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December 8, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Pakistan Military Kills Al-Qaeda Leader Wanted in U.S. - Ismail Khan (New York Times)
    The Pakistani military said Saturday that it had killed a senior leader of al-Qaeda wanted in the U.S. on charges of plotting to bomb several Western targets, including the New York City subway system.
    Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah, described by the FBI as a leader in al-Qaeda's external operations program, was killed in a raid at a remote compound in South Waziristan.
    Shukrijumah, 39, a naturalized American citizen born in Saudi Arabia, spent some of his early years in Brooklyn and went to college in Florida.

Saudi-Born U.S. Naval Engineer Caught Trying to Steal Aircraft Carrier Secrets - Andrew Zajac (Bloomberg)
    Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, 35, a civilian engineer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, was arrested in a sting operation for trying to steal diagrams of the U.S. Navy's newest nuclear aircraft carrier for a man who he believed to be a spy for the Egyptian government.

Jerusalem Arab Injured in Palestinian Terror Attack Dies (i24 News)
    Abd al-Karim Nafith Hamid, 60, who was severely wounded in a Palestinian terror attack in Jerusalem last month, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
    Hamid sustained injuries when a Palestinian plowed his vehicle into a crowd at a light rail station on Nov. 6.

1,760 Tons of Cement Shipped to Gaza (Ma'an-PA)
    44 trucks loaded with 1,760 tons of cement entered Gaza on Sunday, the largest quantity shipped in one day in years, the Israeli liaison department at the Erez crossing said.

U.S. Tech Firm to Open Development Center in Israel - Inbal Orpaz (Ha'aretz)
    San Francisco-based UST Global, a technology firm that employs 18,000 people worldwide, plans to set up a development center in Israel that will train thousands of people in cyber security and become one of the largest high-tech employers in Israel, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Saturday night.
    The firm provides information technology and business process outsourcing services for multinational corporations.
    UST Global CEO Sajan Pillai explained: "Today, most companies in the world view cyber defense as one of their top problems. Israel, as a country, has the best brand in intelligence and cyber defense, bar none. Number two, 40% of all cyber defense companies today, innovative companies, are located in Israel."

