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Intelligence digest: Middle East, 11-17 November 2012

The Middle East shown on a globe (Photo: Source and context unknown)
The Middle East shown on a globe (Photo: Source and context unknown)


More Taliban Prisoners May Be Released
New York Times, 17 November: Many of at least a dozen Afghan Taliban prisoners being released by Pakistan are significant figures, according to officials on all sides, and Afghan peace representatives were exultant on Saturday as they announced that more releases might follow.

Bomb Kills 17 Civilians In Afghanistan
New York Times, 16 November: A roadside bomb killed 17 civilians, most of them women and children, on Friday as they travelled to a wedding in western Afghanistan. It was the third time in less than 10 days that a bomb claimed the lives of civilians.

Roadside Bomb Kills Afghan Wedding Guests
BBC, 16 November: A roadside bomb in western Afghanistan has killed 17 people who were travelling in a wedding party.

Combined Force Arrests Insurgents In Search For Taliban Leader
Global Security, 16 November: A combined Afghan and coalition force in Afghanistan’s Helmand province arrested several suspected insurgents today during a search for a Taliban leader who facilitates the transfer of weapons and is involved in ambush attacks targeting Afghan and coalition forces, military officials reported.

Oil Supply to NATO to Resume Before December: Report
Global Security, 15 November: Oil supply for the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan is expected to resume through Pakistan’s land routes by the end of this month following a year-long break and a test run conducted last week, a media report said on Thursday.

U.S., Afghanistan to Begin Talks on Post-Withdrawal Security
LA Times, 15 November: In talks that are likely to be confrontational, the United States and Afghanistan are scheduled to begin negotiations Thursday on a new security arrangement after U.S. combat troops withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of 2014.

Death Penalty Sought For US Soldier in Afghan Massacre Case
BBC, 14 November: A US soldier accused of killing 16 civilians – nine of them children – in southern Afghanistan in March should face the death penalty, military prosecutors say.

Afghanistan Halts Helmand Police Fuel Supplies After Major Theft
Guardian, 13 November: Senior Afghan officials are said to have discovered large-scale theft of fuel in Helmand and halted all deliveries to police in the province, compromising the ability of the force to operate in one of the Taliban’s major strongholds.

Insurgent Rockets Hit 3 Kabul Targets
New York Times, 13 November: Insurgents fired four rockets into the capital early on Tuesday, hitting a taxi, the grounds of a television studio and the international airport, the Afghan police and other officials said.

Reconciliation: Pakistan-Afghan Peace Delegates Kicks Off Key Talks
Express Tribune, 13 November: A high-level Afghan delegation exchanged “key proposals” with Pakistan on Monday in the latest push by the two neighbours to seek a peaceful end to the decade-long conflict and advance the process of reconciliation with the Taliban.

Afghan Warlord’s Call to Arms Rattles Officials
New York Times, 12 November: One of the most powerful mujahedeen commanders in Afghanistan, Ismail Khan, is calling on his followers to reorganize and defend the country against the Taliban as Western militaries withdraw, in a public demonstration of faltering confidence in the national government and the Western-built Afghan National Army.

UK Soldier Killed in Afghanistan ‘Insider Attack’
BBC, 12 November: A British soldier has been shot dead by an individual wearing an Afghan army uniform, the Ministry of Defence said.


Bahrain Guard Forces Deploy Against Unrest
World Bulletin, 11 November: A government statement said the Guard — a force separate from the regular military — will be patrolling “strategic locations” that have been scenes of arson attacks and clashes.


Iran Delays Planned Start-Up of Arak Nuclear Reactor
Reuters, 17 November: Iran has postponed until 2014 the planned start-up of a research reactor which Western experts say could potentially offer the Islamic Republic a second route to produce material for a nuclear bomb, a U.N. report showed.

Iran’s First Nuclear Plant May Have Suffered New Setback
Reuters, 16 November: Iran unloaded nuclear fuel from its first atomic power plant last month, a United Nations report said on Friday, a few months after the Russian builder said the long-postponed reactor was operating at full capacity.

Iran Says Arrests Foreign-Linked Bomb Plotters
Al-Arabiya, 16 November: Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has arrested people planning bomb attacks with the support of Western and Israeli spy agencies in the oil-producing province of Khuzestan, state television reported on Friday.

