President Trump's Surprisingly Warm Welcome in the Middle East - Robin Wright (New Yorker)
There have been personal calls, public statements, and even tweets from leaders across the Middle East and North Africa calling to "strengthen relations" with the U.S.
The first world leader to telephone Trump after his victory was Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir tweeted, "Congratulations to President-Elect Donald Trump, looking forward to strengthening KSA-US historic ties to serve their mutual interests."
See also Muslim Brotherhood: Trump Victory a "Disaster" (Middle East Monitor-UK)
Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. elections is a "disaster" for the Arab and Muslim world, Mamdouh Al-Muneer, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson, said Wednesday.
Moroccans Burn Israeli Flag at UN Climate Talks (Albawaba-Jordan)
Hundreds of people in Morocco have held a protest rally outside parliament in Rabat to vent their anger at the Israeli flag being flown at UN climate talks in Marrakesh that opened on Monday.
The protesters on Wednesday shouted anti-Israel and anti-American slogans and set an Israeli flag on fire.
The National Working Group for Palestine expressed its opposition to "all forms of normalization with Israel under any pretext whatsoever."
British Army Used Israeli Missiles in Iraq and Afghanistan (War Is Boring)
In 2007, the United Kingdom issued an "urgent operational requirement" for a weapon to deliver counter-battery fire against mortar teams harassing British troops in Iraq.
The British Army needed something that could respond swiftly and precisely so as not to cause collateral damage in a densely populated city - and they needed it right away.
The UK acquired 12 armored personnel carriers fitted with Israel's Spike Non-Line of Sight missiles and leased two more directly from Israel Defense Forces stocks.
Spike-NLOS missiles can strike targets up to 26 km. away.
The Israelis call it Tamuz and each missile costs $100,000.
After launch, the camera in the missile's nose feeds back to the launcher using a radio link.
The crew can manually pilot the weapon right until the moment of impact. A soldier can even abort the attack if civilians enter the target zone.
As a result, the missile teams can perform the same role as a precision airstrike, but much faster and cheaper.
Israel Air Force Drones Take On Growing Maritime Patrol Role - Yaakov Lappin (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly)
Israel Air Force (IAF) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are playing a growing role in maritime patrol and intelligence gathering missions.
Lt.-Col. A, commander of the IAF's "First UAV Squadron," said,
"The trend is to transfer as many missions from manned platforms like those conducted by Seascan [maritime patrol] planes, to unmanned platforms. This decreases risk to personnel...and is efficient from a budgetary standpoint."
Israel's Arab Soldiers - Jane Corbin (BBC News)
Mahmud Kashua is one of a growing number of Israeli Arabs who have volunteered to serve in the Israeli army.
"I consider myself an Arab and a Muslim but I also consider myself part of this country," Mahmud tells me.
"It's our state and we have to give back, to help as much as we can to the state which protects us."
Over six months a BBC Arabic documentary team gained extraordinary access to Gadsar - an all-Arab unit of 500 within the Israel Defense Forces.
Ten times as many Israeli Arabs - Muslims and Christians - are joining the IDF compared to three years ago.
"Ten people from my town are serving in the army now. I have friends who want to enlist," says Mahmud.
"I encourage everyone to join - to improve his or her life and look to their future."
Private Equity Investment in Israeli Firms Surges to Record - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
Private equity investments in Israel totaled a record $3.26 billion in the first nine months of 2016, topping the $3.22 billion invested by private equity firms in Israeli firms for the whole of 2015, a new report shows.
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- Iran Army Chief of Staff: Trump Statements Threatening Iran Are "a Joke"
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces, on Thursday lampooned Donald Trump's remarks about Iran during his presidential campaign as a mere joke. "The empty saber-rattling of the president-elect of the U.S. is ludicrous...since we are the major dominant force in the Persian Gulf. Today, our power is manifest in other fronts, including in Iraq and Syria, and they should recalibrate their evaluation of Iran's military might."
He added that Syria, with Iran's help, produced missiles in Aleppo which Hizbullah used to target Israeli cities during the Lebanon War of 2006. (Mehr News-Iran)
- Obama Directs Pentagon to Target Al-Qaeda Affiliate in Syria - Adam Entous
President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to find and kill the leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria that has been at the vanguard of the fight against the Syrian government, U.S. officials said. The decision reflects concern that the group is turning parts of Syria into a new base of operations for al-Qaeda on Europe's southern doorstep.
The group now calls itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and says it has broken with al-Qaeda, an assertion discounted by U.S. officials. U.S. spy agencies reported that the group was allowing al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan to create a new haven in northwest Syria.
"We have made clear to all parties in Syria that we will not allow al-Qaeda to grow its capacity to attack the U.S., our allies, and our interests," said Lisa Monaco, Obama's White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser. "We will continue to take action to deny these terrorists any safe haven in Syria."
