On US democracy promotion in Egypt

Analysis: Democracy in Egypt appears to wane:
"Four years ago, the United States talked about two laboratories for democracy in the Middle East: Iraq and Egypt. Egypt was supposed to be the easier one. But now it's battered Iraq that has shown democratic advances, while Egypt seems to be going backward with President Hosni Mubarak's government solidifying its hold on the levers of power. Still, Egypt is hoping for improved ties with the United States under President Barack Obama after the Bush administration called for reform by Mubarak and after years of strains over the staunch U.S. ally's human rights record. The Obama administration has already hinted it won't hinge its relationship with Egypt on human rights demands, moving away from former President George W. Bush's ambitious — or overreaching, as some in the region felt — claims to seek a democratic transformation in the region."
Already some people in Cairo are nostalgic (or have been nostalgic for several years) for that 2004-2005 moment when the Bush administration was publicly, relentlessly, critical of Egypt's lack of political reform. Ironically Obama, with his charisma, could make an even better democracy promoter than Bush, whose neo-conservative version of democracy promotion appeared like a barely concealed fig leaf for a pro-interventionist, pro-Israeli Middle East policy. The problem remains the same: how do you craft a successful democracy-promotion policy? Can you do so when you have a strategic alliance with a repressive state? I think government-to-government pressure has limited effectiveness, especially when Egypt is such as a great counter-terrorism and regional diplomacy ally. Or when you're unwilling to reconsider over $1bn of military aid that subsidizes your own military-industrial complex and irrigates the backbone of the regime. (sorry for the terrible mixed metaphor.) The way to go may be lobbying in the US, EU against businesses involved in Egypt and naming and shaming politicians that support Egypt. But even then you run the risk of becoming the useful idiot of those who claim to be concerned about democracy in Egypt but are merely cynically adding a card to play in regional politics.
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Qadhafi never disappoints

Saudi's King Abdullah walks out of opening session of Arab Summit:
"Doha: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz walked out of the opening session of the Arab Summit in Doha on Monday, following remarks made by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.  Tempers flared shortly after the summit host Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, ended his opening address, in which he said King Abdullah will represent the Arab nation at Thursday’s G20 economic summit in London. 'He is in fact the best representative any one could have,’ said Shaikh Hamad. The Arabs should be part of the restructuring of the global financial system, he said. ‘We should not sit on the sidelines watching.’ Following the speech, the Libyan leader took over the microphone without requesting a permission to speak, a Gulf News correspondent inside the meeting hall said. 'I don’t know why we should be happy that King Abdullah is representing us at the G20. He is a British-made monarch and an American agent,' Gaddafi said, and went on despite the repeated attempts by Shaikh Hamad to stop him. Frustrated over the attempts by the Emir of Qatar to stop his from talking, Gaddafi looked at the rest of the Arab leaders and said: 'I am the King of African Kings, I am the prince of the faithful and I don’t think my international prestige would allow me to sit with people like you.' The remark and the subsequent apology by the Emir of Qatar led to an angry walkout by King Abdullah, who few years earlier had a similar spat with Gaddafi. "
Bonus pics [Thanks Diana]:
And to think once he was handsome:
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Bibi vs. Ajami, back in the days

Update: VIDEO FOUND OK, a little Googling enabled me to find a copy of the Netanyahu tape on the Israeli site MahNishMah!?, since the original YouTube version was removed and its account shut down. It turns out that the tape has made quite a stir in Israel, as Netanyahu is about to become PM for the second time. Right-wingers saw in Young Bibi (who then called himself Ben Nitay) a better version of his current self, seen as too accommodating (!) to Obama. In the video, Bibi says he is 28-years-old and describes himself as an "economic consultant" -- indeed according to Wikipedia he worked at Boston Consulting Group immediately after graduating from Harvard at that time. He was as smarmy then as he is now. But actually if you listen carefully to what he says, he is arguing that Palestinian should not have self-determination (which would be "unfair" because there are already 21 Arab states) but instead integrate Jordan or Israel. He argues forcefully that Israel is a democracy and West Bankers and Gazans would be given the right to vote in Israel. Obviously this must predate the current Israeli concern about Palestinian demographics, although Fouad Ajami does raise this issue. So, once again, is Bibi Netanyahu advocating a one-state solution? Here is the video on YouTube. (It will take a little while for YouTube to process the video, so it might not be immediately available.) I will soon add a link to a MP4 format file for downloading in case YouTube removes the video again. Download in MP4 format (Quicktime, 31.6MB). Originally found through: Angry Arab. Update 2: Now also on Vimeo, better quality.
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Links for March 30th

