Monday, October 31, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 10/31/2011

From DG:
1) Cease-fire?

Today the New York Times reports After Attacks, Efforts to Restore Truce Between Israel and Groups in Gaza. "Groups?" How descriptive is that? Is the New York Times incapable of using the word "terrorists?" The report includes the boilerplate:
Hamas has largely maintained the fragile cease-fire that went into effect after Israel ended its three-week military offensive in Gaza in early 2009. The smaller factions in Gaza are less committed, but are under pressure from Hamas to comply. 
Earlier we learn:
The Israeli military fired on what it said was a terrorist squad in southern Gaza preparing to fire rockets at Israel on Sunday afternoon. Gaza security officials said one Palestinian militant was killed and another was seriously wounded. Both, it said, were members of the armed wing of the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. 
Notice the qualification of the Israeli claim, "what it said."
But Gaza security officials essentially confirm the Israeli account with "armed wing." The care the reporters take to make sure that Israeli statements are properly qualified but will throw in the "Hamas mostly keeping ceasefire" with no authority but their own. PM Netanyahu for his part, insists that there is no ceasefire.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was not seeking an escalation, but emphasized that anyone trying to attack Israel was taking their life in their hands. “There is no cease-fire,” Mr. Netanyahu said Sunday, adding that the military “protects the residents of the south and wipes out the rocket launchers.” “I promise that the other side will pay an even heavier price than it has up to now, until it stops firing,” he warned.
Amir Mizroch argues that this is the correct approach:
In the past few days, Israeli defense officials have been speaking in terms of cost: yes, it’s heartbreaking that an Israeli was killed, but the Islamic Jihad paid a heavy price, with 10 of its militants killed, said Ehud Barak. “They’re paying a much heavier price in Gaza,” says his deputy Matan Vilnai. Israel seems to need to change the equation regarding rocket violence: every rocket fired by a Palestinian group at Israel will cost them severely in terms of blood and damaged infrastructure. It’s not enough to chase rocket squads all day and all night [although this should obviously still be done]. Deterrence must be restored, and this can’t be done with defense, which costs a lot more than offense. In a climate of serious defense budget cuts, expect the IDF to drop heavier bombs, and drop some heavier terror chiefs. Also, all talk of a major ground offensive to take down Hamas in Gaza is now passe.

2) Turning himself in?

The Qaddafi family is apparently thinking of suing NATO. At the same time "part scholar, part monk, part model, part policy wonk" and international fugitive Saif al-Islam Qaddafi has apparently contacted the International Criminal Court about turning himself in.
“Through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Seif,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said. “He said he is innocent and he will prove to the judges he is innocent,” he said in a brief interview with Reuters. “And then he is more concerned about what will happen after, if he is considered innocent by the court.” “We are making no deal, though we have a case against him,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo added. “But we are explaining the legal system and his right to defend himself.”
Though he maintains his innocence, if Saif turns himself in, it should make that lawsuit a lot more difficult to succeed.

3) Liberals or leftists?

In Tunisia Liberals See a Vote for Change, Not Religion David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times reports:
Perhaps the most significant surprise for liberal forces here and around the region was the abrupt collapse of the party that until recently had been their standard-bearer and Ennahda’s principal rival, the Progressive Democratic Party, or P.D.P. While Ennahda had emphasized its commitment to Western-style individual rights and pledged to collaborate with secularists, the P.D.P. had concluded its campaign with blistering accusations that Ennahda was manipulating voters into supporting a hidden theocratic agenda. The attacks apparently angered voters, because the two liberal parties that succeeded had chosen to say only nice things about Ennahda. The Congress for the Republic and the ideologically similar Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties, known here by the Arabic shorthand Ettakatol, are now in talks to form a unity government.
But as Barry Rubin points out, Kirkpatrick is confusing leftists with liberals:
Who will they have to work with in the mean time? The Congress for the Republic (CPR) won 30 seats and the Ettakatol won 21 seats. (I cannot resist the temptation to remark that when the Islamists are through with it, Tunisia will definitely need CPR!) These are leftist parties and Ennahda’s coalition partners.What does this tell us? On social issues, the Islamists will have to be careful but they can find more common ground with the leftists on economic and foreign policy issues. By building the power of the state and weakening the business sector—which the leftists want—Ennahda lays the basis for its future domination of the society through controlling a strong state. On foreign policy, the left shares the Islamists’ desire to take a tougher line toward the West and against Israel. In the shorter run, they will not want to antagonize Europe or the United States. But this lays a foundation for a longer-term turn of public opinion against the West and toward other Islamist states. As we saw in Turkey, a stealth Islamist government can turn around public opinion with surprising speed using patriotism and religious fervor.
This CNN report confirms this distinction:
Some Tunisians -- mainly among the better off urban middle-class -- don't believe Ennahda's professed moderation. A series of videos released online ahead of the election (and paid for by wealthy business interests) imagines a Tunisia without tourists, where women are made to wear the veil and are scared out of the workplace, should Islamists take power. Some point to Iran's first post-revolutionary elections back in 1980 and Ayatollah Khomenei's promise that in the Islamic Republic the Majlis would not be a rubber-stamp parliament.
The "wealthy business interests" was unnecessary, but it shows that those most likely to help the Tunisian economy - real liberals - remain suspicious of the Islamists.

Technorati Tag: and and .

No comments: