NEWS & VIEWS ROUNDUP & EDITOR’S COMMENTS: July 5

Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Earlier this year Meir Dagan, Mossad’s director since 2002, held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

The Israeli press has already carried unconfirmed reports that high-ranking officials, including Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, held meetings with Saudi colleagues. The reports were denied by Saudi officials.

“The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,” a diplomatic source said last week. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — Let’s suppose that the Sunday Times reporter and former Israeli military intelligence officer, Uzi Mahnaimi, broke a major story here. What are we to understand? That Israel secretly clinched a crucial deal with the Saudis and then thought this would be a great way of applying pressure on Iran if leaked to the media?

I don’t know — I suppose this could all be part of a clever campaign to keep the Iranians guessing. Maybe this “tacit agreement” is a kind of don’t-ask-don’t-tell and the Israelis feel confident that the Saudis will maintain an absolute silence. I’m inclined to believe, however, that if the Israelis really did have a secret understanding with the Saudis on this, this would be the most closely guarded secret imagineanable. We wouldn’t be getting a preview through one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers.

Iranian details alleged fraud

Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition candidate in last month’s disputed election, released documents Saturday detailing a campaign of alleged fraud by supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that assured his reelection, while an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader accused Mousavi of treason.

Hossein Shariatmadari, a special adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused Mousavi of being a “foreign agent” working for the United States and a member of a “fifth column” determined to topple Iran’s Islamic system of governance. The accusation of treason was the highest and most direct issued by an Iranian official since the June 12 election.

Many in Iran say that government forces are laying the groundwork for arresting Mousavi, who has not been seen in public in more than a week.

In a 24-page document posted on his Web site, Mousavi’s special committee studying election fraud accused influential Ahmadinejad supporters of handing out cash bonuses and food, increasing wages, printing millions of extra ballots and other acts in the run-up to the vote. [continued…]

Leading clerics defy ayatollah on disputed Iran election

The most important group of religious leaders in Iran called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country’s supreme leader and the most public sign of a major split in the country’s clerical establishment.

A statement by the group, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, represents a significant, if so far symbolic, setback for the government and especially the authority of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose word is supposed to be final. The government has tried to paint the opposition and its top presidential candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, as criminals and traitors, a strategy that now becomes more difficult — if not impossible.

“This crack in the clerical establishment, and the fact they are siding with the people and Moussavi, in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic,” said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. “Remember, they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei.” [continued…]

Al Jazeera English launches in first major US cable market

The English-language cousin of the Qatar based news channel Al Jazeera launched yesterday in the Washington D.C. area after signing its first major U.S. cable deal with non-commercial MHz Networks last week.

The MHz deal means 2.3 million subscribers will now have access to the channel, adding to the 140 million households currently receiving Al Jazeera English worldwide.

Al Jazeera English is available in 40 countries, including Israel, but it’s the first time Al Jazeera English (AJE) has entered such a large US market, generally acknowledged as the world’s most important English-language cable market.

Previously, AJE had been available only in two U.S. markets – Burlington, Vermont and Toledo, Ohio, and cable networks in the U.S. had historically refused to carry the channel because of its association with Al Jazeera’s Arabic language news channel. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — Great news that America’s Berlin Wall for the media is starting to crumble — though needless to say, there’s nothing to read about this in the US media. Are all the TV producers and news editors praying that if they keep quiet enough, Al Jazeera will die a quiet death in DC and never threaten the myopia and complacency that allows American journalism to operate so smoothly?

For those who contemptuously view AJE is some kind of news upstart that doesn’t need to be viewed too seriously, it’s worth noting that they already have 69 news bureaus around the world — more than the BBC or CNN! And they’re just about to add ten more.

Iran: on both sides the hawks circle, spoiling for a fight

The furore over Iran’s election has imperilled prospects for a diplomatic engagement between Tehran and Washington, on both sides of the equation. And as long as the White House remains under pressure from hawks in Washington and Israel to force an end to Iran’s uranium enrichment programme by any means possible, the weakening of prospects for diplomatic engagement raises the risk of war.

