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 28, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Does Iraq Have Extended-Range Missiles? (U.S. Central Command)
    At a press briefing Thursday in Qatar, Gen. Vince Brooks said, "We also know that there was some enhancement to the Scud missile system, particularly the al Hussein family. And the reports that we've given you about the potential extended range makes it possible to move it much further east than where the missiles were fired during Desert Storm, much further east, to be able to range a much larger radius of countries."


Israel to Remain on Alert (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Israel would stay on high alert until the "threat of missiles or other attacks was removed completely," said an Israeli government official. "There's still a possibility outside of western Iraq."


Bunkers at Najaf with Hydraulic Triple-Locked Doors - Judith Miller (New York Times)
    The site at Najaf, about 90 miles south of the Iraqi capital, remained suspicious because there were several indications that chemical or germ weapons might have been made or stored there.
    An Iraqi general who was a senior official there told military intelligence analysts that there were special bunkers and underground tunnels in the compound that neither he nor other senior staff were permitted to enter.
    Hydraulic triple-locked doors barred the entrance to some of the more than 100 bunkers in the three-square-mile complex, much of which is protected by an electrical fence and trenches.
    "We have never conducted a systematic hunt for weapons of mass destruction in a combat situation on such a large scale," said one weapons expert who has studied the reports filed by the site survey team working at Najaf. "We're still feeling our way."


Captured Rockets Tested for Chemical Warheads - Brian MacQuarrie (Boston Globe)
    U.S. military officials reported that two Iraqi rockets, seized by American troops Tuesday southeast of Najaf, were suspected of containing chemical munitions.
    The rockets were undergoing testing in a military lab, said Lieutenant Christopher Pike, an intelligence officer with the Third Infantry Division.


Iraqis Use Women as Shields, Give Guns to Children - Keith Garvin (AP/Raleigh News & Observer)
    During house-to-house fighting Wednesday in An Nasiriyah involving the U.S. Marines, some of the Iraqi fighters were using women as shields and had given guns to children.



Israel Thanks Australia (The Age-Australia)
    During a telephone discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom took "the opportunity to express very warm thanks to the Australian government and to the Australian people for the deployment of Australian troops as part of the coalition effort," Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.


Israel to Maintain Support for Birthright Program - Daniel Treiman (Forward)
    The Israeli Cabinet decided Tuesday to propose reductions in Birthright allocations rather than eliminate all funding.


Jewish Actor Portrays Saddam Hussein - Tom Tugend (JTA)
    Jerry Haleva, Hollywood's favorite Saddam Hussein double, is a pro-Israeli activist who serves on the national executive board of AIPAC and chaired the Jewish Federation of Sacramento, Calif.


Inside the IDF's Wartime Broadcast Studio (IDF) (see photos)


Useful Reference:

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Iraq Readying Toxic Arms
    Statements from Iraqi prisoners of war and electronic eavesdropping on Iraqi government communications indicate that Saddam Hussein has moved chemical weapons to the Medina Division, one of three Republican Guard divisions guarding the approaches to Baghdad, Army officials said. They strongly believed he would use the weapons as allied troops moved toward Baghdad to oust him and his government. Intelligence information pointed to Mr. Hussein deploying 155-millimeter artillery weapons with shells carrying mustard gas as well as sarin, or nerve agents, an especially deadly weapon. Mr. Hussein used these chemical agents against the Iranians and the country's Kurdish population in the 1980s.
        Some military officers said Mr. Hussein had, in the last week or so, moved the artillery pieces that could fire chemical weapons into hiding, not only near the Medina Division, south of Baghdad, but in western Iraq. Intelligence officers said that although deployment of such weapons would give the lie to Mr. Hussein's denial that he had them, he might be calculating that the step would stunt the American assault. Officials said well-hidden Iraqi artillery sites about to launch such a weapon could possibly avoid detection. (New York Times)
  • U.S.: Iraq Chemical Suits Reinforce Fears
    Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said Wednesday the discovery of 3,000 chemical suits in a central Iraqi hospital that had been used as an Iraqi base raised concern that Saddam Hussein's regime was prepared to use chemical weapons. The Central Command reported earlier that Marines found and confiscated gas masks and nerve gas antidote injectors in the hospital near An Nasiriyah. (AP/Washington Times)
  • U.S. Gains Ground in Western Iraq
    U.S. Special Operations forces have broken the Iraqi government's control over a broad swath of territory that extends about 200 miles into western Iraq from Jordan, U.S. military officials said Thursday. "I wouldn't say we control all the area, but it is territory that Saddam no longer controls," a senior official said. The area includes several airfields and countless hiding places that U.S. military officials have worried Iraq might use to launch drone aircraft or Scud missiles against Israel, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia. Its control by U.S. forces would provide not only a buffer against potential Iraqi attack but also another avenue of approach to Baghdad. (Washington Post)
        See also Special Forces Fight for Strategic Bases in Western Iraq
    U.S., British, and Australian special operations forces have been battling Iraqi soldiers during the past week in Iraq's western desert, capturing the H3 air base 45 miles east of the Jordanian border. Australia's Defense Ministry spokesman, Brig. Mike Hannan, said his country's special operations forces had killed dozens of Iraqis in the battle for the H3 and H2 air bases. H2 is about 100 miles from the Jordanian border. The London Observer said forces had been dropped into the desert near H3 by helicopter, and were equipped with armored vehicles and desert bikes. (USA Today)
  • Iraqi Irregulars Harass Allied Units
    Marine and other allied units pressing toward Baghdad are encountering nearly constant harassment and ambush by small bands of irregular Iraqi fighters and remnants of army units they bypassed. "We've been contested every inch, every mile on the way up," Col. Ben Saylor, the division's chief of staff, said Thursday. The planned assault on Baghdad was delayed less by the ambushes than by the sandstorm that swept in for several days this week. (New York Times)
        See also A Turkey Shoot with Marines as Targets
    A contingent of about 120 Marines trying to make it to the bridge at Nasiriyah Wednesday came under fire from assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades; about 15 of their Humvees and seven-ton trucks were destroyed, and more than 60 Marines were wounded. (Washington Post)
  • Al-Qaeda Fighting for Saddam
    At least a dozen members of Osama bin Laden's network are in the town of Az Zubayr where they are coordinating grenade and gun attacks on coalition positions, captured Iraqi soldiers have told British interrogators. (Express-UK)
  • FBI Interviews of Iraqis in U.S. Helps War Effort
    FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday that interviews of thousands of Iraqis in the U.S. are yielding information useful to the military campaign in Iraq. In testimony before a House panel, Mueller said Iraqis undergoing voluntary interviews had provided information on a range of issues, including bunker locations, structural details, telecommunications systems, and the names of people who had served in the Iraqi military. FBI agents have now interviewed about 8,000 of the 11,000 Iraqis identified as potential sources of useful information. (CNN)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • After the Bush-Blair Meeting - Aluf Benn
    After the press conference at Camp David by U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the president stood by his promise to Ariel Sharon and rejected the proposal of his British guest to step up the pressure on Israel in an effort to fend off the growing criticism of the war in Iraq. The paragraph on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was pushed to the sidelines, and Bush reiterated, without overt enthusiasm, his commitment to the implementation of the "road map." It seems that Bush made it clear to his guest that he is not pleased with the expression of any doubts regarding his commitment to a solution to the conflict, and that he did not think there was any reason to reimburse the British for their support with Israeli concessions.
        At the Prime Minister's Office they say that Sharon does not oppose the implementation of the road map. On the contrary, he would like to push the diplomatic process when he has a Palestinian partner. The dispute revolves around the wording of the plan. Israel is demanding to present its comments on the road map before the official document is made public. (Ha'aretz)
        See also When Will Abu Mazen Visit Washington? - Uzi Benziman
    Information obtained by Jerusalem says that Abu Mazen is signaling his refusal, at this stage, to receive an invitation to visit Washington. He is evidently seeking to avoid any open contacts with President Bush so as not to be perceived in the Arab world as a collaborator with the administration that has just invaded a large Arab nation and is marching on its capital. (Ha'aretz)
  • Syrian, Palestinian Volunteers Join Saddam - Ze'ev Schiff
    Dozens of volunteers, primarily Palestinians from the refugee camps in Lebanon, have crossed over into Iraq through Syrian-controlled border posts. Syrian military analyst Hitham al-Kilani told Al Jazeera on 24 March, that "the Syrian border was opened to Syrian, Arab, and Muslim volunteers wishing to reach Iraq and participate in the fighting against the American invasion." Syria is the sole country that has opened its border to volunteers seeking to join the Iraqi forces, unlike Iran, Turkey, and Jordan, whose borders remain blocked. It has been reported that there are many volunteers in Jordan who are interested in crossing into Iraq. Hamas has called on all of Iraq's neighbors to open their borders and allow volunteers through. (Ha'aretz)
  • Two PA Policemen Killed in IDF Raid - Arnon Regular and Tsachar Rotem
    Soldiers from the Golani brigade entered the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun early Thursday morning, in an attempt to prevent terror groups from firing Qassam rockets at the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. A gun battle erupted and a helicopter fired two missiles at a Palestinian police post from which shots had been fired at the soldiers, killing two policemen inside, said the commander of the operation, Lt. Col. Nir. Israeli sources said the military moved in after receiving intelligence reports of Palestinian militants planning attacks in the area. The security establishment currently has 57 warnings of terror attacks, the vast majority of which are being planned by Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
  • Foreign Protesters Hide Islamic Jihad Terrorist
    Israeli troops raided the Jenin offices of the International Solidarity Movement on Thursday and seized a senior member of the militant Islamic Jihad group. The IDF said two women with the group, one British and the other Canadian, tried to hide the man, but the group's spokesman, Tom Wallace, said the two group members were not aware of the man's identity. During a search of the four-story building, which also houses offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, international medical group Medicins Sans Frontieres, and the Bank of Palestine, troops found a pistol on the ISM premises. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Poll Finds Growing Palestinian Support for End to Uprising - Khaled Abu Toameh
