Iran Is Stepping Up Cyberattacks - Tim Johnson (McClatchy)
Recent cyberattacks have frozen computers at two government agencies in Saudi Arabia, and security experts say Iran is behind the digital mayhem.
"Since the (U.S.) election especially, there's been a pretty drastic increase in the amount of targeting of Saudi and Israeli institutions by hacking groups that we absolutely know are based out of Iran," said Collin Anderson, a researcher writing a report on Iranian cyber warfare for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
He said "reasonable degrees of evidence" link the hacking to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
ISIS Sympathizer Sentenced for Planning U.S. Capitol Attack - Douglas Ernst (Washington Times)
Christopher Lee Cornell, 22, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, was sentenced on Monday in Cincinnati to 30 years behind bars for plotting a terror attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington during President Obama's State of the Union address in January 2015.
As he was led out of the courtroom, Cornell screamed, "Allah is in control, not this judge!"
Four Palestinians Found Dead in Collapsed Gaza Tunnel (Anadolu-Turkey)
The bodies of four Palestinian workers were recovered on Sunday from a tunnel that collapsed a week ago on the border between Gaza and Egypt, a Palestinian security source said.
Hamas on Monday said the men died as a direct result of Egypt's decision to flood the tunnels with seawater.
On Saturday, the Egyptian army said it had destroyed seven cross-border tunnels last month.
See also Palestinian Killed, Another Injured in Explosion inside Gaza House (Ma'an News-PA)
A Palestinian man was killed and another seriously injured on Monday in an explosion inside a house in Jabaliya in Gaza.
Ahmad Abu al-Husna, 30, was identified as a member of Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Israel a Leader in Environmental Innovation - Momo Mahadav (Huffington Post)
Israel has been named as the world's top innovator in the field of clean technologies by the Global Cleantech 100 Index.
It was out of a necessity to solve problems like drinking water shortages or agricultural solutions in the Negev desert that led Israel to the forefront of environmental sustainability.
In addition, there is passion. I recall watching a field manager during a visit to Mekorot, the national water company. You could see in his eyes this deep sense of value and purpose to what he was doing - you don't usually find this type of attitude at government-owned companies.
There's an inherent passion within Israelis to create and participate in something that will affect the greater good around the world.
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- Syria Rebels Weaken in Aleppo - Raja Abdulrahim
Civilians in Aleppo's decimated rebel-held neighborhoods said their situation is growing increasingly desperate as signs mount that the opposition in the city faces potential collapse.
Rebels estimate that Assad's forces and their allies now hold 60% of the territory in the city the opposition controlled a week ago. "The opposition has been broken," said Baraa Omar, an engineer-turned-nurse, a day after surviving a barrel-bomb attack on the field hospital in which she worked.
Ibrahim Hamo, a military commander with the rebel Ahrar Syria faction, said two of his fighters left the rebel areas to accompany their families to safety. But just days after departing, they messaged Hamo that they had been forcefully conscripted into the regime forces. (Wall Street Journal)
- Anti-Semitism Awareness Bill Passes Senate - Colleen Flaherty
The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, which seeks to adopt the U.S. State Department's definition of anti-Semitism so that the Education Department may consider it in investigating reports of religiously motivated campus crimes. The bill was proposed by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC).
The bill is supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Among the examples of anti-Semitism listed by Casey include demonizing Israel and judging it by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation.
(Inside Higher Ed)
- Russia Kills Islamic State Leader in North Caucasus
Russia's FSB security service said it has killed "the head of the Caucasus region's branch of the Islamic State, Rustam Aselderov, and four of his close associates." Aselderov was involved in blasts in the Russian city of Volgograd which killed 34 people in 2013. He was also linked to twin car blasts in Dagestan in 2012 that killed 14 and injured at least 120. He also organized a foiled attack in Moscow's Red Square on New Year's Eve in 2010 involving two female suicide bombers.
- ISIS Loses Control of Libyan City of Sirte - Patrick Wintour
The capture of Sirte, the last major Islamic State stronghold in Libya, has been completed after months of fighting. In recent days, dozens of women and children had left the last group of buildings controlled by militants, Libyan forces said. But several women carried out deadly suicide attacks on Friday as they were being granted safe passage.
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- PA Commission of Inquiry Claims Abbas Rival Mohammed Dahlan Poisoned Yasser Arafat - Daniel Siryoti
A Palestinian Authority commission of inquiry has found former Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan responsible for the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. The Palestinian inquiry's findings, published Sunday, claim that Dahlan gave Arafat poisoned medicine during his hospitalization in Paris, and that those who delivered the poisoned medicine confessed to their crime. The report also accused Dahlan of attempting to stage a military coup in the West Bank to depose Arafat's appointed successor - Mahmoud Abbas.
