Monday, May 01, 2006

[imra] Daily digest - Volume: 2 Issue: 1381 (12 messages)

imra Mon May 1 00:26:07 2006 Volume 2 : Issue 1381

In this issue of the imra daily Digest:

Excerpts: Egypt: rigged elections?
Political unrest in Egypt 28 April 2006
Poll: 51% Not pleased Olmert
76% wrong for Peretz to be DM
Column One: Israel's new war
Chinese-Saudi Cooperation: Oil but also Missiles
Poll puzzle: Why are 85% satisfied how they voted when
51% Not pleased Olmert 76% wrong for Peretz to be DM?
Excerpts: Arab-Muslim support?Militant Islam 29 April 2006
Israel and Nuclear Suppliers
Group discuss nuclear exports control
Has the Saudi Kingdom Reformed? [Not really]
DSP Poll # 26 The Palestinian Government
- International Funding
Excerpts: Debate on nuclear issues in Terhan
Russia's energy threat to Europe. 30 April 2006


Subject: Excerpts: Egypt: rigged elections?
Political unrest in Egypt 28 April 2006

Excerpts: Egypt: rigged elections?Political unrest in Egypt 28 April 2006

+++JORDAN TIMES 28-29April '06:
"Egypt judges lock horns with regime"
"confrontation between ... the Egyptian government and reformist judges
who openly called for a change of regime"
"the judges have become a symbol for the drive for reform in Egypt"

"thousands of police deployed" ... "a return to the policies of oppression"
CAIRO (AFP): The confrontation stepped up a notch 27 April between the
Egyptian government and reformist judges, who openly called for a change of
regime and saw their supporters arrested and beaten by police.
After the hearing of two judges who had accused the judiciary of helping to
rig elections ... their syndicate ...vowed to keep up the pressure on
President Hosni Mubarak.
... the judges called for "democracy through free elections which allow a
real change of regime."
They also called for "the abolition of all exception laws, including the
state of emergency, and for the freedom to form political parties without
any restrictions."
...f the judges...have become a symbol of the drive for reform in Egypt and
had already been waging an aggressive campaign to demand more independence
from the executive.
Thousands of police had been deployed across Cairo 27 Aprilahead of the
hearing by a disciplinary board against Mahmoud Mekki and Hisham Al
Bastawissi, two of the most outspoken reformists in the judges' syndicate.
A group of a few hundred activists camped outside the court to support the
two judges were assaulted by police. Some of them were beaten with sticks
and an undetermined number arrested.
"Judges are our voice against dictatorship," .... ....
Activists were snatched off the street by police even before they reached
the block which houses a number of courts and the syndicates for the
country's journalists, judges and lawyers, witnesses told AFP.
. . . Only two years ago, street protests in Cairo were almost
unimaginable, but Mubarak had loosened his iron grip on the state amid
pressure from Washington to allow greater political freedom in Egypt.
Judges, intellectuals, rights groups and protestors argued Thursday that the
regime was reverting to its strong-arm tactics to muzzle dissident voices.
"If the demands of the judges were justified and didn't reflect those of the
nation, they wouldn't have worried the government so much and such a police
blockade would not have been imposed around the judges' meeting, as if they
were terrorists," Alexandria judge Ashraf Al Barudi told AFP.
"This display of force is a return to the policies of oppression and a
police state," said political commentator Mohammad Sayed Said, who was among
a group of intellectuals supporting the judges ... .
"But all this will not succeed in reimposing a culture of fear. The people
have already defeated it and they are ready to pay with their blood for
democratic change," he told AFP.
The opposition Muslim Brotherhood,.... said 21 of its members were detained
at Alexandria station as they prepared to go to Cairo to support the judges.
. . .

+++THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon) 28 April '06:
"The unshakeable shadow of Egypt's Emergency Law" By Maria Golia

"When a population is ruled by force instead of reason and consensus,
its keepers have cause to grow uneasy"
...Egypt's 25-year-old Emergency Law ... would be extended two years and
then replaced by a package of anti-terrorism laws. Two years in Egyptian
time translates roughly into never, and the promised legislation, it is
feared, will only make permanent what was previously considered temporary.
"The president is stalling," says Hisham Qassem, publisher of the
independent daily Masri al-Yom. "There is no real commitment to political
The Emergency Law forbids public assembly, curtails media freedom and
enables arbitrary detentions that are often prolonged and harsh. .. .Echoing
popular wisdom, Kefaya activist George Ishaq says, "The Emergency Law is not
[to protect] the people, but the regime." ...anti terrorism legislation
..."a new look for an old law."
... The suspension of due process has eroded the fabric of society and the
civil rights on which it is based.... criticism of the Emergency Law
...roused Mubarak to declare that "Only Islamists demand abolishment of this
law. But I will never let chaos prevail!"
... Thanks to the Emergency Law, the actual number of Egyptians held
without legal counsel for indefinite periods ... is estimated in the tens of
thousands; ... .
...Given the recent extension and the gist of the proposed replacement laws,
the trend is toward greater state control. This defensive style of
government has affected people's ability to act in incalculable ways, and
mistrust between government and the people is so rife, it's hard to say who
doubts the other more. The real problem, however, comes... when fear and
conformism replace self-confidence and debate. "Breaking the culture of
fear," says Ishaq, is a Kefaya priority.
One of the first words you learn in Cairo is mamnu, or "forbidden." ... .The
air of restrictiveness is enhanced by religious rulings ... Not everyone
takes the fatwas seriously, but between political and religious injunctions,
average Egyptian must wonder if anything worth doing is actually allowed.
. . .Last year, an (Mubarak's)NDP spokesman said that Egypt's
anti-terrorism laws would be "Western style," ... This was probably meant
as reassurance that the laws would be fair and democratic. ... Egypt ...
remains caught up in a vicious cycle. When a population is ruled by force
instead of reason and consensus, its keepers have cause to grow uneasy and,
therefore, an excuse to act more oppressively still.

Sue Lerner - Associate - IMRA


Subject: Poll: 51% Not pleased Olmert
76% wrong for Peretz to be DM

Poll: 51% Not pleased Olmert 76% wrong for Peretz to be DM
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date:28 April 2006

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 500 adult Israelis (including
Arab Israelis) carried out by Dahaf for Yediot Ahronot the week of 28 April
2006 (as Olmert coalition government still in formation).

Are you satisfied with the makeup that is developing for the government?
Yes 39% No 55%

Are you satisfied with the performance of Ehud Olmert during the process of
the formation of the government?
Yes 37% No 51%

Are you satisfied with the performance of Amir Peretz during the process of
the formation of the government?
Yes 30% No 63%

Is the good of the State one of the considerations of the people handling
the [coalition] negotiations?
Considerably yes 28% A little or not at all 69%

Is the appointment of Amir Peretz as minister of defense a correct move?
Yes 21% No 76%

Are you worried about the appointment of Amir Peretz as defense minister?
Yes 56% No 44%

How do you feel today about how you voted in the elections?
Satisfied 85% No satisfied 14%

Is it proper for the government to include 27 ministers?
Yes 20% No 76%

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730


Subject: Column One: Israel's new war

Column One: Israel's new war
Caroline Glick, THE JERUSALEM POST Apr. 28, 2006

The nature of the war being waged against Israel changed, perhaps
irreversibly, this week. Processes that have been developing for more than
four years came together this week and brought us to a very different
military-political reality than that which we have known until now.

The face of the enemy has changed. If in the past it was possible to say
that the war being waged against Israel was unique and distinct from the
global jihad, after the events of the past week, it is no longer possible to
credibly make such a claim. Four events that occurred this week - the
attacks in the Sinai; the release of Osama bin Laden's audiotape; the
release of Abu Musab Zarqawi's videotape; and the arrest of Hamas terrorists
by Jordan - all proved clearly that today it is impossible to separate the
wars. The new situation has critical consequences for the character of the
campaign that the IDF must fight to defend Israel and for the nature of the
policies that the incoming government of Israel must adopt and advance.

The two attacks in the Sinai were noteworthy for several reasons. First,
they were very different from one another. The first, which targeted
tourists in Dahab, was the familiar attack against a soft target that we
have become used to seeing in the Sinai over the past year and a half. The
attack against the Multinational Force Observers was more unique since it
only has one past precedent.

In an article published last October in the journal MERIA, Reuven Paz
explained that the al-Qaida strategist Abu Musab al-Suri supported the first
type of attack. His follower, Abu Muhammad Hilali, wrote last September that
in waging the jihad against the Egyptian regime there is no point in
attacking foreign forces or Egyptian forces because such attacks will lead
nowhere. He encouraged terrorists to attack soft targets like tourists and
foreign non-governmental organizations on the one hand, and strategic
targets like the Egyptian gas pipeline to Israel on the other. In both
cases, such attacks would achieve political objectives. Opposing Hilali's
view is Zarqawi's strategy. As one would expect from al-Qaida's commander in
Iraq, Zarqawi upholds attacks on foreign forces.

The foregoing analysis is not proof that two separate branches of al-Qaida
conducted the attacks. But the combination of approaches this week does lend
credence to the assessment that al-Qaida is now paying a great deal of
attention to Israel's neighborhood. And this is a highly significant

Until recently, Israel, like Jordan and Egypt, did not particularly interest
al-Qaida. When bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and his military
commander Saif al-Adel merged their terror organization, the Egyptian
Islamic Jihad, with al-Qaida, they adopted bin Laden's approach which
dictated suspending their previous war to overthrow the Egyptian regime and
concentrating on attacking America and its allies. In the same manner, when
the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi joined al-Qaida, he was compelled
to put his wish to overthrow the Hashemite regime to the side. Israel was
not on the agenda.

But today everything has changed. Israel, like Egypt and Jordan, is under
the gun. Bin Laden himself made this clear in his tape this week. By placing
Hamas under his protection, bin Laden made three moves at once. First, he
announced that the Palestinians are no longer independent actors. Second, he
defined the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority as a part of the liberated
Islamic lands where al-Qaida can feel at home. Third, he hitched a ride on
the Palestinian issue, which is more popular in the Islamic world than the
Iraq war, where al-Qaida is apparently on the road to defeat.

For his part, Zarqawi already announced his plan to go back to his old war
and work to topple the Hashemites (and destroy Israel) last November, after
he commanded the Amman hotel suicide bombings. Back then Zarqawi announced
that Jordan was but a stop on the road to the conquest of Jerusalem.

In his video this week, Zarqawi emphasized that the destruction of Israel
through the conquest of Jerusalem is one of his major goals. Both he and bin
Laden made clear that from their perspectives, the war against the US and
the war against Israel are the same war.

On the level of strategic theory, bin Laden and Zarqawi both expressed
al-Qaida's long-term strategy that Zawahiri laid out last year to Jordanian
journalist Fuad Hussein. Zawahiri explained then that there are seven stages
to the jihad before the establishment of the global caliphate. According to
Zawahiri, the global jihad began in 2000 and will end in 2020. Today we are
in the third stage, which includes the toppling of the regimes in Jordan,
Syria and Egypt and the targeting of Israel for destruction.

While al-Qaida today is setting its sights on Israel and its neighbors, the
arrests of Hamas terrorists this week in Jordan show that for their part,
the Palestinians are working to advance the global jihad. The Hamas attempt
to carry out attacks in Jordan points to a change in Hamas's
self-perception. They have gone from being local terrorists to being members
of the Islamist axis, which is led by Iran and includes Syria, al-Qaida and

A week after Zarqawi carried out the attacks in Amman last November, Iranian
Foreign Minister Manochehr Mottaki met with the heads of Hizbullah, Hamas,
Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP and DFLP-GC in Beirut. At the end of the summit,
Ahmed Jibril declared, "We all confirmed that what is going on in occupied
Palestine is organically connected to what is going on in Iraq, Syria, Iran,
and Lebanon."

A week later, Hizbullah launched its largest Katyusha rocket attack on
northern Israel since the IDF withdrew from south Lebanon in May 2000. Two
weeks later, Islamic Jihad carried out the suicide bombing outside the
shopping mall in Netanya. Shortly thereafter, Zarqawi's al-Qaida operatives
launched another barrage of Katyushas on northern Israel from Lebanon.
Similarly, on January 19, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted a
terror summit in Damascus attended by the same cast of characters. The same
day, Islamic Jihad carried out a suicide bombing in the old bus station in
Tel Aviv. And on April 18, the day before last week's suicide bombing in the
old bus station in Tel Aviv, Ahmadinejad presided over yet another terror
summit in Teheran with the same participants. And, again, shortly after the
summit, al-Qaida struck in the Sinai.

Zawahiri's seven stages of jihad go hand in hand with a 60-page text written
by Saif al-Adel sometime after the US invasion of Iraq. Adel deposited his
manuscript with the same Jordanian journalist last year. Adel, who has been
operating from Iran since the battle of Tora Bora in November 2001, is
reportedly Zarqawi's commander in Iraq and al-Qaida's senior liaison with
the Iranian regime.

In his manuscript he laid out al-Qaida's intentions for the third stage of
the jihad. He explained that the organization needed new bases and was
looking for a failed state or states to settle in. Darfur, Somalia, Lebanon
and Gaza were all identified as possible options.

As the American author and al-Qaida investigator Richard Miniter puts it,
"US forces together with the Kenyans and the Ethiopians have pretty much
prevented al-Qaida from basing in Somalia or Darfur. That left only Lebanon
with all its problems with its various political factions, overlords and the
UN. But then suddenly, like manna from Heaven, Israel simply gave them the
greatest gift al-Qaida ever received when Ariel Sharon decided to give them

Israel, he explains, provided al-Qaida with the best base it has ever had.
Not only is Gaza located in a strategically vital area - between the sea,
Egypt and Israel. It is also fairly immune from attack since the Kadima
government will be unwilling to reconquer the area.

Moreover, as was the case with Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Gamaa Islamiyya
terrorists who merged with al-Qaida in the 1990s, the Palestinians today
constitute an ideal population for al-Qaida. They already support jihad.
They have vast experience in fighting. And if it only took Hamas two weeks
in office to get all the other terror groups - from Fatah to the Popular
Resistance Committees to the Popular Front - to pledge allegiance to it last
week, Hamas's co-optation by al-Qaida shouldn't be very difficult.

Al-Qaida today is building its presence in Gaza, Judea and Samaria
gradually. It drafts Palestinian terrorists to its ranks and provides them
with ideological indoctrination and military training. In November, for
instance, a terror recruiter in Jordan who had drafted two terrorists from
the Nablus area to al-Qaida's ranks and instructed them to recruit others,
informed them that he intended to send a military trainer from Gaza to train
them. The two, who were arrested in December, had planned to carry out a
double suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

Last May, the first terror cell in Gaza announced its association with
al-Qaida. When Ra'anan Gissin, then prime minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman,
was asked to comment on the development by a foreign reporter, he presented
the government's position on the issue as follows: "There is some evidence
of links between militants in Gaza and al-Qaida. but for us, local terrorist
groups are just as dangerous."

On the face of it, Gissin's arrogance seems appropriate. After all, what do
we care who sends the bombers into our cafes and buses? But things don't
work that way.

As the attacks in Egypt, the arrests in Jordan and the bin Laden and Zarqawi
messages this week all indicated, we find ourselves today in a world war.
The Palestinians are no longer the ones waging the war against us. The
Islamist axis now wages the war against us through the Palestinians. The
center of gravity, like the campaign rationale of the enemy, has moved away.
Today, the decision-makers who determine the character and timing of the
terror offensives are not sitting in Gaza and or Judea and Samaria. They are
sitting in Teheran, Waziristan, Damascus, Beirut, Amman and Fallujah. The
considerations that guide those that order the trigger pulled are not local
considerations, but regional considerations at best and considerations
wholly cut off from local events at worst.

This new state of affairs demands a change in the way all of Israel's
security arms understand and fight this war. The entire process of
intelligence gathering for the purpose of uncovering and preventing planned
terror attacks needs to be reconsidered.

A reconfiguration of political and diplomatic strategies is also required.
Talk of a separation barrier and final borders, not to mention the
abandonment of Judea and Samaria to Hamas sound hallucinatory when standing
against us are Zarqawi who specializes in chemical and biological warfare;
bin Laden who specializes in blowing up airplanes; and Iran that threatens a
nuclear Holocaust.

Who can cause Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz, Tzipi Livni and Yuli Tamir to take
the steps required to protect Israel from the reality exposed by the events
of this past week?


