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May 24, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Dozens of Hizbullah Fighters Killed in Syria (AFP)
    75 fighters from Lebanon's Hizbullah have been killed in Syria since late last year, a source close to Hizbullah said Thursday. "There have been 57 killed and 18 others who have died of their wounds since the start of its participation in the war in Syria," said the source.
    Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said, "In the past five days, 46 [Hizbullah fighters] were killed in Qusayr, 20 more died in the same area earlier this month, and 38 have died since the autumn in Homs province and at the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine."
    Waddah Sharara, an expert on Hizbullah, says the militia has 20,000 fighters, of whom 5,000 to 7,000 have combat experience, and between 800 and 1,200 of them have been fighting at Qusayr.

Reporters, Human Rights Activists Trash Israel on Secret Facebook Site - Alana Goodman (Washington Free Beacon)
    A "secret" Facebook group of foreign correspondents and human rights activists devolved into an anti-Israel hate-fest on Tuesday following the release of a new Israeli government report that cleared the IDF of wrongdoing in the 2000 death of Palestinian boy Muhammad al-Dura.
    Journalists and activists mocked the report and attacked the IDF in a Facebook group known as the "Vulture Club."
    Peter Bouckaert, a senior official at Human Rights Watch, dismissed the report as "typical IDF lies."
    Associated Press photojournalist Jerome Delay wrote, "The IDF thinks the earth is flat, btw."

Syrian Civil War May Continue for Years - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    The chances for a negotiated solution to the conflict between the rebels and the regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad are poor.
    The Syrian civil war is likely to continue for years and lead to violent spillovers in neighboring countries like the recent terror attacks in Turkey, the power struggles in Lebanon, the threat of al-Qaeda in Jordan, and fire directed at Israel.

Saudi to "Protest Strongly" Against Iranian Spying - Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi (Al-Arabiya)
    Saudi Arabia "will protest strongly" against Iranian espionage, "and inform international agencies, including the United Nations and the Arab League, in order to adopt a suitable stance against Iran," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on Wednesday.
    Last week, Saudi Arabia announced the arrest of ten more individuals in connection with an Iranian espionage case. The new group included eight Saudis, a Lebanese and a Turk.

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Another Gas Discovery Near Israel (Oil and Gas Journal)
    Noble Energy has added to a series of natural gas discoveries in deep water offshore Israel.
    The Karish discovery well, 20 miles northeast of the Tamar gas field, is estimated to contain 1.8 tcf.

Israeli Hackers Fight Back - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    After April's largely unsuccessful campaign by Anonymous and Arab hackers to "remove Israel from the Internet," a second round of hack attacks against Israeli sites is planned for Saturday.
    After the original attack, a joint American and Israeli pro-Israel hacker team called the Israel Elite Force has been responding, listing personal details of individuals the group says are key figures in the anti-Israel hacking operations.
    "We know who you are," the group says on its web page. The page posts several color photos, names, locations, and IP addresses of administrators and hackers who are actively involved in attempting to hack Israeli sites, and who hail from India, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, and Malaysia.

UK Students Reject Israel Boycott - Marcus Dysch (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Britain's National Union of Students has rejected a proposal to join the international boycott movement against Israel.
    At a national executive meeting only five NUS officers voted in favor of an anti-Israel motion, with 15 against and three abstentions.

Video: How Israel Defends Commercial Airliners Against Shoulder-Fired Rockets (Elbit)
    Today, aviation is facing a new challenge - protecting planes and helicopters from shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles.
    Elbit Systems presents MUSIC - Multi-spectral infra-red countermeasures.
    Commercial airlines are extremely vulnerable to ground-based attacks. From missile launch to target impact takes 6 to 10 seconds - no time for pilot reaction.
    MUSIC handles the threat in real time.

Israel Is a Small Country in a Big, Bad Neighborhood - Margaret Wente (Globe and Mail-Canada)
    Israel is a small country in a big, bad neighborhood.
    You can drive from one end to the other in a few hours, and across it in much less time than that. You can see Lebanon, Syria and Jordan in the north, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the south.
    Yet ordinary life is astonishingly normal. Despite the fact that half the neighbors want to wipe them out, most Israelis are more preoccupied with the high cost of living.

