Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 18, 2012

In-Depth Issue:

Iran�s High Card at the Nuclear Table as Negotiations Resume Today - William J. Broad (New York Times)
��The rising hostilities against Iran and its atomic complex � assassinations and cyberattacks, trade bans and oil embargoes, frozen assets and banking prohibitions � have clearly done much to bring Tehran back to negotiations, which are to resume Monday. But the drama has also tended to overshadow a central fact: the Iranians have managed to steadily increase their enrichment of uranium and are now raising their production of a concentrated form close to bomb grade.
�� Ray Takeyh, an Iran specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said a crisis never erupted because the Iranians made their moves so gradually. The international community, he noted, �gets acclimated.�
�� As if tensions weren�t high enough, experts say that Tehran might raise the stakes further by re-enriching some of its growing supply of 20 percent uranium to even higher levels of purity.

Egypt's Revolution Stalls in Divide-and-Conquer Politics - Charles Levinson and Matt Bradley (Wall Street Journal)
��Egypt's Arab Spring revolution, which toppled Mr. Mubarak in 18 days, has stalled in a quagmire of divide-and-conquer politics, leaving the country's revolutionaries splintered and disillusioned. The unity between Egypt's secular and Islamist forces drove the uprising. But growing rifts between the conservative, religious Brotherhood and the largely liberal, secular revolutionaries now appears one of the most damaging cracks in Egypt's revolution.
�� The Muslim Brotherhood had long preferred backroom deals with the regime over street protests. Egypt's secular opposition, meanwhile, grew suspicious of the Brotherhood's political ambitions and Islamist agenda.
�� "Everyone thought the military were idiots. They weren't," said Josh Stacher, a professor at Kent State University who spent 15 years in Egypt studying the Mubarak regime's ruling tactics. "The revolutionaries didn't understand how the system works and they miscalculated again and again."

