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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
January 22, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli TV Shows Iranian Missile that "Can Reach Far Beyond Europe" (Times of Israel)
    Iran has built a 27-meter-long missile capable of delivering a warhead "far beyond Europe," and placed it on a launch pad at a site close to Tehran, Israeli Channel 2 television reported Wednesday, showing what it said were the first satellite images of the missile ever seen in the West.
    The missile could be used to launch spacecraft or satellites and also could carry warheads.

Canadians Closer to Combat in Iraq than U.S. Troops - Andrew Tilghman (Military Times)
    Brig. Gen. Mike Rouleau, commander of Canadian Special Operations Forces in Iraq, revealed Monday that his troops are now routinely going out with Iraqi soldiers "to the forward-most Iraqi fighting positions" and providing "eyes on" to help coalition airstrikes by "marking the target with a laser."
    His mission is very different from the one U.S. officials say American service members are performing in Iraq.
    According to the Pentagon, U.S. troops on the "advise and assist mission" are staying out of harm's way inside headquarters facilities with Iraqi units at the brigade level or higher.

Ten Israeli Tourists Hurt in Anti-Semitic Attack in Argentina (JTA)
    Three assailants burned, robbed and beat ten Israeli tourists in an anti-Semitic attack at the Onda Azul hostel in Lago Puelo, in southern Argentina, on Monday, local media reported.
    The attackers, neighborhood residents who live very close to the hostel, threw stones and Molotov cocktails, and shot guns at the site.

Islamic State Has Sleeper Cells throughout Turkey (IHS Jane's Intelligence Weekly)
    A leaked intelligence report by the Turkish national police warns of the presence of Islamic State "sleeper cells" throughout the country, comprising around 3,000 people.
    Furthermore, last week Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed concerns about the possible return of at least 700 Turkish citizens currently fighting for the Islamic State.
    Despite Western pressure, Turkey has not yet permitted the U.S.-led coalition to use the Incirlik air base in southeastern Turkey for airstrikes against IS.

Muslim Preacher Indicted for Temple Mount Speech Calling to "Slaughter Jews" - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Preacher Omar Abu Saara, a resident of eastern Jerusalem, was indicted Wednesday for incitement to violence for a Nov. 28 speech at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in which he said:
    "I say to the Jews explicitly, the time has come to slaughter you....The time has come to go to war with you, the time has come to kill you. And we, with God's help, will destroy you."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Argentine Phone Calls Detail Efforts to Shield Iran - Jonathan Gilbert and Simon Romero
    Transcripts of intercepted conversations between representatives of the Iranian and Argentine governments, made public by an Argentine judge on Tuesday, point to a long pattern of secret negotiations to reach a deal in which Argentina would receive oil in exchange for shielding Iranian officials from charges that they orchestrated the bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994.
        The transcripts are part of a 289-page criminal complaint written by Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor investigating the attack, who was found dead in his apartment on Sunday, the night before he was to present his findings to Congress. The complaint asserts that the negotiators included Argentine intelligence operatives and Mohsen Rabbani, a former Iranian cultural attache in Argentina charged with helping to coordinate the bombing. (New York Times)
  • Report: Russia May Send S-300 Missile System to Iran - Thomas Grove
    Russia might deliver a S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, honoring a contract that was canceled in 2010 following strong pressure from the West, Iranian and Russian media said on Tuesday. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is visiting Tehran and signed an agreement with Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Hossein Dehqan to boost cooperation, Iran's Fars news agency said.
        "A step was taken in the direction of cooperation on the economy and arms technology, at least for such defensive systems such as the S-300 and S-400. Probably we will deliver them," Russia's RIA state news quoted Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former head of the defense ministry's department of international cooperation, as saying. (Reuters)
  • Yemen Rebels Attack Presidential Compound, Weakening U.S.-Backed Leader - Ali al-Mujahed and Hugh Naylor
    Shiite Houthi insurgents - believed to be backed by Iran - stormed Yemen's presidential palace and besieged President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's residence Tuesday in a show of force that threatened to topple a government that has been a key American ally in the fight against al-Qaeda. Washington has relied heavily on Hadi for cooperation in carrying out drone strikes that have targeted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). (Washington Post)
        See also Yemen Leader Ready to Accept Demands of Houthis after His Guards Defeated - Yara Bayoumy and Mohammed Ghobari
    Yemen's President Hadi expressed readiness on Wednesday to accept demands for constitutional change and power sharing with Houthi rebels who defeated his guards in two days of battle. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Woman Stabbed by Palestinian Terrorist Fighting for Her Life - Yaron Kelner and Itay Blumenthal
    A 69-year-old woman stabbed on a bus in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian on Wednesday remains in serious condition and is still fighting for her life. The bus driver, Herzl Biton, 62, is still attached to a respirator and remains in serious condition after being repeatedly stabbed in the stomach. Biton put up a fight with the attacker and afterwards slammed on the brakes, which jolted the attacker who was on his way to the back of the bus crowded with passengers, and enabled many passengers to escape.
        Daniel Felah, 25, is in serious condition after being stabbed in the stomach. Another man is in moderate condition after suffering a severe stab wound to the stomach. Another woman is also hospitalized in moderate condition after undergoing surgery to her neck. (Ynet News)
        See also Video: Tel Aviv Terrorist Pursues Victims Running from Bus - Ben Hartman
    Dramatic security camera footage shows the Palestinian terrorist running after those fleeing from the bus in Tel Aviv and stabbing a woman in the back, who then falls to the ground. (Channel 10 TV-Jerusalem Post)
        See also Terrorist's Friends: He's a Real Man, We Should Learn from Him - Hassan Shaalan
    In Tulkarm in the West Bank, the home of Hamza Matrouk who stabbed over a dozen people in Tel Aviv, residents praised the attack, calling the terrorist a "real man" and a "hero." Matrouk is the son of a security prisoner. (Ynet News)
        See also Palestinian Cartoons Praise Tel Aviv Stabbing Attack - Michelle Malka Grossman (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Eighth Grader Describes Tel Aviv Bus Attack - Yaron Kelner (Ynet News)
  • Assad, Hizbullah and Iran Are Training Syrian Militias to Fight Israel - Elhanan Miller
    The Free Syrian Army regularly monitors the radio communications of pro-Assad fighters on the Golan Heights, picking up conversations in Lebanese-accented Arabic, Persian, and even Russian, a Syrian opposition field commander told the Times of Israel on Wednesday. A Russian commander was captured by the Islamist Al-Nusra Front in the region last August, he said. All pro-Assad fighters in the area currently operate under Shiite command, whether Lebanese or Iranian.
        The Lebanese news agency El-Nashra reported on Wednesday that Iran and Hizbullah, in coordination with the Assad regime, were preparing a strategic plan that included engaging the IDF along the Israeli border with Syria and Lebanon, and training local militias on the Syrian Golan to combat Israel. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Fatal Attraction: Prospects for a U.S. Engagement Strategy with Iran - Aaron David Miller
    As long as Iran's mullahcracy and security establishment continue to see Iran as a revolutionary Islamic power at home and abroad, the chances of an engagement strategy transforming the U.S.-Iran relationship look pretty bleak. Indeed, perhaps the greatest danger is that a deal really won't diminish Tehran's determination to remain a screwdriver's turn away from a nuclear weapon.
        And if the administration is too eager for an agreement, it will find itself with the worst of all possible worlds - with an emboldened Iran freed from sanctions and international pressure, untransformed, unrepentant, and in a stronger, not weaker, position to challenge U.S. interests in a turbulent Middle East. The writer is vice president for new initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Foreign Policy)
  • Golan Attack "Colossal Failure" for Hizbullah, Analysts Say
    The attack in Syria which killed senior Hizbullah figures and an Iranian general represented a major breach to Hizbullah's security and a tactical misjudgment on its part, analysts said. Wehbe Katicha, a former Lebanese army general, said, "This was a colossal failure...because they [Hizbullah] put this number of senior figures in one spot and at the same observation point and at the same time." He added, "I think Hizbullah has no interest in launching a response from Lebanese soil because it knows this will lead to a catastrophe in Lebanon."
        Dr. Haytham Mouzahem, director of the Beirut Center for Middle East Studies, said that Israel likely believes Hizbullah is training members for an attack on the Golan Heights and this latest operation was a preemptive attempt at thwarting future attacks. (Al Arabiya)