Toronto Mural a Jihadi Battle Cry - Tarek Fatah (Toronto Sun-Canada)
    On Sept. 3, the head of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a video in which he declared war on the infidels, reciting verse 13 from the Quran chapter titled "The Battle Array": "Help from Allah and an imminent victory is at hand."
    The words are a millennium-old Islamic battle prayer.
    These same words have been painted as a mural in the heart of Toronto's Little India, paid for by the taxpayers of Toronto.
    Last year, Toronto realtor Salim Ahmad, a Muslim and a member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, launched a petition asking the mayor and city officials to remove the mural containing the jihadi battle prayer.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Two Hostages Killed in Yemen as U.S. Rescue Effort Fails - Kareem Fahim and Eric Schmitt
    U.S. commandos stormed a village in southern Yemen early Saturday in an effort to free American photojournalist Luke Somers held hostage by al-Qaeda, but Somers and Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher, were killed by their captors when they realized the rescue effort was underway, U.S. officials said.
        It was the second attempt by U.S. forces to rescue Somers from Yemen in less than two weeks. Somers' captors said in a video released Wednesday that they would kill him by Saturday unless unspecified demands were met. A tribal leader said at least two militants and eight civilians were killed in the raid. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Did Not Know about Talks on Freeing South African Who Died in Yemen Raid (AP-Washington Post)
        See also How the Raid in Yemen Went Wrong - Adam Entous (Wall Street Journal)
  • Biden: No Daylight between Israel and U.S. on Security
    Vice President Joe Biden told the Saban Forum in Washington on Saturday night: Our prayers are with the family of Luke Somers, who was murdered by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It's a potent reminder of what Israelis face every day.
        I've said before, if there weren't an Israel, we'd have to invent one. We always talk about Israel from this perspective as if we're doing some favor, meeting a moral obligation. But it's so much more than a moral obligation. It's overwhelmingly in the self-interest of the United States of America to have a secure, democratic friend, a strategic partner like Israel. Israel today is the strongest nation in the Middle East.
        Just because it's strong, just because it's vibrant, just because it is physically capable, does not mean that it's not under siege. Rockets from the southern frontier; Hizbullah in the north; Nusrah and ISIL on the north and east. And looming over everything is Iran and its nuclear program. It's a really tough, tough neighborhood. But for Israel, this tough neighborhood is home. This tough neighborhood is where they live and will live forever.
        We have an obligation to match the steel and the spine of the people of Israel with an ironclad, nonnegotiable commitment to Israel's physical security. There's absolutely no daylight - none - between us and the Israelis on the question of Israel's security. (White House)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu at the Saban Forum: Increase the Pressure on Iran to Dismantle Its Nuclear Weapons Capability (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: IDF Struck Two Targets in Syria - Roi Kais
    Syrian television and Hizbullah's al-Manar TV claimed Israeli Air Force planes attacked security installations on the outskirts of Damascus near the international airport and in the town of Dimas near the border with Lebanon. There were no casualties. (Ynet News)
        See also Iran Is Playing with Fire - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The strikes in Syria on Sunday which have been attributed to the Israeli Air Force were likely intended to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry from Iran to Hizbullah. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard continues to play with fire by equipping Hizbullah with arms that have the capability to cause widespread losses and destruction in Israel. It is reasonable to assume that the airstrike was launched based on precise intelligence. In recent weeks, many Hizbullah officials and senior members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have publicly boasted about the advanced ground-to-ground missiles which Iran supplied to Hizbullah. (Ynet News)
  • Report: Hizbullah Drones, Anti-Aircraft Missiles Destroyed in Syria
    Syrian opposition sources told Arab media on Monday that the airstrikes near Damascus destroyed a storage facility housing anti-aircraft missiles as well as drones belonging to Hizbullah. The Hizbullah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar claimed that the IAF struck weapons caches "that belonged to Hizbullah." These arms were considered to be "capable of tilting the strategic balance" and that "the Israeli action was intended to preserve the rules of the game."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Covert War Against Hizbullah's Arms Program - Yaakov Lappin
    Hardly a week passes without Israel blocking - in one way or another - an Iranian arms smuggling attempt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Antiquities Robbers Caught Red-Handed in Judean Desert
    Last weekend, members of the Arad Rescue Unit, who were undergoing routine training in the early morning hours, identified suspicious movement in a cave in the northern cliff of Nahal Ze'elim in the Judean Desert. Inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery of the Israel Antiquities Authority were called to the scene. Suspects were observed carrying out an illicit excavation while using a metal detector and excavating equipment. They caused tremendous damage in the cave known as "The Cave of the Skulls," by destroying archaeological strata and historical evidence from the Roman period c. 2,000 years ago and the Chalcolithic period c. 5,000 years ago.
        The suspects - all from the Palestinian village of Seir near Hebron in the West Bank - demonstrated considerable expertise in reaching the cave by climbing and rappelling from the cliff using special equipment they possessed. As the suspects climbed back up to the top of the cliff during the evening, inspectors of the Unit were waiting. Amir Ganor, director of the Unit, said, "For many years now gangs of antiquities robbers have been operating along the Judean Desert cliffs."  (Israel Antiquities Authority)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Former Obama Arms Control Advisor: Deal with Iran Is Not Close at Hand - Ilan Evyatar
    With regard to a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, "some of the optimistic talk may be giving a misleading impression. In reality a deal is not close at hand," Robert Einhorn, a former senior arms control adviser to President Obama, told a forum of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation last week. Among the sticking points Einhorn noted were the amount of uranium Iran would be allowed to enrich; the number of centrifuges it would be allowed to keep; the period of limitations on Tehran's nuclear program; a timetable for removal of sanctions; and the issue of Tehran coming clean over past possible military dimensions of the program.
        "Success or failure will be determined in Tehran," said Einhorn. "If the supreme leader throws his support behind those who favor engagement with the West, there can be deal." However, "it is doubtful that he will."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Cheaper Oil Won't Make Iran Bend - Gareth Smyth
    Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech, argues that falling oil prices will not affect Iran's negotiating position. He points out that sanctions have made the government less dependent on oil income, which he says accounts for under half of its revenue today compared to around two-thirds in 2011-2012. And with subsidies on domestic energy sales already being reduced by the Rouhani administration, the state can generate higher revenue by increasing prices, while the poorest are to some extent insulated by the cash payments replacing subsidies. The writer was chief Iran correspondent of The Financial Times in 2003-2007. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Israel's Successful Pivot to Asia - Elliott Abrams
    Israel's pivot to Asia has been a great success. Trade with China and India has risen rapidly and relations keep improving. It's fashionable to say that Israel is increasingly isolated in the world, and people point to resolutions like the one in Sweden "recognizing a Palestinian state" that are passing European parliaments. But a country whose trade with India and China is growing by leaps and bounds is hard to call "isolated."  (Council on Foreign Relations)

Netanyahu: Increase the Pressure on Iran to Dismantle Its Nuclear Weapons Capability (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Saban Forum in Washington on Sunday:

  • The November 24th deadline for an agreement [with Iran] has come and gone. That's fortunate because a deal was not signed last month that would have effectively left Iran as a threshold nuclear power. And even though Israel isn't part of the P5+1, our voice and our concerns played a critical role in preventing a bad deal. Now we must use the time available to increase the pressure on Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons capability.
  • Violence and fanaticism are spreading throughout the Middle East, and ISIS's savagery is merely one example of it. The collapse of the old order has made clear to pragmatic Arab governments that Israel is not their enemy. On the contrary, Israel and our moderate Arab neighbors have much to gain by cooperating. And this cooperation could, in turn, open the door to peace.
  • Like the moderate Arabs, I want Israel to have peace with the Palestinians: a genuine peace, an enduring peace, a secure peace - for there can be no peace without real security and there can be no real security without a long-term IDF presence to provide it.
  • For nine months we negotiated with the Palestinians, but they consistently refused to engage us on our legitimate security concerns, just as they refused to discuss recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while at the same time insisting that Israel recognize a nation-state of the Palestinian people.
  • The talks didn't end because Israel announced that it would build apartments in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem - neighborhoods that will remain a part of Israel under any conceivable peace agreement. The talks ended because the Palestinians wanted them to end. The talks ended because President Abbas unfortunately chose a pact with Hamas over peace with Israel.
  • Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership is simply not yet prepared to truly confront violence and fanaticism within Palestinian society, within their own ranks. Real peace will only come with leadership that demands from the Palestinians to accept the three pillars of peace: one, genuine mutual recognition; two, an end to all claims, including the right of return; and three, a long-term Israeli security presence.

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