The Middle East Channel

Daily News Brief — August 5, 2010

Iran, U.S.: Putting negotiations back on the table?The Associated Press has received access to letters by Iranian officials which indicate that progress in talks about Iran’s nuclear program is unlikely. AP is reporting that the two letters show Iran is determined to continue its nuclear advancement even while the U.S., UN and EU have issued ...

Iran, U.S.: Putting negotiations back on the table?
The Associated Press has received access to letters by Iranian officials which indicate that progress in talks about Iran’s nuclear program is unlikely. AP is reporting that the two letters show Iran is determined to continue its nuclear advancement even while the U.S., UN and EU have issued new, tougher rounds of sanctions against Iran. Meanwhile, NPR is reporting that the U.S. and Iran have been signaling in the last few days that they would be willing to return to the negotiating table, despite the recent economic sanctions and “hostile public remarks from both sides.”

  • A new study concludes Jews get better legal aid services than Arabs in Israel.
  • Lebanon is detaining an Israeli spy suspect.
  • Israel is handing over the Turkish ships from the Gaza flotilla raid today.
  • Three Israeli residents indicted for allegedly spying for Syria.
  • Hamas urges Fatah to avoid direct talks with Israel.

Daily Snapshot

Bodyguards react as they protect Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) while he greets people in Hamedan 208 miles) southwest of Tehran, on August 4, 2010. Ahmadinejad was unhurt after an explosive device, officially described as a firecracker, went off near his motorcade (Saman Aghvami/AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis
‘The View from the Middle East: The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll’ (Shibley Telhami, The Brookings Institution)
Today at 10:00am, the Brookings Institution will be formally releasing the results of its annual Arab public opinion poll. Laura Rozen previewed the teaser results (pdf) and found that the optimism over American policies in the Middle East had gone from 51% just over a year ago to around 16% currently. Said poll convener Shibley Telhami about the results: “The data leaves little doubt that the deciding factor in the shift of opinion toward the Obama administration is disappointment on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

‘Obama offers Iran an opening on engagement’ (David Ignatius, Washington Post)
As many analysts continue to discuss the increasing danger emanating from Tehran, President Obama has just convened a small group meeting to redouble efforts at engagement–on both the nuclear issue and potential coordination over regional issues including Afghanistan. Yet Obama clearly comes at engagement from the position of self-professed strength vis a vis Tehran, and sees it coming on the foundation of a sanctions regime which he believes has greatly weakened the government.

‘Restraint is not weakness’ (Haaretz)
In light of this week’s skirmishes between the IDF and Lebanese forces, Israel must be careful to refrain from any rash actions that might add fuel to a combustible situation. Given the internal volatility within Lebanon and the prospect that regional conflict might further materialize from this unstable border, Israel must ensure that its claims of sovereignty and self-defense do not morph into something more sinister.

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