Links from my del.icio.us account for March 30th:

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Links for March 30th

Links from my del.icio.us account for March 30th:

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Today's main state-owned Egyptian dailies are headlining President Mubarak's visit to... an agricultural project owned by the army in Sharq al-Owaynat. Because that’s such a more important story than the Doha summit, which he's not attending. Pettiness is one of the defining characteristics of authoritarian political systems: you see it everywhere, from the arbitrary treatment of political opponents like Ayman Nour to the veiled and actual threats made against rebellious parts of the establishment (such as judges, who had their bonuses and benefits cut when they were rebelling in 2006).
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The Prince of Hyperbole

Qatar's Emir Hamid al-Thani interviewed in Spiegel:
Al-Bashir Arrest Warrant: Qatari Emir Warns of 'Chaos' in Sudan: "The emir of Qatar has warned that the international warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could destablize the entire region. 'If anything happened to Omar al-Bashir and Sudan ended up in chaos, the whole of Africa will sink into chaos,' Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said in an interview with SPIEGEL to be published on Monday."
Incidentally the emir also says he wouldn't let the US attack Iran from the base on his territory, and that the global financial crisis is an "opportunity that will not be repeated for the next 20 years." It certainly is if you're full of gas, ya brince. Happy shopping spree.
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Links March 28th to March 29th

Links from my del.icio.us account for March 28th through March 29th:

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Saudi royals feuding for succession

Very interesting overview of the inner rivalries among the al-Saud family:
Keys to the kingdom: Inside Saudi Arabia's royal family - The Independent One theory in political circles in Riyadh is that Prince Bandar was seeking to oust King Abdullah before Prince Sultan dies, thus placing his father on the throne. Other rumours claim that Prince Bandar is ill, or that he angered King Abdullah by dabbling in Syrian politics without authorisation. The Saudi embassy in London could not be contacted for comment last week, but this weekend political tensions in the kingdom came dramatically to the surface. On Friday night King Abdullah unexpectedly announced the appointment of one of his half-brothers, Prince Nayef, the 76-year-old interior minister, to the post of second deputy prime minister, which had been left vacant. This was immediately taken as an indication that he would become crown prince when Prince Sultan dies or becomes king. But yesterday Prince Talal, another senior figure, publicly demanded that the king confirm that the appointment did not mean Prince Nayef would automatically become the next crown prince. Such public disagreement among senior Saudi royals is highly unusual. Another indication of friction among the many descendants of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Saud, who had 22 wives and more than 50 children, was the publication of a report last week by the Saudi National Society for Human Rights, one of the country's two human rights organisations. It was highly critical of Prince Nayef's draconian interior ministry, and is unlikely to have been released without the express say-so of another powerful member of the royal family. Both Crown Prince Sultan and Prince Nayef are members of the "Sudairi Six", the powerful surviving sons of Ibn Saud and his favourite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad Al-Sudairi. The seventh and eldest brother was King Fahd, who died in 2005; when he nominated his successor, in line with tradition, he bypassed his full brothers and chose Abdullah as crown prince. The vying for position is intensified by Crown Prince Sultan's poor health. Aged about 85, he was first diagnosed with colon cancer in Jeddah in 2004. He has received treatment in Geneva and the US, and spent time convalescing in Morocco. Throughout his illness, Prince Nayef and another of the six brothers – Prince Salman, 73, the governor of Riyadh and another potential candidate for the succession – have stayed close to the crown prince's side. Three weeks ago Prince Nayef surprised viewers of prime-time Saudi TV by telephoning in during the news hour to tell viewers that Prince Sultan was recovering well, and would be returning home soon. More independent information about the prince's condition has been suppressed, however. Last year, the long-serving Reuters bureau chief in Riyadh, Andrew Hammond, was told to leave the kingdom after reporting that Prince Sultan had cancer.
Do read the whole thing. It does bring to mind how this region is constantly in the midst of some succession crisis, currently Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and I'm sure I'm missing some.
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Links for March 28th

Links from my del.icio.us account for March 28th:

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Mubarak will not go to Doha Arab summit

