Written by Right Side News
28 Av 5768
August 29, 2008
Livni Widens Gap Between Herself and Mofaz, But
The Kadima party primaries are only three weeks away, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is now significantly leading in the polls over her rival, Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz. Polls show her leading by anywhere from 11 to 21 percentage points.
Yet another survey, this one carried out by Panorama Markets, finds that the Kadima party would do better in the general elections with Livni at the helm instead of Mofaz - but in either case would finish second to the Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
The numbers show that if Livni heads Kadima, the Likud would receive 24 Knesset mandates and Kadima would take 23. With Mofaz at the helm, however, the Likud would win, 22-19. Labor would finish in 3rd place in either scenario, with 14 MKs (if Livni heads Kadima) or 17 (Mofaz).
Plot to Assassinate Israeli Pilots Exposed
An Islamic Jihad cell plotting to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists and university lecturers was exposed in a joint IDF, Shin Bet and police operation. The arrest was cleared for publication on Thursday evening.
The cell was comprised of three Palestinians and two Israeli Arabs from Shfaram. The group also planned to carry out a shooting attack against the IDF checkpoint near Beit Zeit, in the Ramallah area, and go after those suspected of collaborating with Israel.
The two Israeli Arab members worked on the fundraising front, trying to secure money for the purchase of weapons. The two attempted to contact the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Syria to this end. The cell did have some arms in its possession and had trained extensively ahead of its plan to carry out the Beit Zeit shooting attack.
The Shin Bet said the case exposes the cooperation between Israeli Arabs who study in the territories and terror operatives who live there.
Hizbollah Shot Down Lebanese Helicopter
Hizbullah shot down the Lebanese military helicopter earlier on Thursday over the village of Sejoud, sources close to the Shiite group confirmed to Lebanese media.
The attack resulted in the death of the pilot, identified as First Lieutenant Samer Hanna. Two other military men who were traveling in the helicopter were wounded in the crash.
The reports, attributed to media associated with the anti-Syrian camp in Lebanon, assert Hizbullah intentionally shot down the chopper: "The helicopter was downed because it crossed the red lines which Hizbullah warned the ministry of defense and military not to go over.
"Hizbullah informed them it was their obligation to uphold this. Hizbullah believes that that the ministry of defense and army headquarters did not know that the helicopter entered the no-fly zone."
Can there be any doubt that Hizbollah runs Lebanon?
Israel, PA Worried over Jordanian/Hamas Ties
A sudden change in Jordanian policy that is now fostering warmer relations with the outlawed Hamas terrorist party is worrying both Israel and the Fatah-led administration of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas sent one of his top ministers to Amman last week "to find out what the Jordanians are up to and if their contacts with Hamas meant dropping support" for the PA, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Jordanian intelligence chief Mohammed al-Dahabi has met twice this month with Hamas leaders although the organization is outlawed in the country. Itai Bardov, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Amman, termed the contacts as being "unhelpful to the peace process."
There is fear that a Jordanian connection will render Hamas stronger if Abbas fails to reach an agreement with Israel for a new Arab state. Another scenario, in the event of a failure, would be the chance of an emigration of Arabs from Judea and Samaria to Jordan or calls for a confederation with Jordan.
The result would be an even a larger number of Jordanian Arabs who claim descent from Israel including Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They already comprise more than 50 percent of Jordan's population.
Russia's Latest Success
Alexander Vovk, spokesman for Russia's strategic nuclear forces said yesterday that Russia has successfully tested the Topol RS-12M to "develop equipment for potential combat and use against ground-based missiles."
Earlier this week, amid the crisis over Georgia, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned of a military response to the US missile shield to be installed in Europe.
The Topol RS-12M ballistic missile (NATO codenamed SS-25 Sickle) is a new piece of equipment which Russian generals have said Moscow is working on to pierce any missile shield the US could make. The ICBM test follows Russia's warning to NATO against sending more ships to the Black Sea and caution to Moldava to watch its step.
America's decision to redirect its Georgia aid warship from Russian-controlled Poti port to Georgian-controlled Batumi Wednesday, August 27 - on direct orders from the Pentagon - did not cool the escalating tension between the two powers. As soon as the US Coast Guard cutter Dallas docked with 34 tons of humanitarian aid, three Russian missile boats, led by the Moskva missile cruiser, anchored at the Black Sea port of Sukhumi, capital of breakaway Abkhazia to the north, for what the Russians called "peacekeeping operations."
In Moscow, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said NATO had exhausted the number of forces it can deploy in the Black Sea under international agreements. He warned Western nations against sending more ships. "NATO - which is not a state located in the Black Sea" cannot continuously increase its forces and systems there, he said.
At the moment according to reports, ten NATO warships are present in the Black Sea - American, Turkish, German, Spanish and Polish. Alliance sources have said more vessels would soon be deployed raising the number to eighteen.
Moldova, another former Soviet Black Sea nation, is the latest target of Russian threats and a factor in the Russian-US contest over the region. Tuesday, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned Moldovan leaders against repeating Georgia's mistake of trying to use force to regain control of its breakaway region of Transdniestria.
Wednesday, Russian ambassador Valeri Kuzmin advised Moldova's leaders to avoid a "bloody and catastrophic trend of events." He said Moscow had recognized South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence the day before, because of "Georgian aggression."
For Sale to the Highest Bidder - Syria
Georgia's war was brief and took place in a remote region, but is already considered a historic turning point in superpower relations. Russia stood up to the West and refused to back down.
The conclusion is clear: The old world, where America ruled by dint of its military and economic might, and preached to others in the name of fighting terror and spreading democracy, is yielding to a new world, starring leaders like Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in whom noble ideals have no meaning. What matters is Power.
The change in the balance of power was evident in the Middle East even before the war in Georgia. The concept of "moderates versus extremists" has been replaced by a system of "understandings" and "temporary truce agreements". Hezbollah has seized control of Lebanon, and Hamas has won partial recognition of its rule over Gaza.
The leader who understood the significance of the change better than others, and is working to leverage it to his advantage, is Syrian President Bashar Assad. In these days of uncertainty and searching for allies, Assad is putting Syria up for sale. After a prolonged isolation, which reached its climax in a series of humiliations - his army's expulsion from Lebanon, accusations he murdered Rafik Hariri, the bombing of the nuclear reactor, Imad Mughniyeh's assassination, and the failure of the Arab summit in Damascus - Assad launched a diplomatic offensive. The previously ostracized president is now highly sought after. Even his wife Asma this week received the Arab League's award for "Outstanding Arab Woman of 2008."
Assad was quick to defend Russia's part in the Georgias conflict and agreed to heighten Russia's naval presence at itsTartus port. In return, he asked the Russians for advanced weapons systems, which even if they are not supplied soon, raise the level of concern in Israel and improve Syrian deterrence.
Putin, who wants to revive Russia's influence in the region, has an excellent grasp of this game. He is moving ahead fearlessly and systematically.
Stay alert - stay watchful.
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Shabbat Shalom and blessings to all of you,