Friday, August 15, 2008

Iran is not an Israel Issue: Saudi urges bombing now

The point that Iranian nuclear development was an issue of world concern was made by Shimon Peres repeatedly. For some reason, U.S. politicians keep acting as though it is only an issue of Israeli security. This column by a Saudi, as well as similar sentiments by other Gulf Arabs, illustrates the real danger posed by Iran.
But nobody is willing to do the job themselves. They are only willing to give advice to others. This fellow writes:
"Thus, we need to push the world powers, and especially the U.S. and the E.U., towards military confrontation to neutralize the Iranian enemy, whatever the cost, before the nuclear bomb makes it too late – even if it is against the will of the Arabs of the north."
Special Dispatch | No. 2026 | August 15, 2008
Saudi Arabia/Iran
Saudi Columnist: Bomb Iran Now, Let Chips Fall Where They May 

In his August 4, 2008 column in the liberal Arab e-journal Elaph, Saudi columnist Saleh Al-Rashed argued that the Gulf states should urge the West to attack Iran before it acquires nuclear weapons.
Following are excerpts from the column:(1) 
A Nuclear Iran is Like a Nuclear Bin Laden

"'There's no avoiding what there's no avoiding' – this adage came to mind when I read the pronouncement by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammad 'Ali Ja'fari, who said: 'My country is easily capable of closing the Straits of Hormuz, the main passageway for oil freighters, if the country is attacked due to its nuclear program.'
"In my estimation, confronting this country, which is trying to gain the time necessary to acquire nuclear weapons, is unavoidable. The possession of nuclear weapons by a state like Iran, which is ideological to the core, is more or less like Osama bin Laden having a nuclear bomb. They are two of a kind. Despite the difference in their turbans and in their religious beliefs, the end result is the same.
"Perhaps it is our bad luck that we [i.e. Saudi Arabia] and the Gulf states would be the first to suffer from a military confrontation with Iran and from its response, and the problem would become even more grave if Iran succeeded in closing the Straits of Hormuz, as the IRGC commander threatened. But our situation with Iran is like that of the sick man who refuses to have his illness treated with cauterization. Yes, the pain of the burning is horrible, but this malady can only be treated through this military confrontation –cauterization.
"History has taught us that ideological countries only pay heed to victory over their ideology… They never accept any halfway situation, even when they find themselves on the brink of disaster."

"Confrontation Is The Solution"; "The Absolute Priority Must Be Our Strategic Security in the Gulf"

"Confrontation is the solution, and there is no solution but confrontation. The game of the carrot and the stick played by the U.S. and E.U. will be to no avail.
"At present, we are suffering from two things: Iran's attempts [to gain] regional hegemony, and its attempts to impose its influence via its sectarian allies – the fifth column of Arab Shi'ite fundamentalists. Imagine what Iran's influence, hegemony, and fifth column would be like if Iran had a nuclear bomb.
"Perhaps it is a strange coincidence that, this time around, our strategic interests coincide with those of Israel. The regime of the mullahs in Iran is our enemy, and at the same time it is an enemy not just of Israel, but of world peace and security.
"I know that the Arab demagogues stand together indiscriminately with anyone who is against Israel and America. But we need to not be swept away by these demagogues as we were in the past. This time, the absolute priority must be our strategic security in the Gulf, which is threatened by Iran – even if this comes at the expense of the Palestinian cause.
"In politics, nothing prevents you from allying with the devil for the sake of your interests. This is what confronting the Iranian danger – which is close – demands of us. This issue, in my estimation, cannot suffer delay or hesitation. Every passing day benefits Iran.
"Thus, we need to push the world powers, and especially the U.S. and the E.U., towards military confrontation to neutralize the Iranian enemy, whatever the cost, before the nuclear bomb makes it too late – even if it is against the will of the Arabs of the north."
(1), August 4, 2008.

Assassination of Syrian General Suleiman - Who benefits?

INSS Insight No. 67, August 14, 2008
Kulick, Amir
On August 1, 2008, Syrian general Mohammed Suleiman was gunned down on the beach near the Syrian city of Tartous. Only after five days of thunderous silence, Syrian officials, with typical reticence, reported that the general had indeed been assassinated and that an investigation was underway to find the culprits. Meantime, journalists and commentators have proposed different theories regarding the identity of the assassin and the reasons for the attack. The answers to these questions have many – and contradictory – implications: for the Syrian regime, for Israel, and for other regional elements.
Who was Mohammed Suleiman and what did he do? Who wanted him dead and why? Outside the very senior echelon, most Syrian personnel involved in internal politics – not to mention those involved in the security services and the military – tend to operate behind the scenes and not earn media coverage. The various sources that have provided details about Suleiman since his death have differing agendas and therefore perforce have offered varying accounts. Western intelligence sources have posited that he was involved in the Syrian nuclear project; American intelligence sources have tied Suleiman to transfers of chemical weapons from Iraq to Syria in 2003 on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq; the Israeli media has pointed to his involvement in arms transfers to Hizbollah; Lebanese sources have claimed that Suleiman was a key witness in the investigation of the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri; and Syrian opposition sources have explained that the Syrian general was one of the people closest to Asad and was involved in both security matters and party politics. Therefore, the latter have postulated that "something is rotten" at the very top in Syria. Various commentators have even suggested the conspiracy theory, i.e., that the assassination was a Hizbollah initiative to settle open accounts since the assassination of Imad Mughniyah in Damascus in February.
            It is possible to identify Suleiman's hand in three primary areas: internal Syrian issues connected to the regime and the party; sensitive military issues; and Lebanon-related issues, through which he was apparently connected both to Hizbollah and to others in the Lebanese political arena. Therefore, there may be different elements wanting to see Suleiman dead, and the implications of his assassination vary according to the respective theories.
            The internal Syrian arena is the most intricate possibility. The fact that Suleiman was viewed as one of the people closest to Asad suggests a number of individuals, especially at the very top of the Syrian leadership, who might have benefited from the assassination, part of a power struggle at the highest levels of the regime. Since 2000, Bashar al-Asad's firm entrenchment of his rule has been accompanied by the removal of various senior officials – deposing them from positions of power and replacing them with people from his inner circle. The most prominent examples of this were the 2004 retirement of Syrian defense minister Mustafa Talas and a year later, the dramatic escape of Vice President Abd-al-Khalim Khaddam to France. After Mughniyah's assassination, various reports were published regarding tensions between Asif Shawkat, the head of military intelligence, and Bashar al-Asad.
            There seems to be another locus of tension, between Shawkat and Asad's brother Maher, who heads the elite Republican Guards. In this scenario, the assassination of one of the president's inner circle may have been intended as a message from opposition elements, either from within the regime itself or from outside. At the same time, it is clear that from the intra-Syrian perspective, the implication of Suleiman's assassination for the regime is worrisome, as it raises the possibility that there are individuals not loyal to Asad within his inner circle. Oustings, "disappearances," and banishments of senior Syrian officials in the coming months may turn out to be connected to Suleiman's assassination and to internal power struggles.
            Regarding military issues and special projects: given the lack of available information, it is hard to point to a specific motive or individual who might have wanted Suleiman dead. If involved in this sphere, Suleiman would undoubtedly have been privy to sensitive technological information as well as other state secrets. Neither one of those represents a good enough reason to have him eliminated by someone on the inside. Asad's regime has ways of removing people from the nexus of power, and assassination is not one of the common ones – unless Suleiman was intending to exploit the knowledge he had in a way detrimental to Syria, e.g., through defecting to the West, like former Iranian officer General Ali Reza Asgari did in 2007. In this light, the assassination might have served the Syrian regime both as a means of revenge and as a potent message to the inner circle.
            Over the years, many people involved in the Lebanese quagmire have been badly burned and even lost their lives, and it is possible that Suleiman has joined their ranks. Several elements may be relevant in this scenario: first – the Syrian regime. If the reports from Lebanon are true that Suleiman was a key witness in the Hariri investigation and he was about to be summoned to testify, then the Syrian president himself would be interested in Suleiman's disappearance. This is far from fantasy: suffice it to mention the October 2005 suicide/assassination of Ghazi Kanaan, the Syrian interior minister, who for years served as the Syrian "commissioner" in Lebanon.
            A second element that may have wanted to see Suleiman dead is Israel – if the reports were true that he was involved in arms transfers to Hizbollah, particularly anti-aircraft weapons (Sunday Times, August 10, 2008). This possibility is certainly intriguing and engages espionage buffs and those fascinated by secret intelligence services. Nonetheless, it is hard to know if Suleiman was a significant factor in the Hizbollah connection, and in any event cooperation between Syrian and Hizbollah is intense and does not depend on any particular individual. Therefore even Suleiman's removal would not be enough to impede this cooperation, and would at most cause a temporary setback. Moreover, from the Israeli perspective, it is possible that the risk inherent in such an operation would far outweigh its possible benefit; after the reported September attack on the Syrian reactor and the Mughniyah assassination – both of which have been ascribed to Israel – an assassination of one of the Syrian president's inner circle might prove to be the straw breaking the camel's back, and would push the two states towards a dangerous escalation.
            Finally, the possibility that Suleiman was eliminated by internal Lebanese elements such as Hizbollah or another organization seems remote. Hizbollah is too close to the Syrian regime to want to jeopardize its relations with it by assassinating a senior Syrian official. A different Lebanese outfit may have wanted Suleiman dead, but the means of this assassination – sniper fire from the direction of the sea – and the need for precise intelligence to execute an operation like this make this possibility unlikely. Instead, a car bomb or a roadside explosion would have signaled an internal Lebanese element as responsible for the assassination.
            In the coming months, more solid information about the circumstances of the assassination will likely emerge. Until then, there is no doubt that this assassination will represent a considerable source of worry for the Syrian regime and President Asad himself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The People of Israel; Friends or Enemies?