New Agricultural Research in Israel - Linda Gradstein (Medialine)
    At the Volcani Center, Israel's Agricultural Research Organization, potatoes sprayed with spearmint oil are not sprouting for months, Granny Smith apples deprived of oxygen stay fresh for over a year, and cows are eating less grain and producing more milk.
    Some Israeli innovations, like drip irrigation, are well-known. But others, like colored netting draped over plants to increase yields, or especially sweet seedless tangerines marketed in Europe, are less known.
    "In 1955, one Israeli farmer could feed 15 people, while in 2007, that same farmer could feed 100 people," said Prof. Ada Rafaeli of the Volcani Center.
    About one-third of food is wasted, she says, mostly because it goes bad before it can be eaten. Israel is trying to come up with solutions to make food last longer and taste better.

Diversity Makes Life Rich in Israel - Diana Bletter (Huffington Post)
    Nasra Hussein just came back from a scientific conference in Austria where she met other scientists, from places like Saudi Arabia and South Africa, who were shocked to discover that she, a Muslim Arab, was living and working with Jews in Israel.
    Nasra explained that she works at Nahariya hospital (bombed by Hizbullah during the 2006 Israel-Hizbullah War). The hospital staff consists of Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druse.

Photos: Scenes of Jerusalem - Aviram Valdman (The Tower-Israel Project)
    A photo essay of the people found at Jerusalem's most unforgettable sites.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Secretary of State Kerry Visits Israel, PA - Jo Biddle
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted on Thursday there was skepticism about his bid to broker new talks between Israelis and Palestinians on his fourth visit to the region. Kerry has now visited Israel as many times in his first months in office as his predecessor Hillary Clinton did in four years.
        Kerry has acknowledged the difficulties ahead. "I know this region well enough to know there is skepticism, in some quarters there is cynicism, and there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment," he said. "It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient, but detailed and tenacious, we can lay on a path ahead that can conceivably surprise people and certainly exhaust the possibilities for peace."
        Kerry also revealed that U.S. General John Allen, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was "here on the ground working with his counterparts on the issues of security."  (AFP)
        See also Gen. John Allen Appointed U.S. Security Envoy in Peace Process - Barak Ravid
    Gen. John Allen has been appointed special U.S. envoy on security issues in negotiations between Israel and the PA. Allen will deal with the U.S. position on Israeli security needs and the security arrangements that would accompany the establishment of a future Palestinian state. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel's Critical Security Requirements for Defensible Borders: The Foundation for a Viable Peace
    A group of senior Israeli generals outlines the basic principles of a defense policy, rooted in a consensus spanning past and present Israeli governments, which is focused on Israel maintaining defensible borders. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Syria Conflict Uproots Palestinians - Albert Aji
    Syria's fighting has uprooted more than half of the country's 530,000 Palestinians, Filippo Grandi, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency, said Thursday. He said most of the 12 Palestinian camps have been affected by the fighting. "Armed groups and the government are confronting each other near the camps, inside the camps, and most or a large portion of the Palestinian population has had to leave those camps."
        The Yarmouk refugee camp, a sprawling neighborhood of 150,000 Palestinians on the outskirts of Damascus, has been the scene of heavy clashes in recent months. Palestinian officials said more than 700 camp residents have been killed in fighting, and that many of the others have left. (AP)
        See also Clashes between Assad Supporters, Opponents Leave 16 Dead in Lebanon
    In the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, days of clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Assad left 16 people dead and wounded more than 156, with the deadliest clashes taking place Wednesday night. The clashing sides are residents of the Bab-al-Tibbaneh neighborhood (dominated by Sunnis), and the adjacent Jabal Mohsen neighborhood (dominated by Alawites). (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Sanctions Haven't Stopped Iran's Nuclear Quest - Tovah Lazaroff and Greer Fay Cashman
    Economic and diplomatic pressure has failed to stop Iran's nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told British Foreign Minister William Hague in Jerusalem on Thursday. "The just released report of the International Atomic Energy Agency shows clearly that Iran is continuing to expand its nuclear enrichment program." "In parallel, it's working on a heavy-water reactor to build a plutonium-based bomb....This is the biggest challenge facing us. I think it's the biggest challenge of our time," Netanyahu said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Experts: Israeli Intervention in Syria's Civil War Unlikely - Ariel Ben Solomon
    The New York Times reported Wednesday that Israel was contemplating intervening in Syria's civil war with the possible creation of a buffer zone inside Syria or by supporting a proxy force such as the Druse. However, several Israeli experts and former government officials said any Israeli intervention is both unlikely and unwise. Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovich, vice chairman of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, emphasized that the situation in Syria is not an Israeli concern but an international one, and that "we must not leap to the head of the line."
        Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, does not see Israel getting involved by proxy. "It is not Israel's approach to use proxies," he said. Regarding the buffer zone idea, he said that Israel has had bad experiences with buffer zones, noting that Israeli military leaders also dislike the idea.
        The main issue, said Gold, is how Tehran has put Iranian boots on the ground to fight Sunni Arabs in Syria and is sending in Shi'ite militias from Lebanon and Iraq to assist. "The Iranians made a decision that they cannot lose Syria," said Gold. Thus, "it is not Israel" that seeks to intervene in Syria, but Iran. He noted that Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the Revolutionary Guards commander of Iran's elite Qods Force, which operates overseas, is in charge of Iran's forces fighting in Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Sinai Is Becoming a Major Threat to Egypt - Zvi Mazel
    Six Egyptian policemen and a soldier kidnapped last week in the Sinai Peninsula were released unhurt after marathon negotiations Wednesday between a representative of military intelligence, a Salafi sheikh and a representative of the Swarka tribe, one of the largest in Sinai. The kidnappers understood that a large-scale Egyptian military operation was in the wings, with helicopters, armored vehicles and special forces at the ready. It was made clear that the kidnapping had united all political forces in Egypt against the jihadist perpetrators.
        The kidnappers had demanded the release of jihadist terrorists jailed following the terror attacks on Taba and Sharm e-Sheikh in 2004 and in northern Sinai in 2011. According to Salafist sources quoted in the media, the Tawhid wal-Jihad group - to which the jailed terrorists belong - is behind the kidnapping. It is affiliated to al-Qaeda and comprises veteran Egyptian jihadists, Salafists from Gaza and local Bedouin who are traditionally hostile to the central government.
        Some 2,000 terrorists belonging to a number of small jihadi organizations are active in northern Sinai. They conduct raids against police stations, roadblocks and army patrols. The army is vainly trying to get the full support of the regime for an all-out effort to eliminate them, but they share the same ideology as the Muslim Brotherhood ruling Egypt today. The Muslim Brothers don't seem to understand that what is needed in Sinai is a new policy of development and security benefiting the Bedouin population. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Peace Process

  • U.S. Effort for Mideast Talks Elicits Praise, Reservations - Edmund Sanders
    Israeli and Palestinian officials privately say chances of success remain low for Secretary of State John Kerry's push to revive peace talks, and that his effort has yielded no tangible results so far. Privately, Israeli officials said Kerry was pursuing mostly well-worn ideas, such as goodwill concessions, that have failed to get traction in the past. "I don't think anyone expects a breakthrough right now," said one Israeli official. "The obstacles are too high. It doesn't seem like he's managed to move the sides."
        Kerry has said he would spend about three months exploring whether it is possible to restart talks. Officials say Kerry's numerous visits, meetings and weekly phone calls with Netanyahu, Abbas and their negotiators represent the most aggressive personal effort by a U.S. secretary of state since Condoleezza Rice attempted to broker a deal in the final months of the George W. Bush administration in 2008. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Convincing Kerry that Israel Is Not the Obstacle to Peace - Dan Margalit
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but anyone watching knows that not a soul is interested. The Middle East is boiling over in Syria and Lebanon. Really, who's going to invest the time to negotiate with PA President Mahmoud Abbas? The Middle East is having a heart attack, and Kerry has come to treat a bruised shoulder. Up until the latest round of violence, the widely accepted mantra stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the main cause of the region's problems. Given the current circumstances, though, no one would rush to back that claim.
        On the one hand, there's no choice but to administer first aid to the negotiations. On the other hand, the world should treat Prime Minister Netanyahu as it did former Prime Minister Olmert: the international community did not demand that Olmert stop construction in settlements. (Israel Hayom)

  • Arab World

  • Experts Discuss the Mideast Crack-Up - David Samuels
    Robert Worth, foreign correspondent, the New York Times: We are witnessing the breakdown of a specific model of governance that had become untenable: the military dictatorships that spread across the Arab world in the mid-20th century. This breakdown has brought a tremendous distrust of the centralized and oppressive governments in all these countries and a corresponding move toward local power.
        David Goldman (aka Spengler): The minority Alawites ran Syria and the minority Sunnis ran Iraq. A government drawn from a minority of the population cannot attempt to exterminate the majority, so it must try to find a modus vivendi. The majority can in fact exterminate a minority. That is why a majority government represents an existential threat to the minority, and that is why minorities fight to the death.
        Robert Worth: The fall of Assad would be a blow to Iran, but not one that would necessarily benefit Israel. A persistent state of chaos would probably be worse than Assad ever was, and there is no guarantee that a unified and Sunni-led government in Syria would be any less dangerous to Israel.
        David Goldman: The conventional threat on Israel's borders has all but disappeared, but the threat from non-state actors with sophisticated weapons has increased. (Tablet)
  • The UAE's 5-Star Syrian Refugee Camp in Jordan - Neri Zilber
    Jordan's newest camp for Syrian refugees, known as the Emirates-Jordan Camp (EJC), opened in April. Located near Zarqa, an hour's drive north of Amman, the United Arab Emirates-funded camp is a marvel of humanitarian work. If there is such a thing as a "five-star refugee camp," international aid workers and refugees agree, this was it. Rising out of Jordan's vast eastern desert is row upon row of identical white prefabricated caravans (trailers) instead of tents, laid out neatly at equal distances.
        At the EJC, large prefab hangars serve as television rooms, while others serve as "pantries" for coffee and tea. An expansive plaza will function as a public commercial space, replete with a stand-alone minaret and a large supermarket selling goods at below-market prices. A hairdresser has already set up shop there. Solar panels provide electricity to each zone of the camp, a battery of water tanks connected to underground plumbing offer clean running water, and a playground gives kids a chance to be children again. The camp also has an enclosed school area with room for 4,000 students, and tidy medical facilities staffed primarily by Syrian doctors, refugees themselves. Camp officials weren't shy at pointing out that the standard of living inside their "town" was likely higher than in neighboring Jordanian communities. This is apparently the way the UAE does humanitarian work. (Foreign Policy)
  • Young Egyptians Trying to Re-boot the Revolution - Ursula Lindsey
    Launched on May 1, the Tamarrud (Rebel) campaign claims to have gathered three million signatures in Egypt calling for early presidential elections. Talk-show hosts on private TV stations have filled out the petition on the air. Leaders of Egypt's political opposition have also expressed their support. Although a majority of Egyptians, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, still express a favorable view of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood's performance, only 30% said the country was headed in the right direction.
        The army has kept all its prerogatives. Islamists, who had only a small role in the uprising, have won control of the government and practiced a divisive kind of identity politics. This is why Egyptians, especially young ones, are trying to re-boot the revolution. That might seem like magical political thinking, but it worked once before. (New York Times)
  • What Does Israel's Arab Minority Really Think? - Alexander Yakobson
    The findings of the Israel Democracy Institute's "Israeli Democracy Index 2012" certainly reflect a critical attitude towards the Israeli reality, but they also reflect a huge gap between the responses of Arab-Israelis and the typical discourse of the Arab elite in the country. When asked, "Do you think that the Knesset Members from Arab parties are more radical than the general Arab public?," only 24% think so; almost half of the rest say the Arab MKs are actually more moderate than the Arab public at large.
        Some 45% of Arab citizens said they are "proud to be Israeli," while 51% were not proud. Nearly 82% of the Arab respondents "definitely agree" that under no circumstances should violence be used to achieve political goals. Some 78% of Arabs say they have confidence in Israel's Supreme Court.
        63% of the Arab respondents estimated that the country will be able to defend itself militarily, and 68% say it will not lose its Jewish character. Some 60% of Arabs say they are "optimistic about the future of Israel." The writer is associate professor of ancient history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Fathom-BICOM)

