Gaza Ceasefire, Morsi’s New Powers, Benghazi

Category: Gaza, Israel, Ceasefire

EWI Digest Posting No. 328, November 23, 2012
>
> MIDDLE EAST
>
> GAZA CEASEFIRE:
>
> Elliott Abrams, Yossi Klein Halevi, Washington Post, Times of Israel >
> MORSI’S NEW POWERS: “Why This, Why Now?”
>
> BENGHAZI: It Was Clapper
>
> POTPOURRI:
>
> China’s Iranian Oil Waiver Likely to be Renewed,
>
> Sudan Coup Attempt? Qatar’s Football Problems
>
> PLEASE NOTE: YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEO OF EWI’S JULY 9 CAPITOL HILL BRIEFING ON ECONOMIC > THREATS AND WARFARE AT
>
> http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL80F8C53F783A1741&feature=plcp >
> To: Friends
>

EWI BLOG: Kenneth D.M. Jensen: Gaza Ceasefire, Morsi’s New Powers, Benghazi, Potpourri
> http://EconWarfare.org [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.x4mmtmgab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2FEconWarfare.org] > GAZA CEASEFIRE
> Just to catch you up on what happened in the Middle East over Thanksgiving Thursday,
> I include a handful of articles of news and analysis. To my delight (and consternation,
> of course) there’s been a general affirmation from the pundits of Iran’s role in
> the Gaza proceedings. By this, I mean that even the most careful of them at this
> see Hamas and Iran as the principal beneficiaries of the “new Gaza war.” The most
> sophisticated analysis of how things stand now in the region (and for the United
> States) comes from Elliott Abrams in the Weekly Standard. Others providing analysis
> include Yossi Klein Halevi in The New Republic, and Abigail Hauslohner and Ernesto > Londono in the Washington Post.
> Anne Gearan, also writing in the Washington Post, seems to reflect how the Obama > administration would have us see events of the past few days:
> “The Obama administration notched two diplomatic successes in one stroke with the
> cease-fire announced Wednesday between Hamas and Israel. Secretary of State Hillary
> Rodham Clinton’s shuttle diplomacy yielded a short-term victory that experts say
> may translate to greater diplomatic leverage for the administration down the road.
> But the more important success for the administration is that Egyptian President
> Mohamed Morsi, not Clinton, is getting most of the credit. Now the question is
> whether the United States can capi­tal­ize on the cease-fire and the role played
> by Morsi to help craft a broader peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
> An administration official said ending the week-long fighting between Israel and
> militants based in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was the most pressing concern. The
> official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic matters,
> said the next step will be turning that success into ‘a longer-term solution’ for > the region.”
> Needless to say, this is optimism beyond wildest dreams. Most experts have found
> the ceasefire too modest and too vague, with significant matters still to be negotiated,
> and they worry whether it will hold and, if it does, for how long. Indeed, there’s
> already been an incident along the fence that both sides would regard as a ceasefire
> violation. I include a Times of Israel report on an attempted Palestinian incursion > (by some 300) into Israel that resulted in one Palestinian death.
> Let’s hope that the administration will pay close attention to what’s going on and
> not rest on dubious laurels and ask us to believe that it’s moving things forward
> when things aren’t moving forward. Hamas remains Hamas, there is no unified Palestinian
> leadership in the West Bank and Gaza, and no framework for serious negotiations
> between the Palestinians and Israel to begin. Egypt’s role as a peacemaker (or, > rather, ceasefire-maker) has yet to be tested.
> MORSI’S NEW POWERS
> From the Washington Post:
> “Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi declared extensive political powers for himself
> Thursday, taking broad and sweeping control of his country a day after he won international > praise for fostering a cease-fire in Gaza.
> “Under the terms of Thursday’s decree, Morsi said that all of the decisions he has
> made since he took office – and until a new constitution is adopted – were final
> and not subject to appeal or review. He declared the retrial of high officials
> accused of the deaths of protesters during the country’s 2011 revolution, a measure
> that appeared targeted at former leader Hosni Mubarak. And he dismissed Egypt’s > Mubarak-era prosecutor general, immediately swearing in a new one.
> “The announcement, which was read on state television by Morsi’s spokesman, Yasser
> Ali, late Thursday afternoon and broadcast repeatedly, appears to leave few if any
> checks on the president’s power. The military, not long ago a powerful weight against
> the executive branch, was sidelined in August in a similarly sudden decision when
> Morsi fired the top ranks in a single sweep. And Egypt’s short-lived parliament
> was dissolved by the country’s top court shortly before Morsi, a political Islamist, > took office.
> “Some commentators on Egyptian television quickly began bandying about words like
> ‘dictatorship.’ Protesters were massing in Tahrir Square, some with posters containing
> split images of the faces of Mubarak and Morsi. Meanwhile, a group of Morsi supporters
> from his Muslim Brotherhood movement gathered elsewhere in central Cairo to show > their support for the decision.
> “‘If a danger arises that threatens the January 25 revolution,’ the proclamation
> read, the president ‘can take any procedures and preparations that he sees necessary > to face this danger.'”
> We’ll see what the analysts have to say about this turn of events. One wonders
> if U.S. acquiescence to this was a price that was paid to secure Morsi’s role in
> the Gaza ceasefire. If so, then the Muslim Brotherhood would join Hamas and Iran
> as a chief beneficiary of the “new Gaza war.” Don’t get me wrong: there will surely
> be other explanations for “why this?” and “why now?” And somebody will get it right, > sooner or later.
> BENGHAZI
> “Inside-the-administration” reporter Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy confirms that
> it was “Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the decision to remove
> the words ‘terrorism’ and ‘al Qaeda’ from the unclassified talking points that Rice
> based her comments on in the days following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission
> in Benghazi, it was revealed this week.” Rogin’s piece is intended to point out
> how Republican opponents to Rice’s nomination as Secretary of State have subsequently > changed THEIR message.
> To me, the whole Rice business has been a ridiculous distraction. Her role in the
> administration’s handling of Benghazi has been minor. Why the administration’s
> critics waste their time on it is beyond me. The facts of the matter are these:
> The Obama administration took an initial line on the Benghazi attack that focused
> on the role of “The Innocence of Muslims.” That line was imprudent and overtly
> political (aimed politically, at the very least, to placate Muslims). That line
> was important enough to the administration for Hillary Clinton to tell Tyrone Woods’s
> father Charles at Andrews airforce base that the administration was going to find
> and jail the filmmaker. This part of the Benghazi scandal is about general Middle
> East policy, which has taken a back seat to all sorts of other things by now. Yes,
> of course, we need to know about what the CIA was doing in Benghazi and the U.S.
> mission’s lack of security. Those things are of equal import. But let’s not forget
> the policy just because the initial critics hit the nail on the head and then backed > off.
> POTPOURRI
> China’s Iranian Oil Waiver Likely to be Renewed
> The Wall Street Journal reports that the volume of China’s imports of Iranian crude > continues to decline:
> “China’s imports of Iranian crude oil are down by about one-fifth so far this year,
> a drop that puts the country in good position to avoid U.S. sanctions and head off > a diplomatic row with Washington.
> “China has repeatedly defended its crude purchases from Iran, telling the U.S. it
> complies with existing U.N. resolutions. But October data released Wednesday showed
> Iran crude-oil imports off 23% from a year earlier, to 458,000 barrels a day, continuing > a year-long trend.
> “China’s third-largest supplier of crude as recently as last year, after Saudi Arabia
> and Angola, Iran this year has slipped to No. 4-surpassed by Russia-shipping about > 426,000 barrels a day in the first 10 months of the year.
