Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Qassams/Jimmy Carter - two mis-guided missiles! !

Fred Burton talks about the diversification of al Qaeda into a broadening out organization capable, eventually, of more diverse attacks. (See 1 below.)

Ne'eman delves into Olmert's thinking as it relates to accepting Qassam rocket attacks in the desperate hope that perhaps a civil war will cause the Palestinians to turn on each other. Meanwhile Olmert turned down Gen. Halutz's minimal plan for the IDF to thwart more Qassam attacks after two Israeli youths were seriously injured, while Islamic Jihad hopes their attacks will nullify any progress between Abbas and Olmert.(See 2 and 3 below.)

Is Iran going to transfer or share nuclear technology with Syria? One writer believes so and why not. (See 4 below.)

More explanation about Olmert's attitude towards Qassam rockets and their source of financing. (See 5 below.)

Why do I dwell on Qassam rockets and Jimmy Carter's book linking Israel to Apartheid? Is there a connection? I believe there is, even if unintentional. I will try and explain.

It is incongruous for a nation to even consider negotiating while constantly being attacked during a cease fire period. Yet, Olmert chooses, for whatever inexplicable reason, to do so. Inevitably most everyone believes Olmert is doing so to curry favor with EU nations whom, it is hoped, will then be less critical of Israel when it eventually is forced to go in and clean these terrorists out and destroy, if only for a brief period, their rocket capability. I believe it is wishful thinking because the longer Olmert waits the more the terrorists will have time to locate and inbed among the population and it will be Lebanon all over again. Diplomacy does not work when dealing with terrorists.

Carter's diatribe against Israel, linking it to Apartheid, lays the foundation that Israel is an illegitimate nation state capable of the total disregard of the rights and lives of others. Because he is an ex-president, whether effective or not, his book and theory lends credibility to those who share this warped, distorted viewpoint. Therefore, when Israel eventually responds in defense of its citizens, as one day it must, and, in the process, kills "innocent" Arab civilians, its acts will be seen by many in the light portrayed by Carter. Israel's defense of its people will be viewed thru the prism of Carter's false re-write of history and this is why he must be shown up as the dangerous fool that he is.

Carter readily associates with victims. He has a history of defending the "downtrodden" even when they are the ones doing the downtrodding. Carter sees himself as a victim and he is, but he is a victim of his own incompetence and mean-spiritedness. To justify his self-imposed victim hood status, he has distorted history to fit his neurotic psyche and since we live in an increasingly "Animal Farm World" what he writes is dangerous. (See 6 below.)


1) Al Qaeda in 2007: The Continuing Devolution
By Fred Burton

The theme of Stratfor's 2006 forecast for al Qaeda and the jihadist movement centered on the evolution -- or the devolution, really -- from al Qaeda "the group" to a broader global jihadist movement. This essentially was a shift from an al Qaeda operational model based on an "all-star team" of operatives that was selected, trained and dispatched by the central leadership to the target, to an operational model that encourages independent "grassroots" jihadists to conduct attacks, or to a model in which al Qaeda provides operational commanders who organize grassroots cells. We refer to this shift as devolution because what we are seeing now is essentially a return to the pre-9/11 model.

This shift has provided al Qaeda "the movement" broader geographic and operational reach than al Qaeda "the group." This larger, dispersed group of actors, however, lacks the operational depth and expertise of the core group and its well-trained terrorist cadre.

The metamorphosis continued in 2006, with al Qaeda announcing the merger of existing jihadist groups such as Gamaah al-Islamiyah (GAI) in Egypt and Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) and others in the Maghreb into their global jihadist umbrella organization. These groups have had long-standing links to al Qaeda, and the announcement of the mergers is really a formalization of the relationship, though these new nodes joined al Qaeda's formal network of affiliate groups in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Sinai Peninsula and Afghanistan.

Since the announcements, these new groups have not yet demonstrated that they possess the ability to boost al Qaeda's operational effectiveness. We have seen no attacks that can be attributed to GAI, and perhaps the only attacks that can be attributed to the GSPC are the Dec. 11 attack against a bus carrying foreign oil workers and the simultaneous Oct. 30 attacks against two police stations in Algeria. Given this lack of results, the announcements ring somewhat hollow, as the mergers have not given al Qaeda the surge of momentum it might have wanted.

The major attacks in 2006 in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia; Dahab, Egypt; Dubba and Marib, Yemen; and Damascus, Syria, were all conducted by existing regional nodes and not the main al Qaeda organization. These attacks did show a broad geographic reach stretching across the Middle East but, except for the Dahab attack, they were essentially all failures.

Overall, 2006 was not a good year for the al Qaeda nodes in Saudi Arabia and the Sinai. It also was a dismal year for the Iraq affiliate, whose charismatic leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in June. Twelve months have made a vast difference in the fortunes of the Iraq node. Last year at this time, al-Zarqawi made the headlines almost daily and his organization was conducting frequent and spectacular attacks. Now, following the death of al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda in Iraq has been largely marginalized and eclipsed by Iraqi Sunni and Shiite insurgent groups.

Going into 2007, we anticipate a continuation of this shift toward a movement -- though it will be important to watch for any signs of operational activity by al Qaeda the group, as opposed to its prodigious public relations efforts.

The Shift to Soft Targets

As we noted in January, the shift to the broader movement model allowed for an increase in the number of attacks, although the movement's lack of expertise was forcing it to focus its attacks against soft targets such as hotels, trains and subways. This shift resulted in a larger numbers of casualties than the more spectacular attacks against hardened targets. Indeed, the casualty count from jihadist attacks in the 52 months following 9/11 was more than double that of the 52 months prior -- and those numbers would be vastly increased if the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were included.

However, not as many attacks occurred in 2006 as we anticipated. In fact, the number of attacks and the casualties they generated were down for 2006. In many cases, such as Damascus, Abqaiq and Yemen, the attacks resulted in the deaths of more attackers than victims, and the only attack to produce a sizable death toll was in Dahab, where 24 people died. This trend in which attacks against tourist targets in Egypt produce the deadliest jihadist attack of the year continued from 2005, when the attack in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, killed 88 people. (Incidentally, that not only represents far more victims than in the Dahab attack, but also more than all of the 2006 attacks combined.) When Sharm el-Sheikh is combined with the 2005 attacks in Bali, Amman and London, jihadist militants produced far more deaths in 2005 than in 2006. (These statistics do not include attacks conducted in war zones or areas of insurgency such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Chechnya/Russia, Sri Lanka or Kashmir/India.)

The only jihadist strike against a hardened target in 2006 was the failed attack against the U.S. Embassy in Damascus in September. A car bombing was directed against an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, but that attack happened a block away from the hardened facility. It was, however, the only one of the two to produce an American death.

Target Sets

As we said in January, al Qaeda the group has long been interested in striking financial targets, aircraft and chemical/petroleum plants. Because of that, and al Qaeda's demonstrated history of revisiting targets after failed or foiled attacks, it was logical to project that it would continue to attempt strikes against such targets in 2006.

The petroleum sector indeed was targeted in 2006, as the strikes against petroleum facilities in Abqaiq and Yemen, and against oil contractors in Algiers, demonstrate. Although no attack occurred against financial targets as we anticipated, we still believe that target set remains at risk for the future, along with the others.

Although authorities thwarted the plot to simultaneously destroy several airliners en route from London to the United States, it once again demonstrated that al Qaeda and the jihadist movement maintain a significant interest in airline targets. Details released in February on the Library Tower bombing plot provide another example of this fixation.

Disruption Strategy Continues

Once again in 2006 there has been no successful attack on U.S. soil -- though the thwarted airliner plot was definitely aimed at the United States. Likewise, the anticipated attacks in European locations such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, France and Italy failed to materialize -- again, not for lack of trying on the part of the jihadists.

The U.S. government and its allies have been successful over the past year in disrupting terrorist plots and plans in many locations. The strategy of disruption these countries are following is really quite simple: It is better to pick up an al Qaeda suspect on immigration fraud or another lesser offense than to investigate a smoking hole in the ground. Although there has been significant skepticism over the terrorist credentials of those responsible for some of these plots, such as the one involving the Miami Seven, the plots serve as a reminder that there are people who remain committed to striking the United States. Over the years, Islamist militants have proven to be resilient and adaptable in the face of adversity, and they will certainly continue to adapt.

It is important to remember that more than eight years elapsed between the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 attacks -- during which time al Qaeda and its jihadist network faced nothing approaching the level of pressure they have endured since then. There were several thwarted terrorist spectaculars between 1993 and 2001, and yet the jihadists persisted and eventually succeeded in carrying out a massive strike on U.S. soil.

Therefore, the string of law enforcement and intelligence successes since 9/11 does not rule out the possibility of another strike on U.S. soil in time. We believe the likelihood of such an attack will increase as memories of 9/11 dim and the public grows weary of the inconvenience and financial burden of increased security measures.

The Jihadist 'War College'

The forecast, which noted that the active armed struggles in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Caucasus still serve as a kind of "jihadist war college," predicted that its graduates would continue to share their training and experience upon returning to their countries of origin.

We already have seen a transfer of terrorism tactics and technology to Afghanistan, and we anticipate that this will continue in the future. In addition, the interpersonal connections that the militants make in places such as Iraq and Chechnya also will link them to the global movement in the same way the jihad in Afghanistan did for the preceding generation.