Main Source: Articles and reports from Khorasan Newspaper, August 13, 2008   Page: 16 

The People of Israel; Friends or Enemies?

By: Reza Arad


Isfanyar Rahim Moshaee, the President Assistant and the Head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran called the people of Israel friends of  Iranians in July 29,2008. His words had many reflections thereafter and made many fundamentalists angry.


He repeated his previous view in August 10 again:" I announce for the 1000th time and louder than before that we are friends with all peoples of the world including the people of Israel."


The State Public Prosecutor, Gorban Ali Dorri Najaf Abadi, said at a meeting with the members of Amal Movement in Tehran: "The nation of Iran recognizes neither Israel nor the people of Israel as a nation."


He added:" According to Imam Khomeini's views, there is no difference between the people of Israel, their protectors and the Israel government. The nation of Iran has always been the supporter of Palestinians for 30 years and they will be in the future. Undoubtedly, all Zionists` partners and protectors should be made to answer to God and history."


Hasan Ghashghavi, the speaker man of Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed this viewpoint in his lecture yesterday. (August 12)


Dr. Ali Larijani, the Head of Islamic Council Majles( Parliament) denounced Moshaee`s viewpoints and utterances violently. He believes his words caused anti-Iranian intellectuals to satirize Iran in recent days.


Mohammadi Iraqui, the member of High Council of Cultural Revolution said in an interview with Fars: " Many Islamic countries asked for an explanation of Moshaee`s expressions. He should apologize to the nation of Palestine and all Muslims of the world; especially the people of Iran for his words. Otherwise, he himself must be responsible for any reactions."


Javad Aryan Manesh, the head deputy of Cultural Commission of Majles (Parliament) told the Khorasan reporter: " Moshaee has been summoned to this commission today (August 13) to explain his recent words about the friendship of Iranians and the people of Israel."


Mehr Press reports:" A five member corps of deputies will have a meeting with the President regarding Moshaee's repeated lectures about the US and Israel."


It doesn't seem as though the Iranian governors tolerate any relationship between two nations. In fact, they cannot tolerate Judaism in any form and place. We should not forget that the deputies of the Majles (Parliament) in the first years after the Islamic Revolution didn't shake hands with the Jewish deputy because they thought he was ritually unclean! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Liar of the Year: to Be or Not to Be a Ph.D.


The Liar of the Year: to Be or Not to Be a Ph.D.


By: Reza Arad


translated from articles in and other sources.


Ali Kordan was elected as the new Minister of State by the Iranian Parliament after long discussions last week. The main reason for these discussions which have continued for so long is suspicion about his doctorial degree from Oxford University.


One of his main opponents, Dr. Ahmad Tavakkoli, the president of "The Center of Parliamentary Research" told the reporters: "He does not have a B.A degree and if he was paid based on the doctorial degree previously, it had not been  lawful. It is possible that his degree would not be valid."


He added:" We will continue to investigate the validity of his degree even if it isn't valid. It is possible that it is valid but the issuer isn't valid. It is also possible that the issuer would not exist!"


"Due to his claim, we investigated the professor who signed his doctorial degree at Oxford University web site, but could find nothing" He said.


What if he is a liar? Dr. Tavakkoli answers:" We do not have laws so that the Parliament can revoke the votes, but we should clear major facts such as these. He does not have even the B.A. degree in his C.V. and claims that he is graduated from Islamic Open (Azad) University of Iran with M.A. degree without passing the course of B.A. degree. We haven't inquired about it this university yet."


Also the President Ahmadi Nejad in the welcome ceremony for this new minister said: "Does serving require that a person have these pieces of paper ? There are so many prominent people who have the highest degrees of honor so that they do not need these pieces of paper in this country."


ISNA Press reported that copies of his false degree weredistributed among reporters. In any case, the investigation continues…     



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do the Beijing Olympics make Satan happy?

