How Saudi Arabia sending ground forces into Syria will have huge ramifications on the civil war

Turkey and Saudi Arabia plan war against Russia and Syria. Turkey to invade Syria Lees verder...

Islamitische Staat en de Saoedische Zondebok

Jorn Vennekens

In de vele besprekingen over Syrische burgeroorlog wordt Saoedi-Arabië regelmatig aangehaald als hoofdverdachte in de zaak van het ontstaan van Islamitische Staat (IS). Onterecht, zo vindt Jorn Vennekens[1]. Het Saoedisch buitenlands beleid is complex en wordt als een gemakkelijke zondebok gebruikt.

In september 2014 was Saoedi-Arabië één van de eerste landen die zich bij de Verenigde Staten aansloten in de strijd tegen de zelfverklaarde Islamitische Staat. Veroordelingen door de koning en de religieuze leiders moesten aantonen dat de Saoedi’s zich duidelijk distantieerden van deze groep. IS verkondigde immers zich op te maken voor de verovering van het Saoedische Land van de Twee Heilige Moskeeën, ofwel Mekka en Medina. Een direct dreigement, dat niet zonder antwoord kon blijven. Desondanks werden de Saoedi’s steeds vaker beticht van medeplichtigheid aan het ontstaan van IS. Na de aanslagen in Parijs lijkt het land eens te meer een ideale zondebok.

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De strijd tussen Saoedi-Arabië en Iran

Foto: Flickr.com / Stephen Coles Lees verder...

What Really Happened in Iran

The CIA, the Ouster of Mosaddeq, and the Restoration of the Shah

 Back in 2009, during his heavily promoted Cairo speech on American relations with the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama noted, in passing, that “in the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” Obama was referring to the 1953 coup that toppled Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq and consolidated the rule of the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Obama would go on to remind his audience that Iran had also committed its share of misdeeds against Americans. But he clearly intended his allusion to Washington’s role in the coup as a concession -- a public acknowledgment that the United States shared some of the blame for its long-simmering conflict with the Islamic Republic.

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Is Hezbollah ethnically cleansing Sunnis in Syrian Alawite areas?

2. Amir Taheri (NY Post) accuses Hezbollah of ethnic cleansing in areas of Syria vital for an Alawite mini-state:

Since September, Assad’s forces have been trying to expel those Sunnis, replacing them with Nusairiyah and Lebanese Shiite settlers. Hezbollah is giving a helping hand to that sinister scheme and paying the price.

Once the Sunni Muslim villages have been ethnically cleansed, Hezbollah would next have to move on villages such as Marmarita, Zeydal and Firuzah that are populated by Christians, as well as ethnic Turcoman villages opposed to Assad, notably Al-Samalil, Aqrab and Talaf.

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An Escalating Regional Cold War –

Part I: The 2009 Gaza War
By: Y. Carmon, Y. Yehoshua, A. Savyon, and H. Migron *

Table of Contents

Introduction

The 2009 Gaza War: Timeline

The Iranian-Saudi/Shi'ite-Sunni Rivalry in the Wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution

The Escalation of the Conflict During Ahmadinejad's Presidency

Iran Extends Its Influence Into the Arab World

The Emergence of the Iran-Syria-Qatar-Hizbullah Axis

The 2009 Gaza War Deepens the Schism Between the Two Camps

After The War - The Schism Between the Two Camps is An Acknowledged Fact

The Saudi Camp: Iran Is Responsible for the Rift in the Arab World

"The Trojan Horse" - Qatar's Role in Consolidating the Iranian Axis

Two Camps, Two Contrasting Approaches to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Introduction

The recent Gaza war was portrayed by the international media as a local military conflict between Israel and Hamas. However, this war, like the 2006 war in Lebanon and various other military and political events in the last three decades in the Middle East have a common denominator - namely, all stem from the conflict between revolutionary Iran and the Saudi Kingdom and the respective camps of each. This conflict is key to understanding the Middle East in the 21st century.

This Saudi-Iranian conflict, whose various aspects - geostrategic, religious, ethnic, and economic - have been affecting the Middle East for the past 30 years, began with the Islamic Revolution in Iran, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Since then, there have been lulls (especially during the era of former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami), but the conflict flared up again after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose to power. The conflict has now escalated into an actual cold war, and is reflected in the emergence of two distinct blocs in the Middle East: the Iranian axis (comprising Iran, Syria, Qatar, Hizbullah and Hamas) and the Saudi-Egyptian camp, with which most of the other Arab countries are identified.

This schism, and cold war, will have a major impact on the local, regional, and international level, severely restricting options for diplomatic activity, to resolve the intra-Palestinian rift, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the problem of a nuclear Iran.

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'Obama Was Brought To Power By the Jews...

January 29, 2009 No. 2218
Lebanese Author Farid Salman: 'Obama Was Brought To Power By the Jews... Before They Establish the Semitic Middle East, They Want to Tear America to Shreds... Obama Will Be the Cause...'

Following are excerpts from an interview with Lebanese author Farid Salman, which aired on OTV on November 25, 2008.

TO VIEW THIS CLIP AND OTHERS, YOU MUST LOG IN/REGISTER FOR MEMRI TV, AT http://subscriptions.memri.org/content/en/member_registr_tv.htm. REGISTRATION IS FREE OF CHARGE.

To view this clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1991.htm.

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Syrian Opposition TV Accuses Syrian Regime of 'Shi'izing' Syria

January 20, 2009 No. 2197
Syrian Opposition TV Accuses Syrian Regime of 'Shi'izing' Syria, Says 'Iranian Influence in Syria Has Gone Beyond' Cultural, Military, and Economic Relations

Following are excerpts from programs on opposition TV, in which the Syrian regime is accused of "Shi'izing" the country. The programs aired on the Syrian opposition channel Al-Zanoubiya TV, broadcasting from Europe, on December 15-16, 2008.

To view this clip, visit
http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1956.htm.
"Iran is Involved in the Very Heart of the [Syrian] Regime"
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EU bietet 1,6 Milliarden Dollar für Gaza-Wiederaufbau

18.01.2009

In fünf Jahren dürfen wir!

Nachdem Olmert gestern eine einseitige Waffenruhe für den Gazastreifen angekündigt hat, fliegen heute sämtliche EU-Leitkühe und Leithammel nach Israel. Einer will den anderen ausstechen. Die Flugzeugmotoren laufen! Seit Tschechien den EU-Vorsitz innehat, wird dieses Land übergangen, und die anderen, allen voran Monsieur Kurzschluß aus Paris und die deutschen Weltherrscher Merkel und Steinmeier, befinden sich in einem Wettlauf, den Titel als Friedensfürst zu erringen. Dafür soll Israel nun die Übergänge zu Gaza öffnen, damit wieder möglichst viele Flüchtlinge nach Europa hereingelassen werden können - die bisherigen reichen nicht! Schon alleine die medizinische Behandlung muß klarerweise in europäischen Krankenhäusern durchgeführt werden, denn in Gaza mangelt es an allem. Wenn die Patienten dann gesund sind, bleiben sie gleich da und ziehen ein paar Verwandte nach! Und gleichzeitig bietet die EU neue 1,6 Milliarden Dollar an für den Wiederaufbau Gazas (Quelle Debka)! Der Teufel soll Brüssel holen! Man kann nur ein ganz klein wenig hoffen, daß angesichts der Finanzkrise die Leute sich in Europa aufregen und den Parteien Bescheid stoßen! Europawahl ist ja auch noch dieses Jahr!

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"Yes, I Am An Antisemite"

January 15, 2009 No. 2190
Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi Responds to MEMRI: "Yes, I Am An Antisemite"; If Not for the Arab Rulers, "We Would Devour [The Jews] With Our Teeth"; "We Are Your Enemies… Until The Day Jesus… Descends, Fighting You And Calling To Join Islam"

Recently, MEMRI TV released a clip of a speech by Sheikh Safwat Higazi that aired on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV on December 31,2008,in which he said: "Being killed... is what we desire and hope for. It is martyrdom, by Allah... I wish I could stand among the youth of the Al-Qassam Brigades, passing them one of their missiles, wiping from their faces the dust of a missile that was launched, or crying 'Allah Akbar' along with them... Dispatch those sons of apes and pigs to the Hellfire, on the wings of the Qassam rockets... Jihad is our path... The [Jews]... deserve to be killed. They deserve to die. Destroy... everything over there" (to view this clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1972.htm ).

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Exclusive MEMRI Viral Video Release For Free Download "Hamas: In Their Own Voices"

MEMRI is today releasing a new and exclusive viral video, titled "Hamas: In Their Own Voices." TO VIEW THIS VIDEO VISIT, http://www.memritv.org/video.html.

The video, a compilation of MEMRI TV clips that aired prior to the current Gaza crisis, includes statements by Hamas leaders calling for the annihilation of Israel and of all Jews, for death to America, and for the Islamic conquest of the world.

Featured are Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, Hamas MPs Mushir Al-Masri and Fathi Hamad, Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, Palestinian Legislative Council acting speaker Sheikh Ahmad Bahr, and Hamas clerics Wael Al-Zarad and Muhsen Abu 'Ita.

Viewers will also witness Hamas military training for adults and children, anti-American speeches at rallies including burning of the American flag and calls of support for "The Afghan Mujahidin", Hamas Al-Aqsa TV children's shows, and more.

Add the Video to Your Social Networking Pages

You can view and download the video here . Email it, put it on your social networking pages, and share it with others.

Recent Attempts to Form Strategic Regional Bloc: Syria, Turkey and Iran

By: O. Winter *

Introduction

In August and September 2008, a series of meetings and mutual visits took place among the Syrian, Iranian, and Turkish heads of state. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad visited Turkey and Iran in the first week of August, and a few days later, on August 14, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Turkey. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan then visited Damascus in early September.

