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Author Topic: Israel, and its neighbors  (Read 235228 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #50 on: June 09, 2007, 11:19:54 AM »

Woof C-Stray Dog:

I think your point most sound.

Snatching at random from this morning's news we find:

"LEBANESE TROOPS POUND ISLAMIC POSITIONS: Lebanon's army on Saturday pounded al Qaeda-inspired Islamic militants hiding in a Palestinian refugee camp in renewed heavy clashes following a few days of intermittent fighting. Black smoke billowed from the Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon where witnesses reported some of the heaviest army shelling since June 1, when the Lebanese army -- using tanks and artillery -- launched an offensive to drive the Fatah Islam militants from their positions inside the settlement."

I'm guessing if Israel were going after such a camp there would be a a general caterwauling and dramatic fotos and "outrage", but because its not Israel attacking these scum, nary a word or foto of this sort.

Marc
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ccp
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« Reply #51 on: June 09, 2007, 11:36:36 AM »

Yet we hear from some that the Jews in America control the media and our pols.

Israel cannot count on the US to be there if push comes to shove.  Americans will not want to risk life and limb for Jews.

But, I see this as good news:

http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas052407.php3
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rogt
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« Reply #52 on: June 11, 2007, 12:06:27 PM »

Yet we hear from some that the Jews in America control the media and our pols.

Just saying "Jews control the media" implies some sort of conspiracy and is (rightly) considered bigotry and not taken seriously.   But there's no denying that a lot of Jews (some would say a disproportionate amount) happen to occupy powerful positions in our government and the media, and it would be absurd to think this doesn't in any way influence our policy towards Israel.

Quote
Israel cannot count on the US to be there if push comes to shove.  Americans will not want to risk life and limb for Jews.

I think WW2 pretty clearly demonstrated that Americans are willing to risk their lives for Jews when the cause is just.  Israel is not simply "Jews" but implies a set of policies and ideas that plenty of people who aren't anti-Semites consider unjust and morally bankrupt for very specific reasons.
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G M
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« Reply #53 on: June 11, 2007, 06:32:22 PM »

Israel's refusal to be pushed into the sea continues to inflame the muslim world. How unjust it is for the Israelis to continue to insist on survival.  rolleyes
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #54 on: June 13, 2007, 08:44:19 AM »

NY Times:

JERUSALEM, June 12 — Gunmen of rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah sharply escalated their fight for supremacy on Tuesday, with Hamas taking over much of the northern Gaza Strip in what is beginning to look increasingly like a civil war.


Hamas fighters in Nusairat, in the Gaza Strip, defended a national security headquarters they had seized from Fatah Tuesday.

Five days of revenge attacks on individuals — including executions, kneecappings and even tossing handcuffed prisoners off tall apartment towers — on Tuesday turned into something larger and more organized: attacks on symbols of power and the deployment of military units. About 25 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded, Palestinian medics said.

In one Hamas attack on a Fatah security headquarters in northern Gaza near Jabaliya Camp, at least 21 Palestinians were reported killed and another 60 wounded, said Moaweya Hassanein of the Palestinian Health Ministry.

After a senior Fatah leader in northern Gaza, Jamal Abu al-Jediyan, was killed Monday, Fatah’s elite Presidential Guards, who are being trained by the United States and its allies, fired rocket-propelled grenades at the house of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, of Hamas, in the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City.

An hour later, Hamas’s military wing fired four mortar shells at the presidential office compound of Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah, who is in the West Bank, a Fatah spokesman, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, said in a telephone interview.

“Hamas is seeking a military coup against the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

Hamas made a similar accusation against Fatah. Hamas, which has an Islamist ideology, demanded that security forces loyal to Fatah, the more nationalist and secular movement, abandon their positions in northern and central Gaza.

Fatah’s leaders said Tuesday night that they would suspend participation in the unity government with Hamas, which began in March, until the fighting ends.

That agreement to govern jointly, negotiated under Saudi auspices, put Fatah ministers into a Hamas-led government in an effort to secure renewed international aid and recognition and to stop what was already serious fighting between the two factions.

But the new government has failed to achieve either goal, and it appeared to many in Gaza that the gunmen were not listening to their political leaders. Mr. Abbas is under increasing pressure to abandon the unity government he championed and to try once again to order new elections, which Hamas has said it will oppose by any means.

The head of the Egyptian mediation team, Lt. Col. Burhan Hamad, said neither side responded to his call on Tuesday to hold truce talks. “It seems they don’t want to come,” said Colonel Hamad, who has brokered several brief cease-fires between the two. “We must make them ashamed of themselves. They have killed all hope. They have killed the future.”

He said neither side had the weaponry required to produce “a decisive victory.”

Talal Okal, a Gazan political scientist, described what could be coming. “Tonight, we may find ourselves at the beginning of a civil war,” he said. “If Abbas decides to move his security forces onto the attack, and not to only defend, we’ll find ourselves in a much wider cycle.”

Fatah forces were ordered Tuesday evening to defend their positions and counter “a coup against the president and against the Palestinian Authority and national unity government.”

The streets of Gazan cities were once again empty of pedestrians and cars. People ventured out to buy food, but only to the next building, and parents kept children out of school.

At Shifa Hospital in Gaza, which Hamas gunmen patrolled, bodies of four Hamas fighters lay on the floor of the emergency room, including Muhammad al-Mqeir, 25. His closest friend called him a martyr, even though he was killed by another Palestinian, from Fatah. “They are not Palestinians, they are lost people,” the friend said of Fatah. Doctors said that the emergency room was overloaded and that the hospital was running short of blood.

After warning Fatah, Hamas attacked a Fatah-affiliated security headquarters in Gaza City, and declared northern Gaza “a closed military zone.”

An estimated 200 Hamas fighters surrounded Fatah security headquarters there, firing mortar shells and grenades at the compound, where some 500 security officers were positioned. The headquarters fell to Hamas. Hamas gunmen also exchanged fire with Fatah forces at the southern security headquarters in the town of Khan Yunis. There, the two sides fought a gun battle near a hospital. Fifteen children attending a kindergarten in the line of fire were rushed into the hospital, which is financed largely by European donations.

Angering Hamas, Fatah militants abducted and killed the nephew of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Hamas leader assassinated by Israel in April 2004.
===========
(Page 2 of 2)



Hamas gunmen attacked the home of a Fatah security official with mortars and grenades, killing his 14-year-old son and three women inside, security officials said. Other Fatah gunmen stormed the house of a Hamas lawmaker and burned it down.

Fatah forces also attacked the headquarters, in Gaza, of Hamas’s television station, Al Aksa TV, and began to broadcast Fatah songs, but Hamas said later that it had repelled the attack.

In the West Bank, where Fatah is stronger and the Israeli occupation forces keep Hamas fighters underground, the Fatah Presidential Guards took over the Ramallah offices of Al Aksa TV and confiscated equipment.

Also in the West Bank, Fatah men kidnapped a deputy minister from Hamas, one of the few Hamas cabinet members and legislators not already in Israeli military jails, part of Israel’s effort to keep pressure on Hamas.

Since Monday morning, at least 43 Palestinians have died in the renewed fighting. More than 50 had died in the previous outburst last month that ended in a brief cease-fire mediated by the Egyptians.

A Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, accused Fatah, in alliance with Israel and the United States, of trying to destroy Hamas and overturn the results of elections held in January 2006, in which Hamas won a legislative majority.

“They crossed all the red lines,” he said of Fatah after the second straight day that Prime Minister Haniya’s house was fired upon.

Sami Abu Zuhri, another Hamas spokesman, said: “Those we sit with from Fatah have no control on the ground. These groups have relations with the U.S. administration and Israel.” Hamas says it believes that Mr. Abbas’s aide, Muhammad Dahlan, is controlling the Fatah forces, and Mr. Zuhri said, “It’s an international and regional plan aiming to eliminate Hamas.”

Israeli officials are debating whether Fatah can stand up to Hamas in Gaza. They say they have been asked by Washington recently to approve another shipment of armored vehicles, weapons and ammunition to the Presidential Guards. But a senior Israeli official said Israel was worried that the weaponry would just be seized by Hamas, as much of the last shipment was.

“Hamas now has two million bullets intended for Fatah,” he said.

Israeli officials are explicit privately about their intention to damage Hamas and its military infrastructure in Gaza and try to give Fatah a boost at the same time. Israel, in retaliation for rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, has been bombing the buildings and facilities of Hamas’s Executive Force, a parallel police force in Gaza, that has not been firing rockets. Israeli officials argue, however, that the Executive Force and the Hamas military wing “share a command headquarters.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which deals with the 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.5 million people who are refugees or their descendants, said its ability to provide needed aid had been severely hampered by the fighting. Three of its 5 food distribution centers and 7 of its 18 health clinics were forced to close Tuesday, said its Gaza director, John Ging.

“The violence is compounding an already dreadful humanitarian situation,” he said, with 80 percent of the refugee population already dependent on aid.

Mr. Okal, who is now on the board of trustees of the Fatah-affiliated Azhar University in Gaza, said he would oppose Fatah’s pulling out of elected institutions, but added that he was not optimistic about Gaza. “We are heading toward a collapse — of both the political system and society,” he said.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #55 on: June 14, 2007, 09:12:52 PM »

PNA: Hamas Gains the Upper Hand in Gaza
Summary

Hamas consolidated its hold over the Gaza Strip after it captured one of the last Fatah command centers in Gaza City on June 14. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to dissolve the parliament and hold new elections, but doing so would only cripple Fatah's position even more, and Hamas knows this. After five days of bloody clashes, Hamas has dramatically changed the negotiating landscape in the Palestinian territories to pressure Fatah into giving up a significant degree of control over the Palestinian security apparatus.

Analysis

Hamas' trademark green flags waved over the Preventive Security headquarters in Gaza City on June 14. The headquarters is one of the last major Fatah compounds that Hamas has taken over after five days of deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip. Reports indicate that President Mahmoud Abbas has dissolved the Saudi-brokered "unity government," though the merits of such a move remain unclear.

Abbas has made such threats before, and he knows that he will be facing a full-scale civil war in the territories that would result in the creation of de facto mini-states, with Hamas in charge of Gaza and Fatah in charge of the West Bank, if Hamas is forced out of the government. He also knows Fatah would have almost no chance of winning a clear majority if new elections were held, and that his fractured Fatah movement might not be able to regain its current position if an all-out factional battle ensues. The fighting already is so bad that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, led by Muhammad Mahdi Akef, is being asked to mediate the crisis, and Abbas has given orders to Fatah members to fight back against Hamas.

Fatah is weak, and Hamas knows it. And this is precisely what is giving Hamas the confidence to go on the offensive and essentially establish what is being referred to as "Hamastan" in the Gaza Strip. In Hamas' mind, the time has come to redraw the lines on the power-distribution map based on its gains on the battlefield. The root of this bitter power struggle is control over the Palestinian security forces, which Hamas needs in order to ensure the longevity of its militant arm.

Even though it came to power through a landslide victory in the January 2006 legislative elections, Hamas has been unable to make much headway toward its ultimate goal of replacing Fatah as the main Palestinian actor. In fact, international sanctions and Fatah's control of the presidency (and hence security forces) forced Hamas' hand to the point where it had to agree to sharing power, even though it had a clear majority in parliament. The latest wave of fighting has allowed Hamas to at least lay claim to Gaza, from where it will try to extend its control into the West Bank.

Not only is the West Bank more ideologically in tune with Fatah, but Hamas also needs to control the security forces in order to legitimize its power projection. Otherwise, its moves will be seen as those of a militia group rather than a legitimate national institution.

Thus far, the problem has been that Fatah loyalists have firmly dominated the security forces. Hamas has played along with the negotiations and with Saudi efforts to broker a power-sharing agreement, but Hamas' key demand is to gain control over the Interior Ministry and remove several key Fatah security chiefs. Former Palestinian Interior Minister Hani al-Qawasmi, who recently resigned out of exasperation, was assigned his post as an independent player in the Hamas-Fatah fracas, but exiled Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal used his loyalists in Gaza to heavily pressure al-Qawasmi to not cooperate with Abbas' security personnel. The man at the top of Hamas' hit list is Muhammad Dahlan, a senior Fatah figure and former interior minister who Abbas appointed as national security adviser to restructure security forces and thus undermine al-Qawasmi's authority. Dahlan's experience in cracking down on Hamas militants in the 1990s has made him a mortal enemy in the eyes of Hamas leaders.

With likely backing from its supporters in Damascus and Tehran, Hamas has realized it no longer has to play defense against Fatah. Hamas also is working to undermine Fatah's credibility by heavily playing up allegations that Fatah is working with the CIA and Israel’s Mossad. Any Israeli military action in Gaza to try to contain Hamas will be widely perceived in the territories as Israel coming to Fatah's rescue, and Hamas will be sure to get that message across. From any angle, Fatah is in an extremely weak position. With that in mind, Hamas is betting that Abbas will have no choice but to negotiate and give in to Hamas' demands if he wants to avoid a full-scale civil war. And now that Hamas has taken over Fatah's military compounds in Gaza, it has access to thousands of U.S.-financed assault rifles, trucks, mortars, hand grenades and army radios to use in a fight if the situation comes down to civil war.

Hamas wants to show that the Western economic embargo against its democratically elected government will only result in more chaos in the territories and create a larger breeding ground for militias and crime families to take root. (The leading crime family in Gaza, Dugmush, is already believed to have aligned itself with al Qaeda-linked militants.) Hamas wants to be seen as a strong political force that Western governments will have to deal with if they want to prevent a larger conflagration down the line.

In the end, it looks like Abbas will have no choice but to cave in to at least some of Hamas' key demands if he wants to quell this crisis. Before that happens, however, things will get a lot bloodier, and it cannot be assured that either party will have the internal discipline to stop the gunfire.

stratfor.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #56 on: June 16, 2007, 10:49:33 AM »

WSJ

Arafat's Children
Gaza's mayhem is the bitter fruit of terror as statecraft.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Scores of Palestinians were killed this week in Gaza in factional fighting between loyalists of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and those of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas. As if on cue, it took about 24 hours before pundits the world over blamed the violence on Israel and President Bush.

This is the Israel that dismantled its settlements in Gaza in August 2005, a unilateral concession for which it asked, and got, nothing in return. And it is the U.S. President who, in a landmark speech five years ago this month, called on Palestinians to "elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." Had Palestinians done so, they could be living today in a peaceful, independent state. Instead, in January 2006 they freely handed the reins of government to Hamas in parliamentary elections. What is happening today is the result of that choice--their choice.

That election didn't simply emerge from a vacuum, however. It is a consequence of the cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history and which has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.

In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Yasser Arafat addressed the U.N.'s General Assembly--the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.
In 1973, the National Security Agency recorded Arafat's telephoned instructions to PLO terrorists to murder Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador in Sudan, and his deputy George Curtis Moore. Yet in 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from "extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud." Yet over the next several years, the Palestinian Authority would become the largest single recipient of foreign aid on a per capita basis.

In 1996, after he had formally renounced terrorism in the Oslo Accords, Arafat told a rally in Gaza that "we are committed to all martyrs who died for the cause of Jerusalem starting with Ahmed Musa until the last martyr Yihye Ayyash"--Musa being the first PLO terrorist to be killed in 1965 and Ayyash being the Hamas mastermind of a series of suicide bombings in which scores of Israeli civilians were killed. Yet the Clinton Administration continued to pretend that Arafat was an ally in the fight against Hamas. In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.

