By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Global Dialogue on the Future of Iran, an effort by the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs to provide a platform for Iranians to discuss and debate the country’s future, mostly through Internet social media, has received more than 149,000 distinct visitors from inside Iran, according to a Foreign Affairs source.
I wrote about it in a little more detail here.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, May 10, 2013 at 9:16 PM - 0 Comments
Canada severed diplomatic relations with Iran last September, cutting off contact between the Iranian and Canadian governments. Simultaneously, however, a team at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has been working to engage directly with Iranian citizens.
It’s a difficult challenge. DFAIT is banking on the populist potential of the Internet and online social media.
To this end, DFAIT and University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs are, today and tomorrow, hosting a conference, or a “Global Dialogue” on the future of Iran. The physical conference is taking place at U of T and involves speakers from the Iranian diaspora.
The deeper goal, however, is to converse with Iranians inside Iran using a variety of social media. Iranians not at the conference can submit questions through Google Moderator and other tools. Some already have. The conference is also being live-streamed online, and has accounts on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 12:50 PM - 0 Comments
I’m guilty, perhaps, of seeing too much of today’s conflicts through the lens of the Spanish Civil War. I spent years of my life immersed in studying and writing about it, and it shaped the way I think.
And yet the lessons from that tragedy continue to reverberate, even if they are largely ignored. The primary one is that fascism cannot be appeased. Few openly dispute that today, given the near-universal acceptance that the Second World War was a good and necessary war, and that we waited too long to confront the fascism behind it.
Instead, we pretend fascism isn’t there, to justify not fighting against it. We sneer at those who use the term to describe the Khomeinists in Iran — although that state’s demand for subservient conformity, its murderous suppression of dissent, and the oppression it visits on its Baha’i religious minority doesn’t leave room for a lot of other equally accurate adjectives.
We ignore the Taliban’s bloodlust, their ethnic and religious supremacism, and we say they are in fact Pashtun nationalists, or conservative Muslims, or anti-imperialists, or something else we cannot understand because we are Western and they are not and it’s arrogant for us to even try. And so we abandon their victims and congratulate ourselves on not making the same mistakes as George W. Bush. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Friday, March 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM - 0 Comments
This morning I sent Suzanne Legault, Canada’s information commissioner, the following letter. Updates will be posted here as warranted.
Dear Madam Legault:
I am writing to file a formal complaint about an access-to-information request I filed with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on August 23, 2012. The file number is [...]
On September 25, 2012, DFAIT sent me a letter indicating that it would not be able to meet the statutory limit of 30 days and granted itself a 150-day extension. I was disappointed but took DFAIT at its word that his deadline would be met, which is why I didn’t file a formal complaint within sixty days of receiving the extension notice.
DFAIT, however, has not met its self-imposed deadline. [...] at DFAIT has informed me that a partial release was been mailed today. The balance of the disclosure is being held up by the Privy Council Office. Ms. [...] says she does not know when the PCO will release this material. Ms. [...] also informs me that the material the PCO is holding up consists of four pages. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 3:32 PM - 0 Comments
Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar is in Vienna this week to attend a session of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
He is listed in a 26 July 2010 decision of the Council of the European Union as an individual members states should bar from entry because of his links to nuclear and ballistic missiles activities.
Austria is a member of the EU.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 9:11 PM - 0 Comments
To say that Hugo Chavez divided Venezuelans doesn’t do justice to the extremes of emotion he provoked in his fellow citizens.
I once spent an evening with a wealthy woman in Caracas who made increasingly lurid and damning allegations about the president, culminating in an anecdote about a friend of a relative of a friend who supposedly knew Chavez and heard him express admiration for Hitler.
This was preposterous, but then so was much of the hagiography that surrounded Chavez when he lived, and that will surely get kicked up a notch now. Chavez was not a tyrant, but nor was he saint who sought to liberate Venezuela’s poor and unite the country behind revolutionary socialism. That Venezuela is so split now at the moment of his death is the natural result of his own polarizing politics.
