Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

February 18, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq Will Set Oilfields Ablaze If Attacked - Damien McElroy (Telegraph-UK)

    Iraq is reinforcing defenses around its northern oilfields and troops have been ordered to set the wells ablaze if there is an invasion, according to tanker drivers just back from the region.
    The British SAS has been given the task of preventing the sabotage of the wells if war starts.
    Retreating Iraqi troops torched 600 Kuwaiti oil wells during the last Gulf War, setting fires that burned for 10 months and destroyed six million barrels of oil a day.


By Land and by Sky: Lessons for Desert Storm II - Gen. Charles A. Horner (Los Angeles Times)

    A lesson from the Gulf War is to integrate modern air power with ground forces. In 1991, air power destroyed artillery and armor, limiting Iraq's capacity to repel our ground forces.
    More than 40 Iraqi divisions were defeated with the loss of about 150 Americans, half of whom were killed by our own weapons.
    Recent action in Afghanistan - when air and land forces again were closely integrated - reaffirms the effectiveness of this approach.
    (Gen. Horner was commander of all U.S. and allied air assets during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.)


Palestinian Writer: PA Wrong to Reject Peace - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    Palestinian writer Tawfik Abu Baker, in an article published in the PA's daily Al-Ayyam, has lashed out at the PA for "helping" Sharon rise to power by failing to rein in extremist elements and rejecting the Middle East peace initiative of former U.S. President Clinton.
    Abu Baker is among a growing number of Palestinians who are beginning to question the wisdom of their leader's decisions and the effectiveness of terrorism. Their argument is that the Palestinians' biggest and most fatal mistake was "militarizing" the conflict.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • 2-Week Window Frames Bush's Decision on War - Mike Allen and Karen DeYoung
    President Bush plans at least two more weeks of diplomacy before deciding whether to attack Iraq, administration officials said Monday. Officials said the U.S. and Britain are likely to push for an enforcement resolution in the UN Security Council this week. While the administration has consistently maintained that it does not need another Security Council resolution to launch an attack against Iraq, it has so far bowed to the wishes of Britain and Spain, its two main council allies. Dozens of other countries whose support the administration has claimed also have said they would prefer a UN imprimatur on any action. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Troops Arrive in Turkey
    CNN Turkey reported as many as 500 U.S. troops disembarked at the heavily-guarded air base at Diyarbakir, some 650 km southeast of the capital Ankara. Small numbers of suspected U.S. special forces or intelligence agents have been seen in Turkey. (The Age-Australia)
        See also Proposal by Turkey Stalls U.S. Bid to Use Its Bases - Dexter Filkins with Judith Miller
    Turkish leaders have ruled out a deal to allow American combat troops to use their country without agreement first on a multibillion dollar economic aid package. (New York Times)
  • Israel Not Panicked Over Possible War - Paul Adams
    Most Israelis consider a new war between the U.S. and Iraq in the coming weeks all but inevitable, and they are getting prepared. The atmosphere is tense, but far from panicky. Forty thousand Israelis a day are turning up at gas mask distribution centers. Yet a poll published in Ha'aretz newspaper said 43% of Israelis cited suicide attacks as their main security concern, compared with 12% who cited Iraqi missiles. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinians: Abu Mazen to be PA Prime Minister; Arafat to Keep Control of Security and Foreign Affairs
    Senior Palestinian sources told Israel Radio on Tuesday that Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), the No. 2 figure in the Palestinian Authority, will be appointed Palestinian prime minister. The sources said that the prime minister would rank second to Yasser Arafat, who would be in charge of security and foreign issues, and that Arafat and Fatah's central committee are the ones responsible for choosing the prime minister. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sharon Meets PA Finance Minister - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this past weekend with Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem. Fayyad, a former International Monetary Fund official, has been rebuilding the PA's financial and budgetary apparatus, with active support from the U.S. and Israel. Since the start of the year, Israel has so far given Fayyad some NIS 530 million for PA expenses. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Chief Killed in Gaza Operation - Amos Harel
