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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 14, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Bashar Assad's Brother Maher Severely Injured in Damascus Bombing - Ron Friedman (Times of Israel)
    Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the Saudi paper Al-Wattan that Syrian President Bashar Assad's brother, Maher, was severely injured in the blast that killed several key regime officials in Damascus last month.
    According to the report, Maher Assad, who is the commander of Syria's 4th Division and the Republican Guards in charge of protecting the capital, lost his legs and suffered life-threatening injuries to his lower body in the explosion.

Iranian Opposition: Iranians Captured in Syria Are IRGC Officers - Nadia Al-Turki (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Iranian authorities claim the 48 Iranians taken hostage by the Free Syrian Army are religious pilgrims.
    However, Iranian opposition figure Dowlat Norouzi told Asharq Al-Awsat that "the information coming from Iranian opposition sources is that the commander, deputy commander and head of artillery of the IRGC Martyrs Forces, as well as a number of operational and intelligence officers based out of the IRGC Hamza base [in northwestern Iran]...are among the 48 captured Iranians."
    The IRGC officers were in Syria to actively participate in field operations, their role was not limited to training or consulting, and they were armed upon arrival in the country, Iranian opposition sources said.

Russia's Naval Base in Tartus, Syria - Christopher Harmer (Institute for the Study of War)
    The Syrian port of Tartus is the only naval base outside of the former Soviet Union still held by the Russian military.
    Its pier facilities are robust enough to support all the ships of the Russian fleet except the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier.
    After the support it has provided to the Assad regime thus far, it would be difficult for Russia to establish a relationship with a new Sunni majority government in Damascus.