In 2005, only months after Arafat's death, Israel dismantled its settlements and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians have used the opportunity to intensify their rocket fire at civilian targets within Israel. Last month, Israeli security services arrested two Gazan women, one of them pregnant, who were planning to enter Israel on medical pretexts in order to carry out suicide attacks. Yet the same month, the World Bank issued a report faulting Israel for restricting Palestinian freedom of movement.

Now it appears Hamas has taken control of the Gaza Strip's main road and its border with Egypt, as well as the offices of the so-called Preventive Security Services, traditionally a Fatah stronghold. "They are executing them one by one," a witness told the Associated Press of Hamas's reprisals against the Preventive Security personnel.

We do not pretend to know where all this will lead. On Thursday, Mr. Abbas dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency, though he seems powerless to change the course of events in Gaza. Israel could conceivably intervene, as could Egypt, and both states have powerful reasons to prevent the emergence of a Hamastan with close links to Iran hard on their borders. But neither do they wish to become stuck in the Strip's bottomless factionalism and fanaticism.

At the same time, pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas's ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. According to this reasoning, the Bush Administration cannot demand democracy of the Palestinians and then refuse to recognize the results of a democratic election.

But leave aside the fact that Mr. Bush did not simply call for an election: Is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? The best-case scenario--a suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding--would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults. Then, too, the last thing the Palestinians need is yet further validation from the wider world that the violence they now inflict so indiscriminately works.

The deeper lesson here is that a society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing would inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. This is not the result of Mr. Bush's call for democratic responsibility; it is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.
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G M
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« Reply #57 on: June 16, 2007, 03:02:20 PM »

http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=25874_Palestinians_Flee_to_Israel&only

Oh, the irony.....
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G M
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« Reply #58 on: June 16, 2007, 03:08:46 PM »

http://www.terrorismawareness.org/what-really-happened

All about Israel and it's neighbors.
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buzwardo
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« Reply #59 on: June 18, 2007, 07:44:04 AM »

Gaza, Fatah, and Hamas


Arafat's peace prize stolen? Next to go with be Castro's Nicorette.

Looters raid Arafat's home, steal his Nobel Peace Prize

Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST   Jun. 16, 2007
Enraged Fatah leaders on Saturday accused Hamas militiamen of looting the home of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat in Gaza City.

"They stole almost everything inside the house, including Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize medal," said Ramallah-based Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman. "Hamas militiamen and gangsters blew up the main entrance to the house before storming it. They stole many of Arafat's documents and files, gifts he had received from world leaders and even his military outfits."

Abdel Rahman said the attackers also raided the second floor of the house and stole the personal belongings of his widow, Suha, and daughter, Zahwa. "They stole all the widow's clothes and shoes," he added. "They also took Arafat's pictures with his daughter."

Eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post that dozens of Palestinians participated in the raid, which took place late Friday.

"Most of the looters were just ordinary citizens," they said. "They stole almost everything, including furniture, tiles, water pipes, closets and beds."

According to the Fatah spokesman, the raid on Arafat's house, which has been empty since 2001, occurred despite promises from Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to prevent such an attack.

"The Palestinian people will never forgive the Hamas gangs for looting the home of the Palestinian people's great leader, Yasser Arafat," Abdel Rahman said. "This crime will remain a stain of disgrace on the forehead of Hamas and its despicable gangs."

The homes of several other Fatah leaders have also been looted over the past few days, Palestinian reporters in Gaza City said over the weekend. Among them are the homes of Muhammad Dahlan and Intisar al-Wazir (Um Jihad).

Wazir complained that looters stole her jewelry, furniture, clothes and family albums and the personal belongings of her husband, Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), a top PLO leader who was assassinated by Israel in 1988 in Tunis.

She said the looting occurred in broad daylight and under the watchful eye of Hamas militiamen. "We don't feel secure any more," she said. "We fear for our lives and property."

The Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various armed groups, announced over the weekend that its men stormed Dahlan's house and confiscated a suitcase full of gold, forged US and Pakistani passports and an ID card belonging to Nissim Toledano, an Israeli Border Police officer from Lod who was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in December 2002.

Following the raid, hundreds of Palestinians rampaged the house and stole all of Dahlan's furniture and clothes.

Dahlan and some 80 top Fatah officials are now staying in hotels in Ramallah. On Friday night, a group of 15 senior Fatah security commanders arrived in the city after Israel gave them permission to leave the Gaza Strip. At least 150 other Fatah security commanders and activists have fled to Egypt aboard fishing boats.

The Fatah officials who fled to Ramallah had been abducted by Hamas militiamen late Thursday night and released a few hours later. They include Jamal Kayed, commander of the PA's National Security Force; Musbah al-Buhaisi, commander of Abbas's Presidential Guard, and his deputy, Hamoudeh al-Sheikh; Tawfik Abu Khoussa, Fatah's spokesman in the Gaza Strip; and Majed Abu Shamalah, a Fatah legislator.

"What's happening in the Gaza Strip these days reminds me of the first days after the US invasion of Baghdad," said Omar al-Ghul, a columnist from Gaza City. "In Baghdad, the Iraqis stole everything they could get their hands on inside Iraqi ministries and institutions. And in Gaza City the Palestinians stormed security installations and stole everything, including windows, doors and food."

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813047962&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #60 on: June 19, 2007, 05:33:47 PM »


stratfor.com

GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT
06.19.2007

The Geopolitics of the Palestinians
By George Friedman

Last week, an important thing happened in the Middle East. Hamas, a radical Islamist political group, forcibly seized control of Gaza from rival Fatah, an essentially secular Palestinian group. The West Bank, meanwhile, remains more or less under the control of Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian National Authority in that region. Therefore, for the first time, the two distinct Palestinian territories -- the Gaza Strip and the West Bank -- no longer are under a single Palestinian authority.

Hamas has been increasing its influence among the Palestinians for years, and it got a major boost by winning the most recent election. It now has claimed exclusive control over Gaza, its historical stronghold and power base. It is not clear whether Hamas will try to take control of the West Bank as well, or whether it would succeed if it did make such a play. The West Bank is a different region with a very different dynamic. What is certain, for the moment at least, is that these regions are divided under two factions, and therefore have the potential to become two different Palestinian states.

In a way, this makes more sense than the previous arrangement. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are physically separated from one another by Israel. Travel from one part of the Palestinian territories to the other relies on Israel's willingness to permit it -- which is not always forthcoming. As a result, the Palestinian territories are divided into two areas that have limited contact.

The war between the Philistines and the Hebrews is described in the books of Samuel. The Philistines controlled the coastal lowlands of the Levant, the east coast of the Mediterranean. They had advanced technologies, such as the ability to smelt bronze, and they conducted international trade up and down the Levant and within the eastern Mediterranean. The Hebrews, unable to engage the Philistines in direct combat, retreated into the hills to the east of the coast, in Judea, the area now called the West Bank.

The Philistines were part of a geographical entity that ran from Gaza north to Turkey. The Hebrews were part of the interior that connected north to Syria, south into the Arabian deserts and east across the Jordan. The Philistines were unable to pursue the Hebrews in the interior, and the Hebrews -- until David -- were unable to dislodge the Philistines from the coast. Two distinct entities existed.

Today, Gaza is tied to the coastal system, which Israel and Lebanon now occupy. Gaza is the link between the Levantine coast and Egypt. The West Bank is not a coastal entity but a region whose ties are to the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan and Syria. The point is that Gaza and the West Bank are very distinct geographical entities that see the world in very different ways.

Gaza, its links to the north cut by the Israelis, historically has been oriented toward the Egyptians, who occupied the region until 1967. The Egyptians influenced the region by creating the Palestine Liberation Organization, while Egypt's dissident Muslim Brotherhood helped influence the creation of Hamas in 1987. The West Bank, part of Jordan until 1967, is larger and more complex in its social organization, and it really represented the center of gravity of Palestinian nationalism under Fatah. Gaza and the West Bank were always separate entities, and the recent action by Hamas has driven home that point.

Hamas' victory in Gaza means much more to the Palestinians and Egyptians than it does to the Israelis -- at least in the shorter term. The fear in Israel now is that Gaza, under Hamas, will become more aggressive in carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel. Hamas certainly has an ideology that argues for this, and it is altogether possible that the group will become more antagonistic. However, it appears to us that Hamas already was capable of carrying out as many attacks as it wished before taking complete control. Moreover, by increasing attacks now, Hamas -- which always has been able to deny responsibility for these incidents -- would lose the element of deniability. Having taken control of Gaza, regardless of whether it carries out attacks, it would have failed to prevent them. Hamas' leadership is more vulnerable now than ever before.

Let's consider the strategic position of the Palestinians. Their primary weapon against Israel remains what it always has been: random attacks against civilian targets designed to destabilize Israel. The problem with this strategy is obvious. Using terrorism against Americans in Iraq is potentially effective as a strategy. If the Americans cannot stand the level of casualties being imposed, they have the option of leaving Iraq. Although leaving might pose serious problems to U.S. regional and global interests, it would not affect the continued existence of the United States. Therefore, the insurgents potentially could find a threshold that would force the United States to fold.

The Israelis cannot leave Israel. Assume for the moment that the Palestinians could impose 1,000 civilian casualties a year. There are about 5 million Jews in Israel. That would be about 0.02 percent casualties. The Israelis are not going to leave Israel at that casualty rate, or at a rate a thousand times greater. Unlike the Americans, for whom Iraq is a subsidiary interest, Israel is Israel's central interest. Israel is not going to capitulate to the Palestinians over terrorism attacks.

The Israelis could be convinced to make political concessions in shaping a Palestinian state. For example, they might concede more land or more autonomy in order to stop the attacks. That might have been attractive to Fatah, but Hamas explicitly rejects the existence of Israel and therefore gives the Israelis no reason to make concessions. That means that while attacks might be psychologically satisfying to Hamas, they would be substantially less effective than the attacks that were carried out while Fatah was driving the negotiations. Bargaining with Hamas gets Israel nothing.

One of the uses of terrorism is to trigger an Israeli response, which in turn can be used to drive a wedge between Israel and the West. Fatah has been historically skillful at using the cycle of violence to its political advantage. Hamas, however, is handicapped in two ways: First, its position on Israel is perceived as much less reasonable than Fatah's. Second, Hamas is increasingly being viewed as a jihadist movement, and, as such, its strength threatens European and U.S. interests.

Although Israel does not want terrorist attacks, such attacks do not represent a threat to the survival of the state. To be cold-blooded, they are an irritant, not a strategic threat. The only thing that could threaten the survival of Israel, apart from a nuclear barrage, would be a shift in position of neighboring states. Right now, Israel has peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan, and an adequately working relationship with Syria. With Egypt and Jordan out of the game, Syria does not represent a threat. Israel is strategically secure.

The single most important neighbor Israel has is Egypt. When energized, it is the center of gravity of the Arab world. Under former President Gamal Abdul Nasser, Egypt drove Arab hostility to Israel. Once Anwar Sadat reversed Nasser's strategy on Israel, the Jewish state was basically secure. Other Arab nations could not threaten it unless Egypt was part of the equation. And for nearly 30 years, Egypt has not been part of the equation. But if Egypt were to reverse its position, Israel would, over time, find itself much less comfortable. Though Saudi Arabia has recently overshadowed Egypt's role in the Arab world, the Egyptians can always opt back into a strong leadership position and use their strength to threaten Israel. This becomes especially important as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's health fails and questions are raised about whether his successors will be able to maintain control of the country while the Muslim Brotherhood spearheads a campaign to demand political reform.

As we have said, Gaza is part of the Mediterranean coastal system. Egypt controlled Gaza until 1967 and retained influence there afterward, but not in the West Bank. Hamas also was influenced by Egypt, but not by Mubarak's government. Hamas was an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which the Mubarak regime has done a fairly good job of containing, primarily through force. But there also is a significant paradox in Hamas' relations with Egypt. The Mubarak regime, particularly through its intelligence chief (and prospective Mubarak successor) Omar Suleiman, has good working relations with Hamas, despite being tough on the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is the threat to Israel. Hamas has ties to Egypt and resonates with Egyptians, as well as with Saudis. Its members are religious Sunnis. If the creation of an Islamist Palestinian state in Gaza succeeds, the most important blowback might be in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood -- which is currently lying very low -- could be rekindled. Mubarak is growing old, and he hopes to be succeeded by his son. The credibility of the regime is limited, to say the least.

Hamas is unlikely to take over the West Bank -- and, even if it did, it still would make no strategic difference. Increased terrorist attacks against Israel's population would achieve less than the attacks that occurred while Fatah was negotiating. They could happen, but they would lead nowhere. Hamas' long-term strategy -- indeed, the only hope of the Palestinians who not prepared to accept a compromise with Israel -- is for Egypt to change its tune toward Israel, which could very well involve energizing Islamist forces in Egypt and bringing about the fall of the Mubarak regime. That is the key to any solution for Hamas.

Although many are focusing on the rise of Iran's influence in Gaza, putting aside the rhetoric, Iran is a minor player in the Israeli-Palestinian equation. Even Syria, despite hosting Hamas' exiled leadership, carries little weight when it comes to posing a strategic threat to Israel. But Egypt carries enormous weight. If an Islamist rising occurred in Egypt and a regime was installed that could energize the Egyptian public against Israel, then that would reflect a strategic threat to the survival of the Israeli state. It would not be an immediate threat -- it would take a generation to turn Egypt into a military power -- but it would ultimately represent a threat.

Only a disciplined and hostile Egypt could serve as the cornerstone of an anti-Israel coalition. Hamas, by asserting itself in Gaza -- especially if it can resist the Israeli army -- could strike the chord in Egypt that Fatah has been unable to strike for almost 30 years.

That is the importance of the creation of a separate Gaza entity; it complicates Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and probably makes them impossible. And this in and of itself works in Israel's favor, since it has no need to even entertain negotiations with the Palestinians as long as the Palestinians continue dividing themselves. If Hamas were to make significant inroads in the West Bank, it would make things more difficult for Israel, as well as for Jordan. But with or without the West Bank, Hamas has the potential -- not the certainty, just the potential -- to reach west along the Mediterranean coast and influence events in Egypt. And that is the key for Hamas.

There are probably a dozen reasons why Hamas made the move it did, most of them trivial and limited to local problems. But the strategic consequence of an independent, Islamist Gaza is that it can act both as a symbol and as a catalyst for change in Egypt, something that was difficult as long as Hamas was entangled with the West Bank. This probably was not planned, but it is certainly the most important consequence -- intended or not -- of the Gaza affair.

Two things must be monitored: first, whether there is reconciliation between Gaza and the West Bank and, if so, on what sort of terms; second, what the Egyptian Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood do now that Hamas, their own creation, has taken control of Gaza, a region once controlled by the Egyptians.

Egypt is the place to watch.
 
© Copyright 2007 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.
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« Reply #61 on: June 27, 2007, 12:03:23 AM »

WSJ 
GLOBAL VIEW
By BRET STEPHENS   
Bret Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. He joined the Journal in New York in 1998 as a features editor and moved to Brussels the following year to work as an editorial writer for the paper's European edition. In 2002, Mr. Stephens, then 28, became editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, where he was responsible for its news, editorial, electronic and international divisions, and where he also wrote a weekly column. He returned to his present position in late 2004 and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum the following year.

Mr. Stephens was raised in Mexico City and educated at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. He lives with his family in New York City. He invites comments to bstephens@wsj.com.