Chavez was an autocratic populist who governed as if in the midst of a perpetual election campaign in which he was not constrained by normal democratic rules. For Chavez, Venezuelans could be divided between his supporters — chavistas — and opponents. Most chavistas were poor, and many benefited from his polices designed to help them. Chavez brought them subsidized food and more accessible healthcare. He built cable cars to connect residents of mountainside shantytowns to the centre of Caracas.
But to Chavez the poor were also — and perhaps primarily — supporters to be mobilized. So many of his social programs were politicized. The committees administering them were linked to Chavez’s party. Schoolchildren learned to sing his praise. In one particularly telling incident, Venezuelans who signed a petition asking for a presidential recall referendum found themselves excluded from public service jobs — whether they were poor and in need of employment or not.
The sad irony is that after 14 years with Chavez in power, Venezuelans are still poor. Wealth is now distributed more evenly, but there is less of it to go around. While the economies of neighbouring countries such as Brazil and Colombia have expanded during the past decade, Venezuela’s has stagnated. Chavez made economic decisions on the fly, sometimes announcing them during weekly unscripted televised addresses that also included the president singing and dancing.
He devalued the currency. He nationalized the oil industry and managed it poorly. He didn’t diversify the country’s economy. Some 50 per cent of government revenue comes from oil. If its prices hadn’t have soared so high during his presidency, Venezuela would be in even worse financial shape than it is now.
Hugo Chavez tried to raise Venezuela’s global profile by forging alliances with pretty much anyone opposed to the United States. His bonds with Fidel Castro’s Cuba at least made some ideological sense; those with the archconservative theocrats running Iran betray the amoral hypocrisy of his brand of socialism.
If Chavez can be justifiably praised, it is for empowering Venezuela’s vast underclass. They had been variously cheated, exploited, and ignored before he came to power. They cannot be ignored any longer. With luck, a more democratic, liberal, and economically competent president will eventually take Chavez’s place without forgetting that lesson.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 10:58 AM - 0 Comments
Canada’s Access to Information Act stipulates that a government institution should disclose information 30 days after a request is received.
It also allows government institutions to extend this time limit to a “reasonable” length of time, if searching through records would interfere with the work of the government department in question, or if “consultations” are necessary that cannot be completed within the original time limit.
The Act’s application is fairly narrowly defined. It does not apply to “confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada,” and thereby shelters from scrutiny much pertaining to Cabinet and committees of Cabinet.
In practice, my experience is that requests are rarely completed within 30 days. Just what constitutes a “reasonable” extension is debatable. I’ve just received a disclosure from the Canada Border Services Agency for a request I made in 2010. I’ve similarly had to wait three years for a response from the Canadian International Development Agency. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 3:22 PM - 0 Comments
Barely a month ago, the arc of Israeli politics seemed pretty clear, if not all that promising. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party had teamed up with the even more right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu, and the combined bloc was poised to dominate the election. Its probable coalition partners included Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, which wants to formally annex a chunk of the West Bank and is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel was lurching to the right, throwing away what might be its last chance at a workable peace with the Palestinians.
This was more or less how I read things at the time. I was hardly alone. And then elections in January proved us wrong. Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu did win a plurality of seats, and Jewish Home finished a strong — though weaker than expected — fourth. But the right did not surge overall. And the biggest advance was achieved by the centrist Yesh Atid party, whose leader, Yair Lapid, supports a two-state solution, even if it was not the focus of his platform.
I wrote after the elections, that their results were unlikely to herald much progress on negotiations with the Palestinians. The issue simply didn’t factor in the campaign. But the Israeli centre and left had shown itself to have life, forcing Netanyahu to say he would try to form a broad coalition, rather than seeking refuge among likeminded nationalists.
Now that coalition is beginning to take shape. Netanyahu has forged an alliance with the Hatnua party and its chair Tzipi Livni — a strong proponent of a negotiated peace built on two states. Livni will be justice minister, and is charged with leading negotiations on the Palestinian issue. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
The House of Commons foreign affairs committee met today to discuss Mali, where France is currently engaged in war against al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups who had taken control of the northern half of the country. Canada has loaned France the use of a transport plane.