This just in from the old man himself, who was relaxing at his summer home:
"Reports that I am overjoyed by the Bikini Olympics are false. The original contestants were naked, and I didn't care all that much about that either. Actually, I get a big kick out of suicide bombers and hate mongers. Every day, I thank the perpetrators of the genocide in Dafur as well. A special place will be reserved for those who helped make it happen. I am also pretty happy with fanatics like Al Munajid, who are sure to spread hate and discord. Don't worry Munajid, there's no energy crisis in hell. Plenty of fire for you. "
A source close to Satan who refused to be named added:
Actually, Satan and everyone else here is thoroughly disgusted with the show of brotherly love and constructive achievement in Beijing. Even worse for Hell is the fact that Chinese seem to have gained a measure of freedom and are enjoying themselves. Our department of government has been planning all sorts of Hell on Earth for Chinese ever since anyone can remember. Mao, the Opium war and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria were major achievements for us. The Olympics are a real defeat. Where are all those nice starving people we used to see? What the Hell is Hell coming to anyhow, if we are reduced to smirking about Bikinis?? Give us something we can dig our fangs into.
Ami Isseroff
 MEMRI - Special Dispatch Series - No. 2020 August 12, 2008 No. 2020
Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid Slams Beijing Olympics: Nothing Makes Satan Happier Than The 'Bikini' Olympics

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid is a well-known Saudi Islamic lecturer and author. He frequently appears on Saudi TV channels and is known for issuing controversial fatwas. He previously worked in Washington, D.C. at the Saudi Embassy Islamic Affairs Department but was stripped of his diplomatic credentials. [1]

In an August 10, 2008 interview with Al-Majd TV, Al-Munajid was highly critical of the Beijing Olympics, which he called the "bikini Olympics," referring to them as "satanic."

Al-Munajid is known for his criticism of other sporting events. In a January 2005 interview, he said that soccer games "reveal nakedness," adding that women must not exercise in public because they wear "tight fitting, short" outfits to do so, and also that women are forbidden from participating in the Olympics. [2] Al-Munajid also discussed, in a July 2007 interview, how Western "beasts" use public toilets and wear colored underwear "to conceal all that filth." [3]

Following the December 2004 Southeast Asia earthquake and tsunami, in January 2005 Al-Munajid called the disaster "punishment" for sex tourism on New Year's Eve and for drunkenness on Christmas, [4] and said that Allah had "finished off the Richter scale" in vengeance against the infidel criminals. [5]

Before that, in April 2004, Al-Munajid discussed jihad, the U.S., and Iraq, calling America "Heretica" and assuring viewers that "the big explosion will come." [6]

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit

To visit the MEMRI TV page for Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid, go to

Muhammad Al-Munajid: "How come modern sports - especially women's sports - involve the exposure of private parts? It is well known that the Olympics - both in the past and the upcoming games... the world's worst display of women's clothing is the women's Olympics. No exposure of women's private parts on a global scale could make Satan happier than Olympic games that include women's sports."

Interviewer: "And in a scandalous manner..."

Muhammad Al-Munajid: "Yes. It is an enormous Satanic issue.


"One of these criminals compared a soccer team that made it to the top in Asia and traveled to Spain to the conquest of Andalusia! Allah be praised! The conquest of lands, the bringing of monotheism to these lands, where the name of Allah is uttered, where Islamic learning and scholars emerge, and where the banners of Islam are raised high - all these you compare to people chasing an inflated piece of leather?!


"Many people nowadays watch sports rather than participate in them."

Interviewer: "And this is a problem..."

Muhammad Al-Munajid: "If only they would run or move their bodies a little... All they do is sit and watch the sports channels. Some fathers come to me and ask if it is permitted to hook up just to the sports channels. It is for the kids, they say. There is pressure. Football leads to temptation. It is not an innocent sport. Take boxing, for example, or some types of so-called free[style] wrestling, which involve hitting the face, breaking bones, inflicting injuries and pain. They involve obvious bodily harm. The Prophet Muhammad said: If you beat someone, avoid the face. The Islamic jurisprudence authority banned boxing, because it involves beating in the face, which can lead to blindness, brain damage, broken bones, and even death. The beater is not held responsible, because they both consented to this, and the spectators are happy. When someone is beaten in the face and knocked down, they jump for joy.


"Wrestling involves the exposure of women's private parts. Even the promotion of the competitions is done by scantily clad women. This is done at the beginning of the match, in the middle, and at the end, or so I hear... the matches are promoted by half-naked women.


"The sport of yoga was originally a Hindu game used for divine worship. For them, practicing yoga is a means of divine worship. Whoever practices yoga today is emulating their form of worship.