  • Other Issues

  • Britain in Denial about the Islamist Threat - Douglas Murray
    On Wednesday, Lee Rigby was killed in London by two men wielding large knives and shouting "Allahu akbar"-God is great. The attack itself is not surprising. What is surprising is that British society remains so utterly unwilling not just to deal with this threat, but even to admit its existence.
        In 1998 Amer Mirza, a member of the now-banned extremist group al Muhajiroun, attempted to petrol-bomb British army barracks. In 2007, a cell of Muslim men was found guilty of plotting to kidnap and behead a British soldier in Birmingham. In 2009, al Muhajiroun protested at a homecoming parade in Luton for British troops returning from Afghanistan. The writer is associate director of the Henry Jackson Society in London. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Boycotting Israel Does Not Bring Peace Closer or Benefit Humanity - Daniel Taub
    In Jerusalem Thursday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague signed an agreement to strengthen scientific cooperation with Israel. Marrying Israel's passion for innovation with Britain's ability to scale up and commercialize technological advances has helped UK-Israel trade more than double in the past decade. The agreement stands in stark contrast to the small but strident boycott campaign that seeks to break down channels of cooperation and dialogue with Israel. The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Legality of Israeli Settlements - Michael Curtis
    There is no clear, universally-accepted international law on the question of the settlements. A simple definition of an Israeli settlement is a residential area built across the so-called "Green Line," the 1949 cease-fire line. This ignores the existence of Jewish settlements before the State of Israel was established. They include Hebron, many centuries old, the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, and those established during the British Mandate, such as Neve Ya'acov, north of Jerusalem, the Gush Etzion bloc in the West Bank, and some north of the Dead Sea.
        Critics of the settlements often refer to Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." About this argument a number of responses can be made. Most important, no Israeli is being deported or transferred to the settlements; for various reasons Israelis are going to them voluntarily.
        The areas of the settlements are neither under the legitimate sovereignty of any state, nor on private Arab land. They are also not intended to displace any Arab inhabitants nor have they done so. No Palestinian Arab is being deported from place of residence to anywhere else.
        The competing claims of Israel and Palestinians can only be resolved by peaceful negotiations. If Palestinians can make legitimate claims to the disputed land, so can Israel by virtue of its historic and religious connections. The Israeli presence in the disputed areas is lawful until a peace settlement, because Israel entered them lawfully in self-defense. The writer is distinguished professor emeritus of political science at Rutgers University. (American Thinker)
  • Muslim Writer Lauds Israeli Tolerance of Minorities - Ariel Ben Solomon
    British author Dr. Qanta Ahmed spoke on Wednesday at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem about the difficulties for minorities in Islamic societies and how Israel is the only country in the Middle East that tolerates them, in an event organized by the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem, and cosponsored by the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity. The rise of political Islam, which has been particularly pronounced as a result of the Arab uprisings, is a threat to minorities and to Muslims who do not agree with the ascendant radical ideology, Ahmed said.
        She said that it was only when she went to the Al-Aqsa Mosque that she was asked to prove she was a Muslim in order to enter. She did so by reciting the shahada - the Muslim declaration of faith. Ahmed discussed her experience working in Saudi Arabia - the topic of her book, In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom, which documented the rampant anti-Semitism in the country and lack of women's rights. It is the radical Islamic ideology that has "corrupted" Islam as it was practiced throughout history, said Ahmed. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Weekend Feature