 
Who Killed Palestine?
June 26, 2007; Page A14
Bill Clinton did it. Yasser Arafat did it. So did George W. Bush, Yitzhak Rabin, Hosni Mubarak, Ariel Sharon, Al-Jazeera and the BBC. The list of culprits in the whodunit called "Who Killed Palestine?" is neither short nor mutually exclusive. But since future historians are bound to ask the question, let's get a head start by suggesting some answers.

And make no mistake: No matter how much diplomatic, military and financial oxygen is pumped into Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, it's oxygen flowing to a corpse. Palestine has always been a notional place, a field of dreams belonging only to those who know how to keep it. Israelis have held on to their state because they were able to develop the political, military and economic institutions that a state requires to survive, beginning with its monopoly on the use of legitimate force. In its nearly 14 years as an autonomous entity, the PA has succeeded in none of that, despite being on the receiving end of unprecedented international good will and largesse.

 
Hamas's seizure of the Gaza Strip this month -- and the consequent division of the PA into two hostile, geographically distinct camps -- is only the latest in a chain of events set in motion when Israel agreed, in September 1993, to accept Arafat and the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. An early indicator of what lay ahead took place on July 1, 1994, when Arafat made his triumphal entry into Gaza while carrying, in the trunk of his Mercedes, four of the Palestinian cause's most violent partisans. Among them were the organizers of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and the 1974 Ma'alot school massacre. If ever there was an apt metaphor for what Arafat's rule would bring, this was it.

Arafat was determined to use Gaza and the West Bank as a staging ground for attacks against Israel, and he said so publicly and repeatedly: "O Haifa, O Jerusalem, you are returning, you are returning" (1995); "We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion" (1996); "With blood and spirit we will redeem you, Palestine" (1997). With equal determination, the Clinton administration and the Israeli governments of Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak treated Arafat's remarks as only so much rhetorical bluster. Mr. Clinton desperately wanted a Nobel Peace Prize; Israelis wanted out of the occupation business at almost any cost. These were respectable goals, but neither had as its primary aim the creation of a respectable Palestinian state.

Later, after the second intifada had erupted in all its suicidal frenzy, former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross would admit the Clinton administration became too obsessed with process at the expense of substance. He should give himself more credit. The decision to legitimize Arafat was Israel's, not America's; once he was brought inside the proverbial tent he was bound to put a match to it. Still, the Clinton administration elevated Arafat like no other leader of the 1990s. If the rais came to flatter himself as a second Saladin, the flattery of White House banquets surely played a role.

The global media also did their bit in Arafat's elevation. Successive generations of Jerusalem bureau chiefs developed a conveniently even-handed narrative pitting moderates on both sides against extremists on both sides -- a narrative in which Arafat was a "moderate" and Ariel Sharon was an "extremist." When Mr. Sharon took his famous walk on the Temple Mount in September 2000, it was easy to cast him as the villain and Palestinian rioters -- and, later, suicide bombers -- as the justifiably aggrieved. Cheering Palestinians on from the sidelines were the Arab media and the governments that own them, happy to channel domestic discontent toward a foreign drama.

As with individuals, nations generally benefit from self-criticism, and sometimes from the criticism of others. No people in modern history have been so immune from both as the Palestinians. In 1999, Abdel Sattar Kassem, a professor of political science in the Palestinian city of Nablus, put his name to the "petition of the 20," written to "stand against [Arafat's] tyranny and corruption." Arafat imprisoned him; the rest of the world barely took notice. Arafat's global popularity reached its apogee in the spring of 2002, exactly at the same time the civilian Israeli death toll from terrorism reached its height.

Yet what served Arafat's interests well served Palestinian interests poorly. Arafat learned from his experience with Mr. Clinton that one could bamboozle an American president and not pay a price. George W. Bush took a different view and effectively shut the Palestinians out of his agenda. Arafat learned from the "international community" that no one would look too closely at where its foreign aid was spent. But a reputation for theft has been the undoing of Fatah. Arafat thought he could harness the religious power of "martyrdom" to his political ends. But at the core of every suicide bombing is an act of self-destruction, and a nation that celebrates the former inevitably courts the latter.

Above all, Arafat equated territory with power. But what the experience of an unoccupied Gaza Strip has shown is the Palestinians' unfitness for political sovereignty. There are no Jewish settlers to blame for Gaza's plight anymore, no Israeli soldiers to be filmed demolishing Palestinian homes. The Israeli right, which came to detest Mr. Sharon for pulling out of the Strip, might reconsider its view of the man and the deed. Nothing has so completely soured the world on the idea of a Palestinian state as the experience of it.

What does this mean for the future? At yesterday's summit in Egypt, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah threw rose petals at Mr. Abbas's feet. But the potentates of the Middle East will not midwife into existence a state the chief political movement of which has claims to both democratic and Islamist legitimacy. The U.S. and Israel will never bless Hamastan (even if the EU and the U.N. come around to it) and they can only do so much for the feckless Mr. Abbas. "Palestine," as we know it today, will revert to what it was -- shadowland between Israel and its neighbors -- and Palestinians, as we know them today, will revert to who they were: Arabs.

Whether there might have been a better outcome is anyone's guess. But the dream that was Palestine is finally dead.

 
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« Reply #62 on: July 03, 2007, 09:20:39 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Hamas' Break Point
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Hamas has arrested the spokesman for the Army of Islam, the group that is holding British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said on Monday. The arrest comes exactly two weeks after Hamas publicly announced that it would free Johnston from his jihadist captors "using all means necessary."

Hamas' recent actions are part of its Gaza leadership's strategy to illustrate the group's political legitimacy in the wake of its June 15 takeover in Gaza. This also explains why Hamas recently killed off the infamous Mickey Mouse look-alike character that urged Palestinian children to kill Israelis in a children's TV show aired on a Hamas-owned station. After getting serious flack for using a Western Disney character to promote jihad, the producers at the station had the character beaten to death in the show's final episode by a character posing as an Israeli.

But these gestures alone are not enough to get the West to take Hamas seriously as a political player. Regardless of whether Hamas realizes it, the Gaza takeover has forced the group to make some serious decisions as to whether it can continue on its political path. Hamas' political evolution was first influenced by its predecessors of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which led a successful strategy of using grassroots work and social services to build up popular support. Hamas also closely watched as Hezbollah in Lebanon used its grassroots network to buy support, promote itself as a noncorrupt alternative and gradually integrate itself into the political system while maintaining its militant wing to defend its constituency against Israel. In essence, Hamas wanted to ensure the longevity of its militant arm by pursuing a political future.

At first, Hamas' political debut appeared to have gone better than the group's leaders had hoped. The group won (an unexpected) landslide victory in the March 2006 election that included sizable gains in the Fatah-dominated West Bank, in addition to Hamas strongholds in Gaza. At that time, Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank was in progress, which gave Hamas a strong political basis to claim that it was its armed campaign -- not Fatah's corruption and ineptitude -- that forced the Israelis to withdraw.

However, a successful evolution of a militant group into a political organization takes time. That way, the group can internally prepare itself as well as its constituency to make the necessary political concessions to achieve legitimacy and international recognition. So when Hamas was handed the reins of the government, and the West promptly cut off funds to the Palestinian National Authority, the group quickly realized it had more political responsibility than it was ready for or even willing to handle. Soon enough, a bloody factional struggle broke out between Hamas and Fatah over control of the security apparatus. The cutoff of funds combined with the number of people with guns on the streets not getting paid threw the Palestinian government into crisis mode. There were notable attempts to come up with a power-sharing agreement, such as the Saudi-brokered Mecca agreement, but the battle over the security forces broke the deal apart each time.

Things got messy enough that Hamas figured it could forcibly back Fatah into a corner through a major Gaza offensive. That way Hamas would be negotiating from a position of strength to force Fatah into giving in to its demands over the security forces in yet another power-sharing arrangement.

But Hamas overstepped, and Israel quickly saw an opportunity to keep the Palestinians further divided (and busy fighting each other). Hamas' Gaza takeover divided the Palestinian territories into de facto ministates, effectively precluding the need for Israel to even entertain having serious negotiations with the Palestinians. Hamas, locked into the Gaza Strip, now finds itself even more handicapped than before. Yet Fatah does not have the capability to impose its influence in the West Bank, much less Gaza, on its own. In other words the situation is untenable, and another Egyptian-led mediation effort will result in yet another doomed power-sharing agreement. The political stagnation in the territories will continue.

There is a larger issue in play, however. Faced with the blowback of the Gaza takeover, Hamas is now deliberating whether it is really worth going down the political road. Though Hamas has traditionally been the most disciplined and organized of Palestinian militant outfits, there is a serious rift within the group's Syrian-based exiled leadership and local Gaza-based leadership over whether Hamas can or should make political concessions, such as recognizing Israel, to make this plan work. But without these concessions, Israel and the West will not allow Hamas to function as a governing authority and will continue to withhold funds. The group simply does not have the economic means to sustain itself or its populace -- Gaza is essentially a refugee camp that is wholly dependent on foreign aid. This directly impacts Hamas because it will see a gradual loss of public support as the party is blamed for its hardship.

Whether Hamas decides to give up on the political agenda remains to be seen. This is an issue that will take time to deliberate within the group and will likely lead to greater internal fissures. It is important to note that there has never been a militant group comparable to Hamas in political and economic position that has tried the political experiment, failed, reverted back to militancy and did not severely fracture. Hamas will still have plenty of sponsors in the region to prop the group up, but regardless of whether Hamas realized it when the order was given to launch the Gaza offensive, the group looks to be facing a similar fate.
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« Reply #63 on: July 18, 2007, 07:55:36 AM »

The Bush Doctrine Lives
The president isn't selling out Israel or relaxing his call for Palestinian democracy.

BY MICHAEL B. OREN
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

JERUSALEM--Newspapers in Israel yesterday were full of stories about President Bush's call on Monday for the creation of a Palestinian state and an international peace conference. While Israeli officials were quoted expressing satisfaction with the fact that "there were no changes in Bush's policies," commentators questioned whether the Saudis would participate in such a gathering and whether Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with his single-digit approval ratings, could uproot Israeli settlers from the West Bank.

But all the focus on the conference misses the point. Mr. Bush has not backtracked an inch from his revolutionary Middle East policy. Never before has any American president placed the onus of demonstrating a commitment to peace so emphatically on Palestinian shoulders. Though Mr. Bush insisted that Israel refrain from further settlement expansion and remove unauthorized outposts, the bulk of his demands were directed at the Palestinians.

"The Palestinian people must decide that they want a future of decency and hope," he said, "not a future of terror and death. They must match their words denouncing terror with action to combat terror."

According to Mr. Bush, the Palestinians can only achieve statehood by first stopping all attacks against Israel, freeing captured Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, and ridding the Palestinian Authority of corruption. They must also detach themselves from the invidious influence of Syria and Iran: "Nothing less is acceptable."

In addition to the prerequisites stipulated for the Palestinians, Mr. Bush set unprecedented conditions for Arab participation in peace efforts. He exhorted Arab leaders to emulate "peacemakers like Anwar Sadat and King Hussein of Jordan" by ending anti-Semitic incitement in their media and dropping the fiction of Israel's non-existence. More dramatically, Mr. Bush called on those Arab governments that have yet to establish relations with Israel to recognize its right to exist and to authorize ministerial missions to the Jewish state.

Accordingly, Saudi Arabia, which has offered such recognition but only in return for a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders, will have to accept Israel prior to any territorial concessions. Mr. Bush also urged Arab states to wage an uncompromising battle against Islamic extremism and, in the case of Egypt and Jordan, to open their borders to Palestinian trade.

If the Israeli media largely overlooked the diplomatic innovations of Mr. Bush's speech, they completely missed its dynamic territorial and demographic dimensions. The president pledged to create a "contiguous" Palestinian state--code for assuring unbroken Palestinian sovereignty over most of the West Bank and possibly designating a West Bank-Gaza corridor. On the other hand, the president committed to seek a peace agreement based on "mutually agreed borders" and "current realities," which is a euphemism for Israel's retention of West Bank settlement blocks and no return to the 1967 lines.

Most momentous, however, was Mr. Bush's affirmation that "the United States will never abandon . . . the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people." This means nothing less than the rejection of the Palestinians' immutable demand for the resettlement of millions of refugees and their descendents in Israel. America is now officially dedicated to upholding Israel's Jewish majority and preventing its transformation into a de facto Palestinian state.

Beyond these elements, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's vision was the international conference. The Israeli press hastened to interpret this as a framework for expediting the advent of Palestinian statehood, yet it is clear that the conference is not intended to produce a state but rather to monitor the Palestinians' progress in building viable civic and democratic institutions. The goal, Mr. Bush said, will be to "help the Palestinians establish . . . a strong and lasting society" with "effective governing structures, a sound financial system, and the rule of law."





Specifically, the conference will assist in reforming the Palestinian Authority, strengthening its security forces, and encouraging young Palestinians to participate in politics. Ultimate responsibility for laying these sovereign foundations, however, rests not with the international community but solely with the Palestinians themselves: "By following this path, Palestinians can reclaim their dignity and their future . . . [and] answer their people's desire to live in peace."
Unfortunately, many of these pioneering components in Mr. Bush's speech were either implicitly or obliquely stated, and one might have wished for a more unequivocal message, such as that conveyed in his June 2002 speech on the Middle East. Still, there can be no underrating the sea change in America's policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict brought about by this administration. If, under U.N. Resolution 242, Israelis were expected to relinquish territory and only then receive peace, now the Arabs will have to cede many aspects of peace--non-belligerency and recognition--well in advance of receiving territory.

Similarly, Mr. Bush's commitment to maintain Israel's Jewish majority signals the total rescinding of American support for Resolution 194, which provided for refugee return. Moreover, by insisting that the Palestinians first construct durable and transparent institutions before attaining independence, Mr. Bush effectively reversed the process, set out in the 1993 Oslo Accords, whereby the Palestinians would obtain statehood immediately and only later engage in institution building. Peace-for-land, preserving the demographic status quo, and building a civil society prior to achieving statehood--these are the pillars of Mr. Bush's doctrine on peace.

But will it work? Given the Palestinians' historical inability to sustain sovereign structures and their repeated (1938, 1947, 1979, 2000) rejection of offers of a state, the chances hardly seem sanguine.

Much of the administration's hope for a breakthrough rests on the Palestinians' newly appointed prime minister, Salaam Fayyad, who is purportedly incorruptible. Nevertheless, one righteous man is unlikely to succeed in purging the Palestinian Authority of embezzlement and graft and uniting its multiple militias.

The Saudis will probably balk at the notion of recognizing Israel before it exits the West Bank and Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees throughout the region will certainly resist any attempt to prevent them from regaining their former homes. Iran and Syria and their Hamas proxies can be counted on to undermine the process at every stage, often with violence.





Yet, despite the scant likelihood of success, Mr. Bush is to be credited for delineating clear and equitable criteria for pursuing Palestinian independence and for drafting a principled blueprint for peace. This alone represents a bold response to Hamas and its backers in Damascus and Tehran. The Palestinians have been given their diplomatic horizon and the choice between "chaos, suffering, and the endless perpetuation of grievance," and "security and a better life."
So, too, the president is to be commended for not taking the easy route of railroading the Palestinians to self-governance under a regime that would almost certainly implode. Now his paramount task is to stand by the benchmarks his administration has established, and to hold both Palestinians and Israelis accountable for any failure to meet them.

