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|
February 9, 2010
Yemen al-Qaeda Wants to Block Red Sea to Israeli Shipping (Reuters)
Poll: 90 Percent of Middle East Views Jews Unfavorably - Amir Mizroch (Jerusalem Post)
Italian Energy Company ENI to Pull Out of Iran (Trend News-Azerbaijan)
Significant Reduction of Trade Between Iran and Germany (Persia House)
Burka-Wearing Gunmen Raid French Bank - Henry Samuel (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iran's formal notification Monday to a UN nuclear watchdog that it will begin producing higher-grade enriched uranium marks a new and potentially dangerous turn in Tehran's confrontation with the West over its nuclear ambitions. Iran's announcement means that it will be a significant step closer to possessing the raw material needed to build a nuclear bomb.
While Iran does not have the expertise to build the specialized fuel rods needed for its research reactor, the main consequence of its decision appears to be moving up the enrichment ladder, according to David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. Albright said 70% of the work toward reaching weapons-grade uranium took place when Iran enriched uranium gas to 3.5%. Enriching it further to the 19.75% needed for the reactor is an additional "15 to 20% of the way there."
The uranium would need to be enriched further, to 60% and then to 90%, before it could be used for a weapon. "The last two steps are not that big a deal," Albright said. They could be accomplished, he said, at a relatively small facility within months. (Washington Post)
Iran's announcement that it would begin enriching its stockpile of uranium prompted officials from the U.S., France and Russia to call for stronger sanctions against Tehran. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Obama administration and its allies had done all they could to entice Iran to negotiate. "All of these initiatives have been rejected," he said. While "we must still try and find a peaceful way to resolve this issue, the only path that is left to us at this point, it seems to me, is that pressure track." Even in Russia, Konstantin I. Kosachyov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian Parliament, urged the international community to prepare "serious measures." (New York Times)
See also U.S. Wants UN Sanctions Resolution on Iran within Weeks - Adam Entous
The U.S. wants the UN Security Council to approve a sanctions resolution within "weeks, not months," the Pentagon said Tuesday. (Reuters)
See also Iran Faces New Sanctions over Uranium Program - Damien McElroy
World leaders finally ran out of patience when President Ahmadinejad ordered a massive expansion in uranium processing. Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, said, "This is real blackmail....The only thing that we can do, alas, is apply sanctions, given that negotiations are not possible." The British Foreign Office said that Iran's latest step represented a breach of five Security Council resolutions.
Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister, predicted the Security Council would be asked to vote on sanctions by the end of March. "The cost of stopping Iran now is nothing compared to what it would take to stop them if they become nuclear powered," he said. "We don't see ourselves in direct conflict with Iran. We are members of the international community and our interests are aligned. We trust the international community and (the Security Council) to do the right thing." (Telegraph-UK)
The biggest threats to America's national security come from trans-national non-state actors, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday. "Most of us believe the greater threats are the trans-national non-state networks, primarily the extremists - the fundamentalist Islamic extremists who are connected to al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula," Clinton said. "Or al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan." "They continue to try to increase the sophistication of their capacity....The attacks that they're going to make and the...biggest nightmare that any of us have is that one of these terrorist member organizations within this syndicate of terror will get their hands on a weapon of mass destruction." (CNN)
Eleven students were arrested Monday for interrupting a lecture at University of California, Irvine, where Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren spoke about U.S.-Israel relations. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
See also Arab Students Disrupt Speech by Israeli Envoy to U.S. - Yitzhak Benhorin
Irvine has the second largest concentration of Arabs in the U.S. after Dearborn in Michigan, and the local university is the most problematic regarding Israel. Several months ago an event was held at the university with the participation of British MP George Galloway, a prominent pro-Palestinian activist, in which donations were collected for Hamas. The local Muslim students union is under federal investigation on suspicion of gathering funds for terror activity. (Ynet News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Approximately 50 foreign nationals are currently residing in the West Bank and working with Palestinian groups to disrupt and interfere with IDF operations, military sources said on Monday. Israel's High Court of Justice on Monday released two women from Spain and Australia who had been arrested in Ramallah for involvement in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
The IDF has noted a growing presence of foreign nationals at the weekly demonstrations in Bil'in, Ni'lin and near the settlement of Neveh Tzuf. The IDF is concerned that a new wave of violence could flare up into a new conflict and undermine diplomatic efforts to restart negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
In the latest episode of the weekly children's program "Tomorrow's Pioneers" on Hamas TV, a Palestinian boy sings: "Daddy gave me a present, a machine gun and a rifle. When I am a big boy, I will join the Liberation Army. The army of [Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam (Hamas)....We [are] victorious, victorious over America and Israel." (Palestinian Media Watch)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Obama team will find it hard, if not impossible, to peel Syria way from hardline ally Iran, analysts say. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, writing in the New Yorker last week, disclosed that the Syrian secret services have already resumed cooperation with the CIA and Britain's MI6. Aaron David Miller, who was a Middle East adviser in past U.S. administrations, said Washington can achieve modest objectives, such as intelligence sharing, but he set expectations low.
Syria is a hard nut to crack, he said, because President Bashar al-Assad, from the minority Alawite sect, focuses foremost on ensuring his regime's survival - and that means having strategic ties with non-Arab and Shiite Iran. Its needs flow from its stakeholding in Lebanon via Hizbullah, which Iran has also backed. "As long as the Hizbullah-Iranian relationship is as close as it is, the Syrians, I think, will only alienate the Iranians at their own peril," Miller said. He said Assad's Syria, which has a majority Sunni Muslim population, sees Iran as a hedge against a Sunni-led Arab world that it mistrusts, while it also looks to energy-rich Tehran for economic support. (AFP)
Top U.S. counterterrorism officials say al-Qaeda's ability to wage mass-casualty terrorism has been undercut by relentless U.S. attacks on the network's leadership, finances and training camps. But even in its weakened state, the group has shifted tactics to focus on small-scale operations that are far harder to detect and disrupt, analysts say.
"Al-Qaeda's leadership is accelerating efforts that were probably in place anyway," said Andy Johnson, former staff director of the Senate intelligence committee. In the past year, the "good guys have been scoring the points," killing key al-Qaeda leaders and disrupting multiple plots. But pressure on al-Qaeda in Iraq and Pakistan has forced terrorist operatives to flee to new havens, such as Yemen, and step up the search for weaknesses in Western defenses. (Washington Post)
Will Tehran Choose the Tiananmen Solution? - Amir Taheri (Times-UK)
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