Australia Foils Islamist Terrorist Plot - Paul Maley and Dan Box (The Australian)
Islamic State supporters were planning a public execution in Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. "Quite direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country."
Police say some of the 15 men arrested in Sydney had communicated with the Islamic State organization while developing their plan to seize a random member of the public and behead them live on camera.
Omarjan Azari, 22, was charged with conspiring with Mohammed Baryalei, the most senior Australian in the Islamic State terrorist group, "to do acts in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act."
The plan involved the "random selection of persons to rather gruesomely execute,"
Prosecutor Michael Allnutt told the court.
A Mole Inside Assad's Embassy Aided Syrian Rebels - Adam Entous (Wall Street Journal)
Bassam Barabandi, 44, a career diplomat in the Syrian embassy in Washington, became an opposition mole in 2012, working on behalf of moderate elements battling the Assad regime.
Barabandi issued travel documents for nearly 100 Syrian activists, enabling them to flee and campaign against the same regime he officially represented.
He also secretly passed information about the regime to the Syrian opposition and U.S. lawmakers, helping identify targets for sanctions later imposed.
Australia Commits Combat Aircraft and Special Forces to Anti-IS Coalition - Julian Kerr (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly-UK)
Australia is pre-positioning combat aircraft and special forces in the Middle East ready to participate in the U.S.-led effort in Iraq to degrade the Islamic State (IS), following a formal request for assistance from the U.S. and the government of new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Adabi.
The Australian forces are expected to be in place at Al Minhad air base in the UAE before the end of the month.
Spain's UFG to Drop Egypt Lawsuit If Israel Gas Import Deal Cleared - Oleg Vukmanovic (Reuters)
Spain's Union Fenosa Gas (UFG) may drop a lawsuit against Egypt if it approves a deal for the company to import Israeli gas into its idle liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Egypt, a source close to the talks said.
UFG suspended exports from its Egyptian plant at Damietta in 2012 when gas shortages led the government to divert supplies to its growing domestic needs.
As a result, UFG launched a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Egypt for breach of contract last year.
Egypt's access to Israel's 10 trillion cubic feet Tamar gas field via a sub-sea pipeline offers the best hope of restarting LNG exports from UFG's Egyptian plant.
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- UN's Flight Marks New Era on Israel-Syria Front - Aron Heller
As Syria has plunged into civil war and UN peacekeepers have become targets of al-Qaeda-linked rebels, the UN observer force has begun to fall apart. The 1,200-strong force is now mostly huddled inside Camp Ziouani, a base on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. Its patrols along the border have all but ceased.
"Their mandate is just not relevant anymore," said Stephane Cohen, a former Israeli military liaison officer with UNDOF. "They are there to oversee an agreement between two countries - Israel and Syria - and in practice there is no Syria anymore."
Dolan Abu Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, the largest of four Druse towns on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, noted: "The truth is that people are happy to be living under Israeli rule and the Golan today is Israeli." (AP)
- Iran Fills Key Role in Battling Islamic State in Iraq - Nabih Bulos and Patrick J. McDonnell
Mala Bakhtiar, military supervisor of the Kurdish peshmerga forces in Khanaqin in northeastern Iraq, spoke openly of comprehensive Iranian involvement in logistics, intelligence-sharing and provision of military equipment to Kurdish troops. "They gave us rockets, cannons, maps," he said. He also confirmed the presence of Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisors who, he said, "were very helpful" in the battle to dislodge Sunni extremists from the nearby town of Jalawla and vicinity.
It was Iranian-backed Shiite militias that helped the Iraqi military thwart the extremists' rampage toward Baghdad in June and July. The main Iraqi Shiite militia coordinating with the Iraqi forces in the south is the Badr Brigade, which has a "long history of being trained by Iran," noted Hamid Reza Taraghi, a Tehran-based analyst.
(Los Angeles Times)
- Syria Reveals More Chemical Weapons Facilities - Anthony Deutsch
Syria has revealed a previously undeclared research and development facility and a laboratory to produce the poison ricin to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), diplomatic sources said. The new disclosures came as part of an ongoing review of "discrepancies" in Syria's initial OPCW declaration.
- Traffickers "Laughed" as They Capsized Boat to Drown Refugees
Survivors of Europe's most deadly migrant shipwreck in years have described the horrifying moment traffickers capsized their boat and left 500 Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian and Sudanese migrants to drown off Malta on Wednesday. "After they hit our boat they waited to make sure that it had sunk completely before leaving. They were laughing," one survivor told
the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday.
"These are not accidents but murders," said Michele Cercone, spokesman for EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. In the incident off Malta, just 10 people survived.
