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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
December 20, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Replaces Old IR1 Centrifuges with Advanced IR8 Centrifuges (Tasnim-Iran)
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that Iran's first-generation IR1 centrifuges have been replaced by advanced IR8 centrifuges.
    He added that Iran's program to develop nuclear propulsion systems will begin soon and called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for technical assistance.

Gunmen in Jordan Had Stockpile of Weapons - Rana F. Sweis (New York Times)
    Gunmen involved in the terrorist attack in Karak, Jordan, on Sunday had a large cache of weapons, explosives and suicide vests in the apartment where they had been living, the Jordanian interior minister said Monday.
    The four gunmen killed 10 people and injured 34 on Sunday before being killed.

How ISIS Returned to Palmyra - Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan (Daily Beast)
    A mere 50 to 200 ISIS fighters took over Palmyra from Assad's forces.
    ISIS' swift return was facilitated through bribery. The jihadists evidently paid off a corrupt leader of the National Defense Forces, an Iranian-built proxy militia, who looked the other way as the ISIS attack began.
    Meanwhile, all of Russia's military forces had withdrawn from the Syrian city a few days earlier.

Nazareth Municipality Has School Children Honor Murderer of 3 Israelis - Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Last week, the municipality of Nazareth, a predominantly Arab town in Israel, held an event that glorified terrorist murderer Baha Alyan, who together with an accomplice murdered 3 Israelis on a bus in Jerusalem last year.
    At the event, Saeb Masawrah, the coordinator from the Inma'a Association for Democracy and Capacity Building, stated that the chain of students was a "completion of the message of Martyr Baha Alyan."
    On Oct. 13, 2015, Alyan and Bilal Ghanem boarded a bus in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood with a gun and a knife and attacked passengers, killing Israelis Haviv Haim (78), Alon Govberg (51), Richard Lakin (76), and wounding 3 other Israelis.

Number of Women Jihadis Is Growing - Audrey Alexander (Lawfare)
    Since 2011, terrorism-related activity perpetrated by jihadi women in the U.S. has increased.
    A recent report for the George Washington University Program on Extremism assessed the cases of 25 jihadi women in the U.S. from January 2011 to September 2016.
    See also Cruel Intentions: Female Jihadists in America - Audrey Alexander (George Washington University)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Berlin Terror Attack: Truck Plows into Crowd at Christmas Market, Killing 12 and Injuring 48 - Amie Gordon
    A Pakistani asylum seeker hijacked a 25-ton truck and plowed through crowds in Berlin's Breitscheidplatz Square, a main shopping area, killing 12 people and injuring 48. The truck's original Polish driver was found dead in the cab, apparently murdered. The masked hijacker was captured by Berlin police. (Daily Mail-UK)
  • Turkish Police Officer Kills Russian Ambassador in Ankara - David Filipov
    A Turkish police officer, screaming, "Don't forget Aleppo!" shot and killed the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, at an art gallery in Ankara on Monday. The gunman, Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, also shouted, "We are those who pledged jihad to Muhammad!" before being killed by police. (Washington Post)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Iran Directed Attack on Saudi Embassy - Saleh Hamid
    In an audio recording revealed by sources close to the opposition Green Movement inside Iran, Hassan Kurdmihan, an extremist Iranian cleric, can be heard in a series of calls as he directed members of the Basij and Revolutionary Guards to burn and destroy the Saudi embassy in Iran and seize all documents inside it, in an attack which took place earlier this year.
        Kurdmihan can be heard telling his followers: "The attack has been carried out upon a green light from the government and the regime. This is why security forces allowed raiding the embassy and did not act (against us)." Kurdmihan had earlier confessed to being the mastermind behind the attack. He had also spoken about the "collusion" of the Rouhani government, which he claimed did not prevent the attack on the embassy but rather facilitated it. (Al-Arabiya)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Raids Major Palestinian Gun Factory in West Bank
    IDF soldiers raided what the army described as one of the largest weapons factories ever found in the West Bank early Monday, in the basement of a residential building in Hebron. IDF forces confiscated 15 lathes for producing guns, dozens of Carl Gustav-style guns, parts of M-16 rifles and large quantities of ammunition. (Times of Israel)
  • With Plenty of Help from Hamas, Islamic State Deepens Its War Against Egypt - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas is still allowing the transfer of injured Islamic State fighters to Gaza, while ignoring the smuggling of weapons to Sinai destined for the Islamic State, according to Arab sources. Heavy fighting continues in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt between the Egyptian Army and Islamic State. Egypt knows that one of the main smuggling tunnels being used by Islamic State is operating under the protection of Hamas. Egypt knows at which hospital the injured are being treated in Khan Yunis.
        Hamas has allowed the transfer of a great deal of armaments to Sinai, in particular anti-tank missiles and improvised roadside bombs. Every week these roadside bombs inflict heavy casualties on the Egyptian Army. Explosives experts from Hamas have arrived in Sinai to assist with the assembly of the devices there.
        Despite all the setbacks and challenges, the Egyptian Army is racking up meaningful accomplishments in its war on Islamist terror in Sinai, and the security situation has improved substantially. The number of casualties is down compared to last year. (Times of Israel)
  • Resurgent Terror in Egypt - Yoni Ben-Menachem
    The suicide bombing at the Coptic church in central Cairo on Dec. 11, 2016, which killed 25 and wounded 50, and the terror attack a few days earlier on the road to the Giza pyramids that killed six police officers, reflect the Muslim Brotherhood's recovery from the assassination by Egyptian security forces a few months ago of Muhammad Kamal, who headed its military wing. It was seen as retribution for the Copts' support for Sisi's government and also as an effort to damage Christmas tourism in Egypt.
        While the Islamic State issued an official announcement that it was behind the bombing of the Coptic Church, Egyptian security officials believe the attack was a joint operation of the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood. The writer, a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center, served as director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
    U.S. Policy in Syria - Two Views

