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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
September 21, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Russian Aircraft Hit Syrian Aid Convoy, U.S. Officials Say - Denis Dyomkin and Angus McDowall (Reuters)
    Two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes were in the skies above an aid convoy attacked near Aleppo on Monday in which 20 civilians were killed and 18 trucks destroyed, two U.S. officials said Tuesday, citing U.S. intelligence.
    See also UN Was Warned of Airstrikes Before Aid Convoy Left - Maria Abi-Habib (Wall Street Journal)
    UN officials went ahead with an ill-fated aid delivery to a rebel-held town in northern Syria Monday despite warnings by their own staff and Western-backed rebels that the area wasn't safe, according to communications seen by the Wall Street Journal.

Israel Shoots Down Drone from Gaza - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israel Air Force fighter jet shot down a Hamas drone over the Gazan coastline on Tuesday.
    The IDF Spokesperson said the drone had been under full surveillance from the moment it took off and that "the IDF will not permit any violation of the air space."
    Hamas produces its own drones, including some that have rockets on their wings.
    "They are using knowledge, likely from Iran, to self-manufacture," said Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya.

Man Shot in Attempt to Attack Israeli Embassy in Ankara - Raoul Wootliff (Times of Israel)
    Security forces in Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday shot and injured a man attempting to carry out a terror attack on the Israeli embassy, the Israel Foreign Ministry said. No Israelis were injured in the incident.

India Conducts Successful Test of Israeli Barak 8 Missile - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The Indian government performed another successful test of the Israeli Barak 8 interceptor missile on Tuesday.

UK Pharmacy Minister: Israel Boycotts Put 100 Million Prescriptions at Risk (Jewish News-UK)
    Sir Eric Pickles, a former chair of the Conservative Party, asked Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health David Mowat about the cost to the government if "Israeli-owned and Israeli-based companies were banned from supplying generic medicines to the National Health Service."
    Mowat replied that over 100 million prescriptions for medicines are from companies based in Israel.
    "Banning these supplies would most likely cause significant shortages of some medicines important for patient health, and have a significant impact on competition and in all likelihood increase prices paid by the NHS."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • New York Bomber Motivated by Extremist Islamic Ideology - Marc Santora and Adam Goldman
    Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was charged in federal court on Tuesday with several crimes including use of weapons of mass destruction and bombing a place of public use. Rahami's father told the authorities two years ago that he feared his son was a terrorist, motivated by an extremist Islamic ideology that he recorded in a notebook he had with him when he was taken into custody on Monday.
        The journal contains screeds against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In one handwritten message, Rahami pleads with Allah that he not be caught before carrying out his planned attacks. Elsewhere in the notebook, he refers to pipe bombs and pressure cookers as well as to shooting police officers. Rahami took inspiration from "Brother Osama bin Laden" and praised Anwar al-Awlaki, once al-Qaeda's leading propagandist. Rahami had been meticulously planning his attack since at least June, acquiring the materials he used to construct his weapons often via eBay. (New York Times)
  • Obama to UN: Palestinians Should Recognize the Legitimacy of Israel; Israel Should Recognize It Cannot Permanently Occupy Palestinian Land
    President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday: In the Middle East "so much of the collapse in order has been fueled because leaders sought legitimacy not because of policies or programs but by resorting to persecuting political opposition, or demonizing other religious sects, by narrowing the public space to the mosque, where in too many places perversions of a great faith were tolerated."
        "Surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land."  (White House)
  • Obama, Netanyahu to Meet Wednesday in New York - Josh Lederman
    President Barack Obama will meet Wednesday in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "I will thank him for the great and important security assistance to the State of Israel over the coming decade," Netanyahu said shortly before heading to the U.S for the annual UN General Assembly. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Ambassador Slams UN Obsession with Israel - Danielle Ziri
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon slammed Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday for criticizing Israel during his opening address at the UN General Assembly. "Instead of focusing on Palestinian terror and incitement, and instead of compelling Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table, the Secretary General chose to criticize Israel once again. This is an obsession with Israel and it must end. At a time when Palestinian terror is on the rise in Israel, the Secretary General chose to criticize us and ignore the direct responsibility of Abbas and the Palestinian leadership who continue to incite towards terror."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egyptian President Sisi Praises Israeli Cooperation in War on Terror in Sinai - Yossi Melman
    Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi applauded the cooperation between Israel and Egypt in Sinai in a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York on Tuesday. According to foreign reports, the Israel Air Force is taking part in attacks against ISIS in Sinai and IDF Military Intelligence is assisting Egyptian forces to collect information about the terrorists there. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • International Community Must Focus on Palestinian Unity, Not Israel, to Kick-Start Peace - Jonathan Schanzer
    The local elections scheduled to be held in the West Bank and Gaza on Oct. 8 were suspended earlier this month, 11 years since the last elections held in both territories. As long as the West continues to ignore this political stagnation, the future prospects for a viable Palestinian state will only become more remote. Today, the West Bank and Gaza are two separate entities, with distinct governments, economies, bureaucracies, financial patrons and competing ideological visions, locked in a Machiavellian struggle for control.
        The Hamas government was first elected in 2006 as an alternative to Fatah corruption. But the leaders of Gaza run the territory like a mob syndicate and pilfer humanitarian aid. The Islamist group also continues to prepare for more conflict with Israel rather than dealing with the economic problems of the people it governs. The Hamas leadership structure is also just as sclerotic as that of the West Bank.
        Rather than addressing these failings, the international community continues to focus on getting the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. The Palestinians have two states, themselves. Whats needed first is a plan to tackle the Palestinian political stagnation. So long as Hamas remains in power in Gaza, the chances of a unified and politically recognized Palestinian government are effectively nil. The writer is vice-president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Newsweek)
        See also Next Month's Palestinian Local Elections Aren't Happening - Here's Why - Diana B. Greenwald (Washington Post)
  • The Bipartisan Israel Consensus Holds - Harry Zieve Cohen
    88 U.S. senators, including dozens of Democrats, signed a letter asking Obama to veto "one-sided" UN resolutions on Israel. Given all the speculation that the Democratic Party might be turning against Israel, no news is, in this case, news. Bernie Sanders did not sign the letter, but the Democrats' position still looks much as it has for the past several decades: Advocate two states, with the U.S. playing a key mediating role, and firmly defend Israel against international criticism.
        It's not just the usual old timers in the Democratic Party; "future of the party" senators like Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren are signatories too. The Republican Party, meanwhile, continues to be as pro-Israel as ever. This pro-Israel consensus exists for a very simple reason: it's popular. 54% of Americans say they support Israel more than they support the Palestinians - even in the Democratic Party, only 19% say the opposite. (American Interest)
  • Why Arab States Have Failed - Mohammed Ayoob
    Denigrating ISIS' capabilities in Syria and Iraq will not solve the problem of anarchy and violence in these countries. It is the failure of states to provide adequate security to their populations that has provided the space for groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS to flourish in these countries. When states fail to perform their primary task to provide security to their populations, individuals and groups look for alternative security providers.
        After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, a deliberate program aimed at destroying both military and civilian organs of the state, called de-Baathification, created a huge political vacuum into which extremist forces moved. Thus was created al-Qaeda in Iraq, which mutated into ISIS. Since the post-invasion Iraqi governments were mostly led by Shia sectarian entrepreneurs, most Sunnis completely lost faith in the state's capacity to provide them protection.
        Similar patterns became visible in Libya with the fall of the Qaddafi regime, and in Syria with the Assad regime's loss of control over much of the country. In both cases, as in Iraq, foreign intervention was responsible to a significant degree for state collapse. The writer is Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Policy and Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Michigan State University. (National Interest)

