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DAILY ALERT

July 5, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Military Leaves Saudi Arabia for Qatar

    In recent months, the U.S. military has quietly moved munitions, equipment and communications gear to the Al Udeid airbase in Qatar, in the central Persian Gulf, from Saudi Arabia, the control center for American air operations in the Gulf for more than a decade.
    About 3,300 American troops are in Qatar, mostly at Al Udeid, where the signs of an American military buildup are unmistakable:
*   A tent city has sprouted, with warehouses and miles of security barriers, attesting to the U.S. military's focus on protecting troops against terrorist attack.
*   Freshly paved runways and aircraft parking ramps stretch deep into the desert.
*   Newly built hangars for fighter aircraft are hardened to withstand aerial attack. Within view from the main 15,000-foot runway are hardened bunkers, presumably for munitions and supply storage.
    "It is likely the most capable base in the Gulf region," says William Arkin, a private military analyst.
    Soon after Sept. 11, Qatar granted permission for the U.S. to send warplanes to Al Udeid. They flew attack missions over Afghanistan.
    Al Udeid also is host to Air Force Red Horse squadrons, rapid-response teams of civil engineers that can repair and build structures such as runways and roads in remote areas.
    It is believed that Al Udeid is being built up as an alternative to, or replacement for, the Combined Air Operations Center at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.
    Other U.S. military bases in the Gulf area include Camp Doha in Kuwait with nearly 10,000 Army soldiers, and Bahrain, headquarters for the Navy's Fifth Fleet with 4,200 troops. Several thousand are in Saudi Arabia and a few thousand in Oman. (Christian Science Monitor)


Day of Reckoning

    As Arafat's day of reckoning gets closer, "Arafat is going to try and place all power in the hands of his most loyal subordinates and limit the power of those considered as rivals to the throne," according to Dr. Hillel Frisch of Bar-Ilan University's Began-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
    Frisch saw Arafat as moving to replace local leaders such as Rajoub with PLO loyalists from the days of their extended stay in Tunisia, after Israel had expelled them from Lebanon in 1982. "Arafat is turning back to his trusted lieutenants."
    "The Palestinian insiders [born and raised in the territories] have long resented the imbalance in the PA power structure."
  "Trying to weaken people like Rajoub and Dahlan who have their own local power bases is a very dangerous move on Arafat's part and he is well aware of this."
    In fact, "Arafat's position is weakening on all fronts."
(Jerusalem Post)


