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 25, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

The Other Front - Ahmed Rashid (Wall Street Journal)
    As Pakistani leader Gen. Musharraf and his Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) continue to give the U.S.-led antiterrorism alliance the closest support in catching elements of al Qaeda in Pakistan, there is far less cooperation in apprehending the Taliban, whom Afghan and U.S. military officials say are regrouping for a possible spring offensive against their forces in Afghanistan.
    Afghan President Karzai and his government are convinced that the ISI is aiding and abetting Taliban, even as the ISI clamps down on al Qaeda.

Missiles Found in Basra Chemical Plant (Scotsman-UK)
    Experts are examining suspected Scud missiles discovered by British soldiers searching a chemical plant outside Basra.
    A number of the grey-painted rockets, about 23ft long, were found in the Dirhamiyah petro-chemical plant, raising suspicions that Saddam Hussein was planning to arm the missiles with chemical warheads.
    British officers say it is difficult to find an innocent explanation for storing missiles in a chemical plant.

Iraqi Missiles Found in Western Desert (ABC News)
    The U.S. military detected and destroyed at least two Iraqi surface-to-surface missile facilities in the western Iraqi desert Monday.
    Pentagon sources were unable to confirm if the missile structures, which were struck from the air, were in fact Scuds or some other type of surface-to-surface missile.

