The Secret Casualties of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons - C.J. Chivers (New York Times)
From 2004 to 2011, American and Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from Saddam Hussein's rule.
In all, American troops secretly reported finding 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs.
The New York Times found 17 American service members and seven Iraqi police officers who were exposed to nerve or mustard agents after 2003.
The scale of U.S. encounters with chemical weapons in Iraq carries worrisome implications now that the Islamic State controls much of the territory where the weapons were found.
Nasrallah: Border Attack on Israel Was Revenge for Slain Hizbullah Operative - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said the attack on an IDF outpost on Mount Dov in the Golan Heights a week ago was in revenge for the death of Hizbullah operative Hassan Ali Haidar, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported.
Haider was killed in an explosion in Aadloun in Lebanon as he was reportedly attempting to destroy an Israeli intelligence device.
ISIS Boasts about Conquering the Vatican and Rome - Hannah Roberts (Daily Mail-UK)
Islamic State jihadis Monday published an image of their black flag flying above the Vatican on the front cover of their online magazine Dabiq, which calls in its latest issue for a war against the Catholic Church.
Oil Prices Fall Sharply - Clifford Krauss (New York Times)
Brent crude oil prices sank again on Monday to $88.89 a barrel, leading to a near free fall in gasoline prices in the U.S. and leading energy experts to predict lower prices for the rest of the month.
"Clearly there is a rift in OPEC, and that means we are more likely to see a price war over the next six months. Crude oil is teetering on the brink of collapse," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com.
Demand for oil is declining worldwide, particularly in Europe, just as the global market is flooded with oil.
With the U.S. shale drilling boom, domestic production has reached 8.7 million barrels a day, a million barrels a day more than just a year ago. U.S. imports from OPEC countries have been cut in half since 2008.
Saudi Arabia increased its production by 100,000 barrels a day in September, while Libyan production has increased in recent months by more than 500,000 barrels a day.
See also Oil Prices Could Fall Below $80 - Andrew Critchlow (Telegraph-UK)
Druse to Head Israeli Hospital - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
Col. Dr. Salman Zarka, head of the Israel Defense Forces' health services, has been named director-general of Safed's Ziv Medical Center.
Zarka studied medicine at the Technion and served in the IDF Medical Corps for the last 25 years.
He planned and established the field hospital on the Syrian border for Syrians wounded in the civil war.
We wish our readers a Happy Simhat Torah holiday!
Daily Alert will not appear on Thursday, October 16
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- U.S.-Led Coalition Targeting Islamic State Is Beset by Strategic Differences - Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung
Military chiefs from the U.S. and 21 other countries convened Tuesday in Maryland to discuss the campaign against the Islamic State. President Obama cited some preliminary "important successes," but warned that "this is going to be a long-term campaign." 60 countries are now participating in the coalition, according to the Obama administration.
Shadi Hamid, a Middle East scholar with the Brookings Institution, noted, "The coalition partners have very different conceptions about the regional order and don't even agree on what the primary threat is....You have all these different actors who want different things and in some cases also strongly dislike each other." (Washington Post)
- U.S. Intensifies Airstrikes on Islamic State in Kobane
U.S.-led forces have stepped up airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) fighters threatening the Syrian town of Kobane, near the Turkish border.
The coalition had carried out 21 strikes over two days. IS is believed to control about half of the town, from which more than 160,000 people have fled.
- Report: ISIS Used Chemical Weapons on Kurds - Joe Tacopino
ISIS appears to have used chemical weapons taken from the abandoned arsenals of Saddam Hussein in their slaughter of Kurds in the Syrian city of Kobane last July. Images obtained by the Middle East Review of International Affairs show wounds that appear to have been inflicted by "mustard gas or some kind of blistering agent," an expert said.
(New York Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Defense Minister Ya'alon: Syrian Rebels Adjacent to Golan Border Are Moderates - Amos Harel
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in an interview that Syrian President Bashar Assad now controls only 25% of the country. "It's not Syria, it's Alawistan [referring to Assad's ruling Alawite sect] - the coastal cities in the north of the country and a corridor connecting them up to Damascus....The rebels are already doing away with his control on the border with us on the Golan. The east of the country is controlled by [Islamic State], and in the northeast the Kurds have autonomy."
"But the area adjacent to the [Israeli] border is under the control of more moderate militias, such as the Free Syrian Army. It's no secret that they benefit from the humanitarian assistance that we provide to the residents of the villages in the area: medical care in our hospitals, food for infants, equipment and blankets in the winter. That happens on condition that they don't allow the more extremist organizations to reach the border."
Ya'alon says the Arabs learned from the 50-day Gaza war that Israel is capable of withstanding a war of attrition. Its spirit doesn't break and its economy doesn't crash. It defends itself and exacts a heavy price from its rivals. (Ha'aretz)
- Recruiting and Building Rockets, Hamas Determined to Retain Gaza Grip - Avi Issacharoff
Nothing significant is likely to change any time soon in Gaza. Hamas is the same Hamas, with the same aspirations.
