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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
October 11, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Syrian Rebels Detain 13 Hizbullah Members (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    Syrian rebels said they have detained 13 Hizbullah members near Homs.
    "We [vow] to take the battle in Syria to the heart of the [Beirut] southern suburbs if [Hizbullah] does not stop supporting the killer-Syrian regime," Free Syrian Army spokesman Fahd al-Masri said Tuesday.
    "They [the Hizbullah detainees] have confessed to killing and slaughtering [people] in Syria."
    "Hizbullah focuses [its operations] on Damascus' Zabadani area, given that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a military base there," he said. "They also have a huge presence in Qusayr and Talbiseh."

French Investigators: Islamic Radicals Had Bomb-Making Materials and Weapons - Steven Erlanger (New York Times)
    French police investigating Islamic radicals have uncovered bomb-making materials and weapons, the Paris prosecutor, Francois Molins, said in a statement on Wednesday.
    "We are clearly and objectively facing an extremely dangerous terrorist cell," Molins said.
    In the eastern Paris suburb of Torcy, where two of the 12 suspects were arrested, searchers found bags of potassium nitrate, sulfur and saltpeter, along with pressure cookers and headlight bulbs, "all products or instruments useful in the making of what we call improvised explosives."

Hamas and Islamic Jihad Join Forces to Fight Israel - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
    Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas' Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Abu-Ahmad, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigades, told Al-Jazeera on Tuesday that the two groups have formally joined forces to carry out attacks against Israel.
    The movements claimed joint responsibility for at least 50 mortar shells fired into southern Israel Monday morning - the first time since June that Hamas had claimed responsibility for firing into Israel.
    Abu-Ataya, the spokesman of a third armed faction in Gaza - the Salah A-Din Brigades - suggested Wednesday establishing a joint command center with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Israeli Medical Device Maker to Open U.S. Office - Robert Weisman (Boston Globe)
    Argo Medical Technologies Ltd., an Israeli company that makes devices enabling paraplegics to walk, said Tuesday that it will open its U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts and expects to hire up to 40 people within the next 3-5 years.
    The move was disclosed at the AdvaMed 2012 medical technology convention, where a U.S. Army veteran who uses a wheelchair demonstrated Argo's ReWalk device by climbing down from a podium with crutches and ambling through the Boston Convention Center.
    "I am standing, and the doctors told me I would never stand again," said Theresa Hannigan, an Army sergeant. "This is life altering. It gives me independence."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Turkey, Seeking Weapons, Forces Syrian Jet to Land - Anne Barnard and Sebnem Arsu
    Turkey on Wednesday forced a Syrian passenger plane to land in Ankara on suspicion of carrying military cargo. NTV television in Turkey said two Turkish F-16 warplanes intercepted a Syrian Air jetliner with 35 passengers en route from Moscow to Damascus. Inspectors confiscated what NTV described as parts of a missile and allowed the plane to resume its trip. (New York Times)
  • Assad Assumes Command in Syria - Samia Nakhoul
    President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has assumed personal command of his armed forces, still convinced he can prevail militarily. A Facebook picture of Assad dressed in military uniform sums up his transformation since a bomb attack in July killed his inner circle security leadership, including his brother-in-law and defense minister. "He is no longer a president who depends on his team and directs through his aides. This is a fundamental change in Assad's thinking," said a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician with close ties to Assad. "Now he is involved in directing the battle."  (Reuters)
  • Egypt Has a Wider Militancy Problem - Tom Perry
    When they left their village north of Cairo on Aug. 27, Ahmed Waguih and Bahaa Zaqzouq told their families they were going on holiday. A few weeks later the cousins were killed mounting a cross-border raid into Israel. The role of these two young men in the Sep. 21 attack shows that militant groups are appealing to a wider audience since Hosni Mubarak was toppled.
        Islamists of all stripes are flourishing now, said Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Islamist movements based at Durham University in England. "The majority of Salafi Jihadi groups now focus on Israel," he added. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • EU Warned PA of Negative Costs of UN Bid - Herb Keinon
    The European Union is advising the Palestinian Authority to "be careful" regarding its plan to ask the UN for non-member state observer status at the General Assembly, Deputy Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Kourkoulas said Wednesday. Asked what the Palestinians should be careful about, he replied "the possible negative consequences of their decision."
        When the Palestinians sought and gained admission as a state in UNESCO last November, Greece abstained. The 27 EU states split on that vote, with five countries voting against the move, 11 voting for, and 11 abstaining.
