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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
July 24, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Has Answer to Russia's S-300 Air Defense System - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Brig.-Gen. Eitan Eshel, head of research and development for the Israel Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, said Tuesday the IDF had access to technological solutions - both operational and under development - to the threat posed by the Russian S-300 air defense system.
    Moscow has vowed to complete the sale of the system to Damascus, which would threaten Israel Air Force activity in the region.
    The Defense Ministry further revealed that Israeli defense exports totaled $7.5 billion in 2012 - a record high.
    Air defense systems accounted for 25% of Israeli defense exports, while sales of satellite platforms and radars made up 24%.
    Some 75% of Israeli defense manufacturing is slated for export, with $4b. headed to Asia, $1.64b. to Europe, and $1.2b. to the U.S.

Al-Qaeda Affiliates Competing in Syria - Jabbar Yaseen and Liz Sly (Washington Post)
    Al-Qaeda's Iraq affiliate has undergone a number of identity transformations since it announced its existence in 2004 to counter the U.S. occupation. In 2006, it rebranded itself as the Islamic State of Iraq.
    The Islamic State has rapidly encroached on Jabhat al-Nusra's support base in many locations in northern Syria in recent weeks, analysts say.
    It has taken the lead in the most recent battles between Kurds and rebels in the two northeastern provinces of Raqqah and Hasakah, and it has gained ascendancy over many more-moderate rebel groups in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

Arab Media Reports on Mossad Chief Visit in UAE - Adiv Sterman and Aaron Kalman (Times of Israel)
    Unconfirmed reports circulating in the Arab media claim that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo visited the United Arab Emirates in May.
    Pardo reportedly met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as former Gaza Preventive Security Force head Mohammed Dahlan, who currently resides in Dubai.
    Last month, the Turkish paper Hurriyet reported that Pardo secretly met with top Turkish intelligence officials in Ankara.

