A Mysterious Iran-Nuke Document | Consortium News

Western diplomats have reportedly faulted Iran in recent weeks for failing to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency with information on experiments on high explosives intended to produce a nuclear weapon, according to an intelligence document the IAEA is investigating. But the document not only remains unverified but can only be linked to Iran by a far-fetched official account marked by a series of coincidences related to a foreign scientist that that are highly suspicious.

The original appearance of the document in early 2008, moreover, was not only conveniently timed to support Israel’s attack on a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in December 2007 that was damaging to Israeli interests, but was leaked to the news media with a message that coincided with the current Israeli argument. The IAEA has long touted the document, which came from an unidentified member state, as key evidence justifying suspicion that Iran has covered up past nuclear weapons work. [Read more]

Islamic State: No One Wants to Talk to Terrorists, but We Always Do – and Sometimes It Works | truthout

The Islamic State (IS) now occupies significant swaths of Iraq and Syria, has pushed as far as the border with Turkey, and has succeeded in dragging “the West” into two civil wars in the Middle East. The West’s offensive, spearheaded by the US and supported by the UK and others, is to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS.

But in the face of IS’s state-building efforts, that strategy will only work if it manages to degrade the group’s legitimacy as a governing enterprise. [Read more]

There’s Only One Way to Beat ISIS: Work with Assad and Iran | The Daily Beast

Earlier this week, outside Washington, the Obama team hosted senior military leaders from nations pledged to help fight the so-called Islamic State, in a mission the Pentagon is now calling “Operation Inherent Resolve.” Representatives from 21 of the 60-odd countries appeared. Everyone, of course, was too polite to inquire about the embarrassing number of absentees. Nor did they comment on how little these partners have contributed to the war effort thus far, or on the fact that no new serious help has been promised.  Least surprising of all was the absence of the only two nations that could help fight the jihadis now and in a tangible form.

In the short term the only way to check ISIS, as the self-declared caliphate is widely known, is for the United States to work with Bashar Assad’s Syria, and with Iran. It is a tricky and perilous path, but there are no realistic alternatives. [Read more]

Lebanon pulled into war with Islamic State group | AP

With all eyes on the Islamic State group’s onslaught in Iraq and Syria, a less conspicuous but potentially just as explosive front line with the extremists is emerging in Lebanon, where Lebanese soldiers and Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas are increasingly pulled into deadly fighting with the Sunni militants along the country’s border with Syria.

The U.S. has been speeding up delivery of small ammunition to shore up Lebanon’s army, but recent cross-border attacks and beheading of Lebanese soldiers by Islamic State fighters — and the defection of four others to the extremists — has sent shockwaves across this Mediterranean country, eliciting fear of a potential slide into the kind of militant, sectarian violence afflicting both Syria and Iraq, and increasingly prompting minorities to take up arms. [Read more]

Living in Israel, traveling to Beirut, singing for Palestine | Times of Israel

Their goal is to win Arab Idol, the Arab world’s premiere television song competition.

But the journey Manal Mousa, 25, and Haitham Khalaily, 24, have taken from their villages in Israel to the competition in Lebanon could comprise a television drama of its own — featuring travel to an enemy country, Israeli security interrogations, and the complicated identity crisis of Israel’s Arabs. [Read more]

Tough, but bowing | The Economist

FROM the presidential palace on a hill above Damascus, the outlook seems rosier of late, despite the vista of flattened suburbs and the rumbling of bombs and mortars below. Defections from the army have stopped. American and European calls for Mr Assad to step down have grown quieter since August 2013, when America shrank from its threat to bomb the regime for using chemical weapons. Now America is leading a coalition to bomb Mr Assad’s foes, the jihadists calling themselves Islamic State (IS). It is vindication, reckons Mr Assad, of his long-held claim to be fighting dangerous terrorists rather than his own citizens demanding change.

What’s more, American strikes may be inadvertently allowing Mr Assad to concentrate on crushing mainstream rebels. The Syrian Observatory, a British-based monitoring group, reckons the regime carried out 40 air strikes (from both jets and helicopters dropping barrel-bombs) in the provinces of Hama and Idleb on October 13th, double the usual daily number of 13-20 attacks (see map). [Read more]

Christians in Iraq Face Uncertain Future | aleteia

Humanitarian aid organizations, local governments and NGOs are doing what they can to keep internally displaced persons warm, healthy and well-fed, but the task is huge, and some people on the ground say a humanitarian crisis looms.

“It’s very dire. It’s not going to improve very soon. Conditions are deteriorating. People are in desperate need for help, and the government of Iraq has not helped in any way,” said Joseph T. Kassab, founder and president of the US-based Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute. “Winter is really fierce in Iraq. Lot of people living in shelters or in the open.” [Read more]

Libya truce ‘unforeseeable’ without dialogue as UN urges ceasefire | Middle East Eye

The United Nations has urged rival militias in western Libya to observe a truce for at least four days from Saturday to facilitate humanitarian aid for civilians trapped by the fighting.

“The United Nations Support Mission in Libya is proposing a cessation of military operations in the areas of Kekla and Kalaa in western Libya for at least four days,” UNSMIL said.

That would help “to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance”, a statement said, adding that UNSMIL could send an aircraft to evacuate the wounded “once the initiative is implemented”. [Read more]

The Gaza aid conference was kind of a charade. Here’s why | Los Angeles Daily News

At the five-star JW Marriott hotel on the sandy outskirts of Cairo, where rooms cost between $210 and $600 per night, the lobby was packed. Young staffers in neutral-toned suits rushed busily past Egyptian security officers, and occasionally a person might find themselves nose to nose with Tony Blair or Ban Ki-moon.

Some of the most powerful people in the world turned out for the Gaza reconstruction conference over the weekend. [Read more]

Gaza ‘geeks’ find new future in tech startups | Al Monitor

Away from the Gaza reconstruction conference and the donor fatigue that dominated its politics, Nalan al-Sarraj presented the work of Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) to a community of Cairo startups and entrepreneurs.

The Gaza-based startup accelerator drew support as Sarraj asked for financing pledges ahead of a crowdfunding campaign that has yet to kick off. The $350,000 target was dwarfed by the $5.4 billion pledged to Gaza by governments a day before Sarraj took the stage in central Cairo. [Read more]

 

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