2) Strengthening the “Moderates”
By Yisrael Ne’eman

For about a month Israel has held to its “cease-fire” declared with the Palestinians. Since then over sixty Kassam rockets were fired into Sderot and the western Negev by different Palestinian factions but Israel did not respond. Other acts of good will towards the Palestinian Authority and its chairman or president, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) include PM Ehud Olmert’s decision to unfreeze $100 million (out of $500 million) in monies held by Israel in taxes collected for the PA and to remove 27 roadblocks in the West Bank after the two met on Saturday night. It is hoped the funds will be used for humanitarian purposes and not fall into terrorist hands while at the same time strengthening Abu Mazen’s position in his confrontation with Palestinian PM Ismail Haniyah and the Hamas. The idea is to strengthen Fatah and the supposed “moderates”.

But the pressure is on Olmert to end the cease-fire and enter Gaza in a major military operation. The most immediate problem is the Kassams, but according to Israel’s intelligence community the most dangerous medium and long term threat is posed by the continuing highway of arms and ammunition arriving from northeastern Sinai. The Hezbollahization of the Hamas and Gaza is continuing uninterrupted - meaning that Palestinian civilians will be increasingly used as human shields as rockets and launchers will be stored in private homes once again forcing Israel to destroy them and kill supposedly “innocent” bystanders when doing so.

Leaving cynicism aside, there must be a reason for Olmert’s restraint and “good will” gestures besides his rather useless attempts to help Abbas. The Americans want to show “progress” on the Palestinian front, something demanded by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and hence Olmert is complying. By pursuing this policy Israel is gaining points with Europe and the Western media. The question is whether such credit is temporary or will it truly be remembered when an Israeli operation into Gaza becomes unavoidable.

But the heaviest consideration concerns the possibility of an outright Palestinian civil war exploding in Gaza (and perhaps the West Bank as well). Olmert and his advisors are not anxious to unify all Palestinian factions against Israel by taking military action, even if entirely focused on those terrorists firing Kassams at Israel. In other words, let the Palestinian internal conflict take its course, do not get involved and expect that their increased arsenals will lead to a level of violence where one side or the other will be victorious.

The whole question is an enormous gamble since no one knows what will happen first – a nursery school will take a direct hit by a Kassam or a Palestinian civil war will explode. Furthermore, as every day passes there are increasing amounts of advanced weapons flowing into the Gaza Strip which will certainly be used against Israel.

And just a few pointers for the future: Greater amounts of Kassams will be fired into Israel. Should the civil conflict turn into a civil war, the Hamas will be victorious. Israel will be forced into a wide ranging military operation in Gaza where Western media “good will” and most European support can be expected to evaporate when the first Palestinian human shields die as a result of stockpiling rockets in their living room.

3) Islamic Jihad: We are firing rockets in bid to sabotage Gaza truce
By Aluf Benn, Amos Harel, Mijal Grinberg and Yoav Stern

The Iranian-backed militant group Islamic Jihad is firing Qassam rockets at Israel with the intention of sabotaging the month-long Gaza truce and provoking Israeli retaliation, members of the group said Wednesday.

"That's one of the main reason for resuming [rocket] attacks," said Abu Ahmad, a spokesman for the group.

Meanwhike two rockets fired at Israel Wednesday evening landed south of Ashkelon. There were no injuries or damages in either incident.

An Islamic Jihad rocket attack Tuesday evening on the nearby Negev town of Sderot seriously wounded two 14-year-old boys and triggered the Israeli decision to resume targeting the rocket squads.

In the wake of the Tuesday night strike on Sderot, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday morning instructed the Israel Defense Forces to resume pinpoint operations targeting rocket launching cells in Gaza.

A short time later, another Qassam rocket struck an open area north of the western Negev town, causing no damage or injuries.

The decision by Olmert and Peretz essentially adopts the defense minister's proposal to alter the policy of restraint in the wake of ongoing fire on southern Israel.

"A directive has been given to the defense establishment to take pinpoint action against the rocket-launching squads," Olmert's office said in a statement, a day after two teenage boys were wounded, one of them critically, by a Qassam rocket that struck the western Negev town of Sderot.

The two met with senior military and intelligence officials to discuss the escalation of rocket fire across the Gaza border on Wednesday morning.

According to the Prime Minister's Office statement, the IDF has also been instructed to uphold the cease-fire in general. "In parallel, Israel will continue to maintain the ceasefire and work with the Palestinian Authority so that immediate steps are taken to halt the Qassam firings."

Government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said Israel would do its best to preserve the truce, even while attacking rocket-launching cells. "Israel has shown restraint," she said. "Israel will continue to be restrained, and we will only take pinpointed action against the launching cells."

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said following the decision that the military option cannot completely solve the Qassam rocket problem, and that diplomatic and economic steps were needed in the Gaza Strip, according to Israel Radio.

Responding to decision, Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said maintaining the cease-fire was in the Palestinian national interest, calling on Palestinian militants to stop firing Qassam rockets.

"I also urge Israel to refrain from attacking the Palestinians and to be committed to the ceasefire," he said. "Our past experience taught us that violence begets violence and bullets beget bullets."

Hamas government spokeswoman Ghazi Hamad denounced the decision to
"continue their aggression against our people," but added: "We still believe that this agreement is alive, and both sides should respect this agreement because it is (in) the interest (of) our people."

Islamic Jihad, however, threatened to increase the rocket fire in response to the decision.

"Stop the attacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediately or expect more rockets on Sderot and on Ashkelon and beyond," warned a leaflet issued by Saraya al-Quds, the military arm of Islamic Jihad.

"There will be no truce with the Israeli enemy at the expense of the blood of our people," the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades also threatened, the semi-official, semi-independent armed wing of President Mahmoud Abbas' opposition Fatah party.

A senior aide to Abbas warned the Israeli decision would "negatively affect" the outcome of Saturday's meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"What was decided in Israel will create an atmosphere that is not encouraging," Nabil Amr told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Peretz and senior IDF officials had called on Olmert to suspend the policy of restraint and let the army fire at Qassam rocket-launcher cells that can be identified during or shortly after operation.

"We cannot continue to restrain ourselves," Peretz told Olmert on Tuesday night. "We cannot let Jihad continue to do what it wants; we must take immediate action against the Qassams."

Peretz has been vocal in recent days about his dissatisfaction with the policy of restraint. He agrees with IDF officials who support identifying missile-launcher cells and destroying them during or immediately after a launch. Peretz believes the risk to Palestinian civilians is low if the IDF operations are confined to unpopulated areas used by terror cells, and that this would not end the cease-fire.

Military sources admitted that the cell responsible for Tuesday's missiles could not be located due to inclement weather. Military officials had warned since close to the beginning of the cease-fire that failure to respond to the attacks would cost Israeli lives.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) told Israel Radio on Wednesday that the Israel Defense Forces must immediately reoccupy key areas of the Gaza Strip, including the Philadelphi Route along the Gaza-Egypt border, in order to prevent the ongoing Qassam rocket fire and arms smuggling.

"[The government] must take control of the areas from which Qassams are fired - this is not the entire Gaza Strip, it is not even a small part of the Gaza," said the former prime minister. "But it is a defined area. We know the Qassam [range] radius, and where they are firing them."

"[The government] must stop [arms] smuggling, by taking control of key areas," he said. When asked if this includes the Philadelphi Route, Netanyahu responded "definitely," although he said the military presence there would not necessarily be permanent.

Netanyahu also called on the government to work to bring about the fall of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, and "halt all negotiations and all gestures, until a complete end to the terrorism."

"The way to overthrow the Hamas government is to strangle it," he said. "They were under a strangle-hold that almost brought about their collapse, you saw them in a civil war. And this strangle-hold was an economic one - they couldn't pay salaries."

"What has the government done?" he said, referring to the decision to transfer $100 million to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "The government has opened the flow of money - not just from Israel, [although] $100 million is a lot of money - but also the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Europeans, saving the Hamas government."

"That is a fundamental error, and an additional error is to declare a unilateral cease-fire that essentially allows them to fire at us and demonstrates weakness," he said.

National Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Eliezer echoed the defense minister's sentiment, telling Israel Radio: "We cannot restrain ourselves anymore. We've restrained ourselves, and it's good that we did, because the entire world saw that we did above and beyond [what was called for], but we cannot turn an entire town, excuse me, into a graveyard."

The former defense minister stressed, however, that he would only recommend the IDF resume targeting Qassam rocket cells, saying the military should not reoccupy parts of Gaza.

Qassam wounds two 14-year-old boys, one critically
Two boys, both 14, were injured on Tuesday night when a Qassam rocket landed in the street near where they were walking. Both were treated by Magen David Adom paramedics and taken to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

A total of eight Qassams were fired at Israel Tuesday, the most in a single day since the cease-fire was declared about a month ago.

Late Tuesday night, hospital officials said that Adir Ghasad was in surgery and in critical condition, while Matan Cohen was in moderate to serious condition and in danger of losing his leg.

The hospital's director Dr. Shimon Sherf told Israel Radio on Wednesday morning that Ghasad's condition had stabilized.

"He arrived in very serious condition, in critical condition, [and] was barely able to maintain blood pressure," said Sherf. "He was full of shrapnel from head to toe, and after a lengthy surgery ... we were able to stabilize him. He is currently in recovery and maintaining blood pressure, and I hope he will make it through this trauma."

A Barzilai Hospital official told Israel Radio later Wednesday that Ghasad's life was no longer in any immediate danger, and he would be transferred to the intensive care unit.

"The second boy [Cohen] is stable, he is on a respirator, and he is maintaining blood pressure," said Sherf. "He has shrapnel in soft tissue in various parts of his body. Other than the amputation of four toes ... his condition is relatively stable." Cohen's condition is listed as moderate to serious.

According to the hospital official, Cohen will be transferred to Soroka Medical Center for observation.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for firing the missiles from the Gaza Strip at the western Negev town.

The incident was the most serious since a cease-fire was put into place, although more than 60 rockets have been fired during this period.

The IDF did not respond to the Qassams, observing the policy of restraint set by Olmert.

