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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
August 23, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas' Corruption - Jonathan Schanzer (Jerusalem Post)
    A recent poll indicated that 70% of Palestinians view the longtime leaders of the PA as irreparably corrupt.
    However, the same poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, found that 57% believe there is widespread corruption in Hamas' Gaza institutions as well, despite its successful electoral campaign in 2006 that promised to clean up corruption.
    In October 2011, the Guardian reported that Hamas members were acquiring large homes and fancy cars. As a Gazan confided to the Guardian, "Hamas is a party that only benefits its own party, its own supporters. If you want a job, if you want to do business, you must be a supporter of Hamas."
    In April 2012, the Washington Post reported, "Hamas has hired more than 40,000 civil servants, and analysts say the top tiers are filled by loyalists. Members of the Hamas elite are widely thought to have enriched themselves through investment in the dusty labyrinth of smuggling tunnels."
    An AP report added, "Audis, Porsches and Hummers are driven around potholed streets by a newly wealthy class of black market traders who benefit from the [Hamas] regime."
    The writer, a former terrorism intelligence analyst at the U.S. Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

How Palestinians Keep Shooting Themselves in the Foot - Hisham Jarallah (Gatestone Institute)
    Israel is opening its doors to Palestinian workers from the West Bank. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reported that at least 80,000 Palestinians were now working in Israel and in Jewish settlements, while the Israeli government is to issue another 10,000 work permits to Palestinians from the West Bank.
    Indeed, the number of Palestinians working in Jewish settlements has increased despite PA calls to boycott the settlements.
    Despite the billions of dollars that were showered on the PA by the international community, it still has not been able to solve the problem of unemployment in the Palestinian territories.
    Instead of using the money to create new jobs, the PLO leadership stole most of the funds.
    Suicide bombings and financial and administrative corruption are the main reasons why the Palestinian economy remains as weak as ever.
    The Palestinians are experts in shooting themselves in the foot and then blaming Israel.

