Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 19, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Al Qaeda List Points to Saudi Elite (Wall Street Journal)
    A cache of documents seized last year by the U.S. in Bosnia identifies some of Saudi Arabia's richest and most influential families as among the first financial supporters of Osama bin Laden, and shows how al Qaeda used charitable arms of the Saudi government.
    In addition to the donor list, the Bosnian documents show how the bin Laden organization used Saudi government charities to move money and supplies and to provide logistical support.
    An undated memorandum on the stationery of Saudi welfare agencies - Muslim World League and International Islamic Relief Organization - details a meeting of bin Laden associates discussing using the League's offices in Pakistan, and saying that "attacks will be launched from them."

Goodbye Baghdad
(CBS News)
    CBS News Radio reporter Charles D'Agata was stationed in Baghdad for the past six months and filed this report as he left Iraq:
    20 miles outside of central Baghdad you become aware of the "hornet's nest" that surrounds the city - the fabled "ring around Baghdad."
    Field artillery as far as the eye can see. Anti-aircraft, surface to air missiles. Tank battalions dotted in a straight line. Foxholes and bunkers teeming with Iraqi troops.
    I saw a trench, stretching for miles, deep and wide - whether it was filled with oil to be ignited, which U.S. intelligence suggests - I could not see.
    Quietly, most, if not all, Iraqis would like to get rid of Saddam Hussein. But they all fear and object to American rule, however brief, and a great many fear the chaos that may follow Saddam's collapse.

See Men Shredded, Then Say You Don't Back War - MP Ann Clwyd (Labour) (London Times)
    "There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch....I saw 30 people die like this....On one occasion, I saw Qusay [Saddam Hussein's youngest son] personally supervise these murders."
    This is one of the many witness statements that were taken by researchers from Indict - the organization I chair - to provide evidence for legal cases against specific Iraqi individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Useful Reference:

UN Commission on Human Rights

To follow developments at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, see:

