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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
September 7, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: ISIS Planning Poison Attacks on Shopping Malls - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    ISIS is now campaigning and providing instructions to its supporters to carry out terrorist attacks with poisons in crowded malls, International Institute for Counter Terrorism Deputy Director Eitan Azani said Wednesday.
    ISIS is upping its push on social media for followers "to carry out jihad on enemy land."

French Police Discover Bomb Factory in Paris - Rory Mulholland (The Local-France)
    Three men have been arrested after police found components that can be used to make explosives in an apartment in the Paris suburb of Villejuif.
    France Info radio said that police found a "laboratory" that contained sulfuric acid, acetone, and oxygenated water - ingredients that can be used to make explosives such as TATP, favored by jihadists - as well as electric components, batteries and basins.

The Mossad File on Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele - Ronen Bergman (New York Times)
    For decades, Israel's espionage agency, the Mossad, kept a file on Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor responsible for selecting which new inmates at Auschwitz would die immediately in the gas chambers and which would be put to work first or subjected to his horrible "medical" experiments.
    Documents and interviews reveal that for most of the time that Mengele was in hiding, the Mossad wasn't looking for him, or placed finding him far down its to-do list.

Israel Helping to End Food Shortages in Kenya - John Muchangi (The Star-Kenya)
    The southern Arava region in Israel is hot and dry and virtually without rain. Nothing can grow there unless it is made to.
    Some 102 Kenyans have been beneficiaries of a 12-month internship program at the Arava International Center for Agriculture and Training to gain advanced knowledge in agriculture and food production.
    The center was established in 1994 to expose students from developing countries to the sophisticated agricultural technologies available in Israel.
    The Arava region has roughly 500 farming families who produce 60% of Israel's fresh vegetable exports and 10% of its cut flower exports, despite an average yearly rainfall of only one inch.
    GreenArava is an Israeli company currently managing the Galana irrigation scheme in Kenya, where farming largely relies on erratic rains and three million people require food relief.
    Former Israeli Ambassador Yahel Vilan says the Galana project "will be a game changer. In five years there won't be a food shortage."

