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UAE Red Crescent Aided Kin of Palestinian Militants - Julia Preston (New York Times)
Israel Campus Beat
- March 19, 2006
Ramifications of the Jericho Prison Operation
Released Saddam Papers Hint at Links to Al-Qaeda, Chemical Weapons - Sarah Baxter (Times-UK)
Fatah's "Young Guard" Faces Old Problems - Ben Fishman and Mohammad Yaghi (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Bin Laden Offered to Buy Votes for Islamist Pakistani Prime Minister Candidate (Dawn-Pakistan)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran has embarked on a charm offensive in the Arab world aimed at expanding economic and political ties and circumventing efforts by the U.S. and its allies to isolate Iran over its nuclear program. Iran also moved to shore up its longtime alliance with Syria. During a recent meeting with Iranian officials in Damascus, Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otri publicly endorsed Iran's assertion of the right to develop nuclear technology.
The activity coincides with Iran's stated support for Hamas. Ahmadinejad has offered to fill gaps in the PA budget created by a withdrawal of international aid as Hamas takes over. (Washington Post)
The leader of Syria's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, London-based Ali Bayanouni, scents power after forming a coalition with secular, nationalist, liberal, Communist, and Kurdish opposition parties. He said only international acquiescence was keeping President Bashar al-Assad in power, and urged the West to boycott his government, predicting that the regime would collapse without international protection as it had no public support. Bayanouni voiced a close affinity for the Palestinian militant movement Hamas. (Reuters)
The wave of bombings that targeted Beirut and southern Lebanon and the arrest of several cells whose members have confessed to belonging to al-Qaeda, in addition to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claiming responsibility for an attack on Israel using Katyusha rockets, have all heightened the fear that al-Qaeda is seeking a permanent base in Lebanon. Security sources have indicated that a number of Lebanese and Palestinian extremists, who left for Iraq a few months ago to join the insurgency and fight against the Americans, have returned after strengthening their ties with al-Qaeda leaders.
Four months ago, a new leadership emerged "under the leadership of the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine- General Command (Ahmad Jibril) in support of the Syrian security forces under the banner of "al-Qaeda." They include many Arabs who came in their thousands to Syria to cross illegally into Iraq. (Asharq Alawsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
The PA agreed Sunday to open the Kerem Shalom crossing to goods coming from Egypt. Kerem Shalom is a three-way crossing at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip which connects Israel, Egypt, and Gaza. The PA has been demanding the reopening of the Karni crossing, but Israeli security officials said Israel had intelligence information regarding several terror cells planning attacks against the terminal. Karni had become a primary target for terror groups since it was the only place where Israelis were stationed near the Gaza Strip. The warnings included tunnels terrorists were digging near Karni or plans to infiltrate a bomb into the terminal. (Jerusalem Post)
PA Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh on Sunday presented the new Hamas cabinet, which includes no factions other than Hamas. Haniyeh confirmed that Mahmoud Zahar would serve as foreign minister, while Said Siam would head the Interior Ministry. The new finance minister is Omar Abdel Razek. Nasser Eddin Shaer was chosen to be deputy prime minister, and will essentially serve as prime minister of the West Bank because Israel has barred Haniyeh from leaving Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Members of New Palestinian Cabinet (AP/Jerusalem Post)
Egyptian security forces recently uncovered 1.5 tons of TNT explosives near the border with Israel, two km south of the Kerem Shalom crossing. Security officials in Israel believe the explosives were earmarked for terrorists in Gaza. IDF sources said the discovery proves the high motivation to smuggle bomb-making materials through the Gaza-Egypt border. Meanwhile, Southern Command forces have been deployed to counter the threat of a tunnel being dug from Gaza to one of the nearby Israeli communities. (Ynet News)
Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Sunday morning. (Jerusalem Post)
Two members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades were killed on Friday and three were wounded after a Kassam rocket they tried to fire at Israel blew up prematurely. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Israel's takeover of the Jericho prison last Tuesday marked a new strategy in Israel's dealings with a Hamas-controlled Palestinian entity. The operation's effect on PA leader Mahmoud Abbas did not interest anyone. Defense officials sense that Israel is headed for an unavoidable clash with the PA. They are not certain whether it will happen in May, June, or July, but they know it will happen. Unilateral moves will become the name of the game. There will be no dialogue with the other side.
Palestinian police at the prison, closely monitored by Israel throughout the operation, showed a clear lack of desire to fight back and die. IDF officials are already feeling the declining level of dialogue with their Palestinian counterparts. The two sides still talk, but the Palestinian willingness to uncover explosive devices and prevent terror attacks is evaporating. Meanwhile, external forces are pushing the Palestinians to resort to violence. The Syrians, Iranians, and Hizballah are pressing the Islamic Jihad and Fatah to carry out attacks. (Ynet News)
See also IDF Reports to Cabinet on Jericho Raid - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
Iraq is possibly headed to civil war, if not already there. Listen to Sheik Zeidan, once one of the most prominent tribal chieftains in Anbar province, now an exile across the border in Jordan. "If there was a gap between the Sunnis and Zarqawi before Samarra, this brought it together," he said. In Zeidan's view, Zarqawi - who is from the largest tribe in Jordan - has used his knowledge of tribal loyalties to bind him to the local population. He's also killed any sheiks who dare disagree.
Ali Shukri, a retired Jordanian general and former adviser to the late King Hussein, agrees. "Those tribal leaders who are in Iraq are definitely living in fear," he said. Shukri says the Sunni tribes in western Iraq are key to ending strife in Iraq because their leaders could keep the peace there and end the insurgency. Now, he says, there is a power vacuum that is being filled by Zarqawi. "Historically, these people kept the peace in the western part of Iraq," Shukri said. "Now we see the tribes becoming indifferent. It has reached the point where some of my tribal friends say Zarqawi has become more important in the traditional tribal areas of western Iraq than the actual historical leaders. This is bad."
Civil war in Iraq and Zarqawi's growing strength there have the Jordanians worried. "The more the situation continues in Iraq, the more [Zarqawi] will have a free hand. And it will come across us, not only across Jordan, but we are going to see worse things happening in Saudi Arabia," said Shukri, pointing to the recent failed al-Qaeda attack on an oil facility in Saudi Arabia. (CNN)
See also Global Oil Supply Security and Al-Qaeda's Abortive Attack on Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia - Mordechai Abir (ICA/JCPA)
The phrase "apartheid wall" is spewed on almost every university campus I visit in North America and Europe. This barrier was birthed by "shaheeds," suicide bombers whom Palestinian leaders have glorified as martyrs. Since the barrier went up, suicide attacks have plunged, which means innocent Arab lives have been spared along with Jewish ones. Israel's intent is not to keep Palestinians "in" so much as to keep suicide bombers "out." Before the barrier, there was the bomber. The barrier can be dismantled, but the bomber's victims are gone forever. Young Muslims, especially those privileged with a good education, cannot walk away from these questions. (New York Times)
Time for Donor Nations to Help Africa's Hungry, Not Palestinian "Security Forces" - Sever Plocker (Ynet News)
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