Barack Obama, to his credit, largely rebuffed calls to talk tough on Iran, recognising that empty rhetoric would only assuage feelings of impotence in the US while making things worse for the Iranian opposition. He maintained a realist’s disciplined focus on the key issues in the US-Iranian relationship: those where he may be in a position to influence the outcome, unlike the fate of the Iranian opposition, about which he can do little. Regardless of who wins Iran’s power struggle, Mr Obama will have to deal with them, first and foremost on the nuclear issue. [continued…]

Iran’s green wave

Just before midnight on a Friday evening a week before Iran’s much-disputed June 12 election, the initial tremors of the earthquake that has shaken the country to its core were palpable deep in south Tehran, a gritty, working-class section of the city with a reputation for being a stronghold of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Past shuttered shops and empty, debris-strewn sidewalks, a late-night stream of cars, trucks and motorcycles, engines revving, horns honking, roared along the wide boulevard. From open car windows emerged shouts and cheers, raised fists and hands brandishing posters of opposition contender Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s bearded, smiling visage. In the traffic ahead of us, a ramshackle open-air panel truck transported at least two dozen Ahmadinejad supporters clad in T-shirts, jeering at their opponents. As I traveled north from sprawling Imam Khomeini Square up to Ferdowsi Square and on the miles-long Vali Asr Street, the scene was similar. In a country not known for street politics, the tableau was stunning. My Iranian companion, an older man with years of experience in his country’s affairs, smiled and shook his head. “This is something new,” he said. [continued…]

Iran’s Ahmadinejad faces diplomatic isolation

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can in one instant appear the diplomatic equivalent of damaged goods and in the next a confident leader whose bellicose speeches leave the West wondering how to deal with him and his perplexing nation now that he’s won a much-disputed reelection.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev publicly greeted Ahmadinejad at a recent meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but did not grant him a private meeting as he had the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Belarus, the Iranian leader was met not by President Alexander Lukashenko, but by the speaker of the upper house of parliament. [continued…]

Nuclear watchdog IAEA elects Japanese diplomat as its leader

After a months-long deadlock and half a dozen inconclusive votes, the world’s atomic energy watchdog on Thursday elected as its leader a Japanese diplomat described as colorless by foes and competent by allies.

Yukiya Amano, formerly Japan’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, will serve as director-general of the United Nations agency when Mohamed ElBaradei, an outspoken Egyptian diplomat, retires this year. [continued…]

A mother’s lament

If Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari were not being held in a Tehran prison without formal charges, without access to a lawyer, without being allowed to see even his mother, there would be no one better to tell the story of an Iranian like him and the tragedies that his family has suffered in the last few years.

“I don’t know when these terrible things are going to stop happening,” 83-year-old Molouk Bahari said, amazed, angry, and agonizing after Maziar was arrested at the family home in Tehran early on the morning of June 21. He is the last real emotional support left in her life. “He was doing nothing wrong. He was doing his job,” she said. “There is no reason for him to be held like this.” [continued…]

‘Iran trial’ for UK embassy staff

Some UK embassy staff detained in Tehran and accused of inciting protests after disputed elections will face trial, a top Iranian cleric says.

Guardians Council chief Ahmad Jannati said: “Naturally they will be put on trial, they have made confessions.” [continued…]

Trying to find a new road to his lost home

Most people, even in the Palestinian territories and in Israel, had never heard of Khaled Meshaal until Israeli Mossad agents attempted to assassinate him in Jordan one day in September, 1997.

The agents, bearing falsified Canadian passports, bungled the job and created an international incident. Outraged that the attack was carried out on his soil, King Hussein of Jordan responded by demanding, among other things, that Israel supply the antidote to the poison they had used.

In the aftermath, the world focused on the man at the centre of all the attention, who was then a senior figure in the militant Palestinian Hamas movement and is now at its helm.

Few Palestinians even today have met Mr. Meshaal, because he has lived outside the territory where he was born for 42 of his 53 years. But they are seeing more of him on television now, talking with Israel about a truce after the recent Gaza invasion, talking with the rival Palestinian Fatah party about reconciliation and – as of last week – talking to the Arab world about the future of the peace process. [continued…]

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Comments

  1. DE Teodoru says:

    Under Mossad manurization is fact that Saudis would kill two birds with one stone as both Israel and Iran would suffer from an Israeli strike on nuclear instalations. Better for Israel that Iran get nukes and it exchanges nuclear deterrent umbrella to Arabs for normal economic and diplomatic relations.

  2. DE Teodoru says: