March 3, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Turkish Drones Revolutionize Warfare in Syria - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    Footage of numerous Turkish drone strikes in Idlib reveal their groundbreaking and effective use against Syrian regime defenses and armored vehicle formations.
    Turkey can't fly its air force in Idlib due to an apparent ban by Russia and the Syrian regime. But Turkish drones can fly.
    Video feeds show drones striking columns of infantry and armored vehicles near Idlib.
    Turkey's widespread use of drones in Idlib may be one of the largest concentrations of drones ever used in this manner.

The Changing Face of Israel's UAV Sector - Murdo Morrison (FlightGlobal-UK)
    From medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) platforms to loitering munitions and miniature reconnaissance types weighing a few kilograms, Israel has been a leader in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for decades.
    Israel's constant need to watch over hostile neighbors has spawned a home-grown capability that has kept the nation safe and turned companies such as Aeronautics, Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) into prolific exporters of the technology.
    Israel's big two aerospace and defense contractors - Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), with its flagship Heron, and Elbit, behind the Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 - dominate the MALE market. Aeronautics, owned by Israel's Rafael, specializes in small, tactical UAVs.
    IAI's Heron is used by the Israeli air force and more than 20 other customers worldwide. Its new Rotax 915 model has a "wider and stronger body structure" that allows additional payload, including larger sensors that allow it to "gather intelligence from tens of km. away without crossing borders."
    Loitering munitions such as the IAI Harpy address the need to "hit targets that you know are there, but not exactly where, because they might be relocatable."

Video: Takele Mekonen Helped Save Ethiopian Jews (AIPAC-Twitter)
    Takele Mekonen bravely partnered with the Mossad to help smuggle countless fellow Ethiopian Jews to freedom in Israel.
    He is now a successful tech executive in Israel.

