The Middle East Channel

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sets a “red line” for Iranian enrichment

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke in front of the United Nations General Assembly and appealed for a "clear, red line" on Iranian nuclear development. Netanyahu illustrated his point with a cartoon bomb and demonstrated the point at which the program should not pass — the 90 percent mark. Netanyahu claimed Iran has already reached 70 ...

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, uses a diagram of a bomb to describe Iran's nuclear program while delivering his address to the 67th United Nations General Assembly meeting September 27, 2012 at the United Nations in New York. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/GettyImages)

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke in front of the United Nations General Assembly and appealed for a "clear, red line" on Iranian nuclear development. Netanyahu illustrated his point with a cartoon bomb and demonstrated the point at which the program should not pass — the 90 percent mark. Netanyahu claimed Iran has already reached 70 percent enrichment, and would hit 90 percent by spring or summer at the latest. However he maintained if a red line were to be set, "Iran will back down." There has been much speculation about an imminent Israeli attack on Iran, but the prime minister implied it wouldn’t be considered at least until the spring. Netanyahu’s speech elicited mixed reactions. Many mocked the presentation and the drawing. Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg likened the speech to Clint Eastwood’s awkward speech at the Republican National Convention in August. Others such as U.S. presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, and former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer praised the Israeli prime minister. Relations between the United States and Israel have grown tense as Netanyahu has repeatedly called for the Obama administration to commit to a red line. The Iranian mission at the United Nations was angered by the speech claiming they were "baseless and absurd allegations against [its] exclusively peaceful nuclear program." They said Iran reserved the right to retaliate to any attack.

Syria

The opposition Free Syrian Army has launched what it has called a "decisive" battle in the northwestern city of Aleppo. According to a YouTube video, the offensive, coordinated days before by several militant groups, began with an announcement from Abdulqadir al-Saleh, head of the largest opposition force in Aleppo, the Tawheed Brigade. Activists and residents have said that the fighting is "unprecedented" with opposition attacks on several government positions in about 12 districts in the city. Commander of the Tawheed Brigade, Bashir al-Haji said, "We are not aiming to liberate the whole of Aleppo with this battle but to regain control of most of the city and get back as many neighborhoods as we can." Meanwhile, government troops have attacked several opposition positions in the north of Damascus. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syrian troops have raided the neighborhoods of Barzeh, Juban, and Qaboon. On Friday, the United Nations human rights council condemned violations by Syrian government forces and extended the mandate for its inquiry by six months. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is hosting talks on Syria on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly with the "Friends of Syria," which includes the United States, European Union, and Arab League.

Headlines  

  • Armed militants attacked a prison in the Iraqi city of Tikrit killing at least 12 police officers and setting about 90 inmates free, some of whom are reportedly members of al Qaeda.
  • The United States has kept F.B.I. agents from visiting the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi to investigate an attack that resulted in the deaths of four U.S. diplomats.
  • The man allegedly behind the making of an anti-Islam video that sparked widespread protests, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is being held without bail on probation violations.

Arguments & Analysis

The Ayatollah’s Nuclear Gamble: The Human Cost of Military Strikes Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities‘ (Khosrow B. Semnani)

"However, unlike traditional targets, the risks to civilians extend well beyond those killed from exposure to thermal and blast injuries at the nuclear sites. Tens, and quite possibly, hundreds of thousands of civilians could be exposed to highly toxic chemical plumes and, in the case of operational reactors, radioactive fallout. An attack on the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan and the Enrichment Plant at Natanz would release existing stocks of fluorine and fluorine compounds which would turn into hydrofluoric acid, a highly reactive agent that, when inhaled, would make people "drown in their lungs," as one scientist put it. As a point of reference, fluorine gases are more corrosive and toxic than the chlorine gas used in World War I. Once airborne, at lethal concentrations, these toxic plumes could kill virtually all life forms in their path. Depending on the volume of chemicals stored at the facilities, population densities around the sites, and prevailing wind and meteorological conditions, tens of thousands of workers and civilians in Isfahan and fewer in Natanz could be exposed to toxic plumes. These plumes could destroy their lungs, blind them, severely burn their skin, and damage other tissues and vital organs."

The Arab Spring Still Blooms‘ (Moncef Marzouki, The New York Times)

"Now there is ominous talk of an "Islamist Fall" and "Salafi Winter" after a supposedly failed Arab Spring. To these skeptics, religion is the driving force in Arab politics, and hateful anti-Western slogans and the killing of America’s ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, are evidence of a "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West.

While these fears are understandable, such alarmism is misplaced. The Arab revolutions have not turned anti-Western. Nor are they pro-Western. They are simply not about the West. They remain fundamentally about social justice and democracy – not about religion or establishing Shariah law."

The heady days of revolution in Syria give way to a grim reality‘ (Amal Hanano, The National)

"Now the lows exceed the highs. Now we talk about what has been lost more often than what will be gained. And the losses have been heavy: some of the people we once spoke to daily are no longer in Syria; some have abandoned the revolution; many have died. Peaceful protests have dwindled as the bombs drop onto our cities and villages. Civilians are caught in the crossfire; thousands have become refugees – outsiders just like us.

And everyone is depressed.

We are now silent witnesses, watching as our country is reduced to a headline and the opening act for the United Nations General Assembly. Syria cues endless analysis from pundits and continuous hand-wringing by world leaders. The UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says without shame: "There is no prospect for today or tomorrow to move forward." And our dead are a steadily growing but meaningless number."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

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