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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
September 28, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's New Ballistic Missile May Have North Korean ICBM Links - Farzin Nadimi (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    On Sep. 22, Iran displayed its new Khoramshahr missile with an announced range of 2,000 km.
    The Khoramshahr looks similar to the North Korean Hwasong-10/Musudan/BM-25 missile.
    See also What Parades in Pyongyang Ends Up in Tehran - Uzi Rubin (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    The Iranian and the North Korean BM-25 missiles are practically identical in terms of dimensions, rocket engines, and rocket fuels, and differ only in the geometry and weight of their warheads.
    The existence of this missile in Iran was the main reason the NATO alliance agreed to the deployment of an American defensive system in Eastern Europe against "the missile threat from the south" - a euphemism for the missile threat from Iran.
    If and when Iran develops a nuclear weapon, it will not be complicated to fit a nuclear warhead on the Khoramshahr and thereby threaten Berlin, Brussels, Paris, and Rome.
    The appearance of the Khoramshahr did not surprise Israel and the planners of Israel's missile-defense systems have taken this threat into account.
    The writer was founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program.

Poll: 60 Percent of Arab Israelis Have Positive View of Israel - Ben Lynfield (Jerusalem Post)
    60% of Arab citizens of Israel said they had a favorable view of the state, while 37% said their view was unfavorable, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Israel office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
    49% of Muslims view the state favorably and 48% unfavorably, while 61% of Christians view it favorably compared to 33% unfavorably. 94% of Druse view the state favorably compared to 6% unfavorably.
    When asked "Which term best describes you?" - 28% answered "Israeli Arab," 15% "Palestinian," 13% "Arab citizen of Israel," 11% "Israeli," 8% "Muslim," 4% "Palestinian in Israel," 3% "Palestinian citizen in Israel, 2% "Israeli Muslim," and 2% "Israeli Palestinian."
    63% of Arab citizens said Israel is a "positive" place to live, with 34% saying it is negative.

The Iraqi Militia Helping Iran Carve a Road to Damascus - Babak Dehghanpisheh (Reuters)
    The Shi'ite Muslim militia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, with 10,000 fighters, is one of the most important in Iraq. Though made up of Iraqis, it is loyal to Iran and is helping Tehran create a supply route through Iraq to Damascus.
    To open it up, Iranian-backed militias are pushing into southeast Syria near where U.S. forces are based. "If Iran can open this road they will have access through Iraq and Syria all the way to Hizbullah in Lebanon," said retired Lebanese general Elias Farhat.
    The group is already looking beyond the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. In March, it announced the formation of a "Golan" brigade to push Israel out of the Golan Heights.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli President Denounces Palestinian Interpol Membership
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday criticized Interpol's decision to admit the Palestinian Authority as a member. "This decision will harm Interpol's ability to fight international terror....This is not a decision based on professional need. It is absolutely a political decision," he told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a conference call.
        "It is very sad that the Palestinians have been able to politicize another professional body as part of their campaign to undermine peace talks and delegitimize Israel."  (AFP)
  • U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Schumer Declares Support for Kurdish Independence
    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement Wednesday, "The Kurds are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Middle East without a homeland and they have fought long and hard for one. Despite this, the Kurds continue to get a raw deal and are told to wait for tomorrow, which is why it's past due that the world, led by the United States, immediately back a political process to address the aspirations of the Kurds."  (RT-Russia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: We Will Never Uproot Jewish or Arab Communities - Tovah Lazaroff
    "There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the Land of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday at a national ceremony in Gush Etzion marking the 50th anniversary of the settlement movement. "It is not just a question of the connection to the homeland, of course that is correct, but first of all, it is not the way to make peace. We will not uproot Jews, and not Arabs." The fall of four Gush Etzion communities during the War of Independence and the subsequent return of Israelis to that region 19 years later has been the symbolic heart of the settlement movement.
        "Any territory that falls into the hands of radical Islam becomes a base of destruction, of violence and of death," Netanyahu said. "Therefore we will not abandon our national home to that danger."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • New Hamas Leader Shifts Military Strategy - Anna Ahronheim
    Hamas leader Yayha Sinwar is believed to have reduced the budget of its military wing from $200 million in 2014 to $50 million in 2017, while for the first time paying millions to Egypt for fuel. At the same time, Iran is reported to be providing Hamas military forces with $60-70 million.
        Hamas is also believed to be building more underground bunkers and tunnels in Gaza for defensive purposes rather than investing in attack tunnels that cross into Israel, taking into account the new underground barrier Israel is constructing. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Arab Israelis Charged with Plotting another Temple Mount Shooting - Judah Ari Gross
    Two residents of the Arab Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm were charged on Thursday with planning to carry out a shooting attack on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem similar to the one that took place in July. Sa'id Jassoub Mahmoud Jabarin, 26; Firas Salah Mahmoud Mahajna, 24; and an unnamed 16-year-old were charged with possession of weapons and supporting the Islamic State. The men conspired to carry out a terror attack "in which the defendants would murder security personnel and non-Muslim civilians, and be killed in order to become 'martyrs,'" according to the indictment. (Times of Israel)
  • The Har Adar Attacker Became a Palestinian Hero and Secured PA Payments to His Family - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The terrorist who killed three Israelis on Tuesday in Har Adar wanted to present himself as a martyr. He sought to kill Israelis he knew, worked for, and had friendly relations with because he realized he could become a national hero. More importantly, he secured the economic future of his children and estranged wife, who will receive a monthly allowance from the Palestinian Authority. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iranian Leaders Concerned over Kurdish Referendum - Michael Rubin
    Iranian leaders fear the precedent that Iraqi Kurds might set with their referendum for Iran's own restive Kurdish population. In a country with no shortage of internal repression, police and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps actions as well as executions are at their worst in Kurdish-populated regions of Iran. Tehran knows that if given the choice, most Iranian Kurds would go their own way. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official. (Washington Examiner)
        See also In Iraq, Minorities Pin Hopes on a Kurdish State - Judit Neurink
    After the Kurdistan Region of Iraq took them in when Islamic State deprived them of their homes and livelihoods, many Iraqi minorities support the Kurdish push for independence. 100,000 Christians have spent the last three years in the Kurdish Region and some envision their own province within Kurdistan. Another minority that believes it will be better off under Kurdish rule is the Shabak, a small ethno-religious group in the north. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • The Nuclear Deal Is Iran's Legal Path to the Bomb - Ray Takeyh
    The Iran nuclear deal is riddled with problematic provisions that essentially put Iran on a legal glide path to the bomb. Given the deal's permissive research and design provisions, Iran can effectively modernize its nuclear infrastructure while adhering to the agreement.
        Iran will likely covertly enrich uranium at a hidden, undisclosed facility - after all, they've done it before. A small cascade of advanced IR-8 centrifuges can quickly enrich vast quantities of uranium to weapons-grade quality. Because so few of these centrifuges would be required, they can be housed in small facilities that may evade detection in a timely manner.
        Iran had no problem disassembling many of its outdated IR-1 centrifuges and giving the Westerners the illusion that it was circumscribing its nuclear activities. Iran was planning to phase out its IR-1s even if the nuclear deal had not come along. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Politico)
  • Europe Must Learn from Israel's Response to Terrorism - Yossi Lempkowicz
    During an event in the European Parliament on Tuesday hosted by the Parliament Delegation for Relations with Israel, Fiamma Nirenstein, former vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, presented Lessons from Israel's Response to Terrorism.
        She explained that as Israel has faced continuous attack on its civilians, it has developed "detailed codes of ethics, legal and military strategies to cope with extremely complex situations. Europe, facing nowadays similar threats, might draw on the Israeli experience."  (European Jewish Press)

