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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
March 27, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Entire Clans and Villages Fleeing Syria - Rick Gladstone and Stephen Castle (New York Times)
    A UN commission on rights abuses in Syria offered grim new details on Friday of the government's repression, including the uprooting of extended clans and villages forced to flee into neighboring countries by security forces bent on crushing armed resistance.
    The UN refugee agency in Geneva has reported 17,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, 16,000 in Lebanon and at least 8,000 in Jordan.

Israeli Diplomat Forced to Leave Morocco (UPI)
    Israeli diplomat David Saranga, attending a Euro-Mediterranean Partnership meeting in Rabat, Morocco, was forced to leave the country after thousands of people protested his presence outside the Parliament building.
    Security forces escorted Saranga out through a side door and took him to an airport.
    See also Jewish Man Murdered in Morocco - Roi Kais (Ynet News)

Hamas, Hizbullah Helping Iran in Yemen (Reuters-Gulf Times-Qatar)
    Lebanon's Hizbullah and Hamas are helping their backers in Shia Iran by working with Shia Muslim rebels in northern Yemen and secessionists in the country's south, the U.S. envoy to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein, told the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat on Sunday.
    "The Iranians want to build influence in Yemen...both internally and more broadly in the region by establishing a foothold in the Arabian Peninsula," Feierstein said. "It's something that's naturally regarded as a security threat to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC states."
    "There is evidence that Hizbullah and Hamas support this Iranian effort. We are aware of a southern Yemeni presence in Beirut that has been used as a conduit for Iranian support for obstructions in southern Yemen," he said.

Israel Phone Company Launches Call Center for Bedouin Women - Ran Rimon (Ynet News)
    Israel's Bezeq phone company launched a new call center on Monday in the Bedouin village of Hura in the Negev.
    The center, which provides assistance to Internet customers, is managed and operated by 50 Bedouin women, and is expected to employ more in the future.
    It offers assistance in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.