Arab Volunteers Rally to Defend Iraq (Financial Times-UK)
    Jordanian officials confirmed that an unexpectedly large number of Iraqis were returning home, possibly to fight alongside the regime of Saddam Hussein, although the numbers of such volunteers is unclear.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • The Battle for Baghdad Begins
    The American vanguard was within 20 miles of 30,000 Republican Guards defending a city blanketed in black smoke from pyres of burning oil. Iraqi troops were pummeled continuously by bombers working on information from SAS, SBS, and Delta forces close to Iraqi positions. The "softening up" of the Republican Guard is expected to continue for days, but air operations could be disrupted by violent sandstorms in the area. (London Times)
  • U.S.: Iraq Set to Use Chemical Weapons
    U.S officials say the Iraqis have drawn a red line on the map around Baghdad, and once American troops cross it, the Republican Guards are authorized to use chemical weapons. The Iraqi Republican Guard controls the bulk of Iraq's chemical weaponry, most of which can be fired from artillery guns or short-range rocket launchers. (CBS News)
  • Search of Chemical Facility Yields No Sign of Weapons
    Department of Defense officials said on Monday that no evidence of chemical weapons production had been found at the 100-acre facility near Najaf occupied by U.S. forces on Sunday. An official said the site had probably been abandoned some time ago. Intelligence officers and military officials believe that Iraq has successfully hidden a substantial amount of its WMD arsenal and research, much of it buried and sealed. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Who are "Saddam's Fedayeen"?
    On Sunday, U.S. Marines were approached by an Iraqi vehicle waving a white flag near Nasiriya. The Iraqi vehicle was packed with members of "Saddam's Fedayeen," a notoriously violent paramilitary group. The Iraqi fighters, dressed in civilian clothing, opened fire with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, wounding about 50 Marines. (ABC News)
        One surprise has been the 60,000-strong militia known as Saddam's Fedayeen, founded in the wake of the first Persian Gulf War by Saddam's son Uday, which has served as a stay-behind force in many southern Shiite cities, harassing U.S. and British troops, and spreading terror among the local populace. (Washington Post)
  • Muslim U.S. Soldier Attacks Own Troops
    An American soldier, Asan Akbar, 31, launched a grenade and gun attack on his own unit in Kuwait Sunday, killing one officer and wounding 15. Akbar is a Muslim convert who screamed anti-American statements as he was arrested. (London Times)
  • French Jews Tell of a New and Threatening Wave of Anti-Semitism
    Swastikas, slogans, and physical assaults against Jews in Europe have reached a frequency not seen since the 1930s. In the vast majority of cases, the assailants are young Muslims of North African heritage. The greatest number and most violent attacks have come in France, which, with an estimated six million Muslims and 650,000 Jews in the country, has Europe's largest Jewish and largest Muslim populations. (New York Times)
        See also French Jews Attacked at Anti-War Rally
    Several dozen assailants struck two young Jews with metal bars on the sidelines of a demonstration against the war in Iraq Saturday, the Hashomer Hatzair youth organization in Paris reported. (AP/Ha'aretz)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Defense Minister: Iraqi Missile Threat Still Exists - Gideon Alon
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday, "It is still possible for Iraq to deliver missiles to western Iraq, so as of right now, the threat to Israel has not been removed....The alert is not a matter for a day or two, and could go on for a while longer." The head of research for Military Intelligence, Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, said the Iraqis still had 14 launchers that had never been accounted for. A senior defense source said the instructions to the public would change only when the possibility of a missile launch against Israel had been reduced to "less than zero." (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Rejoice at Saddam's "Victories" - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinians in Ramallah celebrated the capture of American and British soldiers by the Iraqi army on Monday. "This is a big day for the Iraqi people and all the Arabs and Muslims," says a mustachioed Palestinian policeman at Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the city. "They have just shot down two Apache helicopters," an excited merchant shouted hysterically as he ran out of his shop. Manarah Square in the center of Ramallah, the scene of daily pro-Saddam demonstrations, is decorated with Iraqi flags and posters of Saddam Hussein. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Saddam's Support Wide in West Bank (Boston Globe)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hussein Scores in Propaganda War - Michael Dobbs
    Saddam Hussein is following a well-thought-out strategy for extracting a political and propaganda victory from almost certain military defeat, according to U.S. and Iraqi analysts. After five days of warfare, Saddam's government has not collapsed and no major Iraqi cities have fallen. "Every day he succeeds in juxtaposing images of American cruise missiles blowing up Baghdad with pictures of Iraqi farmers shooting down Apache helicopters, he wins the battle for the hearts and minds of 250 million Arabs," said Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. charge d'affaires in Baghdad. Saddam "believes that our tolerance for casualties is so low that he does not need to inflict that many" in order to force a U.S. retreat, said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA expert on Iraq now with the Brookings Institution. Pollack argues that the American media have been playing into Hussein's hands by paying too much attention to the issue of U.S. casualties, which are still relatively minor, compared with other major conflicts. (Washington Post)
  • Just Following (Saddam Hussein's) Orders - Ibrahim al-Marashi
    Iraqi documents from the first Gulf War showed the extent to which Saddam Hussein hoped to have his soldiers and even civilians exploit prisoners of war, particularly downed pilots. "The president leader has ordered that the following financial rewards be distributed: 30,000 dinars for taking down an enemy aircraft; 10,000 dinars for a live enemy pilot; and 5,000 dinars for a dead enemy pilot." (New York Times)
  • Power to the New Prime Minister - Dennis Ross
    For the first time in its history, the Palestinian Authority has a prime minister - Mahmoud Abbas, better known as Abu Mazin. We don't yet know if Abbas will have real powers and, if he does, whether he can translate those powers into a genuine capability to transform the situation. Neither side expects to engage in any real negotiation with the U.S. over the road map at this stage because both know we are preoccupied with Iraq. That very preoccupation gives them a reason to do what they can in developing understandings to transform the situation on the ground - stopping the violence and easing controls - over the next several weeks. Yet with real understandings between the two sides, there is probably no need for the road map. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Democracy: Be Careful What You Wish For - Youssef M. Ibrahim
    (Washington Post)

    • Everywhere you look in the Middle East and the Muslim world, including places such as Pakistan and Indonesia, fundamentalism is rising, thanks to the social services, medical care, and religious education that Islamic groups provide as an alternative to the failed services of failed states.
    • Yet Islamic fundamentalism appeals not only to the poor. Most leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are graduates of engineering and medical schools, people one might consider less inclined to blindly embrace religion.
    • The rising power of radical Islam is driven by two forces. One is anger that the bankrupt states of the Muslim and Arab world have offered nothing better than the sort of repression Assad's father, Hafez Assad, delivered for years. The other is deep mistrust of U.S. intentions and policies toward Palestinians, Iraqis, and Muslims in general - before and, more so, after Sept. 11.

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