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DAILY ALERT

September 12, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq Buying Arms in East Europe's Black Markets - Arie Farnam (Christian Science Monitor)

    Saddam Hussein appears to be rearming and preparing for aerial assault in earnest. Several illegal weapons transfers to Iraq have been uncovered in postcommunist Europe during the past few months.
    Previous deals have included sales of Russian-made Mi-8 and Mi-17 combat helicopters, Kalashnikov rifles, antitank grenades, and mobile anti-aircraft missile systems.
    Prague is now the favored base of operations for middlemen selling weapons to the Arab world. According to a former Russian officer involved in the weapons trade, "The Czechs have a good cover by being in NATO and they have all the right contacts from the old days."
    The end of the cold war left East Bloc countries with massive stockpiles of unused Soviet-era weapons and a hunger for quick cash. In recent years, billions of dollars' worth of weapons have passed out of Eastern Europe into Third World conflict zones.
    Western experts suspect that the weapons pass through Jordan and Syria to reach Iraq. Iraq appears to be paying for the weapons with unauthorized oil exports, which are reexported as Syrian oil.
    Syrian oil exports have unaccountably increased by 100,000-200,000 barrels per day in the past year.
    Earlier this year Ukrainian bodyguard Nikolai Melnichenko revealed recordings of the private conversations of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to a court in San Francisco. In the tapes, Kuchma approved the sale of three Kalchuga radar systems to Iraq through a Jordanian middleman for $100 million.
    The Kalchuga is a mobile, passive radar system which can overcome U.S. stealth technology and detect air and land targets up to 500 miles away.
    During the cold war, Czech arms companies supplied Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and North Korea with high-tech military equipment and explosives. Several recent arrests suggest that the black-market trade in Czech-made Semtex, a virtually undetectable plastic explosive popular with terrorist groups, is booming.


