Iran Says Syrian Army, Hizbullah Readying to Launch Large-Scale Operation Against Rebels near Border with Israel (Fars-Iran)
Syrian army soldiers and the Lebanese Hizbullah resistance movement are coordinating the final steps for launching a large-scale operation in Quneitra province in southern Syria, military sources said Monday.
Sources said, "Hizbullah has deployed a large number of its forces at Quneitra passage" in the Golan Heights, opposite Israel.
Palestinians Paying Thousands in Bribes to Leave Gaza - Sanaa Kamal and Hunter Stuart (Al-Jazeera)
Egyptian officers are asking for bribes of up to $10,000 from Palestinians in Gaza desperate to cross into Egypt, according to Gaza brokers who coordinate the bribe payments.
Typically, an adult in Gaza must pay a bribe of $3,000 to cross the border. The brokers said they took a 20% cut, sending 80% to the Egyptian officer who coordinated it.
Sometimes, Egyptian officers put the names of Palestinians on a blacklist, declaring them to be a "security threat," but a $10,000 payment can have a name removed.
A former high-ranking Hamas official who worked for the Hamas Crossings Authority at Rafah said that over the course of only two days last year, nearly half a million dollars in bribes were paid by 150 Palestinians in order to travel to Egypt.
Report: Hamas to Choose Haniyeh as Mashaal's Successor - Kifah Ziboun (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Hamas is seeking to elect senior leader Ismail Haniyeh to lead its political bureau, replacing Khaled Mashaal who has served for two consecutive terms and is not allowed to run for a third term, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Haniyeh, who lives in Gaza, is looking to settle soon with members of his family in the Qatari capital, Doha.
Haniyeh was elected vice-president of Hamas' political bureau in 2012.
French Uproar Creates Opportunity for Israeli Burkini Makers (AP-VOA News)
France's burkini controversy is boosting the bottom line for Israeli makers of modest women's swimwear.
Home to large populations of conservative Jewish and Muslim women, Israel has cultivated a local industry of modest swimsuits, and full-body outfits have been a common sight on Israeli beaches for several years.
Anat Yahav started the SunWay company to make UV-protective clothing for children. Then, she said, Muslim customers asked her to make an adult model with long sleeves, legs and hoods.
Sahab Nasser sells SunWay burkinis at her lingerie shop in Tira, a Muslim town in central Israel. She said she finally bought one so she could accompany her three-year-old daughter in the pool. Previously she would stay out of the water while the men and children would go swimming.
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- Turkey Ejects Islamic State from Segment of Syrian Border - Margaret Coker
Turkey's military over the weekend flushed Islamic State from its 60-mile foothold along the Syrian border, the Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported Sunday. Losing access to that stretch of the border
deprives Islamic State of direct access to areas vital to its ability to resupply itself with foreign fighters and bomb-making materials. Turkish armored units, artillery and air forces took part in the battles, along with 1,000 Syrian rebel fighters and air support from the U.S.-led coalition.
A U.S. official said, "Repelling these terrorists from the border with Turkey and NATO has been a longtime goal of the counter-ISIL [ISIS] coalition." (Wall Street Journal)
- Israel Seeking Police Recruits: Eager, and Arab - Diaa Hadid
Israel is seeking to recruit more Arab Muslims into its police force.
Many would work in Arab cities and towns, where violence is wreaking havoc in their communities. Some 60% of Israel's murders occurred in Arab communities, triple the Arab proportion of the population, along with more than 40% of traffic accidents. Public security minister Gilad Erdan has promised to open 12 new police stations. (There are 7 in such areas now.)
Alongside the recruitment drive, Jamal Hakroush, a long-serving Muslim officer, was promoted to deputy commissioner, the second-highest rank on the force. He said that since the recruitment initiative was announced in April, about 700 Arabs have applied to the police force and about 200 were expected to make it.
A broader Israeli government program will invest $3.8 billion in infrastructure, education, housing and other services in Arab communities in an effort to better integrate the residents into society.
(New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Changed Predictions for PA Elections: Fatah to Remain Strong in West Bank, May Challenge Hamas in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
In the upcoming Palestinian local elections on Oct. 8, the Fatah movement has maintained a surprising degree of unity. Even the close associates of Mohammad Dahlan - considered Mahmoud Abbas' main rival - have refrained from running on competing lists and are cooperating with Fatah.
A high-ranking Fatah official explained, "The total number of seats for the local councils, municipalities, villages - altogether in the West Bank and in Gaza - that will be elected on October 8 is 3,818. Of that number, there are 313 seats in Gaza and 3,505 in the West Bank. Even before the election campaign began, Fatah was assured of 1,335 seats."
In 181 local councils out of the 391 in the West Bank, the residents decided on just one list that will run in the elections.
