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Freeing Gilad Shalit: The Cost to Israel - David Makovsky (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Hamas secured the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for a single Israeli. The names and crimes of those being freed are significant.
Many of those being let out are Hamas officials, replenishing the group's ranks. Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has stated that these officials "will return to...the national struggle."
In securing the release of six Israeli Arabs, Hamas has succeeded in pushing Israel to conduct negotiations that involve Israeli citizens.
No Wider Significance to Shalit Prisoner Swap - Aaron David Miller (Foreign Policy)
Let's not have any illusions: The deal for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was self-contained; it offers no first phase of a broader political deal between Israel and Hamas.
For Hamas, the deal makes enormous sense. The organization is increasingly unpopular in Gaza, having failed to deliver a better economy, freedom of movement, or relief from taxes; it needed a lift.
As Abbas grabs the center stage at the UN with a faux statehood initiative, Hamas delivers concrete gains at home.
Syrian Troops Clash with Army Defectors (AP-Washington Post)
Clashes in the town of Hass between Syrian troops and gunmen believed to be army defectors wounded at least 17 people on Monday, says Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The fighting reveals the increasingly militarized nature of an uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime.
Tank Exports to Saudi Arabia Signal German Policy Shift - Holger Stark (Der Spiegel-Germany)
Berlin has approving the delivery of up to 270 of Germany's most modern tank, the "Leopard" 2A7+ model, to Saudi Arabia.
The Leopard 2 is equipped with a cannon capable of firing four kilometers (2.5 miles) and can ford water two meters deep.
The decision broke with the policy of previous governments not to supply heavy arms to an Arab country that stands in opposition to Israel's security interests. Helmut Kohl stopped the export of Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia in 1983.
Syria's Alawites Go on Arms Shopping Spree - Arieh O'Sullivan (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
Small arms are increasingly in demand inside Syria, particularly among the Alawite minority who fear they may face retaliation over the revolt against their co-religionist, President Bashar Assad.
A Lebanese weapons dealer told the Daily Star in Beirut that the price of a Kalashnikov rifle has risen from $800 to $1,500, a grenade from $5 to $10 and a rocket-propelled grenade from $70 to over $200 each.
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- Notorious Iranian Militant Has a Connection to Washington Plot - Peter Finn
When nearly $100,000 landed in an undercover FBI bank account from a source linked to an Iranian paramilitary force, officials began taking seriously an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador that at first had seemed outlandish.
Mansour Arbabsiar, accused of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, is a cousin of Abdul Reza Shahlai, a senior commander in Iran's Quds Force, who has been linked to the killing of American troops in Iraq.
On May 24, Arbabsiar traveled from Texas to Reynosa, Mexico, to meet with a man he believed was a member of Los Zetas, enforcers for the gulf drug cartel.
In two more meetings in Mexico in July, in recorded conversations, Arbabsiar described his cousin as someone who has "got the government behind him," according to court papers.
Arbabsiar said he told his cousin that he wanted "another fifteen," presumably $15,000.
"Next morning, they send one guy, you know, that work for him. He's like a colonel, the guy," Arbabsiar said. "He bring the envelope." The colonel was Ali Gholam Shakuri, Shahlai's deputy. (Washington Post)
See also The Qods Corps: Iran's Shadow Army - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
- To Isolate Iran, U.S. Presses Inspectors on Nuclear Data - David E. Sanger and Mark Landler
President Obama is pressing UN nuclear inspectors to release classified intelligence information showing that Iran is designing and experimenting with nuclear weapons technology.
Senior administration officials said they are also mulling a ban on financial transactions with Iran's central bank. A Treasury ban on transactions with the Central Bank of Iran would be powerful because any third country that did business with the central bank would be cut off from the American financial system. (New York Times)
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- Who Are the Palestinian Prisoners Set for Release in Shalit Deal? - Chaim Levinson, Yaniv Kubovich, and Revital Hovel
The list released by the Israel Prison Service on Sunday of the Palestinian prisoners set to be released in exchange for abducted soldier Gilad Shalit include more than 280 Palestinians serving life sentences. More than 100 are serving multiple life sentences for high-casualty suicide bombings they were convicted of helping to plan and implement. Included for release is Nasser Yataima, who was sentenced to 29 life sentences for the 2002 bombing of a Netanya hotel on Passover.
See also Shalit Deal to Set Free Perpetrators of 2000 Lynching of IDF Reservists - Chaim Levinson (Ha'aretz)
See also Terrorist Who Drove Bus Off Cliff Near Jerusalem, Killing 16, to Be Freed - Moran Azulay (Ynet News)
See also Attackers Who Targeted Israeli Women - Nir Cohen
Those set to be released include Khalil Mohammed Abu Ulbah, who on Feb. 14, 2001, used a bus to run over a group of female soldiers near the Azor Junction. Eight died and 26 were wounded.
Fuad Amrin murdered Helena Rapp, 15, on the Bat Yam boardwalk on May 24 1992, stabbing her to death.
See also Driver of Sbarro Restaurant Suicide Bomber to Be Freed - Yoram Schweitzer
Ahlam Tamimi drove the Sbarro restaurant suicide bomber to his Jerusalem destination, where he murdered 15 Israelis and seriously injured many others. She is to be deported to Jordan.
See also Prisoner List Includes Planners of Mass Atrocities - Yaakov Lappin
Palestinian prisoners who will soon be free include Walid Anajas, who was convicted for his involvement in the bombing of the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in 2002. Twelve civilians were murdered and 54 wounded in the attack.
Musab Hashlemon of Hebron was sentenced to 17 life sentences for dispatching two suicide bombers to Beersheba where they murdered 16 civilians on two buses in 2004. Hashlemon had been released in the previous prisoner exchange deal when he was a minor Hamas operative.
Ibrahim Jundiya dispatched a suicide bomber to a Jerusalem bus in 2002 who murdered 11 passengers.
Fadi Muhammad al-Jabaa plotted the suicide bombing of a Haifa bus in 2003 in which 17 passengers were murdered.
Mazen Muhammad Faqha plotted the 2002 suicide bus bombing near Safed in which 9 passengers were murdered and 40 wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Prisoners to Be Released Include Notorious Terrorists - Itsik Saban and Shlomo Cesana
Palestinian security prisoners set to be released include Yehia Sanwar and Jihad Yaghmur who were involved in the kidnapping and murder of IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman. Sanwar founded Hamas' security unit in Gaza, and his brother was part of the group of terrorists that planned the Shalit abduction.
Mohammed Shratkha was the leader of a terrorist cell that captured and murdered Israeli soldiers Ilan Sa'adon and Avi Sasportas.
- Arab Press Hails Prisoner-Swap Deal - Oren Kessler
Arabic media reacted to last week's news of Israel's 1,000-to-1 prisoner exchange with Hamas with almost unanimous celebration. Filastin, the Hamas newspaper in Gaza, ran a giant picture Wednesday of Palestinian children raising their fingers in a victory sign and waving green Hamas flags, under the headline: "The Resistance Wins and Breaks the Occupation's Handcuffs." The only criticism of the deal was that it did not go far enough.
See also Hamas Planning Huge Celebrations for Prisoners - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
- Gaza Blockade Unaffected by Shalit Agreement - Herb Keinon
Israel has no intention of easing its blockade of Gaza because of the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, government officials said Sunday.
The officials said the blockade was in place primarily to stop the smuggling and local manufacturing of arms.
- Deter, Don't Dismiss, the Iranian Threat - Michael Singh
The Obama Administration will be careful to avoid a war of escalation with the Iranian regime, but should resist the temptation to confine its response to the Washington terror plot to sanctions. By downplaying the U.S. military option against Iran and ceasing military signaling activities in the Gulf, the administration has allowed American deterrence of Iran to deteriorate. Reestablishing that deterrence is vital to discouraging IRGC activities such as this plot. A sanctions-only response would encourage a sense of impunity rather than discouraging escalation. The Obama administration should seek international cooperation to roll up IRGC operatives and assets globally in response to this plot.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- A History of Violence - Matthew Levitt
The plot to murder the Saudi ambassador in Washington represents a brazen escalation in Iran's struggle for regional dominance. Iran's willingness to use brutal means to achieve its foreign-policy goals is nothing new: Since the creation of the Islamic Republic, U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly identified terrorism as one of the regime's signature calling cards. The plot lays bare the myth that sufficient carrots can induce the regime in Tehran to abandon its support for terrorism, part with its nuclear weapons program, or respect human rights.
See also America Discovers Iran in Its Own Backyard - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Syria's Assad Regime Is a Threat to the U.S. - Editorial
More than two dozen protesters were reported shot and killed by Syrian security forces on Thursday and at least 11 more on Friday.
On Tuesday the FBI arrested Mohamad Soueid, a Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen,
who has been charged with conspiring to collect information on people protesting against the Syrian government for delivery to the regime's intelligence services.
More than 30 activists in at least eight countries say that they have faced intimidation from embassy officials or that family members in Syria have been harassed, arrested or even tortured.
The charges against Soueid show that the Assad regime poses a threat not only to people in Syria but to those in the U.S. and other countries who support freedom. They underline the urgency for Western governments to step up pressure on the regime and force Assad to step down. (Washington Post)
The One-Way War - Lee Smith (Weekly Standard)
The Quds Force took a shot at proving they have both the will and wherewithal to kill an American client in the U.S. capital.
- It is one of the worst-kept secrets of post-9/11 U.S. Middle East policy that the Iranians and their proxies are responsible for many American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both the Bush and Obama White Houses have been well aware of the camps across the Iranian border where Tehran's Iraqi allies are trained in using the IEDs that have killed or maimed thousands of young Americans. And yet the last two administrations have shied away from taking the fight to the Iranians - who have shown no such hesitation in taking the fight to us.
- Why would the Iranians fear American retaliation for plotting to attack the American homeland when all the evidence shows that Washington will look the other way no matter what Tehran does?
- The botched culture that the Islamic Republic has imposed on Iran has seen the collapse of Iran's birth rate over the last 20 years from 7.0 to below replacement at 1.9, the fastest decline ever recorded. We are witnessing a culture in its death throes, and its leaders mean to take as many people with it as possible - especially Americans. That's why the Quds Force is zeroing in on the U.S. homeland.
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