- Video: IDF Arrests Palestinian Firebomb Throwers - Yoav Zitun and Elisha ben Kimon
An IDF Field Intelligence Unit arrested several Palestinians as they were preparing to throw firebombs at Israeli cars near Al-Khader, south of Bethlehem. The Palestinians were spotted by military lookouts.
- African Agriculture Ministers Visit Israel in Sign of Flowering Ties - Herb Keinon
In a sign of Israel's blossoming ties with Africa, the 15-nation Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) chose Israel for a three-day agricultural summit that began Monday in Jerusalem, attended by the agriculture ministers from seven states. (Jerusalem Post)
- Avoiding Mistakes in Middle East Peacemaking - Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot
As the Trump administration takes shape, it would do well to avoid the mistakes of the outgoing administration that doomed its attempt at Middle East peacemaking.
Rather than encouraging practical steps to improve the security and livelihood of the people it supposedly endeavored to help, President Obama heavily focused on Israeli settlements. But eight years of intensive diplomacy led to little or no results.
The administration immediately demanded an absolute freeze on Israeli housing construction not only in the entire West Bank, including in the major blocs that Israel will obviously keep in any peace agreement, but also in Israel's capital of Jerusalem. Developments that have had massive influence on Israeli public opinion, like the deteriorating prospects for peace in Gaza despite the removal of all Israeli settlements there, were viewed from the White House and State Department as irrelevant.
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, outside the five major bloc townships, a total of 6,818 housing units were approved for construction in West Bank settlements between 2009 and 2016. A separate analysis shows an increase of approximately 20,000 residents in the 70 settlements that are outside the major blocs. Israeli population in the settlements is growing, but at a rate that reflects mostly births in families already there, and not in-migration of new settlers.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian population is also growing, so that in comparative terms, the demographic balance between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank has changed very little since Obama took office. Considering all the data, the working assumptions guiding Obama's policy were simply wrong. Settlement expansion is not speedily gobbling up the West Bank, nor has it killed off chances for peace.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009.
- Iran and Its Iraqi Shi'a Allies - Ariane Tabatabai
The Iraqi Shia militias are often grouped under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), but not all PMF are created equal. Some are embedded in the Iraqi political system; others have allegiances to specific religious figures. Some groups are fairly independent from Tehran, while others were actually created by the Islamic Republic. Virtually all seem to receive some degree of material support, such as financial aid, weapons, and equipment. The PMF's main interlocutor in Iran is the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, which operates under the supervision of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
PMF forces often succeed where the Iraqi Army fails. They are able to mobilize quickly and in large numbers (15,000 alone are said to have joined the battle of Mosul). The militias have close enough ties to Tehran to be a liability, but not close enough to be under direct Iranian control. As a result, the Islamic Republic's ability to influence their decision-making and actions is limited. Yet regardless of the complexities of Iran-PMF relations, many Iraqis, and Sunnis in general, view Shia militias as Iran's arm in Iraq.
As ISIS is weakened, the Shia militias may increasingly become a liability for Tehran. If the militias continue to commit war crimes against Sunnis and without a clear response from Tehran, after the fall of ISIS, Iran will have a much harder time positioning itself as an influencer in a post-ISIS Iraq. The writer is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Security Studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Why the U.S. Failed to Advance Israeli-Palestinian Peace - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
- Many Israelis recognize an imperative to separate from the Palestinians, but in today's treacherous Middle East, they need more persuasion than ever that relinquishing territory will bring guaranteed tranquility rather than escalated terrorism.
- While Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama assured Israelis they could afford to take the risk of territorial compromise, we have watched countries all around us descend into chaos, and seen every unsavory terror group you can name gain footholds in the neighborhood.
- We have watched Iran grow emboldened and richer, thanks to a lousy accord that did not fully dismantle its rogue nuclear program.
- We saw Hizbullah fill the vacuum when we left southern Lebanon. We watched Hamas take over when we left Gaza, and we have since endured rocket fire and intermittent conflict as the reward for our withdrawal, even as we have been battered internationally for fighting back.
- We have witnessed Mahmoud Abbas' West Bank Palestinian hierarchy encourage hostility to Israel, lie about our plans for the Temple Mount, and rewrite the previous Muslim narrative that acknowledged the historicity of Jerusalem's Jewish temples in favor of a revisionist creed that denies all Jewish connection to the holy city and thus delegitimates Israel's very presence.
- The lesson that Kerry refused to learn, but that his successors would be wise to, is that you cannot broker peace when the people on one side of the negotiating table do not so much as acknowledge the right of the people on the other side to be there.
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