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Thursday, November 22, 2012
Excerpts: Egypts president as major player. Irans parliament will not question Ahmadinejad. U.S.Israel agree against Iran smuggling into Gaza. Lebanese army dismantled additional rockets aimed at Israel. Iran nuclear site revealed in satellite imagery. Eg

Excerpts: Egypt's president as major player. Iran's parliament will not
question Ahmadinejad. U.S.Israel agree against Iran smuggling into Gaza.
Lebanese army dismantled additional rockets aimed at Israel. Iran nuclear
site revealed in satellite imagery. Egypt confiscates smuggled Libya
weaponry November 22, 2012

+++SOURCE: Egypt Daily News 22 Nov.22 ’12:”Morsi’s Gaza Ceasefire Deal Role
Secures Egypt’s President as Major Player”, By Hamza Hendawi
SUBJECT: Egypt’s President as major player

FULL TEXT:CAIRO — The Gaza cease-fire deal reached Thursday marks a
startling trajectory for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi: an Islamist
leader who refuses to talk to Israelis or even say the country's name
mediated for it and finally turned himself into Israel's de facto protector.

The accord inserts Egypt to an unprecedented degree into the conflict
between Israel and Hamas, establishing it as the arbiter ensuring that
militant rocket fire into Israel stops and that Israel allows the opening of
the long-blockaded Gaza Strip and stops its own attacks against Hamas.

In return, Morsi emerged as a major regional player. He won the trust of the
United States and Israel, which once worried over the rise of an Islamist
leader in Egypt but throughout the week-long Gaza crisis saw him as the
figure most able to deliver a deal with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

"I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate
the situation in Gaza and end the violence," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton, who met Morsi Thursda[22 Nov.] said at a Cairo press
conference with Egypt's foreign minister announcing the accord.

"This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt's new government is
assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a
cornerstone of regional stability and peace," she said.

After Israel launched its assault on Gaza a week ago, aimed at stopping
militant rocket fire, Morsi's palace in a Cairo suburb became the Middle
East's diplomacy central.

He held talks with Turkey's prime minister and the emir of Qatar, Germany's
foreign minister and a host of top Arab officials to get them behind his
mediation. An Israeli envoy flew secretly into Cairo for talks with Egyptian
security officials, though Morsi did not meet or speak directly with any
Israelis.

Throughout it all, Morsi and his aides sided openly with Hamas, accusing
Israel of starting the assault and condemning its bombardment, which has
killed more than 140 Palestinians. Five Israelis have been killed by Hamas
rocket fire during the battle.

Morsi hails from the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most
powerful political group and Hamas' own parent organization. Brotherhood
leaders, including Morsi, refuse to speak to Israeli officials. Morsi hasn't
even said the name of the country publicly since he was inaugurated in late
June, though he has referred to its people as "Israelis."

In ideology, the Brotherhood supports the use of force against Israel to
liberate "Muslim lands." Only two months ago, Brotherhood supreme leader
Mohammed Badie proclaimed that regaining Jerusalem can "only come through
holy jihad." The group opposes Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

But since coming to power, the group has had to yield to pragmatism. The
Brotherhood and Morsi have promised to abide by the peace accord. Through a
military operation and through dialogue, Morsi has tried to rein in Islamic
militants in the Sinai Peninsula who have attacked Egyptian security forces
and across the border into Israel.

When the Israeli offensive began, President Barack Obama spoke to Morsi
after talking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While Obama and
Morsi disagreed over whom to blame for the violence, they agreed to work
together to halt it.

That Israel was comfortable with an Islamist like Morsi mediating may not be
a measure of trust as much as a realization that only the Egyptians can
persuade their Hamas cousins to enter a deal and ensure an end to rocket
attacks.

The cease-fire announced Thursday[22 Nov.] defines Egypt as the "sponsor" of
the deal to which each side would appeal over violations. That potentially
puts Egypt in the uncomfortable position of ensuring militants in Gaza don't
fire rockets. If the deal falls apart – whichever side is to blame – Egypt
could face damage to its credibility or strained ties with one side or the
other.

Egypt's first freely elected president, Morsi also handled the Gaza conflict
in a way starkly contrasting with his predecessor, longtime authoritarian
leader Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled nearly two years ago.

An ally of Israel and deeply opposed to Hamas, Mubarak's regime helped
Israel blockade Gaza after Hamas seized the territory in 2007. When Israel
and Hamas last went to war in 2008, Mubarak was accused by critics of
secretly supporting Israel's ground offensive.

During that offensive, far bloodier than the past week's, Mubarak kept the
sole border passenger crossing between Egypt and Gaza mostly shut,
preventing some of the more seriously wounded Palestinians from receiving
treatment in Egyptian hospitals. Mubarak's regime was also wary of any deals
that would legitimize Hamas' rule in Gaza. Mubarak feared that a strong
Hamas would embolden Islamists at home, particularly his nemesis, the
Brotherhood.

Morsi has not completely thrown open the crossing as Hamas would like. But
during the past week, Egypt let in wounded Palestinians and bolstered Hamas
with waves of delegations entering Gaza to show their support – from
Egyptian activists to the foreign ministers of Turkey, Qatar, Algeria, Sudan
and others.

Morsi also dispatched his prime minister to Gaza soon after hostilities
began on a heavily symbolic visit. A photograph of a tearful Hesham Kandil
kissing the lifeless body of a Palestinian child was splashed across the
front page of every Cairo newspaper.

Since his presidency began, Morsi has used foreign policy to make a splash.
Critics say that allows him a high international profile with little
accountability and is easier than tackling the daily hardship of a
population already weighed down by unemployment, price hikes and surging
crime.

Morsi began with a hard hitting speech in Iran last August calling on
Tehran's ally Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. He founded a
working group with Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to look for an end to
Syria's civil war. It has gone nowhere and the Saudis have since pulled out,
but, Morsi is none the worse for it.

Gaza is more hazardous for him if the cease-fire fails. Egyptians feel
strongly about what they see as decades of suffering by the Palestinians at
the hands of Israel. Their opposition to Israel runs deep after four
full-blown wars with it in six decades. A resumption of Israeli attacks on
Gaza, for example, could land Morsi in hot water with the Egyptian public.

Also, Morsi has to contend with growing criticism by critics that his
preoccupation with Gaza pulled him away from pressing issues at home.

More than 50 children were killed last week when their school bus was hit by
a train at a railway crossing in southern Egypt, an incident that led to
charges of negligence against Morsi's government. Street protests against
his policies and the Brotherhood left one person dead and hundreds wounded
in Cairo since Monday. Charges of illegitimacy now swirl around a panel
drafting a new constitution after liberals and Christians pulled out in
protest against the domination of the process by Morsi's Islamist allies.

On top of that, Egypt announced Tuesday it reached an initial understanding
with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan to kick-start
the ailing economy. Egypt will have to reduce subsidies from basic items
like fuel, risking social unrest over price hikes.

"Morsi's popularity can't go on eroding like this forever" without a
backlash, said rights activist Mohsen Kamal. "He is vulnerable to dramatic
and maybe even violent changes if he ignores what is happening."

Sensing the mounting problems at home, Morsi called off plans to travel to
Pakistan for a summit of eight Islamic nations, sending his vice president
instead.

Morsi will stay home, an official announcement said, "to follow up on
domestic issues and the observation by all parties of the cease-fire in Gaza

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 22 Nov.’12:”Ahmadinejad off the hook as parliament
backs down”, Reuters
SUBJECT: Iran’s parliament will not question Ahmadinejad
QUOTE:”Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni said they (the parliament) must
not act in the interests of Iran’s enemies”
FULL TEXT:DUBAI — Iran’s parliament Wednesday[21 Nov.] called off plans to
grill President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei said they must not act in the interests of Iran’s enemies.

Ahmadinejad’s opponents in the 290-seat assembly dominated by conservatives
wanted to question him about an economic crisis that they blame as much on
his mismanagement as on Western sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.

Economic woes have forced up prices of goods, diminished the value of the
Iranian currency and exacerbated divisions within Iran’s factionalized
political system.

“Up to this point, the plan to question the president has been positive
because of the sense of responsibility of parliament and the readiness of
government officials,” said Khamenei, the 73-year-old cleric who holds
ultimate power.

“But if this issue goes any further, it will be what the enemies want and so
I ask the honorable representatives not to continue with it,” the Mehr news
agency reported him saying.

