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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
July 3, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Agents in Kenya Planned Attacks on Israeli, U.S. Targets (AP-Washington Post)
    Officials in Kenya say that two Iranian agents arrested with explosives planned to attack Israeli, American, British or Saudi Arabian targets inside Kenya.
    Kenyan security forces arrested the Iranians in June and were led to 15 kg. of RDX, a powerful explosive, in Mombasa.
    One official said the Iranians are members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.

Rights Group: Syria Running 27 Torture Centers (Reuters)
    Syrian intelligence agencies are running 27 torture centers across the country, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
    Documented torture methods "clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity," the report said.
    The group called for the UN Security Council to refer the issue of Syria to the International Criminal Court and to adopt targeted sanctions against officials carrying out abuse.
    See also Torture in Syria (Human Rights Watch)

Gulf States Apprehensive of Egypt (Mideast Mirror, 2July2012)
    "The Arab Gulf states are apprehensive of post-Mubarak Egypt and especially of the Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt," writes Mohammad bin Houeidin in the UAE daily al-Bayan.
    The Arab Gulf states are not opposed to Egypt establishing relations with Iran. But the Egyptian president must weigh the matter from the perspective of the Egyptian and Gulf common interest if he is to secure the Arab Gulf states' friendship.
    This is especially true given that President Morsi is in greater need of Gulf backing for the programs he announced during his electoral campaign than that of other parties.
    Morsi should not try to promote the Brotherhood's thought in the Gulf or back the Brotherhood's views - bearing in mind that the Brotherhood's activities are banned in the Gulf states.