Mr. Oren is a fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and the author of "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present" (Norton, 2007).

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« Reply #64 on: July 19, 2007, 10:22:50 AM »

ISRAEL/SYRIA: Israeli President Shimon Peres called for direct peace talks with Syria, saying the leaders of both countries should meet as a symbolic gesture of "mutual recognition." The statement comes after it was revealed that Israel has been passing messages to Syria secretly via Turkish envoys since February. Syrian President Bashar al Assad said July 17 that Syria would be open to talks if Israel promised to withdraw from the Golan Heights.

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« Reply #65 on: July 21, 2007, 08:44:30 AM »

Veteran
Israel's new president on Iran's nuclear program--and his own.

BY JUDITH MILLER
Saturday, July 21, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

JERUSALEM--Shimon Peres had not even been sworn in as Israel's ninth president last Sunday when he began making news. While vowing to use his new post to "unify" his deeply polarized country and "speak to all Israelis," Mr. Peres told the Associated Press only hours before his induction that Israel must "get rid of" the territories it has occupied for 40 years and, by implication, the Jewish settlements he helped create. A majority of Israelis agreed with him, he asserted.

"Even before entering his job, he is doing everything to divide the nation . . . and playing into the hands of his friends--the murderers of the PLO," said Zvi Hendel, a Knesset member who represents the influential settler movement. When Mr. Peres took the oath of office in Israel's parliament later that day, a few outraged parliamentarians, unlike most Knesset members, Cabinet officials and 1,000 guests at the nostalgic ceremony, refused to stand, much less applaud.

The provocative declaration was vintage Mr. Peres. In a single sentence, the 83-year-old veteran of veterans--he has held virtually every available possible cabinet job, some of them twice--signaled his determination to use what has traditionally been a ceremonial post to press for peace, fight poverty and promote issues he has long seen as vital to Israel's national security. "The Jews have never been satisfied, neither personally nor collectively," he told me. "And they are right to be so. When you're satisfied, you become a bore."





Judging by its debut, President Peres's tenure will not be boring. During our 90-minute interview and subsequent lunch, at a hotel not far from the Knesset, Mr. Peres seemed to revel in his role as presidential provocateur.
Was he worried about an Iranian atomic bomb? I asked the man who led Israel's successful, once-secret effort to acquire nuclear weapons.

"Terrorism and the warming of the earth are the two great threats to Israel," he began.

Global warming?

Yes, he insisted, the warming of the "earth's refrigerator" ranks second only to terrorism in terms of threat. One day, Israeli homes, factories and cars will run on solar energy. "Better to depend on the sun than the Saudis," he said.

Israel's top threat, however, is nuclear terrorism. Now that President Bush has "boldly and courageously" toppled Saddam Hussein--he declined to give advice about whether, how and when Mr. Bush should bring American forces home--the theocratic rulers in Tehran are Israel's greatest challenge. Iran "wants to destroy all that is modern. But it is a failed state," he said. When the mullahs seized power after the 1979 revolution, Iran had 30 million people; today it has 70 million.

"The regime cannot feed them," Mr. Peres said. There is corruption and drugs, and Persians are barely 50% of the population." The regime, like the Soviet Union, will eventually fail.

But would it do so before acquiring atomic weapons?

"Will the Muslim world enter the modern age before Iran and terrorists get the bomb?" he said, answering a question with a question. No one knows, he continued.

The prospect of nuclear arms controlled by fanatical mullahs and the terrorists they support threatens not only Israel, but all states. "So the world will unite against them," he said. If there is a united front against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "he will lose."

Europe, including Russia, will apply financial pressure on Tehran, he predicted. Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he had recently met, "understands" the threat. "He knows that Chechnya has a Muslim majority and that Russia is losing population," according to Mr. Peres. Meanwhile, the election of Angela Merkel in Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy in France, and the emergence of Labour's Gordon Brown in Britain means "there is a different Europe now."

Mr. Peres went on to say that using military force against Iranian nuclear targets would be premature, since it is possible that Iran could still be deterred by peaceful means. But military action is not off the table. If peaceful deterrence fails, "the red line" on force has to be set by a united front. "It would be the greatest mistake for Israel to draw that line," he warned.

Is Tehran not justified in seeking nuclear weapons given Israel's development of them?

Mr. Peres bristled. "Pakistan did it before us, and India," he asserted, apparently referring to the nuclear tests of those two countries. (Israel has never acknowledged testing a weapon.) His comment would seem to be a departure, by the way, from Israel's steadfast refusal to publicly confirm or deny its possession of what analysts estimate is a nuclear arsenal of some 300 weapons. And "Dimona helped us achieve peace with Egypt," he added, referring to the site of the country's largest nuclear reactor. "Sadat said it openly."

It's preposterous to compare Israel and Iran, Mr. Peres continued. While Israel is determined "not to be the first to introduce nuclear bombs in the Middle East," he said, returning to Israel's deliberate ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities--a policy he helped formulate in 1963 as deputy defense minister, and for which he was fiercely criticized--"Iran's leadership says openly they want to wipe us out."

While Mr. Peres said he wanted Tehran to worry about his country's intentions and capabilities, he added that Israel might not be troubled by a nuclearized Iran under non-militant stewardship. "We learned to live with Pakistan," he said. An Iran ruled by moderates "would be a different thing altogether." The peace process itself, or "peace processes," as he called them, are to some extent leadership-dependent.

Mr. Peres doubted, for instance, that peace would be possible with a Syria led by Bashar Assad. As long as Mr. Assad keeps encouraging radical Shiite Hezbollah and undermining Lebanon's integrity, "President Bush is right to resist direct negotiations," he said.





At the same time, Mr. Peres insisted there is now "a good opportunity to make peace with the Palestinians" whose militant Islamic party, Hamas, has rejected the West-Bank-based leadership and seized control of Gaza, the impoverished home of 1.5 million Palestinians.
"We must choose the PLO or Hamas," he said, referring with little nostalgia to the party founded and led by the late Yasser Arafat, who in 2000 finally torpedoed the Oslo peace process that Mr. Peres had secretly launched as Yitzhak Rabin's deputy in the early 1990s. In the Oslo Accords of 1993, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to divide the land that both claimed--precisely where was one of several key issues deliberately left to be clarified in "final status" talks that did not occur.

Though Mr. Rabin--Mr. Peres's long-time rival--Arafat, and he won the Nobel prize for what was then hailed prematurely as the end of the protracted Arab-Israeli conflict, Oslo crashed and burned in 2000 in a resurgence of Palestinian violence.

"Let the Gazans do whatever they want," Mr. Peres said. "We shouldn't stop delivering water or electricity and other basic necessities to them. But if Hamas fires at us, they should not expect thank-you notes. We will strike back. And we will negotiate with the West Bank Palestinian Authority wherever they are," he said. Such negotiations would be no favor to the Palestinians, Mr. Peres insisted.

Mr. Peres left the Labor Party where he had spent most of his political life to join former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new Kadima faction, he said, only after Mr. Sharon had accepted his argument that the land had to be divided. Israel had little choice, he argued: Continued occupation of the territories would result either in a non-Jewish Israeli state, or a nondemocratic one, or both. "We cannot defeat or manage the territories," Mr. Peres asserted.

As he discussed Israel's fateful choices and his own policy preferences, Mr. Peres sounded more like a ruling prime minister than a ceremonial president. And with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's approval ratings in the single digits, Mr. Peres is in fact likely to enjoy more political latitude than he would have under a strong, popular leader.

Does he think that Mr. Olmert's government will survive the upcoming report by a commission investigating his disastrous stewardship of last summer's Lebanon war, as well as the various corruption investigations against the prime minister?

"I wouldn't exclude it," Mr. Peres replied--hardly the ringing endorsement that Mr. Olmert gave him in lobbying Knesset members to support his presidency.

But Mr. Olmert's embrace of Mr. Peres was also coolly calculated--aimed not only at strengthening his faltering Kadima, but eliminating a potential rival for Israel's top job. Even at his advanced age, associates said, Mr. Peres had flirted with the notion of becoming prime minister again, the post Israelis had denied him after Rabin's assassination in 1996.

Despite Israel's mistakes and failings, Mr. Peres said, its greatest days are ahead, thanks to globalization. Israel's once agriculture-based economy has been "revolutionized by 15,000-20,000 young people" who have replaced vegetables and fruit with high-tech exports, a once-mocked Peres "vision." "It's the individual capacity to create that counts today," he said. "It's a Jewish age."

In a globalized world, Jews will excel, Mr. Peres went on to say. His own son is but one example. Nehemia Peres, known as "Chemi," 49, the youngest of his three children, heads a venture capital firm called Pitango which is headquartered in one of the glass skyscrapers in Herzliya, a Tel Aviv suburb. Founded in 1993, Pitango now employs 35 people and has invested some $1.2 billion in 130 hi-tech, high-growth start-up companies owned by young Israelis at home and abroad.

"My father is not just a dreamer, he's a doer," said Chemi Peres, 49, the morning after his father's swearing in. "I've seen enough of his dreams come true--Dimona, the development of an indigenous aircraft industry, peace with Egypt and Jordan, an economy of Israeli billionaires"--not exactly the dream of Israel's founders--"in which $2 billion a year is invested each year in over 1,000 companies." And all despite the lack of peace with the Palestinians.





The elder Mr. Peres might have been elected president seven years ago, but the Knesset rejected him in favor of Moshe Katzav, a lackluster former minister from the conservative Likud Party. This was his father's most frustrating and humiliating defeat, Chemi Peres said.
But Mt. Katzav, like President Ezer Weizman before him, was forced out of office by scandal. On the day of Mr. Peres's induction, Mr. Katzav was reportedly closeted with his lawyers discussing a plea bargain in which he had acknowledged charges of forcible indecent assault and sexual harassment in lieu of graver accusations of having raped former female employees.

Some Israelis quietly fear that this presidency, too, may end in tears. Mr. Peres, who will turn 84 in August, is the oldest person ever to hold the post. He would be 91 if he completes two three-and-a-half year terms. "I'm healthy," Mr. Peres replied when I asked about this concern. "I was 12 pounds when born. I nearly killed my mother."

Most Israelis welcomed Mr. Peres's inauguration as president last week. They may be hoping he can restore to the now tarnished office dignity and honor at home, as well as its lost stature and moral authority abroad. But it says something disturbing that, despite the country's impressive prosperity and scientific achievements, there is no one younger on the political scene to play this role.

Ms. Miller, a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, is a writer based in New York.

 
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« Reply #66 on: July 21, 2007, 05:26:54 PM »

****Right of return?****

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=24c7c36b-d5e2-40ed-8a82-1e8d386f1aa9

Cotler urges recognition of Jewish refugees
Former justice minister says UN failing to consider thousands of Jews driven from Arab lands after 1948
 
Steven Edwards
CanWest News Service

Friday, July 20, 2007

NEW YORK -- Former justice minister Irwin Cotler and other Canadian scholars presented the U.S. Congress on Thursday with its first testimony on Jews driven from Arab lands following Israel's creation in 1948.

"The time has come to rectify this historical injustice," Cotler told members of the congressional human rights caucus in Washington in a written statement.

The witnesses were among experts helping U.S. lawmakers decide on a pair of bills that would oblige the Bush administration to actively oppose the Arab-led practice in Middle East peace efforts to speak only of Palestinian refugees.

While key Arab voices continue to push for a "right of return" for descendants of some 600,000 Palestinians whose pre-1948 homes are now inside Israel, the general discourse for decades has all but ignored the tens of thousands of Jews, Christians and other minorities who were similarly turned into refugees.

Cotler charged that the United Nations bears "express responsibility for the distorted narrative." Arab countries have mustered majority backing from Muslim and developing states to pass 101 UN resolutions that refer only to Palestinian refugees.

Jews in Arab lands totalled almost 900,000 in 1948, but there are fewer than 8,000 in 10 Arab countries today, Cotler said. Arab countries counter that 3.7 million Palestinians remain in refugee camps in the region, whereas Jewish refugees moved on to new lives in Israel and elsewhere.

Cotler is considered a leading expert on the issue, having helped produce a 2003 study entitled Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights and Redress.

Co-authored by fellow Canadian Stan Urman, who also testified in Washington, the study spoke of new evidence that Arab states reacted to the creation of Israel by orchestrating the persecution of their Jewish citizens.

"Today, we cannot allow a second injustice, namely for the international community to recognize rights for [only] one victim population," said Urman, executive director of New York-based Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.

The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to vote before the end of the year on the bills that prompted the hearing.

The Senate bill urges President George W. Bush to ensure that the peace process acknowledges that the Arab-Israeli conflict has created "multiple refugee populations."

The House document would ensure that any peace agreement addresses the rights of all refugees, "including Jews, Christians, and other populations displaced from countries in the region."

The legislation is significant because the U.S., along with Russia, the UN and the European Union, is one of the four international powers seeking to restart the stalled Middle East peace process.

The congressional hearing unfolded as former British prime minister Tony Blair, in his new job as the special Middle East envoy for the four powers, met in Lisbon with representatives of the so-called Quartet.
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« Reply #67 on: July 25, 2007, 11:58:31 AM »

1120 GMT -- ISRAEL -- An Arab League delegation arrived in Israel on July 25 to promote the league's Middle East peace plan. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib were to conduct talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert later in the day.

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« Reply #68 on: July 26, 2007, 02:01:38 PM »

ISRAEL: Israel should end its occupation of the West Bank, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during an interview with the U.S.-sponsored Arabic radio station Radio Sawa. Citing a recent speech by U.S. President George W. Bush, Rice added that, in the long term, Israel should focus on developing the Galilee and Negev regions rather than developing the occupied West Bank.
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« Reply #69 on: August 14, 2007, 10:58:00 AM »

(IsraelNN.com) Arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat’s doctor has confirmed the long-circulating rumors that the PLO chairman had AIDS – though the doctor insists Israel poisoned Arafat as well, causing his death.

Rumors have long circulated in both Israel and the Palestinian Authority that Arafat’s symptoms prior to his death were caused by AIDS. Within the PA, Israel has always been accused of poisoning the PLO chairman.

Now, Arafat’s private doctor has joined other PLO officials in acknowledging that Arafat had the HIV virus, but is holding on to the claim that Israel was responsible for his ultimate demise, in a French hospital.

Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi told the Jordanian Amman News Agency that Arafat did, in fact, have AIDS – but insisted that the HIV virus was injected into the chairman’s bloodstream, and not the result of illicit sexual activity.

Al-Jazeera interrupted an interview with al-Kurdi due to his mention of Arafat’s having had AIDS.

French doctors who treated Arafat insisted after his death that he had died of a massive stroke after suffering intestinal inflammation, jaundice and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a blood condition.

Another Arafat aide, Bassam Abu Sharif, accused former French President Jacques Chirac of withholding knowledge that Israel killed Arafat with a substance that destroys red blood cells.

Even before Arafat died, US author and intelligence expert John Loftus said on the John Batchelor Show on WABC radio on October 26 that it was widely known in CIA circles that Arafat was dying from AIDS. Loftus further said that was the reason the US kept preventing Israel from killing Arafat – to allow him to be discredited by the ailment.

A 1987 book by Lt.-Gen. Ion Pacepa, the deputy chief of Romania's intelligence service under Communist dictator Nicola Ceausescu, may explain how Arafat contracted the sexually transmitted disease.

