Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Iran "Tried to Get Uranium by Arming Somalia" - David Blair (Telegraph-UK)
Brookings: Iraqi Insurgents Number 20,000+, 800-2,000 Are Foreign Fighters (Saban Center for Middle East Policy-Brookings Institution)
Al-Qaeda Leaders Losing Sway Over Militants, Study Finds - Mark Mazzetti (New York Times)
New Zealand Navy Plans to Buy Israeli Anti-Terror Guns (Stuff-New Zealand)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
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)
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)
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 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:
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)
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):
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 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)
Lebanese Poker: Nasrallah Is Gambling Again - Eyal Zisser (Ynet News)
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