Unveiling New Iranian Missile Meant to Coincide with Nuclear Talks - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Iran's unveiling on Sunday of a new long-range cruise missile expands the threat radius of the missiles held by the IRGC to a number of countries in Central Europe and to Russia.
As part of its negotiating strategy, Iran has been projecting power and self-confidence toward the West and its Arab neighbors.
Precisely at this sensitive juncture, Tehran is signaling to the West that it has no intention of giving up its long-range missile program or discussing it in any form during the nuclear talks.
Removing the sanctions from Iran - if an agreement is signed - will further accelerate the Iranian missile program.
The Palestinians Want Peace? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
It would be difficult for the PA to return to the negotiating table with Israel after the massive campaign it has launched to promote a boycott of Israel.
The latest PLO and Fatah campaign is not directed only against settlement products. Rather, it is targeting anything that is made in Israel.
Other such measures by the "anti-normalization" movement seek to thwart any encounters between Israelis and Palestinians, including sports matches and peace conferences.
So while some Israelis, Americans and Europeans are talking about the need to revive the peace process after the March 17 elections in Israel, the Palestinians are clearly moving in a different direction.
See also Gazans Enjoy Israeli Products amid West Bank Palestinians' Boycott - Hamada Hattab and Osama Radi (Xinhua-China)
Israeli products are available at malls and supermarkets throughout Gaza, while in the West Bank, the Palestinians had decided to boycott these products.
The Gaza-based ministry of national economy gave permission to Gaza businessmen to import products made in Israel, which used to be banned, because "local industry and factories in Gaza are unable to produce these kinds of products."
Gaza used to get products from Egypt through underground tunnels, many of which have now been destroyed.
The Tunnels of Gaza and Mexico (Strategy Page)
The U.S. recently revealed that they had discovered another smuggling tunnel from Mexico, one of 102 such tunnels found since 2000.
Most of these tunnels were discovered between 2008 and 2012. This was because the U.S. had more effective methods for finding the tunnels - believed to be the result of intelligence sharing by Israel, which dealt with tunnels in Gaza.
Israeli Envoy to Sweden Protests Pulling of Show over Jerusalem Reference (JTA)
Israel's ambassador to Sweden protested TV4's pulling off the air celebrity chef Tina Nordstrom's cooking show last month following viewers' complaints over her characterization of Jerusalem as Israel's "heart."
"Only under the most hateful of interpretations can this be deemed offensive," wrote Isaac Bachman, Israel's ambassador to Stockholm.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Senators Write to Iran about Nuclear Deal - Peter Baker
On Monday 47 Republican senators signed an open letter addressed to "leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran" declaring that any agreement without legislative approval could be reversed by the next president. The White House and congressional Democrats expressed outrage, calling the letter an unprecedented violation of tradition.
(New York Times)
See also Text of Senators' Letter to Iran's Leaders on Nuclear Talks
"Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement....We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time." (New York Times)
- Advisor to Iranian President Rohani: Iran Is an Empire, Iraq Is Our Capital
On March 8, 2015, Ali Younesi, advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rohani and previously intelligence minister (2000-2005), said, "In truth the Iranian Plateau includes countries from the borders of China and the Indian subcontinent to the north and south Caucasus and the Persian Gulf - all of which are part of this union....If we disregard the region that lies within our sphere of influence, we will be unable to protect our interests and security."
"In the current situation, Iraq is not merely a sphere of cultural influence for us; it is also our identity, our culture, our center, and our capital....There is no way to divide the territory of Iran and Iraq." (MEMRI)
- Gaza War Probe Requests Delay after Chief's Resignation
UN investigators tasked with probing the Gaza war last year asked Monday to postpone their report - due on March 23 - until June to allow time to adjust after the head of the team, Canadian William Schabas, resigned last month.
- Splits in Islamic State Emerge as Its Ranks Expand - Maria Abi-Habib
Islamic State is struggling to maintain unity and discipline amid corruption, ideological differences and defections. Interviews with four recent Islamic State defectors and civilians living in areas the group controls in Syria and Iraq portray tensions that come from the higher salaries and better lodgings given to foreigners recruited to fight alongside locals. Foreign recruits are earning monthly salaries of $800, while Syrian fighters are drawing $400, the defectors said.
"The Syrian fighters feel they've been treated unjustly in comparison to the foreign fighters," said a Syrian who cited this favoritism and the "un-Islamic" levels of brutality meted out to civilians as the reasons for his defection in December. (Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Independence Day Torchlighters Announced
Seven men and seven women were approved Thursday by the Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies to light beacons at the April 22 ceremony that opens Israel's Independence Day festivities, all chosen for the breakthroughs they've made in their various fields.
They include Danny Gold, developer of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system; Sima Shein, who served as head of the Mossad's research desk, the highest intelligence position ever held by a woman; and Pvt. Dan Korkowsky, a member of the IDF's Special Intelligence Unit 9900, composed of soldiers who are on the autism spectrum. Korkowsky has rare intelligence-gathering abilities and his success led to the expansion of the unit.
