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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
October 27, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Boosting Anti-Aircraft Arsenal with Looted Libyan Missiles - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    The improved quality of anti-aircraft missiles held by Hamas in Gaza is increasingly worrying the Israeli defense establishment.
    Hamas recently smuggled into Gaza relatively advanced Russian missiles which were looted from Libyan military warehouses. The fall of Gaddafi has enabled Hamas to bring in higher quality missiles in large quantities.
    The anarchy in Sinai in recent months has allowed the Palestinians in Gaza to operate almost without interference.

U.S. Indicts 5 People, 4 Companies for Iran Exports - Pete Yost (AP)
    Five people and four companies have been indicted for plotting to export 6,000 radio control devices to Iran, including 16 items that were found in improvised explosive devices in Iraq, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
    Authorities in Singapore arrested four people in the case Monday. The fifth defendant is a resident of Iran who remains at large.
    IEDs caused 60% of American combat casualties in Iraq between 2001 and 2007.

Russia Delivers Radar Jammers to Iran (AFP)
    Russia has sent Avtobaza truck-mounted radar jammers to Iran, Konstantin Biryulin, the deputy head of Russia's military and technical cooperation agency, said Tuesday.
    "This is a defensive system," he said. "We are in constant talks with Iran over that country's purchases of military technology that do not fall under UN sanctions."

Video: Unbelievable Bravery in Syria - Ramita Navai and Wael Dabbou (Harry's Place)
    Reporters for Britain's Channel 4 News go undercover in Syria to report on the anti-Assad uprising.

