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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April 2, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Raid Finds al Qaeda Tie to Iraq Militants (AP/ABC News)
    A U.S.-led assault on a compound controlled by the Ansar al-Islam extremist Islamic group in northeastern Iraq has turned up a list of names of suspected militants living in the U.S. and what may be the strongest evidence yet linking the group to al Qaeda.
    Among a trove of evidence found were passports and identity papers of Ansar activists indicating that up to 150 of them were foreigners, including Yemenis, Turks, Palestinians, Pakistanis, Algerians, and Iranians.
    Coalition forces also found a phone book containing numbers of alleged Islamic activists based in the U.S. and Europe.

Israel Weighs Reopening of Iraqi Oil Pipeline (Rosbalt News-Russia)
    Israel is considering the possibility of reopening the Mosul-Haifa oil pipeline after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. This pipeline was scrapped in 1948.
    The Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures is seeking to assess the condition of the pipeline.
    The resumption of oil transportation directly from Iraq would allow Israel to reduce the expense of purchasing Russian oil.

Iraqis Using Five-Year-Olds as Human Shields - Jeanette Oldham (Scotsman-UK)
    Pro-Saddam militia in Basra are using children as young as five as human shields and threatening men with death if they do not fight for them, British troops revealed Tuesday.
    Sergeant David Baird, a tank commander, told the Sunday Telegraph that he had seen at least four or five children, aged between five and eight, being grabbed by the scruff of the neck and held by Iraqi fighters as they crossed a road in front of his tank.
    He said he was "sickened" by the tactic adopted by the Iraqis who moments earlier had been firing rocket-propelled grenades at him.
    Young Iraqi civilians fleeing the city told British forces how the ruling Baath Party militia has rounded up an entire generation of male residents and ordered them to fight. Anyone refusing is shot.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Forces Resume Baghdad Advance
    U.S. Marines and Army troops launched a two-pronged assault on the Republican Guard divisions defending the approaches to Baghdad. U.S. military officials said the pounding from the air has left two of the divisions guarding Baghdad at below 50% of their normal fighting ability. According to a military report, U.S. forces had destroyed none of the 30 to 40 long-range Al Hussein missiles that U.S. intelligence believes Iraq has, and had struck only 5 to 8 of Iraq's presumed 126 Al Samoud medium-range missiles. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Commandos Rescue Pfc. Jessica Lynch
    American Special Operations forces Wednesday rescued Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W. Va., from the Saddam Hospital in Nasiriya, Iraq, where she had been held captive since March 23 after being wounded. (New York Times)
  • At Last, American Soldiers Discover a Friendly Welcome
    Hundreds, possibly thousands, of waving Iraqis in central Iraq lined the streets when the American advance northwards to Baghdad was resumed. Capt. David Waldron, 31, commander of the Black Knights tank company, said: "When we drove into this town and I saw the crowds I told everyone to keep their head down. But they were so obviously friendly that I ended up waving back, too....We've been hearing this from a number of areas now." (Telegraph-UK)
  • Baath Maintains Hold on Southern Iraq Cities
    Travelers from the cities of southern Iraq insisted that the ruling Baath Party remains in unyielding control with thousands of cadres deployed with green uniforms and Kalashnikovs block by block, intersection by intersection, to prevent the fall of cities such as Basra, Nasiriyah, Hilla, and Karbala. Iraqi television no longer broadcasts outside the capital, but some still receive a signal transmitted by satellite. (Washington Post)
        See also Basra Residents Say Hussein Loyalists in Full Control
    People in Basra should have enough food to last about one more month, since the Iraqi government had been distributing extra food rations since summer in anticipation of a war. (Washington Post)
  • Stray Missiles Force Naval Redeployment
    U.S. Navy warships are moving from the eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf after several cruise missiles they fired went astray. Seven Tomahawk missiles launched from U.S. ships toward Iraq have gone off course, landing on Turkish or Saudi Arabian soil. The missiles did not explode and no injuries resulted. Turkey revoked the use of its airspace for cruise missiles Friday and Saudi Arabia followed suit Saturday, but their decisions did not affect manned combat flights, officials said. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Jordan Arrests Iraqis in Plot to Poison Water
    Jordan has arrested six Iraqis suspected of plotting to poison a water tank in the desert near the Iraqi border that serves U.S. troops, officials in Amman said Tuesday. Jordanian police also were investigating a plot by four Iraqis accused of planning to blow up an apartment complex at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Amman. They are also investigating a plot to contaminate the water for several hundred U.S. troops at a base in Khao, 17 miles northeast of Amman. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF-Palestinian Security Meetings Renewed - Amir Rapaport
    After a pause of more than a year, security meetings have been held between senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz expressed optimism Tuesday that negotiations with the Palestinians, headed by Abu Mazen, could begin this year. The meetings were resumed against the background of Abu Mazen's efforts to reach an understanding with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza for a ceasefire - at least temporarily. However, Israeli security sources expressed doubt that these efforts would achieve a ceasefire. (Maariv)
  • UNRWA Used by Terrorists - Margot Dudkevitch
    Terrorist organizations in Palestinian-controlled areas, as well as in Syria and Lebanon, take advantage of UNRWA workers and their vehicles to transport arms and terrorists, according to a document drawn up by defense establishment officials. Palestinian terrorists in Israeli custody admitted using UNRWA facilities, equipment, and vehicles to assist in carrying out terror attacks without being subjected to security checks. UNRWA employee Nahed Rashid Ahmed Attalah, 38, a director of food supplies for Gaza Strip refugees, admitted to investigators that he used his UN vehicle to transport terrorists and arms. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Develops Anti-Missile System for Civilian Planes - Amnon Barzilai
    Israel has developed an airborne system designed to divert missiles fired at civilian passenger airplanes, in the wake of the attempt last November to bring down an Israeli passenger jet taking off from Mombasa, Kenya. Until now, such systems have been developed only to provide protection for fighter aircraft. The new system is already in use in two executive 707 Boeings owned by two heads of state in Asia and Africa. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The First Arab-American War - Thomas L. Friedman
    According to Cairo University professor Mohamed Kamel, this is the first "Arab-American war." This is not about Arabs and Israelis. This is about America getting inside the Arab world - not just with its power or culture, but with its ideals. It is a war for what America stands for. "If it backfires," Mr. Kamel concluded, "if you don't deliver, it will really have a big impact. People will not just say your policies are bad, but that your ideas are a fake, you don't really believe them or you don't know how to implement them." (New York Times)
  • Iraqi War Tactics a Boost to Radical Palestinians - Michele Gershberg
    Palestinian militants say stronger-than-expected Iraqi resistance to a 13-day-old U.S. invasion has motivated them to intensify suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel. Hamas, the Palestinian militant organization which refuses to acknowledge Israel's existence and sends its suicide bombers to Israeli cities, said the tenacity of Iraqi forces fighting the world's only superpower was an inspiration. (Reuters)
  • The Palestinian Boycott of Jerusalem's Municipal Political Process - Justus Reid Weiner
    The lower standard of municipal services in the Arab neighborhoods is a consequence of, not the cause for, the boycott of the municipal political process dictated by the Palestinian leadership. Arab politicians could have made their mark in municipal politics just as ultra-Orthodox Jews have in Jerusalem, and as disadvantaged minority groups have done in democracies elsewhere. The Arab residents of Jerusalem ought to question whether this decades-long boycott, imposed by the Palestinian leadership, has in fact served their interests. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Russian Intelligence Assesses the War - Martin Sieff (UPI)