Iran Could Ramp Up Uranium Enrichment Within Days, Diplomats Say
NTI, 16 November: Iran would need only a few days to double the number of centrifuges producing higher-enriched uranium at a facility hardened against attack, an informed envoy told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Iran Ready to Double Uranium Enrichment at Fordo – IAEA
BBC, 16 November: Iran is ready to double the output at its underground uranium enrichment facility, the UN nuclear watchdog says.

Iran Unveils New Missiles And Artillery
World Bulletin, 13 November: The three domestically-built missile and artillery systems would be a significant boost to Iran’s military defences, said Farzad Esmaili, head of Iran’s air defence headquarters.

‘Three Arrested’ Over Death of Iranian Blogger Beheshti
BBC, 13 November: Three people are reported to have been arrested in connection with the death in police custody of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti, state media say.

Threat-Focused Iran Launches “Biggest Ever” Air Drills
Reuters, 12 November: Iran launched military drills across half the country on Monday, warning it would act against aggressors less than a week after Washington accused Iranian warplanes of firing on a U.S. drone.

Iran Hopes of Deal on IAEA Visit to Parchin
World Bulletin, 12 November: Iran expressed hope on Monday that a planned meeting with the U.N. nuclear watchdog next month would lead to a “framework of cooperation”.

Middle East Nuclear Talks Said Doubtful Despite Iran
Reuters, 11 November: Plans for an international conference in December to discuss banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East look in doubt even though Iran has said it would attend, Western diplomats say.


Car Bomb Kills Seven Foreign Shi’ite Pilgrims In Iraq
Reuters, 17 November: At least seven Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims from Iran and Pakistan were killed in Iraq on Saturday when a car bomb went off by a restaurant in a city north of the capital, police and hospital sources said.

Iraq Releases Suspected Hezbollah Operative Ali Mussa Daqduq
Reuters, 16 November: Iraqi authorities on Friday released suspected Hezbollah operative Ali Mussa Daqduq who was accused of killing American troops, his lawyer said, adding he had made his way to Lebanon.

Iraqi Forces Clash With Kurdish Troops, One Dead
Reuters, 16 November: One person died in clashes between Iraqi forces and troops guarding an office of a Kurdish political party on Friday, deepening tension between the oil-rich region and the central government in Baghdad.

Wave Of Bombings Kills At Least 12 People Across Iraq
New York Times, 14 November:  Insurgents unleashed a new wave of bombings across Iraq early Wednesday targeting security forces and civilians, and killing 17 people and wounding dozens more in the latest challenge to government efforts to promote a sense of stability, police and health officials said.

Iraq Bombings Kill 17 On Eve Of Muharram And Ashura
BBC, 14 November: At least 17 people have been killed and dozens wounded in bombings across Iraq, on the eve of the Islamic new year and the holy month of Muharram.

Iraq Executes 10 Prisoners For Terrorism
CNN, 11 November: Iraqi authorities executed 10 prisoners Sunday for terrorism convictions, the Ministry of Justice announced. The prisoners — nine Iraqis and one Egyptian — were put to death in the latest of several executions carried out by Iraqi authorities in recent months, despite a United Nations call for restraint.


Arabs Expected To Back Truce Efforts For Gaza
World Bulletin, 17 November: Arab foreign ministers will consider a draft statement that calls for the Arab League chief to lead a delegation to Gaza and voices support for Egypt’s efforts to negotiate a truce.

Gaza Crisis: Fresh Fire Exchanged As Violence Continues
BBC, 17 November: The Israeli army and militants in Gaza are continuing to trade fire, with the round of violence that has followed Israel’s killing of Hamas’s military chief showing no sign of abating.

Egypt To Hold Talks With Qatar, Turkey, Hamas Over Gaza
World Bulletin, 17 November: Egypt’s president will hold four-way talks with the Qatari emir, the prime minister of Turkey and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo.

UN Chief Urges End To “Dangerous Escalation” In Gaza
World Bulletin, 17 November: Ban Ki-moon called on Israel and Hamas to “stop this dangerous escalation” in the Gaza Strip to avoid further bloodshed.

