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Israel refuses to participate in UN "human rights" farce

Israel refuses to participate in UN "human rights" farce Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Iran, Israel, Libya, Syria, United Nations, Updates    

Israel has been making headlines recently for its failure to show-up to its "Universal Periodic Review" ("UPR") session at the United Nations Human Rights Council ("HRC") and for refusing to cooperate with a recent "fact-finding mission" into settlements in the West Bank. ...

Sadly, it appears that the reforms to the UN Human Rights Commission and its re-branding as the "Human Rights Council" have had little effect...

Attacks on the US Diplomatic Missions in Cairo and Benghazi

Attacks on the US Diplomatic Missions in Cairo and Benghazi Categories: America, Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Libya, Updates    

This Updates deals with the implications of yesterday's mob attack on the US Embassy in Cairo  (see video here) and the armed attack of the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. While these attacks have been reported as a response to a crude and objectionable anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" made by some Americans and previewed on Youtube, there is growing evidence that the Cairo demonstration was scheduled for Sept. 11 weeks ago to call for the release of the blind Sheikh Omar abdel Rahman, convicted for his role in the first World Trade Centre bombing. Meanwhile US officials say the Libya attack looks like it was also pre-planned, (see also here), possibly by an al-Qaeda-linked group, before the film issue ever surfaced.

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Libya, Post-Election/ Tide Turning in Syria?

Libya, Post-Election/ Tide Turning in Syria? Categories: Libya, Syria, Updates    

This Update focuses primarily on the aftermath of the election in Libya earlier this month, but also looks at the apparent turn of battle in Syria, with rebel forces now engaging in extended battles with the regime in Damascus and a suicide bombing overnight killing several key regime figures - including the Defence Minister and President Assad's brother-in-law - and wounding others, including the Intelligence Chief and Interior Minister.

Israeli musicians transcend political divides to connect with Middle Eastern fans

Israeli musicians transcend political divides to connect with Middle Eastern fans Author: Andrea Nadel Categories: Anti-Zionism, Iran, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Updates    

Boycotting and isolating Israel culturally, economically, and politically has long been one of the goals of many of Israel’s neighbours in the Middle East, and more recently, of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It is revealing, then, that growing numbers of people throughout the Middle East are themselves disobeying the call of the anti-normalisation and BDS movements by listening to music by Israeli artists.

New order, same rules

New order, same rules Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Libya, Op-eds, Tunisia    

Will the Arab revolutions bring freedom for women? So far the signs are bad.

Many women in post-revolution Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are concerned. During the Arab Spring they played a key part in the protests by taking to the streets, marching and protesting alongside men. As the old order fell, hopes for new-found freedoms and political liberties surged, and women's rights were no exception. Yet some of the new regimes have been quick to reinforce laws and norms limiting these rights, justifying it as a return to values undermined by previous regimes...

Anti-Semitism and the Arab Spring

Anti-Semitism and the Arab Spring Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Antisemitism, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Updates    

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, expressions of explicit anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish sentiments are beginning to surge. In Middle East politics, it has long beem traditional to point a finger at Israel, "the Zionists" and "the Jews", who were blamed for all the problems of the Muslim and Arab worlds. "The Jews" were used by the regimes as a convenient distraction from their own peoples' misery and hardship, and its causes. Many had hoped that the Arab spring indicated a turn for the better and an end to this racist and counter-productive tradition, since intitially, Israel was hardly even mentioned as a cause for the fate of Arab societies. For once, the finger of blame was rightly being pointing at their own dictatorial regimes. Sadly, as prominent American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has noted,

Now in Cairo, and across the Arab Middle East, Israel and the Jews are serving once again as universal boogeymen. Once dictators used anti-Semitism to divert their citizens' attention away from their own problems. Now expressions of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories seem to rise up organically.

This truth doesn't conform to the generally accepted narrative of the Arab Spring, but ignoring it won't make it disappear.

Gaddafi's Australian Groupies

Gaddafi's Australian Groupies Author: Allon Lee Categories: Australasia, Libya    

For those of a certain a generation, they are names from the past that cause equal measure of dread and derision.

