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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 29, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Turkey's Obstruction of Kobani's Battle Against ISIS - Meysa Abdo (New York Times)
    Since Sept. 15, we, the people of the Syrian town of Kobani, have been fighting, outnumbered and outgunned, against an all-out assault by the army of the Islamic State.
    We are defending a democratic, secular society of Kurds, Arabs, Muslims and Christians who all face an imminent massacre.
    Kobani's resistance has mobilized our entire society, and many of its leaders, including myself, are women. Those of us on the front lines are well aware of the Islamic State's treatment of women.
    Turkey could easily have helped us by allowing access for fighters and supplies between different Syrian Kurdish areas.
    There is evidence that Turkish forces have allowed the Islamic State's men and equipment to move back and forth across the border. But Syrian Kurdish fighters cannot do the same.

Democracy Is for Infidels - Hasnain Kazim (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    Abu Sattar recruits fighters for the terrorist militia Islamic State. He said in an interview:
    "Democracy is for infidels. A real Muslim is not a democrat because he doesn't care about the opinions of majorities and minorities don't interest him. He is only interested in what Islam says. Furthermore, democracy is a hegemonic tool of the West and contrary to Islam."

Iran Lauds Yemen's Houthis for Controlling Key Oil Passage (Rasa-Iran)
    Ali Akbar Velayati, a former Iranian foreign minister who is a senior advisor to Supreme Leader Khamenei, told visiting Yemeni scholars:
    "The road to freeing Palestine passes from Yemen since Yemen has a strategic location and is near the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Oman and Bab al-Mandeb" - the straits through which Middle East oil passes on its way to Europe via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

Why We Keep Getting the Middle East Wrong - Mordechai Kedar (Fathom-BICOM)
    Arab nationalism as an ideology never really succeeded in replacing the traditional loyalties. In Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen today, people remain loyal to their tribe and to their traditional ethnic and sectarian identities.
    The borders of these countries were not defined by the local people; they were defined by colonialists.
    So when we talk about "Arab states," we must take into account that these states are totally different in terms of the basic legitimacy of the state in the eyes of those who live there.
    The writer, who served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence, is director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam at Bar-Ilan University.

