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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
February 8, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Concerns Grow over Egypt's WMD Research - Robert Windrem (NBC News)
    Egypt has quietly carried out research and development on weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, biological and missile technology over the past three decades.
    Egypt has carried out experiments in plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment, helped jump-start Saddam Hussein's missile and chemical weapons programs in Iraq, and worked with Kim Jong Il on North Korea's missile program.

Probe: Sinai Pipeline Blast Was Terror Attack (AP-Ha'aretz)
    The chief investigator into the gas terminal explosion in Egypt's Sinai says it was caused by four masked gunmen who set off a bomb.
    Judge Abdel Nasser el-Tayeb said in a report on Monday that the terminal's guards testified that the men stormed the terminal in two cars, briefly restrained the guards and then set off the explosives by remote control.

Egypt Tells Iran: Mind Your Own Business (AP)
    Egypt's foreign minister has told Iran to mind its own business after Iran's top leader praised the Egyptian uprising as an appropriate response to dictatorial rule.
    Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Saturday that Iran's Ali Khamenei seems to have forgotten about the crushing of widespread protests in Iran two years ago, and that Khamenei should be more attentive to calls for freedom in Iran.
    Aboul Gheit said that "Iran's critical moment has not come yet, but we will watch that moment with great anticipation and interest."

Saudi Arabia Contends with the Social Media Challenge - Joshua Teitelbaum (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Internet surveillance in Saudi Arabia appears to be quite widespread. Many of those involved in filtering are Saudi "U.S.-educated techies" who understand the idea of Internet freedom but don't think it applies to Saudi Arabia.

