Daily Brief — July 13, 2010

‘Abducted’ Iranian scientist shows up in Washington Iranian state media is reporting that the nuclear scientist, who has suddenly surfaced at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, was kidnapped by the CIA. It remains unclear if the scientist came on his own seeking refuge, or if he was passed to the embassy by U.S. officials. Iranian ...

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'Abducted' Iranian scientist shows up in Washington

Iranian state media is reporting that the nuclear scientist, who has suddenly surfaced at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, was kidnapped by the CIA. It remains unclear if the scientist came on his own seeking refuge, or if he was passed to the embassy by U.S. officials. Iranian state media is also reporting that the scientists is asking to return home.

Shahram Amiri, 32, disappeared last summer during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. At that time, U.S. officials were speaking of an "intelligence coup" after reporting on a high-profile defection of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Iran blamed the U.S. for his disappearance, which U.S. officials have denied.

‘Abducted’ Iranian scientist shows up in Washington

Iranian state media is reporting that the nuclear scientist, who has suddenly surfaced at the Pakistani embassy in Washington, was kidnapped by the CIA. It remains unclear if the scientist came on his own seeking refuge, or if he was passed to the embassy by U.S. officials. Iranian state media is also reporting that the scientists is asking to return home.

Shahram Amiri, 32, disappeared last summer during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. At that time, U.S. officials were speaking of an “intelligence coup” after reporting on a high-profile defection of an Iranian nuclear scientist. Iran blamed the U.S. for his disappearance, which U.S. officials have denied.

A spokesman at the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said the scientist “is not in the Pakistani Embassy, per se…He is at the Iranian interests section, which is manned by Iranian nationals.”

Iranian state media aired a video last month claiming it showed Amiri saying the U.S. was holding him against his will. A second video surfaced on the Internet where a man, claiming to be Amiri, says he is in the U.S. on his own free will.

  • The U.S. military increases security in Iraq after a threat that an Iranian-backed militant group was planning to attack.
  • The Israeli army is on alert for the Libyan aid ship approaching Gaza.
  • U.S. has reportedly threatened to cut Jordan’s aid unless it cooperates with Israel with its nuclear program.
  • Israel razed an inhabited Palestinian home in East Jerusalem for the first time this year, ending the unofficial freeze of such demolitions.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urges Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotuglu not to cut ties with Israel.

DAILY SNAPSHOT

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir returns from a trip to Eritrea on July 12, 2010 at the airport in Khartoum. Yesterday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) expanded its previous arrest warrant for the leader, adding the charge of genocide associated with the ongoing conflict in Darfur (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

Arguments & Analysis

‘This Is an Historical Moment for Egypt’ (Mohamed ElBaradei, Der Spiegel)
In a wide-ranging and quite pointed interview, the former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei discusses the prospects for political change in Egypt, the burgeoning grassroots movement for democratic change that he leads, and his prospects for challenging a Mubarak regime “without checks and balances, with no real contact with the people, who has allowed Egypt to become a police state…the regent of a country that has fallen deeply, and dramatically lost stature and forfeited influence.”

‘Innovation is Moroccan civil society’s main challenge’ (Moha Ennaji, The Daily Star)
In the aftermath of some political reforms in the 1990s combined with more recent moves by the current leader King Mohammad VI, Morocco has become a relatively fertile ground for civil society participation–a shift that has had a very positive impact on issues including women’s rights, economic development, labor rights, and many more. Yet in order to continue its vibrant role, civil society groups must continue to find ways to innovate and remain distinct from state patronage (and potential corruption).

‘The conversion bill demystified’ (Yair Ettinger, Ha’aretz)
A controversial new law proposed by the Yisrael Beiteinu party in Israel would streamline the process by which individuals convert to Judaism. Because the bill would place authority on conversion to the Chief Rabbinate, the proposed law has angered many in the reform and conservative Jewish communities and the broader Jewish diaspora, who argue it creates a standard for conversion in Israel only supported by Orthodox communities.

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Maria Kornalian is the executive associate for the Project on Middle East Political Science and an assistant editor for the Middle East Channel.

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