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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
July 2, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Hamas Tied to Jihadists in Sinai Assault - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Hamas' military wing is maintaining ties with Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province) - whose fighters were behind the massive attack on Egyptian forces in Sinai on Wednesday - despite objections from Hamas' political leadership, Israeli defense sources said.
    Hamas also is treating wounded militants from the Sinai jihadist groups in Gazan hospitals.

Peacekeepers at Risk from IS in Sinai - Ludovico Carlino (IHS Jane's)
    The Sinai Province of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a June 9 rocket attack targeting El Gorah airport in north Sinai, operated by the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) peacekeepers deployed there as part of the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel.
    According to Egyptian media, after the rocket attack, security forces were able to stop two vehicles approaching the MFO camp in El Gorah, killing all six militants.
    This indicates that the group's intention was to assault the MFO camp.

"Humanitarian Aid" Aboard Gaza Flotilla Fit in Two Cardboard Boxes - William Booth (Washington Post)
    The humanitarian aid brought by pro-Palestinian activists aboard a Swedish vessel that failed to break through Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza this week consisted of a solar panel and a small cardboard box containing a nebulizer, a machine used to inhale medicines.

Fewer than 100 Syrian Rebels Currently Being Trained by U.S. - Robert Burns (AP)
    On June 26, 2014, the White House asked Congress for $500 million for a three-year program to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State.
    Yet as of last week, fewer than 100 Syrians are currently being trained by the U.S. military.
    The main problem has been finding enough Syrian recruits untainted by extremist affiliations or disqualified by physical or other flaws.
    Moreover, many Syrian rebel volunteers prefer to use their training to fight the government of President Assad, the original target of their revolution.

