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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 21, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Will the U.S. Open Its Military Depots in Israel in Case of War? - Sarah Leibovitz-Dar (Al Monitor)
    Six secret American supply bases are spread throughout Israel. According to foreign reports, these depots are chock-full of ammunition, smart bombs, missiles, an assortment of military vehicles and a military hospital with 500 beds.
    If Israel will be forced to take action against Iran, whether alone or together with the U.S., there is high probability that it will need a strategic home front - in the guise of those bases.

Deputy Speaker of Hamas Parliament Calls for Annihilation of Jews and Americans (MEMRI)
    In a sermon broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV on August 10, 2012, Deputy Speaker of the Hamas Parliament Ahmad Bahr said:
    "Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, destroy the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one."

Israel, U.S. Conduct Joint Naval Exercises - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. and Israeli navies conducted a joint search-and-rescue exercise in the Mediterranean Sea last week. The four-day exercise, known as Reliant Mermaid, included the use of live fire.
    The U.S. participants included Aegis guided-missile destroyers of the type that could help defend Israel against Iranian missiles.

Israel Nabs Palestinian Terror Cell - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Security Agency recently uncovered a Palestinian terror cell plotting to attack Israeli troops guarding checkpoints, as well as planning to abduct soldiers or settlers.
    Four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine cell were arrested and indicted in an IDF court this week. Three of the suspects had been jailed in Israel previously.
    The cell planned to use the weapons of one member, Yousef Alian, who worked in the Palestinian Preventive Security Force.

