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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
November 20, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Missile Interceptor Passes New Test - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    Israel's new David's Sling missile interceptor could be ready for deployment next year after being rushed through production.
    Developed in partnership with the U.S., the interceptor, designed to shoot down missiles with ranges of between 100 km. and 200 km., passed its second live trial by downing a "short-range ballistic missile" on Wednesday, officials said.
    David's Sling will bridge the Iron Dome short-range interceptor and the Arrow ballistic missile interceptor, both already operational, to form a multi-level shield against Iran and its allies.

Syrian Rebels, Al-Qaeda Factions Reach Peace Deal - Carlo Munoz (The Hill)
    Senior leaders from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) agreed to come together to battle the growing Iranian presence in the country after a meeting in Aleppo over the weekend.
    "ISIS and FSA infighting ceased mostly after a meeting of commanders...led all parties to decide to focus their efforts" against forces loyal to Syrian President Assad and his Iranian backers, Syrian Support Group spokesman Dan Layman said Monday.
    Layman's group claims a 4,000-man force of Hizbullah fighters and members of the Iraqi Shia Mahdi Army are on the ground in Syria, along with an estimated 1,000 IRGC troops sent by Tehran.

Israeli Minister Pushes Back at CNN's Amanpour on "Occupied Territory" - Joshua Levitt (Algemeiner)
    In a television interview on Monday, Israel's Economy Minister Naftali Bennett objected to CNN's Christiane Amanpour's insistence on referring to "occupied territories."
    "Since you say the term 'occupied,' I have to point out, I'm holding a coin here from Jerusalem," he said, lifting the coin up to the camera.
    "It's an international term, Mr. Bennett," she insisted.
    "I know," Bennett said, "and I don't accept it. Because this coin, which says in Hebrew, 'Freedom of Zion,' was used by Jews in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago in the state of Israel in what you call 'occupied'  [land]. One cannot occupy his own home."
    "The building of communities there is not a hindrance to peace. Only 7% of the entire West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, is built [up] today, 93% is open, so no-one is stopping peace."

