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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
August 17, 2011

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Israeli Security Personnel Thwart Pirate Attack Near Somalia - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli security personnel opened fire on pirates in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia on Monday and thwarted their attempt to commandeer the ship.
    The guards, working for an Israeli company providing security services to international shipping companies, opened fire on the armed pirates on board two speed boats pursuing the freighter.
    Following a short gun battle, the pirates fled the scene.

Israel Partners with U.S. Firm to Sell Iron Dome Anti-Rocket Defense System - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced on Tuesday it is teaming up with U.S. firm Raytheon for international marketing of the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system.
    Rafael developed Iron Dome to protect against rockets, artillery and mortar attacks. In April, the system successfully intercepted eight rockets fired into Israel.
    Iron Dome has so far been sold to Israel and Singapore, while there has been significant international interest, particularly among coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Assad's Devious, Cruel Plan to Stay in Power by Dividing Syria - Oliver Holmes (New Republic)
    By labeling the opposition movement a Sunni-led terrorist revolt and allowing members of his own Alawite sect to loot and pillage Sunni towns, Syrian President Assad is fanning the flames of sectarian hatred - and some protesters, despite their initially peaceful, pluralistic intentions, are starting to buy in as well.

Bosnia Divided on Palestinian Request for Statehood Support (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was told in Bosnia-Herzegovina that Bosnia's three ethnic groups have not reached agreement on whether to recognize Palestinian statehood.
    Bosnia is on the UN Security Council as a nonpermanent member.
    Local media reported that the three-member, interethnic presidency's Bosnian Muslim member, Bakir Izetbegovic, and Croat member Zeljko Komsic support the Palestinian drive for statehood while their Serbian colleague, Nebojsa Radmanovic, is opposed.
    Political analyst Milos Solaja said, "Bosnia could stay neutral in this affair and it probably will in the end."

