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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
September 15, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Islamists' Growing Sway Raises Questions for Libya - Rod Nordland and David D. Kirkpatrick (New York Times)
    In the emerging post-Gaddafi Libya, the most influential politician may well be Ali Sallabi, who commands broad respect as an Islamic scholar and populist orator who was instrumental in leading the mass uprising.
    The most powerful military leader is now Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the former leader of a hard-line group once believed to be aligned with al-Qaeda.

PA Statehood Bid Fails to Generate Enthusiasm in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi (Reuters)
    Mahmoud Abbas' bid to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state is not generating much enthusiasm in Gaza.
    Hamas sees the move as an exercise in futility, and many Palestinians in Gaza are asking why the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank did not first tackle problems holding up implementation of a unity deal with Hamas.

Israel Assists Victims of Fuel Explosion in Kenya (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel is sending medical supplies to Nairobi, Kenya, to assist in treating casualties of the fuel-line explosion on Sep. 12 in which more than a hundred people died and hundreds were injured.
    The aid, which is expected to arrive on Sep. 15, includes more than 360 kilograms of medicines for treating burns, bandaging equipment, infusion sets, ointments and painkillers.

Ghana Renews Diplomatic Ties with Israel - Ronen Medzini (Ynet News)
    Ghana and Israel have renewed diplomatic relations 38 years after ties were severed in the wake of the Yom Kippur War.

Saudi Embassy Was Also Attacked in Cairo - Tim Marshall (Sky News-UK)
    The Israeli Embassy was not the only one attacked in Cairo last weekend.
  The Embassy of Saudi Arabia was also stormed by a mob. Several cars were set alight but there was only minor damage to the building.

U.S. Drops Israeli Company from Iran Sanctions List (Reuters)
    The U.S. State Department on Tuesday removed an Israeli holding company from a sanctions blacklist for being part of a deal to sell Iranians a tanker for $8.65 million.
    Ofer Brothers Group had denied wrongdoing after it was included on a U.S. State Department sanctions list in May, saying they did not realize the buyer had been a front for an Iranian company.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu to Address UN General Assembly - Attila Somfalvi
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that he will travel to New York to address the UN General Assembly next Wednesday ahead of the Palestinian bid for statehood. Netanyahu said: "I have decided to personally convey the message of direct negotiation and striving for peace at the General Assembly - I know Israel doesn’t get a fair hearing at the General Assembly. It has an automatic majority which is quick to denounce Israel. I have decided to tell the truth." "The only way for a Palestinian state to come to be is through negotiations."  (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinians to Seek Security Council Approval for Full UN Membership - Josef Federman
    The Palestinians will ask the Security Council next week to accept them as a full member of the UN, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said Thursday - a move that comes in defiance of Washington's threat to veto the statehood bid. The Palestinians will likely still end up at the General Assembly with scaled-back ambitions, however, if the U.S. exercises its veto power in the Security Council as expected. (AP)
  • Israel Hopes "Common Sense Will Prevail" in Turkey Row - Mohammed Hossam
    Israel's public diplomacy minister Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday that he hoped "common sense would prevail" in former friend and ally Turkey in the diplomatic crisis the two governments are now embroiled in. "Despite the attempts on the Turkish side to provoke an escalation, we are acting with restraint," he told public radio.
        Former Israeli ambassador to Cairo and consul in Ankara Elie Shaked said that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan saw himself as "the new sultan of the Middle East, which he wants to lead by political means." But "the countries of the region, including the generals who rule Egypt, but also Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, do not favor Turkish hegemony."  (AFP)
  • Egypt's Islamists Warn Turkish PM over Regional Role - Tulay Karadeniz and Yasmine Saleh
    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood warned Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan on Wednesday that his country should not seek to dominate the Middle East despite his enthusiastic welcome during a visit to Cairo. "We welcome Turkey and we welcome Erdogan as a prominent leader but we do not think that he or his country alone should be leading the region or drawing up its future," said Essam el-Erian, deputy leader of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • UN Diplomats Say Countries Intimidated into Supporting Palestinian Bid - Shlomo Shamir
    Diplomats in the UN said some countries will support the Palestinian statehood bid not because they believe in their cause, but because Muslim and Arab countries may take punitive measures against them when they will need support in the Security Council or in bids to be appointed to important UN bodies.
        Diplomats have pointed to Australia as an example of this intimidation. Australia is pushing its nomination for a seat on the UN Security Council next year, and is expected to weigh its steps carefully so as not to anger the Muslim and Arab nations and the Nonaligned Bloc. Canada failed in promoting its nomination for a seat, not least because of its support for Israel. The Palestinian bid is not very popular among diplomats, who say it is "a nuisance we would like to have behind us."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Weighing a Resumption of Suicide Bombings - Yaakov Lappin
    Hamas is considering a resumption of suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians, Col. (res.) Jonathan Fighel, a former IDF Intelligence officer and researcher with the Interdisciplinary Center's Institute for Counterterrorism, warned on Tuesday. "We're seeing more and more Hamas flags in Hebron. The public atmosphere to Hamas is much more lenient. This allows for the creation of operational terror cells. Hamas is taking into consideration the renewal of suicide bombing attacks."
        "Hamas was using the so-called Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement as a vehicle to raise its profile in the West Bank," he added. "Hamas' strategy is to replace the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Five Israeli Arabs Arrested for Planning Terror Attacks - Anshel Pfeffer and Eli Ashkenazi
    Five Israeli Arabs from Daburiya in northern Israel have been arrested on suspicion of planning terror attacks against Israeli citizens, it was revealed Thursday. The men planned to hurt an IDF soldier and a border guard living in the village and attack a police station there, among other attacks. The group is part of the Salafi movement in Islam, and one member of the terror cell created a website advocating Jihad. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • A Referendum on Israel - Daniel Gordis
    Israelis understand that what ignited Palestinian nationalism was, ironically, Palestinians' witnessing the rebirth of a newly sovereign Jewish people. Nonetheless, the upcoming UN vote is more a referendum on Israel than it is on Palestine. Israel is now witness to Iran's continuing nuclear aspirations, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's cozying up to Iran by threatening Israel and Egyptian masses who despise Israel simply for existing. Iran, Turkey and Egypt have assumed their positions because of radicalization in the Arab world, not because of anything to do with the Palestinians.
        Just days ago, Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority claimed that the Palestinians' land had been occupied for 63 years. The "occupation" to which he refers is thus not the result of Israel's victory in 1967, but rather, Israel's very creation in 1948. Such hatred of the Jewish state cannot be appeased. The writer is president of the Shalem Foundation and a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (New York Times)
  • Is Cameron about to Vote for a Unilateral Palestinian State? - Melanie Phillips
    The impending UN General Assembly vote on the declaration of a Palestinian state has little to do with the establishment of anything that bears any relation to reality. Such a state will be a Potemkin polity with no political coherence, fixed shape or legal legitimacy. The unilateral declaration is demonstrably an aggressive stunt and an act of purposeful hostility against Israel.  Even if no violence occurs, this unilateral initiative rips up previous treaty undertakings made with Israel by the Palestinian Authority and obviates any possibility of a negotiated settlement of the Middle East impasse.
        For that reason, the Obama administration has said it will veto the proposal in the Security Council. So what will Britain do? The fact that the British government is even now - with a week to go before the General Assembly session opens - refusing to condemn this cynical stunt is deeply shocking in itself. It means the UK is contemplating supporting an initiative that tears up binding treaty obligations and thus makes a mockery of international law. (Daily Mail-UK)
  • The Dire Situation in Egypt - Robert Satloff
    While the Egyptian authorities recognize that a formal break with Israel runs against their interests, Egypt-Israel relations are headed toward a situation of "no war, no peace." Everything America has accomplished in the Middle East during the last thirty years has been built on the foundation of the Camp David Accords and the transformation of Egypt from Soviet client to American ally. If that foundation collapses, much of America's standing in the region collapses as well.
        As Egypt's elections approach, the likely results range between bad and worse. Liberal, reformist forces will not have a majority; the question is how large a plurality will be achieved by illiberal Islamist groups. The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Iran Sees New Opportunity for Regional Domination Despite Turkish Competition - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • The Iranian political-military leadership has argued that the protest movement in the Arab world draws its inspiration from Iran's Islamic Revolution. In the Iranian conceptual lexicon, one does not encounter the concept of the "Arab Spring" that is so prevalent in Arab and Western political discourse. Instead, Iran has coined the term "Islamic awakening," which also reflects Iran's policy, course of action, and aspirations.
  • Senior Iranian officials contend that the first lines of Iran's defense pass through Lebanon and Palestine. From Iran's perspective, compelling Israel to constantly deal with threats on its northern and southern borders renders the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran more remote.
  • The struggle against Israel also constitutes an important recruiting tool in the protracted battle with "Western arrogance that implanted the Zionist entity deep in the heart of the Muslim world, and the world of Islam." A revival of Iranian activity to export the Islamic Revolution is now gathering fresh impetus in the Arab world, and an anti-Israel dynamic is being fed by an Arab street that has shaken off fear of its rulers.
  • In contrast to the perceived economic enfeeblement of the Western economies headed by the United States, which constitute the bases of support for the "Zionist regime," Iran offers a substitute view of a new world order and an alternative, defiant Islamic agenda.
  • Yet it is doubtful if the struggle against Israel and "global Zionism" will transform Shiite Iran into an acceptable party that can lead the change in the Middle East, given the fundamental apprehension of the "Shiite demon" among Sunnis that lingers on under the surface. In addition, Iran is fated to pay a price for its continued backing of the Assad regime in Syria.
  • Turkey and Iran are currently in competition to lead the changes now shaping the Muslim world. Initially, Iran reacted with restraint, but now appears to be fighting back, accusing Turkey of sponsoring "liberal Islam" and cooperating with the West. In any case, the focus of the two remains the same - hostility toward Israel and seeing who can harm it the most.

    IDF Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center.

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