Israel Deploys New Iron Dome Interceptor Near Tel Aviv
World Bulletin, 17 November: The Israeli military rushed a fifth Iron Dome anti-missile battery into service on Saturday and deployed it in the Tel Aviv area.

Gaza Rockets ‘Very Significant Development’: Hezbollah
Al-Arabiya, 17 November: Palestinian militants firing long-range rockets from Gaza into Israel represents a “very significant development” in the conflict with the Jewish state, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has said.

Israel Authorises More Reservists After Rockets Target Cities
Reuters, 16 November: Israel’s cabinet authorized the mobilization of up to 75,000 reservists late on Friday, preparing the ground for a possible Gaza invasion after Palestinians fired a rocket toward Jerusalem for the first time in decades.

Hamas Tells Sudan It Will Avenge Israeli Bombing Of Arms Plant
Reuters, 16 November: The exiled leader of Hamas told Sudan on Friday his Palestinian group would take revenge on Israel for the deadly bombing of an arms factory in Khartoum.

Thousands Protest In Egypt Against Israeli Attacks On Gaza
Reuters, 16 November: Thousands of people protested in Egyptian cities on Friday against Israeli air strikes on Gaza and Egypt’s president pledged to support the Palestinian enclave’s population in the face of “blatant aggression”.

Hezbollah Says Arabs Have Political Means To Stop Israel Attacks
World Bulletin, 16 November: The leader of Lebanon’s powerful group called on countries with ties to the United States and the West to pressure them to help stop the air strikes.

Israel Destroys Hamas Prime Minister’s Office
New York Times, 16 November: Israel retaliated for Palestinian rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with five airstrikes before dawn on Saturday on the Gaza City offices of Ismail Haniya, the prime minister of Hamas —   the militant Islamist group that governs Gaza.

Israel Takes Steps Pointing To Ground Incursion Into Gaza Strip
CBS News, 16 November: Israel seemed to be preparing to step up its military operation against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip on Friday, as air raid sirens wailed in Tel Aviv and, for the first time, in Jerusalem.

Egyptian PM Arrives In Gaza As Rocket Attacks And Air Strikes Continue
Guardian, 16 November: Egypt’s Prime Minister, Hisham Kandil, has arrived in Gaza, as Israel and Palestinian militants continue to exchange fire. Egypt is pushing ahead in efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas, and Kandil said Cairo would “spare no effort” to achieve a ceasefire.

IDF Tracked Rockets From Iran To Hamas
Al-Monitor, 16 November: The IDF releases details of the smuggling operation for the Farj-5 missiles from Iran to Gaza.

Turkey Condemns Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza Strip
Jerusalem Post, 16 November: Turkey PM calls Gaza operation “a pre-election stunt”. US asks Turkey and Egypt to encourage Hamas to cease rocket fire into Israel.

Gaza Crisis Likely To Alter Course Of Israeli Elections
Al-Monitor, 15 November: The impact of this conflict on the fast-approaching Israeli elections.

Israel Warships, Fighter Jets Pound Gaza For Second Day
Al-Arabiya, 15 November: Israeli airstrike, naval gunboats and tanks carried on through dawn in southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning killing three Palestinians and leaving many injured after targeting the head of military wing of Hamas in a missile strike the previous night.

Israel-Gaza Crisis: Cameron Speaks To Netanyahu – Hamas “Bears The Principal Responsibility” For The Violence.
BBC, 15 November: David Cameron has told Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu that Hamas “bears the principal responsibility” for the violence in southern Israel and Gaza.

Three Israelis Killed By Gaza Rocket As Violence Escalates
BBC, 15 November: Three people have been killed as rockets fired from Gaza struck southern Israel, amid escalating violence.

Qassam Members Killed In Israeli Airstrike East Of Jabaliya
Ma’an News, 15 November: Israeli airstrikes on Thursday killed two Hamas militants in the northern Gaza Strip, bringing the Palestinian death toll to 13 in less than 24 hours.

Rockets Hit Near Tel Aviv As Gaza Death Toll Rises
Reuters, 15 November: Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip targeted Tel Aviv on Thursday in the first attack on Israel’s commercial capital in 20 years, raising the stakes in a showdown between Israel and the Palestinians that is moving towards all-out war.

