Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, November 25th, 2008
US, IAEA chief clash over Syria By GEORGE JAHN
VIENNA, Austria (AP) — The chief U.N. nuclear inspector said Monday that Syria had a right to his agency’s help in planning a power-producing atomic reactor, in what diplomats described as a rejection of U.S.-led efforts to block the aid.
The clash reflected tensions between Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the U.N. nuclear agency, and key Western nations over whether Syria should be given potentially sensitive nuclear guidance at a time when it is being investigated.
Russia, China and developing nations also back the aid project, said diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the International Atomic Energy Agency talks.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it was “totally inappropriate, we believe, given the fact that Syria is under investigation by the IAEA for building a nuclear reactor outside the bounds of its international legal commitments.
“And then for the IAEA to be involved in providing technical information concerning nuclear activities would seem to be contradictory, if not ironic,” McCormack said.
IAEA chief says no basis for denying Syria help on nuclear plant
By Simon Morgan
AFP, 24 November 2008
The head of the UN atomic watchdog said on Monday that the IAEA has no legal right to deny Syria help in a nuclear power project, as called for by a number of western states.
“A state has the fullest right of membership until proven otherwise,” Mohamed ElBaradei told a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) technical assistance and cooperation committee at a closed-door meeting here.
“People and countries are innocent until proven guilty,” he said in comments, a recording of which were obtained by AFP. “And we continue to act on that basis…”
Norks May Have Shipped Syria U Fuel
By James Acton
Armscontrolwonk.com, 21 November 2008
….A source summarized for us some of the information the IAEA has that didn’t make its recent report on Syria as well as its working hypotheses. Specifically, it appears that the uranium found in Syria may have come from fuel imported from North Korea. But, all in good time…
Number one, our source stressed that the composite overhead imagery the IAEA has of the site is very good, both in terms of its resolution, frequency and reliability—five states apparently contributed images.
Onto the uranium…
Syria’s Reactor: Can the IAEA Act Effectively?
By Patrick Clawson and David Schenker
The Washington Institute on Near East Policy, 21 November 2008
“within the context of any U.S.-brokered deal, Washington should ensure that tangible and irreversible Syrian concessions coincide with — if not precede — Israeli territorial withdrawals……..The IAEA can change this perception by acting decisively on Syria during its next meeting. And in the process, it just might generate enough credibility regarding IAEA effectiveness to forestall an airstrike — Israeli or American — against Tehran’s nuclear facilities…”
US: Syria should not mimic Iran nuclear probe block
Middle East News, 21 November 2008
A senior United States diplomat in Vienna called on Syria on Friday to answer the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) questions about an alleged secret nuclear programme, and not to follow Iran’s path of stalling a probe of its nuclear activities.
‘Syria is not Iran, and we do not seek to make Syria into Iran,’ Gregory Schulte, the US ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna, said in a statement. ‘But this requires Syria to cooperate with the IAEA,’ he said. …’The Director General’s report reinforces the assessment of my government that Syria was secretly building a nuclear reactor in its eastern desert and thereby violating its IAEA safeguards obligations,’ Schulte said. Although the IAEA report did not draw any conclusions, it said images taken before and after the bombing ‘are similar to what may be found in connection with a reactor site.’ ….
A senior official close to the IAEA has said that while he could not rule out this scenario, the uranium found was not of the type normally used in missiles. …
An Israeli-Palestinian agreement: Forget about it
Aaron David Miller in Jpost:
… a conflict-ending agreement between Israelis and Palestinians may no longer be possible. … So what to do? My days of giving advice to Israelis and Palestinians are over. I would, however, respectfully suggest to President-elect Barck Obama, in my capacity as an American who doesn’t want to see America fail again, that he recognize there’s no deal in this negotiation now. Manage it as best you can: help support an Israeli-Hamas ceasefire, train PA security forces, pour economic aid into the West Bank and Gaza, even nurture Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the big issues, but don’t think you can solve it; you can’t.
Instead, go all-out for an Israeli-Syrian agreement which is doable and will enhance American credibility to confront Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran over time with tough choices, and improve America’s regional standing. Then, perhaps, your chances on the Israeli-Palestinian track may be better. In the interim, I’m afraid sadly that the bottom line for Israelis and Palestinians is not a good one: Israelis will have their state, but Palestinians will never let them completely enjoy it.