In reference to these visits, it was reported in the Arab press that Syria was attempting to form a strategic bloc with Iran and Turkey, and to establish a trilateral consultation and coordination mechanism with them. The Syrian press stated that the three countries held similar positions on many regional issues, including the Iranian nuclear dossier, the geographical unity of Iraq, and the intra-Palestinian conflict, and that they would be able to shape the future of the region according to their interests.

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Article in Sudanese Daily: 9/11 – A Great Victory for the Jihad-Fighting Muslim Nation

On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the 1973 war between Arab countries and Israel and the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Sudanese daily Al-Intibaha published a column by 'Othman Fuad 'Othman arguing that the Arabs have a distorted perception of these events. 'Othman wrote that the 1973 war is perceived as an Arab victory when in fact it ended in defeat, whereas 9/11 is perceived as a defeat for the Muslim nation, when in reality these "blessed attacks" were a "great victory" for the Muslims. 'Othman added that the distorted view of 9/11 is the result of psychological warfare waged against the Arabs by the "Zionist-Crusaders."

Following are excerpts from his article: [1]

The 1973 October War Was a Defeat, Not a Victory

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Planning an invasion of Lebanon?

By Olivier Guitta

I just wrote an article for the Middle East Times looking at the possibility of a Syrian invasion of Lebanon.
You can read the full article here.

Here is an excerpt:
President-elect Obama should be careful in his dealings with the Syrian regime. In fact, quite possibly, Assad might be pondering if he could get away with reoccupying Lebanon.

The whole strategy of finding excuses to re-invade Lebanon is little by little being put in place. The most ominous signs were the deployment of 10,000 Syrian special forces on the northern border followed by the recent deployment of additional troops on the eastern border. Syria explained that it was to prevent Sunni Salafists terrorists from entering Syrian territory.

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The International Muslim Brotherhood and Darfur

One of the fascinating and disheartening issues around those who advocate an on-going dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood is the failure to look at the record of what the Brotherhood is and what it stands for.

The latest example is the reaction of several important Muslim Brotherhood groups to the International Criminal Court’s decision to indict Sudanese president Omar Bashir on charges of genocide. It is easy to forget that Sudan justifies its actions on the basis of being an Islamic nation, and many of its current and past leaders, particularly Hassan al Turabi, are senior members of the Brotherhood.

According to the Daily Muslim Brotherhood Global Report (subscription required), the International Union for Muslim Scholars, led by senior Brotherhood theologian Yousef Qaradawi, as well as several other organizations, have condemned the ICC indictment. The reasons are interesting, and predictable.

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Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide: Bin Laden is a Jihad Fighter

On May 22, 2008, the reformist Arab website www.elaph.com posted a comprehensive interview with Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi 'Akef. [1] In the interview, 'Akef discussed the Egyptian domestic scene, and presented the Brotherhood's position on democracy and on the status of the Copts and women in Egypt. He expressed support for the resistance in Iraq and Palestine, and for the activities of Al-Qaeda. [2]

'Akef's statements evoked harsh criticism among clerics and politicians both inside and outside Egypt, who perceived them as praise for bin Laden and his terrorist activities. [3] Faced with such critical reactions, 'Akef attempted to qualify his position with respect to bin Laden, explaining that bin Laden's ideology was based on violence and that the Muslim Brotherhood movement opposed all violence, except when directed against occupation. He also denied any connection between his movement and Al-Qaeda, which he called "a figment of Americans' imagination." [4]

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Saudi Arabia's Waning Influence On the Oil Market

By: Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli *

Introduction

In the 1970s, particularly during the oil embargo of 1973, the oil market was almost single-handedly dominated by then-Saudi Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Zaki Yamani. "For more than two decades," writes Pamela Sherrid, "Ahmed Zaki Al-Yamani's commands boosted or battered personal pockets books and national economies around the world." [1] Today, when Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi talks, the market yawns, and when his king announces in an international conference that Saudi Arabia will increase crude production, the price of oil goes up.

Overview of Oil Pricing and Supply

The price of crude oil has skyrocketed in recent months, inching toward $150 a barrel, with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries president Chekib Khelil warning that the price could rise to $150-$170 a barrel in the summer. Opinions vary on the reason for the mounting price. Producers argue that supply and demand are in equilibrium and the chaotic oil market is a result of high-powered speculators who seek to make a quick profit by generating artificially high demand and hence higher prices. The rapid depreciation of the U.S. dollar against other major currencies is another reason for higher oil prices. By contrast, oil companies maintain that the failure of supply to match rising demand is the reason for the high prices. Oil companies have long complained that resource nationalism is preventing them from exploring new oil fields in oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and elsewhere.

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The Iranian Roots of Hizbullah

By: Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli *

"Iran is the only country that does not interfere in Lebanon." Mahmoud Ahamdinejad [1]

Introduction

Ahmadinejad's absurd statement coincided ironically with the publication in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat of an extensive interview with Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, who has recently completed a total of 14 years as Iran's ambassador to Syria. By his own admission, Akhtari was the most senior Iranian liaison official with Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and the architect of the special relationship between Iran and Syria. Akhtari was also the founder in Damascus of the Palestinian-Iranian Friendship Society.

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Wael Julaidan, Al Qaeda Founder, Active Again in Saudi Arabia?

Jun 5, 07:20

Is Wael Julaidan, founder of al Qaeda and one of only two Saudis ever designated as terrorist financiers by the Saudi regime and supposedly out of circulation, back in the public spotlight? It would seem so.

According to the English language Saudi paper, the the Arab News Julaidan was a featured speaker at a recent conference hosted by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). The article was first noted and commented on by the Global MB Report (registration required).

There are no other known leaders of Julaidan’s stature that my most knowledgeable sources say share that name, or would be noted with such prominence, so the likelihood that it is the same Julaidan that is designated by the UN, the US and Saudi Arabia, is very high.

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A Clean Sweep: Amal, Hizbullah Take Much of Beirut in Redux of Hamas' Gaza Takeover

By: Yigal Carmon and E. Zweig *

Introduction

Following the 2006 Lebanon war, and during the standoff of the Lebanese government and the March 14 forces versus Hizbullah and the Amal forces, Hizbullah has engaged in wide-ranging efforts to rearm, reorganize, and rebuild towards confrontation on two fronts - against Israel and against the March 14 and government forces.

Two elements of Hizbullah's preparations have been uncovered in the past few weeks: Hizbullah's independent communications network, [1] and a surveillance network at Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport, set up by airport security chief Wafiq Shuqer, who is in the service of Hizbullah (see footnotes for MEMRI’s reports on these issues going back to 2007). [2]

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Exclusive: Lebanon slides towards new civil conflict

Pro-Western Siniora government and Iran-Syria-backed Hizballah forces exchanged fire in the streets of Beirut Wednesday, May 7. DEBKAfile’s sources report both have ordered a general call-up of their adherents.

Hizballah fighters clad in national army and police uniforms are infiltrating government party strongholds in the capital to seize control. In the north and the western Beqaa Valley region of Kharoub, government forces are mobilizing. First units have been sighted heading for Beirut.

During the day, Hizballah blocked the roads leading to the airport and vowed to keep it under siege until the Siniora government goes back on the decision announced Tuesday, May 6, to shut down the private telecommunications network Iran installed for the group and reinstate the pro-Hizballah airport director Gen. Wafiq Shuqeir. To pile up anti-government pressure, Hizballah called labor unions out on strike.

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Kuwaiti Columnist Ibtihal Al-Khatib Criticizes Hizbullah, Declares That a Secular State is the Only Way to Protect Religious Rights in the Arab World

Liberal Kuwaiti Sh'ite activist Dr. Ibtihal Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khatib, an academic, has received numerous death threats for her criticism of Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah over the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, and for calling for a commission of inquiry like Israel's Winograd Commission to examine his activities in that war. [1]

The following are excerpts from an interview with Dr. Al-Khatib, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on March 14, 2008:

To view this clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1720.htm.

 

"When An Infrastructure Worth Billions Is Destroyed, When You Have Thousands Of Casualties... How Can This Be Considered In Any Way A Victory?"

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Iran’s Involvement in Iraq

Authors:
Lionel Beehner
Greg Bruno, Staff Writer

Updated: March 3, 2008

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Saudi Columnist Laments Expulsion of Christians from Arab Countries

Arab Countries

In the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Saudi columnist Hussein Shubakshi discussed the phenomenon of Christian emigration from Arab countries. He criticized the fact that this trend was being ignored, and warned of its serious and far-reaching ramifications for Arab society as a whole.

The following are excerpts from Shubakshi’s article: [1]


"[Jewish Emigration from Arab Countries] Helped Invalidate the Claim that Religious Moderation, Coexistence, and 'Acceptance of the Other' [Prevailed in Arab Countries]"

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Save Lebanon from Syria and Iran

By OLIVIER GUITTA

The The outpouring of emotion and rage following the brutal assassination of towering Lebanese figure Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14, 2005, triggered the hopeful Lebanese Cedar Revolution. The anti-Syrian movement behind it, the March 14 forces, succeeded in forcing tens of thousands of Syrian troops to leave Lebanon.

But that did not mean Syria was totally out of Lebanon. In fact, right after the Syrian withdrawal, the very well informed Kuwaiti newspaper Al Seyassah reported that, according to sources close to the Lebanese Ministry of Interior, tens of thousands of Syrians were naturalized, and among them were 5,000 Syrian intelligence personnel. And as of today, Syria is still very much in charge of Lebanon. What is the international community doing about this?

Not much, to say the least.

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DEBKAfile: In a polemical assault on Israel as a Jewish state, Saudi prince offers peace plan for “Arab Jews”

In an interview with Reuters, PrincePrince TurkiTurki al-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the US and UK, again touted the 2002 Saudi peace initiative requiring full Israeli withdrawal from “occupied Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese land” in return for “full normalization of relations.” But Turki added a refinement: If Israel signed a comprehensive peace, “one can imagine the integration of Israel into the Arab geographical entity.” He went on to say: "We will start thinking of Israelis as Arab Jews rather than simply as Israelis."

