June 15, 2024
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Iran Instigating Sunni-Shiite Confrontation

(TIP) Arab media outlets are reporting on growing regional fears that Iran is seeking to ethnically alter the landscape of the Middle East, and to flood areas of Syria with Shiites in order to solidify sectarian control of the area. Tehran is reportedly spending billions of dollars to purchase land in the country, which has become the epicenter for what analysts increasingly fear will spiral into a full-blown regional Sunni-Shiite conflict. The Iran-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, has been steadily rolling back two years of opposition gains. Support from the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah has been critical in these campaigns, which have included successful efforts to seize the strategic city of Qusayr and then parts of Homs. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey noted that ”the tide seems to have shifted in [Assad’s] favor.”

London Transport Reverses Emirates Airline Deal That Included Israeli Exclusion

(JNS.org) Greater London’s major government-owned transportation body has reversed its agreement to refuse business ties with Israel or any Israeli companies in exchange for a 10-year, £36 million sponsorship deal with Emirates Airline for a railway car running over the Thames river. The UAE has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Transport for London posted the contract with Emirates Airline online. The contract states that the company will default on the agreement if it engages with “(i) any Competitor; or (ii) any person who is a national of, or who is registered, incorporated, established or whose principal place of business is in a country with which the United Arab Emirates does not at the date of this Contract or at any relevant point during the Term maintain diplomatic relations.” Before it was canceled, the Zionist Federation said the deal set a dangerous precedent effectively allowing UAE money to dictate government policy through commercial contracts. Following swift public outcry and a ZF chairman’s statement, the Israeli exclusion condition agreed between Emirates Airlines, the UAE official airline, and TfL has since been removed.

Turkey Peeved at Morsi Ouster

(TIP) Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkish media that former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is still “my president,” and that the army’s actions against Morsi—which came in response to the largest national anti-government demonstrations in the history of humanity—”ignor[ed] the Egyptian people.” Erdogan was an early and consistent supporter of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-linked government, and Ankara reacted to Morsi’s removal with outrage. Cairo had already summoned the Turkish ambassador to Egypt last week after Ankara described Morsi’s removal as an “unacceptable coup.” The decline of the Brotherhood’s political prospects in Egypt has been taken by observers as a severe blow to efforts by Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) to establish regional influence and serve as a model for what had been hailed—in some corners of the foreign policy community— as a new model for democratic Islamism.

Iranian Missiles Could Reach U.S. By 2015

(Israel Hayom/ JNS.org) Iran could develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015, a U.S. intelligence report recently revealed. The “Foreign Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment,” prepared by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, states that since 2008, Iran has conducted multiple successful launches of the two-stage Safir space launch vehicle and has also revealed the larger two-stage Simorgh SLV, which could serve as a test bed for developing ICBM technologies. Since 2010, Iran has revealed the Qiam-1 SRBM, the fourth generation Fateh-110 SRBM, and claims to be mass-producing anti-ship ballistic missiles. Iran has modified its Shahab 3 medium-range ballistic missile to extend its range and effectiveness and also claims to have deployed the two-stage solid-propellant Sejjil MRBM.Iranian ballistic missile forces continue to train extensively in highly publicized exercises. These exercises enable Iranian ballistic missile forces to hone wartime operational skills and evolve new tactics. Iran is fielding increased numbers of theater ballistic missiles, improving its existing inventory, and developing the technical capability to produce an ICBM.

A Friendly Letter to Qatar

(TIP) A “Dear Colleague” letter currently collecting signatures in Congress—and due to be delivered to Qatari Ambassador to the U.S. Mohammed Bin Abdullah al-Rumaihis—expresses concern over Doha’s assistance to HAMAS, which the letter says “empowers, legitimizes, and bolsters an organization committed to violence and hatred.” The letter, circulated by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and John Barrow (D-GA), comes at a time when Qatar is scrambling to maneuver around the removal from power of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Doha had strongly supported Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement, with documents being published this week showing six-figure payments from Qatar to top Brotherhood officials.