Another Sderot resident was slightly injured earlier this week by a Qassam.

One of the Qassams fired at Israel Tuesday landed in the industrial area in south Ashkelon, close to a strategic infrastructure installation. Another rocket landed south of the city. Four Qassams landed in open areas in the vicinity of Sderot, while another landed inside the city. Eight people were treated for shock as a result of that missile, which also damaged buildings and cars.

A mortar landed near an IDF base near the Gaza border, across from the center of the Strip.

Palestinian sources said that a Palestinian farmer in the northern Gaza Strip was shot by IDF soldiers. Ismai'il Ghaban, 27, was on land owned by his family, north of Beit Lahia, when he was reportedly shot in the neck and the knee. IDF sources say he was shot while causing damage to the border fence. Palestinians have recently dismantled large parts of the border fence in the area to sell the metal for scrap. IDF soldiers are permitted to shoot anyone damaging the fence.

A resident of Sderot who lives near where the two teenagers were hit Tuesday night described what happened when the missile fell in the street outside. "I was at home, my daughter was on the second floor and suddenly started screaming," Shimon Peretz related.

"I went downstairs and saw the boys. I got my neighbor, he's a medic, and performed first aid on them and then I called for an ambulance. I can't describe the moment when the children were screaming and panicking. Just this morning two Qassams fell here with no warning."

A friend of the two injured boys adds: "I heard the 'red alert,' I was at home, and then I heard a loud noise and suddenly saw my friends lying on the ground, one was lying there with no foot." He added that the home of one of the boys, Matan Cohen, had been hit previously by a Qassam.

Angry residents gathered at the site. Some people were in shock, others expressed anger at the government's impotence and at its failure to protect Sderot's inhabitants.

Two teenage girls who were in shock were evacuated by ambulance after refusing to return to their homes. The families of the two boys,� the Cohens and the Ghasads, � went to Barzilai to be with the injured, as did many friends of the families.

The residents expressed anger at Olmert's failure to visit Sderot and see the true situation of the city. One mother shouted that she cannot go to work because she has to stay at home with her children due to their great anxiety.4)Tehran, (SANA - Syrian news agency)-Chairman of the Iranian Expediency
Council Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Wednesday described as
important the Syrian-Iranian relations, calling for enhancing them in all
fields, particularly in the higher education field.

4) By Mazen S Younes:

"Tehran is ready to transform its new scientific and technical expertise to
the regional countries, particularly Syria," Rafsanjani said during a
meeting with Syrian Minister of Higher Education Ghiath Barakat.

"Scientific and cultural ties between Syria and Iran are not on a suitable
level if compared to the distinguished relations in other domains. time is
ripe now to boost the level of scientific and cultural ties between Tehran
and Damascus," he added.

Mr. Rafsanjani referred to the sensitive situations in Palestine, Iraq and
Lebanon, saying "the current situation requires more joint cooperation to
face the current challenges."

For his part, Minister Barakat expressed satisfaction over the scientific
development in Iran, particularly in the peaceful use of the nuclear energy,
saying "we seek to promote cultural, scientific and research ties to the
level of the political relations between the two countries."

5) Exclusive: Hizbullah paying terrorists for Kassam attacks

Hizbullah is paying Palestinian splinter groups "thousands of dollars" for each Kassam rocket fired at the western Negev, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

According to Israeli intelligence information, Hizbullah is smuggling cash into the Gaza Strip and paying "a number of unknown local splinter groups" for each attack.

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sources said the Islamist organization paid several thousand dollars for each attack, with the amount dependent on the number of Israelis killed or wounded.

"We know that Hizbullah is involved in funding terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank," a security official said.

"Palestinian terrorists get thousands of dollars per attack. Sometimes they are paid before the attack and sometimes they submit a bill to Lebanon afterward and the money gets transferred a short while later."

According to the officials, while Islamic Jihad was behind most recent rocket attacks - including the one on Tuesday night that critically wounded 14-year-old Adir Basad in Sderot - several splinter terrorists groups are also involved and have received direct funding from Hizbullah.
According to security officials, Islamic Jihad gets the money via its headquarters in Damascus while Fatah's Tanzim terror group and the Popular Resistance Committees receive payment from Hizbullah in Lebanon.

All of the money originated in Iran, the officials said.

Government officials said Hamas was not currently involved in firing missiles, but was doing nothing to stop those who were.

Also Wednesday, the IDF Operations Directorate relayed new orders to the Southern Command following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision earlier in the day to permit the army to once again target Kassam rocket cells.

This decision came after a meeting Olmert held with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, and other senior security officials.

Following the meeting, the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement saying that in light of the increase of rocket attacks, despite the cease-fire, "an instruction was given to the security forces to take pinpointed action against the launching cells."

At the same time, the statement said, Israel would continue to observe the cease-fire and to work with the Palestinian Authority to get it to take immediate action to stop the firing of the rockets.

Peretz told the cabinet on Sunday that there have been cases over the last month where the IDF spotted terrorists preparing to fire rockets, but - because of the cease-fire - did not act. The new policy would put an end to that situation.

In the past two weeks, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant has recommended taking much more extensive action inside Gaza to stop the rocket fire, but on Wednesday - according to government sources - he was resigned to accepting the new policy.

According to the IDF, troops will not be allowed to operate inside the Palestinian Authority except when provided precise intelligence concerning a specific Kassam rocket cell.

According to government officials, Olmert argued at Wednesday's meeting that the cease-fire had strategic value, and that Israel's policy of restraint had earned it "a lot of understanding and appreciation" around the world that would provide "leeway" in the future.

Israel, according to officials in Olmert's office, can afford to continue to observe the "overall parameters" of the cease-fire, and can always take more forceful action down the line.

These officials also said that even when Israel did employ more force in Gaza it was unable to stop the rocket fire, and that the 64 rockets that have fallen during the monthlong cease-fire were only one-quarter of the number of rockets fired in the month preceding the agreement.

Olmert has argued in recent days that a strong military response would only unite Hamas and Fatah.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Hamza alluded to this when he expressed the hope that renewed fighting with Israel would help end internal Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip.

A Kassam rocket hit near Sderot after the security meeting. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, with Abu Hamza saying it was a response to Israel's arrest of operatives in the West Bank, which is not covered by the cease-fire.

According to the new orders, the IDF is allowed to fire at Kassam cells before and after they launch rockets at Israel. The rules of engagement are dependant on intelligence, primarily on the location of the cell and whether there is a possibility that Palestinian civilians would be harmed. Terrorists often use urban areas to launch sites the rockets.

"We are aware of the sensitivity of the situation," said an officer in the Southern Command. "We do not want to cause diplomatic problems."

According to the officer, the IDF is also allowed to target Kassam launchers if no people are present. Based on the government decision, the IDF will continue to refrain from targeting Kassam workshops and will only fire at people if they are "ticking bombs" - terrorists on their way to, or in the midst of, an attack. Armed gunmen who approach the Gaza security fence were also, the officer said, legitimate targets.

"When there is a danger, we will not stand idly by but will open fire," he said. The IDF plans to utilize the air force to target the Kassam cells and launchers.

"The terrorists need to feel like they are being hunted," said one officer. "We intend to make that happen."

6)Jonathan Gurwitz: Carter's take on Mideast unfair, but not unexpected.

Being a former president does not make one infallible on issues of foreign policy. A month after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Herbert Hoover's book "America's First Crusade" hit bookstands. Here is how Time magazine greeted the book's first run:

"Last week, of all times, sincere, stubborn, tactless Herbert Hoover, of all people, published a book. Of all books, it was the most untimely. It told for the umpteenth bitter time how Britain — now a life-or-death ally of the U.S. — and France cheated the U.S. out of its just deserts at the peace conference of Versailles."

Nor does a Nobel Peace Prize immunize its recipients against moral failure. Witness Yasser Arafat.

So there is nothing exceptional about the fact that as Iran's leader plots to perfect a Holocaust he denies ever took place, sincere, stubborn and tactless Jimmy Carter has published a book that for the umpteenth bitter time tells the story that Israel has cheated the Palestinians out of their homeland.

And it's not surprising that Carter, who in his White House prime warned of "an inordinate fear of communism" before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, should at 82 be so spectacularly wrong in his moral assessment of the Middle East.

As much has been made of the title of Carter's book as its substance — and appropriately so. "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" betrays a repugnant rejection of truth and balance before the reader ever gets to the first page.

More than 1 million Arabs are citizens of Israel, constituting 20 percent of the Israeli population. They enjoy civil and political liberties, access to health care and education unimaginable in the Arab world.

There are currently 12 Arabs elected to the 120-member Israeli Knesset representing Arab nationalist, communist and Islamic parties. There is an Arab justice on the Israeli Supreme Court. This is apartheid?

The argument is not that Israel is perfect, that Israeli Arabs are the equals of their Jewish neighbors in social and economic spheres or that discrimination is nonexistent. But given the perpetual Arab siege Israel has lived under, its efforts to achieve equality are fairly remarkable.

In response to widespread condemnation of his mendacious title, Carter explained that the apartheid reference applies only to the territories Israel occupied during the Six Day War. Here Carter employs a favored tactic of apologists for Arab violence and extremism: ignoring history.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict begins for Carter in 1967. Forgotten is the complete Arab rejection of the 1947 U.N. partition that would have created Palestinian and Israeli states. Unmentioned are 18 years of Jordanian occupation of the West Bank and Egyptian occupation of the Gaza Strip, during which Arabs might have created a Palestinian state.

Carter doesn't do much better in the post-1967 era. He falsely explains the circumstances of the Six Day War. He deplores the building of Israeli settlements, but ignores Israeli efforts from day one to exchange land for peace, efforts that were met by the Arab League's infamous declaration of three "nos" on Sept. 1, 1967: No recognition of Israel, no negotiations and no peace.

