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May 30, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Missile Base under Construction in Iraqi Kurdistan - Dalshad Abdullah (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    A Kurdish official revealed that the Iranian regime on May 7 launched construction of a large missile and Revolutionary Guard base near Sayed Sadiq in Iraqi Kurdistan.
    The IRGC Quds Force, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, has deployed a large number of members who are dealing with Iran-backed Kurdish forces in the area.
    "The Iranian regime is working on founding a missile base in the region," the official said. "Iranian military helicopters consistently hover over the region; meanwhile IRGC soldiers and machines work on construction."

Israeli Cabinet Approves Appointment of Lieberman as Defense Minister - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli cabinet on Monday unanimously approved Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party as defense minister.

Lebanese Hizbullah Ministers Get Paid in Cash, Dodging U.S. Sanctions - Paula Astih (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    The Lebanese treasury started paying the salaries of Hizbullah ministers in cash two months ago to escape the U.S. sanctions put into effect, Lebanese sources said.

Fiji Withdrawing Peacekeepers from Sinai - Maika Bolatiki (Fiji Sun)
    Fijian peacekeepers in Sinai will be returning home soon because of escalating violence from Islamic State militants.
    Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) peacekeeping director Commander Humphrey Tawake said half of the 338 Fijian troops have already been relocated from northern Sinai to southern Sinai for safety reasons and soon they would all be in the south before returning home.

Steven Spielberg Tells Harvard Grads: I Was Wrong to Think Anti-Semitism Was Fading (JTA)
    Speaking at Harvard University's commencement on Thursday, filmmaker Steven Spielberg said:
    "We truly believed that anti-Semitism was fading. And we were wrong. Over the last two years, nearly 20,000 Jews have left Europe to find higher ground."
    "Earlier this year, I was at the Israeli embassy when President Obama stated the sad truth. He said: 'We must confront the reality that around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise. We cannot deny it.'"
    Spielberg also said his Shoah Foundation has taken video testimonies of over 53,000 Holocaust survivors and witnesses in 63 countries since 1994.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Funds Jordan Border Defense Against ISIS - Barbara Opall-Rome
    A U.S.-funded $100 million program to guard the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan against infiltrators from the Islamic State is nearing completion. The Jordan Border Security Project is now operational along a 160-mile stretch bordering Syria and another 115-mile demarcation line with Iraq. It will assist the Jordanian Armed Forces in patrolling the borders with rapid response vehicles, manning stationary watchtowers and running an operational command center. The system is integrated with day and night cameras, ground radars, and a full command, control and communications suite.
        "If there's a person or a car coming across the border, the system picks it up automatically and the information is relayed to operational command headquarters," said Andrei Gugiu, director for border security and critical infrastructure protection at Raytheon. (Defense News)
  • Life Under the Islamic State - Sarah Almukhtar
    The Islamic State is increasing taxes and punishments to help make up for recent losses in revenue, according to the IHS Conflict Monitor. Women can be fined for not wearing socks ($30), possessing a pack of cigarettes ($23) or showing their eyes ($10). Farmers will have their sheep confiscated if they wear bells. If you are a Shiite or non-Muslim, you can be required to pay for a certificate of repentance ($200-$2,500) and renew it four times a year.
        Residents of Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria, can be fined for smoking a cigarette ($25) or installing a satellite dish ($50). Those who leave the city have to pay a fee ($800), and their property can be confiscated if they do not return within 15 days. In Falluja, Iraq, it costs $1,000 to leave the city. Drivers can be fined if they fail to correctly answer religious questions at checkpoints ($20). (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Terror Cell behind Jerusalem Bus-Bombing Arrested - Roi Yanovsky
    A Hamas cell that carried out a suicide attack on a Jerusalem public bus on April 18 that wounded 19 Israeli civilians contained six militants who intended to carry out additional terrorist attacks, the Israel Security Agency revealed Sunday. The arrested Hamas operatives were all from the Bethlehem area and three had served previous prison terms for terrorist activity. (Ynet News)
  • Two Palestinians Arrested for Stabbing Elderly Women in Jerusalem
    The Israel Security Agency announced on Monday it had arrested two Palestinian minors for the stabbing attack on two women in their 80s on the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem earlier in May.
        During the investigation, it emerged that the mother of one of the suspects was arrested one week ago for attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at the Zeitim checkpoint at the entrance to Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post-Ynet News)
  • Hamas Is Deceiving Cairo and Helping IS - Avi Issacharoff
    There is a wide gap between what senior Hamas officials are telling the Egyptians and what the heads of its military wing are actually doing on the ground. Despite the promises by Gaza's rulers to stop the smuggling to and from Sinai, Hamas continues to maintain a delicate web of interests and alliances with Islamic State in Sinai. According to sources in Gaza, dozens of Islamic State fighters have received medical treatment in the hospital in Khan Yunis. The Hamas official in charge of arranging medical treatment for Islamic State members is Mohammed Sutari.
        Likewise, arms smuggling between Gaza and Sinai continues, supervised by Hamas' military wing. Constrained by Egypt's crackdown on border tunnels, some of the smuggling has been done recently by sea. In addition, several former Hamas activists have crossed the border in recent weeks to join the fighting in Sinai against the Egyptian army. Egyptian intelligence heads have realized that Hamas leaders have no intention of ordering a complete halt to cooperation with Islamic State anytime soon. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Holocaust Denial Is Part of a Malevolent Strategy - Reuel Marc GerechtandRay Takeyh
    The Islamic Republic of Iran held anotherHolocaust cartoon festivalthis month. Among Iran's ruling elite, Holocaust denial and the accompanying conspiracies about Jewish power all have strategic intent. Anti-Semitism is not only central to the regime's identity; it's also inextricably tied to its propaganda aimed at the larger Muslim world, especially Arabs.
        The revolution's father, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, saw the Jews as surrogates of Western imperialism. His hatred toward Israel exceeded his disdain for America. It was America's conduct, not its existence, which the mullahs contested. Israel, on the other hand, was for Khomeini an unlawful entity, irrespective of its actual policies and behavior. Israel must be wiped off the map. In foreign affairs, this antagonism to Israel enforces the clerical regime's claims to regional leadership. Iran's anti-Semitic assault has broad popular appeal among Sunni Muslims.
        The regime's anti-Semitism will grow worse as the rewards of the nuclear deal increase. The mullahs no longer have to worry how the regime's hatred of Jews plays in the West. Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
  • The Arab Lobbies in Washington - Kevin Sullivan interviews Julian Pecquet
    Saudi Arabia is running a $9 million a year campaign to kill legislation allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom. The Saudis are also working hard to preempt the inevitable negative media coverage from the pending release of a 2002 preliminary inquiry into the attacks.
        Since late 2013, Cairo has been working with the Glover Park Group to shake off the pariah status that followed President Mohammed Morsi's overthrow, and lift all remaining restrictions on military and economic aid.
        The Lebanese want to protect their banking industry from new sanctions on Hizbullah. The UAE has kept a close watch on the Export-Import Bank's reauthorization, which it has relied on extensively to help build its airline industry.
        Morocco spends $3 million a year on more than a half-dozen lobbying and PR firms to project a friendly image. All of that lobbying is directed at obtaining U.S. approval - or at least acquiescence - for its exploitation of the disputed Western Sahara, a campaign that has been largely successful. Julian Pecquet is a congressional correspondent for Al-Monitor. (RealClearWorld)

