Britain Says 13 Terror Attack Plots Foiled since 2013 (AFP)
Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, said Monday, "The UK intelligence community and police have disrupted 13 UK terrorist attack plots since June 2013."
Rowley said incidents inspired by Islamic State were a "large part" of the problem, although al-Qaeda remained a significant threat.
"We've got over 500 investigations at any one stage," he added.
Islamic State Targeted Saudi Royals in Malaysia - Yantoultra Ngui (Wall Street Journal)
Two teams and one lone man with Islamic State links, working separately, narrowly missed attacking Saudi royals during King Salman's recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian police said.
"We got them in the nick of time," Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said Tuesday.
One group consisted of four Yemenis, another involved an Indonesian and a Malaysian, and a seventh would-be attacker was from an East Asian nation, he said.
U.S. Troops Play New Role in Syria - Shawn Snow (Military Times)
The U.S. military has sent a team of troops to Manbij in Syria to prevent the various forces there from fighting one another.
The Pentagon calls its effort "reassure and deter." It's focused on keeping peace between Syrian Kurdish militias and Turkish military units, both of whom are fighting the Islamic State but deeply distrust one another.
Russian military elements, in support of Syrian President Assad, also are present on the city's outskirts.
U.S. Air Campaign in Yemen Continues - Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
For a fifth consecutive night, American planes and drones on Monday pummeled targets in Yemen, killing 7 al-Qaeda fighters, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said.
The U.S. has conducted more than 40 attacks across Yemen in the past week, compared to 41 strikes in all of 2012, the most in a single year against al-Qaeda in Yemen.
A March 2 strike killed Mohammed Tahar, a former prisoner held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo, Cuba, and Usayd al-Adnani, a "longtime explosives expert who served as the organization's emir" in Abyan Province.
Israel Develops Vest to Shield Astronauts from Radiation - Ori Lewis and Rinat Harash (Reuters)
Tel Aviv-based StemRad, which has produced and marketed a belt to protect rescue workers from harmful gamma ray radiation emitted in nuclear disasters, has developed a vest designed to shield astronauts from deadly solar particles in deep space.
The vest will be tested on a dummy that will monitor radiation absorption during a NASA flight scheduled for 2018 on a mission that will orbit the moon.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Trump, Netanyahu Discuss Iran, Anti-Semitism in Phone Call - Smita Nordwall
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday "spoke at length about the dangers arising from the nuclear deal with Iran and Iranian aggression in the [Middle East] region and the need to work together to deal with those dangers," Netanyahu's office said. The two leaders also discussed the recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S., including bomb threats and cemetery vandalism.
- Pentagon: Iranian Vessels Continue to Harass U.S. Navy Ship - Carol Morello
Swift-moving Iranian vessels came dangerously close to the U.S. Navy surveillance ship USS Invincible in the Strait of Hormuz again on Saturday, after a similar incident on Thursday, U.S. officials said Monday. On Saturday, a number of smaller boats approached the U.S. ship, closing to within 600 yards, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said. A Navy official condemned the Iranian actions as "unsafe and unprofessional." (Washington Post)
- Iran Targets Ships in Missile Tests - Lucas Tomlinson
Continuing a pattern of provocative actions, Iran this weekend test-fired a pair of Fateh-110 missiles, one of which destroyed a floating barge 155 miles away, raising concerns for the U.S. Navy, which operates ships in the area, U.S. officials said. The Iranian Fateh-110 Mod 3 has a new "active seeker," helping the missile locate ships at sea, an official said. (Fox News)
- In Syria, a Patchwork of Forces Control Regime-Held Areas - Rama Abdulrahim
Syrian President Assad's regime relies on a patchwork of forces that include dozens of domestic and foreign militias in a complex web of fiefdoms that vie for power. The situation mirrors the rebel infighting that has long plagued the Syrian opposition. The jockeying for control in government-controlled areas suggests that even if a political settlement is reached to end Syria's war with rebels, stability will remain elusive.
(Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Knesset OK's Bill Banning Foreign Boycott Activists - Udi Shaham
The Knesset on Monday approved a bill to allow the Interior Ministry to ban those who support the boycott of Israel from entering the country. Knesset Interior Committee chairman MK David Amsalem
said, "If someone demeans me, I do not let them into my home. If anyone insults us, we respond; this law is elementary." (Jerusalem Post)
- Switzerland Funds NGOs that Call for Israel's Destruction - Benjamin Weinthal
The Swiss daily Basler Zeitung reported in February, "Switzerland finances in different ways organizations in Israel and the Palestinian territories that call for the annihilation of Israel and for the death of Jews." (Jerusalem Post)
- IDF Defuses Two Explosive Devices near Gaza Border - Yoav Zitun
An IDF unit defused two explosive charges placed on the Gaza border fence on Tuesday, which were intended to explode as soldiers approached.