DEBKAfile’s political sources note that this influential Saudi, a former intelligence chief and brother of foreign minister Saudi al Faisal, is keeping up the relentless Arab assault on the Zionist ideal of a sovereign Jewish state in its ancestral homeland.

Furthering his vision of an Arabized Israel, the Saudi prince holds out the promise of: "Exchange visits by people of both Israel and the rest of the Arab countries would take place."

The interview took place at a conference in Kronberg on the Middle East and Europe staged by Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation think-tank.

The Collapse of the Saudi Sunni Bloc against Iran's Aspirations for Regional Hegemony in the Gulf

By: Y. Yehoshua, I. Rapoport, Y. Mansharof, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon*

For the past two years, the Gulf states have been part of a Sunni bloc established by Saudi Arabia to counter Iran's aspirations for regional hegemony. During this period, Saudi Arabia made efforts to distance Iran from "Arab affairs," while the Gulf states were already in political conflict with Iran over the issue of the three islands (Greater and Lesser Tunb, and Abu Moussa) that Iran had forcefully seized from the UAE in 1971, and following recent statements by senior Iranian leaders threatening Bahrain's sovereignty. [1] Some in Saudi Arabia even called on the Gulf states to form a military alliance against Iran. [2] This Gulf policy vis-à-vis Iran was in line with U.S. efforts to isolate it in both the regional and the international arenas.

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Al-Arabiya TV Report: Al-Qaeda Controls U.S. Prisons in Iraq

In a report that aired December 21, 2007, Al-Arabiya TV examined how life in U.S. prisons in Iraq is largely controlled by Al-Qaeda members. According to the report, "some of these prisons have turned into factories for converting innocent people into extremists." One former inmate stated, "When you enter prison, either you become one of them, or else they kill you."

Following are excerpts from testimonies by former inmates on conditions in the prisons.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1650.htm .

 

"Some of These Prisons Have Turned into Factories for Converting Innocent People into Extremists"

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Arming, Military Training, and the Weapons Trade in Lebanon

By: H. Varulkar*

The current political crisis in Lebanon, which began following the August 2006 Israel-Hizbullah war, is now coming to a head. Two of the country's biggest camps - the March 14 Forces, which constitute the majority in the Lebanese parliament, and the Lebanese opposition headed by Hizbullah - have failed to reach agreement over who will be the country's next president and over the makeup of the next government. These two issues will affect the direction the country will take, whether towards the axis of Syria-Iran-Hizbullah, or towards the moderate Arab camp. If no president is chosen by December 31, 2007, the Lebanese parliament will adjourn for three months, leaving the presidential office vacant for a significant period of time - thus increasing the chances of armed violence in the country.

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Saudi-Iranian rapprochement gains impetus with Washington’s blessing. Moscow sets timetable to finish Bushehr reactor

Saudi king Abdullah has invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be the first Islamic Republic president to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, which begins on Dec. 18. It will be their second public appearance together in two weeks. Their first was at the GCC summit in Doha, where they arrived hand in hand. DEBKAfile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly have closely tracked the unfolding of the Saudi-brokered Washington-Tehran dialogue, moving on now to the evolution of Riyadh’s own epic rapprochement with Tehran.

This development signals Saudi recognition of Iran and its president as regional powers and King Abdullah’s willingness to share his Middle East leadership role with an Iranian partner. The rug is implicitly pulled from under the international campaign to punish Iran severely for its nuclear activities, while Tehran’s ally Syria and surrogates, Hizballah, Hamas and Jihad Islami, gain new standing.

Moscow has also announced a timetable for finishing Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr complete with fuel, confirming DEBKAfile’s report of Dec. 4.

A Committed Terrorist Discusses Syria's Role & Assistance

By Andrew Cochran

MEMRI has released a transcript of an interview with Shehada Jawhar, formerly the Al-Qaeda terrorist in charge of training in Iraq, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on December 7, 2007. It is a bloodcurdling look into the mind of a shameless, evil murderer, and every American should read it. For me, two of the key points in the transcript deal with the role of Syria in assisting and promoting terrorism, including an attempt by official Syrian intelligence agents to support Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before U.S. forces killed him. U.S. government officials who (inexplicably) hang onto the dream of drawing Syria into a "grand bargain" for Mideast peace should keep these segments in mind. His statements appear credible in light of his obvious pride in his success in killing Americans and those Iraqis working for peace.

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Bush Embarks on Saudi-Brokered Deal with Tehran

 DEBKA-Net-Weekly 328 first revealed on Dec. 7 that a Washington-Tehran understanding is in the making, brokered by Saudi Arabia. According to Washington and intelligence sources, the first steps of the dialogue were made possible by the US National Intelligence Estimate of Dec. 3 affirming that Iran’s nuclear weapons program had been put on hold in 2003. This public statement effectively took the US military option off the table, as stipulated by Riyadh and Tehran Lees verder...

Hezbollah in the driver's seat in Lebanon

By Olivier Guitta

Hezbollah's grip over Lebanon is increasing by the day. And the West does not seem ready to stop this freight train any longer.
The Croissant just reported the following two stories (full versions available to subscribers) that prove how Hezbollah is planning its "coup": Did Hezbollah arrest UNIFIL’s commander, a few weeks ago? Iran provides armored cars to Hezbollah.

I just wrote a piece for the Middle East Times on Hezbollah's tactics to seize power .
Here is a short excerpt:
While Lebanon is without a president for now, it looks like a favorite is quickly emerging: Lebanon army chief and Damascus ally General Michel Sleiman. If he were to be elected, the winner would not only be Syria, but more importantly Hezbollah.

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Surprise, Surprise: Yet More Evidence that the Majority of Foreign Fighters in Iraq Come from Saudi Arabia

By Evan Kohlmann

Almost since the beginning of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq in late 2003, there has been an ongoing public debate about the significance and origins of foreign-born jihadists who have traveled to Iraq intent upon joining Al-Qaida and killing Americans and Muslim "apostates". Despite a veritable avalanche of evidence suggesting that these foreign fighters have had a disproportionate role in destabilizing Iraq and that a large cross-section (if not outright majority) of these fighters are coming from Saudi Arabia, a host of journalists and experts have wasted no effort in downplaying their impact. Regular readers of the Counterterrorism Blog will recall Jonathan Finer's article in the Washington Post, similar pieces published in the Christian Science Monitor, and a litany of commentary from Tony Cordesman (based almost entirely upon facts spoon-fed to him by Saudi intelligence and paid Saudi lobbyists).

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Iran's secret Syrian plan

By Olivier Guitta

While the story about the September Israeli bombing on a Syrian nuclear facility has been off the radar for a few weeks, the implications of what really took place are going to reverberate for a long time.
For more on this, The Croissant (available to subscribers) ran several stories on this issue.

Interestingly, while North Korea has been mentioned many times, the role of Iran has not been scrutinized.
I just wrote a piece for the Middle East Times on that topic.
Here is an excerpt:
Israel has been providing intelligence and satellite images to the U.S. about a secret Syrian nuclear program for several months, according to media reports. Discussions between Israel and the United States took place last summer regarding a possible strike. But when Israel found the matter so pressing that when they realized the U.S. was not ready to act, on September 6 they attacked a Syrian nuclear site. Hence the question: what is Syria really up to or more to the point what is Iran up to?

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: Iranian-Syrian-French negotiators in Tehran posit Michel Khouri as front-runner for Lebanese president

Under this compromise, DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources disclose, the Fouad Siniora government would be replaced and Hizballah’s militia legitimized. If the negotiators in Tehran Monday - Iranian foreign minister Manuchehr Mottaki, Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem and French special emissary Jean-Claude Cousseran – strike a bargain, the cliffhanger over Lebanon’s presidential election will end in the nick of time. Michel Khouri, former governor of the central bank of Lebanon, will be unanimously elected by the Lebanese parliament Wednesday, Nov. 21.

Our sources add that the national consensus behind the presidential candidate would also entail the election of a new national unity cabinet, including Hizballah. Another condition is the acceptance of Hizballah’s armed militia, in contradiction of UN Security Council resolutions which required it to be disbanded.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that a deal for ending the Lebanese presidential crisis on these terms, if it is finalized, would strengthen Syria’s hand in Lebanon and its roles as a central Middle East player and a dominant party at the forthcoming peace conference in Annapolis. For the first time, an active state sponsor of terrorists – from Hizballah to Hamas – would be awarded a front seat at a peace process shaped by the Bush administration.

Iran: Has the Rising Price of Oil Trumped Sanctions?

By Victor Comras

A major debate is ranging in European capitals on how best to deal with the growing prospect of confrontation with Iran over its ongoing nuclear weapons development program. Last month French President Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on their EU colleagues to impose new EU sanctions against Iran. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also warned that dire consequences could result if Iran were permitted to continue unimpeded on its presence course. G7 Ministers meeting in Washington also praised new warnings issued by the 34 nation Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that Iranian banks posed serious international money laundering and terrorism financing risks. The United States had hoped that against this background EU countries would follow-suit after the US targeted new sanctions measures against Iran’s largest banks, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and IRGC controlled companies. But, this has not happened. Rather, the EU council has put on hold any new measures pending further developments and further reports from EU negotiator Javier Solana and IAEA director Mohamed El Baradei.

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Extremist RABITA welcomes Bosnian Muslim Imam

November 12th, 2007

President of the Saudi-funded Muslim World League (aka RABITA), Dr. Abdullah Abdulmohsin Al-Turki, is throwing a party in Mecca right now where world’s leading Imams and Islamic intellectuals have gathered to discuss the coming clash of civilizations that, in all likelihood, they seek to instigate.

A noticeable presence at this conference is the Chief Bosnian Muslim Imam Mustafa Ceric. Mustafa Ceric recently dispatched another extremist Imam Sulejman Bugari to the US in order to radicalize the American Bosnian Muslim flock. Ceric also traveled to Washington before going to Saudi Arabia. I Washington, Ceric approved of the hired congressional help that will help push resolutions that seeks to place Bosnian Serb Christians under Islamic domination.

