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December 3, 2010

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WikiLeaks: Turkey Allowed Passage of Supplies for Iran's Nuclear Program (AFP-Financial Times-UK)
    Speaking in October 2009 after a meeting with Israeli counterparts, a French diplomat told the Americans of "profound disquiet among the Israelis about Turkey."
    "He reported that the Israelis claimed the Turks have allowed weapons-related material for Iran's nuclear program to transit Turkey, with Prime Minister Erdogan's full knowledge."
    In an apparent reply, the U.S. told Turkey in February that Turkish companies planned to export arms to Iran. It also noted a proposed transaction involving an Iranian group under sanction for links to the nuclear program.
    Any arms sales to Iran, or such dealings, would violate a UN Security Council resolution.

WikiLeaks: The Iran-Al-Qaeda Connection - Thomas Joscelyn (Weekly Standard)
    A WikiLeaks cable recounts a meeting on Sep. 5, 2009, between President Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, and Saudi Prince Nayif bin Abdulaziz, the kingdom's longtime interior minister.
    "Nayif complained that over the past two years Iran has hosted Saudis (all Sunnis) - including Osama bin Laden's son Ibrahim - who had contacts with terrorists and worked against the Kingdom."
    The Saudis released a list of their 85 most wanted terrorists in February 2009. Dozens were operating either inside Iran, or close to the Iranian border in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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WikiLeaks: In Iraq, a Very Busy Iran - Sam Dagher (Wall Street Journal)
    Leaked U.S. diplomatic cables provide new details on how Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps has promoted Tehran's influence in Iraq since 2003.
    The leadership of the Qods Force - the Guards' paramilitary and espionage arm - "took advantage of the vacuum" in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's fall to send operatives into Iraq when "little attention was focused on Iran," according to an April 2009 dispatch from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
    Early priorities for the Iranian operatives included assassinating former Iraqi fighter pilots who flew sorties against Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, according to a December 2009 dispatch. As of the end of last year 180 pilots had been killed.
    But Iran's broader goals have been the establishment of "an economically dependent and politically subservient Iraq."
    Since 2003, Qods Force commander Brig. Gen. Qasim Soleimani has been "the point man directing the formulation and implementation" of the Iranian government's Iraq policy "with authority second only" to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
    The Iranian commander also "enjoys longstanding close ties" with several top Iraqi officials such as President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
    A November 2009 cable says Iran hands out cash payments to "Iraqi surrogates," which include some of the political parties currently in power.
    Tehran's financial assistance is estimated at $100-200 million a year, with an estimated $70 million going to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) party, which was based in Iran before Hussein's fall.

Lebanon's Problems Are Made in Tehran - Lee Smith (Weekly Standard)
    With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tour of Lebanon two months ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran effectively declared that the tiny country of 4.1 million is nothing more than an Iranian victory garden, to be chewed up in the next round of war between Israel and Iran's Lebanese surrogate, Hizbullah.
    By his recent trip to Tehran, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has shown that if you want to contest the fate of Lebanon, as with so much else in the Middle East these days, the doors to knock on are in Tehran.
    The Islamic Republic of Iran can only be encouraged when it looks at Lebanon. Its investment in Hizbullah is paying handsome dividends, and the Khomeinist revolution goes from strength to strength.