They are the Australian cheer squad that relentlessly extolled Colonel Gaddafi's virtues in full view of his tyrannical excesses. Australians from both the extreme left and far right were not exempt from seeking his assistance, guidance and resources and proclaiming his virtues.


Essay: Springing Forward or Falling Back?

Essay: Springing Forward or Falling Back? Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia    

Historically, following many of the revolutions in the Arab and Muslim world, previous traditions hindering women's rights and limiting their role in politics and society have been reinstated.

The deterioration in women's rights after the revolution in Algeria ended in 1962, and the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979 created frightening precedents for many women.

Is this recurring in the recent "Arab Spring" revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt? Women have played a key part in these revolutions, yet some of the new regimes have been quick to reinforce laws and norms that limit women's rights, justifying it as a return to values undermined or damaged by the previous regime.


 Gaddafi - the "Jewish" tyrant

Gaddafi - the "Jewish" tyrant Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Antisemitism, Libya, Updates    

In Libya people have long speculated about Gaddafi's ancestry. While Gaddafi claimed to have been born in a tent in Sirte to the son of a poor Bedouin sheepherder and his wife, this story has been in doubt.

Now that Gaddafi has fallen, many feel that they are finally able to talk freely about Gaddafi. And what many of them are now saying is that he was a Jew.

In March, NBC's Richard Engel reported from Libya that one in five rebels was fighting Gaddafi because of the belief the Libyan dictator was Jewish.

More recently, Middle East analyst Andrew Engel reported from Libya in the New York Forward that throughout Libya he saw Graffiti depicting Gadaffi as a Jew and that many people he met were eager to tell him that Gaddafi was Jewish.

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Will Libya be a Radical Islamist State?

Will Libya be a Radical Islamist State? Author: Barry Rubin Categories: Islamic Extremism, Libya    

Will US President Barack Obama soon be wearing a T-shirt saying:" I SPENT $3 BILLION OF YOUR TAX MONEY IN LIBYA AND ALL I GOT WAS A LOUSY ISLAMIST REGIME!"?

The answer isn't clear yet, though there are worrisome portents. The main evidence of the moment is the "liberation" speech given by US-backed transitional leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil on October 23, marking the official victory declaration of the NATO-backed rebels. The Associated Press - notoriously cautious about saying the "I" word - characterised the speech as setting out, "A vision for the post-Gaddafi future with an Islamist tint."

The Last Word: Malays' Malaise

The Last Word: Malays' Malaise Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Antisemitism, Asia, Libya    

On a different scale, but in some ways belonging to the same brand of journalism, was a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald: "A sex guide from Malaysia's Obedient Wives".
The article delivered, as one expert on Malaysia put it, "some richly deserved ridicule" - reporting the "Obedient Wives Club's sex guide" (which it did not name but simply termed "the book") was about "ways a Muslim man can have sex with all of his wives at the same time. Under strict Islamic tradition a man can have up to four wives if he can provide for them all."

Malaysian Insider Online, however, had no hesitation in publishing the book's full title: "Islamic Sex - Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World".


Hopes and dreams for Israel in the post-Gaddafi era

Hopes and dreams for Israel in the post-Gaddafi era Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Libya, Middle East, Op-eds    

After four decades of tyranny, Colonel Gaddafi, the Clown Prince of brutal dictators, is dead.

Gaddafi's crimes were many and well documented.

At this time we must reflect on his victims and note that at the height of his brutality some on the left and right in Australia supported him.

His passing, however, doesn't mean we should be unconcerned with what comes next in Libya.


Gaddafi's death, Libya's future

Gaddafi's death, Libya's future Categories: Libya, Middle East, Updates    

The death of long-standing Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday has led to the effective end of the NATO-supported Libyan revolution against his rule. This Update is devoted to understanding Libya's outlook and dilemmas in the wake of Gaddafi's death.

First up is noted American Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami, who comments that the end of a despot like Gaddafi is always odd and somewhat anti-climactic, revealing the mighty dictator as only a petty, frightened man - and comparing Gaddafi's end to that of Saddam Hussein.