> “October’s import numbers will be the last used by the U.S. State Department in
> deciding whether Beijing qualifies for a renewal of its waiver from sanctions, which
> expires Dec. 25. China won the exemption in late June, after the State Department
> determined that it had “significantly reduced” crude imports from Iran in the first
> half of the year. Renewal requires continued significant reductions. The State Department > says no decision has yet been made.”
> Sudan Coup Attempt?
> AP reports that
> “Sudanese authorities said they arrested 13 people Thursday, including the once-powerful
> head of national security, on suspicion of involvement in an apparent military coup > attempt.
> “State-run Omdurman radio said a ‘subversive plot’-a term often used by Khartoum
> to refer to plans for a coup-was uncovered and aborted. Among those arrested was
> former head of National Security and Intelligence Services Lt. Gen. Salah Abdallah
> Gosh, according to remarks by Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman carried by > the state Sudan News Agency.
> “The minister said that the 13 are being interrogated. ‘The government has decided
> to abort this plot just before the zero hour as a preventive measure to avoid entering
> the country into chaos,’ Mr. Osman said, adding that there was evidence of plots > to target top leaders in government. He didn’t elaborate.” > Qatar’s Football Problems
> Regular contributor James Dorsey is himself the object of news regarding Qatar and > Middle East football politics. To wit:
> “Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup faces a double-barreled attack
> with a decision by world soccer body FIFA to investigate the Gulf state’s bid, fresh
> allegations of alleged attempted bribery, and imminent trade union actions in protest
> of Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers involved in the construction of World Cup-related > infrastructure.
> “FIFA’s investigation comes on the back of a decision to expand its enquiry into
> bribery charges against its suspended vice-president, Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari
> national who has also been suspended as president of the Asian Football Confederation
> (AFC), into Mr. Bin Hammam’s financial management of the Asian soccer body. The
> enquiry is likely to focus on what an internal audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers
> (PwC) described as his management of an AFC sundry account as his personal account
> as well as the negotiation and terms of a $1 billion master rights agreement with
> Singapore-based World Sports Group concluded by the soccer body on Mr. Bin Hammam’s > authority.
> “A Singapore court this week instructed veteran journalist and soccer scholar James
> M. Dorsey to reveal his sources for his reporting on the audit and Mr. Bin Hammam’s > relationship with WSG. Mr. Dorsey has not commented on the ruling.” > CONTENTS
> ITEM 1: AP, Yoel Goldman: 300 Palestinians attempt to breach Gaza border fence,
> IDF fire kills one and injures several others, report Palestinian sources; Palestinian > Authority FM, Islamic Jihad spokesman say shooting violates ceasefire
> http://www.timesofisrael.com/300-palestinians-attempt-to-breach-gaza-border-fence/
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.gv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.timesofisrael.com%2F300-palestinians-attempt-to-breach-gaza-border-fence%2F] > ITEM 2: Yossi Klein Halevi: Did Israel Win Its Latest War?
> http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/110403/did-israel-win-its-latest-war [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.hv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tnr.com%2Fblog%2Fplank%2F110403%2Fdid-israel-win-its-latest-war]
> ITEM 3: Josh Rogin: Clapper changed the talking points, but Rice still on the hot > seat
> http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/11/21/clapper_changed_the_talking_points_but_rice_still_on_the_hot_seat
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.iv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fthecable.foreignpolicy.com%2Fposts%2F2012%2F11%2F21%2Fclapper_changed_the_talking_points_but_rice_still_on_the_hot_seat] > ITEM 4: Elliott Abrams: The Gaza war and its fallout.
> http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/winners-losers_663843.html [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.jv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fwinners-losers_663843.html] > ITEM 5: Wayne Ma, Colum Murphy: China’s Iran Oil Imports Drop Further
> http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324712504578132491406940584.html?mod=WSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.kv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887324712504578132491406940584.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews] > ITEM 6: AP: Sudan Says It Foiled Coup Attempt
> http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578134941933400214.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LatestHeadlines
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.lv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887324352004578134941933400214.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_Opinion_LatestHeadlines]
> ITEM 7: Anne Gearan: With Clinton’s shuttle diplomacy success, focus turns to long-term > Mideast solution
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/with-clintons-shuttle-diplomacy-success-focus-turns-to-long-term-mideast-solution/2012/11/21/bc6602b6-3411-11e2-9cfa-e41bac906cc9_story.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.nv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fworld%2Fnational-security%2Fwith-clintons-shuttle-diplomacy-success-focus-turns-to-long-term-mideast-solution%2F2012%2F11%2F21%2Fbc6602b6-3411-11e2-9cfa-e41bac906cc9_story.html] > ITEM 8: Michael Birnbaum: Egypt’s President Morsi takes sweeping new powers
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egypts-president-morsi-takes-sweeping-new-powers/2012/11/22/8d87d716-34cb-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html?hpid=z2
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.ov85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fworld%2Fegypts-president-morsi-takes-sweeping-new-powers%2F2012%2F11%2F22%2F8d87d716-34cb-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html%3Fhpid%3Dz2]
> ITEM 9: James Dorsey: Qatar faces double-barreled attack as Singapore company moves > into the firing line
> http://mideastsoccer.blogspot.com/2012/11/qatar-faces-double-barreled-attack-as.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.pv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fmideastsoccer.blogspot.com%2F2012%2F11%2Fqatar-faces-double-barreled-attack-as.html]
> ITEM 10: Abigail Hauslohner, Ernesto Londono: Hamas leaders emerge stronger than > ever, Palestinians say
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/hamas-leaders-emerge-stronger-than-ever-palestinians-say/2012/11/22/1096ecb4-34d6-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html?hpid=z1
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.qv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fworld%2Fmiddle_east%2Fhamas-leaders-emerge-stronger-than-ever-palestinians-say%2F2012%2F11%2F22%2F1096ecb4-34d6-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html%3Fhpid%3Dz1] > FULL TEXTS
> ITEM 1a: AP, Yoel Goldman: 300 Palestinians attempt to breach Gaza border fence,
> IDF fire kills one and injures several others, report Palestinian sources; Palestinian
> Authority FM, Islamic Jihad spokesman say shooting violates ceasefire http://www.timesofisrael.com/300-palestinians-attempt-to-breach-gaza-border-fence/
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.gv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.timesofisrael.com%2F300-palestinians-attempt-to-breach-gaza-border-fence%2F] > November 23, 2012
> GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Roughly 300 Palestinians approached the border fence at
> several locations in southern Gaza, tried to damage it and cross into Israel on > Friday, according to the IDF. Protesters also hurled rocks at Israeli troops.
> Soldiers fired warning shots in the air to distance the Palestinians from the fence,
> but after they attempted to cross into Israel, troops fired at their legs, the military
> said. It also said a Palestinian infiltrated into Israel in the course of the unrest, > but he was returned to Gaza.
> A Palestinian health official said Israeli troops shot dead a 20-year-old Palestinian
> man and wounded 19 people as crowds surged toward the border fence, the first violence
> since a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers took hold some 36 hours earlier.
> According to one version of events, the Palestinians who neared the border fence
> were agricultural workers. But according to another report, the Palestinians were
> on their way to prayers, and a family member of the man reportedly killed told Reuters > that the 20-year-old had attempted to place a Palestinian flag on the fence.
> Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the IDF shooting of the man
> was a violation of the ceasefire agreed upon between Israel and the Palestinian
> factions in Gaza on Wednesday night following eight days of cross-border fighting, > the bloodiest between Israel and Hamas in four years.