    According to a poll published Thursday by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, 52% said they would like the intifada to end, compared to 41% in January. Some 43% said they want suicide bombing attacks in Israel to stop, compared to 26% in January. Arafat's popularity increased from 44% in January to 53%. Dr. Nabil Kukali, the center's director, attributed the rise to Arafat's decision to appoint Mahmoud Abbas as PA prime minister, a move many Palestinians regard as a serious step toward implementing reform. Only 32% were in favor of resuming security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while 54% opposed such a move. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Assad: Syria under Threat as Long as Israel Exists - David Rudge
    In an interview with the pro-Syrian As-Safir Lebanese daily, Syrian President Bashar Assad charged that Syria would continue to be under threat as long as Israel existed. He also expressed concern over Syria possibly being America's next target after Iraq. Regarding the Palestinians, Assad said the intifada would continue regardless of any "road map" to peace. In addition, the Mufti of Syria is reportedly calling on Muslims to carry out suicide attacks against American and British forces in Iraq. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Text of Assad Interview (SANA-Syria)
  • War on Iraq Hurts Palestinian Economy
    Muhammad Shtayyeh, director of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR), said there is already a noticeable decline in international aid as many donors have postponed financing projects and others have stopped aid completely. He expects the donor countries to start concentrating on rebuilding Iraq or helping Iraqi refugees rather than helping the Palestinian people. Arab revenues from oil may also drop if the price of oil drops in case the U.S. controls Iraq and its huge oil reserves. (Jerusalem Times/IMRA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Powell Plans Post-Iraq Pressure on Sharon Concerning Road Map - Richard Cohen
    Secretary of State Colin Powell is planning to take the Israelis and the Palestinians and knock their heads together. Only recently has the administration said it is serious about getting - "imposing" is probably the better word - a plan to end the incessant violence between Israelis and Palestinians. I asked Powell who besides him in the administration favored a plan that would mean going to the mat with Sharon. "The president," he responded quickly. "He understands that the whole world is going to be looking to him to do something about the Middle East once Iraq has been dealt with." Before the Israelis and the Palestinians can get their act together, however, the Bush administration will have to do the same. At the moment, the State Department, which used to conduct American foreign policy, has been outgunned by the Pentagon, the National Security Council (now with Elliott Abrams), and Dick Cheney, a vice president with very strong views about the Middle East. (Washington Post)
  • Kofi Annan's Offense - Charles Krauthammer
    Turkey's refusal to let us send the 4th Infantry Division to attack Baghdad from the north has cost us heavily. It has allowed Saddam Hussein to concentrate his defenses to the south and essentially cut in half the size of the heavily mechanized enemy he has to deal with. Even more important, we've been held back by our own scrupulousness. There has never been a conflict in which one belligerent has taken more care not to harm the civilians of the other. And it has already cost us. We know that the "irregulars" - the SS thugs whose profession heretofore had been torture and repression in the service of Hussein's psychopathic son Uday - use human shields, fight in civilian disguise and attack under a fake flag of surrender. Our restraint in choice of targets and in the treatment of those who appear to be civilians and those who appear to have surrendered has cost us not just time and territory but lives. And yet, being who we are, we do not change the rules of engagement.
        Kofi Annan's pronouncement Wednesday that he was "getting increasingly concerned by humanitarian casualties in this conflict" is doubly disgusting because he said nothing about Iraq's use of human shields, of fake surrenders, of placing a tank in a hospital compound - flagrant Iraqi violations of the laws of war. Nor does he denounce the parading of POWs on television and the apparent execution of American and British POWs. (Washington Post)
  • Wahhabism in the War - Stephen Schwartz
    The American Muslim murderer from the 101st Airborne who killed two officers and wounded 15, and a suicide bomber in the Kurdish zone of northern Iraq who killed Australian television journalist Paul Moran, along with at least one other person, and wounded eight, both appear to have been influenced by Saudi extremism. The same day as the atrocity in the U.S. Army camp in Kuwait and the assassination of the Australian journalist, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Wahhabi extremist institution with official Saudi backing, announced it was resuming activities in northern Iraq. WAMY also operates an office in northern Virginia that has been the object of a U.S. investigation of terrorism funding. WAMY is headed by Saudi minister of Islamic affairs Saleh al-Alshaikh. (Weekly Standard)
  • The Philosopher of Islamic Terror - Paul Berman
    The roots of al Qaeda are not in poverty or in anti-Americanism but in Sayyid Qutb's ideas about how Christianity went wrong and how martyrdom could change the world. Qutb, an intellectual hero of Egypt's fundamentalist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, who was hanged in 1966, wrote Milestones, a classic manifesto of the terrorist wing of Islamic fundamentalism. The true confrontation was over Islam, and Christianity and Judaism were inferior to Islam. (New York Times)
  • Hizballah Ponders Iraq - Michael Young
    It is a complicated time for Hizballah. Here is one bitter enemy on the verge of liquidating another. Even the most hardened of U.S. foes can't but celebrate the elimination of the sinister murderer of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr [an Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader murdered by Saddam in 1999]. But they also know that if the Americans have a fairly smooth ride in Iraq, their forces will be stationed on Syria and Iran's borders. Hizballah has hitched its fortunes to a perpetuation of the intifada. If Syria must tone down its support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the coming months, Hizballah may follow suit, at least for a time. The likelihood of an approaching regional settlement through implementation of the Palestinian-Israeli "road map" is nonexistent. (Beirut Daily Star)
  • Saudi Officials Shield U.S. Troop Presence From Public - Carol Morello
    The Saudi monarchy, concerned about a public backlash against the war, is going to great lengths to cloak the degree to which it is cooperating with the U.S. against Iraq. The remote Saudi desert air base where U.S. forces direct the air war against Iraq is not marked on any map and the Saudis have barred reporters from the base. But diplomats in Riyadh say the Saudis have granted the U.S. military permission for everything it needs, if not everything it wants, at Prince Sultan and at two other remote airstrips. (Washington Post)
  • Regime Change Tipsheet - Amir Taheri
    Things that are best avoided: Don't talk of American military rule in Baghdad. Don't let the Turkish army occupy part of northern Iraq under any pretext. Don't let Iran gain a foothold in eastern and southern Iraq, even through surrogate Iraqi forces. Things that must be done: Introduce a special Security Council resolution to endorse the liberation of Iraq. Open Saddam's prisons, torture chambers, and luxury palaces to the media. Publish the records of secret deals with Western and non-Western companies and governments that helped Saddam build his death machine. (National Post-Canada)
  • Will Baghdad Fight to the End? - Mark Bowden
    Saddam has ceded the majority of his country to the rapidly moving American and British forces, but has left pockets of determined loyalists in cities large and small. These troops, many dressed in civilian clothing, will shoot at coalition forces from densely populated areas, daring return fire that might kill the very Iraqis whom President Bush and Prime Minister Blair hope to liberate. Even those Iraqis eager to turn against the regime are still caught between the guns, and won't dare make a move until they are sure one side has the upper hand. (New York Times)