Seventy-seven lawmakers had backed the plan to grill Ahmadinejad and
questions were expected to focus on the currency fluctuations and what they
said was the mistaken allocation of limited government-subsidized dollars,
including for the import of thousands of foreign cars.

A spokesman for the group, Avaz Heydarpour, confirmed that the summons had
been withdrawn following Khamenei’s request, Mehr reported.

Once the favored presidential candidate of Iran’s hardliners who backed his
reelection over reformists at a disputed 2009 election, Ahmadinejad has
fallen from favor within the deeply factionalized conservative ranks that
rule the republic.

In March, he became the first president in Iran’s history to be called
before the legislature and had looked likely to have to relive the
humiliating experience.

During an hour-long session, he responded in a confident and at times
flippant tone to questions about his economic record and his allegiance to
Khamenei.

Lawmakers said they were left baffled and angered by his performance.

In recent weeks, he has fired back at the judiciary and legislature,
bringing into full public view a feud between himself and the powerful
Larijani brothers, Ali, the parliament speaker, and Sadeq, the judiciary
chief.

In a letter to Sadeq Larijani published in October, Ahmadinejad said the
judiciary had unjustly imprisoned his top press aide and that it was acting
outside the bounds of Iran’s constitution. — Reuters

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 22 Nov.’12:”Netanyahu Says Israel,U.S. to
Jointly Fight Iran Smuggling Into Gaza”, Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: U.S. Israel agree against Iran smuggling into Gaza
QUOTE:”Netanyahu:Israel and the United States have agreed to work together
to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza
Strip”

FULL TEXT:Israel and the United States have agreed to work together to
prevent the smuggling of weapons from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza
Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday[221 Nov.].

"Israel cannot sit idly by as its enemies strengthen themselves with weapons
of terror so I agreed with President (Barack) Obama that we will work
together -- Israel and the United States -- against the smuggling of weapons
to terror organizations, most of which comes from Iran," he said in a
televised address.

His remarks were made as an Egyptian-brokered truce agreement went into
effect, ending more than a week of bloodshed ending eight straight days of
bloodshed in and around Gaza.

Netanyahu said that Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense began after
increasing attacks by Gaza militants.

"I said we'd extract high price from terror organizations. The terror
organizations thought we'd refrain from strong action. They were wrong," he
said.

Israel, he said, had hit militant commanders, had destroyed thousands of
rockets and had wrecked Hamas command centers in its relentless aerial
bombing campaign which began on November 14 with the targeted killing of top
Hamas military chief, Ahmed Jaabari.

The Israeli army also claimed success in the operation, which killed 155
Palestinians and seen more than 1,300 rockets fired over the border, killing
five Israelis, one of whom was a soldier.

"Following eight days of operations, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) has
accomplished its pre-determined objective for Operation Pillar of Defense,
and has inflicted severe damage to Hamas and its military capabilities," the
army said in a statement.

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 22 Nov.’12:”Army Dismantles New Rocket Aimed
at Israel”

SUBJECT: Lebanese army dismantled additional rockets aimed at Israel

QUOTE:””two similar rockets were fired towards Israel but fell short”

FULL TEXT:The Lebanese army said it dismantled on Thursday[22 Nov.] another
rocket in southern Lebanon after two similar rockets were fired towards
Israel the day before but fell short.

The army command said in a communique that following the attack on
Wednesday[21 Nov.], the military and U.N. peacekeepers heavily patrolled the
Marjayoun area where the rockets were launched from and found a new rocket
on its launcher.

It said a judicial investigation has been launched to find the perpetrators.

The two rockets were fired on Wednesday[21 Nov.] from Marjayoun toward
Israel but fell short and landed in southern Lebanon's al-Khiam valley, the
army said.

On Monday[19 Nov.], Lebanese officials also found and disarmed two rockets
aimed at the Jewish state.

The two incidents coincided with a weeklong conflict between Israel and
Hamas in the Gaza Strip that came to a halt on Wednesday[22222221 Nov.]
following the announcement of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 22 Nov.’12:”IAEA shows new imagery of suspect Iran
(nuclear)base –diplomats” ,Agence France
SUBJECT:Iran nuclear site revealed in satellite imagery
QUOTE:” powers wanted to resume talks with Iran’“as soon as possible’ “
FULLTEXT:VIENNA — The UN atomic agency on Wednesday[21 Nov.] showed member
states new satellite imagery of suspected cleanup operations at Iran’s
Parchin military base, diplomats said.

