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February 14, 2011

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Report: Malware Aimed at Iran Hit Five Sites - John Markoff (New York Times)
    The Stuxnet software worm repeatedly sought to infect five industrial facilities in Iran over a 10-month period, according to a report released Friday by Symantec, a computer security software firm.
    Liam Murchu, a security researcher at the firm, said his team was able to chart the path of the infection because Stuxnet recorded the location and type of each computer it infected.
    Such information would allow the authors of Stuxnet to determine if they had successfully reached their intended target.

Turkish Regime Sees Egypt Revolution as Opportunity for Repression, Islamism - Barry Rubin (Rubin Report)
    While all eyes are on Egypt, the Turkish government has pressed for more Islamization in Turkey and the strengthening of the Muslim Brotherhood there.
    Now it has arrested 162 more military officers on trumped-up charges as part of its long-term campaign to subordinate the army.
    Whatever happens in Egypt, the Islamist forces are on the march in the rest of the region and they definitely do not view events in Egypt as a setback for them.

Dutch Parliament Affirms Israel as Jewish State - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    113 of the 150 members of the Dutch parliament voted earlier this month to affirm Israelís existence as a Jewish, democratic state and to urge the EU not to recognize a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state.

Egypt Reportedly Losing Control of Sinai to Bedouin - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Concern is mounting in Israel over reports that the Egyptian police force has abandoned the Sinai Peninsula in face of growing Bedouin violence, and that the territory will turn into a breeding ground for global jihad.
    Egyptian police authorities have abandoned dozens of police stations throughout the peninsula after they were attacked by Bedouin armed with missiles and assault rifles.
    This concern was behind Israel's decision two weeks ago to allow the deployment of 800 additional Egyptian soldiers in Sharm e-Sheikh and Rafah.
    "Sinai is already known as a lawless land," a senior Israeli defense official said. "There is real concern that if the Egyptians don't get Sinai back under their control, it could develop into a major threat to Israel."
    Israel has urged all its citizens to leave Sinai immediately.

Ron Prosor Named Israel's UN Ambassador - Attila Somfalvi (Ynet News)
    Israel's Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor has been named as Israel's next UN envoy.