  • The Tech Innovator Who Almost Killed Saddam Hussein - Nathan Vardi
    In 1992, a year after Saddam Hussein rained down Scud missiles on Israel during the first Gulf war, Doron Kempel led Israel's secret mission to kill Saddam Hussein and alter the course of history. The decision was made to kill Hussein in his hometown near Tikrit at the expected funeral of his dying uncle. Kempel was to sneak up on the funeral and communicate the exact location of Hussein to the nearby branch of his team that would fire guided missiles at the Iraqi dictator. The first two rehearsals for the mission in the Israeli desert went off without a hitch.
        Kempel's team of 30 men had been preparing and planning this exercise for six months. The team's main force was armed with camera-guided missiles secretly developed for the mission. Then an explosion rocked the desert. Five soldiers died in the final rehearsal for the mission. As the mission's leader he took full responsibility for the tragedy.
        Kempel wound up in the U.S., where he now builds technology companies backed by the biggest names in venture capital. The people Kempel works and partners with don't know the details of his military career. He never talks about it and his involvement in the plot to kill Hussein is unknown outside of Israel. Prior to the accident that ended his military career he conducted dozens of missions, the vast majority of them behind enemy lines. Those missions are largely classified, but certain things are known.
        In the early 1980s, for instance, Kempel led an assault team that stormed the front door of an Israeli bus that armed Arab militants had hijacked, rescuing the passengers. On two other occasions Kempel helped to track down and kill terrorists who had crossed into Israel. His team was once ambushed in a hostile country and Kempel led them in a fight through the trap, using silenced submachine guns and not alerting adjacent enemy forces. (Forbes)

Who is Really Desecrating Holy Sites in Jerusalem? - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)

  • Tensions have been mounting in recent months in Jerusalem over visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, or al-Haram al-Sharif [the Noble Sanctuary]. The visits to the holy site, which have been taking place since 1967 in coordination with the Israeli authorities, have triggered many confrontations between the Israeli police and Palestinian protesters.
  • Palestinians claim that the mere presence of Jewish visitors is a "desecration" of the holy site. In resorting to violence to stop Jews from visiting, the Palestinians say they are only trying to prevent Jews from destroying the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and rebuilding the Third Holy Temple.
  • But the truth is that the vast majority of Jews visiting the site are no different from other non-Muslim tourists who come to the area every day. The Israeli authorities require all visitors to the site to respect the feelings of Muslims by appearing in modest dress and without weapons. Moreover, Jews are not allowed to bring sacred Jewish objects [prayer shawls, prayer books, etc].
  • Yet for some Palestinians, throwing stones, empty bottles, shoes and petrol bombs at the Jewish visitors and the policemen accompanying them has become almost a daily practice.
  • If anyone is desecrating the holy site, it is those who smuggle petrol bombs and stones into the compound to use against visitors.

        See also The Crushing of Middle Eastern Christianity - Richard L. Russell
    Iraq's open warfare against its Christian community has led to a mass exodus of Christians from that country since the 2003 American and British military invasion ousted Saddam Hussein, whose repugnant regime was nevertheless relatively hospitable to Christians. Incidents such as the 2010 suicide bombing of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, which killed 50 Christians and two priests, have terrified Iraq's Christian population, which has dwindled to less than 500,000 from between 800,000 and 1,400,000 in the time of Saddam.
        The current Egyptian regime, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, poses a far greater threat to Egypt's sizable Coptic Christian community than its authoritarian predecessor under Hosni Mubarak. A Coptic church in Cairo was set ablaze by Islamists in 2011 and many Copts - an estimated 10% of Egypt's 85 million people - live in fear that Egypt is on the path to being governed by Islamic law, or Sharia. The writer is Professor of National Security Affairs at the Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. (National Interest)
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