Journalists Held in Libya over Welsh-Hebrew Mix-Up - Rob Hastings (Independent-UK)
    Two British journalists who were detained in Libya for three weeks have revealed they were held because their captors confused a passage of Welsh written on their medical supplies for Hebrew, leading to suspicions they were spying for Israel.
    Ironically, the two were working for Press TV, the state broadcaster for Israel's sworn enemy, Iran.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Faces Backlash - Hamza Hendawi
    Egypt's powerful Islamists on Monday faced a backlash as they try to solidify their hold on the country's politics, as liberal politicians quit a panel tasked with drafting a new constitution to protest its domination by Islamists. More ominously, the ruling military issued a veiled threat of a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood if the group persisted in demands to form a new government.
        The Brotherhood, which holds nearly half the seats in parliament, together with the second-largest bloc, the Islamic Salafis, have been demanding the ouster of the military-appointed prime minister so they can form their own government. The military has staunchly refused. (AP)
        See also Egypt Military Looking to Keep Its Grip at least on Economy - Jeffrey Fleishman
    The Egyptian military controls a multibillion-dollar business empire that accounts for 10-40% of the Egyptian economy. The military is maneuvering to protect its authority and financial holdings as it prepares to hand power to a new president and civilian government in June.
        The military has never trusted the Islamists, who now control about 70% of the parliament. But the generals have been working with the Muslim Brotherhood and some politicians and analysts say the Brotherhood and the military have reached a closed-door agreement that the new president will be sympathetic, if not loyal, to the army.
        So far there have been no signs of weakening from an army that, as it exits the public stage, takes with it a tight grip on the nation. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Enabling Egypt's Military Rulers - Editorial (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Foils Terror Attack on Gaza Border - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF foiled an attack against troops patrolling the Gaza border, Ynet learned Monday. Military forces detected a powerful explosive device that was concealed on the Gaza border fence that was meant to be used as a roadside bomb against an Israeli patrol. IDF sappers defused it safely. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Ambassador: Israel's Decision to Cut HRC Ties "Understandable" - Shiri Hadar
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Monday that he understands Israel's decision to sever ties with the UN Human Rights Council following its decision to probe its settlements policies. Shapiro said that the Council "obsessively focuses" on Israel, while neglecting other human rights issues that are far more important and urgent. Shapiro noted that the U.S. was the only country to vote against setting up the commission of inquiry. (Ynet News)
  • Iron Dome Anti-Missile Battery Deployed in Greater Tel Aviv
    On Monday, an Iron Dome anti-missile battery was positioned in the greater Tel Aviv area to adapt the system to the area's requirements. (Israel Defense)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Nukes: How Would the World Know? - Pam Benson
    Will the U.S. know with a degree of certainty if Iran crosses a red line and decides to actually make nuclear weapons? Ephraim Asculai, a retired Israeli nuclear scientist, said there are three ways the world will know if Iran has decided to break out and make a dash to nuclear weapons: Iran tells everyone, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovers it, or the intelligence community figures it out. But he is not terribly confident any intelligence service will discover it. (CNN)
        See also The Iranian Decision on the Production of Nuclear Weapons - Ephraim Asculai (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • U.S. Supreme Court Half-Answers Jerusalem Passport Question - Josh Gerstein
    The U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a definitive ruling Monday in a longstanding dispute about whether U.S. passports for citizens born in Jerusalem should, upon request, identify the place of birth as Israel. However, the justices ruled, 8-1, that the lower courts erred when they refused to weigh in on the case after deeming that it raised a "political question." Six justices held that the "political question doctrine" does not apply where a statute conveys a clear right to individuals.
        The State Department, under President George W. Bush and then President Barack Obama, said the statute intruded on the president's prerogative to make foreign policy. The majority opinion appeared to suggest, but did not say outright, that the plaintiff in the case, Benjamin Zivotofsky, had the better argument. (Politico)
  • A State Without Delusions - Martin Peretz
    In the War of Independence in 1948, Israel's armed struggle was not against the Arab locals of Palestine; it fought instead against Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. In the Six-Day War, it was ditto minus Iraq. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War, only Egypt and Syria fought. The Palestinian war against the Jews was fought by the armies of others who wanted Arab Palestine for themselves. Had Israel lost in 1967 or 1973, it would not have been Palestine in its place; the land would have been divvied up by the countries which had entered the fight to add turf to their own national cartographies.
        The fight for Palestine by the Palestinians began late, winning all kinds of battles in international arenas where the reward was only ecstatic verbiage.
        Over the years the Israelis have made so many conciliatory proposals to the Palestinians - two at the urgent behest of Washington - that they literally cannot grasp why Arafat and his successors turned them down. Arafat's successor and the Palestinian Authority were supposed no longer to be in the grip of fabrication. (Times of Israel)
  • Blaring Sirens Warn of Rockets from Gaza - Jonah S. Keyak
    Sirens blare in my head. Realizing this is not a drill, I jump out of bed and dash to the closest bomb shelter. Within seconds, the room fills with American, Canadian and Israeli students, all here in fear for their lives. Boom one, that was close...boom two, that was closer...wait for it...boom three. We wait to hear the booms because, ironically, that's the most calming sound. That's when we know that the bombs have landed and we are momentarily safe.
        I refuse to be afraid, for that is the terrorists' goal. But I cannot deny that every time that siren goes off, my heart drops. This happens not only with the air-raid siren, but also with any remotely similar sound; we all jump. Sometimes we hear the screaming sirens from the cities around us. After making sure the sound is not ours, we go outside to watch and see if Iron Dome will catch the rockets this time. It boggles my mind how crazy this situation is. America would never allow this to happen at its borders. Imagine if Mexico were bombing San Diego! The writer, 18, is spending the year at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel, about 25 miles north of Gaza. (Jewish Weekly of Northern California)

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Refocusing on Iran - Dina Temple-Raston (NPR)

  • Intelligence and law enforcement officials say analysts and experts who have been tracking al-Qaeda for more than a decade have been quietly reassigned, with a good portion of the analysts being asked to focus on Iran.
  • Officials said that with the relative threat from al-Qaeda declining, and with the increase in terrorism-related activity linked to Iran, it made sense to focus on it.
  • Philip Mudd, a former top counter-terrorism official in both the CIA and the FBI, noted the bombs that exploded in India and the country of Georgia which appeared to be targeting Israeli diplomats. "When I saw those attacks, to me the light that went on in my head was the intent light. Iran's intent is back," he says.
  • After years of relatively low-level operations by Iranian-backed terrorists, Tehran appears to be back on the offensive. "There is no way you conduct that number of attacks without having senior leadership saying this is what we want to do."
  • And that goes a long way toward explaining why Iran is fast become such a priority in the U.S. intelligence community.

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