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Yemen & Turkey: First "Walkaways" Under Assumed U.S. Retreat

By Andrew Cochran

An editorial early in October by Tariq Alhomayed, Editor-in-Chief of the influential Asharq Al-Awsat, probably voiced the opinion of many leaders in the Arab world: "In preparation for the American withdrawal from Iraq, activity is in full swing to fill the imminent vacuum in Baghdad. The Iranians are not the only ones who are preparing for this; the Syrians are also getting ready... America will leave the region and we will find ourselves opening a new chapter that is no better than where we are today. After the devouring of Iraq and Lebanon at the hands of Iran and Syria, the Gulf region will be under the siege of the Islamic revolution and under pressure from Syrian meddling." These statements and the full editorial weren't anti-American, just straight predictions based on an assumption among Arab leaders that the inevitable American withdrawal from Iraq is the precursor to a broader retreat from the region.

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Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: After U.S. Withdrawal

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: After U.S. Withdrawal, Gulf Will Be 'Under the Siege of the Islamic Revolution and Under the Pressure of Syrian Meddling'

In an editorial titled "[The] American Withdrawal and the Second Stage," published October 9, 2007 in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, editor Tariq Alhomayed warned of what might happen after the U.S. withdraws its forces from Iraq. He argued that Iraq would be taken over by Iran and Syria, which are seeking to dominate the Middle East, and that the result would be the spread of extremism and violence throughout the region.

The following are excerpts from the article, as it appeared in the English edition of Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. [1]

"In preparation for the American withdrawal from Iraq, activity is in full swing to fill the imminent vacuum in Baghdad.

"The Iranians are not the only ones who are preparing for this; the Syrians are also getting ready. A recent report in TheNew York Times details Syria’s intentions towards Baghdad.

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Nervengas bei UN gefunden

 

 

 

Behälter mit Nervengas im UN-Hauptquatier

 

Foto: AP

 

 

Beim Aufräumen in den Räumen der Vereinten Nationen in New York ist giftiges Nervengas entdeckt worden. Die Behälter stammen aus dem Irak.

 


Der Fund mehrerer Behälter mit extrem gefährlichem Nervengas aus dem Irak hat bei den Vereinten Nationen in New York für erhebliche Aufregung gesorgt. Mitarbeiter der früheren UN-Waffenkommission im Irak (UNMOVIC) seien beim Aufräumen in ihrem Büro auf die versiegelten Behälter mit dem Nervengas Phosgen gestoßen, teilte UN-Sprecherin Marie Okabe am Donnerstag mit. Nach ersten Erkenntnissen waren die Behälter mit dem Gas als Proben aus einer Fabrik im Irak 1996 nach New York gebracht worden. Laut Okabe verständigten die Vereinten Nationen die amerikanische Bundespolizei FBI, die die Behälter nach unbestätigten Informationen inzwischen von Experten beseitigen ließ.

 

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Gaza Strip: Fuel supply renewed

Gaza Strip's fuel authority on Wednesday confirmed the shipment of fuel had been renewed. The European Union suspended fuel deliveries to a major Gaza power plant after it started to suspect the Strip's Hamas rulers were pocketing electricity revenues, the AP reported.

On their part, Hamas officials denied skimming money, saying the allegations were cooked up by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' government in the West Bank. The fuel cutoff left at least half of Gaza Strip's 1.4 million residents in the dark and without fans as temperatures soared to 34 degrees. Without enough power to keep pumps going, authorities began rationing water.

The electricity outage initially started Friday after Israel closed a fuel crossing with the Strip, citing security threats. Although Israel reopened the crossing on Sunday, the fuel shipments were not renewed because the EU notified the Israeli fuel vendor that it would not pay for them. On Tuesday, the EU declared it would resume fuel payments to the power plant, but that the plant must be audited.

© 2007 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

New Hizballah Dedicated Networks in South Lebanon?

By David Schenker

Buried in the last paragraph of a story in the Lebanese daily An Nahar today was a short paragraph describing a request by Hizballah to the council of ministers to “extend telecommunications cables in the areas of the south next to the public telephone lines.” The Lebanese Government is said to be studying the request.

This odd tidbit appears in an article with the subtitle “The Government Addresses the Extension of Phone Networks for Hizballah in the South.” The article itself provides few details, but raises a lot of questions. Why does Hizballah need its own dedicated communications network in the South, particularly given the proscriptions contained in UN Security Council Resolution 1701?

Saudis’ Role in Iraq Frustrates U.S. Officials

This article was reported by Helene Cooper, Mark Mazzetti and Jim Rutenberg, and written by Ms. Cooper.

WASHINGTON, July 26 — During a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted a top American envoy with documents that seemed to suggest that Iraq’s prime minister could not be trusted.

One purported to be an early alert from the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr warning him to lie low during the coming American troop increase, which was aimed in part at Mr. Sadr’s militia. Another document purported to offer proof that Mr. Maliki was an agent of Iran.

The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, immediately protested to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, contending that the documents were forged. But, said administration officials who provided an account of the exchange, the Saudis remained skeptical, adding to the deep rift between America’s most powerful Sunni Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, and its Shiite-run neighbor, Iraq.

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Problem of Jews and Christians expelled from Arab lands must be dealt with in any Middle East peace process – US Congressional caucus states

July 21, 2007, 12:04 PM (GMT+02:00)

Of the million-strong, 2,500-year old Jewish communities of the Middle East, only 8,000 remain in 10 Arab countries, said former Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Dr. Irwin Cotler in his briefing to the bipartisan Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington co-headed by Frank R. Wolf (R.-VA) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), Thursday, July 19. Yet against the 101 UN resolutions passed on the Palestinian refugees since 1947, not one addressed the forcible expulsion of Jews from Arab countries by state-orchestrated oppression, persecutions and pogroms.

This raises serious questions about the appropriateness of the United Nations having a role in the Middle East Quartet meeting in Lisbon Thursday, said Cotler, counsel to former prisoners of conscience Andrei Sakharov and Nelson Mandela. he whole question of refugees and refugee claims is at the forefront of the Peace Process, and integral to the Roadmap. Rights for Jewish refugees from Arab countries, 600,000 of whom were absorbed in Israel, have to be part of any peace process with a claim to integrity.

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The Fatah-Hamas Conflict: Roots and Implications

The Events in Gaza

The Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip was the culmination of two separate processes which began years ago. The first is the resurgence of Islam as the primary foundation of individual and collective identity in the Middle East. I will deal with this issue in more detail further on, but at this point I want to emphasize that in Gaza, where the Muslim Brotherhood has been deeply implanted for many years, Islamization has been especially far-reaching. It has included not only Islamist indoctrination in the mosques, but has also occurred through a wide variety of social services - kindergartens, clinics, welfare to the poor - all provided under the banner of Islamic charity.

The second process was the decline in the power and prestige of the Palestinian Authority (henceforth: PA) and its main constituent body, Fatah. This process began as soon as Arafat set up the PA in Gaza and the West Bank. The PLO, and specifically Fatah - Yasser Arafat's organization and the main constituent body of the PLO - failed to make the transition from the phase of "struggle against the Zionist enemy" to the phase of institution-building and governance. Corruption and ineffective leadership in the PA territories created a void that was filled by Hamas. Even though Hamas, like all the Islamist groups, rejects democracy as a matter of principle, it took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the elections to the Palestinian parliament (in January 2006) and won the majority of seats. Subsequently, Hamas formed a government with Isma'il Haniyeh as prime minister. Fatah, defeated in the elections, has refused to turn over power (primarily - public funds and control of the armed forces) to Hamas. The Saudis made an attempt to resolve the dispute by brokering an agreement between the rival movements (the Mecca agreement of last February) - an agreement that has obviously not held up.

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Arab Countries Must Join Forces to Counter Iranian Threat

In an article published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa and in the English-language Kuwaiti daily Arab Times, the editor-in-chief of both papers, Ahmad Al-Jarallah, wrote that Iran was increasingly taking control of countries in the Middle East - including Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf states - in order to strengthen its position in future negotiations with the U.S. over its nuclear program. In his article, he said that Arab countries must convene a summit to counter this threat, and must "hit the head of the snake in Tehran."

The following are excerpts from the Arab Times article, in the original English: [1]

"Tehran Will Gain Complete Control Over Iraq When the U.S.-Led Coalition Forces Leave Iraqi Soil"

"The entire Arab world is in danger, after becoming the epicenter of Iran's policies. Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's aggressive policies confirm our fears. Many issues which concern only Arabs have now fallen into the hands of Iran. After Hamas, using weapons, separated Gaza from the West Bank, the Palestinian issue has become a property of Tehran.

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Iran Claims Spy Networks Disrupted

July 10, 2007 -- Iran has reportedly discovered five new espionage networks allegedly linked to Western intelligence services.

Iran's Fars and IRNA news agencies quoted the head of the intelligence service in the western province of Kermanshah as saying a total of 20 people have been arrested, including Iranians and foreigners.

The official, identified only as Karimi, said the alleged spies were trained for economic, military, political, cultural, and social espionage.

Tehran has previously accused the United States, Israel, and Britain of operating in Iran to destabilize the Islamic republic.

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Potential Water Conflicts in the Middle East

By: Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli

At a Capitol Hill briefing on June 6, 2007, Senior Analyst of MEMRI's Middle East Economic Studies Program, Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli addressed staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on water poverty and potential water conflicts in the Middle East.

Dr. Raphaeli will be the editor of MEMRI's upcoming Economic Blog. The blog will provide its readers with economic news from the Middle East as well as analysis of major developments and trends.

