August 15, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Turkey to Open New Military Base in Qatar - Hande Firat (Hurriyet-Turkey)
    Turkish soldiers were first deployed to the Tariq ibn Ziyad military base in the Qatari capital of Doha in October 2015.
    Turkey has now completed construction of a new base near the existing one which will have a grand opening ceremony in the autumn attended by the Qatari Emir and Turkish President Erdogan, and the number of Turkish soldiers stationed in the country will increase.

PA Initiated Clashes on the Temple Mount - Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The Palestinian Authority instigated the clashes on the Temple Mount on Sunday.
    The PA changed the times of the Muslim prayers on the Mount and called for mosques around Jerusalem to remain closed in order to "recruit" as many people as possible to defend the site against the "invasions" of the Jews.

Israel Develops "Suicide Drone" to Bring Down Enemy UAVs - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    ELTA Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, has already sold 100 "Drone Guard" systems to a number of foreign defense agencies.
    The system detects and brings down drones using frequency blocking and electronic warfare.
    A new upgrade involves a "suicide" drone called the Bird that brings down enemy UAVs by identifying their flight path and flying into them.
    ELTA has also developed an innovative capability to "steal" a drone, which has not yet been fully operationalized.

Israel's NICE Wins $137 Million U.S. Air Traffic Control Deal (Globes)
    Israeli software solutions provider NICE Systems has been awarded a 10-year contract to supply the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration with air traffic control capabilities that will allow faster incident response and provide greater visibility into incident data, thus enhancing transportation safety.

Israel's Home Front Command Revolutionizes Emergency Response System - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Israel's Home Front Command has turned Esri Geographic Information System (GIS) software into a national command and control system to revolutionize dealing with missile attacks and other types of emergencies.
    The system generates a situational picture of the entire country, displaying more than 250 layers of data to link first responders, the government, the Home Front Command's rescue teams and local authorities.
    "Instead of the mayor asking police and firefighters what was destroyed, he will see everything automatically. He'll start issuing instructions to forces, and he'll have a map telling him where electricity and water supplies are down," said Nir Oren, an IDF civilian program specialist.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Seeks to Seize Iranian Tanker in Gibraltar - Guy Faulconbridge and Marco Trujillo
    The U.S. has applied to seize the Iranian Grace 1 oil tanker in Gibraltar that was commandeered by British Royal Marines in the Mediterranean last month, complicating a possible tanker swap between Britain and Iran. The tanker was seized by British Royal Marines on July 4 on suspicion of violating EU sanctions on Syria. Gibraltar was due to release the vessel on Thursday.
        "The U.S. Department of Justice has applied to seize the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar, just hours before the Gibraltar Government was poised to release it," the Gibraltar Chronicle reported. The Gibraltarian court's chief justice, Anthony Dudley, made clear that were it not for the U.S. move, "the ship would have sailed."  (Reuters)
  • Regime Troops Continue Offensive Against Rebels in Northwest Syria
    Syrian government forces captured five villages in the country's northwest on Wednesday, forcing thousands to flee their homes to a safer area farther north. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a Syrian warplane - a Russian-made SU-22 - was shot down on the southern edge of Idlib province. Syrian troops have been on the offensive against rebel strongholds since April 30. The campaign of airstrikes and shelling has killed more than 2,000 people on both sides and displaced some 400,000. (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Condemn Abbas Meeting with Israeli Candidates - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian factions on Wednesday expressed outrage over a meeting on Tuesday between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and candidates for the upcoming Israeli Knesset elections including Noa Rothman, the granddaughter of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said such "dubious meetings are a form of normalization and a poisoned dagger in the back of the Palestinian cause."
        The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said such meetings encourage Arabs and Muslims to continue "normalization encounters" with Israel and harm the efforts of the BDS movement to isolate Israel. Also denouncing the meeting were the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Teens Mourn Murdered Israeli Student - Hanan Greenwood
    Palestinian friends of Israeli student Dvir Sorek, who was stabbed to death in the West Bank last week by Palestinian terrorists, issued a public letter expressing shock over his killing on Tuesday, recalling his participation in an interfaith forum aimed at fostering dialogue between Islam and Judaism. "Over the past two years, he would regularly attend our meetings. During each meeting, we talked about our daily lives and the future we wanted to build together. We would meet every other week; we were young Palestinians and Israelis."
        "We send our condolences to his family and to our friends in his yeshiva. As a group, we condemn such brutal actions; such violence hurts all of us. We build bridges between the peoples on this land." The Palestinian friends chose not to reveal their identity because of the potential backlash from terrorist sympathizers. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Turkish-Controlled "Safe Zone" in Northern Syria May Create More Problems than It Solves - Gonul Tol and Gen. Joseph Votel
    Turkey and the U.S. have agreed to establish a joint operations center to coordinate efforts to carve out a safe zone stretching more than 250 miles along Syria's northeastern border with Turkey. Much of the region is controlled by the Syrian Kurdish militia that played a key role in the U.S.-led fight against ISIS. Turkey has long pushed for a twenty-mile-deep zone that it alone would control.
        Safe zones are usually designed to be neutral, demilitarized, and focused on humanitarian purposes. Imposing a twenty-mile-deep safe zone east of the Euphrates would have the opposite effect - likely displacing more than 90% of the Syrian Kurdish population and creating an environment for increased conflict. It would also thwart efforts to prevent the resurgence of ISIS and enable Iran to use the area to propagate its sectarian activities. There is no evidence to suggest the area is being used as a platform to attack Turkey.
        Gonul Tol is the founding director of the Middle East Institute's Center for Turkish Studies. Gen. Joseph Votel served as commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) from March 2016 to March 2019. (National Interest)
  • Mahmoud Abbas' Time-Machine - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' latest speech revealed that the new starting point for the Palestinian quest for "justice" is sometime in the 13th century BCE. That's when the tribes of Israel began the conquest of the land of Canaan they had been promised when they left Egypt a generation beforehand.
        Abbas declared that the Jewish interlopers in the country would eventually be expelled. "They will be in the dustbins of history, and they will remember that this land is for its people, its residents and the Canaanites who were here 5,000 years ago. We are the Canaanites."
        The notion that the current population that calls itself Palestinian can link themselves to the vanished Canaanites is pure fiction. Some Arabs arrived in the early 20th century from surrounding Arab lands as the country began to experience rapid economic development as a result of the return of the Jews and Zionist settlement.
        It really doesn't matter when Palestinian Arabs arrived. What matters is that their leader is still doubling down on an effort to deny history and the right of the Jews to a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn. In his conversations this week with a delegation of visiting Democratic members of Congress, Abbas wasn't willing to say he recognized Israel or to admit that the Jews were also entitled to a state.
        Israelis and Palestinians don't live in a theoretical world in which dividing adjacent land into states coexisting peacefully is the obvious answer to their problems. They live in the real world, where the only Palestinian leaders are the Islamists of Hamas, who still seek the death of Jews, and the "moderates" of Fatah led by Abbas, who is selling his people a fairy tale about Canaanites who will somehow use a historical time machine to expel the descendants of Joshua. (JNS)

