Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

March 18, 2003

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Saddam's War Plan - Amir Taheri (Jerusalem Post)
    Saddam's war plan aims first to slow down the advance of coalition forces as much as possible. He hopes to do this by creating a tidal wave of refugees, including large numbers of army deserters, in the densely populated southern provinces bordering Kuwait.
    Saddam wants to leave would-be refugees no escape route except toward the south, in the direction of the coalition forces. At some point, he may use chemical weapons to foment panic among the population and thus force it to flee toward Kuwait.
    Saddam also plans to hide his best and most loyal forces behind units of the regular army, in a sense using the Iraqi army as cannon fodder.
    Another goal is to maximize civilian casualties in the hope of shocking world public opinion, especially in the U.S., into even stiffer opposition to the war. This is why Saddam has positioned almost all of his best assets in densely populated areas.
    Saddam told his commanders Sunday: "We shall see how many Iraqis the aggressors are prepared to kill."
    He hopes that his tactics will slow the coalition advance toward Baghdad for several weeks, during which his European friends could go to the UN Security Council and ask for an immediate cease-fire.


Bulk of Iraqi Army Will Not Defend Saddam, Former Baghdad Commander Says (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    A former commander of Baghdad's air defenses said Tuesday that the bulk of the Iraqi military would not defend President Saddam Hussein - and that the elite Special Republican Guard will crumple when faced with U.S. forces.
    Shamel Majid, now living in exile in New Zealand, said Iraq's armed forces were "just waiting for a spark" to abandon the regime.


Pakistani Editor: No Harm in Recognizing Israel (Daily Times-Pakistan)
    Ikram Sehgal, chief editor of the Defence Journal, said on Saturday that there would be no harm in Pakistan's recognition of Israel if Tel Aviv could be pursued to refrain from a pro-Indian policy.
    In a lecture at the Department of International Relations at Karachi University, he said if Jordan and Egypt could recognize Israel, why not Pakistan?


