Dozens of Weapons Seized in Israel in Smuggling Bust
- Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Twenty pistols, 5 M-16 assault rifles, and other weapons parts were seized by Israeli authorities as part of an operation halting the smuggling of these weapons from Jordan into Israeli territory.
Two Palestinians who were waiting to intercept the weapons shipment on the Israeli side of the border were arrested.
Iran Deploys Hizbullah-Trained Afghan Sniper Brigade in Syria
- Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
An Israeli intelligence source confirmed Monday that a new unit of Afghan snipers trained by Lebanese-based Hizbullah and financed by Iran is now operating beyond its northern border on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The source said the sniper unit – part of the Afghan Fatemiyoun Brigade – is one of several additional groups of special forces that are being deployed in the fight against ISIS.
Tasnim, a news agency affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported, “Additional groups of special Afghan forces with advanced training in combat, commando capabilities, guerrilla warfare, anti-armor missiles, shoulder-launched missiles, etc. are expected to join” Fatemiyoun ranks.
The Israel-Kazakhstan Partnership
- Samuel Ramani (The Diplomat)
On July 5, 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to make an official trip to Kazakhstan. His visit to Astana underscores the increasing importance of Kazakhstan to Israel’s geopolitical ambitions. In November 2015, Israel entered into a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Kazakhstan is likely to be the chief beneficiary of Israel’s closer EEU linkages, because of its neutral stance in the Israel-Palestine conflict and staunch opposition to radical Islamist movements.
Israel’s strategic partnership with Kazakhstan can be explained by a myriad of economic and security factors. Kazakhstan is a vital oil supplier to Israel and Israel has contributed greatly to Kazakhstan’s economic diversification efforts. Israel’s provisions of military technology and counterterrorism assistance to Kazakhstan have resulted in Kazakhstan becoming one of Israel’s closest security partners in the Muslim world.
Gaza Summer Camps for Jihad
Video: Teenagers Train for Jihad, Martyrdom at a Hamas Summer Camp in Gaza.
Olympics: Kenyan-born Runner Lonah Chemtai Going the Distance for Israel
- Ori Lewis (Reuters)
When Kenyan-born Lonah Chemtai came to Tel Aviv in 2009 to care for the children of her country's ambassador to the Jewish state, she never dreamed that one day she would run for Israel at the Olympics. Chemtai, a diminutive 27-year-old and a marathon novice, gained Israeli citizenship earlier this year through her coach, Dan Salpeter, after the two married in Kenya.
Numbering at least 47 athletes, Israel's team for Rio is its largest-ever Olympic delegation.
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- U.S. Denies Existence of "Secret Document" on Iran
The U.S. State Department denied that a “secret document” in the Iran nuclear deal will enable the Islamic Republic to develop nuclear weapons in just over 10 years. Responding to a report Monday by the Associated Press describing such a document, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement, “There is no secret document or secret deal.”
According to Toner’s statement, the document “appears to be Iran’s long term enrichment R&D plan that was submitted by Iran to the [International Atomic Energy Agency] as part of its initial Additional Protocol declaration.” While the document is “not public,” it “was closely reviewed by the [powers that negotiated the deal] and Iran” and its content made “available to Congress on multiple occasions." (JTA/Times of Israel)
Video: State Department: Iran Loophole Not Secret (YouTube)
- Iran's FM Zarif Extolls Country's Ability to Restore Nuke Program
- Nasser Karimi
Iran's foreign minister on Tuesday extolled the country's ability to bring its nuclear program back on track as limits on the landmark 15-year accord between Tehran and world powers ease in the coming years.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said a document, submitted by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency and outlining plans to expand Iran's uranium enrichment program, is a "matter of pride." He said it was created by Iran's "negotiators and industry experts." (Associated Press)
Zarif: U.S. Global Influence Is Impotent
Zarif scorned U.S. global influence as impotent, boasting that Iran got its way in the landmark nuclear deal and that the “U.S. cannot do a damn thing" to intervene in its affairs. (Times of Israel)
- Erdogan Targets more than 50,000 in Purge after Failed Turkish Coup
- Humeyra Pamuk and Ercan Gurses
Turkey vowed to root out allies of the U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, it blames for an abortive coup last week, widening a purge of the army, police and judiciary on Tuesday to universities and schools, the intelligence agency and religious authorities.
Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants and teachers have been suspended or detained since the coup attempt, stirring tensions across the country of 80 million. (Reuters)
- EU Eyes Israeli Technologies for Spotting Militants Online
European powers are looking to Israeli-developed technology to develop better means for spotting "lone-wolf" militants based on their online activity, a senior EU security official said on Tuesday.
"How do you capture some signs of someone who has no contact with any organization, is just inspired and started expressing some kind of allegiance? I don't know. It's a challenge," EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said at a intelligence conference in Tel Aviv. "That is why I am here," he said of his visit to Israel. "We know Israel has developed a lot of capability in cyber."
An Israeli military official who administers these methods said human intervention is required to set parameters such as age, religiosity, socio-economic background or links to known militants for the population being monitored. With the pool of potential suspects thus narrowed, the system can flag social media messages that may spell an imminent attack. (Reuters/New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Erdogan, Obama Discuss Extradition of Fethullah Gulen
- Kasim Ileri
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the extradition of Fethullah Gulen from the U.S. during a telephone call with President Barack Obama on Tuesday, the White House said.
