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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
June 26, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Egyptian President-Elect Denies Giving Interview on Stronger Ties with Iran (Al Arabiya)
    The Egyptian presidency has denied that President-elect Mohammed Morsi gave an interview to Iran's Fars agency on Monday, in which he had said he was looking to expand ties with Tehran to create a strategic "balance" in the region.
    See also Morsi Interview Controversy Highlights Iran's Press Rift - Golnaz Esfandiari (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
    Iran's official state-run news agency, IRNA, was also quick to cast doubt on the Fars interview. The incident provides the latest example of how the ongoing power struggle in the Iranian establishment has apparently pitted IRNA, which is pro-Ahmadinejad, against Fars, which is said to be affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
    In recent months, Fars articles have attacked Ahmadinejad's inner circle, while IRNA last week issued a list of what it called "continued gaffes by Fars."

Syria Rebels Divided, At Times Violent - Ben Hubbard (AP-Boston Globe)
    One of northern Syria's most powerful and best-armed rebel commanders, Ahmed Eissa Al-Sheikh, boasts more than 1,000 fighters, and they don't shy away from rougher tactics themselves. They have released prisoners in bomb-laden cars and then detonated them at army checkpoints - turning the drivers into unwitting suicide bombers.
    While the regime has been brutal, so have some of the rebels - another cause of concern for the West. Several groups said they had sent captured soldiers "to Cyprus," which the rebels use as a euphemism for execution usually by gunfire.
    Almost all the rebels we met were from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, and many consider the fight a religious cause. But most fighters said they did not target other sects, only those who had fought for the regime.
    See also Syrian Rebels: A Force of Sunni Muslim Civilians - David Enders (McClatchy)
    It is untrue that the armed opposition in Syria draws its strength from the defections of soldiers dismayed at being ordered to shoot peaceful demonstrators.
    While defected soldiers are among the rebels, who operate under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, most fighters were civilians when they volunteered to fight the Assad government.
    There are those among them who swear the rebels will march on Jerusalem after Damascus falls, and many more who profess a Syria at peace with Israel is the only option. "The regime in Israel cares more about human rights than the regime in Syria," is another notion voiced by many of the rebels.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • EU Confirms Iran Oil Ban on July 1
    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday: "The EU has agreed that the oil ban against Iran will come into force as planned on 1 July. This is an important step and one for which the UK Government has argued strongly. Alongside new U.S. sanctions, which also come into force this week, these restrictive measures are the toughest ever adopted against the Iranian Government. They reflect the international community's resolve, and our determination, to intensify the peaceful pressure on Iran until it starts to build confidence that its nuclear program is purely peaceful.
        Recent talks between the E3+3 and Iran on its nuclear program were frank but difficult, with little progress made....The UK Government will argue for intensified sanctions over the coming months if there is no progress made in these negotiations."  (Foreign and Commonwealth Office-UK)
        See also South Korea to Halt Iran Oil Imports from July 1 (AP-Washington Post)
  • Turkish Rescue Plane Also Attacked by Syria - Serkan Demirtas
    Syrian security forces fired on a Turkish-flagged search and rescue plane which rushed into Syrian airspace to locate the downed Turkish F4 jet and its two missing pilots June 22, Western diplomatic sources said. Turkey told foreign ambassadors that Syrian air forces had violated the Turkish border five times in recent months but had not been intercepted as these had not been considered "hostile" moves. (Hurriyet-Turkey)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Putin Told Israel He Is Not Obligated to Syria's Assad - Jonathan Lis
    Russian President Vladimir Putin told senior Israeli officials on Monday that while he was not obligated to Syrian President Bashar Assad, he urged the West to think carefully before trying to remove him, a senior Israeli diplomatic source said on Monday. "We asked Putin for Russia to work more actively to preserve stability in Syria, to prevent biological and chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Hizbullah or other terror groups," the source said.
        With regard to Iran, the senior diplomatic source said Jerusalem had "asked Russia to be more passive and continue to honor the UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. We asked that Russia maintain a united front with the West, and not demonstrate relative moderation toward Iran." All told, Israeli officials were satisfied by the talks with Putin, saying the sense was that common ground could be reached on the Iranian nuclear issue. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu's Statement after Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Barak Warns Egypt on Terror from Sinai - Gil Hoffman
    Israel will not tolerate continuing terrorist attacks from the Sinai Peninsula, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF to Deploy Radar along Egyptian Border to Detect Rocket Attacks - Yaakov Katz
