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Jordan to NATO: ISIS Terrorists Have Begun to Infiltrate Our Borders - Eli Leon and Yoni Hirsh (Israel Hayom-Hebrew)
Saudi media report that Jordan has provided NATO with detailed secret information that IS (formerly ISIS) terrorists are infiltrating into the kingdom from Iraq and Syria.
The British ambassador to Jordan, Peter Millet, said that his country and NATO were prepared to assist Jordan against the threat from IS.
UN Withdrawal Points to a New Order on the Golan Heights - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
UN observers on the Syrian-Israel border are abandoning their posts following the abduction of Fijian soldiers and threats to the lives of other UN soldiers.
Syrian rebel groups now control all areas south of the Quneitra border crossing, down to the border with Jordan, as well as several enclaves north of Quneitra. Yet Israel does not foresee an immediate danger.
According to Arab media, Israel has been improving its relations with villagers east of the border over the last two years, by, among other things, opening a field hospital nearby. Hundreds of injured Syrians have been treated there.
The crossing is now held by an alliance of groups considered to be more moderate and not keen on a confrontation with Israel. The Nusra Front, which helped them take control of the crossing, was subsequently moved away from the border.
Did Iran Stage "Downing" of Israeli Drone? - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
Patrick Megahan, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Iran may have staged what it claimed was the downing of an Israeli drone in its airspace a week ago.
"First, the remnants of the aircraft [shown in the Iranian video] do not match those of any known Israeli UAV." In fact, the aircraft that Iran claims to have shot down "actually resembles an Iranian-developed Shahed 129 drone more than any known Israeli one."
Second, Iran's claim that the drone was on its way to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant is dubious. While there was speculation that it came from Azerbaijan, Natanz is too far from Azerbaijan for those Israeli drone models most similar to the drone in the video.
Countering Iraq's ISIS Challenge - Amir Taheri (New York Post)
Having absorbed the initial shock of ISIS' rise, Iraq is starting to fight back. In recent days both government units and Kurdish peshmerga have inflicted serious defeats on ISIS units, regaining control of 30-plus towns.
Several top ISIS figures have been killed or captured, including "Defense Minister" Khalil al-Mufakhakhah and nine of his commanders.
Abbas Says Hamas Caused Prolonged War - Mohammed Daraghmeh and Ian Deitch
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Hamas on Friday for extending fighting with Israel in Gaza. "It was possible for us to avoid all of that, 2,000 martyrs, 10,000 injured, 50,000 houses [destroyed]," Abbas told Palestine TV. He said Hamas prolonged the violence needlessly.
"The Egyptian formula was on the table on July 15th, it was backed by the Arab League, it was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas then and now more than a month later has belatedly been accepted by Hamas," Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said. "As the dust clears from the conflict I'm sure many people in Gaza will be asking why did Hamas reject a month ago what it accepted today, and if it had accepted then what it accepted now, how much bloodshed could have been avoided." (AP)
Defiant Gaza Militants Vow to Rearm - Adel Zaanoun
Thousands of militants paraded in Gaza on Friday, defiantly saying they would rearm as the prospects of a final deal on a long-term Israel-Hamas truce looked shaky. Thousands of Islamic Jihad fighters paraded through Gaza City in a show of force, marching with light weapons and holding aloft rockets similar to those fired at Israel. The spokesman for the Al-Quds Brigades delivered a speech praising backers Iran and allies Hizbullah and declaring the militants would "redouble efforts" to rearm. (AFP)
Amid ISIS Violence, Saudi King Warns of Threat to U.S. - Abdullah al-Shihri and Sameer Yaacoub
The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that extremists could attack Europe and the U.S. if there is not a strong international response to terrorism. While not mentioning any terrorist groups by name, King Abdullah's statement appeared aimed at drawing Washington and NATO forces into a wider fight against the Islamic State. "I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America," he said Friday. "You have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street," the king said. (AP-CBS News)
U.S. Airstrikes Help Iraqi Forces Break Islamic State Siege - Abigail Hauslohner and Erin Cunningham
Iraqi troops and militias aided by U.S. airstrikes broke through a two-month siege of the town of Amerli on Sunday, opening up a humanitarian corridor to thousands of Shiite Turkmen who had been trapped by Sunni militants from the Islamic State. At least three of Iraq's most notorious Shiite militias, which fought U.S. forces and killed thousands of Sunni civilians during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, are playing a lead role in the ground offensive. (Washington Post)
IDF Shoots Down Drone Near Syrian Border - Stuart Winer
Israeli forces shot down an unmanned aircraft as it entered the country from Syria on Sunday. The drone was hit with a Patriot missile. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Saudi Arabia Ups Pressure on Qatar - Simon Henderson
A recent visit by a top-level Saudi delegation to Qatar is believed to have discussed Saudi Arabia's concern about Qatari support for Muslim Brotherhood elements in the member states of the GCC, Libyan Islamists, and Hamas in Gaza. For Washington, the scale of the differences between the Gulf neighbors could affect the U.S. military's ability to operate in the Persian Gulf region, where responsibilities for action against the extremists of the Islamic State have been added to protecting the sea lanes and deterring Iranian subversion. The writer is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Centrifuge Research and Development Limitations in Iran
Iran's centrifuge research and development (R&D) program poses several risks to the verifiability of a comprehensive solution under the Joint Plan of Action. Equipped with more advanced centrifuges, Iran would need far fewer centrifuges than if it had to use IR-1 centrifuges, permitting a smaller, easier to hide centrifuge manufacturing complex and far fewer procurements of vital equipment overseas.
Advanced centrifuges bring with them significant verification challenges that complicate the development of an adequate verification system. Even with an intrusive system, International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors would be challenged to find such small centrifuge manufacturing sites, detect the relatively few secret procurements from abroad, or find a small, clandestine centrifuge plant outfitted with these advanced centrifuges. (Institute for Science and International Security)