How Al-Qaeda Has Grown Since 9/11 - 'Abderrahman ar-Rashed (Mideast Mirror, Asharq al-Awsat, 5 Feb 2014)
We are confronting a growing phenomenon, even by the criteria set by al-Qaeda itself when it destroyed the Twin Towers in New York in 2001.
At the time, the organization comprised no more than a few hundred members based in a single state, Afghanistan.
Today, it includes entire armies with tens of thousands of fighters.
Its geographical reach has spread from a single country to some ten countries where its members are fighting on a daily basis.
Dutch Pension Fund Says No Reason to Boycott Israeli Banks - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Dutch pension fund ABP, one of the largest pension funds in the world, announced on Wednesday that after looking into the matter it sees no reason to end its relationship with three Israeli banks.
The fund said its directorate has concluded that the Israeli banks "do not act contrary to international law and regulations," and that there are no court rulings indicating a need to end investments in them.
Everyone's Talking about Boycotting Israel, But No One's Actually Doing It - David Rosenberg (Ha'aretz)
To portray certain anti-Israel boycott moves in Europe as a gathering storm is at complete variance with the facts.
According various media reports, Danske Bank, Denmark's biggest bank, has "boycotted" Israel's Bank Hapoalim. In fact, the "boycott" only applies to funds Danske invests on behalf of its clients, who can opt out if they choose. The bank itself continues to do business with Hapoalim.
Nordea, Sweden's biggest bank, is reported to have "taken steps" against Israeli banks. In fact, all Nordea is doing is asking the banks for clarifications about their West Bank activities.
PGGM, the Dutch pension fund, still has 100 million euros invested in Israeli companies.
The Financial Times reported that "Norway's sovereign wealth fund joins exodus from Israel." But the fund was only renewing a ban on investing in Africa Israel Investments and its Danya Cebus subsidiary that were originally targeted in 2010.
Iran's Foreign Minister Dismisses News Reports on Remarks on Holocaust (Fars-Iran)
Media reports have misquoted the Iranian foreign minister as saying that the "Holocaust should not happen again" and that "the extermination of Jews by the Nazi regime was tragically cruel and should not happen again."
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi rejected the reports about Foreign Minister Zarif's statements as untrue, and said Zarif "completely rejected the remarks attributed to him and declared that the Islamic Republic's stance about the (Zionist) regime...has not changed."
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Iran: U.S. Wishes Unlikely to Come True at Nuclear Talks
Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that Washington's "wishes are unlikely to come true" in talks over its nuclear program. Mohammad Javad Zarif indicated the U.S. wanted Iran to give up major parts of its nuclear program but said such demands won't be carried out.
- Iran: Nuclear Facilities Are Functioning; Enrichment Is Proceeding
Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said in a recent interview: "The nuclear facilities are functioning; our enrichment is proceeding....Those centrifuges that stopped producing the 20% will be producing 5%-enriched uranium. In other words our production of 5% [uranium] will increase. The entire nuclear activity of Iran is going on....R&D has no constraint. We are working on our advanced centrifuges."
Q: If the U.S. decides to violate the terms of the Geneva deal, how long will it take, technically speaking, for Iran to get back on track?
Salehi: "A few hours." (Press TV-Iran)
- Syria's Heart of Darkness - Sohrab Ahmari
Last month some 55,000 photographs appeared documenting the industrial-scale torture, starvation and execution of thousands of detainees by the Assad regime, leaked by a defector from the Syrian military police. An international team of legal and forensic experts concluded that the photos present "clear evidence" of "systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government."
The Wall Street Journal has now obtained additional photographs that appear to belong to the same batch. The brutality depicted in these photographs is almost beyond description. (Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Palestinians Planned to Attack Jerusalem Wedding Hall
Four Palestinians from eastern Jerusalem were arrested in January and charged in Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday with planning a terror attack on a wedding hall in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Bayit Vegan. The four planned to enter the Nof wedding hall dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jews and open fire on the guests with automatic weapons. One of the accused previously worked at the wedding hall.
- Israeli Officials: PA Has Ability to Fight Incitement - Herb Keinon
The Palestinian Authority is in total control of its media, and if it wants to stop incitement it can do so and does not need to reconvene a U.S.-Israel-Palestinian committee to deal with the issue, government officials said Wednesday. One official said that if the committee were reconvened, the Palestinians would use it to claim that Israel was also engaged in incitement.
- Israel Unveils New Unmanned Surface Vessel - Michal Margalit
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled Tuesday its new unmanned vessel, the Katana, designed for routine security missions near the shore and at sea. "The Katana is designated for homeland security missions and for missions of security of offshore installations such as oil rigs and fuel or gas pipelines. It will also be used for port security missions, will aid in closing off certain areas at sea and interception missions of ships," said Eyal Sharabani of IAI. It "is equipped with many optical systems, weapon systems and advanced communication systems." The vessel can travel at over 110 km. (68 miles) per hour and is unsinkable. (Ynet News)
- Israel's Strategic Worth to the EU - Oren Kessler and Alice Bexson
Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar presented a report on Jan. 30 that argues that Israel is strategically vital for a secure, prosperous and influential Europe. In the security realm, he noted that British, Spanish and troops of other EU states have been protected by Israeli drones in Afghanistan, while Israeli technology protects European icons including the Eiffel Tower, the Vatican and Buckingham Palace. Moreover,
Israel has world-class intelligence capabilities, and its intelligence on Middle Eastern rogue states and terrorist groups is crucial to the security of the EU.
