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March 8, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Begins Production of Cruise Missiles - Nasser Karimi (AP-Washington Post)
    Iran announced Sunday that it has started a new production line for a short-range cruise missile, called the Nasr 1, that would be capable of destroying targets up to 3,000 tons in size.
    Iran boasts an array of short and medium-range missiles capable of hitting targets in the region, including Israel, U.S. military bases, and much of Europe.
    Tehran frequently makes announcements about new advances in military technology that cannot be independently verified.

Ahmadinejad: Sept. 11 Attacks a "Big Lie" - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP-Washington Post)
    Iranian President Ahmadinejad said Saturday, "September 11 was a big lie and a pretext for the war on terror and a prelude to invading Afghanistan," state media reported.

Iran Developing Massive Launch Site (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran is building a new rocket launch site with North Korean assistance, Israel Radio reported Friday quoting Jane's.
    The new site, constructed near an existing rocket base in Semnan province east of Tehran, is visible in satellite imagery.

Al-Qaeda Calls on U.S. Muslims to Attack America - Patrick Quinn (AP-Washington Post)
    Al-Qaeda's American-born spokesman Adam Gadahn on Sunday called on Muslims serving in the U.S. armed forces to emulate Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, charged with killing 13 people in Fort Hood.
    In a video posted on militant Web sites, he said, "Brother Nidal is the ideal role-model for every repentant Muslim in the armies of the unbelievers and apostate regimes."
    See also American al-Qaeda Spokesman Arrested in Pakistan (CNN)
    Adam Gadahn, an American spokesman for al-Qaeda, was arrested Sunday in Karachi, Pakistan, a senior Pakistani government source told CNN.

Turkey's Erdogan: Heritage Sites Will Never Be Jewish (Albawaba-Jordan)
    Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said in an interview with a Saudi paper published on Sunday that the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem "will forever be Islamic and will never be part of the Jewish heritage."

