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Is the CIA Protecting the Saudis? - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
The CIA is demanding that former agent Robert Baer
remove passages from his upcoming book, entitled Sleeping with The Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, that claims that high ranking members of the Saudi royal family have been involved in political assassination plots and the training of Chechen rebels with apparent ties to al Qaeda.
The move threatens to open up yet another front in the ongoing debate over whether the CIA and its political masters in the Bush administration are being overly protective of Saudi Arabia in the war on terror.
The CIA is currently fighting a similar battle with the Congress, refusing to declassify major portions of an 800 page report by the House and Senate intelligence committees that contains evidence of possible Saudi government connections to some of the 9/11 hijackers.
Saudi Daily Accuses the U.S. of State Terrorism (MEMRI)
Dr. Ayman Habid, writing in the Saudi daily Okaz on May 27, 2003, said: "Terrorism remains an American product. Were it not for the blood spilled as a direct result of terrorist acts committed by the United States all over the world, American blood as well as much innocent blood in many places would have been spared."
"Senior Iraqi Officer" Was WMD Source - James Blitz and Mark Huband (Financial Times-UK)
A senior Iraqi officer on active service within the country's military provided British intelligence last August with the information that Iraq could fire chemical or biological warheads within 45 minutes of Saddam Hussein giving the order, according to senior Whitehall officials.
There had been assertions that intelligence about the Iraqi capability had come via the U.S. from an "unreliable" source, an Iraqi defector with contacts with the Iraqi opposition movement.
Prime Minister Blair remained confident that chemical and biological weapons would be found in Iraq, saying that the Iraq Survey Group - made up of 1,400 UK, U.S., and Australian officials - were only now starting their work.
New Mideast Point Man is Facilitator, Not Negotiator - James D. Besser (New York Jewish Week)
The administration's choice as its road map point man, career diplomat John Wolf, has limited Mideast experience, and his selection reflects a White House decision to move cautiously and incrementally.
Wolf, who is Jewish, is a 23-year State Department veteran who has been posted in Australia, Vietnam, Greece, and Pakistan.
Already, close to 10 CIA officials are on the ground and Wolf is expected to oversee their efforts to make sure both parties comply with the steps outlined in the road map.
Al Qaeda is Lurking in Lebanon - Jonathan Schanzer (National Review)
Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon announced on Sunday that Lebanese authorities will not enter a Palestinian refugee camp where al Qaeda operatives are known to be.
Asbat al-Ansar (League of Partisans) was tied to a foiled assassination plot against the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon in January and successful attacks against U.S. business interests, but appears to have fallen off the radar screen of the U.S. government, even though it was among the first eleven international terror groups listed in President Bush's executive order of September 23, 2001.
Conscript Cameramen Israel's Eye on Conflict - Dan Williams (Reuters)
Getting the shot while not getting shot is a daily concern for Erez Galonska.
"My camera can be cumbersome, so I keep my M-16 strapped up front and ready to fire one-handed," said Galonska, a 21-year-old sergeant with the Israeli Military Spokesman's Film Unit.
Anti-Semitism: The Pipeline of Hatred
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Bush "Cautiously Optimistic" for Mideast Peace Plan
Flying to Qatar to visit U.S. troops, a relaxed Bush talked for nearly an hour about his meeting Tuesday in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, with Arab leaders and his followup summit Wednesday in Aqaba, Jordan, with Sharon and Abbas.
"I've spent enough time with Ariel Sharon to know when he says something he means it," Bush said. "I'm getting the same sense about Prime Minister Abbas." Bush said his own role would be "to keep the process moving." He promised Sharon and Abbas that he would "ride herd" on what happened, but wasn't sure they understood the expression. As for prospects for peace, Bush said: "I'm cautious because history tells you to be cautious....There are people who have openly declared their hostility to Israel and their desire to destroy Israeli citizens. There are people who would rather have chaos than a state." (AP)
Sharon and Abbas Vow Moves to End Violence
At the Aqaba summit, Abbas promised to end terrorism and the armed uprising against Israel. Sharon said Israel would ease controls on Palestinian areas, dismantle certain Jewish settlement outposts, and negotiate in good faith toward creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The Israeli side had wanted an explicit pledge to disarm terrorist groups and prosecute their members. "We're not going to get anywhere unless the first steps are to dismantle the terrorists' groups," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Sharon. (Washington Post)
See also Carefully Crafted Remarks Avoid Political Land Mines (Washington Post)
Text of Comments by Bush, Mideast Leaders at Aqaba Summit (AP/Washington Post)
Two Arab Immigrants Convicted in Detroit "Sleeper Cell" Case
A federal court jury in Detroit convicted two North African immigrants on terrorism and conspiracy charges Tuesday in the first major criminal trial stemming from the investigations after Sept. 11. Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, 37, and Karim Koubriti, 24, were convicted of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to terrorists, and of conspiring to engage in fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other identification documents.