Israeli Air Strike Kills Hamas Military Chief Jabari
BBC, 14 November: The head of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has been killed during Israeli air and naval strikes in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas Appeals To Israeli Public
Brookings, 14 November: President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of the Palestinian Authority made headlines last week. In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News, Abbas seemed to relinquish the demand for a right of return of refugees of 1948 to their former homes inside Israel, while reaffirming his commitment to non-violence.

Israel Threatens To Overthrow Abbas Over Palestinian Statehood Bid
Guardian, 14 November: Israel should topple the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, if he presses ahead with a request for recognition of the state of Palestine by the United Nations general assembly in two weeks’ time, the hard-line foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has urged.

Israel And Palestinians Put Lid On Gaza, For Now
Reuters, 13 November: Israel and the Palestinians stepped back from the brink of a new war in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, sending signals to each other via Egypt that they would hold their fire unless attacked, after five days of mounting violence.

Palestinian UN Observer State Bid On 29 November
BBC, 12 November: The Palestinian Authority will present its bid for Palestine to become a UN “non-member observer state” on 29 November, President Mahmoud Abbas says.

Nine Gaza Rockets Hit Israel
IOL News, 12 November: Gaza militants on Monday fired nine rockets at southern Israel, one of which exploded next to a house, police said, shattering an overnight calm even as Cairo sought to broker an end to 24 hours of bloodshed.


Jordanian Protesters Call For “Downfall Of The Regime”
Reuters, 16 November: Thousands of demonstrators chanted the Arab Spring slogan “the people want the downfall of the regime” in Jordan on Friday, although a day billed as the culmination of three days of occasionally violent protests passed off largely in peace.

Muslim Brotherhood Weighs Options In Jordanian Protests
Al-Monitor, 16 November: The Muslim Brotherhood is planning its response to economic austerity measures.

Analysis: Jordan’s King Pinched By Absence Of Gulf Aid
Reuters, 16 November: With protesters baying for his overthrow, Jordan’s King Abdullah might be wondering why his fellow-dynasts in Gulf Arab states are not providing the cash that could calm the trouble.

Jordan Police Kill ‘Gunman’ Amid Fuel Price Unrest
BBC, 15 November: Jordanian police say they have shot dead a gunman attacking a police station in the north of the country on the second day of countrywide unrest.

Jordan Protesters Take To Streets Over Fuel Price Rises
BBC, 14 November:  Protests have been held in several Jordanian cities against increases in fuel price, following the lifting of government subsidies.

Jordan Sentences Ex-Spy Chief To 13 Years In Jail On Graft Charges
World Bulletin, 11 November: Jordan’s former spy chief, once of the country’s most feared officials, was sentenced on Sunday to 13 years in prison on graft charges in the first high-profile case from an anti-corruption crackdown driven by popular protests.


Kuwait Voting Row Mushrooms Into Broader Debate Over Power
Reuters, 14 November: What started as a dispute over voting rules in Kuwait has mushroomed into a debate about the balance of power between the emir and parliament, with implications for other Gulf dynasties facing reform pressure since the Arab Spring.

Thousands Of Kuwaitis Protest Against Voting Changes
World Bulletin, 12 November: Made up of Islamist, tribal and liberal lawmakers, as well as youth groups, the opposition says the new voting rules are an attempt to skew the parliamentary election in favour of pro-government candidates.


Three Killed In Sunni-Shi’ite Clash In South Lebanon
Ahram, 12 November: In a fresh wave of violence that hit Lebanon, three people were killed and seven injured in fighting between followers of a Sunni Salafist leader and supporters of the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah in the city of Sidon.


Nothing significant to report.


US Govt: Pakistan Didn’t Know Whereabouts Of Osama Bin Laden
Dawn, 17 November: An official US assessment of Osama bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad has concluded that Pakistan did not know the whereabouts of Al Qaeda leader before the US raid.

Pakistan Racing To Develop Armed Drones But Lacks Key Technology; China Offers Help
Washington Post, 17 November: Pakistan is secretly racing to develop its own armed drones, frustrated with U.S. refusals to provide the aircraft, but is struggling in its initial tests with a lack of precision munitions and advanced targeting technology.

