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August 15, 2011

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Iran to Fund New Syrian Military Base - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran has agreed to fund a new multi-million-dollar military base at Latakia on the Syrian coast to make it easier to ship weapons between the two countries, according to Western intelligence reports.
    The aim of the agreement is to open a supply route that will enable Iran to transfer military hardware directly to Syria.
    Iranian efforts to provide clandestine support to Damascus to help Assad regain control over his country have suffered several setbacks after Turkish officials intercepted a number of arms shipments destined for Syria.
    "The direct route is being set up to make it easier to pass advanced Iranian weapons and equipment to Syria," said a senior Western security official.

Report: Lebanon Tribunal Probing Evidence Leading to Iran (Naharnet-Lebanon)
    The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is investigating Iran's possible involvement in the Feb. 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others, the German Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday.
    The four men named in the indictment issued by the STL are members of Hizbullah and the report said the tribunal is "following evidence that leads to Iran."
    The four suspects traveled to Iran in 2004 and underwent military training in "Khomeini's training camp" near Qom.

Aid to Gaza to Continue as Hamas and USAID Reach Compromise (AFP-Al Arabiya)
    Hamas and the U.S. Agency for International Development have reached a compromise to maintain the flow of aid to Gaza, which was suspended by Washington on Friday, a senior Hamas official said Saturday.
    As a result of the agreement, Hamas renounces for a three-month period its demand to audit the accounts of NGOs financed by USAID in the Palestinian territories.