Correction: As readers noted, "A 63-Year Search for Mideast Peace" by Michael B. Oren in Thursday's Daily Alert contained an error. 1 percent of the American population is 3 million, not 30 million, as appeared on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Huge Israeli Forest Fire Kills 36 Israeli Guards Racing to Save Palestinian Prisoners
    The worst forest fire in Israel's history on Thursday devastated the Carmel forest in Israel's Galilee, killing at least 36 guards on their way to rescue inmates at a prison in the fire zone, destroying homes and forcing the evacuation of thousands. Most of the 41 dead were students on the Prison Service's guards' course racing through the fire toward a prison to evacuate the inmates, most of them Palestinians. A tree fell across the road, blocking their bus. Some guards were burned alive inside, while others died as they tried to flee. (AP-Ha'aretz)
        See also Video: Israel Battles Biggest Wildfire in Its History (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Haifa Police Chief Critically Injured in Fire - Fadi Eyadat
    The head of the Haifa Police Department, Deputy Commander Ahuva Tomer, was critically injured in the fire on Thursday. She was in a car behind the bus full of prison guards that burned up in the flames. (Ha'aretz)
        See also International Community Sends Help in Fighting Fire - Yaakov Lappin
    The first of 23 international aircraft carrying firefighters, supplies and fire retardant chemicals landed in Israel Friday morning. According to Army Radio, in addition to four Greek aircraft, four aircraft are expected to arrive from France, three from Britain, two from Spain, two from Russia, two from Turkey, two from Cyprus, two from Bulgaria, one from Croatia and one from Azerbaijan. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also NY Mayor Bloomberg, U.S. Forest Service Send Fire Retardant to Israel - Jordana Horn (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu Thanks Turkey's Erdogan for Aid - Attila Somfalvi
    Netanyahu also thanked other world leaders, including Bulgaria's prime minister and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who sent "a very large Russian plane, perhaps the largest of its kind in the world."  (YnetNews)
  • WikiLeaks: Egypt May Seek Atomic Arms If Iran Does - Alexander Dziadosz and Marwa Awad
    President Hosni Mubarak warned U.S. officials that Egypt might develop nuclear arms if Iran obtained atomic weapons, WikiLeaks cables showed. A May 2008 cable quoted Mubarak saying "we are all terrified" about a nuclear Iran. "Mubarak said that Egypt might be forced to begin its own nuclear weapons program if Iran succeeds in those efforts." A July 2009 cable quotes Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman saying Egypt was wary of Iran's influence through its Hizbullah and Hamas proxies and its support "for Egyptian groups like (al-Gama'a al-Islamiya) and the Muslim Brotherhood."  (Reuters)
  • WikiLeaks: Lebanon Defense Chief Worked with U.S. Against Hizbullah - Borzou Daragahi and Meris Lutz
    U.S. officials collaborated with Lebanon's defense minister to spy on Hizbullah and allow Israel to potentially attack Hizbullah in the weeks that preceded a violent May 2008 military confrontation in Beirut that consolidated that group's power in the country, leaked diplomatic cables suggest. The American military flew planes over Lebanon in 2008 to identify Hizbullah positions and provide the information to friendly elements within the Lebanese government, specifically the Ministry of Defense.
        In a separate American cable, Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr is described as giving American diplomats advice to pass on to Israel for any Israeli attack on Hizbullah and vowing that the Lebanese army would stay out of such a fight. A cable depicts Murr as saying that the Lebanese army's "strategic objective was to survive a three-week war 'completely intact' and able to take over once Hizbullah's militia has been destroyed." Murr, a member of Lebanon's Christian community, told the Americans that Israel should avoid conducting attacks in southern Lebanon now patrolled by thousands of international troops and not "bomb bridges and infrastructure in the Christian areas."  (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Eyewitness Accounts of the Fire - Adi Sardas
    "The sights were horrifying, a true apocalypse. I saw flames as high as 50 meters," said Magen David Adom ambulance driver Pninit Boyev. IDF paramedic Daria Nicolyenko was called to the site where the Prison Service bus was burned. "I saw dozens of bodies lying on the ground, and I realized no one survived. It was horrifying." A Prison Service course cadet from Kiryat Ata, Shlomi Cohen, was lightly hurt and hospitalized at Rambam Hospital. "He hasn't stopped crying about his dead friends," said his father, Avi. "He's crying and crying nonstop. Almost the entire course is gone. He said there are only three or four survivors."  (Ynet News)
  • Possible Syrian Nuke Facility Identified by Satellite - Yaakov Katz
    A compound in western Syria with buildings and hundreds of missile-shaped items has been identified as functionally related to a nuclear reactor Israel destroyed northeast of Damascus in 2007. Satellite footage of the site in Masyaf was obtained by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. Several years ago, a military base near Masyaf was mentioned as a possible hiding place for weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein might have sent to Syria before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. ISIS head David Albright told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the site could be a military storage facility. "We have identified one site and learned the approximate locations of three other sites as well," Albright said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • WikiLeaks Shattered Accepted Dogma in the Middle East - Ari Shavit