> Speaking at a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, Malki called the > incident “a clear violation of the agreement and should not be repeated”.
> Hamas officials were not immediately available for comment, but Nafez Azzam, a spokesman
> for Gaza’s Islamic Jihad, also said the shooting was a violation of the truce and > that Egypt had been informed.
> Gaza prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, meanwhile urged militant factions
> to respect the ceasefire. It appeared unlikely Hamas would retaliate for Friday’s
> shooting because that could jeopardize the militant group’s potential gains from
> the ceasefire deal, such as an easing of restrictions on movement in and out of > the Gaza Strip.
> On Thursday, two people were reportedly injured by Israeli fire while marching near > the same area, east of Khan Younis.
> In the past, Israel’s military has barred Palestinians from getting close to the
> fence, and soldiers have opened fire to enforce a no-go zone meant to prevent infiltrations > into Israel.
> Since the ceasefire, growing numbers of Gazans have entered the no-go zone.
> In one incident captured by Associated Press video, several dozen Palestinians,
> most of them young men, approached the fence, coming close to a group of Israeli > soldiers standing on the other side.
> Some Palestinians briefly talked to the soldiers, while others appeared to be taunting
> them with chants of “God is great” and “Morsi, Morsi,” in praise of Egyptian President > Mohammed Morsi, whose mediation led to the truce.
> The ceasefire agreement allowed both Hamas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
> to step back from the brink of a full-fledged war. Over eight days, Israel’s aircraft
> carried out some 1,500 strikes on Hamas-linked targets, while Gaza fighters peppered > Israel with roughly the same number of rockets.
> The fighting killed 166 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, and six Israelis.
> In Cairo, Egypt is hosting separate talks with Israeli and Hamas envoys on the next
> phase of the ceasefire: a new border deal for blockaded Gaza. Hamas demands lifting
> all border restrictions, while Israel insists that Hamas must halt weapons-smuggling > to the territory.
> In Israel, a poll showed that about half of Israelis think their government should > have continued its military offensive against Hamas.
> The independent Maagar Mohot poll released Friday shows 49 percent of respondents
> feel Israel should have kept going after the squads that fire rockets into Israel.
> Thirty-one percent supported the government’s decision to stop. Twenty percent had > no opinion.
> Twenty-nine percent thought Israel should have sent ground troops to invade Gaza. > The poll of 503 respondents had an error margin of 4.5 percentage points.
> The same survey showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party and electoral partner Yisrael Beytenu
> losing some support, but his hard-line bloc would still be able to form the next > government. Elections are January 22.
> ITEM 2a: Yossi Klein Halevi: Did Israel Win Its Latest War? http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/110403/did-israel-win-its-latest-war
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.hv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tnr.com%2Fblog%2Fplank%2F110403%2Fdid-israel-win-its-latest-war] > November 21, 2012
> There is a measure of thanksgiving, or at least relief, in the land of Israel. With
> the ceasefire, Israelis are grateful that their young men waiting on the border-and
> almost everyone has a husband, son, brother, friend among those 70,000 reservists-will
> be spared the horrors of fighting in Gaza. They are grateful that the civilians
> in southern Israel can now emerge from their shelters. And they’re grateful that
> the Jewish state won’t be depicted as a war criminal by Hamas propagandists reveling > in the deaths of Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire.
> In the coming days Israeli leaders will attempt to convince voters-election season
> is about to resume-that this was an Israeli victory. In some sense, they will be
> right. There’s certainly a case to be made that this round of fighting was not,
> at least, an Israeli defeat. Militarily, Israel destroyed several thousand rockets
> and much of the Hamas infrastructure. Despite over a thousand rockets fired at Israeli
> cities and towns, Israeli casualties were minimal, thanks to the Iron Dome anti-missile > system, the real hero of this round of fighting.
> There’s good news diplomatically too. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime, which helped
> negotiate the ceasefire, has been forced for the first time to engage with Israel.
> As one senior Israeli official put it to me, “[Egyptian President] Morsi had to
> choose between his loyalty to Egyptian interests and his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood > ideology, and he chose Egypt.”
> Egypt has also assumed tacit responsibility for Hamas, which now has to answer to
> its new patron. There is now a potential address for Israeli grievances if Hamas > violates the ceasefire, and for American pressure on Hamas.
> Israel’s relations with Washington have also been strengthened. After creating the
> widespread impression of interfering in the American election campaign against President
> Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Obama’s intercession to accept a ceasefire.
> It wasn’t easy: Netanyahu was under growing domestic pressure to resist. There were
> spontaneous demonstrations all over southern Israel demanding that the offensive
> against Hamas continue. And when the ceasefire was announced, two leaders from
> the center-left opposition-Shaul Mofaz of Kadima and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid (There
> Is a Future)–condemned Netanyahu for showing weakness. As the election campaign
> intensifies, Netanyahu will be mocked-by the left!-as indecisive, failing to fulfill > the Likud’s long-standing promise to topple Hamas.
> In preventing an escalation in Gaza, though, Netanyahu can now restore focus on
> Iran. Three times in the last six years, Israel has been lured into fighting Hamas
> and Hezbollah, two terror organizations aligned with Iran. Given the possibility
> of a looming Israeli confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program, government
> officials here reasoned that it was better not to continue to deplete Israeli resources > on diversionary conflicts with Iran’s proxies.
> Still, as one Israeli official admitted to me just after the cease-fire was announced, > no one here is celebrating.
> Yes, Israel destroyed an impressive number of Hamas missiles, and the Iron Dome
> was a stunning success. But Hamas still has thousands more missiles. And the Iron
> Dome is outrageously expensive: every anti-missile launching cost $50,000. If in
> the next round of fighting-and few Israelis doubt there will be one-the war widens
> to include other forces, the Iron Dome’s capacity will be exhausted. Hezbollah alone
> has an estimated 80,000 missiles, many of them sophisticated, and all of them aimed > at the Israeli home front.
> Politically, Hamas’ prestige has been boosted in the Arab world, and especially
> among Palestinians. (Correspondingly, the big loser is the leader of the Palestinian
> Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.) A ragged terrorist regime managed to do what hasn’t been
> done since the first Gulf War in 1991: fire missiles at Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv may be,
> according to some international surveys, the world’s best party city and the most
> gay friendly; but Hamas has reminded Tel Avivis that they also live in the most > endangered city on the planet.
> By firing three missiles at Jerusalem, Hamas also ended the long-standing Israeli
> assumption that the Holy City, with its large Arab population and the Dome of the
> Rock, was immune from aerial attack. Here too Hamas’ message to Israelis was devastating: > No place is safe anymore.
> As for Israeli deterrence: Hamas called Israel’s bluff on a ground offensive, and
> Israel backed down. The mobilization of the reserves was apparently nothing more
> than an exercise in intimidation. Yet Hamas leaders hardly seemed intimidated.
> Come on in, they taunted Israeli leaders-fully aware of just how reluctant Israel
> was to topple Hamas and risk being turned into an international pariah. Hamas leaders
> acted as if they’d been eavesdropping on Israel’s media debates over a ground invasion,
> or else reading the polls that showed most Israelis opposed to one. Government ministers
> spoke openly about the futility of a ground invasion, even as the reservists were
> gathering on the border. During one TV panel, the education minister, Likudnik Gideon
> Sa’ar, confessed that there was no alternative to Hamas rule. The strategy of deterrence > toward Hamas has always depended on projecting the opposite message.
> In the streets of Gaza City, Palestinians celebrated Hamas’ victory. Netanyahu will > have to work hard to convince Israeli voters that those celebrants were wrong.
