Egypt Interested in Buying 24 MiG-35s from Russia (Indian Defence)
Russia has acknowledged an Egyptian request to procure a squadron of MiG-35 advanced fighter aircraft, to include up to 24 fighter jets at a cost of $3 billion.
Russian Aircraft Corp. is currently awaiting an initial order from the Russian Air Force to kick-start production by 2016.
However, Moscow could try to secure an Egyptian order with an earlier model that could utilize the current production line for the new-built MiG-29M/M2.
In February the arms package was agreed upon in principle between Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Russian President Vladimir Putin during Sisi's visit to Moscow.
Financial sources for the deal are unclear, particularly with the Saudi reluctance about Cairo's moving closer to Moscow.
Relations between Riyadh and Moscow have deteriorated over Russian support to the Syrian regime.
According to Russian industry sources, the arms package would include the MiG fighter jets, Mi-35 helicopters, air defense missile systems, coastal defense (shore-based anti-ship) missiles, as well as firearms and ammunition.
See also U.S. to Deliver Apache Helicopters to Egypt (Reuters)
The U.S. has lifted its hold on the delivery of 10 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt imposed last year after the ouster of President Morsi, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the helicopters would support Egypt's counterterrorism operations in Sinai.
Fatah Issues Threats Against Egypt and Other Arab States (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The Palestinians have a habit of constantly threatening Israel, but it seems that Israel isn't the only one being threatened. For example, on the official Facebook page of the Palestinian Authority, a blog post appeared criticizing Egypt because it prevented a solidarity mission from Europe that landed at Cairo Airport from continuing on to Gaza.
Moreover, a senior Fatah official, Tawfik Tirawi, appeared to threaten Arab states if they failed to fund the Palestinian budget.
On Dec. 20, 2013, he told Radio Palestine: "The Arabs don't give money because they are not afraid of us. Arafat threatened Kuwait: 'Whoever doesn't help the Palestinian people, we will reach him in his bed.' We ended their prolonged fear of us."
Yahya Ayyash Brigades Claims New Rocket Attacks Against Israel - David Barnett (Long War Journal)
The Yahya Ayyash Brigades took credit for rocket fire Monday from Gaza into Israel, saying it launched more than 20 rockets.
The Yahya Ayyash Brigades, named after a deceased Hamas bomb-maker, first appeared in mid-January 2014 when it took credit for rocket fire during the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
On March 19, the Brigades released a short video showing one of its fighters preparing to fire rockets into Israel.
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- UN Committee Takes No Action on Iran Envoy Dispute
The UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country took no action Tuesday on the U.S. refusal to grant a visa to Iran's chosen ambassador to the UN after hearing from both sides. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that "as far as we know this is a unique case."
The U.S. said it was intolerable that someone involved in depriving U.S. diplomats of protection should be given diplomatic protection in the U.S. (AP-Washington Post)
- For Extremists in Syria, Extortion Brings Piles of Cash - Alice Fordham
The renegade Islamist group ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is known for having the biggest guns and paying the highest salaries. While kidnapping, oil smuggling and donations from sympathizers have been sources of money, the group also runs complex and brutal protection rackets.
Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution in Doha, Qatar, says Iraqi intelligence sources estimate that extremist militants take in more than $1 million a month in extortion from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
Abulraheem al Shammari, an official at the Mosul provincial council, says, "They are extorting money from tradesmen, people with capital, shops, and pharmacy owners." The police and army, despite a heavy presence in the city, are powerless against this heavily armed mafia. (NPR)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- In Shadow of Stalled Peace Talks, Hamas and Fatah Nearing Reconciliation - Zvi Bar'el
Headlines in Palestinian news outlets on Monday reflected incautious optimism regarding the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation: "Breakthrough
expected"; "Chances good for implementation of reconciliation agreements between Fatah and Hamas"; "Hamas welcomes Fatah delegation."
Representatives of the movements met on Sunday in Cairo and, according to reports from Egypt, achieved "real progress" after Hamas
agreed to give in on one of the fundamental conditions of the agreement, by which "all clauses of the agreement are to be viewed as a single
The parties also agreed to begin two weeks of talks on the establishment of a national unity government, and only thereafter to discuss a date
for elections and the distribution of portfolios in the unified PLO leadership.
See also Netanyahu: Abbas Must Choose between Israel and Hamas - Raphael Ahren
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday that a reported reconciliation deal with the Hamas terrorist organization ruling Gaza would mean the end of the current, U.S.-mediated effort to negotiate a peace deal.
"Instead of moving into peace with Israel, he's moving into peace with Hamas," Netanyahu said. "He [Abbas] has to choose: Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace; so far he hasn't done so."
Netanyahu told visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in Jerusalem that Israel was trying to extend peace negotiations with the Palestinians beyond their April 29 deadline, but blamed Abbas for "raising additional conditions." (Times of Israel)
See also Israel: Abbas' Conditions for Extending Talks Show "He's Not Interested in Peace" - Barak Ravid, Jonathan Lis and Jack Khoury
Senior officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday said the conditions presented by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "mean that he is not interested in peace," adding that "a person who wants peace does not present conditions time after time that he knows Israel cannot accept." Abbas "wants to receive without giving anything and he will continue to do so until the international community demands that he demonstrate seriousness in the talks and willingness to move ahead," the officials said.