Subject: Chinese-Saudi Cooperation: Oil but also Missiles

Chinese-Saudi Cooperation: Oil but also Missiles
By Simon Henderson April 21, 2006
PolicyWatch #1095 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy � 1828 L
Street NW Suite 1050 Washington DC 20036

On April 22, two days after a reportedly unproductive meeting with President
George W. Bush in Washington, President Hu Jintao of China will arrive in
Saudi Arabia. Relations between the two countries are an increasingly
important part of world diplomacy. In energy, China is the leading customer
of Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter. On the military front,
the kingdom bought now-obsolete ballistic missiles with a 1,500-mile range
from China in the 1980s; the Saudis are reportedly interested in replacing
them with more modern Chinese-designed missiles, perhaps with Pakistani
nuclear warheads.

Unlike his American visit, Hu's trip to the kingdom will unambiguously be
given the status of a state visit. It is especially significant because King
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia visited China as recently as January this year, the
first visit by a Saudi monarch since diplomatic relations were established
in 1990 and Abdullah's first trip outside the Middle East since becoming
monarch last August. During the January meeting, five agreements covering
economic cooperation trade and double taxation as well as an energy pact
were signed. Energy is expected to be central to the latest talks, though a
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman noted it was "not the only domain" of

Surging Oil Demand

Chinese oil demand has been rising at an astonishing rate-year-on-year
increases have recently averaged more than one million barrels per day,
about 40 percent of the world's increased demand-and has been a major
influence on the record high international prices for oil. Although an
important producer in its own right, China has been a net importer of
petroleum since 1996. In 2004, it overtook Japan to become the world's
second largest consumer of oil after the United States.

Analysts predict that China's share of world oil consumption could double to
14 percent over the next decade. (Currently, the United States consumes 25
percent of the world's oil production.) Small wonder that Saudi Arabia, as
the world's largest oil exporter, wants to nurture China as a customer,
especially because Asian markets are closer to the Persian Gulf than are
Europe or the United States. Saudi Arabia currently supplies China with
about 450,000 barrels per day.

Washington has watched the trend of Chinese oil demand with growing concern.
Besides seeking to strengthen links with Saudi Arabia, Chinese companies
have acquired oil concessions in Canada, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan,
Sudan, Indonesia, Iraq, and Iran. Last year, an attempt to buy the American
oil company Unocal, which has exploration rights overseas, was blocked by
congressional opposition. (The company was bought by Chevron for $17.3
billion even though the China National Offshore Oil Corporation had offered
at least $1 billion more.) Chinese energy interests in Sudan and Iran are
assumed to be factors in Beijing's refusal to vote in the UN Security
Council for sanctions over Sudan's actions in Darfur and against the Iranian
nuclear program.


Washington can derive some comfort from apparent hiccups in Chinese-Saudi
relationship. No energy deals were signed during King Abdullah's January
visit to China. Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that
agreements on projects would have to be signed by the two countries' oil
companies. Industry experts say that differences on shouldering the
financial risk are complicating the joint venture modernization of a
refinery in Quanzhou, which is being expanded to a capacity of 240,000
barrels per day, and a proposed 200,000 barrels per day refinery at Qingdao.
In China, retail prices for petroleum products are tightly regulated by the
government; Beijing reportedly does not want to share the financial risk
with the Saudi side. Additionally, the Saudis were apparently upset in
January that King Abdullah was welcomed by the Chinese foreign minister
rather than President Hu himself. It will be interesting to note whether
King Abdullah is at the airport on April 22 when Hu arrives.

Nuclear Worries

A major concern for Washington is that Riyadh is thought to be considering
creating a deterrent against Iran by acquiring from Pakistan both
Chinese-designed missiles and dual-key Pakistani nuclear warheads. Under
such a dual-key system, Pakistanis would have the key that controls the
warheads while Saudis would have the key that controls the missiles on which
the warheads sit. Such a stratagem, used by the United States and Germany
during the Cold War, does not breach the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
and perhaps evades Chinese international obligations against the transfer of
ballistic missiles, but would seriously undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts to
block Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. Saudi Arabia's current
arsenal of Chinese CSS-2 missiles, capable of reaching both Tel Aviv and
Tehran, were originally designed to carry nuclear warheads, but Riyadh
maintains they carry only high explosive. King Abdullah visited Pakistan in
February, on his way back from China. And Crown Prince Sultan, Abdullah's
heir apparent as well as Saudi defense minister, was in Pakistan earlier in
April. On Sultan's previous visit in 1999, he went to Pakistan's
controversial and unsafeguarded Kahuta uranium enrichment and missile
production center, where he was shown round by the then director, the now
disgraced nuclear proliferator A.Q. Khan. That excursion by Sultan prompted
a formal U.S. diplomatic protest to Riyadh.

Reports from the Bush-Hu meeting suggest that China has a firm view of its
own interests and, despite appreciating that its relationship with
Washington is very important, Beijing has little willingness to compromise
even at the cost of allowing problems to mount. Since 2001, Saudi Arabia's
determination to see its national security interests more independently of
the United States has also become clear. For months, Riyadh has been
signaling its disagreements with Washington over policy in Iraq, Iran, and
the Palestinian Authority. It could well judge that the likely American
wrath resulting from acquiring nuclear-armed missiles with the connivance of
China and Pakistan is bearable.

U.S. Policy

Apart from continuing to remind Riyadh and Beijing of the need to maintain a
common international front against the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran,
Washington's diplomatic options appear to be few. Despite differences on
commercial details (and irritating Saudi support for China's Muslim
minority), Beijing and Riyadh seem determined to develop a close political
relationship. Competition for oil supplies between the United States and
China seems set to rise, a concern that should give impetus to President
Bush's aim, announced in his 2006 State of the Union address, to halt the
country's "addiction" to oil. The lack of progress in the Bush-Hu talks
suggests a lack of diplomatic preparation. The flurry of recent
Saudi-Chinese and Saudi-Pakistani meetings could mean that deals to America's
detriment are close to being finalized.
Simon Henderson is the London-based Baker senior fellow of the Washington
Institute and author, with Patrick Clawson, of the 2005 Policy Focus
Reducing Vulnerability to Middle East Energy Shocks: A Key Element in
Strengthening U.S. Energy Security.


Subject: Poll puzzle: Why are 85% satisfied how they voted when
51% Not pleased Olmert 76% wrong for Peretz to be DM?

Poll puzzle: Why are 85% satisfied how they voted when 51% Not pleased
Olmert 76% wrong for Peretz to be DM?
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date:29 April 2006

The Dahaf poll represented below found that while 85% of respondents were
satisfied with how they voted yet were considerably less happy about how
things are being handled.

A few observations are in order:

1. 85% are "satisfied" how they voted - but only 63% of qualified voters
actually voted. Even if one takes into account the high estimate that 10%
of the people listed as qualified voters actually live overseas, that comes
to 70% of qualified voters residing in Israel voted. So we have a results
that 15% of the people who are satisfied how they voted are actually
satisfied that they didn't vote.

2. Of the 3,186,738 who did vote, 690,901 voted for Kadima (15.2%)

Are the 85% "satisfied" that they voted, did not vote, voted for Kadima or
voted against Kadima or what?

Or, alternatively, how many of those same 85% of the people who said that
they were satisfied how they voted and voted for Kadima and Labor (combined
total 25.6%) or for other parties aren't actually jumping with joy about
what they did but, as a matter of pride, won't admit to a pollster that they
are starting to regret how they voted?

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 500 adult Israelis (including
Arab Israelis) carried out by Dahaf for Yediot Ahronot the week of 28 April
2006 (as Olmert coalition government still in formation).