Robert Fowler, the former Canadian and UN diplomat who spent 130 days as a hostage of these same Islamists in northern Mali in 2008 and 2009, testified to the committee.
Fowler argued that Canada should contribute more to the French-led mission, including military assets such as intelligence officers, air power and special forces. He said millions of people in northern Africa are in “significant peril” from the Islamist threat and that no Canadians — indeed no Westerners at all — are safe in large swaths of the Sahel where these Islamists hold sway.
There can be no negotiations with them, he said, because there is no middle ground between what they want and what we might be prepared to give. He recalled his captors bragging about the millions of dollars they had obtained through kidnapping and smuggling, and yet they dressed in rags. They didn’t care about material possessions, only jihad and entering paradise as a martyr in God’s war against the infidels. Economic development, in other words, isn’t going to convince them to put down their weapons. They don’t want jobs; they want to die. And they must be killed — “diminished” is how Fowler put it. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 9:52 PM - 0 Comments
Monday night’s debate on Mali in the House of Commons began with Bob Dechert, the Conservative parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, describing the proceedings as evidence the government wants to engage Parliament regarding Canada’s response to the ongoing conflict in that country.
There is a tradition of Parliament debating when this country goes to war. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King famously delayed Canada’s entrance into the Second World War until Parliament could decide. The stakes were smaller this time. Canada’s military contribution to the Mali war is limited to the loan of one transport plane to France, and that decision was made by the Prime Minister, without debate in the House.
Nevertheless, here was a chance for Parliament to discuss Canada’s role in a matter Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has called part of “the great struggle of our generation.” You might think, given that description, that Baird would have shown up. He didn’t. Neither did most MPs. Of party leaders, only outgoing Liberal chief Bob Rae and Elizabeth May of the Greens took part. Attendance peaked at fewer than 40 members, and dropped off as the evening wore on.
For much of the night, it was hard to blame those who stayed away. The discussion was hardly inspiring to watch. There were scripted remarks delivered woodenly from sheets of paper. Bob Dechert appeared to be reading talking points from his smart phone. Little substantial discussion took place about the actual war and what Canada’s involvement in it should or should not be.
Opposition parties spent an awful lot of time arguing that Canada has recklessly cut back aid to, and its diplomatic presence in, Africa. This might be worth further discussion, but meanwhile there’s a war on. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says French soldiers have killed “hundreds” of Islamists over the past month. Frozen CIDA funding isn’t the biggest problem Mali has right now. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:53 PM - 0 Comments
Election results in a real democracy are unknowable in advance, and the Israeli electorate is especially fickle. Even so, the results of yesterday’s legislative elections have surprised almost everyone.
Analysts and commentators — backed up by polling data — predicted a shift rightwards. And to be sure, the right did enjoy some success. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s combined Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu bloc won a plurality of seats with 31 out of a possible 120, but far fewer than the two parties won separately last time around. And a new right-wing force, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, has burst onto Israel’s political scene with 11 seats. Bennett is firmly opposed to the creation a Palestinian state, and wants Israel to formally annex a big chunk of the West Bank.
But the biggest surge belonged to the centrist Yesh Atid party, led by former television journalist Yair Lapid. It finished second, with 19 seats. Lapid aimed his campaign at Israel’s broadly secular middle class, whose members worry about the cost of living, the quality of Israel’s public services, and especially the lack of affordable housing. Significantly, he is confronting Israel’s growing community of ultra-orthodox Jews by arguing that they too must serve in the army and work for a living. (Many choose extended study instead.) Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:22 PM - 0 Comments
Is there are a French television show equivalent of The Simpsons? If so, its writers should start working on some catchy anti-American slurs that imply military cowardice.
It was The Simpsons, back in 1995, that first dubbed the French “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” — a phrase that gained renewed currency in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, which France declined to join.
The barb stuck, at least in America, Britain and Canada, where it played into popular perceptions about France’s quick defeat and subsequent collaboration in the Second World War, and about its perceived disdain for America and Britain in general. For defenders of France, the sneer simply underlined America’s supposed penchant for imperialism in contrast to France’s preference for diplomacy and multilateralism.