In his memoirs "Red Horizons," Pacepa relates a 1978 conversation with the general assigned to teach Arafat and the PLO techniques to deceive the West into granting the organization recognition. The general told him about Arafat’s nightly relations with his young male bodyguards and multiple partners. “Beginning with his teacher when he was a teen-ager and ending with his current bodyguards. After reading the report, I felt a compulsion to take a shower whenever I had been kissed by Arafat, or even just shaken his hand," Pacepa wrote.

Senior US intelligence official James J. Welsh, the National Security Agency's former PA analyst, told WorldNetDaily, "One of the things we looked for when we were intercepting Fatah communications were messages about Ashbal [Lion cub] members who would be called to Beirut from bases outside of Beirut. The Ashbal were often orphaned or abandoned boys who were brought into the organization, ostensibly to train for later entry into Fedayeen fighter units. Arafat always had several of these 13-15 year old boys in his entourage. We figured out that he would often recall several of these boys to Beirut just before he would leave for a trip outside Lebanon. It proved to be a good indicator of Arafat's travel plans. While Arafat did have a regular security detail, many of those thought to be security personnel - the teenage boys - were actually there for other purposes."
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/123347

=============

stratfor.com
SYRIA, RUSSIA: Syria has acquired advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles, as well as chemical warheads for surface-to-surface missiles, Ynet reported, citing an unnamed Israeli military source.

« Last Edit: August 14, 2007, 11:03:37 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #70 on: August 29, 2007, 11:13:02 AM »

opinion journal

The Upside of Hamas
The Associated Press reports some surprisingly good news from the erstwhile terror haven of Jenin:

Palestinian police rescued an Israeli soldier Monday after he mistakenly drove into this West Bank town and was surrounded by a mob that later burned his car. Israel praised the rescue as a sign of the growing strength of Palestinian moderates.

Three policemen spotted the Israeli military officer inside the car and escorted him through the mob before taking him to their headquarters, police said. The soldier suffered no injuries and was handed over to Israeli troops. . . .

The rescue was a sharp contrast to seven years ago when two Israeli army reservists strayed into the West Bank city of Ramallah. They were captured by Palestinian police, who took them to a police station. A mob stormed the station and killed the two, throwing one body from a second story window as news photographers took pictures.

That incident, known to shocked Israelis as "the lynching," set the tone for violence and suspicion that has continued ever since.

This latest incident is only an anecdote, not yet a trend; but it may signify that the rise of Hamas is actually forcing "moderate" Palestinians to behave moderately, because accommodating Israel is their only hope for survival.

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« Reply #71 on: September 12, 2007, 03:57:35 PM »

I haven't had time to post about the brewing brouhaha between Israel and Syria, with commentary by Turkey but from the following Stratfor report it appears that Israel has taken out one of the recently provided Russian anti-aircraft positions in Syria.  The Ruskis have been selling AA capability to Iran too, so I'm guessing there has been some close consultation between Israel and the Pentagon about all this.

  SYRIA: Syria could be planning a military response to the alleged Israeli airstrike in northern Syria on Sept. 6, the Kuwait-based Al Jareeda reported. The report also says a Syrian delegation met recently with top Hezbollah and Hamas officials to draw up a retaliation plan, and that the Syrian army has started drafting reservists in response to Israel's raised alert levels in the north. Israel-based newspaper Al Sinara reported Sept. 12 that the Israeli air force hit a Syrian-Iranian missile base, which was supposedly destroyed.
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« Reply #72 on: September 12, 2007, 08:56:16 PM »

Israel, Syria: Threats and Incursions
Summary

The alleged Sept. 6 incursion into Syrian airspace by the Israeli air force was related to nuclear facilities, Israeli media have reported. Though this speculation will continue in the Israeli press, the nuclear angle to the incursion is unlikely.

Analysis

Israeli media have been reporting that the alleged Sept. 6 Israeli air force (IAF) incursion into Syria had the photo reconnaissance of nuclear sites as its objective.

Though these reports and the remaining evidence create more questions than they answer, this hypothesis is not compelling. The conventional threat to Israel posed by Syria looms much larger, and though Israel must be vigilant to the Syrian threat -- whether nuclear or conventional -- the Jewish state has good reason to proceed with restraint.

Despite its status in U.S. eyes as a second-tier "Axis of Evil" state, Syria does not have a nuclear program that comes close to North Korea's or even Iran's program. It continues to focus on civilian research, particularly the production of radioisotopes for medical purposes. Though connections to Iranian and North Korean know-how could accelerate the Syrian program, Syria lacks the finances and resources to commit to an advanced nuclear program -- not to mention the standoff distance needed to conceal anything of that scale from the Mossad.

Thus, whether the incursion was a photo reconnaissance, offensive strike or some other sort of mission, reports of the nuclear angle fail to convince. The rudimentary state of Syria's nuclear program (even taking into account all the unknowns) means Damascus has not crossed the sort of redline that would warrant the attention of what, by Syrian reports, appears to have been at least four Israeli aircraft.

Syria's conventional capabilities are no match for Israel's, and any significant move toward a more robust nuclear program would ensure a swift and strong Israeli military response -- one Damascus has neither the desire to incur nor the ability to repel.

Syria's use of militant proxies against Israel, however, cannot be ruled out, given that Syrian diplomatic objections to the alleged incursion largely have been ignored. Interestingly, both the resumption of Qassam rocket attacks against Israel and the worst Qassam rocket strike in the Jewish state's history (in which dozens of Israel Defense Forces troops were injured) took place Sept. 11.

Israel can strike Syrian targets with impunity. But during the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah (which Syria helped arm) in southern Lebanon, Israel only went so far as to buzz Syrian President Bashar al Assad's summer residence -- so a strike would represent a significant escalation (although not an unprecedented step) for the IAF.

Giving Israel cause for restraint, the al Assad government is stable and is something Israel can manage. Israel does not want regime change in Damascus because the resulting power vacuum would create the risk of an Islamist regime more aggressively opposed to Israel -- something the Jewish state lacks the bandwidth to deal with at present.





The Syrian missile program, on the other hand, is comparatively far more advanced than its nuclear program and represents a much more tangible threat to Israel -- especially given concerns that missiles could be passed to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Sources indicate that the IAF mission probably was linked to a recent missile import from North Korea, which has a long-standing missile export history, especially with Syria and Iran.

Longer-range systems would allow Syria to place its missiles further from the reach of the IAF. Already, both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are in range of Syria's longer-range Scud missile variants, even from the vicinity of Tal al-Abiad and Dayr az Zawr. But Israel has long lived with the threat of Scud missiles pointed in its direction, so as with Syria's nuclear program, some other threshold would have to be crossed to warrant an Israeli strike, such as concerns about radically improved guidance systems.

The Israeli-Syrian drama is playing out against the backdrop of continued threats of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States. Tehran has made it clear that its response to any U.S. attack would involve strikes against Israel (no matter the Jewish state's level of involvement). Thus, Israel sees the need for increased vigilance against the potential for Iran and Iranian weapons (perhaps stationed in eastern Syria, where the alleged IAF incursion took place) to strike the heart of the Jewish state.
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« Reply #73 on: September 13, 2007, 05:39:04 PM »

Very interesting , , ,

TURKEY: Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported that Turkey played a key role in providing intelligence to Israel in the apparent Israeli air force (IAF) flyover into Syrian airspace Sept. 6. The report claimed not only that Turkey provided detailed information on potential Syrian targets for the IAF, but also that the Turkish army authorized the IAF to use its airspace in the operation. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al-Jarida that Turkish intelligence did not coordinate the alleged cooperation with any Turkish public official.

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« Reply #74 on: September 13, 2007, 05:49:06 PM »

If true, very interesting indeed. Turkey in the past has had a good relationship with Israel, but I figured that as the jihadists gained power this would disappear.
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« Reply #75 on: September 13, 2007, 10:19:55 PM »

I suspect Turkey's calculus re the Kurds trumps most things.  AQ is a Arab Sunni phenomenon and the Turks are not Arabs (Are they Sunni? Don't know)  I'm guessing they don't care much for Syria and its friendship with Iranian Shia either cheesy
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« Reply #76 on: September 13, 2007, 10:49:10 PM »

It's my understanding that Turkey is majority Sunni. Syria's political elites are mostly Alawites, whom most muslims do not recognize as muslim, but Iran's mullahs have, more out of political expediency that theological agreement IMHO.
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« Reply #77 on: September 14, 2007, 10:38:21 AM »

North Korea and Syria
September 14, 2007; Page A12
A nuclear-armed North Korea is dangerous enough. A North Korea that shares its nuclear technology with other bad actors is worse -- especially if the partner-state is known to be cozy with terrorists. The potential nexus between WMD and terrorism is the biggest threat to the security of the U.S. and its allies.

So reports this week in the New York Times, the Washington Post and elsewhere that North Korea may be cooperating with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility are worth taking seriously. Syria has close ties with Iran and provides sanctuary within its borders for Hezbollah, a group that the National Intelligence Estimate released in July warns may be prepared to launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. Pyongyang has a long, well-documented history of sharing missile technology with Syria, and it is all too believable that sharing nuclear knowhow could be next.

Israel is said to be the primary source of the intelligence on a North Korean-Syrian nuclear connection. But neither Israel nor the Bush Administration has commented officially on this or another mysterious event -- Israel's flyover and apparent raid last week on targets inside Syria. Given the Administration's experience with prewar intelligence on WMD in Iraq, it's understandable that it would want to have solid evidence before going public.

Meanwhile, however, the six-party talks on the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program have picked up steam, with Pyongyang promising to dismantle its facilities by the end of the year and the U.S. pledging to consider such goodies as fuel aid and removing North Korea from its list of terror-sponsoring states. U.S., Russian and Chinese inspectors turned up at the Yongbyon nuclear facility this week.

If North Korea is moving its nuclear facilities to Syria -- or "merely" proliferating -- it would undermine everything at the heart of that agreement, as well as cross a long-stated American red line that Pyongyang not proliferate. Even if it is unsure of the full implications of the intelligence, the Administration has an obligation not to proceed with a nuclear deal until Pyongyang and Damascus come clean.
WSJ
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« Reply #78 on: September 15, 2007, 04:43:45 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2007/09/15/us-nuke-guy-north-korea-and-syria-are-up-to-no-good/

WMD in Syria?
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« Reply #79 on: September 16, 2007, 07:43:20 AM »

WOW!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv, Sarah Baxter in Washington and Michael Sheridan

IT was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.

At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.

Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.

The Israeli government was not saying. “The security sources and IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers are demonstrating unusual courage,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. “We naturally cannot always show the public our cards.”
Related Links

* A tale of two dictatorships: The links between North Korea and Syria

The Syrians were also keeping mum. “I cannot reveal the details,” said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. “All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.” The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from “secret suppliers”, and added that there were a “number of foreign technicians” in the country.

Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that.” He said a network run by AQ Khan, the disgraced creator of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, could be involved.

But why would nuclear material be in Syria? Known to have chemical weapons, was it seeking to bolster its arsenal with something even more deadly?

Alternatively, could it be hiding equipment for North Korea, enabling Kim Jong-il to pretend to be giving up his nuclear programme in exchange for economic aid? Or was the material bound for Iran, as some authorities in America suggest?

According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.

The Israeli spy chief apparently feared such a device could eventually be installed on North-Korean-made Scud-C missiles.

“This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel,” said an Israeli source. “We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead.”

An expert on the Middle East, who has spoken to Israeli participants in the raid, told yesterday’s Washington Post that the timing of the raid on September 6 appeared to be linked to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying North Korean material labelled as cement but suspected of concealing nuclear equipment.

The target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates river. Israel had been monitoring it for some time, concerned that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.

According to an Israeli air force source, the Israeli satellite Ofek 7, launched in June, was diverted from Iran to Syria. It sent out high-quality images of a northeastern area every 90 minutes, making it easy for air force specialists to spot the facility.

Early in the summer Ehud Barak, the defence minister, had given the order to double Israeli forces on its Golan Heights border with Syria in anticipation of possible retaliation by Damascus in the event of air strikes.

Sergei Kirpichenko, the Russian ambassador to Syria, warned President Bashar al-Assad last month that Israel was planning an attack, but suggested the target was the Golan Heights.

Israeli military intelligence sources claim Syrian special forces moved towards the Israeli outpost of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights. Tension rose, but nobody knew why.

At this point, Barak feared events could spiral out of control. The decision was taken to reduce the number of Israeli troops on the Golan Heights and tell Damascus the tension was over. Syria relaxed its guard shortly before the Israeli Defence Forces struck.

Only three Israeli cabinet ministers are said to have been in the know � Olmert, Barak and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister. America was also consulted. According to Israeli sources, American air force codes were given to the Israeli air force attaché in Washington to ensure Israel’s F15Is would not mistakenly attack their US counterparts.

Once the mission was under way, Israel imposed draconian military censorship and no news of the operation emerged until Syria complained that Israeli aircraft had violated its airspace. Syria claimed its air defences had engaged the planes, forcing them to drop fuel tanks to lighten their loads as they fled.

But intelligence sources suggested it was a highly successful Israeli raid on nuclear material supplied by North Korea.

Washington was rife with speculation last week about the precise nature of the operation. One source said the air strikes were a diversion for a daring Israeli commando raid, in which nuclear materials were intercepted en route to Iran and hauled to Israel. Others claimed they were destroyed in the attack.

There is no doubt, however, that North Korea is accused of nuclear cooperation with Syria, helped by AQ Khan’s network. John Bolton, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department, told the United Nations in 2004 the Pakistani nuclear scientist had “several other” customers besides Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Some of his evidence came from the CIA, which had reported to Congress that it viewed “Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern”.

“I’ve been worried for some time about North Korea and Iran outsourcing their nuclear programmes,” Bolton said last week. Syria, he added, was a member of a “junior axis of evil”, with a well-established ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The links between Syria and North Korea date back to the rule of Kim Il-sung and President Hafez al-Assad in the last century. In recent months, their sons have quietly ordered an increase in military and technical cooperation.

Foreign diplomats who follow North Korean affairs are taking note. There were reports of Syrian passengers on flights from Beijing to Pyongyang and sightings of Middle Eastern businessmen from sources who watch the trains from North Korea to China.

On August 14, Rim Kyong Man, the North Korean foreign trade minister, was in Syria to sign a protocol on “cooperation in trade and science and technology”. No details were released, but it caught Israel’s attention.

Syria possesses between 60 and 120 Scud-C missiles, which it has bought from North Korea over the past 15 years. Diplomats believe North Korean engineers have been working on extending their 300-mile range. It means they can be used in the deserts of northeastern Syria � the area of the Israeli strike.

The triangular relationship between North Korea, Syria and Iran continues to perplex intelligence analysts. Syria served as a conduit for the transport to Iran of an estimated £50m of missile components and technology sent by sea from North Korea. The same route may be in use for nuclear equipment.

But North Korea is at a sensitive stage of negotiations to end its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and aid, leading some diplomats to cast doubt on the likelihood that Kim would cross America’s “red line” forbidding the proliferation of nuclear materials.

Christopher Hill, the State Department official representing America in the talks, said on Friday he could not confirm “intelligence-type things”, but the reports underscored the need “to make sure the North Koreans get out of the nuclear business”.

By its actions, Israel showed it is not interested in waiting for diplomacy to work where nuclear weapons are at stake.

As a bonus, the Israelis proved they could penetrate the Syrian air defence system, which is stronger than the one protecting Iranian nuclear sites.