    WikiLeaks has shattered the accepted dogma that the main problem in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and if we just stop the settlements, the conflict will be solved and the Middle East will be stable. This was the truth they swore to in the White House and they reported in the Washington Post. The secret documents that WikiLeaks published proved that the world they were talking about was an imaginary world. They revealed that the entire Arab world is currently busy with one problem only - Iran. The cables proved that the West is contaminated by political correctness that cuts it off from the diplomatic reality.
        The confidential e-mails say there is no chance for the current diplomatic process. There is no chance of signing an Israeli-Palestinian agreement as long as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is living under the menacing shadow of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There is no chance of regional peace as long as the Arab world is living under Tehran's incessant threat. As long as Iran is growing stronger, is seeking nuclear weapons and is terrorizing the Middle East, there is no chance for peace.
        If Iran develops nuclear weapons, peace will disappear. A nuclear Iran will deal a final blow to the chance of achieving a compromise between Israelis and Arabs. Therefore the dove of peace has to be extremely hawkish toward Iran. The peace-seeker must deal with Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • WikiLeaks: Has Disclosure of Arab Views on Iran's Nuclear Plans Made a Military Strike More Likely? - Alan Dershowitz
    The disclosure that virtually every Arab country, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, would favor a military attack, as a last resort, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons could have a discernible effect on the policies of several countries. Israel, of course, has long insisted that the military option be kept on the table. The disclosure that North Korea has delivered missiles to Iran may well frighten European countries into considering the option of military action, if sanctions don't work.
        It is a mistake to believe that there can be real peace in the Middle East with an Iranian nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Israel. Even if Israel were to continue the settlement freeze and negotiate borders with the Palestinian Authority, the Iranians could ruin any prospect of permanent peace by unleashing Hizbullah and Hamas - which oppose any peace with Israel - to target Israeli civilians.
        President Obama understated the threat when he said a nuclear Iran would be "a game changer." It would be a disaster, threatening Middle East peace, putting an end to any hope of nuclear non-proliferation, and engendering the greatest arms race in modern history. (Guardian-UK)
  • WikiLeaks and the Arabs - Shibley Telhami
    While WikiLeaks showed the extent to which Arab leaders almost universally worry about rising Iranian influence, their attitudes toward military action were far from unanimous. Israel's Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, reportedly worried about Qatar's cozying up with Iran, so much so that he recommended that the U.S. close the American base there. Most of Jordan's and Egypt's expressed concerns focused on Iranian influence and meddling in Arab affairs, particularly in their neighborhoods.
        But the biggest gap in the recent coverage of the story has been in understanding Arab public opinion toward Iran and how this affects government calculations. In fact, Iran has the ability to play the Arab-public-opinion card and reach out to groups that threaten the control of Arab governments. And there is evidence that they have succeeded in doing just that, even beyond the rising power of their allies, particularly Hizbullah in Lebanon.
        Last August, I released the 2010 Arab public opinion poll results, which indicated that Arabs were more open to Iran's nuclear program, including the possibility of nuclear-weapons production, than ever before. In an open question about the world leader Arabs admired most, Ahmadinejad was chosen by 12% - third place after Erdogan and Chavez. When those polled were asked to identify the two states that posed the biggest threat to them: 88% identified Israel, 77% the U.S. and 10% Iran. The writer is Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution. (National Interest)
  • 14 Centuries of Bad Blood between Arabs and Iranians - John Limbert
    Iranians are justly proud of their imperial history and of maintaining a distinct identity for more than 2,500 years. Iranians are proud of their national language, their literature, and their achievements in science, scholarship, and the arts. Arabs have a similar pride in their ancient civilization, their traditions, and their language. Too often, however, this pride has become chauvinism and has made each side look down on the other and denigrate its achievements and civilization. To many Arabs, the Iranians were arrogant, luxury-loving fire-worshippers and pagans until the Arabs brought them the enlightened message of Islam.
        The Arab states of the Persian Gulf are traditional monarchies dominated by ruling families; the Islamic Republic of Iran is a revolutionary, populist state with republican forms resting on a theocratic base that rejects monarchs as illegitimate. The writer, a former hostage in Iran and professor of Middle Eastern studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. (Foreign Policy)