Arrested ‘TTP Militant’ Warns Of Muharram Attacks
Express Tribune, 17 November: Four suicide bombers are ready to carry out attacks at Muharram processions in Karachi, a suspected militant has told intelligence officials during interrogation.

Musharraf Calls For India, Pakistan To ‘Bury The Hatchet’
Dawn, 17 November: Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said on Saturday that India and Pakistan need to “bury the hatchet” and settle their differences to reduce poverty and ease tensions in the region.

Terror Plot Foiled As Police Arrest Two In Gujrat
Dawn, 16 November: Police foiled a terrorist plot arresting a father and son duo from Gujrat, Dawn News reported on Friday.

Pakistani Soldier Muhammed Hussain Is Executed For Murder
BBC, 15 November: A Pakistani soldier sentenced to death four years ago has become the first man to be executed in the country for almost four years, officials say.

Mobile Phone Services Suspended In Karachi And Quetta
Dawn, 15 November: Pakistani authorities suspended cell phone service in Karachi and Quetta between 10 AM and 6 PM local time in an effort to prevent sectarian attacks against Shi’a Muslims at the start of their holy month of Muharram.

Pakistan Agrees Afghan Taliban Releases In Islamabad Talks
BBC, 14 November: Pakistan has agreed to free several jailed Afghan Taliban officials during talks in Islamabad with Afghan peace negotiators, officials say.

Pakistan Arrests ‘Militants’ After Karachi Violence
AFP, 13 November: Police in Karachi have arrested four suspected militants they said were planning a wave of sectarian attacks in the city, following a bloody three days in which around 40 people were killed.

2 Killed, 10 Injured In Quetta Blast
Express Tribune, 13 November: At least two people were killed and 10 others, including three FC personnel, were injured when a blast took place in the Almo Chowk area of Quetta on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Probes Attacks On Police In Shiite Region
Daily Star, 17 November: Saudi Arabia’s police force said Saturday it is investigating a series of attacks against members of the force in the Shiite-majority district of Qatif.


Syrian Rebels ‘Capture Airport’
BBC, 17 November: Syrian rebels say they have captured an airport near the border with Iraq. The airport of Hamdan in Deir al-Zour province, near the town of Albu Kamal, had been converted by government forces for military use.

Syria Opposition Bloc Recognized by Ankara
Turkish Weekly, 16 November: Turkey recognizes the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced yesterday, calling on the international community to follow suit.

Securing Syrian Chemical Sites May Require 75,000 Troops: U.S. Military
NTI, 16 November: The U.S. Defence Department has informed the White House it could take more than 75,000 military personnel to secure Syria’s chemical arsenal, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

UK Foreign Secretary Signals Recognition Of New Syrian Rebel Grouping
Daily Telegraph, 16 November: William Hague signalled that Britain is prepared to formally recognise a new Syrian opposition grouping, as he hailed an “encouraging turning point” in fight against Bashar al-Assad.

France To Push For Arming Syria’s Opposition Coalition
BBC, 15 November: France’s foreign minister has said he will discuss supplying arms to the Syrian opposition coalition with European partners.

Turkish Jets Patrol Southern Border With Syria
Reuters, 15 November: Turkey sent fighter jets to its south-eastern frontier with Syria for a second day on Thursday, a Reuters witness said, following an air assault this week by Syrian warplanes on the rebel-held border town of Ras al-Ain.

SNC Plans To Base In Cairo
World Bulletin, 14 November: Syrian National Coalition (SNC) member, told that Cairo was decided to be the permanent headquarters of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces.

U.S. Stops Short Of Recognizing Syrian Opposition Body
Reuters, 14 November: The United States declined to follow France in fully recognizing a fledgling Syrian opposition coalition on Wednesday, saying the body must prove its worth, after its predecessor was dogged by feuding and accusations of Islamist domination.

Turkey Warns Syria On Border Violation
Daily Star, 14 November: Turkey on Wednesday warned that its military would retaliate if any Syrian aircraft violate its airspace amid a third day of air strikes by Syrian forces against rebels who overran a town along the border with Turkey.

Syria Regime Bombards Rebels
The Australian, 14 November: Syria’s regime has unleashed tanks and warplanes against rebels as battles rage, after France recognised the newly united political opposition and raised the prospect of arming its fighters.

Russia Urges Syrian Opposition Groups To Unite
Al-Arabiya, 14 November: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged all Syrian opposition groups to unite and to set up a team to negotiate with the Syrian government after a meeting with his Arab counterparts in the Gulf on Wednesday.

N. Korea Attempted To Ship Missile Parts To Syria
World Bulletin, 14 November: North Korea tried to export ballistic missile parts to Syria in May in violation of sanctions, according to a classified UN report.

Syria Orders More Airstrikes and Calls French Recognition of Rebels ‘Immoral’
New York Times, 13 November: The Syrian authorities on Wednesday ordered airstrikes close to the tense Turkish border for the third consecutive day, and said a French decision to recognize and consider arming a newly formed coalition of Syrian government opponents was an “immoral” act “encouraging the destruction of Syria.”

Syria: France Backs Anti-Assad Coalition
BBC, 13 November: France has become the first Western power to recognise Syria’s opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Syria Crisis: Arab League Welcomes New Opposition Bloc
BBC, 13 November: The Arab League has welcomed the formation of a new coalition of Syrian opposition forces, and has called on other opposition parties to join it.

Syria’s Opposition Wins Western Backing, But What About Western Weapons?
Time, 13 November: Syria‘s new opposition leadership structure announced in Qatar could mark a turning point in the stalemated 20-month old rebellion against the Assad regime. But it could just as easily prove to be another chimerical Western attempt to stand up a friendly regime for an Arab country in transition.

Residents Flee Air Strikes On Syria Border Town
Reuters, 13 November: A Syrian warplane struck homes in the town of Ras al-Ain on Tuesday within sight of the Turkish border, pursuing an aerial bombardment to force out rebels and drawing a new warning from Ankara.

NATO ‘Will Defend Turkey’ From Syria Attacks
Daily Telegraph, 12 November: NATO will defend alliance member Turkey, which struck back after mortar rounds fired from Syria landed inside its border, the alliance’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at a meeting in Prague on Monday.

Syrian Opposition Elects First Leader
Reuters, 12 November:  The new assembly unanimously elects Sheikh Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, a well-respected figure amongst Syrians and former Imam of the historic Umayyad mosque in Damascus, as president.

Syria Opposition Moves to Unite
WSJ, 11 November: Syria’s opposition formed a new political body designed to serve as a nerve centre for the split anti-government movement, in a breakthrough for activists and their foreign backers in their effort to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Israel Fires At Syria After Stray Mortar Strikes Army Post
Washington Post, 11 November: The upheaval in Syria drew a military response from Israel on Sunday when its forces fired a guided antitank missile near a Syrian mortar battery after a stray shell from fighting between Syrian troops and rebels hit an Israeli army post in the Golan Heights, military officials said.


UAE Toughens Law On Internet Dissent
World Bulletin, 13 November: The new law imposes jail terms for anyone who derides or caricatures the Gulf Arab country’s rulers or state institutions on the web.

UAE Islamists Lose Appeal Against Loss Of Citizenship
World Bulletin, 12 November: The seven are among more than 60 members of the Islamist grouping al-Islah detained this year and accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in the UAE.


Growing Number of Internally Displaced Yemenis Returning To Their Homes – UN Refugee Agency
Global Security, 16 November 2012: The United Nations refugee agency today announced that it is seeing growing numbers of internally displaced people returning to their homes in southern Yemen – the first major fall in displacement there in 18 months.

Suicide Bomber Kills 3 PRC Members
Critical Threats, 16 November: A suicide bomber targeted Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) forces in Abyan governorate on November 16. Local sources reported that the suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near a local government building in Zinjibar district. At least three PRC members were killed, several others were wounded.

Yemen Suicide Bomber Kills Three in Abyan Militia Offices
Reuters, 16 November: A suicide bomber linked to al Qaeda killed himself and three others inside the headquarters of government-allied militias in the capital of southern Yemen’s Abyan province on Friday, a security source and medical sources told Reuters.

