To Read: Yemen specialist Gregory D. Johnsen tries to figure out why the US is failing so miserably in dealing with al Qaeda in Yemen-
Why, after nearly four years of bombing raids, is the group capable of putting together the type of plot that leads to the United States shuttering embassies and missions from North Africa to the Persian Gulf?
The answer is simple, if rather disheartening: Faulty assumptions and a mistaken focus paired with a resilient, adaptive enemy have created a serious problem for the United States.
Part of the U.S. approach to fighting AQAP is based on what worked for the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where drone strikes have decimated what is often called al Qaeda's core (though as al Qaeda's strength moves back toward the Arab world, analysts will need to start rethinking old categories). Unfortunately, not all lessons are transportable. This means that the United States is fighting the al Qaeda that was, instead of the al Qaeda that is.
Quote: “Whenever we see a threat stream that we think is specific enough that we can take some specific precautions within a certain time frame, then we do so”, President Obama talking terrorist threats with Jay Leno.
Number: $250m, the New Republic compiled a nice list of things that cost more than the Washington Post.
To Read: According to Frida Ghitis, despite the regional tumult, Israel has never felt safer (and this is something it should use to get even safer)-
As they scan the horizon and consider their choices in talks with Palestinians, Israeli strategists will have to weight countless unknowns and decide how to make the most of this period during which Israel is, in fact, safer than it has ever been. Even if the future looks unclear, there is no better place from which to negotiate than from a position of maximum strength. The real goal is finding the best way to make security permanent.
Quote: “The American stance on an Israeli strike against Iran has changed dramatically recently. In 2012 the [Americans'] red light was as red as it can get, the brightest red. But the music I’m hearing lately from Washington says, ‘If this is truly an overriding Israeli security interest, and you think you want to strike,’ then the light hasn’t changed to green, I think, but it’s definitely yellow””, former IDF Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, discussing the US' stance on an Israeli attack on Iran.
Number: NIS 1.3b, the Israeli government is considering levying a new tax estimated at NIS 1.3 billion in order to supply ABC kits to the entire population.
The Middle East
To Read: Reuel Marc Gerecht gives an interesting analysis of the relation between economic creed and religious creed in Egypt's recent tumult-
…Also, it isn’t clear that the secular crowd are economically more adept than the Muslim faithful. Socialism has been a hard-to-kick drug for Egypt’s legions of nominally college-educated youth, who have expected government jobs. Capitalism has probably got firmer roots among devout Muslims, where Islamic law teaches a certain respect for private property. It’s not an accident that Sunni fundamentalist groups—led by the Islamist Justice and Development party in Turkey—have been moving away from the socialist dogmas of the enlightened, Westernized circles in the Middle East. Iranian Islamists are the outlier among devout Muslims precisely because their revolution was so deeply impregnated by Marxism; and even in Iran, traditional clerics have often fought against the state-sanctioned expropriation of private property.
Quote: "Oh my God, I didn't know it was this bad. These folks are just days or weeks away from all-out bloodshed" Senator John McCain is surprised by how big of a mess Egypt is.
Number: 18, the number of people killed in a car bomb in Damascus.
The Jewish World
To Read: A New Republic story follows the interesting struggle of orthodox women against Ultra-Orthodox fundamentalism in Beit Shemesh-
Haredim have sought to drive “corrupt” elements out of their neighborhoods by making them inhospitable places for those who are not ultra-Orthodox. The victims of this strategy are usually women, whose bodies have become the battleground in what is essentially a religious turf war. And as Philipp and Vered Daniel learned, the harassment can easily become violent. Miriam Friedman Zussman, a modern-Orthodox friend of Philipp’s, says: “I never considered myself a feminist. I didn’t think I had to be. Then suddenly, you start to say, ‘You want me to wear what? You want me to say what? You want my daughter to wear what?’... It’s the boiled frog theory."
Quote: “It is disgusting and outrageous that a speaker at a rally in Canada would call for the murder of Jews in Israel”, Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish Federations in Canada, responding to a pro-Palestine activist's call to murder Israelis in a rally in Canada.
Number: 86, Yehuda Lev, the man who smuggled many Holocaust survivors to Palestine, passed away last week at 86.
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