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News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Egyptian Gunman Attacks El Al at LA Airport, Kills 2
    A gunman opened fire at the El Al Israel Airlines ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, killing two and wounding four others before an airline security officer shot him dead. Authorities identified the gunman as 41-year-old Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1992 and was living in Irvine, California. Hadayet is not a U.S. citizen. When police arrived at his apartment, they found a note on the door saying, "Read the Koran."
        Witnesses said the gunman appeared to grow agitated while talking to 20-year-old El Al ticket agent Vicky Chen. He pulled out a gun and shot her, then began firing at people in line.
        "The El Al guys came over the top of the counter" and tackled the shooter, witnesses reported. According to Israel's consul general in Los Angeles, Yuval Rotem, El Al security chief Haim Sapir is "a hero. He and his colleagues were able to save many passengers." Richard Garcia, head of the FBI's Los Angeles office, also credited the quick response by the security personnel with preventing further injuries.
        The second victim was Jacob Aminov, 46, an Israeli father of 8 who lives in the Los Angeles area, who was dropping off a friend at the airport. Four others were injured, including Canadian Sarah Phillips, 61, a man who was pistol-whipped by the gunman, and the El Al security chief who was stabbed in the back. (CNN/LA Times)
  • Document: The U.S. Plan for Iraq
    An American military planning document entitled "CentCom Courses of Action," prepared by planners at the Central Command in Tampa, Fla., calls for air, land, and sea-based forces to attack Iraq in a campaign to topple Saddam Hussein. The document envisions tens of thousands of marines and soldiers probably invading from Kuwait. Hundreds of warplanes based in as many as eight countries, possibly including Turkey and Qatar, would unleash a huge air assault against thousands of targets, including airfields, roadways, and fiber-optics communications sites. The concept for such a plan is now highly evolved and is apparently working its way through military channels. (New York Times)
        See also The Warpath: Pressures Build on Iraq - Patrick E. Tyler
    The emergence of a detailed concept for a military attack on Iraq suggests that Mr. Bush's new approach to solving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians may be part of a shift in focus toward preparations for an Iraq campaign. Bush's speech stalled the American mediation effort in the Middle East, reflecting the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not present a strategic threat to American interests in the Middle East, but Iraq's interest in developing weapons of mass destruction does. (New York Times)
  • Hizballah, al Qaeda Joining Forces
    The Lebanon-based Hizballah terrorist organization is teaming up with al Qaeda on logistics and training for terrorist operations, according to U.S. and European intelligence officials and terrorism experts. The new cooperation includes coordination on explosives and tactics training, money laundering, weapons smuggling, and acquiring forged documents. Tactical collaboration involving mid- and low-level operatives mutes years of rivalry between the primarily Shiite Hizballah and the predominantly Sunni al Qaeda. (Washington Post)
  • A Day in the Life of a Jerusalem Bus Driver
    Buses have become one of the suicide bombers' favorite targets because they hold large numbers of people confined in small spaces. "As I glide towards the bus stop I scan the faces. I look to see if someone seems suspicious, acts nervous, or in the summer time he's wearing a coat," said one driver. (Voice of America)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:
  • Missile Explodes Near El Al Plane
    A missile exploded near an El Al plane on its way from Tel Aviv to Moscow Thursday evening, the Foreign Ministry reported. The plane was traveling via a recognized international air route over Ukraine. In October 2001, a Siberian Airlines plane was hit by a missile mistakenly fired by the Ukrainian army, killing 66 Israeli passengers and 12 crew. (Yediot Ahronot)
  • Sharon: A Plan to End the Terror
    Prime Minister Sharon: In recent months a plan has been prepared in conjunction with the Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister, as well as the Americans, for an agreement that will enable Palestinian prosperity. Sharon expects the plan to bring an end to the terror. (Maariv)
  • Out-Foxing CNN
    Since June 24, Fox News has been available in 310,000 households in Israel and it is in the midst of negotiations with the other Israeli cable companies. Is Fox really more pro-Israel than CNN? (Ha'aretz)
  • President Katsav: Support for Palestinian Violence Hurting Chance of State
    Israeli President Moshe Katzav told a Bnai Brith International gathering in Jerusalem that as the Palestinian violence intensified, divisions in Israeli society blurred and the nation became more united. He called on Europe to follow the American example and to cut all ties with the Palestinian Authority until the violence stops. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Jewish Existence is Again on Probation. - Yossi Klein Halevi
    In a recent interview, the liberal novelist Amos Oz confessed he's haunted by his father's observation that, before the Holocaust, European graffiti read, "JEWS TO PALESTINE," only to be transformed in our time into, "JEWS OUT OF PALESTINE." The message to Jews, noted Oz: "Don't be here and don't be there. That is, don't be." Israelis haven't felt so alone since the mid-'70s, when the United Nations declared that Zionism equaled racism. (New Republic)
  • Saudi Petro-Dollars Fuel Palestinian Terrorism - Joel Mowbray
    In spite of overwhelming evidence that the Saudis are not our friends, careerists at the State Department have doggedly maintained an infatuation with the House of Saud. One administration official says that State's Bureau of Near East Affairs (NEA) "would not let facts get in the way of their analysis." The al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which has claimed credit for more homicide bombings than any other terrorist group, was not added to the administration's "block-and-freeze" list until March 27, 2002 -- six months after the original executive order was signed. (National Review)
  • Winning Friends in the Arab World - David Ignatius
    Ordinary Arabs know that democratic change in the Arab world is long overdue. That's part of why they crowd the mosques on Fridays, listening to the sheiks ridicule their corrupt and sometimes despotic leaders. But the idea that people will rally alongside Uncle Sam once they see our troops on the ground just doesn't cut it. That's what the Israelis thought would happen in Lebanon in 1982 -- and it did, for about a week. After that, they were sitting ducks. (Washington Post)
  • The Way Forward for the Palestinians - Daniel Doron
    The latest mission impossible embraced by those who would resolve the Middle East conflict is the effort to "democratize" the Palestinian Authority, an organization that has thrived on repression, violence, and aggressive irredentism. Meanwhile, a far more promising route to peace--the path of economic cooperation and development--is being neglected.
        From the Six-Day War till the Oslo Accords, from 1967 to 1993, the Palestinian economy flourished, its GDP more than quadrupling. The Palestinian standard of living rose dramatically. Infant mortality fell, seven new colleges and universities were established (where none had existed under Jordanian rule), and the welfare of the people, especially of women and children, improved so much that the birth rate soared. (Weekly Standard)
  • Another Oslo Would Be the End of Us - Uri Dan
    One more agreement like Oslo would be the end of us. It alone, for the first time after a century, turned Palestinian terrorism into a threat against Israel's very existence. Only the necessary evil of an IDF reconquest of Judea and Samaria has reduced the level of terrorist attacks. What is permissible for the U.S. in far-off Afghanistan is obligatory for Israel in the nearby West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Talking Points:

    Missile Testing and U.S. Middle East Policy
    - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Missiles are becoming an important part of the military scene in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.
    • At the end of May, Iran conducted a missile test; Pakistan conducted three such tests; and Israel launched a reconnaissance satellite.
    • Iran's missile test involved a variant of the North Korean Nodong, which the Iranians call the Shahab-3. The Shahab's reported 800-mile range makes targets in Israel accessible as well as air bases used by the United States in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Tehran is believed to be using Russian engineers to perfect the weapon.
    • Among those watching Pakistan's first test were at least one prince from Saudi Arabia, and others from Libya.
    • In May 1999, Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan toured Pakistan's unsafeguarded uranium-enrichment plant and Ghauri [missile] production facilities at Kahuta outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
    • Iraq is the only country in the world banned by the UN Security Council from possessing long-range ballistic missiles, yet Baghdad has for three years refused access to UN inspectors seeking to verify its compliance with this agreement.


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