News has just come out that Hosni Mubarak will not attend the upcoming Doha Arab League summit, suggesting that recent talks to repair the Arab rift during the Gaza war have not borne fruit. Qatar has not been open to rapprochement with Egypt from the start, and efforts to lure Syria away are not working to Egypt's satisfaction. One major victim of a failed Arab reconciliation could be the Palestinian reconciliation process. Update: Dina Ezzat suggests the Egypt-Qatar rift is about Sudan/Darfur as well as the Palestinians:
The summit, however, is unlikely to escape being the scene of squabbles over managing the reconciliation process between the Darfur leaders and Al-Bashir's regime. While Qatar is determined to pursue earlier efforts to conclude a comprehensive peace deal on that front other Arab countries -- especially Egypt -- are determined to deny Doha control over the issue. As a result the summit may not issue a resolution with clear language on the Darfur-Khartoum reconciliation process. The anticipated Egyptian-Qatari confrontation in Doha next week will not be confined to the management of the Darfur peace process. The diplomatic tug-of-war between the two countries that has continued for 12 months, especially over Palestinian reconciliation, is likely to cast a shadow across the Doha summit. With President Mubarak unlikely -- so far -- to attend, sending the foreign, or at best, prime minister, Qatar may not be so keen to avoid some squabbling over the text of resolutions to be adopted by the summit on the Palestinian issue. Sources say that Qatar has already suggested to several Arab countries that there is a need to break the "Egyptian monopoly" over Palestinian reconciliation. While this Qatari effort may not succeed -- as some Qatari officials acknowledge -- it would certainly impact on already tense Egyptian-Qatari relations.
Update II: AP has a write-up saying:
Hosni Mubarak's decision, which came two days before the summit starts, already throws major doubts on its chances for success as the organization's foreign ministers pleaded for unity in the face of threats against its members.
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Links March 27th to March 28th

Links from my del.icio.us account for March 27th through March 28th:

