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August 1, 2011

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Iran Developing Long-Range Missiles - Reza Kahlili (Washington Times)
    It is estimated that Iran will have enough highly enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb within two months and currently has enough low-enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs.
    Iran is also perfecting its missile-delivery systems. Recently, the Revolutionary Guards tested two long-range ballistic missiles, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
    The guards' ballistic missiles have a range of 1,200 miles, covering all U.S. bases in the Middle East and all of Israel, and now they possess missiles from North Korea with a range of 2,000 miles, which covers most of Western Europe.

Six Dead in Assault on Sinai Police Station - Amro Hassan (Los Angeles Times)
    Six people were killed and more than 20 were injured when armed men attacked a police station in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Friday, security sources told the Egyptian news agency MENA on Saturday.
    About 100 masked gunmen carrying flags with Islamic slogans while riding motorcycles and four-wheel-drive vehicles attempted to storm the police station in Al Arish.

Preparing for the Next Israel-Hizbullah War - Bilal Y. Saab and Nicholas Blanford (Foreign Policy)
    Both Israel and Hizbullah have been furiously updating their weaponry and tactics in anticipation of another round.
    With the support of Iran, Hizbullah has made further advances in its signals intelligence and communications capabilities and is expected to use these upgraded capabilities to attempt to take the offensive in a future conflict, extending the fight into Israel through land and seaborne commando raids.

2 Palestinians Killed, 5 IDF Soldiers Wounded in West Bank Raid (DPA-Ha'aretz)
    Two Palestinians were killed at Kalandiya, north of Jerusalem, on Monday after soldiers entered the area on a "search and arrest" operation. Their entry sparked rioting, with residents throwing rocks and bottles at them.
    The soldiers left the camp after arresting a number of residents, while five soldiers were lightly injured.