"Beijing or not... I call it Bikini, anyway... because they are likely to display women in the worst possible way in these 'Bikini' Olympic games.


"What women wear in the Olympic games are among the worst clothes possible. The inventions of Satan, with regard to the exposure of the body in gymnastics, in swimming, in whatever, in tennis... Women have never gotten naked for sports like they do in the Olympics. It is aired to billions of people worldwide. The problem is not just with the spectators who are present. The whole thing is aired on TV..."

Interviewer: "And maybe the men's clothing is more modest than the women's..."

Muhammad Al-Munajid: "There's no 'maybe' about it. It is definite."

Video: Assad cousin robbing a Syrian bank

Numair al-Assad Robs a Syrian Bank in Daylight

Washington DC - August 12, 2008/RPS Staff/ -- A YouTube video posted by a Syrian who managed to upload it without detection shows a clip of Numair al-Assad, one of many cousins to Baschar al-Assad, holding-up a Syrian bank near Tartous. The video has already been seen over 100,000 times on YouTube.

The lawlessness of the Assad regime is driving people in Syria to further seek Islamism as the only solution to extricate themselves politically and economically from the oppressive measures and the open corruption practiced by the Assads as exemplified by this video. The longer this regime stays in power, the more difficult it will be for Syrians to build a free and democratic nation as the Iraqis have successfully accomplished.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Iran: False Statistics; From Weak Managers` Concealment to Obtain a greater Share of the Budget

Tuesday: June 17 2008 Khorasan Newspaper 


False Statistics; From Weak Managers` Concealment to Obtain a greater Share of the Budget

By: Seyyed Yahya Azimi

Translated by: Reza Arad


Many evidences show that statistics are necessary for efficient programming of daily affairs of countries and organizations. They are  a very important factor in implementing any economical, cultural, social and political projects. The use of statistical data has increased greatly, so that the new world is called "The World of Statistics and Probabilities" by some thinkers.


Ismael Ahmadi Mogadam, the President Consultant in an interview with Jaam-e-Jam Newspaper says:" Some parts of false statistics presented by high managers of state organizations are intended to get a larger share of the budget, but the foreign press uses them against our country."


Researchers believe that people accept information, psychologically, more easily  if they are in the form of figures and numbers. So, statistics are a powerful factor for satisfying and convincing public thought.


Dr. Amir Hooshang Mehryar, social psychologist and university professor, in an interview with Jaam-e-Jam online says: "While there is no trustee in charge of removing social injuries in this country, how do you expect that there would be administrators for statistics?"


Other researcher (M.A. of management) says: "When some senior managers intend to obtain more from the budget, in fact, they want to hide the deficiencies of their organizations so that no one notices the infirmities of these organizations. Undoubtedly, we should not expect them to respect clientele and do their work correctly and on time."


Daryoosh Ganbari, the former deputy of the Parliament says: "Untrue statistics have become a serious problem in our country. Some statistics are so unbelievable that they are rejected by the managers themselves who presented them previously. The reasons for presenting false statistics by superintendents of the country are: First, the great weakness of statistical system of the country and second, propaganda and political aspects of the statistics. These both cause people's distrust and suspicions to increase."


Morteza Tamaddon, the former deputy and a former member of "Central Council of Fundamentalists" in Parliament says: "The only remedy for untrue statistics is comparing the governmental statistics with the data presented by Iran Statistics Center. This causes clarifying the facts for the public and if there is any mistake, it will be corrected."


A basic question is who is in charge of true statistics in the country and what the effect of false statistics is on psychological safety of the society?


A senior manager of the Iran Statistics Center says:" According to the law, only the statistics presented by this center are dependable because we use a clear and lawful process to produce them. This center does not have administrative power, although only its statistics are appropriate and usable based on the State law. Some organizations present their own statistics and no one investigates  them and the State does not administer its sanction. If an organization feels that it will be questioned if it presents false statistics to justify its operations, it never does that."


Dr. Ahrari, psychologist, says:" False statistics cause a feeling of  insecurity in some social categories. In fact, the most dangerous social injury for a society is that people confront untrue statistics. Social injuries are connected to each other like a chain which appears in the form of behavioral disorders and discords in a society. The cause of these injuries often is pessimism and any false statistics can cause pessimism and distrust. The injuries of untrue statistics sometimes are irrecoverable for a nation at the international level."


It sounds as though the governors must look for a remedy that will ensure people hear the true statistics from the press every day, not false statistics by news makers or managers who want to show everything as ideal and gracious.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hamas control of Gaza - Good for Israel?