Jewish Patrol Unit to Protect Mosques in London

(JNS.org) Jewish crime-fighting volunteers in London met last week with Muslim leaders and agreed to patrol mosques and other Islamic buildings to reduce anti-Muslim hate crimes. The London-based Shomrim are Jewish volunteers who collaborate with authorities to prevent crimes, including hate crimes. Since the murder of British soldier Drummer Lee Rigby on the street by Muslim extremists in southeast London, anti-Muslim hate crimes have risen in Great Britain. The local Muslim community turned to the local Liberal Democrat councilor, Ian Sharer, who connected them to the Shomrim, the London Jewish Chronicle reported. The collaboration is “just the beginning of a long-term partnership between the two communities,” said Shomrim patrol supervisor Chaim Hochhauser.

Israel and Turkey: Divergent Paths

(TIP) A combination of political ideology and entrenched anti-Semitism within Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party threatens to derail efforts to reconcile with Israel—at significant cost to Ankara’s interests—according to an array of recently published analyses and reporting in Turkey. Veteran Turkish journalist Kadr i Gursel suggested this week that Erdogan and his AKP party are institutionally incapable of normalizing with Israel because, “as an Islamist government that has produced so much anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” it has lost the political and rhetorical option of doing so. The point was echoed by experts who gathered at a Tel Aviv conference last week, where the broad consensus was that Erdogan’s tactics of bolstering his domestic credibility via anti-Semitic appeals have undermined the chances for an improvement in bi-lateral relations. A recent poll of Israelis seems to confirm the sentiments, and a majority of Israelis now view a partial apology offered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—which came as part of the deal brokered by Obama—as a mistake.

500-Year-Old Jew Unearthed in Brazil

O Globo, a news site based in Rio de Janero last week described the discovery as a perfectly-preserved skeleton of a male adult last month, just outside of Recife, Brazil. That was the town where Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquistion settled as Dutch citizens, until the Inquistion pursued them further—and a number who fled landed in New Amsterdam in 1654. Marcos Albuquerque of the Federal University of Pernambuco, director of the dig, said there was no doubt  the man was Jewish and that he was buried sometime in the 16th century. He was found buried five feet underground during excavation for a new tunnel, about a mile and a half from where the Jews of Recife had built their synagogue, Kahal Zur. The professor was sure he was right because, he told reporters,  “In Christian tradition, it is customary to bury the dead with their hands crossed over their chest, but this man was buried with hands laid alongside his body before rigor mortis set in. Furthermore, the body was buried in simple shroud without jewelry or any other private belonging and without casket. Albuquerque added, “Out of respect to the religious issue, we left the body where it was found.”

Saudi Arabia: Missiles Pointed at Tel Aviv and Teheran

(TIP) An expose published by Jane’s Defense Weekly discloses that Saudi Arabia is maintaining a ballistic missile base “deep in the Saudi desert” with surface-to-surface missiles oriented toward, and capable of striking, Tel Aviv and Tehran. Robert Munks, deputy editor of Jane’s Intelligence Review, said that “this base is either partly or fully operational, with the launch pads pointing in the directions of Israel and Iran respectively.” The revelation will be read against deepening fears that Saudi Arabia is upgrading its ballistic assets in response to fears that Iran is advancing toward developing a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia has for decades been in possession of missiles capable of being fit with nuclear warheads, and the Kingdom has been explicit that it will respond to Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition by abandoning its nonproliferation obligations and building its own arsenal. Similar calculations have been expressed by Iranian rivals throughout the region, with Sunni countries warning that Iran’s atomic program, which is widely assumed to have a clandestine component, risks “a grave and destructive nuclear arms race in the region.”

