Top U.S. General: Military Options for Stopping Iran's Nuclear Program Have Improved - Thom Shanker (New York Times)
After meetings this week with senior Israeli officials, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he "sensed agreement" that diplomatic initiatives and economic sanctions "were having an effect" on Iran.
The Israelis "of course want us to continue to present a credible military threat to support those diplomatic and economic efforts....Since I was here last year, we have better military options than we did a year ago."
"That's because we've continued to refine them," he said. "We've continued to develop technology, we've continued to train and plan."
Iran, Syria: Smuggling Weapons to Gain Influence in the West Bank - Stratfor (Forbes)
A Jordanian security official said that five Syrian smugglers caught near Madaba in central Jordan on Aug. 6 had anti-tank missiles, surface-to-air missiles and assault rifles in their possession.
Contacts in the area claim that the smugglers were Palestinians from Syria affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
The weapons were obtained from Syrian army warehouses in Sweida in southwest Syria, and were to be transported through Jordan to Hebron in the West Bank.
Iran is working with Palestinian groups to transport munitions through Iraq and Jordan to the West Bank.
To achieve this, Iran would likely work through Syrian intelligence and local Palestinian proxies. The PFLP-GC has a close working relationship with Syrian intelligence.
Why Does the Muslim Brotherhood Attack Churches? - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
In response to the Egyptian military's crackdown in Cairo, supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi have attacked Coptic Christian churches in numerous cities.
Why is the Brotherhood attacking churches? The attacks are an inextricable part of the Brotherhood's worldview as they seek to transform Egypt in their own Islamist image.
In the Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt, there is no room for Christians or even secular Muslims.
Though the military is an unattractive ally, the only alternative to it is the party that is currently burning churches.
See also Muslim Brotherhood Burns Churches, Scapegoats Christians Following Crackdown - John Rossomando (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
125 North Americans Arrive in Israel to Join IDF (Jerusalem Post)
330 North Americans making aliya to Israel arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday on a flight chartered by Nefesh B'Nefesh.
Among the new arrivals were 125 young people coming to serve in the IDF.
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- Hundreds Die as Egyptian Forces Attack Islamist Protesters - David Kirkpatrick
Egyptian security officers stormed two encampments packed with supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday in an assault that killed hundreds and set off a violent backlash across Egypt. As President Adli Mansour declared a state of emergency, the Muslim Brotherhood called on Egyptians to rise up in protest.
Islamists attacked at least a dozen police stations around the country, according to the state news media, killing more than 40 police officers. They also lashed out at Coptic Christians, attacking or burning at least seven churches. The assault prompted the resignation of the interim vice president, Mohamed ElBaradei.
(New York Times)
See also At Least 421 Killed in Egypt - Abigail Hauslohner and Sharaf al-Hourani (Washington Post)
- Egypt Cracks Down on Jihadi Sandbox in Sinai - Christa Case Bryant
The Egyptian military has a freer hand to crack down in Sinai after deposing President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood last month.
"The Army for the longest time has been holding back from interfering in Sinai," says Sameeh, a high-ranking security official in northern Sinai. "The elements in this area fear that they might lose this [strategic area] now that we have deployed more tanks and we're putting more effort into clearing this area, so obviously they are going to fight back."
Sinai militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in August 2012 near the Egyptian town of Rafah. "A year ago there were the killings in Rafah, and Morsi promised that he would get back at those people who killed those soldiers," says Sameeh, the general, in a phone interview. "And nothing was ever done."
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which is also referred to as Ansar Jerusalem, is "the most important and dangerous" militant group operating in Sinai, says Maj. Aviv Oreg (res.), former head of the Al-Qaeda and Global Jihad desk in the Israel Defense Forces' military intelligence branch. It consists mainly of local Bedouin but also some foreign jihadis and was behind last year's Rafah attack on Egyptian soldiers, Oreg says. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has also claimed responsibility for at least three rocket attacks on Eilat over the past year.
Daniel Nisman of the Israel-based security consultancy firm Max Security Solutions says there are about 1,500 jihadists in Sinai, broken down into 15 to 20 cells with varying ideologies, some of which are in line with al-Qaeda. Oreg says he's not aware of any formal al-Qaeda presence in Sinai, though some of the groups are in contact with al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is originally from Egypt.
(Christian Science Monitor)
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- Second Round of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Ends in Jerusalem - Barak Ravid
The second round of talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams ended Wednesday after five hours of discussion. Another meeting is scheduled in the coming days.
The meeting was conducted without the presence of American envoys.
