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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
April 2, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Wants Arabs to Bomb Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    Mahmoud Habbash, a senior advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, has called on Arab countries to launch a military strike against Gaza, similar to the Saudi-led campaign against Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.
    Habbash, who also holds the post of Chief Islamic Judge, said Friday: Arab leaders "must take the initiative to strike with an iron fist against those who come out against legitimacy, regardless of the time and place, starting from Palestine. What happened in Gaza was a [Hamas] coup. There should be no dialogue with those behind the coup."
    The following day, Abbas himself said: "I hope the Arab states carry out the same policy that they are in Yemen in the case of all Arab nations that suffer from internal conflicts - such as Palestine."
    In fact, the PA is inviting the Arab states to do exactly what Israel did in the summer of 2014: to launch airstrikes against terror bases belonging to Hamas and other radical groups inside Gaza.

ISIS Seizes New Territory in Syria - Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad (New York Times)
    Islamic State militants in Syria have seized new territory in recent days in the central province of Hama and in the Yarmouk district less than five miles from the center of Damascus.

Soccer Riots Reflect Discontent among Iran's Arab Minority - James M. Dorsey (Eurasia Review)
    Long-simmering discontent in Ahwaz, the predominantly ethnic Arab capital of Iran's Khuzestan province, exploded in March during a soccer match between the state-owned Foolad FC and Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia.
    Soccer fans defiantly expressed support for Al Hilal during the match and burnt pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
    Scores were arrested as fans fought police near the stadium for three hours after the match.
    Habib Jaber Al-Ahvazi, a spokesman for the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), said the soccer protest was part of an "ongoing confrontation between demonstrators and the forces of the Persian occupation."
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Trusting the Ayatollahs - Raymond Ibrahim (American Thinker)
    The Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims.
    The Islamic prophet Muhammad himself regularly lied to his infidel enemies, often resulting in their murder. He also proclaimed that lying was permissible in three contexts, one being war.
    Moreover, taqiyya became second nature to the Shia - the sect ruling Iran.
    Islamic law takes circumstance into account. Reach peace when weak, wage war when strong, has been an Islamic modus operandi for centuries.
    It's all very standard for Islamic leaders to say they are pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes while they are weaker than their infidel foes - as Iran is today - but once they acquire nukes, the jihad can resume in earnest.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Nuclear Talks Continue Thursday - Laurence Norman
    Iranian nuclear talks in Switzerland continued on Thursday past a Tuesday night deadline. Iran wants all sanctions to be lifted upfront, while the U.S. insists that some of the measures, in particular UN sanctions which bar the sale to Iran of various materials that can be used in a nuclear program, stay in place for years. However, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi reiterated that Iran would not accept long-term restraints on carrying out nuclear research to develop more advanced technology.
        U.S. lawmakers said Wednesday congressional action is now a near certainty after the diplomacy missed its third deadline in less than a year. There are bills in Congress which would place new sanctions on Iran if there is no final deal by June 30. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Iran Holding Out for Full-Scale Termination of Sanctions - Guy Taylor
    Iranian negotiators said Wednesday they are holding out for a full-scale termination of sanctions and accused the U.S. of lacking the "political will" to go along with the demand. "We insist that all the economic, financial and crude [oil] sanctions be canceled in the first step of the agreement and a specific framework be drawn for [the removal of] those embargoes," Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy lead negotiator, told Iranian state-run Channel One TV.
        The U.S. has rejected an immediate lifting of all sanctions, saying it would remove any leverage to ensure Iran did not cheat on its commitments to curb its nuclear programs down the line. (Washington Times)
        See also below Commentary - Israel's Prime Minister Has a Point on Iran (Economist-UK)
  • Palestinian Discontent with Abbas Is Growing - Diaa Hadid
    There is growing discontent in Palestinian ranks focused on PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who celebrated his 80th birthday last week. "Internal problems - like the split [between the PA and Hamas in Gaza], and like the paralyzed political system, and a lack of elections - they are impediments also, for achieving the objective of independence and statehood," said Ghassan Khatib, vice president of Birzeit University in the West Bank. Abbas is a colorless leader in the 10th year of what was meant to have been a five-year term. He has failed to cultivate a successor and has systematically snuffed out any challenges to his rule. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Defense Minister: Iran Deal Is a Bad Deal for the West - Gili Cohen
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon discussed the talks on Iran's nuclear program on Wednesday. "Certainly there will be a statement, perhaps a signed paper, but this document will only be a statement of intentions - an attempt to conclude this round somehow, without a total breakdown, but also without the parties being fully satisfied....Looking at the agreement overall - it's a bad deal for the West. Iran should not be left with any self-enrichment capacity."
        Iran's breakout time to the bomb would be less than a year if Iran is left with the ability to develop advanced centrifuges, Ya'alon said, adding that the West would be better off not signing any deal than signing a "bad deal." "A deal that grants legitimacy to an aggressive regime, that welcomes it into the family of nations, that removes limitations on it - better to keep up the pressure, the sanctions, the threats against the regime, than to give it legitimacy that bestows immunity upon it."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Prepares for Enhanced Rocket Threat from Hizbullah - Yaakov Lappin
    The IDF Home Front Command has in recent weeks notified the nation's local authorities of an increased threat posed by Hizbullah's rockets in Lebanon. According to the latest information, hundreds of rockets could strike northern towns each day, a senior Home Front Command source said on Tuesday.
        "The scenario we are looking at is not a prediction of what will be. It spells out what we are building up our capabilities against. We believe we can stand up to the challenge," the army source said. "If civilians prepare themselves and absorb the information we send out, if they receive an early rocket alert and have the correct protection, they have more than a 90% chance of surviving," the source said. He warned, however, that "safe rooms" in private homes could not withstand a direct hit by a heavy Hizbullah rocket, such as an M-600. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Iran Is Placing Guided Warheads on Hizbullah Rockets - Yaakov Lappin
    Iran is converting Zilzal unguided rockets into accurate, guided M-600 missiles and smuggling them to Hizbullah in Lebanon, Col. Aviram Hasson, a senior Israel Defense Ministry official, said Tuesday. Hasson warned that Iran "is turning unguided rockets that had an accuracy range of kilometers into weapons that are accurate to within meters." Hizbullah "is getting a lot of accurate weapons from Iran. It is in a very different place compared to the Second Lebanon War in 2006."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: New David's Sling Anti-Missile System Shoots Down Incoming Missile in Trial - Yaakov Lappin
    The Israel Defense Ministry said Wednesday it had carried out a successful test of the David's Sling anti-missile system, designed to shoot down short- to medium-range missiles, hostile aircraft and cruise missiles. "We believe it will be operational next year," said Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. When fully deployed, David's Sling will require just two batteries to cover Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • NGO Files War Crimes Complaint Against Hamas - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The NGO Shurat Hadin on Monday filed a war crimes complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against a range of Hamas commanders for indiscriminate rocket fire against Ben-Gurion Airport during the summer Gaza war. The complaint was filed on behalf of 26 Americans on flights which were redirected or cancelled or were present at the airport on July 22 when most American and international airlines cancelled their flights due to rocket fire which struck a civilian home in the nearby city of Yehud. The goal is for the U.S. to criminally prosecute the Hamas commanders and rocket crew members involved, in the U.S. court system.
        The complaint argues that American law provides prison sentences of up to 20 years for any person who "unlawfully and intentionally uses any substance or weapon to perform an act of violence at an international airport when the victim is a national of the United States."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel's Prime Minister Has a Point on Iran
    Mr. Obama may this week embrace Israel's greatest foe, Iran, by agreeing on the outline for a nuclear deal. Mr. Netanyahu deserves to be heard on the risk that a deal will turn Iran from a pariah into a legitimate and overbearing regional power.
        Mr. Netanyahu is right on at least one point that Mr. Obama is willfully ignoring: Iran's belligerent behavior in the Middle East is an increasing menace. The militias Iran is sponsoring are in some ways the Shia mirror-image of the Sunni jihadists of Islamic State (IS). As the Arab world breaks down, Iran's proxies are not just a response to the sectarian chaos but also a cause of it. This week Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels laid siege to the strategic port of Aden. Iran now has strong influence over Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Sana'a.
        With a more tractable Iran, other problems in the Middle East would become easier for the outside world to manage. But Mr. Netanyahu is right to point out that nobody should count on it. Free of sanctions, Iran may become more assertive still. Mr. Obama needs to make the case that, with Iran, the West will distrust and verify. (Economist-UK)
  • Contending with a Struggle within Islam - Mike Hayden
    When at the CIA, I was fond of saying that many jihadis join the movement for the same reasons that young Americans join the Crips and the Bloods: youthful alienation, the need to belong to something greater than self, the search for meaningful identity. But it also matters what gang you join. And this gang, at its senior levels, espouses horrific violence through references to the holy Koran.
        So this is a struggle over ideas, and unfortunately it is a struggle over which we have only limited influence. We can try to set the conditions for success, working to empower and protect moderate voices. We also have to look to our own safety by resorting to force to kill or capture those already committed to doing us harm. Gen. Michael Hayden is a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency. (Washington Times)

