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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
October 25, 2011

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Sharia Law Declaration in Libya Raises Concerns - Simon Martelli (AFP)
    Interim Libyan leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said on Sunday that sharia would be Libya's principal law.
    "Any law that violates sharia is null and void legally," he said, citing as an example a law that imposed restrictions on polygamy, which is permitted in Islam.
    The announcement that Islamic sharia law will be the basis of legislation in newly liberated Libya has raised concerns of a potentially intolerant Islamist resurgence.
    "We did not slay Goliath so that we now live under the Inquisition," said Rim, 40, a Libyan feminist.

In Gaza, Former Prisoners Pampered in Luxury Hotel - Ernesto Londono (Washington Post)
    Gaza's brand-new, eight-story, luxury Al-Mashtal Hotel, which opened in July, is an oasis of stunning ocean views, steaks cooked to perfection and sparkling swimming pools.
    About 60 recently released prisoners are staying at the Al-Mashtal, with Hamas footing the bill until it can find them permanent housing.
    "The fact that Hamas calls these people heroes and puts these people up on a pedestal and tells the young that these are the people who are to be emulated I think says much about Hamas, where they are as a movement, what their values are and what their agenda is," Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli government, said Monday. "Many of them were doing life sentences for killing innocent civilians."

Iran's Assassination of Political Dissidents Abroad (Iran Human Rights Documentation Center)
    Since 1979, high-level officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly those associated with the Ministry of Intelligence and Revolutionary Guards, have been linked to the assassinations of at least 162 of the regime's political opponents around the world.

