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August 19, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Egypt: 24 Police Killed in Sinai when Militants Ambush Buses (AP-CBS News)
    Militants in Sinai fired rocket-propelled grenades at two police minibuses near Rafah on Monday, killing 24 Egyptian policemen, security officials said.

Egypt's War of Attrition - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    What seems to be utter chaos in Egypt is in fact the result of planned strategies, both by the Muslim Brotherhood and by the army-backed interim government. Those currently setting the tone of the bloodshed are the Muslim Brotherhood.
    The new strategy is a war of attrition on the interim government and the defense forces, with violent clashes in dozens of places across the country.
    These clashes grant the Muslim Brotherhood distinct advantages. Losses among Muslim Brotherhood members cause the people's support of the interim government and the army to decline.
    Fatalities bring about increasing international pressure on the interim government and the army.
    The clashes increase militants' motivation, as well as Brotherhood supporters' desire for revenge.
    The U.S. and Europe are trying to pressure the Egyptian regime into compromising with the Brotherhood, ignoring the fact that the Brotherhood is not willing to compromise, and believes it can still reinstate Morsi.

Syrian Islamist Fighters Reach Border with Israel - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
    Islamist rebels participated in fighting against Assad's forces Saturday in the town of Breiqa, just 2.5 km. (1.5 miles) from the Israeli village of Alonei Habashan, according to a new video released by the opposition.
    Fifteen Syrians injured in the fighting were evacuated to Israeli hospitals on Saturday.

Al-Qaeda "Targeting European High-Speed Rail" (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    A report by the German newspaper Bild on Monday said that al-Qaeda leaders have been plotting attacks on high-speed rail networks across Europe.
    The terrorist attacks were reported to have been a "central topic" of a conference call intercepted by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) involving high-ranking al-Qaeda operatives.