This weekend President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran sent Ali Akbar Mehrabian, his nephew, to Syria to assess the damage. The new “axis of evil” may have lost one of its spokes.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle2461421.ece
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« Reply #80 on: September 17, 2007, 10:59:24 AM »

stratfor.com

Geopolitical Diary: The Israeli Overflight Mystery Deepens

This weekend, the mystery of the Israeli aircraft over northern Syria became more important and even less clear than it was before. The story began Sept. 6 with a report from Syria that an Israeli aircraft had dropped ordnance over northern Syria and had been forced by Syrian air defenses to retreat from Syrian airspace. Syria reported sonic booms in the North as, they would have it, the Israeli plane went west toward the Mediterranean at supersonic speeds. This was mysterious, as the Syrians reported no damage and only a single plane. We assumed it was an Israeli reconnaissance flight.

Then, during a meeting of Syrian and Turkish leaders, the Turkish government reported that two auxiliary fuel tanks from Israeli planes had been found in Turkish territory, close to the Syrian frontier. That would indicate that the Israelis were operating very close to the Turkish border, had been detected by the Syrians, released their fuel tanks and took off. That story left two unsolved mysteries: First, what were the Israelis looking for that close to the Turkish border -- or more precisely, right on the Turkish border? And second, why were the Turks so touchy about some drop tanks that were, after all, left behind by Israel, a country with which Turkey has close military relations? And of course, that takes us back to why the Israelis would be monitoring events on the Turkish-Syrian border themselves instead of just asking the Turks.

Then, this weekend, Washington started leaking, with the media carrying a series of utterly contradictory explanations from unnamed American sources. The Washington Post ran a report by an American "expert on the Middle East" (pedigree unclear, but obviously impressive enough to be used by the Washington Post). The Post report said the target was a Syrian facility officially labeled by Syria as an "agricultural research center." The attack was linked with the arrival of a ship in a Syrian port carrying goods from North Korea labeled as "cement." According to the Post's expert, it wasn't clear what the ship was actually carrying, but the consensus in Israel was that it was delivering nuclear equipment. Meanwhile, an unnamed source in The New York Times said the mission was indeed a reconnaissance flight tracking North Korean nuclear equipment. So, two of the major U.S. newspapers have both had similar leaks. This is clearly the official unofficial position of the U.S. government.

The problem with this theory is not with the idea that a North Korean ship might be carrying nuclear equipment to Syria. The problem is the idea that Syria would have a nuclear research facility smack on its border with Turkey. Turkish-Syrian relations are not always warm, and in fact are frequently quite nasty. The idea that the Syrians would conduct ultra-secret nuclear research (or store such equipment) on the Turkish border is a little hard to buy. If we were them, we would like to see our valuable nuclear research out of mortar range of a hostile power -- but perhaps the Washington Post's expert is on to something.

Another leak, provided by Israel to the London Times, hinted that there were chemical weapons at the site, and that the attack (note that this leak claimed there was an attack and not simply a reconnaissance flight) helped save Israel from an "unpleasant surprise." A sub-leak from the Israelis was that the target destroyed in the raid was a store of chemical weapons. So the Americans are talking about North Korean nuclear technology while the Israelis are talking about chemical weapons. Amos Yadlin, head of Israeli military intelligence, said that he would not discuss the matter, then went on to discuss it by saying that Israel now has the deterrent capability against Hezbollah that it didn't have in 2006. Perhaps the chemical weapons were to be shipped to Hezbollah?

The least credible story of the bunch, which came from the British paper the Observer, was that the raid might have been a dry run for an attack on Iran. That is of course possible, but we are having trouble understanding how flying to the Turkish-Syrian border would constitute a dry run for anything beyond flying to the Turkish-Syrian border.

We do not mean to be flip. We think that this raid or reconnaissance flight, or whatever it was, was important. It's importance was less about U.S.-Syrian relations than about Syrian-Turkish relations. That relationship has been critical to both countries for years. If the Syrians are actually storing anything sensitive along the Turkish-Syrian border, that would mean that the Syrians might have some sort of understanding with the Turks that would be extremely important for the region. For us, the location of the facility is more startling than the possibility of a North Korean shipment, chemical weapons or even a dry run for a strike on Tehran.

Since when do the Syrians trust the Turks enough to do anything important along the border? Since when do the Israelis have to do reconnaissance flights along the border? The Turks patrol that area pretty intensely. We had thought there was a strong intelligence-sharing program. Perhaps it's no longer a trusted channel? Of course, the Turks somehow might have been complicit in this.

The mystery is deep and we are baffled, but it does not strike us as trivial. Something important happened Sept. 6.
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« Reply #81 on: September 18, 2007, 08:54:33 AM »

http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/talkradio/transcripts/Transcript.aspx?ContentGuid=66c6885b-851b-45e3-9dce-b6b464a77afc
Former IDF officer Yoni on what Israel's up to in Syria, and what Syria and Iran's up to regarding Israel.
 Monday, September 17, 2007 at 11:43 PM 

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Hugh Hewitt: That music means Yoni joins us, www.yonitheblogger.com, if you want to read his blog, many years in the Israeli defense services, now in the Pacific Northwest. Yoni, good to talk to you.

YT: How are you, Hugh?

HH: Did you have a good Rosh Hashanah? 

YT: I had a great Rosh Hashanah. 

HH: Well, I’m glad to hear that. And now, what did the Israelis do, and when did they do it?

YT: What we did on the 6th of September is we inserted elite ground troops into Syria on the eastern side of Syria near the Euphrates River in a region that’s called Deir Ez-Zour, and these elite units on the ground assisted a flight of F-15s in destroying two locations in Syria. One location, which nobody is talking about anymore, was a major weapons depot of weapons that had been shipped from Iran to Syria, for then trans-shipment into Lebanon to Hezbollah, which included long range missiles that could hit the whole state of Israel. And the second location was a facility that was storing equipment that had arrived in Syria on the 3rd of September from North Korea that was nuclear weapons components. 

HH: Now what kind of components would they be sending through to Syria, on their way to Iran, I assume?

YT: No, on their way to Syria. 

HH: What is…Syria doesn’t have a program, do they?

YT: Syria’s trying to jump start a program. 

HH: Now first of all, tell us your sources for this stuff.

YT: Guys I used to work with. 

HH: All right. And so this is not…you’ll see some of this hinted at in the write-up in the Times of London, et cetera. So are you in trouble for discussing this on the air?

YT: No.

HH: Okay.

YT: No, enough of it’s leaked out that…you know, I mean, we’re fine. 

HH: Now talk to me a little bit about what you mean by jump start. What were they trying to build? What did they have there? Do you know?

YT: That, no, I don’t know, other than my friend said components that would lead them to be able to put together nuclear weapons. I think, reading between the lines, what they are trying to do is bring in the components that they could then just assemble, and have a ready bomb, rather than trying to produce, like Iran is trying to produce, from the ground up. They were wanting to get kind of, you know, a do-it-yourself kit from North Korea, and put it together, and then hit Israel. 

HH: Now given this, does this tip the hand of the Israelis, vis-à-vis Iran, as Iran gets closer?

YT: Oh, yes and no. I mean, Iran is today, they’ve threatened us that they could hit us with 600 missiles, which is just an empty threat, because they’re scared to death, because Iran and Syria, late spring, early summer, I don’t recall the exact time frame, both purchased from Russia the same so-called state of the art air defense system.

HH: And you just took it down easily?

YT: We just went through it like it wasn’t even there. 

HH: Now how did that happen? Is that because of stealth technology? Or did they do something on the ground?

YT: That I’m not going to get into.

HH: Okay. The sum and substance of this popular support in Israel for the action?

YT: Oh, absolutely. Look, we did two things in one week that herald the bad days are potentially behind us. We did this raid into Syria, and in addition to that, we had undercover troops go into Gaza and grab one of the main guys behind the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, the soldier that was kidnapped and taken into Gaza.

HH: I missed that entirely. 

YT: Well, you don’t go to www.yonitheblogger.com often enough. 

HH: When did that happen?

YT: The same week, the first week of September, as the air raid. 

HH: And what branch of the service did that?

YT: The IDF, the ground forces. We have elite units, and what they did is they went in dressed up as Arabs on donkey carts, and were able to get close to the guy, grabbed him, and then a helicopter pops up over the fence and sets down in the open area, and picks everybody up and back to Israel they go.

HH: And what are they going to do with him? Trade him?

YT: Well, let’s just say right now, we’re getting information from him.

HH: And it’s been how long since the change at Defense? Obviously, I’m not talking about Barak’s return, but the new chief of staff.

YT: It’s been now, oh, maybe nine months. 

HH: And so what’s the impact on the armed services?

YT: Huge, huge. Guys are training like they’re supposed to. Guys that haven’t trained in seven, eight years that we put into combat last summer now are back to training like they’re supposed to. We’re spending a lot of money getting them new equipment. You know, the situation, you wouldn’t know it from the American media, but as we speak, Israel is at the highest state of alert that we can be. 

HH: Why?

YT: Because of massive Syrian troop movements, because Assad’s brother-in-law and some of the top generals told Assad that he has to hit Israel back for what we did, or they will take action. Well, we know in an Arab country what that means. They’ll just take him out behind the palace and put a bullet in his head. So things are pretty hectic, and we’ve got, you know, troops were not sent home for Rosh Hashanah, nor will they be sent home for Yom Kippur. Things are at a very high state of alert right now. 

HH: But I check Ha’aretz every day. It’s not really evident from that, is it, that they’re…

YT: We have military censors. 

HH: Oh, I’d forgotten that.

YT: There are things that when it pertains to state security, that they won’t publish inside Israel. 

HH: And so what is the threat level right now, you think, in Israel?

YT: I think, well, if we’re at the highest, if our forces are at the highest stage of alert, the threat level is very high.

HH: And so, what I’m getting at, how routine is that level of alert?

YT: It’s not routine at all. I mean, when you’ve got extra aircraft in the air, we have got extra aircraft with pilots sitting in the seats on the runways, when you’ve got soldiers in the thousands that you would have sent home for the holiday, and you keep them there, I mean, that causes a huge inconvenience to families, because you don’t get to see your kids often enough when they’re in the military. You know, your kids are out running for three days straight without sleep across the desert and things like that, it’s a huge inconvenience. 

HH: We will then be watching www.yonitheblogger.com. Thanks, Yoni.

End of interview.
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« Reply #82 on: September 18, 2007, 09:02:43 AM »

Second post of the day.  From the WSJ:


Osirak II?
Israel's silence on Syria speaks volumes.

BY BRET STEPHENS
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

In the late spring of 2002 the American press reported that Israel had armed its German-made submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. In Israel, this was old news. It was also headline news.

"Washington Post: Israeli subs have nuclear cruise missiles," was how the Jerusalem Post, of which I was then the editor, titled its story of June 16. It wasn't as if we didn't previously know that Israel had purchased and modified the German subs for purposes of strategic deterrence. Nor did we delight in circumlocutions. We simply needed the imprimatur of a foreign source to publish items that Israel's military censors (who operate as if the Internet doesn't exist) forbade us from reporting forthrightly.

So it's more than a little telling that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz chose, in the wake of an Israeli Air Force raid on Syria on Sept. 6 dubbed "Operation Orchard," to give front-page billing to an op-ed by John Bolton that appeared in this newspaper Aug. 31. While the article dealt mainly with the six-party talks with North Korea, Mr. Bolton also noted that "both Iran and Syria have long cooperated with North Korea on ballistic missile programs, and the prospect of cooperation on nuclear matters is not far-fetched." He went on to wonder whether Pyongyang was using its Middle Eastern allies as safe havens for its nuclear goods while it went through a U.N. inspections process.

How plausible is this scenario? The usual suspects in the nonproliferation crowd reject it as some kind of trumped-up neocon plot. Yet based on conversations with Israeli and U.S. sources, along with evidence both positive and negative (that is, what people aren't saying), it seems the likeliest suggested so far. That isn't to say, however, that plenty of gaps and question marks about the operation don't remain.





What's beyond question is that something big went down on Sept. 6. Israeli sources had been telling me for months that their air force was intensively war-gaming attack scenarios against Syria; I assumed this was in anticipation of a second round of fighting with Hezbollah. On the morning of the raid, Israeli combat brigades in the northern Golan Heights went on high alert, reinforced by elite Maglan commando units. Most telling has been Israel's blanket censorship of the story--unprecedented in the experience of even the most veteran Israeli reporters--which has also been extended to its ordinarily hypertalkative politicians. In a country of open secrets, this is, for once, a closed one.
The censorship helps dispose of at least one theory of the case. According to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Israel's target was a cache of Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah. But if that were the case, Israel would have every reason to advertise Damascus's ongoing violations of Lebanese sovereignty, particularly on the eve of Lebanon's crucial presidential election. Following the January 2002 Karine-A incident--in which Israeli frogmen intercepted an Iranian weapons shipment bound for Gaza--the government of Ariel Sharon wasted no time inviting reporters to inspect the captured merchandise. Had Orchard had a similar target, with similar results, it's doubtful the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert--which badly needs to erase the blot of last year's failed war--could have resisted turning it into a propaganda coup.

Something similar goes for another theory, this one from British journalist Peter Beaumont of the Observer, that the raid was in fact "a dry run for attack on Iran." Mr. Beaumont is much taken by a report that at least one of the Israeli bombers involved in the raid dropped its fuel tanks in a Turkish field near the Syrian border.

Why Israel apparently chose to route its attack through Turkey is a nice question, given that it means a detour of more than 1,000 miles. Damascus claims the fuel tank was discarded after the planes came under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, which could be true. But if Israel is contemplating an attack on Tehran's nuclear installations--and it is--it makes no sense to advertise the "Turkish corridor" as its likely avenue of attack.

As for the North Korean theory, evidence for it starts with Pyongyang. The raid, said one North Korean foreign ministry official quoted by China's Xinhua news agency, was "little short of wantonly violating the sovereignty of Syria and seriously harassing the regional peace and security." But who asked him, anyway? In August, the North Korean trade minister signed an agreement with Syria on "cooperation in trade and science and technology." Last week, Andrew Semmel, the acting counterproliferation chief at the State Department, confirmed that North Korean technicians of some kind were known to be in Syria, and that Syria was "on the U.S. nuclear watch list." And then there is yesterday's curious news that North Korea has abruptly suspended its participation in the six-party talks, for reasons undeclared.





That still leaves the question of just what kind of transfers could have taken place. There has been some speculation regarding a Syrian plant in the city of Homs, built 20 years ago to extract uranium from phosphate (of which Syria has an ample supply). Yet Homs is 200 miles west of Dayr az Zawr, the city on the Euphrates reportedly closest to the site of the attack. More to the point, uranium extraction from phosphates is a commonplace activity (without it, phosphate is hazardous as fertilizer) and there is a vast gulf separating this kind of extraction from the enrichment process needed to turn uranium into something genuinely threatening.
There is also a rumor--sourced to an unnamed expert in the Washington Post--that on Sept. 3 a North Korean ship delivered some kind of nuclear cargo to the Syrian port of Tartus, forcing the Israelis to act. That may well be accurate, though it squares awkwardly with the evidence that plans for Orchard were laid months ago.

More questions will no doubt be raised about the operational details of the raid (some sources claim there were actually two raids, one of them diversionary), as well as fresh theories about what the Israelis were after and whether they got it. The only people that can provide real answers are in Jerusalem and Damascus, and for the most part they are preserving an abnormal silence. In the Middle East, that only happens when the interests of prudence and the demands of shame happen to coincide. Could we have just lived through a partial reprise of the 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor? On current evidence, it is the least unlikely possibility.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. His column appears in the Journal Tuesdays.