> Yossi Klein Halevi is a contributing editor of TNR and a senior fellow of the Shalom > Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
> ITEM 3a: Josh Rogin: Clapper changed the talking points, but Rice still on the hot
> seat http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/11/21/clapper_changed_the_talking_points_but_rice_still_on_the_hot_seat
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.iv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fthecable.foreignpolicy.com%2Fposts%2F2012%2F11%2F21%2Fclapper_changed_the_talking_points_but_rice_still_on_the_hot_seat] > Wednesday, November 21, 2012
> U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is seemingly off the hook for her controversial Sept.
> 16 comments on Benghazi, but the opposition to her confirmation remains as her
> critics broaden their objections to her possible candidacy along with the administration’s > handling of the Benghazi issue.
> Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made the decision to remove the
> words “terrorism” and “al Qaeda” from the unclassified talking points that Rice
> based her comments on in the days following the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission
> in Benghazi, it was revealed this week. But senators who have promised to try to
> block Rice’s potential nomination to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton > are altering their message while continuing to oppose Rice’s ascension.
> Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has already started campaigning for his 2014 reelection
> campaign by focusing on the Benghazi attack, released a letter to President Barack
> Obama Wednesday demanding to know when he personally was aware of the intelligence > on the attack and why he chose Rice to speak for the administration.
> “We have now learned that the talking points provided to Ambassador Susan Rice on
> or around September 15 describing the assault on our consulate in Benghazi were
> disconnected from the actual intelligence. According to numerous sources, including
> CIA Director David Petraeus and the CIA station chief on the ground in Libya, the
> perpetrators of the attack were identified to be al Qaeda linked militia almost
> immediately,” Graham wrote. “In spite of the FBI report and all other available
> intelligence, the talking points given to Ambassador Rice suggesting the attack
> was spontaneous, based on a hateful video, and similar to the attacks in Cairo, > was completely disconnected from the intelligence.”
> Last week, President Obama challenged critics of Rice’s Benghazi statements, including
> his 2008 opponent John McCain (R-AZ), to take him on directly, saying, “If Senator
> McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after > me.”
> With this letter, Graham has obliged, shifting the accusation of misleading the
> American public on Benghazi from Rice to the president by questioning whether Obama
> knew about the details of the intelligence reports and, if so, why he emphasized
> the anti-Islam video in several television appearances in the days after the attack.
> Graham also implies that Obama chose poorly by asking Rice to represent the administration > on the issue.
> “As for Ambassador Susan Rice, by the time she addressed the nation on five Sunday
> shows on September 16, the classified intelligence clearly refuted the scenario
> she described,” Graham wrote. “So why was Ambassador Rice, who in your words ‘had
> nothing to do with Benghazi,’ chosen to explain the attack to the American people?
> Why wasn’t someone with first-hand knowledge of the attack on our Consulate, or
> first-hand knowledge of the Administration’s response during the critical hours > our consulate was under attack, selected for this opportunity?”
> McCain has also shifted his emphasis from Rice’s comments to the White House’s handling
> of the Benghazi issue overall. On Nov. 19, he said he would oppose any nomination
> for secretary of state, not just Rice, until his questions on Benghazi were answered.
> In a Nov. 20 statement, McCain said that Clapper professed not to know who altered
> the CIA-drafted Benghazi talking points during a hearing of the Senate Select Committee > on Intelligence last week, which the Arizona senator attended.
> “I participated in hours of hearings in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
> last week regarding the events in Benghazi, where senior intelligence officials
> were asked this very question, and all of them — including the Director of National
> Intelligence himself — told us that they did not know who made the changes. Now
> we have to read the answers to our questions in the media,” McCain said. “There
> are many other questions that remain unanswered. But this latest episode is another
> reason why many of us are so frustrated with, and suspicious of, the actions of > this administration when it comes to the Benghazi attack.”
> Meanwhile, commentators have expanded their criticism of Rice’s potential nomination
> to include several issues not related to Benghazi. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank
> this week highlighted longstanding concerns by some Rice critics that her style > is too confrontational.
> The New York Times noted this week Rice’s comment during her time in the Clinton
> administration when she asked aloud whether using the term “genocide” in reference
> to mass killings in Rwanda would hurt the president politically before the midterm > elections.
> Rice might also be pressed during a potential confirmation hearing to defend the
> Obama administration’s reluctance to further intervene in Syria. She told then
> journalist, now White House official Samantha Power after Rwanda that she would > never again let such a humanitarian tragedy unfold on her watch.
> “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on
> the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required,” Rice said.
> ITEM 4a: Elliott Abrams: The Gaza war and its fallout. http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/winners-losers_663843.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.jv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.weeklystandard.com%2Fblogs%2Fwinners-losers_663843.html] > 12:00 AM, NOV 22, 2012
> If the truce announced in Cairo last Wednesday truly brings the Gaza war to a close, > it is not too soon to assess who gained and who lost from this conflict.
> Hamas provoked the war and chose the timing, so it is not surprising that they thought
> they would gain-and they have gained. The PLO initiative in the United Nations (to
> be classified as a “non-member observer state”) was shifting energy to the West
> Bank leadership, and by these attacks on Israel Hamas shifted it back. President
> Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies in Ramallah barely made the papers, despite Secretary
> of State Hillary Clinton’s visit there. They were marginalized while Arab leaders
> and Turkish officials visited Gaza, and Hamas leaders traveled to Cairo for high-publicity
> meetings. The PLO leadership in Ramallah is one of the big losers of the last few > weeks.
> The effect of this will play out in the coming months. Given Hamas’s control of
> Gaza, any peace negotiations in 2013 with the “Ramallah leadership” under President
> Abbas are clearly going to be limited to increasing Palestinian autonomy in the
> West Bank rather than creating a Palestinian state. It is ironic that Palestinians
> may achieve U.N. recognition of a unified and sovereign Palestinian state at almost > exactly the moment when such a state seems further away than ever.
> The danger is that Hamas will increasingly be seen as a potential negotiating partner
> by governments around the world. No doubt many think tanks and “experts” will be
> repeating that we must reach out, be realistic, and understand that Hamas must
> be “engaged” if peace is to be attained. If Hamas begins to be treated not as a
> terrorist group but as an entity equal in legitimacy to the PLO-and for that matter
> to Israel-it will be the first terrorist group to achieve such status without disarming > and while maintaining its loathsome charter and revanchist goals.
> What remains to be seen is whether those Hamas gains came at too high a cost for
> the group. Hamas is a terrorist organization that was able to fire at Tel Aviv
> and Jerusalem only because Iran supplied it with the Fajr longer-range missiles.
> But during this conflict Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi,
> consistently separated Egypt’s interests from those of Hamas. He did not go to Gaza
> during the war, did not break relations with Israel, and did not threaten to cancel
> the peace treaty. It was clear that he did not want the tail to wag the dog-did
> not want the leaders of 1.5 million Gazans to harm the interests of 85 million Egyptians.
> He did not want a ground war that might have forced his hand on relations with Israel,
> and he does not want to see acts of terrorism against Israel launched from Egyptian > territory.
> Significantly, Morsi’s position appears to be that of the MB as an institution.
> During the war, Khairat al-Shater, perhaps the single strongest leader in the Brotherhood
> (and its initial candidate for president), sharply criticized Hamas in a meeting
> of the MB leadership reported in the newspaper Al-Ahram. Al-Shater denounced Hamas
> for entangling Egypt in a potential conflict with Israel, and said the army must
> do a better job of stopping the smuggling of arms into Gaza. People who create
> crises between Egypt and the West and threaten the vital foreign aid Egypt needs > are working against Egypt’s interests, he said.
> If this separation of Hamas’s interests from Egypt’s means Egyptian soldiers will
> now police the Gaza-Sinai border and prevent Iran from shipping replacement missiles
> into Gaza, Hamas will have paid a heavy price for the week of conflict. Getting
> Egypt to close the smuggling tunnels and police the border should be a main goal
> of U.S. diplomacy. After the last Gaza war, in December 2008-January 2009, Egypt
> under President Mubarak failed completely in this task. It will be ironic if the
> new Muslim Brotherhood government does a better job (and one hopes a by-product > will be an end to Israeli mourning for Mubarak’s departure). > Egypt
> It must be said that Egypt is a winner in the conflict. It served as the capital
> of the Arab world and the center of Middle Eastern diplomacy during the war, with
> Secretary Clinton, U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, and officials from the Arab
> world, Turkey, and Europe shuttling in and out. Turkey and Qatar could not negotiate
> an agreement to end the fighting; Egypt did, because of its weight as the largest
> Arab nation, the legitimacy of its newly elected MB government, and its continuing
> ties with Israel. The last two weeks restored some of Egypt’s lost luster as the
> diplomatic center of the Arab world. The truce was announced in Cairo-not Doha > or Ankara.
> Israel
> Both Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerge as winners. Polls last
> week showed that Netanyahu’s support in Israel (which will hold elections on January
> 22) had risen, and conversations with Israeli leaders confirm the poll numbers.
> A large majority of Israelis supported the airstrikes on Gaza but also supported
> the decision not to go in on the ground. Netanyahu is widely viewed as having shown
> the proper combination of strength and caution, and none of his rivals broke into
> double digits in polls asking “who is fit to handle Israel’s security challenges”
> or “who should lead.” For this reason former prime minister Ehud Olmert will not
> (and perhaps by the time this article is published will have announced that he
> will not) try for a comeback by running against Netanyahu. Israelis have appreciated
> that Netanyahu avoided bombastic statements, and used the days of conflict to reach
> out to President Obama and restore a working relationship with him. Israelis realize
> this conflict did not “solve” the problem of Hamas control of Gaza and that in a
> few years there may be another round. But they did not expect Netanyahu to pull > off a magic act; they wanted sensible, competent leadership, and they got it.
> Israel was a winner for two reasons. First, the countries about which Israelis care-the
> United States, Canada, and European nations-understood Hamas made this war happen
> and Israel had no choice but to defend its population. These governments did not
> want to see a ground war and now credit the government of Israel with prudent management
> of the conflict. Netanyahu may not be personally popular, and of course most EU
> leaders favor Israel’s left-of-center parties, but Israel will have gained a reputation
> for moderation. Much of the European media may echo Hamas propaganda and dwell on
> injuries to civilians in Gaza, but the prime ministers and foreign ministers know > better.
> Second, it is a real gain for Israel that the supply of Fajr missiles by Iran to
> Hamas may remind European leaders and our own-as does the presence of Iranian Revolutionary
> Guards and Hezbollah soldiers in Syria-that Iran lies at the heart of the region’s
> troubles. Once the Israeli election is over and Netanyahu forms a new coalition,
> roughly around March 1, he will no doubt travel to Washington to discuss the central
> issue facing the Middle East and his own country: the Islamic Republic. The nuclear
> program is the top problem, but it is not the only one. Netanyahu will be able to
> remind the president of something that Gulf Arab leaders have insistently been saying:
> that the Iranian regime, and not just its nuclear program, is the problem. A nuclear
> deal that leaves Iran free to engage in subversion throughout the region, sending
> soldiers to Syria or missiles to Gaza, eliminates only one form of danger-though > the greatest and most pressing one.
> Rerun the Gaza war in your mind, only this time with Iran rolling out nuclear-tipped
> missiles and threatening that “an Israeli ground assault in Gaza would be viewed
> as an attack on all Muslims,” “the Zionist entity must be wiped off the map,” and
> similar threats. Just words today, but how does Israel handle them if Iran actually
> has a nuclear bomb and a workable delivery system? This war is likely to lead Israel’s
> leaders to press ahead with all their missile defense programs, but also to confirm > their belief that Iran must be stopped-at all costs.
> If one or two years from now Iran has attained a nuclear weapon and Hamas has a
> few hundred Fajr missiles in its warehouses, this war will rightly be seen as just
> one more step toward control of the region by radical forces and toward the undermining
> of Israel’s strategic situation. But if this week of conflict has persuaded Egypt’s
> new leaders that their border with Hamas must be policed, and has reminded Arabs,
> Israelis, and Americans alike that Iran must be stopped before it sows more conflicts
> in the region and gets the bomb, it will have proved a historic miscalculation by > Iran and Hamas.
> That outcome is possible, and depends substantially on what President Obama made
> of it all. He saw his “pivot to Asia” interrupted by war in the Middle East-and
> was forced to talk about Gaza when he spoke in Bangkok, and to break his secretary
> of state off the trip. The administration’s rhetoric, from Obama down, was solidly
> behind Israel throughout the war. What policy toward Iran that portends for 2013
> will determine whether Israel or the Islamic Republic emerges as the ultimate winner > or loser.
> Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign
> Relations. His new book, Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian > Conflict, is due out in December.
> ITEM 5a: Wayne Ma, Colum Murphy: China’s Iran Oil Imports Drop Further http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324712504578132491406940584.html?mod=WSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.kv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887324712504578132491406940584.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_World_LEFTSecondNews] > November 21, 2012, 8:46 a.m. ET
> China’s imports of Iranian crude oil are down by about one-fifth so far this year,
> a drop that puts the country in good position to avoid U.S. sanctions and head off > a diplomatic row with Washington.
> China has repeatedly defended its crude purchases from Iran, telling the U.S. it
> complies with existing U.N. resolutions. But October data released Wednesday showed
> Iran crude-oil imports off 23% from a year earlier, to 458,000 barrels a day, continuing > a year-long trend.
> China’s third-largest supplier of crude as recently as last year, after Saudi Arabia
> and Angola, Iran this year has slipped to No. 4-surpassed by Russia-shipping about > 426,000 barrels a day in the first 10 months of the year.
> October’s import numbers will be the last used by the U.S. State Department in deciding
> whether Beijing qualifies for a renewal of its waiver from sanctions, which expires
> Dec. 25. China won the exemption in late June, after the State Department determined
> that it had “significantly reduced” crude imports from Iran in the first half of
> the year. Renewal requires continued significant reductions. The State Department > says no decision has yet been made.
> The U.S. sanctions are designed to ratchet up economic pressure on Iran to guarantee
> its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, as Tehran contends. The sanctions
> ban companies that deal with Iran’s central bank from doing business in the U.S.
> “China will get the waiver again as imports do indeed seem to be down,” said Michal
> Meidan, an analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group. “The Obama administration
> will probably prefer not to challenge the new leadership in China if it has sufficient > ground for a waiver.”
> China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it purchases Iranian crude through
> “normal channels” and based on economic requirements. It reiterated that crude imports
> from Iran don’t harm third parties and that China won’t accept unilateral sanctions.
> Oil-industry insiders say the decline in Chinese imports appears to be partly an
> effect of the increased difficulty Iran has in shipping oil because of the global
> sanctions. Still, a top Chinese oil industry official nodded to the U.S. pressure > in a recent interview.
> In the first four months of 2012, China’s crude imports from Iran were down about
> 24% from a year earlier due to a commercial dispute between state-controlled China
> Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec Corp., and National Iranian Oil Co.,
> known as NIOC. Although imports recovered in May and June after the dispute was
> resolved, a European ban on insuring tankers carrying Iranian oil caused China’s > imports to drop again from July.
> In a rare admission of the problems Iran faces, Maziar Hojjati, managing director
> of the China office of NIOC, said in an interview last week that shipping difficulties
> related to sanctions contributed to lower crude exports to China earlier this year.
> Still, the company received indications from Chinese authorities that they had no
> problem keeping imports at current levels, Mr. Hojjati said. He added that NIOC
> expects to make up for the earlier reduced shipments to China in the coming months > now that some of the company’s shipping issues have been resolved. > “We are here to keep our market share in China,” Mr. Hojjati said.
> It isn’t clear whether China’s imports will drop further. The International Energy
> Agency said earlier this month that Iran’s crude exports to China were higher in
> October than September, at 565,000 barrels a day. The shipments are likely to appear > in China’s November import figures.
> By contrast, South Korea’s January-October imports were down 40% from a year earlier,
> and Japan’s January-September imports were down 38%. Indian refineries plan to cut > imports in the fiscal year that began on April 1 by 14% from a year earlier.
> Still, U.S. officials seem aware of the technical challenges Chinese refineries
> face in replacing heavy, sour Iranian crude with imports of different grades from
> elsewhere. Carlos Pascual, head of the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources,
> said in an interview last month that China appeared to be maintaining the reduced
> levels of Iranian imports that marked the first half of the year, which would most > likely signal another exemption.
> Chinese companies acknowledge the balancing act required over Iranian crude imports.
> They are keen not to upset Washington, which could throw up regulatory roadblocks > to their investing in the U.S., where oil production is booming.
> Sinopec, which earlier this year struck a $2.5 billion deal with Devon Energy to
> help develop shale fields in Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere, has an agreement with
> the U.S. to curtail crude imports from Iran, Chairman Fu Chengyu said in a recent > interview. He did not elaborate.
> Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies,
> a Washington think tank that has pushed for more sanctions against Iran, said China
> will likely receive a second exemption. The State Department’s focus, he said, is > shifting to other elements of Iran’s balance of payments.
> “The next area of attention will be on blanket bans of all trade with Iran’s energy, > shipbuilding, shipping and ports sectors,” he said.
> ITEM 6a: AP: Sudan Says It Foiled Coup Attempt http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578134941933400214.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LatestHeadlines
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.lv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887324352004578134941933400214.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_Opinion_LatestHeadlines] > Updated November 22, 2012, 2:11 p.m. ET
> KHARTOUM, Sudan-Sudanese authorities said they arrested 13 people Thursday, including
> the once-powerful head of national security, on suspicion of involvement in an apparent > military coup attempt.
> State-run Omdurman radio said a “subversive plot”-a term often used by Khartoum
> to refer to plans for a coup-was uncovered and aborted. Among those arrested was
> former head of National Security and Intelligence Services Lt. Gen. Salah Abdallah
> Gosh, according to remarks by Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman carried by > the state Sudan News Agency.
> The minister said that the 13 are being interrogated. “The government has decided
> to abort this plot just before the zero hour as a preventive measure to avoid entering
> the country into chaos,” Mr. Osman said, adding that there was evidence of plots > to target top leaders in government. He didn’t elaborate.
> Lt. Gen. Gosh was Sudan’s intelligence chief for 10 years before being promoted
> to security adviser in 2009. Once a member of the president’s inner circle, he was > fired as adviser in April 2011 for becoming critical of the regime.
> The general was said to have played a key role in supporting pro-government militias
> involved in Sudan’s Darfur conflict. More than 300,000 people have been killed in
> the conflict since rebels took up arms against the central government nearly 10
> years ago, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. Violence has tapered off, > but clashes continue.
> Also detained in connection with the alleged coup is Maj. Gen. Adil Al-Tayeb of
> military intelligence and Brig. Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, a field commander with the > Sudanese Armed Forces. No other names were released.
> Lt. Gen. Gosh became vocal in later years of his career, calling for talks among
> Sudanese political parties and challenging the No. 2 figure in the ruling National
> Congress Party, Nafi Ali Nafi. This prompted speculation that President Omar al-Bashir’s > ruling party was cracking from within.
> Last summer, Sudan crushed pro-democracy protests inspired by Arab Spring uprisings.
> Hundreds of protesters were arrested and detained for demanding the ouster of Mr.
> al-Bashir’s 23-year-old regime. His government is rapidly losing popularity at home
> for imposing painful economic austerity measures, while the president is wanted > by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
> ITEM 7a: Anne Gearan: With Clinton’s shuttle diplomacy success, focus turns to long-term
> Mideast solution http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/with-clintons-shuttle-diplomacy-success-focus-turns-to-long-term-mideast-solution/2012/11/21/bc6602b6-3411-11e2-9cfa-e41bac906cc9_story.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.nv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fworld%2Fnational-security%2Fwith-clintons-shuttle-diplomacy-success-focus-turns-to-long-term-mideast-solution%2F2012%2F11%2F21%2Fbc6602b6-3411-11e2-9cfa-e41bac906cc9_story.html]
> With Clinton’s shuttle diplomacy success, focus turns to long-term Mideast solution > By Anne Gearan, Published: November 21
> The Obama administration notched two diplomatic successes in one stroke with the > cease-fire announced Wednesday between Hamas and Israel.
> Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s shuttle diplomacy yielded a short-term
> victory that experts say may translate to greater diplomatic leverage for the administration > down the road.
> But the more important success for the administration is that Egyptian President > Mohamed Morsi, not Clinton, is getting most of the credit.
> Now the question is whether the United States can capi­tal­ize on the cease-fire
> and the role played by Morsi to help craft a broader peace agreement between Israel > and the Palestinians.
> An administration official said ending the week-long fighting between Israel and
> militants based in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was the most pressing concern. The
> official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic matters,
> said the next step will be turning that success into “a longer-term solution” for > the region.
> Dennis Ross, a former Mideast adviser to the administration, said it is too soon
> to tell whether the cease-fire will become a springboard to broader talks about > the creation of a Palestinian state.
> Israel is unlikely to budge on critical issues such as scaling back West Bank settlements
> before elections scheduled for January. For its part, the moderate Palestinian Authority,
> which governs the West Bank, appears set on resuming its bid for statehood at the > United Nations, a move opposed by Israel and the United States.
> Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, said Clinton’s success
> demonstrates that U.S. diplomatic influence in the region has been underutilized > since the Arab Spring revolutions upended the status quo.
> “The prevailing wisdom in Washington has been that the United States should not
> touch the Middle East peace process” because it consumes too much time and offers > too little chance of success, Kurtzer said.
> But, he said, relegating the core Mideast conflict to the back burner means that
> hostilities are likely to keep flaring up, as they did the past eight days. The
> resulting increase in violence demanded the attention of the president and Clinton,
> overshadowing President Obama’s trip to Asia and creating the need for some risky > emergency diplomacy.
> There are still many obstacles to a durable peace between the Palestinians and Israel.
> Although Obama has greater leverage in his second term in dealing with Israel, his
> relations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are clouded by U.S. > opposition to the Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition.
> In addition, the internal Palestinian split between the Palestinian Authority and
> Hamas complicates attempts to reach a comprehensive agreement. Such a deal is likely
> to require Morsi and his government to cooperate with the United States and other > regional players.
> For that reason, several analysts said the most hopeful long-term benefit from the
> cease-fire may be that the United States and Egypt can still work in tandem. This
> is particularly true because Turkey, which often serves as the U.S. interlocutor > in Middle East affairs, is involved in a bitter dispute with Israel.
