August 21, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Bomb Master Killed in U.S. Airstrike - Maggie Michael and Ahmed Al-Haj (AP-Military Times)
    Al-Qaeda's chief bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who was behind the 2009 Christmas Day plot to down an airliner over Detroit and other foiled aviation-related terror attacks, was killed in a U.S. drone strike, Yemeni officials and a tribal leader said Friday.
    The Saudi national, 36, was among the U.S.' top most-wanted militants. He was also behind bombs hidden in printer cartridges placed on U.S.-bound cargo jets in 2010.
    Since 2014, the U.S. has offered $5 million for information leading to his capture.

U.S. Deports Former Nazi Camp Guard to Germany - Michael R. Sisak (AP-Washington Post)
    Jakiw Palij, 95, a former concentration camp guard, was deported from the U.S. to Germany on Tuesday, the White House said.
    He had entered the U.S. in 1949 and was first confronted by Justice Department investigators in 1993.
    Palij was stripped of U.S. citizenship in 2003 for "participation in acts against Jewish civilians" while an armed guard at the Trawniki camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943.

Yemeni Houthi Rebels Meet with Hizbullah Leader in Lebanon - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    A delegation of Houthi rebels met with Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV reported.
    Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman said, "the Iranian regime has subcontracted the Houthi militia to another one of its proxies: Hizbullah.
    In early August, a Saudi-led air strike killed two Hizbullah "military experts" west of Sanaa in Yemen.

Israel's Rafael to Sell 6 Anti-Drone Systems to UK for $20 Million - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    The UK Ministry of Defense has awarded Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems a $20 million contract to supply the British army with six drone interception systems to protect sensitive facilities and sites at which British forces are deployed.
    The Drone Dome provides 360-degree protection against drones at ranges of 3-5 km. using an advanced electro-optical sensor that cuts communications between the drone and its operator.
    The system then intercepts drones using laser beams that burn it in flight in a few seconds.

