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August 23, 2011

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Iran Moves Some Centrifuges to Underground Site - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP/Forbes)
  Iran's vice president says his country has moved some of its centrifuge machines used to enrich uranium to an underground site in central Iran. Fereidoun Abbasi, who is also Iran's nuclear chief, was quoted by state TV on Monday as saying experts are preparing the site in Fordo near the holy city of Qom to house the centrifuges. The Fordo enrichment facility is carved into a mountain to protect it against possible attacks.

Gaza Lull Breached; Rockets Hit Western Negev - Shmulik Hadad (Ynet News)
  The fragile armistice declared by the Gaza terror groups was breached once more Monday evening, as several rockets were fired from northern Gaza at Israel's southern communities. Four Qassam rockets were fired from northern Gaza at the area: One landed south of Ashkelon causing no harm; and three others exploded in open areas at the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

Israel Lauds Success of Iron Dome Missile Interceptor - Ori Lewis (Reuters)
  Israeli officials on Monday praised the effectiveness of the U.S.-funded Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, despite its failure to shoot down a rocket fired from Gaza that killed a man in a residential area. A senior commander said Iron Dome interceptors had shot down 20 incoming projectiles fired by Gaza militants in five days of cross-border violence.
    See also Israel to Deploy Third Iron Dome Following More Intercepts - Arie Egozi (Flightglobal)
Singapore has already purchased the Iron Dome system. Raytheon Corp. announced that it has teamed with Rafael to offer the equipment for use by the U.S. military. "Iron Dome complements other Raytheon weapons that provide intercept capabilities to the U.S. Army's counter rocket, artillery and mortar initiative at forward operating bases," said Mike Booen, vice president of Raytheon missile systems.

Abbas Postpones Palestinian Municipal Elections without Setting a New Date (AP/Washington Post)
  The Western-backed Palestinian president delayed local elections for a third time on Monday without setting a new date. Abbas has overstayed his own term and is ruling the West Bank by decree. Municipal elections were initially scheduled for July 2010. Abbas said Monday that he wanted to make sure elections take place in Gaza as well.

Gaza Crossings Operate Despite the Attacks (IDF Spokesman)
  Over 130 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel since Thursday (August 18). But the Gaza land crossings, Kerem Shalom and Erez, continue to operate.
  On Sunday (August 21) over 60 patients and their chaperones crossed into Israel for medical treatment. Approximately 150 truckloads of goods, food products and fuel gas were delivered from Israel into the Gaza Strip on Monday (August 22).