Qaeda Trying to Harness Toxin for Bombs, U.S. Officials Fear - Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker (New York Times)
    American counterterrorism officials are increasingly concerned that the most dangerous regional arm of al-Qaeda is trying to produce the lethal poison ricin, to be packed around small explosives for attacks against the U.S.
    For more than a year, according to classified intelligence reports, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen has been making efforts to acquire large quantities of castor beans, which are required to produce ricin, a white, powdery toxin that is so deadly that just a speck can kill if it is inhaled or reaches the bloodstream.
    Intelligence officials say the evidence points to efforts to secretly concoct batches of the poison, pack them around small explosives, and then try to explode them in contained spaces, like a shopping mall, an airport or a subway station.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Warships Shell Latakia - Borzou Daragahi and Roula Hajjar,
    Syrian forces used gunboats and tanks in Latakia on Sunday. At least 25 people were killed and an estimated 100 wounded said activists, who added that the attacks appeared to be a response to the large protests in the city Friday. Activists charged that Syrian security officials were shooting people in the streets of the Ramleh neighborhood, where many Palestinians reside. "Entire buildings are being shelled with heavy artillery. The bodies stay on the streets because we are unable to leave our home and get them," said Abu Yousef, a local resident. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Syria Violence Spreads to Aleppo - Martin Chulov and Nour Ali
    Syria's uprising spread into the commercial hub of Aleppo Friday, where two people died during government raids, which also saw at least 13 protesters killed in other towns and cities. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Syrians Are Shot Exiting Mosques; Clinton: Stop Buying Syrian Oil - Nour Malas
    Syria's security forces opened fire on protesters leaving mosques in the suburbs of Damascus and in other major cities on Friday. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday called on countries to stop buying Syrian oil. "We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history. President Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead, and it is clear that Syria would be better off without him," she said. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Turkey Gives "Ultimatum" to Damascus - Murat Yetkin
    A Turkish official told Hurriyet on Friday that a letter from Turkish President Gul to Syrian President Assad delivered by Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu on Tuesday was considered by Ankara as an "ultimatum" to Damascus that, if violence by Syrian troops continued, Assad would no longer be able to rely on Turkey's friendship. "If a regime is not listening to the advice of its friend and neighbor and continues opening fire on its own people, that regime can no longer be Turkey's friend," the source said. (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • Court Lets U.S. Terror Victim's Family Sue Palestinian Authority
    On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that the family of Mark Parsons can sue the Palestinian Authority under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991, overturning a lower court's judgment in favor of the PA. Parsons and two other members of DynCorp International were killed by a roadside bomb while providing security to State Department employees during an October 2003 trip to Gaza. "We believe a reasonable juror could conclude that Palestinian Authority employees provided material support to the bomber," reads the ruling. Documents provided to the Parsons family showed that Amer Qarmout, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committee, admitted that he had dug a hole to place a bomb and asked guards with the PA National Security Service to ignore the shoveling, which he said they did. (Fox News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Egypt Deploys Thousands of Troops and Tanks in Sinai, in Coordination with Israel - Anshel Pfeffer
    Egypt, in coordination with Israel, has deployed its military in the northern Sinai Peninsula in order to gain control over the anarchy that has taken hold of the region, a senior Israeli defense official said on Sunday. The operation places Egyptian infantry, armored vehicles, and tanks in Sinai in contravention of the 1978 Camp David Accords. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Egypt's Sinai Security Forces Plan Crackdown
    Security forces in Egypt's Sinai peninsula say they are launching an operation to control those behind a series of attacks in el-Arish and stations that export gas to Israel. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Marines Train at IDF Urban Warfare Training Center - Rotem Eliav
    A company of the U.S. Marine Corps force stationed in Europe came to Israel for a month of intensive training alongside IDF soldiers in urban warfare, reconnaissance, and target shooting. "We've never been to a mock town like that of the IDF," said Platoon Sgt. Robert Hattenbach, referring to the Urban Warfare Training Center. The Marines were thrilled to train at the facility, raving about its realistic feel.
        "This trip was a serious wake up call," said Sgt. Hattenbach. "We realized that Israeli people are just like us. We now better understand what Israel really is and when we go back to the U.S. we can tell people that."  (Israel Defense Forces)
        See also Photo Gallery: Joint IDF-U.S. Marine Exercise (Israel Defense Forces)
  • NGO Monitor Slams Belgian Funding for Anti-Israel Groups - Benjamin Weinthal
    The Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor has issued a report alleging that Belgium taxpayer funds are being used to finance "anti-Israel" NGOs, including lawsuits against Israeli officials. "The transfer of over 800,000 euros in the past three years from Belgian taxpayers to opposition groups, under the facade of promoting peace and human rights, adds to the resentment of many Israelis, including Knesset members. Many criticize this as manipulative and anti-democratic," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Abbas' Vision of an Ethnically Cleansed Palestinian State - Jonathan S. Tobin
    PA leader Mahmoud Abbas told visiting U.S. congressmen that the independent Palestinian state he says he wants will have no Jewish settlements. This demand for an ethnically cleansed Palestine would mean the forced removal of all Jews living in the territories. Since he is calling for that state to exist in all of the territory of the West Bank, Gaza and the part of Jerusalem that was illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967, that would mean in theory the eviction of over half a million Jews to accommodate his ambition.
        For the PA, the desire to remove the Jews stems more from ideology than pragmatism. Expunging every vestige of the Jewish presence is inextricably tied up in the enterprise of Palestinian sovereignty.
        Any Israeli who would call for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel is rightly branded as an extremist. Yet few in the West think there is anything odd about the fact that the Palestinians' vision of a two-state solution is to have one state with both Jews and Arabs and one Arab state where all Jews have been thrown out. (Commentary)
  • Tutu's War on Israel, Jews - Giulio Meotti
    Archbishop Desmond Tutu's role in the fight against South African apartheid in the 1980s gained him the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the Archbishop's iconic voice has also found another cause no less popular: The global campaign against Israel and the Jewish people. Tutu just promoted an appeal to the U.S. pension fund of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association for cutting the partnership with Israeli companies. He also helped the Australian Marrickville Council approve a boycott of Israel's goods.
        Tutu also promoted the boycott of all Israeli goods by the U.S. Food Co-op and he became the poster leader of the Western NGOs promoting campaigns for divestment and sanctions against the Jewish state. The writer, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Want Peace, Just Not with Israel - George Jonas
    If Palestine were designed to coexist with the Jewish state, it wouldn't have to be declared unilaterally. Since it's designed to replace it, it has no other choice. If the Palestinian state comes about as a result of negotiations, it legitimizes the Jewish state. The Palestinians want peace, all right; it's only that they don't want peace with Israel. (National Post-Canada)

A Blast from the Past: The Upcoming Durban III Conference (September 2011) - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • The 2001 Durban World Conference against Racism was abused by Muslim, Arab and other states and anti-Israel non-governmental organizations to single out Israel in what became an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fest, permanently tainting the name of the Durban conference. As such, the conference failed to deal with the genuine problems of racism.
  • The damage caused by the singling-out of Israel at the Durban conference laid the groundwork for a concerted campaign in the international community to delegitimize the State of Israel.
  • The UN and its High Commissioner for Human Rights have attempted to re-legitimize the Durban process through a Review Conference (Durban II) in Geneva in 2009, but the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist slanders were repeated at the opening session by the President of Iran, and several key states boycotted the conference. The conference outcome document reaffirmed the Durban I declaration, singling out Israel.
  • A further attempt to re-legitimize Durban will take the form of a ten-year anniversary commemoration of the Durban conference at the UN in New York on 22 September 2011.
  • This event will coincide with the Palestinian attempt to have the UN recognize and accept a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, in violation of the peace negotiation process. This juncture of events confirms and endorses the interconnection between the Durban process and the ongoing international campaign to delegitimize Israel.

    Amb. Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is former Legal Adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador of Israel to Canada. He served as Deputy Head of Israel's government delegation to the Durban I conference.

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