He mentions in passing Israel's destruction of Iraq's nuclear reactor, though not Saddam Hussein's threat to Israel. He condemns Israel's construction of a security barrier, but fails to examine the terrorist attacks that necessitated it or the fact that the barrier has saved both Israeli and Palestinian lives. And on and on.

Of course there is apartheid in the Middle East, directed at non-Muslims and non-Arabs in the region. Saudi Arabia proudly boasts Muslim-only roads, hotels and restaurants. The entire cities of Mecca and Medina are off-limits to non-Muslims. Try to build a church on the Arabian Peninsula, or a synagogue? Please.

About the Arab campaign of extermination against the black Africans of Sudan or the annihilation of ancient Jewish communities across the Arab world, Carter says ... nothing.

If silence is the ally of injustice, then Jimmy Carter is one of oppression's best friends.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bye, Bye Europe? No,it has already disappeared!

Henryk Broder has a chilling message. In it he offers one suggestion, however, which I would challenge.

New Zealand is not a place to run to if one wants to avoid the propsect ravages of a Muslim influx. I have been to New Zealand and many New Zealanders fear what is happening in their own country as the immigration of Muslims is increasing and they are becoming more politically influential.

Many years ago I reviewed a CIA document on demographics. Birth rates are fairly predictable and the report revealed what various nations are now experiencing in terms of swift changes occurring in their population mix.

His comment about the woman he debated who said life was more important than running the risk of fighting a rapist. This is the advice most police departments give today,I believe.

Broder makes some telling points quoting Van den Boogaard who wanted to enjoy freedom but never learned to fight for it and secularist's who seem less willing to fight because, disbelieving in an afterlife, life is all they have to lose and Bethell's view, when faith collapses so does civilization.

He links anti-Semitism to anti-Americanism because those willing to fight endanger those willing to submit.

Broder's comments were sent by a fellow memo reader. (See 1 below.)

Peter Zeihan dopes out the five Stans! (See 2 below.)

In response to continued Qassam missile attacks, the latest having seriously injured two Israeli youth, and the latest revelation that Iranian officers have taken over directing these missile firings from Gaza, Olmert instructed the IDF to target only missile crews in order to retain the appearance of a cease fire observation.

Abbas tells Olmert he is ready for "back door" talks and the Egyptian FM reveals Cpl. Shalit is alive.


1)Subject: The Rape of Europe

The German author Henryk M. Broder recently told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant young Europeans who love freedom, better emigrate. Europe as we know it will no longer exist 20 years from now.

Whilst sitting on a terrace in Berlin, Broder pointed to the other customers and the passers-by and said melancholically: "We are watching the world of yesterday!
Europe is turning Muslim. As Broder is sixty years old he is not going to emigrate himself. "I am too old," he said. However, he urged young people to get out and "move to Australia or New Zealand. That is the only option they have if they want to avoid the plagues that will turn the old continent uninhabitable."

Many Germans and Dutch, apparently, did not wait for Broder's advice. The number of emigrants leaving the Netherlands and Germany has already surpassed the number of immigrants moving in. One does not have to be prophetic to predict, like Henryk Broder, that Europe is becoming Islamic. Just consider the demographics. The number of Muslims in contemporary Europe is estimated to be 50 million. It is expected to double in twenty years. By 2025, one third of all European children will be born to Muslim families.Today Mohammed is already the most popular name for new-born boys in Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other major European cities.

Broder is convinced that the Europeans are not willing to oppose islamization. "The dominant ethos," he told De Volkskrant, "is perfectly voiced by the stupid blonde woman author with whom I recently debated. She said that it is sometimes better to let yourself be raped than to risk serious injuries while resisting. She said it is sometimes better to avoid fighting than run the risk of death."

In a recent op-ed piece in the Brussels newspaper De Standaard, Van den Boogaard refers to Broder's interview. Van den Boogaard says that to him coping with the islamization of Europe is like "a process of mourning." He is overwhelmed by a "feeling of sadness." "I am not a warrior," he says, "but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it."

As Tom Bethell wrote in this month's American Spectator: "Just at the most basic level of demography the secular-humanist option is not working." But there is more to it than the fact that non- religious people tend not to have as many children as religious people, because many of them prefer to "enjoy" freedom rather than renounce it for the sake of children. Secularists, it seems to me, are also less keen on fighting. Since they do not believe in an afterlife, this life is the only thing they have to lose. Hence they will rather accept submission than fight. Like the German feminist Broder referred to, they prefer to be raped than to resist.

"If faith collapses, civilization goes with it," says Bethell. That is the real cause of the closing of civilization in Europe. Islamization is simply the consequence. The very word Islam means "submission" and the secularists have submitted already. Many Europeans have already become Muslims, though they do not realize it or do not want to admit it. Some of the people I meet in the U.S. are particularly worried about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. They are correct when they fear that anti-Semitism is also on the rise among non- immigrant Europeans. The latter hate people with a fighting spirit. Contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe (at least when coming from native Europeans) is related to anti-Americanism.

People who are not prepared to resist and are eager to submit, hate others who do not want to submit and are prepared to fight. They hate them because they are afraid that the latter will endanger their lives as well. In their view everyone must submit. This is why they have come to hate Israel and America so much, and the small
band of European "islamophobes" who dare to talk about what they see happening around them. West Europeans have to choose between submission (Islam) or death. I fear, like Broder, that they have chosen submission - just like in former days when they preferred to be red rather than dead.

2) Post-Turkmenbashi: Gaming the Five 'Stans
By Peter Zeihan

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov died at 1:10 a.m. local time Dec. 21. He leaves behind a remote patch of impoverished desert in Central Asia and no hint of a capable successor, much less a government. Niyazov was an eccentric leader who was able to rule largely because there was no real challenge to him at home or abroad. Niyazov carved out a little piece of the world for himself and named much of it after his self-styled title: Turkmenbashi. Turkmenistan features a Turkmenbashi Palace, Turkmenbashi theme park, Port Turkmenbashi, even Turkmenbashi vodka. It was a dictatorship, to be sure, but as things go a relatively benign -- if surreal -- one.

Yet his funeral attracted quite a guest list, including leaders from Russia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Georgia, Pakistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Why all the attention?

Normally, the death of such a remote, eccentric and minor player on the world stage -- much less his funeral -- would not elicit much interest from those of us at Stratfor. But this is Central Asia, a portion of the world of which most Americans are at best casually aware. It is not so much that the world works differently here (although it does), but that the end of the Soviet period impacted this region the least. Here, history is just now getting started.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia went through a rollicking period of shock therapy and kleptocracy that led to the resurgence of Russian fortunes under President Vladimir Putin; the Baltics sprinted headlong toward the West, reversing the winds of history as they went; and the Caucasus descended into war. Central Asia, in comparison, changed very little. The authoritarian political and economic system of the Soviets was simply replaced by the authoritarian political and economic system of the region's Soviet-era bosses who became the first crop of presidents. Ultimately, this is why Niyazov's death is so significant: That first crop of presidents has been the only crop of presidents. Central Asia has largely been frozen since 1992.

True, there was a false start in the mid-1990s. Turkey and Iran attempted to force their way in as the Russians retreated, and there was much talk of NATO or China establishing a new security perimeter. Ultimately, however, distance and despotism prevented the accrual of all but the smallest threads of influence by outsiders. So Turkey focused on the Caucasus, Iran began to prepare for weakness in Iraq, China obsessed over coastal development and NATO decided Central Asia was just a bridge too far. The geopolitical free-for-all that marked the end of the Soviet period in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus has yet to begin in Central Asia.

Or, more accurately, it had not until Turkmenbashi keeled over in the early morning hours of Dec. 21.

Most of the outside players now have options regarding Central Asia. Reeling from Europe's cultural, political and economic rejection, Turkey needs a new strategic vision to replace the quest for EU membership -- and here beckons Central Asia. Iran is flushing ever deeper with success in Iraq and also has the bandwidth for a new Central Asian vista. China is aiming to push its economic miracle inland and needs both more resources and more security -- Central Asia could provide both. The Russians are reawakening, and are gazing at the familiar southern horizon with the idea of empire in their minds. The West, while lacking the proximity to be a major player, is still a dominant influence in terms of energy development, and has bought for itself a place at the table.

On Dec. 20, all of Central Asia was in geopolitical stasis; on Dec. 21 Turkmenistan was in play. And this time, the stakes are higher -- much higher.


For now, Turkmenistan is being ruled by interim President Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov, a man who is rumored to be Niyazov's illegitimate son. The fact that one of Berdimukhammedov's first acts was to prepare amendments to the Turkmen Constitution to solidify his rule (and, incidentally, allow him to run for president) certainly seems to support the son-of-'Bashi theory. But even if true, his real experience in running the place is limited to his stint as health minister. He is not exactly what one would call presidential timber.

Members of Turkmenistan's exiled political opposition have pledged to agree on a single opposition candidate, but at this point it is unlikely they will even be able to re-enter the country. The Berdimukhammedov government has flat-out warned them of arrest should they return, and one of the few who remained in the country (and the most likely joint candidate), Nurberdy Nurmammedov, was arrested himself Dec. 23. The United States' preferred successor, Boris Shikhmuradov, remains firmly in jail, where he has languished for four years now.

But, unless Berdimukhammedov proves to be made of far sterner stuff than his predecessor, Turkmenistan's future will not be determined by its "leaders" but by foreign powers.

