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June 27, 2011

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Jamaat e Islami of Pakistan and Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt Join Hands (Dawn-Pakistan)
    The Muslim political party Jamaat e Islami of Pakistan and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt on Wednesday decided to join hands to solve issues faced by Muslims all over the world and to promote the true image of Islam.
    The leadership of the two parties made the announcement at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday. A JI delegation, led by the JI chief Syed Munawar Hasan, is currently on a four-day visit to Egypt at the invitation of Muslim Brotherhood chief Dr. Muhammad Badei.

Attacks on Syrian Protesters Leave 20 Dead - Alexandra Sandels (Los Angeles Times)
    Syrian security officers opened fire on protesters Friday, leaving as many as 20 dead, as people poured into the streets across the nation in defiance of President Bashar Assad.
    Large demonstrations were reported in the central cities of Homs and Hama, the suburbs of Damascus, the mainly Kurdish city of Qamishli in the north, and the eastern oil hub of Dair Alzour.

Delta Denies Jewish Discrimination Claims - (CNN)
    Delta Air Lines on Friday denied online claims that it is discriminating against Jewish passengers through a multi-airline alliance that is set to include Saudi Arabian Airlines.
    Delta said it does not operate in Saudi Arabia, nor does it sell Delta seats on flights operated by other carriers that serve that country.
    Delta's agreement with the Saudi carrier allows passengers to book tickets on multiple airlines "similar to the standard interline agreements American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have with Saudi Arabian Airlines," the airline said in a statement.

