February 5, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

In Yemen, Jihadists and Iran Are Getting U.S. Weapons - Nima Elbagir (CNN)
    Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al-Qaeda-linked fighters and Salafi militias in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the U.S., a CNN investigation has found.
    The weapons have also made their way into the hands of Iranian-backed rebels, exposing sensitive American military technology to Tehran.
    The revelations raise fresh questions about whether Saudi Arabia is responsible enough to be allowed to continue buying sophisticated U.S. hardware.

Iran Presents Long-Range Cruise Missile and Threatens to "Erase Israel" - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    In a live broadcast on Saturday, Iran unveiled its new 1,350 km.-range cruise missile as part of a large exposition displaying more than 300 weapons and "advanced technology" (including missiles, drones, ammunition, aircraft, and sailing) run by the Iranian Defense Industries Organization.
    Iranian Defense Minister Amir Khatami said the missile was successfully tested at 1,200 km., striking its targets with precision.
    See also Three Killed in Fire at the Iranian Space Research Center - Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Cameroon Apologizes to Israel over Anti-Semitic Comments by Minister (Xinhua-China)
    The Cameroon government expressed "regrets" to Israel on Monday after a government minister made anti-Semitic comments on state media.
    On Sunday, Cameroon's Minister Delegate in the Ministry of Justice Jean de Dieu Momo compared Cameroon's opposition party to the Jews "who were crushed by Hitler because of arrogance."
    Cameroon Minister of Communication and government spokesman Rene Sadi said, "The government of Cameroon strongly deplores the irrelevant comments of (Jean de Dieu Momo) and completely dissociates itself."