Video: Israeli Gymnast Sets World Record at World Cup, Wins Gold (Times of Israel)
    Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram, 19, on Saturday broke the world record in the clubs-handling round at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup in Minsk, and went on to win the gold medal in the all-round phase of the competition.
    See also Israeli Gymnast Wins Second Gold Medal - Oren Aharoni (Ynet News)
    Artistic Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram won a second gold medal at the World Cup in Minsk on Sunday in rhythmic gymnastics.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Two Iranian-Americans Charged with Spying on Jewish Facilities and Iranian Dissidents in the U.S. - Spencer S. Hsu
    U.S. prosecutors announced charges Monday against Ahmadreza Mohammadi Doostdar, 38, and Majid Ghorbani, 59, who were arrested Aug. 9 and accused of acting as agents of the government of Iran, covertly monitoring a Jewish center in Chicago and American members of an Iranian opposition group in exile. According to an FBI affidavit, Doostdar on July 21, 2017, surveilled and photographed security features at the Chabad House at the University of Illinois in Chicago. (Washington Post)
  • Hamas "Salutes" Jeremy Corbyn as Fresh Links with Islamist Group Emerge - Harry Yorke
    Hamas has pledged its support for British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as more evidence emerged on Monday of his long-running links to the Islamist group. Corbyn is facing a fresh investigation into an undeclared trip to the West Bank in 2010, where he was pictured meeting senior Hamas officials.
        This follows the disclosure that Corbyn attended a conference in Qatar in 2012, where he was joined by Husam Badran, a former Hamas military leader sentenced to 17 years for his role in terror attacks which killed more than 100 people. Others present included Khalid Mishaal, the former political leader of Hamas, and Dr. Abdul Aziz Umar, who received seven life sentences for aiding in the preparation of a suicide belt. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Corbyn Called Israeli Opposition Leader Livni a "War Criminal" - Eylon Levy
    Jeremy Corbyn called Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni a "war criminal" in January 2010 over her role in the 2008-09 Israel-Gaza conflict, during which Livni was Israel's foreign minister. (i24News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Experts View Gaza Ceasefire Negotiations - Charles Bybelezer
    Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, formerly the head of Israel's National Security Council, said, "Gaza has become a de facto state, as it comprises a set area with a central body that governs the population, has an army and conducts foreign policy. So in a way countries have to be pragmatic and negotiate with Hamas. Israel's main interest is security - a period of complete calm in Gaza - and it is willing to do what is necessary to achieve this."
        Eiland attributes the potential to reach a truce agreement with Hamas to a dramatic shift in Egypt's policy. "Until recently, Cairo insisted that Abbas re-assume control over Gaza, which Hamas would not accept, specifically the call for it to disarm. Now, Egypt understands that this is not realistic and is only demanding that Hamas prevent [ISIS] in the Sinai from smuggling in weaponry."
        Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Knesset member who served on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says, "At the moment, the PA... represents Palestinians who cling to the idea of armed struggle. Real leaders can only emerge once the prevailing Palestinian ethos changes. And this will only happen when the world demands it."
        "The question should not be 'yes, [deal with] Hamas or no Hamas,' but rather why 70% of Gazans view themselves as refugees. One of the reasons Gaza has failed is that its people are committed to fighting for all of 'Palestine,' from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. The global community needs to reassert that it will work with anyone that makes it clear that the future of the people of Gaza will be in Gaza."  (Media Line-Jerusalem Post)
  • Qatar's Role in the Gaza Ceasefire Process - Zvi Bar'el
    Qatar, an ally of Turkey and Iran, is in the process of being rehabilitated after Israel and Egypt agreed that it would bear the burden of paying the salaries of tens of thousands of government employees in Gaza. Qatar is also mediating a deal for the return of two Israeli civilians being held in Gaza as well as the bodies of two soldiers killed there in 2014. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The EU Views Iran through Rose-Colored Glasses - Clifford May
    Olli Heinonen, who served at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 27 years, including as its deputy director general and as head of its Department of Safeguards, says that the IAEA "has not confirmed that Iran's nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful."
        Heinonen noted that Iran has not been dismantling its nuclear program, but instead "proceeds with the development of new centrifuges, piles up uranium (yellow cake), and is quietly building infrastructure." He added that the nuclear archive recently smuggled out of Tehran by Israel's Mossad "casts a long shadow of doubt over Iran's intentions."
        Yet the EU insists upon viewing Iran through rose-colored glasses - whitewashing or ignoring their malevolent and illicit activities. Even crimes committed on European soil, such as the foiled plot to bomb a gathering in Paris of Iranian dissidents in exile, have failed to make an impact. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Times)
  • In Islam, Jerusalem Is Not Mecca - A. Z. Mohamed
    Only when non-Muslims are in control of Jerusalem do Muslims seem to remember the city. Otherwise, as history shows, Muslims have never attached real significance to it. In fact, Muhammad instructed his people not to pray toward Jerusalem, as they had done previously, but to Mecca.
        Moreover, certain Quranic verses emphasize Jerusalem's connection to the Jews, and the Quran does not promise Muslims to enter or rule Jerusalem. One verse quotes the Prophet Moses instructing the Jews to enter the Holy Land that God has given to them - including Jerusalem. In another Quranic verse, God Himself instructs the Children of Israel to dwell in the land.
        In spite of almost 1,200 years of Muslim rule, Jerusalem never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly center. Only six years after Prophet Muhammed's death, in 638 CE, did the Caliph Omar capture Jerusalem. When Omar arrived at the Temple Mount, he prayed facing Mecca with his back to the Foundation Stone where the Jewish Temple had stood. The Dome of the Rock shrine built there in 691-692 CE is not a mosque. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Tamir Pardo, who headed Israel's Mossad intelligence service from 2011 to 2016, has proposed defeating Hizbullah with sanctions led by an alliance of the U.S., EU and moderate Sunni-Arab states.
  • He told the Jerusalem Post in an interview: "The ability to limit the Hizbullah threat with sanctions is 10 times easier than with Iran - and if Trump would do it now, it would have a big effect on the Iran nuclear standoff."
  • "Lebanon is the only state in the world with a terror entity which has more raw power than the country's army. Hizbullah is Lebanon. It sits in the government and the parliament. It decides all political issues." At the same time, "Hizbullah is an inextricable part and operative of a third state - Iran."
  • During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, there was a concept of attacking Hizbullah without attacking the rest of Lebanon, Pardo explained, but this concept is now outdated. "To defeat Hizbullah completely, we would need to invade all the way until northern Lebanon because of their long-range missiles. I argue that we can solve the Lebanese issue with a different and more fitting solution."
  • "If Trump announces sanctions against Lebanon like he did against Iran, the Lebanese economy would not be able to last for more than three to four months. Lebanon is not Iran. It is a tiny nation which relies on the West and the Sunni moderate countries."
  • "Even if only some aspects of the serious Trump sanctions on Iran were imposed on Lebanon," he said, this would be much more effective than a war against Hizbullah - if there was "a clear message that sanctions would only be removed if: 1) Hizbullah gave up its arms or was absorbed entirely into the Lebanese army, and 2) Iran has to withdraw its tentacles completely from Lebanon."

        See also IDF Trains for War with Hizbullah - Yoav Zitun
    The IDF has been training in the Golan Heights for a possible war with Hizbullah - the strongest army in the Middle East after the IDF. It is advanced, fast, mobile and combative. Hizbullah is slowly returning to Lebanon after the Syrian civil war in which thousands of its fighters were killed and wounded. Nevertheless, Hizbullah has gained rich experience from four years of fighting.
        Hizbullah has received a new arsenal of weapons: high-quality night vision devices, electronic combat weapons, and hundreds of drones, along with mortars carrying half a ton of explosives, and heavy rockets. (Ynet News)