In the city of Jenin, Hamas is not participating in the elections. In Ramallah, there is a Fatah list and a left-wing list, but no Hamas list. In Jericho, two Fatah lists are running against one another, without Hamas. In Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour there is no Hamas list. Hamas has lists in Hebron, Tulkarm, and Kalkilya, while current Nablus mayor Adly Yaish will serve in rotation with a member of Fatah. Unlike the anti-Fatah "tsunami" in the 2005 local elections, it is becoming clearer that Hamas is not set for any dramatic victory in the West Bank.
In Gaza, Fatah appears to be mounting a close challenge. Unlike in the West Bank, Gazans will be able to choose between two lists explicitly identified with either Fatah or Hamas. Fatah may well be the better organized faction, at least in the large cities. (Times of Israel)
- Germany to Investigate PA for Paying Monthly Salaries to Convicted Terrorists - Raphael Ahren
The German government has for the first time admitted that the Palestinian Authority likely grants financial support to terrorists and their families, and vowed to further investigate the matter. Germany supports the PA with $179 million annually. The PA pays nearly $170 million a year to prisoners and families of terrorists.
(Times of Israel)
- Police Thwart Car Ramming Attack in Jerusalem
As Border Police and Israel Police officers were leaving the Shuafat neighborhood in Jerusalem on Monday, a car began to speed up in the officers' direction in an attempt to hit them. When the driver ignored warnings and continued driving at high speed toward the group, the officers fired, killing him. (Jerusalem Post)
- Palestinian Stabbing Attack Foiled near Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron
IDF forces on Sunday foiled a Palestinian stabbing attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in the West Bank. Two Palestinian teens were arrested after a checkpoint metal detector discovered long knives in their bags. They told border policemen they had planned to stab Israeli soldiers.
- U.S. Built Syria Plans on Fault Line of Turkish-Kurdish Enmity - David Ignatius
The U.S. military campaign to seize the Islamic State's capital, Raqqa, may be delayed because of a nasty fight between Turkey and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. The Syrian Kurds drove Islamic State from Kobane in ferocious fighting in 2014 and 2015. U.S. Special Operations forces saw YPG as the backbone of the coming campaign to take Raqqa. Now the YPG leadership has told Pentagon officials that unless the Turks pull back, the Kurdish role in Raqqa is in question. Unfortunately, there's no alternative force that can clear the terrorist capital anytime soon.
Western powers over the past century have used Kurdish fighters when it suited their purposes, and then abandoned them when neighboring powers objected. That happened after 1918, when the allies ignored President Woodrow Wilson's pledge to create a Kurdish homeland; it happened in 1947, when Iran crushed the short-lived Mahabad Republic; it happened in 1975, when the shah of Iran agreed to allow Iraq's Saddam Hussein to suppress the Kurds, despite secret American promises of support.
Washington must help build governance for a post-Islamic State world. It should make clear that the only durable future is a federalism that can give Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites, Turkmen and other minorities a sense of ownership and control in Syria and Iraq.
- How Turkey's Advance into Syria Impacts Israel - Herb Keinon
Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, who served from 2009 to 2015 at Israel's National Security Council, said the Turkish military move in Syria illustrates waning U.S. power and influence in the region. He said there was something "pathetic" about hearing Pentagon officials rebuking the Turks for taking their battle inside Syria to the Kurds, but then the Turks going ahead and doing whatever they want "regardless of American discomfort."
"The will of the United States of America has rarely carried less weight than it does now in regional affairs. And that means that those of us who worry about regional stability have to work together for ourselves."
He said Israel is "justifiably careful" not to take a position on whether a Kurdish state should be formed. Israel "does not want to give the Kurds' enemies the ability to say that this is something that we are fomenting....But we do have a sentiment and an affinity for people who stood and fought - and courageously - against Islamic State in the last few years, and I think it is not only morally, but strategically troubling, to see the Turks prioritizing a fight with the Kurds over their fight against ISIS." (Jerusalem Post)
See also The Kurds, Against All Odds - Eyal Zisser
Between 30 and 40 million Kurds live in the Middle East, a large ethnic minority which is undeniably unique in both its history and culture, and yet is supported by no one in its struggle to receive its own state.
The writer, Vice Rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. (Israel Hayom)
Until Change Comes from
Within, Muslim Fanatics Will Threaten the West - Efraim Inbar (BESA Center-Bar-Ilan University)
- The Middle East, more than any other region in the world, is beleaguered by
religious fanatics ready to use violence indiscriminately against people who
do not adhere to the "right" religious approach.
- These zealots have a great
deal of energy, and many frustrated Muslims are ready to blame their
miserable predicament on the West.
- The majority of Muslims in the region do not condone abhorrent terrorist
acts, but they are largely silent. Many who would not participate in such
acts show understanding when they are committed by others.
- Most tragically,
they are reluctant to take responsibility for bringing their societies into
the 21st century.
- The West can do little to change this situation. Change must come from
within. The ambitious attempt to "fix" Iraq and Afghanistan, which consumed
immense amounts of blood and treasure, yet ended in failure, suggests the
limits of political engineering.
- This means that the evil winds blowing from the Middle East will hover over
the world for several decades at least.
The writer, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is
professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University.
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