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Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

Thursday,
November 16, 2006
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In-Depth Issues:

Iran "Tried to Get Uranium by Arming Somalia" - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran tried to obtain uranium from Somalia in return for supplying weapons to the country's Islamist movement, the UN said.
    The report details three illegal weapons shipments from Teheran, and Iran promised further weapons, but only in return for uranium, presumably for use in Teheran's nuclear program.
    The Somali Islamists, who captured Mogadishu from a coalition of secular warlords in June, are now believed to control the area where uranium is present.


Brookings: Iraqi Insurgents Number 20,000+, 800-2,000 Are Foreign Fighters (Saban Center for Middle East Policy-Brookings Institution)
    The latest "Iraq Index" of the Brookings Institution reports that Iraqi insurgents number 20,000 or more, of which 800-2,000 are foreign fighters.
    Col. Sean MacFarland of the 1st Armored Division noted on July 14, 2006, that foreign fighters in Iraq constituted "about 100 percent of the suicide bombers."


Al-Qaeda Leaders Losing Sway Over Militants, Study Finds - Mark Mazzetti (New York Times)
    In a study billed as the "first systematic mapping" of an ideology called jihadism, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has found that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, have had a relatively minor influence on the movement's intellectual foundation, and that the scholarly work of a group of Saudi and Jordanian clerics - most notably Jordanian Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi - seems more likely to influence the next generation of Islamic militants.


New Zealand Navy Plans to Buy Israeli Anti-Terror Guns (Stuff-New Zealand)
    The New Zealand Navy plans to buy sophisticated new Israeli-made automatic gun systems to protect its frigates from the threat posed by terrorists using explosive-laden speedboats.
    The latest issue of the navy's monthly magazine Navy Today reports the Rafael mini-typhoon gun direction system is being procured for the Anzac-class frigates.
    The system uses a sophisticated camera and a laser range-finder to automatically aim a stabilized machine gun at any likely threat. The gun is controlled from a ship's operations room but it can also be set to fire autonomously.
    The Israelis have fitted similar guns to unmanned high-speed patrol craft and the Australian navy is fitting it to its new patrol craft.
    The threat posed by terrorists using speedboats was highlighted in Yemen six years ago when suicide bombers rammed the US guided missile destroyer Cole, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39.


