The Iran-backed Lebanese militant group is believed by Israel and the USA to be behind this week’s attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. “A senior American official confirmed Israel’s assertions on Thursday that the suicide bomber who killed five Israelis in an attack here on Wednesday was a member of a Hezbollah cell operating in Bulgaria. The official said the current American intelligence assessment is that the bomber was “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when the opportunity presented itself. That guidance was given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by its primary sponsor, Iran, he said. The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists by Israeli agents, something that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. ‘This was tit for tat,’ said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the investigation was still underway.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/SKhvQi)
Russia and China Veto UN Syria Council Resolution; Monitors May Begin to Depart
With the Security Council resolution to extend the UN monitoring mission hit by a double veto over the inclusion of sanctions, the mission may end by midnight unless something is done. “Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., hinted that Washington might block the continuation of the mission. ‘We have been very clear that a rollover of the U.N. mission without it being tied to consequences for noncompliance or an improvement on the ground doesn’t make any sense,’ she said. Ms. Rice said the U.S. might agree to a brief extension of the mission, probably of 30 days, if the monitors could be safely withdrawn should that be necessary. ‘Unless circumstances change on the ground, it is not viable for the mission to continue,’ she said. Instead, Ms. Rice said, the U.S. would ‘intensify our work with partners outside the Security Council to put pressure on the Assad regime.’ She didn’t elaborate. The U.S. is part of a 70-nation Friends of Syria group that has supported the uprising.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/SKiH6c)
Landmark Legal Ruling Should Worry International Bad Guys
The International Court of Justice (not to be confused with the International Criminal Court) is poised to rule on Friday in a big case that could have major implications for ignominious rulers who flee their countries after committing human rights abuses. “A landmark ruling to be given by a court in The Hague on Friday, on whether or not Senegal is obliged to try or extradite Chad’s former leader, has major implications for other autocrats now in exile or considering exile to escape popular uprisings at home. At one level, Friday’s ruling will be the latest step in a long-running campaign by human rights activists to bring to trial Hissene Habre, who as Chadian president led a government they accuse of killing and torturing its opponents in the 1980s. But legal experts say the case – brought by Belgium against Senegal, where Habre is living – could create a clear legal obligation on the states that harbour deposed despots to put them on trial or extradite them for trial elsewhere. The ruling could worry former rulers like Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president overthrown in January 2011 at the start of the Arab Spring and now in exile in Saudi Arabia.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/SKjcNx)
Syrian Rebels Seize Border Crossing Points
The Syrian rebels continued their big push by taking control of all four border crossings with Iraq and one into Turkey. “The government fought back hard, with no indication that its far superior military machine had lost its edge against an opposition still working predominately with small-caliber weapons. Helicopters blasted the northern Damascus suburb of Qaboun with rockets, while the armed forces warned residents of a wide area of the southern part of the capital to evacuate ahead of an assault. Thousands of people fled to neighboring Lebanon.” (New York Times http://nyti.ms/MNbxZQ)
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