    The IDF has decided to deploy radar systems along the border with Egypt to detect and warn of rocket attacks amid concern that terror groups operating in Sinai will escalate their rocket attacks against Israel. Earlier this month, two Katyusha rockets were fired from Sinai and landed near Mitzpe Ramon and Uvda. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Following the Failure of the Moscow Talks - Ephraim Asculai
    As expected, the Istanbul-Baghdad-Moscow talks on Iran's nuclear program did not achieve anything of significance, besides deciding on further, lower level talks. The Iranians are successfully playing for time, as they have done for so many years.
        Iran wants the world to recognize the legitimacy of its uranium enrichment program. Such recognition would enable Iran to retain its technical capabilities, to perfect the enrichment capabilities, and to leave them a potential for a breakout, whenever they decide to do so. While the U.S. views an Iranian breakout as a red line, mandating strong action, Israel views the potential to produce nuclear weapons in a very short time as its red line. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Iran and the Gulf Military Balance - The Conventional and Asymmetric Dimensions - Anthony H. Cordesman and Alexander Wilner
    In the wake of recent failed negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, it seems increasingly unlikely that a political solution will be reached regarding Tehran's increasing uranium enrichment. As a result, some form of military clash between the U.S. and Iran is becoming increasingly likely.
        The Iranian military establishment and the IRGC are steadily acquiring the kind of military assets that can halt or obstruct Gulf shipping and threaten the U.S.' superior conventional naval forces in the region. Although U.S. conventional power would defeat Iranian forces in a protracted conflict, Iran's arsenal of smart munitions, anti-ship cruise missiles, submarines, mines, and fast-attack craft potentially could inflict significant losses on U.S. and allied forces and disrupt Gulf shipping in a surprise attack.
        The military annexes to the November 2011 IAEA report indicate that Iran has made major progress in assembling all the technologies and manufacturing skills necessary to design a fission warhead small enough to mount on a missile and test it through simulated explosive testing. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
  • Stop the Hamas Rocket Assault on Israel - Haim Yellin, Alon Shuster and Yair Farjun
    As heads of the three Israeli regional councils which skirt the border with Gaza, the 130 rockets that were fired on our region over the last few days constitute a sad but all too familiar scenario. Imagine, rockets were falling on your family, your home, your community? The toll from this week's attacks from Gaza includes several wounded civilians, injured when an apartment building was hit. Hamas, backed by Iran and the sole authority in Gaza, proudly took responsibility for many of these attacks on our civilian centers.
        Our small region has been the target of 13,000 rockets fired from Gaza in a decade. More than one million Israelis are in range, living under a cloud of constant fear. In Sderot, 92% of residents have experienced a rocket fall near them, while 49% know someone killed by a rocket.
        We fully recognize the difficulties facing Palestinians in Gaza. But responsibility for their woes rests solely with Hamas. We remember the heady days of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s when we developed cooperative initiatives with the people of Gaza, living just a few short miles away. We have no quarrel with Gaza's citizens and yearn to join with them once more in peaceful partnership. (Telegraph-UK)

Who Lost Egypt? - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)

  • Don't console yourself with the belief that the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is merely symbolic, since the army still has the guns: The examples of revolutionary Iran and present-day Turkey show how easily the conscripts can be bought, the noncoms wooed and the officers purged.
  • Don't console yourself with the idea that now the Islamists will have to prove themselves capable of governing the country. The Brotherhood is the most successful social organization in the Arab world. Its leaders are politically skillful, economically literate and strategically patient.
  • Don't console yourself with the expectation that the Brotherhood will play by the democratic rules that brought it to power. "Democracy is like a streetcar," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Islamist prime minister, observed long ago. "When you come to your stop you get off."
  • Don't console yourself, finally, with hope that Egypt will remain a responsible, status quo player on the international scene. By degrees, Egypt under the Brotherhood will seek to arm Hamas and remilitarize the Sinai. By degrees, it will seek to extract concessions from the U.S. as the price of its good behavior. By degrees, it will make radical alliances in the Middle East and beyond.
  • Who lost Egypt? The Egyptians, obviously. They chose - albeit by a narrow margin - a party that offers Islamic stultification as the solution to every political and personal problem. By the time they come to regret their choice, they won't be in a position to change it.

        See also Will Egypt Become the New Iran? - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)

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