Some can see a silver lining in any event:

Hamas' nearly complete takeover of the Gaza Strip gives Israel better tools to manage the conflict with Hamas in the Strip because now the movement bears full responsibility for everything that happens there and has to account for every development. This new situation allows Israel to arrive at stable understandings with Hamas if it is so inclined. On the other hand, if the basic premise of Israel's strategy is that the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip must be brought down, the ability to realize this strategy has been severely damaged, and the sole remaining option is occupation of the Gaza Strip, a course of action that would certainly incur a steep price.
A third possibility is that Israel can neither reach a stable understanding nor eliminate Hamas. In that case, Hamas control simply gives it more power to control the situation and makes it a tougher adversary. Somthing that Mr. Brom did not consider. How's that for an insight?
Ami Isseroff
INSS Insight No. 66, August 10, 2008
Brom, Shlomo

The violent confrontation between Hamas and Fatah that occurred in the Gaza Strip after the July 25th explosion of a car carrying Hamas activists has brought about a significant strengthening of Hamas' control of the Gaza Strip and an almost total elimination of Fatah's presence there.

After Hamas' June 2007 takeover of Gaza, the Islamic movement allowed Fatah to continue its local activities. Fatah leaders were able to travel between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, officials working for PA president Mahmoud Abbas continued to operate in Gaza, and Fatah's organizational frameworks continued to function. Among the several reasons for this were Hamas' reluctance to burn all its bridges with Fatah and the PA; the hope of renewing the dialogue with Fatah; and the fact that Mohammad Dahlan's rivals within Fatah in the Gaza Strip cooperated with Hamas in its takeover of the area.

The assassination of five senior members of Hamas' military wing presented Hamas with the opportunity to wipe out Fatah's presence in the Strip. Even if the assassination was the immediate catalyst, it is safe to assume that Hamas decided on this objective long ago because all attempts at dialogue with Fatah had failed: the PA in the West Bank, under Abbas' leadership and in cooperation with Israel, is engaged in an ongoing effort to destroy the Hamas infrastructure there, and Fatah operatives in the Strip continued to challenge Hamas, in part through firing rockets into Israel in order to demonstrate that Hamas control of the Gaza Strip is weak.

Hamas has now forbidden Fatah activity in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Fatah members have been arrested, including the entire cadre of senior leaders there, and Hamas has taken control of all Fatah assets. The confrontation peaked with the clash between Hamas and the Hilles clan in the Seja'eya neighborhood. Ahmed Hilles, the senior figure in the clan, had served as Fatah's director-general in Gaza and is Dahlan's biggest rival. He headed the group of Fatah operatives who cooperated with Hamas, but this did not help him in the current confrontation. It was important to Hamas to break the clan's military strength, the only locus of Fatah power left in the Strip.

An interesting aspect of Hamas' actions, though it did not attract much attention, was its use of the opportunity to consolidate its power by dealing with power centers of other rivals not necessarily connected to Fatah. Hamas successfully imposed its rule over clan-based and other loci of power in Gaza. The most prominent among these were the Durmush clan in the Sabra neighborhood that used to operate under the name "Army of Islam," which surrendered to Hamas forces, and the Ahmad Abu-Reish Brigades, a militia of the Abu-Reish clan active primarily in the southern part of the Strip and a major player in the tunnel smuggling industry. This clan suffered a heavy blow when dozens of its members were arrested and stripped of their weapons. In addition, Hamas closed down the Popular Front's radio station in the Gaza Strip, the only opposition media left in Gaza and the only voice criticizing Hamas policies.

In Israel, attention focused on the photographs of wounded and destitute Fatah members fleeing into Israel, including some involved in terrorist attacks against Israel in recent years. However, this aspect of the latest development is secondary to the fact that Hamas has now attained full control of the Gaza Strip. If in the period since Hamas' takeover of Gaza there were cracks in its hold and there was still the possibility that Hamas would fail in the same way Fatah had failed and would not be able to prevent local axes of power from undermining its policies, it is now clear that Hamas' pattern of control is different and much more efficient. Hamas' governing problems were apparent to a certain degree in its inability to force various elements to comply fully with the ceasefire. In the new situation, it is clear that violations of the ceasefire will result from Hamas indifference rather than an inability to enforce the ceasefire.

This will presumably influence the stability of the ceasefire. As long as Hamas is interested in continuing the ceasefire, it will likely be upheld without significant violations. By the same token, Hamas will also be able to fulfill any understanding it might reach with Israel or other parties, such as Egypt and the international community. This may have important implications for the possibility of reaching agreements regarding the Gaza-Egypt border. The containment of the Abu-Reish clan strengthens Hamas' control of the smuggling industry and of all that takes place along the Egyptian border. It will be possible to take advantage of this to arrive at understandings with Hamas if it receives something in return that serves its interests, such as opening the Rafiah crossing.