Israel Launches New Hebrew Music Streaming App - Amy Spiro (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Culture Ministry launched a new app on Monday for streaming Hebrew music.
    The free app, called Shiri, was created in conjunction with the National Library of Israel "with the goal of conserving and preserving Israeli music throughout the generations."
    It includes 1,000 artists and more than 40,000 songs.
    The app's interface is currently only available in Hebrew for iPhone and Android.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • EU "Gravely Concerned" by Iran's Ballistic Missile Activity
    The EU said on Monday it was gravely concerned by Iran's ballistic missile launches and tests and called on Tehran to stop activity that deepened mistrust and destabilized the region. Tehran should refrain in particular from any work on missiles designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, the EU said. The EU also expressed concern at Iran's role in growing Middle East tensions, including support for groups in Lebanon and Syria and Iran's own forces in Syria. (Reuters)
        See also European Council Statement on Iran (European Council)
        See also Did Iran Backstab the EU with Cruise Missile Test? - Shamil Shams (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Iran: EU Preconditions for Alternate Trade Channel "Unacceptable"
    Sadeq Amoli-Larijani, Iran's top judge, said on Monday that Tehran would never accept the "humiliating conditions" set by the EU for non-dollar trade intended to evade U.S. sanctions, Tasnim news agency reported. "After nine months of procrastination and negotiation, Europeans have created a mechanism with limited capacity...only for food and medicine," he noted. (Reuters)
  • Attorney Elan Carr Tapped as U.S. Anti-Semitism Envoy - Jackson Richman
    Attorney Elan Carr, 50, has been picked to serve as the U.S. State Department's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. An Iraq War veteran, Carr served as a judge advocate in the American military, and later as a criminal gang prosecutor in Los Angeles.
        "Elan Carr is a very good choice. He has been devoted to the issues relating to anti-Semitism for many years," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "Today, there is growing political, as well as social, anti-Semitism that reflects the overall growth of anti-Semitism in Europe. We in the United States need to watch these patterns carefully, and learn from past and current experiences in Europe to fight anti-Semitism effectively."  (JNS)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Throw Bomb at IDF Checkpoint
    Two Palestinian terrorists arrived at the Gilboa checkpoint, north of Jenin in the West Bank, on a motorcycle on Monday night and threw an explosive device at IDF forces. The IDF returned fire, killing Abdallah Abu Taleb and injuring the second terrorist. No soldiers were hurt. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Welcomes 82 Ethiopian Immigrants - Michael Bachner
    82 Ethiopians immigrants landed in Israel on Monday, the first of 1,000 members of the Jewish community to be allowed to move. About 135,000 Ethiopian Jews currently live in Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • Experts Dismiss Allegations that Removing Hebron Observers Violates Oslo Accords - Mary McAuliffe
    After Israel refused to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), Norway and Turkey alleged that TIPH's removal represents a violation of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. But Alan Baker, an Israeli diplomat and international lawyer involved in the Oslo negotiations, dismissed these allegations.
        "Since its [TIPH's] establishment, both Turkey and Norway have become countries that maintain hostility vis-a-vis Israel, and as such, cannot play an objective role as members of TIPH. The hypocrisy of the Norwegians is quite blatant. As signatories to the Oslo Accords as witness, they have never considered the Palestinian violations of the accords as breaches," Baker said. (i24News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran Has Teamed Up with the Taliban - Jackson Richman
    Freshman Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), 45, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, has seen firsthand what Iran wants to do in the Middle East. He said in an interview: "When I served abroad in Afghanistan, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was very active with the Taliban, even though they would not have a natural relationship, with Iran obviously being Shia [and] the Taliban being an extremist Sunni organization."
        "But we've seen Iran through the IRGC and through the Kuds force, which is its foreign operations force, very effectively have marriages of convenience with surrogates that may not be naturally aligned but have forces that they want to use against the U.S., which is exactly what they were doing with the Taliban through training, through recruiting, and helping them with arming and equipping."  (JNS)
  • U.S. Officials Fear ISIS Fighters Are Lying Low, Not Defeated - Matthew Lee
    U.S. defense officials are increasingly fearful that Islamic State militants could regroup within six months to a year after the Americans leave the battlefield. A report by the Defense Department inspector general released Monday said Islamic State "remains a potent force of battle-hardened and well-disciplined fighters that could likely resurge in Syria, absent continued counterterrorism pressure." The group "is still able to coordinate offensives and counter-offensives, as well as operate as a decentralized insurgency."
        U.S. Central Command believes that ISIS will continue to conduct "opportunistic attacks" on U.S. troops. "If Sunni socio-economic, political, and sectarian grievances are not adequately addressed by the national and local governments of Iraq and Syria, it is very likely that ISIS will have the opportunity to set conditions for future resurgence and territorial control."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • World Ignores Plight of Palestinians in Lebanon - Bassam Tawil
    A Palestinian who tries to bring a bag of cement or other construction materials into a refugee camp to build a house is subjected to arrest, interrogation, trial by military court and a fine. Is this happening in the West Bank? No. In Lebanon. The wretched condition of the Palestinians living in Lebanon is often ignored. The only Palestinians the international community seems to care about are those whose grievances can be blamed on Israel.
        Lebanon's discriminatory and apartheid laws deny Palestinians basic rights. Lebanese authorities claim that the ban on building materials is designed to guarantee the Palestinians' "right of return" to their former towns inside Israel. Palestinians in Lebanon are also banned by law from working in professions including medicine, engineering, nursing, accounting, pharmaceuticals and teaching. Palestinians are also barred from owning, selling or bequeathing property. (Gatestone Institute)

Israeli-Arab Relations Have Taken a Step Forward - Prof. Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)
  • It appears that public opinion in Egypt - certainly among the elites who control the country - doesn't oppose bolstering security, economic and even diplomatic ties with Israel if it serves the Egyptian interest.
  • Egypt isn't alone. Gulf States are following in its footsteps and have perhaps even led the way in certain areas, and soon several countries in North Africa will join the parade.
  • Truth be told, these aren't affectionate relationships or even fully normalized ties with the Israeli government. But it does seem that Israeli-Arab relations have taken a real step forward.
  • If in the past, Arab willingness to maintain peaceful relations with Israel was restricted to recognizing the need to end the conflict and begrudgingly come to terms with its existence, we are now transitioning into a phase of Arab acknowledgment of the inherent benefits to improving relations with Israel, for both sides.
  • Moreover, if in the past the Arabs only saw Israel as a way station to Washington, now Israel itself is the destination. Israel has become a legitimate regional player with clout and ability to influence.
  • We can assume this trend will intensify in light of Washington's desire to disengage from the region and Iran's menacing shadow.

    The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.