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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
April 12, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

CEO of Iranian Airline to Buy Boeing Jets Is Senior Member of IRGC - Emanuele Ottolenghi and Saeed Ghasseminejad (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    Boeing announced last week it would sell 30 B737 Max aircraft to Aseman Airlines - a government-owned carrier that is Iran's third-largest - in a $3 billion deal.
    Yet Aseman's CEO, Hossein Alaei, is a senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which remains under U.S. sanctions.

Pentagon: U.S. Strike Disabled 20 Percent of Syrian Warplanes - Jim Michaels (USA Today)
    The Pentagon said Monday that last week's U.S. missile strike on an air base in Syria destroyed or damaged 20 Syrian warplanes - 20% of that country's operational military aircraft - and blew up much of the base's fuel supply.

ISIS Massacred 140 Civilians Escaping Mosul - Chad Garland (Stars and Stripes)
    Islamic State militants last week massacred 140 civilians trying to flee west Mosul and hanged some of their bodies from utility poles, Iraqi officials said Friday.
    In addition, U.S. Brig.-Gen. John B. Richardson IV said on Monday that Iraqi troops recently found the bodies of nine beheaded Iraqis at a traffic circle with a sign threatening more executions of anyone caught fleeing the caliphate.

Fatal Dissent: When a Hizbullah Commander Argued with Iran - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Mustafa Badreddine, the head of Hizbullah's military wing and the successor and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, was killed last May in a mysterious explosion near Damascus International Airport.
    Last month, Al Arabiya claimed that Hizbullah leader Nasrallah and Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, were behind the assassination.
    Badreddine was known to have strongly opposed the fact that Hizbullah had become Iran's cannon fodder in Syria.
    He would not allow his men to fight on the battlefield without Iran's active cooperation in the battles.

Palestinian Factions Launch Offensive Against Extremist Group in Lebanon Camp (Daily Star-Lebanon-Albawaba-Jordan)
    Fatah on Saturday launched a wide-scale attack on the Tiri neighborhood in south Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh camp, firing 40 mortar rounds at the stronghold of extremist Bilal Badr.
    Gen. Sobhi Abu Arab described Badr and his Islamist group as "assassins, who are linked to foreign agendas."

Under Cover of Darkness on Israel's Borders - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF Combat Intelligence Corps soldiers stationed along Israel's borders combine infantry combat capabilities with advanced intelligence-gathering skills.
    In addition, the Bedouin troops who patrol Israel's borders are highly respected for their tracking skills.
    Maj. Tamir Sawad said that because he knows every inch of the land, he was able to spot two IEDs that had been placed on the Gaza border fence last month.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House: Syria May Have Additional Chemical Agents
    The White House released a report on Tuesday that details U.S. intelligence on the chemical weapons attack in Syria. A senior administration official told a press briefing that the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun on April 4 came from SU-22 fixed-wing aircraft out of Shayrat airfield, which is regime-controlled. "We have information that suggests that personnel historically associated with the chemical weapons program were at Shayrat airfield in late March preparing for this attack. On the dates surrounding the attack, and the day of the attack, they were again present at that airfield....We do have physiological samples from a number of victims that confirm sarin exposure."
        "We do not assess...that ISIS or other terrorists in the area have sarin. So while ISIS is using sulfur this case this is not terrorist...use of sarin. But we do know that the Syrian regime has sarin, that it used it in the 2013 attack....We take very seriously the possibility that Syria may have additional agents elsewhere....There are more than 200 allegations of regime chemical use since 2013."  (White House)
        See also Text: White House Report on Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack (New York Times)
        See also White House Warns Syrian Use of Barrel Bombs Could Trigger a Response - Ben Kesling and Carol E. Lee
    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the use of barrel bombs by the Assad regime in Syria, in addition to chemical weapons, could trigger a U.S. response. (Wall Street Journal)
  • White House Press Secretary Apologizes for "Inappropriate, Insensitive" Holocaust Comment - Jordan Fabian
    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer apologized on Tuesday for saying that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II, while trying to shame Syrian leader Bashar Assad for carrying out a gas attack. "Frankly, I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which frankly there is no comparison," Spicer told CNN. "For that I apologize, it was a mistake to do that."
        While Hitler is believed not to have used chemical weapons on the battlefield, the Nazis used Zyklon B and other types of chemical poison to kill Jews in gas chambers in concentration camps. (The Hill)
  • Iran's Ahmadinejad to Run for President in May Election - Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell
    Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday unexpectedly filed to run in the country's May 19 presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the supreme leader to stay out of the race. Ahmadinejad previously served from 2005 to 2013. Under Iranian law, he became eligible to run again after four years out of office. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Defense Minister: Assassination of Top Hamas Militant Was an Inside Job
    The assassination of top Hamas militant Mazen Fuqha in March was an inside job, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Yediot Ahronot in an interview published Monday. "We can say with certainty that it was an internal killing," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Sinai Rocket Strikes Israel - Gili Cohen
    A rocket fired from Sinai on Monday hit a greenhouse in an Israeli community near the Egypt and Gaza borders. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Condemns Le Pen's Disclaimer of France's Role in the Holocaust - Tovah Lazaroff
    The Israel Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned a statement by French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who said that France was not responsible for deporting its Jews during the Holocaust, saying, "This declaration is contrary to historical truth." The French government has previously apologized for the roundup and deportation of 13,152 Jews from the Vel d'Hiv stadium in Paris by French authorities in 1942 at the behest of the Nazis. In 1995, then-President Jacques Chirac said France has a role in and responsibility for the deportations, which were carried out by French police officers. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Military Strikes on Syria: Historical Lessons and Implications - Michael Eisenstadt
    Experience indicates that Assad will likely continue defying the international community and challenging the chemical weapons redline, and that additional strikes may be necessary to deter him from doing so. The U.S. should keep in mind that its best hope for an exit strategy that advances its interests in Syria is by fostering the creation of effective non-Salafist rebel forces that can draw Sunnis away from the extremists and apply sustained military pressure on the Assad regime.
        Only a military balance that produces a costly stalemate for the regime will generate the pressures needed to achieve a diplomatic solution to the war. It may be too late for such an effort to succeed, but that should not stop the U.S. from trying. The writer is director of the Military and Security Studies Program at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Egyptian Military Needs to Update Its Strategy Against Jihadis - Eric Trager
    The Egyptian military began a major operation against jihadis in northern Sinai in September 2013. A steady stream of attacks suggests that the operation is failing. Some 2,000 Egyptian soldiers have been killed in Sinai since the operation began - a shocking figure, considering that estimates of ISIS membership in Sinai are 1,000-1,500.
        While the Egyptian military effectively decapitated ISIS' Sinai leadership in the summer of 2016, new leadership has emerged that appears to be more intimately connected to ISIS' central leadership based in Raqqa, Syria. As a result, ISIS is increasingly targeting Egyptian Christians.
        Egypt's brass continues to believe that it can use heavy force to "contain" the jihadis, while eschewing more targeted counterinsurgency techniques. So rather than mobilizing Sinai's civilian population to identify and fight the terrorists, the Egyptian military's broad-based repression has alienated core Sinai constituencies, including some prominent Bedouin families, which have refused to cooperate with security forces until their relatives are released from prison. The writer is a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Cipher Brief)
  • Airstrike in Syria: Restoring U.S. Leadership and Deterrence - Emily B. Landau
    In an almost immediate response to Assad against using sarin gas as a weapon against his own population, the U.S. strike on a Syrian airbase seems to have been carried out in the context of the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Assad secretly and illicitly kept a portion of his chemical weapons arsenal and blatantly broke a clearly set international norm against the possession and use of chemical weapons. Aside from Russia and Iran, the U.S. strike was widely accepted in the international community. The writer is director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies. (Times of Israel)

