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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September 29, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iranian Agents Flood into Iraq - Philip Sherwell and Jessica Berry (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran has dispatched hundreds of agents posing as pilgrims and traders to Iraq to foment unrest in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala, and the lawless frontier areas.
    Teheran's hardline regime has also allowed extremist fighters from Ansar al-Islam, a terror faction with close links to al-Qaeda, to cross back into Iraq from its territory to join the anti-American resistance.
    "The last thing that certain elements in the [Iranian] regime want is to see a stable, democratic, and pluralistic Iraq next door, so they are trying to export trouble here," said a leading Iraqi official.

Bodyguard Claims Saddam Visited Baghdad - Mark Franchetti (London Sunday Times)
    One of Saddam Hussein's former bodyguards has claimed that the ousted Iraqi leader has returned several times to Baghdad since the city fell in April.
    Abdulrakhman Khalaf, who spent 12 years guarding the former president, said Saddam was moving between safe houses several times a day, guarded by an elite force of 25 who work in shifts.
    "I have heard from people close to Saddam how several times he moved out of a safe house only three or four hours before the Americans raided it," said Khalaf.
    "Ten times they were very close after acting on tip-offs supplied by spies and informants who dream of cashing in the $25m reward."

Musharraf Says Bin Laden Moving Freely (Toronto Globe & Mail)
    Osama bin Laden is alive, has been moving freely between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and appears to have enjoyed a groundswell of anti-American passions in the region, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said Thursday on his first official visit to Canada.
    Musharraf said most Afghans and Pakistanis in the border regions have probably never heard of the massive bounties offered by the U.S.
    More important, he said, the notoriously insular ethnic groups in the region have turned vehemently anti-American since the Iraq war, believing that Islam is being targeted by Western governments.

