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April 21, 2010

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Iranian Missile Could "Probably" Reach U.S. by 2015 - Mike Emanuel (FOX News)
    "With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States by 2015," says a new report by the U.S. Department of Defense on the Iran military threat.
    Iran continues being a disruptive force inside Iraq, it alleges. "Iran continues to provide money, weapons and training to select Iraqi Shia militants despite pledges by senior Iranian officials to stop such support," the report says. "Iran also offers strategic and operational guidance to militias and terrorist groups to target U.S. forces in Iraq and undermine U.S. interests."
    The Tehran regime also makes big promises to the Afghan government, trying to appear to be a good neighbor, while it is sending weapons into the country, and backing a wide range of groups so "it will have a positive relationship with the eventual leaders."

Abbas Hospitalized Six Times in Recent Weeks - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, 75, has been hospitalized six times in Amman over the past three months, the London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi reported Tuesday.
    Unconfirmed reports say Abbas received treatment for heart problems.

U.S. Aid Cuts Hit Egypt's Democracy Groups - Hadeel Al-Shalchi and Lee Keath (AP)
    President Obama has cut funds to promote democracy in Egypt by around 50%, drawing accusations that the Obama administration is easing off reform pressure on the autocratic government of Egyptian President Mubarak to ensure its support on Mideast policy, including the peace process with Israel.
    "Obama wants change that won't make the Egyptian government angry," said Ahmed Samih, head of a Cairo-based organization that in 2005 used U.S. funds to monitor parliament elections. "And in the Egyptian context, that means there will be no change."
    The administration has made similar cuts in democracy aid to Jordan.

Arabs Protest "Disaster of Israel" with PA, Turkish Flags - Sharon Roffe-Ofir (Ynet News)
    A few hundred Arabs living in Israel marched Tuesday in commemoration of "the disaster of the establishment of the State of Israel," with some carrying Palestinian flags and others carrying Turkish flags.

