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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
November 8, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel's Offshore Gas Reserves Poised to Rise - Eric Watkins (Oil & Gas Journal)
    Israel's reserves of natural gas, now under development in the Mediterranean, are poised to rise substantially in the near future, according to Israel Natural Gas Authority Director-General Yehosua Stern.
    Israel's proven gas reserves amount to 300 bcm, most of it in the offshore Tamar field. The reserves figure is expected to rise by a further 453 bcm after production tests are completed at Leviathan field.
    Stern expects an additional 550 bcm of gas to be discovered in Israeli economic waters, which eventually will bring the country's total reserves to 1,300 bcm.

Leaving Iraq, U.S. Fears New Surge of Qaeda Terror - Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
    As the U.S. prepares to withdraw its troops from Iraq by year's end, senior American and Iraqi officials are expressing growing concern that al-Qaeda's offshoot there is poised for a deadly resurgence.
    The group, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, has shown surprising resilience even as its traditional supply lines of foreign fighters through Syria have been disrupted by the turmoil in that country, American intelligence officials say.
    In May, two Iraqi refugees living in Bowling Green, Ky., were charged with trying to send sniper rifles, Stinger missiles and money to the Qaeda affiliate in their home country.
    The new director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew G. Olsen, cited a video the group released in January calling on individuals to attack students and infrastructure in the West.

As Lawlessness Spreads in Libya, Are the Rebel "Good Guys" Turning Bad? - Nick Meo (Telegraph-UK)
    Many of Tripoli's residents have had a moment of grim awakening in recent weeks as their liberators, still swaggering around the city armed to the teeth, have not gone back to their home towns as they promised.
    "When they said Libya Free, they meant the cars, the refrigerators and the flat-screen television sets," runs one joke.
    Stories are nervously swapped of gunmen taking expensive cars at checkpoints, giving receipts saying they will be returned after the revolution.
    More than two months since Gaddafi was driven from his capital, there is still a power vacuum. No government has been formed because former rebels cannot agree on how to share power.