Foreign Investment in Israel Up 7 Percent - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    Investments in Israel by foreign companies totaled $12.6 billion in 2016, 7% more than in 2015, according to the Ministry of Economy and Industry.
    Some 320 multinational companies operate in Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Report Blames Syrian Regime for April Chemical Attack - Nick Cumming-Bruce
    A UN Commission of Inquiry said Wednesday that Sukhoi 22 aircraft operated by the Syrian Air Force carried out the attack on the Syrian village of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 that killed at least 83 people, injured close to 300 others, and prompted President Trump to order cruise missile strikes on the airfield where the planes were based. The panel said at least 20 chemical weapons attacks were carried out from March 2013 to March 2017 by government forces, though the number of reported chemical attacks is vastly higher.
        Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, noted that the UN report "comes just as the international community is loosening or removing altogether its opposition to Assad's continued rule."  (New York Times)
  • Will Israel Soon Face an Iranian Protectorate in Syria? - Ben Caspit
    Middle East developments over the past few years have affected Israel's conception of national security. For the first time in its history, Israel was not surrounded by conventional armies capable of threatening it. The IDF adapted itself more to guerilla warfare and fighting against widely dispersed networks of terror organizations, establishing commando units and upgrading infantry units.
        However, a formerly high-placed source in Israel's security system told Al-Monitor last week, "Syria is returning, that is clear now....In the near future, Assad will be declared the final, unequivocal winner of this war. Following that, the path to Syria's rebuilding and reconstruction will be short."
        "It is safe to assume that the Iranians will invest a fortune in rebuilding the Syrian army and we will return to dealing with [Syria's] Division 4 or Corps 5 or the various presidential forces we got to know in the decades preceding this war." When the fighting ends, a new Syria will emerge - one much more dangerous than its predecessor.
        "This time," an Israeli security source said, "it will be a Syria that is connected to Iraq, that is connected to Iran, which are both connected to Hizbullah....It may soon be revealed that Syria has become a protectorate of Iran. It may become just another proxy with the goal of spilling as much Israeli blood as possible."
        Yes, developments on the Syrian front do worry Israel greatly, but they are not expected to change the basic components of Israeli deterrence. Israel will continue to emphasize that in the next confrontation in the north, it will destroy Lebanon, as the Lebanese state and Hizbullah are one and the same. The new Syria will find itself in a similar situation. (Al-Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Targets Syrian Scientific Research Center - Roi Kais and Yoav Zitun
    The Syrian army confirmed media reports claiming Israeli planes carried out a strike on Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) near the city of Hama, which is responsible for research and development of nuclear, biological, chemical and missile technology and weapons.
        Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, said, "The reported attack overnight is unusual. This is a military-scientific Syrian site in which they produce, among other things, precision missiles.... The factory that was attacked also manufactures chemical weapons and explosives barrels that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians. If it was an Israeli attack, it is finally an Israeli moral statement about the massacre in Syria."
        According to military analyst Ron Ben Yishai, the center is a potential site for a planned Iranian precision missile factory to beef up Hizbullah's arsenal. Israel recently warned that it would not tolerate the establishment of such a facility on Syrian soil. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Enforcing Its "Red Lines" with Syria Strike - Stuart Winer
    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin said, "The attack sent three important messages. Israel won't allow for empowerment and production of strategic arms; Israel intends to enforce its red lines, despite the fact that the great powers are ignoring them; and the presence of Russian air defense does not prevent airstrikes attributed to Israel."
        Syrian opposition sources quoted by Israel Radio said the airstrike destroyed weapons stores including chemical-tipped missiles that were to be delivered to Hizbullah. (Times of Israel)
        See also Hizbullah May Have Been Planning to Take Over Syrian Chemical Weapons Facility - Anna Ahronheim
    According to former Israeli national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, there's a strong probability that the Syrian military research center struck by Israeli planes on Thursday was targeted because of concerns that Hizbullah had asked Damascus to hand over the facility to the terror group. While Israel follows a policy of destroying advanced weapon systems destined for Hizbullah, this time Israel may have actually prevented them from being produced in the first place. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Questions about Munich's New Memorial to Slain Israeli Olympic Athletes - Liel Leibovitz
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier unveiled a memorial in Munich on Wednesday commemorating the 11 Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the city's Olympic village 45 years ago. Nowhere on the new memorial does it say that the Germans were tipped off about the attack three weeks before it happened.
        Nowhere is it recorded that, as Der Spiegel uncovered five years ago, German officials met with Black September's Abu Youssef, the attack's mastermind, just months after the massacre and agreed to upgrade the group's status from terrorist organization to resistance group. Nowhere does it indicate that, as we've learned from the testimony of the head of the Mossad at the time of the attack, Tzvi Zamir, the German authorities made no effort whatsoever to save not only the lives of the Israelis but of their own police officers.
        This indicates a systemic pattern of neglect before, during, and after the attacks, putting innocents at risk and appeasing the perpetrators. If the Germans want to pay meaningful tributes to those Jews slaughtered under the watchful eye of their government, let them begin by acknowledging these failures, and taking concrete steps to assure they never happen again. (Tablet)
  • Iran Has Studied North Korea's Playbook - Anthony Ruggiero
    North Korea authored the playbook now being used by Iran to fleece the U.S. and our allies. And if the U.S. fails to neutralize the North Korean threat, Iran will notice how the U.S. buckles in the face of nuclear pressure.
        Iran has already learned a number of damaging lessons from North Korea. First, cheating on nuclear deals is permitted. President Bill Clinton announced the 1994 Agreed Framework as a deal that would "freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program," but Pyongyang violated the agreement when it started a covert uranium enrichment program. Washington then negotiated the 2005 Joint Statement, but the Kim regime built a nuclear reactor in Syria during the negotiations, and the Bush administration removed North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list in 2008. The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was a nonproliferation adviser to the U.S. government. (Weekly Standard)

How America Can Thwart Iranian Expansionism - Michael Doran and Peter Rough (Mosaic)

  • Today, the center of gravity of Tehran's struggle for regional mastery is Syria. The most urgent priority of the administration, therefore, should be thwarting Iran's ambitions to solidify its position in that country.
  • The U.S. should define its strategic goal as building a stable order in the region - one that will simultaneously prevent the revival of Islamic State and contain Iran.
  • The U.S. must signal clearly that it will not leave Syrian territory until it is satisfied not just that IS is defeated but that the post-conflict Syrian government will present no threat to peace and security, especially by offering its territory as a base for Iranian expansionism. It must also signal its determination to contest Iranian influence everywhere. Governments must know with certainty that their warm relations with Iran will generate cold relations with the U.S.
  • President Trump should make abundantly clear that the Iran deal - which grants that country an unfettered nuclear capacity in a relatively brief period of time - is manifestly not in the national-security interests of the U.S. and its allies.
  • He should work with Congress to publicize Iran's support for terrorism and its development of ballistic missiles, and to punish these and other malign behaviors by imposing significant new economic sanctions.
  • The U.S. should also support, aggressively, the Israeli demand to prevent the Iranians and Hizbullah from expanding their presence in southern Syria, along the Israeli and Jordanian borders, and entrenching themselves in Syria more broadly, including through the construction of missile bases and a naval port.

    Michael Doran is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the U.S. National Security Council. Peter Rough is a fellow at the Hudson Institute.

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