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 8, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraqi Missile Launcher Hiding in Syria (Middle East Newsline)
    U.S. intelligence sources said a Scud-class transporter erector missile launcher was seen in western Iraq near the Syrian border last week.
    The sources said the launcher was driven by truck from Syria, operated its radar system overnight, and returned to Syria.

Syria Now Top U.S. Target for Regime Change - Toby Harnden (Telegraph-UK)
    Some U.S. officials are convinced that Assad has actively collaborated with Saddam and agreed to take weapons, including Scud missiles, from him so they would not be discovered in Iraq by UN inspectors.
    Satellite photographs revealed heavily guarded convoys moving from Iraq to Syria last year.
    "Significant equipment, assets and perhaps even expertise was transferred, the first signs of which appeared in August or September 2002," a Bush administration official said.
    "It is quite possible that Iraqi nuclear scientists went to Syria and that Saddam's regime may retain part of its army there."

For Some, Syria Looms as Next Goal - Walter Pincus (Washington Post)
    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told NBC's "Meet the Press on Sunday:
    "There's got to be a change in Syria," which has been accused by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld of allowing war materials and Islamic fighters to cross its border to help Saddam Hussein. "The Syrians need to know...they'll be held accountable," Wolfowitz said.

Saudi Diplomat in Berlin Linked to Al Qaeda - Stefan Theil and Michael Isikoff (Newsweek)
    Last month German police raided a suspected terrorist cell in Berlin, arresting a half-dozen men and seizing bomb-making equipment, flight-simulator software, and chemicals.
    German officials say Muhammad J. Fakihi, chief of the Islamic affairs branch at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin, met frequently with the suspected terrorist cellís leader, Ihsan Garnaoui, at Berlinís Al Nur mosque.
    Four days after the arrests, Fakihi left Germany but never showed up in Saudi Arabia.
    U.S. officials said Fakihi's business card had been found in the apartment of Mounir el-Motassadeq, who was convicted of being an accomplice of the "Hamburg cell" that committed the 9-11 attacks.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Air Force Targets Saddam
    Acting on a tip from the CIA, an Air Force B-1 bomber dropped four 2,000-pound bombs on a Baghdad neighborhood Monday in an attempt to kill Saddam Hussein and his sons, U.S. officials said. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Troops Find Possible Chemical Warheads Site
    Soldiers with the Army's 101st Airborne Division discovered what they believe to be an Iraqi storage site for chemical warheads, a U.S. commander says. Describing the discovery as a potential "smoking gun," the official says soldiers found about 20 medium-range rockets with warheads containing sarin and mustard gases in a warehouse outside Baghdad. (NPR)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Training Camp Discovered in Iraq
    U.S. Marines have discovered a large-scale terrorist training camp for the Palestinian Liberation Front, southwest of Baghdad, as well as documents indicating that Iraq sold weapons to the PLF for its fight against Israel as late as January. The hidden facility could accommodate at least 600 people at a time. "This proves the link between Iraq and terror groups," said Capt. Aaron Robertson, an intelligence officer. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Battles in Baghdad Pit U.S. against Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians - Caroline Glick
    According to reports, the defense of Baghdad is largely being carried out by some 5,000 Palestinian, Syrian, and Jordanian troops. Iraqis surrendering to U.S. forces have detonated explosive belts strapped to their bodies as the Americans approached them. A directive was issued to force all surrendering Iraqis to undress before approaching U.S. forces to prevent a recurrence of such incidents. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S.: Libyan Pursuit of Nukes Increases
    "At the very time the government of Libya has been seeking to put the terrorist destruction of Pan Am 103 behind it, it's nonetheless pursuing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and ballistic missile systems that would make it still a grave threat to its neighbors both in North Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea, and indeed worldwide possibly," said U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton in an interview with Radio Sawa. "We are hoping that the elimination of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would be important lessons to other countries in the region, particularly Syria, Libya, and Iran, that the cost of their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high." (UPI)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Arafat Stymies Abu Mazen - Arnon Regular
    In recent days, Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen has sent messages to Arafat and Arafat associates that he is considering giving up the effort to form a cabinet. Abu Mazen has discovered that two key security services, the General Intelligence force under Tawfiq Tirawi and the National Security force under Haj Ismail, will continue to operate under Arafat's direct command. In addition, Arafat is vetoing several potential cabinet ministers, particularly Mohammed Dahlan, the former head of Preventive Security in Gaza, whom Abu Mazen wants as interior minister, responsible for all the security services. Furthermore, Abu Mazen now realizes that, in the best case, Arafat means to conduct the political negotiations with Israel and use Abu Mazen as a fig leaf. Even if he decides to be prime minister, it now appears unlikely that Abu Mazen will be able to make any real changes. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Will Accept Road Map Only If PA Stops Terror - Gideon Alon
    Israel will not accept the Middle East road map for peace as long as the Palestinians do not make an effort to prevent terrorism and cease incitement against Israel, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Syrian-Iraqi Arms Deal that Angered America - Ze'ev Schiff
    The large arms deal Syria recently made on behalf of the regime in Baghdad involved the acquisition of 500 of Russia's newest laser-guided anti-tank missiles and their transfer to the Iraqis. Washington was also angered by the opening of the Syrian border to volunteers from the Arab states (primarily Syria) who wanted to join the fight against the coalition forces. (Ha'aretz)
  • Barghouti Asked Arafat for Terror Money
    Former Tanzim chief Marwan Barghouti asked Yasser Arafat for tens of thousands of shekels to finance the acquisition of weapons and their delivery to terrorists, according to testimony by the IDF Intelligence Branch's research division at Barghouti's trial on murder and terrorism charges Wednesday. Submitted documents included a request by Barghouti to pay legal fees for a man accused of taking part in the lynching of two Israeli reservists in the Ramallah police station. According to IDF testimony, many Fatah terrorists saw Barghouti as the top source of authority for their planned actions and as a conduit to PA Chairman Arafat. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • From Belfast to Bethlehem - Editorial
    Tony Blair shares a belief with former president Clinton that the Northern Ireland peace process is a template for resolving conflict in the Middle East. But what does this model entail when exported from Belfast to Bethlehem? First, the Ulster model means the expenditure of vast amounts of prime ministerial time in micro-managing provincial politicians. Mr. Blair also appears to believe that clear distinctions can be made between terrorism for no discernible, rational purpose (such as September 11), and terrorism that has clear political purpose (a united Ireland as demanded by the IRA, a Palestinian state as demanded by the PLO and Hamas). This week Mr. Blair will no doubt be urging his guest not to insist that Palestinians forswear coercion before full-scale negotiations resume. In Northern Ireland, Mr. Bush will be able to see for himself how terrorists can endlessly cash in the tools of violence for startling political gains. (Telegraph-UK)
  • State Department Giving Baghdad to House of Saud? - Joel Mowbray
    The State Department is planning to hold a "Baghdad Conference" six weeks after the conflict ends to determine an interim leadership and to establish a framework for its new government - something that many inside the administration fear could give the House of Saud undue influence in a post-Saddam Iraq. If it occurs, a Baghdad Conference would be the latest attempt by State to undermine the umbrella organization of democratic Iraqi opposition groups, the Iraqi National Congress. If held soon after the smoke clears, the only people willing to come forward from within Iraq right after the fall of Saddam's regime are people who were part of it - the Ba'athists. Weeding out Ba'athists will take longer than six weeks. (
  • For Wolfowitz, a Vision May Be Realized - Michael Dobbs
    Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz's long-held dream of ridding the world of a leader he regards as one of the cruelest of modern-day despots and a direct threat to the security of the United States seems on the point of being realized. But an even bigger challenge now awaits: creating a free, stable, and democratic Iraq that will serve as an inspiration to its neighbors. Wolfowitz's fervent belief in what he calls "the power of the democratic idea" - and its applicability to a part of the world better known for authoritarian regimes, many of them closely allied to Washington - has won him both admirers and detractors. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Three Myths Ripe for Deconstruction - Michael Gove (London Times)

    • Britain and America armed Saddam's tyranny.
      According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, between 1973 and 2002, Russia supplied 57% of Saddam's arms imports, France 13%, and China 12%. The U.S. supplied at most just 1% and Britain significantly less than that. Brazil supplied more weaponry to Saddam than the U.S. and Britain combined. No wonder France, Russia, and China declined to support action to disarm one of their best customers.
    • Targeting Baghdad is a "diversion" from the war on terrorism.
      The "secular" Iraqi regime played host to a variety of Islamist terrorists from across the Arab world, training them on its territory, supplying them with its weapons, and sending them abroad on missions to kill its enemies. During this war, Saddam's most determined defenders have not been the Iraqi Army but Islamist fanatics. Far from this campaign having been a distraction from the wider war on terror, it has been a hammer blow against a regime which sponsored, succored, and exported terrorism.
    • We must now show "evenhandedness" by enforcing UN resolutions against Israel, just as we have against Iraq.
      The attempt to imply some parity of guilt between Iraq and Israel is morally shameful and a willfully blind misreading of the relevant UN resolutions. Iraq was in breach of Chapter 7 resolutions, which provide for military action to deal with threats to international peace and security. The resolutions which concern Israel are based on Chapter 6 of the UN Charter and they are non-binding recommendations for settling disputes. To bracket Iraq and Israel in the way that Robin Cook did is to suggest that there is a moral equivalence between a murderer and someone who is having difficulty with marriage counseling. In arguing that, after Iraq, Israel must abide by UN resolutions, Jack Straw is placing terrorism's biggest victim, rather than its perpetrators, in the dock.

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