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December 21, 2009

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Hamas Aids Foreign Lawyers Trying to Prosecute Israelis (AFP)
    A committee set up by the Hamas government is providing information to European lawyers investigating alleged war crimes by Israel in the Gaza war, its director, Diya al-Madhun, said on Sunday.
    "We provide documents, reports and evidence of crimes to all international bodies aiding the Palestinian people in bringing Israeli civilian and military leaders to trial and issuing warrants for their arrest," he told AFP.
    He added, however, that the foreign lawyers acted independently and were not hired by Hamas.

Police Expect Mumbai-Style Terror Attack on London - David Leppard (Sunday Times-UK)
    Scotland Yard has warned businesses in London to expect a Mumbai-style attack. In a briefing earlier this month, a senior detective from SO15, the Metropolitan police counter-terrorism command, said: "Mumbai is coming to London."
    The detective said companies should anticipate a shooting and hostage-taking raid "involving a small number of gunmen with handguns and improvised explosive devices."
    Officials now report an increase in "intelligence chatter" - captured by electronic eavesdropping agencies.
    One senior security adviser said: "Before, there has been speculation. Now we are getting what appears to be a definite plot to carry out a firearms attack on London."

North Korean Arms Seized by Thailand Were Iran-Bound - Daniel Michaels and Margaret Coker (Wall Street Journal)
    A plane loaded with weapons from North Korea that was recently impounded in Bangkok was bound for Iran, according to documents obtained by arms-trafficking experts.
    A question still unanswered is who organized the weapons shipment. It appears the planners went to great lengths to hide their identities.

Indian Official Warns of Terror Attacks in Goa - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Pakistani terror groups are planning attacks against tourist sites frequented by Israelis, British and Americans in Goa, Indian Home Minister Rabvi Navik warned on Friday.
    "Available intelligence inputs indicate that a strong desire is entertained by various Pakistan-based terrorist groups to indulge in spectacular violence in Goa," Navik said.

Man Jailed in UK Belt Bomb Plot Against Jews - Jonathan Kalmus (London Jewish Chronicle)
    Krena Lusha, 30, from Derby, an Albanian Muslim who wanted to see Jews killed, has been convicted of terror offenses and jailed for seven years on Tuesday after Hizbullah instruction manuals on making missiles and suicide bomb belts were found in his home.
    On Lusha's computer were video clips of live beheadings of hostages or prisoners, exploded U.S. military vehicles and ideological material from organizations promoting violent jihad. He told people on a chat-line that he wanted to see Jews and Americans killed.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Mullen, Axelrod See New Iran Sanctions - Anne Gearan
    Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday: "I think signals are very clearly in the air that another set of sanctions [on Iran], another resolution, that that's coming....I grow increasingly concerned that the Iranians have been non-responsive." Meanwhile in Washington, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod told ABC's "This Week" that time was running out for Iran to cooperate: "I think that the world is united and is willing to take additional steps if the Iranians don't turn around....Plainly, there are going to be consequences if they don't turn around," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Petraeus: UAE's Air Force Could Take Out Iran's - Josh Rogin
    U.S. Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus said last week that the United Arab Emirates, a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, has the capability to overpower Iran's Air Force. "The Emirati Air Force itself could take out the entire Iranian Air Force, I believe, given that it's got...somewhere around 70 Block 60 F-16 fighters, which are better than the U.S. F-16 fighters," Petraeus said during a conference in Bahrain put on by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. (Foreign Policy)
  • Most Arabs See Iran as Bigger Threat than Israel - Digby Lidstone
    At the official level, relations between Iran and the leaders of neighboring Arab states tend to be polite without being warm. But beneath the surface, suspicion of Iran has deepened markedly. A survey by YouGov, commissioned by Qatar's Doha Debates and published last week, found that on the Arab side 80% do not believe Iran's assurances that it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons. The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 people in 18 Arab countries last month, found that most see Iran as a bigger threat to security than Israel. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also below Observations: The Eclipsing of the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Michael J. Totten (Commentary)
  • Obama Ordered U.S. Military Strike on Yemen Terrorists - Brian Ross, Richard Esposito, and Matthew Cole
    On orders from President Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News. One of the targeted sites was a suspected al-Qaeda training camp north of the capital, Sanaa, and the second target was a location where officials said "an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned."  (ABC News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: "Egypt Should Fear Iran More than We Do
    After meeting Sunday with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that "Egypt has more to fear from Iran than we do." "The greatest danger in the Middle East today is Iran, which is a greater threat to moderate Arab nations than to Israel." Tehran is "attempting to duplicate the model of Hizbullah in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lebanese PM's Trip to Damascus Marks Victory for Assad - Roee Nahmias
    Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's meeting with Bashar Assad in Syria on Saturday constitutes a great achievement for the Syrian president, as well as surrender by the head of Lebanon's anti-Syrian camp. Al-Hariri embarked on his political career immediately upon his father's assassination in February 2005, uniting his camp against Damascus. He spoke out against Assad and accused him of "trading in blood." Ever since the assassination, the al-Hariri camp has been expecting the international report on the killing to convict Assad. Yet by now choosing to travel to Damascus, Hariri pledged allegiance to Assad and granted Syria the kosher stamp allowing it to again rule Lebanon. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Not Worried by Syria-Lebanon Alliance - David Harris
    "The idea that Lebanon is free from Syria and its government is pro-American is just not serious," said Eyal Zisser, the director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. The fact that Hariri, who was the head of the anti-Syrian camp, paid a visit to Damascus is proof of this, Zisser added. Guy Bechor, who heads the Middle East Studies Division at Israel's Interdisciplinary Center, said, "It shows Lebanese politics can't function without Syria." It also points to an inherent fear of Syria on Lebanon's part, he added.
        In Zisser's opinion, Hariri is not taken particularly seriously by Israel. The Israeli government is far more concerned by Hizbullah, which is backed by Syria and Iran. The real reason for Hariri's trip is that he is building on Syria to ensure his own political survival, said Zisser. The Shiites in Lebanon, headed by Hizbullah, are becoming increasingly strong and Hariri needs to ensure his own position by building a close bond with Syria. (Xinhua-China)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Enduring Iran-Syria-Hizbullah Axis - Michael Rubin
    The Obama administration has reached out diplomatically to both Syria and Iran in the belief that a less confrontational approach to conflict resolution might lead the two states to reconsider their rejectionist behavior. It has not worked. While Tehran and Damascus may welcome the incentives inherent in U.S. engagement, both states continue to use proxies to pursue radical aims and undercut stability. Iran may be Hizbullah's chief patron, but Syria is the lynchpin that makes Iranian support for foreign fighters possible. While Israel may be the immediate target of the Iran-Syria nexus, the partnership threatens broader U.S. interests.
        Syria's continued support for terrorists and other foreign fighters undermines any diplomatic gains the U.S. achieves. Because of Syria, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 has failed to prevent Hizbullah's rearmament. Recent reports that Iran transshipped gas masks and chemical weapons through Syria to Hizbullah should only heighten concern. Given both the circumstances and the stakes, it is ironic that U.S. officials continue to accept the fiction of Syrian sincerity. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. (Middle East Forum)
  • Preserving a Legal Inheritance: Jewish Settlement Rights in the "Occupied Palestinian Territories" - Gerald Adler
    Israel's presence on the West Bank dates from the 1967 Six-Day War. Taking strategic pre-emptive defensive action consistent with UN Charter article 51, Israel repelled a planned armed attack by the united forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Neither conventional nor customary international law requires Israel to withdraw from territory captured in a self-defense war until she and her opponents conclude a peace treaty.
        Israeli settlements barely account for more than 2% of the land area captured in 1967. As a result of the IDF troop withdrawal in accordance with Oslo II, Fatah and Hamas currently exercise personal jurisdiction over approximately 97% of the Arab population, as they do in respect of over 65% of the West Bank territory.
        Israel has an independent legal claim to occupy, and settle in, the West Bank territory, which can be traced through a number of international legal instruments. Article 6 of the Palestine Mandate of 1922 imposed a positive obligation on the British Mandate "to facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage...close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes."
        The Mandate has never been formally amended or repealed - and an undistributed part of the corpus of the trust continues to exist. The legal right of sovereignty over that unappropriated portion of the West Bank formerly held under Jordanian control remains in abeyance and the right thereto is in dispute. Until this issue is resolved, the Jewish people still have a legal right of settlement in that territory. (Law Society of Scotland)
        See also Israel's Settlements Are Legal - Geoffrey Alderman
    In the online journal of the Law Society of Scotland (Sep. 14, 2009), the distinguished Anglo-Canadian jurist, Professor Gerald Adler, offers a painstaking analysis of Jewish claims stretching back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Treaty of Sevres of 1920, and the Palestine Mandate of 1922. Professor Adler demonstrates that Jews have a right to "close settlement" on the West Bank, and that this right was specifically preserved and carried forward on the demise of the League of Nations, through the deliberate wording of article 80 of the founding charter of its successor body, the United Nations. (London Jewish Chronicle)
  • Observations:

    The Eclipsing of the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Michael J. Totten (Commentary)

    • According to a new study of public opinion by the folks who host the Doha Debates in Qatar, a clear majority in 18 Arab countries now thinks Iran poses a greater threat to security in the Middle East than Israel. The leadership in most of these countries has thought so for years. That average citizens now do so should be encouraging news for everyone in the region.
    • Some may find it hard to believe that so many Arabs think Iran is more threatening than Israel, but I don't. Leave aside the fact that Iran really is more threatening. Arabs and Persians have detested each other for more than a thousand years, ever since Arabs conquered premodern Iran and converted its people to Islam. The lasting ethnic enmity between the two is compounded by religious sectarianism. Most Arabs are Sunnis, most Persians are Shias, and Sunnis and Shias have been slugging it out with each other since the 8th century.
    • After the Iranian revolution against the Shah in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Republic exploded into the Arab Middle East with a campaign of imperialism and terrorism. Khomeini never concealed his ambition to lead the whole Muslim world, and the government he founded has been hammering the established Sunni Arab order with a battering ram ever since.
    • The Arab-Israeli conflict is a minor historical hiccup compared with the ancient feuds between Arabs and Persians, and Sunnis and Shias. It has barely lasted a fraction as long and has hardly killed anyone by comparison. Arabs and Persians killed hundreds of thousands of each other in the Iran-Iraq war alone in the 1980s. The civil war between Sunni and Shia militias in Baghdad a few years ago was much nastier than any of the Israeli-Palestinian wars.
    • It took time for all this to sink in with everyday Arab citizens. For a while, it looked like Iran, by supporting Hizbullah and Hamas against Israel, might actually pull off the most unlikely of coups in rallying the mass of Sunni Arabs in support of Persian Shia hegemony. But thanks to the Iranian government's stubborn insistence on developing nuclear weapons, the age-old strife between Persians and Arabs, and Shias and Sunnis, may finally be eclipsing the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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