- Abbas Cannot Undo the PA - Dan Margalit
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' threat to close down shop is largely an empty one. Abbas does not want to step down. And if he gets into a situation in which he has no choice but to carry out the threat that he did not intend to fulfill, none of his younger counterparts in the PA would allow him to do so. Abbas can jump into the abyss, but his political family will not follow him. Abbas does not have the power to dismantle the PA.
See also Palestinians Back Away from Threats to Dissolve PA - Robert Tait (Telegraph-UK)
- Woman Misses Father's Funeral after Arabs Stone Her Car in Jerusalem - Efrat Forsher
Tova Richler, 59, a resident of New York who arrived in Israel to attend her father's funeral, was kept from the service by Arab youths who stoned her car on Friday. Richler and her family were traveling to Jerusalem's Mount of Olives cemetery, but near the Gethsemane Church some 10 Arab youths pelted the vehicle with rocks and bricks, disabling it, and Richler suffered shock.
- Closer, But Still No Deal on Iran - David Ignatius
A tentative plan was floated this month to reduce the threat posed by Iran's heavy-water reactor under construction at Arak. The Arak compromise formula was outlined recently in the journal Arms Control Today. It proposes feeding the reactor with low-enriched fuel and operating it at lower power. The output would be more of the medical isotopes Iran says it needs and much less of the plutonium that the West fears could fuel a bomb.
Iranian and Western negotiators are now beginning to draft proposed language for a final, comprehensive pact, with renewed focus on the July 20 deadline. The trickiest remaining problem is limiting Iranian enrichment to a level consistent with a civilian nuclear program. The details of a possible agreement are visible, but not yet the will in revolutionary Iran to compromise. (Washington Post)
- Iran-North Korea-Syria Ballistic Missile and
Nuclear Cooperation - Paul K. Kerr, Mary Beth D. Nikitin, and Steven A. Hildreth
While there is no evidence that Iran and North Korea have engaged in nuclear-related
trade or cooperation with each other, ballistic missile technology
cooperation between the two is significant and meaningful.
Syria has engaged in nuclear technology cooperation with North Korea, though it does not
appear to have an active nuclear weapons program. (Congressional Research Service)
- The Sources of Egyptian Anti-Semitism - Samuel Tadros
"Sisi is Jewish and Egypt is now under Zionist occupation." Thus screamed a September 21, 2013, headline on Rassd, the news outlet created and backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. From liberals to Islamists, one of the only ideas that binds Egyptians is anti-Semitism. Why is Egyptian culture so drenched in this toxic ideology?
In the top ranks of the Egyptian army, in its intelligence community, and in the ranks of state servants, the nearly universal belief of the existence of a Jewish conspiracy against the homeland is dangerous and affects perception of reality and hence policy. The writer is a research fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.
- Unmasking Modern Anti-Semitism - Robert Fulford
My own belief is that the BDS people and their fellow travelers are anti-Semites. They do all they can to stigmatize the Jewish state and reduce its ability to defend itself. They know that Israel is surrounded by neighbors who will never recognize its existence, much less sign a treaty developed in a "peace process" quarterbacked by Washington. The Palestinians and the Arab states who claim to support them are not hoping for a more generous Israel or a BDS-approved Israel or an Israel willing to hand over the West Bank. They are working for a day when Israel will be gone forever.
In order to satisfy this generation's anti-Semites, Israel must meet standards that no other country in the world has ever met or ever will.
Aboard an Israel Navy Patrol Boat Protecting Israel's Gas Rigs - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
- The Israel Navy's high speed patrol boats are tasked with helping to protect Israel's natural gas infrastructure in the Mediterranean. Two huge platforms rise from the sea, the Mari B rig and the Tamar platform. The Navy must also deal with hundreds of vessels offshore from Gaza, mostly fishing boats, under the cover of which terrorists gather intelligence for planning attacks.
- In recent weeks, Lt. Col. A. was on a patrol boat that disrupted arms smuggling from Sinai. "We saw two Gazan boats enter Egyptian waters and reach a beach in Sinai. Later, loaded with equipment, they headed back to Gaza camouflaged as fishing boats....A few hundred meters from the Gaza coast, we opened accurate fire at them."
- "When so much munitions explode, you can see it from kilometers away....I saw two fireballs that lasted until the dawn." The Navy's central command system has the "ability to indicate the precise location of every vessel in Israeli waters at any given moment, mark threatening vessels in red, unidentified vessels in purple, and identified and unthreatening vessels in green. It has many other features that help the Navy control Israel's waters, which is double the size of the country's land area."
- Even a waterskier a few hundred meters from shore is marked on the system's screens, and will be closely monitored. "At any given moment, there are between 300 and 1,300 vessels in our waters. We identify all of them, and if necessary, we check them."
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