> “The Egyptians did what probably only they could have done,” Kurtzer said. “We do
> not have relations with Hamas, and Turkey took itself out of the game. You’re left
> with nobody else on the playing field, and Egypt did this as well as anybody could > have.”
> Morsi’s willingness to buck the most anti-Israeli elements of his constituency by
> asking for a cease-fire and engaging with Israel demonstrates what current and former > U.S. officials describe as his pragmatic style.
> The Egyptian president’s direct intercession with Hamas was a relief to U.S. officials,
> who are prohibited from negotiating directly with the group because Washington considers > it a terrorist organization.
> Morsi’s role also eased concern about his government’s first move during the conflict:
> dispatching the Egyptian prime minister to Gaza to offer what initially appeared
> to be moral support to the militants. The trip prompted some congressional Republicans
> to threaten to hold up future economic aid to Egypt over the objections of the State > Department.
> Any chipping away of a 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty threatens billions in U.S. > aid that Cairo badly needs.
> “If there is a tension between ideological tensions and economic imperatives, [Morsi] > comes down on the side of economic imperatives,” Ross said.
> The administration also sees the potential for further isolating Iran. “I don’t
> want to sound too rosy, but it is interesting and bad for Iran if Hamas is turning
> to Egypt and not to Iran,” the administration official said. “It’s a big diminution > in [Iran’s] influence.”
> ITEM 8a: Michael Birnbaum: Egypt’s President Morsi takes sweeping new powers http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/egypts-president-morsi-takes-sweeping-new-powers/2012/11/22/8d87d716-34cb-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html?hpid=z2
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.ov85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fworld%2Fegypts-president-morsi-takes-sweeping-new-powers%2F2012%2F11%2F22%2F8d87d716-34cb-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html%3Fhpid%3Dz2] > Thursday, November 22, 12:53 PM
> CAIRO – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi declared extensive political powers for
> himself Thursday, taking broad and sweeping control of his country a day after > he won international praise for fostering a cease-fire in Gaza.
> Under the terms of Thursday’s decree, Morsi said that all of the decisions he has
> made since he took office – and until a new constitution is adopted – were final
> and not subject to appeal or review. He declared the retrial of high officials
> accused of the deaths of protesters during the country’s 2011 revolution, a measure
> that appeared targeted at former leader Hosni Mubarak. And he dismissed Egypt’s > Mubarak-era prosecutor general, immediately swearing in a new one.
> The announcement, which was read on state television by Morsi’s spokesman, Yasser
> Ali, late Thursday afternoon and broadcast repeatedly, appears to leave few if any
> checks on the president’s power. The military, not long ago a powerful weight against
> the executive branch, was sidelined in August in a similarly sudden decision when
> Morsi fired the top ranks in a single sweep. And Egypt’s short-lived parliament
> was dissolved by the country’s top court shortly before Morsi, a political Islamist, > took office.
> Some commentators on Egyptian television quickly began bandying about words like
> “dictatorship.” Protesters were massing in Tahrir Square, some with posters containing
> split images of the faces of Mubarak and Morsi. Meanwhile, a group of Morsi supporters
> from his Muslim Brotherhood movement gathered elsewhere in central Cairo to show > their support for the decision.
> “If a danger arises that threatens the January 25 revolution,” the proclamation
> read, the president “can take any procedures and preparations that he sees necessary > to face this danger.”
> ITEM 9a: James Dorsey: Qatar faces double-barreled attack as Singapore company moves
> into the firing line http://mideastsoccer.blogspot.com/2012/11/qatar-faces-double-barreled-attack-as.html
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.pv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fmideastsoccer.blogspot.com%2F2012%2F11%2Fqatar-faces-double-barreled-attack-as.html] > Tuesday, November 20, 2012
> Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup faces a double-barreled attack
> with a decision by world soccer body FIFA to investigate the Gulf state’s bid,
> fresh allegations of alleged attempted bribery, and imminent trade union actions
> in protest of Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers involved in the construction > of World Cup-related infrastructure.
> FIFA’s investigation comes on the back of a decision to expand its enquiry into
> bribery charges against its suspended vice-president, Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari
> national who has also been suspended as president of the Asian Football Confederation
> (AFC), into Mr. Bin Hammam’s financial management of the Asian soccer body. The
> enquiry is likely to focus on what an internal audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers
> (PwC) described as his management of an AFC sundry account as his personal account
> as well as the negotiation and terms of a $1 billion master rights agreement with
> Singapore-based World Sports Group concluded by the soccer body on Mr. Bin Hammam’s > authority.
> A Singapore court this week instructed veteran journalist and soccer scholar James
> M. Dorsey to reveal his sources for his reporting on the audit and Mr. Bin Hammam’s > relationship with WSG. Mr. Dorsey has not commented on the ruling.
> FIFA made its decision to investigate Qatar public after The Sunday Times handed
> over evidence that constituted the basis for its reporting that the Gulf state
> had discussed sponsoring to the tune of $1 million a gala dinner organized by Samson > Adamu, the son of Nigerian FIFA executive committee member Amos Adamu.
> Mr. Adamu Sr was banned for three years from involvement in professional soccer
> in 2010 in the run-up to the FIFA vote following a Sunday Times undercover investigation
> that secretly filmed him offering to sell his vote on the 2018 World Cup for a payment
> of $1.3 million into his personal bank account, which he said he would use to build > football pitches in his native Nigeria.
> The newspaper quoted Hassan al-Thawadi, the deputy head and main spokesman of the
> Qatari World Cup organizing committee, as confirming initial negotiations about
> the sponsorship of the dinner but insisting that those talks were ultimately broken > off after taking FIFA bid rules into consideration.
> Qatar has so far successfully fended off repeated allegations of wrong doing in
> its effort to win the World Cup hosting rights that was far better funded than the > bids by its competitors, the United States, Australia and South Korea.
> Qatar faces in addition to the FIFA investigation escalating action by the International
> Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) that has 175 million members in 153 countries because
> of what it describes as inhuman conditions for foreign workers that violate international
> labor standards. The ITUC is expected to make its rejection of Qatari efforts to
> improve the material conditions of foreign workers, who account for a majority
> of the Gulf state’s population, as insufficient because they do not include recognition
> of the right to free association and collective bargaining at a climate change conference > that opens in Doha later this month.
> “The Qataris are offering short term conditions that make a difference but for the
> international union movement this is not about fixing bedrooms, It is about freedom
> of association and the right to collective bargaining – fundamental rights. When
> you have trade unions and collective bargaining all other things get fixed. Work
> and living conditions are part of collective bargaining,” said a source familiar > with trade union thinking.
> The ITUC has launched an online campaign calling for a boycott of Qatar if it fails > to adhere to international labor standards.
> Construction industry sources said that Qatar was trying to fend off the ITUC’s
> rights demands by ensuring that companies enforce safety and security standards,
> pay workers on time and ensuring that they are properly housed. The sources said
> Qatar had reduced the number of workers allowed to live in one room from eight to
> four and that it was building a compound for the laborers with modern residential > units as well as shops and cinemas.
> The FIFA investigation of Qatar intersects with that of Mr. Bin Hammam given widespread
> skepticism about Qatari assertions that he was not involved in the World Cup bid
> despite the fact that he was the most important figure in Asian soccer and one > of the most important people in world soccer.
> Mr. Bin Hammam has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has charged that he is the
> victim of a vendetta by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, whom he last year challenged
> in FIFA presidential elections. Mr. Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy after he was > accused of seeking to buy the votes of Caribbean soccer officials.
