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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
February 16, 2011

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Israel Approves More Egyptian Troops in Sinai - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Israel has agreed to a second limited deployment of Egyptian troops to secure the demilitarized north Sinai, where suspected sabotage has disrupted gas supply from Egypt, an Israeli official said on Wednesday.
    Yediot Ahronot reported that 700 Egyptian soldiers had been deployed in recent days, beefing up some 800 troops there since Jan. 30.

The Voice of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - Alexander Smoltczyk (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    Muslim televangelist Youssef al-Qaradawi, 84, the father figure of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, says what the Brotherhood in Egypt thinks. Al-Jazeera television has been broadcasting Qaradawi's program "Shariah and Life" every Sunday for the past 15 years to some 60 million Muslims.
    Qaradawi advocates establishing a "United Muslim Nations" as a contemporary form of the caliphate and the only alternative to the hegemony of the West. He hates Israel and would love to take up arms himself. In one of his sermons, he asked God "to kill the Jewish Zionists, every last one of them."
    Former Egyptian President Nasser imprisoned Qaradawi three times because of his Islamist activities, and in 1961 he went into exile in Qatar.

Bedouin Smugglers Abuse Africans Held for Ransom, Israel Group Says - Dina Kraft (New York Times)
    About 1,000 African migrants trying to cross the Sinai Desert from Egypt into Israel have been systematically beaten, raped and held captive for ransom in the past year by the Bedouin smugglers they hired to help them make the journey, the Israeli Hotline for Migrant Workers advocacy organization said Tuesday.
    A new report depicts a network of torture camps where the migrants, mostly Eritrean, are sometimes held for months in abusive conditions, while their Bedouin captors press their families abroad to send thousands of dollars in ransom money.
    About 33,000 Africans, most of them migrant workers seeking better economic prospects, have crossed into Israel from Egypt since 2005, including 13,600 last year.