Israel Prizes Awarded on Independence Day - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
    Prizes for personal or organizational achievement were awarded at the Israel Prize ceremony on Tuesday, an Independence Day tradition.
    The winners included Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny of the Hebrew University (earth sciences), Prof. Yair Aharoni, a founder of Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Management (administrative science), Prof. Avraham Nitzan of Tel Aviv U. (chemistry), Aryeh Sivan (poetry), Prof. Avishai Margalit of Princeton University, a professor emeritus at Hebrew U. (philosophy), Prof. Moshe Addad of Bar-Ilan University (criminology), Hanoch Bartov (literature), Prof. Avraham Tal of Tel Aviv U. (Hebrew linguistics), Peter Mirom (photography), Prof. Aryeh Levin of Hebrew U. (general linguistics), and Prof. Jonathan Gressel of the Weizmann Institute of Science (agricultural biotechnology).
    Lifetime achievement awards were given to Tel Aviv's Susan Delal Center for its contribution to dance arts, Negev pioneer and former education minister Aharon Yadin, ILAN - the Israel Foundation for Handicapped Children, and Druze community leader Kamal Mansour.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Boosts Qods Shock Troops in Venezuela - Bill Gertz
    Iran is increasing its paramilitary Qods force operatives in Venezuela while covertly continuing supplies of weapons and explosives to Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Pentagon's first report to Congress on Tehran's military. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Islamist shock troops deployed around the world to advance Iranian interests, "maintains operational capabilities around the world," the report says, adding that "it is well established in the Middle East and North Africa and recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela."
        "If U.S. involvement in conflict in these regions deepens, contact with the IRGC-QF, directly or through extremist groups it supports, will be more frequent and consequential," the report says. The report provides the first warning in an official U.S. government report about Iranian paramilitary activities in the Western Hemisphere. (Washington Times)
        See also Report on Military Power of Iran (U.S. Defense Department)
        See also Iran Seeks to Persuade Security Council Not to Back Tough Nuclear Sanctions - Thomas Erdbrink
    Iran is launching a broad diplomatic offensive aimed at persuading UN Security Council members to oppose tougher punishment for its nuclear program. Iran wants to focus on reviving stalled talks about a nuclear fuel swap, but leaders of Western nations say that unless Iran alters its conditions for the deal, they will refuse to discuss it again. Iran's official stance is that UN sanctions are not effective. But unofficially, any vote against a new sanctions resolution would be welcomed as a great diplomatic victory. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Warns Syria on Weapons Transfers - Andrew Quinn
    The U.S. summoned the senior Syrian diplomat in Washington on Monday to address "provocative behavior" regarding the potential transfer of Scud missiles to Hizbullah that it said could be a threat to both Lebanon and Israel. "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms, and especially ballistic missile systems such as the Scud, from Syria to Hizbullah," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said in a statement. (Reuters)
        See also Pentagon: Hizbullah's Fighters Rearm Thanks to Tehran - Viola Gienger
    Iran has helped the Lebanese militant group Hizbullah rearm itself to levels beyond those in 2006, according to a Pentagon report. Iran views Hizbullah ''as an essential partner for advancing its regional policy objectives,'' the Pentagon said. Israel intercepted a vessel in November carrying 60 tons of weapons for Hizbullah, including rockets and anti-tank shells, according to the report. Iran is also training Hizbullah fighters in camps in Lebanon and provides as much as $200 million a year in funding, the Pentagon said. (The Age-Australia)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rahm Emanuel: Now Is Not the Time for a New Mideast Peace Plan - Natasha Mozgovaya
    White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an interview on Monday that a new U.S. Mideast peace proposal isn't the correct move at this time. "A number of people have advocated that. That time is not now. The time now is to get back to the proximity talks [and] have those conversations that eventually will lead to direct negotiations, start to make the hard decisions to bring a balance between the aspirations of the Israelis for security and make that blend with the aspirations of the Palestinian people for their sovereignty," Emanuel said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Celebrates Independence Day - Hagai Einav
    On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of trekkers and barbequers celebrated at campsites, parks, and forests throughout Israel. The Israel Air Force flew over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and the Navy performed a naval review off of Israel's shores. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The False Religion of Mideast Peace and Why I'm No Longer a Believer - Aaron David Miller
    I can't tell you how many times in the past 20 years, as an intelligence analyst, policy planner, and negotiator, I wrote memos to Very Important People arguing the centrality of the Arab-Israeli issue and why the U.S. needed to fix it. Today, I couldn't write those same memos or anything like them with a clear conscience or a straight face. The notion that there's a single or simple fix to protecting U.S. interests, let alone that Arab-Israeli peace would, like some magic potion, make it all better, is just flat wrong. In a broken, angry region with so many problems, it stretches the bounds of credulity to the breaking point to argue that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most critical issue, or that its resolution would somehow guarantee Middle East stability.
        A brilliant, empathetic president has made America the focal point of action and responsibility for the Arab-Israeli issue at a time when the country may be least able to do much about it. The painful truth is that faith in America's capacity to fix the Arab-Israeli issue has always been overrated. It's certainly no coincidence that every breakthrough from the Egypt-Israel treaty to the Oslo accords to the Israel-Jordan peace agreement came initially as a consequence of secret meetings about which the U.S. was the last to know. The writer, an advisor on the Middle East to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. (Foreign Policy)
  • When Your Best Friend Gets Angry - Martin Indyk
    President Obama's demand that Israel freeze new building announcements in East Jerusalem for a few months underscores the growing divide between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government. At the heart of this disagreement lies a dramatic change in the way Washington perceives its own stake in the game. It actually began three years ago when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared in a speech in Jerusalem that U.S. "strategic interests" were at stake in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a judgment reiterated by Obama when he said resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict is a "vital national security interest" for the U.S. The writer, vice president and director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, served twice as U.S. ambassador to Israel. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Middle East Policy Mistakes - David Pryce-Jones
    President Obama is reported as saying that American policy towards Israel is "costing us significantly in blood and treasure." First mistake. It's the other way round, Israel is holding the front line against Iran whose power is spreading through the region via Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. If Israel was not holding the line, then the U.S. would face a most uncomfortable choice: either to tackle Iran head-on or concede that Pax Americana didn't work and it is time to withdraw from the Middle East with as little ignominy as possible.
        Obama goes on to conclude that Israeli-Palestinian peace holds the key to Middle East stability. Second mistake. If there was genuine peace tomorrow and a state of Palestine, it would make no difference to the Sunni-Shia divide, to the ambitions of Osama bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to the civil war in Yemen, to the sectarian conflict in Lebanon, to the hard-wired despots in Egypt and Syria, and so on and on.
        Obama also thinks that this projected state of Palestine is a practical proposition. Third mistake. The Palestinians are irremediably divided between Fatah and Hamas, and a state would trigger civil war to determine which faction would own it.
        Obama finally is weighing using his presidency to impose some solution on Israel. Fourth mistake. No such solution exists. Any attempt at imposition would oblige Israel to see its existence now an urgent issue of self-defense and survival. (National Review)
  • Confused on Iran - Editorial
    President Obama's official position on Iran is that "all options are on the table," including the use of force. But senior officials regularly talk down the military option in public - thereby undermining its utility even as an instrument of intimidation. A year-long attempt at engagement failed; now the push for sanctions is proceeding at a snail's pace. And what would sanctions accomplish? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Financial Times last week that "maybe...that would lead to the kind of good-faith negotiations that President Obama called for 15 months ago." Yet the notion that the hard-line Iranian clique now in power would ever negotiate in good faith is far-fetched.
        More likely - and desirable - would be a victory by the opposition Green movement in Iran's ongoing domestic power struggle. But the administration has so far shrunk from supporting sanctions, such as a gasoline embargo, that might heighten popular anger against the regime. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Netanyahu: Iran Can Be Stopped - George Stephanopoulos (ABC News)

