Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 11, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

The Iran/al Qaeda Connection - Michael Ledeen (National Review)
    Iran is a major center for al Qaeda, and German prosecutors have identified roughly a dozen camps around Tehran where al Qaeda terrorists are taken care of by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
    These camps are part of an elaborate underground railroad: The terrorists and their families are moved out of Afghanistan and Pakistan into Iranian Baluchistan and then into Iran proper.
    From there they go by air or land either to Beirut or to Damascus (the State Department's "ally" in the war against terror), and then into the Bekka Valley of Lebanon to one of the legendary centers of Hizballah terror, Ein Hilweh.

The Choice for Iraq's Army: Be Killed by the U.S. or by Saddam - Luke Harding (Guardian-UK)
    A recent defector from Iraq's conscript army says morale was very low both among his fellow conscripts and among civilians, and "the officers beat us."
    What would have happened if he had been caught trying to run away? "I would have been executed."
    The Republican Guard will support and defend Saddam, while "the ordinary soldiers and many of the commanders will surrender," he said, adding "if George Bush wants to give us freedom then we will welcome it."

Saddam Used Chemical Weapons in 1998 - Jon Swain (London Times)
    Iraqi forces attacked a village in the Gandaleh area in southern Iraq with chemical weapons in 1998, several years after Saddam Hussein assured the UN he no longer had weapons of mass destruction, said Baroness Nicholson, a senior MEP.
    Nicholson is the vice-president of the European parliament's foreign affairs committee, its investigator on Iraq, and an advocate of human rights in the country. She also founded the Amar appeal, a humanitarian agency set up to help people forced to leave their historic marshlands in southern Iraq.

