Israel strikes Syria, denies supporting rebels

May 6, 2013

Israel says strikes not meant to help Syrian rebels, Malaysia’s prime minister glum over win, and pre-election violence mars rally in Pakistan. Today is Monday, May 6, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.  

Damage is seen in what appears to be a chicken farm following an air strike near Damascus, May 5, 2013, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria’s national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

Israel doesn’t want to take sides, wants Hezbollah to get Iranian missiles even less. Israel targeted Syrian missiles stored near Damascus in air strikes this weekend. An Israeli official said the strikes were not intended to bolster rebel forces, but to prevent Lebanon-based Hezbollah from getting high-tech weapons:

Intelligence sources said Israel attacked Iranian-supplied missiles stored near the Syrian capital on Friday and Sunday that were awaiting transfer to Hezbollah guerrilla group in neighboring Lebanon. Syria accused Israel of belligerence meant to shore up the outgunned anti-Assad rebels.

Israel fears Iran is using Syria to funnel missiles to Hezbollah that could be used to strike Tel Aviv. The United States said it did not receive warning of the strike, but President Obama tacitly signalled the administration’s support by confirming last weekend that Israel has the right to protect its people by intervening in weapons transfers to Hezbollah. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 42 soldiers were killed and 100 more were missing.

One of world’s longest-serving governments stays in power after elections – just. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak may be forced to step down by the end of the year following the worst election performance in his party’s history:

Najib, 59, had staked his political future on strengthening the ruling coalition’s parliamentary majority in Sunday’s general election on the back of a robust economy, reforms to roll back race-based policies and a $2.6 billion deluge of social handouts to poor families. But he was left vulnerable to party dissidents after his Barisan Nasional coalition won only 133 seats in the 222-member parliament, seven short of its tally in 2008 and well below the two-thirds majority it was aiming for.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he would not accept the weekend’s election results because of “unprecedented” electoral fraud. Ibrahim’s three-party opposition movement drew support from ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, and won the popular vote. In a trend that has accelerated since 2008, many of the growing ethnic Chinese population in Malaysia abandoned the ruling party. Malaysian markets responded well to Najib’s election.

Deadly blast highlights violence ahead of Pakistan’s election. A blast killed 25 people and injured 65 at a religious party’s election rally in Pakistan, days ahead of the country’s first general election. Pakistan’s Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing:

Since April, the radical Islamist group has killed more than 90 people in attacks on three major political parties, preventing many of their most prominent candidates from openly campaigning. But until now the Taliban had targeted secular parties in its bid to undermine the May 11 general election, which it regards as un-Islamic.

The military ruled Pakistan for roughly half of its history, and this weekend’s election marks the first transition between civilian-led governments.

Nota Bene: Ever wondered what a two-seat submarine, robot-pulled rickshaw, or river-riding bicycle would look like? Wonder no more.


Patent standards – India could teach the U.S. a thing or two about patent law, writes Cato Institute research fellow Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar. (Reuters)

Worst first day – An Italian minister resigned after one day in office following her comments that gay people invite discrimination. (BBC)

Rule of the mooq-mooq – A broad new law barring Gaddafi-era officials from running for office in Libya threatens the positions of the president of congress and the prime minister. (The New York Times)

Millionaires welcome – Australia offers visas for millionaires in exchange for a considerable investment. (The Wall Street Journal)

Arab spring break – Egypt opens its doors to tourists who drink and wear bikinis. (The Guardian)

From the File:

  • Congo rebels prepare to face U.N. force that has a mandate to attack
  • Afghanistan warns Pakistan after border clash erupts again
  • Israel says Google’s ‘Palestine’ page harms peace hopes
  • Italy’s Andreotti, leading postwar politician, dies at 94
  • Russian helicopter with nine aboard crashes in Siberia
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How is it possible to militarily directly strike only one side in a civil war and not be “taking sides”? It is not possible. This is out there with “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”.

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