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March 1, 2010

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Revolutionary Guard Commander Underlines Iran's Strategic Supremacy over Europe (Fars-Iran)
    Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Lieutenant Commander Brig.-Gen. Hossein Salami on Sunday reiterated Iran's control over the world's energy supplies, warning that Iran has the power to cut energy supplies to Europe whenever needed, especially in winter.
    "Iran sits on 50% of the world's energy and if it wants, Europe will spend the winter in the chill," he said.
    See also Iranian Interior Minister Stresses Iran's Growing Clout (Fars-Iran)
    "We say the first word in the region today and Iran is the main player in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon, and in influencing regional developments," said Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar.

Egypt Court Overturns Ban on Israel Gas Sales (AFP)
    The Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court overturned on Saturday a lower court's ruling banning gas sales to Israel, the official news agency MENA reported. Its decision cannot be appealed, effectively ending a legal dispute with dissidents who want to cut off the supply to Israel.
    Oil and gas export treaties and the peace treaty with Egypt "gave Israel the right to acquire Egyptian oil and gas like any other country, without the slightest discrimination," the court ruled.
    Egypt's privately owned East Mediterranean Gas began exporting fuel to the Israel Electric Corp. in May 2005, agreeing to supply 1.7 billion cubic meters a year for 20 years. A September 2009 deal increases the supply, in a contract worth roughly $6 billion.

Resistance and Rockets: Hamas Targeting of Israeli Civilians - Jeffrey White (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    While Hamas has recently gone to extraordinary lengths to prove that it did not attack civilian targets in Israel during the Gaza conflict, a review of its own media shows that Hamas knowingly and repeatedly fired on Israeli population centers in southern Israel.
    Hamas' targeting of Israeli civilians is approved and applauded in its internal publications and those aimed at Arab audiences.
    During the Gaza conflict, Hamas launched some 600 rockets against a broad swath of southern Israel. Targets included the major cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beersheba (combined population 850,000), as well as numerous smaller towns and settlements.
    Hamas boasted that more than one million Israelis live within range of its rockets.

