Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

August 12, 2004

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Tests Shihab-3 Missile that Puts Israel within Range - Yoav Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Iran Wednesday said it has successfully field tested the Shihab-3 ballistic missile, which defense experts say can reach Israel.
    The Shihab-3 is based on the North Korean Nodong-1 missile, modified with Russian technology.
    The 16-meter-long missile is thought to have a range of 1,300 km, which would allow it to strike Israel.
    One of its modifications is that its one-ton warhead splits, which makes it difficult to bring down.

    See also Shihab-3 Improving Slowly But Steadily - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    The Arrow missile, recently tested successfully in the U.S. against a Scud missile, is capable of intercepting the Shihab-3.
    It is known that the Iranians are continuing to develop their more advanced missile, the Shihab-4, with a range that will reach all of Europe.


Mosque Leader Arrested on Drug Charges - Matt O'Connor (Chicago Tribune)
    Tariq Isa, 55, a Palestinian-American, was arrested last week as he arrived on a flight from the Mideast, charged with distributing 1.73 million tablets of pseudoephedrine, a chemical essential to manufacturing the illegal stimulant methamphetamine.
    Isa is the third leader of Chicago's Mosque of the Martyr Izzedine Al-Qassam to be criminally charged since last year.
    Ghassan Zayed Ballut and Hatem Fariz were indicted in Florida in 2003 for the alleged financing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group that has taken responsibility for suicide bombings that have killed scores of people in Israel.
    In court Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Atty. Lisa Noller identified Isa, Ballut, and Fariz as the only three to hold signatory authority over the mosque's bank account.
    In seeking Isa's detention, Noller also said Isa has been photographed with Ramadan Shallah, the worldwide head of Islamic Jihad.