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News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • United States Wants Israel to Stay Out of Iraq
    "America would be very happy if we are not involved in this attack, at least at this stage," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon told a conference Wednesday. "They want to do the work alone, without anyone getting in the way." However, Israel's ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, told Israel Army Radio on Thursday that if the Iraqis "try to drag us in, we'll know how to act.'' The U.S. has not demanded that Israel stay out of any military action against Iraq, Ayalon said. (Guardian - UK/AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Iraq War Hawks Have Plans to Reshape Entire Mideast
    The most hawkish members of the Bush administration are pushing a sweeping vision for the Middle East that sees the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as merely a first step in the region's transformation. After an ouster of Hussein, they say, the United States will have more leverage to act against Syria and Iran, will be in a better position to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and will be able to rely less on Saudi oil. (Boston Globe)
  • Sea of Galilee Disappearing
    These days, even the lowest sinner can walk out onto the Sea of Galilee. The sea has dropped almost 20 feet since 1998. The 64-square-mile lake supplies 27 percent of Israel's fresh water and a significant portion of neighboring Jordan's. The crisis has forced Israel's water commissioner to curtail water for Israeli agriculture by a third. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Terrorists Take Refuge in Arafat's HQ
    Twenty-five Palestinians on the IDF's wanted list have taken refuge in Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. Among the 25 are PA West Bank intelligence head Tawfiq Tirawi, accused of being involved in orchestrating terror attacks. Another is the Force 17 commander in Ramallah and his deputy, responsible for attacks in which 15 Israelis were killed. (IMRA)
  • Security Fence to Encompass Rachel's Tomb
    The security cabinet approved Prime Minister Sharon's proposal Wednesday to include Rachel's Tomb within the new security barrier being constructed around Jerusalem. The site is where Jews believe the biblical matriarch Rachel, wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph, is buried. Under the Oslo Accords, Israelis were to be granted unhindered entry to the site, but during the past two years there have been frequent shooting attacks by Palestinian gunmen. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Four Mortars Fired at Israeli Communities in Gaza
    Four mortar shells were fired at Israeli communities in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning. There were no injuries. In the last two years, Palestinians have fired 1,100 mortar shells and rockets at IDF positions and Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. Since August 18, the start of the "Gaza-Bethlehem first" deal, Palestinians have fired 45 mortar shells and rockets at Israeli targets in the area. (Maariv)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Terrible Truths, A Sober Summary of the Threat Posed by Saddam's Arsenal - Editorial
    The dossier published by the IISS, Britain's most influential think-tank, on Saddam Hussein's arsenal of death makes clear that Saddam must now have a formidable arsenal of weapons that could poison many thousands of people. Unless Saddam's program of weapons of mass destruction is stopped, no other country in the region will have any reason to halt similar proliferation. It is the shadowy nature of the threat that makes it so menacing. Even a partial summary, given by an impartial source, makes clear that the threat must be confronted. (Times - UK)
  • The Legality of Pre-emptive Strikes against Rogue States - Alan Dershowitz
    Iraq is determined to develop nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them. In the age of conventional warfare, the presumption might well favor waiting. But if waiting realistically increases the risk that we or our allies may be exposed to nuclear, biological, or chemical attack by Iraq or Iraqi-sponsored terrorists, then the presumption may well favor immediate preventive action. (National Post - Canada)
  • Noah and 9/11 - Thomas L. Friedman
    Let us say to the Muslim world: Where are your voices of reason? When members of your faith, acting in the name of Islam, murdered Americans or committed suicide against "infidels," your press extolled them as martyrs and your spiritual leaders were largely silent. That's a problem, because if there isn't a struggle within Islam - over norms and values - there is going to be a struggle between Islam and us. (New York Times)
  • The Split in the Saudi Royal Family - William Safire
    Who will hold the keys to the kingdom when the present king, Fahd - a stroke victim and totally out of it - dies? One faction of the royal family is headed by Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto monarch today, backed by most of the Faisal branch of the royals. The opposition within the House of Saud is the Sudairi branch, headed by Prince Sultan, now the defense minister. Sultan has control of oil and gas production and is locked into both the influential bin Laden family and the radical Wahhabi imams. Sultan spells trouble. (New York Times)
  • The Massacring of the Truth - Amnon Rubinstein
    A propaganda war is being waged against Israel that has no counterpart in other conflicts - a propaganda offensive aimed at portraying Israel as a monstrous state. One day Israel is committing a massacre, the next day it is disseminating false accusations that the Palestinians spread rumors of an imaginary massacre. It is permissible to criticize Israel - sometimes it is even obligatory. But Palestinian and Arab incitement is something entirely different in that it portrays a state that has no right to exist at all and whose destruction would be a blessing for mankind. (Ha'aretz)
  • Talking Points:

    Resignation of the PA Cabinet: What Does it Mean? (Ha'aretz)

    • Head of Military Intelligence Major General Aharon Ze'evi said Wednesday that the decision by the members of the recently reshuffled Palestinian cabinet to resign was "an earthquake in the PA," which would eventually lead to the replacement of Yasser Arafat as Palestinian leader.
    • The ministers submitted their resignations apparently to avoid being ousted by a parliamentary vote of no-confidence, a "very clear" indication of the drop in Arafat's status.
    • Since last April's Operation Defensive Shield, the Palestinian public has been "in a deep process of internalizing the failure."
    • Ze'evi also claimed that terrorist organizations were having trouble finding volunteers for suicide attacks against Israel.
    • Mohammed Horani, a Fatah member who pushed for the no-confidence motion, estimated that 57 Fatah-affiliated lawmakers in the 88-seat parliament were poised to vote against the new cabinet. This is seen as a symptom of the rift within Fatah between those from the local movement and those who came to the territories with Arafat in 1994.
    • Arafat is to present a new cabinet in two weeks, and has announced new presidential and parliamentary elections for January 20, 2003.
        See also The Historic Day the Chairman Failed - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz); A Fatah Demi-Putsch - Khaled abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post); Political Uprising Deals Grievous Blow to Arafat - Paul Adams (Globe and Mail - Canada)


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