Israel Protests Spanish Kids' Hate-Filled Postcards - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel on Sunday formally protested to Spain's ambassador in Tel Aviv against what appeared to be an orchestrated campaign whereby school children are sending dozens of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic postcards to Israel's ambassador in Madrid.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Defense Minister: A Nuclear Iran Would Endanger World Stability - Charley Keyes
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that Iran's nuclear program poses a danger that extends beyond Israel. "Iran is not just a challenge for Israel. I believe it is a challenge for the whole world," Barak said in Washington. "I don't think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, are going to drop it in the neighborhood," Barak said. "They fully understand what might follow - they are radical but not total 'mishuginas' [crazies]. They have a quite sophisticated decision-making process and they understand realities."
        However, he warned, "They are trying to jump directly into the second or second-and-a-half generation of nuclear warheads that could be installed on top of ground-to-ground missiles with ranges that will cover not just Israel, but Moscow or Paris."  (CNN)
        See also Israel 2010: Strategic Threats, Strategic Opportunities - Ehud Barak (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • UN General Assembly Urges Further Gaza War Investigations - Louis Charbonneau
    The UN General Assembly on Friday demanded credible Israeli and Palestinian investigations into allegations of war crimes in last year's Gaza war. It approved a nonbinding Arab-drafted resolution with 98 votes in favor, seven against and 31 abstentions. The resolution calls for investigations that are "independent, credible and in conformity with international standards" and requested a report on Israeli and Palestinian compliance from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon within five months.
        Israel's UN ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, reiterated that Israel's investigations into the behavior of its soldiers during the conflict in Gaza were credible. She also made clear that Israel would not hesitate to take action in the future which it sees as necessary for self-defense. "We will do so with vigor - against Hamas, Hizbullah, or any other terrorists, wherever they may be," she said. (Reuters)
        See also Britain Hardens Position, Now Supports Goldstone Report at UN - Robin Shepherd
    In the latest vote, Britain moved from the abstainers camp to join ranks with the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia in supporting a resolution to breathe new life into Goldstone for another five months. Not one EU member state joined the U.S., Israel, Canada and four others in opposing the move. (RobinShepherdOnline)
  • Europe Wary of Following Dubai Killers' Trail - Frank Jordans
    A killer - or killers - may be on the loose in Europe after a Hamas operative was slain last month in Dubai. European nations, however, seem to be in no rush to find him, her or them. Authorities in Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands have either declined to say whether they are investigating, or said they have no reason to hunt down the 26 suspects implicated in the Jan. 19 killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. European countries' reluctance to investigate may have something to do with the widely held belief that the killing of al-Mabhouh was carried out by a friendly country's intelligence agency.
        "I would guess that it's in the political interest of certain countries not to get proactive in this case," said Victor Mauer, deputy director of the Center for Security Studies at Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Shows China Evidence of Iran Bomb Program - Barak Ravid
    An Israeli delegation that traveled to Beijing last week presented detailed intelligence on Iran's nuclear program in an attempt to convince China that Tehran seeks atomic weapons, a senior diplomatic source told Ha'aretz. "The Chinese were given the full intelligence picture Israel has about the Iranian nuclear program, which clearly shows Iran is developing nuclear weapons," the source said. The delegation set out for Beijing in coordination with the U.S. administration. Talks were conducted in a friendly atmosphere, with Beijing stressing the importance of Chinese-Israeli relations and its desire to develop ties further, the source said. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Warns Syria: Stop Arming Hizbullah Immediately - Barak Ravid
    The U.S. administration has asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to immediately stop transferring arms to Hizbullah. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman made the request during a meeting Friday with Syrian Ambassador to Washington Imad Moustapha. Ha'aretz has learned that the visit to Damascus by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns on Feb. 17 ended unsatisfactorily for the U.S. During Burns' meeting with Assad, the Syrian leader denied all American claims that his regime was providing military aid to terrorists in Iraq, or to Hizbullah and Palestinian terror groups. Assad essentially told Burns that he had no idea what the American was talking about. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Report: U.S. Tells Lebanon It Cannot Prevent an Israeli Strike as Long as Arms Smuggling to Hizbullah Continues - Roee Nahmias
    U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton sent a message to Beirut that Washington cannot prevent an Israeli strike in Lebanon as long as arms smuggling to Hizbullah continues, the London-based al-Hayat reported Monday. Meanwhile, the Qatari newspaper al-Watan quoted Arab diplomats as saying Clinton plans to visit Syria in the near future to improve dialogue between Washington and Damascus. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Rioters Dispersed on Jerusalem's Temple Mount - Efrat Weiss
    Israel Police entered the al-Aqsa Mosque plaza on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday after 30 Arab youths who barricaded themselves in the mosque on Saturday began hurling stones at passersby, and efforts to remove them through negotiations failed. (Ynet News)
        See also Jerusalem Security Guard Hurt by Gunfire
    An Israeli security guard was hit in the leg by gunfire when six bullets were fired at his vehicle near Beit Yehonatan in east Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood early Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Syria Will Not Abandon Its Alliance with Iran - Michael J. Totten
    Syria has been cunningly outwitting Americans and Europeans for decades. Syria will not abandon its alliance with Iran, nor will it cease and desist its support for terrorist groups, until at least one of the two governments has been replaced. The alliance works for both parties. Syria's and Iran's lists of enemies - Sunni Arabs, Israel, and the U.S. - are identical. Syria is no more likely to join the de facto American coalition than the U.S. is likely to defect to the Syrian-Iranian-Hizbullah axis. It's as if the U.S. were trying to pry East Germany out of the Communist bloc during the Cold War.
        No basket of carrots Barack Obama or anyone else can offer will change Assad's calculation of his own strategic interests. Obama's charm, sincerity, and inherent reasonableness count for little in a hard region where leaders almost everywhere rule at the point of a gun, and where the docile and the weak are bullied or destroyed by the ruthless. (Commentary)
        See also Syria and Iran's "Brotherly" Ties Renewed - Editorial (The National-UAE)
  • Hamas U. - Thanassis Cambanis
    The Islamic University is the top university in Gaza. At the same time, the university is the brain trust and engine room of Hamas, the Islamist movement that governs Gaza. The university's goal is even more radical and ambitious than that of Hamas itself, an organization devoted primarily to war against Israel and the pursuit of political power. Its mission is to Islamicize society at every level, with a focus on Gaza but aspirations to influence the entire Islamic world.
        In keeping with a puritanical interpretation of Islamic law, men and women aren't allowed to study together, so they switch floors every two hours. They lounge in separate student unions and eat in separate cafeterias. These university students support arranged marriage, Saudi-style morality police, and a hard-line theology that sees even their own religious parents as insufficiently pious.
        In neighboring Israel, the Islamic University has become a symbol of recalcitrant Palestinian hatred. Many faculty members share Hamas' most hard-line beliefs, which include denying Israel's right to exist. Israelis often talk about the university as if it were a key source of Hamas suicide bombers and missile manufacturers, a kind of clubhouse and recruiting ground. (Boston Globe)
  • Observations:

    Killing Terrorists Is a Necessary Undertaking - Editorial (Washington Times)

    • There certainly is no reason to mourn senior Hamas military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a longtime terrorist with a track record including arms smuggling, kidnapping and murder. Most recently, he was suspected of being a primary link between Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, both of which the U.S. identifies as terrorist organizations. This time his luck ran out. Fortunes of war.
    • After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, targeting terrorist leaders became an integral part of American strategy. Had al-Mabhouh been a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, the White House probably would have issued a self-congratulatory press release. Russia killed rebel Chechen leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Doha, Qatar, in February 2004.
    • The U.S. is the global leader in what is called "targeted killing." Manned and unmanned aircraft have rained death on terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. The most significant difference between what the assassins did in Dubai and U.S. targeted killings is that in the Dubai hit, only al-Mabhouh went down.
    • Some argue that it is useless to target terrorist leaders because there is always another waiting in the wings. Experience, however, has demonstrated that taking out leaders disrupts networks, hampers operations and may deter others considering careers as violent extremists. When Abu Musab Zarqawi was liquidated by an air strike in June 2006, it was the beginning of the end for al-Qaeda in Iraq.
    • Whoever was behind al-Mabhouh's killing may draw some lessons about covering their tracks more effectively. But they successfully eliminated an important terrorist and threat to peace, and for that they deserve thanks.

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