These stereotypes were not accurate then and aren’t now. France has always been willing to act with force, and without permission, when doing so suited its interests. And from France’s perspective, many of its interests are in its former colonies in Africa. It’s not surprising then that on Friday France launched a military intervention in Mali, where al-Qaeda and other Islamists have taken over the northern half of the country and were poised to push south, threatening the capital Bamako. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM - 0 Comments
Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of defence, is a former Republican senator, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and, according to some of his critics, unfit to lead America’s military because of his supposedly anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic views.
Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, informs readers that prejudice, like cooking, has an “olfactory element” element to it, and the smell around Hagel is particularly ripe.
Hagel once said the “Jewish lobby” intimidates a lot of people in Washington. Stephens condemns this on the basis that the pro-Israel lobby is not exclusively Jewish, and because Jews are not a monolithic political bloc. Fair enough–but Stephens’ suggestion a few paragraphs later that Jewish Americans might want to re-consider their support for Obama because he’s no friend of Israel is built on the same assumption of Jewish groupthink. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM - 0 Comments
Cindor Reeves, once the brother-in-law of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, and the man who risked his life to bring Taylor to justice, has been granted landed immigrant status in the Netherlands.
Reeves helped Taylor run guns and diamonds between Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s and 2000s. He has never denied this. Then, at great risk to himself and without asking for anything in return, he helped the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone build its case against Taylor. Taylor is currently serving a 50-year sentence for aiding and abetting war crimes, including murder, terror, and rape.
Reeves was initially put under witness protection in Holland and then Germany, but took his family to Canada on his own accord and in doing so lost the Special Court’s protection.
He lived here for six years and left in 2012, following a deportation order against him. Canada alleged he had been involved in crimes against humanity though it could not produce a shred of evidence that he had ever personally harmed anyone. Prosecutors at the Special Court were explicit that they would never had considered charging Reeves, regardless of the help he gave them. Reeves didn’t receive immunity because of the risks he took on the court’s behalf.
Reeves’ wife and children remain in Canada. This country granted them refugee status on the grounds that their relationship with Reeves would endanger their lives if they returned to Liberia, where Taylor still has allies. Canada didn’t extend this consideration to Reeves himself.
Reeves is 40 years old. He’s starting his life over for at least the fourth time. Canada, to its shame, denied him a chance to do so here. The Netherlands, to its credit, has shown more honour and morality than Ottawa.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM - 0 Comments
Egyptian atheist Alber Saber is today out of jail, free on bail pending the results of an appeal against a three-year-sentence imposed on him last week for blasphemy and contempt of religion.
His sentence is an affront to justice and a worrying sign of where Egypt may be heading two years after the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. On other hand, Saber’s lucky he’s not dead.
In September, a crowd surrounded Saber’s home, threatening to kill him and burn it down. Saber’s mother, a Coptic Christian, called the police for help. They came and arrested him instead. In prison, according to one of Saber’s lawyers, a police officer told the other inmates to kill him. The prisoners attacked him and cut his neck with a razor.
Saber’s supposed crimes are difficult to pin down. His arrest came during the height of public uproar over the trailer for a film, The Innocence of Muslims, that mocks Islam and the prophet Mohammad. Saber was initially accused of circulating the trailer. Police found no evidence he had done so and eventually based their charges on other online statements he had allegedly made. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 2:36 PM - 0 Comments
“It is only our task to bring democratic change to Russia,” says Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza. “It’s for the democratic opposition. We don’t want or need outside actors to come in and do anything.”
But, says Kara-Murza, there is much that Western democracies such as Canada can do to help Russian democracy by passing legislation in their own countries.
Russia’s political elite routinely plunders the country of billions of dollars. They operate like organized criminals: protecting their own and murderously silencing those who expose them. They rule in the style of Zimbabwe or Belarus, says Kara-Murza, but prefer the West as a safe place to store their money, buy second homes, and send their children to school. And it is in the West where they are most vulnerable.
