Sinai Militancy and the Threat to
International Forces - Zack Gold (Institute for National Security Studies)
The Sinai-based jihadi group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State
in November 2014.
A serious concern for the international community is
that the IS Sinai affiliate may attack the Multinational
Force and Observers (MFO), the 12-nation international force that oversees
the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
On June 9, 2015, IS fired mortars at
al-Gura Airport, adjacent to the MFO's North Camp base. IS has labeled the MFO as
"crusader forces" protecting Israel.
Perhaps the main reason IS has not targeted the MFO in a
major attack is the importance of the force to the local Bedouin
The MFO's payroll for
Bedouin and other local staff amounts to roughly $1 million, while it makes an additional contribution of almost $2 million to the local economy through its
relationships with local contractors.
Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in Pakistan in 2013 - Peter Finn (Washington Post)
Afghan officials said Wednesday that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, more than two years ago.
Jordan Jails Eight for Plot to Attack Israeli Embassy, U.S. Soldiers (AFP)
Jordan handed down jail sentences Wednesday against seven Jordanians and a Syrian for planning attacks on U.S. soldiers at a Jordanian military base in Al-Moaqar in 2006 and against the Israeli embassy in Amman in 2008. The Jordanians were arrested in May 2014.
Jordan Sentences 12 in Hamas Plot - Karin Laub (AP)
A government official says Jordan's state security court sentenced 12 defendants to prison terms ranging from one to 15 years for a plot by Hamas to carry out attacks in the West Bank.
Al-Ghad newspaper said the recruits were trained in Jordan and Gaza in shooting, bombmaking, and street fighting.
Palestinian Cleric: Our Main War Is with the U.S. and Europe (MEMRI)
Speaking at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on July 4, 2015, Palestinian cleric Issam Amira said:
"Our main war is with whom? With the Byzantines, with America and Europe - with France, with Britain, with those places."
"As for Russia and China, there's no need to worry about them. I am optimistic that when the Emir of the Believers writes to the Chinese, they will convert to Islam, because they are reasonable people. As for the Russians, they are stubborn, but once Moscow is liberated from the shackles of...Putin, they will join Islam."
See also Sheik Abu Abdallah at Al-Aqsa Mosque: "Islam Will Rule the Entire Earth" (MEMRI)
Speaking at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on July 6, 2015, Sheik Muhammad Abed, known as "Abu Abdallah," said:
"From here [Jerusalem], from the land of the Prophet's nocturnal journey, armies will set out to conquer Rome, to conquer Constantinople once again, as well as its [modern] symbols, Washington and London. This is Allah's promise to His Prophet: Islam will rule the entire Earth."
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Israel Foreign Ministry: Sunni Arab Nations Are "Allies"
The director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, on Wednesday called the Middle East's Sunni Arab nations "Israel's allies." Referring to Iran, Gold said, "What we have is a regime on a roll that is trying to conquer the Middle East, and it's not Israel talking, that is our Sunni Arab neighbors - and you know what? I'll use another expression - that is our Sunni Arab allies talking."
His presentation in New York, organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, also featured Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence who now heads Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. Yadlin said that the Iran deal is a "disaster" when it comes to where it leaves Iran in 15 years.
"My parameters for a good deal were crossed - everywhere," Yadlin said.
See also Hizbullah Chief Warns Arab States Against Fostering Ties with Israel - Daniel Siryoti
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday warned moderate Arab states against pursuing any type of cooperation with Israel. "Some Arab countries and some senior Arab officials have recently been talking with Israel and even negotiating with it. This may have disastrous results and dire consequences," Nasrallah said.
"The Zionist entity is taking advantage of the events in our region in a bid to normalize ties with several Arab states...and right now, there are some Arab countries that have taken Israel out of the circle of threats. This is something very dangerous."
Attempts in the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel "must be countered. We must boost all forms of resistance against the Israeli normalization." (Israel Hayom)
- Admiral Stavridis: "You Can Drive a Truck Through" Holes in Iran Deal - Blake Seitz
Retired Admiral James Stavridis told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday that the Iran nuclear deal may not catch Iranian cheating if it occurs. Stavridis, who served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander, is now Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. "I think the top [issue] is the verification regime, which is starting to roughly resemble Swiss cheese," he said. "You can drive a truck through some of the holes."
Stavridis dismissed claims that the only alternative is a ground war. "I think the U.S. still can drive some degree of sanctions" without a deal, Stavridis said. "There are cyber options to pursue. There are clandestine options to pursue. There are Special Forces options to pursue. I reject a notion that the choice is simply between this deal and going to war." (Washington Free Beacon)
See also New York Democrat Slams Iran Deal - Geoff Earle
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng on Wednesday become the first New York Democrat to declare her opposition to the "flawed" Iran nuclear deal, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry tried to sell Meng and her House Foreign Affairs Committee on the merits of the deal. "I don't believe that it's strong enough and can't ensure that Iran won't be able to ultimately have access to a nuclear weapon," Meng told the Post. She said she "didn't feel pressure" from lobbyists, but came to a personal conclusion. (New York Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: U.S. Not Sharing Iran Deal Details - Itamar Eichner
Israel has not received all the details of the nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers, National Security Advisor Yossi Cohen told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Wednesday.