The sole challenge remaining to Hamas' uncontested control of the Gaza Strip is the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. There are two possible scenarios here: in one, the organization will learn the lessons of the recent events and not confront Hamas, which will thereby allow it to continue to operate in the Gaza Strip; in the other, the organization will sooner or later find itself clashing with Hamas, whereupon Hamas will force it to surrender. Secret Fatah cells that continue to operate in the Gaza Strip will be weak and not pose a significant challenge to Hamas.

These recent events all indicate that it will only be possible to bring down the Hamas government in Gaza through a military takeover of the Gaza Strip. As a result, the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank becomes even more pronounced. The developments in Gaza strengthened the determination of the PA and Israel to destroy the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank. The PA's security apparatuses went on high alert because of concerns that Hamas would retaliate in these areas, and PA forces stepped up its arrests of Hamas operatives. Similarly, there were efforts to prevent Islamic demonstrations and marches, and preachers were arrested at the mosques.

Will these developments affect the chances of reaching a deal to secure the release of Gilad Shalit? Hamas' increased self-confidence as a result of its recent success might make its negotiating posture even more rigid; on the other hand, it will also reduce Israel's willingness to soften its stance. Therefore, the chances for concluding the deal in the near future are not very good.

Hamas' nearly complete takeover of the Gaza Strip gives Israel better tools to manage the conflict with Hamas in the Strip because now the movement bears full responsibility for everything that happens there and has to account for every development. This new situation allows Israel to arrive at stable understandings with Hamas if it is so inclined. On the other hand, if the basic premise of Israel's strategy is that the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip must be brought down, the ability to realize this strategy has been severely damaged, and the sole remaining option is occupation of the Gaza Strip, a course of action that would certainly incur a steep price.

Israel and China miracle

As this article notes, Chinese do indeed have a special regard for Israel. The reasons for this are complex, but they feel that Chinese and Jews share many things such an ancient culture, respect for learning an industriousness, and they are interested in studying the Israeli. Our little town of Rehovot has many visiting Chinese exchange students at the Weizmann institute and the Faculty of Agriculture.
A more recent development, is that Israel also represents an opportunity for Chinese construction firms to become competitive in developed countries:
Zhou says that Chinese entry into the Israeli market has been  relatively slow, since it requires adapting to a business environment that differs from that in the Third World. "We have very skilled workers," he says. "They can dig tunnels at a rate of 700 meters a month, as they are doing with the Carmel Tunnel. But Israel is the first developed country China is entering for infrastructure projects. For now this activity is limited to that of a subcontractor - but it is nevertheless a big challenge for Chinese firms, which are not accustomed to Western standards of regulation, for example, or workers'  protection." 
We hope however, that the huge trade imbalance will be corrected eventually, and that Israel will be able to export at least as much as we import from China.
Ami Isseroff
 By Adi Schwartz