The Iranian Conquest of Syria - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah and Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Syrian regime is still fighting for its survival, a situation that demands the ongoing military involvement of Iran and Russia in the long process of consolidation. Since the beginning of its intervention in Syria, Iran has seen the conflict as an opportunity to take over the country. Accordingly, Iran threw into the battle its foreign legions (Lebanese Hizbullah, Iraqi, Afghani, and Pakistani formations) together with a corps of Iranian officers belonging to the Al-Quds Division under the command of Qasem Suleimani.
  • Hizbullah commands five Shiite militias in the Golan area, each numbering several thousand fighters, and has been busy preparing a military option against Israel. Moscow brokered an arrangement with Tehran according to which Iran would remove its proxies from within 80 km. of the Israeli border and Russia would deploy checkpoints to serve as a buffer.
  • However, due to infiltration, Hizbullah and pro-Iranian proxy checkpoints have been erected almost adjacent to the Russian checkpoints. This has led to friction between the Russians and the pro-Iranian proxies. Furthermore, local leaders supported by Russia and local chiefs of pro-Iranian militias have been conducting mutual targeted killings.
  • Pro-Iranian proxies camouflaged in Syrian army uniforms and waving the Syrian flag have attempted to establish checkpoints and deploy Hizbullah and Revolutionary Guards elements in the vicinity of the Jordanian-Israeli-Syrian border area (the Yarmouk basin).
  • Elements belonging to the Russian Fifth Corps, together with the Russian Military Police responsible for operating the checkpoints, have waged armed attacks to dislodge them. Furthermore, the Russians established a local armed militia to defend the border towns adjacent to the Jordanian border.
  • Iran and its proxies with Hizbullah leadership have succeeded in infiltrating the Syrian Golan area and creating a fait accompli Israel cannot ignore. Iranian proxies are present at the very doorstep of the Israeli Golan, but still undercover and in modest formations.

    Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister. Both are fellows of the Jerusalem Center.