Agence France Presse (AFP) November 23, 2008
Israel should pursue peace talks with Syria next year to help contain perceived threats from Iran’s nuclear program and Hamas, says an internal Israeli government report, which also highlighted the need to halt Palestinian democracy. Compiled by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s National Security Council (NSC) and published in part by an Israeli newspaper on Sunday, the report argues for “paying the heavy price” of an accord with Syria – the return of the
Occupied Golan Heights in line with international law.
Defense establishment paper: Golan for Syria peace, plan for Iran strike
By Barak Ravid
Haaretz.com, 23 November 2008
A defense establishment paper recommends making contingency plans to attack Iran, reaching an agreement with Syria that includes leaving the Golan Heights and preventing new elections in the Palestinian Authority, even if this means a confrontation with the United States.
The paper will be presented to the cabinet next month as part of the National Security Council’s annual situation assessment. Additionally, it warns of a possible collapse of the PA, which would effectively kill the two-state solution.
“Iran’s threat to Israel’s survival” is at the top of the paper’s list of threats, followed by the “strategic threat” of long-range missiles and rockets owned by various countries in the region….It also recommends close cooperation with the U.S. to prevent a deal between Washington and Tehran that would undermine Israel’s interests.”
the paper recommends “preventing elections in the PA, even at the cost of a confrontation with the U.S. and the international community.” Israel should support moderate factions in Lebanon in next year’s scheduled parliamentary elections…The paper proposes various steps to strengthen Israel’s ties with moderate Sunni Arab countries, and especially Saudi Arabia. “Israel must examine ways to expand its dialogue with Saudi Arabia on various shared interests,”
The paper says Israel has a limited “window” in which to act before Iran obtains nuclear arms and regional hegemony. Israel must therefore establish a military option against Iran, in case other countries abandon the struggle. The defense establishment advises the cabinet to “work discreetly on contingency plans to deal with a nuclear Iran.”
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton would seek diplomatic solutions to problems her husband and President George W. Bush largely failed to solve, from North Korea’s nuclear program to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the U.S. standoff with Iran.
Sen. Clinton’s international stature would help gain the attention and cooperation of world leaders, say current and former U.S. diplomats. Even the former first lady’s critics acknowledge that her tenacity and attention to detail could make her an effective chief American diplomat.
Still, Sen. Clinton’s foreign-policy doctrine, as outlined during the presidential campaign, is considerably to the right of President-elect Barack Obama’s. The two could form an effective good-cop, bad-cop combination, supporters say. Others fear a reprise of the ideological battles between the White House and State Department that marked President Bush’s administration…
Richard Haass, a Scowcroft protégé and former State Department official, could be tapped for a senior National Security Council, State Department or intelligence position. Mr. Haass currently runs the Council on Foreign Relations.Other prominent Republicans with close ties to Mr. Obama — including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed the Democrat in the final days of the campaign, and Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — share Mr. Scowcroft’s philosophy…”
Emanuel’s Record on Israel Is More Dovish Than the Headlines Suggest
By Nathan Guttman
A close examination of Rahm Emanuel’s voting record during three terms as a congressman from Illinois, and his involvement with Middle East issues during the Clinton administration, paints a complex picture of the next president’s gatekeeper. Though known for close ties with the Israelis, Emanuel had never given them a free pass and has consistently supported a dovish policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
…There are still those in Washington’s corridors of power who want to reduce Iraq to being an American puppet state, like Jordan or Egypt, nations governed through a corrosive mix of covert intelligence and military support spoon-fed to a permanent oligarchy. Iraq will not accept this….
The ‘Good War’ Isn’t Worth Fighting
By RORY STEWART
The New York Times, 23 November 2008
“…The financial crisis is a more immediate threat to United States power and to other states; environmental catastrophe is more dangerous for the world. And even from the perspective of terrorism, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are more lethal….President-elect Obama’s emphasis on Afghanistan and his desire to send more troops and money there is misguided. Overestimating its importance distracts us from higher priorities, creates an unhealthy dynamic with the government of Afghanistan and endangers the one thing it needs — the stability that might come from a patient, limited, long-term relationship with the international community…..