Israeli Technology to Secure France's Louvre - Sagi Cohen (Ynet News)
    Synel, an Israeli subsidiary company based in France, has been awarded a contract by the Louvre Museum to install a comprehensive system for security access control combined with electronic attendance.
    According to Erez Buganim, Synel's vice president of marketing, "Synel offers a technological solution which will monitor unauthorized entries into the museum and within the museum's exhibition spaces."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Adds Forces in Persian Gulf, a Signal to Iran - Thom Shanker, Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger
    The U.S. has quietly moved significant military reinforcements into the Persian Gulf to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz, and to increase the number of fighter jets capable of striking deep into Iran if the standoff over its nuclear program escalates. The Navy has doubled the number of minesweepers assigned to the region, to eight.
        "The message to Iran is, 'Don't even think about closing the strait,'" one senior Defense Department official said. "This is not only about Iranian nuclear ambitions, but about Iran's regional hegemonic ambitions," the official said. (New York Times)
        See also Using Intelligence and Military Means to Bolster Diplomacy with Iran - Michael Eisenstadt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Already Plagued by Inflation, Iran Is Bracing for Worse - Thomas Erdbrink
    Bedeviled by government mismanagement of the economy and international sanctions over its nuclear program, Iran is in the grip of spiraling inflation. The local currency, the rial, has lost 50% of its value in the last year against other currencies. The price of bread has increased 16-fold since the withdrawal of state subsidies in 2010. On June 28, an Islamic Revolutionary Guards official admitted in an interview with the corps' own publication, Sobh-e Sadegh, that the government had been late in paying soldiers their wages.
        Economists say much of the damage to the economy has been self-inflicted, as the Ahmadinejad government went on an import spending spree after oil revenues started hitting record levels from 2005 on. With the government buying so many goods from abroad, many domestic producers were forced to lay off workers and close factories. Yet Tehran still appears to be thriving; Porsche sold more cars there in 2011 than anywhere else in the Middle East, and supermarkets and stores brim with imported products. (New York Times)
  • Mounting Pressure on the Syrian Army - Jeffrey White
    Syria's internal war has evolved from scattered clashes to more or less sustained combat nearly every day in Idlib, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Deir al-Zour, Deraa, and the Damascus countryside. Last month saw fighting in more than 80 locations. For regime forces, lines of communication are long and vulnerable to attack, as evidenced by the many destroyed vehicles seen along the road system. The army is facing increased attrition in men and equipment due to combat action, defections, and desertions. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also 85 Syrian Soldiers Defect to Turkey (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Iranians Help Hizbullah Build Military Tunnels in Lebanon - Joanna Paraszczuk
    Hizbullah has upgraded its network of tunnels in southern Lebanon to secure itself against airstrikes in a future war with Israel, according to a report by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Joumhouria on Monday. The tunnels contain underground stores of weapons and ammunition, and are equipped with ventilation, lighting and communication networks. They contain dormitories, medical facilities, kitchens, toilets, and water and heating systems that allow dozens of terrorists to live underground for weeks at a time. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Hopes New Technology Would End Terrorists' Tunneling Activity
    The Israel Defense Forces plans to install a new underground system along the Gaza border to detect tunneling activity in its early stages, Army Radio reported Monday. The new system uses existing technologies, such as sensors used by the Israeli Navy and geophones used for oil exploration. (Israel Hayom)
  • Fourth Century Synagogue Discovered in Galilee
    A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (ca. 4th-5th centuries CE) has been discovered in archaeological excavations at the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq in Israel's Galilee. Excavations have revealed portions of a stunning mosaic floor with a scene depicting Samson placing torches between the tails of foxes (see Judges 15). In another scene, two human faces flank a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription.
        "Only a small number of ancient synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson," said Prof. Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Israel Antiquities Authority)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • For Iran, Sanctions Are a Price Worth Paying to Preserve the Islamic Republic - Hadi Kahalzadeh and John Schiemann
    Sanctions against Iran are predicated on a "rational actor model" in which the West hopes Iran's leaders will eventually find it in their own interests to give up their nuclear program. But for Iran's leaders, ideological and security concerns trump economic ones. In the eyes of the Iranian leadership, the "struggle against imperialism," one of the Islamic Republic's founding myths, is of far more importance than losing even billions of dollars.
        To supreme leader Ali Khamenei, continuation of its nuclear program and pursuance of its regional ambitions are key to the regime's long-term security. With Iran and the West playing different games, a peaceful resolution in the near future seems very unlikely. Hadi Kahalzadeh is a visiting scholar at Fairleigh Dickinson University. John Schiemann is chair of the department of social sciences and history at Fairleigh Dickinson. (Guardian-UK)
        See also U.S. Bets New Oil Sanctions Will Change Iran's Tune - Annie Lowrey and David E. Sanger (New York Times)
  • Bombing or the Bomb? - David Ignatius
    Israel faces a decision between "bombing or the bomb." In other words, if Israel doesn't attack, Iran will eventually obtain nuclear weapons. "It's not a bluff, they're serious about it," says Efraim Halevy, a former head of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. A half-dozen other experts and officials made the same point in interviews last week: The world shouldn't relax and assume that a showdown with Iran has been postponed until next year. In Israel, the alarm light is still flashing red.
        The negotiations with Iran by the "P5+1," rather than easing Israel's anxieties, may actually have deepened them. Netanyahu sees his country's very existence at stake, and he's prepared for Israel to go it alone because he's unwilling to entrust the survival of the Jewish state to others. (Washington Post)

On Iran, Israel Can't Be Wrong Once - Geoffrey St. John (Ottawa Citizen-Canada)

  • Though American intelligence has recently assessed that Iran's leadership has yet to decide whether actually to build its first nuclear weapon, there is little doubt that Iran seeks the technical capability to assemble such arms rapidly, should it make the decision to "go nuclear." For all intents and purposes, such a technical capability is tantamount to having nuclear weapons.
  • It has been argued that it is only "fair" that Iran should be allowed to have nuclear weapons, since countries such as Israel possess them. This argument has no traction in the real world of international politics. The stakes involved are simply too high to allow any argument of the "justice" of Iran having nuclear weapons to trump the vital national security interests of countries to which Iran is hostile.
  • Irrespective of the exact words used by Iranian leaders when talking about Israel, the tone is unquestionably menacing. Indeed, it is more than just words. Iran continues to arm both Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon and Palestinian terrorists in Gaza with increasingly long-range rockets and missiles, some of which have already been launched against Israel. The first shots in the war between Israel and Iran were fired long ago by Lebanese and Palestinian militants.
  • Given its very small size, Israel has only to be wrong once about Iran to suffer the devastating consequences of an Iranian nuclear attack.

    The writer was the Canadian Defense Attache to Israel from 2004 to 2008.

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