Like all of the Central Asian states, Turkmenistan enjoys relatively friendly relations with its former colonial master, Russia. Of course, the key word here is relatively. Russia likes allies that do what they are told, and Turkmenbashi was a mercurial character. The basis of the Russian-Turkmen relationship has always been Turkmen natural gas exports to Russia. Yes, Russia via state firm Gazprom is the world's largest producer and exporter of natural gas, but Russia consumes so much of the stuff itself that it cannot both fill the domestic market and meet its export obligations without also importing extra supplies from Turkmenistan. It should not come as a shock that one of the members of the Russian delegation at Niyazov's funeral was Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

For those of you familiar with Russia's core foreign policy strategy of using energy as a lever/hammer against competitors, the criticality of Turkmenistan suddenly snaps into place. Without Turkmenistan at least ostensibly within its orbit, Russia either has to switch off its own lights or the lights of its European and Turkish customers. Either way, its energy-empowered foreign policy strategy becomes stillborn. Moscow wants Turkmenistan under its thumb, not in play.

If Russia is the player with the most to lose, Iran is the player with the most to gain. Iran was still in the early stages of recovering from the Iran-Iraq war when the Soviet Union broke up and proved unable, for a variety of reasons, to extend its influence north into Central Asia. With the death of Turkmenbashi, Tehran now has a second chance, and how well it does in penetrating Ashgabat largely will determine its future fortunes in the region.

Just as Tehran lives in fear of being invaded from whoever rules Baghdad and so takes steps to extend its influence west, Tehran lives in just slightly less fear of who rules the desert to the north. Saddam Hussein's 1980 invasion of Iran was only the most recent attack; historically, Iran's northern border is vulnerable as well, with the last attack coming from none other than the Soviet Union in 1941. The United States' problems in Iraq are in a large part due to Iran's working behind the scenes to further its own interests and secure its western border.

Now a new opportunity presents itself to the north. The death of Turkmenbashi grants Tehran the chance to secure control over the only point north that could be used as a launching pad to attack Iran. The majority of Turkmenistan's population lives in a series of oases and river valleys crowded against the Iranian border. Control that and any aggression into Iran would have to be launched from the other side of the Karakum Desert.

The problem Iran faces is that, if it decides to grab the brass ring, it cannot act with subtlety as it has in Iraq. In Iraq, Tehran is tapping the Iraqi Shia -- a people who share a religion and who, for centuries, have regularly intermingled across the frontier. There are few mysteries for Iran in Iraq.

Turkmenistan is different. The Turkmen border has been virtually sealed not just during Niyazov's reign but as far back as the October revolution and even before (it is not as if the Persians got along well with the czarists). The Turkmen are Turkic while the Iranians are Persian; the Turkmen are Sunni and somewhat Russofied while the Persians are Shia and Islamified. If Tehran is going to influence Turkmenistan's development, it cannot just send in advisers or improvised explosive devices -- it needs to invade.

One can imagine how the Russians would feel about that. Right now, the Iranians need the Russians to provide them with diplomatic cover for their Iraq and nuclear activities. Invading a country that the Russians have targeted to be their next client state would obviously put the existing Iranian-Russian relationship under strain. Tehran is likely embroiled in some agonizing decision-making right now. In less than three years, Iran has been presented with two opportunities of the millennia: Iraq and Turkmenistan. The Iraqi opportunity the Iranians have seized, the Turkmen opportunity the Iranians both dare not and must.

If Iran moves, its military conquest of sparsely populated Turkmenistan after years of Turkmenbashi purges would be child's play, and it would secure Tehran a springboard from which to influence all of Central Asia. The cost, however, would be Tehran's placing itself in opposition to Moscow as well as to Washington. If Iran sits on its hands, the Russians will eventually call all the shots and Tehran's chances of influencing Central Asia will dwindle to nothing.

Which brings us to the rest of the region. Niyazov was hardly the oldest of the Central Asian leaders and, as such, was not expected to die first. Death is certain to come to the region's remaining leaders sooner rather than later, and the Iranian-Russian tussle over Turkmenistan is nothing compared to the fights to come.


Upon transition, Tajikistan will likely immediately break into war. Here President Imomali Rakhmonov has ruled with all the techniques and skills the world has come to expect from post-Soviet apparatchiks, but he rules at the pleasure of a group of warlords delicately balancing power among themselves. Add in zero economic future and a long border with Afghanistan and you have a desperately poor country that has become a smugglers' haven. Afghan drug lords regularly run the borders, often with the collaboration of a Russian border force that is ostensibly there to prevent such activity. Since Tajiks are ethnically Persian, the Iranians have succeeded in injecting a certain amount of religiosity that is largely lacking in the other four Central Asian states.

But the real problem is simply the geography of the country. In order to sabotage the futures of the Central Asian states, Josef Stalin redrew the maps so the region's densest population center, the Fergana Valley, would be split among three states. Tajikistan controls the access to the valley, but this chunk of territory is on the wrong side of the mountains and is separated from the rest of the country. All in all, Tajikistan is a state fractured by Stalin-inspired ethnic and geographic fissures and involved in the one thing it really does not need -- a tristate territorial dispute.


The second Fergana state is Kyrgyzstan, to which Stalin gave the valley's highlands, locking it into perpetual conflict with downstream states over water rights. Unlike the other four Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan has already overthrown its president, Askar Akayev, and is now undergoing its own transition from strongman to absolute chaos. Like the rest of the Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan had no clear idea of what the "Kyrgyz" nationality was when the country became independent, and that certainly remains the case post-revolution. With a population split between Kyrgyz and Russians in the north and Uzbeks in the south, Kyrgyzstan has had precious little opportunity to form a distinct and cohesive national identity.

Most depressing, while all of the other states have an outside power interested in them, few are concerned about what happens to tiny, geographically confused Kyrgyzstan. It has no resources of note and is located at the corner of No and Where. In the end, the country is likely to be parceled up among its neighbors. It is only a question of which neighbors.


The state with the most interest in biting a chunk out of Kyrgyzstan (and Tajikistan) is the final Fergana state, Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is in both the best and the worst position in the region. Best in that there are more Uzbeks than any other Central Asian nationality, and Uzbeks exist in substantial numbers in every other of the four states, granting Tashkent a useful lever in dealing with -- or against -- them all. Uzbekistan also lacks a border with any of the major powers -- Russia, China, Iran -- that ring Central Asia, so it is relatively insulated from their geopolitical desires. At the same time, it is the only state in the world that borders all four 'Stans. Uzbekistan has both the size and opportunity to deeply impact all of its less-powerful neighbors.

However, Stalin's cartographic creativity kicked into overdrive when he sketched out Uzbekistan's borders, so while Tashkent commands the bulk of the Fergana -- which comprises nearly half of Uzbekistan's population -- Tashkent lacks the ability to reach it easily. And though bordering none of the major powers insulates Uzbekistan, it also isolates it; Tashkent has to strike a deal with at least one neighbor in order to access international markets.

Yet Uzbekistan is changing, too. While color revolutions appeared to be homing in on Tashkent, the Uzbek government of Islam Karimov quickly devolved from arrogance to paranoia. Far from persisting in trying to achieve its previous goal of becoming a regional hegemon, Uzbekistan is now like a schoolyard bully who has discovered he is not the biggest boy on the block. Uzbekistan will now sign nearly any deal with anyone who is willing to commit to helping Karimov remain in power, no matter how oppressive his culture of fear gets.

Indeed, under Karimov Uzbekistan has become one of history's most oppressive states. While Turkmenbashi rooted out all opposition, he did so in an almost whimsical way. Totalitarian, sure, but many people had the option of exile. Not so in Uzbekistan, where political opponents -- and people who theoretically might one day join them -- are routinely rounded up, tortured and, if some reports prove true, boiled alive. In the end, Karimov's strategy has created a country full of the very sort of hostile, rebellious citizens and regional power centers that he set out to prevent.

As a result, it is Uzbekistan that will most likely face the most violent transformation once Karimov is gone. Like Turkmenbashi, Karimov has no clear heir (his oligarch, music video-making daughter is a nonstarter from the point of view of the country's regional clans), and the profiles of outside powers have been kept scrupulously low. Unlike Turkmenbashi, Karimov has created a culture in which violence, torture and murder are all part and parcel of normal governance. For the past three years, the country has been a pressure cooker with the lid held on only by Karimov's oppressive rule. When he breaks, his country is likely to break with him; the various regional -- and rival -- clans that control what little Karimov does not control will then use Karimov's tactics to take his spoils.


The final Central Asian state, Kazakhstan, is the most important of the lot -- and it certainly has the most players mucking around in its business. Kazakhstan shares a massive border with both China and Russia, who are battling for control of the country's energy export routes, and boasts more energy reserves than all the other four 'Stans combined. The majority of these reserves are being developed by Western consortia. Kazakhstan also has received more foreign direct investment than any other former Soviet state, Russia included.

In general, Kazakhstan is the only state in the region that the West pays attention to. Fourteen years after independence, Kazakhstan is now exporting more than a million barrels of oil per day because of Western investments -- a figure that Astana hopes to triple in the next 10 years. Chances for a messy secession battle are less in Kazakhstan because President Nursultan Nazarbayev has not made it a policy to kill all those with whom he does not agree.

But that does not mean the process will be tidy (or that Nazarbayev is a particularly nice man). Kazakhstan's biggest problem is its geography. The country is roughly three-quarters the size of the United States but has a population of only 15 million people. And there are no natural barriers separating it from Russia or China. Even if Nazarbayev or his successors do everything perfectly, this is a country that is impossible to rule without the express permission of one's larger neighbors. Should either Beijing or Moscow decide to make a concerted attempt to control Kazakhstan's mineral wealth, no one could stand in the way -- except, possibly, the other.

