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Middle East in the Media February 4 - 10 2013

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US War on Terror

  • Haarerz: Secret American drone airbase in Saudi Arabia exposed (Anshel Pfeffer, February 10)
  • "Exposure of base – believed to be used for strikes against Al-Qaida targets in Yemen and perhaps Iran – comes after news organizations, including The New York Times, held off on publication due to Obama administration requests on the basis of national security."

Bahrain

  • BBC: Bahrain talks off to shaky start (Bill Law, February 5)
  • "Talks aimed at resolving political unrest in the Gulf island kingdom of Bahrain look set to get off to an uncertain start...Part of the opposition's frustration has to do with the refusal of the government to enter directly into negotiations aimed at ending an impasse that has severely damaged the economy and polarized the country."

Iran

  • AP: Analysis: Diplomatic window closing on Iran (GEORGE JAHN and BRIAN MURPHY, February 5)
  • "Iran can theoretically back down. But because it insists that all of its nuclear work is peaceful and protected by international law it is unlikely to go further than repeating its top leader's religious edicts against nuclear weapons in pushing for an end to sanctions. That in turn will lead to another negotiating failure — and mounting pressure for military intervention to prevent Tehran from becoming a threshold nuclear weapons power."

  • Al Jazeera US and Iran: Can talks take place? (February 9)
  • "Despite the impact of the sanctions on their lives, a recent Gallup poll found that 63 percent of Iranians surveyed want their country's nuclear programme to continue. And nearly half say responsibility for the sanctions lies with the US. In a statement released this week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on the US to explain "what it means to offer talks while simultaneously continuing pressure and threats".

  • Reuters: Iran's Ahmadinejad kissed and scolded in Egypt (Tom Perry & Yasmine Saleh, February 5)
  • "The trip was meant to underline a thaw in relations since Egyptians elected an Islamist head of state, President Mohamed Mursi, last June. But it also highlighted deep theological and geopolitical differences."

Syria

  • Newsweek: Did the CIA Betray Syria’s Rebels? (Mike Giglio, February 10)
  • "In a turn of events resonant of Iraq, many who had once been eager to work with the Americans feel betrayed, and some see meetings like those in Gaziantep as little more than a hostile intelligence-gathering exercise."

  • The Guardian: Syrian rebel raids expose secrets of once- feared military (Martin Chulov, February 4)
  • "The infantry school is one of four nearby regime bases overrun between mid-December and late January. Units stationed in this bleak, sprawling complex, which was the main training site in northern Syria for officers and soldiers alike, put up less of a fight than those defending airbases. Signs of the rout are everywhere."

Tunisia

  • BBC: Resurgence of revolt where Arab Spring began (Wyre Davies, February 7)
  • "The murder of leftist secular politician Chokri Belaid may have come as a shock to most Tunisians, but there have been underlying tensions here for months. Belaid, in many ways an old-fashioned socialist, was also a vocal opponent of Ennahda's governing coalition."

  • Reuters: Timeline: New unrest in Tunisia after political assassination (February 6)
  • "Here is a timeline of events in Tunisia since Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali became the first autocratic leader to fall in the Arab Spring uprisings..."

Yemen

  • BBC: Yemen: A rare 'success' 'at risk (Barbara Plett, February 5)
  • "And it is the reason council members see Yemen as a rare success story in their track record on the Arab uprisings, last week making it the destination of their first visit to the Middle East in five years. But it is a fragile success that risks unravelling in the coming months and may prompt the Security Council to impose sanctions on "spoilers" who are blocking progress."

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