Mideast Media Sampler 12/22/11
1) UNconditionally undermining Middle East peaceTechnorati Tag: Israel and Iran and Hamas and Hezbollah.
Several Security Council member nations have criticized Israel. Now Isabel Kersher reports, Israel Accuses 4 Countries of Meddling in Its Affairs. One paragraph is especially of note:
The latest efforts by the quartet began after the Palestinians applied to the Security Council for full membership in the United Nations in the fall. The quartet has called on the sides to resume talks without preconditions and to refrain from provocative actions. The members of the quartet have made clear that they see settlement construction as provocative.Kershner reports that these new Quartet efforts follow the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in September. By any measure, this is an ongoing effort to avoid negotiations - negotiations that the PA unilaterally withdrew from. So the Quartet is bothered (and Kershner too) apparently by Israel building in areas it is likely to hold after negotiations but a blatant Palestinian effort to bypass negotiations is not worth mentioning.
Worse than that, is that Abbas met with Amna Muna in Turkey. The AP reports:
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel was disappointed that Abbas chose to meet Muna, whom he called a “terrorist temptress” whose “internet trap led to the brutal murder of an innocent Israeli teen.”“Instead of promoting peace and reconciliation, the Palestinian leadership seems to be putting murderers up on a pedestal,” he said. “This (meeting) raises serious questions as to their commitment and their desire to end the (Mideast) conflict.”Abbas adviser Nimer Hamad said it was natural for the Palestinian president to “meet his people wherever they are” and blamed Israel for “searching for a pretext to cover the fact that it is destroying the peace process every day through its settlement activities.”The Israeli government has condemned and taken action against the "price tag" extremists; Abbas, on the other hand, encouraged the released terrorists he met:
Abbas told the prisoners that they were at the top of PA leadership’s list of priorities. He said that the issue was being raised in all meetings between PA officials and world leaders.Abbas, according to a statement released by his office, “praised the prisoners for remaining steadfast in the face of Israeli wardens’ mastery.” He also briefed the released prisoners on the latest developments in the region.There you have it. To members of the Quartet, Palestinian actions that violate the principles of reconciliation (or even explicit commitments) are ignored while Israeli actions that should have no bearing on negotiations are condemned.
Of course, the Palestinian Authority's ongoing negotiations with Hamas and consideration of reducing security cooperation with Israel violate the spirit if not the letter of their agreements with Israel. Is there anything the Palestinians can do to be deemed obstacles to peace?
2) Follow the Iranian money
The New York Times reports on economic problems in Iran, As Further Sanctions Loom, Plunge in Currency’s Value Unsettles Iran:
Iran’s currency, the rial, tumbled in value to its lowest level ever against the dollar on Tuesday in panic selling caused in part by the country’s increased economic isolation from international sanctions, an unbridled inflation problem and worries that government officials there are ideologically incapable of devising a workable solution.The rial’s value has been weakening for months, but the traumatic drop on Tuesday reflected what Iranian economists called a new level of economic anxiety in the country, exacerbated by conflicting information coming out of the Tehran hierarchy that reinforced a sense of indecision and confusion.A report in Iran’s state-run news media that the government had decided to suspend trading relations with the United Arab Emirates in retaliation for that country’s support of American sanctions on Iran — denied later by Iran’s vice president — apparently contributed to a rush by Iranian merchants and trading companies to sell their rials for other currencies. The United Arab Emirates is a major gateway for Iran’s exports.In related news, Ynet is reporting that Hezbollah in dire financial straits (via memeorandum)
While Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah appeared to be in high spirits recently during a rare public appearance in a suburb of Beirut, his organization is experiencing a severe financial crisis, French daily Le Figaro reported over the weekend.According to the article, which was based on information obtained by French intelligence agencies, the civil uprising against President Bashar Assad in Syria has significantly reduced the flow of money to the Lebanese terror group.Moreover, the report said, Iran has recently cut its financial aid to Hezbollah by 25% due in part to the international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.Additionally Jonathan Schanzer wonders is Hamas for sale?
Palestinian news sources reported earlier this month that Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised $300 million to the Gaza-based terrorist organization Hamas. If true, this pledge would cover nearly half of Hamas’s reported $769 million budget next year, and would make Turkey its primary benefactor.Hamas and Turkish officials deny the report, and Hamas probably won’t submit to an external audit any time soon. But let there be no doubt: Hamas is for sale, thanks to the Iranian nuclear program and the Arab Spring.In the past year or two, Iranian proxies have fallen on hard times. The U.S. and Europe responded to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions by enacting tranche after tranche of financial sanctions, and Iran is increasingly unable to make good on its pledges. According to the French newspaper Le Figaro, this means hard times for long-time proxy Hezbollah. And despite Hamas’s public statements about increasing its budget by 22 percent in 2012, it’s likely hurting, too. It was widely reported that the group failed to make payroll in Gaza this summer.One point often overlooked about Iran's nuclear program, is that it doesn't just seek the weapons to use them; but to project its influence through the threat of their use. Sanctions don't appear to be effective enough to stop Iran's nuclear program. However it would appear that sanctions are reducing Iran's ability to project its influence through two of its main proxies.