The following is the paper Dr. Raphaeli presented at the briefing:

Introduction

This briefing comprises two parts: part one offers an introduction to the water poverty in the Middle East, part two focuses on three potential areas of conflict: [1]

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Cartoons in the Arab Press on the Hamas Takeover in Gaza

Numerous cartoons recently published in the Arab press dealt with the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

Some of the cartoons condemned the brutal murders perpetrated by Hamas, implied that they have led the movement, as well as the Palestinian cause, to a dead end, and presented the fighting among the Palestinians as shocking and pointless. Others presented the civil war as the result of an American-Israeli plot carried out with the collaboration of Fatah. And one cartoon even depicted Gaza as an Iranian nuclear outpost.

Below is a sample of the cartoons:

Hamas Brutality

Cartoon No. 1: The masked fighter is saying "the government is illegitimate." The caption above the severed head is deliberately ambiguous, and can be interpreted as meaning either "legitimate butchery" or "butchery according to Islamic law," the latter hinting at Hamas.

Source: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), June 18, 2007.

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Iran bombers attack Our Boys

By TOM NEWTON DUNN
Defence Editor

June 26, 2007
IRANIAN forces are being choppered over the Iraqi border to bomb Our Boys, intelligence chiefs say.

 

Military experts claim this worrying move means we are at WAR with Iran in all but name.

Last night an intelligence source told The Sun: “It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran — but nobody has officially declared it.

“We have hard proof that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have crossed the border to attack us.

“It is very hard for us to strike back. All we can do is try to defend ourselves. We are badly on the back foot.”

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: Sudden Egyptian decision to lift anti-Hamas blockade of Gaza.

President Hosni Mubarak’s astonishing U-turn renders pretty pointless the conference he convened in Sharm al Sheikh Monday, June 25, to discuss the Hamas takeover crisis. Only Saturday, he denounced Hamas for staging an illegal coup. Sunday, June 24, our exclusive intelligence sources report an official VIP convoy headed by Hamas’ interior minister Siad Sayam – who is believed to have masterminded the Hamas coup in Gaza - was allowed to drive out of Gaza with 15 senior Hamas commanders who led the military action against Fatah last week. Their cars bore official Palestinian government plates. Egyptian security units escorted the convoy from Rafah to Cairo international airport, where the Hamas delegation emplaned for Damascus.

Egyptian intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman then held a long telephone conversation with Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, who later made a speech declaring “resistance” (codeword for terror) was the only way forward for the Palestinian people.

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Lebanon, Gaza, the Broader Syro-Iranian Offensive

By Walid Phares

The latest dramatic military and terror events in Gaza and Lebanon can be viewed from a regional geopolitical perspective: A Syro-Iranian axis offensive on its (their) primarily western front stretching along the Mediterranean coast.
..
In previous analyses I have argued that the Tehran-Damascus axis is involved in a regional campaign to seize as much physical terrain and score as many victories across the Middle East in order to consolidate their strategic posture before 2008; the year they believe Americans will limit – perhaps diminish — their moves because of the U.S. presidential campaign season.

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Adding Hezbollah to the EU Terrorist List

Featuring Matthew Levitt
June 20, 2007

House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe

Introduction Pressing our European allies to add Hezbollah to the European Union (EU)�s terrorism list is more important today than ever before. Nearly a year after it dragged both Lebanon and Israel into a devastating war last July, Hezbollah has reportedly restocked its weapons caches and missile arsenals, rebuilt much of its destroyed infrastructure, and capitalized on its ability to hold the Israel Defense Forces at bay (and the political reckoning that followed in Israel) to position itself as an even more dominant player in domestic Lebanese politics as well as the face of �resistance� and pride in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Hezbollah�s proactive support for radical Palestinian elements engaged in acts of terrorism and political violence is central to these groups� success and continues unabated. Renewed rocket attacks into northern Israel this week and the recent Hamas coup in Gaza (which tactically replicated Hezbollah tactics in Southern Lebanon) are just the most recent disturbing signs of how successful this strategy has been. Hezbollah is Syria�s primary proxy in Lebanon seeing to Syrian interests in the wake of the withdrawal of Syrian troops in April 2005, playing a particularly disruptive role opposing the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate and try suspects tied to the Hariri and other bombings targeting political and intellectual leaders of the anti-Syrian coalition. Hezbollah operatives are further suspected of training Iraqi insurgents and of sending it own combatants to Iraq. Lees verder...

Syro-Iranian massacre of Lebanese Politicians

By Walid Phares

With the assassination of Lebanese MP Jebran Tueni in December 2006, months after the murder of political leaders George Hawi and Samir Qassir during the summer, the Syro-Iranian terror war room had opened a bloody hunt against the democratically elected Lebanese Parliament. After the withdrawal of regular Syrian forces from Lebanon in April 2005, Bashar Assad and his allies in Tehran designed a counter offensive (which we described then and later) aiming at crumbling the Cedars Revolution. One of the main components of this strategy was (and remain) to use all intelligence and security assets of Syria and Iran in Lebanon in order to “reduce” the number of deputies who form the anti-Syrian majority in the Parliament. As simple as that: assassinate as many members as needed to flip the quantitative majority in the Legislative Assembly. And when that is done, the Seniora Government collapses and a Hezbollah-led cabinet forms. In addition, if the Terror war kills about 8 legislators, the remnant of the Parliament can elect a new President of the Republic who will move the country under the tutelage of the Assad regime.

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Qatari Reformist: The Root Cause of Terrorism is The Culture of Hate

Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, former dean of the shari'a and law faculty at Qatar University, has recently published several articles in Gulf papers about terrorism and its root cause. According to Al-Ansari, terrorism is the outcome of a culture of hatred in the Arab countries, and in order to eliminate it, the culture of hate must be eliminated.

The following are excerpts from the articles:

Baseless Excuses for Terrorism

In an article titled "How the Arabs Explain the Terror Phenomenon" in the Qatari daily Al-Raya, Al-Ansari criticized the ways in which the Arab world denies and ignores the phenomenon of terrorism, and refuted the political and socio-economic arguments justifying it:

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Lebanese army faces Damascus-backed resistance from Fatah al Islam in the northern Lebanese camp of Nahr al-Bared

DEBKAfile reports: After two weeks of fighting, the Lebanese army is still stalled in its effort to break through to the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and rout the Fatah al-Islam radicals holed up there. Two tough obstacles have not been overcome - even with the help of a US-Jordan-UAE airlift of military aid in the last ten days or the mobilization of Lebanese army commando units.

1. Fatah al-Islam are not fighting alone; they are backed by elite units of the Iranian-Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian-General Command, which is commanded by Ahmed Jibril. These Palestinian units are highly trained in urban guerrilla warfare by Syrian commando battalion officers and Iranian Revolutionary Guards and have better skills than the Lebanese commandoes.

2. The radical fighters are getting as many guns and as much ammo as they need to ward off a Lebanese commando incursion into the camp. To avoid tipping its hand, Damascus is holding back the pro-Syrian militias in northern Lebanon from direct involvement in the fighting. But they were heavily armed beforehand and are now diverting to the Fatah Islam everything they need to keep on fighting.

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DEBKAfile: Hizballah head warns Lebanon and Arab world not to tangle with al Qaeda on US behalf. BBC reporter’s kidnappers urge jihadists to help Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon

Al Qaeda’s regional and Palestinian network has come to the surface under the pressure of the Fatah al-Islam-Lebanese showdown in the northern Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp.

Hassan Nasrallah’s dramatic TV speech Friday night, May 25, confirmed that the Fatah al-Islam faction fighting in Lebanon is al Qaeda, at a time when the jihadists’ deepening involvement in the Palestinian cause is taboo for Israeli, Arab and Western spokesmen. Nasrallah bluntly urged the Lebanese army not to storm the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli because that would entangle Lebanon in the US war on al Qaeda. The camp and Palestinian civilians would be a red line. “We will not accept or provide cover or be partners in this,” he said. The Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah alliance should support the Sunni group fighting in the Lebanese Palestinian camp, not oppose it.

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Al Qaeda's New Front in Lebanon

By Walid Phares

Yesterday in northern Lebanon, a group named Fatah al Islam conducted several attacks against the Lebanese Army, killing (up to) 25 soldiers and losing (up to) 15 members in addition to civilian casualties. The fighting is still raging at this hour. This security development, which could be happening in many other spots in the troubled Middle East, from Iraq to Gaza, and from Somalia to Afghanistan, has however a special dimension. It signals in fact the opening of a new front in the War with al Qaeda’s Terror: Lebanon. Here are the reasons:

AQ-Lebanon-1.jpg AQ-Lebanon-2.jpg

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DEBKAfile reports: Radical Palestinian groups backed by Tehran and Damascus aid Islamists battling Lebanese troops for third day

These reinforcements have prevented the Lebanese army from breaking down the resistance of the armed Fatah al-Islam fighters in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp outside Tripoli in northern Lebanon. At least 32 soldiers, 20 Islamist fighters and dozens of civilians have been killed. The Lebanese troops continued pounding the camp Tuesday.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that among the groups streaming to the camp since Monday, May 21, are gunmen of Ahmed Jibril’s radical Poplar Front for the Liberation of Palestinian-General Command and Abu Mussa’s breakaway Fatah. Both maintain headquarters in Damascus, notwithstanding US demands to remove them. Jibril is known to draw funds from Tehran. Their armed men could not have crossed from Syria without Damascus’ approval, thus belying Syria’s denial of direct interference in the violence which is posing an acute challenge to the Lebanese army.

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The Shifting Balance in the al Qaeda/Salafist Structure

The Los Angeles Times has a story laying out what my sources have been saying for some time: The al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq are now in a more dominant position within the overall al Qaeda structure, in part because of the Iraq organization’s ability to generate funds.

While there are still foreign fighters in the Afghan-Pakistan region, most foreign combatant are choosing Iraq for their combat experience. The Afghanistan conflict is dominated by the Taliban, and there is tension between the Arab fighters and the resurgent Pashtun-dominated group.