Greek PM Promises to Help Israel Get Closer to EU (European Jewish Press)
    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has promised to help Israel get closer ties with the EU and gain access to European markets, in a meeting Thursday with a visiting delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
    The Greek prime minister also said Greece would use its influence to call on Egypt to continue to observe its peace agreements with Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egyptian Military Disbands Parliament, Suspends Constitution - Raja Abdulrahim, Ned Parker and Jeffrey Fleishman
    Egypt's military disbanded the country's parliament and suspended the constitution on Sunday, saying it will rule for six months or until presidential and parliamentary elections are held, according to a statement by the military council read on state television. The announcement came two days after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel and New Egyptian Leadership Make Contact - Jeffrey Heller
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's Higher Military Council, spoke by telephone on Saturday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday welcomed the pledge by Egypt's military leadership that it would respect all the country's international treaties. (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Sees Egypt's Tantawi as Resistant to Change - David Alexander and Phil Stewart
    Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Higher Military Council that took control of Egypt on Friday, has spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates by telephone five times since the crisis began. U.S. officials see him as an ally committed to avoiding another war with Israel but have in the past portrayed him privately as being resistant to political and economic reform. (Reuters)
  • Egypt Envoy to U.S.: Peace in Our Interest - Christiane Amanpour
    Egyptian ambassador to Washington Sameh Shoukry was asked on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday: Do you believe in the future the peace treaty with Israel will stand? Shoukry replied: "I do believe so. The treaty has been beneficial to Egypt over the last 30 years or more. We have derived a peace dividend from the treaty. We've been able to establish security and stability in the region. And I believe it is a main element in terms of our foreign policy."  (ABC News)
        See also Egyptian Opposition Figure: Revise Israel Peace Treaty - Roee Nahmias
    After the Egyptian army stressed it was committed to observing all of Egypt's international treaties, opposition leader Ayman Nour told a Lebanese radio station Sunday that Egypt "is a great country and must respect its agreements. As for Camp David - this is a unique issue with unique aspects - the people will decide on this matter." "For all intents and purposes, Camp David is over, because it is an old treaty and its terms must be improved in a way that will correspond with Egypt's interests," said Nour, who is considered one of the more liberal opposition figures. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Vows to Oppose UN Resolution on Israel
    The U.S. will use "the tools that we have" to block a resolution condemning Israeli settlements, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told the House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday. "We have made very clear that we do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues," he said. Steinberg also told the lawmakers that Washington was making a vigorous diplomatic campaign to stop countries from declaring their recognition of an independent Palestinian state, as several Latin American nations have done. "We have made very clear to a lot of countries...that we think this is counterproductive."  (AFP)
        See also U.S. Says Won't Let Mideast Change Threaten Israel
    Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told lawmakers that the U.S. is committed to ensuring that political changes in the Middle East, including unrest in Egypt, do not threaten Israel. Whatever government emerges in Egypt in the future must "honor Egypt's historic peace treaty with Israel," he said. "We are committed to ensuring that political changes on Israel's borders do not create new dangers for Israel or the region."  (Reuters)
  • IAEA: Iran Still Steadily Producing Uranium - Lally Weymouth
    Yukia Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was interviewed last week in Vienna:
    Q: Many believe that Iran carried out nuclear weapons research in the past, including work on weaponization....Do you agree with this?
    A: We receive information from various countries and collect information from our own sources that give us concern over the possible use of nuclear materials for military purposes - in the past and perhaps now.
    Q: How badly was Iran's centrifuge program affected by the [Stuxnet cyber] worm from 2009?
    A: Iran is somehow producing uranium enriched to 3.5% and 20%. They are producing it steadily, constantly.
    Q: The amount of enriched uranium has not been affected?
    A: The production is very steady.
    Q: You said the worm didn't do Iran much damage, that they have enough material to build a nuclear weapon if they stockpile low-enriched uranium?
    A: I can say they have well over 3,000 kilograms of enriched uranium of 3.5% and it is increasing.
    Q: So they are stockpiling it?
    A: Yes. A Security Council resolution asks Iran to suspend [enrichment]. But contrary to this resolution they keep doing it. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Quiet Military Coup Was Behind Mubarak's Resignation - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after what appears to have been a quiet military coup. After Mubarak's Thursday night address in which he announced he was transferring his powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman but would not resign, Egyptian military leaders, anticipating the anger of the protesters, told Mubarak that if he did not step down voluntarily the army would force him out. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Fears Palestinian Elections Could Expose Its Waning Popularity - Avi Issacharoff
    The secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Abed Rabbo, announced that the PA plans to hold parliamentary and presidential elections before September. But Hamas, which holds power in Gaza, immediately said it would move to prevent such a vote from taking place in its territory. "We will not confer legitimacy to these elections, nor will we recognize their results," said Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum. Hamas fears it could lose its grip on Gaza in an election as its popularity wanes relative to Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Upsides of Egypt's Revolution - Jackson Diehl
    Imagine an Egypt that consistently opposes the West in international forums while relentlessly campaigning against Israel. A government that seeds its media with vile anti-Semitism and locks relations with Israel in a cold freeze. A regime that allows Hamas to import tons of munitions and Iranian rockets into Gaza.
        That would be the government of Hosni Mubarak - the same one that the U.S. propped up with tens of billions of dollars in aid, at the cost of tarnishing America's image. If Egypt now makes a transition to genuine democracy, its foreign policy might not get much better from Washington's point of view. But it is unlikely to get worse. (Washington Post)
  • In Post-Mubarak Egypt, the Rebirth of the Arab World - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
    The Arab world is dead. Egypt's revolution is trying to revive it. Other than to wait and see what others might do, Arab regimes have no clear and effective approach toward any of the issues vital to their collective future. Long before Tahrir Square, Egypt forfeited any claim to Arab leadership. Al-Jazeera has emerged as a full-fledged political actor because it reflects and articulates popular sentiment. It has become the new Nasser. The leader of the Arab world is a television network.
        Injecting economic assistance into faltering regimes will not work. The grievance Arab peoples feel is not principally material, and one of its main targets is over-reliance on the outside. U.S. calls for reform will likewise fall flat. A messenger who has backed the status quo for decades is a poor voice for change.
        Some policymakers in Western capitals have convinced themselves that seizing the moment to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will placate public opinion. This is to engage in both denial and wishful thinking. It ignores that Arabs have become estranged from current peace efforts; they believe that such endeavors reflect a foreign rather than a national agenda. And it presumes that a peace agreement acceptable to the West and to Arab leaders will be acceptable to the Arab public, when in truth, it is more likely to be seen as an unjust imposition and denounced as the liquidation of a cherished cause. (Washington Post)
  • End of an Era in Egypt - Zvi Mazel
    During the 1920s, '30s and '40s, Egypt experienced a similar period when, under the leadership of the Wafd Party, liberal democracy was introduced. However, the democracy was fragile and was accompanied by violence from the Muslim Brotherhood and fascist groups. The current revolution has released radical forces as well, who found it difficult to operate under Mubarak's regime, like the Muslim Brotherhood, Nasserists, and leftists. One can expect that under the guise of the victory of the revolution and the beginning of the democratization process, these groups will do everything to strengthen themselves and become part of the ruling powers. The Brotherhood is acting cautiously and will wait patiently for the right moment. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Sharansky: Maybe This Is the Moment to Put Our Trust in Freedom - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