Are you satisfied with the makeup that is developing for the government?
Yes 39% No 55%

Are you satisfied with the performance of Ehud Olmert during the process of
the formation of the government?
Yes 37% No 51%

Are you satisfied with the performance of Amir Peretz during the process of
the formation of the government?
Yes 30% No 63%

Is the good of the State one of the considerations of the people handling
the [coalition] negotiations?
Considerably yes 28% A little or not at all 69%

Is the appointment of Amir Peretz as minister of defense a correct move?
Yes 21% No 76%

Are you worried about the appointment of Amir Peretz as defense minister?
Yes 56% No 44%

How do you feel today about how you voted in the elections?
Satisfied 85% No satisfied 14%

Is it proper for the government to include 27 ministers?
Yes 20% No 76%

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730


Subject: Excerpts: Arab-Muslim support?Militant Islam 29 April 2006

Excerpts: Arab-Muslim support?Militant Islam 29 April 2006

+++ARAB NEWS (Saudi) 29 April '06:"Editorial: Funding for Palestine"
"funds ...sent have amounted to almost nothing"
"Arabs and Muslim governments ...insufficient giving"
"World Bank to take over for paying Palestinian saleries is a dimunition
of Palestinian sovreignty"

A couple of months ago ... Hamas boldly predicted that it would find the
money elsewhere. ... whatever funds may have been sent have amounted to
almost nothing. The Palestinian state is now in precisely the crisis that
President Mahmoud Abbas predicted. Some 165,000 Palestinian
government-employees have not been paid salaries for weeks and have to beg
and borrow to survive.
the Palestinian Authority is the largest employer in the West Bank and
Gaza - cannot pay their bills ...The economy is in dire straits.
Doubtless there will be many Arabs, Muslims and friends of the Palestinians
incandescent with rage at the notion that the Americans and Europeans should
be able to "blackmail" the Hamas government. But far more appalling is that
the Palestinian Authority should have become so totally dependent on Western
aid. ...The lesson that the Palestinians need to take from this disaster is
...They cannot allow themselves to ever again slide into a state of
neocolonial economic dependency on the US and EU. It is bad politics and it
is bad economics. ...Arabs and Muslim governments are also complicit in this
disaster. Their insufficient giving is what has forced the Palestinians into
near absolute dependence on Western aid. Moral support is all very well, but
it does not pay salaries or feed mouths.
....The French president's proposal for the World Bank to take over
responsibility for paying Palestinian salaries is a diminution of
Palestinian sovereignty ... .
The onus is on Arab and Muslim governments. .... Palestinians... will not
easily forgive a lack of Arab and Muslim action at this desperate time.

+++THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon) 29 April '06:With God on their side, Islamists
don't often compromise" by David Ignatius, Daily Star staff

"For a theocratic regime that claims a mandate from God, the very idea of
compromise is

" The same blockage is evident in other conflicts with Muslim groups"

"The West has placed its hopes on maturation of radical Islamic groups ...
there is little evidence to support
this hope."


It's a truism that all conflicts end eventually. But how do you resolve a
confrontation with an adversary that appears unable or unwilling to
negotiate a settlement? That's a common problem that runs through the West's
battles with militant Islam.
The most pressing instance is Iran's drive to become a nuclear power. ...
it wasn't really a negotiation at all. "The EU talked, and the Iranians
responded, but they never came back with counterproposals because they could
not agree on anything."
French analysts believe the Iranians displayed a similar refusal to
negotiate during their long and bloody war with Iraq in the 1980s. The
exhausted Iraqis made efforts to seek a negotiated peace, but the Iranians
rejected their feelers. ...t there was never a formal peace treaty and the
Iranians dragged their feet even on the exchange of prisoners.
The latest example of Iran's diplo-phobia was a statement this week by
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissing the U.S.-Iran talks over Iraq ... .
... For a theocratic regime that claims a mandate from God, the very idea of
compromise is anathema. Great issues of war and peace will be resolved by
God's will, not by human negotiators. Better to lose than to bargain with
the devil. Better to suffer physical hardship than humiliation.
This same blockage is evident in other conflicts with Muslim groups. Al-
Qaeda doesn't seek negotiations or a political settlement, nor should the
West imagine it could reach one with a group that demands that America and
its allies withdraw altogether from the Muslim world. The closest Osama bin
Laden has come to a political demarche was his January 19, 2006, offer of "a
long-term truce based on fair conditions," which weren't specified. His
deeper message was that Al-Qaeda would wait it out - waging a long war of
attrition ... adversaries would eventually grow tired and capitulate. ... .
The West has placed its hopes on political maturation of radical Muslim
groups, figuring that as they assume responsibility, they will grow
accustomed to the compromises that are essential to political life. But so
far, there is little evidence to support this hope. The Hamas government
appears to have nothing it wants to negotiate with Israel. Indeed, it still
refuses to recognize formally the existence of its adversary. In Lebanon,
Hizbullah has agreed to little compromises since it joined the Lebanese
government, but not big ones.
A word that recurs in radical Muslim proclamations is "dignity" ...
unyielding Yasser Arafat remained popular among Palestinians, despite his
failure to deliver concrete benefits. He was a symbol of pride and
resistance. Hamas, too, gains support because of its rigid steadfastness,
The Muslim demand for respect isn't something that can be negotiated ... .

Sue Lerner - Associate - IMRA


Subject: Israel and Nuclear Suppliers
Group discuss nuclear exports control

Israel and Nuclear Suppliers Group discuss nuclear exports control
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman's Office)

Representatives of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) visited Israel today
(Thursday, April 27, 2006) and discussed issues of nuclear export controls,
a continuation to a previous meeting that took place on March 15, 2005.

The NSG delegation was headed by its chairman, Ambassador Roald Naess of

The NSG representatives met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and ministry
officials, and also held discussions with officials of the Ministry of
Industry, Trade, and Labor and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission.

The Israeli officials presented the country's policy and activities related
to nuclear non-proliferation and export controls, while the NSG
representatives briefed them on NSG decisions, current activities, and
discussions. Ideas on ways to enhance the ongoing dialogue between Israel
and the NSG were also discussed.

Minister Livni told the delegation that Israel shares the objectives and
priorities of the NSG and is a reliable partner in confronting nuclear
proliferation. She expressed the hope that the dialogue would soon be
translated into a stronger partnership that facilitates these common


Subject: Has the Saudi Kingdom Reformed? [Not really]

Has the Saudi Kingdom Reformed?
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2006

On February 14, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King
Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman al-Saud on board the USS Quincy, anchored in the
Great Bitter Lake along the Suez Canal in Egypt. The summit cemented a
lengthy and, in recent years, often fractious relationship. Over the
subsequent six decades, U.S.-Saudi relations have been multifaceted and
complex, and often tense. In the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks and the
revelations that fifteen out of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi nationals,
both Washington's ties with Riyadh and the kingdom's support for radical
Islam have come under increased scrutiny. On December 1, 2005, Patrick
Clawson, senior editor at the Middle East Quarterly and deputy director for
research at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, convened a
roundtable to discuss the current state of U.S.-Saudi relations. Joining him
were Thomas Lippman, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute; Ali
Alyami, founder of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi
Arabia; Simon Henderson, a Washington Institute senior fellow and
London-based specialist in Saudi politics; and Amr Hamzawy, a senior
associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Are U.S.-Saudi Relations Solid?

Middle East Quarterly: How solid is the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and what
interests do the two countries have in common?

Thomas Lippman: The relationship is solid in a bilateral sense in which you
have two governments that have found various issues on which they can work
together and come to an agreement. It is not and should not be the kind of
relationship that we have had in the past in Saudi Arabia, one essentially
of the U.S. as tutor and Saudi Arabia as student. Saudi Arabia is a more
mature country now. The damage that was done by 9-11 has largely been
repaired in the government-to-government relationship; the relationship
between the American people and the Saudi people has suffered what may be
permanent damage.

Ali Alyami: The Saudi and U.S. relationship has not been a solid
relationship. It has been premised on an artificial basis, not on shared
values. It's a relationship based on a family that represents the
government, a government that represses democratic society. The relationship
has been based on the wrong issues. The Saudi government-or should I say the
ruling family-today, more than at any time in the past, represents perhaps
the single biggest danger in the Middle East.

MEQ: Does the U.S. government share your viewpoint?

Alyami: Some in it agree with me; others express the same views as does Tom

Simon Henderson: It's a strong relationship but it has suffered because of
9-11. To an extent, it's been repaired since then, but it has changed.
Before 9-11, it was based on a strategic security relationship with a great
understanding that this was mutually beneficial to both sides. It's still
based on oil in the past four years, but the military security relationship
has declined, as has the sense of a mutual understanding.

