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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
August 3, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Turks Believe U.S. Was Behind Failed Coup - Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu (New York Times)
    Turks across all segments of society - Islamists, secular people, liberals, nationalists - seem to have come together in the belief that the U.S. supported the recent failed coup, either directly or simply because the man widely suspected to be the leader of the conspiracy, the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, lives in self-exile in the U.S.
    "Whenever something shocking and horrific happens in Turkey, the reflex is conspiracy," said Akin Unver, an assistant professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.

U.S. Police Chiefs Visit Israel to Learn Counter-Terrorism Techniques - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
    A dozen U.S. police chiefs, including from Orlando and San Bernardino who recently witnessed terrorist attacks in their cities, are visiting Israel as part of an ADL delegation to learn advanced training techniques from the Israel Police.

Retired NBA Star Joins Israeli Basketball Team - Roi Cohen (Israel Hayom)
    Six-time NBA All-Star Amare Stoudemire, 33, on Monday signed a two-year contract to play for Israeli team Hapoel Jerusalem after he announced his retirement from the NBA last month.
    Hapoel Jerusalem won the 2014-15 Israeli Basketball League title and will compete in the 2016-17 EuroCup tournament.

IDF Artillery Undergoes Rapid Changes - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    A new IDF artillery brigade is equipped with GPS-guided Spear (Romach) rockets and radars that can detect the source of enemy rocket fire and enable rapid return fire, and it has its own field intelligence unit.
    The new concept began when the IDF formed the Golan Division in 2014 to deal with the myriad of potential enemies that were active beyond the Syrian border.
    The IDF set up a new Fire Assistance Center in the division to fast-track strikes on enemies. As part of the changes, the Artillery Corps was given the ability to gather its own intelligence on the battlefield. The end result is a shortening of the sensor-to-shooter cycle.

