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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
January 15, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Mali Islamists Vow to Strike "at Heart" of France (AFP-Asharq al-Awsat)
    Islamist forces based in northern Mali vowed Monday to avenge France's fierce military offensive against them on French soil.
    "France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France," said a leader of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
    See also Al-Qaeda's Dangerous Play in Mali - Bruce Riedel (Daily Beast)
    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb last year successfully gained the support of Ansar al Dine, a local jihadist group in Mali, and together they now control a huge expanse of territory.
    In the same way that al-Qaeda and the Taliban destroyed Afghanistan's historical treasures before 9/11, they are destroying the cultural heritage in the fabled city of Timbuktu.
    Jihadists from across the region are now flocking to Mali to get access to training, money and weapons.
    The jihadi offshoot in the Maghreb is also the fastest growing al-Qaeda franchise in the world today, and most of Mali's neighbors are horrified at what is taking place.
    After the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the group began to accumulate huge amounts of weapons from Libya.

U.S. Envoy Says Iran Working to Destabilize Yemen (Reuters)
    Iran is working with southern secessionists in Yemen to expand its influence and destabilize the strategic region around the Straits of Hormuz, the U.S. envoy to Yemen said Sunday.
    Yemen's state news agency Saba cited U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein as accusing Iran of supporting south Yemeni leaders trying to revive the formerly independent state of South Yemen, and naming Ali Salem al-Beidh, who runs a pro-independence satellite TV station from Lebanon, as one of them.
    "Ali Salem al-Beidh resides in Beirut and receives financial support from the Iranian government. We have no doubt that he is responsible for efforts to foil the Gulf initiative (for democratic transition in Yemen) by supporting the calls for secession."

Palestinian Poll: To Build a State, 60 Percent Say Hamas' Way Is Best - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    A poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza on Dec. 13-15, 2012, asked:
    In the latest war between Hamas and Israel, who was the winner? Hamas - 81%, Israel - 3%.
    Given the outcome of the war, whose way is the best to build a Palestinian state? Hamas' way - 60%, Abbas' way - 28%.
    Can people in the West Bank today criticize the authority without fear? Yes - 35%, No - 61%.
    Can people in Gaza today criticize the authority without fear? Yes - 29%, No - 59%.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Experts: Iran Could Reach Key Point for Nuclear Bomb by Mid-2014 - Tabassum Zakaria
    Iran could produce enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear bombs by mid-2014, and the U.S. and its allies should intensify sanctions on Tehran before that point is reached, a report by five U.S. nonproliferation experts said. President Barack Obama should also clearly state that the U.S. will take military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, the report said.
        The report "U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East" said: "Based on the current trajectory of Iran's nuclear program, we estimate that Iran could reach critical capability in mid-2014." It defined "critical capability" as the point when Iran would be able to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more bombs without detection by the West. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Judge Backs PA Bid to Conceal Memo Linking It to 2002 Israel Bombing - Bruce Golding
    Federal Judge Richard Leon in Washington has ruled that the Palestinian Authority has the right to cover up a memo linking it to a suicide bombing that killed two teen American citizens in Israel. The document - accidentally handed over to lawyers suing the PA for $300 million on behalf of the teens' parents - reveals a "close relationship" between the bomber and a captain in the PA security forces who planned the terror attack, court papers say. The memo, written in April 2012 by Maj. Ziad Abu Hamid of the PA General Intelligence Service, also details "at least six other critical facts" about the 2002 bombing and "clearly establishes the defendants' material support and liability."
        Court papers say the memo links Sadeq Hafez, an operative for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, to Raed Nazal, "who was both a salaried officer in the PA's security services and a leader of the PFLP cell in Kalkilya" in the West Bank. On Feb. 16, 2002, Hafez blew himself up in a packed pizzeria in Karnei Shomron, killing three teens, including Keren Shatsky, 15, and Rachel Thaler, 16. (New York Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hagel: "I Intend to Expand the Depth and Breadth of U.S.-Israel Cooperation" - Chemi Shalev
    In a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), U.S. Secretary of Defense-designate Chuck Hagel has expressed regret for using the term "Jewish lobby" and has reiterated his support for "a strong U.S.-Israel relationship" and for "Israel's right to defend itself against attack."
        Hagel wrote: "America's relationship with Israel is one that is fundamentally built on our nations shared values, common interests and democratic ideals. The Middle East is undergoing dramatic and historic changes, ones which surround Israel with tremendous uncertainty. We are working together daily, hand in hand, in unprecedented ways, to counter old, new and emerging mutual threats. I fully intend to expand the depth and breadth of U.S.-Israel cooperation."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF: "Attack Tunnel" Discovered in Israeli Territory near Gaza Border - Yoav Zitun
    IDF forces discovered the exit of a tunnel near the Gaza border, in Israeli territory close to the Nir Oz community. The army says the tunnel was part of an attempt to carry out terrorist attacks. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Arms Deal with Egypt Proceeds Smoothly Despite Objections - Daniel Siryoti
    The U.S. and Egypt are on the verge of closing a large military deal, in which the Egyptian military will receive new F-16 fighter jets and M1A1 Abrams battle tanks. The Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted a senior Egyptian defense official on Sunday saying that "a neighboring country [is] voicing their discontent about the scope of the deal to the Americans," a clear reference to Israel. The deal to provide Egypt with new F-16 jets had reportedly been signed two years ago, before Egypt's revolution. (Israel Hayom)
        See also F-16 Deal Redefines U.S. Relationship with Egypt's Morsi Administration - Ahmed Eleiba (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's IRGC Shows Its Hand in Syria - Will Fulton
    48 Iranians held captive by Syrian rebels since August arrived in Tehran on Jan. 9, after a prisoner exchange between rebels and the Assad government led to their release. Iranian media revealed the names of some of the hostages who hold active positions within the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) ground forces. We can now confirm that Iran has been deploying training teams to Syria. Tehran is actively assisting and mentoring Assad's military in the suppression of its people.
        The nature and significance of the hostages were apparent from the official party that met them on their return to Iran, including several key IRGC commanders. The hostages were apparently important senior leaders in the IRGC. Most Iranian covert military and terrorist operations abroad are conducted by the IRGC Quds Force. This incident demonstrates that elements of regular IRGC military units have also been sent on operations beyond Iran's borders. (American Enterprise Institute)
  • In Defense of Jewish Rights - Nadav Shragai
    The Palestinian "tent outpost" provocation in the E1 corridor, which was evacuated on Sunday, is only the tip of the iceberg in their efforts to prevent Jewish contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim. There are hundreds more temporary and permanent structures in the area between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, erected by the Palestinian Bedouin without permits and in violation of the law.
        Israel can learn a lot from the terminology used by the Palestinians in the showcase encampment. Every one of them spoke of "our territory" and "our homeland." Not a word about security. Only about their rights. On our side, when it comes to Jerusalem where Jewish settlement has been under complete consensus, there is no need to downplay our rights.
        The only two options in the E1 corridor are either Palestinian housing that would sever Jerusalem from Ma'ale Adumim, or Jewish housing that would connect the two cities. (Israel Hayom)
  • Egypt's Climate of Intimidation - Editorial
    The most important measure of Egypt's Islamist government will be whether it preserves the democratic norms that allowed its own rise to power. In recent months at least half a dozen prominent editors, writers and cartoonists have been the targets of criminal investigations, many of them launched by a prosecutor appointed by Morsi following complaints from the president's office. And the government has not hesitated to impose its agenda on state-run media, installing its own editors and yanking unsympathetic news hosts off the air. (Washington Post)

Israel's Jihad Is Mine - Qanta Ahmed (Times of Israel)

  • While Gaza and the Muslim Arab world continue to claim victory in the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, for the sane observers among us, there is only the defeat of morality in the desecration of a great religion. While most Muslims laud Hamas and scorn Israel, for me, an observing Muslim, Israel's war against Hamas remains my struggle - my jihad.
  • While Muslims define Israel as the enemy, we ignore Assad, and diabolically laud Hamas. Hamas is never sated - each year it devours ever more Palestinians, regardless of age or gender. If Israelis lose fewer citizens than the Palestinians in these conflicts it is for the same reason Israel exchanges more prisoners for each captive soldier: quite simply Israel values human life more than does Hamas, which relishes ground operations taking place among densely populated civilian areas.
  • Coloring their fascism with Islam, Hamas claims religious legitimacy to openly seek destruction of the Jewish state and eradication of the Jewish people. Hamas does not represent me, or other believing Muslims. Yet instead of condemning Hamas, and recognizing them as imposters among us, the Muslim world celebrates them, even as Hamas violates the most profound Islamic principle: the sanctity of life.
  • As a Muslim, my loyalty is with Islam, and therefore explicitly with justice for all humanity, a humanity that must include Jews. To be loyal to Hamas is to abandon Islam. It is Muslims who must take the first steps to expose Hamas as the ruthless nihilists they explicitly announce themselves to be.

    Dr. Qanta Ahmed is Associate Professor of Medicine at the State University of New York (Stony Brook).

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