A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 1, 2009

Weekend Reading

As I've done on other Fridays, a collection of recent articles to tide you over for the weekend:

  • Ehud Barak on Avigdor Lieberman: "I think that the positions [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman is articulating behind closed doors are far more balanced and, I would say, more responsible than what some of his [public] declarations suggest." A rather diplomatic way of saying, "he's not as crazy as he sounds."? But this is your country's chief diplomat we're talking about, here, and its Defense Minister is saying it.


Coach Mark said...

I am surprised you did not notice that al Maliki caught another cog in the Baath party - al Qaeda link. This al Baghdadi character is one of hundreds of Saddamists who have been founding working for or leading al Qaeda. So much for the "no links" argument.


Michael Collins Dunn said...

Mark E.:

I noticed, though there are some uncertainties about the claim, and I generally post on things I feel I can add something to, or say something constructive about. There are enough Iraq-bloggers and terrorism-bloggers out there and I just didn't feel I had anything major to say. I'm one guy who's also got a journal to run, and on any given day there will be plenty of stories I skip over. I also skipped over the whole AIPAC/Steve Rosen story, because I thought it was getting plenty of coverage elsewhere and I didn't have anything really new and different to add.

Coach Mark said...

Ok. I understand that people who want to maintain relationships in D.C. and elsewhere won't touch that subject. I like your blog though.

What were the uncertainties on the claim though?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Mark E.:

The "uncertainties" were the fact that at least initially the US wasn't confirming it, and the US has on occasion raised questions about whether Abu Umar al-Baghdadi is an individual or some sort of composite. I haven't seen a confirmation from an American source of Maliki's claims, but of course I hope they got him.

And the fact that Baathists are NOW working with al-Qaida in Iraq isn't very surprising; the whole "links" question relates to the period before the fall of Saddam.

As for the Rosen issue, it's not that I'm fearful of criticizing AIPAC: I always have felt using the Espionage Act against private citizens without security clearances would endanger journalists who quote classified information all the time. Going after Larry Franklin, who violated his security clearance, was one thing; going after civilians who passed it on was a lot harder because it actually is common Washington practice. If Rosen had published the information in the Washington Post instead of telling Israeli officials, no one would have charged him, and the results would have been identical. That's where I'm coming from on this.