International Criminal Court Opens Inquiry into Possible War Crimes in Palestinian Territories: A Response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Amb. Alan Baker, a former Legal Officer in the UN Office of Legal Affairs and a former senior member of Israel's delegation to the 1998 Rome Conference on the ICC and to the preparatory committee involved in drafting the ICC Statute, wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Jan. 18, 2015:

  • As you are probably aware, the concept of the creation of an independent, permanent International Criminal Court was born following the atrocities of the Second World War and the Holocaust, and representatives of the world's Jewish communities and the State of Israel were actively involved, since the early 1950s, in developing the vision and bringing it to fruition.
  • However, despite active Jewish and Israeli involvement in the concept and drafting of the Statute, Israel was prevented from becoming party to it in view of the injection of politicization into the drafting of the list of crimes set out in Article 8 of the Statute.
  • Regrettably, our worst fears have recently come to fruition, and the ICC is being manipulated to become a politicized "Israel-bashing" body, at the initiative of the Palestinian leadership which wrongfully perceives the Court as being their own private judicial tribunal, in order to conduct their political campaign against Israel.
  • This is borne out in several recent instances in which both the Secretary General and the ICC Prosecutor have been petitioned by the Palestinians to make political determinations at variance with the aims, purposes and very provisions of the Statute.
  • The 2012 General Assembly resolution which upgraded the Palestinian status within the UN to that of a "non-member observer state" cannot be considered, by any legal interpretation or analysis, as indicative of, or granting statehood. That resolution did not establish or acknowledge Palestinian statehood or sovereignty.
  • A political General Assembly cannot and should not serve to guide the ICC Prosecutor in carrying out her legal functions. Clearly, the General Assembly is not a judicial body, but a political one. Its determinations are political, not legal.
  • Taking into consideration the accepted international criteria for statehood as set out in the 1933 Montevideo Convention which include, among other things, a unified territorial unit and responsible governance of its people, and capability of fulfilling international commitments and responsibilities, no serious UN organ or the Prosecutor of the ICC could, logically, accept the Palestinian Authority's claim to statehood and accession to the ICC Statute, as well as to other international conventions limited to "States."

        See also Is Israeli Concern over the ICC Premature? - Raphael Ahren
    Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry, says that regardless of the ICC Prosecutor's personal leanings, following the preliminary examination with a full-fledged criminal investigation will not be easy. According to the rules of the Court, laid down in the Rome Statue, there is only a "reasonable basis to proceed" if several criteria are fulfilled.
        First, the ICC has to establish that it indeed has territorial and personal jurisdiction over what happened in Palestine. Some experts wonder how the prosecutor will determine who's a Palestinian citizen and where the state's borders are.
        Next, the ICC will have to check whether the people under suspicion of crimes have not already been investigated by their country's own legal system, and whether the alleged crimes are severe enough to occupy a court meant to look into "unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity." According to Baker, this means that Israeli leaders and generals have nothing to be afraid of. "It's a big bluff, a huge PR exercise" launched by Palestinians to give Israel some bad press, he opined.
        The court could take up Israel's building of settlements in the West Bank. The Rome Statue includes phrasing that was inserted at the behest of Egypt and Syria that was clearly intended to criminalize Israeli settlements. However, is the building of housing units in eastern Jerusalem an "unimaginable atrocity"? The ICC has so far not looked into similar cases such as Turkish settlements in Northern Cyprus. (Times of Israel)

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