Israeli Tech Enables Pilots to See Through Fog (Times of Israel)
    Civilian airline pilots flying through fog or smoke will soon be able to benefit from an optical system designed by Israeli defense industry leader Elbit Systems, Israel Channel 2 reported.
    The new system uses special cameras to analyze various wavelengths of light, then chooses and combines them with "synthetic vision" based on databases of terrain and infrastructure, into an image that will give the pilot visibility of the way ahead.
    The image is projected to the pilot on a wearable display that allows them to fly the plane as if they were seeing through the inclement weather.
    The system was originally developed for military purposes, but is now being converted for civilian use.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Assad Regime Drops Chemical Weapons on Syrian Town "in Revenge for Shot Down Russian Helicopter" - Raf Sanchez
    Dozens of civilians - mainly women and children - were rushed to a makeshift hospital in the Syrian town of Saraqib with their lungs burning from chlorine gas. The chemical weapon was dropped onto the town by the Assad regime late Monday in an apparent act of revenge after nearby rebels shot down a Russian transport helicopter, killing five Russian troops. 33 people were treated for chlorine inhalation and all survived. (Telegraph-UK)
  • European Prisons Fueling Spread of Islamic Radicalism - Noemie Bisserbe
    Convicted terrorists sit atop the social pecking order in Europe's prison systems. Many use jail time to forge ties with Muslim petty criminals, grooming them for jihad missions. With the return over the past year of an unprecedented number of jihadists from Islamic State territory, authorities are throwing many of them in jail, but that is injecting battle-hardened radicals into overcrowded prisons. Some 50-60% of the 67,000 inmates in the French prison system are Muslims, who represent just 7.5% of the general population.
        Prison officials face a difficult choice between absorbing hardened militants into the general prison population, where they might radicalize others, or concentrating them in special wards where they may be better able to hatch plots. Adel Kermiche, who killed a Roman Catholic priest in a French church last week, wrote that he met his "spiritual guide" in prison, who "gave him ideas."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Syrian Opposition TV Host Takes Palestinian Activist to Task over "the World's Number One Cause"
    During a July 24 interview on the Syrian opposition Orient News TV channel, host Dima Wannous asked Muhammad Masharqa, spokesman for the Free Palestinian-Syrian Assembly, why the Palestinian cause remained "the world's number one cause," even though "the calamities of the other Arab nations over the years were no less tragic than the tragedy of the Palestinian people."
        "In 1948...750,000 Palestinians were displaced, only 150,000 of whom were expelled from Palestine. The others remained in their historical homeland, although in different places. If you take the total figure of 750,000, this is equal to the number of people who fled Syria and Iraq in the past three months."
        "Saddam Hussein was idolized by the [Palestinian] masses for firing 36 or 39 Scud missiles at Tel Aviv, while he was perpetrating crimes on a daily basis against his own people. The Palestinians greatly appreciated Saddam Hussein for this deed. If we want to talk about the Palestinians' approach to the liberation of the peoples, is it conceivable for them to support a murderer, an arch-killer, a dictator...just because he fired missiles at Tel Aviv? What about the [Iraqi] people?"  (MEMRI-TV)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Plotted Attack on Jerusalem Light Rail with Bomb Covered in Poisoned Nails - Judah Ari Gross
    On July 15, Ali Abu Hassan, 21, an engineering student at Hebron University, entered Jerusalem armed with three pipe bombs he had linked together into one large explosive and had covered with nails and screws dipped in rat poison, with the intention of carrying out an attack, Israel Police revealed Tuesday. He originally intended to attack a restaurant on Jaffa Road. However, when he noticed the large number of passengers boarding the light rail that runs through downtown, Hassan changed his target.
        When he attempted to board the train, he was stopped after he raised the suspicions of a security guard. When the guard asked to examine the contents of Hassan's bag, he noticed the bomb and called the police. Hassan intended the attack as a form of "revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Attacks Decline - Yossi Melman
    The number of terrorist attacks in Israel in July - six - was one of the lowest in 10 months, a drastic fall from the 70 last October. A senior IDF officer said Tuesday that tactics used by Israel's security services include a combination of precise intelligence from the Israeli Security Agency with daily and nightly IDF operations. The operations allow the majority of Palestinians, including 100,000 holders of Israeli work permits, to continue with their day-to-day routines.
        The U.S. military is interested in the strategy used by the IDF, which has been involved for nearly a decade in consistent, systematic, clandestine operations against terrorist efforts to smuggle weapons from Iran, Sudan, and Libya to Hizbullah in Lebanon and terrorist groups in Gaza. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is visiting the U.S. this week as a guest of Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Regional Implications of the Failed Coup in Turkey - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    In the wake of the failed coup in Turkey, the effective absence of Turkey from the battlefield is keenly felt - as is the decision by Erdogan to disable all operations from Incirlik AFB. Tensions between Turkey and the U.S. have been rising for a while, as the Obama administration came reluctantly to the conclusion that the Kurdish forces in northern Syria (and their brethren in Iraq) are the most committed fighting force in the war on the ISIS "Caliphate." Moreover, Erdogan's persistent demand that Fethullah Gulen be extradited - a demand with which the U.S. is unlikely to comply - is adding fuel to the fire.
        Meanwhile, relations between Turkey and the Sunni Arab "forces of stability" in the region, mainly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are fast going from bad to worse. The Egyptians and the Saudis could hardly contain their glee when news of the coup first emerged; or their disappointment when Erdogan prevailed. The writer, former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel's National Security Council, served for over 20 years in IDF Military Intelligence. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Enduring Myths about U.S. Middle East Policy - Aaron David Miller
    One enduring and pernicious myth about the Middle East is that there are comprehensive solutions to the region's problems. No there aren't. We are dealing with problems that require careful and extended management because there are no quick or easy resolutions. Even the Obama administration's signal but highly flawed achievement - the Iranian nuclear agreement - is an arms control accord limited in time and scope with no guarantees or assurances that Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations have been laid to rest.
        Another myth is that America has the answers. No we don't. The Middle East is a broken, angry and dysfunctional region where an absence of leadership, effective institutions, coherent governance, and presence of sectarian, regional, and religious rivalries have combined to guarantee continued instability.
        Should Israeli-Palestinian peace be a top priority for the next administration? No it shouldn't. Not only is the conflict impossible to resolve right now, the issue is not the most pressing priority for the U.S. in the region. Nor are the Arab states - now far more preoccupied with the challenge from Iran and the Sunnis jihadis - all that focused on the Palestinian issue. The writer, vice president for New Initiatives at the Wilson Center, is a former advisor to U.S. secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations (1978-2003). (Newsweek-Europe)

The Fraying Palestinian Political Entity in the West Bank - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • The Palestinian Authority is failing to control extensive parts of the West Bank. Some districts are developing in different directions, thereby accelerating the process of the PA's disintegration.
  • In Hebron, the large clans of Mount Hebron have linked up with each other, reestablished the Tribal Council of Mount Hebron, and sent a delegation to Amman to express loyalty to the king of Jordan.
  • Nablus has gone into a tailspin of total anarchy, under the rule of gangs, with exchanges of gunfire in the heart of the city and attempts at political assassinations. Local Fatah strongman Ghassan Shak'a, who resigned as head of the Nablus municipality in August 2015, announced that he will run in the next municipal elections with his own list of candidates against the Fatah slate. On June 1, 2016, unknown persons in Nablus fired at his house. On July 24, bullets struck the home of Muhammad Jihad Dwekat just days after he announced his intention to run for Nablus mayor as an independent non-Fatah candidate.
  • In Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, a dense network of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (PNGOs) that relies on European aid is leading a growing opposition to the PA. Europe believes that the successor to Mahmoud Abbas will emerge from this network - from the local Palestinians that the Oslo agreements disinherited when the PLO leadership in Tunis was brought in to rule. However, the PLO is not prepared to agree to any power sharing with the PNGOs. It wants to take measures against them, but is encountering problems with Europe.
  • The PA's loss of control in the West Bank raises questions about its ability to run a state. The fragmented West Bank will be a weaker entity than the weak states that collapsed in the Arab Spring. When the Palestinian entity collapses, the vacuum will be filled by the negative forces that have become the nightmare of the world.

    The writer is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center.

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