Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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DAILY ALERT

March 10, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraqi Drone "Could Drop Chemicals on Troops" - James Bone (London Times)
    A report declassified by the UN Friday contained a hidden bombshell. Inspectors have recently discovered an undeclared Iraqi drone with a wingspan of 7.45m, suggesting an illegal range that could threaten Iraq's neighbors with chemical and biological weapons.
    U.S. officials were outraged that Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, did not inform the Security Council about the drone. The omission raised serious questions about Dr. Blix's objectivity.
    Colin Powell, the U.S. Secretary of State, told the Security Council in February that Washington had evidence that Iraq had test-flown a drone for 500km non-stop.
    The inspectors warn that Iraq still has spraying devices and drop tanks that could be used in dispersing chemical and biological agents from aircraft.
    The report suggests that Iraq has huge stockpiles of anthrax, may be developing long-range missiles, and could possess chemical and biological R400 aerial bombs and Scud missiles, and even smallpox.

    See also Iraq Tried to Order Drones and Spray Kits - Jon Swain (London Times)
    Saddam Hussein has been trying to acquire a fleet of 300 drones equipped with spraying devices capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons.
    Iraqi documents show orders for kits to make the pilotless planes and for gyroscopes and guidance systems enabling them to be flown at targets from a distance.
    The material, which has been passed to the UN inspectors, also revealed Iraq had been trying to develop a rocket capable of travelling 750 miles - eight times the range permitted by the UN.

    See also U.S. Says Iraq Retools Rockets for Illicit Uses
    Weapons inspectors recently discovered rockets configured to disperse chemical or biological agents, U.S. officials say. (New York Times)