  • The Challenge for the U.S. in Syria - President Barack Obama
    President Obama told a news conference at the White House on Friday: "With respect to Syria, the challenge was that, short of putting large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground, uninvited, without any international law mandate, without sufficient support from Congress, at a time when we still had troops in Afghanistan and we still had troops in Iraq, and we had just gone through over a decade of war and spent trillions of dollars, and when the opposition on the ground was not cohesive enough to necessarily govern a country, and you had a military superpower in Russia prepared to do whatever it took to keep its client-state involved, and you had a regional military power in Iran that saw their own vital strategic interests at stake and were willing to send in as many of their people or proxies to support the regime - that in that circumstance, unless we were all in and willing to take over Syria, we were going to have problems, and that everything else was tempting because we wanted to do something and it sounded like the right thing to do, but it was going to be impossible to do this on the cheap."
        "A continued challenge with safe zones is if you're setting up those zones on Syrian territory, then that requires some force that is willing to maintain that territory in the absence of consent from the Syrian government and, now, the Russians or the Iranians."  (White House)
  • U.S. Policy and the Fall of Aleppo - Leon Wieseltier
    During the past eight years the values of rescue, assistance, protection, humanitarianism and democracy have been demoted in America's foreign policy and in many instances banished altogether. The Obama legacy in foreign policy is vacuum-creation.
        Between action and inaction, the administration chose inconsequential action. We backed moderate Syrian rebels, but not as seriously or as generously as the immoderate Syrian rebels were backed.
        I suspect that the president believes that the U.S. has no moral right to affect an outcome in another country. I suspect that he regards such decisive action as imperialism. What this means in practice is that we will not help people who deserve our help. In the spirit of respecting other societies, we will idly gaze at their destruction. How would disrespecting them be worse?
        As a direct or indirect consequence of our refusal to respond forcefully to the Syrian crisis, we have beheld genocide, chemical warfare, barrel bombs, the displacement of 11 million people, the destabilization of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the ascendancy of Iran in the region, the emergence of Russia as a global power, the diminishment of the American position in the world, the refugee crisis in Europe, and a significant new threat to the security of the U.S. It is amazing how much doing nothing can do. The writer is the Isaiah Berlin senior fellow in culture and policy at the Brookings Institution. (Washington Post)

Golan Heights: From Annexation to Recognition - Zvi Hauser (Ynet News)

  • Last Wednesday marked 35 years since the enactment of the Golan Heights Law, which essentially annexed the Golan to the State of Israel.
  • For the first time in nearly 50 years, an historic window of opportunity has been created to change the formula of the future arrangement in the Golan Heights from yesterday's formula, which focused on an Israeli withdrawal in exchange for an agreement with Syria, to tomorrow's formula, which should include an international agreement for long-lasting Israeli control of the Golan Heights as a core component of the region's stabilization.
  • Syria, if it even continues to exist as one state, will never be the same. The anachronistic international convention that the border between Syria and Israel should be along the shores of the Sea of Galilee is groundless, as is proved on a daily basis in light of the incomprehensible bloodshed which has been taking place in Iraq and Syria, reaching the Golan Heights.
  • Neither the Islamic State nor the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda or an Iran-Hizbullah-Assad foothold in the Sea of Galilee will allow the stabilization and recovery of the region. There is no other horizon in the Middle East apart from the Israeli horizon.
  • The Golan Heights constitutes less than 1% of the territory of what used to be Syria.
  • In 1975, President Gerald Ford gave a written presidential commitment to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, which included an American acknowledgement of the Israeli need to remain in the Golan Heights even at times of peace.

    The writer is a former Israeli Cabinet secretary (2009-2013).

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