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 7, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Jordan's Prince Hassan Ready for Role in Iraq (AFP/Space Daily)
    Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal, uncle of King Abdullah, told the German daily Die Welt Saturday that he is ready to play a role in coordinating the political reconstruction of post-war Iraq.
    "The period of transition and national reconciliation will be important. And if I were to be called upon, I would be willing to help with such a task as coordinator."
    "After all, I am a native of the region and I can speak directly to all the sides concerned, better than most from outside the region," said the 56-year-old prince who was brother of the late King Hussein.

Human Rights Watch: Iraq Army Uses Execution to Keep Discipline (Reuters)
    Human Rights Watch said Iraqi soldiers who have deserted to Kurdish forces in the north told its representatives that the Iraqi military executed 10 deserters on March 26 and has organized execution squads to prevent others from leaving their posts.
    "Some days we were so hungry we would eat grass which we mixed with a little water," a 21-year-old deserter from the Iraqi Fifth Corps told the rights group.

New Iraqi Army Forming - Bradley Graham (Washington Post)
    The U.S. has begun airlifting hundreds of members of an Iraqi exile group into southern Iraq, vanguard elements of what a high-ranking Pentagon officer said would form the basis of a new Iraqi army.
    Taking up camp on the outskirts of Nasiriyah, the soldiers belong to the Iraqi National Congress and are led by Ahmed Chalabi, a London-based former banker and principal founder of the INC.

Saddam Hides Arms on School Buses - William Branigin (Washington Post)
    In clearing Baghdad International Airport, U.S. troops found four school buses packed with arms and explosives, according to Col. William Grimsley.