Last update - 13:09 09/08/2008    
 'Israeli Miracle' is developing strong ties with Communist China  By Adi Schwartz 
Starting this afternoon and for the next 17 days, the gaze of the entire world will be set on the vast stadiums built by China during the past few years. Every TV screen will show the same image: The China of 2008 is a superpower, whose engineering projects and infrastructure are on a scale difficult for the modern world to grasp.
China has also managed to penetrate the Israeli market. The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) is tasked with digging the Carmel Tunnel. It will also be responsible for the civil engineering aspect of the Red Line of Tel Aviv's light-rail project, which will connect Petah Tikva in the east with Bat Yam in the south. ZPMC, the Chinese manufacturer of cranes and metal equipment, this week won the tender to supply seven bridge cranes to the Haifa port.
The huge Chinese construction corporations are state-owned. This means that anyone who does business with them is in effect doing business with the state and with the Chinese Communist Party.
Prof. Marvin Samuels, who divides his time between Israel and China, and has been following relations between the two countries for many years, says that, "In the past year, Israel has received amazing positive spin in China." Samuels, an adviser to the Chinese Ministry of Communications and a lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, points out that this trend is reflected in news reports in both the governmental and semi-independent media, "and in tremendous interest on the part of senior politicians as well as corporate executives. If Chinese companies have begun to do business in Israel, it is very probable that senior officials in the Chinese politburo gave them the green light to do so."
Zhou Hui, the commercial attache at China's Embassy in Tel Aviv, confirms that his government encourages Chinese firms to come to Israel. He says that the amount of trade between the two countries has increased dramatically since diplomatic relations were established - from $50 million in 1992 to about $4.5 billion in 2007. The balance of trade remains highly uneven: China exports goods and services amounting to some $3.5 billion to Israel, whereas it imports only about $1 billion-worth from Israel.
"China's presence in Israel as an infrastructure builder is new," says Samuels. "In the past, China used to export mainly cheap labor to Israel. But in recent years Chinese companies have been realizing huge projects, including power stations, airports and railroads. A Chinese company built the subway in Tehran in the past decade. The CCECC is now building a 1,300-kilometer railroad along the entire length of Nigeria. Previously it won an $8-billion infrastructure tender in Algeria."
Zhou says that Chinese entry into the Israeli market has been relatively slow, since it requires adapting to a business environment that differs from that in the Third World. "We have very skilled workers," he says. "They can dig tunnels at a rate of 700 meters a month, as they are doing with the Carmel Tunnel. But Israel is the first developed country China is entering for infrastructure projects. For now this activity is limited to that of a subcontractor - but it is nevertheless a big challenge for Chinese firms, which are not accustomed to Western standards of regulation, for example, or workers' protection."
The Carmel Tunnel will connect the Check Post junction, at the city's northeastern entrance, with the fairgrounds area in the southwest. The tunnel, some 4.7 kilometers long, is scheduled to open in 2011, and will be the longest of its kind in Israel. The tender for the entire project was won by Carmelton, and it in turn chose the Chinese company as a subcontractor for the excavation work. The cost of digging the tunnel is estimated at $90 million. Ami Morag, the project's administrative director, says some 550 Chinese are currently residing in Haifa while they work on the project, including about 50 managers and 500 workers (both engineers and laborers).
"The Chinese company has rented buildings in the city to house the workers," Morag says. "These are pleasant residences, with a washing machine and electrical appliances. It's a far cry from Levinsky Street in Tel Aviv [where many foreign workers live in often rundown housing]."
In Tel Aviv's light-rail project, CCECC holds 25 percent of the shares in the consortium undertaking the work. Other members include the Lev Leviev's Africa-Israel Investments and the German company Siemens, which will be in charge of the electro-mechanical work and will supply the trains. (The Chinese company will be in charge of the project's civil engineering work.) The contract for the franchise, which was signed in May 2007, is for 32 years, including five years of construction and 27 years of operation.
Commercial attache Zhou notes that there are many more projects in the pipeline. One of them, for example, is a future tender for renovating existing rail lines. In addition, a huge Chinese home-appliance manufacturer is considering opening a research and development center in Israel, and representatives of the Chinese car manufacturer BYD visited Israel just this week in order to examine the possibility of cooperating in the field of electric vehicles and hybrids. "The present situation still does not reflect the full potential between the two countries," says Zhou.
To make money
China has very good relations with the Arab world and with Iran. However, Samuels says, Beijing wants to maintain good relations with the West, too. The investment in Israel is a clear signal that China does not lean in one direction only.
Amos Nadai, Israel's ambassador to China, has a somewhat different opinion. He attributes the Chinese interest in working in Israel to purely economic motives. Nadai says most of the investments and projects China is involved in in the developing world were designed to guarantee it a supply of minerals and energy sources. The country's annual growth rate of 10 percent in the past three decades has prompted a tremendous expansion of its middle class. Some 150 million people have abandoned the village for the city in the past decade, and estimates predict that at least another 50 million will join them by 2010. The energy consumption of a Chinese metropolis is on average 2.5 times higher than that of a village, meaning the Chinese economy needs whatever it can get: cement for building, oil, soybeans, wheat and many other basic commodities.
These goods can be found aplenty in African and Arab countries, says Nadai, and it is there that China is trying to establish its political status, with the hope of guaranteeing a regular flow of raw materials and quarries. Israel, however, has other attractions for the Chinese.
"I keep hearing compliments about the ancient culture of the Jewish people and the old tradition," says Nadai, who took up his post in China about a year ago, "and about the ability to build a modern country out of them in a span of 60 years. These comparisons make the Chinese feel close to us: They, too, have a glorious tradition and they, too, are trying to develop a modern country quickly. They feel that they have something to learn from us.
"Only recently a large team of Chinese state television employees visited Israel for a period of three weeks, to research the 'Israeli miracle.' Now they are visiting several places in the world that used to have large Jewish communities, in order to examine the Jewish community's influence on its surroundings. Their idea is to try to decipher the secret of the Jews' success."
Nadai says that, "as a diplomat who has served in other countries in the past, I can say that there are no parallels today to such an attitude toward Israel and the Jews."