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 21, 2003

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Iraqi Suicide Pilot Misses U.S. Base - Daniel McGrory (London Times)
    American commanders claimed that an Iraqi suicide pilot narrowly missed hitting a main military base in the Kuwaiti desert Thursday.
    U.S. officers say a small Cessna aircraft flew low over the border and headed for Camp Commando which, until a few days ago, was the main base for U.S. Marines.
    Saddam Hussein is known to have adapted single-seater aircraft to carry chemical weapons; the appearance of the Cessna triggered an alert throughout military units along the Iraqi border.
    An American military spokesman said the pilot launched a missile at the camp in eastern Kuwait, which exploded harmlessly 40m from the perimeter.
    The aircraft is then reported to have banked hard to the left and dived towards the camp, which is shared by British and U.S. personnel, crashing just 100m from its target.


A Surprise Start to the War - Elisabeth Bumiller and David Johnston (New York Times)
    Intelligence officials had long been frustrated in their attempts to track Saddam Hussein's erratic movements. Then, on Wednesday, according to senior government officials, Iraqi informants produced a lead.
    Administration officials said Thursday they had been relying on intelligence from Iraqis who had not spoken to them in the past.
    "People are talking to us now and telling us things now that they would never have dreamed of telling us," one senior official said. "People are sticking their necks out in all kinds of ways in Iraq that they never would do before."
    Administration officials said that even though they were unsure if they had killed Mr. Hussein, they were sure they had hit a bunker of top Iraqi officials.
    "It seems to me that if you think you can get the top leadership, and it doesn't happen to fit your plan, it would be irresponsible not to take the chance," one senior official said. "Wouldn't you have backed an effort to get Hitler in 1939?"


Women Suicide Bombers Parade in Baghdad (AFP/Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Some 30 would-be women suicide bombers, dressed entirely in black, paraded in Baghdad with their faces hidden last Saturday.
    Wearing belts across their chest stuffed with TNT explosives, the women are members of the paramilitary "Saddam's fedayeen" who declared themselves ready to attack U.S. forces.


Al Qaeda Training Women Suicide Bombers (Jane's)
    A leading pan-Arab newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat, has reported that al Qaeda is training women for suicide missions and that some have joined male comrades in preparing to carry out "human bomb" attacks against the West and Israel.


Air Raid on Saddam Kills Palestinian Terrorist Officer - Michael Ladeen (National Review)
    The U.S. surgical strike on Wednesday night got an unexpected bonus: a terrorist from the Palestine Liberation Front.
    A PLF statement released in Sidon (Syrian-occupied Lebanon) identified the man as 1st Lt. Ahmed Walid Raguib al-Baz, killed "while confronting the treacherous U.S. air bombardment on Iraq."
    The PLF has long been one of the most lethal Palestinian terrorist groups, and achieved notoriety for its high-tech killings.
    The PLF has also been one of the main conduits for Iraqi money to Palestinian suicide bombers.


Mideast Nations Roll Up Journalists' Welcome Mat - Paul Farhi (Washington Post )
    U.S. officials say Arab and Muslim nations - nominally America's "silent partners" in the war against Iraq - have kept American journalists away from their air bases, apparently out of concern that media coverage of U.S. operations there will incite internal opposition.
    In recent days reporters have been unable to gain direct access to U.S. forces stationed in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Air bases in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates have also been deemed off-limits to the media by those countries.


Israel Warns Web Sites on War Coverage - Declan McCullagh (CNET News)
    Chief Censor Rachel Dolev sent a letter on Wednesday to "scoop" news sites, instructing editors to seek government permission before publishing information about "materials that could pose a threat to the security of the State of Israel and its residents."
    Dolev's letter warned the sites not to publish the locations of any missile strikes, information about Israeli Cabinet deliberations, or information about Israeli wartime cooperation with other governments such as the United States.


Useful Reference:

Israel National Information Center

New online - The Israel National Information Center website contains on-line briefings, updates, and coverage of the recent events in the Middle East from government sources.


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Back Issues


News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Intelligence: Saddam, Sons in Struck Compound
    U.S. intelligence believes Saddam Hussein and possibly two of his sons were present inside a suburban Baghdad compound when it was struck by U.S. missiles and bombs and that medical attention was summoned afterward, government officials said Thursday. Intelligence officials said the attack began with about three dozen naval cruise missiles that leveled the aboveground structures. Air Force F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters then dropped a new 2,000-pound, satellite-guided, "bunker buster" designed to penetrate the reinforced underground bunker at the site. (FOX News)
  • 16 Soldiers Die in Crash as Operation Iraqi Freedom Begins
    12 British commandos and 4 American marines were killed when their helicopter crashed in Kuwait, as American and British armed forces pushed into the Iraqi desert Thursday and cruise missiles pounded the heart of Baghdad. (New York Times)
  • Kirkuk Oil Fields May Have Been Secured
    "The oil fields of Kirkuk which are the busiest in Iraq may have been already secured by American special forces," BBC correspondent John Simpson reported on Friday from the region's front line. (Reuters)
        U.S. tanks and APCs have traveled 150 km inside Iraq. In the south, British and American forces are approaching Basra. (Yediot Ahronot)
        15 oil wells have been set aflame in southern Iraq. (Maariv)
        See also Iraq Attacked from Land, Sea and Air (London Times)
  • Senate, House Vote Support for Bush on Iraq
    The Senate voted 99 to 0 Thursday for a resolution that "commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the President, as Commander in Chief, in the conflict against Iraq." The resolution also expressed "sincere gratitude to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government for their courageous support." The House voted 392 to 11 to approve a resolution expressing even stronger praise for Bush. (Washington Post)
  • Saudis Raking In Oil Money
    Elevated oil prices and expanded production as a result of the Iraqi conflict are already pouring as much as a billion extra dollars a week into Saudi Arabia's coffers and could double the government's oil revenues this year. "They're raking it in," said a Western oil executive in Riyadh, the kingdom's capital. And this in a country that is deeply opposed to the war that is responsible for its windfall. (New York Times)
  • Turkey Lets U.S. Use Airspace
    Turkey's parliament voted Thursday to let the U.S. military use Turkish airspace in the war against Iraq. It also authorized the deployment of Turkish troops into Iraqi territory. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said any deployment would be limited, temporary, and pose no threat to the Iraqi Kurds. Several thousand Turkish troops are already based in northern Iraq with the approval of the Iraqi Kurds. (Washington Post )
  • Ex-Enemy Helping U.S. Fight in Iraq
    The Americans have spent the past six weeks quickly and quietly transforming an abandoned Bulgarian summer camp into a base for hundreds of soldiers, and a neighboring airport into a launch pad for refuelling flights. Americans have never before operated in Bulgaria, which was a rigidly Communist country until 1990. In the U.S.'s newest and most unlikely military outpost, soldiers erected tent cities, installed generators and plumbing, prepared dossiers of top-secret battle plans, and tested communication links with command centers in Germany and Florida. A neighboring air-refuelling base is located a few hundred kilometers up the coast in Romania. It was not supposed to be this way. The U.S. planned to use Turkey as the supply base for its air war. (Toronto Globe and Mail)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Despite Missiles on Kuwait, Israel Believes Threat Remains Low - Amos Harel
    The missiles Iraq fired against Kuwait on Thursday were not long-range Scuds as initially reported on the international media, but "Frogs," with a range of not more than 70 kilometers. IDF sources stress that the chances that the country will come under direct attack from Iraq remain very limited, especially because the assessment is that Saddam Hussein is not interested in exposing whatever supply of Scuds or non-conventional weapons he may have. In Israel it is believed that allied forces were operating in the western Iraqi desert, the area most sensitive in terms of Scud missile launches from an Israeli perspective, even before the initial air strikes began.
        The IDF says that Iraqi air force activity has not stopped. Nonetheless, a senior officer in the IAF said that "the flight of an Iraqi aircraft to Israel is a difficult, if not impossible mission. They must pass through a number of defensive rings and the most difficult is the final one, ours. I feel very comfortable with the defense we can present," he added. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel: Saddam Has Not Deployed Missiles in W. Iraq
    Israeli intelligence officials said on Thursday they have seen no evidence that Saddam Hussein has managed to bring Al Hussein launchers into the H-2 and H-3 areas of western Iraq that were used as launching pads for missile attacks against Israel in the 1991 Gulf war. Saddam's forces have transported missiles in trucks to areas west of Baghdad, officials said. But an official said, "The missile movements seemed to be a question of concealment and deception rather than any true military redeployment." (Middle East Newsline)
  • EU Freezes Funds to Palestinian Rights Group
    The European Union and five European national aid agencies this week froze contributions to LAW, a leading Palestinian human-rights organization, after independent auditors reportedly found "considerable mismanagement" of funds. Khader Shkeirat, LAW's founding director, resigned last September when the Europeans launched an investigation into the handling of $1.5 million of aid money between 1997 and 2002. Under Mr. Shkeirat, LAW played a leading part in criticism of Israel at the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban. (London Jewish Chronicle)
  • Japan Pledges Compensation for Jordan's Oil Losses - Dina Al Wakeel
    Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Thursday in Amman that his government is considering compensating Jordan's eventual losses from the disruption in the flow of Iraqi oil. "The Japanese government understands Jordan's situation and its reliance on Iraq for 100% of its oil supplies," said a source at the Japanese embassy in Amman. Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday his government supports President Bush's ultimatum to Iraq due to what was seen as insufficient Iraqi cooperation with UN arms inspectors as well as continuing suspicions that the nation still has weapons of mass destruction. (Jordan Times)
  • PA Forces Kill Hamas Militant in Shootout
    A Hamas member was killed and two were wounded near Jabaliya in northern Gaza Thursday in a shootout with Palestinian security forces trying to break up an outdoor training session on how to fire Qassam rockets at Israel. Several hours later, a Qassam rocket was fired toward an Israeli settlement in Gaza. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • Muslims Behind Most Attacks against Jews in 2002
    According to the Foreign Ministry's annual report on incidents of anti-Semitism across the world, most of the reported attacks on Jews and Jewish interests last year were carried out by Islamic elements. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Saddam's Caution - Ze'ev Schiff
    As long as Saddam Hussein still believes that international public opinion will come to his aid against the U.S. offensive, he will avoid using nonconventional weapons or Scud missiles against Israel and Kuwait, weapons banned by the UN Security Council. U.S. ground forces may soon complete the occupation of the Western Desert, which will diminish the threat to Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Saddam's Casualty Strategy - Editorial
    The great paradox of the escalating Iraq War is that the attacking allies want fewer Iraqi casualties than does Saddam Hussein. His only hope is to delay the outcome as long as possible, while imposing as many casualties both on Americans and in particular on Iraqis. If he can show off enough destruction and carnage long enough for the TV cameras, perhaps he can induce world and especially American opinion to cause President Bush to halt the war. This is how he survived the first Gulf conflict. We were especially glad to hear President Bush say on Wednesday night, "I assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures and we will accept no outcome but victory." The faster Saddam is defeated, the sooner Iraqis will stop being his victims. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Keep One Eye on the Saudis - Editorial
    By allowing the U.S. to fly aircraft over their long border with Iraq and use a key command facility near Riyadh, the Saudi royal leaders have made the war much easier for the American military. Their move is a signal that they want Saddam Hussein out. If the U.S. does set up a friendly government in Baghdad, it will end the Saudi need to have U.S. forces on its territory as defense against a threatening Iraq. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Operation Scare and Divide - Fred Barnes