Palestinians Have Murdered 70 Suspected Informers - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinians say more than 70 Palestinian suspected informers from the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been killed by armed militias belonging to Fatah and Hamas since the beginning of the intifada.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Troops Attack Central Baghdad
    U.S. forces fought their way into Baghdad Monday, reaching the center of the city and attacking at least two presidential palaces and several Iraqi government buildings. U.S. forces also secured major roads leading from the Iraqi capital, provoking several intense engagements but no coordinated resistance. Baghdad's international airport has become a forward base housing about 7,000 soldiers and growing fast, with C-130 Hercules transport aircraft now landing there. British troops drove deep into Basra in southern Iraq. In northern Iraq, U.S. jets mistakenly bombed a convoy of Kurdish and U.S. troops, killing at least 18 Kurds and a U.S. Special Operations soldier. In Karbala, southwest of Baghdad, U.S. soldiers flushed out paramilitary fighters, killing between 60 and 100 militiamen. After the rest fled, hundreds of local residents tore down a 25-foot bronze statue of Hussein. A Marine unit operating on the east side of Baghdad Saturday ran into 16 T-72 tanks - Iraq's most advanced - and 29 armored vehicles - all of them empty. (Washington Post)
  • Arab Volunteers Join Iraqis to Defend Baghdad
    Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis, and Syrians are fighting alongside Iraqi troops against U.S. forces moving on Baghdad, using tactics including suicide bombings, U.S. officers said Sunday. "They kept bringing them in by the bus load," said one officer with the 1st Marine Division. "It's a whole conglomerate of Islamic freedom fighters." He said U.S. troops fought a 10-hour battle with hundreds of such fighters southeast of Baghdad on Friday. (AFP/Washington Times)
  • "Chemical Ali" Killed in Basra
    Ali Hassan al-Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali" for ordering a 1988 poison gas attack that killed thousands of Kurds, was found dead Monday by British troops in Basra, apparently killed on Saturday when coalition aircraft attacked his house. Saddam had entrusted al-Majid with the defense of southern Iraq. (AP/Washington Post)
  • American Support Grows for Military Actions
    According to a new Los Angeles Times poll, exactly half said the U.S should take military action against Iran if it continues to move toward nuclear-weapon development, while 36% disagreed. Some 42% said the U.S. should take action against Syria if it provides aid to Iraq, while 46% said no. More than three-fourths of Americans - including two-thirds of liberals and 70% of Democrats - now say they support the decision to go to war. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Blair's Peace Efforts Too Extreme, Says Israel
    Israel has dismissed Tony Blair as "irrelevant" to the Middle East peace process after he said that progress towards a Palestinian state was as important as toppling President Saddam Hussein. Dov Weissglass, Mr. Sharon's chief adviser, told Israel radio: "We regret that Great Britain is pushing itself out of involvement in the peace process as a result of extreme positions it has adopted. A country that adopts such unbalanced positions cannot expect to have its voice attended to seriously." Mr. Weissglass will travel to Washington this week to present a list of 15 reservations Israel has to the road map. (London Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon: No Discussions on Settlements until Final Status Talks - Herb Keinon
    There is absolutely no reason now to discuss the settlement issue, and it will come up during the final status negotiations with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the cabinet Sunday. Sharon's statement comes amid signals that there will be heavy pressure placed on Jerusalem during the early stages of the road map to freeze settlement construction. The road map calls for Israel to "immediately" dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001 and calls for Israel to freeze all settlement activity, including construction for natural growth, following a comprehensive cease fire.
        Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel supports the road map as long as it faithfully represents President Bush's June 24 Middle East vision speech. Shalom said Israel rejects the Palestinian interpretation of the road map that maintains that the Israeli and Palestinian steps must be taken in parallel. "Fighting Palestinian terrorism is a condition for progress," Shalom said. Israel will not agree to a situation where Palestinian terror will accompany negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Replaces Israel as Number One Enemy of Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian hatred for America is at an all-time high, in spite of the ongoing extension of U.S. aid to the PA, and American support for Palestinian statehood. The two Palestinian youths arrested on Tuesday while throwing stones at the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem were expressing the hatred of America instilled in many Palestinian children by their mother's milk. Day after day, through the panoply of satellite TV channels, Muslim and Christian preachers, and acid-tongued commentators, Palestinians are being exposed to an unprecedented tidal wave of anti-American hatred. "The U.S. has replaced Israel as the number-one enemy of the Palestinians and [the] Arab world," a veteran Palestinian journalist remarked. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: American Activist May Have Been Hit by Palestinian Gunfire - Joel Leyden
    American International Solidarity Movement activist Brian Avery was wounded in Jenin last Saturday. According to an IDF investigation into the shooting, "It cannot be determined with certainty that the ISM activist was hit by Israeli gunfire." Jenin had been placed under curfew last Friday as the result of IDF intelligence pointing to planned suicide bomber activity against Jewish communities. During this time, Palestinians directed gunfire and threw firebombs (Molotov cocktails) at IDF forces, with an IDF officer lightly wounded by a firebomb. At one point, the IDF fired four warning shots at four people who all appeared to be holding firebombs. "At the same time there was gunfire coming from Palestinian terrorists in the immediate vicinity," said an IDF spokesperson. ISM activists have a proven history of providing shelter to Palestinian terrorists and have been involved in inciting the local population to take part in violent demonstrations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint - Stanley Kurtz
    Debate over the governance of postwar Iraq pits democratizers against realists. Realists are skeptical about the prospects for cultural change in the Arab world, warning that democracy will create ethnic strife and elected despotisms. Partisans of democratization, on the other hand, are willing to take risks to achieve the sort of deep-seated cultural change that might finally put an end to regimes that harbor, sponsor, or generate terrorists. In this view, it takes democracy to make democracy. (Policy Review/Hoover Institution)
  • The Influence of Palestinian Organizations on Foreign News Reporting - Dan Diker
    "Television loves emotions and cares less about facts. The Palestinians don't care about losing people, and the Israelis can't fight that," said one senior international news organization representative. "Arafat and his multi-layered security apparatus have muzzled local press critics via arbitrary arrests, threats, physical abuse, and the closure of media outlets," frightening most Palestinian journalists into self-censorship, according to the Independent Committee for Protection of Journalists. Foreign news agencies have become dependent on Palestinian cameramen, frequently residents of the West Bank, since Israeli cameramen are prohibited by the IDF from working in the Palestinian areas. The result is TV news pictures that focus daily on Palestinian victims. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Reining in Riyadh - Dore Gold (New York Post)

    • Even after the removal of Saddam Hussein, America will still be engaged in a war on international terrorism in order to make sure that an attack on the U.S. on the scale of 9/11 or worse never again occurs.
    • Middle Easterners have stressed the need to deal with the ideological or motivational sources of the new wave of global attacks. Islamic scholars have traced the underpinnings of 9/11 to a very specific creed of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, known in the West as Wahhabism, that dropped the relative tolerance that Islamic civilization showed, in certain periods, toward its non-Muslim minorities. Delegitimizing other religious groups - often based on the imprecations of mainstream Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia - is precisely how Osama bin Laden's mass terrorism works.
    • It is not necessary to talk about regime change in Saudi Arabia, but it is legitimate to insist that Saudi Arabia stop using its large Wahhabi charities to fund terrorist groups, once and for all.
    • It is also legitimate to expect that Saudi Arabia stop the systematic incitement of its population against the West and non-Wahhabi religious groups. Of course, Saudi Arabia is free to teach what it wants to its children, but there are consequences that result from the systematic delegitimization of other peoples by Saudi Arabia's national educational institutions. It was no coincidence that Osama bin Laden recruited 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia. In the 1990s, Saudis were the largest national component brought into the al Qaeda network because they were predisposed to its message.
    • Saudi Arabia should not continue to be a breeding ground for these groups. If terrorism is to be put to an end, altering the behavior of Saudi Arabia must become a top postwar priority.

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