In the economic realm, Israel is the EU's top commercial partner in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Having recently discovered large natural gas fields, Israel offers Europe stability in its energy economy.
In the realm of science and technology, 11% of the nearly 300 projects approved by the European Research Council in 2013 went to young Israeli scientists, putting it behind only Germany and the UK.
Unfortunately, recent discriminatory measures only serve to confirm Israeli suspicions of European hostility, which could mean that Israelis will become more inclined to do business with the growing economies of the Far East rather than with the EU. (Henry Jackson Society-UK)
Read the Report: Value Added: Israel's Strategic Worth to the European Union and Its Member States (Friends of Israel Initiative and the Henry Jackson Society)
- Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop's Stance on the Legality of Israeli Settlements Might Be Right - Daniel Mandel
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop broke ranks from the normally unexamined international consensus that, by permitting Jewish residence in the West Bank, Israel is violating international law.
Asked if she agrees Jewish communities located beyond the Arab-Israeli 1949 armistice lines are illegal, Bishop replied: "I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal."
Palestinian spokesmen cite Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. But what does Article 49 actually say?
Drafted to outlaw the horrors of Nazi mass deportations, Article 49 prohibits "individual or mass forcible transfers." It ordains that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
''Transfer'' has an accepted meaning in international law: it entails some form of compulsion.
Yet Palestinians are not being deported from the West Bank. Nor are Jews being deported from Israel to the West Bank; they are moving of their own free will.
The original international decision at the 1920 San Remo Conference earmarking this territory for Jewish settlement has never been superseded by an internationally binding agreement. The 1993 Oslo Accords contain no prohibition on the existence and growth of these Jewish communities. (Canberra Times-Australia)
- Terror Strikes in Egypt - Yoram Schweitzer, Shlomo Brom and Shani Avita
The upgraded terror activity in Sinai today includes daily
attacks on Egyptian police stations and soldiers, including execution of
soldiers, bombings of buses and military vehicles, and suicide bombings
against military and police targets. There are also attempts to assassinate
senior military commanders such as General Ahmed Wasfi, commander of the
Second Army, and kidnappings of government officials, who are released in
exchange for large ransom payments.
In tandem, a number of showcase attacks have been carried out in major Egyptian cities. These
include suicide bombings against senior Egyptian officials, such as the
failed attack against Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who is responsible
for the operations of the internal security forces, and the successful attack on his deputy.
Israel would do well not to intervene in
the uncompromising fight Egypt has declared against the terrorist
organizations. Any public intervention could help terrorist organizations
that seek to portray the Egyptian struggle against them as connected to
foreign interests. It is essential that Israel avoid being dragged into
provocations by Salafist jihadis in Gaza and Sinai who are seeking to
escalate the situation.
(Institute for National Security Studies)
"The Iranians Know How to Negotiate; They Can Run Circles Around Us" - Chemi Shalev interviews Malcolm Hoenlein (Ha'aretz)
- Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella body of organized American Jewry, described the Iranians in an interview:
"These guys have been 'bazaaris' [bazaar merchants] for 2,000 years, while we come in as novices. They can run circles around us. They know how to negotiate and how to manipulate every situation."
- Q: Why don't you believe Rouhani when he says that Iran has no intention of building a bomb?
Hoenlein: "Because they lie. They will tell you that they're not involved in terrorism, even though we have so much evidence. It's not just Lebanon or Hamas - go to the Balkans, travel in the Baltics, go to the Arab countries in the Gulf, go to Asian countries, every one of them will talk to you about Iran's involvement. The first issue most African leaders raise with you is Iran's nefarious activities in Africa. Go to Sarajevo: They [the Iranians] have 450 people in their embassy there. It's their base of operations."
- Hoenlein, who maintains close contacts with some Arab leaders, says: "I heard from their leaders myself: Israel is our only hope against the enemy. We will condemn them, but we pray for them."
- The same holds true when it comes to Arab opinion regarding Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas: "They are much more critical of Abbas than anything you can hear in Israel. These guys are crooks, they say. They stole our money, we gave them hundreds of millions of dollars, and it's all gone. They're sick and tired of the Palestinians. You don't hear them raise the issue at all anymore."
- Regarding the impasse in the peace process, he said: "Ten negotiations, 10 times the Jews said yes - why isn't the onus on the other side? If the same pressure that is applied on Israel had been applied to Abbas, or on Arafat at a critical moment, you would have had a deal already."
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert