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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
July 31, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Syrian Charge D'Affaires in London Resigns (Foreign Office-UK)
    The Syrian Charge D'Affaires, Khaled al-Ayoubi, informed the Foreign Office Monday that he has left his post in the Syrian Embassy in London.
    A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "Mr. al-Ayoubi has told us that he is no longer willing to represent a regime that has committed such violent and oppressive acts against its own people."
    See also Syrian Brigadier General Defects to Turkey (Reuters)
    The deputy police chief of Latakia, a Sunni Muslim brigadier-general, defected to Turkey with 11 other Syrian officers, a Turkish official said on Monday.

Syrian Army Attacks UN Mission Chief's Convoy (AP-Washington Post)
    Syrian tanks attacked a convoy carrying Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye, the head of the UN observer mission, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday.
    He said a dozen armored vehicles used by the observers have been destroyed by blasts and shelling.

Rural Syria Slips from Assad's Grip - Liz Sly (Washington Post)
    Even as Assad's forces have poured resources into sustaining their hold on major population centers, they have steadily been losing control of the countryside.
    See also In Damascus, Losing Faith in Assad (Washington Post)
    Even as forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reassert control over much of Damascus, residents of the capital say they feel increasingly distant from the government they have long supported and are confident that it will eventually fall.
    A resident of the Midan neighborhood, a government worker who had been paid to break up anti-Assad protests by shocking demonstrators with electric prods, said any loyalty he felt to the government has disappeared.
    "How can you work for a government which shelled and destroyed your neighborhood?" he said.
    The rebel Free Syrian Army enjoys strong support in many parts of the capital.

Jewish Gymnast Aly Raisman Dances "Hava Nagila" to Olympic Glory - Greg Tepper (Times of Israel)
    Jewish U.S. Olympian Alexandra (Aly) Raisman, who advanced Monday to the all-around individual finals in London, chose "Hava Nagila" (Let's Rejoice) as the background music for her qualifying-round routine.

Mrs. Assad Duped Me - Joan Juliet Buck (Newsweek)
    When I got a call from a features editor at Vogue asking if I wanted to go to Syria to interview the first lady, Asma al-Assad, there was no way of knowing that this piece would cost me my livelihood and end my association with the magazine.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Authorizes Financial Support for the Free Syrian Army - Laura Rozen
    The Syrian Support Group received a waiver last week from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) authorizing it to provide logistical and financial support to the Free Syrian Army. "The OFAC decision is huge," said Brian Sayers, the Washington agent for the SSG. "It gets us the leeway to support the Free Syrian Army in broad terms."
        In the near-term, the "OFAC letter allows for providing financial, communications and logistics support to the FSA," Sayers said. On their more intermediate term wish-list, "our ask is intelligence support, drone support, eyes in the sky, an intelligence platform," Sayers said. Free Syrian Army commanders have recently increased their coordination, including holding conference calls almost daily, Sayers said.  (Al-Monitor)
  • U.S. Defense Chief: Syrian Military Must Remain Intact
    U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CNN Monday in an interview that when Bashar al-Assad loses his grip on power, he wants the Syrian military to remain in place. "I think it's important when Assad leaves - and he will leave - to try to preserve stability in that country. And the best way to preserve that kind of stability is to maintain as much of the military, the police, as you can, along with the security forces." He said the U.S. shouldn't allow a repeat of "the same mistakes we made in Iraq," where the U.S. disbanded the Iraqi military. (CNN)
  • U.S. Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Iran Sanctions - Josh Rogin
    House and Senate negotiators have reached a compromise on a new set of Iran sanctions. "This bill is a major step towards economic warfare against the Iranian regime. It closes significant loopholes and tightens U.S. sanctions in key areas including shipping. But Iranian nuclear physics is beating Western economic pressure," said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "We need to skip intermediate steps and go to comprehensive economic warfare....Destroying the regime's energy wealth is the best way to avoid a military confrontation."
        "What exactly is this going to do to get the Iranians to the table? This is the time for the mallet, not fine-needle surgery," said Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute. "Our purpose is not to have effective sanctions; our purpose is to bring them to the table to give up their nuclear ambitions."  (Foreign Policy)
        See also Panetta: Iran Sanctions Haven't Yet Worked (AP-Washington Post)
  • Delhi Police Name Iranian Revolutionary Guard for Attack on Israeli Diplomat - Neeraj Chauhan
    The Delhi Police have concluded that the suspects involved in the February 13 bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat in India's capital were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the nation's military. Their investigation report states that the IRGC members had discussed the plan with Indian journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi in January 2011, who has been in touch with these people for almost ten years.
        Delhi Police have sought more details about the five IRGC members, including Houshang Afshar Irani, Sedaghatzadeh Masoud, Syed Ali Mahdiansadr, Mohammad Reza Abolghasemi, and Ali Akbar Norouzishayan. Masoud is the operational head and it was he who planned the attacks in Georgia, Bangkok and Delhi. Police have also come across the role of an Iranian woman, Leila Rohani, in the New Delhi attack as well as the attacks in Bangkok and Georgia. (Times of India)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Dramatic Decrease in Infiltration Across Israel-Egyptian Border
    Only 6 infiltrators entered Israel last weekend and a total of 248 entered the country in July, compared with 1,000 infiltrators who entered in June and 2,000 in May. All of the infiltrators tried to cross the Israeli-Egyptian border in places where the fence has yet to be completed. 205 km. of fence has been completed; another 22.5 km. remains and is expected to be completed by October. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Mass Grave Revealed in Underground Cave on Jerusalem's Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai
    During a conference on Thursday at Megalim - the City of David Institute for Jerusalem Studies - veteran archaeological journalist Benny Liss screened a movie recorded a few years ago that clearly shows thousands of skeletons and human bones in what appears to be a mass grave in a spacious, underground cavern in the area of the Mercy Gate, near the eastern wall of the Temple Mount but just outside it. Liss, a correspondent for Israel's Channel 1 TV, raised the possibility that the skeletons were the remains of 6,000 Jews, mostly women and children, killed on the Temple Mount when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. Antiquities Authority staff have since resealed the cave. (Israel Hayom)
        See also The Gate of Mercy of Jerusalem's Old City - Lenny Ben-David (Israel Daily Picture)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why American Non-Jews Support Israel - Walter Russell Mead
    Presidential candidates stressing their pro-Israel positions are more likely to be chasing non-Jewish than Jewish votes. In American politics, taking a strong pro-Israel stand is a way of communicating your commitment to American exceptionalism and to American global leadership.
        From the time of Cotton Mather in 1690 right on up through 1948, there is a steady stream of American Christian theological writing that interprets the Bible as predicting the return of the Jews to the Promised Land. That the Bible predicted something that seemed so unlikely that then actually happened serves for many people as a powerful sign of God's continuing work in history.
        Large numbers of Americans think that Israel's most bitter enemies are also deadly enemies of the U.S. It sounds odd, but it is very true: Israel is as American as apple pie. (American Interest)
  • The Religious Silence on Christian Persecution - Ben Cohen and Keith Roderick
    This month Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani marked his 1,000th day of incarceration in Lakan prison in northern Iran. We can help Christian leaders in Muslim countries who are concerned with surviving from one day to the next not by engaging in bland dialogues but by compelling those who rule them to respect their right to worship.
        At their annual convention this month, Presbyterians in America approved a divestment campaign targeting Jewish communities in the West Bank. Pastor Nadarkhani wasn't even mentioned. At the Episcopalian convention days later, resolutions about Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process were tabled, but the imprisoned Iranian pastor was similarly absent. As for the bombings of churches in Africa and Asia, it's as if they never even happened. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Egypt's Brilliant, Manipulative Muslim Brotherhood - Dina Khayat
    Since the January 2011 uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood have succeeded in portraying themselves as the only strong, organized political force that can represent the majority in Egypt. The reality is quite different. In Egypt's June 18 presidential election runoff, the turnout was low, with about 50% of voters abstaining. Islamists in all their hues voted en masse for the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, giving him 51.73% of the vote. The rest went for Ahmed Shafik, a former general and the last prime minister under Hosni Mubarak.
        Thus, around a quarter of Egypt's voters cast a ballot for Morsi. While the Muslim Brotherhood are an integral part of Egyptian political reality, it is fatally wrong to believe that they represent any sort of majority. (Wall Street Journal Europe)

Thank Israel that Syria's Assad Doesn't Have Nukes - Alan Elsner (Huffington Post)

  • The danger presented today by the presence of Syrian chemical and biological weapons is bad enough. Just think how much more dangerous the situation would have been if there were loose nukes lying around. The world should be thankful that the Assad regime never succeeded in developing nuclear weapons - which almost happened in 2007.
  • Syria was building a nuclear reactor similar to North Korea's Yongbyon reactor which was used to build nuclear bombs. The Mossad assessment was that the reactor would become "hot" within a few months and would produce enough plutonium for a nuclear bomb within a year. Once it went online, the reactor could not have been attacked without the danger of spreading deadly radiation throughout the region.
  • After U.S. President George W. Bush refused an Israeli request in June 2007 to bomb the facility, Israel did so in a two-minute air raid on Sept. 6, 2007. The International Atomic Energy Agency said in June 2011 that the destroyed building "was very likely" a nuclear reactor. As the Syrian situation proves today, Israel did the entire world a huge favor.

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