Helana Cobban on Israel's motives in attacking Iran: "There is good reason to believe that the goal would be not the direct physical destruction/incapacitation of Iran's nuclear programs but rather, to trigger an all-out US-Iran war in the course of which, Israel's planners hope, the US would do the dirty work in Iran that it is unable to do itself." This makes sense if you review military experts on how difficult it would be to simply stop the nuclear program, and why regime change (through war) may be the option some Israeli strategic planners are considering.
Interior Ministry says recently arrested terror cell planned to destroy Western Desert pipeline.
Editor Magdy Gallad calls on presidency to allow independent press to cover the presidency and be given the access the state press has been given.
Iraqi-British visionary architect Zaha Hadid wins bid for Cairo Expo City, new convention grounds in New Cairo set to replace Nasr City Fair Grounds.
Sami Moubayed debunks Der Spiegel's accusation that Hizbullah is behind Hariri murder. Even if Moubayed is a defender of Syria and its allies, he makes some good points here, notably the ludicrous claim that Nasrallah wanted Hariri dead because he was getting too popular. What is this, grade school? Yet an interesting question is still not addressed, namely, to what extents were there rogue operations in Hizbullah, if at all?
Case against Saad Eddin Ibrahim dropped after months of dragging, perhaps one more nice gesture before Obama comes to town. Other private cases could still get him, though.
Marc Lynch analyses poll on Arab attitudes towards US, other political issues, finds skepticism on Obama, shockingly Bashar al-Assad most popular leader (arguably he deserves it in terms of competence at completely turning around Syria's isolation in recent years, and now making people believe Hizbullah killed Hariri rather than himself or his minions.)
Bill would ban Nakba commemoration, more: "According to the draft proposal, anyone applying for an Israeli passport or ID card would have to commit to be “faithful” to Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state – a pledge that many Israeli Palestinians say they will refuse to make. Yisrael Beiteinu’s drive to deliver on its campaign slogan – “no loyalty, no citizenship” – has also exposed a rift within the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister. Several ministers from the centre-left Labour party, another member of the coalition, said they opposed the Nakba Day proposal."
Sarah Carr: "As part of its long-term campaign against common sense swine flu, the government has put up US Aid funded posters inside metro underground trains, advising passengers on what measures to take to avoid contamination. One of the suggestions, after household members' temperature monitoring is, “avoid crowded areas”. I wondered if they're taking the piss." There's more and a funny picture as a bonus.
Piecing together information from various reports, this is a composite picture of what happened: The attackers were American, Israeli, or of unidentified origin, using perhaps gunships, F15s, F16s, or Hermes 450 drones and Eitan UAVs, taking off from Eritrea, Djibouti or possibly south of Tel Aviv. In January and/or February 2009, they attacked 1-2 convoys, consisting of 4-23 trucks, 1-3 times. The attacks left 39-800 dead (including some Iranian escorts or Revolutionary Guards), and there were between 0-50 survivors, which possibly included an Ethiopian mechanic. The attack left 18 craters, ranging in size from 160-430 metres (!). In addition, 0-1 ship[s] were sunk. The convoy[s] were smuggling either goods, people, G4s and Kalashnikovs, or 120 tonnes of arms and explosives, including anti-tank rockets and Fajir rockets with a 25-mile (40-kilometre) range and a 99-pound (45-kilogram) warhead.Not exactly illuminating. He concludes:
It is quite possible that any one of these reports may be accurate, or perhaps none of them - or any combination of truth or falsehood in between. However, what is notable is that although we simply do not know the details of what happened, that has not stopped the story reaching the mainstream media with certainty that Israel's long arm stopped a conspiracy involving Iran, Hamas, and smuggled weapons bound for Gaza. Obscure or fringe sources were deemed passable in piecing together this story that in other situations would be rejected for being too unreliable. This was nearly the case here, relegated at first to blogs, but the significance of the ideal version of the story was too good to miss out on, and so graduated to mainstream Sunday newspapers and weekly news magazines.Previous discussion of this on Arabist.net: