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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
February 2, 2011

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Video: Gaza Rocket Explodes near Israeli Wedding (Ynet News)
    Watch security camera footage of a Grad rocket fired from Gaza that barely missed wedding festivities in Netivot on Monday.

Peace Is in Egypt's Interest - Avi Trengo (Ynet News)
    In the Middle East there are no friends - all we have is interests - and peace with Israel is a supreme interest for the Egyptian people and for the ruler who will succeed Mubarak.
    About a million babies are born in Egypt every nine months. One third of Egypt's exports are in the form of tourism services, which have now plummeted to zero.
    Another 10% are exports to the U.S. that are mostly premised on the free trade agreements via Israel.
    Whoever rules Egypt will need these exports.

Leaked Cable Tells of 3 Undisclosed Members of 9/11 Plot - Peter Finn and Julie Tate (Washington Post)
    A newly released U.S. diplomatic cable discloses the existence of previously undisclosed participants in the Sep. 11, 2001, plot: a group of Qatari men who conducted surveillance of targets in New York and the Washington area before leaving the U.S. on the eve of the attacks.
    The cable, sent on Feb. 11, 2010, from the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, and made public by WikiLeaks, recommended that Mohamed al-Mansoori from the United Arab Emirates, who lived in Long Beach, Calif., in Sep. 2001, be added to a government watch list as a threat to civil aviation in the U.S. and abroad.
    Mansoori assisted the three Qataris - identified as Meshal Alhajri, Fahad Abdulla and Ali Alfehaid - while they were in the U.S.

Tunisia Synagogue Set Alight by Arsonists (Reuters)
    A synagogue was set on fire by arsonists in the Tunisian city of Ghabes, a spokesman for the Jewish community said on Tuesday.

Yemeni Jewish Child Kidnapped (Yemen Post)
    Yameen Ameran Al-Nahari, 8, a Yemeni Jewish child, was kidnapped from Reda district in Amran province on Saturday.
    Sources said the kidnapping was done to pressure the Jewish community to forgive Abdul-Aziz Al-Abdi, who shot dead a Jewish citizen, Mashaa Yehiya bin Yaeesh Al-Nahari.

Mortal Blow to Mubarak's Reign - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
    One of the big problems in Egypt today is the absence of an instantly recognizable leader of the opposition to the regime.
    The most organized opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood, but the seizure of power by Islamists could trigger a civil war. Parts of the army and police are sure to rebel against any government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
    A good slice of the urban middle class would also be unwilling to risk the fate of their counterparts in Iran.
    At the same time, Egyptian Christians, the Copts, who account for almost 15 million people, would not be happy to live under the sharia that regards them as second-class citizens.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Mubarak Pledges Not to Run for Reelection, Plans to Remain in Office to Transfer Power - Griff Witte
    President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt promised Tuesday that he would relinquish power after elections this fall, his most significant concession yet to an extraordinary public uprising. But the gesture failed to quiet demands from Egyptian opposition leaders and pro-democracy demonstrators that Mubarak step down immediately, while President Obama insisted that a transition to democracy in Egypt "must begin now."  (Washington Post)
  • Jordan's King Abdullah Shuffles Cabinet, But Few See an Egypt in the Making - Nicholas Seeley
    After weeks of intermittent street protests, Jordan’s King Abdullah II has sacked his cabinet and called for the formation of a new government led by Maarouf Al Bakhit, a career military man. The new government is also tasked with implementing political reforms. The protests in Jordan seem much more heavily weighted towards economic issues. None have ventured to criticize the king, who retains broad popularity in Jordan. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Senators Reject Call to Cut Israel Aid
    Six Senate Democrats are rejecting a deficit-driven proposal by freshman Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky to cut U.S. aid to Israel. In a letter Tuesday to the top House Republicans on the Appropriations and Budget committees, the Democrats said aid to Israel, the only democratic nation in the Middle East, is imperative. Signing the letter were Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Robert Casey (Pa.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). (AP-Forbes)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Hopes to Maintain Peace with Egypt
    In talks with diplomatic officials Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that Israel's interest is maintaining the peace with Egypt. Israel believes that the international community must insist that any Egyptian government maintain the peace treaty with Israel. Israel is a democracy and supports the advance of liberal and democratic values in the Middle East. The advancement of those values is good for peace. But if extremist forces are allowed to exploit democratic processes to come to power to advance anti-democratic goals - as has happened in Iran and elsewhere - the outcome will be bad for peace and bad for democracy. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Hamas Worried Upheaval in Arab World Will Spill into Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas leaders in Gaza are concerned about the effects of the upheaval in the Arab world, as Facebook messages call on Gaza residents to demonstrate against Hamas rule on Friday.
        Another Facebook group is calling for protests against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. To hold off possible demonstrations, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the PA will hold municipal elections in the near future. If Mubarak steps down in Egypt, this will be a political blow for PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Mubarak is considered the informal patron of the PA. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Syrians Call for Protests on Facebook and Twitter - Elizabeth A. Kennedy (AP)
        See also Yemeni President Vows to Step Down after Term Expires (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Is ElBaradei a "Donkey of the Revolution"? - Dore Gold
    Initially, the Muslim Brotherhood was very low-key during the crisis in Egypt. Yet since January 28, its involvement has become more prominent with its support of Mohamed ElBaradei to lead the opposition forces against the government. In the streets of Cairo, Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators disdainfully call people like ElBaradei "donkeys of the revolution" - to be used and then pushed away - a scenario that sees the Muslim Brotherhood exploit ElBaradei in order to hijack the Egyptian revolution at a later stage. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also ElBaradei: From Multilateral Bureaucrat to Populist Patriot - Colum Lynch
    Former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei's sudden emergence as a national consensus figure has caught many international observers by surprise. Marc Lynch, an associate professor at George Washington University who was briefed by White House officials, said ElBaradei is "extremely well placed to reassure all constituencies which need reassuring that he is not likely to stick around forever and be the next Mubarak."
        ElBaradei is a virtual political unknown inside Egypt. Observers say his political performance in recent weeks, while generating widespread attention from international media, did little to secure a grassroots following, though his standing was boosted when the regime briefly placed him under house arrest last week. "There was not a lot of excitement when he showed up," says Michael Wahid Hanna, an expert on Egypt at the Century Foundation. "He's not a populist leader; he's not charismatic."  (Foreign Policy)
        See also ElBaradei and the Generals - Benny Avni
    ElBaradei may be the least bad option to ensure that Egypt doesn't fall into the hands of fanatical Islamist forces the way Iran did 30 years ago. ElBaradei, who recently returned to Egypt, has no ties to the half-million-man Egyptian army - which is built with American money and support and run by generals with close ties to their Pentagon counterparts. The U.S. may want to secretly facilitate a meeting: "Mohamed, say hello to Gens. Tantawi and Enan. Generals, this is ElBaradei. Now play nice, be friends and we'll continue our support of Egypt - which, as you know, can't feed its people without our help. Without us, you may become the next victim of the street crowds."  (New York Post)
  • Democratic Outcome in Egypt Is Far from Inevitable - Charles Krauthammer
    It's important that there be a transition that is not out of control. What we hope to see happen, or help to happen, is that the military - which is a respected institution - stays in control. It doesn't matter if it's Mubarak - likely not him - or Suleiman or another that the army will trust, but the army becomes the guardian of the state. It arranges for six or eight months' preparation for an open, fair election which will allow the democrats in Egypt - who are now unorganized, disorganized and disunited - to be able to put up opposition against the Muslim Brotherhood, who are ruthless, organized and ready. (RealClearPolitics)
  • Israel on Shifting Sands - Walter Russell Mead
    As the world watches the unpredictable turmoil in Egypt, no country is paying closer attention than Israel. The peace treaty between the two states is the most important result of 40 years of negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and is still the cornerstone of any lasting settlement to this dispute. Is Israel going to be once again isolated and friendless in a hostile Middle East? If a radical regime emerges in Egypt that repudiates the peace treaty, supports violence by Hamas or in other ways threatens Israel's security, the Obama administration will likely draw closer to Israel in response to majority sentiment and the political winds.
        The consolidation of a reasonably moderate and democratic government in Egypt, the cultural capital of the Arab world, could put the region, and the world, on the road to a more durable peace. A radical victory could drive a wedge not only between Israel and the Arab world, but deepen the divide between the West and the whole Islamic world. (Politico)
  • Being Hosni Mubarak - Bret Stephens
    Imagine yourself as Hosni Mubarak, master of Egypt for nearly 30 years. You've been watching the demonstrators - the way they dress, the way they shave. On Sunday, in Tahrir Square, you could tell right away that most were from the Muslim Brotherhood, though they were taking care not to chant the usual Islamic slogans. They want you to relinquish power to them?
        What unites the protesters is anger. But anger is an emotion, not a strategy, much less a political agenda. If the Brotherhood has its way, Egypt will become a Sunni theocracy modeled on Iran. If the democracy activists have theirs, it'll be a weak parliamentary system, incapable of exercising authority over the army and a cat's paw for a Brotherhood that knows its revolutionary history. (Wall Street Journal)

Israel, Alone Again? - Yossi Klein Halevi (New York Times)

  • Israelis want to rejoice over the outbreak of protests in Egypt's city squares. Perhaps, they say, the poisonous reflex of blaming the Jewish state for the Middle East's ills will be replaced by an honest self-assessment. But instead, the grim assumption is that it is just a matter of time before the only real opposition group in Egypt, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, takes power.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood has long stated its opposition to peace with Israel and has pledged to revoke the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty if it comes into power. An Islamist Egypt could produce the ultimate Israeli nightmare: living in a country surrounded by Iran's allies or proxies. The Brotherhood and its offshoots have been the main purveyors of the Muslim world's widespread conspiracy theories about the Jews.
  • Israelis understand that the end of their conflict with the Arab world depends in large part on the durability of the peace with Egypt. Israelis now worry that this fragile opening to the Arab world is about to close.

    The writer is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and a contributing editor to The New Republic.

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