Most Arab Leaders Want Arafat Out, Security Chief Says - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    Most of the region's leaders would like to see Yasser Arafat replaced, National Security Council chief Ephraim Halevy told the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy on Sunday.
    Halevy predicted that the PA chairman would indeed be ousted in 2003.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Iraq Gave Me No New Evidence, Says Blix
    Iraq's failure to meet the key demands of UN arms experts became clear Monday when the chief weapons inspector said no "new evidence" had been offered at final talks in Baghdad. Hans Blix, the leader of the UN teams charged with disarming Iraq of chemical and biological weapons, contradicted Baghdad's claim that documents given to him over the weekend answered every unresolved question about illegal arms production. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also France, Germany, and Belgium Break NATO Unity on Iraq; U.S. Still Backed by 16 Out of 19 NATO Countries (New York Times)
  • Saudis Plan to End U.S. Presence
    Saudi Arabia's leaders have made far-reaching decisions to prepare for an era of military disengagement from the U.S., to enact what Saudi officials call the first significant democratic reforms at home, and to rein in the conservative clergy that has shared power in the kingdom. The Saudi reform debate, according to one participant, has taken place in an atmosphere of opposition from senior princes, including Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the minister of interior, and to a lesser extent, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the minister of defense. If he issues the decrees, Abdullah will have to contend with those religious authorities who will resist reforms and a change in the fundamentalist contract that has empowered a clergy who practice one of Islam's most conservative interpretations, based on the teachings of Sheik Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab and sometimes referred to as Wahhabism. (New York Times)
  • Powell Speech Convinces Schwarzkopf
    Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led U.S. military forces in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, Sunday reversed his reluctance to use military force against Iraq, saying Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein should be disarmed. Gen. Schwarzkopf said he changed his mind after hearing Secretary of State Powell's presentation before the UN Security Council last week. (Washington Times)
  • Iran Details Nuclear Efforts
    President Mohammad Khatami said Sunday that Iran had mined uranium for use in its nuclear power plants and would reprocess the spent fuel itself, but insisted its nuclear program was solely for civilian use. Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said Iran, for the first time, had developed the capacity to produce composite solid fuels for its missiles. "This solid fuel could be used for any kind of missile," he said after inaugurating a manufacturing plant. (Reuters/Washington Post)
  • Egypt Asks U.S. for Trade Pact, Aid Boost
    Egypt has asked the U.S. for an additional aid package to defray anticipated costs of a possible war with Iraq and has renewed its appeals for a bilateral free-trade agreement. (Washington Post)
  • Hamas on the Rise
    Palestinian analysts say the strength of the Islamists is at a historical high: Hamas is already thought to be more popular in Gaza than Arafat's Fatah group. Some Hamas leaders now talk about translating that might into political power. Mahmoud Zahar, one of the group's leaders in Gaza, asserted last week that Hamas had the infrastructure to take over leadership "politically, financially, and socially." (Newsweek)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • PA Memo: Hamas Ceasefire Acceptance is "Temporary Tactic" - Arnon Regular
    The willingness expressed by Hamas to stop its attacks inside Israel is no more than a "temporary tactic," according to a memo prepared by top officials in the Palestinian Authority security services. According to the memo, Hamas aspires to replace the Fatah as the dominant political party in the PA, and take over the PLO's institutions, but prefers to do so by peaceful means, rather than through violent clashes with the PA and Fatah. As for Hamas readiness to cease attacks inside Israel, the memo says Hamas attended the Cairo talks aimed at reaching a Palestinian cease-fire, "because if it refused Egypt, it would destroy relations with Egypt." The memo says Hamas will cease its attacks only during the war in Iraq. Kuwait sends most of the funding to Hamas, and has pressured Hamas to avoid embarrassing the Americans by attacking Israel during the Iraq war, the memo says. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Not Expecting Repeat of 1991 - Amos Harel
    If Iraq attacks Israel in response to a U.S. assault, Israel's citizens will not be expected to sit in sealed rooms or shelters on and off for weeks, as they did in the previous war in the Gulf in 1991. At the most, IDF officers predict, the authorities will declare an emergency situation for a few days, after which the U.S. will eliminate the missile threat from western Iraq. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians Fear Loss of Gaza - Amos Harel
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Israel Radio recently that if the Kassam rocket fire from Gaza continued, Israel would consider reoccupying the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians noted it very carefully. "The Palestinians are developing a real fear of losing the Strip," said a senior General Staff officer. "Mofaz made them worry that what has already happened in the West Bank will happen in Gaza as well. PA senior officials have much to lose if their reign there collapses."
        In addition, there is now unanimity among Israel's top officials to expel Yasser Arafat. One mass-casualty attack on Israel, and he will be gone. Such an attack is not unlikely since both money and orders for attacks have been arriving at an accelerated rate recently - mainly from Iran, but also from Syria and Iraq. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gorbachev on the Nile? - Jackson Diehl
    Last week, Gamal Mubarak - son of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and, for the first time, leader of an official delegation - was received in Washington. Many Egyptians believe that the two Mubaraks are engaged in a tricky maneuver to hand off power from the 74-year-old father to the 39-year-old son in a country that calls itself a constitutional republic. But Gamal is proof that his father's political system has failed to produce real alternatives. It's not only the dynastic succession; it's that the younger Mubarak has adopted his father's Orwellian practice of flatly stating the opposite of what everybody knows about his country. (Washington Post)
  • Perfidious Princes, Cont. - Editorial
    For a government that claims it is providing "full cooperation" with America's war on terrorism, Saudi Arabia is providing a considerable number of diplomatic landmines in the path of U.S. efforts to bring terrorists to justice. When will Capitol Hill sit up and take notice? (New York Post)
  • Observations:

    Standing With Saddam - Editorial (Washington Post)

    • France and Germany have finally responded to Iraq's flagrant violation of UN disarmament orders by mounting an offensive - against the United States.
    • On Monday in Brussels, the two European governments, seconded by tiny Belgium, blocked the NATO alliance from making preparations to defend Turkey in the event of a war, even though the planning was supported by the alliance's 16 other members.
    • Meanwhile, they sought support from Russia for a proposal to increase UN inspectors, although Hans Blix, the chief of the inspection team, said Monday that, "The principal problem is not the number of inspectors but rather the active cooperation of the Iraqi side."
    • One result will be the enfeebling of both NATO and the UN - the very disaster that Germany and France once feared. Only six months ago it was Germany and France that appealed to the U.S. to take the case of Iraqi disarmament to the UN; a year ago they reproached Washington for not involving NATO more in the war against terrorism.
    • With France's support, the Security Council crafted Resolution 1441, which gave Iraq "a final opportunity" to peacefully disarm while making clear that anything short of "full cooperation" at "any time" would forfeit the chance. The Security Council risks a crippling forfeit of its credibility if it backs down now - yet that is exactly what France and Germany propose.
    • Saddam Hussein is trying to create the illusion of cooperation through incremental procedural concessions, such as the reported acceptance Monday of surveillance flights. But there remains no substance.
    • More and more, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder behave as if they share the same overriding goal as the Iraqi dictator: thwarting U.S. action even when it is supported by most other NATO and European nations. They have next to no chance of succeeding, but they could poison international relations for years to come.

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