Kara-Murza was in Ottawa this week to urge Canada to pass a private member’s bill introduced by Liberal member of Parliament Irwin Cotler. The proposed legislation would render inadmissible to Canada Russians who played a role in a particularly egregious example of Russian state pillage and brutality. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 4:19 PM - 0 Comments
Revolutions make for unlikely allies, and Egypt’s is no exception.
I first met Mahmoud Ibrahim on the patio of an outdoor café in a trendy Cairo neighbourhood in October. He spoke clear English, had at least two smart phones, and was on this way to the United States to volunteer for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign after receiving a fellowship from an American NGO.
Ibrahim was a devoted supporter of the recently deposed Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, and had worked on the campaign of Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s last prime minister, who ran unsuccessfully to succeed him.
Ibrahim rejected the suggestion that Mubarak was a dictator and was of course opposed to the massive protests that toppled him. Egypt’s revolutionaries were not his political comrades then. Now many of them are. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 5:28 PM - 0 Comments
Well, that didn’t take long.
Less than six months since Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first genuinely democratically elected president, it’s becoming clear he’s not all that interested in governing as a democrat.
Late last month, Morsi, a longtime member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, granted himself sweeping new power preventing any authority, including the judiciary, from revoking his decisions. He said he will give these up after a new constitution is ratified following a referendum on Dec. 15.
But Morsi’s opponents fear the constitution, drafted by Islamists, will irrevocably change Egyptian society and politics, subverting democracy to sharia, or Islamic law. Opposition that had been bubbling for months has exploded.
Clashes between Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and his opponents — who include secular liberal and leftist revolutionaries, as well as supporters of former president Hosni Mubarak — have resulted in at least five deaths and hundreds injured. The man who came to power on the heels of a democratic revolution now governs from a presidential palace fronted by barbed wire and guarded by tanks. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 7:14 AM - 0 CommentsThe storm now rolling through Egypt was brewing when I visited last month.
Secular liberals and leftists who had spearheaded the revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak faltered in the political process that followed. Islamists, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, triumphed in parliamentary elections. And longtime Muslim Brother Mohamed Morsi won the presidency — albeit narrowly, and in a vote where barely half of eligible voters cast a ballot.
Islamists also dominated the Constituent Assembly, tasked with rewriting Egypt’s constitution, and it was here that most liberals focused their anger. They feared the new document would entrench Islam as the political foundation of the new Egypt.
The Constituent Assembly reportedly ignored the concerns of its liberal members, and at least one quit in frustration. But it at least has the veneer of pluralism. Morsi’s decree, announced last Thursday, that expanded his powers and put his decisions beyond judicial oversight, was more nakedly authoritarian.
Morsi might have felt emboldened by the international attention and praise he received for his role in negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But he grossly misread the mood of his fellow Egyptians. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM - 0 Comments
In the West Bank several years ago, I asked a Palestinian activist how he proposed convincing Israel to make some sort of concession to Palestinian sovereignty. I forget now the specific point we were discussing. But I do remember his response. Israel, he said, cannot be convinced of anything. It must be compelled — non-violently, he added.
Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, he said, is old-fashioned colonialism, and throughout history colonizers have never given up their colonies simply because they felt like it. They were pressured to do so. There may be exceptions to the rule, but broadly speaking, he’s right. Colonies are freed when the costs of keeping them outweigh the benefits.
I’d argue that Israel has long since passed this point with the West Bank. Controlling the territory without giving citizenship rights to the Palestinians who live there erodes Israel’s democratic legitimacy; annexing the place and enfranchising all its inhabitants would soon make Jews a minority in all of Israel.
By Michael Petrou - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 12:03 AM - 0 Comments
Six days into the latest battle between Israel and Hamas, and other Islamist groups in the Gaza strip, there is no end to the fighting in sight.
It began in earnest on Wednesday, with Israel’s assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari and assorted air strikes against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which followed months of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel. It still seemed possible a day or two later that the two groups might settle for a truce and another period of uneasy calm.
This is now clearly not the case. Both sides have continuously escalated their assaults — Hamas by sending rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; and Israel with its unrelenting air strikes and now naval artillery barrages. On Sunday it appeared to expand its targets to civilian ones, hitting the homes and offices of Hamas government officials and flattening police and security buildings.