Israel Closes Four Foreign Missions Due to Terror Threats - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
    Israel temporarily closed four of its diplomatic missions abroad in recent days because of suspicions that they were under threat of attack, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.
    The precautions were taken after "unusual occurrences were identified recently around a few missions abroad," the Israeli government said in a statement.
    The Israeli Counter-Terrorism Bureau had issued a travel advisory on Friday warning of a heightened threat against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad because of anniversaries this week of the deaths of two senior Hizbullah figures.
    It listed Egypt, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania and Venezuela as countries with a heightened risk.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility Recovered Quickly from Stuxnet Cyberattack - Joby Warrick
    In a six-month period between late 2009 and last spring, UN officials watched via a network of surveillance cameras as Iran dismantled more than 10% of the Natanz plant's 9,000 centrifuge machines used to enrich uranium. Then hundreds of new machines arrived to replace the ones that were lost.
        IAEA's files show an apparently successful effort by Iranian scientists to contain the damage and replace broken parts, even while constrained by international sanctions banning Iran from purchasing nuclear equipment. An IAEA report due for release this month is expected to show steady or even slightly elevated production rates at the Natanz enrichment plant over the past year.
        "While it [the Stuxnet worm] has delayed the Iranian centrifuge program at the Natanz plant in 2010 and contributed to slowing its expansion, it did not stop it or even delay the continued buildup of low-enriched uranium," the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said in a draft report. (Washington Post)
  • Panel of Jurists Tasked with Revising Egypt's Constitution - David D. Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim
    Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the Egyptian defense minister acting as chief of state, on Tuesday appointed a panel of eight experts led by Tareq el-Bishri, a retired senior judge and leading critic of the Mubarak government, to revise the country's Constitution. The panel includes Sobhi Saleh, an Alexandria appeals lawyer and former member of Parliament who is a prominent figure of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was released recently from an Egyptian intelligence prison. At least one other member of the panel, Maher Samy Youssef, another judge, is a Coptic Christian. (New York Times)
  • Iran Cracks Down on New Protests - Omid Memarian
    The Iranian protesters who came out Monday found that the riot police had changed their tactics, disguising themselves as young protesters. "The Basijis [militia] were unrecognizable," a journalist said. "They went among the people and all of a sudden they would take someone by the hand and pull him on the ground. Unlike the last times, when they sported beards, they had styled hair and wore stylish clothes." The moment people stopped marching and formed a group, riot police came out, according to eyewitness accounts. And the moment they started chanting, there seemed to be more police than demonstrators.
        "American-backed autocracies, like Mubarak's Egypt, are more vulnerable than anti-American dictatorships like Iran, for they are subject to the scrutiny of American politics and public opinion," said Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment, a Washington-based think tank. "Iran can slaughter its people without worrying that China or Russia is going to hold it accountable or withhold aid money." And there are no live Internet streams, as there was in Egypt, making sure the world is watching. (Daily Beast)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Defense Minister Barak: Egypt's Revolt Has No Military Repercussions - Hagai Einav
    Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed Egypt-Israeli relations on Tuesday, saying that the peace treaty will remain unaffected. "At this point, the events that occurred don't have any military repercussions," he said. (Ynet News)
  • Jordan: Killer of Seven Israeli Girls Won't Be Released - Herb Keinon
    Jordan relayed messages to Israel that there were no plans to release Ahmed Daqamseh, a Jordanian soldier who gunned down seven Israeli schoolgirls on a class trip to the "Island of Peace" in the Jordan Valley in 1997, diplomatic officials said Tuesday. On Monday, Jordan's new justice minister, Hussein Mjali, joined protesters in Amman calling for the terrorist's release. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Future of a Democratic Egypt - Condoleezza Rice
    The Muslim Brotherhood represents the most organized political force in Egypt. Mubarak always said that the choice was between him and the Brotherhood, and he pursued policies that fulfilled that prophecy. While many decent, more secular political leaders were harassed and jailed by the regime, the Brotherhood organized in the mosques and provided social services the regime could not. It will take time to level the playing field. Egyptians are not Iranians, and it is not 1979. Egypt's institutions are stronger and its secularism deeper. The United States should support the forces of democracy, not because they will be friendlier to us but because they will be friendlier to their own people. The writer was secretary of state from 2005 to 2009. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt's Agonizing Choice - Mikhail Gorbachev (International Herald Tribune)
  • Egypt and Iran: Why Tehran's Thugs Will Be Harder to Depose than Hosni Mubarak - Editorial
    Chanting "Death to the dictator!," tens of thousands turned out in Tehran, Shiraz and other Iranian cities Monday to demand political change, the biggest protests in 14 months, but revolution will be harder in Iran than in Egypt and Tunisia. The regime in Tehran feels zero compunction or shame about repressing political opponents, while Mubarak and Egypt's military, dependent on U.S. aid and support, were susceptible to outside pressure to shun violence. Iran's military is too marginalized to play honest broker as the armed forces did in Tunisia and Egypt. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps holds the real police power in Iran as well as huge stakes in the economy.
        The revolution will come to Iran eventually. Iranians are overwhelmingly young and pro-American, and they hate their anti-American regime. But in the meantime, the U.S. and its allies need a far tougher strategy of isolation, pressure, and louder and more active support for Iran's democrats. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Egypt Is Not Iran - Mordechai Nisan
    As Arabs, the Egyptians oppose the Persians; as Sunnis, they revile the Shiites. Iran has become the enemy of Egypt and a threat to its regional strategic interests. Syria's bolting from the Arab world for friendship with Iran, and Lebanon succumbing to Iran, are odious signs for the Egyptians. The fundamentalist Islamic regime in Tehran is at variance with Egypt's political culture and threatening to its national interests.
        Iran saw the political earthquake in Egypt as vindicating the power of Islam and the spread and unification of a single Muslim empire across the region. But the Egyptian people are not going to submit to an Iranian script and leadership. The writer recently retired from teaching Middle East Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
  • Bin Laden's Nightmare in Egypt - Shibley Telhami
    The power and pride that the peaceful masses exhibit in the streets of Cairo are Bin Laden's worst nightmare. Peaceful masses, not the murder of innocents, overthrew a regime most thought was entrenched. Al-Qaeda leaders, including second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor, told the Arab people to take on the seemingly overwhelming power of the state with bloody attacks against its symbols. The al-Qaeda leadership insisted that militant Islam was the way. Al-Qaeda may remain a force, but after events in Tunisia and Egypt its public appeal will ring hollow.
        The most important national security threat to the U.S. remains al-Qaeda and its allies; and the outcome of the Egyptian uprising will have a decided bearing on energizing or weakening these groups and their message. The writer is Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. (Politico)

The Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Under Field Marshal Tantawi: A Recipe for Revolution or More of the Same? - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Egypt is ruled today by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, under the leadership of Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi. The country is now ruled under military law, something which the masses did not expect and which does not fit in with the idea of democratic reform.
  • WikiLeaks documents describe the Egyptian military as a parallel economy, a kind of "Military Inc." Military-owned companies, often run by retired generals, are active in water, olive oil, cement, construction (building roads and airports), hotel and gasoline industries. The military produces televisions and milk and bread.
  • Egypt has become a firm ally of the U.S. since the end of the 1970s, assisting it in many facets of its anti-terrorist policy. Tantawi himself and his troops fought alongside American troops in Operation Desert Shield in Iraq in 1990.
  • At 76, Tantawi is no revolutionary. He and his colleagues have a lot to lose if they accede to actual demands for change. A transformation of the regime into a civilian democratic regime will not be viable for the military, and he will likely try his best to maintain the advantages his class has always enjoyed.
  • In the strategic field, it seems that Tantawi will remain loyal to Egypt's American ally, even though he may have to rethink the totality of the country's commitment in view of the behavior of the U.S. administration toward Mubarak.

    Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

        See also The Revolutionaries' Gamble on Egypt's Future - Thanassis Cambanis
    The Egyptian revolutionaries have asked a military dictatorship to manage the transition in the hope that a committee of unelected generals who have spent a career defending Mubarak's order will now willingly write themselves out of power. (Atlantic Monthly)

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