New African Perspectives on Israel and the Palestinians (Africans for Peace)

  • Zenobia Ravji: As a Kenyan, I saw how the voices of Africans were exploited by the widespread and false comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa. The unfortunate circumstances and struggles of the Palestinian people are largely perpetuated by their own leaders, whose political strategy determines that the worse things are for Palestinians on the ground, the more convincing their case against Israel. These are the same leaders who compare the Palestinian people's situation to apartheid South Africa, robbing South Africans of their history and cheapening it, in order to gain sympathy and financing from the international community.
  • Lesiba Bapela: As a social justice activist from South Africa, I was part of a group that went to Israel in January 2016. We saw that in the West Bank, the Palestinians were more hardline. They don't believe in a two-state coexistence. They want to govern themselves according to Islamic law, and they don't believe in Israelis having their own territories. However, on the Israeli side, I heard talk of cooperation. The Israelis have been inviting the Palestinians to create peaceful coexistence. But the Palestinian Authority has this all-or-nothing mentality and doesn't truly believe in a two-state solution. There is nothing in this conflict that I can associate with apartheid. This is a religious conflict.
  • Nkululeko Nkosi: The comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa has been around for more than 50 years. Its originators were not black South Africans or even Palestinians, but the Soviet Union. But apartheid was about race, not religion or nationality. Unlike black people in apartheid South Africa, Arabs in Israel are entitled to vote in national elections, elect their own representatives, and have their interests represented in political deliberations. In 2015, the predominantly Arab party, the Joint List, won 15 parliamentary seats. This party is one of the harshest critics of the Israeli government. The point here is that Israeli policy and law allow dissent and opposition without instilling fear of banishment or imprisonment.
  • Tshediso Mangope: As a black South African and member of the ANC, I reject both the analysis that Israel practices apartheid and the demand that Israel should be dismantled and replaced with a single state of Palestine. After actually visiting Israel, my views on BDS have changed drastically. I am no longer involved in the BDS movement and don't believe it to be a legitimate cause. The insistence of the Arab world on denying Jewish people, the indigenous people of Israel, the right to sovereign existence is a main reason this conflict has lasted for so long. There is no self-respecting, sober intellectual who will argue that returning to your ancestral homeland from whence you were displaced makes you a settler.
  • Klaas Mokgomole: In 2013, I was one of the BDS protestors who disrupted a piano recital which featured an Israeli pianist at the University of Witwatersrand. But I came to understand that the analogy of apartheid in Israel was an abuse of the memory of apartheid. South Africans involved in BDS need to be given the opportunity to understand that this is a conflict in which both sides have legitimate rights. As a former BDS activist, I encourage those involved in BDS to not blindly believe everything the movement says - because if you accept their propaganda uncritically, you are not contributing to peace, but to further needless bloodshed.

Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Chol Hamoed Pesach.
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