Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
August 15, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Syria's Summer War and the Fate of the Regime - Jeffrey White (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Syria's internal war has increased dramatically in intensity and scope over the past three months. Reported clashes between regime forces and the armed opposition doubled in May, then again in June, and yet again in July.
    Last month was the most violent of the war, with some 552 clashes reported and an estimated 1,100 regime personnel killed or wounded. Although the armed rebels also took casualties (estimated at 624 in July), their strength in men and combat formations appeared to grow. There were escalating clashes in 9 of 14 provinces in July.
    Going forward, the regime will likely begin breaking into pieces. It will fight hardest to hold Aleppo, Damascus, and the Alawite heartland, but the portion of the country fully under government control is shrinking.
    The writer, a defense fellow at The Washington Institute, is a former senior defense intelligence officer.

Israel Insists on Hizbullah Trace in Bulgaria Bombing (Sofia News Agency-Bulgaria)
    Ilana Stein, deputy spokesperson at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, has hinted of Iranian or Lebanese involvement in the July 18 bus bombing in Bulgaria's Black Sea coastal city of Burgas.
    "We know for certain that Iran and Hizbullah are involved - we have ample evidence confirming that. I cannot declare it in public, but they have been convicted behind closed doors," Stein said.

Report: Israel to Raise Quota of Palestinian Workers (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel will increase the quota of Palestinian construction workers permitted to enter the country from 19,000 to 30,000 in the coming weeks, Army Radio reported Wednesday.
    The Population, Immigration and Border Authority of the Interior Ministry prefers to employ Palestinians as opposed to other foreigners as the former choose not to settle in Israel.