Hizbullah Facing Unprecedented Crisis - Bilal Y. Saab (National Interest)
    The intense pressures of the violent confrontations in Syria, the Arab uprising, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) have combined to take a toll on Hizbullah.
    Hizbullah can hardly claim that it stands for restoring the Arab man's rights and dignity when it has chosen to side with a Syrian regime that is killing its own people.
    Hizbullah's stance on events in Syria has shattered its image in the Arab street, and Hizbullah flags are being burned in Syria and elsewhere.
    The writer is Visiting Fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Five Women to Become Israel Air Force Pilots - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    Five women are set to graduate from the Israel Air Force's flight school in December, the highest number since women were accepted into the school in 1995.
    22 women have completed the course in previous years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Moderate Islamist Party Heads Toward Victory in Tunisia - David D. Kirkpatrick
    Tunisia's moderate Islamist political party Ennahda emerged Monday as the leader in elections for a constitutional assembly and began talks to form a unity government with a coalition of liberal parties after it swept to a plurality of about 40% in preliminary vote tallies. Islamists cheered the results as a harbinger of their ascent after revolts across the region. Islamists in Egypt are poised for big victories in parliamentary elections next month and their counterparts in Libya are playing dominant roles in its post-Gaddafi transition. (New York Times)
        See also Tunisia's Islamists Likely to Win Plurality in the First "Arab Spring" Election - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • UN Report Seen Worsening Fear over Iran Nuclear Plans - Fredrik Dahl
    The UN nuclear watchdog is expected to publish intelligence soon pointing to military dimensions to Iran's nuclear activities, Western diplomats say. Western envoys believe the report - which they portray as incriminating for Iran - will pile further pressure on the country to curb its sensitive nuclear work. "We are in favor of a strong report," one Western official said. "The IAEA has a lot of information that would allow the agency to come to clear findings on the issue of possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear program. (Reuters)
        See also Russia and China Pushing UN Nuke Agency to Ease Up on Iran
    Russia and China are urging the chief UN nuclear inspector to scrap or delay U.S.-backed plans to reveal intelligence on Iran's nuclear arms experiments. In a diplomatic note to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, Moscow and Beijing warn Amano against "groundless haste" and urge him to "act cautiously." An international official familiar with the matter said Amano plans to go ahead nonetheless, arguing that it is his duty to inform the IAEA board of evidence pointing to such experiments. (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S. Pulls Envoy Out of Syria over Security Concerns - Bradley Klapper
    The U.S. pulled Ambassador Robert Ford out of Syria over security concerns, blaming President Assad's regime for the threats that made it no longer safe for him to remain. Ford has been the subject of several incidents of intimidation by pro-government thugs, and enraged Syrian authorities with his forceful defense of peaceful protests and harsh critique of the government crackdown. "We hope that the Syrian regime will end its incitement campaign against Ambassador Ford," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel, Egypt Reach Swap Deal to Free Arrested Israeli-American - Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury
    Israel and Egypt reached a deal that would secure the release of Ilan Grapel, who holds both Israeli and American citizenship, the Prime Minister's Office said on Monday. Grapel has been held in Egypt since June 12. He was first charged with espionage, but the charges were later changed to incitement, insurrection, and damaging a public building during the uprising that took place in Egypt earlier this year.
        Grapel is to be released in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners, none of whom were linked to attacks on Israeli citizens. In addition, Egypt will issue an official statement declaring that Grapel was not an Israeli spy. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Grapel Expected to Be Released on Thursday - Tovah Lazaroff and Oren Kessler
    Ilan Grapel, 27, whose family lives in Queens, is a student at Emory Law School in Atlanta and has served in the Israeli army. He had gone to Cairo to work in a legal aid organization. U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said, "Ilan is a wonderful young man who loves Egypt and the Egyptian culture. He's a person deeply committed to the cause of humanity and bringing people together, and just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu Reaches Out to Erdogan - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Monday to offer condolences for the victims of the earthquake that struck eastern Turkey Sunday. The two leaders last spoke in December 2010, when Netanyahu phoned Erdogan to thank him for Turkey's assistance during the Carmel fire. Netanyahu told Erdogan Israel stands ready to provide immediate humanitarian assistance, the Prime Minister's Office said. (Ha'aretz)
  • No Breakthrough Expected During Quartet Visit - Attila Somfalvi
    The four Quartet members are to meet in Israel on Wednesday with Israeli and Palestinian representatives, but officials involved in the negotiations say they are not optimistic about the prospect of jumpstarting the peace process. An official in the Prime Minister's Office said, "This meeting is not expected to result in a breakthrough."
        Another Israeli source involved in the negotiations noted that "at the moment everything is stuck. Israel is not planning on offering (Palestinian President) Abbas any gestures. If the Palestinians want to return to the negotiations table, they are welcome to do so without preconditions."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Tunisia's Ennahda Party: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing? - Oren Kessler
    Western media routinely describe Tunisia's Ennahda party as "moderately Islamist." The once-banned movement's own past, however, reveals a tendency to violence, and its current platform raises serious questions. Ennahda, or "Renaissance," has its roots in the Islamist university groups that proliferated in the Muslim world's universities following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
        Ennahda presents itself as nonviolent, but the movement's members have been implicated in both incitement and violent actions against Tunisian and foreign targets. The party supported the 1979 embassy takeover in Iran, and evidence suggests it was responsible for bombing four tourist hotels in the 1980s. In 1991 the party's founder and leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, called for attacks on U.S. interests in the Middle East in response to America's invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War.
        Ennahda's founding ideology was largely shaped by that of Sayyid Qutb, a leading ideologue of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Ennahda still maintains ties with the Brotherhood. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Iron Dome Missile Defense System in Action: A Preliminary Evaluation - Uzi Rubin
    The "Iron Dome" anti-rocket active defense system was first used by Israel in April 2011 with great technical success. According to the Ministry of Defense Directorate for Research and Development, the new system destroyed nine of the ten rockets that it engaged. During a period of escalation in August, according to the media, Iron Dome destroyed between 18 and 20 rockets, though some penetrated the defense screen. Israel's ambassador to the U.S. cited an 85% success rate.
        While the jury is still out on the full implications of active defense for the Israeli-Palestinian battlefield, it can reasonably be concluded that the Iron Dome system has succeeded in saving lives and reducing damages, thus providing more flexibility to the political leadership for containing the fighting with the Hamas government in Gaza. The writer was head of the Israel Ministry of Defense "Arrow" defense program against long-range missiles. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • The Likely Next Saudi King - Peter Goodspeed
    With the death Saturday of Crown Prince Sultan, analysts almost unanimously agree the Allegiance Council and King Abdullah will appoint Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, 77, the conservative Interior Minister since 1975, as the new Crown Prince. He served as an unofficial acting crown prince during Prince Sultan's illness and, since March 2009, has been Saudi Arabia's second deputy prime minister.
        Prince Nayef and his security services are on the front lines of a Saudi battle to resist change. He commands a paramilitary force of about 130,000 men, the secret security services, and local and national police. He is also responsible for the country's notorious religious police, who enforce strict Islamic practices.
        U.S. diplomatic cables, released by WikiLeaks, say Prince Nayef is "a hardline conservative who at best is lukewarm to King Abdullah's reform initiatives." "Nayef is much more conservative than either Abdullah or Sultan, and much more suspicious of America," said Bruce Riedel, a former Middle East expert for the Central Intelligence Agency, now with Washington's Brookings Institution. (National Post-Canada)

Israel to UN: Sustainable Peace Must Be Negotiated (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Proser told the Security Council on Monday:

  • "The Middle East is in turmoil. Thousands of innocents have been gunned down in the streets. People are calling for their freedom and demanding their rights. Yet, month after month, this Council focuses disproportionately on one and only one conflict in our region....It is time for this Council to stop ignoring the destructive forces that seek to keep the Middle East in the past, so that we can seize the promise of a brighter future."
  • "A month ago, President Abbas stood in this building and...denied 4,000 years of Jewish history. It was not a small omission. It was not an oversight. The Palestinian leadership attempts to erase the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel."
  • "Those who seek peace do not negate the narrative of the other side. On the contrary, they recognize its existence and choose to sit down and negotiate peace in good faith. This is what President Sadat did. This is what King Hussein did....The UN recognized Israel as a Jewish state 64 years ago. It is time for the Palestinians and the more than 20 Muslim countries around the globe to do the same."
  • "The Palestinians suggest that settlements are the core cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It's an interesting assertion considering that our conflict was raging for nearly a half century before a single settlement sprung up in the West Bank. From 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt. The Arab world did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel's annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza."
  • "Israel wants peace with a future Palestinian state. In word and in deed, my government has demonstrated time and again that we seek two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in peace....The international community has called on the Palestinians to go back to negotiations. Israel has accepted the principles outlined by the Quartet to restart negotiations immediately, without preconditions. We are waiting for the Palestinians to do the same."

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