Morning Brief, Friday, July 21
Crisis in the Middle East Israel calls up reserve troops, fueling fears of a possible ground invasion, and continues to pummel southern Lebanon with air strikes. More than a dozen are hurt when Hezbollah rockets hit Haifa. Israelis warn civilians in southern Lebanon to leave immediately, though many are finding it difficult because of roads ...
Crisis in the Middle East
Crisis in the Middle East
Israel calls up reserve troops, fueling fears of a possible ground invasion, and continues to pummel southern Lebanon with air strikes. More than a dozen are hurt when Hezbollah rockets hit Haifa. Israelis warn civilians in southern Lebanon to leave immediately, though many are finding it difficult because of roads damaged by Israeli strikes. The U.N. estimates that 20 percent of Lebanon's population has been displaced by the fighting, and the Daily Star reports on the blow to Beirut's businesses.
The civilian toll in Lebanon, now at more than 300 dead and counting, is becoming nightmarish. Israel's allies are increasingly concerned that the country is undermining its own goals by bombing so many targets. But it seems the Bush administration is focused on a longer-term strategy:
In the administration's view, the new conflict is not just a crisis to be managed. It is also an opportunity to seriously degrade a big threat in the region, just as Bush believes he is doing in Iraq. Israel's crippling of Hezbollah, officials also hope, would complete the work of building a functioning democracy in Lebanon and send a strong message to the Syrian and Iranian backers of Hezbollah.
Here's Fouad Ajami in the WSJ on Hezbollah's tactics and analysis on the sidelining of political Palestinian leaders in favor of militants. German and Russian intelligence are working to win the release of the three captured Israeli soldiers.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, Iraq's most powerful Shia cleric (profiled recently here), has called on his countrymen to put an end to hatred and violence.The NYT's Sabrina Tavernise reports on how the shuttering of Baghdad bakeries reveals a society increasingly torn apart:
A year ago, when some of the first bakers were killed, Iraqis in the capital dismissed the deaths as a bizarre aberration. Civil war is not possible here, they said. Sunnis and Shiites have intermarried for generations, they said, and Iraqis will not fight Iraqis on the basis of sect.
For months Iraqis held on to the belief that sectarian attacks were carried out by outsiders, but the bombing of a Shiite shrine in February, after which Shiite militias went on a rampage, dragging Sunnis out of mosques and homes and killing them, shattered that. The unrelenting violence has hardened Iraqis against one another, and people talk in resigned tones about civil war.
Chief U.S. negotiator on North Korea retracts his statement yesterday that Iranians were present at the July 4 launching of North Korean missiles. Indian authorities arrest three in connection with the Mumbai bombings. Relations between Somali Islamists and Ethiopia continue to sour. Fierce fighting erupts in Port-au-Prince. The candidate trying to become France's first female president uses the Web to boost her profile. Hundreds die in North Korean floods. A Peruvian judge attempting to break the Tijuana cartel is shot dead.
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