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 18, 2010
Hamas Official Accused of Helping Dubai Hit Squad - Ian Black, Paul Lewis, and Kate Connolly
Iran: Islamic Middle East Soon to Be Formed (Fars-Iran)
Iran Seen Tightening Grip on Iraq (UPI)
Gaza Glutted with Smuggled Goods - Non-Hamas Tunnel Owners Suffering - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
Kuwaiti Newspaper Fined Over Pro-Israel Advert (AFP)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Russia raised Western hopes that it will support tougher international sanctions against Iran's nuclear program by announcing a delay in delivery of S-300 advanced air defense missiles. The postponement was made public after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Moscow. President Medvedev's spokeswoman said after his talks with Netanyahu that Iran had to convince the international community that its nuclear program was peaceful, adding: "In case these commitments are not fulfilled, no one can rule out the use of sanctions." Russia signed a contract in December 2005 to sell at least five S-300 systems to Iran. Alexander Fomin, deputy head of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said: "The delay is due to technical problems." (Times-UK)
See also Russia Joins U.S. and France in Nuclear Sanctions Push - Damien McElroy
"Iran's enrichment of its LEU (low-enriched uranium) stockpile to higher levels is not only unnecessary, but would serve to further undermine the confidence of the international community in Iran's actions," Russia, the U.S., and France said Tuesday in a statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Telegraph-UK)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her country has no plan for military action against Iran over its nuclear program. "Obviously, we don't want Iran to become a nuclear weapons power, but we are not planning anything other than going for sanctions," she told Al-Arabiya television on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Amman on Tuesday: "The priority for President Obama and his administration has been to initiate a dialogue and engagement while at the same time keeping all options on the table. When I say all options are on the table it certainly includes potential military options." (AFP)
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, the highest-ranking American official to visit Syria in five years, held "candid" talks on Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar Assad. (AP/Washington Post)
See also U.S. Reaches Out to Syria - Nicholas Kralev
The State Department has decided not to extend a "travel warning" to U.S. citizens about "ongoing safety and security concerns in Syria," which expired Friday, officials said. This follows the nomination of a new U.S. ambassador to Damascus.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, harshly criticized the administration's "reckless engagement" with Syria. "With this nomination, our foreign policy again risks sending the message that it is better to be an intractable enemy than a cooperative, loyal U.S. ally," she said. "Despite the administration's outreach, Syria continues to sponsor violent extremist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas, to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty, and to pursue unconventional weapons and missile capabilities." (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Let's assume for the moment that the Mossad indeed eliminated the arch-terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Let's assume that the Mossad operatives were revealed. This is not an embarrassment, it is an impressive achievement. A bitter enemy was killed, not a single operative was arrested, and the exposure of the agents was a price worth paying. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 18Feb10)
Irrespective of who carried out the assassination of senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, the operation was meticulously planned and successfully executed, and despite a surprisingly impressive investigation by Dubai police, the hit cannot be considered a botched job.
Mabhouh oversaw the smuggling of Iranian long-range rockets into Gaza, enabling Hamas to threaten the Tel Aviv region, home to more than three million Israelis. In a video made two weeks before his death and broadcast on Al-Jazeera earlier this month, Mabhouh said he had kidnapped and murdered two IDF soldiers, Ilan Sa'adon and Avi Sasportas, in 1989. Mabhouh said he had disguised himself as an Orthodox Jew during the attack. (Jerusalem Post)
The evidence suggesting that British passports were used by members of the team responsible for killing Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is causing concern at the possibility of a new diplomatic row between Israel and the UK. Yet the warnings of major diplomatic fallout are probably overblown. The British and Israeli intelligence services are thought to cooperate closely in a variety of areas of common interest - including on the Iranian nuclear program and in the fight against Global Jihad organizations. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
I should be wearing black and uttering pieties about the disgraceful "extrajudicial" killing of Hamas military chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who is rumored to have played a key role in smuggling Iranian-funded arms to Islamist militants in Gaza. All nice people, quite rightly, are adopting the proper moral stance and expressing outrage and disgust at this affront to international law and justice. But the rest of us...well, we simply can't wait until the movie comes out. What the secret agents did was compelling and breathtaking in its cleverness.
It is an unfashionable thing to say, but I have a considerable admiration for the Israeli way of doing things. They perceive someone as their deadly enemy, they kill them. They get hit, they hit back. This absolutism, based on their history, carries its own moral weight; one that is rather electrifying in a Western world grown flabby with niceties. Clearly, the Israelis could defend their policies if they wanted to, but they quite simply can't be bothered. It's a waste of breath. One admires them for that, too. Maybe we need the Israelis to remind us that the world is not made according to our template. (Times-UK)
At the end of September, when the enrichment facility that was built near the Iranian city of Qom was disclosed, President Obama insisted that the situation was serious, and that if Iran did not alter its path there would be consequences. But there weren't. In October, Secretary of State Clinton warned that the U.S. would not wait forever. In the meantime, however, the U.S. is waiting. The end of the year deadline that Obama set for evaluating diplomatic progress on Iran also came and went. And if we assume that ultimately there will be sanctions, so what?
The role of sanctions and other pressure, such as credible military threats, is to convince Iran that time is not on its side and it would be better to seriously negotiate with the West. Yet there is no sign that the Obama administration intends to mobilize the necessary political muscle to lead such a process. Without genuine American determination, there is no prospect of preventing the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons. The writer is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Ha'aretz)
Defeating the Iranian regime is pivotal to solving the Arab-Israeli conflict rather than the other way around. The main obstacle to the conflict is the widespread radical Islamic views that promote hatred of Jews in the Muslim world. It is virtually impossible to have real peace in the area while leading Islamic scholars teach that Jews are pigs and monkeys and that Muslims must fight and annihilate them. Defeating Islamism is therefore fundamental.
Defeating the Iranian regime and proving its failure is vital to discrediting it in the eyes of the followers of radical Islamic movements, thus weakening their interest in pursuing radical Islamism as a path. Furthermore, defeating the mullah regime can cause an economic blow to its affiliated militant organizations, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, who resist peace with Israel, and open the path for less radical political players to have more leadership roles in the area. The writer, a one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt, is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. (Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu: What If Our Peace Interlocutors Are Ousted the Way They Were Ousted from Gaza? - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
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