Israel to Purchase Second Squadron of U.S. F-35 Stealth Jets - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel finalized the terms of Israel's purchase of a second squadron of F-35 fighter jets in recent days.
    The first batch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets is due in Israel in 2016, and 19 jets will arrive in Israel by 2018. From 2019, jets of the second squadron will begin arriving.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S., Iran Relations Move to Detente - Jay Solomon and Maria Abi-Habib
    The Obama administration and Iran, engaged in direct nuclear negotiations and facing a common threat from Islamic State militants, have moved into an effective state of detente over the past year, according to senior U.S. and Arab officials. Israel contends the U.S. has weakened the terms of its negotiations with Iran and played down Tehran's destabilizing role in the region.
        The Obama administration also has markedly softened its confrontational stance toward Iran's most important nonstate allies, Hamas and Hizbullah. American diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, negotiated with Hamas leaders through Turkish and Qatari intermediaries during the Gaza cease-fire talks this summer, according to senior U.S. officials.
        "The Iranian regime is revolutionary and can't get too close to us. So I'd be wary of any rapprochement," said Scott Modell, a former CIA officer now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "I think they are hell bent on pursuing a number of courses that run counter to U.S. interests."
        Meanwhile, the U.S. military is planning to play down and avoid publicity for the annual minesweeping exercise being organized by the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet. In past years, the exercise has been used to highlight unified opposition to Iranian activities in the Persian Gulf, according to a U.S. official. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Economic Pain Looms Large for Iranians in Nuclear Negotiations - Thomas Erdbrink
    With the deadline of Nov. 24 fast approaching for a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, American and European officials say they think they have some new leverage: falling oil prices that are adding to Iran's pain at a time when its oil revenue has dropped by more than half because of sanctions. With oil prices projected to fall even further, the oil-dependent government of Iran faces growing pressure to settle the nuclear standoff. (New York Times)
  • Qatar Donates Cash to Pay Hamas Civilian Staff in Gaza - Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren
    Qatar has donated $30 million to be distributed in the amount of $1,200 each to about 24,000 Hamas public workers, excluding the security forces, Mamoun Abu Shahla, the PA minister of labor, said Tuesday. Robert F. Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, arranged the system, amid concerns that direct PA involvement could lead to a backlash from international donors, including the U.S., that consider Hamas a terrorist organization. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Egypt Intensifies Operations in Sinai, Army Prepares to Evacuate Gaza Border Area - Ariel Ben Solomon
    After 33 Egyptian security personnel were killed on Friday in Sinai, Egypt prepared to evacuate residents along the border with Gaza in order to create a buffer zone, Egyptian media reported. A joint committee of the Egyptian army and the Rafah City Council surveyed over 800 houses and 10,000 residents, who were offered financial compensation, land or housing in exchange for their evacuation. Egypt rushed special forces by air to Sinai to help combat the Islamist insurgency, Ahram Online reported on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Egypt-Gaza Buffer Zone: Water-Filled Trenches to Counter Tunnels
    The 500-meter-wide buffer zone along the 13 km. Egypt-Gaza border will include water-filled trenches to thwart tunnel diggers. (Al-Jazeera)
  • Palestinian Poll: Support Rose for Hamas and Armed Struggle after Gaza War - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A poll of Palestinians conducted by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Center on Oct. 15-19 found that the percentage of those who support military operations against Israel increased from 31% before the Gaza war to 42% afterwards. 53% said the war achieved the Palestinian people's interests, while 21% said it harmed their interests. 61% said that Hamas' rockets help achieve Palestinian goals. 57% considered Hamas to have won the war, while 8% believed Israel emerged triumphant. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Anti-Semitism on the Temple Mount - Zalman Shoval
    In the arrangement made in 1967 with senior Palestinian Muslim clerics, it was promised that Jews, and people of other religions, had full rights to visit any part of the Temple Mount, including the two main shines: Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. However, while Israel has maintained its side of these agreements, the Palestinians have violated them almost since day one - throwing stones and physically harassing groups of visitors, and using the front portion of the Temple Mount to attack Jews praying at the Western Wall below.
        The Palestinians, time has revealed, are essentially against the right of the Jewish people to be in the place that has been most holy - both nationally and religiously - to them for all of history. PA President Mahmoud Abbas' use of the word "desecrate" shows the racist, anti-Semitic character of his remarks. In the eyes of Abbas, Jewish presence "desecrates" the sacred places of Islam. The writer is a former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Wishful Thinking in U.S. Plans Against the Islamic State - David Ignatius
    The Arab world is suffering a sense of vertigo these days. Extremists from the Islamic State, who have seemingly arisen out of nowhere, have burst through the gates of power. Political elites are confused and frightened. They're angry at the U.S. (as always). But at the same time, they want the U.S. to explain a strategy for combating a group that threatens every structure of stability, including borders. (Washington Post)
  • Iran's "Boots on the Ground" in Iraq Could Backfire on U.S. Interests - Graham Allison
    U.S. officials expect that two of America's leading adversaries - Bashar al-Assad's Syria and Iran - will intensify their war against ISIS. Both rightly see ISIS as an imminent or even existential threat to themselves.
        In Iraq, when ISIS' advance threatened the Kurdish capital of Erbil, the first to come to the rescue was Iran. Who is guarding Iraq's two holiest Shiite cities, Karbala and Najaf? Units of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The most potent Iranian military advisor to groups directly fighting ISIS on the ground is Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, who was responsible for so many American combat deaths during the Iraq War.
        Suleimani controls Iraq's three most powerful Shiite militias (Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Hizballah, and Badr Corps), as well as at least three battalions of Iranian special forces. When ISIS is driven from Iraq, the Shiite militias that have cleared and held territory will not readily relinquish control to others. The writer is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. (Atlantic)
  • Al-Qaeda Stands Behind the ISIS Smokescreen - Yoram Schweitzer
    The main obstacle in the way of an alliance between the jihadist organizations is ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's provocative step of appointing himself as Caliph, placing him above all other Muslim leaders.
        Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the establishment of "Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent" (AQIS) in September. According to reports from Pakistan, AQIS has already tried to carry out ambitious attacks designed to damage a Pakistani warship and an American destroyer. The planning of such attacks refutes the assessments by senior American administration officials that al-Qaeda is a spent force.
        A considerable proportion of the cadres of jihadi fighters may eventually choose to join al-Qaeda, particularly if ISIS proves unable to institute an Islamic caliphate. It is also quite clear that al-Qaeda is preparing for a renewal of its activity under the smokescreen of the terror inflicted by ISIS that is blinding the world. The writer heads the INSS Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict, after a career in the Israeli intelligence community. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

Beating ISIS and Leaving Iran as a Threshold State Is Winning the Battle and Losing the War - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Knesset on Monday:

  • There are those who wish to dictate terms to us that will endanger our security and our future and will push the peace that we so long for further away.
  • Who will prevent the manufacturing of rockets in Nablus and Jenin [in the West Bank]? Who will prevent the digging of terror tunnels from Tulkarm and Kalkilya towards Israeli cities? Certainly not UNIFIL. UNIFIL was supposed to prevent the arming of Hizbullah after our withdrawal from Lebanon and Hizbullah has armed itself ten times over. It will certainly not be UNDOF, which abandoned its positions in the Golan Heights and escaped to Israel.
  • There are those who say perhaps we can trust the Palestinian Authority's security forces. These are the same forces that were defeated within several days by the terrorist forces of Hamas [in 2007]. In defending Israel, there is no replacement for the soldiers of the IDF.
  • When faced with radical Islamist forces that repeatedly knock on our door from all sides, when faced with Abu Mazen's [Abbas'] incitement and his cooperation with Hamas, there is no alternative to taking a strong stand in our demands - including a long-term security presence in the Jordan Valley and our right to act anywhere there is a danger to our security.
  • Violence is not the result of building in Jerusalem. It is the result of our enemy's desire that we not be here at all - nowhere, in no part of Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv either, not in Haifa, not in Beersheba. For this reason, since the birth of Zionism, building has been the natural and decisive answer to those who plot against our existence and want to uproot us from our land.
  • Beating ISIS and leaving Iran as a threshold state is winning the battle and losing the war. I hope that the international community will not make a historic mistake by easing the sanctions imposed on Iran and leaving it with the ability to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb in a short period of time.

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