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  • U.S. Plays Down Hopes for New Palestinian Government
    U.S. officials played down the chances of a major shift in U.S. policy if the ruling Hamas group holds a large number of cabinet seats in a new Palestinian unity government, Western diplomats said on Wednesday. At a meeting in Cairo of the Quartet of Middle East mediators, the U.S. delegation (headed by Assistant Secretary of State David Welch) said it was concerned Hamas would continue to play a leading role in a new government and would prevent it from meeting the Quartet's demands that it recognize Israel, renounce violence, and abide by interim peace deals.
        "If a large portion of the cabinet is Hamas, the U.S. will find it hard to deal with the new government (because) that government would not be substantially different from what we have now," a Western diplomat said. But two Western diplomats said Washington was unlikely to block the Europeans and UN from engaging with the new government. (Reuters)
  • Hamas MPs Cross Egypt to Gaza With More Than $4 Million
    Two Palestinian lawmakers from Hamas, Mushir al-Masri and Ahmad Bahar, crossed the Egyptian border into Gaza on Wednesday with more than $4 million in cash, Egyptian security sources said. Egyptian authorities had stopped Masri on Tuesday, saying he should "wait for coordination." Masri said Tuesday he had collected the money during a trip to Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
  • Iraqi Terrorists "Are Being Supplied with Arms Smuggled from Iran" - Thomas Harding
    Iran is sustaining the insurgency against British and American forces in Iraq by supplying terrorists with weapons and cash, senior military figures have claimed. Military sources have disclosed that there is "very, very strong intelligence" that elements inside Iran have continued to fund and support the gun-running. "We know when something goes bang there is an Iranian influence on that bomb," an intelligence official said.
        In Basra, Iranian trucks could be seen going through customs with little hindrance from the Department of Border Enforcement. British soldiers claimed that when they appeared, the guards would spring into action, stopping vehicles, but as soon as they left, the customs officers waved the traffic through. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Al-Qaeda's "Satanic Terror" on Shi'ites
    Al-Qaeda is exerting an "almost satanic terror" among Shi'ite groups whose militias have greatly escalated violence in Iraq, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Hayden, says. The top U.S. general in the Middle East, John Abizaid, said bin Laden's network was reinvigorating its operations from havens on the Afghan-Pakistani border, and had replaced leaders killed or captured by the U.S. and its allies with new seasoned militants. Intelligence officials said that despite the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, the group remained a leading actor in that country's sectarian violence, which was likely only to increase.
        Hayden said Washington only partly understood links between regional militant groups and al-Qaeda and was just beginning to dissect al-Qaeda's effect on so-called home-grown cells inspired by its rhetoric. An al-Qaeda victory in Iraq "would mean a fundamentalist state that shelters jihadists and serves as a launching pad for terrorist operations throughout the region - and in the United States," Hayden warned. (Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket Attack on Sderot Wounds Four - Shmulik Hadad
    A 17-year-old Sderot resident sustained serious injuries and three others were lightly wounded in a Palestinian rocket attack on Wednesday evening. The rocket landed in the city center, causing damage to buildings in the area. A 57-year-old woman was killed in an earlier rocket attack on the city Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Palestinian gunmen fired four Kassam rockets that landed south of Ashkelon. (Ynet News)
        See also Guard at Defense Minister's Home Loses Legs in Palestinian Rocket Attack - Shmulik Hadad
    Maor Peretz, 24, a bodyguard on duty at the home of Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz in Sderot, was injured Wednesday by shrapnel from a Palestinian rocket in both legs and doctors were forced to amputate them. He also sustained burns. (Ynet News)
  • Would-Be Suicide Bomber Caught in Jerusalem
    Israeli security forces recently prevented a suicide bombing attack by exposing a terrorist cell from the West Bank city of Nablus, Israel Radio reported on Thursday. Ashraf Hanani, 25, was caught with a ready-to-use explosives belt in Tzahal Square in Jerusalem in July during a routine check. A second belt was discovered by Israeli security forces in the Palestinian National Security building in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Laboratory tests revealed that the belts contained high explosives that cannot be traced by metal detectors. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Islamists Are Not Driven By Israel-Palestinian Problem - Daniel Finkelstein
    I am struck by Prime Minister Blair's thesis - his idea that the Israel-Palestinian dispute is the core issue and that we must now bend every effort to reaching a solution. I think he is quite wrong here. He seems to have accepted the idea that we will only win the war on terror once there is peace in Israel. The truth is that there will only be peace in Israel once we have won the war on terror.
        Mr. Blair has conceded a critical point. He has accepted the idea that the behavior of the State of Israel is the underlying grievance that drives on the Islamists and wins them what support they have in the Arab world. The truth is very different. The existence of so many dictatorships, kleptocracies, and violent thugs in the Middle East is what drives on the conflict, in Israel, as elsewhere. The Palestinian crisis and the tragedy of the poor Palestinian people is an effect, an outcome, not a cause. (Times-UK)
        See also A "Whole Middle East" Strategy - Prime Minister Tony Blair (Times-UK)
  • Hizballah's Preparations for the Next Campaign - Amir Kulick
    Hizballah's expected preparations for the next round of fighting will be centered around rocket arrays aimed at Israel's home front, at longer range and more intensively than before. The IDF's systematic elimination of mid-range rocket launchers south of the Litani River may push Hizballah to build a massive infrastructure north of the Litani, possibly even in the Beka'a Valley and north of Beirut. The objective will be to saturate the area with rockets in order to increase the array's survivability. The goal of Hizballah's next campaign would be to launch intensive volleys towards Tel Aviv and its surroundings.
        The massive bombardment of the Dahiya quarter of Beirut where, according to IDF reports, Hizballah command posts were centered, may prompt Hizballah to disperse its command posts across Beirut and outside. (Strategic Assessment-Tel Aviv University)
  • Observations:

    Lebanese Poker: Nasrallah Is Gambling Again - Eyal Zisser (Ynet News)

    • In a speech this week in southern Beirut, Hizballah's secretary-general called on Shiites in Lebanon not to fear a new civil war in the country. "Only the weak side fears such a possibility, and we're not weak," he said.
    • Nasrallah is a gambler by nature. In July, too, he gambled that Israel would not be responding to the abduction of IDF soldiers. However, at that time he lost the gamble, and Nasrallah and his supporters were forced to pay a heavy price.
    • Now, he is gambling again that eventually his opponents will cave in. The problem is that none of the Lebanese poker players have anything to lose anymore. After all, any concession in the face of demands means handing over power in the country to Nasrallah, and this was not the aim of Prime Minister Siniora and his colleagues.
    • The last war and Security Council Resolution 1701 created a fragile, unstable reality on Israel's northern border. Those comforted by the deployment of the Lebanese army and the international force may discover that once fire is exchanged in Beirut, these forces would be the first ones to leave the area.
    • Nasrallah's willingness to challenge the Lebanese system's stability shows that he feels self-confidence and possibly believes that he regained the power and status lost during the war.
    • This raises the concern that sooner or later he will seek to revert the situation along the border with Israel to the reality that prevailed on the eve of July 12, 2006. After all, those who threaten a civil war within Lebanon would not be deterred from renewing their activity against Israel along the border.

      The writer heads the Middle Eastern History Department at Tel Aviv University.


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