My Neighbor, the Hamas Leader - Patrick Poole (PJ Media)
    In 2006, I wrote about discovering that an internationally known Hamas cleric was living in my hometown of Hilliard, Ohio.
    The Columbus Dispatch attacked me as a racist and a bigot after I had identified Salah Sultan's rabidly anti-Jewish remarks and his calls for violent jihad.
    Two weeks after the Dispatch article appeared defending Sultan as a well-respected Islamic scholar and local interfaith leader, he appeared on Al-Risala TV where he claimed that the 9/11 attacks were a U.S. government plot to victimize Muslims.
    He appeared last August on Al-Jazeera issuing a fatwa authorizing the assassination of any Israeli in Egypt.
    See also Egyptian Cleric Salah Sultan: People Worldwide "Thirst for the Blood of the Jews" (MEMRI TV)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pentagon: Iran Building, Training Militia in Syria - Lolita C. Baldor
    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday Iran is building and training a militia to help President Assad's regime battle rebel fighters. Panetta also said creating a no-fly zone in the region "is not a front-burner issue" for the U.S. Instead, the U.S. is focusing on providing humanitarian and nonlethal assistance and on ensuring the chemical and biological weapons in Syria are secure. (AP)
  • Ex-Premier Says Syrian Government Is Falling Apart - Damien Cave and Dalal Mawad
    Syria's former prime minister, Riyad Farid Hijab, who fled the country last week, said in Amman on Tuesday in his first public appearance that the government of President Assad was crumbling internally under the pressure of relentless fighting against rebels, and from betrayals by loyalists who want only to flee. "The regime is falling apart morally, materially, economically.... Its military is rusting, and it only controls 30% of Syria's territory." He added that many high-level civilian and military officials in Syria were waiting to defect.
        Fighting continued Tuesday in Aleppo, while in and around Damascus, activists reported heavy shelling and growing numbers of refugees flowing out of the city. (New York Times)
        See also As Refugees Flee Syria, Jordan Starts Taking Sides - Karin Brulliard and Joby Warrick
    Throughout much of the conflict in Syria, Jordan has hewed toward neutrality to avoid antagonizing a powerful neighbor. But the accelerating refugee flow and protracted war have complicated that stance, and the kingdom is increasingly siding with the Syrian regime's opponents.
        Jordan opened its first formal camp for Syrian refugees two weeks ago, after more than 140,000 Syrians fleeing the conflict had already entered the country. Jordanian officials and analysts say there is rising concern about Syrian retaliation or pursuit of opposition activists inside Jordan. (Washington Post)
  • Egypt Condemns 14 Islamist Militants to Death for 2011 Sinai Attack - Yusri Mohamed
    An Egyptian court sentenced to death on Tuesday 14 people it said were Islamist militants for a deadly attack on a police station in al-Arish in northern Sinai in July 2011, killing an army officer, five policemen and a civilian. Six of the condemned men were present in court, while the others were convicted in absentia. They were all accused of being members of the Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad organization. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: Iran Doesn't See American Determination to Block Its Nuclear Program - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Israel may rule out a unilateral attack in Iran should the U.S. toughen its stance with regards to the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, a senior official in Jerusalem claimed. "The problem is that the Iranians are not identifying determination on the American side. This is why they have been accelerating the pace of their uranium enrichment over the past four months. They are also developing the weapon itself at a fast pace," the official said.
        Israel also would like Washington to inform Iran that if significant progress in the negotiations with the P5+1 group is not made within the next two weeks, the talks will be suspended. As long as the negotiations persist, the Iranians remain certain that they are immune to an attack or additional drastic economic measures and will continue to buy time.
        Israel is also urging the U.S. and EU to increase direct economic pressure on Iran. Washington must impose a complete boycott on countries and institutions that conduct business with Iran's central bank and cancel the exemptions given to countries such as South Korea and Japan, which are permitted to purchase oil from Tehran. (Ynet News)
  • Egypt's Morsi Studying Amendment of Camp David Accords with Israel
    President Mohamed Morsi is studying whether to amend the Camp David Accords to ensure Egypt's full sovereignty and control over every inch of Sinai, said Mohamed Gadallah, legal adviser to the president. Calls for amending the peace treaty with Israel have been on the rise since last week's attack on a military checkpoint in Sinai left 16 Egyptian security officers dead. (Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt Independent)
  • EU Adds Major Israeli City to Settlement List - Herb Keinon
    Ignoring a formal Israeli protest, the EU on Tuesday publicized a list of Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line - including parts of Modi'in, Maccabim and Re'ut - from which manufactured products will not be allowed duty-free entrance into Europe. Under the EU-Israel free trade agreement, Israeli products are allowed duty-free entry into the EU, but not goods made in the settlements. Parts of Modi'in, Maccabim and Re'ut lie in an area known after 1949 as "no-man's land."
        "For anyone who deals in reality, there is not the slightest doubt that the Modi'in, Maccabim and Re'ut localities are an integral part of Israel, and their future is not in question," the Israel Foreign Ministry said. "The EU ignores reality when it extends the domain of conflict to places and issues that do not belong there."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • UN Chief Should Boycott Tehran Conference - Editorial
    The UN Security Council has repeatedly voted for sanctions to deter Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This makes it strange that Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, might appear in Tehran to attend the conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, which opens Aug. 26. The conference promises to be a festival of resistance to the U.S., the UN Security Council and Israel. By attending the Tehran conference, Mr. Ban will dignify a bacchanal of nonsense and undermine the work of the Security Council. (Washington Post)
  • Canada Must Fight Iranian Incitement to Genocide - Irwin Cotler
    Combating Iranian incitement is not a matter of a military intervention. Rather, it is a legal responsibility which Canada and Germany - as State Parties to the Genocide Convention - have an obligation to enforce. Indeed, as history has taught us only too well, the Holocaust - and the genocides that followed in Srebrenica, Rwanda and Darfur - occurred not only because of the machinery of death, but because of state-sanctioned incitement to genocide. As the Supreme Court of Canada found, "The genocidal horrors of the Holocaust were made possible by the deliberate incitement of hatred against the Jewish people and other minorities."
        In particular, this genocidal incitement has intensified and escalated in 2012, with the website of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declaring that there is religious "justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel, and Iran must take the helm." Let there be no mistake about it - as the All-Party Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Canadian Parliament found - "Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention."
        State Parties could file a complaint against Iran - which is also a State Party to the Convention - before the International Court of Justice; they could request that the Security Council refer the matter to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who can indict Iranian leaders as it has others. The writer is the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University. (National Post-Canada)
  • Preserving Israel's Uncertain Status Quo - Aaron David Miller
    The PA's state-building enterprise and the security cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian services have generated more than a manageable status quo and all but eliminated terrorism. The Arab Spring has left the Hamas leadership with few options and no real desire to wrangle with the Israelis militarily. And the approaching demise of the Assad regime in Syria will weaken Hizbullah. Two major worries for Israel have all but subordinated the Palestinian issue to the back burner: Egypt's future and Iran's centrifuges.
        On the Iranian nuclear issue, Israel is seeing its worst fears realized. Sanctions hurt but won't retard Iran's enrichment of uranium, and negotiations aren't capable now of producing a deal to stop that process. The fall of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria will help weaken Iran. But it could also serve to accelerate the Iranian nuclear program out of Tehran's fear of Sunni encirclement. (New York Times)

