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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October 29, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraqis Removed Arms Material, U.S. Official Says - Douglas Jehl (New York Times)
    The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq's illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.
    Lt.-Gen. (ret.) James R. Clapper, Jr., head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency responsible for interpreting satellite photographs, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria just before the American invasion in March led him to believe that illicit weapons material "unquestionably" had been moved out of Iraq.

Arafat Planning Medical Operating Room at Ramallah HQ - Galit Yitzhak (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    Arafat has instructed his staff to check into the possibility of setting up an operating room inside his Ramallah office, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal reported Tuesday.
    Arafat recognizes that he needs an operation, and recently failed to win guarantees from Arab and Western nations that Israel would allow him to return to PA territory after he went to Cairo or Amman for surgery.

Hizballah Planning to Kidnap Israelis in Africa - Ellis Shuman (Israelinsider)
    Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has warned that Hizballah agents may attempt to kidnap Israeli businessmen and diplomats in Africa in the coming weeks, Yediot Ahronot reported Monday.
    The Mossad warning related specifically to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania, where security officials know that al-Qaeda and Hizballah are stepping up their operations, in connection with local Islamic extremist groups.
    Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah declared in July that if negotiations on a possible prisoner exchange "have reached a dead end and that the number of captives in our hands is not enough for a successful prisoner exchange, the alternative will not be concessions, but rather we will work day and night to abduct more and more Israelis."

Report: British Muslims Planning Terror Attacks Against Israel - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli military officials have asked security agencies in Britain to help track down several of the estimated 50 young British Muslims who have "gone missing" after traveling to Syria in recent months, who might be planning terrorist attacks, according to the London Times on Monday.
    See also Muslim Radicals in UK Training New Suicide Bombers - Vijay Dutt (Hindustan Times)
    Three young British Muslims have been identified as being hidden in the Gaza Strip by terrorist groups.
    A diplomatic source said that these young militants would be utilized for attacks in Iraq, but as some are of Pak-origin, India could at some stage become a target.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush Reviews Middle East Policy
    President Bush told a press conference Tuesday:
        Syria and Iran's Support for Attacks Against U.S. in Iraq
    The U.S. was working closely with Syria and Iran "to let them know that we expect them to enforce borders, prevent people from coming across borders....We are mindful of the fact that some might want to come into Iraq to attack and to create conditions of fear and chaos."
        Support for Vanquishing Palestinian Terrorism as a Precondition to a Negotiated Settlement
    "My policy in the Middle East is pretty clear. We are for a two-state solution. We want there to be a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel. Now, in order to achieve a two-state solution there needs to be a focused effort by all concerned parties to fight off terror. There are terrorists in the Middle East willing to kill to make sure that a Palestinian state doesn't emerge. It's essential that there be a focused effort to fight off terror. Abu Mazen came here to the White House....He pledged a focused and concerted effort to fight terror....Unfortunately, he is no longer in power. He was eased out of power. And I do not see the same commitment to fight terror from the old guard. And, therefore, it's going to be very hard to move a peace process forward until there's a focused effort by all parties to assume their responsibilities."
        Criticism of Israel's Fence Route
    "You asked about the fence. I have said the fence is a problem to the extent that the fence is an opportunity to make it difficult for a Palestinian state to emerge. There is a difference between security and land acquisition....We want the conditions for a Palestinian state on the ground to be positive, that when the Palestinians finally get people that are willing to fight off terror, the ground must be right so that a state can emerge; a peaceful state....But the long-suffering Palestinian people need leadership that is willing to do what is necessary to enable a Palestinian state to come forth." (White House)
        See also Bush's Mideast Policy on Hold
    The president's remarks confirmed what many Middle East analysts already had concluded. "They've made a decision that this is not going to be a priority, and if it's not going to be a priority, it's not going to happen," said Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert at the University of Maryland. "It's clear the administration is disengaged, and the administration will stay disengaged," said Judith Kipper, director of the Middle East Forum at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iran Promises to Aid Syria Against Possible U.S. Sanctions;
    al-Qaeda Infiltrating Iraq Through Iran

    Iran will assist Syria against the impact of any proposed U.S. sanctions, said Mohsen Mirdamadi, who heads Iran's parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.
        On Saturday, Kuwait's Al-Ra'y al-Amm newspaper reported that U.S. forces are now talking of a large mobilization of al-Qaeda forces in Iraq and that hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters are now working alongside members of the former Iraqi regime to undermine the U.S.-led coalition's authority. Sources in the Coalition Provisional Authority said the number of al-Qaeda combatants and Arab recruits in Iraq substantially increased in mid-August. Large numbers of al-Qaeda combatants from Saudi Arabia used Iranian territory as their route into Iraq. Other groups of combatants come through Iran from Pakistan's Baluchistan region and Afghanistan's Herat province. (Oil & Gas Journal)
  • Saudi Fighters Join Resistance in Iraq
    According to Dr. Muhammad al-Massari, a Saudi political activist living in exile in London, ''There are around 5,000 mujahedin fighters from Saudi Arabia in Baghdad, and many others joining them from all over the Muslim and Arab world. These men have already stepped up their efforts to kick out the American imperialist's from Iraq, but what we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg.'' (Aljazeera-Qatar)
  • U.S. Commanders See No Sign of Foreign Fighters on Syria-Iraq Border
    Commanders of U.S. military forces responsible for monitoring the border between Iraq and Syria say there is no evidence from human intelligence sources or radar surveillance aircraft indicating that significant numbers of foreign fighters are crossing into Iraq illegally. Foreign fighters could still be reaching Baghdad from Syria, Jordan, Turkey, or Kuwait by passing through border posts with valid or forged travel documents, the officers said. (Washington Post)
        See also Foreign Fighters Pose New Threat (London Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Syria Urged Hizballah to Avenge IAF Strike - Amos Harel
    Israeli security sources said Tuesday they believe that Syria overtly encouraged Hizballah to fire on IDF positions in the Har Dov area on Monday to avenge an Israel Air Force strike on a terrorist camp near Damascus earlier this month. It was no coincidence that the attack happened as the Syrian and Lebanese chiefs of staff met in Beirut. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz: IDF Preparing for Renewed Hizballah Activity
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday that Hizballah is planning "a more significant attack than artillery and anti-tank fire at Israeli soldiers," and "The northern command is prepared for this," Army Radio reported. Maj.-Gen. Benny Ganz, chief of the Northern Command, said Hizballah's ability to operate freely in southern Lebanon is dangerous to everyone in the region, including Syria. "The responsibility for this instability...lies with the Lebanese government, the Syrian government, and Hizballah, which is operating on the ground," Ganz said Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel, U.S. to Fund Laser that Shoots Down Rockets
    Israel and the U.S. are to spend at least $57 million for development of a laser cannon that can shoot down short-range missiles, MK Yuval Steinitz and security officials said Tuesday. The Nautilus uses a high power radar to track and lock onto the incoming projectile. Then a Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL), which looks like a large spotlight, shoots out an intense beam that destroys the rocket. A successful test in February 1996 in the U.S. marked the first time that a rocket has been destroyed in flight by a laser beam. The laser has also proved its ability to shoot down artillery shells. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Declarations - Martin Peretz
    As anyone who watches Palestinian media on the Web surely knows, the United States is the declared enemy of each and every armed militia in the territories that our government so desperately wishes will soon become Palestine. The difference between the Palestinian militias and al-Qaeda is merely one of scope and public relations. It is time we stop pleading with the PA to clamp down on terrorism. They won't. (The New Republic)
  • Is the EU With Us, or With the Terrorists? - Editorial
    Foreign fighters are not the only ones providing aid and comfort to the enemies of Iraqi reconstruction. As more Syrian links to attacks in Iraq are exposed, the European Union (EU) is increasing economic links to Syria. In Damascus, a weekend business conference funded by the EU brought 180 European officials and business executives to strengthen economic cooperation and pave the way for a Syrian-EU trade pact by the end of the year. It is clear that this European coddling of Syria is a direct response to the growing movement toward American sanctions against the nation. It is difficult to determine whether the EU is for us - or for the terrorists. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    The Hashemite Solution for Iraq - Bernard Lewis and R. James Woolsey (Wall Street Journal)

    • Iraq already has a constitution. It was legally adopted in 1925 and Iraq was governed under it until the series of military, then Baathist, coups began in 1958 and brought over four decades of steadily worsening dictatorship. It has some very useful features that would permit it to be used on an interim basis while a new constitution is drafted.
    • We need not shy away from the 1925 constitution because it establishes a constitutional monarchy. Using it as a transitional document would be entirely consistent with permanently establishing as head of state either a president or a monarch that, like the UK's, reigns but does not rule. Indeed, of the nations that have been democracies for a very long time and show every sign that they will remain so, a substantial majority are constitutional monarchies. (We should recall how important King Juan Carlos was to the transition from fascism to democracy in Spain.) As odd as the notion may seem to Americans whose national identity was forged in rebellion against George III, there is nothing fundamentally undemocratic about a limited monarchy's serving as a transitional, or even a long-term, constitutional structure in Iraq or any other country.
    • Conveniently, the 1925 constitution provides that the people of Iraq are deemed to have "confided...a trust" to "King Faisal, son of Hussain, and to his heirs." If the allies who liberated Iraq recognized an heir of this Hashemite line as its constitutional monarch, and this monarch agreed to help bring about a modern democracy under the rule of law, such a structure could well be the framework for a much smoother transition to democracy than now seems at hand. The Sunni Hashemites, being able to claim direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed, have historically been respected by the Shiites, who constitute a majority of the people of Iraq. It is the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, not the Hashemites, who have been the Shiites' persecutors.
    • Many Iraqis look back on the era of Hashemite rule from the 1920s to the 1950s as a golden age. The legitimacy and continuity which the Hashemites represent for large numbers of people in the Middle East could provide a useful underpinning for the growth of democracy in Iraq. The identification of legitimacy with the Western practice of balloting may well occur sooner in Iraq if it is developed at least initially as an expanding aspect of an already legitimate constitutional order.
    • Some contend that a process that gave the UN a central role would somehow confer legitimacy. We are at a loss to understand this argument. Nearly 40% of the UN members' governments do not practice succession by election. In the Middle East only Israel and Turkey do so. During a transition in which Iraq is moving toward democracy, a government that is operating under its existing constitution, with a monarch as called for in that document, is at least as legitimate as the governments of UN members that are not democracies at all.
    • The king should be a Hashemite prince with political experience and no political obligations or commitments. In view of the nation's Shiite majority, the prime minister should be a modern Shiite with a record of opposition to tyranny and oppression. Such leaders would be well-suited to begin the process that would in time lead to genuinely free and fair elections, sound amendments to the 1925 Iraqi Constitution, and the election of a truly representative governing body.

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