We Are Totally Against War, Says Prince Sultan (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, reiterated Sunday Saudi Arabia's total opposition to the U.S.-led war on Iraq.
    "There will be no change in the Kingdom's stand. We are against war in any event and we always believe that peaceful solutions are better," Prince Sultan told reporters after meeting in Jeddah with his French counterpart Michele Alliot-Marie.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush Gives Saddam 48 Hours to Leave
    President Bush vowed Monday to attack Iraq with the "full force and might" of the U.S. military if Saddam Hussein does not flee within 48 hours. The UN ordered its inspectors and humanitarian personnel out of Iraq, and Bush urged foreign nationals to leave the country immediately. (Washington Post)
        Text: President Bush's Monday Address (Washington Post)
  • Iraq Arming Troops with Chemical Weapons
    Senior Defense and other U.S. officials confirmed that intelligence reports indicate that Saddam Hussein's troops are armed with chemical munitions. "We are seeing - using different methods - that Saddam Hussein has armed troops south of Baghdad with chemical weapons," one official said. Intelligence reports indicate that "some chemical shells" have been provided to troops. Senior Defense officials say they expected the Iraqis to use these weapons, and they predict more movement by Iraqi troops in the south and the west in the next day or so. (FOX News)
        See also U.S.: Iraq May Use Chemical Warfare (CNN)
  • Kurds Flee Threat of Another Massacre
    Thousands of Kurds from the cities of Arbil and Dohuk are heading for the hills for fear of a pre-emptive chemical strike from Baghdad. The cities lie within artillery range of the front line, from where troops could launch shells containing chemical or biological agents. The mountains are the Kurds' traditional refuge, but with spring barely in flower and the nights still freezing, a huge movement of people could mean many face terrible hardship. (London Times)
  • Deals Could Keep Iraqi Army in Barracks
    The U.S. military is trying to negotiate "capitulation agreements" with Iraqi commanders under which their troops would turn over most of their weapons and return to their barracks rather than be taken as prisoners of war. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Raises Terror Alert Level
    "The intelligence community believes that terrorists will attempt multiple attacks against U.S. and coalition targets worldwide in the event of a U.S.-led military campaign against Saddam Hussein," said Tom Ridge, the homeland security secretary, in announcing that the color-coded national terrorism alert level has been raised to orange, or "high risk." "There are many recent indications that al Qaeda's planning includes the use of chemical, biological, and/or radiological materials," he said. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Reservist Killed, Another Hurt by Hamas Gunmen Near Bethlehem - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Sergeant Major Ami Cohen, 27, was killed and another IDF soldier was wounded in clashes with armed Palestinians south of Bethlehem Tuesday in the village of Rabah Marah. Troops were searching a home in the village when a terrorist opened fire from one of the rooms.
        On Monday, five Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza at Sderot and other towns in the western Negev. One of the rockets hit a bus in Sderot, but there were no injuries. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ten Palestinians Killed in Gaza Fighting - Erik Schechter
    Ten Palestinians were killed in two IDF forays into the Gaza Strip on Monday in a hunt for wanted terrorists. An IDF force entered Nuseirat refugee camp before dawn and met heavy resistance from gunmen. Witnesses said that Palestinians set off roadside bombs, to no noticeable effect. Southern Command Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen. Zvika Fogel, responsible for the assault, insisted that while civilians occasionally get caught in the crossfire, "they are not our targets. We only shoot at armed targets." "There's been no escalation," Sharon spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said of the IDF operations. Rather they were just being "intensified" to combat Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "They have been escalating their efforts against us, as some sort of solidarity with Iraq," he added. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Public Should Prepare Sealed Room - Amos Harel
    On Tuesday, the Home Front Command recommended that the public prepare a sealed room in light of the expected U.S. invasion of Iraq. Recommended supplies include plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal the room, hermetically sealed foodstuffs in metal or glass containers, at least a liter of water per person in the sealed room, emergency lighting or a flashlight, reserve batteries, a transistor radio, a fan, and small bags packed with personal effects, in case of an evacuation of the area. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Defense Minister Mofaz Urges Israelis to Maintain Daily Routines (Jerusalem Post)
  • How Iran Planned the Buenos Aires Blast - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
        Israeli intelligence has uncovered most of the details of Iran's involvement in the July 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left some 100 people dead and 250 wounded.
        The decision for the strike was made in principle in August 1993 at a meeting of the Iranian Supreme Council for National Security chaired by Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other participants included President Rafsanjani, Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, and Khamenei's intelligence and security adviser, Muhamed Hijazi.
        The bomber was Ibrahim Hasin Baro, a Hizballah man from Lebanon.
        The bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992, in which 30 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded, was also conducted by Iranian intelligence services, with Hizballah playing a key role in its execution. The methods of operation in both cases were the same.
        See also Mossad: Hizballah behind Buenos Aires Attacks - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Suit Begins Against Iran in Marine Barracks Bombing
    More than 600 relatives of the 241 U.S. servicemen killed in a 1983 bombing of the Marines barracks in Beirut charged in U.S. District Court in Washington that Iran was responsible for the bombing. Attorneys Thomas Fortune Fay and Steven Perles noted that while militants belonging to the Lebanese group Hizballah participated in the bombing, the leadership of Iran designed and carried out the attack, using an Iranian suicide-bomber to drive the truck. (Washington Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • "A Question of Will" - Editorial
    Mr. Bush is right in insisting that Saddam Hussein face the "serious consequences" unanimously agreed upon by the UN Security Council in the event Iraq rejected a "final opportunity" to disarm. Though they agreed to those terms, France and Russia refused to respect them. In recent weeks their diplomats did their best to transform the UN's attempt to eliminate a rogue state's chemical and biological weapons into a global debate about the U.S. and its leadership - and to a large extent, they succeeded. Whether their underlying intention was to protect the Iraqi regime or to create a political mechanism for containing the U.S., they made it impossible for the Security Council to act effectively. As Mr. Bush said last night: "This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will."
        Iraqis, even more than Americans, have much to gain from the downfall of a tyrant guilty of some of the most terrible human rights crimes of the past half-century. A regime and an arsenal that have threatened and destabilized the Middle East for two decades can be eliminated; prisoners can be released, ethnic minorities freed from brutal repression, war criminals brought to justice, and a polity based on torture and murder replaced by one that respects basic political and human rights. That is the kind of cause that the United States has always embraced; it is a cause worthy of the sacrifices that will now be asked of American men and women in uniform. (Washington Post)
  • Response and Deterrence - Moshe Arens
    In 1991, by the Gulf War's third week, the case for an Israeli military response had become very strong. After persistent Israeli demands, the U.S. was prepared to make good on the assurances given Israel prior to the war that if U.S. forces were unable to stop the Scud attacks against Israel, the U.S. would "stand down" west of an agreed longitude so as to clear the area for an Israeli military operation. Such an operation had been planned by the IDF, submitted by the General Staff for approval to the defense minister, and so been approved. The main reason why the operation was not carried out was that President Bush peremptorily declared a cease-fire during the fifth week of the war. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Fight Over Iraq's Oil - Daniel Yergin
    While Iraq's oil reserves are the second largest in the world - after Saudi Arabia - Iraq represents just 3% of the world's total production capacity. Its oil exports are at about the same level as Nigeria's. In contrast to the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, which was more about energy security, this current crisis is focused on overall security, and it requires several leaps of logic to conclude that the current Iraq crisis is "all about oil." (BBC)
  • Catching Saudi Arabia Red-Handed - Robert Spencer
    "We believe that our country has been unfairly maligned," said Saudi spokesman Adel al-Jubeir at a notorious press conference last December. Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism, by former Israeli UN ambassador Dore Gold, administers the coup de grace to any lingering notion that the Saudis might actually be working in harmony with American interests. Given the riches of the House of Saud and the fanaticism of the Wahhabi Islam to which they adhere, the Saudis were "up to their necks in financing terrorism," as Gold puts it. The book details discoveries by Israeli intelligence indicating Saudi payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, with some of it funneled through Saudi-funded American Muslim organizations. The Saudis have also given considerable sums to the families of suicide bombers. (Human Events)
  • Observations:

    Taba Mythchief - David Makovsky
    (National Interest/Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • If an American push should come to vigorously pursue the Arab-Israeli peace process after dealing with Iraq, it would be tragic were it plagued by a misleading mythology that Israelis and Palestinians were at the verge of peace in January 2001 as they met at Taba.
    • According to this myth, both sides had essentially agreed on the critical and difficult issues of land, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem, and it was only Ariel Sharon's rise to power that prevented these discussions from coming to fruition - a myth that has wide currency in both the Arab world and in Europe.
    • The diplomatic advisor to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdallah, Adel al-Jubeir, claims that at Taba "the Israelis and the Palestinians came very close to an agreement." Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says that the talks "could have led to a settlement, had an additional chance for a few more months been made available for negotiations."
    • This is just not so. First of all, the Israeli delegation at Taba did not have the moral authority to negotiate two weeks before an election in which Prime Minister Ehud Barak was widely expected to lose in a landslide; and Israel's delegation was led by a government that had the support of only 42 of Israel's 120-member parliament. Even had a deal been reached, therefore, it is very unlikely that the Knesset would have ratified it.
    • But no deal was ever in prospect. Palestinian negotiators made only conditional and tactical concessions at Taba, and even these were never agreed to by Arafat. While some key Palestinian negotiators wanted a deal, no evidence suggests that Arafat himself was willing to make any concessions of real significance.
    • Even the diplomat who has put forth the rosiest assessment of the Taba negotiations - EU Middle East peace envoy Miguel Moratinos - wrote in a document summarizing those talks (Ha'aretz, February 14, 2001) that "serious gaps remain."


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