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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
February 10, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Terrorist Threat to U.S. at Most "Heightened State" since 9/11 - Peter Finn (Washington Post)
    The terrorist threat to the U.S. may be at its most "heightened state" since the 9/11 attacks, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates are placing increased emphasis on recruiting Americans and other Westerners to carry out attacks, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress on Wednesday.
    The House Committee on Homeland Security is planning hearings on the threat posed by domestic radicalization and a growing incidence of U.S. citizens or legal residents involved in terrorist plots.

WikiLeaks: Syria, Qatar Sabotage Israeli Prisoner Swap Deal (Ynet News)
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told U.S. General David Petraeus in June 2009 that Syria and Qatar sabotaged a deal that would have seen the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Norwegian media reported Wednesday.
    According to the report, based on a WikiLeaks document, Mubarak claimed that Syria and Qatar offered Hamas $50 million to keep Shalit in captivity in order to impede a prisoner swap deal brokered by Egypt.

Unrest Wipes Billions Off Arab Stock Exchanges - Sara Hamdan (New York Times)
    Arab stock exchanges lost nearly $50 billion in the last week of January alone as political unrest escalated in Tunisia and Egypt.

Could al-Qaeda Hijack Egypt's Revolution? - Kenneth M. Pollack (Wall Street Journal)
    Those who start revolutions are rarely those who end up in charge when the smoke clears and the barricades come down.
    It could be disastrous if the Muslim Brotherhood got to pick the next president of Egypt simply because it was the only organized party when elections were held.
    The writer is director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