Two Palestinians told IOM their boat had been intentionally sunk by the people smugglers after the migrants refused to change to a smaller, less seaworthy vessel.
"A violent argument ensued. The 10 smugglers, said to be Palestinian and Egyptian, began yelling," the IOM said, citing testimony from survivors in Crete. Those who had managed to jump to safety into the smaller boat were "forced into the water" by their assailants. (AFP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Steinitz: In Nuclear Talks, Iran Only Offering "Cosmetic Gestures on Secondary Issues" - Elhanan Miller
Iran is refusing to compromise on core elements of its military nuclear program, Israel's Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz said Wednesday, after returning from strategic meetings with U.S. officials in Washington. While Iran has made some "cosmetic gestures on secondary issues," it has shown no flexibility on two of the core international demands: the dismantling of centrifuges used for the enrichment of uranium, and the closure of the heavy water plant in Arak, part of Iran's plutonium nuclear track.
"Israel is deeply concerned. We feel that negotiations are going in the wrong direction," Steinitz said. "The two alternatives now seem to be a bad deal or no deal. Unfortunately, there seems to be no good deal on the table....The Iranians are getting almost everything but giving almost nothing." (Times of Israel)
- Israel Recognizes Aramean Minority - Jonathan Lis
Israel's Interior Ministry on Tuesday recognized the Arameans as a national minority.
The decision will allow about 200 Christian families to register as Arameans rather than as Arabs.
A review of their status concluded that they had a distinct historical heritage, religion, culture, origin and common language. Some members of the community have served in the IDF.
See also Righting an Historic Wrong - Dror Eydar
The Muslim invasion in the seventh century forced Arab culture on many peoples who lived in the area long before anyone had ever heard of Islam. Until the Muslim occupation, Aramaic was spoken for more than 1,000 years by the peoples of the region, including the Jews. Even parts of the Bible were written in Aramaic, as well as the Talmud, the great Jewish legal and cultural codex.
Unlike the rest of the Middle East, Israel is the only place in the region where there is no Christian emigration and the local Christian community is flourishing.
- UN Peacekeepers on Israel's Border Fled Under Pressure - Elliott Abrams
The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), meant to separate Israel and Syria, has fled into Israel for safety in the face of terrorists.
International forces in the West Bank are an old nostrum, but the failure of UNDOF is a reminder that it won't work. Until the region is at peace and all terrorist groups defeated, the only thing that prevents a powerful terrorist presence in the West Bank is the Israeli military.
Palestinians and Jordanians also depend on the IDF to prevent groups like Hamas, al-Qaeda, and even ISIS from gaining ground in the West Bank. Moreover, UN forces in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) have been unable to control Hizbullah and are unwilling to challenge it.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
- How America Can Help Stabilize the Middle East - Michael Doran
American leaders need to repudiate, once and for all, the notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the central strategic question in the Middle East.
The core threats to American national security in the Middle East today are the rise of the Islamic State (IS), the advance of the Iranian nuclear program, and the spread of Iranian influence throughout the region. They are almost entirely disconnected from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the effort to liberate Amerli, the Turkmen city in Iraq that was under siege by IS, while American planes attacked IS from the air, it was the Shiite militiamen - trained in Iran - who actually took physical control of the city, reportedly under the watchful eye of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Tehran's Quds Force. Has the U.S. become the air arm of Iranian proxies?
The writer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council.
Hamas Policy after the Gaza War - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- On Sep. 13 in Tunisia, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal stressed the importance of rapid rehabilitation of the civilian infrastructure damaged in the war. This goal takes into account the fact that Hamas' use of violence and terror does not incur punitive measures by the international community. Indeed, the aid that the international community extends to Gaza after a terror offensive constitutes an economic safety net for the Hamas government.
- Mashaal also called for completing the Palestinian internal national reconciliation, whose main objective is to mobilize all forces for the campaign to liberate Palestine and bring back the refugees. He includes a role for Israeli Arabs in this campaign.
- Hamas' real aim is to use the national reconciliation to infiltrate the PLO and wrest control from within. Since the international community recognizes the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, Hamas would thereby take the reins of the Palestinian national movement.
- "The enemy only understands the language of force," Mashaal declared. "Everything must be based on the struggle/resistance, which creates the conditions for victory and forces the enemy to leave our land as it left Gaza and before that southern Lebanon."
- The leader of Hamas, a terror organization that shelters a long list of other terror organizations including branches of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, emphasizes the use of international legal instruments to weaken Israel. Mashaal demanded that the Palestinian Authority sign the Rome Convention so that the Palestinians can press "war crimes" charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
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