Richard Convertino, one of the assistant federal prosecutors who tried the case, said, "This is not a case about young Arab males coming to the U.S. to live the American dream....This is a case about dedication, deceit, and deception." (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
Nabil Sha'ath's No. 2, Deputy Foreign Minister Adli Sadeq, Attacks President Bush as "the Head of the Snake"
In his column in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, PA Deputy Foreign Minister Adli Sadeq strongly criticized U.S. President George Bush: "The Arab-American summit is convening today with the participation of the head of the snake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the head of the snake of the American oppression against both the Palestinians and the Arabs. It could be that the arrival of the head of the snake will become an additional opportunity for the [representatives] of the Arab regimes who are present [at the summit] to realize that appeasing the U.S. and acquiescing to it will not benefit them or their peoples." (MEMRI)
Hamas, Islamic Jihad Reject Cease-Fire Call - Lamia Lahoud
Palestinian terrorist groups vowed on Wednesday they would not disarm, defying an appeal by PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at the Aqaba summit. "We will never be ready to lay down arms until the liberation of the last centimeter of the land of Palestine," senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz Rantisi told Reuters. (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Says "No Right of Return"
Political figures report that in closed meetings with American ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer, and with American emissaries to the region Elliot Abrams and Bill Barnes, the three reiterated that the U.S. had clarified to the Arab world that there is no "right of return" and that the American position on the matter is clear. (Maariv)
See also National Security Advisor Rice: Right of Return Still on Negotiating Agenda
Q: The president said that Israel had the right to exist as a Jewish state. Does this mean he is opposed to any Palestinian right of return?
Rice: Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state has been said a number of times by Secretary Powell and the president. Obviously that is the foundation of Israel. Nonetheless, there are important issues that have to be resolved about right of return, about the status of Jerusalem, about the final borders. (ABC News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis
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After the Aqaba Summit:
Time to Answer Call of Peace - Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom
Israel has no desire to control the lives of the Palestinian population - it is not good for us, and it is certainly not good for them.
Regrettably, the continued Palestinian demand that Israel accept the "right" of descendants of Palestinian refugees to "return" to settle within Israeli territory is hardly a sign of peace and goodwill. Such a demand is tantamount to a call for the demographic destruction of the State of Israel. The success of the road map is dependent upon whether the Palestinian leadership is ready to turn over a new leaf, and finally renounce terrorism and recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Netanyahu: "We've Been Down This Road Before"
"Until the Palestinians teach their children to accept Israel; until they actually go out and arrest, and even fight terrorists; and until they drop the right of return, this will remain a 'flowery path' and we've been down this path before," Finance Minister and former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told CNN Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
New PA Leadership? - Aaron Mannes
Abu Mazen was an attractive alternative to Arafat because of his long commitment to pursuing negotiations with Israel,
but there is a catch. Abu Mazen does not actually differ from Arafat on any major position. Abu Mazen insists on the right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel which would swamp Israel demographically, and Israel's complete withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders.
He denies that there was ever a Jewish Temple at the Temple Mount, the holiest site of the Jewish people, although he states that he would guarantee the right of Jews to pray there. Most tellingly, Abu Mazen lauded Arafat's rejection of prime minister Ehud Barak's August 2000 offer at Camp David (considered by most Israelis to be the absolute limit of Israeli concessions), saying it "was a trap by all standards and we managed to get out of it." (Jerusalem Post)
Bush's Bold Venture - Brent Scowcroft
The unique - and almost certainly vital - element in the road map is its requirement for parallel rather than sequential actions by Israelis and Palestinians. The insistence in prior proposals that a prerequisite to negotiations must be a cessation of violence from the Palestinian side has been a virtual guarantee that there would, in fact, be no negotiations. Violence cannot be completely stifled and to require its total cessation as a precondition is simply to put control of the process in the hands of the radicals opposed to any settlement. (Baltimore Sun)
Push for Peace Poses Domestic Political Risk for Bush - Ronald Brownstein
President Bush's intensified drive for peace in the Middle East could expose him to political risks at home, analysts say.
Bush's meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers Wednesday culminated a stunning shift that has seen the president both escalate his personal involvement in negotiations and exert more pressure on Israel than at any point in his term.
While polls show that most Americans support that approach, Bush's push for concessions from Israel as part of the peace process raises red flags among pro-Israel evangelical Christians - a core element of his political coalition - and conservative Jews who have liked the president's staunch support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Significant portions of both the Christian base that Bush already has and Jewish voters that he hoped to get are increasingly concerned," said Gary Bauer, a leader among conservative Christians. Yet Bush's drive to advance the "road map" is receiving positive marks from more liberal Jewish leaders who in the past have criticized him. (Los Angeles Times)
Towards Aqaba: Challenges Facing Israel after the Iraq War - Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland
I told General Zinni on the night of the Passover bombing in Netanya that if there was no change in the Palestinian leadership, it was useless to continue with our efforts to resume Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation.
If the Palestinian Authority wants to be a legitimate and reliable political entity, there is only one option: to dismantle the military capability of the Popular Front, Tanzim, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and many others. Israel will not repeat the mistakes made in the past when we were too forgiving regarding this crucial point.
