolation Policy Of Syria
Time Why Syria Will Keep Provoking Israel - Robert Baer
Why Syria Doesn’t Want War with Israel
Syrian Officer Involved in Hariri Death Killed in Damascus Car Bomb (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. warns Syria against sending ground troops into Lebanon
Al Hayat Syria's Need for Arabs Abdullah Iskandar - There are two widespread theories that explain the recent explosions and assassinations in Syria. Of foreign source undenied by Israel, the first theory links these operations to the Syrian endeavors to develop a military nuclear program. As for the second Syrian-based theory, it links these operations to takfiri groups.
Syria, Lebanon abuzz over report about militant's arrest An intriguing item about the mysterious leader of a ferocious militant group floated around the Lebanese and Syrian media over the weekend
US Sanctions: Financial Firewall for Iran, Syria?
Iran Urges Officials to Keep Out of Syria
Mass Killings and Human Rights Violations in Syria

SSI The 2006 Lebanon Campaign and the Future of Warfare, by Dr. Stephen Biddle and Mr. Jeffrey Friedman
New Lebanon War? By Amir Taheri IS Syria preparing to seize the opportunity provided by the global financial crisis and the US presidential campaign to invade Lebanon
WINEP The Future of U.S. Military Aid to Lebanon - David Schenker

Israel 'may bomb Iran' if Russia sells missile system The Israeli prime minister will press Russian President Dmitry Medvedev not to sell anti-aircraft defences to Iran amid growing speculation the Jewish state will bomb Iran's nuclear facilities
Analysis: How to stop Iran Once Iran realizes it has a lot to lose, talks could succeed.
Amir Oren: Nuclear deterrence attributed to Israel doesn't affect its enemies' plans
Editorial: Livni mustn't decide to strike Iran out of a desire for prestige
Olmert unlikely to persuade Russia not to arm Iran, Syria If Iran receives Russian anti-aircraft missiles, aerial strike on its nuclear sites would be more difficult
Disproportionate Force: Israel's Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War - Col. (res.) Gabriel Siboni
ANALYSIS / IDF plans to use disproportionate force in next war Top IDF generals say future war with Hezbollah will involve 'immense destruction,' heavy firepower
The Livni Challenge
Can Tzipi follow in Golda's footsteps?
The New Face of Israel? Israel expert Daniel Levy assesses the odds that Tzipi Livni could become Israel's next prime minister, and considers what it might mean for the Middle East if she does.
Newsweek Israel: The Problem with Peace Talks
For Livni, forming an Israeli coalition just got a lot harder
The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel may have to withdraw from the West Bank if it wants peace with Palestinians, making Tzipi Livni's job of building a new government coalition with hard-liners much more difficult.

Al Hayat Iraq: Disintegration on the Way to Unity? Elias Harfoush - Iraq's Presidential Council's approval of the electoral law for provincial councils represents a major step that could pull Iraq out of the crisis that has brought its institutions into a state of paralysis and nearly sabotaged the relative improvement in security. This in spite of bombings shifting from one place to the next, the last of which were the two massacres that targeted worshippers on the morning of Eid Al-Fitr
Rivals Present Sharp Divide on Iraq Goals By MICHAEL R. GORDON At the heart of the dispute between the 2008 candidates is Barack Obama’s timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops.
Meeting America’s Security Challenges Beyond Iraq: A Conference ReportSource: RAND Corporation
Independent Secrets of Iraq's death chamber
Robert Fisk reports that prisoners are being summarily executed in the government's high-security detention centre in Baghdad.
Daily Star Iraq's next big test looms this month By Rayyan al-Shawaf
Iraqis Unite to Restore Minority Representation Law

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Are No Rogue Outfit - Michael Rubin
Iran: Willing to Consider a Nuclear Bargain? Given the security concerns surrounding existing pipeline routes connecting the Caspian Basin and Turkey, Iran is trying to fashion itself as a viable energy export alternative. The desire for an energy opening to the West is sufficiently strong that at least some political factions in Tehran seem willing to explore a deal with the United States and European Union concerning Iran�s nuclear program

More Freedom, Less Terror? Liberalization and Political Violence in the Arab WorldSource: RAND Corporation