Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.


August 3, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
[email protected]

In-Depth Issues:

Covert U.S. Negotiations Underway with Iraqi Sunnis (Maariv International)
    Covert negotiations between the U.S. administration and senior members of the Saddam-era Iraqi power structure have been confirmed by an intelligence source.
    The most important negotiations are with Major General Sofian Maher Hassan el Tikrity, commander of Saddam's Republican Guards, who was reportedly "captured" by U.S. troops, but intelligence sources say he turned himself in to begin negotiations.
    During the war el Tikrity ordered his troops to withdraw from vital Tigris river bridges, a move which expedited the fall of Baghdad.
    After the war, he felt the U.S. had not lived up to its pre-war understandings with him, and subsequently encouraged his troops to become the backbone of the Sunni insurgency.

The Price of Sunni Reintegration
    The main point being discussed is the degree of political and economic autonomy the Sunni tribal chiefs will be able to extract from the U.S. in exchange for their quitting their alliance with the non-Iraqi terrorist elements fighting the Americans in Iraq, most of whom are linked to al-Qaeda.
    The Sunnis' aim is to gain as large a slice as possible of the new Iraqi pie, not see it destroyed in an endless and unwinnable jihad against the Americans.
    Moreover, they have no desire to become the tail to the jihadist terrorist dog, since most Iraqi Sunnis have very little theological common ground with the fundamentalist Wahhabi strain of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia.
    Last week Iraqi Sunnis evicted over 100 al-Qaeda terrorists from bases near Samarra, who fled to Iran.
    At the same time, Iraqi Premier Allawi has begun expediting the reintegration of up to 75,000 Sunnis into the country's military establishment.

Kurds to Regain Dominance in Kirkuk
    Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni, declared that the Kurds have the right to retake properties in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from which they were expelled, restoring the Kurdish majority in the area.
    This will entail the resettlement of Sunnis that Saddam had brought to Kirkuk back inside the Sunni Triangle, to be funded primarily by the U.S.

