Foreign Policy Briefing 6/7/10

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Israel has become a “strategic liability” for the U.S., suggests Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This summary briefing comes to us through the courtesy of Just Foreign Policy.

Just Foreign Policy News

Al Jazeera Video: Israel Takes The Rachel Corrie


Israel blocks cement shipment from entering Gaza

Israel refused to allow 500 tons of cement transported by the Rachel Corrie into Gaza.

Tristan Anderson comes home
After more than a year in a Tel Aviv hospital, activist and photo-journalist Tristan Anderson has returned to California. Tristan was critically injured when he was shot in the head at close range with a high-velocity tear gas canister at the Israeli Separation Wall on March 13, 2009, while taking photos following a demonstration against the apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin.

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Israel has become a “strategic liability” for the U.S., suggests Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cordesman adds the attack on the Turkish ship to a series of “major strategic blunders,” by Israel. [Cordesman and CSIS are impeccably “hyper-centrist,” so this is a good sign – JFP.]

2) Not only is the U.S. funding both sides in the Afghan civil war, but US and Afghan investigators suspect that some US security contractors are faking and staging attacks to drum up business, the New York Times reports. “It would be my expectation that people might create their own demand,” said the commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan.





3) Writing in the Washington Post, Turkey’s ambassador to the US says Israel should apologize, agree to an international investigation, and lift the siege of Gaza. The Turkish public is stunned, in part, because Turkey has been a strong ally of Israel.

4) Two Lebanese organizations announced Saturday they plan to send an aid vessel of their own to Gaza as early as next weekend, Ynet reports. A representative of Reporters without Borders said “the ship will leave the Beirut coast on the weekend with 50 journalists and 25 European activists, including several European parliament members.”

5) The German-Jewish organization Jewish Voice for Peace in the Middle East is preparing a Jewish flotilla to Gaza, Ynetnews reports. “We intend to leave around July,” a member of the group said. The activists are frightened, she said, but not by Hamas. “Jews have been to Gaza in the past, and they were treated in a friendly manner,” Kate Leitrer said. Edith Lutz, a German Jewish member of the organization, said she took part in the Free Gaza flotilla two years ago, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told her that Hamas has nothing against Jews or Israel, only against the occupation.

6) Amnesty International said a US cruise missile carrying cluster bombs was behind a December attack in Yemen that killed 55 people, most of them civilians, AFP reports. A local official had said 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women, were killed “indiscriminately.”

7) The US has asked Israel to investigate an incident in which an Israeli-American woman from Maryland lost an eye after Israeli forces shot her with a tear gas canister during a protest in Jerusalem, AP reports. Emily Henochowicz’s mother demanded a “full and transparent investigation from the Israeli government,” as well as an apology. Sarit Michaeli, of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, said police and soldiers often fire tear gas canisters directly at people.

Israel/Palestine
8) More than 6,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to protest the Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Haaretz reports.

9) Turkey’s Chief Rabbi slammed Israel over the raid, Ynetnews reports. The rabbi praised Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who he said was making a clear distinction between the State of Israel and the Jews of his country and ensuring their safety.

10) Egyptian authorities said the Rafah border crossing to Gaza would remain open indefinitely, amid a storm of international criticism of the blockade, Haaretz reports. Egypt opened its Rafah crossing last week to allow aid convoys into the strip. A security source in Egypt said a partial lifting of the blockade was in sight. But the source said this would not solve problems such as a lack of infrastructure in Gaza.

Iran
11) Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline, the London Sunday Times reported. Some of the cruise missiles are equipped with the most advanced nuclear warheads in the Israeli arsenal. “The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran,” said a navy officer.

Afghanistan
12) Afghan President Karzai ordered a review of all cases of suspected insurgents in jails in Afghanistan and called for the release of those being held without sufficient evidence, Retuers reports. The declaration is being viewed as Karzai’s first step toward implementing one of several recommendations made at a peace conference last week aimed at bringing an end to the war. While it was not immediately clear whether the Afghan government would review detainees held at U.S. prisons and other foreign military bases in the country, NATO’s top civilian spokesman said they would cooperate with the government. Last week the first four Afghan detainees at U.S. Bagram prison appeared before an Afghan judge. The detainees were given defense lawyers for the first time and were read their charges by an Afghan prosecutor. Previously, prisoners at Bagram did not have lawyers or trials.


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