- Rep. Cantor: Only Palestinian "Mind-Shift" Will Bring Peace - Herb Keinon
Peace will only emerge when the Palestinians and the Arab world go through a "cultural mind-shift" and accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, visiting U.S. House Majority leader Eric Cantor said on Wednesday.
"Until that point comes, I don't think that there will be much progress." Cantor is leading a group of 28 Republican congressmen on a one-week tour sponsored by an affiliate of AIPAC, which brought 36 Democratic congressmen to the country last week.
Cantor said that the "discussion of territory, lines, towns and settlements is predicated upon the Palestinians first agreeing" that Israel has the legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state. Cantor is the first cousin of Sheryl Wultz, whose son Daniel, 16, was killed in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in 2006.
- 17 Yemeni Jews Brought to Israel - Judy Maltz
The Jewish Agency airlifted 17 Yemeni Jews to Israel on Wednesday. Four adults and one child were flown directly from Yemen to Israel, where they were reunited with 12 other family members who had been residing in Argentina for the past two years. The operation was prompted by concerns for the safety of the small Jewish population of Yemen in the wake of growing threats from radical Islamist groups including al-Qaeda. These threats have intensified since the ouster of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Since 2009, 151 Yemeni Jews have arrived in Israel, while fewer than 90 Jews remain in Yemen today.
- What Prompted the Egyptian Army to Act? - Ron Ben-Yishai
Egyptian Defense Minister al-Sisi had good reason to estimate that if the
mass sit-ins organized by the Muslim Brotherhood persisted, the Brotherhood may regain control over the country. Moreover, there were credible reports, including from Brotherhood members, that the pro-Morsi protesters in Cairo were accumulating weapons and defensive equipment and were also building barricades, meaning that it would become harder to remove them by force and the number of casualties would have been greater.
The protest encampments were not evacuated sooner due to the Egyptian army's fear of global public opinion. Until it was utterly clear that the Muslim Brotherhood refused to make peace with the new reality, General al-Sisi was under pressure to refrain from moving against the mass sit-ins. In addition, the army did not want to act during the Ramadan period, which just ended. (Ynet News)
- The True Nature of a Coup Revealed - Fouad Ajami
In truth, there was no avoiding the bloodshed in Egypt. It was willful to assume that the Brotherhood would go gently into the night - that a political party that had pined for power for eight decades, that had won outright parliamentary and presidential elections and secured the passage of a constitution of its own making, would bow to a military writ.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Britain's Diplomacy of Hypocrisy - Haim Shine
Last week Britain announced it is not even thinking about returning to Spain the Rock of Gibraltar, which it conquered many years ago. The Rock sits on seven km. of land where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. For hundreds of years Gibraltar was controlled by Spain until it was taken by the British, but Spain has never forfeited its demand to reassume sovereignty there. Britain has no historical rights to the Rock, yet it insists it will never relinquish it. From Britain's perspective, what was conquered by force will be held by force for eternity.
Off the coast of Argentina sit the British-controlled Falkland Islands, which have a population of 2,500. For years Argentina has claimed the islands as its property. In 1982 Britain sent an armada to take back the islands from the Argentinean army.
For years now Britain has been at the forefront of the global effort to return Israel to its 1967 borders. Britain preaches morality to Israel day and night because of its grip on its national homeland, while it refuses to ease its grip on territories it conquered out of clear imperialistic ambitions. Britain should look in the mirror at its own flaws, and not try to force Israel to commit suicide. (Israel Hayom)
The Egyptian Army Has More Support than the Brotherhood - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
- Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said the army gave the protesters a number of weeks to end their protests or agree to mediation and a negotiated solution. Because the Brotherhood refused to be flexible in its demands, it became obvious that a crackdown was coming.
- Mazel noted that the new Egyptian government was pro-West and will have decent relations with Israel.
"What is better than that?" he asked.
- He emphasized that the West must understand that the army was in a fight with radical Islam. "The Brotherhood was building an Islamic dictatorship," and it was the army that moved in to prevent that.
He added that the killings were bad, but compared to the situation in countries like Iraq or Pakistan, the Egyptian crackdown was less severe.
- On the significance of Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei's resignation, Mazel said that ElBaradei had been a shadowy character who helped Iran develop its nuclear program when he was head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"He defended Iran and then came to Egypt at the beginning of the revolution and was close to the Muslim Brotherhood."
- The army has more support from the people and is more organized than the Brotherhood, Mazel asserted, predicting that there would not be a lengthy civil war and that the army would calm the situation and try to get Egypt back on its feet.
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