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If Only This Telegraph Headline Were True . . .

July 31st, 2014 No comments

. . . we could relax until 2086. Sadly, the ceasefire is for 72 hours, not 72 years.


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The Damage to Tripoli Airport

July 31st, 2014 No comments

As Greece joins other Western countries in pulling its nationals out of Tripoli in Libya, in Greece’s case by sea (The US and UK evacuated overland to Tunisia), the damage to Tripoli International Airport from weeks of militias battling to control the airport is apparent. Yesterday a ceasefire was announced to allow firefighters to fight the huge oil tank fire that has been raging since earlier this week.  But that ceasefire collapsed today, and heavy fighting is reported again. This afternoon, there are reports of large protests in Tripoli’s main squares, suggesting popular outrage t how the militia fighting has cut Tripoli off from the rest of the world may be reaching a boil.

Some photos from the Internet give a sense of the extensive damage to the airport. But the loss of passenger revenues, the losses in destroyed airframes and the burning fuel in the tank fire must be enormous. Some accounts say 90% or more of the aircraft on the ground when the fighting erupted have been damaged or destroyed.

About July 14:

From July 20, struck by a rocket:

 Recently, from Twitter:

From NPR:


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Gaza school attack unacceptable – US

July 31st, 2014 No comments

The shelling of a UN shelter in Gaza by the Israeli military is “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”, the White House says.
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Syrian atrocities witness testifies in US Congress

July 31st, 2014 No comments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Graphic images of emaciated and bloodied corpses in the Syrian civil war were presented to uncharacteristically silent members of Congress Thursday as a former military photographer testified about the signs of savagery he witnessed.
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Witness of Syrian atrocities testifies in Congress

July 31st, 2014 No comments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Graphic images of emaciated and bloodied corpses in the Syrian civil war were presented to uncharacteristically silent members of Congress Thursday as a former military photographer testified about the signs of savagery he witnessed.
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US, India see potential but new rifts emerge

July 31st, 2014 No comments

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) greets Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj during his visit in New Delhi on July 31, 2014The United States and India's new right-wing government voiced hope Thursday at working closely on the global stage, but fresh rifts over trade and spying cast a shadow. On his first visit since India's April-May elections, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "excited" about new Prime Minister Narendra Modi and believed his "historic mandate" offered a chance for new US-India cooperation. "The United States and India can and should be indispensable partners for the 21st century," he said. Kerry, who meets Modi on Friday, said he believed the new premier saw eye-to-eye on fighting climate change, boosting trade and expanding cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region — where the world's two largest democracies are both wary of China's rise.

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Israeli Iron Dome firms ‘hacked’

July 31st, 2014 No comments

The BBC has seen evidence that appears to confirm hackers stole secret military documents from two Israeli government-owned companies.
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The Silence of the Arab Regimes

July 31st, 2014 No comments

The New York Times has taken note of a phenomenon I had been planning to talk about soon anyway, so I’ll use their piece as a takeoff point for my own comments: “Arab Leaders Silent, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel.”

As Israel’s current operation in Gaza grows into something much longer and deadlier than Cast Lead six years ago, there has been much international condemnation, from Europe, the UN, and human rights groups. The US is less critical and the US Congress openly supportive (and the US is resupplying Israel with munitions in the midst of the operation), but there has been considerable criticism in the media and academia.

But two sources of pressure that helped bring previous Gaza interventions to a ceasefire are absent here. First, domestic support in Israel is higher than in some previous interventions, with polls showing overwhelming support among Israeli Jews, and Israeli peace activists increasingly facing confrontations with supporters of the war.

But even more striking is the fact that, while there has been much sympathy expressed toward Gaza in the Arab “street,” the Arab regimes have been mostly silent. Egypt did make a ceasefire proposal early on, which Israel accepted (and which some suspect was negotiated beforehand) and Hamas rejected. But after the Hamas rejection, Egypt essentially washed its hands of the situation. And Egypt, of course, shares a border with Gaza, and by keeping the Rafah crossing closed, is complicit, at the very least, with maintaining the siege of Gaza. It allows humanitarian supplies in, but doesn’t allow those under bombardment out.

The other country with diplomatic relations with Israel, Jordan, is also part of the broad Sunni alliance that opposes the Muslim Brotherhood, and which also includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE. At least there is evidence that the Jordanian street (with its substantial Palestinian component) is restive and supportive of Gaza civilians, if not Hamas.

The Egyptian “street” is another matter. Some of Egypt’s talk-show hosts have been so virulently anti-Hamas that Israel has been quoting them in propaganda broadcasts into Gaza. Though Field Marshal Sisi rose to power under the Morsi Presidency, he and his supporters have vowed to crush the Muslim Brotherhood, and of course, Hamas was formed from the Gaza branch. And most indications are that the sentiment is widely shared among secular Egyptians.

With Egypt, Jordan, the Saudis and the UAE forming a solid front against Hamas, and Libya, Syria, and Iraq preoccupied with other matters, Hamas has few friends: Qatar, Iran and Hizbullah, and the latter two are tied down in Syria and Iraq. Whereas the Hamas leadership in exile were once welcomed in ‘Amman, and after that in Damascus, today they are stuck in distant Doha.

I have left out one Arab regime: the Palestinian Authority. Despite the recent reconciliation between Hamas and the PLO under Mahmoud ‘Abbas, and very vocal criticisms by ‘Abbas, and threats to take Israel to the International Criminal Court,the Palestinian Security Forces kept the West Bank largely quiet during the first two weeks of the campaign. Only in the last ten days or so have demonstrations in the West Bank led to open clashes, but ‘Abbas has largely kept the West Bank, if vocal, nonviolent.

We can only speculate whether the post-Arab Spring anti-Muslim Brotherhood alliance encouraged Israel to launch the present campaign; but it has surely encouraged it to seek a more thorough destruction of Hamas’ military capabilities than it did in earlier incursions.
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Israel to ‘destroy all Gaza tunnels’

July 31st, 2014 No comments

Israel is “determined” to destroy all militant tunnels from Gaza “with or without a ceasefire”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says.
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Despite concerns, US restocks Israel with ammunition

July 31st, 2014 No comments

Members of Code Pink hold a vigil of civil disobedience and conduct a "die-in" in front of the Israeli Embassy July 30, 2014, protesting the deaths of Palestinians in GazaThe United States confirmed it had restocked Israel's supplies of ammunition, hours after finally sharpening its tone to condemn an attack on a United Nations school in Gaza. "Obviously nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians seeking shelter in a UN facility," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf acknowledged, in some of the toughest US comments since the start of the 23-day fighting in the Gaza Strip.

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