Tunisia Hotel Attack Victims Included 30 Britons - Tarek Amara (Reuters)
    All 38 victims of the terror attack at a Tunisian hotel on Friday have been formally identified, Tunisia's health ministry said Wednesday.
    The victims included 30 Britons, three Irish, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese and one Russian.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Islamic State Militants Launch Major Assault in Egypt's Sinai - Erin Cunningham and Loveday Morris
    Militants linked with the Islamic State unleashed a wave of attacks on the military in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, briefly seizing key checkpoints. As many as 70 soldiers and civilians were killed in one of the most sophisticated attacks on the Egyptian army in decades. Throughout the day, militants were perched on rooftops in Sheikh Zuweid, a town of 60,000, firing on security installations.
        Zack Gold, a visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said of the militants who now call themselves the "Sinai Province" of the Islamic State: "This isn't one of their regular hit-and-run attacks. They seem to be setting up for the longer haul." However, "the [Egyptian] military is more cohesive [than in Iraq] and has more firepower."  (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt's Army Fights Back Against IS Assaults - Marina Barsoum
    For the third year in a row, Islamist militants targeted Egyptian security forces on a large scale during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Militants launched simultaneous attacks on checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah using car bombs and other weaponry. The Egyptian army used F-16 jet fighters, Apache helicopters and tanks to stop the militants. Maj.-Gen. Hisham El-Halaby said the total number of attackers exceeded 300. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
        See also Egypt: IS Used Sophisticated Weapons in Sinai Attack
    Islamic State-linked militants who attacked Egyptian troops in Sinai used Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles, mortars, and anti-aircraft guns, the el-Watan daily reported Thursday. (AP)
  • Egyptian Security Forces Kill Nine Muslim Brotherhood Leaders in Cairo
    Egypt's Interior Ministry says nine people killed in a raid on a Cairo apartment on Wednesday were fugitive Muslim Brotherhood leaders who had been meeting to plan terrorist plots. (Al Arabiya)
        See also Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt Calls for Rebellion after Raid (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: We Are Partners with Egypt in the Fight Against ISIS - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday: "Terrorism is knocking on our borders. Islamic State is not only across from the Golan Heights, it is also in Egypt....We are together with Egypt and many other states in the Middle East and the world in the struggle against extreme Islamic terrorism."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fearing Fighting Spillover, IDF Deploys Extra Troops on Sinai Border - Marissa Newman
    The Israeli army deployed additional troops and was on high alert along its border with Egypt, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. The army was monitoring the fighting across the border using UAVs and was preparing for every scenario, including infiltration by jihadists. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel to Okay Bolstered Egyptian Forces in Sinai after Deadly Attacks
    Israel has decided to grant all Egyptian requests to reinforce troops in the Sinai Peninsula after the attacks Wednesday, Israel Channel 2 reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Surprised by IS Attacks in Sinai - Zvi Mazel
    The Egyptian security services had no advance warning of a major concerted operation that must have involved considerable planning. Their surprise was such that soldiers reacted sluggishly and only after having suffered significant losses. The Egyptian Army lacks special forces trained to fight in the desert and mountainous regions where terrorists are sheltering. Furthermore, the terrorists are aided and abetted by the local Bedouin population, neglected for decades by the Cairo government.
        Egyptian President Sisi is not getting any help from the U.S. or Europe, both still calling him a military dictator who forcibly ejected a democratically elected president. Neither understood that Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi was about to set up an Islamic dictatorship. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt, and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Breaks Up Hamas Terror Cell in West Bank - Yoav Zitun
    The Israel Security Agency has uncovered a large Hamas cell in the city of Nablus in the West Bank, it was reported Wednesday. Some 40 people were arrested, including senior Hamas members who have been jailed repeatedly. Hamas sought to establish a central headquarters in Nablus, appoint regional chiefs, and set up infrastructure in areas such as education, finance, communications, intelligence, gaining support, charity, transferring financial assistance to Hamas prisoners and their families, and laying the foundation for military action. Husam Badran, 49, who lives in Qatar, was responsible for organizing the cell and transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to it. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Terror Cell Exposed in Nablus (IDF News Desk-IMRA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Can the U.S. Get a Good Iran Deal? - Aaron David Miller
    Any really good deal was lost once Iran mastered the fuel cycle, the international community conceded Iran's right to enrich uranium, and the regime created a vast nuclear infrastructure. The issue for any deal now is managing and reducing risk.
        The deal is coming. It will produce a slower, smaller, more easily monitored Iranian nuclear program. But we should be under no illusion that this agreement will produce an end state in which Iran will give up its nuclear weapons aspirations.
        Only transformation of the regime into something else - a more moderate, normal state - might allow for the possibility that Iran would give up permanently its desire to remain a nuclear weapons threshold state. But the odds of a quick transformation are pretty small. And freed from sanctions relief and open for business, Iran will have additional resources to pursue its regional aspirations. The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (CNN)
  • What to Do About an Imperial Iran - James Stavridis
    About 2,500 years ago the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great ruled over 40% of the global population from what is today Libya to Afghanistan. Being an imperial power is woven into the Iranians' national DNA and cultural outlook. And we need to decide how to deal with the reality of Iranian geopolitical outreach, which will be significantly empowered by the lifting of economic sanctions.
        We need to reassure increasingly nervous allies in the region that we are aware of the broad campaign of Iranian imperial activity. If we do manage to solve the nuclear issue with Iran, the next problem will be an ambitious and relatively well-funded nation with distinct ambitions in not only its region, but globally. The writer is a retired four-star U.S. Navy admiral and NATO supreme allied commander who serves today as the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. (Foreign Policy)

A Good Bad Deal? - Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)

  • You'd never know that "Iran is the one hemorrhaging hundreds of billions of dollars due to sanctions, tens of billions because of fallen oil prices and billions sustaining the Assad regime in Syria," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. And "it's Ali Khamenei, not John Kerry, who presides over a population desperate to see sanctions relief."
  • Yet, for the past year every time there is a sticking point, it keeps feeling as if it's always our side looking to accommodate Iran's needs.
  • Johns Hopkins University foreign policy specialist Michael Mandelbaum says: "In the current negotiations...the United States is far stronger than Iran, yet it is the United States that has made major concessions."
  • "After beginning the negotiations by insisting that the Tehran regime relinquish all its suspect enrichment facilities and cease all its nuclear activities relevant to making a bomb, the Obama administration has ended by permitting Iran to keep virtually all of those facilities and continue some of those activities."
  • An Iran that is unshackled from sanctions and gets an injection of over $100 billion in cash will be even more superior in power than all of its Arab neighbors.
  • Therefore, the U.S. needs to take the lead in initiating a modus vivendi between Sunni Arabs and Persian Shiites and curb Iran's belligerence toward Israel. If we can't help defuse those conflicts, a good bad deal could very easily fuel a wider regional war.

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