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« Reply #83 on: September 18, 2007, 09:19:37 AM »

An old IDF joke: "Syria is willing to fight Israel down to the last Palestinian."

I'd love to see Israel stomp a mudhole in Syria right about now.
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« Reply #84 on: September 18, 2007, 11:19:27 AM »

Israeli Space-Based Radar Set for Indian Launch

Sep 16, 2007

By Craig Covault
Military space reconnaissance capabilities are proliferating. This week, the U.S., Israel, India, China and Brazil could advance their commercial, technological and strategic interests with new milsats set to be launched.

Once aloft, the satellites will look into each other’s backyards and try to steal each other’s customers. And they all will be watching Iran.

The missions—scheduled for Sept. 17-20—have been developed by a diverse set of companies and thousands of engineers and technicians whose efforts will benefit their respective military programs beyond the intelligence operations the spacecraft will support.

The programs show how military space is maturing around the world and, with it, the growing capability of nations to make their own decisions based on in-house space intelligence data—not massaged information from the major space powers—the U.S., Russia and China.

In a unique flight scheduled for liftoff from India Sept. 17-20, Israel’s first “Polaris/TecSat” military imaging radar satellite is to be launched along with India’s first military recon spacecraft. They will be fired into an approximately 600-km. (372-mi.) polar orbit atop the same powerful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

The mission, from India’s launch site on an island in the Bay of Bengal, will also inaugurate major military space cooperation between India and Israel.

If successful, the Israeli space-based radar will put Israel among the small list of nations with imaging radar reconnaissance satellites able to distinguish camouflaged vehicles from rocky terrain, for example, and to see at night and through clouds and foliage.

The launch of Polaris 1 will also provide Israel with a new capability that will be focused heavily on Iran, including obtaining data for a potential Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Although largely classified, the Israeli spacecraft’s electronically steered, synthetic aperture radar has 1-meter resolution and differing spot, mosaic and strip modes (see diagram, p. 31). These modes provide a multitude of different radar aspect angles from which to illuminate targets on the ground.

The Polaris modes should provide space-based radar imaging intelli gence products that are similar in quality to the multimode U-2’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar 2A sensor, according to Jeff Grant, vice president for business development at Northrop Grumman.

That will enable its products to be used in connection with change-detection software and imagery that can be overlaid with diverse data from other Israeli space or UAV systems.

The other satellite on the PSLV/Polaris mission—the Indian Cartosat 2A spacecraft—remains secret, but carries a powerful panchromatic camera. India is already highly accomplished in the development of remote-sensing spacecraft and should be able to step up easily to higher resolution military imaging satellites.

And India is also interested in purchasing the Polaris imaging radar satellite design from Israel for its own military reconnaissance operations, which are focused heavily on Pakistan, China and, increasingly, the U.S., according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Northrop Grumman officials hope a recently signed teaming arrangement that would allow it to coproduce a modified Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) version of the Polaris/TecSat radar satellite will lead to financing from the U.S. government in the Fiscal 2009 budget.

Such spacecraft “could provide an early, though basic, capability to the Pentagon long before its massive Space Radar system reaches orbit,” says Grant (AW&ST Apr. 16, p. 26).

Within 48 hr. of the PSLV flight, the emphasis will shift to Vandenberg AFB, Calif., where the U.S. DigitalGlobe WorldView-1 spacecraft is set for liftoff Sept. 18 on board a United Launch Alliance Delta II. This will be a commercial flight with a unique quasi-commercial recon-related spacecraft.

WorldView 1 was built by Ball Aerospace, ITT and DigitalGlobe with $500 million from the Defense Dept.’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to provide imagery for specific Defense Dept. medium- to high-resolution needs. It will have up to half-meter resolution, more than 50% better than the 1 meter previously allowed for spacecraft not built as top-secret superresolution systems designed by the National Reconnaissance Office.

Then, on Sept. 19, China is to launch its joint mission with Brazil. The new CBERS 2B imaging satellite will be an upgraded version of the previous two China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellites. It will be fired into polar orbit by a Long March 4 from the Taiyuan launch site south of Beijing.

Although important for commercial remote sensing, the CBERS program is giving China and Brazil extensive data and experience with digital imaging and economic intelligence as well as military reconnaissance. It’s used heavily by the People’s Liberation Army.

The Israeli radar satellite launch follows the June 11 flight of another new Israeli imaging reconnaissance spacecraft, Ofeq-7. It has multispectral as well as higher resolution sensors. The success of Ofeq-7, and hoped-for success with the radar, would mark a major comeback for Israeli space intelligence operations. Ofeq-7 and the new radar satellite flight come almost exactly three years since a Shavit booster failure that destroyed Ofeq-6.

However, Ofeq-7, with its roughly half-meter resolution, has much greater capability than previous Israeli recons. “With this launch, we have improved Israel’s operational capabilities by dozens of percent,” says Brig. Gen. Haim Eshet, director of space programming at Israel’s Defense Research and Development Directorate.

“The intensified Israeli space drive comes amid increasing concern about Iran’s nuclear development program, Syria’s contradictory intimations toward peace talks or war, and the support both nations provide to Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups,” says Israeli military analyst David Eshel on the Defense Update web site.

“One of the prime targets for Israel’s space intelligence is the growing threat posed by the Tehran regime,” he says.

“The Israeli defense ministry has placed the highest priority on detailed monitoring of Iranian efforts to obtain data on chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as long-range delivery systems. High-resolution space imagery has become one of its major intelligence and reconnaissance assets,” Eshel states in Defense Update.

Israel says it’s using the 145-ft.-tall four-stage Indian booster because the PSLV can fire the 600-lb. Polaris spacecraft into a true polar orbit, which is not achievable from Israel’s Shavit booster launch site at Palmahim AB.

However, Israeli critics of the decision disagree, saying the launcher choice is based more on strengthening military ties with a major power other than the U.S.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) provided background information on the Polaris radar spacecraft to the Jerusalem Post.

“This new satellite will be a major leap for the IDF and its operational capabilities,” a senior Israeli defense official told the Post. “This will enhance our intelligence-gathering capabilities, and its successful launch will place Israel as one of the leading countries in the world in satellite development.”

The spacecraft’s radar was developed by IAI’s Elta group. It is to fly in a 400 X 800-km. orbit powered by solar arrays generating about 1,000 watts at the start of a five-year orbital lifetime.

Other IDF officials noted that although some imagery from the spacecraft over areas other than the Middle East will be marketed, the Israeli government will limit what imagery can be sold. Restrictions also will apply for licensing the Polaris/TecSat radar technology to India, and possibly also to the U.S., Israeli officials said.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=awst&id=news/aw091707p2.xml&headline=Israeli%20Space-Based%20Radar%20Set%20for%20Indian%20Launch
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« Reply #85 on: September 18, 2007, 06:05:35 PM »

Dozens died in Syrian-Iranian chemical weapons experiment'

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By JPOST.COM STAFF

Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in a Jane's Magazine report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.

According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas and VX gas.

The factory was created specifically for the purposes of altering ballistic missiles to carry chemical payloads, the magazine report claimed.

Reports of the accident were circulated at the time, however, no details were released by the Syrian government, and there were no hints of an Iranian connection.

The report comes on the heels of criticism leveled by the Syrains at the United States, accusing it of spreading "false" claims of Syrian nuclear activity and cooperation with North Korea to excuse an alleged Israeli air incursion over the country this month.

According to Global Security.org, Syria is not a signatory of either the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), - an international agreement banning the production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons, or the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Syria began developing chemical weapons in 1973, just before the Yom Kippur War. Global Security.org cites the country as having one of the most advanced chemical weapons programs in the Middle East.

SourceDrudge http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1189411428847&pagename=JPost%2FJPArt icle%2FShowFull
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« Reply #86 on: September 18, 2007, 06:32:40 PM »

 :-oWHOA! shocked
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« Reply #87 on: September 19, 2007, 01:05:44 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2007/09/18/good-news-british-intel-outfit-reports-evidence-of-chemical-warheads-on-syrian-missiles/

I guess we've found Saddam's WMDs.
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« Reply #88 on: September 20, 2007, 08:37:06 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: The Increasingly Mysterious Israeli-Syrian Encounter

Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday on Israeli TV that Israel launched an operation into Syria a couple of weeks ago. He shed little light on it; what was most interesting was that Netanyahu went out of his way not only to support the mission but also to praise Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for carrying it out.

That there was an Israeli mission Sept. 6 is not new news. That Netanyahu would be the one to confirm it is curious, and that he would praise Olmert -- a political opponent -- is intriguing. But what is fascinating is the ongoing silence about the purpose of the mission. What were the Israelis attacking?

Normally, we would expect secrecy, but in this case it is exceedingly odd. Having admitted Israel carried out an operation in Syria (he did not admit it was an airstrike), Netanyahu already has opened Israel up to what little political fallout there might be. Why not also identify the target? The Syrians certainly know what the target was, and by now so does any country with space reconnaissance capabilities -- not to mention its allies. Admittedly, we don't like being left out, but the desire to keep the nature of the mission secret from the public while admitting that it took place is by far the most arresting aspect of the story. What could the Israelis have hit that they don't want to talk about -- and that, frankly, the Syrians won't discuss either?

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the region, and the Israelis have started talking about improved relations with Syria. Israeli President Shimon Peres recently said tensions between Israel and Syria are over, and that Israel is ready to negotiate a peace settlement -- a statement as mysterious in its own way as Netanyahu's discussion of the mission. When did Israeli-Syrian tensions end? Add to this that Rice said the United States will not stand in the way of peace between Syria and Israel and the confusion is complete. She was in the region to move the peace process forward, after all. The only ones making any sense are the Syrians, who rejected all overtures and said Israel is being insincere. At least some things remain true to form.

Most intriguing are the reports we have received from Lebanon claiming that a serious division has opened up in the leadership of Hezbollah over the prospect of Syria working out a peace agreement with Israel. To even hear of a division within Hezbollah over the subject is startling, let alone the fact that the group is taking the possibility of a peace treaty seriously.

Israel periodically raises the possibility of a peace settlement with Syria, usually not all that sincerely, so Peres' comment is not completely strange. The report on Hezbollah taking this seriously is more interesting, but remember that rumors always flow in Lebanon, and this one may not be true -- or Hezbollah is simply getting itself bent out of shape.

But the thing we just can't get away from is Netanyahu admitting that there was a mission, praising Olmert, implying that it was significant and not even hinting at the target -- even though it's not a secret. We know this: The airstrike took place in Northern Syria, along the Turkish border. Both the Turks and Syrians have said so. The Israelis don't care a bit what the Syrians think, but they do care what the Turks might think. Could the target have been something entering Syria from Turkey that the Israelis didn't want arriving? That would be a reason for the secrecy about the target from both the Israelis and Syrians. Neither want to alienate Turkey, even if Turkey -- or some Turks -- were smuggling something into Syria. The Syrians wouldn't want to admit the route and the Israelis wouldn't want to embarrass the Turks.

The Turks have wanted the Israelis and Syrians to negotiate with each other. Perhaps having put the Turks in an unpleasant position, the Israelis launched a peace offensive toward Syria to satisfy Turkish sensibilities, and Washington accepted the concept of negotiations with Syria because it had no choice -- and it was confident the Syrians would sink them anyway. In the meantime, Hezbollah panicked at the thought that the Syrians might not.

This is, as they say, thin. But ever since the Sept. 6 attack, we have been drawn to the mystery of it. Every few days, the mystery deepens. As more information comes out, it is less and less understandable. Meanwhile, more uncertainties swirl around Israeli-Syrian relations. Whatever happened on Sept. 6 simply seems to grow more and more important.

stratfor.com
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« Reply #89 on: September 22, 2007, 09:00:30 PM »

Uzi Mahnaimi and Sarah Baxter

Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say.

They confirmed that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified as North Korean. This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israeli special forces had been gathering intelligence for several months in Syria, according to Israeli sources. They located the nuclear material at a compound near Dayr az-Zwar in the north.


Evidence that North Korean personnel were at the site is said to have been shared with President George W Bush over the summer. A senior American source said the administration sought proof of nuclear-related activities before giving the attack its blessing.

Diplomats in North Korea and China believe a number of North Koreans were killed in the strike, based on reports reaching Asian governments about conversations between Chinese and North Korean officials.

Syrian officials flew to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, last week, reinforcing the view that the two nations were coordinating their response.
Source TimesOnline /Drudge
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« Reply #90 on: September 23, 2007, 02:35:07 PM »

Yoni the Blogger is on right now!

http://www.middleeastradioforum.org/

Worth making note of this resource.
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« Reply #91 on: September 27, 2007, 07:21:07 AM »

Although most of this piece is about NK, I post it here because a goodly part of this piece concerns events that have been covered in this thread:

stratfor

Geopolitical Diary: A Softened U.S. Stance Toward North Korea?

The six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program are ramping up again in Beijing amid seemingly contradictory signals from the United States.

On one hand, North Korea was implicated in nuclear proliferation, through a series of leaks (intentional or otherwise) to U.S. and Israeli press outlets, after a Sept. 6 Israeli airstrike in Syria that was reportedly aimed at a facility hosting North Korean missile or nuclear technology and workers. On the other hand, U.S. representative to the six-party talks Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is offering an upbeat assessment of progress on dismantling North Korea's nuclear facilities following a pre-meeting session with North Korean envoy Kim Kye Gwan on the eve of the six-party talks.

Meanwhile, U.S. President George W. Bush used his address at the U.N. General Assembly to label North Korea a "brutal regime," and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice separately suggested that North Korea might be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism even before the question of kidnapped Japanese citizens is resolved.

The six-party talks are, in and of themselves, not necessary to solve the North Korean nuclear issue. The nuclear crisis -- or interminable bureaucratic discussion punctuated by moments of excitement -- has been going on for more than a decade. At its most basic level, it represents an attempt by North Korea, a nation squeezed between U.S.-backed South Korea and an at-best-ambiguous China to the north, to break free from the international isolation left over from the collapse of its Cold-War life-support system, all on its own terms. And the main focus of North Korean attention is the United States.

Interestingly, despite the rising speculation about North Korean proliferation to Syria, Washington does not appear to be taking too hard a line against Pyongyang leading up to this round of talks, aside from Bush's requisite lumping of North Korea in with the likes of Belarus, Syria and Iran. And Pyongyang does not appear to be taking steps that would indicate it is all that concerned about the circulating accusations or the attendant consequences for such actions one would normally expect from the United States.

Rather, it seems the earliest hints that came out after the Israeli airstrike on Syria might be the most accurate: that Pyongyang -- in private bilateral negotiations with Washington -- handed over its buyers list, including the lot numbers and details of what it sold to whom and when, and that the Israelis launched a strike on Syria following the U.S. disclosure of a small piece of that information to Tel Aviv. In return, North Korea has been promised removal from the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list, in addition to other incentives (perhaps including progress on normalization talks) as part of overall bilateral negotiations.

The mystery and obfuscation following the Israeli strike against Syria, then, allows Washington and North Korea to both play like they don't know what is going on, with neither losing face. Israel leaks that it was in possession of the information and shared it with the United States, not the other way around. (This also makes up for the obvious intelligence failure on the part of the Israelis, if they truly had to wait for North Korea to tell them where the offending material was hiding). North Korea calls Washington a hypocrite for helping Israel develop nuclear weapons and quickly meets with the Syrians, feigning ignorance and claiming conspiracy.