  • Israel Geneva Mission to UN
  • U.S. Dept. of State

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    Back Issues

  • News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Blix: Saddam May Have Scuds, Launchers
    Questioned about Iraq's missile capability and whether it could threaten Israel or Kuwait, chief UN inspector Hans Blix said at least two Scuds were unaccounted for. "We do not exclude the possibility that they have Scud missiles as well as launchers," he said. (Reuters)
  • As Baghdad Empties, Hussein is Defiant
    As the streets of the Iraqi capital emptied in expectation of war, Saddam Hussein rejected the ultimatum given by Mr. Bush on Monday night. Many Iraqis seemed ready to endure American attacks if the outcome is a new Iraq that brings freedom from the long history of repression here. (New York Times)
  • 71% of Americans Support War, Poll Shows
    American public support for going to war with Iraq surged to 71% after President Bush's Monday speech, up from 59% a week ago, according to a poll conducted Monday night by the Washington Post and ABC News. (Washington Post)
  • House of Commons Backs Blair on Iraq
    Britain's House of Commons backed Prime Minister Tony Blair's Iraq policy on Tuesday. Lawmakers voted 412 to 149 to use "all means necessary" for disarming Iraq. Before that, they voted 396 to 217 to defeat an amendment by Labour rebels that declared the case for war "has not yet been established." Blair has the support of the opposition Conservative Party as well as many Labour lawmakers. There also have been signs of growing nationalism in Britain in support of the British troops massed in the Persian Gulf. (AP/FOX News)
  • U.S. Names "Coalition of the Willing"
    The U.S. has named 30 countries which are prepared to be publicly associated with the U.S. action against Iraq. The State Department says that there are an additional 15 countries which are providing assistance, such as overflight rights. The main U.S. ally in the Middle East, Israel, is not mentioned, although it is expected to provide at least air rights for U.S. aircraft to strike Iraq. (BBC)
  • Israel Mobilizes Thousands of Reservists
    Israel is "100 percent" prepared for the possibility of an Iraqi attack, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday: "The danger that Israel will get hit is very small....If the probability of an attack on us is 1 percent, our preparations address 100 percent of the dangers." Meanwhile, the IDF completed a call-up of 11,000 reservists. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Jewish Groups Brace for War
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is coordinating an emergency alert system for its member organizations. Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, said war could elicit attacks by Islamic fundamentalist groups such as Hamas or Hizballah as well. (JTA)
        See also Jewish Organizations Worried About Backlash for Iraq War
    American Jewish organizations, deeply divided over the wisdom of invading Iraq, are increasingly worried about an anti-Semitic backlash blaming Jewish officials in the Bush administration for any U.S. casualties. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Abu Mazen to Form New PA Government - Arnon Regular
    The Palestinian Legislative Council Tuesday voted to establish the position of prime minister of the Palestinian Authority - stripping Yasser Arafat of the authority over who serves in that government. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday, "We would have preferred to see even greater authority vested in a prime minister, but it is nevertheless a positive step....We have been disappointed in President Arafat's leadership and [have] said so clearly....The greatest disappointment has been in the area of security, ending the violence, and so there is a disappointment that that portfolio seems to remain wholly in the hands of Chairman Arafat." (Ha'aretz)
        See also Failing to Dilute Premier Post, Arafat Accepts Its Creation
    Yasser Arafat signed legislation Tuesday to create a post of prime minister, after the Palestinian parliament and members of his Fatah movement forced him to withdraw a demand that he retain authority to approve appointments by the prime minister. Arafat has nominated his longtime ally Mahmoud Abbas for the post, although Mr. Abbas has not said whether he will take the job. (New York Times)
  • Israeli President Holds Secret Talks with Palestinian Minister
    President Moshe Katsav held a secret meeting last week with Palestinian Interior Minister Hani el-Hassan about a prospective ceasefire agreement, media reports said. The agreement they discussed called for Palestinians halting terror attacks in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal in the territories. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Silencing Saddam will Signal His End - Mohammed Nafee, former Iraqi general
    As soon as Saddam falls silent on the radio and television, when the Iraqi people feel that he no longer exercises the same power over them, he is finished. One of the most effective things the U.S. can do is to stop him broadcasting to his people. I am convinced that Saddam will be killed by an Iraqi long before the first American soldier sets foot in Baghdad. I was a general in the Iraqi army in Basra at the time of the invasion of Kuwait and I know that the soldiers, like the rest of the country, have no time for Saddam. They will surrender in vast numbers rather than fight the invading forces.
        There are forces which will be loyal to Saddam up to a point and prepared to do his bidding in the early stages of the conflict, but even they will not be willing to die for him. There is no emotional bond and they will become deserters. Most of the army will leave their posts in the next two days and go back to their homes. It is likely that Saddam will use chemical weapons to attack his own people and then try to blame the Americans. He also knows that there will be an uprising in the south of Iraq against him. (
  • Fear Not the Shias - Stephen Schwartz
    The annual Shia religious procession on March 9 brought 10,000 Shia Muslims from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut into the streets of midtown Manhattan behind a banner denouncing Saudi-backed Wahhabism, the extremist dispensation that has encouraged the mass murder of Shia Muslims for two and a half centuries, and which underpins the hellish discrimination Shias suffer today in the Saudi kingdom. Shias are the majority in the oil-bearing Eastern Province and the southern border region of Saudi Arabia. The banner named the cruelest enemies of innocent Muslims: Saddam, Mullah Omar, and bin Laden. (Weekly Standard)
        See also War Could Unleash Revolt of Iraq's Long-Repressed Shiites- Nicolas Pelham
    In Baghdad's Al Thoura shantytown, an organizer for the local Baath Party points at a picture of Saddam Hussein in his front room - then opens a side door to reveal a prayer room plastered with Iranian posters depicting the revenge Shiites dream of inflicting on Sunnis. (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also The Shi'is and the Future of Iraq - Yitzhak Nakash
    If war in Iraq leads to a more representative government that is willing to address Shi'i political aspirations, the likely result would be stability and the establishment of a more moderate religious leadership quite different from that seen in Iran. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Talking Points:

    Hizballah's Threat to Regional Security - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Hizballah is an international terrorist organization that has been killing Americans and other Westerners for decades. Indeed, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said if al-Qaeda is the B-team of terrorism, Hizballah is the A-team.
    • Hizballah has a very large capability to do harm throughout northern Israel, with hundreds of Grad missiles, dozens of short-range missiles like the "Fajar 3" and "Fajar 5," and longer-range rockets of Iranian make that can reach 40-70 km.
    • Israel asked the Turkish government to prohibit the Iranians from using Turkish airspace to fly supplies to Hizballah via Damascus. The Turks agreed, had a couple of Iranian planes land for inspection, and the traditional supply route to Hizballah was closed. It is imperative to get Syrian policy to change.
    • Lebanese prime minister Harari believes Lebanon cannot be both "Hong Kong" (today, Lebanon carries on its shoulders the ability of Syria to survive economically) and "Hanoi" (an adventurous revolutionary state).
    • Hizballah, and the Iranians who back them, are currently more focused on supporting terrorist organizations in the Palestinian arena, primarily Islamic Jihad, which is directly responsive to Iranian directives. The spin that Hizballah and many others in the Arab world put on Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 has had a direct impact on the minds of the Palestinian leadership, who decided to return to the armed struggle.

      The author heads the American Jewish Committee's Israel/Middle East office.

          See also Hizballah Deploys Katyusha Missiles along Northern Border
      Hizballah has deployed its Katyusha rockets along the Israeli-Lebanese border, a Lebanese paper reported Wednesday. According to the Beirut-based A-Sapir, Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nassrallah has set his guerrilla forces on full alert. (Jerusalem Post)

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