Southern Syria: How to Stop the Iranian Plan for Regional Dominance - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog (Fathom-BICOM)

  • Israel is concerned that Iran and its proxies might fill the void created by the upcoming defeat of ISIS and turn Syria into a permanent political, military and economic stronghold, threatening Israel and Jordan.
  • Israel has closely followed the developing intentions and plans by Iran and Hizbullah to establish an operational infrastructure in southern Syria and to ultimately turn it into a military and terror front against Israel.
  • Following Russia's military deployment in Syria, Israel was quick to launch a close dialogue with the Russian leadership. The Russians not only understand Israel's red lines but have respected them, in almost all cases saying nothing following reported Israeli attacks in Syria.
  • Iran's design to create a land corridor stretching to Lebanon is well underway. Iran plans on a long-term military deployment in Syria with permanent naval and air bases as well as a military industry in order to create an Iranian sphere of direct influence in the heart of the Middle East.
  • From Israel's perspective, this Iranian design is a major long-term strategic threat, as it would entrench Iran - a mortal enemy sworn to Israel's destruction - in a neighboring country, allowing Iran to turn Syria into an active front with Israel alongside Lebanon. There has been talk of establishing a Syrian Hizbullah, together with a "Shiite Legion" against Israel that would include tens of thousands of fighters from Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq.
  • The U.S. and its major European allies should pay careful attention to Israel and Jordan's warning against Iran's push to fill the post-ISIS void. In practical terms, the U.S. and the UK should carefully examine if and how their existing military assets on the ground, which were originally deployed to fight ISIS, could be used to block Iran's plans, rather than withdrawing them following the defeat of ISIS.

    The writer is a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense.

        See also What Is the U.S. Plan to Stop Iran in Syria? - Josh Rogin
    U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told the Institute for the Study of War on Monday that one of the administration's chief objectives is to prevent Iran and its proxy Hizbullah from gaining strategic advantage in Syria as the Islamic State is slowly but steadily defeated there. "The objectives are to weaken Iranian influence across the region broadly," he said.
        The U.S. and its coalition partners could do a lot more to help the Syrians who are not yet under Assad and Iranian rule to build up their self-defense and their civil society. The U.S. could speed up the expansion of the largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to bolster its Arab Sunni ranks. (Washington Post)

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