The United States quickly denied claims by Iran that its Revolutionary Guards Corps naval forces had captured an unmanned U.S. drone. According to Iranian state television, the aircraft is a Boeing built ScanEagle, which it captured after entering Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf. It is unclear how or when it was brought down. State television displayed images of what appeared to be an undamaged ScanEagle drone with the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps naval forces Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, and a message in Persian and English saying, "We will trample the U.S. under our feet." Commander Jason Salata, a spokesman for the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain, countered the Iranian claims saying no U.S. drones operating in the Middle East region are missing. Other countries in the Gulf region have ScanEagle drones, including the United Arab Emirates. Iran's claims have come about two weeks after U.S. Pentagon officials reported that Iranian warplanes had fired upon a U.S. Predator drone which they said was flying in international airspace over the Gulf two weeks prior. About a year ago, Iran claimed to have forced down another unmanned U.S. drone, an RQ-170 Sentinel, by hacking into its controls. However, U.S. officials said the drone crashed in Iranian territory. Tensions between Iran and the United States have been increasingly heightened over Iran's disputed nuclear program. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the vital Gulf waterway through which approximately 40 percent of the world's crude oil is shipped.
NATO joined the United States in warning the Syrian regime against the use of chemical weapons and will decide today whether it will deploy Patriot missiles to protect Turkey's border with Syria. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasumssen said the use of chemical weapons would be "completely unacceptable" after warnings by U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He added that if they were to be used, he "would expect an immediate reaction from the international community." The Syrian government has maintained it will not resort to chemical weapons. However there have been recent reports that chemical weapons stockpiles have been moved and could be prepared for use. Intelligence that Syria was considering using ballistic missiles, which could be armed with chemical warheads, is what initially sparked a request from Turkey for NATO anti-missile systems to be stationed along its border with Syria. NATO is expected to approve the request in meetings today in Brussels. Fierce clashes have continued between Syrian forces and opposition fighters around Damascus and along the road that connects the capital with its international airport. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 200 people were killed across the country on Monday, 60 of them around Damascus. Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi has reportedly left Syrian and defected. Lebanese officials have confirmed that he was in Beirut for several days, and he is believed to have departed for London, although there has been no confirmation of his destination.
Arguments and Analysis
Mr. Netanyahu's Strategic Mistake (The New York Times)
"Mr. Netanyahu's punitive, shortsighted moves threaten to crush the Palestinian Authority, and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who has recognized Israel's right to exist and represents the only credible peace negotiator.
Expanding West Bank settlements makes it nearly impossible to restart peace negotiations. Worse, it is a terrible distraction from the Iranian nuclear issue, which Mr. Netanyahu considers the main strategic threat to Israel. His actions have unwisely alienated the European Union, which has been crucial to pressuring Iran to abandon its nuclear program. Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their capitals to protest Israel's settlement plans.
The plan to develop E1 is particularly disturbing because the Obama administration, like others before it, have considered expansion there fatal to a two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu is up for re-election in January, so he may be driven by his political needs. But that is no excuse."
Aleppo: How Syria Is Being Destroyed (Charles Glass, The New York Review of Books)
"The battle for Aleppo is a war for Syria itself. Another Aleppine who asked me not to print his name said, "If Aleppo falls, the regime will falter." In both political and military terms, Syria's commercial capital is vital to both sides. Yet both the regime and its armed opponents are alienating the people they are ostensibly trying to cultivate, as they jointly demolish Aleppo's economy, the historic monuments that give the city its unique charm and identity, the lives and safety of its citizens, and the social cohesion that had, until now, made it a model of intersectarian harmony. Another friend confided, "The revolution died in Aleppo. They thought they would win the battle of Aleppo. They thought the people of Aleppo would support them.""
Morsi's Mistake (Steve Cook, Foreign Affairs)
"Morsi's miscalculation -- which both he and the Brotherhood later compounded -- was to think that everyone understood the results of the Egyptian elections the way the Brothers did. In other words, that they gave him and his party a mandate to rule with little regard for those who might disagree. The Brotherhood's discrediting of the tens of thousands who turned out in protest as felool (remnants of the old regime) and thugs was not only positively Mubarak-esque but also reinforced Morsi's "Brothers know best" approach to Egypt's political problems. It is easy to dismiss the opposition's charge that Morsi is the "new Mubarak" as hyperbole from a group of people who have become well-versed in manufacturing outrage. Still, they have a point. Both men share the high-modernist worldview, which did not bode well for political reform under the previous regime and does not augur well for democracy in Egypt's future."
In Cairo, Where Are We Today And How Many Will We Be Tomorrow? (Jonathan Guyer, Zocalo Public Square)
"Last Tuesday night I joined a diverse crowd making its way across town toward Tahrir Square, marching from the Culture Wheel, a community arts center. Hundreds of mostly young, well-dressed protesters ambled down the main drag I walk every day. Embassy and traffic police-all in their tidy sweaters and trimmed mustaches-looked on, grinning. There was no stopping this stream of demonstrators. Young lads in keffieh scarves directed oncoming cars to pass or slow down. A critical mass waving the ever-ubiquitous striped Egyptian flag and chanting the slogans of the revolution: "The People Want the Downfall of the Regime.""
--By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey
AFP/Getty Images/ASHRAF SHAZLY
The Middle East Channel offers unique analysis and insights on this diverse and vital region of more than 400 million.