    Daily assessments of the war from Russian journalists and military analysts are posted on the Internet at the web site. The reports are described as based on "Russian military intelligence reports" and contain alleged Russian intelligence intercepts of radio communications between U.S. and other coalition forces in Iraq.

    • The reports give high marks to the tactical performance of the U.S. forces and their remarkable ability to adapt to radically different tactical problems from those they had expected.
    • Despite the unanticipated levels of resistance, "Combat spirit remained high. The majority of troops remained confident in their abilities, while maintaining belief in the superiority of their weapons and maintaining reasonable confidence in the way the war was being fought."
    • "Despite the sand storms, the terrain favors the coalition actions by allowing it to employ their entire arsenal of weapons at the greatest possible range, which makes it difficult for the Iraqis to conduct combat operations outside of populated areas."
    • "The main strength of the coalition forces was the wide availability of modern reconnaissance and communications systems that allowed detection of the enemy at long ranges and to quickly suppress the enemy with well-coordinated actions of different types with different forces."
    • "Among the strengths of the Iraqi troops are their excellent knowledge of the terrain, high quality of defensive engineering work, their ability to conceal their main attack forces, and their resilience and determination in defense."
    • "Among the drawbacks of the Iraqi forces is the bureaucratic inflexibility of their command, when all decisions are made only at the highest levels. Their top commanders also tend to stick to standard 'template' maneuvers and there is insufficient coordination among the different types of forces."

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