The Post-'Bashi Free-for-All

Once Turkmenistan's future gets nailed down in the weeks ahead, there is going to be considerable rejiggering of the regional political structure. Regardless of whether Ashgabat is controlled de facto by the Russians or outright by the Iranians, the other players in the game are going to take extraordinarily sharp notice of the shift in circumstances. When Central Asia is a no-man's-land ruled by local despots, there is room for all outside actors to play in the sandbox -- and play they have. But the calculus shifts once an outside player establishes pre-eminent control of a 'Stan. In a region with so few people and so much land, success and a lack of geographic barriers tend to beget more success.

Playgrounds are all well and good. Exclusive spheres of influence, however, force outside players to evaluate which of their interests are worth fighting over. With every dead leader the stakes will rise as more territory comes up for grabs. Looking at the almost certain instability that will erupt in each Central Asian country in the coming decade, the states eyeing Turkmenistan -- Iran and Russia -- must think not only about what they need now out of Turkmenistan but also about where they want to be positioned as the rest of the region explodes. This is a time for planning decade-long strategies, and then acting upon them within days and weeks.

And once Turkmenistan, for all practical purposes, ceases to be, the local powers themselves will need to place their bets. For Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, this will be a little more complicated than picking a preferred ally and suing for terms (with crossed fingers). But in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, this evaluation period will be far more serious. Despite all their weaknesses, these two states do, after all, possess powerful remnants of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons facilities.

When the Cold War ended, there was a transfer of control from Soviet authorities to national/Western authorities in a belt of states running from the Baltics to the Balkans. That process, for all the rhetorical fury it evoked, was remarkable in its tidiness and lack of violence. That was because there was only one player acting (the West) and the belt of states in question wanted to move.

With history now unfrozen, it is Central Asia's time to shift. But there is not one but five opposing players -- Russia, China, Iran, Europe and the United States -- seeking to influence the outcome, with different goals for each of the five Central Asian states. And, unlike Central Europe, the 'Stans do not agree on much of anything. Russia, by dint of proximity, history and infrastructure, enjoys a sizable lead but, with so many variables at play, calling the results of this race is impossible. Central Europe's transformation was remarkably peaceful. We do not expect Central Asia's transformation to be anything of the sort.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Facts are so inconvenient when they conflict with a larger goal!

Abbas' Gaza residence fired at repeatedly, Fatah security guard killed as Hamas members intensify their attacks. Israel, secretly, has shipped more arms to Abbas' police, as a result of U.S. request.

Few seem to be paying attention to GW regarding negotiating with and or visiting Syria. Sen(s).Kerry and Specter are soon to visit, Sen Nelson and others just returned. (Sen Kerry might make a side trip to educate our stupid troops who are fighting for their lives in Iraq.) I am surprised Jesse Jackson hasn't already been there. Israel's Peretz says now is the time but Olmert says no it is not the time to negotiate with Syria. (See 1 below.)

It is ironic the more Syria supplies arms to Hezballah, the closer it aligns itself with Iran and moves to overthrow Lebanon's government the more attention they receive and the more anxious Peretz is to negotiate. What does Olmert have to offer -land (Golan) for peace akin to Sharon's Gaza withdrawal. Syria lost the war and with it Golan at a heavy cost of Israeli lives. When will Arabs be given the chance to learn life's lesson - you attack, you lose, you lose permanently? Until there is a permanent cost for Arab aggressive behaviour and constant threats what incentive do they have to change?

In the world of PC'ism the message to the aggressor seems to be "to the loser belongs the spoils." Keep giving the keys to the child who speeds and wrecks the family car! Some message.

Itmar Marcus is someone we hope to get to speak here. Though he has agreed, there is a conflict in dates so we are trying to come up with a compromise. In two below, Itmar , through his PMW Organization, again sets the record straight with respect to the refugee problem by publishing the interpreted writing appearing in an Arab daily authored by an Arab writer. Itmar's organization tracks and interprets into English all Palestinian writings, TV and radio programs. (PMW.Org.IL)

What Itmar has uncovered is nothing new but because it undercuts Palestinian mythical claims it is consistently rejected and or ignored. Facts are uncomfortable when they conflict with a larger objective. Ask Jimmy, he ought to know something about that!

An election goes against Ahmadinejad? (See 3 below.)


1) Olmert: Now is not time to start talks with Syria, Bush opposed
By Gideon Alon, Aluf Benn and Yoav Stern

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the cabinet Sunday that now is not the time to embark on negotiations with Damascus, given that U.S. President George W. Bush is demanding Syrian President Bashar Assad "stop instigating war."

"We need to ask ourselves why, precisely at this moment, Assad is asking to renew negotiations with us," Olmert said. "The considerations that motivate Assad are not necessarily the considerations that motivate us."

He later added that, "Even the German foreign minister was disappointed by his [own] visit to Damascus."

But Defense Minister Amir Peretz, squaring off against Olmert in the Sunday cabinet meeting, said that Israel should hold an "urgent debate" to weigh Syria's recent diplomatic overture to consider entering into negotiations with Damascus.

A diplomatic source in Jerusalem said intelligence officials, including those who support talks with Syria, agree that Syria will not sever ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organizations even if Israel returns the Golan Heights. Olmert believes the threat of war will only increase if Israel's demands are not met.

But Peretz told the cabinet Sunday that "We must make decisions over the significance of the Syrian arena, and its priority, whether it is important enough in order to enter into negotiations, and whether we have preconditions for negotiations with Syria."

Israel's position must relate to those of Washington and the EU, Peretz continued.

"Any agreement comes with a price tag. In the case of Syria, the price tag is known," Peretz said, in a reference to the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

"The question is, do we see high strategic importance in a severing of the tie between Syria and the radical axis, and in barring cooperation between Damascus and Hezbollah?"

Israeli military officials said at the weekend that they believe the Syrian proposals should be examined carefully and not dismissed out of hand.

Peretz has for some time been calling for a review of possible talks with Syria, but he is demanding that Assad first prove he is serious about abandoning terror.

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Saturday in response to the statements from Damascus that Israel has preconditions for negotiations with Syria: the closure of the terror headquarters in Damascus, an end to Meshal's activities there and the suspension of arms deliveries to Hezbollah.

Assad calls on Olmert to heed calls for peace
In an interview published Friday in the Italian daily La Repubblica, Syrian President Bashar Assad called on Olmert to heed his calls for peace. "Talk to Syria, and like many Israelis are saying, 'even if you think it's a bluff you have nothing to lose.'"

Assad said he is not acquainted with author David Grossman, who called on Olmert to respond to the peace offers coming from Damascus, but that he is right. The Syrian president said he and others in his country follow the Israeli media, particularly where peace with Syria is concerned.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, meanwhile, told The Washington Post that Syria has no preconditions to negotiations with Israel, not even regarding the Golan Heights. In an interview in Damascus, Moallem told columnist David Ignatius, "A constructive dialogue has to start without preconditions."

Moallem did not bring up Syria's longstanding position that the peace talks must begin from where they left off, but Assad had this to say: "Anyone who wants to start from zero doesn't want to achieve peace, because that means he doesn't agree to things that have already been agreed." Assad also said that Olmert's government is too weak to advance the peace process, because "Peace is much harder than war."

Asked about Israeli intelligence reports about Syrian ground-to-ground missiles clustered on the border with Israel, Assad told the Italian newspaper that Israel and Syria are still at war and that Syria must be ready for an Israeli attack at any moment. He also said that Israel has declared that it is preparing for a war next summer.

"War is always possible in our region. It is natural to prepare (for it)," Assad said. He said that one of the ways to do this is by learning the lessons of previous wars, particularly in the region. He also said, however, that "Amassing missiles is an inexact description" of Syria's actions.

The interviews were the first by the Syrian officials since the publication of the Baker-Hamilton report of the Iraq Study Group findings. Both Assad and Moallem emphasized that Syria is willing to cooperate with the U.S. on regional issues, including Iraq. The interviews focused on Syria's relations with Israel and with the

Netanyahu: Syria must first end alliance with 'axis of evil'
Likud chair MK Benjamin Netanyahu said negotiations with Syria can begin when that country ends its alliance with the "axis of evil," stops the flow of arms from its territory to Hezbollah and shuts down terror headquarters within its borders. In addition, Israel must coordinate its actions vis-a-vis Syria with the U.S., Netanyahu said.

Aides to Netanyahu emphasized Saturday that Syria needs a peace agreement with Israel no less, and possibly more, than Israel needs a peace agreement with Syria. They stressed that Netanyahu has not changed his position that Israel must remain in the Golan Heights no matter what.

2) PA Daily: Arab leaders caused the refugee problem
by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

PMW has documented yet another corroboration in the official Palestinian
Authority (PA) paper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that it was Arab leaders who were
responsible for the flight of Arabs from the new State of Israel in 1948.

A backbone of PA ideology, and indeed of anti-Israel propagandists
worldwide, is the myth that Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs
from Israel and created the Palestinian "refugee" situation.

However, a regular writer for the official PA paper, Mahmud Al-Habbash,
writes in a recent column that in 1948 the Arabs left their homes willingly
under the instruction of their own Arab leaders and their false promises of
a prompt return. He refers to these promises as "Arkuvian," after Arkuv - a
figure from Arab tradition - who was known for breaking his promises and for
his lies - and states that the Arabs who left their homes, and became
refugees did so believing their leaders' deceptive promises. He places the
blame and the responsibility on the shoulders of the Arab leaders and does
not mention any so-called "Israeli expulsion."

Following is this most recent article, as well as earlier statements by Arab
"refugees" that have appeared in the PA press, all of which corroborate
Israel's historical narrative. The latter two testimonials are significant
because they were corroborated by still other more public Palestinians,
indicating that the responsibility of the Arab leaders is known in the
Palestinian world. One was confirmed by Arab Member of Knesset, Ibraham
Sarsur, who was then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and the other
by a Palestinian journalist, Fuad Abu Higla, in the official PA daily.