Amr Hamzawy: I basically agree with Simon Henderson but would add that there
are areas of convergence and divergence in the U.S.-Saudi relationship. This
became clearer after 9-11. What we are really seeing now in Saudi-U.S.
relations is the crystallization of some areas where interests and
perceptions intersect and others where they do not. The Israeli-Palestinian
issue and oil are clear cases of convergence. Perceptions, interests,
rhetoric, political reform-even the framework of political reform as
understood in Washington as compared to Riyadh-are clear areas of
divergence. Despite these areas of divergence, the relationship remains very
pragmatic. It will hardly lead to open conflict. So, tensions exist but not

MEQ: Several people identified 9-11 as extremely important in shaping the
relationship. How effectively do you think the Saudi government is
countering those in the kingdom who would finance such Islamist terrorism

Lippman: There is no doubt that King Abdullah and his closest advisers
realize that Islamist or jihadist violence is inimical to their interests.
This is affirmed by the appointment of Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul
Aziz, the most outspoken proponent of all-out war against the violent
extremists, to direct the National Security Council. Commitment to
eradicating extremism is not the same as being fully effective, though,
either at home or internationally. There is still much work to be done.
Senior Bush administration officials have repeatedly testified before
Congress on how the Saudis can be more effective on issues such as control
of finance.

Henderson: But the Saudi government is more than King Abdullah and his
closest advisors. While the king brought his closest advisors with him when
he formally assumed the throne in August 2005, he shares leadership with
other senior princes. There is no consensus on who is in this most
influential group, but certainly Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and
Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz are among them. Other senior
royal family members also have influence. Just as Abdullah never had full
authority while still crown prince and acting head of state, he has not
consolidated full control today. When talking about Saudi Arabia, deciding
who controls the levers of power is always a problem.

Alyami: Too many Western officials and commentators say that the Saudi
government is an ally in the fight against terrorism. Do not forget that the
Saudi regime and the terrorists share many goals. In Iraq, neither the Saudi
government nor Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi want democracy. They
jointly fear Iranian influence. They oppose stability in Iraq. Riyadh does
not want a thriving, oil-producing Iraq on its border. Tom Lippman said that
the Saudi government is fighting terrorism; yes, it fights terrorism inside
its borders because domestic terrorism threatens the royal family. But
outside the kingdom is another matter.

MEQ: What are the Saudi government's attitudes towards those in Saudi Arabia
who fund Islamist terrorists groups such as those that struck at the World
Trade Center and the London transportation system?

Alyami: The Saudi government attitude is permissive to the people and
institutions such as Muslim youth organizations that supported these
terrorists. Since the dynasty's founding in 1744, Wahhabi extremists have
supported the Saud family. The Saudi royal family has no legitimacy beyond
the support of these extremists. The Saudi royal family is neither
democratic nor interested in sharing power. Terrorism can threaten the House
of Saud, but it can also serve its interests. I am from Saudi Arabia, and I
know the system. I am a victim of this brutal system. If there is not
complete transformation of Saudi Arabia-not only politics but also culture,
religion, and education-then Islamic extremists will bring the United States
down. I agree with President Bush: we must confront the ideology. The Saudis
will indeed fight the terrorism inside Saudi Arabia but, I repeat, outside
Saudi Arabia is another story.

Henderson: The Saudis have become more effective in countering those inside
the kingdom who finance Islamist terrorism abroad. Deputy Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury Daniel Glaser testified to this issue in November
2005.[1] Despite the improved cooperation, he did imply there was much more
that the Saudis could do.

Who Controls Saudi Arabia?

Hamzawy: I agree with part of what Ali Alyami said. The Saudi establishment
considers the Islamist splinter groups, which are scattered across Saudi
Arabia, to be a security threat. They are beginning to see Islamism as a
political threat as well. The need to combat terrorism has motivated all
recent reform, including holding municipal elections.

I disagree with Ali that the Saudi establishment wishes to radicalize the
region. Instability in Iraq undermines Saudi national interests. The Saudi
royal family knows that it is hard to control radicalization once it takes
root. The 1990s' radicalism in Algeria and Egypt that swept the region
scared the family.

How effective has the Saudi government been in tackling Islamism at home?
Two of its strategies are effective and one less so. Prince Naif has
implemented a strategy of securitization. I went to Saudi Arabia in June
2005 and found the number of policemen on the street striking. A
militarization of daily life has taken place, and it is proving to be an
effective strategy. Over the past two years, Saudi security services have
caught and arrested terrorists.

The Saudi establishment has also been effective at outreach to the outer
edges of the Islamist spectrum. They have won back, not members of splinter
groups, but some of their sympathizers. They have regained control over some
segments of the Islamist spectrum.

Less effective has been the Saudi royal family's efforts to use religious
discourse to combat radical Islamists. The Saudi royal family has not won
the cooperation of the Wahhabi establishment. A core group of the Wahhabi
establishment may be receptive to the royal family's message, but the broad
base of the religious establishment is ambivalent when it comes to combating
the discourse of Islamism in public.

Alyami: It is important to judge people by what they do as opposed to what
they say. The Saudi royal family, especially Prince Naif, worked hard to
dismiss a reformist minister of education and to replace him with Abdullah
bin Salih Obeid, the former head of the World Muslim League.[2] Obeid is
among the most hard-line Wahhabis in the country. And he runs the education
system in Saudi Arabia today! How can they be confronting these extremists
when they place one of the most reactionary men in charge of educational

Given a choice between religious extremists and reformers, the Saudi royal
family will imprison the reformers and give amnesty to the extremists.
Abdullah has done this three times in the last two years. He put Matruk
al-Faleh, Turki al-Hammad, Ali al-Domani, and hundreds of other reformers in
prison, stopped them from leaving the country, or cut off their media
access. The government, then, gave amnesty to people incarcerated for
inciting murder or conspiracy to murder. Anybody who says the Saudi royal
family is stupid is himself stupid. The Saudi leaders are clever; they are
desert foxes. What they do and what they say are very different things.

Lippman: To some extent I agree. It is always possible to pick out issues
such as the appointment of Obeid as minister of education. From the time of
King Faisal, who ruled from 1964 to 1975, it has always been three steps
forward and 2.8 or 3.2 steps back. A statesman like Ghazi al-Gosaibi serves
as minister of labor, and every day he kicks open doors for women and others
who were previously disenfranchised from working. Saudi Arabia is not a
static society. Domestic tendencies and trends are felt in different ways.
While there is no system in place for such trends to be reflected in the
ballot box, society is changing in other ways. There are too many educated
women coming into the work force and into society now for it to remain
static. Saudi Arabia now is certainly different from what it was when I
first visited it thirty years ago.

Henderson: Surely, Tom, we cannot confuse openings for women and the
appointment of a certifiable Wahhabi education minister three years after
9-11. Especially when almost all analysts and officials agree that the
obscurantist nature of the Saudi education system contributed to the

Lippman: You are absolutely correct about the negative impact of the
education appointment, especially since the ministry now controls both
girls' and boys' education.

Hamzawy: Simon Henderson is correct that there are different trends within
the royal family. The religious establishment is a key player and is
wealthy. It cannot be controlled, even by the royal family. The religious
establishment controls three vital spheres of Saudi society: education,
preaching, and the judiciary. It is not a monolith, though. Within the
religious establishment, there are different tendencies. A core group is
receptive to the wishes of the king. Another group has been less receptive.
This group was associated throughout the 1980s and 1990s with the so-called
Sahwa Islamiya (Islamic Awakening), which still adheres to an Islamist
discourse, even if they were less militant than Al-Qaeda.

There are two general groups of reformers on the Saudi scene, and both are
relatively small. The first are the so-called liberals such as Matruk
al-Faleh, Ali al-Domani, as well as some university professors, and civil
society, human rights, and women activists. The second are the liberal or
moderate Islamists. Again, these groups are not monolithic. There are
degrees of convergence and divergence within the reform camp.

Another force is small but a threat to national security: the splinter
groups of Islamists operating across the kingdom.

The power balance among these groups is the best way to gauge how effective
the government is in terms of ideology and reform.

MEQ: How does this play out with regard to education?

Hamzawy: While Wahhabism is the defining reality of Saudi Arabia, it is
important to look for gray zones. The question is whether there are moderate
trends within the Wahhabi establishment and whether these can lead to
reform. There is not always forward progress.

There has been less moderation in the last year. Between 2001 and 2003,
there was greater moderation within the educational system and universities.
There were fewer attempts to ban professors and fewer restrictions than
there are now. In the last year, and especially the last few months, there
has been a shift back to less moderation.

MEQ: Why?