Not so new Middle East for Jews

Not so new Middle East for Jews Author: Allon Lee Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Palestinians, Updates    

It would appear that there is no room for Jews in the Arab Spring.

Last year, before the Arab Spring, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas caused outrage when she recommended that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go back home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else."

As an American of Lebanese descent, the 89-year-old Thomas should have known that the Arab Middle East was home to approximately 850,000 Jews known as Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews for thousands of years.


Libya: The Rebels and their Prospects

Libya: The Rebels and their Prospects Categories: Libya, Updates    

This Update deals further with aftermath of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, and particularly the prospects for the rebel "Transitional National Council" (TNC) to effectively rule the country and establish the "pluralist democracy" they claim is their aim. 

First up is former Middle East academic expert turned policy adviser Dr. Walid Phares, who makes a number of predictions; first that regardless of their policies, the new TNC rulers of Libya will face a lingering insurgency from pro-Gaddafi forces. But more importantly, he takes issue with the claim often heard that "we don't know the rebels", saying that we do know a lot about them, and while they are a mixed bag, the Islamist forces are the strongest and largest organised militia. He argues that they therefore pose a considerable threat of an Islamist takeover if liberal forces are not supported.

Editorial: The Road to Damascus Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Iran, Libya, Syria    

The Libyan regime is imploding, as rebels opposed to Muammar Gaddafi have now taken control of most of the Libyan capital. It is immensely inspiring to witness this triumph of the Libyan majority over a particularly ruthless, totalitarian and bloody dictator, achieved against great odds and at a terrible cost. As US President Barack Obama said in welcoming the news, "the future of Libya is in the hands of its people."

However, that future remains unclear. It will be important over the next few months and years that the international community not view the departure of Gaddafi as the end game and do what it can to continue to support Libya in its transition to democracy, while preventing extremists from hijacking the people's revolution.


Libya – A "Spendid Little War"?

Libya – A "Spendid Little War"? Author: Josef Joffe Categories: Libya, Middle East    

When the Spanish-American War of 1898 ended with a victory for the United States, John Hay, US ambassador in London, felt moved to celebrate. In a letter to Teddy Roosevelt, he described it as a war "begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by the fortune which loves the brave." It was, in short, "a splendid little war."

The fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya has inclined many contemporary commentators to similarly effusive bursts of cheer. But does the war in Libya deserve all the praise being bestowed upon it? Will this be the dawn of a new era of low-cost, humanitarian intervention? Was this our own era's "splendid little war," a model for future wars to come?

The Not-so-Great Expectations of the Libyan People

The Not-so-Great Expectations of the Libyan People Author: Barak Barfi Categories: Libya    

The Libyan people are right to celebrate as their country's benighted Muammar Gaddafi era comes to a definitive close, but the country's new leadership should also not forget that its work is just beginning. Building a new political order will be difficult, not least because Libyan political culture is notoriously underdeveloped, with only the barest history of civic engagement.

However, if the leaders of the National Transitional Council (NTC) prove to be as politically canny as they were physically brave, they'll soon realise that their national vice is actually a potential virtue.

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 Fears for Libya and Syria’s WMDs

Fears for Libya and Syria’s WMDs Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Libya, Syria, Updates    

Both Libya and Syria have large arsenals of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and with the demise of Gaddaffi's regime and possibily the Assad regime, there are concerns that the WMDs could get into the wrong hands - with catastrophic results.

According to Ynet, most of Libya's chemical weapons are held at a facility located in Rabta, south of Tripoli. Western analysts believe that the country's WMD arsenal alone contains some 10 tons of various chemical agents which can inflict grave damage. It is also believed that Gaddafi was in possession of Scud-B missiles, over 1,000 tons of uranium powder and mass quantities of conventional weapons.

Western intelligence officials are trying to track Libya's chemical weapons arsenal. On CNN, US Envoy to the UN Susan Rice said that the US was taking steps to prevent the weapons from falling into the wrong hands.