Arabs Pressure Israel Over Alleged Nuclear Program at Upcoming IAEA

(JNS.org) Arab diplomats from 18 nations plan to pressure Israel over its alleged nuclear program at September’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) annual meeting at the United Nations. A letter the Arab diplomats addressed to IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano asked for “Israeli nuclear capabilities” to be included on the agenda for the September gathering, according to the website of the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, despite Iran’s race to the bomb. Reuters reported that Israel’s representative, Ehud Azoulay, called the Arab initiative “counterproductive” and said it was aimed at “bashing Israel.” Israel maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity over its program—believed to have been developed during the 1960s—and is also the only country in the region that is not a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Last month, the IAEA’s Amano said that Iran is continuing to make “steady progress” on its nuclear program, despite economic sanctions by the West. When asked about the impact of sanctions, Amano said, “I don’t see any impact.”

No, Once Again

(TIP) A recent meeting in Ramallah between Israeli and Palestinian officials was blasted by several Palestinian factions—including elements of the Fatah group to which Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas belongs—for promoting “normalization” between Israel and the Palestinians. The denunciations were not the first time in recent weeks when Fatah members have lashed out against efforts to bridge gaps between the parties, and they come in the wake of polling data showing that more than half of the Palestinian public believes that the Palestinian government should reject a current U.S. peace initiative. Palestinian officials have in recent weeks again rejected the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians without preconditions.

The British Are Coming…Around

(TIP) Britain is placing increased pressure on its European Union partners to formally blacklist parts of Hezbollah as a terror organization, months after E.U. diplomats began privately acknowledging that new evidence of multiple terror plots conducted by the Iran-backed group on E.U. soil made it difficult to sustain objections to imposing such a designation. Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev has emphasized that in recent months Sofia uncovered additional evidence implicating Hezbollah in the July 2012 bus bombing in Burgas that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian. His statements came on the eve of the bombing’s July 18th anniversary, and as European Union officials were scheduled to meet again to discuss blacklisting the Iran-backed group as a terror organization. There has been substantial pressure on the E.U. to acknowledge that a group that kills E.U. citizens in terror attacks on E.U. soil is in fact a terrorist group. The Bulgarian investigation, coupled with the Cypriot conviction in March of a confessed Hezbollah member on terror-related charges, has heightened that pressure. Diplomats from countries seeking to overcome internal E.U. resistance have become increasingly public about their frustrations regarding the reluctance of some fellow member states to blacklist Hezbollah, with one official bluntly telling AFP this week that “the evidence that it [Hezbollah] committed terrorism on EU soil is strong.”

Muslim Brotherhood or Muslim Mafia?

(TIP) CNN posted a report highlighting incidents in Alexandria during which Muslim Brotherhood supporters threw teenagers off rooftops, killing at least one of them. The outlet contextualized the video on its site with a caption suggesting that the atrocities risked shedding “an unflattering light on Egypt’s jihadists.” Also threatening to cast Egyptian jihadists in an unflattering light is a video reportedly showing Islamist gunmen mixing with demonstrators demanding the release of Muslim Brotherhood-linked former President Mohammed Morsi and then firing at army troops. Muslim Brotherhood officials have since tried to blame the Army for incident, which took place outside Cairo’s Republican Guard headquarters and left dozens dead. The accusations are in tension with explicit reports from the scene—including those offered by Brotherhood-linked witnesses—to the effect that the live fire did not come from the army, and that “thugs” in civilian clothes had carried out the shootings. The army subsequently moved against Brotherhood figures it accused of being linked to the violence, arresting several top Brotherhood officials including Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. Al Arabiya feels that the Brotherhood may be “falling back to violence after its failure to lead the country.”

Ramallah Protesters Call For Launch of Third Intifada

(JNS.org) Arab demonstrators with covered faces marched in Ramallah calling for the launch of a third intifada (uprising) against Israel and chanting “military action is the shortest route to end occupation.” Ma’an News Agency reported that the protester group called “Tamarod” (rebellion), the same name as the movement that protested recently deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, included both men and women who chanted that a new intifada will revive the Palestinian cause.

 

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