    In the first 24 hours of war with Iraq, the twin economic scare scenarios didn't occur. One projected event was a surge in oil prices. Instead they plummeted. The other speculated that war with Iraq might prompt pandemonium in the financial markets. On the contrary, the run-up to the war, and now the war itself, have been accompanied by a strong stock market surge. Also, predictions that the "Arab street" would erupt across the Middle East with riots and violent protests against America proved false. Finally, the U.S. showed that it can fight Iraq and terrorists at the same time, with American troops beginning a major operation in Afghanistan to rout the remaining elements of al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, just as bombs were dropping in Iraq. (Weekly Standard)
  • No Particular Concern - Editorial
    The law is clear: The president "shall designate each country" that "has engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom" as "a country of particular concern for religious freedom." Yet, somehow, when the State Department this month issued its list of "countries of particular concern" - a list that included China, Iran, Iraq, Burma, North Korea, and Sudan - Saudi Arabia was left off, as it had been in previous years. Leaving Saudi Arabia off the list is a particular affront to fact and logic. (Washington Post)
  • Things to Watch For in the War - Trudy Rubin
    Watch to see whether Turkish troops who aren't under U.S. command pour over the border into northern Iraq, in an effort to repress Kurdish separatism that might inspire their own Kurds. Pay attention to whether U.S. troops occupy Kirkuk and Mosul quickly and take the oil fields nearby. You can breathe a sign of relief once there is confirmation that U.S. forces have destroyed Iraqi artillery that may launch shells filled with poison gas. If no missiles are fired in early days at Israel, you can be pretty certain that U.S. and British special forces combing Iraq's western desert for launchers have eliminated the threat that chemical weapons can hit the Jewish state. Focus on Baghdad: If bombing cuts Saddam's communications, and the rest of his country falls, someone may finally fire that silver bullet. (Toronto Star)
  • Laundering Abu Mazen - Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
    Abu Mazen has been tapped by Arafat to be prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Merely the fact that he has been selected by arch-terrorist Arafat to take on the mantle of authority should already give pause to those committed to fighting terrorism. In fact, anyone involved with the corrupt, duplicitous terrorist organization called the PLO - Abu Mazen is the head of its executive committee - should by now be considered unfit to lead anything but a prison work-detail. Abu Mazen is also a Holocaust revisionist, a conspiracy theorist, and a promoter of terrorism. In an interview with the London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat, on March 3, 2003, Abu Mazen said: "We did not say that we are giving up the armed struggle....The Intifada must continue." In 1983, he wrote The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement, wherein he suggested that the figure of six million Jews murdered by the Nazis was a false one. (National Review)
  • Meanwhile, in Teheran - Amir Taheri
    Iran's decision-making elite, consisting of some 100 mullahs and their non-clerical proteges, is divided into two camps with regard to Iraq. One camp, led by former prime minister Mir-Hussein Mussavi, with President Muhammad Khatami as figurehead, argues that Iran's best interest lies in a partnership with the U.S. in toppling the Iraqi regime. However, the faction led by former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Council, the Islamic Republic's highest decision-making organ, subscribes to the position spelled out by former foreign minister Ali-Akbar Velayati: "The American Great Satan will never accept an Islamic system. It is coming to Iraq to complete its encirclement of our Islamic Republic before it moves against us. To help the Americans conquer Iraq easily would be suicidal for our revolution." (Jerusalem Post)
  • The New Anti-Semitism - Melanie Phillips
    The new anti-Semitism does not discriminate against Jews as individuals on account of their race. Instead, it is centered on Israel, and the denial to the Jewish people alone of the right of self-determination. This is nothing to do with the settlements or the West Bank. Indeed, the language being used exposes as a cruel delusion the common belief that the Middle East crisis would be solved by the creation of a Palestinian state. The key motif is a kind of Holocaust inversion, with the Israelis being demonized as Nazis and the Palestinians being regarded as the new Jews. Israel and the Jews are being systematically delegitimized and dehumanized - a necessary prelude to their destruction. (Spectator-UK)