Bringing Gaddafi to justice may be a trial for NATO

Bringing Gaddafi to justice may be a trial for NATO Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes, Libya, United Nations, Updates    

If the hiding place of recently deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is found, there is always the question of where, how and even if he will be brought to trial. Lawyer/activist Geoffrey Robertson has written an op-ed in today's Sydney Morning Herald, calling for Gaddafi to be handed-over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) rather than summarily executed or given a farcical show-trial a la Saddam Hussein. Robertson argues that only an ICC trial would truly expose Gaddafi as the monster that he is.

There must be no repeat of the Bush administration's error of allowing Saddam to be speedily executed for a minor offence while his greatest atrocities, such as the 1988 chemical attack at Halabja, which killed 7000 civilians, went uninvestigated and unprosecuted...

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The good oil Saikal

The good oil Saikal Author: Allon Lee Categories: Libya, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Updates    

Some analysts just cannot help themselves.

Take ANU Professor Amin Saikal who has articles in today's Age, the Australian Financial Review and on ABC's Unleashed website playing an old favourite love song - Libya's Colonel Gaddafi (or insert Middle East dictator's name here) remained in power for so long because the West supported him for his oil.

Well, analysts like Saikal who peddle a predictable line in blaming the West for all the Middle East's ills should note that Libyan rebels are unhappy, not with Western states but China, Russia and Brazil for abstaining from voting for the UN Security Council Resolution authorising NATO's use of force to impose a no-fly zone in Libya.

Please don't bother seeking out any references to China, Russia and Brazil in Saikal's pieces; they aren't even mentioned.


Libya after Gaddafi/ The Aftermath of the Eilat Attack

Libya after Gaddafi/ The Aftermath of the Eilat Attack Categories: Egypt, Israel, Libya, Updates    

As readers are doubtless aware, Libyan rebels are in the capital, Tripoli, and the fall of the Gaddafi regime now looks imminent. This Update features an article and some good links on the complex question of what might happen next. It also features some material on the ongoing tense situation on Israel's southern border where rockets continue to be fired into Israel from Gaza despite a supposed new ceasefire (see also here and here) and Egypt and Israel have had a public spat over the cross-border raid on Thursday which killed 8 Israelis, but which also apparently resulted in the death of three Egyptian security officers, possibly from Israeli fire.

Libya joins in "tit-for-tat" on UK riots as Israel offers advice

Libya joins in "tit-for-tat" on UK riots as Israel offers advice Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Israel, Libya, United Kingdom, Updates    

Perhaps taking their cue from Iran yesterday, the Libyan Government has released the following statement regarding the London riots (via Reuters):

"Cameron has lost his legitimacy and must go... after the massive popular protests that reject him and his government, especially after the violent police repression unleashed by his government against peaceful protesters... to force the British people to accept a government it rejects... The international community (should) not stand with arms folded in the face of this gross aggression against the rights of the British people, who are demanding their right to rule their country."

If this statement sounds a little familiar, that may be because...

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Can Hamas be coaxed into changing its tune?

Can Hamas be coaxed into changing its tune? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Egypt, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Libya, Terrorism, Updates    

Lawlessness in North Africa appears to have opened up a new route for weapons smuggling into Gaza. Reuters has reported Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon explaining that weapons are now being smuggled from Libya through Egypt and into the Palestinian enclave.

"Weapons are available in Libya as a result of the unstable situation there, and Hamas has exploited it to buy weapons from Libyan smugglers," Yaalon told foreign journalists in a briefing, without elaborating on the kind of munitions involved.

The prospect of more weapons being funneled to Hamas is rather grim for Israel, suggesting that the conflict will never end...

Assad's carte blanche is hurting Syrians

Assad's carte blanche is hurting Syrians Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: America, Iran, Libya, Syria, Updates    

While ruminating yesterday on the US's decision to intervene in Libya, Middle East scholar Barry Rubin gave several insights as to why the West would choose Libya to attack rather than Syria. The assessement, unfortunately, is not particularly flattering for our leaders:

I would suggest that the actual main reasons revolve around ideology. The administration is now obsessed with...

A Trial for Gaddafi?

A Trial for Gaddafi? Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Security, Libya, Updates    

Earlier this week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for embattled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and two close associates.