Israel's Sewage-Eating Bacteria Lure GE Cash - Ben Edwards (Bloomberg)
    Israel's Emefcy Ltd., which is building a fuel cell that uses bacteria to break down waste in water, has raised more than $10 million from investors including GE, NRG Energy Inc. (NRG) and ConocoPhillips, its Chief Executive Officer Eytan Levy said in an interview.
    The process reduces the amount of energy required to treat sewage and generates electricity.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • PLO Official Accuses Syria of Crimes Against Humanity
    An assault by Syrian security forces on a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia amounts to a crime against humanity, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization said. "The shelling is taking place using gunships and tanks on houses built from tin, on people who have no place to run to or even a shelter to hide in," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PLO secretary general. "This is a crime against humanity."  (Reuters)
  • U.S., Mideast Mediators Criticize Israel
    The U.S. and other Mideast mediators criticized Israel on Tuesday for a rush of new settlement building approvals. The Quartet of mediators said the housing units planned in Ariel and east Jerusalem prompted a restatement of its position that "unilateral action by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community."  (AP)
        See also Disband the Middle East Quartet - Elliott Abrams
    The Middle East Quartet was unable to issue a statement about the Palestinian effort to get the UN to declare Palestine a state and admit it to membership. Nor has the Quartet issued a statement about the attacks the Assad regime has been carrying out this week against Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, which have led thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes. But on August 16 it addressed what it apparently saw as a graver issue and a greater threat to peace, Israel's announcement of plans to construct additional housing units in Jerusalem and Ariel.
        Nowadays the Quartet seems able to reach agreement on only one thing: criticism of Israel. This is the lowest common denominator among the U.S., EU, UN, and Russia. If this is the only function of the Quartet, the better path would be to disband it now - for the statements it is making and the statements it seems unable to make combine to bring discredit on all participants. (Council on Foreign Relations)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Presses Israel to Apologize to Turkey - Alex Fishman
    The U.S. administration is applying heavy pressure on Israel to apologize to the Turkish government over events surrounding the May 2010 takeover of the Mavi Marmara. The American demand was also voiced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during talks she held with Defense Minister Ehud Barak three weeks ago. According to Israeli diplomats in Washington, U.S. officials had even implied that it would be difficult for the U.S. to persuade other nations to reject the Palestinians' UN statehood bid in September if Jerusalem refuses to apologize to Ankara. (Ynet News)
        See also Netanyahu to Clinton: Israel Won't Apologize to Turkey
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday that Israel will not apologize for the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid in which nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists died. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Turkey, the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and the Gaza Flotilla - Steven G. Merley (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Hamas Refusing to Hand Over Terror Suspects to Egypt
    The Hamas government in Gaza has refused several Egyptian requests to hand over Palestinian terrorists who participated in a recent attack on a police station in the Sinai city of El-Arish, the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported on Monday. The report said that Egyptian authorities have provided evidence to Hamas implicating the men who Egypt says escaped back into Gaza via tunnels. On Monday, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported that of the 15 terrorists who attacked the police station, 10 were identified by Egyptian authorities as Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • A Willingness to Kill: Repression in Syria - Jeffrey White
    The Syrian regime is willfully attacking unarmed people with forces, tactics, and weapons meant to be employed on a modern battlefield - methods that fit the definition of war crimes. Syrian intelligence and security services are employed directly against the political opposition and demonstrators, engaging in arrests and shootings alike. In addition, parts of nine divisions of the Syrian army have been identified as having taken part in repression operations. Another group is the shabbiha, pro-regime thugs who work directly with security forces and have been used, for instance, to take over hospitals and deny medical attention to wounded demonstrators.
        The scale and scope of operations, the participation of multiple agencies of the Syrian government, and the planning, command, and logistics efforts involved all indicate that the operations are guided, coordinated, and executed by the highest levels of the regime. The writer is a defense fellow at the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Saudi Arabia Moves to Take Down Syria, Iran and Hizbullah - Bruce Riedel
    The Saudis sense a strategic opportunity has opened in Syria, a unique chance to deal a mortal blow to one of their enemies, the Shia terror group Hizbullah, and a serious blow to their regional adversary Iran. For decades Damascus has allowed Tehran to use its airports and ports to transfer arms to Hizbullah, and more recently it has provided much of its own equipment directly to the group.
        Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been based in Syria and thousands of Iranian tourists and spies have come to worship at Damascus' Sayyidah Zaynab mosque, a traditional Shia holy site. It was at the Zaynab mosque that Hizbullah and IRGC operatives met with Saudi Shia in 1996 to plan the attack on the American air force base at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where 19 Americans were killed in the Khobar barracks attack. (National Interest)
  • Iran's Efforts to Acquire Nuclear Weapons - Gregory S. Jones
    It is difficult to consider the current nuclear developments in Iran as benign. Rather Iran does indeed have a nuclear weapons program. Its expanding centrifuge enrichment capacity, and stockpiles of 3.5% and 19.7% enriched uranium as well as its likely continuing research on the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons, is moving Iran ever closer to a nuclear weapons capability. As Iran moves closer to having a nuclear weapons capability, it becomes increasingly likely that Iran will make the decision to produce nuclear weapons.
        More likely, Iran will spend the next few years improving its position, by further shortening the time it will take it to move the last distance to a nuclear weapons capability. By 2012 to 2015, this approach will allow Iran to become a de facto nuclear weapon state without ever violating its IAEA safeguards or detonating a nuclear weapon. (Nonproliferation Policy Education Center)
  • The Muslim Brotherhood's Discontents - Michael J. Totten
    Is Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood moderate? That's what everyone wants to know. The Muslim Brotherhood's spokesmen have been waging a PR campaign in the West for many years. They know exactly what to say and what not to say. They tell Western reporters that they're activists for democracy and civil society. The term "moderate" is relative, though. Surely the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate compared with the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
        The only way a Western reporter can know is to interview former Muslim Brotherhood members who will tell it straight. Mohammad Adel used to work for the Brotherhood's Web site. "They aren't going to do well in the upcoming elections," he said. "Most of the votes they got before were protest votes against Mubarak's NDP rather than votes for the Muslim Brotherhood. Now that the NDP has been dissolved, they don't have that base to fall back on."  (Pajamas Media)

If Palestine Declares Statehood, It Won't Change Anything on the Ground - Martin Peretz (New Republic)

  • The Arabs of Palestine have always nurtured a strategy to avoid negotiating a peace deal with the Israelis; and it is that they won't negotiate at all unless Israel meets so many Palestinian preconditions that the map from which they and their Arab neighbors launched their wars would be completely restored in advance of talks.
  • For nearly 20 years (1948-1967), the world sat quite comfy with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with help from the local Arabs, having occupied and then destroyed the entire ancient Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. All of "east Jerusalem" was governed by King Abdullah I, who made sure that no glory attached to what we are now endlessly told is the third holiest city in Islam.
  • So long as the Palestinians refuse to negotiate there will be less to negotiate about. Israel is a dynamic society. It cannot, it will not wait for the Arabs of Palestine to adjust to reality. Take the new construction announced by the Israelis for Ariel, 11 miles east of the Green Line. The city is 33 years old and has 18,000 inhabitants. It boasts a university with 11,000 students, of whom close to 1,000 are Arab. Now, 277 housing units will be built.
  • There are certain principles regarding Jerusalem that cannot be ignored. The first of these is that this tiny place is the heart of Jewish history. The second is that the city is also the heart of Christian history. Together this goes back three millennia to King David. Indeed, the denial of the epochal past of Jews and Christians is not worthy of the Muslims who recognize it in the Koran. Remember, if there was no Jewish temple, there was no Jesus, and the entire history of Christianity collapses.
  • The major impediment to moving on is actually the relentless psychodrama about new Israeli construction in the territories which is little and far between. Shame on the administration for going into hysterics over a few hundred apartments in a Jewish neighborhood that was founded in 1973 and already has 40,000 residents.

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