Stolen Egyptian Explosives Could be Headed for Gaza (Middle East Newsline)
    Egyptian security sources confirmed that a large amount of explosives was stolen from a warehouse of an oil company in the Western Desert near the Mediterranean coast.
    Authorities are concerned that some of the explosives could be headed for the Gaza Strip or could be used for an al-Qaeda attack in Egypt or elsewhere in North Africa.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Renews Offensive Against Sadr's Insurgent Militia in Iraq
    Intense fighting was underway in Najaf Thursday in what appeared to be the beginning of a major offensive by U.S. forces designed to crush the insurgent militia of cleric Moqtada Sadr. (Washington Post)
        See also Fight Won't End Until Cleric is Defeated, Military Says
    This time, military officials say, they will not negotiate and will not stop applying pressure until they "defeat and destroy" Sadr's Al Mahdi militia. This time, an interim Iraqi government is in place that is backing the fight against Sadr and a more capable Iraqi national guard is helping in the battle. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Hatred Fuels Iraqi Insurgents
    While its lack of training makes the Mahdi army easier to tackle than the more disciplined insurgents in the Sunni Triangle, the Shia fighters seem so consumed with passion for their cause that they appear undeterred by huge casualties. A message of hatred is preached by men such as Hassan Naji al-Mousawi, a leading Sadr aide, who says, "The Americans are Jews - that is why they have no right to be in this country." (Telegraph-UK)
  • UN Brands PA Security Reform "Cosmetic"
    UN Undersecretary General Kieran Prendergast said Wednesday that implementation of security reforms by the Palestinian Authority as demanded by the international community "continues to be slow, and mostly cosmetic." "This cannot be explained other than by a lack of political will to advance along that road," he said. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • EU May Vote for Israel Sanctions - Herb Keinon
    The EU is likely to support a UN General Assembly resolution calling for sanctions against Israel over the security fence if there is not a dramatic change in the diplomatic situation before mid-September, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said Wednesday. Israel expects the Palestinians to present another resolution to the General Assembly in September, and then to present a resolution calling for sanctions to the Security Council, where the U.S. will use its veto. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Six Border Policemen Hurt in Bombing Near Jerusalem - Arnon Regular, Amos Harel, and Jonathan Lis
    Two Palestinian bystanders were killed and 18 people were wounded, including six border policemen - three seriously - in an explosion Wednesday at a checkpoint at the northern entrance to Jerusalem. Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, assumed responsibility. The terrorist detonated the bomb from a distance by dialing a cellular phone attached to it. (Ha'aretz)
  • 90 Suicide Bombings Thwarted Since January
    Security officials said that more that 90 attempts to carry out suicide bombings against Israeli targets have been thwarted since the beginning of the year, Israel Radio reported. The nerve center of Palestinian terrorism remains Nablus. In addition, over 2 tons of explosive material, bullets, mortars, and other weaponry has been smuggled into Palestinian territories through Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Middle East Peace? It's the Economy, Stupid - Daniel Doron
    An obsession with peace processes will not only fail to deliver peace, but may actually undermine the Israeli economy. That in turn would also spell trouble for the Palestinians, who still lack any prospect for economic advancement without an economic partnership with Israel. While the Palestinian standard of living quadrupled in the 37 years since Israel entered the West Bank and Gaza, the partial economic separation from Israel that Arafat's war forced on the Palestinians resulted in a big drop in their standard of living, massive unemployment, and excruciating poverty.
        Prosperity is a precondition for the emergence of a civil class in Palestine that - unlike Arafat and his corrupt "Authority" - will have a real commitment to peace. A "peace process" that will set the Israeli economy back will seriously damage the prospects for true reconciliation. The writer is director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress. (Wall Street Journal, 11 Aug 04)
  • Only Sympathy Remains - Riad Kahwaji
    The 9/11 terrorist attacks have seriously damaged the Palestinian cause, with the U.S. administration equating the Palestinian resistance to al-Qaeda and branding almost all armed Palestinian factions as terrorist groups. Following 9/11, many Palestinian charity groups were closed down because of links with Palestinian factions; state-backed Arab satellite television stations stopped their regular telethons to raise funds to support the intifada; and the enthusiasm of the Arab League to establish funds to help families of Palestinian martyrs came to an end. There are no more banquets at luxury Arab hotels to raise money for the Palestinian cause. The writer heads the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) in Dubai. (bitterlemons-international.org)
  • Reform in Egypt Awaits Mubarak's Departure - Neil MacFarquhar
    Political change in the Middle East might have better prospects of gaining traction in Egypt than say, Iraq, regional analysts believe, because the necessary institutions have long existed, albeit now in anemic form. Yet any political reform will almost certainly be confined to the margins as long as Mubarak - who has clung to the job for 23 years and shows no signs of bowing out gracefully - remains president. (New York Times)
  • Syria's Cruel Intentions - Farid N. Ghadry
    On Aug. 2, the Pentagon moved U.S. troops to the Syrian border to intercept an ongoing threat to the stability of Iraq from insurgents funded by loyalists to Saddam Hussein in Syria. Syria boasts an army of 400,000 soldiers, yet most Syrian soldiers are deployed protecting sensitive infrastructures essential to sustaining the rule of the Assad clan. U.S. armed forces stationed less than a two-hour drive from Damascus will create the impetus to help the moderate majority Sunni in the country to take control. The writer is president of the Reform Party of Syria. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    The Dog Days of Arafat - Jim Hoagland (Wall Street Journal, 12 Aug 04)

    • Arafat has found irrelevance in Ramallah. Younger Palestinians herald his slow fade by conducting an open power struggle in the Gaza Strip and by chipping away at the disappearing facade of Arafat's control on the imploding West Bank.
    • American and European officials visiting the region shun meeting him, secure in the knowledge that they risk no serious criticism at home for not "engaging" with the man largely held responsible in international opinion for the failure of the Camp David peace conference of 2000 and the Palestinian uprising that erupted shortly afterward.
    • "The paralysis of the Palestinian Authority has become abundantly clear" as "consistent promises by its leadership" to end corruption and violence go unfulfilled and bring "steadily emerging chaos in the Palestinian areas," says UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, a longtime friend of the Palestinians.
    • As Dennis Ross notes in his new book, The Missing Peace, after making a superficial peace with Israel in 1993 and profiteering from it, Arafat set about subverting that arrangement. Ross offers convincing detail of both the terms offered to Arafat at Camp David and afterward, and the Palestinian's refusal to accept those conditions or, Ross concludes, any terms at all.
    • Arafat's failures and betrayal surely justify the Bush administration's refusal to deal with him - an approach I believe Mr. Kerry is likely to continue if elected.


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