Can Hamas and Hizbullah Be Effectively Deterred? - Yaakov Lappin interviews Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh (Jerusalem Post)

  • Israel's enemies care only for their own physical survival. Hence, to deter Hamas and Hizbullah from attacking Israel, Jerusalem has to make it clear it is prepared to target their leadership, their senior command level, and to systematically eliminate their military capabilities, former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Naveh said on March 23.
  • If deterrence breaks down, Israel can influence the conduct of its enemies by taking precisely those steps. "What is deterrence? It's when the fear of harm by the other side is so big that the fear removes their desire to realize their interests to escalate."
  • Referring to Israel's conflict with Hamas last summer, he said, "There was a leak from the cabinet that said Israel had no desire to defeat Hamas....If you tell someone you will not threaten his survival, from that moment he has no fear for the future and no restraint regarding a direct conflict....The moment Hamas' survival was not under threat, it was not concerned with how many casualties it sustained, or how many it inflicted on us."
  • Ultimately, Naveh said, factors that led Hamas to agree to a truce included reaching a critically low supply of rockets, and the solving of an internal feud between Hamas in Gaza and Khaled Mashaal, head of the organization's overseas branch.
  • Naveh is disturbed by Tehran's recent actions. "In a few years we might...see Iranian brigades in Syria and to the east, in Iraq, on the Jordanian border."
  • Moreover, Iran has reached the status of a nuclear breakout state. "It has the deterrence of a nuclear state. If it is unhappy with someone, within a year it goes nuclear. [Other states] will not want to anger them - they could reactivate their nuclear program; that level of threat is not far below one posed by a nuclear country."

        See also IDF Must Regain Its Maneuvering Capabilities - Amir Rapaport interviews Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh (Israel Defense)

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