And remarkably, amid what might be proof positive of both Syrian attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and North Korean proliferation of nuclear material, there is no slowing of the six-party process, or of Washington's negotiations with Pyongyang.

If that is the case, then two things will come out of this week's six-party talks. First, there will be clear movement on North Korea's commitment to dismantle the aging Yongbyon nuclear facility, as well as on Washington's assurances of economic aid and removing Pyongyang from international blacklists. But this is window dressing.

More important will be the panic in China (if not also in South Korea, Japan and Russia) as it sees the United States and North Korea reshaping their relationship in spite of the other regional interests. This could strip Beijing of much of its negotiating leverage with Washington on other issues, leave Seoul off-balance as it tries to pursue its own path with regard to the upcoming inter-Korean summit and keep the outlying parties -- Moscow and Tokyo -- unsure of just what the United States will do next, or how that will affect Japan's attempts to take charge of shaping Northeast Asia and Russia's efforts to reassert itself in the region.
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« Reply #92 on: September 27, 2007, 12:44:02 PM »

Reliability of this source unknown:

========
This presents an interesting idea, to say the least...
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler
Wednesday, 19 September 2007

One of India's top ranking generals assigned to liaise with the Iranian military recently returned to New Delhi from several days in Tehran - in a state of complete amazement.

"Everyone in the government and military can only talk of one thing," he reports. "No matter who I talked to, all they could do was ask me, over and over again, 'Do you think the Americans will attack us?' 'When will the Americans attack us?' 'Will the Americans attack us in a joint operation with the Israelis?' How massive will the attack be?' on and on, endlessly. The Iranians are in a state of total panic."

And that was before September 6. Since then, it's panic-squared in Tehran. The mullahs are freaking out in fear. Why? Because of the silence in Syria.

On September 6, Israeli Air Force F-15 and F-16s conducted a devastating attack on targets deep inside Syria near the city of Dayr az-Zawr. Israel's military censors have muzzled the Israeli media, enforcing an extraordinary silence about the identity of the targets. Massive speculation in the world press has followed, such as Brett Stephens' Osirak II? in yesterday's (9/18) Wall St. Journal.

Stephens and most everyone else have missed the real story. It is not Israel's silence that "speaks volumes" as he claims, but Syria's. Why would the Syrian government be so tight-lipped about an act of war perpetrated on their soil?

The first half of the answer lies in this story that appeared in the Israeli media last month (8/13): Syria's Antiaircraft System Most Advanced In World. Syria has gone on a profligate buying spree, spending vast sums on Russian systems, "considered the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology."

Syria now "possesses the most crowded antiaircraft system in the world," with "more than 200 antiaircraft batteries of different types," some of which are so new that they have been installed in Syria "before being introduced into Russian operation service."

While you're digesting that, take a look at the map of Syria:



Notice how far away Dayr az-Zawr is from Israel. An F15/16 attack there is not a tiptoe across the border, but a deep, deep penetration of Syrian airspace. And guess what happened with the Russian super-hyper-sophisticated cutting edge antiaircraft missile batteries when that penetration took place on September 6th.

Nothing.

El blanko. Silence. The systems didn't even light up, gave no indication whatever of any detection of enemy aircraft invading Syrian airspace, zip, zero, nada. The Israelis (with a little techie assistance from us) blinded the Russkie antiaircraft systems so completely the Syrians didn't even know they were blinded.

Now you see why the Syrians have been scared speechless. They thought they were protected - at enormous expense - only to discover they are defenseless. As in naked.

Thus the Great Iranian Freak-Out - for this means Iran is just as nakedly defenseless as Syria. I can tell you that there are a lot of folks in the Kirya (IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv) and the Pentagon right now who are really enjoying the mullahs' predicament. Let's face it: scaring the terror masters in Tehran out of their wits is fun.

It's so much fun, in fact, that an attack destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and the Revolutionary Guard command/control centers has been delayed, so that France (under new management) can get in on the fun too.

On Sunday (9/16), Sarkozy's foreign minister Bernard Kouchner announced that "France should prepare for the possibility of war over Iran's nuclear program."

All of this has caused Tehran to respond with maniacal threats. On Monday (9/17), a government website proclaimed that "600 Shihab-3 missiles" will be fired at targets in Israel in response to an attack upon Iran by the US/Israel. This was followed by Iranian deputy air force chief Gen. Mohammad Alavi announcing today (9/19) that "we will attack their (Israeli) territory with our fighter bombers as a response to any attack."

A sure sign of panic is to make a threat that everyone knows is a bluff. So our and Tel Aviv's response to Iranian bluster is a thank-you-for-sharing yawn and a laugh. Few things rattle the mullahs' cages more than a yawn and a laugh.

Yet no matter how much fun this sport with the mullahs is, it is also deadly serious. The pressure build-up on Iran is getting enormous. Something is going to blow and soon. The hope is that the blow-up will be internal, that the regime will implode from within.

But make no mistake: an all-out full regime take-out air assault upon Iran is coming if that hope doesn't materialize within the next 60 to 90 days. The Sept. 6 attack on Syria was the shot across Iran's bow.

So - what was attacked near Dayr az-Zawr? It's possible it was North Korean "nuclear material" recently shipped to Syria, i.e., stuff to make radioactively "dirty" warheads, but nothing to make a real nuke with as the Norks don't have real nukes (see Why North Korea's Nuke Test Is Such Good News, October 2006).

Another possibility is it was to take out a stockpile of long-range Zilzal surface-to-surface missiles recently shipped from Iran for an attack on Israel.

A third is it was a hit on the stockpile of Saddam's chemical/bio weapons snuck out of Iraq and into Syria for safekeeping before the US invasion of April 2003.

But the identity of the target is not the story - for the primary point of the attack was not to destroy that target. It was to shut down Syria's Russian air defense system during the attack. Doing so made the attack an incredible success.

Syria is shamed and silent. Iran is freaking out in panic. Defenseless enemies are fun.

( http://www.ivanyi-consultants.com/articles/silence.html )
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« Reply #93 on: September 28, 2007, 07:02:45 PM »

IRAN, ISRAEL, SYRIA: Informed sources have confirmed that retired Iranian Gen. Ali Reza Asghari, who defected in February, gave Israel the intelligence on Syria's missile program needed for the Syrian airstrike Sept. 6. Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jeerada reported earlier that Asghari was the source of information for the airstrike. Asghari is a former aide to the Iranian defense minister and a retired general who served for a long time in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
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« Reply #94 on: October 01, 2007, 04:24:42 PM »

Geopolitical Diary: Israeli Politics and Geopolitics

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Oct. 2 for the sixth summit in the current peace process, leading up to an international peace conference planned by the United States for November. Normally, such peace conferences either achieve nothing or culminate in disaster. In the first case, they are simply gestures by all sides toward a peace process, without anyone really expecting a resolution. They are PR moves.

Then there are summits that really tackle fundamental tensions, like then-U.S. President Bill Clinton's Camp David meeting in 2000 with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. At these kinds of meetings, core issues -- such as the status of Palestinian refugees, control of Jerusalem and recognition of Israel's right to exist -- are faced squarely. Either the meeting blows apart on the spot, or the two sides start making concessions, in which case there are explosions back home. Normally, neither side has the political authority to make concessions; so with the grand gestures over, everyone goes home after the photo-ops are completed and life goes on pretty much as it did before.

The great exception to this rule was the Camp David accords signed between Egypt and Israel 30 years ago. In spite of universal expectations to the contrary, that agreement has held for more than a generation. It is the foundation of Israeli national security -- since a serious conventional threat to Israel is impossible without Egypt's participation -- and it relieved Egypt of the burden of confronting Israel. It was an agreement rooted in geopolitical reality. Egypt did not wish to mortgage its future on behalf of the Palestinians and the Israelis did not need the Sinai desert. A buffer zone was created, with foreign troops symbolically enforcing the buffer -- and it worked.

For any Israeli-Palestinian agreement to have any chance of working, there has to be some geopolitical rationality to it. Up to now, no settlement has been possible because of geography. A Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza is a social and economic abortion. It would immediately fall into dependence on Israel. Yet, at the same time, it represents a long-term threat to Israeli security, creating a Palestinian state within artillery range of Tel Aviv. And this does not even begin to deal with the questions of the future of Jerusalem, the right of Palestinians to return to Israel, or compensation for Israelis who left Arab countries.

But there is an opening at the moment. The victory of Hamas in Gaza and the continuation of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank has, for the moment, effectively created two Palestinian entities. In many ways, they are more bitterly opposed to each other than they are to Israel, at least for the time being. The division of the Palestinians is obviously advantageous to the Israelis.

Now the Israelis have to make a strategic decision. The maintenance of a split among the Palestinians requires that Abbas be strengthened. Israel is releasing Fatah fighters from prisons to bolster Abbas' forces. But creating a political settlement with Abbas that leaves Hamas stranded and isolated in Gaza, while Abbas' West Bank entity emerges into as viable a state as possible, is more difficult and more important. It means that Israel must deal with the more intractable issues, making concessions not only to strengthen secular Palestinians against Islamists, but institutionalizing the split in the Palestinian community.

The kind of political settlement that has to be made to strengthen Abbas will run directly into Israeli domestic politics. Fatah was the sponsor of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which was pivotal in the suicide bombing campaigns. Abbas has common interests with Israel for the moment, but he is no friend of Israel by any stretch of the imagination. For many Israelis, Abbas is the heir of Arafat, which means the heir of 40 years of terrorism.

Olmert hardly has the political base to make concessions to Abbas. At the same time, the deep division among the Palestinians, which has always been there in various ways, has now congealed into a geographical split. The more radical and intractable faction controls Gaza. Its enemy, the more secular movement, dominates the West Bank. The West Bank is far more important to Israel than Gaza. Maintaining that split and making a separate peace with Abbas should be tantalizing.

But the Israelis are likely to pass up the chance, for three reasons. First, they simply don't trust Abbas. Second, a Palestinian state along the 1948 borders poses a danger to Israel regardless of whether it includes Gaza. Finally, the Israelis are not prepared to make the kind of concessions that would make Abbas a Palestinian hero. However, from the Israeli point of view, the problem with inaction is that Hamas has been the rising tide among Palestinians -- if Israel passes on this moment, it could face Hamas in a pre-eminent position in the West Bank as well as in Gaza.

Splitting one's enemies is the pivot of geopolitics. The United States sided with Stalin against Hitler, with Mao against Brezhnev. The Palestinians have split themselves. Geopolitically, Israel has an obvious move, but politically it is an unsustainable one. Abbas is no friend of Israel and is playing his own game. His back is against the wall. But Abbas has a common enemy with Israel: Hamas.

It is Israel's move. If history is any guide, it will choose politics over geopolitics.

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« Reply #95 on: October 02, 2007, 07:36:53 PM »

 to Syria to upgrade the Syrian air-defense network, London daily The Times reported. The team reportedly was dispatched after Syrian airspace was penetrated by an alleged Israeli airstrike Sept. 6 near Dayr az-Zawr. The Times report also suggests that the Israeli air force successfully applied, for the first time, a sophisticated electronic warfare system that jammed Syria's Russian-made radar during the attack.

ISRAEL, SYRIA: The Israeli air force targeted an abandoned military building during its secret mission into Syria on Sept. 6, Syrian President Bashar al Assad said Oct. 1. In his first public comments about the event, al Assad said the raid demonstrated Israel's disregard for peace, but distanced himself from the possibility of war with Israel. He also said Syria will boycott the U.S.-hosted Middle East peace conference if the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights would not be discussed.



ISRAEL, SYRIA: Israel Defense Forces lifted a censorship measure preventing Israeli media from reporting that Israel carried out an airstrike on a Syrian target Sept. 6. The move comes after Syrian President Bashar al Assad on Oct. 1 confirmed the airstrike, which he said targeted an unused military facility. Israel is upholding censorship on any details about the strike.
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« Reply #96 on: October 03, 2007, 11:54:03 AM »

Yet we hear from some that the Jews in America control the media and our pols.

Just saying "Jews control the media" implies some sort of conspiracy and is (rightly) considered bigotry and not taken seriously.   But there's no denying that a lot of Jews (some would say a disproportionate amount) happen to occupy powerful positions in our government and the media, and it would be absurd to think this doesn't in any way influence our policy towards Israel.

Quote
Israel cannot count on the US to be there if push comes to shove.  Americans will not want to risk life and limb for Jews.

I think WW2 pretty clearly demonstrated that Americans are willing to risk their lives for Jews when the cause is just.  Israel is not simply "Jews" but implies a set of policies and ideas that plenty of people who aren't anti-Semites consider unjust and morally bankrupt for very specific reasons.


Actually, I would have to disagree with you on this part.." think WW2 pretty clearly demonstrated that Americans are willing to risk their lives for Jews when the cause is just" 

American's did not enter the war to help save jewish lives, We entered the war because we were attacked. We entered the war to kick start mass production from the war-machine..And we entered the war for alot of other reasons. American soliders were not even aware of death camps or the extermination of jews till much, much later in the war and if you think that at that time in American culture that Americans were going to send their Son's off to save jewish lives, I think your mistaken.

My grandfather took part in a Couple WW2 battles and he told me he had no idea till the final leg of the war that jews were envolved.

America went to war for alot of other reasons then going to help jewish people.

And it seem's now that alot of the American public, Politicans and Lobbiest are getting tired of the Israel vote and good,We should not tally up more American death's count to help out another foregin nation.

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« Reply #97 on: October 04, 2007, 08:04:03 AM »

I agree that we did not enter WW2 to help the Jews, though awareness on the part of some that Hitler was evil in part was due to his hatred for the Jews, but with this "We entered the war to kick start mass production from the war-machine", , ,  rolleyes
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« Reply #98 on: October 04, 2007, 11:22:55 AM »

I agree that we did not enter WW2 to help the Jews, though awareness on the part of some that Hitler was evil in part was due to his hatred for the Jews, but with this "We entered the war to kick start mass production from the war-machine", , ,  rolleyes

I said that was one of many reason's. The economy shot up for America, Job's increased..More and more Factory job's and blue coller work open up for American's. The American Warmachine brought America out of a crink. If you go back and look at how many job's were created because of ww2 it's unreal. Steel production shot up though the roof and the government opened it's door's for Employment, not just sending people though boot camp but because they got their hand's on a whole new flow of money they were able to out sorce building production to citizen companies in America.

Car compaines were able to expand, Medical research was pretty much still in the stone age and were now given the green light to advance, the weapon Industry, Communication was allowed to make a boom, Radar , air travel...

When I said "kick start the warmachine" I should have put down everything that went along with it. It was a term that we used in College to describe everything that went with the War machine. Job's , economy , advancement and resorce

But those time's have changed War's no longer make a Nation's economy rise , now they just make a few old people more riches and it break's the economy of a Nation.
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« Reply #99 on: October 04, 2007, 11:31:45 AM »

Max:

Now you are making a different point-- that the war had the effect of getting the economy going.  Your original assertion was different-- that a reason for entering the war was to get the economy going.

The latter point I do not find to be serious and the former, although widely held, I think less accurate than to say that the Depression, which was triggered by the fragmentation of the world wide economy from competitive currency devaluations and the likes of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, did not end until the re-unification of the world wide economy with the Bretton Woods Accords after WW2.
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