Israel urges Russia to block air defense system sale to Syria

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
May 9, 2013

Israel warns of Syria-Russia air defense deal, Bangladesh back in spotlight for another deadly accident, and Taliban threaten Pakistan’s weekend elections. Today is Thursday, May 9, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

A Belarussian S-300 mobile missile launching system drives to take part in a rehearsal for the Independence Day parade in central Minsk, June 27, 2011.

Not in our backyard. As Secretary of State John Kerry made progress in Moscow on a Syria strategy, Israel asked Russia to put a stop to the sale of an advanced air shield system to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:

Citing U.S. officials, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Israel had told Washington that Syria had already began payments for a $900 million purchase of the S-300 and an initial delivery was due within three months. The S-300 is designed to shoot down planes and missiles at 125-mile (200-km) ranges. It would enhance Syria’s current Russian-supplied defenses, which did not deter Israel from launching devastating air strikes around Damascus last weekend.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Israel tipped off the U.S. to payments from the Syrian government to Moscow. Russia has stood by the Assad regime throughout the conflict, but  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said Russia was not concerned with the fate of “certain individuals,” suggesting a distancing between Russia and Assad.

Another Bangladesh factory disaster claims lives. Eight people were killed in a clothing factory blaze in Bangladesh as officials continue to uncover bodies from last month’s deadly building collapse:

The fire, in an industrial district of Dhaka, comes amid global attention on safety standards in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry following the catastrophic collapse of Rana Plaza, on the outskirts of the city, in the world’s deadliest industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984.

The fire broke out in the 11-story building after work hours, minimizing the number of casualties. The conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry are in the spotlight as the death toll from the Rana Plaza complex collapse two weeks ago continues to rise, topping 900 people.

Kidnapping, tumbles, and transgender candidates in Pakistan’s election. Gunmen abducted the son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani ahead of Pakistan’s weekend elections. The Pakistani Taliban also penned a letter outlining plans for suicide bombings on election day, however denied responsibility for the kidnapping:

Since April, the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban have killed more than 100 people in attacks on election candidates and rallies, particularly those of secular-leaning parties, in a bid to undermine elections they regard as un-Islamic. The polls, already Pakistan’s most violent, will mark the first time a civilian government has completed a full term and handed over to another administration.

Pakistan has been ruled by the military for roughly half its history, and the May 11 elections mark the first time the country will transition from one civilian government to another. Candidates include former cricket player and celebrity Imran Khan, who cracked a rib in a fall from a campaign platform this week, as well as Pakistan’s first transgender candidates. However, the Pakistan Muslim League’s Nawaz Sharif is expected to become the next prime minister, a position he has held twice before.

Nota Bene: Reuters photographer Mansi Thaplial captures the suffering of families whose daughters have gone missing in India.

Standouts:

The devil can’t deliver - Reuters columnist David Rohde argues that Washington may be kidding itself if it believes Russia will help solve Syria’s crisis. (Reuters)

Sandwich assailant - A student who allegedly threw a sandwich at the Australian Prime Minister will not be pardoned for his crime. (BBC)

Harpoon in head - A Brazilian woman narrowly escaped death-by-harpoon after her husband carelessly handled the weapon in their kitchen (CNN)

Photoshop flop explained - An image caption on Korea’s Yonhap makes questionable claims about South Korean president’s handshake with Obama. (The Atlantic Wire)

Hostages hope for help - Thirty-two years later, Iran hostages still hope to receive compensation for damages. (The New York Times)

From the File:

  • Afghan police demand weapons amid simmering tension with Pakistan
  • Italian prosecutors want Berlusconi to face new corruption trial
  • Bangladesh Islamist gets death for war crimes, raising fears of protests
  • France wants U.N. to label Syria’s al-Nusra Front a terrorist group
  • China criticizes Japan’s protest over question of Okinawa sovereignty

 

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