Saudi Succession and the Illusion of Stability - Karen Elliott House (Wall Street Journal)
��The death and burial this weekend of Saudi Crown Prince Nayef, the second Saudi crown prince to die in less than a year, demonstrates the inherent instability of the absolute monarchy still being ruled by the geriatric sons of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia.
�� King Abdullah is himself 89 and in failing health. So the looming question is will the ruling Al Saud family pass the crown to yet another geriatric brother of the king? Or will he seize this occasion to jump to a new generation of royals who might be able to revitalize the moribund kingdom?
�� The kingdom faces multiple problems: Unemployment is 40% among 20- to 24-year-olds, 40% of Saudis live on less than $1,000 a month, the kingdom's one-dimensional economy earns nearly 80% of its revenues from oil, and 90% of all workers in its private sector are foreigners.
�� A growing number of frustrated Saudis no longer either respect or fear their leaders.
�� Much like the Soviet Union in its final years when power passed from one old man to another � Brezhnev to Andropov to Chernenko � in quick succession, the Saudi royal family continues to pass the crown from one aged son of the founder to the next.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Islamist Claims Victory in Egypt President Vote - Sarah El Deeb and Lee Keath
    The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won Egypt's presidential election, which would be the first victory of an Islamist as head of state in the stunning wave of protests demanding democracy that swept the Middle East. But the military handed itself the lion's share of power over the new president, sharpening the possibility of confrontation. With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals issued an interim constitution granting themselves sweeping authorities that ensure their hold on the state and subordinate the president.
    ��Official final results are not due until Thursday, and Ahmed Shafiq's campaign challenged the Brotherhood claim. (AP)
  • 44 Senators Urge Obama to Cut Off Iran Negotiations Unless Progress Made - Josh Rogin
    Nearly half the Senate told President Barack Obama on Friday that unless Iran gives three specific concessions at talks with world powers in Moscow, he should abandon the ongoing negotiations over the country's nuclear program.
    ��"It is past time for the Iranians to take the concrete steps that would reassure the world that their nuclear program is, as they claim, exclusively peaceful," wrote 44 senators in a bipartisan letter organized by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). "Absent these steps, we must conclude that Tehran is using the talks as a cover to buy time as it continues to advance toward nuclear weapons capability."
    ��The senators wrote that the "absolute minimum" Iran must do immediately to justify further talks is to shut down the Fordo uranium enrichment facility near Qom, freeze all uranium enrichment above 5 percent, and ship all uranium enriched above 5 percent out of the country. (The Cable, Foreign Policy)
  • Syria Accused of Violence Rise after UN Halts Monitors - Khaled Yacoub Oweis
    President Bashar al-Assad's army intensified shelling of Sunni Muslim regions in central and northern Syria on Sunday, killing at least 50 people and wounding hundreds hours after U.N. monitors suspended their work, opposition activists said. The monitors' decision on Saturday was the clearest sign yet that a peace plan brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan had collapsed. (Reuters)
  • Neo-Nazi 'Aided Munich Olympics Massacre'
    The Munich massacre of 1972 has long been considered the sole work of Palestinian terrorist group Black September, but new evidence has emerged suggesting the involvement of German neo-Nazis, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Sunday.
    ��Historical documents released to the magazine by the German secret service show that Dortmund police had been aware of collaboration between Palestinian terrorist Abu Daud and neo-Nazi Willi Pohl seven weeks before the attack - yet did not intervene, wrote the paper.
    ��Pohl is said to have put Abu Daud in touch with an expert in falsifying identity documents. Daud was one of the chief orchestrators of the massacre in which eleven Israeli atheletes were killed, nine following a botched rescue attempt by German police. (The Local - Germany)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Israeli Killed as IDF, Terrorists Exchange Fire along Egypt Border - Gili Cohen
    An Israeli citizen and two terrorists were killed Monday morning during clashes between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and terrorists who infiltrated the southern border with Egypt.
    ��Initial information reveals that a terrorist cell penetrated the fence along the Gaza-Sinai border on Monday morning, set off an explosive device, and fired an RPG rocket at a team of Defense Ministry employees who were working on the construction of the border fence. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Bracing for Increased Rocket Fire from Sinai - Yaakov Katz and Yaakov Lappin
    The IDF is bracing for an increase in rocket attacks from the Sinai Peninsula and into Israel over the coming days as the Egyptian presidential election comes to a close.
    ��A senior defense official said Sunday that Israel had not yet confirmed the identity of the terror cell that launched two rockets into southern Israel on Friday night � one near Uvda and the other near Mitzpe Ramon. The rockets were both identified as 122 mm Katyushas which have a range of 50 km with a 30 kilogram explosive warhead. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Police: Truck Driver Kills 2 Palestinian Robbers
    A tow truck driver from Ashkelon shot to death two Palestinians on Sunday who tried to rob him in the south Mount Hebron area. Another Palestinian was injured in the incident. Sources at the Shai District police said that the driver, in his 30s, was beaten by the Palestinians with a wrench and was lightly injured. Despite his injury, the driver shot at the suspects who were killed as a result. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran Negotiates a Nuclear Bomb - Ray Takeyh
    A subtle shift is emerging in the Islamic Republic�s nuclear calculus. Officials in Tehran increasingly sense that it may be easier to get the bomb through an agreement than by pursuing it outside the parameters of a deal.
    ��To an extent that Iranian officials even contemplate a nuclear deal, they stress that it has to be predicated on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In Iran�s telling, the treaty grants it the right to construct an extensive nuclear apparatus featuring a vast enrichment capacity. Iran�s craving for nuclear science would be satiated while the West gains an ability to closely monitor its activities. The problem is that such an agreement may yet prove Iran�s most suitable path to the bomb.
    ��As part of any realistic agreement, the United States and its allies must impose serious curbs on Iran�s nuclear ambitions. This implies that Iran cannot maintain enriched uranium and must export all of its accumulated stock for reprocessing abroad.
    ��Given that he seems disinclined to adjust his objective of nuclear empowerment, Iran�s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is confident of his strategy: In the past decade he has managed to cross successive Western �red lines.� Through similar persistence and patience, he perceives that he can once more obtain the deal that he wants � a deal that is a prelude to the bomb. (Washington Post)
  • Syria�s Assad Has Embraced Pariah Status - Marc Fisher
    Today, as Assad�s government responds with unrelenting force to a popular uprising of the sort that has brought down regimes across the Middle East over the past 18 months, Syria�s ruler has embraced his image as a global pariah. He will not flee and will not bend to foreign pressure, he has said publicly and privately.
    ���In his mind, if Syria becomes the North Korea of the Middle East for 10 years, so be it,� said David Lesch, a historian and author of a book about Assad.
    ��Leaving the country is a possibility Assad has considered and rejected. �He told me he and his family could get out, but the Alawites would be massacred, as well as the other minorities, and he therefore could not just leave,� said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who spent more than three hours in one-on-one conversation with Assad during a visit last year. (Washington Post)
  • Syria and the Decline of the UN - Dore Gold
    The crisis over Syria is the third major case of mass murder in the last 20 years in which the U.N. has completely failed to halt the continuing bloodshed. The inability of the U.N. to intervene in the previous crises in Rwanda and Bosnia caused many commentators to charge that the U.N. was becoming a bankrupt organization, that was not fulfilling one of its main original purposes.
    ��The reason why the U.N. fails time and again to halt mass murder and even genocide is because of the interests of its member states. If the U.N. is a paralyzed body that cannot take decisions about cases of genocide, treating aggressors and their victims equivalently, then why should Israel listen to its moral judgments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (Israel Hayom)
  • Observations:

    Portents All Bad for Syrian Bloodbath - Greg Sheridan (The Australian)

  • On balance, it is right that Western policy seek the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime, which has killed nearly 15,000 of its own people in the past 16 months. Syria is Iran's only state ally in the Middle East. Depriving Iran of its key ally is a sound objective. But the dangers are acute.
  • By making the conflict sectarian, Assad does three things. He consolidates Alawite control of vital areas of the country. He binds the whole Alawite community to his fate, because Alawites now know there will be fearsome revenge killings of their people if Assad is toppled. And he radicalizes the Sunni opposition.
  • A certain number, probably 1,000 or more, of international jihadists, some with al-Qa'ida connections, have flooded into Syria as the latest jihad battleground. Expect more. This dynamic, ironically, takes advantage of networks Assad himself set up to send extremists into Iraq.
  • Where is America in all this? As recently as five years ago, you would have expected Washington to take a leading hand in promoting moderate Syrian leaders. The U.S. is not a significant player, which means whatever moderate oppositionists there are will receive no significant outside help. This, sadly, is a general sign of the decline of U.S. influence in the Middle East.
  • The contrast many Arabs draw is with the way Russia is sticking to its Syrian ally. Moscow has substantial interests in Syria. More than that, Russia sees its prestige tied up in its loyalty to an ally.

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