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Good Morning America" on Sunday:

    • "The Palestinian demand is that we prevent Jews from building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. That is an unacceptable demand. If we made it in London or made it in New York or in Paris, people would cry foul. The issue of Jerusalem will be discussed in the final settlement negotiations. But to bring it forward...these neighborhoods are part and parcel of Jerusalem, they're not isolated hilltops in the West Bank....About 200,000 Israelis live there. The Ramat Shlomo neighborhood that was in the news was populated by Yitzhak Rabin. He wasn't against peace. Neither were all the other prime ministers. This demand that the Palestinians have now introduced to stop all Jewish construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem is totally, totally a nonstarter."
    • "If Iran attempts to develop atomic bombs...they could very well either use it or threaten to use it or threaten to give it to terrorists or even give them a crude device with fissionable material that can be put in a container ship. And this could come to Manhattan or to any port in the United States or in Europe or, for that matter, in Israel. It's a huge, huge danger. It's the biggest issue facing our times....The president has expressed his understanding of how serious a challenge it is. And we all should work together as world leaders to make sure that that challenge is met. That Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons."
    • "We have a lot less time with each day that passes. And the crucial thing is to use the time available for forceful international action led by the United States. If you can, go through the Security Council. If you can't, go outside the Security Council. But there are several ways to stop this. And if the international community led by the United States, or a community of concerned nations led by the United States, is seriously determined to stop it, this can be stopped."
    • "Our preference is that the international community, led by the United States, stop this nuclear weapons program. Having said that, you know, we're on the eve of Israel's Independence Day. And the fortunes of the Jewish people were such that we could never defend ourselves until we re-established the Jewish state. We paid a horrible price in the Holocaust and before the Holocaust. And of course there is a Jewish state now that always reserves the right to defend the Jewish nation."
    • "Those states who have signed the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) have violated it left and right. The problem in the Middle East is not this or that treaty or these or that signatories. The problem is those regimes that call directly for Israel's destruction are developing atomic weapons, weapons of mass death, to achieve that destruction. So it's not whether we sign or whether they sign and are signatories to it. It's how do we prevent these people, these states, these regimes, these leaders like Ahmadinejad, from acquiring nuclear weapons. That's the main focus of the international community. And that certainly should be the focus of everyone concerned with peace and security."
    • "I've been calling for peace talks from day one. I extended my hand to the Palestinians. I've done all these gestures for peace. Stopping the road blocks. Calling for a two-state solution. I'm waiting and eager for them to come back. If they're not asked to put aside all preconditions and negotiate, they're not going to do it."
    • "There is a big contest in the area, it's not merely here with the Palestinians. I think that's the minor part....There's a larger force of radical Islam that wants to eradicate peace. Wants to eradicate Israel. Wants to eradicate any American presence in the Middle East. They hate America because of what America stands for. They'll stop hating America only when America stops being America. When it stops espousing a free society, pluralism, open debate. That's what they despise. And in fact they don't hate America because of Israel. They hate Israel because of America. Because they see us as an outpost of that free, open civilization that you represent. And you know what? They're right. And to the extent that the American-Israeli relationship is close, to that extent militant Islam recedes. Everybody watching on the sidelines should understand that our partnership, along with moderate Arab states, will win out."

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