This is in part because the Taliban remains focused on its local conflict rather than global jihad objectives. The Taliban is not overly welcoming of outsiders, with many feeling they lost their control of Afghanistan because of al Qaeda.

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Darfur in the Arab Press

By: O. Winter

The ongoing massacre in Darfur, which has been raging since 2003, receives scant coverage in most of the Arab media. The few articles that appear on the subject generally minimize the importance of reports on the ethnic cleansing in the region, [1] and most of them characterize the international efforts to stop the bloodshed in Darfur as a Western, American, or Zionist plot aimed at seizing the country's natural resources. [2] Furthermore, the extensive coverage of Darfur in the Western media is portrayed in these articles as an attempt to divert the attention of international opinion from events in Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, and Somalia.

Nonetheless, on occasion some sharply critical articles are published which condemn the Arab media's indifference to the events in Darfur. [3] These articles urge the Arab countries to drop the conspiracy theories and support the international community's efforts to stop the bloodshed in the region.

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To the Arab Jews: Happy Passover!

In an article on the Arab reformist websites Aafaq (April 9, 2007) and Middle East Transparent (April 8, 2007), Egyptian author Hisham Al-Tuhi rejects the view that Muslims should not convey holiday greetings to non-Muslims on their holidays, reviews the history of Jews in Arab countries in the 20th century, and wishes Jews still living in Arab countries a happy Passover.

The following are excerpts: [1]

In Response to My Norouz Holiday Greetings, I Received [From Muslims] a Flood of Racism, Hatred, Ugliness, and Abuse

"In my previous article, I gave holiday greetings to the Afghanis and the Kurds on the Norouz holiday, [as well as] the Egyptian Baha'is. The letters came in from the caves: a flood of racism, hatred, ugliness, and abuse.

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Algiers Terror "Ghazwa": It is a global war with Terror, in different battlefields

By Walid Phares

Today's suicide attacks in Algiers leaves us with the following thinking points:

1. The Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (with its new name) joined al-Qaeda few months ago. It is now waging "Jihad" against the Algerian state, civil society and democracy movements in that mostly Arab Muslim country. The press release by al Qaeda of Maghreb -aired on al Jazeera TV- is clear: It is about a global Jihadi campaign with Algeria and other countries as "battlefields."

2. This is an additional evidence that the War on Terror is global and not linked directly and exclusively to U.S. Foreign Policy. The Jihadists in Algeria are targeting Algerians from all backgrounds while there are no US troops in that country. It is a struggle that began before 9/11 and is resuming today.

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DEBKAfile Military Report: Blasts killing 4 British troops in Basra were the Iranian extremists’ rejoinder to the pragmatists who forced release of 15 captured Britons

Approximately two hours before the freed British sailors and marines flew out of Tehran for home, formally released by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after 12 days’ in captivity, a patrol of two British armored vehicles was struck by a roadside bomb trap northwest of Basra and 4 soldiers killed.

In London, Tony Blair said there was a clear link to elements in Iran who support terrorism in Iraq.

Two powerful roadside bombs were planted on both sides of their patrol route very near an Iraqi army checkpoint in Hayaniya, a stronghold of Shiite cleric Mogtada Sadr’s pro-Iranian Mehdi Army militia on the northwestern outskirts of Basra.

Since the British lookout had not warned the patrol of its danger, the bombs were presumed to have been planted by the Iraqi soldiers who would not have aroused suspicion. The Iraqi troops were indeed arrested. The bombs themselves were of Iranian manufacture, as are 95% of all such devices which explode in Iraq.

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Are the Tides Turning for Al-Qaida in Iraq? Signs of an Ugly Rift with the Islamic Army in Iraq (IAI)

By Evan Kohlmann

For months, there has been vigorous ongoing debate over the current state of Al-Qaida and its "Islamic State" in Iraq--its popularity, its brutality, and its longterm sustainability. The discussion has grown more complex in recent weeks as other Sunni insurgent groups--such as the Iraqi Islamic Resistance Front (JAAMI)--have begun to loudly complain about Al-Qaida's ISI aggressively muscling in on their territory and resources. Add to this the sudden break-up of the 1920 Revolution Brigades into two factions, one Sunni nationalist and one pro-ISI. The split itself was sparked by the assassination of the former leader of the 1920 Brigades, apparently at the hands of Al-Qaida. Arguably, the last straw was the ISI's Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's latest audio message, in which he arrogantly suggested that Sunni insurgents were incapable of fighting the U.S. and Iraqi government without the help of Al-Qaida. Al-Baghdadi even challenged other Sunni insurgents who refused to join the ISI to prove their salt by videotaping their own suicidal ambushes on U.S. bases and military barracks in Iraq.

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: The Sword of Islam (al Qaeda) kidnapped and is holding BBC reporter Alan Johnston

Our counter-terror sources report that Johnston, 44, was snatched Monday, March 12, in Gaza City, by the same group which together with Hamas kidnapped the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit in June 2006. It is led by the brothers Mumtaz and Muetaz Durmush.

Palestinian security units have been going through the motions of hunting for the missing journalist, throwing up roadblocks and searching vehicles. In actual fact, they know exactly who is holding him. Although it is an open secret, the Palestinian authorities, like the British, who maintain a broad intelligence presence in the Gaza Strip, and Israel all feign ignorance about the party behind the kidnap.

The BBC is counting on a private deal for freeing Johnston, thereby giving the Durmush brothers another boost. Every few weeks the al Qaeda group they head targets a Westerner as a hostage. All of them, excepting the Israeli soldier, have been ransomed for hundreds of thousands of dollars, a supply of weapons and guarantees of safety for the Durmishes and their Sword of Islam gang.

DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources see this process, which repeats itself periodically, as abject surrender by the United States, Britain, other European governments and Israel to a virulent form of al Qaeda terror instead of fighting it.

Is U.S. Supporting Brotherhood Activities in Syria?

By Jonathan Winer

An important article in The New Yorker by Sy Hersh describes in detail a redirection of U.S. counter-terrorsim policy away from focusing on extreme Sunni forces in the Middle East in order to redirect it against Iran and Syria.

In Hersh's words:

"To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda."

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Jordanian Columnist on the Possibility of a Split in the Iran-Syria Axis

In a February 8, 2007 article titled "The Tehran-Damascus Axis: Tactical Disagreements or the Beginning of a Split?" former Jordanian information minister Saleh Al-Qallab, currently a columnist for the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, said that the cooling in Iran-Syria relations may lead to the end of their partnership and even to intense hostility between the two countries, unless they manage to bridge over the differences in their priorities. He added that if Syria senses that Iran is planning to abandon it, it will hasten to give the U.S. everything it wants in return for guarantees regarding both the future of the Syrian regime and the international tribunal for the Al-Hariri assassination.

The following are excerpts from the article. [1]

"Recent Developments Have Led to a Conflict Between the Priorities of Damascus and Those of Tehran "

"...Recent developments have led to a conflict between the priorities of Damascus and those of Tehran. Damascus, which ascribes the utmost importance to [the issue of] the international tribunal [for the Al-Hariri assassination], regards the Iranian nuclear issue as less central, though not as an entirely secondary matter. Tehran, [on the other hand], gives top priority to the nuclear issue, and regards the international tribunal as a marginal question which must not cause an escalation in the Lebanese crisis or in the general tension that currently prevails in the region.

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Muqtada al-Sadr left Iraq, in Iran

Under pressure, the leader of the Mahdi Army fled to Iran Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Iranian backed leader of the Jaish al-Mahdi, or Mahdi Army, left Iraq several weeks ago and is staying with 'family' inside Iran, according to an ABC News report. Military officials told ABC News Sadr is said to have left Iraq just prior to the deployment of U.S. forces, and feared being targeted by U.S. Air Force.

While the reports indicate Sadr is staying with family, a source in the U.S. intelligence community told us Sadr is under the protection of the Iranian government. "Sadr is currently being protected by Qods Force," the same Iranian special forces unit that is believed to have executed U.S. soldiers in Karbala, Iraq, and has been supplying Sunni and Shia terrorists with weapons, support and agents to killed Coalition forces. Members of Qods Force are currently in U.S. custody.

Sadr's underlings have been reported to be fleeing Iraq to Iran in January. Sadr's departure from Iraq indcates he takes the Baghdad security plan seriously, and fears for his direct safety. U.S. and Iraqi forces battled Sadr's militia numerous times during the late summer and fall of 2006. U.S. and Iraqi forces detained over 15 leaders of the Mahdi Army and killed 1, and detained over 600 fighters from December 2006 to January of 2007.

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: Al Qaeda’s latest menace to America’s oil sources embodies a plan to inflame Saudi Shiites against the Riyadh throne

In the February issue of Sawt al Jihad entitled “Bin Laden and the Oil Weapon”, the Saudi wing of the jihadist group calls for attacks on US oil suppliers in the Middle East, Canada, Venezuela and Mexico. In a separate article, al Qaeda reports preparations for “quality attacks to shake the foundations of the crusaders in the Arabian Peninsula.”

DEBKAfile’s al Qaeda experts draw some disquieting conclusions from the two articles:

1. That the magazine reappeared after a nearly two-year absence is the first sign that Osama bin Laden’s organization has been able to regroup and reorganize its operational cells, despite a heavy Saudi security clampdown.

2. Those cells are primed for a fresh wave of attacks - not only against oil targets but also American military, economic and commercial interests as well as civilians working and living in the oil kingdom.