Drone strikes by the U.S. military under the program began in October and have so far killed at least four high-value targets, including al-Nusra's senior external planner. "The president doesn't want this group to be what inherits the country if Assad ever does fall," a senior U.S. official said.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu to Russian Prime Minister: Red Line Needed on Iranian Nukes, Bases in Syria - Tovah Lazaroff
Iran must be prevented from producing nuclear weapons and from placing military bases in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev on Thursday. Netanyahu also thanked Russia for agreeing to help Israel secure the release of three Israeli citizens held in Gaza, and the return of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war.
Medvedev said, "We face common challenges, primarily terrorism," and that coordination with Israel has been raised to a new level.
Prior to his arrival, Medvedev told Channel 2, "Our country has never denied the rights of Israel or the Jewish people to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall." (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel Uncovers Palestinian Bomb Factory - Yoav Zitun
The Israel Security Agency on Thursday announced the arrest of eight Palestinians from the West Bank and east Jerusalem involved in planning terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank. Security forces uncovered laboratory equipment used to manufacture explosives and roadside bombs, along with 120 kg. of raw material to be used in their manufacture.
Ahmed Azaleh, an east Jerusalem resident, was arrested when attempting to smuggle in two kg. of gunpowder for pipe bombs.
- Danon: Israel Has Real Friends in the U.S. - Danielle Ziri
"We have real friends here [in the U.S.] and I'm sure it will be the same in the White House," Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "It doesn't mean we will agree about everything all the time, I don't think that will be the case, but I'm sure we will know how to work together. Being in the UN I see the commitment of the U.S. to support Israel. In all of our achievements at the UN, we are here because of the support from the U.S." Danon said that both presidential candidates were supportive of Israel.
It is important for the next president to know that "in order to promote any [peace] process in the Middle East, you need to actually have both sides sitting down to negotiate, and you cannot impose an international agreement. Some here at the UN think they can or should bring a resolution and impose parameters. We know it's not constructive." (Jerusalem Post)
After the U.S. Presidential Election
- Trump's Election Upsets the Palestinian Authority's Diplomatic Campaign Against Israel - Pinhas Inbari
One of the biggest losers from the election of Donald Trump is the Palestinian Authority. The PA planned to unleash a diplomatic blitz against Israel in the halls of the United Nations.
In the first Palestinian public remark on the election, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, the architect of the diplomatic blitz, said he "was concerned" because Trump appeared to be an absolute supporter of Israel.
The Palestinian Authority has totally invested itself - in energy and finances - in the campaign against Israel. Malki recently sought additional funding in order to leverage the PA's success at UNESCO even more for endeavors against both Israel and Jordan. The additional funding arrived, despite the fact that the PA has no money to pay salaries, pay off debts, or pay for economic development.
Now, with Trump's election, the entire delegitimization campaign is down the drain - and the Palestinian Authority has no other agenda. The writer is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Warm Relations Can and Must Be Restored with Washington - Amb. Arthur Koll
Israelis interest in the American elections stemmed from our understanding that the outcome will affect the partnership with our closest ally and supporter. Reintroducing trust, intimacy and confidence to the bilateral relationship is a top priority for both Israel and the U.S.
The Iran nuclear deal, perhaps the biggest source of contention between Israel and the Obama administration, should no longer be a divisive issue. Since preventing Iran from going nuclear is a joint interest of both the U.S. and Israel, it should be relatively easy to come up with an agreed-upon method of consultation and dialogue on the matter. The writer is a former deputy director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
(Times of Israel)
See also U.S.-Israeli Relations after the U.S. Elections - Aaron David Miller (Wall Street Journal)
- Trump and Israel - Zalman Shoval
A new poll shows again that Americans, including those who voted for Trump, want their country to keep playing an active role in the international arena.
It is also safe to assume that Washington's rapprochement with Tehran, spearheaded by Obama, will cease in its tracks. In this context, it is worth mentioning that it was exceedingly prudent of Israel to sign the long-term defense pact with the current administration.
Regarding Israel, it is of immense importance to preserve our interests with the Americans. Trump's first meaningful test pertains to the agreement between George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon on the large settlement blocs - an agreement that Obama ignored. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
- The Role of Missiles in Iran's Military Strategy - Michael Eisenstadt
Iran has the largest missile force in the Middle East, consisting of more than a thousand short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and possibly land-attack cruise missiles. Although its missiles are conventionally armed, many could deliver a nuclear weapon if Iran were to acquire such a capability. The nuclear accord with Iran loosened constraints on Iran's missile program and included provisions for their lifting in eight years, if not sooner.
Iran's missile force could double or triple in size by the time the major limits imposed by the nuclear deal are supposed to be lifted, 15 years from now. By then, Iran's growing missile and cyber capabilities will pose major challenges to regional missile defenses, military and critical infrastructure targets, and civilian population centers. For this reason, any attempts to improve on the nuclear deal with Iran should address Iran's missile program as well.