“The president made clear to President Erdogan that the United States doesn’t support terrorists and doesn’t support individuals who conspired to overthrow a democratically elected government,” according to White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Obama “reiterated once again the strong commitment of the United States to the democratically elected civilian government of Turkey” and commended the Turkish people’s effort in “defending the government and repelling the coup” last week. According to Earnest, the decision to extradite Gulen is not a decision to be made by Obama but a "legal decision" based on the "long-standing treaty" between the two countries. (Anadolu Agency)
- Saudi Nixes Hamas Ties
Saudi Arabia has withdrawn from any rapprochement with Hamas. Palestinian sources said Saudi Arabia has failed to follow through on expectations that the kingdom would restore relations with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. They said Saudi King Salman was persuaded by his top aides that Hamas remained a leading proxy of Iran.
“There is no Saudi communication with Hamas,” Palestinian analyst Akram Atallah said in an interview with the London-based Al Monitor. Atallah said the Hamas leadership was counting strongly on a reconciliation with Riyad.
“This means that Hamas convinced itself that Saudi Arabia is trying to get closer to it,” Atallah said. “However, the Saudi anti-Hamas position remained unchanged, despite the change of Saudi governments.” (Middle East Newsline/IMRA)
- Want to Fight Xenophobia? Then Speak Clearly about Islamism
- Colin Rubenstein
Many Western leaders, analysts and commentators are, often with the best of intentions, counter-productively aiding the popularity of anti-Muslim political movements by failing to speak clearly and sensibly about the ideological origins and nature of Islamist extremist terrorism – such as the bloody attack in Nice on Thursday.
This ideology is best described as Islamism, a violent, totalitarian ideology that argues all political and social problems can be resolved by returning to an imagined version of the Islamic caliphate that existed in the time of the Prophet Muhammad. This ideology is a political belief system – like communism or fascism – and not at all the same as the religion, Islam.
Some, apparently including U.S. President Obama, argue that it is best not to mention the Islamist ideology and belief system behind such attacks, which drives not only IS, but al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbullah, Jemaah Islamyah, Boko Haram, and numerous other violent and ostensibly non-violent groups.
Failing to speak clearly about this ideology even as we see individuals, on a daily basis, carrying out vicious and unconscionable violence, which they say is in the name of Islam, actually does no favors to the vast majority of non-Islamist Muslims, Islamism's primary victims. Instead, it risks failing to create a clear public distinction between the perverse Islamism that guides attacks and moderate, majority, mainstream Islam. The author is executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. (Sydney Morning Herald - Australia)
- Why Is France the Preferred Target for Terrorists?
- Amb. Freddy Eytan
After the murderous attack in Nice, France is sinking deep into depression; the Republic itself and its values sustained a heavy blow on the holiday of freedom. The French people still have not totally internalized the fact that they are in an existential war, and they are having trouble recovering from the recent wave of terror.
France is the symbol of freedom, enlightenment, and democratic values, which stand in complete contrast to the dark, barbaric ideology of global terror organizations.
The presence in France of eight to ten million Muslims strongly affects decision-making in both the political and intelligence domains. Unlike Germany, where most Muslims are Turks, or Britain, where most are from India and Pakistan, in France the overwhelming majority are of North African extraction. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- How Fear of Terrorism Has Come to Dominate Life in France
After a jihadist in a truck killed 84 people in Nice on Bastille Day, the French are trying to comprehend their new normal: terror attacks. As prime minister Manuel Valls said: “France must live with terrorism.
In 18 months, the country has changed fundamentally. Since the 2015 deadly attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices and the kosher supermarket in Paris, the surface layer of life has been fear of terrorism. This fear is the parents’ meeting to discuss whether terrorists could break into your children’s school. It’s the university seminar you can only attend if you register in advance, with full passport details. It’s the security guard who searches you before you enter your post office. The French now live with the constant worry that the sky could fall on their heads.
Before Nice, fear was focused on Paris. Almost every aspect of French life is overcentralized, and the capital had suffered disproportionately from terror. But if hell can break out in a sleepy beach town where millions of French people have happy holiday memories, then nowhere in France feels safe. (Financial Times/Irish Times)
Postcard from Israel
- Stephan Haggard (Korea JoongAng Daily)
- It was believed that a solution to the Palestinian issue — through a revival of the Oslo process and reaching a two-state solution — would dampen conflict not only in Israel and Palestine but in the region more generally.
- It is doubtful that this view of the Middle East was ever right, but three tectonic changes in the last 10 years have fundamentally altered the face of the region. The most recent change was the Arab Spring, a series of uprisings that mostly challenged authoritarian Sunni regimes. These regimes are now concerned as much about their own populations.
- The second development is nothing less than the collapse of the Middle East state system that dates to the colonial era. Throughout these failed states, communities are turning back into themselves, seeking to provide local order.
- Underneath all these developments lies the great Sunni-Shia divide that separates Iran and Iraq and outposts or allies like Hizbullah and the Assad regime in Syria from the mostly conservative Sunni states.
- These epochal changes have had unanticipated effects on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Despite the apparent turmoil in the region, these developments have actually strengthened Israeli security as its neighbors are preoccupied with graver threats.
- Finally, regional developments have not only sidelined the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but in the process weakened the Palestine Liberation Organization’s bargaining position as well.
- Like unification on the Korean Peninsula, it may be more realistic to see two states as a long-term solution, and put more effort into easing the burdens that are placed on the daily life of the Palestinians from Israeli control. Small measures — including economic ones — may not have the drama of ceremonies on the White House lawn, but are at least a start.
- The author is Krause Distinguished Professor at the Graduate School of the University of California in San Diego.
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