New Cracks Form in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - Maggie Michael (AP)
    The new political openness in post-revolutionary Egypt is taking a toll on the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Several factions - most recently several young members - have already broken away to form new parties to rival the Brotherhood's main Freedom and Justice Party.
    The latest breakaway party is spearheaded by members of the Brotherhood's so-called "reformist" camp, which announced Sunday they were forming a separate bloc called al-Riyada, Arabic for "The Pioneers."
    See also Egypt's New Political Alliance Could Boost the Islamists - Eric Trager (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    June 21 saw the second meeting of the National Democratic Alliance for Egypt, with fourteen smaller parties agreeing to join the coalition's founders, the Muslim Brotherhood's newly formed Freedom and Justice Party and the liberal Wafd Party.
    Anti-Western foreign policy views are uniting parties with wildly divergent views on domestic issues.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Warns Against New Gaza Flotilla
    U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement Friday: "Groups that seek to break Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers," adding that there were established ways to move humanitarian aid to Gaza. "We urge all those seeking to provide such assistance to the people of Gaza to use these mechanisms, and not to participate in actions like the planned flotilla."
        "We underscore that delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration."  (Reuters)
        See also Israel, Egypt Agree Flotilla Can Unload Cargo in El-Arish - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    Israel and Egypt have come to an understanding that ships taking part in an upcoming flotilla to Gaza will be allowed to unload their cargo at the Egyptian port of El-Arish, from where it will be transferred on land to Gaza after being checked, Israel Radio reported on Monday. The Israeli government has declared that the flotilla, scheduled to arrive later this week, will not be allowed to enter Gaza by sea. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Building Boom in Gaza - Ethan Bronner
    Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. As pro-Palestinian activists prepare to set sail aboard a flotilla to Gaza, the Palestinian coastal enclave is experiencing its first real period of economic growth since the siege they are protesting began in 2007. "The siege on goods is now 60 to 70% over," said Jamal El-Khoudary, chairman of the board of the Islamic University, who has led Gaza's Popular Committee Against the Siege.
        Gaza has never been among the world's poorest places. There is near universal literacy, relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than in much of the developing world. Hundreds of BMWs, pickup trucks and other vehicles have arrived in recent months from Libya, while dozens of white Kia Sportage models are widely thought to have come from the same looted dealership in Benghazi. (New York Times)
  • Iran Woos U.S. Allies as Troops Withdraw - Jay Solomon
    Iran is moving to cement ties with the leaders of three key American allies - Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq - highlighting Tehran's efforts to take a greater role in the region as the U.S. military pulls out troops. The Afghan and Pakistani presidents, visiting Tehran, discussed with Iranian President Ahmadinejad "many issues...that might come up after the NATO military force goes out of Afghanistan," Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi said Sunday. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Hizbullah Moving Arms from Syria to Lebanon, Fearing Assad's Fall - Barak Ravid and Amos Harel
    In recent weeks Hizbullah has moved hundreds of missiles from storage sites in Syria to bases in eastern Lebanon, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported Saturday. Hizbullah moved the missiles over fears that a successor to the failing regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad could sever ties with the organization. A Western expert is quoted as saying efforts have been made to send as much weaponry as possible to Lebanon before the fall of the Assad regime. Intelligence agencies have monitored the movement of trucks from the Syrian border to Lebanon's Bekaa region containing long-range Iranian Zilzal, Fajr-3 and Fajr-4 missiles. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Isolates Imprisoned Senior Hamas Operatives - Elior Levy
    In response to kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's continued imprisonment, Israel has placed at least seven imprisoned senior Hamas operatives in solitary confinement, sources confirmed. Israel aims to prevent contact between the Hamas inmates who will be scattered in separate wings or different facilities. They will not be allowed to share prison cells or stay in adjacent cells. Frequency of family visits and telephone calls will be reduced. Prisoners will not be able to start studying for a higher degree, while those who have already began a program will be allowed to finish it. (Ynet News)
  • Turkey Wants UN to Tone Down Report on Gaza Flotilla Raid - Barak Ravid
    The Turks are "very worried" about harsh criticism of Turkey in the UN Secretary-General's report on last year's flotilla to Gaza, according to a senior government official in Jerusalem. They want Israel to agree to a softened version as part of a package deal to end the crisis between the two countries over the May 2010 flotilla. A draft of the report was given to Israel and Turkey about six weeks ago. The committee determined that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is in keeping with international law, and therefore its actions to stop the flotilla were legal. The report criticizes the Turkish government and highlights the relationship between it and IHH, the group that organized the flotilla. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • A Foolish Plan from "Wise Men" on the Middle East - Elliott Abrams
    Another Middle East peace plan was proposed on June 23 in the New York Review of Books by a set of Washington luminaries. It proposes that the U.S. give up on the "peace process" and impose conditions of our own, and threaten dire consequences should Israel balk. The proposals reveal that many of America's most experienced former senior officials now blame Israel alone for the freeze in Middle East peace negotiations. And they believe that Israel should be forced into compromises and sacrifices under enormous American pressure, even if the vast majority of Israelis oppose them and view them as dangerous.
        As we all celebrate the demands for democracy in Arab lands, we can be thankful that American democracy remains strong. This fact ensures that neither the president nor Congress would ever accept the demands made here: to blame Israel alone for the failure to reach a peace agreement, threaten her, adopt positions that undermine her security, and abandon pledges made by American presidents of both parties. The writer, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration. (Weekly Standard)
  • How Can Do-Gooders Possibly Think that Gaza Is the Primary Center of Injustice in the Middle East? - Kevin Myers
    What is it about Israel that prompts such a widespread departure from common sense, reason and moral reality? As another insane flotilla prepares to butt across the Mediterranean bringing "aid" to the "beleaguered" people of Gaza, does it never occur to all the hysterical anti-Israeli activists in Ireland that this is like worrying about the steaks being burnt on the barbecue, as a forest fire sweeps towards your back garden?
        According to Mathilde Redmatn, deputy director of the International Red Cross in Gaza, there is in fact no humanitarian crisis there at all. But by God, there is one in Syria, where possibly thousands have died in the past month. However, I notice that none of the Irish do-gooders are sending an aid-ship to Latakia.
        Israel, just about the only country in the entire region where Arabs are not rising up against their rulers, is also the only country that the Irish chattering classes unite in condemning. (Irish Independent)

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians - Jim Zanotti (Congressional Research Service-Federation of American Scientists)

  • Since the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed over $4 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, who are among the world's largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid.
  • From FY2008 to the present, annual U.S. bilateral assistance to the Palestinians has averaged over $600 million. Additionally, the U.S. is the largest single-state donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
  • A May 2011 power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas has raised concerns among some Members of Congress about continuing U.S. budgetary and security assistance to a PA government that could be subject to the approval of a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (Hamas) that claims to reserve the right to violently oppose Israel's existence.
  • The Fatah-Hamas power-sharing or "unity" government will not be eligible for U.S. aid if Hamas is included in the government and does not change its stance towards Israel - possibly subject to some limited exceptions.
    See also U.S. "Could Withdraw Funding from UN If Palestine State Is Recognized" - Jon Swaine and Adrian Blomfield
Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said there was "no greater threat" to U.S. support and funding of the UN than the prospect of Palestinian statehood being endorsed by member states. Rice said the Obama administration was devoting "extraordinary efforts and energy" to restarting Middle Eastern peace talks so that a vote in September could be avoided. (Telegraph-UK)

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