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The Middle East on a Collision Course (6): The Saudi Oil Weapon

By: Nimrod Raphaeli

Introduction

In his just-published memoirs, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy relates the story of a meeting between three European foreign ministers together with Javier Solana of the European Union and President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The meeting, which took place at the United Nations on September 15, 2005, dealt with what Douste-Blazy characterized as "the generous European offer" to Iran regarding its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad was characterized by Douste-Blazy, a surgeon and a professor of medicine by profession, as stubborn, and the meeting was described as leading nowhere. Suddenly, Ahmadinejad changed the course of the conversation with the following aside: "Do you know why we should wish to have chaos at any price?" he asked rhetorically. "Because, after the chaos, we can see the greatness of Allah." [1]

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Riyadh’s Aim in Mecca: to Replace Tehran as Palestinian Hamas Backer

It is no wonder that Israeli policy-makers have had little to say to the Palestinian reconciliation accord which Saudi king Abdullah brokered in Mecca last week. Israel was shouldered off the stage as a player in Palestinian politics, as was any hope of moderating the Palestinian anti-Israel war, a breakthrough to peace talks – or even a form of long-term coexistence.

Its main outcome was the anointing of Hamas as unconditional king of the Palestinian domain.

This decline in Israel’s standing as a factor in Middle East politics dates back to the Lebanon War and its outcome last summer. If there are to be any accommodations with Israel, the Mecca accord has relegated them to an uncertain future and entirely on Saudi-Hamas terms.

At Mecca, the Saudi monarch had quite different fish to fry: the replacement of Tehran as Hamas’ senior financier and backer. To this end, he dictated a reshuffle in both rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah.

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The Middle East on a Collision Course (4): Saudi/Sunni-Iranian/Shi'ite Conflict – Diplomacy and Proxy Wars

By: Y. Mansharof, H. Varulkar, D. Lav, and Y. Carmon

The Middle East is currently in the throes of a comprehensive crisis that manifests itself in three main modes of conflict - political-military, economic, and religious - and in three main arenas - Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran. Since the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his intransigent religious-ideological line, all of these conflicts have intensified and have to a great degree merged into a single, comprehensive regional crisis. The various arenas of conflict have become so interdependent as to virtually exclude a local solution for any one of them, and any solution has to necessarily pass through the filter of the Saudi-Iranian conflict.

Iran's contribution to the intensification of the conflict is expressed in the following areas:

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New Telhami/Zogby Arab public opinion survey

Shibley Telhami has released the results of the 2006 round of his surveys (done with Zogby International) of public opinion in six Arab countries (link off the Brookings page).  He's been doing this with the same six countries for six years now: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, and the UAE.  Among the major findings:

  • Views of the United States haven't improved.  57% say they have very unfavorable views of America and 21% somewhat unfavorable;  8% say somewhat favorable and 4% very favorable. Asked which two countries pose the greatest threat to them, 74% chose the United States. Bush remains the most disliked world leader, by far - 38% chose him.  When asked which country they would prefer to be the single superpower in a unipolar world, 19% chose France, 16% chose China, 14% chose Pakistan (!), 10% chose Germany, and only 8% chose the United States. 7% chose Russia.  Only 14% chose the US as one of two countries where people enjoy the most freedom and democracy.  Only 9% chose the US as the country other than their own where they would most like to live (France was #1 by far, at 33%).  And this is especially troubling to me:  I have argued in the past that one indication that Arab attitudes hadn't hardened and could still be influenced was the intense interest in American electoral politics, which suggested that Arabs thought the elections actually mattered and that hated American policies could change.  In this poll, 58% think that the Democratic Party's electoral victories in 2006 will make no difference in American policies in the region;  only 16% think that it will make a positive difference.   
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Life Insurance for Palestinian Suicide Bombers

By Christoph Schult, Britta Sandberg and Ansgar Mertin

An important bank in the Arab world offers accounts paying a type of life insurance to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. But now it could soon face a lawsuit from American lawyers representing the victims.

Palestinian suicide bomber Bassam Takruri killed seven people when he blew himself up on a Jersualem bus on May 18, 2003. His family then received $200 a month for over a year, after opening an Arab Bank account.
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REUTERS

Palestinian suicide bomber Bassam Takruri killed seven people when he blew himself up on a Jersualem bus on May 18, 2003. His family then received $200 a month for over a year, after opening an Arab Bank account.

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Sectarian tensions simmer in Bahrain

Violent clashes last week in Bahrain appear to bolster theories of a widening Shia-Sunni struggle in the Middle East, but critics of the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty tell ISN Security Watch that this is far from the case.

By Dominic Moran in Tel Aviv for ISN Security Watch (07/02/07)


Simmering Bahraini sectarian tensions erupted into violence again on Friday with security forces battling stone-throwing Shia protesters in several areas of the Gulf island kingdom.

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The Muslim Brotherhood Makes its Move in Palestinian Territories

The big winner in the Hamas-Fatah peace pact appears to be the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an armed branch.

While giving up very little Hamas, through the intercession of leaders of the Brotherhood, has sidestepped the issue of recognizing Israel while ceding little to Fatah and opening the way, they hope, for international recognition. This is a common tactical decision by the Brotherhood, which is often willing to trade off short-term contradictions for long-term gains, with the clear understanding that anything written now can be rewritten later.

But the fundamental issue between Fatah and Hamas ( and the Brotherhood) is deep and perhaps irreconcilable, and goes to the heart of the Islamist project. For Hamas, it is a religious matter of faith that Israel cannot be recognized and the Caliphate must be reestablished. Fatah, for all its bumbling incompetence, sees the territorial issues as a matter of policy and politics.

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Egypt's crackdown on the MB

The Egyptian government continues to escalate its campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood.  Over the last couple of months it has arrested a lot of suspected Brotherhood members, and Mubarak and NDP officials have lambasted the Brotherhood as a threat to the country and brushed aside its idea of forming a legitimate political party.  The government has escalated with a campaign against the movement's economic infrastructure by seizing their property and shuttering businesses.  The other day the government escalated even further by arresting 16 senior members of the movement, including its deputy guide Khayrat al-Shatr, and is now set to try them in the notorious state security court.

It all makes me think about remarks I heard from a number of people in Egypt in a position to know, who I won't identify further, to this effect:  while the Muslim Brotherhood won't turn to violence itself, MB advocates of peaceful participation in the political system are having a harder and harder time convincing young activists to stick to the program.  Young activists see little to show for the Brotherhood's participation in the Parliamentary elections, and have seen their decision to play the rules of the democratic game rewarded with a viscious governmental campaign of repression.  As with Hamas and the Palestinian elections, it is common now to hear that the Muslim Brotherhood decided to give the US a chance to prove it was serious about promoting democracy, and that now it has its answer:  no.  That answer is likely to shape the calculations of would be Islamist democrats all over the region for many years to come. 

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: Riyadh informs Washington a Palestinian unity government will not uphold previous agreements with Israel

The Saudis notified the Bush administration ahead of the Mecca reconciliation summit Tuesday, Feb. 6, that the Palestinian accord for a coalition government sponsored by Riyadh will not meet a key Middle East Quartet condition for its recognition: The new government will not accept past accords, including peace agreements the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed with Israel. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report: The new Palestinian government initiated in Mecca will only “respect” past accords – not accept them.

Nonetheless, the US and Europe were expected by Riyadh to lift the international embargo and economic siege imposed on the Hamas government.

In a separate missive to President George W. Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, Saudi King Abdullah stated that if the embargo is not lifted, Saudi Arabia will step in with all the funds the new Palestinian administration needs - an approximate annual sum of $1 billion.

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Saudi Arrests for Iraqi Terrorist Financing: Breakthrough or "Show Arrests"? (updated Feb. 4)

By Andrew Cochran

Readers of the Iraq Study Group report will recall that the ISG was highly critical of the disinterest shown by the Saudis and other Gulf states in stopping the terrorism in Iraq and assisting in stabilizing the country. Quoting from page 25 of the report:

These countries for the most part have been passive and disengaged. They have declined to provide debt relief or substantial economic assistance to the Iraqi government. Several Iraqi Sunni Arab politicians complained that Saudi Arabia has not provided political support for their fellow Sunnis within Iraq. One observed that Saudi Arabia did not even send a letter when the Iraqi government was formed, whereas Iran has an ambassador in Iraq. Funding for the Sunni insurgency comes from private individuals within Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, even as those governments help facilitate U.S. military operations in Iraq by providing basing and overflight rights and by cooperating on intelligence issues.
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Palestinians: 'Ethnic cleansing' in Iraq


 

After 18 members of her family were brutally murdered by Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad, Nadia Othman, a 36-year-old Palestinian mother of three, finally managed to escape to Jordan together with hundreds of Palestinian families that had been living in Iraq for decades.

In 2006, more than 600 Palestinians were killed in the Iraqi capital in what Palestinian leaders and political activists are describing as a "systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing." Thousands of Palestinian families have been forced to flee Iraq since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, but many still have no place to go to.

Iraq's Arab neighbors, Syria and Jordan, have imposed stringent restrictions on the entry of the refugees, leaving many of them stranded along the border in harsh and inhuman conditions.

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Hundreds of Taliban retake S, Afghanistan town of Musa Qala after controversial British peace deal with local elders

February 2, 2007, 6:23 PM (GMT+02:00)

British forces pulled out of the small Helmand province town some weeks ago as part of an agreement with the elders, who said they would keep Taleban fighters out of the town center and run security with their own police unit. US commanders and officials criticized the deal, saying it had not been concluded with elders but with Taliban and was no way to defeat them. Friday, Taleban fighters surged into Musa Qala, arresting some of the elders and destroying part of the government compound.

This compound was the scene of fierce British-Taliban battles last summer.

Baghdad's 'Iran Problem'

Prepared by:

Four years after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, it is clear Iran’s influence in southern Iraq is solid and growing. Iran’s relations with Iraq’s Kurdish communities in the north are also strong, despite worries in Tehran that their push for greater autonomy from Baghdad might animate Iran’s own Kurdish minorities. As this new Backgrounder explains, Iran is believed to have operatives all over Iraq collecting intelligence and assisting various Shiite militias. It also has amicable ties with Iraq’s Shiite leadership that have boosted trade and religious tourism for Iranian pilgrims. Plans are underway to build an Iranian bank (NYT) in downtown Baghdad.