The Role of Hamas in the Formation of Global Jihadi Networks in Sinai - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • As the new Egyptian government completes the process of purging the Egyptian Army and security apparatus, it will become more prone to take bold moves in foreign policy. This will have direct implications for Israel, as Egypt becomes more assertive along with Hamas, its strategic partner, on the Palestinian issue.
  • After the Rafah attack, it was noticeable that the Egyptian government refrained from condemning the terrorists' plan to carry out a mass-casualty attack in Israel. Indeed, senior Muslim Brotherhood figures pointed an accusing finger at Israel, claiming it was behind the attack in an attempt to create a rift between Egypt and Hamas.
  • Apart from the anti-Israel propaganda line, the investigation of the attack by Egyptian intelligence found tracks leading in the direction of Gaza. Security sources in Egypt told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm al-Saba that the Palestinian organization Army of Islam was responsible for the attack. They said that the day before it occurred, there was a meeting in one of the homes of the Army of Islam's leader in Rafah; about 35 activists participated, and it was decided to carry out the attack.   
  • Egypt's policy is similar to that of Hamas toward the Salafi terror organizations within its territory: the regime views the organizations as legitimate and does not intend to proscribe them so long as they do not undermine the central government or harm its basic interests. Similar to Hamas, Egypt seeks to "tame" the Salafi organizations, put an end to their subversion, neutralize their potential damage to Egypt's internal stability, and subject them to the new rules of the game, which will allow them limited freedom for jihad activity without infringing on Egyptian interests or entangling Egypt in direct responsibility for terror.
  • Egypt's supreme interest is to alter the terms of the Camp David agreement and enable full Egyptian sovereignty over all of Sinai, including in the military domain. In the government's view, terror activity from the Egyptian border that does not stamp Egypt as directly responsible, helps exert pressure in Sinai, compelling Israel to agree to a permanent military deployment in the territory and making the demand for a change in the agreement an Israeli interest without Egypt paying any political price for it.

    The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

        See also Mimicking al-Qaeda, Militant Threat Grows in Sinai - Tamim Elyan
    "The Sinai has become a base for all kinds of extremist groups," said Yitzhak Levanon, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. "Their overarching objective is to hurt us, to expel us, to set up a caliphate and shock the Middle East."
        A particular fear is that militant Salafists in Gaza and Sinai are joining forces, creating an environment ripe for al-Qaeda. According to one Arab diplomat in Islamabad, Egyptian members of al-Qaeda have begun to move back from Pakistan to take advantage of political changes at home.
        Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, dismissed suggestions that foreign fighters played a big role in the Sinai border attack. "There are some foreigners in the Sinai, but they are more like hitchhikers," he said. "If it weren't for the fact that so many are heading to Syria, we would see more in Sinai." (Reuters)
        See also Egypt's Extreme Hardliners Have Multiplied in Sinai
    Followers of the group known as Takfir wil-Hijra dream of a puritanical Islamic state in Sinai. Takfir wil-Hijra has swelled in numbers in recent months, multiplying from a few hundred faithful before last year's popular uprising to at least 4,500 in northern Sinai, according to security officials and local Bedouin tribal leaders. (AP-Washington Post)

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