16 Foreign Workers in Saudi Arabia Arrested for Practicing Sufism (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    The Saudi kingdom's religious police - officials of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - arrested 16 foreign workers in Sakaka, the capital of the northern Al-Jouf region, for allegedly practicing sufism, Al-Madinah reported Sunday.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Peace Depends on Palestinians, Powell Says
    Progress in Middle East peacemaking depends on a Palestinian crackdown on terror, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday as he met with U.S. partners to assess their "road map" peace plan. "We are now waiting to see whether or not the Palestinian people are able to put in place, through their own system, a prime minister who will enjoy political authority and control over all the security forces so that we can start moving again down the path laid out," Powell said. (AP/Fort Worth Star Telegram)
  • Cutting Money Flow to Terrorists Proves Difficult
    A U.S.-led campaign to eradicate terror networks by choking off their sources of money is running into roadblocks in many countries that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to prevent the groups from financing attacks. Many Middle Eastern and European countries, including Germany and France, have disagreed with the Bush administration over such basic questions as the definition of terrorism and what constitutes the financing of terrorism.
        Despite the massive crackdown, cells are still believed to be operating in the U.S. and as many as 100 other countries, sending messages and money back and forth, recent intelligence shows. U.S. officials have designated 321 individuals and entities as terrorists or terrorist supporters, and more than $136.8 million has been frozen around the world. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Released Palestinian Prisoner Murders Two Israelis, including Baby Girl
    A Palestinian gunman murdered Eyal Yeberbaum, 27, and 7-month-old Shaked Avraham, Friday night when he shot into the caravan (trailer) of a Jewish family and guests sitting down to Rosh Hashana dinner in Negohot, west of Hebron. Two others were seriously wounded in the shooting attack. The terrorist, Mahmoud Hamedan, 22, had been released from an Israeli prison two months ago. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Palestinian Terrorists Manipulating Children - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Two Palestinian youths captured Friday as they tried to slip through the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip said an adult had offered them money if they would bring back bags placed near the fence containing cellular telephones and weapons, in yet another cynical use of children by Palestinian terror organizations for hostile activities. Two weeks ago, two Palestinian children aged 8 and 10 caught near the security fence said a man had dispatched them to the fence to test the reaction of the IDF. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sharon: Promise to Bush Not to Harm Arafat "Cancelled"
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Yediot Ahronot Friday that the Israeli cabinet decision to remove Arafat essentially cancelled the promise he gave President Bush not to harm Arafat. "Today the Americans also know that as long as that man is in the area, there is no chance of reaching an agreement. The government decision canceled out the commitment I gave." Sharon said it is "very difficult to guarantee that if you grab and take him, he will not be harmed. In any event we will have to take American considerations into account. It is possible that their estimation that this will cause them problems in the Middle East is correct." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Arafat, Fatah Approve Qurei's Cabinet - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA and Fatah officials said the new cabinet strengthens Arafat's grip both on the security forces and in negotiations with Israel. Three former cabinet ministers closely associated with former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas are not included in the new cabinet: Security Minister Muhammad Dahlan, Information Minister Nabil Amr, and Culture Minister Ziad Abu Amr. "This is a 100% Arafat cabinet," a Fatah official said. "The only change is that those who dared to challenge Arafat have been ousted." Maj.-Gen. Nasser Yousef, a longtime ally of Arafat, was named Interior Minister, a post that nominally places him in charge of all security forces. However, Arafat has already secured his control over the security forces by establishing and heading the National Security Council, which is to oversee the work of the security forces. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Arafat Tightens Grip on Power after Three Years of Bloodshed (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S., UK Angry over PA Supervision of Terror Operatives - Amos Harel
    Officials from the U.S. and Britain have clashed during the past week with PA representatives over supervision of terror operatives being held in the PA's Jericho prison, including three men implicated in the murder of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi. The Americans and British are furious about lax enforcement in the facility. The Palestinians have provided relatively comfortable conditions to the inmates, and allowed them to communicate freely with the outside world. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Sharon's Balancing Act - Jim Hoagland
    The decision - in principle - by Sharon's cabinet two weeks ago to "remove" Arafat "should be considered as a last warning to Arafat to give up terrorism," a senior Israeli official said last week in the wake of talks between Dov Weisglass, Sharon's chief of staff, and Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser. They have reportedly worked out a series of unannounced "understandings" that would avoid clashes over the road map, Israeli settlements, and the system of security barriers, or "fence," now being built across the West Bank. Sharon has responded to indirect threats from Washington to withhold aid that would be spent on the fence with soft words rather than with the bluster and the appeals to Congress that were employed at times by his Likud predecessors. (Washington Post)
  • Rewriting the History Books in Baghdad - Vivienne Walt
    Iraqi children heading back to school this week are in for a historic surprise. Saddam Hussein will have vanished - from their classroom walls, from their school textbooks, and from their teachers' lessons. A team of Iraqi officials has spent the summer rewriting the history books to expunge all mentions of Saddam and his once-powerful Ba'ath Party, under a project funded by USAID. About 17 million edited texts have been printed. The far more daunting task ahead is to unravel decades of education practices imposed by Saddam's regime. (Toronto Star)
  • Terrorist Attack Claims Arab Christian - Noga Tarnopolsky
    One of the victims of the Cafe Hillel bombing in Jerusalem on Sept. 9 was a waiter, Shafik Karam, from Beit Hanina, a Palestinian Christian. The Palestinian press does not speak of acts of Palestinian terrorism, even when the terrorism hits Palestinians. The obituary said Karam, 27, had been "called by God" as a result of "an accident at his place of work," as though a tray had fallen on his head. The shrinking Christian community here feels its continued existence is uncertain and that no one represents them. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Can a New Palestinian Prime Minister Succeed?
    - Dan Ephron Interviews Benny Morris (Newsweek)

    • Both Abu Mazen and Abu Ala don�t have grassroots support among the Palestinian people. They�re both regarded as politicians and not fighters. It�s the fighters who are admired. That�s why you see Arafat still wearing a military uniform.
    • I don�t expect Abu Ala (Ahmed Qurei) to be any more successful in reining in the terrorist organizations. Abu Ala has learned from Abu Mazen�s experience that he can�t afford to strike a line independent from Arafat. So it is even less likely that Abu Ala would push things forward.
    • For Qurei, taking on Hamas means a civil war, and I can see from the Palestinian perspective why they don�t get involved in a civil war for the sake of the Israelis. The problem is that there�s no way to move forward until these groups are dismantled.
    • The ends and desires of Hamas are really ends of the entire Palestinian people. Hamas wants Israel eliminated and most Palestinians, in their hearts, do as well. Some Palestinians believe that they can�t put an end to Israel and thus must accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel. But even then, I believe these people think that over a process of time Israel will cease to exist.
    • I don�t think the attack on [Hamas leader Sheikh] Yassin is the last we�ll see. I think Israel will try and get him again. In fact, I think we should have gotten to him and to Arafat a long time ago. There is a psychological effect and a public relations effect of killing off the leadership. The day after we injured [Hamas leader] Rantisi, Hamas signed a ceasefire. I think the feeling of personal vulnerability may have a moderating effect on this leadership.
    • Q: You said you believe Israel should kill Arafat?
      Morris: There is no solution except killing him. All this talk about exiling him is nonsense. He would be much more trouble wandering the world. I think the choice is between killing him and keeping him in his Ramallah compound.

    Benny Morris is a prominent "revisionist" historian at Israel�s Ben-Gurion University.

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