The images showed considerable amounts of earth being brought into the site
and fences being removed, envoys at the International Atomic Energy Agency
briefing said.

“We are wondering whether they are intending to bring down the buildings,
the facilities,” one senior Western envoy said on condition of anonymity.

The IAEA said in a major report a year ago that it had “overall, credible”
evidence that Iran conducted research work “relevant to the development of a
nuclear explosive device” before 2003 and possibly since at Parchin and at
other sites.

The Vienna-based agency visited Parchin near Tehran in 2005, finding
nothing, but says it wants to go back after further evidence came to light.

Iran denies having conducted nuclear weapons research, and says that it is
not obliged to grant the IAEA access to Parchin because it is not a nuclear
site.

Western countries have accused Iran of removing evidence at Parchin, and the
IAEA says in regular reports on Iran that work spotted there by satellite
will seriously undermine any verification work.

The Vienna-based IAEA has focused on Parchin because its information about
activities at the site is not based on intelligence provided by other
countries, unlike in the case of other sites — intelligence that it refuses
to share with Iran.

In its latest report on Friday[[16 Nov.], the agency detailed “extensive
activities” at Parchin that began in January 2012 — following seven years of
“virtually no activity” — near a “large explosives containment vessel”
identified at Parchin in March 2011.

These activities included the “run-off of large amounts of water from the
containment building over a prolonged period”, the removal of external
pipework from the building and the “razing and removing” of five other
buildings, the IAEA report said.

The images also showed the “shrouding” of the containment vessel and another
structure in pink tarpaulin, as well as the “scraping and removal of
considerable quantities of earth” over an area of 25 hectares.

Access to the site, as well as to other locations and people involved in
Iran’s nuclear programme — which Tehran says is peaceful — is set to figure
in talks in the Iranian capital with the IAEA on December 13.

Parallel diplomatic efforts focused more on Iran’s current activities, most
notably uranium enrichment, are meanwhile gathering pace, with a meeting in
Brussels on Wednesday[[21 Nov.]Iran’s suspect nuclear base of six world
powers ahead of an expected new meeting with Iran in early 2013 or possibly
sooner.

A statement afterwards said that the powers wanted to resume talks “as soon
as possible” and that “necessary contact” with Tehran would be made “in the
coming days

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 22 Nov.’12:”Egypt confiscates warheads smuggled from
Libya”, Associated Press
SUBJECT: Egypt confiscates smuggled Libya weaponry
QUOTE:”Smuggled weapons often fall into the hands of Islamist militants in
the Sinai Peninsula, or pass via underground tunnels into the Gaza Strip”
FULL TEXT:CAIRO — Egyptian authorities have confiscated trucks carrying
explosive warheads and a variety of small arms ammunition smuggled from
Libya, the interior minister said Wednesday[21 Nov.].

A flood of weapons from its western neighbour has added to Egypt’s security
concerns as police have yet to fully return to their duties since last year’s
uprising. Smuggled weapons often fall into the hands of Islamist militants
in the Sinai Peninsula, or pass via underground tunnels to the Gaza Strip,
the site of fierce exchanges over the past week between Hamas militants and
Israeli forces.

Egyptian Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin said at a news conference in
Cairo that authorities spent weeks in the desert investigating the operation
before they finally seized the pickup trucks. They were carrying 108
warheads for Soviet-designed Grad rockets, near Marsa Matrouh, 430
kilometres northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast. Suspected
smugglers had fled the scene.

Also on Wednesday[21 Nov.] in Egypt’s troubled northern Sinai region, troops
from a multinational observer force fired on protesters demonstrating
outside their base against the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Egyptian security
officials said that one person was killed and another injured. The 12-nation
observer force is part of the peace treaty signed by Egypt and Israel in
1979. American troops make up the largest contingent of the 1,650-strong
force.

Libya’s revolution last year unleashed a flood of small arms and heavy
weapons, including shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, into
circulation through the vast Sahara desert of North Africa. Military experts
say weapons that cross Libya’s porous borders with neighbouring Egypt and
Sudan could be falling into the hands of Islamic militants.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza have stockpiled Grad rockets and
fired them at Israeli territory over the years, including in the latest
round of fighting

==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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