Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 30, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Terror Alerts in Israel Continue - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Fifty-four terror alerts were registered by the security establishment on Monday.
    Security officials warned that "all the terrorist organizations are intent on perpetrating attacks."
    However, the officials said they had no knowledge of reports claiming Israel had heightened its state of alert due to warnings received of plans by terrorists possibly from abroad to perpetrate attacks on New Year's Eve.

Al Qaeda Links Seen in Attacks on Top Saudi Security Officials - Douglas Jehl (New York Times)
    Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia with links to al-Qaeda appear to be making a concerted new effort to destabilize the Saudi government by assassinating top security officials, according to senior American officials.
    A series of assassination attempts in the last month, including a failed car bombing in the Saudi capital on Monday, have also included a previously undisclosed shooting on Dec. 4 of Maj. Gen. Abdelaziz al-Huweirini, the kingdom's top counterterrorism official, who was moderately wounded.

U.S. Orders Foreign Airlines to Use Armed Marshals - Eric Lichtblau (New York Times)
    The Bush administration issued an emergency order on Monday demanding that foreign airlines place armed air marshals on flights that travel into, out of, or over the U.S. if American officials determine there is a threat.

Jordan to Educate Schoolchildren About Terrorism (Reuters)
    Jordan is revamping school curricula for next year to help children distinguish between "terrorism" and legitimate resistance, an education official said Monday.
    The announcement came a day after Kuwait said it was revising textbooks used in state schools to remove references that could encourage religious extremism.

Poland, Israel Sign Anti-Tank Missile Deal - Monika Scislowska (AP/Guardian-UK)
    Poland and Israel on Monday signed a deal worth $350 million over the next 10 years to provide the Polish army with some 2,700 state-of-the-art Israeli anti-tank missiles.
    The "Spike'' missiles will be produced under license from the Israeli Rafael corporation by Mesko, a Polish firm.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Banned Arms Flowed into Iraq through Syria: Files Found in Baghdad Describe Deals Violating UN Sanctions
    A Syrian trading company with close ties to the ruling regime smuggled weapons and military hardware to Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2003, helping Syria become the main channel for illicit arms transfers to Iraq despite a stringent UN embargo, documents recovered in Iraq show. The private company, called SES International Corp., is headed by a cousin of Syria's autocratic leader, Bashar Assad, and is controlled by other members of Assad's Baath Party and Alawite clan. The Bush administration accused Damascus in March of sending night-vision goggles and other military equipment into Iraq, but U.S. officials now say the White House was unaware of the extent of the illicit weapons traffic.
        Iraq's Al Bashair Trading Co. handled all those deals and scores of others. Its English-speaking director-general, Munir A. Awad, fled to Syria during the war and now is living there "under government protection," according to an intelligence report in Washington. On March 2, 2003, 30 inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency arrived without notice to check reports that Al Bashair had put public tenders out on the Internet to buy high-strength aluminum tubes. The CIA had insisted the tubes could be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Records show Asef Isa Shaleesh, the SES manager, made at least four trips to the Al Bashair offices in Baghdad between September 2001 and August 2002 to sign or update more than 50 SES contracts to supply Iraq's military. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Iraqi Official: Saddam Gives Info on Weapons, Funds
    Saddam Hussein has given his U.S. captors information on hidden weapons and as much as $40 billion he may have seized while he was Iraq's president, an Iraqi official said Monday. "Saddam has confessed the names of people he told to keep the money and he gave names of those who have information on equipment and weapons warehouses," Iyad Allawi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily. "The Governing Council is searching for $40 billion worth of funds seized by Saddam when he was in power and which has been deposited in Switzerland, Japan, Germany, and other countries under the names of fictitious companies," Allawi said. (Reuters)
  • Libya Nuclear Program Detailed
    In buildings scattered in urban neighborhoods and suburbs of Tripoli, inspectors found crates that held hardware for machinery capable of purifying uranium for use in nuclear weapons. The Libyans displayed dozens of centrifuges, the devices required to develop weapons-grade uranium. By comparison, Iran possesses thousands of centrifuges.
        Mohammed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the findings highlighted the inadequacy of international inspections. IAEA teams have been visiting Libya for years and knew nothing about the equipment they saw Sunday. Even permission to allow surprise inspections would not guarantee discovery of a nuclear weapons program. "Low-level programs like this are difficult to detect. They can be run in a garage," ElBaradei said. "You would have to be lucky or have very good intelligence to run across it." Most of the work was done by Libyan scientists, some of whom had studied at the universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and at the University of Exeter in Britain, a Western diplomat said. (Washington Post)
        See also Libyan Project Exposes "Cartel" in Nuclear Arms
    Libya's decision to reveal its secret nuclear program has exposed an inter-national "cartel" responsible for smuggling atomic weapons technology to regimes around the globe. (London Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Still with Saddam - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Saddam Hussein is still seen by some Palestinians as a hero and a symbol of defiance against Israel and the U.S.  Saddam's picture appears at protests against the separation fence, at rallies for Palestinian prisoners, and at funerals of activists. Saddam's sympathizers can be found in almost all the Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian branch of the dissolved Iraqi Ba'ath Party, known as the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), remains active in several Palestinian cities and villages.
        In the past three weeks, the ALF and "Saddam's friends" have published two paid front-page advertisements in the Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, condemning the U.S. for apprehending Saddam. In a series of articles in the Palestinian media, which is entirely controlled by the PA, prominent Palestinian analysts and commentators have expressed their dismay at the humiliation of Saddam and strongly condemned the U.S. for its "ongoing crimes" against the Iraqi people. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Iran, Syria, and Palestinians are the Only Ones Left Who Shelter Terrorists - Margot Dudkevitch
    A senior IDF officer said Gaddafi's recent statements were not the result of pressure by the U.S. and the UK, but a strategic decision he made, one that Israeli security and intelligence officials recognize as being sincere. "He realizes that he will reap benefits from the U.S. or UK or others, and Libya will benefit in the long run. Gaddafi's statements transmit a clear-cut message to Syria and Iran, which remain the most threatening elements in the region, that the process is worthwhile," the officer said. Iran, Syria, and the Palestinians are the only ones left who continue to support terrorism, create safe havens for terrorists, and fund terrorist activities, the officer added.
        The war in Iraq, Gaddafi's recent statements, and sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Syria because of its outright support of terrorism has forced Syrian President Assad to evaluate his position in order to minimize risks. Assad continues to do everything possible to maintain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to prevent the Palestinians from reaching an agreement with Israel. "On one hand he continues to support terrorism and develop unconventional warfare capability and at the same time he transmits messages to the U.S. and Israel that he is keen on renewing negotiations," the officer said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What If the Radicals Oust Musharraf? - David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker
    Two recent assassination attempts against Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, have renewed concern in the Bush administration over the security of its nuclear weapons if Musharraf were killed or removed from office. Three years ago, American officials estimated that Pakistan had enough highly enriched uranium to manufacture 40 nuclear weapons, and it is assumed that the figure has grown. Under both President Clinton and President Bush, the Pentagon has analyzed whether American forces could seize or secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal if it appeared likely to fall into the hands of terrorists or their sympathizers. But a number of current and former administration officials said they had concluded that it was impossible to be certain where all of Pakistan's nuclear materials and weapons components were stored. (New York Times)
  • Fence-Building Anarchists - Editorial
    You won't see groups like "Anarchists Against the Wall" protesting in Ramallah or Gaza in opposition to suicide bombings against Israel, either because they support terrorism, or because the PA would never permit such a protest. The complaint of the Palestinians and their fellow travelers generally boils down to "it all started when he hit me back." Want to help the Palestinians? Tell them to stop attacking Israel, and the record shows that Israel will quickly reciprocate by easing its onerous security measures. It is Palestinian terrorism that is building the fence, with the help of its supposed friends. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mideast: Christian-Free Zone? - Joseph Farah
    In 1948, Bethlehem was 80% Christian. Today it is 80% Muslim. Some 2 million Christians have fled the Middle East in the past 20 years. Since Arafat took over administration of the Palestinian territories from Israel in 1994, the Christian population has dropped from 15% to 2%. If these people were fleeing Israeli oppression, why did they leave after the Israelis left? (WorldNetDaily)
  • Observations:

    Is There an Alternative to Arafat's Leadership? - Barry Rubin
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Arafat is not a nationalist. If he was, he could have had a state in 1968, in 1979, at several points in the 1980s, and certainly in the year 2000. But he is not interested in the well-being of the Palestinian people, he's interested in the Palestinian cause.
    • In many ways, one of the keys to understanding Arafat is that he is basically an old-fashioned Islamist, influenced by his early connections with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He believes that victory is inevitable and that God will bring him victory. He believes it would be a sin to compromise, and that he has no right to give up anything between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is better to leave the battle to future generations than to make any political settlement that limits their ability to fight for total victory.
    • Arafat is also a romantic revolutionary, the Middle Eastern counterpart of Che Guevara who glories in struggle and battling against the odds. He has no desire to become a statesman. He prefers to keep the revolution going.
    • In each phase of his life - in Jordan (1967-1971), Lebanon (1971-1982), Tunis (1982-1994), and the West Bank and Gaza (1994 to the present) - Arafat has ended up destroying his own position because of the belief that violence always benefits his cause, the conviction that he doesn't have to implement his agreements, and the use of extremist front groups to commit violence for which he can disclaim responsibility.
    • The bottom line is: Arafat will not make a deal. Therefore, either an alternative to Arafat is found or we will have to out-wait him, in order to achieve peace.

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