Hamas is managing to pay the salaries of members of its military wing thanks largely to donations from Qatar, Turkey and businessmen from the Gulf States.
While Hamas has stated that the Palestinian unity government will oversee the reconstruction of Gaza, Hamas has no intention of relinquishing practical control over the strip. Its police and military hierarchies will continue to operate throughout Gaza, and Abbas' PA security forces will not, except perhaps at the border crossings.
Meanwhile, the Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades has launched a recruitment drive. Last Thursday the brigades held a large military parade in Shejaiya - intended to convey a clear message to the residents of Gaza: the "resistance" is not about to disarm. (Times of Israel)
- Building Supplies Flow into Gaza from Israel - Elior Levy
600 tons of cement and 400 tons of iron entered Gaza on Tuesday from Israel in accordance with an oversight mechanism to be implemented by UN representatives, in cooperation with PA officials, to assure that the construction materials are used for the renovation of homes and public buildings. In addition, economic steps have been taken to assist the export of agricultural produce from Gaza to the West Bank.
- Israeli Soldier Wounded by Explosive Device near Rachel's Tomb - Noam Dvir
An Israeli Border Guard soldier was injured by an explosive device during a riot near Rachel's Tomb on Tuesday after some 40 Arabs began hurling rocks and firebombs at security forces.
- Israel: The Road to Peace Does Not Pass through the UN, the House of Commons, or Stockholm - Ron Prosor
In November 2012, the PA asked the international community to grant it observer status at the UN; and 138 countries chose to disregard the regime of terror in Gaza, the lack of governance and the rife-with-corruption civilian services, thereby signaling that terror trumps dialogue. Ever since, Mahmoud Abbas has been channeling his efforts towards finding ways to bypass negotiations, by appealing to various international institutions.
The road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians does not pass through New York or Stockholm. The Palestinians need to internalize the fact that a state created through paperwork will remain a state on paper only. True peace will be achieved only via direct negotiations.
The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN.
- How the Donors Saved Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh
It is naive to think that Hamas would not benefit from the billions of dollars that have just been promised to help with the reconstruction of Gaza. Any funds earmarked for Gaza will strengthen Hamas, even if the money is coming through the Palestinian Authority. The funds will help rebuild various Hamas-controlled installations such as ministries, security bases, universities, mosques and charities. The infrastructure in Gaza is almost entirely controlled by Hamas.
The promised funds absolve Hamas of any responsibility for the catastrophe it brought upon the Palestinians during the confrontation with Israel. Now the Palestinians in Gaza will no longer ask Hamas to compensate them for the loss of their houses and family members. They will now be referred to the PA. Hopes that the catastrophic results of the confrontation would increase pressure on Hamas or perhaps trigger a revolt against it have now faded.
Moreover, as the PA works toward rebuilding Gaza, Hamas will use its own resources to smuggle in additional weapons and prepare for the next war with Israel. The biggest mistake the donor states made was failing to demand the disarmament of Hamas as a precondition for funneling aid to Gaza. The donors have not only saved Hamas; they have emboldened it. (Gatestone Institute)
- The Broader Nature of the Conflict in Iraq and Syria - Jonathan Spyer
Seeing Syria, and increasingly Iraq, as wars between central governments taking on insurgencies challenging the nature of their rule is increasingly a redundant way to see this conflict. A better frame for seeing both conflicts is as a single sectarian war taking place across borders in Iraq, Syria, and increasingly Lebanon. We can see a united Shia/minority alliance, a much more confused picture on the Sunni Arab side, and a Kurdish contiguous area of control separated by the rivalries of two pan-Kurdish political organizations.
The heartland of the Islamic State is in Raqqa city in Syria. If you want to destroy the Islamic State, you - or someone on your behalf - will have to go into Raqqa city and take on and defeat them. It is not clear who that candidate could possibly be. If somebody believes that the Syrian rebels are going to march into Raqqa city and defeat the Islamic State, they are dreaming. The writer is a senior research fellow at the GLORIA Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.
Which Palestine Do Europeans Recognize? - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
- As long as the Europeans are talking about recognition of Palestine as a state, it's fair to ask which Palestine they are ready to welcome into the family of nations: The weak, corrupt, and undemocratic Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or the terrorist Hamas state in Gaza? Or both?
- The vote in London was pushed by rank-and-file members of the opposition Labor Party, apparently driven by a desire to embarrass its leader Ed Milliband more than anything else. Prime Minister David Cameron, with the rest of his government and its supporters, abstained on the measure.
- Undoubtedly, supporters of the measure were thinking of the Palestinian Authority. But, in truth, that Palestine is a corrupt kleptocracy run by Mahmoud Abbas, a man currently serving the 10th year of a four-year presidential term.
- The Fatah-ruled West Bank is a petty tyranny that oppresses and robs Palestinians while raking in billions in economic aid. Abbas is adamant about being unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn.
- Were Europe's governments truly interested in peace, they would understand that unilateral recognition of independence is a way for the PA to avoid having to talk with Israel.
- A two-state solution can only happen when the Palestinians stop waiting for their foreign friends to hand them Israeli concessions - or Israel itself - on a silver platter.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.