In Egypt, Food Subsidies for the Wealthy (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
    Subsidies on bread, rice, sugar, cooking oil and fuel are what separates many Egyptians from chronic hunger.
    3/4 of Egypt's 80 million people use ration cards to buy loaves of bread at less than $0.01 each. In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Egypt spent $5.5 billion on subsidies.
    An October 2010 World Bank report said approximately half of all subsidies goes to the wealthiest 60%.
    Flour mills produce subsidized flour for the government for less than a tenth of its market value. This subsidized flour is often sold illegally in the open market because the profits are huge.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Mideast Envoys Make No Breakthroughs - Josef Federman
    International mediators on Wednesday failed to make any breakthroughs in their quest to bring Israeli and Palestinian officials back to the negotiating table, but announced that both sides would present "comprehensive proposals" for resolving key aspects of their conflict within three months. (AP)
        See also Palestinians Rebuff Quartet's Calls to Return to Table
    The Palestinian leadership says it will not resume negotiations until Israel stops all settlement activities in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, and recognizes the 1967 borders as those of the future Palestinian state. Israel says direct negotiations must take place without Palestinian preconditions.
        A document prepared by Israel's Foreign Ministry accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of "pursuing an increasingly hostile, confrontational and unilateral approach" which "has effectively blocked any possibility for political progress."  (DPA-Ha'aretz)
  • Jordan's King to Share Power in Forming Cabinet - Jamal Halaby
    Jordan's King Abdullah II unveiled a new power-sharing system for selecting future Cabinet ministers, saying Wednesday he will consult with parliament on the formation of government. The king has weathered months of street protests calling for elected representatives to have a greater say in politics. He called his plan part of a "comprehensive democratic transformation" and "political reform."  (Washington Times)
  • Iranian, Refusing to Play Israeli, Expelled from Chess Meet - Dylan Loeb McClain
    One of Iran's top grandmasters was expelled from an international chess tournament on Tuesday after he refused to play a match against an Israeli opponent. Ehsan Ghaem Maghami was scheduled to play Ehud Shachar in the fourth round of the Corsica Masters, a pairing determined by computer. The director, Leo Battesti, said he told Maghami: "You cannot involve your rules in my tournament." Iranians have refused to compete against Israelis in other international sporting events this year, including the world wrestling championships in Istanbul in September and the world swimming championships in Shanghai in July. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Three Grad Rockets at Israel - Yaakov Lappin
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three Grad rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday evening that landed near Ashdod and Bnei Aish. Also Wednesday, an IDF patrol was struck by a roadside bomb near Efrat in the West Bank. The Israel Air Force responded with strikes on terrorist targets in Gaza early Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • First Shipment of Aid from Israel Heading to Turkey - Boaz Filer
    Five portable structures, 2,000 fleece coats, 2,000 fleece blankets and 100 inflatable mattresses arrived in Turkey on Wednesday in the first shipment of aid from Israel in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. Israel Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomi Am-Shalom said, "A second jet will head to Turkey early Friday morning. We also plan on shipping several hundred containers via sea."  (Ynet News)
  • Former U.S. Envoy: Mideast Peace Stalemate Could Lead to West Bank Violence - Barak Ravid
    Speaking at London's Chatham House, former U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell declared that he is disappointed and pessimistic in view of the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. "Order and personal security [in the West Bank] have been established in a way that never was previously....The problem is that that effort cannot be sustained in the absence of progress, or at least the hope of progress on the political front. It will break down internally on the Palestinian side, and it will break down in relations with the Israelis."
        Mitchell also criticized the Palestinian Authority's responses to American efforts to renew negotiations with Israel. "They refused to enter into the negotiations until nine months of the 10 [-month freeze] had elapsed," Mitchell said. "Once they entered, they then said [the freeze] was indispensable. What had been worse than useless a few months before then became indispensable."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt Captured Israeli-American Ilan Grapel to Generate Popular Support at Home - Lee Smith
    To really gauge what the Arab Spring has wrought, consider the unfolding story of Ilan Grapel, 27, an Israeli-American law student who has been held on charges of espionage for the past four months in Cairo. Grapel had taken a job in Cairo in May with St. Andrew's Refugee Services, a Christian organization that provides legal aid for Sudanese refugees. If all goes according to plan, Grapel will be released Thursday.
        The Egyptians know he's not a spy, but he's a valuable card anyway, which is why they captured him. Longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, would not have dreamed of taking an American citizen hostage.
        The purpose of the exchange, from the perspective of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is to placate the mobs that have already laid siege to the Israeli embassy and burned Coptic churches. The way to calm the situation, they believe, is to show that Egypt's problems are manufactured by the West, and that Cairo's ever-competent rulers managed to unearth a plot before the foreigners could once again unleash their mayhem. The point is to face down the West publicly, and generate popular support at home. (Tablet)
  • Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom on Life Support - Mai Yamani
    The death of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan at 86 marks the beginning of a critical period of domestic and foreign uncertainty for the kingdom. Sultan's half-brother, King Abdullah, 87, has been hospitalized in Riyadh following a major operation last month. The regime is aging and ailing, and is perceived by the population as being on life support.
        The Saudi regime's stability now depends on its ability to maintain unity and establish clarity in its system of succession. The ruling Al Saud have swelled to 22,000 members, which has given rise to factional clashes among increasingly numerous claimants to power. In addition, the challenge of managing princely privileges, salaries and jobs has never been more intense. Royal perks include lifetime sinecures and domination of the civil service, which enable the princes to award contracts and receive commissions on top of their salaries. Nothing guarantees a transition to a younger generation of leaders - or that an effective ruler will emerge. (Globe and Mail-Canada )
        See also Sultan's Death Tests Saudi Succession Mechanisms - Simon Henderson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Did the Libyan Leadership Deceive the West? - Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • On October 23, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) that is the temporary power in Libya replacing the Gaddafi regime, announced: "We, as an Islamic state, determined that Islamic law is a major source for legislation, and on this basis any law which contradicts the principles of Islam and Islamic law will be considered null and void."
  • The NTC has the support of the West and NATO countries, which helped it militarily to bring down the Gaddafi regime, hoping to establish a democratic regime in Libya.
  • In early October, Dr. David Gerbi, who was born in Libya and fled to Italy in 1967, arrived in Tripoli and asked to repair the synagogue. The NTC was quick to remove him, while demonstrations were held in Tripoli calling to prevent any Jewish presence in Libya or the establishment of synagogues. The NTC did not condemn this expression of anti-Semitism, nor was there any objection by any other political factions in Libya.
  • NTC and Western officials have already stated their growing concerns that Qatar is trying to interfere in the country's sovereignty, and the rebels are said to have received about $2 billion from the Qatari government. Qatari involvement is likely to produce a regime in Libya that follows the political orientation of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, thereby giving the Muslim Brotherhood an open door in the new Libya.
  • The political debate in Libya will be within an essentially Islamist universe, with different leaders distinguished by the degree to which they seek to implement their Islamism. It seems that the strategy of the democratic states that trusted the promises of the rebel forces to adopt and implement the principles of democracy has collapsed, and that Western aid to overthrow Gaddafi's tyrannical regime prepared the groundwork for the establishment of an Islamic state, which eventually may become hostile to the West.

    The writer, a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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