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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's daily Middle East media sampler.
1) Assad's thugs attack Ford

A video has emerged, showing a pro-regime demonstrator, wrapping a poster of Bashar Assad around the American ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford. (h/t Tweet from LakerGMC)
A video has emerged of U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford being assaulted by a pro-regime demonstrator on the streets of Damascus last week.
The assault took place before Ford's unapproved trip to the city of Jassem on Aug 23. Ford was present at a gathering of demonstrators who support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outside the Cham Palace Hotel in Damascus when one demonstrator ran up to Ford and tried to wrap him in a poster that featured Assad's face.
Ford's security intervened quickly and rushed Ford to his car. The incident was then replayed in a highly produced segment on a Syrian television station owned by Mohamed Hamsho, a businessman is the brother-in-law of the president's brother, Maher al-Assad. Hamsho was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department earlier this month for siding with the Assad regime during its brutal crackdown on protesters.
2) Terrorists in Gaza attack Palestinians

From the IDF Spokesperson, late last week:
During the attack several mortar shells hit the Erez Crossing, just as three Palestinian women and two infants were crossing back into the Gaza Strip after receiving medical treatment in Israel, causing damage to the crossing's infrastructure and an electrical shutdown. The power outage disabled gates at the crossing. Two of the women passed through safely but a third woman, along with her infant daughter, got caught between two disabled gates while rockets were falling.

The commander of the Erez crossing and another security officer rescued the woman and her daughter. All of the Palestinian women were brought to a protected shelter at the crossing where they were given a meal for the end of the daily Ramadan fast.
Elder of Ziyon asks:
How often do you hear anyone - including these same NGOs - condemning attacks on the crossings?
3) Changes

Last week there were two similar article in the New York Times and the Washington Post; both dealt with how the changes in the Arab world (and more generally in the Middle East) were affecting Israel. Ethan Bronner of the New York Times wrote With Mideast in Turmoil, Israel Debates Strategy:
As angry rallies by Egyptians outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo this week have shown, Israel’s relationship with Egypt is fraying. A deadly exchange of rockets fired at southern Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Hamas-controlled Gaza this week showed the risk of escalation there. Damaged ties with Turkey are not improving. Cooperation with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank seems headed for trouble.
“We are witnessing a paradigm shift in front of our eyes,” said a top Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Egypt was a major stabilizer in the region, and that may be over. Coordination with the Palestinian security officials could be lost. We are concerned about Turkey.”
A similarly themed article written by Joel Greenberg, Israel mulls ties with a changed Egypt was published in the Washington Post.
There is a growing realization in Israel that maintaining ties with post-revolutionary Egypt no longer depends solely on cultivating the relationship with its leaders. Adopting stances that are more acceptable to ordinary Egyptians and the various political forces emerging in that country after Mubarak’s ouster has become important as well.
“There’s a new factor now, the masses, who are setting the pace and dictating moves,” said Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a veteran politician and former defense minister long known for his relationships with Mubarak and senior Egyptian officials.
The New York Times article, seems a bit better and more detailed. But both articles lack certain information.

Neither article gives a sense that Israel sacrificed the Sinai and with it, strategic depth and a wealth of natural resources, in order to achieve peace with Egypt. Israel didn't simply rely on the goodwill of a corrupt and unpopular dictator. The growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood isn't addressed in either article; the Greenberg article simply attributes it to "ordinary Egyptians and various political forces" without naming those forces. Similarly, Bronner doesn't mention that Turkey, under Erdogan has been moving away from Israel from well before the Mavi Marmara and that Turkey has been becoming more of a radical Islamic state. Neither article is especially bad, but neither fully describes the forces in play.

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