Israeli Athletes to Get Extra Security in Olympic Village (USA Today)
    Israeli athletes have been given an additional layer of security at the Olympic Village with a fence placed around the team's residential compound, the Greek public order ministry said Monday.
    The U.S. team also had asked for a fence but withdrew the request.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Pakistan Remains Haven for al-Qaeda
    The recent arrests in Pakistan of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian operative of al-Qaeda accused of involvement in the bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and Pakistani computer engineer Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan illustrate how senior members of the terrorist network continue to successfully hide in Pakistan, confirming suspicions that foreign members of al-Qaeda have been able to safely operate from Pakistan's remote tribal areas for at least the past 18 months. (New York Times)
        See also Frontier Menace - Kathy Gannon
    The 9/11 Commission report identified the border region of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran as an ideal sanctuary for terrorists. A former member of the Taliban's security apparatus told me that this region is still being used to move money, mostly originating in Saudi Arabia, to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Al-Qaeda Terror Suspects Traced to Iran
    European investigators point to an increasing presence in Iran of al-Qaeda figures, including suspected masterminds of this year's train bombings in Madrid and last year's car bombings of expatriate compounds in Saudi Arabia. Iranian officials have alternately pursued and tolerated al-Qaeda because the group serves as a tool for Iran's geopolitical interests in neighboring Iraq and against key foes: the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
        In a March 10, 2001, conversation wiretapped by Italian police, a Libyan named Lased ben Heni, a member of a terrorist cell in Milan, said, "There's total collaboration with the Iranians....It's better to go to the Iranian Embassy in London because it's very smooth and then everything's well organized all the way to the training camps." (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S. Forces Hunt al-Qaeda Saudis in Sudan
    American special forces teams have been sent to hunt down Saudi Arabian terrorists who have reestablished secret al-Qaeda training camps in the Jebel Kurush mountains in northeastern Sudan. An American Delta Force officer said the camps are used to train new recruits to wage holy war against the West and its allies. The officer said, "They are moving pretty easily from their base points to the Red Sea coast, and then back and forth to Saudi Arabia." Western diplomats in Saudi Arabia said the new Sudanese camps, which were established in the last nine months, have become a vital staging ground for al-Qaeda. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Military Intelligence Head: Dahlan's Move "Premature"
    Former Palestinian Interior Minister Muhammad "Dahlan's move was premature and therefore it failed; our estimations are that additional moves challenging Arafat will follow," IDF Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi Farkash told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Kassam Rockets on Sderot - Ze'ev Schiff
    The IDF's difficulty in putting an end to the firing of Kassam rockets at Negev kibbutzim and the town of Sderot will force the army to expand the area it controls in northern Gaza. The concept is for the local community to learn that there is a price to be paid for allowing Kassam rocket fire from the area. The army will consider withdrawing its forces as soon as the rocket fire halts. In Beit Hanun many Palestinian residents have demanded an end to the rocket fire and Hamas is aware of public criticism against the launches, but according to its strategic concept, Hamas is seeking to prove that the expected Israeli disengagement was the result of Palestinian pressure.
        Hamas is making major efforts to manufacture more rockets, working around the clock in plants the IDF has not managed to destroy. One operational difficulty is that the rockets are sometimes launched from the backyards of houses. Even if a cell is spotted, the IDF risks hitting the houses. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Running Away from Sderot - Eli Bohadna
    Sixty Kassam rockets have been fired from Gaza on Israel since "Operation Forward Shield" began in northern Gaza a month ago. (Maariv-Hebrew; 3 Aug 04)
  • Mofaz: Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion Inside the Fence - Amir Rappaport
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced Monday that Maale Adumim (28,000 residents) and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc (12,000 residents) will be on the Israeli side of the security fence. Mofaz added, "We will not return to the lines of 1967." Yet municipal leaders and residents of Rosh Ha'ayin, Maccabim-Re'ut, Har Adar, and Mevaseret Tzion complained that the new fence route is only tens of meters away from them. (Maariv-Hebrew; 3 Aug 04/AFP)
        See also U.S. Frowns on New Housing in Maale Adumim - Janine Zacharia (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Envoy Arriving Thursday to Discuss Gaza Plan
    Senior White House official Elliot Abrams will arrive in Israel Thursday to discuss the disengagement plan with Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Shalom. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Execute Two "Collaborators" in Hospital Beds - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Five masked Palestinian gunmen stormed Shifa hospital in Gaza City on Monday and shot dead two men suspected of collaboration with Israel. The two were wounded earlier in the day after a Palestinian policeman hurled a grenade into a cell in Gaza City's main prison, killing one prisoner and wounding seven others. The hospital killings took place despite the presence of a large police force. Hamas claimed responsibility for the executions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Three Palestinians Killed in Gaza Blast
    An explosion Tuesday in the Gaza Strip killed at least three Palestinians and wounded several others. Palestinian witnesses and the IDF said the blast appeared to be from a bomb that militants were trying to detonate against Israeli troops in Rafah. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The UN's Attack on Self-Defense - Patrick Cox
    An American veto of a UN Security Council vote imposing South Africa-type sanctions against Israel if the security barrier is not removed is a given - but not for the reasons that most assume. U.S. Ambassador John Danforth has condemned the International Court of Justice ruling on several occasions, specifically referring to Article 51 of the UN Charter, recognizing nation-states' right to self-defense. Ambassador Danforth said, "The court opinion...seems to say that the right of a state to defend itself exists only when it is attacked by another state, and that the right of self-defense does not exist against non-state actors. It does not exist when terrorists hijack planes and fly them into buildings, or bomb train stations, or bomb bus stops, or put poison gas into subways. I would suggest that if this were the meaning of Article 51, then the United Nations Charter could be irrelevant in a time when the major threats to peace are not from states but from terrorists."
        In other words, the interpretation of Article 51 enshrined in this court ruling, and endorsed by the General Assembly, delegitimizes military action by states against non-state terrorist organizations - unless permission is given by the government that harbors those terrorists. (Tech Central Station)
  • Nablus: A City of Chaos - Zohar Palti
    Although only a few dozen Fatah militants are currently operating in Nablus, they have become a dominant force in the city. When they attack fellow Palestinians, they are called the Fatah Tanzim; when they attack Israelis, they are called the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In 2003, 33 residents were killed and more than 200 shops were set on fire as a result of internal Palestinian struggles. In recent months, the Fatah Tanzim in Nablus have been responsible for approximately 20 murders and dozens of shootings. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    In Defense of the Intelligence Services - Efraim Halevy (Economist-UK)

    • When commissions of inquiry investigate intelligence failures of extraordinary magnitude, their conclusions inevitably have an overwhelming influence on the conduct of intelligence chiefs and their political masters for generations to come. Several assumptions and concepts, implicit or explicit in the reports, warrant close study. I wish to take issue with the findings on both terrorism and the WMD.
    • Three times within close to a quarter of a century, Saddam Hussein has attempted to develop capabilities in the field of WMD, with emphasis on the nuclear area. In the early 1980s, Israel destroyed his French-supplied nuclear reactor. In the early 1990s, the first Gulf war, launched after Iraq invaded Kuwait, revealed extensive Iraqi activity in all three WMD fields (nuclear, chemical, and biological); the UN destroyed some of these capabilities after the war, and tried to monitor others before it withdrew from Iraq in 1998 and was not allowed back. In the years leading up to the American-British invasion of Iraq in 2003, there was evidence that Saddam was trying to renew his nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and to restore his original capabilities. Nobody outside Iraq knew how far he had succeeded.
    • On the terrorist scene, it became obvious when two American embassies, in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, were simultaneously attacked in 1998, that al-Qaeda had entered a new phase in its war against the U.S. This threat was clearly recognized by the American intelligence community. Serious collection efforts were initiated. However, I believe that if the CIA had come up with proposals to adopt measures like those that were hastily implemented after September 11, 2001, the American public would not have been capable of approving them.
    • I have reason to believe that George Tenet, the director of the CIA who resigned in June and left in July, got it right on both key issues. He correctly assessed the terrorist threat, and his basic approach to the Iraqi conundrum was similarly accurate. The fact that WMD have not yet been found in Iraq is no proof that there was nothing there; those who can conceal complete squadrons of aircraft in the sand could easily act similarly when it comes to WMD.

      Efraim Halevy was head of Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, from 1998 to 2002. Since 2003 he has been head of the Center for Strategic and Policy Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
        [email protected]
    To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to:
        [email protected]