Hamzawy: I asked this same question of Saudi intellectuals in June and July
2005 when I was in the kingdom. They enunciated two basic reasons. One is
that the Bush administration is not pressing the Saudi royal family enough,
and the second is that the royal family went through a period of turbulence
after 9-11. For perhaps two years, it was willing to do a bit more than its
normal inclination. As the pressure abated, it shifted back to less
moderation in the education and preaching spheres.

MEQ: Is King Abdullah a reformer?

Lippman: There is a tendency in the United States to think of King Abdullah
as a reformer who, as crown prince, was chomping at the bit to implement
liberalizing change in Saudi Arabia. I never believed that. He is some 80
years old. He's been part of the tiny ruling elite of Saudi Arabia all his
life. He is not bursting out of the gate to make major changes in the Saudi
power structure.

Alyami: Abdullah is no reformer. Abdullah was marginalized throughout his
life by his father the king, by the Sudairi full-brothers, and by prior
kings, including the late King Fahd, with whom he shared the same mother. He
became crown prince only because King Fahd felt badly for him. The royal
family agreed to this because it assumed Abdullah would die before Fahd. God
made a liar out of them, for Fahd died before Abdullah. The royal family did
not want Abdullah as king but he threatened them with the National Guard.

There is no accountability in Saudi Arabia. There is no transparency.
Anybody can pay to kill another person. There is the hawala [religious
financial] system, which the Saudis use quite a bit, that leaves no paper
trail. The judicial system is broken and needs urgently to be changed. The
Saudi people are fed up. Power lies in the hands of Abdullah, Sultan, Naif,
Majid, Khalid bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz [governor of Asir province], perhaps
Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz [governor of the Eastern Province], and a
few others here and there.

King Abdullah has not implemented a single recommendation suggested by the
national dialogues [high-profile conferences he organized to gather
suggestions from a wide range of commoners]. He takes orders from those
around him. He is one absolute monarch out of many absolutes. This is the
reality of Saudi Arabia.

MEQ: What about the religious establishment?

Alyami: Amr Hamzawy is right that reform is in retreat. The House of Saud is
the real establishment; the religious institution is only as powerful as the
House of Saud allows it to be. The Saudi government plays the religious
people against each other, and it also plays the religious establishment
against liberals. If the Saudi royal family wanted to muzzle the religious
establishment, it could. It has used the mufti to issue fatwas [religious
rulings] against [Libyan leader Mu'ammar] Qadhafi and against [former Iraqi
dictator] Saddam Hussein.

The royal family can silence people but does not silence the clergy because
the alternative is liberalization, which is not in its interest. It feels
safer with all the problems and threats of the religious establishment than
with democratization, for democratizing means sharing power and becoming

MEQ: And terrorism?

Alyami: The hatred the religious establishment preaches against Christians,
Jews, Shi'ite Muslims, and all non-Wahhabi Muslims is huge. Without reform,
there will be no end to the hate in Saudi mosques, and terrorism will

MEQ: Washington has praised reform efforts in Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait.
What is Riyadh's attitude toward its neighbors' reforms? How do Saudis see
U.S. policy to promote democratic reform in the Middle East?

Hamzawy: The Saudi situation is far more complicated than its neighbors'.
Saudi Arabia is a [Persian] Gulf superpower. Other [Persian] Gulf countries
depend on Saudi Arabia.

Throughout recent years, the Saudi government minimized reforms through
various strategies. As Simon Henderson said, it uses oil. It also uses the
fear that democratization could lead to the kingdom's takeover by jihadists.
More recently, the Saudis have also exploited Western and primarily U.S.
fears of the aftermath of the ouster of Saddam Hussein to urge Washington to
consider other democracy promotion projects more carefully.

Accordingly, the U.S. government might consider reaching out directly to
civil society institutions, to groups promoting democratic change, and to
the Saudi people themselves.

Henderson: The Americans should encourage civil society and advocate
democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia. Washington should also be tougher with
regards to human rights abuses. The kingdom's record is appalling; innocent
people are thrown in jail and tortured.

Saudi Foreign Policy

MEQ: Turning to foreign affairs: how helpful is Saudi influence to
Washington on regional issues such as stabilizing Iraq, pressing Syria to
end its interference in Lebanon, promoting Israeli-Arab peace, and
responding to the Iranian nuclear challenge? Are these issues on which the
U.S. and Saudi governments can work together?

Henderson: A schizophrenia exists in Saudi foreign policy. Anyone who
listens to Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal would think U.S.-Saudi interests
converge. But look at the history of Saudi foreign policy during the 1980s
and 1990s: despite being a close ally of the United States, the kingdom
exported its firebrands to Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya. Islamists
almost triumphed in Algeria not because the Saudi government was encouraging
Islamist government directly but because Saudi interests promoted the
Islamists. There is a strong Islamist element to Saudi foreign policy that
often goes unrecognized.

MEQ: But for a long time during the Cold War, wasn't the U.S.-Saudi alliance
based on common interests against the Soviet Union and communism? The U.S.
government worked with the Saudis in the 1950s and 1960s against Nasserism;
there was bilateral cooperation in the 1980s in Afghanistan.

Henderson: U.S. and Saudi interests converged in Afghanistan. They did not
in Bosnia.

MEQ: Those interests converged for three decades of the Cold War.

Henderson: They did not converge in Algeria, Bosnia, or Chechnya.

MEQ: All those are post-Cold War examples.

Henderson: Washington did not necessarily recognize post-Cold War that
U.S.-Saudi interests had diverged. The Saudis may not have a long-term
interest in a stable Iraq. They will not, of course, say this publicly.

MEQ: What about Saudi policy toward Syria and the Arab-Israeli peace

Henderson: Abdullah has a sense of kinship with the Assads. Saudi
involvement in Arab-Israeli peace negotiations was more a way of placating
Washington. The Saudis are politically correct enough not to speak publicly
against Arab-Israeli peace; they go along with the peace process. They get
brownie points in Washington for meeting Jewish groups, for pushing the
Palestinians in certain directions, funding Palestinian peace diplomacy, and
things like this.

Hamzawy: Simon over-Orientalizes Saudi Arabia. Sometimes he suggests it's
religion, other times kinship. I disagree. Yes, Wahhabi Islam is a defining
factor for the Saudi royal family and the Saudi establishment. In the 1960s,
a power struggle took place between Nasserism and Saudi traditionalism. This
was not a power struggle over the soul of the Arab world; it was a struggle
over who would be the region's power center at a time of shifting regional
and international alliances. The Saudis often used religion to counter other
ideologies, always, however, based on clear political calculations. They
used religion in Afghanistan, with the blessing of Washington, I might add.
In the post-Cold War era, the Saudis used religion to promote what they
perceive as being Saudi national interests. At the end of the day, what is
structuring the reality of Saudi foreign policy is the preservation of the
Saudi royal family's power. It's not religion, or kinship, or ideology. It's
simply preservation of power. That is the story of Saudi Middle East policy.

Lippman: Absolutely correct, and the historical record supports that
assessment. Look at some of the most critical external decisions Saudi
Arabia has made over the past forty or fifty years: self-preservation is the
first rule of the House of Saud. Likewise, the civil war in Yemen back in
the 1960s was about preservation, not religion. In OPEC [the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries], the Saudis cooperated with the most radical
Arab regimes with which they had nothing in common politically or
spiritually. The same rationale impelled them to make the mistake of
allowing 500,000 Americans to enter the country for Operation Desert Shield
[in 1990]. Abdullah's 2002 peace initiative on Israel was pragmatic and a
sign of a generally non-ideological foreign policy.

MEQ: What does this mean about the issues and concerns to the United States
in regional politics?

Hamzawy: Just as Tom Lippman said, I see pragmatism as key; preserving Saudi
royal family power leads to convergence on regional issues. But I disagree
with Simon Henderson concerning Iraq: the Saudi royal family has an interest
in a stable Iraq but not necessarily a democratic Iraq. It is not against
Iraqi democracy, but it will not invest much to help that flourish. It has a
prescription to stabilize Iraq, which is to integrate, not exclude the Sunni
Arabs. Do not divide the country. That is pragmatism. The Saudi royal family
agrees with Cairo, with Damascus, more or less, and also somewhat with

MEQ: And the Arab-Israeli conflict?

