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ThreatsWatch Operations Resuming, Interview

With the Holiday season drawing to a close and the Center for Threat Awareness Iraq report nearly completed, the publishing side of ThreatsWatch is in the process of resuming normal operations, including NewsBriefs, RapidRecon, InBrief reports as well as other efforts. One of the most difficult parts of resuming operations that cover such vast topical areas is deciding where to start. Much has transpired in the two weeks of limited publishing activity. To that end, two developing situations are currently being actively tracked for in-depth coverage, and other topics will be covered as time permits.

First, US forces detained Iranians in Iraq during raids in Baghdad last Thursday. This is troubling news on one hand, but wholly expected on the other. But as Michael Ledeen correctly notes, the troubling news is once again of an inward source rather than the Iranian development itself. An unnamed administration source in the article is quoted as saying, “It’s our position that the Iraqis have to seize this opportunity to sort out with the Iranians just what kind of behavior they are going to tolerate. They are going to have to confront the evidence that the Iranians are deeply involved in some of the acts of violence.” The question, more pointedly, is What is the United States going to do about it?

A second item that has raised concerns is a Middle East Newsline report (full text here) that the United States has effectively cut off arms and technology transfers to Israel. The reaction has been varied, much of it in grave concern that the United States is turning its back on Israel. This is most likely and overreaction based more on what would be a very valid concern (if the report is/were true and its tone accurate) rather than known facts.

Israpundit has republished a Cale Hahn article which opens, "It won’t be long now. There is a palpable, nauseating sense of inevitability in the air. President Bush’s well-intentioned, but foolishly naive vision of a new Middle East based on democracy is in flames." The MENL article hinged on a direct link between a Bush administration rift with Israel over the Hizballah campaign over the summer.

But much is unknown - including attribution to anonymous sources claiming such rifts as well as what specific weapons systems have been effectively ordered by Israel but remain unapproved and undelivered. Those who know the precise answer to the latter definitively know the nature of the situation, which most certainly has much more to do with Israeli defense transfers and trade with China than all other real, feared or imagined causes combined. Mentioned specifically in the MENL article were various new JDAM weapons. It is understandable that the United States does not want this technology wandering into Chinese hands.

A wholesale transformation on American policy towards Israel – which is what the wide reaction to the MENL story is based upon - is not likely to occur (relatively) overnight. (For instance, consider: Bush OKs Law Blocking Aid to Hamas Gov't.)

I will be speaking to this issue in more depth tonight in an interview on The Front Line with Kit Jarrell tonight on her 10PM EST show, also available later in podcast form. Other potential guests may tentatively include Cale Hahn (above article author) and a retired IDF major, among others.