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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
April 4, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Braces for Massive Cyber-Offensive (Times of Israel)
    Hackers organized by the activist group Anonymous are plotting to strike Israel's online presence in a coordinated cyber-attack on Sunday, April 7, just prior to Holocaust Remembrance Day.
    See also Hackers Target Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia (Times of Israel)

Dubai Police Chief: Muslim Brotherhood Sows Subversion in Gulf - Mirna Sleiman and William Maclean (Reuters)
    Dubai's veteran police chief Dhahi Khalfan reiterated in an interview this week that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was linked to an alleged plot to topple the UAE government, saying the group's ultimate goal was Islamist rule in all Gulf states.
    "The Brotherhood as a ruling party in Egypt has no right to interfere with other countries. They... should respect the independence of other countries."
    Khalfan complained that the West "sympathizes, adopts and supports" the Brotherhood, saying he did not understand why.

Egypt Loses from Gaza's Tunnel Economy - Ali Ibrahim (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Gaza's smuggling economy has now become a billion-dollar industry, with a Hamas government committee overseeing the opening of new passages and the management of tunnels.
    There are partners on the Egyptian side who bring goods and commodities from Egypt, creating a unique economic partnership where parties on both sides have a keen interest in maintaining the tunnel trade.
    The tunnels also offer an opportunity to smuggle subsidized Egyptian commodities that are banned from being exported, such as petroleum products or certain food items. On the Egyptian side this represents a constant economic hemorrhage.
    The tunnels also constitute a security risk to Egypt with Hamas' expanding influence in Sinai, and the rumors of Palestinian militants crossing into Egypt.
    This explains the recent Egyptian security campaign to demolish the tunnels, a campaign that is now far more proactive than during the Mubarak era.
    See also Gaza's Tunnel Phenomenon - Nicolas Pelham (Journal of Palestine Studies)

Number of Infiltrators into Israel from Sinai Drops Drastically - Ben Hartman (Jerusalem Post)
    According to figures released by the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority on Wednesday, the number of migrants who crossed into Israel from Sinai seeking work totaled 10 people in January and 5 in February, since the new fence was completed along the Egyptian border.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Wary Ahead of Iran Nuclear Talks
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday expressed concern ahead of the next round of talks between Iran and the international community over Tehran's nuclear program. "This model of a country talking, but at the same time developing nuclear weapons; threatening and at the same time developing nuclear weapons and threatening the use of nuclear weapons, we cannot allow this to happen in Iran," Netanyahu said in a statement. "There are many issues in the Middle East, the issues between us and the Palestinians and our quest for peace, there are regional issues, but I think they will be overshadowed if Iran believes it has a license to develop atomic weapons" and continues weapons development, he said. "We have to make sure this doesn't happen."  (AFP)
  • Syria Becoming New Cradle for Foreign Extremists - Alex Spillius
    Syria is becoming a new breeding ground for jihadist fighters, with up to 5,500 foreigners having joined the civil war there. Researchers from King's College, taking information from "martyrdom notices" on jihadist websites and hundreds of press reports, found that between 28 and 134 fighters came from Britain. Ireland produced the highest number per capita, with 26, thanks to a group of men of Libyan origin.
        Past experience suggested that fighters returning to Europe from Syria would pose a threat at home. "European security services are well advised to monitor the situation closely" when "dealing with returning fighters," said a briefing paper by Aaron Zelin for the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Palestinians Killed While Attacking IDF Post with Firebombs
    Several Palestinians attacked an IDF post with firebombs on Wednesday near Einav in the West Bank. The soldiers returned fire and killed two of the assailants. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Inmates Treated Better in Israel than in PA - Itzik Saban
    "Palestinians who are imprisoned in Israel have access to excellent medical care, and are allowed visits by International Committee of the Red Cross officials. Prisoners in Palestinian Authority prisons do not enjoy such conditions," the Prime Minister's Office said on Tuesday. Riots broke out in the West Bank after the death of prisoner Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh who died of terminal cancer at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Hamdiyeh had been sentenced to life in prison for his part in a 2002 plot to bomb a cafe in Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
  • PA Poll: 58% Say Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation Will Not Succeed If the PA Continues to Recognize Israel and the Oslo Agreements - Khalil Shikaki
    According to a Palestinian poll conducted on March 28-30, 2013, perception of corruption in PA institutions in the West Bank stands at 78%. 33% say people in the West Bank can criticize the PA without fear, while only 25% say people in the Gaza can criticize the Hamas authorities without fear.
        58% say Fatah-Hamas reconciliation will not succeed if the PA continues to recognize Israel and the Oslo agreements. 56% oppose mutual recognition of Israel as the state for the Jewish people and Palestine as the state for the Palestinian people. 68% believe that the chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state during the next five years are low or non-existent. 40% support a return to an armed intifada. Regarding the preferred role for the U.S. in the peace process, 45% want a stronger U.S. role, while 46% want to see the U.S. out of the process. (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Germany Must Have Israel's Back - Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Ulf Gartzke
    Germany bears a special historical and moral responsibility to support Israel against an Iranian threat. First, Israel's leaders and the Israeli public view the Iranian peril primarily through the prism of the Holocaust. Proponents of a military strike on Iran often point to the Shoah as ultimate proof that Tehran's threats to destroy the State of Israel must be taken seriously. Second, ever since she became the first German chancellor to address the Knesset, in 2008, Angela Merkel has repeatedly declared that "Israel's security is part of Germany's raison d'etre" and that it can "never be negotiable."
        What's missing, however, is a broader debate - both in public and among top German officials - about what Berlin should do if diplomacy fails and Israel is compelled to take military action against the Iranian nuclear threat. Germany's first priority should be to offer Israel civil and military assistance to defend against potential counterattacks.
        Finally, Germany needs to marshal its full political and economic weight to maintain a tough international sanctions regime against Tehran. Mr. zu Guttenberg is a former German defense minister, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Gartzke teaches at Georgetown University's BMW Center for German and European Studies. (Wall Street Journal Europe)
  • Different Standards If Muslims Kill Muslims - Burak Bekdil
    In the Mavi Marmara raid in 2010, Israeli forces unintentionally killed nine Turks. On Dec. 28, 2011, the Turkish Air Force bombed a group of mostly teenage villagers from Uludere in southeastern Turkey, mistaking them for terrorists and killing 34 Turkish citizens. I tend to believe that in both cases the tragic deaths of Turkish citizens should be blamed on gross operational mistakes. But what makes the Mavi Marmara galaxies away from Uludere in terms of legal, moral and political implications?
        In May 2012, an Istanbul state prosecutor prepared indictments carrying life sentences for four Israeli commanders involved in the raid, charging each of them with first-degree murder, assault, and torture. Meanwhile, not a single Turkish officer/official has been indicted over Uludere. Is this a "family affair" in which the father can kill a son and go unaccountable, but would campaign for revenge if a stranger killed his son?
        In the immediate aftermath of Mavi Marmara, I wrote in this column: "Subconsciously (and sadly) the Muslim-Turkish thinking tolerates it if Muslims kill Muslims; does not tolerate it but does not turn the world upside down when Christians kill Muslims; pragmatically ignores it when too-powerful Christians kill Muslims; but is programmed to turn the world upside down when Jews kill Muslims."  (Hurriyet-Turkey)
  • No More Incentives for Iran - Michael Rubin
    Does Iranian behavior suggest that incentives work? The answer is no. Since 1992, successive generations of European and American governments have been trying to entice Iran, trying to buy Iranian compliance. While the Iranian regime was always willing to encourage a sweetening of the pot, at no time has its behavior suggested that such a strategy will work. Indeed, the obsessive American approach to trying to bribe Iran only humiliates the U.S. in the eyes of Iranian officials.
        The Iranian government has repeatedly approached talks insincerely, and has no intention of forfeiting its illicit nuclear weapons program. After two decades of diplomacy, Iranian authorities know what they need to do. It is time Western diplomats underline a choice: Tehran can abandon its nuclear program, or they can face the consequences. The writer, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served as a staff adviser for Iran and Iraq at the Pentagon between 2002 and 2004. (Commentary)

Don't Misunderstand Khamenei's Nuclear Fatwa - Ariane Tabatabai (Arms Control and Regional Security for the Middle East)

  • The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa (religious edict) that the use of nuclear weapons is prohibited under Islamic law. However, Iranian authorities have never presented the text of this document. It does not appear on Khamenei's comprehensive website, which includes the texts of all of his teachings, statements, and speeches.
  • Whether or not Khamenei can even issue such a decree is debatable, as he is not a religious authority (marja) in the traditional sense, but rather a member of the Shiite clergy, who has received much of his authority not from his religious education and status but from his political power. 
  • fatwa is not absolute and irreversible. The Islamic Republic's Shiite political ideology enables the Supreme Leader to overrule any religious rule in order to safeguard the regime.
  • The fatwa seems to have been created to convince a Western audience of Iran's peaceful intentions. This is why the fatwa is hyped by Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while it has remained virtually absent in domestic debates in Iran. Indeed, the fatwa discourse has never been a central element of any of Khamenei's speeches regarding the nuclear program.
  • The Iranian campaign for the international community to take the fatwa seriously is based on the Islamic Republic's ideology and strategy. The fatwa is a way of defying the international community and undermining its will.

    The writer is a Ph.D. candidate at King's College, London.

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