IDF: Combat Motivation Breaking Records - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    According to the IDF's Personnel Directorate, in the March enlistment round, for the first time, 80% of physically-fit recruits asked to serve in combat units.
    A military source said, "These numbers reflect the desire of thousands of teens to become combatants - one should be proud."
    "The teens realize that despite the relative calm, we are facing hard conflicts and they must be there."
    Army service motivation has been on the rise for some years now.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Saudis Warned Obama Not to "Humiliate" Mubarak
    Saudi Arabia has threatened to prop up embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak if the Obama administration tries to force a swift change of regime in Egypt, the Times of London reported Thursday. In a testy personal telephone call on Jan. 29, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah reportedly told President Obama not to humiliate Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Egypt if the U.S. withdrew its aid program, worth $1.5 billion annually. "Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated," a senior Saudi source told the Times. (Fox News)
  • Protests, Strikes and Media Shift Intensify Pressure on Mubarak - Craig Whitlock and Leila Fadel
    In Cairo on Wednesday, masses of demonstrators succeeded in blockading the parliament building, after spilling over from Tahrir Square. Thousands of textile, steel and hospital workers staged strikes. State-run television and newspapers changed their tone virtually overnight and began reporting favorably about the demonstrations.
        Meanwhile, Vice President Omar Suleiman said protesters had a choice - either commit to a "dialogue" with the government or face the likelihood of a "coup." In addition, in an interview with "PBS NewsHour," Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said he was "often angry" and "infuriated" with the White House for its criticism of the Egyptian government. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt's Working Class Joins Anti-Government Revolt - Hannah Allam and Shashank Bengali (McClatchy)
  • Egypt Military in Power Grab Amid Unrest - Hamza Hendawi
    After two weeks of protests, Egypt's military now has four of its own in the nation's top government posts and thousands of its soldiers providing security in the streets. The military, already the country's most powerful institution, has taken advantage of the unrest to solidify its authority, using a combination of force and public relations to deliver what amounts to a soft coup. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Report: Egyptian Military Detains Hundreds of Government Opponents - Chris McGreal
    The Egyptian military has secretly detained hundreds and possibly thousands of government opponents since mass protests against President Mubarak began, and at least some of these detainees have been tortured, according to testimony gathered by the Guardian. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Egypt's Power Players - Daniel Williams
    On Feb. 3, military police in their characteristic red berets raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, an Egyptian human rights organization. The military men leading the operation didn't act neutral. In Egypt, the military is not a profession; it's a ruling caste. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Egypt's Military-Industrial Complex - Ken Stier (TIME)
  • Gazans on Facebook: "We're Sick of Bearded Guys with Guns Abusing Their Power" - Jon Donnison
    As Egypt's unrest continues, in neighboring Gaza an online manifesto for change has struck a chord with the young population. Posted online in December, the Gaza Youth Manifesto for Change now has over 19,000 followers on the group's Facebook page under the name Gaza Youth Breaks Out. The manifesto's opening salvo is a series of expletives directed at Hamas, Israel, Fatah, the UN, and the U.S. "Young people here are ready to explode. They go to college, they graduate with no opportunity of any job at the end, except working for Hamas," says Mukhaimer Abu Sada, professor of political science at al-Azhar University in Gaza.
        The manifesto is also extremely critical of Hamas: "We're sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in." In the past two weeks, there have been calls issued on Facebook sites for pro-democracy demonstrations in Gaza against Hamas. But so far any protests have been very small and quickly broken up by Hamas police. (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Officials Emphasize Commitment to Israel Security
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilone at the White House Wednesday where they emphasized the U.S. commitment to Israel's security and its qualitative military edge in the region. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Paying Salaries to Hamas Men in Israel's Prisons - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The PA revealed on Wednesday that it was paying monthly salaries to Hamas prisoners held in Israeli jails. The PA spends millions of dollars in payments to Hamas prisoners, said Ziad Abu Ein, deputy minister for prisoner affairs. His remarks came in response to allegations by Hamas that the PA had cut off salaries to Hamas prisoners who had been released from Israeli jails. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt's Khomeini - Lee Smith
    While the parallels between Iran in 1979 and Egypt in 2011 can be overdrawn, the Egyptians already have their own prospective Khomeini: Yussuf al-Qaradawi, the Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood preacher who exiled himself from Egypt in 1961. Qaradawi hosts one of the region's most famous talk-shows on Al Jazeera, "Sharia and Life." While condemning Sept. 11, he supported suicide bombers in Israel. His public support for violence, combined with the fact that he is a principal shareholder in and adviser to the al-Qaeda-associated Bank al-Taqwa in Switzerland, led to him being banned from entering the U.S. in 1999.
        Here is Qaradawi speaking about the Holocaust on January 30, 2009: "Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them - even though they exaggerated this issue - he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers."  (Tablet)
  • What Israel Fears in Egypt - Sallai Meridor
    It is not a democratic Egypt that Israelis fear but the prospect of Egypt being hijacked by enemies of democracy, of Israel and of the U.S. Should the government of Hosni Mubarak be replaced by one not truly committed to freedom and peace, the consequences for Israel could be devastating. Since the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, there has not been even one war between Israel and Arab states. Yet if the peace with Egypt dissolves, the risks to the Jewish state and its citizens cannot be overstated. If Israel's western neighbor turns hostile, where would that leave our eastern neighbor, Jordan? The writer was Israel's ambassador to the U.S. from 2005 to 2009. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Braces for a New Egypt - Richard Boudreaux and Joshua Mitnick (Wall Street Journal)
  • No Room at Table for Muslim Brotherhood - Jeff Jacoby
    Islamists may run for office and hold themselves out as democrats; but once power is in their grasp, they do not voluntarily relinquish it. Just months after Hamas, a self-described "wing of the Muslim Brotherhood," won a majority of seats in the Palestinian elections in 2006, it violently seized control of Gaza.
        If Egypt is to have any hope of a transition to a genuine constitutional democracy, the Muslim Brotherhood must not be treated as a legitimate democratic partner. Its credo could hardly be more explicit, or more antidemocratic: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." This week, senior Brotherhood figure Kamal al-Halbavi said his wish for Egypt is "a good government like the Iranian government, and a good president like Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is very brave."  (Boston Globe)

What Will Become of Israel If Mubarak Falls? - Amos Harel (Guardian-UK)

  • If Hosni Mubarak's regime collapses, it could endanger the peace agreements Israel has with Jordan and Egypt. In the longer run, the new reality on its southern border may also require structural military changes and place an extra burden on the Israeli economy.
  • While recognizing the basic American inclination to back a popular freedom struggle, Jerusalem has reservations about the American tendency to see events in Cairo as an Arabic version of the Boston tea party.
  • Israel believes that, if Mubarak falls, the Muslim Brotherhood - the only organized force within the Egyptian opposition - will be first to exploit the confusion and seize power.
  • Seared in Israeli memory is a fresh precedent: in January 2006 parliamentary elections were held in the Palestinian territories, under pressure from President George W. Bush. Today a radical Islamist regime is in control of Gaza, much more repressive than the Mubarak regime and very hostile to Israel.
  • If Mubarak is overthrown it could damage the status of the international peacekeeping force in Sinai and lead to a refusal by Egypt to allow movement of Israeli military submarines and ships in the Suez Canal, employed in the last two years as a deterrent against Iran and to combat weapons-smuggling from the Red Sea to Gaza.

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