> Sources close to FIFA ethics investigator Michael J. Garcia described the former
> US district attorney as a stickler for detail who played everything by the book.
> The sources said Mr. Garcia was unlikely to leave a stone unturned and would therefore > look closely at all allegations raised in the PwC report.
> The report, beyond discussing Mr. Bin Hammam’s financial management of the AFC and
> negotiation of the WSG contract, raised questions about two payments totaling $14
> million by a WSG shareholder to Mr. Bin Hammam’s AFC sundry account prior to the > signing of the agreement.
> The report said that “it is highly unusual for funds (especially in the amounts
> detailed here) that appear to be for the benefit of Mr Hammam personally, to be
> deposited to an organization’s bank account. In view of the recent allegations that
> have surrounded Mr Hammam, it is our view that there is significant risk that…the
> AFC may have been used as a vehicle to launder funds and that the funds have been
> credited to the former President for an improper purpose (Money Laundering risk)”
> or that “the AFC may have been used as a vehicle to launder the receipt and payment > of bribes.”
> Mr. Bin Hammam reportedly furnished FIFA investigators in September with his own
> independent expert’s report from London accountants Smith and Williamson into the
> AFC account that was said to include a line-by-line explanation of all expenditure.
> Rather than opting for transparency, WSG has sought to squash all reporting on its
> relationship to Mr. Bin Hammam and the AFC with its legal proceedings against Mr.
> Dorsey. Its refusal to comment on the PwC report has been reinforced by the Singapore
> court decision. In its only comment publicly available, WSG said in an August 28
> letter in which it initially threatened this reporter with legal action that “PWC
> are incorrect and misconceived in suggesting that the MRA (master rights agreement)
> was undervalued. They have neither considered the terms of the contract correctly, > the market, nor the circumstances in which it was negotiated.”
> James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International > Studies and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog.
> ITEM 10a: Abigail Hauslohner, Ernesto Londono: Hamas leaders emerge stronger than
> ever, Palestinians say http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/hamas-leaders-emerge-stronger-than-ever-palestinians-say/2012/11/22/1096ecb4-34d6-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html?hpid=z1
> [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=awf7wjlab.0.qv85xjlab.wus7micab.3290&ts=S0837&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fworld%2Fmiddle_east%2Fhamas-leaders-emerge-stronger-than-ever-palestinians-say%2F2012%2F11%2F22%2F1096ecb4-34d6-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html%3Fhpid%3Dz1] > Thursday, November 22, 4:17 PM
> GAZA CITY – A week of bombardment by Israel has pulverized government buildings
> and militant weapons stores, and left 161 Palestinians dead. But the Gaza Strip’s
> Hamas leadership has emerged stronger than ever, Palestinians in Gaza said Thursday.
> Hamas, along with the masked fighters of other Gaza militant groups, held boisterous
> victory rallies across the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the day after an Egypt-brokered > cease-fire with Israel took effect.
> Amid parades of flags and political bombast, each of the strip’s militant factions
> hailed what they called a triumph for the Palestinian resistance and a new era for > Palestinian unity.
> But the separate public appearances by each militant group – rather than one unified > rally – raised questions about the sturdiness of the cease-fire.
> Hamas has struggled to control extremist offshoots within the coastal enclave, and
> it was unclear whether the new truce had rendered the group any more capable of
> preventing a breach by other groups that possess long-range rockets, including Islamic > Jihad, which participated in the cease-fire negotiations in Cairo.
> As the truce neared the 24-hour mark Thursday evening, many spoke with anticipation
> of the next “phase” of the agreement, in which Hamas plans to negotiate an end to
> Israel’s blockade of the strip and wider mobility for Palestinians in the border
> zone, where Israel maintains its right to shoot those who come within one mile.
> Some Palestinians, including militants and top government officials, warned that
> Israel, which labels Hamas a terrorist organization, might back down from the secondary > clauses of the cease-fire deal.
> “If they respect it, we’ll respect it,” said Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas spokesman. But > he expressed doubt that Israel would stick to its word.
> “I am doubtful about the implementation of this plan,” he said. And if the other
> terms of the truce are not implemented, the agreement will be “open” for Hamas > to violate, he said.
> The Israeli military issued a statement Wednesday night outlining the damage it
> inflicted on Hamas’s military and civilian infrastructure during the eight-day assault.
> Its planes and warships struck 1,500 sites, including 19 that the military identified
> as “senior command centers, operational command control centers and Hamas senior-rank
> headquarters.” It blasted more than 200 smuggling tunnels and 26 weapons storage > and manufacturing facilities, the military said.
> But a senior Israeli military official said the crackdown did not come close to
> a military defeat. “They still have significant capabilities to continue this campaign
> again from a military point of view,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. > The Hamas-Iran link
> The specter of support to Palestinian militants from Iran also loomed Thursday, > as Hamas and Islamic Jihad thanked Iran for supplying them with weapons.
> Relations between Hamas and Iran appeared to have frayed this year when Hamas cut
> ties to Syria, another Iranian ally. But the statements of gratitude on Thursday,
> as well as reciprocal remarks from Tehran, signaled that the alliance could be on > the mend.
> In Gaza, many Palestinians said the Islamist group’s role in rallying regional support
> around the Palestinian cause had exposed the impotence of their political rivals.
> Fatah, the secular party that dominates the ranks of the Palestinian Authority and
> governs the West Bank under Israeli occupation, has done little to advance a peace > treaty despite Israeli recognition and U.S. backing.
> By drawing Israel to the negotiating table this week, Hamas has effectively rendered
> the Palestinian Authority irrelevant, said Ghassan Khatib, a political scientist > and former spokesman for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
> Hamas has demonstrated “that it is part of the future, part of the changes taking
> place in Arab countries, and that the Palestinian Authority is part of the past,” > Khatib said.
> Burgeoning popularity
> But even as Hamas’s popularity surged and other Palestinian factions, including
> the Palestinian Authority, sought to show solidarity with the group Thursday, the
> separate rallies of Gaza’s various masked militants also raised questions about > the limits of Hamas’s control once the dust settles.
> But Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, along with the leaders of Islamic Jihad
> and Fatah’s militant wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said the cease-fire was > the product of an agreement reached among Palestinian factions.
> “All the Palestinian factions will commit to the agreement, and we will follow up
> with Egypt to see how far [Israel] commits,” Haniyeh said in a speech before his > Gaza cabinet and reporters Thursday.
> Haniyeh attributed Hamas’s proclaimed victory, in part, to a changed region that
> Israel had vastly underestimated. Israel “staged this war in a changing region. > Egypt has changed, and the whole Muslim world has changed,” he said.
> The region’s newly democratic countries, particularly Egypt, had provided Hamas
> with formidable backing in its challenge to Israel, he said, adding that Israel’s > week-long air offensive was “shortsighted.
> Many other Gazans agreed with Haniyeh’s statement as the territory hummed to life
> again Thursday with the sounds of construction and civilians returning to work.
> Taxis, cement mixers and dump trucks plied the strip’s pockmarked streets. And banks > and businesses reopened to a relieved citizenry.
> In the northern Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military had ordered an evacuation
> Tuesday night, farmers returned to crater-marked land with newfound respect for
> the militant groups that they said had headed off an Israeli ground invasion with > Iran-supplied long-range rockets.
> Some also expressed hope that Hamas’s burgeoning regional clout could soon end Gaza’s > isolation.
> “Israel besieged the Hamas government to make people hate Hamas. And in the beginning,
> they really did,” said a strawberry farmer who declined to give his name because > he hopes to cross the border one day.
> “But after this war, even people in the West Bank are loving Hamas now,” he said.