The New Hama Rules: Cellphone Cameras Exposing Assad's Brutality - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
    In 1982 the Syrian regime of Hafez Assad murdered at least 10,000 of its own people in the city of Hama, and the rest of the world shrugged.
    Yet since the Syrian uprising began in mid-March there has been a constant stream of images and video clips from nearly every city in Syria, vividly depicting the scope, intensity and frequency of protests - as well as the brutality of the regime's crackdown.
    The cellphone cameras and other democratized forms of electronic media have cut through the regime's information embargoes and propaganda.
    Nobody believes Bashar. Nobody is allowing him to change the subject by provoking confrontations with Israel, and for a change nobody is forgetting the kind of regime he runs.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syria Kills at Least 150 on Sunday - Massoud A. Derhally
    At least 150 people were killed in Syria Sunday, al Jazeera reported. Tanks shelled Hama where at least 113 people were killed, according to the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.
        President Obama said he was "appalled" by the Syrian government's "use of violence and brutality against its own people." "In the days ahead, the United States will continue to increase our pressure on the Syrian regime, and work with others around the world to isolate the Assad government," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. (Bloomberg)
        See also Syrian Forces Use Tanks Against Protesters - Borzou Daragahi and Alexandra Sandels
    Syrian security forces opened fire with tanks and machine guns on opposition hot spots in several major cities on Sunday. The U.S. Embassy spokesman in Damascus described the day's violence as "full-on warfare by the Syrian government against its own people" and "a last act of utter desperation" by the regime. Video footage posted to the Internet showed young men cowering amid intense barrages of automatic weapons fire and images of bodies with gunshot wounds. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also German Intelligence Sees No Regime Change in Syria
    Ernst Uhrlau, head of the German intelligence service, told the German daily Der Spiegel in Damascus that he doesn't see the situation in Syria leading to a regime change. Uhrlau believes the opposition does not seem unified enough to force a change in the ruling regime. (DPA-Al-Ahram-Egypt)
  • Egyptian Islamists Flood Tahrir Square in Show of Strength - Anthony Shadid
    Tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists poured into Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a state bound by strict religious law and delivering a persuasive show of force. The demonstration Friday had been billed as a show of national unity, but adherents to a spectrum of religious movements vastly outnumbered other voices. "It's simple," said Mohammed Awad, 28, an accountant. "We're stronger than any other force in the country, and we've made that clear on this day."  (New York Times)
  • UN-Backed Court Names Four Suspects in Hariri Case
    A UN-backed international court released the names Friday of four Hizbullah officials wanted on suspicion of murder in the 2005 truck bomb that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Among the suspects is Mustafa Amine Badreddine, believed to have been Hizbullah's deputy military commander, who also has been linked to the 1983 truck bombings at the U.S. and French embassies in Beirut. Badreddine, 50, is the brother-in-law of the late Hizbullah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed by a car bomb in Syria in 2008.
        The tribunal also named Hizbullah members Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra. Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare persuaded the court that publication of the names and photographs of the suspects would increase the prospects for their arrest. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel, Lebanon Exchange Gunfire on Northern Border - Lahav Harkov
    One Lebanese soldier was reportedly wounded Monday in an exchange of gunfire between the IDF and Lebanese Army. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "The soldiers behaved like they were supposed to. They are determined to defend themselves and the border."
        He added, "[Palestinian President] Abbas made a strategic decision to go to the UN. He wants to get things done without a peace agreement....No Israeli government can accept all Palestinian demands. We are interacting with the U.S. to put together a document on a possible peace agreement using language from Obama's speech to AIPAC."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israelis Will "Give Up" on Egyptian Gas, Expert Says - Sharon Udasin
    After gunmen attacked the Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel in northern Sinai on Saturday - the fifth such attack in the past six months - Israeli energy expert Amit Mor said he believes that Israeli officials and the country's major gas consumers have all but "given up" on that source of natural gas. During Saturday's attack, the saboteurs used rocket-propelled grenades to punch a hole in a section of the pipeline that normally directs gas to Israel, but whose supply had not yet been resumed from the previous attack on July 12. The gunmen arrived in two trucks but sped away from the site after being confronted by Egyptian troops. There were no casualties.
        "The resumption of the full contractual obligation of gas supply to Israel can be used as a test-case of the Egyptian government to maintain its international obligations vis-a-vis foreign direct investments in Egypt, on the one hand, and its future relations with Israel, on the other," Mor said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Leader: Palestinian UN Bid a "Scam"
    Hamas leaders have firm views on the attempt by Palestinian President Abbas to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a prominent Hamas member in Gaza, says the approach to the UN is a "political scam." "We are not going to recognize Israel. That is very simple. And we are not going to accept Israel as the owner of one square centimeter because it is a fabricated state."  (DPA-Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Getting Serious in Syria - Michael S. Doran and Salman Shaikh
    By mid-July, at least 1,400 people had been killed in Syria and more than 10,000 were missing. These numbers are bound to grow. Though still in power, Bashar al-Assad had proven incapable of vanquishing the protestors - not, evidently, because he has been less ruthless than his father, but because Syrian society itself has changed. His regime is now locked into a grindingly slow process of irreversible decline.
        To minimize human suffering and ensure the speediest rise of a new order hospitable to the U.S., Washington must first jettison the completely unsupportable pretense of a regime-led transition toward democratic reform. This policy only encourages Assad to think that he can ride out the protests. Instead, the U.S. should be working assiduously to convince Assad to go, and to go soon. Michael S. Doran is senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution. Salman Shaikh is director of the Brookings Doha Center. (American Interest)
  • Turkey's Military Leaders Resign in High-Stakes Power Struggle - Soner Cagaptay
    The Turkish military on Friday staged an "inverted coup" with a strike-style walkout by its top leadership. On Friday, Chief of Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner resigned, as did the heads of the Turkish Army, Navy and Air Force. A headless military is a risk in a country flanked by Iran, Iraq, and Syria, the last of which is undergoing revolutionary turmoil on the other side of a 500 mile-long border.
        In 2007, the ruling AKP party launched a court case, known as Ergenekon, which alleged a coup plot against the government and accused the military of involvement. Four years and hundreds of arrests later, the case has yet to reach a verdict. Around half of all Turkish admirals have been jailed. The final straw came when pro-AKP media suggested that 14 active-duty generals and admirals who had been arrested, though not yet indicted, would be forced to resign. Furthermore, on Thursday, police arrested 22 additional top-brass officers.
        By walking out, the military has in a way conceded defeat to the AKP. Yet, at the same time, the government needs a military, and a secular military is currently its only option. (Daily Beast)
  • Hizbullah's Predicament in Light of Syria's Decline - Shimon Shapira
    Five years after the Second Lebanon War, a war whose results Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah considers a "divine victory," Hizbullah has currently reached one of its lowest points due to the endangered survival of the Assad regime in Syria, as well as the international tribunal that has demanded the extradition of four Hizbullah members suspected of murdering former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
        Recent signs of Hizbullah's weakened position include the public revelation of an espionage network run by the CIA of people in important positions within the movement; the open sale of alcoholic beverages in Nabatiye, Hizbullah's capital in southern Lebanon; and the attempt by the Lebanese government to appoint a security chief for Beirut International Airport from within the Maronite Christian community, contrary to Hizbullah's wishes.
        In light of all this, Nasrallah is looking for a new pretext to confront Israel, focusing this time on the gas fields that Israel is developing within its maritime economic zone. Nasrallah believes his threats will distract attention from the decline in Hizbullah's status and the international accusations that it currently faces. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Gaza Flotilla and International Law - Peter Berkowitz (Hoover Institution-Standford University)

  • The standard arguments for viewing Israel's blockade of Gaza as unlawful are unsound and insubstantial. Their popularity reflects the determination to subordinate the international law of war to partisan political goals. The sustained campaigns to criminalize Israel's exercise of its inherent right of self-defense are among the gravest abuses to which the international law of war has been subject.
  • When it comes to Israel's exercise of military force, critics exhibit a tendency to infer criminal conduct from civilian harm. This inference, however, which involves an elevation of humanitarian responsibility and a disregard of military necessity, is invalid under the law of armed conflict.
  • The main tests of criminality in war are distinction and proportionality. They require fighters to strike a reasonable balance between humanitarian responsibility and military necessity.
  • The inherent difficulties of applying distinction and proportionality are compounded when, as is the case with Hamas, one side unlawfully abandons the use of uniforms, refuses to carry its arms openly, hides amidst civilian populations, stores arms in ostensibly civilian facilities, and fires mortars, rockets, and missiles from civilian areas.
  • Such blatantly unlawful conduct inevitably increases civilian casualties. But the international law of war is clear: Fighting forces that operate among civilians remain legitimate military targets, and fighters who use civilian areas and structures for military purposes cause them to lose their immunity.

    The writer is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, where he chairs the Koret-Taube Task Force on national security and law.

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