  • Egypt, Saudis bend over backwards to extricate Syria from Iranian grip - Haaretz - Israel News - "The Arab world's top powers are eager to block regional rival Iran's influence in the Middle East. Their key for doing so is to woo Iran's Arab ally Syria, so they have begun engaging Damascus after years of shunning it in anger over what they see as its role in fueling turmoil around the Mideast. The administration of President Barack Obama is also starting to open up to Damascus, which Washington treated as a pariah for the past eight years because of its support for militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas"
  • U.S. surveys flashpoint West Bank settlement - "JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. diplomats assessed Jewish settlement activity at an Israeli-occupied district near Jerusalem on Friday, in a public signal of greater activism by the Obama administration in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
  • Hamas denies link with convoy hit in Sudan - "GAZA CITY (AFP) – The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip on Friday denied that alleged weapons convoys hit in an airstrike in Sudan were destined for the Islamist Palestinian movement. "First of all we are not sure any convoy has been hit, but it is ironic to link these convoys to Hamas," one of the movement's leaders, Salah al-Bardawil, told AFP. "Should it turn out that there were raids and a high number of people killed, this would mean Israel is seeking to use the opportunity to blame Hamas and hit Sudan," he said. The fact that the Gaza Strip is not a neighbour of Sudan, with" Egypt in between, "shows these are false claims," he added.
  • US judge orders Iran to pay $25M for Hamas killing - Ridiculous.
  • FT.com / Middle East - Prince Naif appointed deputy Saudi PM - "Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Friday appointed his half-brother Prince Naif as the new second deputy prime minister, signalling that he would be next in line for the throne after the ailing Crown Prince Sultan."
  • Mondoweiss: Jeffrey Goldberg guilt-trips Ari Roth over Jewish requirement to 'love Israel'--but Roth is tortured by Gaza - Phil Weiss on Jeffrey Goldberg's ethno-bullying: "In Goldberg's bullying--and Goldberg is a very smart guy--you can see what I spoke about a couple of weeks ago in a post about My Tribal Minder. He is being Roth's tribal minder. He is reminding Roth about the limits of Jewish identity, and urging him to be loyal to the tribe. He invokes the Holocaust and very much as Gershom Scholem lectured Hannah Arendt about her failure to love the Jewish people, you will see that Goldberg instructs Roth of his obligation to love the Jewish people near the end, or to be accurate--"We in the Jewish community are motivated to do things because we love Israel" (which is a truly scary reflection on the Iraq War journalism Goldberg did for the New Yorker)."
  • MIDEAST: Path to Peace Needs New Realism on All Sides - Helena Cobban thinks Obama can pull off a major change in US policy towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict and address Hamas: "Some U.S. Jewish organisations and Christian Zionist organisations might continue to lobby strongly against including Hamas. But the numbers from J Street show that if Obama is decisive, clear, and sensitive in explaining a Hamas-including policy, he could hope to win substantial support for it - including within the U.S. Jewish community. "
  • Exclusive: Three Israeli Airstrikes Against Sudan - Political Radar - Three attacks, not one.
  • Atomic Agency Fails to Elect New Head - NYTimes.com - Can't wait for Baradei to publish a tell-all book, as Hans Blix did after he stepped down.
  • Anti-tank missile fired at IDF patrol | Israel | Jerusalem Post - Anti-tank missile fired at IDF by Hamas, after new "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system tested and revelations on Sudan air strike.
  • The Foreign Policy Initiative - New neocon think tank headed by Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol. Sends shivers down my spine.
  • David Ignatius - How a U.S. Tax Deduction Aids Israeli Settlements - washingtonpost.com - "For many years, the United States has had a policy against spending aid money to fund Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which successive administrations have regarded as an obstacle to peace. Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes."
  • With its recent political maneuvers, Israel may be heading for apartheid -- By John J. Mearsheimer | Stephen M. Walt - "In fact, the Israeli press is reporting that Netanyahu and Lieberman agreed in their negotiations to form a government that Israel would build 3,000 housing units in an area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim (a huge settlement bloc) known as E-1. Once that is accomplished, Israel will have effectively cut the West Bank in half, making it almost impossible to create a viable Palestinian state. This deal was supposed to be secret, because the United States is opposed to Israel building in the E-1 area."
  • Documenting the Global Jihad — jihadica - This really is a fantastic resource on the fun world of international jihad. Thomas Hegghammer has put up tons of documents and videos recently.
  • Some Israeli soldiers say military rabbis cast the offensive against Hamas rockets as a fight to expel non-Jews |מגזין הכיבוש Occupation Magazine - "The winter assault on the Gaza Strip was officially portrayed in Israel as an attempt to quell rocket fire by militants of Hamas. But some soldiers say they also were lectured about a more ambitious aim: to banish non-Jews from the biblical land of Israel. `This rabbi comes to us and says the fight is between the children of light and the children of darkness,` a reserve sergeant said, recalling a training camp encounter. `His message was clear: `This is a war against an entire people, not against specific terrorists.` The whole thing was turned into something very religious and messianic.`"
  • Purification rites - The National Newspaper - Comparing religious-nationalist extremism in India and Israel.
  • Atonement - The National Newspaper - George Packer reviews a book about Iraqi officer under Saddam.
  • Boats against the current - The National Newspaper - Very interesting economic history of the Gulf by Greg Gause, arguing it has always been integrated with the global economy.
  • Egypt and beyond: "This country is on the brink of a revolution" - Per reports on angry workers in 10th Ramadan City.
  • Visitors to Yemen Report That Jews Are Reluctant To Be Rescued – Forward.com - They don't want to be rescued to end living on the dole in some desert town in the Negev: "In recent weeks, Jewish organizations have insisted that Yemen’s tiny Jewish population is in grave danger and that a secret evacuation is necessary to bring the people to safety. But a new report written by on-the-ground observers suggests that one of the primary barriers to the Jews’ departure is the resistance of the Jews themselves."
  • Israel's shadow war against Hamas' arms sources | The Cable - More on the East Sudan air strike
  • Heather Robinson » Elliott Abrams predicts Obama, Bibi faceoff - "On the subject of Israel, Abrams predicts some friction in the near term between Obama and Netanyahu because the Obama administration believes that the main problem in brokering an Israeli/Palestinian final status agreement is Israel’s settlement expansion. This, according to Abrams, is false. “I can illustrate why [this is false] very simply,” said Abrams. “Look at what [Ehud] Barak proposed ten years ago. Look at what Olmert offered recently. Olmert offered more.” In other words, what has repeatedly made a final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians impossible is Palestinians’ refusal to accept a deal, not settlement expansion, since the latter has coincided with more generous offers of land for peace, according to Abrams."
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ABC: Three Israeli attacks on Sudan, not just one

