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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
January 26, 2012

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Missile Warfare: A Realistic Assessment - Haim Rosenberg (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    The argument that land and terrain are unimportant in the missile age is a dangerous fallacy.
    No war in which missiles were employed - from the Iran-Iraq War to the Second Lebanon War - has ever been won without the additional use of maneuvering ground forces.
    Missiles have limitations that prevent them from becoming a decisive weapon, primarily their inaccuracy, as most are only capable of landing hundreds of meters off-target.
    This makes the chance of a precise and direct hit very low. For example, an air-launched bomb weighing one ton will destroy a building if it hits it directly, while at 60 meters off-target the damage will most likely be very limited.
    The writer is the former head of long-term planning at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

Both the PA and Israel Are Cracking Down on Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Stonegate Institute)
    The Palestinian Authority has expressed outrage over the arrest of Hamas officials in the West Bank by the Israel Defense Forces - even though the PA itself has also been arresting Hamas supporters.
    The truth is that the Israeli clampdown on Hamas is designed to help Abbas. Abbas knows that without the Israeli security crackdown on Hamas, his regime would not be able to remain in power for one day.
    In the past two months, Palestinian security forces have arrested more than 70 Palestinians on suspicion of membership in Hamas.

Egypt's Tinderbox Economy - and Looming Economic Crisis - Bryan Balin (Huffington Post)
    As the former Egypt desk officer at the U.S. Treasury, I have followed the Egyptian economy for years.
    By most estimates, if the drawdown of foreign reserves continues at its present pace, Egypt has roughly three months before it must devalue its currency.

Palestinian Tax Hike Riles Business, Unions - Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP)
    Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has sparked a furor with a push to get Palestinians to pay more taxes and reduce reliance on the massive foreign aid that has kept their self-rule government afloat for a generation.
    Donors have become more frugal because of the global financial crisis and paralysis in Mideast diplomacy over the past three years.
    The tax hike mainly targets the top earners, doubling the maximum rate from 15 to 30%.
    Long accustomed to minimal taxes in the West Bank, private business, the civil servants' union and the main political party, Fatah, are fighting back, including with threats of labor strikes.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • France, Britain Join Syria Peace Push at UN - Mariam Karouny
    France and Britain Wednesday joined efforts at the UN to end President Bashar al-Assad's rule. "The UN Security Council must support the Arab League's courageous decisions which are trying to end the repression and violence in Syria and find a solution to the political crisis," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said. France and Britain were working with Qatar and other Arab delegations on a new draft resolution supporting the Arab League plan which envisages Assad stepping down and making way for a unity government. (Reuters)
        See also Diplomacy to Remove Assad Gains Momentum - David Pollock and Andrew J. Tabler
    The absence of mandatory sanctions in the draft UN resolution on Syria is calculated to help secure the necessary Russian support (or at least abstention) in the Security Council. Arab media report rumors that Russian economic and military interests in Syria may be privately guaranteed both by outside powers and by the Syrian opposition, and that Russia may be quietly designated to offer Assad asylum. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Syrian Role Under Fire at UNESCO - Steven Erlanger
    At least 25 countries have joined to try to unseat Syria from two committees of UNESCO that deal with issues of human rights, Western diplomats and UN officials said Wednesday. (New York Times)
  • Obama to Accelerate Pace of U.S. Aid to Egypt - Warren Strobel
    President Barack Obama plans to accelerate the pace of American aid to Egypt, Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats said on Wednesday. Under the plan, some non-urgent U.S. aid slated for other countries would be redirected to Egypt. And funding in the pipeline for long-term programs in Egypt would be shifted to quick-impact projects.
        According to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. has given Egypt $2 billion or more annually for 25 years. The law says that none of the aid, military or economic, can be spent unless Egypt is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians: Peace Negotiations with Israel Have Ended - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's representative to the Amman talks with the Palestinians, Isaac Molho, met on Wednesday for a fifth time with the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat - but at this point no formula has been reached to enable the talks to continue. Erekat made it clear that from the Palestinians' standpoint, the talks have ended. Israel said on Wednesday that it is willing to continue the dialogue. (Ha'aretz)
        See also EU Pushing for Israeli Incentives Package to Keep PA in Talks - Elior Levy
    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday. Officials involved in the contacts said she is trying to put together a package of Israeli incentives that would keep the Palestinians from walking away from the talks. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel: "The Palestinians Don't Want to Talk to Us" - Ben Birnbaum
    Israeli officials Wednesday expressed pessimism over Jordanian-sponsored talks aimed at establishing a basis for a peace deal. "The feeling here is that they don't want to talk to us," said an Israeli Foreign Ministry official. "They've gone to Amman in a desire to be seen to be cooperating but with the intent of reaching Jan. 26, when they can say the talks have failed and they can go back to their original plan, which is the internationalization of the conflict."  (Washington Times)
  • Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: No Talks with Israel - Oren Kessler
    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood categorically rejects dialogue with Israel, the group's spokesman, Mahmoud Ghazlan, told Asharq Alawsat in an interview published Wednesday. Ghazlan said, "Our group is not prepared to conduct dialogue with Israel."
        Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Army Radio on Tuesday that Israel "has not closed the door" to the new government in Cairo and "would be happy to conduct dialogue with anyone prepared to talk with us." Palmor said he believes Egypt would continue to honor the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which he said serves the interests of both countries. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Will Israel Attack Iran? - Ronen Bergman
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak laid out three categories of questions related to a decision on whether to launch a pre-emptive attack against Iran. He characterized them as "Israel's ability to act," "international legitimacy" and "necessity," all of which require affirmative responses before a decision is made to attack. 1. Does Israel have the ability to cause severe damage to Iran's nuclear sites and bring about a major delay in the Iranian nuclear project? And can the military and the Israeli people withstand the inevitable counterattack? 2. Does Israel have overt or tacit support, particularly from America, for carrying out an attack? 3. Have all other possibilities for the containment of Iran's nuclear threat been exhausted, bringing Israel to the point of last resort? If so, is this the last opportunity for an attack? (New York Times)
        See also Why Israel Worries about Iran - and Prepares - Frida Ghitis (CNN)
  • West Cannot Settle for a Japanese-Style Status Quo in Iran - Max Boot
    Can it really be that American and European officials can't tell the difference between Japan and Iran? That is what you would think reading Helene Cooper's Jan. 25 article in the New York Times. The West cannot settle for a Japanese-style status quo in Iran, hoping against hope the Iranian regime will not use its nuclear technology to produce a weapon. That is likely to prove a losing bet - something we won't find out until after the first Iranian nuclear test. By which time, it will be too late. (Commentary)
  • Iran Tried to Take Advantage of the Arab Spring. It Failed, Miserably. - Colin H. Kahl
    At the height of the protests in Tahrir Square last year, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described events in Egypt as an "Islamic awakening" inspired by Iran's own 1979 revolution. One year later, however, it is hard to find evidence that Iran has benefited from the Arab uprisings. Surveys conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates by Zogby International show Iran's reputation in free fall since the Arab Spring began. Just a few years ago, Iran enjoyed a strong majority of support among the populations of all these countries; as of July 2011, Iran had a net unfavorable rating in every country but Lebanon.
        Sunni Arab Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood will be keen to brandish their Arab nationalist credentials and will be reluctant to forge close associations with Tehran. The Iranian regime's brutal response to its own 2009 protest movement puts further limits on its influence over the Arab Spring, as does Iran's continued support for the Syrian regime's bloody tactics.
        Classic balance of power dynamics have also triggered extensive pushback from Tehran's regional rivals. Iran's nuclear ambitions, combined with widespread concerns of Iranian-backed subversion, have motivated unprecedented arms purchases and security cooperation among the Arab Gulf states. In the face of perceived Iranian threats, Saudi Arabia and its allies are likely to continue to circle the wagons. The writer, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East (2009-2011), is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. (Foreign Policy)

