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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
April 3, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Ex-Argentina Leader to Face Terror Cover-Up Trial - Gil Shefler (Jerusalem Post)
    The former president of Argentina will stand trial for obstruction of justice in the investigation of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people and left hundreds wounded.
    Judge Ariel Lijo on Friday ruled that Carlos Menem, along with several other former officials, will be tried for allegedly protecting accomplices of Hizbullah and Iran who are believed to have been behind the attack.
    See also Israeli Envoy Praises Argentina for 1994 Bombing Probe - Louis Charbonneau (Reuters)
    Israel's UN envoy Ron Prosor on Friday praised Argentina for reinvigorating its investigation of a deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that Argentine authorities have blamed on Iran. "I think they're re-energizing" their work on the case," he said.
    The bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association building killed 85 people and injured hundreds of others.
    In 2007, Argentine authorities secured Interpol arrest warrants for five Iranians and a Lebanese in connection with the attack.

France Deports Islamist Militants, Imams amid Crackdown (Reuters)
    France said on Monday it was deporting five Islamic militants and Muslim preachers, as President Sarkozy clamped down on radical elements after seven people were killed by an al-Qaeda-inspired gunman last month.

The Stalled Revolution: Ten Days with Syria's Besieged Protesters - James Harkin (New Republic)
    About 9,000 Syrians have been killed so far, and 230,000 have been displaced from their homes; 18,000 are thought to be detained in government prisons.
    Yet, despite the increasingly grim situation, I was struck by the optimism of Syria's new opposition.