2,700-Year-Old Hebrew Inscription Found in Jerusalem - Gavriel Fiske (Times of Israel)
    Archaeologists working in Jerusalem have discovered a 2,700-year-old pottery fragment with an ancient Hebrew inscription, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Sunday.
    The text fragment on the shard is similar to the name of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, the father of the prophet Jahaziel, whose name appears in 2 Chronicles 20:14.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Congress Split on Cutting Off Aid to Egypt - Stephen Ohlemacher
    Members of Congress are split over whether the U.S. should cut off military aid to Egypt, highlighting the difficult choices facing the Obama administration amid spiraling violence on the streets of an important Middle East ally. Democratic leaders have generally supported the president's approach. But on Sunday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said he would end aid to Egypt. Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress and is co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
        Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said curtailing aid could reduce U.S. influence over Egypt's interim government, which controls access to strategic resources, including the Suez Canal. "We certainly shouldn't cut off all aid," said King, who chairs the House panel on counterterrorism and intelligence.
        Sen. John McCain of Arizona renewed his call Sunday to stop aid as the Egyptian military continues to crack down on protesters seeking Morsi's return. But Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said he supports the president's approach. (AP-ABC News)
        See also U.S. Pressure Failed to Sway Egypt's Leaders - David D. Kirkpatrick, Peter Baker and Michael R. Gordon
    From one side, the Israelis, Saudis and other Arab allies have lobbied President Obama to go easy on Egypt's generals in the interest of thwarting what they see as the larger and more insidious Islamist threat. From the other, an unusual mix of conservatives and liberals has urged him to stand more forcefully against the sort of autocracy that has been a staple of Egyptian life for decades. For now the administration has decided to keep the close relationship with the Egyptian military fundamentally unchanged. (New York Times)
        See also Saudi King Abdullah Declares Support for Egypt Against Terrorism (Al-Arabiya)
        See also Saudi Arabia Calls on EU to Ease Pressure on Egypt (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Israel Quietly Maintaining Ties with Egyptian Military
    "Israel does not have to support the (Egyptian) regime, especially not publicly. It is not our place to defend all the measures taken, this is not our business," said Giora Eiland, a former chairman of Israel's National Security Council. At the same time, Eiland said, Israeli and Western interests are "much closer" to the interests of Egypt's military leader, Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi, and his secular allies. "Even if we don't share the same values, we can share the same interests," he said. "The Israeli interest is quite clear. We want a stable regime in Egypt."
        Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador in Egypt, said the scenario of the Camp David accords unraveling was highly unlikely. He said it was highly doubtful the U.S. would cut off aid to Egypt and he could not envision Egypt canceling the peace treaty. "They have no interest in engaging in another conflict they have neither the time nor the energy for," he said. "They need us now, with or without American aid."  (AP-Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: Israel's Message on Egypt - Keep Cairo from Falling Apart, Then Worry about Democracy - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Protests Anti-Israel Incitement at UNRWA Camps
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday: "Like me you know that the most important thing is to prepare our respective peoples for peace and in this regard, I'm sure you are going to look into the abuse of UNRWA camps in Gaza that have been used purportedly for peace camps, but actually to instill the culture of hatred and the ideas of destroying Israel amidst Palestinian children. It's very hard to habituate and prepare the next generation for peace when they're told that Jews are the descendents of pigs and monkeys and that the Jewish state has no right to exist."
        "As far as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, we have to get to the root cause of the problem and the root cause was and remains the persistent refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. It doesn't have to do with the settlements....The conflict preceded the establishment of a single settlement by half a century and when we rooted out all the settlements in Gaza, the attacks continued because of this basic opposition to the Jewish state."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Palestinian Kids Taught to Hate Israel in UN-Funded Camps, Clip Shows - Lazar Berman
    New video footage shows Palestinian children in summer camps run by the UN being taught that they will one day conquer Israeli cities by force. The video, screened on Israel Channel 2 news last week, shows footage from UNRWA summer programs in Balata near Nablus in the West Bank and in Gaza.
        In one scene, Amina Hinawi, director of the Gaza camp, explains: "We teach the children about the villages they came fromů.This way, every child will be motivated to return to their original village." The U.S. was the largest single donor to UNRWA in 2011, with $239 million, followed by the European Commission's $175 million.
        In another scene, a teacher asks the students, "Do you want to return to Jaffa?" They respond enthusiastically, "Yes!" "Haifa?" "Yes!" These are cities inside modern sovereign Israel. A burka-clad speaker tells a circle of young campers, "With God's help and our own strength we will wage war." In another scene a young girl sings to a circle of her clapping friends: "I will not forget my promise to take back my land." An older camper sings: "We are filled with rage."  (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Strikes Syrian Army Post following Mortar Shells Falling on Golan - Yaakov Lappin
    The IDF fired a Tamuz surface-to-surface missile at a Syrian army post on Saturday, after several Syrian mortar shells exploded in the Golan Heights. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • New Threats to the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    U.S.-Egypt relations have soured since the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. In recent weeks, the Egyptian army has been frustrated because it perceives that the U.S. does not understand the danger posed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many in Egypt also did not feel that the U.S. firmly condemned the Muslim Brotherhood for burning dozens of Coptic churches, torching police stations, and killing more than 50 members of Egyptian security forces. Furthermore, if some U.S. leaders were going to hint that U.S. aid to Egypt was in jeopardy, then Egyptian officials were equally comfortable in suggesting that the Israel-Egypt peace treaty is not sacrosanct.
        Ultimately, the issue will depend on the stance of the Egyptian military and how the generals understand what an abrogation of the peace treaty would mean for Egypt-Israel relations and Egypt's strategic interests during a period of high domestic political instability. The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Egyptian Petition Drive Started to Reject U.S. Aid, Scrap Peace Treaty with Israel (Egypt Independent)
  • The Truth about Egypt - Michael J. Totten
    Eric Trager, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an expert on Egypt, explains: "The Muslim Brotherhood is certainly not democratic. Its view of Egyptian politics is one in which it should control everything. For example, while it is willing to pursue power through elections, once it comes into office its goal is to establish an Islamic state in which it and its institutions control the Egyptian bureaucracy and institute its version of Islam while sidelining and oppressing all opponents."
        "'Moderate' is an even less accurate word in describing the Brotherhood.... The process of becoming a Muslim Brother is a five-to-eight-year ordeal where potential Muslim Brothers are vetted through five tiers of membership that tests their commitment to the cause and their willingness to take orders. Anyone who has second thoughts about the organization, the ideology, or their willingness to blindly do what they're told, is out."
        "A lot of observers thought it would become more moderate when forced to actually govern, but what those analysts overlooked is that the Brotherhood prevents moderates from becoming members and prevents members from becoming moderates."  (World Affairs Journal)

Israel's Message on Egypt: Keep Cairo from Falling Apart, Then Worry about Democracy - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

  • Israel's message to Washington and key European capitals regarding Egypt is that the military should be supported to help get the country back on track, an Israeli official said.
  • "The name of the game right now is not democracy," the official said Sunday. "The name of the game is that there needs to be a functioning state. After you put Egypt back on track, then talk about restarting the democratic process there."
  • The official said that in the present reality the only actor that can assert authority in Egypt and keep it from descending into chaos is the military. "Like it or not, no one else can run the country right now."
  • Unlike the U.S. or the European countries, Israel neighbors Egypt and will be impacted directly by developments there. Sitting on Egypt's border, Israel faces the prospect of a critically important neighboring country descending into anarchy.
  • "You can scold [Gen.] Sisi all you wish, but at the end of the day, you want a functional government to rule the country." Otherwise, he said, the country would risk falling into an anarchy that would be exploited by local and global jihad forces.

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