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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

Thursday,
August 24, 2006
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In-Depth Issues:

India Mulls Pulling Troops from Lebanon (AP/Boston Globe)
    India is considering withdrawing its existing peacekeepers from southern Lebanon, Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Wednesday.
    The 775 Indian soldiers would not leave before UN reinforcements arrive, he said.


Israeli Losses in Lebanon and the World War Against Jihadism - Arnaud de Borchgrave (Washington Times)
    For Israel to lose 116 soldiers in 34 days of warfare is comparable to the U.S. losing 5,800 (multiply by 50 to get the equivalent population ratio). So far, the U.S. has lost 2,600 in 3 1/2 years in Iraq.
    The world of on-line jihadism is real and it is here. The estimated 5,000 pro-al-Qaeda websites include recipes for mixing nail polish remover and hair bleach and detonating the explosive cocktail with the flash unit from a throwaway camera.
    Islam, whether in the form of young jihadis who live to die killing those who live to live in freedom, or conservative oil sheiks and emirs clinging to divine-right-of-kings privileges by heaping praise on Hizballah guerrillas, dominates our fear of what the future may bring.


Hizballah Fights with Anti-American Slogans - Ferry Biedermann (Financial Times-UK)
    In one of the most visible manifestations of Hizballah's vigorous anti-American campaign, placards with slogans such as "made in the USA" have been appearing on the remnants of destroyed buildings in Lebanon, written in Arabic and English to attract international media attention.


Iran Blocks Imports of French Renault Vehicles (AFP/International Herald Tribune)
    Iran said last month that it had blocked planned car imports by Renault of France. Renault had planned to import several thousand Megane cars to supplement its local production of the lower-priced L90 car, or Logan.
    Renault signed a deal in 2004 to make the Logan in Iran, the largest long-term investment in Iran by a French company since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
    Production of the Logan is scheduled to start this year, with a target production of 300,000 vehicles in 2009.
    See also France Losing Face over UN Force (AFP/Peninsula-Qatar)