But to suggest Iraq is a puppet state of Iran is misleading, experts say. Iraqi Shiites are driven as much by nationalism as by their sectarian identities, suggests Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, an expert on Iranian foreign policy, in this CFR.org Podcast. It is further misleading for U.S. officials to blame the “mess” in Iraq on Iran, Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution tells CFR.org’s Bernard Gwertzman. “The Bush administration,” Pollack says, “seems to be regarding the Iranians as the source of many, if not all, of Iraq’s problems today. To me, it is dangerously reminiscent of how they talked about the Syrians in 2004 and 2005, when they ridiculously exaggerated Syria’s role in the Sunni insurgency.”  The Los Angeles Times reports there is scant evidence linking Iranian agents to any specific attacks against American forces, though some investigators say the suspects behind an attack that killed five U.S. soldiers (NYT) in Karbala may have been trained and financed by Iranian agents.

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IFES report on Arab media

IFES and the Arab Center for the Development of the Rule of Law and Integrity recently released a report on attitudes towards the media and Parliament in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco.  The picture painted by the surveys of public and expert opinion are grim:  very few citizens in these four countries believe that the media is independent or effective, or that journalists can do their work without fear of punishment.   The most significant findings in the general public opinion surveys:

  • 22% of Jordanians, 31% of Egyptians, 50% of Moroccans, and 77% of Lebanese felt that journalists "enjoy freedom of expression without fear of reprisal." 58% of Jordanians, 48% of Egyptians, 45% of Moroccans, and 16% of Lebanese felt that journalists did not.
  • 25% of Egpytians, 24% of Jordanians, 52% of Moroccans and 68% of Lebanese felt that "the media is able to report openly on all types of issues".  48% of Egyptians, 52% of Jordanians, 21% of Lebanese, and 43% of Moroccans felt they could not.
  • 57% of Egyptians, 58% of Jordanians, 46% of Lebanese, and 54% of Moroccans felt that "the media is influenced/pressured by government to a large degree."  It's interesting that the response by Lebanese on the issue of government influence is so much higher than on questions about intimidation. 
  • 23% of Egyptians, 26% of Jordanians, 25% of Lebanese, and 41% of Moroccans felt that "the media provides you with impartial and balanced views." 
  • 86% of Egyptians, 81% of Jordanians, 91% of Lebanese, and 90% of Moroccans felt that "reforms are needed to enhance the independence of the media." 
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Iran prepares people for 'messiah miracles'

Government broadcasts series on imminent appearance of apocalyptic Islamic 'Mahdi'

Posted: January 27, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern


© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Official Iranian radio has completed broadcasting a lengthy series on the imminent appearance of a messianic figure who will defeat Islam's enemies and impose Islamic Shiite rule over the entire world – even speculating on specific dates the so-called "Mahdi" will be revealed.

English-language transcripts of "The World Toward Illumination" programs can be found on the website of IRIB, a public broadcast arm of Tehran.

"Be joyous my heart, miracles of the Messiah will soon be here," reads a poem used to conclude the first broadcast. "The scent of breaths of the One we know comes from near. Grieve not of sorrow and melancholy, as assured I was … last night that a Savior will come, it's clear."

After the coming of the 12th imam, or Mahdi, "liberal democratic civilization" will be found only in "history museums," explained the program.

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Hizballah organizing children's militias: "A nation with suicide children is a victorious one." - Nasrallah deputy

It is appalling -- but not surprising in light of their extensive youth propaganda campaign -- that Hizballah has assembled militias of boys aged 10 to 15. And these militias are themselves another propaganda tool, being composed of children of shahids ("martyrs") who will be lionized as the model for all Shi'ite children in Lebanon, and elsewhere.

From YNet News: "Media: Hizbullah recruiting martyrs' children"

Hizbullah's child militias: Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yusuf reported that Hizbullah has set up armed militias comprised of more than 2,000 children of shahids aged 10-15 and that the Hizbullah-affiliated "Mahadi Boy Scouts" organization is training them to sacrifice their lives.
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Al-Qaeda member: Hizbullah backed by evil

Website quotes al-Qaeda senior figure as saying: 'Hizbullah are infidels, it and Israel are enemies of Allah' Yaakov Lappin

A speech allegedly made by Sheikh Abu Abdul Rahman has surfaced on a jihadi pro al-Qaeda website in which Rahman is cited as condemning the "infidel Hizbullah" and "the most corrupted regimes of Syria and Iran ." 

The speech was posted on the Islamist Muntada internet forum, frequently used by British Muslim al-Qaeda sympathizers, and was described as being a "summary of an address by Sheikh Abu Abdul Rahman speaking from Lebanon ."

 It is unclear whether the speaker identified as Rahman on the forum is a reference to al-Qaeda's second in command in Iraq, Abu Abdul Rahman al-Iraqi, and whether the senior al-Qaeda figure actually delivered the message from Lebanon.

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: Hassan Nasrallah’s apologetic speech Sunday night contrasts starkly with his rapid rearmament of Hizballah‘s war machine

August 27, 2006, 11:32 PM (GMT+02:00)

Hizballah’s leader said in a broadcast speech Sunday night that he would not have ordered the kidnap of two Israeli soldiers had he know it would lead to war.

DEBKAfile reveals the other side of the picture: While saying mildly that in his view a second round of the war is not indicated, Nasrallah has just finished reconstituting his Southern Nasser Brigade command (short range Katyusha rockets) in the port town of Tyre after collecting its elements form various south Lebanese villages to the east. His fighters reached Tyre at the same time as French UNIFIL troops landed in the same port but were not noticed by the TV cameras focusing on the French landings.

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DEBKAfile Exclusive: American electronic warfare experts in Israel to find out how Hizballah’s Iranian systems neutralized Israeli EW

August 23, 2006, 3:18 PM (GMT+02:00)

>DEBKA-Net-Weekly 266 first drew attention to Iran’s heavy EW investment and its successful functioning in the Lebanon War on Aug. 11, 06. This first account will be followed up in the next DNW issue out on Friday, Aug. 25.

DEBKAfile on Aug. 23 adds: The American EW experts are interested in four areas. 1. The Israeli EW systems’ failure to block Hizballah’s command and communications and the links between the Lebanese command and the Syria-based Iranian headquarters. 2. How Iranian technicians helped Hizballah eavesdrop on Israel’s communications networks and mobile telephones, including Israeli soldiers’ conversations from inside Lebanon. 3. How Iranian EW installed in Lebanese army coastal radar stations blocked the Barak anti-missile missiles aboard Israeli warships, allowing Hizballah to hit the Israeli corvette Hanith. 4. Why Israeli EW was unable to jam the military systems at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, which hosted the underground war room out of which Hassan Nasrallah and his top commanders, including Imad Mughniyeh, functioned.

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Hezbollah And Counterfeiting

I came across some information which appears to link Hezbollah to counterfeiting, even including US $100 bills - example below. The info comes from an on line Intel page and one always has to question the veracity of some of the information available through such sites. There's information and dis-information ... and then just plain BS. But this looks somewhat legit, as if that can even be trusted.

There's also additional info through linked sites and an available doc file linked below as well.

Hezbollah as producer and distributor of forged notes

• During the second half of the 1990s, money counterfeiting in the Bekaa region continued to thrive. However, though the fake dollars were still of high quality, they did not match the standards of the “Super Dollar”. In this “industry”, Hezbollah plays a prominent role, while joining forces with criminal elements and taking advantage of its powerful position in the Bekaa and its relations with Iran and Syria.

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Hezbollah a North Korea-Type Guerilla Force

The Israeli military’s setback in its fight against Hezbollah in south Lebanon in recent weeks was primarily a failure of its intelligence agencies; and it was also the victory of a defensive guerilla force organized along North Korean lines. [...]

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DEBKAfile discloses: Hizballah is smuggling hundreds of rockets and dozens of launchers into S. Lebanon without interference

August 21, 2006, 9:41 AM (GMT+02:00)

Our military sources report that Hizballah is also working on the rehabilitation of its short-range rocket “Nasser” Brigade – all under cover of the stream of returning south Lebanese refugees. Weapons deliveries from Syria to Lebanon are arriving at an accelerated pace in the last 24 hours, mostly through the northern Beqaa Valley. They are then distributed across Lebanon including the south. Israel is no longer impeding the traffic although it has an all-clear from Washington.

Monday, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert praised his Lebanese counterpart Fouad Siniora for his courage and predicted if things carry on this way, it may soon be possible to discuss formalizing relations. However, DEBKAfile discloses that, on the quiet, Siniora has instructed his troops to avoid friction with Hizballah and on no account impound its weapons or obstruct its efforts to regroup.

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The Strong Chinese-Hamas Intelligence Connection

June 26, 2006, 11:29 AM (GMT+02:00)

A Chinese intelligence officer is engaged in covertly aiding the ruling Palestinian Hamas terrorist group, according to a Paris-based intelligence newsletter picked up by the Washington Post’s Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough on June 19.

They identify Gong Xiaosheng as a Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) official who has worked out of Ramallah since Nov. 2002, first with Yasser Arafat and latterly helping Hamas.

It was Gong who arrianged for Mahmoud al-Zahar to be invited to Beijing shortly after his appointment as Hamas foreign minister.

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The Newest Phase of a Very Old War

Some people refer to the current war as the GWoT (Global War on Terror). Others call it WWIV (Norman Podhoretz). We at Gates of Vienna prefer to call it GIJ3W: The Great Islamic Jihad, Third Wave.

This conflict of cultures has endured for more than a millenium. The first wave began with the conquest of Mecca by Mohammed in 630 CE. It crested in Al Andalus (Moorish Spain) in 711, only receding in 1492 when Los Reyes Católicos entered Granada.

The second wave began when Osman raided Western Byzantium in 1299 and founded the Ottoman Empire. It crested during the reign of Süleyman I in the 16th century, and receded after the failure of the second siege of Vienna under Kara Mustafa in 1683. Lees verder...