There are several unanswered questions at this stage in the conflict:
1. What are Israel’s goals?
Its stated reasons for the offensive have been to degrade Hamas’s military capabilities and to re-establish the principle of deterrence — in other words, to make it clear to Hamas the future rocket strikes will trigger an overwhelming and punishing response.
Israel’s targeting of Hamas’s civilian infrastructure suggests it may be aiming to destroy it as a political force as well. This is unlikely to succeed and, if it did, would leave Gaza without political leadership Israel could hold responsible for future rocket attacks.
2. Is a ground invasion inevitable?
The answer to this question depends on what Israel’s goals are. It’s possible there are weapons caches and the like that Israel feels it needs troops on the ground to find and destroy. But its ability to assassinate Jabari, for example, suggests a sophisticated knowledge of where things are in Gaza, and therefore the ability to hit them from the air. Still, the 75,000 troops it is in the process of mobilizing are a heck of a bluff.
3. How will this end?
Israel failed to destroy Hamas in wars in 2006 and 2008-9. A wide-ranging and devastating campaign in Lebanon in 2006 left Hezbollah intact. Unless Israel is contemplating re-occupying the Gaza strip — and there is as of yet no evidence that it is — this war will also end with Hamas as the principle power in Gaza. Israel’s best hope is that it will be deterred and degraded. The fighting will likely end when a ceasefire is negotiated. Neither side will stop unless there is some assurance that their opponents will do the same.
4. What role will Egypt play?
Prior to the Arab Spring, Egypt and Israel enjoyed an alliance that was chilly and without affection, but nevertheless largely functional. Now the president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, comes from the ranks of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot. Morsi has decisively taken Hamas’s side in this battle, even sending his prime minister, Hashim Qandil, to Gaza in the midst of Israeli air strikes (requiring Israel to suspend them during his visit).
This inevitably strains Egypt’s relationship with Israel. Israel, however, has few friends who also talk to Hamas. Egypt is therefore still the party most likely to broker a ceasefire. There are no signs that one is imminent.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 4:11 PM - 0 Comments
Here is what’s making news on Sunday morning:
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged from a cabinet meeting to say that Israel is prepared to expand its operation.
- Reuters is reporting that Israel fired artillery into Syria on Saturday in response to gunfire aimed at its troops.
- The Washington Post reports that Israeli military hit two buildings used by journalists in Gaza. The paper also reports that the country’s missile defence system stopped a long-range rocket over Tel Aviv.
And here is Michael Petrou on what is at stake:
The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is on the brink of escalation into a much wider war and a possible Israeli ground invasion of the Palestinian territory.
Following months of Palestinian rocket attacks against civilian targets in southern Israel — as well as an anti-tank missile attack against a military jeep — on Wednesday Israel assassinated Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jabari in a precise airstrike as he traveled in his car.
Israel also targeted a number of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad weapons depots and rocket launching sites. The Palestinian militant groups responded with a flurry of rocket attacks, including several using what appear to be Iranian Fajr-5 missiles that were launched at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem — the first time Israel’s two largest cities have been attacked from Gaza. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 11:38 AM - 0 Comments
Cotler, in the House, continues his good and mostly ignored fight on Iran here. His point about our focus on Iran’s nuclear issue overshadowing its continuous human rights violations is a good one.
The latest on Sotoudeh is here.
Sotoudeh was last month awardedthe European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 10:29 AM - 0 Comments
The Ontario Superior Court has issued a restraining order against Iran’s property in Canada, as the family of an American woman killed by Hamas seeks to collect on a U.S. court judgment totalling almost $13 million.
Marla Bennett, a 24-year-old graduate student and American citizen, was killed in a 2002 bomb attack in Jerusalem for which Hamas claimed responsibility. A U.S. court ruled that Hamas is an Iranian proxy and ordered Iran to pay the money to Bennett’s parents and sister.
Because the plaintiffs were unable to collect on Iranian assets in America, they are seeking to do so in Canada — which is why the Canadian properties have been frozen, preventing their sale or transfer. Continue…