Exclusive: Three Israeli Airstrikes Against Sudan - Political Radar:
"ABC News' Luis Martinez reports: Israel has conducted three military strikes against targets in Sudan since January in an effort to prevent what were believed to be Iranian weapons shipments from reaching Hamas in the Gaza Strip, ABC News has learned. Earlier this week, CBSNews.com was the first to report that Israel had conducted an airstrike in January against a convoy carrying weapons north into Egypt to be smuggled into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. But actually, since January, Israel has conducted a total of three military strikes against smugglers transporting what were believed to be Iranian weapons shipments  destined  for Gaza, a U.S. official told ABC News.  The information matches recent reports from Sudanese officials of two airstrikes in the desert of eastern Sudan and the sinking of a ship in the Red Sea carrying weapons."
Questions that come to mind: Saudi and Egyptian radars on the Red Sea must have seen planes, how long have they known? What kind of collaboration is there on this? What logistical support from the US?
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WSJ: Egypt addressed arms smuggling issue with Bashir

U.S., Egypt Push Sudan About Arms - WSJ.com:
"Both the U.S. and Egyptian governments have in recent weeks raised with Sudan's government their concerns that the African country has become a major facilitator for Gaza-bound weapons being smuggled into Egypt, according to officials briefed on the diplomatic exchanges. Washington sent a formal complaint to Khartoum demanding Sudan's government 'cease smuggling arms into Egypt,' according to a U.S. official. The official wouldn't provide an exact date. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak raised a similar complaint with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during the African strongman's visit to Cairo this week, according to a diplomat briefed on the meeting. The Egyptians are particularly concerned that Sudan is becoming an arms partner of Iran and aiding Tehran in moving weapons to the militant group Hamas, which is based in the Gaza Strip."
So that means Egypt acknowledges arms traffic through its territory from Sudan?
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Morocco's Le Journal: "We are all Shia"

My friend Abou Bakr Jamai, publisher of Morocco's Le Journal weekly now in forced into exile because of bogus lawsuits against his magazine, sent me this week's cover highlighting Morocco's new religious crusade for "the right Islam" that must be followed. This campaign is aimed at asserting the "Sunni malekite nature" of "Moroccan Islam"; its aim is to buttress the pro-monarchy traditionalism of very Morocco-specific institutions such as the "Commandership of the Faithful" (specific in that it argues that the king has the same role as a Caliph, but only for Moroccans), Sherifism (high respect for descendants of the prophet, a very Shia tradition that has since Sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century been a key part of governance through a ethno-religious aristocracy) and the prominence of apolitical Sufi tariqat. The campaign to reimpose these traditionalist values is partly a not-so-badly thought out attempt to limit the spread of salafism (I applaud that) but has also spread into paranoia about Iran-funded Shia conversion and as a way to put pressure on Islamic parties, legal and unrecognized. But it's the kind of thing that the Moroccan regime has long done - asserting a Moroccan Islam that is nice and fluffy vs. the Islam of its opponents - and, moreover, the foreigners usually lap it up. [caption id="attachment_3928" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption=""We are all Shia, Sunni, Jewish, Christian, atheist, agnostic..." "]"We are all Shia, Sunni, Jewish, Christian, atheist, agnostic..." [/caption]
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A Last Chance For A Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement

From the Executive Summary of a new report [PDF] advising the Obama administration to seize the opportunity for a two-state solution before it's too late, written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chuck Hagel, Lee Hamilton, Thomas Pickering, Brent Scowcroft, Paul Volcker, James Wolfensohn and others:
We urge the next U.S. administration to engage in prompt, sustained and determined efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Previous initiatives having failed, the incoming administration will no doubt be urged to defer or avoid renewed engagement for three reasons: 1. Prioritizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would distract the new president from efforts to address critical challenges to the nation’s security: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, and threats from terror organizations. 2. Peace cannot be imposed by the U.S.A. or any outside party. The only enduring solution will be one conceived by the parties themselves. 3. Pressing both sides to reach agreement may risk angering domestic constituencies. We believe all three arguments are invalid. Today, when our enemies avoid America’s military superiority by waging information warfare and terror, an early Arab-Israeli peace is indispensable. Although a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace would not erase Al Qaeda, it would help drain the swamp in which it and other violent and terrorist movements thrive, and eliminate a major source of global Muslim anti-Americanism. Iran would find the strategic advantages it recently gained in the Arab world greatly reduced. Far from being a distraction from other Middle Eastern crises, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would significantly facilitate their amelioration. Conversely, for the U.S. to avoid effective facilitation and mediation is to cede the field to America’s enemies who are counting on the Arab-Israeli dispute as the gift that keeps on giving. According to polls, most Israeli and Palestinian public opinions back a fair settlement, and Arab countries now offer unprecedented support for the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, spurred by the twin threats posed by Iran and radical Islamist movements, and see substantial strategic value in a comprehensive peace accord. In Europe and elsewhere, a strong U.S. initiative would be warmly welcomed. A new U.S. effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement may anger certain domestic constituencies. We do not, however, believe it is beyond the capability of any American President to explain to the American people why this long-running dispute must at long last be ended and why it will take much diplomatic heavy lifting and public expenditure to make it work. In the end the stakes are too high to pursue a hands-off or arm’s-length approach. Unless the president tackles this problem early it is unlikely to be done at all. Political capital will erode; domestic obstacles will grow; other issues will dominate; and the warring parties will play for time and run the clock. Failure to act would prove extremely costly. It would not only undermine current efforts to weaken extremist groups, bolster our moderate allies and rally regional support to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran, but would also risk permanent loss of the two-state solution as settlements expand and become entrenched and extremists on both sides consolidate their hold. In short, the next six to twelve months may well represent the last chance for a fair, viable and lasting solution.
It calls for, among other things, engaging Hamas and Palestinian reconciliation (not what Obama is doing now since so far we've only heard more West Bank First). I only find this recommendation hard to swallow:
A non-militarized Palestinian state, together with security mechanisms that address Israeli concerns while respecting Palestinian sovereignty, and a U.S.- led multinational force to ensure a peaceful transitional security period. This coalition peacekeeping structure, under UN mandate, would feature American leadership of a NATO force supplemented by Jordanians, Egyptians and Israelis. We can envision a five-year, renewable mandate with the objective of achieving full Palestinian domination of security affairs on the Palestine side of the line within 15 years.
Israeli troops should definitely not be involved in any peacekeeping structure - its job should be keeping the Israelis away from the Palestinians, and vice-versa! Not to mention that a non-militarized state is a rather serious breach of sovereignty, especially unless it is backed by a mutual defense guarantee by the peacekeeping forces against any Israeli attack, incursion or overflight.
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State Dept. non-answers on Sudan strike

From the State Dept.Daily Press Briefing - March 26:
"QUESTION: On Sudan. If you could just please comment on reports about an alleged weapons convoy that was destroyed in Sudan, with weapons supposedly headed for Gaza. I believe the attack happened in January. Was the U.S. aware of this attack? Reports are saying that it was either carried out by the U.S., others are saying that it may have been carried out by Israel. MR. DUGUID: I’ve seen no reports that suggested U.S. involvement in this particular case. I’m aware of the media reports. I don’t have any information on that for you. It would be a defense issue, in any event. But I am unaware that there is any suggestion of U.S. involvement. QUESTION: Sudan’s – I believe it was the transport minister – has acknowledged that his country in the past has sent weapons to Hamas but says that is no longer the case. Is there a U.S. concern that Sudan is still providing weapons assistance to – through Gaza or to Hamas? MR. DUGUID: I don’t have any information for you on that. We are concerned that weapons are being sent to Hamas, that smuggling has been a problem in the Gaza Strip, and that is one of the things that everyone is working to resolve, particularly the Egyptians are working to resolve, in order to help bring peace back to the Gaza. QUESTION: Can I just clarify something? MR. DUGUID: Yes. QUESTION: Your remarks were a little unclear. Are you saying the U.S. did not have any involvement in that at all, just flat out? MR. DUGUID: I am unaware of any suggestion that the U.S. did. QUESTION: But there is a suggestion. There’s a Sudanese report saying that. MR. DUGUID: I am unaware of the report. I haven’t seen it and I don’t have any information on that. QUESTION: But Kirit isn’t asking whether you’re aware of any suggestions. He’s asking whether there was any involvement, to your knowledge. MR. DUGUID: But I am – and what I am telling you is that because I was unaware that there was any suggestion, I have not been informed that there was any sort of U.S. involvement. I will be happy to refer you to the Pentagon if this is something that would involve military action, but nothing I have seen indicates any U.S. involvement in this incident at all. QUESTION: And just on the same point then, do you have any indication of Israeli involvement? MR. DUGUID: I would refer you to the Israelis about their involvement in any particular military action."
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