Chinese Navy Ships Visit Israel's Haifa Port (Xinhua-China)
    The Chinese navy's 11th escort fleet arrived in Israel's Haifa Port Monday, starting a four-day goodwill visit.
    The flotilla finished in July a four-month international escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters, successfully driving away 126 pirate vessels in 58 incidents.
    See also Photo: Chinese Navy Docks in Haifa (Israel Defense Forces)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egypt's New Top General Is Muslim Brotherhood Sympathizer - Matt Bradley and Adam Entous
    People with knowledge of the Egyptian military said Egypt's new top military officer, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, has a broad reputation within military circles as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. "Sissi is known inside the military for being a Muslim Brother in the closet," said Zeinab Abul Magd, a professor at the American University in Cairo and an expert on Egypt's military. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Egypt Lifts a Junior Corps Impatient over Military Failure - Kareem Fahim and Mayy el Sheikh
    In his purge of Egypt's top generals, President Mohamed Morsi leaned on the support of a junior officer corps that blamed the old guard for a litany of problems within the military and for involving the armed forces too deeply in the country's politics. One ranking officer said the military had grown increasingly demoralized because of meager salaries, cronyism, shoddy equipment, a lack of promotion opportunities and growing confusion over the role of its leaders.
        On Monday, a day after the generals' ouster, there were no signs that the military was mobilizing in protest. That led many analysts to suspect that the president had reached an accommodation with a new generation of military leaders who were seeking to restore the armed forces' credibility, enhance their own positions, and preserve the military's privileged and protected place in society. (New York Times)
  • Aleppo Is Becoming Syria's Stalingrad - Richard Spencer
    Syria's cities are gradually being ground to dust. A stream of pick-up trucks heads north out of Aleppo each day, carrying the bodies of slain shop-keepers and car mechanics, amateur revolutionaries finding permanent peace in the home villages they left just a few days ago. Aleppo is not yet Stalingrad, or even Homs, parts of which are a wasteland of wrecked buildings. But the shelling of the city began in earnest this week, when the army surged into the western suburb of Salaheddin. With the regime afraid to send in ground troops - allegedly because they fear they might defect - the assault is led from the skies. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Ramadan in Aleppo - Michael Weiss (Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Morsi's Velvet Revolution - Zvi Mazel
    Without firing a single shot, President Mohamed Morsi managed to neutralize the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and complete his takeover of Egypt. Morsi unilaterally amended article 25 of the temporary constitution - adopted by referendum in March 2011 - which defined the presidential powers, and revoked the supplementary constitutional declaration that gave the army extraordinary powers - including the right to decide on its budget and to declare war.
        In addition to forcing the minister of defense and the chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces into retirement, Morsi went on to fire the commanders of the navy, air force, and the anti-aircraft unit. A look at the newly promoted generals, minister of defense and chief of staff clearly shows that the Brotherhood had planted quite a number of "sleepers," officers loyal to the cause and biding their time. Morsi now holds dictatorial powers surpassing by far those of President Hosni Mubarak.
        Though Egypt will strive to maintain good relations with the U.S. in order to continue receiving impressive sums in military and other aid, it is turning more and more to Arab countries for help. Already the emir of Qatar has deposited $2 billion in Egyptian coffers, and Saudi Arabia did the same a few weeks ago. Libya may do this as well. The writer is a former ambassador to Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Danger to Israel-Egypt Ties - Alex Fishman
    While newly-appointed Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the former intelligence chief, maintained working relations with his counterparts in Israel, he is viewed as a critic of the Jewish state. (Ynet News)
        See also In Egypt, Rule by Constitution or Fiat? - David Schenker (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel Will Stop Hizbullah Rocket Attack "with Great Force" - Herb Keinon
    Former Mossad head Danny Yatom warned Monday against presenting an apocalyptic picture of how Iran would respond if Israel took military action against its nuclear program. While acknowledging that Iran had a few hundred missiles that could reach Israel, Yatom said the central concern was the tens of thousands of rockets in Hizbullah and Hamas storehouses in Lebanon and Gaza.
        Yatom said that the lesson Israel learned from the 2006 Second Lebanon War was that "we will have to stop the firing of missiles, both from the north and the south, as quickly as possible." To do this, Israel would have to "act with great force against infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza, and it is possible that the price that Lebanon and Gaza will pay will be horrible. We are liable to destroy, or likely to destroy, parts of Lebanon and parts of Gaza, so that our citizens will not suffer and be killed."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arson Seen in Many Jerusalem-Area Fires - Melanie Lidman
    Jerusalem firefighters have battled almost 5,000 fires in open areas in the past four months. Some 60% of the fires in open areas are arson, according to Jerusalem Fire and Rescue spokesman Asaf Abras. Six Arab youth with nationalistic motives have been arrested for starting fires. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Favorite Bankers - L. Gordon Crovitz
    Today, finance is conducted digitally, making it possible - so long as banks cooperate - to impose economic sanctions on belligerents like Iran. Last week New York's top bank regulator alleged that a large British bank, Standard Chartered, had become a "rogue institution" that "schemed" with Iran to cover up illegal transactions, leaving the "U.S. financial system vulnerable to terrorists."
        Standard Chartered will have to explain to regulators its alleged "wire stripping," a practice that deleted the names of Iranian banks from the digital records of U.S. dollar wire transfers. Standard Chartered bankers inserted "No name given" in the required message field in order to hide the names of Iranian customers. Any bank that helps Iran's nuclear ambitions by undermining sanctions deserves all the harm done to its reputation. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Who Is Trying to Set Egypt Ablaze? - Osman Mirghani
    The people of Sinai previously complained about the lack of security in view of the presence of armed Jihadist groups who were moving freely into and out of Gaza via tunnels, in coordination with extremist Palestinian groups that also sought to extend their presence onto Sinai.
        The Egyptian forces' reaction to the killing of its soldiers in Sinai, by attacking the tunnels at the Egyptian-Palestinian border and closing the Rafah border crossing, reflects the country's shock and anger. This also reflects the Egyptian people's suspicions that Hamas provided the attackers with support; or at the very least turned a blind eye to them and allowed them freedom of movement. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Hizbullah's Karma in Syria - David Schenker
    Prior to the Arab Spring, Hizbullah general secretary Hassan Nasrallah was among the most beloved and feared men in the Arab world. But by supporting the massacres in Syria, Nasrallah and Hizbullah have engendered the hatred of millions of Sunnis next door who almost assuredly will hold a grudge after Assad's departure. The writer is director of the program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Weekly Standard)

Iran Doesn't Belong in the UN or IMF - John Bolton, Mark Wallace and Kristen Silverberg (Wall Street Journal)

  • One step short of force that the "international community" has been unwilling to take is ostracizing Iran from international organizations, such as the UN and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This needs to change.
  • The UN Charter provides that membership is open to "peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter." Yet Iran has repeatedly called for Israel's destruction, using anti-Semitic, anti-Israel rhetoric in violation of the Genocide Convention. It has been repeatedly sanctioned by the Security Council and condemned by the International Atomic Energy Agency for violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Tehran regularly hosts Holocaust-denial conferences as well.
  • Article 6 of the UN Charter explicitly provides for the expulsion of any member "which has persistently violated the Principles contained" therein. That certainly sounds like Iran.

    Mr. Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Ms. Silverberg and Mr. Wallace are the president and CEO, respectively, of United Against Nuclear Iran.

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