- Iran and the U.S. under the Trump Administration - Eldad Shavit, Sima Shine, and Anna Catran
The brief period that the new administration has been in office suggests that U.S. policy on Iran signals a change from recent years. There is an emphasis on adopting a tough and threatening line, probably in an attempt to make the Iranians understand that the Trump administration does not intend to ignore Tehran's provocative measures.
At the same time, the administration is acting cautiously toward the nuclear agreement.
A White House report about a conversation between President Trump and the King of Saudi Arabia emphasized that "the two leaders agreed about the need to strictly enforce the agreement," i.e., an understanding that the agreement remains in effect.
The administration is just beginning to formulate its long-term policy on Iran. The goal it sets will probably focus on minimizing Iran's regional influence, while enhancing deterrence against provocative measures and violations of the nuclear agreement.
(Institute for National Security Studies)
- The Defeat of Islamic State in Mosul Advances the Iranian Takeover of Iraq - Zalman Shoval
The pending defeat of Islamic State in Mosul is just another phase in the Iranian strategy to take over Iraq. The Shiite forces that took part in the fighting in Mosul will be able to move forward with their primary mission: turning all of Iraq into an Iranian satellite, as part of Iran's effort to spread its hegemony from Baghdad through Damascus to Beirut. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
- The Internal Collapse Facing Lebanon's Shiites - Hala Nasrallah
In 2013, when Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah launched the group's campaign to defend the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad, thousands of its fighters crossed into Syria believing that they would deliver the enemy a resounding defeat. But as the years passed, many have died in the war.
Media reports of a coherent Shiite community are false. The latest municipal elections in April and May 2016 exposed the massive rift between Shiite communities and the two main parties, Hizbullah and Amal. In Baalbek, near the Syrian border, 40% of the vote went to the "Baalbek is my City" list headed by Hizbullah critic Ghaleb Yaghi. (Fikra Forum-Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Israel and the Problem of Intersectional Thinking - Irwin J. Mansdorf
If you're on the side of human rights, well, you must also be for minority rights, Muslim rights, immigrant rights, and a whole slew of rights that are core beliefs of those who consider themselves liberal or progressive. And while Palestinian rights is always part of this intersectional universe, Israeli rights are never mentioned. Here is where the real problem comes into play and where automatic thinking has clouded the moral compass of so many.
Palestinian society fails to act against honor killings, fails to acknowledge the rights of gays and fails to promote gender equality. It arbitrarily arrests and uses torture against detainees, illegally executes prisoners, suppresses free speech, does not allow a free press and does not tolerate minorities. It also ignores violence against Jews and publicly supports and glorifies those that kill Israelis.
Caring about refugees is admirable; ignoring how they became refugees is not. Ignoring the real threat of Iran, the country behind the slaughter in Syria, the country that wants to destroy Israel, is wrong. The writer is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he directs the Israel-Arab studies program for overseas students.
China and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process - Ng Weng Hoong (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
- Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Assaf Orion, a senior research fellow and head of the China Program at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said in an interview that before China can become a player in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the region must first have the "conditions for peace."
- These "conditions" are currently lacking owing to doubts that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is strong enough to negotiate and implement the terms of any peace agreement. The PA is divided and beholden to powerful factions in the Arab world, including some that do not recognize Israel's right to exist.
- International meetings such as the January 15 conference in Paris attended by representatives from some 70 countries represent unwanted distractions. "The conference is all about trying to arrange for a better wedding in the hope that it will lead to a better marriage," Orion said before it was held. "The Middle East is broke and broken. What's the use of another political convention?"
- Orion said the region's governments should instead focus their attention on repairing their "broken" economies, starting with the rebuilding of infrastructure destroyed by years of conflict and neglect.
China's "international politics are less about military forces and conflicts, and more about business. China's forte and focus is economic growth. It's exactly what's needed here in the Middle East."
- But China is still counting the massive financial and strategic losses it has incurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent years. These include the rush to invest in Libya before the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, paying too much for stakes in Iraq's oilfields prior to the global oil price collapse and the emergence of ISIS, and making elaborate plans to turn Bashar Assad's Syria into a regional hub for Chinese influence before the country's disintegration into civil war.
- Orion thinks China is not interested - nor does it know how - to take on political or military roles in the Middle East. China would rather focus on building infrastructure and supporting economic development that are more in keeping with its "One Belt One Road" initiative to revive and expand the old Silk Road to the West. He sees China and the U.S. complementing and supporting, rather than competing against, each other in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
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