Israeli Soldiers Deliver, Save Palestinian Baby - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    An IDF paramedic and three army medics on Monday treated a Palestinian woman who went into labor near the Jordan Valley. The soldiers moved the woman to a military ambulance where she gave birth.
    The infant, who had difficulty breathing, was resuscitated and then evacuated to a Jerusalem hospital by helicopter.
    "These soldiers really fought to save the baby. It was very exciting to see them. They didn't give up and proved that there is no higher value than saving a life," said a military source present at the rescue.
    See also Palestinian Mother: Soldiers Reassured Me During Birth - Omri Efraim (Ynet News)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Cairo Demonstrations Hit Standstill as Mubarak Offers More Concessions - Craig Whitlock
    Egyptian President Mubarak sought to defuse a mass revolt by offering further concessions to an opposition movement that continued to jam Cairo's central Tahrir Square with tens of thousands of protesters. Mubarak's government announced a 15% pay raise for public employees and pensioners, about 6 million people. It also pledged a judicial investigation into allegedly corrupt dealings by former ministers and party officials. (Washington Post)
  • WikiLeaks: Suleiman on Dangers Posed by Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
    During a Feb. 8-9, 2006, visit to Egypt, FBI Director Robert Mueller met with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, who noted that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was "neither a religious organization, nor a social organization, nor a political party, but a combination of all three." The principal danger, in Suleiman's view, was the group's exploitation of religion to influence and mobilize the public.
        Suleiman asserted that the MB has spawned "11 different Islamist extremist organizations," most notably the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Gama'a Islamiya (Islamic Group). Suleiman termed the MB's recent success in the parliamentary elections as "unfortunate," adding his view that although the group was technically illegal, existing Egyptian laws were insufficient to keep the MB in check. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Muslim Brotherhood Eyes Comeback in Egypt - Ernesto Londono (Washington Post)
        See also Tide Turns in Favor of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - Samia Nakhoul (Reuters)
  • 11 Muslim Student Union Members Charged with Disrupting Israeli Ambassador's Speech at UC Irvine - Nicole Santa Cruz
    The Orange County, Calif., district attorney's office charged 11 students on Friday with conspiring to disrupt a meeting and speech at UC Irvine on Feb. 8, 2010, by Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren. In a statement, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said charges were filed because of an "organized attempt to squelch the speaker." He said the students "meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting."
        "We cannot tolerate a preplanned violation of the law, even if the crime takes place on a school campus and even if the defendants are college students. In our democratic society, we cannot tolerate a deliberate, organized, repetitive and collective effort to significantly disrupt a speaker who hundreds assembled to hear."  (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Anti-Israel Activists Hound Israeli Arab Diplomat - Jonny Paul
    A student organization has condemned a group of protesters who disrupted a talk at Edinburgh University in Scotland on Wednesday by Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli Bedouin diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The protesters surrounded the senior diplomat and hurled abuse at him. Security officers had to be brought in to contain the situation and the event was eventually canceled. "This isn't free speech; it is hatred, it is vandalism," Khaldi said Friday. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Egypt Could Fall into Hands of Radical Islamists - Jonathan Lis
    Egypt could fall into the hands of radical Islamists as a result of the country's uprising, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. "Egyptians can choose a state with secular reforms. However, there is also another possibility that the Islamists will exploit the situation in order to gain governance over the country and lead it backward." "The third possibility is that [Egypt] will go in the direction of Iran...and threaten all those surrounding it."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Zakheim: Anti-Missile Defenses 99 Percent Likely to Protect Israel Against Iranian Attack - Yaakov Katz
    Former U.S. undersecretary of defense Dov Zakheim said Monday that Israel's Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system, combined with U.S. Navy Aegis missile defense ships in the Mediterranean, would likely succeed in intercepting an Iranian missile fired at Israel. "There is less than a 1% chance that an Iranian missile will get through these defenses." Zakheim said that, in his opinion, Israel did not have to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Democracies Don't Happen Overnight - Richard Cohen
    The dilemma in Egypt is that there is a conflict between our long-held principles and our immediate self-interests. A democratic Egypt that abrogates its treaty with Israel and becomes hospitable to radical Islamists is not in our interests. Certain pro-democracy advocates in the Western media envision a transition period of months that will produce democratic bliss in the region. Not likely. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. and Israeli Concerns Over Egypt - Aaron David Miller
    By Israeli calculations, freedom in Egypt is bound to morph into venomous anti-Israeli attitudes and actions. Egypt's new leaders, whoever they are, will be beset by huge internal challenges, none of which could be diverted by confronting Israel. But there's no doubt that a new Egyptian government and president, more responsive to public opinion, will be far more critical of Israeli actions and policies.
        The inevitable hardening of Egyptian attitudes will not just constitute an Israeli problem but will pose significant concerns for Israel's major ally: the U.S. The old devil's bargain in which Washington relied on Cairo for support in its war and peacemaking policies, in exchange for giving Egypt a pass on how it is governed, is probably dead. On U.S. efforts to contain Iran, on the Middle East peace process, on the battle against terrorism and Islamic radicalism - especially if Egypt's own Islamists are part of the new governing structure - there is a great deal of uncertainty about how much cooperation we can expect.
        In this environment, to believe, as some analysts have argued, that any Israeli government would negotiate a conflict-ending agreement with the Palestinians to preempt further radicalization in the region is to believe in the peace-process tooth fairy. (Washington Post)
  • Dangerously Underestimating the Muslim Brotherhood - David Horovitz
    Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed Morsy insisted Thursday that the group opposed the use of violence. Without missing a beat, however, he went on to say that what was going on in Palestine was "resistance." And "resistance," he said, "is acceptable by all mankind."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: Muslim Brotherhood Still Committed to Violence - Dore Gold
    A lot of people underestimate the Muslim Brotherhood. It sounds like it's a fraternity in Vermont. The Muslim Brotherhood is the wellspring of most of the Islamic terrorism that we've been facing today, from Hamas to al-Qaeda.  (Fox News)

How to Encourage Democracy in Egypt - Leslie H. Gelb (Daily Beast)

  • Most of the American talkocracy is now so utterly intoxicated with protestocracy in Egypt, which they call democracy, that they outright neglect the enormous trials of getting from the streets to a real democracy - a process that lends itself to hijacking by extremists.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood jumps immediately to mind as hijackers, but don't overlook the potentially equal or greater threat to democracy from Egypt's beloved armed forces. The history of venomous domestic and foreign-policy pronouncements by the Muslim Brotherhood should keep us all awake at night.
  • I'd like to believe that, if I were an Egyptian, I would be in the streets with the protesters. I'd be mad as hell with Mubarak and would want to get rid of him as quickly as possible. But that wouldn't make me or my fellow mobsters democrats. Generally, one cannot count on mobs, no matter how nice or liberal, to produce democracies.
  • The best way to get from the streets of Cairo to some semblance of a constitutional government that ensures rights and freedoms is, of course, to get Mubarak and his lot to help with the transition from dictatorship to the desired end.
  • The policy trick for the U.S. is to try to "praise" Mubarak into saving his nation once again by turning over power to his subordinates, calling for an assembly to fix the worst parts of the present constitution, and holding supervised elections. This approach is far better than pretending that the protestocracy can somehow magically transform itself into a democratic government. They have no organized political parties and no experience with governing.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood promises democracy and nonviolence at home and not to Islamicize Egypt. Given their long history, it's simply naive to take them at their word.

    The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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