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Palestinian Terror Hits 18-Month High, Despite Truce - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
See also Troops Find Tunnel Under Gaza Settlement (Ha'aretz)
Palestinian Police Receive Vehicles from EU (WAFA-PA)
PA Coverage Restriction Ires Journalists - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Property Market in Gaza Booming
- Joshua Mitnick (Washington Times)
Israeli Zoo in Gaza Poised to Evacuate Animals - Jonathan Saul (Reuters)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The Palestinian Authority has commissioned tens of thousands of flags as well as mugs, bumper stickers, and posters with the slogan ''Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem'' - props meant to portray the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as an achievement of the Abbas government. The PA is spending $1.7 million on withdrawal celebrations. Hamas is striking back, preparing for military-style victory parades and sewing thousands of martial uniforms and flags in the group's trademark Islamic green. (AP/New York Times)
A U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources. What is clear is that Iran is acquiring and mastering technologies that could be diverted to bombmaking. A senior intelligence official said, "it is the judgment of the intelligence community that, left to its own devices, Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons." (Washington Post)
For a contrasting view, see New Israeli Estimate on Iranian Nukes: 2008 to 2012 - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israel and Egypt have agreed in principle to a deployment of 750 Egyptian soldiers along the Philadelphi route. The Egyptian presence is supposed to help stop arms smuggling from Sinai to Gaza. The Egyptians will apparently deploy in September, and Israel will withdraw from the Philadelphi route in October.
According to the agreement, Egyptian forces are not to bring tanks or anti-tank weapons, or construct permanent military infrastructure. Its soldiers will carry light arms only, and be outfitted with observation equipment and armored vehicles suitable for police. The Egyptians announced that they would shortly be dispatching a large force of security advisors to assist the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
The stability of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime will come under threat during the year ahead, Israeli defense officials believe. "Assad is making every possible mistake," a senior defense official said. "He is on a collision course with the U.S. - and under certain circumstances, this could cost him his hold on power." In addition, the U.S. is not happy that Syria has yet to implement fully UN Security Council Resolution 1559 - Syrian intelligence officials continue to operate in Lebanon and Damascus is preventing Beirut from deploying its army in the south of the country, along the border with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
See also Sweating It in Syria - Amir Taheri
Iran's President-elect Ahmadinejad refused to hold substantive talks with Assad during his rushed visit to Tehran. Ahamdinejad believes that Syria has lost much of its value for Iran, and with Syria out of Lebanon, Iran itself could become the major foreign influence in the country. Shiites, accounting for 40% of the population, represent the largest community in Lebanon and provide Iran with the strongest domestic base any foreign power would need in that country.
The demise of Saddam Hussein means Iran no longer needs Syria to counterbalance Iraq within Arab regional politics. It is hard to see where Assad's Baathist regime could go from here, except out. (New York Post)
See also Time to Tighten the Noose on Syria - Peter Schweizer (U.S. News)
Thousands of Arabs have been added recently to the population of Jerusalem's Old City. Hundreds of Arab families who fear that the separation fence will cut them off from various services are abandoning their residences in distant neighborhoods and returning to the Old City. From the point of view of the Palestinian leadership, Jerusalem is the next battlefield following the completion of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
There almost certainly isn't a single Palestinian who believes that the disengagement from Gaza will be followed by the implementation of the "road map" plan and the renewal of the peace process. Sharon has repeatedly said that the road map means, first and foremost, the dismantling of the Palestinians' terror infrastructures and an end to the incitement. But the Palestinians say there is no chance of this happening. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The death of the octogenarian King Fahd of Saudi Arabia - incapacitated since a 1995 stroke - had been largely expected since he was hospitalized in May. Saudi Arabia has no formal procedure for succession, but Crown Prince Abdullah has effectively run the day-to-day operations of the government for the past decade and Fahd's death merely formalizes Abdullah's powers. Prince Sultan, the longtime defense minister and a brother of King Fahd, has been elevated to the title of crown prince. Yet Abdullah is over 80 and Sultan is in his late 70s. Thus, the potential crisis comes not with the post-Fahd succession, but upon Abdullah's death. (New York Times)
See also Next Generation of Saudi Princes Jostling for Power - John R. Bradley
The founder of modern Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz, had at least 40 sons. The passing of the second generation, of whom Prince Sultan and the interior minister Prince Naif are the last, is not far off, and is likely to lead to competition that could be profoundly destabilizing. All the more dangerous is the fact that the various armed forces are commanded by competing princes. Jealous of their privileges and faced with new challenges to their status, they may have to fight to maintain their authority. (Telegraph-UK)
The total end of any Israeli presence for about half the Palestinians will not have much impact on the Arab states in the region. The usual stereotypes will hold in the Arab media: Israel can do nothing good. The regimes need to demonize Israel to justify their continued dictatorship and misrule.
What about the conclusion that the withdrawal proves Israel is weak and shows terrorism is working? There will be those in Hamas and Hizballah that will make such claims, but they will not be repeated too often by others. Why? Because the Arab states and Iran do not want the image of a weak Israel. To be useful, Israel must be seen as strong, as an imminent threat. Only if this is so can the "Zionist menace" justify continued dictatorship, high military spending, and a denial of internal freedom. (Jerusalem Post)
After the Taba bombing last year, Egyptian authorities blamed the Bedouin tribes in Sinai for not maintaining control of the region. In the subsequent police roundup, Egyptian security forces arrested more than 2,500 Bedouins from northern Sinai, Human Rights Watch reported in January. A Bedouin man admitted under questioning that he sold explosives to a Palestinian who led the bombings, the government said. (New York Times)
See also My Vacation in Sharm e-Sheikh - Daoud Kuttab
We were in Sharm e-Sheikh over the July 23 weekend for our annual family vacation. One of the main topics of discussion was why the attack netted so many Egyptian casualties. Perhaps Egyptian security had received a tip minutes before the blast, which explains why they fortified protection outside the main hotels frequented by foreigners. The bomber reportedly drove past one of these checkpoints and detonated his device near the old market, killing many Egyptians.
Another theory is that the attack was connected to angry Sinai Bedouins. They had it good during the years when Israel controlled the peninsula and once Egypt regained sovereignty, most of the best hotel and resorts jobs went to mainland Egyptians, leaving only menial work for the Bedouins. (Jerusalem Post)
The Challenge for Muslims - Editorial (Chicago Tribune)
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