Five Ansar Al-Sharia Suspects Arrested In Aden
Yemen News Agency, 15 November: Security forces raided a house and arrested five Ansar al Sharia militants in Dar Saad district of Aden governorate on November 15. Security forces seized weapons, laptops, cell phones, and a vehicle following the raid. One Ansar al Sharia militant was wounded in the raid and several others were able to escape. Local sources reported that security forces are pursuing the escapees.

Yemen Set to Launch Dialogue Amid Country’s Divisions
Al-Monitor, 15 November: Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on discusses developments in Yemen with Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and his Personal Envoy to Yemen Jamal bin Omar. They also discussed the ongoing arrangements for the National Dialogue Conference, which was scheduled by presidential decree to begin that evening.

Yemen’s Main Oil Pipeline Shut After Bombings
World Bulletin, 12 November: The SABA news agency said the pipeline was attacked in two spots in the Wadi Abidah region of western Yemen.

Related issues

Abu Qatada Released From Prison
BBC, 13 November: Muslim cleric Abu Qatada has been freed on bail after a UK court ruled he might not get a fair trial if deported to Jordan to face terrorism charges.

Government ‘Determined’ To Deport Abu Qatada
BBC, 13 November: The UK Deputy Prime Minister has said the government is “absolutely determined” to deport Muslim cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan to face terrorism charges.

Opinion and Analysis

A Test for Obama’s ‘Light Footprint’
New York Times, 17 November: The eruptions in the Middle East have posed perhaps the severest, most direct test yet of the limits of President Obama’s signature foreign policy innovation during his first term, what the White House hails as the “light footprint” strategy.

Against a Ground Invasion of Gaza
The Atlantic, 17 November: A ground invasion of Gaza is a bad idea. The temptations are many — Gaza is controlled by an anti-Semitic Muslim fundamentalist organization committed to Israel’s destruction, and it obviously harbours many men who are actively plotting ways to kill Jews. But there is no military solution to Israel’s political problem in Gaza, short of some sort of World War II-style Tokyo campaign, or Putin-style Chechnya campaign (or, for that matter, an Aleppo-style Assad campaign).

Stop Pretending The US Is An Uninvolved, Helpless Party In The Israeli Assault On Gaza
Guardian, 17 November: The Obama administration’s unstinting financial, military and diplomatic support for Israel is a key enabling force in the conflict.

Iran Analysis: Assessing the Latest Nuclear Report — Is There an “Imminent Threat”?
Enduring America, 17 November: An assessment of the recently released report on UN nuclear inspections in Iran.

Analysis of IAEA Iran Safeguards Report
ISIS, 16 November: Another analysis of the UN report, this time by the Institute for Science and International Security.

Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict?
The Atlantic, 16 November: An analysis on the causes of this escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

In Shifting Sands of Middle East, Who Will Lead?
CFR, 15 November: Leadership in the Middle East is up for grabs as the Syrian war intensifies, the Arab Spring changes regional power dynamics, and Israel’s airstrikes and Hamas rockets again roil Gaza. Last year, Turkey was the assumed role model for the region. But it has fallen down on the job.

Jordan’s Arab Spring
Brooking, 15 November: The Arab awakening is stalking its next victim, King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a key American ally. President Obama and his national-security team have another critical challenge.

The End Of The Two-State Illusion: Gaza’s Silver Lining?
Al-Jazeera, 15 November:  It is deja vu all over again of the worst kind. Israel’s latest assault on Gaza will kill dozens and perhaps hundreds of civilians in a hail of hellfire from the ground, sky and even sea. Hamas will fire hundreds of rockets, likely killing a few Israeli civilians and terrorising tens of thousands of residents of the south of the country, but otherwise achieving little beyond helping to justify even more Israeli carnage in Gaza and who knows how many new housing units in the West Bank.

Iran’s agenda in the Gaza offensive
Stratfor, 15 November: To begin to make sense of the escalating conflict in Gaza, we need to go back to the night of Oct. 23 in Khartoum. Around 11 p.m. that night, the Yarmouk weapons facility in the Sudanese capital was attacked, presumably by the Israeli air force. There were indications that Iran had been using this facility to stockpile and possibly assemble weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, guided anti-tank missiles and long-range Fajr-5 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from Gaza.