Hamzawy: The Abdullah plan was a pragmatic effort to gain momentum and
establish Saudi Arabia at the forefront of regional leaders. Abdullah
intended to push Egypt and Jordan back a little and portray Saudi Arabia as
an influential regional power. The Saudis would love to see the Palestinian
issue solved because it is exploited by radicals and militants. A solution
to it rids the Saudis, in terms of ideology and discourse, of a central
factor to bin Ladenism. Saudi foreign policy is designed to preserve power
and minimize threats. It has very little to do with religion and hardly
anything to do with exporting Wahhabism.

Alyami: The House of Saud's only agenda is to stay in power. It will do
whatever it takes: kill, murder, incarcerate, destroy. The Saudis have no
interest in stabilizing Iraq. I disagree with the idea that it is
indifferent to a democratic Iraq. The Saudis hate two things: Shi'ite
empowerment and a democracy on their border. They will do whatever it takes
to ensure neither happens.

The Saudi government would like to see the United States stay in Iraq for
sixty years. In part, it does not want Washington even to consider invading
another Arab country, so getting the U.S. nose rubbed in the mud suits its
purposes. Also, a U.S. occupation in Iraq can be just as useful a symbol if
the U.S. military gets bogged down in the country.

In Syria, the Saudis have mixed interests. Because the 'Alawites who control
Syria are an offshoot of Shi'ism, they fear the Assad regime's outreach to
Iran and the Shi'ite government in Iraq. On the other hand, the Saudis fear
the alternatives to the Assad dynasty, and fear that chaos in Syria may
undercut Lebanon.

Abdullah's Arab-Israeli peace plan was tactically wise. He knew that the
Israelis could not accept it because it called for Israel to return all land
occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem. The Saudi royal family wants
sway over East Jerusalem to add to [their patronage of] Mecca and Medina.
Then they will be custodian of three holy places instead of two and will
increase their stature accordingly. The Saudi government has no interest in
seeing Palestinian-Israeli peace, especially if that results in a democratic
Palestine. The Saudis are the greatest financial patrons of Hamas and of
Al-Aqsa Brigades and other groups. If Israel and the Arabs make peace and
democratization proceeds, the Saudi royal family will lose its power.

What really bothers me about all these discussions is that the Saudi people
are never considered. We talk about the women in Saudi Arabia today as if we
are talking about women's situations 500, 600 years ago, and then people say
there are openings for women, there are openings for religious
minorities-but it's still a country ruled by four or five old men who still
do not recognize half of their society as human beings.

Henderson: I always regarded Abdullah's peace plan as a Saudi public
relations attempt to deflect attention from Saudi Arabia's indirect role in

The Oil Factor

MEQ: How important is oil to the bilateral U.S.-Saudi relationship?

Lippman: I'm a contrarian on this. Oil is not very relevant to bilateral
relations. Even if there were a jihadist revolution tomorrow .

Alyami: I say, it's all about Saudi oil.

Lippman: The record shows that the United States boycotts oil producers.
They do not cut off America. Take, for instance, Libya and Iran .

MEQ: Saddam's Iraq, too, right?

Lippman: Yes. But, that was because of United Nations' sanctions. And the
United States bought the oil anyway. I believe that oil has no country of
origin. There is only one global oil market. If the United States stopped
buying the three million barrels a day that it buys from Saudi Arabia, and
instead purchased that amount somewhere else, then the Saudis would sell the
same three million barrels to the Chinese, South Africans, Japanese, or the
Argentineans. As long as Saudi Arabia is not in the forefront of rebels
trying to drive the prices up (the way Mu'ammar Qadhafi or even that old
U.S. friend, the shah of Iran, did in the old days), there should be no
problem. Washington should take the Saudis at their word, just as Energy
Secretary Samuel Bodman did on his recent trip there.

Alyami: From day one, oil has been the basis, directly or indirectly, of the
U.S.-Saudi relationship. Oil is important in Saudi relations with Japan and
Europe, too, as both of them import a lot of Saudi oil. If their economies
fall, the Saudi economy will follow. Therefore, oil becomes a key issue
here. Tom is right that the U.S. does not import so much oil from the Saudis
right now, but the situation will change in ten or fifteen years as China
consumes more energy than the United States. The Chinese have few reserves,
and they will try to buy as much as they can from the Gulf region. That
said, the United States will never let the Chinese or anyone else get
control of oil production in the Middle East.

Henderson: I disagree with Tom Lippman's remarks. Oil is the basis of the
relationship and is absolutely vital to it. So, preservation of the present
Saudi regime is in Washington's best interests because when other major oil
exporters' governments fail, the history is that their oil production and
exports are drastically reduced. Iran and Iraq are cases in point.

MEQ: And Qadhafi?

Henderson: Yes, and Qadhafi, too. He didn't actually fall, but Washington
gave him a hard time.

MEQ: Yes, oil production in Libya has fallen for so long that the country
now hopes that by 2010 it can return production to where it was when he came
to power in 1969.

Henderson: Of course, Saudi Arabia, because of its huge reserves and huge
production, has a crucial role, one that Riyadh has been happy to undertake
for many years: to be the swing producer. Many in Washington consider it
vital that Saudi Arabia continue to perform that role in the future. Such
concerns limit Washington's freedom of action on a whole series of concerns
about Saudi Arabia.

MEQ: Thank you for these most interesting observations. In sum, while there
remains disagreement on many, I heard a consensus that Washington should
encourage the kingdom's civil society organizations and democratic
reformers. That would be quite a change, indeed, from U.S. policy in decades

[1] Daniel L. Glaser, deputy assistant secretary Office of Terrorist
Financing and Financial Crimes, U.S. Department of the Treasury, testimony
before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Nov. 8, 2005.
[2] The World Muslim League is a Saudi-sponsored organization founded in
1962 to fund mosques, publishing houses, cultural centers, schools, and
other Islamic institutions.

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Subject: DSP Poll # 26 The Palestinian Government
- International Funding

Results of Opinion Poll # 26
Birzeit University - Development Studies Programme
Date of Publication: 29/04/2006

The Palestinian Government
International Funding

Dates of fieldwork: 19/4/2006
Sample Size: 630 Palestinians in the West Bank & Gaza
Number of Sampling Localities: 43
Margin of error: + 4%


� 63% support a National Unity Government, while 24% support the
continuation of a Hamas-led government.

� There is a decline in the percentage of voters willing to vote for
Hamas from 50% to 44%. The Fateh vote continues at 34%.

� 53% say that they are satisfied with the outcome of the latest PLC
elections, compared with 59% (20 days ago).

� 41% believe that the Hamas win will positively impact internal
conditions, compared with 59% (20 days ago).

� There is a drop in the evaluation of President Abbas from 54% to
43%; and for Prime Minister Haniyyeh from 64% to 57%.

� 32% evaluate the performance of the Hamas-led Government as "good."

� 30% believe that the current government is handling the issue of
international funding in an appropriate manner.

� 29% think that Hamas should recognize Israel and continue to
receive funding from international sources as done previously, while 64%

* For further information or queries, contact team coordinator Dr.
Nader Said or Polling coordinator Ayman Abdul Majeed at the listed address
or through our website:

* Many thanks go to our field researchers, and the International
Republican Institute (IRI) for their support.



(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 30.4.06:

1. In continuation of its previous decisions, the Cabinet views the
continued construction of the security fence ( )
as important vis-�-vis a measure that has proven its efficiency in
protecting the State of Israel and its citizens and that prevents negative
influences that terrorist attacks are liable to have on the diplomatic
process while reducing, by as much as possible, the effects on Palestinians'
lives in keeping with High Court of Justice rulings.

Therefore, the Cabinet decided:

* To approve the continued construction of the security fence in order to
prevent terrorist attacks, in keeping with the route changes that were
presented today;

* The sections of fence that are built as a result of this decision, like
those sections of that have been built up to now, are a temporary security
measure for the prevention of terrorist attacks and do not express a
diplomatic - or any other kind of - border;

* During the detailed planning, every effort will be made to reduce, by as
much as possible, disturbances that are liable to be caused to Palestinians'
lives as a result of the construction of the fence;

* Local changes in the route, or construction, of the fence that are
required as a result of overall planning or security needs, or as a result
of the need to reduce disturbances to Palestinians' lives, will be submitted
for approval to the Defense Minister and the Prime Minister;

* The approval of those sections of the fence route that are still
undergoing legal review (in northern Samaria and northeast of Maaleh Adumim)
will be subject to legal approval.