Saddam's War - Evan Thomas and John Barry (Newsweek)
    During the military parade through downtown Baghdad some of Saddam's fedayeen ("men of sacrifice") were garbed in the familiar tan camouflage of the U.S. Army. Saddam has ordered thousands of uniforms identical, down to the last detail, to those worn by U.S. and British troopers.
    The plan: to have Saddam's men, posing as Western invaders, slaughter Iraqi citizens while the cameras roll for Al-Jazeera.
    Saddam is hardly above gassing his own people and pretending that the Americans - the "Crusaders and Jews and infidels" - are to blame.
    Antiaircraft batteries and tanks and artillery have been placed beneath and beside mosques, hospitals, and schools.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Iran's Nuclear Program Speeds Ahead
    Intelligence agencies are being forced to dramatically shorten estimates for when Iran may acquire nuclear weapons. But equally striking is the extent to which Iran's breakthrough caught the U.S. and others by surprise. Iran has built a clandestine and highly sophisticated nuclear infrastructure that would allow it to seek uranium-based weapons. "Here we suddenly discover that Iran is much further along, with a far more robust nuclear weapons development program than anyone said it had," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday on CNN. "It shows you how a determined nation that has the intent to develop a nuclear weapon can keep that development process secret from inspectors and outsiders, if they really are determined to do it." (Washington Post)
  • Special Forces Poised to Attack Western Iraq
    U.S. strike aircraft and special forces are now poised to open a western front against Iraq, after setting up a string of covert bases in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the eastern Mediterranean. Several thousand troops have been moving into bases in northern Saudi Arabia over the past week. The U.S. set up three batteries of Patriot missiles in Azraq AB in eastern Jordan last month to improve Israel's defenses against Iraqi Scuds. Special force helicopters are also at the base to fly commandos into western Iraq. This week, U.S. aircraft launched two air raids on mobile Iraqi surface-to-air missile batteries defending the huge H-3 airbase in western Iraq. (The Scotsman-UK)
  • Arafat to Keep Control After Naming Prime Minister
    Arafat will retain control of security forces and peace negotiations even after his deputy Mahmoud Abbas is appointed prime minister, a senior Palestinian official said Sunday. The deal sidesteps key reform demands by Israel and the U.S. that Arafat hand over authority to a powerful prime minister. Palestine Central Council head Riad Zanoun said Arafat has the power to appoint and dismiss the premier, whose "duty will be to help President Arafat."
        Shimon Peres said the appointment is less significant than the power retained by armed forces outside the realm of the Palestinian Authority, like the militant group Hamas. However, he supported Abbas in principle. "I believe he will make a very serious effort to extract the Palestinian side from the current situation," he said. (MSNBC)
        See also Arafat to Retain Control of Peace Talks, Security Forces (Ha'aretz);
    Abu Mazen Appointment Could Challenge Hamas - Danny Rubinstein
    As the PLO central council and the Palestinian Legislative Council are convening in Ramallah to discuss the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as Palestinian prime minister, there is no Hamas representation in either of the two Palestinian national bodies, even though Hamas is the second largest Palestinian movement (and some say it already has more followers in Gaza than Arafat's Fatah party). Indeed, the political positions of the new Palestinian prime minister directly contradict those of Hamas. (Ha'aretz);
    Palestinians Criticize Arafat's Choice of PM
    Palestinians say the move will kill the long-standing Palestinian issue, as Mahmoud Abbas will give in to Israeli and American demands, because he is known to be against the intifada. The Palestinians will not obey the new prime minister's orders as he does not enjoy any respect among them. (Gulf News-Dubai)
  • Iranians Wanted for Buenos Aires Bombing
    An Argentine judge has asked Interpol to arrest four Iranian officials accused of being involved in a deadly bomb attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994 after Argentine intelligence services linked the officials to the bombing, in which 85 people were killed. Iran's former Intelligence and Security Minister, Ali Fallahijan, and the former cultural attache at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, Moshe Rabbani, are among those named. The order to blow the AMIA building up was given by Iranian government officials and Hizballah leaders, security services concluded. (BBC)
  • "Al Qaeda Link" to Bombing of Tunisian Synagogue
    Spain suspects that five people arrested on suspicion of being involved in the truck bombing of a Tunisian synagogue last year had financial ties with Osama bin Laden, the interior minister has said. (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Kiryat Arba Couple Slain on Shabbat - Tovah Lazaroff
    Rabbi Eli Horowitz, 51, and his wife Dina, nee Wolf, 49, two well-known teachers, were murdered in their Kiryat Arba home on Friday night by Palestinian terrorists dressed as religious Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
    Eli moved to Israel with his family at the age of 15 from Silver Spring, Maryland. Dina also immigrated from Silver Spring, and the two met in Jerusalem. (AP/Ha'aretz); (IMRA/Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Mofaz: Film Shows Palestinians were Killed by Own Bomb - Erik Schechter
    A Palestinian-made bomb, and not an IDF tank shell, killed eight Gaza residents during the March 6 raid by Israeli soldiers in northern Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday after an IDF review of a televised videotape of the incident. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Four More Qassam Rockets Hit Sderot - Amos Harel and Tsachar Rotem
    Four Qassam rockets hit Sderot Monday, falling in open land. One of the rockets hit the concrete perimeter wall of a girl's seminary on the outskirts of the town, some 20 meters from the local fire station. (Ha'aretz)
  • Focus on Hamas - Aluf Benn
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and senior security officials told the cabinet last Wednesday following the Haifa bombing that the extensive operations in the West Bank enabled the IDF to take control over the terror infrastructure there, despite the fact that Palestinians still manage to carry out attacks from time to time, and that military efforts are focused now on hitting the Hamas infrastructure based in the Gaza Strip. Security officials reiterated that the Palestinian Authority has enough manpower to control Hamas in Gaza, but Arafat doesn't want to do that and doesn't allow his men to act. As a result, Hamas is threatening to take control over the Strip and present a ruling alternative to the PA.
        The U.S. administration avoided criticizing recent IDF operations in Gaza and did not pressure Israel to stop. Israel was condemned by U.S. government spokesmen for harming Palestinian civilians and for the humanitarian distress in the territories, but in private talks and in diplomatic channels, the Americans avoided raising the issue. Israel is being attacked, and President Bush and the U.S. administration accept Israel's right to defend itself and deal with those behind the terror. (Ha'aretz)
        See also In Leaderless Gaza, Israeli Forces and Hamas Fight It Out (New York Times)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Moment of Decision - Editorial
    In their bid for global opinion, the French and Russians now invoke principles they would never agree to if they were applied to Chechnya or Francophone Africa. As President Bush pointed out in his news conference Thursday, Iraq's continued stockpiling of banned weapons is a direct threat to the United States, and the country has a right under the UN Charter to defend itself against that threat. (Washington Post)
  • Saddam Street Fighters No Match for Allies' Elite - Edward Luttwak
    As for the anxieties of some Western military analysts, one corrective is sadly on view almost every day in the Gaza fighting between Israeli troops and far greater numbers of armed Palestinians, many of them with far more experience in combat than Iraqi soldiers. Because of their thorough training, the Israelis suffer very few casualties, despite having to operate in narrow streets and alleys without as free a use of their firepower advantage as U.S. and British troops would have in Baghdad. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    Waiting for War - Gary Rosenblatt (New York Jewish Week)

    • This is the Middle East we're dealing with, where the thinking is very different from our Western attitudes, and it is dangerous to make assumptions based on our own sense of logic.
    • A case in point is what happened when Israel pulled out of Lebanon in the spring of 2000. The Barak government saw the move as not only a chance to bring its soldiers home from the war front, after almost two decades, but to signal the Arabs that Israel had no claim on the land and only wanted peace.
    • Instead, the move was perceived in the Arab world as a full-scale retreat by the Israeli army, a humiliating defeat for Jerusalem, and a sign to Arabs everywhere that keeping up the violent pressure eventually will lead to Israeli withdrawal. Indeed, the leaders of the Palestinian intifada that began a few months later point to the Lebanon pullback as an inspiration and turning point in their determination to renew hostilities with Israel.
    • America is learning, as Israel has come to understand, that trying to resolve conflict in the Arab world through diplomatic negotiation, politics, and reason is simply dismissed there as weakness. Power, and the use of it, is respected.
    • Israel knows that targeted assassinations of terror leaders and demolishing homes of the relatives of terrorists don't play well in the Western media, but they are effective tools in staving off the wholesale murder of one's citizens. So impossible choices must be made between tolerance and force, between world opinion and homeland security.
    • Israel has, reluctantly and agonizingly, opted to make its first priority the protection of its men, women, and children, even if it loses international support and public opinion along the way. Washington appears to have made a similar calculation, recognizing that to adopt the European position - that war is never an alternative - is to appease our enemies and endanger our own people, postponing rather than precluding an ultimate showdown.


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