Two technology firms that monitor global Internet traffic report that Syria has been cut off from the Internet. Regular landline phone and cell phones services have been affected as well, Syrian opposition activist Ammar Abdulhamid told me. “Therefore, the possibility of accidental damage can be discounted,” said Abdulhamid. “This is something done intentionally by the regime, and reflects growing desperation on account of the recent advances made by rebels, especially in Damascus.”
Early in November, the Saudi Arabian government announced the replacement of interior minister Prince Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz, named to the post in June of this year, after the death of Prince Nayef, his elder brother.
It is now two months until the inauguration in Washington, and it would be nice if the world went into a postelection recess for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays. With Israel facing elections on January 22, there might once have been some hope for a brief respite. Alas, events in the Middle East are heating up and are likely to keep getting hotter this winter and into the spring.
Israeli forces returned fire into Syria today with some warning shots, according to the Jerusalem Post. "The IDF fired a warning shot at the Syrian military on Sunday, after a Syrian shell landed in the Golan Heights for the second time in recent days."
To many Lebanese, the massive car bomb attack in Beirut on Friday that killed the Sunni Muslim head of internal security Wissam al Hassan and seven others evoked the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri.
Yesterday a car bomb in Beirut killed a senior Lebanese security chief along with seven others, while wounding hundreds in Ashrafiyeh, a busy neighborhood in Christian-majority East Beirut. The target, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, was close to former prime minister Saad Hariri and his late father, Rafik Hariri. Yesterday evening, Hariri supporters, mostly Sunnis, closed down roads and burned tires in protest against the assassins, almost certainly tied to the Syrian regime and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Robert Gates, the former secretary of defense, got considerable attention this week when, speaking in Norfolk, Virginia, he said American officials should make it clear to the government of Israel that "they do not have a blank check to take action that could do grave harm to American vital interests." Strongly objecting to an Israeli or U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear sites, he claimed, "The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world."
On and around September 11, 2012, al Qaeda attacked multiple American assets around the world. The attack that has received the most attention is the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. But the U.S. consulate in Libya was not the only diplomatic facility assaulted by al Qaeda-affiliated groups in September. Terrorists with ties to al Qaeda’s senior leaders, including al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri, were involved in at least three other U.S. embassy sieges in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and possibly elsewhere.
A pro-America rally is scheduled to be held tomorrow outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel. The expression of support for America is being organized by Im Tirzu Movement in order to "remind the United States that Israel is America's best friend in the Middle East"
In a message to Israeli citizens yesterday, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he'd use his remarks at the United Nations to respond to the "black day" at the international body. Netanyahu is scheduled to speak later today.
“Bir Halek, Ya Fayyad” is not a catchy tune. But the popularity of Palestinian singer Kassem Najar’s song, which translates to “Get A Grip, Fayyad,” is an indication that Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, may be on the way out. Najar, however, is the least of Fayyad’s problems.
This evening on CBS's 60 Minutes, President Barack Obama called the recent violence in the Middle East "bumps in the road."
CBS's Steve Kroft asked, “Have the events that took place in the Middle East, the recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?”