2. The Cabinet discussed the issue of security responsibility for the
'Jerusalem envelope' and for the seam zone.

3. Pursuant to its authority under the 1977 Airports Authority Law, the
Cabinet decided to approve the contacts between the Airports Authority and
Swissport International Ltd; see for details.

4. The Cabinet appointed Israeli Ambassador to Austria Dan Eshbal as
Non-Resident Ambassador to Slovenia.



Press release
Sunday, April 30, 2006

Regional Mayor Bentzi Lieberman: "Decision to divide the towns will choke
them and
prevent normal daily life, in a move towards '67 borders"

Today's Israeli government decision to divide the communities within the
Ariel bloc is absurd, said community heads in the Shomron area. They said
that the division of the area into two thin areas is proof that the idea of
promoting 'blocs of settlement' is merely lip service and that it is really
a step in the direction of the retreat plan to '67 borders and the desire to
hide behind walls and fences, in a false sense of security that strengthens
the self-confidence of the palestinian arabs and their terrorist efforts.

For a visit to the areas at hand or interviews with the elected officials
such as Mayor Bentzi Lieberman and Members of the Knesset, please contact
Ruthie Lieberman at


Subject: Excerpts: Debate on nuclear issues in Terhan
Russia's energy threat to Europe. 30 April 2006

Excerpts: Debate on nuclear issues in Terhan Russia's energy threat to
Europe. 30 April 2006:

+++THE DAILY STAR (Lebanon) 28 April '06:"The way to beat Iran's
confrontationists" By Karim Sadjadpour,International Crisis Group
"a longstanding debate on the nuclear issue rages in Tehran ... country's
(three) ruling elites divided"

(1) " ' the West needs Iran more than we need them' " (2) " 'you can't
live in isolation' " (3) " 'cost of nuclear intransigence ... greater than
its benefits' "

"will require ... American-led diplomacy, starting from the premise that
Iran's leadership is neither monolithic nor impossibly intransigent"
As the international community wrestles with Iran's nuclear ambitions, a
longstanding debate on the nuclear issue rages in Tehran, and Western
policymakers and analysts should not ignore it.
Though Iranian officials publicly project a unified mindset, in reality the
country's ruling elites are divided into three broad categories: those
whofavorpursuit of the nuclear fuel cycle at all costs; those who wish to
pursue it without sacrificing diplomatic interestss; and those who argue for
a suspension of activities to build trust and allow for a full fuel cycle
down the road. Understanding and exploiting these differences should be a
key component of any diplomatic approach.
The first group...romanticize the defiance of the revolution's early days.
... argue that Iran should withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT), unequivocally pursue its nuclear ambitions... .They advocate
measures such as withholding oil exports and cutting diplomatic ties with
countries that side against Iran, confident that "the West needs Iran more
than we need them."
The second group,...argues that Iran is "bound by national duty" to pursue
its "inalienable" right to enrich uranium, but ... favors working within an
international framework. ... "a country's survival depends on its political
and diplomatic ties: you can't live in isolation."
The third, more conciliatory group is arguably the most reflective of
popular sentiment, but is also currently the least influential in the
circles of power. Believing the costs of nuclear intransigence to be greater
than its benefits, they claim Iran should freeze its enrichment activities
to build confidence and assuage international concerns. As reformist leader
Mustafa Tajzadeh told me, "We have far more pressing concerns facing our
country than a lack of uranium enrichment." This group has consistently
backed direct talks with the United States, convinced that the Europeans are
incapable of providing the political, economic and security dividends Iran
Steering the Iranian nuclear ship is supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
whose 17-year track record suggests a leader who wants neither confrontation
nor accommodation with the West. Yet decisions in Iran are made by consensus
rather than decree, and at the moment Khamenei appears more influenced by
confrontationist voices around him who argue - with some plausibility - that
nothing short of regime change will satisfy the U.S., and that retreating on
the nuclear question would only display weakness and invite further
pressure. Believing a clash with the U.S. inevitable, Tehran's hard-liners
want it to occur on their terms, when oil prices are high and the U.S. is
bogged down in Iraq.
For the West to effectively counter Tehran's confrontationists, it must
simultaneously strengthen its pragmatists. While the West should make clear
that a bellicose Iranian policy will not reap rewards, it should also
indicate that a more conciliatory stance would trigger reciprocal steps.
Timing is key: offering incentives prematurely, without modified Iranian
behavior, may well validate the confrontationists' hard-line approach;
refusing to offer genuine incentives will undermine the pragmatists' appeal.
After months of silence, Iranian moderates are beginning to make their
voices heard. Khatami has criticized his successor's disregard for
diplomacy, as has former lead nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani. The
country's largest reform party recently urged the government to voluntarily
suspend all nuclear fuel cycle work. This suggests pressure is having some
effect, but it will only go so far. If and when greater momentum and a
larger consensus builds in Tehran for a nuclear compromise, it will be time
for the West to clarify that a moderate Iranian approach would beget a
moderated Western response, particularly from the U.S.
A broader diplomatic accommodation - Iran forsaking domestic uranium
enrichment and modifying its objectionable domestic and regional behavior in
exchange for improved bilateral relations, security assurances, and a
gradual lifting of sanctions - is the preferred option. A smaller bargain
would be acknowledging Iran's eventual right, after several years of a total
freeze, to operate a small-scale uranium enrichment facility under an
intrusive inspections regime, making clear that no move to weapons would
ever be tolerated. In both instances the logic is similar: to strengthen the
hand of Iranians who are pressing for a more accommodating foreign and
nuclear policy, they need to have a realistic and appealing alternative to
point to.
With oil prices soaring and Iraq in chaos, the policies being contemplated
to enforce zero enrichment for zero incentives, which not even moderate
forces in Iran can accept, hold little promise. Three decades of extensive
U.S. economic sanctions have done little to positively influence Iranian
behavior; there is little indication to believe additional European Union
sanctions would do the trick. Military strikes against Iran's nuclear
facilities would be of dubious efficacy and would have catastrophic
consequences for regional peace and security. And despite widespread popular
discontent and promises of U.S. funding, hopes for a popular uprising are
very slim.
A nuclear-armed Iran is not a fait accompli. But to prevent more dangerous
scenarios from emerging will require the U.S. to come to terms with a
reality that European, Russian, and Iranian officials privately admit: if a
nuclear Iran is to be avoided, the answer lies not in European economic
overtures or a Russian-led technical solution, but American-led diplomacy,
starting from the premise that Iran's leadership is neither monolithic nor
impossibly intransigent.

+++ARAB NEWS (Saudi) 30 April '06:"EDITORIAL: Russia's Oil Plans"
"Russia would look to channeling its ... production to energy-hungry
China as well as to Japan"
"Russia's ... renationalized ... Gazprom ... supplies a quarter of
Europe's gas"
"Today its strength rests most strongly on its ability to supply

According to President Vladimir Putin, Russia is growing impatient with
European concerns about the reliability of the oil and gas which Europe buys
from Moscow. If protests and worries continue, Putin warned last week,
Russia would look to channeling its hydrocarbon production to energy-hungry
China as well as to Japan. A month ago, on a visit to Beijing, he speculated
openly about running an oil pipeline from Siberia to China.
... Western European countries are hardly likely to be reassured by a threat
to divert energy production eastward.
Further European alarm has been caused by the predatory ambitions of Russia'
s state-owned energy companies, most particularly the renationalized
commercial behemoth Gazprom, which currently supplies a quarter of Europe's
gas. Gazprom is looking to buy European energy companies and, with high
energy prices swelling its income, its pockets are deep. The negative
reaction to this eventuality on the part of European politicians last week
caused Putin to remark caustically: "When [European] companies come to us,
it's called investment and globalization, but when we go there, it's called
expansion by Russian companies."
I... Moscow is now enjoying the position of a commercial power in which it
finds itself thanks to its energy production. ...
Today its strength rests most strongly upon its ability to supply energy. It
is no longer a prime magnet for international investment. ... How wisely
Moscow uses its newfound power and, indeed, how it uses the rising tide of
foreign exchange flowing into its once almost bankrupt treasury are crucial
both for Russia itself and its neighbors ...

Sue Lerner - Associate - IMRA


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End of [imra] Daily digest - Volume: 2 Issue: 1381 (12 messages)

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