25 years ago, Natan Sharansky, icon of the struggle to liberate Soviet Jewry, walked to freedom across Berlin's Glienicke Bridge. He said in an interview published Friday:

  • "There was a big change in my life, when I switched from being a loyal Soviet citizen to becoming a dissident; from a double-thinker to a dissident." "There is a very critical moment, which is called revolution. When does it happen? When suddenly big masses of double-thinkers - not one, not two - go over to dissent. It's like boiling water, when it reaches 100 degrees."
  • "Now, if that moment [is missed, and] it goes back, it will immediately disappear. That's what happened in Iran [when the demonstrations erupted and then faded after the 2009 elections]. Some of the people - big student organizations, trade unions - felt that they could go to the barricades. And millions more were sitting and waiting, with all this Facebook and Internet. But then, at that moment, the leader of the free world indicated that for the U.S., engagement with the regime was more important than changing the regime. And immediately, it all collapsed."
  • "Ten years ago, in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would have had 10% support. Today they say they have 25 or 30%. Who knows what it will be in 10 years if things don't change. People are unhappy. The only alternative to that unhappiness has been the Muslim Brotherhood. The free world has been helping to destroy any democratic alternative. So it is good that this is all happening now in Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood is not strong enough."
  • "And secondly, it is good that it is happening in an Egypt that gets the second biggest foreign aid package from the United States [after Israel]. America has a lot of leverage. A lot of linkage for any future Egyptian leader. Whoever will be the leader of Egypt, if he wants to solve problems, he will be very dependent on the free world. He will not go to Iran for help."
  • "If the free world makes clear that our help is tied to democratic reforms, there is a chance finally to start building a drive forward. This [untenable] pact between the free world and a bunch of dictators ostensibly bringing us stability was not broken by the free world. It was broken by the people in the streets. We have to go with this. This is the chance. I hope America will take it."
  • "The role of the free world is that there must be real cooperation with this desire of people not to live in fear. Whoever these people are. Even if they are anti-Semites and grew up in the traditional thinking of killing Jews. It's not about us and them. It's about them and their leaders."
  • "Some leaders of the free world...are coming to us and saying, 'This is the time to make concessions.' This simply shows that they really don't understand what's going on. I mean, to whom to make concessions? The people in the streets of Egypt, or to dictators whose days are numbered? This is the moment not to speak of concessions with Abu Mazen, but to start building bottom-up peace, and finally bring democracy to the Palestinians."

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