People gather at a mass burial for the victims purportedly killed by Syrian forces in Houla, May 26, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
Syria is looking like Bosnia 20 years ago
Despite the ongoing violence in Syria, in particular the massacre in Houla over the weekend, it is seems less and less likely that an end is in sight, writes Ian Black in the Guardian.
Hanging over the whole bleak story is this unchanging truth: last year’s Arab-backed Nato intervention in Libya will not be replayed in Syria. Every idea that has been suggested to help the opposition and weaken the Damascus regime – for example humanitarian corridors, no-kill zones, safe areas or no-fly zones – would all require offensive military operations. Those are just not on the cards. Assad knows that.
Meet ‘Flame’, The Massive Spy Malware Infiltrating Iranian Computers
Kim Zetter of Wired takes an in-depth look at the latest computer virus to plague Iran’s nuclear program.
Among Flame’s many modules is one that turns on the internal microphone of an infected machine to secretly record conversations that occur either over Skype or in the computer’s near vicinity; a module that turns Bluetooth-enabled computers into a Bluetooth beacon, which scans for other Bluetooth-enabled devices in the vicinity to siphon names and phone numbers from their contacts folder; and a module that grabs and stores frequent screenshots of activity on the machine, such as instant-messaging and email communications.
Egypt’s Presidential Choices: The Trouble with Democracy
Reporting from Cairo, Abigail Hauslohner of Time asks why neither of the two former frontrunners for the Egyptian presidency failed to make it into the next round of voting.
To Egypt’s liberals and leftists, it’s a nightmare scenario. In a race that involved 13 candidates and five front runners — including three relative moderates like [Arab nationalist candidate Hamdeen] Sabbahi — the country has wound up with two extremes to choose their next leader from. It’s a reality that has left some Egyptians promising to boycott the June electoral finale and others simply wondering: Where did we go wrong?
Michael Ledeen of PJ Media believes that the current American policy on Iran is doomed to failure.
Sanctions will neither stop the Iranian nuclear program nor stop the Real War. Only a change in regime can accomplish that. To that end, sanctions could be a positive force if they were combined with support for the Iranian opposition. Just ask the Revolutionary Guards how serious the resistance is: the RG just deployed an additional eight thousand soldiers—some in uniform, others in plain clothes–in the streets of Tehran.But no Western leader cares to help the Iranian opposition, even verbally. When those leaders say “no option is off the table,” they mean some day there might be a military attack against Iran. But financial and tactical assistance to the Iranian people willing to actively fight for freedom is totally off any Western strategic table
The west must try something new in Pakistan and Afghanistan if it really wants to win the war on terror, says Dilip Hiro in the Los Angeles Times.
[A]ny resolution to the Afghan war must involve engagement with the Taliban and an attempt to draw them into a power-sharing deal in post-2014 Afghanistan. President Obama’s recent signing of the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership with the Karzai government should give the two presidents greater confidence in negotiations with the Taliban if and when these are resumed. The challenge that the West faces in Pakistan requires a different approach.
Etgar Keret Reflects on Tel Aviv, Israel
Writing in the Daily Beast, author Etgar Keret offers his own take on life in Israel’s ‘bubble’.
The average Tel Avivan fell madly in love with the city at first sight. Yes, it’s true that the papers always described Tel Aviv as a bubble, and it was definitely nothing like the town he grew up in. But if Tel Aviv is a bubble, he thought, then he hoped it would keep growing and suck this whole damn country into it, along with the entire Middle East. Suddenly he’s meeting open-minded people in the street. Suddenly he has an Arab neighbor, an ultra-Orthodox neighbor, a gay neighbor, and they all say hello to each other. That hello can sometimes be cold, but he’ll take a cold hello any day over the curses and punches those people would probably be hurling at one another back in his hometown.