"In contrast to the promises we have heard, Israel has yet to receive all of the annexes of the Iran deal," he said. Officials in Israel were surprised when, at a U.S. Senate hearing, classified portions of the deal were exposed, of which the U.S. did not officially notify Israel.
One of the classified annexes revealed that Iran would collect its own samples from the Parchin site. "That means they are allowing the Iranians to fake the samples, and there is no way to discover violations. The meaning is that there won't be real inspections," a high ranking official said. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said, "The time that has passed since the deal's signing continues to expose the amount of risk the West has taken upon itself, and its flexibility in making unprecedented concessions towards the tyrannical Iranian regime....The deal places the Western world at unprecedented and severe risk." (Ynet News)
- Report: Israeli Strike in Syria Said to Target Notorious Terrorist - Joshua Davidovich
A reported Israeli airstrike on a car in the Syrian Golan Heights targeted notorious terrorist Samir Kuntar, Israel's Channel 2 reported Wednesday, based on Arab sources. Five men were killed in the strike, three from a Druze militia loyal to the Assad regime and two from Hizbullah.
Kuntar spent 29 years in Israeli custody over the brutal slaying of four Israelis in a 1979 terror raid in Nahariya. After his release in a 2008 prisoner exchange with Hizbullah, Kuntar became the leader of a militia loyal to Assad and has planned multiple attacks against IDF soldiers on the Golan Heights.
(Times of Israel)
- U.S. and Israel Must Continue to Cooperate on Security and Intelligence - David Makovsky
The U.S. and Israel simply do not have the luxury of continued rancor, no matter what happens to the Iran deal. Whether it is a question of monitoring Iran, holding it to account or managing Islamist chaos throughout the region, the two countries are compelled to cooperate in security and intelligence matters.
Even absent a deal with Iran, Israel's strategic environment has changed. If, in the past, Israel was surrounded by states, now it is surrounded by non-state actors like Hizbullah in Lebanon, Jubhat al-Nusrah in Syria, Hamas in Gaza and ISIS-affiliate Ansar Beit Makdas in the Egyptian Sinai Desert. This alone requires more U.S.-Israel security coordination.
The writer is director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Project on the Middle East Peace Process.
- Defeating Mortal Enemies - Clifford D. May
A potentially pivotal diplomatic battle has been fought and, in my estimation, decisively won by Iran's rulers. Its outcome is an agreement guaranteed to greatly enrich those rulers and, within a relatively short span of time, allow them to acquire more and better weapons, not excluding nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to targets anywhere in the world.
At the same time, American leaders repeatedly proclaim that America has become "war-weary." That can only be music to the ears of all those who declare America an "enemy of God" and who, on that basis, proclaim themselves enemies of America.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Chances for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in the Wake of the Iran Deal - Aaron David Miller and Jason Brodsky
The Obama administration has been considering some kind of framework on Palestinian statehood, despite big gaps on the core issues between Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinian decision to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, and splits between Hamas and Fatah. This could take the shape of either a UN Security Council resolution - already a favorite project of the French - or a U.S.-initiated set of parameters. Neither could actually trigger a serious negotiation under the current circumstances, let alone produce an agreement, and it's by no means certain that the Palestinians would sign on.
We Must Confront Iran's Sinister Ambitions in the Middle East - Tzipi Livni (Newsweek)
- While much of the world celebrated the Vienna deal with Iran, deep concern has enveloped Israel, where there is harsh criticism, crossing party lines, involving central aspects of the agreement. The issues causing concern include inspections of Iranian facilities, the failure to dismantle Iran's nuclear infrastructure, and the early lifting of sanctions.
- I want to draw attention to the urgent need to make some critical complementary strategic decisions to confront Iran's destructive regional agenda - whether the U.S. Congress backs the Vienna agreement or not. It is hard to deny the strategic and regional impact of legitimizing Iran's status as a nuclear threshold state and allowing it to be empowered both financially and militarily, while it continues its aggression and sponsorship of terror throughout the region.
- Both Israel and key Sunni states in the Middle East are gravely concerned that the deal risks sending the message that the international community is willing to live with Iranian regional aggression, to accept an unrepentant Iran as a legitimate regional power and, to some extent, to leave the task of confronting Iran's terror to the countries in the region that are its target.
- Responses to this argument would be more persuasive if there were a feeling that the world was truly willing to mobilize and confront Iran's regional aggression.
- The reason Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon was considered so perilous was in large part because of the nature of the Iranian regime and its broader agenda.
What is urgently needed is a joint hands-on commitment to combating Iran's destabilizing and destructive role across the Middle East.
The writer was Israel's minister of foreign affairs (2006-2009), leader of the opposition until 2012, and minister of justice (2013-2014).
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