        Israel has made clear to the EU that the Palestinian move at the UN would be a serious setback to the diplomatic processes, because no Israeli government would enter negotiations with the Palestinians with the 1967 lines as the starting point, after a UN vote ratifying that position. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Fischer: Security Situation Has Low Economic Impact - Adrian Filut
    "I'm frequently asked about the influence of the security situation on the economy including the tension with Iran," said Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Stanley Fischer at the World Bank-IMF annual meeting in Tokyo. "There is a certain effect felt in the stock market in a particular way, but my feeling is that if there is an impact, then it is small."  (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • As Syria Bleeds, Human Rights Activists Can Only Target Israel - Rabbi Abraham Cooper
    Imagine the morale booster Syrian civilians would get from an international flotilla! Imagine an armada of morality carrying humanitarian aid and the critical message to Syrians: You are not forgotten! But there is no flotilla heading to Syria's Mediterranean ports. Instead, there is one heading to Gaza. But no one in Gaza is starving. The well-connected Hamas "haves" continue to put up magnificent villas and hotels.
        Since the ill-fated 2001 UN Durban anti-racism conference, visceral Jew-hatred masquerading as "anti-Zionism" has corrupted the discourse of the global NGO community, rendering the world's conscience deaf and dumb in the face of the Mideast's newest, truest crime against humanity - the violent displacement of almost one million Syrians. The writer is associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. (Fox News)
  • For Iran's Mullahs, Ahmadinejad Is a Convenient Scapegoat - Ilan Berman
    Iran's firebrand president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now fighting for his political life against domestic opponents who blame him for the country's current fiscal crisis. Some 93 members of Iran's legislature, the Majlis, have issued a motion summoning Ahmadinejad to appear before them for a public accounting of his response to the economic crisis.
        The past two years have seen the emergence of a real rift between Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on a range of social, economic and political issues. Ahmadinejad and his followers are now pejoratively referred to as the "deviant current."
        Ahmadinejad is nearing the end of his second term and cannot run for a third in next summer's elections. Thanks to his very public falling-out with the Supreme Leader, making an example out of him will likely prove cost-free. But scapegoating Ahmadinejad may help the regime to quell popular discontent. The writer is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Abbas' Plan to Steal Local Elections - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinians in the West Bank are scheduled to hold local elections on Oct. 20 for 245 village councils and 98 municipalities. The last elections in 2005 saw Hamas score major victories in most West Bank cities. This year's elections, however, are being boycotted by Hamas, leaving its rival, Fatah, as the main contender.
        To ensure a landslide victory, the Fatah leadership, headed by Abbas, has taken a number of measures aimed at weakening its rivals, dismissing about 50 of its members who decided to run on an independent ticket and suspending funds to other PLO groups that are running against Fatah. In addition, over the past few years, Abbas' government and security forces have dismissed and arrested several elected mayors and members of municipal councils who were affiliated with Hamas. This is, in fact, one of the main reasons why Hamas decided to boycott this year's elections. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Salafists Urge Ultraconservative Islam on Post-Arab Spring Governments - William Booth, Karin Brulliard and Abigail Hauslohner
    As moderate Islamist leaders begin to craft post-revolutionary constitutions, the Salafists in their midst, adherents of a puritanical form of Islam, are pushing to create societies that more closely mirror their ultraconservative religious beliefs and lifestyles. The formidability of the Salafist awakening and the problems it poses for the new governments are unexpected. While challenges from remnants of the old regimes and from disgruntled liberals were widely anticipated, the Islamist bona fides of those who took power had been considered beyond reproach.
        But many Salafists, emboldened by what they see as growing public enthusiasm for their cause, have denounced the new leaders for being too timid in injecting Islamic thought into long-standing domestic and foreign policies, seeking more dramatic action now. (Washington Post)

Political Standoff in Jordan - Oded Eran (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • The demonstration on Friday (Oct. 5) in Amman was the biggest demonstration in Jordan since the Arab uprising began. Yet the organizers, mostly the Islamic Action Front, which encompasses the Muslim Brotherhood and some 70 opposition groups, mobilized only 10,000 participants, and a counter, pro-government demonstration was cancelled.
  • The opposition's major demands include: a constitutional monarchy, a parliament elected in a fully democratic system, a genuine campaign against corruption, independence of the judicial system, and end of the involvement of the security agencies in political and civilian affairs.
  • In the long run the regime will continue to face a growing opposition, especially if the uprisings succeed elsewhere in the region and there is no significant improvement in the economic situation.

    The writer served as Israel's ambassador to Jordan (1997-2000) and as director of the Institute for National Security Studies (2008-2011).

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