In Al-Monitor’s weekly round-up of news out of the Middle East,

  • The US and Israel escalate the war in Syria as parties debate the “red line” for chemical weapons use;
  • news from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Khaled Meshaal;
  • Al-Monitor launches Iran Pulse, expanding our coverage and reporting in and about Iran.
Israel has nothing to fear. Israel is a country in full bloom… The only threat to Israel is demography, the fear that Israel will find itself in 10 or 20 years from now as a country of all its citizens, with a non-Jewish majority, and then it will be too late to regain its footing.
Daniel Abraham, founder of the Center for Middle East Peace, speaking to Al-Monitor’s Ben Caspit. Abraham told Caspit that without an agreement with the Palestinians, Israel will find itself with a non-Jewish majority:
“You have to get rid of the Palestinian issue,” he emphasized. “It’s like something in your stomach that causes an ulcer, it’s an ulcer, a wound that won’t disappear, won’t heal. It simply needs to be removed. You don’t understand what could be here if you resolve this problem, if you establish a state with a solid Jewish majority, the sky would be the limit.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may become the first former president under Ayatollah Khamenei to spend part of his retirement under house arrest, writes Meir Javendanfar in Al-Monitor:

Ahmadinejad has two options: to defend himself now, with all his might, to try to deter his rivals from attacking him after he leaves office or to hold his fire until after he steps down. Both options have advantages and disadvantages.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may become the first former president under Ayatollah Khamenei to spend part of his retirement under house arrest, writes Meir Javendanfar in Al-Monitor:

Ahmadinejad has two options: to defend himself now, with all his might, to try to deter his rivals from attacking him after he leaves office or to hold his fire until after he steps down. Both options have advantages and disadvantages.

In Al-Monitor’s weekly roundup of news from the Middle East, the US statement about Syrian chemical weapons; Israel weighs in; the debate within Hezbollah about Syria.

[Syria] is the crisis that makes me lose my sleep … We are now at the point where we cannot fully cope with this crisis.
Dr. Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, in an interview with Al-Monitor about the Syrian crisis.
Breaking the deadlock on nuclear negotiations with Iran requires redrawing the framework of the negotiations themselves, writes Mohammad Ali Shabani in today’s Al-Monitor.
Breaking the deadlock on nuclear negotiations with Iran requires redrawing the framework of the negotiations themselves, writes Mohammad Ali Shabani in today’s Al-Monitor.

Drawing on confidential, well-placed sources, Ben Caspit in Al-Monitor tells the real story of the arguments that went on in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chambers during Obama’s visit to Israel.

I hope I can work freely in the sea one day with no restrictions and no prospects of getting shot at by Israeli soldiers.
Khaled El-Shrafi, 56, a fisherman from Gaza, complaining that new Israeli restrictions on fishermen in Gaza waters will damage their livelihood. Israel has again reduced Gaza’s fishing zone to three nautical miles offshore, a violation of last November’s cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Mohammed Suliman writes for Al-Monitor.

Above, Al-Monitor’s Akiva Eldar discusses what Israelis learned from Obama’s visit and why everything is connected in the Middle East.

We were very proud of Khatami when he would travel the world to represent our nation. If Khatami runs, he has my vote.

Sassan, a 32-year-old carpenter, talking to Al-Monitor’s Susan Modaress about the possible presidential run by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in Iran’s June elections. Many Iranians remember Khatami as the president who brought about a partial intellectual and cultural renaissance during his eight years of presidency, while practicing a moderate approach when dealing with the West. 

Ali Hashem reports for Al-Monitor from Tehran that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad considers the candidacy of his close aide and cousin, the controversial Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaei (pictured below, at left, with Ahmadinejad), as key to his legacy.

In this week’s roundup by Al-Monitor of the news and ideas out of the Middle East, US Secretary of State John Kerry calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to “come to the table” to begin negotiations; the bitter springs of Tunisia and Egypt; and Gaza Salafists fight in Syria.

In this week’s roundup of Al-Monitor’s coverage from the region, the Syria war spreads to Iraq; Turkey is increasingly divided over Prime Minister Erdogan’s Syrian policies; and Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the region includes progress toward a political solution in Syria.

I swear by Almighty God to be loyal to the homeland and the people.
The oath taken before every meeting of Jordan’s new shadow Facebook parliamentrecently started by a group of Jordanian youth who feel neglected by their government. Nearly 3,000 young people voted for candidates through the Facebook group, choosing among parties with ironic names including “National Bankruptcy” and  ”Jordanian Refugees in Jordan.” Read the original story from Al-Hayat at Al-Monitor.
A crowd in Raqqa toppled a statue of President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez, on March 4, 2013, as opposition forces captured the city, opposition sources and a resident said. Read more of Al-Monitor’s Syria in Crisis coverage.

A crowd in Raqqa toppled a statue of President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez, on March 4, 2013, as opposition forces captured the city, opposition sources and a resident said. Read more of Al-Monitor’s Syria in Crisis coverage.