The following are four statements corroborating that Arabs fled Israel under
the instruction and the encouragement of Arab leaders:

1. Journalist writing about the events of 1948

Mahmud Al-Habbash, a regular writer in the official PA paper, Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida, indicates in his column "The Pulse of Life" that the Arabs left
Israel in 1948 only after political Arab leaders persuaded them to do so by
promising the Arabs a speedy return to their homes in Palestine:

".The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the
"Catastrophe" [[the establishment of Israel and the creation of refugee
problem] in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that
it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees
will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they
put their trust in those "Arkuvian" promises made by the leaders and the
political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and
the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events." [Term
"Arkuvian," is after Arkuv - a figure from Arab tradition - who was known
for breaking his promises and for his lies."] "
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006]

2. Woman who fled Israel in 1948

"We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer
in the year of the "Catastrophe" [The establishment of Israel and the
expulsion from the land in 1948]. They told us: The Jews attacked our region
and it is better to evacuate the village and return, after the battle is
over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire
burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who
left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would
return after a few hours."
[Asmaa Jabir Balasimah Um Hasan, Woman who fled Israel, Al-Ayyam, May 16,

3. Son and grandson of those who fled in 1948

An Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and quoted his father and
grandfather, complaining that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all
Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. In response, Arab MK
Ibrahim Sarsur, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, cursed the
leaders who ordered Arabs to leave, thus, acknowledging Israel's assertion.

Statement of son and grandson of man who fled:

"Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]. I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather
told me that during the "Catastrophe" [establishment of Israel in 1948 and
the expulsion from the land], our district officer issued an order that
whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon - Southern Israel]
is a traitor, he is a traitor."

Response from Ibrahim Sarsur, Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel:

"The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for
this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection

[PA TV April 30, 1999]

4. Article by senior PA journalist

Fuad Abu Higla, then a regular columnist in the official PA daily Al Hayat
Al Jadida, wrote an article before an Arab Summit, which criticized the Arab
leaders for a series of failures. One of the failures he cited, in the name
of a prisoner, was that an earlier generation of Arab leaders "forced" them
to leave Israel in 1948, again placing the blame for the flight on the Arab

"I have received a letter from a prisoner in Acre prison, to the Arab

To the [Arab and Muslim] Kings and Presidents, Poverty is killing us, the
symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are
still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a
needle in a haystack or like the armies of your predecessors in the year of
1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the
battlefields of civilians... So what will your summit do now?"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, March 19, 2001]


It is clear from these statements that there is general acknowledgement
among Palestinians that Arab leaders bear responsibility for the mass flight
of Arabs from Israel in 1948, and were the cause of the "refugee" problem.
Furthermore, the fact that this information has been validated by public
figures and the media in the Palestinian Authority confirms that this
responsibility is well-known - even though, for propaganda purposes, its
leaders continue to blame Israel publicly for "the expulsion."

3) Ahmadinejad losing in local election

Iran's interior ministry confirmed Sunday that former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani has a comfortable lead in the polls of the Experts' Assembly elections.

The development was seen as a setback for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - although Ahmadinejad himself insisted Sunday that the elections were not a popularity test for himself.

Rafsanjani, one of Ahmadinejad's main opponents, gained almost two times more votes than the presidential candidate Mohamad-Taqi Mesbah- Yazdi, who is only in sixth place, official said.

Rafsanjani represented the coalition of reformists and moderates in the elections for the Experts' Assembly which has the power to appoint, supervise and even oust Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who constitutionally has the final say in state affairs.

The new anti-Ahmadinejad coalition is also backed by former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, who appeared together with Rafsanani at the polling station in the Jamaran mosque in north Tehran on Friday, demonstrating their political solidarity.

Ahmadinejad earlier rejected Western interpretations that the two elections in Iran have been a popularity test for his person.

"These are just empty phrases by the foreign press for undermining the people's solidarity," he told a press briefing at the election headquarters in the interior ministry in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad's government has termed the people as the main winners of the elections and the turnout as a way of neutralizing "Western conspiracies" against Iran.

"The government has no sensitivity on who wins or loses in the elections," Ahmadinejad claimed. "For us the participation of over 28 million people (60 per cent) in the elections shows national solidarity and is the best fuel for the engine of future programmes."

Initial results of the municipality elections indicate that the presidential group named "The Sweet Smell of Service" gained only two of the fifteen seats of the Tehran City Council.

The Abadgaran (Development) party, of which Ahmadinejad was a senior member, distanced itself from the president in the run-up to the elections owing to differences over the mayor.

While Abadgaran wanted the current technocrat mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf to continue, the Ahmadinejad group reportedly insisted on appointing a new mayor.

Although Abadgaran seems to get the majority in the Tehran City Council it has lost total domination and must share the seats with reformists close to Khatami and Rafsanjani.

Due to differences over the computerized counting process, the election headquarters in the interior ministry has to count the votes manually. The announcement of final results is therefore expected to take at least two more days.

The final results of the Experts Assembly elections were to be announced later Sunday but observers consider it certain that Rafsanjani will maintain the pole position until the end.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Honest Reporting takes a stab at Jimmy and finds him wanting!

Hamas' Haniyeh was emptied of $35 million in cash he was bringing back from Tehran before being allowed to pass thru Rafah (See 1 below) and then his convoy was fired upon by Abbas' Force 17 wounding his son and killing a body guard. This can only incite the violence between Hamas and Fatah.

Don't forgot it was only a few days ago these same opposing forces were engaged in discussing forming a unity government. As I have said before and now repeat, bring Arabs together for a unity meeting and you create disunity.

Wall Street Journal lead editorial "Kofi and U.N. 'Ideals'" had it about right. Annan, were he running a public company, would be in jail with the likes of the Enron folks.

Another editorial talks about Pelosi's choice to Chair the House Intelligence Committee. Because of feminine angst Pelsoi passed over Rep Harman, an imminently qualified person, for someone who appeased the Black Caucus crowd when she passed over Rep. Hastings. Now we have "empty freezer Rep. Jefferson" returning. This is the new "clean sweep Congress."

Honest Reporting has a blurb on Carter's new book (See 2 below) and points out how the upper echelon of the Democrat Party are distancing themselves both from the man and his book.

Jimmy obviously may believe what was written and certainly is responsible for it but it is doubtful he wrote much of it. If he has, then he is in the onset stages of senility. He obviously has not come to grips with having lost the election and being accorded one of the lowest positions on the rung of the presidential ladder.

Because of his position and the attention showered upon him by a foppish media the man is dangerous but his thinking is so off the wall and unsupported by facts that one can only feel pity or worse laugh at his imbecility.

In three below one of the critical points Jimmy obligingly manipulates, pertains to U.N. Resolution 242. Jimmy thinks nothing about adding a word where none was intended or included. His attempt to rewrite history is in the vein of the English nut case who denied the Holocaust and lost a libel law suit to Emory's Professor Lipstedt.

Larry Kudlow knows something about getting a bounce to fame. After his relationship with Bear Stearns was severed because of substance abuse, he has become an influential TV star but he has remained true to his conservative stripes. In four below, he does a job on Obama, the Senator Rock Star from Illinois whom the media is trying hard to catapult into the White House after a few years of Senate service. Obama is bright and articulate and early. No doubt he would love to be president (why I don't know) and I still believe he will wind up on some Democrat's ticket as Sen Edwards did on Kerry's.

However, Obama runs the risk of being painted into the Uncle Tom Corner by his own as was Gen. Powell and most other intelligent and competent blacks who rise to prominence and find a place of acceptance in "whitey's world." Probably the best thing Obama can do to move his case forward is to accomplish something meaningful but that might not be as much fun as having one's feathers preened while being served soft balls by a fawning press which will turn on him as it generally does on the ones they once loved.


1) Analysis: Stopping the Hamas money flow

It is an open secret that Hamas has been smuggling millions of dollars into Gaza through the Rafah crossing ever since the international community cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority following Hamas's rise to power earlier this year.

Yet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision on Thursday to close the Rafah crossing to keep PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from bringing $35 million into Gaza was the first time Israel has actively intervened to stop the money flow. But if the money smuggling has been going on since the spring, why did Israel decide to take action only now?

According to government sources, it was simply a case of having accurate intelligence information about what Haniyeh had in his suitcases.

The sources said that had Israel known back in July that PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar intended to smuggle $20m. into Gaza, they would have taken similar action.

But there seems to be more at play than just good intelligence. Diplomatic sources said there was something so audacious in Haniyeh going to Iran, pledging jihad forever and coming back with suitcases full of cash, that Israel simply could not turn a blind eye. Especially since the Gaza cease-fire agreed upon a few weeks ago called for an end to the smuggling, both of arms and cash.

And while the international community would be less than tolerant were Israel to take military action in Gaza against rocket fire on Sderot, there would be more understanding in trying to prevent an influx of cash to bolster Hamas.

Furthermore, it was clear that the money originated in Iran, and the security establishment is becoming increasingly concerned about the growing connection between Hamas and Iran.

Security officials told the cabinet on Sunday that despite the international ban on bank transfers, the money has continued flowing into Gaza. They said that has led to a situation where Hamas's popularity and strength had not declined since the ban went into effect, but the organization was instead feeling a resurgence of confidence.

A confident Hamas is not only bad for Israel, but also for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters, which indicates that Israel is not the only player in the area that wants to see the money flow stopped.

Stopping the flow will be extremely difficult. Although it may be more difficult to walk the money through the Rafah crossing in a suitcase, it can still be smuggled through the tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor, since a tunnel that can fit arms and ammunition, can also fit suitcases of cash.

