Morning Report: September 15, 2005

Debka: Palestinians stockpiling weapons in Gaza. Debka reports: 'The Palestinians poured their entire Sinai arms dumps into Gaza, taking advantage of four days of unrestricted border transit. With them came a fresh influx of terrorists, including arrivals from Lebanon. According to DEBKAfile’s Exclusive’s military sources, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Jihad Islami and other Palestinian groups have poured many tons of explosives, rockets, RPGs and missiles into Gaza. An Israeli officer estimated the quantity would have kept three large Sinai-Rafah arms tunnels busy around the clock for a year. Thursday, September 15, thousands of Palestinians continued to flock unchecked by Egyptian or Palestinian police across the Gaza-Egyptian border through the Rafah Sultan refugee camp. All the Egyptians are doing is replacing the damaged patches of barbed wire along the Philadelphi route and resealing the holes in the border wall.' Amir Taheri is not upbeat about Gaza's future: 'Contrary to hyperbolic claims by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gaza is not liberated territory — all its points of contact with the outside world, including the West Bank, are still under Israeli control. Israel also retains effective control over a good chunk of Gaza's income both from customs' dues and foreign donations, as well as its trade. The most conservative estimates put the number of mini-armies in Gaza at 22. To these must be added the Palestinian Authority's security force and police, which also operate as rival factions. For a total population of perhaps 1.2 million, some 30 percent of all Palestinians in the "disputed territories," Gaza is believed to have over 100,000 armed men. It is also the single biggest producer of "volunteers for suicide-martyrdom" in the world. And yet Gaza accounts for only 1 percent of the Palestinian "disputed territories." The world's most densely populated piece of land, Gaza also suffers from unemployment rates not seen anywhere else. The territory's largest employers are, in fact, the 22 armed groups mentioned above plus the political, social, educational and health networks operated by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and smaller militants groups linked with the Iran-sponsored Hezbollah movement. ... The best-case scenario is that Mahmoud Abbas secures a deal with Hamas and Islamic Jihad to allow the general elections, planned for next January, to take place. Hamas and Islamic Jihad may end up winning up to 40 percent of the seats in the future Palestinian parliament. That, in turn, may persuade them to switch to a political strategy. ... The worst-case scenario is a Palestinian civil war fought on various fronts and at multiple levels. That could make Gaza a magnet for Islamist jihadists, who appear determined to create "a crescent of fire" from Iraq to Egypt, passing by Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.' (Debka, Amir Taheri)

Zarqawi: War on Shi'a Muslims. Also from Debka: 'DEBKAfile Reports: Al Qaeda`s Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi released an audiotape Wednesday night declaring total war on the Shiites. The new declaration of war is of great significance for the state of the Iraq war and US relations with Muslim nations with substantial Shiite populations.' (Debka)

Belmont Club on Hitchens, Galloway. The deep, acromonious, and invective-laden vendetta between George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens is iconic of the deep divisions within today's Left. The Belmont Club offers an analysis of last night's Hitchens/Galloway debate. Wretchard concludes: 'Hitchens, as will be evident to anyone who heard him address members of the audience as 'comrades' and invoke socialist solidarity is still a man of the Left who has merely remained true to the internal logic of his convictions. It puts him on the side of those fighting for republican forms against absolutist theocracies; and if that is the same camp as George Bush's then so be it. In that context, the contrast between Hitchens and Galloway is less of belief than of integrity: Hitchens opposes Al Qaeda because of his Leftist beliefs; Galloway supports Al Qaeda in despite of them; and to the traditional socialist this can only be explained by the inducement of cash. That was Hitchen's wider and subliminal reproach to the audience: what manner of men would pay to hear to George Galloway? Call yourselves anything, but don't call yourselves 'progressives'.' Read the full post at the link. (Belmont Club)