Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 31, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda in Iraq Growing, Gaining Radicalized Sunnis - Suleiman al-Khalidi (Reuters/Washington Times)
    Newly radicalized Sunnis and disillusioned nationalists are swelling the ranks of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which thinks it can turn part of the country into an Islamic emirate, a moderate Sunni politician said Sunday.
    Saleh Mutlaq, whose Iraqi National Dialogue group supports the U.S.-backed political process, said al-Qaeda's growing control of strongholds at the heart of the Sunni insurgency was paving the way for an Islamic fundamentalist state in western and central Iraq, and even Baghdad.
    He said al-Qaeda plans to expand its territory both in Iraq and beyond its borders. "They want to capture territory to attract more jihadists to destabilize everywhere, and they think they can take over all of Iraq later when they have the territory to operate," he said.

70% of the Iraqi Police Infiltrated by Militias - Amit R. Paley (Washington Post)
    70% of the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by militias, primarily the Mahdi Army, according to Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion, charged with overseeing training of Iraqi police in western Baghdad.
    "None of the Iraqi police are working to make their country better," said Brig. Gen. Salah al-Ani, chief of police for western Baghdad. "They're working for the militias or to put money in their pocket."

U.S. Tries to Cut Off Terrorists' Cash Flow - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
    The U.S. military is not only trying to stop terrorists and arms from leaking into Iraq from Syria and Iran but also cash - the lifeblood of the enemy.
    Military officials point to Syria and its secretive banking system as the main source of Sunni walking-around money, while Iran's Revolutionary Guard funnels money to Shi'ite militias, such as cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

Hamas Militant Dies as Tunnel Collapses Near Gaza-Egypt Border (Xinhua-China)
    An Islamic Hamas militant, Baker al-Assar, 20, died on Sunday as he was digging a tunnel under the border between Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt, Palestinian security sources reported. The tunnel collapsed due to heavy rain.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: Syria and Iran Violating UN Arms Embargo in Lebanon - Edith M. Lederer
    U.S. Ambassador John Bolton accused Syria and Iran on Monday of trying to destabilize Lebanon's democratically elected government by violating a UN arms embargo. Terje Roed-Larsen, the top UN envoy for Syria-Lebanon issues, said representatives of the Lebanese government "have stated publicly and also in conversations with us that there has been arms coming across the border into Lebanon." Roed-Larsen also said there had been 14 assassinations and assassination attempts in Lebanon since the February 2005 killing of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also U.S.: Israel Has Implemented Lebanon Cease-Fire "Fully and Faithfully" - George Salibi
    In an interview with New TV in Lebanon on Friday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch said: "Israel has not been in any part of Lebanon since the year 2000, when it withdrew...and that withdrawal was confirmed by the UN....There is a disagreement as to whether a certain part of Lebanon - Shebaa - is actually Lebanese or Syrian territory. The way to resolve that is for Lebanon and Syria to agree on the delineation and then the demarcation of the border in that area, so that everybody will understand whether it's Lebanese or Syrian. And then that matter can be addressed, depending on what the outcome is."
        "What happened...on July 12 is what changed the situation. Hizballah attacked across the border - not in the Shebaa Farms area, by the way, in another area - and this intervention into Israel brought about the conflict....I believe that [UN] Resolution 1701 [that was passed to bring a cessation of hostilities] is being implemented fully and faithfully by Israel." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • U.S. Blames Iran, Syria for Iraq Violence - Paul Holmes
    American Ambassador in Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey linked Iran and Syria with al-Qaeda on Tuesday as forces trying to tear Iraq apart and prevent the U.S. from establishing a stable democracy. Al-Qaeda and Iraq's "foreign rivals" were trying to tear the Iraqi people apart along sectarian lines, Khalilzad said, naming Iran and Syria as countries that "cynically support rival groups involved in the violence." (Reuters/ABC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Olmert: IDF to Expand Gaza Operations to Prevent Arms Smuggling - Josh Brannon and Sheera Claire Frenkel
    Israel plans to expand its military offensive in the Gaza Strip to prevent arms smuggling along the porous Egypt-Gaza border, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, but he stressed the operation would not lead to a reoccupation of Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF to Expand Gaza Operations - Hanan Greenberg
    The IDF is planning another, broader operation in Gaza in the coming days. "The Gaza Strip appears relatively quiet, except for a few Kassam [rocket] attacks each day, but under the surface the motivation of the terror groups to carry out attacks remained very high," explained a senior army official. The Southern Command is concerned about several troubling scenarios, including a terror attack in an Israeli community located close to the Gaza border, to which terrorists will infiltrate through a tunnel. (Ynet News)
  • Fatah Gunman Hijacks Money Distribution to West Bank Palestinians - Amira Hass
    A well-known Fatah figure affiliated with the al-Aqsa Brigade walked into a Nablus post office branch two weeks ago as the clerks were distributing the allowances of bereaved families, after months during which such payments had been frozen. Suddenly the Fatah figure, who was carrying a rifle, demanded that the clerk hand him the allowances of some 60 families in cash. He told people there that they could come to him and receive their money. How can Fatah reassert its authority over Palestinians in the territories if it cannot even protect the public from those who present themselves as Fatah men? (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • On Iran, Toothless Diplomacy - Benny Avni
    Oddsmakers say the UN Security Council will agree on sanctions for Iran sometime in November, but the proposed sanctions have little punitive value. Too many countries fear confronting petroleum-producing Iran, which can retaliate by canceling contracts or wreaking terrorist havoc, as it did in Argentina in 1994. Passing a sanctions resolution against Iran is by itself an important symbolic act. But if symbolism is the goal, other measures might be more meaningful. Elie Wiesel has proposed revoking Iran's membership on the grounds that it violated the UN charter by calling for the elimination of a member state. The goal of such suggestions is to isolate and hurt the mullahs where it counts: Persian national pride and the sense of superiority that so far has soared after each announcement of a nuclear advance. (New York Sun)
  • Egypt: Center for the Arab Hate Industry
    Egypt continues as a center for the publication of crude anti-Semitic literature encouraging hatred for Israel, the Jewish people and the West, and in effect justifying the use of violence against them. At the International Book Fair in Qatar in December 2005, anti-Semitic texts published in Egypt claimed that the Jews are responsible for all the ills of the world, denied the Holocaust, and used early Islamic traditions to "prove" that the Jews have always betrayed and plotted against Arabs. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
  • Managing Conflict: Can Religion Succeed Where Politics Has Failed? An Israeli Addresses a Global Peace Forum in Malaysia - Ben Mollov
    I was the sole Israeli participating in a Global Peace Forum held in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I had the opportunity to address over 1,000 predominantly Muslim Malaysians. The cultures of Japan, China, and South Asia, along with the Arab world, are the most prominent examples of collectivist cultures with an emphasis on respect, where establishing trust and viable relationships usually must precede discussion of concrete issues, while many European societies, the U.S., and Israel are examples of societies in which the dominant ethos is individualistic and "getting to the bottom line" as quickly as possible is considered a virtue. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Egypt's Obligation - Editorial (Ha'aretz)

    • The security annex of the peace treaty with Egypt states that Israel has the right to hold military forces, of specific type and numbers, along the border between Gaza and Egypt. During the 2005 evacuation of the Gaza Strip, Israel essentially relinquished this right, transforming it into an expectation that the PA and Egypt would secure the border and the Philadelphi Route that runs alongside it.
    • This expectation was based on the assumption that Egypt would be willing and capable of preventing the transit of goods and people posing a threat to the security of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, who is on the defensive against the Muslim Brotherhood at home and their al-Qaeda supporters from beyond.
    • However, this expectation proved to be a disappointment. Egypt is not making a sufficient effort to seal its border, which is breached along its walls and tunnels below.
    • Meanwhile, the rampant smuggling of rockets intended to strike at Israeli communities and missiles aimed against IDF tanks and aircraft continues. The smuggling is pushing the IDF to recommend an extensive operation in Gaza before the arms build-up reaches a scale similar to Hizballah in Lebanon.
    • The key to the crisis is in Cairo. Egypt must wake up and turn the key that closes the gate against weapons and explosives smuggling into Gaza before the IDF rushes in and breaks the lock.

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