Egypt's Muslim Authorities Disown Fatwas on Killing Jews - Alain Navarro (AFP/Yahoo)
    Egypt's Muslim authorities have stepped in to keep a wave of anti-Semitic sentiment from getting out of control, disowning an edict by a firebrand cleric calling for Israeli Jews to be killed.
    Speaking on the religious satellite network Al-Nas, Cairo imam Safwat al-Higazi issued an edict calling on worshippers to kill "any Zionist anywhere in wartime."
    Higazi later limited the edict to Israeli Jews, whom he said were all reservists in the army and therefore legitimate targets.
    "I myself am ready to slash the throat of any Israeli I meet," he told the Sawt al-Umma newspaper.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Kidnappers of Journalists in Gaza Demand that U.S. Release Muslim Prisoners - Doug Struck
    Kidnappers of two Fox Television journalists taken while reporting from Gaza nine days ago released a videotape of the hostages and demanded that the U.S. government release Muslim prisoners from American jails within 72 hours. The videotape from an unknown group calling itself the Brigades of Holy Jihad shows American reporter Steve Centanni, 60, and cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, from New Zealand, looking fit and saying they have been "treated fairly well." The videotape was accompanied with a two-page statement condemning "the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan."
        Palestinian groups have seized more than a dozen journalists, but almost all have been released quickly. Palestinian sources said they never heard of this group and were struck that the statement accompanying the videotape did not demand release by Israel of Palestinian prisoners. (Washington Post)
        See also State Department: "We Don't Make Concessions to Terrorists"
    The State Department rejected on Wednesday demands by a Palestinian group for the release of all Muslim prisoners in U.S. prisons in exchange for the release of two kidnapped Fox News journalists. "We don't make concessions to terrorists," State Department press officer Gonzalo Gallegos said. (AP/Fox News)
  • Iranian Troops Fire on Romanian Oil Rig - Alison Mutler
    Romania said Iranian troops opened fire from a warship and seized a Romanian oil rig Tuesday off the coast of Iran. "We are dealing with a commercial dispute that is being treated in an extreme way by the Iranian authorities," said Sergiu Medar, a national security adviser to Romanian President Traian Basescu. (AP/Houston Chronicle)
        See also Iran Hands Gulf Rig Back to Romanian Owners - Andy Critchlow (Bloomberg)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Lebanese Army Deploys along Syrian Border
    Sources in Beirut said the Lebanese army was deploying along the Syrian border on Wednesday, Israel Radio reported. According to a French news agency, several brigades deployed at points in northern and eastern Lebanon in order to prevent cross-border smuggling. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Lebanese Government Moves to Stop Arms Smuggling - Alaa Shahine
    The Lebanese government undertook on Thursday to stop smuggling across Lebanon's border with Syria. Israel says it will not lift a sea and air blockade of Lebanon unless a reinforced UN peacekeeping force helps the Lebanese army control the border so that no new weapons reach Hizballah. A Lebanese government official said Lebanon had asked the UN for technical help to monitor the border crossings but not to deploy any UN troops along the border with Syria. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Islamic Caliphate May Be Declared in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On Tuesday, thousands of supporters of the radical Islamic group Hizb al-Tahrir (Liberation Party) staged a demonstration in Gaza City to mark the anniversary of the end of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Demonstrators called for establishing an Islamic caliphate that would rule not only in the PA territories, but the entire world. Buoyed by the large turnout, the party's leaders are now considering declaring an Islamic caliphate in the Gaza Strip during Friday prayers.
        The party, which is seen as more extreme than Hamas, is said to have increased its popularity following what is perceived as a Hizballah victory over Israel. Jordanian security forces recently foiled a similar attempt by the party's followers in the kingdom and arrested most of their leaders. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Troop Pledge Vexes Europe - Marc Champion and Karby Leggett
    Europe's difficulties in raising enough troops to enforce the cease-fire in Lebanon have exposed some hard truths that are testing the Continent's ability to serve as a global military power and Middle East peacemaker. Europeans don't have enough deployable combat troops; they are disliked as much as the U.S. by Mideast radicals; and their determination to stop the destruction and insert peacekeepers could come at a higher price than they are willing to pay. A failure to put enough boots on the ground risks leaving a gaping hole in the cease-fire strategy. One harsh lesson is that France - the lead proponent of projecting Europe as an alternative to U.S. global leadership - is little more popular with Hizballah, Iran, and others in the Muslim world than the U.S., despite Paris's opposition to the Iraq war. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How Hizballah Understands Resolution 1701 - Aiman Mansour
    For Hizballah, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is, if not a clear victory, then certainly the least of all evils because it keeps the discussion of Hizballah's disarmament within the confines of the barren exercise known as the "Lebanese National Dialogue." Moreover, the resolution provides no effective mechanism for action by the Lebanese government or UNIFIL to disarm Hizballah or terminate its existence as a state within a state.
        The Lebanese government will continue to control border crossings (as it did in the past). Absent any decision to disarm Hizballah (and with Hizballah officially represented in the government), the smuggling of weapons into Lebanon, primarily by Iran and Syria, will be far less difficult than might appear from the wording of the resolution. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Germany Goes to the Middle East - Ulf Gartzke
    After weeks of intense political debate, the German government plans to send naval forces in support of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. This decision clearly excludes the deployment of German combat ground troops inside Lebanon. It seems likely that the forces will primarily be tasked with interdicting arms shipments for Hizballah. In addition, Beirut has asked Berlin to train Lebanese police and customs agents, who could then patrol airports as well as the border with Syria. The deployment of naval and police forces away from the Lebanese-Israeli border makes it virtually impossible that German soldiers could ever face a situation where they would shoot at Israeli units. The writer is a Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University's BMW Center for German and European Studies. (Weekly Standard)
  • Filled with Grief - Tarek Heggy
    The overwhelming majority of Christians, all of the Druze, and a vast majority of Sunni Muslims oppose the actions of Hizballah that led to the war with Israel. Hizballah has established itself as an autonomous state within the state, above the central government, parliament, and the law. I am filled with grief at the heavy price Arab societies have paid and continue to pay for patterns of thinking that can only be described as divorced from logic, objectivity, and the realities of the age. Those who speak in the name of "Arab pride and dignity" have reaped only the bitter fruit of defeat and squandered God's bounty and resources he bestowed on us to improve the living conditions of our societies - not to finance reckless adventures. The writer is an Egyptian intellectual who is published regularly in the Arabic press. (New York Sun)
  • The Palestinians Lose (Again) - Amir Taheri
    While Iran and Hizballah celebrate their "strategic divine victory," the real losers of the Lebanon war may be the Palestinians. The narrative woven by Iran and Hizballah is designed to redefine the Palestinian cause as a small part of a much bigger cause: challenging the global domination of the "infidel" led by the U.S., and creating an Islamic world order. If this narrative succeeds, the almost universal consensus over a two-state solution could be in jeopardy. (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    The Dilemmas of Being an Iranian Bullet - Michael Young (Daily Star-Lebanon)

    • Hizballah's efficient ward heelers are handing out cash, reportedly much of it Iranian, to persuade the party's Shiite supporters that the destruction of their homes and livelihood was worth it. However, when will Hizballah truly decide whether it is Iranian or Lebanese?
    • Iran had wagered on Hizballah's missiles being a deterrent in the event of a conflict with the U.S. and Israel. That effect has been mostly lost thanks to the month-long Lebanon war. Hizballah still has many rockets, and its infrastructure in the south is probably intact. But what it no longer has is a blank check from the Shiite population to pursue a new war of "honor" that will surely put most of them back in the streets again.
    • Aside from Hizballah's spent deterrence capability (only revivable at a high price) is the element of surprise when it comes to the party's training, tactics, and defenses. In the next war, the Israelis will come better prepared.
    • If you were a Revolutionary Guards chief in Tehran, how would you view the latest conflict with Israel? The Lebanon war was useless to Iran, only making their nuclear program more vulnerable. In addition, President Ahmadinejad will have to explain to his own poor electors why billions of dollars are being spent on building Shiite homes in Lebanon, while Iranians continue to face grinding poverty.
    • What can Nasrallah do if Iran asks Hizballah to resume military operations against Israel while Shiites are slowly rebuilding their lives? By refusing, Nasrallah could lose his sponsor and financier; by agreeing, he could lose his supporters.


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