Brutal Transfer by Syrian Regime Finally Recognized by UN - Guy Bechor (Ynet News)
    A UN report two weeks ago exposed that more than 300,000 Syrian families have been uprooted from their homes in eastern Syria after an illogical policy that forced residents to grow water-hungry crops such as cotton and wheat prompted water wells to dry up completely.
    The Syrian regime has also transferred about one million Syrian citizens to Lebanon in order to take over its economy.
    See also Water Crisis Grips Syria - Daniel Williams (New York Times)
    Scores of refugees fleeing drought in Syria's northeastern breadbasket have settled into tents on the outskirts of Damascus.
    "It's not just a lack of water, it's bad water management by the government itself," said Jihad Yazigi, editor in chief in Damascus of The Syria Report, an online business journal.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Vice President Biden on Goodwill Trip to Israel - Edmund Sanders
    Vice President Joe Biden was due to arrive Monday in Israel on a mission to mend relations after a rocky first year for new administrations in both countries. During the three-day visit, Biden is expected to consult with Israeli leaders about Iran. But analysts and officials say the primary objective for Biden, the highest-ranking administration official to visit Israel since President Obama's election, is to give Israel's government a diplomatic nod and boost Israelis' confidence in the U.S. president. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Biden to Israel: We Will Confront Iran as Allies - Dan Williams
    In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, Vice President Joe Biden said on Monday ahead of a trip to Israel, "I can promise the Israeli people that we will confront, as allies, any security challenge it will face. A nuclear-armed Iran would constitute a threat not only to Israel - it would also constitute a threat to the United States." The Obama administration, Biden said, "gives Israel annual military aid worth $3 billion. We revived defense consultations between the two countries, doubled our efforts to ensure Israel preserves its qualitative military edge in the region, expanded our joint exercises and cooperation on missile-defense systems."  (Reuters)
  • U.S. Repudiates UN Council Remarks on Mideast Clash - Louis Charbonneau
    A U.S. official denied on Friday that Washington had consented to a UN Security Council statement to reporters voicing concern about fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinians. Gabon's UN Ambassador Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, president of the Security Council for March, read a nonbinding statement after a closed-door discussion: "The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the current tense situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem."
        A U.S. official said the American delegation had not agreed with the statement. However, several council diplomats said the U.S. delegation made no attempt to raise any objections to the final version of the text, which they said was adopted by consensus. Historically, the U.S. delegation has a tendency to block Security Council statements condemning Israel. (Reuters)
  • Iran Faces New Sanctions from U.S. and UK If Russia and China Block UN Proposals - Alex Spillius
    Western diplomats are working with Middle Eastern and Asian countries to set up alternative sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program in the expectation that any measures agreed by the UN Security Council will be heavily diluted by Russia or China. A U.S. State Department official told the Daily Telegraph, "What we are doing with our EU partners is coming up with a robust set of coordinated measures and then broadening that with the wider group of partners...and looking at how we can enhance the effectiveness of whatever is accomplished at the multilateral level."
        In the latest proposal, Washington has presented governments with a list of dozens of companies suspected of being fronts for the Revolutionary Guard, which has taken over a sizeable chunk of the Iranian economy. Washington is confident that Arab states will collaborate in private. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Approve Indirect Talks with Israel
    The PLO leadership agreed Sunday to begin U.S.-mediated indirect peace talks with Israel after a 14-month lapse in negotiations. The Arab League endorsed the idea of U.S.-mediated talks last week. (AP-Ynet News)
  • Arabs Attack Jewish Worshippers at Western Wall - Efrat Weiss
    Police forces on Friday raided the Temple Mount courtyard to stop Arabs hurling stones at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas and Islamic Movement Ignited Temple Mount Riots - Efrat Weiss
    Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch accused Hamas and the Islamic Movement's northern branch of igniting riots in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday. (Ynet News)
        See also Abbas Warns of Religious War After Temple Mount Riots - Abe Selig
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement Friday that Israel has crossed every red line and made prospects for peace even dimmer in clashing with Muslims on the Temple Mount. Abbas said Israeli security forces could "set off a religious war in the region" and urged the U.S. and the international community to intervene. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Tells Palestinians to Fight Violence - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    Israel has conveyed messages to the Palestinian Authority over the past few days that it must contain the recent riots in the West Bank, stop PA officials from participating in them, and keep them from turning violent, Palestinian sources told Ha'aretz. Israel also told the PA it must reduce incitement regarding the Temple Mount and Jerusalem and curtail its campaign against the use of Israeli products. If the PA does not cut down on the incitement and keep the riots and boycott campaign in check, Israel will reduce cooperation with the PA and increase its arrests in Palestinian-controlled areas. Over the past few months, the Israel Defense Forces has been limiting the entry of troops into PA areas to make arrests.
        Israeli security sources say they sense that the PA is taking an active part in organizing the riots, but at this point a third intifada does not appear imminent. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Sober Approach to Sanctioning Iran - David Ignatius
    China is vulnerable to Iranian oil pressure because it imports 540,000 barrels per day from Iran. So the Saudis and Emiratis have been assuring Beijing that they would be prepared to offset any shortfall in Iranian crude shipments. The UAE has already boosted its oil exports to China as part of this pressure campaign. Shipments have increased from about 50,000 barrels per day last year to 120,000 now, with a goal by year-end of up to 200,000 barrels. Over the next few years, the UAE is offering to increase that export volume to China to about 500,000 barrels per day, which would nearly equal the current Iranian total.
        Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, traveled to China last week to enlist its support against Iran. The Saudi message to Beijing, according to one U.S. official, is: "If you don't help us against Iran, you will see a less stable and dependable Middle East."  (Washington Post)
  • Hoping Sanctions Work But Readying Gas Masks - Ethan Bronner
    Lately, the real action in Israel on the Iranian issue has been the parade of top American security officials. The chairman of the joint chiefs, the director of the CIA and the national security adviser have all just been here; the vice president arrives on Monday. "Some have described it as a bear hug," said a senior Israeli official. "All the visitors to Israel are sending us and the region a message: that Israel is not alone," said Ilan Mizrahi, a former head of Israel's National Security Council.
        Officials say this is the time to try to put tougher sanctions against Tehran into place. "For Iran to go nuclear on Obama's watch would be seen as a colossal failure. There is a common interest to make sanctions work," commented a former official closely involved in the discussions. Intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is intensifying, and assessments regarding Iranian intentions and capabilities are closer than they were during the Bush administration. "We have seen a real change in the administration," a senior Israeli official said. "They now see Iran as riper for tough sanctions."  (New York Times)
  • The Hidden Agenda Behind "Israel Apartheid Week" - Dore Gold
    What underlies the Israel Apartheid Week campaign is a highly politicized interpretation of Israel's history in which the Jewish people are viewed as a colonialist movement that recently came from Europe to usurp lands from the indigenous Palestinian population, rather than the authentic claimants to sovereignty in their historical homeland. Prof. Moshe Gil of Tel Aviv University wrote in his 900-page monumental work, A History of Palestine: 634-1099, that as late as the seventh century, Jews still had a massive presence in most parts of what had been their sovereign territory up until the Roman invasion. Some suggest that the Jews were still the majority. According to Gil, on the eve of the Muslim conquests, the Jewish presence in the land was nearly 2,000 years old.
        Moreover, there was a constant effort of Jews to return to their land in the centuries that followed, despite the dangers. By the 1860s the Jews, in fact, reestablished their majority in Jerusalem, well before the arrival of the British Empire. When the League of Nations decided to recognize the Jewish claim to a national home in 1922, it specifically recognized the pre-existing right of the Jewish people to what was to become British Mandatory Palestine. Israel Apartheid Week is a hypocritical initiative that ignores the apartheid practiced by the Palestinians themselves, who make the sale of land to Jews punishable by death. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    UN Inquiry Accused of Anti-Israel Bias - Ben Evansky (FOX News)

    • The controversial UN Goldstone Report that accused Israel of "war crimes" in Gaza is under fire for being biased. Nile Gardiner, a UN expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, says the so-called experts who helped write the report had already convicted Israel for war crimes before coming on board to investigate it.
    • Just last month, commission member Desmond Travers told the pro-Palestinian website Middle East Monitor that Hamas had only fired "something like two" rockets at Israel prior to the conflict in December 2008. Israeli says there were 125 rockets and 80 mortars.
    • Another member of the team, Christine Chinkin, published a letter in the Sunday Times of London during the height of the war joining others in accusing Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.
    • This weekend Francesca Marotta, a senior member of the UN staff that helped compile the Goldstone Report, was advertised as being the keynote speaker at a pro-Palestinian event in Switzerland.
    • Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Swiss based NGO UN Watch, noted a letter sent by commission members Judge Richard Goldstone, Hina Jilani, and Desmond Travers a full month before their appointment that protested Israel's actions in Gaza.

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