IDF Combat Photographer: I Watched a Firebomb Aimed at a School Bus (Israel Defense Forces)
    Last week, I was traveling on a road in Samaria. A bus full of children returning from school came down the opposite lane.
    Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw a firebomb fly directly at the bus right there in front of me. The firebomb missed the bus, flying right over it, and was now heading towards me!
    Those few milliseconds felt like an eternity. I stepped on the accelerator and the firebomb landed in a bush a few meters away.
    This event has become a dangerous routine. Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria suffer from attacks like this daily, attacks which the media deem insignificant.
    Terrorists have committed dozens and dozens of firebomb attacks this year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Congress to Hold Off on New Iran Sanctions - Mark Landler and Jonathan Weisman
    After a meeting with President Obama on Tuesday, Senate leaders agreed to hold off on a vote to impose new sanctions on Iran until after talks in Geneva later this week. After a two-hour session, a bipartisan group of the Senate's top foreign policy and national security committees urged Mr. Obama to reject any nuclear deal with Iran that did not include a tangible rollback of its nuclear weapons program. With the Senate going on Thanksgiving recess on Friday, it will be at least two weeks before any measure will come up for a vote. (New York Times)
  • If Israel Strikes Iran, Gen. Dempsey Says U.S. "Would Meet" Obligations - Dan Merica
    Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Monday that if Israel were to strike Iran in an effort to damage the country's nuclear program, the U.S. would meet "some defined obligations" it has to the Middle East nation. "I feel like we have a deep obligation to Israel," he said. "That is why we are in constant contact and collaboration with them."
        Dempsey credited Israel with being "an example of what could be" in the Middle East. "If we had one of my Israeli counterparts sitting here, they would tell you that most of the Arabs living in Israel have a better life than the Arabs living in the rest of the region and that is true," he said. (CNN)
  • Egypt's War in Sinai - Richard Spencer
    In a trip across Egyptian Sinai, The Telegraph witnessed houses and villages being pulverized by tank strikes guided by helicopters, and interviewed the relatives of those killed by both jihadi terrorists and the army's often broad-brush attempts to hit back. Despite criticism of the army, there is evidence that it may be having some success - at least, within its own limited objective of challenging the jihadists and the network of smugglers from which they come.
        David Barnett, who tracks the insurgency for the American security think-tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says the number of reported jihadi attacks in the Sinai has fallen from 104 in July to 29 in October. "We could just be seeing an alteration in tactics," Barnett said. There have already been drive-by shootings in the capital and in the Nile Delta."  (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Car Bomb Kills 10 Egyptian Soldiers in Sinai
    A car bomb on Wednesday tore through a bus carrying off-duty Egyptian army soldiers on the road between Rafah and el-Arish in northern Sinai, killing 10 and wounding 20, security officials said. (AP-USA Today)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Beirut Bombing Targets Iran - Mitch Ginsburg
    On Tuesday, as Hizbullah-led, Iran-guided troops fought for Assad's regime in the mountains of Syria, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Sunni terror group, perpetrated a devastating terror attack outside the Iranian embassy in Lebanon which killed 23 people and wounded dozens more.
        "This should be seen within the framework of Hizbullah's participation in Syria," said Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism. He added that the targeting of Iran's embassy in Beirut was also a message from the Syrian opposition that it would not accept Iranian involvement in the upcoming Syria peace talks in Geneva. (Times of Israel)
        See also Group Behind Beirut Bombing Has Fired Rockets at Israel
    The Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for firing rockets into Israel in April 2011 and August 2013. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Home Front Commander Visits Aid Delegation in Philippines - Yaakov Lappin
    IDF Home Front commander Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eizenberg arrived in the Philippines on Monday to visit the IDF field hospital in Bogo City that has treated 1,214 Filipinos, including 358 children, and performed 27 operations. Eizenberg later inaugurated a drinking water facility that the IDF set up for local residents, as well as a school that the typhoon badly damaged and Israeli soldiers repaired on Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Nuclear Talks Expected to Focus on "Right" to Enrich Uranium - Jonathan S. Landay
    Iran's assertion that it has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes is expected to be a key focus of high-level international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program that resume this week. (McClatchy)
        See also Video: Why Iran Has No Right of Enrichment - Dore Gold
    There are voices in the West who think that if you recognize Iran's right of enrichment, the crisis between Iran and the West will go away, but it will only get much worse. And it will lead to many other countries saying, "Oh, there's a right of enrichment? We're going to build enrichment facilities too." And the whole structure of nuclear nonproliferation will begin to erode and could even collapse.
        It's clear that Iran has an intent to develop nuclear weapons contrary to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. So how can Iran demand what's guaranteed in Article 4, that is the right to develop civilian nuclear technology, and at the same time violate Article 2 and develop nuclear weapons? You can't derive benefit from an international treaty that you're violating in a most fundamental way.
        Considering Iran's missile programs, considering its warhead research, considering its systematic concealment of what it is doing to international inspectors, I don't think Iran can come with clean hands to the international community and say that it has a right to enrich uranium. That right must be denied to states that are suspected of engaging in nuclear weapons development. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Photo of Palestinian Mother Was the Wrong Choice - Margaret Sullivan
    Hundreds of readers wrote to me in recent days to protest the prominent use of a photograph that accompanied an article in the Times last Thursday. The photograph was an emotional and sympathetic portrait of a distraught Palestinian woman, whose son had killed an unsuspecting young Israeli soldier on a public bus. It was a poor choice, failing to put the focus where it belonged. Freya Morrison of Toronto wrote: "Using a photo of the murderer's mother to represent the item regarding the fatal stabbing of Eden Atias is the epitome of slanted journalism and bad taste. Let's get it straight. The Israeli soldier is the victim here. How dare you make it appear otherwise?"
        The selection of the Palestinian mother's image with the article was an effort to achieve balance, but such an effort was not appropriate in this case, said Michele McNally, the assistant managing editor in charge of photography. The foreign editor, Joseph Kahn, told me, "We don't always get it right." The prominent use of this photograph was a case of getting it wrong. The writer is the public editor appointed by the New York Times. (New York Times)
  • Sanctions on Iran Won't Be Cranked Back Up - Douglas Feith
    President Obama insists that relaxing sanctions is reversible: If the Iranians are "not following through," he recently told NBC News, "we can crank that dial back up." Peace and arms-control agreements have a long history that warns against such assurances.
        Democratic countries have time and again failed to get what they bargained for with their undemocratic antagonists - and then found themselves unable or unwilling to enforce the bargain. History teaches that we should expect the cheating, but not effective enforcement. The author, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy (2001-05). (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Relations with Allies in Free Fall - Michael Doran
    Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations last week, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, complained bitterly about the White House's deep aversion to working with Congress. The Obama administration, he said, "figure[s] out the policy...then they come tell us what it is."
        A senior official from a European country recently said that President Obama "does not do consultation, and he doesn't do discussion with allies. He reports, and he describes his analytical process." The writer, a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, served as a deputy assistant secretary of defense and a senior director at the National Security Council. (Brookings Institution)

How to Strengthen the Interim Iran Deal - Orde F. Kittrie (Arms Control and Regional Security for the Middle East)

  • While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushes back hard against Senate threats to pass a new Iran sanctions bill, his negotiators are hopefully using that same Senate threat to extract a better deal from Tehran. Press reports make it clear that the interim deal will bring Iran into compliance with none of its key international legal obligations as spelled out in applicable Security Council resolutions.
  • It was unrealistic to think that an interim deal would bring Iran into compliance with all of its key preexisting legal obligations. But it seems surprising that Iran is to receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for compliance with none of them.
  • If the interim agreement is to make "absolutely certain that while we're talking with the Iranians, they're not busy advancing their program," as President Obama said at a press conference, it should halt all Iranian enrichment; verifiably prohibit Iran from manufacturing additional centrifuges; require Iran to adhere to the Additional Protocol; and require Iran to immediately and verifiably implement its existing legal obligation to notify the IAEA of any enrichment or other nuclear facility it possesses or begins constructing.
  • Moreover, the draft interim agreement would enable Iran to, at the end of the six-month interim agreement period, possess both a larger stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5% and a larger number of manufactured centrifuges than it has today. Tehran would be significantly closer to the point at which it is able to dash to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb so quickly that the IAEA or a Western intelligence service would be unable to detect the dash until it is over.
  • Similarly, dangerous gaps are present in the draft interim deal's handling of Iran's heavy water reactor at Arak and Iran's research into nuclear weapons design.
  • Unless these gaps are closed, the interim agreement will make absolutely certain that while we're talking with the Iranians, they will be busy advancing their illicit nuclear program. Less quickly than in the absence of such an agreement, but advancing it nonetheless.

    The writer is a professor of law at Arizona State University and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who participated in negotiating several U.S.-Russian nonproliferation agreements.

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