    Weekend Features:

  • Holocaust Survivors Say: Get Saddam - Marcella S. Kreiter
    The Holocaust survivors at the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois - men and women all now in their 70s and 80s - are of one mind when it comes to the U.S.-led war against Iraq: It's something that must be done and done now. (UPI)
  • How the Hunter Killers Destroy Their Prey - Simon Houston
    In the dark of early morning, the shape of the Iraqi T55 - a green blob on the thermal night vision screens - is unmistakable to all 14 tank commanders of C Squadron. (London Times)
  • "Webloggers" Signing On as War Correspondents - Howard Kurtz
    This has become the first true Internet war, with journalists, analysts, soldiers, a British lawmaker, an Iraqi exile, and a Baghdad resident using the medium's lightning speed to cut through the fog of war in Weblogs. (Washington Post )
        See also Best of the Warblogs - Jane Perrone (Guardian-UK)
  • How the Media Warriors Invaded Iraq with Satellite Phones - Rogel Alpher
    The uproar over the army's failure to provide access to critical information during the war in Afghanistan has given rise to the Pentagon's "embedding" program, which allows for the deep integration of members of the media in the combat units. Does this mean the public is getting more reliable information about the big picture of the war, or is the embedding program only helping the Pentagon isolate and control the reporters; to create a battle fog that is saturated with rumors and fabrications as part of a psychological warfare; to divert the public's attention by means of detailed but very partial reports about the fighting at a given moment at a particular square kilometer of the arena; and to buy the collaboration of the broadcast channels in America in not showing graphic images of prisoners of war (since the media and the military are fighting in Iraq "together"). (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Whose War? The Real Architects - Andrew Sullivan (London Times)