Hijab and Handgun: Israel's First Muslim Female Detective - Israel Moskovitz (Ynet News)
    Police Master Sergeant Sabrin Sa'adi, an investigator for the juvenile division in the Israeli Arab village of Kafr Kanna, will become the first hijab-wearing religious Muslim female to be a police investigation officer.
    Sa'adi was born and raised in the northern Bedouin village of Basmat Tab'un, and went through basic and investigation training at the National Police Academy.
    "I want to convey a message to all other religious Muslim women like me," she said. "The police is a good home for us, the organization lets you climb up the ranks, to prove yourself and feel equal."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog to Rebuke Iran for Blocking Inspections - Francois Murphy
    The International Atomic Energy Agency plans to issue a rebuke to Iran on Tuesday for failing to provide access to sites that are of interest to it, several diplomats said Monday. After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the IAEA in 2018 to inspect a "secret atomic warehouse" in Tehran, the IAEA inspected the site in February 2019 and gathered environmental samples that showed traces of uranium that Iran has yet to fully explain. Now the agency is seeking access to one or more sites mentioned in the "atomic archive" seized by Israeli intelligence agents. (Reuters)
  • Pompeo Promises to Protect U.S. Businesses in UN West Bank Data Base - Laura Kelly
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday put the UN on notice against punishing six American companies operating in the West Bank. "The State Department will monitor the reaction of the United Nations and member states closely and will firmly oppose any efforts to use this list against U.S. companies," he said. Pompeo rejected any authority of the UN "to dictate to U.S. companies where they can and cannot do business," and offered assistance to the companies if they are the targets of "attempts to intimidate or harass it."
        In November, Pompeo announced that the State Department would no longer view Israeli settlements as "per se, inconsistent with international law."  (The Hill)
        See also State Department Guidance to U.S. Companies regarding UN Database - Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (U.S. State Department)
  • UN Panel Says Russia Bombed Syrian Civilian Targets, a War Crime - Nick Cumming-Bruce
    UN investigators said on Monday that Russia had committed war crimes in Syria by carrying out indiscriminate airstrikes on civilian targets in 2019. These include an attack on a market last July 22, killing at least 43 civilians, and an airstrike on a camp for displaced civilians in August that killed at least 20 people.
        The investigators also said that Syrian rebels allied with Turkey had carried out war crimes during the invasion of Kurdish areas in northern Syria, and that al-Qaeda-linked rebels had inflicted scores of civilian casualties in rocket attacks on government-held areas. The accusations appear in the latest report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, a Geneva-based panel that has been monitoring the nearly decade-old conflict. (New York Times)
        See also Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (UN Human Rights Council)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Leads in Israeli Elections - Yaron Drukman
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party emerged victorious after Monday's elections with an estimated 59 out of the 120 Knesset seats but still short of the 61 seats needed to form a coalition. His main opponent, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz who conceded defeat, secured four seats less than Likud. (Ynet News)
        See also Netanyahu's Likud Becomes Israel's Largest Party
    With 90% of the votes counted, the results were Likud (Netanyahu) 36 seats, Blue and White (Gantz) 32, Joint List (Arab) 15, Shas (Sephardi religious) 10, United Torah Judaism (Ashkenazi religious) 7, Yisrael Beiteinu (Lieberman) 7, Labor-Gesher-Meretz 7, Yamina 6. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Thwarts Sniper Attack across Syrian Border - Anna Ahronheim
    "IDF forces identified an attempted sniper attack in the northern Golan Heights and acted to thwart it, striking the vehicle involved in the attempt," the army said Monday. Opposition reports said the car was carrying militiamen loyal to the Assad regime. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why the Palestinian Authority Should Accept the U.S. Olive Branch of Opportunity - Eliora Katz and Eyal Tsir Cohen
    It is crucial for the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table as soon as possible. An overwhelmingly large majority of the Knesset, roughly 85%, has embraced the U.S. plan. Leader of the opposition Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, praised the deal and said he would implement all conditions if elected prime minister.
        Russia, China, Europe, and the Arab states are consumed with more urgent crises at home and abroad to press on this 73-year-old issue. Obama was left empty-handed after eight years tilting to the Palestinians in pursuit of a deal. Today, the international community is struggling to address the worst refugee crisis in 70 years. Almost 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced, double the level of 20 years ago. (National Interest)
  • Iran Has Missed Out on Global Prosperity - Robert D. Kaplan
    The worldwide material and human progress of the past few decades has largely left Iran behind. In 1977 Iran's economy was 26% larger than Turkey's, 65% larger than South Korea's, and almost 5.5 times the size of Vietnam's - all countries with somewhat larger populations. In 2017 Turkey's economy was nearly 2.5 times the size of Iran's, South Korea's more than seven times, and Vietnam's had gone from less than 20% to 70%, according to Nadereh Chamlou, a former World Bank official. While poverty has declined in Iran, 40% of the population earns less than $10 a day.
        Today Iran is a pauperized and lonely nation. Its only allies are the murderous proxy militias it supports and Bashar Assad's regime in Syria. The regime seems stable, yet is widely seen as illegitimate by the population. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Libya's Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar - the Returnee - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Libya has two governments, two armies, and has become a safe haven for jihadists of all loyalties and a conduit for arms and drug smuggling. Once a high-ranking oil-exporter, Libya has stopped all production. The troops of Field-Marshall Khalifa Haftar have subdued the whole of eastern Libya and have reached western Libya but have failed to storm the Libyan capital at Tripoli.
        A year after the beginning of the offensive against Tripoli, both Benghazi and Tripoli have suffered tremendous destruction. Extremist Islamic State militias are very much present in the south and west. Haftar is 77 and in frail health. He is not the endgame for Libya. The writer, a special Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Problem of Egyptian Identity: A View from Within - Luqman El-Masry (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • How did Egypt descend from the status of a great civilization to a position of insignificance bordering on irrelevance? Why do we have a strategic partnership with the U.S., though the average Egyptian believes, as do most Arabs, that the U.S. is a vile state that conspires with Israel against them? Why do we have a peace treaty with Israel, but to so much as contemplate visiting that country is considered an act of treason?
  • If Egyptians are to regain the world's respect, we must abandon the pan-Arab identity imposed on us. Why do Egyptians identify as Arab despite factual evidence to the contrary, including recent DNA analysis that shows that we are no more than 20% Arab?
  • Conspiracy theories are rife across the Arab world. Pan-Arabism enforces the notion that the West and Israel are perpetually conspiring against Arabs and that there's not much that can be done about it. The conviction that the country's future is out of our control is nothing more than a convenient excuse for our own failures.
  • Consider, for example, the widespread belief among Egyptians in the anti-Semitic slander The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Instead of working to establish a democratic, healthy community, Egyptians content themselves with the belief that they are hapless victims of a group of sinister "others" who held secret meetings to decide their future along with that of the entire world.
  • The Islamic colonization of Egypt is referred to by Muslims and Egyptians as the Fatah, or the "opening," implying there was no conquest by force but rather a peaceful, miraculous embrace of Islam. They refuse to acknowledge that the Islamization of many countries, including Egypt and all its North African neighbors, was the result of violence.
  • As Egypt gradually gives up its pan-Arabism, the timing is perfect for Israel and the Western nations to design a strategy that enables Egyptians to communicate with their Jewish neighbor and the West without fear of reprisal from the country's unforgiving security apparatus.

    Luqman El-Masry is the pseudonym of an Egyptian intelligence and political analyst.