    Weekend Features

  • Israeli Device Lets Paralyzed People Stand, Walk - Aron Heller
    When Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer was paralyzed in a car crash in 1997, he went on a quest to help other victims walk again. He invented "ReWalk," a device helping paralyzed patients stand and walk. An alternative to the wheelchair, "ReWalk" involves robotic "pants" that use sensors and motors to allow paralyzed patients to stand, walk and even climb stairs. After several years of clinical trials in Israel and the U.S., "ReWalk" will go on sale in January to rehabilitation centers around the world.
        The 35-pound device, worn outside of clothing, consists of leg braces outfitted with motion sensors and motorized joints that respond to subtle changes in upper-body movement and shifts in balance. A harness around the patient's waist and shoulders keeps the suit in place, and a backpack holds the computer and rechargeable 3 1/2-hour battery. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Israel Police Wrap Up Mission in Haiti - Yaakov Lappin
    When the 14-member Israel Police delegation arrived in Haiti 3 1/2 months ago at the invitation of the UN, the officers hoped their main job would be to protect residents and help rebuild a local police force. They did other things, too. "Every time we enter a refugee camp, small children with injuries approach us, and our medic treats them, though we are not medics," Supt. Ron Krig, 33, deputy head of the delegation, said Tuesday. "A boy told us his family didn't have the $30 for the annual school fee. We paid for his and friend's fee. These are small things," said Krig. "We give the schoolboys our food, which they sell to others and use the money to pay for notebooks and school uniforms."
        "The love for the State of Israel among the local population never waned. The children who were treated by Israeli medics or given water by the officers remember who helped them. Everywhere you go, when you say you're from Israel, you are showered with warmth." He also noted the warm relations between the Israeli and Italian police delegations, which share a base in Port-au-Prince. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Soldiers Who Maintain Gaza's Security Fence - Anshel Pfeffer
    A small group of IDF technician-combat soldiers who are responsible for maintaining and repairing the Gaza security fence work mostly under cover of darkness. The soldiers are exposed to fire more than any other unit. Every time an incident takes place near or at the fence, a Kometz squad of the Ordnance Corps must check whether the fence sustained damage and repair it. The "smart fence" combines optic fibers and advanced sensory systems, backed up by radar.
        "The soldiers in the squad are on the one hand computer and high-tech experts for all intents and purposes - with a large percentage of the inspections of the fence being done with laptops connected to the system," says Warrant Officer Ran Shlomo. "On the other hand, we're also combat soldiers who work with a helmet and a ceramic flak jacket all the time, and who also know how to return fire when necessary." Since the end of the 2009 Gaza operation, the Palestinians have been unable to infiltrate the fence even once without being caught. In the vast majority of cases, terrorists were caught on surveillance cameras or radar several hundred meters before the fence.
        "On the Gaza border there is almost no depth, because of the proximity of Palestinian homes to the fence and the proximity of the Israeli communities on the other side," explains a senior officer in the Gaza division. "That's why the fence is such a critical component. There are advanced systems on it that don't exist on any other border of the country."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Bird Watchers Find Heaven in "Superhighway" Israel - Jon Donnison
    Bird migration is big in Israel. Per square kilometer, the country has one of the highest levels of bird traffic in the world. Every autumn, over 500 million birds cross Israel's airspace, heading south to warming weather in Africa. "Israel sits on the junction of three continents," says Dr. Yossi Leshem, director of Israel's International Center for the Study of Bird Migration. "Politically, it's a disaster, but for bird migration, it's heaven. We have a huge bird bottleneck, a superhighway."
        Many birds flying south from Northern Europe and Asia to Africa want to avoid the Mediterranean and Caspian seas and are therefore funneled down over Israel. Hundreds of different species cross the region every autumn. In the spring, they head back the other way. (BBC News)
        See also Migration Watch Saves Israeli Jets from Bird Strike
    The Jewish state combines one of the world's biggest air forces, busy commercial aviation traffic, a tiny air space and one of the busiest bird migration routes on the globe. From 1990 to 2000, 130 fighter aircraft from the air forces of 10 countries crashed and 41 pilots were killed due to collisions with birds, according to the International Bird Strike Committee, an expert group on military and civil flight safety.
        During the entire migration period from August to October a network of ground observers - volunteer ornithologists with binoculars and telescopes - is deployed every 2.5 km. across the entire width of the country. They count the birds flying over, log species, altitude and direction, and alert the authorities of big concentrations. These volunteer "flight-controllers" are supported by counts from glider planes and even military drones. Together with the results of radar and satellite tracking, an exact and up-to-the-minute information network can be established. (Reuters-New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Waiting for Abbas to Tell His People the Truth - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Knesset on Wednesday:

    • "What has become very clear in the last few weeks and days, and cannot be ignored, is that the origin of the problem of instability in the Middle-East is first of all Iran....What we are discovering now is that today there is a much broader agreement among world leaders and diplomatic bodies and among strategists that the largest threat to world peace and peace in this region is currently a nuclear Iran."
    • "We are making attempts to advance the political process. I cannot guarantee that we will be successful, but I promise that we will continue trying and I hope we succeed. For us to succeed, we need a partner for a responsible peace, not the kind of peace in which you throw down your protective vest, rifle and all your defenses, shut your eyes and hope for the best. We want to see security measures and a basic recognition of the right of the Jewish people to a state of its own."
    • "I am waiting for Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] to tell his people the truth. A few days ago I heard that the Palestinian Information Ministry was publishing a study that claims that the Jewish people has no connection to the Western Wall....I am trying to envision what the reaction would be...if the Israeli government were to say that Islam has no ties to Mecca, or that Christianity and the Vatican are not linked."
    • "I say to Abu Mazen to condemn this, denounce the study, turn to your people and tell them: 'There is a Jewish people here, it has been here for close to 4,000 years, we recognize this people, we recognize their historic bond with this land and this city.'"
    • "Israel is not hindering the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it is the PA who is unwilling to stand up and say to its people the truth, the need for true compromise."

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