From Trita Parsi, in The National Interest…

Why the Saudis Are Panicking

As President Barack Obama must have noticed during his visit, there is a panicky tone to almost everything the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does these days, whether it’s campaigning for two years to win a coveted seat on the UN Security Council only to give it up immediately after the vote, or its public pronouncements of going it alone in the chaos of Syria, or its break with its fellow Arab state Qatar, or the closing of the Al Jazeera office in Riyadh, or the banning of the books of renowned Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish. Or, of course, its opposition to diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and the prospects of a US-Iranian thaw.

Riyadh’s opposition to the Iran nuclear talks has largely been understood in the context of the larger Saudi-Iranian and Sunni-Shia rivalry. Consequently, Saudi’s negative reaction was predictable, the argument goes. The Saudi royal house would undoubtedly not sit idly by as its regional rival negotiated its way out of harsh sanctions and into a potential US-Iranian rapprochement that could pave the way for an American tilt towards Tehran—all at the expense of Saudi interests. {…}

The new reality is that in spite of Riyadh’s massive arms purchase from the US, Washington will likely not come to its aid if the Arab spring reaches Saudi. This means that a critical avenue for Saudi Arabia to ensure regime survival is in jeopardy—at best—or, at worst, lost…

I liked how Trita cited an old DSW post on how the Sauds are willing to go it alone in Syria…!

Speaking of Syria, from the Council on Foreign Relations…

Syria Civil War Total Fatalities

Estimates released today by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.

Meanwhile, right next door…

Moving along to Egypt, the Coup regime is tightening the screws on the Muslim Brotherhood…

Egypt tightens security laws to counter ‘terrorism’

Egypt said Thursday it has boosted punishment for “terrorist” offences and expanded the scope of crimes that fall under that category, a day after bombings killed a top police officer.

The legal amendments will come in force when interim president Adly Mansour approves the government-penned draft.

The cabinet did not immediately release the changes made to the law.

Egypt has been hit by a string of bombings and shootings targeting the security forces since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July.

On Wednesday, a police general was killed and five policemen were wounded when three bombs exploded near Cairo University.

“The cabinet approved amendments to the penal code and the criminal procedure code to strengthen punishments for acts of terrorism,” the military-installed body said.

It said that more tribunals tracking terrorism-related cases would be set up.

“The amendments have broadened the definition of terrorism,” justice minister Nayyer Abdelmoneim Othman told private satellite channel CBC Extra.

“They reflect what is happening now and take into consideration many things that have changed in the past three years,” Othman said, adding that there were some groups who were a “burden to the country’s security”, referring to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Now, as I’ve long maintained stick a fork already into the I/P Peace Farce carcass…

From Antiwar.com…

Israel-Palestine Peace Talks: All Over But the Shouting

The Obama Administration continues to scramble around trying to find a last-second solution, while criticizing Israeli and Palestinian officials for “jeopardizing” the talks. It all seems academic at this point, however.

There’s been no formal declaration to that effect, and technically the schedule for the current round of talks to end is a few weeks out, but all indications are that there won’t be any more negotiations.

Israel reneged on a prisoner release scheduled for Saturday, and today retroactively blamed it on the PA signing 15 UN conventions, which happened three days later. Either way, they insist the release won’t happen at all.

The PA, likewise, insist they aren’t going to rescind those signatures, and don’t seem to even be considering a scenario where they return to the talks without the prisoners getting released.

Israel’s Jewish Home faction is apparently at the center of the prisoner dispute, and has threatened to withdraw from the coalition over prisoner releases in recent talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

From RT… Kerry gives up on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

So it all boils down to… What Kind of One-State Solution?

In wrapping up with Turkish affairs…

And then in an abrupt about-face…

YouTube Stays Blocked in Turkey as Court Reverses Itself

The same Turkish court that ruled to lift the ban on YouTube on Friday morning reversed its decision hours later following a petition for appeal, according to multiple local news reports.

The Ankara Gölbaşı Public Prosecutor’s Office appealed the ruling, and the Court of Peace accepted the appeal on Friday afternoon. The court ordered the block to continue until YouTube removes 15 videos deemed to be in violation of Turkish laws, according to a tweet by CNN Turk

*gah*