Some people make a naive distinction between the political leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their military wings. This is a mistake. After a young Palestinian visits some very innocent cultural center or mosque, financed and managed by Hamas, he is sent to the military wing, which gets someone who already has all the necessary education and motivation. This entire chain of production of terrorists must be either dismantled or at least significantly transformed. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
An Eastern Mediterranean Treaty Organization - Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan
I have called on various occasions for a Middle Eastern code of conduct, a "partnership of peace" or an Eastern Mediterranean Treaty Organization. A break-down of the relevant agenda would include: The need for a WMD-free zone; a clear definition of terror (both state and non-state); concrete steps, adequately funded, to redress both manifestations and causes of terror; a humanitarian Marshall Plan; transparency guaranteed by government with a focus on poverty alleviation - to move our policies from "refugee mode," as it were; education, encompassing two themes: balanced and representative material for media broadcast, and an organization such as a Center of Mediterranean Humanities to educate for shared values; interactive citizens' media - whereby we are not talked down to by the elites but can promote our own dialogue, whether through formal or further education; transnational thinking on a Community of Energy and Water, recognizing that state frontiers do not limit a region's potential. (Toronto Globe & Mail)
Lessons of the Iraq War - Victor Davis Hanson
Why did the Iraqis fold so abruptly? The answer is at least partly generic, having to do with the Arab way of war in general. In Arabs at War, Kenneth M. Pollack analyzes the wider military culture that has brought defeat after defeat to modern Arab armies.
Conscript soldiers are poorly paid, housed, and trained. Tribalism, not merit, is more likely to govern the promotion of officers. Most commanders have little knowledge of flexible tactical doctrine. Instead, outdated Soviet ideas still infect the thinking of the few generals who have studied military theory. Weapons are often poorly maintained. As American soldiers reported, Iraqi artillery was inaccurate and slow-firing, small-arms fire was poorly directed, and armored vehicles and tanks were in obviously inferior condition.
Pressuring Israel to "take risks for peace" has long been seen by our State Department as a means of assuaging Arab humiliation after military defeat - almost as if the amazing military prowess of Western armies required some kind of psychological compensation in the form of political concessions. (Commentary)
Because We Could - Thomas L. Friedman
After 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. A terrorism bubble had built up over there - a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. There was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die. The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world. (New York Times)
Treason of the Arab Intellectuals - Sever Plocker
Those who stubbornly reject any compromise with Israel are the intellectual
elites of the Arab world. Widely held among these elites, and through them
among significant sectors of Arab public opinion, is the discredited notion
that the Jews are not a nation, but only a religion, and they have no need for a sovereign state of their own. This is
accompanied by categorical denial of any historical connection of the Jews
with the Land of Israel.
The overwhelming majority of Arab
intellectuals have even refused to internalize the fact that Zionism was and still is
the Jewish people's national liberation movement. As long as the idea of reconciliation with Israel
does not sink into Arab consciousness as a natural and desirable choice of
the Arabs themselves, rather than as something imposed on them by the U.S.
under pressure of the Jewish lobby, the
prospects of peace are very slim. (Yediot Ahronot/IMRA)
Genocidal Bombers - Martin Peretz
This formulation "suicide bombers" is ready-made for the New York Times and National Public Radio and the BBC because it treats the deaths of the perpetrators as more important than the deaths of their victims. Well, here's a better nomenclature for these mass exterminators: genocidal bombers. After all, those who carry out these exploits do not disguise their intention: It is not just to kill Israelis, which would make it genocidal enough; it is to kill Jews and as many as possible. (JewishWorldReview)
Abu Mazen Charges that the Arab States Are the Cause of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (Wall Street Journal; June 5, 2003)
- Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) penned an article in March 1976 in Falastin al-Thawra, the official journal of the PLO in Beirut: "The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny, but instead they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe" (emphasis added).
- As Abu Mazen alluded, it was in large part due to threats and fear-mongering from Arab leaders that some 700,000 Arabs fled Israel in 1948 when the new state was invaded by Arab armies. Ever since, the growing refugee population, now around 4 million by UN estimates, has been corralled into squalid camps scattered across the Middle East - in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank.
- In 1950, the UN set up the United Nations Relief and Works Agency as a "temporary" relief effort for Palestinian refugees. Former UNRWA director Ralph Galloway stated eight years later that, "the Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders do not give a damn whether Arab refugees live or die." The only thing that has changed since then is the number of Palestinians cooped up in these prisons.
- Sending three to five million Palestinians into Israel, a country of 6.5 million (which is already host to 1.2 million Arabs) could change Israel into a predominantly Palestinian state and the PA knows it. Today the UN spends more than a quarter billion dollars a year to keep Palestinian refugees in their camps, which are often the factories of desperation that produce suicide bombers.
- Israel has repeatedly offered to help smooth the settlement of the refugees elsewhere, but Arab states refuse, preferring to use the refugees as political pawns to perpetuate the conflict with Israel and divert public consciousness away from festering domestic problems.
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