A sudden surge of foreign troops and cash will be unhelpful and unsustainable. It would take 20 successful years to match Pakistan’s economy, educational levels, government or judiciary — and Pakistan is still not stable. Nor, for that matter, are northeastern or northwestern India, despite that nation’s great economic and political successes.
We will not be able to eliminate the Taliban from the rural areas of Afghanistan’s south, so we will have to work with Afghans to contain the insurgency instead. All this is unpleasant for Western politicians who dream of solving the fundamental problems and getting out. They will soon be tempted to give up…”
Hezbollah Seeks to Marshal the Piety of the Young
By ROBERT F. WORTH
New York Times, 20 November 2008
…. “You are our leader!” the boys chant in unison, as a Hezbollah official walks to a podium and addresses them with a Koranic invocation. “We are your men!”
This is the vanguard of Hezbollah’s youth movement, the Mahdi Scouts. Some of the graduates gathered at this ceremony will go on to join Hezbollah’s guerrilla army, fighting Israel in the hills of southern Lebanon. Others will work in the party’s bureaucracy. The rest will probably join the fast-growing and passionately loyal base of support that has made Hezbollah the most powerful political, military and social force in Lebanon.
At a time of religious revival across the Islamic world, intense piety among the young is nothing unusual. But in Lebanon, Hezbollah — the name means the party of God — has marshaled these ambient energies for a highly political project: educating a younger generation to continue its military struggle against Israel. Hezbollah’s battlefield resilience has made it a model for other militant groups across the Middle East, including Hamas. And that success is due, in no small measure, to the party’s extraordinarily comprehensive array of religion-themed youth and recruitment programs…..
Assad awards convicted murderer Kuntar Syria’s highest medal
AP, 24 November 2008
Syrian President Bashar Assad has awarded former Lebanese prisoner Samir Kuntar the country’s highest medal for spending nearly three decades in an Israeli jail. He was imprisoned in 1979 after he was convicted of one of the grisliest attacks in Israeli history – killing a man in front of his four-year-old daughter, and then killing the girl herself by crushing her skull. Kuntar and four Hezbollah guerrillas were freed in July in exchange for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasswer and Eldad Regev, two Israel Defense Forces soldiers captured by the militant Hezbollah group in 2006. Their capture sparked a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah.
U.S. alone critical of Syria at Iraq conference
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
Reuters, 23 November 2008
The United States stood alone at a conference on Sunday in accusing host Syria of sheltering militants attacking Iraq, while other countries adopted a more conciliatory tone, delegates said.
“The American diplomat’s speech was blunt and short. The United States was the only country at the conference to criticise Syria openly,” one of the delegates said. … Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous said Syria was a “victim of terrorism” and that it would not allow any attack on any individual living in its territory, the delegates said. “Arnous chose not to respond directly to the U.S. charge, but emphasised that Iraq’s stability was in the interest of Syria,” …
Over the last few months, Israel and Syria—through Turkish mediation—have resumed some sort of peace talks. Despite the volume and frequency of these overtures at the moment, this round of “peacemaking” will not break precedent; meaningful progress is highly unlikely. Instead, it fits a pattern of previous such efforts—overtures which led nowhere or even ended in the opposite, namely escalation (as in 1995-1996 and 1998-1999). Neither the Israeli nor the Syrian government is currently positioned to enter real peace talks. But each, for its own reasons, has a great momentary interest in talking about talks with great vigor. ….
Scowcroft Protégés on Obama’s Radar
By YOCHI J. DREAZEN and SIOBHAN GORMAN
The Wall Street Journal, 24 November 2008
Many of the Republicans emerging as potential members of the Obama administration have professional and ideological ties to Brent Scowcroft, a former national-security adviser turned public critic of the Bush White House.
Mr. Scowcroft spoke by phone with President-elect Barack Obama last week, the latest in a months-long series of conversations between the two men about defense and foreign-policy issues, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The relationship between the president-elect and the Republican heavyweight suggests that Mr. Scowcroft’s views, which place a premium on an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, might hold sway in the Obama White House…