    Weekend Features:

  • Israel Hunkers Down for Gulf War II - Neal Sandler
    Ordinary Israelis are fairly calm about the prospect of an attack. They're more worried that the war could spark an increase in terrorist incidents in Israel. They're also concerned about the conflict's likely fallout on their troubled economy. Even without the war, Israel is already deep into its worst recession in history. The economy is expected to shrink for the third consecutive year in 2003 and unemployment has climbed to more than 10%. A report by Business Data Israel (BDI), a Tel Aviv-based forecasting outfit, estimates that the war in Iraq could cost the economy $1 billion, or nearly 1% of GDP. With the economy reeling, Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled an emergency economic program on Mar. 17. The plan includes $2.2 billion in budget cuts, firing thousands of government workers, and an average 8% wage cut for the rest. Netanyahu also promised to embark on a massive sell-off of state-owned companies such as El Al, Bezeq Telecommunications, Oil Refineries Ltd., and Israel Electric. If Israel has been hurting, the Palestinians are in even worse shape. (Business Week)
  • Jenin to Baghdad - Yigal Henkin
    As American forces prepare to enter Iraq, U.S. military planners would be wise to learn the lessons of the battle of Jenin. Political scientist Michael Desch called urban battles "the great equalizer." Urban warfare necessitates intense fighting at close range, neutralizing the attacking forces' greater numbers and technological superiority.
        In Jenin, 23 Israeli soldiers were killed alongside 52 Palestinians (Israelis believe all but seven were combatants). Israeli military strategists knew the battleground was heavily boobytrapped and that its houses were hiding enemy snipers. Initial battle plans called for using combat bulldozers to clear the area. Nonetheless, Israelis refrained from operating bulldozers and tanks in Jenin to try to prevent extensive destruction and to avoid collateral damage and bad publicity. It was only after 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in a single ambush that the Israelis changed tactics and put bulldozers into massive use. Had the IDF gone in, full force, from the beginning, as initially planned, the fight might have ended more quickly and there likely would have been fewer casualties on both sides. In Baghdad, American forces will likely face a similar moral dilemma. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    End Saddam's War Against the Iraqi People
    - U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (Newsweek in Arabic)

    • I don't think many people really appreciate what a horrible regime this is. We met last week at the White House with a group of Iraqi-Americans. One of them said that there's a war going on right now against the Iraqi people by the regime. And if it comes to the use of force against Saddam Hussein, it will be a war for the Iraqi people, not against the Iraqi people. It will be a war to end Saddam's war against the Iraqi people.
    • (Newsweek): What is your response to critics who question the administration's commitment to an Arab-Israeli peace settlement? Are people right to be skeptical?
      Absolutely not. The president was very, very clear when he spoke last summer about the vision of Israel and the Palestinian state living side by side in peace. Clearly the appointment of a moderate Palestinian as prime minister gave us a [new] opportunity to discuss the peace. I think it's important to tell the world - especially the Arab world - that we're not dealing with Saddam Hussein in order to ignore the Arab-Israeli problem. We're concerned about both.
    • It is fact that Saddam Hussein has been one of the leading opponents of peace between Arabs and Israelis for more than two decades. It's not an accident that he was the man who organized the Baghdad summit of the Arab League that expelled Egypt for making peace with Israel [in the late '70s.] And it's not an accident that one of the most significant breakthroughs in the peace process took place in the Madrid Conference in the wake of his resounding defeat in the Gulf War. He's a man who advertises rewards for suicide bombers, and his removal will certainly contribute to a better atmosphere for progress on the Arab-Israeli issue.
    • But believe me, this president, this administration, understands how important it is for American interests throughout the Muslim world, including in our fight against terrorism, to do something to bring about an end to the horrible violence that we see almost daily.


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