Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at www.dailyalert.org|
January 4, 2010
Chinese Evade U.S. Sanctions on Iran - Peter Fritsch (Wall Street Journal)
See also CIA Releases Video of Iran Arms Deal (Jerusalem Post)
Leading Egypt Clerics Back Gaza Tunnel Barrier (AFP)
Jordan Emerges as Key CIA Counterterrorism Ally - Joby Warrick
Inspiration for Suicide Bombers - Dan McDougall and Claire Newell (Times-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned the West on Saturday that it had one month to accept Iran's counterproposal to a deal brokered by the UN aimed at slowing the Iranian nuclear program, or else Iran would begin further enriching its nuclear fuel stockpile on its own. Tehran has already made it clear that it would not abide by the earlier tentative agreement with the West. The Obama administration has responded by indicating that it would seek to impose harsh financial sanctions on Iran. White House spokesman Mike Hammer said: "The Iranian government is standing in its own way." (New York Times)
Danish police admitted Saturday that a Somalian caught breaking into the home of cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, 74, was a would-be assassin with links to al-Qaeda. Westergaard's caricature of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban was first published by Jyllands-Posten in 2005. The 28-year-old attacker had an axe and a knife when he was shot and wounded by police late Friday. He heard windows being broken and pressed a panic alarm at his house in Aarhus. Westergaard said he locked himself and his five-year-old granddaughter in the bathroom as the assailant shouted "revenge" and "blood" and tried to smash his way into the house.
The attacker had "close ties to the Somali terror organization al-Shabaab as well as to al-Qaeda leaders in East Africa," the Danish security and intelligence service, PET, said in a statement. (Observer-UK)
See also Did Danish Cartoonist Attacker Try to Target Hillary Clinton? - Matthew Clark
The Danish newspaper Politiken is reporting that Denmark's security and intelligence agency, PET, knew that the Somali man who on Friday tried to kill a Danish cartoonist was held in Kenya in September for allegedly helping to plot an attack against U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Christian Science Monitor)
Al-Qaeda is now back in Yemen in significant numbers and the organization is flourishing. Said Ali al-Shihri, a Saudi national, spent six years as a prisoner at Guantanamo. In December 2007, he was released into the custody of the Saudi government's "deradicalization" program for terrorists. After his release in 2008, he crossed the border into Yemen and began putting into place the building blocks for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed responsibility for the botched suicide bomb attack on a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day.
By September 2008, al-Shihri had hooked up with two notorious terrorists who had escaped from Yemeni jails. Nasir al-Wahayshi was a former secretary to Osama Bin Laden, and Jamal Muhammad Ahmad al-Badawi was the convicted mastermind of the USS Cole bombing that killed 17 American sailors off Yemen in October 2000. Their ranks have been swelled by at least three other former Guantanamo detainees. Last week Pentagon sources admitted that 61 former prisoners at the camp have returned to the battlefield. Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, believes Yemen has now become the third-largest haven for al-Qaeda. (Times-UK)
See also Iran and Al-Qaeda Source of Growing Terror in Yemen
New evidence indicates that both Iran and al-Qaeda are exploiting Yemen as a base for increasing terror against the West and Saudi Arabia. Allegedly, hundreds of al-Qaeda terrorists are descending on Yemen from around the globe and the majority of the terrorist group's resources are now allocated there. (Realite-EU/Global Arab Network-UK)
See also U.S., UK Shut Embassies in Yemen on Attack Fears - Elizabeth Williamson, Charles Levinson and Yochi Dreazen (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Israeli officials have expressed concern at the scope and content of recently signed major arms deals between the U.S. and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The advanced arms include anti-ship and antitank missiles as well as smart and bunker-busting bombs. No U.S. arms deals with Israel have taken place since President Obama took office. One deal troubling Israel is the sale to Egypt of four batteries of Harpoon Block II anti-ship cruise missiles. The Harpoon II is an advanced, accurate missile, capable of overcoming countermeasures and electronic warfare. (Ha'aretz)
Judge Goldstone says our investigations should be conducted in conformity with "international standards." We shouldn't have a problem with this, since it means, in effect, that we can drop our standards. Israel probably has the highest level of accountability of the military under the law in the world. The IDF is required to investigate every complaint into misconduct by its troops, from the severe to the trivial. The IDF will also launch investigations even when no complaint has been filed, such as when alleged misconduct is brought to light in the media. Furthermore, all decisions by the military and civil authorities in relation to investigations and prosecutions are ultimately reviewable by the highest court in the land, where Palestinian residents of Gaza and the West Bank have standing. The writer is a former senior legal adviser to the IDF. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Obama administration says that domestic unrest makes Iran's leaders particularly vulnerable to strong and immediate new sanctions. Although repeated rounds of sanctions over many years have not dissuaded Iran from pursuing nuclear technology, an administration official said the hope was that the current troubles "give us a window to impose the first sanctions that may make the Iranians think the nuclear program isn't worth the price tag." A senior Israeli diplomat in Washington said that in back-channel conversations "Obama has convinced us that it's worth trying the sanctions, at least for a few months."
Obama's top advisers say they no longer believe the key finding of a much disputed National Intelligence Estimate about Iran, published a year before President George W. Bush left office, which said that Iranian scientists ended all work on designing a nuclear warhead in late 2003.
By the recent count of inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency, there were 3,936 centrifuges running at Iran's enrichment plant at Natanz - down from a peak of 4,920 centrifuges in June. Experts say Iran is working with older centrifuge technology that keeps breaking down. Iran began producing almost all of its own centrifuge components after discovering that the U.S. and other Western countries had sabotaged some key imported parts, and they have made a series of manufacturing errors. (New York Times)
For more than 15 years now, two Tel Aviv University political scientists, working with pollsters, have been tracking Israeli opinion about the peace process that began with the 1993 Oslo accord. In recent years only about 40% of Israelis say they long for a rejuvenated peace process with the Palestinians. An even smaller number, about 20%, believe such talks would amount to anything - even though more Israelis than ever now say they're willing to live alongside an independent Palestinian state. What's changed is that more Israelis than ever also seem to feel little urgency about reaching that goal.
While the absence of peace is exacting a very low price, Israeli attempts to forge a peace deal have exacted a very high one. Most Israelis, in this analysis, associate the Oslo accords not just with the historic handshake on the White House lawn but with the first suicide attacks by Palestinians. Ask Israelis what they got in return for their offer at Camp David nearly a decade ago to hand over most of the West Bank and they'll point to the second intifada. In Israeli minds, Palestinians should have been grateful for the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza - instead they fired rockets at Israel.
As Tamar Hermann, one of the political scientists who run the War and Peace Index, told me recently, "Israelis are looking around and saying, 'We've achieved normalcy. We don't have bombings. The stock market's OK. Why should we launch another messy peace process that may rock the boat again?'" (Newsweek)
See also The Deadly Price of Pursuing Peace - Evelyn Gordon (Commentary)
The Expansion of Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Jihadi Groups in Gaza: Diplomatic Implications - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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