See also IDF Military Intelligence Integrates Young Autistic Adults for Aerial Photography Interpretation - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
See also Arab Israeli TV Host Chosen to Light Independence Day Beacon - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
- Hamas Shifts to Short-Range Rockets
Faced with the high success rate of Israel's Iron Dome defense system against mid-range rockets, Hamas in Gaza has reportedly been redoubling its efforts to produce shorter-range rockets.
Hamas has been test-firing rockets with a range of up to 30 km. towards the sea, Makor Rishon reported. Its focus on shorter-range rockets is also due to a shortage of explosives.
(Times of Israel)
- On Iran, Arabs Deeply Mistrust Obama - Michael Young
Two issues raised by Netanyahu's speech to Congress cannot be readily ignored by President Obama: How a deal might enhance Iran's regional influence; and whether regional wariness of a deal could spur nuclear proliferation. Iran's regional role is an issue that the U.S. has strenuously, and foolishly, sought to separate from the nuclear discussions. This has alarmed the Gulf states who fear that lifting sanctions on Iran and rapprochement with the U.S. would facilitate Iranian expansionism.
The U.S. administration has made it a primary goal to reorient American attention away from the Middle East and reduce the American footprint, and where that was not possible, to define limited goals and share the burden with others. But the outcome may well be an enhanced role for Iran, and this is something Arab states, not to mention Israel, will have great trouble accepting.
If the Arabs feel threatened by an Iran that, ultimately, has the means of going nuclear, they will respond in kind by trying to develop their own nuclear capability. This would generate considerable instability and defeat the purpose of a nuclear agreement now.
Obama may get his deal with Iran, but he has prepared the terrain so carelessly that the consequences may be quite damaging.
- Why Did Ayatollah Khamenei Come to the Table? - Ben Cohen interviews Michael Ledeen
Ladeen: It's conventional wisdom that Iran came to the negotiating table because of sanctions. I'm not sure that's correct. It may well be that Iran came to the negotiating table because President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif convinced the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, that if they went to the table, they would get everything they wanted from President Obama. Because, they said, America's will has been broken, and the Americans are prepared to make endless concessions just to keep talking.
I'm not convinced that there's going to be a deal with Iran. Khamenei doesn't want to deal with U.S., he wants to destroy us. He says that every week - sometimes every day. So why should he make a deal when he's getting everything from us now without a deal?
You have the moderate Arab countries who are, all of a sudden, talking to Israel, working out joint plans and contingencies with Israel. What can they do? If Iran is going nuclear - and there's not a leader in the Middle East who doesn't believe that Iran is going nuclear - then they have to defend themselves. And if America isn't available, who is?
Dr. Michael Ledeen, a former consultant to the U.S. National Security Council, Department of State, and Department of Defense, is a Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- A One-Sided Assessment of Israel's Bedouin Community - Robert Cherry
In a New York Times Sunday review feature, "The Two Israels," Nicholas Kristof presented a one-sided assessment of the situation of the Negev Bedouin community. Hura mayor Mohammed Alnabari provides a different picture. The Bedouin town has gained call center jobs, initiated a Women's Catering Enterprise that produces meals for Bedouin schools, developed a joint project with a nearby kibbutz to produce high value-added produce, and began a project with the Jewish National Fund to raise mixed heads of sheep and goats for organic meat and dairy products. And the government has provided substantial subsidies to firms that hire Bedouin workers in the new industrial park in Rahat and through other employment initiatives.
The OECD approved Israeli membership on the basis of substantial improvements in employment initiatives, infrastructure - roads, transportation networks, sewage facilities - and a dramatic improvement in Bedouin schooling that substantially increased student test scores.
The share of Arab children in preschool programs has risen from 49% in 2000 to 71% in 2010. While Kristof correctly noted the funding problems towns face, he should not trivialize the sustained efforts being made to rectify this situation.
The writer is a professor of economics at Brooklyn College.
(Times of Israel)
A "Good Deal" Needs to Bolt the Door on the Iranians Getting a Nuclear Weapon - Ronen Bergman interviews Gen. David Petraeus (Ynet News)
- "To accept that Iran's nuclear ambitions over the years have been exclusively peaceful would require a willing suspension of disbelief....The International Atomic Energy Agency has extensively documented the so-called 'possible military dimensions' of the Iranian program, which clearly indicate that - at least until a few years ago - the Iranians were conducting activities whose only rational explanation is that they wanted a nuclear weapons capability."
- "History suggests, however, that countries that get to that [nuclear] threshold do not stay there. And regardless, based on everything we know and see about the Iranian government, we cannot allow them to be on the brink of having a nuclear weapon."
- "To my mind, a 'good deal' needs to bolt the door on the Iranians getting a nuclear weapon. In this respect, certainly large swaths of the program need to be dismantled or at least altered. I don't know that this requires an end to enrichment, but certainly it would seem to me that there need to be substantial limitations on how much enriched material Iran can possess and the percentage to which they can enrich, as well as restrictions on the research, development, and deployment of new, more sophisticated models of centrifuges."
- "An extremely robust inspections program is also necessary - going beyond the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In fact, the inspections regime is, in my mind, the most critical component of a deal."
Gen. (ret.) David Petraeus served as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, and head of the CIA.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.