Soldier Who Killed Terrorist after Being Stabbed to Receive Citation - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    IDF Sgt. Gal Weingarten was attacked by two Palestinians and stabbed in the neck two weeks ago in the West Bank village of Yatta near Hebron during an operation to arrest a Palestinian terrorist.
    Weingarten quickly regained his composure and fired four shots at his attackers. The stabber was seriously wounded and the other assailant was killed.
    He will receive a special citation later this month for his quick reaction. "Gal demonstrated determination and the highest level of professionalism," a senior IDF officer said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egypt Army Pardons Brotherhood Presidency Nominee - Marwa Awad
    Egypt's military has dropped two court convictions against the Muslim Brotherhood's new presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater, clearing him to run in the elections, the movement's lawyer said on Sunday. Shater, 61, was tried in a military court in 1995 and sentenced to five years in jail on charges of "reviving" the Brotherhood. He was also tried and convicted in 2007 on charges of providing university students with arms and training, but was freed in 2011 after serving four and a half years of a seven-year sentence.
        Under Egyptian law, former convicts cannot occupy official posts. "All charges and cases against engineer Khairat al-Shater have been dropped," said Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsood. One army source said the Brotherhood would not publicly name any candidate of its own without prior clearance from the ruling military council. (Reuters)
        See also Khairat al-Shater: A Modern Muslim Brother - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
        See also In Hard-Liner's Surge, New Worries for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - David D. Kirkpatrick
    Egyptian presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail is an old-school Islamist. He wants to move toward abolishing Egypt's peace treaty with Israel and cites Iran as a successful model of independence from Washington. He promises to bring extraordinary prosperity to Egypt, if it turns its back on trade with the West.
        His success may help explain why the U.S. offered signs of tacit approval when the Muslim Brotherhood broke its pledge not to field its own candidate. With a first round of voting set for late May and a runoff in mid-June, the Egyptian presidential race is shaping up as a battle among Islamists. So, in a remarkable inversion, American policy makers who once feared a Brotherhood takeover now appear to see the group as an indispensable ally against Egypt's ultraconservative Salafis, exemplified by Abu Ismail.
        The Brotherhood's candidate, Khairat al-Shater, a millionaire businessman considered the most formative influence on the group's policies, has met with almost all the senior State Department officials and American lawmakers visiting Cairo, and is in regular contact with the American ambassador, Anne Patterson. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Red Crescent Workers Part of Hamas Terror Squad
    Israel recently arrested 13 Palestinians on suspicion of being behind a shooting attack on an IDF force in Ramallah on Jan. 20. Among those arrested are employees of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Ramallah. A Kalashnikov rifle used in the attack was given to the terrorists by an officer in the Palestinian intelligence service. During questioning, the suspects revealed that they had planned other shooting attacks against IDF troops. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF Commander Holds Surprise Drills - Yaakov Katz
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz held a surprise drill inspection of two key military bases in northern Israel on Sunday to ensure that they will be able to continue operating in the event of missile attacks. Surprise inspections have become Gantz's trademark since he took up his post in February 2011.
        At the end of a visit to an air force base a few months ago, Gantz announced that the Syrian Air Force had infiltrated Israeli airspace and was on its way to bomb targets. Gantz watched as fighter jets were mobilized and pilots suited up and jumped into their cockpits. He called off the surprise drill only after the jets were already on the runway and about to take off. Gantz has explained that the objective of the drills is to help create a new mindset within the IDF, to be prepared for a war that could erupt without warning. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Cracks Down on Palestinian Journalists - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA security forces in the West Bank on Sunday arrested journalist Tarek Khamis for criticizing on Facebook the PA's recent arrest of female journalist and blogger Esmat Abdel Khalik. Khalik was arrested last week after she posted derogatory remarks about PA President Mahmoud Abbas on her Facebook page. A third journalist, Youssef al-Shayeb, was also arrested last week for exposing corruption in the Palestinian diplomatic mission in France.
        Commenting on the clampdown, Palestinian journalist Adel Samara said: "This is a totalitarian regime. What would happen when we fulfill our dream of having our own state? We will all be sitting with al-Shayeb [in prison]."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Understanding the Arab Spring - Henry Kissinger
    The Arab Spring is widely presented as a regional, youth-led revolution on behalf of liberal democratic principles. Yet Libya is not ruled by such forces; it hardly continues as a state. Neither is Egypt, whose electoral majority (possibly permanent) is overwhelmingly Islamist. Nor do democrats seem to predominate in the Syrian opposition.
        The Arab League consensus on Syria is not shaped by countries previously distinguished by the practice or advocacy of democracy. Rather, it largely reflects the millennium-old conflict between Shiite and Sunni and an attempt to reclaim Sunni dominance from a Shiite minority. It is also precisely why so many minority groups, such as Druze, Kurds and Christians, are uneasy about regime change in Syria. (Washington Post)
  • Legalizing Targeted Killings - Dore Gold
    Israel has absorbed incessant criticism for its policy of targeted killings against the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations. Yet on March 5 at Northwestern University School of Law, U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder announced: "It is entirely target specific senior operational leaders of al-Qaeda and associated forces."
        Holder rejected calling these operations "assassinations." He said, "They are not, and the use of that loaded term is misplaced," because assassinations were "unlawful killings." The terrorist masterminds that were being targeted were combatants, plain and simple. The war on terrorism was not a police action, in which terrorists were to be arrested and read their rights.
        Targeted killings using drones increased dramatically in George W. Bush's last year in office and especially during Barack Obama's presidency. After U.S. forces eliminated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, Professor Alan Dershowitz noted that all the states ganging up on Israel for killing Hamas leaders were now silent about the case of Bin Laden.
        This was a case of global hypocrisy. The NATO allies in Afghanistan were benefiting from targeted killings by U.S. forces against the Taliban. The Russian parliament adopted a law in 2006 permitting Russian security services, with the approval of the president, to kill alleged terrorists overseas. Belatedly, the major powers are validating the same Israeli strategy against terrorism that they had universally condemned a little more than a decade ago. (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Complicit with PA Budgeting Mischief - Shoshana Bryan
    The Palestinian Authority is crying poverty again, complaining about a decrease in expected levels of foreign aid that will force Palestinians into penury or - heaven forbid - tax increases. U.S. aid amounts to about 15% of the total announced Palestinian budget and nearly 50% of all expected aid.
        Despite the U.S. designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, some of that money goes to Hamas in Gaza. Hamas employs 32,000 people - about two-thirds of whom are security officers, paid out of the PA budget and not counted in Hamas' own official spending. The U.S. gives the PA $200 million in "direct budgetary support," meaning money that can be spent on whatever the PA thinks important - like Hamas security forces. (Or the Palestinian Broadcasting Service - which is not permitted to receive direct U.S. funding because it preaches hate and violence - but which receives money from the PA budget). The writer is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. (P J Media)

A Nuclear Iran Is Too Much to Risk - Alan J. Kuperman (Los Angeles Times)

  • The Iranian regime is mostly rational most of the time. Its rhetoric is blustery, but its actions typically are moderated to avoid provoking retaliation. The problem is that Iran does not always act rationally. Repeatedly over the years, it has launched attacks for apparently little gain.
  • Iran's targets have included the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish community center in Argentina in the early 1990s, and the U.S. military's Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Just last year, the Iranians were behind a botched scheme to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in the U.S.
  • If Iran acquired nuclear weapons, there is a nontrivial chance that it would utilize them in an aggressive fashion. If Israel or the U.S. launched surgical strikes on Iran's key nuclear facilities, Iran probably would act rationally by not retaliating broadly against U.S. interests, which would risk provoking a major U.S. military escalation that could end the Iranian regime.
  • So which should President Obama choose? The small chance of an escalated conventional war against Iran, in which the U.S. would enjoy overwhelming military superiority? Or a similarly small, but significant, chance that Iran would use nuclear weapons aggressively, inflicting massive casualties? Is there really any question?

    The writer teaches military strategy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, where he also coordinates the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project.

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