    In the wake of the weekend deaths of a four-man Israeli tank crew in Gaza, the IDF has dropped its self-imposed restraints ahead of an American assault on Iraq, and is moving against Hamas in Gaza, army sources said Monday. Riyad Abu Zid, 33, the current military commander of Hamas in Gaza, was killed Monday when he tried to resist arrest by an elite army unit at a surprise checkpoint. Army sources emphasized that the aim was to arrest - not kill - Zid in order to question him about a series of planned suicide bombings and car bombings. (Ha'aretz)
  • Poll: 71% in U.S. Oppose Palestinian State - Eli Wohlgelernter
    71% of Americans believe that the Palestinians should not be given a state, since they have not fulfilled President Bush's conditions for creating a state, according to a poll conducted last week by John McLaughlin and Associates and sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America. 13% believe the Palestinians have fulfilled these conditions and should be given a state. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Will Not Kneel to Terror
    Major General Amos Gilad, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, speaking Saturday night on Israel Channel Two, pointed out that despite claims made by the Palestinian Authority that they are unable to control or prevent terror attacks, they are in fact capable of preventing Hamas from launching Kassam missiles against Israel. "The Palestinian Authority understood that the launching of Kassam missiles would cause it damage and not advance its goals, and thus it suddenly acted," said Gilad. Gilad added that in his opinion there are no dormant terrorist cells in the territories that possess chemical or biological weapons and that are awaiting the command to attack. (IDF)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Settling of Accounts Past Due - Fouad Ajami
    Whether the Arabs admit it or not, there is a deep fear across their lands of what a war of liberation in Iraq may trigger. There shall be an accounting between the Iraqi people, seared by sorrow and brutality as they have been, and an Arab street that forever averted its gaze from the crimes of Saddam Hussein. It shall be a moment of singular embarrassment when the throngs in Ramallah and Cairo take to the streets for the obligatory attacks against America while Iraqis greet the unseating of Saddam as a precious gift. (U.S. News)
  • Israel is No Longer Alone - Yossi Alpher
    Before the war starts, it is important to set the record straight. Israel has a far-reaching strategic interest in the destruction of the non-conventional capabilities of Hussein's regime, along with the elimination of its support for Palestinian suicide terrorism. All the other talk of an Israeli role or interest is largely without foundation.
        Over the years, the Israeli threat assessment has evolved to the point where conventional attack is now assigned low probability, while terrorism and non-conventional attack are in some instances seen as a single threat - for example, Iraq or Syria providing radical Palestinians with a non-conventional capability. Until recently, Israel essentially faced these threats alone. The U.S. and UK have now concluded that Iraqi, Iranian, and Syrian weapons of mass destruction, and support for terrorist organizations such as Hizballah and Hamas, also threaten them and their legitimate interests. At the 11th hour, Israel finds itself no longer alone - a source of immense relief. (Financial Times)
  • Mubarak Changes His Tune - Victor Nahmias
    Mubarak understood that persistence in his negative policy toward Sharon meant having no involvement with Israel's government until the completion of its new term of office (in another four years). (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Talking Points:

    Why I'm Not Going Wobbly on Iraq - British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Wall Street Journal)

    • At every stage, we should seek to avoid war. But if the threat cannot be removed peacefully, please let us not fall for the delusion that it can be safely ignored. If we do not confront these twin menaces of rogue states with weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, they will not disappear. They will just feed and grow on our weakness.
    • The moral case against war has a moral answer: It is the moral case for removing Saddam.
    • If we remove Saddam by force, people will die, and some will be innocent. And we must live with the consequences of our actions, even the unintended ones. But if the result of peace is Saddam staying in power, not disarmed, then I tell you there are consequences paid in blood for that decision too.
    • Ridding the world of Saddam would be an act of humanity. It is leaving him there that is in truth inhumane.


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