Islamic Law Rises in Sinai - Mohannad Sabry (Washington Times)
    Residents of El Arish in Sinai crowd "The House of Sharia Law" waiting for the Salafist cleric turned judge to hear their cases.
    With almost no government authority left in Sinai, Salafist clerics with their strict and puritanical interpretation of Islam have moved into the vacuum, establishing dozens of Sharia courts in an attempt to replace tribal tribunals that have long served as alternatives to government courts.
    The Islamic courts are free of charge. The tribal courts failed to maintain their reputation because tribal judges were known for taking bribes.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran's Supreme Leader Orders Fresh Terror Attacks on West - Con Coughlin
    Iran's Supreme Leader has ordered the country's Revolutionary Guards to intensify its campaign of terror attacks against the West and its allies in retaliation for supporting the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. According to Western intelligence officials, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave the order to Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force commander, following a recent emergency meeting of Iran's National Security Council to discuss the implications of the Assad regime's overthrow. "The Iranian regime now seems determined to retaliate for what they regard as the West's attempts to influence the outcome of the Syrian unrest," said a senior Western intelligence official.
        Damascus is Iran's most important regional ally, and the survival of the Assad regime is regarded as vital to sustaining the Iranian-backed Hizbullah militia which controls southern Lebanon. The Quds Force has recently been implicated in a series of terror attacks against Western targets, which intelligence officials believe were carried out by its Unit 400, which runs special overseas operations. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Despite U.S. and Israeli Objections, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Attend Conference in Iran - Rick Gladstone
    On Wednesday the UN announced that Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, would join officials from 120 countries in Tehran next week for the summit meeting of the Nonaligned Movement, that Iran has trumpeted as a vindication of its defiance and enduring importance in world affairs. Ban's decision to attend the meeting came despite objections from both the Americans and Israelis, including a phone call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
        A number of pro-Israel voices in the U.S. had exhorted Ban not to visit Iran. American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said: "We are stunned that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would honor a regime that consistently ignores both him and the world body he heads in ways that threaten regional and global security."  (New York Times)
  • Developments in Iran and Sinai Deepen Israel's Worries about Egypt - Jodi Rudoren
    With Egypt's new Islamist president headed to Iran next week and its military deploying tanks in the Sinai Peninsula - possibly outside the parameters of his nation's 33-year-old treaty with Israel - officials in Israel are increasingly worried about what has long been their most critical regional relationship.
        "To the extent that the Egyptian government challenges the clauses of the treaty of peace with Israel, it undermines the regional peace process as a whole - it's a big deal," said Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "If you don't state clearly what your concerns are as the Egyptians increase their forces in Sinai, you could end up with a fait accompli that undermines your most vital security interest."  (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Demands "Complete Adherence" to Egypt Peace Treaty
    Amos Gilad, head of the Political Diplomatic Bureau at the Israel Ministry of Defense, told Israel Radio on Wednesday that Israel has made it clear to Egypt and the U.S. that it will not accept any violation of the military appendix of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, which mandates that the Sinai Peninsula remain demilitarized, and that any changes must be coordinated and agreed upon by both sides. Gilad said Israel was in "constant contact" with the Egyptians and that Israel's message was being heard.
        "When the Egyptians introduce weapons that are not included in the agreement we check it and we talk to the Egyptians about it....We will not agree to a violation of the military appendix of the peace agreement. Israel is keeping things in proportion, and we are standing fast by our interests." The Egyptians "are fighting against an al-Qaeda-like group of terrorists whose aim is to carry out strategic attacks that would force a confrontation between Israel and Egypt," Gilad said. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Israel, Egypt in Talks over Sinai Campaign
    Israel and Egypt are negotiating over allowing increased forces into Sinai, after Israeli officials complained about the buildup of Egyptian armor in the region. An Egyptian military source said Wednesday that both sides have met at the Kerem Shalom crossing at least six times over the past three days and that the talks have generated "remarkable progress." Israel has indicated that it understands Egypt's position even though it opposes some of the weaponry being brought into Sinai, the Egyptian official explained. (Maan News-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • No American Leader Will Ever Attack Iran - Lee Smith
    George Bush did not attack Iran because he was already waging war in two Middle Eastern theaters and did not want to go down in the history books as the president who only waged wars on Muslims. Barack Obama has not attacked Iran in his first term and is highly unlikely to do so in his second term because his Middle East policy is one of extrication from the region, not further military involvement. After the Obama White House revealed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington, it exacted no price from Iran for planning an operation in the American capital that might have cost the lives of hundreds of American citizens.
        No American president has ever drawn red lines for Tehran and enforced them by showing that transgressions are swiftly and severely punished. Jimmy Carter sat by idly when Ayatollah Khomeini and the founders of the Islamic Republic stormed the U.S. embassy and held Americans hostage for 444 days. Ronald Reagan provided the Iranians with arms - after the Islamic Republic's Lebanese asset, Hizbullah, killed 241 U.S. Marines in the 1983 bombing of their barracks at the Beirut airport. When the FBI said Tehran was responsible for the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers, Bill Clinton failed to respond or even name Iran.
        If you can kill Americans without any consequences, you can certainly build a nuclear weapons facility without too much concern that the Americans are really keeping "all options on the table"; the White House is not and almost surely never will - no matter who's calling the shots.
        Surely by now Israeli leaders know that, given the various trend-lines of American policy toward Iran, no U.S. president is going to take military action against Iran. The Israeli half of the conversation is no longer about pressuring their American allies. Rather, it seems to be preparing the Israeli public for an attack. The writer is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Tablet)
        See also Time to Authorize Use of Force Against Iran - Elliott Abrams
    Why would Israel, with so much less power than the U.S., decide to take on a task at the far outer edge of its military capacities? Why not leave that task to the superpower, which would do a much better job? The answer is simple: Israelis do not believe the U.S. will perform the task - will ever use military force, even as a last resort, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In that belief Israel's view is shared by Iran.
        Iran's leaders feel free to delay forever, present ridiculous proposals, and refuse to engage in serious bargaining. Meanwhile they push their nuclear program forward.
        An effort by the president to seek a formal authorization for the use of force from Congress is a way for him to show seriousness of purpose, and for Congress to support it - and send an unmistakable message to the ayatollahs. Such a proposal would be controversial, but its very presentation would show a new level of clarity and commitment. And should such a resolution fail, everyone would be clear that the U.S. was not going to act and that Israel need delay no longer. (Weekly Standard)

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei: The Most Dangerous Man in the World - Reuel Marc Gerecht (Weekly Standard)

  • Although the Islamic Republic is moving ever closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon, the ruling caste - Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in particular - has not been adroit in advancing the cause. Western indecision, timidity, and greed rather than Iranian diplomatic skill and strategic acumen have permitted the steady progress of the nuclear program.
  • It's now entirely conceivable that the Europeans will follow the American lead in responding to any Israeli preemptive strike. Senior French officials regularly suggest that Paris could not stand idly by and watch Iran or the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hizbullah retaliate against Israel, where more than 100,000 French Jews are often in residence. For good reason, Jerusalem is no longer seriously concerned about an EU boycott after an Israeli strike.
  • The recently published biography of supreme leader Khamenei - Sharh-e Ism (Explanation of the Name), written by Hedayatollah Behboodi and funded by the Iranian intelligence ministry - shows a man obsessed with Islamic ethics, fearful of and tempted by Western culture, and filled with venom toward those who don't recognize his worth. Khamenei is obsessed with stopping the Western cultural invasion of his country, which he sees as a largely American plot. Obama thought that the differences between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic were largely the product of misunderstanding and American hubris. Obama extended his hand. Seeing the devil, Khamenei recoiled.
  • In his speech in March before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the president pledged that he would not allow the Islamic Republic to acquire a bomb: "Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment." If Tehran stockpiles enough 20% uranium to make several atomic bombs, which will happen next year, it will become extremely difficult to claim that Iran hasn't yet become a nuclear-weapons state. And if Iran obtains nuclear arms, Khamenei would have defeated the U.S. - the West - in an epic struggle.

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