The Hizbullah Threat Would Be Intolerable for Any Nation - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)

  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made news during his recent visit to Beirut. "I am deeply concerned about the military capacity of Hizbullah and the lack of progress in disarmament," he said. "All these arms outside of the authorized state authority, it's not acceptable."
  • The weapons in question are tens of thousands of ballistic missiles supplied to Hizbullah by Iran via Syria, that are not under the authority of the Lebanese government. They are deployed all over Lebanon and aimed at Israel. Their range is sufficient to cover all of Israel and rain destruction on Israel's civilian population. They are terror weapons in the hands of a terrorist organization.
  • For Israel, as for any other nation faced by a similar terrorist threat, the Hizbullah missile threat from Lebanon is intolerable. It is a ticking time bomb and, in addition, a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.
  • It also represents a threat to the physical existence of Lebanon and the people of Lebanon. The Hizbullah missiles have been deliberately emplaced in the midst of Lebanon's civilian population centers, in the vicinity of schools, mosques and hospitals. They will be launched against Israel whenever Nasrallah so decides, or the order is given in Tehran. They are a protective shield for Iran's nuclear ambitions.
  • The Hizbullah missiles will have to be removed. When the time comes for Israel to neutralize this missile threat, the result will be wholesale destruction all over Lebanon. Of course, it is preferable that the removal of the Hizbullah missiles be accomplished by diplomatic action rather than by military measures.
  • For too long there has been a conspiracy of silence about the deployment of these missiles in Lebanon. The issue should be taken up at the UN Security Council, and the necessary diplomatic action should be taken by the U.S. and the countries of Europe and Asia.

    The writer is a former Israeli defense and foreign minister.

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