Anti-Semitic Entry Wins Iran's "Wall Street Downfall" Cartoon Contest - Golnaz Esfandiari (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
    A cartoon by an Iranian illustrator that portrays stereotyped Jews worshipping the New York Stock Exchange has won first prize in Iran's "International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival."
    Judges chose from a pool of 1,600 cartoons - with the top 12 displayed in this article.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama Threatens Force in Syria over Chemical Weapons - Mark Landler
    President Obama warned Syria on Monday that it would face American military intervention if there were signs that its arsenal of unconventional weapons was being moved or prepared for use. The warning brings Mr. Obama a step closer to direct American engagement. The specter of unconventional weapons being loosed in the heart of the Arab world, he said, would upend his calculation that military intervention would only worsen the situation. "We cannot have a situation in which chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people," he said. (New York Times)
        See also Dealing with Syria's Chemical Weapons: Military Options - Michael Eisenstadt (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Unease Grows over Syria's Chemical Weapons (International Institute for Strategic Studies)
  • U.S. Seizes Hizbullah-Linked Cash - Samuel Rubenfeld
    U.S. officials said Monday they seized $150 million from a New York correspondent account of Lebanon's Banque Libano Francaise SAL, or BLF. They said entities linked to Hizbullah used the U.S. financial system to launder money through West Africa and back to the group's base in Lebanon. (Wall Street Journal)
  • In Egypt's Sinai, Violence Poses New Challenge for Peacekeepers - Ernesto Londono
    A U.S.-military-dominated peacekeeping force of 1,650 troops in Egypt's Sinai is finding itself caught between restive Bedouin tribesmen and an escalating Egyptian army offensive against insurgents. At least one of the militant groups operating in Sinai has called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from the peninsula.
        "We're now confronted by a population that was once passive and peaceful and has now turned belligerent," said Agustin Espinosa, the Uruguayan ambassador in Cairo, whose country has the fourth-largest contingent in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). In recent months, Bedouin tribesmen in Sinai have held up convoys of international troops, refusing to let them pass until Egyptian authorities release imprisoned relatives. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to Cairo: Remove Egyptian Tanks from Sinai - Eli Bardenstein
    After Egypt introduced tanks into northern Sinai as part of its campaign against Islamic terrorists there, the Israeli prime minister's office sent a sharp message to Cairo, via the White House, requesting that Egypt withdraw its tanks immediately. Israel further requested that Egypt cease sending additional military forces into Sinai without prior coordination with Israel, viewing this as a serious violation of the peace treaty between the two countries.
        The involvement of the Americans became necessary after the close coordination between the defense establishments of the two countries was damaged by recent events in Egypt. Israel is concerned that the Egyptians will take advantage of the current situation to increase their armored forces in Sinai for an unlimited period, and thereby bring about a serious change in the terms of the peace treaty. (Maariv-Hebrew, 21Aug12)
        See also Will Egypt Target Safe Haven for Sinai Militants? - Ahmed Abu Draa
    There is an expectation of an Egyptian army takeover in the next few days of Sinai's cave-filled Mount Halal near the border with Israel. Hiding in the mountain are some 3,000 fugitives and members of militant groups fleeing sentences in absentia, according to tribesmen. Because of the strong connection they have to Bedouin tribesmen who supply them with information ahead of attempted crackdowns, it is difficult to arrest them.
        After the Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh terrorist bombings in 2004 and 2005, Egypt's Interior Ministry launched a major offensive on the mountain, with a thousand soldiers equipped with armored vehicles and helicopters. The attack lasted for several months, in which two policemen died and three armored vehicles were destroyed, all without directly clashing with the fugitives. Sources say any attempt to penetrate that area is bound to fail if not prearranged with the tribes. (Egypt Independent)
  • Israel Complains to UN over Iranian Hate Speech and Incitement
    Israel wrote to the UN Security Council on Monday protesting its complacency in the face of Iranian hate speech and incitement. "We expect the Security Council and all responsible members of the international community to condemn Iranian hate speech without any further delay," the letter said. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Recent Iranian Statements: Threats, Delegitimization of Israel and Anti-Semitism (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Morsi's Purge Jolts an Entrenched Military Establishment - Jeffrey Fleishman
    The Egyptian military had long been run by aging generals and ambitious colonels who for six decades guarded the nation's power while sitting poolside at social clubs and enriching themselves and their ranks through an intricate business empire. A major or a captain could collect stars on his epaulets and slip gracefully into retirement by managing an olive oil business, a cement factory or a string of other military-controlled corporations that by some estimates account for 10% of the country's economy.
        That opaque world was upended last week by President Mohamed Morsi's purge of the military brass. The armed forces remain a potent counterbalance that can intervene if its commanders sense Morsi is tilting too heavily toward an Islamist agenda. Yet it is the president who is now suddenly on top. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Intervention in Syria Is a Trap - Daniel Pipes
    Many Western voices want to arm the Syrian rebels, set up safe zones and even join their war against the Assad government. But does intervention in Syria promote our own interests? The rebels are Islamist and intend to build an ideological government even more hostile to the West than Assad's. If the rebels prevail, their break in relations with Tehran will be offset by their assistance for the barbarism of Islamism's Sunni forces.
        Syria's rebels do not need Western help to bring down the regime (and wouldn't be grateful for it if they did receive it, if Iraq is any guide). The Syrian conflict at its core pits the country's disenfranchised Sunni Arab 70% majority against Assad's privileged Alawi 12% minority.
        Hastening the Assad regime's collapse will not save lives. It will merely mark the close of the opening chapter in the conflict, with yet worse violence likely to follow. As Sunnis finally avenge their nearly 40 years of subjugation by Alawis, a victory by the rebels portends potential genocide. The writer, president of the Middle East Forum, is a visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Washington Times)
  • Iran's Role in Syria's War Makes a Quick Conclusion Unlikely - Ranj Alaaldin
    Iranian military advisers can teach Syrians what few states know how to do effectively: defeat armed, non-state entities such as the ragtag groups now engaged in urban warfare. Iran knows all about such groups; it has created, trained and armed insurgent groups of this type for more than three decades - and with effect, as U.S. and British forces found out in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. If anyone knows the tactics of such groups, Iran does. The writer is a senior analyst with the Next Century Foundation in London. (The National-Abu Dhabi)

Shaping the International Environment If Iran Diplomacy Fails - Dennis B. Ross (New York Times)

  • Israeli leaders are signaling not just increasing impatience with the pace of diplomacy but also Israel's growing readiness to act militarily on its own against Iranian nuclear facilities. Although the U.S. and Israel share the same objective of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, the two differ on the point at which it may become necessary to act militarily to forestall the Iranian nuclear advance.
  • Neither America nor Israel can fully destroy the Iranian capability to build a nuclear weapon. Since 2007, when Iran mastered the full nuclear fuel cycle and the means to enrich uranium on its own, it has been too late for that.
  • America thinks in terms of shaping an international environment so that if force becomes necessary it can be justified because diplomacy has been demonstrably exhausted and Iran will appear to have essentially brought war on itself.
  • America should begin discussions with the P5+1 about a "day after" strategy in the event that diplomacy fails and force is used. This would signal to both Israel and Iran that we mean what we say about all options being on the table.

    The writer, a special assistant to President Obama for the Middle East and South Asia from 2009 to 2011, is a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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