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  • Fighting Rages in Libya as Gaddafi Son Emerges, Quashes Rebel Claims - Matthew Chance
    What appeared to be a climactic showdown between rebel and government forces in Libya a day earlier devolved into confusion and uncertainty Tuesday about whether ruler Moammar Gaddafi's regime would fall anytime soon. Sporadic fighting continued in Tripoli as two purported rebel accomplishments came unhinged. On Monday, rebel leaders had said claimed they had captured three of Gaddafi's sons, including Saif al-Islam -- who is wanted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court. But Tuesday, Saif al-Islam showed up at the Rixos Hotel, one of the remaining strongholds of pro-Gaddafi forces. (CNN)
  • Assad Broke Word, UN Chief Says - Colum Lynch
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of failing to live up to his pledge to halt all security operations against protesters, saying the Syrian leader �has not kept his word.� Assad assured Ban in a telephone conversation Wednesday that all police and military operations had stopped.
      But there has been no visible slowing of the crackdown. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday that the steadily mounting death toll in Syria had topped 2,200 civilians, including 39 demonstrators killed since Assad made his pledge to the UN chief. (Washington Post)
  • Rise of Gaza Middle Class Fuels Resentment toward Hamas Rulers, Say Wealth Isn�t Tricking Down
    A budding middle class in the impoverished Gaza Strip is flaunting its wealth, sipping coffee at gleaming new cafes, shopping for shoes at the new tiny shopping malls, and fueling perhaps the most acrimonious grass roots resentment yet toward the ruling Hamas movement. The level of consumption may be modest by Western standards, but it�s in startling contrast to the grinding poverty of most Gazans, who rely on U.N. food handouts to get by.
      �There is a nouveau riche that has followed the rise of the government,� said Alaa Araj, a former Gaza economic minister and businessman considered close to Hamas. �We must sound the alarm,� he said. �(Resentment) is growing in Gaza.� (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Arab League: Palestinian Statehood Bid Could Be 'Dangerous' - Daniel Siryoti
    Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby on Sunday suggested Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reconsider his appeal to the UN to recognize an independent Palestinian state in September. "The unilateral appeal to the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly could be a very dangerous move for the Palestinians during this period and I propose that Abbas reconsider the handling of the matter," Elaraby said. Elaraby said the UN bid could be ill-timed because the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is not in control of the situation in Gaza. (Israel Hayom)
  • UN Delays Gaza Flotilla Report, Following Request by Turkey - Barak Ravid
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday agreed to a request by Turkey to delay the publication of a report on the events of an Israel Defense Forces raid on a flotilla bound for Gaza, in which 9 Turkish activists died during clashes with Israeli troops. An Israeli official said that a delay of the report would allow the renewal of Israel-Turkey negotiations aimed at ending the diplomatic crisis between the two countries, and to try to word an Israeli apology to Turkey that would be acceptable to Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Fails to Apologize, Turkey Ponders Options - Goksel Secilmis
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on July 23 that Turkey now intends to move on to �Plan B,� which will include a campaign against Israel to be carried out at UN institutions, legal action against senior Israeli figures in European courts, and military cooperation between Turkey and Israel being put on hold. (Zaman - Turkey)
  • Israel's Trade with Turkey Rose 26% in First Half of 2011 - Guy Katsovitch
    Israeli-Turkish trade rose 26% to $2 billion in first half of 2011 from $1.59 billion in the first half of 2010, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce reports. Israeli exports to Turkey rose 39% to $950 million from $648 million, and imports from Turkey rose 16% to $1.05 billion from $907 million. (Globes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Terrorist Attack on Southern Israel: Under the Authority of Hamas, Using the Tactics of Al-Qaeda - Jonathan D. Halevy
    The terrorist attack in southern Israel on August 18 in which eight Israelis were killed was initiated and executed by the Palestinian terrorist organization known as the �Popular Resistance Committees,� which operate as a terrorist arm of Hamas.
      The Popular Resistance Committees were established at the beginning of the Second Intifada at the end of September 2000 by Jamal Abu Samhadana. The ideology of the Popular Resistance Committees is based on an extremist version of Islamism, which places the organization in the same category as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and even al-Qaeda. The Popular Resistance Committees joined forces with Hamas and Jaish al-Islam (the Army of Islam), which is identified with al-Qaeda, in order to conduct an attack in June 2006 on Israeli forces inside Israel, just north of Gaza, in which IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Al Qaeda Linked to Israeli Bus Ambush - Eli Lake
    U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating reports that al Qaeda-aligned groups played a key role in the deadly commando-style attack near the Israeli resort town of Eilat last week.
      �There has been a history of close operational coordination between Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and Jaish al Islam, which is the most important of the al Qaeda affiliates in the Gaza Strip,� said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations who now is the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Washington Times)
  • Hamas Uses PRC as Means of Continuing "Resistance" against Israel
    The Popular Resistance Committees is an independent terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip that is supported, subsidized and trained by the Hamas terrorist organization. The PRC operates in coordination with Iranian authorities and the Hezbollah terrorist organization and has conducted multiple terrorist activities against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. (IDF Spokesman)
  • Assad's End - Lee Smith
    Assad�s fall is not only good for the future of Syria. It is also very much in the interests of the United States.
      Assad is not about to go quietly. Energy sanctions will weaken the regime, hindering its ability to pay the security forces going about their bloody work, and persuading the merchant middle class that its interests may no longer be aligned with Assad�s. But sanctions are unlikely to break the regime�s back. Assad will fight, and so will his Iranian allies, whose 30-year investment in Hizbullah may depend on the survival of the regime in Damascus that arms Iran�s Lebanese asset. Syria and Iran and their clients in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere may hit closer to home by targeting direct American interests and U.S. military and diplomatic personnel. The White House would do well to recognize that the goal of the Syrian opposition�Assad�s exit�runs parallel to American interests. (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    Tripoli Minus Gaddafi - Marc Ginsberg (Huffington Post)

  • Once Gaddafi and whatever remnants of his regime are routed from his bunker, what will the coming weeks and months mean for Libya? Let me venture several predictions.
  • Col. Gaddafi has repeatedly asserted he will never permit himself to surrender to NATO forces or being tried by the rebel National Transitional Council Court. In the Gaddafi Family, the most visible son to western audiences, Saif, has been the defiant face of the regime to the media and is probably holed up somewhere with his father. The family was always an extension of the regime, and they, too, face either trial in Libya or in The Hague.
  • A Potential Civil War? With over 140 tribes, could Libya minus Gaddafi slip into the abyss of civil conflict? Libya is a very divided nation -- all the more so now that the lid has been blown off Gaddafi tyrannical dictatorship. There is real danger that the temporary alliance that formed the backbone of the rebel leadership will fracture, perhaps on tribal lines or religious lines, as competing tribes try to cut their own deals.
  • The TNC is composed of two key ideological and religious elements: the upper-crust of Libya's relatively secular society and Libyan democratic nationals united with defecting military officers on the one hand, and relatively hard-line Islamists who were based in Benghazi and who constituted the historic foundation of Gaddafi's Libyan opposition. The TNC's ability to restore order and prevent the type of lawlessness and looting that ushered in a post Saddam era in Baghdad will represent early signs of the TNC's post-Gaddafi cohesion.
  • NATO engaged in significant mission creep following the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 by arming the rebels and interpreting the mandate as authorizing regime change. Now that Tripoli is on the verge of surrendering to the TNC, it will behoove NATO forces to slip quickly into the background to enable to TNC to demonstrate that it is not dependent on NATO forces to govern.

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