Israeli Hospital Treats Wounded Syrians (AFP)
    Four wounded Syrians including an eight-year-old girl were brought to a hospital in Israel, a medical source said Tuesday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 12 Die in Clashes in Egypt - Kareem Fahim
    A long night of political bloodshed in Egypt left at least 12 people dead on Tuesday and 86 wounded. In the latest fighting between supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi which began on Monday in several Cairo neighborhoods and north of the city, civilians were seen firing weapons during running battles near Cairo landmarks. Morsi's supporters have intensified their protests with daily marches in cities around Egypt, to publicize what they call a "putsch" by the army. (New York Times)
  • Court Overturns Passport Law on Jerusalem - Ann E. Marimow
    A federal appeals court Tuesday found unconstitutional a law that gives thousands of Americans born in Jerusalem the option of listing Israel as their birthplace on U.S. passports. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the law passed by Congress in 2002 "impermissibly intrudes" on the powers of the president. (Washington Post)
  • Hizbullah Rails Against EU Blacklist Decision
    Hizbullah criticized Europe's decision to blacklist its military wing, the (Beirut) Daily Star reported Tuesday. "It looks as if the decision was written by American hands with Israeli ink. The EU only had to add its signature in approval," the group said in a statement. Hizbullah also accused the EU of succumbing to "blackmail from the U.S."  (UPI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Syria Becoming a Center of Global Jihad - Yoav Zitun
    "Syria is drawing thousands of global jihad activists and radical Muslims from the region and the world who are basing themselves in the country, not only to overthrow Assad, but also to promote the vision of an Islamic state," IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Tuesday. "Right before our eyes a center of global jihad is developing on a scale that may affect not only Syria and the borders of the State of Israel, but also Jordan and Sinai."  (Ynet News)
  • Ya'alon: Egypt Poised for Sinai Counter-Terrorism Operation - Yaakov Lappin
    Egypt is poised to launch a large counter-terrorism operation against radical Islamic cells in Sinai, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday. "I hope that the Egyptian security forces overcome the challenge of extremist Islam in Sinai. They have beefed up their forces and are preparing for an assault operation....We see more effective activities by the Egyptian army and security bodies in recent months, particularly in recent weeks following the regime change that occurred."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • EU Directive on Labeling Products Would Harm 20,000 Palestinian Families - Barak Ravid
    Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin on Tuesday told Elmar Brok, the chairman of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, that 20,000 Palestinian families stood to lose their livelihood if products from the settlements were labeled as such in Europe. He said Palestinian workers in agriculture or manufacturing could find themselves out of work if these businesses shut down due to a drop in exports to the EU. "You are trying to hurt Israeli enterprises that already exist and provide a respectable livelihood for tens of thousands of Palestinian families," Elkin told Brok. "This is simply bizarre."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt's Three Revolutions - Thomas L. Friedman
    It is difficult to exaggerate how much the economy and law and order had deteriorated under President Morsi. So many Egyptians were feeling insecure that there was a run on police dogs! The right thing for President Obama to be doing now is not only to ignore calls for cutting off economic aid to Egypt - on grounds that the last revolution amounted to a military coup. We should be trying to get everyone in the world to help this new Egyptian government succeed.
         This is no time for America to be punishing Egyptians or demanding quick elections. Our job is to help the new government maximize the number of good economic decisions it makes, while steadily pressuring it to become more inclusive and making it possible for multiple political parties to form. If that happens, Egypt will have a proper foundation to hold democratic elections again. If it doesn't happen, no number of elections will save it. (New York Times)
  • Syria's Ripple Effect - Anthony H. Cordesman
    What started as a civil conflict in Syria more than two years ago now threatens to fuel a major conflict between Sunnis and Shiites throughout the Muslim world. The conflict is dividing Lebanon and giving Hizbullah and other extremists a larger foothold there. It is also creating problems in Jordan and Turkey, pushing Iraq toward civil war and making Iraq's Shiite leadership more dependent on Iran.
        If Assad succeeds in crushing the opposition or otherwise maintains control over most of Syria, Iran will have a massive new degree of influence over Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Minorities will be steadily driven into exile. This would present serious risks for Israel, weaken Jordan and Turkey and, most important, give Iran far more influence in the Persian Gulf, an area home to 48% of the world's proven oil reserves. The writer holds the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran's Plans to Take Over Syria - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel and the Dismissal of Morsi - Hicham Mourad
    Israeli officials interceded with the U.S. to convince Washington not to cut military and economic aid to Egypt in the wake of the ouster of President Morsi by the army. Tel Aviv fears that such a revision of assistance, mainly military, would undermine Egypt's commitment to the peace treaty with Israel. Israel had already called on the U.S. to continue assistance to Egypt after the fall of Mubarak in February 2011 for the same reason.
        The peace treaty was respected by Morsi. He even intervened as a mediator between Hamas and Israel, allowing an end to the offensive against Gaza in November 2012. His intervention was motivated by his desire to rescue Hamas, his ally.
        Israeli concerns were reinforced by the deterioration of security in the Sinai Peninsula due to the proliferation of jihadist groups connected with Hamas and other Palestinian Salafist groups. Egypt has indeed stepped up security operations in Sinai to hunt terrorists. But it was mainly the result of the pressure of the Egyptian army, which was concerned about the rise of the jihadist threat in this highly important area for the security of Egypt.
        Hamas will almost inevitably suffer a negative effect from the anti-terrorism campaign underway in Sinai and backlash against its probable interference in the internal affairs of Egypt. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)

EU Terror List: Hizbullah Unlikely to Feel Sanctions - Ulrike Putz (Der Spiegel-Germany)

  • EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to put the military wing of Lebanese militant group Hizbullah on the bloc's list of terrorist groups. But sanctions will have little impact on the "Party of God."
  • Along the highway between the airport and city center, visitors to Lebanon see portraits of a plump man with a black turban and glasses hanging on buildings, billboards and street lamps. Visitors often wonder if this is Lebanon's president, but Hassan Nasrallah holds no political post.
  • "Hizbullah is a single large organization, we have no wings that are separate from one another," spokesman Ibrahim Mussawi told Spiegel Online. "What's being said in Brussels doesn't exist for us."
  • "Political and social work, in addition to jihad, are operated by the same leadership," reads an explanation from Hizbullah in response to a question about the division of labor within the party. In this way, the group has skillfully leveraged its way out of feeling the EU sanctions, because the 28-member bloc agreed to apply punitive measures solely to Hizbullah troops.
  • The fact that outsiders are unable to discern where Hizbullah's civilian wing ends and the militant one begins is likely to mean that the organization will escape the EU's measures unscathed, say Western diplomats in Beirut. The decision in Brussels was purely symbolic.
    See also Why the EU Blacklisted Hizbullah's Military Wing But Not Hizbullah Itself - Karl Vick (TIME)
  • Last October, Hizbullah's second-in-command, Naim Qassem, declared in Beirut: "We don't have a military wing and a political one." Under EU rules, all 28 member states would have to agree to designate Hizbullah a terrorist organization, and it was clear that not all would. So a compromise was found.
  • Benedetta Berti, an expert on Hizbullah at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, noted, "with Hamas there was the same distinction drawn between the military wing and the political wing....At the peak of the Second Intifada the EU decided the distinction wasn't valid anymore and combined the two."

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