The Wisdom Will Lie In Knowing When To Stop
Times of Israel, 15 November: Israel’s resort to force was unavoidable. But the success of Operation Pillar of Defence will depend on a clarity of goals and execution that were not apparent in Operation Cast Lead or the Second Lebanon War.

Syrian Politics in Doha
RUSI, 14 November: The latest attempt to unite Syria’s opposition, with US and Qatari support, has led to the creation of a new Syrian coalition. To succeed, they need the buy-in of as many Syrian stakeholders as possible, as well as a concrete mechanism for governing the country and bringing the civil war to an end.

ISAF Data Show Insurgent Attacks, Civilian Casualties Increased In September
Long War Journal, 14 November: On Oct. 23, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) released updated figures on the violence in Afghanistan. The data cover the period through September 2012, and as in previous summaries, ISAF compares recent calendar months to the same months in prior years.

Operation Cast Lead 2.0
Foreign Policy, 14 November: Israel and Hamas are battling it out in the Gaza Strip in a conflict no one can win.

Iran and the Gulf Military Balance: Parts I & II: New Eighth Edition
CSIS, 14 November: The latest strategic assessment on the Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Aleppo’s Deadly Stalemate: A Visit to Syria’s Divided Metropolis
Time, 14 November: Life in Syria’s largest city as the civil war drags on.

Killing From the Sky Is No Way to Defeat Terrorists
Brooking, 13 November: It’s clear the Obama administration needs to answer for failing to secure the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans died in a September terrorist attack. Yet the accountability debate is getting in the way of the more important discussion the Benghazi attack should provoke. That’s a debate over whether the U.S. has the right counterterrorism strategy to start with.

Zawahiri Calls on Muslims to Implement sharia
Long War Journal, 13 November: Al Qaeda has released a statement written by Ayman al Zawahiri this past summer in which the terror chieftain outlines several goals for Muslims to strive toward. While failing to mention the toll al Qaeda’s attacks have taken on Muslim civilians, Zawahiri says that the Muslim Ummah faces the “most vicious Crusader campaign in its history,” according to a translation provided by SITE Intelligence Group.

U.S.-Yemeni Terror Obsession Will Not Solve Yemen’s Woes
Brookings, 13 November: Among the world leaders who congratulated President Barack Obama for winning a second term last week was the Yemeni president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. From the Yemeni leader’s point of view, the most important aspect of Mr Obama’s reelection is perhaps the issue of the continuation of a U.S.-Yemeni war on terrorism.

Why Not Jordan?
MERIP, 13 November: The November 13 withdrawal of fuel and electricity subsidies has sparked vigorous demonstrations in Jordan, prompting renewed speculation about whether the wave of Arab uprisings that began in late 2010 has finally arrived in the Hashemite Kingdom. Indeed, amidst the rush of scholarly attempts to explain why uprisings did or did not occur in various Arab countries in 2011, Jordan is proving a stubborn case. Jordan fits nearly all the criteria for an uprising, but sustained protest has yet to take root.

Insurgency Encroaching on Central Afghanistan
Long War Journal, 12 November: As NATO forces continue to scale down combat operations in Afghanistan, New Zealand forces that have been stationed in the relatively stable central province of Bamyan since 2003 have quietly and permanently closed two of their forward operating bases in the troubled Do Abe district. The bases were deemed crucial bulwarks in the fight against Taliban insurgents who have increasingly threatened the security and stability of one of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable regions, the Hazarajat of central Afghanistan — which encompasses the highlands of Bamyan and Daikundi provinces, large tracts of Wardak province, and smaller segments of Parwan, Ghazni, Ghor, Sar-i-Pul, and northern Helmand provinces.

US to overtake Saudi Arabia in oil exports
Daily Telegraph, 12 November: The US will overtake Saudi Arabia to become the world’s top oil producer by 2017. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its world outlook for 2012 this morning that the US will be a net exporter of gas by 2020, entirely due to the shale and gas revolution in the country.

Saudi’s Proxy War Against Iran
Tablet, 12 November: Ethnic minorities, backed by neighbouring Arab countries, are ramping up assaults against the regime in Tehran.

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