A number of commentators have noted that this could potentially be counterproductive to the goal of ending the war in Libya quickly...

I wrote something along similar lines in a column in the April edition of the Australia/Israel Review when Gaddafi was first referred to the ICC. In it, I also offered some thoughts on why potentially counter-productive actions like this one are taken...


The forgotten struggle in Libya?

The forgotten struggle in Libya? Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Antisemitism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, International Jewry, Libya, Middle East, Updates    

Associated Press writers Matti Friedman, Aron Heller and Michelle Faul have given this bleak reminder of the once proud Jewish community of Libya, who were driven-out over several decades and currently live in exile as a diaspora - mostly in Israel.

The article outlines the current feelings of the Libyan Jewish communities:

Bublil-Waldman, who heads an organization of Jews from Arab countries in San Francisco, said she was still angry and hurt by the memory of her family's expulsion from Libya. Those feelings remained strong, she said, and at this point she "would be afraid to go." Navit Barel, a 34-year-old Israeli of Libyan descent, said the upheaval made her want to visit the country where her parents were born. Her mother and father, now deceased, both grew up near the Dar al-Bishi synagogue. "I feel like it brought back my yearning to talk to my father," she said.

The Libyan Revolution Facing Defeat/ More on Mideast Democracy

The Libyan Revolution Facing Defeat/ More on Mideast Democracy Categories: Libya, Middle East, Updates    

With news this morning that the UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as allowing "all necessary measures... excluding a foreign occupation force" to protect Libyan civilians, this Update features a look at the military situation in Libya and the case for additional measures along the lines of those just approved.

The Itamar Attack/ Libya and US Foreign Policy Categories: Israel, Libya, Palestinians, Terrorism, Updates    

This Update focuses on the implications and aftermath of the Itamar terrorist attack on Friday night, when assailants entered a home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar and murdered five members of the Fogel family, including a three-month-old baby and two other children. This horrific attack has political implications, because, as Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post documents, the Palestinian Authority's initial response appeared half-hearted, leading to both an American implication that more was expected, and some critical words from Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. Moreover, official Palestinian media claimed that it was not Palestinians who carried out the attack.

International Intervention in Libya? Categories: International Security, Libya, Updates    

Today's Update deals with the international debate over whether outside parties can or should intervene in the conflict in Libya between long-serving eccentric dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the rebels seeking his overthrow.

First up, reviewing the strategic realities of the current conflict is Michael Knights, a military expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He reviews the course of the fighting so far, and the relative success the Gaddafi forces have had in using their greater mobility to squeeze rebel pockets in Western Libya (though they remain unable to dent the rebel-held towns of the East.)

Israel and the Middle East Unrest/Bernard Lewis Categories: Islamic Extremism, Israel, Libya, Middle East, Updates    

This Update features an interpretation of the Middle East unrest by probably the world's greatest scholar of Middle East history - 94-year-old Prof. Bernard Lewis. But first it also features some important new commentary on the ways in which an excessive focus on Israel has distorted both understanding of the Mideast region, and more importantly, policy toward the Arab dictators.

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Watching, Worrying and Hoping Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Egypt, Israel, Libya, Middle East    

In the long run, the feeling in Jerusalem is that the mayhem across the Middle East will serve Israel's interests. The precedent whereby Arab citizenries demand their leaders deliver jobs, education and personal dignity is priceless.

The Last Word: The Green Devolution Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia, Islamic Extremism, Libya    

Gaddafi has had a few supporters who from time to time promoted his "wisdom". In fact, my copy of Jamahiriya: Era of the Masses, which contains Gaddafi's poetry as well as philosophy, was obtained gratis at the now-defunct Sydney bookshop of the pro-Soviet Socialist Party of Australia


Libya unrest continues Categories: Libya, Updates    

The unrest and violence in Libya continue, with allegations of thousands killed, terrible stories coming from refugees, and dictator Muammar Gaddafi apparently consolidating his hold over the capital Tripoli even as rebels gain control of more and more other towns. This Update is devoted to provide the background, details and analysis to help understand both what is happening in Libya and what is at stake.