    • Whose war is this?
    • It is, first and foremost, the United Nations' war. Without the UN, it would never have happened. Indeed, without the UN, it wouldn't have even been necessary. Without the UN's restrictions on American force twelve years ago, Saddam would not be around today. Any non-UN, American-led coalition with any sense of military opportunity would have finished off the old Stalinist more than a decade ago.
    • In the second place, this is Bill Clinton's war. It came as a result of the final Iraqi-UN impasse in 1998, when the inspections regime collapsed in the face of Saddamite deception and intransigence. In response, President Clinton formally shifted U.S. policy from containment to regime change. Yes, this was Clinton's policy.
    • And yes, this is also the neoconservatives' war. By this I don't mean the alleged cabal of Likudniks infiltrating American foreign policy and directing the might of the superpower to serve the interests of a tiny, oil-free strip of land at the east end of the Mediterranean. By this, I mean simply that this war represents the winning of a long argument among Washington's policy elites about the future of American interests in the Middle East.
    • Two things shifted the balance to the neoconservatives in Washington more than anything else. The first was Yassir Arafat's refusal at Camp David and Taba to accept the sweeping deal Barak offered for West Bank autonomy. Or to be more accurate, it wasn't Arafat's refusal to accept it that turned the tide. It was his refusal to offer any alternative whatsoever, except a return to the Intifada, and this time with suicide bombing as his main negotiating tool. And the second event, of course, was September 11 itself.
    • When George W. Bush looked around him in the ashes of the World Trade Center for an analysis of what had gone wrong and a comprehensive strategy to put it right, the neoconservatives were the only credible advocates who had an actual plan. They weren't a cabal. And they weren't natural Bush allies.


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