President Rivlin: "Israel Is Proud to Be Jordan's Partner and to Stand at Jordan's Side" (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

  • President Reuven Rivlin on May 26 addressed a reception hosted in Tel Aviv by Jordanian Ambassador Walid Obeidat to mark Jordan's Independence Day. The President began by speaking in Arabic, and extended his warm wishes "to all the citizens of Jordan, on the occasion of the 70th Independence Day of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. I wish Jordan prosperity. Friends, Jordan is a great and important state in our region."
  • The President continued in English, "All over the Middle East, we face difficult challenges....The Hashemite Kingdom is facing all these challenges with honor, with dignity, and with great national and human solidarity."
  • Ambassador Obeidat quoted King Abdullah who said that "Jordan was founded on the religious legitimacy of the Hashemites, who advocate Islam in a way that presents to the world the true image of this religion as a faith of tolerance, which rejects all forms of religious extremism and violence."
    See also The Long History of Jewish-Israeli Ties with Jordan - Lenny Ben-David (Israel Daily Picture)
  • History books provide glimpses of nearly a century of ties between Hashemite rulers and Jewish leaders. Dr. Chaim Weizman of the Zionist Organization signed an agreement of understanding with Emir Faisal at a meeting in January 1919; T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) was the interpreter.
  • One photograph shows Emir Abdullah's personal bodyguards in 1922 - armed Jewish Yemenite brothers from the Habani tribe. Notice their traditional Jewish side curls (peyot).
  • Another photograph shows Emir Abdullah starting the turbines at the Naharayim hydro-electric power plant in 1932, where the Yarmouk River flows into the Jordan River. The Jewish project was headed by Pinhas Ruttenberg, founder of the Palestine Electric Company. The joint project required security cooperation between the two sides to protect the plant and power lines.

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