Carlos the Jackal Goes to Trial - Elaine Ganley (AP)
    On Monday, Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, 62, known as Carlos the Jackal, went on trial in France for four deadly bombings in that country in 1982 and 1983 that killed 11 people and injured 140.
    Carlos is also the chief suspect in the 1976 Palestinian hijacking of a French jetliner to Entebbe, Uganda, which ended with an Israeli commando raid.
    French secret agents snatched him from his refuge in Khartoum, Sudan, on Aug. 14, 1994, and spirited him to Paris in a sack, where he was convicted in 1997 of killing two unarmed French investigators.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Aid to Palestinians Unblocked - Donna Casseta
    Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, informed the Obama administration in recent weeks that she no longer would block $50 million in economic support funds for the Palestinian Security Forces and $148 million in other assistance. Ros-Lehtinen had blocked the funds in August as the Palestinians pursued statehood recognition at the UN despite strong objections from the U.S. (AP)
        See also Israel Fund Transfer to PA to Be Renewed - Attila Somfalvi
    Israel is likely to renew its fund transfer to the Palestinian Authority following the U.S. Congress' decision to unfreeze some $200 million in Palestinian assistance, Jerusalem sources said Monday. (Ynet News)
  • Syrian Troops Escalate Bloody Crackdown in Homs - Anthony Shadid
    The Syrian government has launched a bloody assault to retake Homs, the country's third-largest city, facing armed defectors who had prevented the government's forces from seizing it. Activists say government forces have killed 111 people in just five days. (New York Times)
        See also Syrian Forces Crush Homs Rebels - Liz Sly (Washington Post)
  • U.S. High Court Skeptical in Israel Passport Case - James Vicini
    U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday heard the case of a boy born in Jerusalem to American parents who want his passport to list Israel as his birthplace. A 2002 law included a provision allowing Israel to be listed as the place of birth on the passport of any American citizen born in Jerusalem. While Israel calls Jerusalem its "eternal and indivisible" capital, few other states accept that status including the U.S.
        Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked why Congress would trump the president in foreign affairs. Justice Antonin Scalia said, "You are saying whatever Congress says, the president has to comply with." Chief Justice John Roberts said the president has determined that putting Israel on the passports would create significant problems and questioned if a court can second-guess that judgment.
        "The court seemed poised to...rule that the statute unconstitutionally infringes on the president's power to recognize, or decline to recognize, that any state exercises sovereignty over Jerusalem," said Columbia Law School Professor Sarah Cleveland. A ruling in the case is expected by the middle of next year. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Hoping IAEA Report on Iran Will Spur West into Action - Yaakov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel is expecting the U.S. to take the lead in pushing the UN and other Western countries to impose tougher, new sanctions on Iran following the publication of an incriminating International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report later this week. An Israeli official said, "We hope this report will serve to galvanize the international community against Iran's nuclear program and in support of increased sanctions." A second Israeli official noted that it was Western powers such as the U.S., France, Germany and the UK - and not Israel - that must take the lead in the drive for increased sanctions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: PA Reneged on Oslo Accords - Tovah Lazaroff
    "By boycotting negotiations and by going instead to the United Nations, they [the Palestinians] have reneged on a central tenet" of the 1993 Oslo Accords with Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday during closed-door discussions in his office. Netanyahu said that within the framework of the Oslo Accords, Israel pulled out of large sections of the West Bank. It paid a territorial price because, according to Oslo, the Palestinians had made a commitment to solve all outstanding issues and disputes through direct negotiations. Now, the Palestinians refuse to negotiate a final status solution with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Wounds Three Palestinian Terrorists Planting Bombs at Gaza Border Fence - Jack Khoury
    IDF forces opened fire on Monday at Palestinian terrorists who were placing explosive devices along the border fence in northern Gaza, wounding three. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Growing Threat of Iran's Nuclear Program - Stephen Rademaker and Blaise Misztal
    The true measure of Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons capability is the rate at which it is producing enriched uranium. By this measure, Iran is closer than ever to a nuclear weapon and its nuclear enrichment program has not been slowed but, rather, continues to accelerate.
        The Bipartisan Policy Center has been tracking the progress of Iran's nuclear program. We calculate that, if it chooses, Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear device in just 62 days using its existing stockpiles and current enrichment capability. International inspectors examine Iranian facilities only about once every two months. This means that Tehran is approaching the ability to produce a bomb's worth of highly enriched uranium before the international community realizes it has happened.
        Once Iran acquires more than 150 kg. of uranium enriched to 20% - which could happen by early 2013 - it would need only 12 days to produce enough fissile material for a bomb. Thus the threat posed by Iran's program continues to grow at an alarming rate. Stephen Rademaker is an adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center. Blaise Misztal is associate director of foreign policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Washington Post)
        See also More Documentation of Iran's Relentless Pursuit of Nukes - Jamsheed K. Choksy
    The writer is professor of Iranian studies and senior fellow of the Center on American and Global Security at Indiana University, Bloomington. (Forbes)
  • Suddenly You See a Rocket Flying Toward You - Hagit Riterman
    600,000 Israelis live in the Beersheba metropolitan area. Last Monday evening I was driving into Beersheba, listening to a song on the radio. Through the window I noticed a young girl running fast and looking scared, not sure where she was going. Suddenly I saw that all the cars ahead of me had stopped in the middle of the street. Their occupants were getting out and running. I understood - the air raid sirens.
        I ran with the others to take shelter between two buildings. There were women there hugging the concrete walls. Some were crouched down, and one was shaking. Other sat on the ground. Then someone shouted, "Look up!" and I saw them in the sky. Two bright lights, like balls of fire with tails, almost white, flying in an arch in the sky, coming from afar. I thought they were about to land next to us, but the Grad rockets continued to fly and passed over our heads.
        We heard explosions and later learned that the Iron Dome missile defense system succeeded in shooting down the two rockets that were aimed at the center of the city. When I saw the two rockets flying in the air, heading towards us, seconds before they passed overhead, I understood so well the fear that people here are now living with. We're not soldiers in wartime, we're the civilian population. And in the middle of an ordinary day, during a routine drive down the street, suddenly you see a rocket flying in your direction. (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 4Nov11)
        See also Iron Dome Intercepts Grad Rocket above Beersheba (Defence Professionals)
  • U.S. Relations with Arab States Hardly Affected by Its Relationship with Israel - Judith Miller
    In "Israel: A Strategic Asset for the United States," Robert Blackwill and Walter Slocombe, two senior national security gurus, conclude that America's close ties to Israel have advanced, not jeopardized, its national security interests. "Since 1973, we can't find a single example of tangible actions by Arab governments for which the U.S. paid a price for its relationship with Israel," Blackwill said.
        "Would Saudi Arabia's relationship with Washington be different if relations between Washington and Israel went into decline?" "Would they lower the price of oil? Would Riyadh view American democracy promotion in the Middle East more favorably? Would it regard U.S. Afghanistan policy more positively? Our criterion in this report was to check how the Arab governments act; not what they say," Blackwill said. (The Daily)

U.S. Support for Israel's Qualitative Military Edge - Andrew J. Shapiro (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Andrew J. Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, told the Washington Institute on Friday:

  • "Israel [is] a country with security challenges that few countries in the world can contemplate.... As Israel looks to the future, it should know that America will be there by its side."
  • "The cornerstone of America's security commitment to Israel has been an assurance that the United States would help Israel uphold its qualitative military edge. This is Israel's ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties."
  • "Today, in these budget-constrained times, some are now asking the question why should we keep providing aid to Israel?...We support Israel because it is in our national interests to do so....If Israel were weaker, its enemies would be bolder. This would make broader conflict more likely, which would be catastrophic to American interests in the region. It is the very strength of Israel's military which deters potential aggressors and helps foster peace and stability."
  • "The United States also experiences a number of tangible benefits from our close partnership with Israel. For instance, joint exercises allow us to learn from Israel's experience in urban warfare and counterterrorism. Israeli technology is proving critical to improving our homeland security and protecting our troops. One only has to look at Afghanistan and Iraq, where Israeli armor plating technology is being used on U.S. military vehicles and innovative equipment, such as the specially designed "Israeli bandage," is being used to treat our troops."
  • "The links between our two governments and U.S. and Israeli defense companies have yielded important, groundbreaking innovations that ultimately make us all safer. This involves sensors, unmanned aerial vehicle technology, surveillance equipment, and detection devices to seek out IED's that support our forces. Additionally...our security assistance to Israel also helps support American jobs, since the vast majority of security assistance to Israel is spent on American-made goods and services."

        See also Israel, U.S. to Embark on Largest Joint Exercise - Natasha Mozgovaya
    Israel and the U.S. will embark on the "largest" and "most significant" joint exercise in their history, said Andrew Shapiro, U.S. assistant secretary for political-military affairs, on Friday. Shapiro said the exercise will involve more than 5,000 U.S. and Israeli forces, and will simulate Israel's ballistic missile defense. (Ha'aretz)

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