Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 17, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: Terrorists' Use of WMD "Only a Matter of Time" - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
    Hank Crumpton, the newly-appointed head of counter-terrorism at the U.S. State Department, believes that it is simply a matter of time before international terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them in attacks.
    Crumpton, who spent 20 years working for the CIA, warned Monday that the "war on terror" was likely to last for decades.
    "And it is not just the nuclear threat that bothers me. I think, if anything, the biological threat is going to grow," he added.
    The regime of President Assad in Syria also seriously threatens Western security, he says.
    "The regime continues to support terror organizations. And we know that the Baathist leadership fled to Damascus taking with them money and terrorist expertise, and we cannot rule out the fact that some of that expertise related to WMD."
    Crumpton was a key figure in covert operations against al-Qaeda pre-September 11.
    He tried to persuade the CIA to do more in Afghanistan to hunt down bin Laden before the attacks, but two key proposals to tackle al-Qaeda were turned down.

Israeli Experts Urge Covert Ops against Iran Nukes - Yaakov Katz and Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    "The only real way to operate [against Iran] is through covert operations," said Shabtai Shoval, a former member of the Israeli intelligence community.
    "The goal is not to stop the [Iranian] plan since that is almost impossible," he said. "We need to delay it by five years and hope that within that period the current Iranian government will be overturned."
    Former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan called on the government to engage in operations that could not be traced back to Israel as it works to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear power.

Fury over Austrian "Super" Rifles for Iranians - Thomas Harding (Telegraph-UK)
    Britain and America are furious with Austria for exporting to Iran 800 sniper rifles that could be used against their troops in Iraq.
    HS50 Steyr-Mannlicher .50 caliber rifles can pierce body armor from up to a mile, shoot down helicopters, and penetrate Humvee troop carriers that have not been fully reinforced.

Emir of Kuwait Dies - Hassan M. Fattah (New York Times)
    Sheik Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, 79, the emir of Kuwait for 28 years, died Sunday.

Martin Luther King: "Modern-Day Prophet" - James Morrison (Washington Times)
    Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon hailed Martin Luther King when he honored the slain civil rights leader in a ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in advance of the annual commemoration of King's birthday.
    "Rev. King was a modern-day prophet, a veritable reincarnation of Jeremiah or Isaiah, as well as an American patriot," he said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Russia and China Demand Iran Freeze Nuclear Activity, but Reject Referral to UN - Elaine Sciolino and Alan Cowell
    Russia and China affirmed Monday that Iran must resume its freeze on certain nuclear activities, but refused a call by the Americans and the Europeans for the issue to be put before the UN Security Council. The Russian and Chinese positions were laid out during five hours of high-level talks in London that brought together the five permanent members of the Security Council - the U.S., Russia, China, France, and Britain - and Germany in an effort to forge a common position after Iran's resumption last week of nuclear work at three sites. (New York Times)
        See also Global Powers Agree to Turn Screw - Richard Beeston
    Britain, France, and Germany announced Monday that they would seek an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency early next month to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council. The big diplomatic hurdle facing the West is to persuade Russia and China to back the move. Javier Solana, foreign policy chief of the EU, said he was confident Moscow and Beijing were on board. "We have very close positions on the Iranian problem," said Russian President Putin after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Times-UK)
  • U.S. Senators Say Military Strike on Iran Must be Option - Carol Giacomo
    Republican and Democratic senators said on Sunday the U.S. may ultimately have to undertake a military strike to deter Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, but that should be the last resort. "Everything else has to be exhausted. But to say under no circumstances would we exercise a military option, that would be crazy," Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona told CBS's "Face the Nation." McCain said "there is only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option, that is a nuclear armed Iran."
        Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Illinois, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on CNN's "Late Edition" that there are sensitive elements of Iran's nuclear program which, if attacked, "would dramatically delay its development." Another Senate Intelligence Committee member, Republican Trent Lott of Mississippi, said that despite a massive military commitment in Iraq, the U.S. has the capability to strike Iran. (Reuters)
  • Overthrow President, Syrians Urged - Patrick Bishop
    Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's invective against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was flowing. "The only way to topple this guy is to try him like Milosevic," he said. Jumblatt believes "there is no difference in essence between the Iraqi Ba'athists and the Syrian Ba'athists...the worst regimes are the Ba'athist regimes." Under the Syrians, he said, "tens of thousands of people were imprisoned. Intellectuals and politicians from Syria, from Lebanon, from Palestine were killed, executed." They include Jumblatt's father Kamal, murdered in 1977. He urged the Syrian opposition to seek Western support to help topple the Damascus regime. "I am not calling for military intervention in Syria, but I am asking the Syrian opposition to decide that without Western help there can be no change - without [it] they will be in jail or exiled and will be blackmailed and killed." (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Kills Hamas Terror Leader in Tulkarm - Efrat Weiss
    An IDF force Tuesday killed Sabat Iada, 24, the head of Hamas' military wing in the West Bank town of Tulkarm. Forces deployed around the building in which Iada, who was on the IDF's most wanted list, was staying. At one point he attempted to escape and shot at the troops, who returned fire. A search of the house revealed an explosives lab and explosive devices. One soldier was lightly wounded in the operation. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Win to Force European Rethink of Palestinian Ties
    Europe will have to reevaluate its links with the Palestinians in the event of a Hamas victory in next week's legislative elections, Spain's Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said Monday. Last month, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the EU, the largest donor to the PA, would find it very difficult to channel funding to a group which appears on its terrorist blacklist. (AFP/Jordan Times)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Continues to Face Three Strategic Terrorist Threats - Boaz Ganor
    Israel is finding itself facing three of the most serious strategic threats it has known in the past ten years: Anarchy in the PA and continual strengthening of Hamas, a steady flow of global jihadists into Israel and the territories, and Iran's nuclear program, accompanied by explicit threats against Israel. The reduction in Palestinian terror is temporary, Even if the unexpected occurs and Hamas decides to continue the cease-fire, other organizations will continue their attempts to stage terror attacks.
        Signs are growing that al-Qaeda, Iraqi terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and other organizations are trying to focus their terror activities on central Asia and the Middle East, and as usual, Israel finds itself right in the eye of the storm. Zarqawi's activists and others have ratcheted up their presence in countries bordering on Israel - Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt.
        The vacuum created in the Gaza Strip after Israel's departure and Abbas' failure have allowed global Jihad to increase its terrorist abilities in Gaza, and eventually they will probably do so in the West Bank as well. Iran could - were its installations attacked by any outside power - support or even demand that its proxy organization, Hizballah, use its missiles against Israel. The writer is deputy dean of the Lauder School of Government and Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Ynet News)
        See also Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA)
        See also Deterrence Instability: Hizballah's Fuse to Iran's Bomb - Gerald M. Steinberg (JCPA)
  • A First Answer to Egypt - Editorial
    The Bush administration has taken a first step toward adjusting its relationship with Egypt following President Mubarak's flagrant violation of his promises to lead a transition to democracy. An Egyptian delegation that was to visit Washington this month to discuss a free-trade agreement has been disinvited, and the agreement itself was put on hold. For Egypt's business community and the reformist technocrats in its cabinet, the message should be clear: Egypt won't join the global economic mainstream unless it abandons its corrupt dictatorship.
        Egypt has brazenly petitioned the U.S. for hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid this year - over and above the $1.8 billion Egypt regularly receives - ostensibly in compensation for its efforts to maintain security in Gaza. U.S. officials say this request will be rejected - as it should be. Instead, Egypt's standing aid allocation and, in particular, its military component should be subjected to a rigorous review by the administration and Congress. (Washington Post)
  • Saudi Interest in America - Rachel Ehrenfeld
    On Sept. 28, 2001, bin Laden called for financial jihad against the U.S. Although the Saudis claim bin Laden is their enemy, many of them continue to follow his agenda. In an interview with Arab News in May 2002, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said that if the Arabs "unite through economic interests," they would achieve influence over U.S. decision-makers. Government sources estimate Saudi holdings in the U.S. at $400 billion to $800 billion.
        Recently the prince purchased 5.6% of voting shares in News Corp., the world's largest publisher of English newspapers. Moreover, Reuters reported on Dec. 5 that the prince announced his plan to "spread the right message" via a new television channel, "The Message," to broadcast to the U.S. within two years. While under the "International Investment & Trade in Services Survey Act," the U.S. Treasury Department tracks foreign portfolios, and Commerce tracks direct investments, this information is unavailable for Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states, at their request. (Washington Times)
  • Observations:

    The Iranian Tipping Point - Frederick Kempe (Wall Street Journal, 17Jan06)

    • The U.S. remains distracted by Iraq, and Iran is calculating that Washington neither has the stomach to strike it militarily nor the international backing for meaningful economic sanctions, says Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies. He says President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad may also be calculating that conflict with the West can be used to excite nationalism at home that would reignite an Iranian revolution whose Islamic flames have waned.
    • The most important single factor galvanizing the world's powers behind a tougher approach to Iran has been President Ahmadinejad, who was elected last year.
    • What's well-known is that he has called for Israel to be either wiped from the map or relocated to Alaska or Bavaria. More troubling to nuclear strategists is his religious pre-occupation with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah, which he referred to last September during a UN speech in New York to the befuddlement of delegates.
    • He then described his role in a November speech in Tehran as usher "for the glorious reappearance of the Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance." According to Shiites, "the Mahdi" is the 12th imam and disappeared as a child in 941. They believe a final judgment and end of the world will follow after his seven-year reign.
    • Those who doubt President Ahmadinejad's religious convictions can watch a widely distributed videotape of his meeting with one of Iran's religious leaders during which he speaks of how he found himself bathed in a green light throughout his UN address and that "for those 27 or 28 minutes all of the leaders of the world did not blink."
    • What concerns Mr. Clawson more is the Iranian capability to disrupt shipping in the Straits of Hormuz or sponsor a horrendous terrorist attack by al-Qaeda, which is believed to have links with Tehran. Iran has a history of backing terrorist attacks when it can preserve plausible deniability - such as the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

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