The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Showtime for the Egyptian President - Zvi Mazel
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is doggedly pursuing reforming the country's economy and putting it squarely on the road to sustainable growth.
He has launched or completed a number of mega projects including the doubling of the Suez Canal, carried out within one year by the army. He has initiated the building of a new capital east of the present one. Some 3,000 km. of new highways are at various stages of planning.
Western countries led by the U.S. still see Sisi as a military dictator who grabbed power from a "democratically elected president." They do not want to admit that Morsi was toppled by a popular uprising - admittedly with the help of the army - just in time to prevent him from creating an Islamic dictatorship. Deprived of Western backing, Egypt turned to Russia and China for political support and economic cooperation.
The next few months will be critical. On the one hand, most Egyptians understand that their president has no other choice but to reduce subsidies. On the other hand, his drastic measures are taking their toll on the poorest of the poor, while the Muslim Brotherhood is busy fanning the flames.
Meanwhile, Israel is quietly helping wherever it can. It could undoubtedly do much more were the Egyptian leadership ready to defy the Islamic establishment and the old Nasserist circles, still bitterly opposed to any form of normalization.
The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.
- Is the U.S. Repeating Old Mistakes in the Middle East? - Michael Doran
Over the last five years, President Obama has tacked away from the U.S.' historic allies in the Middle East - Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - to create a space for the Russians and the Iranians in the regional security architecture.
The Iranian nuclear deal was supposed to usher in a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations. Instead, it has spawned a Russian-Iranian alliance that is well on its way to building a corridor of subservient states stretching from Tehran to Beirut.
Obama is not the first American president to make such a gamble on a longstanding adversary. In 1953, when President Eisenhower assumed office, he, too, sought to stabilize the Middle East by co-opting the leading anti-Western power of the day - Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt.
Believing that the association of the U.S. with Zionism and British imperialism was poisoning American relations with Middle Eastern Muslims, Eisenhower worked to prove to Nasser that the U.S. would help him achieve his nationalist goals, even if those came at the expense of British and Israeli interests.
Sixty years ago, when, at the climax of the Suez Crisis, Britain, France and Israel launched coordinated attacks against Egypt, Eisenhower's opposition to his allies was extreme and they buckled under the pressure.
Eisenhower's policy handed Nasser the victory of his life, and the Egyptian leader repaid America by becoming more radical, more anti-Western and more pro-Soviet.
Eisenhower came to realize that Israel was the U.S.' truest friend in the Middle East and that courting adversaries is a very risky business. The writer, a former White House advisor on the Middle East, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of Ike's Gamble: America's Rise to Dominance in the Middle East. (Los Angeles Times)
- Celebrating One Hundred Years of the Balfour Declaration - John Howell MP
The Balfour Declaration was instrumental in the creation of the State of Israel, serving, in effect, as a legal birth certificate.
It was ratified by all 51 countries of the League of Nations when the Mandate for Palestine was approved in July 1922. When it was issued in 1917, the infrastructure of a Jewish state was already being established, with the widespread foundation of kibbutzim and moshavim. The affirmation of the British Government served to validate this process, rather than initiate it.
Israel has lived up to the highest ambitions of the Balfour Declaration, as a democratic, prosperous and self-reliant state. The UK must encourage the Palestinians to respond to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's call for the immediate resumption of peace talks which is the only way to achieve a lasting two-state solution. The writer is Vice-Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel. (Conservative Home-UK)
- Ethiopian-Born Miss Israel Shares Her Immigrant Story at UMD - Kimberly Escobar
The 2013 Miss Israel spoke about her personal struggles and the joy she found as an immigrant in Israel at the University of Maryland on Wednesday.
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Yityish "Titi" Aynaw immigrated to Israel when she was 12 and went on to serve as a commander in the Israel Defense Forces. "People don't know too much about Israel and they see this black girl model Miss Israel speaking - I like to see the surprise on their faces," Aynaw said.
In terms of women's rights in Israel, Aynaw said she could not be more proud of her country. More women are beginning to take higher positions in the country's politics. (Diamondback-University of Maryland)
The Challenges Facing American Jewry - Steve Linde (Jerusalem Post)
- The 2016 presidential race exhibited "worrying manifestations of anti-Semitism on the extremes of both sides," says Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
- But Hoenlein and others are much more concerned about what he calls "the negative phenomenon of indifference" within the Jewish community.
- They believe the antidote lies in properly educating the younger generation as early as possible about the positive aspects of both Judaism and the Jewish state, and equipping them with the tools to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, particularly the BDS movement on college campuses.
- "The problem is that many of our kids are not inoculated and equipped to respond, so they fall victim to the often extremist and anti-Israel culture that exists among faculty members and on campuses. We have to start doing much more, much earlier."
- "We need to be united. That doesn't mean there can't be differences, but we have to deal with them in an atmosphere of respect, while we recognize that what unites us far outweighs the differences."
- "We have one faith and one fate, and so what's happening to one part of us is going to affect all of us."
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