Iran Cannot Be a Partner in the Struggle Against ISIS - Interview with Dennis Ross (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Iran's behavior within the region continues to be aggressive. They believe they have a right to dominate the region, because they look down on the Arabs, think they have a superior culture, and see the U.S. as being their main impediment. Now we see unease among America's traditional friends in the region because the U.S. is perceived as being less willing to confront or counter Iranian aggressiveness in the region.
  • Iran cannot be a partner in the struggle against ISIS. In the aftermath of ISIS, we will need Sunni governance because there will be a "son of ISIS" if there is continuing exclusion of Sunnis, denial of rights, and a perception and reality of Shia militias ruling over Sunni areas.
  • That's why we need partnership with the Sunnis, not the Iranians. So long as we don't take the threat perception of Iran as seriously as many in the GCC take it, it's going to be very hard to attract Sunnis in the kind of role we'd like to see them play.
  • The Saudis see Iran as an existential threat. From a Saudi standpoint, they look at what Iran is doing in their Eastern Province, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and they see an effort at encirclement. The Saudis have uncovered caches of arms inside the Eastern Province. The same thing has happened in Bahrain.
  • President Obama suggested to an American journalist that Saudi Arabia should "share the neighborhood" with Iran. In the abstract, coexistence makes sense provided the one you're coexisting with is not a predator. Once Iran demonstrates to its neighbors it's not a threat, then it becomes possible to integrate the Iranians into a regional structure.
  • But look at Iranian behavior: Hizbullah has a stranglehold over Lebanon. In Iraq you have Shi'ite militias engaging in torture and looting that only deepens the sectarian divide. If there's going to be a different approach that treats Iran as a country within the region, then Iran has to show it's prepared to recognize the interests of others and not threaten them.

    Dennis Ross, a counselor at the Washington Institute, was a special assistant to President Obama from 2009 to 2011.

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