But by keeping Haniyeh from bringing the money in on Thursday, Israel sent a message that the unhindered flow of cash from Iran into Gaza was coming to an end. Money will still likely make its way through, but from now on it will probably be more difficult - and not only because Israel wants it so, but because Abbas and those loyal to him want it that way as well.

2) Carter's Book: Presidential Pulp

The former US President's new book causes controversy.

Many subscribers have alerted us to former US President Jimmy Carter's television appearances promoting his new book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid". Perhaps in deference to Carter's previous high position, some interviewers have displayed a reluctance to challenge the mistaken theme of his book. HonestReporting has previously debunked the false comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa.

Other critics include Alan Dershowitz who comprehensively takes apart the book, contending that Carter's use of the loaded word "apartheid," suggesting an analogy to the hated policies of South Africa, is especially outrageous, considering his acknowledgment buried near the end of his shallow and superficial book that what is going on in Israel today "is unlike that in South Africa - not racism, but the acquisition of land." Nor does he explain that Israel's motivation for holding on to land it captured in a defensive war is the prevention of terrorism. Israel has tried, on several occasions, to exchange land for peace, and what it got instead was terrorism, rockets, and kidnappings launched from the returned land. ...

Mr. Carter's book is so filled with simple mistakes of fact and deliberate omissions that were it a brief filed in a court of law, it would be struck and its author sanctioned for misleading the court. Mr. Carter too is guilty of misleading the court of public opinion. A mere listing of all of Mr. Carter's mistakes and omissions would fill a volume the size of his book.

Carter's views have also been disowned by high-ranking members of his own Democratic Party including DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Speaker Elect Nancy Pelosi as well as leading African-American congressman Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) who said the use of apartheid in the book's title "does not serve the cause of peace and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong."

HonestReporting calls on subscribers to ask the questions of Jimmy Carter that the media is failing to do.


The New York Times, along with much of the mainstream media, played a key role in propagating the view that Israel had indiscriminately and "disproportionately" targeted civilian areas in response to Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon. Now, the NYTimes reports on a new study that says Hezbollah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles and launched rockets near UN monitoring posts.

The study also says that 650 out of the 1,084 people the Lebanese government has said were civilians killed in the conflict were in fact Hezbollah terrorists.

The NYTimes coverage includes declassified IDF video and photos that explain how "The construction of a broad military infrastructure, positioned and hidden in populated areas, was intended to minimize Hezbollah's vulnerability. Hezbollah would also gain a propaganda advantage if it could represent Israel as attacking innocent civilians."

3) Carter's Palestinian fantasy No. 242
by Asaf Romirowsky

As ex-president Jimmy Carter's new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," hits the stores, it's worth looking into the infamous UN resolution 242 that he quotes so frequently.

Reading Carter's words gives no indication that Israel was the party that actually accepted 242 and the Arabs and Palestinians were the ones who rejected it.

In fact, after Resolution 242, the Arabs issued the equally infamous three "no's": No peace, no recognition, no negotiation.

None of this matters to Carter, who's built his post-presidency on practicing foreign affairs without an electoral mandate.

Palestinians and Arabs love to quote 242. It's become the foundation for the land-for-peace formula drafted after the Six Day War, and a superficial reading seemingly places Palestinian/Arab brokers of peace in a position of strength. For Arabs, this "legal" prerequisite emphasizes the give and take: If Israel valued peace, it would return land. If Arabs wanted land, they would give peace.

Arabs also love to quote 242 because it is a deceptively simple equation. On one hand, it talks about the exchange of land for peace with Israel, meaning there is room to negotiate. But although we naively believe it also calls for recognition of Israel as the Jewish state, that's not the case.

The resolution calls for "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." It deliberately does not call for withdrawal from "all" or "any" because the authors knew that such demands were unreasonable.

As far as "peace" goes, the resolution lays on the bureaucratic boilerplate and calls for "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

The resolution demands that Israel gives up some land in exchange for some, still unspecified, peace. Israel is still waiting.

As historian Michael Oren explains, "Israel accepted the resolution, albeit begrudgingly, as did Jordan. Nasser's response was more equivocal. While endorsing the UN's decision, he reiterated the three no's to his National Assembly... 'that which was taken by force will be regained by force,' and told his generals, 'you don't need to pay attention to anything I may say in public about a peaceful solution.' "

Decades later, in 2000, Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq Al-Shara illustrated the imaginary land-for-peace fantasy in a speech regarding peace with Israel. Al-Shara noted again the return of the Golan Heights as a prerequisites for negotiations with Israel:

"In no way did we agree to discuss any of the elements of peace before the issue of the full withdrawal is settled. In order for the withdrawal to be full, it must be... without leaving any Israelis - either civilian or military, nor any semi-military or semi-civilian; also, no ground station and no Israeli in any ground station. This is what full withdrawal means and we did not give it up."

Any time you raise the notion of "compromise" in the context of an Israel-Palestinians peace agreement it is relative to their fantasy interpretation of 242. To actually abide by the resolution would be anathema.

And, in fact, when it came to implementing 242, Israel did turn over land time and time again: Sinai, the Oslo accords, the withdrawal from Gaza - in exchange for a cold peace at best and open warfare at worst.

During the Oslo years and the al-Aqsa intifada and today under the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, "land-for-peace" really translates into "land-for-talk" because to too many Americans and Europeans, talk - not peace - is all that Israel should expect (and possibly deserve), in exchange for territorial concessions. This is the motivation which drove Hezbollah to attack Israel this summer and what continues to fuel Hamas as it rejects Israel's right to exist.

If the Palestinians really want to talk about Resolution 242 as the basis for anything, they should first get their own territories under control, stop firing rockets at Israeli towns, and start creating a decent civil society.

Until then, Israelis have learned a hard lesson that until the other side stops wanting to wipe Israel off the map, resolutions like 242 really aren't worth the paper they're written on.

4) Behind the Obama Bounce
By Lawrence Kudlow

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey anointed him presidential heir-apparent on "Larry King Live." Three-thousand adoring fans clung to his every word in New Hampshire. His new book sits atop the New York Times bestseller list. Over on "Monday Night Football," he announced, after "a good deal of soul-searching," that he is ready (wink-wink) . . . "for the Bears to go all the way!" (How's that for free advertising?)

Barack Obama is on a big-time roll.

In a Washington minute, the Democratic senator from Illinois has the media saying, "Hillary Clinton who?" But every honeymoon must come to an end, and I can think of a few reasons why Wall Street might want these nuptials annulled fast.

Last Sunday, while stumping -- er, speaking -- in New Hampshire, the young senator delivered an interesting line. Attempting to explain his sudden rock-star ascendancy to the pantheon of presidential hopefuls, Obama said voters wanted a new vision: "It's a spirit that says we are looking for something different -- we want something new."

Trouble is, there's nothing "new" or "different" about Barack Obama. Behind that charm and charisma -- a media-entrancing appeal worthy of Bill Clinton -- is an extremely liberal-left politician.

Just look at his record.

Obama voted against the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends, justifying his anti-growth stance with the old class-warfare saw about tax cuts for the rich. Of course, these are the very same tax cuts that spurred economic expansion, created record job growth and reduced the deficit, as revenues flooded the Treasury.

The young senator also voted against repealing the death tax. He dismissed it as a "Paris Hilton tax break" that would give "billions of dollars to billionaire heirs and heiresses." Try telling that to the owners of farms, ranches and small businesses who are forced to sell their legacies because of this tax.

He swings a nice protectionist bat, too. He has voted against free trade (CAFTA) and U.S. energy independence (drilling in ANWR), and has opposed lifting a $0.54 per gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol. "Ethanol imports are neither necessary nor a practical response to current gasoline prices," he claimed. Nonsense.

He's also strongly opposed to personal retirement accounts for Social Security reform and prefers instead that the government steward your money. As Amanda Carpenter wrote in Human Events, "When speaking out against various tax cuts, Obama has likened the 'Ownership Society' -- which entails such things as personalized Social Security accounts, health savings accounts and school choice -- to 'social Darwinism.'"

The George W. Bush way has been to work toward ending the multiple-taxation of savings and investment -- to lower taxes and put the people's money back in the people's wallets. It's all about capital. Simply put, the economy can't grow without capital to fertilize the soil of new technologies, jobs and businesses. But Obama scoffs at such notions.

The senator is liberal to the core. He voted against Supreme Court Justices Sam Alito and John Roberts. (Even liberal Sens. Russ Feingold and Pat Leahy voted for Roberts.) He said no to Patriot Act wiretap extensions, despite their proven effectiveness in halting terrorist attacks over the past five years. He collaborated in blocking John Bolton's appointment to the United Nations. He earned a perfect 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. He voted against a ban on partial-birth abortions twice as a state senator. He opposed the Defense of Marriage Act and stood against the Federal Marriage Amendment, despite acknowledging his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Let's remember that Democrats won their congressional majority by doing their best impersonation of Republicans. In securing their November sweep, the Democrats captured a huge margin of independent Ross Perot voters -- fiscal conservatives who favor balanced budgets, an end to deficit spending and strong national security. Obama fails these independents on each account.

Do Democrats really want Obama to take them on a U-turn back to the left?

If the Democrats really want to embrace a rising star, they need look no further than Harold Ford, the young African American congressman from Tennessee who nearly captured a Senate seat last month. Ford appreciates free markets and capitalism. He has boldly crossed party lines to vote to extend the investor tax cuts and expand tax-free savings accounts. He avoids class-warfare platitudes and embraces the Ownership Society. He's optimistic -- Reaganesque. And his pro-growth vision stands in stark contrast to Obama's nanny-state predilection.

The good news for Obama is that there are about 700 days until Election Day 2008. If he decides to seek the Democratic nomination, he has time to change his message -- perhaps after a few chats with Harold Ford.